§ On the motion that the, Customs Bill be read a third time,
§ The Duke of Wellington
observed, that it was necessary that something should done to allay the excitement which prevailed out of doors, in consequence of a clause which had been introduced into this bill, giving the Customs the power of imposing an ad valorem duty on all perishable fruit imported from abroad into this country.
§ The Duke of Richmond
corroborated the statement of his noble Friend as to the excitement which this clause had created in the maritime counties nearest to France. He understood, that when the Customs placed an ad valorem duty upon any commodity, the owner of the commodity had the option of either paying the duty, or of leaving the commodity in the possession of the Customs, at the value which they had placed upon it. As fruit was a perishable commodity, it was not improbable that when any dispute arose as to the value, it would be left in the possession of the Customs. This would convert the Board of Customs into fruit-sellers, and would lead, no doubt, to a defalcation of revenue. There was also another clause in the bill, which, as it was an infringement on the rights of property, he wished to see altered. It was a clause which gave the mounted preventive service 1113 the power of passing through all turnpikes and over all private bridges free of toll. Now many of the turnpike trusts in the maritime counties were in a state of embarrassment, and these exemptions from toll, which in number were increasing every Session, would tend to increase their difficulties. It was for the general benefit of the revenue that the preventive service was employed, and he saw no reason why any part of the expense of it should be thrown exclusively on the maritime counties.
§ Bill postponed.