§ House in Committee on the Customs' Acts.
§ Sir G. Clerk
moved the following Resolution:—Resolved—That the Duties of Customs chargeable upon the Goods, Wares, and Merchandize hereafter mentioned, imported into the United Kingdom, shall cease and determine:—
From and after the 1st day of June 1845:—
- Greaves for dogs, and Tallow Greaves
- Hides, not tanned, tawed, curried, or in any way dressed, dry and wet
- —or pieces of Hides, raw or undressed, and unenumerated
- —Tails, Buffalo, Bull, Cow, or Ox
- —tanned, not otherwise dressed
- Oil, Animal Oil
- —Lard Oil
- Seed, Poppy
- Silk, thrown, not dyed
- Stone in Blocks, shaped or rough scalped.
- Seeds, Beans, Kidney or French
§ Mr. Bramston
rose, pursuant to notice, to move that the word "grease" be omitted. The question whether an article 1162 was declared butter or grease, on entering from abroad, depended altogether on the Custom-house officer's fancy, and the article was entered in whatever name he determined. They all knew that when articles were admitted duty free, they passed the Customs with the least possible examination; and, therefore, he thought they were bound to look carefully to this proposition to take off the duty on grease, because under it there might be introduced a considerable quantity of butter, which would either come in duty free, or at a very small duty. He believed there was at present a duty of 21s. on the importation of butter; but if grease were admitted, butter, under the name of grease, might be admitted duty free, thus causing a considerable diminution in the protection hitherto enjoyed by the British farmer. He would, therefore, move that the article grease be omitted from the Tariff, and if he found a seconder he would go to a division.
§ Sir G. Clerk
regretted that his hon. Friend had thought it necessary to object to the removal of the duty on this article, and the grounds on which he had done so. He was certain that the hon. Gentleman could not be aware of the facts of the case, or he would have known that the admission of this article was a great boon to agriculture. In the language of the Custom-house grease meant butter that had been damaged, which was unfit for human food. [Lord Howick: Hear.] He did not know what was meant by the cheer of the noble Lord. Connected with Northumberland, the noble Lord must be aware of the value of the article. To prevent this article from being used by fraudulent dealers and sold for butter, there was a quantity of tar mixed with it. If hon. Members opposite thought it would be for the benefit of the people of this country that butter which was unfit for human food should be sold as butter by fraudulent dealers, he must say that he could not enter into their feelings. The article was chiefly used for the smearing of sheep, and it was imported into the northern ports of the kingdom, where it was largely used by the sheep farmers on the Cheviots and the Grampians to preserve their sheep from being injured by the cold and wet to which they were exposed on the hills. The hon. Member stated his fears that the article would 1163 come into competition with butter; but he could assure him, from the precautions taken at the Custom-house, to prevent an article which was otherwise unfit for human food from being sold by fraudulent dealers to the poor as butter—there was no danger that butter could come in under this arrangement. He thought that butter, which was a perishable article, ought to be allowed to find a vent in this way when it was damaged, and that no disadvantages would accrue to the English farmer.
§ On the Question that the word "grease" stand part of the Resolution,
§ Mr. Ward
said, nothing could be more delightful — nothing more successful—than the arguments of the right hon. Vice President of the Board of Trade. They on his side of the House had cheered the superfluity of his proofs that there was no possibility of butter coming in. If it was fit for food—if there was any chance of it increasing the comforts of the poor man—the right hon. Gentleman showed that he would take good care to exclude it. That was the point they cheered; and the hon. Gentleman had gone on reasoning and arguing, quite unconscious of the cause of their somewhat noisy approbation. He besought the hon. Gentleman—not as a free trader, in which capacity he knew he should not be listened to, but as connected with land, which he happened to be—to spare him in future the humiliation of such advocacy and such arguments. To argue for the monopoly of food as if England were the fee simple of the landholders, and to refuse to admit a grain of wheat or barley without their permission, why there was something grand, something noble in this; but to come forward with their paltry, nasty, dirty monopolies to insist upon butter being mixed with tar lest it should diminish the amount of their protection—this, instead of being according to the intelligence of the time, or the high spirit of the class who sought protection—instead of being like the old feudal Barons issuing from their castles and levying tolls and taxes from all foreigners—this was being nothing better than an area-sneak, the lowest creature of modern civilisation. That was the policy advocated by the agriculturists. He wished them joy of it. Any thing so fatal to the principle of protection as these dirty, petty pretensions, so wretched and miserable in their details, so impossible to go down with an intelligent 1164 class, as he believed the farmers were, he had never heard of; and he would not desire anything better, as a free trader, than that the hon. Gentleman should often favour them with such arguments in support of the great agricultural interest.
§ Mr. Borthwick
was not surprised that the hon. Member who had just sat down should congratulate the House, and especially his own side of it, upon the recent discussions; for, if anything was calculated to hasten the total abolition of the principle of protection, it was the last discussion of the question in this House. And this night, he supposed, there was to be another great stand-up fight—grease, tares, hides, lard, animal oil, hempseed, rosin, poppyseed, and seeds of all sorts or descriptions were to be prohibited to the English grower. It would be better to state fairly, and at once, that they would not permit him to purchase his seeds in the cheapest market; and that that was the kind of protection which they would afford to the agriculturist. The hon. Gentleman who moved to omit grease, told the House that he had not consulted any other Member as to his Motion. But the hon. Member forgot that the House was consulted about it yesternight, when they were told by the hon. Member for Somersetshire, who was the great champion of agriculture, that if they did not afford this opportunity for another great stand-up fight, he would then divide the House. The hon. Vice President of the Board of Trade said, that this was positively a boon to agriculture; and the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland would bear him witness that this was a great boon to the agriculturists, for without this article it would be impossible for the sheep farmer to preserve his flocks in winter, except at a greatly increased cost. And the hon. Gentleman who wishes it to be omitted, brings forward this extraordinary argument—he would not have grease admitted, because he was afraid of butter. He had no objection to grease in itself; he was too good an agriculturist not to know the value of this article, which was so much used in agriculture, and he believed for no other purpose whatever; but he was afraid of butter being imported under the disguise of grease. That might be a good argument for improving the machinery of the Custom-house; but it was none against the importation of the 1165 article, unless that he thought it likely that the people of England would prefer tar mixed with butter to the good pure Somersetshire butter. Let them see then how this question stood, and what were the merits of this great stand-up fight? They were told the other night, in language which they would not easily forget, what was the meaning of a Conservative Administration. He was sorry the hon. Gentleman who gave them that definition was not in his place to tell them what was the meaning of a Conservative Opposition. The hon. Gentleman had told them that the first was an organized hypocrisy. Now, there had been some complaint of a word used, he believed accidentally, at the beginning of the Session, by the hon. Member for Bath. He said that he could not see why the proud lords of acres should come to this House and whine for protection. That word had been repeated, he believed, as a quotation by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War; and then they found that considerable exception was taken to it, as if it were the deliberate opinion of that right hon. Gentleman with reference to the agriculturists. Now, let them compare the two cases. Let them read the reports which they had seen in the newspapers of agricultural meetings in Buckinghamshire and the other counties. They put him in mind of the celebrated scene in the Midsummer Night's Dream, where Bully Bottom and his associates were rehearsing the play which they were to represent before the Duke. Bully Bottom was anxious to play the lion, and he said, "Nay, I will roar you so, that it shall do any man's heart good to hear me. I will roar you so that the Duke shall cry, Let him roar again — let him roar again." The Duke did say, let them roar again, and accordingly roar again they did. But when they came to this House they found the hon. Member for Somersetshire, asking, on behalf of the agricultural interest, that 275,000l. a year should be transferred to the Consolidated Fund—a fund to which the farmer contributed, as well as other interests, from the county rates. 275,000l. asked for by an interest which paid 3,000,000l. of the Income Tax. They were, then, again, precisely in the same position as Bully Bottom, who, when told that if he roared so loud he would frighten the ladies, replied that he would roar as meek 1166 as any sucking dove, though they had roared so lustily in the country. They were told that they wished to benefit agriculture. Well, what was the way to do it? If they wished to benefit the agriculture of England, they would not find a certain number of Gentlemen dividing on these Motions against other Gentlemen who had all along supported the agricultural interest at large. He believed that the farmers were not to be so easily imposed upon. He believed that the farmers of England would easily see through the whole of this shallow—this most shallow—Parliamentary manœuvre. If these Gentlemen were in earnest—he did not mean to use the word offensively, or to impute improper motives to individuals—but if they were sincere in their opinions, this is what they should have done—they would have followed the hon. Member for Northamptonshire, who had on the Paper a Notice of Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport. That Notice was to move for a Committee to inquire into the existence of distress among the farmers, its causes, and its extent. Why did not the hon. Member for Somersetshire and the other hon. Members round him, support that Amendment? He would tell the House the reason why they did not. Because they knew that if they had done so, their numbers, united to the numbers of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, would have placed the Government whom they assisted to carry these measures, in a minority. That was the reason. He trusted it would go forth to the country that that was the reason. He trusted that some of the "sweet little cherubs that sat up aloft," and took care of these matters, would prove "birds of the air, and carry the matter." In his place in Parliament he felt bound to his constituents to say, that the reason why a division was not taken on the Motion of his hon. Friend—of whose desire to promote the best interests of agriculture there could be no doubt—was a fear that they would thereby put the Ministry into a minority; and if they had done so, they did not know how to extricate themselves from the difficulty, or how they would answer to the country for the serious evils they would thus have caused. The noble Lord was not prepared for such an emergency; hon. Gentlemen opposite were not prepared for it; for the Government was at present in the midst of a great financial experiment. When 1167 the right hon. Gentlemen asked these Gentlemen what proposition they had to make on behalf of agriculture, and stated that he was willing to hear them, and patiently to consider their proposition, it was found that they had no proposition whatever to make. Did any of these Gentlemen propose to repeal the Corn Law, and go back to the law of 1828? Not one of them made any such proposition. Did any of them wish to increase the amount of protection in any other shape? Not one of them. ["Question, question."] The hon. Member for Dorsetshire wished him to speak to the question. He would tell the hon. Gentleman what the question was, that he might know exactly the grounds on which he called question. The question was, that grease be omitted, and the hon. Member was about to support that Motion. [Mr. Bankes: I am not.] Well, the hon. Member said so the other night. [Mr. Bankes: I did not.] The hon. Member says that he did not say so. He begged his pardon. He thought that he said last night he would give it his support. The question was, then, that the duty on grease be retained for the advantage of the English farmer, and for fear that butter should be admitted instead of grease. On that question he was endeavouring to show to the country that all the propositions made on this question from this side of the House were altogether nugatory, useless, and ineffectual for the purpose for which they were intended. He would ask his hon. Friend below him (Mr. Bankes), who he believed was sincerely desirous to promote the interests of agriculture, whether he (Mr. Borthwick), and those who, like him, had been placed in a false position by the absurd Motion of the other night, had not a right to explain their position. He was put by that Motion in the position of affirming that the agricultural interest had not a right to a due consideration of their condition in the disposing of the surplus. [Cries of" "Question."] That was the grease question, and he said he had a right upon this question to show the consistency of those who said they were farmers' friends in that House, and who came forward in the character of farmers' friends to prevent the farmers from obtaining an article which was necessary to carry on their trade with advantage and benefit to themselves and the country. He did not think it was necessary to enter farther into this question—and he 1168 would not have entered into it so far if he had not been asked to define the question. He would only say, in reference to grease and the other articles objected to, that he did not believe a single farmer in England, if the whole number were polled, would agree to this Motion. Sooner or later, depend upon it, the farmers of England would be enlightened. They were vigilantly watching the proceedings of that House; and though they might be deceived for a time, they would at last find out the truth of the matter; and, acting upon their convictions, they would do their duty to the country as he thought they (the agricultural Members) had not done towards them.
§ Sir. J. Tyrell
said, as he was one of those who were instrumental in reserving this question and other articles for a separate discussion, he would not now shrink from the part he had taken. He regretted that the hon. Member for Somersetshire was not now in his place; but he was sure the House would sympathise with the reason when they were informed that it was owing to a domestic affliction—and, therefore he trusted no Gentleman would indulge in ill-timed remarks on his absence. With regard to the question now before the House, he for one would admit, frankly and fairly, that all the ostensible—all the clap-trap arguments used by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who called themselves, but in his opinion very improperly, free traders—he would admit once for all—that these arguments were in their favour. But still he would contend that the mass of the articles reserved for separate discussion, did, upon the whole, constitute a grievance—did upon the whole diminish the amount of protection which they were entitled to enjoy on account of the burdens which they were called to sustain. He regretted as much as any man that the time of the House should be occupied with trifling discussions; and if the sense of the House could be taken upon one or two of them, such as lard or tares, he should be satisfied, though he might regret that in that case the House would be deprived of the facetiousness of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that they would be prevented from making their happy hits. But he thought that would be better than to allow hon. Gentlemen to come forward now and make speeches which they intended to make the other night. The hon. Member (Mr. Borthwick) 1169 had become inflated like a little balloon, and he had made an explosion in their rear—but the visible effects, he thought, would easily be got over. But he wished to adhere stoutly to the question. It was admitted on the other side that great quantities of lard were expected to be imported from America. Now, he frankly admitted that that was what they expected. At the opening of the Session the hon. Mover of the Address stated that pig-iron had risen considerably in price, and the right hon. Baronet congratulated the country that pig-meat had been lowered 1½d. per lb. If pig-iron had risen, was pig-meat or lard to be lowered? He did not think that that was a fair conclusion to come to. He lamented that there was less consumption in the House than there was a few years ago of Conservative arguments generally—and he could assure the House that he did not mean to inflict these arguments upon them now; there would be many other occasions of doing so. At present he would be content if an understanding could be come to, which he admitted was difficult, that the sense of the House should be taken upon one of these articles, which would save the speeches of many hon. Gentlemen.
§ Mr. Bright
said, the hon. Baronet who had just sat down had spoken in a tone of lamentation; and he deplored with him the great depression into which the interest he represented had sunk, when even the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Borthwick) had the courage to attack it with so little mercy as he had shown tonight. The hon. Gentleman had, however, thrown his shield over Her Majesty's Government, and that with so much earnestness, that he trusted they would appreciate his services. He had heard of persons being visited with the tender mercies of the Attorney and Solicitor General, on the charge of bringing the Government into contempt; but in his opinion nothing out of doors could tend so much to bring the Government and the Parliament into contempt as the extraordinary arguments which had been used in recent discussions. In another place—which he supposed he was not at liberty to allude to more particularly—there was one illustrious individual who had openly and publicly taken to himself the title of the coroneted fishmonger. Another hon. Gentleman came there manifesting a great concern for butter; another 1170 for lard; and another came representing the willow interest. The hon. Gentleman was one, who, from other circumstances, he did not suppose could descend to such matter-of-fact questions as the growth of willows and osiers—but he understood that that hon. Gentleman had an intimate knowledge of the willow trade, as upon his estates there were seventy or eighty acres constantly used to grow willows and osiers. This might be true, or it might not; but, at any rate, there were rumours abroad to that effect. Now, he considered it was not a desirable thing that hon. Members should thus come forward and defend their own personal or family interests. He took it that this was strictly the question; for he wished that the honour of the Government and of that House should be maintained; and he was sure that if the time of the House was to be occupied with personal interests, instead of national ones, they could not retain public respect. Upon the particular question now before them, he believed there could not be two opinions. He believed the agriculturists were wholly mistaken in objecting to the introduction of this article—that they were standing in their own light, as they had often done before. But why should they object to a little butter coming in? It appeared as if the agriculturists were there to maintain a sort of bread and butter interest. It should be remembered that other people had cupboards as well as the hon. Member for Essex and his colleagues; and there were many people in his part of the country who had cupboards with very little in them. He protested against this interference with the comforts of the poor man—this refusing him even the advantage of a little butter, for fear of injuring the profits of the land. He would give the hon. Baronet a piece of advice. He seemed to be in a resigned state of mind. He admitted that the Conservatives, or as he (Mr. Bright) would call them, the Corre-servatives—were not rising in the opinion of the House. He would then advise the hon. Baronet to assist the Government in every step they might take to carry out freedom of trade; as they might rely upon it that, unless trade were made free, the hon. Baronet and his Friends would find it very inconvenient to provide for the increasing population and the increasing pauperism of the country. He would state further to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, that he did not take all the means he might to instruct the Members of 1171 the House. Any arguments coming from him, or from hon. Members connected with the League, would not be listened to, as coming from enemies. But the right hon. Baronet was a friend to agriculture. He had been brought up among the agriculturists. The exertions of that powerful class had placed him in his present high position; and therefore arguments coming from him would be received rather than rejected by the agricultural body. If the right hon. Baronet would carry out his arguments with vigour, and the hon. Members opposite would bring their agricultural minds assiduously to bear upon it, he hoped that, before many years went round, this question, which now involved them in endless and most ignoble strife, would be brought to a conclusion creditable to the character of the House, and advantageous to the country.
§ Mr. Monckton Milnes
could not compete with the hon. Member for Durham in the fine humour with which he had tessellated his speech; but he would say, as the hon. Member had chosen to make a peculiar allusion to him in a matter which he had the other night suggested to the House, that it was not the habit of Members on this side of the House to reprove hon. Members on the other side, when a Motion connected with the manufacturing interest was brought on, that, from the habits of their life, they had every chance of knowing something about the matter. He did not think that he was subject to any great reproof, because he had ventured to bring forward the question of willows, not too prominently, or with undue importance, simply because he happened to know something about the process, the history and the effects of their cultivation. He did not think it was impertinent in any Member of the House to bring before them matters which they might call matters of detail, but which involved the interests of thousands of their fellow-subjects. What was the question before the House at the present moment? The question was, that the Government should be allowed to introduce a certain article free of duty. Hon. Members did not object to the article itself coming; but they objected to another article coming in under its guise, the production of which gave employment to a great number of persons in the grazing counties. The question before them was simply one of fact; and he thought from what had been stated by the hon. the Vice President of the Board of Trade, that 1172 there could be no cause for the apprehensions of hon. Gentlemen. He, therefore, had no doubt that the hon. Mover would give up his proposition if the hon. Gentleman believed the statement of the Vice President of the Board of Trade. But the hon. Member for Sheffield had asked, would they deprive the poor man of a little butter coming in under the head of grease? He would tell him, in reply, that if they thought it right to introduce butter, they would not have recourse to a subterfuge, but they would say at once that they thought the English people had a right to the use of that article. [Mr. Ward: Well, why not say so?] That was a totally different question; but he insisted that Gentlemen ought not to seek popularity and throw obloquy on other parties, by saying that they would not admit one article under the guise of another. All he wished was, that the Tariff should be carried out in the fair and liberal spirit in which the Government proposed it.
§ Mr. Aglionby
would suggest to the House that it was neither expedient nor just that these personalities should continue. He took the questions as they came before him. He did not ask if they were brought forward by one class or another. He dealt with the articles on their own merits. He was very desirous that the Tariff should pass, and he would in-treat hon. Gentlemen not to throw impediments in the way. If he had constituents who were interested in the question, he would willingly consult their interests as far as was consistent with the interest of the public at large; but in all questions of a general nature he should only consider the general good. The Motion of the one hon. Member for Essex and the observations of the other seemed to him to be somewhat like a schism in the agricultural interest. The agriculturists in the northern parts of England and in Scotland, would receive a direct and immediate benefit from the reduction of duty in the article under discussion. Some sheep farmers in these districts expended from 300l. to 400l. a-year in grease for their stocks; and these would receive a correspondent advantage from the proposition of the Government. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Member would not press his Motion to a division.
§ Mr. Ewart
begged to correct an error into which the Vice President of the Board of Trade had fallen with respect to butter converted into grease in order to evade the duty. He could assure the 1173 House that butter which would otherwise be made the food of the people, was converted into grease, and sold as such, because the duty on grease was so much lower than the duly on butter from foreign countries. The effect of this was that the butter in the shape of grease was sent to the agricultural districts, to be used for the purposes of agriculture, whilst the people were deprived of the advantage of its use as an article of food.
was not about to defend the agricultural interest, but he could not avoid saying that in this case a portion of that interest had been very ill used. It seemed to him that the Member for Essex had as good a right to object to the repeal of the duty on grease, as any other agricultural Member had to object to the repeal of the duty on other produce. If the House recognised the principle or protecting agricultural produce for the purpose of raising its price, why should not the hon. Member (Mr. Bramston) claim that advantage for grease? The hon. Member for Essex represented the grease interest as others represented the corn interest, and fully bore out the statement of the hon. Member for Stockport, that one of the greatest absurdities connected with the protective system was the protection amongst the agriculturists themselves of one county against another. They were divided when they were robbing each other, and they were united again only when they were protected, or, to use a coarser expression, all robbing the public together. In the present case, the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Aglionby) stated that he was an agriculturist, and that he had a great number of sheep which he wanted to grease, of course it was therefore important to him to have grease cheap; whilst, on the other hand, the hon. Member for Essex, who was also an agriculturist, who did not live in Cumberland, and had no sheep to grease, but had grease to sell, was desirous that there should be a good price for grease. They both represented branches of the agricultural interest—sheep and grease; and the representative of the sheep interest pressed the representative of the grease interest not to divide, as he was desirous that 1174 grease should be cheap. He should defend the interests of grease from being attacked in particular, unless the whole system of protection was equally exposed to attack. The whole system of protection, or of robbing other portions of the public, if they were to use a coarser expression, was the same; and if one portion of the agricultural interest were entitled to it, he did not see why any portion should be excluded from the advantages. He would therefore advise the hon. Member to take the sense or rather nonsense of the House on the subject.
Sir W. James
said, that hon. Gentlemen had of late been in the habit of giving the names of certain dramatic characters to one another; the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, for instance, had designated the Prime Minister as the political Petruchio, and another hon. Member had given a name to the hon. Member for Montrose. As that was the practice, he (Sir W. James) suggested that hon. Members opposite attempting to stand between the two parties in that House, were something like Captain Macheath between his two charmers in the Beggars' Opera. They said first to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government—"My dear Polly, you know all your affections are with us." The words were those of the hon. Member for Stockport—" We know you are a free trader—all we want is for you to go a little way further with us; and then the country will be governed in the best possible manner." They then addressed the agriculturists, and said, "My dear Lucy, at all events, we have this in common with you. We are both farmers' friends, and we are no politicians." If hon. Gentlemen made these distinct addresses at different times to the different parties, they might perhaps have succeeded; but they failed because they made them both at the same time. In spite, however, of the delusive words of the hon. Gentleman, he was quite satisfied that a division would show them that the Conservative party was as united as ever it had been. He was of opinion that the changes proposed by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government were all for the better; but, nevertheless, he also thought that he was rather hard upon petty interests, and should much prefer to see him make progress with those which were of a greater nature. He (Sir W. James) should not, therefore, vote against his right hon. 1175 Friend's proposition in regard to the Motion before the House, because he believed his right hon. Friend to be essentially the person to govern this country, and because he believed he was fully justified in what he had done in the matter.
§ Mr. Aglionby
explained: He had no objection to any hon. Member becoming jocose, particularly when it was done in perfectly good humour; but they had a character to sustain with the public, as well as with themselves, and he therefore did not choose that any hon. Member should misrepresent what he (Mr. Aglionby,) had said in that House. He had been represented as if he had said that either he, or some one connected with him, or for whom he had been interested, had a great desire to have grease at a cheap rate, and that therefore he wished the hon. Member for Essex to withdraw his Motion. He (Mr. Aglionby) had never said a word to that effect; and he never recommended the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion. He said the hon. Member for Essex mistook, if he supposed that it was a one-sided question which was involved in that Motion, and that all farmers would be equally benefited if his proposition were carried. He (Mr. Aglionby) was a landowner, but he had always supported the views of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, instead of maintaining the pettifogging interests of the farmers against the public at large.
§ Mr. Cobden
thought he ought to divide the House on the subject, if it were only for the satisfaction of other Members.
§ Motion withdrawn; and the word "grease" was ordered to stand part of the Resolution.
§ On the Question that the words "hides tanned, not otherwise dressed," stand part of the Resolution,
§ Mr. Serjeant Murphy
said, that the question before the Committee was one in which his constituents were very much interested. There were no less than fifty tan yards in Cork, and he understood that those engaged in that branch of trade would suffer very considerably in their interests by the removal of the duty from tanned hides. He had been instructed that the manufacturers of leather in this country obtained no equivalent in the 1176 Tariff for the advantage which it was thus proposed to give to foreign manufacturers of leather by the abolition of the protecting duty of 2d. per lb. on tanned hides. The tanners stated, that large quantities of leather had been introduced into this country in consequence of the changes in the Tariff which had been already made with respect to hides; and, therefore, they anticipated a very great increase in the importation if further advantages were given to the manufacturers of leather in foreign countries. He thought the Government ought to take these statements into consideration; and if they found it necessary to take off the protecting duty of 2d., they ought, at least, to postpone carrying it into effect for some further time, in consequence of the peculiar circumstances affecting that trade. Foreign manufacturers of leather had great advantages over the British manufacturers. The American manufacturer had bark without any expense, unless that which was caused by stripping it from the tree; and the Belgian manufacturer had labour so much cheaper than the British manufacturer, that he had great advantages in that respect. In addition to this, the freights from Cork to London were as high as those from Antwerp. He thought that there were circumstances affecting this trade which, if they were not sufficient to prevent the right hon. Baronet from removing the protecting duty at present on tanned hides, ought at least to induce him to postpone the operation of the Resolution for such a period as would enable the manufacturers to dispose of the stocks which were manufactured, or in process of manufacture, under the existing system.
recognised in the arguments of the hon. and learned Member an old friend. The same statements he had heard made in 1842 with greater force and plausibility in respect to the supply from the River Plate. He was sorry that a discussion should take place on that point; but having taken place, it behoved them to deal with it in the usual manner. It appeared, on the whole, most desirable to try the experiment of admitting a large number of articles in a raw state, or the next state to it, without any duty, for the benefit of trade. The question that then presented itself for solution was, whether or not the article before the House was one of them. On the ground of consistency, as well as on the ground of principle, he 1177 thought it should be included in the list of exemptions; although he would not, on the former ground, say, that, should good and sufficient reasons be assigned, the subject might not be further considered. These reasons, however, had not been adduced. It was only the other night that dressed skins were admitted without the slightest opposition; and raw hides had just been exempted from duty. All the articles used in the process of tanning were now free; and the tanner was able to compete with the foreign tanner in every particular. Hon. Members might speak of Belgium or the United States; there was no country in the world where there existed a larger or a cheaper choice of tanning stuff than was now to be found in this country. In 1842, total ruin was predicted to the tanning trade by those engaged in it, because an amount of duty not less than 4d. per lb., and which varied up to 10d., was removed; but what was the consequence of that removal? In the first year which succeeded it, 55,000lbs. of tanned leather were introduced to this country; while in the second year there were only 30,000lbs. It was clear, therefore, that the foreign tanner, having tried competition, could not stand it any longer. But to see the case fairly, the importation of foreign raw hides should be looked at. Since 1842 that importation had increased to the extent of 2,000 cwt.; while that of tanned leather had decreased about 1,500 cwt. Under these circumstances, he considered that the article in question fairly entered into the class of exemptions from duty; because, although it might even be cut up and made into shoes, it came completely within the principle of the Tariff. He, therefore, submitted that there was no ground for the objection of the hon. and learned Member for Cork.
§ Mr. Aglionby
said, it had been represented to him that the hides included in this Resolution were a manufactured article in an advanced state; and were, therefore, not within the principle recognised in the Tariff. If they were a manufactured article, he would ask, ought they to be included in the principle applied to raw material, or material in an early stage of manufacture; and if they were not a manufactured article, and were properly within the principle of the Tariff, he would ask the Government to consider whether they ought not to allow to the manufacturers some time to dispose of their stocks?
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that Her Majesty's Government had shown no alacrity in yielding to the demands on the part of the holders of sugar in favour of the stocks on hand; and it was, in fact, rather the House of Commons than the Government that had yielded. He hoped, however, that the House of Commons would not adopt the same course with respect to leather. If they applied the principle to leather in this case, they had better at once proclaim the principle that Parliament could not deal with any Customs article without allowing compensation for the stocks on hand. There was a very formidable interest opposed to this proposition; and on that day he had the satisfaction of meeting a most respectable deputation from Liverpool on the subject. The deputation showed him specimens of English and Foreign tanned leather; and an inspection of those specimens at once convinced him that the English manufacturer had nothing whatever to dread from the competition of the Foreign manufacturer; for anything more superior than the English over the Foreign tanned leather he had never seen. Of all the trades which had been benefited by the removal of the duties on raw materials, none had derived greater advantage from the change than the leather manufacture. In 1843 and 1844, as compared with 1841 and 1842, the tanning trade received an advantage to the amount of 100,000l. by the removal of duties from articles which were used in the tanning process. The removal of the duty on raw hides, and on bark, was of great advantage to the British manufacturer. Bark might be obtained from any country under the existing system by the British manufacturers; and he had the command of a complete supply of undressed hides. On the whole, he hoped the House would not consider that the Government were exposing the domestic manufacture of leather to any injury, by proposing to permit a free importation of tanned hides. He had the strongest conviction that this country would be fully able to compete with all others in that article.
§ Viscount Howick
concurred in the views expressed by the right hon. Baronet. He thought a special case had been made out with respect to sugar, which did not apply to leather, and that there was no ground whatever for asking for a drawback in this instance. He had never heard a case for 1179 protection brought forward by a gentleman who declared himself to be an advocate of free trade on less substantial grounds; and he very much regretted that Gentlemen who brought forward great questions, and maintained them upon that principle, should, the very moment that their own constituents were affected on some little trifling article, or were acted upon by a fear of foreign competition, which he believed to be altogether visionary, come forward and ask for protection. For his own part, whether it was the landed interest to which he belonged, or the interest of his constituents—whatever interest was affected—he would in all cases, and under all circumstances, support every proposal that might be made for the removal of protection; and he was sorry that Gentlemen who agreed with him in that policy should appear to be giving way to the old taunt of Mr. Huskisson—that every man in this country was for free trade except in those articles which he produced himself. He had hoped that we had got beyond that, and that the traders of the country especially would not ask for protection themselves, when they wished to take it away from others. The only way to assert the principle of free trade effectually was to show a proper consistency, and not to make these little exceptions. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that this country would be able to compete with all other countries in tanned leather. There was a curious instance of the mischief which nations did to each other by these restrictions upon free intercourse. He found that one of the countries to which the hon. and learned Member for Cork referred as those whose competition was most to be feared—one of those countries itself imposed a protecting duty upon tanned hides. It was curious that one of the petitions which had been presented prayed the House not to agree to take off the protecting duty, because (he confessed he did not understand the force of the reasoning)—because other nations found it necessary to have protection, and the Belgian tanners had a duty of threepence per pound for their protection. So that it appeared the Belgian tanner was as much afraid of the English tanner, as the English was of the Belgian. So it was in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred; and if we would approach these questions, not in this miserable and antisocial spirit, but in a more enlarged and 1180 generous one, we should find that the industry of this country had nothing to fear from foreigners, nor that of other countries from us; but that, on the contrary, every facility that was given for mutual exchange would add to the comforts of all.
§ Dr. Bowring
said, there was no article of production in which the superiority of this country was more striking than leather. There was no country in which its superiority was not recognised; and being relieved from the disadvantages under which it had heretofore laboured, there could be no doubt it would acquire an unprecedented improvement.
§ Sir G. Grey
said, he was glad that this discussion had taken place, as he thought it would convince those who were concerned that their interests would not be prejudiced.
§ The Committee divided on the Question that the words stand part of the Resolution:—Ayes 73; Noes 27: Majority 46.
|List of the AYES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Aldam, W.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Baillie, Col.||Guest, Sir J.|
|Baring, rt. hn. F. T.||Hawes, B.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Hindley, C.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Howick, Visct.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Borthwick, P.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Botfield, B.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Legh, G. C.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Lockhart, W.|
|Bright, J.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Buller, E.||Marsham, Visct.|
|Busfeild, W.||Marsland, H.|
|Cardwell, E.||Martin, C. W.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Cobden, R.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Collett, W. R.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Cripps, W.||Peel, J.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Entwisle, W.||Polhill, F.|
|Escott, B.||Pringle, A.|
|Ewart, W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Forman, T. S.||Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.|
|Forster, M.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Stewart, J.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Strutt, E.|
|Sutton, hon. H. M.||Williams, W.|
|Tennent, J. E.||Wood, Col.|
|Thornely, T.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Tufnell, H.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Villiers, hon. C.||TELLERS.|
|Ward, H. G.||Baring, H.|
|Wellesley, Lord C.||Young, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Antrobus, E.||Grogan, E.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Arkwright, G.||Kemble, H.|
|Bankes, G.||Long, W.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Neeld, J.|
|Benbow, J.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Bowes, J.||Palmer, R.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Pusey, P.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Tollemache, J.|
|Darby, G.||Tower, C.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||TELLERS.|
|Egerton, W. T.||O'Brien, S.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
§ Words agreed to.
§ On the Question that the word "lard" stand part of the Resolution,
§ Mr. Grogan
moved that lard be omitted. The hon. Gentleman dwelt upon the injury that would be inflicted by the introduction of Foreign lard upon the poor Irish peasant whose subsistence mainly depended upon the breeding of pigs.
§ Sir G. Clerk
said, that no case could be made out for the retention of the small duty upon lard. This article was acquiring additional importance from its conversion into oil, useful for application to the finest descriptions of machinery, and as that oil was produced in much greater purity in this country than as imported, it was of great importance to allow of its importation free from the 2s. duty. And by what had already occurred, it was proved that this could be done without injury to any class.
§ Mr. Gibson
thought that when so much sympathy was expressed for the breeders of pigs, there ought to be some felt for the consumers of what came from pigs, and if there were many poor persons who kept pigs, it should be recollected that there were also many who did not. He should vote for the remission of the duty.
§ Mr. Newdegate
would advise hon. Gentlemen opposite to abandon the tone in which they frequently indulged towards the agricultural classes. He could tell them that whilst such a tone did little to advance their purposes, it went far to 1182 expose those hon. Gentlemen to the disgust and reprobation of the country.
§ Colonel Wyndham
intended to speak openly and plainly, and the House, he was sure, would indulge him in so doing, as it was not very often that he occupied their attention. In 1841, the manufacturing Members as he had before described them to be, were like jacks in the box, continually jumping up and down in their places, and presenting themselves to the disgust and ridicule of the country; and be was now sorry to see his agricultural friends following their example. He did not hesitate to tell the House that the agricultural interest would profit by the measures of the right hon. Baronet. When the right hon. Baronet brought these measures forward, his ultra friends on that side of the House clamoured out, "What was there for us?" He then undertook to say to them, "Gentlemen, there is nothing for you." They had a Protection Society in Bond Street, at which noblemen, gentlemen, and farmers attended, and that society issued its dictates to the minor associations in the country, and those minor associations took it upon themselves—and he considered that in so doing they took a great liberty—to dictate to Representatives of constituencies in Parliament. He himself was a staunch friend to the farmer. He was favourable to protection, nor would he abate in the least degree his zeal for the agricultural interest, which he thought should be protected; but he begged the House to understand that he was not one of those ultra gentlemen of whom he had just spoken. Could it be supposed, he would, ask, that a farmer, entirely occupied as he generally was with his fields, his crops, his sheep, and his calves, could have a comprehensive view of the state of affairs, or of what was fitting to be done for the country? He would tell the House and the country that he held his opinions free and unfettered, and that he would not vote for any man, or for any measure at the dictation of any one. He had been in that House since 1841, and considered that he had done his duty as a Member of that House. [Mr. Cobden and others: Hear, hear.] He begged the hon. Gentlemen opposite to bear in mind that he was not now speaking to them. He had done his duty in that House, and when his constituents found fault with him for the course he had chosen to pursue, 1183 he would then be ready to put the representation once more into their hands. He begged this, however, to be distinctly understood, that never while he continued to hold a seat in that hon. House, would he suffer himself to be dictated to by the Protection Society in Bond Street, or by any agricultural society. Just let the House analyse for a moment the Bond Street Protection Society. It consisted only of a number of country gentlemen, and was also patronized by a number of Members of Parliament; it had besides many noblemen enrolled amongst its Members, and in its ranks were to be seen men of the highest rank and station in the country. Assembled in conclave in Bond Street, they issued their mandates to the minor societies in the country, my lord duke all the time pulling the strings behind the scenes; and these minor societies, under the influence of these mandates, persecuted the Representatives of the people. It struck him that these gentlemen were something like Polyphemus, with but one eye in their heads; they seemed to see nothing but their turnip fields; they seemed to see nothing in the world but their own single interests. On the subject of land he would give his decided support to the Government. He trusted the House would excuse him for having so long occupied its attention.
§ Lord Arthur Lennox
would not have risen on that occasion to address the Committee, but for the statement which had been made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just taken his seat. He could not discover how it was that his hon. Friend could venture again to address his constituents, one of whom he (Lord A. Lennox) had the honour to be—having in the extraordinary speech which he had just made, asserted that the farmers of Sussex knew little of any matters but their turnips and their fields, and that they were not competent to form opinions upon matters which affected the well-being of the State. He was sure that his hon. and gallant Friend in using such terms, did not mean to insult the men to whom they referred. He thought, however, that if his hon. and gallant Friend went back again to that constituency, he was not very likely to be again returned.
§ Mr. Ward
I admired, in the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sussex, the kindness of soul, the excellence of 1184 judgment, and the perfect impartiality, with which his statement was characterised. As to the tone to be taken in these discussions, I beg to tell the hon. Gentlemen opposite, that I shall adopt what tone I please, compatible with the dignity attached to a Member of the House. I said before, and I repeat it, that I felt, and do feel, that it is a perfect degradation to the agricultural interest to have the time of the House taken up with these trifling, these little pettifogging pretensions of theirs, which are always standing in the way of every public improvement. I cannot understand how hon. Gentlemen have the courage—to use no other term—to rise in their places and urge such miserable and insignificant pretensions. What is the argument of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Grogan)? Put in plain terms, and it is simply Irish pigs versus the English people. The hon. Gentleman who brought it forward proved the immense consumption of lard in this country, and that it was shut out previous to 1841 by our improvident regulations. The increased and increasing consumption of this article in the country requires that more of it should be at the command of the consumer, and such is the purpose of the measure of the right hon. Baronet; and the hon. Member for Dublin now proposes to stand in the way of that measure. Many hon. Members, in supporting such trifling claims, do so as they aver, in accordance with letters received from their constituents upon the subject. I myself have received letters urging me to support particular claims to protection in this House. My reply to these was, that if those who dictated them wanted bread cheap they must get rid of such narrow pretensions; and such or some similar reply would I now urge some hon. Members opposite to make when they receive such instructions. I never curry favour with my constituents when I know them to be in the wrong. I believe with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Colonel Wyndham), that the agricultural classes will benefit largely by the proposed reduction of duties. I can hardly express my contempt—using that word as a Parliamentary phrase—my contempt for those who, entertaining, as they profess to do, a conviction that the measures of the Government are ruining the agriculturists, and that they are the cause of all the depression which has existed of late years in 1185 agricultural produce, come forward here, make a stand upon such little niggardly measures as they are now urging at the eleventh hour, instead of boldly advocating on the floor of this House what they are so ready to support, and so courageous in advocating, out of doors. If I thought as they do, or as they profess to do, I would insist to-morrow—and in this House, too, not down in the counties and at agricultural meetings, but openly on the floor of this House—for the repeal of the Corn Law of 1842, the repeal of the Canada Corn Bill, and, in short, for the repeal of the whole Tariff of the right hon. Baronet, of which they loudly complain everywhere but where they ought to complain of it, as having done them such irreparable injury. The little trifling proceedings and insignificant manœuvres with which they waste the time of this House only throw disgrace upon their cause, without in the least degree benefiting their interests. On this occasion their whole argument is, that we cannot permit lard to come free of duty into this country, because there is one country (the United States) which produces the article so good and so cheap, that no other country can compete with it. Now that is the very reason why we should admit it. To the peasantry of the country you cannot extend many greater boons than by extending the use of this article among them. I give my cordial assent to the Motion of the Government in reference to this article.
Sir J. Tyrrell
The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward) has now, this evening, made two vituperative speeches against the agricultural interest; and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers) thinks that he is on all occasions perfectly justified in imputing the basest and most interested motives to that interest. By that hon. Gentleman, and by other hon. Gentlemen beside him, the most unmeasured abuse is poured out upon us in this House night after night. I had not the honour of being present the other night to take a part in the debate introduced by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden). Had I been present I should have, in all probability, taken part in that debate. I thought that, at the early period of this evening, it was conceded, on all hands, that the question of principle was for the present to be sunk, and that such hon. Gentlemen as 1186 might address the House would confine themselves to the details of the measures now under consideration. But if Member after Member is to get up, and charge and insinuate the basest and most grovelling motives against the agricultural interest, I cannot and will not sit silent. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sussex has just made a speech which was, no doubt, exceedingly amusing to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and also to many hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. I was somewhat amused at it myself, and must confess that I should have felt the force of it much more if I had not had the pleasure of seeing some time ago the hon. and gallant Gentleman at the Freemasons'-tavern, and occupying a very conspicuous place at the table on that occasion, and apparently enjoying as much as any one present the meeting of which he formed a part. I can also, without a great stretch of memory, recollect him waiting upon the right hon. Baronet as a member of the Protection Society, at the head of which was the Duke of Buckingham. [Colonel Wyndham; I am not a Member now.] The hon. and gallant Gentleman was a Member, and it should be far from him to quarrel with any man for altering his opinion or dropping his connexions. I think, to say the least of it, there is some inconsistency in the position of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. But this is not, perhaps, to be so much wondered at, considering the many examples we now have of Gentlemen—looking at any bench in this House—wishing to have their own interests protected, whilst they profess astonishmen that others should entertain a similar desire. In my researches, and [turning directly to the Ministerial Bench] I have had occasion to look into the consistency of many gentlemen—what did I find? I found to my utter surprise that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who deals so largely in abuse of the agriculturists, for participating, as he says, in the public plunder, is in possession of a seat in that sink of iniquity—the Court of Chancery, and I believe he is a pluralist, and in possession of a large salary. I take the liberty of calling upon the hon. Gentleman to tell me—upon his own principles of free trade—if that seat, which is a sinecure—["Oh, oh"] well, I imagine it is a sinecure, because the hon. Gentleman has so much time to devote 1187 to, and actually occupies so much time in advocating, the principles of the Anti-Corn Law League—were put up to auction, would it not be found, in all probability, that on the principles of free trade the business of that office, which he now holds, would be performed as well for five hundred as for a thousand pounds? I therefore deprecate the idea of his imputing base and selfish motives to any class of the community. If I am to be abused for supporting protection to certain interests, I have a perfect right to look at the conduct and position of other Gentlemen when protection comes to their own neighbourhood. The right hon. Baronet has chosen to read his manifestoes to the Protection Society, and the hon. and gallant Member for Sussex has assailed it this evening. I consider that a protection society—a society instituted for the protection of agriculture—is, in itself, the greatest libel upon Conservative legislation and upon a Conservative Government. I will go one step further. The right hon. Baronet might have occupied himself as advantageously as he has done if he had looked a little more narrowly into the speeches of the hon. Member for Stockport, in which that hon. Gentleman freely acknowledges that very large sums were being spent for the purpose of displacing an ornament of this House, the Member for South Lancashire; and the Brights and the Cobdens are then to displace the Egertons. Such is the prospect to which we, of the agricultural interest, have to look forward. But I beg pardon for this discussion.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Essex, who has just sat down, says that he has listened twice to-night to vituperative attacks from an hon. Gentleman on this side of the House upon the agricultural interest. Now, I ask hon. Members present, which of them heard a single word in what had been said to-night to justify the words which the hon. Baronet has used, more especially toward myself? He says that charges have been made against him. I never imputed base motives to him, or to any interest with which he might be connected. I have stated freely and frequently what I conceive to be the pernicious effects of the law which the hon. Baronet, and hon. Gentlemen beside him, obstinately uphold. I state what I have before stated again, and the only answer I get from 1188 the hon. Baronet to my statement is, that he has poked about the Red Book to discover what place I held in the Court of Chancery. And that is your sole answer [addressing himself to the hon. Baronet] to the charge against you and your law. You must be reduced, indeed, to desperate shifts, if that is the only answer you have to give. Besides, in making your statement against me, you did not make it correctly. The place I hold is no sinecure. [Sir John Tyrell did not call it a sinecure.] You did not say that it was a sinecure? Then if it is not a sinecure, why should I not hold it? If you say it is a sinecure, I tell you it is not. I tell you that I am paid for the work I do; and tell you more, that you are not paid for the work you do. You come here to the House to get paid by the operation of iniquitous legislation. You come here to the House and pass laws to swell your own rents. I state these things as the effects of your law, and it is not my statement simply, but it is a statement supported by the highest authority. Your law is made—and you cannot deny it—for pecuniary objects; to support your younger children, and provide them with marriage portions. What do you do in return for all this? We pay your mortgages, and what do you give us in return? If you ask me what I do for what I receive, I can show it to you without hesitation; and I can tell you that you cannot get it done for less. You work not for what you receive; you inherit your property like many other fortunate accidents of society, never having to work for it in the least; and if you had the misfortune to lose it, your condition would be pitiable. The attack made upon me was no answer to the charge that we are aggrieved by the law to which I have alluded; and as between the hon. Baronet and myself to-night, I leave the House to decide which of us has made out the better defence.
Mr. Stafford O'Brien
If the question was only one of mere personality, I would not have risen on the present occasion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield says that he can hardly express his contempt for us interfering in these matters; and he used the word, as he admitted, in a Parliamentary sense, in which he was perfectly justified. He says that he totally differs from us, and that it is unworthy of our position, as the representatives of a great interest in this country, 1189 to enter at all into questions of such details. When the articles now before the House were enumerated on the morning of Tuesday, the hon. Member for Somerset, whom a family affliction detains from the House on this occasion, said that these articles, considered as a class, were of sufficient importance to postpone the discussion of them to a future night. The right hon. Baronet acquiesced in that proposition. The question between us and you is this. You say it is desirable for us, for this country—and I do not wish to state your views unfairly—that every thing should be obtained as cheaply as possible. You consider cheapness as the great question—the only question—which should enter into our consideration, when arranging the import duties. We, on the other hand, say that besides the question of the production of or the obtaining these articles cheaply, there are other questions which arise. These questions press, with more or less importance, upon different articles; and we consider these questions superior to the question of cheapness, and consider that they have a greater weight than the money, and we have a right to stand up for the principles which we profess, and claim for them as paramount the consideration of the Legislature. I maintain that it is not fair for you to say—especially it is not fair for you to urge, in the way you do, that the question is, with us, one of mere selfishness. You may regard it as a question of grease, or divi-divi, or whatever else you choose—you may regard it as insignificant if you like—but still the question returns, have we not a right to maintain that, under certain modifications, we do not consider it desirable for the country, as a whole, to be guided in the supply of provisions and manufactures, simply and purely by the question of cheapness alone? That is my conviction; and I believe I have not stated unfairly the opinions of hon. Members on the other side of the House. They have a perfect right to do so if they like; and there are very few Members in this House who know how to do it better—to throw all enunciations of our principles into subjects of laughter and ridicule; and no one does so with happier humour or keener wit than the hon. Member for Sheffield; and no one, he was happy in being able to say, does so with less personality. The hon. Baronet the Member for Essex alluded to the hon. 1190 and gallant Member for Sussex, and said that he was a Member of the Protection Society. I believe it was of the former Protection Society that he was a Member. [Sir John Tyrrell: The Duke of Buckingham's Protection Society.] I think it was; and that the present is known as the Duke of Richmond's Society. I believe the hon. and gallant Member for Sussex is not a Member of the present Protection Society. The hon. and gallant Gentleman alluded to the tone which this society has adopted, and was pleased to place it on a par with the Anti-Corn Law League in this country, and with Conciliation Hall in the sister kingdom. I have not much knowledge of the proceedings of the latter, and have no personal connexion whatever with the former. I have no means either of knowing what may have passed between the Sussex Protection Society and the hon. and gallant Gentleman who so worthily represents that community. I am sure that his character is of far too manly a cast for him to permit himself to be bullied or dictated to by any set of men. All I can say is, that if I found the society in London following the system, or indulging in the habit, of attempting to set constituencies against their Members, or attempting to dictate to Members in this House, I should be the first person to abandon the society. I would do so, not merely on the ground of public virtue and principle, but from the clearest views of my own interest. It would be perfectly obvious to me, if such were the case, that the bullying and dictation would extend itself to me, as a county Member; and, therefore, however desirable it might be to use the weapon towards others, I trust I should have the prudence to see that it would very soon recoil upon myself. I trust the hon. and gallant Member for Sussex will accept of this as an explanation on behalf of the Protection Society, with which I have the honour of being connected. I have no doubt but that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's constituents will duly appreciate and properly understand what he meant when he said that the farmer had no right to judge of matters of a public character, and affecting the interests of the community. The farmers of Sussex must understand what every practical man or farmer elsewhere is able to and will understand, that, while they are permitted to form their opinions 1191 on public questions and public men, we, at the same time, in this House, cannot be dictated to, or receive implicitly every suggestion which may emanate from them, as to the best means of carrying our common principles into effect. I have nothing more to add, except that I am exceedingly sorry at the turn which this discussion has taken, inasmuch as it mixes personal matters with public questions. If I went at present into the history of the Protection Society, I might say much that might amuse, but perhaps little that would instruct. I believe that that society, under proper guidance and management, is calculated to be useful, and might be made more useful; and, while I belong to it, I will make it my endeavour to prevent it from imitating, in any degree, what I consider the dangerous practices which have been adopted by another society to which my hon. and gallant Friend has alluded. If my hon. Friend the Member for Dublin will allow me to give him advice, I will say to him, that after his very explicit statement it will not be desirable to divide the House on this question. The sense of the House has already been taken on the question, and we have a right to infer that it is adverse to his Motion.
§ Mr. Cobden
I would not have said a word on this occasion had not the hon. Gentleman who just sat down undertaken to define the tenets and the principles of the free traders. He laid it down that we desired only to attain every commodity at the cheapest possible rate. We desire to obtain the greatest possible abundance of those commodities desirable for the sustenance of the people. If by cheapness the hon. Gentleman means abundance, then are we perfectly agreed. But if he puts any other construction on the word cheapness, then we are not agreed. I ask him then—if abundance is our object—what is his? I will tell him. It is his object to produce the greatest scarcity. ["No, no."] Well, you desire to produce dearness? ["No, no."] Then let us know what it is you want. Our object is abundance — as your object is scarcity. ["No, no."] Then is your object abundance? ["Yes, yes."] Yes! Then you cannot have abundance without having cheapness. In the old phraseology of your own political prayer book, abundance and cheapness are convertible terms. There is no way of making articles dear but by 1192 making produce scanty. What do you desire but to mae certain commodities scarce, in order that you may make them dear? Does it not show the iniquity of the system which you are unconsciously supporting, that you cannot face a definition of your own principles? I candidly admit that you are very much improving in your views and in your understanding of these questions. You have learnt more during the last two months than during the two previous years. And if I formed my judgment on no other ground, I could form it by marking the change which has taken place in the demeanour of Gentlemen opposite. I allude now more particularly to the bad humour manifested this evening by the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex. Never did the hon. Baronet make so pitiful an exhibition Nothing could be in worse taste than his unprovoked, his odious attack upon the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. Nothing but the absolute consciousness of a bad and sinking cause—nothing, in fact, but a fit of desperation, such as makes a man feel that he would rather be banged than get up to defend a bad cause, could have induced him to get up and say what he has said to-night in reference to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton. He has spoken of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, in connexion with the county of which I am a freeholder. Sir, he has said what is perfectly true of my hon. Friend; he can be the Representative of that county, if he chooses to be so: yes, and he would, too, be elected for that county solely on the ground of his being the consistent and old advocate of those very principles which hon. Gentlemen opposite now hardly dare to oppose. As to lard, the matter about which you are now discussing, it is an article of which it can hardly be said that it is for the benefit of the manufacturing operative that it should be cheap. As far as they are concerned, they do not use it as an article of food. The people that are in my employment can afford to buy butter: there is not one of them that has not from 12s. to 25s. a week. The very lowest amongst them gets 12s.; and they do not resort to lard—it is not they who eat lard; no, but the people who consume lard are those who live in cottages. The only modicum of comfort they have is this—it is the utmost that can be got by your own agricultural 1193 labourers. I can prove this—I can prove it by the Report of the Commissioners of the Government. The poor agricultural labourers use it with their potatoes; they put it in the frying-pan, for the purpose of having some sort of a relish with their food. They do so because they cannot afford to buy butter, or beef, or anything else that will give a relish to their wretched food. Is it not, then, pitiable—is it not, I say, deplorable—to see here Gentlemen, the owners of large estates, anxious to press hard upon the poor—the very poor that they see about them—by keeping out of the country that which the poorest amongst the poor are desirous to have? Here, now, you are for two months before the country; and you have in that time shown to the country that you have such a bad and desperate case, that no man of intellect dares to advocate that case; because no such man likes to be identified with a case and with principles that two years hence will be but as a matter of history. You are left, then, to whom—to defend you? To the hon. Member for Essex! and who, forgetting all his discretion, and at the expense of his good taste, resorted to the desperate expedient of making a personal attack upon the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. See, then, in what a situation you are placed! Why, I shall be stopped to-morrow, at the corner of every street, by persons congratulating me upon the figure which the agricultural Members have made in this discussion. After this, they will say, there must be an end to protection. Even the Prime Minister does not like to get up and defend it, though you are "whining" and entreating him to do so. He has not a word to say for you. I told you this once before. I said it when we were in a most desperate state in Stockport, and when I asked you to take pity on the people. I tell it to you now again—you do not get a farthing by this protection to which you cling; but even if you did get, ay, even thousands a year by it, still I would not, if I were in your case, sit under the load of obloquy which you are obliged to bear for it. See the obloquy to which you are exposed by it! You would be much richer without it; but if you made much by it, I tell you that you could give me no sum of money, you could give me no bribe, which would induce me to share it with you.
§ Mr. Darby
was sorry that the present 1194 discussion had taken such a turn, and he could assure the House that it was unpleasant to sit and hear the language of the hon. Member for Stockport, and of those who entertained his views. As far as he was concerned, he could assure that hon. Member that no obloquy of his would ever prevent him from discharging what he considered to be his duty to his constituents. The hon. Gentleman should not, however, lead him, on the present occasion, into a discussion on the Corn Laws; but the principle which they defended had not been recently laid down, nor had it been laid down for the first time by hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. Their principle was the principle which had been laid down and supported by Mr. Huskisson; and though the hon. Gentleman, from his remarks, evidently thought that his intellect was superior to that of any other man, yet the House would not be induced upon his own representation to believe that his authority was greater than Mr. Huskisson. But his principle had been, that though they should have corn at the cheapest rates at which it could be produced by their native producers, yet that they should protect those native producers to such an amount as would ensure them a remunerating price, considering the different position in which they stood to that of the foreign grower. Unfortunately he must say, that when any question was not considered to be an agricultural question, it was fairly discussed by all parties in the House; but when a question merely affecting the agricultural interests was brought forward, personalities were immediately indulged in, such as the hon. Member for Siockport had implied against the agricultural Members. It had been said that they need not oppose those articles, for they were of so petty a character; but the right hon. Baronet had told them the amount of duties which had been remitted upon agricultural articles, and therefore, though each article might appear petty in itself, the aggregate of all these articles became important. Despite, therefore, of the obloquy thrown upon him by the hon. Member for Stockport, he thought it his duty to discuss these articles, and he would discuss them. The question of lard was of considerable importance. It had been said that it was a raw material, and therefore they ought not to oppose a remission of the duty upon 1195 it; but the other night they had been told that cattle was a manufactured article; and, if cattle was so, surely the lard and the hides, which formed part of the cattle, must be manufactured articles also. To the manufacturing interests lard might be regarded as a raw material; but to the agriculturists it was a manufactured article. Those who produced it were the small farmers, making a small profit by their pigs. Now, if the profit obtained by the lard were taken away, the profit remaining from the pig would be small indeed, and the small farmer would be driven from the market. He thought that his hon. Friend had only done his duty in bringing forward the Motion, and be should have great pleasure in supporting him.
§ Sir R. Peel
I regret that so much warmth has been mixed up with this discussion, and I think that much injustice has been done to my hon. Friend who provoked, or rather originated, this debate. Under what circumstances did this discussion arise? It was half-past one o'clock before we entered upon the articles of the Tariff, and it could not be expected at that late hour of the night, that we should make much progress. Indeed, I cannot help thinking that we should not have been allowed so quietly to commence the Tariff at all, and certainly not to get so far forward in it, but for the low place which happens to be occupied by cotton. Cotton happens to be placed under the letter W, and, consequently, to my great satisfaction, we were permitted at once to go into Committee and to proceed quite as fast as you, Sir, could read the articles—and indeed, in many cases, much faster, for even your experience had not familiarised you with all the difficult words you there met with. As we approached towards wool the greater was the alacrity to proceed; but when the article "grease" came under consideration, my hon. Friends were naturally desirous to discuss the propriety of the remission. It was not likely that they would acquiesce in the vote without discussion, and I thought it quite reasonable that that and similar articles should be postponed. But I am sure there was no disposition shown on their part to stickle factiously at each article. They were naturally desirous to have a discussion upon all articles of the same character; and I think they pursued quite the wisest course in what they have 1196 done. That course has been in exact conformity with what has been used in the House of Commons. My opinion is, that there will be a great public advantage by the remission of the duty upon lard; and though the loss of revenue will, undoubtedly, be considerable, the benefit will compensate for that loss. But in the course my hon. Friends have taken, I cannot see they are justly obnoxious to any obloquy whatever. The proper principle on these points was laid down some time ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport. The right hon. Gentleman believed that a proposed remission of duty would affect the interests of his constituents; and he stated that he thought it due to them that a discussion should take place. The result of it was his conviction that the apprehensions of his constituents were unfounded, and he intimated that result to them. Such I believe to be the proper course—honourable to the individual and at the same time satisfactory to the constituents. If we said, upon any objection of this sort, "We really can have no discussion, we cannot hear a word," we should be much much less likely to have the acquiescence of the public to the removal of these duties. Let us have a short discussion, and that will give satisfaction to all parties. As to the present question, if I thought with my hon. Friend who brought forward the Motion, that the Irish peasant who keeps a few pigs would be seriously injured by this reduction, my satisfaction at the change would be greatly diminished; but I hope that despite the importation of foreign lard, the demand for his produce will remain unabated. I trust that the same result will follow this small change as followed the much more important alteration of 1842—that the consumers of the article will have a larger supply, but that the native producers will not be injured. But be this as it may, I see nothing at all objectionable in the course which has been pursued by my hon. Friend. If his duty to his constituents so prompt him, he will take the sense of the House upon his Motion. If not, he will be satisfied that a discussion on the point has taken place. But I regret that in that discussion any warmth has been introduced. It might have been carried on quite as well without any personality. The course, however, of my hon. Friend does not justly subject him to any obloquy whatever.
Lord J. Russell
I agree with the right hon. Baronet that nothing can be fairer than that the hon. Gentleman should have a discussion upon what he believes is of considerable interest to his constituents; and also I agree with him that it was impossible to make much progress in discussing the Tariff after half-past one in the morning. But with regard to this and similar articles it seems to be that the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite is not satisfactory. If hon. Gentlemen are bound by their duly to their constituents to discuss these questions—if that be true with regard to lard, why is it not also true with regard to other articles of agricultural produce? Why is it false with regard to others? or why should not hon Gentlemen consent to a diminution of protection—(I stop not to inquire what is protection or what is free trade)—with regard to large as well as with regard to these small commodities? I still think that there ought to be some candour to one's constituents in these matters. Undoubtedly, argument and authority are upon one side, but yet there are a great many people who say that the other is the right side. Well, then, let them fairly say so, and act up to it in all things; not merely with regard to lard or grease, but with regard to the higher and more important interests of the country. If you maintain protection, do not support those who remove it; but remember the counsel which the right hon. Gentleman gave to Mr. Handley in 1841:—If you think that protection is the wisest policy, and yet support the Government, you are acting like the policeman who sees a madman in the street brandishing a sword about on all sides, and yet does not rush forward to stop him and to prevent the injury he is sure to do.The agriculturists had two courses open to them. They ought either to say, "Protection is hopeless—we cannot obtain it—let us make the best arrangement we are able without it;" or they ought to say, "In our opinion protection is the best policy—we held by it when you were out of office, we will still hold by it when you are in office." Either one or other of these courses you ought in consistency to take; but do not, if you are merciful to your constituents, pretend to cling to protection, and yet allow the question to be given up in debate and to slip away from you inch by inch.
said, whatever might be the advice which the noble Lord addressed to those numerous Members of the House who were charged with the duty of especially supporting agriculture, they would not fail to remember that a great and important system of national policy was often rendered ridiculous by its constant application to petty details. In opposition to the noble Lord, the substance and meaning of whose speech was, "If you want to continue the Corn Laws, why do you vote for a duty of 2s. per cwt. on lard?" he would advise the friends of agriculture to stake the great question of protection on no such issue. It might be good advice for the noble Lord to give, but it would be bad advice for them to take. For what was the value of the question about which they were now contending? The present amount of duty upon lard was 2s. per cwt., and the value of lard per cwt. was 50s. So the duty about to be removed was a duty of 4 per cent. on the value. But then it might be said that if the duty were so light, why should it be removed? and he confessed that, looking at lard merely as an article of food, there would not be any justification for the removal of the duty. For, if they professed to be dealing with the laws which affected the importation of food, and they left untouched the duty upon cheese, butter, and other articles—but proposed to remit the duty of 2s. per cwt. on lard, such a proposition would be ridiculous. But, looking at it as an article of trade—as a raw material of grease—lard became an important article. It could never be for the interest of agriculture to nibble at any such petty articles as lard was, if regarded as an article of human food; but for the purpose of the present vole he looked upon lard in quite a different character. It then became a question of setting free the raw materials of industry. As a raw material for the manufactures of the country, they had heard how great was its importance. In relation to oil, its importance could scarcely be overrated. The wise principle of setting oil free altogether was one of the main objects of the present Tariff. This was most important, because oil was used not in one trade, but it was employed in many diversified purposes. It had been calculated that olive oil was used to the value of 600,000l. in the preparation of woollen cloths alone. Then, it would be admitted to be a great object to get all oils free from duty, but 1199 there was a difficulty in getting those oils which were best suited to machinery. There had already been felt a great difficulty in getting sperm oil, and there was every chance of yet higher prices. Now, no article was a better substitute for sperm oil than the oil made from lard. It was true that they got lard oil from America; but he understood that the lard oil of America was not manufactured with that degree of purity which was necessary, and that the lard oil made in England was much more suitable to machinery than any other article whatever. But there was another important branch of trade in which lard oil would be much used. He alluded to the manufacture of soap. He would not go over all the purposes to which soap might be made available; but there could be no doubt that it was most valuable as a raw material, and that it was most important to introduce it, quite apart from its being an article of food. As an article of food, the duty of 2s. could have little effect; but the remission even of a duty so small, would have a great effect upon the extensive dealings of trade. He denied the position of his hon. Friend, that the lard imported would be substituted for that now produced at home. But the question which he wished to press upon the House was, whether they would establish a new trade which would confer a very great benefit upon all classes of the community, and with little or no injury to any?
Sir W. James
would only detain the Committee whilst he made one remark, in answer to a question of the hon. Member for Stockport, which he was unwilling should go forth to the country without a reply. The hon. Member had stated that the object which his party had in view was abundance, and he had asked what was the object of hon. Members on that side. Their object, he begged to say, was abundance, with security for its continuance.
§ Mr. Grogan
replied. He had studiously avoided any remark which could have given rise to a personal discussion; but after the vote to which the House had already come, he should not feel justified in pressing his Motion to a division.
§ The word Lard was ordered to stand part of the Resolution.
§ On the article Rosin,
Sir W. James
said, that though it was somewhat dangerous for any Member now to get up and support protection to any existing interest, he yet felt bound to lay 1200 the case of the dealers in rosin before the House. The three places from which rosin and turpentine spirit were obtained were—America, France, and this country. Rosin was the residuum of turpentine spirit, and it was a commercial article of considerable importance. The average price in this country was 4s. 6d. per cwt.; whilst in America, where they got the raw article so easily, it was only 1s. 6d. There was now a duty of 2s. per cwt., which would make the price of the American rosin 3s. 6d., but the average price was 4s. 6d.; and yet a proposal was made to remit the present duty. The right hon. Gentleman would by such remission crush this branch of industry. A large capital was invested in it; extensive and expensive warehouses had been established; and was it fair at once to withdraw all protection? All he would ask was, that they should proceed with moderation. Let them reduce the duty by one-half; and if they found a greater reduction necessary, then let the other shilling go also. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could show any reasons for the proposed remission, he would not divide the House; but if he could not, he would certainly do so. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving the omission of the word Rosin from the Resolution.
§ Sir G. Clerk
referred to the former reductions of duty, under which no injury had happened, and contended that there was no cause for alarm in the total abolition of the present duty.
said, that the trade to which this article applied had increased about 50 per cent. by the reductions which had already been carried out.
§ The word Rosin ordered to stand part of the Resolution.
§ On the Silk Thrown, not Dyed,
Mr. T. Egerton
said, that the abolition of this duty would seriously injure the county he represented. Nothing could be more serious than diverting the course of trade; great reductions had been from time to time made in the duties on silk, and now the reduction of 1s. would give a bounty to foreign manufacturers. It was also very impolitic to remove this protection immediately after the restriction on the hours of labour recently imposed by the Factory Act. He believed that the reduction would do no good to the manufacturer, for it was only 2 or 3 per cent; but 1201 even if it were a benefit to the manufacturer, what right had they to sacrifice a trade which was giving employment to 40,000 people? For this reduction would almost, if not entirely, destroy the throwster trade of this country. He earnestly recommended the Government to retain this duty.
§ Sir G. Clerk
said, that no question had been brought more frequently before Parliament than that of the silk throwsters, though they had been always told that a reduction of duty would cause the ruin of the trade; and yet they found that since the reduction of duty the proportion of Foreign thrown silk introduced into this country, in reference to raw silk, had not increased, but had rather diminished. The introduction of improvements in machinery might not make the use of Italian thrown silk so necessary as it now was, but the manufacturers still desired it for some kinds of warps. The proportion of silk thrown in this country was much larger than it was. Twenty years ago out of 1,000,000lbs. of silk there were not 80,000lbs. thrown in this country, and now more than 9–10ths of all the silk imported was thrown here. To enable the manufacturers to make certain descriptions of silk, they must be allowed to import what was to them the raw materials; but to show that there would be no great injury to our throwsters he might state, that the expense of silk throwing at Lyons was as great, if not greater, than in this country. The quantity of silk coming from China and from our possessions in the East was yearly increasing; and he believed that in giving greater facilities to the manufacturers they were not only conferring a benefit on them, but were taking the most effectual means of extending and improving the manufacture of silk in this country.
§ Mr. Grimsditch
believed that the importation of thrown silk into this country was greater than the right hon. Gentleman had stated. He complained of the injury done to the trade by former changes in the duty. When the last reduction was made, he formed part of a deputation to the Board of Trade, and had then understood it to be admitted that the 1s. duty was not exactly what it ought to be, and that the subject should be considered; and now the whole duty was to be taken off, and there was to be no protection whatever. He felt it his duty to protest against the proposed alteration, as having a tendency to depress the condition of the silk throwsters.
§ Mr. Strutt
was anxious to say a few words, as the Representative of a town (Derby) where the silk manufacture was carried on. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland observed, that it was melancholy to see those who were, in the abstract, friends of free trade, become with respect to matters affecting their own interests immediately advocates of protection. He hoped, in his own case, to show an instance to the contrary. He would draw the attention of the House to a memorial which proceeded from his own constituents. In that memorial they stated that, though the abolition of the duty on thrown silk might be injurious to them in a pecuniary point of view, yet, as they were fully satisfied of the justice of free trade and the blessings it would confer on the country, they were willing to bear any loss which the removal of that duty might cause to fall on them. They were of opinion that private interest should not be allowed to interfere with the public good, and therefore they were not opposed to the abolition of the duty in question; and they moreover stated that they were desirous that all duties levied for protection, either with respect to trade or agriculture, should be immediately abolished. He would not add one word to that memorial, except to say, that it was signed by a majority of the silk throwsters of Derby, and to express his hope that the noble example set by them would be followed by other protected interests.
§ Mr. Bankes
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had undoubtedly given an instance of a Representative voting avowedly against the interests of his constituents, ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, against the interests of a particular body of his constituents, on account of a public principle. [Mr. Strutt: No, no.] He understood the hon. Member to have taken credit for placing himself in that predicament. ["No, no."] Then if that were not the fact let the hon. Member explain his own meaning. According as he understood the hon. Member, he voted against the wishes of a particular class. ["No, no."] Well, with the wishes, but against the interests of those the hon. Member represented. Now he thought he better discharged his duty by voting in accordance with the interests of those he represented. The right hon. the Vice President of the Board of Trade stated in the outset of his observations to the House, and rather in a tone of triumph, that the prophecies made from 1203 time to time of ruin to particular branches of manufacture in consequence of reductions in the rate of duty had been falsified. He could name one spot, at least, where those prophecies had been fulfilled. ["Name."] At Chard two branches of the silk manufacture were carried on before the alteration in the duty. The higher branch of that manufacture was carried on in the factory, and the lower, but not less beneficial, was carried on at home by the wives and children of the agricultural population. At one period the benefits of this manufacture extended over a circle of twenty miles of that country; but it was now very limited in extent, being confined to a single factory; and he was told that if any further reduction of duty took place that factory could not be carried on. A short time back the hon. Member for Stockport asked, "What do the agricultural Members ask for?" They asked for employment for the people, and this was what they (the free traders) were, by various schemes, depriving them of from time to time. The hon. Member for Montrose had expressed his surprise that in the county he represented, there were no manufactories carried on. What was the reason? They had lost their manufactories, not because they were less industrious or less sensible of their advantages, but because steam power had superseded water power. Those who now taunted them with the loss of their manufactures, and the insufficiency of employment and wages for their women and children, were the cause of all this. On the Continent, a positive bounty was given on throwing silk. The argument addressed to the House with respect to the thrown silk of Lyons did not at all affect the question. It was to the Italian thrown silk that objection was made. It was argued that that silk was necessary for the very finest descriptions of manufacture. Some of the manufacturers denied that; but admitting it to be true, as it was only the richest class who used those descriptions of manufacture, they were able to pay this trifling difference of duty, and therefore there should be no remission. In the neighbouring county to the one he represented, the evils arising from the reduction of duty were still more striking. A large factory, which had been been put in complete order before the last alteration of the duties, at an expense of 20,000l., was not now worth so many hundreds. What he objected to was, that as this alteration was only an experiment, it 1204 ought not to be adopted when, in the vale of Somersetshire alone, it would throw 400 or 500 women and children out of employment.
§ Sir R. Peel
I deeply regret that the inhabitants of any district of this country, who have enjoyed comparative prosperity, should be either suddenly or gradually reduced to depression—that a branch of industry which had employed many persons should cease to be productive, and that those who were employed in that branch of industry should cease to derive subsistence from it. But my hon. Friend should bear in mind what he had said, and with perfect truth, that the reason why we lost our manufactures in Dorsetshire is because steam-power has been introduced, and the steam engine produces the fabric at a less cost than the water power. And, therefore, it is not from any want of industry or exertion that our trade is diminished, but because in Manchester and other great towns capital is more abundant, and mechanical skill more perfect. But that will be the case whether we reduce the duty or not. That competition will continue, and whatever we may do, my hon. Friend's constituency will still have this formidable competition opposed to them. But if, by reducing the duties on thrown silk, we stimulate manufactures generally, and enable the people of Manchester, where capital and skill abound, to compete with foreigners, do not let us throw away these advantages on account of this partial failure, which is not attributable to the introduction of the foreign article, but to the competition with larger capital and greater skill. But my hon. Friend says, that trade has been languishing in Dorsetshire since the last reduction of the duty. Now, it is impossible to decide on the policy of any commercial measure on account of its operation in any limited district of the country. You can only judge of it by a comprehensive view of the imports and exports of the general trade. In the year 1844, after the reduction of duty made in 1842, the quantity of raw silk brought into this country to be thrown, and duty paid, was not less than 4,303,000 lbs. Now, there never was so large a quantity of silk brought into this country for the purpose of providing employment for manufacturers here since the year 1836, a year of great and inconsiderate speculation, which had the effect of depressing the markets for some time afterwards. If particular districts in 1205 the rural parts of England have been declining in prosperity, still my hon. Friend cannot contest this, that in the last year a greater quantity of the raw material has been imported, and duty paid on it, for the purpose of manufacture than in the preceding year. Deduct the quantity of foreign thrown from the total quantity, and there still remains a greater quantity of raw silk to be thrown in this country than was thrown before, although the quantity imported last year exceeded that of the former year. If the quantity of raw silk imported, to be thrown in this country, exceeds the quantity imported in former years, then the quantity of thrown silk from abroad may increase, and yet that may be no conclusive proof that our domestic manufacture in thrown silk has not been more prosperous. Now, the introduction of raw silk, for the purpose of being thrown, since 1836, was as follows:—In 1837, 3,400,000lbs.; in 1838, 3,700,000lbs.; in 1839, 3,500,000lbs.; in 1840, 4,000,000lbs.; in 1841, 3,438,000lbs.; in 1842, 4,400,000lbs.; in 1843, 3,318,000lbs.; in 1844, 4,300,000lbs. This showed how idle were the fears of those who predicted ruin to the silk trade from the reduction of the duty. Look, too, at that manufacture for a series of years. Just take the ten years from 1814 to 1823; that is, a period before the reduction of the duties, when you had all the advantage of this protection. In the ten years which elapsed from 1814 to 1823, the quantity of raw silk imported from abroad was 15,214,000lbs., and the quantity of thrown silk was 3,608,000lbs. In the ten years that elapsed from 1835 to 1844 inclusive—that is, since the reduction of protection—the quantity of raw silk brought into this country increased from 15,214,0O0lbs. in the former ten years, to 37,924,000lbs. in the last ten years. And what was the case as to thrown silk? In the former period the quantity of thrown silk was 3,608,000lbs., and in the latter ten years only 2,900,000lbs. That is a conclusive proof that since the diminution of protection in 1824, the importation of raw silk has increased, and the quantity of thrown silk diminished. And, therefore, I do hope that the apprehensions entertained in respect to the present diminution will be found to be without any foundation. I am sure I should as deeply regret any disappointment of these hopes as the hon. Member for Cheshire, or the hon. Member for Macclesfield; but I must entreat them to bear in mind that the local 1206 suffering of some districts is not caused by foreign imports, but by the increased prosperity of other districts. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head; can he deny that Spitalfields has been affected by the application of machinery to silk manufactures? And does he not see in that instance that an increase of machinery has been productive of an amount of local suffering perfectly unconnected with imports? The question to be entertained is, how long does the House intend to maintain high duties on manufactures? If you intend those duties to be permanent, it may be wise to make no alteration in them; but if you contemplate that a period must come when high protecting duties on manufactured silk must be considered with a view to their removal, is it not wise to make preparation for that period, by giving our manufacturers finer articles of goods, and thus giving them an opportunity of entering into that competition with foreigners which, I believe, at not a very remote period must take place.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that there was no article of manufacture as to which predictions of ruin from reduction of duties had been so completely falsified as in the case of silk. He believed that the changes now proposed, which met with his support, would be equally beneficial to those engaged in manufactures with the previous ones. As the right hon. Gentleman had referred to the subject of a general revision of the silk duties, he could not but express his regret that that great question had not been proposed simultaneously with the present changes. The state of the silk duties was such as to cry aloud for revision. An alteration could not but be beneficial to the Revenue itself; for now all the advantage was reaped by the smuggler, to whom some of the duties offered a premium of 50 per cent., although nominally of only 15 per cent. A change in the duties could not but benefit the manufacturer. There was now the less reason why they should not be revised, because those commercial negotiations with France which were assigned by the right hon. Baronet, in 1842, as a reason for not revising them, had ceased.
§ Mr. Brocklehurst
was prepared to show that silk throwing in this country had been stationary since 1824. Of his own knowledge two or three of the largest silk mills in Manchester had been turned into cotton mills, in consequence of the alteration of the duties. The right hon. Baronet 1207 said the improvements in machinery had prevented thrown silk from coming in; but that was not the fact. By repealing the duty on thrown silk, we should encourage the throwing of silk abroad, to the discouragement of our home manufacture. He, so far as he was personally concerned, had never complained to a Government Board in his life. If they gave him notice of what they were going to do, he would be able to take care of himself. However, under the circumstances, he could not consent to the remission of duty now proposed.
§ Mr. Hume
had, during the past year, visited various establishments in France and Belgium, and likewise the establishment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Brocklehurst), which was most perfect. He was surprised, therefore, that his hon. Friend should express any alarm at the proposed change of duty. With respect to the south of England, the alterations that had taken place had arisen from causes which no Government could control. He thought that the present proposition was calculated to benefit the community; and, as such, he should support it. Nothing could be more advantageous to the English weaver than to give him his materials on the same terms as the weaver in other countries, and he did not fear the effect of competition. The proposed reduction of duty, so far from tending to lessen employment, must have quite an opposite effect. He thought, at the same time, that the Government ought to have removed the duty from manufactured silks altogether. By doing that they would have prevented the smuggling that now existed. It was well known that every day in the year goods that ought to be valued at 100l. passed, as far as the duty was concerned, for 10l., whereby the Revenue was defrauded, and the fair trader was unable to meet the competition. He feared that his hon. Friend, being a throwster, was biassed by his profits against the interests of the general manufacturer.
§ Mr. W. Williams
said, that foreign countries were making great strides in manufactures; and unless this country was placed upon an equality with those countries with whom they were entering into competition, he was quite convinced that distress of the most appalling character would visit almost every department of our manufactures. Place his constituents on an equality with regard to the price of provisions with the artisans of other countries, and they would not want protection. 1208 Their industry was equal, ay, superior to the industry of any people; but, having to pay half their wages in taxation and for the support of the aristocracy, they could not compete with foreigners. The Government should reduce the taxes not only on bread but on other articles which were equally essential for the comforts of life. A great consumption of waste silk was no proof of national prosperity, that article being nothing but rubbish, scarcely worth 9d. per pound. He expressed a hope that Her Majesty's Government would pause before they took into consideration the recommendation of the hon. Member for Montrose to abolish the duty upon manufactured silk, by which trade, according to the statement of the hon. Member for Whitehaven, 800,000 persons obtained their livelihood. He was a free trader, but not one of those who would take away the bread of 800,000 of his fellow-countrymen, women, and children, and give it to foreigners, for the sake of carrying out any particular scheme.
§ Mr. Entwisle
said, that when he heard that the duty was to be taken off thrown silk he communicated with his constituents on the subject; and their answer was, "Give us free trade, and we care nothing about the removal of this duty." That scintillation of a "great fact" in his neighbourhood was a significant hint to him. At the same time, he could not understand how the hon. Member for Stockport should be continually in the habit of offering seats in that House to Gentlemen who were ready to support the object of the great fact; but perhaps he would hereafter be called upon to explain that matter. He (Mr. Entwisle) should vote in accordance with the answer he had received from his constituents.
§ The Committee divided on the Question that the words "silk thrown, not dyed," stand part of the Resolution:—Ayes 86; Noes 25: Majority 61.
|List of the NOES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Buller, E.|
|Baillie, Col.||Cardwell, E.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Childers, J. W.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Beckett, W.||Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Botfield, B.||Copeland, Ald.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Cripps, W.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Dodd, G.|
|Bright, J.||Duncan, G.|
|Brotherton, J.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Egerton, Lord F.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Entwisle, W.|
|Escott, B.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Ewart, W.||Morris, D.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Nicholl, rt. hn. J.|
|Forman, T. S.||Patten, J. W.|
|Forster, M.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Peel, J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Pringle, A.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Pusey, P.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hastie, A.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Hawes, B.||Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Hindley, C.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Hope, G. W.||Strutt, E.|
|Hume, J.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Hutt, W.||Thornely, T.|
|Ingestre, Visct.||Trotter, J.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Tuffnell, H.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Warburton, H.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Ward, H. G.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Lowther, Sir J. H.||Wood, Col.|
|McGeachy, F. A.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|McNeill, D.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Masterman, J.||Young, J.|
|Mildmay, H. St. J.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Antrobus, E.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Bankes, G.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Palmer, R.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Palmer, G.|
|Broadley, H.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Darby, G.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Tollemache, J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Tower, C.|
|Henley, J. W.||TELLERS.|
|Legh, G. C.||Egerton, T.|
|Lockhart, W.||Grimsditch, T.|
§ The words ordered to stand part of the Resolution.
§ On the article of "Tares" being read,
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that in order to remove any apprehension as to the effect of reducing the duty on tares, he would just state that when the duty on tares was 10s. a quarter, there were 31,781 quarters of tares imported; but when the duty was reduced to 5s. the importation in 1843 was 1210 only 15,000 quarters, and in 1844, 19,000 quarters.
The word "tares" was ordered to stand part of the Resolution, which was finally agreed to. It was then
"Resolved—That in lieu of the Duties of Customs now chargeable on the articles under-mentioned, imported into the United Kingdom, the following Duties shall be charged, viz.—
§ Essential Oil of Cloves, 3s. the lb.
On the Resolution,—
That from and after the expiration of Excise Duties on British Glass, and until the 10th day of October 1846, the following Duties of Customs be charged on the articles undermentioned, imported into the United Kingdom in lieu of the Duties nowchargeable thereon.
|Any kind of Window Glass, white or stained of one colour only, not exceeding one-ninth of an inch in thickness, and Shades and Cylinders, the cwt.||14||0|
|All Glass exceeding one-ninth of an inch in thickness, all silvered or polished Glass of whatever thickness, however small each pane, plate, or sheet, superficial measure, viz.:—|
|Not containing more than 9 square feet, the square foot||1||0|
|Containing more than 9 square feet, and not more than 14 square feet, the square foot||2||0|
|Containing more than 14 square feet, and not more than 36 square feet, the square foot||2||6|
|Containing more than 36 square feet, the square foot||3||0|
|Glass, painted or otherwise ornamented, the superficial foot||3||0|
|All White Flint Glass Bottles, not cut, engraved, or otherwise ornamented, and Beads and Bugles of Glass, the lb.||0||2|
|Wine Glasses, Tumblers, and all other White Flint Glass Goods, not cut, engraved, or otherwise ornamented, the lb.||0||4|
|All Flint Cut Glass, Flint, Coloured Glass, and Fancy Ornamental Glass, of whatever kind, the lb.||0||8|
|Bottles of Glass covered with Wicker (not being Flint or Cut Glass), or of green or common Glass, the cwt.||3||0|
|Glass Manufactures not otherwise enumerated or described, and old broken Glass, fit only to be re-manufactured, the cwt.||14||0|
§ That from and after the 10th day of October 1846, until the 5th day of April 1848, 1211 there be charged on the said article one half of the said Duties, and from and after the 5th day of April 1848 one fourth part of the said Duties."
§ Mr. Hawes
said, that the bottle dealers could by law obtain the drawback of duty by exporting their bottles; and he did not see, therefore, the object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in refusing to grant them the drawback on the remission of the duty. It would only compel them to export, and would be injurious to the Revenue.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, it was very desirable that a definite answer should be given, because if parties chose to export their bottles within a limited period they had the power to do so. He had considered the claims of different parties, and did not think it possible to grant this request. It would lead to a similar claim from wine merchants and others having large stocks of bottles.
§ Mr. Masterman
thought the bottle dealers had a claim on the justice of the Government for a drawback.
§ Resolution agreed to. House resumed.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past one o'clock.