HC Deb 08 February 1842 vol 60 cc150-65
On the motion of Mr. Gladstone

, the House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Acts relative to the Customs Duties now levied on importations into the British Possessions in America and the Mauritius.

Mr. Gladstone

said, in introducing to the notice of the Committee, or, he should rather have said, on re-introducing to the notice of the Committee a subject of considerable importance, it was a great satisfaction to him to think that he should not have to trouble them at any considerable length by the detail of the main grounds of the proposition which he had to make. It would be in the recollection of all those who heard him that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late President of the Board of Trade, had twelve months ago introduced a plan to the House for the purpose of relieving the American colonies from the weight of duties now levied on them under the authority of the Imperial Parliament; and it would be in the recollection of the House that the plan was generally welcomed by the House in its details. It would, therefore, be ill-judged in him to go over at any great length the details of a subject on which the right hon. Gentleman had then dilated with great ability, and in a manner superior to any to which he (Mr. Gladstone) could pretend. He should content himself with stating the general grounds of the bill, and referring to the main propositions which he intended to bring forward. That right hon. Gentleman had shown that the colonial system as it existed between this country and its dependencies was one of extreme strictness in a commercial sense. The relaxation of the late system had commenced sixty years ago, and since the peace in 1815 material changes had been effected in the policy of the commercial system of the colonies. In the year 1822, under the present Lord Ripon, then Mr. Robinson, and again in the year 1825, under the lamented Mr. Huskisson, measures were introduced into the British Parliament, the general effect of which was to substitute protective duties for the prohibitory duties before levied. Although this had been done, and although the result had been, so far as it went, satisfactory, and although the apprehensions of those who opposed that measure had been proved to be unfounded, yet the duties which were still leviable by authority of the Imperial Parliament were fixed at rates which could not be justified either with regard to the interests of the revenues of the colonies themselves, or with regard to the principles laid down by Parliament with respect to its colonial legislation; and in certain cases the operation of the system, as it at present stood on the statute-book, was extremely onerous. He did not think that, saving one or more exceptions, there were any hon. Members who were prepared to object to the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. But if there were alarm existing in any quarter on this subject, he must refer to an illustration which that right hon. Gentleman had used—to the example of our eastern colonies. While we had a system of severe taxation, and almost of prohibition, in our colonies in the West, the Crown, acting under the authority of Parliament, had applied to our eastern possessions, and to the mighty empire of India, principles completely different from those which had been applied to our colonies in the western hemisphere. He was not exactly aware whether the same line of policy was pursued in those countries under the rule of the East India Company, although he believed that such was the case; but he believed that there was not a single case with respect to our eastern colonies in which any differential duty amounting to more than 4, 5, 6, or 7 per cent. was levied for the purpose of protecting British manufactures. When they considered that this had long been the case, and when they considered that it was really impossible to say whether our trade with our eastern or with our western colonies was the most valuable to the mother country,—of such invaluable importance were both,—he thought it would be believed that he had stated sufficient to quell the apprehensions of those who considered it necessary, on account of British interests, that the present rate of duties should be levied in our Western possessions, and that they could not fail to arrive at the conviction that their apprehensions were altogether groundless. At the time when the right hon. Gentleman introduced his measure before Parliament last year, as it was a measure which referred to a great variety of interests, and to places situated at distances so remote, it was to be expected that some Gentlemen would feel that there was a difficulty in submitting propositions of a general nature to Parliament, intended to affect distant dependencies, without having some means of ascertaining how those provisions would be welcomed by the people of those dependencies. For that reason, he considered it a happy circumstance, that the measure had not passed into a law last year, because, from the time which bad elapsed, the bearing of those measures had become known in our colonies, in the West Indies, and North America, and were generally approved of by their inhabitants. The right hon. Gentleman, in bringing forward the measure last year had said he brought it forward on its own merits, and on that ground he asked the sanction of the House, so far as regarded English interests, which might be supposed to be prejudicially affected by the measures proposed. The right hon. Gentleman himself, who was at that time at the head of the Board of Trade, and who had, consequently, the best opportunities of being acquainted with public feeling on the subject, had stated in a subsequent discussion, that the measure he had proposed, received a larger share of approbation from the general commercial interests of the country, than any measure that bad ever been proposed. He was not going to dispute any of the principles which the right hon. Gentleman then propounded; but, on the contrary, to recommend to the committee the application to a somewhat larger extent, of certain of those principles. He thought, that the right hon. Gentleman had shown, by undeniable authority, that he was treading in the course which had been taken by those before him. The right hon. Gentleman had not trusted merely to speculative reasoning, he had been able to point to what had been already done in commercial relaxation; and, on those grounds, he also asked for the support of the House. He was further disposed to take this course, because he thought, that in the time which had elapsed since the plan of the right hon, Gentleman had been laid on the Table of1 the House, no disposition had been shown shown in any quarter to anticipate injury either to British or colonial interests from any portion of that plan. Another reason had swayed his mind to ask the House to go even beyond the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. If the condition of the West-Indian producer of sugar had been such, twelve months ago, as to render it desirable, that he should be relieved from the restrictions to which he was subjected, much more desirable was it, that he should be relieved at the present time; for although that House was naturally and properly disposed. to distrust all complaints of commercial distress, yet there never was a more real or severe case of distress on the part of any producers of commodities for any British market than that now experienced—he would not say by the East-Indian planter, nor by the cultivator in the Mauritius,—but by the absentee proprietor of estates in the West Indies, a class that he admitted it was most desirable to diminish. Nothing could give the West Indies so fair a prospect of maintaining competition with other portions of the world (if they should ever be exposed to competition), as the transfer of the estates in those colonies from absentee proprietors to either resident proprietors or a resident tenantry. But, without going into these unnecessary details, he would only state, that the distress of the West-India proprietors was very severe, and that they they were subjected to restrictions in supplying themselves with necessary productions, to which other colonists were not subjected. It was most imperative on the House of Commons to afford every relief for the removal of those restrictions. The proposition which he was to simplify the existing laws in that respect. The 3rd and 4th of William 4th, c. 59, was, in point of fact, a simplification of previous laws on this subject; but there were, also, some previous laws on the statute-book, which had introduced some degree of complication into its application and practice; and he believed it would be a convenient course to all the parties concerned, if it were practicable to repeal the acts which had reference to this subject. and to substitute a single and consolidated act. Now, with respect to the changes he was about to propose. He would speak first of these changes which were new in their character, and which were not supported by the precedent of last year. He should propose to the committee to abolish all duties which were at present leviable in the colonies upon articles being the produce of Great Britain. The principal imposition of that kind at present existing was a duty on spirits, and he proposed its abolition, not because it was not desirable that spirits should be taxed, but because he confessed, that it appeared to him, that their taxation, under the authority of the Imperial Parliament, was not in itself necessary, and was scarcely compatible with the promises held out in the Declaration Act of 1778. In that act the Imperial Parliament gave a promise to the colonies that:— The King and Parliament of Great Britain will not impose any duty, tax, or assessment whatever, payable in any of his Majesty's colonies, provinces, and plantations in North America or the West Indies, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce. Now he did not think, that any duty which was imposed upon all articles alike in the colonies, or any duty imposed upon articles of British growth, could be fairly said to fall within the terms of a duty for the regulation of commerce. It appeared to him to belong to the class of revenue duties, and, as such, he must consider it to fall more properly under the cognizance of the colonies themselves. It was true, that with respect to Canada and Newfoundland, there were considerable sums at present levied by imperial taxation upon British goods and spirits; and, lest any inconvenience should arise from the sudden removal of those duties by the Imperial Parliament, he proposed to fix the day for the commencement of the operation of the act in North America at such a period, as should afford ample time for the adjustment of that subject, and as would enable the colonies to make such provisions in reference to it as might seem proper to themselves. He therefore asked the assent of the committee to this portion of the plan, on the ground, that it afforded them an opportunity, with practical convenience, of giving more full and striking application to a principle which they had long adopted—that of rendering to our colonial fellow-subjects another of those acts of goodwill to which alone he believed they were to look for cementing the connexion between the colonies and the mother country. There was another change in the present tenour of the law which he proposed to make, which was founded on the same principle. It was to this effect: Under the existing law, certain articles not being the produce or growth of the United Kingdom are free, and all other unenumerated articles are subjected to a duty of 15 per cent. ad valorem. Now, it appeared to him, that with respect to foreign articles, which in no degree or manner competed with British productions, any taxation levied on them by the authority of the Imperial Parliament was strictly a taxation for revenue, and could not be called in any way a taxation for the regulation of commerce. There are a great multitude of those articles which appeared in the schedule of the present Possessions Act. Now, it appeared to him, that it would be the most convenient course for Parliament to pursue, and a course most likely to be satisfactory to the colonies, that it should, instead of taxing all articles whatever, not being of British growth, produce, or manufacture, on their introduction into the colonies, select such of them as it might deem necessary to tax for the regulation of commerce, and, that it should be provided, that the importation of all other articles into the British colonies should be left free, as far as respected the authority of the Imperial Parliament. He should also say, that there would be a necessity for naming a distant day upon which any act on this subject should come into operation—a necessity which he believed would be equally felt, even if the provisions which he had mentioned had not been introduced. Even at this moment hon. Gentlemen were aware, that the Customs' establishments in many of the colonies were a source of positive expense to this country, and he therefore took this opportunity of informing the committee, that it was the intention of the Board of Trade to call the attention of the other departments of the Government to this circumstance, and to the anomaly of having two sets of Customhouse officers in those colonies, to the waste of public money arising from the system, and to the necessity for an arrangement with a view to the consolidation of the establishment, and the consequent saving of expense. If the committee should approve of the general frame of the measure he proposed to introduce, he hoped it would also be possible to get rid of (with one exception) certain special exemptions from duties on imports into particular colonies which now appeared upon the statute-book. The necessity for those exemptions was in a great degree done away with by the removal generally (as he had already stated) of the corresponding duties from which they were exempted. The principal exemption he proposed to remove was the exemption from duty on corn, wheat, flour, and salt meat, on their importation into the Canadas. He believed it was in conformity with the desire of the people of Canada, that some tax of a moderate description should be imposed on the importation into that colony of American corn and flour. He believed, that on the American side of the border, a very considerable import tax, amounting to nearly 10s. per quarter, was levied on the produce of Canada entering the United States. Of course he did not intend to impose any such rate of duty—the duty he meant to propose would be 3s. per quarter. The view he thought on which provisions coming into Canada from the United States should be subject to a duty imposed by the authority of the Imperial Parliament was, in fact, that Canada sent to this country considerable quantities of grain and flour, and he was happy to say, Canada showed indications of sending over still greater quantities, so soon as her natural capabilities were developed by the fostering influence of peace and of wise local legislation. On this account the only articles to which he meant to apply the duty were those he had mentioned. The theory of the law was to afford an advantage to Canadian produce on being sent to the British market and it seemed to him desirable that when this country sent forth thousands of Englishmen to North America as emigrants, the Imperial Legislature ought not to allow those who emigrated to, and became citizens of the United States, to put themselves in possession of a privilege intended only for British subjects—a privilege the American settlers could now acquire by sending their produce and provisions through Canada to this country. Those portions of the United States from which such produce proceeded were those bordering on the lakes, and the farmer there might make his produce appear in the British market as Canadian produce, by sending it through Canada, with as much convenience as he could transmit it to New York, or any other shipping port of the United States. Hence it was, that he proposed really to effect the distinction which Parliament had originally intended between Canadian and American produce. He would now state to the committee what were the resolutions which he intended to submit for their consideration. The first resolution was a resolution repealing all existing duties—the second went to impose new duties in their stead—the third and fourth provided that those duties should be in addition to the duty leviable under colonial enactments—the fifth regulated the exemption from duties of articles for the use of the British fisheries; the sixth gave, according to the provisions of the bill introduced last year by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to the produce of the Channel Islands the same facilities as to the produce of Great Britain; and the seventh was a resolution declaring that it was expedient to bring in and pass a Consolidated Possessions Act. With respect to the article of wood, he thought, in the first place, it was unfortunate that the British colonies should be placed in the condition in which they stood, in consequence of having to pay a considerable impost on the importation of that raw material, which was so important, not only with a view to the comforts of the people, but to the encouragement of their industry. But, moreover, let him remind the committee that, in point of fact, the tax now levied in the West-Indian colonies on wood was a direct addition to the price which the British consumer now paid for sugar, and, therefore, the relief he in this respect proposed would be a relief more in favour of the British consumer than in favour of the West-India grower. From anything which had transpired since the proposition to reduce the duty on wood was first made, he did not think there was any reason to apprehend that the colonial interests would be affected even by the entire removal; and, as such was the case, he asked the committee with great confidence to consent to their removal altogether. He would now read to the committee the schedule, one of rated, and the other of ad valorem duties, which would be imposed by the resolution which he should have the honour of submitting to the committee. The first schedule was that of rated duties, and the first duty he imposed was on wheat (hitherto free), 3s. per quarter; next, wheat flour, 2s. per barrel, of 196lb; next, on fish, dried or salted, 2s. per cwt.; then upon fish pickled, 4s. per barrel, and salted meat, 3s. per cwt. All these duties were somewhat reduced below those fixed by the measure introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite last year. He next proposed to fix a duty on butter of 8s. per cwt., and on cheese of 5s. per cwt., and he did so in con- sequence of the fact that these commodities had become material articles of export from the North American colonies to this country. He ought also to mention that these rated duties were in a trifling degree higher than the duties which the right lion. Gentleman opposite had proposed last year. On coffee he proposed to fix a duty of 5s. per cwt., the same as was levied at present; on cocoa 3s. per cwt., at present it is 5s.; on molasses 3s. per cwt., the same as at present; and on unrefined sugar, 5s. per cwt., the same as at present. He then came to the article of tea, upon which he intended to fix a different duty from that proposed last year—that was to say, he intended to make it a differential duty, leviable in a similar way to that about to be levied on other articles. Unless tea was imported into the colonies direct from China, or from the United Kingdom, or from any other British possession, he proposed to lay a duty on that article of 1d. per pound. A point arose here which it was necessary for him to notice, in connexion with the discussion which last year had taken place on this subject. At present the importation of tea into Canada from the United States was prohibited, and the importation of tea into Canada in a legal way subjected that commodity at present to a duty of 3d. per pound. Now, the effect of removing the prohibition (which he had stated) without qualification would be, that tea imported into Canada would be liable to a duty of 4d. per pound, which would afford a high premium for smuggling. He thought last year it had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that it was computed that no less than three-fourths of the whole amount of tea consumed in Upper Canada was smuggled into that province, and, therefore, to make this particular provision apply to Upper Canada would rather aggravate than reduce the evil. He, therefore, proposed to provide for this case by a separate clause in the bill to be introduced, postponing the operation of that enactment until the Legislature of Canada should have had time to take the subject into consideration, and to lower the duty on tea legally imported now levied under colonial statutes. The next article with respect to which he proposed to legislate was that of spirits, and be proposed to leave the tax on foreign spirits precisely as it stood now—6d. per gallon on rum, and 1s. on other spirits. The effect of this would be to leave the whole question of the duty which ought to be levied on spirits entirely for the consideration of the provincial legislatures, instead of the present rather complicated manner, in which more than than one British duty was, under the Possessions Act, and by other anterior statutes, imposed. These were the whole of the rated duties which he proposed to submit to the consideration of the committee, and and he would now at once proceed to the schedule of ad valorem duties. Before he did so, be must, however, mention that he was not aware he had omitted any one article, to which a special rate of duty ought to be applied; but of course it would be competent to those who were disposed to claim the benefit of qualified and modified protection to British articles, to urge upon the Government those claims for the insertion of those particular articles in the schedule. The first article mentioned in the schedule of ad valorem duties was the article of sugar refined in bond in the United Kingdom, on which be proposed to fix the duty the same as now—viz. at 10 per cent. ad valorem, and upon other foreign refined sugar a duty (as at present) of 20 per cent. ad valorem. At present sugar refined in bond enjoyed an exemption from duty, while in the Canadas that exemption was defeated by the accidental structure of the law. The Canadian Legislature had levied a duty of 1d. per pound on all refined sugar, whatever might be the tax imposed by the Imperial Parliament. Now, the ad valorem duty of 20 per cent. would be equivalent to the duty of 1d. per pound, but still there was no provision in the act of the Imperial Parliament to the effect that the duty on foreign refined sugar should be in addition to the duty leviable on sugar refined in this country. The effect of this was, that it at present was a case of hardship upon the British refiners of sugar in bond. He should not feel justified in giving new advantages to the British refiners which they had not a fair right to enjoy, but it was perfectly evident that this preference was meant by the Legislature to apply to them, while in point of fact it did not so apply. He now came to a list of articles which would be specified in the second schedule, and upon which he proposed to fix an ad valorem duty of seven per cent.—the same as had been provided in the bill of last year. Those articles were as follows—wine, whether bottled or not, cotton manufactures, silk manufactures, linen manufactures, woollen manufactures, leather manufactures, glass manufactures, paper manufactures, hardware, clocks and watches, manufactured tobacco, soap, corks, cordage and oakum, pitch, tar, and turpentine. On all these articles he proposed to fix an ad valorem duty of seven per cent. There was one other class of articles, the produce of the North American colonies, with respect to which he intended to make a change. The articles of oil, blubber, furs, and skins, the produce of creatures living in the sea, were contained in the tables of the Prohibitory Act. He proposed to remove the prohibition with respect to those articles, and to substitute, in consideration of the value and importance of the fisheries, on maritime grounds, an ad valorem duty of fifteen per cent. He had now gone through the subject, and had only to apologise for the inefficient manner in which he had introduced it to the committee. He entertained hopes that no topic connected with the subject could be open to serious dispute, and lie was confident that the measure he had to introduce would be hailed by the colonies as a measure of goodwill on the part of the Imperial Parliament, and, therefore, both on commercial and national grounds, he ventured to recommend it to the favourable consideration of the committee. With these observations, he would put the first resolution in the hands of the Chairman.

The Chairman put the resolution as follows:— That from and after a day or days to be named, the duties chargeable upon goods, wares, or merchandize, imported or brought into any of the British possessions in America, or the Mauritius, under or by virtue of the following Acts respectively, namely: Act 4 Geo. 3, c. 15, imposing certain duties on wines imported into the British possessions in America; Act 6 Geo. 3, c. 52, imposing certain duties on molasses, syrups, and pimento, imported into the British possessions in America; Act 14 Geo. 3, c. 88, imposing certain duties on spirits imported into Canada; Act 3 & 4 Will. 4, c. 59, for regulating the trade of the British possessions abroad, shall cease and be repealed.

Mr. Labouchere

said, he had listened to the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down with great, and he might add, with almost unalloyed satisfaction. The bill which was now about to be introduced, was founded on the same principles as the measure which he had had the honour of proposing in the last Session of Parliament. And he could assure the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, that though he had not had the good fortune to bring the measure he had submitted to Parliament to a success- ful termination, still he retained for it the solicitude and affection of a parent, and any humble assistance he could render would be cheerfully given to the right hon. Gentleman opposite to pass the present proposed measure into a law. He was free to confess that, so far as he had been able to follow the right hon. Gentleman through his statement, the alterations which he had made, upon the proposition he had made last year, were improvements. The time which had since elapsed had, of course, enabled the right hon. Gentleman to make them; but, at the same time, he must reserve his opinion upon some of those alterations until he saw them in print, and had an opportunity of considering them. At present, he believed, he repeated, the proposed alterations to be improvements. The most important of the alterations seemed to him to be the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the flour of the United States imported across the border. He trusted there was no intention on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to ask Parliament to interfere to prevent the free importation from the United States into Canada of wheat and flour, unless the Canadian Legislature should order otherwise. It was unnecessary for him to enter at any length on this subject. He retained the opinions he had urged in the last Parliament, and he considered the proposed measure as of the utmost importance—as a measure of justice to the colonies. He continued also in the opinion quoted tonight, that let Parliament take what course it liked, with regard to other alterations in our Tariff, after the advantages it had bestowed upon the East Indies, it was but an act of common justice now to relieve the West Indies from those burthens to which under Parliamentary enactments they were now subject, and to which the Crown had never exposed the East Indies or Australia. He repeated, that he retained this opinion, but at the same time he rejoiced to see this measure again brought forward, because he could not disguise from himself that it would greatly advance those important reforms with regard to the duties levied on colonial produce in this country, especially sugar and coffee, which the people demanded, and which the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, as it seemed to him, would greatly facilitate. He trusted that the House might take this measure as a harbinger and omen, that as the present Government had now shown that on deli- beration they were prepared to adopt the opinions of the late advisers of the Crown with respect to these duties—that having now done justice to the people of the colonies, they would proceed to do justice to the people of this country, and modify those duties on colonial produce which weighed so heavily on the people of this country. As an opportunity would occur in future for discussing the measure, after time for deliberation, he did not know that he need at present trespass further on the attention of the House. He thought the principles of the right hon. Gentleman's plan sound and just, and he heartily hoped that no opposition would be offered to those principles. If any opposition should be offered from any quarter any humble assistance in his power to give, the right hon. Gentleman might rely upon it should be freely given to overcome that opposition.

Mr. G. Palmer

desired not to be supposed to have made any change in his opinions in consequence of having changed his side of the House, and he hoped that those who now hailed this measure would well consider the consequences which were likely to ensue from it. Seeing that it was the very same measure as that which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had last year brought forward he could not, as at present advised, give it his approval,

Lord J. Russell

said, that although upon the whole he was quite well pleased with the measure now brought forward, he certainly should not think it necessary to defend the Government against their own supporters were there not one point on which this measure differed materially from that proposed by the late Government last year, and which he thought it very material should be fully considered. At present there was a free trade between Canada and America. That was much objected to by the agricultural party in Canada. Now he, both as to Canada and as to this country, thought that free admission of flour was a very great benefit. But there was now an agricultural and landed interest in Upper Canada, which could state the same kind of burthens and the same kind of prescription for a number of years with the agricultural and landed class in this country as reasons against any interference with them. But if this country imposed restrictions on the introduction into Canada of flour from the United States, he was of opinion that the consequence would be the formation, in Canada, of a body favourable to free trade, which did not exist there at present, and which it might be found very difficult to meet with, encounter, and overcome. He knew that it might be said that flour so imported into Canada might come to this country, but he saw no great evil in that. On the other hand he thought that if the Canadian Legislature were to impose duties, it was probable that they would not find them effectual, because the province was so large that it would be very difficult to distinguish Canadian flour from that of the United States. What the right hon. Gentleman had stated on this point seemed to him as the right hon. Gentleman had stated it, to tend to establish a monopoly, which he should be very sorry to see established, and he hoped, therefore, that it would be maturely weighed before proceeding further. With respect to other parts of the measure, he was very glad to see that the objections which had been made last year by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn), the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, to this measure, as proposed by the late Government, and which he urged so forcibly and with so much effect, had been removed.

Sir C. Douglas

objected to the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere), that hon. Members of Conservative opinions were now supporting a measure which they last year opposed. To prove that such was not the case, he begged to read the following passage from a speech delivered by Mr. Henries, on the 5th of April, 1841, in the Committee on Mr. Labouchere's resolutions, modifying the colonial duties: There was no individual on either side desirous to keep up a rate of duty in any case for the sake of protection beyond what was indispensably necessary; and the object of all parties was to reduce protection to the lowest point, if the right hon. Gentleman proceeded upon that principle (and he trusted he would) he might be assured of receiving as hearty support from that (the opposition) side of the House as from the other, as nothing could be more in conformity with the opinion of those who trod in the steps of Mr. Huskisson. This being the avowal which had been made on the part of his hon. Friends when in opposition, be did not think it came well from the noble Lord that he should taunt them, as he had done, for adopting the measure of the late Ministry.

Sir R. Peel

entreated the House not to adopt any inference as to the future course of her Majesty's Government in consequence of the introduction of the present measure, but that it would wait until he should have an opportunity of explaining fully the intentions and propositions of the Government. He stated publicly in his place last year that notwithstanding the differences which existed between those who sat on the side of the House from which he spoke and her Majesty's then Government as to questions of commercial policy, he should give the measure introduced by the right hon. Member for Taunton his cordial support. The right hon. Gentleman, on the introduction of his bill, said, that he brought it forward as a claim of justice to the colonies, and for the protection of the commercial interests of the West Indies. He stated that there was no correspondent claim on the part of the East Indies; for, while they had admitted the produce of the East Indies to compete with that of the West Indies, they had not removed the peculiar burdens which pressed on the latter colonies; he therefore asked the House to put them on the same footing. The claim of the right hon. Gentleman was, that the measure should pass solely as one of justice, and independent of all other considerations; and he (Sir R. Peel) supported it on that ground, and should have continued to support it, if the right hon. Gentleman had proceeded with his bill on the simple grounds of its justice and its abstract merits. He trusted that the House would not attempt to draw inferences with respect to the other portions of the commercial policy of the Government from this measure, but that it would wait until the other measures were brought forward. He should to-morrow introduce one of the most important of them, and he would take the earliest opportunity of pursuing the same course with respect to others. He trusted that the harmony which had hitherto prevailed with respect to this subject would not be disturbed. He would only add, that he did not think that the noble Lord would taunt him with adopting all his views and measures when he had heard his propositions to relieve the country from the great financial embarrassments under which it now laboured.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

wished that some further information should be furnished to the House with respect to the importation of corn and flour from the United States into Canada. He understood that at present there was a duty of twenty-five per cent. levied in the United States on the importation of foreign corn, but there was no duty whatever on the importation of corn from the United States into Canada. At present this country, with the view of benefitting our colonies, admitted corn from thence at a duty of 5s. the quarter; but, by the present anomalous state of the law, the country gave the advantage of this privilege to the United States. He thought, therefore, that if ever there was a fair case for reciprocal restriction, this was it. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman, his proposition was to propose a duty of three shillings a quarter on corn and two shillings a barrel on flour introduced into Canada from the United States. He thought that this duty should be higher. He did not wish to increase the duty to an unnecessary extent, but they ought to take care that the object was fulfilled of putting an end to an illicit trade.

The Chairman to report progress.

The House resumed. Committee to sit again.

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