§ The Order of the Day having been read for resuming the adjourned debate,
§ Mr. P. Howard
said, with much satisfaction that he had given way to the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Gladstone), to afford him an opportunity of entering into explanation of matters that involved his personal feelings, although his address to the House was more of a reply to the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, than an explanation. After the ample discussion which this subject had already undergone, he should detain the House but a very short time, but he felt that it was necessary he should seek to justify the vote he was about to give. In the course of the debate very 419 few indeed had closely adhered to the subject of the motion of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, none so much so as the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Cambridge. With respect to the reduction of the duly on sugar, he held in his hand a copy of the memorial of the West-India proprietors presented to the House by that right hon. Gentleman, and the first signature to which was that of Mr. Burge, a gentleman who thoroughly understood all the bearings and interests of those colonies, and the questions that concerned them. Now, in that memorial he found it broadly stated, that there could not be a sufficient supply of sugar from those colonies for home consumption. And did not the admission justify the Government in seeking elsewhere for an increased supply? The only question then was, under what conditions ought we to admit foreign sugar, for admitted it must be? He was free to confess that, if our own colonies were capable of supplying enough, the Government ought, upon the principle that "Charity begins at home," to deliberate well before they admitted foreign competition. But it was a widely different case when there was a deficiency of supply for the people of this country. One reason had been assigned in the memorial against the admission of foreign competition, namely, the increased expense which free labour had entailed upon the West-India colonies in the establishment of a police and schools of education; but it should be recollected, that this country had paid in the past year upwards of 70,000l. out of the consolidated fund, for the payment of magistrates in those colonies. They might still go on expecting and receiving pecuniary assistance from this country for some years to come, but that was no reason why I hey should stand in the way of the general improvement of the country. As to the charge of giving encouragement to the slave-trade, he did not think, that we had any right to interfere with the Brazils in the use of slave labour, although undoubtedly we had a right to interrupt the importation of slaves into that country from Africa. It would be much better policy to cope with the Brazils by amicable arrangement under treaties, than lo attempt the abridgement of slave labour there by any other means. Our exportations to the Brazils at present were two-thirds as much as we exported to the West Indies, 420 and we had now an opportunity open to us of realizing what Mr. Canning said, of calling a new world into existence. With regard to the timber duties, he thought, that that was perhaps the weakest point of the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, because he had not carried out his principles on that subject with the same boldness he had manifested with regard to sugar and corn. He disapproved of the augmentation of the duty on Canadian timber, and he thought it would have been better to have further reduced the duty on Bailie timber, and to have left Canadian timber liable to the same duty as at present. With respect to the duty on coin, the Ministers, by the proposal of a fixed duty, placed themselves in the position they ought to occupy— that of umpires between the two contending parties in the State. They had adopted a course which, while it would give satisfaction to the country, would obviate many of the evils of the present system. The Ministerial measure would tend to make the trade in corn a fixed and regular trade, and would conduce to the prosperity of the manufactures of the country. It was the opinion of Mr. Blamire, a high authority on the subject, that a fixed duty as a protection to agriculture, was preferable to the sliding scale. Many agriculturists would have preferred a duty of 10s. to one of 8s., but he thought, that in order to obtain a final settlement of the question, that agriculturists would be acting wisely to accept the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The present system had been tried for twelve years, and during seven of those years, there had been a considerable importation of foreign corn, therefore they had failed in their object of insuring a permanent supply from the home grower. He was glad to see, that the Government did not mean to deny to the manufacturers of corn that protection to which he thought they were entitled. He should be sorry to expose the British husbandman unprotected to competion with the corn grower of Poland and the Crimea. He considered the absolute repeal of the Corn-laws a measure which would lead to vast mischief and hardship, and he was glad to see the Government, instead of giving into the opinions of theorists, pursuing a middle course, and, he was sure, the scheme they had submitted to the House, would be approved of by the country, and 421 that on an appeal to the country, a verdict would be given in their favour. He gave them full credit for that dignified disregard of the emoluments of office, which had impelled them to declare, that whether in or out of office, they would maintain the principles they had propounded, and he was convinced the country would wish to see these measures carried out by the Ministers who had propounded them, and not by those, who, now seated on the Opposition benches, might hereafter find it convenient to adopt them. Me was sure the country wished to see these measures carried out by its friends, and not by those who were in opposition to it. The country was anxious to see reforms carried out by Reformers. But that the Ministers should resign office without appealing to the country, he could not for a moment contemplate. That the House and the country should see this measure carried out by single hearted Reformers was not only his wish, but that of every right-minded man in the country.
§ Alderman Copeland
said, he dissented entirely from the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wished to say a word respecting a statement made by his hon. Friend, the Member for Paisley (Mr. Hastie), who had stated, that the majority of the East India merchants were in favour of the Ministerial plan. He had now before him a document, signed by some of the first houses connected with the East India trade, who totally dissented from the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, respecting the sugar duties, and differed from his hon. Friend. It was as follows:—We, the undersigned, members of the East-India and China Association, having seen a statement in the public papers, purporting that Mr. Hastie, as deputy chair-man of the East-India and China Association, stated last night, 'that there was not a member of that body who did not fully concur in the principle announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer,' do declare, that they entirely dissent from the statement as above, as the proposed alteration would be ruinous to the existing East-India and colonial interests, and they further consider, that any alteration in the duties of sugar should be prospective.J. COCKBURN & Co.WALKINSHAW & Co.GARDNER, UIIQUHART & Co.FINDAY, HODGSON & Co. (as far as 422 the statement of Mr. [Hastie is concerned.)RAWSON, NORTON & Co.FLETCHER, ALEXANDER & Co.H. GANGER.Immediately on the announcement of the Budget, a meeting of the East-India and China Association of London took place, and a resolution was come to that the duty proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was totally inadequate for the protection of our trade with India and the colonies. His hon. Friend, if he was not mistaken, was a member of a deputation which had an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject, he would not shrink from saying, that the project of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if carried, would have for its effect the total ruin of the commerce of the country. Such was his opinion, for he never could believe, that after the sacrifices made by this country for the extinction of slavery, after the changes which had taken place with relation to the cultivation of sugar in the colonies, particularly in India, after the vast capital embarked in that pursuit on the faith of the maintenance of something like protective duties, the colonists would consider themselves justly treated; nor could he believe that when the news of the proposed alteration in the timber duties reached Canada, that colony, agitated as it had been, would be maintained in tranquillity. With reference to the Corn-laws, he had often expressed his opinion upon that question. He had never shrunk from giving his vote against alteration, for he believed in his conscience, that a low price of bread, even if the utmost wishes of those who clamouured for a total repeal were gratified, would not ameliorate in anyway the condition of the operatives of this country.
§ Mr. Hastie
said, he had stated most distinctly in that House, and he now repeated, that the all but unanimous opinion of the people connected with India approved of a moderate differential duty, not prohibitory in its effect. He thought he had a right to make this statement, as, from having the honour of being chairman of the body referred to by his hon. Friend, he was brought much in contact with its members.
Sir Hussey Vivian
— Sir, I am always very unwilling to trespass on the indulgence of the House, but most especially 423 so at this period of a debate which has already lasted the extraordinary length of six days, and consequently on which I can hardly hope to throw any new light; still, having always been a strenuous friend to the freedom of trade generally, having for some time seen the absolute necessity of an alteration in the Corn-laws, I owe it to myself— I owe it to the friends by whom I am surrounded, to express my pleasure at, and my entire concurrence in, the measures proposed by her Majesty's Government. The manner in which the question has been met by the hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House, reminds me of a circumstance which occurred some fifteen or sixteen years since. When Mr. Huskisson, proposing some alterations in the import duties, amongst others, proposed a reduction of the duly on the importation of copper ore, I then rose and objected to the alteration, the effect of which, I apprehended might be injurious to the interests of the county of Cornwall; at the same time I expressed a strong opinion in favour of the freedom of trade. Mr. Huskisson, in reply, said that "his gallant Friend, like many other of his friends, was favourable to free-trade excepting when it happened that the measure proposed touched their own pockets."Now, although I am always reluctant to attribute motives, I still must say, it does seem to me, it is by some such feeling as that described by Mr. Huskisson that those who now oppose the measure of the Government are influenced. If sugar— if timber— aye, even if corn, which is at the bottom of the whole opposition, had either of them to be singly dealt with, we should not, I am persuaded, have had the great interests and influence of the others opposed to us. But the Government having very boldly and very properly proposed dealing with all three, the parties interested have combined in their opposition; of this there could not be stronger evidence than was to be found in an advertisement which appeared in the Morning Chronicle of yesterday, and which I now hold in my hand. By this it is to be seen that at a meeting of the United Ship Owners' company, persons representing the West-India colonies and landed property, had been present, and all had come to a resolution to oppose the Government; and that it was in consideration of their own immediate interests is evident from no notice whatever having in this adver- 424 tisement been taken of that, which by many Members has been put forth as their great objection to the measure now before the House; that is, the encouragement to slavery that would be given by by the introduction of Brazilian sugar; in regard for their pockets, all consideration for the poor negroes appears to have been forgotten by the parties at this meeting. In his speech last night, the hon. Member for Kilkenny had very properly observed, that the subject of debate, the alteration of the sugar-duties, although the question immediately before the House, was, in fact, only a part of the great question of a general reform of the laws by which our commercial relations with other countries are governed; it is, therefore, impossible, in discussing it, not to notice those most important of all laws that bear upon our commercial and manufacturing interests, the Corn-laws. Before, therefore, I proceed to notice the proposed alteration in the sugar-duties, I will take leave to say a few words on the regulations relating to the importation of corn and their effects; and I am especially induced to do this from the opportunity my official situation, as I shall presently explain to the House, has afforded me of becoming acquainted with them. I will, however, first ask, and I appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Sir C. Burrell), who, I observe is doing me the honour to pay particular attention to what I am now saying, whether those laws have answered the purpose for which they were intended? Have they realised all the hopes that had been held out during the discussion that had preceded their being passed? have prices been moderate and steady? has there been no agricultural distress? no Committee sitting to inquire into it? had the produce of the country been equal to the home consumption, and have we not been obliged to seek a supply from a foreign market to satisfy the wants of the people? If then, I ask, none of these, the promised advantages, had been derived from the Corn-laws, and I confidently assert they have not, what benefits, let me ask, can be enumerated? I will tell the House what have been the disadvantages. The Corn-laws have at times deranged the whole monetary system of the country— they had very nearly on one occasion produced a national bankruptcy. They have driven you to the degrading necessity of doing that which has contributed more 425 than any thing which ever occurred, to damage the credit of a nation, before then standing higher than that of any nation in the world, they obliged you to borrow from the bank of France, to support the credit of the Bank of England. Besides all this they have occasioned that which is still worse— they have made it appear as if there were two parties and two separate interests within the country, that the interests of the agriculturists were at variance with those of the manufacturers. For one I have always felt, and always said, that that these interests are so linked, so interwoven, so dove-tailed together, that the one could not flourish, and the other fade. In 1831 I expressed this opinion in this House, and have never seen reason to depart from it. Now, however, unhappily a feeling, contrary to this, has arisen. On the one hand, it is declared that agriculture can not flourish without the Corn-laws; whilst on the other, it is with equal confidence asserted, that the manufacturers must be ruined unless these laws are repealed. Such a state of things must be destructive of the best interests of the country, and the Ministers were bound, in the discharge of their duty, to endeavour to find a remedy, whether the remedy proposed, that is, a fixed duty of 8s. on wheat, is that which will be found best; I will not pretend to say— but I will say, that any change from a system, advantageous only to speculators and jobbers, and producing such mischievous effects as I have described, must be of infinite advantage to the country at present, in consequence of the Corn-laws, not only labouring under great difficulties, but, I fear I may add, in a position of considerable danger. It is a favorite doctrine with the advocates of the Corn-laws, that the home market is the best market. Supposing it to be so, admitting it to be so, it must still be remembered that the home market is not the only market, that the agriculturists are not the only customers, that nearly, if not fully, one-half of our manufacturing population, is engaged in working for foreign markets— and if, in consequence of the working of the Corn-laws this portion of your people are not allowed to obtain in return for the produce of their industry, for the sweat of their brow, that which will enable them to support their families, it is impossible but that distress, destitution, and starvation must follow. Does this benefit the farmer? must it not, on the other hand, eventually 426 tend to his injury? is it not clear that the distressed families of the manufacturers must at last fall back on the poor-rates? My own conviction is, that so far from the admission of foreign corn doing an injury to the agricultural interests, it will certainly he highly advantageous to them— the effect will be not that of lowering the price in this country, but raising the price elsewhere: the demand from hence will increase the price in the foreign markets, and manufacturers of those countries who are now enabled to undersell us will no longer have it in their power to do so, whilst our own, from the encouragement thus given them, will have the means of consuming a greater quantity of corn, and consequently become better customers in the corn market. I do not say this without having good grounds for the opinion — not without having made some inquiry into the subject. It so happened that two years since, thinking it probable that a large supply of arms might suddenly be required, having learnt that in 1792 a considerable quantity had been obtained from Belgium, I felt it my duty, as the head of the Ordnance department, to visit that country, and ascertain in what quantity and at what price arms could be obtained, if the necessity forgoing to other than our own manufacturers should arise. I was thus afforded an opportunity of seeing what were the effects of the Corn-laws, not only on the particular branch of one manufacture to which I have adverted, but on the manufacturing interests of our country generally, I had an opportunity of conversing with men well qualified to form an opinion. I heard but one opinion, and that was universal condemnation of our existing Corn-laws, an opinion in which I was confirmed by the results of my enquiries into the state of the manufactures in Belgium and in Prussia. In regard to arms, I found the manufacturers fully employed in executing large orders which had been offered to our own manufacturers at Birmingham, but which had been taken by those of Liege at a lower price, than ours could afford to take them at, thus depriving our manufacturers of work which would have produced to them large sums, and the agriculturists of customers with money in their pockets; whilst, as relating to the immediate object of my visit, arms, for furnishing which above 3l. was demanded by the manufacturers of Birmingham, were offered by those of Liege at 2l, 427 On my return to England, it having transpired that I had visited Liege with a view to ascertain the price at which I could procure arms, the gun makers in this country feared I might resort to such a measure— (a measure, I beg to say, to which I never would have resorted, but under circumstances of the most pressing-necessity— for whilst our own laws prevented our own manufacturers competing with those of other countries I would not willingly do them so great an injustice as to go elsewhere). In consequence, however, of this visit, and under such apprehension, I received from Birmingham a letter, signed by nearly all those concerned in the manufacture of arms, in which it was stated that, "if such a measure as obtaining arms from Liege was resorted to, it would inevitably lead to the ruin of thousands,"and adding, "that it was utterly impossible for them (the gunmakers of Birmingham), to compete with foreigners so long as the present. Corn-laws exist, or so long as bread, which is the standard of wages, is by artificial means, forced to maintain a high price." From my own observation, and from my own enquiry, I was confirmed in this opinion; in short, every thing I saw, and everything I heard, convinced me of the truth of what I lately heard a very intelligent friend say, when speaking of the distress in the manufacturing districts, "Whilst our Corn-laws exist, commerce is in chains!"I will now show the House the opinion entertained in another, and as respects our commercial interests, most important country, the United States of America, I hold in my hand a letter, dated Philadelphia, 7th of February, 1841: it is from a gentleman well known to many hon. Members of the House, a gentleman who once had a seat in this House, and who is now her Majesty's Consul at Philadelphia— when I mention his name, many hon. Members who are around me, will, I am confident, agree in feeling, that any opinion falling from such a man, is well worthy of attention— it is Mr. Peter, who was Member for Bodmin. He writes as follows:—I find the Corn-laws operating to our prejudice here, just as they do in every part of the European continent. (Lord Byron says) 'that when a man would do a deed of worth he looks at Greece, then turns to tread, so sanctioned, on the tyrants head. Here as well as in Europe, when a nation would do anything illiberal, it points to the English 428 Corn-laws, and thus throws fresh obstacles in the way of commerce.Such, then is the opinion of one well qualified to give an opinion, such the estimation in which the Corn-laws are held, such the effect produced in America. In conclusion, on this subject, I will lastly advert to an opinion also of some consequence, lately expressed in one of the French Chambers— I refer to the opinion of Count Lanjunais, who said in effect, (for I have not the paper with me to quote from,) that the repeal of the Corn-laws would contribute most materially to the aggrandisement of England, and who cautioned the French to prepare for it. Having now, I fear, already detained the House too long on this subject, I will be as brief as possible in offering a few remarks on that more immediately before the House— the alteration of the sugar duties— I confess I cannot but lament the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, opposed the measure on the grounds set forth in the amendment. I cannot but regret the line of argument that has been resorted to by those who, in conjunction with that noble Lord, have come forward to resist the measure of the Government; nor can I say that the means to which our opponents have resorted, are altogether such as I should have expected from them or such as do them credit. They have endeavoured throughout the country to raise a cry against the Government as proposing a measure, the tendency of which, was to encourage slavery, by such means they had tried, and this to serve a party purpose, to enlist the best feelings of humanity, against the best interests of our manufacturers. I will yield to no man in this House, or in existence, in a detestation and horror of slavery. I well remember that almost the first guinea I ever had to dispose of when a boy at Harrow school, was given in support of an anti-slavery association; from that hour to the present, I have never ceased to entertain the same feelings, and to the end of my days, I shall continue so to do. But it is absurd to say, that the admission of sugar from Brazil is to encourage slavery, and on such grounds to resist it, unless you carry out the principle, and put a stop to all commerce with countries in which there are slaves. It is making a distinction without a difference; it is in fact, splitting hairs, to say that you will not import sugar from Brazil, whilst you import 429 cotton from the Floridas, tobacco from Virginia, and copper ore from Cuba; and no one who gave himself the trouble for one moment to consider the subject could think otherwise. My own opinion is, that so far from an increased intercourse with the Brazils being disadvantageous to the slaves, it will in effect be highly advantageous. We may obtain a power and an influence over the people of that country by the greater intercourse we should thus have with them; whilst by closing the door to such intercourse, telling them they were slaveholders and miscreants, with whom we would have no dealings, we should only drive them to trade with other nations, to the great injury of our own manufactures, and certainly not to the advantage of the blacks. Besides which, are we to be told that free-labour cannot contend with slave-labour? Are we to be told that the proprietor of an estate in the West-Indies, who has been relieved from the charge of the aged and the infirm, the women and the children, and who now has only to pay the able-bodied for work actually done, and who moreover has been benefited by the enormous sum of twenty millions, paid by the nation for the abolition of slavery,— are we now to be told that such proprietor has to fear a contest with the slave-owner? And are the people of this country still to go on paying annually a much higher price for their sugar than is necessary in order to support the possessors of West-India property? I cannot for a moment believe it is necessary, nor could I believe that the people of England will submit to it. It had always been held out, that out of the abolition of slavery, would arise the advantage of cheaper labour, and the proprietors be thus rewarded for any sacrifice they may have made, and I yet hope and trust it will be so. The certain consequence of the introduction of Brazilian sugar into our markets, must be to stimulate to exertion in our own colonies. Competition encourages activity, intelligence, and improvement. Monopoly leads to indolence and apathy— it is against opposition that the most flourishing branches of our commerce., have arisen to their present state of prosperity, and so far from the introduction of foreign sugar being injurious to the interests of our West-India planters, my firm conviction is, that it would tend, for the reasons I have now stated, much to their advantage, and to the advantages also of the labouring 430 population employed in our own islands. I am sorry not to see the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, in his place, as he had in the course of his long, and (as every thing falling from him was) able speech, advanced some arguments in which I can not concur. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) appeared to think that Brazilian sugar could not be introduced into this country, but in substitution for, or displacement of (for displacement was the word the noble Lord used) a quantity in proportion of our own colonial sugar. Such an argument went to the limitation of consumption. I am surprised to find any one possessing so acute and comprehensive a mind as the noble Lord, had fallen into such error. I would tell the noble Lord, were he present, that there is no limit to consumption, and I would refer in proof of this to the fact— that in years when sugar had been cheap, the consumption per head throughout England, as was shewn by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, nearly doubled that of years when the price of sugar had been high. The noble Lord must have observed, that at all times, and under all circumstances, whenever greater facilities have been given to trade and to consumption, the increase had been in proportion. Let the noble look to the great increase in the consumption of coffee since the duty had been lowered— to the increase of travellers since the introduction of railroads— to the increase of letters by post since the reduction of postage, if he wanted evidence of the truth of this principle, which in fact is general, and which I defy any one to controvert. Does not every hon. Member who now hears me know, and will they not admit that the consumption of bread, of coffee, and of sugar, in their establishments, is greater in proportion to the number of mouths, than in the cottage of the agricultural labourer, or the dwelling of the artizan? Give but the labouring class the means of procuring as much as their wants require, and their consumption will be as great as that of the more wealthy, and these means can only be afforded by the extension of trade, and by enabling them freely to exchange the produce of their labours, in order to obtain a supply of the articles, the necessaries and comforts of life for their families. One word more in respect to the introduction of Brazilian sugar displacing a quantity of West-India— a simple and very probable 431 case will shew the fallacy of it. A manufacturer of cotton or hardware has, I will suppose, produced articles sufficient to procure for himself and his family all the necessaries of life— a portion of those articles he has sold, and with the proceeds purchased flour, clothes, and supplied others of his wants— but he still has some of his goods left, and the home-market is glutted; an opportunity is afforded him of exchanging the remaining articles for Brazilian sugar, and he is allowed by the law to do so— will any one say, that by such an arrangement a quantity of West-India sugar is displaced? Is it not clear that the manufacturer is thus enabled to procure that, of which his family must otherwise have been deprived? whilst the Brazilian sugar so introduced is an addition to any other sugar that might have been previously in the market; to which market the manufacturer was prevented going owing to the want of sale for his goods. The noble Lord also adverted to the amount of duty to be taken off, and like many others on that side of the House, had asked what benefit the reduction of Is. 6d. per hundred was to the poorer classes? No doubt the noble Lord was right in saying the amount was but small, as far as respects the actual reduction; but had the noble Lord forgotten that sugar was last year 80s. the hundred, whereas it is now somewhere about 60s. and was the noble Lord really so little conversant with the working of our import duties, and the effects of a greater or smaller quantity of any article being brought into the market as not to see that the benefit to be derived to the poor man was not so much from the actual diminution of the price in consequence of the amount of duty taken off, as from the prevention of that great increase of price, which was the certain consequence of a short supply, and which last year had prevented the poor man from obtaining in his family that which was now something more than a comfort— which was, in fact, almost a necessary of life. The noble Lord had produced a Liverpool Price Current, from which he had read a letter signed by a Whig and a Tory, in which it was stated that when the first ministerial plan was announced, a great panic had been occasioned, but that when it was seen that it would be defeated, calm had been restored. The noble Lord had, in effect, triumphantly exclaimed, "this is 432 the light in which the measures of the Government are viewed by the country, this is the manner in which they are estimated. "The noble Lord deceived himself — the calm was not a calm arising out of reason and common sense (although he called the motion of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, a motion founded in common sense), it is the triumph of monopoly, the victory of the monopolists, it is a victory of which some of those who may now have contributed to gain it, will live to repent. The noble Lord had also in his triumph referred to the late loss of several seats to the liberal party— he spoke of "Borough after borough being seized by his party, and of a Government tottering to its fall."[Cheers.] Does the noble Lord, or in his absence, I will ask, do any of the hon. Members who now cheer, do they approve of the means by which these seats have been obtained? are they prepared to march with their new allies, the Chartists, who, at Nottingham, at least, it is admitted joined their ranks and contributed to the victory? It is possible that the seats now occupied by the friends around me to-night, will, before long, be occupied by the right hon. Baronet and those from the opposite sides. [Cheers.] I understand these cheers, but I would not have hon. Members be too confident. I would recommend them not to cheer too soon, they may yet be disappointed in their expectations. It is possible that the defection in the liberal camp— a defection which, in one instance, at least, arose out of a feeling, a mistaken one, that could not but be respected, however it was to be lamented; it is, I say, possible that from such causes that change, to which hon. Members opposite so anxiously look, may take place; but whenever this does happen, I will venture to tell them, the measures proposed by her Majesty's Ministers, or others of a similar description, and such as will produce the same effects, must be propounded. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) who, when the necessity arose had never been backward in adopting that which was expedient, even although at other times the measure may have been opposed by him (and he not one to blame the right hon. Baronet for so acting) will be found coming down to the House and proposing, and those around him supporting, measures similar to those to which they now objected. It could not possibly be otherwise, A re- 433 vision of the tariff and a reduction of the import duties can not much longer be postponed. This great question which involves the prosperity, and I may add, tranquility of the country cannot be staved off— truth must prevail— liberal principles must predominate— their advocates must conquer— party spirit may for a time stand in the way, but party spirit is but as a feather in the scale when weighed against the best interests of the people of the greatest commercial nation in the world. England abounding in her mineral productions, surpassing in the intelligence of her population, foremost in the skill of her citizens and in the application of machinery— distinguished for the wealth and enterprise of her merchants, is the last country on the face of the globe that should object to the most perfect freedom of trade, and should be the first to teach others, that in the extension of it, is to be found the true source of commercial greatness, national prosperity, and political power; the best security for peace at home and peace abroad.
§ Sir Charles Douglas
said, that on that, the sixth night of this protracted debate, he should not venture to address the House, well knowing how many there were, on both sides, whose practical knowledge and experience would ensure that attention which he could only hope to gain from its kind indulgence; indeed, he felt it would be very presumptuous on his part to rise at all, if he intended to enter at large into the general question, after the powerful, argumentative, and convincing speech of his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, two nights before; a speech which he had a right to designate as perfectly unanswerable. For, not only had the Government allowed that speech to close that evening's debate, but had allowed two nights to pass without making any attempt to reply to it, excepting to one point to which the right hon. and gallant Officer, had alluded, and which on reflection he (Sir C. Douglas) was sure the gallant Gentleman, would think he had better have let alone. It was true that he had on a former occasion referred to the committee on Import duties, which sat last year of which he was a Member. When some observations which had been made by a noble Lord (Ashburton), in another place were brought under discussion. With respect to the expressions used by that noble Lord, it was not for him (Sir 434 C. Douglas), to say, any thing, for it would ill become him to defend one whose high character, liberal feelings and practical knowledge of commercial affairs rendered him an authority on such subjects; but he must say, that with regard to the opinion which that noble Lord had given, he (Sir C. Douglas) entirely agreed, for it was the only opinion to which any one with the noble Lords' knowledge, and experience, could come who had attentively read the evidence taken before that committee. But as the attention of Parliament and the country had been called to its report and proceedings, he felt it to be his duty, to notice it on the present occasion. He held in his hand a copy of a petition, from the merchants and manufacturers of Ashton-under-Line, and a report from the Chamber of Commerce, at Manchester, by which he found that they considered the evidence taken before that committee as "valuable and extraordinary," and they stated it to be.Evidence the more important, as it is in a great measure not that of individuals whose own interests arc in question, and liable, therefore, to be warped by their judgment, but the evidence of men placed in official situations, and giving their calm and deliberate opinions.Now, he was willing to admit the intelligence and ability of those gentlemen, especially of Messrs. Deacon Hume, M'Gregor, and Porter, whose opinions were worthy of consideration, though by their evidence they directly contradicted each other. But while he admitted its value, and also its extraordinary character, he must deny that as evidence it was either fair or impartial. On the contrary, he could not conceive anything more unfit for the foundation of legislation than the evidence of men in official situations, who were naturally most anxious to state those facts only, which would support their preconceived opinions; opinions which were of no more value than those of any other intelligent private individuals. He had stated on a former evening that the report of that committee, and the evidence taken before it, was calculated to give an unfair, because a partial, view of the case; and he would not now weary the House by repeating the grounds of that statement. An analysis had been circulated through the country, which, however correct, as far as it went, omitted much that was important, and affected to show indirectly 435 that the committee had been unanimous, and he thought that so far it was most insidious and unfair. It ought at least to have given the amendment which he had moved in the committee, to the effect that the evidence was valuable, but at the same time so partial and limited, that they could only venture to report the evidence and recommend the re-appointment of a committee this Session to continue the investigation. It was true he was in a minority of two to five— but the committee, though appointed on the 8th of May, was composed of nine gentleman from the Government or Anti-Corn-Law party, and only six from his, (the Opposition,) side of the House; of those six, only two, himself and his hon. Friend, the Member for Whitby, had been able to attend, for the committee did not meet for two months, viz,, not till the 6th of July, and it was too much to expect that Members whose residence was not in London, should remain in town to enter on the labour of a committee at that late period of the Session. It would be said, the committee did not meet sooner because the hon. Member for Kilkenny, was engaged in the banking committee— but was that any excuse for the hurry and partiality with which this important committee had been conducted? They met on the 6th of July, sat fourteen days, examined twenty-nine witnesses, and reported on the 6th of August, after resisting his amendment, which in effect only asked for further evidence on so important a subject; but impartiality would not have answered the purpose. The witnesses, and the majority understood each other, and when he proposed to call a gentleman connected with the Iron trade, after Sir John Guest had given his evidence, he was told "Oh ! yes, bring your friend," but then he found that every day was pre-engaged by witnesses who came ready primed to give answers in accordance with the views of the majority of the committee; and thus practically they refused all other evidence. So much for the fairness of the constitution, and for the liberality and impartiality of the proceedings which prevailed in the Committee selected to enquire into the Import duties! Now with reference to the question of sugar, as regarded slavery and the slave-trade, it had been urged as a matter of reproach against the party with which he had the honour to act, that the course which was now proposed 436 by the amendment of his noble Friend, the Member for Liverpool, was a new course taken up for party purposes, and it was said, that they had for years encouraged slavery, and now, for the first time, set themselves up as its opponents. He presumed that taunt was not meant to apply to those who formely acted with Gentlemen opposite, but to that great party called Tory or Conservative, of which he presumed Lord Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington would be admitted to have been the representatives; and he (Sir C. Douglas) was prepared to prove, by indisputable testimony, namely, by reference to State papers, that the course which, as a party, Gentlemen on his side of the House had always taken, was exactly that they took now, in opposition to the encouragement of slavery now proposed by her Majesty's Ministers. In the years 1814 and 1815, previous to, and at the Congress of Vienna, the subject had been mooted, and instructions given from Lord Liverpool's Government to negotiate with foreign powers, for the purpose of putting an end to slavery and the slave-trade, by entering into treaties to bind each other to do the reverse of that which was now proposed by her Majesty's Government, namely, to prohibit the importation of colonial slave-labour produce. He would make one or two quotations. The first was from a letter of Lord Castlereagh to the Duke of Wellington, dated Foreign-Office, 6th of August, 1814:—We must be prepared for a reluctance on the part of certain Powers to adopt the limited measure, (abolition of slavery at the end of five years) and it becomes necessary to consider how the interest of those Powers may be made to operate in support of their duties; how they can be deprived of the unjust advantage of profiting by the sacrifices and forbearance of other States, which, from a sense of moral duty, forsake this species of commerce. Nothing seems more likely to have this effect than for the Powers, acting in concert to prohibit the importation, into their respective dominions, of colonial produce, grown within the territories of Powers refusing to enter into the proposed concert.And in a letter from Lord Castlereagh to Lord Bathurst, dated Geneva, 3rd September, 1814:—I have only to observe, that I opened to the Prince of Benevento the idea of a concurrent system for repressing the slave-trade, and a league against the import of colonial produce, grown by states dissentient from the general policy.437 Now, it would be said, that all this ended in no practical good. As far as the other parties were concerned that was true; but our endeavours were good— they were the same then as our object now. As a party we acted then, as at present, represented by Lord Castlereagh, Lord Bathurst, and the Duke of Wellington; and he used these records to show, that those statesmen even then did all in their power to extinguish slavery and the slave-trade, by refusing to agree to any such scheme as that which her Majesty's Government had now propounded, he must quote one more document from the state papers. It was a letter from Lord Castlereagh to Earl Bathurst, dated Vienna, the 2nd of January, 1815, and had reference to the intervention with Russia on the same subject. Lord Castlereagh said:—The Emperor listened with much attention to every part of my statement, and particularly to tins hi which I endeavoured to show, that upon reasonable notice, the Powers of Europe would not only be justified, but bound in morality and sincerity, to exclude from their ports colonial produce grown within the dominions of states which refused to adopt the principle of abolition. That to do so must at once be effectual; and to do less was to make themselves parties, in breach of their promises, to the crimes and scandal to which their demand for colonial produce gave occasion, and which they ought preferably to supply from those countries where the culture was not carried on by newly-imported slaves.He thought he had now made out a case which must put an end to the attack made upon his side by Gentlemen opposite, that it was only on the present critical moment they had sprung up to give an opposition to slavery and the slave-trade, and had refused to join in any measure which could give encouragement to slavery. On the question of the sugar-duties, it would not become him to enter after the unanswered, because unanswerable, speech of his noble Friend, Lord Stanley. The conduct of the Government on this question confirmed his opinion as to the insincerity of their purpose, and the satisfaction he felt in every vote he had given against them. Was this a question of finance or of national policy? If the former, why did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer bring it forward and give to the House the data on which he made his speculations? If it were the latter, of course it could not have been contingent on the late majorities of 438 eleven and twenty-one against Ministers, but must, have been long contemplated, and ought to have been well considered, and they were bound, in fairness to their opponents, and in justice to their friends, and to their people, to have announced their intentions in a speech from the Throne upon the subject, as one of national policy and vital importance. This they should have done, even considering what was due to themselves, for his own part he did not think the general plan had been so long in contemplation. The proposition emanated from that unconstitutional tenacity of office for which her Majesty's Ministers were proverbial. They never had the confidence of the House of Lords; they had lost that of the Commons, and only retained that of the Crown, by deceiving her Majesty, as to the true feelings and opinions of the people. They dared not appeal to the country, unless they could first create such excitement by raising delusive hopes as to make it impossible for any party to govern in safety and hence the Budget of the Government. If this were not a proof of an unconstitutional tenacity of office, he knew not what was. He maintained, that her Majesty's Ministers had deceived the country, with regard to their promises of peace, retrenchment, and reform. He had always advocated, on safe principles, those great ends, and always would. The Government, while they had a majority in that House, brought forward no practical measures of reform, and had made no retrenchment, but, on the contrary, had increased the expenditure of the country; but when they had lost the confidence of the House, then they made a proposition they could not carry; for no object whatever, but to deceive the people and create excitement. As to peace, we were at war in India and China, and no one could foretel the limit of the expense. He knew no party in the country would believe their professions. Upon what could any one have made more solemn assertions as to principle, than, they had upon the appropriation of Church property, a principle they asserted to obtain office, which they deserted to retain office? and so again would they abandon these or any other views, as occasion might suit them: and after such conduct, no man would believe their sincerity with respect to corn, timber, or sugar. He was glad to see the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), for he would not say that be- 439 hind a man's back which he would not say to his face. He did not wish to apply what he was about to quote to any one personally, but to the Government as a body. Mr. Fox had once said, "He must be an infamous man who on coming into place could abandon the professions he had made when out of place." How that quotation would apply to the Government, he would leave it to the country to judge.
§ Sir Henry Parnell
denied that any kind of improper influence had been used to obtain credit for the Report on Import Duties. The description of the witnesses which had been found fault with by the hon. Member, who had just sat down, was perfectly correct. No witness could have been more free from motives to give partial and interested evidence than Mr. M'Gregor, Mr. Deacon Hume, and Mr. Porter,— they were not merchants, nor landlords, nor theorists in matters of political economy, and it was because they were witnesses, in every respect, so unexceptionable, their evidence had produced so great an effect throughout the country. As to the evidence being of a party character, the hon. Member should have remembered, that Mr. Deacon Hume had been thirty years in office under a Tory Government. What, in point of fact, had made the Report on Import Duties a document of such vast and universal influence in leading public opinion to a right judgment on the effects of protecting and differential duties, was its own intrinsic merits. The facts contained in it were so clearly set forth, and so amply supported by experience, that the conclusions they led to, were, at the same time, quite easy of comprehension and wholly irresistible. These facts, when brought forward by unbiased witnesses, and applied in detail to all the circumstances by which the price of commodities are increased, produced a conviction which other persons had failed to produce. It had frequently been attempted in this House and out of this House, to show how many millions a-year the public paid in consequence of protecting duties; but the reasoning necessary to be employed to establish this case being unavoidably abstruse and difficult to be made intelligible, the public went on paying these millions in ignorance of the cause which made them so much out of pocket. What, therefore, the report has chiefly effected; and whatever has made it take such hold on the mind of the nation, is the explanation it afforded of the operation of every protecting duty to raise 440 price, and of the immense amount of indirect taxation which the system of protecting duties has imposed on the people. These protecting duties affect almost all prices. There are no less than eighty-four articles of colonial produce subject to differential and protecting duties, including sugar, coffee, timber, &c.; besides these, every production of land is protected, it is not only corn, but meat, butter, cheese, hops, malt, bacon, vegetables, seeds, &c.— every thing that the land grows. There are also several of our manufactures still enhanced in price by protection, so that, when it is considered what vast quantities of these various articles are consumed in the United Kingdom, it is evident that the amount of indirect taxation imposed by the protecting duties must be immensely large. The hon. Baronet has said, he did not see any reason to doubt the correctness of the statements of Mr. M'Gregor and Mr. Deacon Hume, that the sum taken out of the pockets of the public by indirect taxation (none of which went into the Treasury, but all to the pockets of the protected classes) was equal to the whole direct taxation which was paid into the Exchequer, that is, to fifty millions a-year. Those statements had now been before the public for several months, but none has ever come forward to contradict them,- or even to question their correctness. They cannot, in point of fact, be contradicted; and, therefore, the effect of the system of protecting duties is established to be the making of the public pay fifty millions a-year more for what they have occasion to buy than they would pay if no protecting duties were in existence. But, if the protecting duties were abolished, then the public would have fifty millions a-year more to spend in purchasing additional comforts and luxuries than they are now able to spend in this way; and if the operation of such an increased expenditure is traced out, it will then be seen how the abolishing of the protective duties will improve the revenue, promote commerce, and remove the distress of the industrious classes. Of these fifty millions, which the public would have more than it now has to spend, a large portion would be spent on articles subject to taxation, and in this way the revenue augmented. That some millions a-year would be added to the revenue by abolishing the protecting duties, is fully proved by the evidence given before the Committee. Again, as to commerce and manufactures, a great portion of these fifty 441 millions would be spent in buying the products of commerce and manufactures. Trade of every kind, and manufacturers of every description, would be encouraged and extended, while the increased employment of labour, which would be the consequence, would relieve the industrious classes from the distress which they now suffer; so that it is evident that, if the measures proposed by Government were adopted by the House, they would greatly contribute, by removing the direct taxation which arises from the differential and protective duties, to secure the three objects of the amendment of the noble Lord, the Secretary of the Colonies, namely— to restore our falling revenue, to extend our crippled commerce, and to remove the distress of the industrious classes. With respect to the question more immediately under the consideration of the House, that is, the proposed reduction in the duties on foreign sugar, a very unfair representation has been made of this proposed reduction. It has been assumed, that it will admit an unlimited quantity of foreign sugar into the market, and thus ruin our sugar colonies; whereas, in point of fact, what is proposed is only the changing of our prohibitory duty into another prohibitory duty. The one, namely— the existing duty, is merely a complete prohibition of the importation of foreign sugar; while the proposed duly will be a prohibitory duty when prices are low; and will admit sugar only when prices become excessively high. Now, if the statements are correct that have been made respecting the supply of sugar that will be provided by our own colonies in this or future years, then the prices will be so low that there cannot be any importation under the proposed new duty, and consequently it will not be attended with any injurious effect to the interests of our sugar colonies. But the proper way of discussing and considering the question of what should be the duty on foreign sugar, should be with reference to the means of our colonies to carry out competition with foreign sugar. It seems to be supposed, that foreigners have advantages which afford no hope of a successful competition with them; but this is not the case, for the means of carrying on competition may be greatly extended, hon. Members had wholly lost sight in the course of the debate of the bill that has been introduced by the President of the Board of Trade, and is now before the House for reducing the duties on imports into the colonies. This reduction of' duties will 442 afford great benefits to the manufacturers of sugar— it will diminish the prices of flour and provisions of all descriptions, and the price of timber, and various other articles which are necessary for making sugar, and in this way the cost of making sugar will be greatly diminished, and the power of carrying out competition increased. This measure is in fact a full compensation to the colonies for the proposed reduction of the duty on foreign sugar. About fourteen or fifteen years ago those Members of the House who were connected with the West Indies, were very loud in complaining of the injury which the sugar makers sustained, and other interests from the high duties on imports into the colonies, and from the system of restrictions under which the trade of the colonies was placed. Returns were called for by which it was attempted to be made to appear, by showing the prices of food, timber, and other things, in foreign countries, that these duties and restrictions added 70 per cent, to the cost of making sugar; and persons of the highest authority in West Indian affairs went so far as to say, that they would willingly give up the monopoly of the English market if all these restrictions were removed. As to the importance which about that time the planters attached to these restrictions, the evidence given before the committee of finance, of 1828, by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, may be referred to. At that time the noble Lord filled the office of Secretary at War, and when under examination by the committee regarding the expense incurred by the army kept up in the colonies, stated, that he had frequently applied to the various governments of the colonies to contribute towards the expense of paying the army, but that the answer he received from them was "We would very readily contribute a large portion of the expense, provided the restrictions on our trade were taken off, but that so long as those restrictions are continued we are not able to give the least assistance. It may be said, the bill of the President of the Board of Trade does not go far enough in the way of reducing duties on imports into the colonies. This maybe true; but if the colonists will, on their part, meet further reductions as they ought to do, by giving up their monopoly, there can be no good reason for not taking off all the restrictions on the trade of the colonies. They should be allowed to send their productions direct to foreign countries, to purchase all kinds of foreign productions free of duty, and even to em- 443 ploy foreign ships. The trade of the colonies should be rendered perfectly free; and if that were so, no British interests would suffer; for the colonies would find it to their advantage to use British productions and to employ British ships. If, however, all restrictions were taken off, the whole of the grounds would he removed on which the colonies could claim to have any longer the monopoly of the British market; for, according to the original arrangement by which this monopoly was established, the monopoly of the markets of the colonies was considered a sufficient compensation, giving the colonies the monopoly of the British market, and the highest West Indian authorities may be referred to, in order to show that if the mother country abandoned the monopoly of the colonial markets, the colonies could no longer claim any just right to enjoy the monopoly of the market of the mother country. This doctrine has been explicitly laid down by Lord Sheffield, in one of his publications in defence of the rights of the colonies, and no one can be referred to of higher authority in anything where the interests of the West Indies were concerned. He says—The British dominion are as much en-tilled to the monopoly of the markets of the British West Indies, as the latter are entitled to those of the former, and whenever that monopoly is given up, it will be the highest absurdity not to open all the British port to foreign raw sugar.The true policy therefore, to pursue with regard to the sugar duties and all other duties on colonial productions, is to take a bold course, and at once abolish all restrictions on the colonial trade, and to connect with this measure such a gradual reduction of the protecting duties on colonial productions as would get rid in time of all monopoly, and give the public the advantage of obtaining all colonial productions at the lowest possible prices. The hon. Baronet proceeded to say, that there were other ways of increasing the means of the colonies to carry on competition with foreign sugar, one of them was, the proper extension and management of free labour. It was commonly taken for granted, that slave-labour in itself gave the employer of it an advantage over the employer of free labour, but the fact was, that the advantage that the employers of slave labour had, arose from their being free of all restrictions and taxes in obtaining the food they wanted for their slaves, and the materials they wanted for making sugar. If the colonies were relieved 444 from such restrictions, then free labour would be placed on an equal footing with slave labour, and then all the advantages of free labour would soon show themselves in favour of our colonies. They would in point of fact be able to sell sugar cheaper than the employer of slave-labour could sell it, and in course of time the superiority of free labour would become so great over slave labour that those countries which now employed slave labour, would be obliged to employ free labour. Now, as the reduction of the duty on foreign sugar would, no doubt, excite greater energy in our colonies to improve the fabrication of sugar, and to diminish the cost of making sugar, it would seem that the best course to take for getting rid of slave labour would be by reducing the duty on foreign sugar, and consequently that such a proceeding ought not to be held out, as it has been a cause of extending and establishing slave labour. That the reduction of the duty on foreign sugar, would have the effect of improving the processes of making sugar in our colonies, and of reducing the price of it, there can be no doubt, for the effect of protection is to stop all invention and improvement. This has always been the case with regard to everything that has been protected. Before Mr. Huskisson took off the prohibition of the importation of foreign silks, the same machinery continued in use which had been introduced a hundred years before, when the silk manufacturer was first established. As Mr. Porter says in his evidence, protection sets every one asleep, and it is only owing to the protection our colonies possess, that the fact has occurred of the proposal of making sugar in the island of Cuba, being superior to those in our colonies. If all that has been suggested with regard to removing the restriction on the trade of the colonies, the extension and management of free labour, and the exciting of the colonies to increased exertions in improving the making of sugar were accomplished, there then would exist no grounds to apprehend that our colonies would be unable successfully to carry on competition in all foreign markets, with every country that produced sugar, and their prosperity would be placed on a sure and lasting foundation. With regard to the corn question, the hon. Baronet said, he had so often given his opinions to the House on this subject, that he would not then say more upon it than express his regret that landowners did not take the trouble of obtaining accurate information 445 respecting the price at which foreign corn could be imported into this country; for he felt sure, that if they were to do so, they would see reason to abandon all apprehension of a reduction of rents under the protection of a duty of 8s. a quarter for wheat. Although a friend to the total repeal of the Corn-laws, he wished to see a fixed duty laid on sooner than to see the present sliding scale of duty continued. He hoped the disposition which seemed to prevail among the landed interest last year in favour of a fixed duty would be restored, for if some change did not take place in the laws, it was quite certain that every bad harvest would hereafter be followed by the same universal convulsion that occurred after the harvest of 1828. The same sudden importation of increased quantities of corn would take place, the same sudden exportation of bullion to pay for it, and the same derangement of the currency of trade; and, with these evils, the severe distress of the industrious clasees, which the country had been exposed to during the last three years.
§ Sir Eardley Wilmot
said, that he had been anxious to have followed the hon. Member for Lincoln on the previous evening, because he had been much surprised to hear him announce his intention of voting against the amendment; more particularly, because, when he had the honour of making a motion two years ago for the extinction of the apprenticeship clause, that hon. Gentleman had made a most brilliant and effective speech in his support which no Gentleman had thought proper to answer, and upon a division, the motion was carried by ninety-six to ninety-three. Not only that, but the hon. Gentleman attended, immediately after the division, a meeting of the Anti-slavery Committee in Palace-yard, and again made a second speech, which was rapturously received. For his part, he thought that the distress and difficulty of the West-Indian interest was entirely occasioned by the proprietors themselves, by their obstinate opposition to the abolition of slavery, and to their unchristian conduct during the apprenticeship. To them he would not shew the slightest favour; but if he would not show them favour he would not deny them justice. He would grant that to any man — the lowest of mankind, or the bitterest of enemies; and therefore, as they had, since the abolition of slavery, endeavoured to redeem their former conduct by their present exertions, to better 446 the condition of the blacks, and were making efforts to produce a sufficient supply of sugar by free labour, he thought it most unjust to them, as well as to the East Indies, to weaken or destroy their interests. In another point of view, however, to him the greatest and most convincing, he considered the intended proposal of the Government to be the means of introducing slave-grown sugar into this country; and nothing, therefore, should induce him to assist any measure which would effect such a detestable object. As to the question of corn and timber, he should say nothing now. Cut when Gentlemen talked of the time being come for these alterations, it was saving this:— "So long as our supporters only mutiny, and continue to vote for us, the time is not come; but when they not only mutiny but desert, then the time is come, to agitate the people, and endeavour to send them en masse to support us."
§ Mr. Fitzharding Berkeley,
after assuring the House that he felt the full value of their time, in that protracted state of the debate, and would not trespass upon it at any length, expressed his entire concurrence in the principle on which the budget was founded— that principle being the increase of the revenue by reducing the actual burden of taxation upon the people. He rejoiced at the declared intention of Ministers to revise the Corn-laws, and he was certain that that intention would be received among his constituents, as well as throughout the whole country, with the greatest satisfaction. Great commercial and manufacturing cities, in particular, were deeply interested in that question; for that odious tax— that tax upon bread— was a palsy upon honest industry, and a greivous evil to the working classes. He could not but applaud the policy which prompted Ministers to draw closer the commercial ties between England and the Brazils. As regarded the cry raised against Ministers respecting the slave-trade, he considered that it had no validity in it, for he felt certain that a close treaty and extended commercial connexion between England and the Brazils, would be far more likely to produce the extinction of the slave-trade than armed intervention; for that had hitherto, without materially reducing the traffic in skives, decidedly added to the horrors inflicted on the unfortunate captives. That, however, he 447 might not be misunderstood in the vote he was about to give, he had stated these his sentiments as regarded the principle of the budget, and the declarations of Ministers. But, at the same time, he could not conceal from himself that we were now trying the issue of a great experiment in the West Indies. It was not too much to say, that upon the result of that issue depended the question of the liberty or slavery of the African race all over the world. This country had struggled for the abolition of slavery for many years; we had obtained the boon; we were taunted by the whole slave-holding world that we were only seeking a chimerical good— an impracticable object. Our success in carrying out the abolition of slavery in our own colonies would be the decisive refutation of that opinion; but could we insure success without granting a larger extension of time to the West-India planters before we called upon them to compete with the slave-labour of Cuba and the Brazils? He sincerely believed not. If the experiment failed, the African race would be in a worse condition than they were before, and America, whom he taunted with its slave-holding propensities, might taunt us in return for our failure and our folly. He did not for a moment venture to assert that this term of probation should be extended for any great length of time, for he felt that the time was fast advancing when the principles of free trade must be everywhere recognised; but at the present moment he felt that that time was not come when the West-India proprietors should be called upon to compete, in the infancy of their free institutions, with slave-labour. There had been a time when the West-India proprietors deemed that the cause of humanity was incompatible with their interests; that day had passed away, and he could now advocate their cause without sacrificing his principles. He and his hon. Colleague had the honour of representing one-sixth of the West-India interest. Had he represented the whole of that interest, he never would have allowed that to weigh with him for one moment in his advocacy of the abolition of slavery. He was now most anxious to see that great experiment successfully carried out; and he thought that the best means of rendering it successful was by supporting the resolution of the noble Lord.
§ Mr. J. Parker
regretted, that his hon. Friend, the Member for Warwickshire, as a distinguished philanthropist, had not exercised a little more of that charity in which, for more distant objects, his nature so much abounded, in judging of the motives which had induced the Queen's Government to lay their present propositions before the House. If his hon. Friend would give their conduct a somewhat more impartial consideration, he would find ample reasons, in the existing state of the commerce and the finances of the country, for the course they had adopted, and would, he was sure, not have concluded with the imputation of motives so discreditable and disingenuous as those in which he was most sorry to see his hon. Friend had too wantonly indulged. His right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at a period of great commercial depression and considerable financial difficulty, had either to propose new taxes, or to avail himself of the principles developed in the Committee on Import Duties, which, at the same time that they would give a stimulus to our manufacturing interests, would replenish the Exchequer, without adding to,— but, on the contrary, with an alleviation of the burthens of the people. Now, in regard to one of the articles on which a reduction of duties was proposed— viz. the subject matter of the present debate— he regretted to find, that the exciting question of slavery had been brought to bear upon the good feelings and passions of the public. He, for one, yielded to none in his detestation of the slave-trade, and of slavery; and at a period when hon. Gentlemen opposite, and those who preceded them on those benches in the advocacy of Tory politics, were not over strenuous in their assistance, the party to which he was attached had achieved this proudest conquest of humanity, and in pursuance of the great principles which characterized the policy of Mr. Fox, and had continued the cardinal point of action with the party down to the administration of Earl Grey, would continue faithful to the end, and would continue to watch over the happiness, and new-born liberty of the negro population. But he was bound also to advocate the relaxation of commercial imposts, and to give, so far as he could by legislation, a wider base and a more extended action to our commerce. He was bound to watch with equal solicitude over the comforts and the happiness of our own population; and in the action of an humanity not less extended 449 and not less wise than that of Gentlemen opposite, he was bound to take care, that, in devotedness to the negro cause, he inflicted no unnecessary injury, and attached no needless burthens on our countrymen. Hon. Members should recollect that they had a population at home which demanded their anxious care— that they had constituents who were deeply interested in trade and commerce, and who called in tones of impatience for a change in our commercial system. [Ironical Cheers."] Yes, he had constituents, and he would stand up for them in that House, whether electors or non-electors, whether directly armed by the constitution with the power of influencing that assembly, or excluded from direct representation. He would disregard the potent cheers of the hon. Member for Surry, and state his determination to procure for his constituents, so far as he was able, cheap bread, cheap sugar, and cheap timber, and to vindicate, for their good and the general good of all, the great principles of commercial freedom, so far as those objects could be combined with safety to the national faith, and with advantage to the revenue. He believed, that the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was admirably constructed for those purposes. They might be defeated on the division; he cared not whether they won or lost; but the principles of the budget would go deep into the heart and understanding of the nation, and he no more doubted its eventual success than he did the uprising of to-morrow's sun. The party to which he was attached would continue to advance the cause of commercial freedom. They would labour in it as they had done in other causes for the good of the people of England. They would triumph in it, as they had done against other monopolies in state and trade. It would be found that their opinions would be adhered to with constancy on which side so ever of the House they might hereafter sit; and the hon. Member for Newark would discover, that though in the eye of his superior wisdom, and less fallible mind, their conduct might savour of what he called "judicial blindness or infatuation;" yet, that he would not see amongst the noble and right hon. Friends with whom he (Mr. Parker) acted, any such instances of "laxity of principle," as might be-found in the recent history of the other side of the House in many matters of great moment; and, unless he was greatly deceived, would be found again at no distant period, if the right hon. Baronet, the 450 Member for Tamworth, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, was destined to produce a Budget to the House of Commons; and had to choose between the sound principles of his right hon. Friend, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the imposition of new taxes on the country. The budget rested on two necessities— the want of money for our Exchequer— the want of employment for our people. His right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, might well be congratulated that his remedy for both was one and the same, and that instead of raising money at the expense of trade, and hazarding operations which would necessarily pull different ways, the present scheme acted with a confluence of advantage on both these objects, and whilst it was made as clear to his mind as demonstration, that it would give the chances and the beginnings of an indefinite extension to our trade, would also, by the calculations of the most able authorities of the empire, supply the national purse with adequate resources. Now what was the state of trade? Had Government exaggerated the condition of the working population, or found, in over-statements of the present depression in the north of England, arguments more plausible than sound for their proposed remedies. For his part he could state, that he never remembered his own constituents, or the great manufacturing community with which he was connected, in so prostrate a condition of despondency and distress. He could state, that throughout the West Riding of the county of York, a similar condition of things prevailed. He had no sources of information over and above that which hon. Members enjoyed from communication with their constituents. But he would state to the House, that he had conversed within a short time with an old friend of his, well known to many Members around him, Mr. Francis Mande, of Wakefield, a gentleman, who for fifty years, or not much less, had practised as a Commissioner of Bankrupts in the West Riding; and that gentleman had assured him, without any reference to the present debate, that he never remembered a state of trade and commerce so distressing to the parties engaged in it, or a time when the humbler classes were suffering equal privations and adversity. In short, the universal opinion was, that something must be done by Government and that House, to relax the fetters which bound down the energies of the country. It would not do to exclaim with the right hon. Member for 451 the university of Cambridge, "Let things alone." That was a sentiment worthy of a Legislator if no fetters existed; but in the present state of things, "to let trade alone," was to say that it shall be sacrificed to the monopolies under which the few were flourishing, but the many were distressed. In such a state of things no paternal Government could stand idle. It was not consistent with their duty to let these fetters alone— on the contrary, the condition of things he had described, super-added to the wants of the revenue, was the best recommendation of the measures supported by his noble Friends around him, and which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had introduced from a paramount sense of duty, and not from the too sordid and discreditable motives attributed to her Majesty's Government by the Member for Warwickshire. He, for one, considered, that for the reasons on which their Budget was based, the real philanthropy was on the side of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He believed, too, that the country was of the same opinion. Was it not true, that the anti-slavery movement was a failure? The Liverpool society had repudiated the motion of the noble Member for Liverpool — the Manchester society had discovered him— the Wakefield society had done the same, and even in the vast assembly of Exeter Hall itself, he had heard, that on this very day symptoms of insubordinate humanity had exhibited themselves, and that the good sense of the meeting under the guidance of gentlemen who had served in the Anti-slavery cause, somewhat longer than the noble Lord, had risen in refractory protestation against the hasty and ill-advised attempts to assist Toryism under the sacred and holy name of negro emancipation. But without following up the course of reasoning, by which the arguments of the noble Lord in this part of the question, have been annihilated, he would remind the House that on various occasions the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam worth, had urged most strongly upon Government the policy of reducing the duties upon raw cotton. Many a time and oft, in every budget for several years, had the right hon. Baronet urged this point; last year, he believed, no less assiduously than formerly; yet he never found the noble Lord protesting against this too secular advice. True it is, that cheaper imposts would attract more cotton — that more cotton would employ more slaves, that the requirement of more slaves would give an impetus to the breeding 452 grounds of the Southern States of North America— and that every pound by which we increased our imports of that commodity would pro tanto give strength and fresh incitements to the abominable system of those provinces; but the noble Lord was as silent as the grave— he remembered the sublunary interests of Liverpool. The extension of its trade, the manifest advantages which would accrue to that vast emporium from the reduction of these duties, overwhelmed the sublime consideration which actuated his mind in this debate, and the noble Lord did not make an Anti-slavery protest against the secular recommendation of the right hon. Baronet. He seldom addressed the House, and was always more pleased to hear the great principles to which he was attached vindicated by his Friends around him, than to take a prominent part in their debates— but he remembered when last year, under the influence which he owed to his constituents, he took a very humble part in the discussion of the corn laws— he was reprimanded by the right hon. Baronet for stating his full conviction that the time was come when Parliament ought to consider this great subject with a view to its settlement— and that it became Gentlemen on all sides of the House to remove from agitation and acerbity so vital and so dangerous a controversy. He was told, that such a sentiment was in mutiny against his Friends, and that he, an humble member of her Majesty's Government, was virtually pronouncing a condemnation against the Cabinet under which he was proud to serve. Now, if that was true then, it was true no longer; but the right hon. Baronet might see in the union and decision of the Cabinet the best prospect of bringing at length this most exciting subject to a rational adjustment, with the co-operation of the great interests, falsely considered in hostility, and to the manifest, and incontestable good of the community. He believed, that her Majesty's Government had these great objects in view; and he was convinced that they had pursued the proper course. It was necessary to enlarge our range of commercial action, to open new markets, and to endeavour to recover old ones. This could only be done by arming the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with power to negociate with other states. With what ability and energy the noble Lord near him would use such power, the House well knew, and could appreciate. Did he stand in any other situation, he would state the advantages which the great 453 experience of that noble Lord would ensure for his commercial countrymen; but the more they enabled that noble Lord to say to other countries, "we will reciprocate our respective advantages whether derived from nature or from art"— the more they enabled him to say to Prussia and to Germany; "We will take your timber and your corn;" to the United States;— "We will take on more liberal terms the bread-stuffs, and produce of your soil;" to the Brazils— "we will take your sugar and your coffee"— the more the noble Lord could impress upon foreign states, the idea that we were a people whose Custom-house was not hermetically sealed against everything which we could produce ourselves: that we wished on fair and rational terms of reciprocity, to trade with the whole world; that whilst we wished to sell, we were not unwilling to buy— the more they enabled him to hold this language, and to carry out into his diplomacy, the liberal principles in trade and commerce, which from our vast natural and acquired advantages, it was our manifest interest to inculcate, and which from our extended connexions over the whole globe, must bring to us the wealth and riches of all the kingdoms of the earth— the more they instructed the noble Lord to take this course, the more our foreign diplomacy would become distinguished; and great and successful as it already was, would make England not only the workshop, but more than ever the admiration of the world. [Ironical cheers.] He understood the cheers of hon. Members opposite. He regretted to see an anti-commercial spirit on those benches; he would rather have inferred that they had profited by the advice of the right hon. Member for Tam-worth; and learnt from his speech of last year, that manufactures and commerce are the principal sources of agricultural prosperity. For his part, he would rather see gentlemen contending with emulous rivalry to augment their trade and commerce, and the manufacturing interest would then see with pleasure any further addition of landed prosperity. This was a contest into which, if rightly understood, they could safely enter, for the course which enriches one, will not impair the other interest. We ask to be enriched, and to enrich you also. We ask you to suffer your own resources to be augmented by the augmentation of ours. We ask for a portion of that light, which we wish to borrow from the same lamp of national prosperity; and which, whilst it gives us illumination and 454 comfort, does not add a particle of obscurity to you. This might be a selfish argument, but, nevertheless, it was a true one; and he would put it to them not to suspend their co-operation till the time was gone. Our trade and commerce required more space and room. We were not asking 'or monopolies, but we petitioned for the liberty of self-development by being relieved from the monopolies of others. He would thank the House for its attention, and had he not felt that the representative of a community so active and intelligent as his constituents— so deeply interested in the extension of our commercial system— so deeply suffering the privations which our present system has brought upon them— could not do his duty and be silent, he would not have troubled the House.
Mr. D' Israeli
was struck with one observation which had fallen from the hon. Member for Sheffield, that it was very seldom one remedy was found sufficient to effect a cure of two complaints; but that in this instance her Majesty's Government had happily devised a plan that met the complicated evil they had to deal with. Why, all quack medicines partook of this universally healing virtue. The hon. Gentleman had observed, that the peculiar characteristic of the present measure was, that it would not only keep up the revenue, and replenish the coffers of the Exchequer, but that it would also increase the commerce of the country and keep in the Government. He thought the hon. Gentleman, when speaking on behalf of the Government, might have given those who sat on the Opposition side of the House, credit for having a sympathy for something better even than that of political power. With regard to the question immediately before the House, he observed, that there were two points which, during four nights' debate, and thirty hours' discussion, had been pretty nearly established. It seemed to have been proved to the satisfaction of the majority of the House, and he should say of the majority even of the other (the Ministerial) side of the House, that the supply of sugar from our own colonies was sufficient for the consumption of this country. That was a point much discussed, and he believed established. He thought also, that another point was established, namely, that in case the proposition of the Government were adopted, 455 the reduction of the price of sugar to the consumer, it would be almost impossible to calculate from its smallness. If so, it would follow, as the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, who had put the; debate upon the right footing, had stated, that the real question at issue was, whether the adoption of the proposition of the Government would open new markets to the British manufacturer. This was a point of the highest consideration— it was a consideration of the highest interest and importance; but if this were to be the result or the discussion, what were they to say to the noble Lord and to the right, hon. Gentleman who opened the debate with the cry of cheap sugar; and with the picturesque description of the misery of the population of this country for want of cheap sugar, and with the lively description of the great benefits that must result to that population if the price of sugar were reduced. He confessed, he was somewhat struck with the want of keeping, in point of argument, when the noble Lord drew so touching a picture of the destitute condition of the people for want of cheap sugar, while he almost with ironical rhetoric described those very people as the great consumers of that article of trade. But if the result of this discussion should be, that even the adoption of the Government measure would not lessen the price of sugar, then he must say, that those noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen who had dilated so much on the vast importance of the price of sugar being reduced, had been somewhat liberal in their imputations of cant and hypocrisy on hon. Gentlemen sitting on his (Mr. D'Israeli's) side of the House, because they had expressed sentiments which he believed were felt by the greater portion of the community, and had re-asserted opinions which they had always professed on the subject of slavery. The right hon. the Judge Advocate (Sir G. Grey), had been peculiarly liberal with his imputations upon hon. Gentlemen opposite to his side of the House. The hon. Gentlemen had described them even as Pharisees, thanking God, at the same time, he supposed, that the right hon. Gentleman was a placeman and a sinner. He would call upon the House to remark the extreme looseness of the details, and inaccuracy of information respecting the subject of the opening of new markets. The Chancellor of the Exchequer opened 456 his budget by shaking his head at the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tarn-worth, and dilating on the importance of entering into a commercial treaty with the Brazils, carrying on, as we did, with that country a commerce to the extent of five millions sterling. Now, on reference to the official documents, it appeared, that the amount of our exports to Brazil was about one-half that sum, the difference between the right hon. Gentleman's statement and the fact being two millions and a half. But he would call upon the House to recollect, that there were many peculiarities connected with the Brazils which would render it most probable that, as a market, it never would increase. Our trade with Brazil had been stationary. The greatest amount of exports to that country was in 1825, which was a year of extraordinary mercantile enterprise In that year our exports to the Brazils exceeded three millions. But while they heard so much said of the Brazilian people, and of the Brazilian nation, and of the necessity of entering into a commercial treaty with the government of Brazils, it would be well for the House to recollect, that the population of the Brazils was only five millions, and that three millions of that population were negro slaves, and two hundred and fifty thousand were coloured slaves. Now it was generally agreed, that the population of slave states did not increase. But our exports to the Brazils were peculiarly adapted to a slave population. The articles were cheap and not of a very various character; we should therefore very greatly err if we compared the commerce of a country which was, after all, only a slave country, with our commerce with countries where there was no slavery— where there was an increasing population, and where the various wants of the various classes of society required as varied articles of consumption. He wished, now that her Majesty's Ministers had taken the foreign commerce of the country under their auspices, they would extend their patronage to our commerce with another country in the same hemisphere with the Brazils— he meant Mexico, where there was an increasing population, where there was no slavery, and where there existed a feeling strongly in favour of the English people. He had been informed on the best authority, that if the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 457 had only condescended to consider the remonstrances made by the Mexican government, the merchants of this country might now have been trading with that country to the extent of a million and a half sterling in the year. But instead of that the ports of Mexico had been blockaded, her chief fortifications destroyed, her property sequestrated, and besides not listening to her remonstrances, the expedition that was at length tardily sent out, arrived one day after the time it would have been of any service. To show the beneficial effects resulting from the relations formed by England with foreign states, he would remind the House of what had occurred with respect to Chili. Although one of the lesser independencies of South America, yet in consequence of our commercial relations with that country, our exports were greater to Chili than they were to Mexico and Peru taken together. He hoped hon. Gentlemen connected with the manufactures and commerce of this country would not lake it as an offence if he undertook to show, that they were not absolutely ruined. He found, on tracing our past history, that complaints, of the decay of commerce and navigation had always existed in this country. In the days of Sir Robert Walpole the complaint was raised; Sir John Barnard stood up in the House of Commons, and stated, that the commercial energies of England were completely exhausted. They all knew, that there never was a more able minister than Sir Robert Walpole, or one who more completely understood the commercial genius of this country. But, in fact, instead of the commerce of the country being at that time in a state of exhaustion, it was scarcely in the swaddling clothes of commercial greatness. Similar complaints were made at the close of the American war. The merchants of London petitioned the House upon the subject, and one of Mr. Burke's strong arguments in support of his celebrated motion on economical reform was, that the resources of the country were depressed by the terrible decay of its trade and navigation. And yet did not every one at this day know, that the reign of George the 2nd, was the most prosperous reign of any Sovereign, that ever ruled this country? When Mr. Pitt first succeeded to power, and brought in all his great financial measures, there was the same despair for the trade and commerce 458 of the country. The merchants of Bristol were, in 1786, greatly alarmed at the depressed state of trade and navigation, and had been so at several subsequent periods. There was not one hon. Gentleman in the House, whatever his age might be, who would not recollect, that even before those greater periods of commercial depression the leading men of commerce were always talking as if the commercial energies of this country were in a state of decay. But what were the facts? If they referred to the only documents that were open to them on the subject they would find, that there was no evidence whatever of this decay. He knew, that hon. Gentlemen who took a desponding view of our trade and commerce, would argue thus:— "It is very true, that the amount of our exports is not only maintained, but even increased; but then the character of those export is changed; and those exports were now of a description which indicated the future fall of our manufacturing power." That was a grave question; but every one must agree, that it could only be decided by the profoundest and most searching investigation. If they were called upon to debate this question in a committee of ways and means, it was absolutely necessary, that they should come, he did not say to a hasty or hurried, or even precipitate, but to a decided, urgent, and imperative decision. It was impossible that the ways and means of the country should be denied. But if they looked to the markets open to the commercial enterprise of this country, they would not find a particle of evidence to countenance the apprehension of decay, or even of decline, in our foreign trade. There might probably be a diminution of exports to some of the countries with which we traded, but it was with those countries whose markets were disturbed. Those who despaired of the prosperity of our commercial career, must look to the state of the market of China, must look to the state of the market of Turkey, must look to the state of the market of Egypt. They would find a reduction of the exports to those three countries amount to l,100,000l. sterling; but no one could suppose that the tariff of England had produced those results. The diminution of exports had been occasioned by the policy of the Government. It was not just to attach any responsibility to the Opposition, for the present state of Chinese affairs; those who recollected the 459 debate on the Chinese question, must know, that no guarantee was given by them for the policy of the Government with respect to that country. Then, with regard to the affairs of the Levant, the Members on his side of the House had not said a word upon the subject. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had moved for papers and the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had said, that he could not give any opinion till those papers were produced. These were the three markets with respect to which there had been any visible and large diminution of foreign exports; and he asked, was it possible to ascribe that diminution to the English tariff? He could not believe, that there was any ground for the general idea which seemed to be so prevalent in that House, that the commercial energies of the country were at the least on a decline. There was not only no evidence of a declination of exports, except with respect to the three countries he had mentioned, and which he had accounted for, but he saw reasons for believing that our commercial career, so far from being in a state of decline, and as it had been said, the sun of our prosperity being about to set, we had not even yet reached our meridian eminence. Because, looking to the markets in South America, it was impossible not to see, that they would furnish immense demands for British manufactures. And then, independently of the three large and important markets in the Western hemisphere, to which he had referred, we had all the great markets of the olden world. There were, for instance, France, India, and Australia. You had actually doubled your exports to India alone, without reference to the contemplated alterations, which would enlarge your commerce there. In Australia, from exports amounting to 200,000l. or 300,000l. sterling, which was their extent in 1829, you had increased them now to 1,700,000l.; and in France, while in 1829 you had exported some 450,000l., you were now exporting 2,500,000l. When he saw these facts, he could not all despair of our fortunes, even in the old world; but not only was the continent supplying us with a vast increase of demand, but, at this moment, we were penetrating to portions of the globe hitherto unexplored by our commerce, and were extending the navigation of the Danube, the Indus, and the Niger. Who, under 460 these circumstances, could despair of the commercial fortunes of the country? He protested against the principle laid down by the hon. Gentleman who last spoke, and by other hon. Gentlemen who had spoken, and who were acting on the part of the Government, of calling upon the House to consider the re-construction of the commercial policy of the greatest commercial nation in the world, at a moment of financial exigency. It was a result not to be attained by the measures to which they had resorted. The measures they insisted upon were founded on erroneous principles. The object they aimed at was one of the greatest importance, and if it were the result of the deliberations of a Cabinet Council, they should have brought it to the attention of the House in the usual manner. It should have been distinctly adverted to at the beginning of the Session. The President of the Board of Trade should have brought it on as a Cabinet measure, and should have moved for the appointment of a committee of trade and navigation, in order, that a body of evidence might have been produced to have assisted them in their deliberations. He was surprised, that the noble leader of the Administration in this House had thought fit to impute— what? Faction, to the right hon. Member for Tamworth. Whatever might be the attributes of the right hon. Baronet, he never believed, that faction would be charged against him, and, of all persons in the world, it came with the worst grace from the noble Lord; he was, of all persons, the last who should have made it. Why, if the right hon. Baronet had condescended to be factious, the noble Lord would not have been sitting in the place he occupied; and that he knew, as well as many of the friends by whom the noble Lord was surrounded. If, indeed, the right hon. Baronet, when out of office, had proposed certain abstract questions, and had asserted, that by carrying them into practice a Government could alone exist, and when he had obtained the place of the noble Lord, he had not carried them into practice, he would have been factious. If he had denounced as a rebel an individual whom he had subsequently found it convenient to make an ally, the right hon. Baronet might have been justly termed factious. If he had called out lustily "Justice to Ireland," and had nevertheless always given his vote in fa- 461 vour of measures tending to a coercion bill, the right hon. Baronet might have justly been called factious. Most of all, if he had come down last year, and had solemnly declared, that there was no basis for a system of Government for the country, but agricultural preponderancy, and had this year brought forward a proposition for a fixed duty on corn, undefined on the first night, hesitated about on the third night, and changed from 7s. 6d. to 8s. in the articulation, the right hon. Baronet might have indeed been called factious.
§ Sir H. Verney
The remarks of the right hon. Member for Dundee, appear to have been lost on the hon. Member who last addressed the House, as he has not alluded to the statement made by that right hon. Baronet, of the advantages to the West India colonies from the removal which has taken place this Session, of the duties and restrictions on the importation of materials employed in the sugar manufactory. But the House will, I hope, not have been inattentive to those remarks, which, coming from such high authority, have, I must own, very much reconciled me to the absence of a proposal to reduce the duty on the import of West-Indian productions into this country. I entirely concur in the observations of the hon. Member for Maidstone, as to the importance of not neglecting our commercial intercourse with the independent republics of South America, but I must wholly dissent from his opinion regarding our commerce with Brazil. The hon. Gentleman considers it as of small importance, inasmuch as the population consists in so large a proportion of slaves. But Sir, are there none but slave-holding states who seek British manufactures in the interior of South America? I can assure the hon. Gentleman, that whole nations exist there, some of them native and aboriginal Indians, others of Spanish or Portuguese descent, who desire the productions of Europe, and that if these are not furnished by us, they will be furnished by our European rivals. I have met with German colonies in various parts of the South American continent, and heard Swabian accents on the rivers of those countries, and I have learnt from British merchants there, and Englishmen in those services, and from persons high in authority, that as this country refuses to receive the produce of Brazil, Brazil is entering into, 462 commercial relations with the North German States. It is remarkable that now for the first time the interior of South America, is open and opening to the commerce of Europe. Look at the map of that continent— Mark its great rivers, all rising in the Andes or the high plains East of Upper Peru, and pouring their waters in an easterly direction to the Atlantic Ocean. How vast are these rivers— how puny in comparison with them are the rivers of Europe. See the course of the Maranon and its tributary streams, the Madeira and Ucayali. Observe the river Plate, and trace the streams that flow into it, the Parana and Paraguay, the Veomejo and Pilcomayo. Who of us know even the names of these rivers. They are strange sounds to us, and strange they will remain, if this country by an unwise and restrictive policy abandons its commercial pre-eminence, and relinquishes the commerce of South America. I wish to hear from the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the difficulties he has met with, and still more those which he anticipates, in making commercial treaties with other countries, and especially with Brazil and with the States of South America. I know the objections which those governments will raise. I know that Brazil will no longer consent to admit our manufactures if we pertinaciously refuse theirs. The treaty with that country by which it admits British manufactures, at an ad valorem duty of 15 per cent., while we are not bound to receive their productions, expires, according to our interpretation in 1844, according to theirs 1842. Will they be willing to renew it on such terms? Will they renew it on any terms unless we admit their productions? Of course they will not. And shall the House be told by the hon. Gentleman who addressed you last, that the natives are but slaves who will not consume our manufactures? Nations hardly known to us are anxious to receive them. I have seen the first bale of goods from Manchester or Sheffield, opened and exposed to the gaze of the wondering Indians. Some young clerk of a merchant's house in Valparaiso, Arequipa or Lima, starts with a couple of laden mules across the Andes. He seeks some Indian tribe— he disposes of his goods at the interest of 1,000 per cent., and the taste for European commodities spreads far and wide among the natives and ripens into a necessity. Consider 463 that hitherto the British merchant has sent his merchandize for the markets of Couzco and Potosi, and the countries east of the Cordillera, by the tedious and perilous passage round the Cape Horn. The great rivers to which I have adverted seem destined by nature to be the highways into the interior of the continent. We have rejected these advantages offered to us by Providence, and in these latter days of commercial enterprize, those rivers are less known to Europe than they were 200 years ago. I recollect having seen maps on which were marked the spots where naval engagements had taken place between the Spaniards ascending the tributary rivers of the river Plate, and the Portuguese, those of the Marañon; and the rival European nations had combated on the morasses and lakes whence the head waters of these rivers flow. The fact of canoes having ascended from the mouths to the sources of these rivers, proves the absence of rapids and falls. British naval officers and others have descended the Marañon through its whole extent— they have found that ships of 600 tons may ascend that river for 4,000 miles, and it is well known, that the countries to the south of the Marañon, those watered by the Ucayali and Veomejo, are remarkably healthy for Europeans, and that the British name is honoured above any foreign nation. The Brazilian treaty is expiring. Now is the time to open the rivers of Brazil to our commerce. The wars of independence, and the jealousy of Francia, ruler of Paraguay, long barred the Spanish American rivers to us. The war is terminated, and Francia is dead, and I would say most earnestly to British merchants, embark your capital in these regions, carry British commerce up the rivers of South America, and they will yield you a richer harvest than the rivers of Brazil or Peru. Here, then, is the question that we are called on to decide. Shall we be the nation to carry civilization into the interior of South America, augmenting, at the same time, the wealth, and glory, and power of our country? It is possible, that we shall reply to this question, not on its own merits, but with a view to drive the noble Lord below me from the Treasury Bench, and place the right hon. Baronet there in his stead. Is it not the first duty of this House to legislate for the pecuniary interest of the owners of sugar plantations in the West Indies? If it were so, who can 464 say that it has been neglected? We purged our country from the heinous national sin of slavery, and cheerfully paid 20,000,000l. to abolish it in the countries under our sway. We glory in the sacrifice— but are we now to refuse to hold commercial intercourse with a country because that country has not arrived at opinions respecting slavery, that were not ours ten years ago? Are we to deny to our manufacturers and merchants, the markets of Brazil and those further nations approachable by the Brazilian rivers because a portion of their productions are slave-grown? No, Sir, our duty is to confer on that vast population committed by Providence to our care every advantage and benefit that the Imperial Legislature can obtain for it, as to secure for them as cheaply, and in as great abundance as possible, the productions of other countries, and to open as wide a market as possible to British enterprise, capital, and skill. And are the growers of corn not interested in this question? I do not like addressing to my agricultural brethren a kind of argument, that I trust, would not weigh too much with myself; yet I would ask them to consider, whether it is not of importance to them, that their best market, their home market, should be as good as possible, their best customers as wealthy as any legislation of this House can render them. I would ask them, to look with me at some country that has been wealthy and now is poor— to consider, for instance, Spain: they will find in the metropolis and provincial capitals of the Peninsula, palaces far more magnificent than any that can be found here, and vast castles surrounded by estates, in comparison with which our finest country residences are insignificant. I have seen the palaces and residences to which I refer— they still bear their owner's name, but he and his family occupy one story, or a portion of a story of the edifice, while one story above him and perhaps two below are let to strangers.— Ask him, as I have done, the cause of the change in the circumstances of his family. He will tell you, that his palace was erected in the better days of Spain, that his landed estates then yielded a very different revenue from the scanty pittance which they now afford — but commerce has quitted the shores of the Peninsula, and the agriculturist is involved with the merchant in one common ruin. I say then, accept the pro- 465 posal of Government, and a new era opens on our country. We shall send our manufactures to the distant ends of the earth, and our agriculture and commerce will stand on a sure foundation. The Government are now opposed by all who think their monopolies may be affected. They are banded together against the Ministers who have boldly thrown down the gauntlet to them. It may be, that the Government are destined to a defeat. In deciding on this course they cannot have been insensible to its danger. It may lead to present discomfiture— it must terminate in future triumph— and if not in that of their party, it must lead to that which I am convinced they value far more highly, the permanent advantage of the country.
§ Mr. Kemble
Sir, It is not often that I address the House, and it is always with reluctance that I rise to occupy its attention, and when I consider the late period to which this debate has been protracted, that reluctance is not decreased. However, a Lord of the Treasury, the hon. Member for Sheffield, having alluded to a cheer which I gave during the speech of the hon. Gentleman, I cannot avoid addressing a few observations to the House. The cheer which I gave, was when the hon. Member alluded to the condition of the negroes, and contrasted it with that of the working population of this country. Sir, I deplore as much as any man, the distresses of any of our fellow subjects, but I think the observations of the hon. Member would have been more appropriate, at the time when the grant of 20,000,000l. for negro emancipation was before the House. Such was the state of our finances, at the time when the Emancipation Act was passed, that although we contracted a loan of 20,000,000l. yet the country was not subjected to any additional taxation, and it appears to me, that we are now called upon by her Majesty's Government to undo all that we have done in the great act of emancipating the slave. The hon. Member for Sheffield has alluded to the resolutions agreed to at a meeting of the Anti Slavery Society of Liverpool. I have read those resolutions, in the newspapers of this morning, with the utmost astonishment. I cannot understand how the members of Anti Slavery Societies, can support a measure, which in June last, they said would increase the slave-trade to an 466 enormous extent. With respect to the revenue that was to be derived from the admission of foreign sugar, whatever revenue was obtained, could only be by displacing to the same extent, sugar the produce of free labour. When on the 25th of June last year, the hon. Member for Wigan, brought forward a motion for an alteration in the sugar duties, nearly the same as that now proposed, he was opposed by the Government, although the price of sugar was nearly 20s. per cwt. higher than at present. Two gentlemen of high respectability and great intelligence, largely engaged in the sugar trade, were examined before the Import Committee and one of them states,I should think, that to make sugar an article of very general consumption, the price should be from 50s. to 60s. including the duty. That would be from 5½d. to 6½d. per pound. I think the consumption would go on to almost any extent at those prices.Now, Sir, at the time this evidence was given, the gazette price of sugar was 57s. 2½d. or including the duty 81s. 2½d., and on Friday last, it was 36s. l¾d, or including the duty 61s. 3¾d. I am therefore surprised, that hon. Members opposite, should now support what they then so strenuously opposed. I am confident, that the good sense of the country will not be with the Government in the support of this measure, I never will believe, that the people, having consented to the great sacrifice involved in the emancipation of the slaves, will now shrink back from the accomplishment of their own measure, and undo all that has been done. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dundee, has complained that a most unfair character has been given to the propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I agree, that an unfair character has been given to them, in considering them measures of free trade. The Government has endeavoured to gain popularity, by bringing forward measures which they say are based upon the principles of free trade. I deny, that this is a question of free trade; the difference of opinion between the parties, is simply, as to the amount of protection. A great deal has been said of the benefit that these measures will confer by opening new markets, but it must be recollected, that there will be a great danger of injuring existing markets. The Government takes great credit to themselves for bringing forward 467 these measures — the administration of public affairs has been in their hands for a period of nearly eleven years, and why, if convinced of their value, had they not proposed them before? I have heard during this debate a great deal said in praise of Mr. Huskisson, of whose great abilities, there could not be two opinions— but there was one principle, always maintained by that right hon. Gentleman, which seems to have been entirely forgotten, namely, that in a country like this, there ought always to be a surplus of revenue over expenditure of from 3,000,000l. to 5,000,000l. I ask the House, whether her Majesty's Government have acted upon that principle, or have they not, on the contrary, acted upon a principle of a late President of the Board of Trade, now Governor of Canada, that it was better to allow the money to fructify in the pockets of the people? What, I ask has been the conduct of the Government for the last five years? In 1838, there was a deficiency to the extent of I,428,534l., and that deficiency had been increased in 1839 and 1840, and on the 5th of April 1841, it amounted to 5,168,079l. We have been told that our expenditure will diminish— that the affairs of Canada and China, which had been a cause of increased expenditure were settled; but since that statement was made, we have been officially informed, that the Government not having approved of Captain Elliot's conduct in China, had recalled that gentleman, and appointed another in his place— the China question is therefore anything but settled. Taking all things into consideration, I cannot think that the present is the most proper time for entering upon the discussion of such important commercial alterations as are now proposed. I think that experiments of this kind are always attended with considerable risk. This does not appear to me a favourable opportunity to endeavour to teach the principles of free trade to foreign Powerswhen your measures are not introduced, merely from a conviction of the soundness of those principles, but from absolute necessity, in consequence of the state of your finances. I listened with attention to the speech with which the noble Lord opposite opened this debate, and heard with deep regret his description of the wretched state of the operatives of Manchester and Bolton. I recollect when the Duke of Wellington quitted office, 468 that hon. Gentlemen opposite blamed him and his Friends for the state of affairs then existing. The present Government have been in office for a long time, and now that their period of service is, as I trust, nearly at its close, is this, I ask the result of the policy which they have pursued? Is the result of their administration of public affairs, that deplorable condition of the people which the noble Lord has described? They will doubtless obtain from the country for their conduct, all the credit to which they are entitled, and that I think is no credit at all. It has been stated as a reason for the present condition of our finances, that our establishments have been increased; and that this side of the House has concurred in that increase. True, when we thought that our army and navy required augmentation for the security of the country, we did concur in the increase proposed by the Government, from a desire, that those important branches of the service should be placed on a proper footing with respect to other countries— but I think, that the necessity for that in crease was mainly owing to the conduct of the Government. I recollect, that when the Government entered office, a declaration was made in the House of Lords by the noble Lord then Prime Minister, that non-interference would be the principle of his Government with respect to foreign policy. I ask, was there ever a Government which has acted less upon the principle of non-interference? I never can forget the risk to which the peace of Europe has been exposed, by the occurrences that have taken place with respect to the Eastern question— it is said, that that question is finally set at rest. I trust it is so, but I cannot help entertaining some doubts on the subject, for one of is results has been, that for the powerful government of Mehemet Ali, has been substituted the miserable weakness of the Porte. In my opinion the Government are the main cause of the financial difficulties that at present exist, and certainly it does appear to me, that of all periods that can be selected, for bringing forward commercial matters of such importance as the present, a period of financial difficulty is the least favourable. If the Government intended to ground their proceedings on the report of the Import Committee, they ought to have reappointed that Committee, and some Member of the Go- 469 vernment ought to have taken an active part in it, when any resolutions were adopted— there were never more than six Members and the Chairman present. But the fact is, that some of the most important information given to that Committee was furnished by three gentlemen, Mr. McGregor, Mr. Hume, and Mr. Porter; and it was open to the Government at any time to put themselves in possession of the views of those gentlemen; indeed, they must from official connexion have known them; surely then, if they thought the application of their principles necessary to the prosperity of the commercial interests of the country, they ought to have endeavoured to carry them out at a much earlier period. I trust the House will pause before measures of such importance are passed— measures, some of which although they may possibly succeed, and be productive of good to the country, must in the first instance be the cause of much mischief, much disorder and confusion. At all events, the condition of the country at present, is such as in my opinion, to render this a most un-propitious time for effecting such important changes. Under all the circumstances of the case, I feel it my duty to oppose the measures of her Majesty's Government, and shall vote in favour of the resolution of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
I cannot but regret, that some of the leading members of that political party to which the hon. Gentleman belongs have not been present in the House during the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member for Surrey, for if the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Pembroke, and the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, who assisted in the year 1830, in driving from office the Government of the noble Duke, whom they now have joined, if they had been present, they would have made such observations to the hon. Gentleman as would have enabled him to have given a very different description of the state of the country at that period, from that which he has painted: and they would have refreshed the hon. Gentleman's memory with a few particulars which he has wholly omitted. They would have reminded him of the state of the funds, which, I think, a Gentleman so much connected with the city, should have recollected; they would have brought to 470 his recollection the fact, that the agricultural districts were in such a state of excitement that no man could sleep in quiet, that there were nightly burnings— they would have reminded him that at that time the King of England was not enabled to pass through his own city of London to dine with the Lord Mayor— and with respect to foreign affairs, to which the hon. Gentleman has also alluded in his speech, they might possibly have caused him to recollect, that a noble relative of my own (Lord Ashburton), in 1830 stated, that foreign affairs were in such a condition, that he defied my noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston), to maintain peace for six weeks. If the hon. Gentleman's information upon the sugar trade were as correct as his recollection of political circumstances, I am afraid, that the House will not place upon him that reliance which from his position, and from his connection with persons interested in the sugar trade, they would be disposed to do. It is, however, strange, that the hon. Gentleman, with opportunities of acquiring information as great as any man in the House, should have touched most lightly upon that which was the peculiar subject of the present motion. He has descanted largely upon slavery and the slave-trade, but when he came to the question of the sugar duties he has handled the matter most gingerly, and quietly slipped into the general question of finance. I will not follow the hon. Gentleman into the amount of the 3,000,000l. or the 5,000,000l. surplus, which Mr. Huskisson thought a country like this ought always to have. That, I fear, is one of the beautiful dreams in which financiers sometimes indulge; but if the hon. Gentleman will look back into figures and history, he will find, that such a surplus has never been continued by any Government. In the few observations, however, which the hon. Gentleman has made with respect to the sugar duties, although he has most lightly touched upon that branch of the question, he has fallen into the very same inconsistencies of argument into which, in listening to hon. Gentlemen opposite, the House will have observed, that they all have fallen. In the first place, hon. Gentlemen say, that I greatly overrate the amount I shall receive. They tell me, that I rely upon foreign sugar for my income; they say, that I should not be able to get foreign sugar; 471 they assert, that the West Indians would be able to sell sugar at so cheap a rate, that no foreign sugar would come in, and they tell me that my scheme is a bubble, and assert roundly that I shall not obtain the proposed amount of income; and yet hardly are these assertions out of their mouths, than they turn round and tell me, that my proposal would produce such a deluge of foreign sugar, that such quantities of foreign sugar would come in, that the negro population in the West Indies will be thrown out of employment, that the West-Indian employers will be ruined, and that even the rich valley of the Ganges will be swamped. It would have been very desirable if hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they agreed to oppose this motion, had met to arrange their line of argument; they should have settled beforehand whether I shall not be able to get my revenue, or whether I shall ruin the West-India interest; but the two assertions were utterly incompatible. If I can ruin the West-India interest, at least, I must get foreign sugar to provide my income. But, Sir, I feel satisfied, that the proposed amount of income may be secured, and a proper protection be still given to the West-Indian interest. My noble Friend near me (Lord John Russell) has stated the mode in which the sugar duties have been arranged. I must trouble the House again by re-stating the figures, and think I shall be able to satisfy the House not only that ample protection will be given to the West-Indian interest, but that I shall secure the amount of revenue which I anticipate. When her Majesty's Government had satisfied themselves, that the proper course to meet the financial difficulties of the country was by taking a more enlarged view of the interests of trade and of commerce, by dealing with the great monopolies, by opening new markets for our manufactures, and giving a fresh impulse to the energies of the country, and not by laying new taxes upon a people already sufficiently burthened, it became their duty to consider what amount of reduction might be made, with a due attention to the West-Indian interests. The duty at present levied upon foreign sugar is 3l. 3S. per cwt. plus the five per cent, duty; it stands in the resolution which is printed at 36s., which, with the five per cent, would amount to 37s. 9d. and a fraction. Now, if I take the price of foreign muscovado sugar as 472 it was stated by my noble Friend, viz., 23s., or at 21s. 6d., as it was according to the last return, the price with the duty added, would amount to 59s. 3d. or 60s. 9d. I am inclined to take the higher of these sums, for the moment foreign sugar is allowed to enter into the British market, the price will naturally rise, and British colonial sugar was always higher in price than foreign sugar. Is not this price a sufficient protection to the West-India interests? They are secured this protection, a protection of fifty per cent. Surely, this was a fair and reasonable protection to the West Indies? If hon. Gentlemen will look to the papers which have been laid on the Table of the House, and which are printed, and if they will take from the year 1820, up to which high prices continued, down to the year 1839, they will find that the price of colonial sugar in the British market has never exceeded 37s., except in the year 1825, which was a year of very high prices, and in the year 1836, when it reached 40s. 3d. In the last two years, I admit, the price was much higher, it was in fact excessive. The House, therefore, will see, that the price, which by the present measure will be secured to the British colonies, has been only exceeded twice in the course of near twenty years. I have been taunted, and, I am bound to say, not without reason, with the amount of this protection. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, who spoke the other night, said, that sugar had become one of the necessaries of life, and that if there were any principle of free trade, it was, that the duties upon such a class of articles should be lowered. I admit the truth of that doctrine, but I am bound to say, that the object of the Government, amidst other considerations, has been, to afford ample security to the West-Indian interests at the time, and under the circumstances in which they were now placed. I must, however, remark, that this protection is not entirely all the advantage which the West-Indian interests have obtained. My right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, has introduced a bill in the present Session, for giving certain assistance to the West Indies. In the year 1832, a committee sat upon the state of the West Indies, and long calculations were made before the committee by the West-Indian proprietors, showing that the restrictions 473 imposed upon their trade and commerce, made a heavy additional tax or duty, and it was stated, that the tax they paid in consequence of these restrictions upon their commerce and trade was equivalent to a further duty of 5s. 6d. the cwt. I do not wish to bind the West-Indian interests to that exact calculation, because I know that, when giving evidence before committees, parties are apt to somewhat overstate their case. I must observe, that my right hon. Friend has brought in a bill, which does not entirely remove all these restrictions, yet which reduces the 5s. 6d., and it must not be lost sight of, that when the present measure was brought forward, my right hon. Friend and the Government have proposed some reduction of the charges to which West-India produce has been long subject. I have been told in the course of this debate that I shall not obtain the money which I expect from the proposed alteration, and I am asked what are those calculations on which I ground my assurance that, by this measure the revenue upon sugar will next year, and in every future year, increase by the sum of 700,000l. Now, hon. Gentlemen will observe, that the manner in which I deal with this question is, to fix a certain amount of price, beyond which sugar should not rise. So long, therefore, as colonial sugar can be sold at a certain price, foreign sugar will not come into use; but the moment colonial sugar rises above that price, foreign sugar will enter the market. The question, therefore, is, on what quantity of sugar I can rely? If hon. Gentlemen will again turn to the table to which I have already referred, they will find, that in the year 1825, the price of sugar was 38s. 6d., and the quantity imported for home consumption was 3,079,848 cwt. In 1826. the price fell to 30s. 7d., and there was a considerable increase in the quantity imported— 490,000 cwts. In 1836, again, the price was 40s. 10d. and the amount imported for home consumption was 3,308,000cwts.; but in 1837, when there was a fall in the price to 34s. 8d., or 6s. 2d., the consumption of sugar at home increased by the quantity of 486,000 cwts. over what it had been in the preceding year. The prices last year and the year before were above 39s. and 40s., and the price I now propose to secure and calculate upon was 36s., being a fall from last year not of 5s. or 6s. or 8s. but to a much greater extent. 474 There can, therefore, be no doubt that I may calculate upon a much greater consumption next year, and the revenue will in proportion increase. Looking to the price of last year, and the proposed price, I estimate upon an increased consumption of 523,000 cwts. of sugar; now, if I take that increased consumption, the additional revenue to be derived from these duties would be 660,000l., and to raise that amount, every ounce that would be consumed would be British colonial sugar, winch would come in under the lowest rate of duty. There is not one ounce of the foreign sugar that would pay the higher rate in this estimate. Now in this is not included the duty upon another article, molasses; on which, as I formerly stated, the duty has last year fallen off 40,000l. Taking, therefore, the duty on molasses the same as in 1839, it would make up the 700,000l. Thus, without calculating for any increase upon foreign sugar or on molasses, I do not doubt that if we can secure a low price of sugar, because all depends upon that, we may rely upon an increase next year of 700,000l. in the revenue. I have no hesitation, however, in declaring, that in putting the increase at that amount, I believe I have understated it. I have in my hand a paper which has been drawn up, and will, I think, satisfy the House how great the increase will be. It takes the consumption per head of former years, and shews what the increase will be with the population of 1841 and the five per cent. In the year 1830, the consumption of sugar was 19.94lbs per head; and taking the population of 1841, and supposing that there was the same rate of consumption per head, instead of receiving an additional revenue of 700,000l., I shall have an increase in the revenue of 1,606,000l. This is at the low duty of 24s. In the year 1831, the consumption, per head, had been at the rate of 20.11; and taking the calculation in accordance with this amount, I find that I shall acquire a revenue amounting to 1,659,000l.; in 1832, the consumption was at the rate of 19lbs. per head, and the revenue at that rate would produce 1,310,000l.; in 1833, it was 17.99, which would yield 993,000l.; taking the calculation in accordance with the consumption of 1834, the produce would be one million and a fraction; taking it at the amount consumed in 1836, it would yield 549,000l., and that was the 475 year in which the consumption had been the lowest; taking it at that consumed in 1837, it would yield 1,115,000l.; at that consumed in 1838, it would yield 1,128,000l.; and at that consumed in 1839, it would yield 721,000l. Therefore, if Gentlemen take the consumption of any one year, except 1836, as affording a means of exhibiting the probable future consumption, they will find that I shall receive a sum much larger than that on which I had based my calculation; and I must observe, that during the last two years, not only have the stocks of the grocers materially diminished, but the people of this country have been compelled either to give up sugar altogether, or to do what was almost equally injurious to the revenue, namely, to use an adulterated article. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last has borne high testimony to the character of two of the witnesses who were examined before the committee upon the import duties, and I am glad that he has done so, because it prevents the necessity of my saying anything further upon that subject. What did those Gentlemen state? They stated, that the moment their sugar rose above 60s., that moment the consumption began to fall off, but that if they could keep it between 56s, and 60s. they might look for an almost unlimited consumption; and the hon. Member for Newark, in the observations which he had made, has expressed the same opinion. [Cheers.] I well know what that cheer means, for the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge, would say, "Let the sugar alone; I do not quarrel with you about your 700,000l.; you will get more than that." The right hon. Gentleman admits, that I shall get the money. It is admitted, then, that the revenue would be 700,000l.; but if that is the case, what becomes of all the taunts which I have heard? of the observations of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire? and of those hon. Gentlemen who have told me that I should not get the money? what becomes of all their denunciations of my proposal as a financial bubble? Surely a bubble which brings 700,000l. to begin with, would not have been unworthy the attention of the first merchant of the city of London in the good old times. But I am told that there is a complete answer to my proposition. It is said, "You will get the money, but not on foreign sugar; you will get it from 476 the home market— the home market will be able to supply you; you are sure of your money, and therefore you should let it alone." This language shews me that Gentlemen are not aware of the views of the Government. My object never was to ruin the West-Indian merchants, or to prevent them from having fair prices. The protection was fixed to give fair and reasonable prices to the party protected, and so long as he was content, and was able fairly to sell his produce within the price fixed, he is protected by the duty imposed. The moment he goes beyond that price, the foreign sugar will come into the market; while then I fix a fair price for West-Indian produce, I take a security on the part of the public, that they shall not be again subjected to the inconveniences which they have already suffered by reason of the high rates at which the commodity has been sold. The right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge had entered into a calculation as to produce, and asked the House to place entire reliance on it. Now, in the first place I told the House that the quantity of sugar likely to be produced and imported from the British colonies, and the East Indies, would be amply sufficient to supply the consumption. The right hon. Gentleman estimated what he considered sufficient for the consumption; but I shall prefer to leave it to the consumers of this country to judge for themselves what is the amount which they require for their consumption. The whole object and principle of this measure has been to fix the price at such a fair and reasonable amount that the consumption shall go on without any limit but that afforded by the capabilities and wishes of the public and the consumers. But even if it were a matter of calculation, I may be permitted to doubt how far his calculations can be relied on. In those which are before the House, there is a difference of 30,000 tons, being more than the increase on which I calculate. But if I were to search the records of the office of my noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, I believe I shall be able to find repeated remonstrances, and those too, of a very late date, from some of the very colonies which, it is now said, are able to give this country good and ample supplies of sugar, in which the produce is declared to have fallen off. Now it was stated, that the supply was ample. But these colonies 477 must not blow hot and cold. They must not, when they fear the results of any new regulation, complain that it will ruin them, because their crops are decreasing; and then come forward and declare that they shall be able to meet the consumption with a sufficient supply. But this is not all. I have had the honour of receiving information upon this subject from the trade; I have received a most respectable deputation from the gentlemen connected with the East Indies. Their statements by no means corroborated the declarations of the right hon. Gentleman. There are hon. Members who can contradict what I say, if I misrepresent what occurred. I asked the deputation what was the amount of price at which they considered that they could export sugar with a fair remunerating return to them? and they said, "we will not deceive you; we will not give you an exaggerated statement, but if you look to us, 40s. must be our price." But if gentlemen came to me with that statement, I must answer, that that was an enormous price to pay, and if that is my opinion, I shall do my work exceedingly ill— nay, I must be a madman, if I trust to the promise of hon. Gentlemen who argue on the other side of the House, and take no other security for a supply being guaranteed to the public, always remembering that this security is a mere waste of words, if what the House was told is true. If there is a considerable surplus in the supply from our own colonies, as the House is promised, no foreign sugar can ever find its way into the market at all, and no harm can be done; but when uncertainty exists, I am bound to take such a security that the interests of the people shall not suffer. When this point was argued the other evening, hon. Gentleman had referred triumphantly to the prices current, and had told the House "since the very time when this measure was introduced, prices have actually fallen below the limit proposed." Will hon. Gentlemen stand upon the prices current now: Are prices continuing to fall? The moment that parties connected with the trade saw what was going on in the House and the probable result of the proposal, prices rose. Hon. Gentlemen have told me, that last year prices were high, and, that then was the time when this measure should have been introduced. But if I had acted upon this principle, did the House suppose, that I should not have 478 been answered, and most properly too, "do not make this change now; this is not a proper time; but when prices are more equal, then you may venture upon it, but do not take such a step at this inconvenient period." I have proposed this measure, I admit, at a time when the amount of the produce is great; I have proposed it when I may be taunted that the immediate reduction would be comparatively small; but I have proposed it at a time when it will interfere the least inconveniently with the West-Indian interests. If West-Indian interests were safe this year— if from the large produce the increase will have little effect for this year, it will act as a notice for the future. If it is true that this law will be mere waste paper for one year, the only result is, that it has been proposed and adopted with that cautious discretion consistent with a careful attention to their interests, and they have no right to complain of such a course being taken. While I am dealing with the question of protection, I beg to call the attention of the House to a point which has been referred to by other hon. Gentlemen, and to which, I must say, that no satisfactory answer has been given, and to which it is necessary that hon. Gentlemen opposite should be called upon to afford some explanation. In 1829, Mr. Charles Grant, now Lord Glenelg, brought forward a proposal respecting sugar duties. He stated, that Mr. Huskisson, when President of the Board of Trade, had pledged himself to re-consider the sugar duties; that Mr. Huskisson had left office, and that he had succeeded him; that he considered himself bound by that pledge which had been given by his predecessor; that he had given his best attention to the question; that in concurrence with Mr. Huskisson he had laid before the Cabinet to which he belonged a certain scale of duties. He said, that after many suggestions having been made to him, and after many discussions with all parties, he had at last submitted to his colleagues a plan which involved a reduction of duties, a plan which they had favourably received, but it had been postponed on the ground of revenue. That such was the case, had been stated twice in the course of debate, and it had never been denied; so far from it, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day declared, that the difference between him and the right hon. Gentleman was not a difference 479 of principle. What was the scale of duties then proposed? Upon British plantation sugar a duty of 20s., upon East-India sugar a duty of 25s., and upon foreign sugar a duty of 28s only. That was not quite 50 per cent— 8s. upon 20s. Now, I know the answer that will be made to this, because an answer has been attempted on a former night. It will be said, as the hon. Member for Newark has said, that that occurred before the experiment of the abolition of slavery. At that time, however, the discussions upon the question of slavery and the slave-trade were going on. But what were the duties imposed? 20s. upon West-India sugar —sugar which was then cultivated by slave-labour; and 25s. upon East-Indian sugar, the produce of free labour. I do not quarrel with these duties; at that time, the opinions respecting East-India sugar were not so general as they were afterwards; but what was the difference made between free labour sugar and the sugar of Brazils and Cuba? An additional protection of 3s. only was given to the free sugar labour of the East Indies, in comparison with that which was the produce of slave-labour in Cuba and the Brazils. I do not quarrel with you for changing your opinion as to the amount of protection, but I must ask the House this question: How could those who were consenting parties to this proposal be prepared to condemn the introduction of the sugar of Cuba and the Brazils altogether? I propose a protection of 50s. per cent, and yet these very parties, who themselves admitted a protective duty of 3s. only, now declare, that by the proposition, slavery will be encouraged, and would endeavour, by raising those very arguments which they had before opposed, to ride into power on the anti-slavery cry. Hon. Gentlemen may be sure, that the people of England take considerable interest in this matter, and they may be assured, that they will ask the question how it came, that those who had been prepared to admit Brazilian and Cuba sugar, with only 3s. protection over free labour sugar, when they were in power, should have forgotten those views which they had before advocated, and have adopted others entirely inconsistent with the principles upon which they had formerly acted. But there is another answer which may be given. The hon. Member for Newark had said, that it was then a question of price— a mere nominal 480 thing; and, that the produce was large, and no effect will be produced. But, if there is a surplus of produce now, above the wants of the consumer, as is stated, the two cases are the same. With regard to its being a matter of slight importance in the year 1829, it was not so considered by Mr. Huskisson; Mr. Huskisson argued the question with his usual ability, and anticipated great benefits from its adoption. Mr. Fowell Buxton raised the same ground of objection which is now raised, nor was the question of slavery and the slave-trade omitted. He said, that he was afraid, that by the proposition which was made, the House was going to encourage the continuance of the system of the slave-trade. Mr. Grant, in his speech, alluded to and answered this objection. Mr Grant was aware of the objection; he must have brought it before his colleagues; but, at that time, it was not considered of much weight, though now it is so paramount, that hon. Gentlemen opposite are prepared to make it the standard under which they would do battle on this great question. Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say, that he never considered this objection— that he had not taken those things into consideration? But if he did, how does it happen that his virtue was then at 3s., and that he now objects to any importation of foreign sugar. [Mr. Goulburn said, that he had not assented to this proposition.] The statement to which I refer has been made twice in the House, and no Member of the Cabinet ventured to contradict it, and I am unable, therefore, to comprehend the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's observation. Mr. Grant made it in the presence of Mr. Huskisson and the Gentlemen opposite; if incorrect, it should have then been set right. It was clear also that much attention had been given to the question by the then Cabinet. It was remarkable that Mr. Grant stated, that an objection had been raised on financial grounds, but that his opinion was so strong, that though he yielded to the financial grounds of objection taken by the cabinet, he reserved to himself the right of stating to the House of Commons the arrangement which he had proposed. I now turn to my right hon. Friend, the Member for the Tower Hamlets; I trust my right hon. Friend, is convinced of the sincere respect I entertain for him, and hope that no words which I might use in 481 reference to him will belie my feeling. I can assure my right hon. Friend I am fully persuaded of the honesty of the opinions which he has advanced, and of the pain with which he has felt himself compelled to take the course which he has taken. But I confess that I entirely differ with my right hon. Friend, as to the effect that would follow from the introduction of foreign sugar. My object is, that there should be a sound and fair competition between the free labour sugar of the East and West Indies, and the sugar that was the product of foreign labour. It is my sincere and honest belief, that if it is wished to strengthen and promote the growth of free labour sugar, we can only do so by recurring to those principles which were true in every matter of trade, and that the only means of having a healthy, steady, fair, and strong produce of free labour sugar, is, by allowing competition with other sugar, and not by bolstering it up with protective duties. I will beg to refer my right hon. Friend to those principles which he has advanced on other occasions, when not misled by the better feelings of his nature; and if he will bear these principles in mind, then he must concur with me, that, looking back to the history of our commercial policy, there was nothing more true than the principle of Mr. Huskisson, that if you wished to improve trade you must admit some principle of competition; and that the worst possible thing that you could do, and that which would inflict the greatest possible injury on commerce, was to bolster and cocker it up, in order to prevent any other party from competing. I must appeal to my right hon. Friend, to say why, when he is prepared to prohibit slave-grown sugar, he does not object to the introduction of coffee and tobacco. The only possible answer is that which has been given by my right hon. Friend, when he says, that he is a practical man, and he got what he could — that he was against slavery, but as he could not get all he wished, he would be content with what he could get. But although the right hon. Gentleman is able to satisfy his own mind, and that of many of his friends, how will he deal with foreign powers? If he said to the Brazils, "admit my cottons," their answer would be, "admit our sugar;" and if he said, "I object to take produce which is the growth of slave-labour," the answer direct- 482 ly would be, "where do you get your cotton?" Would it be satisfactory for my right hon. Friend to reply, "I am a practical man, I get what I can, I know I cannot prevent the importation of cotton, but I will do my utmost to prevent the importation of sugar." Such an argument may be all very well from my right hon. Friend, but if put into the mouth of the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, I fear it will only expose this country to the ridicule and contempt of foreign nations. But the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, has challenged me to prove, that, in the consumption of Brazil produce, we are encouraging slave-labour, and has defied him to show that, by continuing the present trade, we are encouraging it. Does the noble Lord mean to argue that, if we send whatever amount of exports to Brazil or Cuba, and they are paid for, not immediately in the produce of those mines to which the hon. Member for Antrim has referred, but by the produce of the sugar sold elsewhere, the effect is not precisely the same as if the sugar is sent to England? If the sugar produced by slave-labour is sold to other countries, and, with the money produced our exports are paid for, is not that precisely in effect the same as a direct encouragement to slavery? It reminds me of what we have all read in our childhood, the story of the cherry orchard of Miss Edgworth, Some children are tempted with the sight of some cherries which are brought to their home to sell; anxious to obtain them, they set to work plaiting straw, which they sell to a third party, and with the produce buy the cherries. So, if you send your cherries to the Brazils, you excite the desire there to purchase them, and if you refuse to take their sugar in exchange, they will send it to foreign markets, and so obtain the means of paying you for your cherries. Those were the principles and the reasonings of Mr. Huskisson; they are the principles of common sense, though I admit that they are not those of the noble Lord. The noble Lord, however, particularly referred to refined sugar. Now, you take a certain quantity of sugar from abroad, which you refine in this country, and you export it to the West Indies. Does the noble Lord mean to say, that this was not an encouragement to slave-labour! Yet this is the doctrine laid down with considerable emphasis last evening by the no- 483 ble Lord opposite, who appeared before the House as a disciple of Mr. Huskisson, who expounded what free trade was, and what it was not; and certainly announced some propositions which excited in me some astonishment. If the West Indies send all their produce to England, and if in lieu of using their own sugar they buy refined sugar, the produce of Cuba, does the noble Lord mean to say, that the effect is not the same as if a similar amount of slave-grown sugar were allowed to be admitted into England direct! Even as to the refined sugar, which was exported to Hamburg and Amsterdam, I cannot but consider that the application of English capital, and the facilities and cheaper fuel of our refiners, has the tendency to reduce the price— that reducing the price in the foreign market increases the consumption and so far has a tendency to increase the produce, and according to the notions of hon. Gentlemen opposite, to encourage slavery and the slave-trade. I have been challenged to deal with these points, and, therefore, I have troubled the House on the subject. I should hardly have supposed it necessary, but the noble Lord came forward as the pupil of Mr. Huskisson; he stated his pride in his master, but if by any possibility Mr. Huskisson could now look down upon those who called themselves his pupils, he would not feel very proud of them. To the one other point I must address myself, because it is immediately connected with my own particular department. I have been taunted with having now introduced a budget, founded on a principle different from that of last year. My hon. Friends appear to have laboured under some difficulty in defending me from this imputation, but I must say, that as I do not consider myself fairly open to the accusation, so also I am not wholly entitled to the ground of defence that has been set up for me. When considering the financial state of the country last year, I was not able to conceal from myself that, independent of the financial difficulty of raising an additional revenue, we had also to look to another great consideration, which was, the very strong feeling which I believed existed both at home and in foreign countries that no ministry could exist in the country, and that no reformed House would consent to lay direct taxation on the people. This opinion existed to a very great extent, not merely among hon. 484 Gentlemen opposite, but also among many of my own political friends. It appeared to me of the utmost importance that both friends as well as enemies should learn that whatever party might be in power— whatever might be the change in the representative system, there existed in the country a determination to find resources to keep up the public faith, and to protect the honour and the interests of the country, and I, therefore, not so much as a financier, as with a view to the real general interests of England, resolved at once to bring forward a proposition that should be in the nature of direct taxation, in order that what would be the most serious calamity might not attach to the country. It was all very well to attack the motives or the policy of that course now; but what was the result? The vessel had answered the helm, and no Minister need again fear that the country will not answer the appeal now frankly and necessarily made to it; but when I came a second time to consider the subject— when I found that I was again called upon to have recourse to the country to raise additional means, in order to meet the public expenditure, relieved as I then was from the weighty considerations which had pressed upon me on the former occasion, in conjunction with my Colleagues, I resolved upon the course which I have since recommended to the House. I was not unprepared for the opposition which I was to meet. But while hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite attack the proposition of the Government, they neglect to offer any other in lieu of it. Indeed, it is impossible exactly to find out what their opinions really are. It is admitted on all hands, even by themselves, that a great commercial crisis has arrived— that it is the duty, not only of the Government, but of the House also, to provide some mode by which to meet that difficulty. I have ventured to propose a means by which the deficient revenue can be raised — which avoids imposing additional burthens on the over-taxed people of this country. I have proposed the adoption of a scheme which does not exclusively pay attention to the interests and rights of particular classes, but points to the general interests of the community. That scheme has been opposed by an immediate junction of interests, but I am surely entitled to ask, if I am wrong, and if my proposi- 485 tion is not adopted, what course are you prepared to pursue in lieu of it? I can very well see, from the course which the debate has taken up to this time, that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will shrink from giving an answer to this question. But this has not been the course in other times. When Mr. Huskisson was in the House, though not in the Ministry, and he disapproved of the financial measures of the then existing ministry, he had the manliness and straightforwardness to state, not indeed the particular measures which he would be prepared to propose, but the general line of commercial policy which he thought ought to be pursued. When Lord Spencer, in a small and at that time hopeless minority, opposed the Government of the day on the financial measures, he stated, the course which he would be prepared to pursue, and there was no shrinking or concealment in him. When my noble relation, Lord Ashburton, year after year made his comments on the financial affairs of the country he stated, to do him justice, boldly and openly his opinions. But the question of the Budget has now been a week under discussion. There exists in this House a great party who opposes it; yet I defy any one, whether friend or foe, to tell what the principles of the opposite party are on this subject. I defy them to show, from their speeches, what their opinions are. They have carefully avoided the general subject. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Stamford, indeed, did enter largely into the finances of the country, and talked a great deal about them— probably looking to some position which he was to hold in the embryo government. For one whole hour he talked, mingling together the Sugar Duties, the Corn-laws, and the Post-office, and disturbing causes, and moral friction; yet, during the whole hour in which it was my misfortune to hear him, such was the ingenuity with which he compounded his address, that no one decided view or opinion could be gleaned from it. If in one sentence you thought you had caught a glimpse of meaning, in the next he left a loop-hole out of which he could slip. And so with all the hon. Gentlemen opposite who had spoken on the subject. I can well understand how these tactics suit hon. Gentlemen opposite, for the purpose of keeping united the power- 486 ful party that are now opposed to these propositions. This policy of concealment has so far succeeded that no hon. Member can possibly tell what will be their course if they were to come into office. It left them the opportunity of hereafter adopting any course which might seem fit. But this course was not the old course of proceeding, and I do not believe it will answer, in the long run, with the people of England. The mode in which it has been usual to carry on the public service has been for both parties to lay their principles before the country, and leave the country to approve of the one set of principles or the other. I have been taunted by the hon. Gentleman opposite with being a plain-spoken man. Whether that was intended as a sneer or a compliment, I cannot return it in either sense. I ask from hon. Gentlemen opposite not that kind of information which was wrung from me last year, to the inconvenience of the public service— not particular details, but the general course which they are prepared to adopt. It is the duty of the House to provide for the public service, and I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite in what mode they would perform that duty. I do not call on them to specify the actual taxes they would propose, but the general course of policy. Are they prepared to have recourse to additional direct taxation to make up the public revenue if they reject my motion? I have proposed to raise the means for the public service without laying additional burthens on the people of this country— if you oppose me, are you prepared to assert a further taxation. I propose to open new markets to the industry and trade of the country— if you oppose me, are you prepared to lay down principles which will for ever take away all hopes for the manufacturing interest. I propose to open the doors to commercial intercourse with foreign countries, and to bind them to us by ties of mutual interest and advantage, stronger than all the ties which my noble Friend can create by the parchment and seals of treaties. If you oppose me, will you tell foreign powers, that you will insist on their receiving your goods, but theirs you will not receive. Upon what principles are you prepared to ride into office? I feel sure — I see I shall get no answer. The right hon. Baronet will, as usual, make an able and intelligent speech, but he is never more able than when he avoids ex- 487 pressing his opinions. Even the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, who could not be accused of showing any of the peculiar caution of the right hon. Baronet, had not advanced one single proposition, or, if he had done so in the one sentence, had taken especial care to withdraw or neutralize it in the next. However this may be, I feel perfectly confident that all these propositions and principles must, at a future and no distant period, govern the financial system of this country. I am not ashamed, I do not for a moment regret that I have laid these propositions openly and at once before the country for its adoption, and whether the country shall be of opinion that those who had brought forward these propositions should carry them into execution, or whether, on the contrary, the country should think that the execution of them ought to pass into other hands— whether you will follow the course which we have proposed, or prefer the policy, the honest, noble, and generous policy pointed out by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, not attacking these questions of monopoly in a body, but attacking them one by one; whether I shall contrive to carry them, or whether, sitting on the opposite benches, I shall have to support these measures one by one, and to hear the taunts addressed to those who, having collected and blended together these single interests, to give battle to a Government to which they were opposed, would, when they had used them, fling them aside one by one, was to him a matter of comparative indifference.
§ Debate again adjourned.