§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
moved that this Committee consist of sixteen members, and that Sir Brooke William Bridges be added to the Committee.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Select Committee on the Hop Duties do consist of sixteen Members.
reminded the House that there was a Standing Order against the Motion, and that some special reason ought to be shown for proposing it.
§ MR. DODSON
said, that there were four Members for Sussex on the Committee, and only three for the county of Kent.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
recommended that a Sussex Member should be struck off the Committee rather than that an additional member should be appointed. There was at present a paucity of hon. Members to serve on Committees, in consequence of the numbers required for Election and other Committees.
§ MR. STAFFORD
could not understand why the Government had consented, upon the Motion of one of their own friends, to 1186 grant this Committee, when they had, Session after Session, refused to grant it when asked for by Mr. Frewen. It was then opposed because it interfered with the revenue; and as he represented a constituency which, although not interested in hops, was greatly interested in the question of the malt duties, he should like to move it as an instruction to the Committee to enter into the question of malt as well as hops. He thought the Government ought to give some explanation of their reasons for consenting to the appointment of this Committee.
THE CHANCELLOR OR THE EXCHEQUER
said, he was in his place when the Committee was agreed to on a previous night, and would have been ready to give any explanation on the part of the Government to any hon. Gentleman who wished for it. But the Motion for the Committee not originating with him, but simply receiving his assent, he had not felt it incumbent upon him, unasked, to offer explanations in regard to it. It was well known that the mode in which the hop duty was levied had from time to time given rise to great dissatisfaction; and not long ago he had an interview with a deputation of gentlemen from the counties of Kent and Sussex, who applied for a remission of this tax, or for an extension of the time of paying it this year. After due consideration, he felt it his duty to grant an extension of two months beyond the month of May last. A new question had also been raised, principally by persons connected with the county of Kent—namely, that the present mode of levying the duty should be commuted from a charge per pound to a charge on the acreage—a proposal which seemed to excite some interest, and which might very fairly be investigated by a Committee. Many hon. Members belonging to the hop districts wished for such an investigation, and he did not conceive that he ought to oppose the appointment of the Committee inasmuch as he did not understand that any revenue would be endangered thereby. The question now before the House, however, was whether the Members of the Committee should be increased to sixteen; and as far as this particular case was concerned the point was not one of much importance. But it was important that, without reason assigned, they should not depart from the general rule limiting Com- 1187 mittees to fifteen members. He believed that the Committee, as originally nominated, was not unfairly constituted in regard to the hop districts generally; and, seeing that they had one representative for the eastern division of Kent already, he doubted whether there was any good ground for an addition to the number.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL - HUGESSEN
said, if he had expected any opposition on the part of the Government he should have objected to the constitution of the Committee when it was originally proposed. There had always been considerable difference of opinion between the hop-growers of Kent and those of Sussex, the one party advocating the entire repeal of the duty, and the other asking only for its modification. All he desired was to see the planters of each district fairly represented; and he hoped that the understanding which had been previously come to would be kept.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
thought it ought to be remembered that this was a consumer's as well as a producer's question. The hop duty operated detrimentally on agriculture; and in these days of free trade the farmer ought to be allowed to cultivate what crops he pleased.
§ Question put,
§ The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 112: Majority 77.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.