HC Deb 20 May 1847 vol 92 cc1100-3

Customs Acts read.


rose to move, that the House resolve itself into Committee on the Customs Acts, for the purpose of assimilating the warehousing privileges on colonial and British spirits. He considered that the British distillers ought to possess the same privileges which were extended to the producers of colonial spirits; that they should be only required, when spirits were taken out of bond, to pay duty on the quantity actually taken out. The West India Board, in their last report, had strongly recommended the adoption of such a regulation; and he thought the subject was one which deserved the serious consideration of that House and of the Government. The only objections he could anticipate to his proposition were, that it would afford facilities for fraud, and reduce the revenue. With reference to defrauding the revenue, he begged to remind the House, that while there were 178 distillers in Scotland, there had been only 67 informations lodged within the last few years; while in Ireland, where there were 97 distillers, no informations had been lodged. Let them contrast this state of things with England, where there were few distillers and many informations. This regulation only affected the manufacturers of spirits, and therefore he was entitled to either one protection or the other; and he believed that distillers generally, if they were left untrammelled, would rather distil from wet corn than from sugar. On the other hand, they would be glad if they had the opportunity to distil from barley; and, consequently, if that were allowed, there would be a much larger quantity exported. It was generally believed, that there were about 6,000,000 gallons of spirits consumed in the United Kingdom, and as the whole amount of the spirits distilled was 9,000,000 gallons, there were 3,000,000 to be accounted for; and it was known that upwards of 2,000,000 were taken by the English and Scotch distillers, in order to keep them out of the export market, so that, allowing only 3d. a gallon for the loss, the English people were taxed to the extent of 100,000l. per annum. He was, therefore, anxious, he must confess, to ascertain what reason the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to allege for any opposition to the measure. Whatever the articles were—rum, brandy, or gin—the same evil was liable to occur to the consumer of spirits; and he should therefore conclude by asking leave to bring in the Bill.


observed, that the hon. Gentleman had not shown any ground on which the distillers could claim the advantage he wished to extend to them. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would like to know whether, if the proposal of the hon. Member for Dartmouth were acceded to, the Irish and Scotch distillers would be prepared to give up the differential duty which was now maintained in their favour? He certainly should have thought that, in the present state of the revenue, hon. Gentlemen would have abstained from making propositions which it was admitted would materially affect the public income; and although the hon. Member for Dartmouth had stated that, if his proposal were adopted, the revenue would not eventually suffer, there could be no doubt that, in the first instance at least, it would lead to a considerable diminution of receipts. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had been in communication with the Excise authorities on this subject, and they entertained no doubt that a large decrease of revenue would be the result of carrying out the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. He was, therefore, not prepared to assent to the proposal of the hon. Member for Dartmouth; and he did not think the distillers had shown any ground on which they could claim to be placed in a more favourable position than that in which they at present stood.


considered it was only right and just that all traders in spirits should be put upon the same footing. He could not understand why they should allow rum coming from Jamaica to be bonded, while rum distilled in Scotland or Ireland was not allowed to be bonded. He could not conceive why this anomalous regulation was permitted to exist, even although some advantage in differential duties had been given to the Scotch and Irish distilleries in consequence of their being deprived of the privilege of bonding. He believed, that if the spirits of Scotland and Ireland were allowed to be bonded in this country, instead of there being only five or six dealers in those spirits, there would be 200 or 300.


supported the Motion. He thought the experience of fifty years proved that the revenue would not lose from the extension of the system of warehousing in bond; and he believed, that a very considerable amount of capital would be let loose by the adoption of the proposal made by the hon. Member for Dartmouth. The whole distilling trade of England was at present engrossed by some seven or eight firms; and the effect of this monopoly was, that they were enabled to regulate the retail prices. The Scotch and Irish distillers were practically excluded from coming into competition with the English dealers, for the former had to pay a duty of 200 or 300 per cent on importing their spirits into this country; and, if they were unable to effect sales within twenty-one days after importation, they were subjected to a further duty of 200 or 300 per cent.


observed, that the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not satisfactory to him; and he did not think it would be satisfactory to the country; and he therefore felt it his duty to press his Motion to a division.

The House divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 56: Majority 5.

List of the AYES.
Baillie, Col. Houldsworth, T.
Baillie, H. J. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Baillie, W. Jones, Capt.
Baine, W. Lockhart, A. E.
Barkly, H. Lockhart, W.
Bennet, P. Mackenzie, W. F.
Bentinck, Lord G. Macnamara, Major
Blackstone, W. S. M'Carthy, A.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Manners, Lord J.
Browne, R. D. Marton, G.
Buck, L. W. Molesworth, Sir W.
Crawford, W. S. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Dennistoun, J. O'Connell, M. J.
Divett, E. Palmer, R.
Drummond, H. H. Pattison, J.
Duncan, G. Rashleigh, W.
Duncombe, T. Ross, D. R.
Ewart, W. Sandon, Visct.
Feilden, Sir W. Sheppard, T.
Forbes, W. Trelawny, J. S.
Fuller, A. E. Turner, E.
Gordon, A. Wakley, T.
Hallyburton, Ld. J. F. G. Watson, W. H.
Halsey, T. P. Williams, W.
Hamilton, Lord C. TELLERS.
Hodgson, R. Hume, J.
Hope, Sir J. Moffatt, M.
List of the NOES.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Goring, C.
Barrington, Visct. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Bowles, Adm. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Bramston, T. W. Hamilton, W. J.
Brotherton, J. Hodgson, F.
Buller, E. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Carew, W. H. P. Hussey, T.
Cripps, W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Davies, D. A. S. Jervis, Sir J.
Denison, W. J. Lemon, Sir C.
Denison, J. E. Loch, J.
Dodd, G. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Duncombe, hon. A. Mitcalfe, H.
Dundas, Sir D. Monahan, J. H.
Escott, B. Morris, D.
Forster, M. Mundy, E. M.
Gardner, J. D. O'Brien, A. S.
Gaskell, J. M. Ogle, S. C. H.
Gladstone, Capt. Pakington, Sir J.
Patten, J. W. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Powell, Col. Tancred, H. W.
Richards, R. Thornely, T.
Russell, Lord J. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Rutherfurd, A. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Scrope, G. P. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Wrightson, W. B.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Somerset, Lord G. TELLERS.
Sotheron, T. H. S. Berkeley, hon. C.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Parker, J.
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