expressed his surprize, that when a deviation so great from the general colonial system was proposed, none of his majesty's ministers had thought proper to communicate to the house any reason for such deviation; he considered the price of sugars would be equally affected, whether those from Martinique were admitted only for exportation or for home consumption also: the not allowing the inhabitants of that island the privileges of other British colonies, might create, disaffection, and was contrary to the spirit of the proclamation of our commanders.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
defended the measure, and contended, that the restrictions proposed on the Martinique trade would be beneficial to our own colonies, and was not aware that any proclamation had been issued, of which this regulation would be an infringement. He professed his readiness to discuss the measure on a future day, and only wished at present for leave to bring in the bill.
§ Mr. Jacob
remarked, that the proprietors of West India Estates had always shewn a great degree of tenacity to maintain a monopoly of the supply of the British Islands, and that it did not appear their produce would be much affected, whatever regulations might be adopted with respect to Martinique; but as they entertained a prejudice on the one hand, and the inhabitants of Martinique on the other, it was the business of the house to legislate impartially between them. He felt it impossible not to lament the situation of our own colonies, the property of which was depreciated in a most ruinous degree. It would be no small alleviation to them if the importation of French brandies were prohibited: this would increase the consumption of rum, its natural substitute, and the production of our own colonies. Brandy was by no means a necessary of life, and by allowing its consumption we were benefiting the enemy. He gave government credit for their determination to prohibit its importation, but their views were in a great measure frustrated by the licences now outstanding circulated in different parts of Europe, and of which a shameful traffic was made.
, in the present stage of the business, was willing to wave the discussion of Martinique sugars, but denied any assurance being given to the inhabitants that the island should in all respects be in the same situation as other British colonies. He asserted that no licences for the importation of French brandies had been granted for the last six or eight months, except in circumstances of peculiar hardship, when the brandies had been paid for by British subjects; and that even under those circumstances, none had been either granted or renewed lately, nor would they in future.
§ Mr. Horner
contended, that the sale of licences had been carried to a great extent, and was an evil that much required correction: he did not altogether disapprove of making a distinction between Martinique and our other colonies, but it was of importance to ascertain whether any promises to the contrary had been held out by our commanders.
coincided in opinion with Mr. Marryatt and Mr. Jacob in respect to placing the sugars of Martinique on the same footing as those from our own islands, and condemned the abuse which existed in respect to licences. He regretted that at a time when it was thought necessary 260 for government to interfere so much in affairs of commerce, the Board of Trade was filled by noble lords and learned lords, and not by men of practical commercial habits.
§ Leave was given to bring in the bill.