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ascertained by acceding to the motion, for the appointment of a select committee. In such a committee it would be seen, whether the plan proposed would or would not be prejudicial to the revenue. By the present regulations all the inhabitants of large towns, all the manufacturing and agricultural labourers, were obliged to pay a higher price for beer than the richer classes of the community. It was not just to continue such a burthen on them, when it was probable that a transfer of the duty from the beer to the malt would not injure the revenue, while it would relieve those great classes of the population. It was said that the existing regulation secured a more wholesome beverage. Why not leave that security to the taste and palate of the consumer, and to the competition of a free trade? It was upon that very pretext that all those regulations which fettered a free trade, and to the continuance of which the right hon. gentleman had, with so much credit and sincerity, opposed himself, were vindicated. The lawgiver was gratuitously interposing, and setting himself up as a better judge of the goodness of an article of consumption than the manufacturer or the consumer. He deprecated all such interference, and should give his full support to the motion.

Mr. Hume contended, that the estimate of 280,000l. for the expense of the excise interference was correct, and was not impugned by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As that was the amount of the charge, the saving by the proposed arrangement would be equivalent. He trusted that a committee would be appointed, and that it would direct its views to a considerable reduction of the duties on malt, convinced as he was, that the effect of such reduction would be no diminution of revenue, a great increase of comfort to the labouring classes, and much relief to the agricultural interest. Since 1792, though the population of the country had increased a third, there had been no addition in the consumption of malt. The amount of duties on that necessary article could alone have produced such a result. As to the necessity of increasing the number of excise officers, in the event of his hon. friend's plan being carried into effect, he denied that it rested upon any fair grounds. The very history of the malt duties showed the fallacy of the argument; for when the war tax was added, there was no increase, nor when

it was taken away was there any diminution.

Mr. Benett, of Wilts, could not give his support to the motion in its present shape. He would vote for the appointment of a select committee to inquire generally into the subject of the duties on beer and malt. He hailed with considerable satisfaction the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that as soon as the revenue afforded the means, he would relieve the country from the beer duties. No greater benefit could be conferred on the people. It would afford extensive relief; and would not relieve one class at the expense of another.

Sir J. Newport said, that by returns which he held in his hand, it appeared that from 1752 to 1808 the consumption of beer in Ireland had increased from 59,000 to 426,000 barrels annually. During that period nearly the whole of the beer had been imported from England. In 1809, a different system had been adopted. The brewer was left free from restriction, and the consequence was, that the number of barrels imported fell to 38,000; the revenue was doubled in the article of malt, the consumption was greatly increased, and it was of home production instead of foreign importation. No illustration could be more complete than this of the expediency of taking off all restrictions from trade.

Colonel Wood opposed the motion, because the good which it proposed in reducing the price of beer was insignificant, while the evil to the farmer would be considerable. The great consumption of beer during the harvest rendered it an important article in the expenses of an agriculturist, and to impose an additional tax on malt would be to increase his burthens, already too heavy.

Mr. Wodehouse deprecated the proposed alteration in the beer duties, at a moment when such extensive regulations were about to be introduced into the distillery laws. He proceeded to compare the consumption of malt in the year 1791, 1792, and 1793, with that in the years 1821, 1822, and 1823, and insisted that it was greater at the former than the latter period. He could not support the motion.

Mr. Western thought a reduction of the duties on beer and malt necessary. He would, however, have it made on the aggregate revenue thence derived; it ought not to be done by taking a tax off one arti cle and placing it on another. It would be

preferable to reduce the duty on beer. I zans should be obliged to pay 40s. and The measure proposed would deprive the upwards per quarter, while a very small poor of the comforts they possessed and much richer portion of the commuat home, and drive them to the public-nity paid only 20s. He considered that houses. He should therefore oppose it. much good would be derived from the inquiry.

Mr. Byng expressed his dissent from the motion, on the ground that no description of persons would be benefitted by it, while the agriculturists would be in a worse situation if it were adopted. Mr. Ricardo thought, that his hon. friend, the mover, had shown the tax on beer to be unequal, and that one class was exempted from it, while another was obliged to pay. He had shown, also, that the diminution in the expense of collecting this tax would assist the revenue. hon. member regretted that this had been made a question between the agricultural and other classes; but, even if it were true that the tax had an unequal operation, in this respect also the sooner it was equalized the better. If the duty paid ought to attach on all persons consuming beer, it ought to attach equally. The motion should have his hearty support, because it went to accomplish that object.


The House divided: Ayes, 27. Noes, 119.
List of the Minority.

Bennet, hon. G.

Bernal, R.
Craddock, col.
Crompton, S.
Denman, T.
Fergusson, sir R.
Folkestone, visc.
Grattan, J.
Hobhouse, J. C.
Hutchinson, hon. H.
Leader, W,
Maberly, J.
Martin, J.
Newport, sir J.
Philips, G. jun.

Ricardo, D.
Rice, T. S.
Robarts, A.

Robarts, col.
Robinson, sir G.
Sykes, S.
Wigram, W.
Whitbread, S. C.
Williams, J.
Williams, W.
Wood, alderman.
Whitmore, W. W.


Maberly, J.
Hume, J.

After the division, Mr. F. Palmer moved for leave to bring in a bill to enable the public brewer to retail beer in smaller quantities than four gallons and a half, pro

vided the same be not consumed on the

Lord Althorp said, that the wish so premises of the brewer.-The Chancellor often expressed by honourable members of the Exchequer said, that there was no to encourage private brewing, would be necessity for such a bill inasmuch as the defeated by this measure, if it should be law had already provided for its objects.carried. He had always maintained that Mr. Monck thought nothing could be the landed interest paid an undue propor-more fair or wise than the principle tion of taxes. If, therefore, an opportu- of his hon. friend's proposition.- Mr. nity offered of lightening in some degree Herries thought that some misunderstandthe weight which oppressed them, he ing existed on the other side on this subthought it was very fair to do so. When ject. The brewer, under the present the House looked to the amount of poor-law, might take out two licences namely, rates paid by the farmer, he hoped it would the public brewer's common licence and think he was entitled to some considera- the retail licence-a circumstance which tion on the present occasion. obviated the difficulty complained of.—Mr. Benett, of Wilts, supported the motion.Mr. F. Palmer said, his only object was, to give the brewer the opportunity of becoming either a wholesale or a retail dealer. [Cries of Question]. Seeing the disposition of the House, however, he would withdraw his motion.

Mr. Alderman Wood supported the motion, by which he thought the revenue would be much benefitted.

Mr. Monck said, that before the malt-tax was imposed, the poor shopkeeper or farmer paid 20s.; now, however, he paid 36s. He repeated his conviction, that the malt duty was neither more nor less than a land tax, and remarked upon its great inequality as affecting the rich least, and the poor most-an inequality which had existed ever since the 8th and 9th of William and Mary, and must have been designed as a compensation to the landed interest for their compliances with the views of the government of the day. He should support the motion.

Mr. Grey Bennet saw no reason why 1,200,000 beer-drinking families of arti

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low rate of wages; and the remedy which they proposed for this was, that the House should fix a minimum on the rate of wages. They complained also of certain improve ments in Machinery, the effect of which had been to reduce the quantity of employment of those who wove by hand, and which threatened to leave a large population without any means whatever of support. He perceived that the petitioners ascribed their difficulties, in part, to a hard and oppressive conduct adopted by their employers, and he was sorry to see that opinions so erroneous and so injurious to their own interests prevailed amongst the workmen. He was sensible that the petition generally, as it respected fixing by law a rate of wages, and as it complained of improvements in machinery, was but little calculated to obtain a favourable reception in the House; and he wished it to be understood, that he was not the advocate of the views of the petitioners on these subjects: but he considered their prayer to be worthy of an attentive consideration, because it proceeded from men in a state of great calamity, which extended not alone to those who had signed that petition, but to a large and important population, throughout the seats of the cotton manufacture. Whatever he thought of some of the opinions of the petitioners, he was convinced of this, that when they complained of the means of subsistence being taken from them, in consequence of improvements of machinery, and applied to the House for compensation, they raised a question of great extent and difficulty, and which was not to be met by the common assertion, denied by no man, nor denied by the petitioners, that all such improvements were beneficial to the wealth and interests of the community at large.

Mr. Philips said, that after all the inquiry he had made with respect to the condition of the weavers of Lancashire at the present moment, he was inclined to think that they had greatly exaggerated the statement of their distresses. The cotton-spinners' wages were, it was true, very low; but the price of provisions was so extremely moderate, that they could live comfortably on those wages. That was undoubtedly the case when he was last in Lancashire; and the fact was proved by the reduction of the poor-rates, as well as by the reduced number of applications for private charity. With respect to machinery, he would now re-assert what he had formerly stated; namely,

that where machinery was used the wages were the highest. Where cotton machinery was introduced, the comforts and wages of the artisan were improved. They were paid more for managing machinery, than for the mere labour of their own hands. He would contend, that no means were so effectual for the benefit of the manufacturing class, as the introduction of machinery; and if parliament were foolish enough to comply with the prayer of those who wished to discourage machinery, they would inflict the greatest possible injury on the public, and especially on the petitioners themselves. If a minimum of wages were established, so far from the weavers being relieved by such a project, they would at one time of the year have no employment at all. The most prudent course would be, to leave the trade perfectly unshackled, and open to the arrangements of the parties immediately concerned those who employ labour, and those whose labour was so em. ployed [Hear, hear!]. In his opinion, the sale and purchase of labour ought to be as unrestrained as the sale and purchase of any other commodity.


Mr. Curwen was convinced, that if a minimum of wages were established, it would produce great mischief. Four or five years ago, when several petitions similar to the present were laid before the House, a committee was appointed to consider of them. Delegates from the operative manufacturers, and other individuals conversant with the subject, were then exainined; and he believed not one person attended who did not go away perfectly satisfied that such a system would be most mischievous. Amongst the members of the committee, there was not the slightest difference of opinion.

Mr. Grey Bennet said, a very useful publication on the subject of machinery, written by Mr. Cobbett, had been extensively circulated throughout the manufacturing counties, and would, he hoped, effect a change of opinion no less extensive. Those who had not read that work ought to read it; because there was no publication, which, for a rational and practical view of the subject, could be compared with it. He had learned more from it than from any publication of the kind he had ever read.

Sir I. Coffin said, that if the use of machinery were abolished, two-thirds of the manufacturers of this country would be reduced to starvation.

Mr. Ricardo said, his proposition was, not that the use of machinery was prejudicial to persons employed in one particular manufacture, but to the working classes generally. It was the means of throwing additional labour into the market, and thus the demand for labour, generally, was diminished.

Mr. Maxwell presented a petition of a similar nature from certain inhabitants of Middlesex. He observed, that if wages were higher, the working-classes would be able to consume a greater quantity of produce of every kind; and they must all acknowledge, that to devise a mode by which the consumption of produce would be extended, was a great desideratum. Ordered to lie on the table.

Mr. Ricardo said, that much infórmation might, undoubtedly, be derived from Mr. Cobbett's publication, because that writer explained the use of machinery in such a way as to render the subject perfectly clear. He was not, however, alto gether satisfied with the reasoning contained in that pamphlet; because it was evident, that the extensive use of machinery, by throwing a large portion of labour into the market, while, on the other hand, there might not be a corresponding increase of demand for it, must, in some degree, operate prejudicially to the working classes. But still he would not tolerate any law to prevent the use of machinery. The question was, if they gave up a system which enabled them to undersell in the foreign market, would other nations refrain from pursuing it? Certainly not. They were therefore bound, for their own interest, to continue it. Gentlemen ought, however, to inculcate this truth on the minds of the working classes-that the value of labour, like the value of other things, depended on the relative proportion of supply and demand. If the supply of labour were greater than could be employed, then the people must be miserable. But the people had the remedy in their own hands. A little forethought, a little prudence (which probably they would exert, if they were not made such machines of by the poor-laws), a little of that caution which the better educated felt it necessary to use, would enable them to improve their situation.

IRISH TITHES COMPOSITION BILL.] Mr. Goulburn moved the order of the day, for going into a committee to consider further of this bill. On the question being put," That the Speaker do now leave the chair,"

Sir J. Nicholl observed, that considering who were the framers of the present measure, he could not view it as an attack upon Tithes in the character of church property; more especially as the Composition was proposed to be applied to all tithes, and it was well known that a large portion of them, particularly in Ireland, belonged to laymen. At the same time, he must remark, that great caution was to be used in interfering with the rights of property of any description. Doctrines extremely alarming were set afloat in the world. An equitable ad

Mr. Maxwell differed from those who were of opinion that a low rate of wages was serviceable to a country. The re-justment of all contracts was to be proverse he conceived to be the fact; because, from the circumstance of low wages, a great degree of crime and discontent were engendered; and when that was the case, great expense must be incurred in the prosecution and punishment of offenders. He trusted that the right hon. gentleman at the head of the Board of Trade would pay some attention to this petition. The population of the country, whether agricultural or manufacturing, should, he thought, be protected as much as possible from the effects of machinery; since it was that population by whom the taxes were paid.

posed. Principles in regard to church property had been stated, directly asserting that it belonged to the public, and was disposeable for the use of the state. Such assertions could only be considered as tending to measures of manifest spoliation and plunder. But a fair composition or commutation for tithes, did not necessarily bear that character. Plans of that sort had been proposed at different periods by some enlightened statesmen. Yet it should be recollected, that those plans, however specious at the outset, had always proved abortive, and difficulties of detail had always presented themselves Mr. Philips instanced the fact, that the which were found to be insurmountable. wages of the artisan were more liberal-After these experiments had been rewhere machinery was used than where it peatedly tried, and considering that the was not used, as a proof that its introduc-evils from the tithe system in this part of tion was not hurtful to the weaver. the United Kingdom, were not of a mag

principles, and assuming that evils'existed in Ireland to justify an attempt to model and modify a remedy, but repeating his protest against the expediency of such a measure for England, he should not oppose the Speaker's leaving the Chair.

The House having resolved itself into the committee,

Mr. Goulburn said, he was anxious to remove any doubts which might have arisen in the minds of his right hon. friend, as to any intention existing of extending the operations of this bill to England. He could assure his right hon. friend, that no such intention had ever been entertained by any one. He would, however, put an end to the possibility of such a fear ex

nitude sufficiently great to warrant the introduction of a measure tending to very alarming consequences, he should have thought that a plan of the sort now proposed, if to be applied to England, would have been highly objectionable at the very outset. But the case might be different as respected Ireland. In that part of the United Kingdom, evils so great might exist, as to justify an attempt to frame a measure for substituting a composition in lieu of the payment of the tithes in kind. The expediency, how ever, of the attempt, would depend on the magnitude and extent of the evils existing in Ireland. He protested, therefore, and the principal object of his rising was to protest against any inference, that be-isting any longer; for he would now procause the progress of the present measure, as respected Ireland, was acquiesced in, a similar measure would be expedient for England. The circumstances of these two parts of the United Kingdom were widely different. They stood in this respect rather in contrast than parallel to each other-and he regretted that this contrast and the special circumstances in respect to Ireland, had not been more strongly marked and more distinctly stated in the preamble of the bill. He hoped that the preamble would be amended in the committee.

Objections to the measure had been started. He would not then discuss, or form a decided opinion upon them. He would only observe, that the objections on one side and the evils on the other, ought to be fairly considered and balanced. There were, however, two principles indispensably necessary to be strictly adhered to and secured. The first was, that the substitute for the tithes in kind should be a fair and just compensation, and so adjusted as to be beneficial to both parties, the tithe-owner and the tithe-payer. This should be carefully guarded, even if the composition were to be purely voluntary; since it should be recollected, that the present owner of the tithes was to bind his successor, who would be no party to the contract.-The other principle was, that the substitute should be made to keep pace with the times in reference to the changes that might take place in the prices of commodities, and the relative value of money. These two principles should be strictly attended to, and were indispensable.

Giving credit, then, to the framers of the bill, for intending to pursue these

pose that the preamble to the bill should be postponed; and before the House was called on again to consider it, he would propose such an alteration in that part of the bill, as should completely guard the tithe system of this country from being affected by the measure now under consideration, should it be adopted by the House.

The preamble to the bill was then postponed. On the clause which provided that the rector, vicar, or other incumbent, shall return a list of persons having paid. tithe to such an amount as will entitle them to vote in vestry,

Mr. Calcraft objected to the clause, which, he contended, would throw the whole power of appointing the vestry into the hands of the incumbent, who would, no doubt, be careful to return in his list no individual who was hostile to his own interests, or over whom he had not in some way a control. He was himself favourable to the principle of this bill. He considered it calculated to do much good in Ireland; but he feared that as at present constructed, the machinery was too complicated for it ever to work with effect.

Mr. Goulburn said, that the mischiefs. which the hon. gentleman seemed to apprehend as likely to arise from too much influence being given to the clergyman were guarded against by the subsequent clause, by which any individual who considered his name as improperly omitted in the list returned by the clergyman, might, on application to a magistrate, have it inserted, and become eligible to be appointed a vestry-man, having previouslyqualified himself, by complying with the other provisions of the bill.

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