§ Mr. Grote
said, he had a petition to present, to which he must claim the attention of the House. It was a petition praying for an equalization of the duty on East and West India sugars. It came from a large body of the most respectable merchants in London, and it was signed by fifteen Gentlemen, members of the East India and China Association. The petitioners represented, in strong and forcible terms, the injustice which was inflicted by the discriminating duty, not only on the inhabitants of India, but on the consumers of sugar in this country. He was, for his own part, unable to discover what good reason or policy there was for maintaining such a duty, and he was sure that the time was come when the House must see the propriety of equalizing it. Under the existing duty, the price of sugar had varied in this country during the last year from 22s. to 38s. per cwt., being a variation of seventy per cent. There was, in fact, no guarantee against an undue rise in the price of the article, except in the encouragement of the importation of it from our possessions in the East Indies, by the removal of the discriminating duty. Whether they considered the injustice suffered by the agriculturists and native producers of sugar in India from this duty, or the effects winch the existence of it had 472 upon the price of an article of such general consumption in this country, he thought that they were called upon by every reason of justice, fairness, and. policy to abolish it.
§ Mr. Ewart
gave his cordial support to the prayer of the petition. Justice should be done to the growers of sugar in India, and the consumers of the article in this country, not by a gradual reduction (for that would be a most unfair proceeding), but by a complete abolition of the discriminating duty.
§ Mr. Maclean
hoped, that whenever the matter came before the House, they would also take into consideration the condition of the proprietors in the West Indies, in consequence of the emancipation of the slaves there. He did not mean to say that the duty should not be gradually removed, but he thought that when that was done, restrictions that pressed on the trade in the West Indies should be abolished, as a compensation to the West-India proprietors for the sacrifices they were called upon to make.
§ Mr. Mark Philips
must protest against the House and the country being called upon to pay compensation twice over to the West-India proprietors. The time was come when the Legislature must put an end to this most unjust duty. If there was anything in the nature of a restriction that pressed upon the manufacture of sugar in the West Indies, let it be removed, but he must protest against any further compensation to the West-India proprietors. They had had 20,000,000l. already for the emancipation of the slaves—a very handsome sum in his opinion, and they should not get a farthing more in any shape or manner.
§ Petition laid on the Table.