HC Deb 15 March 1836 vol 32 cc361-82
Mr. Hand- ley, Sir

, in rising to bring forward the Motion of which I have given notice. I regret that I cannot adopt the suggestions of my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Indeed, even if no other circumstances impelled me, the right hon. Gentleman had himself certainly furnished an important reason why the question of the Soap Duties should without delay be brought under the notice of the House, by pledging himself to the disposal of a large portion of the revenue in a manner which I can assure him will not meet with the approbation of those whom I have the honour to represent, and who complained, not without reason, that they have unfortunately been always excluded from the financial arrangements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, through whatever side of the House he might come. It will be in the recollection of the House that, at the opening of the present Session, his Majesty, in his speech from the Throne, called upon the House, to direct their special attention to any measure that might tend to alleviate the distress prevalent in agricultural districts. Of that character will be found the motion which I am about to introduce to the attention of the House; but it is also connected with a circumstance I think will be considered no slight recommendation. Much as I wish, and ever have sought, that the agricultural districts should receive that protection to which they are entitled, I confess, Sir, that I should not now, or on any occasions claim relief for them, at the expense of other portions of the community. And it will form therefore matter of recommendation to this motion, that, while it comprises some portion of relief to agriculture, it will benefit all classes of the community, and give encouragement to a most important and declining branch of British manufacture. It is unnecessary, Sir, to dwell upon the subject of agricultural distress; it is universally known and deplored. But I may be permitted to observe that last year it was not of a more mitigated character than at any preceding period. But as no evil is without its concomitant good, so there is some consolation, I am inclined to think, even in this state of things. I speak from many communications I have received as well as from my own experience when I say that the different classes. operatives in this country are beginning to feel sympathy for their agricultural brethren in distress. I believe that the manufacturers have discovered that they are interested in our success, and that the operatives are at last convinced that even the price of the necessaries of life may be too low when accompanied with agricultural distress. Sir, tallow is entirely an article of agricultural produce; it is furnished by almost every class of agriculturists; there is scarcely a small farmer who does not keep his flock of sheep; and it is to be observed, that the grower of grain can change his produce for some article bearing a higher rate of profit, as he pleases; the farmer who produces meat; (whether beef or tallow) must necessarily produce tallow, which of all articles of agricultural produce is the most expensive and the least remunerating. From 1810 to 1820, the price of tallow was 73s. per cwt., from 1820 to 1830, it fell from 73s. to 42s. per cwt. I beg the House also to remember, that the duty on Russian tallow is only 31. 4s. per ton, and I should have thought that hon. Gentlemen, and particularly my right hon. Friend, would have had too much jealousy of the Russian Chancellor of the Exchequer to have allowed that country thus to come into competition with British commercial interests. Last year, Sir, the duty on lamp-oils was reduced one-half the consumption has in; consequence, I am assured, nearly doubled. I will grant that the principle is so good that, at no very distant day, I hope to see it extended to malt but my object in mentioning it was only to remark that lamp-oils had, since the reduction of duty, come seriously into competition with tallow. But these, Sir, are after all, but mere minor complaints, compared with that which I am now about to submit to the consideration of the House. Independently of having to contend against the low duty on foreign tallow, and the competition of cheap lamp-oil, the best customer for British tallow, the soap manufacturer, has to contend against a system of excise, so odious, so anomalous, that nothing but absolute necessity can justify it. What will the House suppose when I tell them, that notwithstanding the manufacture of soap is one most dependent on science, and especially on chemistry, and notwithstanding that large sums are daily expended for gaining such information as may be advantageous to the improvement of the process; what will the House think when I tell them, that the soap manufacturer is unable to avail himself of those improvements suggested from time to time by the restrictions imposed on him by the excise system, a system which confines him to the use of the same machinery, and the adoption of the same processes, to which he was restricted in the reign of Queen Anne? What has been the consequence? Why, the home produce—there being no export trade,—is unable to compete with the foreign; and smuggling has increased to an extent really alarming—particularly in Ireland, where there is no duty, so much so indeed as to have been brought under the attention of the Commissioners of seh thed I am glad I have had an opportunity of inspecting their Report before bringing on my motion; and I call the attention of the Irish Members to the "Pandora's box" which I am about to open for Ireland. At present there is no duty on soap in that country; and one of the first recommendations of the Commissioners in their Report is that the duty should be extended to Ireland, and that both the countries should be placed under the same regulations. I congratulate the Irish Members on the cheering prospect of "equal justice" about to be dealt out to Ireland. I wish the hon. and learned Member for Dublin joy of it. But let him bear in mind that if he does not vote with me his fair land will soon be trodden by the unhallowed footsteps of a phalanx of soap duty collecting excisemen. Another recommendation of the Report is, that the duty on soft soap shall be reduced to 1s. 3d. per pound. There are eleven millions of pounds manufactured of that article (of which nine or ten million are consumed in manfactures); yet such a system of fraud and collusion is the present system of draw backs that of that eleven millions of pounds, on seven only is there a drawback the remainder being returned as hard soap. Now, Sir, the Commissioners of Excise (distrusting their own judgment,) have called to their aid that great professor of the science of political ecomony, Mr. Mac Culloch. He is asked a question, whether there was any objection to repealing the duty on soap and imposing an import duty on foreign tallow? His first objection (although I believe I could prove that he held at one one time very different opinions upon the subject), his first objection was that it would raise the price of tallow; I believe Sir, however, that when duly considered the disadvantage would be more than counter balanced by the advantages of the proposition. He calls in aid of his opinion, a portion of the manufacturing community, who use a large quantity of tallow in the dressing of leather:—viz. the curriers; what quantity of tallow they use, I am unable to say; but this I know that in many intances they gather tallow by pressing it from the skins, which they are manufacturing into leather; and, though the greasing of machinery must consume a considerable quantity, they have now completely superseded tallow by the cheaper article of lamp-oil. Mr. Mac Culloch comes then to that which I dare say will be pressed on me to night with the greatest force—viz. that it is contrary to the principles of political economy to impose a tax upon a raw material. No rule, Sir, however, is without an exception; and, in the present instance, the exception has been justified by two of the aptest scholars of Mr. Mac Culloch, Lord Spencer, (then Lord Althorp) and Mr. P. Thomson (the present President of the Board of Trade). The first of these advocated the same principle as that for which I am contending when he proposed to reduce the duty on wax candles, and to impose a duty on foreign wax; the other, when he brought forward a proposition for repealing the tax on printed calicoes and imposing a duty on the raw material. But Mr. Mac Culloch gave it as his opinion that to impose heavier duties on foreign tallow would create dangerous dissatisfaction in Russia and probably provoke proceedings against our trade with that country. Sir, I have yet to learn what there is so congenial in Russian policy, so important in Russian interests, as to induce the Government of this country to sacrifice at its shrine the interests of British trade, or of any portion of the British population. I am of the same opinion, Sir, on this subject as the hon. Member for Middlesex, and I beg leave to refer to his authority. On another occasion he said, "To Russia we owe nothing? England takes three times the amount in value from Russia of what she takes from us; and why should this country take timber to the amount of 800,000l. a-year from Russia, why should Russian tallow be admitted at a low duty, when she has lately imposed a duty of 12½ per cent on all British imports, and excluded our refined sugars entirely from her ports? The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has just bespoken a large portion of surplus revenue for a purpose which, is, I think, not very congenial with the wishes of the rural portion of the community Hear, hear], unquestionably not calculated to raise the price of wheat, or relieve, according to the recommendations of the agricultural Committee, any of the burthens pressing peculiarly upon land, peculiarly noticed in his Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne, I do feel, that the interest which I have undertaken to advocate will be placed in a most disadvantageous position if the House do not enable me, by a strong recommendation, to urge the matter upon the favourable attention of the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, the plan which I propose is this: to repeal the duty on soap, amounting to 600,000l. per annum; and raise the duty on importation of tallow to 10l. a ton, which will raise a revenue of 320,000l., leaving 280,000l. to come out of that surplus, which from the liberality with which the right hon. Gentleman deals with it already, I have reason to hope will be announced to us. Yet, as the price of tallow in Russia is, I believe, far more than remunerating, we may assume that the benefit of the 320,000l. will be principally divided by the producers and consumers at home; but as the quantity imported is but fifty tons, and the quantity produced at home is 500 tons, I have a right to calculate that the benefit to the agriculturists will not be more than about a halfpenny per lb. in the price of tallow, or 32,000l. in the whole. Sir, it is true this may have the effect of raising the price of candles, and that is the only objection which can, with propriety, be urged against the proposition. But a penny a-pound has recently been taken off candles, and this plan will only impose a halfpenny a-pound on that article, while the consumer of candles and soap being the same, the diminution of the tax on the latter being four times the amount of the imposition on candles, the bargain will still greatly preponderate in favour of the public. They will gain the difference between the 320,000l. to be imposed, and the 600,000l. to be taken off. I should observe, that at no period could there be less apprehension entertained by Members representing the commercial interest as to the effect of any demonstration of opinion in this House. No detriment could arise to trade from any such expressions as the shipments from Russia take place between July and August. Sir, I therefore hope, that the House will affirm the abstract principle on which my Motion is founded, and with that view I beg to move, that the "House do now resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Excise and Customs Duties, to consider the expediency of repealing the Excise Duty on Soap, and augmenting the Customs Duties on foreign Tallow."

Mr. Halford

Sir, I rise to second this motion in the discharge of that duty which I owe to my constituents, in common with the whole agricultural body. I wish their interests had fallen into abler hands; but, Sir, after the clear elucidation of my hon. Friend, I have little more to do than to repeat the appeal he has made for protection and relief to the agricultural portion of the country. The proposal of the hon. Gentleman, in my opinion, is calculated to benefit the agricultural interests, and not only their interests, but that of every other class of the community. I know very well that we should hear of the impolicy of imposing a tax upon the raw material. I think that such an argument would serve to show the injustice which would be inflicted on the agriculturists, if, under the present circumstances, we were to admit foreign articles of common necessity to the home market, while there is also a scale of duties which affords no protection to the British producers, and robs them of that fair remuneration to which they are entitled. It is my opinion, that the doctrines of free trade and political economy, however expedient they may be in other departments, are inapplicable to agriculture; an interest, the importance of which I cannot exaggerate; and which is now burthened far more than is consistent with sound policy. Unless protection is afforded to the commodity in question, it will be impossible for it to compete with foreign produce; and if we can transfer from the Russian Exchequer to the pockets of the British agriculturists, some portion of the duty now enjoyed by that country, I think we are bound so to do. I have no doubt that the small increase of duty which is now sought for on the foreign article would increase the value of land about 30s. per acre—there will be an advance in the price to that amount. But no man is more convinced than I am of the futility of any measure intended to relieve the agriculturists by depressing another portion of the community. I will say for myself that I am bound up with the manufacturing interest, and am the representative of a manufacturing as well as an agricultural district. It is clear that any injury done to the manufacturers would immediately be recoiled upon the land. In the district I represent this is felt to be the case. In Leicestershire the whole burthen of the support of the manufacturing population devolves exclusively upon the land. My meaning will be understood when I say, that in that county, which is a manufacturing county—a county in which the manufacturing exceeds the agricultural population—there 139,303l. 6s. was levied in one year for poor and county rates, and in that the contribution paid by mills and factories, liable to the assessments, was but 783l. The cost of the candle which gives light in the cottage of the Leicestershire weaver is to be deducted from his scanty weekly earnings. Such an individual will certainly feel the increased cost; but the proposal of my hon. Friend comprises a reduction in an article which is equally necessary; and I support that proposition, because I am convinced that the labouring population will be gainers in point of comfort and saving of expense by its success; that is an object of great importance, and I am prepared to give to the motion of my hon. Friend my warmest and most cordial support. On the financial part of the subject I have very little to say, but if I were competent to discuss this point, I would ask whether you will hesitate to choose between cheap newspapers and cheap soap? which is most conducive to the comfort of the labouring part of the community?

Mr. Poulett Thomson

stated, that it was not upon the relative merits of his hon. Friend's proposition, as compared with the repeal of the tax upon newspapers, that he should wish to argue this question; but upon the simple proposition of his hon. Friend, and to say, that if the revenue were in a condition to spare the amount which his hon. Friend proposed to reduce, this was not the mode in which he should be inclined to appropriate it; because he believed that the proposition of his hon. Friend would not be conducive either to the general advantage of the country, or to the particular advantage of the class whose interests his hon. Friend advocated; and because, above all, he was satisfied that it was entirely opposed to the whole course of legislation which had been followed up for years by successive Governments, beginning with the Government, in 1820, under Lord Liverpool; by the Government of the Duke of Wellington; by the Government of Lord Grey; by the Government of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and by the Government at present existing. He did not believe that the proposition of his hon. Friend had been correctly explained to the House. His hon. Friend, so far as he understood him, proposed to transfer the duty on tallow to this extent; he wished to get rid of the excise duty, and he proposed to make up for the loss of this duty, by the imposition of a fresh custom-tax; or a duty of 10l. per ton. His hon. Friend stated, as the result, a loss of 250,000l. to the revenue; and, as he understood his hon. Friend, the gain to the consumer would be 300,000l. Now, if the House would indulge him for a few minutes, he would, from his calculations, undertake to show, that the consumer would not be benefitted, that the landed proprietor would not be benefited, and that the country generally would lose a great deal. The consumption of tallow in this country was 155,000 tons; of these 55,000 tons were foreign tallow imported, and there were 100,000 tons of home produce. Take then the revenue on the plan of his hon. Friend, supposing his plan to be carried into effect, and that 55,000 tons was the quantity at present imported; suppose that so much should continue to be imported (and he should afterwards be prepared to show that such would not be the case), but supposing the same quantity should still come into the home-market, the duty upon that would be 550,000l. From that they must deduct the amount of the duty at present imposed, 171,000l. and there remained then the sum of 379,000l. as the probable increase of the revenue from this source. His hon. Friend had proposed the repeal of the soap duty, which he said was about 600,000l. That was the duty in 1834; but the net amount of the duty, deducting the drawback, was 736,000l. His hon. Friend had added a charge for collection; but they all knew, from experience, that where the excise existed for certain pur- poses, the reduction of officers would be nothing like the large amount, or equal to the difference which his hon. Friend had stated. Deducting then 379,000l. from 736,000l., the loss to the revenue would be 357,000l. according to his hon. Friend's plan. But, according to that statement, his hon. Friend supposed that there would be no falling-off in the import of the article; and he was not right in-assuming that. On the contrary, the natural result of imposing, where there was already 3l. a ton duty, an additional 7l. a ton, would be to add to the price of the article 20 per cent. There was every reason for calculating, when that was done, that there would be a falling-off of 15,000 or 20,000 tons. That would reduce the revenue still further—making the loss, as stated by his hon. Friend, not 250,000l., but 357,000l. Indeed, he believed the loss to the revenue would be very little short of 500,000l. But the question of loss to the revenue formed but a small portion of the subject as he should view it. He now came to another part of his hon. Friend's statement—namely the gain to consumers, which his hon. Friend stated would be 300,000l. His hon. Friend did, indeed, admit that some disadvantage might perhaps arise from an increase of duty upon candles, and from the increased price to be paid by the consumer on tallow used in machinery. But that his hon. Friend should have passed over that part of the subject so very lightly did certainly astonish him. He had already stated that the home produce of tallow amounted to 100,000 tons; that of foreign importation to 55,000 tons. Now, how was that whole quantity distributed when it came into consumption? According to the best calculations made, it appeared that the amount of tallow consumed in soap was about 25,000 tons. It was supposed that about 115,000 tons were used for making candles. The amount used by machinery, hides, and other purposes was 15,000 tons. Thus they had 130,000 tons upon which his hon. Friend proposed to raise the duty, and 25,000 tons upon which he proposed to take it off. Now, these 130,000 tons upon which his hon. Friend proposed to increase the duty by the amount of 6l. 16s. (which, together with the present duty of 3l. 4s., made 10l.), according to that increase, would produce 884,000l. He then added, of course, the proposed amount of duty on the 25,000 tons of tallow used in soap, being 250,000l., from which he deducted the present amount of duty, 170,000l., making a total of 1,064,000l. Now, he took his estimate of the soap duty at 736,000l., which being deducted from the previous sum of 1,064,000l. produced a balance of about 330,000l., which sum was lost to the consumer, instead of his gaining, as staled by his hon. Friend, 300,000l. Then if the revenue were to submit to this loss of 330,000l., the loss, as he had shown, would be to the consumer. If, to make up this difference, his hon. Friend should propose to raise the duty from 10l. to 16l. a-ton, even supposing the amount imported to be as it was at present, instead of any falling-off taking place, that increase would scarcely be sufficient to secure the revenue from loss; they would even be obliged to go beyond it, and raise the duty to 20l. a-ton, in order to have any chance of preserving the revenue from loss. His hon. Friend had said, that according to their own principles, he could show that they had acted in a manner similar to what he now proposed, and gave as an instance the article of wax. His hon. Friend, with his acuteness, should have seen the difference between the two subjects. It had been said, "there is a river in Macedon and a river in Monmouth," and there was no more analogy between the two questions, than between those two points. There was but a small quantity of foreign wax imported; and when the excise duty upon candles was wholly repealed, it was not considered advisable to continue all the labour, trouble, and vexation of inspecting the import of such articles for a duty which was trifling in amount. He- came next to the article of cottons, to which his hon. Friend had alluded. The duty was calculated at 2,000,000l. sterling; but there was received from it at the Exchequer only 500,000l., all the rest went in drawbacks; and under all these considerations they came to this—whether for 500,000l. they would undergo all the annoyance and trouble imposed, as well as placing impediments in the way of trade, and that for collecting the excise duty on an article calculated to bring to the Exchequer 2,000,000l., but of which the real amount was only 500,000l. What was then the duty of the House? It was some indication of what was likely to be the consequence of his hon. Friend's, motion, that to induce the House to agree to it, his hon. Friend had expressly and distinctly stated, that it could be but temporary. The tax upon raw cotton was admitted to be a bad one. Two years afterwards it was found to be so bad, that his noble Friend and himself had the satisfaction of coming down to that House and declaring that they would get rid of the obnoxious tax—and they now felt the full advantage of its certain repeal. Such, too, would be the case with any tax they might add to the tax on foreign tallow. What benefit then for the agriculturists did his hon. Friend propose by the imposition of a duty of 10l. upon foreign tallow for a year or two? It would only raise expectations, which could not be realised. It would be exceedingly unwise to create new hopes—inducing the agriculturists to turn their attention to other modes of cultivation; it would force produce—and the produce would be nothing but forced—because it would de-depend upon the continuance of a high duty, which the Legislature at some time or other must repeal. Nothing could be more unwise than thus forcing industry, and encouraging a manufacture by a bounty which could not last. But did his hon. Friend suppose that the manufacturers would be willing to pay the increased price upon tallow? that they would not, in their turn, at a time when chemistry was so far advanced, turn their attention to the use of oils, and the possibility of substituting them for tallow? Unless, then, his hon. Friend imposed an additional duty upon oils, his object would be defeated. An hon. Gentleman opposite said, that doctrines of political economy were not applicable to agriculture, and not applicable to the question of soap! Political economy had much to do with this question; and to impose a heavy duty upon the raw material of an article afterwards to be exported, was one of the most extraordinary propositions he ever heard. The effect of the proposition of his hon. Friend would be this—to raise the duty on exported soap to 10l., when at present it is well known it can be scarcely exported, although only subject to a duty of 3l. Upon all these grounds,—that the proposal would cause a loss, a positive loss to the consumer, and that it would not be a relief to the agriculturists,—he should oppose the motion of his hon. Friend. He was satisfied that the permanent relief would be none, and temporary relief little. He would entreat the House not to be in- duced, under the pretence of transferring the burden of one tax to another commodity, to break in upon the system which had been matured and acted upon with such good effect for a long series of years. As to the duty on soap, he would remind the House that that had already been reduced by one-half, a circumstance which, he thought, gave it the less claim to immediate consideration with a view to further reduction; and for his own part, he was inclined to believe the amount proposed to be remitted might be better applied to the relief of the agriculturists, than by a remission of this particular tax. It was on these grounds that he was prepared to resist the proposal of his hon. Friend, a course in which he trusted he should be supported by the House.

Colonel Sibthorp

had not heard a single observation fall from the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade which could be called an argument against the proposal of his hon. Friend, who, he only complained, had not gone so far as he (Colonel Sibthorp) was inclined to go. He was prepared to show, by means of stubborn facts, that if this proposal were acted upon, not only would the large body of the agriculturists of the country be considerably benefited, but the revenue itself would be increased. The right hon. Gentleman had put this subject in comparison with the trumpery tax upon newspapers, but he (Colonel Sibthorp) would venture to say that the labourer would gladly throw aside his book, and his newspaper too, if he could see a good sirloin of beef on his table. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by observing that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought on his budget he should again urge the claims of the agriculturists.

Mr. Hawes

rose to offer a few words in support of the motion. He believed he could show that this question presented a case of sound special exception to a very good general rule, which had been well enforced by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. At the same time, however, he must say that his right hon. Friend had betrayed a very singular want of acquaintance with the practical part of this manufacture. His right hon. Friend argued that an increased duty on raw material could not be imposed without proving injurious to the export trade in the manufactured article. But the case of soap was an exception to this principle; the fact being that the chief export trade in soap was supplied from other raw material than tallow, the greater part of exported soap being made from colonial oil. Putting an increased duty upon the imported tallow, therefore, could not affect the export trade in soap. His right hon. Friend had next gone on to show that the consumer could not be benefitted by adopting the present proposal. He was not prepared to say that the consumer would in every case be benefitted. In the case of candles he admitted that an increased duty on tallow must cause an increase in price to the consumer. By reducing the duty on soap, however, he contended the advantage must be considerable to the consumer; although the total amount of duty levied on soap was 1,076,000l., the amount which reached the treasury, after all the various expences of collection had been paid, was only about 638,000l. He maintained, therefore, that the same argument which his right hon. Friend had used some years ago, when reducing the duty upon printed cottons, would apply to the present case, when it appeared that a very large amount of tax was levied upon the consumer, of which a very inconsiderable portion was available to the support of the state. Now, whilst this was the state of the case in regard to the revenue, the operation of the present system upon the manufacture of this very useful article of soap was equally remarkable. The trade having been almost at a stand-still for a considerable time of late years, not with standing the vast increase of population, and the increased consumption in other articles of general use, and notwithstanding the enormous fall which had taken place in the price of the raw material—notwithstanding all these circumstances, it would be found that the receipts upon the soap duties had been almost stationary since the year 1833–34. He had only one word to say with regard to smuggling, and that was, that that practice had not been diminished by the reduction of the duty upon soap. He believed it would be found on a careful inquiry, that the amount of soap actually made in England was nearly double what was charged for.

Mr. Francis Baring

rose to offer a very few observations on the present question. To begin with the remark of the hon. Member for Lambeth, that soap for exportation was chiefly manufactured from colonial oil and not from tallow, that was an argument which went against himself. It had been said, that the reduction of the duty on soap had been of no advantage, inasmuch as the consumption had been mostly stationary for a series of years. He trusted that no expression would ever he used by him which would manifest an indifference to the interest of that trade. He had only to refer to the reduction of the duty and the Report of the Commissioners who sat upon this subject, to prove that neither he nor his colleagues had been at all neglectful of that interest. In order to show how unfounded the assertion was, that the consumption of soap had not increased on the lowering of the duty, he would only state the opinion of a respectable witness who was examined before the Commission, and who alleged "that a much better and more economical kind of soap had of late been used, and consequently a much larger quantity of real soap consumed. This witness also stated, that half as much soap again would be consumed if there were no excise. For the purpose of clearing up all doubt upon this matter, he would just mention the average consumption of the years 1828, 1829, and 1830, compared with that of the years 1831, 1832, and 1833, was 17,000,000lbs.of hard soap, and 9,000,000lbs of soft soap; whilst, if the consumption of the year 1834 was compared with the average consumption of the years 1828, 1829, and 1830, it would be found to amount to nearly 20,000,000lbs. of hard soap, and 10,000,000lbs of soft soap. He begged of the hon. Gentlemen connected with Ireland to reflect how the proposed measure would affect them. The argument addressed to the representatives of England was, that they would have an equivalent for raising the price of candles on the reduced price of soap. Now Ireland paid a duty neither on soap nor tallow; and the consequence of the change proposed would be, to impose a duty on both those articles in that country.

Mr. Warburton;

Sir, this proposition involves two distinct questions; first, the remission of the excise duty on soap; and next, the imposition of an additional duty on tallow for the protection and benefit of English agriculturists. In the beginning of this Session I was marvelling what measures they were that would be proposed to the House to give relief to the agriculturists without their putting their hands into the pockets of the general consumer. Sir, I see that now the problem is solved; here is a measure for imposing an additional tax upon tallow imported from a foreign country, the effect of which will be to raise the price of all tallow generally 7l. a ton, it being notorious that two thirds of the tallow consumed in this country is of home and only one third of foreign production. And thus the agriculturists will be relieved to the extent of 700,000l., whilst the Government will receive by the imposing of the duty on foreign tallow only 380,000l. This I own is consistent with the views expressed at the beginning of the Session as to the manner in which the agriculturists would obtain relief, as well as with my own suspicion at the time that their plan for attaining that object would be by taxing the rest of the community. So long as the policy of the corn-laws is kept up, so long as any measure is proposed for the relief of the agriculturists by taxing the rest of the community, I will not cease to hold up my voice against them. It is an act of injustice to the rest of the community; it is coming forward to raise a flimsy veil before our eyes, while you are at the same time going to put on a tax for your own relief, bolstering it up by the pretence of taking off the excise duty on soap. Let a proposition be made for changing or taking off the excise duty on soap, and I will not say that I will not vote with you. But whilst I find that question mixed with that of imposing a duty on tallow I feel bound to resist the present motion. I must vote against the two motions because they are mixed inseparably together. With regard to agricultural distress what part of the agricultural body is most in want of relief? which has suffered most during that distress? not the stock-grazier, for the price of wool and meat remains high while other articles have been depressed? It is the wheat-growers who are the most distressed class, and they are just the class who will not be relieved by the present motion? Away then with this flimsy disguise; it is nothing more nor less than this, the putting into the excise 380,000l. a-year while you are putting into your own pockets 700,000l. a year; so long as such measures are brought into this House so long will I raise my voice and vote against them.

Viscount Sandon

hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would remember the beneficial effect of the former reduction of duty, and not persist in refusing the further reduction of the soap duties, which was demanded of him.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

begged to recall the attention of the House to the facts alluded to in the beginning of the debate, the effect of which he, however unintentionally to influence the division, had not, as might be supposed from the observations of those in favour of this motion, called on the House to come to a division on the question of the stamp duty; but, on the contrary, plainly and distinctly stated, that all discussion on the question should be postponed. He, however, felt bound to express his views on such a subject, because he considered it of importance that the opinions of the Government on a measure of so peculiar a nature should be circulated throughout the country, and carefully considered by the House. These were objects which could not be attained by any other than the course which he had taken. But so anxious and so cautious was he to avoid calling on the House for any decision on the question, that in the schedule moved for in Committee to-night, the duties now in force were proposed to be continued. He had said that he was unwilling to have the opinion of the House taken on the question of stamps until the period when, on a review of the whole of the interests of the country, it could be determined what was best to be done; and if he could have abstained altogether from disclosing his opinions on the stamp duty it would have been more acceptable to himself, and more consistent with the principles which he had laid down for the fulfilment of his duty. On the same principles he was anxious that the question of the reduction of the duty on soap should be left perfectly open to be considered when the general proposition as to the manner in which the revenue of the country should be made up, was submitted. When it was said, that such and such a measure would involve no sacrifice of revenue, he said, "Wait till you hear my propositions, and see if I make out a case; and I will hear your propositions, and adopt them if I can." The questions were open, and he was ready to argue them when the proper time came. With respect to the proposition before the House, there was one circumstance which had not been adverted to, but which had considerable weight. The only possible ground on which it could be proposed (though he dissented from the proposition) was, that it was a measure of relief to the agricultural interest. But were Gentlemen anxious to anticipate the decision of the Committee now sitting on the subject? Did they wish to overturn the authority of that Committee? Surely they ought to wait till they had the Report of the Committee. And with respect to agricultural distress, the growers of wheat were the parties distressed, not the raisers of tallow. The effect of the proposed measure would be, not to raise the price of foreign tallow only, but of all tallow, and to take, 2s. or 3s. out of the pockets of the people, while it would give only 1s. to the revenue. And this single interest had, a few years ago, been relieved of the whole duty on candles, and half the duty on soap. For that interest he felt respect and sympathy, but he must look to the welfare of the whole country, and he thought it was not to the advantage of that interest, in the eyes of the country, to come forward with a proposition by which they alone would be the gainers. The noble Lord had said, that the measure would act as a remission of rent to the extent of 10 per cent. to the occupiers of land. Either the occupiers of land were entitled to that abatement or not. If they were entitled to it, this would be so much in the landlord's pocket; and if not, the landlords would get it; so that the whole effect of the measure would be to add to the rental of certain landlords. He admitted the objection to the excise regulations, and when opportunities offered to remove them, he had always been ready to do that. He was desirous that this question, not of duty on foreign tallow, but of the remission of the duty on soap—should be reserved until he made his general statement, when, if a case were made out in accordance with the view of the hon. Mover, he should not hesitate to adopt it. But at present he could not consent to the adoption of a motion which would tend to a great violation of principle, and which must entail great injustice on the consumer. Not wishing then to prejudge the question of the duty on soap, and not desiring that it should be identified with another question which he felt bound to resist, he deemed it but fair, just, and reasonable, that the subject should be reserved for future consideration.

Sir Robert Peel

said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not understood the precise nature of the complaint which had been made against the course he had pursued in respect to the stamp-duty. The noble Lord had not charged the Chancellor of the Exchequer with having given a pledge on that subject on the part of the House. It was quite unnecessary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to vindicate himself from that charge, for it was a charge that had never been brought, and by no man of common understanding could it have been brought. Every Member must be quite aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not, on the part of that House, give any pledge whatever. But the complaint was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had pledged the Government—that he had pledged himself and the Government, in respect to a reduction of a single class of duty, and it was considered unfair and impolitic to give any such pledge before they were in a condition to know the amount of available surplus, or whether there would be any surplus at all. It was matter of complaint that he should give a pledge to one class without considering the claims of other classes. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Don't prejudge the question; don't let us have a premature discussion." Why, what had the right hon. Gentleman done? Had he not prejudged the question? As far as it was possible the Chancellor of the Exchequer had entered on a premature discussion. Not only so, but, as far as he and the Government were concerned, he had given a pledge for the reduction of the stamp-duty on newspapers; the hon. Member for Lincoln said, he was so satisfied with the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that though he desired a total abolition of the duty, he was content with the promise he had received as to this one particular class of taxation, and being ready to listen to a reasonable compromise, he would not press his own view of the subject. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been pressed on the subject of the spirit duty, what had been his course? He had declined to express an opinion with reference to that duty. At any rate it was not fair that one particular class should have a pledge in favour of a reduction of taxation till the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought the whole subject of taxation before the House, and the Government should remain unpledged equally with the House, in order that it might consider impartially the claims of all. This was the nature of the charge which had been brought against the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and from that charge he was in no degree relieved. The right hon. Gentleman said it was necessary he should bring before the country his project in respect to the stamps, though in his project he had retained the whole amount of the duty; there was the old schedule without any alteration. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer was just as much pledged to reduce the stamp duty as if the schedule had contained the new duty. If there had been a prima facie case in favour of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Handley), he was entitled to bring it forward. Though it was dealing in a partial manner to make engagements for reduction of taxation before it was ascertained whether there would be any surplus at all, yet if he could make out a prima facie case, he was justified in pressing for relief. But, at the same time, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer had pledged himself to one alteration, the principle was so open to public inconvenience, that he (sir R. Peel) could not consent to make an exception in favour of this proposition. He adhered to the example of the right hon. Gentleman on former occasions, and he condemned his departure from it; and although he thought that all the interests of the country had a fair and equal right to the consideration of the House, without any positive pledge of relief being given to any one in particular, he should not vote for the principle of this question, because he thought the whole subject should be considered comprehensively, and the hon. Member had not shown a prima facie case. He saw no sufficient peculiar case of hardship—no case so strong as to justify a departure from the course which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had pursued on former occasions. He would not consent to increase the duty on tallow, in the present condition of this country, for many reasons. How could they expect that the portion of our manufactures which depended for success on a foreign market could thrive, if they did not permit a reciprocity of commerce; and if on the contrary we increased the duty on the raw material in which they were able to pay us? He was not able to perceive any sufficient cause which operated to warrant an exception in the case of Russian tallow to the general rule. The case of soap was a distinct one, and the arguments applying to it were altogether inapplicable to the other half of the question to which he directed the attention of the House. The relative position in which Russia stood to this country ought to receive particular attention. It came very little into competition with our commerce; it did not interfere with our manufactures in foreign markets. It sent us raw material, and took our manufactured articles in return. And unless the proposition extended to foreign oil as well as tallow the expected advantages would not result to the agricultural interest, and if that article were also saddled with a protecting duty it would have a serious effect on a branch of our manufactures that could badly endure it. Candles would inevitably rise in price, and were it considered how much this would interfere with the means, and comforts, and remuneration of the handloom weavers, who worked so many hours by candle-light, they would pause before they created such an additional embarrassment to the extensive branch of manufactures carried on by its assistance. By acceding to this measure, it was obvious that we should interrupt the course of commerce which now happily existed between this country and Russia, would interfere with the market it afforded for our present manufactured produce, as well as with the raw material, which supplies an important article for our manufacture, and would also increase the expense of candle-light, so necessary for our manufacturing purposes; consequences which would not at all repay us for any possible benefit that might immediately result to the agricultural interest; and which, looking to its intimate connection with our commercial and manufacturing interest, he did not expect would ultimately be for its benefit either. On these combined considerations he could not give his vote for the measure before the House.

Mr. Charles Anderson Pelham

expressed his regret that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not prepared with something for the relief of the agricultural interest. He could assure the hon. Member for Bridport, that the agriculturists were not a selfish body; and though they did not wish to take a benefit to themselves at the expense of the community, they were anxious for relief, and would seek it in every constitutional way.

Mr. Curteis

said, he should vote against the proposition of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire. The agricultural interest, to which he was attached, would not have the country with them in it, and therefore he hoped the hon. Member would not press his motion.

Mr. Hundley

The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished him to wait for the Report of the Agricultural Distress Committee. Now certainly he (Mr. Handley) should not he induced to bring forward his motion the more because they had received that report, inasmuch as he only asked his right hon. Friend to do what he had already done with respect to the stamp duties, viz. to affirm the expediency of this measure: the hon. Member for Bridport and (also the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had remarked that the motion was for the relief of the agriculturists, why assuredly he would not for one moment have affected to bring forward such a motion, if it had not been with the hope of affording some relief to the agriculturists. He candidly confessed, it was with the view of giving relief to that interest to the extent of the halfpenny a lb. advance on tallow, but he considered the increase in the price of candles would be more than counterbalanced by the reduction in that of soap, and the getting rid of the excise. He considered that the agriculturists had a right to look for some relief after the speech from the throne; he considered it could be granted in no way with less expense to the public generally than in the mode proposed, and his right hon. Friend having already made one step towards the budget, he hoped the House would support him in taking one step further. He begged leave to take the sense of the House on his motion.

The House divided—Ayes 125; Noes 195,—Majority against it 70.

List of the AYES.
Agnew, Sir A. Cole, Hon. A; H.
Alsager, R. Compton, H. C.
Alston, R. Crawley, S.
Angerstein, J. Crompton, S.
Arbuthnot, Hon. H. Dalbiac, Sir C.
Archdall, M. Darlington, Lord
Ashley, Hon. H. Dugdale, D. S.
Astley, Sir J. Dunbar, G.
Attwood, T. Duncombe, Hon. W.
Bagot, Hon. W. Eastnor, Viscount.
Bailey, J. Eaton, R. J.
Balfour, T. Elley, Sir J.
Barneby, J. Ferguson, G.
Bell, M. Finch, George
Bennett, J. Fleming, John
Bentinck, Lord G. Folkes, Sir W.
Blackburne, J. Forbes, William
Blackstone, W. S. Forester, hn. G. C. W.
Blamire, W. Gaskell, J. M.
Boldero, H. G. Gladstone, William E.
Bonham, F. R. Gordon, Robert
Bowes, J. Gore, Wm. Ormsby
Bramston, T. W. Goring, Harry Dent
Brownrigg, J. S. Grimston, hon. E. H.
Bruen, F. Hawes, Benjamin
Buller, Sir J. Hay, Sir J., Bart.
Cayley, E. S. Heathcote, G. J.
Chandos, Lord Henniker, Lord
Chisholm, A. Hope, Henry T.
Clive, Hon. R. H. Hotham, Lord
Codrington, C. W. Houldsworth, T.
Hoy, James Barlow Pringle, A.
Jermyn, Earl of Pusey, Philip
Inglis, Sir R. H. Bart. Rickford, W.
Jones, Wilson Hooper. J. Bonfoy
Irton, Samuel Rushbrooke, R.
Knatchbull, Sir E. Sandon, Lord
Lawson, Andrew Scarlett, hon. R.
Lefroy, A. Scott, Sir E. D.
Lefroy, Thomas Scourfield, W. H.
Lewis, David Shaw, Frederick
Lincoln, Earl of Sheldon, E.
Long, Walter Sibthorp, Colonel
Maclean, Donald Smyth, Sir G. H. Bt.
Macleod, R. Stanley, Edward
Manners, Lord C. Stormont, Lord
Maunsell, T. P. Stuart, Lord D.
Miles, William Trelawney, Sir W. L.
Miles, Philip J. Trevor, hon. Arthur
Mosley, Sir O. Turner, Wm.
Neeld, J. Vere, Sir C. Bart.
Norreys, Lord Vesey, hon. Thomas
North, Frederick Wason, R.
O'Neill, General Welby, G. E.
Packe, C. W. Weyland, Richard
Palmer, Robert Wilbraham, hon. R.
Parker, M. E. Wilks, John
Peel, Rt. hon. W. Y. Wilson, H.
Pelham, hon. C. Wodehouse, E,
Perceval, Col. Yorke, E. T.
Plumptre, J. P. Young, Sir W. L.
Pollington, Viscount TELLERS.
Powell, Colonel Handley, H.
Price, S. G. Halford, H.
List of the NOES.
Adam, Admiral Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Aglionby, H. Cavendish, hon. G. H.
Anson, G. Chalmers, B.
Bagshaw, J. Chapman, A.
Baines, E. Clay, W.
Ball, N. Clive, Edward Bolton
Bannerman, Alex. Collier, John
Barclay, David Conolly, E. M.
Baring, F. Copeland, W. T.
Barron, Henry W. Crawford, W. S.
Barry, G. S. Curteis, Herbert B.
Beckett, Sir J. D'Eyncourt, C. T.
Berkeley, hon. C. C. Dilwyn, L. W.
Bethell, Richard Divett, E.
Bewes, T. Duncombe, T. S.
Biddulph, R. Dundas, hon. T.
Blake, M. J. Ebrington, Lord
Boiling, William Egerton, Lord Francis
Bowring, Dr. Elphinstone, H.
Brady, D. C. Etwall, R.
Bridgeman, H. Evans, G.
Brocklehurst, J. Ewart, W.
Brodie, W. B. Fielden, W.
Brotherton, J. Fergus, John
Browne, Rt. hon. D. Ferguson, Sir R.
Buckingham, J. S. Ferguson, R. C.
Buller, Charles Finn, F.
Buller, E. Fitzsimon, Chris.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Bt, Forster, Charles S.
Butler, hon. Col. French, F.
Campbell, Sir J. Gordon, Robert
Campbell, W. F. Graham, Sir J.
Grattan, J. Pease, J.
Greene, Thomas Peel, Sir R.
Grote, G. Peel, Colonel
Guest, J. Pendarves, E. W.
Hall, B. Philips, Mark
Hanmer, Sir J., Bart. Philips, G. R.
Harcourt, G. Phillipps, C. M.
Hardy, John Pigott, Robert
Harland, W. Charles Pinnely Wiliam,
Hawkins, J. H. Potter, R.
Hay, Sir A. Poyntz, W.
Hector, C. J. Price, Sir Robert, Bt.
Hindley, Charles Rice, right hon. T. S.
Hobhouse, Sir J. C. Ridley, Sir M.
Hogg, James Weir Roche, Wm.
Holland, Edward Rolfe, Sir Robert
Horsman, Rundle, J.
Howard, hon. E. G. Russell, Lord J.
Howard, P. H. Ruthven, E.
Howick, Lord Ryle, John
Hume, J. Sanford, E.
Hurst, R. H. Scholefield J.
Hutt, W. Seymour, Lord
Jephson, C D. O. Sheppard, T.
Johnson, Andrew Sinclair, Sir George
Kemp, T. R. Smith, R. V.
Kirke, Peter Smith, B.
Knight, H. G. Stanley, Lord
Labouchere, Henry Stewart, Sir M.
Leader, J. T. Stewart, P. Maxwell
Lefevre, Charles S. Strutt, E.
Leonard, T. B. Stuart, Lord James
Lennox, Lord A. Stuart, W. V.
Lennox, Lord G. Sturt, Henry Charles
Lister, E. C. Talbot, J. H.
Loch, James Tennent, J. E.
Lushington, Charles Thomson, C. P.
Lynch, A. H. Thompson, William
Mackenzie, J. Thompson, Col. T. P.
Macnamara, Major Thornley, T.
Maher, J. Tooke, W.
Marjoribanks, S. Troubridge, Sir T.
Marshall, William Tynte, Charles K. K.
Marsland, H. Vernon, Granville H.
Martin, T. Villiers, C.
Maule, hon. F. Vivian, Major
Morpeth, Lord Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Morrison, J. Wakley, T.
Murray, Rt. Hon. J. Wallace, R.
Musgrave, Sir R. Walter, John
O'Brien, W. Warburton, H.
O'Connell Daniel Ward, H.
O'Connell, J. Westenra, H. R.
O'Connell, M. Wigney, Isaac N.
O'Connell, M. J. Wilbraham, G.
O'Connell, Morgan Wilkins, W.
O'Ferrall, R. Williams, W.
Oliphant, Lawrence Williams, W. A.
O'Loghlen, M. Williamson, Sir H.
Ord, W. H. Wood, C.
Ord, W. Wrightson, J.
Oswald, J. Wyse, T.
Palmerston, Lord Young, G. F.
Parker, J. Younge, J.
Parnell, Sir H. TELLERS.
Parrott, J. Stanley, E. J.
Pattison, J. Steuart, R.