HC Deb 01 May 1812 vol 22 cc1135-6
Mr. Wilberforce

presented a Petition from the merchants, ship owners, and other inhabitants of Bridlington, in the East Riding of the county of York; setting forth,

"That the approaching expiration of the East India Company's charter having occupied the attention of the House, the petitioners beg leave respectfully to state their hopes and wishes on that important subject; and that the petitioners are fully persuaded that if the trade to the British dominions in India, and to the immense and populous countries included in the charter, were laid open to the skill, industry and capital of private merchants, it would be conducted with a degree of energy and economy which a large public body is incapable of exercising; new channels of commerce would be discovered, the consumption of our manufactures extended, and our shipping increased, to the advantage of the parties concerned, and the permanent augmentation of the wealth, power and resources of the British empire; and that the extensive and flourishing commerce of the United Slates of America with India and the Chinese empire exhibits a proof that these expectations of advantage, from the exertions of private individuals, are not unfounded; and that the petitioners beg leave respectfully to represent, that any partial modification of the trade would, in their opinion, fall extremely short of those advantages which would accrue from the total abolition of the existing monopoly; and they do therefore humbly and earnestly deprecate any continuation of the Company's exclusive privilege to the commerce with China; they conceive that the British character forbids the injurious suspicion that their intercourse with the Chinese would be disturbed by a conduct deficient in discretion or propriety, whilst the Americans and other nations have maintained a similar intercourse without interruption-; they also think that no greater necessity for a monopoly exists with a view to secure the duties on tea than those on sugar, rum, or any other highly taxed article of importation; and they trust that no reason can be found, either in justice or policy, for the exclusion of the out ports from the benefit of the trade with India; and the petitioners also hope, that the House will not impose any restraint on the British merchant respecting the burthen of any vessel to be employed in the trade, but leave the choice to his own judgment and discretion; and that the commercial distresses which the petitioners have, in common with the rest of the kingdom, experienced from the enormous power and influence of the enemy on the continent of Europe, furnish abundant reasons for applying to the House, with earnestness and with confidence, for the purpose of opening new channels of intercourse with those distant regions, where the success of his Majesty's arms, by sea and by land, has established British dominion on a permanent basis, and has secured British commerce against all danger of hostile interference; and praying the House to adopt such measures, as to their wisdom shall seem meet, for granting to all his Majesty's subjects, from and after the expiration of the East India Company's charter, a free trade to and from India and its dependencies, and to and from the empire of China."