Imatges de pÓgina

MR. CRAUFURD protested against the imputations cast by the hon. Gentleman upon the Scotch distillers as altogether unfounded. He contended that the reason why so small a proportion of Irish whisky was imported into Scotland was because the Irish spirit was almost entirely distilled from raw grain, while the taste of the Scotch people was generally in favour of whisky distilled from malt. He did not think any reason had been shown for postponing the third reading of the Bill. He denied that, on the part of the Scotch distillers, there was any fraud committed which could injure the Irish distillers.

Ireland many years since. He had also MR. VANCE was persuaded that, so been informed that the grossest frauds long as the system of drawbacks was conwere resorted to in Scotland for the pur- tinued, frauds must be perpetrated; and pose of obtaining the malt drawback there, he attributed to these frauds the circumby substituting unmalted for malted corn. stance that Scotch distillers were able to by disposing to ale-brewers and others of manfacture whisky at a lower rate than the malt for which brawback had been they could do as fair traders, and send it allowed, and by various other improper into the Irish market to compete with Irish means, which had been repeatedly proved manufactured spirit. The city he reprebefore Committees of the House. The sented (Dublin) contained many of the unfair contrivances connected with this most extensive distillers in Ireland, who drawback had enabled the Scotch distillers wished only to be placed upon a fair footto undersell the Irish distillers in both ing with their neighbours in Scotland. markets. The practical result was that, in the year 1852, nearly 1,000,000 gallons of Scotch spirits had been imported into Ireland, whilst during the same period the Irish spirits imported into Scotland were under 16,000 gallons. A very serious injury was thus inflicted upon the Irish grain-growers, and it was therefore not a mere distillers' question. This malt drawback might also be fairly opposed upon the still broader ground that the drawback of 8d. per gallon had occasioned an annual loss to the Imperial revenue of nearly 160,0007., which sum was given for the special advantage of those who consumed the superior article, and who could best afford to pay a higher price. The proposed drawback of 124d. per gallon would augment the present temptations to fraud, and would increase the loss of public revenue up to about 250,000l. sterling, which the country could ill afford to sacrifice in these war times. That sum was in effect a bonus or bounty paid by the State in order to bolster up small whisky-makers in the Scotch Highlands for the benefit of landlords there, but to the manifest injury of Irish distillers and farmers. This was neither free trade nor fair trade. He trusted that the hon. Gentleman, on the part of the Government, would not feel ashamed to be guilty of a little fair play towards Ireland, and would now gracefully concede to its representatives a very slight courtesy, which could not retard the passing of his measure, but would afford some short time to inquire into its justice or injustice, and to clear up the serious differences expressed that evening upon important matters of opinion as well as of fact.

MR. DUNCAN said, that the reason why the Scotch spirit trade with Ireland was greater than the reverse trade was, that the Scotch whisky being made from malt was better than the Irish, which was made from grain.

MR. COGAN supported the postponement of the measure until after the holidays, in consequence of the discrepancy between the statement made by the Secretary for the Treasury and the representation contained in the petition he presented to the House on the previous day, with regard to the existence of a drawback on Irish spirits-the hon. Gentleman stating that a drawback did exist in Ireland, whilst the petitioners asserted the contrary to be the case.

[ocr errors]

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.' The House divided:-Ayes 61; Noes 32: Majority 29.

Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third Time."

MR. BEAMISH trusted that, notwithstanding the division which had just taken place, the Government would not press the third reading of this Bill at that moment, but would agree to postpone it until the re-assembling of the House after Whitsuntide. It was very important that the Irish distillers should have an opportunity of stating their case. He moved the adjournment of the debate, and if the Government did not accede to the short delay asked for, he should feel it his duty to go to a division.

MR. HUME said, he could not under

stand what was the object of the required delay. Did it appear that at the end of a week any new fact would be brought forward? [Yes."] He certainly should have answered the question in the negative. If there had been anything requiring the Irish distillers to put themselves in communication with the Government they might have done so long since. The Scotch had found time to do so. He was as ready as any Irish Member to do justice to Ireland, but he thought there was no sufficient reason given for postponing the third reading of this Bill.

MR. FRENCH thought that as the Scotch distillers had been allowed to state their case to the Treasury, the Irish ought to have a like opportunity.

case was the same now as then; and the position of the Irish distillers was not made worse by the present Bill. They were heard last year on the question, and they had had an opportunity of being heard this year. An appeal had been made for delay, and the House had determined by a majority of two to one, that the hon. Members for Ireland had no case. He thought, therefore, he might in his turn appeal to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Beamish) not to persevere with his Motion in the face of the decision of a large majority, nor avail himself of those forms of the House which certainly ought not to be resorted to on the present occasion.

MR. MACGUIRE said, the distillers of the south of Ireland were, he knew, most anxious to express their opinions upon the subject, and that they had not done so was attributable to the fact that they were not cognisant of the time when the Bill was to come before the House. He would remind the House that the Irish Members were a small minority of the House, and that, therefore, they were driven to take advantage of its forms in order to impress their opinions on hon. Members. A request not to avail themselves of form, came with bad grace from the Treasury bench. He would also call the attention of the House to the fact that the Irish Members were unanimous in asking for this delay.

MR. DIGBY SEYMOUR: The appeal for delay was no doubt a very natural one, but after the division which had just been come to, it would be a more dignified course for Irish Members not to further

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER was very sorry that it was quite impossible to accede to the delay which had been asked. The Bill under consideration was a Bill which did not arise upon any general regulation or adjustment of the trade in spirits, such as last year occupied the attention of the House: it was a Bill of firstrate political and financial importance, having for its object to supply no less than 3,000,000l. of taxation for the purpose of carrying on a great and necessary war. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) who made a Motion at an earlier part of the evening, had taken an opportunity-as he was perfectly justified in doing-of raising upon the Bill the question of a grievance upon the part of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman said that the present system of drawback, as regarded Scotch and Irish spirits, was a grievance affecting the Irish | obstruct the measure. distillers. Tho hon. Member was perfectly justified in availing himself of a discussion on a revenue Bill, in order to state a grievance; and he had done so. But his hon. Friend near him (Mr. Wilson) had expressed, on the part of Government an opinion that there was no grievance at all—and in that view it had pleased the House to assent. But the hon. Gentleman had said that the Irish distillers had no opportunity of being heard. To that averment he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) begged most respectfully to demur. Since the 8th of, May, they had as good an opportunity of being heard as the Scotch distillers-nay, he would go further, and say they had been heard. ["No, no!"] Why, he had himself received one deputation at least, if not more, of Irish distillers, during the last Session of Parliament. [An hon. MEMBER: That was another Bill.] The Mr. Hume

MR. KIRK had no desire to obstruct the progress of legislation, but inasmuch as there seemed to be something behind respecting the question of drawbacks, he thought the Government would do well to accede to the appeal for delay.

MR. WILSON said, the suspicion with respect to Scotland was entirely unfounded.

COLONEL DUNNE: Although the Resolutions upon which this Bill is founded, were framed upon the 8th of May, yet the arrangement with regard to the drawback, was not made until much later, and therefore the Irish distillers have not had all that time for consideration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us the old argument about the necessities of the war, but he trades too much upon the necessities of the war, and he ought to consider the proportion of duties to be placed upon different parts of the empire totally irre

[ocr errors]


Motion made, and Question put, the Debate be now adjourned. The House divided :-Ayes 23; Noes 71: Majority 48.

Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read 3°; Amendments made; Bill


Order for Committee read.
House in Committee.

Clause 1, enacting that charges in schedule A shall be payable out of the Consolidated Fund, and charges in schedule B to be voted,

spective of other considerations than the what the result would be; but he was in sum each should cost to make up the the hands of the House. entire amount required for the purposes of the war. I am perfectly prepared to show the right hon. Gentleman that he is acting harshly towards Ireland, and that we are paying a much larger proportion of taxation than we ought to pay. If he denies that, let him give me a Committee composed of Members from different parts of the country, and I will prove it to them. I proposed this before, but the right hon. Gentleman refused to meet me. We will pay anything that we ought to pay. I am quite certain, that no Irishman refuses to support the war, either with his blood or with his money; but we are not to be proportionately over-taxed, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer chooses to say that the war is just and inevitable. I believe that war is inevitable now, and also, that it is just and necessary. I be lieve, however, that it might have been avoided, and certainly the Government have no right to trade upon it. I must say, that I see no use in going to a division upon this question, because it is perfectly certain that we shall be in a minority. If we divide, I shall vote of course with my countrymen; but I think that all we can do is, to add this as a fresh imposition to the list of wrongs and grievances inflicted on Ireland, contrary to all common sense and common justice, and to suffer it with patience.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER said, that as this Bill, though it would, he believed, involve no difference of opinion, was one of great importance in connection with our fiscal arrangements, he was desirous of stating to the Committee its general frame-work, outline, and purpose. In the first place, he begged the Committee to observe that this Bill must be considered in conjunction with certain estimates which had within the last ten days for the first time been laid on the table of the House-he meant estimates of the charges of collecting the revenue in the various great departments. There was, however, one exception to this which the Committee should bear in mind, because the charges with which the collection of the land revenue of the Crown was burdened were not made the subject of any estimate. The reason was very simple:the House of Commons, or, as he might say, the Legislature-were not in full and absolute possession of this land revenue, or of the estates from which it proceeded; the estates remained the estates of the Crown, and the country had the proceeds of those estates during the life of Her Majesty, upon the specific terms of the Civil List Act. That Act constituted a compact between Parliament and the Crown, and under the terms of that compact the expense of the management of the Crown estates was a deduction made anterior to the payment of the proceeds into the Exchequer. The estimates which had been presented related to what might be called the three great spending departments of the State-the Customs, the Board of InMR. BEAMISH said, he did not like to land Revenue, and the Post Office; and press his Motion to a division, knowing they embraced together a sum of, he

MR. F. SCULLY thought it unfair to put the fair whisky trade in Ireland in a worse position than it was before. The Government would not lose anything by postponing the measure for a week, and as the Scotch distillers had already gained an advantage, he thought those of Ireland might gain something if time were afforded them. He did not approve of a factious course of opposition; but this measure was of importance to Ireland, sufficient to justify them in taking every proper course. He thought, however, the Irish Members had discharged their duty, and if Government persisted in a wrong course, on it rested the responsibility. He thought it better, on the whole, that his hon. Friend should withdraw his Motion.

MR. J. O'CONNELL observed, that no Member on the part of the Government had replied to his argument, that this Bill was against the principles of free trade.


thought, not far short of 4,000,000l. of judiciously effected, this operation would The whole sum of 4,000,000l. be rather a profitable arrangement to the did not, he thought, appear in the Esti- public than otherwise, and it would rid mates, but the gross amount included draw- them of an anomaly attended with some backs and repayments, which could not be inconvenience. A certain portion of these made a subject of estimate. The Commit- pensions had been already bought up; in tee would perceive that there were certain point of fact, he might say that, substanschedules appended to the present Bill; tially, the whole matter was concluded so and in relation to them he would enumerate far as regarded the most important penwhat were the different descriptions of sions; but, from one cause or another, the charges with which the Government had arrangement in several cases was not yet to deal in endeavouring to make this step ready to take effect. Until it did take towards a state of uniformity and simpli-effect-that was provisionally—he proposed city in the mode of handling and accounting for public money-a State which he would not say would be realised by this Bill, but towards which they were, he trusted, approaching. The first class of charges, which was comprised in schedule A, consisted of certain charges and payments upon the revenues of Customs and Excise; that was to say, of certain charges which had been heretofore defrayed, not out of moneys which had come into the Exchequer, but out of those various branches of the revenue before it reached the Exchequer. The Committee should understand that all these charges had been so defrayed with perfect regularity, because they had been defrayed under the distinct authority of Acts of Parliament. It was therefore no correction of an abuse, but it was an improvement in our system of public accounts which the present Bill proposed to effect; the Bill providing that, instead of paying these charges out of the revenue before it was received into the Exchequer, they should become charges on the Consolidated Fund, and, of course, the moneys now applied to pay them would henceforward be paid into the Consolidated Fund in the first instance. One small class of charges, at present frayed out of the revenue before it reached the Exchequer, was not comprised in schedule A, and the Government proposed to leave it in its present condition, and for an obvious reason. The class to which he alluded consisted of a very limited number of pensions, which under various authorities, were paid to the representatives of various families, who inherited them from times comparatively remote. With respect to these pensions, it appeared clear-at least, this had been the view taken by Her Majesty's Government, and he thought it would be approved by the House-that the best course would be to buy them up and so dispose of them. He expected that, if The Chancellor of the Exchequer

to leave these pensions precisely as they were at present, inasmuch as the Government did not look upon them as permanent charges, and it was not worth while to enter upon new arrangements respecting them. The next great description of charge with which this Bill dealt was that of the expenses of the collection of the revenue. The very large outlay of public money under this head-amounting, he believed, to nearly 4,000,000l.-which had heretofore been exempted from the control of the House, would, from the present year forwards, be brought regularly under its control and cognisance. It would be, however, but fair to make two observations on this subject. In the first place, the form of the estimate had been prepared for the present year in the manner that appeared to the Government, upon consideration, to be the best, and he had no doubt that, even if hon. Gentlemen thought it capable of improvement, it would be received with indulgence; but, of course, if it could be improved, either in form or substance, the Government would willingly co-operate in making any improvement upon it that might be devised. In the second place, if it should be found that these estimates de-added materially to the time which was now occupied in Committee of Supply, a serious public inconvenience might arise, and the House would have to consider of some means of meeting it; but he did not at present intend to propose any arrangement with respect to that subject, as it would be better that we should feel our way a little at first. The great practical advantage which he expected would arise from bringing these estimates before the House was, that a new security would thus be afforded for the performance of its duty by the Executive Government. Although he did not think it possible for the House, on ordinary occasions, to enter into minute details; yet the salutary result which he

tical concern, whether they should be discussed in the Votes or laid upon the Consolidated Fund. He considered that he should have been going beyond the limits of his duty in connection with one public department, if he had proposed by this measure to interfere with any great political questions, and, therefore, in the case of charges involving any great political question, or appearing to involve a question of good faith and of public contract, in which vested interests, which might fairly be so called, were concerned, he had left upon the Consolidated Fund whatever he had found upon it. He might also advert, under this head, to charges of the kind of the salaries of Judges. Of course, with respect to the Judges of Westminster Hall, he imagined that no one, considering the important position they occupied as great constitutional officers, would wish to see their salaries brought into the Votes; but with respect to minor Judges, although there were already certain cases in which their salaries were voted by this House, yet he thought the question was not one that ought to be dealt with incidentally, and as a matter merely of fiscal arrangement; and, therefore, as a general rule, he had left upon the Consolidated Fund all the salaries of Judges which he had found there, although he did not propose that certain salaries of Judges which he had not found there should be placed upon

anticipated from voting money for the public service in this particular form was, that it would keep the different departments of the State up to their work. He believed that this was the important result which would be effected by the change he proposed to make, and upon which he begged to congratulate the House, and especially that hon. Gentleman (Mr. Williams) who had so distinguished himself by his patient recommendations in former years upon this subject, when it was less popular than at present. He had now spoken of the various descriptions of charges with which the Government proposed directly to deal; first, the various charges imposed on the revenue by Act of Parliament, which would be carried to the Consolidated Fund; secondly, the expenses of the collection of the revenue, which would be carried to the votes; and thirdly, the pensions, which would remain at present as they were, as he expected shortly to get rid of them altogether. But, as they had been led in the course of this operation to carry certain charges to the Consolidated Fund, they had thought it was their duty, as a part of the operation, to institute, as far as it was in the discretion of the Treasury to institute, a revision of the charges already upon the Consolidated Fund-for it was his strong opinion that there was no matter in which this House had been more apt to be led into laxity in the discharge of its duty than in that of laying upon the it. There were, however, certain classes Consolidated Fund charges which it ought not to bear. The practical consequence of their doing so was, that those charges were placed, in some measure, beyond the control of the Treasury, they were forgot ten by this House, and there was a great deal of neglect and abuse connected with this part of the public service. He had no proposal to make upon that subject at present, but he thought it would not be a bad arrangement if some mode could be devised by which the House could ensure a periodical attention to the state of the charges on the Consolidated Fund. In many cases the question of whether a particular charge ought to be laid on the Consolidated Fund or presented to the House in the Estimates was a political question of great importance. He would refer as instances to two charges -both from Ireland-the charges connected with the Board of Charitable Bequests, and also to those connected with the College of Maynooth-obviously constituting cases with respect to which it was a most important matter, of high poli

of officers who discharged duties that might be called judicial, such as revising barristers, whose salaries it was proposed to take from the Consolidated Fund and place in the Votes. Although the salaries of Judges would be left upon the Consolidated Fund, all the collateral, incidental, subordinate expenses of courts of justice, great and small, they proposed to bring into the Votes-for there was no department in which the control of the Treasury, apart from that of the House, would be weaker and more ineffective than in this. It was, therefore, desirable that the control of the House should be brought to bear upon them. This was the principle upon which the Government had proceeded in the present Bill; they had dealt in the manner that reason and convenience appeared to dictate with respect to those descriptions of charges with which they were obliged to deal; and as the state of the charges upon the Consolidated Fund necessarily came under their review, in so doing they had so far made a revision of those charges

« AnteriorContinua »