HC Deb 24 July 1849 vol 107 cc895-7

On the Motion of the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUBE for the House to resolve itself into Committee on this Bill,


said, the object of one of the clauses of the Bill appeared to him to be objectionable. The proposed mode of keeping accounts was unsatisfactory, as under it they would find it impossible to ascertain the real amount of consumption, except they deducted the quantity of articles exported from the quantity imported. If, under such circumstances, the official accounts were not more accurately prepared, and delivered at an earlier period, they would be comparatively useless. There was another clause in the Bill which he conceived was also objectionable. He alluded to the clause which proposed the reduction of the duty on embroidery. It was proposed to reduce the duty of 20 per cent now paid on embroidery and needlework from foreign countries to 15 per cent. and from British possessions to 5 per cent. In 1846, when the new tariff was under consideration, the present duty was imposed, and he could not conceive that sufficient reason existed to reduce it now. The duty paid on foreign embroidery and needlework imported in 1845 was 61,524l., and in 1846 it was 76,320l. After the passing of the tariff by which the duties were reduced, the duty for the year 1846, on the same articles, was 116,346l., and in 1848 it was 110,184l. The class of persons who would be more particularly affected by this proposal, were those who at present could hardly obtain adequate means of subsistence. When the difficulties of those poor women were increased in this way, many of them might be driven into the streets to endeavour to obtain food by the most revolting means to a mind of the slightest delicacy. Under such circumstances, he thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to abide by the duty imposed on those articles by the tariff of 1846.


said, the only article affected in the way suggested by the hon. Gentleman was corn, but he hoped the House would not enter upon a corn-duty debate.


said, he had not intended to excite a corn-law debate.


did not charge the hon. Gentleman with attempting to do so. The only article to which the clause alluded to by his hon. Friend was corn. No other article subject to the payment of duty could be brought under it. As for the reduction of the duty on embroidery and needlework from 20 to 15 per cent. he did not anticipate the results stated by the hon. Gentleman. It was notorious that the class of persons referred to by his hon. Friend worked for very low wages, and he did not believe that protection would do them much good, or that the present reduction of duty would make any difference to them. The reason for the reduction of the duty was, that formerly embroidery and needlework paid the same duty as certain silk goods. A great number of articles which came from India, which were manufactured in a peculiar way, were, until recently, admitted as silk goods; but the Custom-house had decided that strictly and legally speaking they came under the head embroidery and needlework, and therefore had to pay the 20s. duty. He alluded to India shawls, and some other articles of a similar character. Under these circumstances, it was deemed desirable to place them on the same footing that they formerly were. He believed the proposed change would have a very slight effect.

The House then went into Committee on the Bill.

On Clause 12 being put,


expressed a hope that the Government would propose a mea-sure to sweep away the absurd restrictions on commerce imposed by the quarantine laws. After the admirable report on the subject, drawn up by the Board of Health, there could be no excuse whatever for retaining them. This should be done without any reference to negotiations with foreign countries, as was the case with respect to free trade and the repeal of the navigation laws. The people of this country almost unanimously wished to get rid of these laws.


wished he could agree with the hon. Gentleman as to the universal feeling of the country being in fa- vour of getting rid of these laws. The hon. Gentleman must know, from his connexion with Liverpool, that many of the merchants of that place, trading with places on the Black Sea, were exposed to the most disgraceful regulations which could be devised by the ingenuity or malice of man, under the name of quarantine regulations, and under the pretext of protecting the health of the persons living on the coast of that sea. The whole object was on the part of the Russians illegally to exclude all intercourse of strangers with Wallachia and Moldavia. He knew on one occasion that some Members were prepared to bring the circumstances under the notice of the House; but a number of English merchants trading on the Black Sea urged those hon. Gentleman to desist from their intentions, as it might further impede, or altogether stop, all trade in that quarter.


said, the subject was one well deserving of attention; but as this clause merely facilitated the taking of goods out of quarantine, the occasion was not a favourable one for the discussion of the whole question.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill passed through Committee.

House resumed.