§ On the Order of the Day for the Adjourned Debate for the House going into Committee on Ways and Means being read,
§ Mr. Macaulay
said: Unwilling as I am to stand in the way of my hon. Friend (Mr. Gisborne), who has the right in point of strict regularity to address the House, the House will feel that it would be difficult for me, after what has been said in this debate, not to take, if possible, the first opportunity of offering myself to your attention. It happened that I was not in my place last night. Had I been here, although at that hour, and in the state of the House, I should have had some difficulty in commanding attention, I should, notwithstanding, have trusted that for the very few minutes I felt it necessary to offer myself, I should have experienced that courtesy which in the midst of the most exciting political discussion an assembly of English gentlemen were ever ready to afford to any person whose personal feelings may be naturally excited. I am glad, however, 189 that it was otherwise. I am glad that until this morning I was unacquainted with some part of the debate which occurred last night. The consequence is, that I come here without, I trust, any feeling of irritation. I will not say, that the hon. Member for Newark, whom I will still call my hon. Friend, could have intended to he personally offensive to one from whom he never received any personal provocation. I am satisfied of the contrary; and the more so as some part of the expressions imputed to the hon. Gentleman were of a nature so gratifying to my feelings, that they more than compensated for the pain which was given by a censure which was not deserved. Avoiding, therefore, any irritating expression of my feelings, avoiding any recrimination or retort, I shall request the attention of the House for a very few minutes to an explanation of the part which I mean to take in the decision of the question before it. I do not intend to touch upon the general principles involved in this debate. I willingly leave them to rest on the luminous and eloquent exposition of my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) to which I feel it would be difficult to add anything. The questions of detail I with equal pleasure leave to my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade, and to other Gentlemen whose intimate knowledge of the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country enable them to speak with an authority and ability to which I cannot pretend. I only offer myself to a point on this question with regard to which it is impossible for me to continue silent. I shall endeavour to state, as soberly and as temperately as I can, those reasons which may lead a person who has, according to his situation and the measure of his ability, made exertions and sacrifices to remove from our laws the stain of slavery —a person who is sensible of the peculiar responsibility. which lies on him for exertions and sacrifices, not his own, on this great question—honestly and properly to support the measure of her Majesty's Government. My hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), if I rightly understand him, imputes to me, and to those who take the same view of this motion, some dereliction of principle. Nay, he speaks of our laxity of principle, and a certain infatuation amounting to a judicial blindness, which marked the conduct of those entertaining the same opinions as I do with regard to slavery, in giving their adhesion to the views of the Government. What is this principle which 190 we have lost sight of? I am utterly at a loss to discover any that we have violated. I have listened to speeches in this House: I have read the newspapers: I have looked at the resolution of the noble Lord (Lord Sandon) for the purpose of lighting upon the great principle of humanity and justice which we have been accused of violating; and I have examined all these sources in vain. As to the resolution which has been laid before the House, I do not complain of it. I do not say, that it is not a justifiable mode of political warfare; but with any statement of a moral principle, it is clearly not chargeable. It, on the contrary, appears to me to be a skilfully contrived party motion, the object of which is to perplex and dispossess the advisers of the Crown, without committing their successors. I see nothing in that motion which, if it be carried, can impede the success of that principle of free trade which I devoutly hope may be ultimately sanctioned, or which can prevent those now opposed to such large and enlightened views coming down on some future occasion to the House with exactly the same proposition as that submitted by her Majesty's Government. I have read, as I have said, controversial writings—I have looked into debates, and still I try in vain to find out the great moral principle which we are accused of violating. Is it intended to set up as a law of morality that we ought not to take slave-grown produce? Clearly not. That we may use the slave-grown cotton of the United States, and slave-grown coffee and tobacco, is not contested. And with regard to sugar itself, that which is the product not only of slaves, but of the slave trade, is not found to be interdicted in large portions of the British empire. We do not deny its use to the Canadians or to the people of the Cape of Good Hope—nay, we do not deny it to the inhabitants of these very West-Indian islands. What, then, is this moral principle—this great general law of humanity and justice, which permits a man to wear slave-grown cotton on his feet, and not taste slave-grown sugar in his tea—which permits him to smoke slave-grown tobacco, and denies him a palatable beverage to drink with it—rather, which permits him the enjoyment of a cup of slave-grown coffee, but does not allow him to sweeten it with slave-grown sugar. Nay, to make the absurdity more complete, which permits slave-grown sugar to be imported into Newfoundland and Barbadoes, and declares it shall not be admitted into Yorkshire and 191 Lancashire. I can perfectly understand, that hon. Gentlemen opposite may have reasons of good weight why they should tolerate one, and not the other; but I altogether deny they can rest the distinction on any great general law of morality. And I must say, when I contemplate the whole case got up on the opposite side, it seems to me that the distinction which has been drawn partakes very much less of moral feeling than of party interests. As to my conduct, and that of those who think with me, I shall perhaps hest defend it by stating the considerations which weighed with my own mind in taking the course on which I have decided. Suppose any philanthropist were persuaded himself of the justness of the step, and called on us to exclude the cotton of the United States: suppose he were to draw—and I fear he might draw with great truth—a very melancholy picture of the moral, social, and physical evils connected with the system of slavery in the southern parts of the United States. Suppose he were to ask whether we could consent to receive three or four million pounds of cotton annually, every ounce of which was the produce of slave labour, and then call on the House to pass a law interdicting by a direct prohibition, or by a duty so high as to amount to a direct prohibition (which is the case of the foreign sugar), the importation of cotton from such a quarter—the right hon. Member for Tamworth, the hon. Member for Newark, and the right hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, would, with one voice, pronounce such a proposition inadmissible. The reasons they would give for coming to such a determination, I am sensible I could give but very imperfectly; but I think I can state the views which, in such a case, would influence my own vote, and then I shall leave it to the consideration of the House to say whether these reasons do not to a great extent apply to the present case. I should say, if such a proposition were brought on, "I admit that slavery is a great and fearful evil; I admit that in all parts of the world which are within the sphere of our power we he under a moral obligation to abolish it. I admit that no cost, however great, should stand in the way of what is so clear a duty as it ought in that case to be considered; but the case of slavery within the control of our own power, and that of slavery in a foreign country, present such distinct features that they ought to be treated on perfectly different principles." We have not the sovereign power of the united legislature of the 192 States. We cannot say to the slave owners of Georgia, as we did to those of Antigua, "here is money to reimburse your loss; set your slaves at liberty, admit them to the enjoyment of freedom and to the exercise of equal rights with yourselves." We can exercise no such direct control; we can only influence such parties by some indirect means. Some of these it is clearly our duty to use. Whatever the persuasion, the discussion, the moral power, the arguments, and the practice which one great nation can effect with another, we are bound to resort to. I regard with the highest approbation those efforts which have been made for the purpose of putting down the slave-trade, through means of English cruisers, and of making treaties with foreign nations with the object of putting down that trade; but if we are called on to prohibit all commercial intercourse between countries employing slave-labour and our own, if we are called on to prohibit the free admission of their produce into our ports, the question presents itself in a very different aspect. I am here charged, in the first place, with providing for the happiness of our own people. It is committed in a very different form from that by which the people of other countries are recommended to my care. All men have certain claims on my sympathy, but all have not equal claims. I maintain if the State neglects that which is its proper and legitimate duty, a risk is run that both the functions which legitimately belong to it, and those which it unnecessarily usurps, will be ill performed. I see in this country a great manufacturing population, drawing the materials of manufacture from a limited market. I see a great cotton trade carried on, which furnishes nearly two millions of people with food, clothes, and firing, and I say, that if you shut out slave-grown cotton, you would produce a mass of misery amongst the people whom Providence has committed to your charge frightful to contemplate; you would introduce desolation into your richly flourishing manufacturing districts; you would reduce hundreds on hundreds to beggary and destitution; you would risk the stability of your institutions—and when you had done all this, you would have great reason to doubt whether you conferred any great benefits on the particular class for whom you made such sacrifices. You would merely transfer the present trade which you carry on to your rivals. You would make Germany a 193 Warwickshire, Leipsic another Manchester, and without elevating one slave in the United States to the position of a freeman, you would bring hundreds of thousands of your own industrious artizans to beggary. If any person were to come forward with such a proposition, for the exclusion of slave-grown cotton, I think I should be justified in opposing it on the grounds I have stated; and it appears to me, that this motion should be judged of, though not quite to the same extent, on the same principle. The question must be looked at as one of expediency. To the best of my power I have fairly weighed the effect likely to be produced to the people of England, by depriving them of the market of Brazils, which I firmly believe will be, to a great extent, if not altogether, shut out by the continuance of your present commercial law. I have endeavoured to consider what effects will be produced in extinguishing the Brazilian slave-trade by the influence which Great Britain would necessarily acquire, if she opened her markets to the Brazilians. I have attempted to compare the degree of unhappiness, which could possibly be removed from the Brazilians, by retaining a commercial system of restriction, with the degree of unhappiness inflicted on a people more immediately placed under our charge, by a perseverance in such a course of policy. After making this comparison it is my deliberate opinion that it is our duty to adopt a proposition similar to that of her Majesty's Government. I really cannot conceive how any hon. Gentleman who is content to receive slave-grown cotton can pronounce a departure from principle to nave taken place in the conduct of others, because calculations as to the effects of a change in our present system by one party differ from the views of the other. Nor can I see any inconsistency in giving twenty millions for the abolition of a great moral and social evil which we were guilty of inflicting, which was under our control, and which oppressed our fellow-subjects, the negroes of the Indies; and saying we will not pay what I verily believe will be a great deal more than twenty millions, for the purpose of averting what I admit to be a horrible evil, but for which we are not responsible, over which we have no direct control, which we cannot abolish, and which I very much doubt whether we should, by taking such a course, at all diminish. It has been said, that foreign nations will look with aston- 194 ishment at the inconsistency displayed by parties on this question. I do believe that foreigners will be surprised when they look into this question, and see the different conduct pursued by those when a great monopoly was connected with the continuance of slavery in our dominions, and the scruples now raised concerning it, when carried on in a foreign country. And if foreigners carry their curiosity far enough, and, looking into the public lives of those who have come forward on this occasion, compare the present division with those that took place formerly, and particularly in 1823, they may perhaps find some reason to be astonished that precisely the same persons who struggled the most vehemently to uphold the great evil for which we were directly responsible, and which it was our first duty to remove, were those who maintained that no sacrifices were too great for the extinction of an evil which we did not produce, and which we were in no way directly bound to remedy. My object has been only to show, that there is no necessary inconsistency in wishing to extirpate slavery within the British Empire, and, at the same time, supporting the proposition which has been laid on the Table of the House. As to the general question, I shall only say, that a great financial and commercial crisis appears to me to have arrived at the same time. For the support of the public faith, and for the safety and dignity of the State, the wants of the revenue must be supplied. For the security of our manufactures, and to protect them against rivalry, our great towns have cried out for the removal of commercial restrictions. It so happens that her Majesty's Government have the power by one measure to prop the revenue, and to extend our commerce; to make good the deficit in our supplies, not by making the people poor, but as I conscientiously believe, by making them rich. I utterly deny, and I can speak with confidence of my own feelings and opinions, that these measures have been thrown on the Table of the House in a fit of random despair. I deny that I despaired of seeing the greater part of them carried. We have miscalculated— that is unquestionable. We well knew, in the present state of parties, that the strength of the Government alone was utterly incapable of carrying them. But, even after the evening on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement, and down even to the moment when the noble Member for Liverpool laid 195 his motion on the Table, I had hopes that there were persons on the other side, who from a patriotic feeling, from a just consideration of the necessities of the State, would as, to do them justice, they had done on many other occasions—have come forward, and without relaxing their general opposition to the Government, have assisted that Government in meeting the difficulties which pressed on the country. Their support would undoubtedly have enabled the Government to carry the material parts of the Budget, including that now under debate. These calculations have turned out to be unfounded. But the seed we have sown is not lost. I feel a firm conviction that at no distant period these great reforms we have proposed in our commercial system will become the law of the land. I don't expect, when that time comes we shall occupy these benches, but whenever it arrives, I shall not deny my adhesion to the principles of that great party to which I am unalterably attached. It is not the first time in the history of that party, that they yielded the harvest to those who did not bear the burden and heat of the day. It is not the first time they have been eager supporters of a measure which they believed likely to promote the public good, whatever were the motives, or however tardy the admission in its favour of the party which brought it forward.
§ Sir George Clerk
said, that reluctant as he felt at all times to trespass on the indulgence of the House, he felt, that he was under peculiar disadvantage in having to follow the right hon. Gentleman, to whose eloquence the House must always listen with pleasure. His only consolation, however, in doing so, was the strength of the cause which he advocated — a strength, of which no greater proof could be given than by the weakness of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman against it, and in support of his own consistency. The right hon. Gentleman had only repeated arguments, every one, of which had been used by the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, on the introduction of the measure, and which had been so completely answered by the right hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets. The whole scope and end of those arguments went to prove that the Opposition were inconsistent in their conduct, because they consented to receive slave-grown produce, and at the same time opposed the proposition of the noble Lord, on the ground that it encouraged slavery, 196 and stimulated the Slave-trade. But what was the actual state of the case? Were they to be told by the right hon. Gentleman that because they could not carry out to the fullest extent a measure just and good in itself that they should abandon it altogether, without endeavouring to obtain I a portion of it, or that, because they could not get a sufficient supply of cotton, the product of free labour, they were not alone to stop the manufacturing industry of the country, but also to give encouragement to the products of slavery in another form? Were they, in short, to be told, that, because they could not get any but slave-grown cotton, that they were also to take slave-grown sugar from foreign nations, although they had a full knowledge of the fact that the free labour of our own colonies produced more than sufficient of that article for the consumption of the country? He was greatly astonished to find any one of the right hon. Gentleman's name arguing that the efforts of this country for the suppression of slavery should be confined to our own dominions, and that they should not be likewise directed to the benefit of slaves in other countries; and that any attempt to extinguish slavery in foreign states, should be characterized by him as quixotic and absurd. He would ask the hon. Gentleman, if such were his opinion, why not, as a Member of her Majesty's Government, at once put a stop to the waste of human life on the African coast, at our respective stations established there for suppression of the Slave-trade? That would be only consistent with the right hon. Gentleman's course of argument, for there was no further need of them as far as our own colonies were concerned. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to infer that, because domestic slavery could not be put down in the United States of America, nothing should be done towards its prevention in Cuba and the Brazils? The right hon. Gentleman had referred to former debates in that House for the purpose of charging hon. Gentlemen on his (Sir G. Clerk's) side of the House, with inconsistency in their present opposition to the plan of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman had more than insinuated that that opposition was the result of a newborn zeal on the subject of slavery. But he (Sir G. Clerk) denied the truth of the charge and the propriety of the insinuation; and he maintained that those hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, who had been in Parliament since Mr. Can- 197 ning's resolutions of 1823, had uniformly supported every proposition having for its effect the practical abolition of slavery. But how did the case stand with regard to the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues? The hon. Member for Wigan, brought forward a motion in the course of the last Session of Parliament, for the admission of foreign sugar to the English market, on the same terms as those now proposed; and the hon. Member in bringing it forward stated, that though he had endeavoured to distinguish between slave-grown sugar and free-grown sugar, he found it impossible, and therefore left the distinction untouched. The hon. Gentleman was, however, opposed by her Majesty's Government—not on the ground of protection to the colonies, not even on the ground of finance; for it was admitted that the revenue would be, in all probability, bettered by it, but on the ground that to adopt it would be to give a direct encouragement to slavery. On that ground, and on that ground alone, it was opposed by the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, by the hon. and learned Member for the city of Dublin, by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, and by other hon. Members; and in the list of the division that took place on that occasion was to be found no less a name than that of the right hon. the Secretary at War. If the right hon. Gentleman then entertained the opinion that putting down slavery in the British colonies was quite sufficient for this country, and that it was quixotic to attempt to put it down in Cuba and in the Brazils, why did he not vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Wigan on the same principles as he now advocated? Why did he vole against it? Before, then, the right hon. Gentleman charged inconsistency against his (Sir G. Clerk's) side of the House, he should have looked to his own side; for there he would have found a more recent instance of inconsistency with regard to this very question, in the course pursued last Session by the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman's speech had, however, one great merit—it was confined to the question before the House, the reduction of the sugar duties. Knowing the weakness of the case of the now hon. Gentlemen opposite, he was not surprised at their anxious efforts to withdraw from the subject in debate as much as possible, and to cover their retreat by the introduction of abstract topics, and vague general declama 198 tion on principles wholly irrelevant to the issue. Nothing could show more clearly that the arguments of the right hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets and other hon. Gentlemen were unanswerable, and that the statements made respecting the supply of colonial sugar could not be met by the Government, Everything showed that that supply had increased, was increasing, and would increase; that at present it was quite sufficient, that it would soon meet the demands of an increased consumption, and ultimately so much increase as to make the country once more a sugar-exporting country, as it had been previous to the emancipation of the negroes in the West-India colonies; and when therefore, the price of sugar in this country, would be regulated by the price in the continental markets. The great object of hon. Gentlemen on the other side seemed to be, however, not to consider the subject in connection with those facts, but to lay down certain abstract principles, and then to cry out that those who opposed the Government proposition respecting the sugar duties were the opponents of free trade. No hon. Member on his side of the House, he believed, denied abstractedly the advantages of free trade to a community, but it by no means followed that abstract propositions were always practicable, for in the present case they were clearly not so. No one denied the truth of the general principle that it was advantageous, to purchase any article we required in the market, where we could procure it at the lowest price. But as in Mechanics and Dynamics a formula might be laid down and its truth demonstrated, yet when it came to be taken by actual experiment, the results would be very different, because it was necessary to make allowance for motion, resistance of the air, or other disturbing causes; so in political economy, there were disturbing causes which prevented them from carrying into full effect abstract principles which no person was disposed to contest. In this country, especially, these disturbing forces had great power, from the highly artificial condition of society which existed. We had a national debt, the interest and charges on which exceeded all the other expenses of the country; the consequence of which was, that competition with nations without any such burden, in the cheapness of production from human labour, was out of the question. If it could be imagined that foreign countries would always maintain pacific and friendly 199 relations with this country, they might, no doubt, withdraw many protections which were now necessary—not for the protection of individual or class interests merely, but of the great interests of the nation at large. One class of articles that came under that category was corn. It was of the highest importance that as to one of the first necessaries of life this country should, as far as possible, be independent of foreign supply. Hon. Gentlemen might say it was as absurd to establish any protection as between the inhabitants of one country and the inhabitants of ether countries, as it would be to interfere with the competition between the different classes of tradesmen in the same town or between those in the same town who followed the same trade; that it was as absurd to raise the price of corn by affording a moderate protection to our own agricultural interest, as it would be for the blacksmith to refuse the assistance of the carpenter in the manufacture of various articles of furniture; but it was to be recollected that foreign countries might from national jealousy and other causes not always take the same benevolent and philanthropic views which alone entered into the contemplation of hon. Members opposite. Why did this country maintain its navigation laws? Because it had been considered necessary to encourage so great a commercial marine as would be sufficient to supply a navy able to maintain the honour and dignity of this country; but if it were certain that no disputes would ever take place with foreign powers—if it were certain that our colonial possessions and our mercantile marine were exposed to no risk of hostile aggression—then he agreed that the arguments would be strong for the repeal of all our navigation laws; because it might be shown that we could obtain foreign seamen for lower wages than British seamen, and under those circumstances it would be absurd to employ the seamen at the higher wages. That would be true if under no circumstances could they be obliged to fall back upon their commercial marine for the safety of the country. He remembered, that in the finance committee of 1828, Sir George Cockburne had said, in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Kilkenny as to what was the proper naval force in the time of peace, that it was impossible for him to state any precise number of ships and men; but that if they could show him that the commercial marine of the country was at no time, and under no circumstances likely to be exposed to hostile aggression 200 then he should say, that they would require no ships of war; but it was because the great interests of the country were always exposed and liable to such dangers, that it was necessary to surround them with these protections. He admitted, that the amount of protection and the mode in which it was to be afforded, always presented fair matter of discussion; and further, he thought that it was incumbent on those who claimed such protection, to prove to the satisfaction of the House and the country, that the amount which they asked for was not beyond what the circumstances of the case and the peculiar nature of the trade or interest absolutely required. He would apply that principle to the question now before the House, the sugar duties. It was a fact admitted on all hands, that such was the fertility of Cuba, and such the quality of Cuba sugar, it was possible to obtain from that island sugar to an unlimited extent of superior quality and lower price than from our own colonies. Of course, therefore, on the principle of political economy, that you should buy an article wherever you can get it cheapest and best, the question was at end; but there entered into this question considerations of a much higher nature than those more sordid considerations upon which the hon. Gentlemen opposite dwelt so much; and the people of this country, however much they might feel the pressure of high prices, and however much they might be exposed to privation, would cheerfully consent to pay those high prices, and to suffer that privation, rather than obtain better sugar at a lower price, by abandoning measures in the success of which they had evinced the greatest interest, and for which they had alreay made tremendous sacrifices. Had any answer been given to the statements of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, as to the supply which might reasonably be expected from our own possessions next year? He was surprised, that after those statements, no Member of her Majesty's Government had risen and offered to the House any explanation with regard to them. Last night, indeed, after three days' consideration, the President of the Board of Trade had, he would not say attempted, to answer those statements, but had expressed some reasons why he doubted their accuracy, and the reason which the right hon. Gentleman gave was, that he had received estimates from different quarters, and they did not entirely correspond. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets 201 had told them that there would be, in all probability, a supply from our own possessions of 240,000 tons during the course of next year, and some gentlemen connected with the sugar trade in Liverpool had stated a larger amount, but the only difference was between 240,000 and 260,000 tons; and if the right hon. Gentleman chose to adopt the smaller amount and even to make a large deduction from it, still there would be a greater supply than the consumption when the prices were at the lowest required. What, then, must be the effect of the introduction of any quantity beyond that which might fairly be considered the maximum of consumption? What was to become of the surplus of 40,000 or 60,000 tons? That surplus must be exported to foreign countries; and the necessary consequence was, that the prices must be reduced to the level of the European markets. Such a result was indeed most desirable, but it would involve a great dereliction of principle, if, under such circumstances, we admitted into our markets Brazilian sugar; because then what became of the arguments founded on the necessity of conciliating the Brazilian government, and inducing them to take our manufactures by taking their sugar? As long as they wanted our hardware they would purchase it from this country, whether we took their sugar for consumption, or continued to be the carriers of sugar for other nations. He supposed hon. Gentlemen opposite thought they were guilty of great inconsistency if they became the medium of transmitting Brazilian sugar from the coast of Brazil to foreign countries. No doubt any principle carried to an extreme point would lead to inconsistencies; and suppose they desisted to be carriers, if the Brazilians had no other means of paying for commodities, except in sugar, it could be of no consequence whether we were the carriers, or whether the sugar was carried in French ships. But, suppose they acted on that principle, and ceased to be carriers, what would be the consequence of carrying out that principle to its full extent? Not only must they refuse to have any intercourse with any nation where slavery existed—but they must also refuse to have any commercial intercourse with any nation which had not the same scruples on that subject with themselves—but because they could not carry out that principle to its full extent, especially as to articles which they could only obtain from coun 202 tries where slavery did exist, were they justified in doing less than they were able, and adopting measures which had a direct tendency to encourage slavery? The sugar growers of the Brazils had the European markets whether we carried their sugar or not—and therefore we did not increase the trade by being the medium of transmission; but if we admitted it into this country, and by its admission displaced our own colonial sugar, we opened a new market for the slave-grown sugar, which it was completely in our power to close against them—and we were guilty of a dereliction of principle by great additional encouragement to the slave-trade, especially at the present moment, when there was a prospect of a large supply from the East and West Indies. This proposition was a peculiarly unnecessary and gratuitous encouragement of slavery. When the great experiment of emancipation was complete, and the state of the labourers in the West Indies was better understood, he had no doubt that those colonies would, as formerly, send a supply averaging about 25 per cent, more than sufficient for home consumption. No advantage to the revenue could be expected from this proposition, because whatever amount of duty was derived from the admission of foreign sugar, could only be obtained by the exclusion of an equal amount of sugar the growth of the British possessions. But the right hon. Gentleman anticipated an increase in the revenue of 600,000l. from that source. Now, what quantity of sugar at the differential duty of 12s. must be admitted to raise that sum? About 50,000 tons, a quantity equal to a quarter of the whole consumption. Could it, then, be contended, that the opening of so large a market would not offer the greatest possible stimulus to the slave-trade? It was calculated to increase the miseries of those who were already slaves, and to cause the importation of an unlimited number of unfortunate Africans. The only other view in which this question could be regarded was its effect upon the consumer. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had taken the present price of foreign sugar, and, adding to that the duty of 36s., or 37s 6d., had stated a result of 59s. 6d. as the average price of foreign sugar, and also, taking the present price of colonial sugar, and adding the duty of 25s., the noble Lord had made the average price of colonial sugar about 61s.; that was a difference of 1s. 6d. in favour of the consumer. But that statement was made 203 on Friday last; and already, owing to the increased supply, the gazette price of colonial sugar had so fallen as to leave no difference between that and the price of foreign sugar, according to the calculation of the noble Lord. But what effect could the difference which the noble Lord had supposed, have for the poor consumer, who could only purchase 11b. or 1½lb. of sugar out of his week's earnings? He was not surprised to find, that a petition had been presented from the wholesale and retail grocers of London, in favour of this scheme; because it was clear, that if the price of sugar were to fall 1s. 6d., the whole of that sum would go into the pockets of that class of persons, and no advantages could, by possibility, be derived by those who were obliged to buy very small quantities at a time. When taxes upon articles were reduced even to such an extent as to produce a large amount of revenue, it was well known, that the poor consumer derived no good from that reduction, he found no difference in the price of the article; for the whole of that difference was distributed among, and absorbed by the various parties through whose hands the article passed in the course of trade, before it descended to the poor consumer. There could be little doubt, that they were indebted for this proposition of her Majesty's Government, to the Import Duties Committee of last year, to which he thought an undue degree of importance had been attached. He regretted, that other engagements had prevented his attendance upon that committee; but he had read the evidence and report attentively, and he admitted, that it contained important statements made by gentlemen whose opinions were entitled to respect—such as the late Secretary to the Board of Trade, the present Secretary, and Mr. Porter, also a gentleman connected with that board; but he did not, on this occasion, attach so much weight as generally he should be disposed to do to these statements; and he was supported in that by the President of the Board of Trade, who had slated the other night, that those statements contained great exaggerations, and that the calculations were erroneous. Still that report had gone out to the country with the weight of those names, and without any contradiction, for six months. He was not, therefore, surprised, that those opinions had been supposed to come with the authority of the President of the Board of Trade and her Majesty's Government; and in consequence of that, many persons 204 had been induced to sign petitions without due consideration. There was the petition which had been presented on the night of the Budget, from the merchants and traders of the city of London, and which the right hon. Gentleman had considered of so much importance, that he read it again last night. What had occurred in the interval? A petition had been presented from many of the leading merchants of London, saying, that when they signed the former petition, they were not aware of the objects and intentions of the Government. They knew very well how petitions were got up, and the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, needed not to have read so repeatedly that petition which seemed to have been the strongest argument he had in his blue box. But what was the recommendation of the evidence before the Sugar Committee? It was, that a reduction of 1s. 6d. would do no good whatever to the consumer, and that it was necessary to make such a reduction, as, that, upon a pound of sugar something valuable to the poor man could be taken off. Unless 9s. 4d. on the cwt, which would give a reduction of 1d. in the pound, were proposed, he could not understand how the poor could be benefited. Such a reduction would increase the consumption, and be a great boon to the consumer. This was no new doctrine of his. He had voted in 1831, in a minority, for the reduction of the duty on sugar; but the argument of the President of the Board of Trade against such a reduction then, was, that the state of the revenue would not permit it. It was opposed by Lord Althorp and by Mr. P. Thomson then on the ground of there not being a surplus of revenue of more than 300,000l. How, then, could a reduction be asked at present, when there was a deficiency of 1,800,000l. The hon. Member for Kilkenny might be consistent in voting for a reduction in the revenue, for it was only from a falling off in it, that he could hope to force the Government to that economy which he advocated. But was that the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? The budget of 1840 was on a different principle from the present. It was then said, that taxation could bear an increase of 5 per cent, and that the customs and excise revenue would improve by that increase. But did hon. Gentlemen on his (Sir G. Clerk's) side of the House on that occasion deny the principle that excess of taxation would be 205 injurious to the revenue? Some hon. Gentlemen had argued, that nothing was to be done but to take off taxation, and, that such was the elasticity of the country, that the revenue would increase. The same thing was said of the Post-office, and when there was a deficiency of 1,200,000l., those hon. Gentlemen had the power to force the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce the postage. He would not, then, speak of the benefits of such a measure, but, he would ask, what were its results? Before the reduction of taxation, the net produce was 1,600,000l. What was it during the four quarters of the last year? For the quarter ending July 5, 1840, the net produce was 100,000l.; for the quarter ending October 10, 1840, it rose to 123,000l., and this on account of some large payments made to the Post office of sums previously due for postage from the public departments. But did that increase continue. For the quarter ending January last, the net produce was 98,000l.; and for the quarter ending April 5, 93,000l., being a still further fall. From these figures he could see no reason to expect any increase beyond a sum of between 90,000l. and 100,000l. per quarter. The Secretary for the Colonies, in talking of the stale in which the finances of this country were placed, had said, that it could not be made a charge against the Government, for that Gentlemen on the opposition side of the House had, on all occasions, voted in favour of the measures recommended by the Government and were, consequently, equally culpable as the Government. He denied the argument, and he denied the fact. One cause of the embarrassment was the Post-office reduction, which was the cause of a loss equal to one half of the large deficiency now complained of. The Government had received from his side of the House nothing but remonstrances against that experiment in the face of the financial difficulties in which they were then placed. To the state of our relations with China, another large part of our deficiency was attributable. Were hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House responsible for that? Had they justified the conduct which the Government had pursued for many years in relation to China? Or had they not last year left on the journals of the House the expression of their opinion of the want of foresight and capacity displayed by the Government in their conduct of the relations with that country? The expense of put 206 ting the country into a proper state of defence he had certainly upheld; and when the peril in which the country was placed last year was considered, he felt that expense would be fully justified in the eyes of the country. Her Majesty's Ministers seemed to be very indignant at its being supposed that the Government had changed its mind on the present question rather suddenly, in consequence of their recent defeats. It was not necessary to prove that such a change had taken place in their views within the last few days, but he could not imagine how any Member of the Government could avoid seeing on the very first day of the Session that the Irish Registration Bill could not be carried; and when he recollected on how many occasions the Government had purchased for a short time the support of hon. Gentlemen by similar changes, he felt at a loss to account for the indignation of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He had the strongest objection to the proposition made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; firstly, because it would undoubtedly hold out the strongest stimulus to slavery and to the slave-trade; secondly, because looking to the large supply now to be expected from our own colonies, it was a measure totally uncalled for; thirdly, because it would ultimately fail as a mere finance arrangement; and, fourthly, that for so paltry a reduction no practical benefit could possibly be derived from it by the poor man. Upon these grounds he should most cordially support the amendment proposed by his noble Friend, and give his most decided opposition to the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Ward
observed that the hon. Baronet who had just sat down had commenced his speech by reproaching those who had spoken on the Ministerial side of the House for endeavouring to draw attention from the subject legitimately under the consideration of the House, and to divert it to wider and more extended topics. The right hon. Baronet had himself fallen into the very error for which he blamed his adversaries; for instead of confining himself to the question of the Sugar Duties, he had, in the course of his not very brief speech, entered into a dissertation upon the principles of free trade, of which he professed himself in the abstract an ardent admirer, although he made such large deductions subsequently for what he termed friction and disturbing 207 causes, that he feared his free-trade principles had little chance of ever being carried practically out. He then had talked of the Post-office, the Import Duties Committee, the Admiralty, the Irish Church, and the Ballot; in short, between the beginning and the end of his speech, the right hon. Baronet had refreshed his hearers by a reference to every one of the topics that had been under the notice of the House for the last ten years. The only thing the right hon. Baronet forgot to state was, that whilst 800,000l. a year-had been lost to the revenue in consequence of a most beneficial change in the Post-office, an equal sum had also been lost in perpetuity in consequence of the compensation given to the West India proprietors for the emancipation of their slaves. This last point, which was carefully omitted by the right hon. Baronet, would have had some reference to the subject now under discussion; a remark that could not be applied to any of the other topics so industriously introduced. But to come more immediately to the question. The object of the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, in making sugar the subject of his resolution, was perfectly clear. It was the flag under which the protected interests could most decently fight. It enabled them, as the hon. Member for Stamford had justly said to invoke higher and holier sympathies than could be appealed to in the case of timber or corn. The hon. Member for Lincoln had announced, that there was a complete coalition between them, that they were to stand or fall upon the same ground; and the best proof that the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, had chosen his ground skilfully was, the ease with which a man of such acute mind as his right hon. Friend, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, had been induced, by a mistaken feeling of consistency, to fall into the trap. He admitted the high principle that induced his right hon. Friend to sacrifice to the one object put forward in the resolution, his personal predilections, and all the other objects of his long political life; but in this important step, he could not admit his sense. He had always heard that humanity was the most dangerous of passions, when not kept within reasonable bounds. Philanthropy had its fanaticism as well as religion, and both seemed equally exempt from ordinary rules. For what was the Government 208 proposition, and how had his right hon. Friend dealt with it? Was it proposed to admit the slave-grown sugar of Cuba and Brazil into the English market on equal terms, and thus to swamp the importation of the sugar of our own colonies, the produce of free labour? That was not the fact. The Government proposition was not to allow the free importation of foreign sugar, but to place a protective duty of 50 per cent, upon the free labour sugar of our own colonies—a larger protection than his hon. Friend the Member for Lincolnshire, who had spoken on the first night of the debate (Mr. Handley), representing, as he did, the concentrated exigencies of his 9,000 Corn-law mad constituents, had ventured to ask for English land. A check upon the rise of price in sugar, which monopoly always encourages by competition whenever the price exceeded a given point, was all which the Government meant, and of this he entirely approved; for he was not prepared to go the length of his hon. Friend the Member for London (Mr. Grote,) and of some other Gentlemen on his side of the House, and to say that he would at once do away with all restriction upon the importation of slave-labour sugar. He admitted the value of the West Indies as a market, and their claim upon the national consistency and good faith, and was most anxious to see the great experiment that had been begun in those colonies in 1834 carried into full and complete effect. But he was convinced, that the surest way of frustrating our own views and wishes with respect to that experiment, was to bolster and cocker up a system of high prices and high wages in the colonies, by an absolute exclusion of competition here. Now a duty of 63s. upon an article worth from 18s. to 23s. in bond was an absolute prohibition of foreign sugar. Even the hon. Member for Newark had admitted, that slave-grown sugar could not enter the British market when the price of our colonial sugar was under 60s., duty paid. So that the proposed reduction to 36s. would not afford any very great practical advantage to the foreigner or any material mischief to the British colonist, if the promises of increased supply so liberally made by Gentlemen opposite came true, while if they failed, the people of this country would have a security against the recurrence of the exorbitant prices of the two preceding 209 years, by the admission of foreign sugars when the limit of 60s. was past. Now, this modified system of protection for the West Indies he was prepared to sustain, on the simple ground that there were two parties to the bargain, and that Parliament was not entitled to sacrifice the larger interest, that of the consumer, to the interest of the favoured few. The change was perfectly consistent with good faith, for even the hon. Member for Newark must admit, in spite of his declamation on the preceding night, that free competition, and 50 per cent, protection were very different things. The principle of the present system was unsound and untenable, for it was absurd to teach the negro free labourers to keep gigs and drink champaign by a tax levied upon the industrious classes at home. Hon. Gentlemen might talk of extinguishing slavery, but there was only one way of accomplishing it, and that was to prove that free labour sugar could compete with slave-labour sugar in the markets of the world. The moral advantages of free labour were not disputed by any one, but it was necessary to show, that it would produce sugar as cheap; and this was the argument of the abolitionists in 1834. It was his own. He had quoted the case of Mexico, a great sugar growing country, where free labour had supplanted slave labour, and maintained its ground, though within ten days' sail of the island of Cuba; and the most intelligent West Indian planters had always taken the same view. Mr. Burnley had admitted before the colonial land committee in 1836, that the monopoly of the English market could not be retained, unless the price of sugar was kept down; and he had looked even at that early period to immigration as the source from which an adequate supply of free labourers must be secured. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock" had said, that no change in the sugar duties should take place while the experiment of emancipation was in progress. But how long was it to last? For how many years did the hon. Member mean to call upon the people of England, in addition to the 800,000l. a-year, with which they were saddled in perpetuity, to pay three or four millions in the way of indirect taxation, for the benefit of West Indian proprietors, for this was the way in which the system worked. He believed, that it would be better for them and for us to teach them to grapple with their difficulties by the stimulus of 210 competition. He had no wish to see the West Indies relapse into the semi-barbarism of St. Domingo. That would be a state fatal to production—to trade—and, above all, to the prospects of the negro race, who depended upon the issue of the experiment now in progress. But that experiment would fail, and ought to fail, if they allowed the price of one of the necessaries, rather than the comforts, of life to be kept up beyond its natural level at the expense of the English artisan. It was almost a moral obligation to enable the poorer classes in this country to buy sugars at a moderate price, and this competition could alone secure. He had now endeavoured to meet the fair objections alleged against the Government plan. As to the unfair objections, they had been so ably dealt with by those who preceded him, that he had little to add. He warned the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, however, that in political economy he would find religion a very dangerous ally. If he drew the line of moral obligation at all, he must draw it with a bold, unflinching, and impartial hand. He must not denounce slave-grown sugar, nor coquette with slave-grown tobacco, and say, that cotton involved interests so vast that he was not prepared to deal with it at all. He could not, in short, at one time play the moralist, and at another the representative of a great commercial town. Indeed, no more unanswerable illustration of the impracticability of his own principles could be found than this whole question of American trade. The United States were divided into two great sections, in one of which slave-labour, in the other free-labour, prevailed. Cotton, tobacco, and rice, the produce of the slave - owning southern states of America, were readily admitted into this country, but our ports were hermetically sealed against the corn and other produce of the northern states, where slavery did not exist. Foreigners who saw the practice, and heard the principles laid down by the English, must certainly think them a wise, a rational, and a most practical people; for as to hypocrisy, it was a word which he knew must not be mentioned in that House. They were appealed to, however, not only in the name of religion, but of humanity. Now, humanity, in his mind, began at home; and, he was sure, there was not a Member for a manufacturing district, who might feel it his duty to speak on the pre- 211 sent occasion, who would not come before the House with a tale that proved the decay of trade, and the distress of the whole manufacturing population. From a petition which he had that evening presented from his constituents at Sheffield, it appeared that one-third of the working men in that town and neighbourhood were out of employ, that a great proportion of the remainder were employed only three days in the week, and that the utmost distress in consequence prevailed. Those who were in work subscribed something from their wretched pittance to keep others from the parish who had no work at all. In some trades the whole savings of better days had gone in this way. The grinders alone had spent 11,000l. in three years; and from this state of intense suffering, the only hope of escape was in emigration, in the workhouse, or in the adoption of the measure now under the consideration of the House. The petitioners stated, that during the last winter, they had lived on mint and balm tea, coffee and sugar being too dear to come within the scope of their means, and the men thus reduced were skilful and intelligent artisans, accustomed, for many years, to an honourable competency, and able" to earn it now, if relieved from those restraints which a most unwise commercial system imposed. Such was the state of things in Sheffield; and the same tale might be heard from Manchester, Leeds, Oldham, Paisley, and other great manufacturing towns. This was a subject which the House could not overlook; a subject which demanded the most serious and prompt attention, for though there were evils that legislation could not reach, this was not one of them. Contrast the condition of the West-Indian labourers with the condition of the labourers in this country. It appeared, from Mr. Gurney's evidence, that the free negro population of the West Indies were in a state of prosperity, in the enjoyment of comforts and luxuries which the mechanics of this country could never hope to obtain. 2,600l. had been subscribed by one religious society alone, for missionary purposes—800l. by another — a blacksmith and his wife had saved 100l. in eight months. They would allow nothing but quarto bibles with gilt edges to be used in their chapels; and in Guiana, a company of free labourers had bought a property worth 50,000 dollars, within two years after the 212 apprenticeship was at an end. All this was a most satisfactory and desirable slate of things, if the natural consequence of prosperous industry, but it was not so. It was the result of so many pence per pound added to the price of sugar in England, and he (Mr. Ward) asked the most ardent well-wishers to the negro race, whether it were possible, that a system so irrational and unjust should be sustained at the expense of the labouring population of this country? Yet it must be maintained unless the House determined to abandon the system of protection, of which the West-Indian monopoly was a part. They had been told, that the protected interests meant to stand or fall together. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire had complained, that the Government had dared to attack the three great monopolies of the country, and had declared, in their name, that they would hear of no compromise. This was an agreeable announcement for the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, who was henceforward to lead a party with "no compromise" as its motto; and for the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Lascelles) who, upon a long and intimate acquaintance with his leader, had pronounced him to be a decided free-trader, and who declared, that he should only give him a vote, if he voted at all, under the impression, that if he came into power upon the protective or anti-commercial principle, it would only be to give a death-blow to the system. He rejoiced to hear this declaration, for though the hon. Member for Kilmarnock seemed to think there was a very simple specific for all our financial difficulties, by the simple substitution of a Conservative for a Liberal Government, and expressed his belief, that this opinion would be shared by Sheffield, and every other commercial town, he could see no symptoms of any faith in this panacea. The question was a question of measures, not of men. Not whether Viscount Melbourne, or the right hon. Baronet (the Member for Tamworth) should be at the head of the Government, but what the Government would do? And it did so happen, that on the one side they had the wisest, the most statesmanlike, and far-seeing speech, that he had ever heard in that House; he meant the speech delivered by his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies—a speech identifying a great principle with a great party; and, 213 on the other, a most uncompromising defence of monopoly and protection from many individual Members, with some vague hopes of improvement from the hon. Member for Wakefield, and no intelligible declaration of principle at all on the part of those whom he acknowledged as his leaders. Now, these might be good party tactics in that House, but they were not calculated to inspire respect or confidence out of it. What did Gentlemen opposite mean to do? To go on with the protective system? He (Mr. Ward) and those around him said, that it bad lasted too long already. They bad reached the limit of taxation under any system of high duties and restricted supplies. He wished for no better proof of this than the experiment tried by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last year, when he had tried to cover the deficiency in the revenue by adding a duty of 5 per cent., and 6d. a gallon upon spirits to the customs and excise. In this course the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, concurred, for he said, that under all circumstances he was not prepared to say, that it was not the wisest course that the Government could have adopted. It was, therefore, pretty much what he could have done himself if in power. And what was the result? The estimate was 2½ millions of increase; but instead of this, the revenue fell off 309,000l., so that allowing 800,000l. for the deficiency in the Post-office, the produce of the new duty was 520,000l., of which, 420,000l. were produced by the assessed taxes alone. Was this a lesson to be lost? Did it not prove that the sources of taxation were dried up, and the power of consumption decaying? His hon. Friend, the Member for Manchester, had explained this in his admirable argument the night before, by showing, that the use of taxable commodities amongst the working classes must depend upon the prices at which the first necessaries of life could be obtained. Dear food was the cause of the falling off in the revenue, 35½ millions of which depended upon consumption; and what better proof could the House require of the necessity of beginning every improvement by making food cheaper, that is, by including the Corn-laws in the change? It was impossible to shirk or evade this question, and the time was come when the decision could not be put off. The people complain, and most justly, that this was a 214 double system of taxation on the country, one openly avowed, for public purposes, and collected by public offices; the other unavowed and insidious, yet pressing to the same extent as the public taxation upon the springs of our industry for the benefit of sinister interests, and by monopolies, which the law made, and could unmake, when Parliament pleased. The first step towards getting rid of this system had been taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the present Budget—the most important step in his judgment that had been taken for many years, and his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, had assured them that, in the Customs' Bill, if he were enabled by the decision of the House on the present occasion to bring it in, he would follow out the principle, simplifying the system, removing all unnecessary commercial restraints, and all pressure upon the consuming powers of the people. This was the wisest and safest course. No half measures were possible. To touch one interest, but not other interests, sugar without timber, or either leaving the monstrous monopoly of the English landlord untouched, would be the height of injustice and inconsistency. Yet, he admitted, that the Corn-laws might seem an aggravation of the difficulties of the Government, from the opposition which they had called forth. The two Members for Lincolnshire, who had already spoken (Mr. Handley and Mr. Heathcote), had told them— the one that an 8s. duty upon wheat was an insult, a monstrous proposition—the other, that it could not be seriously intended by the Government. He did not know what the third Member for Lincolnshire (Lord Worsley), who was doing him the honour of taking a note of his remark, would say; but he thought that there must be something peculiar in the atmosphere of that county to account for such views. The only fault that he had to find with the Government plan was, that it gave a great deal more to landlords than they had any right to demand or expect. They had a natural protection of 10s. a quarter upon all wheat brought to this country. They gained necessarily by everything that increased the manufacturing prosperity of England, which alone had made them what they were. Population, by its progress, was adding every hour to the value of every acre of the soil. There were 1,000 births daily, and he 215 (Mr. Ward) could form no calculation as to the future prospects of such a country, if, in lieu of restricting its people to one limited field for their supply of food, they were to give them free access to the markets of the world. He spoke as a man deeply interested in the land, for he had nothing else to look to; and if his stake in it was small, compared with some, it was only the more necessary for him not to deceive himself with false hopes, as to the effects of the change; yet he should have no doubts or fears if the Corn-laws were abolished altogether, provided the other inequalities of our fiscal system were removed at the same time, which the landowners in that case would have a right to demand. At the same time, he admitted the value of the Government proposition. The advantages of a fixed duty were immense over every conceivable modification of the sliding scale. It would secure steadiness of price, constant intercourse with other countries on known terms, and the power of drawing supplies from the best market at the best time, in exchange for goods, instead of deranging the currency by sudden demands of bullion to buy wheat. All this was most valuable. As to those who denounced the 8s. duty as harsh and wicked, because it was direct, and said, as an individual of some note was reported to have said in a place to which he must not more directly allude, "for God's sake, no tax upon the people's bread; "he did not know whether such language inspired most astonishment or disgust; for on the very day in which these words were used, it happened, that the tax upon bread was 24s. 8d., with this difference, that the whole amount went into the landlord's pocket, not into the Treasury. He might be told, that the tax was merely nominal, because nobody brought wheat into the market on such terms; but, whatever might be thought in Parliament, people out of Parliament knew perfectly well that a prohibitory duty, whether paid or not, was a tax to the full extent of the difference in price between English and foreign wheat, though the revenue did not get the benefit of it. These were the reasons for which he would give his cordial support to the proposition of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, that the House should go into a Committee of Ways and Means, for the purpose of considering the changes which the commercial and financial situation of 216 the country required. He believed the suggestions of the Government would be beneficial to all classes, and injurious to none. He only feared, that they came too late, when he looked to the state of their relations with the United States and the Brazils. They had lost the market of Germany by their vicious commercial system, which laid the foundation of the Prussian League, and they must be prepared to see markets still further restricted, and the population more depressed, unless the House entertained a motion in which the prosperity of England for many years must depend.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
stated, that he had been anxious to explain the grounds of his vote, because they had not been exactly stated by any one on his side of the House. He had heard different Members complain of the terms of the motion. His right hon. Friend the Secretary at War had this night said, that it meant nothing; the hon. Member for Nottingham had wished, that it had included some expression of sympathy for the distresses of the people at home. For his own part, feeling, he hoped strongly such sympathy, he could have desired, in the present instance, that the question had been simply put to the issue upon the encouragement which the proposed admission of slave-grown sugar would give to slavery and the slave-trade. He should have given a vote with more satisfaction, if the parenthesis in the motion had been omitted, which looked to any supply of sugar from other quarters. He should have given that vote with more satisfaction, also, if there had been no references in it to the specific source of the measure in question, if, in short, it had been an abstract proposition without reference to any government whatever. He looked at this question as one of the highest principle. He should be ashamed of himself, or of any one whom he had called his Friend, if he could have made the slave-trade a party question. [Cheers.] He understood that cheer; but he could assure those from whom it proceeded, that he no more accused his noble Friend of using the slave-trade as a party question, than he would plead guilty to it himself. It was true that he had wished that his noble Friend's resolution had referred to the slave-trade exclusively, without any admixture of collateral or subordinate matters; but he felt as absolutely persuaded 217 of the sincerity of his noble Friend as of his own. The question was not as some seemed to intimate, whether they would or would not adopt the whole budget, alter the timber duties, or alter the Corn-laws. The question was as to the sugar duties. Now he would only premise, that if there be any truth in the proposition, that the demand regulates the supply, and that encouragement will increase the products of human industry, and that the proposed measure will be an advantage to those states whose products are the result of slave labour, then the measure on the Table is a premium on slave labour; then is it an encouragement to the slave-trade. He feared, that the House did not sufficiently individualise the case. Did the House really feel what the slave-trade was and is? Did they realise to themselves the way in which the slaves were obtained? Did they know how, in the dead of night, a peaceful village of Africa was surrounded by armed marauders; and that amid the flames which consumed their houses, the wretched inhabitants were hurried off, parent from child, husband from wife, into hopeless slavery, carried down in fetters for hundreds of miles to the barracoons on the coast? Could he believe that for the sake of a paltry reduction in the price of an article, a luxury, or, if you please, a necessary, the poorest Englishman would consent to encourage such scenes? Did it stop here? Were the horrors of the middle passage forgotten? Did the House forget what was stated in the papers laid on the Table by the Queen's command every year? That the unhappy beings were packed in a way, in which no other living creatures were ever packed? The Secretary for Foreign Affairs had said three years ago, that it could not be called space; it did not deserve such a name. Would an assembly of English Gentlemen, of English Christians, consent to encourage such crime on the one hand, and continue such suffering on the other, for the mere pounds, shillings, and pence, which it might bring into their coffers? Would even the philosophic constituents of the hon. Member for London prefer to have their sugar 1d. a pound cheaper as the price of such enormities? A penny a pound; it was the infinitesimal part of a penny. Look at the further honors of the system of slavery in Cuba, and in Brazil, when the survivors of the wretched victims 218 were landed there. He did not undervalue the sufferings of the hand-loom weaver in his dark back room; or of the Highlander, who could neither subsist at home, nor find the means of emigrating elsewhere; he did not think too highly of human nature, yet with all this, he would fearlessly appeal to the hand loom weavers, and to the Highlanders, and would leave the case to their decision. Would they, for the sake of having twelve lumps of sugar, instead of eleven, consent to continue such atrocities? The hon. Member for Limbeth had referred to the constituents of his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets. He trusted, that he might make the same appeal to them also. But he could not allude to that right hon. Friend without expressing his deep acknowledgment to him for the part which he had taken in this crisis; and for the example which he had set to those who had hitherto professed the same principles. Consistent as all admitted his right hon. Friend to have been in his long service of thirty-five years in this cause, never had he evinced his consistency at a more painful sacrifice. But his country would do him justice. By an all but unanimous feeling, the slave-trade was abolished in 1807. By something nearly like unanimity, slavery was abolished in 1834. Three years ago this House, by an unanimous address, appealed to her Majesty to interpose with all the Great Powers professing Christianity, to the intent that all might declare the slave-trade piracy, and might punish, as guilty of that crime, all who were engaged in that trade. Now what was the effect of the measure before the House? Was it not to place in a better position than that in which they now stand, every slave-holding state which produces sugar? Was it not to give a new premium to the slave-trade? For himself, while he deplored the existing horrors of that trade, he would not act in such a manner as to encourage its extension to the cultivation of one single estate. When, then, we felt the atrocities of the slave-trade, when we expressed our conviction that, the declaration, which we had asked from the Great Powers was, under the blessing of God, the best means of suppressing that trade, could the noble Lords, with their present I measure on the Table, call upon Spain, Portugal, and Brazil, to act upon that declaration, and punish their subjects as; guilty of piracy, in respect to a trade 219 which we were, indirectly indeed, but still most surely and fatally encouraging? Again he said, this measure gives a new stimulus and premium to the slave-trade, or it is even in the lowest view of the case valueless. It either encourages the sugar of the Brazils and Cuba, and, in that sense, is profitable to the treasury of England, or it is useless. The noble Lords opposite cannot say that it will not encourage the importation of foreign, that is, slave-grown sugar: it is not only their defence, it is their boast. If this be so, when they make the call upon the foreign Powers, what will be their reply? "True, you have passed an unanimous address in the House of Commons, declaring this trade to be piracy; it is easy for you to pass such addresses—they cost you nothing; but when the question is one of pounds, shillings, and pence, what becomes of your Christian feelings, and of your sense of what is due to the natives of Africa?'' They would laugh at us, and tell us at once that our object had been from the beginning a commercial speculation, and not a desire to put down the slave-trade or slavery. "You encourage the slave-trade," they would say, "under circumstances from which the only palliation and pretence is, that it is a fiscal measure, necessary for your own finances." Could England, which stood at the head of the moral principles of Europe, if such an objection were made, return more than an imperfect answer by its present Government, whose very boast it was that the measure was to yield money? True, some had argued that it would not yield an addition to the revenue, but the Government must, on their own principles, contend that it would produce financial benefit. There was a lower ground upon which, however, he would never consent to rest his objection to the proposed measure: yet even that lower ground was abundantly tenable. In the first place, that measures taken singly in relation to the sugar duties, was a fatal interference with the success of the great experiment now in progress, by which, when the slaves of England were emancipated at the cost of twenty millions sterling, the world were told that it should be shewn, that free labour would supply better and cheaper the produce which had hitherto been extracted from slave labour. In the issue of that experiment, the slaves all over the world are interested; and every slave 220 holding state will look to our example. But if the view be not confined to the single measure of the sugar duties, if they be taken as a part only of the budget, and if the whole budget be regarded at once, then he must say, that it proposed nothing less than a revolution in the entire commercial and colonial and agricultural system of England. To return, however, to his own ground of objection to the specific measure in question. Here he was met by the hon. Member for St. Alban's who had talked of false and spurious humanity, and of the hypocrisy of those who opposed this measure. So far as he(Sir R. Inglis) was conscious of the motives which influenced him, he should have taken precisely the same ground whoever had originated it, and he thought the great mass of the House and of the people of England would make no difference. And at what moment had the Government introduced the measure? At the very time when they had been sending forth, amid the hopes and prayers of the people, a great expedition for the purpose of preventing the slave-trade at its root. He could not refer to that expedition, which had been suggested to her Majesty's Government by an association, with which the had the privilege and the duty of cooperating with his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets, without acknowledging the cordial support which in every point they had received from her Majesty's Government not only from the noble Lord now at the bead of the Colonial Department, but from Lord Normanby, and from Lord Glenelg. But exactly in the proportion in which with one hand they were adopting measures for the suppression of the slave-trade, were they stultifying themselves by the project which they held in their other hand for encouraging it. Such he believed to be the tendency and the effect of their proposition. He could not look back upon the history of the abolition of the slave-trade without desiring to bear his testimony also to the merits of one whom he had the honour of calling his friend, the late Mr. Macaulay, who quietly and unostentatiously, laboriously and unceasingly, had dedicated himself, his fortune, time, and health, to that great work. To him, more than to any one else, in the prosecution of it, were those indebted, who had been place by Providence in a more prominent station in this cause. For all the reasons which he had given, believing that the measure was 221 one which encouraged slavery, and perpetuated the slave-trade, he gave his cordial assent to the motion of his noble Friend, by which that measure would be defeated. Mr. Charles Wood was anxious to have addressed the House when the hon. Member for Stamford sat down, not, he could assure the House, for the purpose of renewing his controversy with the hon. Baronet as to the naval estimates, on the result of which controversy however, when it had taken place he had no reason to look back with regret. He had been anxious to express his satisfaction, that at last some hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House had broken through those narrow bounds within which the noble Lord who moved the amendment (Lord Sandon) had endeavoured to limit it; bounds within which, however much they might suit a party purpose, or be expressive of the peculiar views of the noble Lord himself, the House could not properly confine themselves with a due regard to those important interests which the present discussion involved. The hon. Baronet had alluded to some words in the motion of the noble Lord, respecting the present prospects of the importation of East India Sugar, which in the opinion of the hon. Baronet had better have been omitted; he agreed, that the omission of those words would have made the motion more consistent with the high principles professed on this occasion by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and on which the hon. Baronet was prepared to act; but he doubted whether the motion of the noble Lord would then have served the purpose for which it was intended. That which the House had now to consider was this — upon what basis and principles the future commercial code of this country should be settled; and by that means the revenue of the country should be made equal to its expenditure. That was the question which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had brought before the House. They were about to go into a Committee of Ways and Means for the purpose of deciding that question, but the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Sandon) thought proper to interpose an amendment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies, had stated distinctly the principle on which they were about to raise the revenue to an amount equal to the exigencies of the State, not 222 by imposing fresh burthens on the people, but by a revision of protecting duties, thus affording relief to the manufacturers and consumers in this country, at the same time hat they obtained the requisite revenue. This was the proposed system of finance which hon. Gentlemen opposite resisted. He could have wished that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had brought the question more distinctly before the country, and that his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies had brought forward as a substantive question the amendment which he proposed to move in the event of the motion of the noble Member for Liverpool being carried. It would then have appeared more clearly to the county what the question really was which the House had to decide. Not that it mattered much whether the system of the Government was one which was to be resisted as a whole, or whether it was to be met and defeated in detail. It mattered little to the manufacturing population, who were looking for relief from their present distresses to the financial measures proposed by Government, whether each portion of those measures was thrown out by itself, or whether they were disposed of as a system. The House had heard from the hon. Member for Stamford, from the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, and from other hon. Members on the other side of the House, large professions of their attachment to the principles of free trade; and he had heard with pleasure the expression of an opinion on the part of the hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Hogg) in favour of relieving from taxation all articles included in the necessary consumption of the poor; but he was not a little astonished to find that the conclusion which the hon. Member arrived at was, that to effect this desirable object it was proper to resist a reduction of duty on sugar. The Member for Lambeth had expressed his surprise at the conduct of the Member for Beverley who had advocated the soundest principles of free trade, when contending for the admission of East India Sugar on equal terms with that from the West Indies. His hon. Friend quite forgot the difference of feeling extending he feared far beyond the Member for Beverley, between the time when a person is struggling fur admission into a privileged class, and the time when having obtained admission himself he is only too ready to join in closing 223 the door against those who still remain outside. He was curious to know to what extent the hon. Member for Beverly and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (who had also professed an attachment to free trade principles) were disposed to go in support of their liberal commercial views. At present, they both resisted the reduction of the duty on sugar. He should be glad to know whether they would turn round upon the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. A. Chapman), when he should resist the reduction of duty on timber, notwithstanding he had so gallantly come forward to resist the reduction of duty on sugar. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Handley) and others, were known to entertain no objection to the reduction of duty on sugar, but they entertained a strong opinion in favour of the Corn-laws, and they avowedly opposed the proposition, in order, that they might with more consistency defend the monopolies in which they were themselves interested. Would the hon. Members for Beverley and Kilmarnock be so ungrateful as to vote for a reduction of duty on corn, after the hon. Member for Lincolnshire had so generously resisted the reduction of a duty on their own monopoly— sugar? And, if they did, what would the country think of the sincerity of their professions and principles? Much had been said upon the question of slavery and the slave-trade. The argument founded on this ground had been urged by some hon. Gentlemen opposite as if they supposed, that those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House had very short memories, and were totally forgetful of the conduct which, for years, many of those Gentlemen had pursued on this subject. He had no wish to refer to individuals, but remembering the arguments in favour of maintaining slavery, which he had heard for years back, on the part of the West-Indian body, he could not attach much weight to the new views which they now put forward, and which he could not but attribute more to the change which had taken place in their interest, than to any change in their feelings. The hon. Member for Stamford (Sir G. Clerk), had spoken of what his party had done for the abolition of the slave-trade and slavery. He (Mr. C. Wood), for one, did not wish to claim any exclusive credit to his own party for all that had been done for the purpose of putting an end to the horrors 224 of that system; but he must remind the hon. Member for Stamford, that the best exertions of those who were eminent on his side of politics—even the exertions of Mr. Wilberforce and of Mr. Pitt—achieved but little. The slave-trade was put down by the Whig Administration of 1806. The resolutions proposed by Mr. Canning, in 1823 or 1824, remained but little better than waste paper till the fatal blow was given, in 1834. It was to the Whigs, that what had been done was mainly due, and the system had been finally put an end to, by the bill brought in under Lord Grey's Government, by his noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley). He admitted, that there were many who urged this argument, whose sincerity was beyond all doubt. For their scruples, he entertained the sincerest respect. Nobody could but admire the long and consistent course of the right hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets in advocating the cause of the negro. He felt the greatest respect for the views of his hon. Friend who had just sat down; and who had drawn in such vivid colours, the miseries of the slave-trade. He thought, however, that they both took a most exaggerated view of the degree of encouragement to the slave-trade, which the measure now before the House could possibly give; and he thought they directed their humane feelings too exclusively to the negro population, and far too little to the state of our suffering population at home. If they would consider the state of the free negro population in the West Indies, as depicted in the accounts read by his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, and whose welfare it was supposed, that this measure would injure, and contrast it with that of the lower classes of our manufacturing population, as given in the reports of the commissioners of inquiry into the state of the hand-loom weavers, they would find the latter far greater objects of commission, and in far greater need of relief. With two exceptions, little reference had been made to the wretched state of so large a portion of the population of this country; and the two Members who had referred to it, both voted against the proposal of the Government, which would afford them some relief. The hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis), opposed the measure on principle. If they were to fight it upon principle, let some intelligible principle be laid down. He had heard no attempt at an answer to 225 the representations which had been made as to the infinitely small proportion of encouragement which this measure would give compared with the immense encouragement which we were at present giving by our commercial policy to the slave-trade, and upon which he had never heard any remonstrance on the score of humanity. The hon. Member for Sheffield had referred to the enormous importation into this country of slave-grown cotton. He had not heard of any one who was for reducing that amount of importation. But we went further; cotton might be considered necessary for our great manufacturing population. We took a vast amount of slave-grown tobacco—not a necessary in any man's estimation; in the opinion of many, a deleterious drug. Did any one advocate stopping this trade? Had we not, on the contrary, utterly prohibited the growth of tobacco in Ireland, where, as an object of cultivation, it might have produced great benefits, in the fear lest Irish tobacco might come to compete with slave-grown tobacco. We ensured, by direct legislation, a positive monopoly to slave-grown tobacco. But it might be said, that was necessary for the sake of the revenue. Where, then, was the principle of hon. Gentlemen opposite? But, then, again, there was the case of slave-grown coffee. Was there any one who would deny, that we gave advantages to the slave-grown coffee of Brazil, over the free-labour coffee of St. Domingo? The slave-grown coffee of Brazil was admitted by the system of carrying it round by the Cape of Good Hope; which could not be done with the coffee produced by free cultivation in Hayti, from the situation of that island. If we relaxed our code and imported coffee direct from both places, the free-grown coffee would have the advantage. He should like to ask the right hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Dr. Lushington) to say whether there was any difference in principle between importing slave-grown Brazilian sugar for the purposes of the refiner, with a view to be re-exported to our own colonies, and importing it for the use of the British consumer? He should like to know what distinction could be drawn between the- two cases which would justify the right hon. Gentleman in allowing the importation in one case, and refusing it in the other. [Hear! hear!] His noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley) cheered 226 him; he would defy even his noble Friend's ingenuity to point out a distinction in principle between the two cases. But this was not the whole case. His right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade had stated last night, and stated truly, that to whatever extent we exported our manufactured goods to the Brazils, we were paid for them by slave-grown produce. They had no other mode of making payment. Sometimes we imported directly, this slave-grown produce, as he had stated: more generally we carried the slave-grown sugar to continental markets, and disposing of it there, brought home the goods obtained in exchange. When the latter mode of payment took place, did any body mean to maintain, that the same encouragement was not given to the employment of slave-labour as if we were paid directly by returns of slave-grown produce, whether it were sugar or any other article? But the noble Lord opposite (Lord Sandon) seemed to hold, that the intermediate process made all the difference, and the circuit washed away the impurity of the transaction; as if he could think that a whit less encouragement was given to slavery by the indirect method of payment, than if slave-grown sugar came in payment direct to England. So long as we sent goods at all to Brazil, and were paid in slave-grown produce, we may be said to encourage slavery. The hon. Baronet told the House that this country would lose its character for consistency with foreign nations if they adopted measures that would tend to give encouragement to slavery, might they not, he would ask, be more justly charged with inconsistency when it appeared to foreign nations that, for the benefit of a few sugar refiners and sugar carriers, they scrupled not to import slave-grown sugar, while, without any visible line of distinction, they refused to admit that sugar for the benefit of the consumers, and that solely for the purpose of maintaining those very monopolies, for the abolition of which, in other countries, this nation was most loudly calling, but of which we refused to set the example. There was another consideration which he could not avoid pressing on the attention of the House. It had been stated by the hon. Member for Nottingham, and he grieved to say, on the authority of one whom no one could question on this subject, Sir F. Bux- 227 ton, that, too truly, all our efforts to put down the foreign slave-trade, had for many years only aggravated its horrors. In the last two or three years, the treaties which had been concluded, and the vigorous exertions of our cruizers had diminished the trade to some extent; but if for so many years our best efforts had been so ineffectual, might not some other means be tried. If, then, there were the slightest hope that by a new treaty with the Brazils, or by an improved communication arising from concessions and accommodations, which the people of that country would probably be inclined to ask of us at the expiration of the present treaty, in 1842—if, he said, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had the slightest hope that by such means we should be enabled to mitigate in any degree the character of the slavery of that country, would it not be well worthy of his hon. Friend (Sir R. Inglis) to consider whether the obstacles which he would throw in the way of the renewal of that treaty upon advantageous terms, by opposing this measure, would not tend materially to frustrate the desirable object of the amelioration for which all were so anxious. He next came to consider the question with reference to the state of our population at home, and he was sure that no Gentleman acquainted with the manufacturing districts would deny, that no such state of depression and despondency as the present had ever been known in those districts. He had received many accounts from the district with which he was connected: he would read one from a letter which he had received two days ago. The writer stated:—That no man could support himself by his business. At this moment the depression has deepened to such an alarming degree, that confidence is altogether shaken, and trade literally paralysed. Feilden's (that is the hon. Member for Oldham) began to work short time last week, four days per week. In South Lancashire that time is general. Short time to workmen who can but just live on full time wages, is slow-wasting famine, with pestilence on its heels.He did not believe that statement to be exaggerated; and it received confirmation from the accounts in the report of the band-loom weaver commissioners, who had the best opportunity of judging of the state of our manufacturing population. Without troubling the House with many details, he would confine himself to read 228 ing a short extract from that report. It stated, that with almost all the labouring classes low wages produced immediate distress, and want of employment immediate destitution. The commissioners did not believe, that any one who had not mixed with the working classes could adequately conceive how much mental and bodily suffering, how much despondency and disease, were implied in the vague terms, "a fall of wages," or, "slack demand for labour." If this was the case with merely a slack demand for labour; he would leave Gentlemen to imagine what it must be when they were employed only four days in a week. Now to what measure, except to some measure for the improvement of the trade of the country, did the House look for any permanent improvement of the condition of these persons? He was not a little sorry last night to hear hon. Gentlemen running down and deprecating the foreign trade of this country. The House had been told by those who were the advocates of the agricultural interest, that it was on the home demand that the trade of this country depended for its prosperity. What had been the state of the agricultural interest during the last three years? Would anybody say, that the price of agricultural produce had not been high, and the agricultural interest so far in a fair and prosperous condition? If the doctrine which the advocates of that interest put forth were true, then the manufacturers, instead of being in a state of despondency, ought to be in a State of prosperity. But the fact we knew to be otherwise. We knew, that for the last six years in the manufacturing districts wages had been gradually sinking, whilst the price of corn had been gradually rising. He had a statement, showing what had been the wages in Halifax and Bradford, of three descriptions of workmen, and what the price of corn during the last seven years. It appeared that corn had risen from 46s. 1d. in 1834 to 65s. 9d. in 1840, while wages in that time had fallen with one description of workmen from 10s. to 6s. 9d.; with a second description from 14s. to 10s.; and with a third description from 18s. to 13s. 6d. If any Gentleman bad read attentively the report to which he bad referred, he would find it universally stated, that the comfort, the health, and almost the existence of the labourer depended upon the low price of corn. What 229 was the statement in one of the papers put forward by the West-Indian body? That the greater consumption of sugar in certain years was owing not to the price of sugar; but to the low price of corn. It had been repeated in the House. Did not this mean, that when the working man had less to pay for his necessary bread, he had more to spend on comforts; or on such necessaries as sugar? But it did not stop here. As it was emphatically said in the handloom commissioners' report, when bread was cheap, the labouring classes clothed themselves. To what could they attribute the present state of the manufacturing interest except to the state of our foreign trade? It was the absence of foreign demand which reduced the manufacturing interest and manufacturing population to this state; and what was the cause of the absence of foreign demand? He was astonished at hearing an hon. Member who represented the colonial interest, state the small amount of exports to Brazil as a proof that taking the sugar grown in the Brazils would not increase our foreign trade. He (Mr. C. Wood) thought they had lived beyond the lime when hon. Gentlemen supposed that British goods could be sent to other countries, unless the English were prepared to take something from those countries in return. The small amount of exports from this country was pretty well accounted for, when our fiscal regulations were such as prevented us from receiving articles from those countries in return. It seemed absolutely impossible to push demonstration further than this, that the state of the manufacturing population was owing to a want of foreign demand, and that the want of foreign demand could only be attributed to our vicious commercial code. There was evidence in that much-disputed and much-quoted report of the Import duties' committee, that this want of comfort, and, in some instances, of almost the necessaries of life, owing to the high price of corn, was not confined to the manufacturing population, but extended to the agricultural labourers. There was most clear evidence given by a manufacturer of Leicester, that at the time when the price of corn was high, the agricultural labourers could not afford to purchase the necessary articles of clothing, and the cheap woollen hosiery, which was one of the staple articles of the manufactures of Leicester; and he stated, not as 230 a matter of opinion but of fact, that the commercial travellers of Leicester who went through the agricultural districts, reported, that the demand in the agricultural districts was quite as slack in the time of the high price of corn, as the demand in the manufacturing districts for the self-same articles. It had become a maxim with the manufacturers, that whenever corn was high, the demand for the necessary goods used by the lower classes was as much reduced in the agricultural as in the manufacturing districts. But it was undoubtedly upon the great masses of our manufacturing population that our restrictive system and protecting duties pressed most severely. Upon them it pressed with double force, by checking trade and preventing the payment of adequate wages, and, at the same time, increasing the prices of those articles on which wages were spent, and he appealed therefore to the House not to accede to the motion of the noble Member for Liverpool which would defeat the first step in removing those restrictions. He conceived, that the interests of a vast majority of the people were deeply concerned in this removal. He admitted, that some few might suffer. He was ready to admit, that the return of the West-India proprietors might be smaller, and that some of the shipowners might be obliged to break up some of those old and unseaworthy vessels in which for years they had risked the lives of their fellow-creatures, and in some degree to prevent which, it had been necessary to introduce a bill into that House; and he admitted further, to the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, that some landlords might be obliged to reduce the rents of their land. As one of that protected class, he was willing to forego his individual advantage for the sake of the general good; he did not rate that advantage so highly as others, but whatever it was, he considered his interests much more bound up with the welfare of the State at large, than with the prosperity of any particular class. One of the most essential features of the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, that while it would afford relief to trade, it was an important measure of finance; and here he must express his surprise at the mode in which it had been met on the other side of the House, where it was treated merely as a party move. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock 231 accused the Ministerial side of the House of making use of commercial measures for party purposes. Never was accusation more unjust. They had supported Mr. Huskisson against his own friends in his commercial policy. The hon. Member seemed to forget which side of the House it was, who made the timber duties a party question in 1831—and even in the present motion, the hon. Member who opposed the commercial policy of the Government professing himself the advocate of free trade, and suggested as the only remedy for the existing financial difficulties, the removal of the present Government from office, would hardly convince the world that his mind was free from party considerations. Hon. Gentlemen objected to the time of the proposal. It might have been better to have brought forward this measure last year; but he very much doubted whether the hon. Member for Newark would have thought it better, when there was no financial pressure, and when there was no immediate necessity for doing so. But some hon. Members, and especially the hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Hogg), had objected to the plan on the score of finance. His first statement was, that the country would be inundated with Brazilian sugar, and his next, that not a farthing would be added to the revenue. Now, both of these assertions could not be true: if the country were inundated with Brazilian sugar, the calculated revenue must necessarily be raised. If Brazilian sugar were not brought into the market, then the ruin the hon. Member anticipated to our colonies could never afflict them. Which horn of the dilemma did he choose? It did not appear to him (Mr. C. Wood) to be difficult to see, from papers and calculations before the House, that the revenue which his right hon. Friend calculated he should derive from this measure would be raised. The revenue would be raised, if, in consequence of a larger consumption of sugar, a larger importation took place. The consumption would be larger if a reduction of price took place than what it had been last year. The evidence taken before the Import Duties Committee gave reason to suppose, that at a retail price of from 5½ to 6½ per pound the consumption might be extended in a very great degree. The retail price of 6½ per pound was 60s. 8d. per cwt. and if his right hon. Friend ensured, that sugar should be imported at 232 that price his object was attained. Whether the sugar came from the Brazils, or from the East or the West Indies, the consumption would be certain, and the revenue would be raised. The essential point was the price. If the West-Indian or East-Indian sugar was sold at 60s. 8d. the consumption was certain; but the only security that this would be the case was, providing that if it was not, other sugar should be admitted, which would be sold at that price. This the Chancellor of the Exchequer's measure did. The proposed duty of 36s. on foreign sugar, added to the present price of Brazilian sugar, would admit it for consumption at about 60s. per cwt. Hon. Gentlemen opposite asserted, that an adequate supply for the year 1841, would come from the West and East Indies. That might be the case; but the measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the best and the only security that the price of such sugar should be sufficiently low for increased consumption; and that if those hopes were disappointed, neither the consumer nor the revenue should suffer. Hon. Gentlemen disputed the point, that the lowering of prices increased consumption. In no instance had there been a remarkable increase or decrease of consumption of sugar, which was not consequent upon an increase or a decrease of price, as might be seen from the returns. If the consumption per head in 1841 were the same as that of 1831, the imports to make up for the increased consumption according to the population would, at a duty of 24s., produce an increased revenue of 937,000l. If so, he did not think, that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, could be accused of having taken an improbable estimate of the increased revenue when he had estimated it at only 700,000l.; and, if this were to be admitted to be correct he should wish to know how the right hon. Gentleman opposite could speak of the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as utterly groundless. There was still a question of the greatest importance behind. If the proposal of Government were defeated, what was to be the alternative? If an increase of revenue were not to be looked for from this proposed scheme, if the present deficiency were not to be supplied by a method which would, at the same time, extend our trade and relieve our manufactures, in what way did the other side of 233 the House propose to supply it? Was an increase of revenue to be obtained from an alteration of the timber duties? When hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power, an alteration of the timber duties was a favourite mode of raising revenue. Did they merely look upon this question as a means of removing their political adversaries from the offices they wished to occupy? And if they succeeded, would they turn round upon his hon. Friend, the Member for Whitby? Were they to look for the increase of the revenue from the timber trade, or from some modification of the present scheme? He should like to know how the revenue for the year was to be made good. He understood, that some hon. Gentlemen fancied, that if the right hon. Member for Tamworth came into power, he would relieve them from all difficulty by proposing a vote of credit, or a loan for the year. He thought such expectations would be altogether disappointed. He (Mr. C. Wood) thought, that it was the only financial error of Ministers, that they had pushed the loan system too far. Last year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated—and the statement met with general assent—that it was impossible to carry on that system longer; and he, therefore, proposed an augmentation of the taxes. The mode of taxation then tried had utterly failed to raise the income of the country to a level with the expenditure. While Lord Althorp was in office he had relieved the kingdom from a burden of seven millions of taxes, at a loss of only two millions of revenue; and the present proposal sought to carry that wise principle further, and, while the revenue was provided, to afford aid to most valuable interests. Bui what had the right hon. Member for Tamworth said last year, on the subject of loans—and he agreed in every word which fell from the right hon. Baronet— he said, it was discreditable for a great country like this, to be reduced to loans to meet its expenditure, in time of peace; and that we ought not to have recourse to the miserable expedient of staving off such burthens from our own shoulders, in order to force them on our posterity. He said, that the deficiency being evidently of a permanent character, he should have opposed a loan if the Government had proposed it: and it is impossible for him, therefore, now, to propose such a course himself, with every 234 argument which he then used, further strengthened by the additional experience of this year. Of one thing Gentlemen might be well assured, that whatever Government was in power, they would not make the income equal to the outlay by reverting to the system of loans. What, then, he again asked, was to be the alternative of the other side? Doubtless, many hon. Members might prefer the imposition of direct taxes, and at least that would be an honest straightforward mode of meeting the difficulty; but whether it could be adopted with any chance of success in the present state of the country was another question; and he doubted much whether hon. Gentlemen who were so warmly opposed to the present proposition, would themselves find it convenient to vote for the infliction of direct taxes. Would they revive the tax upon salt and candles, removed expressly for the relief and benefit of the poorer classes? Would they re-impose the house-tax? or were they to fall back in a time of peace upon what had always been held as a last resource in this country, and which had been taken off with the universal assent of the people — he meant the property lax? Many were in favour of a tax of that kind; he could not agree with them. He agreed again with an opinion expressed by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, and believed, that it was a tax most inexpedient and unwise to propose in time of peace, and that it ought to be kept back justly and properly as a reserve for war. But if they were not to propose that tax, he wanted to know from hon. Gentlemen what resources they were to look to? He must object, in the present depressed state of the country, to adding to its burdens, to raise the revenue before the experiment of relieving it from taxation had been tried. The only source that he knew of was, so to improve our trade as to add to our customs' revenue, and by improving the condition of the consumer, enable him to consume a larger amount of articles paying customs and excise. This was the only mode which hon. Members could take to avert that taxation, which must fall otherwise on themselves. There were other and higher considerations relating to the depressed condition of so large a portion of our population; and, whether they consulted their interests or their feelings, to the same conclusion they must come—that they must endeavour to im 235 prove the state of the manufacturing interest, and what was still more important, the condition of the manufacturing population. There were other considerations arising from the state of feeling in large masses of our population, of which we had had some experience in the last two or three years, and which ought to have weight with the House. It was most necessary to conciliate and to maintain their good will, and to inspire them with confidence in the Legislature. He would not press this topic further, the importance of which he was convinced every body who heard him would feel. These considerations, however, whether as regarding their mere interest, or the welfare and prosperity of the country, and still more their feelings of humanity weighed so heavily with him, that he was not without hope that the House would even yet consent to take into consideration the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whether they did so or not, he could not avoid expressing his conviction, in common with many other hon. Members, that the present stale of the country was such, that measures like those now proposed could sot be much longer deferred. It might be that they would be carried by other hands, it might be that they would be adopted with modifications, it might be that they would be brought forward when greater ruin and distress had forced the consideration of them more imperatively on the House; but fully convinced he was, that sooner or later, and that too at no very distant period, those hon. Gentlemen who now came forward as the advocates of monopoly would find their expectations disappointed, and that, for the general benefit of the country, protected interests must part with a portion of their protection. Mr. Goulburn said, that when he reflected that the period at which he was called on to address the House against, the admission of foreign slave-grown sugar to the British market, was the precise period which, by the Act of Emancipation of the negroes of the West Indies, was fixed as the first year in which the population of those colonies should enjoy perfect freedom, and when he reflected also that, the period originally fixed had been anticipated by three years by the voluntary act of the colonists themselves, when he reflected on these circumstances, he could not but consider what would have 236 been the feelings of the House and the country if, when his noble Friend near him first proposed the Act of Emancipation, he had accompanied it with a proposition, that so soon as the apprenticeship should cease, the slave-trade of foreign countries should have all the advantages, which we could confer by opening a new market for slave-grown sugar. If any man, whatever might be his political opinions, had then stated, that that would be the proceeding of 1841, he would have been charged with indulging imaginary apprehension; he would have been told that Great Britain, immediately after the accomplishment of an act of justice to the negro-population of the West Indies, could never deprive that population of those advantages which they possessed in the market of this country, that such a return for the surrender by the colonists of the remaining portion of the apprenticeships would be a course of proceeding which no government could recommend, and which no House of Commons could ever sanction. A Government, he regretted to say, had been found to recommend it; but the House of Commons, he trusted had not been found which would sanction it. In this view of the question, it mattered not whether the measure was brought forward as one of finance or of commercial regulation. The Government, however, urged it as a measure of finance, resting upon the ground of the extreme necessities of the country. He did not deny, that there was a pressure on the finances demanding immediate attention; but in admitting that, he felt bound to add, that those who were responsible for the crisis, were bound to propose an adequate remedy. It was not sufficient for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the head of the Government, to say he proposed to obtain 700,000l. a-year, by a reduction of the duty on foreign sugar, and to be absolutely silent as to the mode in which that amount of revenue was to be realized. The right hon. Gentleman, who had neglected to supply the House with those details, which they had a right to expect, was followed by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and he favoured them with an explanation which clearly showed, that as a measure of revenue their proposition of reducing the duty on foreign sugar was altogether inefficient. They (the Conservatives) had been taunted by the hon. Member for Halifax, with 237 having adopted two inconsistent modes of argument, saying on the one hand that our British possessions would be ruined by the introduction of foreign sugar, and, on the other, that the introduction of foreign sugar would produce no revenue. The hon. Member said, that they could not be right in both of these assertions. He agreed with him that they could not; but then they were necessarily driven into those two lines of argument, because the right hon. Gentleman had put before them two inconsistent propositions. The fault was not in the replies to those propositions, but in the propositions themselves. He should like to know how the Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to raise this 700,000l. from a reduction of the duty on foreign sugar? He (Mr. Goulburn) could readily understand that from sugar such a sum might easily be raised. The right hon. Gentleman required no more from the article than was raised from it in 1828, when it produced above 5,000,000l. In that year it was true there was an additional duty of 1s. 9d. a cwt., but what were the circumstances of the market at that time? Foreign sugar was entirely excluded, East-India sugar was equally excluded by a restrictive duty of 10s., nearly as high as that proposed to be given as a protection against the sugar of the Brazils, and by a further prohibitory duty on rum. Notwithstanding that prohibition upon foreign sugar, and that restriction upon domestic sugar, our other colonial possessions furnished an ample supply, and the revenue exceeded, by 600,000l., that received in the last year. The power, therefore, of raising a large additional revenue from sugar did not depend upon their reducing or retaining the duties upon the foreign article. It depended upon the quantity of sugar brought into the market, and whether that quantity would be sufficient to effect such a reduction in the price as to produce an increased consumption. Now, it appeared, from the confession of the Government themselves, that we were to have this year a quantity of sugar in the market greater by many tons than we had in 1828, when the sum raised from sugar was that which the right hon. Gentleman opposite now desired to raise. The effect of his measure of reduction could only be to substitute a certain quantity of Brazilian or Cuba sugar for the sugar of British possessions. But for every quantity of sugar 238 so displaced they occasioned a commensurate incitement to the slave-trade, which until now they had been uniformly desirous of suppressing. He would not respond to the call of the hon. Member for Halifax, by entering into a general financial discussion on the present occasion It was not the duty of those who were acting independently of the Government to introduce a discussion of that kind; but when the hon. Member asked how hon. Gentlemen on his (Mr. Goulburn's) side of the House would obtain the required amount of revenue from sugar, he would tell him —by leaving things alone. The promised supply of 240,000 tons of sugar from the East and West Indies would insure a reduction of price sufficient to increase the revenue for the ensuing year. Of this supply the Government had no doubt, for it was their own calculation, and if they were right the revenue must increase. The hon. Member for Halifax complained of the unwillingness of his (Mr. Goulburn's) side of the House to take this opportunity of entering into a general discussion of commercial policy; but, with every deference to the hon. Member, he did not think, that the readiest way of performing the business of the country was by flying from the question submitted to their consideration, to general and desultory discussions. The question before them related to the sugar duties, and to it he would confine his observations. The hon. Member told them that they were resisting all reduction of duty. They were doing no such thing. They did not deny, that a general reduction of duty leading to a reduction of price was a great benefit to the community; but they did deny, that the reduction of duty on foreign sugar, as explained by the noble Lord, could influence the price. For what were the views of the noble Lord? that foreign sugar could only enter into consumption when the average price in the British market exceeded 61s. 6d. It was under these circumstances that he anticipated a great increase of consumption, but such an anticipation was at direct variance with all past experience. Looking to the returns of the last fifteen years, they would find, that in five only of those years had the price attained to 61s. 6d., and that in every case in which it had so attained, there had been in each year a considerable decrease in consumption. His (Mr. Goulburn's) belief was, that without any new legislation the price of sugar 239 would be (indeed it was so at present) below that which the noble Lord had fixed as its minimum; and therefore, with a view to the interests of the consumer, as well as to those of the Colonists, he saw no reason to adopt the proposal of the Government. The hon. Member for Halifax, had accused them of want of sympathy and feeling for the poor, who were suffering from the privation of this necessary article, and great pains had been taken by hon. Members opposite to contrast the condition of the artizan in the north of England with the negro of the West Indies. But surely he (Mr. Goulburn) ought to be at liberty to express his gratification at the prosperity of the negro without it being imputed to him that he was insensible to the misfortunes of his own countrymen. He sincerely felt for them, and would heartily lend his best endeavours to relieve them from their present distressed condition; but he could not bring his mind to believe, that the proposed reduction upon foreign sugar was a measure which would afford them relief, or one for which, according to the hon. Member for Halifax, they ought to be thankful. When the Government arrogated to themselves the merit of having framed their budget, with a view to the relief of the poor, it must not be forgotten in what that relief consisted; in a reduction of the price of sugar so infinitely small, that it could not reach the consumer, and in the imposition of a double duty on that particular species of timber most used in the dwellings of the poor and thus sensibly enhancing the expense of their habitations. But he was told the proposal of Government was also to be regarded as a great commercial measure and this was the favourite topic of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who accused him (Mr. Goulburn), and his friends of being insensible to the advantages to be derived from the foreign trade of the kingdom. Nothing was further from the fact. For himself he could say, that as the greater part of his political life had been in connexion with a Government of which Mr. Huskisson formed a part, and as he cordially concurred in supporting his measures, he did not think he was open to the charge of being insensible to the advantages of foreign trade. That trade, he, in common with Mr. Huskisson, considered most important, but also, in common with Mr. Huskisson, he thought, the colonial trade 240 yet more valuable, and was not prepared to neglect or to abandon it. The difficulty in which the Government stood with respect to their measure, as one of finance, was in no degree diminished by regarding it as a measure of commercial policy. They told the House, on the one hand, that enormous advantages would be derived from a sugar trade with Brazil, while, on the other, they alleged that Brazilian sugar could not come into consumption. How are these two assertions to be reconciled, and what becomes of all the arguments made use of by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. He had stated, that there were two grounds for regarding the present as the particular moment at which a reduction of the duty on Brazil sugar could be made with advantage, the one, that there was a considerable dissatisfaction in the Brazils on account of the conduct of this country; and the other, that the existing treaty with that country was so near the period of its expiration, that it was desirable before that period arrived to enter into some more extended arrangement. In considering the cause of the dissatisfaction between this country and Brazil, the right hon. Gentleman would excuse him if he did not ascribe it to precisely the same cause as that which the right hon. Gentleman had stated. He had told the House that it arose from commercial restrictions which this country imposed on the introduction of commodities from Brazil; but from the papers that had been laid before the House, it appeared that the great dissatisfaction in Brazil, towards this country, was, not so much on account of her restrictive duties as on account of the measures, which this country had taken for the abolition of the slave-trade. In the reports annually laid before the House from the commissioners established there, it appeared that they were exposed to a great degree of insult and ill-feeling, not only from the lower, but from the better classes of the inhabitants, founded upon the impediments which they offered to the introduction of new slaves. A dissatisfaction so arising they must make up their minds to bear, unless they were prepared either to relax their direct efforts for the abolition of that trade, or to give it by the admission of their sugar an effective though indirect encouragement for the abolition of that 241 trade. He knew that bon. Gentlemen were not prepared to take the former course; that many who would vote for the introduction of foreign commodities which were the produce of slave labour, would be shocked at the idea of the efforts for suppressing that trade being relaxed. But he saw no distinction between pacifying the dissatisfaction of Brazil by abandoning their plighted faith with regard to the suppression of the slave-trade and admitting to British markets the productions of the slave-trade, which but for the continuance of that trade could not be introduced here with advantage. And this led him to an argument which had been made use of both by the right hon. Member for Edinburgh and I he hon. Member for Halifax, in which they attempted to deny, that the admission of Brazilian sugar could by possibility be in any degree regarded as a question of principle, or as connected with the abolition of the slave-trade. That argument had been already dealt with most triumphantly by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, but the manner in which it had been repeated made it necessary for him to advert to it again. The hon. Gentleman said: — " You encourage the cotton and tobacco of America, which are grown in slave countries; and you take the cotton and coffee of Brazil; why, then, do you refuse Brazilian sugar? " There was a very obvious answer. It was this, and it applied equally to that other anomaly which had been pointed out, with regard to refining Brazilian sugar for exportation. We do take the cotton and tobacco of America, a country which has ceased to carry on the slave-trade; we do receive the cotton and coffee of Brazil, because by so doing, we open no new market for slave produce, give no new encouragement to the introduction of slaves from Africa. Admit their sugars, however, and you do open a new market which has never yet been accessible to Brazil, and, instead of confining them to those countries in Europe to which they have hitherto had access, give them admission to this country, which, from the extent of its population, and its wealth, is, without doubt, the best sugar market in the world. The question is, whether you will thus give this incitement to the slave-trade of Brazil, and in doing so, drive from your market the produce of your own colonies, or whether you will continue still 242 to exclude Brazil, and so to increase at the same time the produce of your own possessions, as to enable you to combat the sugar of Brazil in the different markets of the Continent. Take the first of these courses, and you can scarcely calculate the impulse which you will give to the aggravated horrors of the slave-trade, rendered more profitable by your own act of injudicious liberality, adopt the other, and there is a hope that you may establish the superiority of free over slave labour, even in the cultivation of sugar. With respect to the other argument, founded on the expiration of the treaty, he was far from denying the great advantage which attached to this trade with Brazil, and he was as anxious as any man that the negotiation for a renewal of the treaty should be attended with success; but he might doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman in suggesting a reduction of the sugar duty at this moment took the best means for securing that object which in every foreign treaty it was the duty of this country to pursue—namely, that effective measures should be taken for the abolition of the slave-trade. The right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, had alluded to the treaty with the state of Texas, and had justly complimented the Foreign Secretary for having refused to sign the treaty acknowledging the independence of that state, until he obtained from them an admission of the right of search, so essential to the suppression of the slave-trade. All he asked was, that they should adopt in Brazil their own precedent of Texas. If they gave up the duty on Brazilian sugar, and then went to Brazil to obtain commercial advantages or additional measures for the prevention of the slave-trade, they would go there with their hands tied, without any concession to make, and without those means of persuading that power which the offer of admitting her produce might afford. He, therefore, recommended the right hon. Gentleman to forbear the reduction of the duty, until he was assured, that it might be done without injury to our own colonies, and until some reciprocal advantage to this country and to humanity was obtained from Brazil. The right hon. Gentleman had given a description —no doubt a just one—of the great advantages this country would derive from her connexion with Brazil, He had described the extensive 243 line of coast of that empire, her flowing rivers, her increasing population, and the great demand which might there be created for British manufactures; but he (Mr. Goulburn) felt some little surprise, that while the right hon. Gentleman had thus enlarged on the peculiar advantages to be derived from the connection with Brazil, he had forgotten that there was a possession of the Crown, not inhabited like Brazil by about 6,000,000 of people, of whom one half were slaves, but inhabited by a free population, estimated at a hundred million, in a state of great civilisation, possessing rivers, not equal, perhaps, to those of the Brazils, but extending through a country as fertile, and opening avenues to numerous nations with means as ample of making returns for the productions and manufactures of this country. He need not say, that the possession to which he alluded was India. If, then, the right hon. Gentleman thought the connexion with Brazil so important, surely he should have some corresponding feeling for the sugar trade of that great country. He believed, that the people of India would become the best customers for English produce. Already did their consumption of them far exceed that of Brazil, and if this country would take from India her supplies of sugar, India would have indefinite means of disposing, not only of the ordinary, but of the more elaborate manufactures of Great Britain. But the right hon. Gentleman had told them, he was afraid that people would embark their capital too hastily in the sugar trade in India, unless this retarding measure of a reduction of the duty on foreign sugar was brought forward, and it was with that view of checking such speculation, that he now recommended it to the House; but when he felt so strongly for those who were about to invest their capital in India, did it not occur to him that by arresting that course of British capital it might possibly be diverted to the Brazils, or to Cuba, and be employed there in raising sugar, and so become an instrument for promoting that slave-trade which had been denounced by Parliament? He was drawing no imaginary picture, he was stating merely what had already occurred; for if the right hon. Gentleman would refer to the documents which were last year laid on the Table of the House, he would find the commissioners in the Brazils informing 244 the noble Lord, the foreign Secretary, that at that time British capital was employed in fomenting the slave trade and in cultivating land by means of slaves, newly introduced. Could there be a stronger argument than this for not diverting British capital from the legitimate sugar trade in India to a quarter where it could only be employed, if not in contravention of the law, at least in violation of its acknowledged principle? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh did not consider there was anything in the encouragement of the slave-trade which ought to embarrass the House on this occasion; that he for one did not deem it a question of principle; that his views of national duty were satisfied when this country took upon her to suppress the slave-trade in those possessions which were under her control: that he did not consider there was any question of principle or national duty involved in any attempt, direct or indirect, to prevent the existence of the slave trade in foreign countries; and that when this country had fulfilled the Emancipation Act, she had done all she was in duty bound to do. Now, he (Mr. Goulburn) was most anxious to enter his protest against that doctrine. It had been the fashion of the other side of the House to say, that Whig Governments had been the foremost in promoting freedom and abolishing the slave-trade; and they had exulted, and very naturally, he thought, in having been the successful promoters in Parliament of the two great measures for the suppression of the slave-trade and the emancipation of the negroes. But, on the other hand, he could not forget, when those merits were claimed for Whig Governments, that there was one that more particularly belonged to that Government with which he had acted. He could not forget that at the treaty of Vienna, where all the powers of Europe were assembled, it was a British negotiator acting under a Conservative Government, who brought all those powers to an unanimous declaration of their determination to make every effort for the suppression of the slave-trade. And he might be permitted to say, though God forbid that he should attempt to disparage hon. Gentlemen opposite for being the instruments of good, that he thought the period would arrive, when the world would do ample justice to the memory of that roan, who, by the au 245 thority of his country, and his own consummate ability, obtained that declaration. He never would admit, that the obligations which that treaty imposed on this country for the abolition of the slave trade had become extinct or obsolete; nor had any such doctrine ever until this period been held in Parliament. What he would ask had been the course of Parliament with reference to that subject? No sooner had the emancipation of the negroes which is now thought to have cancelled our obligations been carried, than the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford brought forward a motion for an address to the Crown, calling upon it to use every means in its power for the complete abolition of the slave-trade; and the noble Lord the foreign Secretary had given to the House in the course of those discussions, details of the evils to which a remedy was yet to be applied. The noble Lord, too, depicted not only the horrors of the trade, but the difficulties there were in carrying out the declaration made by the treaty of Vienna. But did they stop there? In the year 1839 an address of the other House to the Crown confirmed and sanctioned by the views of this House on the same subject. And again, by that address, had Parliament called upon the Crown to leave no measure untried for the suppression of that traffic especially in Cuba and Brazil, whose sugar it was now proposed to admit into this country. The noble Lord, on one of those occasions informed us, that his difficulties in enforcing the expressed wishes of Parliament were great, not so much from the want of laws directed against the traffic in slaves as from the want of principle in those by whom they were administered. Quid prosunt (he exclaimed) leges sine moribus. I would beg to suggest to him that, should the present measure be adopted and should he be again called upon to urge on other nations the withholding encouragement from the slave-trade he may meet with the new discouragement of finding, that that want of principle which defeats law weakens negotiation also. He may be told in reply that if this country prefers encouraging the slave-trade, to bearing for a limited period, some increase of the price of sugar, it is not reasonable to expect, that other nations should abandon larger interests and make greater sacrifices for a principle which we no longer care to maintain. For these reasons, he felt himself bound, on a con 246 ideration of the effect which the measure of the Government would have on the finances of the country, on the interests of the colonies and their commerce, and, above all, on that great question the suppression of the foreign slave-trade to which the honour of Parliament and the country was so distinctly pledged to give his cordial support to the motion of his noble Friend. Sir George Grey said, that, at the close of the third night of this long-protracted debate, he was happy to have it in his power to congratulate the House upon an important disclosure made by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. It would be in the recollection of the House, that on the night when his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced his financial scheme, the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite concurred with him most strongly in stating, that such was the existing deficiency in the revenue of the country, that some decided measures must be taken in order to bring up the revenue so as to meet the expenditure. Hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House had been anxiously expecting to hear what was the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, not only as to the whole financial statement of his right hon. Friend, and the scheme which he had submitted to the House for its approbation, but they had been desirous also to learn, if they objected altogether to the details of that measure, on what principles they did so, and what principles they would themselves propose to be adopted. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for having, at last, after three nights of cautious silence, and a close and careful concealment of what would be the principles upon which the budget of the right hon. Baronet, in whose confidence he must suppose the right hon. Gentleman to be, would be propounded to the House, afforded a full answer to the extremely important question which had been put, in these emphatic words: "I will first let things alone." Such was the satisfactory answer which had been given by the right hon. Gentleman to the country, whose attention had been drawn to this subject during the last six months— ever since that much traduced, but most valuable report had been published, which had been so frequently referred to. He might venture to predict, that this was an answer which would be received by the people, whether Whig, or Radical, or 247 Tory-Radical, with anything but satisfaction. He was sorry that he could not express any more satisfaction with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, than he had felt at those of other hon. Members who had spoken on that side of the House as to the principles upon which the proposed measure of the Government was to be opposed; for, in his speech, and in those which had been previously delivered, he had been alike unable to discover any distinct answer to the propositions which were raised. The hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Gladstone) had commenced his address to the House by avowing openly, that he did not go there to discuss principles. One would have supposed, that the hon. Member at least would have been prepared to propose some principle by which "the conscience of the State," might have been guided; but the hon. Gentleman said, that this was not a question of principle. He rested the case, in the earlier part of his inconsistent speech, entirely on the anticipated supply from the East and West Indies, during this year. He admitted, that if the supply were to remain as deficient as during the past year, there was nothing in the principles stated by his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, from which he dissented; but he promised such an increased supply that no political expediency could justify the measure proposed. One would have supposed, that the hon. Member would have adopted the principles of the right hon. Gentleman behind him (Dr. Lushington) who had suffered so much for the part which he had taken; but it turned out, that his object was only to maintain a high principle of morality when sugar was 57s., but that, changing with every statement contained in the price currents, of Liverpool or London, it was to vanish with political expediency when sugar was lowered to 27s. On that side of the House he had not the same complaint to make. It had been the misfortune of the Government, on this occasion, to be deserted by some hon. Gentlemen, who had hitherto given their steady and firm support to the principles upon which they had conducted the affairs of this country. The principles upon which that change of position of those hon. Gentlemen had been produced, had, however, been fully and clearly stated, and he asked hon. Gentlemen opposite which of the principles stated by those hon. Gen 248 tlemen they adopted. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire, who had spoken on the first night of this debate, had addressed the House with a manliness and candour which had always characterised his proceedings in that House. He had said, that he could not view this as an isolated proposition. He objected to an interference with any monopoly, because, he said, that if they touched one, they must attack all, and the result must be the downfall of the whole system. He defended this as an out-work, because he conceived, that if it were carried, the next attack would be upon the Corn-laws, but he resisted the adoption of the general principle on one case, and declared, that he would do so in all instances. He begged to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether this was the view which they supported. Short and important as the proposition was, they had been silent upon the question of the Corn-laws, and he asked them whether that was not at the bottom of their whole opposition to this sugar question, and whether the House would see the same regard for the negroes and the interests of humanity, if they did not believe, that this was an outwork which must be maintained secure, in order to secure the safety of the Corn-laws. The second principle which had been enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, had been stated with as much distinctness as that put forward by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire. He said, that he should object to the introduction of sugar which was the produce of slave-labour, and he would rather sacrifice the interests of England, than give encouragement to slave-grown produce and the slave-trade. He asked whether that was the principle upon which hon. Gentlemen opposite would act. [Lord Sandon: Hear !] The noble Lord said, that it was; would the right hon. Baronet also act upon the same principle? He thought, that, at all events, it would be a little satisfactory that the country should know, that the noble Lord who was put forward by the right hon. Baronet upon this occasion, entertained this feeling. The noble Lord, speaking of the change of sentiments of some Members of the Government party, said he was prepared to tell the people of England, that be the price of sugar however extravagant, even beyond the extent of the morality of the hon. Member for 249 Newark, his principles would never yield, and he could never submit to the introduction of sugar produced by slave-labour. But he must say, that this extreme horror of slavery, coming, as it did, with a very good grace from the right hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, came with a very bad grace from many of those hon. Members who had come forward to support his views. A petition had been presented by the right hon. Baronet opposite, which implored the House not to sanction the principle of slavery, thinking, by that means to excite the warm and generous feelings of the people of this country, the full value of which they knew well, from the very munificent gifts showered on themselves; and, therefore, availing themselves of these feelings, they came forward now, and placing the interests of the negro strongly before the world, sought by that means to hold this House up to the public reprobation for adopting a measure which they alleged might have the effect of increasing the powers of slavery and the slave-trade. He asked, was it possible for the noble Lord (Lord Sandon), and the right hon. Baronet to adhere to the principle which was now put forward; or was it to be confined to the particular case upon which it had been advanced? If the principle were maintained generally how, he asked, was it possible not to extend it to every article which was the produce of slave-labour? The necessity, if it referred to one instance, referred to all. Great Britain, however, was in communication with nearly every country in the universe, and her commerce was extended into the most remote quarters. She had abolished slavery, but having done so, did the noble Lord and the hon. Member for Lincolnshire say, that she was not to look to the wants of her people, but that she was to compel them to undergo a permanent sacrifice by waging war, for a prohibition must be required against all slave-produce. A distinction had been drawn by hon. Gentlemen between cotton and coffee, on the ground that there was a great difference between the amount and description of labour bestowed on them, but that was not a distinction which the people of England would appreciate. They would inquire into all the horrors of slavery, it was not to the details of the system they objected, but to its principles, and be the slavery comparatively severe or mild in its nature, 250 it was against slavery itself they desired to contend. [Cheers.] The noble Lord cheered this proposition, and he thought, that he had now made him a convert to his views, that the distinction between cotton and sugar did not in reality exist. But it was said, that in this measure the Government had abandoned the principle of opposition to the slave-trade; by this suggestion, one would be led to believe, that these prohibitory duties had been originally imposed on sugar to prevent the introduction of sugar, the produce of slavery. No one, however, knew better than the hon. Member for Newark, that these duties had been imposed long before the slave-trade was abolished, and that, in fact, their real object had been to give protection to slave-grown sugar. It was not for a long time, that the voice of the East-Indians, which had been raised against those duties, have been heard, and it was only in the year 1836, that the duties were equalized; and in the present year this system was carried out. There was nothing in the existing duties, or in the principle of them intended to operate against slavery or the slave-trade, and it was, therefore, for hon. Members to say, that in this proposal they were abandoning those principles upon which they had acted in procuring the extinguishment of this dreadful system. But if the House proceeded upon the principle proposed by the noble Viscount (Viscount Sandon), they must revise the whole of our commercial tariff, not in the sense in which it was now asked for by the great body of the people of this country, but with a view to exclude from our consumption every article which was the produce of slave-labour, however necessary it might be. He must say, that this was a principle which, considered with reference to this great commercial country, was of the greatest possible absurdity, and he was sure, that the House would not sacrifice all our commercial interest, by its recognition. But if they adopted the principle in one case, they must do so in all; and they would be cautious, therefore, how they took a step which was fraught with consequences of such deep importance. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) had called the attention of the House to the fact that English capital was employed in Cuba in the maintenance of slave-labour, and in the cultivation of sugar by such means. Undoubtedly, this was a practice which reflected the greatest dis 251 grace on those who were parties to it, and he agreed that every means should be taken to prevent it; but he asked those who came to protect free-labour sugar against slave-labour sugar, whether slaves were employed in Cuba only? Were there no mines in the Brazils? He saw the hon. Member for Antrim (Mr. Irving) in his place, and he found it stated in a public document, that a company, of which he was the chairman, had been formed for the purpose of working mines in the Brazils. The capital employed for that, purpose was English, but the bones and sinews, by means of which the one was extracted, were the bones and sinews of African slaves. But in connection with the same subject which had been frequently adverted to already in the course of this discussion, the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had alluded to a committee on East-India trade, of which he (Sir G. Grey) was a member last year, and to the business of which he had paid particular attention, and he well remembered an important witness, who had been called forward on behalf of the West-Indian interest, in order to oppose the introduction of the East-India rum into this country, and that he was examined at great length by the hon. Member for Antrim, with a view to show the condition of the labourers there. He alluded to Mr. M'Queen, who spoke as the organ of the West-Indian interest, and could not, therefore, be supposed to say anything prejudicial to its interests, but he was bound to say, that he had given his evidence with the most perfect good faith, and in such a manner as to excite his perfect confidence in what he had said. He was asked:—Can you give the committee any information about the importation of colonial produce into this country from the West Indies and the Mauritius, and also the consumption thereof in Great Britain and Ireland, and the re-exportation of British Sugar, refined or raw, to other countries?— Yes, I can, I have those returns here. In 1839, the whole quantity of sugar imported into Great Britain from the West Indies and the Mauritius was 3,435,257 cwt.; from British India, 519,126 cwt., making altogether 3,954,383 cwt. The consumption of this country last year, deducting the quantity exported, refined and raw, was 3,834,847 cwt., leaving an apparent surplus of 119,536 cwt., but from which remains to be deducted 10,470 cwt. exported in a raw state, and 22,000 cwt. in a refined state, making together 32,470 cwt., leav 252 ing a surplus of 87,066 cwt. The drawbacks upon British refined sugar, I have here. The drawback in 1835 amounted to 709,410l.; in 1838 to 578,968l.; in 1839, to only 26,379l. The value of refined sugar exported from this country altogether was, in 1834,915,693l.; in 1835, it was 852,487l.; in 1838, it was 553,247l.; and in 1839, 213,738l, nearly all of which was foreign sugar refined in bond. From what countries did that chiefly come; was it from countries having slaves?—I believe almost exclusively from Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Brazils; probably there are some sugars that are refined from Manilla and Siam but I apprehend that the price and quality of Brazil, Cuba, and Porto Rico sugar is so superior that the refiners use those in preference; the consequence of which is that the whole of our foreign possessions, and every colony in the West Indies, the Cape of Good Hope, Australia, the East Indies, in fact every part to which we export refined sugar, is at this moment consuming the produce of slave-colonies.With regard now to the protection of sugar the produce of free labour, it was to be observed, that the hon. Member for Newark spoke no longer in the character of a West Indian, the greater part of the interest which he or his connections had possessed, having been transferred to the East Indies, but the right hon. Gentleman who had spoken last, did not now tell the House, as it had been told before, that the West Indies were in the state of decay and ruin referred to by Mr. M'Queen, but he sought to prove, that the supply to be expected from the West and the East Indies together would be sufficient to meet the demand and to render this measure unnecessary. At all events, however, the measure could do no harm. The hon. Member for Stamford seemed surprised at this suggestion; but he would show him how it was that no harm could be done. Supposing the fact to be contrary to the statement of Mr. M'Queen—that the West Indies were in such a condition, that we might look to it for not decreasing crops, and in which it might be possible to place the land in an improved state of cultivation, his right hon. Friend only proposed to take an adequate security for the fulfilment of those expectations which were held out; that if there should be a deficiency of supply the foreign producers of the commodity might come in aid, so that the consumer should not be subject to those difficulties which he had undergone during the past year. It might be said, 253 that the protecting duties were insufficient in amount, but if that were the only point, if hon. Gentlemen opposite thought, that notwithstanding the amount of duty proposed, the foreign grower would still be able to undersell the English merchant, that was a question which was to be considered in committee, and the determination of which was delayed and prevented by the motion of the noble Lord, and by this discussion. Looking at the evidence produced before the committee of the extreme fertility, and the immense productive powers, of the vast valley of the Ganges, coupled with all those other advantages connected with the production of sugar in the East Indies, and its importation into this country, he was at a loss to understand why the supply from that quarter had been so limited. He could conceive, that the publication of that evidence would induce capitalists to send their capital to that district, and therefore it was, that he might anticipate that a very large supply would, in future, be derived from thence. He wished to say a word or two as to the question introduced in the latter part of the resolution of the noble Lord. He meant that course which Parliament was called upon to take with regard to foreign sugars. Undoubtedly, England had set a noble example to the world, in determining to procure the abolition of slavery, at the vast expense which it had caused; but when the cost was estimated at twenty millions only, it was estimated at a sum far lower than in reality had been incurred. The nominal charge, it was true, was only twenty millions, but that amount had been increased by the extra amount of ten millions paid by the consumers of sugar, in the increased price of that commodity. But were our foreign neighbours likely to be induced to follow our example by hon. Gentlemen proclaiming to them that the experiment had been a "miserable failure." Hon. Gentlemen opposite had said so, but he said, that the strongest evidence of its failure would be their proclaiming to the world, that after the sacrifice which had been made, the people of this country were still to be called upon to consent to a permanent sacrifice for the next ten years of another ten millions, the increased amount which they would have to pay for their sugar during that period. The argument was, that the government were proclaiming the failure of the scheme by the present pro 254 position, but it was not the Government who proclaimed this to the world, but hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they said, that it was impossible to do good with a moderate protecting duty. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had not adverted to the main principles involved in the propositions of her Majesty's Government, on the contrary, they had expressly declined to do so. The hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Gladstone) said, he did not come down there to discuss principles; and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Oxford, slated, that he would not enter into a general and desultory discussion, such as had been introduced by the hon. Member for Halifax. That might be a prudent course for hon. Gentlemen opposite, but he believed the country would think differently. The country would duly appreciate their unwillingness to grapple with the principles laid down by her Majesty's Government, to the discussion of which, hon. Gentlemen opposite had been fully and fairly invited. They might look to anticipated triumph; but he firmly believed with his hon. Friend the Member for Halifax, that, the more this question was discussed, the better it would be understood. And whatever pretext or guise hon. Gentlemen opposite might assume for the purpose of enlisting the sympathy and the feelings of the reflecting portion of the people, the better they were understood, the more certain would be the triumph of the principles submitted to the House and the country by her Majesty's Government.
§ Viscount Sandon
was understood to complain in explanation that the right hon. Baronet, had attributed to him sentiments which he entirely disowned. The right hon. Gentleman had interpreted his cheers, as if he had agreed in the right hon. Gentleman's exposition of the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Tower Hamlets, which was not the case.
§ Mr. Goulburn
also explained. The right hon. Gentleman had imputed to him that he had stated, that in the present crisis of affairs it was necessary that nothing should be done. What he stated, was, that they were in a crisis which demanded great exertion, but the additional revenue that would be derived from sugar under the circumstances of the quantity announced by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to be 255 in the course of arrival from the East and West Indies would be sufficient, and he had said, that that revenue would be obtained by their doing nothing.
§ Sir George Grey
was understood to say amidst much noise, that he had certainly not meant to do any injustice either to his noble Friend or the right hon. Gentleman, and he believed, that he had correctly represented their cheers and their opinions, though if they disavowed his interpretation he must accept their disavowal.
§ Mr. Irving
said, that no person who addressed that House more rarely addressed the House than he did. It was not his intention to have said a word on this subject, had it not been for the rather unnecessary attack made upon him by the right hon. Baronet, the Judge Advocate. He could not understand upon what principle it was, that the Judge Advocate had singled him out from among all the other persons similarly situated. And, above all, why he should have singled him out to justify the opinions, in answer to questions before a committee expressed by the witness, to whom the right hon. Baronet had alluded, Mr. M'Queen. He wished the evidence of that gentleman had been read by every Member of that House. That evidence gave a true and just account of what the West-Indies had been and what they were likely to become, and if any man had any regard for the rights of property, if any man had any regard for the changes which the slave population was likely to undergo in those colonies in the event of such measures as those contemplated by her Majesty's Government being carried into effect, he was sure such a man must hesitate before he could allow such measures to pass that House. This question had not been argued upon proper principles. It was assumed that they were to give admission to foreign sugars where so ever they came from, whether from the Brazils, from Cuba, from Manilla, or from the eastern islands: but he would say, that if they permitted such sugars to come into their markets at any duty he cared not what— [Great laughter.] He did not see that there was anything very risible in what he said. He would repeat the observation, and say, that if they allowed these sugars to come into their markets at any duty whatever, they would accumulate so much misery and distress on the West-Indies, that it would 256 be impossible for the West-Indies, circumstanced as they were, to continue the cultivation of sugar; and, as was distinctly stated by Mr. M'Queen, our West-India colonies would become what St. Domingo was, a scene of utter desolation, from which sugar cultivation would be entirely excluded. This question had not been reasoned upon according to true principles. He could tell them that the East-Indies, with the disadvantages under which they would labour if this measure were to take effect, and with the expense of their government, would not cultivate sugar at all, and there was nothing else by which the proprietors of the soil could make a profit. But what effect would this measure have upon the trade of this country? It would ruin our trade with the West-Indies, to which place it was proved, that we exported more of our commodities than to the Brazils. They might talk of the twenty millions granted for the emancipation of the negroes, but was it not proved, that the real amount of loss sustained by the West-India proprietors was 137 millions? If this measure were to pass—if they were by such measures as this to ruin the West-Indies, instead of twenty millions they ought to pay them 140 millions. There was another part of the remarks of the right hon. Baronet, which he did not mean to pass over. The right hon. Baronet had accused him with being connected with a mine in the Brazils. It was perfectly true. There was a great number of persons similarly situated. It was perfectly true, that there was a great number of that sect, which was as much opposed to the system of slavery, wherever it existed, as any persons who were concerned in mines precisely the same as he was. That connection was formed at a period when public companies were instituted for the purpose of mining, not only in the Brazils, but in Mexico, and in every other part of South America, and he had no doubt he was addressing many individuals—yes, he had no doubt he was addressing many individuals in that House, who were as much concerned in those mines as he was. He wished them joy of the concern. He hoped they would be more successful than he was in that with which he was concerned. He would give the right hon. Baronet all his concerns. He assured the right hon. Baronet that he should have them upon good terms, and at a cheap rate. He was not 257 quite sure that the right hon. Baronet was a lover of speculation, but he would not give the right hon. Baronet his mines for nothing. He hoped his hon. Friends were satisfied. The right hon. Baronet had said, that he Mr. Irving had squeezed blood out of the negro race; but, if he had, he could tell the right hon. Baronet that he had squeezed no gold. He should be very glad if the right hon. Baronet could do so, and the more so as he was sure that if the right hon. Baronet felt it to be a good speculation, he would have no objection to place himself in his shoes. Had the right hon. Baronet any other accusation to bring against him? He was not in the habit of thrusting himself upon that House, but the House must perceive that he was on the present occasion compelled to obtrude himself on their attention. Debate again adjourned.