§ On the Question, that the Order of the Day for a Committee of Supply be read,
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
, rose to call the attention of the House, pursuant to his notice, to the state of the carrying trade between this country and the Spanish Colonies. In doing so, he begged to apologize to, and express his sympathy with, his noble Friend at the head of the Government, that he was not in the Highlands: and to assure his noble Friend, that in calling the attention of the House to the subject in question, he intended to make no observations of an aggressive nature on Her Majesty's Ministers. The grievance of which he had to complain was one of many years' endurance on the part of the commerce of this country—it was a matter upon which the merchants of Liverpool had been continually remonstrating for the last twelve years. They then in vain called the attention of his Grace the Duke of Wellington, at that time Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to this grievance. From year to year they had since applied to his noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and upon the change of the Whig Government—from 1842 to the present time—it had been a complaint with the merchants of Liverpool, that by the regulations of the Spanish Government—by the non-reciprocity of the Spanish Government—by the free admission the Spanish Government afforded to Spanish in comparison with British vessels—they had lost, not certainly the whole, but the very much larger part of the carrying trade with the Spanish Colonies. He was bound to apologize to the House for the imperfect manner in which he should be obliged to bring the question forward; it was only within the last few days he had been called upon by the merchants of Liverpool to interpose with Her Majesty's Government, that justice might 800 be done to British interests in this matter; and therefore he had had no time to obtain those returns which would give him the latest information on the subject. But for the purpose of calling the attention of the House and the Government of this country to the question, it would fortunately be sufficient to lay before them that information which regarded former years; while at the same time he stated that no change whatever, for the better, had taken place in the conditions referred to, as affecting at that period, British interests in these Colonies. He should begin, therefore, by stating to the House the difference that existed between the charges made upon. British goods exported into the Spanish Colonies in British bottoms, and British goods sent thither in Spanish ships; and having pointed out that great discrepancy—amounting to so much as necessarily took the greater part of the carrying trade to these Colonies from British ships—he would show the House that this was the case in fact. He held in his hand a statement of the case laid before his Grace the Duke of Wellington eleven years ago, which he should beg to refer to for the information of the House; first reminding them that the facts therein stated remained the same to the present moment. It was a statement of the amount of duties of all kinds charged on two cargoes of British merchandise sent from. Liverpool, the one in an English ship, the other in a Spanish vessel, to the Spanish colony of the Havannah. The cargo was one of general goods. It included woollen goods, linen goods, and cotton goods; and the value of the goods exported—the export value of the goods—was 1,975l. There were 1,000 blankets, of the value of 150l.; 1,000 yards of blue cloth, of the value of 100l.; 1,000 yards of linen, of the value of 100l.; 100 mantillas, of the value of 100l. These were some of the articles. By a valuation made in Havannah, the distictive duties levied were at the rate of 21¼ per cent upon goods exported in Spanish, ships, while they were at the rate of 30¼ per cent, ad valorem, upon goods landed, from British ships. This cargo also included 1,000 printed calicoes, of the value of 500l., and other articles of a value making the whole amount, as he had stated, 1,975l. Well, upon this cargo the duties levied by the Spanish Government, when it was carried in a Spanish ship, were 582l. 11s. 9d.; but when it was carried in British ships the duties levied 801 amounted to no less than 826l. 0s. 6d., making a difference of 243l. 8s. 9d. upon the same goods when imported into Havannah, by a British ship, as compared with the amount when they were imported by a Spanish. But this discrimination in the duties was over and above another discrimination in the tolls taken in port. The difference in port dues and wharfage was almost equally restrictive against the British merchant. The port dues were 5 rials per ton upon Spanish ships, and they were 12 rials a ton upon British vessels. Then with regard to the expenses of wharfage—the wharfage was six rials a day upon every 100 tons for Spanish ships; but it was 10 rials a day for every 100 tons of English vessels: and the hemp dues were 1–6th of a rial per ton upon Spanish ships, while they were twice that amount per ton upon British bottoms. The result of all these duties was, that it rendered it so much more advantageous to export goods in Spanish ships rather than in our own, that whilst, in 1833, a Spanish ship, laden from the Spanish Colonies, was never seen in Liverpool, it was now almost as rare an occurrence to see an English ship in the port of Liverpool, laden with goods from the Havannah. The difference of the duty on the import of goods was 12l. 6s. 6d. per cent, for when imported in British ships the duty was 41l. 16s. 6d. per cent, and when imported in Spanish ships it was only 29l. 10s. per cent. Well, this grievance had been enduring for twelve years. America felt this grievance as well as England. Spain endeavoured to run her rigs on that country; but our American neighbours knew how to resent the attempt. Within two months America brought forward and passed a measure of retaliation, by which that country enforced higher duties on goods or produce imported into American ports by the ships of Spain, and higher rates on ships of Spain, equivalent in amount to those duties attempted to be imposed by Spain on goods and ships trading to Spanish ports. And the Americans did not stop there; they allowed no Spanish ship to leave the ports of America without imposing on goods exported in those ships duties equivalent to what would have been imposed if the goods had been sent to the Spanish Colonies in ships of America. The result of this conduct was, that Spain abandoned her restrictions, but retained them with respect to this country; so that while England was precluded from carrying goods to Spain on an equal footing with Spanish and American ships, the 802 produce of Spain was allowed to be imported into this country without any differential duty being demanded. He admitted that as far as pilotage and lighterage charges were concerned, Spanish ships paid double the amount compared with the charges levied on ships of this country. Dock dues were also higher; but there was no distinction as to goods, and the result was that in the years 1838, 1839, 1840, and 1841, he found this to be the state of the carrying trade between Liverpool and Cuba. He found in the year 1838 the total declared value of cargoes, these cargoes consisting of various descriptions of merchandise — earthenware, glass, nails, hardware, machinery, coal, and cases and bales of manufactured goods, comprising, indeed, all the great manufactures of this country — he found that in the year 1838 the declared value of the cargoes exported to Cuba was 472,927l.; of this amount there was carried by the ships of Great Britain but 61,487l., by the ships of America 92,781l., and by the ships of Spain 318,534l. value. In 1839 the amount of merchandise carried to Cuba by the ships of Great Britain was 35,997l., by the ships of America 69,930l., and by the ships of Spain 265,106l. in value. In 1841 the declared value of the cargoes to Cuba was 518,399l., of which amount but 33,308l. was carried by ships of Great Britain, 49,446l. by American ships, and no less than 428,254l. carried by ships of Spain. So that, in point of fact, the ships of Spain were carrying thirteen times the amount of goods carried by the ships of Great Britain. This was the effect of admitting the ships of foreign countries into free competition with the ships of Great Britain. And here was the tendency of such doctrines—for by their operation, some of the worst-sailed ships, manned by some of the worst sailors, were able altogether to beat the ships of Great Britain in the carrying trade on the Atlantic Ocean. He had spoken of the years 1838, 1840 and 1841: he had not been able to get returns down to a later date; but he knew what was going on at Liverpool at that moment, and he found at this very time there were six Spanish ships and but one British ship loading for Havannah—the one British ship measuring 176 tons; the six Spanish ships measuring 1,296 tons. That was the state of British commerce at Liverpool at the present moment, He found that by this state of things a great advantage was given to Spanish over British ships—in 803 fact so great was this advantage, that merchants were willing to pay 60s. per ton for Spanish vessels, in preference to 10s. per ton for British vessels engaged in this trade. Now, considering the alteration in the law with regard to sugar, and the probability of the importation of sugar from Cuba, hitherto forbidden, he must say he thought the present was an appropriate moment to press the matter on the attention of the Government. It had been calculated by the First Minister of the Crown that we should get from Cuba 20,000 or 25,000 tons of sugar the next year, or the year following, which, at the rate of 25l. per ton, would make the value of the sugar about 500,000l. sterling, for which this country would have to pay to Cuba. It was reasonable, therefore to expect that a considerable part of this payment should be made in British merchandise, and that an increased exportation of British manufactures should take place. Well, then, as we were about to give an additional impulse to the trade of Spain, this appeared to him to be the proper time to press the Spanish Government to remove those duties which gave that country nearly a monopoly in the carrying trade. He observed, on a former occasion, there was also another consideration connected with this question—that you were going to exchange the trade with the West Indies for trade with Cuba and Brazil—that you were going to exchange a trade of which you had the monopoly, for another trade of which we could only expect a share; and that, as far as Spain was concerned, she was at this moment enjoying twelve-thirteenths of the carrying trade of Cuba. It was time, then, for Her Majesty's Government to exert themselves to obtain some redress for the merchants and ships of our own country. He had before adverted to the course taken by the American Government. He took leave to recommend to Her Majesty's Ministers an imitation of the course so successfully adopted by the United States of America. The United States of America did not trust to the moral example of the liberality of their country. The United States of America had at once recourse to energetic measures of retaliation; and those measures were successful. We had tried to conciliate for twelve years—we had tried the effect of conciliation with Spain—we had tried the effect of giving all we could yield, without asking anything in return; but we had not yet induced Spain to be generous. We 804 found it uniformly the case that nations, like individuals, will keep all they are allowed to keep, and will give up as little as they can. The new system of policy, and the new doctrines propounded by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, that it was beneath the dignity of this country, or rather beneath the dignity of free trade, to haggle about inconsiderable matters, he confessed that for one he totally disagreed with that doctrine. If it were vulgar to have recourse to this haggling, it was certainly the more prudent course when commerce was concerned; and he even said if this course was not effectual, it would be better to have recourse to measures of retaliation, and to have some kind of understanding with foreign nations before we made gifts to them from ourselves. They had been told by the right hon. Baronet that free trade was the only true commercial policy, and the only true principle of commerce. Against this authority he would quote another great authority across the Atlantic, Mr. Webster, with whose opinions he coincided. In 1843, Mr. Webster said—With respect to the navigation laws the only true principle of politics was that principle to be found in the old navigation laws of England, which had been invented by some old statesmen in Cromwell's days.His object in calling the attention of the House to this matter was to rouse Her Majesty's Government to make some effort: not to trust to simple negociation; but to hold out threats of retaliation if the Spanish Government would not consent to remove those restrictive duties which yielded to her a virtual monopoly of the carrying trade between Great Britain and her Colonies, and which deprived the ships of Great Britain of almost all participation in that trade. He begged to say he had not made his Motion, or called the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the subject, with any hostile intention towards Her Majesty's Ministers. They had had as yet but little time to attend to the commercial policy of the country; and they could only share with their predecessors a proportion of the charge of neglect with which the shipping interest of Great Britain had been treated. It mght be said it was not right to bully a country like Spain. He conceived, however, this was not the true view of the case. We were bound to look to the interests of Great Britain, and to advance those interests consistently with honesty and justice. His noble Friend, 805 above all others, would have the best right to insist on justice, for when in office in former times he had never shrunk from insisting on the rights of Great Britain. He who had maintained those rights against a powerful country—he who feared not the power of France—need have no delicacy in pressing on the attention of Spain this matter, and further requiring Spain to remove those restrictive duties which shut out our ships from the carrying trade of her Colonies. If Spain, however, continued to shut out our ships, he hoped the Government would shut out the trade in sugar sent from Cuba to England. If things remained as they were, he feared the effect would be that British ships, thrown out of the West Indian, the Mauritius, and the East Indian trade by the rivalry of the sugars brought from the Brazils and the Spanish settlements, would be able to find no employment by the way of set-off in the carrying trade required by the sugars of Porto Rico and the Havannah sent to this country. Though it was a late period of the Session, he hoped he should be considered as having done no more than his duty, and be pardoned by the House for having transgressed on their time, while he called the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the great grievance he had detailed, and to the consequent depression and disadvantage under which the shipping interest of Great Britain now laboured.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
did not think that the noble Lord was called upon to have made any apology for having dwelt at such length upon this subject. The question was one of very great importance; and it was desirable that it should be submitted to the consideration of that House. The noble Lord had truly stated that there was at this moment prevailing in Cuba a tariff which, by favouring Spanish ships, had well nigh excluded British vessels from the carrying trade with that island — both with reference to the importation of manufactures into Cuba, and with reference to the exportation of produce from Cuba. The noble Lord had been correct in his statement that this tariff had existed for some time; but recent changes which had taken place in that tariff, and which had effect from the 1st of March in the present year, had in some respects made its operation more favourable to British interests, while in others it had tended to mitigate it. For instance, there had been a change in the tonnage duties; but that change had 806 been found to work favourably for the interests of England. The change had been brought in for the purpose of compensating for the difference between the tonnage as measured by the Spanish regulations and by the laws of England. The shipowners had now their option whether they would pay the 23 per cent tonnage duty as imposed by Government, or submit to their ships being measured according to the Spanish system; and those who had submitted to the alternative found that it worked well for British interests, and could not be said to be anything in reality but a mitigation of the duty. In respect, however, of certain duties on goods brought in by British ships, and of certain fees imposed by the quarantine laws, the discriminating duty as against England and other foreign places had been increased. It was quite true, that although formerly all ships paid the same quarantine fees, yet at the present time British and other foreign ships had to pay twice as high a quarantine fee as was paid by the ships of Spain. The noble Lord, however, should not be surprised at the apparent indisposition on the part of Spain to remove discriminating duties as affecting British ships and goods, for it must be in his remembrance that on a very recent occasion, when an effort was made on behalf of Spain to place such a construction on the commercial treaties between that country and England as to entitle the goods of Spain to be brought into the English ports at the same rate of duty as those of any other country, even the most favoured, England declined to sanction any such interpretation of the Treaties, and distinctly repudiated the idea that there were between this country and Spain any thing like Treaties containing the "favoured nations" clause or clauses of reciprocity. Spain had demanded that the sugars of her Colonies should be admitted into England on the same terms as those of other countries; England declined to accede to the demand. He did not mean to say, that if England had adopted the opposite course, and acceded to the application, Spain would have been precluded from placing higher duties on British goods and British ships than on her own ships and goods coming into her own Colonies; but he thought he was quite safe in assuming that if a more liberal, and, as it appeared to him, a juster construction had been put upon the Treaties, Spain would have been induced to act in a more kindly spirit, and to reduce her differential duties. It was 807 not for him to say what course Government would pursue for the future; but for his own part, he would not hesitate to express a hope that it would not be such a one as was pointed at by the noble Lord—a course of retaliation. Conciliation had not yet been tried. It was but yesterday that the sugars of Spain were admitted on the same terms as those of other lands. England's commercial policy, until recently, had been illiberal—it had been one of general restriction, and under it these hostile tariffs had grown up. In conclusion, he had to express a hope that for the present, at least, the noble Lord the Member for Lynn would content himself with having brought this question under the consideration of the the House. The noble Lord had eloquently denounced monopoly in the Spanish Colonies; and it was to be hoped that he would be found equally energetic in protesting against it whenever he found it to prevail nearer home.
§ MR. M. GORE
said, he had received a letter from a Spanish merchant in London, which stated, that—Spanish vessels enjoy advantages to an extent which amounts to an exclusive employ of the former. All goods exported from England to Spain and her Colonies, if in English bottoms or ships, are subjected to a duty of 25 per cent on their value; but transmitted in the vessels of Spain no duty attaches, and hence you will readily observe what sort of reciprocity subsists between us and Spain. This is an improper advantage, and it ought to be met by some countervailing regulation. It is true the wines of Spain are for the most part brought here in English vessels; but on inquiry into this seeming anomaly, I find it arises from a few ships of a peculiar size and despatch being used and built by us, and which enables us to effect the freight on cheaper terms than even the Spaniards can carry this particular traffic. England has so little attended to what is going on in Spanish shipping, that she permits without any retaliation ships to come from Old Spain and all her dependencies—from the Havannah especially—without reference to the excluding tariff of Spain; and one consequence is, that the commercial marine of Spain has increased to an amount of tonnage as large as in her days of prosperity.At this very moment Spanish ships were now loading in London for Manilla and other places, both in Spain and in her Colonies; whereas of English ships loading for the same destination there were only two, and those only touched at Cadiz in their way to Gibraltar. In Manilla, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish Colonies, as well as in Old Spain, many Spanish vessels were now building.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The subject which has been submitted to the consideration 808 of the House by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, is, I admit, one of very great importance, and one in which the shipping interests of this country are very deeply involved. I share unaffectedly in the regret expressed by the noble Lord that a commercial policy, hostile in any respect to those great interests, should have been adopted in any country; but at the same time I feel, that however unfriendly to British interests may be the intention of certain tariffs, the energy and ingenuity of British merchants may in some cases succeed in mitigating the practical effect, and diminishing the real extent of the evil. I wish, however, to have it understood that I do not say this with the intention of leaving it to be implied that I do not believe it to be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to do every thing in their power to reduce, and, if possible, altogether to remove, the evil of which the noble Lord complains. Most undoubtedly it is their duty so to do; but at the same time the noble Lord and the House will do well to bear in mind that the ground which any Government may take in remonstrating with other countries against evils of this kind, must very much depend on what may be the characters of the treaties and engagements subsisting between this country and the country against which we may suppose that we have cause of complaint. There are two descriptions of treaties affecting the international commercial relations. The first is called a reciprocity treaty; the other is that description of treaty which entitles the contracting parties, in their trade with each other, to be treated mutually on the footing of the most favoured nations. Reciprocity treaties are those by which two countries engage that the shipping of each shall be in the ports of the other on the footing of national vessels. Now, I am not aware that we are entitled, by any existing treaties between this country and Spain, to demand as a right that the British shipping in Spanish ports should, in regard of tonnage, and in all other respects, be placed on the footing of Spanish vessels. We had, however, treaties with Spain, which, according to the construction which I and those who were of the same opinion with me, put upon them, did entitle the respective parties, in their commerce with each other, to the footing of the most favoured nations. Therefore, undoubtedly, if it can be shown that Spain, yielding to the retaliatory measures of the United States, has exempted the shipping 809 of the United States in Spanish ports from the duties to which British ships are liable in their ports, that would be a fair ground on which we could take our stand for resistance. I am not just at this moment in possession of sufficient information as to how this matter stands; but I am sorry to say that the treaties and engagements between England and Spain, which were in themselves complicated in their nature, from the circumstance of their depending on many old treaties, of which the language was in some places obscure, and in others might appear self-contradictory, has been rendered more uncertain still by the interpretation which of late has been placed upon them. At the same time, the measure which Parliament is now adopting with respect to the sugars of the Spanish Colonies, does, I think, as the noble Lord remarks, afford an opportunity of putting these matters on a clearer, more certain, and more satisfactory footing. Of course the Queen's Government will feel it to be their duty to avail themselves of every favourable opportunity to make these relations as satisfactory as possible; but at the same time I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade in thinking that one of the methods advocated by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn would be most unwise and inexpedient to adopt. I cannot think that the policy of retaliation for which he contends so strenuously would be either wise or useful. The noble Lord, as it appears to me, rather mistook the grounds taken by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, in stating his objection to this retaliation system. The right hon. Baronet did not state his objection to that system to be one founded on the ground of dignity or national honour. He stated that it was one founded simply on the ground of practical advantage—and he was right. Most assuredly we do not object to retaliation, because we do not think it a dignified mode of enforcing treaties. Our objection is, that it is an inexpedient and ineffectual mode of remedying an evil. If you could reasonably expect that retaliation would at once produce its effect, and that the country on which you retaliate would be led thereby to concede what you desire, it might perhaps be worth while to endure a temporary evil for a great permanent advantage; but I am sorry to say that experience does not warrant the opinion that such a result can be reasonably depended 810 on. And it is clear that if you have recourse to retaliation, and fail, notwithstanding, in accomplishing your purpose, the consequence is, that instead of one, you voluntarily subject yourselves to two evils which you cannot prevent. What happened in the case of your commercial relations with Naples attests this. Some years ago, when the present Government was in office before, we conceived that we had a just cause of complaint against Naples; and we did resort to retaliation. When the duties on foreign oils were very much reduced in this country, we still retained a high duty on Neapolitan oil, because Naples had not chosen to do what we were entitled to expect with respect to our commercial relations with that country. Our retaliatory proceeding had no effect in reducing the high duty of which we complained as being imposed by the Neapolitan Government; but it had the effect of subjecting our commerce and manufacturing interests here at home to great inconvenience and annoyance by the continuance of the high duty; and I believe the ultimate result was, that the late Government at last found it expedient to adopt a different course of policy altogether. I only mention this, that the House may understand that we now, in Her Majesty's Councils, are not prepared to resort to a system of retaliation. I am clearly of opinion, that it is not a wise nor an expedient policy, unless, perhaps, in very extreme and particular cases, and for this reason I will not advocate its adoption; but I will exert myself to the utmost not only to remedy the evil to which the noble Lord has adverted, but also to place the commercial relations of both countries generally on a more satisfactory footing.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I consider, Sir, that the adoption of measures of retaliation must depend entirely upon circumstances; and the success of such retaliatory measures must depend, of course, upon the forming of a prudent judgment with reference to those circumstances. With regard to the case to which the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs has referred, it affords no proof of the inexpediency of retaliation. The noble Lord has confounded (perhaps not unintentionally for the purposes of debate)—the noble Lord has confounded retaliatory duties upon articles of commercial exchange with retaliatory duties upon the means of conveying those articles of commerce from another country—the retaliation to which my noble Friend 811 the Member for Lynn has referred; and the fact is, that there is not the slightest analogy or similarity between the two circumstances. Undoubtedly if we retaliate on a foreign country by laying an excessive duty on articles of which we are in want, our retaliation produces no effect on the policy of that foreign country, while we are suffering by depriving ourselves of articles of necessity; but that does not refer to a retaliatory policy with respect to navigation. If in the present instance we should retaliate by laying a duty on the use of Spanish ships, we cannot, under any circumstances, prevent this country having the advantage of the article on which the duty is laid; and if we prevent the Spanish ships from coming to this country, we succeed in our object; whereas when we prevent Neapolitan oil from coming to this country, as we have succeeded in preventing it from coming here, we inflict a great injury and inconvenience on the manufacturers of this country. The instance which the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) has brought forward as a warning to us when we recommend a retaliatory policy to the Government, has really little bearing on the question before us; and I think I shall have little difficulty in showing to the House that although a retaliatory policy with reference to an article of commerce often fails, a retaliatory policy with respect to a matter of navigation almost always succeeds. I have an instance in my hand which bears on the question before us. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn has referred to returns so late, I believe, as the year 1841; and he regretted that it was not in his power to refer to returns of a subsequent date; but I happen to have a return of July 18, 1846, of the ships loaded on that day in the port of Havannah; and if the House will permit me (it is a very brief return though sufficiently full), I will read the result. It throws a considerable light as to the effect the policy of the United States has produced upon the employment of their shipping. Now, on the 18th of July, 1846, of ships of three masts, there was one British, nine American, five Spanish, three French, two Danish, and of other natioas, two; in all twenty-two. Of two masts—five British, twelve American, twenty-six Spanish, French, Dutch, and other nations, seven; there was no British schooner, six American, eleven Spanish, and two French; in all nineteen, making altogether ninety-five ships loaded in the harbour of Havannah on the 18th of July; 812 and of those forty-two were Spanish, twenty-seven American, and six British. So it seems from that return, that the Act passed 1st Session, 21st Congress of the United States (that must be in the year 1834) produced in the course of those twelve years a considerable effect. But let the House remember, that while twelve years have elapsed since the United States determined to pursue in matters of navigation with Spain, as regards their commerce with her Colonies, a policy of retaliation—that while twelve years have elapsed since Congress resolved upon that retaliatory policy, the result of which is exemplified to the House in the returns which I have just read, that is exactly the period during which Great Britain has been trying a policy exactly the contrary. During those twelve years England has been displaying towards Spain and her Colonies a policy most conciliatory: she has admitted Spanish ships under similar advantages to her own into this country—America has prosecuted, in self-defence, a policy exactly the reverse. I now leave the question to the House and to the country, with this fact which I have brought under their notice, and its two specific results to which I have referred. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade to make a speech, which recapitulates every sentiment and argument almost that have been used by my noble Friend, but holds out to us a most vague and general prospect of relief—it is extremely well for the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to do as he always does, give a most agreeable and lucid exposition of the peculiar form which diplomacy may have assumed in reference to the subject under argument; but I want to know what prospect of relief is held out by them to those persons who are engaged in the carrying trade in Liverpool and elsewhere, while the noble Lord the Member for Lynn has shown us that the carrying trade between England and the Spanish Colonies is almost entirely enjoyed by Spanish ships. I am not one of those who would be frightened at hearing that eight Spanish ships are in the river Thames, as the hon. Member for Barnstaple informs us. I should not object to eighty Spanish ships being there; but I do not want those ships to be there because they enjoy an advantage that English ships do not enjoy in Havannah, Manilla, or Porto Rico; and have obtained the carrying trade between England and the Spanish Colonies in consequence. 813 The Americans have pursued a retaliatory policy; and the result is, that at this moment there are loading in the harbours of Havannah five times as many American ships as British ships. The traders of England feel that they have suffered much. They feel also that there are means of giving them relief, and can refer to a statement, the accuracy of which eannot be denied, to prove it. They refer to a statement, which cannot be denied, to show what the remedy should be; and what do the Ministers of the Crown? I do not blame this particular Ministry—they are fresh in office, and are only following the policy of their predecessors. What do the Ministers of the Crown?—or what, for the last twelve years, have they done? Do they promise relief? No; but, on the contrary, they tell us that the very policy we recommend, the specific remedy which we suggest, is one of which they do not approve; but no single argument has been brought forward to induce any hon. Gentleman to believe that the objection on the point is not deserving of consideration. With reference to the Treaty of Utrecht, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade has referred, I would observe that I always took the same views of the rights of Spain under that Treaty which have been professed by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I rose when that question was discussed; and if, Sir, I had caught your eye, I would have answered the observations which were then made in support of the views of the individual who recently occupied the office of Secretary of State. I regret the policy that was then pursued, and I think that the construction which was put upon that Treaty by the noble Lord was accurate. But after all, it does not bear upon the question before us. Here is a grievance that cannot be denied. Here is a remedy, or that which we allege is a remedy, for that grievance; and it is not a question of existing treaties, or a question with reference to the construction or interpretation of treaties; but the question is this, whether, under the circumstances of the case, a powerful Government may not, with firmness and temper, obtain relief. It is a case in which a powerful Minister may obtain that relief. I do not say from Spain, for it is a weak Power; but it might be obtained, under the circumstances of the case, from the greatest Power of the world, if it were 814 going to enjoy the commercial advantages which the country in question is about to obtain. I do not doubt that the Secretary of State, when he gives more mature consideration to the circumstances, will find there are means by which a remedy may be obtained. I do not say that a retaliatory policy should necessarily be adopted; I say that it is the specific remedy before us if it should be necessary; but I cannot doubt but that a representation from the British Government to the Spanish Government at this moment would be received with the greatest consideration; and when I learn that it is the conviction of the commercial public of England that a retaliatory policy might obtain for this country the same remedial consequences that it has obtained for the American public, I cannot doubt that, if it shall be necessary, a retaliatory policy will be adopted, or some arrangement come to that will satisfy the necessities of the English public.
§ MR. HUME
could not but think that the hon. Gentleman had given an answer to himself. On reference to the return of shipping at Havannah, he found for one English vessel, fifteen or twenty Americans; and on examining the exports and imports, the hon. Member would find that America was able to supply staves, provisions, and all the articles the colony wanted, and took from that colony its sugar and produce. The Americans, had therefore, the double advantage—they went there with a cargo of the produce of their country, which was required by that colony, and they brought back the produce of that colony in return. But what did they (the English) do? They had not provisions or other articles which that colony required. They had manufactured articles, it was true, but they went in very small bulk compared with the produce of that colony. America, from its proximity, was peculiarly favoured in carrying that produce; but what did they (the English) do? Did they take any of its sugar? No, they rejected its sugar; and could they be surprised that the Americans, going with a cargo and taking a cargo in return, were able to have the carrying trade, while they were deprived of it? But they had done something for the cure of this during the present Session; and the moment they received in England the produce of that colony, they would see that English shipping would be employed. It was their own fault that they had hitherto been excluded; but now that Government were taking 815 measures for admitting the produce of those colonies, they would thereby be enabled to obtain the advantages of which heretofore they had been deprived.
§ Order of the Day read.