§ The order of the day being moved for the second reading of this bill,
§ Sir James Hall
rose to oppose it on the ground he had formerly done; viz. that it was a bill which in its principle and tendency was adverse to the agricultural interests of the country, and ought not therefore to be continued, without very sufficient reasons being given for such a measure. He was more particular in this opinion at the present moment, as he understood that by the present bill Ireland was to be exempted from its operation; a measure which he thought was by no means just or fair; for as it was intended as a matter of accommodation and benefit to the West India interests, he thought that both countries ought to bear an equal proportion of the burden on their agricultural concerns.
§ Mr. Hibbert
thought the measure had 375 not had sufficient time given it to produce those bad effects; and, it seemed, in general, not to be opposed by a large class of the community, although they took alarm at it last year. He, however, could not approve of exempting one part of the united kingdom from its operation, and allowing it to continue in the other; and, therefore, he wished to know whether the right hon. gent, opposite had taken up that exemption upon grounds of full information? It appeared perfectly uncertain whether Ireland could be exempted with safely to the revenue. He was informed that the licensed distillers of Ireland would have distilled move from sugar than they had done, if the duties had been the same there as in England and Scotland.
answered, that the consequence found, to arise from the measure applying to Ireland, was, that more grain had been used in that country, in clandestine distilleries, since June last, than had formerly been used in one year. Not one hogshead of sugar had been used; and as the object of the Bill was avowedly for the purpose of consuming that article, therefore it had entirely failed, and Ireland ought to be exempted from its operation. It had been found, too, that it, had materially injured the revenue upon malt in Ireland'. The result, indeed, had been, that the people of Ireland, whose feeling was a contempt of the law, and a disposition not to obey it, had taught the present government that that Bill could not be enforced. When the agriculture of the country was put into one scale, and the consumption of sugar into the other, the probability was, that the farmers of the country would have no disposition to sup-press the clandestine distilleries. It was found, also, that they even exported corn to foreign countries. It was therefore found; improper to put the two countries, Great J Britain and Ireland, upon the same footing. The Irish had never been more happy than last year, in having a very fine and large crop of their favourite at tide of food—potatoes; and therefore less corn had been actually consumed in any other mode than that of distillation.
§ Mr. Eden
recapitulated the arguments he had used against the measure last year. Great Britain had been for a considerable time dependent upon her foreign connexions for a supply of food, and therefore when that was cut off, it was impossible but there should be a great rise in the price of provisions. The import was not 376 only entirely stopped, but there had been of late great demands' from our colonies, and our military expeditions had operated as drains upon our usual sources of supply. The house was now called upon to seek a remedy against a scarcity, the necessity of which was severely felt and acknowledged; and while he admitted the expediency of the measure, he could not but regret that ministers had actually themselves shut the door against the supply of the granaries, by their conduct towards America; for, in his opinion, the American Embargo was the work of the present ministers. In 1807, the value of the corn, grain, and flour, imported from the United States, amounted to 900,000l. It was in their power, in the month of August last, to have removed that obstacle, but, instead of doing so, they had been busily employed in building castles in Spain, in order, as they vainly imagined, to defeat the intentions of Buonaparté in that country. They did not seem at all to advert that the quartern leaf was now fifteen-pence! He wished for a return of moderation in our councils, in order that the channels of importation might be opened to prevent scarcity, and of exportation, or general trade, to relieve more effectually the West india planters.
thought the measure had not been fairly tried in Ireland. It ought to be inquired into what were the causes of its failure in Ireland. He understood that the Irish distillers complained of the mode of collecting the duties which were imposed; not upon the extent of their stills, but upon the number of gallons of their wash; from which the same number of gallons of spirits could not be produced, as in England. To exempt Ireland from the operation of the Bill, would be encouraging an improper degree of exportation of corn from this country. In every point of view he thought Ireland ought to be included.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
argued in favour of the exemption of Ireland, as the bill bad been found not to operate there to advantage, either in regard to the revenue, or to the relief of the West India planters.
§ Mr. Barham
was of opinion that Ireland should not he excluded from the effects of the bill. He called the attention of the house to the great amount of revenue which the empire would lose by not extending the measure to that country. He cautioned the Chancellor of the Exche- 377 quer for Ireland from holding out that the acts of that house could not be enforced in that country. Without wishing to say any thing that could be offensive to that gentleman, he must recollect that he prophesied last session, that the measure would fail or should fail: if should was not the word made use of by the right hon. gent., it sounded as near it as any word he had ever heard; and he that night had avowed he prophesied right. It appeared to him that the right hon gent. was determined it should be so; for last session ho put a spoke in the wheel, which prevented the machine from working, by introducing a clause, making the duty on spirits distilled from sugar in Ireland, nearly double what had been paid on spirits distilled from grain. He did not see why Ireland should be screened more than any other part of the empire, and particularly it should not on account of the reason assigned, that the pertinacity of the people would not allow it to be carried into effect. He recommended it to the right hon. gent, to make a proper inquiry before he again asserted that the people of Ireland had rebelled, or set their face against any measure enacted by that house.
in explanation, observed, that every person who knew him must be convinced (hat he was not capable of being guilty of the charge alledged by the hen. gent.; but this much he must say, that any person that made such a charge against him; would be capable of committing it himself.
§ Mr. Barham,
in explanation, said, it had not been his wish to wound the feelings of the right lion. gent, by the allusions he made, and he prefaced them by an explanation of that nature; but the language the right hon. gent, thought fit to make use of in his explanation, he assured him, if he had made use of in any other place than in that house, he would return it the answer it deserved. He always considered every thing that passed in that house not cognizable cut of it; he would, therefore, take no further notice of it.
§ Mr. D. Giddy
said, he never could acquiesce in or encourage the distillation from sugar, when it tended to destroy the agriculture of the country.
§ The bill was then read a second time.