Front Page Titles (by Subject) MR. CURWEN'S MOTION RESPECTING THE DUTIES ON TALLOW AND CANDLES 20 March 1822 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence
MR. CURWEN’S MOTION RESPECTING THE DUTIES ON TALLOW AND CANDLES 20 March 1822 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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MR. CURWEN’S MOTION RESPECTING THE DUTIES ON TALLOW AND CANDLES
20 March 1822
Mr. Curwen moved for a committee to take into consideration the propriety of augmenting the duty on imported tallow and of repealing the duty on candles. Mr. Robinson (President of the Board of Trade) opposed the motion; ‘he could not agree to a proposal which could only benefit agriculture by throwing a burthen on the whole body of consumers, or by impeding the trade of the country.’ Besides, ‘the just complaint of foreigners, was, that the trade of this country was so restricted, that all their ingenuity was required to get an article into this country on profitable terms; and now that one article was found on which they could get a profit, the state was to step in and take it in the shape of a tax. If this was to be our rule of commercial policy, we might as well shut up shop at once.’
Mr. Ricardo said, he had heard with great pleasure the principles avowed by the president of the board of trade, and hoped the right hon. gentleman would hereafter act upon them; for if they had hitherto been followed up, the right hon. gentleman could never have proposed the duties upon cheese and butter [Hear!!.] The hon. mover was a great friend to agriculture, and was ready to go a great way in support of it. The length to which he had gone that night was really surprising, for he had told them exactly the quantity of tallow produced in this country, the quantity produced abroad, and the effect which the tax operating on this quantity would have upon the price, which he told them was precisely 5l. 10s., the rest of the proposed tax being to be paid by the foreign producer. How the hon. gentleman got at this result was surprising. He believed the fact would turn out to be very different; that the producers in all foreign countries furnished their articles on the average, at the price at which they could afford them; and that a tax now imposed, would on the average of future years, be added to the price. He could not consent to tax the whole community for the benefit of one class. As he anticipated that his hon. friend’s motion would meet with the fate it deserved, he should not detain the House longer, but to observe on a remark of the hon. member for Hull. The hon. member for Hull had said, that he was a friend to a surplus revenue beyond expenditure, but that he was an enemy to a sinking fund. Now to what purpose was a surplus revenue applicable but as a sinking fund? The hon. member had said, that he found from the experience of history, that a sinking fund was always seized by the ministers. He (Mr. R.) agreed with him, and it was on this account that he objected to the proposal to maintain a surplus revenue. In principle nothing could be better than a sinking fund. He was so great a friend to the principle, that he was ready to consent that the country should make a great effort to get out of debt; but then he would be sure that the means taken would effect the object. He would not trust any ministers, no matter who they were, with a surplus revenue, and he should therefore, join in any vote for a remission of taxes that might be proposed, so long as a surplus revenue remained. The taxes on candles and on salt had been proposed for reduction, but though that on salt was undoubtedly very burthensome, it did not appear to him to be that which most demanded reduction. The taxes on law proceedings seemed to him the most abominable that existed in the country, by subjecting the poor man, and the man of middling fortune, who applied for justice, to the most ruinous expence [hear!]. Every gentleman had his favourite plan for repealing a particular tax, and this tax upon justice, was that which he should most desire to see reduced.
The motion was negatived.