§ The EARL of CLARENDON
I rise to move the Second Reading of the Customs Bill, and I trust it will not be necessary for me to trespass at any length upon the time of the House, for I believe that no opposition to the principle of the Bill exists, or is intended. No question of free trade is involved in this measure—it threatens no dependence upon foreign supplies—it admits no foreign competition with native industry—the question lies simply between two classes of our fellow-countrymen—the home and the colonial producers of spirits, each claiming that which they have an undoubted right to claim, and are entitled to expect, from the justice of Parliament, viz., to be placed on a footing of perfect equality; and I am sure that the Government, by whom this measure is introduced, have had no other object in view. The solution of this question has presented some difficulties, and has required much care; for it involved considerations as to the various processes of distillation, and the different materials used in different parts of the kingdom: these, together with the difficulty of reducing to their money value the restrictions imposed by the Excise, and of reconciling the statements, the manifestly exaggerated statements put forward by the distillers of the three kingdoms, with the counter-statements made by the West Indians, certainly have tended to make the subject more complicated than your Lordships will, perhaps, consider it to be in reality, if I have the good fortune to render it intelligible. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having 1244 promised that he would be prepared to bring the diminution of the rum duties under the consideration of Parliament at an early period of this Session, devoted, himself last autumn to the examination of the question; and having called upon the different parties for written statements of their views—having personally conferred with various deputations—and having consulted the practical and most experienced officers of the Excise—my right hon. Friend felt no doubt, for reasons which I will presently explain, that a differential duty of 6d. would fully satisfy the justice of the case, and cover such additional charges as the home producers of spirit were compelled to incur, and from which the colonial producers were exempt. Finding, however, that there still existed alarm among even the moderate—those who really desired nothing more than competition upon fair and equal terms—my right hon. Friend consented, with a view of securing, as I believe he did secure, their concurrence, to add 50 per cent to the protection which he believed to be sufficient, as did also the Excise officers, who certainly cannot ever be accused of running any unnecessary risk with the revenue. My right hon. Friend, by this, exposed himself to a charge of some inconsistency, and it gave no small dissatisfaction to the West Indians; but the House of Commons, after a full discussion, sanctioned the measure by a majority of 117, notwithstanding all the agitation upon the subject, and the canvassing which had for a long time been carried on with the activity which distinguishes our fellow-countrymen north of the Tweed, in whatever they undertake; only sixty-eight Members of the House of Commons were found to doubt the accuracy of my right hon. Friend's calculations, and to vote for further inquiry. And feeling convinced, as I do, that this protection of 9d. is ample—that it is not only a just but a liberal arrangement—and that it does satisfy those who are prepared for fair competition, and are not contending for monopoly—I regret that it should fail to satisfy noble Lords opposite, and that they wish for further inquiry, in the expectation, of course, of increasing the differential duty upon the produce of our colonics. Your Lordships are aware that the duty on spirits into England is 7s. 10d., into Scotland 3s. 8d., and into Ireland 2s. 8d. per gallon; and the object of this Bill is to place the same differential duty 1245 on rum introduced into the three countries over and above the duty paid on spirits in those countries respectively: that differential duty was last year reduced in England from 1s. 6d. to 1s. This is considered, upon inquiry, to be more than necessary to cover the disadvantages under which the English distiller labours. It is therefore proposed to reduce it to 9d., and to make it applicable to Scotland and Ireland; and the duties on rum would then be 8s. 7d., for England, 4s. 5d. for Scotland, and 3s. 5d. for Ireland; and from such rates I feel perfectly convinced that the Scotch and Irish distillers have nothing whatever to apprehend—that their fears, which however seem common to all classes whenever any change of duties affecting their interests are proposed, are purely chimerical; for not only do the West Indians deny the possibility of competing with the homemade spirit at these duties, but the taste for rum seems entirely to have passed away, at least if consumption is to be any criterion of taste—for since 1800, notwithstanding the great increase of population, the consumption of rum has decreased. Now I think from this that a change of taste is as evident as it is natural, as for my own part I cannot conceive there being any doubt as to which of the two is preferable; and nothing, I should think, but great inferiority in the price of rum could ever bring it into real consumption with whisky. Now, I will state upon what grounds the differential duty on spirits distilled in England has been fixed; for upon that, as I shall hope to show your Lordships, the whole question really turns. The House will, I am sure, admit that the rate of duty on the importation of an article which comes into competition with an article of a similar description, the produce and manufacture of this country, is to be determined first by the direct duty levied on that article; secondly, by the amount of duty chargeable upon any of the materials necessarily used in the manufacture; and thirdly, by any additional expenses unavoidably incurred by the manufacturer in consequence of fiscal regulations which he is compelled to observe, to whatever extent they may fairly enhance the cost of production. Now, as I said before, the differential duty was last year reduced from 1s. 6d. to 1s., and without any complaint on the part of the English distillers; but they have since urged a claim for protection to the extent of 1s. 4½d. I may observe, too, on the other hand, that the 1246 West Indians deny their claim to more than a protection of 2d., and affirm rum cannot compete fairly with the home-made spirit at a higher rate than 2d. The distillers estimate their burdens for which they claim protection as follows. They commence with 1d. per gallon for corn duty. Well, the duty on corn is now suspended; and within little more than twelve months after it is reimposed it will be altogether abolished, and no allowance can consequently be made for that. The next item is 1½d. for malt. The duty, in fact, upon the 1–11th quantity of malt used, is really 1¼d.; but in that the Excise agree as a just claim. They claim, then, 1d. for increased plant, consequent upon the regulations established by the Excise in 1825, and the additional amount of capital necessary to effect a separation of their premises: this the Excise also admit to be just. They then claim 4d. for duty on decreases, and interest of money advanced; but upon the question of decreases there can be no doubt, for they are ascertained, and by official documents they can be shown to be, as nearly as possible, 1½d.—that amount representing the actual decreases ascertained in the stocks of the principal English distillers; and the spirit, when made, passes immediately from the hands of the distiller, who only works according to the demands from the rectifier, who pays for it as soon as the distiller in fact is called upon to pay the duty; and the Scotch and Irish distillers warehouse their spirit. The next claim is for 6d., in order to cover the extra expense of rectifying, arising from legal restrictions; but this includes waste in rectifying, and in stock, and the interest on duty advanced till the rectifier can find a market, amounting in the aggregate to 2¼d. I must observe, that the process of rectifying is not necessary: it need not be resorted to; for spirit in the state in which it is sent to the rectifier, is consumed in Ireland, or, at all events, with a small addition of malt; but it is rectified to meet the taste of the English consumer, for which more than an equivalent price is obtained. No compensation for that can be claimed; and this waste and loss complained of are not the results of fiscal interference: they would take place under any circumstances; and as the distiller, if allowed to rectify and compound on his own premises—(which he is not on account of the frauds to which the revenue would be exposed, as the strength of spirit cannot be ascertained after admixture with saccharine substances) 1247 —for this separate establishment compensation is due; but if he were allowed to rectify and compound on his own premises, he would have to provide additional buildings for storing spirits, and to enlarge his plant: 1d. has been deducted for this upon the same ground that he claimed 1d. for having had to enlarge his plant, making together 3¼d., and leaving 2¾d. for such extra expenses as may be incurred for the separate process. This brings the whole amount to 5¾d., and upon that ground the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed originally a differential duty of 6d., leaving out of account the claim of 3d., made by the distillers for Excise restrictions; 1st. because they themselves candidly admitted the difficulty of estimating them in money value, and because any argument they brought forward in favour of 3d. was just as applicable to 2d. or 4d.; and, next, because it was thought that a fair equivalent for any such expenses were the freight paid for rum—the insurance—the heavy expenses of landing and warehousing—and the leakage on the passage, which is estimated at 15 per cent, together with the loss on the casks. Nevertheless, taking the amount of loss for Excise restriction at the fanciful sum stated by the distillers, viz., at 3d. (and this 3d. a gallon would amount to about 10,000l. a year in the London distilleries, which must be an exaggerated estimate of Excise restrictions), and adding it to 5¾d., it makes 8¾d., and the protecting duty given to them is 9d. Now, if any proof were wanting that this is sufficient, and more than sufficient, it will be found in the fact that twenty years ago the protection was under 11d.; from 1814 to 1826 there was no nominal distinction of duty at all, but the charge was imposed on rum at proof, and on British spirits at 7 above proof; making a difference in favour of British spirits of something less than 11d. At that time the corn law of 1815 was in operation, which pressed very severely upon the consumer of corn. The West Indian planters at that time, too, were enabled to employ slave labour, and to make rum much cheaper than they can now, when they have a difficulty in obtaining labour, and when, as they are daily improving the manufacture of sugar, they will have less rum to send here. Well, and what was the fact? That at this differential duty of less than 11d., no increased quantity of rum was introduced, the quantities being as nearly as possible the same, although 1248 at the same time the consumption of British spirits largely increased. In consequence of the change made in the Excise regulations in 1825, a differential duty of 1s. 6d. was granted; but this being manifestly beyond what was just or necessary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Goulburn, in 1830, proposed to reduce it to 1s. and was only prevented from doing so by the change of Government. But the case of the distillers had been fully heard, and according to their own calculations 9½d. was the burden imposed upon them by the existing corn laws, and that consequently, if the corn law had at that moment been repealed, they would have been satisfied with 8½d. The Irish distillers at the same time claimed 1s. for the injury done by the corn law, and 6d. for Excise restrictions, although the same corn law and the same Excise laws applied to both countries alike. It is true, they make no such claim now with respect to the corn law; but their statement was either true or false in 1830: if true, what cause of complaint is there against the proposed duty of 9d.? if false, what reliance can be placed upon the claims they have now put forward? I think that I have shown, to the satisfaction of the House, that the English distiller, so far from having any ground for complaint, must in justice admit, and I believe he does, that his interests have been carefully and liberally protected. I now come to the Scotch and Irish distillers, who claim a larger amount of protection on account of the larger quantity of malt used by them in the manufacture of spirits, especially the Scotch, whose spirit is for the greater part made wholly from malt. I will first observe, that in Scotland a drawback of the whole duty, 1s. 2d. on malt, was formerly granted; and it is important to bear in mind that it was not for the purpose of promoting or favouring this particular description of spirit, but solely in order to enable the legal distiller to compete successfully with the illicit distillation which then prevailed to an enormous extent. The measure was completely successful for its object; and some years ago, in 1832, on the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons, the allowance was reduced, and the drawback was fixed and still remains at 8d.; but, perhaps, if the whole subject be fully investigated, it will be found that this drawback may, with safety to the revenue, which is the only point to be considered, be further reduced, if not altogether done 1249 away with, as it has been in Ireland. The Irish distiller, on the other hand, works generally from a mixture of raw grain and malt in variable proportions; but he receives no drawback on account of such purely malt spirit made in Ireland; in fact, it was discontinued at the suggestion of the Irish distillers themselves. The Irish distiller, however, says, as he uses more malt than the English, the allowance of 1½d. is not sufficient for him, and he claims 2½d.; but then he does not rectify or compound: he has no separate premises to provide for, as the English distiller has; and he will find ample compensation for the 1d. which he claims, in the 2¾d. which is allowed to the English distiller, and which forms an item in the 9d. differential duty. But neither the Scotch nor the Irish can, consistently with the principle which must be assumed as governing a differential rate of duty, viz., the amount charged upon any article necessarily used in the manufacture, claim any such compensation: if the home spirit could only be made from malt, it is obvious that the whole duty paid on malt by the distiller must be charged in the shape of a differential duty upon the colonial spirit which comes into competition with it. They cannot claim any protection founded upon the use of taxed malt, which, in consulting the taste of their consumers, they may think it for their interest to employ—they are not compelled to use it; but they do use it, because it improves the quality and increases the price of the spirit. Malt spirit suits the taste of Scotland—mixed or raw grain spirit, that of Ireland—and a compounded spirit is preferred in England; and the English distiller might just as well claim an allowance in respect of the duty on any foreign ingredients, such as fruits, sugar, spices, and essential oils, which he may use in imparting flavour or additional strength to the compounds known as British gin, cream of the valley, old tom, or the various other names by which the rectifiers distinguish their respective spirits, In all distillation a certain quantity of malt is indispensable, not for the purpose of giving flavour or strength, but in order to facilitate the process, and to what is called saccharize the materials. This indispensable quantity is 1–11th, the proportions being of malt, 2 — oats, 2 — barley, 18; and for that an allowance is made, because it is indispensable; and the same principle will be found to prevail generally in drawbacks, 1250 for no allowance is made on exportation in respect of the constituent parts of any article, however highly they may have been charged on importation by the Customs, or by the Excise, as articles subject to internal taxation. Take, for instance, spirits of wine exported, in combination with other ingredients: no drawback is allowed there; and the exceptions prove the rule, for a drawback is allowed upon beer exported, that is, upon the malt used in beer, because the use of grain malted, or unmalted, is not optional. The law compels the brewer to use malted corn, and therefore grants him an allowance, just as it does to the distiller upon the malt which he necessarily consumes in his business; but upon hops which are heavily taxed, but which are not indispensable in brewing, and the use of which the law does not prescribe, no drawback is allowed. Upon the same principle, a drawback is allowed on the exportation of paper and soap, for which returns have been moved, to the amount of the duty charged on them when manufactured: because the duty is imposed on them by law, they cannot be made without it; there is no option about paying the duty, as there is with respect to malt. For the same reason a drawback was allowed on printed calicoes, glass, leather and vinegar, when the manufacturers of these articles were compelled to pay Excise duty. The analogy of these cases confirms the correctness of the view taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as by the Board of Excise, in fixing the duty on rum. In cases of this kind, some broad general rule is obviously necessary to avoid the difficulty and (as in the end it would turn out) the injustice of attempting to favour the different views of opposing parties, because such attempts to adjust inequalities of condition would only multiply the claims on each side, as well as the difficulty of adjusting them. Allow the claim of the Scotch distiller for the malt with which he produces a complete spirit fit for use, and suited to the taste of his consumers; and I don't see upon what ground the claim of the English distiller could be rejected for protection on account of his waste in rectifying, and of those articles he uses in compounding, and without which he would find no customers; while in Ireland, if you attempt an adjustment founded on the quantity of malt used at discretion, no uniform rate of duty could equitably be levied, because malt is there used in variable proportions. But you must either impose a uniform rate of duty 1251 on rum far higher than would be just towards the consumers of that spirit in England, or you must then have three different rates of duty on colonial spirits, which would not only be contrary to our practice, and unjust to our colonies but the Scotch and Irish distillers would speedily find the disadvantage of such a system, as the English distillers would unquestionably have as good a right to be protected from the competition of those countries as they claim against the colonial spirits; and upon this—upon the importation of spirits from Scotland and Ireland—the whole matter rests. If those spirits compete with spirits made in England, it is clear that they must be on an equal footing, and that if the allowance of 9d. differential duty on rum fairly protects English spirits, that is, places rum on a footing of equality with it, why, it follows that Scotch and Irish spirits will in future, as heretofore, compete with English spirits, and consequently with rum also. The quantity of spirits produced in England is 5,624,000 gallons; whilst of spirits imported from Scotland into England there were last year 2,136,000 gallons, and from Ireland 1,418,000 gallons, together more than 3,500,000, equal to the 3–5ths of the whole quantity manufactured in England. Is not this a proof that the spirits of Scotland and Ireland compete on equal terms with those of England? and is not this a trade more important than any connected with rum? and is it wise to run any risk of disturbing it by questions of protection with reference to the component parts of spirit in the three countries? One-third of the spirits distilled in Scotland conies to this country, and one-twelfth goes to Ireland, which, if ingredients are to be considered, would have a fair right to be protected against such importations; but in fact, if the duty paid on malt could be regarded as giving a right to special and exclusive protection against the competition of the colonial spirit, I can't see why it would not constitute an equally strong ground for protection against the competition of the home-made grain spirit which is manufactured in Scotland and Ireland, and consumed there as an unrectified spirit. No such demand has, however, been dreamt of; nor can any with justice be claimed against the competition of the colonial spirit, beyond that which can be shown to be an extra and unavoidable expense in the manufacture of the home over the colonial spirit. The malt spirit being 1252 the best spirit produced, bears a relative price in the market more than equivalent to the malt duty. The price of pure malt spirit is 1s. 10d., the malt duty is 1s. 4d., showing a clear gain of 6d. a gallon over and above the cost entailed by the use of malt, just as gin and compounds command a price more than equivalent to the ingredients used in compounding them; and malt spirit and grain spirit and compounds are severally consumed by parties who like to use the better and dearest, or the cheaper and inferior spirit. There is no principle that can with justice be adopted, except that of fixing the extra duty on rum with reference to the extra charges ascertained to press on grain spirit, leaving the competition between rum and homemade spirit, other than grain spirit, upon the same footing as the competition between, such home-made spirit, other than grain spirit, and grain spirit, now is. But, after all, the whole contest is about a shadow, a chimera; and there can, I am convinced, he no error more gross than to suppose that any large quantity of rum will ever he introduced into this country: the national taste is against it. This was proved, as I said before, in 1826; when the duty was lowered, a larger quantity was imported, in expectation of a demand which was found not to exist; and the importation decreased, while the production of British spirits largely increased. The total quantity of spirits consumed in Great Britain and Ireland is 26,000,000, while that of rum is about 2,500,000, being a difference of 23,500,000 in favour of the home-made article—nearly nine to one; and there is another material fact which must not be left out of consideration, which is, that not only the attention and industry of the colonies, but a vast amount of British capital and enterprise are now directed to improvement and economy in the manufacture of sugar; and every improvement that is effected leads to a diminished production of rum. The manufacture of sugar is the most valuable use to which the cane can be turned; and the more perfect the manufacture, the less will be the quantity of rum and molasses produced. Why, recently a most important experiment has been made which promises to be successful, and to change the whole process of manufacture in the West Indies, and leave hardly a particle of the substance from which rum and molasses are now produced. Upon these grounds, then, I do trust your Lordships will not 1253 see cause to sanction such a departure from your usual course as to consent to the Motion of the noble Duke that this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. There are no facts to be ascertained which are not already in the possession of those who are interested in this subject; and nothing in which an inquiry before a Committee would assist your judgment, except, perhaps, the claims of the West Indians to a less amount of duty than that which this Bill imposes. There is only one item in the list of claims made by the distillers which is doubtful, viz., the money value of Excise restrictions. But the distillers, without supporting their estimate by either facts or arguments that would not equally apply to any other sum, have fixed that loss at 3d.; and my right hon. Friend, not being able to disprove it, any more than they were able to prove it, has allowed it. I trust that your Lordships may see fit to pursue a course similar to that pursued by the House of Commons upon a Motion of the same nature; and that you will not consent to delay or to alter a measure that the Government has brought forward, with a sincere conviction that it does equal justice and affords equal protection to the different interests concerned. I have only now to thank your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to these details, upon a subject necessarily dry and uninteresting, and which I fear I may not have rendered as clear as I could have wished.
said, that Her Majesty's Government had declared that it was not intended by that Bill to carry out any abstract principle of free trade, but that it was to be regarded as merely a measure of justice to the West Indian colonies. For his own part, he was not desirous of upholding any protection to the British distiller at the expense, or to the sacrifice of the colonial interest, more than justice required. The whole question involved was as to the figure which should be charged for the differential duty; and this was the object of his noble Friend in moving for a Select Committee to inquire into the subject. He would suggest that the Bill be at once read a second time, and the House at once proceed to the discussion of the proposition of his noble Friend (the Duke of Montrose).
§ Bill read 2a.
The DUKE of MONTROSE
rose to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. Without resorting to such a course, he was sure that they could not arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the amount of differential duty which should be charged. He referred to the Act of the Session before last, relative to the importation into this country of spirits made in the Channel Islands, which laid down the principle that a Customs duty ought to be imposed sufficient to counterbalance the loss to the distillers by Excise regulations, and enacted as that duty the sum of 1s. 2d. The noble Earl stated, that they should not take into their calculation on this question of the differential duty, the amount of malt duty paid by the British distiller; but he was satisfied, if a Committee were granted, that he should be able to show that this was a most important clement, which ought never to have been lost sight of in forming an estimate. The distillers also said, that such was the uncertainty of the course pursued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that there was no security as to any further proceedings, or that he might not come down next year with another proposition for change; they asked also for an investigation into the restrictions which had been placed upon them, not only by duties, but in the shape of Excise regulations. Mr. Huskisson stated, that, independently of the charge of the malt duty, the loss occasioned by the Excise regulations, in the mode of levying it, to the maltster, was equivalent to not less than 50 per cent; to the distiller, however, the loss was much greater, in consequence of the Excise interfering with the process of manufacture in every stage. The loss to the distiller in consequence of the Excise regulations regarding the use of yeast, was equivalent to an additional charge on him of 1d. a gallon. Again, the amount of spirits charged with the duty, was more than the amount produced by the distiller. The Government estimated the amount of duty by three different modes, and were at liberty to choose whichever gave the most amount of duty; so that it often happened that considerable loss was sustained by the distiller; as, although he paid duty on 100 gallons, he did not get more than 95 gallons of spirit. An allowance was also made for leakage or waste in foreign spirits as respected the duty; but nothing of the kind was allowed for British spirits. 1255 Such allowance on rum was calculated to be at least 3 per cent; while on brandy it often amounted to as much as 8 per cent. This the British distillers calculated as equal to a duty of 2d. per gallon on spirits produced by them. The Irish distillers were allowed to bond spirits, and they were prepared to prove that while in bond there was a loss on their spirits equal on the average to 10 per cent. The noble Earl said that there were no Excise returns to show anything of the kind; but it should be remembered that the Excise made no returns respecting the quantity of home spirits in bond, as the revenue was not affected. All that he required on the part of the English, Scotch, and Irish distiller, was a fair inquiry into the whole question. They stated that the Government had been mistaken; they therefore asked for inquiry. Was it not monstrous, that when a body of men stated the Government was mistaken, and offered to prove their case, the Government should say it would not hear them—that it would decide on its own responsibility? Government allowed there was a primâ facie case of justice on the side of the distillers, and yet it would not hear them. Another hardship the Scotch distillers laboured under, was connected with the importation of their spirit into England. The duty on spirit was less in Scotland than in this country; the distiller was only allowed by law to import it into England by sea; and before he took it out of bond for importation, he was compelled to pay the difference between the English and Scotch duty. If a cask should afterwards be staved, the distiller lost both his spirit and the duty he had paid on it. Now, the duty on colonial rum was only paid on its being taken out of bond for consumption. It should be remembered, too, that by the Excise regulations, the distillers were obliged to finish one process before they began another; they were not allowed to carry on two at once. Thus they were compelled to extinguish their furnaces, causing a great loss of fuel. Then the Excise officers were required constantly to visit the premises. It was quite impossible to do this without admitting the cold air; this checked the fermentation, and was extremely injurious to the process. The distillers, therefore, stated as a fact, that these Excise regulations prevented them from drawing as much saccharine matter and spirits from the grain as they would otherwise. The loss from this cause was not less than a penny a gal- 1256 lon; and it was to estimate these various losses, which the Government denied, that the distillers asked for a Committee. The noble Earl said, he did not believe there were hardships on the Scotch distillers, since they were able to send their spirits into competition with those of English distillers. But the increase in the quantity of excised spirits in Scotland arose from the reduction of the duty from 6s. 2d. per gallon to 3s. 8d. Before that reduction, illicit distillation prevailed, and, from the nature of the country, it was impossible to prevent it; but under the lower duty, the illicit trade was destroyed, and the spirit made was brought to charge. That was the secret cause of the great increase in the quantity distilled in Scotland; but the returns of duty charged since, the increase of the malt duty, showed that while raw spirits had greatly increased, those from malt had not, which was a complete proof that the malt duty did affect the trade in a very material degree. The distillers were also liable to pay an amount of malt duty proportionate to the quantity of spirit drawn from the malt, over and above the quantity allowed by law. They were supposed by the Government to draw sixteen gallons of spirit from a quarter of malt; but they often drew twenty gallons. By the Excise regulations, they were required to pay the malt duty as well as the spirit duty upon the difference, raising the duty from 8d. to 10d. and 11d. per gallon. This was not merely a question as to competition with rum, but the Bill allowed the importation of all colonial spirits; and the distillers would be exposed to much unequal competition in Canada, where the distillers were not subjected to a malt tax or Excise regulations. Was that fair justice? There could only be one answer to the question. The Excise regulations interfered so much with the processes of the distillers, that they were prevented from using improved modes. They were not allowed to try experiments; and they justly complained of being compelled always to proceed upon the old jogtrot plan. They said, if they were not fettered by the Excise regulations, they could draw a much greater quantity of spirit from the malt, and thus place themselves on an equality with the foreign producer. He had now gone through the whole case; that of Ireland was very similar; but he should leave it in the hands of the noble Earl. It was quite impossible to come to a satisfactory conclusion on all 1257 these points without going into a Committee, where they might be thoroughly investigated. Without that inquiry, the settlement could not be a permanent one. He therefore moved that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
The EARL of EGLINTOUN
was of opinion that an inquiry ought to be gone into—not such an inquiry as could be made by speeches from certain noble Lords who might understand the question, and noble Lords who knew nothing about it, but such an inquiry as would bring out the truth, and cause justice to be fairly done to all parties. When therefore a remonstrance had been made by the distillers, it would be dealing rather harshly not to allow that body an opportunity of stating their case. It was due as much to the colonist as to the distiller that such an investigation should take place. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had meditated an extreme injustice in the first instance to the home distiller, or else he now meditated a similar injustice to the colonics; for he at first intended to make only a difference of 6d. in the duty, but, as he said, in order to facilitate the passing of the Bill in that House, he would put on an additional duty of threepence on rum. The noble Duke who had proposed the Amendment had gone so fully into details, that he would not attempt to follow him through his arguments, but would content himself by alluding very shortly to the probable operation of the measure, as far as the Scotch distillers were concerned. The laws regulating the operation of the distillers were so minute in their details, and so new in language, that it was impossible for their Lordships to ascertain the correctness of the calculations made by the distillers. The case of the malt distillers was one of simpler nature; and so impressed was he with the justness of the case which they had made out, that if he stood alone he would urge upon their Lordships the necessity of rejecting the measure. The facts as regarded Scotland were very few and very simple. The proposed duty was 4s. and 5s. on rum, the duty on whisky was 3s. 8d., and the duty on the quantity of malt requisite for a gallon 8d., making altogether 4s. 4d., thus leaving only one penny to meet the losses sustained by Excise restrictions. In dealing with the question as regarded that country, it should be borne in mind that it was less a financial than a social question that had to be solved. There were 250 works—distillery works—in Scotland, in 1258 which a capital of more than half a million was embarked, which employed thousands of persons, and distributed more than a hundred thousand pounds in payment of wages. If a false step was now taken, the risk would be run of driving that branch of industry to foreign countries, and throwing thousands of persons out of employment, and hundreds of acres out of cultivation. The noble Earl then read letters from distillers, one of whom paid 600l. a week in wages, and another of whom had reared 4,000l. worth of pigs from the refuse of his distillery, to show what would be the probable amount of injury to the country if that branch of its industry were destroyed. It would also have the effect of adding an incalculable number of paupers to rates already overburdened with the maintenance of the poor. Was the present, he would ask their Lordships, a time to injure the Scottish landowner, and more especially the Highland proprietor, when they were so nobly straining every nerve to support their famishing people; and their people as nobly enduring the fearful privation to which they were exposed? The noble Earl then read a letter, relating the shipwreck of a vessel laden with, meal on the part of the Highland coast where the distress was greatest; and stating that the poor people had exerted themselves to the utmost to save the vessel and cargo, while not a single pound of the meal had been lost. If it were really true that by the passing of this measure the incentive to crime would be diminished—if the crime of intoxication were likely to be abated—then, he would say, it would be cheaply purchased; but, in his opinion, such would not be the tendency. The quantity of spirits consumed would not be diminished, for the loss of whisky would be supplied by the same quantity of rum. The only difference, therefore, would be in the quality of the spirit. But then came another and a very serious consideration. The people of Scotland were so strongly attached to their whisky that they would not be satisfied with the foreign spirit; and the consequence would be, that illicit distillation would be extensively resorted to. The measure would thus have the twofold evil effect of injuring the revenue, and lowering the morals of the people of that country. The distillers did not base their claims on protection, or ask for differential duties, without good and sufficient cause. They could not enter upon a more profitable mode of manufacture than they employed at pre- 1259 sent, as the law and the Excise obliged them to distil in one manner. They were thus precluded from the benefits of improvement in the process—an advantage which was not denied to the colonial producer. If British and colonial spirits were placed upon the same level, the distillers at home ought to be liberated from all those restrictions which so peculiarly oppressed their trade; otherwise it would be a rank injustice to them. He trusted, therefore, that their Lordships would pause before they passed the Bill before them; and that they would agree without opposition to the noble Duke's proposal.
bore testimony to the extreme ability with which the noble Duke opposite had brought forward the distillers' case, and proved himself master of all its complicated details. At the same time, it appeared to him that the noble Duke had not succeeded in shading the arguments contained in the statement of his noble Friend who moved the second reading of the Bill. In the course of his (Lord Campbell's) whole Parliamentary experience, he had never heard a more able speech in either House of Parliament than that in which his noble Friend had proposed the second reading of the Bill. Without any exaggeration, or any deviation from the main question for discussion, his noble Friend had laid before their Lordships plainly, and with characteristic distinctness, the facts of the case—the facts which had weighed with his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the facts which had weighed with the Government—and the facts which had weighed with the other House of Parliament. The noble Duke had not attempted to contradict any of the calculations which the noble Earl had made; and it was only on the vague question as to the loss which the distiller would sustain from Excise restrictions that the noble Duke tried to argue the case. That alone made a strong primâ facie case in favour of the Bill. The Government had no possible object but to do what was fair and just between the colonial producers and the interests at home. The question was not one of a party character, neither did it contain a single consideration connected with politics. Great anxiety had been felt by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to calmly consider the object he had in view, with a desire to deal equitably between both interests. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), who had presented a petition against the Bill, had 1260 charged the Chancellor of the Exchequer with vacillating as to the course which he intended to adopt with reference to this subject; but he begged to assure their Lordships, that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the close of the last Session of Parliament, proposed a shilling duty, it was intended to be, and was stated to be, a temporary measure only; and his reason for postponing a conclusive measure, arose from the circumstance of his desire to investigate the matter in all its bearings, in order to do ample justice to both parties. The right hon. Gentleman did consider it; and, after laborious calculations, came to the conclusion that a differential duty of sixpence would give ample compensation to the British distiller for the disadvantages under which he was placed; but, on further consideration, he raised the duty to 9d. In the other House of Parliament, where the interests of the distillers were well and efficiently represented, upon a division, a majority of seventy-five declared in favour of the reduction of differential duty. Upon due consideration, he hoped their Lordships would arrive at the conclusion that ample justice had been done to both interests. As far as English distillers were concerned, he thought the noble Duke, and the noble Lord who had followed him, had not in the slightest degree succeeded in detecting any error in the calculations of his noble Friend. As far as the English distillers were concerned, he thought his noble Friend had shown that 9d. was an ample protection. He did not consider that the reduction of duty would increase illicit distillation; the only question was whether it would give an undue tendency to the consumption of rum instead of whisky, and he did not think it would. He would be the last man to oppose anything advantageous to his countrymen, with respect to whom he cordially concurred in the well-merited eulogium of the noble Earl who had just addressed the House; but he had no apprehension that the measure would cause the consumption of rum in preference to whisky. The malt distillers of Scotland were at present able to compete with the English distillers in their own market; for it was a fact, that 2,000,000 of gallons of whisky were imported into England from Scotland annually. The superior quality of the Scoth whisky, and he would instance the case of Islay whisky, would always serve to maintain its consumption. That peculiar description of spirit had main- 1261 tained, did maintain, and would maintain its reputation wherever it appeared, and wherever there were persons capable of appreciating it. He felt it to be his duty to oppose the Amendment of the noble Duke, as he thought it was idle to suppose any good could be effected by examining distillers and persons engaged in the manufacture of spirits, who only knew the subject with a view to their own advantage; and, although the petitioners, as was stated by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), were unanimous, as all petitioners were, and sure to be, against any fiscal regulation which they thought might be injurious to them, or deprive them of any undue advantage—notwithstanding, as he said, that unanimity on the part of the petitioners, he should oppose the Amendment of the noble Duke.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
observed, that the arguments advanced by the noble Lord at the opposite side, showed the absolute necessity of referring the subject to a Select Committee. He found the noble and learned Lord who had last addressed them, declaring that sixpence was a sufficient protection, and that the manufacture of the Scotch spirit was so superior that no competition was to be dreaded from the foreign producer. He (the Duke of Richmond), did not, however, think the noble and learned Lord knew much about the manufacture of whisky. It appeared he knew much better how to drink it than to make it. It was quite true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a public pledge last Session, that he would bring forward a measure to reduce the duty on foreign spirits. He could not deny that such a pledge was given; but his noble and learned Friend opposite had said that, after much deliberation, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made up his mind as to the precise amount of duty; and yet, a fortnight after the meeting of Parliament, they found the Chancellor of the Exchequer giving up a part of his proposition, and giving greater protection to the distillers of Scotland. This showed that the much-vaunted "mature deliberation and careful consideration" of the right hon. Gentleman went for nothing, and proved that, if he had consulted the proper sources of information, and not consulted the gentlemen of the Board of Trade, whose business it was to alter and put different constructions upon things, his conclusions might have been of another kind. The right hon. Gentleman had availed himself of in- 1262 formation supplied to the Board of Trade, and from returns similar to those of which they had such pretty specimens laid upon the Table of their House. But when he saw the statement of the distillers, he altered his intention, and gave them a protection of 3d. more. The noble Lord opposite, however, considered that too much had been given the distillers, and that the protection ought to have been 6d. instead of 9d. That was his (the Duke of Richmond's) ground for asking for a Committee to inquire into the allegations made by the distillers. He did not stand there to see justice done to one interest to the exclusion of another. He was the advocate of the Irish, the English, and the Scotch distillers, and on their behalf he called for a Committee. But it was said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "You need not be afraid of injury, because very little foreign spirit will be brought into this country." Why, then, inflame and alarm the minds of men who had embarked a large amount of capital, and had built expensive premises for the prosecution of their business, if the result of this measure would not cause large importations of the foreign produce? His noble Friend who spoke second in the debate had said he could not understand how it would promote illicit distillation; yet his noble Friend (the Earl of Eglintoun) had said that if the distillers were ruined the people were so fond of whisky that they would procure the illicit spirit in preference to the foreign. He agreed with that argument, for no one who knew the people, and had spent much time in Scotland, did not also know the de-moralising effects of the illicit distillation of whisky in that country. It turned the labourers from their natural and useful occupation into distillers, and led them into danger and degradation. How was that difficulty to be got rid of? They had on their Statute-book one of the most unjust and impolitic Acts that ever obtained the sanction of Parliament. They had the malt tax, which would constantly come against them, and until they got rid of it they could not bring forward any measures of this kind without finding the greatest difficulties interposed. He hoped the day was not far distant when that Act would be repealed; and he trusted that the people of England, now that they had been promised cheap bread, would take care that they also got cheap beer. He could not sit down without expressing his hearty concurrence in the line of conduct adopted 1263 by his noble Friends, who had opposed the measure with so much ability. He regretted that Parliament appeared to proceed on the worst possible principle that Parliament could be guided by. They professed themselves willing to hear the appeals of the people; but petitions might be presented to their House, and they would not attend to them, neither would they grant any inquiry into their grievances. He could not expect that in that Council Chamber they would change those Acts which had reflected so much disgrace on the House of Lords last Session; but he did expect they would at least grant an opportunity for inquiry. Last year they refused to hear the silk-weavers, and now they refused to hear the distillers. If they continued to pursue this ill-judged policy, soon would the independence of their character as a legislative assembly be lost, and soon would their decisions be regulated only by the will of the Minister and by the acts of his followers.
had really expected, after the able and conclusive arguments which had been adduced by the noble Lord behind him, by the noble Duke who had just sat down, and by the other noble Lords who had opposed this measure, that some farther notice would have been taken by the noble Lords who represented the Government in that House beyond the speech of the noble and learned Lord opposite. It appeared to him that the question of "free trade" did not enter into that discussion; but he would tell them what did. It was a question of justice between two classes whose interests might be materially and deeply affected by changes which appeared to them to involve a small sum, and to be matter of insignificance, but which, reckoned by the large scale to which they were applied, might have the effect of altering the whole course of trade, and transferring a great and important consideration from one party to another, and that under regulations professing to place them both on a footing of fair and just equality. As his noble Friend (the Duke of Richmond) had already stated, the Government had originally declared, that after a careful examination of the question—after testing the facts and making calculations—they thought a differential duty of 6d. a duty which was fair and reasonable and equitable between the parties. Well, if they thought that, they ought to have adhered to it. They were not there to dispense favours. If it had 1264 been a favour for which the distillers had been applying, and if it would have been conferred without injury to others, no man could have complained of it. But Her Majesty's Ministers were not in the position of being entitled to confer a favour on one class at the expense of another, or at the expense of that justice which they were bound to consult. It was true the sum in question was but 3d. per gallon; but that 3d. a gallon had been applied to an article the intrinsic value of which was 2s. They treated it as if it was a matter of indifference whether it should be 3d. a gallon more, or 3d. a gallon less. But he would ask the Government, was it a matter of indifference to impose 15 per cent more or less? He (Lord Stanley) would be the last person to refuse to call upon their Lordships to make a sacrifice for the purpose of doing justice to the West India interest. It had been his fortune to be connected with a question in which, for the sake of the West India interest, he did call upon Parliament to make a sacrifice; and it was his happiness and pride that he had been in any degree instrumental in inducing the people of England, for the purpose of doing an act of justice, to make one of the largest pecuniary sacrifices ever made in favour of the West India interest. With these feelings, he did not think he could be charged with wishing to place the interests of any other class in unjust competition with the interests of the West Indian proprietors. But not only the West Indian proprietors, but the proprietors of Cuba, Havannah, and the Brazils, ought not to require greater advantages in free trade than those which were conferred upon our own fellow-countrymen. They were not about to place them upon terms of equality, but upon terms of inequality. They asked, therefore, for an opportunity of proving this allegation: they said, "Dispute our different statements, if you please; prove the error of our calculations, and we will submit to your decision without a murmur and without hesitation; but at least do not refuse to hear us." They offered to be examined—prove that their allegations were unfounded, and then they would submit without a murmur. But he would venture to say that if they would but grant an inquiry, they would have the sanction of the House to the principle which would place both the British producer and the colonist on the same footing. These were questions which wholly turned on correct calculations of a penny here, a halfpenny there, 1265 and twopence in another place; which sums, though apparently trivial, made a wide difference to the parties concerned, notwithstanding the free and easy way in which the noble Earl opposite went from sixpence to threepence. That, in fact, was the whole question. It was not what the noble Earl would allow of the claim, but whether that claim was justly threepence, or a penny, or only a halfpenny. To say that he considered they were entitled to this sum or the other, was but begging the question; which really was whether the calculation of the Government or that of the distillers, was the most equitable. He thought the clear and able speech made by his noble Friend behind him—a speech most clear and interesting on a subject by no means interesting in itself, but rendered so by the admirable clearness with which he brought before the House a series of complicated calculations — was perfectly conclusive. He would not weaken the force and effect of that speech by going through those calculations in detail; but there were one or two points in the argument of the noble Earl opposite which he must notice. The first was the extraordinary manner in which he treated questions that related to such small sums as a penny. Did the noble Lord not know that small matters in detail become large ones in the aggregate? He would mention a case. The distillers were compelled, every new fermentation, to use a new portion of yeast; but, after one fermentation, its power was not wholly exhausted, and it would be a gain to use it in successive operations in successive vats. But no, said their laws, you shall not do it, because there would be some risk of fraud in the amount of spirit produced. Therefore, the yeast was all thrown away, though it might not be exhausted; and the consequence of their laws was that fresh yeast had to be purchased for each separate operation. This was clearly and manifestly an expenditure solely caused by their laws. His noble Friend pointed out most clearly the operation of the drawback, respecting which the noble Earl opposite said he would allow but a halfpenny, although the claim of the distillers was threepence halfpenny. But they asked their Lordships not to allow that claim, but that the distillers might come before them, and prove if they could their right to the amount they claimed; to give in detail every item of that demand. He would state another case of extreme hardship which arose out of these restrictive laws. 1266 The wort was not allowed to be transferred from one vat to another except in the presence of an Excise officer; they could not even have two vats open at the same time. To say nothing of the loss by delayed fermentation in consequence of this law, what was the result if one of these vats should burst? Though it might so happen that by drawing a plug the whole of the liquor might be saved, by being run off into another vessel, the brewer would be liable to heavy penalties if he were to do so, unless in the presence of an exciseman; and the whole of the liquor must run to waste, though it might have been saved. The value of the wort in some of the vats in the large breweries, on which duty was paid, was 1,500l.; and because they were not allowed to draw a plug, liquor to the value of 1,500l., on which the duty was actually paid, must, under such circumstances, run to waste. What was worse, of that 1,500l., 1,200l. was duty; and of that duty the brewer would not be able to make one shilling. That would, he supposed, be a mere trifle to the noble Lord on the other side of the House. But let the distillers prove the amount of loss to which they were subject by those regulations. He would not now go into the details respecting the Excise; but if their Lordships would turn to the Seventh Report of the Commission which sat in 1834, of which Sir Henry Parnell was chairman, they would find seven folio pages full of these restrictions, which pressed with such heaviness upon brewing and distilling. It was indeed difficult to believe how any set of men could have so long submitted to them; but they did not complain. They said it might be necessary to impose these restrictions to prevent any loss in the amount of duty; but when the Government proposed to place them on the same footing with persons whose manufacture was free from these restrictions, they did ask them to give them a countervailing duty. What they now asked for was a Committee in order that they might see justice done to all parties. Another point to which the noble Earl had not alluded at all was, that the distillers in the East and West Indies had not only freedom from these extraordinary expenses, but they were at liberty to use that which was to them the cheapest material. Here, then, was a duty on molasses; take off that, and let the distillers enter into a fair competition. But no; distillation from molasses would risk a chance of fraud upon the revenue; and the British distiller, 1267 therefore, was not allowed to use the cheapest materials. To prevent that fraud, the British distiller was prevented from using molasses, from which in Jamaica and the East Indies the rum was made, and they made him no allowance whatever, and imposed no countervailing duty. This was a dry subject, and well nigh exhausted. It laid, however, in a narrow compass Their Lordships were not asked to decide whether it would be an act of injustice, or whether the claim of the distillers was unjust; but he asked them, before they affirmed that the Government should give a certain amount of differential duty—not even that which the Government itself believed to be equitable—viz., a reduction of fifty per cent on what they imposed last year—which was a reduction of 100 per cent on that which, in 1825, after the most careful consideration and revision of the Excise and Revenue Laws, was imposed, and which had remained since that time in force without any complaint being made—but they were asked not to set aside the result of all that inquiry and experience without an examination of the parties most affected by the proposed alteration. This was the full extent, and no more, of the Motion of the noble Duke. He trusted Her Majesty's Ministers would take an opportunity of explaining more freely and in what mode they had made the calculations from which they had arrived at their decision; and, on the other hand, that those who would be injured by this measure might be allowed, if they could do so, to substantiate their grounds of complaint. To adopt any other course would be an act of injustice which he could not believe their Lordships would sanction; and he would, therefore, most cordially vote for the Motion of the noble Duke.
§ EARL GREY
said, that the observations made from the other side of the House had entirely failed to shake the reasonings of his noble Friend who had introduced the measure. Upon that statement of the case, indeed, Her Majesty's Ministers were willing to leave the question for the decision of their Lordships; and he felt confident that, with all the additions which the acuteness of the noble Lord who had just addressed the House could suggest to the adverse argument, such of their Lordships as had heard the whole debate would not be disposed to deny that the opening statement still remained untouched. The principal motive he had for now addressing their Lordships, was merely that he de- 1268 sired to meet that sort of taunt which had been thrown out against Her Majesty's Government from the other side of the House, and to show that concern which would naturally be felt by one holding the office he had the honour to hold, on a question so materially affecting colonial interests. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had adverted to the change which had taken place in the course announced by Her Majesty's Government; a differential duty of 6d. having been proposed on rum, and before the subject came to be decided, in the other House of Parliament a duty of 9d., as was thought right under the circumstances, having been substituted. There was really no need for concealment in such a matter; and he (Earl Grey) had no hesitation in saying still, that 6d. would be a fairer amount of duty. But in matters of taxation, it was the duty of the Government to defer to the sense of the other House of Parliament; and it did appear to Her Majesty's Ministers that the proposition in favour of a duty of 6d. was a proposition which they would not succeed in carrying; therefore, and therefore only, had they substituted a duty of 9d. It was said that justice to the colonists required their Lordships to submit the whole subject to a Select Committee. Those, however, who were directly interested in the colonies did not desire to have the question referred to a Select Committee. What they did desire was, that the Bill as it now stood should pass with the least possible delay. What would be the result if the Motion for a Select Committee were carried? The Motion, indeed, was proposed with no other view and object than to get rid of the matter altogether. It was further argued that their Lordships should agree to appoint a Select Committee for the purpose of having the statements made by parties on opposite sides of the question properly scrutinized. But there were no new facts to be brought forward; all the facts of the case had already been given in the fullest detail. The irregularity with which the proceedings in Committees were conducted was known to their Lordships; he had heard of some remarkable instances of such irregularity, and that at no very distant date. Was it to be supposed that, if the decision of a Committee were to be carried by a majority of three over two, that decision would, irrespective of the reasons on which it was founded, govern the judgment of their Lordships and of the other House of Parliament? Their Lordships 1269 must still weigh the reasons; they must again debate the question on the Committee's report. With regard to the claims of the distillers, which had been stated with so much ability by his noble Friend opposite, he would refer again to a point alluded to by the noble Earl who had introduced the measure. In 1830, the whole body of distillers submitted a memorial to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, drawn up with great ability, and the whole amount they then laid claim to was a differential duty of 1s. 6d.; and on their own statement it appeared that 9½d. of that was made up of the increased price of corn consequent upon the corn laws. Now the corn laws were at an end; and as, leaving that out of the question, 8½d. was considered so lately as 1830; since when, there had been no alteration in the duties on malt, or in any way which could make their case worse, the 9d. now proposed was ½d. more than they then demanded. He should, however, perhaps be told that that only related to English distillers, and that it did not touch the Irish and Scotch. In order to meet this, it would be necessary to look at the comparative position of the parties; and if they found that the present condition of the Scotch and Irish was as good as that of the English distillers, there was an end of the arguments. That equality was the fact; the Scotch and Irish distillers could meet with advantage their English rivals in the English market, as had been most satisfactorily proved by the noble Lord (Lord Campbell). Of the whole quantity of spirits consumed in this country, the proportion distilled in Scotland and Ireland, as compared with England, was as 5 to 4. That surely decided the argument in favour of the Government measure. The Bill passed last year respecting sugar created great alarm in the British colonics; but he was happy to say that the prospect of such measures being passed, as that allowing the use of sugar in breweries and distilleries, the one now before the House, together with the more favourable prospect of good crops, had greatly tended to mitigate that alarm. By the last advices he had received, he found that more cheerful anticipations were entertained; and that they were looking forward, by means of increased exertions and the operations of the measures he had alluded to, to meet the competition to which they were subjected by the Bill of last year. But he (Earl Grey) did say that, having exposed them to that competition, 1270 it would be an act not very easy to justify if their Lordships, by rejecting this Bill, dashed the cup of hope from the lips of the colonists, and disappointed their highly raised expectations, and taught them that the principle of competition was adopted to their prejudice; but not when it tended to their advantage. If their Lordships passed the Bill, he (Earl Grey) should be more sanguine every day of the happy effects as to the improvement of the colonies of that measure of last year; but he could perceive no course so calculated to shake the confidence of the colonists in British legislation; he could perceive no course so calculated to injure trade as that of rejecting a Bill sent up from the other House by such an overwhelming majority of men of all political opinions and of all parties. He trusted the House would not take so fatal a course, but pass the Bill without any delay.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
said, that as he had been intrusted with petitions from Ireland on the subject of this Bill, he felt that he should not do his duty if he did not say a few words on the present occasion. He believed that in the history of the three kingdoms no instance could be found of any class which had been subjected to such frequent alterations of the law, and to such practical injustice by the Legislature, as the distillers. He had been justified in his opposition to the course taken by the late Government with respect to distilleries by the fact, that they had in a subsequent Session been compelled to retrace their steps and repeal the law which they had themselves passed. It was in the same spirit at the present moment that he addressed their Lordships on the part of a great commercial interest, not merely connected with the country to which he belonged, but with the whole United Kingdom, who, though differing on some points among themselves, were united in preferring a prayer to their Lordships to grant the moderate and rational request that they would institute an inquiry before they proceeded to legislate. His noble Friend (Earl Grey) had dealt with the Amendment as if it were a proposition to reject the Bill. [Cheers.] It appeared by those cheers that noble Lords so regarded it; but if such was the object of the proposition, he for one should hesitate much before he joined in rejecting this measure. But that really was not the nature of the Amendment. Was there any contest about the principle of the Bill? None. If there 1271 were, then that would be a question for the House itself to determine, and not one that should be referred to a Select Committee. The principle was admitted on both sides—namely, the adoption of a measure which should be productive of an equality of trade as between the colonial and the home producers of spirits. How was that equality of trade to be produced? It was by imposing upon the colonial article introduced into this country a discriminating duty which should be equal to the amount of charge to which the home article was subjected. Now this, he contended, was entirely a matter of inquiry; and he might appeal to the present debate as a proof of the necessity of it. There had been statements made with great ability on both sides; were their Lordships prepared upon those statements, on one side or the other, to come to a decision with respect to which of the two parties of asserters were, in the right or in the wrong? On the one hand he was told that this was a matter perfectly immaterial to the colonial interests, because the taste of the people of England was averse to rum; on the other land his noble Friend opposite, naturally feeling for the interests of the party with which he was connected, said that it was a question in which the colonial interests were deeply involved, and that the colonies could not be prosperous except by an alteration in the duty on rum. When doctors differed, it was not for him to resolve their differences; but it strongly proved that it was a case fit for inquiry. One word for Ireland. There were few branches of commercial interest connected with that country; but a small amount of capital was embarked in manufacturing industry there. That was one of the evils to which Ireland was subjected. But, among the few occupations which diverted the people from the cultivation of the land, in order to apply themselves to commercial pursuits, the distilleries of the country furnished the most productive means of employment. He, therefore, was not willing, without inquiry, to adopt a measure which might in its results seriously and injuriously affect that interest. On these grounds he should support the Amendment proposed by his noble Friend.
§ The House divided:—Content 57; Non-content 48: Majority for the Motion 9.
§ Bill read 2a.
§ House adjourned.