had two petitions to present of rather an important nature. One was from the merchants and fish-curers of Wick, in the county of Caithness, and the other from similar parties in the town of Cromarty. The petitioners complained of the loss of the market which they formerly had for their fish in the West-India Islands, and of the impossibility which they found of opening new markets on the Continent. They complained especially that the markets of Russia and Belgium were shut against them. Seeing his hon. Friend, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, in his place, and knowing that his hon. Friend was aware of the distress of the petitioners, he need not urge their case on his attention. It was most unjust, now that Belgium was separated from Holland, that the Dutch should retain the monopoly of that market.
§ Mr. Labouchere
could assure his hon. Friend that the attention of the department with which he was connected had been, and still was, directed to the subject to which the present petitions referred. The Board of Trade was fully impressed with the importance, in a national point of view, of giving every encouragement and protection that it possibly could to the fisheries of the country. He had been assured that it was impossible, by any alteration or pew regulation, to remedy the 208 evil of which the petitioners complained, with regard to the West Indies. They still possessed a monopoly in the West-Indian islands for the exportation of their herrings, and if the market for them had diminished there, it would be impossible by a legislative measure to re-establish it. With regard to the foreign monopoly of which the petitioners complained, he was not without hopes that something might be done to improve the condition of the trade in that respect. He had had interviews with deputations connected with this branch of the national industry, and it appeared to him, from representations then made to him, that the regulations that existed in Russia with respect to this trade were exceedingly unfavourable, and extremely unfair, as regarded the British fisheries. There were three descriptions of herrings imported into Russia—the Dutch, the English, and the Norwegian, and the difference in the duties levied on them was remarkable. The value of the Dutch herrings was nearly three times greater than that of the English, while the difference in value between the English and Norwegian varied from 5 to 10 per cent. Now, the duty levied on the Dutch and English herrings was the same, and amounted almost to a prohibitory one. They were classed together, and 9s. per barrel was levied on them, while the Norwegian paid only 2s. 3d. per barrel. He begged to assure his hon. Friend that no time should be lost, should these statements prove to be correct, in making such representations to Russia on the subject as he hoped would be attended with a beneficial result. He believed that at present the herrings of this country were so well cured, that they only required to be put on a fair footing to force their way against any other herrings there. The Belgian market was of considerable importance to the English fisheries, and the Government should lose no opportunity for promoting the interests of this branch of our national industry in that quarter.
§ Captain Pechell
said, that if the tithe were taken off the Norfolk herrings, they would beat the Dutch in the market.
said, he was sure the statement of his hon. Friend would give the greatest satisfaction to the petitioners.
§ Petitions laid on the table.