HC Deb 23 February 1857 vol 144 cc1059-60

said, he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury what were the reasons for an Order issued in August last by the Custom House authorities, enjoining all shippers of goods for exportation to make more accurate entries of goods exported, both as to quantity and value, and warning them that the suppression of such information was illegal; and what had been the result of that Order? On giving notice of the question, he (Mr. Newdegate) had stated that inquiries had been made at Liverpool with respect to the present mode of collecting the entries of goods exported, for the information of Parliament; and it was stated by Mr. Edwards, the Customs officer at that port, that previous to the issue of the order the system was extremely bad; in short, he went so far as to say that not more than three-fourths of the goods exported were entered. Now, when the House considered that at least one-half of the exports of this country passed through Liverpool, they would understand the importance of the question he now begged to put to the hon. Gentleman.


said, he regretted that the hon. Gentleman had not given him notice of the question which he put upon the subject on Friday night. What he (Mr. Wilson) had said in reply, however, was strictly true, for there had not been any order on the subject proceeding from the Treasury. On making inquiry, however, he found that in the early part of August, 1855 and not in 1856, as the hon. Gentleman imagined, representations were made by the Chamber of Commerce at Hull to the Board of Trade to the effect that they believed there existed great laxity and carelessness in the entries of cotton yarn and cotton goods exported from that port, and asking the Board of Trade to take steps to correct the evil. The Board of Trade communicated the facts to the Custom House authorities, and the order alluded to was issued to the Custom House at Hull and other out-ports. The only object the Government had in view was, that the statistics of trade should be as accurately collected as possible. So far as the judgment of the head of that Department went, it was the opinion that although some of the details might not be correct, yet they did not affect the ultimate result, what was understated in the entries from carelessness being balanced by what was overstated from the same cause. Of course that was matter of opinion, but he was inclined to think that no material or substantial difference would be found.