[Appendix B(76) 1792 Report of Commissioners of Inquiry]

APPENDIX (B.) N° 76.


OBSERVATIONS on the present System of DUTIES in the Isle of Man, and REGULATIONS proposed relative thereto.


HAVING been directed by the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury to point out what I might conceive to be erroneous in the present System, and to lay before you such Regulations as in my Opinion would tend to protect and improve the Revenues of the Isle of Man, I beg leave to submit to your Consideration the following Remarks :

With regard to the Importation into this Island of such Goods as come by Licence, 30,000 Gallons of Rum is allowed from England, and 10,000 Gallons from Scotland, upon paying a Duty of 2s. per Gallon ; also 40,000 Gallons of British Spirits upon a Duty of 1s. per Gallon:

Very little of the latter, and not the Whole of the former Article is imported, owing, no Doubt, to the considerable Quantities of foreign Brandy and Geneva smuggled into the Island. I would therefore submit, whether a Part of the 40,000 Gallons of British Spirits at present allowed might not be converted into an Allowance of foreign Brandy and foreign Geneva, under similar Restrictions, upon paying a Duty of 2s. 6d. per Gallon on Brandy, and 2s. per Gallon on Geneva.

The Quantity of Tea imported is certainly not equal to the Quantity consumed, consequently some Part must be smuggled ; therefore, in order as much as possible to prevent it, I would propose, that in place of the present Duty of 1s. per Pound on Green, and 6d. per Pound on Bohea Teas, a Duty only of 12½ per Cent. on the Value (being the Drawback in England) should be laid on Importation into the Isle of Mann.

I do not see that any Alteration either of the Duty on Coffee, or of the Quantity allowed, is necessary.

The Quantity of refined Sugar allowed to be imported seems to be sufficient ; but I would propose, that instead of a Duty ad valorem, as is the Case at present, this Article should be charged with a Duty per Cwt., and that instead of being confined to the Port of Liverpool only, the Dealer here should have a Liberty of importing it from any Port in Great Britain.

The present Mode of applying for Licences to the Honourable the Commissioners of the Customs, as directed by Law, does not give the Trader here an equal Advantage with those of Great Britain, who contrive by an early Application for Licences (which their Situation enables them to do) to make a Monopoly of the Articles wanted, particularly of Tobacco : In order to remedy this Hardship, I would propose, that every Person desirous of importing Tobacco, Spirits, or any other Article by Licence, should make an Entry with the proper Officer at the Custom-house of Douglas in this Island, who should transmit a Copy of such Entry to the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs in London or Edinburgh as the Case might be, in order to obtain their Licence for exporting the same to the Isle of Man.

French Wines at present pay a Duty on Importation of 81. per Ton, and all other Wines of 41. per Ton : These I would propose should be raised to 12I. for French Wines, and 61. for all other Wines the Ton.

Vinegar to pay a higher Duty than it does at present, being only 15 per Cent. ad valorem.

With regard to Goods that pay a Duty ad valorem on Importation, it is submitted whether in general it would not tend to the Improvement of His Majesty’s Revenue if such Goods were to pay Duty according to Rate, either by Weight, Measure, or Tale, particularly those that are entitled to any Bounty or Drawback of the Customs or Excise on Exportation from Great Britain ; in which. Case the like Goods, if imported from Ireland, to be subject to the same Duty as from England.

Hops from Great Britain to be allowed the like Drawback as to Ireland, and to pay a Duty on Importation of 1d. per Pound.

Timber and Deals from foreign Parts to pay Duty by Tale and Measure ; Hemp and Iron by the Ton.

The British Legislature, with a View to encourage and improve the Fisheries of this Island, has allowed the Inhabitants to import Salt without Payment of any Duty. This Indulgence, it is obvious, has been abused, as that Article is frequently smuggled from hence into Great Britain. To remedy which, and at the same Time not to hurt the Fishery, I would propose, that in Addition to the present Regulations and Restrictions, every Fishcurer should account for his Salt in the same Manner as in England and Scotland ; and that for the Use of the Inhabitants at large, Salt should be sold by Persons licenced for that Purpose, and by none other, and removeable only by Permit and it might not be improper to inflict some Penalty upon Persons removing Salt in the Night Time, besides Forfeiture of the Salt, Horses, Carriages, &c. ; and indeed all Persons convicted of being aiding or assisting, or in any Way concerned in the Smuggling of Salt, ought to be subjected to Fine and Imprisonment. also so as to prevent Smuggling : I would therefore propose, that an additional Number of Officers of the Customs should be added, and that the Military in the Island should be so stationed as to be ready whenever called upon to come to the Assistance of the Officers.

I have the Honour to be,


Your most obedient, and most humble Servant,


Douglas, 12th October 1791, The Commissioners of Inquiry for the Isle of Man.


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