on presenting a petition from the woollen cloth manufacturers of Keswick, took occasion to remark upon the state of their trade, observing, that the petitioners deprecated the intention, which they understood existed, of continuing what were called the protecting duties upon Irish linen.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
was averse to protecting duties, and would oppose their imposition, if they were now about to be laid on; but he thought that the manufactures of Ireland ought to meet with encouragement as well as those of England. He wished his right hon. friend would state what course it was his intention to adopt, for that would serve to remove from the minds of the manufacturers in Ireland that suspense, which was highly unfavourable to them.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that the subject was at present undergoing a special inquiry; but he had no hesitation to state, that it was not in his contemplation to propose the immediate repeal of the duties alluded to. Those duties had existed since the Union 803 for the advantage of the Irish manufacturers, and it was proposed to continue them for some years longer, upon a principle of gradation, in order to afford the parties immediately interested an opportunity of preparing for their total repeal.
§ Mr. W. Parnell
thought a system of protecting duties inconsistent with the sound principles of political economy, as hey could only be meant to force a manufacture. The duties alluded to had, however, existed in Ireland for 20 years, and if that period were not sufficient to afford the Irish manufacturers an opportunity of preparing for their repeal, what assurance was there that their further continuance, or that any proposed principle if gradual reduction, would have the effect which the right hon. gentleman professed to have in view?
§ Mr. Ricardo
observed, that it seemed to be admitted on all sides, that these protecting duties ought to be repealed. They had existed for 20 years, which surely was a period quite long enough to give the Irish manufacturers an opportunity of preparing for their repeal, if any such opportunity were necessary; and he really could see no reason for their further continuance.
said, that the proposition of a gradual repeal of these duties was deemed necessary, to afford time to the parties immediately interested, to prepare for their ultimate and complete repeal, which it was in the contemplation of his majesty's ministers to propose.
expressed his concurrence in sentiment with the hon. member for Portarlington, as to the principle of protecting duties; and if the duties under consideration were now for the first time proposed, he apprehended that few would be found to support the proposition. But from local knowledge, as well as from general information, he was enabled to say, that the immediate repeal of those duties would be productive of the worst effects in Ireland. It was therefore wise on the part of ministers to determine upon some further continuance of that degree of protection to the trade of Ireland which these duties afforded, as that trade was known to stand so much in need of encouragement. It was very desirable that those engaged in this trade in Ireland, should not be kept much longer in suspense as to the intention of the chancellor of the exchequer; for as the duties alluded to were not long to continue ac- 804 cording to the existing law, the parties interested felt it difficult to decide what course to pursue.
§ Ordered to lie on the table.