HC Deb 18 February 1842 vol 60 cc646-8

The Order of the Day for going into Committee on the Corn laws having been read. On the motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair,

Mr. F. T. Baring

begged to trouble the House for a few moments, not upon the general question, but to call the attention of the Government to a practical grievance under the present system, which required some remedy. He referred to the fact of their being no allowance for wastage of corn in bond. Hon. gentlemen were aware that when goods were entered an account was taken, and when taken out of bond a further account was taken. In the case of most goods allowance was made, either settled by Act of Parliament or by an order of the Treasury, if they had been kept long enough in bond to cause wastage. But the case of corn had always been held by the Treasury to be under a different law and a different principle, and they had always refused to give the allowance usual in other Customs cases. The relief required here was not one opposed by the revenue officers; on the contrary, the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find from the papers in his office that the hardship had been represented to the Treasury by the Board of Customs, with a recommendation that a scale of allowance should be adopted. In all cases the Treasury, considering that the Corn-laws depended on quite a different principle from other commercial laws, felt unable to grant any allowance. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether some provisions might not be introduced into the present bill to make such allowance as might be found reasonable. The hardship was really very great. In one case a cargo was destroyed, rather than pay the full amount of duty. The new bill went on the principle of making this country independent of foreign nations. If so, and if it were admitted to be absolutely necessary that corn should be imported on some occasions, it was unwise to throw difficulties in the way of persons bonding in this country, and to send them to Rotterdam or elsewhere to store it. It was going directly against the whole principle of our commercial system. If the right hon. Gentleman should not conclude in favour of granting this relief, he would endeavour to frame a clause to remedy a hardship which pressed most severely on many who were caught by the operation of the sliding scale.

Motion agreed to.

Before the House went into Committee, Sir R. Peel rose, and was observing that the grievance to which the right hon. Gentleman referred might just as well happen under a fixed duty as under the sliding scale, when he was interrupted by cries of "Order."

The Speaker

I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the question has been put and agreed to, that I do now leave the Chair.

House in Committee.

Sir R. Peel

said, he would give the subject introduced by the right hon. Gentleman his consideration, but would not pledge himself with regard to it. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had no right to intimate, as he seemed to do by his last words, that the hardship was owing to the sliding scale. He might contend that under a sliding scale it was more likely to happen, or to a greater extent; but certainly not that it could not occur with a fixed duty.

Mr. F. T. Baring

was sorry to connect a party question with one of hardship to individuals; but as the right hon. Gentle span referred to it, he could not help observing that the hardship fell peculiarly on those who were, as he said, caught under the operation of the sliding scale, having brought in their corn under one duty, and then being obliged to keep it in bond, for, perhaps, two years, on account of the fluctuation of the scale.