HC Deb 04 August 1845 vol 82 cc1371-3
Mr. M. Gibson

said, he could not allow that opportunity, which might be the last he should have this Session, to pass without pressing on the attention of the Government one or two matters which had already been mentioned several times this Session in that House, connected with the commercial interests of this country. The first was, the position in which Englishmen now resident in the Brazils were placed. He wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, that the privileges which British subjects resident in the Brazils had enjoyed with reference to the disposal of their property by will, and some other personal rights of great importance, and which expired with the Treaty of November, 1844, had not, although they were enjoyed by the subjects of other foreign countries resident in Brazil, been restored to them. He would, therefore, press particularly on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, the great importance of endeavouring to procure, that Englishmen resident in the Brazils might at least be in as good a position as the subjects of any Foreign State whatever. At the same time, he did not complain that Englishmen were made subject to Brazilian law. The hon. Member for Salford and himself had received many pressing communications on this subject—one of vital importance to the constituency he represented, as many in that constituency had large property in the Brazils; and he understood that in case of the death of a partner in this country in any of those houses in that country, his goods would be taken possession of by the Brazilian authorities, and would be administered by them, and that large fees, amounting to confiscation of the property, would be exacted. It was understood that an assurance had been given that those privileges would be restored to British subjects, and he believed that Lord Aberdeen was under the impression that a Treaty or arrangement had been come to with the Brazilian Government that British subjects should be placed in the same position as the subjects of France and other foreign countries in reference to those personal rights. The last mails, however, did not bring intelligence that any such negotiation was concluded; and, whether it could be attributed to the unfortunate policy of this country with respect to sugar — to the fact that we had proscribed the staple produce of the Brazils, and placed it in a different position from the same produce of other foreign countries, he could not tell, but it appeared to him that we did stand in a very unfortunate position with the Brazils; that the interests of the commercial classes were in a state of jeopardy, and that Her Majesty's Government had not been fortunate in their negotiations with that Empire. Another question with reference to the same subject which he wished to press on the attention of the Government was the differential duty. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton, the other evening, put a question to the right hon. Baronet, and asked, whether it was true that the Brazilian Government had imposed an additional 20 or 30 per cent. on the rate of duty now leviable under the general tariff, on the cotton manufactures, the produce of Great Britain only; and the right hon. Baronet answered that he had received no intelligence that such was the fact. But he (Mr. Gibson) believed that intelligence which might be relied on had arrived by the last mail, that the Brazilian Government had imposed a discriminating duty of 20 or 30 per cent. on British cotton manufactures over and above the duty upon the cotton manufactures of any other country; and that they would continue that additional duty so long as England continued to proscribe their sugar. He had seen that stated in a Liverpool paper of the 23rd of July last. He did not ask the Government for any assurance or pledge for the future; but he should not be doing his duty to his constituents, if he had allowed that opportunity to pass without pressing such important matters on the attention of the Government. If the deficiency of labour in the West Indies were urged as the ground of monopoly in their favour, then he wished to ask of the Government what steps had been taken to bring about the immigration of labour into the West Indian Colonies? He observed, that the Colonial Assemblies had charged their revenue with a certain amount to pay the interest upon a loan, which it was understood the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had promised the Colonial Governors should be raised on the security of the Colonial revenue, backed also by the guarantee of the Home Government. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies could inform him whether anything had been done in reference to this matter. The despatches of the noble Lord had been before the public some time, and it was expected that the attention of Parliament would have been called to the consideration of the policy of raising a sum of money on the security of the Home Government for the purpose of promoting immigration into the West Indian Colonies. He would, however, upon that occasion, give no opinion as to the policy of such immigration.

Mr. G. W. Hope

said, that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had stated, in the despatches to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, that on pressing representations from the West India Colonies, he should not object to the passing of Loan Ordinances, if they deemed them advisable. Those Ordinances had been passed in two or three of the Colonies, whilst others had taken the necessary means of providing for such immigration without resorting to Loan Ordinances.

Sir R. Peel

said, he had stated at an early period of the Session, that Plenipotentiaries had been appointed by the Brazilian Government, for the purpose of negotiating such a Treaty as that to which the hon. Gentleman had referred. It was a Treaty not for a tariff, but for giving to British subjects the same privileges as the subjects of other countries possessed. The proceedings, however, of those Plenipotentiaries, unlike the conduct of the Brazilian Government in general, had been very dilatory. In the last accounts from the Brazils, it was stated, that a change had taken place in the Government, and that the Gentleman who was Secretary of State, under whose orders that negotiation was conducted, had been recently moved from that office; and that might, perhaps, have caused the delay. The hon. Gentleman had also referred to the imposition by the Government of the Brazils of an additional duty upon certain British manufactures. He could only say, that, unless the account of the hon. Gentleman had been received within the last few days, he did not think that such was the case; for, although the Minister at the Court of the Brazils had at a recent period written on other subjects, he had not alluded in the most distant manner to any such additional duty having been imposed.

Subject at an end.