HC Deb 17 July 1843 vol 70 cc1224-47

On the question that the Order of the Day for a Committee of Supply be now read,

Mr. C. Wood

said, that he rose, in pursuance of an arrangement with the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, to move, by way of amendment, the resolution of which he had given notice— This House will resolve itself into a committee to consider so much of the Act 5 & 6 Vict. c. 47, for the better regulation of the Customs, as relates to the duties on the importation of foreign sheep and lambs' wool. He believed that it would be convenient that, at the outset, it should be understood that his motion implied a reduction of duty, and he thought he should be able to show that the duty on foreign wool was one which ought to be reduced. If any objection should be raised as to the late period of the Session at which he brought forward his motion, he begged to observe that it was totally out of his power to bring it forward earlier. In the first place, so long as he thought there was a hope that her Majesty's Government would themselves reduce the duty, he was anxious not to interfere with any motion of his own. But from the time that the financial statement was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer whereby any hope of that kind was dispelled, he had in vain endeavoured to bring the subject on earlier. He had postponed his intended motion once in compliance with the desire of that right hon. Gentleman, and once upon a question of privilege, so that this, in fact, was the earliest moment when he could bring his motion forward. Late as the period now was, he thought he should ill perform his duty if he abstained from bringing forward a motion upon the subject, particularly as a large number of the manufacturers and artisans in the county with which he had the honour of being connected had been losing their capital and employment, and sinking year after year, in consequence of the decline of their trade. They had now no other authority to which they could appeal but this House—to whom he hoped the appeal would not be made in vain. He would not say that there were not other trades which were in a depressed state, and other import duties which ought to be reduced, but there were circumstances connected with the duty on wool which rendered it indispensable for the House to deal with it, even if they were not prepared to enter generally upon the subject of the import duties. He was aware that a proposition of a similar nature with respect to the coal duties had been submitted to the House in the course of the present Session, and rejected by her Majesty's Government; but the circumstances of the two cases were widely different. It was argued with respect to the coal duties, that the act had been so short a time in operation, that it was impossible to form a fair opinion of its effect. He did not admit the soundness of the arguments, but they did furnish grounds for the temporary answer of the President of the Board of the Trade. No such grounds existed as to the wool duties. The decline of the woollen trade, he was sorry to say, had been of long standing; ever since the increase of duty in 1819, the trade had been steadily failing, he had some hope, however, from the course which the Government had pursued in another question. He had seen with great pleasure that her Majesty's Government, in the case of the Irish Spirit duties, had spontaneously abandoned them the moment they found that they did not answer the expectations which were held concerning them, without waiting for any motion in this House. Now, with respect to wool, let them see how the argument of productiveness told. In I841 the produce was 129,000l.; in 1842 it was 94,000l., being a decrease in one year of between one-quarter and one-third of the whole amount. When such a deficiency as this showed itself in the produce of a duty, the only wise course was to meet it, as the Government had done with the spirit duties, by a large reduction in the rate of duty. He would now state the grounds for such reduction as concisely as he could. With regard to the papers which had been furnished to the House on the subject of the wool trade, he would just observe that there were some facts connected with the trade which might occasion hon. Gentlemen, without explanation, to draw a false inference from these returns. In the first place, a large portion of the articles included in that return were partly composed of cotton, so much so, that they might just as well be entered cottons as woollens. The returns included also worsted goods, which were a separate manufacture altogether, and the contrast between the worsted and woollen trade was most remarkable. The woollen and worsted manufactures were carried on in the same neighbourhood, assuming Leeds and Bradford as the chief seats of each, within ten miles of each other, with the same advantages of coal, skill, and capital. The raw material of both was wool; but the one was short or carding wool, the other long or combing wool. The one was grown at home or came from our colonial possessions, and paid no duty; the other came from foreign parts, and paid the duty which he was now about to propose should be reduced. The trade in woollens was failing year after year, whilst that in worsted was as steadily increasing. There was no difference between the two trades, except in the duty, and the inference was inevitable, that to the duty in a great degree, the depression of the woollen trade must be attributed. He was aware that he might expect opposition from the British wool-grower, and indeed at a great wool fair the other day, one of the Members for Hertfordshire, admitting the distress of the manufacturers of woollen goods and their consequent inability to buy British wool, concluded his address by announcing his intention of opposing any motion for giving facility for the introduction of foreign wool. This was a most fatal mistake. The British wool-grower had either no interest in the matter, or a decided interest in favour of the import of foreign wool. First, as to the grower of long wool: almost all the wool grown in England was now classed as long wool. Now the manufactures in which long wool is used, are the worsted manufactures, which are increasing year after year. Besides this, the quantity of British wool exported is rapidly increasing. The exports of British wool were in 1827, the year before the duty was taken off, 278,552 lbs.; in 1835, 4,642,604 lbs.; in 1841, 8,47I,235 lbs.; and in 1842, 8,578,691 lbs. The exports of woollen yarn were in 1835, 2,357,336 lbs.; in 1840, 3,796,664 lbs.; in 1841, 4,903,291lbs.; and in 1842, 5,062,401 lbs. So far, therefore, as English-grown wool was concerned, the exports had increased thirty fold in the last sixteen years, and were still increasing. The producers of long wool, therefore, had nothing to apprehend; they were reaping the full advantage of the repeal of the export duty. The producers of short wool had a direct interest in the reduction of the import duty, as the introduction of more foreign wool afforded the best prospect of raising the price of their own. In order to prove this, he would refer them to the evidence of witnesses, gentlemen in the wool trade, taken before a committee of the House of Lords in 1828. One witness (Mr. Goodman) stated, that if the present duties levied upon foreign wool should be discontinued, the change would be decidedly advantageous to the trade, and would raise the price of British wool. Another witness (Mr. Nussey), also stated that if the 1d. per lb. duty upon foreign wool were taken off, the effect would be a rise in the price of British wool; and Mr. Brooks gave evidence to the effect, that a free trade in foreign raised the value of British wool. These gentlemen had experience to guide them in forming their opinions. They had experience of the fact, that when the duty of 6d. had been reduced to 1d. per lb., the result was a rise in the price of English wool. The clearest evidence of this existed: Mr. Hughes, a wool broker in London, said before the said committee, that "It was extraordinary, that when the duty was taken off foreign wool, British wool rose in price." The reason why, when the duty on foreign wool should be taken off, the prices of English wool would rise, could be easily explained. In order, it seemed, advantageously to work up English short wool, it was necessary to mix it with a certain portion of foreign wool. In the committee upon the subject in 1828, Mr. Cooke, a manufacturer of Dewsbury, stated that they could not use the British wool without the aid of the foreign wool; and that the admixture tended to increase the consumption of British wool. He might quote much more evidence to the same effect, but he would only appeal to the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Shepherd) for further confirmation of this statement In all the finer species of cloth it was indispensable either to use foreign wool altogether, or to use a portion of it mixed with British; and therefore, if hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to promote the sale of short wool grown in this country, they should support the importation of an additional quantity of foreign wool, in order to enable the manufacturers to work up home-grown wool for sale in this country and abroad. The long wool-grower, he contended, was independent of any alteration in the duty; and it was for the interest of the short-wool grower that the duty on foreign wool should be diminished. He would now show the state of our woollen trade: the trade with which he had principally to deal upon this occasion was the manufacture of woollen goods, the main part of the raw material of which was fine wool imported from abroad. The returns showed an enormous falling-off in the exports of manufactured goods made from this wool. He would quote the official returns, to show the rapid state of decline in which this trade was. Taking the average of five years, ending with 1838, the number of pieces of woollen cloths of all sorts annually exported, was 560,000; in 1839, the number was 392,854; in 1840, 215,746; in 184l, 213,125; in 1842, 161,675. In the case of napped coatings, taking the average of the same five years, the number of pieces exported was 20,000; in 1842, it was 8,433. Then as to baize, the average of five years, ending in 1838, gave an export of 44,000 pieces; in 1842, the number was 24,000 pieces; and in blanketing, the average of the five years ending 1838, gave an export of 3,000,000 yards; while in 1842, the number was 1,391,000 yards. This was a falling-off unexampled in the history of manufactured goods. He would now show what was the case with other trades in similar circumstances with the woollen trade. He would take, for instance, the woollen and worsted trade. The exports in this trade in

1821 amounted to 1,078,428
1841 2,007,366
1842 1,979,492

Of mixed cotton and woollen goods, the extent of exports in

1821 amounted to 627,800 yards.
1841 5,015,087 yards
1842 6,950,010yards

Let the House compare the state of these articles of manufacture with the woollen trade. Both of the latter employed wool; they were all carried on within a few miles of each other; they enjoyed the same advantages with a single exception of the duty; the latter branches had increased to an enormous extent, while the woollen trade had experienced as great a falling-off. Then take the case of cotton goods; in

1839 the value of exports in the cotton trade amounted to £24,550,000
1840 24,668,000

In linen goods the quantity exported in

1839 was 85,256,000 yards.
1840 89,373,000 yards

In linen yarn the exports amounted in

1829 to 16,314,615 yards.
1840 17,733,375 yards

He had shown the increased export of these latter articles up to the year 1839, when he brought forward the same motion last year, and he now carried the statement up to the last period to which Mr. Porter's returns extended. Appalling as was the statement of the falling-off in the woollen trade, that statement became more appalling when they looked to the exports of woollen cloths from foreign countries. The exports of Prussian and French cloths were increasing, as those of our own manufactures were diminishing; and thus in America, and with our other customers, English cotton and linen goods were not superseding English woollen goods, but French and Prussian woollen goods were superseding English woollen goods. Take the case of Prussia; the value of woollen goods exported from that country in

1833 was 46,395 centners.
1840 62,733 centers.

From France the exports of similar goods amounted in value,

1333 to £1466,520
1840 2,444,000

The value of English woollen goods exported to certain countries, of the markets of which Mr. Bischoff states that we once had the exclusive possession, was in

1833 £ 3,648,040
1840 2,153,132

While the value of the goods of a similar description exported to those countries by France, amounted in

1833 to £554,040
1840 1,064,980

Thus our exports to certain countries had fallen off from three and a-half millions to two millions, while from France they had increased from half a million to one million. The exports of cloths manufactured here to these same countries, amounted, in

1833 to 352,988 pieces.
1840 104,000 pieces
1842 70,000 pieces

Such was the state of our exports in the woollen trade, and the only reason why the same trade in other countries flourished was, that they possessed the raw material of manufacture cheaper than we did. No one would affirm that their skill or their capital were greater than ours, or that every advantage in manufacturing was not upon our side. He believed that effective labour was as cheap here as abroad. He knew of no difference in the circumstances of the trades in their favour, except the cheapness of raw material. That they had, and it was impossible to take it from them; but at least it was most impolitic to add to these advantages in their favour by the imposition of a high duty upon the importation of the raw material into this country. That we owed the falling-off which had been experienced in the exports of woollen manufactures to the duty imposed upon the raw material might be inferred from the falling-off in the import of foreign wool. Confining himself to wool paying 1d. per pound duty, he found that taking the last five years, the quantity imported was in

1838 32,297,000 lbs.
1839 26,795,000 lbs.
1340 24,274,000 lbs.
1841 22,052,000 lbs.
1842 17,052,000 lbs.

This showed a falling-off of almost one-half within the last five years, and if they took the imports of German wool, they would find that they bad fallen off in the same proportion. As to the fine wool, of which cloths were made, the quantity imported was diminished in extent to one-half, and in other manufacturing countries their imports had increased as much as ours had fallen off. He would state the case of the German Union. In 1834 the exports exceeded the imports by 41,017 centners and in 1840 the imports exceeded the exports by 35,261 centners—making a difference of 76,278 centners. The centner was equal to about 103 lbs. English weight, and the increased consumption of wool in these states, supposing the production not to have increased, was upwards of 7,800,000 lbs. But the produce of wool in these countries had not been standing still. In Prussia the increased produce of wool during the same time amounted to 81,304 centners or 8,000,000 lbs. and upwards. He did not know what the increased produce in the other States of the Union might be: but at any rate he had shown an increased consumption in Germany of more than 15,000,0001bs. In the same way in France; the quantity of wool imported into France was, in 1830, 7,214,000 kilogrammes; in 1840, 73,456,000—showing that the import had nearly doubled within seven years. Prussia, he would observe, had no duty to pay upon its wool. Belgium had only a very small duty to pay. The French paid a duty, but it was compensated by a bounty given upon it after exportation. Belgium, Prussia, and France, therefore, had this advantage over us, and no other, that they had their raw material either totally free from duty, or only burthened with a duty counterbalanced by a bounty, or one much less than was paid by the manufacturer of this country. Now, if they looked at the quantity of wool imported which paid no duty, they would find the importation of that kind of wool as steadily increasing as the other was diminishing. Take the last five years. The quantity of colonial wool imported into this country was in

1838 10,000,000 lbs.
1839 12,864,000 lbs.
1840 12,848,000 lbs.
1841 16,310,000 lbs.
1842 18,360,000 lbs.

This was the extent of the importation of wool free from duty, and the House would see that it had steadily increased. Again, he was far from saying that the cotton trade was in a flourishing condition, or that it would not be expedient to reduce the duty paid upon the raw material of that manufacture; but the import of cotton wool had steadily increased. The quantity of cotton wool imported in 1841 was 3,931,226 cwt.; in 1842 it was 4,265,336 cwt. The import of raw material of that manufacture had thus been increasing even through the last year of distressed trade; while, during the same period, the import of sheep's wool had gradually diminished. He hardly knew what further facts were necessary to make out his case. The result of the state of things which he had been describing was an enormous depression of trade in Leeds, the chief of the woollen manufacturing towns. There might lately have been some slight revival, but he was sure that those who knew the state of Leeds best would not say, that they believed that that improvement in trade was anything of that firm and steady nature which would induce them to hold out a hope that the woollen trade had permanently revived. Far from it. He would give some evidence of the stagnation of trade in Leeds during the last year. There were in Leeds 635 "gigs"—a species of machinery used in finishing cloth. During the greater part of last year, 381 of these gigs were standing still altogether, absolutely not working at all, while 254 only were running, and these were not running whole work, they were only running four days and a half in the week, while the work furnished altogether was not equal to three days per week with the whole number. An immense number of people were, of course, in such a state of things, thrown out of employment, and he might mention that 434,000l. was paid less in wages during 1842, than in a year in the ordinary state of trade. He found, too, that in 1832 there were twenty-four houses exporting woollen goods to the Continent, while in 1842 there were only eleven such establishments. The former employed about 25,000, the latter about 3,000 workmen. After the facts which he had stated, he did not know how he could push demonstration further. He had shown the steady decline of the woollen trade. He had shown the contemporary increase of other trades, placed in similar circumstances, with the exception of the duty, to the woollen trade. He had shown that our greatly diminished woollen exports had not been caused by other fabrics, the produce likewise of this country, supplanting them. He had shown that if foreign countries took less of our woollen goods, it was not because they purchased more of other species of our goods, but that it was because they took a greater quantity of woollen goods from foreign manufacturing countries. The woollen cloths these countries took were now manufactured in Prussia, in Belgium, and France, instead of in this country. He repeated, that there was no difference in the circumstances of the manufacturers of the different countries which could account for this difference in their prosperity, except the duty paid in this country upon the raw material, and under these circumstances he did call upon the House, if they were anxious to save the woollen trade—if they were anxious to save the old staple trade of the country—to interfere, and express an opinion that the duty levied upon the raw material should be diminished. There were no means of increasing the prosperity of the trade except by diminishing the duty; and he trusted he should not call in vain upon the House to apply that remedy which it was in their power to adopt—the only remedy which parties interested called for or advised—the only remedy which any man in that House could suggest, in order to relieve the trade from its depressed position, and restore it to its former condition. His proposal at present was, simply to go into committee upon the subject; he could not, owing to the forms of the House, bring forward a definite proposition at once; but what he should propose, in case of a committee being granted, would be to carry out and execute that understanding made with, and expectation held out to, the manufacturers, when the export duty was reduced, that the import duty should be reduced to 1s. per cwt., the amount of the export duty. When the manufacturers consented to the reduction of the duty on the export of British wool, it was always held out to them, that the agriculturists would agree to the proposed reduction in the import duty upon foreign wool. The reduction of this duty was held out to the manufacturers by Lord Bathurst, Lord Liverpool, and the Earl of Ripon, the last of whom said, as plainly as man could say, that the view which Government always took of the matter was, that the duty on the export and import of wool should be the same—this was the view which the Government of that day had always taken of it. In 1828, Lord Bathurst said, that he did not hesitate to admit the justice of the claim. He said, however, that the Government could not then make the reduction on the import: that they reduced the duty on the export as a boon to the wool-growers in their distress, but that they must postpone carrying out the recognised principles of equality till a more favourable opportunity. He trusted that the favourable opportunity was now come. The House was aware of the state of distress which prevailed in the woollen manufacturing districts. In Yorkshire, in Wiltshire, in every place where wool was manufactured, he appealed to any Member connected with or knowing anything of these districts, whether for years back the manufacturers had not been in that state of permanent and lasting distress which gave them grounds for appealing to this House —for thinking that the time was come, that the opportunity had arrived, when that should be done for them in their distress which was done for the home woolgrower in his distress—when the principle of equality, long recognised, should be at length carried out, and the import duty reduced for the manufacturer as was the export duty reduced for the agriculturist? No measure could be adopted more fraught with benefit to all classes, to those who grew, and to those who wore the wool. The circumstances of the woollen trade were singular. The producer would derive as much benefit from the reduction of the import duty as would the consumer. There was no person who would not be benefited by any increased importation of foreign wool, and it was the interest of all parties to see this duty reduced. He did not suppose that Government would deny any of the statements which he had made, but he supposed that he would be met by the objection, that they could not spare the produce of the duty upon foreign wool. Now, in the first place, he thought that, after the statements which he had made of the distress which prevailed in the woollen manufacturing districts, he was entitled to expect that there would be a considerable increase in the amount of duties paid upon articles of consumption, consequent in another species of goods—those made upon an improved state of trade. To what amount this increase might extend, it was impossible for him to say. He might be told, as the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, had been told before, that to expect an increase of revenue from articles of consumption, consequent upon an improved state of trade, was a mere truism which should not be stated to the House. He did not, however, know that the value of an argument was diminished by its being so undeniably true. He allowed, that it was a perfect truism; but he was glad that he agreed so entirely with the Government in principle, and now he only wanted the Government to act upon their own principles. The principles on which they advocated the alterations of the tariff were most sound ones—that the reductions of duty were calculated to give a spring to trade. Let them act on these principles now. Here was a trade in the lowest state of depression—a remedy was in their power; and if ever there was a case in which it was necessary to give a spring to trade, it was in the case of the woollen trade; and he called upon them to do it. But if the argument be true, that increase in consumption was the result of restored trade, the converse must be true, and it followed from thence, that there was at present a loss to the revenue from the want of consumption of articles of Customs and Excise: and then came the question, whether that admitted loss was counterbalanced by the produce of the woollen duties? And if the House adhered to the duty which Government were so anxious to preserve, they would find in it little compensation for the admitted loss. Under the management of Government, the woollen duty was falling-off nearly as fast as if it was at once repealed. He would state the produce of the duty for the last five years upon the wool on the importation of which 1d per pound was levied. The amount of that duty was, in 1838, 135,000l.; in 1839, 112,000l.; in 1840, 105,000l.; in 1841, 97,000; in 1842, 76,000l. The trade, it appeared, was falling off, the imports were diminishing, and all this for the sake of a revenue which was going as fast as the trade. They might as well do something to save the trade, although they should lose the revenue, but at present they were losing the trade and reve- nue together. His hon. Friend, the Member for Kendal, would state the case as to low-priced wools to the House, but he would refer for a moment to the produce of the duty on wool admitted at the lower rate. The importation had increased to its highest point, and was now falling off. The duty on the imports of this article had been, in 1841, 31,000l; in 1842, 18,000l. Now really, that they should undergo the effect of these measures—that the manufacturers should be losing their capital, and the workmen their employment—that this state Of distress should be endured for the sake of saving a revenue, when the revenue was melting away as fast as the trade, was beyond the comprehension of any man of common sense. But he was prepared to run some risk. Looking at the falling-off in the produce of the duty which had already taken place, and the probable increase of consumption of articles paying duty to the Customs or Excise, which would certainly arise if prosperity was restored to the woollen trade, he should over-estimate the loss to the revenue from his proposal, at 50,000l. The Government had made larger sacrifices, and for less important objects. They had sacrificed more than 600,000l. on the timber duties, with no prospect of a result so beneficial to this country, as by a less sacrifice of duties payable on the raw material of our manufactures, or on articles of food and consumption for the people. They had sacrificed revenue by the Canada Corn Bill for the sake of the Canadians. If we made sacrifices for our colonial possessions, let us do something for own manufacturers and artisans, by a sacrifice not one-twelfth so great as the Government anticipated on the timber duties, the actual reduction being greater than was anticipated. Whatever reduction might be made was demanded by the state of trade, and the sacrifice being at any rate but small, was such as it became the House to make for the sake of the woollen trade of the country, which was in a state of gradual and steady decay, and for the sake of masses in the community who were in a depressed and almost starving state.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that of all the difficult and painful duties which fell upon the individual who filled the office which he had the honour to occupy, none was so difficult or so painful as the necessity of refusing an ap- peal fur the reduction of particular duties. Whatever might be his opinion on this or on that tax, he was ready to admit that taxes were an evil, though they were a necessary evil; and it required no ingenuity—none at any rate of the powers exhibited by the hon. Gentleman, to show that every tax imposed on the trades to which it applied, caused difficulty and embarrassment. And if, therefore, the House, on every motion of the present nature, were to yield to able statements of the inconveniences which arose from a particular tax—and if they treated lightly not merely the repeal of that individual tax, but the application of the same statements to all other taxes, and if they did not consider the necessity of the country to obtain an adequate revenue, they would piecemeal surrender every tax which had ever been imposed to maintain and to meet the expenditure of the country, and expose it to irretrievable financial embarrassments. The hon. Gentleman had stated, and had stated correctly, that his opposition to the present motion would be founded upon the general ground of not diminishing the revenue of the country. He had formerly stated to the House, on the occasion of introducing the Budget, that the financial state of the country would render a compliance with the motion of the hon. Gentleman quite impossible. Under these circumstances it would not be necessary for him to follow the hon. Gentleman into all the details he had brought forward on the subject. It would not be necessary, because his resistance to the motion did not rest on the particular circumstances of the case, but upon the general circumstances of the country. He would, however, make one or two statements which would throw some light upon the present question, and which, he thought, would put in rather a different point of view from that in which it had been presented by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman urged a repeal of the duty because he stated that there had been a falling-off in the amount of foreign wool imported into the country. The hon. Gentleman was correct in stating, that there had been a falling-off, but all the papers before the House showed, that of all the imports none was of a more varying and fluctuating character than the import of wool. The hon. Gentleman had supposed that the falling-off in the amount of the imports during the last two or three years had arisen exclusively from a duty which had been imposed as early as in 1824. If they looked throughout the period, they would see that there had been continual fluctuations ever since the original imposition of the duty, and that the great falling-off of the last two or three years must be attributed to circumstances other than the amount of the duty. The hon. Gentleman stated, that the amount imported had fallen in the last year to 26,000,000Lbs., and that in the year before last it was 36,000,000Lbs; but if he looked back as far as I836, he would find that in 1836 the amount received was 56,000,000Lbs; and that in 1835 it was only 33,000,000Lbs., making a difference of 22,000,000Lbs. But when they were considering the progressive decrease in the importation of foreign wool, they ought to remember that there had been an increasing consumption of colonial wool; and though the hon. Gentleman applied his statement generally to short wool, and the colonial wool was generally long wool, yet he would admit that that part of the colonial wool was short wool, and that it came in substitution of the foreign wool; and so the total amount of foreign wool imported did not exactly represent the state of the trade in this country. In the colonial wool there had been an increase of from 6,000,000 to 18,000,000 in the time, during which the foreign had decreased from 33,000,000Lbs. to 26,000,000Lbs. It. was true, that the colonial wool paid no duty, whilst the Prussian wool, to which the hon. Gentleman principally alluded, paid a duty of 1d. per lb.; but the hon. Gentleman should consider that the one came from the antipodes, whilst the other came from a country with which England had the cheapest and most convenient intercourse. If the charges of the one were placed 'against the charges of the other, they would find that by the time of their arrival in port they stood upon nearly an equal footing. But there was another reason for the decrease in foreign wool. In Prussia, there was an export duty of 6s. per cwt., and if they cast off the 1d., or the ½d. per lb., the Prussian Government would take care to place upon the wool of that country a restriction equivalent to such a reduction. With respect to the falling-off of the imports, there was another thing which would go far to explain it. There had been an enormous increase, of cotton and wool mingled—and with that enormous increase was it not reasonable that the taste for the one article had superseded the taste for the other, and did not their own observation confirm this? Take their own country. Did they not see every peasant who had formerly been dressed in broadcloth, now wear some manufacture of cotton? Fustian had superseded cloth. The hon. Gentleman had further stated that he grounded his claim on a promise given in 1828, that, as there had been a reduction of the exports duty there should be a reduction of the import duty also. Now, if the operation of the duty for the last fifteen years had been so distressing to the trade, there had been many opportunities for considering it on the part of Governments holding various opinions on politics and on trade, and yet no one had conceded a remission of this duty — and the promise had been quite as binding then as now So without any impartiality as far as this duty was concerned— for he confessed that in his opinion taxes upon raw produce were generally inexpedient —if he resisted the motion, he resisted it on the ground which he had stated last session, and that ground was now strengthened by existing circumstances. He had had occasion not long since to bring forward the financial statement of the present year, and the financial prospects of the year to come. He had presented fully and fairly to the House the difficulties by which they were beset, and he had had the disagreeable task of informing them of an arrear to be made up in the ensuing year. He had stated also, that he forbore from making any especial provision for that arrear, under the impression that the House felt the necessity of retrenchment in their expenditure—the impossibility of reduction in their revenue. The hon. Gentleman certainly stated that the sum was small, that it would cost the country a sum less than 100,000l. On that point he differed from the hon. Gentleman. There had been previous years when the amount of duty had fallen to 96,000l., and when it had immediately risen to 130,000l.; and because this year the amount received was below the averages, he was not prepared to reduce the duty. If they proceeded on that principle, they must be prepared to abandon the duty altogether. But his objection did not relate to this duty alone. There were other duties which must follow in its train. They had already had the question of the coal duties before them. The House had agreed not to diminish the revenue by a reduction of that tax; and he trusted that on the present occasion, acting upon a corresponding principle, they would adhere to the present duty. His hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln had given notice of a motion with respect to fire insurances. His hon. Friend stated with great confidence, that he should be enabled to make out an irresistible case for reducing the duty; and with his ability, no doubt, he would make a very plausible case; but he intended to oppose his hon. Friend's motion, as he opposed the present motion, and upon the self-same ground. The present was not the first time on which they had been called upon to decide the question. In the last session the Government had reduced the duty upon imports, and the whole import duties had, undergone the revision of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman had then brought forward his motion with regard to wool. Another hon. Gentleman had brought forward the duty on cotton, and other hon. Gentlemen had brought forward other articles which they thought entitled to a reduction; but when the whole subject had been before the House, and they had been settling the various items of the tariff, they had made a selection of other articles, and had rejected the motion of the hon. Gentleman. And, if then, when they had had the whole question before their view, they thought fit to reject the motion, à fortiori, he thought they would not be disposed to adopt it now, when no substitute was offered in its place. He would not enter on the subject of the timber duties, as the House had already decided upon that question, and it could not now be necessary to re-open it. He believed that the tariff of last year had shown to the House and the country that the Government were not insensible to the relief of the various national interests. With respect to the superiority of French cloth as regarded the export trade, it should be recollected, that the French government gave a bounty on the export of cloth; and to this alone was owing the superiority they possessed. On the whole, then, when he considered the reductions that had already been made in duties on various articles, and when he considered the state of the finances of the country, he could not do other than give a negative to the motion of the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. W. Williams

was sorry that this motion was confined to sheep's wool, for he considered that the duty upon cotton wool was still more injurious to the trade of the country. The duty amounted to nearly eight per cent., and he was sure the House must see the importance of relieving the raw material from taxation as much as possible. If not reduced to a nominal amount, it should certainly be reduced to the amount stated by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government of last year. It would soon be found that the export of machinery would make a material change in the trade and manufacture of cotton in this country; but if you remove the duty, this country could compete with all the countries in the world.

Mr. Sheppard

was understood to say, that he was sure neither the manufacturers nor the wool growers could prosper under the duty, or would be injured by its abolition. He had foreseen and predicted that the former reduction in the duty on wool would be attended by a rise in the price, of English wool, and so it had turned out. The wool-growers had been as much benefitted by that reduction as the manufacturer. It enabled the latter to work up the English wool with foreign wool which they imported, and without which the produce of our own flocks could scarcely be used. With respect to our manufacturers, they laboured under great disadvantages in consequence of the present duty, Before the close of the war such duties were of comparatively less importance, owing to the great superiority of our machinery, but since the peace and since a free communication took place between the continent of Europe and England, we had lost that peculiar advantage. The Germans, and particularly the Prussians and Belgians, had made use of our machinery and our system of manufacturing, and they were now enabled, he was sorry to say, to make many articles better than we were, and to send goods to the United States of a finer quality, and at a less cost than we could produce. The French were pursuing the same course with similar advantages, and underselling us in the foreign market. He was of opinion that our manufacturers ought to have the advantage of mixing our own Southdown wools with German wools at the lowest possible price. The Prussian manufacturer had now the advantage of our machinery. and he obtained the raw material 7 or 8 per cent. lower than our manufacturer. To allow our manufacturer fully to share his advantages was the only method by which a fair competition could be restored, and by which English wools could attain remunerating prices. To show how much the English trade had decayed, he would mention, that in the year 1836, 619,000 pieces of cloth were exported, and in 1843, now that Germany had got our system, the number had fallen to 160,000 pieces, about one-fourth of the previous quantity. Whilst Prussia had increased her export of woollens from 46,395 cwts. in 1833 to 62,773 cwts. in 1840, and France had increased her exports to the United States alone, which stood at 6,000,000 francs in 1833 to 12,000,000 in the year 1840. And it appeared that foreign woollens entered in England for transit had alarmingly increased, being in 1833 value 3,600l., in 1841 6,700l.; and it is worthy of remark, that France and Belgium allow a drawback or bounty on all their exported woollens. These circumstances strongly called for the attention of her Majesty's Government. He gave his cordial support to the motion.

Mr. G. W. Wood

said, that it had been clearly demonstrated by his right hon. Friend who brought forward this motion, that while the trade of foreign countries was increasing, our trade was yearly diminishing. He did not think it was the duty of this country to look to the conduct of other governments, when we came to consider the relief of our own manufactures. When he had brought this subject forward last year, it was admitted that the case was clear in favour of the repeal of the duty on coarse wool. But the import of the inferior wools for the year 1842 had fallen short very considerably of the import of the former year, and this showed that the year 1841 was a year of extravagant import, from which no inference could fairly be drawn. The average import of coarse wool prior to 1834 was 3,000,000 lbs. per annum; but in 1834 it rose to more than three times that amount, but had afterwards declined. If they tried the effect of the duty on the importation of wool, they would find a considerable decline, which was to be traced to the effect of the duty since its imposition. The wools which were formerly imported ranged from 6d. to 1s. per lb., whilst the wools now imported ranged from 3d. to 5d.; so that the effect of the duty was much heavier when it had to be paid at so much per lb. on wool of inferior value. They had been told last year when the tariff was brought forward, that one of its objects was to relieve the manufactures of the country as far as possible from the pressure of duties on the raw material; and he contended that the pressure of duty on wool, which entered largely into manufactures, pressed very heavy in proportion to its amount. When he heard the declarations made last year, that it was the intention of the Government to relieve manufactures from the taxes on raw material, he naturally expected a remission of the duty on sheep's wool; but in that he had been disappointed, and the remissions had gone to other quarters. Though the United States levied a small duty on their fine wools, they levied no duty on coarse wools, thinking it important to encourage the manufactures into which that description of wools entered. The consequence of this was, that a large proportion of the coarse wools that came from South America were purchased by the United States, as the manufacturers there would pay a higher price in consequence of having to pay no duty. He felt it of the greatest importance to the manufactures of this country, that this duty should not be maintained, and he hoped the Government would feel the importance that some measure should be taken to relieve the manufactures of this country, and he, therefore, supported the motion.

Mr. W. Beckett:

The hon. Member for Halifax had submitted to the consideration of the House so much information upon the subject of his motion, and had detailed so many facts proving the injurious consequences arising from the tax upon foreign wool, that he should have been content to let the merits of their case rest upon the statements which the hon. Member had made, had not the observations which had fallen from his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had a tendency to prove that the depression of the woollen manufactory had not been so great as was represented by the Member for Halifax. He felt too deeply for the ruinous condition of that large manufacturing constituency with which he had the honour to be connected, not to assure the House that their interests had been more heavily oppressed and more deeply injured by this tax than any other portion of the manufacturing community. The manufacturers of foreign wool felt that they have a double ground for complaint—the one from the actual injury entailed upon their operations by the tax upon their raw material, the other from the relative injustice done to them in the more favourable terms upon which the raw material of other manufactories was permitted to be imported; they had not only to lament the portion of the trade which they have already lost, but they were deeply apprehensive that they could not retain that portion which was yet left to them; they found that the advantage of 7½ per cent. at which their continental competitors were enabled to buy in their wool, could be recovered in any subsequent process of their manufactory, and that it was in vain they put no limit to their outlay of capital, to their adoption of every improvement in machinery, and to the reduction of their own profits, which were brought down to the very verge of loss, and actual loss frequently incurred in the hope of retaining the trade; still they had the mortification to see contracts for cloth diverted to other channels and executed by other hands. Adverting to the injustice done to the woollen manufactory in the tax upon their raw material, what did they find upon investigation? That the tax upon flax, the produce of Russia, was imported at 1d. per cwt:, whilst wool, the produce of Germany, was charged 9s. 4d. per cwt., and that cotton is charged 2s. 11d., not one-third of the tax upon wool. It was difficult to reconcile so great a discrepancy in our tariff, and still more difficult to convince those who were so deeply injured that they were not unjustly treated. If, he thought that this was merely a local question, that the endeavour to obtain the abolition of this tax was a mere attempt to relieve the manufacturing interest from the payment of taxation, and to throw it upon the shoulders of others, he would be ashamed to support any such object; but he would prove that this was not a local question, but one which deeply affected the general interests of the country. Locally speaking as to the effects of this tax causing so great a depression of trade, he found in the borough with which he was connected large masses of unemployed capital, houses and warehouses in great numbers unoccupied, and an assessment for the out-door relief of unemployed operatives increased since 1837 from 12,000l. to 23,000l. in 1842. Next, alluding to the effect upon agricultural interests, he found a reduction in the consumption of butchers' meat to the following amount:—

Sheep killed per week, reduced from 3,500 to 2,000
Fat cattle killed per week, reduced from 350 to 250

Malt consumed, reduced 25 per cent.

And lastly, alluding to the excise receipts within the district of which he spoke, he found them less by 50,000l. than they were two years ago, which wass more than one-half of the sum which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer collected from his tax upon wool throughout the whole kingdom. These were the consequences of that depression of trade to which the tax upon foreign wool so greatly contributed, and these were the general grounds upon which he supported the motion of the hon. Member for Halifax. He would only add, that in the great struggle for labour which exists not only in this country but in every other throughout Europe, when every government must direct its attention with the greatest anxiety to provide employment for the people, it was quite clear, that the labour of the manufacturing population of this kingdom could not be sustained upon any other principle than that of removing every obstruction, and reducing to the lowest possible price the importation of all those raw materials upon which the industry of the people so much depended. The continuation of the wool-tax was a direct departure from that principle, and he could not sufficiently lament that the injurious consequences of it were exemplified to so great degree in the condition of that extensive community which was comprised within the districts of the woollen manufactory throughout the kingdom. He could have no hesitation in giving his hearty support to the motion for the abolition of this tax.

Sir R. Peel

said, although he could not concur in the motion of the hon. Member for Halifax, he would, nevertheless, take that course which was next best to concurrence—he would not make use of any argument which could prejudice the free consideration of his proposal for a reduction of duty, whenever the financial circumstances of the country would permit. He had lately had an opportunity of conferring with a deputation of most intelligent men from the woollen manufacturing districts, and he felt bound to say that the statements made and the arguments used by those Gentlemen had made a great impression on his mind. The hon. Member for Coventry contended for a reduction on the duty imposed on cotton as well as that imposed on wool; but if such an alteration were to take place, the result would be a loss of between 700,000l. and 800,000l, to the revenue, for the duty raised on wool did not exceed 100,000l., while that raised on cotton amounted last year, he believed, to 600,000l., and he should not be surprised if it should be found to exceed that sum considerably during the present year. He was bound to say that all these duties upon articles which were the elements of manufactures were in themselves objectionable. He feared, however, if he was to open the whole question of taxation there would be many taxes found which were in themselves objectionable, but the necessity of strictly fulfilling the obligations of the public faith, and to provide for the extended possessions of the country at home and abroad, rendered it necessary that a very large revenue should be raised annually. The hon. Gentleman had very fairly stated that if that duty was repealed it would be necessary to impose some countervailing duty, and so strongly was he impressed with the policy of repealing the tax upon wool, that he said there was no tax which the Government might propose in its stead that he would not be willing to agree to. He felt much obliged to the hon. Member for his individual assent, but he wished the hon. Gentleman could assure him that he would carry with him the assent of the House and of the country before he consented to take off taxes to the amount of 700,000l. He distrusted the power of the hon. Member to command the assent of the House in such a case. At the same time he thanked him for his admission that if taxes of that sort were repealed some substitute must be provided. He was ready to forego the advantage of the argument that such a step would injuriously affect the agriculturists, because he did not think it would have that effect. With regard to the possibility of foreign countries imposing an export duty in the event of their removing the duty, he should be glad to have some information upon that point. Their chief exporters were the states of Germany and Russia, but of the total quantity imported, 15,000,000lbs. came from the German states. But, at the same time, although the manufacturing states of Germany might press for an export duty, the agricultural states would endeavour to prevent such a step. But, setting these considerations aside, the ground on which he resisted the present motion was the existing state of the public revenue, and he trusted the House would bear that in view. Notwithstanding the great financial exertions of last year, there still remained a deficiency between the receipts and expenditure, and he thought the House would agree with him that, on the whole, it would be better to give the great commercial changes of last year a fair trial, and endeavour to ascertain whether the operation of those changes ultimately would not only restore an equality between the revenue and expenditure, but leave such a surplus as would require them to determine how to apply the surplus to the reduction of taxation. But even should they consider it necessary to reduce these duties, and to look for a substitute in other duties, he did not think the time was yet come when they ought to enter upon the discussion of that point. The revenue was still deficient, the obligation to support the public credit still remained, and, while he stated these paramount grounds of objection, he did hope that the House would concur with her Majesty's Government in considering that the time was not arrived when they could part with that large amount of revenue, and that it would be expedient to wait until the revenue of the country was in a more prosperous condition. He trusted that the House would go along with him in that view, and that they would consider it inexpedient to select one particular tax, and sacrifice a large amount of revenue in the present state of their finances.

The House divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question—Ayes 142; Noes 70: Majority 72.

Ackers, J. Bentinck, Lord G.
Acland, Sir T. D. Blackburne, J. I.
A'Court, Capt. Boldero, H. G.
Alford, Visct. Botfield, B.
Allix, J. P. Boyd, J.
Antrobus, E. Bramston, T. W.
Archdall, Capt. M. Broadley, H.
Arkwright, G. Brooke, Sir A. B.
Ashley, Lord Bruce, Lord E.
Bailey, J. Buck, L. W.
Baillie, Col. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Baillie, H. J. Chelsea, Visct.
Bankes, Christopher, R. A.
Baring, hon. W. B. Chute, W. L. W.
Barrington, Visct. Clayton, R. R.
Clerk, Sir G. MeGeachy, F. A.
Clive, hon. R. H. Manners, Lord C. S.
Cochrane, A. March, Earl of
Corry, rt. hon. H. Marsham, Visct.
Cripps, W. Meynell, Capt.
Darby, G. Mildmay, H. St. J.
Denison, E. B. Miles, W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Morris, D.
Duke, Sir J. Neeld, J.
Duncombe, hon. A. Neville, R.
Duncombe, hon. O. Newdigate, C. N.
East, J. B. Newry, Visct.
Eaton, R. J. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Egerton, W. T. Norreys, Lord
Eliot, Lord O'Brien, A. S.
Escott, B. Packington, J. S.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Palmer, R.
Fitzmaurice, hon. W. Palmer, G.
Flower, Sir J. Patten, J. W.
Fox, S. L. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Fuller, A. E. Peel, J.
Gaskell, J. Miles Pennent, hon. Col.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Pollock, Sir F.
Gladstone, Capt. Praed, W. T.
Gore, M. Pringle, A.
Goring, C. Rashleigh, W.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Richards, R.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Rolleston, Col.
Granby, Marq. of Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.
Greene, T. Rushbrooke, Col.
Grimston, Visct. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Grogan, E. Sanderson, R.
Harcourt, G. G. Scott, hon. F.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Heathcote, G. J. Sibthorp, Col.
Henley, J. W. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Herbert, hon. S. Somerset, Lord G.
Hervey, Lord A. Spry, Sir S. T.
Hodgson, R. Stanley, Lord
Hope, hon. C. Stuart, H.
Hope, G. W. Sturt, H. C.
Howard, hon. H. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Hussey, T. Talbot, C. R. M.
Jermyn, Earl Thornhill, G.
Johnstone, Sir J. Trollope, Sir J.
Jones, Capt. Trotter, J.
knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Knight, F. W. Vesey, hn. T.
Knightley, Sir C. Waddington, H. S.
Lennox, Lord A. Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Lincoln, Earl of Wodehouse, E.
Lockhart, W. Worsley, Lord
Lowther, J. H. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Lowther, hon. Col. Young, J.
Lygon, hon. Gen.
Mackenzie, T. TELLERS.
Mackenzie, W. F. Fremantle, Sir T.
Maclean, D. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Bowring, Dr.
Aldam, W. Brotherton, J.
Bannerman, A. Buller, E.
Barclay, D. Busfeild, W.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Byng, rt. hon. G. S.
Berkeley, hon. C. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Blake, M. J. Cavendish, hon. G. H.
Clive, E. B. O'Connell, M. J.
Cobden, R. Ogle, S. C. H.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Ord, W.
Colquhoun, J. C. Palmerston, Visct.
Crawford, W. S. Parker, J.
Dalrymple, Capt. Pechell, Capt.
Duncan, G. Plumridge, Capt.
Duncombe, T. Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A
Easthope, Sir J. Protheroe, E.
Ewart, W. Ricardo, J. L.
Fielden, J. Scholefield, J.
Ferguson, Sir R. Sheppard, T.
Forster, M. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Gibson, T. M. Stuart, Lord J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Stuart, W. V,
Hall, Sir B. Thornely, T.
Hardy, J. Towneley, J.
Hastie, A. Trelawny, J. S.
Heathcoat, J. Wawn, J. T.
Hindley, C. Williams, W.
Howard, hn. C. W. G. Wilshere, W.
Howard, hon. J. K. Wood, B.
Howard, Lord Wood, G. W.
Howard, P. H. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Howard, Sir R. Wrightson, W. B.
Hutt, W. Wyse, T.
Lemon, Sir C. Yorke, H. R,
Leveson, Lord
Mangles, R. D. TELLERS,
Marshall, W. Wood, C.
Mitchell, T. A. Beckett, W.

Original motion put and agreed to, Order of the day read—Committee of Supply deferred.