§ Lord Auckland moved the order of the day for their Lordships to resolve themselves into a Committee on the Cotton Duties Act. He would make no further observations than merely to express the satisfaction which Ministers felt at being able to reduce a tax which pressed heavily and injuriously on the cotton manufacture.
took the opportunity to advert to the small surplus revenue which the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had calculated, he observed, on the revenue of one year only, instead of taking the average of several years, and the 1070 noble Lord ought to have remembered that the harvest last year was unusually abundant. He had no right to calculate upon such a surplus next year. It was, however, by the surplus revenue that former Ministers had preserved the credit of the country, kept up the price of the funds, and been enabled to reduce the interest of the debt somewhere about four millions since the peace. With respect to the duty on cotton, which it was now proposed to repeal, he reminded the Ministers that they had laid on that duty contrary to the voice of experience, though they now candidly described it as a most injurious tax. He had pointed out to them at the time, the impolicy of increasing the tax on India cotton, and they had abstained from doing it. He was happy to say, that the consequence bad been, that the quantity of cotton imported from India had considerably increased since 1830, while the quality had been much improved. It now fetched 8d. per lb., and was equal to the average of the North American Cotton. He would suggest the propriety of removing all the duty on East India Cotton.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that in point of fact, the surplus revenue had at any time contributed very little to the reduction of the National Debt. That had been effected by the reduction of the rate of interest, which was determined far less by the revenue derived from taxes than by the general state of the market. The way in which the reduction was now going on, was by the conversion of Perpetual into Terminable Annuities. With respect to the reduction of the duty on India cotton, he did not believe that would make any sensible reduction in the price of the article, or much promote its consumption. The noble Baron was perhaps not aware that the duties had been reduced on indigo, and various other productions of our Indian empire; and that other facilities had been given to the introduction of commodities from India, which he admitted was only due to the inhabitants of that part of the empire.
wished also to advert, which he had forgotten before, to the increased Wine Duties of last year, as another evidence of the erroneous financial policy pursued by Ministers. Those increased duties, instead of yielding 250,000l. additional revenue, as the Ministers had calculated they would, had actually caused a loss to the revenue of 5,000l. By that increased duty the comfort of the people 1071 had been diminished, and the revenue of the country impaired.
The Marquess of Lansdown
said, that a part of the disappointment arose from the discouragement which the consumption of the lighter wines had received, in consequence of the disease which had prevailed in the summer. The propriety of the system on which his Majesty's Ministers had acted, of relieving industry as much as possible, was exemplified by the great increase which had taken place in the manufacture of printed cottons; but they were only enabled to take the duty off them by the help of that small duty on the raw material which they had imposed, and which they were now happy to remove.
§ Bill went through a Committee.