HC Deb 29 May 1843 vol 69 cc988-96
Mr. Greene

brought up the Report of the Committee on Canada Corn.

On the question that the resolution be read a second time.

Mr. M. Gibson

said, he rose to explain why he objected to this resolution being read a second time, and why he should move the amendment of which he had given notice. The motion of the noble Lord, the Member for London, raised the simple question whether the Imperial Legislature was to be dependant on the colonial Legislature, or the colonial Legislature on the Imperial Legislature. He gave his vote in favour of that motion, because he considered it wrong that the superior Legislature should depend on the inferior one. The question he now wished to raise Was, whether that House considered that, in admitting corn on payment of a nominal duty into this country, it was a necessary condition that there should be a duty on foreign corn imposed previous to its passing the frontier into Canada? When the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) invited the House to go into committee for the purpose of reducing the duty on Canadian corn, he said that the population in this country was increasing at the rate of three hundred thousand annually, and it was, therefore, necessary that something should be done, in order that we might not be wholly dependent on corn of our own growth. Well, then, in common justice, they ought to allow the consumers in Canada to replace the produce taken away to this country in the easiest possible manner to themselves. That was the principle adopted with respect to Jersey and Guernsey. He had heard it stated, that there was a probability in the course of time that there would be a large import of corn from Canada into this country. He hoped there might; but whether there was or not, he must take the recommendation of the measure from the mouth of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies; his principle was, that they ought to take of the duty, because no great quantity of corn could come in. The House had, on a previous occasion, refused to impose a duty of 3s. a quarter to be levied on the frontier of Canada. Having done that, he could not understand on what principle her Majesty's Government had thought proper to recommend the Canadian Legislature to impose that duty on foreign corn. Before he sat down he wished to put a question to the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies. That noble Lord had said, in his opening speech, that corn imported into the colony, and there ground into flour, became the produce of that colony, and might, in that character, be introduced into this country. What he (Mr. Milner Gibson) wished to know was, whether the noble Lord intended to extend this principle to all the other British colonies, or whether it extended to them already? He (Mr. Milner Gibson) had beard it stated, that in that case there would be a great desire to make arrangements in various of our colonies— in Heligoland, for instance — to import foreign corn, grind it into flour, and import it into this country as colonial produce, at the scale of duties now in force for colonial corn. In conclusion, he would move as an amendment to the motion, that all the words of the motion after the word "That"be left out, in order to add these words— That in reducing the duty on the importation of Canada wheat and wheat flour into the United Kingdom, it is not expedient that such reduction should be made contingent on the imposition or maintenance of a duty on the importation of foreign corn into Canada.

Dr. Bowring

seconded the amendment. It was his wish to separate the evil from the good in the proposed measure of the noble Lord. The bill would do good by facilitating the introduction of the surplus corn of Canada into this country, but to provent the corn of America from going free of duty into Canada would be an evil, and from this evil it was the object of the proposed amendment to relieve the noble Lord's measure.

Lord Stanley

hoped the hon. Gentleman would not think him guilty of any disrespect if he declined opening the general question again, which, he thought, had already been sufficiently discussed. He confessed he was unable to draw any distinction between the amendment now proposed by the hon. Gentleman and that which was proposed on Friday last by the noble Lord the Member for London. The noble Lord, in his amendment, moved to omit so much of his (Lord Stanley's) resolutions as referred to an act agreed to by the Legislature of Canada, and rendered the legislation of the Parliament of this country dependent on that of the provincial Legislature. The amendment of the hon. Gentleman was framed on the same principle. His motion was made on a distinct understanding that the measure would tend to the encouragement of agriculture in Canada, and that there should be a protection against the introduction of American corn. He could not now consent to a motion which would enable the colony to obtain the benefit of the proposed arrangement, without affording to the agriculture of this country the intended protection against corn the produce of America. With respect to the question put by the hon. Gentleman opposite. What he had stated when he had proposed the measure was, that an article which; after having been imported into a colony, passed there through a process of manufacture, became the manufacture of that colony, and that corn, when manufactured into flour, followed the general rule of other manufactures. He ought to have added, that with respect to the grinding of corn, a special exception extended to all British possessions in Europe. The Channel Islands, and all other British possessions in Europe, were excepted from the general rule.

Mr. Thornely

said, that he had heard it stated on the authority of Lord Ashburton, that the late tariff of America had been passed for purposes of revenue only. Now, he had spent three months last autumn in America, where he had discussed this question of the tariff with merchants, and with persons in every position of life, and he had never met with any individual who did not admit that the tariff, from first to last, was arranged with a view to the protection of American manufactures, and with a view to the injury of foreign manufactures. He was sure that the Board of Trade would state that the American tariff was passed not with a view to revenue, but with a view to protection. Tea and coffee were admitted free of duty, because those articles were not grown in the United States, and did not, therefore, require protection, and they were not subjected to duty, on purpose that a higher duty might be laid on manufactures. He was perfectly surprised that Lord Ashburton could be so prejudiced as to believe that the tariff had been framed with a view to revenue. He did not believe that the British Government would succeed in obtaining a commercial treaty with the United States. The Government of that country was weak, and had six and twenty conflicting interests to deal with. Still it was the English Corn-law that mainly enabled that Government to carry so high a tariff, and while the sliding-scale was maintained here it would be impossible to prevent a high tariff from being maintained in America.

Mr. Villiers,

amid marks of impatience, said, that the noble Lord's answer to his hon. Friend's amendment, that the measure was not intended to increase the supply of food in this country, was not consistent with the hint that he had given to his agricultural friends at the close of his first speech—namely, that they must remember that the people of this country were increasing at the rate of 300,000 a year; that they were not able adequately to supply them with food themselves, and that the people must be fed. The noble Lord must have contemplated, that the people would draw additional supplies from Canada. Now, his hon. Friend said, that the fixed duty of which he complained tended to make this difficult, or at least could only be effected at the expense of the colonists, whose food would be rendered dear and scarce should they supply the deficiency; and, in this respect he begged to direct the noble Lord's attention to the effect of this duty upon Canada, regarding it merely, as he termed it himself, a colonial measure. It had been admitted that the duty would keep out so much American produce, and thereby raise the price of that of Canada. It would then be a Corn-law, and would be attended with its necessary consequences— it would raise the cost of living and diminish the means of the consumer where it was imposed. Now, observe the effect of that. It was alleged to be the great object of colonies to provide vent for our surplus people, and enable them to become customers for our manufactures. Now, what would be the effect of raising the cost of living in Canada? Why, to make the United States preferable to Canada for the poorer emigrants to go to, or if their wages were raised in Canada in consequence, to make labour more dear, which was no advantage to the capitalist. Now, the noble Lord knew that the tendency of the emigrants was to go to the United States in preference to remain in Canada. Would not that be increased? Again, if the cost of living was made high in Canada, would not fewer manufactures be consumed. The answer to this was, that there would be smuggling. This was no defence; for it was not intended; he thought that the best opinions were in favour of this impediment to the trade being successful. He believed it would be; and he asked upon what possible ground of sense or justice were they entitled to cast any impediment in the way of trade, or of the progress of a country to acquire which they had paid so dearly, and which cost them so much to maintain? What was the meaning of this country paying for public works in that colony, of guaranteeing loans for canals, all for the purpose of facilitating the transit trade of that country, and then deliberately and wantonly throwing an obstruction in the way of that trade? Only last year, one million and a half, he believed, had been raised to improve some part of the navigation. The chief trade was known to be in American produce sent to this country to purchase manufactures, and yet this year they insist upon what is called a fixed duty, which is a permanent obstruction being put in the way of the transit of that produce to this country. The fact was, that this duty, which the Canadians had been compelled by the landlords here to pass, nearly counteracted what was really good in the measure, namely, the total and instant removal of the old obstruction to the trade between Canada and England. That he allowed, was good, and of which he approved much, but a monstrous absurdity it was that it should ever have existed. It was indeed only last year that an emigrant a poor man, who had been destitute in this country, had gone to Canada, and had been able by his industry to remit a quantity of flour to his mother and another relative who were living miserably at home. Information was received by them that this flour was in bond, and an application was formally made to the Treasury to allow these two poor old starving people to have the food that the son had sent them; and a formal letter, signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, was sent to inform them that no such indulgence could be allowed them. Could anything be conceived more absurd than maintaining a colony and sending out emigrants at great expense for such a result as this? He was afraid that by not allowing the Canadians to supply themselves at the cheapest market, after remitting their own produce to this country, they would continue a system equally unjust and injurious. He was opposed, therefore, entirely to the fixed duty part of the measure, and should vote for his hon. Friend, though, as he said, the entire and instant removal of all duty on food between England and any other country, he should always deem a valuable change.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.—Ayes 195; Noes 83: Majority 112.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Barrington, Visct.
A'Court, Capt. Baskerville, T. B. M.
Ainsworth, Peter Bell, M.
Allix, J. P. Boldero, H. G.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Borthwick, P.
Arkwright, G. Botfield, B.
Baillie, Col. Bramston, T. W.
Baillie, H. J. Broadley, H.
Baird, W. Broadwood, H.
Baring, hon. W. B. Brownrigg, J. S.
Barneby, J. Bruce, Lord E.
Bruce, C. L. C. Hamilton, Lord C.
Buckley, E. Hampden, R.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Harcourt, G. G.
Bunbury, T. Hardinge, rt.hn.Sir H.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hatton, Capt. V.
Cardwell. E. Henley, J. W.
Charteris, hn. F. Henniker, Lord
Chelsea, Visct. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Chetwode, Sir J. Hervey, Lord A.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Hinde, J. H.
Christopher, R. A. Hodgson, R.
Clerk, Sir G. Holmes, hon. W. A'C
Clive, Visct. Hope, hon. C.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hope, A.
Cochrane, A. Hope, G. W.
Collett, W. R. Hughes. W. B.
Compton, H. C. Hussey, T.
Connolly, Col. Ingestre, Visct.
Coote, Sir C. H. Irving, J.
Corry, rt. hon. H James, Sir W. C.
Courtney, Lord Jermyn, Earl
Cresswell, B. Jocelyn, Visct.
Cripps, W. Johnstone, Sir J.
Damer, hon. Col. Jones, Capt.
Darby, G. Kelly, F. R.
Denison, E. B. Kemble, H.
Dickinson, F. H. Knatchbull,rt.hn,SirE
Disraeli, B. Knight, H. G.
Divett, E. Lawson, A.
Dodd, G. Legh, G.C.
Douglas, Sir H. Lemon, Sir C.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lincoln, Earl of
Drummond, H. H. Lockhart, W.
Dugdale, W. S. Lowther, hon. Col.
Duncombe, hon. A. Mackenzie, T.
Duncombe, hon. O. Mackenzie, W. F.
Du Pre, C. G. Mackinnon, W. A.
Eastnor, Visct. Mainwaring, T.
Egerton, W. T. Marsham, Visct.
Egerton, Lord F. Martin, C. W.
Eliot, Lord Marton, G.
Escott, B. Master, T. W. C.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Meynell, Capt.
Farnham, E. B. Mildmay, H. St. J.
Feilden, W. Miles, P. W. S.
Fellowes, E. Miles, W.
Filmer, Sir E. Mordaunt, Sir J,
Fitzmaurice, hon. W. Morgan, O.
Flower, Sir J. Morgan, C.
Follett, Sir W. W. Mundy, E. M.
Forbes, W. Murray, C. R. S.
Fuller, A. E. Newry, Visct.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Northland, Visct.
Gladstone, Capt. Packe, C. W.
Glynne, Sir S. R. Pakington, J. S.
Godson, R. Palmer, R.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Patten, J. W.
Goring, C. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R,
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Peel, J.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Pennant, hn. Col.
Greenaway, C. Plumptre, J. P.
Greene, T. Polhill, F.
Grimsditch, T. Pollington, Visct.
Grimston, Visct. Pollock, Sir F.
Hale, R. B. Pringle, A
Hamilton, W. J. Pusey, P.
Reid, Sir J. R. Tollemache, J.
Rolleston, Col. Tomline, G.
Rose, rt, hn. Sir G. Trench, Sir F. W.
Round, C. G. Trotter, J.
Round, J. Turner, E.
Rous, hon. Capt. Turnor, C.
Rushbrooke, Col. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Sandon, Visct. Verner, Col.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Vernon, G. H.
Sheppard, T. Vesey, hon. T.
Smith, A. Waddington, H. S.
Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Smythe, hon. G. Welby, G. E.
Smollett, A. Wilbraham, hon.R.B.
Stanley, Lord Wortley, hon. J. S.
Stanley, E. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Stewart, J. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Stuart, H. Young, J.
Sturt, H. C.
Sutton, hon. H. M. TELLERS.
Thesiger, F. Fremantle, Sir T.
Thornhill, G. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Barclay, D. Marsland, H.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Martin, J.
Barnard, E. G. Maule, rt.hon. F.
Berkeley, hon. C. Mitchell, T. A.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Morison, Gen.
Blake, Sir V. Murphy, F. S.
Blewitt, R. J. Napier, Sir C.
Brotherton, J. O'Brien, J.
Browne, hon. W. O'Connell, M. J.
Busfeild, W. O'Connor, D.
Carew, hn. C. R. S. Ord, W.
Cavendish, hn. C. C. Palmerston, Visct.
Cavendish, hn. G. H. Parker, J.
Chapman, B. Pechell, Capt.
Childers, J. W. Philips, G. R.
Christie, W. D. Philips, M.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Plumridge, Capt.
Corbally, M. E. Pulsford, R.
Currie, R. Ricardo, J. L.
D'Eyncourt,rt.hn.C.T. Russell, Lord J.
Duncan, Visct. Scrope, G. P.
Duncan, G. Seale, Sir J. H.
Dundas, D. Sheil, rt. hn. R. L.
Ebrington, Visct. Smith, rt. hn. R. V.
Elphinstone, H. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Ewart, W. Stewart, P. M.
Ferguson, Col. Strickland, Sir G.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Strutt, E.
Forster, M. Tancred, H. W.
Gisborne, T. Thornley, T.
Gore, hon. R. Tufnell, H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Villiers, hon. C.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Vivian, J. H.
Hallyburton, Lord J. Wall, C. B.
Hastie, A. Ward, H. G.
Hawes, B. Wawn, J. T.
Horsman, E. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Howard, hn. C.W. G. Wood, B.
Howard, Lord Wood, G. W.
Hutt, W. Wyse, T.
Layard, Capt. TELLERS.
Lord Mayor of London Gibson, M.
Mangles, R, D. Bowring, Dr.

Main question agreed to.

The resolutions read a second time.

On the question that a bill in conformity to the resolution be brought in,

Lord John Russell

said, the House having approved of the measure, and the matter having been fully discussed, he did not mean to impede its further progress, but he wished to protest against the adoption of the bill being hereafter considered as a contract by the Imperial Parliament. If hereafter Parliament should come to what he thought a better opinion, and regard this scheme as disadvantageous, both for Canada and the mother country, he should think the present settlement open to revision, if at any time such a course should seem advisable.

Bill brought in and read a first time.