HC Deb 05 March 1845 vol 78 cc322-3
Mr. Thornely

I wish to repeat the question which I put yesterday to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. I yesterday stated that a quantity of sugar had reached this country from the United States, which was notoriously the produce of slave labour. The question which I then put has become of more importance, because to-day I rind that samples have arrived of cargoes of two or three shipments from New Orleans. The question wish to put is this, whether this sugar, the produce of Louisiana, and therefore the produce of slave labour, will be admitted at the same rate of duty as sugar from China, Java, and Manilla, which is considered the produce of free labour?

Sir Robert Peel

There are certain countries—the United States being one of them—where sugar is produced by the labour of slaves. The United States, and one or two other countries, have concluded Reciprocity Treaties with this country, which Treaties stipulate that the produce of such countries shall be admitted into this country on the footing of the most favoured nation. That, I apprehend, is the state of the case. But, up to this hour, there has been no official information received by Her Majesty's Government, from the Custom-house, with respect to the arrival of this shipment of sugar, nor has any communication been made to the Treasury Board upon the subject, nor any application for an Order in Council which would be necessary before the sugar could be admitted. At present, I apprehend that the sugar could not be admissible, for no Order in Council has been issued for its admission from the United States. At the same time I have no hesitation in saying that my construction of the Treaty is, that sugar from the United States would, under the Reciprocity Treaties, be admissible on the same terms and footing as sugar from Java, Manilla, and China.

Mr. Thornely

had heard the answer of the right hon. Gentleman with great satisfaction. He begged simply to state that the produce of sugar in Louisiana was such as would give great profit on its exportation to this country, and that there was every reason to believe the new trade would be carried on to a very considerable extent.

Mr. Ewart

said, there was another question connected with this subject, which he was anxious to have answered. He wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet was aware that all the sugar coming from Louisiana was brown Muscovado sugar, and, therefore, would come into this country at the duty of 23s., and not at 28s.? So that, in fact, this slave-grown sugar of the United States would be imported at a lower duty than the free-labour sugar of Java, Siam, and Manilla.

Sir R. Peel

declined entering into any argument upon the subject at present.