§ Lord William Lennox
moved for a Return of the quantity of Cotton imported into this country during the last year.
§ Mr. Littleton
thought this a good opportunity for urging the expediency of having a volume containing a statement of the commercial situation of the country laid upon the Table at the commencement of every Session of Parliament. He knew that his right hon. friend had been exerting himself in this matter, and he wished to inquire if there was any probability of such a volume being prepared and laid on the Table?
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
fully concurred in the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman, a compliance with which would, in the long run, be the means of saving a large sum of money to the country. A plan for the purpose had been nearly matured, and it was the intention of Ministers to act upon it in the approaching Session, The documents then presented would not be confined merely to exports and imports; but would also relate to the internal statistics of the country, so as to give every Member who chose to inspect them, a clear insight into its prospects and condition. Of course the first attempt of the kind must necessarily be imperfect, and it would be 930 capable, perhaps, of great improvements; but at all events, it would render needless many of the Motions for Returns, the preparation of which at present cost annually so large a sum of the public money.
§ Mr. Courtenay
said, there could be no doubt as to the utility of such a volume as that to which the right hon. Gentleman referred; but it was unfair on his part to leave the House to infer that this proposed work commenced with him. So far from that being the case, he could assure the hon. member for Staffordshire, that he at first took the compliment, with which the hon. Member closed his remarks, to himself. When he was at the Board of Trade, he employed himself in drawing up such an account, though he certainly had not the advantage which the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have had by way of assistance, for nothing was incurred in the shape of expense. A man ought not to talk of himself; but he might say, that the statement he drew up, was declared by an eminent merchant of Liverpool, to be worth all the papers that had ever been printed on the subject. That account, however, could only be made up one year in arrear. He wished every success to the plan in which his Majesty's Government was engaged; but he could not suffer it to be said, that these improvements began with them.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
hoped that this arrangement might be improved in such a way as to give every requisite information. But he wished to refer to an observation made by the right hon. member for Totness, from which it might be inferred, that the undertaking would involve the country in expense. On the contrary, by it a great saving would be effected. The necessity of such a work was almost superseded, while compiling it was rendered comparatively easy by Mr. M'Culloch's work, which contained a great mass of information upon these subjects. He meant the Commercial Dictionary, a book admirably arranged.
§ Returns ordered.