HC Deb 18 March 1831 vol 3 cc540-76
Lord Althorp

then rose to state to the House the course he intended to pursue with respect to the Duties on Timber. He had at first intended not to bring this matter before the House until that day week; but it having been stated, that mischievous and inconvenient consequences might ensue if any further delay took place before the intention of Government with respect to the timber duties was made known, he had felt it his duty to change his intention, and explain the matter that night to the House, though he did not himself think that any inconvenience would have resulted from postponing the discussion to next Friday. When he first proposed the measure respecting an alteration of the timber duties to the House, his object was, to get a large increase to the revenue, without, at the same time, pressing on the commerce of this country. It was also his opinion, that the proposition Government made would have the effect of leading to the adoption of a better commercial system with respect to the trade of timber. In endeavouring to effect this object, he was aware that he was likely to meet with most powerful opposition. He knew the influence of Gentlemen connected with the shipping interest; which was much increased by the union with which they acted. Still, feeling confident that the proposition of Government would prove beneficial to the country, he was prepared to meet the opposition of those Gentlemen. He knew that it was made a charge against the proposed measure, that it would take money out of some people's pockets. Now he was ready to admit, that whatever capital was destroyed by the change, so far an injury would be done; but if capital was not destroyed, but merely diverted into another channel, the whole operation might be performed, and no person a loser. Supposing that by the operation of a law, coals from Newcastle were obliged to be sent round Scotland before coming into the port of London, the price of the article would be greatly increased to the consumer. But if the Parliament repealed that law, and permitted coals to come straight to London, placing at the same time a duty on the article of the same amount as the expense saved in the carriage, the Exchequer would be benefitted, and not a human being hurt. It was, indeed, plain, that when any article was brought from a greater distance than was necessary, in consequence of a law, that an alteration might be made which would have the effect of increasing the revenue of the public, without injuring any individual, provided the capital employed in the trade could be as profitably employed in another direction. He was desirous that the Committee should fully understand the defect of the present law with respect to the importation of timber. The present law either compelled the consumer in this country to use a worse article than he liked; or, if he used a better article, the law raised the price of it artificially against him. That was the case which was avowed by the advocates of the existing law. It was avowed that for the sake of one class of the community we ought to raise against the consumer the price of the best article, or compel him to use an inferior one. That North American timber was inferior to the Baltic, it needed no argument to convince the House. It was unfit for many purposes; and it was stated, in evidence before the Committee, in 1821, by Sir Robert Seppings, that ships built of North American timber lasted only four years, while ships built of Baltic timber lasted eight years. In consequence of that evidence, North American timber was excluded from the dock-yards of this country, and he believed that in all building contracts there was a specification that Baltic timber should be used. This was a sufficient proof, he thought, of the inferiority of North American timber. He knew it was said, and truly, that the red pine of North America approached nearly to, if not equalled, the quality of the Baltic timber. But then, what was the effect of the existing regulations upon the consumer of wood in this country? Supposing the red pine of North America to be equal to the Baltic timber, yet the price of the red pine before importation was 35s. per load; while the price of equally good Baltic timber was only 23s. The existing regulations, therefore, in forcing a man to purchase the red pine of North America, compelled him to pay fifty per cent more for it on the first price than he need have, paid for the Baltic timber. The red pine, of which he had been speaking, was the produce of Upper Canada, but a great deal of that timber was brought from the United States. When Gentlemen, therefore, talked of the existing regulations being a protection to the colonies, he begged leave to say, that though they were partly so, yet at the same time they afforded great protection to the produce and great encouragement to the clearing of the United States. Then, on the other hand, the commercial advantages of the proposed change seemed to be left entirely out of sight. What was the state of the question with respect to that point? There was Norway, in the north of Europe with a bad climate and sterile soil, which could produce nothing to give this country in return for its manufactures excepting timber. Canada, on the contrary, was a fertile country, its climate was propitious, and it produced corn and legumes in abundance. Why, then, should we take a bad timber from a country which could give us in exchange for our commodities other articles of a better description, instead of drawing our supply of timber from a country which could give us nothing else in exchange? But it might be said, that Norway, while it supplied this country with timber, would not take our manufactures in return. It certainly appeared, that whatever of our manufactures was consumed in Norway did not come directly from England; but the reason of that was, the laws which precluded the English consumer from making use of Norwegian timber. If we took the Norwegians' timber, they would be glad to have our manufactures. In fact, they used them now, but they obtained them circuitously through the North of Germany, and there could be no doubt that Norway, as well as all the countries of the North of Europe, would gladly receive them direct in exchange for their own produce. It was then plain, that we excluded from this country the only article which Norway could supply us with, in order to take a worse article from a country which was able to supply us with much better commodities. When, therefore, he found himself called upon to provide for a large amount of revenue, he did think that the proposition which Government had made, to alter the duties on timber, would, for the reasons he had stated, prove most beneficial to the country. That proposition had met with great opposition, and he admitted that the opposition it had experienced made him feel a difficulty in carrying it. He had also no hesitation in saying, that with respect to the shipping interest, every possible anxiety would be shown on the part of Government to avoid injuring it if possible; but he was not prepared to say, that he would sacrifice every other class of the community in order to support that one. He did not think that the House ought to sacrifice commercial advantages merely for the sake of supporting the shipping interest; yet he should wish that the alteration of the duty should be as little injurious as possible to the shipping interest, and in carrying it into effect, he had studied in what manner he might best accomplish it with regard to that interest. The question then arose in his mind, could any alteration in the duty on timber be made, in such a manner as to effect the object he had in view —namely, the restoration of the trade to a healthy and natural state, without injury to any one? In order to put the House in a condition to judge of the propriety of the change in the duties on timber which Government now intended to propose, it would be necessary for him to enter into a statement of the state and prospects of the revenue of the country. The House would then be able to judge of the policy of the proposition which he should submit at the conclusion of his speech. The House would recollect, that in the financial statement which he made a few weeks ago, he had calculated what would be the produce of the revenue for this year, from its amount in last year, and had stated his expectation, that the new taxes which he intended to lay on would bring more to the revenue than would be lost by the repeal of some others. But since that period he had the experience of the effect which the reductions of taxation made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, during last year, had had on the revenue. Looking at the amount of the revenue derived from the Customs for the first two months of the present year, he found that it exceeded the amount received during the corresponding months of last year by the sum of 176,000l. If the revenue proceeded increasing at that rate, he calculated that at the end of the year there would be an excess, upon the Customs alone, of 1,056,000l. beyond the amount of last year. He did not mean, however, to calculate upon the whole of that sum; but he would take two-thirds of it, or 704,000l. as the excess which would exist at the end of the present year over the receipts of last. Adding that sum to the amount of Customs of last year, he found it would give a total of 18,250,000l. From that sum he deducted the amount of the duty on coals and slates for ten months, 700,000l., and the total amount would then be about 17,550,000l. From the taxes he proposed to place on steam-boats, he expected 75,000l.; on cotton wool, 250,000l.; on coals exported, 100,000l.; and on wine, 150,000l. These taxes made up a sum of 575,000l., which added to 17,550,000l. made a total exceeding 18,125,000l. He had founded his calculation upon the receipts of the Customs for the two first months of the year, a test which had been often taken, which, he believed, was taken by Lord Goderich, and had always been found to answer. Looking at the revenue derived from the Excise during the same term, he found it had fallen off as might have been expected from the remission of taxes, but not in proportion to the amount of taxes reduced. The diminution of this branch of the revenue in the first two months of the year was 239,704l., which would give in the whole year 1,438,224l.; but in order to be quite safe he would take it at 1,500,000l. He deducted this from 18,644,384l., the amount of the Excise last year, and this gave 17,144,384l. In addition, there had been taken off this year the taxes on

Printed Calicoes £540,000
Candles 200,000
Drawback on exported Calicoes, estimated at 600,000
Making £1,340,000
The Post-Office, Stamps, Taxes, and Miscellaneous items he would take as last year, and the whole revenue would therefore be,
Customs £18,125,000
Excise 15,804,348
Stamps 6,950,000
Taxes 5,000,000
Post Office 1,450,000
Miscellaneous 350,000
Total £47,679,348
The expenditure of the year he estimated at 47,000,000l., leaving a surplus of 680,000l. He was not apprehensive that any falling off was to be anticipated in the amount of the revenue for the present year. Indeed, from the success —he had almost said the splendid success. —both of our trade and manufactures at this time, he saw no reason to calculate even on the chance of any deficiency in the Revenue. He was anxious, however, to keep himself on the safe side, and therefore, in the estimate he had made, as there was a decrease in the receipt of the Excise to be deducted from the increase of the Customs, he had taken the increase as equal to only two-thirds of its probable amount; but he took the whole probable decrease of the Excise, and the result was a surplus of about 680,000l. on the whole amount for the year. In addition to this sum of 680,000l., at which he calculated the surplus of this year, in the next year several items would appear to the public credit. There would then be no drawback on printed calicoes, amounting this year to 600,000l.; linen bounties would cease, amounting to 150,000l.; the duty on cotton wool imported to be received next year would be 50,000l.: all which, added to the 680,000l. of this year, would make a gross surplus for the next year of 1,480,000l. But when it was recollected that there was a deduction to be made from the income of the present year, in consequence of the duties repealed on candles, 200,000l., on coals, 130,000l., it would be more prudent to take the nett surplus for the year at 1,150,000l. If that view of our finances was correct, there remained no imperative reason why the Government should lay any heavy taxation on the importation of timber for the purpose of benefiting the revenue. But commercial policy did call on the Government to take steps, not violently, but gradually, to relieve the consumer of timber in this country from the heavy duties he now paid. While he looked on this question as one of revenue, he was bound to take that course which he thought would produce the greatest benefit, and therefore he considered it necessary to increase the duty on Canada timber. But now, when the prospect of the revenue was more flattering, he did not propose to increase the duty on Canada timber; but he intended to reduce that on Baltic timber, and he would state the grounds which made him believe that the plan he had adopted would prove advantageous to the country. He was aware of the importance of the shipping interest, yet he did not consider that it should be alone regarded. The prosperity of that interest depended on the state of the commerce of the country, and unless that commerce were flourishing, the shipping interest could not thrive. Some hon. Gentlemen were accustomed to argue the question as if the shipping interest were opposed to the other interests of the country; but he considered that any regulation which interfered with the commerce and industry of the nation, would be injurious to the shipping interest. The duty on timber in log, coming from the Baltic, almost amounted to prohibition; and while from Canada one-third only of the quantity imported came in the shape of deal, two-thirds came from the Baltic. The alteration which he proposed to make in the duty on timber, in log and in deal, would, he thought, be advantageous to the commerce of the country, and open the trade with the Baltic more than at present. The only points of objection that could, he conceived, be raised against his proposition was, the effect it would have on the colonies. He was ready to admit, that whatever capital was laid out on saw-mills in Canada, would suffer. But the amount of capital so laid out was very small in proportion to the capital which was otherwise engaged in the timber trade; and even that capital might be applied, to a certain extent, to other purposes. The largest amount of capital was employed in the lumber-trade in Canada. That was an entirely floating capital, and capable of being diverted to other channels, with as great ease as any other floating capital. Then it was said, that the emigrants would suffer. But the emigrants were not employed in any one part of the operation of the timber trade, because they did not understand the use of the axe. They were certainly employed to a certain extent in moving the timber down to the coast; but the only reason why emigrants accustomed to agricultural pursuits were so employed, arose from the legislation of this country, which had the effect of driving capital into the lumber-trade. By taking gradually away the inducement to capitalists to place their capital in the lumber-trade of Canada, he hoped to induce them to turn their speculations to the cultivation of the soil, and give employment to the emigrants in agricultural occupations. He did not believe that the effect of such a change could be anything but advantageous to Canada; and it was clear, from evidence produced at different times before that House, that persons engaged in the lumber-trade were not desirous of continuing in it. He admitted that the case was somewhat different with respect to the southern parts of Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The soil there was not so propitious, and the timber-trade was, consequently, of greater importance: but he could never admit that that trade would be destroyed by the proposed measures of Government. The timber of that part of these colonies was used for the manufacture of certain articles, and it would always continue to be used for that purpose. Though an improper material to be used in buildings of a permanent nature, yet it had the advantage of being more easily worked than other timber, and therefore it would continue in some cases to be used. Indeed, the yellow pine of those provinces was more valuable than the yellow pine of Canada, and would be the last American timber displaced from the market by the Baltic timber. The noble Lord proceeded to state his plans respecting the duties on timber, but his remarks were nearly inaudible in the gallery. He was understood to propose that the duty now payable on Baltic timber should be lowered from its present amount, 55s. per load, to 40s.; which duty of 40s. so far from being the means, as it was weakly asserted by some, of the ruin and annihilation of the timber-trade in Canada, would operate as a permanent protecting duty to the productions and industry of that colony. The timber, too, had properties of itself which rendered it highly valuable. It was a soft wood, with very few knots, and was found very easy to work. It was impassible, then, to imagine that, with all these natural advantages, and the continuance of a protecting duty to the amount he had before stated, the change in the existing scale of duties on Baltic timber could possibly injure either the trade in the red pine of these colonies, or in the yellow pine of the southern part of them, nor, least of all, could it prove injurious to the trade of New Brunswick, the pine of which was the best of any. The amount of duty which Baltic timber paid above Canada timber might be taken as at 45s. per load; namely, 55s. on the Baltic timber, and 10s. on the Canada timber. The Baltic deals were subject to a duty, according to their length, from twelve to twenty-one feet, of from 19l. to 22l., making an average duty altogether, on all Baltic timber, as nearly as possible 55s. throughout. The consequence of the duty on both sorts of deals being formerly the same was, that the Baltic merchant only sent us the fourteen feet deals instead of those of twenty-one feet. Having premised thus much with respect to the duties formerly, and as they stood at present, he should proceed to detail his plan. He first would apprize the House that, aware of the effect which might be occasioned by any sudden alteration in these duties on Baltic timber upon our colonial trade, he intended to avoid any such consequence by making the alteration gradual, in such a way as that the Bill should not come into operation as to the reduction of duties until the 1st of January, 1832, so as to afford ample time, during the whole of this year, to the Canadians to carry on this trade without competition, or to re-invest their capital in other occupations. On the 1st, then, of next January, he should propose to reduce the duty on Baltic timber 6s.; on the 1st of January, 1833, a second reduction in the amount of duty, to the extent of 6s., should also take place; and, in the beginning of the year 1834, the remaining 3s. would, by the first of his resolutions, expire; after which, no further redaction of duty was contemplated, leaving, therefore, the Canada timber-trade with a protecting duty of 30s. There was an advantage arising from thus arriving, by degrees, in a period of three years, at his object of reducing the duties on Canada timber, which was, that it would enable him to bring about, at the same time, the establishment of the same rate of duty both in Ireland and in England. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, concluded by moving his first resolution, as follows:— "That it is the opinion of this Committee, that in lieu of the duties of Customs heretofore payable, as mentioned in the table annexed, there shall be taken and received the duties following:— On all timber being eight inches square, imported from any Port in the Baltic, on or after the 1st of January, 1832, there shall be payable, per load, a duty of 2l. 9s.; after the 1st of January, 1833, a duty of 2l. 3s.; and, after the first of January, 1834, a duty of 2l."

Mr. Attwood

condemned the plan of the noble Lord, as differing from what had been anticipated. It had proved, in effect, to be an attempt to destroy a protection formerly given to timber, the growth of British colonies. The reverse of a sound principle was adopted, for here the duty on the foreign timber was reduced, whilst that on the British colonial timber was suffered to continue. He must confess he had felt obliged by the seeming candour of the noble Lord, in attending to the wishes of the parties most interested in the ultimate decision of the House on this question. That candour, he regretted to say, was anything but real, for it was a fact that, up to this hour, the trade was in doubt as to what was the measure to be proposed by Government. He differed altogether from the noble Lord as to the imagined facility with which capital embarked in one trade could be changed and diverted into another. But it was too prevalent an error with that class of men denominated political economists. He congratulated the House that they, as practical men, were aware of other interests and of other parties than those which solely constituted the solicitude of the noble Lord in his scheme of finance. The interests and amount of the revenue, with the interests of the consumers of timber, had, for the first time been avowed as adequate and abundant grounds on which to legislate. He knew well, that the Committee would throw out all consideration of revenue, and all question as to the price of timber, in discussing this subject, and decide on the broad ground of just colonial policy. He would remind the House that, ever since the year 1809, this trade had been settled under particular stipulations, and secured to Canada as sacredly as any trade could by treaty have been ceded to a foreign nation. Previously to 1810, in fact, no trade whatever existed in timber exported from Canada to this country, but the expediency of establishing such a trade had been rendered palpable, if not imperiously necessary, by the political changes in Europe. We had begun to feel most sensibly the effects of the prohibitive system of the French government, whose power extended over the countries on the Baltic, and crippled our supply of timber. The reasons, then, on which this trade was founded, were neither considerations of revenue nor the cheapness of the price at which timber might be procured. The duties were, in effect, duties of prohibition, nor was the distance of the colonies from the northern countries left out of the consideration. The price of the transport of timber from the Baltic being 1l., whilst that from Canada was 2l. It was, then, no mercantile speculation, on which this system of protection on the one side, and prohibition on the other was established. The report of the Committee of the House of Lords on the subject in 1820, distinctly recognised the principle in these remarkable words, "As our intercourse with the Northern States must be liable to be influenced by the fluctuations of political events; and as the exclusion from their ports, which has been once experienced, may at some future period recur, your Committee are apprehensive that the consequences of any measure that might have the effect of placing our dependence for a supply of timber exclusively on those countries, might become, eventually, the occasion of serious political inconvenience and danger." Here the political principle was embodied on which the Canada timber-trade was encouraged; and it appeared that it was in a time of peril and danger that we had endeavoured to liberate ourselves from the possibility of ever finding that important arm of our national strength — namely, our navy, threatened with extinction for want of the raw material of naval warfare. It was under a threat of invasion by the enemy, and upon the faith of an Act of Parliament, that our merchants were induced to invest an enormous amount of capital in the deep recesses of the woods and forests of Canada, in the erection of saw-mills and wharfs. But the danger, it was said, had now passed away. He admitted that, at present, Government had reason to be perfectly satisfied with the friendly relations in which it stood towards all the Powers of Europe, there being no political danger to be apprehended from without—no terror of invasion. But though he admitted all that, were they, he would ask, therefore prepared to sacrifice those men, who by their capital and enterprise had saved the nation from a great danger, and now secured it against the possible recurrence of such a crisis? Were they to sacrifice the property of such men which had been embarked on the faith of an Act of Parliament. There could be no wisdom in any policy which was not founded on justice and fair dealing. No measure could be beneficial or safe which had not justice for its basis. Cheap timber would be dearly purchased by a sacrifice of the national faith, and the Exchequer would be filled at a great cost if it were done by confiscation. Whatever measures were proposed for the regulation of the policy of the country, it was necessary to preserve the national honour, instead of adopting changes which nearly bordered upon revolution. He was convinced that the discontent which prevailed would be increased by the measure which was or posed; that it would augment the violence of the violent, and urge the dissatisfied:o still further demands. Was this a time to excite more discontent by a series of acts of legislative injustice, sacrificing one class after another—pressing down the rights of the higher classes, and valuing little the property which was embarked in commercial enterprises? The discontent which existed, not to call it disaffection, had originated in a long series of misgovernment and fallacious legislation, which sacrificed vast properties embarked in important interests to the vague notions of a crude philosophy. One after the other—the farmer, the trader, the manufacturer, the merchant, had been ruined, and the latest victim had been the unfortunate kelp-burner. The revolution of property would bring about revolution of Government, and would render it absolutely necessary that some change of system should be adopted. It was a great delusion which was at the bottom of the proposed change, to imagine that capital invested in one way, which might be considered by certain political economists wrong, might simply or lightly be transferred to another trade. This fallacy ran through Adam Smith's works, and was adopted by all his disciples. He (Mr. Attwood) maintained, that capital embarked in one branch of commerce could not without danger be transferred to another, any more than a labourer, habituated to one species of industry, could, with equal advantage, apply his exertions in another way. It was impossible for any set of men to make industry accommodate itself to their crude notions and abstruse speculations. It was upon the general policy and propriety of adopting these measures, and not merely upon what the Exchequer would gain, that the House was to decide. If the principle of this measure were adopted, it would dissolve the links that bound our colonial possessions to the mother-country, and destroy the protection hitherto wisely extended to our domestic interests. Whatever was off of protection might be invaded upon the same arguments and Reasoning. He was far from admitting that a system of protection ought never to have been established; but that was not now the question; capital had been invested under it, and labour had been supported by it, and the point was, whether it was politic to put an end to that system? Supposing that decided in the affirmative, there would still remain the question, whether the present was the period when the great change ought to be adopted? In order to effect it, under the most favourable circumstances, some period of prosperity at home and tranquillity abroad ought to be sought. The question came then — Was this a period at which this country could be deprived of her protective policy? Even if it were desirable to abandon the system of protection, still it was necessary to look for a period of general prosperity and tranquillity — prosperity at home, and tranquillity abroad—before we made that great experiment which, as one of its unavoidable consequences, must obstruct, for a time at least the progress of national prosperity. Was there any branch of commerce upon the stability of which we could rely at home, and what market was there abroad, upon which we could reckon for three months certain? Political economists supposed that labour could be better employed than it was, and accordingly they closed one channel and opened another, without reflecting that, before they had closed the old channel for a month, political events might occur which would render the new one unavailable. He should not be astonished that those who called themselves liberal politicians, and were carried away by abstract and fanciful theories, were to put experiments of this kind into practice, without regard to the state of the country, and of the world around them; but he candidly confessed, he was astonished that men filling the high situation of Ministers of the Crown—responsible for the acts of the Government—should at this period, when danger threatened on every side—when, turn in whatever direction we might, the aspect of the future was unfavourable and menacing, and when, consequently, they ought to address themselves to the necessary precautions against the coming evils—that they should, instead of providing safeguards against these dangers, or occupying themselves with the calamities of the country, when they saw half Europe in arms, bring forward a crude and precipitate plan, which must be accompanied by grievous calamities, and must, augment the national embarrassment. It was to bring the subject properly before the House and the country, that he, advocating the cause of the property of the trader, and stated his determination to take the opinion of the Committee before he suffered this proposition to be adopted. The noble Lord, in his present plan, altered nothing of the principle of his former propositions; the only alteration made was in degree. The plan was open to all the objections which had been formerly urged. It was defended upon grounds very different from those upon which he should wish to see a question of this nature argued; and he trusted that the House would not. concur with his Majesty's Ministers in the proposition which they had now brought forward.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

said, the hon. Gentleman had stated, that his Majesty's Government argued this question upon principles very different from those upon which he wished to see it argued, and upon which he should wish to argue it himself. He was glad of this, and he should be very sorry if any Government in that House were to place a question of great national importance, like the present, upon the exclusive grounds of the two interests to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded. He had argued it with reference to the interests of the colonies and of the shipowners, and he seemed to wish, what he (Mr. Thomson) trusted would not occur, that the interests of the consumers should be wholly lost sight of. He trusted, that never would such grounds be urged by any Government—and although on this question the interests of the colonies and of the ship-owners had been considered by his Majesty's Government, they were considered as they ought, in common with the interests of the country. He said, they had been wisely so considered, because it would be vain to think that one interest could be bolstered up effectually or permanently at the expense of another, and they must be short-sighted legislators who would advocate any other interests than those of the country generally. The objections urged by the hon. Gentleman were —first, that the Legislature had no right to interfere with duties without looking to the rights of the parties concerned, and he had read a report from a Committee, which, as he contended, would bear him out in the statement, that some pledge had been given, or understanding entered into, that these duties were to be permanent and fixed. The House had heard to-night, and heard properly, that when a duty was fixed by that House, it was in the power of Parliament to alter it at a subsequent period; and if it were found inconsistent with the safety or the advantage of the country, it became not only the right, but the duty of that House to alter it, and no plea of injustice could be set up against t exchange. He would beg to read to the hon. Gentleman another part of the Report to which he referred—a Report of the Committee of the Lords, when, in 1820, an attempt was made lose up this very plea, and that attempt so strongly made, that the Lords' Committee thought it necessary to give a distinct denial to that supposition, after hearing all the evidence. The report slated, that the principle of altering duties, when the necessities of the State should require it, had always been explained to the Can told merchants, in all their communications with the Board of Trade. But the Resolution of that House was not in conformity with the Report of the Committee, which recommended a scale different from that adopted by the House. When the hon. Gentleman spoke of a breach of faith, he must allow him to refer him to an authority for the measure now about to be adopted, and he believed the hon. Gentleman would not call the individuals to whom he now alluded visionary or crude philosophers. He referred to the authority of a Minister of the Crown, in another place, who expressed his deep regret at the scale having been altered from that proposed by the Committee; and of another Minister, who declared that the whole scale of duties was open to revision, and that such revision would probably take place in a few years. Lord Bathurst reminded their Lordships, that it was necessary to give protection to the colonial interests; that the Resolution went further than the Report; but the difference was rather in quantum than in principle, and that it would be open to revision. He (Mr. Thomson; had never heard another place, which he need not more distinctly particularize, talked of as the nestling place of rash visionaries and crude philosophers. What was the express report of the Committee of that House ten years ago? In 1820 the Lords' Committee reported, that it would be expedient to compensate the Canada merchants by such limited duty as should be found necessary for the purpose. The measure now before the House, which would have its full operation in three years hence, would give a protection, in 1834, of one-half more than that which the Lords proposed in 1820. The details of this subject were necessarily tedious, and he was unwilling to press them more than he could avoid upon the House; but when exaggerated statements were made, and exaggerated conclusions drawn from facts and figures, it was only by a recurrence to facts and figures that these exaggerations could be met. There fore, if his details were tedious, the subject must be his apology, and the House would grant him its indulgence. He should now beg to call the attention of the Committee to one material point in the present plan—namely, the alteration of the duty on deals. His noble friend had not put forward, perhaps, as strongly as he might have done, the disadvantage to the industry of the country, when labour was needed—of the unequal rates of duty upon timber and deals. It was obvious that while deals could be brought in at 45l. per load duty, they would be used in preference to timber, and many were the petitions which he had had occasion to read, and which had been placed on the Table of that House, praying that this unreasonable law might be altered, and a due protection given to the industry of the country. He now came to the most extraordinary statement of all the statements made by the hon. Gentleman opposite. He said, that the proposition now before the House would have the effect of raising up the industry of Russia at the expense of our own colonies. Surely the hon. Gentleman could not fully understand the measure; and he (Mr. Thomson) was surprised that he had not applied himself to some of those sources from which he could have derived correct information. The effect of the measure, instead of assisting the trade of Russia, would be to place Russian timber, which now had a great advantage, as it paid but 19l. where it ought to pay 29l., upon an equal footing with the timber of Sweden and Norway, and not the least pressing expostulations which had been forwarded to the Board of Trade, on the subject of this measure, were from persons interested in the Russia trade, who considered that their interests were injured by it. The effect of the measure was to draw nearer to a gradual approximation of the duties between American and Baltic timber. He was glad that the operation of the measure was to be gradual, but he would ask the Committee to consider fairly the nature of this trade, and what price the country paid for the unequal protection afforded to the colonies —that protection his Majesty's Government professed not to remove, but only to diminish to a certain extent,—Those who said, that in introducing this measure they were destroying their colonies, could not know what they said, or it would be impossible for them to make the statements they did. In judging of these statements, the House ought to be guided by the truth or fallacy of the statements which had been made on former occasions. When this subject was under consideration before, exactly the same statements were made as those at present; it was then said, "Alter the duties as they now exist, and you destroy the Canada trade." But instead of these expectations being realized, or such predictions verified, exactly the reverse occurred, and, therefore, he said, the House had good grounds for hesitating, at least, ere it gave credence to the assertions of the same party, founded on the same facts. In 1820, when it was said, that the Canada trade would be destroyed by any interference with the duties, what was the state of that trade? It was known that in 1819 and 1820, the trade received an unnatural impulse, and that its state, at that time, did not furnish a criterion of its general condition. But he would take that period for the purpose of his present calculation. In 1817, the timber imported from Canada, was 188,000 loads. In 1820 it amounted to 270,000 loads; and in 1829, the quantity of timber and deals imported from Canada, was 518,000 loads, so that, instead of the Canada trade having been destroyed by an arrangement which raised the duty on the one species of timber by 10s. and lowered the other by the same amount, it had increased in this large ratio. The House ought to receive with very great caution the statements which were made upon this subject by the opponents of the measure. Nothing was more obvious than that the calculations they had made were quite erroneous. He would take as an instance the statement which had been made by an hon. Member opposite on a former evening—that in this trade there were engaged 1,600 ships, amounting to 430,000 tons, and giving employment to 20,000 seamen; for when that hon. Member talked of this measure being calculated to throw out of employment 800 ships and 10,000 seamen, which he took as half of the whole trade, the fair inference from his statement was, that the total number of ships employed was 1,600, and of men 20,000. Now, what was the fact —a fact which he called upon any man to deny if he could? That this number of ships was the total amount of all ships which had been entered inwards from our North American possessions in the course of the year; and it was well known that these ships made repeated voyages, averaging one voyage and three quarters to each ship annually. By taking that fact into account, the number of ships employed in the entire trade with our North American colonies would be reduced to 900; their tonnage to 246,000 tons; and the number of men to 11,000. From that amount we had to deduct the amount of shipping and men not employed in this particular trade—the timber trade. That amount was 100 ships, 27,000 tons, and 1,500 men. After making that deduction, we had 800 ships, with 219,000 tons of tonnage, and upwards of 8,000 men, employed in the timber trade with the Canadas. That simple fact would show the House how careful it ought to be in giving credence to the exaggerated statements which had been put forward on this subject. He was anxious to bring the question of this trade before the Committee in the way of pounds, shillings, and pence; for that, after all, was the proper way to look at the subject, and he wished, therefore, to state to the Committee the amount of real loss which the country suffered in consequence of the difference in the duties. Now in doing this he would take the statement which had been put forward by the ship-owners themselves, and he believed be should be able, from that statement alone, to lay before the Committee an estimate of the loss which we had suffered in this way, which would make the House reflect and wonder how such a preposterous system should ever have been introduced. When he, and those who acted with him, were accused of going too much upon theory, and of carrying principles too far, he thought it would be proper that the country should know how much at present it had to pay for this protection. Two years ago, his hon. friend the member for Bridport, moved for an account of the amount of duty which had been received upon North American timber, and also for an account of what the amount of that duty would have been if it had been received upon Baltic timber. Now the result of the difference between those two amounts would be, upon the showing of the shipowners and the petitioners themselves, the actual amount of the loss which the country sustained from upholding this protection. The languages of the shipowner was, that, if you should withdraw that protection at all, the whole of this trade would go from them to the Baltic. Now this trade with the Canadas, since its first commencement in the year 1810, had cost the country a sum of not less than 20,000,000l. He held in his hand the accounts which had been laid before Parliament, in pursuance of the motion of his hon. friend, the member for Bridport, and referring to those accounts, he found that in the year 1825, the difference between the amount of duty levied on Canada timber that year, and what the amount of that duty would have been if it had been levied on Baltic timber, was 1,226,000l. The difference in l826 was, 1,409,000l., and so on in the succeeding years. Last year the difference was 1,348,0002., making altogether the loss to the country, during the last seven years, of 7,424,000l. He assumed that to be the loss, taking for granted the statement of the shipowners, that if this alteration should be made in the duty, the whole trade would go to the Baltic. He founded his calculation on the statement of the petitioners, but he would strengthen that calculation by one which had been made in a different manner, which did not go quite so far, and which appeared to him a better one. He would take the timber imported from the North American colonies as costing 20s. per load more for the freight than an equal quantity from Europe, and he would take the difference as to the quality of the timber by the market price, which estimated it at 1l. 10s. less than that of the European timber. With regard to the deals from America, he would take it that their cost of freight was 6l. per load more, and that the difference in quality between them and the European deals, calculating it by the market price, amounted to 6l. more. It appeared then, that in the year 1829, the calculation stood thus,—in that year we imported from the North American colonies 393,000 loads of timber, which cost 20s. more in freight than the same quantity would have cost from Europe, making 393,000l., and the difference in quality being estimated at 1l.. l0s.., made an additional sum of 590,000l. The difference of freight upon 18,250 hundred of deals imported in that year, estimated at 6l., made 109,000l., and the difference in quality, estimated also at 6l., made a further sum of 109,000l. It thus appeared from this statement, which checked the former calculation, that the total loss in that year amounted to 1,202,000l. a sum which the country had to pay for following this circuitous mode of obtaining its timber instead of going directly for it to the Baltic. He defied them to show that this loss was made up to the country in any other way, by the employment of capital in this trade which could not be profitably employed in some other manner. What was the capital employed in this trade? The ship-owners estimated the tonnage at 430,000 tons. He would strike off the 30,000 tons, and leaving it at 400,000 tons, the rate of freight was 40s., which in 400,000tons made 800,000l. Now, if the country actually took up those ships, and paid their owners that freight, and kept them sailing about the Atlantic, and doing nothing, it would be seen that the country would be a gainer by such an arrangement. It was said, that this measure would totally destroy this trade; but without denying that this measure would eventually diminish the trade to a considerable extent, he denied that it would produce more than a trifling destruction in the employment of the ship- ping. But, even if it were calculated to throw the half of the ships out of employment, he would contend, that it would be; more economical to keep those ships sailing about, doing nothing, and to buy up the whole of the timber which was cut down for exportation in Canada, and bring it to the coast and burn it there, than to be paying for it at the rate which the country paid at present. By such an arrangement as that even the country would be a loser by 20,000l. less than it lost at present. The Government did not propose any violent or sudden measure—it proposed merely a gradual diminution of the protection. The Ministers said, they were willing that the country should continue to pay a portion of that protection, but that the existing amount of it was too great, and that it must be diminished. This measure was not to come into operation immediately, it would not take effect until the 1st of January next year, and then the diminution in the duty on Baltic timber would be only 6s. in the first instance. The entire reduction in the end would be 15s.; but as that would be brought about gradually, it would not have the effects which might be anticipated from a sudden reduction to that amount. When the amount of the reduction reached 15s., the effect would be to displace a portion of the Canada timber, and enable the public to get supplied from the Baltic with timber of a better description. There was a duty of 10s. a load upon Canada timber, and it had a clear protection above Baltic timber of 35s. a load upon deals, and 45s. upon solid timber. By the proposed change, Canada deals of every description would have a clear and an increased protection of 39s. He calculated that about one-third of the quantity of timber which was now imported from Canada would be brought from the Baltic when the alteration was effected. He now came to consider how far this measure interfered with the shipping of the country—namely, by the transfer of one-third of the shipping to the Baltic trade. This part of the subject brought him to meet the assertion, that the trade of the country would be carried on in foreign bottoms. In the statement made by those who opposed the alteration, the whole of the Russia trade was excluded. The total amount of importation in the timber trade in 1830, from Norway, Sweden, and Russia, was 141,000 loads in foreign ships. The quan- tity brought in British ships in the same year was 219,000 loads. The tonnage of foreign ships, as compared with British ships, had not lost any of its proportions. It was as three-fifths to two-fifths up to 1823, and it was above three-fifths now. It was said, that foreign ships were more fully employed than British ships, but it ought to be borne in mind that British ships were ready and prepared to go into the Baltic trade. He contended, that at least one-half of the one-third of the numbers of ships that would be displaced from the colonial trade, would find employment in bringing timber from the Baltic. Taking the number of ships reduced at 265, he felt satisfied that 133 of them would go to the Baltic. Supposing the amount to be proportionate on 265 ships, he thought it impossible that sufficient employment might not be found for them, even if they had recourse to the coasting coal trade. He had been taunted with not knowing that those timber ships were generally of from 400 to 500 tons, and that such ships could not be employed advantageously in the coasting trade. Now he would take the statement of the ship-owners themselves, that there were 1,600 ships, amounting to 430,000 tons, employed in this trade; and by dividing that tonnage by the number of ships, it would give 200 tons as the average tonnage to those ships employed in this trade. He was well aware that there were vessels of 400 and 500 tons employed in that trade, but, to give the average which he had stated, there must be a considerable number of vessels employed in it under 200 tons. Now, as an instance of the ships employed in the coasting trade, he would state the number of ships, and the amount of their tonnage, which had come into the port of London, laden with coal, in the year 1830. The number of vessels was 6,944, measuring 1,432,000 tons; and by dividing the tonnage by the vessels, it would be found that the average tonnage was 204 tons. He was glad to have an opportunity of stating this fact, for it showed how little consideration was paid to the merits of the present question, by many of those who indulged in taunts and sarcasms. The average amount from the port of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was 207 tons. He would ask, then, had he been proved to have been guilty of ignorance when he asserted that a large proportion of the Canadian vessels would get em- ployment in the coasting trade? He wished to add a word or two on the exorbitant nature of the protection given to the Canada trade, and the effects resulting from it. He contended that the existing system of protection was exorbitant and uncalled for. In the last Session, his hon. friend, the member for Bridport, had moved for an account of the number of vessels which had sailed from the Baltic, with timber to the Canadas—had discharged their cargoes there—had reloaded, and then sailed to this country, thus undergoing the expense of a double voyage for the purpose of avoiding the duty. That return shewed that such things were done. But it might be said, that if such a thing had been done, it was only an experiment, and that it would not be repeated. He denied that it was a mere experiment, the thing could be done, and had been done. In proof of that statement, he read an extract from a letter which he had received shortly after he had come into office, from a merchant in Newcastle, inquiring whether it was not the construction of the law that such importations avoiding the higher rate of duty could be made, stating that such voyages had been made, and timber carried from Member to Canada, and afterwards brought to England, and could be made by the merchants there with advantage, and expressing a wish to know whether it was the intention of the Government, acting up to the declaration of Mr. Herries last Session, to have that part of the law amended, because, he added, while the continuation of the law was doubtful, the merchants did not know how to act. He would ask whether such a state of things as that should be allowed to continue? The next point to which he (Mr. Thomson) must advert, was the injury which it was alleged the colonists would sustain by the change. It was asserted, that a capital of 1,500,000l. was invested in saw-mills, in the colonies. If such were the fact, the increase must have been most extraordinary since the year 1822. In that year the whole amount of capital employed in saw-mills was only from 100,000l. to 150,000l., and he thought it hardly probable that the sum should have increased to such magnitude in the comparatively short period that had since expired. The consequence of the proposed alterations which were contemplated by the present measure might probably, and, indeed, he was prepared at once to admit, would have the effect of diminishing the export of timber from Canada into England, and, consequently, would affect also the productiveness of the capital that was now invested in the mills to which he had referred; but, the Committee ought not to lose sight of the fact, that though in this one branch of industry there would be a great falling off, yet the same amount of labour might be applied to much greater advantage on the land in the colonies; and the mills which would be rendered useless for their original purposes, might be converted into highly useful auxiliaries to the agricultural and other pursuits of the colonists. So that the enormous losses that had been placed in so frightful a point of view, would, as he had shewn, be absolutely next to nothing. Then again he had been told, and the country had been told, that at one time the Government of this country had given extraordinary encouragement to emigration to the Canadas, and now, after the impulse had been given, and the effects to a certain degree produced by a number of new settlers having been located on the lands in the Canadas, that same Government was about to wrest from them, by this measure, their only means of support, which consisted in the produce of the trees which they cut down on the lots of land which were portioned out to them. Were they, however, to be imposed on by this statement for a single moment? Did any one in that House believe, that the moment an emigrant gets located upon his land in Canada, he sets to work and cuts down the trees, trims them, and floats them down the nearest river to the market, where they are to produce him immediate returns? Why, there was not one tree in a hundred that was fit for the purposes of timber; and, instead of this timber trade being an advantage to the settler, it was exactly the reverse, because, when he cut the trees down for timber, instead of burning them down, he presently afterwards found that a great heap of brushwood sprung up from the root of each tree that had been cut down, and which never occurred where his land had been cleared by the operation most in use—that of burning; and this brushwood was evidently a great hindrance to the cultivation. So notorious an evil was this on the lands in Canada, that there was actually a Company established there for the purpose of clearing the lands, and the charges incurred in that process were absolutely greater than the original cost of the land. Instead, therefore, of this prospective diminution of the export of timber from Canada being injurious to the emigrant, it was precisely the reverse, for it rendered it a matter of necessity that he should clear his lands in the most effectual way, having no inducement to cut down his timber for exportation. Then again, the emigrants would very soon find employment in other pursuits, which would prove much more beneficial to them than this of which they were deprived; and with reference to the arguments which had been urged against the alterations in the timber duties, let them look at what language his hon. friend, the member for Callington had used at a previous period, not far distant from the present, and with reference to the Canadas. Why, that hon. Member had said, that the Lumber men were, of all the nuisances that could be found in any colony, the very greatest; and yet that hon. Member was now, by the course he had chosen to pursue, absolutely encouraging this class of men who were, as he had described them, a nest of pests in the Canadas. The right hon. Member referred also to a work on the North American Colonies, by Mr. Richards, who had been sent by the late Government to investigate the state of Canada, in support of his views. Mr. Richards stated, in his account of his journey through Upper Canada, that, in New Brunswick, that a great portion of the labour of the inhabitants is devoted to the removal of lumber: that farming is neglected; and that the produce of the land is, consequently, sometimes insufficient to meet the consumption;" and he observed, "that when time or chance shall induce or compel the inhabitants to desist from that employment, agriculture will then begin to raise its head." This was the language of a gentleman sent out by the Government. There was only one point further, with reference to this subject on which he wished to say a few words to the Committee, and that was with reference to an important document, which was not a public one, but which he had become possessed of by private means, and which he was disposed to consider of the greatest value, as affording another opportunity of proving that the injury to the shipping interests of this country and the Canadas would not be so great as was represented by those who were op- posed to the measure. The document was a statement of the number of ships, and the mode of employing those ships, belonging to the North American colonies; and before he proceeded to state the results of that inquiry on which the document was founded, he must observe, that when it was argued that the alterrations in the timber duties would destroy the Canadian colonies altogether, he would first refer those Gentlemen who used such arguments to the statements which showed the number of ships which bona fide belonged to the colonies, and then let them say, whether it would be possible for so trifling a reduction in the duty, as was proposed, or rather, whether so trifling a diminution of the present protection extended to one branch of the trade of those colonies could by any possibility have such a ruinous effect as was predicted. The paper which he held in his hand contained an account of the coasting and corn trade of those colonies; and it appeared from the statements that, in the year 1829, the number of ships that entered the ports of Quebec, St. John's, St. Andrew's, Halifax, and other adjacent places, was no less than 5,596; and the tonnage of those vessels was 724,000 tons. The mode in which those vessels were employed was as follows;— In the West-India trade, 3,712; in the trade with the United States, 488; leaving out of the gross amount of 5,598 ships belonging to the ports of our North American colonies, 1,396 vessels employed in the direct trade to this country. He must again repeat, that he had ever, whilst on the opposite side of the House, entertained views and opinions which were peculiarly his own, and which, from the knowledge that he had of this subject, he was the more confirmed in, and the less inclined to abandon, though he was thwarted and opposed by a powerful body in that House, who entertained opinions at variance with his. He had never, however, been hostile to the commercial, the shipping, or the colonial interests, and now that he was in office, it was his duty to defend and protect them. At the same time, it was also his duty, as it was the duty of Parliament, to protect the interest of the consumer, and the more important permanent interests of the whole nation. He trusted, therefore, the House would see that he had clearly and distinctly made out the fact that a saving to the country of 1,200,000l. a-year would result from the alterations which he proposed to make, and that the gradual diminution of the protection which was at present awarded to the North American colonies, which the proposed modifications in the duty would effect, was not calculated to produce such injurious consequences as had been predicted by those hon. Members who were opposed to the measure.

Sir George Murray

wished to set the right hon. Member right with respect to the mode in which the settler in Canada found it most advantageous to get rid of the wood on the lot of ground which was apportioned to him on his arrival. When a settler arrives there, he generally has a lot of 200 acres, on which he can only cut down a certain portion of the timber, and in a certain season of the year. He must also only cut down in proportion to the ability which he has of cultivating the land which he clears; for, if he were not to cultivate it at once, and keep it in cultivation, it would speedily become covered again with brushwood.

Mr. Keith Douglas

observed, that the noble Lord had abandoned the tax which he had before proposed, and, instead of it, he had brought forward a measure which would not come into operation before next year. So that it seemed as if the House had so little to do, that the only method of filling up their time was by legislating for three or four years in prospective. The hon. Member proceeded to observe upon the gradual rise and progress of the Canada trade with England since the year 1809, when the continental system of Napoleon had interdicted any commercial intercourse between this country and the Continent of Europe. In the year 1820, the comparative imports of the produce of the two countries, Canada and the Baltic—were, from the latter, 280,000 loads, and from the former 300,000 loads of timber; and in the year 1827 the import of Canadian timber amounted to 380,000 loads, whilst that of Baltic timber was reduced to 260,000 loads, which showed that there was a preference for the former. As it was impossible to know what alteration would take place before the change in these duties was to come into operation, he thought it quite unnecessary then to legislate on the subject, and he should oppose the Motion.

Mr. George Robinson

(with great difficulty in being heard) protested against the Committee hearing only one side of the question, and observed, that however incompetent he might be to offer any opposition to the measure, he felt it to be his duty to do so; and he should, therefore, looking at the lateness of the hour, endeavour to compress his observations into as short a space as possible. It was, however, to be remarked, that the House was placed by the noble Lord in the predicament of discussing an entirely novel proposition at that late hour; and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. P. Thomson) had dilated on the measure in a manner that it was impossible for any one not intimately conversant with this subject to understand or to follow. It had been his intention originally to have discussed singly the details of the proposed alterations; but, in consequence of what had been stated, he must pass at once to the general observations which he had to offer to the Committee. The alterations effected in the year 1821 in the timber duties were not brought forward in the same manner as the present measure was, but were submitted to two Committees, who obtained evidence, and upon that evidence furnished reports by which the decision of the House was guided. He could not agree with the hon. member for Borough-bridge, who seemed to think that it was not in the power of Parliament to alter the present scale of duties. He considered that the Parliament was perfectly competent to effect such alterations as might be found necessary; but then it ought to be done after the deepest consideration, and it ought not to be confined to a question of finance as it had been by the light hon. member for Dover; but all the political considerations, which could never be separated from it, ought also to undergo investigation.— Such a subject ought never to be discussed but with reference to those considerations; and he should therefore, come at once to the point, and express it to be his opinion, that a measure which might be calculated to prove injurious to the North American colonies and the shipping interests should receive some further consideration than the present had done. He thought it would not be judged wise to inflict on those colonies a measure of this tendency, whilst the effects of another, the Colonial Trade Bill, were yet untried. Two such important changes in the colonial policy were never brought under the consideration of the House before in this manner. To be sure the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had given the Committee one advantage, by acknowledging that the measure was given up as a financial operation, and in so far he had disencumbered him, and many others who thought with him, of the hesitation with which he should have come forward to discuss a matter connected, as this was, with finance. He denied that the present system of raising the duty on the Baltic timber was at all oppressive, for no one had ever come before that House to petition against it; and when the noble Lord opposite observed that the consumers of this timber complained of the duties, he stated that which he was not justified in doing. The shipping trade of this country had been depressed for several years.

In 1819 the number of British ships was 25,482
In 1829 the number was 22,040
Being a decrease in ten years of 3,442
ships; and within the same period there was a decrease of tonnage to the amount of 251,590 tons. A proportionable decrease was apparent in the building of ships, which as every one knew, was the only mode of keeping up the number of ships.
The number of ships built in 1827, in the ports of Great Britain, was 1,719
The number built in 1830 was only 1,075
Being a decrease in the building of ships in three years of 644
When ships were once built they must be employed. He was not now a ship-owner for he got out of the trade as rapidly as he could, knowing it to be ruinous. But he knew the practice was, to transfer the vessel from one owner to another at a loss; and because ships were kept afloat in that way, the shipping interest was said to be in a state of prosperity. He would not trouble the House with reading the statement; but he had in his hand a comparative statement of the British and Foreign shipping employed in the North of Europe for several years; and it would appear, from that statement, that since the Reciprocity system was adopted, the number of British ships engaged in that trade had greatly diminished. If the experience of eleven years was taken, it would appear that the exports from these kingdoms to the North of Europe had decreased considerably; the only exception was the trade with Russia. Taking at a sweep Norway, Denmark, and Prussia, the value of the exports from Great Britain to those countries was—
In 1822 £1,510,040
In 1829 1,24,4,678
Within the same period, the exports to British North America, the trade with which was now proposed to be transferred to the North of Europe, had increased from 1,597,000l. to 2,206,000l. He put it to the House, whether those facts did not require some consideration. It was proposed to transfer the trade with our colonies to foreign nations, who would not take our manufactured goods, though they were willing to supply us with theirs. It was impossible the country could go on much longer with such a delusive system of policy as was pursued, by encouraging the importation of foreign goods, even at some advantage of price, from countries which declined all trade with us. America was the most commercial nation, perhaps, in the world, and possessed numbers of shrewd practical men; and yet America distinctly declined to enter into the system of reciprocity proposed by this country. The fallacious character of that system h;\d been aptly exposed by the former President of the United States, Mr. Munro, and subsequently by Mr. Jefferson, in a work published after his death. At this late hour, and as many other Gentlemen were anxious to speak, he would not trespass further on the attention of the House, though many other topics suggested themselves as worthy of remark.

Mr. Herries

rose amidst cries of "Question" and "Adjourn." He assured the House that it was not his intention to argue the important question now submitted to the Committee. He asked, could any man pretend to give his assent to such important propositions without further consideration? Such an example of what the must call a political trick he had never witnessed. What had they assembled for? What had they come down to consider? The noble Lord had brought them together to consider a part of his Budget— the imposition of a duly of frightful importance to the interests concerned, but still apart of the Budget. Upon coming down, however, to discuss a part of the Budget, a measure of general policy, of the very first importance was submitted to the House. There was a taking off of duty it was true but the proposed measure had nothing to do with the Budget. There were circumstances connected with this revolution in the intention of his Majesty's Ministers well deserving of consideration. He (Mr. Herries) had put a question to the noble Lord to ascertain his views with respect to Ireland on this question. The answer the noble Lord gave was, that the duty on Canada timber was not to be raised in Ireland, but that Baltic timber was to be reduced to 40s. At the time the noble Lord gave that answer, he (Mr. Herries) had no doubt the noble Lord intended to persevere in his original plan. Up to the last moment, the noble Lord had informed the various deputations that waited on him, that the plan he had first introduced was the one he would adhere to. The change must have been effected within a few hours. His Majesty's Ministers had suddenly retreated from a position they were unable to defend: they knew well that a majority of that House could not be found to support them, and, without previous notice, they abruptly changed their front, and came forward with the present measure. The measure now brought forward was different in every respect from that originally brought forward. It was different in its purpose, in its working, and in its terms—it was totally different. No legislature, he contended, had a right to assent to a measure of such importance without the deepest and fullest deliberation. The House was not now called upon to decide upon a part of the Budget, but on a question of general policy. Coming down to decide on one plan, they were called upon to decide on another plan, founded on another principle. He begged not to be understood as giving any opinion on that plan, he had a very strong opinion, but he did not think it necessary now to state it, He did not say that such a plan as that proposed might not be with propriety, and after full consideration, adopted; but a measure brought forward at such an hour, and in such a manner, ought not to be agreed to whatever were its merits. The plan went to alter a system which had been acted upon for ten years, after the fullest consideration, and after a report of a Committee of the House of Commons. If it was resolved to depart from that system, it should not be done without a similar investigation, and an equally prolonged consideration. The vast importance of the proposition was clear from the noble Lord's (Althorp) statement. The noble Lord admitted the injurious effects of the measure on the Canada trade. He only presumed to hope that the measure would not altogether destroy the Canada trade; but it might be gathered from the noble Lord's statement, that it would go pretty well to effect that. Under all these circumstances it was impossible for him to give the present proposition his support. He was not unwilling, if any mode was proposed to investigate the subject, to meet such a proposition with his assent, but he could not now enter into the merits of the question. It was a new Budget, forming no part of the old Budget, and liable to considerable objection. The noble Lord now thought he should be enabled to do without the increase of revenue he had reckoned upon from the change in the timber duties. He found himself richer than he thought he should be when he brought forward his Budget. Now, sanguine as he felt as to the revenue, he could not think that the noble Lord's new conviction was well founded. The noble Lord founded his anticipations of a great increase of revenue by comparing the produce of the months of January and February, this year, with the produce of the same months in 1830. He had pointed out the great increase in the produce of the revenue, and especially the Customs, in those two months, as compared with January and February, 1830. It was right the House should remember, however, that in January and February, 1830, the ports were shut up, and business at a stand, in consequence of protracted frost. The comparison, therefore, was calculated to mislead. If the noble Lord reckoned upon an increase during the whole year, founded upon that in January and February, he proceeded on a poor foundation": building upon that slender foundation, however, the noble Lord calculated that the total sum available at the end of 1832 would only amount to 1,000,000l. Under those ' circumstances, the noble Lord thought he might dispense with the timber duties. It was for the Committee to consider whether the noble Lord was not putting his faith upon a slender foundation, which would render him unable, perhaps, at the close of the year to pay the interest of the public Debt. The reasons which induced him to abstain from entering into the merits of the question ought, he thought, to induce the House not to give its assent to the proposition now made. Before the House adopted any new course, it ought to be solemnly and carefully investigated; and he considered that an investigation by a Committee of that House would be the most expedient. The measure, whenever it was brought forward, ought to be brought forward, not delusively, but fairly, and after proper notice; and they should not be called upon to determine on one proposition, when they were prepared to discuss another. For these reasons, abstaining from touching on the merits of the proposed measure, if it should be pressed to a division, he should certainly divide against it.

Sir. Warburton

said, thnt as many Gentlemen were anxious to address the House, he should propose an adjournment. [This motion was received with cries of "Divide," "Go on," and "Adjourn".]

Lord Althorp

hoped, that however the Committee disposed of the question of adjournment, after the attack made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries), they would suffer him to say a few words. As to the answer which he had given the right hon. Gentleman some days ago, he assured the House it had been given sincerely. But then the right hon. Gentleman charged his Majesty's Ministers with having altered the whole principle of the measure. That he must deny. The hon. member for Boroughbridge (Mr. Attwood) had said the measure was precisely the same in principle as that originally proposed; and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) admitted it was precisely the same measure in principle. It was charged against Ministers, that they had changed their mind; but, he asked, why were Ministers to listen to deputations if they were only to hear them, and not to attend to their representations? It was undoubtedly true that, upon representations being made as to the effect of the suddenness of the change, when he (Lord Althorp) found that the change might be made gradually, without injuring the revenue, he was glad to take advantage of the opportunity. As to the danger to the revenue, the Committee had heard his statement of the grounds on which he had formed his opinion, and they might judge for themselves. For his own part he entertained a perfect confidence on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had represented him as saying that he had only a small degree of hope that his propositions would not destroy the whole of the Canada trade. Now, he had stated that his decided feeling was, that the measure could not destroy the Canada trade, although it might transfer a portion of it.

Mr. Attwood

felt it incumbent on him to move that the Chairman should leave the Chair. The measure now proposed was similar, he admitted, in principle, to that originally proposed by the noble Lord, but it was a different measure of policy, different in all its details, and different in its results. The noble Lord stated, that he had proposed the measure in compliance with the representations made to him. He had proposed the measure at nine o'clock, and called upon the House to decide on it at twelve o'clock.—["No, no!" from the Ministerial Benches.] He begged the noble Lord's pardon; he thought he intended to press the question to a division. As to the motion for Adjournment, the question could not be adjourned, or it must be adjourned for a very long time, as other important questions were to be brought forward. To remedy that inconvenience, and to mark the sense of the House as to the manner in which the measure was brought forward, he should move, that the Chairman do leave the Chair.

The Question having been put on this Motion,

Mr. Warburton

again rose, amidst cries of "Question" and considerable confusion. He expressed his surprise that the last speaker, a Gentleman himself engaged in trade, should not have allowed an adjournment, which would give other Gentlemen engaged in commercial pursuits an opportunity of delivering their sentiments, more particularly as the hon. Member himself had already obtained a patient hearing. If he (Mr. Warburton) was to enter into the subject, he should occupy the Committee for the greater part of an hour. Exhausted as he (Mr. Warburton) and the House were, and knowing that many other Gentlemen wished to address the House on the subject, he (Mr. Warburton) should not speak to it that night, but would persist in his motion for adjournment.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that he had never been involved in greater difficulty than in coming to a decision on the question. He expected that he should be called upon to discuss a portion of the noble Lord's Budget, but he found to his surprise, that, instead of having a portion of the former Budget, the noble Lord thought he had succeeded so well with his Budget of 1831, that he had ventured to make one for 1832. He (Sir Robert Peel) was anxious to hear the matter fully discussed. He could not dismiss financial considerations, nor the interests of the consumers, nor those varied and important considerations which arose out of the question. He felt that the Legislature had attempted too many experiments, and that it was not desirable to add to them by an experiment on the shipping and colonial interests. The noble Lord gave no reason for the proceeding. He had himself completely changed his own view of the question, and could give no reason for the change; yet he expected that, without any consideration, all others should also adopt his altered views. The noble Lord would not accede to the proposition of his right hon. friend (Mr. Herries), and have a Committee similar to that of the year 1821 to inquire into the subject. Such a Committee could inquire far more satisfactorily than it was possible for the whole House to discharge such a duty. They stood upon the report of the House of Commons in 1821, which went fully into the whole subject, and recommended the existing scale. The noble Lord was bound to show that that report was unfounded; but not even one cogent argument had been urged to prove that to be the case, and yet they were to be excluded from that further inquiry which they desired—and this, too, when the Resolutions referred only to a future year, and could not require immediate or instant decision. He did not mean to impute to the noble Lord any desire to take the House by surprise, but he must say, that if such had been the noble Lord's intention, he could not more completely have effected it. An hon. Gentleman had said, on a preceding night, with reference to the question of Reform, that the surprise of the measure then brought forward had taken away his breath; and it really appeared as if the noble Lord had been anxious on this occasion, in a similar measure, to take away the breath of those on the side of the House opposite to himself. As he should not be precluded from further inquiry by supporting the amendment, and as it left the subject open to have a better and fuller inquiry before a Committee, he should certainly support the motion of the hon. member for Borough-bridge.

Lord Palmerston

claimed the vote of his right hon. friend (Sir R. Peel), on the ground that, as he wished for further in- quiry, he ought to support the motion for reporting progress and asking leave to sit again, instead of that for the Chairman to leave the Chair.

Sir R. Peel

was quite astonished at the observations of his noble friend. He was reluctantly, indeed, compelled, by the course which the noble Lord had pursued, to prefer that proposition which would undoubtedly preclude the noble Lord from proceeding further with the question at present. But why did the noble Lord postpone the question to the Friday? Why postpone the discussion to the day preceding the question of Reform, which must necessarily occupy several nights? Why, too, not begin till nine at night, when, on other occasions, the important business of the evening always began at five o'clock. He could not help thinking that this singular delay was intentional; and he could not consent to allow all those important interests involved in this question to remain in a state of suspense till it accorded with the pleasure of the noble Lord to fix some subsequent day for continuing the adjourned Debate. Would the noble Lord either allow this question to have precedence of Reform on Monday, or would he agree to the appointment of a Select Committee? If the noble Lord would do neither of these things, he must vote with the hon. member for Boroughbridge.

Mr. Spring Rice

stated, that it must not be forgotten that the bringing on of this measure was not the act of the Ministers. It had been pressed upon them from the other side of the House, as essentially necessary for the satisfaction of important interests in the country; neither were they answerable for the lateness of the hour at which it was brought forward. The Sugar Bill admitted of no delay, as the duty expired on the 5th of April. The Colonial Trade Bill was equally urgent for other causes, and they were not responsible for the debate which arose upon it.

Mr. Goulburn

said, that he was one of those who had pressed for an early decision by Parliament of the question respecting timber, as brought forward by the noble Lord in his Budget, and which had been unnecessarily and too long delayed, to the prejudice of those interested in the colonies and shipping. But had the noble Lord told him, when he pressed him on the subject, that he meant to lay no new duty in 1831, he should have been satisfied to wait to any future period the discussion of the political question involved in a future change of the timber duties. Such arrangements could not affect the trade of this year, and it was only with reference to that trade that he had applied to the noble Lord. In voting upon the present question he did so on the ground, not of stifling discussion, but on the refusal of the noble Lord to accede to the proposal of appointing a Committee to inquire into the whole subject, considering that that which had been settled by a Committee, after a laborious inquiry, in 1821, ought not to be completely changed without that careful examination and inquiry which could be effected but in a Committee.

The House then divided—For the Chairman leaving the Chair, 236; Against it 190 Majority against Ministers 46.

The House accordingly resumed.