§ Report of the Committee upon the Customs on Corn. On the question that the Resolutions of the Committee be read,
SIR J. TYRRELL
said, he trusted that he should not be unnecessarily occupying the attention of the House whilst he read a letter which he then held in his hand. He did not wish to delay the business of the evening, and he would best consult the convenience of the House by at once reading the letter. But, in order to explain its contents, he must state that the worthy Alderman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, had the other night stated, that, as a member of a corporate body, he had 786 lately let a farm at a very low rate. The impression which the statement of the worthy Alderman had made had been so great upon the right hon. Baronet, that he had cheered it, he might say, vociferously, and hon. Gentlemen opposite had joined in the chorus of applause. As the impression made by the statement had been so great, he felt it his duty to read the letter, which threw a good deal of light upon the statement. He assured the House that he could vouch for the truth of the letter, and if the hon. Baronet who usually sat in that place (Sir R. H. Inglis) had been present, he could have confirmed its accuracy. As it was, he should be happy to show the letter to any hon. Gentleman who communicated with him in private. The letter was from an Essex farmer. Essex farmers had frequently been alluded to during this debate, and this was a letter from one of them. The letter was as follows:—I see my friend, Mr. Alderman Copeland, mentioned in the House of Commons on Friday"—
§ THE SPEAKER
It is against the rule of the House that any hon. Member should read any letter which takes notice of anything said in this House.
SIR. J. TYRRELL
Well then, it has been asserted by Mr. Alderman Copeland, that—"he, 'as belonging to a corporate body, had lately let a farm in Yorkshire, containing nearly 900 acres, to a farmer from Essex, at an increased rent of 200l. per annum: and that he preferred such facts to all the arguments and eloquence on the opposite side.' I am fearful this statement will injure our cause; and as I know the facts of the case, having been requested to look over it for my friend who hired it, I am induced to furnish you with the exact circumstances of the case, and shall feel obliged by your mentioning them as soon as you can in the House of Commons, and you will do our cause much good, as you will find the worthy Alderman has not stated the whole facts of the case. This farm had been let in 1832 at a reduced rent of 200l., making the rent 1,200l., having previously been 1,400l. The person who has now hired it did at last agree to give the old rent of 1,400l., the company to whom this property belonged having determined to take no less than that rent. But my friend has now hired it on such conditions as to make the present hiring far preferable to the old one. The landlords are now bound to expend a considerable sum, estimated by their surveyor at about 2,000l, in erecting new buildings, fences, &c., to find all tiles for draining, to allow sixty acres of grass to be broken up and converted to arable; and this farm being of a fine rich deep staple, the tenant is also allowed to farm on the five-course system, taking oats after wheat, which the old tenant was debarred from doing. But, above all, a clause is to be inserted in the lease, that in the event of agricultural protection being withdrawn, that the tenant is at liberty to quit the farm by giving 787 notice—in the event of its operation being to reduce the prices of his produce; and should his landlords not agree to let it to him on such terms as he might feel safe in continuing the occupation, he would be at liberty to leave it.He regretted that the worthy Alderman was not in his place. Though his statement was not true, it certainly had been well invented. But it was like some faces, which, if you gave them a slight twist, altogether altered their expressions. If the hon. Member for Stockport had been in his place he would have alluded to the case which he had brought forward, and which, he was convinced, rested upon an equally good foundation.
§ Upon the Resolution with regard to Indian Corn,
had been in hopes, from the observations of the right hon. Baronet, that a few words would have been introduced with respect to this article, to make it more palatable to the agriculturists of the country. The right hon. Baronet had said, that he would limit the period for the operation of the Treasury order, by which the farmers of England would at once be exposed to the competition of rice and buck-wheat. He objected, upon principle, to the reduction of this duty; but it would withdraw no small share of his opposition if the words, "for a period of three or four months," or of some stated period, were introduced to limit the operation of this reduction. The right hon. Baronet would see that that section of the House were desirous of offering no opposition to the introduction of produce, for the relief of Ireland; but they wanted that a temporary remedy alone should be applied to a temporary evil. Perhaps the right hon. Baronet would state his intentions upon this point, before he proceeded with any general observations he had to offer upon the subject.
§ SIR R. PEEL
I wish to explain what my proposition is. I propose that by law there should be a permanent reduction of the duty upon Indian maize and corn, and upon buck-wheat and rice; that the duty shall be reduced to a mere nominal amount; and that this shall be the permanent law of the land, and shall take effect as soon as this Bill shall have received the consent of the Legislature and the Royal assent. With respect to buck-wheat, rice, and Indian corn, however, I propose, when the Resolution respecting these articles shall have been reported, to issue a Treasury order, remitting the present legal amount of duty to a nominal rate; such Treasury 788 order to have effect only until the Bill shall have passed both Houses of Parliament and received the Royal assent. By these means we shall leave the duty entirely in the competency of Parliament either to reduce or to continue it; but I cannot consent to alter the determination, by inserting the words suggested by the hon. Member. I propose for the permanent law of the land that the duty upon Indian corn or maize should be reduced to a nominal duty, but that the immediate operation of the measure should be merely temporary.
§ SIR R. PEEL
No Indian corn will be admitted without the bond of the importer to pay the higher duty, if the change is not sanctioned by Parliament.
trusted that the right hon. Baronet would forgive him for not having distinctly understood the answer which he had given; but it was most desirable that the matter should be made clear both to the House and to the country. He would now refer to the subject more directly before the House. The properties of Indian corn, or maize, were little understood in this country; but he trusted that the agriculturists of England would now begin to understand them. Maize was in itself, as to its quality, in cereal crops next to wheat. If they took a bushel of maize it was equal to 1¾ bushels of barley, and to three bushels of oats. As to nutritive properties, that was the relative proportion between Indian corn and oats and barley. But how did it stand as to wheat? There could be no doubt Indian corn would be used largely instead of barley and oats. He understood from a friend of his, that Indian corn could be brought to the port of Liverpool under 20s. per quarter. They were told that competition would have the effect of stimulating agriculture; but the agriculturists would by the present Resolution be placed in this position, that whereas they could compete with foreigners in wheat, barley, and oats, with regard to Indian corn they could carry against him no competition at all. Mr. Cobbett had tried to introduce Indian corn into this country, but, from the temperature, had completely failed. This article appeared to require a temperature of between 75 and 80 in the summer to ripen it. He had tried to cultivate it in the west of England rather largely, but he had only succeeded in ripening the maize once in three years. So it was quite impracticable 789 for the English farmer to compete with the American grower. The great western States of America as well as the southern were very well adapted for its growth; but what he wanted to inquire was, whether its introduction into this country would only interfere by competing with barley and oats? He said no. It would enter very seriously into competition with wheat. If the House looked to the quantity of wheat consumed in this country and America, they would see how completely it served as a substitute for wheat. There the consumption of wheat was one quarter for each individual, whereas in America each individual merely consumed three and a half bushels. Now, what could be the reason of this? Labour was better—employment more abundant — wages higher — and wheaten bread cheaper than in England. It arose solely from the constant use of Indian corn instead of wheat. It was stated by those who had travelled much in the United States that the greater portion of the population if they had what they called "corn-bread," or bread made from Indian corn, and wheaten bread offered to them, they would prefer the corn-bread. He had been contradicted when he had mentioned the large quantity grown in the United States last year, and from confounding quarters with bushels, he had certainly exaggerated the gross amount; but from a circular from Mr. Martin, dated "Mobile, Nov. 20, 1845," he found that the crop of wheat grown last year in America was 2,500,000 quarters, and that of Indian corn there had been grown no less than 700,000,000 bushels. That amounted to upwards of 87,000,000 quarters. This was the authority for the statement he had previously made. Now, when they looked at the immense quantity produced in the United States, when they remembered that the temperature of that country was particularly fitted for it, and that the temperature of this country did not suit it; that, in America, it was useful in cleansing the land, and that it could be brought into the English market at the price of 20s. per quarter, duty paid; they were bound to look at its effect, not only upon oats and barley — much of which it would supersede — but they ought also to look at its effects upon wheat itself. He had been very anxious to learn something relative to the use that could be made of this Indian corn, as an article of food in this country; and he was only sorry that from the data in his possession he was not 790 enabled to inform the House that it could never be made very palatable to an English consumer. He had in his hand a letter giving an account of its preparation for the table, and the following was the manner in which the writer described it:—Corn meal is the flour of which I send you a specimen, and when mixed with water, and made into stir about, it is called mush; and done stiff, it is called hommany. Now we pay at New York 100 cents, i. e. one dollar (4s. 4d. for 100 lbs. of this meal at retail shops. A full half pint weighs half a pound, and that will take up, after the manner of arrow-root, full five times the quantity of water—say two pints and a-half: and when served, it will be as much as four hearty people can eat at one meal. Now this would cost about one halfpenny. To make it palatable the Yankees use molasses, or sugar. I use milk and sugar. Some people use salt. I sent to Sir Robert Peel a couple of pounds of the meal, and a pamphlet showing the quantities that could be procured in the United States, and at 75 cents the cwt., which pamphlet said it could be sold at retail in England, after paying 25 cents more for freight and profit on retailing.Thus making out exactly what he had stated—that it could be brought into this country at 20s. per quarter. He trusted that he had now proved to the House that Indian corn furnished food, not only for the consumption of animals, but also that it was very likely to be used in a great measure for human food, and, of course, would in a certain degree preclude the use of wheat; and, as he had before said, while a certain quantity of wheat was placed in competition with this grain, the effect would be to place the British farmer in this position—that, from the peculiarity of his climate, it would be impossible for him to compete with the foreigner in the growth of this article. It would, therefore, have an additional effect upon the farmer; and, although gentlemen talked of stimulating industry by the competition of free trade, the proposed measures would not have that effect in this particular trade, but would place the farmer under a disadvantage, because, as he had observed, from the peculiarity of our climate, it would be impossible for him to enter successfully into competition with the foreigner. Having made this short statement, it was not his intention at present to divide upon the question, because he considered that there was a general feeling in the House that with the presumed famine in Ireland they should, one and all, whether on the protection benches or the free-trade benches, come forward, and, at any rate, prove to the people there was the same spirit among them to relieve, as far as they were able, 791 the necessities of the people. He had thought it necessary to make this short statement to show that the effect of the introduction of Indian corn would not be small to the agricultural interest, but that it was necessary, both there and elsewhere, the subject should receive the most earnest consideration; and if it were found that it would be prejudicial to English agriculture he hoped and trusted it would receive due consideration in another place. Although, by possibility, the duty might admit of some reduction—and he was glad to hear an hon. Friend of his say, the other night, that the Americans would be willing to pay a higher duty if Indian corn were brought into consumption—yet he was confident the 1s. duty was too low upon an article which was produced in America in immense quantities, and the introduction of which would drive out of profitable cultivation much of the land of this country. He, therefore, entered his protest against the proposition, at the same time thanking the right hon. Baronet for having so far acquiesced in the views of himself and his friends as to make the measure in the first instance only a temporal one.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that he was extremely glad to hear the hon. Member for Somersetshire declare that it was not his intention to divide the House upon this subject. He was sure nobody who had heard from his hon. Friend in the course of the speeches which he had delivered on the propositions of Her Majesty's Government—declarations couched in the strongest and most emphatic language—of his sincere sympathy for that part of the population who were dependent for food on the potato—nobody, he said, who had heard those declarations could have failed to see that they were made in perfect sincerity, and in entire accordance with the general character of his hon. Friend's feelings and conduct. And he himself placing the most perfect reliance upon their sincerity, was extremely glad that, on reflection, his hon. Friend did not think it necessary to divide against the proposition now before the House. For what was the present position of the question? His hon. Friend was influenced by fears which he believed to be exceedingly exaggerated. Notwithstanding the high authorities which his hon. Friend had quoted, he believed it to be incorrect that 700,000,000 bushels of Indian corn were grown in the United States. He would not now enter into particulars—he did not 792 know that it would be right for him to refer to all the details upon which he had occasion to form his opinion; but when his hon. Friend said that Indian corn could be imported into Liverpool at 20s. a quarter, duty free, he was convinced that he was giving way to apprehensions and statements which were altogether erroneous, and that the apprehensions which he entertained would admit of being considerably reduced. They all knew that a large portion of the population of Ireland was wholly dependent upon the potato for food; and he was sure gentlemen would agree with him that by their proceedings in that House they would better the condition of the people of Ireland if they could bring them into a habit of depending upon a higher kind of food: if, while they diffused amongst them a taste for a higher kind of food, they could also introduce amongst them habits of industry and improvement calculated to furnish them with the means of procuring that higher food, they would be effecting one of the greatest practical improvements which this country was capable of accomplishing. Even in the most afflicting dispensations of Providence there was ground for consolation, and often even occasion for congratulation. He hoped and trusted that grounds for consolation would be found in the present instance by regarding it as an opportunity for making the people of Ireland desirous of a higher kind of food, and that in future times the present time of trial would be pointed to as an opportunity which had been seized for the accomplishment of a great improvement. That House had already done a great deal by introducing the measures which had been earlier referred to, proposed by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government for effecting local improvements in Ireland; but how could those measures be carried out, unless by providing for the Irish people nutriment at a reasonable price; and how could that nutriment be afforded, except through the means now proposed? He would read to the House a description of maize, given in a book which they were accustomed to refer to as an authority—a book written some time ago—and therefore this description could not be supposed to have been introduced for the purpose of the present discussion, In M'Culloch's "Dictionary of Commerce" he found it stated of maize:—The straw makes excellent fodder; and the grain as a bread-corn is liked by some; but, though it abounds in mucilage, it contains little 793 or no gluten, and is not likely to be much used by those who can procure wheaten or even rye bread.He had that morning received a letter from an individual who, from his official responsibility, had been under the necessity of making himself thoroughly acquainted with that portion of the question relating to Ireland. It should be remarked that the writer of the letter never supposed that his remarks would be used for the purposes of the present debate. The name of the gentleman was Sir R. Routh. He said:—We have to obtain favour for this new food at the beginning, which in the end will be the greatest possible boon to Ireland; for I apprehend, as a food, the potato will never be what it has been, nor can the people ever place the same confidence in its growth. It will in time resume its proper station as a vegetable, and cease to be a staple article of food. Thus it appears to me there can be no reasonable competition between corn, meal, and oatmeal.The hon. Member for Somersetshire would rejoice at the prospect of the people of Ireland being induced, and at the same time enabled to have recourse to a higher species of food; and he could not but feel that any apprehension of the wheat of England suffering from the competition alluded to was wholly unworthy, in importance, to be placed in the scale with the vast social improvement which would accrue to Ireland. A noble Lord had introduced the other evening some specimens of potatoes, grown by Mr. Chapman, of Chiswick, which were exceedingly healthy, though grown from slips of diseased potatoes. From personal inquiries, and from the accounts which he had received, he thought there was more reason to fear, lest diseased potatoes should in the coming year result from slips that had appeared to be sound, than for the hon. Member for Somersetshire to entertain any unfounded expectations that he should be able to replace a large growth of unsound potatoes by propagating sound ones from slips taken from diseased potatoes. He believed that the interposition now necessary under the pressure of an expected famine would not be continued in future years. He believed that the potato would of necessity recede somewhat from the position it had occupied as a staple food, and would take its place as an ordinary vegetable. If this would be done concurrently with enabling the Irish people to occupy themselves upon useful works, and to learn habits of industry, it would be the greater blessing to Ireland; and there 794 were no grounds for apprehending any unseasonable competition of Indian corn meal with the produce of the British agriculturist. The determination of the hon. Member for Somersetshire not to go to a division was a very gracious determination, and one that would be duly appreciated; and in coming to it, he had exercised a most sound discretion.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had no wish to interrupt the arrangement proposed for the benefit of Ireland; but he wished to disabuse the House of the impression that maize, or Indian corn, would become a substitute for the potato. As to its coming in competition with oats, he could only say that, in the United States, it was universally used in preference.
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
wished to remove the impression of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, that this was a mere temporary infliction which had to be provided for. There were several facts which induced him to believe the contrary. In one neighbourhood, he understood, the potatoes had been diseased ten or twelve years; the disease had appeared in different forms; but, in the year before last, it had assumed that which it now presented; and there was no reason to apprehend that it would be removed speedily. It had always been found that, whenever there was a deficiency of the potato crop in one year, in the next the people were induced to dig them too soon, before they were ripe, and that created this year's scarcity. For this and other reasons, it would be very unwise in the House to expect that they were not called upon to provide for future scarcity. But be that as it might, the greatest blessing that could be conferred upon the people of Ireland would be to furnish a food which would lead them not to look to the potato as their sole resource; nothing would add so much to the prosperity of that country as a supply of food which should be a substitute for the potato. Independently of that, the greatest boon that could be conferred on Ireland would be to give cheap food to the people. If this were not done, the people could not be employed at such wages as would give them the means of purchasing food. They must both employ the people, and furnish them such food as they could not obtain by the result of their labour alone. Plentiful employment and cheap food were the greatest benefits that could be conferred on the people of Ireland; and he anxiously wished to see the 795 one shilling taken off which was proposed to be levied on Indian corn. Many hon. Gentlemen in that House seemed not to know how the poor of Ireland lived. It had been said, on the late occasion, that 3d. a stone was not an extravagant price for potatoes; but, for the great bulk of the Irish people it was a starvation price. If a family, consisting of a man, his wife, and five children, were wholly fed upon potatoes, they would require a bushel a day, which, at 3d. a stone, cost 20d., or nearly 11s. a week. How then were the people to live, when the average of their wages, as proved by the Commission of Inquiry, was only 2s. 4d. or 2s. 6d. a week, unless, by some means or other, they were furnished with cheap food? Those who stood in the way of the people of Ireland getting cheap food were responsible for all their afflictions and miseries, and for the disease and death which were the necessary consequences. He hoped the House would admit this corn free of duty, if possible; but, at any rate, not at a higher duty than that proposed.
§ MR. HUME
said, he had recently conversed with a gentleman who had travelled in every part of America, and who stated that, notwithstanding every effort had been made there to stop the potato disease, it had gone on for three years; and there was great reason to fear that we should have it for the same period in England. If there was anything he hoped for, it was the very reverse of what was desired by the hon. Member for Somersetshire. He hoped that the Indian corn would come in competition with home-grown corn, and that the people might thus obtain a cheap and wholesome nutriment. He regretted that any opposition should be made to the measure, with the present appearances, not only in Ireland, but along the whole of the west of Scotland, and in the Highlands. It was a most fortunate thing that there was likely to be a quantity of this Indian corn sufficient to avert what might otherwise be a most serious famine; and on that ground he concurred in the desirableness of remitting even the shilling duty.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, that the Irish landowners were to blame for the extremely low rate of wages in that country. With such wages as had been alluded to, no wonder that discontent there prevailed, though the people were naturally kind-hearted and peaceable. The best remedy for the distress of Ireland would be a fair day's wages for a fair day's work, and re- 796 sident landlords. He deplored the condition of the Irish people as much as any one; bnt he denied that the measures of Government would alleviate that condition. It appeared, from the statement of the hon. Member for Rochdale, that this was not a temporary evil, but one that had existed for some years. If so, why had not the Government had earlier intimation of it? They ought to know everything that was going on in every county in the kingdom. He could not help thinking that the House ought to pass a censure on the Government for their ignorance of the state of the people of Ireland.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
said, in explanation, that the report made by the Land Commission was the authority on which he founded his belief, that the average wages of the agricultural labourers did not exceed 2s. 6d. per week.
The EARL of MARCH
remarked that it had been stated by the hon. Member for Montrose that the disease in potatoes was not only prevalent in America, but also in Scotland; he begged to inform the hon. Member, that he was able to state, upon the authority of letters received by himself, that in Morayshire and Ayrshire there never had been a more abundant crop, and that there was not the slightest appearance of disease.
§ SIR A. BROOKE
denied that the Irish peasantry were so badly paid for their labour as was generally supposed. There were few of them that did not receive 3s. 6d., 4s., 5s., and 5s. 6d. weekly; and when employed by the gentry they were paid 10d. or 1s. a day. He was one of those who thought that it would be most desirable that food of a better and higher quality were introduced for the consumption of the Irish population, and he could not speak upon that occasion without thanking Her Majesty's Government and that House for the anxiety that had been so universally expressed on account of the coming scarcity in Ireland, and to make provision for it. At the same time he thought that their present measures would be of little avail, unless they adopted some measures for the general employment of the peasantry. He remembered to have seen oats, the only agricultural produce consumed by the Irish poor, as low as 10s. and 11s. the quarter; and yet, during the season that the article was at that low price, never was there more poverty and distress. And why? Because the farmers holding 5, 10, 15, or 20 acres, having 797 little remuneration for their crops, gave but little employment to the peasantry. The peasantry in that case could only hope for employment from the gentry, who looked after their own property. He could say, that at that season the landed gentry of the north of Ireland—for he knew but little of the south—during the months of May, June, and July, employed from 100 to 200 persons extra on their estates, for the purpose of giving them employment. What he wished was, that the Government should give employment to the people. He frankly told them not to have much confidence in the projected railways. He thought that one of the greatest misfortunes for Ireland would be a great number of railways, such as were now being run through all parts of the country. Time would show whether or not his fears were justified. He believed, that if they had had two great trunk lines they would be found to be productive of good; but in the present state of Ireland, it was not in a condition to maintain so many railways as were then Bills for making them going-through the other House. It had no great manufactures; it had no means of traffic; it had not the means to maintain, in a profitable condition, the various lines that were about to be carried over its surface. Let them, he said, have peace and quietness, and then they would be able to provide employment for their peasantry. The landed proprietors should put their shoulders to the wheel. It was upon them the Government, that House, and England should call, and insist that they should perform their duty. It was they who should be obliged to pay every shilling they could afford, and he would say at such a moment as this even still more, in order that the poor might be provided with food and employment. He knew that the great body of the landed proprietors of Ireland were well prepared to meet the present exigency, and to provide for the sustentation of the poor on their own property; but there were three classes of landlords who were not so disposed, and yet who ought to be forced to perform their duty. These three classes were the absentees, the middlemen, and the squireens. Yes, the squireens; these were small landed proprietors, with perhaps 500l. a year, and who lived at the rate of 5,000l. a year. He did not mean that they spent that amount; but they aped the extravagancies, and imitated the habits, and pretended to be able to incur the expenses of men who 798 had 5,000l. a year; for they had their hunters and dogs, and aimed at a style which they could not support but by screwing the very last farthing out of their unfortunate tenants. He said, if they wanted to make Ireland prosperous, they must devise the means by which they might reach these three classes. He might remind the House and the Government that it would be well to devise the means by which the Poor Law guardians, in the different districts, might reach these classes; for instance, in the present scarcity, for he did not believe that there would be a famine; but in those districts in which there might be a scarcity, he said, it would be well if Her Majesty's Government could give a power to the Poor Law guardians of laying on extra poor rates, to be paid by the landlords, middlemen, and the absentees. When he talked thus of absentees, he did not wish to be understood as including all absentee landlords as coming under the definition of bad landlords. He knew, for instance, that Lord Fitzwilliam, and the Duke of Devonshire, and other landlords, resident in this country, were amongst the good landlords—as good as resident landlords; but then there were numbers of others who never thought of their tenantry. He could name some of them who had never seen one of their tenants for thirty years; and the consequence was that the resident landlords had to provide for the unfortunate people thus cruelly neglected by those who ought to be their protectors.
§ MR. P. SCROPE
considered that some measures ought to be devised by which they might give to the poor of Ireland the right to relief in the districts in which they resided. He could not help observing that there could, by no possibility, be a scarcity in Ireland, if the food grown in Ireland were left in Ireland. Even since the time that it had been formally announced by the right hon. Gentleman that famine was impending over that country, immense quantities of provisions had been exported from it. Oats might be wanted in Scotland and in the west of England, but assuredly those who had the first right to them were the people by whom they had been produced; they knew that on a former occasion when the people of Ireland were starving, that oats were exported from Ireland to this country, sold here to pay the rents of the Irish landlords, and then returned back to Ireland, when paid for here, to feed the tenants of these same landlords. If the 799 people here were starving, property would be rated to pay for their support, and he could not see any good reason why this should not be done in Ireland.
§ MR. B. ESCOTT
thought that the people of Ireland should be provided with cheap food, but it was necessary care should be taken that there were no legislative acts in force by which the food so much wanted was limited. If wages were so low that it was impossible for the best disposed to give more than 5s. a week to their labourers, that was a sufficient reason why the Government should take care not to raise the price of food. Some observations had been made in the earlier part of the evening respecting the use of Indian corn. He was most happy to think that the labour of introducing this matter had been taken out of his hands. The hon. Member for Somersetshire had supplied all that he himself could have argued upon to the House in favour of letting in a supply of Indian corn. The hon. Gentleman had proved in several statements that Indian corn was a most excellent article of food. He did not dispute his authority. The only difference between them was, that the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) thought that because it was a good article it ought to be kept out of the country; whereas he thought that in consequence of its being a good article it ought to be admitted into the country. He must beg that hon. Gentleman to reflect that not only here, but at that moment in many parts of the United Kingdom, and even in his own county, there was very great apprehension existing of a scarcity of food. It was not only a scarcity of corn, but also a scarcity of meat, which scarcity had been principally caused by the bad fodder of last spring, and winter; but the introduction of Indian corn would remedy that. It had been stated that a large supply of that article could not be brought into use on account of the heavy duty imposed upon it. A large cargo of Indian corn had lately been obliged to be reshipped at one of our ports in consequence of the duty; and while hundreds of our cattle were dying from starvation, that cargo was sent to Holland to feed the Dutch cattle. It had been said, that he had alluded to the feeding of pigs with Indian corn—that he had stated it to be food good only for pigs. He certainly had not stated any such thing; but where an agricultural labourer of the better class, and superior to the poorer parishioners, was enabled to keep a pig, 800 in nine cases out of ten he was obliged to pawn half of the pig before he killed it, to assist him in paying for its food. What a blessing it would be to that man were a cheaper kind of meat introduced for pigs. He could, then, keep the whole animal for himself and family. Nothing would exalt the condition of the agricultural labourer more than having a better supply of animal food than was at present in his power. It would be a great benefit to the agricultural interest, by giving excellent food for fattening stock and geese and poultry. In want and distress Indian corn would also afford a supply of cheap food to the population. But he thought that the extension of trade and commerce, which would follow the present measure, would raise the markets for agricultural produce to an extent which would amply repay them for the temporary reduction on other grains. He would ask what it was that gave a stimulus to agriculture, and raised its condition two or three years ago? It was the increase of employment and the growth of trade and commerce consequent upon the relaxation of the whole commercial system carried at that time in the House of Parliament.
§ CAPTAIN HARRIS
said, that he had that day been informed by market gardeners residing in the neighbourhood of London, that the "rot" was showing itself to a considerable degree amongst the young potatoes; and within the last few days he had read a letter, written by a large landed proprietor of the county Clare, which stated that great distress prevailed, and cases of fever had occurred in consequence of the diseased condition of the potato. Under these circumstances, he suggested that a temporary law for the purpose of preventing the exportation of potatoes might be adopted with advantage.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
considered that the Legislature should be much indebted to the Member for Winchester, for having directed attention to the advantages which would be conferred upon the population of the country by the introduction of Indian corn. He found that Father Mathew had also approved of it as an article of food for the people of Ireland. It was very extensively used in Italy, and especially in Tuscany, the peasantry of which were the best fed and most comfortably clothed in Europe. As to the palatable nature of the food, very much would depend upon the manner of its preparation for use; it would require extreme boiling. He considered Indian corn 801 next to wheat, and he begged leave to differ from the First Lord of the Treasury, who termed oats a nobler kind of grain.
§ MR. FITZGERALD
begged to state that the deficient payment of the labourer in Ireland did not arise from a want of good will on the part of the landlord, but from the number of people out of employment. He considered that railways in Ireland would be of vast and almost permanent advantage in removing this evil; and he felt no doubt that the country would be most grateful for any benefits bestowed upon them. He did not consider that it would be fair that the whole burden of relieving the poor of their districts should be cast upon the landlords of the absentee estates, as it had been suggested by an hon. Member; but he did consider that they ought to be made to pay their just proportion, and he felt that this visitation of Providence would be the means of restoring the Irish people to their proper position.
§ MR. G. PALMER
said, that it would be impossible for those people to buy Indian corn who could not afford even to purchase oats. The Indian corn would be entirely grown abroad, and paid for by the produce of this country. It was a material point in the question, that every thing would require to be paid for. If they could persuade people to take their goods all would be well. But manufacturers were increasing abroad every day; and they would still, therefore, have to look to the home supply for the maintenance of the people. He thought there were more Members on his side of the House ready and willing to support the people of Ireland, than there were on the Opposition benches and among those who wished for a repeal of the Corn Laws. He was quite satisfied, that if Indian corn were imported into this country, it would be all owing to the alteration of the Tariff of the right hon. Baronet. He was sure every Member of that House would agree to afford relief to the Irish people. How could the labourers in that country provide for their families upon two shillings and sixpence a week? It was hardly possible for them to buy even straw to lie upon with so small a sum. He thought that, were they to construct railways through Ireland, it would improve the country directly. Any alteration must be for the better. There would be no fear of the people wanting food if proper employment were found them.
MR. PIERCE BUTLER
observed, that several remarks had been made in the course of this debate which led him to believe that there was a very erroneous impression in the minds of certain hon. Members with respect to the rate of wages usually awarded to Irish labourers. He begged leave to remark, for the information of the House, that in the southern counties of Ireland able-bodied labourers were usually paid at the rate of 5s. or 6s. a week. Eightpence a day was not unfrequently the rate of remuneration enjoyed by labourers of an inferior class; but, generally speaking, there were other extraneous advantages which were highly valuable; such, for instance, as a house rent-free, or grass for a cow. With respect to the Minister's proposition for the introduction of maize duty free, he approved highly of it, and would give it his most cordial support.
§ SIR JOHN RAE REID
observed, that there was no portion of the Ministerial project of which he did not cordially approve; and it would, accordingly, afford him the sincerest pleasure to support it. He had always held the doctrine, that the interests of the agricultural and manufacturing classes in this country were identical; and it was because he knew this to be the fact, that he gave to the propositions of the First Lord of the Treasury his warm and unhesitating assent; for he was confident that those propositions, if carried into operation, would prove in the highest degree beneficial to the best interests of agriculturists as well as of the manufacturers. He implored of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House not to protract this discussion by unnecessary delays; for he spoke advisedly when he assured them that he had the highest possible authority for asserting that trade had in many districts of England suffered most injuriously from the state of uncertainty in which this question had been permitted to rest for such a length of time. He besought them as they valued the welfare of the agricultural and commercial interests — in both of which he had himself a deep personal concern—to come to a decision at once. By the vote which he had given on this question, he was well aware that he had made for himself many enemies; but he was far from regrettting the course he had taken, for that course he had adopted under the strongest possible conviction that he was doing what was best calculated to promote the wealth, 803 happiness, and prosperity of this great Empire. He anticipated the happiest results from the new commercial policy about to be adopted by England; and he was sure that before that time twelve months many of the hon. Members by whom he was surrounded would feel and admit that the opposition which they were now offering to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government was unnecessary, to say the least of it.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that no question raised during these discussions was more deserving the attention of the House than the allusions made to the present condition of the people of Ireland, and to the prospects eventually before them; and if there were no other arguments to show that the Government, in the present circumstances of the country, had adopted the wisest policy in abolishing all restrictions on the introduction of provisions into the country, that argument would be found in what had been stated by hon. Gentlemen as to the condition of the population in Ireland; Indian corn was likely to afford valuable subsistence for them, and to raise the people from the lowest condition, caused by their habitually living on potatoes. He would not make any predictions of what might be the result; but experience showed how the habits of a people might change by a more generous diet. So far as maize should be adopted for potatoes, it must be a beneficial substitute as well in England as in Ireland: though when wheat was at a reasonable price, he did not think it would be superseded by Indian corn. Having been in the Western States of America, he should say that, though maize was palatable and liked by the people, yet when he got to the wheat-growing districts, the general diet was not Indian corn. Upon that occasion he was only anxious to say one word as to the measure of Government in laying out, as he understood, 100,000l. in the purchase of Indian corn for use in Ireland. He did not presume to blame the course taken by the Government. He admitted that under special circumstances, and for the relief of local, not general, distress, the Government might go into the market and make a purchase; but at the same time, that principle ought to be carried out with the utmost caution. Some Gentlemen said that there were plenty of oats, and asked why the Government did not enter the market and purchase them? Nothing, however, could be more fatal than for a Government to appear in the markets 804 of their own country as purchasers. The admirable principles laid down by Burke, in his Thoughts on Scarcity, could never be departed from without mischief; it was fatal to teach the people to rely on the Government for food. Sharing in the wish that there should be no unnecessary delay in passing the Resolution, and in relieving trade from the sad state of uncertainty under which it had laboured for some weeks, and which had produced an unfortunate effect in the manufacturing and commercial districts, it would be inexcusable in him to detain the House longer; and he had only risen to state his satisfaction at finding the Government propose the only real policy which would in the long run improve the condition of the people of this country, by laying open the avenues of commerce, and by allowing a supply of food to be brought in in such a manner as the course of trade, which was truly said to be the course of nature, would arrange; and he thought the proposal especially valuable, because it added an article to our imports which was inferior only to the noblest of all grains—wheat. He regretted to say that, of late years, he had seen the people of the west of England, and particularly in West Somersetshire, becoming more and more a potato-fed population. He would be glad to rescue them from this downward tendency in their physical habits and moral condition; and, anticipating the happiest results from the Government measures, he should continue to give, as he had already given, them his hearty support.
§ MR. FINCH
said, that however true it might be that the population of the country should not look to the Government for a supply of food, that abstract principle must be thrown aside when necessity demanded a supply; and he considered that the Government were perfectly warranted and justified in importing a quantity of Indian corn to meet the emergency. With respect to that commodity becoming a substitute for wheat or potatoes, that was, in his opinion, perfectly absurd, as they did not know but before the end of the present year they would be at war with America; and in case that should occur, of course their supply would be instantly stopped. Therefore, he said, it would be an unwise policy to attempt to induce the population of the country to give up their usual food, and depend upon a supply of a different description, that might be stopped at any moment. With respect to what had been 805 said, as to the downward course of depending altogether upon potatoes, however true that might be, he was strongly of opinion that the introduction of any other species of food would not put a stop to their use amongst the Irish people. He considered that the quantity of foreign grain that might be introduced into the country would affect the agricultural interests; yet he had no objection to any temporary importation of maize or other commodity to meet the pending emergency. With regard to the remark of the right hon. Baronet who sat behind him, as to the necessity that existed for the debate being concluded, in order that the importations should take place immediately, he was of opinion that that question should be discussed freely, as every night that it continued some additional evidence was given of important matters that should be known to the country.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
was understood to say, that he thought if proper steps had been taken in time, a great deal of the mischief that had occurred in the potato crops in Ireland might have been remedied. He had received a report of a number of experiments that had been recently made by the gardener to the Duke of Portland, which, with the permission of the House, he would read for the benefit of those who might hereafter have their potato crops affected by disease. His Lordship read as follows:—No. 1, kiln-dried according to the recommendation of the Government professors—nearly all rotten; a few eyes have sprouted, but very weak. No. 2, and according to the plan recommended by Mr. Reece, of Piccadilly, i. e., fumigated with chlorine gas, not quite so bad as No. 1, there being more in a vegetating state, but the shoots very weak. No. 3, dried with magnesian quicklime in layers—the potatoes are quite sound, and where the eyes have sprung are healthy. No. 4, cured with charcoal dust in layers—sound; eyes not so much grown as No. 3, but healthy. No. 5, cured with burnt clay and peat—a good many diseased, but where the eyes have sprung are healthy. The potatoes planted in pots in the hothouses for experiment were numbered as follows:—Lot, No. 1, cured according to the plan of Mr. Reece, i. e. fumigated with chlorine gas, did not vegetate; Lot, No. 2, kiln-dried, according to the professors' plan, did not vegetate; Lot, No. 3, dried with magnesian quick lime are quite healthy, the stalks and leaves not the least affected, but being late potatoes the young tubers are not large enough yet to show any trace of disease; twelve pots of the same sort of potatoes, much diseased, but with no preparation, were planted at the same time: a few vegetated, and are growing strong, and no sign of the disease spreading on the stalks or young tubers.The person who had made these experi- 806 ments had told him that all the early potatoes looked as well, as if not better, than they usually did at this season of the year; but they would not be ready before the end of March; and he further stated that he had no reason to think that the diseased potato-seed would produce diseased potatoes; and he also mentioned that he had heard that the disease had not extended much within the last three months; the only loss that had taken place was, where the potatoes had been pitted in a wet state, and not looked to. He had also received from the same person a remedy for curing potatoes that were diseased by means of quick lime, which he would also read to the House. It was as follows:—The following was the result of the magnesian lime upon two loads of the very worst potatoes they could pick out at the farm—they were spread out on the floor of a peach house, and the stench was quite disagreeable, a great many being in a state of putrefaction. Having dusted them all over with a coat of lime newly slacked, next day the lime took nearly all the smell away, and brought a deal of water out of the worst. We kept dusting some fresh every day, till the rotten part was converted into starch, the solid parts dried and turned quite green. I put them all into a ridge, and on looking at it yesterday I found the eyes of many had sprung, and were forming fine healthy shoots, some of them four inches long, and quite white.He (Lord George Bentinck) thought these important pieces of information; and therefore he took leave to read them to the House, as he thought it desirable that they should be read to the country. He knew that the quantity of lime that it would be necessary to expend upon potatoes that were diseased would cost about 6d. a sack; and in ordinary times potatoes sold at about 4s. 6d. or 5s. a sack. Thus, if potatoes were diseased, by the expenditure of 6d. a sack they could be saved, and therefore it was a piece of information that he thought should be extended to Ireland and other parts of the country. An hon. Member had stated that by the introduction of maize into this country, a person who had formerly been able to keep one pig would be able to keep two. He inquired how that could be, as the highest duty that could be demanded at any time upon maize was 11s., and the original cost of that commodity was 20s. He could not see, therefore, how a farmer would, by the removal of 11s. duty off a 20s. article, be enabled to feed double the quantity of stock at the same expense as one-half had cost him when paying that amount of duty.
§ Resolutions agreed to, and Bills ordered to be brought in.
§ The House resolved itself into Committee on the Customs' and Corn Importation Acts, to consider the remainder of the Articles on the Tariff. The following were agreed to:—
|Bandstring Twist, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Bandstring Twist, of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Barley, Pearled, the cwt||0||1||0|
|Barley, Pearled, of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||0||6|
|Bast Ropes, Twines, and Strands, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Bast Ropes, Twines, of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Beads, Arango, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Beads, Coral, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Beads, Crystal, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Beads, Jet, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Beads, not otherwise enumerated or described, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Beer or Mum, the barrel||1||0||0|
|Blacking, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
§ MR. EWART
said, that the duty on foreign books was a subject in which he felt a very deep interest, since it was intimately connected with the diffusion of literature in this country. The duties at present levied on foreign hooks were of a very anomalous description. In the first place, a distinction of duty was drawn between books printed before the year 1801, and hooks printed subsequently. The former were admitted at a duty of 1l. the cwt. Of books printed since 1801, those in foreign modern languages were taxed with a duty of 2l. 10s. the cwt. All other foreign books paid the large duty of 5l. a cwt. The result of this was, that foreign works in the dead languages paid the highest duty; modern books in living languages the next; and old hooks of the last century (which we wanted least) entered at the lowest duty. Next came works containing engravings to illustrate the text. They paid a twofold duty; one on the book, another on the engravings. The latter, indeed, was only 1d. per engraving, coloured or plain. But it induced the great disadvantage, if not danger, of causing the opening of the books at the Custom-house. It was well known that foreign works on botany, physiology, zoology, and medicine, suffered greatly from this circumstance; and to trade it produced this disadvantage, that much delay was interposed between their arrival and their delivery at the Custom-house. 808 Another evil connected with the present system was, that when books had once been abroad, they were often stopped on their re-importation into this country. He thought these impediments to literature and commerce were a serious injury to the country. All men must have witnessed with pleasure the extended literary intercourse which had lately taken place between this country and various nations on the Continent. Any impediment to that intercourse must be admitted to be a serious evil. Why should we not avail ourselves of the literature of our enlightened neighbours the French? There were certain works of a comprehensive nature which they had produced which we had not. Mr. M'Culloch had said, for example, that such a work as the "Biographic Universelle," the result of the combined labours of many minds, could scarcely be produced in England. It was well known that the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge had endeavoured to achieve the publication of a Biographical Dictionary, and that they were not able to complete the undertaking. Mr. M'Culloch named also another valuable work, which he doubted if we could produce in England. It was the well known work entitled "L'Art de vérifier les Dates." The same remark had also been made as to the two octavo editions of Bayle's Dictionary. Then why not also develop the taste for German literature, which was springing up in this country? No German author was more likely to be popular in England than Schiller, founded as his writings were on the school of Shakspeare; yet such was the effect of the duty, that the best German edition of Schiller's works cost 24s.; whereas the cost, without the duty, would be only 17s. There were also a variety of German school-books which were produced in Germany cheaper than in England. Our best Greek grammars were only translations of German grammars; such were the well-known grammars of Matthiæ and of Buttmann. The smaller editions of the classical authors were also produced in Germany at a cheap rate. A pocket edition of Herodotus, for example, which was now sold in this country for 4s., might be sold, if the duty were taken off, at 2s. 3d. to the trade, and at 3s. or less, to the general purchaser. The same remark was applicable to the small editions of the Greek dramatists. In fact, each of these small volumes without the duty would be saleable at 1s. They were well printed, 809 and were particularly correct. But, perhaps, it might be said that we could not compete in editions of the Classics, with the foreign publisher, because of the excise duty on paper. Such an argument, however, would not apply to the Universities, English, Scotch, or Irish. They were all allowed a drawback on the paper they consumed in printing. The cheapest edition that had been published of "Lindorff's Greek Dramatists" (a work of which Professor Gaisford had spoken with great praise) was an Oxford reprint of the German edition. It had, he believed, sold to a greater extent even than the German edition itself; a fact which certainly gave good ground for hoping that our press could compete successfully with that of any foreign country. The Universities only could compete, because the Universities only had the benefit of the allowance of the duty on paper. His reply was, "Levy then only such a duty on foreign books generally as is equivalent to the duty on paper." But it might be said that the duty on books was necessary to the revenue. Now, what did the duty produce? 14,000l. or 15,000l. a year. Such trifling duties ought not to obstruct the extension of literature, and the enlightenment of the people. He therefore moved, in the first place, that—Books printed in any modern foreign language be admitted duty free.
§ The Question was put that the words be inserted.
§ SIR G. CLERK
admitted that it was extremely desirable that the object of the Motion should be accomplished; but there were other consideratins involved as well as the loss of revenue, which would be 10,000l. It was highly desirable that there should be an interchange of literature between this country and foreign nations; but there was another object also to be kept in view—namely, the suppression of piratical editions of English books on the Continent and in other countries. About two years ago an Act of Parliament (7 and 8 Vic.) had been passed for the purpose of enabling Her Majesty to enter into arrangements with foreign States for the purpose of suppressing literary piracy: in that Act power was given to Her Majesty to reduce the duty on books printed in such States as entered into a treaty of international copyright with England, to the amount of the excise duty upon paper—viz., to 15s. per cwt. That Act applied to works printed in the dead or the living languages. At the present moment, there 810 were negotiations pending on the subject of an international copyright treaty with Prussia and France: those negotiations had already made great progress, and would, he trusted, soon be satisfactorily concluded. At no very distant time, therefore, he trusted that the advantages sought to be obtained by the Motion of the hon. Member would be obtained by these means: while at the same time the additional advantage to the English author and publisher would be derived of the suppression of piratical editions of English works in two of the principal publishing nations of the Continent. Under these circumstances, although, as he had stated, he agreed that the duty on foreign books should be removed from the Tariff as soon as possible, he trusted the hon. Member Would not press his Motion.
§ MR. FORSTER
said, that the question of copyright had nothing whatever to do with the repeal of the duty on foreign printed books in living or dead languages. He did not see why it should be mixed up with the Motion. There was no earthly reason why the foreign student in this country should be debarred from the necessary books, not even that of protection to existing establishments.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
suggested that, as the Act for the establishment of international copyright had only been so very recently passed, and as the Government were on the point of concluding treaties with two great Powers upon the subject, it would not be advisable to throw away the advantage that might be derived by the literary men of this country, by proceeding to a step which would have the effect of rendering the negotiations that had taken place nugatory.
§ MR. C. BULLER
could not see why the question of copyright should be mixed up with the Motion of his hon. Friend, whose object was to obtain a remission of the duty upon foreign books. He approved most fully of the provisions of the Act referred to by the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Clerk), which provided that copyright should be made the subject of international treaties, so as to afford security to authors in this and other countries. He considered the tax on foreign books pressed very heavily upon a class of the community who were, from their situation in life, very 811 poor, and who were thus deprived of the means of prosecuting their own studies, and extending literature in this country. It had been stated by the right hon. Baronet that treaties were in progress on this subject between Prussia, France, and this country; but it must be remembered that there were other nations with which it might not be so easy to effect an arrangement. A great many books were printed in the smaller German States, in Italy, and in Switzerland; and he thought it was most desirable that those publications should be accessible to students in this country, without being subject to a heavy and oppressive duty. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would take the present opportunity of remitting so onerous a tax.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The question was, was it proper to admit foreign literature free of duty? He should like to know what was the whole amount of revenue derived from this tax, and whether that amount would justify legislative interference. He rather thought there was no duty on English works when they entered France. He thought the very fact of introducing the question of copyright showed a great immaturity of thought. It had, he repeated, nothing to do with it. He wanted to know, taking a primâ facie view of the case—primâ facie views were very popular at present—what argument could possibly be introduced to sustain the present imposition of duties. The impost did not come into competition with any branch of native industry; no branch of industry was in danger of suffering from their free importation. In short, there was every inducement to enlightened public men to accede to the Motion. Upon other questions he could understand a desire to keep up revenue, either for maintaining revenue, for protection, or from other motives of policy; but at the moment that the public mind and the mind, of the Government was brought to the remission of tariff on some of those articles most essential to the revenue, he thought that for any Minister to propose to raise a duty on foreign literature was absurd, monstrous, and indefensible, in fact, quite a "curiosity of literature." The system of reciprocity so much insisted on by hon. Gentlemen should surely be adopted in this matter, where no interest could suffer, and where the improvement of the human mind might be promoted and encouraged. He really thought the Government would feel the absolute necessity of not pressing their opposition to the measure.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that he was quite delighted with the speech of the hon. Gentleman, for he now wished to deal with the question in a primâ facie view, while the whole of his argument the other night was that they should do nothing without looking to reciprocity. The House should recollect that negotiations were now being carried on under the faith of an Act of Parliament passed so lately as 1844, in which inducements were held out to foreign countries to enter into treaties with this country on the subject of copyright. He trusted that it would not be thought expedient to abandon the advantages we might obtain under that treaty.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that with respect to reciprocity, of which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken, he would accept the tu quoque. He was quite glad to find the right hon. Gentleman the advocate of reciprocity, and hoped it would be the harbinger of a new system; so that when they came to the next debate they would find that the Cabinet, taking advantage of the three days, would review their policy. He had only spoken of the question under discussion, which had nothing to do with the main question. He thought so still. It had nothing to do with foreign or native copyright. The best thing the Government could do was to accede to the Motion of the hon. Member. He would be certainly glad to find Ministers, upon every other occasion, ready to accept his views and principles respecting reciprocity, which he would be always found ready and willing to vindicate.
§ MR. P. SCROPE
stated that it had been observed by some hon. Member that no foreign books were printed in this country, and that, therefore, there was no competition to fear; but a great many English books were printed abroad at a much less price than they could be in this country, in consequence of the charge of copyright. If they repealed the duty on foreign books altogether, there would be no inducement to pass those reciprocal treaties for the protection of copyright and for the prevention of the printing of piratical editions of English works.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not informed them whether the duty was to be imposed for the sake of protection or of revenue. He thought the question of protection had been disposed of by the hon. Member who had just sat 813 down; and as to the question of revenue, he would ask was it fair, on account of a sum of 10,000l., to refuse to the people of this country the benefit of the knowledge to be derived from a free introduction of foreign literature?
§ SIR G. CLERK
said, the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. P. Scrope) had very fairly stated the principle on which the Government proposed to act. It was extremely desirable for the interests of literature that this country should take every possible means to secure for her authors copyright in foreign conntries. This country could not produce pirated foreign works, as they could not be published cheaper here than in foreign countries, and therefore the entire benefit of an international copyright regulation would devolve on this country alone. Consequently the only equivalent which England could offer to foreign countries for such an arrangement would be the admission of their works at a duty amounting merely to the excise duty on the paper used; and if the Motion of the hon. Member were agreed to there would thus be but little chance of inducing foreign countries to agree to the arrangement which they proposed.
MR. B. HOPE
could not see that this question had anything to do with copyright. He was anxious to see the elaborate and splendidly illustrated foreign works introduced into this country, partly, perhaps, from a selfish motive, for he had been purchasing several such works lately at a great expense; but partly, also, with a view of shaming our own literati, whose attempts in this way were utterly disgraceful as compared with those on the Continent. He should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Dumfries, if he made it clear before they went to a division, that his proposition did not extend to the introduction of the piratical editions of English works.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he did not see why there should necessarily be any confusion arise from two distinct ideas being considered together. It was quite true that the duty on the importation of foreign books, and the question of copyright, were two distinct matters. The former was interesting to foreign countries, and the 814 latter was chiefly important to this country. The Government simply proposed to foreign countries, "If you assist us in preventing the printing the pirated editions of the works of English authors by your publishers, we in return will remove the duties now chargeable on your books entering our country." The Act of Parliament passed two years ago was intended to effect this purpose; and he thought his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade exercised a sound discretion in not interfering with the provisions of a Statute so recently enacted.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Cardwell), that there was no confusion arising from the two subjects being considered conjointly. What he wanted to know was, whether the principle which they had followed on this subject two years ago were to be still acted upon? He thought the policy of this Session was entirely different from the principles of reciprocity for which the Government contended in regard to this question. If his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries did divide the House on his Motion, he (Mr. Aglionby) would certainly vote with him; though it was, perhaps, a question whether it would be wise or discreet to proceed to a division upon it.
§ MR. DISRAELI
thought the hon. Secretary of the Treasury had put the question in a fair light; but he thought he had not properly stated the case. He, for instance, could understand the principle that Molière should be introduced into Dover, and Shakespeare into Boulogne, both duty free. But he was still of opinion that nothing could be more indiscreet than to mix up the question of permitting Molière to come into England with a guarantee to English authors that their works should not be printed in foreign countries in the English language. There was not the slightest analogy between the two cases. He would say for himself, not arrogantly, for he was scarcely an English author—but it was just and right that an English author should be protected in his own country. He had the same claim to that which other gentlemen had to be protected in their lands and houses; undoubtedly, therefore, it was right to give protection to English authors in their own country. But hon. Gentlemen entertained ulterior views of increasing the enjoyment of his property to an English author. Now he thought, as he had always thought, that 815 these were ultra views. It was next to impossible that they could suppose an English author would be permitted to enjoy the advantages of his English property in a foreign country, even though reciprocal treaties were framed. It might be, as Mr. Clay said of free trade, a beautiful theory, but it could not be brought about in practice. But suppose that by the progress of reason and civilization this magnificent theory could be realized, what had that to do with miserable ideas of bargain and sale, advanced by the hon. Secretary to the Treasury. To suppose that foreign nations would accord this magnificent homage to genius for the sake of a few thousand pounds more or less received at the Custom-house, was so absurd and ridiculous that he would not waste another word in exposing it. They had already given the English author sufficient protection in his own country. Well, but it was imagined that he could obtain a greater advantage than he at present possessed—an advantage which he (Mr. Disraeli) thought he was not entitled to possess by extending that copyright to foreign countries; but all would agree that at present there was not much probability of obtaining it. In the absence of that probability they come to the practical point—should the great body of the English people be precluded from receiving at a moderate rate the works of foreign authors printed in foreign languages?—for he quite agreed that the hon. Member for Dumfries should make his Motion more explicit. With regard to the phrase "confusion of ideas," when he made use of it, he used the first phrase that occurred to him; but he must say that subsequent reflection had not convinced him that he was not justified in using it. He thought there was still confusion of ideas, and that nothing but confusion of ideas had let to the mixing up of these two questions. The question was simply this—whether the people of this country should receive free of duty the works of foreign authors in a foreign language? And to meet that question as it has been met, by quoting a rigmarole Act of Parliament which was based on principles of reciprocity, that Her Majesty's Government had since elaborately repudiated—principles which in this case he thought were repugnant to common sense and common justice—was a position which the House ought not to support them in maintaining.
§ DR. BOWRING
said, if ever there was 816 a case in which the House was bound to give effect to the principles of the right hon. Baronet, this was that case. This country would derive great benefit from the introduction of foreign books, whilst we should be affording an admirable example to other nations.
admitted the principle involved in the proposition of the hon. Member for Dumfries; but he did not think the reduction would be any great advantage, because it was only the richer classes who bought foreign books, to whom a saving of 2d. or 3d. a volume was of no importance.
§ MR. CURTEIS
was astonished that one of the professed advocates of free trade should have brought forward these harassing Motions; and he could only say, if he was the right hon. Baronet, and he was put into a minority on this question, he would throw up the whole concern at once. The hon. Member was a member of the Anti-Corn-Law League, and it was inconsistent in him now to bring forward a Motion which would probably place a free-trade Government in a minority.
§ SIR R. PEEL
Sir, I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he has spoken of me; but at the same time I beg to assure that hon. Gentleman, that I knew well, in undertaking the task which I have undertaken, that I would have many difficulties to contend with. At the same time, it is a great object to bring these matters to a conclusion; and if I am in a minority to-night, the hon. Gentleman may depend upon it that I will not be influenced by such considerations. Neither that nor any other minor difficulty shall induce me to relax my exertions to bring these great questions of commercial policy to a satisfactory issue. That, Sir, is the main object which at present I have in view. At the same time, I do hope that those hon. Gentlemen who concur generally in the policy of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government, who wish to see these great and comprehensive measures fairly carried out, will support me on this occasion. It would now be wise in them not to insist on their own views. I can easily conceive that in dealing with 300 articles many persons may be of opinion that on this or on that article the Government have gone too far, or not gone far enough; but if you are satisfied, first, that there is extreme difficulty in dealing with so many articles, and second, if you generally approve of the whole measure as 817 one comprehensive plan, I hope hon. Gentlemen will be content to support it; unless they entertain a strong persuasion to the contrary, or the wisdom of their policy in the particular course be clearly demonstrated. I hope they will rather look to this measure as a whole, than embarrass the Government by opposing it on particular questions. It has been said that the loss to the revenue in this case would be altogether unimportant. Now, I say, that if we had a large surplus, the consideration of 10,000l. ought not perhaps to weigh with us. At the same time, I must state that the reductions which will be proposed in the present Session, with the equivalents that are to accompany them, will materially reduce this surplus; and if in every case of the Tariff hon. Gentlemen are to rise and say this is only a question of 10,000l. and if considerations of particular cases are to overbear questions of revenue, then the surplus which still remains will be altogether destroyed. There are many articles in the Tariff which, if we looked to the duties abstractedly, I confess that I do not know any ground for maintaining them. Take for instance, the case of butter and cheese. It is for the sake of the revenue that we continue the duties on these articles, that revenue amounting to 300,000l. a year; and it is at considerable risk that we have agreed to reduce the duty from 20s. to 10s. But if you take butter and cheese abstractedly from considerations of revenue, I think as good a case might be made out for the exemption of these articles from duty as for corn. Therefore, it is impossible to exclude altogether considerations of revenue; and if you do admit these considerations, do not allow the consideration that it is only 10,000l. to be a sufficient argument; because it is these several small duties that make up the gross revenue. I admit that in the case of foreign literature, if foreign countries had acted as they have done in commercial treaties—if they had been disinclined to propose such treaties—I am not prepared to say that the principle now under consideration ought not to be adopted with regard to international literature. But, in point of fact, such treaties are now pending both with France and Prussia; and I will add, that if treaties of reciprocity can be entered into with foreign countries, the interchange of reciprocal benefits will be a great argument for regulating our own duties. It would be an additional motive for us to reduce the duty on the introduc- 818 tion of French brandies into this country, if France at the same time reduced her duties upon our hardware, either by treaty or by mutual arrangement. It is only because we have continued these attempts for the last ten or fifteen years, and have made no progress, that we at last came to the resolution that we would exclusively study our own advantages; and that we would no longer injure the people of this country by debarring them from foreign articles, because foreign countries would not enter into reciprocal treaties with us. If the cause of literature depended on this, I am not to say you ought not to adopt this principle. But there are treaties with France and Prussia, and if the good effect of this measure can be extended, and thereby protect the authors of this country against those who contribute nothing, I think it should. Surely the hon. Gentleman does not mean to injure the English author or bookseller by admitting books entirely free; when books printed in this country on paper manufactured by English manufacturers pay the excise duty? [Mr. EWART: No, I would not.] In England, if a bookseller publish a foreign book—say a German grammar—whether a translation or not, he must pay the excise duty upon the paper of which the volume is composed; and surely the hon. Member would not allow a German grammar, published abroad, to be brought into this country without paying the duty? A noble Friend of mine, who perhaps is in the House at the present moment, published an historical work in France—the Life of Condé. [Mr. EWART: Only 100 copies were printed.] Well, without any example, the injustice is clear enough. Considering the pendency of negotiation, and the possibility of an arrangement being effected, I hope the House will not press this alteration in the Tariff.
§ MR. GISBORNE
thought the proposition of the hon. Member (Mr. Ewart) too crude to divide the House upon it, and that he would better consult the interests of free trade by resting satisfied with the credit of the present discussion. He therefore advised the hon. Gentleman not to divide, but withdraw the Motion.
§ MR. WYSE
said, it was the duty of the House to give every inducement to the introduction of foreign literature; and he remarked that he had often derived more information upon our own learning and literature from German writers than from our own. It was nearly the same as to Italian. With the exception of Dante, Pe- 819 trarch, and some others of the poets, there was not a hundredth part of the Italian writers whose works reached this country. It happened, too, that those who most wished to read them were poor, and the proposition would therefore be a great boon to that numerous class. But, taking into consideration the fact that the right hon. Baronet was not unfavourable to the introduction of foreign literature, he would also recommend his hon. Friend to withdraw the proposition.
§ MR. EWART
was impressed with the conviction that it would be impossible to oppose this reduction for along period; and being convinced that it must come under the consideration of the Government in the course of next year, and that at the present moment he should be able only to carry a portion of it—considering also that he was a friend to the general measure of the right hon. Baronet—knowing, too, that it must be carried next year if not this—and fully satisfied that this question had now gained a victory, he would postpone the Motion.
§ MR. DISRAELI
was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have been satisfied with the moral victory upon which he had congratulated himself; and he only hoped that Her Majesty's Government would consider that there was very little chance of their being in a minority until the "great and comprehensive" measure was passed. It might be accident the other night, when the House was interested in a subject of great national interest, that, for a moment, feeling there were duties without the walls of that House of a paramount nature, they fulfilled their office, and Her Majesty's Government were in a minority. He was sure that would not happen again. He was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would instantly rise and assure Her Majesty's Government there was not the slightest apprehension until the "great and comprehensive measure" had passed, of Her Majesty's Ministers ever being in a minority. He therefore relied upon it that in Committee they would be spared the sacrifice of the right hon. Baronet, who, at the last moment, when the battle was lost, had put on his armour, and, like a Paladin, rushed to the fray, bringing Ithuriel's spear to the combat, as his only weapon, saying that his Government was not a Government that subsisted for party but for posterity. "Posterity" would prove a very grand principle, until the "great and comprehensive measure" was passed. Yet there were persons out of doors who would 820 regret that the House of Commons, with a majority sympathizing with the question at issue, should have felt it necessary to vote against their convictions, in order to save a Government to which they were opposed. Such was the happy state of English politics at present. He (Mr. Disraeli) congratulated the hon. Member upon a position which he must feel to be quite heroic; and he congratulated Her Majesty's Government upon their extremely agreeable situation. The House had heard almost all the Cabinet, and some of the most celebrated subalterns, and they had induced the House, with a majority against them, not to divide; and people might rise next morning, and know that they were not to be allowed to buy a foreign book, however splendid the style or brilliant the genius, because Her Majesty's Government had been in danger from the Opposition which sat before them, and which, while pretending to oppose, were only assisting them to that which he (Mr. Disraeli) believed would be their ruin.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, that no doubt the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) was very much disappointed that the two clerkships for the Treasury were filled up. If, however, the hon. Member persevered and continued to act as he had just done, he might yet perhaps succeed to one of them.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ The following Articles were agreed to:—
|Brass, manufactures of, for every 100l. value||£10||0||0|
|Brass, Powder of, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Brocade of Gold or Silver, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Bronze, manufactures of, not particularly enumerated, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Bronze, Powder, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Buck Wheat Meal, the cwt.||0||0||4½|
|Butter, the cwt.||0||10||0|
|Butter, of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Buttons, Metal, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Cameos, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Candles, Spermaceti, the lb.||0||0||3|
|Candles, Stearine, the lb.||0||0||1¼|
|Candles, Tallow, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Candles, Wax, the lb.||0||0||2|
|Canes, Walking Canes or Sticks mounted, painted, or otherwise ornamented, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Carriages of all sorts, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Casks, empty, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Cassava Powder, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Cassava Powder, of and from a British possession, the cwt.||0||0||6|
|Catlins, for every 100l. value||£10||0||0|
|Cheese, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Cheese, of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||1||6|
|China or Porcelain Ware, painted or plain, gilt or ornamented, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Cider, the tun||5||5||0|
|Citron, preserved in salt, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Clocks, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Copper manufactures not otherwise enumerated or described, and Copper Plates engraved, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Copper or Brass Wire, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Cotton, articles or manufactures of Cotton, wholly or in part made up, not otherwise charged with Duty, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Cotton, of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Crayons, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Crystal, cut or manufactured, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Cucumbers, preserved in salt, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Cucumbers, of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||2||10||0|
|Fish cured, not otherwise enumerated, the cwt.||0||1||0|
|Gauze of Thread, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Gauze of Thread, of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Hair, manufactures of Hair or Goats' Wool and any other material, and articles of such manufacture, wholly or in part made up, not particularly enumerated, or otherwise charged with Duty, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Hair, of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Hams of all kinds, the cwt.||0||7||0|
|Hams of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||0|
|Harp Strings, or Lute Strings, silvered, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Hats or Bonnets, viz.—|
|Hats or Bonnets, of Chip, the lb.||0||3||6|
|Hats or Bonnets, of Bast, Cane, or Horsehair Hats or Bonnets, each Hat or Bonnet not exceeding twenty-two inches in diameter, the dozen||0||7||6|
|Hats or Bonnets, each Hat or Bonnet exceeding twenty-two inches in diameter, the dozen||0||10||0|
|Hats or Bonnets, Straw Hats or Bonnets, the lb.||0||5||0|
|Hats, Felt, Hair, Wool, or Beaver Hats, each||0||2||0|
|Hats, Felt, made of Silk, Silk Shag laid upon felt, linen, or other material, each||0||2||0|
§ Upon the Question that the duty on the importation of hops be 2l. 5s. per cwt., the duty being 4l. 10s.
§ MR. CURTEIS
suggested that half the protection being about to be removed from the English hop grower, it was only right that the excise duty should be reduced in 822 the same proportion. He knew that many of the hop planters of Sussex would prefer giving up protection altogether if they could be also freed from the excise duties, to having the small protection which would be afforded by the proposed measure, whilst the excise duties remained unaltered. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would reconsider the question, as he would rather leave it in the right hon. Gentleman's hands than submit a Motion upon the subject.
§ SIR R. PEEL
wished he could, with due regard to the revenue, considerably reduce the excise duties; that, however, was quite separate from the question, whether the English hop grower required a greater protective duty against the foreign grower than 2l. 5s. per cwt. When he last reduced the protection, from 8l. 10s. to 4l. 10s., it was said that the English hop grower would be ruined. But what had been the consequence? Why the whole amount which had been paid from that time to the present upon the importation of foreign hops had not exceeded 10l. Surely the hop grower of this country, who paid only 18s. to the Excise, could compete with the foreign grower who would have to pay 2l. 5s. to the Customs. He really should have greater difficulty in defending the remaining high duty upon hops, if he were called upon to do so, than in defending any other duty which he proposed to retain; and he thought if the hon. Gentleman had been wise, that he would silently have passed the item over. English hops were by far the best that were grown in the world. American hops could by no means compete with them; and taking all things into consideration, he was sure that the English grower, even with the excise duties, need fear nothing from foreign competition.
§ Duty on hops agreed to.
§ The following Articles were also agreed to:—
|Iron and Steel, wrought, not otherwise enumerated, for every 100l. value||£10||0||0|
|Japanned er Lacquered Ware, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Lace, viz., Thread for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Lace, Made by the hand, commonly called Cushion or Pillow Lace, whether of linen, cotton, or silken thread, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Latten wire, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Lead, manufactures of, not otherwise enumerated, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Leather, manufactures of:—|
|Leather, Boots, Shoes, and Calashes, viz.:—|
|Leather, Women's Boots and Calashes, the dozen pair||£0||6||0|
|Leather, Women's Boots and Calashes, if lined or trimmed with fur or other trimming, the dozen pair||0||7||6|
|Leather, Women's Shoes with cork or double soles, quilted shoes and clogs, the dozen pair||0||5||0|
|Leather, Women's Shoes, if trimmed or lined with fur or any other trimming, the dozen pair||0||6||0|
|Leather, Women's Shoes of silk, satin, jean, or other stuffs, kid, morocco, or other leather, the dozen pair||0||4||6|
|Leather, Women's Shoes, if trimmed or lined with fur or any other trimming, the dozen pair||0||5||0|
|Leather, Girls' Boots, Shoes, and Calashes, not exceeding seven inches in length, to be charged with two-thirds of the above Duties.|
|Leather, Men's Boots, the dozen pair||0||14||0|
|Leather, Men's Shoes, the dozen pair||0||7||0|
|Leather, Boys' Boots and Shoes, not exceeding seven inches in length, to be charged with two-thirds of the above Duties.|
|Leather Boot Fronts not exceeding nine inches in height, the dozen pair||0||1||9|
|Leather Boot Fronts exceeding nine inches in height, the dozen pair||0||2||9|
|Leather cut into shapes, or any article made of Leather, or any manufacture whereof Leather is the most valuable part, not otherwise enumerated or described, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Linen, or Linen and Cotton, viz.—|
|Linen, Cambrics and Lawns, commonly called French Lawns, the piece not exceeding eight yards in length, and not exceeding seven-eighths of a yard in breadth, and so in breadth, and so in proportion for any greater or less quantity, Plain, the piece||0||2||6|
|Linen, Bordered Handkerchief's, the piece||0||2||6|
|Linen, Lawns of any sort, not French, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Linen, Damasks, the square yard||0||0||5|
|Linen, Damask Diaper, the square yard||0||0||2½|
|Linen, Sails, not in actual use of a British ship, and not fit and necessary for such ship, and when otherwise disposed of, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Linen, Articles, Manufactures of Linen, or of Linen mixed with Cotton, or with Wool wholly or in part made up, not particularly enumerated, or otherwise charged with Duty, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Musical Instruments, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Mustard Flour, the cwt.||0||6||0|
|Paper, printed, painted or stained Paper, or Paper Hangings, or Flock Paper, the square yard||0||0||2|
|Pencils, for every 100l. value||£10||0||0|
|Pencils, of Slate, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Perfumery, not otherwise charged, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Perry, the tun||5||5||0|
|Pewter, Manufactures of, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Platting of Straw, the lb.||0||5||0|
|Pomatum, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Potato Flour, the cwt.||0||1||0|
|Pots of Stone, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Sago, the cwt.||0||0||6|
|Sausages or Puddings, the lb.||0||0||1|
|Manufactures of Silk, or of Silk mixed with metal, or any other material, the produce of Europe, viz.|
|Silk or Satin, plain, striped, figured, or brocaded, viz. Broad Stuffs, the lb.||0||5||0|
|Articles thereof not otherwise enumerated, the lb.||0||6||0|
|Or, at the option of the Officers of the Customs, for every 100l. value||15||0||0|
|Silk Gauze or Crape, plain, striped, figured, or brocaded, viz.|
|Broad Stuffs, the lb.||0||9||0|
|Articles thereof, not otherwise enumerated, the lb.||0||10||0|
|Or, at the option of the Officers of the Customs, for every 100l. value||15||0||0|
|Gauze of all descriptions, mixed with silk, satin, or any other materials in less proportion than one-half part of the fabric, viz.|
|Broad Stuff, the lb.||0||9||0|
|Articles thereof, not otherwise enumerated, the lb.||0||10||0|
|Or, and at the option of the Officers of the Customs, for every 100l. value||15||0||0|
|Velvet, plain or figured, viz. Broad Stuffs, the lb.||0||9||0|
|Articles thereof, not otherwise enumerated, the lb.||0||10||0|
|Or, and at the option of the Officers of the Customs, for every 100l. value||15||0||0|
|Ribbons, plain Silk, of one colour only, the lb.||0||6||0|
|Ribbons, plain Satin, of one colour only, the lb.||0||8||0|
|Ribbons, Silk or Satin, striped, figured, or brocaded; or plain Ribbons of more than one colour, the lb.||0||10||0|
|Ribbons, Gauze or Crape, plain, striped, figured, or brocaded, the lb.||0||14||0|
|Ribbons, Gauze mixed with Silk, Satin, or other materials of less proportion than one half part of the fabric, the lb.||0||12||0|
|Ribbons, Velvet, or Silk embossed with Velvet, the lb.||0||10||0|
|Artificial Flowers, wholly, or in part of Silk, for every 100l. value||25||0||0|
|Manufactures of Silk, or of Silk and any other material called Plush, commonly used for making hats, the lb.||0||2||0|
|Fancy Silk Net, or Tricot, the lb.||£0||8||0|
|Plain Silk Lace, or Net called Tulle, the lb.||0||8||0|
|Manufactures of Silk, or of Silk mixed with any other materials, not particularly enumerated, or otherwise charged with Duty, for every 100l. value||15||0||0|
|Manufactures of Silk, of or from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Millinery, of Silk, or of which the greater part of the material is Silk, viz.|
|Turbans or Caps, each||0||3||6|
|Hats or Bonnets, each||0||7||0|
|Manufactures of Silk, or of Silk and any other materials, and articles of the same wholly or partially made up, not particularly enumerated or otherwise charged with duty, for every 100l. value||15||0||0|
|Silk Worm Gut, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Skins, articles manufactured of Skins or Furs, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Of and from a British Possession||5||0||0|
|Soap, Hard, the cwt.||1||0||0|
|Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||14||0|
|Soap, Soft, the cwt.||0||14||0|
|Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||10||0|
|Soap, Naples, the cwt.||1||0||0|
|Spa Ware, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Spirits or Strong Waters of all sorts, viz.|
|Spirits or Strong Waters of all sorts, For every gallon of such Spirits or strong Waters of any strength not exceeding the strength of proof by Sykes's hydrometer, and so in proportion for any greater or less strength than the strength of proof, and for any greater or less quantity than a gallon, viz.|
|Spirits or Strong Waters of all sorts, not being Spirits or Strong Waters the produce of any British Possession in America, or any British Possession within the limits of the East India Company's Charter, and not being Sweetened Spirits or Spirits mixed with any article, so that the degree of strength therefore cannot be exactly ascertained by such hydrometer, the gallon||0||15||0|
|Starch, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|From and after the 1st of February 1849, the cwt.||0||1||0|
|Starch, Gum of, torrified or calcined, commonly called British Gum, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Starch, Gum of, torrifled or calcined, commonly called British Gum, from and after the 1st February 1849, the cwt.||0||1||0|
|Steel, Manufactures of, for every 100l. value||£10||0||0|
|Tallow, the cwt.||0||1||6|
|Tallow, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||0||1|
|Tapioca, the cwt.||0||0||6|
|Tin, Manufactures of, not otherwise enumerated, for every 100l. value.||10||0||0|
|Tobacco Pipes of Clay, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Tongues, the cwt.||0||7||0|
|Tongues, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||0|
|Turnery, not otherwise described, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Twine, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Twine, Of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Varnish, not otherwise described, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Verjuice, the ton||4||4||0|
|Wafers, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Washing Balls, the cwt.||1||0||0|
|Wax, Sealing Wax, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Whip Cord, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
§ The above Articles having been read by the Chairman,
§ DR. BOWRING
regretted that French wines had not been included in the Resolutions. French wines could be bought at 2d. or 4d. per bottle, and if the duty were lowered to 2s. or 2s. 6d. per gallon, excellent wines would be accessible to the people of this country at 1s. per bottle, which would be conferring a great benefit upon them. It was a curious fact, that notwithstanding the increase which had taken place in the population, there was 200 years ago a greater quantity of French wines then consumed than at the present moment. Though be felt that he ought to offer no impediment to the progress of a measure so important as that which the right hon. Baronet had introduced to the notice of the House, yet he begged respectfully and earnestly to recommend him to apply to this case his own principle, and obtain for the people of England an excellent and a cheap beverage; and he was quite sure that the consequence would be, that he would create a power and influence elsewhere which would be found advantageous in every respect.
§ SIR R. PEEL
did not think that the falling off in the consumption of wine to which the hon. Member alluded was attributable to the duty alone. There had been a great change in the habits of the people of this country. Much might, no doubt, be said in favour of reducing the duty on French wines; and so there might in favour of a reduction of the duty on tea; but there must be some limit to the re- 827 ductions of revenue in this country; and he only asked the House not to be too precipitate and too rash in reducing the revenue, particularly on the great articles of consumption. He was happy to think that the doctrines of free trade were making great progress in other countries; and he had no doubt that ultimately, although opposed by the French Chambers, the French Government would be supported by the great mass of public opinion in their attempts to relax their commercial code. The great body of consumers, he believed, would not continue so patient as they had been, and would not submit to see their interests sacrificed by those who had a monopoly in that country. He hoped also that the day was not far distant when there would be a better feeling in the French Chambers on this subject.
§ The following Resolutions were agreed to:—
|Wire, Gilt or Plated, or Silver, for every 100l. value||£10||0||0|
|Woollens, Articles or Manufactures of Wool not being Goats' Wool, or of Wool mixed with Cotton, wholly or in part made up, not otherwise charged with Duty, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
|Woollens, Of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|Goods, Wares, and Merchandize, being either in part or wholly manufactured, and not being enumerated or described, not otherwise charged with Duty, and not prohibited to be imported into or used in Great Britain or Ireland, for every 100l. value||10||0||0|
§ On the Question that in lieu of the duties of Customs now chargeable on the Articles undermentioned, imported into the United Kingdom, the following duties shall be charged,
LORD J. RUSSELL
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury to explain the principle on which he has acted in this Tariff. When the question of the Corn duty was discussed in 1815, Lord Grenville, as was well known, made a memorable protest against the imposition of any duty upon that article, when Lord Grey said, "If you let the manufacturer have his corn cheap, why not let the farmer have his coat cheap?" To which Lord Grenville answered that the request was perfectly reasonable, and that he meant to do away with the protection upon woollen cloth as well as with the protection upon corn. I observe, however, that in the present Tariff it is 828 proposed to retain a duty of 10 per cent. upon a number of manufactured articles. Now, for my part, I can see no objection to this during the intermediate time that the Corn Laws last; but when in 1849 the duty upon wheat, barley, and oats shall be reduced to a nominal duty of 1s., I confess I cannot see the principle upon which you can maintain a duty of 10 per cent. on manufactures. I can understand Gentlemen who are in favour of protection assenting to this as part of a system which ought to be maintained; but with respect to the right hon. Baronet, who now maintains what seems to a majority of the House a sound principle on the subject, and when we are now beginning a new career in this country with respect to trade and commerce, I do not see the principle upon which we maintain these duties. I know that there are several articles of manufacture on which the duty is entirely taken off, but in respect to articles in which competition is feared there is a duty of 10 per cent. still maintained, and I wish to know on what principle this is done?
§ SIR R. PEEL
said, that at present on the chief articles of manufacture entering into the clothing of the poorer classes, there was an absolute and immediate reduction of duty. The noble Lord would recollect that 10 per cent. was all the duty now leviable on the articles to which he had referred. On cotton, woollen, and linen goods there had been a total repeal of the duty, not at the end of three years, but instantaneously. The noble Lord might as well ask him why, if he adopted a total and immediate repeal of the duties on cotton, woollen, and linen goods, he at the same time retained the duties on corn for three years? He (Sir R. Peel) should have just as great difficulty in answering that question, as in answering that which the noble Lord actually asked. The total amount of revenue received on the articles to which the noble Lord referred, amounted to not less than 2,300,000l.; and, as he had before stated, considerations of revenue must partly influence the decision of Her Majesty's Government. With respect to many of those articles, he was not prepared to propose an instantaneous repeal of the duties; nor did he at present consider it advisable that at the end of three years the whole of the duties on these manufactured articles should cease. If at the end of three years, without danger, in consequence of the reductions of duties on Colonial articles and articles of provisions, 829 the reduction could be made, it would be open to the House to make it; and if the noble Lord, being then Minister, should come down and propose a reduction of those duties to the extent of 3 per cent. to 7 per cent. Parliament would be at liberty to adopt it. On the whole, the principle he laid down was the instantaneous repeal of all duties on the chief articles which entered into the consumption of the poor, a total abolition of the Corn Laws to take place at the end of three years, and a reduction to 10 per cent. of the duties on manufactures; and he could not give a better answer to the question of the noble Lord than to say, that at the end of three years it would be perfectly open to Parliament to consider what ought then to be done wish these duties.
LORD J. RUSSELL
quite agreed that, making so great a change, they ought not to affect the revenue materially, contrary to the opinion of the Government; but if he looked at these articles, he found that they only produced 600l. or 700l. a year to the revenue, which could not be considered material. Of course, he did not mean to include such articles as silk. On the whole, however, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman's protection was not very great, and that the subject would be open for the future opinion of Parliament, he should rest contented with the answer of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. T. BARING
said, if the House were to adopt the noble Lord's proposition, they should be sacrificing altogether the revenue derived from indirect taxation. The reduction of duty proposed would not, he believed, render these goods one farthing a yard cheaper to the consumer. On the plan that the noble Lord advocated, of taking off all duties, they would not only not benefit the consumer, and not benefit the manufacturer, and not enlarge their trade, but they would be making the whole of the Customs duties fall on a few — twelve or fifteen—articles, which would make it a taxation on population; but if the population of this country once saw that articles in which they were mainly interested were made the principal objects of taxation, he thought they would never be content to let tea, tobacco, and coffee be taxed, when agates and articles down to vellum were not taxed. The country must have direct taxation in that case; and, if so, he would leave the noble Lord to say how he, with such a taxation on capital, could help driving capital out of the country. That was 830 the ground on which he had felt great doubt about the policy of Her Majesty's Government in throwing away hundreds of thousands of pounds without any advantage to anybody, which, if the revenue could have spared the amount, might have been applied to the reduction of the duty on tea, or other articles of great importance to the country.
LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the system of which the hon. Member spoke might be good or might be bad; but it was not the system which he (Lord J. Russell) had spoken of. He had spoken of articles of which the duties had been imposed for the sake of revenue. He saw that 625l. was the amount of revenue derived from woollen goods. Surely the hon. Member would not say that sum was material on a question of revenue. He (Lord J. Russell) should have thought, whether it were wise or unwise to reduce the whole revenue of the Customs to 10 or 12 articles, that at least no one would deny it was not desirable to have 1,100 articles of taxation; and he said that where the article did not yield a revenue, when the duty was put on for the purpose of protection, now, when the system was to take off protection from agriculture, such protective duty not yielding a revenue on manufactured goods, ought to be abolished also.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed, that the noble Lord could hardly pronounce what would be the effect of the abolition of the duty of 10 per cent. at the end of three years, since he could not yet tell what would be the effect at the end of three years of reducing the 20 per cent. duty to 10 per cent.
§ MR. HUME
was surprised to hear such doctrines from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. Baring). The hon. Gentleman seemed to be retreating to times which he (Mr. Hume) hoped would never return. The hon. Gentleman's doctrines were unaccountable, except on the supposition that he had not read the Papers already on the Table. He would have found from the Report of the Import Duties Committee, that of 1,150 articles of taxation, 1,000, as they showed, might be struck off, at a loss of not above between 500l. and 600l. a year to the revenue. What had been the result of the reductions already made by the right hon. Baronet? He had struck off about 500 articles the first year, and 75 the next. Had any reduction in the revenue taken place? On the contrary, 831 there had been an increase in all the departments of it. It had been found that a revenue of 22,000,000l. comprised only 22 articles. The hon. Gentleman had a great fear of direct taxation: he thought it one of the great merits of the right hon. Baronet's policy that it was bringing them to a more direct taxation of capital and property. Under a better system they might do away with the Excise department entirely; the collection of the duties on malt and spirits might be turned over to the Custom-house, the licenses might be given to the Board of Stamps, and then there would be left no need of the Excise at all, which at present cost 900,000l. a year. The right hon. Baronet had been successful upon all the principles he had laid down; he hoped he would proceed and depend upon direct taxation as much as possible.
§ SIR R. PEEL
intended to-morrow to move for a great number of Returns, to which he hoped the attention of the House would be directed. They would refer to the effect of taking off the duties on wool, flax, linen, and shipping; in many points it would be of great importance the House should be acquainted with them before proceeding on the subject the hon. Member behind him (Mr. T. Baring) and the noble Lord had referred to. He should move for these Returns; and if any hon. Gentleman thought they were incomplete, though unintentionally so, and that any supplemental information was required, he should be perfectly ready to give any other returns that might be thought calculated to afford information on the subject. Reductions last year were made upon the glass duties and the duties on auctions. One of the grounds on which he invited the House to consent to that reduction was, that it would enable them to make a reduction in the Excise establishment; the saving in the salaries of officers in the Excise alone, mainly owing to the auction duty having been repealed, and the reduction of the duty on glass, was 52,636l.; thus, the public had not only the advantage of the improvement in the manufacture of glass, arising from the removal of the Excise restrictions, but from the saving in the expense of the Excise establishment also.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE,
with reference to the observations of the hon. Member for Montrose, did not consider a saving of 500,000l. per annum, which he (Mr. Hume) considered such a trifle, an equivalent for the change in commercial policy to which 832 the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government was about to subject the country. He (Mr. Newdegate) thought that as the Custom-houses must be retained, the argument that because small duties were levied at some expense they were not worth collecting, tended directly in absurdum.
§ MR. ALDERMAN COPELAND
observed that if he could have obtained as much labour as he required, he could have carried on an immense trade. The public had not benefited by the right hon. Baronet's alteration of the duties on glass so much as they would have done, if there had not been a scarcity of labour.
§ MR. HUDSON
said, that although there had been an increase on the article of glass, and that such increase would most probably continue, the question was, whether any protection was to be continued to manufactures, when it had been totally withdrawn from agriculture? The right hon. Baronet had not announced his intention to abolish protection on manufactures at the end of three years; but the country would expect that if protection were removed from agriculture, it would also be taken off manufactures. The country, he repeated, would look for justice in this respect; and if even-handed justice was to be dealt out, protection ought to be taken from manufactures as well as agriculture. Whether the present tax could be considered a protection to manufactures or not, the country would think it a tax of 10 per cent., and would demand its removal. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would well consider whether he could not confirm the entire principle, and say, "Protection to all classes shall cease at the expiration of three years." Protection could not, with any degree of consistency, be withdrawn from agriculture while the taxes on tea, sugar, and malt were retained. The principle, in his opinion, ought to be applied to all classes or to none.
§ DR. BOWRING
was rejoiced to hear a Gentleman connected with an establishment known to the ends of the earth express opinions so favourable to free trade, and declare his desire to have what might so justly be called "the burdens" of protection removed from the manufacturing classes.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
believed that the principles of the question had been placed on a clear and intelligible basis by the noble Lord the Member for London; and 833 called the attention of the House to the fact that no impediment had been thrown in the way of the discussion by his (Mr. Borthwick's) hon. Friends on that side of the House, whilst hon. Gentlemen opposite, and many supporters of Her Majesty's Government, had adopted a different line of conduct.
as the representative of a considerable manufacturing constituency, begged leave to assure the House, that so far from the manufacturers being desirous of retaining any protective duties for three years, or even one year, they did not desire their continued existence for one moment.
§ CAPTAIN HARRIS
regretted that a spirit of compensation to the agricultural interest had been so completely neglected in the formation of the present Tariff, and recommended the reduction of duties on tin, and the abolition of the malt tax, as likely to prove of essential service to the farmers.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
§ The whole of the remaining Resolutions were then agreed to as follows:—
§ 4. 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, from and after the 1st day of June, 1846, viz.
|Canary, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Canary, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Carraway, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Carraway, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Carrot, the cwt.||5||0||0|
|Carrot, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Clover, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Clover, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Leek, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Leek, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|Mustard, the cwt.||0||1||3|
|Mustard, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||0||7½|
|Onion, the cwt.||0||5||0|
|Onion, Of and from a British Possession, the cwt.||0||2||6|
|All other Seeds not particularly enumerated or described, or otherwise charged with Duty, for every 100l. value||5||0||0|
|All other Seeds not particularly enumerated or described, Of and from a British Possession, for every 100l. value||2||10||0|
§ 5. Resolved—That the Duties of Customs chargeable upon the Goods, Wares, and Merchandize hereafter mentioned, imported into the United Kingdom, shall cease and determine, viz.
§ ANIMALS, living, viz:—
- Oxen and Bulls.
- Horses, Mares, Geldings, Colts, Foals.
- Swine and Hogs.
- Pigs, sucking.
- Beef, fresh, or slightly salted.
- Beef salted, not being corned Beef.
- Bottles of Earth and Stone empty.
- Casts of Busts, Statues, or Figures.
- Cherry Wood, being Furniture Wood.
- Cotton Manufactures, not being articles wholly or in part made up, not otherwise charged with Duty.
- Hides, or pieces thereof, tawed, curried, varnished, japanned, enamelled, Muscovy or Russia Hides, or pieces thereof, tanned, coloured, shaved, or otherwise dressed, and Hides, or pieces thereof, in any way dressed, not otherwise enumerated.
- Ink for Printers.
- Inkle, wrought.
- Lamp Black.
- Linen, viz. Plain Linens and Diaper, whether chequered or striped with Dye Yarn or not, and Manufactures of Linen, or of Linen mixed with Cotton, or with Wool, not particularly enumerated, or otherwise charged with Duty, not being articles wholly or in part made up.
- Magna Græcia Ware.
- Maps and Charts, or parts thereof, plain or coloured.
- Meat, salted or fresh, not otherwise described.
- Medals, of any sort.
- Palmetto, Thatch Manufactures.
- Partridge Wood, being Furniture Wood.
- Pork, fresh.
- Pork, salted, not Hams.
- Purple Wood, being Furniture Wood.
- Silk, Thrown, dyed, viz;
- Silk, Singles or Tram, Organzine or Crape Silk.
- Thread, not otherwise enumerated or described.
- Woollens, viz:—Manufactures of Wool, not being Goats' Wool, or of Wool mixed with Cotton, not particularly enumerated or described; not otherwise charged with Duty, not being articles wholly or in part made up.
- Vegetables, all, not otherwise enumerated or described.
§ 6. Resolved—That, from and after the 5th day of April, 1847, the Duties of Customs now payable upon the Foreign Goods under mentioned shall cease and determine, and that in lieu thereof there shall be charged the following Duties on such Foreign Goods on their importation into the United Kingdom, viz.835
|ARTICLES.||From and after 5 April, 1847.||From and after 5 April, 1848.|
|Upon Timber and Wood Goods not otherwise charged, viz.||£||s.||d.||£||s.||d.|
|Timber or Wood, not being Deals, Battens, Boards, Staves, Handspikes, Oars, Lathwood, or other Timber or Wood, sawn, split, or otherwise dressed, except hewn, and not being Timber or Wood otherwise charged with Duty, the load of 50 cubic feet||1||0||0||0||15||0|
|Timber or Wood, Deals, Battens, Boards, or other Timber or Wood, sawn or split, and not otherwise charged with Duty, the load of 50 cubic feet||1||6||0||1||0||0|
|Timber or Wood, Staves, if exceeding 72 inches in length, 7 inches in breadth, or 3½ inches in thickness, the load of 50 cubic feet||1||3||0||0||18||0|
|Timber or Wood, Firewood, the fathom of 216 cubic feet||0||8||0||0||6||0|
|Timber or Wood, Handspikes, not exceeding 7 feet in length, the 120||0||16||0||0||12||0|
|Timber or Wood, exceeding 7 feet in length the 120||1||12||0||1||4||0|
|Timber or Wood, Knees, under 5 inches square the 120||0||8||0||0||6||0|
|Timber or Wood, 5 inches and under 8 inches square, the 120||1||12||0||1||4||0|
|Timber or Wood, Lathwood, the fathom of 216 cubic feet||1||12||0||1||4||0|
|Timber or Wood, Oars, the 120||6||0||0||4||10||0|
|Timber or Wood, Spars or Poles under 22 feet in length, and under 4 inches in diameter, the 120||0||16||0||0||12||0|
|Timber or Wood, 22 feet in length and upwards, and under 4 inches in diameter, the 120||1||12||0||1||4||0|
|Timber or Wood, of all lengths, 4 inches and under 6 inches in diameter, the 120||3||4||0||2||8||0|
|Timber or Wood, Spokes for Wheels, not exceeding 2 feet in length, the 1,000||1||12||0||1||4||0|
|Timber or Wood, exceeding 2 feet in length, the 1,000||3||4||0||2||8||0|
|Timber or Wood, Wood, planed, or otherwise dressed or prepared for use, and not particularly enumerated nor otherwise charged with Duty||0||0||6||0||0||4|
|per foot of cubic contents, and further for every £100 value, £10||per foot of cubic contents, and further for every £100 value, £10|
§ Or, in lieu of the Duties imposed upon Wood by the load according to the cubic content, the importer may have the option, at the time of passing the first entry, of entering Battens, Batten Ends,
|ARTICLES.||Not above 7 inches in width||From and after 5th April, 1847.||From and after 5th April, 1848.|
|Not above 1¼ inch in thickness.||Above 1¼ inch and not above 2¾ in thickness.||Not above 1¼ inch in thickness.||Above 1¼ inch and not above 2¾ in thickness.|
|Battens and Batten Ends:—||£||s.||d.||£||s.||d.||£||s.||d.||£||s.||d.||£||s.||d.|
|Not above 6 feet in length the 120||…||1||4||8||2||9||3||0||18||6||1||17||0|
|Above 6 and not above 9 feet in length the 120||…||1||16||11||3||13||10||1||7||9||2||15||6|
|Above 9 and not above 12 feet in length the 120||…||2||9||3||4||18||6||1||16||11||3||13||10|
|Above 12 and not above 15 feet in length the 120||…||3||1||7||6||3||2||2||6||3||4||12||6|
|Above 15 and not above 18 feet in length the 120||…||3||13||10||7||7||8||2||15||4||5||10||8|
|Above 18 and not above 21 feet in length the 120||…||4||6||2||8||12||4||3||4||6||6||9||0|
|Boards, Deals, Deal Ends, and Plank:—||Not above 9½ inches in width||Not above 1½ inch in thickness.||Above 1½ inch and not above 3¼ in thickness.||Not above 1½ inch in thickness.||Above 1½ inch and not above 3¼ in thickness.|
|Not above 6 feet in length the 120||…||1||19||6||3||19||0||1||9||10||2||19||8|
|Above 6 and not above 9 feet in length the 120||…||2||19||3||5||18||6||2||4||5||4||8||10|
|Above 9 and not above 12 feet in length the 120||…||3||19||0||7||18||0||2||19||2||5||18||4|
§ Boards, Deals, Deal Ends, and Plank, by Tale, if of or from Foreign Countries, according to the following Dimensions, viz.:—837
|ARTICLES.—Continued.||Not above 9½ inches in width.||From and after 5th April, 1847.||From and after 5th April, 1848.|
|Not above 1½ inch in thickness.||Above 1½ inch and not above 3¼ in thickness.||Not above 1½ inch in thickness.||Above 1½ inch and not above 3¼ in thickness.|
|Above 12 and not above 15 feet in length the 120||…||4||18||10||9||17||8||3||14||2||7||8||4|
|Above 15 and not above 18 feet in length the 120||…||5||18||7||11||17||2||4||8||11||8||17||10|
|Above 18 and not above 21 feet in length the 120||…||6||18||4||13||16||8||5||3||8||10||7||4|
|Above 9½ inches and not above 11½ in With.|
|Not above 6 feet in length the 120||…||2||7||10||4||15||8||1||15||10||3||11||8|
|Above 6 and not above 9 feet in length the 120||…||3||11||8||7||3||4||2||13||8||5||7||4|
|Above 9 and not above 12 feet in length the 120||…||4||15||7||9||11||2||3||11||7||7||3||2|
|Above 12 and not above 18 feet in length the 120||…||5||19||7||11||19||2||4||9||7||8||19||2|
|Above 15 and not above 18 feet in length the 120||…||7||3||6||14||7||0||5||7||6||10||15||0|
|Above 18 and not above 21 feet in length the 120||…||8||7||6||16||15||0||6||5||8||12||11||4|
§ House adjourned at a quarter to One o'clock.