HC Deb 02 April 1860 vol 157 cc1741-62

House in Committee according to Order; Mr. Massey in the Chair.

(In the Committee.)

Resolution 20, That in aid of the Charges of Customs' Establishments incident to the conduct of Trade and to the statistical accounts thereof there shall be charged as follows upon all articles, except Corn, Grain, or Flour, and Timber and Wood goods, upon the importation thereof,—

s. d.
Per package or parcel 0 1
Animals, per head
Goods in bulk, for each unit of entry
With power to the Lords of the Treasury to frame regulations for adjusting the amount of such payments in certain cases

by altering the unit of entry, or quantity, or number of goods which is to form the unit of entry for the purpose of this charge, so that the charge shall, as little as may be, exceed one quarter per cent on the goods of the lowest value usually imported under the denomination; and every person entering goods for exportation at the Custom House shall be required to present to the proper Officer of Customs a copy of his bill of lading in respect of such goods, with a correct endorsement thereon of the particulars and value of the goods comprised in such bill of lading, and that such copy of the bill of lading so presented shall be deemed the entry outwards for such goods, and be charged with a duty of 1 6"

said, there was no necessity to trouble the Committee with any lengthened details, but merely to explain the relation in which this Resolution stood to the original Resolution No. 11. At that time it was proposed to make a charge of 1d. upon all articles of import and export alike, with certain adjustments, so as to keep it within a certain proportion of the value of the goods. It was also proposed to levy charges on articles removed in bond and on operations in warehouses. The total proceeds of these charges as originally proposed were calculated at £420,000— namely, £300,000 from the penny charge; £60,000 from the charge on goods removed; and £60,000 from the charge on operations in warehouses. But there were various points, particularly in respect to the charges on goods removed and on operations in warehouses, which were received with a great deal of doubt, distrust, and even disapproval by those classes in the mercantile world immediately affected by them; and he was bound to say that, as originally framed, they would probably have tended to restrict the application of the warehousing system, which was so highly beneficial to the country. There was some difficulty in the application of the penny registration to the trade, particularly the export trade, which for revenue purposes was not so easily managed as the import trade. The export trade had entailed the principal sacrifice which he was about to make. At one time he was disposed to get rid of the difficulty felt in the adjustment of the penny rate, by reverting to a charge ad valorem of 2s. 6d. per cent. Doubtless that charge would have had some great recommendation. It would have been levied in a very simple manner, and it would have had the effect of establishing that immediate relation between the statistical accounts of the country and the value of the goods which would have made it, to a certain extent, the duty of the Custom-house officers to check the value of the goods, and in that manner would have enabled us probably to attain what he had always looked upon as a most important public object apart from the fiscal operation of the Resolution—namely, a much greater correctness of the statistical accounts of goods of export. The accounts of the exports on which we so much relied, on which we founded such important arguments, and which formed the basis of a considerable part of our political policy, were in many of their details exceedingly inaccurate. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: Hear, hear!] The objection to the ad valorem duty was that it offered—not to merchants, but to the smaller agents—perpetual temptation to petty fraud, therefore he entertained with great willingness a proposition on behalf of the mercantile community to substitute a fixed sum, to be levied by way of stamp on bills of lading outwards, and the Government were disposed to regard this proposition the more favourably because it tended to increase the accuracy of the statistics. The usage at present was for three bills of lading to be drawn and given to the parties concerned. These were countersigned by the different persons who were responsible, and they were liable to hear a stamp of 6d. each. The proposal had been that in all cases a fourth bill of lading should be given similarly countersigned, and certifying to contain an accurate account of the goods. That would supply, according to the estimates of the proposers, from £100,000 to £120,000 to the Exchequer. Taking, however, the bill of lading as they now proposed to do, with the stamp of 1s. 6d., they did not estimate that it would yield more than £60,000. As the plan was originally suggested to Parliament he should have expected to raise a considerably greater sum than that from the penny charge on exports. They had reckoned on obtaining nearly £300,000. As the plan now stood it would produce on imports about £170,000, and on the stamp on bills of lading outwards £60,000, making together £230,000; thus involving a sacrifice of some £70,000. Nor was that the whole amount of reduction as the other Resolutions would yield considerably less, even if they stood as they now did, than under the original estimate. The second Resolution related to goods removed under bond, and would produce somewhat less than it would have done under its origi- nal form. The Estimate at first stood at between £50,000 and £60,000; now it was about £50,000. The third Resolution dealt with charges on operations in warehouse. The rate on those operations had been so much reduced that instead of producing from £60,000 to £70,000, the Resolution in its present shape would produce only £30,000. There was still an indisposition on the part of many Gentlemen connected with the trade to see this principle of charge for operations in warehouse adopted. They did not dispute its justice but its policy in respect to the convenience of commerce. He was not prepared to abandon the Resolution, but as those who were opposed to it were still engaged in considering what substitute less open to objection they could suggest, he was quite willing to let the question stand over till after the Easter recess. On the whole, then, there would be a surrender of revenue, as compared with the original Estimate, of from £100,000 to £120,000, even assuming the third Resolution to be either passed or replaced by one equally productive. That surrender they might safely venture to make. The state of the revenue was good, and the changes of arrangement that had been made in the course of their discussions had been favourable to the Exchequer rather than otherwise. The sacrifice he had mentioned would, therefore, not impair the stability of the calculations for the year, especially as they would still attain the objects of policy which they originally had in view. Effectual precaution had now been taken under the first Resolution against the oppressive operation of the penny charge on packages. As regarded certain imports that simple impost would prove very onerous, the most conspicuous illustration of this being the case of boxes of fruit imported from the East, and which were used for filling up irregular spaces in cargoes called "broken stowage."


said, he wished to put a question to the right lion. Gentleman. Some time since he (Mr. Newdegate) had brought under the consideration of the House the fact that the exports from the port of Liverpool were grossly over valued. There were now no duties on exports, and no one could anticipate that the exporter would undervalue his goods, because he could gain no advantage by undervaluation, which would be used against him in the market to which his goods were being sent. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would take any additional steps to provide that the declared value should be more accurately given than heretofore. The trader was not likely to cry down his own goods before they reached their market, and he believed that the declared value had been considerably exaggerated. During a laborious course of examination, the actual value of the imports and exports of this country, for seven years, he discovered that the declared value of goods exported was generally above the real value, very considerably above the real value of the goods. Then with regard to the imports, he was afraid that notwithstanding the right hon. Gentleman's statistical arrangements increased accuracy, a greater accuracy, or even equal accuracy with that which had been obtained under the system that had hitherto prevailed, could not be hoped for. When there was an ad valorem duty it was the business of the Customhouse to ascertain the value of the imports. They, therefore, became cognizant of their value; and the statistical department of the Board of Trade was furnished with information which now they had lost; for when all duty upon the great bulk of the articles imported was abolished, the inducement to accurate examination ceased. It appeared to him that they would have the quantities given of the exports and imports, but nothing more, under the proposed arrangement. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought it possible, or whether he intended, to adopt means to ensure increased accuracy with regard to the declared value of our exports?


did not think that the hon. Gentleman was accurate in his impression that the value of the exports was systematically overstated. On the contrary, the exports were often not entered at all, not unfrequently they were entered twice over, sometimes they were entered too low; sometimes too high; but he did not think there was reason to believe that they were systematically overstated. On the contrary, he would be inclined to think that they were understated. He did not think there were adequate motives for overstating the value, and, speaking in the presence of many hon. Gentlemen who were well informed on the subject, he judged by this reason, that up to the year 1845 they had an ad valorem tax of 10s. per cent. When that tax was levied upon the ex- ports there was a motive for understating the value. Trade at that time was growing rapidly; still that 10s. could have hardly had any material effect on an undervaluing of the return, and this the figures showed. When that tax ceased there was no sudden start, no great increase in the returns immediately, although an increase occurred some years afterwards. He thought, therefore, it was unnecessary to check the import returns upon this ground. But the values were delivered to the Customs at present by junior clerks of mercantile establishments, and they were not attested by responsible persons upon a bill of lading. It were desirable that this attestation should be secured; but as regarded the imports he thought no additional security would be necessary. He did not think any additional security was required.


said, that he doubted very much whether the right hon. Gentleman would obtain all he expected from his proposals. At present there was a large class of goods imported in small packages, known amongst shippers as "broken stowage," and which were taken for half freight by shipowners, because they could be conveniently used for filling up small spaces. The result of this tax of Id. on packages would be that a number of small ones would be put into one large one, and not then being useful as broken stowage, they would be charged full freight, and thus the consumer would pay double what he paid before. Again, the great bulk of our imports were now free of duty, but a charge would be created on all by this penny tax. At the Custom-house journal and ledger entries would be required for every penny or sixpence that was charged, so that in many cases the cost of collection would be greater than the revenue obtained. The additional 1s. 6d. on the fourth bill of lading he understood was merely for the purpose of securing correct statistical returns to the Custom-house, not for raising an additional revenue. But its operation would be extremely unjust. If a bill of lading represented goods not worth more than 5s., it would be taxed 1s. 6d.; while one representing £10,000 would only pay the same. To carry out the system would entail an immense amount of labour, much more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer supposed. He hoped that this Resolution also would be deferred until after Easter.


said, that though the amended Resolutions were preferable to those originally proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the grave objection remained that they introduced fresh complications into the operations of trade—subjected those engaged in trade to petty and vexatious payments—and introduced a system which it had been the object of past legislation to put an end to by simplifying as much as possible the process of buying and selling. No doubt after the sanction given by the House to the removal of duties upon a variety of articles which he believed ought to have been maintained—a removal which would neither benefit the revenue nor the consumer—he admitted that some substitute must be found. A more regular substitute, how ever, might have been found than this 1d. charge upon every package—especially when the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to leave a regulating power to the Lords of the Treasury. He thought that the penny system was an erroneous one. It had succeeded remarkably well in the Post Office; but there the rate had been reduced to a penny from a much higher amount; here a penny was imposed where nothing had been paid before. It would make the operations of trade and shipping a constant series of taxes from beginning to end, and when they began to add pence to pence on every small transaction throughout successive stages on the same articles, it was clear that, in the aggregate, it must produce a monstrous effect. If England was to be the emporium of foreign trade, the imposition of such charges as these must be most damaging. Competition was already smart enough, and the moment when a heavy income tax was being put on Schedule D, which included traders, was most inopportune for inventing a new tax of this character. At present statistical returns were obtained from the Custom-house clerks without any additional expense, and there was no need to levy a new penny tax for that purpose. They were taking off indirect taxation which really affected hardly anybody, and putting direct taxes on traders and merchants. The tax on dock warrants affected London peculiarly. The tax on bills of lading had been suggested by the mercantile body to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a substitute for all those obnoxious pence; but having got the suggestion he adopted it, and retained all the other taxes.


—No, no. As the Resolution stood originally it was a penny upon imports and exports as well. Now it is a penny upon imports; and instead of putting it on exports, we tax the bill of lading.


said, that the exporter ought to pay as well as the importer. Though the charge on bills of lading was objectionable, it might have been admitted as a substitute for the other little vexatious charges. There was no use in testing the opinion of the Committee, and the sufferers from the right hon. Gentleman's plan must bear it.


said, he did not share in the general objection to those charges; but if at any time they produced more than was anticipated from them, the mercantile interest would have a fair claim for their reduction. He thought that the penny tax on packages would be collected without much trouble, and would produce much more than was expected. As to the unit of entry he saw no great difficulty in carrying out the arrangements proposed by the Resolution. Nor did he think that the duty on packages would have the effect of diminishing the quantity of goods brought in under the denomination of "broken stowage." There would be no difficulty in so arranging the unit of duty in all cases that shippers of goods in all parts of the world would know perfectly well what peculiar circumstances they had to meet. The proposed tax on bills of lading would lead to great advantage in ascertaining the quantity of our exports. The bill of lading was in effect a contract between the shipper of the goods and the owner of the ship, and was not likely to be far wrong on either side. The fourth copy of the bill of lading would answer all the purposes of a declaration of value, and afford a very satisfactory means of arriving at the quantity and value of the exports of this country.


said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer to the manner in which the cross-Channel trade might be affected by the Resolutions. Hitherto the trade from Ireland to England, even although the goods were intended to be re-shipped in England, had not been considered export trade, nor had goods crossing from England to Ireland been regarded as import trade. It appeared, however, according to the wording of these Resolutions, that goods sent from Ireland to Liverpool to be re-shipped, would be subjected to a double charge. He there fore risked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he would be good enough to see that such precautions were taken as would prevent that from being the case. Then, with regard to the statistical returns of the Irish trade, it was a singular fact that though Ireland exported many millions' worth of goods per annum, yet as they were re-shipped from this country, no notice whatever was taken of them in the returns as forming part of the export trade of Ireland. From one port alone, Belfast, many millions' worth of linen were exported every year; but in the returns its exports were only stated at a few hundred thousand pounds. It would be desirable to have a correct record established, and this he thought might be done by adding the name of the place at which the goods were manufactured and from which they were sent to the particulars of value already proposed to be required in the bill of lading. This would show the place that bonâ fide exported the goods. In reference to the power of adjusting the amount of payments required by these Resolutions, he presumed that the Treasury, in whom that power was to be vested, would not be able to exceed the amount proposed by the Resolution, but would simply be able to fix any sum below that amount. The words of the Resolution "so that the charge shall as little as may be exceed ¼ per cent on the goods of the lowest value usually imported under the denomination" were vague and would seem to give the Treasury the power of fixing an amount higher than the maximum named in the Resolution. He would suggest they should run "shall in no case exceed ¼ per cent" and so on. Then with respect to the mode of ascertaining the value of the goods, it was proposed that the shipper should give that information. It would, however, be impossible to depend for accuracy upon the shipper, beyond which disputes and mistakes might occur, which would be completely avoided if the invoice price of the goods were on all occasions adopted. One serious objection to the proposed tax on bills of lading was its inequality, seeing that one bill of lading might be for £10 and another for £10,000. He thought it was a charge not justified by the motives assigned for its imposition, besides which it would have a tendency to hamper trade, and when imposed the pressure against it would lead to its removal.


said, his objection to the charge on bills of lading was that they had not heard any satisfactory account from the Chancellor of the Exchequer respecting what it was to be a substitute for. It was not one of the original proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was made after strong objections had been urged against many of the minor details and charges originally proposed for adoption. He (Mr. Hankey) had no objection to a tax being imposed upon both outward and inward hills of lading, but before he agreed to it he should like to have an assurance that the tax on packages would be given up. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had invited an expression of opinion from the City of London on this subject, and he (Mr. Hankey) had presided at a meeting where the utmost unanimity prevailed, and the opinion of that meeting was decidedly averse to this tax, but they had consented to it on the understanding that it was to be in substitution of the proposed charge on packages. Now it seemed that they were to be saddled with both.


said, he did not agree with what his hon. Friend opposite had said. He preferred the present measure to that which had been indicated in the opening statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; not that he gave his approval to the measure; on the contrary, he considered the collection of statistics a mere pretence. It might be a subject of question whether the cost of collecting statistics for the benefit of the community should be saddled on the commercial classes. At present, however, it actually fell upon those classes, because the servants of the dock companies collected the information at the expense of the importers, and the Customhouse officers took it at second hand without further inquiry. To lay a tax on bills of lading for the same purpose would be to imitate the conduct of the Russian officers, who, before quitting a village where they had been living at free quarters, presented a bill for the wear and tear of their teeth in eating dinners provided for nothing. The measure was most unwelcome to the commercial classes, as being a mere revival of numerous small charges, which had long ago been abandoned, as most embarrassing and inconvenient. The extra amount of account keeping such charges rendered necessary was most serious. Besides which the delay occasioned by them in clearing a ship might lead to the loss of a wind and of a voyage. He had known instances of fifty tons of goods stopped in consequence of an error of a few shillings, and carts and vans sent away empty from a considerable distance, and every extra charge increased the chance of such mistakes. The most serious objection to the proposed tax was that it would lead to embezzlement. There was no greater source of embezzlement than that of entrusting clerks and carmen with small sums of money to pay these charges. To say that the proposed tax was a relief to the commercial classes was absurd. It was something like a highwayman stopping a traveller and stripping him, and then giving him his own shirt and trowsers to go away with. He (Mr. Cave) was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman was going to reconsider his proposition with respect to charges in bond. The real effect of the scheme, as originally proposed, would have been to drive away to foreign countries many of the operations now carried on in this country, especially in respect to articles on which the duties were low. Thus the bonding system would be injured, for the importer would naturally prefer to pay the duty and perform the operations out of bond. He thought the general effect of the whole measure would disappoint the expectation of its framer, and that it would turn out that a scheme which professed to open up new channels of commerce would be found, on the contrary, to choke up those which already existed.


said, he felt bound to support the fresh taxation now proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, having given his support to the general principle of his scheme. But he wished to say a few words as to the way in which this tax would operate. The right hon. Gentleman, wisely in his opinion, reduced the duty on exports to a much lower point than the duty on imports. The charge on the exports was calculated to bring in only £60,000: while the charge upon imports would bring in £190,000 a year; and as the exports were rather larger in amount, it was quite clear that the charge upon imports would be at least double that upon exports. The charge looked small upon paper, and it was so small that the importing merchant would not be able to charge it on the consumer. It was too small a charge, amounting only to 6d. per ton, and the whole of it would fall upon the unfortunate merchant, and would in many cases increase from 25 to 50 per cent the income tax which he paid, under Schedule D, to the Government. So that this was, in fact, a special tax imposed on the mercantile classes.


said, the question was not whether they would have any of these small taxes, but what was the best form in which they could be levied. He accepted the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a compromise, and not because he agreed with its principle. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was bound to say, had most courteously received every representation that had been made to him. He (Mr. Horsfall) had himself introduced a deputation which had proposed a tax on both outward and inward bills of lading, but that was found objectionable, and therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed the present tax, which he (Mr. Horsfall) was prepared to accept as a compromise. Nevertheless he should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he was willing to abandon the, tax altogether. If passed this Session, he had no doubt that a tax of that kind could not be of long continuance. With regard to the over valuing of goods sent from Liverpool, he was at a loss to assign any reason for so doing; but there was sometimes carelessness on the part of the Custom-house clerks, and they were sometimes obliged to guess at the value, owing to the invoices not having come forward at the time of shipment.


said, he thought that the Committee was bound to admit the two propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the one that a certain portion of the deficiency created by the repeal of taxes must now be made up; and the other that it must be made up by taxes incident upon trade. But in the actual proposition before the Committee he would suggest some modification. It was a question whether the charges proposed by the Resolution were properly speaking Customs' charges at all. Duties of Customs were invariably raised either according to weight, quantity, or value; but these were rather in the nature of landing or wharf. Again, he had another objection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to raise under this Resolution £230,000, and it was to be raised "for defraying the cost of that part of the Customs' establishments which was incident to the conduct of trade." But so far from £230,000 being necessary, £50,000 would be as much as would be required for that purpose. He thought the country would be entitled to complain, if £230,000 a year was spent on establishments used only for the conduct of trade and collecting statististical returns. The hon. Member for Sunderland had very correctly stated that this charge would add very much to the cost of the Customs' establishments. The great mass of the expenses of the Customhouse was caused by the collection of the duties on duty-charged goods, the operations with respect to free goods being exceedingly simple. He wished, then, to know whether these charges or fees were to be treated as duties on duty-charged goods, or whether some other mode of dealing with them would be devised. In the latter case the objection he had stated would fall to the ground. He thought he could suggest a substitute not obnoxious to the objections to which the proposed charge was liable, and yet capable of raising the required revenue. The House was aware that all operations between the Customhouse and merchants were carried on by entries which were put into the Custom house by clerks of the merchants, either simple in duplicate or triplicate. Now, instead of putting on a charge such as was proposed in the Resolution, and which would be a varying charge, he would propose to the right hon. Gentleman to put on a uniform stamp of one penny on all entries. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to require that all entries, documents, shipping hills, or whatever else they might be, should be subject to a uniform stamp of one penny, he would be able to collect, if not as much as this Resolution would produce, at least sufficient to defray the charges for which this revenue was to be raised. With respect to the second part of the Resolution, which imposed 1s. 6d. on every bill of lading, it was to be recollected that already bills of lading were subject to a charge of 6d. each; but that charge might be accepted as the means of collecting more satisfactory statistics than could at present be obtained.


said, he thought that the complaint of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Hankey), that he had adopted the suggestion with respect to the taxing of the bill of lading and giving nothing in return, was rather hard; because the duties which he surrendered would be very much larger than anything which he would get from the bill of lading. The bill of lading would not yield more than £60,000 a year upon a sanguine estimate, while the 1s. 6d. per cent which he had given up would have yielded upwards of £150,000. The hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Cave), seemed to think that the stamp duty of 1d. under this Resolution was imposed in respect merely of the statistical department; the charge was of a more general character incident to the conduct of trade. It might be true with respect to the great dock establishments in London, which were so admirably organized that they stood in lieu of the services required from the Customhouse; but that was not the case with respect to other ports, where the returns made by Customs' officers were taken as the very best authority by the merchants themselves. With respect to the observations made by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, he must observe that he did not think the hon. Member correctly understood the practice of the Customs in reference to the service rendered by that de-department. The hon. Gentleman proposed as a substitute the charge of 1d. upon every entry and paper of whatever description passed by the Customs affecting commerce and trade. Now, in the first place, he had no means of estimating what would be the produce of such a tax, and the hon. Gentleman did not say what he calculated it would yield; but, so far as it was a valid objection to this Resolution, that it would multiply small charges and give complication to accounts, it applied with tenfold force to this substitute. There was not a single act of any kind that was done by the proprietors of goods in warehouse, for instance, whether of removal, re-packing, or otherwise, to which it would not apply, and he confessed he thought it would not be expedient to adopt it. The sum proposed to be levied would require to be paid when the first entry was passed through the Custom-house. It would all he collected at once, and there would be no complication of accounts whatever. In conclusion, he desired to express his opinion of the perfect fairness of the admission that a Resolution of this kind should be considered part of the measures to which the House had already expressed its assent.


inquired whether these charges would pass through the Customs' books in the same way as the ordinary duties?


said, he apprehended that there could be no difficulty in instructing the Customs' department to keep a separate account of this duty, so that if it were subsequently found that the amount of duty was out of proportion to the cost of collection the mercantile community might have the benefit which might naturally be expected under these circumstances.


said, a separate account would be kept of all these charges, and the fullest means given to ascertain what was their produce, with a view to any proposal that might afterwards be made respecting them. As regards the collection of them, that would be conducted as far as possible by stamps prepared for the purpose, and which, no doubt, would be very extensively used for the convenience of parties. His right hon. Friend at the head of the Customs assured him that the whole operation would be a matter of the greatest simplicity, and would not interfere with the extensive reduction of the establishment which he promised.


said, he wished to impress on the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer the propriety of reconsidering this charge of one penny. He was anxious that, if it was not necessary to amend the Resolution, the Government, in bringing in the Bill, should have a complete schedule of charges to which the merchant could refer. He also wished to ask whether the penalties would still be applicable as before? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Yes.] He was going to suggest that the penalties would be exceedingly heavy in proportion to the proposed rates, and he hoped the subject would engage the attention of the Government.

Resolution agreed to.

Resolution 21:— That in aid of the charge of the Customs' Establishment incident to the Warehousing and Removal of Goods under Bond, there shall be charged (irrespective of any duties of Customs, or other charges payable by law, and in addition thereto), a Customs' duty at the rate of 10s. per £100 on the amount of Customs' duty payable on such goods as shall be warehoused, and removed under bond from any warehouse in any port or place to any warehouse in any other port or place, and at the rate of 5s. per £100 on the amount of Customs duty payable on such goods warehoused but not removed, to be paid in each case on taking such goods out of bond for home consumption; provided that tobacco shall only be chargeable with half the above rates, and that no more than the sum of 5s., in addition to the sum of 5s. per centum, shall be chargeable upon a single delivery of sugars for refineries when removed under bond.


said, the charges upon warehouse operations of all kinds, including the re- moval, were estimated at about £120,000 a year, and it was proposed in lieu of that to have a fee taken upon all warehoused goods when delivered at the warehouse, irrespective of their being removed, to the amount of 10s. per cent. But no sooner had that proposal been made than considerable opposition arose from some classes of Gentlemen engaged in trade, who observed that the cost to which the country was put by the warehoused goods was extremely different, and expressed a great preference for the principle of the Resolution in comparison with the new and uniform proposal. When the Resolution was proposed to the Committee originally, he ventured to state that it had in view an important object of policy—namely, to provide some self-acting regulator of the warehousing system. By degrees that system—speaking now only with regard to ports—had received an extension which was very costly to the country, for the convenience, in many instances, of very small communities, and without any compensating advantages to the Exchequer. It was needless to go into details or names of places, but it was within the knowledge of those who heard him, that a number of very small places enjoyed warehousing privileges at the cost of the Crown, which was the cost of the public, simply because they were ports of importation. They enjoyed the privilege, not with respect to the goods which they imported, in regard to which, it might be natural enough to grant it; but in regard to goods which they did not import at all, and only received from importing places. The consequence was that large towns in the interior became desirous of having warehousing privileges extended to them. Manchester very naturally, and very fairly took the lead in the movement, and obtained, on condition of bearing the necessary charge, the concession of warehousing privileges. But as it was subjected to the condition that the town should in one form or another bear the charge, Manchester complained of having to bear the cost where the deliveries amounted to hundreds of thousands a year, when little, insignificant places, because they happened to be ports, enjoyed warehousing privileges, and had warehousing establishments maintained at the cost of the public, and goods removed to them without any charge, and without at the same time being called upon to contribute one farthing to the cost of the Customs' establishment. A desire spread in the country, as a natural consequence, for the extension and multiplication of warehousing privileges at the cost of the public. He did not see where the demand was to stop, unless the places themselves were in some degree or some manner made to contribute. On grounds, therefore, both of policy and of justice, he thought the proposal of the Government sound and wise. He would also submit to the Committee that there ought to be some difference made in the charge when the goods were removed in bond. However small that difference might be, yet it would operate in the nature of a regulating charge. It would make the inhabitants contribute something towards the cost of the warehousing establishment, and would operate powerfully in preventing undue demands for the extension of the system inwards throughout the country, while on the other hand it would enable the Government to give fair scope to the extension, where the cost of the Crown was not likely to be very great. The charge was not a Customs' duty, but a fee upon goods which had gone into the warehouses and were delivered from it. The parties upon whom the charges fell in the first instance would not be the importers of the goods, but the retail dealers in the country. The charge would be paid upon the delivery of goods, and by the persons to whom they were delivered. Great objections had been made to a charge of ½ per cent, but he was happy to understand that the tea trade were now perfectly satisfied with the charge as it now stood, of ¼ per cent. There was an exception in the case of tobacco, because the charge was levied not on the value of the goods, but on the amount of duty, and the duty on tobacco was higher out of all proportion than any other duty. It was therefore proposed that the charge on tobacco should be mitigated by one moiety. The charge upon goods removed had been also fixed at ¼ per cent, and if the principle were sound that there should be a contribution towards the cost of these warehousing privileges, then he submitted to the Committee that the charge imposed was a fair one. The charge would be 5s. per cent, and if they took the rate at which money could be obtained at 4 per cent per annum, the 5s. would represent 21 days' interest upon the money payable for the goods. It was not fair to call upon the public for the charge of these warehousing establishments. These were the grounds on which the second 5s. was imposed. The only way of regulating the extension of the system was to call on the parties themselves to make a moderate contribution towards the cost of the establishments, and there was no way of doing this more fairly than by a small charge on the goods when removed. A special provision, however, was to be made for the particular case of sugar. Sugar cost in removal comparatively little to the Customs, for it was delivered from bond in very large quantities, and it was therefore proposed that for 5s. any single quantity of sugar should be delivered for refineries out of bond. The effect of this would be to substitute instead of 5s. per cent, a charge almost inappreciably small. The produce of the whole Resolution would be about £50,000—a considerable reduction of revenue as compared with that which would have accrued under the original proposition.

Motion made, and Question proposed,— That the words, 'That in aid of the charge of the Customs' Establishment incident to the Warehousing and Removal,' stand part of the proposed Resolution.


said, the Resolution, as it stood, was calculated to confer unfair advantages on the larger over the smaller ports, and to have the effect of giving the tea trade an advantage of the quarter per cent. He should, therefore, move the following Amendment: Resolution 21, line 2, leave out 'and removal.' Line 4 to line 7, leave out '10s. per £100 on the amount of Customs' duty payable on such goods as shall be warehoused, and removed under bond from any warehouse in any port or place, to any warehouse in any other port or place, and at the rate of.' Lines 8 and 9, leave out 'but not removed,' and 'in such case.' Line 11, leave out 'and that no more than the sum of 5s., in addition to the sum of 5s. per centum, shall be chargeable upon any single delivery of sugars for refineries when removed under bond."'

Amendment, proposed, to leave out the words "and Removal."

Question put, "That those words stand part of the proposed Resolution."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 50: Majority 14.

Original Question put, and agreed to.


suggested that a much more equitable plan, and one by which the revenue might be more easily collected, was to impose a small annual fee upon the warehouses themselves. As he was aware that he could not move this as an Amendment, he would ask the House to reject the Resolution, so that, if rejected, the Chancellor of the Exchequer might con- sider the propriety of coming to such an arrangement as he had suggested.


said, he begged to second the proposition of his hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), as he entertained great objections to the proposed charge upon removals.


said, the inhabitants of the city he had the honour to represent (Dublin) contributed very largely to the Customs of the country, and this charge would fall on them particularly heavy. By false legislation they had been deprived of their foreign trade, and were obliged to import, for instance, their teas from Liverpool or London. They laboured under various charges for entering goods in bond. They had to pay 1s. for every entry, either of goods coming into or going out of bond, and 2s. on every Customs' entry for warehousing goods imported from foreign ports. The result was, they would have to pay the charges already imposed, as well as the extra charges proposed to be placed on them by the Resolution. If these new imposts were placed upon them they ought to be relieved of the old; and he believed the merchants of Dublin had made very strong representations to the right hon. Gentleman on the subject. He quite agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast (Sir H. Cairns), that it would be most desirable to have some statistics of Ireland, with regard to its exports, and also of the coast Channel trade, because it was stated that Ireland contributed only a certain amount to the revenue. That amount was merely taken from the sum obtained by the dues paid in the Custom-house; but it should be remembered that they paid the duty upon tea, and many other articles in Liverpool, of which no record whatever was made; and Ireland was taken to contribute much less to the taxation of the country than it really did. He must enter his strong protest against those charges on account of warehousing.


said, the question of the statistics of Irish taxation had already been under discussion that evening, and the Government intended to make inquiries with a view to ascertain whether those statistics could be improved. With respect to the Motion for rejecting the Resolution the seconder had based his support of that Motion upon his objection to the charge upon removals. That charge was only a matter of £8,000 or £10,000, but the whole Resolution involved a sum of £50,000, and surely the hon. Member would not deprive the revenue of that amount simply because he objected to the smaller sum, especially as there would be other opportunities for explaining his objections to the charge upon the removal of goods. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) to impose an annual tax upon each bonded warehouse was most startling, and one that he did not think the House would agree to. There were 1,200 bonded warehouses in the country, and to call upon the proprietors of those warehouses to pay £50,000 a year, at a time when Parliament by remitting duties was excluding from them a large class of goods, and thus, to some extent, taking the bread out of their mouths, was too violent a proposition. The £40,000 upon warehousing was generally recognized as a fair charge by the retail dealers who would have to pay it, and he thought the Committee would not deprive the revenue of that amount because of any objection to a lesser amount for removals.


remarked, that the principle had always been laid down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was the consumer who paid the taxes upon all articles


said, he objected to the favour shown to sugar for refineries.


observed, he was willing to omit the words "for refineries."


And rum?


said, rum had, by an accident of legislation, actually obtained a protecting duty, and therefore he would recommend the hon. Member not to enter upon any discussion upon that subject.


said, he wished to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to pass the Resolution as it now stood, or whether it was to undergo any modification?


replied, that the only modification would be that in the place of the word "duties" would be substituted "dues," or "charges," and he also proposed to strike out the words "for refineries."


said, he would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to whether it would be desirable for so small a sum as £12,000 to incur such dissatisfaction at the outports, and occasion such an amount of inconvenience to retail- dealers at those outports, as would follow from the charge. He objected to the principle of taxing large outports, which amply paid for their Customs establishments, in order to cover the deficiency in small ones which did not pay. Let them apply that principle to the Post Office revenue, and they would be obliged to put a large impost on towns which paid for their postal establishments, in order to compensate the Post Office for the expenditure in small places whose letter traffic did not pay. He would venture to ask whether it would not be better for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider the Resolution.


said, that unfortunately the hon. and learned Gentleman was not in the House when he made his statement upon this subject, and fully explained the object of the Resolution. The charge on removals was not for purposes of revenue, but to provide a self-acting regulation instead of having a great warehousing system throughout the country. He would not, however, preclude himself from reconsidering the principle suggested by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Dalglish) in a modified form.


said, he thought the small places should be required to pay their own expenses, and hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not insist on-such a petty tax as that now proposed.


said, he thought that the small trader would not only have to pay for the accommodation in his own town, but he would have to pay for the accommodation in London; in other words, he would not only have to pay the proposed 5s. in his own town, but an extra charge in large towns. He did not think they ought to endorse any legislation which would impose a differential duty, and place the traders and consumers in small towns at a disadvantage with those of the larger towns. The result would be to produce a differential price of ¼ per cent on tea and other articles. He hoped, when they went into Committee on the Bill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would yield to the very strong expression of opinion in regard to this matter, because the Resolution had been carried only by a small majority.

Motion made, and Question,— That the words 'of Goods under Bond, there shall be charged (irrespective of any Duties of Customs, or other charges payable by law, and in addition thereto), a Customs due or charge at the rate of Ten Shillings per £100 on the amount of Customs Duty payable on such goods, as shall be warehoused and removed under bond from any warehouse in any port or place to any warehouse in any other port or place, and at the rate of Five Shillings per £100 on the amount of Customs Duty payable on such goods warehoused but not removed, to be paid in each case on taking such goods out of bond for home consumption; provided that Tobacco shall only be chargeable with half the above rates, and likewise that no more than the sum of Five Shillings, in addition to the sum of Five Shillings per centum, shall be chargeable upon any single delivery of Sugars when removed under bond,' stand part of the proposed Resolution, put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again on Thursday 19th April.