On the question that
On timber or wood, not being deals, battens, boards, staves, handspikes, oars, lath-wood, ufers, or other timber or wood, sawed, split, or otherwise dressed, except hewed, and not being timber or wood otherwise charged with duty the load of fifty cubic feet, the duty be 1l. 10s.
§ Mr. Roebuck
rose, to bring forward his motion for equalising the duties on foreign and colonial timber. The hon. and learned Member contended that the effect of the discriminating duty was to compel this 1281 country to pay a higher price for the inferior timber of North America than the superior timber of the north of Europe might be obtained for, were no such differential duty in existence. The loss sustained by this country on the article timber by the operation of the present law was not less than 2,000,000l. a-year, and this without any advantage to the revenue of this country, or to the Canadas, which it was designed to protect. By the adoption of a uniform duty of 20s., the revenue would be benefitted to a large amount. It was generally supposed, that the Canadas derived a great advantage from this trade in timber, and that it enabled the colonists to clear their estates, and so aided in the cultivation and improvement of the colony; but it was not so, for the timber exported from Canada to this country came not from the inhabited parts of the colony, but from the interior and distant wilds, and the trade in it was carried on by a class of persons, few in numbers, and who formed a race almost as distinct from the rest of the population as did the gipsies from the people of England; or perhaps, more like the navigators here. The timber hewn by these persons was floated down the rivers to the places of export, and it frequently happened that the greater part of it would be lost; in fact, it was mere lottery whether it arrived or not. The only parties who were at all benefitted by this trade were the merchants and importers. Much stress had been laid upon the importance of the carrying- trade of timber between the Canadas and this country, as fostering the navy of Great Britain; and it had been said, that as many as 40,000 seamen were engaged in the trade. That calculation, however, had been made upon the whole number of ships employed in the trade, supposing that they made but one voyage in the year; but those ships frequently made three voyages in the year. The average number of voyages was at least two in the year; the number of seamen, therefore, would be under 20,000 instead of 40,000. In the event of the cessation of the Canadian timber trade two-thirds of the vessels now engaged in that traffic would go into the Baltic trade, and he had no doubt that the alterations now in progress in the tariff would find employment for the remaining two-thirds; so that the loss to the shipping interest was utterly unworthy of consideration. The 1282 surest way to promote the naval efficiency of this country %was to make it a thriving mercantile community. It must also be borne in mind that the capital employed in the Canadian timber trade was all floating capital, with the exception, perhaps, of that invested in saw mills, which alone came under the denomination of fixed capital. Under these circumstances he begged leave to move,That the duties on colonial and foreign timber be rendered equal, and that the duty on both be 20s. per load.
§ Sir H. Douglas
said: Passing over the minor points, if there be any minor points, in the very clever speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, I proceed at once to the national points of the question, and which is nothing less than to attack the very principle of the colonial system, and reply in terms of manufactures consumed, shipping employed, emigration encouraged, commercial and maritime power, and all the other fruits of the colonial system, l shall apply myself first to the British North American trade, and then request the attention of the House to a few brief statements on the value and importance the increase and the certainty, of the colonial trade, compared with the foreign trade, and which contrast cannot but be useful when we see attempts made to depress, if not ruin, the former. In 1821 the British North American provinces, with a limited population, took of British manufactures and productions 1,141,000l.; in 1831, 2,089,000l.; in. 1840, 2,847,0001; and in 1341, about 3,000,000l. The population of British North America is about 1,300,000; they consume, consequently, per head, about 46s. The shipping employed in the British North American trade amounts to 2,461 ships, 841,348 tons, manned by 32,950 men; of this, about 600,000 tons are employed in the timber trade. The outward tonnage, in ballast chiefly, makes freight so cheap as to afford great facilities for emigration; but emigration depends upon the demand for labour in the provinces. That demand depends greatly upon the timber trade, and upon the impulse to agriculture and other industry, which the timber trade occasions. The well-being of the emigrants themselves requires that they be absorbed into the mass of employed labour; and, if any distress prevail, such as must attend that ruin to the timber trade which the equa- 1283 lization of the timber duties would occasion, there would not be immigration into the colonies from hence, but emigration from the colonies to the United States. The hon. and learned Member has stated that the timber trade is prejudicial to agriculture—that it is a curse to the country. In reply to this, I would first beg the attention of the House to the following extract of a letter from Mr. Buchanan, agent for emigrants in Canada, dated the 31st December, 1841, and which hon. Members will find in the printed papers lately laid before this House:—Unless there is great demand for labour, by extensive public works, or by ready markets for lumber, there is great distress.He then states the favourable and prosperous condition of those who settle in the Ottawa country, than which no portion of the province offers greater facilities or encouragement to the industrious emigrant:—This being the great lumbering depot of the country, the farmer is certain to find a ready sale and a good market at his door for all his surplus produce. To the poor but industrious labourer it presents a sure and certain field for employment at all seasons—a most important consideration, of which thousands of settlers throughout that section of the country are proofs.I shall next read a few extracts from a memorial of the lumberers and agriculturists residing in the central section of Canada:—That your memorialists viewing this as practical men, beg leave humbly to represent the results which would inevitably follow such a measure, viz.:—The present prosperous state of agriculture would receive an immediate check; for the only purchases of farm produce in these distant parts are the lumberers.Emigration, which is now so much required, would receive an immediate check; for the lumberers, as it is well known, both on the rivers St. Lawrence and Ottawa, have been the pioneers of the agriculturists, and the ships which carry home the timber form, as it were, a bridge for the surplus and destitute population of England migrating to her colonies, and forming an arm of strength in her transatlantic dominions.The addresses and petitions lately made and presented from all parts of British North America state that the wood trade, the staple of the country, encourages settlement and cultivation, by affording to the agriculturist a ready and convenient market for the produce of his labour. I 1284 shall now only read an extract of a letter from a well-known and experienced person, Mr. Charles Shirreff, whose evidence upon the subject is quite conclusive:—Upon the strength of this trade being protected and continued as a market for produce, settlements have extended 250 miles up the Ottawa on its banks, and for a considerable distance into the districts.But extensive and important as that section of the country is, it is still in its infancy, and not yet within reach of any general market, so that if deprived of this prop, it must sink, and its prospects of future prosperity must vanish, for without the immediate market produced by the timber trade, it would be no longer a field so inviting for emigrants.The hon. Member opposite proposes to equalize the duty on foreign and colonial timber—that is, to release the British consumer of the colonial production, from buying from him, and, in short, allowing the British consumer to buy cheap, wherever he can find the article cheapest, without regard to the country of origin, growth, or production. The hon. Member applies this, by the present and his late motion, to timber and sugar. Other hon. Members apply this maxim of free-trade to other articles; and the free traders in general assert it with respect to all. Now, if, as a concession to price, the British consumer of colonial productions be released from the necessity of dealing with the colonial producer, then the colonists must be released from the reciprocal obligation of buying British manufactures and productions; but this is the essential principle of the colonial system. Adam Smith, who has been badly read upon this subject, states that:In compensation for the restrictions laid by the British Parliament on the colonial trade it gives, in return, preference and protection to colonial production in the home market, by imposing higher duties upon analogous productions from foreign countries.We cannot withdraw any part of that protection, without depriving the colonies of the compensation which is, in fact, the essential principle of the colonial system, and subvert and destroy the colonial empire. Adam Smith says, that the colonial trade opens fresh markets for manufactured productions. Abounding in the rude produce of land, and having few hands to spare for the necessary, and none for the ornamental manufactures, the colonies find it cheaper to purchase, than to make them. Encouraging the manu- 1285 factures of Great Britain by these demands, the colonial trade encourages indirectly the agriculture of Great Britain likewise, since the manufacturers to whom that trade gives employment, constitute new markets for the productions of the land; and those are the most advantageous of all markets in which the home demand for corn, and cattle, bread, and butchers' meat, are thus greatly extended by means of the colonial trade. The East Indies took, of British manufactures and productions, in 1821, 4,151,000l. In 1831, it fell to 3,377,000l. This was the result of throwing open the China trade, which, in 1836, was 1,326,000l., and in 1840, only 525,000l.; but our exports to India rose, in 1840, to 6,023.000l. The British shipping now employed in the East India trade, is 288 ships, 137,883 tons, 7,583 men. And why this increase in our exports? Why, because we take more of their productions. In 1834, we took 50,522 bales of their cottons; in 1841, we took 150,000; in 1836, in consequence of the equalization of the duties, we took 171,758 cwt. of their sugar; in 1841, 1,223,079 cwt. Rice and paddy, too, have greatly increased. In 1821, the West Indies took 4,320,000l. of British manufactures and productions. In 1831, it fell off to 2,581,000l.—this was the consequence of the emancipation. I speak of that measure with all respect, but we certainly have indulged our humanity at the cost of the West India interests, and, for this reason, we are bound to protect those interests, until we carry out to success the great experiment of not only emancipating the negro, but also of civilizing him, and making free negro labour productive. The shipping employed in the West India trade is 697 ships, 181,731 tons, 9,880 men. Australia took of British goods, in 1821, 126,114l.; in 1831, 2,581,949l.; and in 1840, 3,574,970l. The total value of British manufactures and productions exported to all the colonies, in 1831, was 9,773,412l.; in 1840,itrose to 17,499,824l. employing 6,742 ships, 1,443,000 tons, 72,000 men. Now, proceeding to the foreign trade. The United States took of British manufactures and productions, in 1831, 9,053,583l.; in 1836,12,425,605l.; in 1840, our exports fell off to 5,283,020l. The population of the United States is 17,000,000, they consumed, in 1836, 14s. 6d. per head of British goods, and in 1286 1840, about 6s. per head. Taking the United States official tables, it appears, that their imports from the United Kingdom and exports to the United Kingdom were in—
Of which 54,000,000 was domestic produce. The shipping employed in the trade between the United Kingdom and the United States, in 1840, was, of British ships, 360, 180,000 tons, 7,329 men; whilst of United States ships, there were 839 ships, 409,000 tons, 14,791 men ! Contrast this with the British North American trade, 2,461 British ships, three-fourths of which the hon. and learned Member's motion would throw out of employment. Thus, there is a great decrease of commercial intercourse, so far as this depends upon them with the United States. Let us see whether this diminution in our exports to that country is likely further to diminish or otherwise. I ventured to state to the House, some time ago, my conviction that whatever we might have done, or may yet do, the United States would not relax, far less abolish, their protective system. I showed by extracts from the speeches of all the Presidents, from Washington to Van Buren, that the protective system would be steadily adhered to. I beg now to call the attention of the House to the recommendation of the present President upon this subject:—
Imports from the United Kingdom Dollars. Exports to the United Kingdom Dollars. 1837 44,886,000 54,583,000 1838 44,867,000 52,179,000 1839 65,964,000 47,069,000 1840 33,737,000 59,317,000The diminution in the revenue, arising from the great diminution of duties, under what is called the Compromise Act, necessarily involves the Treasury in embarrassments, which have been for some years palliated by the temporary expedient of issuing Treasury notes—an expedient which, affording no permanent relief, has imposed upon Congress, from time to time, the necessity of replacing the old by a new issue.The contemplated revision of the tariff duties may, and doubtless will lead, in the end, to a relief of the Treasury from these constantly recurring embarrassments.In compliance with this recommendation, certain resolutions were moved by Mr. Clay, of which I shall only mention the 3rd and 4th:—3rd, Resolved, therefore, that the rates of du- 1287 ties on foreign imports ought to be augmented beyond the rate of 20 per cent, so as to produce a net revenue of 26,000,000 dollars, 22,000,000 dollars, for the ordinary expenses of Government, 2,000.000 dollars for the payment of the existing debt, and 2,000,000 dollars as a reserved fund for contingencies.4th, Resolved, that in the adjustment of a tariff, to raise an amount of 60,000,000 dollars of revenue, the principles of the Compromise Act generally should be adhered to, and that especially a maximum rate of ad valorem duties should be established, from which there ought to be as little departure as possible.These having been adopted, a tariff bill has been reported, increasing enormously the duties upon all importations, and which will certainly act very restrictively, if not prohibitively, on those of the United King dom. I wish the House would permit me to read an extract from Mr. Clay's speech in moving these resolutions, it will show how little we have to rely on the assertions that have been made, and expectations entertained here, as to the Americans abandoning their protective system:—I contend, with entire confidence, that it is perfectly consistent with the provisions of the Compromise Act to impose duties to any amount whatever, 30, 40, or more per cent on imports, subject only to the condition of an economical administration of the Government. We have tried free-trade—we have listened to its advocates—that it would remedy the sad picture of fields abandoned, houses dilapidated, overseers turning masters, and masters overseers, general stagnations, and approaching ruins. Those gentlemen cried out to us, abolish your tariff of duties on importations, reduce your revenue to the standard of an economical Government, and all those evils will disappear; you will have augmented prices for your staples, contentment and happiness will be restored to a distressed people. Well, we did reduce the tariff. After nine years of protection, we have had nine years of descending tariff and free-trade. I am not going into abstractions and metaphysics, but two leading facts have been established—namely, that a high tariff did not put down the prices of staple commodities, and a low tariff and free-trade have not been able to save them from depression.These are facts that casuists and the advocates of a one-sided paralytical free-trade cannot controvert, say what they like in favour of free-trade, by which we turn our sound side to the world, and our blighted and paralytic side towards our own people.Now, this is just what free-trade would do here. It would blight our home market, destroy our colonial markets, and play into the hands of rivals who abjure the theory, 1288 and abandon its practice. The following is an extract of the reply of Mr. Clay to an address presented to him, conveying the strongest expression of their thanks for his advocacy of the American system and for having proposed the resolutions:—Those nations which make the nearest approach to free-trade are in the least prosperous state. During the last nine years, about half of our importations have been duty free; and the other half, a descending scale has been progressive. If there were any truth in free-trade, our country ought at this time to be in the enjoyment of vast prosperity ! But directly the reverse is our melancholy condition. Never were the productions of agriculture selling at more discouraging prices; and have been so highly benefitted by a reduction of duties, is now selling at ruinous prices. We shall not rise from our present embarrassed position until we produce, within our own country, more of the supplies necessary to consumption, and depend less on foreign countries, by a tariff properly adjusted to stimulate production at home, and to diminish importations from abroad.Now, with respect to France. In 1839, France took from the United Kingdom, of raw materials necessary for her arts and manufactures, 2,168,513l.; of articles in a manufactured state 1,565,757; of British manufactures for consumption, only 570,357; whilst we, in that year, took from France raw produce of the value of 2,173,147l., and of her manufactures we took 2,002,847l., and we actually remitted in specie 3,055,838l. sterling! Then the trade in linen yarns and linen manufactures, of which we exported, in 1840, to the amount of 13,137,3671bs. weight, of the value of 629,533l, sterling, or more than one-fourth of our exports to France. Let me appeal to a late measure of the French government, increasing vastly the duties on this, to show what prospects there are of our trade with France becoming more valuable. Examining the commercial intercourse between France and the United States, it appears that France inclines most to increase her commercial intercourse with that country. The trade with the United States is more valuable to France than ours is, upon the footing which she, not we, have placed it, and that of France is very valuable to the United States—and both unquestionably are actuated by commercial rivalry and maritime ambition with destroy our colonial markets, and play into respect to this country. We see on the one hand an enormous increase of their 1289 tariff, which will most seriously affect this country, and on the other part a late increase of the prohibitory system, which will most seriously affect us likewise.
Then, in the midst of these evidences, we ought to note the very portentous vote of the Chamber of Deputies forcing upon the Government, and the Government adopting it, a vote for keeping ready in the roads eight sail of the line more than the Government demanded. Now, the value of British manufactures and productions exported to all the world, in 1831, was 37,164,372l.; in 1840 it was 51,406,430l.; of which there was exported to the colonies, in 1831,9,773,412l.; and in 1840, 17,499,824l.; the increase in the colonial trade being 7,726,412l. The total of British shipping employed in trade with all the world was, in 1841, 17,883 ships, 3,197,501 tons, 172,100 men, of which more than one-third was employed in the colonial trade. Now, it appears from these statements that the economic maxim of free-trade—that for every increase in our reception of the production of other countries there is a coextensive and contemporaneous demand for British manufactures — is true with respect to the colonial trade in this respect, and likewise in the employment of British shipping; but it is not true with respect to France and the United States, and other countries, and then the colonial trade is increasing in a much higher ratio than the foreign trade. Now, what our manufacturers want and what all our interests require is not increased production, but increased consumption. This we can command in the colonies—it is steadily increasing; and, if we will but cultivate the boundless spaces which we possess there, and the abundant elements of every kind which we require, there we shall find our best certainty, profit, and power; but if we neglect those sources, withdraw protection from their productions, disregard and depress the colonial trade, frame all our measures and regulations with a view to seek to extend foreign trade at the sacrifice of the colonial trade, and in the vain hope of stopping other nations in the prosecution of the protective system, we shall exchange substance for shadow. The hon. Members opposite congratulate themselves that we, on this side of the House, have gone over to the adoption of the theory of free-trade. I, for one, have made no such surrender. I maintain firmly the 1290 protective principle applied to all national interests severally, giving to each a just and reasonable degree of protection, which may produce the greatest possible advantage to all interests. The protective principle is affirmed in this tariff, and we are now discussing its details. The hon. Members opposite receive it with great satisfaction. They, therefore, rather come over to a modification of the protective principle, than that we surrender to the doctrines of free-trade. My conviction is that the colonial system is in danger, from the progress which that specious, but fraudulent, philosophy is making here, whilst other nations abjure it. I speak with great respect, personally, of its very able and learned disciples opposite. Not intentionally, nor advisedly, but effectually, nevertheless, is that theory used to subvert, in fact, the colonial empire. Perhaps the House would permit me to advert to the opinion of a few eminent statesmen of the vastness, the power, the supremacy, the invincibility of this great empire. A celebrated French statesman and savan (M. Charles Duping who came to this country to examine practically into the means and system by means of which this empire was raised, and how far, by such means, the commerce and manufactures, and navigation and maritime power of France might be restored (and she has made vast progress towards this), writes —Thus, from a common centre, by the vigour of her institutions, and the advanced state of her civil and military arts, an island, by itself a spot in the Archipelago of Ocean, and which may scarcely be reckoned a state of the third order, causes the force of its industry, and the weight of its power, to be felt in the remotest extremities of the four quarters of the globe; rules, peoples, and civilizes about one-fifth of the universe, with races who receive her laws, speak her tongue, adopt her manners and customs, deal exclusively with her subjects on her own terms, and prosper by her enlightenment and arts. It is because the external provinces of her empire are separated from her by immense distances, that she is not vulnerable through any or either. It is because they are distant from each other, that they cannot be reduced under the yoke of a single adversary. To attack them is difficult—to blockade them impossible. The supply of so many home markets ensures encouragement to the metropolitan, and conveys the productions of her industry to possessions on the shores of every sea; enables her to employ, in peace, in voyages which she reserves to herself, a vast number of vessels; and to train prodigious numbers of seamen, which, in war, enable her 1291 naval force to fly, at the first signal of alarm, to carry succour, and reinforcement to any menaced point, by which they become impregnable by force, and irreducible by famine.Hear what Mr. Cambrelang, an eminent statesman of the United States, says:—Through all the past changes of her regulations of trade, Great Britain has never permitted any conflicting interest to interfere with the steady growth of her commercial marine; she has been consistent in omitting no occasion to check the progress of her rivals for naval power. Change her ministers as she may, this has been her permanent policy.Listen to Huskisson:—It is the first and paramount law of every state to provide for its own safety and defence; we will never listen to a theory which, by withdrawing protection from the colonial trade, would render insecure those possessions on which essentially depends the power of Great Britain to retain that high station in the rank of nations which she owes to her commercial and colonial ascendancy; and, least of all, shall we listen to the representations of states which evince boundless jealousy of our navigation in peace, and of our maritime ascendancy in case of war; and who tell us distinctly that they are steadily looking to the ulterior object of one day disputing with us the dominion of the seas.Thus spoke Huskisson, the advocate of reciprocity, but the wise and steady protector of the colonial system, But that empire is in danger from the progress which, I repeat, this specious but fraudulent philosophy is making, and, if carried out, it must blight our own prospects. If it could be shown that it were true, and that other nations would reciprocate with us on its principles, why let us play the whole game. Let us go all the length of the theory. Let us convert our hardy tars into effeminate spinners—our fabricators of "Britain's best bulwarks" into the builders of spinning jennies ! Let us convert large masses of our robust agriculturists into increased numbers of manufacturers— throw land out of cultivation! Let us discard our colonies—resolve them into foreign states—and, on the principles of free-trade, being divested of those "burdens," make ourselves dependent on foreign powers for the materials of our industry, the means of subsistence, and the elements of our power! But I, for one, will be no party to this; I will attack such folly wherever I find it; and if this House should ever become the instrument of such a visionary and dangerous course, we shall ruin, here from within, an empire 1292 that has withstood a world in arms, and may be maintained in its supremacy by observing the principles that made it great. But if we do otherwise, if we abandon those principles, Samson-like shall we pull down on our own heads a mighty ruin, and tumulate to ourselves a terrible monument of our folly.Living, shall we forfeit fair renown, And doubly dying shall go down To the vile dust, from whence we sprung, Unwept, unhonoured and unsung.
§ Mr. P. M. Stewart
did not feel quite certain that he should be perfectly in order were he no w to make the proposition of which he had given notice. It was in these words,That the duty on colonial timber be reduced to 5s. per load, and the duty on foreign timber to 35s., and that the measurement of deals for the purpose of charging duty be taken in conformity with the recommendation of the committee of 1835-In justice to the spirit which appeared to actuate her Majesty's Government, he was bound to say that many Members on that side of the House hailed the tariff as bringing with it much good at present, and likely to produce more hereafter, and he therefore wished to thank the Government for it, though he took upon himself to say that some portion of the merit of that measure was due to those in that House upon whose suggestions it had, in some degree, been founded. Without stopping to discuss the question as to who was really entitled to the copyright of the tariff, he felt bound at least to thank the Government for the present edition. Bearing his testimony, then, to the general merits of the measure, he still should say that the timber duties formed its weakest portion. In the tariff there were sins of commission as well as those of omission, but the timber duties formed its cardinal and crying fault. Influenced by that conviction, he gave notice of the motion which he was now about to submit, and he felt strongly persuaded that the duties which he proposed were those which, under the circumstances, the House ought to adopt. He begged to say, that he was one of those who now and at all times maintained the great value of our colonies to the mother country.
§ Viscount Sandon
rose to order. He wished to know which of the two propositions they were discussing,—the motion of the hon. Member for Renfrewshire or that of the hon, and learned Member for Bath? 1293 [It was after some conversation settled I that the question should be put on Mr. Roebuck's amendment, but that Mr. Stewart should state his views.]
§ Mr. P. M. Stewart
when interrupted} had been about to say that he considered the colonies inestimable. We had our ! colonies extending over half the globe, and in those colonies we could command a market, even though all other markets failed us. In addition to the authorities quoted by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down, in respect to the value of colonies, he might repeat the often repeated saying of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who seemed to feel the force of the opinions of the great men who had preceded him upon that subject. The right hon. Baronet in introducing the measure had declared, that although he expected to derive an additional revenue of 600,000l. a year from this measure, nevertheless, it would be productive of most substantial benefits to the manufactures and commerce of the country, and that without detriment to the colonies. He believed, however, that the differential duties upon timber which the committee were now debating had been fixed upon in error by the right hon. Baronet, through a miscalculation which had been made in taking an average by throwing woods of various kinds, which ought not to have been included, into one heterogeneous combination, which led to a false average being taken, namely, 41s. as the average duty upon foreign timber, instead of 46s. 11d. It was admitted by all that the present duties on timber required alteration. With regard to Baltic firs, and the deals of Norway and Sweden, the prohibition was too absolute, and the trade was hampered by it. But in taking off the screw from the Baltic department, they did not draw it away from, but fixed it on, the colonial department, and therefore they crippled the colonial trade. The last committee which sat upon this subject was that of which the late Lord Sydenham was an important member, and that committee resolved upon the evidence before it that there should not be a greater reduction in the differential duties than 7s. 6d. or 8s.; and Lord Sydenham, in letters which he sent home from Canada, advised that if Government made any alterations in the timber duties they should act upon the recommendations of that 1294 committee; and what he complained of was, that those recommendations were not regarded. The advantages to be derived by the consumer from the present duties would be felt, it had been argued, in the respective articles of houses, ships, and fishing-boats. Now, he had taken the trouble to get a calculation of the benefit to be derived from the proposed reduction in regard to the building of houses; and he proved that in the building of a house which cost 150l., and which consumed seven loads of colonial timber, the saving would be only 3l. 10s. In a house costing 250l. there would be a saving of 5l. In a house costing 500l., a saving of 11l. In a house costing 1,000l., half the timber consumed being foreign and half colonial, a saving of 40l. might be effected. In a house costing 2,000l., in which eighty-eight loads of timber, two-thirds foreign and one-third colonial, were used, there would be a saving of 93l. What he meant to propose was, that the duty on colonial timber should be 5s., and on foreign 35s., so that, taking the present proportion of the trade as three-fifths colonial and two-fifths foreign, he thought that his proposition would come to about the same result as that of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. It had been argued by some that the Government ought to derive no revenue from wood; but Mr. Deacon Hume said, that he knew no article better calculated to yield revenue than wood. He observed, that it was an article more extensively used throughout the country than any other, and moreover it was one wholly out of the range of the smuggler. Mr. Deacon Hume maintained that it was possible to raise 1,000,000l. from wood without affecting in the slightest degree the consumer. He objected to the loss of revenue which would be produced, whilst at the same time there would arise no compensating benefit. The hon. Member concluded by moving that the duty be 35s.
said, that it should be borne in mind that the committee was now advanced considerably in the consideration of the tariff. It would be well to remind the House with respect to the question which had been raised as to a better measurement of timber, that it was one the| discussion of which must be suspended, as it was not legitimately embraced within the motion then under the consideration of 1295 the committee. He would come to the proposition actually made to the committee. There was first the motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, and there was also an important motion by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Sir H. Douglas) which, however, the forms of the House would not allow him to bring before the House at that time. He would first direct their attention to the motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. The hon. and learned Member had entered at some length into a general discussion of the expediency of creating a colonial interest in timber by means of differential duties. The hon. and learned Member has computed the loss which the people of this country sustained by the article of Canadian timber. The hon. and learned Member referred particularly to the lumber trade, and he asserted that there was a loss of 25s. a load on that article. The hon. and learned Member argued, that the lumber trade was of no benefit to any but the merchants, whilst it operated injuriously to Canadian interests. The hon. and learned Member maintained, that the government was creating a trade which could only be fostered by law, whilst it would be in direct opposition to the regular rules and principles of commerce. If the propositions of the hon. and learned Member were true, then they formed a conclusive argument against the adoption of his motion at the present moment. With respect to the argument of forcing trade, if it were unnatural, if it counteracted the force of nature, it was a conclusive argument why we ought to resort, using the words of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, to a "natural system." He meant no disrespect to the hon. and learned Member when he asserted that the House could not consistently entertain his proposition. They were not then at the commencement of the tariff, but in the midst of it. Several schedules had already received the sanction of the House. Up to that time the House had been enforcing protective duties. Even as late as last Friday evening, when the motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was brought under the notice of the House, the principle of protection had been maintained. The hon. and learned Member for Bath, by asking the House to assent to his motion, wished the committee to undo all it had hitherto done. On that ground he hoped that the committee would refuse its sanction to the motion of the hon. and 1296 learned Member. The hon. and learned Member for Bath was out of time now in refusing all protection to the colonial exports; if the House were to do so now, surely they must retrace their steps and throw open the colonial markets to a complete free foreign trade. Within a week they had imposed differential duties varying from 4 to 20 per cent, in favour of the trade of this country—they had imposed those duties upon the colonial markets; surely then they would not be so unjust as to take another course with respect to timber, which constituted three-fourths of the exports from our American colonies. He now came to the proposition of his hon. Friend opposite. His hon. Friend (Mr. P. Stewart) said, the measures proposed by her Majesty's Ministers would tend to the ruin of the colony, while the home consumer would receive, if any, a very trifling benefit, and that he viewed them with great alarm and distress. When he heard his hon. Friend complaining in such a manner, he was reminded of what had fallen from the same hon. Gentleman a few nights ago. His hon. Friend said, that he being a sincere free trader, and being also a colonial proprietor, he found it rather nice steering, and very nice steering it was on that occasion. His hon. Friend inquired what great interest would be benefitted by the cheapening of wood— he challenged any one to point out any interest in the country which would be materially benefitted, and yet at the same time be admitted, that upon the building of a house which would cost 1,000l., the saving would be 40l., and on one costing 2,000l;. it would amount to 93l.; be it remembered that saving was to be made upon the wood alone; and yet his hon. Friend called it a paltry reduction. Why, in return, he would ask, what interest in the country was not deeply interested in having good and cheap wood? The present duties besides laying a heavy tax upon industry of every kind, had another result—that of forcing the trade into channels contrary to nature. All of that would be obviated, and that was as much a matter to be desired as the lowering of prices. Then with respect to the motion of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Liverpool, undoubtedly considerable loss would be occasioned by the proposition of the Government, but when any sacrifice of revenue was to be made, surely it was most desirable that it should go to the removal of duties which pressed upon the raw ma- 1297 terials of industry. The shipping engaged in the American trade amounted to nearly one-fourth of the tonnage of the whole country, and therefore that was an ingredient in the question which rendered it one of much importance. On the subject opened by his hon. Friend, that the Government had not abided by the reports of the former committees on wood duties, he would merely say that those committees, especially that of 1835, contemplated a change in the timber duties as an isolated measure—it was not to be connected with many reductions and numerous changes— that was why a greater reduction on colonial wood was now justified. Another reason was, that when the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) removed the duties from colonial wood, he set that trade free from many restrictions, all of which were expensive. For instance, under the present duties much wood is bonded, and that adds considerably to the cost, but on that measure coming into operation, the duty being nominal, that practice would be done away with, and that source of expense dried up. That would prove a great relief to the colonial trade. Now let him contrast the conduct of the British wood-grower with that of the colonial, or rather, he should have said, with the conduct of some who were connected with the colonies. The former made no complaint while the latter did nothing else. What was the actual amount of reduction they were going to make? On deals, for instance, taking it in money, it was but small, but with reference to the best interests of the consumer it was large and wholesome. There was not always a perfect correspondence in figures and calculations on this subject, but he would take a calculation with which he had been furnished by an eminent merchant engaged in the colonial timber trade, and who was opposed to the Government proposition. It appeared that the average duty upon foreign deals had been 43s. 9d., and upon colonial deals 7s., leaving a difference of 36s. 9d. against foreign deals. His right hon. Friend proposed, that for a single year the duty on foreign deals should be 38s., and that subsequently it should be 32s. On the average, with respect to deals, the ultimate amount of protection to colonial produce would be 31s. 6d., while at present it was 36s. 9d. This was the amount of reduction proposed to be effected, and he did not think it could be reasonably objected to. The reduction of 1298 protection on various kinds of deals might be considerable, but so anomalous a rate of duties as prevailed at present—which was most disadvantageous to the consumer— could not be continued when Parliament was engaged in revising the commercial system. The reduction with regard to timber was considerable. The present duty on colonial timber averaged 11s., on Baltic timber it was 56s. 6d., so that the protection to colonial timber was 45s.6d. As to the timber trade, one portion of the British market, connected with the mines, was entirely free, and colonial timber, with regard to this branch, enjoyed no protection. It was felt that it would be impossible to expect that Parliament would sanction the permanent continuance of this system. It was, therefore, proposed that those parties who required timber for mines in Cornwall should purchase it in the same manner as other persons. It was true that those parties were thus deprived of a valuable privilege, but he conceived they would be compensated by the advantage which would be afforded them by the reduction of the price of the commodity. The amount of duty on timber, in consequence of drawbacks obtained on that required for mines, had been, in fact, 37s. instead of 45s. 6d. It was proposed to reduce the duty at once to 30s. 6d., and ultimately to 25s. 3d; and this was the amount of protection which it was proposed to extend to colonial timber. The colonial importers ought, he conceived, to be satisfied with this amount of protection, especially when it was considered that they might be fairly called upon to bear their share in any burdens consequent on endeavours to facilitate the revival of trade. It was contended by some persons who argued in favour of the maintenance of a high rate of protective duty, that, under the present rate of duty, equal and fair competition had existed, and they maintained that this was an increasing trade. If that were the case, he presumed the colonial and foreign branches of the trade would have increased in the same ratio. What, then, had been the relative increase in the colonial and Baltic trades with respect to the principal articles of trade in wood? In 1821 this country imported from the Baltic 98,000 loads of wood; in 1841 the quantity was 114,000 loads. In 1821 the quantity of colonial timber imported was 317,000 loads; in 1841 the quantity imported was 632,000 loads, showing a difference of nearly 100 per 1299 cent, in favour of colonial timber. Then with regard to battens and batten ends, from 1821 to 1841 the importations of foreign goods into this country had increased 144 per cent., in consequence of the advancing demand; but from the colonies the importation had increased 479 per cent. In 1821 the quantity of foreign deals and deal-ends imported was 27,000 great hundreds, while in 1841 the quantity was the same. The importation from the colonies, however, was in 1821 8,000 great hundreds, while in 1841 it was 46,000 great hundreds. With respect to staves, there had been an increase on the importations from the colonies during the last twenty years of 71 per cent., while there had been a decrease on the importations from the Baltic of 16 per cent. He did not think any reasonable argument had been adduced to show that the proposed alteration of the duties would operate detrimentally to the colonial interest; and there could not be a doubt that it would prove most beneficial to the consumer in this country. It was unquestionable that the change might be productive of temporary inconvenience, and that a momentary shock might be given to the trade. Not only was a reduction of the duty proposed, but his right hon. Friend proposed to afford facilities for the introduction of all kinds of wood, instead of excluding certain descriptions; and it was impossible to substitute a system of equality for one of inequality, with regard to an article of this nature, without causing serious inconvenience. He understood that a motion was to be made for a return of the number of ships which had sailed from Great Britain for Quebec in the course of the last spring as compared with the number which had sailed in the course of the present spring. He had no doubt the return would show a considerable decrease; but he thought it would not be fair to ground any argument on that decrease. The parties who had come before Government to protest against the change in the duty on wood had complained that under the operation of the present system at this time—even with the protection they enjoyed—they scarcely cleared the cost of freight. It appeared from a resolution adopted at a meeting at Liverpool in April, that North American timber was sold at an extremely low price. It appeared by Challoner's Liverpool Circular for 1841, that American timber sold here at 1s. per load under the first cost, taking freight 1300 and duty. Deals were also in the same predicament; the calculation in 1841 being, that the cost on import was 18d. the foot, whilst they sold here at 15d., being a loss of 20 per cent. These facts showed, that notwithstanding the disadvantages thrown in the way of the Baltic trade, and the unnatural stimulus given to the colonial, still the latter did not pay. It was obvious, then, that those engaged in the timber trade should have a common interest, and make some sacrifice for the general revival of trade. It should be also remembered, that the increased stimulus which would be given to trade by the reduction of other duties would compensate for any supposed loss which the proposed alteration might be calulated to occcasion.
§ Sir C. Napier
admitted, that the Canadian timber was not as good as that of Riga, but the inferiority was not as great as the hon. Member for Bath would have it appear. Every power in the Baltic could build, man, and work their ships cheaper than we, and he hoped the House would never consent to any proposition which would have the effect of weakening our navy.
§ Mr. Hume
said, if timber, corn, and other articles were freed from duty we could build and man our ships cheaper than any other nation. The question now before the House was that of the hon. Member for Bath, to do away altogether with differential duties, and he had heard no argument urged against it. His hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Bath had said, that by the repeal of the differential duties England would get timber both better and cheaper, and he had proved that the colonists would lose nothing. His hon. Friend's argument on this head had not been met at all. The change would have the effect of converting a number of persons at present employed in cutting timber, who were a very lawless and unruly race, into agriculturists, which would unquestionably be a gain to the colony. The only question, therefore, was, as to the carrying trade, in which, though there might be some small loss of profit, yet that ought not to be put in competition with the general good. His hon. and learned Friend had also proved, that the revenue would be benefitted by the change he proposed. The proposition then would be of great benefit to the colonists and the consumers here, and why should it not be I adopted? At any rate, it was a matter of 1301 importance to decide whether they should have differential duties or not in this case. That point had hardly been adverted to in the debate.
said, that on a former occasion he had expressed to the House his opinion, that it was not advisable to bring into operation any new differential duties, or to increase those already in existence; but, although he was opposed to differential duties in theory, he had never been of opinion that it was expedient to get rid at once of the existing differential duties without reference to the great interests which the course of legislation, whether right or wrong, had raised up. The hon. Gentleman here proposed 30s. a load duty, while the Government proposed 25s. 3d., which was lower than the duty which he had proposed last year. He had in fact himself proposed 30s., and the reason was this;—the committee of 1821 stated, that by making this proposal, they left a bonus to the Canadian grower of 15s. per load. Lord Spencer had proposed the same amount, and the committee of 1836 had recommended the same. He had therefore thought it right to propose that amount of differential duty, which had the sanction of one Government and the authorities he had mentioned, but the present Government having shown they were favourable to the principle of differential duties, so far as to have introduced differential duties where they did not exist before, when he found that they proposed a less differential duty than he had proposed, stating that it would be beneficial to trade, he thought that he was justified in voting with them, and he must say, that he was very happy to find that the amount of differential duty which he had proposed with the concurrence of the late Lord Sydenham would not have been so ruinous to the trade as he was told when he introduced the proposal that it would be by hon. Gentlemen opposite. With regard to the proposition of the Government, although there were some grounds on which he might have preferred others, he should support it. When 600,000l. of revenue was to be sacrificed, he might be of opinion, that a more satisfactory arrangement might be made than to spend the whole of it upon the reduction of the timber duties. Perhaps he might think, that a mode of disposing of that amount of revenue might be found which would be more advantageous to the productive in- 1302 dustry of the country. Perhaps, had a measure been adopted somewhat like that of his hon. Friend, by reducing the differential duty, taking off 15s., and leaving a duty of 30s. on Baltic timber, considerable relief might have been afforded to the consumer without the same risk to the revenue. If on the operation of the Income-tax the Ministers could afford to dispense with a sum of 600,000l., he thought that, looking at the article of cotton wool, and at the articles of cheese and butter, a way of spending that amount might have been found that would have had a more immediate effect upon the production and industry of the country, and upon the expense of living. But still he could not speak lightly of so great a reduction as this was upon an article of this kind; and, therefore, although he must say hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they talked of the pressure of the timber duties, seemed to forget that the duty on colonial timber was raised in 1821 from 2s. 6d. to 10s,, by Lord Ripon, with the consent of Mr. Huskisson and Lord Liverpool, still, admitting, as he did, the benefit to be derived from this particular measure, and reserving his opinion as to whether some better mode of disposing of that amount of revenue might not have been found, he should not feel justified in voting against the proposition of the Government.
§ The committee divided on Mr. Roebuck's amendment:—Ayes 16; Noes 243: —Majority 227.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Callaghan, D.||Philips, M.|
|Cobden, R.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Strutt, E.|
|Currie, R.||Wallace, R.|
|Dundas, hn. J. C.||Wood, B.|
|Gibson, T. M.|
|Martin, J.||Hume, J.|
|O'Connell, J.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|List of the NOES|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Bailey, J. jun.|
|Ackers, J.||Bankes, G.|
|Acton, Col.||Barclay, D.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Baring, hon. W. B.|
|Allix, J. P.||Baring, rt. hn. F. T.|
|Antrobus, E.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Barrington, Visct.|
|Archdall, Capt.||Beckett, W.|
|Arkwright, G.||Bell, Mr.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|Bailey, J.||Bernard, Visct.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Godson, R.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Gordon, hon. Capt.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Gordon, Lord F.|
|Botfield, B.||Gore, M.|
|Bowes, J.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Broadley, H.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Granby, Marquess of|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Granger, T. C.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Greenall, P.|
|Bunbury, T.||Greenaway, C.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Grimston, Visct.|
|Campbell, Sir H.||Grogan, E.|
|Campbell, A.||Halford, H.|
|Chapman, A.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Hampden, Et.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Childers, J. W.||Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Hardy, J.|
|Clayton, R.R.||Henley, J. W.|
|Clerk, Sir G,||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Hill, Sir R.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Hinde, J. H.|
|Craig, W. G.||Hodgson, F.|
|Cresswell, B.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Cripps, W.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Darby, G.||Hope, A.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Hornby, J.|
|Denison, E. B.||Howard, P. H.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Dodd, G.||Hussey, T.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Hutt, W.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Ingestrie, Visct.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Duncan, G.||Irton, S.|
|Duncombe, T.||Jackson, J. D.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Eastnor, Visct.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Egerton, W. T.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Eliot, Lord||Jones, Capt.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Kelburne, Visct.|
|Escott, B.||Kemble, H.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Knatchbull, rt hn. Sir E.|
|Evans, W.||Knight, H. G.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Knight, F. W.|
|Fellowes, E.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Fielden, J.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Layard, Capt.|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Legh, G. C.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Leicester, Earl of|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Forbes, W.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Forester, hn. G. C. W.||Litton, E.|
|Forster, M.||Lockhart, W.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Gill, T.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Maclean, D.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Sanderson, R.|
|Martin, C. W.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Marton, G.||Scholefield, J.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Masterman, J.||Seymour, Lord|
|Miles, W.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Stanley, Lord|
|Morgan, O.||Stanley, E.|
|Morgan, C.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Morison, General||Stewart, P. M.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Stewart, J.|
|Neville, R.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Newry, Visct.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Sturt, H. C.|
|O'Brien, W. S.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Packe, C. W.||Taylor, J. A.|
|Paget, Lord W.||Thompson, Mr. Ald.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Thornhill, G.|
|Palmer, G.||Trotter, J.|
|Patten, J. W.||Tuite, H. M.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Turner, E.|
|Peel, J.||Turnor, C.|
|Philpotts, J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Verner, Col.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Polhill, F.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Pollock, Sir F.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A. C.||Walker, R.|
|Praed, W. T.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Pringle, A.||Welby, G. E.|
|Pryse, P.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Rashleigh, W.||Williams, W.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Rice, E. R.||Wood, C.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Round, C. G.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Round, J.||Young, J.|
|Russell, J. D. W.||Baring, H.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.|
§ Blank filled up with 30s. as the government proposed.
§ On the motion being put to fill in the words "from and after the 10th of October, 1843, 1l. 5s,"
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he did not wish to press the discussion of important matters at so late an hour; but he certainly should I wish that the timber table might be gone through that night. It was of the utmost importance that the tariff should now be I got through as soon as possible. He really believed, that at present long discussions were estimated as of little importance compared with the settlement of commercial arrangements.
§ Motion to report, progress withdrawn.
§ Original question put from the Chair.
§ Sir H. Douglas:
It is with great regret that I find myself under the necessity of introducing this motion to the House; but having undertaken this, I do so, not as a mere ruse de guerre to keep myself straight with my constituents and others who have confided their representations to to me, but with a sincere and honest desire to succeed in my motion, or if not, to prevail upon the right hon. Baronet to accede to this—that he will at least consent to defer the application of the ulterior duty of 25s. for three or four years. Approving in principle, and accordingly supporting, all the great measures brought forward by her Majesty's Government—finding embodied in this tariff the protective principle, and being engaged in discussing its details and degrees, I may state to the House the strong objections which 1 entertain to the prospective duty of 25s., without evincing, and certainly without feeling, the slightest disposition to withdraw any part of that entire and full confidence which I repose in the ability, integrity, and wisdom of my right hon. Friend, the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, and of his Colleagues, in their endeavours to extricate the country from those difficulties and embarrassments in which it is now involved. I approve of all the principles upon which this tariff has been framed: — Prohibition repealed— moderate duties substituted—the differential principle extended, and the degrees of protection revised and modified. I approve of the general objects of this tariff. 1st, Cheapness to the consumer. 2nd, To cheapen all raw materials. 3rd, To reduce the cost of production. 4th, To relieve the springs of industry and restore activity, vigour, and energy, to the trading, manufacturing, commercial, and shipping interests. And here I must express unbounded admiration at the industry, ability, practical knowledge, and enlightened views with which this important measure is framed. I admit that sacrifices must be made, minor evils engendered, perhaps, to produce the general good, which I hope and trust will be the result of this great experiment. But the apprehensions so generally entertained with respect to the application of the ulterior duty, which it is the object of my motion to get rid of, are not of minor evils—but of major evils, prejudicial to the manufacturing, shipping, 1306 and colonial interests, as depending upon the maintenance of the British North American trade; the political evils which may be produced, in the present posture of our affairs in British North America, if we do not proceed with great caution in dealing with their interests; and then the stake which the right hon. Baronet himself has, and to which I, with great personal regard and respect, attach much importance— namely, that this measure should realise to the British North American people the strong assurances which he held out in bringing forward this measure, that he did not propose, either at present or permanently to injure their interests, but to proceed with the greatest caution, and to do nothing that can suddenly affect their interests; that his object was only to cheapen timber to the British consumer, without interfering with the proportions in which it is supplied, severally from the colonies, and from the Baltic; but which assurances, I very seriously apprehend, will not be carried out, if the ulterior duty should take effect, as proposed. My constituents are deeply concerned in this trade, and seriously alarmed as to the very prejudicial and ruinous effects of that extreme part of the measure. They are willing and prepared to make sacrifices for the general good; but they all concur that the descent of protection from 30s. to 25s. would be a vast and ruinous sacrifice. Every other constituency in the United Kingdom concur in this, and have all confided to my noble Colleague and myself petitions to this effect. From every part of British North America, I have received strong petitions against the proposed measure, and which representations I deem it my duty to make faithfully to this House, whilst discussing and disposing of their interests, where they are not represented. The Governor-general of Canada transmits five petitions, representing in very strong terms the very great alarm into which they have been thrown by the proposed measures, and submits the expediency of a delay of four or five years. No recent representations from Nova Scotia have been laid before Parliament, but those of last year deprecate in the strongest terms the then proposed alterations in the timber duties and the inter-colonial trade. The Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick transmits, and strongly recommends to the favourable consideration of her Majesty's Government, 1307 twelve petitions against the proposed measures. He remarks—That any sudden alteration in the duties, and without affording time and aid in developing new resources, will seriously aggravate the distress now prevailing.gain, on the 30th of March last—I have reason to believe that this petition expresses very generally the sentiments entertained at this time by the inhabitants of the other counties, but who, from the information of the proposed measures having only been received by the last packet, they have been unable to send up petitions in time to be transmitted by the present mail.And in another despatch of the same date, he writes—I have just received the enclosed address to the Queen from the legislative Council and Assembly of this province, on the subject of the changes which are understood to have been proposed in Parliament, affecting the regulation of the trade of the British colonial possessions; and having already explained to your Lordship my apprehensions of the effect of those changes at this time on the inhabitants of this province, I have only to recommend the subject to the consideration of your Lordship and her Majesty's Government.Before I proceed to the figures of this case, I deem it right to make a few observations on the ratio of the proposed reduction in the scale of duties. Taking those on coloniel timber singly, it appears to be a vast boon. That reduction is nine-tenths. The reduction on the foreign timber is infinitely less; but the ratio of protection is not always that in which the scale may be altered, where the difference of duty is considerable, as in this case, and the proportions of the article of timber supplied pretty evenly maintained. In this case, the great absolute reduction of the higher duty destroys the balance, although the ratio of that decrease is infinitely less than that of the other duty. I hope the House will not be alarmed at my unfolding this paper, covered with figures; I shall take out our case and present it in very simple terms. In the year 1840 there were imported from the Baltic woods of all sorts to the amount of 607,533 loads, the average rate of duty paid on which was 43s. 6d.; but this included firewood, subject to a specific duty by fathom, but which, reduced to loads, amounted to 40,963, average rate of duty 4s. 4¾d. But this sort of wood stuff ought not to have been taken into calculation for the purpose of 1308 determining the average rate of duty per load. Subtracting, then, 40,963 from 607,533, we have 566,570, and the average duty 46s. 3d., which is a difference of 5s. 3d. over the 41s., which the right hon. Baronet stated to be the average rate of duty paid upon all woods imported from the Baltic; and was, in fact, the cardinal number upon which the scale of duties on foreign timber and deals, proposed by her Majesty's Government, was framed. But my constituents think they have a right to claim a higher average rate of duty than this. They plead that neither oak-knees, lath wood, handspikes, nor spars, being all subject to specific duties, should have been taken into the calculation. The total quantity of these imported, and reduced to loads, amount to 35,740,which, subtracted from 566,570, leaves 530,830, and the average rate of duty rises to 47s. 11d., which is 6s. 11d. over the right hon. Baronet's cardinal number of 41s. But I do not intend to claim this, and confine my case to the 5s. 3d. difference, and claim to apply the 5s. to get rid of the descent of 5s. from 30s. to 25s., and so extinguish that ulterior duty. Now, applying here what I have said upon the subject of ratios of protection, I shall state, first, the proportion in which timber has been supplied from the Baltic and from the colonies under the present scheme. The quantity of red pine imported from the Baltic was 138,000. From the colonies it was 95,000, being 43,000 in favour of the Baltic. The oak was nearly equal, being 29,100 from the Baltic and 29,400 from the colonies. Now, the protection by which this proportion was maintained was 45s. It is proposed to reduce it to 25s.; if this be done it must be quite clear that the proportion must be very materially altered and the colonies seriously injured. Of yellow pine the importation from the colonies was 439,967, and of ash, elm, and birch 60,835; and it is hoped the colonies will continue to supply those articles. Now, with respect to deals, the importation into Great Britain, from the Baltic, was 321,894, and from the colonies 208,239, which shows that the protection even of 35s. 6d. was not sufficient. The importation of deals from the Baltic into Ireland was 3,601, from the colonies it was 65,303, which I am bound, in all fairness, to admit was too much. The spars imported from the 1309 Baltic were 13,334 loads, and only 1,223 loads from the colonies, showing that the protection of 9s. 3d. per load, instead of being reduced, should be increased. The staves imported from the Baltic were 22,999 loads, from the colonies 32,577 loads. I implore the right hon. Baronet to be cautious with respect to this ulterior duty. I earnestly recommend him to postpone it at least for some years; this is the only way of acting with caution and certainly relatively with the assurances that he has given. Let the 30s. duty be tried for a period of years. If it give to the colonial interests a preponderating advantage, a greater participation in the supply than they have now, let it be reduced. My constituents desire no more, nor do I; and if the right hon. Baronet will accede to my motion, and it should appear that the 30s. duty may bear reduction, then I pledge myself to vote for such reduction, either to 25s. or to such other duty as may be requisite to restore a just proportion, and a fair competition between the Baltic and colonial supplies. Now to show the effect upon the colonial timber trade of carrying out the extreme measure of the 25s. duty. The price of freight from the Baltic varies from 12s. to 17s., taking the average at 15s., and adding to it the duty, we have 40s. The freight from British North America is about 39s., the proposed duty 1s. Here there is no protection to the colonies. I am not certain what the cost and charges on timber shipped in the Baltic may be, but it is very important to state to the House what the cost of timber is, exclusive of that of felling, getting out and shipping in British North America. The price of timber standing in the Crown forests is:—
These sums are paid on licences to cut timber on the ungranted or crown lands, and their revenue forms the "timber fund," which, by agreement between the Crown and the local legislatures, was turned over to, them, on condition of which they entered into engagements to pay the local civil lists. Now, let the House consider well what will be the effect of materially interfering with the sufficiency or productiveness of this fund. It would be 1310 breaking faith with the colonial legislatures; it would disable them to meet their engagements, and produce the most serious evils, unless this House were to restore the colonial civil lists to the Parliamentary estimates. It was the withdrawing of those charges from the Parliamentary estimates that occasioned all the difficulties and conflicts between the colonial executives and legislatures; and it was only by turning over to them the properties and revenues of the Crown in the provinces that these most serious and threatening conflicts were terminated. The civil list of New Brunswick is 14,500l. a-year. I am not sure what the amount is in the Canadas, but I believe that the timber fund arising from licences to cut timber in the districts bordering upon the Ottawa alone, in the last year, was 20,000l. The select committee of 1835 recommended a differential duty of 30s. The late Government plan was to raise the duty on colonial timber to 20s., and reduce that on Baltic timber to 50s., giving thus a differential duty of 30s. in favour of the colonies. On these grounds, too, I move, that the duty should now rest at that amount. Now, to show the value of this entire trade, the British manufactures, taken by British North America, is steadily and vastly increasing, in consequence chiefly of the activity in the timber trade. In 1821, the value taken in pounds was 1,100,000l. In 1831, it was 2,080,000l. In 1840, it was 2,800,000l., and it is now 3,000,000l. The British North American trade employed in 1841, 2,461 ships, whose tonnage amounted to 841,348 tons, manned by 32,950 men, being about one-fourth of the shipping employed in the whole trade of the empire. The tonnage employed in the timber trade alone is about 600,000 tons. The outward spring tonnage in number of ships—and what an advantage this by cheap freight for emigration— is usually from 1,000 to 1,200 sail; but such is the panic—the consternation, I may say—occasioned by the present measure, that not more than 500 sail have gone out this spring. The effects of this in Canada and New Brunswick will be most serious. The ladings for the usual number are all prepared; full stocks of the supply on hand. Orders have been sent out to stop all proceedings'. Contracts for a year's business, and for nice competitions, founded on existing laws, will be 1311 interfered with; and it is scarcely necessary to trace further the distress, the disappointment, the loss of confidence, that must ensue. I shall not take up more of the time of the House at this late hour, by dwelling further upon the case which I represent, and upon the grounds and under the circumstances which I have endeavoured to state, as concisely and distinctly as possible. I move that the duty on and after October next on foreign timber shall be 30s., and on deals 38s., both per load; and that the ulterior duty of 25s., contemplated in the proposed measure, shall not take effect.
Oak 6s. 2d. per load. Red Pine 4s. 2d. per load. Elm and Ash 4s. 2d. per load. Yellow Pine 2s. 1d. per load. Saw Logs 2s. Od. each.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, of all the calculations he had heard as to the probable effect of the plan he proposed for the arrangement of the timber duties, the most striking was that of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Renfrewshire (Mr. P. M. Stewart), who was generally opposed to her Majesty's Government, and not very favourable to his financial measures, but who calculated that on a sum of 2,000l. employed in house building there would be a saving on the article of timber alone of 93l. If the hon. Gentleman's calculation was correct, it was difficult to say what the extent of encouragement would be that would be held out to the building trade. If this was the effect of the tariff, as regarded the building of houses, what must be its effects on ship-building? Would not the demand for Canadian timber be immensely increased, and would not the general prosperity of trade amply compensate the Canadians for any trifling loss to which they might possibly at first be subjected? He was happy to inform the House, that the impression already made by this tariff in the countries on the shores of the Baltic was most favourable. The German League had intended to make a heavy increase in the duties on British iron, but the proposal had been abandoned, when the tariff became known on the continent. It was not possible to conceive anything like the general acquiescence with which his Income-tax, an impost so unusual in time of peace, had been received by the country, but he felt all the more strongly the obligation he had incurred to adhere to his original plan of holding out by the tariff a compensation to the payers of the Income-tax. Of this the article of timber would form no small element. On the whole he hoped the House would steadily refuse to interfere 1312 with the proposition of Government, as the best medium between the two extremes, seeing that regard for the interest of the revenue and for the national faith would not allow them to carry the reduction of the duty on timber any further.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ Schedule concerning timber agreed to.
§ The. House resumed. Committee to sit again.