HC Deb 03 March 1836 vol 31 cc1175-7
Mr. Robinson

presented a petition, signed by several hundreds of the principal inhabitants of Nova Scotia, who stated, that they had heard with alarm the proposed alteration of the Scale of duties on Timber. The ostensible object of the alteration was for the benefit of persons engaged in the timber trade; but, judging from the evidence that had been offered before the Select Committee on Timber Duties, he was of opinion that no such result would be produced. If the President of the Board of Trade bad been present, it had been his intention to complain of the long state of suspense in which the colonies had been kept with respect to the intentions of the Government. Some allusion had been made on a previous evening to what had been said at a meeting of ship owners where he was present, attributing certain expressions of opinion to an hon. Gentleman also present, with respect to the intentions of Government to delay the measure in contemplation until late in the Session, and then to pass it in a thin House. No such thing was said, nor did he believe that any such attempt would be made. But this was said, and in this he concurred, that Government should bring forward their measure at the earliest possible opportunity, in order to give leisure to professional persons interested in the subject to direct their attention to its investigation. He trusted, that whatever the measure might be, it would not be founded upon partial evidence; but that the whole of the evidence taken before the Committee would be made its foundation. With respect to that evidence, since his experience in Parliament, he never knew of such extraordinary delay in the delivery of the Report of a Committee. The evidence was complete in August, and it was not till the following January that the Report was delivered. Had the Report not been allowed to remain during all this period in the printer's hands, the leisure of the recess might have been employed by Members in attending to its recommendations, and the colonies might have become acquainted with that which, so deeply affected their interests. Had not his hon. Friend the Member for Teignmouth (Mr. G. F. Young), a motion in a specific shape on the subject of the timber duties on the Orders of that House, he should have thought it his duty to inquire into the cause of so apparently unaccountable a delay; but as that was the case he should refrain from further remarks until opportunity was afforded him. on the occasion of the discussion on that motion.

Mr. Roebuck

said, that the colonies would not be affected by any alteration in the timber duties, which would have the effect of lessening or abolishing them altogether. He had full authority from one of the largest of the Colonies concerned in the timber trade (Canada) to say, that it was their wish that the duties on foreign timber should be entirely done away with.

Mr. George F. Young

complained, that when, on a former evening, he wished to know what was the nature of the negotiations pending with some of the northern powers upon this subject, his question was ingeniously evaded by a reply from the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, that because the negotiations were still pending they ought not to be disclosed. He was, however, anxious that the nature of these negotiations should be made known, for it might turn out that the very thing was intended which those connected with the timber trade wished to have avoided. He should take every opportunity of calling the attention of the House to this subject until it was satisfactorily arranged.

Lord Sandon

said, that the hon. Member for Bath must have been under a mistake, when he said he had the authority of the colony of the Canadas for his assertion. The hon. Member might, no doubt, be in possession of the authority of the Lower House to that effect; but the Lower House was generally composed of merchants and persons resident in towns, having no particular interest in the trade in timber. It was otherwise with the proprietors of timber land, who formed a large proportion of the population of the Upper Province; and he was able to state that they were, almost without exception, deeply opposed to it.

Petition laid on the Table.

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