HC Deb 25 February 1813 vol 24 cc739-41
Mr. Robinson

moved the third reading of this Bill.

Mr. Grenfell

rose to oppose it. He stated that the object of the Bill was to prevent the Americans, our enemies, from obtaining certain very important naval stores, composed of copper, and that if this object could be obtained by this Bill, or by any other measure that could be proposed, nothing would induce him to be so forgetful of his public duty as to oppose it; but it was because he believed in his conscience, and from his practical knowledge and experience on this subject, that the Bill would wholly fail in accomplishing its professed and only object, and do nothing more than ruin a valuable branch of our export trade, that he felt it his public duty to resist it. In order to judge whether his view, or that of the proposers of the Bill was correct, two points only required to be adverted to: first, whether the Americans can provide themselves with the raw material, of which the naval stores are composed? And secondly, whether they have the means, of converting that raw material into the articles proposed to be prohibited. Upon the first point he would not trouble the House, it being admitted even by the proposers of the Bill, that the Americans can obtain any quantities of the raw material from South America, Mexico, and other countries. And upon the second point, he could now assure the House, that he had within the last few days received positive information that two mills for rolling and manufacturing copper had lately been erected in America, and were now in full work upon that very article of which it was contended that this Bill would deprive the Americans. Of what use, then, could such a Bill be, but to take away all chance from the British manufacturers of meeting the American manufacturers in the American market—and, what was more important, forcing our allies in the Brazils, and other parts of America, to look to America instead of Great Britain for their supplies of those articles. Woeful experience of what had happened in France from a measure of the same kind adopted by ministers more than thirty years ago, as a hostile measure against France, fortified his opinion as to the probable effect of the present Bill with reference to America. With a view of depriving the French in those days of these very same articles, the exportation of them from England was prohibited. What followed? No inconvenience or annoyance was suffered by the French; but they instantly erected machinery for manufacturing copper near Rouen, supplied themselves with all they required for their navy—other mills had since been established in that country, and the export of copper to France from this country was lost for ever. Was it unreasonable to say, that the same cause would produce a similar effect with regard to America? He therefore opposed the Bill upon every principle of public duty, and from an anxiety to protect the copper mines and manufactories of England from being thus unnecessarily exposed to irretrievable loss. He still hoped ministers would give up the Bill: if not, he should at least have the consolation of reflecting, that he had done all in his power to prevent the mischief it was calculated to inflict upon this country.

Mr. Robinson

supported the Bill upon the grounds of its always having been the practice during war to prohibit the exportation of these articles.

Mr. Baring

argued against the Bill, and stated that no answer whatever had been given to the facts and arguments of his hon. friend.

Mr. Protheroe

also opposed the Bill, stating that it was well known that iron mills for rolling iron had long been in use in America, and that those mills could be easily applied to the rolling of copper.

Mr. Rose

supported the Bill: but upon the suggestion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Robinson agreed to put off the third reading for a week, in order that the subject might receive further consideration of the Board of Trade.