HC Deb 09 February 1830 vol 22 cc305-25
Mr. Alderman Waithman

said, he brought forward his present motion, in pursuance of the pledge he had given on the subject, to call for papers that would show the fallacy of all the vaunted statements and deceptive Returns as to the Exports of the country having increased. Under ordinary circumstances, he would have contented himself with merely moving for the Returns, but after the assertion in the Lords Commissioners' Speech, and repeated by the Ministers, and those who supported them, he must trespass on the House with some details. He had exposed the fallacies last Session, but after the language to which he had already adverted, a repetition of the exposure became necessary. Hon. Members would, no doubt, be astonished at the great variation between what was called the Official and the Real Value of Exports; and if they looked back to the documents on the Table, for the last thirty years, they might, as he had done, collect the proofs of the extent of that variation; but at the present moment, when matters of trade were of so much importance—when a Committee had just been appointed to inquire into one great branch of commerce—and when it was held out, in the Speech from the Throne, that the Exports last year exceeded all former years—it was necessary that facts, as they actually existed, ought to be laid, in a clear and simple view, before the House and the country. He had gone through all the documents, and had collected a vast deal of useful information upon the difference between the Official and Real Value of Exports, and he had commenced his first account with 1798, that being the year after the suspension of cash payments by the Bank, and had brought it down to 1814, the year of peace, and when some discussions took place regarding the currency. Going back to 1798, it might be recollected as a matter of history that Mr. Pitt had then quoted the Official Value as only 19,000,000l., while at that date the real value ascended to 33,000,000l., and the account he (Ald. Waithman) had made out showed that the real value gradually increased from 1798 to 1814, the whole gross excess of real over the official value of goods exported during such period was no less than 240,000,000l., or at the rate, on an average, of more than 15,000,000l. per annum. The next paper he had prepared applied to the period between 1814 and 1828, both inclusive, and in this interval the official value had been as constantly increasing as the real value had done from. 1798 to 1814: the advance had been gradual from 36,000,000l. to 52,000,000l. per annum; and in the last year the real value was no less than 16,000,000l. below the official value. The decrease from 1814 to 1819, the currency year, was from forty-seven to thirty-seven millions. Since the alteration in the currency in 1819, the Real Value had become eighty millions less than the Official Value.* It might be said, as indeed it had been said, that the Real Value was of no consequence—that the cheaper goods were obtained and exported the better; but one important question was, whether the Real Value had increased? Taking a period of thirty years, it would be found that during the last ten the Real Value had fallen off between eight and nine millions per annum, as contrasted with the ten preceding years; in the ten preceding years the increase had been at the rate of about two millions per annum. Such being the case, and such being known to be the case, there was not a junior clerk in a merchant's counting-house who did not justly laugh at the proceedings of the House, founded upon the defective information by which it was misled. Ministers asserted that the trade of the country was increasing; they had not condescended to state whence they drew their information; but he would establish that it had decreased to the amount of at least eight millions, on the average, each year during the last ten years. And yet we were sacrificing our internal trade and neglecting productive sources of real wealth to increase our nominal exports. In spite of all the schemes of Free Trade, however—in spite of the cutting-down of the ship-builders and of the ship-owners—our trade was diminished. An hon. Member said, he did not believe a word of it.—[The Chancellor of the Exchequer disclaimed having made such an observation.]—Mr. Alderman Waithman said it was the hon. Member for Westminster, below him, who had said so. [Mr. Hobhouse who occupied that seat, said, No, no] Whoever said 'No' to the statements, he would pledge his veracity for the correctness of them; and he would be prepared to submit to any degradation which the House or the country could inflict upon him if he failed to prove that the trade of the country had diminished to the extent he had said. *See Table, p. 313, 314. Now, a word with respect to the last year. It was said that, when we took corn from abroad, other nations would take our goods in return. He had taken some pains to discover how the exports were when large importations of corn took place, and he found that there was a larger decrease in the exports then than at other times. If we received six millions worth of corn, as was the quantity, according to his estimate, of course we must export goods or gold in return. If the right hon. Gentleman had acted with his usual candour, he would have stated whether the accounts were taken upon the Real or the Official Value, and would also have informed the House that the supposed increase was owing to the great importation of corn. But they were told it was quantity and not price that was to be regarded. As goods to nearly that additional extent had not been returned, the conclusion was, that gold had left the country to supply the deficiency. As Sir John Barnard had been alluded to on a previous occasion, he should take the liberty of quoting a little of his reasoning as applicable to this point. Sir J. B's argument was—If a man were in the habit of selling a hat for a guinea, and if, by bringing down the price to 17s. 6s., he could sell two for 35s., although it was true that the profits of the manufacturer and the seller were reduced, yet, if employment were given to one thousand people, an advantage was gained by the change. But he (Mr. Ald. Waithman) would say, that if we sent out two pieces of goods instead of one, and if instead of raising the price from a guinea to 35s., they sold them for 10s., this, he said, was a loss. It was said, in a triumphant tone, would any set of men be so foolish as to carry on the export trade from year to year without any profit or prospect of it? He had never contended that they would, but the fact was, that in every year where embarrassments arose from over-trading, goods were sold at immense sacrifice. He could state from his own experience, and from his own sufferings, which were apt to make a man remember such things, that years of excess of exportation had been most disastrous and most ruinous. He thought it extraordinary that Chancellors of the Exchequer (he did not now allude to the right hon. Gentleman opposite in particular) but that any Chancellor of the Exche- quer should be found to boast of prosperity, and to sound the horn of triumph, and to call upon the whole nation to rejoice at the extent of our trade, and the prospect of wealth and glory. Such precisely had been the case in 1825, when nothing was talked of but the elasticity of trade, the extent of our resources, and the abundance of our wealth. As this prophecy was not very happily verified, the whole blame was thrown upon the Bank of England, with whom the Government had been so many years in league and concert. Those who had availed themselves of the assistance of the Bank for a series of years, then with the vilest ingratitude turned round upon their old friends, and charged them with being the authors of all the calamities of the country. By a Return he held in his hand, he found that within the last thirty years the price of weaving a piece of cloth had fallen from 10s. 6d. to 1s. 9d.; and the price of a quarter of wheat had fallen from above 80s. to about 50s. while the number of commitments for criminal offences had increased from four thousand to upwards of sixteen thousand. And the 3 per cents averaged sixty-two between 1800 and 1810, and were ninety-four in 1829. From 1800 to 1810 the average of wheat was 83s.; 3 per cents were 62 per cent; wages for weaving a piece of cambric was 10s. 6s.; and the committals for crime four thousand in number; from 1810 to 1820 wheat was at 88s.; stocks 65; wages 6s. 9d.; and commitments five thousand; from 1820 to 1828 wheat 57s.; stocks 81; wages 3s. 6d. and commitments fifteen thousand. In 1829 wheat 50s.; stocks 94; wages 1s. 10d.; and commitments sixteen thousand five hundred and sixty four. By referring to the details, it would thus be discovered that within the last three years, despite of the march of intellect, the spirit of improvement, and the schoolmaster abroad in all directions, the produce of the poor man's industry was decreasing constantly, and the scale of crime alarmingly increasing. These were the boasted consequences of our prosperity. As to the state of the Retail Trade, the opinions entertained of its prosperity were founded on very fallacious grounds. Printed goods were exhibited in some shops at six-pence half-penny a yard, and great crowds were collected to purchase. He knew, in one case, that a person bought a very large quantity of these goods, at six-pence halfpenny, of which the Government received duty, and he afterwards retailed them at sixpence, being a loss of one half-penny in every yard, to make an exhibition of great trade. This was the way business was at present conducted, and these were the means by which an appearance of prosperity was kept up, and carriages blazoned with arms and coronets were seen crowding their doors. As to the question of taxation he must contend and strongly that the Government kept one army of Customhouse-officers and Excise-men to take the taxes, and another to take them off! [hear] For his part he despaired of any reduction of taxation. He saw no prospect of it. He saw no good it would do to any extent that it was likely to be carried—even if it were reduced one half. When he heard a placeman or a pensioner deplore the public distress—say how much he pitied the sufferers, and express his desire to relieve at the same time that he declaimed the impossibility of attempting it, he confessed he could not understand him. If a man holding a place of 2,000l. a-year, as did one of the right hon. Gentlemen over the way for instance, were however, to say that he felt so much for the sufferings of his neighbours that he was willing to resign a portion, or the whole of it for their relief, then, indeed, he would believe him—then, indeed, he could give him credit for sincerity. In the language of Hudibras he might say of such a placeman, He who hangs, or beats out's brains, The Devil's in him if he feigns. But, until Gentlemen were prepared to take that course, he did not see the prospect of any effectual relief. The retail traders of the Metropolis were losing nearly forty per cent on their stock; and the greatest mischiefs were added by the change of seasons and fashions. The first parcel of goods he ever purchased in his life was from Sir Robert Peel, and he had often afterwards obtained a reduction of twelve or fifteen per cent between the price he paid at the beginning of the season and the price he paid afterwards. These changes, the weight of taxation, and the improvident measures adopted with regard to trade, had reduced some of the most respectable tradesmen in the Metropolis to ruin; and not a day passed over his head without receiving applications from them and their families for every kind of employment, and not unfrequently to support a petition for their being admitted into the police. He wished it, however, to be understood, that it was not at all meditated by him to attack the funded interest or rob the stockholder. The more oppressive property, and that because it was not liable to change with the changes of other property, was that of the great proprietors in land. Rents were kept up by imprudent competition amongst the tradesmen themselves, and many of them had been by this, or the general stagnation of trade, so much reduced, that the right hon. the Home Secretary could, no doubt, testify to the truth of the statement to which he had just alluded, that many respectable tradesmen had, after failing in their shops, been most solicitous to obtain a situation as Policemen. The number of persons interested in the Funds would be seen by a return he had prepared on Parliamentary Documents. [See page 314] He firmly believed that the paper he had alluded to would be found to be the index of the increase or diminution of our Exported Produce at different periods, and by that paper it would be found that the annual value of our Exports, in real value, upon an average of six years, from 1814 to 1819 inclusive, was 45,746,9761. whilst upon the average of the last nine years the real value was only 36,711,949l, making a yearly decrease of real value in the Exports of the last nine

Account exhibiting the Official Value of IMPORTS into, and RE-EXPORTS from Great Britain for Eleven Years, viz. 1814 to 1825; together with the Nett Payments of DUTY, and the RATES of VALUATION of the stated Articles.
Species of Merchandize. Official Value of Excess of Nett Payment to the Exchequer of Rate of Valuation in England by Parliamentary Paper of 1826 (No. 385)
Imports. Re-exports. Imports. Re-exports. Customs Duty. Excise Duty. Valuation of Imports. Valuation on Re-export. Difference of Value.
Cassia Lignea 309,617 360,272 50,655 38,052 1/6 per lb. 2/0 per lb. 0/6
Cinnamon 917,928 1,085,785 l67,857 22,788 4/0 5/0 1/0
cloves 658,780 859,839 201,059 46,886 5/0 7/6 2/6
Cocoa 539,308 670,612 131,304 19,418 2,688,435 50/0 per cwt 80/0 per cwt 30/0
Coffee 38,089,469 40,155,828 2,066,359 907,877 140/0 140/0
Cod-fish 340,630 347,622 6,992 10/0 20/0 10/0
Cortex Peruvian 136,780 272,901 136,121 65,688 3/6 per lb. 3/0 per lb. 0/6
Mace 363,955 485,749 121,794 30,791 12/6 19/0 6/6
Nutmegs 464,937 474,095 9,158 163,060 4/0 6/6 2/6
pepper 1,163,426 3,064,762 1,901,336 528,830 787,978 0/4 1/1 0/9
Piece Goods of India 7,351,107 13,646,219 6,295,112 735,744 10/0 per piece 19/6 pr. piece 9/6
Pimento 564,754 627,617 62,863 112,655 0/6 per lb. 0/7 per lb.
Spirits, Foreign 8,215,168 11,651,132 3,435,964 2,765,183 26,461,566 B 2/4½ per gallon. B. 5/0 per gallon. 10/11½
R 1/8 R. 6/0
G 1/0 G. 5/0
5/0½ 16/0
Total £ 59,115,859 73,702,433 14,586,574 5,436,972 29,937,979

years, as compared with those of the six years preceding 1820, to the amount of 9,035,025l. In this calculation he did not include the Exports of Colonial and Foreign Produce; and, had they been so included, he was satisfied that, coupled with the increase of the population in the mean time, the decrease would be found to be nearly double. The statement, according to the Finance Accounts presented annually to Parliament during the eleven years-1814 to 1825-exhibited the average official value, and the nett amount of Duty of Customs, of thirteen of the principal articles of Foreign and Colonial Produce imported into and re-exported from Great Britain to all parts of the world (except Ireland). [See infra] The several Accounts, with moving which he should conclude, would shew the difference between the real and official value, the falling-off in the amount of the real value of Exports, and the consequent distressed state of Manufactures and Commerce. He moved "that there be laid before the House, accounts of the Exports of British Manufactures and Produce, from the year 1798, inclusive, to Fifth of January 1814; specifying the Official and Real Value, with the Increase and Decrease in each year, as the same may be, of the Real as compared with the Official Value, and the gross amounts:—Account of the Exports, from the year 1814, inclusive, to 5th Jan. 1830:—Account of the Exports of Co-

(pass over to folio 315.)

An Account of the Value of the MANUFACTURES and PRODUCE exported from the United Kingdom from 1798 to 1813, inclusive; and from 1814 to 1828, inclusive: showing the INCREASE of, and DECREASE of, REAL, as compared with OFFICIAL Value.
No. 1 Official Value. Real Value. Incr. of Real over Official. No. 2 Official Value Real Value. Incr. of Real over Official. Deer. of Real from Official.
£. £. £. £. £. £. £.
1798 19,672,503 33,148,682 13,476,579 1814 36,120,723 47,859,386 11,738,663
1799 24,084,213 38,942,498 14,858,285 1815 44,084,701 53,209,809 9,161,108
1800 24,304,284 39,471,203 15,166,919 1816 136,697,610 42,955,256 6,256,646
1801 25,719,980 41,770,354 16,050,374 1817 41,590,516 43,614,136 2,023,620
1802 27,012,108 48,500,683 21,488,575 1818 44,564,044 48,903,760 4,339,716
1803 22,252,102 40,100,870 17,848,768 1819 35,634,415 37,939,506 2,305,091
1804 23,934,292 40,340,642 16,415,350 1820 48,735,551 38,619,897 1,620,380
1805 25,003,308 41,068,942 16,065,631 1821 40,831,744 36,659,631 4,172,113
1806 27,403,653 43,242,176 15,838,523 1822 44,236,533 36,968,964 7,267,569
1807 25,090,762 40,479,865 14,389,103 1823 43,804,372 35,458,048 8,346,324
1808 26,662,288 40,881,672 14,219,583 1824 148,735,551 38,396,300 10,350,062
1809 35,107,439 50,242,761 15,135,322 1825 47,150,687 38,870,945 8,279,244
1810 34,940,550 49,975,634 15,035,084 1826 40,965,735 31,536,723 9,429,012
1811 24,109,931 34,917,281 10,807,350 1827 52,219,280 37,182,857 15,036,423
1812 31,243,362 43,657,864 12,414,504 1828 52,797,455 36,814,176 15,983,279
1813 32,000,580 43,000,000 11,000,000
Total 35,825,844 80,484,406
Gross amount of real over official value 240,210,732 35,825,250
Gross amount of depreciation 116,310,250
Average increase per annum of real value over official for sixteen years 15,013,170
*** The last year was less than any one year for fifteen years past, with the exception of 1823 and 1826, and, excepting three years, less than any for thirty-one years in real value. It is a remarkable fact, that the Exports in real value for ten years previous to 1819 inclusive, are two and a half millions more, and the last ten years eight and a half millions less in real value.
The annual value of our Exports in real value upon an average of six years, 1814 to 1819 inclusive 45,746,975
The annual value of our Exports in real value upon average of the last nine years, 1820 to 1828 inclusive 36,711,949
Yearly decrease in real value for the last nine years, as compared with six preceding years 9,035,026

The Exports of Colonial and Foreign Produce is not included; if that were added, and the increase that ought to have been in proportion to increased population was calculated, it would probably be double.

Average Price of THREE PER CENTS; and of WHEAT; and of WAGES of WEAVING a piece of twelve yards of CAMBRICK; and of COMMITTALS for CRIME,—for the last Thirty Years.
years. Three per Cents. Price of Wheat. Wages for Weaving. Committals for Crime.
s. s. d.
Average 1800 to 1810 62 83 10 6 4000
per 12 yds.
1810 to 1820 65 88 6 9 5435
1820 to 1829 81 57 3 6 15000
1829 94 50 1 10 16564
BANK return of HALF-YEARLY DIVIDENDS from various Stocks and Annuities.
Not exceeding. Number of persons. Gross Number.
5 85,154
10 42,167
50 97,673
100 25,822 250,816
250 15,046
300 4,812 19,858
500 3,076
1000 1,501
2000 436
Exceed. 2000 152 5,165
Total number 275,833

From which it appears that all the Dividends exceeding £300 the half-year are received by 5,165 persons, who receive the gross amount of £8,110,182, and the whole are received by only 275,839 persons.

lonial and Foreign Produce:—Account of the Exports from Ireland:—Account of the Imports for the same periods:— Account of the Exports of Cotton Goods, from the year 1814, inclusive, to 5th January 1830; specifying each year the Increase and Decrease of Real as compared with Official Value:—Account of the Exports of Printed Cotton Goods, with the amount of Duties received, and Drawbacks allowed, upon the same."

Mr. Hume

begged leave to second the motion; but he must at the same time take leave to show that his hon. friend was completely mistaken in the conclusions he attempted to draw from the apparent decrease of the real over the official value since the year 1814. The Tables from which his hon. friend had taken his statements were drawn up by Mr. Marshall, a gentleman with whom he had long been acquainted; his (Mr. M.'s) object was, to show that the active industry of the country had, within such period, doubled, and nearly trebled, as compared with preceding years. Of the merits of those Tables there was but one opinion; but it was a complete mistake to take the returns of official values of goods passing through the Customs as a criterion of any thing except the mere quantities. In fact they were not so intended, and they very imperfectly, as it was well known, represented values; in so much so that these accounts, in 1798, took the official values at about nineteen millions; whereas it was ascertained that the real value of our exports was in that year full thirty-three millions. The same might be said of the return of the last year's official values, taken as at sixteen millions. It was certainly true that prices had gone down; but it should be recollected that there was a very great depreciation in the cost of the imports. He admitted all that his hon. friend had stated with respect to the decrease in the official value at one period, and its increase at another; but he was prepared at the same time to show that the decrease and increase proved a state of things the very reverse of that supposed by the hon. Member.

It was said that the prices of all manufactured goods had fallen, but was it not considered how much the price of the raw material had also fallen? American cotton at one time was three shillings and sixpence a pound, now it was one shilling and three-pence. India cotton had been eighteen-pence, now it could be bought for four-pence halfpenny. But then the wages for weaving a piece of cloth in the year 1798 were fifteen shillings, now they were one shilling and ten-pence. [hear from Mr. Waithman] His hon. friend might call 'hear!' but he wished he could get him to understand that this was the way in which he accounted for the difference of value which seemed so hard to be understood. To take, for instance, bobbinet. That at one time could not be purchased for less than a pound a yard: now it could be purchased for eighteen-pence. This was the proof of the improvements we had made in machinery, so that two men could now do as much work as five hundred at the time to which he alluded. Could any man deny that this was a great benefit? He could not illustrate the difference between the real and the official value of an article better than by referring to the price of cloves. Supposing that the price of cloves had been five shillings a pound before the war; that during the war they reached fifteen shillings a pound, and that after the war they fell again to five shillings. The official value being fixed at five shillings, and remaining the same during the war, then the real value would appear to be on the increase; but after the war, when the price again fell to five shillings, or below it, the official value would seem to be increasing. When, therefore, his hon. friend cited this falling-off of the real value with reference to the official value, as a proof of the falling-off in trade, it ought rather to be taken as a proof of its greater activity. He did not deny that there was a great depression in many branches of industry, but he contended that we were now in a better situation to meet the burthen of eight hundred and fifty millions of debt than we were in the year 1792 to bear a much smaller amount. He could not understand what all the bother and nonsense about the weight of the debt was intended for;—if the country would be but true to itself, and make the most of its resources, difficulties would be averted. When Gentlemen, who unluckily represented important and respectable towns, came down to that House preaching such intolerable nonsense and hum- bug, he felt inclined to ask them what would Venice, Genoa, or any other of the powerful maritime States of Europe have been without their commerce. [hear] Some of those notable legislators had even gone so far as to say that it would be better for England to have no foreign commerce whatever. But this was such unmitigated and irremediable absurdity, that it did not deserve a moment's consideration. Why, except for Free Trade, the people would soon be reduced to utter ruin, and driven to the necessity of eating-one another, surrounded as they must be upon all sides by a political wall of brass. [laughter] He would wish, however, most earnestly, to see taxation more equalized, and taken as much as possible off the poor working classes, upon whom it now pressed so hard. The labouring poor at present contributed four-fifths of the taxes, while millions gave comparatively nothing. Saying that it was impossible to afford relief was equivalent to complaining that a man could not run after having been chained to the ground. Let the burthen of the taxes be imposed chiefly on property and capital, the owners of which were so forward to claim priority in representation that it would be a pity to refuse them precedence in this particular likewise. In that case he affirmed that the land would no longer be burthened with pauperism, manufacturers would flourish, and the whole body of society be improved in proportion. Let hon. Members look at soap, candles, and leather, which were respectively doubled in value to the consumer by taxation. Any Gentleman could go into a shop and buy tallow for himself at 3d. per pound; but when he purchased it in candles he was obliged to pay 6½d. or 7d., losing at the rate of thirty per cent in that article alone. He recommended the House to consult a document containing much useful information upon the subject, which was in possession of the Member for Cornwall, who, he was sure, would readily give a copy to any Member who might desire it. Much of the misunderstanding that prevailed relative to the value of our Exports, and Imports, arose from the want of a determinate standard by which they should be measured. There was one value fixed on the Import and another on the Export of the same article—on cinnamon, mace, cocoa, (nearly double) and coffee, for example; and one rate of duty in Scotland and another in Ireland. Hence the different conclusions from the same premises, and hence, so much misconception that might be so easily avoided.

Mr. Robinson

said, that notwithstanding the hard terms dealt out by the hon. Member for Aberdeen against those who did not agree with him in their notions of commercial policy, he could not avoid offering a few observations to the House. The hon. Gentleman appeared to have mistaken the object of the hon. Alderman's motion, which went no further than to show that the accounts of the official value of Exports, as they were made up, could not be fairly considered as a proof of the prosperity of the country. The hon. Gentleman appeared to him also to have mistaken the argument of the hon. Alderman as to the decreased value of the Exports. In fact, the hon. Gentleman had gone so far as to infer an increase of prosperity from the decreased value of the Exports. In what did the value of the Exports consist? It consisted of two elements— the capital, and the labour employed. If then, as unfortunately was the case in this country at the present moment, the price of labour was too low to afford a fair remuneration, could it be considered in any other light than as a proof that the commerce of the country was on the decline? But no, said the hon. Member for Aberdeen, it is a proof that your commerce is increasing, and consequently is in a state of prosperity. It had been said that those who were opposed to the principle of Free Trade did not sufficiently estimate the importance of foreign commerce. But when the hon. Gentleman contemplated making other nations tributary to this country, he should remember that it was not in our power, by any measure of internal legislation, to effect so desirable a purpose. We must first get other nations to agree with us, and he was sure that a right hon. Gentleman opposite—for whose profound theoretical knowledge on such subjects he had the highest respect—he was sure that right hon. Gentleman would not say that we had yet succeeded in bringing other nations to our opinions.—The only point on which he differed from the right hon. Gentleman was this—he understood him to wish that the whole commerce of the world should be thrown open, and conducted as if mankind were all one great and friendly family, exchanging with each other the products of which each stood in need. If all the world were so disposed, he was not so stupid as to deny that the principle would be attended with the utmost benefit to mankind. But that it was not so, nor likely to become so, was an undeniable fact. Other countries, so far from agreeing with us in this principle of Free Trade, had actually resisted our policy by hostile enactments.—The Report of the French Minister recommended what it called a reasonable system of protection, and expressed an opinion that, on the principle of Free Trade, England would be able to overthrow their manufactures. Accordingly France had refused to relax her restrictive system, as the best means of contending with the commercial efforts of this country. And how did the United States of America proceed? Every one knew the restrictive nature of the late Tariff: in addition to which he could state a fact which had come to his knowledge—namely, that a committee appointed by Congress to revise the Tariff had recommended that it should be continued. In consequence of this recommendation the Tariff would be continued, so that America as well as France had refused to comply with the liberal system of policy of which this country had set the example. The right hon. Gentleman, (Mr. Robinson, now Lord Goderich) and the Government, which had adopted his views, employed, as one of the arguments in recommending their system, that other countries would follow the example of England. But how had the fact turned out? The other countries had not followed the example. Was not that a reason for re-considering this system?—All that was asked was, that it should be reconsidered, in order that, if useful, it should be continued; or, if injurious, got rid of; for no man could deny that if the system was founded in error, the sooner it was got rid of the better. So much had been said about the distress of the country, that he would only add that a sufficient quantity of it existed to justify the House in proceeding at once to inquiry. What he complained of was, that Ministers had refused to attend to the petitions of the people last Session for inquiry, and that there appeared but little probability of their attending to them now-The Speech, at the opening of the Session, held out no favourable prospect on that head. But the country would not be satisfied to let another Session go on without inquiry. No man could deny that the evils of the country originated in many causes; but the principal evil was the extreme pressure on the labouring classes. He thought Parliament had not sufficiently considered the means of giving employment to the poor. It was a subject of vital interest. If the labouring population were permitted to go on sinking in penury and degradation, it was impossible that the country could be said to be in a prosperous state. He would not undertake to enumerate all the causes of the present distress, but there were three causes which he would state as the principal:—The first was, the pressure of taxation on the labouring classes; they ought to relieve the productive industry of the country. Another cause was, the effect produced by machinery. Much ridicule had been thrown on a noble person, in another place, for assigning the improvement of machinery amongst other causes of the distress experienced by the labouring classes. The fact, however, was undeniable. Neither he nor the noble Lord intended to question the ultimate advantage of these improvements, but that their immediate effect was to throw many hands out of employment was a fact which did not admit of contradiction. The third cause to which he should refer, was the establishment of Corn Laws. He did not mean to say that the landlords should be deprived of all protection, but he would say that they ought not to be exclusively protected at the expense of the labouring classes; but that the laws by which they were protected constituted an operative cause in the production of distress. Upon the whole, if something were not done upon the subject, he should conclude the House was only competent to do injury, but incapable of doing good. He feared also, that much of our distress must be imputed to the competition of other countries. The hon. Member for Aberdeen had said much of the Free Trade principles making the world tributary on England for her manufactures; but the hon. Member had forgotten that France and America, acting on the restrictive system, had both extended their trade last year. The increase, for example, of the value of Imports into the port of Havre (the Liverpool of France), amounted last year to twenty millions of francs over those of the preceding year, and the Exports of the United States were five millions of dollars more last year than in 1828. Was it not evident, then, that other nations were benefitted while this was injured by the present system? Why should we take the Silk of France unless she reciprocally bound herself by treaty to take our Cotton and Hardware manufactures in return? In a word, why should not the system be made one of bona fide reciprocity, or be revised and amended?

Mr. Courtenay

said, he was willing to admit, that the system of determining the value of our Exports by that called the "official average value," was not altogether as perfect as might be desired; but it was the most perfect that he knew of, or, he would affirm, that any Member of that House had as yet devised. He had tried one or two other modes of arriving at a value of our Exports and Imports, but found them not so successful; and he should be obliged to any hon. Member who would suggest a mode less liable to error than that of the official value. Some artificial standard was necessary, for the difference of kind and size, &c, of commodities rendered mere quantity an inefficient representative of real value. He would not then enter into an analysis of the hon. Alderman's statements, as a more fitting occasion would shortly present itself; but would content himself with contending that increase of Exports proved so far an increased activity of commerce. How could these Exports be made, without an increased amount of shipping, and of the employment of machinery and labour? Hon. Members said that because the price or rate of profit of those Exports was low, that therefore they were of no national benefit; but they forgot that the extent of the market was as the lowness of profits—that if they wished for high prices, they must count on small sales, and vice versâ;. The hon. Member for Worcester, (Mr. Robinson) said that France and America had not followed our example in adopting the anti-restrictive system. Now it was a sufficient answer to the hon. Member to say that the Secretary to the Treasury of the United States had in his last report asserted the very doctrine which had been over and over advanced by Ministers,— namely, that the transition from a state of war to that of peace, the application of science to machinery, (which God forbid he should denounce or not appreciate,) and other concurrent causes, necessarily induced a temporary distress, for which there was no legislative remedy. Then with respect to France, it was a fact that our Exports to that country had increased considerably last year, notwithstanding the so-much-objected-to Free Trade system. When, last Session, he addressed the House on the subject, he contended that the Silk Trade, the then subject of complaint, would be extended by the very measures which hon. Members declared would be its ruin; and he appealed to the candour of every hon. Member, whether the fact was not as he had predicted. And so it would be with other branches of trade, as he would endeavour to prove on another occasion.

Mr. Attwood

said, he was not surprised that the hon. Member for Aberdeen should be hailed as a great authority on the state of the nation by hon. Members opposite (on the Treasury bench) since his statements went to bear out their ill-founded assertions. But the hon. Member had a condition of his own, which went, if examined, to upset the very doctrines which he meant to uphold. The hon. Member had, on various occasions, contended that the present Free Trade system gave to us the market of the world; and yet strangely argued that there should be a reduction of 20,000,000l. of taxes, else we should be driven out of that market by other competitors. [Mr. Hume said, he did not specify 20,000,000l. he only mentioned a large reduction]? No matter, three, five, or ten millions, be the sum what it might,—it was equally a death-blow to Ministers. He did not doubt that, according to the official returns, the amount of Exports appeared last year greater than those of the preceding. But an examination of these official returns showed that there could be no dependence on any inferences drawn from such imperfect data. One hon. Member drew one inference, namely, that the money value of the Exports was less; another that the money value was more,— each taking some particular article as the sole criterion of the increase or decrease. He regretted that such documents as these trade accounts should occupy the attention of the House. If arguments were to be founded on such documents, they should at least be framed on a less absurd and preposterous plan. When a statement founded on them proceeded from the throne— when his Majesty was made to speak like a Custom-house clerk—when in the midst of awful calamities and impending changes, the people, who looked forward with anxiety to the Throne and the Parliament, were mocked by statements founded upon such documents,—if the Ministers intended to alienate the people, and proclaim their inefficiency to the country, it was impossible for them to adopt a more effectual course. He valued low prices as much as any man, but he dreaded a rapid transition from high money prices to low money prices as a great evil. It was impossible not to see that the real value of the Exports of the country had been misrepresented. A fictitious and capricious value had been placed upon them, without having any standard, either in the real value of the article itself or any other value which could be put upon them. What would the House think when they were informed that the official value of the Exports from this country to Europe, as compared with the Imports for the last six years, exceeded 110,000,000l. sterling? This showed upon how fallacious and unreal a foundation these official returns were made. He could easily understand the disappointment which the country would feel when, groaning under the most urgent distress, they expected some substantively efficient measure from the Government, but were met only by a Speech from the Throne which could give any thing but satisfaction at home, and must provoke (he would almost say) the contempt of foreigners, [hear]

Mr. P. Thomson

said, if the hon. Member had brought a just accusation against his Majesty's Ministers, a much juster accusation could be brought against him. He believed the distress of the country to be great, though not universal; but however great it might be, he could not believe that a remedy for it existed in the use of language that must inflame, or that it could answer any useful purpose to proclaim any part of the House to be indifferent to the distress of the people. The hon. Member having described on a former evening his object as to the depreciation of the standard, the House now knew how to meet him, and gentlemen must beware how they aided a plan which was calculated to be a fraud on the country.

Mr. Attwood

said, he must protest against personal motives being attributed.

Mr. Thomson

said, he did not intend to impute personal motives.

Mr. Attwood

.—If any hon. Member imputes to me any measure of dishonesty or fraud it is perfectly false. [hear, and order]

The Speaker

requested the hon. Member to abstain from such observations. He felt persuaded that the hon. Member for Dover had used the observations only in the way of argument.

Mr. Thomson

said, in reference to the opinion the hon. Member was known to hold, he must repeat what he said; that he could not but conceive that a measure which would reduce the standard of the country was one calculated to effect a fraud; and he was glad of an opportunity to speak of the measure, that the House might not be led to adopt schemes of that kind. The distress occasioned by overproduction was not remediable by legislative enactments, nor could any retrenchment cut off a very great sum from the expenditure of the country. A remedy might be found in a mutation of taxation. A large proportion of the taxes pressed on the industrious classes, whilst those who were better able to bear them were exempt. The hon. Member (Mr. Attwood) had said, that any one who asserted, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Courtenay) had, that we could receive Imports from a country which prohibited our Exports, asserted what was absurd and dangerous. He (Mr. Thomson) considered, that it was equally absurd and dangerous to assert the contrary. The Imports must have been purchased either by our Exports or those of some other country. He wished the system of official values not to be abandoned, because it showed quantity more conveniently than any other mode.— He would not say more on this subject now, as many opportunities would occur when it might be more advantageously discussed.

Mr. Fyler

said, he felt himself called upon to answer the observation of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Courtenay) which implied that Trade was getting better, and that the experiment as to the Silk Trade had succeeded; by asserting that there was now the greatest distress in the Silk Trade, and that principally occasioned by the measures of last Session. Many large Manufacturers were now insolvent. He quite agreed with those who said that France had not met us half-way in our advances to promote a Free Trade, and this was a reason why it should not be continued.

Mr. Huskisson

said, he would not enter into the discussion at that late hour, though, if any thing could move him, it would be the quantity of unnecessary and incorrect matter which had been lavished on the subject.

Mr. Trant

said, he must complain of the use of the word 'fraud' in the speech of an hon. Gentleman, and said it was unfair to attribute improper motives to those Members who stood up in their places honestly to discharge their duty. He noticed this because what was said in that House went forth to the country, and he repeated that such assertions ought not to be made. He would say why his attention was called to the question of the currency. He had listened with attention to the debates, and when he found it stated that the money was accumulating in a few hands, and the general condition of the people was falling off, he thought it time for independent men to [speak out. It was a lamentable state, and it was, in the political body, what would be called in the physical a determination of blood to the head. [hear and a laugh]

Mr. Thomson

explained: when he used the term fraud, he meant not to apply it to individuals, but merely to represent that any act to depreciate the currency would be a fraud on the country.

Mr. Attwood

said, he thought all persons who were paid in a depreciated currency, had a fraud committed on them.

Motion agreed to: Accounts ordered.

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