§ Mr. Clay
, pursuant to notice, rose to submit a Resolution to the effect of admitting foreign sugar to be refined for exportation. The hon. Member having stated, that he had hoped that the West-India interest, in whose favour the present mischievous monopoly was maintained, would have, of their own accord, proposed a relaxation of that monopoly, seeing that it had, without essentially benefiting themselves, 1165 brought the sugar refining trade to the verge of ruin, proceeded to say, that he would not deal in idle declamation, but prove the terribly depressed condition of the sugar-refining trade by the irrefragable evidence of facts. He would first show the amount of the exports of refined sugar from the year 1816 to the year 1826, the period when the produce of the colonies was, all things considered, about the same as at present; and then from the year 1826 to 1832. In 1810, the amount of refined sugar exported was 584,000 cwt.; in 1817, 697,000 cwt.; in 1818, 711,000cwt.; in 1819, 520,000cwt.; in 1820, 646,000cwt.; in 1821, 640,000cwt.;in 1822,874,000cwt.; in 1823, 450,000cwt.; in 1824,435,000cwt.; in 1825, 389,000cwt.; and in 1826, 344,000cwt.; being a fall of more than one-half since 1818, when the exportation was at its maximum. During the same period the produce of the British plantations had increased but very inconsiderably, being 3,400,000 cwt.; in 1816', and but 3,900,000cwt. in 1826; giving an increase of no more than 500,000cwt. The home consumption, however, had increased at a much higher rate than the produce of the colonies during the same period, being but 2,500,000cwt in 1816, while it was 3,550,000cwt. in 1826. It should be borne in mind that this estimate of the home consumption being founded on official returns, was necessarily under the mark; for being founded on the amount of duty paid for home consumption, deducting the drawback on export, which was double the amount of the home consumption duty, the amount consumed appeared less by half of the amount of drawback on exports than it really was. He had stated the amounts up to 1826. In 1825, the sugar of the Mauritius was admitted at an equal duty with the sugar of the British plantations; but in 1827, so pressing were the complaints of the sugar-refiners of the want of raw material to continue their trade, that Mr. Huskisson by an Order in Council permitted foreign sugar to be imported for the purpose of refining for exportation. This permission was embodied in an Act of Parliament, which was renewed in 1829 and 1830, but expired on the 5th of July, 1831, since which it had not been renewed; and, as a consequence, the trade had been brought to the utmost verge of ruin. In 1827, when the sugar-refiners complained to Mr. Huskisson, the amount of exports was 409,000 cwt.; in 1828 it was 450,000 cwt.; in 1829,475,000cwt; in 1830,607,000cwt.; 1166 showing a steady increase in consequence of the admission of foreign sugar. The falling off in the export trade which had taken place since the Bill of 1827 was permitted to expire, would appear the more striking, if he compared the exports of 1831, when they amounted to 580,000 cwt., with the exports in the two first quarters in the years 1832 and 1833. The numbers would stand thus:—In the first quarter of 1831, the number was 145,000 cwt.; in the second quarter, 160,000 cwt.; in 1832, the numbers stood 150,000 cwt. and 100,000 cwt.; and in 1833 they were but 76,000 and 59,000 cwt.; being "a falling off of more than 130,000 cwt. in half-a-year. He apprehended, therefore, that the trade was hastening to annihilation, and, unless the Legislature afforded some remedy, it must sink into irredeemable ruin? He could not well conceive on what ground his Motion could be resisted. It could not at all affect the monopoly of home consumption which the West-Indies enjoyed, and could not lessen the price of their produce, inasmuch as that produce was barely on a par with the home consumption. This was plain from the fact that the consumption was in 1832 about 4,000,000 cwt. in round numbers, while the imports from the colonies were but 4,435,000 cwt.; leaving but 135,000 cwt. for exporting both in the raw and a refined state. Besides that, the stock in hand was 120,000 cwt. less at the end than at the commencement of that year. There was every reason also to believe, that the crop of 1833 would be 30,000 hogsheads less than that of 1832; so that, in fact, the refiners had to compete in the market with the home consumers of an article the home consumption of which was fully equal to the supply. This desperate game the refiners had actually attempted to play to the very verge of destruction, and, as he had stated, unless Parliament admitted the importation of foreign sugar, a most important branch of the industry of the country would be totally ruined. The deplorable effect which the prohibition of the importation of foreign sugar had on the refining trade would appear in a striking light when he stated, that whereas, in 1830, there were 224 pans at work in the metropolis, in 1833 there were but seventy; the falling off being to 210 pans in 1831, to 183 in 1832, and to seventy in the present year. This was a strong practical fact that spoke volumes. Nor was this great depression confined to the sugar-trade of the metropolis. In Scotland all the sugar 1167 pans Lad stopped working; in Liverpool two-thirds were out of employ; in Bristol not more than one-half were in use; and in Hull two-thirds were idle; and thus it might be said, that two-thirds of the sugar refining trade throughout the country was at a complete stand still. Nor was this all—the depression extended to other branches of domestic industry and commerce. He had been informed by a most respectable builder, that in 1828, his bill for work done in sugar-refining factories amounted to 700l.; in 1830 to 3,200l.; in 1831, to 3,300l.; in 1832 to 1,389l.; and from that period to the present time the whole value of work done by him in those factories was only 3l. 7s. 6d. A carter connected with the factories had experienced a diminution in his business to the extent of 15l. a-day; a cooper, who used to employ 100 men, now only employed six men a-week, and a bricklayer, who furnished occupation to forty men a-week, could now find work for only two. If the House delayed to grant the relief which the refiners sought for, misery would not only be inflicted upon them at present, but hope extinguished for the future. Already the trade was leaving the English shores, and he had been informed by an engineer of much eminence, who was ready to give evidence, to the fact at the Bar of that House, that he had received orders to fit up refining-works to be used at Amsterdam, and on the Rhine; but, he added, the carrying those orders into effect, by erection of the refineries depended solely on the fate which might attend the present Motion. That Gentleman gave it distinctly as his opinion, that if the Motion was acceded to these refineries would not be erected abroad; and stated, that in the event of its rejection, he had received orders to export the machinery. He (Mr. Clay) had received information of a similar nature from other quarters, and he knew that orders to a very considerable extent had reached London for the exportation of the improved refining machinery, which were to be executed, provided that the Motion he was about to submit to the House failed of success. He had hitherto confined himself to a statement of the injury which the present system inflicted on one important and extensive branch of manufacture, but the injustice which the people of this country generally suffered from it was not less striking or less worthy of observation. In the first place, by the effect of the monopoly enjoyed by the West-Indians of supplying the 1168 refining establishments with raw sugar, the country was at the present moment paying as much as 7s. or 9s. per cwt. more than it need pay, provided foreign sugar was admitted for refining. In other words, the people were paying to the West-India proprietors a tax on the whole amount of sugars refined of not less amount than 1,500,000l. a-year. There was another subject to which he wished to call the attention of the House, but to which he had not as yet adverted, because he did not desire to mix it up with the rise or decay of the refining trade—he alluded to what in reality did exist to a considerable amount—a bounty on the refining of British sugar. The refineries were compelled to use exclusively the produce of the British colonies, for the purpose of refining, and a drawback was allowed on its exportation in a refined state. The amount of the drawback was calculated upon this principle—that the exact sum paid by the refiner on the raw sugar should be returned to him on the exportation of the refined article; and it was reckoned that I cwt. of raw sugar would suffice for the manufacture of 61 lbs. of refined sugar, and 81 lbs. of bastard sugar. But there could not be a doubt, that a greater quantity of the last-mentioned description of sugar might be extracted from I cwt. of raw; and, therefore, the refiner received a larger sum in the shape of drawback than he originally paid as duty. This, then, constituted an absolute bounty on the exportation of refined sugar the produce of our colonies. With respect to the amount of the bounty so obtained there existed various opinions; and it was perhaps difficult to arrive at a true result, because the quantity of refined sugar which any given quantity of raw sugar would produce depended entirely on the degree of skill employed in the manufacture. Taking, however, all the circumstances of the case into consideration, he was inclined to think that the amount of the bounty was not less than 5s. per cwt.; and, therefore, it would be worth the refiner's while, unless he received an equivalent bounty on the exportation of foreign refined sugar, to give 5s. per cwt. more for British raw sugar than for foreign raw sugar. That, however, did not entirely account for the price of British refined sugar being 7d. or 7s. higher than that of foreign refined sugar. The difference was, perhaps, mainly to be attributed to the monopoly of the sugar-market enjoyed by the West-India proprietors, and the want 1169 of a sufficient quantity of the article to supply the demand. The refiners, in consequence, felt themselves compelled to bid against each other to obtain a supply; in point of fact, they threw away the whole of the profits they might reasonably expect to derive from the use of their capital; and they were at the present moment losing from 2s. to 3s. on every cwt. of refined sugar. These reasons explained the difference of the price of British and foreign sugars; and he repeated, that a tax was in consequence imposed upon the people of this country, for the benefit of the colonial proprietors, to the amount of 1,500,000l. a-year. But this was not all the injury produced by the existing laws regulating the refining of sugar. In consequence of the want of a market here for foreign sugar, our manufacturers, who shipped goods to countries where sugar was produced, were deprived of the power of bringing returns to this country. He had in the course of that Session presented a petition to the House in which it was stated that five sugar countries, to which British manufactures of the value of 5,000,000l. were annually exported, returned to this country articles of their own produce of the value of only 1,000,000l. sterling. British shipping was therefore to that extent deprived of employment. It had also been stated on good authority, as an instance of the ill effects of the existing monopoly, that of four British vessels which sailed monthly during the whole of the last year from Liverpool to Brazil, not one returned freighted with the produce with which their cargoes had been purchased. In his opinion the existing restrictions on the importation of the raw material used in this particular branch of manufacture were obviously so contrary to every sound principle of political science, that he thought he should only be unpardonably wasting the time of the House if he stopped to enforce an axiom in politics which no one disputed; but this circumstance he could not omit to state, that the Order in Council agreed to in the time of Mr. Huskisson, and the Bill which that right hon. Gentleman brought in for the introduction of foreign sugar for the purpose of refining, had had the effect, as he believed it was their object, to extend the sugar-refining trade. New refineries were built, and the old ones were enlarged; and would that House, after encouraging men of capital to enter into the trade, now deprive them of the means of subsistence by forcing them to engage in a ruinous competition with 1170 foreigners? It had been said, that foreign European governments were giving every encouragement to the establishment of sugar refineries in their countries; and that whatever enactments might be passed by Parliament on the subject, British manufactures would not he able long to retain the monopoly of the foreign trade. He totally denied the truth of that assertion; he believed that the tendency of the existing system was to create a competition in foreign countries, which it would be difficult hereafter to get rid of; but if the restrictions under which the trade laboured were immediately removed, there could be no doubt that British manufacturers would not only successfully compete with, but entirely defeat their foreign rivals, and no protection extended to them by their own governments would enable that trade to flourish abroad when opposed by British enterprise. If the free trader should be excluded from other countries, the vicious regulations imposed by a narrow policy would be defeated by the contraband dealer, who, diffusing among the great family of mankind the various and multiplied productions of the earth, supplied the wants of one country from the superabundance of another. He conceived, that on the plea of justice, of necessity, or of expediency, the Motion he was about to propose could not be refused; and the only answer he anticipated would be given to it was, that the present was an inconvenient time for acceding to it, in consequence of the great changes which were being made in colonial policy, and the necessity of doing nothing which might alarm the mind of the West-India proprietor. In this argument he could not concur. He did not think that the West-India planters had any claim to an advantage at the expense of a large class of their fellow-countrymen; and, with respect to the time, no better opportunity could be taken, in his opinion, for making the proposed alteration than the present, when the country had acted with such unexampled liberality towards the West-India proprietors. The noble Lord opposite was understood to have come to an understanding with the West-India proprietors, that the question should not he mooted this Session; but the noble Lord should recollect, that what he now proposed had been recommended by him in 1831, though without success. From the part, however, which the noble Lord took on that occasion, it was expected by all parties interested on the point, that he 1171 would have brought in a measure of relief early in the Session of 1832. He knew not what was the nature of the understanding come to between the noble Lord and the West-India body, but when it was recollected that a loan of 15,000,000l. had been changed into a gift of 20,000,000l., it was too much to say, that a pledge given at one time should be binding at another, when all the circumstances had undergone a change. He entreated the Government and the House to consider the injurious effect which the existing restrictions on the refining trade, combined with the opening of the China trade (a measure which he admitted to be good in itself), must have on the eastern parts of the metropolis. Several parishes in the Tower Hamlets would be absolutely ruined, and he thought he had a right, under these circumstances, to call upon the House not to inflict that ruin recklessly and precipitately. There were at the present moment 340,000 cwt. of foreign sugar lying at the doors of the refiners, which, if admitted, would give employment and bread to many very deserving and distressed artisans; and in the name of justice and humanity and common sense he called upon the House to grant relief to a large industrious and meritorious portion of the community. He should leave the Resolution in the hands of the House, in the full confidence, that they would deal properly by it. He knew too well he had not done justice to the subject, but this happily was of no great moment, for the ease was such a clear one—the sufferings endured under the present system were so apparent, that the most common-place observer must be convinced of their existence. He had worded his Motion in general terms, because it involved a point of revenue, and if it were agreed to, he thought the arrangements should be left to the proper department of the Government. He begged leave to move "that it is expedient that foreign sugars be immediately admitted into this country for the purpose of being refined for exportation."
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that in leaving to the Government to decide upon the best means of carrying into effect the object of his Resolution the hon. Member had managed to divest himself of, by no means the easiest branch of his duties. It was very easy to say, that such and such a measure was expedient, but quite the reverse to lay down the means by which it could best be carried into effect. Therefore it was with no small surprise that he had heard the 1172 hon. Gentleman conclude by moving a Resolution, laying down a general proposition, to which there were few, considering the depressed condition of the refining trade, who could dissent, and then quickly transferring the onus and responsibility of carrying that proposition into practical operation upon the shoulders of his Majesty's Ministers. The real, indeed the sole, difficulty attendant upon the hon. Gentleman's proposition, was to ascertain in what manner the admission of foreign sugar for refiners could take place without inflicting a hardship on the West-India planter, without affecting the revenue of Great Britain, and, finally, without putting into the pockets of the refiners a considerable and unmerited bounty. Indeed, if the latter difficulty could be got over, the two former might soon be laid aside. But how was that difficulty to be got over? The hon. Gentleman seemed to argue that the question of bounty could not interfere, inasmuch as the refiners of our colonial produce were at present in receipt of it; but he (Lord Althorp) was by no means prepared to admit, that because one body of men received a bounty which they should not receive, the same advantage should be extended to another body of men. He had no hesitation in saying, that he thought the refiners of our own West-India produce ought not to have a bounty, and, acting on that principle, he could not sanction any measure which could by possibility give a similar advantage to the refiners of foreign produce. The hon. Gentleman, in tracing the history of the progress of legislative interference in the refining trade of the country, had alluded to an Act which expired in 1831, and which he (Lord Althorp) had without success endeavoured to have renewed towards the end of the Session of that year. Speaking of that Bill the hon. Gentleman very justly took upon himself to say, that he (Lord Althorp) proved, by his conduct: on the occasion of its expiration, he was friendly to a renewal of the system which the measure established. Such, he assured him, was the case; and he thought he had proved it sufficiently by his endeavours to have it renewed. "Why then," asked the hon. Member, "do you not now renew it?" The answer to that question was obvious. If the hon. Member was not, he was sure every Gentleman who belonged to the last Parliament was aware, that on his seeking to renew the Bill, his proposal was strongly opposed by the West-India interests, on the ground that, under the provisions of the 1173 Act, a considerable bounty was received by the refiners on the refining of foreign sugar, which tended much to diminish the sale of our own West-India sugar. There was, indeed, while the Act was in force, a bounty given on West-India sugar, but it was by no means equal to that paid on foreign produce. What the amount of the bounty on foreign sugar really was at the present time he did not know, but he believed the hon. Member had not exaggerated when stating it to be 5s. on each cwt. The result of the objection on the part of the West-India interests was, that it was determined by calculations to ascertain the relative amounts of the bounties on West-India and foreign produce, and then to introduce such a measure as was most likely to consult the interests of both parties engaged in the matter. Those calculations for some time past had been in train, but as yet, he believed, were incomplete, and consequently his Majesty's Ministers were, up to the present hour, precluded from taking any steps, either to renew the Act which expired in 1831, or to propose any measure whatever on the subject. Having said so much in explanation of his conduct, he would briefly explain to the hon. Member and the House what his opinions were, regarding the question before it. Until it was possible to ascertain to a certainty what was the amount of bounties at present paid on refilled sugar, whether foreign or West Indian, he did not think it would be proper to sanction any measure founded on the principle of the Act which expired in 1831. "But," said the hon. Member, "something must at once be done, and I call upon you to do it." In answer to that call, he had only to repeat what he had already communicated to a deputation of the sugar refiners of the metropolis. What he wished to do during the present Session was, to enable persons to refine foreign sugar in bond, and then to export the whole amount so refined to foreign markets without paying duty. By that means he thought two important points would be attained—first, the revenue would be secured against the possibility of any loss; and, secondly, relief would be at once afforded to the trade, without giving any unfair advantage either to the refiners or to the West-Indian interests. The refiners, he thought it likely enough, would not consider the principle to refine in bond and then export, a great boon, because it did away altogether with the bounty; but the question with which Parliament had most to do was, whether 1174 or not that, permission could enable the refiners to carry on their trade with success. The refiners alleged, that all they required was opportunity to keep up their trade; and surely, if they were allowed to refine as much foreign sugar as they could get, with merely the proviso, that when so refined it should be exported, they could not say, that ample means of carrying on their trade were withheld by Parliament. But then it might be asked, how would such an arrangement affect the West-India interest? In the course of the present Session, in a communication he had had with deputations of the West-India body, he had stated to them what he considered ought to be done for the protection of the British sugar refiners; adding, however, at the same time, that, under the peculiar circumstances of the situation in which the body stood at the present moment, he could not think of proposing any measure on the subject to which they could offer any reasonable objection. As yet he was unprepared to say what the opinion of the West-India body was, but he had no hesitation in saying he did not think the West Indians would offer any opposition whatever to his proposal. The principles on which he had proceeded and would proceed, embraced a distinct understanding that the produce of the West-India colonies should have the power to exclude foreign sugar from the home market; but he did not think the West-India body should have the power of preventing the refining of foreign sugar for the foreign markets. With regard to the Motion, then, which the hon. Gentleman had made, he had only to say that, if he would not consent to omit the word "immediately," unless on the understanding that the sugar so admitted should be refined in bond, and then exported (and then he had no objection to the Resolution being passed as it stood), he should be under the necessity of opposing his proposition. The object which the hon. Member had in view was doubtless, either the immediate revival of the Act which expired in 1831, or the enactment of some such measure, and to neither of those objects could he at the present moment give his co-operation. The great difficulty in the way of passing a decisive measure was the impossibility of ascertaining the amount of refined sugar to be expected from each hundred weight of the raw material. Sixty-one pounds of refined, or eighty-one pounds of bastard sugar, was the general calculation; but both, he believed, were incorrect, and until 1175 the calculation could be accurately made, it was not possible for the Legislature to frame a measure founded upon anything like just or equitable principles. For the present, therefore, nothing more than a temporary enactment could be proposed; and should the West-India body not offer any opposition to his proposition, that foreign sugar might be refined in bond, and then exported, he would lose no time in introducing and passing a measure for that purpose. Whether it would remedy the evils of which the trade complained, he could not of course undertake to say; but admitting that something must at once be done to effect that object, he contended that no better proposition presented itself. The noble Lord concluded by leaving it to the hon. Member to decide, whether he would omit the word "immediately," or apply his Resolution only to sugar in bond, and when refined, at once exported for foreign markets, in which case he would not oppose it.
said, that the permission to the refiners to refine foreign sugar in bond, and then export it for foreign consumption, could do no harm whatever to the West-India interests, but, at the same time, that it would do little, if any, good to the refining trade. Some time ago, such a measure of relief would have been a boon, but the trade, he feared, was now too much distressed to be assisted by it. He feared Government would find no small difficulty in framing regulations to secure the exportation of the whole of the refined produce, and unless this plan was completed in that regard, they would, beyond a doubt and with justice, meet with opposition from the West-India body.
§ Mr. Hawes
expressed his approbation of the plan of relief which had been announced, and hoped the noble Lord would lose no time in introducing a measure for carrying it into effect. It would, it was true, be but a temporary expedient—a species of legislation which, on general principles, it was unadvisable to adopt; but as it would enable the trade to get on until a more permanent and more efficient enactment could be devised, he trusted it would meet with no impediment in its progress through the House.
§ Mr. Bernal
said, that the only point on which the West-India body hesitated before expressing their concurrence in the plan of the noble Lord referred to the possibility of binding the refiners to conduct the process of their trade in bond, or, more 1176 literally speaking, within the narrow circumference of four walls. If that could be done, or if adequate means could be devised to secure the interests of the West Indian, in the British markets, he was confident they would most joyfully assent to any measure which procured relief to the refining trade. For his own part, and he spoke as a member of the West-India body, he entertained no fear that the intentions of the Legislature would be evaded by the refiners if proper precautions were taken, and he would, therefore, should the noble Lord decide upon introducing the measure, give it his support.
§ Lord Sandon
contended, that if the sugar refiners were not satisfied with the arrangement which the noble Lord proposed, they had something more in view than the mere object of keeping up their trade. He understood they were not satisfied, and had expressed an opinion, that the permission to refine sugar in bond, and then export it, would do them no good whatever. Now, if that information were correct, how could they make out a case to prove that their only object in stirring the question was to obtain permission to refine sugar for exportation? If that was their sole object, who, he asked, objected to allowing them to refine it in bond? He contended, that the refiners were in error in attributing the depressed condition of their trade to the protection of the home market against foreign sugars. The real cause of the decline was to be found in the fact, that since the peace almost all foreign Powers had adopted the protecting system, and in each was encouraged home manufactories, to the exclusion of British products? In France, for instance, so great was the encouragement held out by Government to resident refiners, that the bounties paid on home refined sugar during the last year exceeded 76,000l., a sum nearly equal to the duties levied on account of that article. But, even admitting that the exertions of foreign Powers to encourage home manufactories was not the cause of the decline, he denied that the distress at present felt by the refined sugar trade was attributable to the prohibition against foreign sugars. Hamburgh had free access to foreign sugars, and yet her refining trade was equally depressed with that of Great Britain. The noble Lord in conclusion stated he would offer no opposition to the motion, and he only hoped it might have the effect which its mover seemed to expect from it.
§ Dr. Lushington
thought the statement of the noble Lord who had just sat down, in which he attributed the lamentable decline of the refining trade to the encouraging system of foreign Powers, afforded the best possible argument in favour of an extensive alteration in the laws which pressed on the refining trade. Unless Great Britain gave her manufactures as much encouragement as foreign Powers extended to theirs, the time was not distant when our commercial prosperity, and with it the general prosperity of the nation, must fall. The hon. and learned Member proceeded at great length to depict the distress which was felt among his constituents in consequence of the decline in the refining trade, and to urge on the Government the propriety of not losing an hour in granting them some relief. Those whose interests he advocated asked for no bounty—no unfair advantage—no unjust monopoly. They acknowledged the title of the West Indian colonies to supply the home markets; but they put in their claims to be allowed to employ all the means in their power to keep up their trade. He hoped the proposition of the noble Lord would at once be carried, for, unless something was immediately done, before Christmas the trade would be altogether at an end. The proposal of the noble Lord was unquestionably inadequate, but it would effect some relief, and he would therefore hail it with gratitude.
§ Mr. Robinson
would support the noble Lord in carrying his proposition into effect, not from a feeling that it was adequate for the entire relief of the trade, but from the conviction, that if nothing was effected before Parliament separated, there would be no necessity for legislating at all next Session, it being impossible the trade could linger out three months longer in its present depressed condition.
Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, he should detain the House but a short time; but if they understood this subject, as he was sure they desired to do, they would agree with him, that it was one of the most important that could be brought under the consideration of the House. If the hon. Gentleman had studied the question a little more fully, he would not have spoken in the manner he had done, nor have deemed the question so easy of solution. He did not blame the hon. Member for the objections he had made to the present system, but because the hon. Member had not sketched out a plan by which he could 1178 effect the object he aimed at. Every one must agree with the hon. Member, that it was most desirable the end he had in view should be attained, and that full employment should be given to the inhabitants of the Tower Hamlets. He believed, that that hon. Member desired to effect that object; but it must be effected in such a manner as to enable the House to adhere to the principle, from which he trusted they would not depart, of keeping, so far as it was possible, the monopoly of the home consumption of sugar for the West-Indian sugars, especially now that the system of negro slavery was about to be abolished. His opinion was, that this country should, as much as possible, retain the business of refining for the whole world; but that this could not be done without giving a bounty on such refining, which he thought inexpedient, or admitting foreign sugars for refining here. He did not believe, that this country could become a refining country to any extent without doing the latter of these two things. Still they might do as much as they could to produce that effect. He had already prepared a bill to admit foreign sugar in bond for refining. With respect to the political part of the measure he had nothing to do with it—that he left to his noble friend; but the other part of the Bill he had prepared, and was ready at once to introduce it. Now, however, he was told that such a measure would not satisfy the refiners, who wanted the Bill of 1830. To calculate the amount of duty that should be laid on foreign sugar it was necessary to proceed on a proper basis. He should to-morrow lay on the Table of the House the last Report on the experiments undertaken by Dr. Ure, at the desire of the Government, and carried on during a period of eighteen months. There were experiments which showed that on foreign sugars, when refined with West-Indian sugars, there was, in fact, a bounty paid on their export. He should now state some facts to show how that bounty operated, and that it therefore became impossible to frame any scale for the admission of foreign sugars on a duty, unless a bounty was given upon foreign sugars when refined, which he hoped that House would not agree to. There had been three experiments as to the refining of West-Indian sugars. The first was on a parcel of in different sugars purchased at the average price, and the only bounty given on that was 1s. 6d. On the second experiment 1179 the bounty was 5s., and on the third it was 6s.; these were on West-Indian sugars. This bounty would be beneficial to those engaged in the trade, though they would not directly receive it. He had made as many inquiries as he could on the subject, and in spite of the repugnance of most men to exhibit their accounts, or to show the result of the calculations on the process of refining, there was, however, one manufacturer who had shown him all the books for the last three years, with calculations of the amount of the bounty. In the first year the amount was 4s. 10d. on the second 49. 3d.; and on the third year it was SI. 9I/. That showed that there was on such a mode of refining a bounty of from 4s. to 5s., if not higher, on every cwt. of West-Indian sugar, which was refined in this country. Experiments had then been made with respect to the refining of foreign sugar, and on the first parcel the bounty was 2s. per cwt. That parcel was Brazilian sugar, but when that kind of sugar was mixed with one-half of West Indian sugar, the bounty rose from 2s. to 3s. 3d. the cwt. This fact showed that, by some chemical combination, the two sugars when united, could be refined so as to produce a greater value than belonged to either when refined separately. When the Brazilian sugar, subjected to this experiment, Vas sugar purchased not at 3s. below the average price, but at the average price itself, it produced on being refined, a bounty equal to 8s. the cwt. It, therefore, appeared, that the yielding of sugars was different on account of the qualities of the different sugars before being refined, and that could not always be determined by the price, which could not be relied on as the exact measure on which the drawback could be founded. The revenue ought to be placed in the situation of repaying on export no more drawback than it had received duty when the sugars were imported for the purpose of refining. He conceived that the result of these experiments must be conclusive, not only to the mind of his hon. friend, the member for the Tower Hamlets, but to the mind of the hon. member for Worcester. The only course which it appeared to him could now be properly followed, would be to allow of refining all sugars in bond. Then, however, they must prepare to be met by a difficulty. There would be no difficulty in allowing sugars in bond to be refined, if, according to the trade of the refiners, those persons were not obliged, from the state of the 1180 market, to refine such sugars for home consumption. The refiner, however, could not always depend on exportation alone. Yet if he refined sugars in bond, he must be stopped from receiving the benefit of the home market, so far as related to such sugars. This would not give him all the advantage it was desirable to afford him. In giving him the liberty of refining sugars in bond, it would not be advisable to permit him to refine foreign sugars only, but he must be allowed to mix foreign sugars with others, for one great advantage to the refiner, as he had shown, was in mixing these different sugars in the process of refining. The object of the Legislature, therefore, must be to enable the sugar refiner to bring together these two qualities of sugar. He should propose, therefore, to permit all sugars in bond to be refined for the purpose of exportation without payment of the duty. That would answer the end of his hon. friend opposite, with the single exception he had already stated. To any other plan he should object, because he believed there could be no other that would not be in some degree more or less injurious to the revenue. Then came another important branch of the question—namely, the bounty on West-Indian sugars. The hon. Member had said, in reply to the observation made, that that House could not wish to act on the principle of giving a bounty to foreign sugars. "Why, you give a bounty on West-India sugars—then why not on foreign sugars? If it is good in one case, it must be good in another; if it be just in one case it must be just in another." In that principle he concurred, and he took that opportunity of saying, that his conviction was, that the only means they had of settling this question was that of doing what was just to all parties—namely, permitting the industry of the people of this country to be employed in furnishing, if they could, all the markets of the world, and taking care that neither of these things should happen—that on the one hand, the people of this country should not pay a higher price for the article they consumed in consequence of the bounty that was given on sugars to be exported—nor, on the other hand, that the refiners should suffer to the same extent. The only course which they could adopt was, to determine that all sugars which remained in this country, but were intended for exportation, whether British, colonial, or foreign sugars, should be allowed to be refined while in bond. It 1181 was notorious, that the quality of the sugar had most extraordinarily improved in the West Indies, so that they now brought sugar almost in a refined state from the Colonies, but it was entered as raw sugar, and came in at a duty of 24s. He would state, if the Committee would permit him, one example to show the mode in which, from their system of drawbacks, vicious schemes were resorted to for private benefit, at the public expense, These were with the object of getting in sugar at a low duty to send it out and receive a high drawback. Latterly a process had been adopted in the West Indies, by which one boiling of sugar produced it so much crystallized, that it could, without further process in purifying, be brought over here, and being admitted on paying a duty of 24s., could at once, simply by being put into a mould, and put through a stove, and without further trouble or expense, pass the standard of single loaf sugar, and receive a bounty of 36s. By this method the importer of such sugar put 12s. a cwt. into his pocket, and the country was defrauded to that amount. Measures had been taken to put an end to that particular method of defrauding the revenue, but he mentioned the circumstance to show how the system of drawbacks worked. It was said, that by the plan now proposed the refining trade carried on in the West Indies would be injured. To this he would reply, that if that particular branch of industry could prosper in the West Indies, well and good, but let it not be at the expense of this country. He believed, it was impossible, for the reasons already stated to fix a proper amount of drawback—that was an amount exactly equal to the duty paid—and, therefore, the question was, whether this country was to continue to pay the enormous sum it now paid, under the name of drawback, or bounty? It was important to inquire what was the amount of the tax levied on the people of this country as a bounty on sugar. Taking the amount of the bounty at 4s. per cwt, which he believed was under the mark, and taking the total quantity of sugar imported annually to be 4,000,000 cwt; the sum paid by way of bounty would amount to 800,000l., and that sum was paid without the country knowing anything of it. Now, it was not for him to propose at present to abolish all bounties, but, if they existed, he thought the sum so applied should be known to the country, and appropriated by the House. With respect to 1182 the particular evils and inconveniencies which had been pointed out, there was no other way in which they could be got rid of but by getting rid of the system of drawbacks. In order that he might not be misunderstood, he wished to explain what he had said as to the amount paid by the people of this country as a bounty on sugar. He did not mean to say that so large a sum as 800,000l. was lost to the revenue. The revenue only suffered to the extent of the decrease of exportation suppose the value of the sugar exported to be 1,000,000l., then the loss to the revenue was 200,000l.; but this, by the price of the article, was raised in this country to the amount of the bounty paid on sugar exported; and the total quantity of the sugar imported being 4,000,000 cwts, as already staled, he thought it was not too much to say, that the consumers of sugar in this country paid the sum of 800,000l. as bounty. They should take measures to know whether the duty had been paid or not before they allowed the bounty on the sugar exported after being refined. The right hon. Member apologised for having detained the House so long, and expressed his hope, that the hon. Member would alter his Motion to the following form:—"That it is expedient that sugar under lock be admitted for refining, for the purpose of exportation." That would give the hon. Member all he required, unless he was prepared with some plan founded on a scale of duties altogether different from the present, or unless the hon. Member wished to give a bounty to the export of foreign sugar; a scheme to which it was to be hoped, the House would not give their assent.
§ Mr. Patrick Stewart
said, that the Motion exceeded the limit put forth in the petition. All that the West Indians wanted was to be dealt justly with; and he defended them from the imputations cast on them by the right hon. Gentleman. As to the observations about distress, he thought that that ought to be; put out of the question; for it was but distress against distress. All that they required was, to be secured against the competition of those slave-driving colonies, where the cost of labour was less than in our Colonies. The colonies would be so much injured by the change now about to be made, that they must depend on something more than the export trade. They wished that the sugar refiners of this country should be put into good spirits, but that that should not 1183 be done at the expense of the sunken and degraded colonies.
Mr. Alderman Thompson
had come down with the intention of supporting the Motion of his hon. friend (the member for the Tower Hamlets); but after the very able speech of the right hon. Gentleman he had determined to support the Amendment, if it should be put as such. His Majesty's Ministers did right in determining, even at that late period of the Session, to relieve this important branch of the commerce of our country. He thought that the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets ought to be satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's proposition, at least for the present Session.
§ Mr. Harvey
congratulated the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets, upon the Government having conceded—for such he thought they had done—all that had been asked. He was a convert to the doctrines of the right honorable Gentleman, although he had entered the House determined to oppose him. The right hon. Gentleman had succeeded in making a dry technical subject interesting.
§ Mr. Briscoe
congratulated the hon. member for the Tower Hamlets on his success, and congratulated the country on the results which must follow from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, since he had stated that not less than 800,000l. were paid as a tax by the people of this country. He trusted that that money would in future he allowed to remain in the pockets of the sugar consumers; the more especially, as that amount would be sufficient to pay the interest of that large sum which the Parliament had just voted to effect negro emancipation.
§ Mr. Clay
wished to know whether he was to understand that the Bill would permit the refining of British Colonial sugar, the same as the foreign; and, secondly, whether the Bill would permit the introduction into the British market of the British Colonial sugar, so refined in bond, on the payment of a fair and adequate duty?
Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, that as to the first question whether or no British plantation as well as foreign sugar, was to be admitted into bond, he had no difficulty in announcing, that, of course, it would. That was, in fact, an essential part of the plan. With regard to the second question, however, he must give a different reply. It was utterly impossible to permit West-India 1184 sugar refined in bond along with foreign sugar to be introduced for home consumption, for if that was allowed who could answer for it that foreign sugar would not escape and come out for home consumption. If the House next Session adopted the plan he had sketched out, foreign sugar might be refined in bond, and admitted for home consumption on payment of a certain duty, but at present it was impossible.
§ Mr. Hume
wished to know whether persons importing sugar for refining would be permitted to work one-half the year for home consumption, and the other six months for foreign consumption. If a clause which would permit this could be introduced, he conceived it would be a great gain to the refiners. He could not sit down without urging his hon. friend (Mr. Clay), though he had not got all he sought for, to accede to the Resolution proposed by Government.
Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, that the point to which the hon. member for Middlesex (Mr. Hume) adverted, would be provided for in the Bill. Those who received sugar on which the duty was not paid, must receive it on premises approved of by the Customs, and under the Government lock, and as soon as they began to refine for home consumption, the lock would be taken off.
§ Mr. Clay withdrew his Resolution, and the Resolution proposed by Mr. Poulett Thomson, was put and agreed to.