HC Deb 07 April 1845 vol 79 cc299-300

House in Committee on the Customs Duties Bill.

On the Clause relating to Glass,

Mr. Spooner

rose, pursuant to notice, to move that the repeal of the protective duties on glass, instead of taking place immediately on the passing of the measure, should not come into operation till April the 5th, 1846. It was unfair to the glass manufacturers, who had large stocks upon which they had paid both Customs and Excise duty, to remove their protection, and subject them to competition with the foreign article, before they had time to dispose of what they had on hand. Though it was his opinion that the glass manufacturers of this country had no cause to fear the ultimate effects of competition, they would be seriously injured by being suddenly exposed to it. One new and important branch—the manufacsure of sheet glass—might be ruined if it were subjected to this sudden struggle. It should be remembered that the English manufacturer, besides paying the Customs duty, had also to pay an Excise duty from which the foreign importer was exempt, and the proposal of Government would, in effect, give 25 per cent. advantage to the latter. No doubt could be entertained that the removal of the duty would confer a great boon on the trade and on the country. But if the manufacturers were at once subjected to the severe competition proposed, the effects of the boon would be thrown away. Capital would be kept out of the trade, and improvement retarded. As they had been compromising to-night—he would consent to a postponement for a shorter period than a year, if his right hon. Friend would not consent to that term. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.

Lord Ingestre

stated that he had been requested by his constituents to ask to have some time allowed before the removal of the protective duly.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

opposed the Motion, and expressed his suspicion that his hon. Friend's proposal would go substantially to increase the duty. But, independently of this, he did not think that the British manufacturer needed any such allowance as his hon. Friend proposed. Belgian glass could be imported at the rate of 1½d. a pound, and the duty being 14s. a cwt., amounted exactly to cent. per cent.; being a higher protective duty than was accorded to any other article, and only to be justified for even a limited period by the fact of the manufacturers having paid a heavy Excise duty on their stocks to which the foreign glass would not be subject. Nothing could be more imprudent than, if the House were determined to remove these duties, to bolster up any supposed interest by an artificial duty for a year or eighteen months; and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) did not participate in the apprehensions expressed with regard to the effect of the Government measure.

Motion negatived. The Resolutions went through Committee, and ordered to be reported.

House resumed.