HC Deb 28 June 1842 vol 64 cc742-8

The British Possessions Abroad Bill was read a third time.

Mr. Labouchere

, in rising to bring forward the motion of which he had given notice, said he should trouble the House for but a very few moments. By the law, as it now stood, almost every article was imported duty free across the border of the United States of America into Canada. It was proposed to alter this system, and to impose duties upon two of the most important articles of trade—namely, wheat flour and cured provisions. It was the opinion of Lord Sydenham and other authorities on this question, that nothing could be more unwise than to establish a line of custom-houses on the extensive border which separated Canada from America. He was much surprised, after the passing of a bill of relaxation, of which he very much approved, to find that this should be the time taken in order to introduce a new principle, and to reverse the decision which Parliament came to in 1831, and which had been worked beneficially without any complaint up to the present moment. The House was aware that it had been the policy of this country to allow flour, the growth of Canada, to be imported into this country at a reduced duty. He did not believe that American flour came here as Canadian, to induce this alteration in the law. But when the harvest in Canada was such that it would he advantageous for the Canadians to send their flour here, he believed they did send it in considerable quantities, and they consumed the flour of America. There was no cause for apprehension on the part of the landed interest from any great extension of this trade; and he was sure that the protection of the corn grower of this country would not be urged as a reason for abrogating that exemption. He thought that this alteration of duty might have been intended to protect some Canadian interest. But he had the satisfaction of hearing the right hon. Gentleman opposite state, that if any interest in Canada required protection, it was for the Canadian Legislature itself to provide it—that we had no business with it. But a principal argument on the other side was, that the revenue of Newfoundland might lose to the extent of 2s. a quarter on wheat unless this bill were adopted, whilst there was no corresponding advantage arising to the consumer. Now it did seem to him strange that for such a fine-drawn argument as this they should think it necessary to alter a state of things which had existed for a considerable number of years. It was very desirable that their legislation on subjects of this sort should not be capricious. The colonies were differently circumstanced to the mother country, in being unable to make an appeal through representatives against alterations in which they did not concur; and really he did think that unless some better reasons were adduced than the visionary ones to which he had referred, they would be legislating with much levity, and in a very mistaken spirit, if they consented to adopt such alterations on such reasoning. But he feared it would not be the effect of mere alteration alone which would operate injuriously if this bill were passed. A great flour trade had sprung up between America and Canada, attended with much advantage to the latter, and with still more advantage to the manufacturing interests in Great Britain. His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield had stated on a former occasion, that at a time when Sheffield was in great distress the wants of the people were much alleviated by a sudden demand for their manufactured articles to pay for the flour thus imported. And when the House remembered that every barrel of flour thus brought across the border had to be paid for in the manufactured articles of Great Britain, surely they would not attempt to take a step so calculated at this to put an end to that trade. He did not ask them to make any alteration more favourable to the United States, but he did ask, and with confidence, that they should not take any step on the side of restriction. Sure he was, if they considered all the inconveniences of the case—if they consented to weigh the evils of change against the futile reasons adduced in favour of it, they would not think of altering a law which had now existed for ten years, which was attended with very beneficial consequences to British interests, and which no one pretended for a moment to say was the cause or occasion of a single practical evil. On these grounds he should, in conformity with the motion on the paper, move a clause to continue the exemption from duty on American wheat flour imported into Canada.

Clause brought up and read a first time.

On the motion that the clause be read a second time,

Mr. Gladstone

said, that he, of course, had no objection to offer to the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman, although he must say that he thought this was a subject entirely exhausted by previous debates. Practically speaking, he must say, that he estimated the importance as well as the consequences of this measure much lower than the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that it was not desirable to keep up our line of Customs' establishments on the Canadian frontier. Now, that argument went, not against the duties proposed to be levied by this bill, but against all duties whatsoever. Then the right hon. Gentleman urged that this American flour entered into consumption in Canada as a substitute for the Canadian flour sent to this country. But he had great doubts of that, for he had been informed, that while the mode of transmission under bond given to the Custom-house officers, as provided by the law, afforded the means of sending American produce by those routes without any impediments, it was perfectly adequate to prevent the consumption of that produce in the colony. He could state on the information given him by Sir Allan M'Nab, that this was now the case. He believed the principle on which they ought to legislate in these cases, was, that if they imposed a duty upon articles entering into importing colonies, they should also do so in those which entered into exporting colonies. It would be a hardship not only on Newfoundland, as the right hon. Gentleman said, but on other importing colonies in the West Indies and North America, if this was not the case; and, he must add, if the Canadians wished to remain- under our colonial system, then they must submit to the application of that system fairly and properly. On the whole, he saw nothing in what had been said to induce him to alter his views, and he should, therefore, oppose the clause.

Mr. Hutt

said, this measure was a more important one than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to consider it to be. It was nothing less than the establishment of a Corn-law in Canada, and a Corn-law, not for the purposes of revenue, but solely to prevent the importation of flour into the colony. The establishment of a Corn-law in Canada would be followed by attempts to establish a similar law in other colonies. The next thing we should hear of would be a proposition for a Corn-law in New South Wales. The question had already been powerfully mooted there, and it only wanted the advocacy of such opinions as the right hon. Gentleman had urged in support of the present measure to be successful. In Canada we had for ten years acted on a different system, without there having been any allegation that evils had arisen from it, and he was greatly surprised that the Government, after having just passed the tariff, should have introduced a principle as regarded Canada so opposed to all the general principles which they had contended for in supporting that measure.

The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 160: Majority 77.

List of the AYES.
Ainsworth, P. Colebrook, Sir T. E.
Aldam, W. Craig, W. G.
Barley, D. Crawford, W. S.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Denison, J. E.
Barnard, E.G. Dennistoun, J.
Barron, sir H. W. Divett, E.
Berkeley, hon. C. Duncan, G.
Berkeley, hon. F. Duncombe, T.
Blake, M. J. Ellis, W.
Bowring, Dr. Evans, W.
Brotherton, J. Ewart, W.
Buller, C. Fielden, J.
Busfeild, W. Forster, M.
Cavendish, hn. G. H. Gibson, T. M.
Chapman, B Gill, T.
Childers, J. W. Gordon, Lord F.
Clay, sir W. Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.
Clive, E. B Guest, Sir J.
Cobden, R. Hill, Lord M,
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Russell, Lord E.
Howick, Visct. Scholefield, J.
Hume, J. Seymour, Lord
Hutt, W. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Jervis, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Stewart, P.M.
Lambton, H. Stuart, Lord J.
Layard, Capt. Strutt, E.
Marshall, W. Tancred, H. W.
Marsland, H. Thornely, T.
Mitchell, T. A; Vane, Lord H.
Morris, D. Villiers, hon. C.
Murphy, F. S: Walker, R.
Napier, Sir C. Wallace, R.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Watson, W. H.
O'Brien, J. Wawn, J. T.
O'Connell, M. J. Williams, W.
O'Connell, J. Wood, B.
Ogle, S, C. H. Worsley, Lord
Parker, J. Wrightson, W. B.
Pechell, Capt. Yorke, H. R.
Plumridge, Capt. TELLERS.
Rundle, J. Smith, V.
Russell, Lord J. Tufnell, PL
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Eaton, R. J.
Acland, T. D. Egerton, W. T.
A'Court, Capt. Eliot, Lord
Alford, Visct. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Allix, J. P. Farnham, E. B.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Fellowes, E.
Arkwright, G. Ferguson, Sir R, A.
Baillie, Col. Feilden, W.
Baring, hon. W. B. Filmer, Sir E.
Barrington, Visct. Fitzroy, lion. H.
Bateson, R. Fleming, J. W.
Beckett, W. Flower, Sir J.
Bodkin, W. H. Ffolliott, J.
Botfield, B. Fuller, A. E.
Bramston, T. W. Gaskell, J. M.
Broadley, H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Brownrigg, J. S. Gladstone, T.
Bruce, Lord E. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Buck, L. W. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gore, M.
Bunbury, T. Goring, C.
Burroughes, H. N. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Campbell, A. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Card well, E. Granby, Marq. of
Chetwode, Sir J. Greenall, P.
Christopher, R. A. Greene, T.
Clayton, R. R. Grimsditch, T.
Clerk, Sir G. Grimston, Visct.
Clive, hon. R. H. Grogan, E.
Colvile, C.R. Hale, R. B.
Compton, H. C. Hamilton, W. J.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hampden, R.
Cresswell, B. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Cripps, W. Heathcote, G. J.
Darby, G. Henley, J. W.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Hepburn, Sir T. B
Denison, E. B. Hervey, Lord A.
Dick, Q. Hodgson, R.
Douglas, Sir H. Hogg, J. W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Hope, hon. C.
Eastnor, Visct. Hornby, J,
Hughes, W. B. Plumptre, J. P.
Hussey, T. Polhill, F.
Ingestre, Visct. Pollock, Sir F.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Pringle, A.
Jackson, J. D. Pusey, P.
Jermyn, Earl Rashleigh, W.
Jones, Capt. Reid, Sir J. R.
Kemble, H. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Kerr, D. S. Round, C. G.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E Rous, hon. Capt.
Knight, H. G. Rushbrooke, Col.
Lawson, A. Russell, J, D. W.
Legh, G. C. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Liddell, hon. II T. Scarlett, hon. It. C.
Lincoln, Earl of Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Litton, E. Sheppard, T.
Lockhart, W. Smith, A.
Lowther, hon. Col. Stanley, Lord
Lyall, G. Ttewart, J.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Stuart, H.
Mackenzie, T. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Mackenzie, W. F. Talbot, C. R. M.
M'Geachy, F. A. Taylor, T. E.
Mahon, Visct. Taylor, J. A.
Mainwaring, T. Trench, Sir F. W.
Manners, Lord C. S. Trollope, Sir J.
Manners, Lord J. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
March, Earl of Verner, Col.
Marsham, Visct. Vesey, hon. T.
Martin, C. W. Vivian, J. E.
Masterman, J. Waddington, H. S.
Miles, W. Wilbraham, hon. R. B.
Mundy, E. M. Wodebouse, E.
Neeld, J. Wood, Col.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Wortley, hon J. S.
Norreys, Lord Yorke, hon. E. T.
Palmer, K. Young, J.
Patten, J. W.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. TELLERS.
Peel, J. Fremantle, Sir T.
Philipps, Sir R. B. P. Baring, H.
Mr. Milner Gibson

moved the omission of part of the 9th clause, imposing a 10 per cent, ad valorem duty on foreign sugar, refined in bond, and exported from England to any of our colonial possessions. The right hon. Gentleman had distinctly stated that it was not his intention to place any duty on articles imported into the colonies, into the produce of which British labour entered. The British Parliament bad no right to lay duties on articles imported into the colonies for the purposes of revenue, but merely for the purpose of regulating commerce. The right hon. Gentleman had laid down that principle, and acting on it, he had repealed all the acts imposing duties on articles of British manufactures imported into the colonies. Now, sugar refined in bond in this country was undoubtedly an article of British manufacture. The imposing this duty was acting contrary to the spirit of the Declaratory Act. It would, besides, be prejudicial to the West-India planters, who would not be able to replace the sugar sent to this country at so low a cost as he did at present. It would, moreover, be very injurious to the sugar refiners of this country; for these reasons he should move that the clause be struck out of the bill.

Mr. Gladstone

regretted that the hon. Gentleman had brought forward his motion without notice, because from its complex nature it would be difficult to discuss it in detail, or to explain the practical effect of its clauses. The hon. Gentleman was quite right in his supposition that this clause would impose 10 per cent, duty on this article on its importation into the colonies; but the reason why this article was dealt with in a peculiar mariner, was, that it connected itself with the sugar question at home; and the same circumstances which made the Government think the present an unfit period for the settlement of the sugar duties at home, applied the duties on the same article when imported into the colonies.

Mr. Hume

thought the objection of the hon. Member for Manchester perfectly good.

Mr. Labouchere

was aware this was a complicated question. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman could satisfy the House that no addition would be made to the price of refined sugar in the colonial markets by the clause.

Mr. Villiers

declared he could not understand the clause.

Mr. Gladstone

said, it was not at all strange that Gentlemen should not understand it who had not become in any degree acquainted with it. The best proof of the justice of the measure was this, that the sugar refiners did not oppose it.

Lord Stanley

said, those who understood the measure agreed in its propriety.

The House divided, on the question that the words proposed to be left out stood part of the question:—Ayes 105; Noes 36: Majority 69.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Baring, hon. W. B.
A'Court, Capt. Barrington, Visct.
Allix, J. P. Beckett, W.
Arkwright, G. Bodkin, W. H.
Attwood, M. Bramston, T. W.
Baillie, Col. Broadley, H.
Brownrigg, J. S. Ker, D. S.
Bruce, Lord E. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E
Buller, Sir J. Y. Lawson, A.
Bunbury, T. Legh, G. C.
Burroughes, II. N. Liddell, hn. II. T.
Campbell, A. Lincoln, Earl of
Clayton, R. R. Lockhart, W;
Clerk, Sir G. Lowther, hon. Col.
Clive, hn. R. H. Mackenzie, W. F.
Colvile, C. R. M'Geachy, F. A.
Corapton, H. C. Mahon, Visct.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Mainwaring, T.
Cripps, W. Manners, Lord J.
Denison, E. B. Marsham, Visct.
Dickinson, F. H. Martin, C. W.
Douglas, Sir H. Masterman, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Mundy, E. M.
Eastnor, Visct. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Egerton, W. T. Ogle, S. C. E I.
Eliot, Lord Palmer, R.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Patten, J. W.
Farnham, E. B. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Fleming, J. W. Peel, J.
Ffolliolt, J. Pigot, Sir U.
Fuller, A. E. Plumptre, J. P.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Pollock, Sir F.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. Rashleigh, W.
Glynne, Sir S. R. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Rushbrooke, Col.
Gore, M. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Greene, T. Stanley, Lord
Grimsditch, T. Stuart, H.
Grimston, Visct. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Grogan, E. Talbot, C. R. M.
Hale, R. B. Taylor, J. A.
Hamilton, W. J. Trench, Sir F. W.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Tyrell, Sir J.T.
Henley, J. W. Verner, Col.
Hogg, J. W. Vesey, hon. T.
Hughes, W. B. Waddington, H. S.
Hussey, T. Wilbraham, hon. R. B,
Ingestre, Visct. Yorke, hon E. T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Young, J.
Jackson, J. D. TELLERS.
Jermyn, Earl Fremantle, Sir T.
Johnstone, H. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Berkeley, hon. C. Marshall, W.
Blake, M. J. Marsland, H.
Bowring, Dr. Morris, D.
Brotherton, J. Napier, Sir C.
Busfeild, W. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Cavendish, hn. C. C. O'Connell, M. J.
Chapman, B. Parker, J.
Childers, J.W. Pechell, Capt.
Cobden, R. Redington, T. N.
Crawford, W. S. Rice, E. R.
Duncan, G. Russell, Lord E.
Duncombe, T. Scholefield, J.
Etwall, R. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Ewart, W. Thornly, T.
Fielden, J. Villiers, hon. C.
Forster, M. Wallace, R.
Gill, T. Watson, W. H.
Wawn, J. T. Gibson, T. M.
Wood, B. Hume J.

Bill passed.

House adjourned at one o'clock.