Letter – Martin Morrison to Thomas Richard Beaumont – 5 Feb 1813

Document Type: Letter
Date: 5 Feb 1813
Correspondent: Martin Morrison
Recipient: Thomas Richard Beaumont
Archive Source: NRO 672 E 1E 6
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Col Beaumont MP			N[ew]Castle 5th Feby 1813

Portman Square London

Dear Sir

      I am honoured with your letter of the 1 Inst. & am much gratified by the information it affords of your Naval Officer, who I hope, by the time the <French> possess another Navy, will be an Admiral and serve them, if occasion offers, the second <part> of Trafalgar. – I am also happy to hear Mrs Beaumont is so delightfully employed in preparing for Miss Beaumonts presentation to Court on the Birth-day.

      I beg to transmit (in this & another Cover) for your information a copy of the intended representation to Governm[en]t for obtaining a diminution on the export of Piglead, & hope, as you are so greatly interested in the success of the measure, that it will be aided by your influence. The representation, Mr Hall transmitted to me, & it is an important object, not less so to the Merchant, than to the Miner, that Government should comply with the request, & recommend to Parliament to reduce the Tax to the original imposition of £1 p[er]Ton. I am however not sanguine of success. – The additional Tax was a measure of Mr Pitts & carried in opposition to the united influence of the Mining interest, who held meetings, Memorialized Treasury & represented their situation to Members of both Houses of Parliament; the representation therefore is incorrect as you will perceive by the passage underlined with pencil, and which of course will be amended, or omitted, when laid before

Ministers: - the urgent calls Government are under for Money, the opening of the Baltic & perhaps of the Continent will be opposing reasons for not abandoning at this period one of the means for raising the supplies, and if the Tax is ever reduced, it will be in more affluent times, and by proofs more convincing, than what are urged in this Representation. – The application at this time, to Treasury, is not the less diminished by these considerations – it may be remembered hereafter, & if the Tax should never be reduced, Government may in justice to the British Miner, be induced to purchase the exemption on Scotch Lead, & equalize by the duty, the Lead exported from The united Kingdom – I am etc	MM

The increased and increasing price of Labour in this Country and the rise of every Article required for the Working of its Leadmines, falls so heavily on all engaged in that pursuit, as to render it necessary for the undersigned, who have expended a large Capital in the Counties of York Durham and Northumberland, to lay their own case, and that of Lead Owners in general before Government. – Previous to the year 1784, when the Duty on the export of Lead was only £1 p[er]Ton, the exportation amounted annually to nearly 20.000 Tons – Additional duties were then successively laid on by Mr Pitt, amounting with the original £1 to £3-10- But as every thing during that period was very moderate, and as it was not possible for Foreigners to produce Lead at a cheaper Rate than £20 or £21 p[er]Ton, the price at which the Lead Owner could then afford it, no opposition was made to the increase, and no inconvenience for sometime was sustained – In consequence however of augmented Taxes, and of the rise of Labour, Lead by degrees has come to cost the Owner so dear, that it is no

longer in his power to pay these duties, and to meet the Foreign Miner on equal  terms abroad – The Export has so much declined, that it hardly at present amounts to more than 5,000 Tons p[er]Annum, including all that is sent to our own Settlements; and altho[ugh] this reduction would have taken place to a considerable extent, whether the additional duties had existed or not, it is certain, that even if at present the Markets of the Continent and of America were reopened, the French, Spanish, German, and American Lead Owners can afford their Lead at so low a rate, and the prosecution of their Mines has been so much stimulated by the want of the usual supply from England, that very little benefit would result to this Country from that event, if the present Duties on exportation were to continue –

The undersigned therefore venture to propose to Government the reduction of the Duty to £1 p[er]Ton, the original amount before the additions were imposed by Mr Pitt, and they are inclined to believe, that the exportation would in consequence be so much augmented, even during the War, that the difference in the receipt would be made up in some degree by the increase of quantity, independantly of the  indirect <revenue> which an additional produce of Lead and employment of

Labour would occasion. One fact may be adduced – the East India Company, whose exportation was once between 3 and 4,000 Tons in the Year, now find themselves unable to obtain a price in China sufficient to repay even the present reduced price in this Country with the Duty, and their Export of this Season has not exceeded 1,000 Tons, altho[ugh] Lead, which sold for £21 twenty five years ago, was offered to them at £21-15- -, an increase of price very disproportionate to the increased expence of its production, which during that period has nearly doubled. – In proposing this diminution to government, it is hardly necessary to call their attention to the great value of Mining pursuits to the Nation, nor to the propriety of their receiving encouragement. – The Lead Owners themselves have given ample proof, that they are not disposed to claim that attention on light grounds. The increased Duties were imposed, not merely without any representation on their parts, but even with their approbation, as they believed at that time, perhaps too hastily, that no Country could enter into Competition with England in supplying the World with Lead, and that it was good policy to make Foreigners pay a Tax to the State for what they could not procure elsewhere. The alteration in the value of Labour now <focus> different views upon them, and different language; and they trust Government will feel with them, that it is no longer <political> to continue a Duty on the Export of Native Labour, when the article is already so enhanced in value, that it rather requires a Bounty to enable it to contend with Foreigners on equal terms. Other Countries are not inattentive to this great source of National Wealth. – It is needless to detail the encouragement given to such pursuits by the French Government, or what may one day be done in Spain, should the activity of her Inhabitants become proportionate to the Riches of her Mines, or the heavy Duties on the Importation of English Lead, by which the Infant establishments of America are annually protected. But the undersigned must state, that a large Exportation is necessary to the prosperity of the Lead trade of this Kingdom, and that the continuance of the present Duties will inevitably have that effect, of directing the Industry of other Nations to the better Working of their own Mines, a measure which it is evidently the policy of this Country to retard, rather than to accelerate. – These Duties are a Bounty to the Foreign Miner on the Lead which he produces, and an incitement to his efforts which it would be wise to take away. – The only consideration indeed, which can at all weigh with Government against the various good effects of this measure, is the extent to which the Revenue may be injured by its adoption, but on this point, the

Undersigned beg leave to observe, that the increase of the Duties upon Lead has so much contributed to reduce their produce, as to render the proposed alteration of little Financial importance. The Duty on the export of Lead did not amount last year to much above £18,000 exclusive of the Convoy Duties. If Government were to reduce it to £1, the whole reduction would be only about £13.000 a Sum for which it is not worth hazarding the prosperity of the Lead Mines of the Country, and which the restoration of the Export to its former extent would more than explain. Supposing however, that one half of every Sum paid for Labour reaches Government by indirect Taxation, and that the expense of making a Ton of Lead is £22 - - a Supposition, taking the average throughout the Kingdom, probably not far from the truth, the Exportation, and consequently the production of every additional thousand Tons of Lead procured by this reduction, will yield to the State an indirect Revenue of £11000 - - There is another consideration which is perhaps not unworthy of Notice. – The Lead raised in Scotland is Duty Free, and it was several years ago the intention of Government, as the present Chancellor of the Exchequer will probably remember, to purchase the Scotch exemption, and to place all the subjects of the Country, as if possible they ought to be, on an equal footing. –Altho[ugh] this has not yet been affected, and Government were for some time inclined to think, that the exemption in Scotland did not extend to the Duties imposed by Mr Pitt, The Undersigned are persuaded, that the propriety of the measure is too apparent for it to be abandoned, and should it be necessary to purchase the exemption, it will cost the Country much less, if what the Scotch Proprietor saves by it is only £1 p[er]Ton, than if it were £3-10- On these grounds they venture to submit their proposal for a reduction of the Duty upon Lead to His Majesty’s Ministers. They will only shortly add, that there is perhaps no branch of National Industry that better deserves the fostering care of Government. It is wholly the produce of Native Labour, It tends to breed a strong and active Race of Men for the service of their Country, It affords the means of payment for a part of those articles, which in Peaces as well as War must indispensibly be purchased from Abroad, and the Undersigned feel persuaded, that the advantage of making such payments in the produce of our own Soil, rather than by farther exhausting supplies of Bullion already so inadequate to the demand, will powerfully recommend the measure to the favour of Government.

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467