HC Deb 12 June 1843 vol 69 cc1354-92
Sir George Clerk

moved that the House resolve itself into a committee of Ways and Means,

Viscount Howick

rose to propose the amendment of which he had given notice, and to bring under the consideration of the House the propriety of repealing the law with reference to the exportation of coals, which was imposed during the last Session of Parliament. He felt that he was bound to make some apology to the House for the manner in which he brought this subject forward. He was most averse to make such a proposition by way of amendment to the motion for a committee of supply, or ways and means, and so interrupting the course of public business; but it was of the greatest importance to the persons engaged in the coal trade, that the views of the Government, and the opinion of that House should be imme- diately made known as to the course intended to be pursued with reference to the permanence of the existing tax. But for circumstances, however, which had occurred, he alluded to the failure of a large house on Thursday, and the recently expressed determination of the Government to appropriate to themselves every day in the week but one for public business, he should not have adopted this mode of proceeding; but, considering those circumstances, he felt it to be his duty to bring forward his motion without delay; and he was encouraged in this course by the consideration that it would not be very inconvenient to the Government. In introducing the subject, he begged to intimate that his object was to repeal the tax imposed during the last Session of Parliament. According to the forms of the House such a motion could only originate in a committee of the whole House. In considering such a question, it would be right that they should look to the grounds on which the tax had been imposed. And he begged to remark, that it had not been imposed for the purpose of checking the trade in the exportation of coal—it was not the intention of the Legislature to discourage that trade, under the impression that the supply of British coal was likely to be exhausted after the expiration of a short time, and that we should, therefore, economise the consumption as much as possible. It had been calculated that the supply of coal in the north was amply sufficient to last for 1,700 years; and an eminent geologist, who had sought to controvert this proposition, had himself admitted that, taking into consideration the coal fields of Wales, the total supply would be amply sufficient for 2,000 years to come. They had not been called upon, therefore, to impose this tax with a view to prevent that which might prove injurious to this country; but, on the contrary, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Gladstone), had expressly stated their belief that so small a duty as that which was proposed would have no operation in checking the foreign demand for this most important article of export The right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Treasury, in his celebrated speech in introducing the budget on the 11th March, 1842, had said:— I cannot conceive any more legitimate object of duty than coal exported to foreign countries. I speak of a reasonable and just duty, and I say, that a tax levied on an article produced in this country—an element of manufactures, necessary to manufactures, contributing by its export to increase the competition with our own manufactures—I think that a tax on such article is a perfectly legitimate source of revenue. I wish not at all to prohibit the export of coals, but I propose that the duty at first intended to be levied on coals exported in foreign ships should be paid, and with this view I propose that the duty of 4s. a ton shall be levied on coal exported in British as well as in foreign ships; thus removing the exemption which, under the reciprocity system, the foreign ships claim, and also removing all grounds of complaint. If the duty of 4s. shall be paid on the same number of tons as are now exported, I shall then derive an annual amount from this source of revenue of 200,000l.—not an inconsiderable increase of revenue, and operating, as few taxes do, to the encouragement of native industry. Those who were opposed to the proposition, had declared their belief that these views were most erroneous. They had shown, that the repeal of the export duties had been adopted on the recommendation of a committee to which had been referred the state of the trade and manufactures of this country, on the ground that that step would be the means of creating a very valuable trade; they had shown, that since that repeal the extent of the foreign trade in coal had rapidly increased—a circumstance attributable to the larger demand for coals on the continent, owing to the increase of the use of gas, and steam, and manufactures; that the exportation to France in eight years had increased tenfold: that there was no monopoly in the trade, aud that it was not without difficulty that they maintained their price in the foreign market, but they had raised their voices in vain, and in spite of their assurances of the ill effects of such a measure, the tax was carried. The right hon. Baronet had said:— The export of coals was in the year 1836, 916,000 tons; and in 1838, it amounted to 1,313,000 tons. This is strong indication that the article would bear a small duty, and I doubt whether a 2s. and a 1s. duty will have any effect in reducing the exports. Every town on the continent is now, or about to be, lighted with coal-gas, and the English coal is peculiarly adapted for that purpose. The conviction of the fallacy of these arguments had struck the minds of all men engaged in the coal trade, and if the calculations of the Government as to the increase in the trade should turn out to be fallacious, he thought that it would be admitted that it was the duty of the House to repeal the tax which had been imposed. How stood the facts? It had been said, that the tax met with the consent of the trade. He, however, was not there to make the present motion of his own accord. He had proposed it in consequence of the expressed wishes of the trade. He held in his hand a resolution arrived at by a committee which had sat at Newcastle for the management of the coal trade of Northumberland and Durham. He would not trouble the House with the terms in which it was couched; but they were extremely urgent in their demand that he should bring forward this motion. He had entertained a strong opinion upon the necessity of the repeal of this duty, but he had not ventured to take any step with that view, without taking the opinion of these gentlemen in the first instance. He had presented on that evening, and several hon. Gentlemen had, on previous occasions presented petitions from the trade, framed in the strongest terms of condemnation of this measure; and he thought, therefore, he might take the suggested assent of the trade to the proposition of the Government as being altogether disposed of. And finding that the persons interested in the question with one voice declared that this tax had been most injurious to their trade, let him ask whether their statement was not supported by the evidence which he should be prepared to adduce. The return for which he had moved, afforded very important information on this point. He found by that return that the trade had continued to increase, and that in 1841 it had reached 1,500,000 tons, exclusive of the exports to British possessions; but that in the last half-year of 1842, it had only reached 598,000 tons, being a falling-off of 153,000 tons on the half-year. But probably, the fairest comparison which could be instituted would be between the quarters ending April, 1842, and April, 1843, In the quarter ending April, 1842, the exports of coals to foreign countries reached 389,000 tons, while in that ending April, 1843, it bad fallen to 259,000 tons, that was a deficiency of 129,000 tons, or rather more than one-third the amount exported in the corresponding quarter before the imposition of this tax. But he did not rely on the mere evidence of the actual falling-off of the exports of coals. He had received some evidence as to the state of the prospects of this question; and he hoped, that he should not weary the House by bringing it forward. He should read to the House extracts of various letters which he had received, which appeared to him to be of very considerable importance. The first letter was from a gentleman who had the principal direction of one of the largest colliery estates in the north of England. His letter was dated 17th of May, and he wrote:— We have on hand 12,000 tons of oversea coals, round, besides small, lying at the pit's mouth, wrought since the 1st of January, expressly for exportation; and at this period last year we had not one ton, although we have wrought a smaller quantity during the present year than in the same period of the years 1841 and 1842. He wrote again on the 31st of May, saying— Our trade at Sunderland has fallen away very much. Our heaps are daily increasing at the pit's mouth. I would recommend the dismissal of two hundred men and boys till heavy stocks in hand should be got rid of, but that they would have not the slightest chance of getting a day's work, great numbers being already out of work, and applying for relief, and that having nearly all gained settlements, they would have to be maintained at any rate. At present, I have a great number of orders for coals from France, but limiting the price of the coal and freight to such an amount as prevents me fulfilling them, the foreigner pays the duty here, which, if he was exempted from, would enable him to offer so much more price as would afford me the means of executing his commission. In another letter he expressed himself thus:— Our correspondents in France, Germany, &c, buy the coals from us here at a certain price free on board, and authorise us to procure ships here at a certain freight per chaldron, and the limits which they have placed upon us this year are 10 per cent lower than last. These statements were confirmed by other persons; and a gentleman who was engaged as the agent at Marseilles of a large house at Newcastle, long before any expectation of the imposition of such a tax was entertained, and in a general business letter, thus wrote— Notwithstanding the small number of vessels which have arrived here since the month of January, prices have not improved with us as the demand for English coal has decidedly fallen off very much. This is to be attributed to an amelioration which has taken place lately in the quality of the French coals, which are extracted in this neighbourhood, and who can afford to supply consumers at a price lower than what English coals can with profit be imported; there is no manner of doubt but that the export duty is very prejudicial to the English exporters, for we have not in one single instance seen prices rise in comparison with the duty, and upon so poor an article such a taxation as 2s. must fall very heavily, Parliament, in the last year, had relied on the supposed impossibility of foreign countries competing with us in the article of coals; it was in vain that they had been warned that by the imposition of such a tax as was proposed, they were holding out a strong inducement to the foreign producer to raise and bring forward his own coals; this letter distinctly showed how completely true this warning had been, and how much they had miscalculated the consequences of their acts. He had received another letter, an extract of which he would read to the House from a gentleman at Glasgow, largely engaged in trade: — English coal is cheaper in all the French markets than last year; the coalowner and shipowner have been obliged to pay, not only the duty, but a further reduction has been necessary to meet the increasing competition. When I say all the markets, I mean those with which I am daily in intercourse, say Bordcaux, Rouen, &c. I consider we have about lost the Dutch trade altogether. My partner at Stockton went over to close a contract of importance, but the proprietors of the German collieries got it. He left Amsterdam four or five weeks ago, without getting an order in the place. He had several other letters to the same effect, with which he did not feel it necessary, after the strong testimony which he had already furnished, to trouble the House. But there was one remark which he felt it right to make. He had heard it suggested that it was impossible that a duty so small in amount as this could produce any serious consequences. He believed that this observation arose from an entire misconception of the case. There was not only the fact of the necessary additional cost arising out of the collection of the duty, but also the fact that the trade had been already subject to such competition that a very small addition in price would be more than could now be borne. A memorial had been presented to the right hon. Baronet in the course of the last year, remonstrating against the proposed tax. This memorial had been subsequently printed, and it stated that by this tax the small coal would be com pletely driven out of the market. At the present time this small coal, which was formerly exported, was being sold at Newcastle at from 1s. 3d. to 1s. 6d. the ton. It appeared from a communication which he held in his hand, The small coals exported are chiefly screened from the coals wrought for home consumption, and must either be sold or burnt at the pit, and, therefore, the coalowner is glad to take any price for this description rather than have them burnt at the colliery, which frequently subjects him to considerable expense from the damage done to the adjoining land and crops; therefore, any price is taken rather than suffer them to be burnt, that will defray something more than the expense of leading them to the place of shipment, so that collieries at a great distance are still obliged to burn immense quantities. I was at Langley the other day, and very large quantities are being heaped up at the collieries in that neighbourhood, which this mild and wet weather will cause to ignite spontaneously. The effect of the duty was then to induce the coal-owner to destroy a great portion of this valuable fuel, as it would not pay the tax, and the expense of moving to the place of exportation. He did not know how it was possible to make out a stronger case that the imposition of this tax had had the effect of discouraging the coal trade. He showed that the duty existed formerly, and was repealed nine years ago, and from that time the existence of the export trade in coal might be dated. The principle then adopted had fully answered the purpose proposed, and the trade had made gradual springs, and had every year increased. The right hon. Baronet, last year, had endeavoured to show that the imposition of this tax was politic, because this export coal trade was an increasing trade, and that the constantly increasing disposition that was manifested abroad for the use of steam and gas should operate with the House to impose ths tax; but he had proved the fallacious nature of these arguments, when he had shown that the export trade in coal had fallen off one-third since the tax was imposed, and that there were now large orders for coal that had been sent to this country that could be executed but for the existence of this duty; and, also, that the French market, which formerly was the most valuable market for our coal, had, since the imposition of the duty, fallen off one-half, and that this important trade with France, which had increased ten-fold in six years, had fallen off one-half in six months; and, also, that the Dutch trade in coal, which was our next most valuable foreign coal trade, had fallen off almost entirely. He would, therefore, ask whether this duty, which the right hon. Gentleman distinctly declared was never meant to cheek or discourage the trade, had not had the effect of doing so. And be it observed, too, that the mischief was only just beginning. It was a trade which grew up by degrees, and would not fall off at once. To increase the supply of coal abroad, it was necessary to increase the facilities for sinking pits, and by making railroads and water conveyances, to afford easier access to the markets; and to do this, much time was necessarily required. No doubt all these circumstances were in operation when the duty was imposed, but still this duty would operate as a most powerful stimulus to them, and that which we were now only beginning to feel from opening of coalfields in France and Belgium, and Germany and Spain, would soon be most strongly experienced. It was well known that large capitals had been expended in producing coals in these countries and in conveying them to the places of consumption, and you might depend upon it that you would continue to feel more and more the effect of this pernicious duty in the encouragement and stimulus which it would give to the producers of coal in the countries he had alluded to. Do not suppose that when you feel the full effect of the operation of this tax that you will get rid of the consequences by merely repealing the duty. Far from it. There was a great difference between keeping a trade, and getting one back which you had lost. When you possessed a trade of this kind, the advantages were all of your side. There was an established connection, and your foreign customers were accustomed to look to you for the supply of the article, and to depend on you in their dealings and purchases. But when once you lost a trade, and afterwards sought to recover it, then the foreigner had all the advantage, and you had all possible difficulties in reacquiring a trade which had once been lost. This was particularly the case with regard to the coal trade, which never could be created, or carried on, without the investment of a large capital. It was well known that large sums had been recently invested in opening coal fields on the continent, and this tax would operate as a stimulus to this branch of industry in Belgium, Westphalia, and the South of France. The direct effect must be to encourage parties in these countries to embark in more extensive operations. It should be remembered, also, that when capital was invested in a pursuit of this kind, that it could not be withdrawn; and, although the coal might he sold at prices that would not pay in a distant market, still the owner of the mine would continue to work it at little or no profit. In some cases they would be glad to sell at any prices that they could obtain, as they would prefer working their mines on the chance of better returns at some future period. Was not this the case with the home market at the present time? How many collieries had been opened by parties who deeply regretted ever having expended their capital for such a purpose. The result, however, was, that they were obliged to make the best they could of a bad bargain, and sell their coal for what they could get. He believed, that almost every hon. Gentleman connected with the north of England could mention cases of this kind as coming within his own personal knowledge. By adopting this step, then, this country was tempting the foreigner to enter into "further competition with us, and which he could not maintain if the Government at once made a reduction in this duty. He repeated, that he believed that this duty would, within a short time, produce a most pernicious effect on the trade of this country. The right hon. Gentleman had received a warning on the subject at the time when he proposed the tax. The right hon. Gentleman must have seen the consequences of a similar error on the part of the Neapolitan government with respect to the sulphur trade. The events that had occurred in the proceedings of the sulphur trade in Naples must surely have been pregnant with instruction to the Government. The Neapolitan government, and nearly all the world besides, believed that that kingdom had a monopoly of the supply of sulphur, and an attempt was made to tax the consumers of sulphur in this country, by imposing a heavy tax on its exportation from Sicily. But what had been the effect of this? the ingenuity of our manufacturers and chemists was stimulated, and it never rested until they succeeded in manufacturing sulphur in this country; and when the government of Naples found out this, and although it instantly retraced its steps, still the sulphur produced in this country now successfully competed with that imported from Naples. This was a satisfactory proof of the impolicy and inexpediency of imposing atax on the exportation of an article to foreign countries, because you believe you possess peculiar advantages in producing it. There was a natural reluctance in all nations against being taxed in this way for the advantage of the country from whence it obtained supplies. There was a proof of this afforded in the proceedings which grew out of the conduct of the Neapolitan government with regard to the sulphur trade. The natural effect of imposing such a duty, was to create an indisposition in foreign countries to carry on this trade with us. The right hon. Gentleman, when he proposed this tax, laid great stress on the fact, that foreign countries laid a tax on the import of our coal into their territories; but a foreign country was perfectly justified in doing this, and although they were likely to be the sufferers by imposing a tax on raw produce, the case was very different from an export duty; he therefore would ask whether it was not most inexpedient to lay a tax on this side the water on coal, which it was expected the people of the continent would consume? He had alluded to the injurious effect of this tax on the export trade in coal, but it was also most injurious to the working population, and to the general trade of the country. Now, as to the effect of this tax on the state of the population of the country. He found it stated in a communication which he had already quoted from a gentleman who had been the director of one of the very largest collieries in the north of England, that the effect of the falling-off of the export trade in coal had been to lead to the lowering the wages of labour 20 per cent., a diminution which every man must regret. He was informed in a communication dated the 30th of April, that there had been a reduction of from 20 to 70 per cent, in the wages of the men employed in working coal for exportation. The effect of this was not confined to them, but affected all the persons employed in the trade, in the same way as he had pointed out with regard to its effects on the shipping interest. By increasing the competition amongst those employed in working for the home trade, you increased the difficulties which were already entailed in this trade. It was notorious, that the coal trade had for a long time been in a state of depression, and this impolitic tax had increased it, which was intended to impose a duty on the export trade to foreign countries. In a letter dated the 17th of May, the writer stated, that the distress of the working population had increased, in consequence of its having been found necessary to work short time, and with a further reduction in price. This state of distress had produced its constant effect and attendant—namely, discontent, and he was assured that attempts had been made by the workmen to organise a union, with the view of promoting a strike, so as to extort from their masters larger wages than he feared, it was possible for them to give. He was informed of this attempt some time ago, and he had received a letter dated the 6th of June, confirming this, and containing information which was not undeserving of attention. His correspondent observed that:— You are aware of the patience with which the workmen have hitherto borne it; but now that a union was in the course of formation, a great portion of the men had already joined it. His correspondent attributed this state of things entirely to the scarcity of employment, and which had been greatly increased since April last, and it was calculated that from the short time the men were working, that they were not making more than eight or nine days in a fortnight, and at the present moment there were 14,000 or 15,000 tons of coal waiting for the foreign market. He had previously mentioned, that in April there were 12,000 tons waiting for exportation; but this letter of the 6th of June stated that the quantity of coal for exportation in hand had increased to 15,000 tons, for which there was no demand. Under these circumstances, although the coalowners had every desire to give full employment, and to keep up wages, it was impossible for them to maintain the labouring classes in the state which they anxiously wished. Such was the effect that had been produced on an important portion of our population by this most ill-judged interference with the coal trade. It would be well for the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department, to consider this state of things. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman had received communications with respect to the state of the population in the mining districts of the north of England, from the lord-lieutenant and the magistrates of Durham, and he must say, that this very serious state of things had arisen from a want of employment, which WAS traceable to this impolitic tax. He should hare thought that the Government bad already difficulties enough to deal with, when he looked to the state of Ireland, and to the condition of the manufacturing districts after the disturbances of last autumn, without needlessly adding to them by stopping the trade in the mining districts. He had already stated that the shipping interest had suffered considerably. He had evidence to show that freights had been lowered to a ruinous extent, and the result had been, that instead of the tax falling on the foreign consumer, it fell on the British coalowner and the British shipowner, who felt it the more by the great reduction it had produced in the trade. He believed also, that it operated in another way, namely, that where we kept the trade, the loss was great. In the petition that he had presented that night from the borough of Sunderland, it was stated, most truly, that by means of the export of coal, many of our manufactures were sent to foreign countries which otherwise would not be sent there. Formerly cargoes were made up for several foreign ports, composed both of coals and manufactures, and that the cargo could not be made up if the latter only was freighted but by the imposition of this tax, the export of coals in conjunction with manufactures, was rendered impossible. But this was not the only effect of this tax on the shipowners and manufacturers of this country, for ships going out with cargoes of coal could import on cheaper terms than other vessels such articles as timber and tallow, and other bulky goods which were consumed in our manufactures. Now the interference with the trade by the tax, must have a very serious effect on the employment of our shipping, and on many connected branches of manufacture. Such were the consequences of this duty which the right hon. Baronet had recommended to the approbation of Parliament, because, as he alleged, it was different from all other taxes, as it was a duty favourable to British industry. He could not conceive a more objectionable principle for a Minister to lay down, and especially with respect to a tax which he had shown bad proved most unfavourable in its effects to the mining interest, to the shipping interest, and to the manufacturing interest. He ought previously to have observed, that he had been informed, that previous to the imposition of this duty, it was customary for the Great Westers and the other transatlantic steam ships to take out coal for their return voyages; but since the tax had been imposed, the Great Western and other large steamers made the voyage home with American coal. He thought there could not be a more striking fact as to the injurious effect of this tax. He was astonished, also, that the right hon. Gentleman, who generally was so well informed as to the effects that might follow from an injudicious observation, should have urged the adoption of this tax on coal, on account that the effects of its imposition would be to injure the manufactures of foreign countries. It was a most ill-judged and injurious principle to lay down, for it was holding out an inducement to foreign nations to retort upon us by imposing a tax on raw produce. America might be induced to apply this principle with respect to the importation of cotton to this country, and China and Italy with respect to raw silk. But low and miserable as this doctrine was, it did not apply in this case; for he was assured, on the very best authority, that the coal exported from this country was not used to any considerable extent by foreign manufacturers. Every body knew that manufactures, when carried on on an extensive scale, were large consumers of fuel, and they always concentrated at those spots where fuel was most accessible. Was not this the case in this country, where the manufacturers carried on their processes in the north, rather than the south? Were they not carried on in the north because the manufacturers could in those districts more conveniently and readily obtain a supply of coals? But the manufactures which were carried on on the continent were not supplied with our coals. All the manufactures that existed on a large scale on the continent were carried on contiguous to great fields of coal. The manufacturers of Saxony, Belgium, and Lyons, were supplied with coals obtained nearly on the spot, and they derived no advantage from our exported coals. The manufactures of Switzerland were carried on by the great water power which that country possessed; and he believed, that on inquiry it Would be found that no foreign manufacture which competed at all with the produce of this country, was in any way aided in its production by coal from this country. The only thing which we had to fear in a third market was the rivalry that arose from the competition to sell at the lowest prices. The coal which was exported from this country to the continent was used for steam navigation, making gas, for sugar refining, and for household purposes. He believed, that after the strictest search the right hon. Gentleman could not find an instance of a foreign manufacture which was a rival to the produce of this country in which the process was carried on by means of English coal. On this ground, therefore, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman completely failed. In whatever light he regarded the tax, he found that it was productive of unmixed injury to British industry. It was a tax more directly limiting the employment of labour and the investment of capital than any tax imposed by the Government in modern times. He came next to consider the object for which this tax was imposed, and that object was to increase the revenue. It appeared from the papers on the Table, that the tax produced about 100,000l;. a year. The right hon. Gentleman calculated that it would produce 140,000l.; not in the whole year, he believed, but in the remaining portion of the financial year, after the tax was imposed. If this was the case the error into which the right hon. Gentleman had fallen was very great. [Sir R. Peel made an observation, which was not heard.] He was to understand, then, that this was not so, but that the estimate of 140.000l. was for the whole year. Now, although the miscalculation as to the amount of the produce of the tax was not so great as it was with respect to the Irish spirit duty, still it was very large. The tax, instead of yielding 140,000l. a year, yielded only 100,000l. which was ths gross produce, and by no means a clear addition to the revenue of that amount. The old duty on coal produced 12,000l. a year, so that the only gain, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman obtained by his tax was 88,000l., and this miserable sum was subject to reduction, in consequence of the increased expense of collection. The right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, had informed him that he could not exactly tell what this amounted to, but the expense of having a person stationed to see every ship laden that was about to export coal must be very great, as it was an article which was very bulky; and some time must be taken up in lading a vessel. But after this deduction from the 88,000l., the right hon. Baronet did hot obtain all as clear gain, for this tax had had a most serious effect which he could not estimate, in diminishing the indirect revenue. It was notorious that the right hon. Gentleman's Budget of last year had proved more unfortunate in the accuracy of its predictions than any Budget which the oldest Member of that House could recollect, and this had chiefly arisen from the falling-off in the revenue derived from the duties on articles of consumption. At the commencement of the Session her Majesty, in the Speech from the Throne, had been recommended to say:— Her Majesty regrets the diminished receipt from some of the ordinary sources of revenue. Her Majesty fears that it must be in part attributed to the reduced consumption of many articles caused by that depression of the manufacturing industry of the country which has so long prevailed, and which her Majesty has so deeply lamented. Now, if the House would reflect on this language of her Majesty, and look to the state of the coal trade, and to the state of the shipping trade, and consider that the wages of the men engaged in this branch of industry had been materially reduced, and also that the incomes of their employers had been reduced, the House could not doubt that this new tax had had a considerable share in reducing the proceeds of the indirect taxation of the country. But they must not stop here: for it was well known, that when distress and want of employment existed as regarded one branch of industry, that the employment of persons engaged in other pursuits was diminished. He had shown, in the early part of the Session, the effect that the diminution of the coal trade at Sunderland had upon persons engaged in other pursuits there; and it would appear from all that he had seen, that directly or indirectly, a blow given to one branch of trade was felt through the interests of the community, and it must most seriously affect the revenue derived from indirect taxation. He was convinced, that if they made an allowance for the amount of the defalcations that had been caused by this tax in other branches of taxation, it would appear that it had ' actually produced nothing at all to the revenue. Indeed, he was convinced that the Treasury had been rather a loser than a gainer by a tax which had been thus injurious to our trade in so many ways. If, therefore, it was to be regarded as a question of revenue, there could be no hesitation as to the propriety of removing the tax. He would put it to the right hon. Gentleman, how could he reconcile the continuance of this tax with the grounds which he urged for the adoption of another part of his Budget last year? The right hon. Gentleman proposed to take off the entire duties on the export of our manufactures, and in so doing, he expressed himself in the following language:— There are at present duties levied on the export of certain British manufactures—a doctrine which I think contrary to every sound principle of legislation. Now he (Viscount Howick) would ask, what the right hon. Baronet meant by a sound principle of legislation? Was it other than this, that those export duties were taxes levied on the produce of British industry? Were not coals, he would ask, as much the produce of British industry as any article of British manufacture? Were they not as much so as cotton twist or linen yarn? Were coals not like these articles, useful in foreign manufactures? Was not a tax on coals a tax contrary to the principle maintained by the right hon. Gentleman, namely, that it was inexpedient and injurious to British trade to lay export duties on the produce of British industry? The right hon. Gentleman also said:— These duties I find amount to 103,000l. a-year. Now, it was singular enough that this was about the gross sum which was realised by the export duty on coals:— I propose," (the right hon. Gentleman went on) " to remit altogether the export duties on British manufactures, and thus there will be incurred a loss to the revenue of 103,000l. a-year. He would ask the House to contrast these two duties. The one was on the export of British manufactures, of merely nominal amount, complained of by nobody -—a tax which in its operation, was unfelt, and of which nobody, even at a period when trade was most distressed, ever thought of saying caused that distress; yet the right hon. Gentleman had repealed that tax, because it was contrary to the principles he had laid down, that the exports of British industry should not be taxed. But when the right hon. Gentleman repealed that tax, he imposed another tax; and he imposed it on the exportations of British industry, of which the effects had been plainly predicted would be most injurious, and which experience had shown to be most injurious, which was attended with much danger of losing a valuable trade altogether. And the tax which the right hon. Gentleman had imposed on British trade was not a nominal tax complained of by nobody, but a real, substantial, onerous impost, of which many complained. Was there any consistency in the two measures?Was there any good reason assigned why they should adopt the one in order to supply the exigencies of the revenue, which would not equally apply to that change which the right hon. Gentleman had recommended to the committee?Were not these two measures rather examples of that disposition which his noble Friend, the Member for the city of London had adverted to a few nights ago, truly remarking that it was a most extraordinary disposition in a Government professing Conservative principles—a disposition not to make judicious and well-weighed improvements, but to make changes for the sake of change, rashly meddling, and most unnecessarily meddling with every branch of trade, unsettling everything, and settling nothing —changes which were injurious to every branch of trade—which, as the House had seen, had practically issued in the utter disappointment of all the hopes which the right hon. Gentleman had expressed when he had proposed those measures to the House. This was the case which be had had to bring before the House, and he trusted that if her Majesty's Government persevered in maintaining this tax, it would not find a disposition in that majority which had enabled the Government to carry its determinations into effect in other instances, to support it in maintaining this tax, which was alike inconsistent with principle and plainly injurious to the best and most important interests of the country. The noble Lord concluded by moving as an amendment, that the House do resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to consider so much of the act 5 and 6 Vic, cap. 47, as relates to the exportation of coals.

Mr. Gladstone

said, at that late hour he should not occupy the time of the House by any endeavour to defend the Government against the invective aimed at their general policy with which the noble Lord had wound up his speech. The noble Lord had, perhaps, thought of the wearisomeness of his subject, and had attempted to give it some relish for the palate of those around him, by introducing a question not at all relevant to that which he was dis- cussing. Whether the effort had been successful or not he would leave the noble Lord's supporters to judge. There were a great many general topics introduced into the speech of the noble Lord, over which he should take leave to pass altogether, and which, he must say, appeared to him to have but a very remote connexion with the question before them. They did not want to be instructed in such propositions as these,—that if they narrowed and restricted one branch of trade, their doing so had an effect on other trades connected with them; that if they imposed one tax, it had a tendency to render other taxes less productive; that if they lost a trade, it was more difficult to recover it than to gain it originally. He must take leave to tell the noble Lord, that these general dicta required no elaborate demonstration—no solemn announcement to that House, as if they were disputed propositions; they were matters which the noble Lord might take for granted, and which he would not trouble himself to discuss. He should consider the facts of the case, as they affected the revenue. To that issue alone he should direct the attention of the House. The noble Lord had spoken of the different arguments which had been used to support the determination of the Government by different persons, and to illustrate the operation of the tax; but he should neither refer to those arguments, nor rely on them. Some of those who opposed the measure said it was injurious, because foreign nations regarded it as a matter of feeling, and would not purchase commodities on which we laid a tax for the purpose of collecting a revenue. He could hardly believe that; and if it were so, it was very strange in those foreign nations, for they were accustomed to levy taxes on articles exported to this country, for the purpose of raising a revenue on them. He could not believe in such a statement, because they knew that the tax had been levied for the exigencies of the Government, and not for the purpose of levying a tax on them. Nor had he heard of a single instance of any Government taking umbrage at a tax which they knew was intended exclusively to supply the deficiences of our own revenue. He would not argue the question with reference to the exhaustion of the domestic supply, which was no part of the issue. Nor would he argue it on the ground which the noble Lord had based it, that he be- lieved the tax had been imposed contrary to the assent of the coal-trade. The Government would be placed in a very perilous position were it to regulate the imposition of taxes, or to found its support of a tax on the assent of those who were to be subjected to it. He was surprised that the noble Lord should have put the case as he did with evident triumph against the Government on the ground that Gentlemen of the Conservative party at Sunderland and in that House concurred with the noble Lord in reprobating the tax. The same argument might be applied to other things, on which some Gentlemen agreed with the noble Lord. Without questioning the veracity of the gentlemen concerned in the coal-trade, and who had opposed the tax, he could not assent to the arguments which they had brought forward. He was not disposed to believe that the Members of that House were prepared to adopt all the arguments of those who were interested in the trade, and who averred that the decay of their trade was caused by taxation. The same kind of arguments were used by the Members of every other trade, who readily attributed to taxation the impoverishment of the trade they followed. The noble Lord in his speech had not alluded at great length to what was really the most important part of the question, because it was connected with several other subjects, namely, the influence on the finances and revenue of the country which would result from the repeal of the coal-tax itself. He would call on the House to consider whether it were advisable in the present state of our finances to go into the question of a repeal of duties, or whether the state of our finances were now such as to justify the House in opening up the whole question of our import and export duties. When his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought the state of the finances before the House, he believed that the House thought his right hon. Friend exercised a proper caution in abstaining from proposing any remission of taxation in the present condition of the revenue. His right hon. Friend showed a probability of some surplus in the ordinary branches of the revenue, but he had also referred to other pecuniary obligations which might arise, and to some payments depending for foreign countries, which made it unwise, in his right hon. Friend's opinion, to propose the repeal of any taxation. The noble Lord said he had succeeded, he thought, in making out a strong case against the Government for the remission of the coal tax; but there were other cases stronger than the coal trade in which the same demands were made for relief— demands which, if the House should assent to the noble Lord's motion, hon. Gentlemen would soon make, and the House would find it impossible to deny. If the House should consent to repeal the coal duty, they could not abstain from repealing other duties; and he trusted therefore that the House would reject the motion of the noble Lord. The same arguments now urged by the noble Lord were the same which he urged last year, and which then made no impression on the House. The House last year had adopted the coal-tax by a large majority, which implied the adherence to the proposition of Gentlemen on all sides of the House. The question then was, had any circumstances since transpired and so altered the aspect and character of the duty, that the House should now resolve, after a short period of only nine months, to repeal that duty, which was last year imposed by such a large majority. If the noble Lord had proved his case—if all the noble Lord's allegations had been made good—he should have grave doubts of the propriety of again opening the question of repealing duties which could not be undertaken without exciting the demands of other interests— interests larger, far more important than those which the public had advocated for the repeal of several duties. But the allegations of the noble Lord had not been proved. Could the noble Lord say that the experience of nine months was all that was required—was it sufficient to enable the House to conclude that it formed a correct judgment when it proposed to reverse the decision to which the House came last year after long debates? He said that nine months were not sufficient, and that it would be highly derogatory to the character of the House, after so brief an experience, to change its course on a great public question, to which it had given so much attention only a few months before. He was surprised that the noble Lord should not look to any other cause for the decay of the coal trade than the duty on the export of coals. The state of the trade was, he admitted, not flourishing; but had the coal duty caused the whole of the decay? The gentlemen engaged in it were, no doubt, unanimous in saying so, but that unanimity was similar to that which might be found amongst all gentlemen concerned in every other trade. They felt the depression of the trade—they knew, perhaps, nothing of an excess of production— nothing of the falling-off in the demand at home—nothing of the opening of new mines abroad—a knowledge of these things might be beyond their means, but they all knew of the money that was paid into the Treasury on the export of coal, and they sought relief by demanding the repeal of that tax. He did not deny that remitting the tax would give relief—he did not deny that it might improve trade—but he did deny that the imposition of the tax had caused all the distress which prevailed. The noble Lord asked, what was the object of the duty? He would say that it was not intended to operate against foreign countries. The proposition, as he understood it, was this, that it was thought that a duty of 1s. a ton on small coals, and 2s. a ton on large coals, would yield a considerable sum to the revenue, and on that ground the proposition received the assent of Parliament. The object of the tax, then, was revenue, and he could not admit that the tax had not succeeded to the extent stated by the noble Lord. The revenue derived from the tax had been understated by the noble Lord. The noble Lord thought, no doubt, that he was acting fairly when he took three quarters of the year as a criterion, adding two quarters of last year to one quarter of this. He must say, however, that it was not a fair test. The noble Lord took the returns for three-fourths of the year, and, adding another fourth, he said that the revenue for that fourth would be in the same proportion as the other three-fourths; but this he should show was not the case. It was not a fair test of the coal trade to take as the produce of four quarters the duty levied on three, and assume that the produce of the other quarter must be proportionate. The great export of coals took place in the two summer quarters, and in the two winter quarters, as the noble Lord knew, there were not near so many coals exported as in the two summer quarters. If then they took the produce of the duty in three quarters, and two of these were winter quarters, and added a third part of that sum to make up the produce of the year, they could not get the whole duty. The two winter quarters, in fact, would only give two-fifths, or rather one-third, instead of one-half of the whole. It appeared by the returns, that the tax had yielded from 112,000l. to 114,000l., which was not so far short, as the noble Lord stated, of 140,000l. Certainly, in a revenue, such as ours, of 48,000,000l. and 50,000,000l., that might appear a small sum; but in the particular condition of this country, and judging from experience of what were likely to be the demands of other parties for the repeal of taxes, even that sum could not be spared. About 112,000l. or 114,000l., then, was the produce of the tax, and he said that he did not know any taxation that was levied at a cheaper rate. No additional establishments were necessary, and though it was impossible to tell the exact expense of collecting the tax; for the returns, as his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had stated, showed only the gross, and not the net expense of collection. He admitted the trade had been stationary, or, rather, that it had latterly not increased as rapidly as formerly. The trade was of great magnitude, and because, after the tax had been laid on, it did not go on increasing, it was immediately concluded, that the imposition of the tax was the cause of why the trade did not increase. There was another circumstance to be considered besides the magnitude and the increase of the trade. The noble Lord had said, that the trade was not so great in the first quarter of 1843 as in the first quarter of 1842, and, therefore, he had inferred, that the trade had decreased one-third. But the noble Lord should recollect, that if the export trade was less in the first quarter of 1843 than in the first quarter of 1842, some other cause might be pointed out for the decrease than the tax. The noble Lord had overlooked the effect of his right hon. Friend's measures. It was on the 11th of March, that his right hon. Friend announced his intention of levying a duty on the export of coals, and the quarter not ending before April 5th, the consequence of his announcement was, that a great export of coal took place. But the duty did not come into operation till the 9th of July, and all the parties engaged in the trade exerted themselves to the utmost to export coals before that period. There could not be a doubt, that the announcement of his right hon. Friend gave a great stimulus to the export trade of coals. It should also be remembered, that at first the duty with which the trade was threatened was an export duty of 4s. per ton on all coals, while the duty finally levied was a duty of 2s. on large coals, and 1s. on small coals. The figures certainly did not give an accurate view of the transactions, but they confirmed what he stated. It appeared, then, that the declared value of the coals exported to the 5th April, 1842, from the beginning of March, 1842, was more than double the usual quantity. He would tell the noble Lord what he (Mr. Gladstone) thought a fair criterion, and that was the first quarter of the year 1841, a period at which no duty had been announced, and when the trade was in a regular course and condition. That condition was an improving one, but the improvement was steady and gradual, whereas the increase of the trade in 1842 was altogether unnatural, and solely brought about by the stimulus of the prospective duty. He would take the first quarter of 1841, as a fair standard of comparison; and he found, that the export of coal to foreign countries in that quarter was only 236,000 tons, whereas the export in the first quarter of 1843 was 259,255 tons, exhibiting an increase of 23,000 tons, or about 10 per cent. Therefore, the duty, as far as it could be judged of by experience, very limited in point of time, was compatible with the maintenance of that export trade at the magnitude it had attained, even when there was no prospect of an increased duty. From a return of the first five months of the present year, in which return, however, the exports to British possessions and foreign countries were not distinguished, the quantity of coals exported from the United Kingdom was 715,000 tons, whereas, the exports in the corresponding five months for the year 1841 amounted to 707,000 tons. Some hon. Gentlemen might think, that including the exports to the British possessions vitiated the return; but he believed, that in that department of exports there had been a decrease. But even that decrease could not enable the House to judge fairly of the case. It should be remembered, that the stimulus and excitement of the trade of last year had been necessarily followed by the corresponding reaction and languor of this year. Those immense quantities of coal which were sent abroad during the four months the tariff was under discussion had, of course, supplied part of the demand which would have been periodically furnished in the regular and legitimate way. This he would prove by a letter, dated the 5th of June, from the Consul at Brest, and received that day. The Consul stated,— Early in 1842, the contractors holding large contracts with the French Government applied to the Government to authorise the immediate completion of their contracts for 1842 and 1843, so that they might evade the new duty in England. This was granted, and accounted for the difference in the number of ships employed in 1842 and 1843. Those contractors exported and introduced into France a large quantity of coals, which but for the prospect of the duty would have appeared as the exports partly of the present portion of the year and of the ensuing half of it. But that was not all; the merchants laid in two years' stock. He did not contend, that the noble Lord's predictions had been falsified, but that this was not the time for the House to do anything, experience being against the proposition of the noble Lord. The consul continued:— It therefore may be asserted with certainty, that the imports of British coals into France have not diminished in consequence of the new duty in England; and that those imports will gradually increase as the stock in hand is expended. It is likely that the importations will be greater next year than during any preceding year As far as he was aware, that report had been made without any leading question having been put, to direct the consul's mind to any future view of the course of the coal trade; it was, he believed, the unbiassed judgment of the consul upon the circumstances with which he was cognizant. The noble Lord said, that the trade with France and Holland was ruined. How could the noble Lord come to such a conclusion yet? No doubt there was a considerable diminution in the export to Holland. [An hon. Member: " No, there is not."] Well, so much the better. But, suppose it were so—the noble Lord could make no fair charge upon the duty in consequence of it. There were many other circumstances of an unfavourable nature which ought to be taken into consideration. In Holland a very large quantity of coal had been used for manufacturing purposes:—that was to say, for distilleries and sugar refineries, which were at present in a state of unexampled depression. There were special causes for this state of things. The Dutch refiners of sugar, up to a very recent period, had enjoyed the advantage of the importation of refined sugar into Upper Germany, which was taken away only about twelve months ago, he believed. But, whether that was the case or not, that branch of trade in Holland was greatly depressed. The consul at Rotterdam wrote on the 6th of June, There is a considerable reduction in the import of coals. This is accounted for in the first place by the large stock laid in by the dealers previous to the levying of the English duties of 1s. and 1s.; in the second place, by the consumption falling-off, in consequence of the present unfavourable state of the distilleries and sugar refineries; and lastly, coal from Belgium has in that particular district been coming into use. It is not a question of price, whether one or the other description of coal is sold at 6d, or 1s. a ton higher or lower, but the question is merely one of quality, the Belgian coal being preferred for certain purposes. Taking these two markets with respect to which the predictions of the noble Lord were most gloomy, there was then the assurance that in France there was not likely to be a decrease, but, on the contrary, an increase. In the case of Holland it could not be known whether there would be a decrease or not.; but they knew that trade there was dead, and that other causes naturally tended to prevent a greater importation of coal. But there was yet another cause for the depression of the coal trade; the mildness of the winter season, which had necessarily tended very much to reduce the consumption of coals both on the continent and in this country. The returns of the imports into London for the last three years were—for 1840, 2,566,000 tons; for 1841, 2,909,000 tons; for 1842, 2,723,000 tons. There was therefore a diminution even in London, where the importation was free from the duty. A great part of the noble Lord's argument was to the effect, that there had been a very great increase in the price of coals in foreign countries. But much had been heard of stimulus to foreign ventures and inducement to invest capital in foreign mines; and in what could that consist unless in the increase of the price in the foreign market? That, generally speaking, was hardly perceptible. In Havre the wholesale price was, before the imposition. of the duty, 22s.10d. a ton; now it was 24s. 1 ½d. a ton An account which he had procured from the best authority he could command, while it confirmed that statement of the wholesale price, added, that the retail price was not altered in the least; 3 ¾ francs to 4 francs was the price, and had been so constantly for some years. At Rotterdam and at Antwerp there was likewise very little alteration. At Ham- burgh the price formerly was 18s. 6d. to 19s. 6d.; and at present it was from 19s. 6d. to 20s. But it would be asked, " Who then has paid the duty? According to the noble Lord it must have been paid three or four times over, by the coal-owner, the ship-owner, and the foreign consumers. The loss had fallen upon the middle class, between the coalowner and the shipowner. He admitted that freight, was lower at present than in former years. But was not the clause for that to be found in the general condition of trade? The ships which carried coals were not a class of ships limited to that kind of burthen and nothing else; and if there were a pressure upon the coal trade, the noble Lord would tell the House that it would have an effect upon the freights of other trades. The history of freights showed a downward course from year to year, while trade had been flourishing and increasing, according to the allegation of the noble Lord. Up to last year this was a flourishing trade, growing from year to year, and during that time freights were going on diminishing, and the diminution of former years was greater than that since the duty was laid on. The returns of freights from the port of Sunderland to Paris and other ports along the same coast for the last three years were as follows:—In 1840 it was per ton, 10s. 9d.; in 1841, 9s. 3d.; in 1842, 8s. 3d.; in 1843, 7s. 9d. There was a fall of 6d. after the duty was laid on; but the fall of 1841 should be compared with 1840, when there was no such duty. If the noble Lord then contended that such diminution in the freight was to ruin the shipowner, he replied that formerly there was a much greater diminution which did not ruin the shipowner nor put a stop to the trade. The returns with regard to the freightage to Bordeaux were —In 1840 freightage per ton, 13s. 9d.; 1841, 13s. 6d; 1842, 12s. 6d.; 1843, 11s. 3d. With regard to Amsterdam, the return was, in 1840, freightage, per ton, 11s. 6d.; 1841, 11s.; 1842, 9s. 9d.; 1843, 9*. 6d. Undoubtedly freights had gone down; but it was in consequence of the general depression and stagnation of trade, and not on account of the imposition of the coal-tax. He had shown them that, so far from the tax having injured the trade, it had flourished under that tax, and would continue to flourish, even coupled with the unfavourable circumstances of the existing depression in trade. He contended, therefore, that the noble Lord had made out no case to induce or to justify the House in reversing the vote they had come to by a large majority last year after much discussion, and after the noble Lord had urged with laudable perseverance the same statements upon the House, but without effect. The noble Lord's topics were irrelevant to the question. If the noble Lord had shown that the tax had failed to increase the revenue, and that it was mischievous to the trade of the country, there would have been some plausibility in the course taken by the noble Lord, but he thought he had proved the reverse of that position. It would not be for the general interest of the country to accede to the motion of the noble Lord, and it was perfectly clear that the wise and sober course for the House to pursue, was to wait and see the effect of a full and fair operation of the tax, so that they might be in possession of ample means and information to enable them to come to a correct and safe judgment upon the question.

Mr. H. Hinde

agreed partly with the right hon. Gentleman and partly with the noble Lord. The noble Lord had never said that this tax was the sole cause of the depression of the coal trade, but that it had been aggravated thereby. All that his right hon. Friend had attempted to prove was, that the case of the coal trade was not quite so bad as some might think it was. He did not lay much stress upon any documents except such as had received the sanction of official authority, but he could not help reminding the House that there had been evidence delivered before committees on railway bills which showed very clearly that this duty had worked very ill, both for the coal-owners and for the public, and for every class engaged in or connected with collieries. It appeared that upon the line of one railway there were seven collieries, five of which had recently been suspended. He hoped the House would also bear in mind that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade did not pretend to say that foreigners paid the tax which had been imposed upon coals; neither did he appear to have succeeded in combatting that part of the speech of the noble Lord in which he had shown that our coal trade with Holland had very materially declined. Then this duty on coals afforded no compensation for the disadvantage which it was likely to occasion us in time of war by depriving us of the service as pilots of the captains of colliers. The contraband trade had been suppressed, and now our sole dependence for pilotage, in the event of a war, rested with the captains of colliers, for from smuggling we could no longer derive any assistance.

Lord Harry Fane,

although extremely loath to occupy the attention of the House at that late hour, more especially after his noble Friend the Member for Sunderland had so completely exhausted every part of the subject of debate, yet was still anxious to offer a few comments on what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. It seemed to him that 88,000l. was the amount, was the real amount of revenue which this tax had produced, and this sum was derived principally at the expence of the coal trade. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that there was great distress in the coal districts, he admitted that this was a co-operating cause of this distress, was it not therefore the duty of the House to relieve that distress by seizing the earliest opportunity of repealing that duty, and not wait until this beneficial trade was irretrievably lost? What was the country with which this export trade was principally carried on? Why France, with which country he (Lord H. Vane) was most anxious that commercial relations should be cultivated, and he therefore would deprecate any measure which like the present duty would throw Impediments in the way of that trade. The tendency of this tax was evidently to interrupt that trade. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, when he had unfolded a sort of geological map of France last year, had spoken as if France possessed no mines. Now, he (Lord H. Vane) had referred lately to a statistical work published under the authority of the administration des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris, wherein he found that there were mines in active work in France in thirty-six: departments, and sixty-one mines not worked, but which would receive a stimulus from the French government provided that this export duty continued, and what was to prevent British capital from being employed in the working of these mines? Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer propose an export duty on British capital? For notwithstanding the cavils—not with standing the feverish state of the public mind in France, one-half of the original shares of the Rouen Railway were provided by English shareholders, and at this moment, one half of the remaining half was held by English capitalists. But then it was urged that the French imposed an import duty on coal, but this was a proof that France was not under the necessity of taking English coal, but she took it because she received a cheaper article and derived revenue from it besides, it is not, therefore, in our power to cause the money which is derived to the French exchequer as import duty, to be derived to the British Exchequer as export duty. In 1834, when Mr. Poulett Thomson took off the then export duty, he enunciated broadly and distinctly the proposition that when all other export duties had been taken off, it was not just to the coal trade not to remove the export duty on coals. The right hon. Baronet at the head of a great party opposed to the Government of that day, did not gainsay this proposition, or oppose the taking off of the tax. Mr. Warburton, no longer a Member of this House, and the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton) were the only objectors. The result of this general acquiescence, was the belief that no export duty would be hereafter imposed. Capital was then invested in coal mines, railroads were constructed, and harbours improved and nowhere had commercial enterprise been more conspicuously displayed than in Durham, villages arose where only a few scattered habitations were before to be found, an industrious population was encouraged to Immigrate there. The first effect of the imposition of this export duty, was the emigration of colliers, men of substance, who entertained forebodings of the necessary result of this measure, and what was technically termed the laying in of collieries. If there was a passive acquiescence in the duty last year, there was a consentaneous opinion of all classes against it this year. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, had referred to the employment of our coal in sugar refineries; now, it was certain that three-fourths of the coal exported, was used for steam and navigation purposes. His noble Friend the Member for Sunderland, had presented a remarkable petition from Newport in Monmouthshire, in perfect accordance with a memorial presented last year to the right hon. Baronet from the manufacturers on the Tyne, who knew well to what countries coal was exported, and to what purposes applied. The averment in their memorial was, that coal was furnished to them at a much cheaper rate in consequence of the export trade. Be sides it is well known, that in consequence of the export of a bulky article like coal which defrayed the freight, our manufacturers were enabled to export articles in which we were in a state of inferiority to the foreigner, whether this inferiority arose from the more intuitive taste of the foreigner, from a more genial climate, or from longer habit, was it wise therefore, was it expedient, at a moment, when, although there was a revival of the cotton trade, the great staple industries of wool and iron were still depressed to run the risk of adding to the large catalogue of unemployed? You are not asked to give any artificial aid, or to divert capital from its natural courses; hut to let a commercial people take advantage of their natural advantages, without cramping their operations by a legislative measure unproductive of revenue. The manufacturers on the Tyne, who know that the coal exported to St. Petersburg is principally for domestice purposes, are well aware that it is not with imported coal that foreign manufacturers can compete with them, their manufactories must be situated in the immediate neighbourhood of coal mines—it is so with those of Westphalia, of Silesia, of the Rhenish Provinces, of the Netherlands, of Lyons, and because fuel is dear at Rouen, together with other causes of dearness, such as the proximity of the capital, trade has declined and migrations have taken place. We ask you not to uphold a law which yields little to the revenue and inflicts a great deal of mischief. The right hon. Gentleman says, that the motive of my noble Friend is premature, that the duty is an experiment, and that there has not been sufficient time to test it. We have had enough experience of its injurious effects. The right hon. Gentleman has afforded us an exemplification of the saying, that it is easy to group figures, for notwithstanding this plausible statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the comparison instituted by my noble Friend between the first three months of 1842, and the first three months of 1843, was a fair and just one. It demonstrated that the measure had had the effect of impeding the coal trade, we should lose no lime in repealing the duty before the trade was lost, as representation of a district suffering from this experiment, he would most gladly and conscientiously give his vote for the motion of his noble Friend the Member for Sunderland.

Mr. Bell

would consider it his duty to give his vote in support of the proposition of the noble Lord. He entertained considerable doubts as to the policy of agitating a measure which had been so recently settled, but its results had been disastrous, and the proposition having been made, he felt compelled to vote for the repeal of this tax. Having so recently entered at considerable length into details to show the inconveniences which must necessarily result from the imposition of the tax, both to the coalowner and the shipowner, from the falling-off in the demand and the diminution of price and rate of freight, at that late hour he would not occupy the time of the House by again going over the same ground; but he had possessed himself of a few statistics of the trade, which he trusted he might be allowed to lay before the House. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade seemed to think that the imposition of the duty would not in any way interfere with the export of coal; he would submit to the House a very short statement which would prove the very injurious nature of the tax. The returns he was possessed of related only to the north of England; but he had no doubt that returns from Scotland would show the same result. From 1804 to 1825, when the duty on round coal was 6s. 5d. and on small coal 1s. 8d.. the export did not increase one single ton. From 1831 to 1834, when the duty was 2s. 8d. a ton, the export rose from 161,217 tons to 230,142 tons or an average of 8 per cent, per annum; while from 1834 to 1841, when there was no duty, it increased from 230,342 tons to 736,947 tons, or at an average of 30 per cent per annum. He would refer to the quantity of coal exported to different foreign countries during the year 1840. It was as follows:—France, 369,511 tons; Holland, 203,131 tons; Denmark, 124.691 tons; Prussia, 89,443 tons; and the rest of Germany, 119,600 tons.He would not enter more particularly into the subject and conclude by stating that it was his intention to support the motion of the noble Lord.

Sir G. Clerk

wished merely to make a short statement to the House in answer to the argument deduced by the noble Lord from the alleged falling-off in the export of coals from this country during the first three months of 1843, as compared with those of 1842; but that comparison, he contended, did not afford a fair test; the cause of the decrease arose from the previously enormous exportation which took place during the four months immediately preceding the imposition of the tax. What were the facts? The total quantity exported during those four months, in 1841, was in value 258,690l., in the same four months of last year it was 350,626l., showing an increase of no less than 91,936l. Was it surprising that the trade should, after that unnatural stimulus, suffer a period of stagnation? Besides, the wide spread distress throughout the country, affecting as it did every trade, and the iron trade especially, was in itself a sufficient cause for the present depression in the coal trade. A great deal had been said about the decrease of our export to foreign countries; but he maintained that there had been no decrease. He would institute a fairer comparison than the noble Lord, and taking the years 1841 and 1843—this was the result:—

In 1841, the exports to Russia were 70,000 tons
In 1843 the exports to Russia were 83,000 tons
In 1841, to Sweden 26,000 tons
In 1843, to Sweden 37,000 tons
In 1841, to Denmark 151,000 tons
In 1843 to Denmark 145,000 tons
That was a slight falling off, but it was there that we had less reason to dread competition than anywhere else:—
In 1841, to Holland 173,000 tons
In 1843 180,000 tons
In 1841, to France 451,000 tons
In 1843 515,000 tons
In 1841, to the United States 52,000 tons
In 1843 60,000 tons
Making allowance then for the unnatural impetus and consequent temporary depression occasioned by the first imposition of the tax, the House would see that the export of coal was decidedly upon the increase instead of the decrease; and he felt the greatest pleasure in being able to tell the House that the export of coal during May this year was nearly the same as during the same month last year, and that it considerably exceeded that of the year before. Now, with regard to Sunderland and Newcastle-on-Tyne, taking the weeks ending the 5th of May and 5th of June, 1842, as compared with the weeks ending the 5th of May and 5th of June, 1843. For the two weeks ending the 5th of June, 1843, the export was 183,000 tons from Newcastle; whereas, in 1842, the same months, it was 177,000 tons. He was sorry that he could not say, that the same improvement had taken place at Sunderland; but that was accounted for by local causes, which had diverted the trade from that port. That that was the case appeared from the fact, that from 1840 there had been a falling-off at Sunderland and a corresponding increase at Hartlepool and other ports. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that this tax was imposed for the purpose of raising revenue, and he should like to know in what way the noble Lord would raise the same amount of revenue with so little inconvenience to any branch of the trade of this country? That was the question for the House to decide; and he trusted that they would not hastily, under present circumstances, deprive the revenue of the produce of so convenient and reasonable a duty.

Mr. Labouchere

said, an observation which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and which had been put forward before by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, made him anxious to say a few words. The hon. Gentleman asked was this a period, and were the circumstances such as to call on Gentlemen to vote against the continuance of any tax, however inconvenient it might be? During the last Session he had voted against several duties, as, for instance, the timber duties, and felt himself justified in giving those votes, though he should not feel justified in repeating them during the present Session. However, with regard to two measures which the Government brought forward during the last Session, the coal duty and the duty on Irish spirits, they had as measures of revenue so completely failed, and had inflicted so much injury on the trade, prosperity, and, in the instance of Irish spirits, on the morals of the country, that he should feel justified in voting, as he certainly should do, against both those taxes. He begged the House to recollect the language which was used last year in discussing this measure. They were then told it would produce 140,000l. a year without inconvenience or injury to any portion of the community. He wished some hon. Members had been present to hear what were the effects produced on the people by the tax which brought that miserable amount to the national coffers. He wished that at an earlier hour of the evening every hon. Member now in the House had been present to hear the petitions from the ship- ping and coal owning interests of the north, as well as of the revelations of hon. Gentlemen belonging to both parties, who clearly showed that if they wished to arrest the progress of the evil they had no time to lose. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had asked them to await the experience of another year. But what was the experience of the past and the present? Was the existing state of things promised us by the Government when they brought forward their measures last Session? Nothing, on the contrary, was more striking than the contrast. The fact was, that it produced only 88,000l with great injury to our trade. Between the language of the President of the Board of Trade this evening and that of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury last year, when he proposed to abolish the duties on the exportation of British manufactures, and said he thought that export duties were founded on false principles. However, in the course of the same Session the right hon. Baronet proposed the imposition of this duty, and what were the special grounds on which he supported it? The right hon. Baronet said this country enjoyed great natural advantages with reference to coal, and that by this duty we should be taxing the foreigner and not our own people. That had a very plausible sound; but he at the time took the liberty of saying that it was a false principle, and that when we should come to prove it, this attempt to tax foreigners would recoil on our own trade and people. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down appealed to figures, and seemed to doubt the effect produced by this tax, as proved by the mass of evidence by which it was supported, confirmed as that evidence was by every representative of a coal district, who had addressed the House in the course of the present evening. He would read, however, one striking fact of great importance which could not be controverted, and which must prove to the House the inexpediency and injustice of keeping up this duty, and thereby violating every principle, and placing the coal producers on a different footing from all other producers in the country, for it should be remembered that coal was quite as much the produce of manufacture as cotton yarn or any of the other articles which were relieved last year from export duties. The directors of the Great Western Steam Ship Company stated in a document which he held in his hand that in the execution of the duties of their office they had been in the habit of exporting several hundred tons of coal annually to New York, but that the imposition of this duty made them give up that trade, and even forced them to get coals from the mines of the United States for their return voyages. The fact proved to demonstration that this was not an imaginary infliction on the trade of the country, but that it encouraged the produce of foreign coal mines, and discouraged the produce of the mines of this country, Such a state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. Next year they would not be able to discuss the question with the same advantage as at present. Foreign mines would by that time come into competition with our own; the evil would be done: it would then be impossible to retrace our steps; and to restore the trade to the condition in which it previously stood. He should vote against this tax, because he was satisfied that the evil it was producing was out of all proportion to the revenue derived from it, and the sooner an alteration should be effected the better.

Sir R. Peel

I will follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman, and limit myself to a very few observations, without troubling the House with any details. We are not now discussing how we shall appropriate a surplus revenue to the reduction of taxation— we are not in a condition in which we can boast of having a clear available surplus above the expenditure of the country. It is a notorious and admitted fact, that at the present moment, notwithstanding the imposition of the income-tax, notwithstanding the increased produce of that tax, notwithstanding the willingness of the country to submit to that unusual and unpopular impost, there is still a deficit of income as compared with the expenditure of the country. The question, then, is to-night whether we shall increase that deficit by a remission of the duty which was imposed only last year upon coal. The right hon. Gentleman says, it is a duty of only 100,000l. I am afraid if you act on that principle— if, because an individual duty does not amount to 100.000l., you may disregard the amount of revenue derived from it—I am afraid, the application of such a principle will go far beyond the remission of the duty upon coal, and that you must extend the principle to the remission of many other duties which do not produce a large amount. What were the circumstances under which this duty was imposed last year? It was then stated, that this country had the advantage of the peculiar article of coal in our manufactures— that other countries imposed higher duties upon the import of coal than England— that France, that every one of the continental countries of Europe levied a considerable tax upon that article useful in their manufactures, one of your natural advantages. I then proposed a moderate duty on coal exported from this country, and, absurd as it may seem to the right hon. Gentleman, that proposal received the acquiescence of a very high authority on that side of the House. I am sorry not to see the noble Lord the Member for the city of London present, because the proposition which I made last year did receive the support of the noble Lord. [Mr. Hume: He alone on this side of the House.] No, not he alone on that side, unless the hon. Member considers the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs as nobody, though I believe the noble Lord to be as a Member of great authority and influence on that side of the House. I rather think that no less than two Cabinet Ministers under the late Government— men exercising a very high and a very great influence over the opinions of the House, gave their willing assent to this tax, and their assent of course was not dictated by political motives. The noble Lord who brought forward the motion, quoted several letters, in one of which a reference was made to the decrease of the imports by the United States. What is the cause of that decrease? Why, the United States by their tariff have increased the import duty upon British coal. I rather think that at the present moment there is a duty imposed upon the import of British coal into the United States quite sufficient to prevent the export of coal from New Brunswick to the United States, and which amounts, if I am not misinformed, to 6s. per ton—to 8s. per ton I am told. A duty of 8s. per ton is imposed by the United States on that article on which we impose a duty of only 2s. when exported. Is the right hon. Gentleman surprised, that there should have been a diminution in the export to the United States, when the United States themselves have imposed a duty of not less than three or four times the amount that we have imposed as an export duty. Sir, the whole of the arguments to-night, the whole of the predictions which were made when the question was discussed last year, amounted to this— that the imposition of the duty would cause a great diminution in the export of coal. I do not think that prediction has been verified. Here is a statement of the quantity exported to foreign countries in the year 1842 as compared to the year 1841. In 1841, the number of tons ex-exported to all foreign countries was 1,848,000, whilst the number of tons exported last year was 1,999,000; showing a considerable increase. If you take the latter half of the year alone, and compare it with the preceding, there will be found a diminution. And on what account? Because, for four months notice had been given of the intention to impose the tax; and there was then an immensely increased export, for the very purpose of taking advantage of the interval, and exporting the coal free of duty. That led to an unusual, and unduly increased export of coal. In the quarter ending the 5th July— that is, the quarter before the coal duty was imposed— there was a larger export of coal than had ever been previously known. And what was the natural consequence? That since that time there had been a diminution, not a positive diminution from which you are to argue, that this tax is likely to have a permanently injurious effect on the export of coal, but in consequence of the undue stimulus given to exports in the preceding quarter there has been a corresponding depression in the last quarter. And this is the way in which the defalcation must be accounted for. The duty amounts to 112,000l. It was imposed only last year. It has only taken effect for nine months. It was imposed by a large majority of the House, not because it was a good tax in the abstract, but to make up a deficiency in the revenue. These reasons still continue. These is still a deficit. If you think the tax is in itself a bad one— so injurious, permanently injurious to the coal trade, that the advantage derived from it by the revenue does not counterbalance its evil effect, I admit, that the mere circumstance that only nine months have elapsed since the imposition of the tax ought not to be a conclusive reason why you should not, in the exercise of your judgment, consider the propriety of re- pealing it now. But have you had sufficient experience to enable you to draw any fair conclusion? I hope the House will support the Government in its attempt to maintain the public credit— that they will not set the example of repealing this tax merely because it only produces 100,000l., and because there is a formidable combination against it amongst those connected with the coal districts. When you come to consider the wool duty, those interested in the remission of that duty will, no doubt, combine together in order to procure it; and I see one of the hon. Members for Yorkshire smiling in anticipation of the course that may be adopted with respect to the wool duty. This may be the case on every distinct duty. The parties interested will combine together. We trust, however, that the majority of the House, looking to large and comprehensive considerations, to the state of the revenue, and to the necessity of maintaining the public credit, will resist the natural, and perhaps laudable attempts that may be made by interested parties to benefit their constituents by repealing particular taxes. On this ground I hope the majority will support the Government in maintaining this tax, until either by its failure, or by more convincing evidence, they are satisfied that it is in itself altogether unjustifiable.

Mr. Liddell

said, that, after the speech of the right hon. Baronet, and the manner in which this motion was introduced by the noble Lord opposite, and considering the connection which he held with the district most interested in this tax, he hoped the House would permit him to address it for a short time. Although he considered, in common with many connected with the coal trade, that this motion was most ill-timed and imprudent, he should still support it. It was consistent with his duty and the opinions he held to give no vote in defence of a tax which he held to be injudicious and it was equally consistent for him to slate that the motion was at the present moment ill-timed. He was perfectly aware that the motion would be met by the argument, which the right hon. Baronet had just addressed to the House, when he called upon them to support the public credit, and that this tax, which the House had agreed to last Session, had not, up to the present period, produced sufficient for the purpose of supplying the deficit in the revenue, and it was because he foresaw that the answer would be made that the motion would be met by corresponding figures on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, and that the great majority of the House would be left in doubt as to the real effect of the measure, that he felt himself justified in saying that the motion was ill-timed. He was too well acquainted with the coal trade, and the opinions of those connected with it, not to do his duty, and support the motion of the noble Lord for a repeal of this tax. It had been placed by the right hon. Baronet and the Government entirely upon the score of revenue, but he would ask the right hon. Baronet whether the revenue expected to be derived from it was not of small amount, and whether, by consenting, for the sake of revenue, to a displacement of a large amount of capital and labour, he might not injure the revenue derived through the medium of the Customs and Excise to a degree greater than any benefit that could be derived from this tax?

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question. Ayes 187; Noes 124: Majority 63.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D, Corry, rt. hon. H.
A'Court, Capt. Courtenay, Lord
Adare, Visct. Cripps, W.
Adderly, C. B. Darby, G.
Allix, J. P. Dawnay, hon. W. H.
Autrobus, E. Denison, E. B.
Arkwright, G. Dickinson, F. H.
Bailey, J. jun. Douglas, Sir H.
Baillie, Col. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Barrington, Visct. Douglas, J. D. S.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Drummond, H. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Duffield, T.
Blackburne, J. Duncombe. hon. A,
Blackstone, W. S. Du Pre, C. G.
Bodkin, W. H. Eaton, R. J.
Boldero, H. G. Egerton, W. T.
Botfield, B. Egerton, Sir P.
Boyd, J. Eliot, Lord
Bradshaw, J. Escott, B.
Bramston, T. W. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Broadley, H. Farnham, E. B.
Broadwood, H. Fielden, W.
Buckley, E. Filmer, Sir E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Fitzroy, hon. E.
Charteris, hon. F. Flower, Sir J.
Chelsea, Viset. Follett, Sir W. W.
Chute, W. L. W. Forbes, W.
Clayton, R. R. Fuller, A. E.
Clerk, Sir G. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Clive, Visct, Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Clive, hon. R. H. Gladstone, Capt.
Colvile, C. R. Godson, R.
Compton, H. C. Gordon, hon. Capt,
Gore, M. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Gore, W. O. Morgan, O.
Gore, W. R, O. Morgan, C.
Goring, C. Murray, C. R. S.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Neeld, J.
Granby, Marquess of Newport, Visct
Greenall, P. Newry, Visct.
Greene, T. Nicholl, rt. hn. J.
Gregory, W. H. Norreys, Lord
Grimston, Visct. Northland, Visct,
Grogan, E. O'Brien, A. S.
Halford, H. Packe, C. W.
Hamilton, W. J. Pakington, J. S.
Hamilton, Lord C. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Hampden, R. Peel, J.
Hanmer, Sir J. Pennant, hon. Col.
Harcourt, G. G. Plumptre, J. P.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Pollock, Sir F.
Hayes, Sir E. Polhill, F.
Heathcote, Sir W. Pringle, A.
Heneage, G. H. W. Pusey, P.
Henley, J. W. Rashleigh, W.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Reid, Sir J. R.
Herbert, hon. S. Rendlesham, Lord
Hervey, Lord A. Rolleston, Col.
Hindley, C. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Hogg, J. W. Round, J.
Holmes, hn. W. A'C. Rushbrooke, Col.
Hope, A. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Hope, G. W. Sandon, Visct.
Hughes, W. B. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Hussey, A. Shirley, E. J.
Hussey, T. Smith, A.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Jermyn, Earl Smollett, A.
Jones, Capt. Somerset, Lord G.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E Sotheron, T. H. S.
Knight, F. W. Spry, Sir S. T.
Law, hon. C. E. Stanley, Lord
Lawson, A. Stanley, E.
Lefroy, A. Stuart, H.
Legh, C. Sturt, H. C.
Leslie, C. P. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Lincoln, Earl of Taylor, T. E.
Lockhart, W. Tennent, J. E.
Lowther, J. H. Thesiger, F.
Lowther, hon. Col. Tollemache, I.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Trench, Sir F. W.
Mackenzie, T. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Mackenzie, W. F. Trollope, Sir J.
McGeachy, F. A. Turnor, C.
Mahon, Visct. Vernon, G. H.
Mainwaring, T. Vesey, hon. T.
Manners, Lord C. S. Vivian, J. E.
Marsham, Visct. Waddington, If. S.
Martin, C. W. Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Masterman, J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Meynell, Capt. Young, J.
Mildmay, H. St. J. TELLERS.
Miles, P. W. S. Fremantle, Sir T.
Mitchell, T. A. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Attwood, M.
Aldam, W. Bannerman, A,
Anson, hon. Col. Barclay, D.
Baring, rt. hn. F, T, Lambton, H.
Barnard, E. G. Langston, J. H.
Barron, Sir H. W. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Bell, M. Leader, J. T.
Bell, J. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Berkeley, hon. C. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Mangles, R. D.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Marjoribanks, S.
Berkeley, hon. G, F. Marsland, H.
Bernal, R. Martin, J.
Bernal, Capt. Milcalfe, H.
Blake, Sir V. Morris, D.
Blewitt, R. J. Morrison, Gen.
Bowes, J. O'Brien, W. S.
Bowring, Dr. O'Connell, M. J.
Brotherton, J. O'Conor, Don
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Buller, C. Ogle, S.C. H.
Busfeild, W. Ord, W.
Carew, hon. R. S. Paget, Col.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Paget, Lord A.
Chapman, B. Parker, J.
Childers, J. W. Pechell, Capt.
Christie, W. D. Philips, G. R.
Clements, Visct. Plumridge, Capt.
Cobden, R. Ponsonby, hon. C. F. C.
Colborne, hn. W. N. R. Protheroe. E.
Craig, W. G. Pulsford, R.
Dashwood, G. H. Redington, T. N.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Ricardo, J. L.
Duke, Sir J. Rice, E. R.
Duncan, G. Roche, Sir D.
Duncombe, T. Ross, D. R.
Dundas, Adm. Russell, Lord E.
Dundas, D. Scholefield, J.
Dungannon, Visct. Scott, R.
Elphinstone, H. Seale, Sir J. H.
Ewart, W, Seymour, Lord
Ferguson, Col. Smith, B.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Smith, J. A.
Fitzwilliam, hn. G. W. Stansfield, W. R.
Forster, M. Stewart, P. M.
Gisborne, T. Strutt, E.
Gore, hon. R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Granger, T. C. Tancred, H. W.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Thorneley, T.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Traill, G.
Hay, Sir A. L. Vane, Lord H.
Heneage, E. Vivian, J. H.
Hinde, J. H. Wall, C. B.
Hodgson, R. Watson, W. H.
Hollond, R. Wemyss, Capt.
Horsman, E. Williams, W.
Howard, hn. C. W. G. Wood, B.
Howard, hon. J. K. Wood, C.
Howard, hon. H. Wyse, T.
Howick, Visct. Yorke, H. R.
Hutt, W. Hill, Lord M.
Jervis, J. Tuffnell, H.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H.

House went into committee pro formaâ and resumed.