HC Deb 25 April 1843 vol 68 cc902-71
Mr. Ricardo

spoke to the following effect*:—

I am well aware that the motion which I rise to bring forward has this disadvantage, that it is liable to be met, not so much upon its own merits, as upon the assumption of its being objectionable that the subject should be broached at all, while negotiations are in progress which this debate may materially influence; and I at once anticipate this objection, because I feel that it is entitled to consideration. It is, Sir, not without much reflection, that notwithstanding this circumstance, I have persisted in my motion, upon the ground that if we were to wait until the war of tariffs, which is now bringing such great calamities on the commerce of the world, and more especially on our own, be brought to a conclusion, there would, I fear, be no opportunity in our life-time of joining issue on the question of retaliation at all; and that it would be ridiculous to wait until a system be spontaneously abandoned before discussing its impolicy. And we roust not imagine that we can conceal our real position from foreign countries. We must not hide our heads and fancy that none can see us; we must not suppose that it is not evident to all that the system of retaliation is more injurious to ourselves than to those towards Whom We have adopted it; that an adult commerce (if I may use the expression) requires more nourishment than a growing trade; and that every restriction which we put upon the production of our neighbours, re-acts with a double force on our own. That this assertion is not unfounded, hear what was said in the Chamber of the Brazils, that— All the world knew that the interests of the English population were sacrificed to the interests of the English landowners and of the proprietors of West Indian estates. All the world knew that the consumption of Brazilian sugar was prohibited in England, but that it was refined there and sent to the West Indies, in order that the planters of Jamaica and the other islands might be able to buy it at a very low price there, and in that way be able to send all their produce to England, to be sold at monopoly prices to the English people. All the world knew that the interests of the English people were thus sacrificed; but they had long been accustomed to submit to * From a corrected report. monopolies of all descriptions; now, however, that the English population was becoming familiar with the discussion of such questions; now that they saw the flagrant injustice of sacrificing the working and labouring classes to the proprietors; now that they saw that they were not allowed to taste the cheap sugars of the Brazils, but were restricted to the dear ones of the Antilles, whilst the West Indians were allowed to purchase Brazilian sugar at a low price, from this time it would be impossible for the English Cabinet to maintain the interests of the aristocracy against those of the nation. This speaks for itself; and seeing that whatever objection may be made to the inconvenience of my motion will be in equal force at any other period; believing that nothing can be advanced by your ambassadors or envoys, or stated in this House, can conceal, or add to the knowledge of the fact, that retaliation means neither more nor less than a determination on our part to consume dear wine, dear sugar, and dear corn, because other countries choose to buy dear manufactures, I trust that I may stand excused before the House if I persist in the course which I have adopted, and I will therefore at once proceed to state upon what that course is founded. Last Session in bringing forward his financial plan, the right hon. Baronet said:— Now there are some very important articles on which we do not propose any reductions, partly from considerations of revenue exclusively, partly on this account, that we found on entering office there were negotiations pending with many states in respect to proposed commercial treaties, and we have done all we could to continue these negotiations, commencing also with some other states. The right hon. Baronet went on to say;— Now, while these treaties are pending, there are several articles, wine and brandy for instance, which would enter into discussions with these states, and with respect to the duties on which, therefore, I shall humbly advise the House not at present to make any material relaxation. These, Sir, are the passages on which I have founded my motion, and I shall, with your permission, quote a few more words which fell from the same right hon. Gentleman, to shew that I am not altogether discountenanced by him in the view which I am about to take of the principles of commercial policy. We have reserved many articles from im- mediate reduction, in the hope that ere long we may attain that which we consider just and beneficial to all, namely, increased facilities for our exports in return. At the same time, I am bound to say, that it is for our interest to buy cheap, whether other countries will buy cheap or no. We have a right to exhaust all means to induce them to do justice, but if they persevere in refusing, the penalty is on us, if we do not buy in the cheapest market. I feel certain that the example of England, adopted at a time of commercial and financial difficulty —our determination to pursue our path in the right course, will operate on foreign nations; but if we find that our example is not followed, if we find that instead of reducing the duties on our manufactures they resort to the impolicy of increasing them; still this ought not, in my opinion, to operate as a discouragement to us to act on those principles, which we believe to be sound. Those principles which will not only be immediately profitable to us, but the example of which will ultimately ensure that general application of them, which will confer reciprocal benefit on ourselves and all those who are wise enough to follow it. And this is my apology. I also think with the right hon. Baronet, that it is right to act on those principles which we believe to be sound; and when I look upon the present state of the commerce of this country, when I consider its vast resources of wealth and population, and perceive that while the one cannot find adequate employment, the other is looked upon by a great many as a burthen rather than a source of wealth—when I couple the increase of our taxation and our burthens with the falling-off in those legitimate sources of revenue which mark the popular power of purchase and consumption, I do think the time has come when we should no longer hesitate to acknowledge the necessity of giving extension to our markets, and of adopting practically those doctrines which the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues have one and all theoretically avowed. As civilization and refinement progressed, so have we adapted to them our social institutions, but through all the development of our capital, our population, our ingenuity, and our productive powers, the commercial institutions of this country have been on the same plan; and we have endeavoured to govern trade by our Custom-house, rather than to take the necessities of our commerce as the foundation of our fiscal laws. We have carried a system invented in times when commerce was undervalued and misunderstood into our own age of intelligence and peace, and when the miserable results are before our eyes; we look to this interest and to that interest, to petty details and contemptible rivalries, rather than to a bold and direct revision of the whole structure. Instead of making use of those elements of prosperity which we pre-eminently possess, we are contented to waste them, while by means of commercial treaties we are endeavouring to cobble and patch up commerce, which this very system is destroying. We think we can sell without buying, and in this idea we plunge into diplomatic intrigues, in which the party who succeeds the best, though he may be the best diplomatist, is certainly the worst political economist. I know, Sir, that there are some who are apt to treat with ridicule those doctrines which they will not take the trouble to examine and understand; but I am proud to think and anxious to acknowledge that my own convictions are founded on those of nearly all the great writers on commercial economy, and that the calculations of its theories are proved by the facts of our own experience. I could quote very many high names in my favour, but I shall confine myself to two:—The first is a gentleman who was not appreciated in his lifetime, but who, since his death, which we must all deplore as a loss to the country, is received by every one as a great practical authority. Mr. Deacon Hume, in giving his evidence before the Import Duties Committee, was asked this question: — When you speak of giving an example to Europe, do you believe that if England would remove those which are protective duties to cotton, or any other manufacture, that might induce the other nations of Europe to adopt a more liberal system of trade, and consequently lead to the admission of a larger portion of British manufactures?—I think it very probable that even such partial removals would have that effect; but I feel the strongest confidence that if we were to give up our protective system altogether it would be impossible for other countries to retain theirs much longer. Would you remove our own protection without any foreign country removing theirs?—Most certainly, without even asking them; I dislike treating with any foreign country upon any subject except navigation, and that for the reason that there would be waste in the matter of carriage between different countries, it would end in the ship always going empty one way; on both sides this would be a dreadful waste, from which every country would suffer in its commerce. And again:— A ship in one place is a ship in another, there is no difficulty in the comparison; but there is difficulty in comparing one description of goods which one country makes with a totally different description made in another, and equal terms can hardly be made; but I feel quite confident if we were entirely to drop our system of protection, in a very little time it would be a race with other countries which should be the first, or rather, which should avoid to be the last to come in for the benefit of that trade which we should then open. Mr. Villiers: Do you not consider a retaliatory duty as most adding to the injury which the duty imposed by the foreign country occasions in this country?—1 have always thought so. I have always disliked all treating in this matter; I would take what I wanted, and leave them to find the value of our custom. Chairman: Then that principle you would apply generally to the commercial transactions of this country?—Entirely so; I should make our laws according to what I deemed best, which would certainly be to give the freest possible introduction to the goods of other nations into our country, and I should leave others to take advantage of it or not as they thought fit. There can be no doubt that if we imported from any country any considerable quantity of goods, and the manufacture of that country were protected, the producers of these goods which we took would very soon find the great difficulty they had in getting their returns, and instead of soliciting the governments of those countries to admit our goods, our advocates for that admission would be in the country itself, they would arise from the exports of the goods which we received. Mr. Chapman: It is your opinion, that the trade of this country would flourish more without the intervention of commercial treaties with other nations?—I think that we should settle our commerce better by ourselves, than by attempting to make arrangements with other countries. We make proposals to them, they do not agree to these. We then, after that, feel repugnance to doing that which we ought, perhaps, in the first instance to have done of our own accord; and I go upon the principle that it is impossible for us to import too much, that we may be quite sure that the export will follow in some form or other. And that the making of the articles to be so exported, will be an employment infinitely more beneficial to this country than that which may be thus superseded. One more writer I may be permitted to quote, as the extract is not long, and very much to the purpose. Mr. Say, in speaking of commercial treaties says— It is incontestable that a nation, which deprives you of the faculty of trading with her, does you an injury. She deprives you of the advantages of external commerce, as far as regards herself, and consequently, if in making her fear for herself an equal injury, you can determine her to break down the barriers she opposes to you, doubtless such a means may find approval as a purely political measure. But this reprisal which is prejudicial to your rival, is also prejudicial to yourself. It is not a defence of your own interest which you oppose to an interested precaution taken by your rivals, it is an injury which you do yourselves, in order to do them another. You debar yourselves from useful relations in order to debar them from useful relations. It remains only then to ascertain up to what point you cherish vengeance, and how much you will consent that it shall cost you. He adds in a note— The colonies which rebelled at the beginning of this century (1800) such as La Plata, St. Domingo, or Haiti, have opened their ports to foreigners, they have insisted on no reciprocity, and they are richer and more prosperous than ever they were under the prohibitive system. The commerce and profits of the Havannah have doubled since by the force of circumstances, and contrary to the system of its metropolis, this Spanish colony has admitted all flags—the old States of Europe resemble those obstinate peasants who persist in their routine and their prejudices, although they see around them the very good effects of a better and wiser conceived system. This was written by Monsieur Say nearly twenty-five years ago, and see the practical commentary on it now. Spain, with the example of the Havannah before her eyes, drawing from thence resources even while her own are exhausted, is higgling with you for a treaty of commerce; and you, while endeavouring to shew her her bad political economy, are setting her the example of it. From this unhappy treaty have grown up jealousies and dissensions with other powers, and I will venture to say, that there will be more jealousies, and more differences, and that you will come to no arrangement at last. But if you want trade, and not treaties, admit freely the wines, and the oils, and the fruits, of Murcia, and Valencia, and Malaga, and Granada, and Seville, give free entry to the produce of the fertile soils of Arragon and Andalusia, and I will make bold to say, that these provinces, seeing their markets dependent upon the extension of yours, will be too strong for the monopolist manufacturers of Catalonia, backed though they be by the smugglers of the frontier, and the French manufacturers, by whom those smugglers are em- ployed; and that a mutual interchange will take place without a treaty at all, but will be carried out on the statute books of England and of Spain. But even allowing that I should be mistaken in supposing that if the interests of the whole of Spain besides should be set against those of the monopolist manufacturer, in spite of all, she should refuse to make any reciprocal concessions, I think the case of another great power, with whom you are bargaining at this moment, is a positive proof that an increased trade and an increased revenue is independent of such concessions. France has two staple commodities, brandy and wine; upon the first of these we have increased, upon the second we have lowered the duty. Let us see the result. First, with regard to brandy. In 1801, the duty on French brandy was 11s. 1d. per gallon. The import was 2,499,49l gallons, and the revenue received upon it was 1,382,718l.— the consumption per head being 0.15. In 1821, the duty was 22s. per gallon, at which rate it now remains,

Gallons. And the revenue raised on it. Consumption per head.
In that year the quantity imported was 1,013,400 1,031,217 0.05
In 1831 1,268,198 1,338,167 0.05
In 1841 1,179,927 1,346,700 904

So that in 1801, with a duty of 11s. 1d., 16,338,102 people (for that was the number of the population of that year) paid rather more to the revenue, than with a duty of 22s. 6d., 26,700,000 people paid in 1841. At the rate of consumption per head shewn in 1801, the quantity used by the population of 1841 would have been 4,006,750 gallons, and the revenue would have received 2,220,410l.; so that we have lost the opportunity of giving employment to labour in the manufacture of commodities to exchange for 2,826,823 gallons of brandy, and sacrificed 873,710l. of revenue. So much for an increased duty. Now let us see what is the effect of lowering a duty. In 1831, the duty on French wine was lowered from 7s. 3d. to. 5s. 6d. a gallon. The duty paid for consumption on French wine was—

Gallons. Revenue.
In 1831 on 254,366 £77,184
1832 228,627 62,331
1833 232,550 63,164
1834 260,630 71,131
1835 271,661 74,080
1836 352,063 96,534
1837 438,594 120,286
1838 417,281 113,992
1839 378,636 104,043
1840 341,841 96,756
1841 353,740 101,798
1842 382,417 110,055

But this is not all; when Lord Althorp in 1831 lowered the duties on French wine merely as a financial measure, and without reciprocal concessions at all, the value of our exports to France amounted to six hundred and odd thousand pounds, and in 1842 they had increased to between two and three millions. This shews, as clearly as statistics can shew anything, that it is our interest in every way to lower our import duties, without waiting for or demanding reciprocal concessions. And I will defy anybody to prove from your army of blue books, that an increase or decrease in our imports has ever failed in producing a corresponding increase or decrease in our exports. But do not believe that France as a nation, is not disposed to follow any example of commercial liberality which we may shew her. I hold in my hand a copy of a memorial from the city of Lyons, presented to the King of the French, which bore the signature of upwards of 300 firms of that city. I shall not quote the whole of this document, but I will read two extracts to shew the liberal commercial opinions of that great manufacturing town:— Germany each day diminishes its purchases, because we refuse the greatest part of the commodities with which she could furnish us. They finish by saying— Sire, if our interests were opposed to those of the country in general, to those of your Majesty's great and wise policy, we should not dare to raise our voices, but we would suffer in silence; it is not so however. The line of policy which your Majesty has marked out for France is that of the progress of peace, of association with all nations, by means of ex changes of every kind. It is not that isolates policy which some wish to adopt, under the pretext of national protection, and the security of existing interests. We have an imposing term for this in England. We call them rested interests. St. Etienne has adopted the same course; and a similar memorial from that town in which the iron and coal productions are carried on, as well as the manufacture of ribbons, has been signed, and is about to be presented to Louis Philippe King of the French. The Chamber of Commerce of Lyons have expressed nearly the same sentiments; and as far back as 1835, the Minister of Commerce, M. Duchatel, having issued a circular, requesting the opinions of the different towns, with regard to a contemplated change of import duties, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Lyons, Boulogne, Strasburg, Bar-le-duc, and one or two others pronounced themselves, through their respective Chambers of Commerce, if not in favour of free-trade, at all events for a very liberal course of commercial policy. In Portugal too the wine-growers of Oporto and Madeira, and the shipowners of Lisbon have loudly expressed their indignation at the ruin which is brought upon them for the sake of the manufactures, and, above all, the miserable cloth and fishery monopolies, upheld though they be by those high in station. And let me tell hon. Gentlemen opposite, that though in one country it may be the landowners, in another the manufacturers, who are oppressed by monopoly, in whatever country it may be, in whatever specious form, or under whatever delusive circumstances it may present itself, it is beginning to be universally acknowledged as a curse to the community, and the many who suffer are joined against the few who profit by it. Now, Sir, let me point to the position of the three countries I have mentioned, in respect of commercial treaties with England. France, Spain, and Portugal have each the same staple product. Upon the wine and brandies of each is levied the same duty. By relaxing the charge upon the staple of one of these countries, you create a differential duty in its favours to the prejudice of the others, and it is therefore the interest of each to oppose any arrangement at all. I know I shall be told that if you succeed in negociating a treaty by which, in exchange for certain concessions, you reduce the duty on the productions of one country, those whose productions are of the same description must necessarily, On pain of the ruin of their trade, come to your terms. Now, without descanting on the obvious fact, that if their trade with you is ruined, your trade with them cannot be in a flourishing condition, I may perhaps be allowed to throw out a suggestion as to whether it would not be advisable to force at all events two commercial treaties to a satisfactory conclusion; for by entering into terms, good or bad, with Portugal, according to this reasoning France and Spain must necessarily follow. But recollect that there is another alternative, and that is a rupture with the prejudiced party. I do not say this will be the case, but it may; we have seen a war-cry raised on a worse pretext than this, and I ask you seriously to consider the risk as well as the gain of a successful commercial negotiation. Of course, Sir, I have no means of knowing, and the public service would probably be invoked against any information being given as to the probable termination of these negotiations, beyond what was furnished by the right hon. Baronet at the commencement of this day's proceedings, and which certainly is explicit as to the fate of two out of the four important treaties in agitation; but I must say, that seeing the small prospect which exists of any conclusion to these treaties, I cannot but regret that the right hon. Baronet ever gave importance to his reform of the tariff last year, by exciting our hopes with regard to a remission of import duties on certain foreign productions at all. The incalculable mischief which has resulted from the uncertainty which prevails with regard to a change in the import duties on articles of great consumption is best exemplified by a return which was moved for by the hon. Member for the city of London, being an account of the numbers of gallons of Portugal wine on which the duties were paid in the United Kingdom in the several years ending the 5lh of January 1840, 1841,1842 and 1843, with the rate and amount of duty paid thereon distinguishing each year:—

Quantities charged with duty. Amount of duty received.
Year ended 5th Jan. 1840 2,998,151 823,875
Year ended 5th Jan.1841 2,773,404 785,452
Year ended 5th Jan.1842 2,481,345 715,950
Year ended 5th Jan.1843 1,399,708 403,134

Thus in consequence of the declarations of the right hon. Baronet last year, there is in the quantity imported a diminution of 1,081,637 gallons, and a loss to the revenue of 312,816l. This is the natural result of making commerce dependent on uncertain and secret diplomatic negotiations; for no merchant can invest capital in stock, which is from day to day liable to depreciation, from a change in the duty charged upon it. But why should we not at once adopt a course which will avoid all these evils? Why not (to use the forcible language of the right hon. Baronet himself), boldly resolve to buy cheap, whether other nations consent to buy cheap or no 1 Why not throw open our ports, saying to the whole world, bring hither your wine and your fruits, and your corn, and your coffee, and your sugar, without let or hindrance, and we will pay for them, (as only we can pay for them), with those commodities which we in our turn produce more economically than you. Then will be written on the wall, in characters which they cannot misunderstand, that which was said by Adam Smith, and which has been repeated by every political economist who has followed him, that "it is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home that which it would cost him more to make than to buy;"—and if they find a market open for their economical produce, but that there is a law at home, in the shape of an import duty, which prevents their making the most of that market, then it becomes the interest of every foreign merchant and every foreign man, to do his utmost to procure a repeal of that law—even as here in England, the agitation for free trade is occasioned by our seeing markets open to us, of which we are forbidden to avail ourselves. Thus, Sir, you will create emulation amongst nations as to which shall have the best trade with us. The wines of Spain, and Portugal, and France, and Germany, and Italy, will be in the market against each other. The corn of Poland, America, and Spain, and Germany will meet in rivalry; capital will be diverted from competition to barter with us. That country which gives the greatest freedom to our trade will carry the greatest development of its own at the expense of the others; and, 1 contend, that each in its own defence must lower its import duties on our commodities, in proportion as they are lowered by the other, for they would perceive that the only limit to their trade with us is that which their own import duties impose. And so let us acknowledge, that if we take care of our imports, our exports will take care of themselves; let us consider our own necessities, and be the first to see our own interest. Lord Bacon said—" Time is the greatest innovator, and if time of course alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel alter them not for the better, where shall be the end? "If we go back to the old times when clumsy waggons toiled over rough and neglected roads, bringing goods manufactured by a slow and laborious process to the ports, where wooden sheds received them, thence to be transported into slow sailing and unsafe vessels, to convey them to undefined and doubtful customers; and then, recollecting that the millions which have been derived from trade have been re-invested in trade, expended in ports, and in docks; in building ships and machinery, and, as it were shortening the space between our manufacturing and sea-port towns and thence to our foreign markets; if we contrast what was, with what is—if we compare the speculative venture of an age gone by, with the nicely calculated mercantile transaction of the present day, is it possible to defend the continuance of a system established for other wants, and under different circumstances, and say that it is adapted for our own? I believe that the trade of this country has outgrown the limits which were arbitrarily assigned to it. The mischief of uncertainty to which my motion points more particularly, is one of the many evils which must exist until the system in which it originates is abandoned altogether; and I implore this House not hastily or unthinkingly to decide against a principle, which I believe to be the only one which can reanimate industry, and restore the equilibrium of our commerce. I now beg leave to move— That an bumble address be presented to her Majesty, respectfully expressing the opinion of this House—that it is not expedient that any contemplated remission of Import duties be postponed, with a view of making such remission a basis of commercial negotiations with foreign countries.

Mr. Gladstone

acknowledged the fairness and ability of the statement of the hon. Gentleman, but at the same time he did not think, considering the state of the country, and its relations with foreign powers, that the discussion of the question which the hon. Gentleman had broached was expedient in itself or likely to be attended with advantages even in respect to the objects which the hon. Gentleman had in view. While protesting, however, against the inconvenience which might be occasioned by discussions of the kind, he could not much blame the hon. Gentleman for bringing before the House a resolution which he believed to embody matter important to the well-being of our commercial interests, but the hon. Gentleman was certainly very bold in his proposition. He believed that no hon. Gentleman had ever, at least within his recollection, submitted to the House for its adoption, any single proposition of the nature of that now brought forward without qualification; no one had ever submitted a proposition so broad and so sweeping as that to which they were now called to give their consent. The noble Lord opposite, at the commencement of the Session, had introduced a motion for the appointment of a committee to consider the advisability of the removal of commercial restrictions; but in his speech upon that occasion, while he expressed his disapprobation of commercial restrictions, he, nevertheless, did recognise—constrained by the necessity of the case—the principle that the removal of these restrictions was a question of degree, and that for a time a considerable portion of them must be endured. Other hon. Gentlemen had proposed free-trade with respect to certain articles—corn, for instance—but the present motion of the hon. Gentleman went much further than either of the propositions which he had cited, or any other; because, while the hon. Gentleman condemned all commercial restrictions, he also advocated the principle that at once and at one single stroke they should be abolished. For such, if they combined the propositions which it contained, would the resolution before them be found to amount to. With respect to vested interests, the hon. Gentleman did not allow that that consideration had any force. He did not allow that pending commercial negotiations afforded sufficient grounds for delay; and as for considerations of revenue, the hon. Gentleman would not tell him that they furnished grounds for opposing his motion, because he would say that revenue should be levied only for fiscal purposes, and that a reduction of duty would be the best way of accomplishing these purposes; but, so far as protective taxation was concerned, the motion of the hon. Gentleman meant, if it meant anything, that entirely and at once such duties should be removed. The hon. Gentleman bad, however, admitted that the commercial negotiations pending with foreign countries afforded at least some objections to his motion, which were worthy of consideration. It was more convenient to discuss the motion with reference to existing circumstances than to examine into its merits as an abstract proposition. They were not then thinking about introducing a system of restriction. They had not a fair field. They found themselves in certain circumstances, and they must give these circumstances their due weight. He should not be disposed to commit himself without qualification to any such proposition as that of the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the principles enunciated by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and laid down by many great authorities in the House and out of it; and he insisted that those principles which expressed a general rule of abstract truth as applied to commercial questions, should he applied to particular circumstances, without qualification and without reserve. He repeated, that he was not prepared to give his assent to any such principle. Admitting, as he did, the expediency of buying cheap as a general rule, he could not consent to applying it generally to all circumstances, without having regard to the course of previous legislation, and to its effect upon the distribution of domestic capital and labour. The hon. Gentleman might speak of vested interests with great lightness; and he was very ready to admit that they might often be made pretexts for maintaining schemes of gross selfish, ness, and highly injurious to the public, but he could not admit that all the investments of capital and labour which had been made in this country were to be wholly overlooked for the sake of a dogma of political economy. He admitted the evils of commercial retaliation, but he should be sorry to say that under no circumstances could commercial retaliation he desirable. It was not so of course in itself, but as a choice of evils. He claimed fee himself the liberty of applying the general doctrine to cases as they might arise, for the universal adoption of the general principle would have no effect, other than to throw obstacles in the way of beneficial legislation, and render it im- possible to obtain from foreign governments arrangements which they believed might greatly benefit the country, and which might be obtained by a judicious use of the import duties levied against them. With respect to commercial retaliation, was the hon. Gentleman aware of the latest case of the kind which had occurred? It happened in the year 1833, when the two noble Lords opposite were in office—when Lord Sydenham was at the head of the Board of Trade, and when there was every disposition on the part of the then Government to accede to liberal commercial measures. The King of Naples then imposed differential duties upon British ships, and what was the course taken? Why the Government met the measure with a double retaliation, for they first introduced a discriminating duty into our commercial law against Neapolitan ships, and another duty against Neapolitan produce. They first retaliated upon their ships, and then upon their goods; and he must remark, too, that articles of Neapolitan produce—particularly the article of oil—were highly valuable. That article was a necessary accessary to many of our manufacturing processes, and one which it was highly desirable should be purchased as cheaply as possible. He was happy that it had been found practicable to remove the enactments to which he had alluded. He gave no opinion as to whether they were wise or necessary; he mentioned them merely to show that those who had been most favourably inclined towards the doctrines of free-trade had admitted the necessity of commercial retaliation, and that, therefore, so far as that went, the hon. Gentleman would have to combat his own political friends. But he must observe that the question was not now one of retaliation—it was not now proposed that any measure of that nature should be adopted, although, as the hon. Gentleman knew, many measures exceedingly hostile to the commerce of this country had been lately adopted by foreign nations; but there was a material distinction between declining to adopt measures of retaliation and determining altogether to overlook the hostile proceedings of foreign countries. The hon. Gentleman had dealt in general maxims. He bad told them to take care of their imports, and their exports would take care of themselves. That principle was one, as he believed, deserving of the greatest attention, and great effect bad been given to it by the proceedings of last Session. He had wore than once heard it stated that those proceedings had reference to small and unimportant articles, and that the larger and more important articles had been carefully excluded from the operation of the tariff. Now, on the contrary, he had made inquiries in order to ascertain the value of the commodities to which the tariff applied, and he found that the reduction occasioned by it extended to an amount of imported commodities to the value of twenty millions of money. Free scope had, therefore, been given to the principle to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded, and when he quoted the declaration made last year by the right hon. Baronet, in recommendation of the propositions then before the House, and applied these declarations to present circumstances, without any qualification, he was quoting a principle which should be applied with material qualifications, because circumstances were greatly changed since it had been enunciated. Taking our former commercial creed as a whole, he thought that twelvemonths ago it was in the power of foreign countries to urge our own example against ourselves, when we pressed upon them the policy of admitting our production. But matters were changed by what had been done since, and although many high, and some extremely high duties remained on our commercial code, yet he believed, comparing it with those of other great commercial countries, it would be found that our own system was the least restrictive of them all. Take France, Germany, Spain, or the United States of America, compare their commercial codes with ours, and hon. Members would find that the latter was better adapted to facilitate commercial intercourse, and offered less impediment to mutual exchange, than did those of any of the great civilized commercial nations. Under these circumstances he thought that it was material to consider what would be the effect of the admission of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman upon, the distribution of labour, the investment of capital, and upon the commercial negotiations now pending. The hon. Gentleman had admitted that the effect of his motion if carried would be not only to damage, but to destroy the commercial negotiations now in progress. It would, in fact, render them ridiculous. The hon. Gentleman did not allow for the Political dangers attendant upon the adoption of such a course, In fact, he supposed that he did not believe that the House would adopt his measure, and that he had brought it forward merely for the purpose of discussion. He did not blame the hon. Gentleman for adopting such a course; but the hon. Gentleman could never have proposed that by a vote of this House the executive government should be compelled to send by the next mail a circular despatch to their agents, and representations abroad, wherever commercial negotiation were going forward, and announcing to them that they had nothing to do but to state that these negotiations had been broken off. Surely the hon. Gentleman would admit that the polity of nations would be grievously offended by such a course. Neither he could not put out of view the commercial effect which would be occasioned by the adoption of the hon Gentleman's motion. The hon. Gentleman stated that he thought that no contemplated reduction should he postponed on the ground of pending negotiations: that was to say, that no remission of duties should he used as an instrument for securing from foreign powers arrangements beneficial to our commerce. That was the hon. Gentleman's proposition. He proposed to deal with every article in the same manner. Now he (Mr. Gladstone) would deal with every article according to the peculiar circumstances of the case. Some commodities were articles of the greatest importance to the comforts of the people, whether as consumers or producers. Other articles, again, were articles of luxury, on which a duty was levied with difficulty, and which was not evaded by smuggling. He contended that the case of these articles of luxury was different from the case of articles of necessity and of production. He admitted that upon the former class the imposts should be as much as possible reduced, but they should not be placed in the same category with the latter. The facility of smuggling was an important element in the question of what classes of duties should or should not be removed. They had had taxes on articles which it was found impossible to levy. For instance, upon lace and watches. By the tariff, the taxes upon the latter were reduced to 5 per cent. It was not attempted to make the matter a subject of negotiation. It was hopeless duty. The great object of the Government, then, came to be, to get some revenue from this source rather than none at all, and to snatch from the smuggler that which belonged to itself. Again, take the case of wine. On that article, a large duty was levied, and that duty was perfectly compatible with a large consumption. The article was one consumed by the rich; the necessity for, or want of wine was not felt by the poor, and the duty was never evaded by the smuggler. Now, he contended that the article of wine was placed in extremely different circumstances from such articles as hemp or flax, or any articles which were the raw material of manufacture, or were in universal use among the people. Different modes of treatment should be applied to articles so circumstanced. Yet the hon. Gentleman maintained, that all these classes of articles should be included in one sweeping proposition, and that the reduction should be made at once, and without reference to the proceedings of foreign countries. There was another point on which he wished to say a few words. The hon. Gentleman had said, that while the West-Indian proprietors took care to have the privilege of selling their produce at prohibitory prices; that they also managed to avail themselves of the cheap sugar of the Brazils or Cuba, refined in bond in London, and then sent out. Now, the West-Indians were not guilty of any such gross inconsistency. They had made attempts in many islands, and succeeded in some, to impose the most enormous duties upon the importation of Cuba or Brazilian sugar, and he was quite sure that the hon. Gentleman would therefore see that there was really no foundation for the charge. [Mr. Ricardo: It had been made in an extract which he had quoted.] He had understood, that the hon. Gentleman had given the statement his sanction. But now, according to the abstract question of the application of the principle of the resolution, he would take his stand upon these grounds. The commercial negotiations to which allusion had been made, had been begun with many nations. They were experiments in the course of being tried, and the hon. Gentleman could not deny but that the pursuing of such negotiations, if they were successful, produced a still greater advantage than would be effected by the adoption of his principle. Suppose, that we induced foreigners to take our manufactures at moderate duties, at the same time that we took their productions at similar rates, did not the hon. Gentleman see that two benefits were gained instead of one? Therefore the state of the law on his own showing, afforded us the prospect of gaining two advantages, where otherwise, and by the adoption of his course, we could gain only one. Now, he did not think that this House, or the people of England were so fond of a mere abstraction, even though an abstract truth with respect to a complicated question of commerce — that they would be satisfied with merely adopting a dogmatic doctrine. The hon. Gentleman had quoted the opinions of Mr. Deacon Hume in his support. These opinions had been stated in 1840, and Mr. Deacon Hume was then in the Board of Trade. That body was then engaged in negotiating a system, to the principle of which the hon. Member objected. He might remark, however, that he was not aware that Mr. Deacon Hume had carried his opinions to the extent to which the hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that he meant. But on the occasion to which he was aluding, the Government were trying to enter into a commercial treaty with France. But it might be said, that France was an exception to the general rule—that it offered a great market, and that was of the utmost importance that friendly political relations should be kept up between us and that country. But that was language which it would be impossible to hold to other foreign countries. They could not make offers to France upon this principle, and say to another country we will not enter into similar arrangements with you. No one could say, that the issue of the negotiations pending might not be beneficial. It was true, that with respect to this matter, the hon. Gentleman had chosen a favourable evening for his motion. The state of negotiations with Portugal had been fairly announced, but he did not repent of that negotiation, notwithstanding the inconveniences which it had given rise to. He was sure that if the negotiations had done nothing else, they had given a deadly blow to the prohibitive system in Portugal, and strengthened the hands of those who were opposed to it. He confidently expressed his opinion that the negotiations would not be without their fruit, even although the treaty expected from them should not be concluded. How did they stand at present with foreign nations? Take the case of France. Some time ago reductions were proposed in the import duties on. French wines and brandies, and a change was likewise intended to be made with respect to the silk duties. On the other hand, the French government promised a reduction on many important articles in the manufacture of which not only the capital, but the productive industry of this country was invested. Well, on the one band, the French manufacturers were up in arms maintaining their protective theories—narrow and exclusive as they might be—but there they had them opposing the progress of commercial arrangements; while, on the other hand, the very fact of the negotiations having been entered into gave them this advantage that they had thereby acquired the support of organized bodies who favoured these negotiations, and approved of their objects. The Chamber of Commerce of Lyons had come to a resolution, not in favour of the unlimited adoption of free-trade, but to a resolution in favour of the proposed treaty with Great Britain. The wine-growers of France were anxious for the adoption of the proposed treaty, as were the wine-growers of Portugal anxious for the adoption of that with their country. Thus, by means of the regulations set on foot for the purpose of establishing these treaties, they had the advantage of gaining organised bodies to support arrangements which they believed would be for the public benefit, instead of trusting to the gradual advancement of the principles embodied in those arrangements, among the general mass of the people. They could not but expect that such an advance would be a slow one. What was everybody's business was nobody's business. They required a body which would feel the immediate effect of any proposed change, actually to support or resist it. As the noble Lord opposite had said in making the commercial propositions of the late Government, but whether correctly or not it was not for him then to inquire, "We have committees, resolutions, and combinations of all kinds against us, and with us we have nobody but the people. "For the people might have great interest or rights at stake, but they were not so easily awakened to the importance of a subject as those who had a direct personal interest in it. And, therefore, he thought that it was a most material advantage in their negotiation with foreign countries, in order to make them remove commercial restrictions, to secure the assistance of active and interested parties. He contended, therefore, however desirable it might be in the abstract to buy cheap, that those principles were not to take effect, and should not take effect without a careful examination having been first made of the result, they would be likely to produce in the displacement of labour, and in interfering with the course of the investment of capital, of trade, and the exchanges. The proceedings of foreign governments required to be looked to in the course of legislation, and particularly so at a time when they were endeavouring to effect a change in foreign commercial arrangements. These considerations, he thought, rendered the adoption of the resolution before the House highly inexpedient. If objectionable at any time, it was especially so now. The proceedings with respect to foreign nations were of that kind that the credit of the country was staked upon them—when great commercial offers were made by nations, it was to be presumed that they did so with serious intentions. It was assumed that these decisions were not to be changed in a moment, upon the discussion of a night, and he must be allowed to say that he could conceive nothing more unfortunate, under the circumstances, than the propogation of an idea that this country was acting a dishonest part in her negotiations—that she had been offering conditionally what she really meant to give unconditionally, and that she had been representing as a sacrifice that which was in fact an advantage. It unfortunately happened, however, that what they had offered to give up was really a sacrifice. The revenue was a material point, and by the offers which they had made, it would sustain a considerable loss. Taking the article of wine, we offered a reduction of duty which would cause a real defalcation in the revenue, which could not be raised perhaps with so much case to the people on any other commodity. But here we were met by another observation—" Reduce your duty, and you increase your consumption and revenue." That might be very well as a general principle: but would the hon. Gentleman prescribe it as the general specific for increasing our revenue? The hon. Gentleman quoted the instance of brandy, and said that in 1801 it was subject to a duty of l1s. 1d., while it now yielded 21s 4d. Now, he asked the hon. Gentleman, would he seriously recommend, in order to get the same amount of revenue as in 1801, to reduce the duty one-half. [Mr.Ricardo: Yes.] If that were the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, he was glad the management of the revenue of the country was in other hands. He should not have had the boldness to challenge the hon. Gentleman, looking at the wild nature of his motion, but he was satisfied that if the hon. Gentleman had the responsibility of Government on his shoulders, even he would be more slow than his avowal would seem to indicate, in reducing the amount of revenue. The hon. Gentleman said, that the remission of duties should nut be postponed on account of commercial negotiations. Would he, therefore, argue, that because the negotiations had fallen to the ground, the duties should be reduced to the amount contemplated when they were pending, and that at a loss to this country? Why, if such a change were made without looking for a substitute—without asking whether the same amount could be raised in any other manner so easy to the people, it would be carrying on the work of legislation blindfold. He contended, that however desirable it might be to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest —however natural it might be that the amount of exports should increase our imports, it would be extreme folly, bordering on absolute madness, to abolish our duties while negotiations were pending. The people of this country were not favourable to abstraction in political science, or in commercial regulations. The right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Trade, whose judgment carried great weight with it, and who was present in the former part of the evening, had, he thought, indicated his unpreparedness to support this motion by leaving the House. He thought he had a right to state that, as showing that Gentlemen who were practically disposed, as that right hon. Gentleman certainly was, to assist in the removal of commercial restrictions, did entertain the gravest doubts with respect to this sweeping proceeding of the hon. Member, in which, if the House involved itself, it would find the effect would be the creation of embarrassments that would prove beneficial neither to the employment of capital, nor the industry of the country. He trusted, therefore, that the House would not scruple to give a negative to the motion of the hon. Gentleman.

Viscount Howick

I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman, throughout the whole course of his speech, has laboured under a misconception of the real object of the motion—a misconception I am the more surprised at, considering his acknowledged and distinguished talents. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that the effect of the motion of the hon. Gentleman would be the immediate sweeping away of all restrictions, without regard to the vested interests of labour and capital in the country. I ask whether it be possible to conceive a motion more carefully worded with a view of obviating this very objection? For what is it that the hon. Gentleman asks the House to do? Why, simply to declare its opinion that it is not expedient that any contemplated remission of import duties should be postponed with a view of making such remission a basis of commercial negotiations with foreign countries. Sir, if the House should adopt the resolution proposed, and if the Government should assent to it, it will still remain in their breasts and be called upon practically to apply it to determine what reductions of duty are advisable with reference to our own interests, and paying a regard to the interests of the consumer, the producer, and the revenue. The Government would still beat liberty to enter in to all these considerations, in deciding as to the extent and nature of the reductions of import duties which it may be advisable to effect. All we should have decided by carrying the resolution would be that with respect to these reductions of duty which her Majesty's Government may determine to be in themselves desirable, then the House in effect would say, "Do not postpone those measures, which we consider to be so advisable for our own domestic interests, whilst you are conducting a miserable system of haggling and bargaining with foreign nations." Over and over again the right hon. Gentleman called this an "abstract resolution," and asked the House not to adopt such an "abstraction." Now it really appears to me that if ever there was a motion which avoided pledging the House to mere abstract theories, it is that before us. Let me just remind the House of the position in which we stand on this question. We are no longer, I am happy to say, called on to establish principles as to which much difference of opinion prevailed a few years ago. We have made great progress of late. and are now generally agreed as to some most important points. We all agree in the opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Govern- ment, "that it is our interest to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest." And there are few hon. Members who do not concur in the sentiment expressed by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, that "the principles of free-trade are the principles of common sense." With these opinions the great body of the House, on both sides, coincide. There are a few Gentleman indeed who entertain different views but even those who support what they call protection, and I call monopoly, endeavour to make out some special grounds for the measures they support, and seek some decent disguise for the old prejudices to which they yet cling, no longer venturing in opposition to the general sense of Parliament, advocate as generally sound those doctrines which I am old enough to remember were once paramount in this House. The question is really reduced to this-—how far it is safe to go in removing legislative restrictions on trade, and what is the mode in which we can proceed with the best chance of benefit to all parties? It is now settled that unrestrictive intercourse is desirable, and the question is, what is the safest and most practicable mode of arriving at that result? Now, Sir, I think, with reference to these considerations, the question brought before us by the hon. Gentleman is of the greatest importance; because undoubtedly it is a nation which very generally prevails, even amongst gentlemen who are favourable to the policy of free-trade, that we should not abolish our high protecting duties unless we can prevail on other nations to proceed on the principle commonly termed one of reciprocity. For myself, I confess I entirely dissent from that principle; and I am, therefore, most grateful to the hon. Gentleman who has brought forward this question with remarkable ability and clearness. I think he submits to the House the practical question—all being agreed that it is desirable that trade should be relieved as well from our own laws of restriction as those of foreign countries—is it the best mode to adopt, in order to arrive at this result, to make the removal of your excessive duties on importation a matter of negotiation, or will you, without waiting for the decision of foreign countries, proceed to take the lead and make the reductions you think safe and desirable in your own duties without reference to what they may think proper to do? This is eminently a practical question, and in the present state of the country it is desirable it should be solved. I, for one, certainly agree in the opinion that commercial legislation ought not to be made dependent on that of other countries. We should consider what is best for the people of this country, being guided in the imposition of duties by no other consideration than this—what duties are necessary to raise the revenue, regard being had to the exigencies of the public service, with the least possible pressure on the people. Now, as to the other course, of making every reduction a matter of negotiation, experience has not hitherto been in favour of it. Gentlemen of great ability on the opposite side, and a noble Friend of mine, not now in his place (Viscount Palmerston), have endeavoured, with a perseverance, ability, and ingenuity worthy of the highest praise, to effect this object by negotiation, and induce other countries to arrive at a system of more commercial freedom. And what is the result? Have they gained anything in attempting by these means to bring about so desirable a result? The right hon. Gentleman tells us to-night that the two pet negotiations with Brazils and Portugal are ended—the game is up, and our negotiator has packed up his cards and retired. With France and Spain, it is true, there is no intimation of an immediate termination to our negotiations, but at the same time, there is no outward and visible sign of our approaching any satisfactory result. On the contrary, since these negotiations commenced, France has imposed new duties, and onerous duties on our yarn which has produced no slight feeling amongst the manufacturers. And this, unhappily, is not the only result. It is not merely that We have gained nothing in the way of arriving nearer to free-trade; on the contrary, we are worse off in that respect than we were before, and that is not all—far from it. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down admitted freely the truth of What Was stated by the hon. Gentleman, that the doubt existing as to the result of the negotiations with Portugal had been attended with the greatest inconvenience; that it had injured the revenue, and paralysed the trade in wine; and that the indirect effects of it had been felt by other trades which were connected with the trade in wine. Even constituents of my own have applied to me, being extremely anxious to know when the matter Will be settled; because, while it is in doubt and uncertainty, no wine-merchant can safely take wine out of bond, as he may subject himself to a loss should a sudden reduction in the duty take place. The consequence of that is, that the bottling of wines is entirely at a stand, and the stock of bottles has so accumulated that the bottle-makers are obliged to discontinue the manufacture. In many other cases, effects are produced, injuring trade in consequence of the expectation of future reduction of duty. Nor is this all. Not only have you caused all this inconvenience to trade and loss to revenue, but at the same time the progress of this negotiation is necessarily attended with increased irritation, both with respect to the countries with which we are treating, and others. The hon. mover put that argument very strongly, and the right hon. Gentleman, (as persons in office are apt to do with an argument which is difficult to answer) glanced over it very lightly. It is notorious that the effect of our negotiations with Spain has been to cause great irritation throughout France, and such in all cases is the consequences of these negotiations to confer and obtain particular advantage. The right hon. Gentleman, however, argued that, though our negotiations were not attended with any advantage, they had been by no means unfavourable to this country. He said— It is true we have failed for a moment in obtaining commercial treaties with Portugal and France, but we have raised up a party in each country strongly in favour of our views, who will never cease their efforts until they obtain freedom of trade. I do not see that the agitation of these questions in France and Portugal can be of the smallest use to us until it is successful. And hitherto, so far from the demand for free-trade being successful, the contrary opinion has been gaining ground. And, for my own part, I am persuaded that these very interests would be more powerfully exerted in our favour if we led the way in remitting our duties, and took out of the mouths of foreign governments the argument, "Oh we cannot forego our revenue, when the English Government is so unreasonable in its demands." But of all the inconvenient results of this system of negotiation, perhaps, the greatest of all is, that, when we have offered a reduction of duties, which upon domestic considerations, we may think highly advisable in return for concessions on the part of other countries, and they have refused, and the negotiations are broken off, it becomes extremely difficult to act for ourselves, and we can hardly make unconditionally reductions which we have said we will not grant except as a boon for reciprocal concessions by other parties. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Peel) it is true held rather different doctrines last year. He then distinctly said— Make every possible effort to obtain reciprocal advantages from other countries; but if you fail, you should not refuse to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, for the purpose of punishing other countries. I quite agree with the right hon. Baronet, but if we once cause this to be known —if we once allow foreign nations to entertain a well-founded suspicion, that when we are offering concessions upon certain conditions, they have only to show a little obstinacy and patience in order to get those concessions from us unconditionally, there is at once an end to our power of carrying on any such negotiations with effect. For instance, negotiations have been carried on with Portugal, and the right hon. Gentleman has stated that he had intended if he could have obtained some corresponding concessions from that country to make a considerable reduction of the duties on wine and fruit. Such a measure, I believe, both upon financial considerations, and with a view to the interests of the consumer would be extremely advisable. But the very fact of having entered upon these negotiations, and then been forced to abandon them, to a great extent debars us from the possibility of making these reductions for a considerable time; because, having broken off the negotiations with Portugal, if we were within a year, or even a longer period, to make unconditionally those very reductions about which we have been bargaining, the moment we did so, France and Spain, and other countries would say, "We now understand the policy of England, it is to try to get a great deal; but stand firm and you will get all you want in a little time without making any concession in return." Therefore the line of policy chalked out by the right hon. Baronet last year was one that was practically impossible to be followed. The right hon. Gentleman has also argued that when we are making these offers to foreign countries we are not making them merely as advantageous to ourselves. He said that we were making real concessions. First, as to the wine duty, he said we should be making a bonâ fide sacrifice of revenue, and the right hon. Gentleman doubted if we should be able to raise the same amount of revenue in any other way with so little burthen to the country. If that argument be true, and the present wine duties are the least onerous mode of raising that amount of revenue, I must object to altering those duties, not in reference to the domestic interests of the people of this country, but in compliance with the wishes of other countries. I deny that by such a remission we can gain anything to counterbalance that loss of revenue, if the case really is as it is represented. My own conviction is, that duties should be imposed in reference only to domestic interests, and for the single purpose of raising with the smallest possible amount of importation the revenue required for the public service. Some consideration, of course, for vested interests, should be had in any changes we may make, for where an interest has grown up here, it should be treated with great tenderness. But this would be found practically to interfere little with the carrying out of the general principle, for when we look carefully into the position of the persons having those interests, we discover, as in the case of the landowners, that they would not lose by the adoption of measures calculated to promote the general good. Hitherto we have vested on a very different principle, the whole of our commercial policy rests on the assumption that our export trade is more valuable than our import trade. It is impossible to look at the subject with any degree of attention without at once seeing that the whole fabric of our commercial negotiations rests on this assumption which is a complete delusion. It is the remains of the old doctrine of some hundred years ago, that the great object of national exertion ought to be to secure what was termed a favourable balance of trade. The childish notion, as it is now considered was generally entertained, that the only profitable trade was one in which our exports exceeded our imports, by which a balance payable in the precious metals, accrued. In accordance with this view, every nation directed its efforts to increase its exports and to diminish its imports, but now every gentleman of ordinary education has utterly abandoned this theory. It is no longer believed that the supposed balance of trade is the great object of national interest; all are aware that the great ad- vantage of trade consists not in what we send out of the country, but in what we receive. It is the addition which trade makes to the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries of the people that renders it really beneficial. The export trade is valuable no doubt, but it is not as the end, but as the means of paying for the commodities placed at the disposal of the people. I am sure the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government agrees with these propositions. But if this is a sound and correct view of the advantages of trade, let me ask what could you suffer by removing your exorbitant duties? The only damage which you can suffer from other countries maintaining their restrictive code is, that your means of importing are lessened. Suppose France maintains her anti-commercial policy, while you admit her goods at a low rate of duty, all that happens is this, that it is possible your revision of duty may be inoperative. And for fear they should be guilty of the monstrous absurdity of restricting your means of importation, you take care, by a thumping duty, to stop directly that importation which foreign countries can only indirectly stop. This is an argument which those below the gangway may consider it easy to deal with, but which I really do not see how the right hon. Gentleman, agreeing as he does with me in the principles of free trade, can get over. I know these abstract arguments must be wearisome to the House, but I hope I shall be allowed to trace a little more accurately what would be the practical result of our adopting the policy which I recommend. Suppose we were to make a large remission of duty, leaving it to other countries to follow our example or not as they should think fit, what would be the effect of such a step? Suppose the right hon. Gentleman were to give Portugal all the advantages of the reduced duties which were offered her, and that she should continue the duties on her side as they now are, what would be the result. In the first place, in this country the revenue would, I have no doubt, in a very short time recover from an immediate defalcation, and in the meantime the consumer would gain very largely. In fruit, I have no doubt that a very large and important trade would spring up, greatly to the benefit of our own consumers; but should we have nothing more? I contend that we should I also have, most undoubtedly, a correspond- ing increase in the activity of our export trade, whether Portugal made any of the reduction of her duties which we have asked for or not. This, I think, is easily made out. It is quite clear, that every merchant who imports a pipe of wine will have a bill drawn upon him for the value, and whatever may be the total amount of the importations, the same would be the amount of the bills drawn in Portugal upon the merchants here. If, therefore, the increase of the importation of Portuguese wine and fruit were 10,000l., 100,000l., or 1,000,000l., there would be a corresponding increase in the amount of the bills drawn by Portugal upon this country. For these bills the merchants must provide, and how? If the trade with Portugal increase in the exports, whether legal or illegal, in the same proportion as the importations from that country, there will be no difficulty, the matter will be adjusted; but assume that it is not so.—suppose there is no extension of the export trade.—there would be an immediate demand upon this country for payment by bills drawn in Portugal; the consequence would be, that if there were any other country in which the trade with Portugal was in a different position from this—from which Portugal received more than she supplied in return—from that country, the interest of the bill-brokers here would very soon induce them to obtain bills upon Portugal, and to those countries British manufactures would be sent instead of to Portugal. But admit that this would not be done—what next? The moment that the bills upon Portugal rose to a certain premium, and that in these days of steam intercourse would not be very high, gold and silver would be sent to discharge them—but this gold and silver we must get from other countries —. we must pay for them, which we can only do by exporting the produce of our industry; and thus the transaction would resolve itself into an indirect instead of a direct payment. The consequence would be that we should send our manufactures, not to Portugal, but to South America, while Portugal would not be able to keep the bullion thus received from us to a larger amount than her wants require, but would be forced to send it to some other country; very likely it might be used to carry on a smuggling trade with its neighbour, Spain. It is impossible that the ingenuity of man can point out any different operation; but, then, how will Portugal be affected? because that is a most material consideration. The moment the importation from Portugal increased, the power of the Portuguese people to consume British manufactures would be increased in the same proportion. Their means for paying for those manufactures would increase also, and with that—as I believe the taste for British manufactures is not wanting—I am persuaded that a great demand for British manufactures would spring up, If that should be so, Portugal would be unable to prevent their being supplied. The feelings and common sense of mankind are so universally enlisted against high duties, that practically it is impossible to maintain them. If both parties concur, if there be the same folly on both sides, it is more difficult for trade to force itself up; but if one party open its ports freely, and increase the facility of a return trade, and the country which wants to pay its debt deals in the articles easy of conveyance, as is the case with this country, instead of agricultural produce which we receive from other countries, it is utterly impossible that extravagant duties can be maintained. We have proofs that goods, for which there is a strong demand, and for which extravagant duties are payable, will, in some way or other, be brought in. Smuggling is the invariable attendant of high duties. A pregnant proof of this has recently been furnished in the history of the Custom house frauds. God forbid that I should for a moment attempt to justify the parties implicated in those proceedings—either those who tempted the Custom-house officers to betray their duty, or the officers who yielded to that temptation; but whilst human nature continues what it is, if the temptation to commit fraud be very great, it will not always be resisted. Another illustration of the truth of this remark may be found in the recent increase of illicit distillation in Ireland. Our whole financial history shows that exorbitant duties are invariably made the subject of fraud and evasion, whether they are applied to tobacco, spirits, lace, gloves, or any other article. The desire of mankind to evade high duties will always prove too strong for legislation. If we experience this difficulty—if it be too powerful to be surmounted even by this country, is it, let me ask, likely to be overcome by other countries less favourably circumstanced? Have we no peculiar advantages in this respect? Without speaking with undue pride of our own country, may we not be permitted to say, that it possesses facilities for the collection of Custom-house dues beyond those enjoyed by any other nation. Look at the stability of the Government which hag endured for so long a series of years—look at the large class of educated man who are, as it were, trained to the public service and employed in enforcing the laws—consider the high standard of public morality in this country, and the vary different notions which are entertained here respecting the culpability of taking bribes, and giving in to other unfair practices of that description, from those which, without offense to other countries, I must say prevail abroad—looking at the rate of pay and pensions to officers in this country, and the great establishments which the magnitude of the revenue makes it worth our while to maintain, taking these thing into consideration, if we can not prevent the smuggling which is induced by high duties, how is it possible that foreign states can effect that object? Why, to maintain such an establishment as our coast blockade, would nearly exhaust the revenue of a country like Portugal All our precautionary measures, however great as they are, are ineffectual for the prevention of smuggling; and we find that, far a premium of ten, twelve, and, in some cases, twenty, per cent., any duty can be evaded. It is perfectly notorious that a person may buy any quantity of jewallery at Geneva, and have it delivered at his house in London for certain percentage, and no payment will be demanded till the goods are delivered. This being the case, I ask whether other countries can maintain the system of exclusion more effectually than we do? I am persuaded that it is impracticable, and that the efficiency of foreign tariffs arises as wholly due to our own prohibitory measures, I have already stated, that if we had free commercial intercourse with all the world, was should experience no difficulty in paying for any amount of goods might purchase; in fact, the difficulty we know from experience is all the other way, except in the corn trade, where the unhappy influence of the sliding scale will stop importation for four or five years, and then introduce at once a quantity which we have to bring from continent at a Cost of 5,0O0,00O l sterling. We never find any difficulty in providing means of payment for any goods we purchase. Any merchant will tell you that the difficulty is all the other way. There exists in many parts of the world the strongest desire possible to purchase our manufactures, but our merchants with all their ingenuity, can find no mode of realising returns for their goods. This is the state of our trade at the present moment, and it clearly points to the necessity of adopting a different course from that which has been followed of late years. That is the object of the hon. Member's motion, and therefore I will give it my support. Before I sit down, I will notice only one more argument which was advanced in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the hon, Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, had overlooked what would be the political effect of his motion, I think the right hon. Gentleman's words were, "After having entered into negotiations with foreign countries, to which we are pledged to a certain degree, would it be courteous to send round a circular to all our ambassadors to announce that we had abandoned all the propositions we had previously made?" That is an ingenious way of putting the question; but, I think, it is a singularly unhappy one, considering what has passed to-night. When the right hon, Gentleman talked about the motion putting an end to our negotiations with foreign countries, ho ought to have remembered that very little was left for it to do in that way. The negotiations on which the Government prided itself are pretty well disposed of already. The negotiations with Portugal and Brazil—the only two which showed any signs of vitality —have, according to the declaration which the right hon. Baronet made this evening, been knocked on the head. The present moment, when all our hopes of successful issue of any of our negotiations are melting away is appropriately selected for the motion. There would have been something in the right hon. Gentleman's argument if foreign countries had acceded to our propositions, and we had. then turned round and told them, "we will not agree to what we proposed." But the case is exactly the reverse; they have rejected our overtures, and we should be perfectly justified in saying to them, "We think you unwise; but your want of wisdom will prove more injurious to yourselves than to us, and therefore we now freely and gratuitously make the concession for which we before expected an equivalent.' If we lay down the principle that we will settle our duties according to the view we take of our own interests, and will leave other countries to do the same, no foreign power can have any cause to complain. I am firmly persuaded that by adopting this honest, this manly course, we should raise our character in Europe, and set an example which would be speedily followed, and the result would be, that in a few years the hostile tariffs, of which we are now so much afraid, would cease to exist amongst the great majority of foreign nations. This, I am persuaded, would be the result of the adoption of the policy recommended in the motion of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent; and what shall we have if we pursue a different course? I ask the House merely to look at the position in which we stand. For years the ablest men of the two great parties in the country have been fruitlessly employed in negotiations, the most important of which have just been broken off, and the longer this course is pursued, the more hopeless appears to be the chance of coming to a settlement, because the question becomes more complicated by the private interests which are affected, and by the hopes and expectations which are excited. Looking to these circumstances, and to the jealousy which foreign nations naturally entertain of our commercial pre-eminence, and their fear of being overreached by us, can any rational man believe that negotiations for commercial treaties in future years will prove more successful than they have been in the past years? For my part, I am of opinion that the records of the Foreign Office on this subject are full of misapplied ingenuity and laborious trifling, and it would have been better if nine-tenths of them had never been written. I fear that from the sentiments which I have expressed, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite will impute to me the same rashness which he attributed to the hon. Mover. Under that imputation I am willing to rest. I believe that the time has come when it is the duty of every Member of this House to throw aside those conventionalties of expression to which we are so much accustomed, and boldly to declare the opinions which he really entertains. In the awful condition to which this country is reduced, I think it is the wisest, safest, and, I will add, the most cautious policy to act boldly and manfully on general principles, of the truth and soundness of which we are convinced.

Viscount Sandon

observed, that the evidences of misapplied ingenuity and laborious trifling to which the noble Lord had alluded, must have been the work of the noble Lord, the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, as the present Government could have had no time to accumulate anything of the sort. That noble Lord had meddled largely for ten years with such negotiations, and his success had certainly not been such as to give credit to that mode of proceeding. The noble Lord, who had just sat down, would, no doubt, be very zealous for the extension of the commercial relations of the empire; but the course proposed by the hon. Mover, and approved of by the noble Lord, was one that would deprive the Government of one of the most powerful instruments in effecting their object. Not only that, but the question what duties should be kept on, and what duties should be struck off in respect of foreign productions, it was often not only a material element, but in fact the deciding consideration, whether a reduction could be made the instrument of inducing foreign countries to admit the manufacturers of this country into the countries, from which those productions were imputed. What other consideration, indeed, than this, could be the inducement to make to Portugal the sacrifice of several hundred thousand pounds of revenue for the duties on wine? But for an equivalent in the increased exportation of our manufactures, that clearly would not be the tax the most important to reduce; the duties on cotton, on wool, on various other articles on their own merits, would have a decided preference. But with an equivalent in the shape of an extended market for our manufactures, that reduction must fairly claim a preference. Negotiation, therefore, in such a case, was a necessary ingredient in such a question. The merits of one reduction or another could not be decided without it. But did the noble Lord really think, that if, with the powerful instrument of an offered advantage in our hands, we had been thundering in vain at the doors of foreign nations for the admission of our manufactures, it was likely that we should obtain our object, and that the doors would fly open when we had thrown that instrument away? It was constantly assumed as an undoubted fact, that foreign nations were, anxious for free-trade, and would at once agree to it if we set the example. He denied, that we had the slightest ground for such an assumption,—on the contrary, experience showed the temper of foreign nations to be quite the reverse. The more we had advanced towards free trade, and the more political liberty had progressed in foreign countries, the more had local prejudices and interests increased in power and influence, and the more successfully had they opposed the introduction of any manufactures which interfered with their own. These assumptions rested on no solid experience. Every step of this country in her commercial regulations, for a long time past, had been towards free-trade and in favour of relaxation; but what had been the consequence? Had our example been followed by other nations? No; on the contrary, every step we had made towards relaxation had raised up some fresh barrier on the part of foreign nations. Our relaxations of last year had been met by six hostile tariffs on the part of foreign nations. Another fallacy constantly put forward, was, that all imports were paid for in manufactures. He denied that such was the case. On the contrary, vast quantities were occasionally paid for in gold, to the great derangement of our circulating medium, and the injury of the many interests in this country. The balance of trade with the United States at this moment was against us, and we were now making large remittances in bullion to that country. Nay, when speaking of foreign countries, hon. Members were very apt to lament the injury inflicted on them by our refusing to admit any portion of their productions, the sugar of Brazil or Cuba for instance; it was only when speaking of our own manufactures, that it became a matter of indifference, whether there was to be a mutual exchange of products or no. His objection to such a motion as the present was that it allowed the Government no option with respect to the arrangements they might think it desirable to make with foreign powers. The present Government had certainly shown no indisposition towards a relaxation of the import duties; even independent of negotiation, they had proved this by the tariff of last year; but the hon. Member would deprive them of the power of making such arrangements with other nations as would secure, in other cases, proper facilities to our manufacturers. There were two ways of reducing import duties, one with the other, without reference to the duties imposed on our manufactures in foreign countries. The one may, no doubt, se cure to the consumer the article at a cheaper price; but the other, while it cheapened the article consumed by the reduction of the duty, would over and above secure the admission of our produce into the country benefitted by the reduction of the duty upon its produce, and thus procure an advantage to the producer of this country as well as the consumer. Surely, if attainable, this was the more desirable process of the two; and it was because he did not wish to see the power of effecting that object taken out of the hands of the Government that he should oppose the motion of the hon. Member.

Lord J. Russell

The noble Lord who has just addressed the House, has incidentally revived a theory which I thought had been long since exploded. I allude to the theory of the balance of trade, but I must say, that the noble Lord has, to my mind, failed to produce any convincing refutation of the arguments of Adam Smith on this point, which, I confess, have always appeared to me to approach as near to demonstration as any reasoning on a question of political economy possibly can do. The noble Lord also observed, that the relaxation of our commercial restrictions which we made last year, did not lead to the adoption of similar measures by foreign countries; but that, on the contrary, six new tariffs of a hostile character were immediately afterwards issued against us. I cannot tell exactly for what reason the noble Lord adverted to that fact. Did the noble Lord intend to show, that the relaxation we effected last year was unwise—that we ought no longer to continue in that course, but should go back to the system which previously existed? If the noble Lord's argument is good for anything it is good for that. One remark, however, 1 must make to the noble Lord, as I have before made it to the House, and it is this—that although in 1842 the theory of free-trade was brought forward here, and supported by the Government and by a great majority of this House, and advocated in the eloquent speeches of Members of the Government which proposed it, yet it is probable that the governments of foreign countries, in adopting the hostile tariffs to which the noble Lord has referred, had in view the doctrines preached, not in 1842, but in 1841, in conformity with which, the House of Commons, by a majority, refused to consent to any relaxation of the prohibitory duties on foreign sugar—in conformity with which they refused to consider the question of a relaxation of the Corn-laws, and in the opinion of a great number of people in the Country (it may be that they are simple and deluded people), established as the opinion of the majority of this House, and of the great leading party now in possession of the government of this House, that the maintenance of restriction, prohibition, and protection, was a wise policy. I Say it is very likely, that foreign governments, adopting the doctrines Which were propounded in this House in 1841, had previously resolved upon these six hostile tariffs before we made the relaxation of our restrictive system last year. Passing from the arguments of the noble Lord, I conceive the question before the House to be, whether it is expedient to make any further relaxation of our commercial system with respect to articles of import, the duties on which were left untouched by the tariff last Session. We all remember that when the tariff was under consideration, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government said he had excepted from the operation of reduction certain duties which he did not mean to uphold as being necessary to any interest of this country, but which he wished to reserve as objects to be made the subjects of negotiations with foreign powers. I find no fault with the Government for having pursued that course. The Government which preceded the present, and to which I had the honour to belong, had begun those negotiations with several countries, and I think it was quite natural that the existing Government should wish to carry on the negotiations, in order to see whether any advantageous result could be derived from them, But, at the same time, the right hon. Baronet expressed a strong opinion as to the propriety of making a change in the law respecting those reserved articles of import, whatever foreign countries might do in the way of negotiation; and not only did the right hon. Baronet state that as a general proposition, but he showed practically the mischief resulting from high duties. The right hon. Baronet read a letter, written by a person engaged in what he called the "indirect trade," by which was meant smuggling, who stated that he would undertake to introduce into this country fo- reign silk manufactures at a premium of from 8 to 10 per cent., and other articles at a duty not much higher. The noble Lord the President of the Board of Trade stated, in another place, that any article of French manufacture could be smuggled into this country on payment of a premium of from 10 to 12 per cent. Evidence was given before the Import Duties' Committee respecting the extent to which smuggling was carried in the articles of French silk and brandy. [Mr. Gladstone: Not brandy.] Yes; brandy. Mr. Porter in his evidence, proved that the entries in the French Custom-house of the export of these articles differed very materially from the imports entered in the Customhouse books in this country. In 1834, the difference in brandies was 1,200,000 gallons. Now if this quantity escaped the customs duty, and was introduced into this country by the smuggler, would it not be worth while to consider whether it would not be better to impose a duty Somewhere about 10 or 12 per cent. received by the smuggler, so that our merchants Would find it their interest to conform to the law, and no person would be tempted by the very great difference of duties to Introduce by smuggling that which might be introduced On the payment of a moderate duty? With reference to this point, I was greatly surprised to hear the tight hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, express a doubt as to the soundness of the hon. mover's argument, that with a less nominal duty, We should have increased revenue. The proposition is so obvious, that it appears to me almost impossible to contradict it. The principle of the thing is as old as the epigrammatic condensation of Dean Swift, that in custom-house arithmetic two and two do not always make four, frequently do not make three, and sometimes do not even make one. After the truth of this proposition has been established for a century and a-half, it certainly did astonish me to hear a doubt hinted upon the subject by the right hon. Gentleman who is the most eloquent defender of free-trading, and one of the greatest oracles I ever heard in the House on that question. And I would ask, is not the time now come for Carrying out principles of which the justice is generally admitted, and admitted by the Ministers themselves? The right hon. Gentleman himself last Session stated on this subject what I consider the true principles of po- litical economy, and I would ask, is not the time com for giving effect to those principles? With respect to the negotiations lately going on with Portugal, with a view to the conclusion of a commercial treaty, we have heard to-night that those negotiations have closed. With respect to the Brazils, the right hon. Gentleman told us in 1841 We ought not to diminish the prohibitory duty On sugar, because a moral consideration was involved in the question; namely, the slave-trade. This point Was repeatedly urged against us then, and we were severely censured for not making some proposition to the Brazilian govern-meat respecting the slave-trade, before we came forward with a proposal for the reduction of the duty on Brazilian sugar. Tonight the right hon. Gentleman has told us the result of his negotiation with Brazil. He has told us the nature of the proposals made to Mr. Ellis by the Brazilian government, proposals which Mr. Ellis very properly rejected, as he had no authority for acceding to them. But what meanwhile, has become of the right hon. Gentleman's declaration relative to the slave-trade? It does not even appear to have been mentioned in the course of these negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman does not appear to have ventured even to lay the subject before the Brazilian government. I may have misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, but such at least has been the impression conveyed by his announcement. Then what farther moral advantage are we to expect with respect to the slave-trade, from persevering in our present course? And if we have no ground for such an expectation, may we not ask again whether this be not the proper time for reconsidering our commercial policy? —and whether this be not the moment for reflecting, whether it would be better to leave our present tariff untouched, or to apply to it the same sound principles of relaxation which, as the noble Lord tells as, have already been carried into effect with respect to articles of import amounting to 20,000,000l. annually. The answer, I know, will be, that you have already adopted this policy, and have only made special exceptions; but the special grounds of those exceptions have now vanished from beneath your feet, and that being the case, the time is arrived when, on your own showing, you ought to apply those general principles, the justice of which you have yourselves admitted. I think, therefore, with respect to many of those articles to which allusion has been made, such as sugar, brandy, silk, and other articles on which high prohibitive duties are now levied, or of which a large portion of the importations into this country are effected through the medium of the smuggler. I think, with respect to these articles, Government should propose some measure of relaxation tending towards freedom of commerce. With respect to particular points, I think the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this motion very properly abstained from entering upon them. He very properly confined himself to the general principles of his resolution. For my own part, I have no wish even that the House should establish any abstract principle, unless I find the Government opposed to those principles. If I hear from the Government that they are considering these subjects, and that they intend to propose some measures, then I shall say, let us by no means fetter the Government by our resolutions. If, however, these principles are to be opposed, then I think the House of Commons ought to be at liberty to consider what course ought to be followed. This resolution binds Government to no relaxation but such as may be for the welfare of the country. I do not say, as the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade seems to argue that any remission of duties should at once be proposed, independently of any negotiation going on with foreign countries. To take the article of wine, for instance. On the subject of wine, I am unable to give an opinion as to what would be the most advisable course. The duties on wine have been altered so much that the differential duties formerly existing between the wines of France and Portugal have been entirely got rid of. The consequence of that alteration has been an increased revenue; but I am quite unable to say whether a farther remission would bring about a still farther increase of revenue. The question, however, is one that ought to be considered; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the means at his command of investigating the question. If he finds that he can safely carry the remission of the duty on wine farther than it has yet been carried, the course ought to be determined on at once; if, on the contrary, the right hen. Gentleman has grounds for believing that no increase of consumption would follow from such a remission of duty on an article consumed by the rich rather than the poor, then I should say that no alteration ought to be made in the duties on wine. With respect to all these matters, this resolution only affirms that you should look into the subject, without reference to any commercial treaty. With regard to the political consideration, though I cannot agree with my noble Friend the Member for Sunderland in his taunts at the arts of diplomacy, still I do believe that we should stand better with foreign nations if we made these alterations without any regard to commercial treaties. To take the case of France, for instance. It is certainly desirable to increase our commerce with that country; but after what we have seen during the last three years, we may rely upon it, that if we succeed in concluding a commercial treaty with France, a great portion of the French people would consider that we had driven a hard bargain with them, and that their Minister had been cajoled into a contract injurious to his country. A blameable subserviency on his part towards this country would be imputed to him by a very large proportion of the people of France, and such an impression it ought certainly not to be our object to produce. If, however we were to adopt such a course on the great principles of trade, as would be understood by all nations, if we were to admit at such fair duties as would effectually counteract the efforts of the smuggler, the principal articles which are the produce of France, we should not find a single person even suspecting us of wishing to take an advantage, and could not fail to conciliate the good will of the people of that country. The adoption of such a system of legislation conciliating the French people, would, in the end, promote our interests more than any terms we might hope to obtain by a commercial treaty. It would in the end do more than anything else, by opening in each country an extensive field for the sale of the productions of the other, to bind the two countries together in mutual intercourse, and would prove the best and most lasting means of preserving peace and good will betwixt them. Although, therefore, I have no wish that a resolution of this sort should be carried, if Government has it really in contemplation to do anything, yet if they mean to do nothing, but rather to abjure the principles which they themselves put forward last year, then I can only say that I shall have much pleasure in recording my vote for this motion.

Mr. D'Israeli

said that the noble Lord who had just addressed the House had indulged in a traditional sneer against the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) for his policy with respect to what was called the balance of trade. It had been truly said by Sir Walter Raleigh that what was wrong in the main, might still be right in the detail. Now, he considered that anything that could cause a sudden abstraction of the precious metals from this country must necessarily affect the commercial transactions of the country at the same time. This was a subject which rendered the consideration of the hon. Members motion of the deepest importance. Three years ago they made a very large importation of corn from Germany, at which time the Bank of England had negotiated a loan of money with the Bank of France. They all remembered the effects of that mercantile transaction upon the currency of this country. It was difficult to forget the humiliations that were cast upon them when it became known what were the terms upon which this loan was effected between the two countries. No person could deny the abstraction of precious metals which then took place from England, which resulted in the most serious consequences. Their currency was deranged, prices were generally reduced, and wages fell considerably. A mercantile convulsion had actually taken place. This sudden abstraction of 3,000,000l. of their precious metals was a very serious evil. But he would ask if the proposition of the hon. Member for Stoke were agreed to, whether the abstraction of precious metals would not be even much larger than in 1839? This was a subject of consideration totally independent of the balance of trade. It was a consideration that must occur to every person who took an interest in the subject. The noble Lord contended that this abstraction of precious metals did not do much injury to the country. He believed that this was a point which was acknowledged to be one of the highest importance by the greatest economists in this country. This he believed would be the immediate consequence of the policy that was now recommended. It was their duty to inquire what was the opinion of foreign economists upon this subject. There was ample evidence on this point to guide the people of England in their opinions upon this subject. The work of Dr. Listz, and those of a great many other men, referred to the circumstance, and the results of the great importation of corn by England from the continent of Europe in 1839. They alluded to the sudden abstraction of the precious metals, which materially affected their trade and the interests of this country. There was a conviction in the public mind of Germany that if they could occasion an abstraction of precious metals from England in a systematic way, they would raise prices in their own country, and lower prices in this country. He knew that some hon. Gentlemen opposite would say that prices were but a relative consideration, and of itself the subject was of no great importance; but such abstract truisms involved a practical error. He was of opinion that the sudden lowering of prices must deeply affect not only the profits of capital but the most important interests of the country. It was highly important for the House to consider What might be the effect of such a course as was now advised upon their monetary system. Some might say that everything would ultimately find a level. Natural philosophers, who deal with principles, dogmatise, but statesmen, who deal with circumstances, must negociate. It was possible that they might carry on a more profitable trade with less expensive transactions than a trade of greater transactions. No one could deny that as they had relaxed their duties, foreign countries had increased theirs. If they intended to proceed in the course that was now recommended, they should be prepared for a systematic abstraction of the precious metals. He would ask were they prepared for the consequences? He could not conceal from himself—if such principles as these were carried out—there would be a great chance of their revenue being diminished, their commerce deranged, their prices lowered, and the wages of labour considerably diminished. Supposing that these prices were to go on for two, three, four, or five years, before the truth should suddenly flash upon the minds of the Government, he wanted to know if this country were prepared to undergo this ordeal? He wondered what the effect would be if they had even the short experience of three years of these predicted changes? What would be the state of England during the working of this experiment? There would be an immense mass of individual suffering, followed by frequent bankruptcies; all the banks would be broken, the whole commercial system would be in a state of derangement; the revenue of the country would be upheld only by having recourse to the most violent attacks on property. He thought these were events which were more than probable—he thought they were inevitable. But surely there were considerations which were of great importance in viewing the case, which ought not to be omitted. The House was called upon by the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent to open free ports as against the hostile tariffs of other countries. These were subjects which occupied the minds of continental statesmen, and were of such importance in the economical system of Germany especially, that be was surprised they had not occupied more attention, but which, right or wrong, ought to occupy their attention, if hon. Gentlemen thought of what must ultimately result to the continent of Europe, still remembering however that before that result was arrived at we must be the intermediate sufferers, and perhaps the victims. There was another circumstance which seemed to be overlooked by those who held extreme opinions on these subjects—they were apt to think that the governments of Europe proposed to themselves no other objects in their commercial arrangements than the wealth of nations, and totally omitted from their view one of the most prevailing influences, the political considerations which were always mixed up with industrial habits. Those hon. Gentlemen talked of what they called "vested interests," which were raised and cuddled and pampered with protection, and they said that such an artificial class might do very well for a time, but the system was fallacious, it must ultimately prove ruinous; but at the same time, the public mind they admitted was not enlightened, though a government must see that such pampered manufacture was a losing concern. Such was the case of the cotton manufacture in France formerly, though now no longer the case. As long as pounds, shillings, and pence alone were consulted these gentlemen were right, and a trade so circumstanced must be given up. But hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to forget that some governments, perhaps, proposed to maintain certain manufactures as the elements of future strength. At this moment there were around the city of St. Petersburg some fourteen or fifteen factories which were worked at a great loss, and the loss was paid, and was cheerfully paid, by the government—it was paid by the government, as ostentatiously announced, to keep those places up as models to stimulate the industry of the country. Whether eventually this principle might be given up by the governments of Europe was a matter of speculation, but until those governments had accepted our high notions of political economy this country was likely to encounter Such a transitive state of suffering as would render it impossible to calculate what commercial losses, what financial distresses, and what political catastrophes it might involve. It was impossible to shut their eyes to the effect which years of commercial distress and financial difficulty might have on our political institutions. Admitting the general justice of those principles of public economy which had of late years exercised great influence in those countries, was it not the natural course to adopt the happy medium which was always followed by practical men—that system of reciprocity by means of which, through negotiation, they might obtain those benefits which they all acknowledged in increased commerce, and avoid those dangers that might possibly attend a less cautious and prudent course? This was the wiser system to adopt under any circumstances. If the benefits proposed by the hon. Member for Stoke were merely speculative, more than all, if his principles might lead to great disasters, it followed most satisfactorily that they should take that course which, while it secured all the advantages he proposed, at the same time insured them against the dangers with which they were menaced. There was another circumstance which should not be left out of their consideration. It would be found, that in every one of those countries with which we sought treaties of commerce, considerable interests existed that advocated our policy. It should be remembered, that those powerful interests were founded upon, and existed only in consequence of our commercial system. The Chamber of Lyons, and that more powerful interest the wine interest of France, must sooner or later obtain for us a treaty of commerce with that country; and, if not so advantageous as might have been secured in 1840, it should at least be remembered that it was no fiscal or commercial circumstance which in that instance had operated to our disadvantage. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland had treated the right hon. Vice-President of the Board of Trade somewhat unfairly in the reference he made to the speech in which he answered the hon. Member for Stoke. The noble Lord said, his right hon. Friend had misrepresented the object and purpose of this motion; he said, that the motion was a most practical and moderate one, whereas the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had made a speech which was directed solely against extreme opinions. The right hon. Gentleman had answered the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke. The speech of the hon. Member for Stoke was very different from his motion. His motion might be very guarded, moderate, and in the opinion of some, very practical; but it was impossible to dissever the speech by which it was prefaced from the motion which was ultimately submitted. The hon. Member for Stoke did not attempt to conceal his opinions; boldly, clearly, perspicuously, in the most manly way, he announced his adhesion to the most ultra free-trade opinions. The hon. Gentleman had come in like a lion, and gone out like a lamb; but when he gave a programme of his opinions, which was to have its effect on the country, although he concluded with what the noble Lord called a very moderate and practical motion, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade was not bound to confine his reply to the limited and moderate motion, and allow the more general extreme opinions of the hon. Member for Stoke to pass unnoticed. The motion of the hon. Gentleman meant that they should fight against hostile tariffs with free ports and nothing else. For himself, he believed that would be a policy financially of the most disastrous kind; at any rate, there was sufficient evidence before them to prove that its immediate consequences would be tariffs more hostile to England, and under these circumstances, it was not for the hon. Gentleman who had introduced this motion, or his friends, to say that the opinions they had avowed in favour of what they chase to call "free-trade" should not be replied to. The expression "free-trade, as originally brought into public notice, designated very different principles from those it denoted in the mouths of hon. Gentlemen opposite. It was first used by economists of very great celebrity, in contradistinction to the old colonial system, to mean a large and liberal intercourse—a free navigation from pert to port; but hon. Gentlemen opposite attached to it a much more extensive signification, which the original authors of the expression never contemplated. There was obviously some analogy between civil and commercial freedom. A man was not the less free because be was subject to some regulations and taxes; but hon. Gentlemen opposite meant by "free trade" an absence from all restrictions. But really the hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of restriction in the spirit of those of whom Milton bad said,— licence they mean, when they cry liberty ! A peculiar characteristic of the free-trade school was their total neglect of circumstances--they never took any circumstances into consideration. He had stated that as a consequence of our commercial system powerful interests had grown up in other countries to advocate and enforce our views; if those parties succeeded in their endeavours—if commercial arrangements were brought about, we should immediately have a considerable increase to our trade without intervening danger of any kind; but hon. Gentlemen might rest assured, if they were to be guided by what was said, or what was of more importance by what was written in Europe and America at this moment, they never would succeed unless they took a decided course. If they meant to obtain advantages by negotiation, they must unreservedly announce it, and certainly it Would not be long before they attained their end, because the Minister of England who negotiated, was placed in a much more favourable position than the minister of any other country. He could say what the minister of no other country could say be could say to the President of the United States with his hostile tariff, "There a country belonging to the Queen of England, that, if necessary, can produce illimitable quantities of that cotton of which you boast so much." He could say to St. Petersburgh:—"That very same country, within three months in 1843, hue sent ships to the port of London with cargoes of flax, hemp, and tallow;" — and without sending a special mission to Braid—without the expense of the mission or the mortification of failure, he could tell the Brazilian Minister, "That very same country in one of its rallies produces sugar enough to feed the whole world, and in another district produces coffee superior to that of the Brazils." These were facts, the knowledge of which was not confined within the walls of the House of Commons; they were continually referred to in the political and economical dissertations in Europe; there was not a statesman in Russia or America who was not frightened at the available resources of India. These were aim elements of negotiation'—as such they ought not to be forgotten, they were the elements of our strength, if we obese to retort to them. He thanked the House for the attention with which they had listened to his observations. He had endeavoured to meet the question fairly. He thought the policy recommended by the hon. Member for Stoke, founded on principles which were utterly fallacious, and, if pursued, it would immediately produce financial consequences of the most disastrous kind by its effect On the monetary system of the country; he thought, that by adopting the medium course, the principle of reciprocity, they would secure a very considerable share of the advantages contemplated by the hon. Mover, without endangering most important interests; and he thought, the principle of commercial treaties the only one that could be adopted in the complicated state of our relations. If carried into effect, it took its form in that public compact which the law of nations and the manners of Europe had sanctioned. He did not think they could do better in attempting to gain those commercial advantages which they all desired, than adhere to that system of negotiation by means which they could always have recourse to, which were always understood, which if they failed to-day, might succeed to-morrow, and which, while they had to deal with circumstances of varying aspect, must in all civilized communities form the basis of commercial as well as of political and social well-being.

Mr. Ewart

said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had remarked that foreign countries were increasing in their hostility to British interests, and that this was only to be averted by negotiation. What good, he would ask, had the negotiations into which we bad entered yet produced? The hon. Gentleman was bound to show, that negotiation was likely to produce better effects than it had yet done. The right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, took another course; he said not negociate but retaliate. The right hon. Gentleman used these words:—" Above all things do not abandon the instrument of retaliation," he added that commercial retaliation was the instrument we were to wield against the hostile tariffs of other countries. The right hon. Gentleman was not content with laying down this precept: he proceeded to illustrate it, by mentioning an instance of the practice of retaliatory measures against the King of Naples. But how bad those measures succeeded? For four years we retaliated against the King of Naples, by imposing double duties on olive oil coming from that country. What was the effect of this proceeding on our manufactures I There were complaints from all parts of the manufacturing counties. Such was the result at home. What was it abroad? Did we succeed in excluding the olive oil? The only effect was, that the oil which we refused to receive directly from Naples, was sent round by Genoa, and came into this country from an intermediate port, so that this retaliation was itself becoming fruitless. We began by injuring our manufactures, we ended by owning the futility of our own restriction. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was not quite fair in his remark, that his hon. Friend, the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent had brought forward this question without preparation. Circumstances had prepared us for the question; the whole investigation of the subject of the import duties had prepared us for it. The tariff of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had prepared us for it. The adverse tariffs of Germany and America, the hostility of France and Portugal, had prepared us for the question; we had been prepared for it by argument, by circumstances, by necessity. Seeing the change which had come over the spirit of that House on many points, he did not despair of finding one so renowned for conversion as the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) adopt more liberal and extended views on this great subject. The right hon. Baronet, it was not improbable, might one day tell the House we must take our own course; the honest advice of Mr. Hume, the Secretary of the Board of Trade, must affect our decision; his twenty years' experience cannot go for nothing; and whatever foreign nations may do, we must do what is best for the people of England. He must say he had heard nothing from any quarter to answer this plain question, why should not nations deal with trade as individuals? Who ever heard of reciprocity dealings, between the butcher and baker, the grocer and the ironmonger? An individual resorted, when he wished to purchase an article, to those who sold the cheapest and most eligible wares, without being fettered in his choice by the useless restrictions of artificial reciprocity. The day was not far distant when this simple rule of common sense would be applied to national interests, as well as to those of individuals. Looking back to former times, they would find that the treaties which this country made in those days were of a much more simple character than those of the present age. Their principal object was to combine two ends, the personal security of the subjects of this country in the dominions of foreign powers, and the security of their property. Such was the treaty called by the Dutch, intercursus magnus, mentioned by Bacon as having been concluded in the reign of Henry 7th, for the security of the persons and property of British subjects in Holland. The commercial treaties of later days were often most unfavourable to the objects which they were intended to advance. Such, for instance, was the well known Methuen treaty, long considered a triumph of diplomacy, but now universally admitted to have been most mischievous in its effects on the commercial interests of this country. When Mr. Pitt set on foot his commercial treaty with France—that treaty which might be taken as the model of a commercial treaty, which was founded on the principles of free- trade, and seemed to invite the Legislature of this country to follow the course pointed out in the resolution now proposed — he found the Methuen treaty standing on the very threshold of the negotiation, as the chief and most formidable obstacle to its progress. Experience had sufficiently shown that by making a treaty with one country, you interposed an embarrassing obstacle to negotiations with another country. He was convinced that the feelings of the people in foreign countries were not so adverse to us as they had been represented. In Portugal, the party opposed to English commerce was not so powerful as was sometimes stated, and in France, the principle of free-trade had gained ground greatly in the wine districts. In the United States he believed that the prevailing feeling of the people was impatience of the high tariff which had been imposed on them by their Government. In his opinion, the day was not far distant when there would be a great international movement on this subject, extending throughout the world. He thought it incumbent on this country to set the first example; no step could be more conducive to its interests, or would have more important influence. The debate of this evening, he trusted, would be the commencement of an entirely new system in our commercial transactions. If we consented boldly to throw open our market, and admit the competition of the whole world for the supply of our population, we should be conferring a lasting benefit on ourselves, and setting an illustrious example to other nations. No government would long be able to resist the demand of the people for extended intercourse with other countries. The right hon. Baronet, at the head of the Administration, who had laid down the principle that we ought to buy in the cheapest market, would not, he hoped, offer a very strenuous opposition to the motion. The right hon. Gentleman might leave the question open, he might defer its settlement, but he would finally adopt a policy which the tendency of events and the character of the times combined to render desirable now, and, perhaps, inevitable hereafter.

Sir H. Douglas

said, as the arguments which had been advanced by his noble colleague (Lord Sandon) had been impugned by the noble Lord the Member for London, on the authority of Adam Smith, he (Sir H. Douglas) begged to quote the opinions of that high authority against the motion brought forward by the hon. Member for Stoke. Adam Smith said, in vol. 2, book iv., chap. ii.:— To impose duties upon foreign, for the encouragement of domestic industry, when burthens are laid upon it by foreign nations (and what foreign nation does not lay burthens upon our industry?), is one of the cases in which it is advantageous to protect, in this way, the home productions. For to lay suitable duties upon the productions of the foreigner who lays burthens upon yours, does not give the monopoly of the home market to the home producer, nor turn towards any particular employment more capital and labour than would naturally go there. It only hinders that amount of those actually engaged, from being turned away into a less natural direction, and leaves the competition between foreign and domestic industry, upon the same footing, as before the protecting duty, so laid and reciprocated. Now, if it were advantageous to lay duties on the imports from foreign states which imposed burthens on our productions, it follows that it would be disadvantageous to remit those duties, unless the burthens which pressed on our commerce were also remitted. The hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House, had recommended that this country should set the example of the adoption of free-trade principles. He said:— Take the productions of other nations, and they will take yours. But we had already tried this experiment, first, in 1825; then in 1831, we set the example to the Americans, by lowering the duty on their cotton; and in 1832, we adopted a similar course with respect to some of the productions of France; but the result was, that, while our imports from France were doubled, our exports to that country fell off one-half; and during the last year, while we were relaxing our protective system, other nations were increasing the restrictions on the produce of this country—for, between November, 1841, and August, 1842, six hostile tariffs were adopted by foreign states. ["Hear, hear."] Thus while we were relaxing our tariff, other countries were making theirs more restrictive. There was a time when all parties agreed that there must be two parties to carry out free-trade compacts, as in all other bargains; then came another postulate of the economists— Take foreign productions, and foreign nations must take yours. But this had been disproved by facts such as he had stated. The economists now assumed the very extraordinary postulate which formed the subject of the present motion, namely, "Take freely the productions of other countries, whether they take ours or not." To do that were to gamble with the well-being, the condition, and almost the existence, of the people, and to tamper with the security of the State, in order to try to recover the monopoly of the supply of foreign markets. This were mere delusion: nothing that we could do, would arrest the progress which foreigners were making in manufacturing industry; and the distresses which we were now suffering, occasioned by foreign competition, far from being remedied or alleviated, would be immensely aggravated by the success of this motion, and other still more formidable evils would be created. British labour would be doubly prejudiced and defrauded; the productions of British industry would be displaced, and more and more excluded by those of foreigners, fostered by the influence of their protective systems; and British industry ruined in the home market, by the competition of foreign rivals, from the absence of protection here. He was prepared to enter more at large into this subject; but seeing who had risen, (Sir R. Peel), he must apologise to the House for having obeyed the Speaker's call on catching his eye.

Mr. Villiers

said, he rose to meet the only objections that could be said to have been fairly opposed to the proposition of his hon. Friend. One of these was by the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, and the other was by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury; and be noticed them because, he knew they were current in other quarters, and that some persons were influenced by them. The hon. Member for Liverpool considered that the system o f freedom proposed by his hon. Friend would lead to farther restriction by other nations, because, he said, that the relaxation of our system of late had already been met by hostile tariffs in six different States. He did not consider the objection was in point, but the contrary, and confirmed the view taken on his side of the House, that the example of this country greatly influenced the policy of other States; for the fact was, that though we had talked much of the relaxation of our system, we had steadily and avowedly adhered to the principle of it, which was protection. That was what foreign states looked to. They observed, that though we shifted the duties a little, yet that we boasted with as much firmness as before of sticking to the principle of protection, and, observing our example, followed it, and raised their tariffs to secure protection for themselves. Had we honestly denounced that system, and declared it to be found wrong by experience, and reduced our duties, and they had then persevered in the same system, the remark might have been just; but as it was, they were imitating this country. The objection urged by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury was, that if we regarded only our imports, that the precious metals would leave the country, and we should experience great derangement of the currency, as we had done in 1839, upon the occasion of a great import of grain; and he expected that this could only be prevented by a reciprocal treaty by which the nation from which we imported stipulated to receive our manufactures, Now, let him inform the hon. Member, for his consolation, that though their relations with the grain-growing states remained as they were in 1839,yet that as they had imported grain for four or five years successively, they had ceased to export bullion, and the trade having become in a manner regular, payment had, in fact, been made in manufactures; showing that it was under the present system, when the trade was not suffered to be regular, that upon a sudden demand they were obliged to send out bullion: but upon the trade continuing, the exchange with manufactures was regular; and that the grain they had imported for the last four years had, in fact, been, paid for in that way. But there were instances in which the tariffs of other countries were almost prohibitory as regarded our manufactures; and yet they contrived to take their goods without sending bullion; Russia was an instance; the value of the exports of that country to England was about 5,000,000l., they took the pitch, flax, tallow, and hide of Russia without paying; for them directly in goods. There were ether instance he could name, and enough to show the Hon. Gentleman that no trade is carried on, and from its extent between this country and the rest of the world that direct interchange of goods between this and any other particular country did not and need not occur. The merchants discovered the liabilities existing between different countries, and might be safely left to adjust the account resulting from trade between them. Such were the objections urged against his hon. Friend's motion, but they were without foundation. Whatever else bad been said against it was either misrepresentations of its objects, or said with a view to confuse it. He would just call back the attention of the House to the simple point which was raised in question by the proposition, which really was no other than the purpose of our trade, and the principle which ought to guide any regulation of it, His hon. Friend proceeded upon the principle that the great object of trade in any country was the import. He had expressed it in a few words, Take care of your imports, the exports will take care of themselves. That raised the whole question, and decided it, of their commercial policy: and if that were sound, the minister, and the statesman who occupied himself with our commerce, would readily know how to promote its interest. He entirely assented to, and had often asserted that doctrine. It was the great object of all our traffic with other countries to get into this country as many of the object of human desire as it was possible, in order that the largest share possible may fall to each, That could not be done, unfortunately, without producing equivalent at home to purchase them, but certain it was, that those imports could not take place without so much capital and labour being employed to produce the equivalent. In short, imports appeared in this country as customers, they were the means by which our productions were bought, tad every duty imposed upon then was like restricting or destroying a customer. An import duty and an export duty had, in this respect, precisely the same- effect each prevented some customer for our labour, and whenever we wasted to encourage the demand for labour the reduction or removal of an import duty was the mode of securing it. If we lived a more simple, or in a savage state, no, body would doubt that the great object of trade, or going forth to toil, was not to take out what we bad got, but to bring home what we wanted. Had we our own way, we should probably take what we wanted, without giving an equivalent but in these days we were doomed to be honest, and we were compelled to work for what we wanted. Still the end was to multiply the store of what we had not got but wished to have. This was, then, a distinct view of the object of all our trade, and once admitted, a great point would be gained. They had seen that evening that there were some, like the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, who thought we imported goods without exporting anything in return. They were lucky, if they did, that was all be could say. But the noble Lord should show us how they did this, or they must doubt what he said. However there were others ever talking of trade and employment as the great objects to be gained, and as if everything was accomplished if that was got. Now the difference between him and them was this; that he regarded trade and labour as merely the means, the things which were gained by them the end. Simple as this seemed, however, it was not yet conceded; for if it was, all this haggling and delay, till reciprocal treaties were negotiated, would never occur and be the means of depriving us of great advantages. The fact was, so far from waiting till other countries had reduced their duties, if they took the common views of the interest of this country, and rejoiced in the errors and disadvantages of their neighbours, they ought to be satisfied at such countries as France and Belgium excluding many products of this country which were essential to their prosperity and facilitate their rivalry with us. Can any body doubt, for instance, that France would have an immense advantage were they to import coal and iron free of duty into their country, and that she injures herself and retards her progress by her wretched protective system. He was glad to see they were going to have the opinion of the right hon. Baronet at the bead of the Government on the matter, and he hoped he would give them his views distinctly on the subject. He sincerely wished that the principle involved in his hon. Friend's proposition could be decided upon, for he was sure that nothing would sooner re- move all the difficulties which seem to involve all their commercial relations, or tend more to simplify the regulations which they were eternally framing for what was called the good of trade.

Sir Robert Peel

Unless I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, he made a statement which was gratifying to me to hear, and which I hardly expected to come from that quarter. For the hon. Gentleman stated that some four or five years ago there had been a great export of bullion from this country, that greatly inconvenienced and deranged the currency, in consequence of a sudden demand for foreign corn, and the inability of exchanging British manufactures for that article, but that within the last two or three years a great change had taken place in that respect — that there had been no sudden demand for foreign corn, but that there had been a ready demand for British manufactures, and that foreign corn had been imported into this country in a regular way, and in the ordinary manner of commercial intercourse. And the hon. Gentleman said, that this regular interchange of British manufactures for foreign corn of late years had prevented that large demand for bullion which was apprehended by my hon. Friend, the Member for Shrewsbury. Now, I well remember that one of the prophecies of the inevitable consequences of maintaining the sliding-scale, as it is called, used to be, that there must be at intervals a sudden demand for foreign corn, which it would be impossible to pay for by the exportation of British manufactures. I think the hon. Gentleman said, that that prophecy had not been fulfilled, but that there had been a regular interchange of British manufactures for foreign corn, and that though a large quantity of corn was imported in the month of August last — to between two and three millions of quarters—yet no apprehension was felt that it would derange our monetary system. That was the statement which the hon. Gentleman made, and coming from such high and unquestionable authority upon such a point I heard it with a very great deal of pleasure. I do not intend to trouble the House with many observations on the present occasion. I well know the peculiar difficulty under which I at this time speak on the subject, considering that on next Monday week my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to submit the usual financial statement to the House. There being only ten days to elapse before that discussion takes place, in which a full consideration of every subject connected with the fiscal arrangements of the country must necessarily be entered upon, I feel how very inconvenient it would be were I to allow myself to go into a discussion of details at the present moment. I apprehend that the main and single question before the House is this; "is it wise on the part of the House of Commons, by an abstract resolution, to declare that you shall not seek for any reduction of the import duties on your own manufactures into foreign countries in consequence of, and as an equivalent for, any reduction of duties imposed by you on the importation into this country of the produce of those countries, but that we shall fetter the discretion for all time to come of the executive Government, and lay down to-night, after a debate of three or four hours, this important principle—that you shall not attempt by commercial negotiation to procure any reduction of the import duties imposed by foreign countries upon your own manufactures, and that when you are considering the policy of any reduction of duties on foreign produce into this country, you shall not endeavour to obtain a corresponding reduction of duties imposed on your own articles of produce, and that even if negotiations for forming commercial treaties are now pending, whereby you hope to obtain certain reciprocal advantages, yet you shall (for, by the resolution now proposed, if carried, you will be bound to) relinquish all those advantages, and to tell the country with which you are negotiating, that it is not necessary for them to give you an equivalent in return for that which you are about to concede to them, for that you do not look for any corresponding advantages." I need hardly say that I am the last man to maintain the principle directly opposite to the one involved in such a declaration. I think I gave a sufficient proof of this in the tariff of last year. I then declared that I considered that our domestic interests, in all these arrangements, were of primary consideration. I laid down the principle, that it would not be wise in us to punish ourselves, because other countries refused to adopt similar arrangements as to their import duties. These principles I laid down last year, and I adhere to them still. But it is quite a different thing to propound principles when you are applying them to practical details, to that of laying them down merely in the shape of abstract propositions. Consider the many questions there are to be taken into account before you can apply such a principle. There is the state of the revenue—the comparative claims which different articles of commerce to which taxation applies have upon you. Even admitting the principle that all taxation is an evil, and supposing you are only determined by the state of the revenue, and by the obligation of providing for the interest of the national debt, and of the necessary annual expenditure, still these constitute such demands upon you as to make the power of reducing taxation necessarily very limited. But the difficulty is enhanced when you have present to your consideration the comparative claims of different articles on which the reduction is to be made. Shall you take the raw article—shall you take some great article of consumption — or shall you take an article of luxury? Then, again, what chance have you of preventing the duty being evaded by smuggling; and what will be the expense of protecting the revenue? Surely all these are important questions applying to each separate article of trade. Then, with reference to vested interests, as the noble Lord said, there are the respective claims of the colonial interests, and of the interests of foreign countries. All these are matters deserving the utmost consideration when you come to deal with details, and are not to be disposed of by an abstract principle embodied in a resolution of the House of Commons. I was surprised to hear the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) say, that he was disposed to support the present motion. Why the noble Lord has been for ten years trying to make commercial treaties. He has even boasted of some success in his efforts. When I said, last year, that we were engaged in making commercial treaties, up got the noble Lord, and also the noble Lord, the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and exclaimed, "What credit do you deserve for that? You know that we commenced the work, and have prepared the way." But now the noble Lord says, that unless I give him some assurance, which he knows I cannot give him, he is disposed to support the resolution now proposed to the House. In the Import Duties' committee Mr. Porter was examined, and he was asked,— Are you at the head of the statistical department of the Board of Trade?" He answered, "I am." How long have you been connected with that institution?" From its first establishment in 1832." "Have you been engaged in effecting a commercial treaty between this country and France?" The answer was, "I have. Now, we found these negotiations pending. They had been suspended in consequence of the affairs which had occurred in Syria. We resumed these negotiations, but now, to-night, by a sudden resolution, we are to forego every advantage, and proclaim to France, "we contemplate making reductions in the duties upon articles of your production; but you are distinctly to understand that we look for no return from you." That, I think, in the present state of this country, is a piece of superfluous liberality which the House ought not to sanction. In the course of this very year, I heard the noble Lord publicly declare it to be his opinion that nothing could be more essential to the permanent interest of this country than to make good commercial arrangements with the United States. I myself heard the noble Lord declare that, "of all the commercial arrangements which this country could enter into, that which would be most essentially beneficial would be a good tariff with the United States." Is the noble Lord, then, now prepared [to consent to the proposition of his hon. Friend, and to proclaim to the United States that we looked for no equivalent from them for any reduction we might make in our import duties on their produce? It is true the noble Lord endeavours to break the fall by saying, that if I will give him some assurance he will not support the resolution. But what assurance can I give him some eight or nine days before the discussion on the budget? Will the noble Lord specify any particular tax which I could propose to reduce? The noble Lord knows that I must decline to enter into any discussion of details. I state now, as I stated last year, that I think our own interests ought to be the first consideration. If a duty cannot be levied, in consequence of its producing a system of smuggling, the prevention of which would be a greater expense than the revenue to be raised, and if that, united with the monstrous evils produced by the immoral practice of smuggling, by which we not only lose the revenue, but corrupt the manners and habits of the people, am I to say that I will maintain that duty permanently, because no other country will reduce its duties on our produce? By no means. But let us not lay down general principles in the abstract; let us reserve them for the particular cases in which they are to be practically adopted. Take, for example, our commercial arrangements with Portugal and France. I do not regard our commercial relations with Portugal in a merely pecuniary point of view; I think it of great political importance that we should strengthen the bonds of amity between that country and this, by means of an intimate commercial intercourse. In the same manner I look upon our commercial connection with France. I should not estimate the advantage of an extended commercial intercourse with France merely in respect to the amount of pecuniary gain that may result from it; but I value that intercourse on account of the effect it is calculated to produce in softening down prejudices between the people of the two countries, and in promoting the feeling of amity and good will between two great nations. I should regard that mutual intercourse in commercial affairs as giving an additional security for the permanent maintenance of peace. Let us suppose the case of a duty on an article in respect to which there is no danger from smuggling, but the revenue on which can be easily collected—an article of luxury—is it not perfectly open for me to consider whether I shall reduce the duty for the purpose of obtaining some reciprocal advantage for British manufactures? I do not consider our commercial relations with any country as a mere question of a balance of trade, I do not look upon any supposed balance against us a measure of loss. If, for ex ample, we import from Russia the produce of that country to the amount of 5,000,000l. a year, and we export to Russia only 1,200.000l. a-year, making a difference of 3,800,000l. in the amount of our imports from Russia over our exports to that country, no doubt no fallacy could be so complete, no mistake so absurd, as to assume that this country sustained a loss to the extent of the 3,800,000l., be-cause that amount must necessarily be made up by our trading with some third country. That I quite admit; but while I do so, surely I may-contend that a direct is more beneficial than an indirect intercourse. Surely it is better for this country to have a direct intercourse with France and with Portugal, even independently of the political advantages which must arise, by having the bonds of friendship more firmly linked together, than that we should pay our debts to France, or that she should pay her debts to us, by means of a trade with a third country—Portugal. Does the hon. Gentleman mean to contend for this principle — that any remission of duty which is desirable for us in regard to our own domestic interests, ought not to be postponed with a view of producing a reduction of duty in other countries on articles of British manufacture? That, I apprehend, is the principle which the hon. Gentleman maintains. Now, even if that principle were sound, I should doubt the policy of proclaiming it. Depend upon it we have prejudices enough to contend with in other countries without throwing away any advantages by a gratuitous declaration of a principle like this. The noble Lord says, "Suppose a taste for British manufactures arises, can foreign governments control it? and can they prevent its being gratified by any duty they may impose?" That may be very true; but how can you best encourage that taste? Take Portugal for instance. How will you be most likely to beget a taste for British manufactures in Portugal? Is it not by directly introducing our cottons and woollens into Portugal? And if, by reducing the duty on port wine imported into this country, I can induce Portugal to reduce the duties on our cottons and hardware imported into her markets—if I can introduce our cottons into Portugal, and they take the taste of the people, the value of having them at a cheap rate would soon be appreciated, and will not that be an advantage to the manufactures of this country? The reduction in the duty on port wine may be a good thing in itself; but if, by a treaty with Portugal, we can not only have that reduction but also secure the reduction of duties on the importation of our manufactures into Portugal, is it not better to obtain the double reduction of duty than the single reduction? The hon. Gentleman, however, by his resolution, would prevent the Executive Government from obtaining any such advantage. The noble Lord (Viscount Howick) does certainly push the doctrines of Free-trade to an extravagant length; it is to him a matter of entire indifference how high the duties are which foreign countries impose upon our articles—" If we import," says the noble Lord, "we moat pay somehow or other." Now, that doctrine of the noble Lord, and also his other position, that this resolution would have the effect of depriving the Foreign Office of the temptation of writing nine-tenths of the useless correspondence which it now produces are the grounds upon which he will vote for this motion; and although he may think the tendency of this motion to diminish the labour of the Foreign Office is a very good thing, it is hardly a sufficient reason for supporting the resolution of the hon. Gentleman. Then says the noble Lord the Member for London, "I will prove the advantage of a diminution of your import duties, independent of the conduct of other countries, from a reference to the article of brandy," and then he stated that the exports of brandy from France in a certain year amounted to a certain quantity, and the imports of brandy into England for the same period amounted to 1,200,000 gallons less; and it was quite clear, therefore, he said, that there must have bean an enormous quantity of smuggling; but, unfortunately for the noble Lara, the facts are exactly the other way. In the year 1834, the exports of brandy from Franca were 1,744,000 gallons, and therefore, according to the noble Lord's statement, the imports into England in that year ought to have been only 547,000 gallons; but, in fact, the imports into England were three millions of gallons, showing apparently an excess over the whole quantity exported, and so as to every year downwards since 1843. Do I therefore contend that there has been no smuggling? Not at all; it only proves that the noble Lord's argument is without foundation, and the records of the French custom-house are not to be depended on. But the terms of the resolution itself, are not such as I can concur in. The hon. Mover does not say "Let your own domestic interests alone be regarded;" but nine or ten days before the Budget is to be produced he calls upon the House to adapt this resolution:— " That an humble Address be presented to her Majesty, respectfully expressing the opinion of this House, that it is not expedient that any contemplated remission of import duties be postponed, with the view of making such remission a basis of commercial negotiations with foreign countries. " Contemplated remission !" Contemplated by whom? The hon. Gentleman has heard that it was in contemplation to reduce the duties on port wine; we contemplated that reduction in the hope that Portugal would reduce her duties on our hardware, cotttons, and woollens. Now there is the hon. Member for Sheffield does he, would his constituents, think it no object to get our hardware freely admitted into Portugal? Even supposing it to be wise to reduce the duties on port wine without any equivalent, is it not, I ask, a perfectly legitimate object to say to Portugal, "We are going to reduce our duties on port wine, there is no absolute necessity for it, but do you, Portugal, take a corresponding course with reference to our hardware, cotton, and woollen goods. Accustom your population to the use of British manufactures, and then we shall feel confident that the advantage, as it will be mutual, will be permanent." Then we may be sure that the taste for our manufactures will be encouraged, and that the Portuguese would soon seek for freer access to our markets. But the hon. Gentleman tells me I am not, even if I can, to obtain this advantage: You must not postpone (he says) even for a month, any contemplated remission of duties, though that remission were only contemplated in the hope of getting an equivalent. Supposing the reduction of the duties on port wine could be effected with advantage to this country, does it necessarily follow because we contemplated the reduction of the duty on port wine in the hope that expectation has been disappointed, port wine ought still to have the preference over all other articles? Suppose we could afford to run the risk of losing 300,000l. or 400,000l. of revenue, ought port wine to be the article selected for the benefit of that remission? Might it not be a question whether the duty on wool ought not to be remitted instead; and, if we contemplate a remission of that duty, why should we give the duty on port wine the preference? I advise the House to reserve to itself the power of applying sound principles to particular cases, as they arise. When any proposition for the remission of any duty is submitted to the House by her Majesty's Government, every individual Member will have the opportunity of opposing that proposition, of making a counter proposal, and of urging the claim of one particular article in preference to that of another; and that I think would be a much wiser course, one much less likely to involve the House in embarrassment and difficulty, than to proclaim an abstract principle as a matter of commercial negotiation, about which even the warmest free-traders widely differ, for since I came into the House I have read a postcript of a letter, addressed to me by a gentleman, a zealous free-trader, whose authority cannot well be disputed on the other side of the House. I see hon. Gentlemen opposite turn away from Colonel Torrens now as a gentleman of no authority at all—but I refer to his opinion for the purpose of showing that upon this subject even strenuous advocates of free-trade are not united. Colonel Torrens says:— I would beg to submit for your consideration, what appears to me to amount to a mathematical demonstration, that a reduction of the duties upon foreign productions, unaccompanied by a corresponding mitigation of the duties imposed by foreign countries upon British goods, would cause a further decline of prices, of profits, and of wages; and would render it doubtful whether the taxes could be collected, and faith with the public creditor maintained. Colonel Torrens calls, too, in aid of his opinions other high authority; and he names one, for whom, whatever may be the connection of the hon. Member opposite with him, he cannot feel greater respect than I do—Mr. Ricardo, in whose chapter on trade the doctrine is involved. He says also, that the same doctrines have been established by Mr. Senior and Mr. Pennington whom Col. Torrens calls one of the most profound thinkers of the day. If, then, these differences of opinion exist—if these are speculative doctrines upon which even free-traders are not agreed—I hope the House of Commons will not make itself a party to an abstract resolution embodying these views without much more mature consideration; and I hope, therefore, the House will negative the motion of the hon. Gentleman. I repeat what I have already stated, that in my estimation, our own interests are the main consideration in the reduction of duties, but I doubt whether our interests would be best promoted by granting, without reference to other considerations, a free admission for foreign productions; at all events, I trust that the House will avoid a course which my political experience has taught me is always attended with embarrassment — that of laying down an abstract principle to be the guide of the Government in matters of so much delicacy and difficulty as commercial negotiations.

Mr. Cobden

contended that there never could be a time when it was more important to lay down the principle against which the right hon. Baronet contended. The object of the motion was, that foreign commercial negotiations should not be left in the hands of ministers, and one reason why he supported it was, that he wished to prevent a government, which was the creature of monopoly, from meddling with any of our commercial arrangements. What had the present Government done as regarded Brazil? It had sent out an ambassador, a special mission, to negociate a commercial treaty; but had the people ever asked for the reduction of any duties there? On the contrary, there was no kingdom of the world where our goods were received on such favourable terms as in Brazil. No complaints had been heard in this country? No complaint had ever been heard in this country of excessive duties in Brazil. Yet what had been the course of the present government? When the people of England applied for an equalization of the sugar duties, ministers had sent out an ambassador to Brazil, as they stated to negociate a fresh treaty. The people wanted no fresh treaty; all they required was the abolition of the West-India monopoly. The ambassador dispatched would, in fact, only represent monopolists, and did not go to negociate any treaty in which the people were interested: he was sent out to obtain the best terms for the West-Indian monopolists, and the worst for the people of England. The Brazilians offered a monopoly to the extent of 10 per cent., but that did not satisfy the envoy and would not satisfy the government which sent him out. Was this, then, anything less than an insult and a mockery to the inhabitants of the British empire? Was it not exposing the country to the shame of the civilized world. It was this which had induced one of the senators of the Brazils to exhibit and denounce the people of England as the slaves of a corn, sugar, coffee, and timber oligarchy. Ministers attempted to delude the Queen's subjects by such attempts as this, and he, therefore, especially called upon the House not to allow the present Government to interfere, but to settle its own commercial policy, and to leave other countries to settle theirs. Was the hon. Member for Wolverhampton wrong when he defined the object of commerce to be imports? What foreign nation could prevent our giving every possible encouragement to imports? That depended upon our own fiscal regulations; but when we sent to the Brazilians and other countries and asked them to reduce their duties, it was placing the commerce and the independence of Great Britain at the mercy of every country on the face of the earth. Was it fit that the executive government should be allowed to go all over the world to seek for impediments to free-trade abroad, in order to excuse them in resisting the removal of impediments at home? Take the case of Portugal. A commercial treaty with Portugal had been commenced by the late Foreign Secretary? and had been persevered in with great assiduity by the government of the right hon. Baronet. With the exception of the mission to Brazil, the negotiation with Portugal was about the most hopeless errand that could be undertaken. Portugal was the poorest—and, but for disrespect, he might call it the most beggarly—country on the face of the earth. Our trade could never be resuscitated by any treaty with Portugal; yet the right hon. Baronet talked of the importance of reducing the duty on port wine. This country did not call for the reduction of the duty upon a luxury. He spoke as a free-trader, and as having a pretty large connection with those who required commercial reforms, and he could say, that they had not clamoured against the duty on port wine—they had clamoured against the duties on corn, sugar, and coffee, the repeal of which, it was calculated, would produce an immense increase to the revenue. It might be very well to talk of a commercial treaty with Portugal, but abolish the monopolies of sugar, corn, and coffee, and the vast continents of North and South America would be opened to the manufactures of Great Britain. This, indeed, would resuscitate the trade and manufactures of the country, and to the accomplishment of this great end there was no obstacle but our Statute-book. That was the friend of the foulest mono- polies; but instead of tearing out those Acts which established monopolies, ministers contented themselves with petty negotiations with Portugal, Sweden, and Brazil, in order to discover excuses for adherence to the present system. How long was the people to be amused with such attempts? As had been remarked by the Brazilian senator, they were beginning to find out that they were the victims of a set of monopolists. These stale expedients would not long avail, whether they were justified by the right hon. Baronet, or by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury. The motion before the House could have no influence on the revenue; it tended to disturb no subsisting arrangements; and all it sought was to free the country from the danger of having its commerce paltered with to strengthen a minister supported by monopolists. Nothing could be more true than that the imports would regulate the exports, and all the much-talked of negotiations for commercial treaties were only intended to throw dust in the eyes of the people, and to maintain all the evils of the existing system.

Mr. Ricardo

in reply, admitted that his object was to produce an abandonment of the whole of the present system. He was quite aware of the great benefits which the country had derived from the reduction of duties in foreign countries; but he did not think that commercial treaties were the best means of obtaining that reduction. The right hon. Baronet had referred to a pamphlet which had attracted considerable attention, and the right hon. Baronet had stated what Colonel Torrens intended to prove, and not what he had proved, so that this mathematical demonstration was in nubibus at present. He must observe also, that the pamphlet, though advertised yesterday, was not published till that evening, and it was curious that when he went to the library to look for the book, written by a near relative of his own, which had been also referred to by the right hon. Gentleman that was absent also. As far, however, as he recollected the opinions of Mr. Ricardo, he did not think it possible that he would have advocated the principle of reciprocity. He did, however, distinctly recollect one mathematical demonstration with respect to reciprocity, or rather to retaliation, made by Dr. Franklin, and quoted by Mr. Porter in his tables of the progress of the nation, and it was this:—Suppose X to be a country, having three manufactures, cloth, silk, and iron, furnishing those manufactures to three countries, ABC, and that X, to improve the cloth manufacture, should lay a duty, amounting to prohibition, on all the cloth coming from A; that A, to retaliate, should lay a prohibitory duty on silk coming from X. The silk workers would begin to complain, and X, to protect them, should lay a prohibitory duty on the silk coming from B; B, to retaliate, should put a prohibitory duty on iron coming from X. The iron manufacturers would complain, and then X, to protect them, should lay a prohibitory duty on iron coming from C; whilst C, to retaliate, should lay a duty on the cloth coming from X. And Dr. Franklin asked what benefit these four countries would gain by these prohibitions, while all four would have curtailed the sources of their comforts and the conveniences of life? Now, that was his mathematical demonstration, and the only difference between him and the right hon. Baronet was, that he had given his, whilst the right hon. Baronet had only threatened to give his.

The House divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 135; Majority 74.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Hollond, R.
Aldam, W. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
Barnard, E. G. Howard, hon. J. K.
Berkeley, hon. C. Howick, Visct.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Langston, J. H.
Bowring, Dr. Mangles, It. D.
Brotherton, J. Marsland, H.
Busfeild, W. Mitchell, T. A.
Christie, W. D. Murphy, F. S.
Cobden, R. Napier, Sir C.
Colborne. hn. W. N. R. O'Brien, W. S.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Philips, G. R.
Collett, J. Plumridge, Capt.
Craig, W. G. Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A. C.
Dawson, hon. T. V.
Duncan, Visct, Protheroe, E.
Duncan, G. Ross, D. R.
Dundas, Adm. Russell, Lord E.
Dundas, D. Rutherfurd, A.
Ellice, E. Scholefield, J.
Elphinstone, H. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Evans, W. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Ewart, W. Tancred, H. W.
Forster, M. Thorneley, T.
Fox, C. R. Trelawny, J. S.
French, Fitzstephen Tufnel, H.
Gibson, T. M. Wall, C. B.
Granger, T. Ward, H. G;
Hallyburton, Ld. J. G. Watson, W. H.
Hill, Lord M. Wood, B.
Wood, G. W. TELIERS.
Yorke, H. R. Ricardo, J. L.
Villiers, hon. C.
List of the NOES.
Ackers, J. Hale, R. B.
Acland, T. D. Hamilton, Lord C.
Acton, Col. Hanmer, Sir J.
Adderley, C. B. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Ainsworth, P. Hayes, Sir E.
Alford, Visct. Henley, J. W
Allix, J. P. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Antrobus, Edmund Hope, G. W.
Bagge, W. Ingestre, Visct.
Baillie, Col. Jermyn, Earl
Bailey, H. J. Johnstone, Sir J.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Beresford, Major Kelburne, Visct.
Bernard, Visct. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E
Blackburne, J. J. Lawson, A.
Boldero, H. G. Legh, G. C.
Broadley, H. Lincoln, Earl of
Broadwood, H. Lockhart, W.
Bruce, Lord E. Lowther, J. H.
Campbell, Sir H. Lyall, G.
Cardwell, E. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Charteris, hon. F. Maclean, D,
Chelsea, Visct. Mc. Geachy, F. A.
Chetwode, Sir J. Marsham, Visct.
Christopher, R. A. Martin, C. W,
Clayton, R. R. Master, T. W. C.
Clerk, Sir G. Masterman, J.
Collett, W. R. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Copeland, Mr. Ald, Mildmay, H. St. J.
Cripps, W. Miles, P. W. S.
Damer, hon. Col. Miles, W.
Davies, D. A. S. Morgan, 0.
Dickinson, F. H. Neeld, J.
D'lsraeli, B. Neville, R.
Douglas, Sir H. Newdegate, C. N.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Newport, Visct.
Douglas, J. D. S. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Duffield, T. Norreys, Lord
Duke, Sir J. O'Brien, A. S
Duncombe, hon. A. Packe, C. W.
Duncome, hon. O. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Du Pre, C. G. Peel, J.
Eastnor, Visct. Pennaut, hon. Col.
Eaton, R. J. Pollock, Sir F.
Eliot, Lord Pringle, A.
Emlyn, Visct. Reid, Sir J. R.
Escott, B. Repton, G. W. J.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Rolleston, Col.
Filmer, Sir E. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Flower, Sir J. Round, J.
Follett, Sir W. W. Rushbrooke, Col.
Fox, S. L. Sandon, Visct.
Fuller, A. E. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C,
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Smythe, hon. G.
Gladstone, Capt. Somerset, Lord G.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Gore, W. R. O. Stanley, Lord
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Stewart, J.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Stuart, H.
Greene, T Sutton, hn. H. M.
Grimston, Visct. Tennent, J, E,
Trench, Sir F. W. Wortley, hon: J. S.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Wortley, hn. J. S.
Vane, Lord H. Wyndham, Col. C.
Verner, Col. Young, J.
Waddington, H. S. TELLERS.
Wellesley, Lord C. Freemantle, Sir T.
Wood, Col. T. Baring, H.