HC Deb 26 June 1874 vol 220 cc598-600

, in rising to call attention to the system which at present prevails in Her Majesty's Bonding Stores in Ireland of allowing a cheap spirit, which is imported from Scotland, to be mixed in those Stores with Irish whiskey, and re-shipped direct from thence to this Country under Bond, which leads the purchaser to believe he is buying Irish-manufactured whiskey, which practice is calculated to injure the character of the Irish spirit trade, and to move a Resolution on the subject, said, the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer previously given on this subject, that the word "mixed" was branded on casks of such spirit, was altogether unsatisfactory, and he hoped to hear from the Government an announcement of a policy more in accordance with what was its obvious duty in the matter. Whiskey was one of the few industries of Ireland, and it was discreditable to the Government of this commercial community that the dishonest practice of introducing an impure spirit into the genuine article should be allowed to take place in the Queen's bonding stores. They had read of two adventurous young gentlemen who were convicted in the City for painting sparrows and selling them as canaries; but he thought that the conduct of the Government was far more serious in allowing inferior Scotch whiskey to be "painted" with Irish whiskey, and sold as pure Irish manufacture. In the case of the sparrows, it was only a loss of a few shillings to the old lady who was humbugged into purchasing them; but in the case of the whiskey, the "painting" was far more serious, because many a man was sent to an untimely grave by drinking impure spirits. [Laughter.] Well, hon. Gentlemen might laugh; but it was a most important question to Ireland, as it was one of the few remaining branches of Irish industry. It was not a party question—it was a question of justice and fair play. All that he asked was that Parliament should not allow the trade, which was one of the few remaining industries of Ireland, to be destroyed in an insidious way, and its character ruined by foreign whiskey.


thought the subject was one which well deserved consideration by Her Majesty's Government.


said, he could assure the hon. Member for Limerick that he fully agreed with the statement that the question was one which ought to be considered. In point of fact, however, it had been considered, and was continually attracting the attention of the Government, and it had always received from the Government that attention which was its due. The Government fully recognized the importance of preventing any adulteration of articles sold under one name, but which were really of a different character; and orders had been sent out in the present week which would to a great extent meet the difficulty he had touched upon, but it was impossible for the Government absolutely to guarantee the quality of articles which passed through its hands. All they could undertake to do was, to make it secure that everything should be sent out with a true name and a true description. There was a complaint from one gentleman, who desired that Scotch spirits should not be sent out as Irish spirits, but looking at the whole country it was extremely difficult to maintain the distinction. The aim was, that the produce of a distillery should go out with the name of the distiller upon them; but it was impossible for the Government officers to follow the spirits up into the public-house or the grocer's shop where they might be sold. Spirits which left the bonded warehouses should go out with their true mark, showing what they were, and after that the public would have to take care of themselves, as they did with reference to other articles. If more stringent regulations could be devised, consistent with the freedom of trade, the Government would be glad to enforce them, but all they could do was to give every security that the true character of the article should be made known.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

House adjourned at One o'clock, till Monday next.