§ On the Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means on the Sugar Duties,
§ MR. B. ESCOTT
called the attention of the House to a subject on which there had been a misunderstanding in the House and in the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to make a reduction of the duties on sugar to the amount of 3s. 6d. It subsequently became necessary to bring in a Bill, with the acquiescence of all parties in the House, to continue the sugar duties for one month. The proposition which the right hon. Gentleman first made to the House was, that he would bring in a Bill to continue the sugar duties for one month, not the old duties, but the duties reduced according to the proposition of Government by 3s. 6d. When that proposition was formally made by the right hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Montrose suggested that it would be better that the Bill continuing the duties for a month should continue them as they had previously existed, and not with the reduction proposed by Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer at once acquiesced in the proposition of the 905 hon. Member for Montrose, and said he thought it would be better to continue the duties as they had previously existed; but he did not think it necessary to give any reasons to the House for his acquiescence in that proposition. He must say, for his own part, on reconsidering the subject, and hearing the opinions of persons interested in the trade, and those who had the best means of information, and knew the advantage that would be gained, not only by the trade, but by the public, by this reduction of 3s. 6d., they should have the Bill with the advantage of the reduction of duty to 3s. 6d.; and he hoped that no off-hand acquiescence in the proposition of the hon. Gentleman would prevent him from reconsidering the subject, and in this Bill for a month reducing the duties by 3s. 6d.
§ MR. HUME
explained, that his motive in making the suggestion, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had acquiesced, was to avoid having a topic introduced which would necessarily open the door for a long discussion on the sugar duties, before the general question had been formally submitted to their consideration. It appeared to be the general desire that there should be but one debate on this question, and that when it arose all the Amendments which were on the book on the subject should be discussed together. With respect to the proposed reduction of 3s. 6d. a cwt., its effect just at the present moment would be to throw that amount into the pocket of the importer, without benefiting the public. He was for the abolition of differential duties on colonial and foreign sugar; but some time must elapse before it could be done, in order to enable the Colonies fairly to compete.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had postponed the reduction alluded to entirely from considerations of convenience, in respect to the peculiar circumstances in which he had found himself, and thinking it would be more advisable to have the general question discussed altogether at one time; he did not at all agree with the hon. Member for Montrose on the subject.
§ The Resolution agreed to. Bill ordered to be brought in.
§ Bill brought in and read a first time.