HC Deb 07 June 1839 vol 48 cc82-4
Mr. Hodges

moved, that a Select Committee be appointed to take into consideration the duty on the importation of Fresh Fruit.

Mr. P. Thomson,

although he did not mean to oppose the motion of his hon. Friend, must say, that he did not think that any good object could be obtained by an inquiry into such a subject by a committee of that House. If, considering the nature of the climate of this country, that House were to legislate against the importation of apples at 5 per cent., all he could say was that he must give up all hope of carrying out those commercial principles which had been acted upon for years. It would seem that no question was now to be treated without reference to party; but he could not forget the time when he gave his support to both Mr. Canning and Mr. Huskisson, without being influenced by the views which seemed to actuate the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The growers of apples complained that the duties were injurious to them,; but, for his own part, he considered this mere delusion on their part. Even, however, admitting that they did receive injury, were not the wants of the public to be consulted, or would any one contend for a moment that in years of scareity, the public should be compelled to pay extravagantly for apples? He had been furnished with a statement on the subject, which he thought would set the matter at rest, and from the documents which he held in his hand, it appeared that the price of apples in 1833 was 2s. 2d. per bushel; 1834, 3s. ditto; 1835, 2s. 2d. ditto; 1836, 3s. 6d. ditto; 1837, 1s. 9d. ditto; 1838, 4s. 6d. The duty was first imposed in 1838, and what Was the result? Why, that instead of the price of apples being reduced, it was raised to 4s. 6d. the bushel. If this were the effect of the change, how, he should like to know, could it be alleged that the producers of this fruit had sustained loss by the alteration?

Sir E. Knatchbull

would hot follow the example set by the right hon. Gentleman of saying anything which could prejudice the fair consideration of this question by a Select Committee. It was a question which materially affected the poorer classes, and particularly those in Kent and Sussex. It had also a very important bearing on the question of tithes. He should not, however, say a word on its merits, as he hoped a fair investigation would take place when the House would be in a much better condition to decide.

Mr. Wallace

Considered that it was only by the introduction of foreign fruit that poorer classes could in all seasons obtain apple-dumplings. He should divide the House against the appointment of a Select Committee.

Mr. Herries

said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade Brad taunted Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House with not having supported him in the liberal course of policy which he had pursued with regard to trade. There was certainly no ground for that taunt, for never had any Gentleman at the head of a public department been so little attacked by an Opposition as the right hon. Gentleman. As regarded the question under consideration, he should not, at that time, express an opinion on its merits. He should wait the result of the investigation which was to take place. He could not, however, help saying that it was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to have refused a committee after the mode in which he had introduced the Customs Bill last session. It was introduced at so late a period that no opportunity was afforded to those whose interests were materially affected by its provisions to offer the measure any opposition, and it was, therefore, impossible to have refused an investigation.

Mr. M. Philips

said; tile reason why the right hon. Gentleman had not introduced the bill at an earlier period of the session was, that he was prevented from bringing forward such measures till after the budget was submitted to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He considered regularity of supply and moderate prices highly desirable to all classes; and in the article of fruit those objects, from the uncertainty of the climate, could not be attained, except by the introduction of foreign fruit. He had no objection to investigation.

Mr. Godson

would express no opinion upon the merits of the question, but he could assure the House that other counties were as deeply interested in this matter as Kent and Sussex.

Mr. Darby

thought this was a question which did not depend upon the budget, but if it did, that was only an argument for the production of the budget at an earlier period than usual. It was the general opinion of all classes, that if the act of last session were to continue in force, the proprietors of Orchards in Kent and Sussex would be ruined.

The House divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 14; Majority 12.

List of the AYES.
Brotherton, J. Pryme, G.
Darby, George Rice, T. S.
Godson, R. Sheppard, T.
Grimsditch, T. Stuart, R.
Herries, J. C. Talfourd, T. N.
Hurt, W. Thomson, C. P.
Ingham, Robert Turner, William
Enatchbull, Sir E. Wilde, Thomas
Mahon, Lord Williams, W. A.
Morris, D. Wood, G. W.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Yates, J. A.
Palmer C. F.
Philips, M. TELLERS.
Pigot, D. R. Filmer, Sir E.
Plumptre, J. P. Hodges, T. L.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Bewes, T.
Blake, M. J. Redington, T. N.
Clements, Lord Roche, Sir D.
Gibson, Thomas Rundle, J.
Hastie, A. Thornely, Thomas
Hawes, B.
Lushington, rt. hon. S. TELLERS.
Lushington, G. Wallace, R.
Marsland, H. Hobhouse, T. B.