HC Deb 22 February 1853 vol 124 cc405-6

said, that a Committee of that House had sat for a considerable time for the purpose of considering the present constitution of the Board of Customs, and the system pursued by them, with a view of remedying the evils com plained of by the mercantile body. He believed the late Government had intimated their intention to introduce a measure on this subject, and he wished to ask the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's present advisers to introduce such a measure, and, if so, when?


said, that he could not at present undertake to say whether any measures to be taken by the Government for the improvement of the Customs department and its machinery would or would not require an Act of Parliament. The whole subject was under the consideration of the Treasury, the result of whose deliberations would, probably, be embodied in a minute: and, if so, he should have no difficulty in laying that minute on the table of the House at the proper time, which he hoped would not be far distant, together with a Report of the Board of Customs on that of the Committee of that House—a Report in which they had furnished the Government with very important matter for their consideration. In one important respect a change, which in point of fact must be the foundation of all other measures, was in progress at the Board of Customs. To have reduced the number of the Members of that Board, would, under ordinary circumstances, have been attended with consider able expense: but within the last two months, or little more, a reduction had taken place. In December last, the number of Commissioners was eight; but about the time of the change of Government Mr. Lushington resigned, which reduced the Board to seven, the precise number which had been recommended by the Commission which sat in 1842. Within the last fortnight or three weeks, another member of the Commission had intimated his intention to resign—indeed, he believed had actually sent in his resignation; and the noble Earl at the head of the Treasury having, after consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Customs, decided that it was not necessary that this vacancy should be filled up: the number of the Board would be now reduced to six. It would remain for consideration whether any, and if so what, other changes should be made in the constitution of the Board, and when the views of the Treasury had been definitively formed upon this point, they would be intimated to the House.