HC Deb 01 April 1822 vol 6 cc1414-30

The House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole House on the Colonial Trade Acts,

Mr. Robinson

rose and said:* * From the original edition printed for Hatchard and Son. Mr. Brogden; before I proceed to submit to the Committee the proposition with which I shall conclude, I am anxious to state that I am not about to propose any thing, in the present stage of the business, which can pledge any individual as to the ultimate course which he may think it right to pursue. The forms of the House requite that all questions relating to commerce should be first opened in a committee; and I shall do nothing more, at present, than move that the chairman be directed to ask for leave to bring in two bills for regulating the trade of the colonies. But, although the question, in its present shape, is to be considered as merely technical and formal, I feel it, nevertheless, to be my duty to submit to the committee a full explanation of the nature of the proposed bills. I fear that in doing so, I may be under the necesssity of troubling the committee at greater length than it may be agreeable to them to listen to me: but, considering the great importance of the subject, as affecting the interests of our commerce and our navigation, it is most material that, before I state the alterations of the law which I wish to recommend, I should endeavour distinctly to explain the nature, the extent, and the effects of the law as it now exists. I am the more anxious to do this, because I am well aware that any one who proposes to alter in any degree, that which is understood to be the ancient policy of our navigation laws, is considered as touching that which is too sacred to be meddled with, and which cannot be so touched without risking the best interests and the security of the state. I trust, however, that I shall be able to show, even to the most timid and jealous supporters of our former colonial policy, that if we attentively consider the present state of the laws upon this subject, the change which I am about to recommend (however it may depart from the more ancient policy and practice of the law) involves a much less material departure from its actual condition, than many gentlemen may at first sight be disposed to imagine.

The original principle of the navigation law, as it applied to our colonies, restricted them to a direct trade with the mother country, compelling them to concentrate their produce here, and to derive their supplies from hence. But in most of its essential particulars, this principle has been entirely abandoned in respect to many, and greatly modified in respect to the remainder of our foreign possessions. If we look to the dominions of England in the Eastern Hemisphere, we shall find, that however wise or beneficial the restrictive system may have been in its original adoption (and I by no means question either its abstract wisdom, or its practical utility at that period of our history), it has, nevertheless, in that quarter of the world, been entirely and systematically abandoned. The trade of Ceylon, of the Mauritius, of the Cape of Good Hope, is at this moment comparatively free: the trade of the East India Company's territories has never been shackled by the peculiar restrictions of the Navigation laws, and in our own days has received great additional freedom and extension: we have not deemed it prudent, or even practicable to apply to possessions of such vast extent, such a dense population, such abundant resources, such facilities for active commerce, and such means of circulating and promoting wealth, a principle of systematic restraint.—And who will say that the interests of either of commerce or of navigation have suffered; or rather who will deny that they have materially benefited by the freedom which they have thus enjoyed?

But even if we look to the Western Hemisphere to which the present question more immediately applies, and if we examine the laws which now regulate its commerce, even there the committee will perceive that the rigid application of our ancient colonial policy is no longer in existence. The relaxation may have been the result of accident and circumstances, rather than of design; but it is sufficient for my argument to show that the change has actually taken place. So far from our West Indian and North American colonies being hermetically sealed against foreign commerce, there is scarcely one which has not a free port open by the act of 1805, and various subsequent laws, to the importation of foreign produce in foreign ships:—The articles which may be thus imported, comprise almost all the productions of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, calculated for the markets of this this country, as well as various other articles, the produce of the United States, most essential to the successful cultivation of our colonial soils, and the comfortable maintenance of our colonial population. Foreign vessels are allowed, on the other hand, to export from the same free ports not only various productions of our colo- nies, but almost every species of manufacture which the ingenuity of our native artisans can supply for foreign consumption.

But there is another branch of the colonial trade, to which it is peculiarly important to advert—I mean that with the United States.

Previous to the independence of that extensive country, the sugar colonies in the West Indies found there a beneficial market for their own produce, and a ready means of supply for their immediate wants; the lumber, the corn, the flour of North America was exchangeable for the sugar, the rum, the molasses, the coffee of the West Indies; and when the independence of the United States put an end to that intercourse, and brought the rigid principle of the colonial system into operation, parliament soon found the necessity of its relaxation, and accordingly, in the year 1788, an act was passed, which renewed this intercourse as a measure of indispensable necessity. It is true, indeed, that it was restricted to British shipping; but even in that respect one qualification was admitted, inasmuch as American vessels were allowed to come in ballast to Turk's Island, for the purpose of taking salt, which was the staple commodity of that island. The war which ensued a few years afterwards, led by degrees to a more extensive freedom of intercourse. The wants of the colonies were at times of so pressing a nature, that the governors were induced, by absolute necessity, to take upon themselves the responsibility of issuing proclamations to authorise the admission of American as well as British vessels into this intercourse: and so satisfied was parliament of the urgency of the case, and the propriety of the relaxation, that acts of indemnity were constantly passed as matters of course, without the slightest hesitation or dissent. At length, in the year 1806, the system of relaxation was carried one step further, and his majesty in council was authorised, upon his view of the general necessity of the case, to allow the intercourse to be carried on in American ships: and finally, by various statutes passed at subsequent periods, a permanent permission was given to American, vessels, to import into the island of Bermuda, and into the ports of Halifax and St. John's, in Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, all the staple productions of the United states and to export all the Staple productions of the West India Island as well as British manufactures of every description.

Such being the present state of the law as respects that quarter of the globe, let us now look to the intercourse which these colonies may carry on with Europe. This trade is confined to British ships, but it nevertheless involves a material departure from the principle of the navigation laws. It has now for some years been competent to British vessels to convey the produce of our colonies to any port South of Cape Finisterre, and to take back (in the same vessel) various articles of importance for the consumption of the colonies: this relaxation has been still further extended with regard to the island of Malta, and the port of Gibraltar.

Looking, then, to the operation of all these laws, to which I have referred, and comparing them with that system from which they have diverged, I think I have established, as an undeniable proposition, that in the Western as well as in the Eastern Hemisphere, the lapse of time and the change of circumstances, has already effected a most material and substantial alteration in our policy; and I cannot but be persuaded that the committee will feel with me, that the extension which I propose to give to that alteration, and which I am now about to explain, may be considered as an almost necessary consequence of what has already been done.

I propose then, in the first place, to repeal the various laws which now regulate our colonial trade, and which, having been passed at different times, and with different objects, are not only intricate and confused, but in no small degree contradictory. The whole system might then be comprised in two laws, one relating to the intercourse of our colonies with America, and the other to their intercourse with the rest of the world: and this alteration would, at all events, have the advantage of simplicity and clearness.

The next step would be, to provide for the intercourse which it would be advise-able hereafter to permit as the permanent system of the country.—And first, with respect to America, I would propose to enact, that British vessels, as well as those belonging to countries in America, either continental or insular, and belonging either to European sovereign or, to Independent American States, should be allowed to import into certain free ports, to be named in the new act, all those articles which may now by law be imported into any of our colonies in that part of the world; the export would also be permitted from the same ports, in similar vessels, of all, articles, the produce of the British dominions, and of all articles legally imported into the British colonies. It should, I conceive, be rendered competent to his majesty in council, to add, by order in council, both to the ports, and to the list of articles, so allowed to be the object of the intercourse. I am satisfied that the committee will feel with me, that the foreign ships, to which this participation in the trade may be extended, should be precisely upon the same footing, as to duties and charges, as those of our own country; because it is obvious that if we were to attempt to impose upon them any distinct or additional burthens, we should only be inviting foreign governments to apply corresponding restrictions and charges to our own shipping. In order, however, to ensure a due reciprocity on the part of other states, in this intercourse, care should be taken in the new law, that its provisions should not apply to the vessels of any foreign states, which did not admit British vessels to equal and reciprocal advantages in their ports.

I must here, however, refer to a matter, which appears to me to be of considerable importance, and to deserve the particular attention of the House—I allude to the effect which the proposed measure may haw upon the commerce now carried on between our West India and North American colonies. Every one knows that the staple articles of produce in the latter are similar to those of the United States; and recent circumstances, arising out of our restrictions on the one hand, and retaliatory restrictions by the United States on the other, have led to a much more extended import of corn, flour, and lumber from Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, than otherwise would have taken place.—This trade will necessarily be more or less affected by the proposed changes; and I confess that I do feel that our North American colonists have strong claims upon us for a favourable consideration of their peculiar interests. Speaking the same language, living under the same laws as ourselves, distinguished by the same characteristic traits as their European brethren, they have secured, by their attachment to their mother country, a title to her gratitude and protection. That protection can, in this instance, be afforded to them in no other way than by imposing a moderate duty upon the importation into the West Indies, of those foreign articles, such as grain, flour, and lumber, which are equally the production of our own dominions. I shall not now trouble the committee, by going into any details upon this part of the subject, farther than to state that the duties should be so moderately calculated, and so justly apportioned, as not to deprive the people of the United States, of their fair proportion of this necessary supply, or seriously to enhance the price to the consumer.

I now come to the intercourse between our colonies and other parts of the world, exclusive of America. This intercourse I would confine to British ships; but I would allow the direct importation into the colonies of all articles which, under the existing system, may be legally imported there through the indirect channel of the mother country, or through Malta and Gibraltar, or the other places in Europe, with which a limited trade is now allowed; and instead of requiring that the different productions of our colonies should, as a general principle of policy, reach foreign markets, through the sole medium of the United Kingdom, I would permit them to be conveyed at once from the place of their growth to that of their ultimate consumption.

This is the general outline of the new arrangements which, I trust, the House will be disposed to adopt; and I am satisfied that those who have followed me in the detail of the existing laws, and have compared them with the proposed modifications, will admit that I was correct, when I stated, at the outset, that a much less extensive change will be effected, than many persons might at first sight be disposed to apprehend. They will have observed, for instance, that, with respect to foreign produce and foreign vessels, Spanish, Portuguese, and other foreign ships already have liberty to enter certain of our harbours, either to bring or to take away a great variety of important articles; that the ships of the United States may already convey their own produce directly to some of our possessions, and carry, our produce directly from thence; that the corn and flour of that country may reach all the British possessions, through other European colonies, entirely in foreign ships; and that my proposition is in truth simply this—to substitute a direct inter- course for one which is circuitous, dilatory, and expensive.

Having thus explained to the committee the nature of the proposition which I intend to submit to them, it is now my duty to state the grounds upon which I wish to rest the propriety of these measures.

In the first place, I must again call the attention of the committee to the provisions of the Free Port act of 1805; and particularly to that part of it which limits the trade to countries which are under the dominion of some foreign European sovereign or state. No one who has watched the progress of the events which, in the few last years, have occurred in America, and who has reflected upon the causes which have led to those events, can say how soon the situation of those extensive regions may be totally changed, and how soon they may be emancipated from all dependence upon their former masters. The termination, then, of European sovereignty would, ipso facto, terminate the free port trade. But I apprehend that no one would be disposed to contend, that the independence of those states would constitute a reason for again imposing upon our colonies those shackles, which so many motives had induced us to remove. Assuming, therefore, that the free port laws would be suffered to continue in full operation, the committee will see that the continuance of them, under these altered circumstances, would necessarily involve the adoption of a new principle of very great importance in the whole of this question—I mean the systematic admission of the flags of foreign independent States in America into the ports of our colonies. But if this principle be admitted with respect to one independent American state, how could we refuse it to another, if such other state were equally ready to give to us a reciprocity in its own ports? Could we, upon any principle of policy or prudence, make so marked a distinction in our system, as to say to the Brazils, to Columbia, to Mexico, "You shall be admitted;" and to the United States, "You shall be excluded!" Surely such a course would be unwise in the highest degree, leading to every species of jealousy, ill-will, and irritation, and tending obviously to interrupt, or at least to weaken, the harmony, which now so happily subsists between us. It never can, in my judgment, be prudent for this country to make distinctions of this sort. We ought rather so to frame our regulations in commerce, as to show to all nations that justice, equity, and impartiality, are the ruling principles of our conduct.

I am now desirous of calling the attention of the committee to the mode in which this question is affected by the actual state of foreign possessions in the western world. In former times, the policy of all the European possessors of distant territories led them to the establishment, and to the maintenance of restrictions as rigid as our own. But the force of events, and the imperceptible lapse of time, have effected a complete change in that state of things. In spite of the laws, the wishes, and the prejudices both of Portugal and Spain, the two productive colonies of Brazil and Cuba are, at this moment, practically open to a free trade with foreign nations; and it cannot be imagined for a moment, that any external force could again bring them within their ancient limitations. It is in these two colonies that are furnished the most abundant supplies of all the valuable productions of a tropical climate. They supply their own wants from every from whence they can most readily be satisfied, and they freely pour their own abundance into every channel which can convey it to the markets where it is required. Why, then, are we voluntarily to deprive ourselves of the means of meeting them in fair competition? Why are we to clog our operations in colonial commerce with an expensive mode of supply for our wants, and a restricted market for our produce?

But, Sir, there is another topic connected with this branch of the subject, upon which I feel particularly anxious to say a few words—I mean the question of the slave trade. England has, in defiance of old prejudices, and in opposition to the personal interests of many, manfully, honestly, and (as far as she is concerned) effectually abolished that unhallowed traffic: she has raised up an imperishable monument to Christian benevolence and national honour; she has endeavoured, by every exertion of diplomatic talent, and by great pecuniary sacrifices, to lead other states into the same humane and honourable course. In some respects her efforts have not been unsuccessful: but we all know how lamentably deficient has, hitherto, been the execution, by Spain and Portugal, of those promises which were at one time held out to us by the governments of those countries. We know that at this moment' incessant supplies of fresh slaves are an- nually poured into Cuba the Brazils; we know the facility which these supplies give to the extended cultivation of those fertile soils: we know that the sugar of the Brazils and Cuba, thus raised through the medium of an unlimited importation of new slaves, at a cheaper rate than it can now be in our own colonies, goes direct to the most lucrative markets in Europe, to rival and to undersell the produce of that very nation by which the slave trade has been abolished. What I ask, then, for the British colonies is, that they should be placed upon a footing of equality in this respect, and I am confident that I ask nothing but what is reasonable, just, and wise.

Looking, then, at all these combined considerations, to the relaxation of our colonial policy which has already taken place, and to the manifest advantages which we have derived from it—looking to the actual practice of other states; and looking, lastly, to the connexion of all these matters with the question of the slave trade, I think there may be deduced unanswerable arguments for the farther change which I have ventured to recommend.

It may, however, be asked, Why I would take the present moment for effecting this object? Why now provide regulations to meet what may be a distant contingency? Why not wait for the actual independence of the foreign colonies to which allusion has been made? To this I answer shortly, "Look at the state of distress which prevails in our islands." I will not trouble the committee by endeavouring to prove the existence of that distress, by statements of figures, and details of calculation:—it can neither be denied nor doubted. It is well known, that whilst, from a variety of causes, the produce of the British colonies has greatly increased, it has not been absorbed by a corresponding increase of consumption either at home or abroad. What, then, is the obvious remedy? Either a diminution of produce, or an extension of market. The former alternative cannot be contemplated without the most serious alarm, both as respects the proprietor of the estates, and the slaves of whom he ought to be, and I trust is, the generous protector. Ruin the proprietor, and you expose his unfortunate slaves to the horrors of famine, and every aggravation of his unhappy condition. Open, if you can, new markets for his produce, and you give him the best chance of retrieving his shattered fortunes, and of maintaining his negro dependents in comparative case and comfort. The planter and the slave have a common interest in the success of my propositions.

Still, however, it may be urged against me, that I anticipate too much benefit from the intended relaxation:—"The markets of the world are overstocked;" "no new vent can be found;" "all will end in disappointment, and increased distress." This, however, is nothing more than the common argument in favour of all monopolies, and against all relaxation of commercial fetters. It might, indeed, be easy to show by figures, and by documents, that this or that particular market would not offer much prospect of immediate advantage, not at least so much as might be conformable to the eager wishes of those who are suffering from distress: but surely this sort of reasoning is founded upon a very erroneous and contracted view of the subject. Those who have studied the history of commerce, who have watched its expansive and penetrating qualities, its imperceptible, but almost equally certain tendency to increase, are well aware that when its chains are once broken, there is no calculating to what an extent it may ultimately be carried. I know not, Sir, that I can better illustrate what I mean, than by availing myself of the language which a great poet has applied to the qualities of the soul of man. In combating the opinion that climate as an over-ruling influence over the power of the mind, he says— —"What seasons can control, What fancied zone can circumscribe the soul? Who conscious of the source from whence she springs, By Reason's light, on Resolution's wings, Spite of her frail companion, dauntless goes, O'er Lybia's deserts, and through Zembla's snows. This language, beautiful and poetical as it is, as applied to the point which it was intended by the poet to illustrate, becomes the veriest prose when applied to the spirit of commerce. Give it but the light of reason for its guide, and enterprise will never be wanting to convey it to every quarter of the globe. Confident, then, that the measure which I have recommended, rests upon sound principles—confident that it is calculated to promote the trade, and thereby necessa- rily to extend the navigation of the country—I beg to move the, two following Resolutions:—

  1. 1. "That the chairman be directed to ask for leave to bring in a bill to regulate the trade between his majesty's possessions in America and the West Indies, and other places in America and the West Indies.
  2. 2. That the chairman be directed to ask for leave to bring in a bill to regulate the trade between his majesty's possessions in America and the West Indies, and other parts of the World, exclusive of America and the West Indies."

Mr. Wilberforce

complimented the right hon. gentleman upon the steady support which he had given to the abolition of the slave trade, but feared that the bills proposed to be introduced would, by increasing the intercourse of our colonies with other nations, facilitate the illicit importation of slaves. The hon. gentleman also adverted to the system of registry devised as a security against the introduction of new Negroes into our islands. In Trinidad, he believed it was carried fully into effect, but in many of our islands, and in the principal one, Jamaica, it was in a very limited degree attended to.

Mr. Barham

did not believe, that the measure proposed would have the effect of introducing fresh slaves into the British colonies. The planters, indeed, must be mad who thought of importation at the present moment, for, so far from having money to buy new Negroes, they had not the means of supporting those already in their possession. He would support the bills, for he thought it absolutely necessary to do something for the relief of the colonial interest.

Mr. Marryat

considered the measure as one of the greatest importance, not only with respect to its general object, the amelioration of trade, but also as it affected the Negroes. From the state in which their masters were at present, they were in extreme distress. The measure, therefore, whilst it went to save the masters from ruin, was also highly interesting to the slaves. The object of it was to place those who had abolished the slave trade upon the same footing with those who had net. As a proof of the vast opening there was for an extended commerce emanating from the West Indian colonies, he had that morning seen a list of 575 ships engaged last year in that branch of trade. As to the navigation or any other interests, minor interests must give way to a system of great general good like this. One thing he thought had been left out of the plan of the right hon. gentleman, which was, a provision to permit the exportation of British goods from one West India island to another. This certainly called for a change. It frequently happened in consequence of this prohibition, that relief could not be afforded to a neighbouring colony in the greatest distress. Surely there ought to be no distinction made between islands, the inhabitants of which should all be considered as one family.

Mr. Fowell Buxton

tinned, that the House would recollect a discussion which had taken place last session as to the importation of East India sugar. When it was proposed to permit the importation of East India sugar upon the same terms exacted the importation of West India, the answer was, that as England monopolized the West India markets, compelling the colonies to buy and sell with her and with her only, therefore she was bound, as long as she maintained that monopoly, to admit no competitor into the market which she afforded. He hoped, that if the concession now proposed was made to the planters, the restriction upon the importation of East India sugar would be removed; for certainly, all the sound principles of general commerce applied just as fully to the admission of East India sugar into this country as to the sale of West India in foreign markets. As regarded the condition of slaves, too, in our West India islands, he had farther objections beyond the inefficiency of the Registry act; and he trusted that the present opportunity would be taken, to demand the correction of the objectionable practices, in return for advantages bestowed. One most important point necessary to the happiness of slaves in our West India islands was, that they should become adscripti glebœ. The House did not know, perhaps, that under the present system the slave was nothing more than a chattel. A man might be born on a plantation, grow up, build a house, marry a wife, and have a family; and after all, without the slightest offence committed, or even imputed, be sold by his master, and transferred from his house, wife, and family, to the most distant island in the British possession: [Cries of "no, no."] If not to the new colonies, then, he might at all events be transferred to any one of the old islands, and that was sufficient for his argument. This practice was an injustice, as gross and as enormous as the slave-trade itself had been; and the present moment of concession ought to be seized for getting rid of it. There were other matters as to which alteration was important—the judicial system, the law as to marriages of slaves, and other regulations. He hoped if the bills proposed were passed, that the adoption of a better course would be insisted on.

Mr. Huskisson

denied that any thing like exclusive advantage was intended to the colonies by the arrangement contemplated. The case had been opened by his right hon. friend as a broad question of commercial policy. The advantage projected was to all—to the navigation, to the mother country, and to the West India possessions. The right hon. gentleman then touched upon the effect of the proposed bills as applying to the slave trade, and denied that any facility would be created by the free intercourse greater than that which already existed. What had of late years afforded so much encouragement to the slave-trade, as that intercourse which, through the mistaken policy of the British government, had gone on extending itself between the United States and Cuba, as well as the Brazils? Had the British West India islands been at liberty to export their produce to all the northern parts of America, we should not have found the people of this latter country deriving all their supplies of certain articles, from the colonies of other European states, which were thereby induced to enlarge their cultivation, and to import an additional number of slaves. The same cause had operated to increase the distress and difficulties of our planters, and indirectly to spread the horrors of the detestable traffic which all our old and respectable colonists, wished to see finally abolished. We might form some notion of the benefit that would have resulted to the West Indies from an open trade with North America, supposing that in the existing superfluity of our own produce a new foreign market was discovered for it. The hon. gentleman who `Spoke before him seemed to intimate his dissent from this part of his argument, and had already remarked, that much of the evil was to be traced to our impolitic acquisition of too many colonies during the last war. But, admitting this to be the fact, what could be inferred from it, except that it helped to furnish an irresistible case for the planter in the older West India colonies? Here was ground enough, in justice to him, for relaxing our laws, particularly as respected East India sugars. The views under which ministers were disposed to proceed did not imply a sudden or entire departure from our former system, bad as it might be, but such a modification, as, it was hoped, would accomplish gradually the desired end, with as little individual hardship, or disturbance of existing interests, as was possible. When they reflected on the history of our West India islands, they must all feel it to be a serious obligation imposed on them, so to shape our general policy as to confer upon those islands as many advantages as were consistent with our own interests in Europe. The ancient system of this country was, above all things, to encourage and promote the slave trade, and the increase of our colonies was regarded as a subordinate object. It was in this point of view that our ancestors looked upon the West Indies, and although we of this age had happily regarded the African slave-trade as wholly inconsistent with humanity and religion, it once was unquestionably fostered with especial care. This was demonstrated by the whole course of our commercial policy—by bounties, by treaties, by the variety of sacrifices which could have had no other end than to exclude neighbouring countries from any participation of the guilty traffic. He now anxiously hoped to see a different course adopted, and that parliament would proceed to enable the masters in our colonies to treat their slaves in the way which he was satisfied would be most congenial to their own feelings. Supposing that cheaper sugar might be imported from the East Indies—and he was far from believing that a state of slavery was the fittest for rendering labour cheap—yet undoubtedly there were circumstances which would otherwise, from the extreme cheapness of labour in the east, extinguish all competition on the part of the West Indies. From a principle of justice, therefore, and in order to induce the masters to afford protection to the unfortunate beings committed to their care, we were bound to favour them, and extend towards them a beneficent and liberal policy. They had a certain population to support, at all events, and whether their foreign trade was more or less restricted. The hon. member for Bramber had reminded them that the same difficulties and pressure existed at this moment in the mother country; but the case was far from being precisely similar; and people here would feel themselves much more deeply aggrieved if there were open markets on the continent which they were not permitted to supply. His hon. friend must allow, that the existence of such a demand with the perfect freedom of supplying it, would administer a very great relief, and that of this relief our West India planters were deprived. He could perceive no solid reason for objecting to the proposed measure. Every argument founded on humanity alone, certainly appeared to him to be in favour of, not in opposition to, it. He should merely add, that he considered the proposed measure as not less a boon to the mother country, than to her colonies. He should be sorry to find the subject mixed up with other questions of great difficulty and delicacy, and which even those who touched on them did not wish to force into immediate discussion.

Mr. Plummer

expressed his satisfaction at the introduction of the measure, and read some parts of a letter to prove that the West India colonies were, together with distress, threatened with a famine.

Mr. Evans

thought that some positive regulations should be made to prevent the importation of fresh slaves.

Mr. W. Smith

said, that the present race of West India planters seemed to be influenced by views so different from those of their predecessors, and the question now before them involved merits so distinct, that he was unwilling to throw the least impediment in its way. Whatever was consistent with the welfare or interests of this country, he was disposed to concede. He feared, however, that the new system could only be established at our expense; and it could not be disputed that the distress at home was equally great with the distress in the colonies.

Mr. Philips

hoped, that the consideration of no individual interests would be permitted of interfere with a measure which was consistent with the soundest principles of commercial policy and justice. He was convinced that by the operation of this measure a stop would be put to the continuance of the slave trade.

Mr. Bright

was of opinion that Canada ought to have the advantage of the pro- posed measure. It was unwise to throw difficulties in the way of this measure, which was calculated to give a blow to the remains of the slave trade, and by the progression of civilization to confer the highest benefits on the slaves of the West India colonies.

Mr. Butterworth

supported the general principle, and believed it would tend to promote an effectual abolition.

The resolutions were agreed to; and leave was given to bring in the two bills.