§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
remarked, that it was but fair to the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck), to state the course he intended to pursue. He understood that it was his noble Friend's intention to meet the Motion by a Motion to send the Bill to a Select Committee. When he first made the proposition respecting the duty on colonial rum, he had stated, that he meant that there should be a higher duty upon it than upon British spirits by sixpence. Since then he had had repeated interviews with distillers, and Members who acted on behalf of their constituencies, and they had all represented that the difference of duty was not adequate in the way of protection. He could not say that his own individual opinion had been changed on the subject. He still thought that a differential duty of 6d., fairly paid, would be just to all parties; but he had been induced to reconsider his determination in this respect, and he found that he could give way without the surrender of any principle. He had been anxious to meet the views of the more moderate of those who represented the distillers; and, with that view, it was his intention, in the Committee, to propose that the duty on colonial spirits should be such as to make it 9d. a gallon higher than that on British spirits. Instead, therefore, of its being only 6d. a gallon higher, as it now stood in the Bill, it would be 9d. higher. He would not then go into his reasons for this course, either one way or the other, as he should have to assign his reasons in the answer which he should have to make to his noble Friend; but he thought that it was only fair to the House, and to his noble Friend, that they should be apprised of what be intended to do on the subject.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
then rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, for referring the Bill to a Select Committee up stairs, and said: Sir, I feel that I require the most especial indulgence of the House—indeed, I may say, even the toleration of the House on this occasion, for of all the dry and dull subjects 492 that could possibly be introduced, the question which it is now my misfortune to bring under the consideration of the House is the driest and dullest; and I fear I have neither the tact, nor the talent, nor the ingenuity, to enliven a debate on such a subject. I cannot say that I bring any party feeling into the discussion of this question; I believe it is the wish and desire of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do the most perfect justice between all the parties concerned in this matter; but, at the same time, I feel bound to say that I believe he is in error in forming the judgment at which be has arrived. If this question had been one merely of pounds, shillings, and pence, it would have been dull and complicated enough; but this is a question in which are concerned, not pounds and shillings, but pence, and halfpence, and farthings; it is, therefore, a dry and complicated question, involving minute details of pence and farthings chiefly: and I think, on that ground, I am justified in the proposal I have made at the outset, that instead of going into a Committee of the whole House on such a subject, we should refer the matter to a Select Committee up stairs; for, if ever there was a subject which required the calmest, the most deliberate, the most careful calculation by every Gentleman considering it, with pen in hand and ink and paper before him, it is this question of the differential duties between rum and British spirits. The question is more complicated on this account, that the cases of the English, Scotch, and Irish distillers all differ from each other; and not only that, but one part of Ireland differs from another part of Ireland, and one part of Scotland from another part, in like manner. But, Sir, if I was justified in asking for this Committee when I gave notice of my intention of so doing, so far from being dissuaded by the announcement which my right hon. Friend has just now made, I am the further inclined to persevere, by the fact that even the mind of my right hon. Friend is not fully made up on this subject. Up to a certain time, my right hon. Friend thought the duty ought to be but 6d.; but he now consents to give way, although his opinion is not changed. Therefore I think I have a good right to ask the House for a Committee up stairs, to assist in arranging and deciding what is the proper amount of differential duty to be fixed on British spirits and on colonial rum. And I can assure my right hon. 493 Friend, that if I am put on that Committee, so little is my prejudice on this subject—so little is my desire to give the British distillers any unfair advantage over the colonial distillers—that if he can prove that, instead of 9d., a duty of 6d., or even no differential duty, is necessary to meet the justice of the question, I shall be the first to propose that there shall be no differential duty. But I think I could show before a Committee up stairs, though not, perhaps, a Committee of the whole House here, that British distillers are entitled to a larger amount of duty than 9d. Sir, it is not very long ago since an Act of Parliament was passed regulating the differential duties between the Channel Islands and Great Britain. That Act is the 65th cap. of the 8th and 9th of Victoria, and it is intituled "An Act to determine what shall be the Countervailing Duties between the Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark, and Great Britain," and was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). In that Act it was recited that 1s. 2d. should be the countervailing duty between spirits manufactured in the Channel Islands and in Great Britain. Now, nothing has occurred since the passing of that Act to alter the decision then come to, except the alteration in the corn laws. Well, then, the point now is, to what extent has the alteration of the corn laws affected the question of the duties? Now, as this Act was passed in the year 1845, I must consider the duties under the corn law of 1842, and I find the average duties paid on barley between the years 1842 and 1845 inclusive were 5s. 11d. I do not know whether the House is aware that a quarter of malt grain will produce about 19 or at most 20 gallons of spirits; therefore a duty of 3s. would fall to the extent of about 2d. a gallon on spirits. The entire duty on barley is 5s. 11d.; but I cannot reckon that above half that duty is paid by the consumer, because, there being a duty of 3s. on malt, the other half is paid by the producer of the barley. If that be so, then 2d., or something more than l¾d., is all the difference that exists now and that which existed in 1845, when the Government introduced the Bill for the regulation of the duties between the Channel Islands and Great Britain. Therefore I have a right to assume that 1s., or at least ll¾d. a gallon, is still a just assessment between rum and British spirits. That Act recited that the object of it was 494 to determine by Parliament what was the extent of the excise restrictions, and it then decided that these restrictions amounted to 1s. 2d. per gallon. Then I have this primâ facie evidence in my favour, that in the opinion of Parliament in 1845, 1s. 2d. was a fair countervailing duty to the restrictions of the excise laws; but I am prepared to show that this is a very moderate estimate of the real charge and expenses caused by the excise laws. It is within the knowledge of the House, or, at all events, of those Gentlemen who have paid attention to these subjects, that the excise laws were altered in the year 1823. They were altered, not for the advantage of the distiller, but for the better security of the collection of the excise duties. The result of those alterations was, that a distiller was no longer permitted to brew and to distil at the same time, or to brew and distil at all on the same premises on which he was permitted to rectify. He was also put under a vast number of other restrictions, to which I shall presently allude. But the effect of these main restrictions, preventing a distiller from distilling and brewing at the same period, makes it necessary for every distiller to double his plant, the size of his buildings, and the number and size of his coppers; and the result is, as it came out in evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons which sat in 1833, that a distiller whose business was, before the alterations, carried on with a capital of 40,000l., requires under the new regulations a capital of 80,000l. Now, taking first the Irish case, it was given in evidence before that Committee, that in Ireland the distiller who produced yearly 60,000 gallons of whisky or raw corn spirit, previously to the alterations, required but 5,000l. for the plant of that business; but that, in consequence of the new restrictions, it has become necessary for him to lay out 5,000l. more, in order to do the same amount of buiness. Now, I believe that 10 per cent per annum is a fair sum to allow on property of this perishable description; and that gives a sum of 500l. a year to be charged on the 60,000 gallons of spirits produced, or exactly 2d. per gallon. That is the first item under the excise regulations. The next item is the loss of material arising out of these restrictions; and although it is not, probably, known to the great majority of the House, yet it is well known to those engaged in the business of distilling, that the restrictions oblige the distiller to brew 495 to a certain gravity—oblige him to give so many hours' or days' notice of every movement he makes—oblige him, between each brewing or each distilling, to stop his works altogether for twelve hours; and oblige him, consequently, to extinguish his furnaces. The waste and loss of corn to which that leads, has been estimated by many distillers at one-twelfth of the whole produce; and this item the Irish distillers put at 2d. per gallon, at the lowest calculation. Then there is another important item, and that is the loss in the wages of workmen. For the same reason that it is necessary for a distiller under the excise regulations to double his plant, it is also necessary for him to increase, although not to double, the number of hands he employs. The same man who could superintend at once the brewing and the distilling formerly, must now of course expend a double amount of time, and therefore receive double wages; as the distiller can no longer brew and distil at the same time. The Irish distiller estimates his increase of expenditure from increased wages at ½d. per gallon; which makes, with the two former items, 4½d. per gallon. I now come to another important item, which is, perhaps, the most remarkable of all, and the mention of which alone ought, I think, to be enough to induce the House to grant the Committee for which I move. It is necessary for the distiller to make use of yeast. But by one of the excise restrictions a distiller is forbidden to make use of any article in his distillery which is produced by his own brewing; and the English, the Irish, and the Scotch distiller is consequently absolutely forbidden to use the yeast which he himself makes. And it is a fact, extraordinary as it may seem, that in order to enable the excise laws to be carried out, every distiller is obliged to turn his yeast down the gutter, and afterwards to go elsewhere to purchase the yeast he may require. I have been assured by Irish distillers, that every distiller in Galway, Belfast, Drogheda, and Cork, is obliged to turn the yeast he himself manufactures down the gutter, while the Cork distiller afterwards purchases his yeast in Dublin, and the Belfast and the Drogheda distiller purchases his yeast in London, although each of those distillers might have yeast of his own making without any expense. The cost of yeast for every gallon of spirits amounts to a penny; and as there are 26,000,000 gallons of spirits distilled in England, Ireland, and Scotland every year, a sum of 108,333l. is 496 annually wasted under that excise regulation to which I refer. That charge of 1d. a gallon for yeast makes, with the 4½d. I have already enumerated, a sum of 5½d. a gallon, which the distiller loses by the alteration which was made in the excise regulations. I now come to the malt duty. I am speaking of Ireland. In Ireland, in what are called the raw-corn spirits, about 2–13ths of the corn is malted; therefore there is a charge for malt duty on 2–13ths of the corn employed. The malt duty amounts to 1s. 4d. per gallon; and as 2–13ths of the corn employed pays that duty, the charge imposed by it amounts to about 2½d. per gallon. But one who was a high authority on all these matters in former times—I mean Mr. Huskisson—maintained that while the malt duty was in itself a heavy charge, the restrictions imposed by that duty added half the amount of the duty to the cost of malt. And well might Mr. Huskisson make that statement, for the same restrictions which apply to distilling, also apply to the making of malt under the excise regulations. The maltster is tied to time, with respect to steeping his barley, and also with respect to laying it to cool. I believe that forty hours is the time allowed by the excise regulations for laying out barley to cool; but if the weather should be unusually cold that time is not long enough, and the consequence is, that in very cold weather a comparatively small portion of the essence of the barley is extracted. If, however, the weather should be unusually hot, the barley sprouts long before the termination of the forty hours; but the maltster is, nevertheless, compelled, under the excise regulations, to look on and see his barley sprout, with the certainty that it will afterwards turn mouldy. He is, in fact, forbidden by the excise laws to save it from destruction. Those with whom I conversed upon the subject, assured me that, on an average, the loss from the sprouting of barley too soon, and its becoming mouldy, amounts to half-a-crown on every quarter of barley. But to that must be added the loss which arises in cold weather from barley not being steeped sufficiently long. Under these circumstances, I think Mr. Huskisson had very good grounds for stating that the lowest sum at which he could fix the cost of these restrictions to the maltster was 50 per cent of the duty itself. If, then, I add 50 per cent to the 2½d. per gallon which is paid on spirits under the malt duty, as I have already shown, the 497 whole sum will amount to 3¾d.; and that will make, with the sums I have already mentioned, a total of 9¼d. per gallon. Then I come to what are called the decreases. In the case of British spirits, the duty is charged on the quantity which leaves the worm-end. But as regards rum, the case is entirely different. The duty is charged on rum not as it leaves the worm-end, not as it leaves the West Indies or the East Indies, and not as it arrives in this country. The rum, when it arrives here, after leakage and evaporation in a hot climate, which improves the quality of the rum, is put into bond, and the duty is paid, not on the quantity which comes into bond, but on the quantity which goes out of bond. Now, I find by a reference to the papers which were laid before the House last year, in consequence of an order of the 29th of last May, that the allowance made to rum-producers amounted to 3d. 6–10ths in England, to 6d. 7–100ths in Ireland, and to 8d. 5–10ths in Scotland on each gallon. In England the reduction allowed to the producers of rum was 76,794 gallons on 2,411,001 gallons, and the amount of duty returned was 36,248l. for leakage and evaporation; in Ireland the number of gallons allowed was 737 on 13,717 gallons, and the amount of duty returned was 347l.; and in Scotland the number of gallons allowed was 3,287 on 43,231 gallons, and the amount of duty returned was 1,534l. I believe it will be found from these items, that I have correctly estimated the allowance per gallon in each of the three kingdoms. Now, if any Gentleman will make the calculation, I believe he will find that I have justly estimated the allowance which is made per gallon on rum in the three separate kingdoms; but I have not made that calculation on grounds which will apply to the reduction now proposed by the Government; but I speak with reference to the reduction which I imagined was to be made when I came into the House, and therefore my calculation will be so far incorrect, because, of course, the additional reduction will add to the amount which is to be given back to the rum producer. However, I have made a calculation of what would be the amount of the drawback, as I may call it, for leakage and evaporation allowed to the rum producer in England, Scotland, and Ireland; and I find that in England the drawback with the proposed duty of 6d., will be 3d. and 4–10ths of 1d. a gallon; in Ireland 2d. and 1–10th; in Scotland, 4d. and 3–10ths. 498 The House will observe that the duty before this, on rum, was 8s. 10d. a gallon in the three kingdoms, and it is now proposed to be reduced to 8s. 4d. in England, to 4s. 2d. in Scotland, and to 3s. 2d. in Ireland; therefore I am obliged to calculate the drawback on the reduced duty, and I believe that I am not incorrect when I state that to be the advantage, as far as drawback is concerned, as between the rum producer and the distiller of British spirits; and, therefore, taking the Irish case, I have assumed, the disadvantage of the Irish distiller of raw corn spirits at 2¾d. and 1–8th a gallon as regards this drawback. Adding this to the items already stated, the result of the whole is, that under these restrictions, the disadvantage of the Irish distiller is 11¾d. and 1–8th of a penny; so that, in respect of tangible and substantial disadvantage, such as I am able to measure in money, the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have given 2¾d. and 1–8th more than he has put on by his amended proposition. I have not, however, included in this calculation the bar which these restrictions impose on every distiller in the way of effecting any improvements. The distiller cannot change any of his utensils; he cannot alter his mode of proceeding in any way; he cannot choose his ingredients; and he is forbidden to use the very molasses from which is made the rum imported into this country. The distiller, the maltster, and the rectifier, are the only persons in this country who are now prevented by the excise duties from improving the articles they produce. I do not pretend to be able to calculate the amount of the loss to which the distiller is exposed by this incapacity of improving his mode of manufacture. But I may refer, by way of illustrating that point, to the great improvements which took place in two other trades from the removal of excise duties. It is within the knowledge of every Member of the House that up to the year 1831 an excise duty was imposed on printed cottons. In the year 1831, Lord Althorp removed that duty; and what was the result of the removal? Why, it appears that in the course of the three years following the removal of that excise duty, the exportation of printed cottons increased by 51,000,000 yards; and in the year 1845 the increase amounted to 238,000,000 yards. Another example of the same kind is, the removal of the duty on glass—a measure for which the country is indebted to the right hon. Baronet 499 the Member for Tamworth. What was the effect of the removal of those duties? Every one will recollect the speech of the right hon. Baronet, in introducing that proposition, respecting which although perhaps his sanguine expectations were not realized, still the improvement created was something very surprising. A paper was laid on the Table of the House last year, showing the effect of the removal of the glass duties. It was stated that as regards plate and window glass, the manufacturers had availed themselves of the increased demand, and an increase in the works had been the consequence; that the demand, for crown, sheet, and plate glass became so great that the orders could not be supplied; that additional houses had commenced working; that large factories were erected in Dublin, Belfast, and other places; and that the great difficulty was to procure a sufficient number of skilful workmen, who took advantage of the demand to enforce special stipulations; and that the demand exceeded all expectation. The extra make since the repeal of the duty was estimated at not less than 50 per cent. Besides the old glass houses, five new ones had started, and five more were under weigh, and nearly all, both new and old, were making or were about to make sheet glass. Workmen were making from 4l. to 6l. a week. The document concludes by stating that it would be impossible to point out any alteration made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth which had been so signally successful as the repeal of the glass duties, more especially those relating to window glass. The supply had not been able to meet the demand, and, from the scarcity of workmen, wages had risen fully 30 per cent. In the case of glass, I have shown a very strong example of what the removal of the excise duties will do, for it must be borne in mind that, as regards the glass duties and the removal of the excise duty upon it, the great increase of the trade was not created by any increased export of glass, for soon after the passing of this law the duties on foreign glass were repealed altogether; and the consequence was, that foreign glass came into competition with English, the drawback on English glass exported was withdrawn, and English glass had to contend in foreign markets with foreign glass on equal terms; and so far from the export of English glass being increased, it was very much diminished, whilst the importation increased. But 500 what happened was this. The excise duties being taken off, a great impulse was given to the trade at home, and it was the home consumption which created this enormous increase of prosperity in the glass trade. I think, therefore, by referring to what the removal of the excise duties did in printed cottons in 1831, and the removal of the excise duties on glass in 1845, spite of the competition of foreign glass, I am entitled to say that it is almost impossible to calculate what loss the Irish, Scotch, and English distillers suffer by being thus cramped and fettered in their manufacture. As regards Ireland, there is another consideration connected with these excise duties. Whisky is the native drink of Ireland; but a very small portion drunk there is made of malted spirits, and that arises from the malt duty. The effect of malting barley is to extract from it all its noxious properties, so that the effect of the excise duties in Ireland is, I believe, that not more than 100,000 gallons of spirits are made from malted corn in all Ireland; and with that exception the Irish people are compelled by the excise and malt duties to consume a poisonous instead of a more wholesome spirit. On the subject of the malt duties, another disadvantage under which distillers of Great Britain and. Ireland labour is this, that no drawback is allowed them on exportation to foreign, countries or the colonies. What has been the consequence of that? That whilst on the average of the last three years you have exported to foreign countries of beer to the amount of nearly 500,000l.—437,000l., I believe—and whilst of foreign spirits 303,000 gallons have been exported, no British spirits of any description have, been exported. Your excise laws, in fact, prohibit the trade of the British and Irish distiller with foreign countries. Therefore, I think, as far as Ireland is concerned, I have made out a complete case for a Committee up stairs. I now come to the case of the English distillers. It differs somewhat from that of the Irish, inasmuch as the English distillers only employ half the quantity of malt used by the Irish distillers, and have recourse to the process of rectifying, to purify their spirits, as a substitute for malting. On the other hand, the very fact of the existence of this excise restriction makes the trade of the English distiller a monopoly, for no man not possessed of a very large capital can engage in the trade, and there are only about six or eight distillers in England. The price is unduly 501 kept up. The English distiller claims a halfpenny upon the foreign duty on barley. The duty on barley, though for the present removed, is supposed to be but temporary, and to be renewed in six mouths, therefore I must take the duty on barley at 2s., and I presume one-half of the duty again is paid by the foreign producer and the foreign importer, and the other half by the consumer. The English distillers claim as the Irish do—
And even if they did not admit 50 per cent the enhanced price of the malt, owing to the duty, the difference would be 12½d. 3–20ths, as the discriminating duty which the English distiller ought to receive. I will conclude with the Scotch case, which varies very much from the Irish and the English. More than two-thirds of the spirits made in Scotland are made from malted spirit; and, therefore, here the principal question is the duty on malt. There were the same restrictions of the Excise, but there was no rectifying: they had to deduct the smaller duty on malt which I have mentioned in the English case as 2¼d. and in the Irish as 3¾d., and they have to set against those sums respectively the entire duty on malt, with the exception of 8d. a gallon, allowed as drawback. The absolute duty paid on malt was 1s. 4d. a gallon; and, deducting the 8d. drawback, there was 8d. left for the difference of that duty alone; and if I am allowed to take the same calculation of 50 per cent on the enhanced price of the malt, I should be entitled to add 8d. more, because the drawback does not apply to the enhanced price of the malt; the price of the malt being 1s. 4d., and the enhanced price 8d. more, together 2s., whilst the 502 drawback is 8d. only on the gross sum; but if I state only the enhanced price on the 8d. after deducting the drawback, the claim would be 4d. more; and the Scotch case would stand thus:—
s. d. For the duty on barley 0 0½ They set the absolute duty on malt at 0 1½ Taking the price as enhanced 50 per cent, I have a right to add 0 0¾ The English distillers also suffered from the yeast being turned down the gutter 0 1 The loss on the material was 0 2 The duty being payable after the decrease 0 3 4–10 The duty paid in advance 0 0½ I have been informed by one large distiller that 80,000l. was now required for machinery to make 100,000 gallons a year, and that but for the excise duty 40,000l. would manufacture the same quantity of spirit, which gave a loss per gallon of 0 1 Then for saving on rectifying 0 3 Making together 1 1½ 3–20
as the discriminating duty to which the distillers in Scotland would be entitled to put them on an equal footing with the producers of rum. I have now completed my entire case, having stated the separate case of the Irish, Scotch, and English distillers, without troubling the House by going into nice distinctions between those who distil from malt alone in Scotland, and those who distil partly from malted and partly from corn spirits. In closing the statement I have made, I beg to thank the House most cordially for the kind attention with which they have listened to it. I trust I have shown a case for going into a Committee up stairs, when witnesses might be examined, and time and deliberation might be used to ascertain what is the exact justice of the case. I am no advocate of any preference or partiality towards English, Scotch, or Irish distillers over the colonial producer. I am no advocate of any monopoly whatever. I desire only equal and exact justice between both parties, and the only way in which that end can, in my opinion, be properly attained, is in a Select Committee up stairs, consisting of impartial Members of this House. I beg, therefore, to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
s. d. For the duty on barley 0 0½ Absolute duty on malt 0 8 Enhanced price 0 4 Yeast 0 1 Difference on account of duty on decrease only 0 3 4–10 Loss of material in the manufacture of the article 0 2 Altogether 1 6¾ 3–20 Or, adding, duty paid in advance 1 7¼ 3–20 And even taking off the per centage for the enhanced price 0 4 There will still be 1 3¼ 3–20
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
was understood to say, that he thought his noble Friend, in the statement he had made, had given the most conclusive reason why they should not agree to his Motion for referring the subject to a Committee up stairs, where nothing more could be elicited in favour of the distillers, than what the noble Lord had already stated to the House. It was not a little remarkable that his noble Friend had overstated the case which the distillers made 503 for themselves, though it was scarcely possible to suppose that they would not put forward their case as strongly as possible. His noble Friend not only went farther than the distillers had gone in the printed paper which they put before the public, but he gave as an additional ground for a higher differential duty, the fact that they were not to be allowed to distil from molasses. The real question, however, before the House was, what amount of differential duty on rum was necessary, in order to place spirits distilled from grain, so far as they were affected by legislative enactments, on an equality with rum. It was, therefore, altogether beside the present question to talk of distilling from any other material than grain. He was sorry not to be able to allow distillation from molasses; but he had, after the most minute inquiry, come to the conclusion that it was impossible to allow distillation from molasses without the greatest risk to the revenue. The evidence of Mr. Smith, an eminent distiller, which he had quoted on a former evening, was distinct on this point. In a recent interview, which he had with two of the principal distillers in London, he had said that he was prepared to allow distillation from molasses, if they, as men of honour, could say that he could do so with safety to the revenue. It was impossible for Gentlemen to behave more fairly than they did; and they both admitted that it was impossible for him to do it without running very serious risk of loss. He would now recall to the recollection of the House the position in which this question stood. They would remember that at the close of the last Session a measure was introduced very much for the benefit of the revenue as well as of the consumer, but which the West Indian body believed would be most detrimental to their interests. He thought, as he had stated at the time, that they had very much exaggerated the injury which that measure would produce to them; and certainly, up to that moment, their anticipations had not been realized, for the price of sugar had been very little reduced, and that of rum had risen considerably. At that time, the West Indians, instead of resisting the reduction of protection, which had been given to them against the foreign sugar, contended, that no other interest should continue to receive a protection of which they were to be deprived; and a more gratifying proof of the soundness of the principles of free trade they could not have, than 504 this, that when they took away protection from one interest, that interest immediateby became the advocate of an extension of the same principles to other interests, whereby the great body of consumers would be sure to be materially benefited. He trusted that on future occasions they would only regard taxation for the sake of revenue; and that those commercial principles, which, he believed, were too firmly established to be shaken, would be carried further till all duties imposed merely for the sake of protection were done away, and no duties levied but such as were required to raise the necessary revenue of the State. He had stated on a former occasion, that he thought there were grounds at present upon which distillers were entitled to a differential duty. He thought so still; and although he had, in deference to the wishes of many persons, and with a view of rendering more certain the success of the measure, increased the amount originally proposed, he thought he should be able to satisfy the House that in allowing a differential duty of 9d., he was giving as much, if not more, than the distillers in any part of the United Kingdom would have a right to demand. There was a considerable difference in the circumstances in which distillers carried on their operations in different parts of the kingdom; but his noble Friend must see that it was perfectly impossible to impose a differential duty in the same country varying in amount, so as to give protection to spirits according as they were produced in a different manner. If he established his point as to one part of the country, he would have established it for all; because, if spirits produced in Scotland and Ireland came generally into competition with spirits produced in England, it was clear that, as the matter now stood, they must be on a perfectly equal footing. In order to show that such was the case, he had taken the amount of spirits imported from Scotland and Ireland into England in the last year; and in that amount hon. Gentlemen would see that it was not merely an importation of small quantities which might be imported for the use of some gentlemen in England, who preferred the flavour of the spirits of Scotland, or of Ireland, but of the large quantities coming into general consumption in this country, and entering into a fair competition with the spirits produced here. Now he found that the spirits produced in England in 1846 amounted to 5,624,000 505 gallons, whilst of spirits imported from Scotland there were 2,136,000 gallons, and from Ireland, 1,418,000 gallons. As those spirits entered fairly into competition with the spirits made in this country, it was evident that what was an adequate protection to spirits produced in England, must be an adequate protection to spirits produced in Scotland and Ireland; and, also that what was an adequate protection to grain spirit in one country, was an adequate protection to the malt spirit of the other. When Lord Ripon was Chancellor of the Exchequer, the differential duty on rum was fixed at 1s. 6d.; but it appeared by the statements made by the distillers in 1830, at an interview with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn), then Chancellor of the Exchequer, that of this 1s. 6d. they considered themselves entitled to not less than 9d. a gallon as the additional cost imposed upon them by the necessity of using British corn, in consequence of the corn laws. If, then, that sum were deducted from the is. 6d., there being no duty on foreign corn at this moment, it was quite clear that, upon the showing of the distillers themselves in 1830, the maximum protection to which, upon any conceivable supposition, they were now entitled, was 9d. a gallon. When the noble Lord, therefore, went beyond the 9d., he was contradicted by the evidence of the distillers themselves. In the course of the last summer the differential duty was reduced from 1s. 6d. to 1s. He stated, at that time, that he would, during the autumn, inquire carefully into the matter; and, if he saw reason to alter the duty, would endeavour to fix it at such a point as would do justice to both parties. With this object, he had requested the West Indian body on the one hand, and the distillers on the other, to send him statements of their respective cases—the one for protection, the other for reduction. He held in his hand the statement sent to him by the distillers. No serious objection was made last Session to the reduction of the differential duty to 1s.; but in this statement they claimed a protection of 1s. 4½d. The first item to make up this amount was 1d. as an equivalent for the duty on foreign corn. He need say no more on this point, as the noble Lord had given it up. The next item was 1½d. for malt duty: this he admitted; but the precise amount was 1¼d., as appeared by the papers which he had already laid upon the Table. The next item was an allowance 506 for decreases, &c., which the distillers estimated at 4d. For a long time he had not been able to understand on what ground they formed so high an estimate. The real amount of decrease was just as well known to the Excise as to the distillers, for the quantities put into the warehouse were known; and the quantities taken out were entered in the permit; so that there could be no question as to the amount. Knowing, therefore, that no such amount as they claimed was warranted by the fact, he could not understand on what they grounded their claim. At least it appeared that they had not estimated the decrease of their own spirits, but had estimated that which took place in spirits imported into this country—that is, in rum. Now the decrease in rum was no test whatever on the decrease on British spirits. Rum was imported in casks from a very hot climate; and from the effect produced by change of temperature, a very serious leakage took place, and very great loss, which was not the case with spirits manufactured here. It was quite clear, however, that if the distillers paid duty only after the decrease had occurred in their spirits, they would have no more claim on that account than the foreign importers; and if he made them an allowance equal to that decrease, they would be on the same footing as the importer of colonial spirit. The argument on this head, as stated by the distillers, was a complete fallacy. He would now show what the value of the decreases really was. He had taken the average of six large distilleries in 1846, and he found that, on a stock of 5,138,000 gallons, the decrease was equivalent to not quite ¾d. a gallon. He had also got an average taken fourteen years ago, and at that time it was under ½d. On Scotch spirits the actual decrease was equal to 33–100ths of ¼d. per gallon; and in Ireland the allowance was equal to ¼d. 15–100ths per gallon. Therefore the maximum allowance for which, upon any reasonable ground a claim could be made for leakage, &c. was ¾d. in England; less than half a farthing in Scotland; and very little more than ¼d. in Ireland. Then his noble Friend came to rectifying. In Scotland and Ireland there was no rectifying; and here it came as much under the description, as his noble Friend had said, of the process of compounding, the spirit being mixed with the juice of juniper berries and other things, for the purpose of imparting to it a particular flavour and 507 quality. But if in Scotland and Ireland there was no rectifying, he could not see that there was any ground for claiming an allowance on account of rectification. The cost of this process was made up for in the price obtained for the spirit. He would, however, show what would be the utmost allowance, if any whatever was to be made. In Scotland and Ireland, where there was no rectification, a larger quantity of malt was used, and by this means a better flavour was given to the spirit. This was the equivalent in those countries for the process of rectification in England. In the printed case of the Scotch and Irish grain distillers, they claimed 2½d. for malt duty. The value of the duty on the quantity of malt used in England was 1¼d., and the other 1¼d., making up the 2½d., was therefore the value of the duty on the extra quantity of malt used in Scotland and Ireland as the equivalent for rectification; therefore 1¼d. would express fairly the cost of the process of rectification. Independently, therefore, of excise restrictions, the claim of the English distillers amounted to 1¼d. for malt duty, ¾d. for decreases, and 1¼d. for rectification—if any thing was to be allowed on that score, which he did not admit — in all 3¼d. In Scotland and Ireland it would be rather less, the allowance due to decreases being less, as already shown. The noble Lord had made a special case for the Scotch malt distillers. He must repeat that they now competed successfully with the grain distillers, and could not possibly claim more protection than the latter. The truth was, that they were compensated by the superior price of their article for the larger amount of duty which they paid. Their spirits were not rectified; and, of course, they had no claim on this ground. Besides this, they had the advantage of a drawback on their spirits when consumed in Scotland; and as a similar advantage formerly enjoyed by the distillers of malt spirit in Ireland had been taken away from them, the Scotch malt distillers, instead of having a stronger claim than others, were a peculiarly favoured class. Perhaps, if even justice was to be done, this drawback ought to be taken away from them. This he did not propose to do, but would leave them as they were. To show how little they needed protection, he would refer to a paper which he held in his hand—a return of the quantity of malt spirits brought into consumption in Scotland in different years. It was— 508
In 1832, the drawback on malt spirits was reduced from 1s. 2d. to 8d., but the production, nevertheless, increased; and was—
In 1829 5,213,000 gallons. 1830 5,529,000 gallons. 1831 5,339,000 gallons.
He would now refer to the quantity of malt spirit sent from Scotland to Ireland. In 1842 the drawback was taken away from the malt distillers in Ireland, and, of course, the malt spirits sent from Scotland to Ireland ceased to be entitled to drawback; but still the quantity of malt spirit sent from Scotland to Ireland increased. The quantity of spirits distilled from malt which was sent from Scotland into Ireland was—
In 1833 5,305,000 gallons. 1834 5,466,000 gallons. 1835 5,486,000 gallons. 1836 6,066,000 gallons.
It was evident, therefore, that the Scotch malt spirit successfully competed in Ireland with Irish spirit, whether distilled from malt or from raw grain. Again, the Irish malt distiller had no drawback at all, and paid the full malt duty, so that it really was absurd for the Scotch malt distiller to make a claim on the ground of the peculiar hardship of his case. With regard to the case of the Irish malt distiller, he competed successfully with the Irish grain distiller, for in spite of the withdrawal of the drawback in 1842, the quantity of malt spirit brought to charge in Ireland was higher in the last two years than it ever had been before the repeal of the drawback. Having now disposed of the alleged special cases, he would advert to the claim on the ground of excise restrictions. They were stated to be 1d. on account of increased plant; 1d. for the expense of coal, purchase of yeast, &c.; and 2d. on account of the restrictions on the manner of working, making in all 4d. He fully admitted, that distillers were subject to disadvantage by reason of these restrictions, which were indispensable for the protection of so large and important a branch of revenue; but it was difficult to appreciate them accurately in money. The Irish distillers claimed 6d. on account of excise restrictions, while the English distiller was content with 4d.; yet the law was the same in both countries; and 509 he saw no reason to suppose that the cost of the restriction ought to be estimated more highly in the one country than in the other. He thought, therefore, that he might assume 4d. to be the outside; and without going into any very minute discussion upon this point, he thought that a very short statement would satisfy the House that this must be a very exaggerated estimate of the real value of the claim on this account. The distillers in England stated that the whole cost of a gallon of raw spirits might be taken at about 2s., of which the value of the materials was 1s. 6d., and the cost of manufacture did not exceed 6d. per gallon; and certainly hon. Gentlemen must be more credulous than he was, if they believed that 4d. out of this amount was to be attributed to any restriction imposed by the Excise. The claims of the English distillers on other grounds he had shown to be only 3¼d., including that for rectification, which he did not admit to be well founded; and, adding to that sum the 4d., as claimed by them on the score of restrictions, the whole amounted only to 7¼d. Believing, as he did, the latter sum to be exaggerated, he himself saw no reason to doubt the soundness of the conclusion to which he had come in the first instance, that a differential duty of 6d. would fairly meet the justice of the case. A most liberal allowance might raise this to 7¼d.; beyond this, he could not see any claim. He had, however, gone beyond this in his anxiety to bring forward a measure which might be carried, and he had fixed the duty at an amount, the utmost which, upon the grounds put forward by the distillers themselves in 1830, they could possibly claim. If his noble Friend opposite would not allow that the distillers themselves knew the facts of their own case, he saw no means by which the House could argue the question then before them with any prospect of coming to a rational conclusion. He would not go again into any detailed examination of the case stated by the Scotch and Irish distillers; for, although upon those statements he had shown that their claims were rather less than those of the English, his decided opinion was, that there could be no real difference between the fair claims of the distillers in the three countries. He would only advert very shortly to that prospect of ruin which his noble Friend had said was impending over the distillers from this measure. He believed 510 that the views which his noble Friend pressed upon the House were most chimerical. There could not be a greater error than to suppose that any very great quantity of rum was likely to be imported into this country. In 1845, the quantity of spirits consumed in the whole empire, amounted to upwards of 26,500,000 gallons; of that vast quantity, only 2,400,000 were rum, and 1,000,000 foreign, leaving a difference of 23,100,000 gallons of British spirits. This instance, and similar returns for other years, showed pretty clearly that rum was not a very formidable competitor in the market against British spirits. Another material fact was this, that every improvement in the manufacture of sugar led to a diminished production of rum. Sugar was the most valuable article into which the produce of the cane could be made; and the more complete the manufacture, the less would be the quantity of rum and molasses. Every one acquainted with the West Indian trade must be aware that the expense of sending rum to this country was enormous; amongst other sources of loss, there was the great leakage in conveying the rum from a hot to a cold climate; the idea, therefore, that the import of rum into this country could injure the distiller, was about one of the vainest fears that could possibly be entertained. He hoped, however, that the West Indians would be benefited by a somewhat increased importation of rum, and that the effect would be to prevent the practice of combining cheap, and perhaps deleterious substances with inferior British spirits, for the purpose of forming a compound resembling rum, to be vended to the consumers of that article instead of sound and genuine spirits. With regard to the question as bearing upon the revenue, he had never considered it in that character; but be believed that, upon the whole, the revenue would be benefited by the measure.
In 1840 427,000 gallons. 1841 432,000 gallons. 1842 drawback in Ireland repealed. 1843 329,000 gallons. 1844 399,000 gallons. 1845 507,000 gallons. 1846 524,000 gallons.
§ MR. CALLAGHAN
said, the right hon. Gentleman had so mixed up the calculations he had himself made, with the cases of Irish and Scotch, and again with the cases of the Irish and English distillers, that the House must receive with caution the conclusions he had deduced. The right hon. Gentleman had failed in showing that the Irish distillers would be compensated for the expense and inconveniences of manufacture, by a differential duty of 9d. or 1s. per gallon upon the importation of rum. Their claim had always been 1s. 6d. per 511 gallon; and justice required that they should go into Committee, in order to discuss that point. At the same time, although the Irish distillers joined with the English and Scotch in demanding a Committee, and would agree to accept 1s. as the differential duty between rum and British spirit, they did not abandon their claim to establish before the Committee the justice of 1s. 6d. being conceded. The right hon. Gentleman had debated the case of the Irish distillers upon untenable ground; for he had argued as if he could show the decreases in their stocks, whilst he had been told the Excise could not give any such account. He had a statement of the contents of a certain number of casks of spirit warehoused in Dublin for exportation to England, the decrease upon which averaged 4⅕ per cent. The loss in bulk in warehoused spirits was about equal to the loss in strength; and in the whole he estimated it at 9.50 per cent. Then it was said by the right hon. Gentleman, that the distillers need not fear the competition of colonial spirits. Their apprehensions on this account were not to be estimated by what had come in heretofore, but rather by the increased powers of production, not in the West Indian colonies only, but in the East Indies, and by the price at which rum could be imported here. The following was an account of the quantities of rum exported from Calcutta to this country from the 1st of November to the 31st of October in each of the following years — 1842–8, 560,000 gallons; 1843–4, 662,000 gallons; 1844–5, 705,000 gallons; 1845–6, 760,000 gallons. The manufacture of this spirit was increasing in the East Indies. The cost of its production must be judged from the market price in this country, which was 1s. 7d. per imperial gallon, after paying the expenses of freight and insurance. How was it possible for any Irish distiller to compete in the English market with rum produced at so low a rate? At present the Irish were not allowed a similar drawback to that which the Scotch enjoyed, although it was evident, that, in order to do justice to the Irish distillers, they ought to be placed in a position as advantageous as that which was occupied by the Scotch. He would also remark, that the alteration in the law, relating to the drawback, by which Ireland was not placed in an equal position, was made, not at the instance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, but was asked for by the distillers of England and Scotland. The Irish 512 distillers, among other causes of complaint against the present measure, complained that it was introduced very suddenly; and they earnestly wished that it would be brought on more gradually than was now proposed. As to the expenses of rectification to which the English distiller was subject, it ought to be recollected that the Irish distiller stated, that he made a better spirit than the English distiller, and suffered, by the manufacture of the superior spirit, a loss more than equal to that which the rectification could possibly cause. Then there was another cause of considerable loss to the Irish distiller, of which, perhaps, hon. Members were not aware—namely, that in Ireland to a great extent spirit was not brought into consumption until it was matured by age: in Dublin, for example, it was the custom to overbold spirits for years before they were brought into use; and this necessary overholding caused a very great loss to the distiller, both by waste and by the locking up of his capital for so long a time. For his part he was satisfied that the Irish distillers could make out a good case for the differential duty which they sought. He had no objection to distillation from sugar; for he only required that the Irish distillers should be put upon an equal ground with other interests. The Irish distillers were subjected to many peculiar losses; and he did not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made out any case against the statements which had been made to him by the distillers of Ireland.
was not a party to any private discussions on this subject before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and therefore now felt himself as free as air. He considered the colonial interest had not been equitably treated on the present occasion. If the right hon. Gentleman arrived at the conclusion that justice and equity required that the discriminating or differential duty that existed between the colonial-made spirits and the home-made spirits should be 6d., he (Mr. Bernal) heard no reason given to warrant the further extension of that duty to the sum of 9d. The hardship of fiscal regulations had been referred to. Now, there were only eight gentlemen who constituted the body of distillers in England; in Scotland they | amounted to 280 or 300. He did not know their number in Ireland; but in England Proper, he regretted to say, that the spirit trade was a monopoly. If those gentlemen suffered from fiscal regulations, 513 let those regulations be mitigated; but those regulations should not be made to weigh against the colonial distiller. The colonist might as well put forward the hardship he suffered in paying 5d. a gallon for freight. The colonist had also to pay for casks and puncheons, every one of the latter costing him 18s. or 20s. But throwing overboard those trifling considerations, he would ask, was the colonist entitled to be treated as a subject of this country? Was the planter of Barbadoes, or the sugar-grower of Trinidad, to be treated differently from an inhabitant of England, Ireland, or Scotland? Fiscal regulations and all incidental hardships should be left entirely out of the question, and the matter dealt with on equitable principles. He should oppose the proposition for referring the subject to a Committee up stairs. A few years ago a Committee investigated the matter; and chemists, distillers, and brewers having advanced the most contradictory theories, no useful result followed from their labours. A similar investigation would only prolong the irritation upon this subject; and the uncertainty of the result would materially injure, if not altogether paralyse, commerce. For what reason did they wish to charge the public a greater sum if they preferred rum to gin? Was it sufficient to say that an additional duty was imposed, because the producer of the latter was hampered with excise restrictions? Was it not stated over and over again that if the principle of protection was to be withdrawn from the colonial sugar producers, that the full advantage of the free-trade principle would also be conceded to them? One mistake made was, that this question should be argued on the supposition that all spirits were produced from malt; whereas it was well known by hon. Gentlemen connected with Scotland that only two-thirds of the spirits produced in that country was produced from malt. The rest was produced from the raw grain. In England there was not more than one hundred gallons produced from malt proper. [An Hon. MEMBER: Seven hundred.] His hon. Friend was mistaken. There were no papers laid on the Table of the House to show that in England spirits were produced from malt alone. The greater part of the spirits made in this country was produced from the raw grain. The same might be said with reference to Ireland. Let him be shown how much the distillers in either of the three countries suffered by the imposition 514 of the duty on malt, and so much, and no more, he thought, should be the discriminating difference between the duty paid upon the colonial article and the home article. If his expenses were increased as a producer of colonial spirits, that was no reason why he should come to Parliament for a reduction of duty; and, taking the thing conversely, he thought the producer in either England, Ireland, or Scotland, had no right to any diminution of the discriminating duty beyond what would be the measure of the duty he paid on malt, independently of the duty he paid on the liquor distilled from malt. As a colonist, he claimed to be on a perfect level with every other British subject, and to be put in possession of the promised benefits of free trade. If fiscal regulations or other hardships pressed on the home producer, let them be removed; but let them not stand in the way of that measure of justice which he, as a British colonist, had a right to expect.
§ MR. GROGAN
contended that the Irish distillers were entitled to some drawback, on account of the heavy burdens imposed on them. It should be recollected that the West Indian producer had this advantage over the Irish distiller—he was permitted to carry on the process of distillation in all its various branches without being subjected to the continual supervision of the Excise, which existed in Ireland. And was there to be no compensation to the home distiller on that ground? With regard to Ireland, the supervision of the Excise acted as a great restraint upon the energies of the distillers. The distilleries previous to the Union were ordered by the Government to be considerably enlarged, in order to facilitate the collection of the revenue, and prevent smuggling as far as possible. And as in Ireland they had been subjected to the vast expense of enlarging their distilleries, in order to meet the views of the Government, he thought that it was not right for parties now to turn round and say that, notwithstanding that, the Irish should be put on the same footing with other distillers. It appeared by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the free-trade measure of last Session, from which they had been induced to expect so much, was not exactly the panacea which it had been described to be. The noble Lord who had introduced this Motion had entered so fully into the merits of the whole case, that he (Mr. Grogan) felt that he should confuse the case if he were to 515 attempt to add to his arguments. He thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not shown a sufficient reason why the protection which this last branch of Irish manufacture enjoyed, should be abolished. All the other branches of trade had been reduced, as it were, into England; and he thought it was but fair for the Irish distillers to ask that their interests should not be disturbed. In support of what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Callaghan), he might observe that he knew one instance in which 80 out of 100 gallons of spirits which had been in bond in the Dublin Custom House, had evaporated in the course of four years, and the strength had decreased 25 per cent.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
considered that in solving the problem before them, they should throw aside altogether the question of national protection. They ought to take care that all the parties interested should have equal and fair play. Now, looking at the proposal and arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, he did not think that, as regarded the larger portion of the Scotch distillers, fair play was going to be allowed. In England, as the law now stood, there was a duty of 8s. 10d. per gallon upon rum, and that upon home-made spirits was 7s. 10d.; in Scotland the duty was 3s. 8d.; and in Ireland, 2s. 8d. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to reduce the duty on rum in England 3d., and make it only 8s. 3d.; in Scotland to reduce it one-half, or make it only 4s. 5d. instead of 7s. 10d.; and in Ireland to reduce it 1s. 5d., so as in each case to preserve a difference between the duty paid upon colonial spirits and that paid upon home-made spirits, of 5d. per gallon. Now, he would not enter into the question—because he did not feel himself competent to do so—as to whether a discriminating duty of 6d. or 9d. was a fair equivalent to the home producer for the difficulties to which he was subjected by the present law; but with regard to the larger proportion of the Scotch distilleries, he wished to call the attention of the House to the following facts: There were two classes of spirits, the raw-grain spirits and the malt spirits. The raw-grain spirits did contain a small portion of malt, which was necessary for the proper fermentation of the liquor. He believed that about an eleventh was the smallest portion necessary for that purpose. But in Scotland the largest portion of the distillation was entirely from malt. The last returns that 516 had been laid before the House showed the amount of spirit made from malt on which duty had been paid. The number of gallons of that class of spirits was 5,368,000; while that of the spirits made from the raw grain was only 1,726,000. Now, the Scotch malt distiller was obliged to pay not only the malt duty upon his spirits, but also the duty which was paid upon the raw-grain spirits. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said, "True it is that the Scotch malt distiller pays this duty; but he does it of his own choice, because he prefers to make his spirits from a better article, namely, malt; he gets a better price for his malt spirits in the market, and therefore he gains what he loses by the extra duty." That would be all very well if he had only to compete with dealers in spirits made from the raw grain; but he had to compete with the dealers in rum also, who, if the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out, would have a superiority over him. They would throw upon the back of the home producer of malt spirits a burden to which the producer of rum was not subject. Scotland stood alone in that respect. In England and Ireland, nearly the whole of the spirits were made, not from the raw grain, but from malt. As, then, the Scotch distillers were in a totally distinct position with respect to this question, he thought that the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would operate very injuriously towards that country. He had listened attentively to the statements of that right hon. Gentleman; but he must say that he did not hear him adduce sufficient reasons for the proposed alteration as regarded the Scotch distillers. He did not stand up there for the purpose of claiming any right of protection for Scotland; all he wanted was justice for all parties concerned.
§ MR. FORBES
said, he had always spoken and voted in favour of the just claims of the West Indian colonists. He had no hesitation in saying that they had been harshly treated by this country; and he therefore hoped that his vote, which he intended to give on this occasion in favour of the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, might not be wrongly construed. He believed that in voting for this Motion, he would be asking for nothing more than strict justice for the distillers of Great Britain and Ireland. He thought that the noble Lord had made out a fair case for inquiry by a Committee of the House.
thought that there were three sufficient reasons why the Motion of the noble Lord ought not to be agreed to: the first of which reasons was, the extraordinary amount of information which had been supplied from time to time to every Member of the House by parties interested in the question; the second was, the very ample debate which had already taken place on this subject; and the third reason was, that if this question were sent before a Committee up stairs, it would have the effect of entirely deranging the operations of both the home-made and the colonial spirit markets. The operations in those markets had been almost completely stopped during the last six months, as the spirit merchants wished to know how the question was to be settled before they made their purchases. He admitted that the Irish distillers laboured under very serious disadvantages; and he should be glad to see the Irish Members bestir themselves for the purpose of procuring their removal.
§ MR. BARKLY
said, after hearing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he thought he should do better for all parties by voting with him than for a Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had introduced the measure at the beginning of the Session, as the result of deliberate consideration, though more had, perhaps, been given to the colonies than they had a right to expect. He thought the distillers of this country would act wisely by consenting to abide by the alteration, although the protection they got under it was less than the monopoly they had enjoyed, which amounted to 600,000l. per annum bonus in their favour against the colonial distillers. The distillers of this country had always a stronghold of monopoly; and it was not surprising that they should have selected the noble Lord the Member for Lynn as their champion, to represent to the House that the interests of the barley-growers were involved in this question. Admitting the justice of equalising the duties, the question before the House was exceedingly simple; referring it to a Select Committee would only embarrass it. The only question was, what was the amount of direct tax upon the home distiller; and then impose a similar tax upon the colonial distiller. The fairest plan would be, to commute the malt tax for an equivalent tax upon spirits; but this the Chancellor of the Exchequer objected to. The hon. Member entered into various details to show that the statements of the English 518 distillers, as to their grievances, were very much exaggerated. If their allegations were true, they had suffered great injustice, and had suffered in silence; and, if the hon Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) would move for an inquiry, he would support the Motion. But he believed they would hear no more of the grievances of the Scotch distillers. The system of drawbacks, introduced in 1821, to encourage legal distillation in Scotland, had led to much fraud; in 1831, a Committee reported that the drawbacks did give a great opening for fraud in Scotland, and a Bill was introduced for reducing the drawbacks one-half; but still they carried on their trade with profit. In his opinion, the Scotch distillers had no case; and that, like the English distillers, they had drawn largely upon the credulity of the House. Most of the Scotch spirits had been made from malted here or bigg, and not from barley. The landed interest had no reason to fear any competition with West India spirits, or that Canada was likely to become a manufacturing country for some time to come. There was one consideration which ought to weigh with the landed interest, namely, that the supply of barley of home growth had been for many years quite insufficient for the demand. Since 1840, our annual import of foreign barley had been nearly 500,000 quarters; and in 1844, it exceeded 1,000,000 quarters. So that the competition would be between foreign barley and colonial barley, and not between colonial barley and barley of British growth. At this late period of the Session, and with an expiring Parliament, to refer the matter to a Select Committee would be only shelving the measure altogether. The colonies had not yet had justice done them; and he, for one, accepted the present measure only as an instalment of what was due to the West Indies.
§ MR. SHAW
could not pretend to a perfect acquaintance with the intricate and minute question then under discussion; and he would, therefore, not detain the House at any length. The speeches on both sides would serve to show the difficulty of the House arriving at a just conclusion, whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right in having originally proposed 6d., in then proposing 9d., or the distillers in claiming 1s. 6d. as the just differential duty. He believed there were not a great many in the House who could even understand the 519 technical terms of "plant" and "decreases," and "back vats" and "worm ends." But all this, as well as the speeches on both sides of the question, ought, he thought, to satisfy the House of the propriety of his noble Friend (Lord G. Bentinck's) Motion, which was not asking them to decide on the precise amount of what should be the differential duty, but only to great a Committee, which would be competent to inquire into, and come to a correct conclusion on, the subject. He would only say, in reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the English distillers altogether denied the authenticity of the paper which the right hon. Gentleman quoted from, as having been put forward by them in 1830; and that the Irish distillers differed essentially in their calculations of their losses, from the figures upon which the right hon. Gentleman relied as an answer to their case. His hon. Friend the Member for Weymouth (Mr. Bernal) said, that the colonist had nothing to do with the fiscal regulations to which the distillers of these countries might be subjected; but surely, if they were not voluntarily submitted to, but that the excise laws imposed upon them an interference with their trade, and restrictions which inflicted a loss that could be easily calculated in money, they were as well entitled to a credit for that loss as the tax upon malt, which his hon. Friend allowed them. Then, the hon. Member for Dartmouth (Mr. Moffatt), although objecting to the Committee, acknowledged that the Irish distillers in particular had grievances to complain of under the existing law. Amongst others, that very unfair distinction between them and the colonists—that while the Irish distiller had to pay the duty upon his Irish spirits before they went into bond, and was not allowed for waste and leakage after, the colonist was only charged upon his rum after all these reductions, when it was actually going into consumption. Upon all those grounds, he contended that the distillers were entitled to a Committee of Inquiry; and, in conclusion, he would make only one general remark, that the distillery trade was one of the most flourishing left to them in Ireland. The plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken the Irish distillers by surprise. They had not, as the English distillers had, an opportunity of putting forward a statement of their case, for the consideration of the Excise, before the Government made the decision 520 which the present Bill was to carry into effect; and one of the most eminent of the Irish distillers, a friend of his own, and a man of the highest character and honour, assured him that after a large expenditure of capital in the trade, caused principally by the excise regulations, that gentleman had not, for the last few years, realised 5 per cent upon his capital, and that he was convinced the present reduction of the differential duty would be ruinous to the trade, and oblige him and every other solvent man to extricate themselves from it as quickly as they could. He would cordially support the Motion of his noble Friend for a Committee.
§ MR. GOULBURN
was anxious to express the opinion he entertained upon this question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had to a great extent anticipated the arguments he meant to use; but as he had formerly taken an active part in such questions, and as he had from previous position some acquaintance with those matters, he would for a short time intrude upon the attention of the House. The noble Lord who made this Motion proposed that, instead of a discussion of this Bill in a Committee of the whole House, it should be referred to a Select Committee up stairs. He thought the noble Lord had made that Motion under a misapprehension, for before such a Committee the noble Lord would not be at liberty to examine witnesses on the points of detail to which he had adverted. The forms of the House would not permit such a course; and the noble Lord would therefore fail in his proposed object of obtaining accurate information. He agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there was, in point of fact, no subject connected with this question to be inquired into which was not already known. Committees on every subject connected with distilling had repeatedly, and even recently, sat and reported. Papers had been circulated, containing all the requisite information derived from parties taking opposite views, and each consulting their peculiar interests; and Members, therefore, had abundant means of forming a judgment as to the course which ought to be adopted. But he must be a very young Member of the House who did not know what was the real meaning and effect of referring a question such as this to a Select Committee. It was to defer indefinitely, of not altogether to defeat, the progress of a measure. In this instance, it would be no other than to defeat the proposed 521 change of duty during the present Session, and leave the matter in uncertainty for another year, unsettling the minds of all who had an interest in those commodities, and causing great embarrassment to all engaged in the spirit trade. The noble Lord went into laborious detail, in order to show how the change would affect the distillers in England, Ireland, and Scotland; and other hon. Members had started various objections to the proposed change. Into these questions of detail he would not enter. They had been fully discussed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he would advert to the progress of the trade, and to the measures which had been passed affecting it, during the last twenty years, as proof of the futility of the objection started to this measure. From May, 1824, until January, 1826, there was no nominal distinction of duty between that which was charged upon British spirits, and that charged upon rum. There was only this difference—that the same duty was charged upon rum at proof, and upon British spirits at seven per cent above proof, the difference in favour of British spirits amounting on the whole to something short of 11d. In 1826, a new excise law having come into operation, Mr. Robinson thought it necessary to make an alteration of the duties on British and Colonial spirits. He fixed the differential duty at 1s. 6d., which amount was thus made up: on account of the taxation upon corn 1s. 1d., on account of the malt duty 1½d.; and on account of the restrictions by the Excise 3½d. With that arrangement the distillers expressed themselves perfectly satisfied; and they might assume, therefore, that 1s. 6d. was then a sufficient protection. That was at a time when the corn law of 1815 was in operation—a law which pressed more upon the consumer of corn than any law that had existed at any subsequent period. If the noble Lord would deduct from that duty of 1s. 6d. the 1s. 1d. then charged on account of the high duty on corn, then it was impossible for him to admit that the real differential duty between colonial and British spirit was, at this moment, at an exceedingly low figure. He could not agree with those who supposed that the approximation of the duties on these two descriptions of spirit would inflict a serious injury on the distillers of this country. For if at the period to which he had referred—a period when the West India planters had full power of employing slave-labour, whereas 522 now they were under great difficulties in obtaining labour of any kind—it should appear that the quantity of rum introduced into this country did not increase, and that the British distillers still kept their hold on the market, then there could be no just ground for alarm that the differential duty now proposed could be a real injury to the distillers in any part of the kingdom. It was a fact that the consumption of British spirits was doubled during the year when there was only a small differential duty. In the year 1830, when he held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, he announced a measure for the purpose of reducing the differential duty from 1s. 6d. to 1s.; but the change which then took place in the Administration caused that measure to be laid aside. But the statement of the case of the distillers was at that period fully before the Government; and, according to their own calculations, the extent of the burden imposed on them by reason of the then existing corn laws, the corn law having been altered in 1829, was 9½d. on the gallon of spirits. Now, these duties on corn had since been repealed: it therefore followed as a matter of course that this 9½d. at least ought, at the present moment, to be deducted from the 1s. 6d. differential duty which the distillers claimed on the importation of rum. By their own showing, the differential duty ought to be no more than 8½d. at the utmost. What then was the case? The distillers had actually been enjoying an advantage far beyond what was an adequate compensation for the charges which they complained of being made subject to by the excise laws and duties on corn. He entirely agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a differential duty of 6d. would more than cover all the burdens to which the British distillers were subjected; but the right hon. Baronet had agreed to make the difference of duty 9d. instead of 6d. If strict justice were done in the case, 6d. duty would be the utmost the distillers could claim; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer was dealing with an interest which had for a long time been highly and unduly protected; and this was true, not merely with respect to the English distiller, with whom the colonial producer did compete in the market, but also with the Irish and Scotch distillers, who had been for years enjoying a prohibitory duty on rum, which gave them a monopoly. There was, therefore, in his opinion, a good reason for dealing tenderly with interests thus peculiarly circumstanced, 523 and for giving them, for a time, while returning to a sounder system of policy, an advantage beyond what the strict justice of the case required. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) had told them that with all their existing advantages from monopoly, the Irish distillers could not make 5 per cent of their capital invested. When it was known that in this country, where there was not a monopoly, gentlemen engaged in that description of commercial undertaking realized much larger profits, he could not but suppose that were the Irish distillers to compote upon fair terms with their English, Scotch, and colonial opponents, they would be able to realize a much larger sum than that which the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated as their present profits. It was at least for their sakes worth while to make the experiment. He did not think it necessary, after the able speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to allude to the question as it applied to England; but with respect to Ireland he begged to say, in reference to what had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, and from the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Callaghan), that in the year 1830, when the subject was under his consideration, and when the Irish distillers were anxious for a continuation of high duties upon colonial produce, a petition was presented, in their behalf by Mr. Pierce Mahony, in which they stated that they were ready to compete with any manufacturers of spirits, domestic or colonial, but that, in order to enable them to do so, they must have the principle of free trade applied to all. If this were extended to them, they were ready to compete; but if it were not, they would be compelled to ask for those protections which other interests enjoyed. If they could make spirits from corn on equal terms with other countries, they expressed themselves quite ready to enter into competition with the manufacturers of any other country. This was highly creditable to them; but what was their present opposition? if they made a correct statement then, they had no claim for an allowance now; and if their statement was not sincere, and only made with a view to mislead and impose upon the Government of the day, their statements now must be regarded with very considerable suspicion. Then as to the case of Scotland, which had been asserted to be different from that of either England 524 or Ireland, because the Scotch distiller distilled mainly from malt, and paid a duty on malt, of which only one-half was paid back. Now, although 1s. 4d. was stated as the amount due to the Scotch distiller for the malt he used, he (Mr. Goulburn) had some doubts whether that was a just calculation, because he knew that in Scotland, as in Ireland also, there was a kind of malt made from here, or bigg, which was introduced into the making of spirits, which paid a less duty than malt made from barley. But setting this aside, if the Scotch distiller had an argument against the introduction of rum at the proposed duty, he had a still stronger argument against the introduction of raw corn spirits into consumption at the present rate of duty. For the corn spirit and malt spirit were charged with the same duty; but the malt spirit competed successfully with that from corn. If therefore the duty on rum was regulated by that on the corn spirits of this country, rum could not interfere with the consumption of the malt spirit; 2,000,000 gallons of malt spirits were annually sent into this country from Scotland, and here they came into that very competition with rum which they professed so much to dread. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had correctly observed how little ground there was for apprehension that an importation of 2,500,000 gallons of colonial spirits could produce any material effect on a consumption of 24,000,000 gallons of home-made spirits. Great stress had been laid on the effect of the excise regulations. He considered the injury resulting from them to be greatly exaggerated. He did not think it possible to form a very accurate pecuniary estimate of the effect of such regulations. In fact, he believed that nothing in general could be more idle than to attempt an estimate of the pecuniary effect of regulations affecting trade. All trades ought to be placed as nearly as possible upon an equality; and he thought that if rum was bonded, British spirit might be bonded also. The right to bond spirits, however, had been offered some years ago to the British distillers, and they unanimously refused it; and they were not, he thought, entitled now to claim compensation for the want of that which they had refused formerly. That these restrictions were no great detriment to the trade, was shown by the fact that 9,000,000 of gallons were brought to charge the year before these restrictions were imposed; the year following, the quantity brought to charge mounted 525 up to 15,000,000 gallons. But it was the case with all trades, that they overestimated the effect of the regulations to which they were subject, and entertained apprehensions beyond all bounds on the eve of changes in the arrangements of customs duties. He was persuaded, however, that the reduction proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so far from injuring the British distiller, was likely to afford him, for some time, a larger protection than the justice of the case required. He should support the proposition of the Government.
MR. M. J. O'CONNELL
thought that a primâ facie case had been made out as regarded the injury that would be done to the British distiller: and this case might be fully established if a Select Committee were appointed. The right hon. Gentleman had certainly made out a case which it would be extremely difficult for him to answer; but he felt satisfied that the effect of the excise restrictions had been greatly underrated by the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Bernal) had stated that they had nothing to do with countervaling duties. The distillers, however, said that these restrictions were of such a vexatious character, that they imposed burdens as great as direct taxation. His hon. Friend said, that if these restrictions were felt severely, application should be made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take them off; but he neither would nor could do so. It had been proved that before, the imposition of these restrictions, great quantities of spirits were received which were never brought to charge. For his own part, he believed that such restrictions were necessary, if they continued such large duties. There was one restriction which fell with peculiar severity on the British distiller—he meant their being prevented using molasses and the coarse residuum of sugar, which made a difference of 8¼d. a gallon in favour of the colonial producer of spirits. This was a matter into which inquiry should be made; and although some inconvenience might arise by referring the subject to a Committee up stairs, still this would be better than at once going into the matter in a Committee of the whole House. These distillers had been induced to embark their capital on the faith of Parliament, and they alleged that they would be seriously injured by the adoption of this plan; therefore a case had been made out for inquiry.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after dilating on the blessings of free trade, and intimating to the House that he was as strong an adversary of protection as heretofore, in preparing us for the reduction of that moderate differential duty which he came down to discuss to-night, terminated his exordium by announcing that the Government had resolved to increase that duty against their conviction. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to prove in a manner very elaborate, and with the satisfactory character of which I am not prepared to quarrel, since it was opposed to the result at which the right hon. Gentleman had himself arrived—the right hon. Gentleman entered into the items which formed the data of the conclusion he had drawn; and had it not been for his having done so, it would have been very difficult to have perceived why the Government, having resolved on a differential duty of 6d., ultimately determined to adopt a differential duty of 9d.; though it would be easy to perceive why they should adopt the proposition of my noble Friend. But I think the right hon. Gentleman has proved—and, following up the argument with which he has favoured us, I think I shall be able to show the House, if it is not already convinced, that he ought not to stop short at 9d. In walking from Downing-street, and changing his mind from a differential duty of 6d. to 3d. more, the more logical course for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have pursued was to enter the House, and either prevent or terminate the discussion by announcing that it was not the intention of the Government to disturb an arrangement which the House had made at the end of the Session of last year. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that in the present case the principles of protection are not in any degree to be made a part of the argument. I take it for granted that the real fair question is—"Is it possible with your present excise system to permit free competition in this country?" I think it is partly agreed by all the Gentlemen who have spoken that with your present excise system, it is not possible to admit free competition in this country; and therefore I will not speak of the right of conceding protection, but of giving competent compensation to those traders who are suffering by your excise; system—who are, in fact, collectors of the revenue to which they contribute. The question is, "What is 527 the degree of compensation which they are to receive from the commercial legislation of this country in consequence of fulfilling that peculiar office—an office which no trader in any other country fills?" Remembering the law of last year—remembering the admissions made throughout this debate by every Gentleman who has spoken, even by those free-traders, like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster, who seems to be one of the most fervent champions of emancipated commerce—every hon. Gentleman, without a single exception, agrees that this compensation should be awarded. The difference between the noble Lord who asks for the Committee up stairs and the Government, is only a difference of 3d., and not of 6d., as we anticipated when we entered the House. Now, what is the just figure that we should fix upon as the amount of compensation to the English trader on account of the excise? Looking to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, as a great authority, from his experience and official knowledge, and the excellent speeches which I have heard from his lips on this question, he would be the very first person that I would select, under existing circumstances, as an excellent mediator on this subject. And, fortunately, we have an Act that has been very recently passed in this House—though not so recently as the one the Government would unsettle—regulating the question with the Channel Islands; an Act which, if not drawn up, was at least sanctioned by the right hon. Gentleman. It is there laid down that the differential duty should be 1s. 2d. That is a great fact. It is a great fact that the right hon. Gentleman very recently—not in the heat of a debate on a party question—for the isle of Sark has never yet been a party question—but in a Bill regulating the trade with the Channel Islands with respect to this question—the right hon. Gentleman has fixed the fair compensation for the British distiller at s. 2d. The right hon. Gentleman may tell me that the settlement now proposed was suggested by the distillers themselves in 1830. At a meeting with some of the principal distillers referred to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir C. Wood), repeated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University, and certainly the same meeting, because I asked both of those right hon. Gentleman the date of the meeting, and both gave 1830—at that meeting it 528 has been said that the distillers themselves fixed what they considered their just compensation at 1s. 6d., and acknowledged that 9d. of that 1s. 6d. was on account of the then, but no longer, existing duty on barley. Now, that has been adduced by both these right hon. Gentlemen with considerable effect. Now, Sir, here is a Chancellor of the Exchequer receiving a deputation from the distillers, that deputation consisting of three of the most considerable individuals of the body, and at a period long subsequent referring, in this debate, to their opinion—an opinion which had been consigned to writing—an opinion which is to be found in the pigeonhole to which the right hon. Gentleman's successor can refer. That opinion has been brought forward, and, if authentic, I admit it ought to have great weight with this House. But let the House recollect the circumstances of the case, as stated by both those right hon. Gentlemen. That deputation in question consisted of three of the most considerable members of that body. Their opinion, we are told, was reduced to writing, and that opinion was, that the proper compensation for the excise restrictions is 1s. 6d., and one-half of that sum was founded on the then existing duties on barley. The distillers do not deny that such a paper is in existence as that referred to, though no living distiller has seen it; but they say that the paper was not written by them, or in their presence; but, on the contrary, it was drawn up after they had retired—and never was submitted to them—by three excise officers who were present. So that these three innocent distillers were turned into three excisemen—the romance of the three virgins turned into three dragons was not more complete. One of the gentlemen is alive, and though turned of 80, and resident at Brighton, is ready to give evidence before my noble Friend's proposed Committee. I protest, therefore, against a paper drawn up under such circumstances being brought forward after a lapse of seventeen years as the opinion of the deputation. One of them, I am aware, gave some of his loose notes to the Mimister; but his Colleagues never saw them, and could not be bound by them. I now come to the question of rectification—the other great point urged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I understood him to say, that the only compensation to which the English distillers was entitled was the value of the English malt used by the Irish distiller. 529 I cannot see how that view meets the case, as the question is what is the injury suffered by the English distiller? The right hon. Gentleman admitted the accuracy of the statements of my noble Friend the Member for Lynn, with the exception of the duty on decreases, and the additional cost of rectification. My noble Friend had stated the duty on the decreases at 2½d. per gallon, and the additional cost of rectification at 3d. Now, in the year ending January, 1840, on 9,300 gallons of foreign geneva, the decrease had been 1,280 gallons, or from 12 to 13 per cent; and with respect to rectification, the law requires it to be done at a distance of a quarter of a mile from the distillery; the rectification entails an increase of 6d. a gallon, of which 3d. would under other circumstances he necessary; and the loss of the other 3d., occasioned by the law, was the measure of compensation which the distiller ought to receive. Then it is objected that the time is too late, Easter not having yet arrived; but then after Easter there is to be a dissolution. This cry of wolf is often raised. I hope, however, when the fatal hour arrives, we shall all be prepared for it, and we shall not stand worse with the country for having in the meantime devoted ourselves to this inquiry. It is a very limited question, and a Committee might soon come to a result. My noble Friend the Member for Lynn apologized for introducing so dry a subject to the notice of the House; he said, that this was a question of pence and farthings. And what is the question? It consists of some five or six items — the greatest amount being 1s. 1½d., the intermediate amount 6d., and the amount recommended by the Government being 9d. And we are told that a Select Committee could not call sufficient evidence in the course of a fortnight. Why, I venture to say, that if the Committee met every day, they could bring in their report at the end of a week. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University, who has such an objection to committees, but who, by the by, voted for the Committee on the Navigation Laws, asks, "What is the Committee to prove? can it give us a report before Easter? "The right hon. Gentleman has given us the result of a deputation of Irish distillers, which, he said, waited on him when he was in office—I think, under the Administration of Lord Liverpool. They rested their case upon what, in those days, was called protection — they rested their 530 case on the corn laws. According to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the duty was 1s. per gallon, which would make the duty on barley to be equal to 20s. per quarter. Well, Sir, here are the average prices of barley at the time. I take the average of a number of years. The right hon. Gentleman tells us of a particular year; I rather suspect that I have found out the particular year to which he referred. The average price of barley between 1824 and 1829 was 25s. 9d. and a fraction; and in 1822, the year I suspect, it was 21s. 10d. If, then, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman be correct, the duty which made the difference of 1s. a gallon, would be 20s. a quarter, leaving the price of the barley itself only at 5s. 9d., or in the year 1822, at 1s. 10d.; whilst, according to the statement of another right hon. Gentleman, who has filled the same office, the price of barley in 1830 must have been only 16s. 7d. We have heard sometimes of agricultural distress, and have listened in this House to many prophecies of low prices; but these statements of the two right hon. Gentlemen paint a state of trade never yet conceived—barley selling at a remunerative price, according to a Chancellor of the Exchequer, of 1s. 10d. per quarter! This shows how easily statements are made by men of great position. They get up with documents from the dusty ages of 1830, and every one feels how impossible it is to contend against men of such experience, who had access to those important archives, and who were masters of the price of barley for every year in the last century. Why, what a vast embroglio of mistakes are all those splendid statistics which each right hon. Gentleman addressing the other across the Table has said were unanswerable! Here we have the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who states to the House that in the year 1821, barley was selling for 1s. 10d. per quarter; and here we have another Chancellor of the Exchequer — a real Chancellor of the Exchequer—who proves to the House that barley, in 1830, was selling at 16s. 7d. per quarter; and the question is to be decided upon these statements! I ask the House, whether they ought to attend to them? The question for us to decide, is one which at first may not appear of vast importance. It is very possible you may not have had meetings throughout England to advocate the interests of this body; but it is a legitimate and a most important commercial question; it concerns the interests of men of established 531 and honourably acquired wealth—an important class in the country. They come to you, and they ask you for nothing but an inquiry. If they asked for a favour, I could easily understand that a Minister would say, "Don't lot us disturb that which is established. What you ask may be right; but you wish to disturb that which is settled: you had better rest as you are; we cannot attend to you." But think of what freaks you have already made with the commercial industry of England. You have already interfered as far as you possibly could with the commercial interests of the country. Only last year there was a considerable settlement of these questions. After we had discussed one of the most important questions connected with the commerce of this country that ever was submitted to the consideration of this House—after it had been settled—after other questions which never could have been settled except that first great settlement had been brought forward, I do not say hastily, I won't say hastily and hurriedly; but certainly in a manner which could not have been anticipated at any other time—after the corn and after the sugar question, you take the question of the distillers, before any opportunity is allowed for even criticising the vast interference which you propose to make with the affairs of a very important and respectable body of men. You do not give them breathing time. These men are taken by surprise, and they complain of that. They have made up their minds as Englishmen to do the best they can with their lot. They ask you to investigate the case which they will present to you if a Committee is granted; they ask you to inquire into the course of legislation proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, I must say, has come down to the House with his mind little matured upon the subject. I do not mean to say that he is incapable of dealing with the question—I should be the last man to question his general competence; but as crude and undigested a statement as that made by the right hon. Gentleman I never heard. He comes down to the House, and, without showing you any reason, asks you at once to accede to his proposition. Before we can say a word, he rises and says, "I change my mind; I am going to make another proposition, I am going to give you half of what you ask for." Why, I should have had more respect for the Minister if he had adhered to his original proposition. I 532 should have had more confidence in him if he had resolutely opposed the Motion. I cannot put much confidence in a Minister who accedes to a proposed change before his original proposition was scarcely uttered. I should have had more confidence in him if he had abided by his original plan. Well, Sir, I hope the House will fairly consider the question which has been brought before us. We are asking for nothing but an inquiry into the effects of the change of the law with regard to this important body of men a few months ago. You have not before you sufficient evidence to enable you to deliberate fully upon the question. Don't you think, then, it would be only just to the distillers — do not you think it to be but a matter of prudence—that before we tamper again with their interests, we should at least, make ourselves masters of the facts, and at least inquire before, we decide?
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, they were not now in Committee, discussing the details of this Bill. The question now before them was a proposal to depart from the ordinary course of their commercial legislation, and to refer those details to an inquiry elsewhere. That proposal, if it rested on any grounds at all, must be founded upon one of those two propositions. Either there must be some party who, having a right to demand such an inquiry, did demand it: or there must be some facts so much involved in dispute and doubt that the regular course of their proceedings did not furnish them with the means of arriving at a satisfactory solution. Now on which of these propositions was the present case to rest? Was there any party who, having a right to demand inquiry, did demand it? The colonist did not ask it: the Motion was confessedly made on the part of the distiller. Had the distiller any right to make it? The hon. Member who spoke last was naturally anxious to escape the force of those very inconvenient documents to which his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge had referred. He spoke of official legerdemain, of papers produced from pigeon-holes; and went on with admirable ingenuity, and much to the amusement of the House, to suggest that a memorial which professed to contain the case of the distillers, had in point of fact been drawn up not by two distillers, but by two excisemen. Now he (Mr. Cardwell) held in his hand the original document itself. It bore about it no marks of having proceeded from an exciseman. 533 It was dated Wandsworth. It was signed "John Atlee." Now, did or did not the written documents put the distillers out of court? The first was their petition, in which they claim to stand upon the settlement made by Mr. Robinson in 1825. That settlement gave them 1s. 6d. The Corn Bill, not of 1828, but the more stringent Corn Bill of 1815 was then in operation. He did not know where the hon. Member for Shrewsbury obtained those figures, which with non-official legerdemain he had paraded before the House. But he knew that Mr. Atlee had taken the actual prices of that very year to which the hon. Member had referred, the year 1830. He would not trouble the House by reading the whole document. He should be happy to hand it over to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, who might amuse himself at his leisure by contrasting Mr. Atlee's actual figures with his own conjectural ones. The conclusion only was that with which he (Mr. Cardwell) was concerned. Mr. Atlee's conclusion was that to the corn law of 1828 was due no less than 9½d. Well, the original settlement was 1s. 6d.: of this 9½d. was due to the corn law. The Chancellor of the Exchequer left the distiller 9d., now that the corn law was repealed! But the hon. Member for Shrewsbury was not satisfied with the authority of Mr. Atlee. He objected to a private letter; and he observed that Mr. Atlee was now in the decline of life, and had ceased to take an active share in business. Yes, but in 1830 Mr. Atlee was in the prime of life—the chosen organ of the distillers—authorized by them to correspond with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But he (Mr. Cardwell) would not disappoint, even in these particulars, the wishes of the hon. Member. He now held in his hand another document—of a public character—printed—bearing the marks with which they were all familiar. It was a circular of 1830, resembling those which had that morning been sent round to Members. It was indorsed "P. and D. Mahony, for the Irish Distillers." Now, Mr. Pierce Mahony still fulfilled all the requirements of the hon. Member. He was still in the prime of life; still engaged in business; and, unless he (Mr. Cardwell) was very much misinformed, he was as active now as he was in 1830 in conducting the Parliamentary case of the Irish distillers. And what said Mr. Pierce Mahony? Why, that his clients the distillers sought no exclusive advantage: they were ready to compete on equal 534 terms with all the world: they only asked to retain the 1s. 6d. in consideration of the disadvantages under which they were placed; and of these disadvantages they estimated the corn law at 1s. If these statements of the distillers were worth anything in 1830, they must be taken at the same valuation now. The upshot of their story was, they stood upon the 1s. 6d. given them by the settlement of 1825: they estimated at 1s. or at 9½d. that part which was due to the corn law. The corn law was repealed, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer left them 9d. So much for the grievance of the distillers. Well, then, for the second proposition. Were there any facts involved in doubt? One thing at least was clear: that the distillers had been giving the noble Lord a vast amount of information. There was one point, however, on which they were particularly conversant, and on which he regretted to perceive that they had not thought it necessary to illumine the noble Lord—he meant the difference between proof and overproof. They might have rendered the noble Lord an essential service if they had guarded him against that worst fault of an advocate, the carrying your statement so far beyond the limits of reason, that its refutation is evident upon its face. The distillers stood upon 1s. 6d., including what was due to the corn law. The noble Lord had carried his claim so far, as even in one of his calculations to arrive at 1s. 7¼d. now that the corn law was repealed. [Lord G. BENTINCK here said he had been misunderstood.] Well, but he had not misunderstood the noble Lord in supposing him to claim for the distillers an allowance of 6d. a gallon, in consideration of the restrictions imposed upon their manufacture by the Excise Department. But what said the distillers themselves? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had read their own statement that 6d. a gallon covered the whole cost of their manufacture, with these restrictions of the excise included. What single fact of the case, then, was unknown to the House, and required to be referred to a Committee? It was true he could not say the exact value of these excise restrictions would be appreciated by the House; but neither could they by a Committee—for they were not in their nature capable of accurate appreciation. The elements of the calculation were known to both sides: the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated them officially to the House. It was for the House itself to deal with them. 535 Then they knew the amount of the malt tax: they knew how many gallons of whisky went to a quarter of malt: they knew what proportion of the whole amount of spirits distilled came under the title of malt spirits. Then as to the wasteage. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought the allowance on this score should be calculated upon the actual wasteage of malt spirits. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury had a fancy that the wasteage upon whisky should be calculated according to the leakage upon rum. Well, if this fancy deserved discussion, the House was the place to discuss it. So far as fact was concerned, the actual wasteage of whisky, and the actual wasteage of rum, both were known. Every necessary fact was officially before the House. Well, but it was the duty of the House to regulate the commercial legislation of the country. That was the responsibility under which they stood, and from which they could not be relieved. Both sides—both the colonist and the distiller—had a right to come to them and say, "Our trade is paralysed by delay: you are the Imperial Legislature: you have the facts before you: discharge your functions according to your judgment: set this question finally at rest. We, on our part, confiding in the justice and in the wisdom of Parliament, shall be satisfied with your decision: relieved from the oppression which delay and doubt occasion, we, by our own industry and our own exertion, shall proceed to do all that the energy and opportunity of each shall enable us respectively to attain."
§ LORD J. MANNERS
wished, in a few sentences, to reply to the hon. Gentleman. He said, that no case had been made out for departing from the ordinary course of commercial legislation; and he proceeded to infer what he (Lord J. Manners) denied, that referring the question to a Committee up stairs was departing from that course. Indeed, so far from such being the case, there was nothing more common in questions of difficulty and complexity than to refer them to a Select Committee—in fact, it was one of the great purposes of such bodies. For where could any subject be more calmly discussed, more fully considered, and more completely investigated, than by such a tribunal? The hon. Gentleman added, with singular boldness, that there was no need for a Committee, because none of the facts were disputed. Why, that was so far from being the case, that almost every Member who spoke upon 536 the question, and entered into details, differed upon the facts. There had been difference upon the "decrease"—the extent to which the restrictions affected the manufacturers—and numerous other matters essential to be known, in order to arrive at a just conclusion. From what he could learn, the distillers and Excise were entirely at variance upon several heads? But suppose they were agreed, had not the House a right to be informed upon them; at least, ought not the House to know something of them before they proceeded to legislate? But the main argument of the hon. Gentleman was, that reference to a Committee would unsettle the question, and disquiet and disturb men's minds. He wished to know, would the course proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer give quiet and settlement? Quite the reverse; and it was precisely because he wished to see the question finally set at rest, which could only he done by legislating with a full knowledge of the facts, instead of in darkness and by guess work, that he voted for the Motion of his noble Friend. Several hon. Members who had addressed the House had expressed their fears that the question would not be now adjusted. The hon. Member for Weymouth (Mr. Bernal) had given a most important warning to the House on behalf of the West Indian interests, with which he was thoroughly acquainted. He said that he would be no party to such a compromise—that he would not accede to such a settlement. The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Barkly) said, that the interest with which he was connected, so far from being contented, intended to agitate after this "settlement;" and ended his speech with saying that the only reason that induced him not to vote for the Motion of his noble Friend was, that he accepted this offer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as an instalment. But yet the hon. Member based his argument upon the assumption that this was a settlement of the question. Supposing that the English, Scotch, and Irish distillers consented to the measure, which they did not, still they must not quite forget their fellow-subjects in the colonies—they must not quite overlook their interests. Again, it was not by any means clear from what had transpired, that the Members of the Government themselves would accept of this as a final settlement. After the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would not be at all surprised 537 to see him in the new Parliament, or even during the present Session, coming down to propose another alteration in these duties. It was therefore no more than a common act of justice and prudence to accede to the Motion of his noble Friend, to which he gave his hearty concurrence. He would not have troubled the House but for the very confident manner in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe had argued against the Motion upon two grounds, which so far from being as he had stated them to be, were the very reverse, for there was a demand for inquiry, and there was not that completeness of information which would enable the House to legislate finally and permanently, where permanent legislation was so desirable.
§ The House divided on the Question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 185; Noes 68; Majority 117.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acheson, Visct.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Acland, T. D.||Cripps, W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Deedes, W.|
|Aldam, W.||Dennistoun, J.|
|Antrobus, E.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Archbold, R.||Dodd, G.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Douglas, Sir H.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.|
|Austen, Col.||Drax, J. S. W.|
|Baillie, Col.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Baine, W.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bannerman, A.||Duncan, G.|
|Barclay, D.||Duncombe, T.|
|Barkly, H.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Dundas, F.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Dundas, hon. J. C.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ellice, E.|
|Benbow, J.||Entwisle, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Escott, B.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Evans, W.|
|Bernal, R.||Fielden, J.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.|
|Botfield, B.||Forster, M.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Fox, C. R.|
|Bright, J.||Gill, T.|
|Brotherton, J.||Gisborne, T.|
|Buller, C.||Gladstone, Capt.|
|Buller, E.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Busfeild, W.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Greene, T.|
|Cardwell, E.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Christie, W. D.||Hastie, A.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Hawes, B.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Heneage, E.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Hollond, R.|
|Holmes, hon. W. A.||Polhill, F.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A. C.|
|Hope, G. W.||Price, Sir R.|
|Hoskins, K.||Protheroe, E. D.|
|Howard, hn. C. W. G.||Pusey, P.|
|Howard, P. H.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Hume, J.||Reid, Col.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Hutt, W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Rich, H.|
|James, W.||Romilly, J.|
|James, Sir W. C.||Ross, D. R.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Langston, J. H.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Layard, Maj.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Le Marchant, Sir D.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Lindsay, Col.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Loch, J.||Smith, B.|
|Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.||Smith, J. A.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|M'Donnell, J. M.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Marshall, W.||Stansfield, W. R.|
|Martin, J.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Masterman, J.||Stewart, J.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Moffatt, G.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Monahan, J. H.||Thornely, T.|
|Morpeth, Visct.||Towneley, J.|
|Morris, D.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Mure, Col.||Turner, E.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Neville, R.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|O'Conor Don||Villiers, Visct.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Wall, C. B.|
|Ord, W.||Warburton, H.|
|Oswald, J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Paget, Col.||Williams, W.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Wood, rt, hon. Sir C.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Wyse, T.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Young, J.|
|Philips, G. R.||TELLERS.|
|Philipps, Sir R. B. P.||Tufnell, H.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Craig, G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Alford, Visct.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Arkwright, G.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Baillie, W.||Gordon, hon. Capt.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Bateson, T.||Grogan, E.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Broadley, H.||Henley, J. W.|
|Broadwood, H.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Hodgson, F.|
|Callaghan, D.||Hodgson, R.|
|Clifton, J. T.||Johnstone, H.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Disraeli, B.||Jones, Capt.|
|Duff, J.||Knight, F. W.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Fellowes, E.||Lockhart, W.|
|Finch, G.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Forbes, W.||Macnamara, Maj.|
|M'Carthy, A.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|March, Earl of||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Marton, G.||Smollett, A.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Morgan, O.||Stuart, J.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Newry, Visct.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|O'Brien, C.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|O'Brien, W. S.||Wodehouse, E.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|O'Connell, J.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Packe, C. W.||TELLERS.|
|Palmer, R.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Rendlesham, Lord||Beresford, Maj.|
§ House went into Committee. Clauses agreed to.
§ On the Motion to report progress,
§ MR. HUME
observed, that he did not rise to object to the bringing up of the Report, but to express the deep regret he felt that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have abandoned the original intention he had made with respect to the protection to be extended to the colonial produce. This vacillating conduct showed that the right hon. Gentleman had not confidence in himself, and could not depend upon the support of the country.
§ House resumed. Bill to be reported.