HC Deb 27 April 1814 vol 27 cc559-62

On the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the House resolved itself into a committee on Sugar Drawbacks; with orders that the duties on sugar, coffee, and other articles exported from Martinique, Guadaloupe, Marigalante, and other West India islands, should be considered by the committee.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed, that since the House had taken this subject into consideration, circumstances had occurred, which rendered it necessary that the matter should again be brought under consideration of parliament. By a treaty concluded with Denmark, the valuable island of St. Croix was to be restored to that kingdom. On the whole it appeared, that it would be inconvenient to continue the duties for some time to come, as they were at present settled. The export duty was such, that little benefit was derived from the drawback. He would therefore propose, that if no circumstances should happen to render any alteration necessary, drawbacks on ex- portation should cease after the 23d of May. And as a means of preventing the bad effect of any sudden shock being sustained in the market, he would propose that the present duties should continue for a limited time, until, a permanent system could be arranged and adopted. In the arrangement which he was now about to propose, there was only one class who, from all that he could learn, were likely to be sufferers by it; and that was those export merchants who had purchased large quantities of refined sugars, under the conception that the export duty would be continued as it stood. For the protection of this class of merchants, be would propose that the new measure should not take effect on refined sugars until the 25th of August. With respect to raw sugar, a similar proviso was unnecessary, as it could not be bonded for exportation. The right hon. gentleman expressed his willingness at that, or any future time, to give any explanation on the subject which might be required, and concluded with a motion for substituting a new schedule for that annexed to the Act of the 45th of the King.

Mr. Whitbread

, from the mention, of St. Croix, and the allusion to the probable surrender of other colonies, took occasion to ask, whether the surrender of Guadaloupe was confirmed by the convention which had been that day announced to the House; and also to express a hope, that, after the gratifying intelligence which we had received of the magnanimous achievements, and the still more magnanimous equity, of the allies, it was not intended to compel Norway to submit to the government of. Sweden; at least that this country would take no part in the use of force for such an unjust purpose; but above all, that we should not join in the abominable system of starving Norway into submission?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

replied, that no mention whatever was made of Guadaloupe in the convention referred to by the hon. gentleman.

Mr. Alderman Atkins

objected to the undue preference which the proposition before the committee would give to those whose sugars were bonded.

Mr. Rose

observed, that the preference alluded to was granted by the existing law.

Mr. Whitbread

thought proper to put another question or two; namely, whether it was intended to cede Guadaloupe § to Sweden; and also, whether it was resolved to force the Norwegians to submit to the Swedish government; but still more, he begged to repeat the question, whether our cruisers had been ordered to intercept the supply of provisions to Norway? To this latter question, which the right hon. gentleman had on a previous question declined to answer, he should expect that the right hon. gentleman would either give no answer, or some answer that should be distinct and intelligible.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that he had already given all the answer in his power with respect to Guadaloupe; and that the case of Norway was to be considered in the general arrangement.

Mr. Whitbread

expressed his happiness to hear that the fate of Norway was still open to discussion; but yet the right hon. gentleman had given no answer with respect to the alleged order to intercept the supply of provisions to Norway.

Mr. W. Smith

professed himself peculiarly glad to learn that the case of Norway was still open to discussion; and he hoped that the Norwegians would not be excluded from the exercise of that right which legitimately belonged to all nations; namely, the choice of their own government. Indeed, after the French had been allowed to assert that right, which, as a friend to general justice, he trusted they would be always able to maintain, should the Norwegians be compelled to submit to Sweden, the whole affair would be reduced to a question of strength; and it would appear that the French were allowed to exercise a right because they were strong, from which right the Norwegians were excluded because they were weak. But he hoped and trusted, that should the Norwegians be so unjustly treated—should the allies be capable of acting so inconsistently, the British parliament, and that House in particular, would never consent to sanction the deed.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

conceived, that as long as the case of Norway remained, as be had stated, open for discussion, a desirable arrangement was not likely to be promoted by any discussion in that House.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

admitted that it would be proper on the part of the right hon. gentleman to decline answering any question relative to points which were the subject of a pending diplomatic discussion. But a question had been put with regard to a matter of fact; namely, whether an order had been issued to prevent the Norwegians from being supplied with provisions; to which question the right hon. gentleman had returned no answer; and he (Mr. W.) was not surprised to find that a strong feeling had been excited by this alleged order. On the contrary, he should have been extremely surprised if such a feeling had not been manifested, and if the fate of Norway had not exited a lively interest in this country; for there was a striking analogy between the case of Spain and that of Norway. In both cases, the sovereign surrendered the government to a foreign state; and in both cases the people resisted; thus asserting their own legitimate rights, and demonstrating that the people were not to be scheduled away by the mere acts of the sovereign.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer's

proposition was agreed to; the House resumed, and the Report was ordered to be received to-morrow.

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