§ Sir R. Peel
said—Sir, it is probable that the House expects from me some statement of the course which Her Majesty's Government propose to pursue under the circumstances in which they are placed by the vote of Friday night on the Sugar Duties, and assuming that I am right in respect to the wishes of the House as regards the statement I am prepared to make, probably the House will allow me to make it when the House shall have resolved itself into Committee, and Mr. Greene is in the Chair.
§ House in Committee.987
§ On the first Clause 5 and on the question that the words proposed by Mr. Miles be added, see ante, 970.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I propose now, with the permission of the Committee, to put it in possession of the views which Her Majesty's Government entertain with respect to the effect of the decision of Friday last on the subject of the Sugar Duties, and to state the course which it is their intention to pursue. Preliminary to that statement of their intention the Committee will, I am sure, permit me to refer in the first instance to the course Her Majesty's Government have pursued in the present year in relation to the financial policy of the country, and the considerations which have induced them to take that course, and to refer especially to the views they entertain upon the subject of those particular duties which are imposed upon foreign and colonial sugar. Sir, the opinions we entertain upon the subject of the Sugar Duties are those which we have entertained for several years—views which we expressed when we were opponents of Her Majesty's Government, which we have avowed since we have been intrusted with power, and which at the present time we still entertain and intend to act upon. We are of opinion that the ordinary considerations which determine matters of financial and commercial policy do not apply to the particular article of sugar. We find that with respect to the Slave Trade this country has adopted a particular line of action, from which it may be inferred that this country considers the continuance of the Slave Trade one of the greatest evils and curses by which humanity can be afflicted. We have Treaties with Foreign Powers by which they are engaged to co-operate with us in the suppression of the Slave Trade. Under ordinary circumstances we are ready to admit that the regulation not only of the internal affairs of countries, but of their commercial relations and interests generally, is within the province of the exclusive jurisdiction of each independent State. But we have engaged other Powers by special Treaties to co-operate with us for the suppression of the Slave Trade, though the chief onus of the attempt to suppress it has fallen on this country. The Legislature has thought itself justified by a general regard for the interests of humanity to aim at the suppression of the Slave Trade and the extinction of slavery. In 988 our own dominions the Legislature has thought itself justified by considerations wholly apart from any interested motives —by considerations of general humanity —to call on the country to make a great sacrifice, not only for the suppression of the Slave Trade, but for the abolition of slavery. The country voted without reluctance 20,000,000l. for compensation for the abolition of slavery in the British dominions. At the present day a great annual expenditure is incurred on the coast of Africa and in other parts of the world by this country for the suppression of the Slave Trade, that expenditure not being intended to benefit any part of our own dominions, but to put down a trade carried on for the supposed advantage of other parties with whose domestic institutions we have no right to interfere. In the course of the last Session of Parliament we passed an Act prohibiting—or at least enforcing additional penalties against—the application of British capital to enterprises carried on in foreign countries through the medium of slavery, and encouraging the Slave Trade. Both Houses of Parliament concurred in that Act, extending it to all the dominions of the Queen, and visiting with heavy penalties all those subjects of Her Majesty who in Brazil or Cuba, or any other place, made use of their capital to encourage the Slave Trade. We have, therefore, I conceive, by the whole tenor of our policy, given conclusive proof that this country is governed with respect to the Slave Trade by a different principle from that which regulates every other kind of commercial transaction. When Her Majesty's present Government were in opposition in the year 1839, we supported those who were then in power in resisting the proposal then made by the present Member for Dumfries, the effect of which, if it had met the sanction of the House, would have been to reduce the protective duty on foreign sugar, as compared with British colonial sugar, to the amount of 12s. That proposal was resisted by the noble Lord, the Member for London, and his Colleagues in the Government, upon grounds which I have before quoted; and in quoting which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman opposite, then President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Labouchere) will do me the justice to say that I did not use them in the way of taunt, or as supposing that the declaration then made presumed 989 that they placed any impediment in the way of a reconsideration of the Sugar Duties at some other time. I do not refer to them again, except for the purpose of showing that a very high and respected authority did entertain opinions with respect to the Slave Trade, not very different from those we have subsequently adopted. The right hon. Gentleman, whose opinion I am about to quote, did not profess to be permanently bound by his opinions; still he did state, as I now state, that in determining; matters connected with the Slave Trade we were bound to be regulated by other considerations than those which governed us in ordinary financial and commercial operations. In 1840, in opposing the Motion of the present hon. Member for Dumfries, the right hon. Gentleman, the then President of the Board of Trade, who had been asked why he consented to take slave-grown tobacco and cotton if he refused to take slave-grown sugar, said—He was not prepared to say that upon this subject the course of legislation in England had been consistent; but he thought that a broad distinction was to be drawn between the importation of sugar and the importation of tobacco and cotton. It was to be borne in mind, that the two latter commodities did not enter into competition with any similar articles raised by free labour in our own Colonies.The right hon. Gentleman also stated, that a great experiment had then been recently made in the West Indies, and referred also to some extraordinary and temporary causes of depression in the Colonies; but stated that he was unwilling to interfere with the success of the measure for the extinction of slavery in our British Colonial possessions, by opening the floodgates to a supply of foreign sugar, which would inundate the British market, and materially interfere with the prospect of a successful termination of that experiment. Whether the views we still entertain on this subject be well founded or not, at least they are consistent views — views which we did entertain, and which we avowed and acted on when we were opposed to the right hon. Gentleman. They appeared to receive a sanction also from the very high authority of a gentleman whose name I have never mentioned without accompanying it with professions of respect for his opinions on all matters of finance—I mean Mr. Deacon Hume. 990 That Gentleman was the advocate of the removal of the restrictions on the trade in corn, and he was the decided opponent of the protective system; he was the authority of all others who has given the most express and positive opinions, deriving great weight from his official situation and connection with the Government, in favour of unrestricted commerce and the abolition of protection. Mr. Hume himself did except this article of sugar and the Slave Trade from the ordinary principles which should govern the commercial regulations. He said—I cannot conceive; after our having thirty years ago abolished the slave-trade, and after having abolished slavery itself, that any question of free trade can arise as regards Cuba— with her abundance of rich soil, not only having the advantage of a population of slaves, but notoriously importing the enormous amount of 40,000 to 50,000 slaves annually, having in fact both the slave-trade and slavery—when the law has deprived the planter of the means of raising his produce. I consider the question as altogether taken out of the category of free trade.Those were the opinions of Mr. Deacon Hume, delivered so recently as the year 1840, at a time when he was the advocate of the abolition of all restrictions. Her Majesty's Government entertain the same opinions; they think, that to expose the British planter, who has neither the advantage—if it be an advantage of slavery— nor still less of the Slave Trade, to the necessity of competing with Brazil and Cuba, spots the most favoured by nature for the production of sugar—the parts of the world, containing probably the most of rich and virgin soil, and with a climate peculiarly adapted to the production of sugar:—we entertain Mr. Hume's opinion—that if you prohibit the Slave Trade and abolish slavery, it does require the most mature consideration before you subject the British planter to competition with countries possessed of such facilities for increased production. We have the most conclusive proofs that our endeavours to extirpate the Slave Trade in Cuba and Brazil have been ineffectual; that the public mind of those countries is not opposed to the continuance of that system, but that it exists to a frightful extent; and we still entertain the opinion that to admit the sugar of those countries on the same terms that we admit the sugar of Manilla, and that we shall admit that of China, would be unjust to the 991 British planter. Remember too in considering this question that it was but comparatively recent that the House, by an unanimous resolution, addressed the Crown to enforce the regulations as to slavery and the slave-trade; that the Crown has acted on that address so far as to make increased pecuniary exertion to suppress the slave-trade, and that the feeling manifested on that occasion was such as to leave no doubt that, in the opinion of the House of Commons, considerations of expense was subordinate to the great object of suppressing the slave-trade, we certainly think that the opening the British market to the sugar of Brazil and Cuba would give an increased stimulus to the slave-trade as carried on in those countries and on the coast of Africa, aggravating the status of slavery, and that, therefore, after such public professions, it would be inconsistent so to open our markets to that slave-grown sugar. We are not insensible to those considerations—at least we attach due weight to them—urged by the opponents of protection, that the admission of sugar the growth of free labour would give, though not a direct, yet an indirect encouragement to a certain extent to the slave-grown sugar of Brazil and Cuba. That, certainly, may be the result at first; but I cannot help entertaining the opinion that, if you will encourage the protection of sugar the growth of free labour in such countries as Manilla and Java, and perhaps in China, you will by that give a permanent encouragement to the production of free-grown sugar—that, though there may in the mean time be a temporary increase of the produce of Brazil and Cuba, yet that the encouragement you will give will ultimately tend to prove that free-grown sugar can compete favourably with slave-grown sugar, and that you will thus be striking a blow, indirectly but effectually, at the slave-trade, and by those means tend to ameliorate the condition of the slaves themselves. Sir, these are the general grounds on which we still entertain the opinion that though it may be safe with respect to the West India interests to permit a limited and qualified competition of sugar the produce of free-labour, yet that it will be dangerous to those interests to admit, as the noble Lord proposed at a differential duty of 10s. only the sugar of Brazil and Cuba, and that it would be inconsistent with the course this country has taken, and the declarations we have made, 992 on the subject of slavery, and the slave trade. I do not wish to provoke any controversy, but merely to state the grounds on which Her Majesty's Government have formed their conclusions, and on which they are prepared to act. With these opinions, the question upon which we had to decide at the commencement of the present year was this—what course shall we pursue with respect to the admission of foreign sugar? Of course I do not ask hon. Gentlemen to acquiesce in my views, and to make a distinction between slave-labour sugar and free-labour sugar. I only ask them to allow me to assume for the sake of argument that my opinions are correct in supposing that there is to be a distinction made. Entertaining those opinions, then, what course ought we, consistently with our public duty, to pursue with respect to the admission of foreign sugar? As bearing on the question, an event of considerable importance is to occur this year. On the 10th of November, 1844, the existing Treaty with Brazil will expire. Previously to that day it is most difficult for a Government, entertaining the opinions we do, to deal at all with the question of sugar, because Brazil is entitled, by the engagements of the existing Treaty, to have her produce received in the markets of this country on the footing of the most favoured nations. There is no qualification—it is an equivalent condition—the engagement is express and absolute. The produce of Brazil must, with respect to duty, be admitted on the same footing as the produce of Manilla or of Java; but on the 10th of November in this year, that state of things will cease. We, therefore, considered at the commencement of this year what course it would be our duty to take. It has been said that it would have been more advisable, if, instead of postponing the consideration of that great question—which must be considered previously to the expiration of the Income Tax—we had declared our general financial and commercial views this Session; and that, supposing they had led to the conclusion that there ought to be a continuance of the Income Tax, accompanied by further modifications of the Tariff, and greater reductions in the import duties on foreign articles, it would better have been made in the present year than have deferred any proposal we might have to make until the next. Now, I will state to the 993 House the reasons which induced us to think it our duty to postpone the consideration of the general financial condition of the country, as connected and interwoven with the renewal of the Income Tax, until next year. We thought it most desirable, that the House, before coming to a decision on so important a question as the renewal of the Income Tax, and many other questions necessarily depending upon it, should be in possession of the greatest and fullest experience as to the effect of those alterations in the Customs duties which were made in 1842, when the Income Tax was proposed. Many of those duties did not take effect until within a rather recent period. But, if we are to decide that great and important question of the renewal of the Income Tax, it would be most advantageous to us to know the result of the past reductions of the Customs' Duties. In the case of the timber duties, the experience of their effect is very deficient, because, in the case of timber, as to some of the most important articles in respect of which reductions were made, the whole alteration did not take effect till the month of October last; therefore, we have now only a very limited period from which to determine the effect of the reductions in the timber duties. There have also been, for some months past, decided indications of an increased demand for industry, and of greater employment among the manufacturing and working classes generally, that cannot but be considered as an evidence of increasing and returning prosperity as far as the trade and manufactures of the country are concerned. I am sure I am expressing the earnest wish of this House that these indications may be significant of permanent improvement. At the same time we have on former occasions been deceived by delusive indications of returning prosperity, and there are some who still think that these indications cannot be relied on. But this, in my opinion, constitutes a decisive reason why, before reviewing the whole of our commercial policy, and why, before taking into our consideration the renewal or the abandonment of the Income Tax, or whatever other financial course we might think advisable, sufficient time should elapse in order that we might be enabled to judge of the effect of the alterations then made. But there was another and a still more conclusive reason for postponing until next year the 994 consideration of the Income Tax. We had no alternative in the present year, as we had reason to believe at the commencement of the Session, but to draw the attention of the House to two other great financial questions, which probably would press in the course of the present Session for immediate discussion. The one was the reduction of the interest on the Three-and-a-Half per Cent Stock—an operation, from the amount of that stock, by far the greatest that has been undertaken in modern times, and the failure of which would have been to every interest most unfortunate. We had also no alternative but to bring forward a proposal of the greatest importance, which I have had, as the organ of Government, the honour of submitting to this House, namely, the measure for the renewal of the Bank Charter, the regulation of Joint Stock Banks, and of the system of paper circulation in this country. We foresaw at the commencement of the Session that there was every prospect that both these measures would undergo consideration. Seeing also the mass of legislation, which I freely admit was left undisposed of at the end of last Session, and which pressed for decision in the course of the present,— the necessity of proposing the reduction of the interest of the Three-and-a-Half per Cent. Stock, and the other necessity of proposing a measure for the regulation of the Bank Charter, induced us to think that it was not desirable to call the attention of the House to another measure of the greatest financial and commercial importance, namely, the question of the renewal or discontinuance of the Income Tax. There was a third reason also for postponing the measure till next year, which, in our opinion was equally conclusive. How were we to deal with the question of the admission of foreign sugar? To propose the continuance of the Income Tax, and make no proposal on the subject of sugar, would probably not have conciliated the approval of the House of Commons. I doubt whether the House would not almost have considered a proposal respecting the Sugar Duties a necessary condition of the renewal of the Income Tax. It was impossible for us, pending the Treaty with Brazil, to make that proposal. Supposing in the month of March we had brought on the question of the Income Tax and the Sugar Duties, and proposed in that month any considerable reduction of the duties 995 on sugar, Brazil would have been entitled until November, 1844, to share in all the advantages of that reduction, and would have had a positive claim to admit her sugar into the market of this country with the advantage of whatever reduction would have been made. Now, from the combined operation of these three reasons, I think any gentleman who permits me to assume that we are right in making a distinction between free-labour sugar and slave-labour sugar, will admit that we had no alternative but to postpone the consideration of any very extensive measure in respect to the Sugar Duties until our discretion was unfettered, so far as Brazil was concerned, by the termination of the Treaty. We therefore did resolve deliberately not to ask the House to pronounce an opinion in the course of the present Session with respect to the continuance of the Income Tax. At the same time, we felt it to be our duty to make a proposition to the House on the subject of the Sugar Duties. We saw indications of a rising price. The price of sugar at the commencement of the spring was about 2s. higher per cwt. than the average of the last two years. There were reasons to apprehend that there might be a deficient supply. In the month of November, 1844, the period would arrive when we should be at liberty to deal with the question of free-labour sugar. The only monopoly that remains almost is that of sugar. ["Corn, Corn."] I do not wish to provoke discussion. I am making a statement of a very important kind, and I wish studiously to avoid saying anything which is capable of contradiction in the way of argument, still less that can provoke angry controversy. But, certainly, of the great articles of consumption in this country, the only one in respect of which an unqualified monopoly exists is sugar. On the article of foreign sugar there is a duty of three guineas, which operates as an exclusion of that produce from our market. We thought, therefore, it was our duty to avail ourselves of the earliest opportunity of proposing a measure we thought might be passed without detriment to the interest of the West-India Colonies, with advantage to the community at large, and without injury to the revenue; namely, to break down the monopoly as far as this— to admit sugar the produce of the same description of labour which the West Indians could command, namely, free-labour 996 sugar, to competition with West-India sugar; and we resolved to propose that, after the 10th of November next, the whole extent of the protecting duty between Colonial sugar and free-labour sugar should not exceed 10s, We thought that if at this period of the year, when there is an increased demand for sugar, there should be a deficient supply—if the expectations of an abundant supply from our own Colonies should be disappointed —if the price should suddenly rise, there being an increased demand for the commodity, on account of increasing industry in the manufacturing districts—we did think that the West-India interest would not be benefited by such a rise in price, and that it would be for their advantage, as well as that of the consumer, to take a security at least against any rapid and considerable increase in price. We, therefore, resolved not to diminish the duty on sugar the produce of our own Colonies, but, the very earliest moment at which we could deal with free-labour sugar, without giving any corresponding right of admission to slave-grown sugar—to permit this qualified competition. We had another reason for dealing with this question in the present year. We wished the producers of free-labour sugar to know what were the opinions and intentions of Parliament. We wished them to be assured whether Parliament intended to confine the competition to free-labour sugar, and whether Parliament would sanction Government in establishing a distinction between free-labour and slave-grown sugar. It became most important to our views that early notice should be given that in China, in Manilla, in Java, the present producers of sugar, and the capitalist inclined to speculate in the increased production of sugar should know what were the intentions of the British Government, in order that at any future period there might be the means of competition with sugar the produce of our own Colonies; and the desire, therefore, to take a security against increased price, and the desire that early notice should be given in the countries which were to be the competing countries with Colonial sugar, induced us to resolve not to postpone beyond Nov. 9, 1844, the admission of that description of foreign sugar into our own market. I am bound to say that, notwithstanding the discussions which have taken place, we adhere to our opinions. We believe the 997 course we have proposed to be more safe for the revenue, advantageous for the consumer here, and, so far from being detrimental to the West-Indian interest, likely to promote the enlarged and permanent advantage of the West Indian body. In submitting that measure, however, to the consideration of the House we were met, in the first instance, by the Amendment of the noble Lord (J. Russell), who proposed that slave-labour sugar should be admitted into competition with colonial sugar upon the same terms on which free-labour sugar should be admitted. The noble Lord, assuming our distinction, proposed that a duty of 34s. should be indiscriminately applied to sugar the produce of any country, without reference to the source whence it was derived, or the kind of labour by which it was produced. The noble Lord took a division on that point, and the proposal of the Government in that respect was affirmed by a considerable majority. On a subsequent stage of the proceedings we were, however, met with a counter-proposal on the part of the West-India body. It was proposed by an hon. Friend of mine —the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Miles) —that there should be a departure from the scheme of the Government,—that instead of the relative amounts of sugar being as we proposed (24s. and 34s. from November next), my hon. Friend proposed, and the House implied an opinion, I presume, that his scheme was preferable to ours ["No, No,"]—well, an opinion adverse to our proposal—my hon. Friend proposed that instead of the relative Duties being 24s. and 34s. the relative Duties should be 20s. and 30s.; that there should be from the 10th of November next a reduction of duty on British sugar to 20s., and that from the same day there should be a discriminating duty as respects certain descriptions of sugar called white clayed sugar, or sugar equivalent to white clayed sugar, to the extent of 14s. His proposal limited the protecting duty on sugar of all descriptions to 10s., and with respect to a particular description of sugar that there should be a protecting duty of 14s. Her Majesty's Government have, as was their duty, considered the proposal of my hon. Friend. Acting, I trust, not under the influence of temper or disappointment at being in a minority, they have maturely considered the proposal which I still must think, if 998 the Government were inclined to adopt it, would probably meet with the sanction of the House, because I cannot help thinking there must have been some understanding that hon. Gentlemen whom I see opposite were, many of them at least, to support the proposal of my hon. Friend. ["No. no."] I don't say that the vote given the other night at all involved any obligation to support it, but certainly I inferred that there was an understanding that the proposal of my hon. Friend was to receive support from the other side of the House, as opposed to the proposal of the Government. [Mr. Roebuck: "No."] The hon. and learned Gentleman is under no such objection, having expressed his opposition to it. I do not say that the other side of the House generally is under the least obligation to support it, but I certainly do entertain the opinion that many Gentlemen on that side of the House were prepared to support the Motion of my hon. Friend as contradistinguished from the proposal of the Government. I do not say that the vote itself binds any Gentleman, but certainly it gave reason to suppose that there was, on the part of many, a disposition to support the proposition of my hon. Friend, as opposed to the Motion of the Government. I will now, Sir, assign the reasons why Her Majesty's Government, after mature consideration, notwithstanding the vote come to the other night, retain their original opinions, and are not prepared to adopt the Motion of my hon. Friend. They cannot acquiesce in that Motion as a mode of escaping from the difficulties in which they may be placed, because, on additional and more mature consideration in the interval, they disapprove of that proposition, and they think their own original proposition preferable for every interest in this country. My hon. Friend proposes that there shall be from the 10th of November next a prospective reduction of duty. We think prospective reductions of duty, to take effect from a certain defined period, are objectionable in principle. We think that the consumer will derive little advantage from that reduction of duty, that the revenue will be subjected to loss, and that the West-India interest will not be the party that will benefit by the increase of price which will take place in the meantime. We think it not impossible, if the market is to be supplied until the 10th of November at the present rate 999 of duty, with a certainty that on the 10th of November there will be a diminished rate of duty—at this period of the year, which is a very critical one as respects the Sugar Duties (the period of the year when there is an increased demand for sugar on account of the prevailing habit of preserving fruits and the making of home-made wine)—we think that at this particular period there will be an observable increased demand and an increased price, on account of the unwillingness of retailers of sugar to take out supplies in the interval between the present day and the month of November, when there will be a known reduction of duty to a certain prescribed and definite amount. We think the West-India interest will not benefit by that increased price, but that those grocers and retailers who may happen to have ample supplies of sugar will refuse to increase their stock, but will increase their demand on the public. In the course of this day I have looked at the effect that was produced by our proposal for the reduction of the timber duties from a certain date. At the instance of those who had stocks in hand, in conformity with what appeared to be the general concurrence of the House, in order to give the opportunity of disposing of the stock in hand, we altered our original plan, in 1842, in respect to the timber duties, and provided that in the month of October, 1842, there should be certain known reductions of the duties on Baltic timber. The measure of reduction was to receive its completion, and the duties, which were to continue permanent, were to take effect from the 5th of October, 1843. I have attempted to ascertain what was the effect, on the timber duties, the demand for timber, and what was the effect on the revenue by the prospective reduction of the duty on timber; and for that purpose I compared the amount of duty received in the quarters ending the 10th of October, 1841, and the 5th of January, 1842, with the produce of the two corresponding quarters—the 10th of October, 1843, and the 5th of January, 1844. I omit 1842, because the duties then were in a state of change. I think the fairest period for comparison is between 1841 and 1843, there being in 1841 no notice of a reduction in the timber duties. In the quarter ending the 10th of October, 1841, the total amount of timber duty received by the Exchequer was 646,000l., and in the 1000 quarter ending on the 5th of January, 1842, the following quarter, the total amount of timber duty was 92,000l. The proportion, therefore, of the timber duty received in the one quarter to the other was, taking the centesimal form of expression, as 100 to 45; showing that the quarter ending the 10th of October was that in which the great demand was made for foreign timber. In October, 1843, the new duty was to take effect and the total amount received in the October quarter was only 158,000l., instead of 646,000l.; but in the following quarter, from the 5th of January, 1844, the amount of duty paid, when the duties were settled and it was known what amount of duty was to be paid, when there was no withholding of supply in order to pay a diminished duty, the receipts of the Exchequer were 268,000l, as compared with 158,000l., that is to say, the proportion which had been in 1841, 100 to 45, was changed in the two quarters when the remission of duty was expected, and after it had taken place, from 100 to 45 to 100 to 169—showing what the effect was of a prospective reduction of duty on any article. There was diminished demand for the article —diminished payments into the Exchequer —parties waiting till they could take advantage of the diminished duty, and then, having got the diminished duty, the supply was taken out in the ordinary way. Now the amount of reduction in the timber duty made by the tariff was about one-sixth of the previously existing duty; it very nearly corresponds with the proportionate amount of reduction proposed by my hon. Friend. He proposes to make a reduction, on the 10th of November next, of about one-sixth of the present duty. My opinion is, that although I am willing to admit that the stocks of timber are much larger than the stocks of sugar, yet still I think it highly probable that the same results will follow —that there will be a limitation of supply in the sugar market for the five months that will elapse before the 10th of November next, that there will be increased price, and that that increased price will not go into the pocket of the West-India proprietor, the object of your sympathy—that there will be increased loss to the revenue, loss to the consumer, and no benefit, except to the retailer, who has no particular claim on your protection. I therefore retain my opinion that this prospective reduction of duty, to take effect from November next, 1001 is unwise. I know it is said that we our-selves encourage an expectation that at no distant period the Sugar Duties may be reconsidered. I apprehend that any such expectation as this, contingent on the continuance of the Income Tax, would produce a very different effect on the market from the notoriety that upon a certain day, the 10th of November next, an amount of duty named also is to apply to a given article. If any evil arises from the vague expectation that the Sugar Duty may possibly, dependent on certain contingencies, be reviewed, notwithstanding the declamations and sarcasms of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, the present Government will not be the only one that is chargeable with having made prospective changes of duties. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, more than once, when the late Government were charged with taking the West-Indian interests by surprise, say, that the late Lord Sydenham, in 1839, gave them notice that they must expect a revision of the Sugar Duties at a very early period; and that was his vindication for proposing in 1841 the measure that he had even proposed the year preceding, still falling back upon the prior motion of Lord Sydenham's. Thus the former Government cannot be said to have always accompanied the word with the blow, for they told the West Indians long beforehand to prepare for the blow, as they felt themselves under the necessity of making a general statement that parties must be prepared for a reduction of the Sugar Duties. But we have said nothing more than that which must be notorious— that the Income Tax will expire in the course of next year, and that when it does expire the question of its renewal or discontinuance must be accompanied by the consideration of the Sugar Duties. Therefore, I must contend that the effect of a prospective reduction to a definite amount at a declared period would be totally different, in respect to the dealings in the commodity affected, from vague, general declarations that next year the subject must be reconsidered. But, Sir, upon another ground that Government cannot acquiesce in the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. We cannot agree to a proposal that there shall be a discriminating duty of 14s. in favour of certain species of colonial sugar. I will not now enter into the question whether or not there should be a 1002 classification of sugar according to certain processes of manufacture; all I contend for is this—that if this classification be desirable it ought to be universal in its application—that in justice to the consumer, if you classify sugar the produce of foreign countries, you should classify sugar the produce of our Colonies. I am of that opinion, because there is as great a variation in the quality of sugar the produce of your own Colonies as there is in the quality of sugar the produce of foreign countries; and there is as much of injustice in subjecting the coarser description of sugar to a competition with sugar of the highest qualities, each being the produce of our own Colonies, at an equal rate of duty, as there is in subjecting your own sugar to competition at an equal rate of duty with sugar the produce of foreign countries. The inferior classes of colonial will compete with the inferior of other countries. The superior classes of the colonial will enter into competition with the superior classes of foreign countries. I cannot, therefore, admit the justice of making the classification in the case of foreign sugar unless you are prepared to make it equally in the case of our own sugar. And, therefore (if we ever came to that part of the proposal of my hon. Friend), the Government retain their original opinion; and cannot consent to seek an escape from their present difficulties by undertaking to give an increased protection to the West-Indian interests. My opinions, Sir, upon the effect of Sugar Duties are worth very little; they can only be formed upon general reasoning. The effect, for instance, of a prospective reduction of duty can be only estimated by watching the effect of such a measure respecting other commodities. But I have received by post this morning from a high practical authority a strong confirmation of the views I have expressed on this subject—that there is danger in a prospective reduction of duty, and that there is no sufficient ground for a discriminating duty in favour of the "white clayed sugar" of our Colonies. From this letter I will read some extracts:—Having been extensively engaged in the sugar trade for the last twenty years, and latterly having 'turned over' nearly 1,000,000l. per annum. I venture to submit an opinion. Of course I am in common with all other consumers and dealers, anxious to see the duties on all foreign, more particularly colonial 1003 sugar, reduced as low as possible; but I am quite certain, if the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol be carried as it stands, it will be most injurious to all parties interested, as well as to the revenue; for no one will deal in an article that is certain to be cheaper in November. I would likewise strongly advise you to place the same extra duty of 4s. on the better qualities of colonial sugar which the hon. Gentleman proposes to put on white clayed free-labour sugar, as it is well known that extensive refineries have been recently erected near Calcutta and other places, for the purpose of making a fine sugar very nearly equal to the refined, but just so much under it as to be admitted at the other rate of duty. And this has so far already superseded the use of the refined, or lump sugar, that in Scotland none other hardly is bought. And this fine crystallized sugar is made in Demerara, and now sells at 70s., while the brown Muscovado sells at 56s. duty paid.Now, observe the brown Muscovado selling at 56s. is exposed to competition with sugar of our own Colonies, worth 70s., at exactly the same rate of duty. The produce of those processes of manufacture, the result of the application of capital, are brought into our market in competition with the ordinary produce of the West-India Colonists at the same rate of duty. You propose to make no distinction there. But you do propose the discrimination in respect to foreign, which you do not admit as to your own sugar. Why, if this very fine sugar, worth 70s. is admitted at the same rate of duty as that worth only 56s., should not the same rule be adopted in the case of the sugar of Java and Manilla? Why should not the finer description of sugars the produce of Java and Manilla compete with our fine sugars at a 10s. discriminating duty, in the same way as the coarser kind of our sugar, of the value of 56s., comes into competition with the foreign article? These are the grounds on which Her Majesty's Government do not think it would be just to vote for the discriminating duty in favour of clayed sugar proposed in the Resolution of my hon. Friend, which gives a protecting duty of 14s. We cannot, therefore, assent to the proposal of my hon. Friend, because we entertain, after reconsideration, a decided preference in favour of our own plan. We do not think the measure which he proposes is one which ought to receive the assent of the House, and it is not, therefore, in our power to vote for it on its merits. Sir, I do not hesitate to admit that, differing as 1004 we do from my hon. Friend on the merits of his proposition, there are also political grounds which make it impossible for me, on the part of the Government, to undertake the responsibility of supporting him. It was said that no very material difference existed between the proposal of Her Majesty's Government and that of my hon. Friend; that in respect to one class of sugar he proposed the same amount of protecting duty, and that, therefore, we might without difficulty adopt the Amendment of my hon. Friend. If it be a matter of unimportance we are disinclined to adopt it. It was carried by a combination of those who generally support us with those who are our political opponents. If the measure, I repeat, be an unimportant one, in proportion to its unimportance, is it significant of a want of confidence in our Administration? ["No, no."] If you can effect a great public object, that is a reason for proposing an alteration in the plan of the Government; but if you cannot effect any important object, —if there be no great difference in the value of the two propositions, then I say the concurrence between our political opponents and our political Friends has a bearing on our position as the Executive Government of this Empire. It does in our opinion require us to resist it by all the means in our power, and if acquiesced in by us, it would be an encouragement of similar combinations. I do not believe, Sir—I cannot believe, that the concurrence in that vote was a casual occurrence, arising out of our debate on the subject. I may be wrong, but my impression is, that it was a reconverted arrangement between some of those who oppose and some of those who support us. When my hon. Friend—of course a word from him would he sufficient to destroy this delusion in my mind, if delusion it be, but I will tell him why I believe the vote was the result of a concert between some of those who support and some of those who oppose us, — I am not complaining. [Laughter.] No, but I have a right to observe upon such a combination. I do not deny the right of hon. Gentlemen, if they think fit, to enter into such combination. I do not condescend to deprecate such a proceeding; but I think I have a right to consider what bearing the result has upon the position of the Government, when I am determining whether I will acquiesce in an unim- 1005 portant proposition, as an Amendment to a plan of the Government, carried by a combination such as I have alluded to. I am not, I repeat, denying the right of the two parties so to combine. Into that I enter not. But I claim for myself the right—and I mean to exercise it!—the right of determining what effect, upon my position as a Minister of the Crown, my acquiescence in the arrangement proposed would produce. Sir, when my hon. Friend originally gave notice of his Amendment, it was to this effect—that he should propose a reduction of duty on British colonial sugar, to the amount of 20s. My hon. Friend indicated no intention at that time, to reduce the duty on foreign sugar from 34s. to 30s.; consequently, according to the original notice of my hon. Friend, the amount of protection for all sugar was 14s. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London had then made a Motion which proposed only a protecting duty of 10s. on all foreign sugars—namely, 24s. and 34s.; and my hon. Friend, it afterwards appeared, amended his proposition, and took as the amount of protecting duty for all sugars not 14s. but 10s. That was the proposal made by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend said, that after he had made his proposal the West-India body, being somewhat alarmed by my hon. Friend indicating the amount of protection which he thought sufficient, had quarrelled with him for not taking a higher amount of protection than 10s.; and, fearing that the expression of the opinion of the West-India body, as represented by my hon. Friend, might be hereafter quoted against them, my hon. Friend was induced to alter his plan, alleging that the forms of the House prevented him from establishing a greater distinction in the discriminating duty. Sir, my hon. Friend is quite wrong on that point, because nothing could have been more easy for my hon. Friend—if it had suited his views and those of all his supporters—than to have adhered to his original proposition of establishing a duty of 14s., which he could have done in perfect conformity with the orders of the House, and with no probability of being checked by your vigilance, he might have contrived so to have shaped his Motion that he might have established his protection to the amount of 14s., and thus have avoided the risk of embarrassment of which he professed such appre- 1006 hension. But my hon. Friend being invited to state whether he could make any relaxation in that part of his proposal which referred to the duty on "white clayed" sugar, I think intimated that he was not prepared to exercise any discretion on the subject, and that he was determined to adhere to the diminished duty of 10s. on the one hand, and the increased protection of 14s. on the other. Sir, I am not inclined, I hope, to be mortified, or to complain of the language used in the course of debate with respect to us, who, as Ministers, have to endure with silence, if not with patience, the harshest expressions. I cannot, however, altogether forget the terms in which my hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment recommended it to the consideration of the House. Without feeling the slightest ill temper, I am only remarking on the bearing which the proceedings have upon the position of the Government. My hon. Friend said we had indicated an intention to " sacrifice" the colonial interests; and the first proof he adduced of this was our abolition of the duty on the importation of wool, by which, he said, though it did not interfere with the home produce, we had struck a blow at the Australian interests. I have the satisfaction of stating to my hon. Friend, that since the abolition of the duty on foreign wool there has been a considerable sale of Australian wool, which took place, I think, three or four days since; and I have been assured by an hon. Gentleman, who sits on that (the Opposition) side of the House, that there never was a brisker sale of Australian wool; and that the rise in the price of such wool, since the reduction of the duty on foreign wool, as compared with the price of Australian wool before the reduction, was greater within the same period than had almost ever been known. So that my hon. Friend must give up his argument as to the blow inflicted on our Australian Colonies. Then my hon. Friend said, we had now "thrown off the mask," naturally attempting to induce the Agriculturists to co-operate with him in revising the Sugar Duties. Then, my hon. Friend made a distinct appeal to the noble Lord opposite, declaring he was prepared to combine with him for the purpose of rescuing the Colonists from the evils with which they were threatened by Her Majesty's Government—making the appeal to 1007 the noble Lord with the knowledge that the noble Lord was prepared to abolish all discriminations in duty between foreign sugar and colonial. Again the hon. Member for Inverness improved upon my hon. Friend, declaring our course "vacillating and tortuous," and that the West-Indian interests "could have no confidence in our intentions." He, also, made an appeal to the hon. Gentleman opposite for the support which they apparently willingly conceded. But, further, and which is more important, and there are occasions on which the most perfect frankness should be shown—the hon. Members did, I think, intimate that in their opinion the distinction should no longer be made between free and slave-grown foreign sugar. Sir, these are occasions on which one must speak with perfect unreserve. What are the reasons which induce me— be the consequences what they may—to decline acquiescing in the proposal of my hon. Friend? My hon. Friend did, I think, say that certificates of origin would be no security against fraud. If my hon. Friend was justified in the observations which he made, I think there would be for him scarcely any alternative but the admission of all foreign sugar at an equal rate of duty, or the maintenance intact of the present monopoly. My hon. Friend is of opinion, and regards this as a radical defect in our plan, that certificates of origin offer no security against fraud. If that be so I cannot see how he escapes the conclusion that all foreign sugars ought to be admitted indiscriminately, or that, in order to avert that calamity, we ought to maintain the existing law. The hon. Member who seconded my hon. Friend I think expressed himself in still more decisive terms as to the impolicy of maintaining a distinction between free-labour and slave-grown sugar. My hon. Friend I understand to give an opinion that he would prefer the free admission of all sugars, accompanied, perhaps, with an increased amount of protection to the admission of free-labour sugar, at the amount of protection proposed by Her Majesty's Government. To exemplify what I mean, I understand my hon. Friend to prefer a protective duty, the amount I will assume only for the purpose of exemplification— that my hon. Friend is of opinion that a protecting duty of 15s. to be applied to all sugars would be preferable to the 10s. duty proposed by the Government. In 1008 the course of the speeches of the two hon. Members there appears a material difference of opinion with regard to principle; between these two hon. Gentlemen and those of whom they are the organs and the Government, and the Government are determined that they would not be authorised in carrying such intentions into effect. That expression of opinion is an additional reason with Her Majesty's Government for surmising that in point of principle, as far as slave-grown sugar is concerned, there is a difference of opinion, and on that account they feel increased objection to adopt the proposition of my hon. Friend. Under these circumstances the course which Her Majesty's Government propose to pursue is this:—The noble Lord opposite (Viscount Howick) towards the close of the debate the other night invited the hon. Gentleman to join with him in excluding certain words, stating, and stating very truly, that the adoption of his suggestion would not bind any one to support the particular proposal of the hon. Gentleman. That if this Motion were successful those who had supported it might make any proposal they should think fit as an amendment to the proposal of my hon. Friend. I am sure the noble Lord would not wish to exclude Her Majesty's Government from the exercise of the same privilege. The noble Lord made his appeal to the House with his usual tact, and it was successful. He pointed out what would be the effect of the Amendment, and he said that voting for it did not bind any hon. Member to the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol, but that he was perfectly at liberty to move any other amendment he thought proper. For the purpose of giving the House an opportunity of reconsidering the subject and of determining whether any weight attaches to the reasons I have stated to the House to-night, it is the intention of the Government not to accede to the proposition of my hon. Friend. When the Motion is made—if my hon. Friend does make it, that 20s. shall be inserted as the amount of duty to take effect from the 10th of November, 1844,—I propose on that occasion to move, and to take the sense of the House on it, that 24s. be inserted; that is to say, there shall be no reduction of the duty on British colonial sugar. I shall not propose that motion merely because we believe it to be preferable to the other, but because that in carrying a measure 1009 this year on the subject of the Sugar Duties, it is important as indicative of your intentions next year that the producers of sugar in countries to the eastward of the Cape should know what will be their fate in the course of the next Session with respect to the Sugar Duties. We do not intend to propose at any time the admission of slave-labour sugar on the same footing on which we propose to admit sugar the produce of free-labour. It may be said, "Why then don't you abandon your measure altogether, and propose a continuance, of the existing duties until the usual period, or ending some period in the course of the next Session?" I will state to the House why we do not adopt that course. Suppose we did adopt that alternative,—in the course of the next Session, if we were instrusted with the Government, it might be our duty to make a proposal on the subject of the Sugar Duties. That proposal would, of course, involve a reduction of the duties on free-labour sugar. It might involve a considerable reduction of the duty on British colonial, and a corresponding reduction of the duty upon sugar the produce of free-labour. But, observe, if no previous notice had been given, and if you still required certificates of origin as the condition for the admission of free-labour sugar—observe the condition in which we are placed in approaching the consideration of the Sugar Duties without previous notice, or without any steps having been taken by Parliament. [Interruption, a general cry of" Order."] I am aware that the question is a very complicated and uninteresting one; but it is so much the more necessary that the House should grant me its kind attention, in order that they should comprehend the motives by which we have been actuated. If we had merely continued the existing Sugar Duties till next year, and that next year we proposed to deal extensively with the general question of sugar, in what position should we be? The noble Lord would certainly be relieved from any difficulty; for he would admit sugar from all countries, and his proposition would at once take effect. But we, in our opinion of the policy and justice of discriminating between the two classes of free-grown and slave-labour sugar, should have to choose between two alternatives, either immediately to reduce the duty on British colonial to a considerable extent—and observe, 1010 in that case, what we should do—we should establish a monopoly in the British market for British colonial sugar for several months, because we should have to wait for a certificate of origin before we could admit foreign sugar. Let us assume that in the course of a certain time (and I merely put the matter hypothetically), that we proposed a reduction of the duty on British plantation sugar to the amount of 16s., unless we could open some sources of competing supply, the British colonial producer would have a monopoly in the British market with that reduced amount of duty, and in fact he might fix any sum he pleased. If, on the other hand, we took up the course which would insure us a competing supply of sugar, and that we made the reduction perspective in its effect, say, at the end of eight or nine months, the consequence would be, that the arrangement would be open to all the objections of the Motion of my hon. Friend; it would be fixing a definite day for the duty to take effect, and the more we reduce the amount, the more we diminish the market and prevent a regular supply. On that ground I am not prepared to adopt the alternative of continuing the present Sugar Duties, because that would materially interfere with the general principle which we mean to pursue. I have thus, Sir, endeavoured to state as fully and as clearly as I could the course which Her Majesty's Government intend to pursue, and the motives which induce them to take it; but I am not, and cannot be, insensible to the position in which we have been placed, as far as concerns the progress in general legislation. I cannot help feeling that we have proposed measures, in the course both of last Session and the present, in respect to which that progress had not been made which we think might have been made, and which not having been made leaves us certainly in no enviable position. I do not pretend to blame either side of the House for this; but the fact cannot be denied. We must, therefore, consequently expect the same results at the close of the present Session which were witnessed at the end of the last, namely, that we had presented measures connected with the internal policy of the Government to the consideration of Parliament, and had not been successful in obtaining its consent. We cannot, also, conceal from ourselves, that, in respect to some of 1011 the measures we have proposed, and which have been supported, they have not met with that cordial assent and agreement from those for whose character and opinions we entertain the highest and sincerest respect. But I am bound to say, speaking here of them with perfect respect, that we cannot invite their co-operation and support upon the present occasion by holding out expectations that we shall take a middle or another course with regard to those measures which we believe to be best for the interests of the country and consistent with justice. We must continue to propose and to support those measures. Nevertheless, we regret that our measures have not been deemed entitled to support; and we deeply regret the forfeiture of that confidence which is necessary for the credit of a Government, and which has not been so exemplified upon the Motion of my hon. Friend as it should be; not that there should be a servile acquiescence in all our plans, nor that we should receive indiscriminate support, but, at least, there should be given to us ability to proceed with those measures of Legislation which we believe important to the public good. Our business should be to maintain and protect the great existing interests of the country, at the same time administering in them such improvements as we think compatible with their maintenance and necessary for the purpose of insuring their general efficiency. We have thought it desirable to relax the system of commercial protection, and admit into competition with articles of the domestic produce of this country, articles from foreign lands. We have attempted to counsel the enforcement of principles which we believe to be founded in truth, with every regard for existing institutions, and every precaution to prevent embarrassment and undue alarm, and we feel it necessary to maintain the laws which preceding Parliaments have passed, and we will not conceal that in respect to our ecclesiastical institutions, our intentions appear to have been defeated in the House of Lords in regard to one measure, which, though it may be considered an isolated one, is still a very important one. But, though I cannot conceal all this, I shall deeply regret it, if we have forfeited the confidence of those who have given us so truly and honourably their support. But I cannot ask for it by encouraging expectations which we are not prepared to 1012 realize. We think the course we took the right one; that a gradual, safe, and circumspect relaxation of the Sugar Duties, which would have prevented undue competition in the domestic produce of this country, was the best. We cannot profess any repentance; we cannot declare our conversion to a different principle. We are prepared to abide by the engagements we have made and the principles we profess; and the same course of gradual improvement is the course we must continue to pursue; and I think it necessary to make this declaration at a period when important consequences may be the result of the ultimate decision of the House on the subject.
Lord J. Russell
said—the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech has brought under the consideration of the House other topics besides that involved in the Motion immediately before the House. He has invited remarks and discussion upon matters of great political interest, upon which, being so invited, I cannot forbear making a few remarks. [Confusion—Cries of" Bar, bar,"— Calls of" Order."] What the right hon. Gentleman proposes is to revert to the decision of Friday last, and he said truly enough that, according to the statement made by my noble Friend on that occasion, it was competent for him, by the forms of the House, to move any Amendment or alteration in the terms of the Resolution before us. But it does so happen, that what the right hon. Gentleman proposes is no other than to reassert and establish the proposition which was rejected by the House on Friday night. The right hon. Gentleman proposes that the present duties upon sugar, so far as relates to sugar the produce of British colonial possessions, shall continue as they have been heretofore. He proposes also that the accustomed duties upon foreign sugars the produce of slave labour shall be continued, and then he proposes a duty of 34s. in regard to foreign sugars produced in free-labour states. This, in fact, is the very proposition which was brought before the House on Friday last by the right hon. Gentleman, and which the House decided not to agree to; and this proposition the right hon. Gentleman now calls upon the House, reversing its former decision, to affirm. It is not for me to estimate the value of the right hon. Gentleman's continuance at the head of the Administration of this country, but harder terms, as the price of such retention of service, I think have not been pro- 1013 posed to this House for centuries past. It appears to me that, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, there is no measure of Government, not an isolated measure of finance or of legislation, upon which he is not prepared to say, "let us as a Government frame our propositions as we think fit, it is your duty to acquiesce in them; and if by any chance any of you, taking an independent view of the circumstances of the country, should have come to a different conclusion upon the matter in hand, we will ask you to retract the vote which you may have given in obedience to these views—to deny that which you have affirmed, and exhibit yourselves to the country as a most degraded and slavish assembly." This, and no other, is the proposition which the right hon. Gentleman offers to the House, and this is a proposition which I, for one, am not prepared to admit. I am not one of those who rank with the supporters of Her Majesty's Government; and therefore it is not likely that I should be compelled by this threat to change any line of conduct which I may have thought necessary to adopt in regard to their measures. It is for those who support Her Majesty's Government to consider whether they meant in giving their support, that all free will upon every subject whatever, was surrendered to the right hon. Gentleman—and be it remembered, because, as he has touched upon these topics, I have a right to follow him upon them—surrendered not according to any known principles to which they assented when they voted to place him in office, but according to principles which in many respects are the reverse of those they assent to. The right hon. Gentleman said, some years ago, that he would be of great advantage to his party from his caution; and by levelling sarcasms against the doctrines of political economy advocated by some of the most illustrious authorities on that subject, led many gentlemen to think that they had found in the right hon. Gentleman the determined opponent of the principles of free trade supported by the late Ministry. Now, however, the right hon. Gentleman calls upon his accustomed supporters to support him, not upon the principles which he then enunciated, but upon new and strange doctrines, which those very gentlemen protested against upon the hustings, and upon which, nevertheless, they are now called upon to reverse all their former declarations—to abandon all the convictions of their mind. So 1014 far as the supporters of the Government are concerned, therefore, I think I may say that never were harder terms proposed to any Gentlemen than those now imposed by the right hon. Baronet on his supporters. But the right hon. Gentleman complains that this opposition has been the effect of political combinations between some of his own supporters and some of those in the Opposition. Now, as to this, I shall at all times be perfectly willing, and so I am sure would my right hon. Friend near me, to enter into political intercourse and co-operation in regard to any one particular subject on which we might be agreed in opinion, even with persons to whose opinions generally I am opposed. But what are the facts of this combination, so denounced by the right hon. Gentleman in the present case? My right hon. Friend told me, some days ago, that the hon. Member for Bristol had given notice of a resolution in regard to the Sugar Duties, and asked me to look at it. I did so; my information on the subject being derived from the votes of the House; and I there found that the hon. Member for Bristol proposed to reduce colonial sugar to 20s. without any other propositions. Seeing this, I wrote to my right hon. Friend, and said that the proposition was of such a nature that I could not give it my support. When the subject of the Sugar Duties came on for discussion, my right hon. Friend stated in the House—such was the secret nature of the conspiracy of which the right hon. Gentleman complained—my right hon. Friend stated in the House, and with a tolerably loud voice, that if the proposition of Her Majesty's Government had been to reduce the duty on Colonial sugar to 20s. and that upon other sugars to 30s., he thought it would be one to which we should be ready to give our support. Of course this anouncement could not be kept a secret from the hon. Member for Bristol, and acting upon it, the hon. Member did alter his Motion, and having done so, announced as I understood him, in this House, that he had endeavoured to frame his resolution so as to have regard for the interests of the West-India body, and at the same time to be likely to obtain support in this House. It was then that my right hon. Friend gave his support to the hon. Gentleman's Motion; and this, and no other, was the combination of political friends and opponents in this case, which the right hon. Gentleman so strongly denounced, With regard to the proposed duty of 34s., I am not aware 1015 that any one on this side of the House is bound to support it, and the right hon. Gentleman will have to give some explanation on the subject when we come to it. But the combination of political opponents of which the right hon. Gentleman complains, is not the only combination which this question has given rise to. There are some hon. Gentlemen who sit on this side of the House, have declared that they will vote for the right hon. Gentleman's proposition, and on Friday actually did so, and I am glad to see, impracticable as they have been called, that they are so practical in the hands of the right hon. Baronet, because having voted against my proposition for discriminating duties of 34s. and 24s. some nights ago, they now vote for the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, for duties of 63s. and 24s. respectively, on foreign and British Colonial sugars. Whether they think that this is actual free trade, or that it is the best way of undermining the principle of protection, and gradually arriving at what these Gentlemen wish-namely, the total abolition of all restrictive duties, it is not for me to say, or explain. But as to political combinations, I think, as I have said before, that we have as much to complain of as the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and that there are combinations in his favour as well as against him. With regard to the early part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I must say that it appears to me to have contained a great deal of matter which was not at all necessary. I do not now wish to renew the discussion on my proposition, to get rid of the distinction between free-labour and slave-labour sugar; though I still believe my proposition preferable to that of the right hon. Gentleman, and that it is gaining ground in public opinion. I believe that the distinction proposed by the right, hon. Gentleman is one which cannot be carried into effect; I will not follow the right hon. Baronet into his discussion about the Income-tax, but with regard to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot see any reason why he should not have brought it forward at an earlier period of the Session, so as to give more time for its consideration by this House. The Three-and-a-Half per Cents, question was settled in March last, and there was nothing in the way at any time afterwards to prevent the taking in hand of this question if it was considered of importance. The right hon. Gentleman said that several important measures required the attention of Her Majesty's Government. The 1016 Bank Charter is doubtless a subject of great and immediate importance, but considered relatively to the importance of these great subjects of finance, I really think the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, and the Irish Registration Bill might have been conveniently postponed to 1845. I think that it would have been much better if Her Majesty's Government had turned all their attention during the present Session to these great matters of finance, in order to have brought them to a uniform practical completion. The right hon. Gentleman urged the disadvantage which would result from making a prospective reduction in these duties. Now, I must say that I do not see that anything has been shown to lead me to believe that such prospective reduction would be more injurious in operation when applied to foreign sugars the produce of free labour, than to British Colonial sugars. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in arguing this question the other night, put the proposed reduction of duty on colonial sugar on these grounds; he said that no person would be disposed to buy because he would be waiting for the period when the proposed reduction in the duty should commence; but when he came to the consideration of his own proposition he said that every one would be ready to sell in order to get rid of the article before any further reduction would be made in it. So that it appears by the right hon. Gentleman's argument, this prospective reduction would be beneficial in his own case, but injurious in that of another. Now, with respect to a very important part of the subject, I wish to say a few words. I own it appears to me a fair proposition that the raw article should not be subject to competition with the same article in a manufactured state, at exactly the same rate of duty. I own that, in fairness, it seems that some distinction of this kind ought to be made; but if this distinction were made in regard to foreign sugars, it ought also in regard to colonial sugars. It appears that such was the opinion of Mr. Deacon Hume, and such was also the opinion of Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone proposed an additional charge of 5s. upon colonial clayed sugars, and 7s. 6d. upon foreign. That principle was acted on in Holland; and I shall be glad to hear from the hon. Member for Bristol why, if it is thought necessary to introduce a duty of 34s. on foreign while clayed sugar, there should be any objection to have the principle applied to colonial sugar similarly re- 1017 fined. But that, however, is a matter of detail. What the right hon. Gentleman now proposes to the House is, that they should agree to a proposition which the other evening they rejected—that they should positively affirm that to be expedient which the other night they declared to he inexpedient—and this rescinding of this vote of the House of Commons is to take place quite as much upon political grounds as upon the value of the commercial principles involved in the question itself. The right hon. Baronet declares that it is necessary that he should have the confidence of his usual supporters, in order to show that they are ready to go with him in the measures which the Government think proper to propose. If those Gentlemen vote with the right hon. Gentleman on the present occasion, it will indeed be, as I have said before, a melancholy proof of their own subserviency. This question has been fully argued. The proposition of the right hon. Baronet and the proposition of the hon. Member were both discussed, and after that discussion, by a majority of twenty votes in a full House the Committee divided against the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. I, Sir, can see no reason why any Gentleman should change his vote upon the present occasion; and if the right hon. Gentleman tells me that if he had yielded at once to a majority as upon some other occasions, he felt that he should not have been doing his duty to the country, whose service he had undertaken—let me tell those who voted against the right hon. Gentleman in the present matter, that if they now agree to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, there will be other propositions upon which he will treat them with the same disregard, meeting their opposition in the same overbearing manner as on the present occasion. Let them depend upon it that if they now yield their opinions at his commands, however important they may consider themselves as a majority in the House of Commons, their opinions and their votes will hereafter be of no weight. The right hon. Gentleman, being assured of their co-operation in whatever propositions he may mate, or however he may frame them, those hon. Gentlemen will find, when it is impossible to retreat from the position into which they have been driven, that their independence is gone, once and for ever.
§ Mr. P. Miles
Sir, I trust I shall not be considered as trespassing upon the time 1018 of this Committee by making a few observations on the present occasion. My right hon. Friend at the head of Her Majesty's Government has said that there was some conspiracy existing between hon. Members on this side of the House and those on the opposite side. Now, Sir, I beg to deny this in toto. The noble Lord, the Member for London, has correctly stated the reasons why I altered the Motion of which I originally had given notice. It is quite true that I gave notice of my intention to move for a reduction in the duty from 24s. to 20s. on sugar the produce of our colonial possessions. In the first debate that took place on this question, the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked me how I hoped to permanently maintain that proposition. In the same debate, the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Taunton, (Mr. Labouchere) threw out a proposition, to the effect that he would support the reduction as far as the 20s.. and the 30s. duties went, but he seemed to say that he was not inclined to support the discriminating duty. We also took into consideration the fact that the noble Lord, the Member for London, had in 1841 proposed a discriminating duty of 6s. on certain refined sugars. I hope the Government will give the West-India body credit for having gone to them on several occasions, and having told them that they considered their measure in the present state of the West-India Colonies would amount to nothing short of ruin; inasmuch as they had postponed the measure for promoting the immigration of the Hill Coolie Labourers. The Government had, however, refused to listen to their application, or to anything they could say on the subject. For that reason they had framed the Measure which they now support, and which they calculated would have the effect of giving a larger protection to the West-Indian interest than that proposed by the Government. I heard, I confess, with much regret the declaration of the right hon. Baronet—namely, that he intended to persevere in his Bill, notwithstanding the late decision of the House. Sir, I thought that Her Majesty's Government would be fully justified in paying a due deference to the majority of this House, and that they would at all events have postponed their proposition to another Session. I hoped that the right hon. Baronet would not have placed a large body of his supporters on this side of the House in the painful position of either continuing their opposition to the Government, or of with- 1019 drawing themselves from the House. I have undertaken the responsibility of advocating the cause of the West-India body, and I do not intend to shrink from it now. I can only say in addition, that I shall certainly take the sense of the House on the Amendment which I have proposed. A question has been put to me by the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) about the discriminating duty. I can answer for the West-India body, that they have no objection whatever to a discriminating duty on colonial sugar, but I believe that this proposition would not be satisfactory to the. East-India interest. I do not, however, like to desert hon. Gentlemen who are in the same position as ourselves upon this subject. I have no objection to a discriminating duty of 4s. I now, Sir, move that the words which have been placed in your hands be inserted.
§ For the hon. Member's Amendment see previous speech.
§ Question put,
§ Sir R. Peel
I now propose that the words "the cwt. 1l. (in respect of sugar the growth of any British possessions in America, and imported from thence) be left out in order that the words "the cwt. 1l. 4s." be inserted.
§ Mr. Greene (the Chairman)
apprehended that the course would be this. The words proposed to be inserted were an Amendment upon an Amendment, which might be yet further amended before the Committee finally decided. He would therefore read the words, and the Committee would proceed to amend them as he went on, and having fixed upon the words it might be proposed to substitute, the question it would be his duty to put would be, that the words proposed to be left but stand part of the question.
§ Viscount Howick
wished to know whether it would be competent, when the words fixing the amount of duty should be filled up, for any hon. Gentleman to move any alteration in the date from which the Bill proposing the new duties should take effect, inasmuch as a serious question would arise as to the retention of the words the 10th of November.
§ Mr. Greene
apprehended the course would be to amend the Amendment as they went on. After any words should be passed by the Committee it would not then be competent to alter them.
said, there were two important considerations to which he wished to direct the attention of the Committee. 1020 He doubted whether in a Committee on a fiscal measure, that Committee having once determined that a certain proposed duty of 24s. should not be imposed, they were at liberty again to consider any proposition for the imposition of that amount of duty. He knew of no precedent for such a course. He could not recall any case to his mind in which such a course had been adopted, and he confessed he had wanted the energy and industry to search for precedents. This was a fiscal Committee, which went to impose annually certain duties upon the public at large. The present Committee was a continuance of the Committee of Ways and Means, by which the imposition of certain duties was authorized. On the previous sitting of the Committee the proposition for a duty of 24s. per cwt. on colonial sugar had been proposed and rejected. The Committee rejected this proposition, and now, when a Motion was brought forward to reduce the annual charge on the public by the substitution of a lower duty, it was proposed to be held competent for them again to entertain the proposition for the higher duty which they had already negatived. That was one consideration which he wished to submit. The second, though also material, was merely a question in point of form. He apprehended that the proposal for the 20s. duty should have been put first, as being the lower duty. He meant no disrespect to the Chair, but he thought, that according to the usual practice, the higher duty could not be put, until the question as to the imposition of the lower duty had been decided. These, he apprehended, were two points which must be decided before the Committee went into any further argument.
§ Mr. Greene
agreed in some measure with what had fallen from the hon. Member. His own opinion was, that within the terms upon which the Committee of Ways and Means was appointed, all that was done was to resolve upon imposing certain duties upon certain articles, towards providing the means for the public expenditure; but when the amount of that duty came to be considered, it was always competent for the Committee to vary any sums that might be proposed, within certain limits. He should now put the question, that the words "one pound" stand part of the question."
§ Sir R. Peel
was at issue with the hon. 1021 Gentleman as to the point of form. In the Committee of Ways and Means the House bad affirmed a resolution within which his proposition came; but, supposing the hon. Member to be right, the Committee was no more limited by the 24s. duty on colonial sugar than the 63s. on foreign sugar, and it would be as competent still to negative or affirm the one as the other.
§ Mr. Roebuck
considered that that made all the difference. It was the whole that was rejected as a whole, but he apprehended they were at liberty afterwards to accept any part of that whole.
§ Sir G. Grey
said, at all events, the proposition of the right hon. Baronet was partially to restore that which the Committee had decided against. He wished to know whether, if the vote should be carried as he now proposed on colonial sugar, the adoption of the same rate of duty on foreign sugar that was negatived on the former night, would be altered in that respect?
§ Sir R. Peel
replied that, should the House affirm the 24s. duty on colonial sugar, it was certainly his intention to move that the same amount of duty on foreign sugar should be inserted as had been originally proposed by the Government.
§ Question put, that the word "one pound stand part of the question.
§ Mr. B. Cochrane
rose to state the grounds upon which he felt that on that occasion he could not support the Government. As he understood the matter, it was now intended by the Government indirectly to put the question again upon which they had been defeated upon a former evening, and, in point of fact, to repeat the course which had been taken on the Factory Bill. Now, he could not help thinking that there was something more of respect due to the declared opinions and decisions of that House, and that it was too much to call upon its Members to reverse their own decisions, and to affirm that one night which they had rejected on another. In his view, the question had ceased to be one of Sugar Duties —it was now a question of the independence of the House of Commons—a question involving its character and dignity as a legislative assembly—a question 1022 involving also the personal honour of every one of its Members. Under those circumstances painful as it was to his personal feeling, he felt that he could not, as an independent Member of that House, go with the Government in rescinding the resolution of the former evening. He had thought it right thus briefly to explain his views of the case, and the reasons why he could not support the Government on this occasion by voting with them.
§ Mr. Kemble
had been touched by the kindness and consideration evinced by the noble Lord the Member for London, for the consistency of the supporters of Her Majesty's Ministers; but he felt that there were occasions in which they could not go to the full length of the noble Lord's idea of consistency, and as on this occasion it was his intention to support the right hon. Baronet, he was anxious to say a few words in justification of his vote. He trusted he was as independent and as incapable of following the dictates of the Government, in opposition to his own convictions as any man in the House. On two or three very important questions, on one of which—the Factory Bill—the right hon. Baronet had declared he would resign if he did not succeed, he had felt it his duty to vote against those Ministers whose general policy he supported, and whom he was at all times, consistently with his duty as an independent Member, anxious to support. He was not, on this occasion, about to alter his vote and take a course different from that which he had taken on a previous evening, as he understood some hon. Members were. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke had evinced his consistency and his independence of Ministers by turning round now upon the vote he gave for the good of the country on the previous evening ["No, no,"] and votes the direct contrary way ["No, no."] If he had misunderstood the hon. Member he begged his pardon. He had no hesitation in saying that he objected both to the proposition of the Government and that of the hon. Member for Bristol, and that was the reason he had absented himself from the division on Friday night. But the question now was, whether the duty on colonial sugar should be reduced to 20s.; and against that proposition he had no hesitation in voting. His objection to the Government proposal was, that it was unjust to the West-India interest. A reduction of 4s. a cwt. on the duty on 1023 Colonial sugar was not the means to give substantial relief to the West-Indian interest, or be of material benefit to the consumer. He thought the financial question involved in the proposed reduction of duties was by no means unimportant. He was not aware of the right hon. Baronet's intentions as to the Property Tax; but by the Act of Parliament under which this tax was imposed, it would expire unless renewed in three years from its commencement; then, if not before, the financial condition of the country must be looked boldly in the face, and then he thought would be the fitting time to decide whether the property tax should be continued, and other duties reduced or removed, or whether it would be more desirable to abolish the Property Tax, and continue the other duties. If, however, they reduced the sugar duty by 4s. a cwt., and made reductions, perhaps, in other duties, he feared they would not be in a condition fairly to consider the whole financial question previous to the expiration of the present Property Tax, as intended. For these reasons, though objecting to the Government plan he had felt he could not vote for the proposed reduction of 4s. Looking at the great difficulties which the West India interest had so long and still experienced, in obtaining labour to cultivate their estates, and seeing that no measure had, been yet introduced to facilitate the introduction of labourers into those colonies, he (Mr. Kemble) thought this, of all periods, was the most improper to interfere with them.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, the character given of the amendment, as compared to the Government proposition was, that it was calculated to give the greater amount of protection to the West-India interest, and that was the ground upon which he had on the former evening opposed it; and though on the present occasion, it would be more agreeable to his feelings to vote with those hon. Gentlemen with whom be generally acted, he could not, in consistency, take any other course than that of confirming his former vote. If the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Miles) was prepared to alter his Amendment, making the duty 20s. on Colonial, and 30s. on foreign sugars, without any further qualification, he (Mr. Warburton) would vote with him; but if not, he should oppose him upon the grounds he himself had put, that his measure would 1024 give more protection to the West-India interest than the Government measure.
§ Sir Howard Douglas
was desirous of saying a few words in explanation of the Vote he was about to give. After having maturely considered the Measure proposed, by Her Majesty's Government, believing that it would be greatly injurious to the British West-India, and Colonial interests, he had voted against that Measure. But he did not approve, and therefore could not support, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bristol; because he (Sir Howard) did not think it provided adequate protection or security, as a remedial Measure, for the prejudicial effects which that proposed by Her Majesty's Government was likely to produce; and because by voting for that Amendment, he would be committed to some propositions and admissions to which he was opposed. For these reasons he (Sir Howard) had come to the resolution to vote against both propositions, previous to the discussion of either; and he might appeal to friends around him, and to the hon. Member for Bristol himself, whether he (Sir Howard) had not made this intention known. By negativing both propositions, he (Sir Howard) would keep himself in a position free to go into the discussion of that large question, for the settlement of the Sugar Duties, in a more permanent and beneficial manner to all parties, to which the attention of the House must be called in the next Session of Parliament.
§ Mr. Labouchere
wished to remind the Committee that they were discussing now not only the important question of the Sugar Duties, but the still more important question as to how far the course the House should adopt might affect its own character with the public. He was not one of those who thought a government would not, under some circumstances, be justified in asking the House to reconsider a previous vote, and to retract a Resolution which it had hastily and unadvisedly adopted. He remembered very well that he had himself supported Lord Althorp when he proposed to the House to reconsider the decision it had come to in regard to the Malt Tax; and he had, in like manner, on a very recent occasion, supported the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) when he asked the House to reconsider and rescind its vote on the Factory Bill. He approved of the course which the House had adopted on both those occasions; but those were great and important 1025 questions, and his fear as to the consequence of the House taking a similar course now was founded upon the grounds on which the right hon. Baronet had himself placed the vote. The right hon. Baronet had told them that, after all, the difference between the two propositions was not important—that the question was not of first-rate magnitude—and he found in this unimportance of the question additional reasons for asking the House to adhere to its former vote; because, it not being a Motion of importance in itself, it became a Motion of confidence. The language of the right hon. Baronet was such as no Minister had a right to address to the House of Commons. Mr. Pitt had never used such even in the plenitude of his power, and he hoped that those hon. Gentlemen who cared for the character of that House, and the confidence of the public in its proceedings as the mainstay of the Constitution—he hoped they would be careful how, by their votes that night, they impaired that confidence, and lowered the character of the House in the country. With regard to the question of the Sugar Duties, he had stated so fully his views on a former occasion that he had no desire to detain the House by repeating them now. He preferred, of the two propositions before the Committee, that of the hon. Member for Bristol, as being more advantageous to the consumer than that of the Government, and as establishing the valuable principle—that if they could, consistently with the interests of revenue, they should, simultaneously with any reduction in the duty on foreign sugar, reduce the duty on Colonial sugar. At the same time he must again say, that he did not consider the plan of the hon. Member for Bristol perfect, nor did he pledge himself to the whole of it if the House should entertain it. If they admitted the principle of a scale of duties as to the different qualities in regard to foreign sugar, he did not see why this should not have a scale also as to different qualities of Colonial sugar; and if the Amendment of ' the hon. Gentleman should succeed, and no other hon. Gentleman did, he should move that a duty of 24s. a cwt. be levied on the fine and highly manufactured sugar coming from our own Colonies, as distinguished from brown or Muscovado sugar, in the same way as the hon. Member proposed to apply the duty of 34s. on the white clayed sugar coming from foreign countries. This distinctive scale was no new question with many hon. Gentlemen. 1026 Mr. Deacon Hume was strongly of opinion that such a difference should be made. With regard to the Government proposition, he could not understand how any man professing the principles of free-trade could vote for it. He saw his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport smiled. His hon. Friend claimed to be a practical man, and he gave his hon. Friend credit generally for being so; but he had thought it most unfortunate for his hon. Friend's character as a free-trader, and a practical man, when he heard him declare on Friday last his intention of voting for the Government plan —not on its own merits, but on the merits of another and entirely different proposition. If his hon. Friend voted for the reduction to 20s., that would not deprive him of the opportunity of afterwards voting for the abolition of that which was his objection to the proposal of the hon. Member for Bristol. He wished to offer one word upon the charge of conspiracy which had been brought by the right hon. Baronet, and in which he had been mixed up. Now his connection with that conspiracy was simply this: he was at a great distance from London when the hon. Member for Bristol gave notice of his Amendment, and the first intimation he received of it reached him in Somersetshire. He immediately wrote to his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) to say, that as he understood the Amendment to propose a duty of 20s. on Colonial sugar and 30s. on foreign, he thought they ought to support it. That was all the share he had had in this conspiracy, as it was called; and when he arrived in town, his noble Friend's note reached him, explaining the Amendment as it really was. He had stated his view upon this point when the Sugar Duties were mentioned on a previous evening, and he supposed that had given rise to the charge of conspiracy. He believed the proposal of the hon. Member for Bristol, especially if qualified as he suggested, would in effect, be most beneficial to the British Colonies, and benefit them too in the most legitimate and fair way, because it would at the same time be most beneficial to the British consumer by lowering the price of sugar in this country, and by bringing the article more extensively into consumption. He did not envy the West-India interest any advantage they could fairly enjoy, provided it was not opposed to the interests of the great body of the people. He had paid close attention to the speech of the right hon. Baronet; but was not convinced that it would not have been 1027 a more wise and expedient course, had the right hon. Baronet anticipated the discussion which must take place next year, and having made up his mind to continue the Income Tax for three years longer—as he believed the right hon. Gentleman had, had called upon the House to consider, together with the Sugar Duties, the whole question of financial policy. He, for one, should deeply regret the reversal of the decision the House had come to on Friday night, because that would lower the respect and confidence of the people of England in the House of Commons; and though he was aware that the Government was supported by a large majority in that House, he hoped there soon would come a time when no majority of the House of Commons would support a Government on such terms, and in such a manner as the right hon. Baronet had declared he considered essential to his continuance in office.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and another hon. Gentleman who had spoken, had imputed to him the use of a word which he had not uttered—the word conspiracy. That word he had not used. The words he did make use of were these—that the Government had been defeated not by a casual concurrence of opinion taking place in the course of the debate, but in consequence of a combination between Gentlemen of opposite opinions that had been entered into with previous consent. The word conspiracy, he repeated, he had never used.
§ Mr. Disraeli
Sir, I was not present during the eventful debate of the other evening, and, therefore, not having heard of the movement that has been made, nor of "the conspiracy" that has been entered into, I own I am not without astonishment at what has transpired. I was not a little lost in wonder when I heard it said on Saturday and to-day, on the authority, as it would seem, of persons who had grounds for disseminating the Report, that we were to come down to this House this afternoon to witness the resignation of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. I congratulate the Ministry —of course, I congratulate the country— that instead of resigning an Administration the right hon. Gentleman has only moved an Amendment. Sir, there has been an allusion to a case which is said to be analogous to the present—the case, I mean, of Lord Althorp, who, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, asked the House 1028 to reconsider a vote it had come to upon, the subject of the malt tax. I was not in the House at the time; but I have read and beard of the proceeding, and I know that it was held by men of both sides to be a remarkable case—a case, the occurrence of which was attributed to the inexperience of a reconstructed assembly and of Gentlemen not very learned in the ways of Parliament. The vote on that occasion was generally felt, I believe, to be inevitable; but, at the same time, it was felt to be a vote that was distressing, if not damaging, to the character of all parties in the House; and it was a vote, I believe, which the Members of both the Government and the Opposition felt to be only justified by the extremest exigency. Several years have elapsed since that case occurred: it was left for the era of the present "Conservative" Administration—it was left for our own experience—to witness a state of public affairs too analogous. Twice within the present Session have the Ministry been driven to resort to the precedent of this "case of extreme emergency." About a month ago this House was called upon to rescind a Resolution on a subject of the deepest interest to the great body of the nation; and, for the first time since the malt tax vote, this House submitted to that process, which was previously regarded with so much distrust, and only submitted to from such overbearing necessity. I cannot help thinking, Sir, that some mysterious influence must be at work to place us, within a month, in precisely the same position, and to put us before the country under circumstances which, I believe, no one in this House, whether he be on this side or the Opposition side, can describe as other than degrading. It may he that the right hon. Gentleman will retain power by subjecting us to this stern process; but I should mistake the right hon. Gentleman's character if I were to suppose that he could greatly value a power which is only to be retained by means so extraordinary—I doubt whether I may not say, by means so unconstitutional. I think the right hon. Gentleman should deign to consult a little more the feelings of his supporters. I do not think he ought to drag them unreasonably through the mire. He has already once this Session made them repeal a solemn decision at which they had arrived, and now he comes down again and says, unless you rescind another important Resolution, I will no longer take upon myself the responsibility of conducting affairs. Now, I 1029 really think to rescind one vote during the Session is enough. I don't think in reason we ought to be called on to endure this degradation more than once a year. That should be prevented. The right hon. Baronet should introduce some Parliamentary tariff for the regulation of our disapproval. The Government ought to tell us to what point we might go—thus far and no farther: there are the bounds within which you are to enjoy your Parliamentary independence; but the moment you pass them you must submit to public disgrace, or we must submit to private life. Now, this is not the most agreeable way of conducting the affairs of the country; it is not the most constitutional. I remember in 1841, when the right hon. Baronet supported the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, he used these words, he said, "I have never joined in the anti-slavery cry; and now I will not join in the cry of cheap sugar." Two years have elapsed, and the right hon. Gentleman has joined in the anti-slavery cry, and has adopted the cry of cheap sugar. But it seems that the right hon. Baronet's horror of slavery extends to every place except the Benches behind him. There the gang is still assembled, and there the thong of the whip still sounds. Whatever may be the anti-slavery repugnance of the right hon. Gentleman, his distaste would seem not to extend to this House. If the whip were less sparing here, his conduct would be more consistent with his professions. After the vote of the other night became known and its consequences were in some degree contemplated, there were various rumours in circulation that the Ministers had resigned, and those reports I certainly cannot but consider proceeded from some who were authorized to circulate them; but it now appears from the right hon. Gentleman's declaration that it is not he or his Colleagues who are to resign their offices, but we, the majority of the House of Commons, who are to resign our votes, and the country at large is to see the Representatives of the people again disgraced as they were on a former occasion during the present Session. That is the point to which I think it important to direct attention. We are called upon to rescind our votes a second time, and more than that, we are called upon to do so under circumstances so peculiar, that no man whatever can entertain a doubt as to the personal distress, and even disgrace, which will be entailed upon him by his participation in such a proceed- 1030 ing. It will be far better for the House, ay, Sir, and far better for the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that such a system as this should no longer prevail. I say that the right hon. Gentleman is deserving of a far better position in the eye of the country than one which he can only maintain by menacing his friends, and by using the arts of persuasion with his opponents. The right hon. Gentleman menaces us, and deals out threats to keep us to our allegiance to him; whilst he lavishes those arts of persuasion, for which he has acquired so just a celebrity, upon those who form what he has chosen to term a combination, if not a conspiracy, against him. The right hon. Gentleman came into power upon the strength of our votes, but he would rely for the permanence of his Ministry upon his political opponents. He may be right—he may even be to a certain degree successful in pursuing the line of conduct which he has adopted, menacing his friends and cringing to his opponents, but I for one am disposed to look upon it as a success neither tending to the honour of the House nor to his own credit. I, therefore, for one, must be excused if I declare my determination to give my vote upon this occasion as I did in the former instance; and as I do not follow the example of the hon. and gallant Member near me (Sir H. Douglas) it will not subject me to the imputation of having voted on the former occasion without thought or purpose. It only remains for me to declare, after the mysterious hint which fell from the right hon. Baronet in the course of his speech, that if I, in common with other hon. Members, am called upon to appear again upon the hustings, I shall at least not be ashamed to do so, nor shall I feel that I have weakened my claims upon the confidence of my constituents by not changing my vote within forty-eight hours at the menace of a Minister.
§ Sir H. Douglas
in explanation, begged to say, that he had changed no purpose on the present occasion, nor had he swerved from the vote which he had from the first intended to give on the hon. Member for Bristol's Amendment. He had voted against the proposition of the Government on Friday night, because he did not approve of it, and he had openly stated his intention, to vote against the proposition now before the Committee, if it should be brought forward. That course had been pursued by the hon. Member for Bristol, 1031 and he should feel himself called upon to act as he had prescribed, and to vote against the Amendment.
§ Viscount Sandon
confirmed the statement of his hon. and gallant Colleague with respect to the determination which he had formed as to his vote on the Amendment before the Committee. For himself, he had frankly declared that he was in favour of the proposition, and should therefore vote for it; but it was not fair to taunt his hon. and gallant Friend with inconsistency in opposing the duty of 20s., when it was clear that his motives in so doing were perfectly conscientious. With regard to his own vote, he should give it in favour of the hon. Member for Bristol, not because that proposition was altogether devoid of objection, but because it was a manifest improvement upon the present state of the Sugar Duties; and he regretted very much that the Government could not consistently with its views of policy adopt that modified duty. He believed that the reduction of the duty on colonial sugar from 24s. to 20s. would be of very considerable advantage to the community, more particularly when it came in combination with the other changes in the price of necessaries. With respect to the objection urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the score of the loss which would be occasioned thereby to the revenue, which he estimated at 400,000l., he did not consider that that was worthy of one moment's thought. He must, however, express his conviction that it would not be a fair proceeding to put the fine clayed sugars upon the same footing in respect of duty with the coarse brown Muscovados, for there was a vast difference in the cost of preparing them, and likewise very considerable difference in the prices at which they were sold to the consumers. As to the general aspect of the Ministry, he must take that opportunity for expressing the deep and sincere attachment which he felt towards the Government of his right hon. Friend, than whom there was no man more able or better fitted to hold the reins of power. He regretted, therefore, the present dilemma the more deeply, not so much on account of the particular questions before the House, but because of the doctrines which his right hon. Friend had laid down for the guidance of his supporters. The right hon. Baronet had laid it down as an es- 1032 sential and prominent feature in his present and future scheme of Government, that there was no occasion on which, when he found himself in a minority in that House, he should not consider that circumstance as indicative of a want of confidence, and as equivalent to a vote of that nature. The right hon. Baronet had declared his determination to view all such occurrences in a similar light, and to estimate them all at the same rate of importance, whether the question at issue was great or small, whether it related to a Bishopric more or less in Wales, or whether sugar was to be admitted at 4s. less duty than he thought should be imposed upon it. [Sir R. Peel: "No, no."] He begged his right hon. Friend's pardon, but so he had understood the general tenor of that part of his right hon. Friend's speech; and it was with extreme regret he had heard him declare that whoever did not vote with him upon all occasions he could consider in no other light than as having thereby tacitly given a vote indicating a want of confidence in him. Such a system of Government had never yet been tried in this country; and if he had not determined upon taking the course with respect to the Motion before the Committee which he intended to do, he should not have felt satisfied; for neither the present Cabinet, nor any other Government could be permanently carried on upon such principles. Notwithstanding, therefore, he was an habitual and a firm supporter of the right hon. Gentleman's Administration, he was resolved that nothing should hinder him from voting as an independent Member of that House and supporting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bristol. At the same time, he begged the Government not to exaggerate the difficulties of the situation in which they found themselves placed, nor to despond in consequence of a momentary and passing reverse. By giving full and fair scope to the productions of the East and West India Colonies, by encouraging the enterprise of the West India proprietors, and by giving them reason to believe in the stability of their position, Ministers would give that stimulus to the investment of capital, and to the improvements introduced by the modern inventions in the art of making sugar, without which there could be no competition with the other sugar-producing Colonies, maintained by the British 1033 cultivators of that great staple, and in the observance of which the country would be reduced to the frightful alternative of being obliged, after all her exertions, to have recourse to slave-produced sugar.
rose to say a very few words on the question before the Committee. He certainly should not follow the example of the hon. Gentleman upon the other Bide, who had spoken with much more unkindness of Government than he would be inclined to do. As to the noble Lord who had spoken last, he seemed to treat the Ministry as was described by the lines of Pope:—Above a patron, though I condescendSometimes to call a Minister my friend.The right hon. Baronet was mistaken if he thought that the result of Friday night's discussion was produced by a conspiracy or a combination, or that the vote then given was the consequence of any preconcerted or premeditated coalition between those hon. Members who usually supported the Government and hon. Gentlemen on his (Mr. Sheil's) side of the House. The question both on Friday night and on the present occasion was which of the two propositions before the Committee would most certainly have the effect of making sugar cheap. He had looked back into the record of a debate on the question of the Sugar Duties, which took place on the 25th of May, 1829, when Mr. Huskisson no longer formed part of the Cabinet. Mr. Grant brought forward a proposition relative to the Sugar Duties, which he stated had been agreed to by the Cabinet before Mr. Huskisson withdrew from it. That proposition was to reduce the duty on British plantation sugar to 20s. per cwt., and on foreign sugars to 28s. per cwt. What were the arguments urged by Mr. Huskisson during that debate in support of his views? They were far more favourable to the view taken of the question by the hon. Member for Bristol than that adopted by the Government.The question (said Mr. Huskisson) did not bear upon one trade or interest alone; it was, and should only be considered as, a general question. It was as a question of general interest that he had treated it two years ago, when it was proposed to reduce the duties on East-India sugar, and when he promised to take an early opportunity of bringing the whole question before the House. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1034 fully agreed with him as to the principle that all the interests involved in the question should be brought under consideration together with a view to their being newly adjusted; but added, that there was one thing which urged the postponement of such a consideration—namely the interests of the revenue- His right hon. Friend seemed to apprehend that the proposed reduction would lessen the revenue annually by 500,000l.Almost the same amount that was stated by the present right hon. Gentleman who held the same office as likely to be abstracted from the revenue by adoption of the Motion before the Committee:—Arguing (continued Mr. Huskisson) that because the revenue derived from the Sugar Duties amounted now to 5,000,000l. it should always be 5,000,000l. Now, he contended, that the increased consumption consequent upon that reduction, and the increased life which would be given to the commercial and shipping interests, by the opening of new channels of trade, would benefit the public at large far more than it could possibly injure the revenue.Mr. Huskisson then proceeded to touch upon the point of cheapness, and of the importance of rendering such a vital commodity as attainable as possible to the poor.With respect to the benefit which a reduced price would confer upon the working classes, a simple statement would place the subject before the Committee in a striking light. In consequence of the present enormous duty on sugar, the working man with a large family, to whom pence were serious considerations, was denied the use of that commodity. He believed that two-thirds of the poorer consumers of coffee drank that beverage without sugar. If, then, the price of sugar were reduced, it would become an article of his consumption, with many other articles which he now used from their cheap price, and which he was formerly unable to purchase. This was the principle that regulated the amount of consumption. When spirits had become cheaper than beer the former were consumed? so of cotton and other commodities, now from their low prices in general worn as the clothing of the working classes.Now, if the Committee were to try the proposition before it by the standard laid down in 1829 by Mr. Huskisson, there was conclusive evidence of what that sagacious Statesman thought of the matter; and indeed there could be little or no question but that the increased consumption of sugar which would immediately ensue on any material reduction in its 1035 price would more than counterbalance the loss which the sacrifice of a portion of the duty would occasion to the revenue.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
could not admit that the arguments used by Mr. Huskisson in 1829 were at all applicable to the present state of the Sugar Duty question. The period referred to by the right hon. Member was one when it was proposed to reduce the duty on British Colonial sugar to 20s., and on Foreign sugar to 28s., without distinction as to its being the produce of free or slave labour, a matter at present of vital importance; and it was obvious that if the demand for sugar became suddenly increased by lowering its price and rendering it attainable to a large body of consumers, it would be necessary to provide for the supply of that increased demand by admitting all foreign sugars without further delay. This, however, could not be done consistently with the view taken by the House with respect to maintaining a permanent distinction between free-labour and slave-produced sugar—and as it had been determined upon that certificates of free-labour sugar should invariably accompany cargoes of sugar admitted from Foreign Colonies into English ports, the right hon. Gentleman must, of necessity, be aware that those ports whence the free-labour sugar was shipped were at a great distance, that time must be allowed to get a supply of sugar ready to meet the increased demand; for it could not be expected that they would be able to throw all the sugar required for consumption here into the market immediately or at once. If by immediately reducing the duty a supply of sugar ad libitum upon demand would follow, there might be no such inconvenience as he apprehended to be guarded against; but such a result could not be calculated on with safety or prudence, and that was the answer which he had to make to the observation of the right hon. Member for Taunton. That right hon. Gentleman had stated, that Ministers ought to have announced their intention to prolong the duration of the Income Tax for three years, and to have accompanied that declaration by a large reduction in the Sugar Duties. What would have been the consequence of such a proceeding? If the demand for the commodity had been suddenly increased, the quantity required would have been far beyond that which it was in the power of the holders to furnish; and if this reduction of duty were accompanied, as it would 1036 necessarily be, by a differential duty between free-labour and slave sugar then, there was at once created a monopoly in favour of free-labour and British Colonial sugar, which, owing to the paucity of the supply of the former, would necessarily increase the price of the article, and render it less accessible to the poorer classes. Under these circumstances it was necessary that the Government should give notice to those countries, where free-labour sugar was produced of the premeditated reduction in the duty, in order that they might be prepared with their produce and their certificates of origin, and thus send it to this country in time to meet the demand that would be then created; and this was one reason why the Government was not prepared to reduce the duty on sugar during the present year, as required by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton. The Ministry had been told, on both sides of the House, that it was improper to call upon the Committee to rescind its vote of a former evening, and that by so doing the House was degrading itself in the eyes of the country. To such an argument, he paid but little attention. If such were to be the result, of what use, might he ask, were the various forms intended to cause delay and allow time for consideration and revision which were imposed upon all measures carried through Parliament? Those forms rendered it necessary for every measure to be brought repeatedly under the consideration of the House, for the express purpose of affording opportunities for amending, altering, rescinding, and frequently of changing altogether its clauses and provisions, and with the express view of enabling the House to correct in a succeeding stage any error into which it might have previously fallen. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury afforded an instance, which was not unusual, of the inconvenience of Members voting on questions without having heard the arguments which had been urged on either side with respect to them. He did not think it unreasonable to suppose that if the hon. Member had heard the debate on Friday, he might have come to a conclusion very different from that which the hon. Member had stated it to be his intention to act upon? He had, however, said nothing to change his opinion that there was nothing in the constitution or practice of Parliament which prohibited the House from forming a second decision upon any subject submitted 1037 to its consideration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton admitted that on a former occasion this had been done in a signal manner—that upon the subject of the malt tax the House had been called upon by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider the question — not during the progress of a Bill, but immediately after having affirmed a distinct and substantive resolution. But the right hon. Gentleman considered that to be a justifiable departure from the rules of the House. Who was it that undertook to decide what was, and what was not, a justifiable departure? What was to be the question upon which a Parliament was to pass its verdict only once—which it never was to reopen, never to reconsider? From the commencement of this discussion the Government had held that it was important to take no step with respect to the Sugar Duties which could tend to give encouragement to the slave trade or which could prevent the amelioration of slavery, and if, with regard to matters of such consequence, they thought the House had come to an erroneous decision, surely it was only their duty to call for another vote, and if they thought the decision such as affected the confidence which a Government ought to possess in that House, to call upon the House to express an opinion so decided as to leave no doubt of the course the Government should pursue. It was the more necessary that such a step should be taken upon the present occasion, because hints were thrown out that confidence in the present Government was withdrawn; indeed, the hon. Member for Shrewsbury had indulged in remarks which might lead people out of doors to believe that that Government obtained very little of the confidence of many, who professed to give it a general support. He must say to that Gentleman that he (Mr. Goulburn) seldom heard a speech addressed to those who administered the affairs of this country, to those who, in point of rank and station, were his (Mr. Disraeli's) equals—at least in the consideration or the country—which contained expressions so derogatory to their character, and were so calculated if not intended to hurt the feelings of those to whom those expressions were addressed. He (Mr. Goulburn) thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shrewsbury was the last man to express opinions of that kind, or to denounce the practice of the Government as unlike the practice of any 1038 antecedent period; making it a uniform rule to be hostile to their Friends, and cringing (that was the word) to their enemies. Speaking thus of the Government— he was the last person that should entertain any doubt as to the amount' of confidence reposed in them by at least some of their supporters. The question before the House was, whether it was expedient to reduce the Sugar Duties by the small amount of 4s. in 24s. To suppose that that reduction would give immediate relief to the consumer was quite at variance with the mode in which the reduction was to be made. The reduction was not to be made until the month of November, and arguing from every precedent in which the reduction of a duty was postponed to a future period, the effect would be diminution in the consumption which would injure the revenue without affording relief to the consumer. And even when November had arrived, and the proposed reduction had taken effect, consumers could derive no benefit from the arrangement, for in consequence of the necessary delay which must occur before the supplies of free sugar from Java and Manilla could be introduced into the market, consumers would find a material impediment to their enjoyment of any advantage, owing to the monopoly of the market which the British producer would enjoy from November at least till February. During that interval those who were in the market would transfer to themselves the difference of duty, which would be lost to the revenue, and not gained by the consumer. It had been said, "What could be the inconvenience of making so small a reduction in the revenue as 500,000l. when you have so large a surplus? That argument applied to every possible reduction of duty within the limit of 500,000l. He considered the proposed reduction as one that would be productive of evil, and should therefore resist the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol. And whether it should be the pleasure of the House to confirm or reject the proposition of the Government, he should continue to be satisfied that the course he had taken on this question was the one best calculated to ensure the general interest of the country, as involved in the joint interest of the consumer and producer.
§ Mr. P. M. Stewart
said, that notwithstanding the consolation which the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool had given to the East-India interest, he must say that of all the sufferings to which the 1039 West Indian interest had ever been exposed, this was really one of the severest. Various grounds had been assigned for the Government proposition, which had created great sensation throughout the country, and had occasioned much derangement and stagnation in the Colonial markets, but not one of those grounds were sufficient. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had talked of a deficiency in the supply of sugar, but in September, 1843, there was a surplus supply of 43,000 tons which was somewhat more than had been estimated A noble Lord opposite, had, on a former occasion, entered into calculations to show that we had a certain supply of 260,000 tons annually of free-labour produce which was more than sufficient for our wants, and argued from that the impropriety of admitting slave-grown sugar, The right hon. the President of the Board of Trade seemed not aware the other night that the whole produce of Java was of forced labour He would now supply some authentic information respecting the labour of Java to show that it was unmitigated slavery from beginning to end. The hon. Member read a statement of which the following is a copy:—Land is held in Java on lease, either from the Dutch government or native princes, for twenty-five years; rent very low—two years previous produce, i. e., two years' wood or two years' rice. The lease conveys services of natives—living upon estate, and who receive one-half of former produce in payment of their labour, i. e., one-half of what the land produced viz., rice, wood, &c. The exportable produce of Java, is raised by forced labour by the Dutch government. In 1838 the governor enforced a system of 'prescribed cultivation,' and forced deliveries of produce, under which sugar increased twenty-five times in ten years. The order of the governor directs that inhabitants of villages be 'brought' to cultivate the lands. For every bouw (one and a half acres) a man must be appointed to labour, and to be relieved by three other men, so that one of the four shall always be at work. The harvest and manufacture are managed in the same way. Labourers are 'appointed' to relieve one another till the work is done. A sugar plantation of four hundred acres requires four hundred men daily, for which service 1,600 are 'appointed,' who relieve each other.1040
For cutting canes ('appointed') 320 Carriage, &c., (appointed') 280 Wood cutters (fuel) 40 Mill-workers, and boiling 200 840 Householders ('appointed') 2,520Who may free themselves by paying seven and a half guilders each. The county divided into communes of villages, under resident, sub-resident, regents, controllers, native officers, all allowed share of 'forced deliveries' and of the gross produce of their residency, regency, commune, &c. They are thus vigilant over work done, and they get rich very rapidly.This showed that the produce of Java was a forced produce, but still he did not mean to say that Java sugar should be excluded on that ground. The main point, however, at the present moment was, whether there would not be a deficiency in the supply of sugar, but he could apprehend no such result. The average price of sugar was now 34s. 1d., a price lower than any that occurred during the last six years and it appeared that the stock on hand was 43,000 tons. This, he thought, was sufficient proof that there were no grounds for apprehending a deficiency in the supply, and such was the uncertainty that existed with regard to the duties on West-India produce generally, that the quantity of sugar brought into consumption up to the present period was less by 7,000 tons than it had been this time last year. The market was, owing to the uncertainty that existed, in a perfectly stagnant state, and he strongly suspected, if he could see the mind of the right hon. Baronet, that the right hon. Baronet would have been glad if he had abstained from the introduction of this Bill during the present Session. By the introduction of the measure they had produced derangement in the markets at home, and distrust in the Colonies, and he thought this was not the way in which to treat a great interest, especially after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman, after telling the West-Indian interest that they were to lose their property, informed them, by way of consolation, that they were only in a state of "transition;" that they were to take this measure only that they might have a new Bill next year. Why, was that the way to arrive at a settlement—the only thing by which he believed the West-Indian 1041 interest could profit? Was it not rather adding insult to injury? Was it not making the colonial interest the stalking horse to the ulterior measures of the Administration? The right hon. Gentleman would let us see the effect of the Tariff before we arrived at a settlement. Why, they had not waited to see the effect of the Tariff with regard to coffee. It was only a day or two ago that they had altered the duty upon that article, and had inflicted greater injury upon certain parties than he (Mr. Stewart) cared now to speak of. Then they said, "Oh, but wait till the Bank question is settled; wait till half a hundred other matters are adjusted." Why, were these the sort of grounds upon which they were to nibble away the rights of the West-India proprietors — creating delays which were fatal, and avoiding a settlement which was just? Better far would it be to leave the whole question where it was until they came to a final decision. As for the question immediately before them, he felt little doubt but that, for the sake of every interest concerned, the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol was infinitely preferable to that of the Government. He had held that opinion on Friday, and he thought the Government had very little improved their position by their "explanation" of that evening. The hon. Member for Manchester had talked the other night about the free-traders falling into a trap, but he would have acted more wisely had he followed the example of the "Trappists," and held his tongue. Why the Government should be so tenacious of inducing the House to undo that which they did on Friday night, he was at a loss to conceive, unless it were for the sake of that additional revenue which their proposition would give them, and to which they were not entitled from such an article as sugar. Considering, then, the state of the finances of the country, he should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol; and he was quite sure that very many who were wide awake to the interests of the consumers and the prosperity of the Colonists— whose interests were, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Kendal, in a somewhat sarcastic manner, identified with each other,—would think that they ought not to be put in jeopardy by such an unusual course as was now adopted by Her Majesty's Ministers.
§ Mr. Entwisle
said, he wished to ex- 1042 plain the course he took the other night, and he took that course from a sense of duty, although it pained him to be compelled to vote against any measures of the present Ministers, whom he did not hesitate to avow he was sent there to support. The course he adopted he took in deference to principle, and to the principle of giving fair protection to the labour of all British subjects he should adhere to. That, in fact, was the principle on which the contest in which he had lately been engaged was fought, and he should not desert it now. Whether the Government measure as regarded the West Indies was fair, he would not undertake to pronounce; but, at the same time, Ministers themselves had admitted that the protection proposed to be given was hardly equivalent to the necessity of the times. He thought there existed a great necessity for the immigration of labour into the West Indies. Without additional labour it was impossible that the proprietors could cultivate their estates, so as to compete with the producers of foreign free-grown or slave-labour sugar, and, until an immigration of labour took place, he thought even a larger share of protection should be given to the West-India planters. Whether that was the intention or not, it appeared to be the question which they ought to consider, and in support of this he could refer to what had fallen from the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday night. The right hon. Gentleman said, that they might have proposed a better scale of protection for free-labour sugar, and one that would be more likely to be permanent, though no such assurance was given, but that they could have proposed none which would be more advantageous to the planters than the Government scale which was not likely to be lowered, and this was confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. These expressions led to an inference that the duties were not to be touched until after an immigration of labour had taken place to the Colonies, and it was because there was an insufficiency of labour, and that they were in a state of transition, that he supported protection and dissented from the Government measure. It was on this ground that he had voted for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bristol, and he thought that without reference to the question of permanency, 1043 they were, under existing circumstances, called on to give an increased degree of protection to the West Indies. The protection proposed by the Government was not sufficient, and would do injury to the Colonies; but, without knowing whether they would be successful in struggling through their difficulties, his reason for recording his rote as he had done was, because he thought the Colonies would be directly injured, and that if the produce of the Colonies were reduced, the demand for foreign free and slave-labour sugar would be increased. That was the consequence which he apprehended, and which had induced the vote which he had given. With respect to the effect which might be produced on the revenue, that was a subject on which he would not enter, but this he would say, that whatever might be the effect on the revenue, he thought that until the West Indies were provided with a proper supply of labour they were entitled to protection. He had now explained the reasons which had induced him to vote against the Government measure, and having recorded his vote on the ground that the protection proposed to be given was not adequate to the necessity, he could only say that he could not associate his vote with the votes of some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, because he did not consider that in their hands the West-Indian interests would be safe for a single hour. He did not believe that the interests of the West Indies would be safe in the hands of some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and therefore he should decline to register his vote.
§ Mr. Escott
said, it appeared to him that there was a great difficulty in this discussion, which was this—how did those hon. Gentlemen who supported the Motion of the Member for Bristol reconcile an increased supply of sugar by diminished duty to the people of this country with an increased protection of the West - India planters, which protection means an increase of duty? He had never heard one Gentleman attempt to reconcile that difficulty. He had heard the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Renfrewshire, argue in one part of his speech in favour of increased protection to the West-India interests, and in another part in favour of the increased supply of sugar to the people of England, and he wished the hon. Gentleman to explain how this measure would effect both these objects. If the hon. 1044 Gentleman had argued for protection to the West-India interest on the ground that he consented to limit the supply of sugar to the people of this country, then he could understand the argument, and he thought he could meet it; or if the hon. Gentleman argued for an increased supply here and threw over a part of the protection which the West-India interest had hitherto enjoyed, he could understand that too; but he wished the hon. Member for Bristol, or some of his supporters, would state on what intelligible principles and on what ground they voted for this Motion; they had not attempted it. He had on a former evening asked the hon. Member for Bristol how he proposed to assist the West-India interests by his Motion, but he had given him no answer. Nor had any hon. Gentleman on either side of the House ventured to argue that this Motion would help the West-India interests out of their present difficulties; difficulties be it remembered which had grown up under absolute prohibition. Nor indeed were they at all agreed on the relative amount of protection given by the two measures—it was merely for some imaginary advantage that the West Indians were to rally under the noble Lord. And then the whole House, if it repented of this folly, was to bear the brunt of the noble Lord's indignation. He had heard thrown out in three extraordinary speeches—he meant the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for London, the speech of the hon. Member for Bridport, and last, but better than the two others, the speech of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury — insinuations, which, if they meant anything, inculpated the character of the whole House. ["No, no."] He thought they did—he thought he heard it stated by the noble Lord, and by each of the hon. Members, that the House of Commons was accustomed to forget its pledges and principles to support the right hon. Baronet in office. He had no such opinion of the House of Commons—he thought they had not forgotten their principles, but that the principles of the party to which their majority belonged were better represented in that House by the right hon. Baronet than by the two hon. Gentlemen and the noble Lord. He thought, too, there were no pledges given to the people of England at the last election, to support such a trumpery measure as this fractional differential duty on sugar. The two hon. Gentlemen and the noble Lord might have given a pledge, but the majority of the House had not done so. And when 1045 the hon. Member for Bridport said that the cause which produced this evil state of things in the country, was Parliament voting one thing one night, and another thing another night, allow him to tell the hon. Gentleman what really produced such a state of things was, that there were some hon. Members upon that side of the House whom the right hon. Baronet had preceded in political science and State economy. That was the fact, and when the hon. Gentleman charged the right hon. Gentleman with saying that he would resign office, or dissolve Parliament, he would say that he, for one, was ready to meet any contingency, and that he believed the right hon. Baronet would strengthen his position, if he adopted either of those two courses, for he thought the country was with him. He believed that the Conservative people of England were not attached to those antiquated prejudices in favour of monopoly as some hon. Members would imply; but whilst they were not attached to those monopolies they were not inclined immediately to abolish all protection where protection had been given. They wished to go on gradually in the work of improvement, because they could do it more safely and more effectually by a cautious process. But upon the question immediately before the Committee, he must protest against the course pursued by the hon. Member for Bristol, and those who supported him is equally unjust to their party and inefficient for its purpose. It was just the sort of course which some hon. Members had been in the habit of taking on other questions which they called questions of protection. The hon. Member for Somerset cheered—well he had lately heard that hon. Member argue that the abolition of the Wool Duty was an attack on the farmers, and yet he had said in the very same speech that he thought the farmers would be rather benefited by the repeal of the duty, and he did not oppose its repeal; the farmers and the West Indians too, would see through these flimsy pretences, and before he sat down he would venture to challenge the Member for Somerset to prove how those who had been ruined under prohibition were to be reinstated in prosperity by the protecting duty of his hon. relative—against that Motion he should give his decided vote as inoperative for any good to the West Indies, and mischievous in its consequences to the country.
§ Mr. W. Miles
then row amidst loud cries 1046 for a division, and said that although he was unconnected with the West-India Colonies, yet his nearest and dearest relations were connected with them; but he meant to have given a silent vote had it not been for the allusions of the hon. Member for Winchester. He was surprised that the hon. Gentleman had so far forgotten in the course of two or three years his connexion with the county of Somerset, that he could gulp down all the sentiments he had contended for at two contested elections for the western division of that county. It was not for the hon. Member, he could assure him, to talk of principle. In Somersetshire they would not measure their corn by a Winchester bushel. He therefore was astonished, perfectly astonished to hear the hon. Member taunting other hon. Members with political inconsistency. How the hon. Member could look to hon. Gentlemen by whom he was surrounded and saw how though he must say it was exceedingly at variance with their general public opinion, they had been obliged upon several occasions—any, obliged—to dissent from that Conservative Government whom they supported when able to do so, and could then turn upon them and at once dispute the honesty of those principles, seemed to him to be the most extraordinary conduct of any political man that he had ever seen in that House. The hon. Member had quietly asked him how protection could benefit the West-India interest and likewise the consumer. [Mr. Escott: "No, no!"] If the hon. Member dissented, then the argument was at an end; but he would tell the hon. Member distinctly, let him look to the present duty paid on foreign sugar, 63s. What was the Government proposition? To reduce it 29s,; but did they reduce a farthing of the duty now paid by West-India sugar? Not one sou. That remained at 24s., while the duty on foreign sugar was reduced from 63s. to 34s. If his hon. Friend had only listened to what his hon. relative had stated, when he read the humble memorial of the West-India Legislature, he would then have found they said, and very justly so, that after the noble sacrifice of 20,000,000l. made by the people of England, they could never maintain that differential duty between 63s. and 24s. They always looked to the reduction of the foreign duty; but at the same time they looked for a reduction 1047 which would benefit the consumer, and also to a reduction of the duty on their own produce which would be to their benefit as well as to that of the consumer. But, without going at all into the arguments how that reduction was to be distributed, there was no doubt in his mind that both the West-India interests and the consumer would be benefited by the reduction of 4s. This, however, was a protection which he could scarcely understand any hon. Gentleman who upheld protection to agriculture could refuse to the West-Indian interests. Call them monopolists if they would, but the protection which was given by the Corn Laws was a protection because the agriculturists of this country could not compete with the foreign grower, since foreign labour was so much cheaper, and our rates were so much higher than in other countries; and the West-India planters were precisely in the same position, except that here there was sufficient labour and a limit on overplus, whilst in the West Indies there was a deficiency. He cared not if a man with 100,000l. went there, in the present slate of the Colonies, and was willing to expend the whole in cultivating an estate, he could not get that continuous labour which would afford him a sufficient return; on that account it was that the agriculturist of the West Indies required protection against foreign sugar. These were his reasons for supporting the Motion of his hon. relative, and he was only sorry that the question had been taken up in such a manner by the Government. They said that next year the whole subject would be discussed and put upon a different basis; and that it would not come into the annual votes, but as he understood, into the Tariff; and that having weighed the subject, they would then state their whole proposition, and the House would then dissent or assent to that measure; and on that ground they would not allow to the West or East Indies this poor boon, but were still determined, notwithstanding the contrary and adverse decision of the House, to force upon them their own proposition. He could assure the Government that he held the high Conservative principles they professed; but, at the same time, he reserved to himself the right of exercising his judgment freely and independently. Did the Government conceive that the character of the party would be raised, if those who 1048 maintained the same opinions, but who still differed from them on questions of detail, obsequiously followed every move they took? He sincerely hoped that those hon. Gentlemen who constituted the majority by which his hon. relative was supported on Friday night would not forget the duty they owed to themselves, to the country, and to their constituents, but that they would again record their votes in favour of the West-Indian agriculturists.
§ Mr. Escott
begged to ask his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Miles), who had charged him with avowing opinions in that House contrary to those he had formerly professed, in justice to him and in justice to his hon. Friend's own character, to state one single instance in which he had ever been guilty of such inconsistency.
§ Mr. W. Miles
said, as we understood, that he had gained his knowledge from the public prints; but he believed that his hon. Friend (Mr. Escott) had, in opposing Mr. Sandford, avowed himself the supporter of complete protection.
§ Viscount Howick
, I have heard with great satisfaction from the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Escott) that the people of England are not disposed to support the antiquated doctrines of monopoly. I felt great pleasure in hearing that hon. Gentleman take credit to himself and to the right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side for the great proficiency they have made in adopting the principles of political economy, and I trust that when it becomes our duty to discuss the question of the Corn Laws, we shall have, both by their speeches and their votes, undoubted evidence of their improved convictions. My object in rising is to state that it appears to me most extraordinary that the House should be called upon to take so decided a step as that of rescinding its former vote on this question on such grounds as have been urged tonight, because I think that those hon. Members who heard the arguments of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, against the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol, must feel with me that the objections to that proposition—even admitting them to be well founded, which I am far from admitting—are not of a character to warrant our taking such a step as we are now called upon to take by Her Majesty's Government. I conceive that the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol is most fair, just, and reasonable, No hon. Member of this House, 1049 perhaps, is a more decided opponent of the system of protection than I am. The hon. Member for Kendal rested his resistance to the proposal of the hon. Member for Bristol on the ground that the West India proprietors hailed it as likely to prove advantageous to them. I confess it does not appear to me that this is an adequate ground for refusing my support to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, because, though I object most decidedly to protection—though I hope the time will come when an equality of duties with regard to foreign and British sugars will be adopted, still I also think that under the present difficulties of our West India Colonies we ought, as far as we can, fairly and justly to do anything in our power to facilitate the cultivation of estates in those colonies. If I understand the proposal of the hon. Member for Bristol correctly, it is this:—The Government have proposed, that with respect to the ordinary descriptions of sugar, British Colonial sugar shall have a protection, as compared with foreign sugar produced by free labour, of 10s. per cwt. The hon. Member for Bristol adopts that proposal. He says—"I think it too little, but I accept the proposal; but I ask you, when you are admitting foreign sugar for the first time into competition with West India sugar, so to reduce the duties generally, and thereby so to extend the consumption, that there may be room as well for the foreign sugar you are about to admit, as for the West India sugar which is already in possession of the market." I understand the principle on which the reduction is proposed to be this, that though the nominal amount of protection will be the same—though there will still be a difference of 10s. in favour of British sugar— yet, by reducing the duty at which both West India and foreign sugar may be introduced, you will extend the consumption, and not only benefit the consumer but enable the West Indian to carry on a more extensive and advantageous trade. This appears to me a most just and fair proposition. But it is objected that the proposition of the hon. Member for Bristol involves a higher amount of protection than is proposed by the Government, because the hon. Member proposes that, between one description of foreign sugar and British colonial sugar, there shall be a difference in duty of 14s. I confess it appears to me that this difficulty would be met most completely by adopting the suggestion of the hon. Member for Taunton—that the superior descriptions of sugar, whether 1050 British or foreign, should pay a duty of 4s. beyond the amount of duty levied on inferior descriptions. I think if we adopt 30s. as the general rate of duty on ordinary descriptions of foreign sugar, the produce of free labour, and 20s. as the duty upon British colonial sugar, we shall meet the objection to which I have just alluded most completely by imposing a higher rate of duty to the amount of 4s. upon the better descriptions of clayed sugars come from where they may. I am confirmed in this opinion by the observations of the right hon. President of the Board of Trade the other evening. The House will remember that no inconsiderable portion of the speech of that right hon. Gentleman was taken up in showing the injustice of applying the same scale of duties to sugars of different qualities. Now it is well known that there are many different qualities of sugar, both foreign and colonial: and I call upon the right hon. Gentleman to apply his own principle, and to impose a higher rate of duty upon the better descriptions of British and foreign sugar. The right hon. Baronet opposite urged one objection against the proposal of the hon. Member for Bristol, which seemed to me to possess considerable force. The right hon. Baronet told us that, if the operation of the duties was delayed till the 10th of November, instead of any advantage being gained by the consumer or by the revenue, it would be given to those parties who have now stocks of sugar on hand. I admit the force of this objection; but I think it can be met with the greatest ease. What possible objection can there be to make the low rates of duty take effect immediately? Why not bring the measure into operation on the 5th of July, instead of the 10th of November? It is answered by the Government, "We choose to make a distinction between sugar, the produce of slave labour, and the produce of free labour." The right hon. Baronet opposite freely admits that the Government stands alone in the opinion that this course ought to be pursued; and both the West India proprietors and the free traders tell him that certificates of origin will be a mere delusion. But, for the sake of argument, I will admit that the principle of the Government ought to be adopted, that we ought to make a distinction in favour of the produce of free labour, yet I think the difficulty may be met. Why can you not treat Brazil as you treat America? During the remainder of the period for which our treaty with Brazil 1051 remains in force, why not extend to her sugar the benefit of the lower rate of duty? In such case, there is no possibility of your giving encouragement to the Slave Trade; because, on the 10th of November, our Treaty with Brazil expiring, the produce of that country will be subjected to the higher rate of duty as slave-grown sugar. You would then make the change more advantageous to the consumer, more advantageous I believe, to the West India proprietors, and also more productive to the revenue; for you would receive a large amount of revenue from the Brazilian sugar upon which the 30s. duty would be charged, and you would give such a spur to consumption by reducing the price that I believe the West India proprietors would not suffer in any degree from the change. Believing the measure of the hon. Member for Bristol to be just and reasonable, I am prepared to support his proposal, thereby imposing a duty, not of 24s., but of 20s., upon British colonial sugar. I do so with a full intention of not assenting to any increase of the protection to colonial sugar. I will vote accordingly either for imposing an extra duty of 4s. upon all white-clayed sugar, or for making no distinction in this respect between colonial and foreign sugar. I do hope, notwithstanding what we have heard from one or two hon. Gentlemen to-night, that this House is not prepared to exhibit itself to the country in the light in which it appeared a month or two ago. I do hope we are not going to rescind the decision to which we came the other night. I cannot conceal the astonishment with which I heard, from a Gentleman holding so high a position as the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a declaration that the forms of the House, by which Bills go through repeated readings, were intended for this very purpose of enabling us to rescind our decisions. No doubt these forms were intended to prevent surprise; they were intended to prevent the House from coming hastily to a decision which it might afterwards regret. But I ask any hon. Gentleman whether he thinks these forms were adopted with the view of enabling the House to rescind those votes to which it may come upon full information after debate. This is not merely a question of rescinding a vote upon full and fair conviction of its impropriety. That is not what right hon. Gentlemen opposite ask of their supporters. No: they do not ask their supporters to reconsider the decision they have already pronounced; but they ask 1052 them, even though they retain the former opinions, for the sake of the Government to rescind that decision. It has been well observed by the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, that this is indeed a new pretension on the part of a government; and, as it has been forcibly remarked, the pretension amounts to this—that a vote against the Government, upon any matter, whether important or unimportant, is to be considered as involving a withdrawal of the confidence of the House of Commons. As has been remarked by my noble Friend—it must have struck every one who heard the speech of the right hon. Baronet, that he laid great stress upon the fact that, in the opinion of some persons, a vote of this House on a question of this nature is unimportant. "But," said the right hon. Baronet, "If it is unimportant, it marks so much the more strongly your disposition to withdraw your confidence from the Government." The right hon. Baronet told us that, whether the question at issue be such an one as the Factories Bill, whether it be a measure for abolishing a Welsh bishopric, or whether it be a mere fiscal measure—such as Mr. Pitt, in the height of his power, did not refuse to reconsider— when the Government makes a stand, it is the duty of the House to give way, or the Government are justified in relinquishing their office. If that be the case, we may save ourselves a vast deal of trouble by confining our proceedings to an annual vote at the beginning of the Session, expressive of our confidence or want of confidence in Ministers, and having so satisfactorily disposed of that matter we may go quietly to our homes, and leave the Government to exercise their dictatorial power. But we all know that in spite of the threat the Government have held out, it is not in their power to act upon it. When Gentlemen accept the responsibility of taking office under the Crown, they are not to determine for themselves when they will leave it. They incur a responsibility to their country which they cannot avoid; and those public men who shrink from their duty in office for insufficient reasons forfeit for ever their claims upon the confidence and respect of this House, and of the country. We know perfectly well that they may go through the vain form of tendering their resignation to Her Majesty; but they are as well aware as we are, that it is not in their power to carry that resignation into effect upon a question of this nature. They know that upon a mere question of taxa- 1053 tion—a question whether a duty of 4s. more or less is to be levied upon sugar—it is utterly impossible for them to relinquish the offices they hold. But the right hon. Baronet has told us that something more lurks behind,—that there is some deeper and less ostensible quarrel at the bottom of this difficulty. I believe that this is the fact. I see symptoms of Her Majesty's Government being supported by a party which does not feel with them upon one important class of public questions—I mean that class of questions which relates to trade and to finance. There are strong symptoms that, on this class of questions, they are not supported by a certain set of Gentlemen opposite; but, let me ask, "What is the cause of this state of things?" It is, undoubtedly, a most unfortunate condition of affairs—one, I will venture to say, neither creditable to the Government nor to this House, that, two or three times during a Session, the Government should be on the point of quitting office, and enabled to retain it only by compelling their supporters, against their convictions, against their conscientious opinions, to rescind a vote—which they have deliberately adopted. This is, undoubtedly, no light evil; but, let me ask, whence has it arisen? In my opinion it had its origin in the circumstances to which my noble Friend the Member for the city of London alluded tonight—that, when hon. Gentlemen on the other side were in Opposition, an impression was undoubtedly created—I do not say that it was wilfully created—not only in this House, but in the country, that they entertained very different views on commercial subjects to those which, when they were invested with the responsibility of power they were found to maintain, or at least were compelled to act on. Now that they are in office it is found—to the surprise of some individuals, though, I confess, not to mine—that the right hon. Gentlemen opposite under the pressure of enlightened public opinion out of doors, which they dare not too openly shock— under the pressure, also, I have no doubt, of their own conscientious feelings as to what the interest of the country demands, avow, as distinctly as we do on this side, the principles of free-trade. They tell us it is the interest of this country to sell in the dearest and to buy in the cheapest markets, without reference to the line of conduct pursued by other nations. They also find themselves compelled to deal with some of the most monstrous abuses of the 1054 old system of protection. We know that by doing so they have alienated from them Gentlemen who differ in opinion from them on these subjects. We know that there exists in the minds of those Gentlemen a feeling of disappointment which is scarcely concealed. We know that noble Dukes and right hon. Gentlemen say that they give their votes in favour of the Government, not because they are satisfied with them, but because they are more dissatisfied with those by whom they think the present Government may be succeeded. Hence it happens that the Members have not the cordial and sincere support of those Gentlemen who are advocates of the system of what is called the protection of domestic industry. On the other hand, by shrinking from carrying into effect, boldly and consistently, those principles which they themselves avow — by practically maintaining some of the most mischievous restrictions, especially that worst of all—the existing Corn Laws—the Government have failed to obtain the cordial support and co-operation of those who are the advocates of a system of free-trade. Hence arise the difficulties of their position, the scenes we see exhibited in this and the other House of Parliament, and that uncertainty as to the whole future course of our commercial legislation which every man must feel to be a great evil, as well with reference to the character of public men as with relation to the interests of the country. Is there a manufacturer, a merchant, or a farmer in the Kingdom who does not feel that the doubt which at present exists as to the whole course of our future commercial legislation, is pregnant with evil to his own individual interest, in common with that of the country. This is a state of things to which it is high time that you (the Ministers) should put an end. This can only be effected by you, or by those hon. Gentlemen who have to-night taken an opportunity of manifesting, in no equivocal manner, the feelings they entertain, and who evinced those feelings on Friday night by the cheers with which they received the announcement of a division, by which the Government proposal was defeated. The Government must end this state of things by adopting, decidedly and boldly, one line of commercial policy or the other—by ceasing to halt between two opinions. They must not advance an argument in favour of protection, and then, by way of balance, argue for free-trade in the abstract, which never can be applied in practice; but, 1055 ceasing to pursue this vacillating course, so little worthy the high position of the distinguished Gentlemen I see opposite, they must declare themselves decidedly in favour of one principle or the other. I do not mean that sort of respect coming from inefficient advocates of the question; but a bonâ fide acknowledgment of these doctrines or admission that they will at no distant date commence a legislation upon more sound principles. I am not rash enough to suppose that they could all at once strike off the whole of the protective duties; but it is in the power of the Government to make a considerable advance on this subject, and if they do, I can assure them they will be able to rely upon the support of many hon. Members who sit upon this side of the House. But if the Government are determined to maintain the present state of things, they must expect to encounter that feeling of hostility which they now dread. It is in the power of Her Majesty's Government to put an end to this state of things. I most respectfully appeal to the great party in this House who represent the agricultural interest. It is in their power to put an end to the present state of things. If they think that the present state of things ought to be put an end to it is their duty to act up to that opinion. If the agricultural party think that they truly represent the opinion of the country upon certain questions, let them honestly act upon that opinion, and if Her Majesty's Government will not adopt or defend the views which the agricultural party in this House consider essential to the interests of the public, let the agriculturalists say boldly to the Government, "You must give place to other and better men, men holding views in conformity with our own." Let them use the power which they possess in this and the other House of Parliament. Will the agricultural party admit that they have no man sufficiently intellectual to head a Government representing such opinions? Will they make such an admission as that? I am sure that they will not. Well, they say that the experiment is not to be hazarded. If they take that view of the question I admit that it is a just one. I appeal to hon. Members whether their course is not clear to them. If the tide sets in this direction, if the present system of restriction, of vexatious restriction, upon the commerce of the country is in opposition to public opinion, I ask hon. Members how they can reconcile it with their duty or with their 1056 interest to prolong an injurious contest which can only end in one way. If the result of this contest is likely to end in the removal of these restrictions, the sooner they are put an end to the better. I must own that I feel strongly with regard to the manner in which public affairs are now conducted, and I see no immediate prospect of effecting any alteration in that system. Would it not be productive of advantage were we to avail ourselves of the season of calm repose, and endeavour to effect the change to which I have been referring? What we want, and what the country wants, is a Government acting upon principle, and supported on principle—a Government bound together by strong feelings, convictions, and agreements upon questions involving great public principles, and supported by hon. Gentlemen who have a just appreciation of what the country wants. The state of anarchy which now exists with regard to these great political and commercial questions must, if allowed to remain unaltered, materially endanger the interests of the country, while it would bring ruin on the character of all public men.
said, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government seemed to be somewhat apprehensive that some Members connected with the two dioceses of North Wales might have been tempted to vote as they had voted on Friday from a sort of idea that they might coax him into an alteration of those opinions with respect to the Dioceses of that part of the country which the right hon. Baronet had formerly expressed. As representing a portion of that district, he must beg to say that he was not quite so sanguine as to think that he should succeed in effecting a change in the right hon. Baronet's opinions on this head by voting as he had done. He voted on Friday night deliberately, and he did not intend to change that vote. The cause of those two dioceses was quite strong enough to stand on its own substantive merits. He did not think it would be right to barter one vote against another on such a subject, and he thought he should be taking the surest way to defeat that cause if he were to seek to carry it by unworthy means. He scarcely knew whether the right hon. Baronet only intended a warning to those hon. Members to whom he referred, or whether he meant to prejudge the case, for it was not usual to make allusions in that House to Bills pending before the House of Lords, and still less usual to 1057 allude to events which had happened during their progress in that House. He hoped, when the measure came before them, it would be judged on its own merits; he asked no more for it; all he asked was, that when it came into this House it might not be prejudiced by anything which had been said this night.
The noble Lord on the other side of the House (Lord Howick) has appealed to the natural pride and sensitive honour of those who heard him, on the subject of that which the noble Lord represented as a threat held out by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, for the purpose of inducing the House to rescind the vote to which, on a previous evening, they came, after full deliberation and long debate. Now, I think the noble Lord did injustice to my right hon. Friend, in supposing that in any of the observations he offered to the House he was guilty of the impropriety of holding out any threat to any Member of the House on account of the vote then come to. But at the same time, in the position of Her Majesty's Government, it is their bounden duty in this state of affairs frankly to detail to the House the circumstances in which they find themselves placed, not perhaps exclusively, but certainly in a great degree, by that vote. When I say not exclusively, I must be permitted to assure the noble Lord who has just sat down, that nothing could be further from the views of my right hon. Friend than to impute to him, or to any Member interested in the question to which he has referred, that his vote upon this question might be, or that his vote on a former occasion was, in the slightest degree influenced by the unworthy object of seeking to obtain a species of reciprocity at the hands of the Government in their assent to a measure which they could not conscientiously support. What my right hon. Friend stated was this, that whatever the difficulties in which the Government might be placed by the vote to which the House had come on Friday, and still more by the language held by some Gentlemen on this side of the House who call themselves the supporters of the Government. It was due to his position, and to the country that he should frankly say, that from no doubtful intimation he had received upon this and some other questions (among which he mentioned the particular question alluded to by the noble Lord), and 1058 on which there was a strong feeling both in that and the other House sufficiently powerful to resist the Government with success—from the difference of opinion manifested with respect to these questions by those who in general supported his policy—that if Government did not retain the general confidence and support of their friends, it would be idle for them further to attempt to conduct the public business. The noble Lord had drawn a picture of the state of the country, which, indeed, if it be true and not marked with those high colours with which the noble Lord is in the habit of adorning what he addresses to the House, would be a conclusive argument not why we should invite the House to reconsider the question, but why we should at once declare, that not possessing the confidence of our supporters, we are incompetent to conduct a Government. The noble Lord stated that when not in office, we had created an impression—not perhaps designedly—that we entertained very different views on commercial subjects, from those on which we have since acted. Not, surely, on the mind of the noble Lord, for in the next sentence, the noble Lord, who had watched our course, said, that the steps we had taken had not by any means come upon him unexpectedly. But, says the noble Lord, while we admit the principles of free-trade, we do not carry them out. What is the language we have always held on this subject? If the noble Lord lays down as an abstract proposition, where no interest opposes, and where a carte blanche can be given, that it is better to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market, there is probably no one who will dispute that principle. But the science of politics, of managing the affairs of nations, is to know how to apply principles true in the abstract to the conditions and circumstances of a country. I say we do admit that doctrine in the abstract, but in the application of that doctrine we do not forget that we are not to injure those great interests which have grown up in this country and in the Colonies, for the sake of escaping from the taunts of the noble Lord, who talks about principles in the abstract, which we are afraid to put into practice. The noble Lord says we are supported by a great body of men, who support us not from inclination, but because they dislike our opponents more than they love us. I should like to know, 1059 when the noble Lord formed a part of a Government, whether he did not frequently find himself among a considerable number of those who supported him on that very same principle of faith—not that they agreed with him—not that they were satisfied with his course of proceeding— not that they would not desire to go further than the Government; but, from a want of somebody to carry out their own extreme opinions, they supported the Government of the noble Lord. This is the condition of every Government. It is impossible but that among the supporters of every Government there should be those who, in the main, are general supporters of the Government, but who are not satisfied with the rate at which the Government are proceeding—who are not satisfied with the application to its full extent of this or that abstract course of proceeding, but who are yet supporting the Government because they differ still more widely from those on the other side of the House. But I believe the noble Lord to be mistaken, although I admit there are Gentlemen among the supporters of the Government who think we do not go far enough in the system of protection for existing interests. I do not believe, I say, that the noble Lord takes a correct view of the great Conservative party at this moment, if be does not think that, in the main, they are satisfied with the wise and temperate consideration which my right hon. Friend has given to principles which, true in themselves, cannot be acted upon without endangering interests we have determined to support. But do I believe that the agriculturists, to whom the noble Lord has been kind enough, in the plenitude of his sympathy, to offer his advice, will be so far deluded by the eloquence of the noble Lord as to act upon the principle he recommends; and, combining as a body for the assertion of principles of protection, insist, as the noble Lord thinks they ought, either upon the Government adopting the whole view of the case which they may take, or of throwing out the Government and choosing their own leaders, place them in a position to carry out these views? Sir, I do not think the agricultural body would derive much advantage from such a step. The noble Lord says it is time to put an end to this state of things, and that may be done in one of two ways—it may be done by the agriculturists themselves insisting upon the ex- 1060 treme of protection at the hands of Government, and the resignation of the Government if the demand be not granted; or, that it may be done by the Government themselves adopting, contrary to their own opinions, the extreme principles of liberalism adopted by the noble Lord opposite; and, without reference to time, circumstances, or to the state of the country, putting into practice those abstract principles of which the noble Lord is so much enamoured. I do not believe that either the one course or the other will be taken by either the one party or the other; and whatever may be the fate of Her Majesty's Government, so long as they are supported by this House, so long undeterred by the extreme opinions of the noble Lords opposite, or the extreme opinions of a contrary tendency on this side of the House, will they maintain that i steady and cautious course, which in their deliberate judgment they believe to be best adapted to the development of industry, and, at the same time, to the protection of the main and leading interests of the country. If the noble Lord cannot persuade the agriculturists—if he cannot succeed either by an appeal to the passions, or the pride of those whom he entreats not to be threatened into rescinding their vote —if he cannot succeed in creating or fomenting a division in the Conservative ranks —if the agricultural body are not captivated by the allurements of the noble Lord, he thinks he can successfully apply himself to the West-Indian producers, and persuade them to come forward, and, with a view to the protection of their interests, to place themselves under the guidance of the noble Lord who is the opponent of all protection. I know not whether the noble Lord will succeed in the bait he holds out to the West-Indian interest. But do I understand his offer to them? The noble Lord says, "Do not rescind your vote of the other night." Sir, I do not wish to take advantage of any technicalities. I say, then, at once, that the Government are calling upon the House to reconsider that condemnation which they passed on Friday night upon the plan submitted to them by Her Majesty's Government. I admit this frankly and fully. I seek to shelter myself under no technicalities. I admit that our measure was condemned on Friday night by a majority of ten. [An hon. Member: "Twenty."] By a majority of twenty. I do say, then, we ask 1061 the House to reconsider the condemnation they then passed. How was that condemnation obtained? I am not going into the question of any previous concert between the noble Lord opposite and hon. Gentle men on this side of the House. [Lord John Russell: There was no concert.] The noble Lord says there was no previous concert. [Lord John Russell: The noble Lord labours under a mistake.] I said I was not about to enter upon the discussion of any previous concert between hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House and hon. Gentlemen on the other side, by which the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol was framed in such a manner as to obtain the assent of a great body of hon. Gentlemen opposite who differ from the hon. Member, but who condemned by a majority of twenty the project of the Government. That condemnation, however, was not obtained by an [united body friendly to the West-Indian interest, or by those who wish to extend the principles of free-trade; and I do ask you not only to reconsider their vote of the other night, but deliberately to compare the plan of the hon. Member for Bristol with that of the Government, and if on the whole you are of opinion that as a whole the measure of the hon. Member is not one that can be adopted, then I trust the hon. Member will not accept that which may be palatable to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and at the same time abandon his own measure. Observe this: the hon. Member for Bristol brings forward a proposition composed of two parts, and he and the West Indians say, we desire to obtain the extent of protection proposed to be granted by the project of the hon. Member in preference to the measure of protection offered by the Government. But what if it so happen that a part of the hon. Gentleman's proposal is rejected, and instead of the proposal offered by the Government the hon. Member is defeated, and that part only of his proposal which is advocated by the supporters of free-trade is carried, can he and the West-Indian interest believe that they will have so effectually maintained their position as to secure to themselves protection against foreign slave-grown sugar? With respect to protection on the part of the Government, I distinctly admit the claim of the West-Indian body in a double sense to the protection afforded by this House. I admit it on the ground of dif- 1062 ferential duties between our Colonies and foreign possessions placed in similar circumstances. I admit it further, on the additional ground of the restriction in which the West-Indian Colonies are placed by the abolition of slavery, regarding the employment of labour. The proposition of the Government was to this effect—we give a differential duty of 10s. as against foreign free-grown sugar, and we maintain an absolute exclusion of foreign slave sugar, against the admission of which the West Indians have a double claim. Is the prospect of protection against slave-grown sugar, as offered by Her Majesty's Government, held not by those with whom the hon. Member for Bristol has thought it wise and expedient to associate for the benefit of the West Indies? A great part of the discussion has turned on the impossibility of discriminating between foreign free-labour sugar and slave-grown sugar, and the conclusion from all that has passed is irresistible that if, by coming round to the views of the noble Lord in 1831, you admit the principle he proposes, you will have not to compete with free-grown sugar alone, but in the course of a single year—aye, less— in the course of six months, you will have to compete with slave-grown sugar, which the noble Lord opposite tells you, and he took the opinion of the House this Session upon the point, ought to be put upon the same footing as to duty. That is what the West-India interest are about to gain by the success of the hon. Member. The amount of protection offered by the Government, and that asked by the hon. Member for Bristol, apart from the consideration of the 4s. which the hon. Gentlemen opposite tell him he will not obtain, and has no chance of obtaining, are identical. But then we show, that by the adoption of the measure of the hon. Member, first, that the revenue will largely suffer. No man has disputed the revenue would suffer by the proposition of the hon. Member as compared with that of the Government. The right hon. Member for Taunton frankly and fairly admitted that up to November next there would be great and serious inconvenience, great stagnation, and great paralisation of the sugar trade by delay in carrying the alteration into effect. The reduction of duty is 4s., that is to take effect in five months. Is that likely to be for the benefit of the consumer, or of the West-India interest? It 1063 is an absolute certainty, and it is not denied by any one, that from this time to November, there will be no sugar taken out of bond that can by possibility remain, not paying duty. Take off the 4s.; stop the issue and payment of duty from now to November, and then tell me, will the reduction of 4s. per cwt. on the duty, and no more, be advantageous to the consumer or to the price of sugar? Why, there will be not only no advantage, but it is a moral certainty the price must rise. Say that for five months sugar pays no duty, and that we must exist upon the present stock; it is a moral certainty there cannot be a fall in price. But does the price benefit the West-Indian producers? The sugar remains under lock and key, and they derive no benefit from the increased price, for that goes into the pockets of the wholesale grocers and retail dealers. Neither the West-India interest, then, nor the consumer is benefited, while to a certainty a great loss is inflicted on the revenue. But the noble Lord, the friend of the West-India interest, the disinterested adviser of the West-India producer, who expects that class to emancipate themselves from subserviency to the Government, and to place themselves in co-operation with him and his friends— what does he purpose? He does not deny, that by the postponement of the duty till November, there will be serious loss to the revenue, whilst no benefit will arise to the producer and consumer. He says, make the fall of the duty instantaneous. The loss to the revenue, if no additional duly comes in, is infinitely greater than it would be by the postponement to November. But what will be the result? The Brazilian Treaty continues. The noble Lord says I know that, but he says it is easy to be met, because it is quite true that now and for five months Brazilian sugar will come in at precisely the same terms as Colonial sugar; at the end of five months the supply will go back, and it cannot produce any important effect. The noble Lord well knows that at this moment there is a large stock of Brazilian sugar for the purpose of refining, which, if the noble Lord's proposition were carried, would be instantly competing in the market, and thus the West-India producer would receive a material benefit from the friendly suggestion of the noble Lord. Why, Sir, the course proposed by the noble Lord is actually 1064 that of rescinding a vote, for the House has already come to a vote continuing the existing duties till the 14th of November; and the noble Lord proposes to you, that pressed by the present difficulty, you should rescind in favour of Brazil a rote you came to three hours ago. The hon. Member for Somersetshire complains that we did not at once propose the whole of the project we had in view. I will not now enter upon the question so fully discussed by my right hon. Friend. I will merely say that we do not enter upon the whole question now, because, as we have before said, we consider this as a part of a great financial system, the proper time for considering which will be next Session. But we do avail ourselves of the earliest opportunity to intimate to the country, to the West-Indian interest, and to foreign sugar producers that principle which Her Majesty's Government intend to lay down, and that scale of protection upon which one of these parties may depend. We intend to give notice to the producers of foreign free sugar, that after a limited period they shall be admitted into competition with British West-Indian producers, and we announce to both one and the other (that which I much wish hon. Gentlemen on the other side would also announce as a part of their scheme) that they shall have permanent protection against the importation of foreign slave-grown sugar. Sir, it may be that the country has changed the opinions expressed in former years, it being a great moral duty incumbent upon the House and the Government to draw this distinction between foreign free-grown sugar and foreign slave-grown sugar. If that be the case, if that be the opinion of this House, if that great principle is to be broken in upon, and another substituted in its place, the Government who have not altered their views, who adhere to their former opinions, are not the parties you can in justice and in honour call upon to carry into effect this altered intention of the country. We, Sir, hold ourselves bound in honour as in justice to maintain that principle of protection, and that principle we see seriously endangered if the House is persuaded to adopt the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. I do not, nor does any Member of Her Majesty's Government, presume to say that we have a right to call upon any Gentleman to sacrifice his own individual and conscientious 1065 opinions in favour of those which the Ministers lay down. But this we have a right to say—if you are in the main desirous of supporting Her Majesty's Government, it is not too much for them to ask beforehand that if a question be of itself really unimportant you will give such a fair construction of the views of those in whom you place your confidence, as to believe that having maturely and deliberately weighed that question, they have come to a conclusion upon the best exercise of their judgment, and that they are entitled to claim at your hands a liberal interpretation of their motives; and even, I may venture to add, some deference for opinions founded upon close investigation of the whole subject, although at the first blush you may find it difficult to reconcile them with your own. Sir, I ask no Gentlemen to sacrifice their own opinions, or to do that which would alike degrade themselves and degrade the Government. I ask them not, as was hinted on the other side, to make those opinions subservient to the Government; but if there be between the Government and the House so wide a difference of opinion, that they do not possess the general confidence of the House so as to enable them to carry through those measures they believe to be essential to the welfare of the country — then, I say, the Government have a right to claim that they shall be exposed to a recoil upon themselves of those arguments which they embodied in 1841, preliminary to a vote that the Government did not possess the confidence of the House of Commons, and that so, not possessing the confidence of the country, it was their duty to resign their office. The noble Lord spoke out plainly, as he always does. He charged us with having threatened to resign, and he says that we are not masters of our own conduct on this occasion. I must be permitted to tell the noble Lord that he is very much mistaken if he thinks that there is any man, whether in Government or out of Government, who is such a slave as to be prepared to sacrifice to the retention of office that view of any public measure which he believes to be due to his deliberate conviction and his private judgment. This I know, that if, after a succession of defeats, caused not by the conduct of those who are our open and avowed opponents, but caused by an agreement—or a concert—call it what you will—["No, no."]—I confess I feel 1066 a difficulty to select a word to express what it should be called—if by such an union of votes, without any previous concert, Her Majesty's Government should feel themselves in a condition of being unable to carry measures which they deem essential to the public service, and if after a succession of defeats so produced, they should continue to hold office—as their predecessors no doubt did—I well know how keenly and how warmly we should have had pressed upon us from the opposite side of the House the language in which we had moved our censure upon their conduct, and that those considerations which were then urged by us against them for abandoning their policy while they retained their places, would be pressed with infinitely more force, with infinitely more reason, with infinitely more truth, and with infinitely more dishonour to the Government. It would have been said, that with the belief that we did not possess the confidence of the House of Commons, we, nevertheless, retained office, and maintained our station persisting in conducting the management of the affairs of this country. With these considerations pressing on our minds, we are not very likely to adopt such a course. We do believe that the measure we have proposed, on the whole, is not open to those objections to which the measure proposed by the hon. Member for Bristol is open. If we do believe that it is a measure that will afford an adequate, I do not say more than an adequate, state of protection to the West Indians—in combination with a measure which we do not feel the necessity of— namely, a large supply of labour to the West Indians; if we do believe that it lays down sound principles on which the commercial policy should rest, and upholds that which we fear would soon be broken down by the measure of the hon. Member for Bristol; if we believe that, by giving due notice to free. grown sugar planters—to foreigners on the one hand, and to our own Colonies on the other— the principle—the steady principle—we mean to apply to both, we shall, at the same time that we increase the facility of the introduction of a larger supply of sugar into this country, also give an increased advantage to the consumer, without pressing injuriously on the interests of the producer in the West Indies; but at the same time without giving him, at the first opening of the trade, that exclu- 1067 sive monopoly which he would possess if we made the reduction of duty without any preliminary warning to other countries of their right of entering into competition with him; if we believe our measure is not open to the objection to which the measure of the hon. Gentleman is open, but that, on the other hand, it is a measure— —I will not say is essential to, but surely is conducive to, the interests of the country—laying down as it would do a principle which would produce steadiness in the market, and at the same time leaving the details and general arrangement open to the unfettered consideration of Parliament, at a future time, when the whole financial concerns of the empire must come under consideration; I do trust we shall not be considered unduly and improperly pertinacious in our own opinions, and I do hope that we shall not be considered as asking too much from those who, upon general grounds, are disposed to give us their confidence, if we do state firmly and emphatically, but at the same time most respectfully, that to our present proposition, the proposition of the Government, we must adhere; and to call upon them not, for the mere purpose of effecting some immediate object—rather than for making a final settlement of the question—to form a union and an alliance with Gentlemen who are as adverse in principle to themselves as it is possible for men to be, but who are willing to support them now, because they are desirous to overthrow the Government, but who, when they have succeeded, by the assistance of the friends of the Government in overthrowing it, will be very little disposed to give any very favourable indulgence either to the claims of the agricultural interest or to the West-India body.
§ Viscount Palmerston
If the only question which this House had to determine, was the question depending upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Bristol, I should be entirely prepared—not to conspire—not to combine—but to unite with him in the vote which he has proposed. That vote is not free from objections, according to the view which I take of it. In the first place, it appears that a great objection to the proposal of the Government, is that it makes a distinction, which I think unfounded and untenable, between sugar the produce of free-labour, and sugar the produce of slave-labour. I am not going into that question now, but I must take 1068 leave to say, that a ground more irreconcileable to common sense, more untenable in practice, than that distinction is founded upon, it never yet fell to my lot to hear. I think the discussion which has taken place on that subject generally convinced hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that it was a distinction which could not be maintained in practice. Another ground of objection is, that the proposition of the hon. Gentleman is founded upon the principle of protection; a principle which in the abstract I disapprove of, and one which ought not to be the foundation of our commercial regulations. But, at the same time, I am prepared to admit, that if there can be a case in which it would be fitting to make an exception to the general rule, and to apply for a certain time the principle of protection, that case is the case of the West-India Islands, where, from circumstances, independent of the possessors of the land, where from causes originating from the highest motives, and from the most laudable acts on the part of this House, temporary difficulties exist which may fairly require the indulgent consideration of Parliament. I, therefore, am not disposed to object to that degree of protection which this vote proposes, always assuming that that protection should not be a permanent system, but be considered as applicable to temporary and peculiar circumstances. I much prefer the proposal of the hon. Member to the proposal of the Government; because while on the one hand it would be productive of relief to the West-India planter, on the other hand it would be attended with considerable relief to the consumers of this country. It has been shown that the reduction of duty which the hon. Gentleman proposes will create a sensible diminution in the price of sugar, and that must in itself be a great advantage to the people. But I must own that the question of a comparative duty, and the question of protection to the West-Indian interest, and the question of the application of abstract doctrines to our commercial policy, appear to me to have sunk into comparative insignificance when we consider the other ground on which this vote is chiefly placed by the Government. The Government say that they have not threatened any individual, but they have distinctly declared that unless this House shall consent to retract a vote which it came to the other evening, and vote the direct contrary to that vote, which on full consideration they affirmed, they, 1069 the Government, declare that they will cease to consider themselves in a situation which would enable them to remain in the offices which they at present hold. Undoubtedly to the Gentlemen on this side of the House, that is no threat whatever; but to that large portion of their own supporters by whose votes they were placed in a minority on Friday night, that is a threat, and a threat which I think it is not becoming of any Government to employ. I think such threats bring seriously into danger the independence, character, and dignity of the House of Commons. I quite admit that when a Government is defeated upon some important question, involving great principles of Government, and therefore when they find that they have lost the confidence of Parliament, it is then becoming that they should retire from office, which they could no longer hold with credit to themselves or advantage to the country; but has that always been the principle which has guided the conduct of the Government who now sit on the Ministerial Benches? Has this House forgotten the year 1835, that short period of four months, which elapsed between the meeting of the Parliament of 1835 and the retirement of the Government? Why, the Government of that day was not once, twice, or thrice only, but I believe something like eleven times outvoted, without considering it a decisive manifestation of their having lost the confidence of Parliament. It is suggested to me that in that short Session they not only met with nearly nothing but defeats, but that when they did obtain the sanction of the House to any measure, it was but with a small majority. Why the Government of that day justified their conduct by alleging that having undertaken the Government, after great consideration, they felt it inconsistent with their duty lightly to abandon their post, and that they would not assume that they had lost the confidence of the House until it was proved in a manner not to be mistaken. But now we have a doctrine very different from that of those days. The other day, upon the factory question, what was the language which the Government held? They said it was a question so very important, involving considerations of such magnitude, and of such vital interest to the country, that they could not be responsible for the management of public affairs, if the vote which had been passed was not reversed. The vote was reversed, and much loss of character by the House, in the opinion of the country, was the conse- 1070 quence of that change of opinion. But what are we told now? We are told this question before the House is not a question of much importance. We are told that it is a question comparatively unimportant; and because it is unimportant the Government refuse in honour to remain in office unless Parliament are ready to rescind their vote. What does this come to but to this, that this House is to be but a mere cypher, a mere assembly to register the edicts of the Executive Government? If the Government are defeated on an important question, then its importance prevents the Government from continuing in office, and if the defeat takes place on a question that is unimportant, then, because the question is trifling, so much the more pointed is the affront, and so much the more strong is the want of confidence of the House, and that is then made the reason why Government and Parliament should part. This does appear to me a doctrine entirely contrary to the views and principles of constitutional government in this country. I think it is one which leads to great danger, as affecting the independence, utility, and character of this House, and if I were one of the Gentlemen on the other side of the House who voted against the Government on Friday night, however much I might value their continuance in office, I should consider my own character, and the character of the House, of much higher concernment, and should say that rather than I would support the Government on ground like that, I would run the risk of overthrowing it, to preserve my own independence and the independence of Parliament. I confess I never was more surprised than when I heard the course which the Government had determined to take this day. Every one had no doubt speculated as to what was the course which would be taken; but that the course would be to call upon the House for a reversal of the vote which it had come to on Friday night, certainly never occurred to my mind. Government might have come forward with much dignity, and have said, "We will acquiesce in what appears to be the opinion of Parliament; and that as it appears that the opinion of Parliament is that the duty on sugar should be reduced both with a view of increasing the protection to the West-India Colonies and the comforts of the working classes, the Government will accede to that proposal." Had the Government done this, then they might, with much justice, have put an end to the doubts at present existing as to the con- 1071 tinuance of the Income Tax, because they might have said, "If Parliament is prepared to sacrifice the revenue from commercial considerations, we (the Government) must come forward and ask you, the Parliament, to reimpose the Income Tax." That would have been a very fair and intelligible course for them to have pursued. What were their reasons for not pursuing that course they must know best. They might have taken another course. They might have said there was such a difference of opinion between the Government and many of their own supporters, that they would appeal to the country, not as against the Opposition, but against many of their own friends—against the very persons who had placed them in power, and ask the country whether they would return persons more disposed to concur in the general sentiments of the Government. That was a course they might have taken. But, perhaps, the noble Lord would say it was impossible. I think there is another course which might have been taken with dignity and consistency. What is the ground which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government has assumed on this occasion, on requiring the House to rescind their vote of Friday, if not, he and his Colleagues will retire from office? Why, the right hon. Gentleman has stated that it is not this particular vote, of itself, so much as the indication of this vote, and the consequences connected with it; showing that there was a progressive feeling of difference between his supporters and himself. The right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord have stated, that it was not merely the vote or the speech of the opener and seconder, or the tone of the debate, or the cheering or the exclamations alone, but that there have been other indications, strongly showing that Her Majesty's Ministers have lost the confidence of their own party. Now, if the Government be satisfied that it has lost the confidence of the party by which they have been supported, would it not be better for them to resign on that ground rather than call upon the House to rescind its vote? The noble Lord said; it might be hard upon hon. Gentlemen, at the first blush, to reconcile their first vote with their second. No doubt any man would feel a blush upon his cheek at being called upon to do so— though I know not whether the noble Lord or his Friends would feel it to be their first blush. I can tell the hon. Gentleman opposite, that it will not 1072 then be the last, for they may depend upon it, as the right hon. Baronet well said, that it is not merely upon the past but the future that is to be looked to. "It is not merely this vote," said the right hon. Baronet, "but other questions will come on on which differences will arise, and I want my supporters to learn now that the Government will not permit them to differ in opinion with us, and that if they do not agree now to submit their opinions to ours, we will no longer go on in the situation which we now occupy." I say, therefore, if the Government have a well founded conviction that neither to-day nor yesterday, but that for a long period there has been a growing alienation and separation between them and the great party by which they are supported—if they have such a conviction, that may be a reason—I don't say an imperative reason— but it might be a fair and constitutional reason, for them to resign their situation; but it affords no reason whatsoever for calling upon this House to rescind a vote, the rescinding of which would be disgraceful to the House, but would have no tendency to lessen that inward discontent and dissatisfaction of which the Government say they have witnessed so many other instances. The fact undoubtedly is, that the Government is in a position, which I can well understand to be highly painful and irksome for any men to be in. I do not agree with my noble Friend who says that he always saw, and believed that the Government were in their hearts as much advocates for the principles of free-trade as we who sit here. They gave no proof of it when they were upon this side of the House. They certainly took advantage of strong opinions adverse to those principles, and it was by taking advantage of those strong opinions adverse to those principles that they attained to the possession of the power which they now enjoy. When the change in their own minds took place it is impossible for us to say. I can easily understand that men coming into power with anti-free trade notions, may, by a close observation of the workings of the system which they lead to advocate, soon find sufficient reasons for changing their opinions and adopting in their own minds principles against which when out of power they had contended. I do not blame them for that conversion; on the contrary, I think it does honour to their candour, judgment, and good sense; but, if they had changed their opinions, or if they always entertained those opinions, but did not exhibit them 1073 before though they think fit to do so now, they have no right to find fault with that great body of men who supported them in the faith and full belief that their opinions were very different from what they really are, and who, finding now that those opinions have changed—or finding that they always were the same though concealed in general and brought forward only upon particular occasions—feel resentment at being called on to give effect to the opinions the very contrary of those which they themselves entertain. But, then the noble Lord says, we make contradictory and inconsistent accusations—one moment that we say that they have free-trade principles in their mouths and not in their actions—another time, that they certainly held them not long ago, and did not now, and, again, that they kept these principles for high days and holidays, and did not carry them into practice—that they do indeed for the sake of the regard they feel for them carry them out here and there, just enough to show to their supporters that they do not heartily agree with them; while, on the other hand, they are not bold enough to carry them out to an extent sufficient to satisfy those who entertain those opinions in common with themselves. Well but, Sir, they have specimens of our principles, to show that they do not altogether repudiate them. They opposed our proposal of a fixed duty on corn, yet, upon the Canada frontier they have their fixed duty. All the corn that comes to England from America, through Canada, comes in upon the fixed duty principle. Then there is the principle of free-trade in corn,—corn paying no duty save that simply of its registration. They opposed the proposal for a free-trade in corn, yet we have a specimen of that principle,—all the corn that comes from the Maine through New Brunswick comes in by virtue of the Ashburton Treaty upon the free-trade principle. Then these Gentlemen take care to adopt those principles as little as possible in use, but merely sufficient to keep specimens for future use, that they may say "we have held them, not simply in the abstract, but we have applied, and do apply them, as far as the application was or is possible." I say, then, that I think the great question the House has to consider to-night is—whether it will surrender its independent will—its sincere convictions—to the dictates of the Government; whether Gentlemen who in accordance with their own opinions, upon mature consideration and deliberation, upon Friday voted, "Aye," will vote upon 1074 Monday, "No," from an apprehension that, by persisting in their consistency, they will lose the Government which they wish to maintain in office, and I say, if the question be between maintaining their own consistency and losing the Government they support, that I think a sense of personal honour and a regard to the character of Parliament leave us no alternative. Let them not deceive themselves by any such apprehension as that which has been alluded to—let them not imagine, if they do persist in the vote they gave upon Friday, that that will lead to a change of the Government—we have only to look to this House—we have only to see how this House is constituted—we have only to see what are the decisions when a question of importance is really at issue between the two sides of the House, we have only to look to that to be convinced that the threat of retiring from office is an idle threat, and one that will not and cannot be carried into execution. When the Government says it has not the confidence of this House, what is the meaning of that declaration? I say the confidence of this House is made known when a question is brought before it with reference to what the Government has stated it is a vital question, upon which they consider their existence as a Government depends—not when resignation is brought forward as a threat to induce the House to rescind a former vote—but when in the ordinary course of communication between the Government and its supporters, it has fairly told them beforehand, and in sufficient time, that such must be the bearing of the vote to be given. When a question of that sort has come before us, what has been the indications in this House of want of confidence in the Government? Why, we have had majorities varying from ninety to 100, and I say, notwithstanding the decision to which the House may come to-night, that, if any day this week any Gentleman upon this side of the House were to propose a resolution of "no confidence" in Her Majesty's Government, I am convinced that such a resolution would be lost by a majority of certainly not less than from 90 to 100 votes. I say then, Sir, away with this nonsensical assertion of want of confidence in the Government. Away with the pretext that it is necessary for Gentlemen to unsay what they have said, and to forfeit all character and title to independence and consistency, in order to manifest their confidence in that Government. Why the Government cannot be in earnest when it says it thinks it has lost 1075 the confidence of the majority of this House. Recent votes prove the contrary, and not wishing to say anything harsher or more severe than has already been said, I must say that the vote which the supporters of the Government, who voted against them the other night, are called upon to give to-night has been perfectly described by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Disraeli) when he said, "However anxious Her Majesty's Government may be to put an end to slavery in every part of the world, they at least mean to rivet the chains of those who sit behind the Treasury Benches."
Mr. S. O'Brien
said, that as an agricultural Member, and as one who voted upon Friday last in favour of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, he was unwilling to allow the debate to close without tendering his heartfelt thanks to the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley) for the able answer which he had given to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Sunder-land (Lord Howick), and he could tell the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland that in whatever estimation the agriculturists might hold the friendship of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, they at any rate considered the enmity and hostility of the noble Lord to be so inveterate and implacable, that it would be very long before they would take him into their confidence. The noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire had stated fairly and frankly the differences that on the whole existed between Her Majesty's Government and the agricultural body. He would ask the House to remember, however, what had been the conduct of the agricultural body since the accession of the present Government. Their accession was declared to be an hour of triumph and of victory for the agricultural body. He asked the House and the country whether the agricultural body availed themselves of that hour of triumph, and used that hour of victory to assert fresh protection for themselves. That the agricultural body did not meet the thanks of the other side of the House was to them as nothing; they never expected it; but they did look for the approbation of the country; they did look for the approbation of posterity. They did, in the hour of triumph submit to a revision of all those duties which affected the commercial interest, and they did acquiesce in their reduction to the lowest degree. What had been their conduct since. When driven at last 1076 into some demonstration of feeling by the ceaseless machinations, by the overbearing demonstrations of the body calling itself the Anti-Corn Law League, when the farmers of England were called up as one man to speak for themselves, he asked, whether it was from his side of the House that they asked through their representatives if the right hon. Baronet was prepared to maintain the Corn Laws? Did they exhibit even so much mistrust, doubt, or apprehension of the right hon. Baronet's policy? No; the question came from the opposite side of the House, while the representatives of the agricultural interest, with the exception of a passing remark from the hon. Member for Kent, showed that they were satisfied with the declaration of the right hon. Baronet. Since then, the right hon. Baronet brought in his plan for the abolition of the duty upon wool, and he asked the right hon. Baronet if he would do the agriculturists the justice to say that they did not oppose that measure. He asked him to do the farmers of England, and their representatives in that House, the justice to say, whether or not during the present Session (as the right hon. Baronet's remarks chiefly applied to the present Session), they had offered him a factious opposition. He wished the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, who so well responded to the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, had reminded that noble Lord that the party with whom he acted, and the Government of which he once formed a part, had been justly compared, by a certain influential Gentleman who gave them his support, to the farmerWho put his hat into a broken pain,Not to let in the light, but keep out the rain.That was the position which the noble Lord and his Colleagues were content to hold. One word, and he had done. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had said that whenever any expression of confidence was deemed necessary, the Government found a majority varying from ninety to 100, and this was contrasted with the division of Friday night; but he would ask the House to go one night further back and remember the division for Thursday night, when with the whole strength of the Opposition, led on by the noble Lord the Member for London against them, they supported the right hon. Baronet on the high Conservative and he might add, Protestant ground of refusing to sacrifice the Irish Church, with a majority of ninety-five. If therefore, the right hon. Baronet connected the vote of Thursday with that 1077 of Friday, he would see that whenever he acted on those principles to which he owed the proud position he now occupied, he would find that the body who were acting with him were ready and willing to support him. If (said the hon. Member), as I hope for the welfare of the country, the right hon. Baronet's tenure of office is still long—if, as I know it is the right hon. Baronet's ambition, he would leave this empire not only unimpaired, but strengthened and beautified to those who succeeded him, he has only to remember the principles on which he came into office, and to understand that, while we support a Minister, we must also support a principle. With this feeling, the party amongst whom I am proud and happy to number myself, are ready to stand by him whatever may be the taunts or obloquy of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
He had no vote to rescind or to justify because he had given his hearty and cordial support, on Friday night, to Her Majesty's Government. His conviction was, that the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Bristol would not be beneficial to the West Indies, to the consumer, or to the revenue. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Palmerston) had laid down four or five modes of action for the Government, but he (Colonel Sibthorp) hoped they would never take a lesson from the noble Lord's side of the House, or practice any of their dirty tricks. For ten years those Gentlemen had held power, and they were ultimately driven from their post with all the execration they merited. Looking at the difficulties which his (Colonel Sibthorpe's) right hon. Friend at the head of the Government bad to contend with—there could be but one opinion out of doors as to his conduct. No man bad so much confidence placed in him by the country. [Loud cries of "Divide."] That was all cry and little wool. He should on this occasion give his most cordial support to Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. M. Gibson
wished to explain as briefly as possible the view he was constrained to take on the question before the House. They were told by some hon. Gentlemen that that question was simply whether the duty upon colonial sugar should be 20s. or 24s. Hon. Gentlemen might take that view of it if they thought fit, and there were many plausible reasons why they should. In his opinion, how- 1078 ever, the real question was one which lay at issue between the extreme protection party in that House and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government, who had brought forward a measure for diminishing protection. As he looked upon it, the question which Gentlemen who advocated free-trade as a duty they owed to their constituents were to consider was—"Does the hon. Member for Bristol, representing the West Indian proprietary body in this House, call upon us to give a larger measure of free-trade than the Government?" He might be wrong in his estimate of the nature of the question, but that was the view he conscientiously took of it. The noble Lord the Member for the city of London, however, did not so consider it; and, looking upon it as a matter of combination and policy, spoke of it as a party question upon that (the Opposition) side of the House. His Lordship did not invite them to support any liberal measure of his own proposing, but called upon them to cooperate with those who were their most uncompromising and most determined opponents; and with no other object than practically to defeat a measure within their reach, imperfect undoubtedly, yet looked upon as a movement in the proper direction by the constituency which he represented. It was, he repeated, very imperfect, and fell very far short of what it ought to be, but still, as far as he was able to judge, it was the only practicable measure of reform within the reach of the House. The noble Lord invited the House to co-operate with the opponents of free-trade, but he could not bring himself to believe that those hon. Members who complained of the right hon. Gentleman opposite for admitting foreign sugar into competition with their own would think for one moment of admitting still more foreign sugar. They told him, indeed, that they had no confidence in him, because he exposed them to competition, and then said they, "In our own defence we will admit a greater quantity of foreign sugar than you do." He did not believe that they entertained any such object. He believed that there would be a larger measure of protection afforded by this Bill. They asked for a differential duty of 14s. instead of 10s. He would be most happy to vote with the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, and there was no person could be more anxious than 1079 himself to support that noble Lord; but the present question was not a vote of confidence in the Government, it was a matter at issue between them and the leaders of the West India interests. It had been stated on a recent occasion by the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, that, when he asserted that the duty of 34s. on plain clayed sugars would apply to a large proportion of the foreign sugar available under the present Bill, he was not correct. Now, he could not have made that assertion of his own knowledge on the subject, because he was not at all conversant with sugar making or refining, but had done so on such authorities as lay within his reach, and he would now take the liberty, in his own justification, of reading some letters. ["No, no."] He felt that where a Member's accuracy was attacked, he was entitled to justify himself, and that he would insist upon being heard, or he would move that the Chairman should report progress. ["No, no."] ["Read, read."] The hon. Member proceeded to read a letter from Mr. Peter Martineau, whom he described as a firm supporter of the principles of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, and well known in the sugar-trade, in which the writer states his conviction, that for a very large proportion of free-labour sugar the public would have to pay a much higher per centage, if the Amendment were carried, than was levied under the Ministers' Bill. The next letter, the hon. Member continued, is from another Gentleman of opposite principles to Mr. Martineau. And what does he say? The latter stated, in answer to his (Mr. Gibson's) inquiry respecting Mr. Miles's Amendment, that the writer was of opinion that a large quantity of Java sugar would come under the denomination of clayed sugars, and be thus subject to the 24s. duty; and that the Amendment, if carried, would give a duty of 14s. instead of 10s. The next letter was from better authorities, Messrs. Thornton and West, of the city. The purport of this letter was to this effect—that these gentlemen believed that much of the benefits expected from the Bill would be defeated if the duty to be levied exceeded 10s., and that the result of Mr. Miles's Amendment would be to bring in white clayed sugars at 34s. instead of 30s., concluding by an expression of their hope that the Government measure would be carried. 1080 ["Divide."] I have, continued the hon. Member, several other letters from persons of different political opinions, who all concur in considering the measure of the West Indian party a demand for increased protection, and call upon us, as advocates for the abolition of protection, to support the best measure we can get— that he must, with the utmost respect for the noble Lord, call upon him not to throw any degree of taunt upon him or his Friends for acting inconsistently on the present occasion, for they were merely anxious to procure the best measure within their reach, and, in taking that course, they had not been actuated by any desire to throw themselves into opposition to the noble Lord.
§ Mr. Roebuck
would not occupy the attention of the House needlessly, or at any length, but he wished to say that, in his opinion, the hon. Member for Manchester had certainly taken very erroneous views of the present question, which was whether the duty to be levied should be 20s. or 24s. He thought that there should not be a differential duty on colonial produce, and now the hon. Member was about to vote for a duty of 24s., and to negative the Amendment, because it was proposed by Gentleman whom he called the enemies of all free-trade. What did he care for that, if it happened, as in the present case, that the interests of the monopolists coincided with the interests of the consumer? He agreed with the proposition that if the price of sugar were reduced an increase of consumption would follow, which would enable the planters to get a profit which they could not now obtain. The proposition to reduce the rate of duty upon foreign sugar from 63s. to 35s. was met by the assertion that the West Indies could not compete with sugar introduced at such a rate, and the representatives of that interest therefore proposed a reduction in the duty on their own produce. Their view happened at the present moment to coincide with his, and he was not to be frightened out of his wits because they were called monopolists. His wish was to favour the consumer, and with that desire he should accompany the hon. Gentleman and his supporters into the lobby on a division. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that those who voted for the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Miles) voted so in consequence of having some inimical object towards the Govern- 1081 ment. He disclaimed any such inimical object, and he should be sorry to see the right hon. Gentleman out of office at the present moment. But, he repeated, he was for the consumer. When the preceding Ministers were in office they were taunted with incapacity to carry on the Government, and with the smallest of their majority; but, at present, this remarkable circumstance had occurred—a Minister commanding as large a majority as a hundred had that night acknowledged that he was unable to carry on the ordinary business of legislation. What had led to this phenomenon? The fact was, that there was a force out of doors which, in spite of every majority within these walls, pressed on the persons in the responsible condition of the right hon. Gentleman opposite; and, however, they might use political and party cries in opposition, yet, when they were invested with the power and responsibility of office, they were necessarily guided by the great interests of the community, and were brought into collision with smaller sectional interests. The present Ministers had been told that they came into office on the cry of protection, and that they were sacrificing protection. This was the necessary condition of all who should hold office hereafter. They could no longer have this protective system; and even the hon. Member for Bristol, while talking of protection, felt himself obliged to throw himself on the great market of competition. This was a signal triumph for free-trade. It was the first step, and the farmer would ultimately be obliged to yield. They might complain of their leader as they pleased; but he was in a position created by the necessity of things. He regretted to observe the almost ungenerous mode in which his followers had treated the right hon. Baronet. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury had talked about some mysterious influence being at work, which had created a division in May, and hostility in June and July, and then the hon. Member asked with that sort of air which enabled a man to earn a reputation for being wise by propounding a difficulty—what was the cause? This was a very cheap mode of earning a reputation for wisdom. He had known many books of three volumes full of it. It was but a shallow sort of philosophy. The hon. Member asked the question—what was the cause? He did not answer the question, however, but 1082 left the House in a state of doubt. From the tone in which the hon. Member spoke it might be thought that there existed a feeling of disappointment on his part, and a short anecdote might explain to the House what had occasioned this disappointment. When Pitt first came into office he went to Cambridge, and a rev. Gentleman preached a sermon before him on the following text:—"There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fiishes; but what are they among so many?" This might explain better than any thing else the cause of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury's present feeling.
§ The Committee divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 233; Noes 255: Majority 22.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Christie, W. D.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Clive, E. B.|
|Aldam, W.||Codrington, Sir W.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Colborne, hn. W. N. R.|
|Archbold, R.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Collett, J.|
|Baillie, Col.||Collins, W.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Colquhoun, J. C.|
|Bannerman, A.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Barclay, D.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Craig, W. G.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Currie, R.|
|Barron, Sir H. W,||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Bell, J.||Dalrymple, Capt.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Benett, J.||Denison, W. J.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Denison, J. E.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Dennistoun, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Bernal, R.||Disraeli, B.|
|Bernal, Capt.||Divett, E.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Douglas, J. D. S.|
|Blake, M.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Duff, J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Brotherton, J.||Duncan, G.|
|Browne, R. D.||Duncannon, Visct.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Duncombe, T.|
|Brownrigg, J. S.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B.W.||Dundas, F.|
|Buller, E.||Dundas, D.|
|Busfeild, W.||Dundas, hon. J. C.|
|Butler, P. S,||East, J. B.|
|Byng, G.||Easthope, Sir J.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Cavendish, hn. C. C.||Ellice, E.|
|Cavendish, hn. G. H.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Chapman, B.||Evans, W.|
|Childers, J. W.||Ewart, W.|
|Fielden, J;||O'Connell, M.|
|Ferguson, Col.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||O'Conor Don|
|Fitzmaurice, hon, W.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Fitzwilliam, hn. G. W.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Fox, C. R.||Ord, W.|
|French, F.||Paget, Col.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Parker, J.|
|Granger, T. C.||Pattison, J.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Pendarves, E. W. W,|
|Guest, Sir J.||Philips, G. R.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Philipps, Sir R. B. P.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Philips, M.|
|Hampden, R.||Pigot, rt. hon. D.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Hastie, A.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Hawes, B.||Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Protheroe, E.|
|Heneage, E.||Pusey, P.|
|Henniker, Lord||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Redington, T. N.|
|Hollond, R.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Horsman, E.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Hoskins, K.||Rice, E. R.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Howard, hon. J. K.||Ross, D. R.|
|Howard, Lord||Rous, hon. Capt.|
|Howard, hn. E. G. G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Howard, P. H.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Howard, hon. H.||Russell, J. D. W.|
|Howick, Visct.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Hume, J.||Scholefield J.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hutt, W.||Seale, Sir J. H.|
|Irving, J.||Seymour, Lord|
|James, W.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Jervis, J.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Johnson, Gen.||Smith, B.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Smith, rt. hn. R. V.|
|Langston, J. H.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Layard, Capt.||Somers, J. P.|
|Leader, J. T.||Standish, C.|
|Leveson, Lord||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Long, W.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.||Stanton, W. H.|
|McGeachy, F. A.||Staunton, Sir G. T,|
|Maclean, D.||Stewart, J.|
|McTaggart, Sir J.||Stuart, Lord, J.|
|Maher, N.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Stock, Mr. Serj.|
|Marshall, W.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Martin, J.||Strutt, E.|
|Matheson, J.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Miles, W.||Tollemache, J.|
|Morris, D.||Towneley, J.|
|Morison, Gen.||Trail, G.|
|Morrison, J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Murphy, F. S.||Tufnell, H.|
|Murray, A.||Turner, E.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Vivian. J. H.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Vivian, hon. Capt.|
|O'Brien, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Walker, R.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Wallace, R.||Wood, C.|
|Watson, W. H.||Worsley, Lord|
|Wawn, J. T.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Wemyss, Capt.||Wyse, T.|
|White, H.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Wilde, Sir T.|
|Williams, T. P.||Miles, P.|
|Wilshere, W.||Stewart, P. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ackers, J.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Cobden. R.|
|Acland, T. D.||Cockburn, rt. hn. S|
|A'Court, Capt.||Collett, W. R.|
|Acton, Col.||Corry, rt. hon. H.|
|Adare, Visct.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Alford, Visct.||Cripps, W.|
|Allix, J. P.||Darby, G.|
|Antrobus, E.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Dawnay, hon. W.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Denison, E. B.|
|Arkwright, G.||Dodd, G.|
|Bagge, W.||Douglas, Sir H.|
|Bailey, J.||Douro, Marq. of|
|Baird, W.||Dowdeswell, W.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Drummond, H. H|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Dugdale, W. S.|
|Barneby, J.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Duncombe, hon. D|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Bateson, T.||Eastnor, Visct.|
|Beckett, W.||Eaton, R. J.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Beresford, Major||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Eliot, Lord|
|Blakemore, R.||Ellis, W.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Borthwick, P.||Escott, B.|
|Botfield, B.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Brisco, M.||Flower, Sir J.|
|Broadley, H.||Forester, hn. G. C. W.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Forman, T. S.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Forster, M.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Fox, S. L.|
|Buck, L. W.||Fremantle, rt. hn. S|
|Buckley, E.||Gardner, J.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Gaskell, J. Milnes.|
|Bunbury, T.||Gibson, T. M.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Gladstone, Capt.|
|Campbell, Sir H.||Glynne, Sir S. R|
|Campbell, J. H.||Godson, R.|
|Cardwell, E.||Gordon, hon. Capt|
|Chapman, A.||Gore, M.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Gore, W. O.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Goring, C.|
|Cholmondeley, hn. H.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Clayton, R. R.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Grimston, Visct.|
|Clive, Visct.||Grogan, E.|
|Hale, R. B.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Hamilton, C. J. B.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Mildmay, H. St. J.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Hardy, J.||Morgan. O.|
|Hawkes, T.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Murray, C. R. S.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Neeld, J.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Neeld, J.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Neville, R.|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Newport, Visct.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Newry, Visct.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Hodson, F.||Norreys, Lord|
|Hodgson, R.||Northland, Visct.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Oswald, A.|
|Holmes, hn. W. A'C.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Packe, C.W.|
|Hope, A.||Paget, Lord W.|
|Hope, G. W.||Palmer, R.|
|Hornby, J.||Palmer, G.|
|Hotham, Lord||Patten, J. W.|
|Houldsworth, T,||Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Peel, J.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Pigot, Sir R.|
|Hussey, A.||Polhill, F.|
|Hussey, T.||Powell, Col.|
|Ingestre, Visct.||Praed, W. T.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Price, R.|
|Irton, S.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|James, W.||Richards, R.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Round, C. G.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Round, J.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Johnstone, H.||Russell, C.|
|Joliffe, Sir W.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sanderson, R.|
|Kemble, H.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Ker, D. S.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Kirk, P.||Sheppard, T.|
|Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E||Shirley, E. J.|
|Knight, F. W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Law, hon. C. E.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Lawson, A.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Lefroy, A.||Smollett, A.|
|Legh, G. C.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Lennox, Lord A.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Stanley, Lord|
|Liddell. hon. H. T.||Stuart, H.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Sturt, H. C.|
|Lockhart, W.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Lopes, Sir R.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Lyall, G.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Thornely, T.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Thornhill, G.|
|McNeill, D.||Tomline, G.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Trotter, J.|
|March, Earl of||Tumor, C.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Verner, Col.|
|Marsland, H.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Martin, C. W.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Masterman, J.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Walsh, Sir J. B.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|Warburton, H.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Welby, G. E.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Wellesley, Lord C.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Whitmore, T. C.||TELLERS.|
|Wood, Col.||Young, J.|
|Wortley, hn. J. S.||Baring, H.|
|Paired Of (Not Official).|
|Acheson, Lord||Bailey, J. jun.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Cress well, B.|
|Bowes, J.||Masters, T.|
|Butler, Col.||Tyrell, Sir J.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Scott, F.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Pakington, J.|
|Gill, T.||Boyd, J.|
|Gisborne, T.||Forbes, W.|
|Hey, Sir A. L.||Broadwood, H.|
|Hatton, Capt.||Conolly, Col.|
|Heron, Sir R.||Greenall, P.|
|Listowell, Earl||Alexander, N.|
|Langton, Col.||Wynn, C.|
|O'Brien, C.||Bell, M.|
|Oswald, J.||Bernard, Lord|
|Roche, Sir D.||Coote, Sir C.|
|Somerville, Sir W.||Stanley, E.|
|Trelawney, J. S.||Pringle, A.|
|Villiers, hon. C. P.||Lindsey, H.|
|Ward, G. H.||Douglas, Sir C.|
|Westenra, hon. J.||Baldwin, B.|
|White, S. W.||Bruce, C.|
|Winnington, Sir T,||Hinde, H.|
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.