HC Deb 23 May 1850 vol 111 cc307-10

House resolved itself into Committee.

MR. BROTHERTON moved, it being half-past One o'clock, that the Chairman report progress.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again."

The Committee divided; and it appearing that there was only one Teller for the Ayes, the Chairman declared that the Noes had it.

MR. MITCHELL moved the resolution of which he had given notice.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That it is expedient that a Drawback should be allowed on the Duties now payable on all Wood imported for the purpose of Shipbuilding.


said, it was desirable that he should put an end to this measure at once, and perhaps the best course to adopt was, to move that the Chairman should leave the chair. Nothing could be so objectionable as a system of drawbacks; the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had availed himself of every opportunity to do away with them, and though a few still remained they should not reintroduce a system that had led to great inconvenience. The total number of registered vessels was 30,000, the number registered at Lloyd's 10,000, and therefore the number to which the measure could possibly apply was one-third only of the vessels existing in this kingdom; and by far the greater proportion of the vessels surveyed and registered at Lloyd's, were vessels to which this measure would be no boon at all. It could not be extended to the smaller vessels engaged in the coasting trade and in fishing, without opening the door to fraud. He objected to the measure, because it must, therefore, necessarily be a partial, and not a general measure. If they allowed a drawback in the cases proposed, where were they to stop? They would be asked to allow it on timber used on railroads and in manufactories. He did not mean to say, if a drawback were allowed in the way proposed, that a very large amount would be lost to the revenue; but it was against the fraud that would be practised that he wished to guard. He believed it impossible to distinguish with perfect accuracy the different kinds of fir or oak timber, and the corresponding duties which would be levied upon it, and frauds to a great extent would be certain to exist in the carrying out of any plan of drawbacks upon timber employed in shipbuilding. He was, however, bound to say, that the state of the timber duties was at present most unsatisfactory; as many of the less valuable kinds of timber paid a very heavy duty, while some of the higher classes paid but a small amount of duty. He was anxious that in anything he might say, he should not be understood to say anything against a revision of the timber duties upon some future occasion. He begged therefore to move, that Mr. Bernal do leave the chair.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do leave the chair."


said, that the arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman now were as different as could possibly be from those resorted to when the subject was first introduced. What were his arguments to-night? They rested on a series of false analogies. He had referred to the timber used in mines and railways, as though they stood on the same footing as shipbuilding; whereas nothing could be more dissimilar. The sole ground on which the hon. Member for Bridport rested his Motion was, that having subjected the British shipowner to competition with foreign shipping, you ought to remove all impediments which prevented him from entering fairly into the contest. Now, vessels employed in the coasting trade were not exposed to this competition, and therefore did not come within the principle. The ground on which the Motion rested was, that, contrary to the policy pursued in other matters, they were maintaining a duty on the raw material used in a manufacture which employed more adult labour, perhaps, than any other branch of industry. Another objection was the difficulty of making distinctions between the different classes of timber. Surely this was no ground for refusing the hon. Member leave to bring in his Bill. Let it be brought in, and then it would be time enough to see how far its machinery was effectual for its professed objects.


reminded the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, that in his speech on the budget he distinctly pledged himself to agree to this drawback if it could be done without loss to the revenue, as a majority of the House had voted for the principle. With respect to the objection urged against the measure, that it would necessarily be a partial one, he did not think such would be the case, as every one of the owners of the 30,000 ships might, according to his plan, upon payment of a fee to the surveyor of one pound, send in his claim for the allowance of the drawback. It was quite true that there were only eleven ports where surveyors were appointed by Lloyd's solely; but he had yet to learn that the other surveyors were not trustworthy. Again, the right hon. Gentleman said, that it would be impossible to distinguish the class of timber of which a vessel was built; but in opposition to this, he had letters in his hand from some of the most eminent wood-brokers in London, assuring him that no man conversant with the trade would find the least difficulty in the matter. He had also a letter to the same effect from Mr. W. Smith, of Newcastle, whom he bad no hesitation in calling one of the first shipbuilders in the world. It was all very well to hint at a revision of the timber duties; but knowing the numerous claimants by whom a Chancellor of the Exchequer was always beset, he was not disposed to trust the claims of the unfortunate shipbuilders to the chance of a remission next year.


explained, that what he had stated in his speech, to which reference had been made, was, that as there appeared to be a very strong feeling in the House in favour of allowing the drawback, the question should certainly receive his consideration, although he was decidedly opposed to resorting back to the old system of drawbacks.


contended that the claims of the mining interest had equal weight with those of the shipbuilding interest, inasmuch as the drawback which they formerly possessed on timber used in mining had been removed on the faith of a protecting duty being maintained on foreign ores. In 1847 this protection had been removed, and they were entitled to have the drawback restored. He defied any one to show that it had ever been made an engine of fraud during its maintenance in former years.


supported the Motion of the hon. Member for Bridport on the ground that under the new navigation laws any amount of foreign timber knocked together in the shape of a ship escaped the duty, while the raw article, which would give employment to our artisans, was subject to a heavy duty. There could be no difficulty in ascertaining the quantity and quality of the timber used in vessels, for their classification at Lloyd's depended upon this circumstance.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 50; Noes 19: Majority 31.

List of the AYES.
Armstrong, R. B. Hodges, T. L.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Bellew, R. M. Jervis, Sir T.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Brand, T. Lewis, G. C.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Childers, J. W. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Cowper, hon. W. F. O'Connell, M.
Craig, Sir W. G. Parker, J.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Price, Sir R.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Rawdon, Col.
Dundas, Adm. Romilly, Col.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Romilly, Sir J.
Dunne, Col. Russell, F. C. H.
Ebrington, Visct. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Spearman, H. J.
Foley, J. H. H. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Tenison, E. K.
Freestun, Col. Townshend, Capt.
Grace, O. D. J. Tufnell, H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Wilson, J.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Hallyburton, Ld, J. F. G.
Hatchell, J. TELLERS.
Hawes, B. Hill, Lord M.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Howard, Lord E.
List of the NOES.
Adair, H. E. King, hon. P. J. L.
Birch, Sir T. B. Lockhart, A. E.
Brockman, E. D. Palmer, R.
Brotherton, J. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Cardwell, E. Pigott, F.
Duncan, G. Scholefield, W.
Forster, M. Smollett, A.
Greene, J. Stanford, J. F.
Thompson, Col. Wyld, J.
Thornely, T.
Mitchell, T. A. Ricardo, J. L.

The House adjourned at half after Two o'clock.