HC Deb 12 June 1834 vol 24 cc392-4
Mr. Poulett Thomson

laid on the Table a return, showing the quantity of corn imported and ground into flour in the Isle of Man, and in Guernsey and Jersey, and also the quantity of flour imported from those islands into ports of the United Kingdom. In moving, that this return be printed, the right hon. Gentleman observed, that they would show that the alarm which had been excited in some quarters, as to the evasion of the Corn-laws, by the importation of foreign corn into those islands, was unfounded. This return, he had reason to know, was perfectly correct, and would show, that no fraud had been committed by the evasion of the law, at least to any extent. He had taken measures to prevent any such fraud in future, but in the mean time the account which he had now presented, would show the inaccuracy of the reports that had been in circulation as to the extent to which the Corn-laws had been evaded. From what he had heard on the subject, he had reason to believe, that the amount imported in that period was not above the ordinary proportion.

Mr. Robinson

said, that the Government had no doubt acted very properly, in the assurance thus given that the landed interest should have the benefit of the Cornlaws as long as they continued the law of the land. But he should be glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman, why the Government had not applied the same principle to the laws now in force respecting the timber trade? He was not going to enter into any discussion as to the policy of either of those laws—that was not the question; but he would ask why a fraudulent evasion of the law in regard to the timber-trade should be permitted, more than an evasion of the Corn-laws? It was well known, however, that Baltic timber was carried to the Canadas, and from thence imported into this country, paying only the duty of Canada timber. The hon. member for London, who it was well-known entertained very different views from him on the subject of the timber-duties, moved a few evenings ago for an account of the quantity of Baltic timber brought into this country by way of Canada, and that was done with the view to show the impolicy of the timber-duties as they now existed. He would ask, would the Government have lent themselves to a similar course for the purpose of showing the impolicy of the Corn-laws? He asked the Government—and he hoped he should get a direct answer from the right hon. Gentleman, why should the timber be required to pay duty in the one case, and be exempted from it in the other? He must say, that this was done to create a prejudice in the public mind against the timber-duties. He repeated, that he did not object to give the landed interest the benefit of the Corn-laws as long as they existed; but he would ask that the same principle be applied to the timber-trade.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

assured the hon. Member that he would not on this or any other occasion evade a question put to him. The hon. Member wished to place the Corn-laws and the laws relating to timber on the same footing. Now the difference was this—that in the one case the law prohibited the importation of corn, and the Government was bound to see the law enforced; but in the other case the law admitted what the hon. Member complained of, and Government did not feel it its duty to go beyond the law.

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