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THE LONDON COAL-DUTIES.
The Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed last session to inquire into the operation of the laws under which the London Coal- duties are levied, the mode of collection, and the purposes to which the revenue thus obtained has been applied, after sitting from the middle of February to the 12th of August, resolved that the evidence should be printed, and the inquiry adjourned till next session. The principal wit- nesses examined were—Mr. Tyrrell, the City Remembrancer, Mr. Scott, Chief Clerk to the City Chamberlain, Mr. T. R. Scott, Clerk and Regis- trar of the Coal Market, Mr. Nicholas Wood, a Durham coal-proprietor, and Mr. Dickinson, paper-manufacturer, Hertford, who pays 8000/. a year for coals, and is consequently much interested in the subject of inquiry. The City Remembrancer gives a good deal of evidence as to the various acts of Parliament under which the Corporation claims the right of levy- I ing the three distinct duties of 4d., 8d., and Id. upon every ton of coals consumed within twenty miles of the Post-office; rind the Clerk to the City Chamberlain furnishes ample information as to "the incalculable amount of good" which has been effected by applying the coal-duties to building bridges and opening streets in the Metropolis. On the other hand, Mr. Nicholas Wood shows how much injury has been inflicted by the heavy tax, and how prejudicially it has operated upon the consump- tion of coal in London and the neighbourhood, and especially upon low- ! priced coal, the tax falling so much heavier upon that quality. Mr. Dick- inson, whose consumption of coal at his paper-mills in Hertfordshire is so large, has made himself thoroughly acquainted with the history of the tax ; indeed, he seems to be more intimately conversant with that branch of the question than even the City Itemembrancer, or perhaps his sense of wrong renders him more eloquent on the subject. He goes back to the origin of the tax in the reign of James the First, when the first charter was granted entitling the Corporation to levy a duty of fourpence per clialdron for measuring all coals brought into the city of London "upon the water of the Thames " ; and proceeds to show how the duty was in- creased, for various temporary purposes, and how the increased duties were again and again continued by various acts of Parliament, until that which was temporary has become a permanent tax. From his evidence we learn, that the first attempt of the Corporation to claim the payment of duties on inland coal was made in 1793, when the Grand Junction Canal Act was before Parliament ; and that the power then acquired has been continued by clauses inserted in every railway bill having its ter- minus in London. Mr. Dickinson, who thinks it gross injustice to tax him and other parties living at a distance from London for City improve- ments, merely asks for the abolition of the duty on coals consumed in the country. Mr. Wood, although a coal-proprietor, says nothing about the injustice of the impost, but he points out the impolicy of continuing a tax which amounts to about 20 or 30 per cent on coal for manufacturing purposes.
Among the returns presented to the Committee, the most interesting are those showing the income which the Corporation has derived from the tax on coals during the last twenty years, and the improvements which have been effected by means of the large funds thus acquired. In 1833, the net income derived from sea-borne and inland coal was 101,5144 8s. 21d. Since that date it has nearly doubled, the amount for 1862 having been 185,5484 10s. 9d. ; about one-eighth of which sum is derived from the tax on inland coal. From the mode in which the accounts are presented, it is not easy to say what proportion of this large sum has 'been spent on public works and street improvements, but it is evident that a very large amount has been expended on other objects. 'Since 1831, when the coal- meters were deprived of their office in consequence of a change in the levying of the duties, the sum of 261,7824 has been paid in the shape of pensions to the men who were then turned off. This burden is decreasing, howeVer, although at a rather slow rate. At that the annual sum paid
to these pensioners was 23,000L; it is now under 7000/. a year.. In' , tion to that payment, the Corporation has agreed to eontribute 14,54)04 a year towards certain improvements beyond the City's limits—au kind of compensation, we suppose for the tax levied on the inhabitants Of the extra-metropolitan circle. For improvements within the City, including the large sum required for making the new street from St. Paul's Church- yard to King William Street, at the foot of London Bridge, the Corpora- tion has borrowed 300,0001. at 4 per cent, 200,000/. at 31 per cent, and 40,000/. at 3.11.. per cent ; the whole of which forms a charge mi. the coal- tax.
None of the witnesses say anything about the injustice of levying a tax for public improvements in such a shape as to make it fall with un- due harshness upon the poor. Next session that peint wilt probably be brought under the notice of the Committee. Sir Joshua Walinaley pro- posed several resolutions condemnatory of the tax on inland coal, as ad- verse to the principles of free trade, and declaring the complaints of the inhabitants of Hertfordshire and the surrounding districts with reference to the recent extension of the duty on coals brought by railway to be well founded and demanding prompt remedy. The Committee discussed the resolutions ; but, instead of coming to any decision regarding them, they instructed the chairman, Sir John Shelley, to prepare a report. That instruction was given on the 31st of May, and no other meeting took place till the 12th of August, when it was resolved that the inquiry should be proceeded with in the next session of Parliament. Should the present dearth of coals continue, public attention will be rather more excited on the subject than it has been hitherto.
ANOTHER REDUCTION OF THE SUGAR-DUTIES.
From the Jamaica papers lately received we learn that the Sugar- duties are likely to come once more into discussion in the course of next session, with a view to another alteration, should the inquiry now making prove satisfactory. A circular letter from Sir Charles Grey was addressed to various planters in Jamaica some months ago, for the purpose of ascertaining their opinions with respect to the policy of abolishing the discriminating duties upon the different kinds of sugar. The inquiry appears to have originated with Sir Henry Darkly; who, at the end of last year, addressed a long despatch to the Duke of Newcastle, explana- tory of the measures which had been taken by the sugar-growers of De- merara, under his government, for improving the quality of the produce. Sir Henry says-
" Apparatus for carrying the manufacture of sugar to a higher stage were likewise adopted here earlier than in any Tropical country, the vacuum-pan having been put up on several estates twenty years ago; and though the diminished means and credit of the planters, and still more the discrimina- tion according to quality enacted by the laws regulating the duties in Britain, have tended to discourage its extended use, both the plan for boiling in vacuo, and Geddesden's for boiling at a lower temperature than the ordi- nary, are spreading ; the former being already practised on twenty-two plantations, and pans in course of erection on three others ; the latter bebag already on trial on three, whilst within my own knowledge either one or other improvement is contemplated by the proprietors of eight other estates. Were the grades of discriminating duty abandoned in regard to augers equal to white clayed and refined, and one rate charged upon sugar without refer- ence to its fineness, I have no doubt that the vacuum-pan would become universal on such estates as make five hundred hogsheads and upwards, and Geddesden's pans, combined with centrifugals, (or possibly the new appara- tus of Rillieux if found to answer, in an experiment about to be made here, as well as it is said to do in the "United States,) as requiring less outlay of capital, on the smaller estates."
One may infer from all this that the march of improvement in the manufacture of cane sugar is proceeding at a greatly accelerated pace; a fact which the Irish Beet Sugar Company ought to keep steadily in view, in their calculations as to future prices of the West India commodity. One result of the improvements mentioned by Sir Henry Barkly is, that the planters obtain a larger quantity of superior sugar from a given quan- tity of cane-juice than they do of the inferior quality ; and what is of no leas value, they save the large percentage—above a tenth on an average —now lost by the drainage of their muscovado sugar on the voyage to this country. The bad effect of the high duty on refined sugars is forcibly pointed out by the late Governor of Demerara-
" The discouragement which the existing arrangement of duties offers to an improved system of manufacture will be best conceived from the follow- ing facts : first, the process of 'spoiling' sugar—when it seems better than would be likely to pass the lowest standard—is not of 'infrequent occurrence on estates where the vacuum-pan is used; second, that a gentleman in charge of an estate, on which vast expense has been incurred for steam clarifiers, bag and charcoal-filters vacuum-pans, and pneumatic pumps assured use that for a further trifling outlay of about 1001. he could, were it not for the quasi prohibitive duty, ship the whole of his crop (1000 tons) of a quality equal to refined sugar, though made, bonfi fide, by a single process from the raw material."
In the face of these difficulties, it is gratifying to learn that the intro- duction of the improved apparatus is making rapid progress in Guiana,— that colony which was to have been totally abandoned many years ago, in consequence of its alleged inability to compete with Barbadoes and Antigua. In 1851, the quantity of sugar mode on estates having im- proved apparatus was 7178 hogsheads,—upwards of one-seventh of the whole produce of the colony ; in 1852, 10,380 hogsheads, and in 1853, 13,000 to 14,000 hogsheads, were expected. This is as large a proportion of refined sugar to the total quantity manufactured as the returns from the United States give, although no duties at all are levied there, and in spite of the pains taken by Government to promote improvement by pre- miums and scientific inquiries. As regards the intention of Ministers, the Jamaica papers infer that it is favourable to the suggested alteration. In proof ot this, they quote the following passage from a letter of Mr. Tennent to Mr. Merivale re- garding Sir Henry Barkly's suggestion-
" In the present instance, any Lords are disposed to allow considerable weight to the arguments adduced by the Governor of Guiana ; and they would observe that the application of ad valorem duties to sugar appears to be, in many respects, less appropriate than to several other articles in regard to which it has been found necessary to abandon them. To impose a dis- criminating duty upon distinct kinds of a given produce, such as the pro- duce of vineyards varying in richness, different qualities a tea or tobacoo, would appear to be a legitimate application of ad valorem duties ; but to strike with a superior duty one pound of sugar which by a better mode of manufacture contains more saccharine matter than another pouridebteiped from the same raw nutterml, as to infis4iMpoct,d4e.ouregf.mlpt,„up- provement." 5 , .—NS7E—IEFTIOard of-Tnide begins to talk in this manner on a question ot Ss!' ocli importance, 110 one can have much difficulty in predicting what iirse Government will take. The people of Barbadoes seem con- vinced of this ; for they are already making preparations to meet the coming change. In that island, a joint-stock company with a capital of 40,0001. Ls said to have been formed, on a plan which must succeed if well managed. The company proposes to purchase canes from the smaller planters and carry on the process of sugar-making on a large scale, with all the new improvements. By this separation of the agricul- tural from the manufacturing process, a great saving of cost will be ef- fected to all parties. The cultivator will be able to devote his skill and capital entirely to the production of sugar-canes, and such other articles OS may be most profitable ; while the sugar-makers, unencumbered with the charge of it plantation, and having abundance of capital, may be ex- pected to extract a larger quantity of refined sugar from a given weight of canes than has ever yet been obtained. In Jamaica, the most important of all our West India possessions—not many years ago it supplied more than one-fourth of all the sugar imported into Great Britain from all parts of the world—the proposed change does not meet with much approvaL In speaking of Sir Henry Barkly's despatch to the Duke of Newcastle, they ascribe his advocacy of the as- sirailation of duties to his strong bias in favour of Guiana, which would derive more advantage from it than any other colony. In Jamaica, as they allege, hardly any refined sugar is made; and therefore the re- duction of the duties from 13s. 4d. and 118. 8d. to 108. per hundred- weight would expose the planters of that island to very severe com- petition. But, as the Kingston Morning Journal remarks, "Government has hitherto evinced no repugnance to the application of the screw or pressure to compel improvement "; and, bearing this in mind, it deems it highly probable that "before long Mr. Barkly's suggestion will be acted upon by the British Government' Of course the change will be painful at first; but the best mode of diminishing the evil will be for the planters to prepare for it beforehand, instead of letting it take them by surprise. What should hinder them from adopting the same sensible course as the Barbadians are doing ?
Iinticrous Insmucrnis rig PRISONS.—With a view to show the in- justice of the Legislature in its treatment of Roman Catholics, Mr. Lucas, last session, moved for a return of the number of prisoners of each religi- ous denomination, the names of the clergymen or other religious instruct- ors appointed or officiating in each prison, with the amount of salary or other allowance. The only part of the return which has yet appeared is the part relating to England ; but from it alone the Member for Meath will have no difficulty in obtaining ample evidence in support of his charge against Parliament. From a summary of the number of prisoners of each religious denomination on the 25th September 1852, it appears that, out of 24626 altogether, no fewer than 16,077 were of the Church of Eng- land. Of Roman Catholics there were 2955, nearly one-seventh of the whole; of Dissenters, 1391; of Presbyterians, 496; of Jews, 45; and 1 Mussuiman. The remaining 661 were apparently of no religious denomi- nation, The salaries paid to Church-of-England chaplains vary from Si. per annum, the amount received by the ministers attending the prisoners in Richmond Gaol and Romney Marsh Gaol, to 500/., which the chaplain of Newgate receives. For the larger prisons throughout the country the salary is generally from 2001. to 300/. For the Westminster House of Correction there is one chaplain at 400/., and an assistant at 200/. Min- isters of other denominations visit prisoners of their own persuasion when requested; but no salaries are paid, although the number of Roman Ca- tholics in that prison was 302, while those belonging to the Church of England, for whose religious instruction 600/. per annum is paid, were-412,—only about one-fourth more than the Roman Catholics, for whose religious instruction nothing is allowed. In Lancashire, 17001. is paid out of the county and borough rates to clergymen of the Church of England for the religious instruction of the prisoners in that county, of whom considerably more than one-third are Roman Catholics ; and yet nothing is paid to the Roman Catholic priests who visit those of their own persuasion. The only instances in which anything is paid for the religious instruction of Roman Catholic prisoners are three. At Milbank Prison, a priest receives 50/. per annum. At Dartmoor, a priest is allowed one guinea for each visit to the prisoners: the sum thus paid in the year ending 25th September 1852 amounted to 46/. 4s. At Portland, a priest occasionally visits the prison for which be receives 108. a visit. In each of these cases, the salary is defrayed out of funds provided by Parliament. In Falmouth Borough Gaol, where there were only six prisoners on the 25th September, the curate of the parish and ministers of other religious denominations attend gratuitously ; and the same economical plan is.pur- sued at Penzance Borough Gaol. These appear to be the only prisons in which nothing is paid for the religious instruction of prisoners.
DECREASE OF CRIME IN Tan Akuir.—From a report on Military Pri- sons for 1852, we are glad to see that, while the Army has increased in numbers within the last few years, the result of improved modes of dis- cipline is strikingly visible in the decrease of crime. In the nine mili- tary prisons in the United Kingdom the total number of prisoners ad- mitted. in 1847 was 3850 ; in 1852, '3313. The average number of pri- soners, in proportion to the force, was 1-00 per cent in 1847; in 18,52, it had fallen to 0-74. The decrease has been chiefly in the number of de- serters, which has fallen from 1481 in 1847 to 745 in 1852 ; another proof of the improving character and condition of British soldiers. In thg two kindred offences of drunkenness and absence without leave there has been a very great increase. The proportion which these crimes bore tothe whole in. 1847 was 40 per cent ; last year it had risen to 57 per cent. The increase of drunkenness was confined to Ireland and Scot- land; the -percentage of committals for that crime having fallen consider- ably in England. As regards the religion and country of the various prisoners, the classification shows that Scotland and Presbyterianism do not stand so high for morality as they did at one time.
,i is 31
i Iud t ,-, ' ' ; r'
England Scotland —... ....... .........
Ratunos Protestant Presbyterian Boman c Catholi In VW.
2089 ... ..... ....
1390 In IBC. 2313 330 1207
. This increase of Scotch Presbyterian offenders, and the increased pro-
In less. 1737 476 1100 In 1832. 1977 391 945
- Portion of drunkenness in Scotland, bear some relation to each other, no doubt; but as the total number of prisoners in Ireland has diminished, while She cases of drunkenness have increased, it is evident that the same rule will not hold good there. Tan Commits' Sramm—Five thousand "colliers" in Lancashire are said to have struck work for higher wages, and at South Shields the mi- ners seem disposed to take the same course. There is no class of working men among whom strikes have been more common lately than coal-miners, and the cause is said to be their want of education. Mr. Tremenheere whose evidence respecting that class of the population has been so much referred to, has recently made a second report on the application of the principle of the education clauses of the Print-works Act to the mining districts, which contains, as might be expected, much interesting informa- tion and many valuable suggestions. In speaking of the loss inflicted on the community in consequence of the ignorance and dissipation of the mi- ners, he says- " "In one section of the mining districts of Lancashire, employing in col- lieries about 5600 men, in very many of the pits the men are idle every Mon- day, and nearly all the rest every alternate Monday. In the first ease one- sixth, in the latter one-twelfth of their labour, is lost to themselves and to their employers. With [loss of] wages at 4s. Per week, this would give an average loss to the whole of upwards of 40,000/. per annum. But the loss of profits to their employers must be at least as muchmore, arising from loss of their sales and loss of interest on floating and fixed capital. There would therefore, at a very moderate computation, be a loss to capitalist and labourer, in that small district alone, of upwards of 89,0001. a year; the whole of which ! might have been saved to both. This was occurring at a time when there was a great demand for coaL If the restriction of labour under these cir- cumstances in any one district had in view the limiting the supply and thereby raising the price, it must obviously fail, now that the facilities of communication by railroads enable the supplies to be brought from so many different quarters. It inevitably, produces also another consequence ulti- mately injurious to the labourer, by causing more men to be brought into the trade to supply the quantity of coal required when the demand is great. When the demand slackens, this extra number of men remains, and adds to the competition for employment, at the very time when there is less to be had, and when wages are falling. By restricting, therefore, their labour in good times, those who adopt this policy lose the opportunity of benefiting by the general prosperity, while they prepare the way for making their con- dition worse in times of depression." At a short distance from, this ill-conditioned district, Mr. Tremenheere found a very different class of colliers and miners, about 3500 in number, all employed by one company, which does not tolerate any unnecessary interruption in the shape of "idle Mondays." The men make no objec- tion to this regular course of work, and the best feeling is said to exist between them and their employers. In speaking of the cause of this satisfactory state of things, Mr. Tremenheere makes a remark to which we would call the especial attention of all employers of labour— "It may have been at the cost occasionally of some forbearance in regard to lowering wages in bad times, fully compensated for by an abstinence of the men from vexatious demands and cessations from work in good times ; also at the cost of perhaps 2000/. or 3000/. in churches and schools, &c., and some few hundreds a year toward. their support ; a mere trifle in comparison with the enormous losses which arise under the different relations between employers and employed, above described."