HC Deb 28 June 1842 vol 64 cc720-42

The Customs Bill was then read a third time.

Mr. Jervis

rose to move an additional clause, of which he had given notice on a former day. He now saw how inconvenient it was to engraft a new substantive clause into a bill at that stage; but the matter to which his proposition had reference was a very important one. The object of his motion was to prevent any additional tax on the coals consumed by British steam-ships, and thereby deteriorating the interests of this class of vessels. While foreign countries were getting up companies for the encouragement of steam-shipping, we should carefully avoid doing anything which would inflict injury upon our own vessels of that class. His proposition contained a proviso permitting the commissioners of her Majesty's Treasury to allow a drawback upon the duty paid upon coals by all our commercial steam-vessels. This was the more necessary, as it was to be remarked that many of these persons had contracted for public works previous to the duty being imposed, and it would be unfair and unjust, if no drawback were allowed, to demand the fulfil ment of such contracts. There were now 1,020 steam-vessels in this country, and the number had increased rapidly under the present law. It was for the public interest to induce parties to undertake the longer voyages, because the vessels engaged in them would be most effective in time of war. The effect of imposing a duty on coals exported would be to oblige all steam companies trading to foreign countries to pay an increased price at the foreign stations, or to carry coals with them for the voyage home as well as the voyage out, and to take up a much greater portion of their space in unprofitable stowage. Distant voyages did not yield so large returns as to encourage private companies to continue their undertakings in the face of additional taxation and prohibition. The Great Western Company had paid only one dividend, and the British and American Company had been unsuccessful. The hon. Gentleman read the memorial of the chairman and committee of the Steam-ship Owners' Association, representing 80,000 tons of British steam shipping. It stated, that the proposed tax would be extremely injurious to the interests of British steam navigation. The amount of revenue likely to accrue from coals consumed by British steamers was very trifling, while the increased charge would be most heavily felt by the proprietors. It would be 25 per cent, on the first cost of the coal, and 10 per cent, on the average cost at foreign ports. The memorialists, therefore, prayed, that the House would grant to proprietors of British steamers an exemption from the tax, which might be accomplished without subjecting the Treasury to fraud. It would be, the hon. Member continued, highly impolitic to lay increased burdens on our steam shipping at a moment when foreign countries were subsidizing companies for the purpose of creating a steam navy which would compete with our vessels. The mode of proving that the coals were destined for the consumption of British steamers, it was proposed to leave to the discretion of the Commissioners of the Treasury. He begged the House to recollect the advantage that would be given to sailing vessels by the alterations of duties in the tariff, and which would render it very unjust to visit steamers with additional taxation. The hon. Member concluded by moving a clause to the effect, that At was expedient that a drawback should be allowed on coals exported for the use of British steam-vessels, on proof to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the coal was exported only to be consumed on board such steam-vessels, the mode of proving being determined by the Treasury.

Mr. Wallace

seconded the motion. He could not allow himself to think, that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to concede so reasonable a proposition. If there was any intention on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to give way, it would be better for him to do so at once, and save the time of the House. It was the duty of the Government to give encouragement to steam navigation, which was not so profitable as it used to be. He, therefore, had great pleasure in giving his support to this motion.

Clause brought up and read a first time. On the question, that it be read a second time,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that as the hon. and learned Gentleman had read the letter which the Government had addressed to the gentlemen interested in steam navigation, and as that letter generally stated the grounds which had induced the Government not to accede to the representations made to them, it would not be necessary for him to go at any length into the subject. The hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying that the Government was disposed to afford every possible facility to the extension of steam navigation. With respect to this particular measure, when it was proposed to impose a duty of 4s. a ton on coals, he had interviews with several persons connected with steam navigation, and was desirous to relieve them from the pressure of this duty. He stated at the time that he saw great difficulties in the way of effecting the object in view, without leading the way to great fraud and loss of revenue. He stated to them at the time, that he would make inquiries of experienced officers of the Customs, with a view of ascertaining whether there were any means by which this indulgence could be granted them. In consequence of these communications, he had had an interview with experienced officers of the Customs, and suggested to them various modes by which it appeared to him that the object could be effected. But these gentlemen—officers of great experience—satisfied him not only that the proposed exemption would lead to great fraud, but that the means which he had suggested for preventing those frauds would be totally inoperative. This circumstance induced the Government to reduce the proposed duty on coals to one-half the amount that had been originally proposed. In all these questions of revenue they were not only to consider the inconvenience that might be caused, but they were also to consider the opening that might be given to fraud by the attempt to get rid of those inconveniences. If there was any system more than another calculated to open the door to fraud it was a system of drawbacks, carried on—not under their own eyes, and in their own ports—but carried on in the ports of foreign countries, at a great distance from our own, and where we had no adequate protection against fraud. The proprietors of steam -vessels, in their letter to the Government, stated that the whole amount of drawback would not exceed 5,000l. That was their estimate of the total amount, at the time the duty proposed was 4s. per ton. Now, when they came to calculate the extent of the pressure when the duty was reduced to 2s. a ton, they found that the whole amount would be only 2,500l., and this would be divided amongst a number of steam companies trading to eighteen different countries. It must be recollected, that all coals which were placed in depots in any of the British possessions, would be (as we understood) duty free; and the inconvenience of this duty would only be felt with respect to coals that were deposited in foreign countries. Now, he was told, that by an alteration in the places of deposit, the quantity of coals kept in foreign countries might be considerably reduced. The hon. Gentleman had said, that there ought to be a drawback on coals shipped in foreign ports as well as if it was shipped in the Thames or at Ramsgate. But he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought the case was quite different. Here they had their own officers, and if the officer was an honest man, no fraud could be committed. But let him take the case of a cargo of coals shipped at Bahia or any foreign port, who had they there to take an account of the amount taken on board? It was the opinion of Mr. Deacon Hume, who was a great authority on those matters, and was himself an experienced officer of customs, that nothing led to so great frauds as depending on consular certificates from foreign ports as to acts which had been performed at those ports. The consuls might not hare the power to secure proper information as to the facts, and if the Government were to be paying away money upon consular certificates, it was quite plain that it would lead to a great loss of revenue. Seeing, therefore, that a loss of 2,500l. only would be incurred, which loss would be shared amongst companies trading to eighteen different countries, and seeing, on the other hand, a great prospect of fraud from allowing a drawback on coals taken on board in foreign ports, they felt compelled to adhere to the original resolution which they had come to on this subject. For these reasons he felt compelled to oppose the clause now proposed by the ton. Gentleman.

Mr. Hume

said, that in France and other countries they were voting money to assist the extension of steam navigation. Though steam navigation had done much for this country, the country had done nothing for it. He thought it a most important branch of our commercial industry, that everything should be done to promote it. As the amount of duty now in question was so small, he did not think it worth for the Government to throw any difficulty in the way of its remission. He thought it would be very easy to prevent fraud by requiring a certificate of the length of the voyage, the amount of tonnage, and the quantity of coals consumed.

Sir C. Napier

thought, that it would be easy to ascertain the amount of coals consumed during a voyage. He agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose, that it was necessary to give the utmost encouragement to the steam navigation. He asked the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how could our steam-vessels compete with French steam-vessels in the Mediterranean, when those vessels would be able to get their coals cheaper. He had been a steam proprietor himself, and had been so at a loss. He knew how difficult it was for steam proprietors to get the interest of their money. He thought, therefore, that every fair encouragement ought to be given to steam navigation.

Mr. M. Attwood

said, that there was no branch of the industry of the country which was suffering greater depression than that connected with steam navigation. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the burden of the proposed duty would be borne by several companies. But in this the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken. It would only be borne by the small portion of steam navigation engaged in trading to foreign ports, and would not be borne by the steam vessels engaged in the coasting trade. As the tax on coal affected a branch of commerce and industry which entered into direct competition with those of foreigners, the arguments in favour of it would equally apply to taxes on other branches of native industry. Had the Government taken the precaution of sufficiently consulting persons connected with steam navigation, as well as experienced Custom-house officers, they would have convinced them of the policy of making a relaxation in favour of the steam navigation of this country. There was much more fear of fraud expressed than the circumstances of the case warranted.

Mr. Gladstone

remarked, that Gentlemen seemed to make light of the danger of fraud. It was easy, doubtless, to say, that it would not take place; but his tight hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having carefully examined the subject, had come to the deliberate conclusion, that under the system of drawbacks proposed fraud would occur. Consular certificates were talked of, but any one who knew how little authority was possessed by consuls, could not suppose that their certificates would put a slop to fraud. An hon. Member had suggested, that the quantity of coals the steamer would consume on the voyage should be calculated, but that of course must depend on the number of hours spent in the voyage, of which there could be no certainty. [Mr. Hume: It might be ascertained by the log.] On an arrangement such as that suggested by the hon. Member for Montrose, consultations had been held with officers of the public revenue, who thought it impracticable. It was said, that a drawback, arranged from returns made from depots abroad, would not be a relief to the steam-shipping interests of more than 5,000l., but it did not follow that the loss to the revenue, by fraud or otherwise, might not be five, or even ten times that amount. If the proposition for exemption in the present case were listened to the same claim might be raised on behalf of other articles. They should not look at this matter with a view merely to minute circumstances; for if the cost of navigation were increased by this tax, did not the question arise whether that cost would not be diminished by the alterations in other articles in the tariff. It should be considered whether the cost of other articles required in navigation, such as provisions for sailors, were not likely to be reduced to an amount, at least, equal to the increase which this duty might cause. Gentlemen were mistaken if they thought the loss to steam navigation caused by the proposition of Government, with respect to coal, would be greater than the benefits it would receive from the reduction of other taxes. The imposition of the tax on the exportation of coal had not been decided on as a tax which was abstractedly desirable, but for the purpose of revenue, and the Government would resist the alterations proposed on the ground that they would defeat the very view with which the duty was [sought to be imposed—namely, that of obtaining a certain amount of revenue from that source.

Mr. P. M. Stewart

would vote for the amendment of his hon. Friend, on the ground that the duty would prove injurious to the British industry in the race of competition it had to run with that of foreigners. He felt that if this tax were adopted, the shipping interests of this country would suffer materially, and what the interests of steam navigation would lose sailing vessels would not gain. We were already hard run in the race of competition for the supply of coals, and the 2s. duty would embarrass the English interests still more. Besides, the duty would have a great disturbing effect on the steam navigation of this country. What he would ask the Government to do was, to take the certificate of respectable companies that vessels were bondâfide proceeding to particular ports, and that no fraud would be committed in the returns. The Government had shown itself favourable to consideration on this question, and he hoped they would listen to the representations which had been made.

Sir R. Peel

said, the hon. Gentlemen who had just sat down, having admitted that the Government were not prejudiced, but favourably disposed to consideration, it would be further allowed that if they arrived at a different conclusion from that of the hon. Gentleman, such conclusion would be come to, not from prejudiced feelings, but from the conviction that danger would arise from the adoption of any other course. It would be admitted that one of the most satisfactory modes in which the public money could be disbursed would be the payment of money from the Treasury for drawbacks where no direct claim existed, and where fraud might occur. There were two views to be taken of the question. One was, as to the burden to be laid upon steam navigation. No one would deny that such a burden was in the abstract bad. He held in his hand a communication forwarded to Government on the 10th of June from the committee of the Steam-ship Owner's Association, signed by Mr. Wolverley Attwood, a gentleman whose knowledge and acquirements all would admit. That document, after other statements, called on the Government to consider that the gain to steam navigation by the drawback would be no more than 5,000l. This was the whole gain which, according to the Steamship Owner's Association, would be ob- tained by that interest from the drawback, even with a duty of 4s. [Mr. Attwood: The calculation was made on the supposition of a 2s. duty.] He understood it to be with a 4s. duty. While, however, the gain to the steam shipping interest would be small, the loss to the revenue would be great. In the course of this debate, three propositions had been made; one Gentleman was for a system of drawbacks founded on consular certificates. The hon. Member for Montrose made another proposition, which certainly was of a most alarming nature. The hon. Member's plan amounted to this—that an estimate of the tonnage of steam ships should be taken, and of the hours employed on the passage, and that each vessel should be entitled to claim a certain sum from Government for every hour of its passage. Would 5,000l. or 10,000l. be the limit by which the claims thus arising would be calculated? Some vessels were said to consume one and a-half tons per hour. Vessels of this kind would have a demand of 3s. an hour for every hour of their passage, which, multiplied by twenty-four, would be 3l. 12s. a day. Then came the inquiry, how long would the vessel be on her voyage? Suppose her to be 100 days, the demand would be near 4001. [Mr. Hume: Suppose she goes to the moon?] The hon. Gentleman, in reply to my arguments, merely draws on his lively imagination. This is the first time, I believe, he has become amenable to the charge of indulging in poetical flights. But I have a right to put the supposition of the passage lasting 100 days. [Mr. M. Attwood: Fifteen days is the average duration of the voyages across the Atlantic?] Suppose the voyage were to India. Let us take the medium between the voyage to the moon, and the fifteen days across the Atlantic; and suppose the case of a vessel going to India by the passage round the Cape. It is known that steam-vessels often take advantage of a favourable wind, and progress with the assistance of their sails, in order to save coal. Now, according to the hon. Member's proposition, there is this absolute, unqualified demand of 3l. 12s. a day, even for the time when there was no consumption of coals. Suppose, again, the case of a vessel off Nova Scotia, taking in coals at Halifax, would she have a right to demand this allowance? I can assure the House that the determination come to by the Government was not adopted without consider- ation, as well as consultation with officers of the revenue. We cannot reconcile with what we have ascertained, to think that the drawback could be granted without evasion and fraud; and, as I before remarked, the House should remember, that one of the worst possible modes of disbursement of the public money is in the payment of drawbacks under such circumstances.

Viscount Sandon

must take the liberty of observing, that the views expressed by Government looked more like the nicety of the custom-house than the views of the Board of Trade. The fact was, that such frauds as were spoken of, could only be apprehended from obscure individuals; but here they had to deal with great, extensive, and respectable companies, who were above the suspicion of such frauds. Indeed, it would not be worth their while to commit them. They were now about taxing the raw material of the steam navigation of this country, a course opposed to sound commercial principle. The trifling loss of revenue should be submitted to this year, at all events; and if it was then found that frauds were practised, they could say, "You are not worthy of receiving the exemption," and withdraw it. By trusting to the returns of the respectable companies engaged in steam navigation, they would be only doing what had already been done in the case of railways.

The House divided on the question that the clause be read a second time:—Ayes 42; Noes 80: Majority 38.

List of the AYES.
Aldam, W. Pechell, Capt.
Attwood, M. Pendarves, E, W. W.
Barnard, E. G. Rundle, J.
Bowring, Dr. Russell, Lord J.
Browne, hon. W. Sandon, Visct.
Carnegie, hn. Capt. Sibthorp, Col.
Chapman, B. Smith, B.
Crawford, W. S. Stewart, P. M.
Duncan, G. Stuart, Lord J.
Duncombe, T. Strutt, E.
Ewart, W. Tancred, H. W.
Fielden, J. Thornely, T.
Forster, M. Tuffnell, H.
Heathcoat, J. Vane, Lord H.
Henley, J. W. Wakley, T.
Howard, P. H. Wallace, R.
Hume, J. Williams, W.
Humphery, Ald. Wood, B.
Hutt, W. Yorke, H. R.
Lambton, H.
Marsland, H. TELLERS.
O'Coonell, D. Jervis, J.
O'Connell, M. J. Napier, Sir C.
List of the NOES.
Allix, J. P. Kemble, H.
Antrobus, E. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Arbutbnott, hon. H. Lefroy, A.
Baillie, Col. Litton, E.
Baring, hon. W. B. Lockhart, W.
Bentinck, Lord G. Lowther, hon. Col.
Borthwick, P. Mackenzie, T,
Botfield, B. Mackenzie, W. F.
Brotherton, J. Mainwaring, T.
Bruce, Lord E. Marsham, Visct.
Campbell, A. Martin, C. W.
Clerk, Sir G. Mitchell, T. A.
Clive, hon. R. H. Newport, Visct.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Nicholl, rt. hn. J.
Cripps, W. Northland, Visct.
Darner, hon. Col. Patten, J. W.
Denison, E. B. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Dickinson, F. H. Peel, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Plumptre, J. P.
Egerton, W. T. Polhill, F.
Escott, B. Pollock, Sir F.
Flower, Sir J. Pringle, A.
Forbes, W. Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.
Fuller, A. E. Round, C. G.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Rushbrooke, Col.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Smyth, Sir H.
Gladstone, T. Smythe, hon. G.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Stanley, Lord
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Stewart, J.
Greenall, P. Stuart, H.
Greene, T. Sturt, H. C.
Grimsditch, T. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Hamilton, W. J. Trench, Sir F. W.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Trotter, J.
Hawkes, T. Vere, Sir C. B.
Hervey, Lord A. Vesey, hon. T.
Hodgson, R. Wood, Col.
Hope, hon. C. Wood, Sir M.
Hughes, W. C.
Hussey, T. TELLERS.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Baring, H.
Jermyn, Earl Fremantle, Sir T.
Mr. T. Duncombe

called the attention of the House to the change effected by the new tariff in the article of onion seed. He did not say that the seedsmen of this metropolis would take advantage of the state of the law for the purpose of introducing onion seed as leek seed, though they might do so, and by that means pay a much smaller duty than if a genuine article were imported under its proper designation. He hoped it would be clearly understood that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had assented to the position that the duties on those descriptions of seeds should be assimilated. It had been urged in favour of the postponement that the onion was a biennial. Now, he had a list of biennials furnished by horticulturists; and it appeared that clover as well as onions was a biennial—that was to say, they were of 18 months' growth: whereas leeks, the duty on which could not be postponed on account of some matter of form, was of twenty months' growth. The Lisbon onion seed was a seed that could not be saved in this country. It was much sown in the neighbourhood of manufacturing towns. Last year two tons were sown near Manchester, ten cwt. near Leeds, two tons at Wakefield, and one ton near and about Liverpool. He had samples of leek seed and onion seed before him, and he declared that it was impossible for any one to distinguish one from the other; so that one might be passed for the other. The new duty on both ought to come into operation immediately. He therefore moved, that the words which went to postpone the duty on onion seed until after the 6th of July, 1843, be struck out.

Mr. Gladstone

thought, the hon. Member for Finsbury had drawn rather largely upon his imagination in his descripton of what he supposed to have taken place between the Board of Trade and certain parties in relation to this question. No communication had been made to any such parties of the intention of Government to postpone the duty on onion seed. [Mr. T. Duncombe: They made application to you.] Yes, they made application, but no communication was made to certain parties to the injury of others; and as to speculations, the most extraordinary speculations had frequently arisen in mens' minds, but the Government could not be held responsible for them. The hon. Gentleman had said, that the general appearance of the two seeds was very like; no doubt; but it was impossible, according to the forms of the House, to assimilate the duty on onions and leeks; precautions, however, would be taken by the Government against the improper introduction of onion seed before July, 1843. A similar indulgence to that which this proposition extended to the growers of onions, had been granted to three other classes of persons, the provision merchants, the whale fishers, and the cork cutters. Why should not the same principle be adopted in this case as well as in the other cases? Surely, the hon. Gentleman who had complained that small classes were neglected, would not oppose this proposition, because the onion growers formed only a small class. The change to which these parties were to be subjected, was as sweeping and serious a one as any in the tariff, and that was another reason why they should meet with some consideration. The duty had heretofore been enormously high—eight guineas per cwt. But as the Government saw that it was an article of such consequence to the poor, they refused to maintain a higher duty than 20s. The grower of onions would pay ½d. per bushel on the onions he might grow, on account of the duty on seed in this country; but against that, there was a protection of 6d. a bushel on onions imported, so that, though the diminution of the duty was great, there would be a protection of above 5d., which he thought would be quite sufficient. He was of opinion, that a lower duty should be placed upon the importation of the seed, which were a sort of raw material, than upon the product of those seeds, wherever that could be done with safety. He was sensible of the advantages derivable from making an immediate change, but it became the Government to have a due regard to the balance of evils in this case, and lake that course which seemed to be most advantageous.

Mr. Humphery

believed, that the officers at the Custom-house would be perfectly unable to distinguish onion from leek seed, and great frauds would be perpetrated, because onion seed would be introduced as leek seed.

Mr. Hume

thought, that his hon. Friend had made out a case in favour of the alteration. He thought that the Government had been cajoled on the subject. The reduction of the duty ought to take place immediately.

Mr. Baring

supported the amendment. He thought the difference of duty would be a source of constant fraud.

Mr. T. Duncombe

replied.—He denied that the growers of the onion seed required a postponement of the duty. This postponement was only supported by a few holders of onion seed. The Government had been imposed upon. Was it right that the Government should thus promote the views of a few dishonest persons?

The House divided on the question proposed to be left out stand part of the bill:—Ayes 93; Noes 63:—Majority 30.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Capt. Barrington, Visct.
Allix, J. P. Blakemore, R.
Antrobus, E. Botfield, B.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Bramston, T. W.
Baillie, Col. Broadley, H.
Baring, hon. W. B. Broadwood, H.
Bruce, Lord E. Jermyn, Earl
Buck, L. W. Jones, Capt.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Kemble, H.
Burroughes, H. N. Knight, H. G.
Campbell, A. Lincoln, Earl of
Cardwell, E. Lindsay, H. H.
Cartwright, W. R. Mackenzie, T.
Chetwode, Sir J. Mackenzie, W. F.
Clayton, R. R. Maclean, D.
Clerk, Sir G. Mahon, Visct.
Clive, hon. R. H. Mainwaring, T.
Colvile, C. R. Manners, Lord C. S.
Cresswell, B. Marsham, Visct.
Cripps, W. Martin, C.W.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Masterman, J.
Denison, E. B. Mundy, E. M.
Dickinson, F. H. Nicholl, right hon. J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Peel, right hon. Sir R.
Eliot, Lord Peel, J.
Escolt, B. Pigot, Sir R.
Flower, Sir J. Plumptre, J. P.
Ffolliott, J. Polhill, F.
Fuller, A. E. Praed, W. T.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Pringle, A.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Repton, G. W. J.
Gore, M. Round, C. G.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Rushbrooke, Cot.
Greenall, P. Russell, J. D. W.
Greene, T. Shaw, right hon. F.
Grimsditch, T. Smith, A.
Hamilton, W. J. Smyth, Sir H.
Hampden, R. Stanley, Lord
Henley, J. W. Stewart, J.
Hervey, Lord A. Sutton, hon. H.M.
Hodgson, F. Trench, Sir F. W.
Hodgson, R. trotter, J.
Hope, hon. C. Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Howard, P. H, Young, J.
Hughes, W. B. TELLERS.
Hussey, T. Fremantle, Sir T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Aldam, W. Hill, Lord M.
Attwood, M. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Banner man, A. Howick, Visct.
Barclay, D, Hume, J.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Hutt, W.
Barnard, E. G. Jervis, J.
Bowring, Dr. Labouchere, rt. hn. H
Brotherton, J. Lambton, H.
Browne, hon. W. Layard, Capt.
Chapman, B. Marsland, H.
Childers, J. W, Mitchells T. A.
Clive, E. B. Morris, D.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Napier, Sir C.
Craig, W. G. O'Connell, D.
Crawford, W. S. O'Connell, M. J.
Duncan, G. O'Connell, J.
Evans, W. Pechell, Capt.
Fielden, J. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Forster, M. Plumridge, Capt.
Gibson, T. M. Power, J.
Gill, T. Pulsford, R.
Gray, rt. hn. Sir G. Russell, Lord J.
Heathcoat, J. Scholefield, J.
Smith, J. A. Wakley, T.
Smith, rt. hn. R. V. Wall, C. B.
Somerville, Sir W. M. Wallace, R.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wawn, J. T.
Stewart, P. M. Williams, W.
Stock, Mr. Serj. Wood, B.
Strutt, E. Yorke, H. R.
Tancred, H. W. TELLERS.
Thornely, T. Humphery, Aid.
Villiers, hon. C. Duncombe, T.
Mr. T. Duncombe

then moved, that the duty on corks squared for rounding be reduced from 16s. the cwt. to 4s.

Mr. Gladstone

was not at all prepared to accede to the proposition of the hon. Member. Since the last discussion upon the subject, he had been even more convinced that the proposition of the Government would be infinitely more to the advantage of the journeymen cork-cutters than that of the hon. Member.

The House divided on the question, that 16s. stand part of the bill:—Ayes 110; Noes 74: Majority 36.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Ffolliott, J.
A'Court, Capt. Forbes, W,
Alford, Visct. Fuller, A. E.
Antrobus, E. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Baillie, Col. Gladstone, T.
Harrington, Visct. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Barron, Sir H. W. Gore, M.
Bateson, R. Gore, W. R. O.
Beresford, Major Goring, C.
Blakemore, R. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Botfield, B. Greenall, P.
Bramston, T. W. Greene, T.
Brocklehurst, J. Grimsditch, T.
Bruce, Lord E. Hamilton, W. J.
Buck, L. W. Hampden, R.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Burroughes, H. N. Hervey, Lord A.
Campbell, A. Hogg, J. W.
Cardwell, E. Hope, hon. C.
Cartwright, W. R. Howard, P. H.
Chetwode, Sir J. Hughes, W. B.
Clerk, Sir G. Hussey, T.
Clive, hon. R. H. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Cresswell, B. Jackson, J. D.
Cripps, W. Jermyn, Earl
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Jones, Capt.
Denison, E. B. Kemble, H.
Dickinson, F. H. Lincoln, Earl of
Donglas, Sir C. E. Lindsay, H. H.
East, J. B. Litton, E.
Eastnor, Visct. Mackenzie, T.
Egerton, W. T. Mackenzie, W. F.
Eliot, Lord Mahon, Visct.
Escott, B. Manners, Lord C. S.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Marsham, Visct.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Martin, C. W.
Fleming, J. W. Mundy, F, M.
Flower, Sir J. Neeld, J.
Neville, R. Smyth, Sir H.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Stanley, Lord
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Stewart, J.
Peel, J. Stuart, H.
Pigot, Sir R. Sturt, H. C.
Plumptre, J. P. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Polhill, F. Trench, Sir F. W
Pollock, Sir F. Trotter, J
Pringle, A. Vane, Lord H
Reid, Sir J. R. Vesey, hon. T
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Wall, C. B
Round, C. G. Walsh, Sir J. B
Rous, hon. Capt. Welby, G. E
Rushbrooke, Col. Wood, Col
Russell, J. D. W. Young, J
Ryder, hon. G. D. TELLERS
Shaw, rt. hn. F. Fremantle, Sir T
Smith, A. Baring, H
List of the NOES.
Aldam, W. Labouchere, rt. hn. H
Barclay, D. Layard, Capt.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Marsland, H.
Barnard, E. G. Mitchell, T. A.
Blake, M. J. Morris, D.
Bowring, Dr. Napier, Sir C.
Broadley, H. O'Connell, D.
Brotherton, J. O'Connell, M. J.
Browne, R. D. O'Connell, J.
Browne, hon. W. Ogle, S. C. H.
Busfeild, W. Pechell, Capt.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Plumridge, Capt.
Chapman, B. Power, J.
Childers, J. W. Pulsford, R.
Clayton, R. R. Rundle, J.
Clive, E. B. Russell, Lord J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Scholefield, J.
Colvile, C. R. Seymour, Lord
Craig, W. G. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Crawford, W. S. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Duncan, G. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Evans, W. Stewart, P. M.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Strutt, E.
Forster, M. Talbot, C. R. M.
Gibson, T. M. Tancred, H. W.
Gill, T. Thornely, T.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Villiers, hon. C.
Grogan, E. Wakley, T.
Halford, H. Wallace, R.
Hanmer, Sir J. Wawn, J. T.
Heathcoat, J. Wilbraham, hon. R. B.
Henley, J. W. Williams, W.
Hill, Lord M. Wood, B.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Worsley, Lord
Hodgson, R. Wrightson, W. B.
Howick, Visct.
Hutt, W. Duncombe, T. S.
Jervis, J. Humphrey, Aid.

On the question that the bill do pass,

Lord J. Russell

said, that he could not allow the bill to pass without making a few remarks on the general provisions of a measure which made alterations of duties of various kinds, of duties altogether prohibitory, of duties too high, and of other duties, founded on no principle whatever; all of which alterations, he admitted, were calculated to effect a great improvement in the commercial system of the country. He rejoiced that the bill now about to pass was founded on principles which the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the tariff, and the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade had admitted to be sound, on which the late Ministers had proceeded last year, and which, they contended, ought to be established as the general commercial principles of the country. In the application, however, of those principles, there had been a great and lamentable deficiency, in so far as they had not been applied to the most important articles of foreign produce. It was impossible not to see that, to some of the most important articles relating to the subsistence and consumption of the people, there had been an utter refusal to apply those principles at the present moment. Certainly there had been reasons stated for that refusal;—it had been said that a duty of 25 to 30 per cent, was maintained on butter and cheese, on the ground of revenue, and that they could not afford any reduction of the high differential duty, as between foreign and colonial coffee. On sugar, a duty almost prohibitory was retained, on grounds relating to slavery. But there was another article which, though not included in the tariff, was more important than any of the articles in the tariff, and to which the same principles would apply, although Government had not thought fit to apply them—he meant the great article of corn. It had been said, in regard to fish, that if fish could be obtained cheaper, they ought to allow the cheaper fish to come in, and so to enable the people to have better food: and it was said in regard to potatoes, that if the price was high this year, it was in consequence of the bad condition of the potatoes, and that that was no reason why potatoes should not be admitted from foreign countries for the benefit of the people. These were cogent arguments; but why they were not applied to corn, as they were to fish and potatoes, it would be difficult to say. Therefore, though admitting that the principles on which the tariff was founded were, generally speaking, sound, yet he could not say that they would obtain all the benefits which they ought to obtain for the people, as long as those great articles of consumption were omitted, and others, of much less importance, admitted into the tariff. It might be said, that by establishing sound principles,—that by passing a tariff containing a reduction of duty on 750 articles, they were establishing a case for the future, and that they would find, in time, that the duty on sugar, coffee, on the other articles of provision, and, above all, that the duty on corn would be altered according to the principles they had previously established. This might be the case in common times, but the present year was not an ordinary year with respect to the industry and trade of the country. According to the view which he took, it was most essential to adopt some means for reviving that industry, and for improving that trade. He did not think they could wait for one, two, or three years without very great suffering on the part of the community, and therefore, though he was glad that any measure like the present was about to pass, he yet regretted that the great power of the present Government had not been applied to the reduction of the duty on the great articles of consumption of the people. It was in their power, this year, to obtain that great advantage, and nobody would dispute that, if they had made propositions in regard to these articles, in conformity with the general principles of the tariff, that these propositions would have been adopted. What might occur in future years it was impossible to say. The Members in favour of restriction and monopoly had always formed a powerful party, and in a few years it might not be in the power of the Government to pass the law which the present Government might think essential to the welfare of the people. He, therefore, regretted that they had thrown away an opportunity, and that, while effecting important reductions in the duties on a great many articles, they had left out of the tariff articles of the greatest importance, which still remained subject to a duty of 30 or 40 per cent. He thought that, when they considered the present distressed state of the country, they would regret that the opportunity had not been taken of making reductions in the duty on the great articles of subsistence, according to those principles which the Government and the great majority of the House thought the only sound principles on which to proceed.

Sir R. Peel

should be sorry, at the close of the final discussion on the tariff to in- troduce anything of a political or party feeling into the discussion. Speaking generally, he was perfectly ready to acknowledge the support which the measure had received, not only from his friends, but from those politically opposed to him; and notwithstanding the temptation which the speech of the noble Lord offered for entering into a discussion of another character, he would, on the present occasion, confine himself to making one or two observations on what had fallen from the noble Lord. In respect to the general principles upon which the tariff was founded, the noble Lord remarked, that the present Government had borrowed the principles of the late Government. The noble Lord was not quite justified in saying so. In 1825, he cordially co-operated with Mr. Huskisson in the general principles which were then brought forward in reference to the commerce of the country. These principles he had uniformly held, and he had, to the best of his power, applied them to the tariff. The noble Lord said, that they had not applied those principles to corn. But he must ask the House and the country to judge of the tariff as a whole, and to say, whether any Government could have made such great changes in the commercial system of the country with more general approbation. The noble Lord said, that the Government had not gone far enough, and he alluded to the article of coffee. The proposal of the present Government with respect to coffee was, however, better than the proposal made by the noble Lord, and gave less advantage to our own colonies than the proposal of the noble Lord. Notwithstanding the free-trade principles professed by the late Government, he believed the articles of cheese and butter had never been once mentioned by them. Then, to take the article of meat. For years, there had been a weekly publication of the prices of foreign meat, compared to the price of meat in the home market; and the attempt was made to show, that while foreign meat was only 3d. per lb., English meat was 7d., and that there was thus a complete monopoly in meat. The present Government proposed a duty of 1d. per lb. on foreign meat, and yet it was said, that no advantage would be gained from the alteration. With regard to sugar, they were not certainly prepared to alter the duty, and they had rested their unwillingness to to do so on specific grounds, which they thought, exempted sugar from being dealt with in the same way as other articles in the tariff. The House had fully discussed this subject, and the sugar duties remained for the present untouched. He had no wish to revive the discussion with respect to corn, but he could not help thinking that the alterations which had been made in the duty were—though they might not go so far as the noble Lord wished—still very important alterations. He very much feared that the distress in Ireland had been aggravated by the proposal in respect to spring corn; that there had been a waste of spring corn from an expectation of the introduction of foreign corn. When they came to legislate on questions of this kind, they were met by many conflicting circumstances; but, looking to the whole changes that had been made, and to the complicated interests involved, he could not help thinking, that the reflecting body of the community would be of an opinion different from that of the noble Lord, and that they would think, that Government had exercised its influence for wise purposes, and that they had effected as great changes as was possible, without violently disturbing the various interests involved; and which, on account of the long time which they had existed, could only be approached with great caution. If the noble Lord had considered the great changes which had been made, the noble Lord ought to have come to a different conclusion. For his own part, he was unwilling to disturb by political feeling or party recrimination that general assent which, greatly to the credit of the House, had prevailed during the discussion of this measure, and he now bade adieu to it, with an earnest hope that the object of the present Government would be answered, and that, doing as little individual injury as possible, the ultimate result would be to promote the commerce of the country, and to give new openings for its domestic industry. Such was his earnest hope, and if that end should be attained, he felt, that all their labour would be more than recompensed by such a desirable result.

Lord J. Russell

begged leave to explain. He had made no appeal to party feeling, neither had he maintained that the right hon. Baronet had borrowed his principles from the late Government. He merely said, that the right hon. Gentleman had proceeded on the same principles as the late Government, but he did not say, that the right hon. Baronet had not acted on those principles in 1836. With regard to the tariff, he lamented that a more liberal course had not been taken with regard to several important articles of subsistence. He hoped, the right hon. Baronet would be justified in his expectations of a revival of trade in consequence of his measures, as he would much rather be mistaken, than that the country should suffer. As the measure they were about to pass was of the deepest importance to the country, he had thought it right to state his opinions on the subject, but he had not done so with any party or factious feeling.

Mr. V. Smith

wished to state the effect which the tariff would have upon one particular interest—he alluded to the shoemakers. In his opinion, the Government, by omitting from the tariff the two important articles of corn and sugar, had inflicted great hardship on the class of persons to which he referred. He would, whenever an opportunity was afforded him of doing so, vote for a considerable reduction of the duties on corn and sugar.

Mr. Gladstone

said, in consequence of what bad fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, he wished to state that the tanners had complained of the reduction of duty upon tanned leather from 6d. to 2d., which they contended would afford great benefit to the shoemakers.

Viscount Howick

thought the advantage of the tariff was this,—not that it effected a great improvement in our commercial system, but that it showed that the Government had commenced a course in which he was persuaded the House would, in future years, be compelled to proceed. He was convinced that eventually they must grapple with the master monopoly,—that they must get rid of the system of a sliding-scale of duties upon corn in defence of the maintenance of which hardly one argument had been advanced during the whole course of the debate. The whole tone of the argument of the right hon. Baronet with regard to meat and provisions was utterly inconsistent with the course he had adopted with regard to corn. He hoped they would speedily see corn dealt with on the same principles which had been applied to other articles.

Mr. Hume

said, this measure effected great and important changes, such as could not have been attempted by any one but a Minister as powerful as the right hon. Baronet, At the same time he deplored that those changes had not been carried further; but he could not allow the bill to pass without expressing his opinion that it effected great and important changes, which would lay the foundation for extensive improvements in our commercial system at a future period. This was the last of three important bills which the right hon. Baronet had proposed, the other two being the Income-tax Bill and the Corn-law Bill. Now he wished to put it to the right hon. Baronet whether all that he had done would pro duce any immediate benefit to the community at large,—whether this bill would have any immediate or speedy effect in relieving the prevalent distress, which was rather on the increase than on the decrease? He was satisfied they could not come to the conclusion that any of these measures would have such an effect; and he hoped the right hon. Baronet was prepared to submit to Parliament some other remedy for that distress. He saw no hope of relief—no chance that the year would be passed in peace—unless extensive and important changes were made; indeed, he did not think it possible this country could be maintained in peace, unless the Government consented to the free admission of corn and of provisions. His great objection to this measure was that it did not create a trade in corn. While he felt bound to thank the right hon. Baronet for having done so much in the revision of the commercial system, he must say that unless he went still further he would not succeed in restoring the country to peace and prosperity.

Mr. G. Berkeley

begged to ask the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury whether her Majesty's Government had received any intimation relative to a statement which had appeared in the public prints, that the French government had raised the duty on English linen and yarn 20 per cent.; and whether the Prussian League had raised the duty on woollen manufactures from thirty dollars to fifty dollars.

Sir R. Peel

deeply regretted, not merely for its commercial effects, that the French government had adopted the course to which the hon. Gentleman had referred. The accounts received by her Majesty's Government were exceedingly brief, but they confirmed the statements which he was informed had appeared in the public journals. It was not true that the Prussian League had raised the duty on cotton wool. He earnestly hoped that the reports on that subject were without foundation; but certainly it was not true that any such act had been passed.

Lord Worsley

was satisfied that if the measures brought forward by her Majesty's present Government had been proposed by the late Government, hon. Gentlemen opposite would have complained loudly of the free-trade principles involved in those measures. Many hon. Members who supported the measure of the late Government for the imposition of a fixed duty of 8s. upon corn were told at the last, election that they advocated free-trade principles; but many persons who then taunted them with adopting such principles would now be ready to accept a fixed duty of 8s. in preference to the rate of duty proposed by the present Government. He would not say that the tariff was founded altogether upon free-trade principles, but he considered that that measure was more likely to lead to the eventual adoption of a system of free-trade than any measure heretofore submitted to Parliament.

Mr. M. Gibson

said, the right hon. Baronet, in stating the principle on which he acted in introducing this tariff, said it was that we should buy in the cheapest market, that whether other countries were disposed to restrict commerce or not, still we should consult our own interests, and buy in the cheapest market. That was the doctrine which the Anti-Corn-law League sought to impress upon the people of this country, that they should be allowed to buy corn in the cheapest market. He believed that, if the right hon. Baronet was allowed to carry out those principles of free-trade to which he had given his assent, he would allow them to buy corn in the cheapest market, and import it into this country free of duty. He had found, from intercourse with commercial men, that a great change had taken place in public opinion with regard to free-trade. He believed that, by the assistance of lecturers they would be able to be sent into distant parts of the country, to impress upon the people the truth of those principles upon which the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government had stated that trade and commerce ought to be conducted. They had the authority of the Executive that they were teaching what was sound and correct; and if he were called on to subscribe his money to charities and missionaries, he should consider that he did not subscribe it to so good and to so humane a purpose as in subscribing it for Anti-Corn-law lectures. These lectures were attended when no other lectures were. Let them try a meeting on Church Extension, and they (the Anti-Corn-law advocates) would try one on Corn-laws, and the result would prove which excited the greatest interest. The events of the last few months had given the greatest possible encouragement to the Anti-Corn-law League, and they could not have a greater proof of the success of their endeavours than in the movement of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government.

Bill read a third time and passed.