presented a Petition from the Merchants and Traders of Greenock, complaining of the great difference in the amount of duty that was levied on Spanish Vessels, returning with fish from Newfoundland, and British Vessels, stating unless some alteration was made in the existing reciprocity laws with Spain, the trade of this country would be very much injured. The difference of the duty upon fish landed in Spain from Spanish vessels was 9l. 13s. less than on fish landed from British ships. They stated, that it was only right that our merchant vessels should be allowed to enter Spanish ports equally as free as Spanish vessels were allowed to enter the ports of Newfoundland. He hoped that the President of the 701 Board of Trade would attend to the prayer of the petition. The hon. Member also presented a Petition, most numerously and respectably signed, from Inverary, in Argyll, also respecting fish, but fish caught on our shores. The petition stated, that the fishermen of Scotland, Ireland, and Holland, had found out the breeding places of the herrings, and had resolved there to catch them, and that since the discovery was made the fishery generally throughout the west and north of Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, and Wick, had annually decreased. They prayed the attention of the President of the Board of Trade and the Government, with a view to protection being afforded. No trade was more entitled to receive the protection of the Government than the herring fishery, which was fully of as much consequence as the salmon fishery, there being no less than 100,000 vessels employed in that trade on the coasts of Scotland, and the northern coasts of Ireland.
§ Mr. George F. Young
had a few observations to offer upon the first petition presented by the hon. Member, which was one of considerable importance. He recollected that about three years ago an hon. Member brought the subject of the Reciprocity Act and the conduct of the Spanish Authorities under the notice of Government; but, although it was admitted that they pressed most severely on British interests, the reply of the Government at that time was, that the political state of Spain was such as to prevent the Act from being rigidly enforced. He hoped that the matter would be taken into consideration by his Majesty's Ministers.
§ Mr. P. Thomson
said, that great efforts had been made with the Government of the Queen of Spain to enter into an arrangement which would be mutually advantageous to both countries. He was sorry to say that there did exist a jealousy on the part of the Spanish Government towards the British navigation on account of that Government having only a small commercial marine. The petitioners complained, that fish from Newfoundland paid more when carried in British than in Spanish ships, and they prayed that a duty might be imposed upon the fish. Now, to use a vulgar expression, that would be "cutting off our nose to spite our face;" for we could scarcely even now compete with the Spaniards in their own market, and by imposing a duty upon the fish, we would not only lose the carrying, as at present, but we 702 would also lose the sending of fish altogether. He could only say, on the part of the Government, that the subject should continue to receive their best attention.
§ Petitions laid on the table.