HC Deb 19 May 1835 vol 27 cc1196-7
Mr. Roebuck

presented a Petition from Leeds, signed by 700 persons, and several others from places the names of which did not reach us, against the Stamp Duties on Newspapers. The lion, and learned Gentleman, in supporting the petitions, said that the desire expressed in them had now become very general throughout the country, and he trusted that his Majesty's Ministers would, without further delay, accede to the popular feeling. It appeared, indeed, to be conceived by Government that certain existing fiscal regulations prevented them from taking off these duties; and this argument the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his predecessors had always put forward. For his (Mr. Roebuck's) own part, however, he was convinced that if the Stamp Duties on Newspapers were taken off, the increase of the duty on paper and on advertisements would more than make up the deficiency. It was necessary that the people of this country should have an adequate proper press. He did not wish, in saying this, to utter a single word as to the mode in which the proceedings of that House were reported. He would ask, however, how the people of this country were to know the laws and the proceedings of the Legislature but from newspapers? Yet the truth was, that almost all the newspaper press of the present day was far beneath the intelligence and morality of the country, with the exception perhaps of some very few cases, among which he might mention The Examiner and The Standard. He wished the Stamp Duties on Newspapers to be taken off, because with them would be destroyed a monopoly which but too frequently was made the means of exercising a most improper and injurious effect on the public mind.

Petition laid on the Table.

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