HL Deb 30 July 1839 vol 49 cc987-91
The Marquess of Lansdowne

rose to move the second reading of the Inland Warehousing Bill. He did not think it necessary to say anything with regard to the sound policy and great advantages of the warehousing system, for he believed, that all persons were now prepared to acknowledge the incalculable benefits that the commercial and manufacturing interests, as well as the country at large, had derived from it. Fortunately, the feelings of the country were not in the state that they were when Sir Robert Walpole proposed the adoption of a system somewhat similar, and which excited against him the greatest unpopularity, and exposed his life and person to danger. The present system was adopted in 1803, and while it had been productive of the greatest public benefits, he was not aware that it had led to any complaints. The question now was, whether they could extend the system by embracing within its operation some of the large inland towns, instead of confining it, as at present, to certain ports. It might be said, that inland towns did not afford the same security for the collection of the revenue on the foreign articles warehoused for home consumption. It was the duty of the Treasury to see that every fiscal security was afforded, and before a licence for bonded warehouses in any inland town was granted, of course proper care would be taken that no risk was incurred in this respect. The question, then, for that House to consider was, whether there was any objection to trust the Treasury with powers which would enable it to take steps to make the inland towns partake of the benefits of the warehousing system, which were important to those places, as well as to the country at large. He had never before heard it asserted, till it was said in some petitions, that the ports which enjoyed these bonded privileges possessed vested rights, and that, therefore, they might deprive other places, and indeed the public at large, of the advantages of extending the system. The principle on which the warehousing system rested was, that taxes should be paid—if it could be done with security to the revenue—at those times, and at those places, most convenient to the consumers. On this principle it was that the depots should be placed in such situations that the manufacturer, retail merchant, or shopkeeper, might get the articles which he required for consumption on paying the duties, and should not be required to pay them before. He proposed the second reading of the bill with great satisfaction, as he was convinced, that it would be productive of great benefit. It was a subject that had for some time been under the consideration of the Government, and it had been carried through the other House by a very large majority; he trusted, therefore, that the House would sanction the second reading.

Lord Ashburton

admitted, that the ports had no right to claim a vested interest in the possession of the bonded warehouses, and he also admitted that if it was for the advantage of the country those privileges should be extended to other places. He did not think, however, that any case had been made out to prove that any benefits could arise from extending the bonded system to inland towns. This bill was not, as had been asserted, an extension of the principle of the bonded system, but it was a complete departure from it. The only advantage, that possibly could be alleged in its favour, was, that the bill would give certain persons in inland towns longer time for the payment of the duties. There were, however, no large inland towns in this country, at such a distance from the sea ports, that great inconvenience could arise to the public by not being able to get goods from the bonded warehouses in a short time. He also thought it was objectionable to leave this species of patronage to the Government, to determine that our inland towns should have this privilege, while it should be withheld from others. He would take the strongest case, namely, that of Manchester which place was within an hour's travelling of Liverpool. The manufacturers of Manchester could, within as short a time procure their bonded from the warehouses at Liverpool as persons at Westminster could from the London or St. Catharine's Docks. He thought, also, that there would be some want of security to the revenue in having highly-taxed articles conveyed to inland towns without having the duty paid. If this bill passed, he was sure, that within a short time demands would be made from inland towns that would appear to be unsuitable, to be released from their bonded warehouses, as they would be productive of so much inconvenience. He believed, that the bill had been pressed upon one of her Majesty's Ministers by his constituents, as it was generally supposed, that they would chiefly profit by it. He recollected, that the late Mr. Canning said that while Member for Liverpool he found it to be impossible to do justice to the jobs of his constituents, and to the claims upon himself as a Member of the Government. He was satisfied that this bill would add nothing to the commercial advantages of the country, and at the same time, it would lead to gross abuses, and to constant losses of the public revenue. He was also satesfied that no great inconvenience was experienced at present, as all the large manufacturing towns were within a short distance of the bonding ports. He trusted, therefore, that the House would not sanction the bill, but would support the amendment which he should propose, namely, that the bill be read a second time that day three months.

Lord Brougham

stated, that his noble Friend was a very great authority on all subjects, but more particularly an a matter of this kind, as it was well known, that he had long been regarded as the first merchant in the world. He did not, however, altogether agree with him in the conclusion that his noble Friend had arrived at. He was by no means sure that the bill might not be productive of advantages, he should, however, vote for his noble Friend's amendment on the ground that sufficient time had not been given for the consideration of the bill. In addition to this, his noble and learned Friend had presented two petitions from important places, praying to be heard by counsel against this bill, as property to the amount of millions would be risked by it. If he was not mistaken, the petitioners stated, that property at Liverpool of the value of nearer five than four millions would be risked by the bill. It was nonsense to assert, that property was not increased in value by the warehouses having the privilege of holding bonding goods being conferred on it. Thus the land on which the Regent's docks at Liverpool stood, was increased in value to an almost incalculable extent by this privilege, whereas the warehouses within fifty yards of them, which had not this privilege, were of com- paratively little value. He presumed the reason why the privilege was to be conferred in warehousing thirty miles off the docks at Liverpool, while it was refused to those within a few yards of them, was, that Manchester bad the good fortune to be represented by the President of the Board of Trade. He did not, however, mean to say, that on consideration he might not assent to the bill, but he should oppose its progress now on the ground that it was too late a period of the Session to bring forward a measure of this kind, on a subject respecting which there was such a great discrepancy of opinion, and when there were parties at the bar praying to be heard against it. The bill was introduced in the other House only on the 16th of July, and it was one of that class of bills that he stated a few nights ago should be introduced at an early period of the Session.

Viscount Melbourne

said, that notwithstanding the great knowledge and experience of the noble Lord (Lord Ashburton), and the great eloquence and observations of the noble and learned Lord, he thought that no valid ground had been stated for the rejection of this bill. He certainly did not think that it came within that class of bills which it was urged should be postponed, in consequence of their requiring further information, and the fullest consideration. The noble Lord stated, that no material grievance had resulted from the want of bonded ware houses in inland towns. But this was not a fair ground of objection, for could it be said, that no evil arose, when the interests of the country and of these places were not promoted in the way in which they might be, by having such privileges as these? Was it no injustice to deprive these persons of such advantages? The noble Lord said, that all the great towns were near some seaport where there were bonded warehouses. What would the noble Lord say to the towns of Birmingham, Nottingham, or Leicester, which were as nearly as possible in the middle of the island? They were, therefore, as far from seaports as they could be, although the noble Lord might not regard them as being very distant. Was it not advantageous for the manufacturers and consumers at those places, that they should have the bonded articles as near them as possible, and that every facility should be afforded to procure them as they were required. The noble and learned Lord alluded to Manchester, but he (Lord Melbourne) believed that that town was not the place that most anxiously sought for this bill. His noble Friend had alluded to the rapid means of communication between Liverpool and Manchester, but it was manifestly absurd to say, that the heavy goods, such as those warehoused articles, were conveyed from one of these places to another in an hour. This might be the time for passengers, but heavy articles were not conveyed by railways. With respect to the protection of the revenue, the Treasury would have the power of deciding on proper sites for warehouses, and of course due care would be taken on this point. This bill would be advantageous to large numbers of the manufacturers and traders of the country, and it was sought for by a great number of large towns, and it had been sanctioned by a large majority of the other House. He thought that the latter was a reason that would have weight with his noble and learned Friend, who had dwelt much upon measures sent up to that House that had received the sanction of a large majority of the other house. He, however, did not regard this of so much consequence, as he was satisfied, that measures that ought to receive the sanction of their Lordships might only be carried by a small majority in the other House. Very good measures might only be supported by a very small majority, and therefore he did not attach so much importance to the circumstances of a large majority as his noble and learned Friend. He would only add, that he was satisfied of the beneficial tendency of this bill, and should give it his cordial support.

The House divided on the original question:—Contents 38; Not-Contents 48: Majority 10.

List of the NOT-CONTENTS.
Armagh. Bathurst
DUKE. Longford
Wellington. Wicklow
Downshire Charleville
Londonderry Oxford
Ormonde. Harrowby
EARLS. Glengall
Abingdon Eldon
Morton Ripon.
Galloway Hereford
Dartmouth Strathallan
Aylesford Strangford
Gage Berwick
Hawarden Redesdale
Gort Ellenborough
Canterbury. Prudhoe
BISHOPS. Rayleigh
Carlisle Bexley
Oxford Wharncliffe
Glocester. Fitzgerald
LORDS. Lyndhurst
Saltoun Brougham
Sinclair De Lisle
Monson Ashburton.
Paired off.
Montrose Sherborne
Bute Falmouth
Exeter Sydney
Ailesbury Hood
Westmeath Doneraile
Jersey St. Vincent
Eglinton Exmouth
Dalhousie Beresford
Leven Combermere
Orkney Canning
Digby Reay
Carnarvon Rodney
Courtown Kenyon
Mountcashel Braybrooke
Clare Dunsany
Bandon Glenlyon
Limerick Maryborough
Lonsdale Forester
Verulam Downes
Bradford Wallace
Portman Lilford
De Mauley Rosebery
Albemarle Dormer
Torrington Kintore
Vernon Methuen
Lichfield Strafford
Bellhaven Yarborough
Camperdown Crewe
Kinnaird Cowper
Sutherland Lovelace
Petre Bateman
Shrewsbury Erroll
Carew Wenlock
Lynedoch Fingall
Sefton Zetland
Cork Bruce
Scarborough Duncannon
Ducie Cloncurry
Uxbridge Lovat

Bill put off for three months.