HC Deb 28 June 1844 vol 76 c102
Dr. Bowring

begged leave to put the question, of which he had given notice, to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government, respecting the renewed intention of the Zollverein to place a higher duty upon British iron, and particularly on pig iron. He had seen that communications had taken place between the different deputies and the States they represented; and that the concurrence of those States had been obtained to discuss this question. He did not understand that any peremptory instructions had been given to the delegates to insist on the rise of duty, but they were to assemble in September next, when this topic would be again introduced. The question he wished to ask was, whether Her Majesty's Government had taken any measures on the subject, or made any representations to prevent such a disastrous result from taking place?

Sir Robert Peel

said, that Her Majesty's Government had not received any direct official information with regard to the steps to which the hon. Gentleman referred; but private communications had been received, which led them to believe, that there was a strong desire in Germany to raise the duty on iron. Urgent representations had been made by Her Majesty's Government, appealing to their sense of their own interest; and it was slated to Her Majesty's Government, that there might be an increase of duty for a certain limited period. It would be difficult to answer what might be the result of the assembly which would take place, for they had every reason to think that there would be a strong opposition to the measure.

Dr. Bowring

said, that the desire of the Zollverein to increase the duty on pig iron had been greatly strengthened by the low prices prevailing in this country at the time. Since then a considerable, advance had taken place, and the arguments used in favour of an increase of duty must have lost a good deal of their weight, because, from that, circumstance there was not so much danger of competition from this country.