HC Deb 03 July 1848 vol 100 cc4-79

House in Committee on the Sugar Duties.


read the Resolution. On arriving at the part of the Schedule imposing a duty of 13s. per cwt. on Muscovado,


rose to bring forward the Amendment of which he had given notice, the effect of which would be that from the present time there should be a differential duty of 10s. per cwt. in favour of the produce of the British colonies. He proposed to effect that object by lower- ing the duty upon British colonial sugar at once to 10s. the cwt., instead of 14s., which was the present duty, or of 13s., which was the sum proposed by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the ensuing year. He would not trespass at any great length upon the House after the indulgence which they had accorded to him when he had previously discussed the same proposition; but there were a few points to which he could not help reverting. And, in the first Place, he should say that he thought he had some reason to complain of the charges which the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) had twice brought against him, of causing much embarrassment and delay. Now, he thought that a most unjust accusation. Delay and embarrassment he admitted there had been; but he contended that the delay was inevitable, and the embarrassment was the fault entirely of the noble Lord himself. With regard to the delay, did the noble Lord really expect that a subject of such magnitude, involving the prosperity of the British colonies, and the revival of the slave trade, was to be passed over and disposed of in a single night's debate? The noble Lord ought to have foreseen that it would be impossible to get over such a question without considerable delay. And as to the embarrassment, it had arisen from the vacillation of the Government in not having determined how, and in what manner, they meant to deal with the distress of the colonies—a matter with which they had been sufficiently made acquainted. The Governors of the various West India colonies had been sending home despatches relating to the distress which existed in them, and the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn had moved early in the Session for a Committee on that distress, and that Committee had been reporting from time to time. On the 29th May the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) said the Government were determined to stand by the provisions of the Act of 1846. But on the 16th June he came down with a string of resolutions involving the total alteration of the Act of 1846. It was a subject which, introduced at such a date, could not well be discussed before the 5th July; and he (Sir J. Pakington), on a full consideration of the course which he had adopted, and of which the noble Lord complained, saw no cause to repent it. It was true, indeed, that he had changed the form of his original resolution; but he was justified in taking that course when he saw the disfavour with which the scheme of the Government was received, and he felt himself bound to give the House of Commons an opportunity of declaring how far they thought the measure of the Government was an efficient or an adequate remedy for the distress of the West India colonies. The success of the Government upon the division was equivalent to a defeat. The fact of the noble Lord having carried the resolutions, even by a small majority, was to be attributed to the state of political parties, which made some hon. Gentlemen give their votes in a manner different from that which they would give them under other circumstances, they being unwilling, in the present condition of affairs, to embarass the Government. What was the proposition of the Government? They proposed that there should be a differential duty of 7s. for one year, descending gradually by 1s. a year until the year 1854, when protection upon colonial sugar should cease altogether. Now, as he had said before, such a differential duty would be altogether inadequate to meet the case for which it was intended. It would be inadequate to remove the distresses of the colonists, and it would be wholly inadequate for the purpose of checking the slave trade. He had stated on a former evening that the difference between the cost of production in a slave-labour place and a free-labour British colony was about 15s. 9d. the cwt. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon had said, that he (Sir J. Pakington), in attempting to establish his case, had proved too much; for that, whilst he had asserted the difference between slave-grown and free-labour grown sugar to be 15s. 9d. the cwt., he had asked for a differential duty of only 10s,. which could, of course, not cover the difference of cost. But, in perfect good humour, he would ask the right hon. Baronet if he had, in proving what the right hon. Gentleman called "too much," shown that even a 10s. differential duty would be too little, how was it to be supposed he could give his suport to a 7s. diminishing one, which would be still smaller? The noble Lord the Member for Lynn made the difference between free-grown and slave-grown sugar to be 2s. a cwt. less than his own estimate; whilst Lord Harris, in his despatches, made it rather more. But the argument which he had used was this, that the planters came to the House, and said that they were trying to economise in every possible manner; that they were trying to improve their machinery, to regulate their labourers, to lessen the cost of production; and until they could succeed in so far lowering their cost of production as to be able to meet the competitors, it would be in their power at least to carry on if they were protected by a 10s. duty. He had therefore not proved too much, neither was he open to another charge which had been brought against him, that he was enhancing the price of sugar to the consumer. There might be a question of revenue involved in his proposal; but, although 4s. a cwt. might by his plan go into the pocket of the planter, the price to the consumer would remain the same that it now is. He regretted to find himself under the necessity of differing from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam worth on the question. Whenever he differed from that right hon. Gentleman, he did so with the most sincere regret and great diffidence in his own judgment. But on the present occasion he could not avoid differing from the right hon. Gentleman. It would be impossible, he admitted, to return to the difference which had been made between foreign free-grown and foreign slave-grown sugar—a difference which had been established in 1845. But he did not see why they should not return to the differential duty of 10s. between foreign and British colonial sugar, which was established by the Government of the right hon. Baronet in the year 1845. He admitted that his proposition would to some extent endanger the revenue of the country; but he should not be deterred from proposing a plan that might save the West Indies, and check the slave trade, by any considerations of revenue. The depression of the colonial interests had been universally admitted; and it was also undeniable that the Act of 1846 had given a stimulus to the slave trade; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not justified in obtaining revenue by a measure which hurt the colonies and increased the slave trade. But having taken that broad and, as he believed, unassailable ground, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer did very much exaggerate the effect of the differential duty which he (Sir J. Pakington) proposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer asserted that there would be a loss to the revenue by it of 960,000l. a year. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: A reduction of duty to the amount of 4s. the cwt. would involve a loss of 960,000l.] Taken in any way the Chancellor of the Exchequer liked, he was prepared to dispute that the loss to the revenue would be anything like what his right hon. Friend said. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had assumed that the total quantity of sugar consumed in the year would be 310,000 tons. He had calculated the matter carefully, and he found that it was not likely to be less than 325,000 tons. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had estimated the quantity of British colonial sugar at 240,000 tons. He, after mature calculation and consultation with those who were amongst the best informed upon the subject, was assured that it was almost impossible the consumption of British colonial sugar should reach 240,000 tons. And his assurance upon that subject was founded upon the fact that all the predictions of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, with regard to the falling-off in the growth of British sugar in the course of the present year, and which were founded upon similar information and calculation, were in course of being fulfilled. He had seen the returns from the British possessions of the quantities grown during the present year; and the falling-off from the Mauritius and the British West Indies was such as to justify completely the predictions made the year before by the noble Lord. He believed that the importations of sugar from the British colonies would not exceed 200,000 tons. It was hardly possible that they could amount to 225,000 tons. The total quantity imported, therefore, being likely to be 325,000 tons, and the colonies not being likely to send more than 225,000 of that, the difference would consequently be 100,000 tons of foreign sugar—an importation which would make the difference of revenue nothing like that which was estimated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For 225,000l. tons paying a 10s. per cwt. duty would yield 2,250,000l., and 100,000 tons at a duty of 20s. per cwt. would yield 2,000,000l, giving a total amount of sugar duties for the ensuing-year of 4,250,000l. Now the revenue derived from sugar in the year 1846 was 3,883,209l. The sum received in 1847 was 4,382,469l. Therefore, taking the revenue as he had calculated it for the ensuing year at his proposed scale, to be 4,250,000l., it would show a decrease upon the year 1847 of only 132,469l., instead of 960,000l., as calculated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He again repeated that where they were dealing with the interests of these great possessions the West India colonies, and with a question in which the increase of the slave trade was involved, they should not be deterred by mere revenue considerations. But he was satisfied that he could prove that the loss to the revenue would be likely to be only 132,000l. instead of 960,000l., comparing the ensuing year with 1847. But, if they compared it with 1846, instead of showing a diminution of revenue, it would show an increase of 306,791l. Having thus alluded to the important question of revenue, he should proceed to anticipate a question which would, no doubt, ere long, he asked him. It was, "for how long a time did he propose that the differential duty of 10s. should last? and what did he propose to do at the end of the time? Did he intend to come down to equality of duties at once, or to have a descending scale?" Now, in the first place, with regard to the period for which his scale would last, he had no decided opinion about it; and with regard to what he, should propose at the end of the time for which it should last, he must refuse to give any answer or explanation at all. [A laugh.] He was not surprised that hon. Gentlemen should smile at his declaration, and cheer ironically such a candid statement. But they must see the propriety of his answer, if they looked at the sugar duty debates for the last few years, for nothing had been more difficult than to declare what was to be the final adjustment of the question. It was only in 1845 that the late Government proposed the distinction between free-grown and slave-grown foreign sugar, and established a differential duty of IDs. That arrangement was superseded by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who came down to the House in 1846, and proposed what he called a deliberate and final settlement of the question. That deliberate and final settlement was made so lately as 1840; and yet now, in 1848, scarcely two years having elapsed, there could be only thirty-six hon. Members of the House found, who would record their votes in favour of that final and deliberate settlement. He was not, surprised, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen should laugh and cheer him ironically for his plain answer. But when he found those colonies so tampered with from year to year, he did not think he was bound to state in 1848 what scale of duties he would support in 1854. A differential duty existing for six years was not his proposal. His proposal in the Committee was merely that a differential duty of 10s. should be given in favour of the colonies. The limited proposition had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Liverpool. He (Sir J. Pakington), however, thought it necessary to avoid declaring that they should make the differential duty permanent. He should prefer it for three years, with proper precautions, rather than for six years. But as to his present proposition merely of a 10s. differential duty, he hoped that the Government, seeing how opposed the House was to the proposal they had made, would not object to it; and he hoped the House would act with generosity towards the unfortunate colonists, and accede to it. The result of the legislation of 1846 had been largely to diminish the aggregate of the exports of British manufactures (he alluded particularly to the cotton manufactures) to the colonies. There had indeed been an increase in their exports to the foreign slaveholding countries; but there had been a diminution to the free-labour colonies. If they persevered in their injurious policy, they Would drive sugar estates out of cultivation. The slave-growing countries would have almost a monopoly of the British market shortly; and would they pretend that for the sake of the consumer such a state of things should he arrived at? On all the grounds he had stated, he contended that they should, in justice, accede to his proposal. He was fully persuaded that it was a minimum duty which he named; and he was assured that by adopting it they would revive their West Indian colonies and prevent the slave trade. He, therefore, trusted that the House would agree to his resolution. But if they should not, he could only say that it would be a satisfaction to the colonists to know that, through his humble agency, they had made a fair proposition and a just demand upon the Parliament, and it would be a satisfaction to himself to know that he had made, however vainly, a fair and just proposal. On Her Majesty's Government, in that event, must the full responsibility fall, and on the feeble and dangerous policy of which all through they had been guilty, should rest the deep injury done to, and probably the permanent ruin of, the finest dependencies of the British Crown. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving his Amendment— That after the words 'muscovado, or any other sugar not being equal in quality to white clayed, for every cwt.,' instead of the words 'thirteen shillings' the words 'ten shillings' should be inserted.


thought that if the result of this protracted debate should be the final settlement of the question, they certainly would not have spent so many wearisome evenings in vain. But he very much doubted, indeed he was as certain as he could be of anything, that the question would not be settled by that night's decision, and that whether, in the year 1854, or at any other period, they would be as far from any final settlement as they were at the present hour, according to the course they were pursuing. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gladstone)—two Gentlemen to whose opinions the House naturally and deservedly paid the highest deference—declared at the outset of their observations, that they were in considerable difficulty from the complex nature of the case, and the many interests that were involved in it. And their opinions were fully justified by the debate, for one hon. Gentleman had treated it as a free-trade question, another as a slave-trade question; others had treated it solely with reference to the West India planters, and no one had as yet given them a single clue by which they could unravel its great perplexities. The West Indian interests had had a great advantage this time—for they had the benefit of the consummate abilities and the great exertions of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn; and certainly at no time had those interests in that House been so well or so ably sustained as upon the present occasion. But hon. Members were in this perplexity, that on both sides of the House they were afraid to carry out their own principles. It was, indeed, a question of free trade; but the only light they had got upon it—the only direction, the only hint almost they had received—was that contained in the recommendation of the Committee, which was not a very novel or generous expedient, it being merely the taxing of one portion of the public to pay another—a system which rejoiced under the name of protection. By such a mode, indeed, Paul might be protected, but how Peter was to be protected he did not know; and any protection which was not a protection to all the subjects of the Queen equally, was a project which that House ought not to sanction. They were afraid to carry out their free-trade principles. They wanted to bring political economy into the general government, and they thought that a political economist must of necessity be a statesman. Now, it was precisely in questions of trade that the maxims of political economists legitimately applied; but whatever helps trade might generally derive from them, it was unquestionable that, in the present state of trade in this country, every attempt to give a direction to it would be found detrimental to it. The same rule was applicable with regard to taxation; and it was more true with regard to the cotton manufacturer than to the corn grower; for, after all, land was but a great machine for the production of corn. It was a perversion of taxation if they directed it away from its lawful employment, and if, by its means, whether in the shape of bounties, or of drawbacks, or of anything else, they sought to direct or control trade in any way. Taxation was only justifiable when it was employed as a means for affording them the peaceful enjoyment of their occupations, but taxation became unjust when it was used for any other purpose. But the fact was, they were afraid of their free-trade principles, for if they were not, how came it that they had not free trade between Scotland and England? How came it that Scotch whiskey paid a different duty from English spirits? How came it that in different parts of the Queen's dominions, different rates of taxation were imposed? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it necessary for purposes of revenue to lay a tax upon timber, then why did he lay a tax on the timber of Canada, and lay no tax on the timber of Sussex? Unless they made the system of taxation apply equally, it was impossible they could go on much longer as they were. It was not by taxation, it was not by any interference with the operations of trade, that they could ever put an end to slavery. It was a long time ago, when he had been united with Mr. Zachary Macaulay, that this view of the question had prevented him from ever going with the Anti-Slavery Society, because he believed that they did not take the proper course for effecting their object. There was a Motion once made in that House by Mr. Secretary Dundas to abolish the slave trade gradually—that was in 1800—and went on for several years, because the West Indies refused; and the only effectual Motion ever made was that by Mr. Brougham, when he wanted to make the slave trade piracy. Hanging a few captains of slavers at the yard-arm off the coast of Africa, would have done far more than anything ever done yet to put an end to the slave trade; but if they were in earnest to put an end to it, why did they not send ships to watch the shores of Cuba, and claim their enfrancesados? Why were they afraid to tell the slaves they had a right to regain their freedom by every means in their power; that whenever one man was attempted to be enslaved, that man so seized upon was justified in putting to death the man who seized him? He knew that those principles were perverted, and that many regarded them as applicable to political troubles; but that was not so, for it was the inherent right of man; he claimed it from nature's charter, whilst every political right was merely conventional. And now What was it that the West Indies demanded of the House? Let the House look at what their course had been. They first encouraged slavery, and then turned moral, and put an end to it. But, although they were inclined to be moral, they had a frugal mind, and so they thought they would indulge their morality at the expense of the planters. They paid the planter 20,000,000l. for that of which he said it was not half the value, and in doing so they prevented for ever the cultivation of his estate. To talk of free labour competing with slave labour! Did the hon. Gentleman consider what the question was? It was not between ten men called slaves and ten men called free; but it was ten men flogged to death in a certain period to get out of them double the labour that could be got out of ten free men; and so long as flogging was cheaper than feeding, so long would it be imposible for free labour to compete with slave labour. A parallel case in this country would be taking away the horses of a farmer, or a piece of the machinery, or of the mill of a manufacturer. They could not give an equivalent to the West Indies unless they took the whole of their estates at the same tune. Then they gave them apprentices, but they broke their bargain again; then they promised the planters protection as an equivalent. But in the meantime they had taken a lesson in political economy, and they broke their promise. They had thus broken three distinct bargains with the planters consecutively. He was not going to contend whether the West Indian estates were well or ill managed; but he should say that that House was not the proper place to discuss the mode of cultivation, and he should, upon that point, distrust the gentlemen of Manchester as much as the Colonial Office. But sugar cultivation, which was partly a cultivation and partly a manufacture, could never be carried on well except under the eye of the master. What was it, then, that the West Indies had a right to demand from them? It was the free admission into this country of every one of their productions without duty—and they ought to be content with nothing less than that. They had a right, also, to full power to import any labourers from any place they pleased. He granted that it might be necessary to watch over apprenticeship and vagrancy, or anything like a handle to reintroduce the slave trade, but that was easily settled; and if they wished to get lid of the horrors of the slave trade, let them get rid of their fleet on the coast of Africa, both upon the grounds of economy and humanity; but let them not look to trading as a means of altering the condition of those people, nor make a general premium of taxation as much the means of mitigated slavery as it would be of directing or controlling trade. The only way in which they could pursue a safe and equal course, that should be just to all persons, was to carry out to the full extent perfect freedom of trade, perfect freedom of labour, and complete and equal protection to every one of the Queen's subjects.


had omitted to state that, in the event of the Committee adopting the resolution which he had pro-posed, for reducing the duty on colonial sugar from 13s. to 10s., it was his intention to move that the duty on foreign sugar should be fixed at 20s.


said, that the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had spoken of the compensation to the West Indian interests as being altogether inadequate; but in his opinion a more liberal and more just amount of compensation was never given by any people. He would contrast it with the resolution come to by a neighbouring nation lately, that the slaves in their colonies should be at once emancipated, and that the amount of compensation to be awarded to the planters should be entrusted to the national honour, and to the Assembly of the people. There was no compensation of 20,000,000l. in that case. And he would beg to remind the hon. Member that the first proposition made for emancipation of the British West India slaves was merely that a loan should be given to the colonies of fifteen millions, and that loan was afterwards advanced to a gift of twenty millions. And yet it was now over and over again asserted that no adequate compensation had been given, and that there had been an understanding in addition that the colonists were to have protection. But where was there any trace of that understanding to be found? Was any trace of it in the Colonial Office, or on the Journals of that House? Sir Eardley Wilmot's Motion during the apprenticeship was carried in a very small House of only 150 Members, and afterwards rescinded; and in consequence of the decided views expressed by the House, and the whole tenor of the debate in that House, the Colonial Assemblies put an end to the apprenticeship system themselves. The whole tenor of the debate at that period was, that free labour was able to compete with slave labour. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Surrey, in believing that, melancholy as was the consideration, the fact was true that free labour could not compete with slave labour. He believed that a great deal of evil had followed from—he would not say the falsehood—but the philanthropic fallacy that free labour was able to compete with slave labour. He hoped that nothing which fell from him would be understood as intending to imply any doubt as to the existence of distress in the West Indies, It might be said that the West Indian colonies had often complained of distress before, but it was natural that all who were distressed should complain of it. Neither would he go into the argument, which he believed to be a work of supererogation at the present time, that gentlemen ought to improve the cultivation of their estates. He thought that such arguments were improperly applied to parties in distress. His belief was, that the real question which the House should consider, had not been started in the debate at all. The hon. Gentleman who had commenced the debate had taunted the Government with having aggravated the West Indian distress. He did not know whether this matter had been brought forward in a party spirit or not; but this he must say, he considered it to be one of the calamities of the West Indian colonies, that they had from time to time been made the victims of party spirit, and that all their complaints had been brought forward as party questions instead of questions affecting a separate interest. Even the question of labour had been over and over again treated in a party spirit, and as an instance he need only allude to the proposal of his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) when Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1840, for a trial of Coolie labour in the Mauritius, and which had been taken up as a party question. He felt, therefore, extremely sorry at perceiving that the hon. Member had, on the present occasion, thought proper to treat this question so much as a great party measure before entering into the details of the plan which he had submitted to the House. The hon. Baronet had, he thought, entirely failed in proving that his plan would not affect the revenue. [Sir J. PAKINGTON: I did not say so.] He had to beg the hon. Baronet's pardon, but he certainly thought that the hon. Baronet had stated that his plan would neither endanger the revenue nor increase the price to the consumer, and he had afterwards stated that the whole amount to which it would endanger the revenue was 180,000l. But the question was, were they prepared to make the large risk demanded from them for the West Indies? He would confess that he, for one, was not ready, because he did not think that any bargain had been broken with the colonists. He trusted that the House would not adopt this principle of legislation, as they had too much of it lately. The question at issue was, what was to become of the colonies? It would be presumptuous in him to state, though many others had done so during the debate, his individual views as to the prospect of these colonies; but he anticipated that the result would be somewhat the same as would happen in case of any considerable number of properties being in distress; that those who had means and strength to meet the distress would survive and prosper, but that other estates, that had not been managed with equal success, must go out of cultivation. He did not think it would be right for the Legislature to enter now into any fresh system of protection, which might induce the colonists to engage in new and increased expenses, in order to enable some to recover their distresses, while others might not require any assistance. Various plans for affording assistance had been suggested. By some it was thought that the appointment of governors should be intrusted to the colonists themselves; but giving up the right of appointing the governor was giving up the sovereignty of the colony; and if they gave that up, he did not see why they should be required to maintain an armed force for the protection of the colony. The hon. Member, in asking them to adopt his proposition for a 10s. duty, ought to have been prepared to show the House that his plan would have been acceptable to the colonists, instead of which they had put forward very different views, and some of them of a nature that proved very clearly that the hon. Member's position, even if adopted, would be by no means calculated to satisfy the planters and their friends. In the petition dated the 20th of June, 1848, which had been presented to the House from three agents in this country for Barbadoes, for Antigua and Montserrat, and for St. Vincent, and other legislative colonies, he found the following passages:— The undersigned, in a petition to your honourable House, bearing date the 28th of January, 1848, showed that Her Majesty's Government had evidently miscalculated the rate of distinctive duty in 1846, when 7s, per cwt. was imposed—and further showed that a discriminative duty of 175. per cwt. should then have been imposed in order to place the British plantation sugar (regard being had to quality) on the footing of Cuba and Brazil sugar in the British markets, and thus to indemnify the British planter for the use of his capital—to afford him an average commercial profit, and to enable him to undersell slavetrading sugar countries—the avowed object of Her Majesty's Government in abolishing slavery in her own colonies, that the measure might serve as an example and encouragement to slavetrading and slaveholding colonies to do likewise. It has now become a question of State policy whether the British sugar colonies shall in future be cultivated or not. It has been shown that, if the present discriminating duty be not increased to 15s. per cwt., a very large proportion of the sugar estates now under cultivation must be abandoned—the white population will no longer find it profitable to reside upon them, and the islands will be left to the fate of St. Domingo—to the government of negroes; while the splendid fabric of civilisation and Christianity now existing in the British West Indies, and purchased at such great sacrifices, will become a matter of History. It was, moreover, shown in the petition referred to, that sugar cannot, on an average, be raised under 20s. per cwt. independently of interest on capital. That 10s. per cwt. discriminating duty in favour of British sugar would tend to place it on a footing with the sugar of the slavetrading grower; but the latter would receive a fair interest on his capital on the prices in the markets here, which would not be the case with the free-labour sugar-grower of the British colonies. It was therefore proposed by the undersigned, that the 10s. per cwt. extra duty should be increased to 15s. per cwt., to insure a continuance of cultivation. The undersigned regret to be compelled to observe, that they see no present advantages as measures of relief in the propositions made by Her Majesty's Government, independently of a permanent distinctive duty of 15s. per cwt. on foreign sugar. The undersigned, therefore, respectfully claim that the pledge of 10s. per cwt protection duty against foreign free- labour sugar, and the practical exclusion of slave-labour sugar, as established by 6 and 7 Vie., cap. 27, may be re-enacted, instead of the existing scale of discriminative duties: or that a duty of 15s. per cwt. discriminative duty may be imposed on all foreign sugar, whether the production of free or slave labour; and that in the event of the rejection of both these propositions, the undersigned pray that your honourable House will be pleased to take into your favourable consideration the claim of the planters, that their estates may be purchased at the public cost, in conformity with the principle already acted upon under the 3rd and 4th Wm. IV., cap. 73, the 5th and 6th Wm. IV., cap. 45, the 6th and 7th Wm. IV., cap. 5 and 82, and the 4th Vict., cap. 18, for compensating the owners of slaves in the British plantations—the valuation to be made at the prices current for West India estates two years before the; emancipation took place. It was plain that these gentlemen would not be satisfied with the plan which the hon. Baronet proposed. He could not avoid referring to the statement made the other night by the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His right hon. Friend did not seem certainly to be very complimentary to the two Committees that had been sitting for some time on the Estimates, and to one of which he had the misfortune, or the honour, to belong. His right hon. Friend was certainly not anxious to throw the responsibility off his own shoulders; but, as a Member of one of the Committees, he would say that he did not think the reduction proposed by the right hon. Baronet would enable him to grant the relief that he offered. In some of the cases of reduction, the consideration of the estimates would be merely postponed, and he doubted the advantage of putting off the execution of works that were found absolutely necessary, and the postponement of which might be attended with injurious consequences. He thought that with such works the best mode would be to advance them as rapidly as possible, and then to throw the whole matter before the public, instead of extending the works over a number of years, and by this means increasing the expense, rather than diminishing it. He alluded to this subject because he believed that his right hon. Friend had put forward these reductions as a ground why the House should be more ready to grant relief to the West Indies. He thought, however, that the only questions for the House to consider, were these two great questions—whether any breach of contract had taken place; and if they found that such a breach of contract had been made, they would then have to consider what remuneration ought to be given, having regard, however, to the future interests of the country. Not thinking the first, and believing that the proposal of the hon. Gentleman would not be satisfactory even to the interest which it was intended to benefit, and also that it would be attended with considerable risk to the revenue, he could not give it his support; but at the same time he wished not to be regarded as an adversary to that particular interest.


trusted the House would suffer him to explain the principles on which he intended to act. It was the principle which he thought ought to influence the Imperial Parliament in dealing with an imperial question, namely, good faith and just dealing to our follow subjects. Guided by it, be would support the Amendment of his hon. Friend. The House might now feel it convenient to disclaim protection to the West Indies, and at the same time protest against the slave trade; but they ought to recollect that up to 1807, not only did the Parliament of this country sanction the slave trade, but positively enacted it; and in the reign of George II. a monopoly of it was given to the Queen Dowager, and to the Duke of York. Up to 1807, he repeated that the slave trade had been recognised in the most unequivocal manner by the Parliament of England, which, in making grants of land in those colonies, guaranteed that the proprietors should keep a certain number of slaves. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Thompson) put his argument in a curious point of view. The hon. Gentleman said, "Suppose a man was constantly in distress, and always applying to you for small sums of money, which only served ultimately to cause his ruin, would you go on giving him money still?" But the hon. Gentleman ought to have completed the simile. Suppose it was by the advice and under the control of this so-called "benefactor," that this man was involved in ruin, and that, when he was utterly cast down, he went to this "benefactor," who had, through him, earned a character for philanthropy, what would be said if this "benefactor" merely replied, "Oh, my friend, it is true we have made a great experiment at your cost, but I cannot now give you any help; you have got into a 'mess' through me, and you may stay there?" Hon. Gentlemen opposite were flirting with philanthropy and free trade. The hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire said both were naturally associated; but it was plain that in this case, at all events, they were diametrically opposite. It was certain that by the application of this free-trade theory to our colonies, we had rather increased than diminished slavery, and reduced those once prosperous colonies to the very verge of ruin. And were we quite sure that all this would end well, even to the consuming class in this country. Not at all. It seemed to him that, when by our legislation we had consummated the ruin of the West Indian colonies, we had also inflicted a great injury upon the home consumer, for the foreigner would then monopolise our markets, and charge a high price for his slave-grown sugar. The truth of the matter was, they had embarked in a line of policy which they could not carry out, and they found the obstacles to its development daily becoming greater. Some people, he knew, held the miserable and un-English doctrine that we could do without our colonies, that they were only an incumbrance to us, and that America, although separated from us, was one of our best customers. To such a line of policy he could never give his sanction. He thought our colonial dependencies one of the main elements of our power and greatness, and would therefore never countenance a measure which would impoverish or ruin the least of them. He thought the Amendment of his hon. Friend calculated to better the position of our West Indian fellow-subjects, and should, therefore, give it his hearty support.


said, that as he had voted for the Bill of 1846, he wished to explain the reasons which induced him now to vote for the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich. Before, however, entering upon that subject, he must be permitted to say that his hon. Friend had acted wisely, before making his present proposal, in ascertaining the sense of the House upon the measure submitted by Her Majesty's Government; for, on looking at the division list, it at once appeared that it was condemned by the House, though it happened to be carried by a small majority. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) smiled at that statement; but he would tell the noble Lord it was party alone that had given him that majority. It was to party alone that he was indebted for his miserable majority of fifteen. And he further told the noble Lord, there was not, in the whole annals of Parliament, a single instance of a Government forcing on a measure involving such great interests with so small a majority—and that majority obtained by so extraordinary an amalgamation of parties. The country, he believed, would look upon the circumstance as an unequivocal expression of opinion on the part of that House, that the plan proposed by Her Majesty's Government was not one of which the House of Commons really approved. When the Bill of 1846 was before the House, he supported it on three grounds. First, on account of the extreme injustice that would be done to all the other great interests of the country, by depriving them of protection, and at the same time granting protection to the West Indies. How could we justify this subjection of home producers to foreign competition against the article they produce, and at the same time to the payment of a protection price for so necessary an article of consumption as sugar? But he confessed that, however strongly he might have felt on that subject, he would never have voted for the measure of 184G had he foreseen the great stimulus it had given to the slave trade. One circumstance that had great weight with him at that time was, that the noble Lord the then Member for Liverpool (now the Earl of Harrowby), a sincere friend to the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, after having given great attention to the subject, stated his conviction that it would not stimulate the slave trade. The noble Lord had argued—and in that argument he fully concurred—that if we rejected slave-grown sugar, we should draw into this country a large proportion of foreign free-trade sugar, the effect of which would be that the slave-grown sugar, instead of coining into this country, would supply the vacuum created on the Continent, thus merely making an exchange of markets, without creating an increased demand. Upon that ground, and feeling that the West Indies should be put upon the same footing as other interests, he had voted for the Bill of 1846. He had been further induced to take that step by the argument held out as to the probability of a treaty being concluded with Brazil; but that ground had since been cut from under them; for this country was now in a worse position, as regarded commercial relations with Brazil, than she had been in before. He had thought that the most desirable way to bring about a commercial treaty with the Brazils, and also to induce them to give up slavery, would be by showing a willingness to open our markets to their sugar. The question had been dealt with by some hon. Members as if it were one of protection. He should not give his vote upon that principle. He was an advocate for protection to native industry, and colonial industry; and he thought that a great part of the now existing distress was to be attributed to the abandonment of that principle. But, if they must have free trade, then it must be had altogether, and not hit by bit. You could not give protection to one interest and refuse it to another. The only way now to do any good would be to apply the full evils of the free-trade system to all alike, and then there would be an universal outcry for a restoration of those sound commercial principles under which this country had so long flourished. And on this principle he was prepared to act, with the exception of the West Indies, which involved the continuance of slavery, and of the navigation laws, which involved the consideration of national defences. The right hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice) had put the question clearly before the House, when he said that we were engaged in a great struggle to maintain high taxation with low prices. He (Mr. Spooner) warned the Government that that struggle had now arrived at that point at which it must, ere long, be decided; and his conviction was, that it was impossible to maintain the present rate of taxation with the two great principles they had adopted in free trade and the present monetary laws. The adoption of either of these principles was quite sufficient to produce great distress, ay, and ruin, upon the country; but the application of both at once would be found impracticable; and unless we speedily retraced our steps, national prosperity, safety, and honour, would be irretrievably lost. But he (Mr. Spooner) was not then about to enter upon that vital question, the money laws. He warned the Government that the country was he-ginning to be of the opinion that low prices and high taxation could not coexist. There was an association lately firmed in Liverpool, consisting, not of philosophers, or radicals, or free-trade men, but consisting chiefly of men of great property, of high talent, and of sound conservative principles, and they had associated together on the express principle of compelling the House of Commons, if they were for going back to the prices of 1797, to go back to the taxation of 1797 also. They had already received communications from all parts of the kingdom ex- pressing full sympathy in these views; and their correspondence had multiplied so much that it might fairly rival the mass of despatches they had lately heard so much of in the Colonial Office. With respect to that part of the plan which comprehended what was sometimes called a loan and sometimes a grant, but which he should consider as a grant, being assured that, once parted with, it would never come hack, he protested altogether against it, unless the Government were prepared to make it general. There must be no grant to enable the West Indies to obtain foreign labour when there were thousands out of employ in this country. He asked the Government to look to the state of Staffordshire, for example. Not a day passed but some work was stopped. In one instance alone of partnership works carried on partly in Staffordshire and partly in Wales, 2,000 men had been discharged within the last three weeks. Would those who contributed to the taxes and poor-rates endure to be told that half a million of money was to be given to the West Indies to enable them to obtain labour from other countries, when such was the state of things in our own country? Look at the state of our manufactures, especially the iron trade. At a large meeting, preparatory to the quarter-day meeting, it had been resolved to reduce the price of bar-iron not less than 2l., making it 6l. 10s.; and every person who knew any thing of that trade would tell them it was impossible to manufacture with profit the article under 8l. or 9l. Observe the reduction of wages that must follow; and even if that reduction were submitted to, and the trade carried on, he asked the Government to consider the consequence of putting large bodies of men on such low wages. What would be their consumption, and where would the Chancellor of the Exchequer look for his duties? Never, during his experience, had the great staple manufactures of this country been in so bad a state with regard to the profits of the masters, or to the employment of the people; and he called upon the Government seriously to consider the present aspect of affairs. He called upon the noble Lord and his Colleagues well to consider all the consequences of attempting to reduce the national expenditure to the level to which they would be required to bring down the taxation of this country, if they did not abandon their present policy. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, indeed, made a consoling statement the other night, which he was told had given great confidence in the City. He only wished this confidence were well founded; but he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that he was not a convert to his statements, for those statements were not reductions, but merely postponement of payments. It was true his statement regarding the increase of the malt duty was perfectly correct, because every brewer knew that the barley of last year contained a larger portion of saccharine matter than was ever known before; and, therefore, every man of capital was malting as much as he possibly could. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I spoke only of this year.] That was just like all Chancellors of the Exchequer, who seized upon what they could get for the year without regard to futurity. But the right hon. Gentleman was dealing with more than the present year, for the payments of this year he was postponing to the next. Protection to native and colonial industry was the system under which this country had prospered; but ever since the political economy gentlemen had been conducting affairs on their theory, the country had been going backward every year. The only true course would be to revert to the old system. He asked hon. Gentlemen opposite how it happened that after thirty-three years of peace, with the markets of the world open to us, and with all advantages, there had not been a single great interest which had not in its turn come to that House complaining of ruin? It might be said that the agricultural interest had no complaints; but every one conversant with the subject knew very well that that interest would be happy to compound with the noble Lord and right hon. Gentleman opposite for a large sum, if they would guarantee that that interest should not in the next twelve months be involved in the same ruin that was now affecting every other interest. He should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Droitwich, not as a question of protection or right, but because be believed that his proposition was the only one which could check that great and fearful increase of the slave trade, which he regarded as a national calamity, a national disgrace, and a national sin.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith) had stated, that when emancipation was carried, no bargain had been made with the. West Indies, and therefore I that none could have been broken. As he happened to have taken a part in the debates of that period, he had a strong recollection that not only was a bargain made, but that it had been broken in every particular. The first proposal was a loan of fifteen millions. A difficulty, however, arose with regard to the Assembly of Jamaica, in consequence of their power to prevent any law passed in England taking effect in the island; and it became necessary to call to the aid of Government the gentlemen connected with Jamaica before any arrangement could he made. When it was proposed to turn the loan of fifteen millions into a gift of twenty millions, Jamaica agreed to carry the Act of Emancipation. On that ground the bargain was made. The first part of the bargain was, that twenty millions should be paid; and the second, that there should be an apprenticeship for seven years. In consequence, however, of the planters of Antigua having more negroes than they could find work for, they were willing to give up the apprenticeship, for it was a condition upon the West Indies that they should maintain the apprentices. They could not, therefore, have put out the money as suggested by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), at five per cent compound interest. The hon. Member said, if they had put out their compensation money at five per cent compound interest, they would now have been well off. That might be the case, or it might not; at all events, he would remind the hon. Member it was part of the bargain that the West Indies should carry out the wishes of this country in all respects. He asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether they had not kept their part of the contract? The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. G. Thompson) at that time took great interest in the Anti-Slavery Society, and he asked him if he wished to be placed in a dilemma? Either the home market was intended to be kept for the West Indies, or it was intended to open it hereafter to the slavetraders. Upon one horn of this dilemma he must pin the hon. Member—either it was understood and agreed at the time of emancipation that the home market should belong to the West Indies and the other colonies of Great Britain, or it was not. Either there was a mental reservation that by and by, when slavery had been taken away in the West Indies, that slave produce should be admitted into this market, or there was not. He believed there was no such reservation; and he could state it was fully understood that the home market should be kept for the West Indies, and that the slavetraders should never bring their sugar into this country. Thus two bargains had been broken. In consequence of Antigua wishing to be relieved from the support of the negroes, apprenticeship was done away with. This produced a great disturbance in the other islands. Certain missionaries went about Jamaica and put it into a state almost of rebellion concerning the apprentices, till, at last, the Assembly was obliged to agree to take oft' two years. This was in 1838. But what was the next bargain? That labour should be introduced. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) sat with himself upon a Committee, of which the hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich was chairman, and he and the antislavery party then did everything in their power to prevent the immigration of Africans into the West Indies. This was not part of the bargain. The bargain, indeed, was not kept in any one particular. The Government were now seeking to introduce a loan of half a million to the West India planters. In answer to the right hon. Gentleman the hon. Member for Northampton, he begged to inform the House that the twenty millions had not been paid. A great deal was said about the West Indies having received twenty millions, and it was believed by many; but the sum actually awarded was only 18,669,401l. 10s. 7d., leaving a balance unpaid at this day of 1,330,598l. 5s. 1d. Suppose, therefore, the House were to award that balance of a million to purposes of emigration now, instead of the 500,000l. proposed, they would only be adhering to the original bargain. The West India proprietors, therefore, instead of being taunted with 500,000l. to be raised for the purposes of emigration, ought to be paid their debt. There was more than a million of money in the Exchequer, due upon the account; yet the boast was made that twenty millions had been paid! Certainly it could not but be a strong proceeding on the part of the Government to break the contract as to the twenty millions, and as to the apprenticeship; and then to admit slave-grown sugar into the home market. They were, then, about to introduce the produce of the slave trade; let it be conformable with the original bargain; and then let him exam- ine what ought to be the amount of duty. He had shown two parts of the contract had already been broken, and the third part was now to be broken—he did not say for the first time, because undoubtedly, in the year, 1844, when free-trade sugar was introduced, the bargain was infringed upon. In 1846, in spite of the West Indian proprietors, the bargain was broken, and the consequences were now to be seen. What did they (the West Indian proprietors) now ask? Simply to go back to that fair arrangement which ought to have been made in 1846. He would, however, take the scale of last year, from the 5th July, 1847, to the 5th July, 1848, when the duties were on foreign 20s., and on colonial 14s. He found that the difference in value, according to the quality, between foreign and colonial was 6s., so that practically it was admitted at equal duty; and if free trade meant that we were to have equality of duty, according to the value, then we had had free trade in sugar last year. On the other hand, if by free it was meant that the same articles, whatever their value, should pay the same amount of duty, and a pound of cotton should pay the same as a pound of gold, lot the House say so. But trace this doctrine to its consequences in the article of sugar. During the next year, according to the Act of 1846, the foreign duty would be 18s. 6d. and the colonial (duty 14s., the difference being 4s. 6d. Now the mass of evidence before the Committee went to show that Cuban sugar was 4s. 6d. per cwt. more valuable than the colonial article; and what would be the effect in 1851, when the two duties would be reduced to 14s. each? If the foreign sugar was 4d. 10s. per ten more valuable than the colonial, a bounty would be given to the former to that extent. In other words, your Act, instead of securing free trade, was, in fact, an act of bounty. You gave to the foreigner, who worked the slaves and carried on the slave trade, in the production of his sugar, the English market now, but in the year 1851 you gave him a bounty of 4l. 10s. Neither of these could be free trade. He submitted, then, that there ought to be a difference in the amount of duty according to the value of the two articles. Look at what the people of Havana said of it. The trade circulars of Messrs. Drake Brothers and Co., the leading merchants of the Havana, themselves extensive proprietors of sugar estates in that island, in 1844 stated that— They had no expectation of the price of sugar being improved except by having the English market opened to the produce of the island, where, if this could be effected at a rate even of 50 per cent above the duty on English colonial sugar, still they should obtain for their produce double the amount they can obtain at present. On the 8th of January, 1848, they said— The production of 1847 has far exceeded that of any previous year, and the prices obtained by planters have been so highly remunerative, that they are enabled to adopt every means for the further extension of their crops. Another price current, subsequent in date, added— During the past year the prices of sugar in our markets were supported at high rates, with but slight and temporary fluctuations, notwithstanding the large crop. This was mainly owing to the unprecedentedly heavy shipments to the United States and to Great Britain, aided by a well-sustained inquiry from Spain, with a fair demand from other parts. Here, then, the people of Cuba themselves told us, that before the Act of 1846 they were able to introduce their sugar at 50 per cent increase upon English colonial sugar. The person most interested in this fact was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The foreigner, who could raise his sugar so much cheaper than the colonist, was in no fear of increased taxation. A good deal of doubt existed regarding the exact amount for which sugar could be raised in Cuba. Some put it at 6s. 10d., others more. He would take an average, and say it cost 10s. per cwt. Add the duty of 20s. to that, it would make 30s. On the other hand, it was said that colonial sugars—Jamaica, for instance—could only he produced for 22s. 6d. per cwt.; but he would take it so low as 20s.; add the 10s. duty thereto, the amount would make the two cases equal—30s. each. Assume the freight and other charges to be 6s. per cwt. each, this would bring the whole cost to 36s. per cwt., or 4d. per lb. to the consumer. This would be putting them both on terms of equality. But why, he asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, did he not tax the foreigner? The foreigner did not thank him for not doing so. The Brazilian Government put on a heavy tax; that tax was paid by the English consumer for the benefit of the foreign Government; and they might rest assured that when the competition with the foreigner ceased—when sugar cultivation in their own colonies was abandoned—that sugar would not be bought as cheap as it was at present; that it would be turned by foreign Governments for their own benefit, and that the English consumer would have to pay that tax. He had not the slightest doubt but that whoever might be Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1851, would have to come down to that House to propose a tax upon the foreign article.


thought that the claim for relief on the part of the West Indies, which was founded upon the acknowledged existence of severe distress, was in every point of view more deserving of legislative consideration than that which rested upon the narrower ground of an alleged breach of compact. Many who denied altogether that any bargain had been made or broken, were not unwilling to enter frankly into the question of what the colonies really required, and what aid this country could reasonably be asked to afford them. For the system of policy which would sever liabilities and obligations, among the different communities subject to the same Crown, he had no respect or sympathy. So long as they bore a common allegiance, and adhered to the fortunes of the same empire, he considered that each had in times of unforeseen calamity or unavoidable distress a right to claim from the Imperial Legislature peculiar care, and succour in its time of need. On the other hand, it must be admitted that in all such cases grounds as clear as they were Special ought to be stated; and if in the present instance it had been shown that the claim of the West Indian proprietary was novel or unprecedented—that their misfortunes had arisen from different causes from any which had affected their condition before—or if they had proved that they had done all that in them lay to wrestle with the evils they complained of—he should have felt much more hesitation as to the vote which he was about to give upon the question. But it was difficult to distinguish the distress that now prevailed from that which Parliament had in former years been called on to relieve, so far as its great and leading features were concerned. In 1807, a Committee of the House reported that the West Indian planters had submitted to them ample evidence to show that they were upon the brink of ruin—that estates must go out of cultivation, for that sugar was produced at a loss—and that all this had arisen from the loss of a monopoly they had previously enjoyed, and their inability to compete with foreigners. There was no question about free labour then, for slavery was at that time universal. In 1832, similar representations were made upon similar authority. The colonies still enjoyed a practical monopoly of the home market; but as they had a surplus to send abroad, the protecting duty proved inoperative, and prices fell so low that they declared that every cwt. of sugar was produced at a loss, and that unless a bounty of six shillings a cwt. was granted upon the quantity re-exported, and sixpence a gallon taken off the duty on nun, lands would go out of cultivation, and their ruin would be complete. And in 1848 their complaint is the same, namely, that they are undersold by foreigners. But the Committee over which the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn had presided, if it had proved anything distinctly, had demonstrated that they were undersold now—not by slave labour only, but by free labour—by Java, by the Mauritius, and by the East Indies. In connexion with this part of the subject, reference had been made to the amount of machinery exported to the slave-labour colonies. It had been stated, that while the amount sent to our own colonies had decreased, that which had recently gone to their rivals had proportionably boon augmented. Taking, however, an average of the two last periods of five years, it would appear that while the export to the British West lndies had somewhat declined, that to (Juba and the other foreign islands had-fallen off still more; and that while the' value of machinery sent to Brazil had in-creased, that to India and Ceylon had increased still more so. The colonists had long contended, that by the Act of Emancipation they had been taken by surprise; and that the negroes were wholly unprepared for the condition of free labourers. If this were so, whose was the blame? From 1823, warning had been given in terms not to be mistaken, that the period was fast approaching when slavery must cease. But Parliament, while it proclaimed its ultimate determination and design, was willing to allow time for effecting a progressive change, and counselled the colonial assemblies to introduce such ameliorations in the condition of the slaves as might gradually fit them for freedom. What was done in pursuance of that advice? It would doubtless pound harsh to characterise the conduct of the colonial assemblies as a "mockery and an insult;" yet such were the terms in which Lord Stanley characterised all that they had done from 1823 to 1833, to prepare the negroes for emancipation. It was said that the period of the apprenticeship was cut short two years, in breach of faith and compact. But if this term of apprenticeship was so valuable, or if the power of compelling men to work without wages made such a difference in profits, how did it happen that in Antigua, the period of apprenticeship was voluntarily declined altogether by the planters? and how came it to pass that when the late Mr. Gurney, whose authority the opponents of slavery would not dispute, visited the island in 1840, he was told by more than one of the proprietors of estates that they regarded the compensation money which had been given by this country as an absolute gratuity, for that they had been in no degree injured by the change? And to this testimony he added that of Dr. Nugent, then president of the Assembly of Antigua, and of Sir W. Colebrooke, the governor of the island, who declared his conviction that "the estates were then as valuable without the slaves as they formerly had been with them." And now a word as to the consumer. The hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) had made use of arguments founded on the want of employment at present prevailing in this country, which appeared to him rather to make for the proposition of the Government than for that of the hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich. If work was scarce and wages low, was not this a time peculiarly unsuitable for enhancing the price of such an article as sugar, which had come to be an essential of the artisan's subsistence? With regard to the people of Ireland, it should not be forgotten how great and happy a change had been wrought in their habits of late years, by the disuse of ardent spirits in excessive quantities. It was impossible for any man who wished well to the inhabitants of that country not to desire to see them fortified by habit in their good resolution; and to that end it must manifestly be an object of no ordinary importance that those other articles of comfort or necessity which had recently come into use as substitutes for less healthful stimulants, should be placed more easily within their reach. It was the boast of commerce that it rendered those things that once were luxuries so cheap as to lead men to regard them as necessaries; but it was the reproach of unjust or excessive taxation that it turned what had become necessaries into luxuries again. He was sorry to hear it asked what signifies 1d. or 2d. in the pound, in the price of such an article as sugar? ["No, no!"] He should be sorry to misrepresent what hon. Gentleman opposite had said, but he certainly thought he had heard expressions of the kind made use of in the course of the discussions that had taken place upon the question. Did they sufficiently consider, however, what a difference in the comfort and contentment of the poor man sums like these too often made? His wealth was the aggregate of small savings; and his sufficiency or want frequently depended upon the possession of a few more or a few less of those vulgar coins which fastidious fingers shrink from touching. It was easy for those who lived in affluence to look out through the plate-glass of their own luxurious condition upon the wintry day of laborious life, and marvel why the struggling multitude appeared so ill at ease. But it was the imperative duty of the Legislature to endeavour to keep steadily in view the wants and hardships of the many, even when they could not hope fully to relieve them; and when generous deeds were proposed to be done towards the unfortunate of other climes and countries, to remember the paramount claim of those who were at home. It had been truly remarked by an eminent writer of the present day, that "justice was not a political virtue much in fashion, though philanthropy was decidedly so." No one could desire more earnestly the final extinction of slavery. But he felt persuaded that that great end would never be accomplished until free labour had proved itself in every respect an overmatch for slave labour. That it was capable of doing so he had not a doubt. It was this hope that had inspired the efforts of Burke and Wilber-force; it was this faith that animated Fox, when on the last occasion that he addressed the House, he avowed that he looked upon the abolition of the slave trade as certain to lead to the ultimate extinction of slavery itself. The whole policy of the country for more than forty years had implied the belief that as free labour was the labour of civilisation, it would eventually surpass slave labour, which was the labour of barbarism; and he could conceive nothing more disastrous or disheartening to the cause of progress and of freedom throughout the world, than that we should abandon that policy or renounce that faith.


had supported the measure of 1846, in ignorance, as he must admit with regret, of the effects which it would work. He was also a humble but sincere advocate of the principles of free trade. But in the present question, considerations even more important than free trade were involved; and it certainly was not in accordance with the principles of free trade, to expose the West Indians to so fierce a competition, whilst we tied their hands in respect to free access to the labour market. On these grounds he must oppose—though with unaffected reluctance and regret—the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government, of which he was an habitual supporter. He begged to state most distinctly that he had no connexion whatever with the West Indies, and no interest in West India property; be was, therefore, in a condition to view the subject with indifference and impartiality. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) he observed, had spoken of the question now before the House as one between the English labourer and the West Indian labourer, which was a statement, he apprehended, not warranted by the real bearings of the case, for the question really was one between the consumers of sugar and the owners of West India property; and between those it was the duty of that House to administer justice at any cost. The claims of the West India interest were admitted by every one, but everybody stopped short when it came to giving the necessary compensation; and further, he thought that the West India proprietors had a right to complain that they were used as scapegoats, for all the blame of slavery was cast upon them, as if the real blame ought not to attach to the nation at largo. England paid 20,000,000l. as a fine for the sin which she had committed against the negro race; but the sum which be had mentioned, though called a compensation, was at all events but a one-sided compensation, for it was forced upon the West Indies. They would much rather have kept their slaves. They were further injured by the premature abolition of apprenticeship. But as slavery had been abolished, he would say that the moment that measure was resolved upon, it became the duty of the Colonial Office to provide for enabling the West India proprietors to procure a sufficient supply of free labourers. He had always been an earnest promoter of emancipation, but never contended that the emancipated negro would surpass the slave in efficiency, if he were allowed to have a monopoly of, the labour market. What be originally thought, and thought still, was, that free labour—if the planter were allowed free access to the labour market of the world—would be found cheaper than slave labour. So far from any of the successive Governments of this country taking measures to procure a supply of free labourers, they had all been guilty of gross omissions in that respect. The noble Lord himself admitted that the Anti-Slavery Association had too much weight with the Colonial Office; and the Under Secretary for the Colonies admitted as much in his evidence. The testimony of the hon. Member for Bristol upon this point was worthy of attention. It was in these words:— Have you considered at all the cost at which Africans might be imported if there was no interference on the part of the Government? I think the Africans might be imported at a very cheap rate. I will only state what occurred to myself when Lord Grey's despatch came out. I went to tile Colonial Office to inquire if a vessel I had sailing then might (tall at the coast of Africa for negroes. I did so, not on my own account, but on the account of a resident proprietor who was I very anxious to get some. From the Colonial Office, however, I could get no satisfactory answer; and it finally ended in my being told that they had taken two ships up, and they did not intend to allow any more. I could have done it that week, but I could not have done it since. The cost of getting those Africans would have been very small. I do not believe that it would have been a fortnight's longer voyage for the vessel to have gone round there than to have gone direct: the vessel had her supplies, and had plenty of room for the immigrants. The immigration of Coolies was stopped, though besides the wrong to the British planters, it was a great injustice to the natives of the East Indies not to allow them to take their labour to the market where it was wanted. In 1844 a larger immigration was urged by the West Indian body, and a requisition made for 9,500 Coolies for Jamaica, Guiana, and Trinidad. To what extent was that requisition carried out? Only 1,026 were sent, or less than 19th of the number required. In the following year, a want of labour being still felt, 1,5,000 Coolies were asked for, and 7,315 were sent, or less than one-half of the amount required. These were specimens of the manner in which the West Indies had boon systematically treated. It could not be urged that the Coolie immigrants were badly used, and that, therefore, on their account, the emigration ought to be restricted and stopped; for he had extracts from two letters of protectors of Coolie emigrants, which would completely refute any such allegation. The first letter, the 10th of March, 1847, was from the protector of emigrants at Madras; and he made a very favourable report of the condition in which the emigrants had returned to Madras from the Mauritius. That officer stated that he believed they were well satisfied with their treatment; that they had, with few exceptions, got a good stock of clothes, and, independent of the passage-money which the majority had themselves paid, each possessed, on the average, as the result of his earnings, 300 rupees (about 30l.), and that some had upwards of 50l., and several 85l. These were sums utterly beyond their hopes to be able to accumulate in the East Indies. The second letter was dated the 4th of April, 1848, and was from the protector of immigrants at Calcutta. He stated— That the immigrants who return from the Mauritius are generally averse to show their gains. Those, however, who had returned by the last two ships, besides ornaments, clothes, &c., had, on an average, brought in money rupees 124, although most of them had remained in the island considerably less than five years, and had on that account to pay for their passage back. He added, also— That he had known but few, and they were those who had brought back neither money nor character, express themselves dissatisfied with the Mauritius. Such being the case, he (Mr. Mangles) regretted to say that every Government since the passing of the Emancipation Act, instead of regulating and taking means to carry on immigration for the benefit of both parties, had impeded and prevented it; and now it was proposed to grant a large sum of money for the purpose of doing that which ought to have been done years ago. It would then have been effectual for the relief of the West Indies. He thought that, on account of this long neglect and unjust interference with the natural right of the planters to get labour where they could, the West Indies had the strongest possible claim on this country. He knew that it would be urged that it was not so much the Government that had thrown impediments in the way of immigration as public opinion, for that the people of this country were so jealous of any thing that might appear like a covert resuscitation of the slave trade, that they prevented the Government taking those steps which were necessary for the purpose of providing a supply of labour to the West Indies. He admitted that representation; but if it were true, it was gross injustice for the public now to turn round on the West Indies, and, after having prevented them from getting a supply of cheap labour, to say, "As you cannot, in the absence of cheap labour, produce cheap sugar, the interest of the consumer must be paramount, and protection must be taken away from you." He believed that the Anti-Slavery Association were responsible, to a great extent, for the state of things now existing, as they had prevented the West Indies from getting a proper supply of labour. That association had, in fact, done all in its power to falsify all its own positions, in respect to the superior cheapness of free labour, and to verify the declarations of its opponents, who had always affirmed that it was impossible to raise tropical produce otherwise than by means of slave labour. He admitted that free labour was the cheapest, but that body was opposed to immigration on the ground not only that it was covert slave trade, but also because the admission of labourers would keep down the wages of the emancipated negroes. He thought that the West Indies ought to have had the advantage of a sufficient supply of free labour at an earlier period, for it was not fair to tie their hands behind them, and then tell them to compete with other countries. He also thought that the West Indies now for a time ought to have some such advantages as the hon. Member for Droitwich asked to be conceded to them. They ought, too, to have unrestricted resort to the labour market, and liberal steps should be taken to enable them to improve their cultivation by, among other means, irrigation, which was most essential in tropical countries. We must now, in justice, pay for the consequences of our neglect and injustice. At the same time, effective and immediate measures should be taken to reduce the expenses of the colonial administrations. He considered it most desirable that kindlier relations should be established between the colonial authorities and the colonists; and that the authorities should be taught that it was not merely their business to govern the colonists, but to help them through the difficulties they might have to encounter. For the reasons he had stated, he felt compelled, though he did so with great pain, to support the Amendment in opposition to the plan of Her Majesty's Government.


was anxious to explain the grounds upon which he had on a former occasion voted against the proposition the Government, and upon which he intended to-night to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Droitwich. He had been surprised to hear the hon. Member for Northampton contend that the West Indies had no claim whatever upon Parliament or the country; and that as our West Indian colonies were incapacitated, by circumstances over which Parliament had no control, from competing successfully with Cuba and Brazil, the result must be that those colonies would, before long, cease to produce the chief supply of sugar for the home market, and that we must expect to obtain our supply from the possessions of Spain and from the Brazils. The noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), in enunciating his proposition, stated that his object in framing the resolutions submitted to the House by the Government, was to adhere to the principle of the Act of 1846, and at the same time to afford to the people of this country a cheap supply of sugar; and the noble Lord dwelt with special emphasis upon the latter of those objects. Now, he must say he considered that the noble Lord had altogether abandoned the principle of the Act of 1846, by extending the period when the duties upon sugar were to be equalised from 1851 to 1854. The noble Lord might say that it was only a question of time, and that in proposing to equalise the duties on sugar in 1854, he adhered to the principle of the Act of 1846; but he (Mr. Robinson) considered that by proposing to continue protection for three years beyond the time contemplated by the Act of 1846, the noble Lord had abandoned the principle of that Act. There was no man in the House more fully convinced than himself that it was the duty of Parliament, by every means in its power, to cheapen the necessaries of life to the consumer; and that duty was especially incumbent on the Legislature under the present circumstances of this country, when they had a constantly-growing population, and, he feared, a concurrent diminution in the demand for labour. But was the noble Lord quite sure, if his proposition were adopted, al-though its effect might be to cheapen the price of sugar in the first instance, that it would eventually ensure a supply of cheap sugar to the consumers of this country? He (Mr. Robinson) entertained very great doubt upon that subject. He thought the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Godson) had satisfactorily shown that the effect of discouraging the growth of sugar in our West Indian possessions would be this, that we should derive comparatively small supplies from our own colonies, and that our trade in sugar would be transferred to Cuba and the Brazils. If this was the result of the Government proposition, they would merely be giving a monopoly to Cuba and Brazil, instead of to the British West Indian colonies, and in the end, probably, the price of sugar in this country would be quite as high, if not higher, than at present. He was not going to enter into the question of West India distress; but he might remind the House that various reasons had been assigned for the existence of that distress. It had been said, that the West India planters were utterly ignorant of the mode of cultivating their estates—that they had indulged in extravagance to such an extent that they had brought ruin upon themselves—and that they had no right to come to Parliament asking for assistance. It had also been said, that one cause of the distressed condition of the West India islands was, that a very large proportion of the property in those colonies belonged to Persons residing in this country, by whom it had been mortgaged, and who had little or no personal interest in the estates. Now, in reply to this latter assertion, he might state, that many of the resident planters whose estates were not mortgaged, had been involved in the same ruin with the absentee proprietors. He held in his hand a copy of an address delivered at Jamaica by the Hon. Mr. Gordon, who had resided in the parish of St. Andrew's, in that island, for thirty-six years, cultivating his own property, and who stated, that when he first went to Jamaica, the value of the sugar and rum produced in the parish of St. Andrew's was 175,000l. per annum, while it was now only 15,000l., the decrease in value having been no less than 159,000l. Mr. Gordon said that, for himself, he was a ruined man; for though a few years ago his estates had yielded him 10,000l. a year, he did not at that time derive from them as many pence. The distress of the colonies had been admitted by Sir C. Grey, Lord Harris, and others conversant with their condition; but the statements of these Gentlemen had been altogether disregarded by the Government. Indeed, the conduct of the Government on this subject reminded him of the Hudibrastic distich— A men convinced against his will, Is of the same opinion still; for they seemed determined to pursue their own course, regardless of the advice of those to whom the administration of the colonies had been committed. It appeared to him that the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office acted as if he was a dictator empowered to govern the colonies according to his own will, and paying no attention either to the evidence given he-fore the Committee on Sugar and Coffee Planting, or to the representations of the colonial governors. He (Mr. Robinson) had had experience, during many years, of the conduct of the Colonial Office; and he would not impute to Earl Grey or to the present Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) that which he believed was imputable to the constitution of the office. He (Mr. Robinson) considered that the Colonial Office was the worst-administered portion of the Government departments. He attributed this circumstance in a great measure to the diversity of interests in the colonies, and to the impossibility that one individual could effectually superintend the numerous colonial possessions of this country; and he (Mr. Robinson) saw no reason why a board similar to the Board of Admiralty or the Board of Control should not be established, to whom should be committed the administration of the colonies. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that if one halfpenny or a penny a pound was saved in the price of sugar, the people of this country would be benefited by the amount of that reduction; but those Gentlemen overlooked the fact that, although we might give a somewhat higher price for the sugar of our colonies than we should have to pay if the trade was thrown open, our West India colonies took the produce and manufactures of this country in return for their sugar; and this interchange was mutually advantageous to the colonies and to the mother country. He (Mr. Robinson) had understood the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) to state the other night that he (Sir J. Graham) supported the Government proposition because he considered that if the House adopted the recommendations of the Committee, or continued the policy of protection, it would be a retrograde movement as regarded free trade. His (Mr. Robinson's) opinion was, that we could not carry out what was called the principle of free trade; but what was in truth more properly described as the principle of free imports (for there could be no free trade unless the relaxation on our part were reciprocated by other countries), without producing what the right hon. Gentleman also alluded to, namely, cheap prices, and, as he (Mr. Robinson) believed, cheap labour. The Manchester party argued as if cheapness of prices was the grand consideration; but it was much more important to the labourer to have full employment and remunerative wages, and he could not have either if this country was to be reduced to the same cheapness as the cheapest Continental countries. How was the capitalist, then, to derive a fair return for his capital? No, we must return to the system under which the various interests in the empire mutually supported one another, and the labourer found employment. The manufacturer now had succeeded in taking away protection from the landed interest, and we were become jealous of one another. In this country it was necessary to raise a very large revenue; and what was called the principle of free trade could not he applied to such a country without producing the most serious evils. He (Mr. Robinson) did not advocate protection as defensible in itself to justify protection to any interest, it must be shown that such a system was beneficial to the whole. The present was an imperial rather than a colonial question. He was not prepared to abandon the colonies, and still less to drive them into opposition to the mother country. But the ruling feeling in the minds of the colonists now was that they had been ill-used by Parliament, and they were beginning to question whether in certain circumstances they would owe allegiance to the mother country. There were symptoms of resistance even now; and how would Government deal with them if they withheld the supplies? Already the Legislature of British Guiana had proposed to vote the supplies for three months only, in order that they might see what Parliament determined to do. Were we prepared to take upon ourselves the payment of the civil expenses of the colonies, as well as the military? It had been argued that there was no bargain with the colonies in 1834; but surely there was morally though not legally speaking, a contract to give them a preference in the home market, and to exclude slave-grown sugar. It was recognised in effect by decisions of the House in 1841, 1844, 1845, and even 1846. It was argued that in consequence of the existence of treaties we could not exclude slave-grown sugar in particular; but if we were under treaties (it was not stated for how long) which would bind us to admit the produce of some States that would furnish but a limited supply, that was no reason for throwing the sugar trade into the hands of Cuba and Brazil. Surely the right hon. Gentleman opposite must have rather lax notions of morality to ply that argument. The House was now called upon to affirm either the proposition of the Government, or that of the hon. Member for Droitwhich, which was based on the recommendation of the Committee. The measure of the Government, he contended, would not afford adequate relief to the West Indies, while he believed that the one brought forward by the hon. Gentleman would give relief, and at the same time restore confidence to all interested in the trade of those colonies. For these reasons he should give his support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Droitwich.


had heard nothing from Gentlemen opposite connected with the Government that could induce him to give his vote in favour of their measure. He had generally been in the habit, when the Government brought forward a question of difficult solution, of waiting till the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth gave his opinion; and he had done so in this instance; but he must say that in nothing that fell from that right hon. Gentleman had he found more reason for supporting the measure than in what had fallen from the authors of it. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that if they voted for the former Amendment of the hon. Member for Droitwich, they would, by so doing, declare that the measure of the Government was very inadequate and inept. Now, it was just because he thought that was the proper character of the measure that he voted in the minority. The right hon. Gentleman said, he could not agree to give protectiion to the West India interest; but what had they in the measure now brought before the House by the Government, if they had not increased protection for that interest? They proposed to increase the protection by departing from the Act of 1846; and therefore they had incurred the censure which the right hon. Gentleman cast upon any measure that involved protection to the West Indies. In 1846, he (Mr. Oswald) voted for the measure which the Government then brought forward; but he must confess that he did so upon inadequate information. He did so before they had obtained that mass of information which the noble Lord the Member for Lynn had been the means of giving them—information for which they owed him a large debt of gratitude, because he thought he had shown in a new light a much vexed question. They had now under their consideration the present measure of the Government; and, as he had already said, that measure was in no degree supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth with any good arguments. But what had they seen in that House? The hon. Gentleman in the chair (Mr. Bernal), in a speech in which nothing was "lame and impotent" but its conclusion, had certainly proved to every one who had listened to him that the measure of the Government was in the highest degree inexpedient. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry, too, had uttered a warning voice, such as he was accustomed to utter; but they had not attended to it. And when he turned to the press of the metropolis, and of the country, he found one universal chorus of dissent from this measure. Were they in that House to sing another song? If they were, then he thought the time was come for taking into their serious consideration the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose. The Committee of the noble Lord had recommended a differential duty of 10s. for six years in favour of the West India planters. That recommendation had been made by a Committee who had paid great attention to the subject, and it was proposed to them by a freetrader. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) had sketched a plan which he thought would have been better than that of the Government; but the right hon. Gentleman did not possess that official information which hon. Gentlemen opposite did to enable him to bring it in such a shape before the House as that they could fairly judge of it. He would, therefore, take the liberty of dismissing that plan from his consideration; and, seeing nothing before him but the plan of the Government and that of the hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), he must say he was prepared to support the latter. He would do so, perfectly ready to meet any taunt of inconsistency that might be thrown out against him. He was afraid there had been too much inconsistency in that House for many years to make such a taunt have much force. When he looked to the state of the West Indies as laid before the Committee, he could see the full amount of the injustice they had committed. He would not enter upon that evidence, but would read a very few lines from a paper called the Economist. That paper told them that after emancipation— the Legislature of this country, in compliance with the demands of public opinion, imposed serious restrictions not alone upon the supply of free labour, but also upon the conditions on which it could be engaged, which tended in a very great degree to disturb the labour market, unduly to enhance wages, to promote habits of indolence and irregularity on the part of the working population, and entirely to destroy that wholesome and valuable check which competition alone can place upon the habits and demands of a free labouring people. The same paper told them that the produce of sugar in the West Indian colonies decreased in the seven years that elapsed from 1834 to 1841; and it went on to say— This was the obvious consequence of undue restrictions on the supply of labour, aggravated by the increased competition on the part of the planter, stimulated as he was by high prices and protection. It appeared to him that the inadequate supply of labour, as was here stated, originating in the abolition of the apprenticesh was the great injustice that this country had imposed upon the colonies. He believed that that House was responsible for the injustice, and must pay the price. The had heard much of consumers, and he knew that every old lady in Ayrshire liked a good deal of sugar in her tea and her whisky toddy, but not one old lady would wish to rob the grocer to obtain it. If, however, they had robbed the West Indians, and if it was necessary, in order to repair that injustice, to pay a penny a pound more for sugar, he was certain that all his old lady friends would say they would rather take a little less than formerly, and thus rob no one. It was easy to come to that House and talk of sympathy—to admit and lament the distress which had fallen upon the West Indies—but sympathy was of no use whatever, unless it was attended with a sacrifice, to show that it did not come merely from the lips, but from the heart. He did not know what the opinion in Manchester might be on this matter; but he could answer for every man, woman, and child in the county that he represented, that they would all be ready to make a sacrifice. People read perhaps in a newspaper of the fall of some mighty commercial house, and their sympathies were excited; but they know not all the sorrow which that fall occasioned— a sorrow which no language could express, and which those only who had felt it could comprehend. He knew one house, of most respectable character, the founders of which were men sprung from the people, of whom Gentlemen on the other side of the House were always talking. These men left what was supposed to be an ample fortune; but at the hour he was speaking there were twelve families descended from and connected with them, not knowing where to get their bread, or where to lay their head; and this, as was told in the circular which related their tale, was the result of the legislation of that House in 1846. He believed them, for they were Scotch merchants, who never said a thing that was not. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) had said he was unable to discover that the change of 1846 had caused any palpable increase in the slave trade. Good God! where had that right hon. Gentleman been? 60,000 slaves in 1846, and 63,000 in 1847, against 32,000 in the two quinquennial periods that preceded those years! Was that not an increase in the slave trade? Was the evidence of Captain Birch, of Captain Portesfield, and other men who had a full knowledge of the facts, to go for nothing? Had not Captain Birch told them that there had been a resurrection of the slave trade with Cuba, which was extinct eighteen months ago? and had not the right hon. Gentleman read what our own Commissioners had said on this subject? Had he not read the letters of "Jacob Omnium?" If not, he would recommend him to read them, written as they were in pure sterling English. The hon. Member for Manchester attempted to show that there was no increase of the slave trade in consequence of the Act of 1846. That hon. Gentleman was a cotton spinner. He knew something of cotton spinners, for he was the son of a cotton spinner; and they knew very well the ugly fact that in 1846 the slave trade did increase. The evidence of the naval officers examined before the Committee established that fact; and with all the respect he had for the affirmation of the body to which the hon. Member belonged, he would take the word of British naval officers against even that affirmation, and against that of his right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon. They had heard, indeed, from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth some hopes held out to them of brighter days, when slavery would vanish from the earth. He told us that a time was coming when the slave in Cuba and the shave in Brazil would no longer be a slave. He told us that a time was coming when the slave would spring a freeman from his fetters. Hut the unfortunate thing is that the same glorious vision presented itself to the view of Curran when he uttered those eloquent words with which the right hon. Gentleman closed his speech. Curran sleeps in his grave, but the slave is in his fetters still—still borne over the Atlantic from his home to a sterner fate than when Curran lived.


As it has been my duty, on more than one occasion to address the House on this subject, I trust the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will not think me guilty of any discourtesy if I abstain from following him into the discussion of those topics which have been raised in former debates, and to which on former occasions I have adverted, and if I confine myself to the consideration of the views which have been stated by the hon. Gentleman who moved this Resolution as an amendment on the proposition of the Government. I shall also follow the example of the hon. Gentleman in confining myself to the question as it has now been brought forward; because I entirely agree with what has been said as to the infinite value of time in this matter. The proposition of the hon. Member for Droitwich is to reduce the duty on colonial sugar from 14s. to 10s. per cwt., instead of reducing it from 14s. to 13s., 11 order to preserve a differential duty of 10s. on foreign sugar in favour of colonial sugar. The hon. Gentleman pro-poses to retain it for a period of three years; though be considers the continuance of that differential duty for an indefinite period essentially necessary to restore and maintain the prosperity of the West indies. He also anticipated to a certain extent the objections which may be made to the proposition he has submitted to the House. Those objections are that the increase of protection which it gives to the producer is opposed to the interest of the consumer, and that it is calculated to operate against the revenue of the country. On both grounds I object to the hon. Gestleman's proposition. He thought that the argument was with him when he reminded us that we were charged with the interests of the empire at large, and that therefore we ought not to neglect those of the West Indies. I feel that most strongly. But there are other interests besides those on which he makes his appeal; and if the interests of the producers in the West Indies ought on the one hand to be consulted, I must say also that the interests of the people of this country, who are the great body of the consumers, arc, on the other, not to be left out of consideration; that they are a body who are entitled to our careful consideration. But I am not prepared to maintain permanently a system of protection, thereby enhancing the price of the articles they consume, for the exclusive benefit of the West Indies. The hon. Member who has just sat down talks as if no sacrifice would be made by this country if the price of sugar were enhanced by a protective duty of 10s. On former occasions I have stated to what amount that protection goes. If any hon. Gentleman will refer to the papers now on the table, he will find a statement showing the price of colonial and foreign sugar at the same time, under different duties. [Mr. OSWALD: I did not say a word about that.] The hon. Gentleman talked of money being sacrificed as well as consistency. The terms which he used were very vague, but be seemed to think some sacrifice would be made he spoke of old ladies in Ayrshire, who like sugar with their tea or their whisky toddy. I venture to express a doubt whether the population of this country would be pre-pared to pay the enhanced price of sugar which the long continuance of protection would produce. He seemed to think no additional price was paid under the proposition of the right bon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. If he will take the trouble to calculate the amount of sugar which was imported, and the price which was paid for it in the first three years, he will find that in the first of those years the price paid by the consumers of this country beyond what they would have paid had foreign sugar been admitted at the same rate of duty as colonial, was 3,800,000l in the second year, 3,600,000l; and in the third year, 3,400,000l I must say that in addition to the grant of 1834 the payment of those sums shows no want of sympathy with the West Indies. I do not dwell on the ultimate ability which the West Indian producer may show to compete with the foreign producer. The hon. Member for Guildford, who advocates the case of the West Indians, said, he was satisfied the colonial producer would compete with the foreign producer in the end. I am not pre- pared to maintain the amount of duty insisted upon by the hon. Member for Droitwich as requisite to enable the colonial producer to enter into that competition. The House of Commons has determined that the system of protection shall cease and determine. I have been accused of misquoting what fell from the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Barkly). I did not misquote him. I understood him to state that, as he had been for free trade in corn, he was for free trade in sugar. I am not prepared to go back. I would not, under any circumstances, ask the restoration of the protection which has been removed from corn and from sugar; but I am not prepared to remove at once all protection from the West Indian producer. My right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry and the hon. Member opposite have commented in rather severe terms on Members of the Government for adverting to the extravagant system of management in the West Indies. The wasteful management of estates appeared from the evidence of the West Indians themselves. But, so far from being considered a charge against them, the very circumstance that there has been an unnecessary expenditure on estates opens a source of hope to the West Indies, because if there is to be a reduction of the cost of producing sugar, in order to enable them to compete with slave-growing countries, they have the satisfaction of knowing that they have the prospect of attaining that object by reducing their present rate of expenditure. Hon. Gentlemen, indeed, who have spoken on former occasions, looked forward to such a reduction of expenditure. The hon. Member for Guildford said he was perfectly convinced that before long free-labour sugar would be the cheapest grown sugar in the world; he looked to that, and to that alone, for putting down slavery; and if it is not true that there has been waste and extravagance in the management of West Indian estates hitherto—waste and extravagance which may now be retrenched—the best ground of hope the West Indians can have, is cut away from under their feet. A main objection to the proposition of the hon. Member for Droitwich is on the score of revenue. It is said we have given too flourishing an account of the revenue for this year. I can only say, I did not consider it a flourishing account at all; but I was requested by a right hon. Gentleman opposite to show what was the present prospect as to the revenue, and to give some ear nest to the House that the Government has not been neglectful of what is the primary duty of a Government—equalising the income and expenditure; and, so far as we could show, and so far as we could state, what was the prospect of such equalisation, I was bound, in answer to such an appeal, to show that the state of things was not so bad as we had reason to expect at an earlier period of the year. My right hon. Friend also thought that I had cast a slur on the Committee to which he belonged, and felt as if we were relieved from the responsibility of proposing reductions. I never felt for a moment that any responsibility had been taken off the Government, or that we had been relieved from our duty of doing what we could in the matter; and, so far from having undervalued the labours of that Committee, which I estimate as highly as any one can, I said nothing in derogation of the services they have rendered in the performance of their duty. But, after all, the Miscellaneous Estimates have been laid on the table of the House. I stated nothing but what every Member who chose to examine them was as well aware of as myself. So far as that Committee is concerned, I am satisfied that nothing I said can be construed into a reproach or want of courtesy to my right hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Droitwich seems to think I have misrepresented the probable loss of revenue under his proposition. I stated distinctly, that the first loss on the proposal he has made was 960,0000l., and that the first loss on the proposal of the Government was 240,000l. It is utterly impossible to dispute that fact. The first is a reduction of 4l. per ton; the second of 1l. per ton; consequently, the risk attending the proposal of the hon. Gentleman is, by 720,000l, greater than the risk which attends that of the Government. That is indisputable. I said, it was much more easy to make up a loss of 240,000l. than of 960,000l. I don't think it is disputable that the probabilities are much less in favour of making up so large a loss as that which the hon. Gentleman's proposal would entail. The only mode in which the loss can be made up is by increased consumption. The amount which will be received from the probably increased consumption depends, first, on the amount consumed, and, secondly, on the proportion in which that consumption consists of foreign and of colonial sugar. First, as to the amount. The hon. Member for Droitwich followed the estimate given in the resolutions proposed by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, in the Committee over which he presided. That estimate stated the probable consumption for the next year at 325,000 tons. That I think an excessive estimate. I should be happy to farm the sugar duties at the rate which the hon. Gentleman puts the consumption. But I have no hope that it will reach that amount. The calculation implies an increased consumption of 35,000 tons in the course of a year. If the hon. Gentleman looks to former years, he will see there is only one year in which anything like that increase of consumption took place. In 1845 there was an increase of 38,000 tons. But that was a year in which those duties were largely reduced, and the imports of free-labour sugar were increased—it was a year of very considerable prosperity. Everything tended to produce an increased consumption of sugar, and that to so extraordinary a degree, that nobody in his senses would think of basing his calculations for the present period on the experience of that single year. But in any other year the increase has not exceeded 23,000 tons, and the average increase does nut exceed 20,000 tons, which is the highest amount I venture to hope will be the increase on the consumption for next year. Remember that the proposal which the Government makes, arrests, so far as legislation can affect prices, any fall in sugar from the preceding year. The price for next year will depend on the price of the cheapest sugar of any given quality, together with the amount of the foreign duty. Looking at the necessity for obtaining a large supply of sugar, and also at the necessity for maintaining the cultivation of sugar in the West Indies, I think that we are justified ill continuing a burden upon the consumer for a time; but I admit, that the probable effect of our measure is to arrest the fall of sugar. The increase in the consumption for next year may amount to from 15,000 to 20,000 tons; but it appears to me that there are no grounds whatever for thinking that the increase will be equal to that which took place in 1845. I think, too, that the hon. Gentleman is equally mistaken in the proportions which foreign and colonial sugar bear to each other. The report of the Committee states, that the importation of colonial sugar is likely to be 200,000 tons; and the report goes on to say, that the stock of colonial sugar in hand is from 60,000 tons to 65,000 tons, which would give an amount of colonial sugar which might enter into consumption in the course of the next year of 265,000 tons. Now, let it be remembered that the owners of colonial sugar will have every inducement to enter for consumption as much as possible this year; and therefore, when we see that there are 265,000 tons of colonial sugar which may be entered for home consumption, I do not know why the hon. Gentleman should suppose that only 225,000 tons of colonial sugar will be entered. I have received an estimate of the sugar which will probably come in very different from that on which the hon. Gentleman relies, and that estimate places the entry at from 230,000 tons to 260,000 tons. Add that to the stock in hand, and it will give upwards of 300,000 tons of colonial sugar, which we might possibly have entered in the course of the next year. It is impossible for me to say whether the estimate to which I have referred is accurate or not; but it was sent to me some time ago by a high authority in the City, without reference to this debate, and it has been in my possession six weeks or more. But, even taking the statement of the hon. Gentleman to be the more correct calculation, I cannot see why 250,000 tons of colonial sugar should not be entered next year, or at least as large an amount as that entered in the year preceding—namely, 240,000 tons. I have been told that I made a sanguine calculation when I reckoned on an increase of from 15,000 to 20,000 tons in the course of the year, the whole of which would be foreign sugar, because the entries of foreign sugar had of late been falling off. I stated before that my calculation was, that from 305,000 to 310,000 tons might be entered for home consumption in the course of the ensuing year, and I do not think it will exceed 310,000 tons. Unless the consumption is large, and the amount of foreign sugar is increased, there is no probability of an accession of revenue. I may gain about 40,000l., but I shall be quite satisfied if the revenue next year is no lower than the year preceding. I do not feel disposed to take a desponding view of the subject, but I shall be quite satisfied if I do not lose by the reduction of the duty. I confess that I have made that reduction with unwilling-ness; but the emergency certainly great, and I am ready to go as far as I can with safety to the revenue in order to meet that emergency The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford thinks that I have gone too far; but taking into consideration all the circumstances of the West Indies, I think I may run the risk of reducing colonial sugar 1s. per cwt. I think, upon the whole, I have taken a reasonable and fair estimate of the probable consumption and proportion of sugar; and I hope I am justified in calculating that the reduction of duty will not entail any loss on the revenue, or at least any serious loss. I must, therefore, resist the proposal of the hon. Gentleman


said, that as a Member of the Committee which inquired into the alleged distress in the sugar and coffee-growing colonies, he was desirous of making a few observations, and they should be but few, on the question now before the Committee. His hon. Colleague (Mr. Bright) had submitted a Motion on Friday night on which he should have wished to address the Heuse if an opportunity had been afforded him; but he would not now, as that was not the question immediately before hon. Members, draw any comparison between the measure of Her Majesty's Government as a whole, and the law of 1846 as it stood on the Statute-book. He would simply express his regret that Her Majesty's Government had thought fit to depart from the law of 1846. He had been in hopes that the law of 1846 was a final settlement of the sugar question, and that the House would never be called on again to discuss the sugar duties with reference to any other question than the revenue of the State. He contended, that when the House of Commons went into a Committee of Ways and Means, they had nothing to do with sugar-growing countries, or the profits of particular interests, and that the only thing they had to consider was, in what manner they should levy a duty which was adequate to the necessities of the public revenue. And yet what had this debate been about? For one word that had been spoken about the revenue of the State, there had been ten uttered about the necessity of providing a revenue for individuals. It was a monstrous thing that they never could discuss the question of raising a tax upon the people, without encountering some proposition for transferring a portion of that tax into the pockets of some section or other of the community. He was prepared, notwithstanding, to meet the case on the grounds alleged by hon. Gentlemen opposite, in reference to the distress of the colonial in- terests; and he contended, that if they were to discuss that distress, and the proposition for relieving that distress at the public expense, they ought to scrutinise the claims made with great accuracy and minuteness. It must be recollected, that hon. Members were not sitting there with a mine at their feet, into which they could dip their hands for gold, without reference to the interests of the other people of this country. When they relieved parties from the public Exchequer, they merely transferred a portion of the taxes into their pockets, which taxes were paid by the rest of their fellow-countrymen. They took from some to give to others, and therefore they were bound, as trustees of the public funds, to watch these claims on the ground of distress, or of alleged justice, with great vigilance. Let the House then consider what this distress was, and let him remind hon. Gentlemen of the time at which this appeal on the part of the West Indies had been made. This distressed interest was not the only distressed interest in the country. There had been distress—there had been failures—there had been bankruptcies elsewhere. He could tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that he believed the cotton trade of Manchester had, in 1847, lost an amount equal to that. [Cheers.] He understood that cheer, but he was merely stating a fact. It was his belief that many great losses had been sustained by that interest; and the House was not to suppose that they had not been sufferers because they did not come there to ask in formâ pauperis for a portion of the tribute which had been levied on their fellow-subjects. When he was interrupted by the cheer, he was about to state, that he believed the losses in the cotton trade in 1847 reached as great a value as all the exported produce of the British West Indies. He believed more. He believed that by keeping their hands employed at a loss, they had, out of their own capital, maintained the population and tranquillity of these districts. He only reminded hon. Gentlemen of these facts, because it was at the expense of those concerned in the foreign trade of the country—at the expense mainly of those parties who themselves had great difficulties to contend with—that it was proposed to-night to give relief to the West India interest. It was by proscribing, to some extent, the foreign trade of the country—by lessening the commercial returns—by limiting the supply of foreign sugar, which was exchanged for British manufactures—that it was now proposed to confer a benefit on the West India colonies. But he begged to caution hon. Members not to place too much confidence in the allegation of individuals before the Committee as to the cost of production in the British West Indies as compared with slave dealing countries, for if there was one species of evidence he distrusted more than another—if there was one kind of testimony brought before Committees of that House which was less worthy of confidence than another—it was evidence as to cost of production and remunerating prices. Could anything be more obvious than that it was perfectly easy to get Gentlemen to go into a Committee-room who were interested in the growing or sale of a particular article, and tell them that they could not produce or sell it under a very extraordinary remunerating price? Why whom did they examine? Only interested parties. They brought witnesses into the Committee-room, and said, "Now, tell us the least you can produce your commodity at, and what is the least you can afford to sell it at, because we are engaged in investigating those points, and if you tell us that the price, as compared with the cost of production, is insufficient, we will make it sufficient." They might depend upon it that witnesses, with ideas like these in their heads, would he sure to state a good remunerating price to the Committee, in order to get from them as high protection as possible. Hon. Members would recollect what was said about corn. At one period, farmers and country gentlemen were ready to come before Committees of that House, and tell them that they could not grow corn under 120s. a quarter—then it was 90s. a quarter—then 60s. But hon. Members now knew what exaggerations these were—they knew how little credit they deserved, from the facts which had since come out. But persons came from the colonies and told Gentlemen who had never seen a sugar cane the most extraordinary stories about the cost of cultivation. Every conceivable sum had been named that could enter the mind of man as the cost of producing a hundred-weight of sugar. Let any Gentleman state what sum he wished sugar to be produced at, and he would name it to them out of the report of the evidence. The cost of producing sugar in the British West Indies had been stated at 4s. per cwt.—it had been stated at 8s. per cwt.—it had been stated at 10s. per cwt.—it had been stated at 1l. per cwt.—and one man had said that the cost of producing sugar in one year was 16l. sterling per cwt.! If any Gentleman would turn to the evidence, he would find that he (Mr. Gibson) was not in the least overstating the case. He was persuaded that if the statement contained in that evidence, as to the cost of production, were submitted to twelve impartial men, who had no political or personal interest to serve, who were not afraid of divisions in Parliament, but who were ready to administer justice fairly on their oaths, they would find it impossible to state what was the actual cost of production. But what was the evidence of Lord Harris, a disinterested party, on this point? Lord Harris said that sugar might be produced in the British West Indies, by good management, at 10s. 5d. per cwt. If this was correct, then the proposal of the hen. Gentleman to give the West Indies a protective duty of 10s. was equivalent to giving them their sugar for nothing. Mr. Marryat, an interested party, but a man of great respectability, said that the cost of production was 20s. per cwt., or 20l. per ton; but he said that out of these 20l. 10l. were spent in labour. According to this estimate, the proposal of the hon. Baronet was equivalent to giving the West Indians the labour bestowed on sugar for nothing. So that, in order to enable the West Indians to compete with slaveowners, we were asked to give them, if Lord Harris's estimate was correct, their sugar the same as if they had stolen it; or the cost of labour for nothing, if Mr. Marryat's estimate was correct. He thought that a more monstrous proposition had never been submitted to Parliament. It did seem to him that the proposition to give these parties an amount of protection that would pay for all the labourers on their estates at the expense of the taxpayers of this country—to be paid, in fact, out of the hard-won earnings of our artisans, our factory labourers, our agricultural labourers—was a proposition founded on injustice. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford said that those practices had a claim in money founded in justice, which he recognised. But there was one remarkable shortcoming in the right hon. Gentleman's speech—he admitted the claim, but he scrupled about paying it. He said that in the present state of the finances he could not hold out any encouraging expectations that that money claim would be satisfied. Now, he completely differed from the right hon. Gentleman in the view he had taken. He (Mr. Gibson) denied the claim; but if he admitted it he would say that the people of this country must pay it. But he disputed the claim. What was it? Some Gentlemen made very light of it; but these 20,000,000l at 4 per cent entailed a permanent burden upon the people of this country of no less a sum than 800,000l. per annum. When Gentlemen talked of the cost of production they never made any deduction for the money given them then in order to make up for the supposed disadvantage between their position as slaveowners and their present position. Now, he would take the case of the British West Indies, excluding the Mauritius, which also received a part of the 20,000,000l. Well, the British West Indies received 16,461,000l., which, at 4 per cent, made a sum of 668,452l. per annum. He found that the British West Indies for the last nine years—from 1839 to 1847—had exported 2,541,274 cwts. of sugar yearly. Now, the interest on 668,452l. amounted to 5s. 3d. on every cwt. of sugar which the British West Indies had exported in that period. So that he looked upon this as a compensation or bounty of 5s. 3d. per cwt. on the sugar annually produced and exported from the West Indies. This was the half of the whole cost of labour, according to Mr. Marryat, or the half of the whole cost of the sugar, according to Lord Harris. If, then, they deducted 5s. 3d. per cwt., they would find that even the large estimates of the cost of production were materially reduced; and he contended that, after making that deduction, the present price of sugar, 25s. per cwt., was perfectly adequate to replace the cost of production, and to pay a fair profit and interest on capital besides. Taking Lord Harris's estimate of the cost of production on good-managed estates at 10s., and adding 6s. or 7s. for freight and other charges, this would leave 7s. after all for profit and interest on capital, which he thought a very fair remuneration. He would next take the case of Jamaica. On an average of nine years, from 1839 to 1847 inclusive, there had been exported from Jamaica 751,539 cwts. of sugar per annum. Jamaica received of the 20,000,000l. compensation, 6,109,000l., being an annual charge on this country of 246,000l. This was equivalent to a bounty of 7s. 6d. per cwt. on the sugars it produced. If they deducted the 7s. 6d. per cwt. from the cost of production in Jamaica, which they were entitled to do, then it was clear that the cost of production even upon the most highly-coloured statement of the Gentlemen examined before the Committee, would be found far beneath what had been put forth by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and that such cost was amply replaced by the present price of sugar in the British market, besides paying a very fair profit upon the capital. He could not come to any other conclusion. How was the margin between the cost of production and the price of sugar got rid of? Recollect, they had nothing to do with interest upon mortgages, or with any fixed charges by way of jointures or marriage settlements; the only point they had to do with was simply this—did the market price of 25s. per cwt. pay the cost of production, the freight, and interest upon the capital? He represented that if they deducted 6s. bounty on West India sugar generally, and 7s. bounty on Jamaica sugar in particular, they would find that the cost of production was so reduced as that in the result a profit on the capital was amply realised. He would call the attention of the Committee to what the West Indians stated to be the cost of production in 1830. There was a Parliamentary statement produced by the Government as to remunerating prices, and as to the cost of production, and he found that, on an average of years, taken from a large number of estates, it was stated that the average cost of production of one hundred-weight of sugar in the British West Indies, without any charge on account of interest on capital, was 15s. 6d. Now, this was during a period of slavery. Were there any witnesses before the late Committee who had given evidence of that being the charge at the present time? He must leave it to hon. Gentlemen opposite to reconcile this extraordinary discrepancy. But, with regard to this money compensation, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the university of Oxford had spoken, he must ask that right hon. Gentleman how he proposed to deal with it in the case of those parties who had recently purchased their estates? When a man got to the West Indies he bought an estate at a very small price; somebody then told him that once upon a time the property had returned a very large income, some 10,000l. or 20,000l.; he, however, found that he could not realize more, perhaps, than 1,000l. "Oh! then," said he, "I must go to Parliament, and endeavour to induce them to raise the profit of my estate to what it was at a former period." He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought such persons were entitled to compensation? If he recollected rightly, there was a case of a ruined man mentioned in the Committee; but when it came to be investigated, it was found that he bought the estate at a nominal value—he had got possession of it, but he had not paid for it. It would, therefore, be extremely difficult, with regard to this money-compensation, to distribute the funds justly. He thought it perfectly impossible either to make compensation in money or give protection with any approximation to justice. Now they were told, upon a broad principle, that free labour could not compete with slave labour, therefore they must give compensation to the West India proprietors. He admitted that that was a plausible statement. He admitted that they were caught at first with the idea that there was little cause to expect that free labour should compete with slave labour; but had they had no instance whore free labour had completely displaced slave labour? What did they say to indigo? In former times indigo was entirely supplied by slave labour; but the free labour of British India now suppleid England and the whole of Europe with indigo. The Anti-Slavery Convention drew attention to that particular fact, and that the superior cheapness of free labour had been strikingly evinced in the cultivation of indigo. [The right right hon. Gentleman quoted a resolution passed by the Anti-Slavery Convention, in which these facts were embodied.] If, then, hon. Gentlemen on the other side made a broad statement, that free labour could not compete with slave labour, he would answer them with another broad statement, that free labour had competed with slave labour, and that it had displaced slave labour. With respect to the allegation that the slave trade had been increased by the Bill of 1846, no one yet had answered the arguments of his hon. Colleague (Mr. Bright) on that point. Would any one contend that the increase of the slave trade, in 1846, was produced by an Act of Parliament which passed in August, 1846? That increased trade must have been proceeded with in 1845; how, therefore, could it be attributed to the Act of 1846? But the slave trade in 1847 was less than in 1846; by what logic, there- fore, could it be said that the Act of 1846 had increased the slave trade? It was of no use hon. Gentlemen getting up and making broad general assertions that the slave trade had increased. They must answer the argument of his hon. Colleague, and show that he was in error, and not attempt to mislead the British public, and raise an erroneous cry with a view to operate upon the humane feelings of their constituents. He was quite aware how very unpopular it was in that House for any Gentleman to advocate what did not appear to be a very popular interest, namely, the interest of the foreign trade of this country. He knew that the cotton trade was not the most popular interest that could solicit the favour of that House. It never had asked and never had received any favour from the Legislature. It had never come to that House, or been entertained by it as a popular measure. If it ever had had protection, it was only like the protection which formerly existed at Newcastle against foreign coals—it was totally inoperative. The cotton trade had gained its present ascendancy by the energy, enterprise, skill, and science of those who had pursued it. But the foreign trade and manufactures of this country were not to be proscribed in order to benefit colonial agriculture. He considered the foreign trade as good, as legitimate, and as valuable to this country as colonial agriculture. He would not consent to cripple the one in order to benefit the other. And when they talked of a system of emigration to benefit the colonies, how long were they to wait in order that the population of those colonies should become so dense that the people would consent to work for wages and sacrifice their independence? They had too many islands to let that day be within a very near period. If they were to attempt the plan with Jamaica, and endeavour to make it as dense, in proportion to its area, as Barbadoes, how many people, he would ask, would they have to send there? Something like five millions. It was not possible to increase the population of the earth in particular spots in that extraordinary manner by any process of emigration. They must he content to wait for the natural growth of the population. If they had attempted to form a larger colonial empire than they could establish by the capital and skill which they had at their disposal, it was their own fault. He would not, because there had been a too avaricious policy to extend the mere surface of our colonial possessions—he would not, on that account, be a party to any legislation which should restrict or interfere with the freedom of exchange with foreign countries, which he considered one of the most valuable civil rights which Englishmen could possess. He would contend that an Englishman had the right to freedom of exchange, and the only ground upon which it should be interfered with was the state of the public revenue. There was no other reasonable ground upon which he could consent to cripple the free trade of this country. He was as anxious to put down slavery and the slave trade as any man in that House; but as public opinion had put it down in the dominions of England, so would public opinion put it down in foreign nations. If, however, they pursued a course of policy towards those nations such as the noble Lord the Member for Lynn had recommended, with a view to discourage the slave trade, the only result would be that they would identify slavery and the slave trade in those nations with feelings of national pride and national independence, and would raise a feeling against the abolition of the trade which they were so anxious to suppress. It would never be put an end to by such a course of legislation. Hostile tariffs did not give freedom to the slave in the British dominions, and it would not in the dominions of any other Power. They must confine their attention to their own country; and he called upon them to give up the idea of making their trade depend upon the municipal laws of foreign nations, and the abolition of slavery in other lands. Let them maintain commercial freedom in their own country. The two things were distinct, and he believed would be the best means for working out the abolition of slavery in the different nations of the world.


said, that having taken part in a former discussion on this subject, and having then expressed a strong opinion, which had been strengthened by what had occurred since, that a great alteration in the Bill of 1846 was necessary, he was anxious to state the view he took of the measure which the Government had submitted to the House. He would much rather not enter into any discussion of the question of free-trade measures, not that he would shrink from expressing his opinion upon that subject; not because he should hesitate in saying that everything that had occurred and was occurring had confirmed him in the opinion of the danger of a great, sudden, and sweeping change in our commercial legislation; not because he was the less convinced that a rash application of the soundest principles might be fraught with danger, but because he thought that this question stood upon special grounds—that, looking to past legislation, and the past system of our sugar-growing colonies, and the competition which they were called upon to bear, no one could hesitate to say that it was a distinct and special case, and ought to be treated as such. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester said that when once the question was settled, they were only to look to the revenue; let the tax be fixed, and whatever might be the evils that resulted from the system, they were bound not to change it in any way or in any degree. He (Mr. Baring) thought that they were met in that House not only to tax but to redress grievances. He thought that if a case of positive injury could be proved, it was the first duty of that House to remedy that injury; and when the right hon. Gentleman said if our own colonies were suffering, every other class of the community was suffering also—that the manufacturing interest in Lancashire was suffering—he (Mr. Baring) would assure the right hon. Gentleman that he most sincerely deplored it, but if he could show that the Legislature of this country had so interfered with the labour of the manufacturer—if he could show that it had abstracted the labour without supplying its place—then he would say that the manufacturer had a strong ground for redress from that House. They heard not many years ago of the injury that would be inflicted on the manufacturing interest by reducing the limits of labour by two hours. What should they say then if in the colonies six hours of free labour were put against sixteen hours of slavelabour? What would the manufacturers of Lancashire say if they were obliged with six hours' labour to compete with sixteen hours' labour? And when the right hon. Gentleman, referring to the Committee, said that it was not to be trusted, that the witnesses were packed, that they put their own questions to them, and that no one could believe the report—he would leave it to the Members of that Committee and to the right hon. Gentleman himself who regularly attended the Committee, and had an opportunity of cross-examining and putting questions to the witnesses, to say whether the right hon. Gentleman did not vote in favour of the resolution of the hon. Member for Westbury, in which he said that the colonies were suffering under most grievous distress, and that immediate relief ought to be provided? [Mr. GIBSON: The right hon. Gentleman was mistaken; for that resolution was never submitted to a division.] But the right hon. Gentleman quoted Lord Harris's statement that 10s. was sufficient for the growth of sugar; but it was from the very same statement that his hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich had quoted 18s. 6d. or 19s. as being the average of growing it; whilst Lord Harris said that in the neighbouring colonies sugar might be grown for 4s.; and when the right hon. Gentleman wished the Committee to believe that 10s. was a remunerative price for growing sugar, without any interest for capital, or any sinking fund to repay it, he (Mr. Baring) thought the right hon. Gentleman was likely to lead the Committee to a very wrong conclusion. But let him say one word with respect to the observation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton, that the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich was a party movement. He did not view it as such. His great wish was to separate this question from all party feeling. There would be great injury in so connecting them. But if the hon. Baronet had retained his original notice of proposing an amendment that the House should be bound to adopt the recommendation of the Committee, it would be most offensive to the Government, because it would be dictating to the Government that that step, and that alone, should be adopted to remedy the evils that existed. The course the hon. Baronet had taken, if not in conformity with the majority, was certainly in conformity with a great body of the House; but if it were said that the Motion of the hon. Baronet, if carried, would have been so offensive to the Government that they would have resigned, he could not believe that any Government of the present day could expect to carry through its measures without any defeat or change in the details; but, if it were so, it would be another proof to the colonies how impossible it was for them, amidst the party struggles of political views and principles in that House, to obtain a fair hearing of their grievances. He would not enter into any details and calculations. He agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was difficult to afford relief to the colonies and relief to the consumer, without affecting the revenue; but he thought with the hon. Baronet that this was a case where there must be some sacrifice of the revenue; and it was a serious consideration whether, upon an article of such great and general consumption as sugar raised by the suffering interests in the colonies, they could permanently raise so large a portion of the revenue. It was, he believed, a calculation of the Economist that in 1854 the consumption of sugar in this country would be 400,000 tons, which, at 10s., would produce 4,000,000l., which was less than the revenue derived from sugar last year. That calculation, therefore, did not seek to maintain it at its present rate; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated his diminution in comparison with last year. But there were two things he should consider: in the first place, the possibility of an increased consumption from last year; and, secondly, whether that would fall on the higher duty-paying sugar. He knew it was very hazardous to form an estimate of what the revenue would be, and he would not do it; but of this he was convinced, that if relief were to be afforded to the colonies, it could not be done without risk to the consumer or the revenue, and the hon. Baronet preferred its falling on the revenue. But the measure of the Government must be taken altogether, and not in any one particular point. It would have afforded him much pleasure if the Government had proposed a measure which he could have supported; because a measure proceeding from the Government would have produced a better effect in the colonies, than could he anticipated from any arrangement which might be adopted after a struggle in that House. The Government proposed that foreign sugar should pay a duty of 20s., and British colonial sugar a duty of 13s., leaving an apparent protection to the latter to the extent of 7s. It, however, was proved before the Committee that when foreign sugar was compared in value with British colonial sugar, there was a difference of 2s. 4d. in favour of the former, and that, therefore, it was necessary to deduct that sum from the nominal amount of protection, which would leave 4s. 8d. as the real protection. Then it was said by the Government that the changes proposed with respect to molasses and rum would be equivalent to 1s. 6d. per cwt. on sugar in favour of the colonies; but a statement which had been published that morning by Mr. Green (in the Times), showed that the calculation of Government in that respect was very much exaggerated. If, therefore, the Government really intended to give the colonies an advantage equivalent to 1s. 6d. per cwt. of sugar by their propositions respecting rum and molasses, it was incumbent on them to carry their intention out in some other manner. Finally came the question, were the propositions of the Government, taken in combination, sufficient to produce the effect of revivifying the industry and restoring the confidence of the colonies? In the opinion of all persons connected with the colonies they were not. It was his opinion that even with a 10s. protection the colonies would undergo a severe struggle, and that a large portion of property would cease to be cultivated; but still under that protection cultivation would he continued to a great extent, and the price of sugar would not be enhanced to the consumer. It, however, was impossible that the measure now proposed could be looked upon as a final measure by the colonies, or that it would restore confidence there. It was to be feared that the colonists would look upon the Government proposition as intended not to meet their wants, but to do as little as possible, and to save what Ministers called the principle of the Act of 1846. The colonists would believe that the object of the Government had been not to save them, but to preserve their own consistency. The whole proceeding would be looked upon as a party move. It would be said that the Government, seeing they must do something, sent for an hon. Member who was very able and learned in figures, who had great talent in either elucidating or mystifying a fact or an argument, and said to him, "We must do something in this case, if it be only what the Member for Manchester calls throwing dust in people's eyes—we do not wish to do something because distress is urgent, for that we knew in November—nor do we wish to do what our governors tell us ought to be done because we do not attach importance to the despatches of our governors: they see things as they are—the Colonial Office sees things as it wishes them to be—we are not prompted to act in consequence of the report of the Committee, for although we granted a Committee to allay the impatience of the public, we had made up our minds before they met not to be influenced by the evidence they might receive, or the report they might agree to—we are not called upon to act in this matter under the pressure of public meetings and popular clamour, organised by a monied league, for the colonists are too poor to agitate; but many of our staunchest supporters think the Act of 1846 has not worked well, and that something must be done; therefore try a shuffle of the scale, throw out a bait to induce the hon. Member for Rochester and the right hon. Member for Coventry to join us; do something to satisfy the friends of the Government, and those who vote with them. There were two distinguished Members of the Committee who voted neither one way nor the other; and if our measure does neither one thing nor the other, we shall have their support. At any rate, the two great leaders of that party, whilst they give their sympathy to the colonies, will give their votes to us from dread of reaction." A measure originating in such motives, and carried by a majority of 15, would not satisfy the colonists. He hoped that even yet the Government would resolve to pass a measure which would meet with the general assent of the House. The right hon. Member for Northampton had talked of a contract existing between the Legislature and the colonies. How absurd it was to speak of a contract between an omnipotent Parliament on the one band, and feeble colonies on the other! All that the latter had to do was to bow to the decree which was issued against them. But the contract, such as it was, had been violated in all its essential particulars by the Legislature. Did the House think they would benefit the consumer by any measure which should be destructive of sugar cultivation? There would be great falling-off in the production of sugar in such an event. But it might be said that our colonial sugar would be replaced by foreign sugar. In the meanwhile, however, and before this could happen, they would pay dear for their sugar: for it was easier to destroy sugar cultivation than to replace it; and when the capital heretofore employed in sugar cultivation in a colony was diverted from that channel, it was not easy to recultivate sugar, even if they could restore industrial habits among the population. The question of cheapness did not depend upon cheapness to-day, and dearness to-morrow; what they wanted was permanent cheapness, and if they destroyed the sugar cultivation of their colonies, they would soon make sugar dearer. The question really was, whether they would not have in the long run to pay more by not protecting their colonies, than by consenting to pay 1d. per lb. more for their sugar? They could not discard their colonies. How did they suppose that parties who were ruined could go on paying taxes for police, for maintaining order, for diffusing instruction, and promoting religion? The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had proposed that the House should take upon itself to pay a proportion of the expenses of the colonial governments; but if the vote came annually before the House, the matter would be debated like the sugar duties, and the colonies could never rely on the payment of this portion of their expenditure. Whatever might be the result of their present state of distress, the colonies would cling to this country for guardianship, and would say that we were bound to protect them from internal commotion and foreign danger. It was with deep regret that he voted for anything that endangered the revenue; but until the Government proposed some measure likely to command more general concurrence, he would vote for the measure recommended by the Committee, which the general evidence showed could hardly be dispensed with, and which was indispensably necessary for a short time to continue the cultivation of these islands. He did not expect that a permanent protection would be necessary for the colonies. A bettor organisation of labour, a more effectual system of immigration, or else the effect upon the prices of labour which the prospect of immigration would have, an improvement in the vagrancy laws, and better means for teaching the negro to perform his duties to his master, were no doubt required, and would do much. For the reasons he had stated he should give his humble support to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington).


Sir, I can assure the Committee that I shall not break the rule that has been generally observed, namely, that of addessing it but for a few moments. With respect to the two positions which are taken by the noble Lord—first, with regard to the revenue; and, secondly, as to the extensive nature of the proposition of the Member for Droitwich, I should say with respect to the first objection of the noble Lord, that I do not consider, from the experience that we have had this year of the noble Lord's calculations with regard to the revenue—his opinion upon that head should be of vital importance in the present discussion. I cannot accept the fears which he has so easily implied as to what must be the consequences of the proposition of my hon. Friend. I imagine its effect upon the revenue will be very slight. It is certainly an objection to the proposition of my hon. Friend, that it is of a temporary character. But I want to know what is the proposition of Her Majesty's Ministers? The scheme of my hon. Friend is a step in the right direction, and, at any rate, it gives greater certainty than the scheme of the noble Lord. So much, then, for the two great objections which the noble Lord has brought against the proposition of my hon. Friend. I cannot agree with those hon. Members who are disposed to depreciate the investigation and report of the Committee that sat upon this question. I believe I have read the evidence of the Committee as sedulously as any hon. Gentleman. I think this habit of depreciating the labours of Committees of this House has of late become a great evil. There is one point upon which we are all agreed, with the exception, I believe, of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies—we are all agreed that our sugar-growing colonies are in a state of unprecedented depression. [Mr. HAWES: So I admit.] The hon. Gentleman has then become more enlightened during the progress of the discussion. The House, I believe, is pretty well agreed upon the point, that these sugar-growing colonies are in a state of unprecedented depression. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich has advanced a proposition to the House in connexion with the report of the Committee, that this depression has arisen from the inability of our sugar colonies to compete with the sugar colonies of other countries enjoying the advantage of slave labour; and what we are now called upon to decide is, whether we will give that assistance to our colonies that will allow them fairly to compete. A Committee, the majority of which was composed of men in favour of the commercial ideas of the present day, decided that a protection of 10s. should be given to our sugar colonies. That decision was founded upon a prolonged, minute, and, I apprehend, a very impartial investigation. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman's representation is a fair account of what took place before the Planting Committee. He himself was there, and gave to its proceedings all the benefit of that acute criticism by which he is so much distinguished. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester says we all know how investigations are carried on before Committees; that a certain number of leading questions are asked, a cer- tain number of witnesses brought together; and the result is a report which re-echoes the convictions of the chairman, for the purpose of advancing and facilitating some foregone conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman at the time was a Member of the Government, and there served on the Committee other Members of the Government, who had an opportunity of producing their own witnesses. One gentleman, called "Lord Grey's witness," was called before the Committee. He came from the Colonial Office; and he had been examined in chief by a Member of the Government during three hours and 25 minutes. His business was to substantiate the truth of the principles which are at present acknowledged to be the principles of the Colonial Office—namely, that free labour can compete successfully with slave labour—that the great cause of West Indian distress is absenteeism—and that the great remedy for that distress is to be found in a repeal of the navigation laws. A majority of the Committee consisted of free-traders; and yet the evidence had forced on them the conviction that a protection of 10s. ought to be given to our colonists. Mr. Pick-wood, the gentleman who had been called "Lord Grey's witness," endeavoured to show that free labour could compete with slave labour; but he admitted in the course of his cross-examination that he did not himself produce sugar on his estate at St. Kitt's for less than 52l. per ton. That admission settled the first point, so far as that gentleman was concerned. He also endeavoured to show that absenteeism was the great cause of the distress in the West Indies; but he afterwards admitted that every resident West Indian proprietor was insolvent, and that all the sugar was produced on the estates of absentees. That was the result of his evidence on the second point. Mr. Pickwood, in attempting to substantiate his third point, namely, that a repeal of the navigation laws could alone save the West Indies, had made a statement with respect to the tonnage and the charge for freightage from the island with which he was connected, which statement had been entirely contradicted by the next witness that had been examined, and one generally acknowledged as the highest authority on this subject. This was the result of the evidence given by the Government witness. I mention the fact because the late Vice-President of the Board of Trade endeavoured to convey in his speech (probably addressed to the electors of Manchester), that the inquiries of this Sugar and Coffee Planting Committee were not conducted in a fair or proper manner—that, in fact, they had only heard the evidence on the one side, and then adjourned, and never made a report. But, Sir, this Committee heard the evidence on all sides, and conducted its inquiry in the most determined manner to obtain the truth: any person might have appeared before it for examination, and have been examined if his evidence was worth listening to; and, so far from shirking or evading the production of a report, that Committee produced more reports than any other which has been appointed by this House. It is proved by the evidence submitted to it, indeed I may say demonstrated, that our sugar-growing colonies cannot compete with foreign countries enjoying slave labour, showing, in a manner the most satisfactory, that the difference between them in the cost of production was little less than 16s. per cwt. The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Wilson) subsequently challenged the accuracy of that calculation; but I think the reply made by my hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) convinced the House that it was just and accurate. The hon. Member for Westbury—a great authority—never appears so happy on sugar as upon other subjects. I never can forget the first debate of the present year, and the tremendous statistics with which he supported the cause of beetroot sugar. If beetroot sugar is to be the great source of supply in case the colonies fail to supply us with all that we need, might we not ask the hon. Gentleman whether the energies of Cuba, stimulated by the Munchausen quantity of railroads which, according to the hon. Gentleman, she possesses, might not aid her in successfully competing with the beetroot sugar of Europe? It is said how inconsistent it is on your part to prove to us that you require a protection of 15s. or 16s., and then ask us for a protection of 10s. per cwt. Sir, that argument has been met by my hon. Friend; but I, too, will say a few words in reply to it. In the first place, remember that all the calculations brought before the Committee were made before any of these changes, of which we now hear so much, had been even commenced—before that reduction in the wages of labour were going on, had occurred. With what success and triumph would you not have replied to us if we had come forward and asked for 15s. or 16s. protection? You would have got up and exclaimed, "You forget that there is now going on in the sugar-growing colonies a great change in the wages of labour—a reduction equal to 25 per cent. You forget the advantages you have from the alteration of the rum duties—you forget the advantages you have from the immigration of labour." You would easily add other items to the catalogue, and then you would say, "And yet you come here to ask the House for a large measure of protection, totally forgetful of these important facts." But, Sir, we anticipated these objections—we give you full credit for the increased exertions of the planters, and the boon of the Legislature, and we fix upon a sum which, from all the evidence, appears to us to afford a fair protection to the industry of the colonists; which gives a moderate and not unreasonable amount of protection; and which will stand the test of an investigation in all these respects. It appears to me that the colonists are in this condition—that it has been established by the best evidence, laboriously collected and critically examined, that their distress arises from their inability to compete with slave-grown sugar—that as far as we can form an opinion, the protection proposed by my hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) is a fair and a just protection—and that we are, according to your own admission of the distressed state of the colonies, entitled to ask the House for its assent to this Amendment. You admit every circumstance necessary for the support of the argument upon which he founds this demand. You (the Government) do not come forward and tell us, like the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) and his colleagues, that the colonies do not require protection—you admit that protection is required; and the question between us is merely whether the Amendment of my hon. Friend gives a sufficient amount of protection, or whether your proposal be not inefficient. With respect to the Government measure, I admit that it is of a remedial character. But in what respect is it remedial? I will tell you. It is remedial of the mistakes of the Legislature of 1846. That is the only manner in which I acknowledge it to be remedial. If, for example, it is of great importance that every negro be taken from the coast of Africa to our sugar-growing colonies, instead of to Sierra Leone, why was not that arrangement effected in 1846? Now you bring forward this as a remedy for the distress of the colonies. I say again it is a remedy for the blunder in your previous legislation. You say you are going to confer a great boon upon the colonies. You ascertain that in the classification there has not been a sufficient distinction made between foreign muscovado sugar and foreign clayed sugar. That makes the difference of a considerable sum in your tariff. You amend this, and you call it a measure of relief to the colonies. But I ask you why was not that difference acknowledged and sot right in 1846? Again, you say we are prepared to advance half a million to the sugar-growing colonies in order that they may obtain labour. It is only a few months ago since you said the sum necessary for that purpose would not be more than 170,000l. [Mr. HAWES: For two colonies.] You said the other colonies did not require it. [Mr. HAWES: No, no!] Well, if it be necessary to advance 670,000l. in order to supply labour to those colonies whose condition has been so often before you, I cannot acknowledge that that is so much a remedy for the colonies, as a remedy for your blundering legislation of 1846. Something has been said about the position in which the Legislature is placed as to engagements entered into with the sugar-growing colonies, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded to "the contract" between Parliament and the colonies. I do not say that in the vulgar sense there was a contract. I am perfectly willing to admit that there was no contract between the colonists and Parliament—that there were not two contracting parties; but does it at all follow that because the omnipotent party dictated terms, that party is not obliged to fulfil those terms? And you cannot deny that the Minister of the day called the attention of Parliament to the question of the colonies—that he called upon Parliament to revolutionise their social state by particular forms and conditions. Perhaps there were not two parties to this contract; but I am not sure, after all, that there may not be a contract without two parties—Magna Charta was surely a contract, but yet it was not signed by the Barons. If there be any man who pretends that there was no engagement that the West Indies should not have certain advantages—if there be any who will say that the markets of this country were not to be secured to the produce of the West Indian planter—that he was not to have the benefit of the apprenticeship system—then I say that that man must have forgotten the whole course of the political history of this country since 1834. It was unnecessary to pass a solemn law upon the subject, since we had Ministers of the Crown, and those who aspired to be Ministers of the Crown, pledging themselves in the debates upon the question that a large distinction should be preserved between free-labour and slave-grown sugar; and this distinction was the elementary principle in party policy. It was the principle that destroyed Governments and that made Governments—it was the principle upon which you went to your constituencies in 1841, and that which those constituencies ratified by immense majorities. Why, Sir, if we were in staken—if the people of England were mistaken—how can we turn round and say to the colonies, "You were labouring under a delusion?" Solemn pledges were given, upon the faith of which capital was obtained from those interested in the cultivation of those colonies; and now it seems these pledges are to be as evanescent as the mottoes upon the electioneering banners. Surely, if it were only for the reputation of this House, you will not now turn round and deceive the planter? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester used to talk a great deal about the Treaty with Brazil. How often has he come forward in this House and told us that we must change our sugar duties—that, unless we modified the sugar duties, the Treaty with Brazil, which was to expire in the following year, would not be renewed. Well, what has become of this Brazilian treaty? I ask the right hon. Gentleman and the members of his school, who told us that all the markets of the world would be thrown open to us if we would only change our tariff, where is this Brazilian treaty? I know it is a sore subject with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson), and it is one which, at an early period, I intend to bring under the notice of the House. How many of our Plenipotentiaries have journeyed in the troubled waters of the La Plata and the Rio, and to what purpose? We have a right to expect some account of their doings. I have asked the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department about it, but in the present state of affairs in Europe he cannot give me a satisfactory answer; but I will very soon bring the subject again under his notice. I will not ask the hon. Gentleman where are those treaties of commerce for which our colonies were sacri- ficed, but where is the Brazilian treaty—where is that mighty trade with Brazil, which he told us was worth more than all the colonies put together? I called the attention of the House at an early period of the Session to the evidence of a gentleman of great ability who conducts the Commercial Glance, who showed that, as far as the industry of Manchester was concerned, they lost by the Sugar Duties Bill more than 1,500,000l., and that nothing was gained to compensate for this loss but 74,000l saving in the reduced price of sugar. But you ask, if assistance be given to the colonies, why should not assistance be given to Manchester, Oldham, or Bolton? I will tell you why. These towns have been able to legislate for themselves. They are unlike the colonies—they have a monopoly of legislation. I believe their position is almost as disastrous as that of the colonies, and I believe that you have laid the foundation for their depression, because you are unacquainted with the principles upon which public wealth is founded. And is the right hon. Gentleman, after participating in this legislation—after coinciding in that measure which crushed our colonies—after we have so long and so exclusively legislated for the manufacturing interest—to come down here whining about the state of depression in which Manchester is by his own theory placed? The right hon. Gentleman has decried protection, and has held up to ridicule those who advocate it; but I warn him before long we may hear the cry of "Protection!" even from Manchester. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the colonies are of little use to us—that we committed a great mistake in adding such an amount of territory to the empire. [Mr. M. GIBSON: That we went too far.] Yes, too far. Then I went to know where is the line to be drawn: will the right hon. Gentleman lay down some limit as to the expansion of the empire? I will not go over our whole colonial dependencies, but I will notice two colonies which have been perpetually referred to in the course of this debate. The first is the Mauritius. The Under Secretary of State said that the misfortunes of our merchants were entirely owing to speculation. Now I have a statement before me drawn from the books of gentlemen often referred to in previous debates, but whose names have, from a feeling of sympathy, never been mentioned. I mention the name of one of those houses with permission—that of Reid, Irving, and Co. They are gentlemen of high character, they were merchants of high credit, and were once held in great estimation as Members of this House. It appears from the statement which I have copied with my own hand from their books, that in August, 1843, the balance of their credit against their principal agents in all their estates in the Mauritius was 78,000l. After an immense, a lavish, but I believe a most judicious expenditure under then existing circumstances, in August, 1845, one year after the Act of 1844, which admitted foreign free-labour sugar, the balance rose to 183,000l. against them; and in 1847, twelve months after the Act of 1846 was passed, by which slave-labour sugar was admitted to the home market, that balance rose to 410,000l. And the whole capital which upon the faith of an Act of Parliament, and at the instigation of the British Legislature, they had expended in the improvement and cultivation of those colonies, was swept away. I do not wish to enter into the question whether this principle of free trade be right or wrong; but I say this is a case of very great hardship which has arisen out of your legislation, and that it is only one case out of many such cases. Here is a great commercial firm which lost between 400,000l. and 500,000l. between the years 1845 and 1847, in consequence of your passing an Act of Parliament which violated every previous engagement, and which was opposed to the counsel of all former Ministers, Governments, and Legislatures. Now, I come to the point touched by the right hon. Gentleman—the increase in the area of the empire—because the whole question lies in this. I take the Mauritius. The Mauritius is the key of India; it is the colony which is, perhaps, the most suffering of all—it is probably the colony which, if we are to put faith in the principles of the right hon. Gentleman, we should be the first to desert; and then the question arises—if other considerations than commercial considerations are to decide the policy of this empire—if the Mauritius had been in our possession fifty years sooner than it was, should we not have conquered India sooner than we did, and should we not have retained it at loss cost? In fact, no country can firmly hold India, unless it retains possession of the Mauritius. Suppose that that island was again in the possession of Prance, what, I should like to know, would be our position in India? Then the other colonies, to which so much allusion has been made, are in close contact with the United States of America. Only imagine that America, which you say cannot become too powerful—imagine her in possession of these islands, and that she could command the whole Gulf of Mexico. If you say you care not what may be the increase in the power of a customer, so long as that increases the demand for your marketable commodities, then you must assume that political power is nothing, and that commercial advantage is everything. But then comes the question, when your political power is gone, what security have you for the continuance of your commercial advantage? I do not forget the promise I made to the House; but I must notice some observations of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon. The right hon. Gentleman gave some peculiar reasons for supporting the proposition of the Government. He acknowledged that he supported it against his own convictions; but he said he did support it because I had observed in a debate that occurred two years ago, when I supported my noble Friend in his opposition to the fatal measure of 1846, that the time would come when Parliament would rescind this measure, because the spirit of reaction would be too powerful for them; and the right hon. Gentleman says he does not wish to vote for the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich, because he thinks that would be to assist in fulfilling my prediction. But I must inform the right hon. Gentleman that the fulfilment of my prediction does not depend upon carrying the Amendment of my hon. Friend. Her Majesty's Ministers themselves have fulfilled my prediction. My prediction was not in favour of any particular amount of duty. I said you will have to change the course of your legislation—you will have to go back; and you have gone back. Whether the amount of duty be 10s. or 7s., the reaction is complete; and I tell the right hon. Gentleman that reaction is not a thing to be made by Act of Parliament more than it is to be controlled by the opinions of Ministers of State. Reaction is inevitable. Reaction is the ebb and flow of opinion incident to fallible beings—the consequence of hope deferred, of false representations, of expectations baulked. Reaction is the consequence of a nation waking from its illusions. I apprehend that the moral phenomena of national ex- perience are not different in commercial from what they are in religious and political circumstances; and when I find a community celebrated for its industry—celebrated once, I should rather say, for its industry and wealth—when I find its labour unemployed, its capital wasting away, its mills shut up, its counting-houses idle, I cannot be surprised that a feeling of distrust and discontent should fall upon the spirit of the people. It is very easy for a Gentleman of the great position and eminent ability and varied experience of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon to cry out, "No reaction!" I know some hon. Gentlemen who used to cry out, "No surrender!" and who, after that, went and laid down their arms. But it is not by bravado exclamations of this kind that you can arrest the course of public opinion, or stop the inevitable progress of human affairs. Continue the course you opened with so much audacity and so much elation, and which you now quit with so much hesitation and so much timidity—pursue that course, and let the right hon. Gentleman continue his cry of "No reaction!"—this I tell you, if you do that, before two years have passed away the right hon. Gentleman will be crying "No reaction!" amid a dissolving empire and a despairing people.


as he was a Member of the Committee to which the hon. Gentleman who just sat down had referred, thought it incumbent on him to make a remark upon the hon. Gentleman's speech, particularly as he had said that this reaction might be traced to false representations. The hon. Gentleman had asked the House to support the Motion now before it, on the authority of the report of that Committee, and on the ground that the Committee was composed of a large majority of what are called "free-traders." That would certainly be a sign of reaction, and a startling fact to go forth to the world; and he was sure the hon. Gentleman would thank him when he told him that it was impossible to state anything more distinctly inaccurate than that. Why, the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) was allowed to have his own way. ["No!"] He meant to say the noble Lord was the person who urged upon the House the appointment of the Committee. No other person seemed to take any interest in naming the members, and there were on the Committee ten protectionists and five free-traders. ["No!"] He repeated, there were upon it ten protectionists—men who were either protectionists in principle, or notoriously protectionists on the subject of sugar. Then came the question whether the proposition made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich was carried by a majority of the Committee. He ventured to say that the one thing on which a majority of the Committee could not be induced to agree, was the very question of 10s. differential duty. The hon. Gentleman could not contradict him when he said that the hon. Member or the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool was only able to carry the differential duty of 10s., by two Members leaving the Committee who would have voted against him; and when the hon. Gentleman referred to the evidence, and when he stated that all the evidence went to support this very proposition, he would remind him that all the evidence received from protection witnesses went to support a measure of a different character. The evidence went to show that the colonists were ruined for want of forced labour, and the want of the mono-poly of the British market. There was no person who went into the cost of production, who did not agree that 10s. would not afford sufficient relief; and the only reason for proposing this amount was this—it was announced to the Committee that if a 10s. duty were proposed, the merchants of the country would advance capital to the planters of the island. It was said that nothing less than 15s. would afford protection; and the fact was that the evidence was against the 10s. duty, and for a measure of a different character. The report, therefore, could only be obtained from a minority on the Committee; and he challenged the noble Lord, who had the report in his hand, to contradict him if he could.


said, in explanation, what he intended to state was, that though the Committee had recommended a differential duty of 10s. for six years, yet that if he were asked to say what be would propose at the termination of that differential duty in 1854, he would not like to take upon himself the part of a prophet by declaring what might then be necessary—that he was not himself disposed to think that protection would be necessary for so long a period—and that he would for his own part be ready at a future stage in Committee to take a fixed differential duty of 10s. for three years, and to adopt a descending scale for the remaining period.


At this late hour of the night, I will not trouble the Committee, except absolutely to answer the questions that I have been challenged to answer. There were on that Committee of fifteen—the names of which Committee were settled between the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury on the part of the Government, and myself—but three Members, who voted in this House against the Act of 1846, namely. Sir John Pakington, Mr. Philip Miles, and myself. There were on that Committee of Members who voted in favour of the Act of 1846, five Members—Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Goulburn, Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. Charles Villiers, and Mr. Ewart. There were of avowed free-traders, whose opinions on this subject were not known when the Committee was formed, and who did not vote either one way or the other, with respect to the Act of 1846—many of them not having been in Parliament at that period—Mr. Cardwell, Sir Thomas Birch, Mr. Henry Hope, Mr. James Wilson, Mr. James Matheson, and Sir Edward Buxton. The resolution of the Committee, which was eventually carried, was proposed by Sir Thomas Birch, the Member for Liverpool—the free-trade Member for Liverpool. And I appeal to the Secretary to the Treasury whether Sir Thomas Birch was not the Gentleman regarding whom, between him and me, there was the greatest struggle whether he was to be put on the Committee or not; and whether it was not by the special desire of the Secretary of the Treasury, speaking on behalf of the Government, that Sir Thomas Birch was ultimately placed on the Committee? The only other Gentleman on the Committee was a Gentleman who had not been in Parliament before, and whose opinions on this question had never been tested in any way, or in any speech in the House or out of the House—I mean Lord George Manners. Nor, Sir, I have stated fairly the composition of the Committee; and I appeal to every Gentleman in the House, under these circumstances—there being on that Committee of fifteen Gentlemen but three Gentlemen whose opinions were known on the subject of the Act of 1846, as having voted against that Act, and only one other Gentleman on the whole Committee who was supposed to favour the opinions of the Chairman—whether there ever was a Committee more fairly constituted, and whose judgment and whose decision, if it should prove, as it eventually did prove, in favour of the resolution which has now been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich, was better entitled to the respect of this House and of the country, as the opinion of a Committee impartially formed and constituted. But certainly, if there was a bearing and a bias on the part of the Committee when appointed, that bias was altogether against the West Indian and the sugar-planting interests, and in favour of the opinions of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.


in the absence of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), wished to state what was the precise position of his right hon. Friend and himself on the Committee; and it was only fair that he should be allowed an opportunity of doing so, because certainly the noble Lord had not conveyed a fair impression of what their views on the Committee were. They placed on record their belief of the distress which existed in the West Indian colonies—of the causes which led to that distress—of the degree to which that distress had been aggravated by the Act of 1846—of the reasons why, in their opinion, protection was not, from its nature, a satisfactory means for the permanent improvement of the West Indian islands—and then, being invited by the Government to leave to them the selection of measures for promoting permanently the interests of the colonies, they moved an amendment to the effect that a measure of temporary protection was not to be considered as excluded; but, in the absence of any knowledge of what permanent measures the Government intended to propose, they thought that the Committee could not suggest the amount of temporary encouragement that would be necessary, and they absented themselves from the last division, when a specific measure was proposed, because they thought that, in the absence of all knowledge of what the permanent measures would be, they were not in a position to propose temporary measures. And, with their views of the manner in which the revenue might be affected by a resolution for temporary protection, they thought that they would not be justified in coming to any other conclusion.

The Committee divided on the question, as proposed by Sir John Pakington, that the duty on muscovado sugar be 10s. for every cwt:—Ayes 169; Noes 231: Majority 62.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Goddard, A. L.
Adderley, C. B. Godson, R.
Anstey, T. C. Gordon, Adm.
Archdall, Capt. Gore, W. R. O.
Bagge, W. Granby, Marq. of
Bagot, hon. W. Greene, T.
Baldock, E. H. Grogan, E.
Bankes, G. Haggitt, F. R.
Barkly, H. Hale, R. B.
Baring, T. Halford, Sir H.
Barrington, Visct. Hall, Col.
Benbow, J. Halsey, T. P.
Bennet, P. Hamilton, G. A.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hamilton, J. H.
Bentinck, Lord H. Hamilton, Lord C.
Beresford, W. Harris, hon. Capt.
Blackstone, W. S. Henley, J. W.
Boldero, H. G. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Bowles, Adm. Hildyard, R. C.
Bramston, T. W. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Bremridge, R. Hodgson, W. N.
Brisco, M. Hood, Sir A.
Broadley, H. Hope, H. T.
Brooke, Lord Hotham, Lord
Bruce, C. L. C. Hudson, G.
Buck, L. W. Hume, J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Ingestre, Visct.
Burghley, Lord Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Jones, Capt.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Keating, R.
Cabbell, B. B. Knox, Col.
Carew, W. H. P. Law, hon. C. E.
Cayley, E. S. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Christopher, R. A. Lockhart, A. E.
Christy, S. Lockhart, W.
Clive, H. B. Mackenzie, W. F.
Cobbold, J. C. Mandeville, Visct.
Cochrane, A. D. R. Mangles, R. D.
Codrington, Sir W. Manners, Lord C. S.
Compton, H. C. Masterman, J.
Conolly, Col. Meux, Sir H.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Miles, P. W. S.
Courtenay, Lord Miles, W.
Damer, hon. Col. Morgan, O.
Deedes, W. Mullings, J. R.
Disraeli, B. Mure, Col.
Dod, J. W. Napier, J.
Dodd, G. Neeld, J.
Drax, J. S. W. S. E. Neeld, J.
Drummond, H. H. Newdegate, C. N.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Newport, Visct.
Duncombe, hon. O. O'Brien, Sir L.
Du Pre, C. G. Ossulston, Lord
East, Sir J. B. Oswald, A.
Edwards, H. Packe, C. W.
Egerton, Sir P. Palmer, R.
Egerton, W. T. Pattison, J.
Emlyn, Visct. Pennant, hon. Col.
Euston, Earl of Plowden, W. H. C.
Farnham, E. B. Powlett, Lord W.
Farrer, J. Reid, Col.
Fellowes, E. Robinson, G.
Filmer, Sir E. Rufford, F.
Fitzgerald, W. R. S. Sandars, G.
Forbes, W. Seymer, H. K.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Sibthorp, Col.
Fox, S. W. L. Smith, M. T.
Fuller, A. E. Smyth, J. G.
Galway, Visct. Somerset, Capt.
Gaskell, J. M. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Spooner, R. Vivian, J. E.
Stafford, A. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Stuart, H. Waddington, D.
Stuart, J. Waddington, H. S.
Sutton, J. H. M. Walpole, S. H.
Taylor, T. E. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Thornhill, G. Wawn, J. T.
Tollemache, J. Welby, G. E.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Williamson, Sir H.
Turner, G. J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Wodehouse, E.
Urquhart, D. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Vesey, hon. T. TELLERS.
Villiers, Visct. Baillie, H.
Villiers, hon. F. W. C. Pakington, Sir J.
List of the NOES.
Abdy, T. N. Duff, G. S.
Adair, R. A. S. Duke, Sir J.
Anderson, A. Duncan, G.
Anson, hon. Col. Duncuft, J.
Anson, Visct. Dundas, Adm.
Armstrong, Sir A. Dundas, Sir D.
Armstrong, R. B. Ebrington, Visct.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Elliot, hon. J. E.
Estcourt, J. B. B.
Bagshaw, J. Evans, Sir De L.
Bailey, J. Evans, J.
Baines, M. T. Evans, W.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Ewart, W.
Barnard, E. G. Fagan, W.
Bellew, R. M. Fergus, J.
Berkeley, hon. Capt Ferguson, Col.
Berkeley, hon. C. F. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Blake, M. J. FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Bowring, Dr. Foley, J. H. H.
Boyle, hon. Col. Forster, M.
Brand, T. Fortescue, C.
Brotherton, J. Fortescue, hon. J. W.
Brown, W. Fox, W. J.
Browne, R. D. Freestun, Col.
Buller, C. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Bunbury, E. H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Callaghan, D. Glyn, G. C.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Cardwell, E. Granger, T. C.
Carter, J. B. Greene, J.
Caulfeild, J. M. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Grey, R. W.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cavendish, W. G. Guest, Sir J.
Chaplin, W. J. Hall, Sir B.
Childers, J. W. Hallyburton, Ld. J. F. G.
Clay, J. Hardcastle, J. A.
Clements, hon. C. S. Hastie, A.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hastie, A.
Clifford, H. M. Hawes, B.
Cobden, R. Hay, Lord J.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Hayter, W. G.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Heathcoat, J.
Corbally, M. E. Heneage, G. H. W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Heneage, E.
Craig, W. G. Henry, A.
Dalrymple, Capt. Herbert, H. A.
Dashwood, G. H. Hervey, Lord A.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Heywood, J.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Denison, W. J. Hobhouse, T. B.
Devereux, J. T. Hodges, T. L.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Hodges, T. T.
Divett, E. Hollond, R.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Howard, hon. J. K. Pilkington, J.
Howard, P. H. Pinney, W.
Hughes, W. B. Price, Sir R.
Hutt, W. Pusey, P.
Jervis, Sir J. Raphael, A.
Keogh, W. Reynolds, J.
Kershaw, J. Ricardo, J. L.
Kildare, Marq. of Ricardo, O.
King, hon. P. J. L. Rice, E. R.
Lahouchere, rt. hon. H. Rich, H.
Lacy, H. C. Robartes, T. J. A.
Langston, J. H. Romilly, Sir J.
Lascedles, hon. W. S. Russell, Lord J.
Lemon, Sir C. Russell, F. C. H.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Rutherfurd, A.
Lewis, G. C. Scholefield, W.
Lincoln, Earl of Scrope, G. P.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Scully, F.
Locke, J. Seymour, Sir H.
Lushington, G. Shafto, R. D.
Macnamara, Maj. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Shelburne, Earl of
M'Gregor, J. Simeon, J.
M'Taggart, Sir J. Slaney, R. A.
Maher, N. V. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Marshall, J. G. Smith, J. A.
Martin, J. Smith, J. B.
Martin, C. W. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Martin, S. Spearman, H. J.
Matheson, A. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Matheson, J. Stuart, Lord D.
Matheson, Col. Stuart, Lord J.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Sullivan, M.
Melgund, Visct. Talbot, C. R. M.
Milner, W. M. E. Talbot, J. H.
Mitchell, T. A. Talfourd, Serj.
Moffatt, G. Tancred, H. W.
Monsell, W. Thicknesse, R. A.
Morpeth, Visct. Thompson, Col.
Morison, Sir W. Thompson, G.
Morris, D. Thornely, T.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Towneley, J.
Mowatt, F. Townshend, Capt.
Mulgrave, Earl of Turner, E.
Norreys, Lord Vane, Lord H.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Villiers, hon. C.
O'Brien, J. Vivian, J. H.
Ogle, S. C. H. Wakley, T.
Ord, W. Ward, H. G.
Owen, Sir J. Watkins, Col.
Paget, Lord A. Westhead, J. P.
Paget, Lord C. Willcox, B. M.
Palmer, R. Williams, J.
Palmerston, Visct. Wilson, J.
Parker, J. Wilson, M.
Patten, J. W. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Pearson, C. Wrightson, W. B.
Pechell, Capt. Wyld, J.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Perfect, R. TELLERS.
Peto, S. M. Hill, Lord M.
Pigott, F. Tufnell, H.

The House resumed. Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at Two o'clock.

Back to