HC Deb 25 March 1836 vol 32 cc591-2
Mr. Ewart

presented a petition from the bankers, merchants, shopkeepers, and other inhabitants of Liverpool, praying for an equalization of the duties upon East and West India sugar, and upon all other commodities, the produce of our East-India possessions. The petition, the hon. Member said, was most numerously and respectably signed, and it referred to a subject with regard to which the feelings of the people of England were every day becoming stronger. The feeling in favour of an equalization of the duties was not confined to the merchants—it pervaded all classes—the retail shopkeepers and the consumers, who had the good sense to see that their interests would be benefited by such a measure. This petition was signed by all the merchants and a vast number of the shopkeepers engaged in this trade in Liverpool, who saw that the best mode to encourage trade was to reduce that indirect taxation which pressed upon the raw material of importation.

Mr. Hume

said, that an equalization of the duty was as important to the consumers generally as it was to the traders in sugar. He was not surprised to see, from the returns of the last year, that the consumption of sugar was on the decline, to the great injury of the mass of the community. He hoped that his Majesty's Ministers would not postpone beyond this session the equalization of the duty, as the unequal duty at present existing was the source of aggravated injustice to the community at large. At all events, he trusted that his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, or some other hon. Member, would bring the question before the House, and have its opinion taken upon it this session. The hon. Member might be sure of having the House as well as the country with him on the question.

Mr. Mark Phillips

gave his cordial support to the petition. Having fulfilled their engagements fairly and honourably towards the West-India proprietors, he thought that Parliament should no longer delay placing this question upon a proper footing.

Mr. Aaron Chapman

said, that having given 20,000,000l. as compensation to the West-India proprietors, they should no longer refrain from giving to ships sailing to the East the same advantages that were enjoyed by ships sailing to the West Indies. It was contrary to all the sound rules of taxation, that an article brought from the greatest distance should bear the highest duty.

Mr. Wilkes

would support the prayer of the petition. At the same time he thought that they might advantageously undertake the cultivation of beet-root in this country, and the manufacture of sugar therefrom, whereby they would have sugar as good and much cheaper than at present.

Mr. Ewart

begged to say, in reference to what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex, that one of the first things he had done this session, was to give notice, that on the annual sugar duties' resolutions being brought forward, he should move that the duty on East-India sugar be reduced to the same amount as that levied on sugar the produce of the West-India islands.

Petition laid on the table.

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