« AnteriorContinuar »
particularly as there was a large army maintained in Ireland and a large fleet on the coaft, and the confumption of provifions by them would at least compenfate for the temporary decrease of foreign trade. With regard to the drawbacks on fugar, they certainly ought to be the fame in both countries, and if there were inftances in which from any mistake they were not fo, they would be rectified. With respect to the leather trade, he did not conceive that any reduction of the duty was necessary, because it had continued to profper, and he believed thofe who were engaged in it were perfectly fatisfied. As to the duty upon the importation of foreign herrings, he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman that it ought to be reduced; the duty was 6s. 7d. a barrel, and under that duty the trade had increafed, and he was fure it would not be denied that Parliament ought to adopt every means to encourage our own fisheries. With regard to tobacco, the reason why it could only be shipped on board veffels of a certain fize was, because it was neceffary, in order to prevent its being fmuggled into the little creeks and harbours of Ireland, in small veffels which the Custom-house cutters could not follow. He then proceeded shortly to advert to the other objections which had been made to the schedule, but contended that they were not fuch as ought to induce the House to lower the duties.
Mr. Dawson obferved, that the window tax, which, at the time it was laid on, was professed to be a war tax, appeared in the bill before the Houfe among the permanent taxes. This tax the hon. Member recollected to have been faid, at its in-. troduction, to be pointed particularly at the difaffected; for it was remarked, that as they were not of that defcription of perfons who would contribute to the exigencies of the State, by any tax on wine, &c. they must be made to pay for their light and the Houfe would no doubt be surprised to hear, that this tax on light was much beyond the rate then levied by a fimilar tax in this country. The hon. Member was particularly emphatic in expreffing his difapprobation of the tax on the export of Irish linen, which he confidered to be a viclation of the letter and spirit of the union; and a full confirmation of the predictions fo often delivered by the adverfàries of that .measure, previous to its enactment; that whenever the interefts of the two countries fhould happen to come into competition, the one hundred reprefentatives for Ireland would avail very little, however well-difpofed towards their native country, against the five hundred and fifty-eight Members who are immediately interefted in the concerns of Great Britain.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it right to have it recorded on the face of the bill, that the war taxes which had been impofed in Ireland fhould ceafe with the duration of the correfponding taxes which exifted in this country. He vindicated his right hon. Friend (Mr. Corry) from the imputation of neglecting the interefts of the trade of Ireland; and, in proof of his attention to that subject, mentioned, that the increased duty, which in the courfe of the laft feffion had been imposed on German linen imported into this country, was laid on in confequence of the fuggeftion of his right hon. Friend, that it was material to the protection and encouragement of the linen-trade of Ireland. This additional tax on German linen, the right hon. Gentleman ftated to have excited fo much difcontent among the importers, that he had reason to believe that before the expiration of the prefent feffion, an application would be made to the Houfe, by petition from these importers, to have this duty reduced.
Mr. Corry faid, that he had had it in contemplation to make a propofition in the Committee, refpecting the war taxes, to the effect recommended by his right hon. Friend.
Mr. Vanfittart fpoke generally in favour of the bill.
Mr. G. Ponfonby faw no ground for acceding to the additional tax upon Irish linen. No Committee had been inftituted to afcertain how far it was juft or neceffary. The House had nothing to proceed upon in juftification of the meafure, but the affertion of the right hon. Gentleman. As to the comparison made between the linen of Ireland and England, the fair mode of confidering the question was, whether both countries were equally fit to bear the propofed tax. The reafon affigned by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in fupport of this equal tax as he termed it, appeared to him to be very extraordinary indeed, viz. that it would be unfair that if Irish and English linen fhould be fhipped in the same ship, the one should be subject to the tax, and the other exempt from it. Then if that were to be the criterion, it feemed, if thofe goods were carried in different fhips, the complaint of inequality in taxation would difappear. The learned Member recommended, for the fake of clearness, and for the fatisfaction of the Houfe, that the right hon. Member should draw up two separate schedules, in the one of which should be claffed fuch taxes as were meant to be permanent ones, and in the other the taxes which were to ceafe at the expiration of the war.
Mr. Alexander faid, it would be impoffible that even England itself, with its great capital, would be able to rival the north
of Ireland in the linen trade, it was fo firmly established in that article of commerce.
Mr. Fafter referred to a former period, at which the Irish Parliament had fucceeded in forcing the Irith linens into the Spanish market, by voting a bounty of 5 per cent. on exportation to that country. By a fimilar train of reasoning, he fuppofed that the impofition of a duty of 3 per cent. might tend to prevent it from going into any foreign market. He confidered the bill as operating unfairly in two ways, the one by making permanent feveral laws which heretofore were only annual, and the other by depriving his Majefty of a confiderable portion of hereditary revenue, without any intimation to the House of his having acceded to fuch a measure.
Mr. Pitt faid, he certainly was not aware of the objection which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke laft: he was not then prepared to give a decided opinion upon the fubject, but he was prepared to fay, that from fuch an ob jection coming from fuch a quarter, the Houfe ought not to proceed without very maturely confidering the fubject. If the right hon. Gentleman was not miftaken in the objection he had made (and he fhould be furprised indeed if he were mistaken) if the bill now before the Houfe went to produce that effect, and there was no meffage from the Crown to authorize that proceeding, it was undoubtedly a breach of the proceedings and conftitution of Parliament, and one that should not, and he hoped would not, be paffed over lightly.
Mr. Corry was about to proceed in further explanation, and to add fome further arguments, when he was interrupted by
Mr. Fofter, who called to order, faying, that by explanation he understood that a Member of Parliament was to explain what he meant by what he had already faid, and not what he was going to fay.
The Speaker obferved, that if it was objected to, the right hon. Gentleman could not be allowed to go into argument upon a queftion to which he had already fpoken, without the fpecial leave of the Houfe.
Mr. Corry faid, that for obvious reafons, and out of respect to the Houfe, he should certainly confine himself to explanation, and be very fhort: what he had to fay arofe out of the obfervations of a right hon. Gentleman, whom he never heard without great refpect. He should, however, state how the matter flood. The Civil Lift was granted in Ireland in the 33d of the King, and thefe provifions which were now under difcuffion, were enacted in lieu of those duties which
fubfifted before that time. His Majefty having given up the receipts of his revenue, the hereditary duties to the Crown had merged during that time; but the right to them was not difturbed, but was to revive in full force at the expiration of the term for which the civil lift was granted: thus it was, that from year to year the hereditary duties to the Crown remained as it were in abeyance, during the continuance of this arrangement between the Crown and the Public, but would revive again after the time had expired during which the agreement was in force. This bill was formed on the model of other bills which had paffed from year to year in Ireland from that time, and this only to render permanent that fyftem which had been adopted and annually paffed in Ireland. The right of the Crown neceffarily revives when the period arrived by which the arrangement was at an end; nor was there the leaft intention to the contrary. Thus the cafe ftood on conftitutional principles. Now, a certain portion of these duties was granted annually, fome of which were now inferted in this bill, which was propofed to be permanent, and a certain portion was omitted in this bill, fuch as the land and malt, that was an annual measure yet; and with regard to the other duties, it was propofed that they should be permanent, and they were, the con.olidated fund of Ireland, charged with the interest of the national debt, and alfo the civil lift of his Majefty, and that of the proportion which Ireland was to bear of the contribution it was bound to make to the public burthen by the union, as well as all the penfions and other parliamentary payments that were to be made. He was not aware there was any thing in this bill, or that any thing would arife out of it, which would in any degree affect the hereditary revenues of the Crown, longer than had already, by the confent of the Crown, and by agreement between the Crown and the Public, been provided.
Mr. Fofter faid, he should alfo enter into a fhort explanation of what he had faid, which he fhould do by way of reply to what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman. He had juft faid, that on forming the confolidated fund of Ireland thefe hereditary revenues had been given up by his Majefty, by a gracious meffage, defiring that Parliament might bring them in the public aid, and difpofe of them as Parliament fhould think proper, and that in lieu of them the Crown had a civil lift. Now, this agreement could only be binding on the Crown during the exiftence of the right in his Majefty. His Majefty had only a life intereft in these hereditary revenues; but what was to be the effect of this bill? It was that VOL II 1803-4.
of a perpetual difpofal of thefe hereditary revenues of the Crown, not only during his Majesty's, but also during every reign to eternity. He would afk, if that was parliamentary? He would afk, was it conftitutional to diveft the Crown for ever of its rights, without any confent from the Crown, without even fo much as a meffage from the Crown? This was a point too clear to enter largely into it, and therefore he should not trefpafs any longer on the patience of the House.
Lord Caftlereagh faid, he had not had an opportunity of reading this bill, and he had no means of knowing what it contained; but he did not apprehend it would have the effect flated by the right hon. Gentleman. However, if the words in the bill fhould be found to go further than his right hon. Friend apprehended and had ftated, it would be for the Houfe to confider it, when the claufes came to be read. The principle of the bill was clear; but as the intereft of the Crown was concerned, it was important to take care that nothing - fhould find its way into it by inadvertency, which might have the effect of disturbing the fettlement made between the Crown and the Parliament of Ireland, on the hereditary revenues and the civil lift, as it, took place on the 33d of the King. Now how did it ftand? The Irith Parliament, after this agreement with the Crown, provided that the duties given up by the Crown fhould be applied to the ufe of the Public for one year, and continued then from year to year, until they had been made permanent fince the union; for the practice of the Parliament of Ireland was different from that of England in that refpect. His right hon. Friend had faid, that on public grounds it was expedient that these duties fhould continue in operation without a fresh arrangement every year; and this bill was only to render permanent, duties which were voted away by the Parliament of Ireland annually, fince the 33d year of the prefent reign; it was a principle acted upon by the Crown ever fince; nor was there the leaft idea that its operation should continue further than during the life of the Monarch now on the throne; it could not affect the rights of the Crown afterwards. But the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, had said that it would be in operation during the fucceeding reigns. Now, as he had not read the bill, he could not say what it contained, but if it had any provifion which would fo operate, that provision might be altered. The surrender of these duties, by agreement between the Crown and the Parliament, was abfoJute during the life of his prefent Majefty; and it was for the Parliament to confider whether the appropriation of them fhould be permanent, or only from year to year. He thought