HC Deb 11 July 1831 vol 4 cc1026-59
Lord Althorp

proceeded to submit his propositions to the Committee, relative to the duties on Wine. He said, that the first point to which he had to call the attention of the Committee was, whether or not this country had the right to make that alteration in the wine duties which he was about to propose? The treaties by which we were bound, and from which he inferred the right, were, first, the Treaty of Methuen; and, second, the Treaty of 1810. By the Treaty of 1810, and in the 26th Article, it was agreed and declared, that all the stipulations entered into between the two countries, concerning the wines of Portugal, on the one hand, and the woollens of Great Britain on the other, should remain as they were. This clause referred to the stipulations concerning wines and woollens contained in the Methuen Treaty; for by no other treaty were these subjects regulated. The 26th Article, therefore, of the Treaty of 1810, referred to the Methuen Treaty; and the question was, what were we bound to perform by the Treaty of Methuen? In the 23rd Article of the Treaty of 1810, he should remark, that a power was reserved to the two contracting parties, at the end of fifteen years, to put an end to that Treaty on giving due notice. The Treaty of 1810, only confirmed the Methuen Treaty; it did not contain, as to the trade of the two countries, any additional stipulations, and therefore, if notice was not required by the Methuen Treaty before we altered the duties, none could be required by the Treaty of 1810. In fact, there was no notice required by the Methuen Treaty. He did not deny, that by the Treaty of 1810, a notice was required to alter that Treaty, but not to alter the regulations of the Methuen Treaty. The second Article of that Treaty was this, "That is to say, that her sacred and Royal Majesty of Great Britain should, in her own name, and that of her successors, be obliged for ever hereafter to admit the wines of the growth of Portugal into Britain, so that at no time, whether there shall be peace or war between the kingdoms of Britain and France, any tiling more shall be demanded for these wines, by the name of custom or duty, or by whatsoever other title, directly or indirectly, whether they shall be imported in pipes or hogsheads, or other casks, than what shall be demanded for the like quantity or measure of French wine, deducting or abating; a third part of the custom or duty. But if at any time this deduction or abatement of customs, which is to be made as aforesaid, shall, in any manner, be prejudiced, it shall be just and lawful for her sacred and Royal Majesty of Portugal again to prohibit the woollen cloths, and the rest of the British woollen manufactures." By that Treaty, therefore, the wines of Portugal were to be admitted into this country on the payment of one-third less duty than the wines of France, subject to the penalty, if we did not admit the Portuguese wines at that rate, of Portugal prohibiting the woollen cloths of England. If we were prepared to abide by the penalty of allowing our cloths to be prohibited in Portugal, we might deal as we liked with the Portuguese wines. It was not necessary to go any further into this subject. We had a right to make the alteration by the Methuen Treaty, and if we had that right, it was not done away by the Treaty of 1810; it only confirmed the Methuen Treaty. This was not a new view of this subject, for it had frequently been made a matter of complaint that the Mothuen Treaty had been broken. In 1777 an inquiry had been instituted, and a Report made by the Privy Council to the King, and that Report took the same view, asserting that the conditions of the Methuen Treaty were only binding on us, subject to the penalty it imposed. The same view was taken by the late Mr. Pitt, in 1786, in the discussions on the Treaty of Commerce with France. Even Mr. Fox, although he opposed that Treaty, and argued in favour of Portugal, did not desire the continuation of the Treaty, or deny our power to alter the wine duties. He was convinced, therefore, that we were justified in adopting the alteration he proposed. Having thus showed the jus-lice of the measure, he would come next to the policy of the question. He was not disposed to deny, that Portugal, after the alteration, might exclude the woollens of England; but though Portugal might exclude our woollens, it did not follow, that she would. At present the cloths of other nations were admitted into the markets of Portugal, as well as those of this country, giving the latter a trifling advantage, but not equivalent to our reduction of duty on Portuguese wines. Another part of the Treaty of 1810 was to be considered. By that Treaty it was provided, that all the produce of England should be admitted into Portugal on paying an ad valorem duty of fifteen per cent less than was paid on the produce of other countries. It was deserving consideration, therefore, that Portugal, by our abandoning the Treaty of 1810, might deprive us of the advantage of the ad valorem duty of fifteen per cent. There was one article which was of great importance under this consideration; an article in which the hon. member for Worcester took a great interest—he meant the fish of Newfoundland, which were imported into Portugal at this great advantage. The fish being imported into Portugal at this advantageous rate of duty, and the fish of other countries paying a higher rate of duty, there was a great consumption of Newfoundland fish in Portugal. But it was not probable that an alteration of the duties would have a tendency to interfere with this trade. At present the Newfoundland fish sustained successfully a competition with the fish of other countries, in other foreign markets. It would be able, therefore, to compete with fish of other countries in the markets of Portugal, although it were not protected by the present tax. He was satisfied, then, that the objections which might be made to his proposition ought to have no weight with the Committee. He had referred to the objections to his proposition; he would then apply himself to state its advantages. The first advantage, then, which he expected—and he begged that it might be remembered, that he introduced the measure as one of finance—the first advantage he expected was a considerable increase of revenue. He did not think, that the measure he proposed would decrease the consumption of wine; on the contrary, he thought that the alteration would not diminish the consumption of Portuguese wines, and it would increase the consumption of French wines. He might, therefore, be authorized in taking the consumption of wine at a higher rate than the average consumption; but he would confine himself to the average consumption of the last few years. At present the duty on French wines was 7s. 3d. per gallon, the duty on Portuguese wines was 4s. 10d. and the duty on Cape wine 2s. 9d. per gallon. He intended to propose, that the duty on all wines should be 5s. 6d. per gallon, which would increase the duty on other wines, and lower the duty on French wines. He had intended that the alteration in the duty on Cape wines should be made on January 1, 1833; but on looking to the Act of Parliament by which that trade was regulated, and looking at the time which had elapsed since he had first brought forward his propositions, he meant to extend that time to January 1st, 1834. To show the Committee what was likely to be the result of the alteration, he would state, that the average number of gallons of foreign wines imported in to this country for the last five years was 5,959,587 gallons. Under the new duties this would yield a revenue of 1,638,885l. The average quantity of Cape wine imported during the last five years was 619,622 gallons, which, at 2s. 9d. a gallon, would give a revenue of 82,616l., making a total of 1,721,501l. The average produce of the present duties was 1,534,000l., and the new duties would therefore give an increase of 187,501l., but, speaking in round numbers, say 180,000l. The first advantage, then, he expected from the alteration was an increase of revenue to the amount of 180,000l. He supposed that the whole consumption of wine would continue to be only as great as at present. He did not. suppose that the addition of 8d. per gallon to the duty on Portuguese wines would be likely to decrease the consumption of those wines, while he did suppose that the large reduction of 1s. 9d. on French wines would cause an increase of the consumption of the best French wines, the price of which would be reduced. It was said, he knew, that nearly the whole, or at least four-fifths of the best French wines already came to this country. That was easily said, and he had no doubt that the same thing was said in 1824, when we then reduced the duty on them; but the consequence of that reduction was greatly to increase the consumption. The first advantage, then, on which he calculated, without taking into his account any probable increase of consumption, but only assuming that the consumption would remain the same, and taking, therefore, as the basis of his calcu- lation, the average quantity of wine lately imported, was, that his proposition would increase the revenue 180,000l. There was another financial advantage which would result from the plan—it was indeed a very slight one—but it was not to be despised—it would introduce a great simplification into the mode of collecting the revenue. He admitted, that it was a trifling advantage, still it ought not to be overlooked. The other advantage of the measure, not connected with the revenue, was, that it would open and extend the intercourse between this country and France. This, he considered to be the great advantage of the measure. He was happy to say, that at the present moment there was little or no probability of any war between the two countries; but if there were one thing more than another calculated to make a war unpopular, and make its evils apparent to the people, it was an extensive commercial connection. Considering, therefore, the circumstances of the two countries—that France was blessed with a fertile soil, and that we abounded in manufactures, and that there were no two countries on the globe better calculated to play into each other's hands—considering all the circumstances of the two countries, it was a matter of astonishment and regret, that the commercial intercourse between them was so small. On this account he thought, whenever circumstances would admit of it, the Legislature ought to facilitate this intercourse. It was a great advantage, then, in a commercial point of view, that it would extend our intercourse with France; and, considering the extensive civilization of that country, there could not be, perhaps, a more advantageous traffic for this country. That was its commercial advantage; its political advantage would be still greater. He was not prepared to do anything inconsistent with the situation of this country, or in violation of the public faith; but he should be happy so to extend our relations with France as to prevent the danger of war. War was certainly one of the greatest of evils. From whatever cause it might be undertaken, there was no country which did not suffer greatly from war. It might be necessary to vindicate the national honour—it might be undertaken to secure commercial advantages; but from whatever cause undertaken, nobody could deny, that the advantages of war were far more than counterbalanced by its miseries and its misfortunes. By introducing and extending a greater commercial intercourse between the two nations, it would be more for the interest of both not to go to war; commercial intercourse would make their mutual interest evident to the people of both countries, and would tend to divert from both the evils of war. He brought, forward his proposition only as a financial measure, to obtain an increase of revenue to the amount of 180,000l.; but it was attended with these additional advantages, that the price of wine would not be increased, that the commercial intercourse between two great and neighbouring countries would be increased, that their peaceable and friendly dispositions would be strengthened, and the probabilities of war much lessened. The noble Lord concluded, by placing in the hands of the chairman of the Committee a Resolution to the effect, that all the Customs' Duties now payable on wine should cease, and the Act imposing them be repealed; and that in lieu thereof there should be paid on all wines imported, except the wines of the Cape of Good Hope, a duty of 5s. 6d. per gallon, and that the duty on wines imported from the Cape of Good Hope should be 2s. 9d. till the 1st of January, 1834, and after that day the duty on that should be 5s. 6d. per gallon.

Mr. George Robinson

requested the attention of the House to a few remarks which he had to offer on the subject now before them, the importance of which no one who had not paid the same attention to it which he had done, could be aware of. The noble Lord might, perhaps, be justified in asserting that the proposition which he had made was not an infraction of the Methuen Treaty, or of any existing treaty with Portugal; he should not, however, though he did not agree in that opinion, stay to discuss it; not because his own opinions were not decided, but because he would leave that point to persons who were better qualified to do justice to it than he was. He meant to confine his remarks to the commercial policy; and if ever a proposition had been made at variance with sound policy, it was that of the noble Lord. He begged Gentlemen would not be led away by the statements of the noble Lord, for he was sure he should satisfy the Committee that the proposition would be injurious. He would say, for one, that if ever there was a financial or ministerial proposition, which was incon- sistent with the principles of true policy, it was that of the noble Lord. He entreated those hon. Members who had been led away by commercial theories to go with him in the arguments which he was about to adduce, and afterwards to act upon their own judgment. The noble Lord would probably not acquiesce in the view which he was disposed to take of what would be the probable conduct of Portugal in case this equalization of the duty were to take place, but yet he would endeavour to show what that country would do. In the first place he must remark, that he was aware of what had been stated to be the disadvantages which would result from an infraction of the Methuen Treaty; but even if that treaty did not exist, he would show, that the policy adopted by the noble Lord would lead to consequences, worse than those which would have resulted from the financial measures which were brought forward last Session, and which the noble Lord was induced afterwards to abandon and withdraw; and he could not but hope a similar effect would be produced on the noble Lord with respect to the present measure, after he had heard the objections which existed. The noble Lord had urged, in favour of his proposed reduction of the duty on French wines, that such a reduction would be very much to the advantage of this country; but the noble Lord might have referred the House, had he been so disposed, to some facts, which would have rather abated his expectations as to the probability of such a result being produced in France. In the year 1825, the Government reduced the duty on French wines by 7s., or nearly one-half: and the argument urged in favour of that reduction was, that it would produce an extended importation of the manufactures of this country into France. Would the House believe that the noble Lord had overlooked the fact, that although, the imports from France, since the last reduction of the duty on the wine of that country, had increased from 1,500,000l. to 3,159,000l., the exports had diminished during the same period from 1,124,000l. to 643,000l.; and let the noble Lord, before he effected any further reduction in the duty, bear the fact which he now stated in mind. He must tell the noble Lord, and those who advocated with him the doctrine that the exports from one country depended upon the imports into it, that they advo- cated a fallacious doctrine, for the imports had no other effect than that of facilitating the conveyance of the productions of the country. What was the state of Portugal, not to speak of her political condition? and what was the fact with respect to her trade with this country? Why he would contend, and he could prove it, that the trade of Portugal with England had been for the last two or three centuries the most profitable trade which we had carried on with any part of the world, in proportion to its extent. To come to facts, he would state what was the relative amount of the exports and imports between that country and this, and then leave the House to form its own judgment. The present amount of the exports from this country to Portugal was 2,500,000l. in round numbers, and the amount of imports was 500,000l. In point of fact, this country possessed almost the exclusive supply of Portugal and she took those manufactures which France shut her ports against. He did not know whether, if the proposed alteration in the duty were made, the present Government of Portugal would make commercial reprisals. He should rather suppose, that under the rule of Don Miguel none would be attempted; but, if ever a Constitutional party gained the ascendancy in that country, the House might depend upon it that they would be the first to recommend a system of such commercial restrictions as would hazard the present advantages derived from the trade, and probably cause it to be altogether lost to the country. The import of wine was altogether a subordinate branch of trade, and, when the noble Lord talked of raising a revenue of 180,000l. by this measure, he must be allowed to observe, that he had not the smallest objection to allow the noble Lord to raise the revenue as high as he could, but why could he not do it by imposing a proportionate additional duty on the wines of both countries? Why, after he had shown that the policy of France was, to exclude British manufactures, and that Portugal was an ancient and firm Ally—why should the noble Lord make such a sacrifice to France at the expense of Portugal? Nor could he imagine what the noble Lord saw in the moral or political circumstances of the country which could induce him to tax the drinkers of Port, Sherry, and Madeira, to the amount of 8d. or 10d. a gallon additional, while he took off the duty at the same rate from Burgundy, Claret, and Champagne. Besides, the interest of Ireland was materially connected with the question now at issue, inasmuch as it exported a large quantity of butter, and other articles, to Portugal, which must, probably, henceforward, find a market elsewhere. No person, he believed, would be prepared to contend, that it was not highly desirable that such a country should not be deprived of so opportune a vent for its surplus produce. No Government, indeed, could employ itself in a manner more beneficial to its people than by finding a vent in foreign markets for the surplus manufactures of the country; and if, hitherto, the Government of this country had neglected to provide by reciprocity treaties with France such a market, he should be too happy to see that neglect repaired, and an endeavour made to get access to the immense markets which were to be obtained in that country for British manufactures. All the countries for whom we had made concessions had met those concessions with restrictions, and therefore he recommended making none unless by treaties of reciprocity. The trade to Portugal, which was now to be sacrificed, was more than equal in value to the whole trade to France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Prussia. All these countries prohibited our commodities. Portugal received them, and the consequence was, that our trade with Portugal exceeded the trade to all these countries united. Considering the great importance of this subject, he begged the noble Lord not to press the question. The noble Lord had, therefore, better stick to the present rate of duty on French wines until he could make terms with France to concede the same commercial intercourse to us which was enjoyed by America, and by other countries. With respect to the other topic of the noble Lord's speech; namely, the fish trade with Portugal—he must say, that he spoke feelingly, for he represented a large commercial town, and was himself, being a mercantile man, greatly interested in the maintenance of the trade with Portugal; he therefore could not but deprecate any attempt to hazard that trade. Indeed, he could not imagine how the noble Lord could suppose that Portugal would continue to import the fish of one of the Colonies of this country, at a rate of duty which gives those who carried on that trade a monopoly of the market, Why, he must repeat, should Portugal be expected to continue to England this monopoly, when she found her wines are placed on a level to compete with those of France and other countries? He felt no hostility towards the Government, but he entreated the Ministers to consider the importance of this subject, particularly with regard to the interest which the Newfoundland fishermen had in preserving the trade. He must beg to inform the noble Lord, that, though he had acknowledged the interest of the question to that Colony, he had not gone far enough, for he might have stated, that the very existence of the Colony, which was the real fact, depended on its continuing to supply Portugal with fish. By the present regulations we were secured the exclusive supply of that market with salt fish. The noble Lord said, that our salt fish might compete in the markets of Portugal with the salt fish of Norway and America, as it competed with that in Italy and Spain; but the fact was, that the rate of duty kept all other fish but that caught at Newfoundland from the Portuguese markets. Even if the duty were equal, the consequence would be—certainly, we should still compete with other foreigners—but it would be by lowering our prices to theirs, which would be the ruin of Newfoundland. If America, Norway, or Denmark, should be able to compete with Newfoundland in supplying Portugal with fish, that Colony would soon be reduced to a state of pauperism. Another consideration was the number of ships employed in the catching and curing the fish; amounting to no less than 150 square-rigged vessels, which would be thrown out of employment by other countries obtaining a c6mmand of the Portuguese market. The next consideration was, how far the reduction in the wine-duty would be beneficial to the consumers here, and he contended that it was of no consequence to the class of persons who usually drank French wines, if they paid 6d. a bottle more or less for their Claret or Burgundy, nor were there any petitions on the Table of the House, complaining of the inordinate price of those wines. The noble Lord would ruin the Newfoundland trade; and the trade which the noble Lord wished to establish with France would be carried on in French ships; and thus our shipping also would be ruined, in order to give French wines cheap to our Clubhouses. For this nobody petitioned, and nobody would thank the noble Lord for the alteration. The noble Lord might avoid all these evils, and get a revenue of 220,000l. instead of 180,000l., by placing an additional duty of 8d. per gallon on all foreign wines. He recommended the noble Lord to do this. The noble Lord was, perhaps, wrong in expecting an increase of trade with France. Certainly, after the reduction of duty in 1824, the importation of wine from that country had increased to 762,000 gallons; but in 1829 it was only 474,000 gallons; in 1830, only 408,000 gallons; and up to January, 1831, it was 337,000 gallons. This shewed, he thought, that there was no disposition on the part of the people to give up the consumption of Port. Nearly all the good wines of France were already brought to the English market, and therefore the trade with that country would not be extended. The hon. Member recapitulated his chief arguments against the alteration in the duty, and concluded by animadverting on the fallacy of relying on this concession to France for any extension of the commercial intercourse between the two countries, or as a mode of averting any probability which might exist of a war breaking out. He recommended the Government to abstain from making any alterations in the existing relations between Portugal and France and this country, and to look forward to a period when those arrangements could be made with them which should have a firmer basis than their present unsettled condition could lead any one to expect that any alterations made at present would possess.

Mr. Cressett Pelham

considered the present a very improper period for the alteration of the wine duties, on the ground, that the change would be giving to France an advantage for which she was not likely to give us an equivalent. We had already done too much to encourage the produce of other countries. France had been our enemy, and was still our powerful rival, and we ought not to advance her interest, the more particularly when it could not be done without prejudice to ourselves and our ancient Allies. He objected also to the measure, which would have the effect of raising the duties on wine. Some time ago it was thought expedient to reduce these duties, and the present attempt to again raise them would be to stultify our own proceedings.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

felt it necessary to offer a few remarks in reply to what had fallen from the hon. member for Worcester. The hon. Member objected to the proposed duties, on the ground that they would strike at the root of a trade carried on for many years with great advantage to this country; and that to do so would be a very poor return to Portugal for all the advantages which England had derived from the almost exclusive possession of the trade with that country. On looking at the arguments of the hon. Member on this point, he owned he could attach little importance to his acquaintance either with our political or our commercial relations with that country; for he was prepared to show, that if ever there was any trade boasting of reciprocal advantages to two countries, the trade with Portugal was not that one, and that Portugal had never shown, that she felt the trade with this country to be advantageous to her. That she had derived advantage from it was, indeed, unquestionable, but that this country had ever done so, he most distinctly denied; for whilst, on our part, the compact which was to secure mutual benefit had been religiously adhered to, Portugal on her's, had endeavoured, in a variety of ways, to deprive us of those advantages which we had a right to expect in return, and up to the present time, all remonstrances or negotiations on our part to obtain those advantages to which we were entitled, had failed of producing any change in her conduct. He should follow the hon. Gentleman, in dividing the subject of our commercial relations with Portugal into two parts; for they could only be considered in this with reference to the motion before the Committee. First, the particular relations established for a special purpose by the Methuen Treaty of 1703; and then our general commercial intercourse, as regulated by successive treaties in 1654 and 1810. And, first, with regard to the Methuen Treaty, which was separate and distinct from all our other commercial connexions with Portugal, it was therein simply stipulated, that the wines of Portugal should be admitted into Great Britain at one-third less duty than French wines, on condition that the woollens of Great Britain should be admitted into Portugal; and that if, at any time, this proportion of duty was changed to the disadvantage of Portugal, she might again prohibit our woollen cloths. Such was that celebrated treaty; but the policy of it, it was not then his business to notice; indeed, the hon. Member did not defend it. All he would say respecting it was, that it had been condemned by every writer of any note on questions of this sort, by Mr. Hume, by Dr. Adam Smith, and that the latter actually inserts it in his work, as a specimen of the worst class of measures of commercial legislation, and holds it up as an example of the folly and absurdity of such conventions. But such as it was, whether advantageous or the reverse, he was prepared to show, that in consequence of the want of faith on the part of Portugal, in the observance of those other stipulations of other Treaties, on which the general commercial intercourse of the two countries rested, England never could have enjoyed the supposed advantages to which she was entitled under it. The hon. Member who was so loud in his praises of the benefits of this treaty, seemed wholly to have forgotten the disadvantages under which our trade with Portugal had so long laboured. He forgot the monopoly allowed to the Oporto Wine Company. He was afraid, indeed, that this subject was not much known by many hon. Members. Were hon. Members aware, that by the treaty of 1654, it was stipulated, that our trade should suffer no impediment, and yet that, in 1749, the Oporto Wine Company was established, with privileges almost equal to those belonging to Royalty itself? Did they know, that this very act was in hostility to our trade? Did they know that parties purchasing wines for any other market might purchase them as they liked, but that the wines purchased for the English market must be with the sanction of that Company, from whose decision there was no appeal—that this Company had the right of saying what wine should be purchased by us, or what should not, and the only option the purchaser had was, to take those wines, or not to purchase at all? And this at a time when it was well known, that Portuguese wines were admitted with us at a duty of one-third less than those of France. As to the privileges of this Company, he would state, as many were not acquainted with them, that it was placed as it were above the law; it was independent of all tribunals, great or small, and in no case, or on any account, was a Judge to take cognizance of what it did, or was it in any way accountable to any parties but their successsors in office. There had been some modifications of this treaty since then, but the principle of hostility to our trade was still the same. He could cite many authorities to show the disadvantage under which this country laboured in consequence of this conduct of Portugal, but he would content himself with that of Mr. Huskisson, who, in the last Session, stated, that the effect of those regulations of the Oporto Company was, to raise the wines of Portugal 15l. per tun in this country. Representations had been made from time to time by this Government on the subject to Portugal, but without effect. He would refer to that excellent report made as to the difficulties under which our trade with Portugal labours, which was laid on the Table a short time ago, on the motion of his hon. friend, the member for Wootton Bassett. In that report, hon. Members might see a full and clear statement of the difficulties to which we were subjected in our trade with Portugal. They would there find described, in the strong language of the Lords of the Privy Council for Trade, such a system of oppression, to our commerce, and of breach of faith of the solemn engagements of that Power towards us, as, he believed, was unparalleled in the history of civilized countries. And were these complaints unattended to? No such thing. Representation followed upon representation—negotiations followed negotiations—but in vain. The hon. Gentleman had referred to Mr. Pitt—but how did Mr. Pitt act? In 1787, when he proposed an alteration in the duty on French wines, he referred to the negotiations then pending with Portugal, and expressed his determination, that unless Portugal relaxed in her commercial regulations with respect to this country, unless she admitted British goods upon more favourable terms, and above all, unless the gave up the monopoly of the Oporto Wine Company, he would introduce a measure for the purpose of reducing the duty on all foreign wines. If there were any doubt of Mr. Pitt's intentions in this respect, they would be removed at once, by his statement to Mr. De Pinto, the Portuguese Minister, to whom he expressed his firm determination to take that step, if the Portuguese government persevered. Negotiations were carried on this subject till the. death of the Queen of Portugal, and they were afterwards interrupted by the breaking out of the French war in that country; but no one who had read Mr. Pitt's speeches, or, above all, the correspondence carried on under his directions with the Court of Portugal could doubt, that it was his intention, if Portugal did not give up her regulations as to our trade, to do away with the duties in her favour, and to equalize them on all wines. This, he thought, was a complete answer to the statement of the hon. Member with respect to Mr. Pitt: but this was not all that was done by this country to induce Portugal to alter her regulations. In 1810, a demand was made of redress of the grievances under which our trade suffered, particularly by the monopoly of the Oporto Company; and in the year 1813 instructions were sent out to our Ambassador, to state that, unless the Portuguese government gave up the objectionable regulations, this country would put her trade with Portugal on a different footing. The communication made on that occasion by the Ambassador of a Government of which more than one Gentleman opposite was a member, was as follows: "His Majesty's Ambassador is authorized to state to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Portugal, that, unless full satisfaction is given to his Majesty's subjects for the impediments they have suffered in their trade, particularly those opposed by the Wine Company of Oporto—unless that Company be abolished or placed on a very different footing—unless his Majesty's subjects be allowed, before the next vintage, to get their wine, brandy, and vinegar, when and where they please, his Majesty is fully determined to do that which he is warranted in doing by the treaty of 1703, and which he threatened to do in 1787—to introduce a measure to Parliament for the purpose of encouraging the importation of the wines of other countries. It is determined to do this in order to bring Portugal to a sense of its duty, and induce it to give the subjects of his Majesty those advantages which they have a right to expect from existing treaties." This proved that, at that period at least, the Government of this country was determined not to allow its treaties with Portugal to be violated with impunity. Had anything been done since on this subject by Portugal? Nothing, he would answer, but some slight modification of the regula- tions of the Oporto Wine Company, which left the principle complained of still untouched. No wine is, up to this hour, allowed to leave Portugal for this country, unless it is marked with the brand of the Company; and it is, in this way, subjected to every species of imposition. Now, he would ask, what course was left, for his Majesty's Ministers to adopt? Were they, then, to recommence the negotiations of 1756 or 1787, or 1810 or 1813, or rather ought they not to adopt such measures as would effectually remove the ground of complaint? What was the risk the country ran in doing the latter? What was the penalty it would have to pay, for departing from the principle of the Methuen Treaty, as Portugal had already done? The only penalty was, that Portugal might prohibit the importation, not of our woollen goods exclusively, but of all woollen goods, in which ours would, of course, be included. But how would this affect us? The whole amount of the declared value of woollen goods exported from this country to Portugal in 1828 was only 164,000l., which was rather less than in former years. The declared value, which in this instance was more than the official value of the woollens exported in the last year, was 214,000l. Compare this with the whole value of our woollens exported, which amounted last year to 5,530,000l., and then the House would see how small was the portion which we should lose compared with our whole exports of this branch of our manufactures. This would be the whole of our loss under the Methuen Treaty, supposing Portugal was to exclude all woollen imports—a course which, for her own sake, he could not suppose she would adopt. He would now come to other objections of the hon. member for Worcester, as to what Portugal might do by the treaty of 1810. By that treaty, our manufactures were to be received at an ad valorem duty of fifteen per cent. But that treaty was to be taken by itself, and not as a part of the Methuen Treaty; the article of it in which the Methuen Treaty was included, left it open for revision, while the other parts were to remain in force for fifteen years, and these might be abandoned by either party giving the other a year's notice. The Methuen Treaty did not give us an iota more claim to have our goods favourably received in Portugal than did this Treaty of 1810. But the hon. mem- ber for Worcester had observed, that we were considerable gainers by the trade to Portugal, because that country consumed vast quantities of our manufactures. Of course Portugal must do so, because we take a large proportion of her produce at so much lower a rate of duty than the produce of other countries. But, even this was incorrect, for, after all, to what did our exports to Portugal amount? He held in his hand an account of the official value of exports to that country for some years, and so far from showing that the trade with that country was improving, it showed directly the reverse. Taking Portugal separate from the Brazils, these Returns proved, that our trade was on the decline with that country, at any rate, as far as our exports were concerned. In the year 1815, the total amount exported to Portugal, including Madeira, &c. was 2,933,000l. This, in 1828, had dwindled down to 1,018,000l., and in 1829, to not more than 1,200,000l. To call such a trade, then, as the hon. Gentleman had done, the most valuable and the most important trade we possess, was, he contended, an abuse of terms. Portugal and Brazil might formerly have been of importance to us, but Portugal, as it stands, could never, with reference to our general trade, be otherwise than an unimportant and insignificant customer. He would come, however, to the argument used by the hon. member for Worcester, that Portugal admits our fish at a lower duty than that of any other country. The hon. Member had dwelt at considerable length on the benefits which we derive from this favourable admission of an article of such extensive consumption with the Portuguese merchant. He was far from underrating the advantages of this trade. There could be no doubt that a large quantity of fish is exported from Newfoundland to Portugal. The total amount of fish export-ed from Newfoundland in 1830 was788,000 quintals, of which Portugal took 300,000—a large proportion, it was true; but if Portugal were to do anything so impolitic, and so unpopular as it would be amongst its own subjects, as to increase the duty on our fish, we should only be placed on an equality with other countries in that market, and we should not suffer under any great disadvantage. But the hon. Member who had urged this objection, had passed over without notice the argument of his noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that although the Newfoundland fish is not on an equal footing with the fish of other countries in the Portuguese market, yet it enters into successful competition with the fish of Norway and the United States, in the ports of Italy, and other places. If, therefore, the duty on English fish is increased in Portugal—and supposing that even now that country takes no fish but ours, we should only have to enter into the same competition in that market with the foreigner, which we are now obliged to do in others. The price was now regulated by the competition, and it would be so then; and he was sure, that we should be as successful in the contest with other nations in the Lisbon market, as we now were in the markets of other countries. We certainly might lose something in the event alluded to; but it was probable, that we should not lose much. There was nothing to prevent the English merchant, who now takes the fish to the Italian market, from carrying it to Lisbon; and he certainly would do so if the rate of profit were much larger in the latter market than in the former. He thought, therefore, that it was perfectly clear, that we had little or nothing to fear from the effect of competition on this point. We should not be placed on a more unfavourable footing than other countries; for it was not in the power, even if it were in the desire, of Portugal to do so. All she could do, without violating the Treaty of 1810, would be, to lower the duty on foreign fish to the rate levied on our fish; and even if she had the power of raising it, he did not think that Portugal would be induced to increase the duty on fish to a higher rate than was now charged on that imported from Newfoundland; because, an impost of this nature would be most unpopular with the people who were the great consumers. The tax would not fall upon the seller, but, as a matter of course, upon the buyer. The hon. Gentleman said, that, from the influence of our Government, Don Miguel might be prevented from increasing the duty on fish; but, he added, if a Constitutional Government were established, that a larger tax would instantly be imposed. Now, when an attempt of this kind was made in the Cortes, such a clamour was raised against it, that the Government was compelled to abandon it. A contrary course had been one of the means by which the Sovereigns of the Braganza family had maintained their popularity with the great body of the people. He remembered reading an account of the triumphant entrance of the Queen of Portugal into the capital of her dominions, in 1788, and, on that occasion, she was hailed with the greatest enthusiasm and joy by the populace. He would ask, what was the occasion of this? Why, she had some time before made a reduction in the charges on the fisheries and their produce. He was satisfied, that no government in that country, which at all regarded public opinion, would increase the duty on the introduction of an article of such high importance to the great body of the people. The next objection of the hon. Gentleman was, that, by this measure, we were sacrificing a profitable trade with Portugal, in order to reduce the duty on French wines, from which we could get no corresponding advantage. The hon. Gentleman dwelt on the large import of our woollens into Portugal, but he (Mr. P. Thomson) was convinced that, as far as the Treaty of 1703 was concerned, we derived no benefit, and that the demand for that article would not diminish there. He doubted whether we should make even the least sacrifice by this measure, for if it were the interest of the government of Portugal to impose a duty on our woollens, he doubted whether they would not do so now. He now came, therefore, to the hon. Member's argument about France; he asked, why did we propose to make an unproductive sacrifice? He. thought he had already shewn, that an equalization of the duties would not be attended with a sacrifice; but the hon. Member contended, that, before we made these reductions on French wines, we ought to enter into a treaty, with a view to induce France to make a corresponding reduction of the duty on English goods. What, said he, has been the effect upon that country of your previous reductions? Have you found that your goods have met with greater favour, or that your exports to her have increased? And he had stated, that since the former reduction of duties upon French commodities, though our imports from that country might have increased, while our exports thither had diminished to a great extent. Now, if our imports had increased, how did the hon. Gentleman suppose, that the French manufacturers or merchants were paid? He could not agree in the conclusions at which the hon. Gentleman seemed to have arrived, but he should be most happy if he should find it to be the case, that the French had given us 1,500,000l. of imports for our 600,000l. of exports. He certainly thought, that the old doctrine of the mercantile system had been abandoned by all commercial men; and he was surprised that the hon. Member should at this time of day, have set to work to study the celebrated work published in the early part of the last century, called "The British Merchant." He had thought that no one now entertained the idea, that the gain or loss of a country in trade must be calculated by the excess or diminution of the exports over the imports. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that it would be better for France if she would take our manufactures directly from ourselves, instead of forcing us to send them, in the first instance, to America, to purchase gold. We are the buyers, and we purchase the produce of France with the articles which we obtain in exchange for our cottons or woollens. If France does not take the value of our exports directly from us, she takes it from countries to which we export. But, he would ask, who were the losers by this system? Did not France thus compel herself to pay all the expense of a double freight? He perfectly agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that nothing could be so absurd on the part of France, as the commercial policy that she had adopted, in going to a great distance for that which she could obtain near at hand, and consequently at a lower rate, or making; at home what she could purchase at a cheaper rate of her neighbours. The conduct of France, however, in not consulting her own interest in taking goods where she could get them cheapest, was no fault of ours, nor should it operate as an argument against our taking her exports, or in favour of our following an unwise course. This was no consideration for us; for it was our interest to take her commodities, if we could get them cheaper from her than elsewhere, and to let her merchants take the payment as they please, and in the way they think most advantageous to them. The hon. Member had contended, that it would have been infinitely better to have entered into some negotiation with France, on a principle of reciprocity, than to legislate at once on the subject. But to negociate, or to make any attempt to negociate on this subject, in the situation in which this country now stands, would be he was convinced perfectly vain, and would be attended with numberless inconveniencies. Thanks to the policy introduced with so much success by his late ever-to-be-lamented friend, Mr. Huskisson, England was far beyond other countries as regarded her commercial policy, and had removed many of those fetters that restrained her trade to foreign nations. He perfectly agreed with his late right hon. friend, that, in offering to enter into negotiation on the subject of commerce, other nations would suspect that we were actuated by sinister motives; whilst, by adopting a liberal commercial policy, we should remove many of the prejudices that unhappily prevailed on the subject, and induce other countries to follow the example that we had set them. It was only by adopting a liberal system of commercial policy ourselves, without making it a matter of bargain with them, that we could convince other nations that we really were in earnest in our opinions, and that our recommendations were founded on a feeling of mutual sincerity. He had no doubt, that, in a very short time, other nations would see the advantage of following our example. It was on these grounds that the Ministers had taken the course which it had adopted. If they were again to attempt to negociate on the subject of our commerce, what would be the probable result? Why, after long and repeated attempts to overreach one another, some understanding might be come to—some bargain might be made—some Methuen Treaty might be concluded, of which, at some future period, this country would have to repent. He had no doubt that if we made such a treaty even on apparently the most advantageous terms, in the course of a few years circumstances would arise, that would render the treaty a clog to our commercial prosperity. By adopting the other course, we left ourselves free and unfettered, and obliged other countries, whatever might be their opinions, if they wished to profit by our relaxations in their favour, whether they would or not, to depart from their restrictive system. Sell they could not, unless they would buy, and the more we took from them, the more they must receive from us. It was true, that the policy which France had pursued on subjects of this nature for the last five years had not been attended with any advantage to her. There were some hon. Gentlemen who, no doubt, conscientiously, although, in his opinion, unwisely, approved of restrictions on trade, thinking that attempts should be made to grow every article at home that is consumed in a country—persons who think it better that 100l. should be given for an article produced at home, than 50l. for the same article of foreign produce. He would beg earnestly to intreat those gentlemen to look at the effects of that system in France. Let them there read the results of the prohibitive system. A commission was appointed in 1826 to inquire into the condition of the manufacturers of iron, cotton, and sugar, in that country; and the report which it made was drawn up by parties favourable to the restrictive system. The evidence was taken from the manufacturers themselves, in whose favour it was introduced; and yet, what was the result—that commerce flourishes, that profits are high, that manufactures prosper? No such thing; on the contrary universal complaints of ruined industry, of lost capital, of high prices without high profits. One of the iron-masters stated, that his profits were greater before the system than since; another explained, that every article of his machinery cost three times as much as in England. By the absurd attempt to raise iron, one of the first necessaries of life, wood, for fuel, advanced from three francs to seven, and eight in some departments. "It is in vain,'' said the cotton manufacturer, "that you attempt to protect me, whilst I am obliged to pay to the ironmasters for my works treble what the cotton manufacturers pay in England." "It is useless," said the iron-master, "to protect me, whilst I must pay for my wood three times as much as the English manufacturer has to pay for his coals;" and the proprietor of wood rejoined, "your protection is to me worthless, since, though I sell dearer, I must buy dearer too, and I am no ways the gainer." Nor was this all. There was not only no greater profit, but there was a positive loss to all. In many manufactories in France, large capitals had been employed, and ultimately lost, from speculators having imagined that high prices necessarily implied great profits. A considerable capital had been thrown away under the mistaken notion—that most grievous of errors—that profits must be in proportion to price, instead of being, as they are in reality, in pro- portion to cheapness; but whilst this system had proved so fatal to the very parties for whose peculiar advantage it was introduced, what had been its effect upon other branches of industry in that great country? Let the House observe its consequences in the agricultural part of France, and more especially the wine districts of that country. A report was sometime ago drawn up by a commission appointed by winegrowers of the department of the Gironde, in which it was stated, that the greatest distress was occasioned by these restrictions. He would refer to it as a proof of the disastrous consequences of the restrictive policy; and yet more, as a proof of the right feeling which prevailed upon this subject amongst a large portion of the inhabitants of France. The wine interest was by far the most important in that country; it employed more than 3,000,000 of people, more than one-tenth of the whole population; and occupied nearly 5,000,000 of cultivated acres. He should not trouble the Committee with the extract which he meant to read, if he did not think that it would be satisfactory for them to hear the course pursued by the Government justified in more eloquent language than he could use, and if it were not, in his opinion, the most perfect argument in favour of the policy proposed by his Majesty's Ministers; the report said, "What, then, is the most immediate consequence of the prohibitive system, or, in other words, of monopoly? The country which is governed by it cannot sell its productions to the foreigner. Thus, then, it falls back upon itself; and to the impossibility of selling its surplus, is united the necessity of paying dearer for what it wants. Our industry, in order to become fruitful, demanded neither the favour of a monopoly, nor that multitude of artifices and props with which other legislators have burthened their countries. A prudent freedom of commerce, a political economy founded in nature, in agreement with civilization, in harmony with all true interests; such alone did it require. Permitted to follow its natural course, it would have extended itself over the France of 1814, as it did over that of 1789; it would have formed the richest branch of its agriculture; it would have caused a stream of life and wealth to circulate, both in its natal soil, and in that of the whole kingdom; it would have drawn to our shores the commerce of the world; and France, instead of forcing itself with difficulty into a manufacturing country, would have naturally and necessarily regained an incontestable superiority as an agricultural kingdom. The contrary system has prevailed. The ruin of one of the most important departments of France; the distress of the surrounding departments; the general decay of the South; an immense population attacked in its means of existence; an enormous capital rendered useless; the prospect of being unable to levy any taxes upon our impoverished and reduced soil; an immense prejudice in favour of those departments to whom we are tributary; a rapid decrease, in the consumption of those articles which are still profitable, in the North; the general stagnation of commerce, with all the disasters which follow it; all the losses which it causes, and all the injuries, material, political, and moral, which inevitably accompany it; lastly, the destruction of all our ancient commercial relations, which become daily more irreparable—other nations enriching themselves by our losses, and developing their system of commerce on the wreck of ours. Such are the bitter fruits of the system of which we have been the principal victims." Such was the language of those millions of people on this system. Was it not clear, then, that whatever attempts might be made by the interested or the ignorant to keep up the restrictive system in France, sentiments such as these must, in the end, prevail? By what the Government proposed, it removed the ready answer hitherto made to this great interest. He himself had heard it urged; "You complain," say the exclusionists, "that you find no vent for your produce, because our laws do not allow you to take British produce in return; but will the English receive your wines? No; they charge them a heavier duty than those of other countries; that is the real cause of your not finding a market." The Government then has removed this objection. It says to the French, "we will buy of you upon the same terms as of others; if you refuse to allow us to pay you, it is your own fault." By this alteration, then, we should give strength to the opponents of the prohibitive system in France. We should place weapons in their hands with which they may combat their antagonists, and this course, he might safely say, was far preferable to any attempts at negotiation. He had endeavoured to reply to the arguments and to facts of the hon. Gentleman. He was aware that much more might be said on the subject; but he had already too long troubled the Committee; of its decision, however, he entertained no doubt. The measure proposed lay the Government was simply, to resume the privileges conceded to Portugal, paying the penalty which such resumption drew with it. The payment of it could be attended with no injurious consequences to our trade with that country, whilst it could not fail, in his opinion, to be most beneficial to the general commerce of the empire.

Mr. Attwood

disclaimed any intention of entering into all the arguments of this important question, but he must protest against the Government hazarding a certain beneficial trade for a contingent advantage to the revenue. The noble Lord's measure amounted in fact to a proposition to make 180,000l. by the introduction of a new duty; and while he admitted, that if it were found absolutely necessary for the sake of the revenue to impose this additional tax of 180,000l., he knew no object on which it could be more properly raised than wine; yet he considered that the course adopted by the noble Lord on the occasion had been extremely tortuous and indirect. In effect it was an attempt to transfer a part of the duties payable now on French wines to those of Portugal, to an extent highly prejudicial to the staple of that country. It was too much to expect that this old ally of England should be content with an arrangement of this kind, which had been entered into on the express condition that she should give a correspondent preference to our woollen goods, then in the infancy of their manufacture. There was another objection he entertained to the Resolution, which was, that the duty on the colonial wine of this country, labouring as it was under the effects of violent competition, was about to be, instead of diminished, increased to the extent of 6d. per gallon, making the whole immediate duty 2s. 9d. per gallon. The sequel was to all concerned in that trade more alarming, as it was intended to entail on our colonial wine grown in the year 1831 exactly the same rate of duty as the foreign wines was to pay. In a financial point of view, the proposition went to add 180,000l. to the revenue; in a commercial point of view, it went to transfer to France part of the wine trade of Portugal, and the whole wine trade of the Cape of Good Hope; and, in fact, it carried further the wild theory of free trade than it ever had been carried before. It proceeded too upon the absurd supposition, that all men would, without reference to any other consideration, always buy in the cheapest market. He did not assent to that doctrine and therefore he believed that all measures founded on it, and this among the rest, would tail. He did not anticipate the results expected by the noble Lord. The plan really was a measure for the introduction of anew tax, though it had been set forth by the noble Lord, that in consequence of his judicious shuffling of the duties, there would be no additional burthen imposed upon the people. The effect of the levying 5s. 6d. a gallon on all wines, French and Portuguese, and Spanish, was to fix a duty of 100 per cent upon one wine, and fifty per cent upon another, which accordingly acted in the one case as a bounty, and in the other as a discouragement; the bounty being given to the wines of France, and the discouragement to the wines of our own colonies. He protested against the alteration proposed to be made with respect to Cape Wines. On an engagement of protection, capital had been embarked in this trade at the Cape of Good Hope, and nothing could, in his mind, be more unjust than to confiscate all this capital, as the Ministers had signified their intention of doing, the sentence of confiscation having been pronounced, though it was not to be carried into execution for two years. For his part, he considered, that if Ministers wanted this sum of 180,000l. they ought to obtain it by an equitable rate of taxation, imposed according to the value of the wine.

Sir J. Graham

said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had, as usual, made use of harsh terms. The hon. Gentleman had accused his noble friend (Lord Althorp) of following a distorted and tortuous course; but he was convinced that the House would agree with him in thinking that that was a most unjust description of the statement which had been made by the noble Lord, and of the conduct he had pursued. His noble friend had, in fact, at the very outset, stated what his object was:—to raise a certain sum of money, by means of a tax which would not be severely felt by the people of this country. He (Sir J. Graham) denied, that it was possible for this country to be continually receiving imports, without giving its own produce in exchange. Whether the trade carried on was direct or indirect, made no difference. If the trade was direct, then the exchange was made by simple barter; if indirect, then the people paid for foreign articles in the first instance, with money, but that money must have been obtained by the sale of their own manufactures or produce in some foreign market. He had not heard it stated, that his Majesty's Government were not justified in proposing an alteration in the wine duties, provided the revenue required an increase; and therefore the question was, not whether the proposition was a just one, but whether it was a wise one. The House he believed would agree with him in thinking, that it was very important for this country to extend her trade with France; and he was sure that the proposition of his noble friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would have that effect. It was, however, said, that the most proper method of proceeding would have been, to have formed a commercial treaty of reciprocity with France; but he begged to remind the House, that such experiments had often been tried and failed. Much time had always been lost in attempting to establish treaties of reciprocity; that course of proceeding had always given rise to great jealousy on the part of the nation with which this country treated, and after all, the object aimed at was not effected. He therefore thought it more politic, if it was for the internal interest of this country, to make concessions, to make them without proposing stipulations; and to set the sound example of throwing open trade, without demanding any reciprocal concession. If France were thus dealt with, and the duty on the first produce of her soil, which was now almost prohibitory, reduced, the intercourse between that country and this would be carried on, without jealousy on either side. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Attwood) had stated, that the capital embarked in the Cape Trade would be entirely destroyed by the present proposition. Now he wished the House to notice what the nature of that protection was. The protection on Cape wine, under the existing law, would expire in 1833, when an increase of duty would take place of 7d. on the gallon. It was not, however, the intention of Government to increase the duty on Cape wine until the year 1834, thus allowing an additional year to the persons engaged, to withdraw their capital from the trade. But how had the Cape Trade prospered under this boasted protection? He would give the House an opportunity of judging of the ease, by stating the amount of the importation of Cape wine for each year, during the last four years. In 1827, the importation of Cape wine amounted to 698,000 gallons; in 1828, to 652,000 gallons; in 1829, to 579,000 gallons; and, in 1830, to 537,000 gallons. It therefore appeared, that the present protection had not the desired effect of making the trade prosperous. But there was another strong objection to it, with respect to the revenue. It was well known, that Cape wine was used as a great menstruum for adulteration, and therefore affected the produce of the revenue arising from the wine duties. If there were timely notice given to the persons who had embarked their capital in this speculation, he could not conceive that any injury would be inflicted on them. They would then be able to withdraw their capital from a trade which was already declining, without the interference, or rather, under the fostering protection, of the Legislature. It was not intended to do this immediately: and if it were fixed by Parliament, that the plan should be brought into operation in 1834, he could not perceive that any injustice would be done to our own colonists. It had been said, that the increase of duty would create an increase of price on the article, and thus diminish the consumption; but he conceived, that the amount of duty proposed to be added to the present duty on Portuguese wine was so small, that no decrease of consumption need be feared. If the consumption continued the same, an increase of revenue of 180,000l. would take place, and the tax, at the same time, could not be felt by the consumer. The French trade in wine, it should be recollected, occupied not less than 5,000,000 of acres, and fully one-tenth of the population of France; and he could not help thinking that, as the result would be to bring a considerable share of French capital into activity, there would be corresponding results in favour of the staple trade and manufactures of this country. He conceived it therefore to be a measure of sound policy to open the trade with France; and whether the proposition was regarded as a fiscal regulation, or as a measure of political expediency, he thought it ought to meet with the sanction of the House.

Mr. Herries

said, that although the noble Lord was personally incapable of any thing tortuous or indirect in conduct, yet he did think, that the course pursued by Government in this measure, did deserve the epithets applied to it by the hon. member for Aldborough. The proposition was at first brought forward simply as a matter of finance, but afterwards it was advocated as a great question of political and commercial policy. The hon. Member then referred to the Methuen Treaty, and read the clause which permitted England to introduce French wines, without any difference between them and Portuguese, on her paying the penalty of the exclusion of her woollen goods; and contended, that although Portugal, from having originally had conditions too onerous imposed upon her, had been led, on many occasions, into conduct which demanded reprobation, yet that we had, upon the whole, derived great benefit, political and commercial, by our connection with the Peninsula; and that it was, and always had been, conceded by all former Governments, that nothing could be more impolitic than to avail ourselves of the right we possessed to depart from the treaty. Mr. Canning, for instance, he could take upon himself to say, had scouted the idea. And he begged to ask the House, if, under the present circumstances of Europe, the course pursued by Ministers was a politic course to pursue? It had been frequently debated in the late Cabinet, how, in the best, and fairest, and most amicable manner to Portugal, they could get rid of the Methuen Treaty; but never did they dream of cutting the knot after the fashion now recommended. The necessary papers had been submitted to their legal advisers; and they undoubtedly observed that, according to the provisions of the clause in question, we might set ourselves free of the treaty, by paying the penalty in the exclusion of our woollen manufactures;, but that mode, as a thing not to be contemplated between amicable parties, was at once dismissed. It had been said by hon. Members, that the amount of our woollen goods received in Portugal was very trifling—equal only to 200,000l.; but he begged the House not to view the matter in this light, but to observe the relation which Portugal, or rather, he said, the whole Peninsula, bore to the other European kingdoms, as a receptacle for our manufactures. The fact was, one-sixth of the whole amount of our exported goods were taken into the Peninsula; and would any man venture to say, that the abstraction of one-sixth of our exports would not be attended with great distress to our commercial and manufacturing interests? In the year 1825, the Ministry had discovered, that to maintain the system of high duties was only to incur continual sacrifices, and the duties were therefore reduced: but in 1830, the noble Lord wanted a sum of 180,000l., and to make it up, he resorted to the expedient of increasing the duties on wine, although they had formerly been diminished with the express view of benefitting the revenue. The consequences of adopting the present proposition of the noble Lord would be, that the consumers would be charged a higher sum than before, but the revenue would not gain in the same proportion; indeed, it was likely to be diminished. He could assure the House, that he would detain them but a short time; but he must express his surprise at the impatience thus manifested upon a most important question. He maintained, that the Ministry had adopted a wrong course with respect to Portugal. The most obvious course for them to have pursued was, to have adopted an amicable course towards that country, to which we had been so long and so closely bound by commercial treaties. He thought that a little mutual concession would have been of advantage; and that, by acting on that principle, we might have obtained all we wanted. On all the reasons connected with this subject, political, commercial, and fiscal, he thought the noble Lord could not have chosen a worse course than that which he had adopted.

Mr. Sadler

rose to address the Committee, but the impatience of hon. Members, expressed in coughing, and loud and almost general cries of "Question," completely drowned his voice whenever he attempted to speak.

Mr. Attwood

rose, and moved, that the Debate be adjourned.

Mr. Hume

thought no one could wish to have the debate protracted through another night. The hon. Member who moved the adjournment did so, he presumed, to obtain a further hearing for the cause he advocated. A more disorderly House, certainly, he had never witnessed. He wished the hon. member for Aid-borough to be heard, and if the Committee would not hear him, he would support the motion for adjourning the discussion.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

said, that it was a question of great importance to the commercial interests, and many Members connected with it wished to address the House, and he also would support the proposition for adjournment, if those Members who were opposed to the noble Lord's scheme were not allowed to be heard.

Mr. Attwood

said, that if the discussion were allowed to go on, he would not press his Motion.

Mr. Sadler

said, that he was desirous to address the Committee on this question, because he had pledged himself to do so at a meeting which was held in the City. He meant, however, to be very brief. He perceived that it was the determination of Ministers to persevere in the course of policy which had met with the reprobation of the last Parliament, and would meet, he hoped, with the reprobation of the present—he meant an anti-colonial policy, which, if pursued to any extent, would prove ruinous to the empire. The noble Lord proposed to take twenty-five per cent of duty off the luxurious beverage of the rich, and to place fifteen per cent duty on the wine drunk by the poor. The wine which it was proposed to tax was a cordial at the bed-side of sickness. The anti-colonial policy system was advocated in a book published by a right hon. Gentleman opposite, who, as he was now in the Ministry, no doubt gave all the effect he could to his own opinions. He feared that the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman had been adopted by the Ministry, from the fact, that they were now attempting to cut up the wine-growers of the Cape. They did not act upon any principle of fairness; they put an ad valorem duty of forty per cent on the wines of France; an ad valorem duty of eighty per cent on the wines of Spain and Portugal; and an ad valorem duty of 150 per cent, on the produce of our own colonies. He repeated, that this was utterly unfair.

Mr. Hunt

said, he should not keep the House one minute. He disclaimed, on the part of the poor, the statement made by the hon. member for Aldborough, that Cape wine was the cordial of the poor; if it was a cordial, he was sure it was a most offensive one. He never knew that they purchased this wine, or that medical men ever recommended it. If this were really a tax on the poor, he would cut off his right hand rather than vote for it; but it was not, and he should, therefore, give his willing support to the measure.

Mr. Sadler

, in explanation, said, that with respect to the liquor so much reprobated by the hon. Member, he would take on himself to say, that he had had it analysed by one of the best chemists in London, and that it contained a superior quantity of alcohol to any other wine, and was equal in quality to any wine imported.

Mr. George Robinson

said, that the ruin of the wine-growers in France, caused by the duty laid on the consumption of wine in that country, which had been adverted to, had, in his opinion, no reference whatever to the question.

Mr. Goulburn

said, the noble Lord who brought forward the measure, did it as one of revenue; but the right hon. Gentlemen who followed him, supported it on the grounds of general commercial policy. He did not approve of the mode of conducting the foreign policy of the country by means of measures of revenue moved in a Committee of the whole House. Our treaties with Portugal ought to be discussed regularly and formally, and should not thus be brought incidentally before the House. The noble Lord said, that he brought forward this measure, in order to conciliate the French, that there might not be war with the French at a future period. He would only observe, that if it answered as a measure of conciliation, it must fail as a measure of revenue; for if the French wine should be so generally consumed in this country as to supersede the wines of Portugal and Spain, the noble Lord would be deceived as to the increase of resources he expected. By giving these privileges to the French, we should lose the advantages we had long enjoyed from our connection with Portugal—advantages which were not conceded to us by any other independent nation. If we acted in that manner towards Portugal, that country would be justified in not giving us the monopoly of her markets for the sale of fish, and might properly claim the benefit of admitting others to compete with us in that article. She might, for instance, not as the right hon. Gentleman said, increase the duty on fish, but admit the Norwegians into the fish market. These were commercial considerations; but those of policy were not less strong, and were, in his opinion, quite as clear against the course now proposed for adoption by the Ministry. He could not forget the relation which this country had so long had with Portugal, nor our repeated declarations that his most faithful Majesty might always rely on the assistance of England. The greatest men who had ever wielded the destinies of England, were of opinion, that we ought to cherish our alliance with Portugal. They knew the value of having the West of Europe on terms of friendship with England ["Question, question."] He had been suddenly called upon to take part in an important discussion, and he hoped that he might be allowed to express his opinions. He could not consent to cast off, in the manner proposed, one of England's most ancient and most faithful allies, cutting asunder the most ancient ties without notice, or the offer of any improved arrangement. The House had been reminded of the value and importance of the wine trade in France; let him remind the House, that almost the whole of Portugal was a wine country. He should certainly vote against the Motion, on the principle of doing no injustice to an old friend, endeared to this country by a long and close alliance, and of preserving from injury the colonies of this country, and its long-established trade.

Lord Althorp

in reply, said, that he did not argue the question merely as one of revenue, while his right hon. friend argued it as one of commercial policy, but both he and his right hon. friend had argued it on both these principles. In principle, he believed that the right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not differ from his Majesty's Ministers; but they objected to his Majesty's Ministers, that they acted on these principles towards an ancient ally. Much had been said of the friendship subsisting between this country and Portugal, and the obligation which rested upon us to maintain our connection with an ancient and useful'ally. To his mind that argument brought no conviction, more especially when he remembered the recent conduct of that country towards this. Our communications with British residents there had been for some time, on their part, little more than a series of complaints against the Portuguese government for infractions of that treaty; and even, within a short time, we had been under the necessity of sending a fleet to the Tagus, for the purpose of protecting the rights and properties of those residents. He, therefore, thought that the arguments of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite ought not to have that weight with the House which those who delivered them expected. It was objected by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the measure could not succeed both as a measure of revenue and as a measure of commercial policy. He thought it would succeed in both views. The consumption of Portuguese wine would, he believed, not be diminished, while that of France would be increased; and that increase would both benefit the revenue, and extend our commercial and friendly relations with France. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had said, that if the alterations now proposed were carried into effect, the Portuguese would reduce the duty on the fish of other countries, to the obvious detriment of our trade; but, surely, the right hon. Gentleman must recollect, that the present Resolution gave them no increased facility for doing that, nor did it afford any reason why they should. They might do so at the present moment if they thought proper, or at any time past.

The Committee then divided, when there appeared:—

For the Resolution 259; Against it 157 Majority 102.

House resumed.

Lord Althorp

moved that the House do resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.