HC Deb 07 July 1848 vol 100 cc242-302

On the Motion that the House go into Committee on the Sugar Duties,


rose to call the attention of the House to the despatch of Lord Harris, dated the 21Bt day of February, 1848. He must complain of an erroneous statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester. The right hon. Gentleman said that Lord Harris had stated that the cost of production on well-managed estates in the British islands was 10s. 5d. The right hon. Gentleman had not read the whole of the passage in that despatch, which was as follows:— On the best managed estates in the English islands, a cwt. of sugar may be produced for 2 dols., 50c. or 10s. 5d.; but the average range is from 4 dols, to 7 dols, or 16s. 8d. to 1l. 9s. 2d.; in Martinique, to 15s. 10d.; in Guadaloupe, the same; in Santa Cruz, from 2 dols. 25c. to 2 dols. 50c. or 9s. 2½d. to 10s. 5d.; Porto Rico, cheaper; of Cuba I have no correct information, but from 50c. to 1 dol. or 2s. 1d. to 4s. 2d.; which is the same as it was in Trinidad, I have heard, during the existence of slavery. Lord Harris, in writing to Earl Grey, said— I had hoped to have forwarded to your Lordship a return showing the average cost of cultivating the sugar-cane; of the manufacture of the sugar, the quantity produced per acre, with some other information, in the several English, French, Spanish, and Danish islands. The information has been collected, and is still collecting for me, by Dr. Mitchell, a physician of this island, who, I believe, possesses as much practical and scientific knowledge on these subjects as can well be combined in one person, and who has been travelling through the islands for me, in order to acquire a knowledge of the latest improvements of every kind. It has, however, been found so difficult to make any approach to average statements in numbers, that I am obliged to wait for further information; what I have actually collected goes to show, that in the English colonies the sugar has been produced at a considerable loss at the late prices. And Lord Harris added this further remark— In Trinidad, I believe, no sugar has been produced at a less cost than 3 dols, or 12s. 6d., per cwt. but the average is between 4 dols, and 5 dols. Now, I find that the average price in the colony, for the last six months of 1847, was 3 dols. 83c. or 15s.11½d.; so that the mere production costs more than could be obtained in the market, leaving nothing for the interest of capital, reserve for losses, &c. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester had stated that the cost of production in the West India islands was only 10s. 4d. If that were so, it was even cheaper than in some foreign places. Now, as a good deal turned upon the cost of production, he would quote the evidence of fifteen witnesses upon this point, and challenge any Member in that House to refute it. He would first mention the cost of production at Cuba, and then compare it with the cost of production in the British islands. According to the evidence of Mr. Kennedy, who formerly represented Tiverton in that House, and now held an official position in the West Indies, the cost of production at Cuba was from 6s. to 8s.; according to the evidence of Mr. Overman, from 6s. to 8s.; according to the report of the House of Assembly at Antigua, from 8s. to 10s.; according to Mr. Moody, from 8s. to 10s.; according to Governor Reid, from 11s. to 12s.; according to Mr. Tollemache, M. P., 8s. 6d; according to Mr. Geddes, 10s. Mr. Shaw stated that, at Porto Rico, 10s. covered all expenses. Mr. P. Borthwick said the cost there was 12s.; Mr. A. R. Scott stated that he had bought sugar there at 7s. 6d. per cwt., and that 10s. was the average price. Mr. Crawford said it was 9s. 4d.; Lord Harris said the cost of production there was from 2s. to 4s. 2d.; Mr. Barkly, from 6s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. The hon. Gentleman quoted other evidence to the same effect. Accoring to the evidence of Mr. B. Greene, the cost of production at St. Kitt's was, during slavery, 4s. 6d. per cwt.; during freedom, 21s. 7d. Governor Reid said that at Granada the cost was, during slavery. 5s. 6d. to 6s.; during freedom, 14s. 6d. to 21s. 4d. Mr. Geddes said the cost at Jamaica was, during slavery, from 4s. to 14s. the average cost, 10.; during freedom, 20s. to 26s. Lord Harris said that in the former period at Trinidad the average cost was 2s. 3½d. per 100 lbs; during the latter, 10s. Dr. Rankin said the cost in our West Indian possessions generally was 6s. 5d. during slavery, now it was from 20s. to 23s. Mr. Shand said that during slavery it was 7s. 11d., now 28s. 6d. Mr. Naghten said that at Demerara the cost during slavery had been 6s., now it was 1l. 8s. 5d. From the report of the Jamaica House of Assembly it appeared that the cost of production there at present was 1l. 2s. 7½d. Lord Howard de Walden said it was 20s. in the districts where the property lay; Mr. Todd said it was 16s. at St. Lucia; Mr. Pile said it was from 18s. to 20s.; Mr. Carrington said it was 15s. At Barbadoes, Mr. Wollsy said it was from 19s. to 28s. At the Mauritius, Mr. Hunlis said it was from 18s. to 20s.; Mr. Blythe said it was 23s.; Mr. Chapman that it was 20s. In the East Indies, Mr. Bagshaw said it was 22s.; Mr. Ellis that it was 18s.; and Mr. Wrinsted said it was 18s. to 20s. there. He thought he had quoted sufficient to show the House not merely the immense difference there was between the cost of the production of, sugar now, as compared with the period of slavery in our West India islands, but also shown how utterly unable our colonists were to compete with the foreigners, in consequence of the difference in the cost of production being so greatly in favour of the latter. He hoped he should not again hear those erroneous statements which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), and the hen. Member for Westbury (Mr. Wilson), had introduced for the purpose of supporting their views. It had been established that the cost of production in our possessions, as compared with that in slave States, was as 2 to 1, and the quality of the foreign sugar, as compared with ours, was as 6 to 5. In any scheme which the Government intended should really benefit the West Indian colonies, these two important facts must be borne in mind and acted upon.

House in Committee.

On the question being put on the Resolution proposed by the Minister,


rose to propose the Amendment of which he had given notice. He did not propose to alter the rates of duty upon foreign and colonial sugar, but simply to arrest the progress of the Bill of 1846, except that he proposed to make an alteration in the standard sample at the Custom-house on which the duties were levied, and to substitute the new standard which the Government had adopted for brown clayed sugars, so that there might be only one class for all clayed sugars, instead of the two classes, as proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the proposed to give a minimum protection of 4s. 6d. per cwt. on muscovado for six years, and a maximum protection of 7s. 7d. upon clayed sugar for the same period, so as to obviate the complaints of the sliding-scale of duties in the Bill of 1846. His proposition would not hazard a sixpence of the revenue; but he admitted that he was anxious to see a reduction of the present high duties upon sugar whenever the state of the revenue would afford it. He was not averse to a bold experiment on the subject, if it could be made, with a view to save our colonies from destruction. The Government were frittering away the; revenue by their reductions of 1s. per year, without any corresponding advantage to the consumer, for the reduction was so small that the profits would go into the pockets of the retailers. He know his plan would not be satisfactory to the colonies. He had brought forward this Amendment much upon the same grounds as those upon which he had voted for the plan of the hon. Member for Droitwich, and, although he felt that he was laying himself open to the charge of inconsistency, that was a matter of far less importance than if be were to be instrumental in depriving the colonists of that protection which he believed to be necessary for them. The hon. Member moved to substitute 14s. per cwt., instead of 13s., on muscovado sugar not equal in quality to white clayed.* * The whole plan of the hon. Member was to he thus carried out;— British Plantation—from and after 5th July,

Question put.


The alteration proposed by the hon. Gentleman was, that the duty upon brown clayed foreign sugar should be raised to 21s. 7d, instead of being left at 20s., as proposed by the Government, being an increase of 1s. 7d., and that the higher rate of duty be for six years, instead of one year, with an annual reduction to 10s.; and the bon. Gentleman had argued that his proposal would involve an easier process as regarded the distinction between the sugars. On that point he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman, and the proposal of the Government was founded on the report of the Committee, the object being to give additional protection in this respect to the producer of West India sugar, and at the same time to preserve the interests of the consumer. Now, if the proposal of the Government was for the benefit of the producer, by giving him protection, as well as for the benefit of the consumer, by securing low prices, the hon. Gentleman, by his proposition, would enhance the price to the consumer. The Government gave to the colonial producer the benefit of a protection of 7s.; and the result of probable large imports would be that prices would he kept down, stocks on hand would be increased, and the increased consumption would make up the deficiency in the revenue. Hut if that protection was given by enhancing the duty on foreign sugar, thereby increasing the price, the hope was taken away of the increased consumption making up the deficiency, and the consumer was deprived of the benefit sought to be conferred upon him. The hon. Gentleman proposed to continue this differential duty for six years, making no provision for the increased consumption of future years; but that at the end of the six years the duty should drop, instead of al-lowing it to wear out, as the Government proposed, by a fall every year. But there would be a stagnation of trade produced by the sudden cessation of all differential duties in one year, and the regular progress of commerce interfered with. He could understand that it might suit the purpose 1848, to 5th July, 1854, inclusive: double refined, 1l. 1s; single refined, 18s. 8d.; muscovado, 14s.; molasses, 5s. 3d. Foreign—from 5th July, 1848, to 5th July, 1854: double refined, &c., 1l. 7s. 9d.; single refined, 1l. 4s, 8d; brown clayed, or equal thereto, 1l. 1s. 7d.; muscovado, 18s. 6d.; molasses, 6s. 11d. from 5th July, 1854: same rates as British plantation. of owners of estates, under certain circumstances, to enjoy a high protection for a given time, and then for the duty to cease, and that they might in the interim get rid of their property; but the duty of the Government was not to provide for the interests of two or three parties who might have certain pecuniary transactions which might render such a course desirable, but to shape their proposals for the general interests of the colonies and of the consumers. The question was, how the protection could be given with the best advantage to the permanent interests of the colonies; and he thought that the proposal for a gradual diminution of the duties, enabling, as it would, parties to prepare for competition, would tend far more to those permanent interests than a plan by which the high point of protection, fixed at starting, was to be kept up for a certain time, and then suddenly to cease. As to the other proposal of the hon. Gentleman, that the duty on colonial sugar should remain at 14s. for the whole of the six years, the hon. Gentleman had himself admitted that he was open to the charge of inconsistency, in first voting for a 10s. duty, and now to resist the proposal of the Government; but he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would make no remark on that, but merely say that the whole purport of the information received by the Government from the West Indies, and of the report of the Sugar Planting Committee, upon this point, went to show that a reduction of duty upon colonial sugar was desired in the West Indies with a view to increased consumption. The right hon. Gentleman read an extract from a petition from merchants and others residing in Kingston, Jamaica, complaining of the heavy imposts levied upon their productions by the Home Legislature, thus rendering the price of their necessaries of life nearly double to the consumers in Great Britain. He merely quoted that as a specimen; but the applications from the colonies were universal for a reduction of duty on their produce with a view to the extension of consumption. The proposal of the Government was no doubt a compromise between two competing interests; it was to give the higher rate of protection to the producer in the first instance, but gradually diminishing, and to give the consumer as an advantage what the Government believed would be a security for the maintenance of sugar-planting in the West India islands, and ultimately to indemnify the consumer, by reducing the price of sugar as far as it was dependent upon the duty levied in this country. His belief was, that by reducing the duty on foreign sugar the Government did, so far as depended on legislation, reduce the price of all sugars; thereby extending the consumption in this country. They conferred a benefit on the consumer by low prices; they extended the consumption to the advantage of the revenue; while they maintained a protection to the producer to enable him to prepare for competition. He believed that the same principle would apply to sugar as had been applied to other trades and to agriculture of late years—lower profits and larger production. The right hon. Gentleman then referred to the greatly increased consumption of sugar which had occurred correlatively with the reduction in price. There would be an increased consumption from the fall of prices not in the first year only; in each succeeding year, even if there were no additional fall of prices, the increase of the consumption would go on. The effect of the fall of 11s. 9d. in 1845 was an increased consumption to an enormous extent. With the prospects of the present year, the large stock on hand, and other circumstances, he did not think he was too sanguine when he expected an increase in the consumption of sugar to the extent of 15,000 or 20,000 tons. The habit of consuming sugar was increasing; and in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, there was a complaint of the diminished consumption of milk in consequence of sugar being substituted for milk. The proposition of the Government, of gradually reducing the duty and reducing the price, would afford the means of stimulating the consumption each year; whereas in the proposition of the hon. Member, there was nothing that could contribute to increase consumption by means of a diminution of price. By the Government plan, there might be expected an increased consumption of sugar year by year. He had shown, on a former occasion, that there was a prospect of little loss to the revenue by the plan of the Government, though circumstances might defeat his calculations; but he saw no reason to believe that the consumption would amount to less than from 305,000 to 310,000 tons, and that would leave no loss to the revenue. The reduction of price would proceed on equal terms each year. Therefore, he thought the proposition of the hon. Member objectionable; for by raising the price of that description of sugar which regulated the prices of all sugars, it would do an ul- timate injury to the consumer, and did not give to the West India producer that advantage which the Government measure proposed to give him; so that whilst the consumer and the producer would, in his opinion, be both benefited by the Government plan, the hon. Member's proposition would injure both; and he did not think that by the former any serious risk to the revenue was incurred. By the proposition of the hon. Member, he thought the revenue would be risked, and, therefore, he should resist that proposition, and sustain the plan of the Government, as affording a sufficient relief to the producer, without injury to the consumer or risk to the revenue.


said, the question immediately before the House was simply whether they should have a duty of 14s. or of 13s. upon colonial muscovado. As far as that question was concerned, undoubtedly many Members might give their vote, as he should, in favour of the proposition of his hon. Friend, without being-friendly to the whole of it. But his hon. Friend had reasonably asked what those persons, who might join him in voting for a 14s. duty, intended to do in the ulterior stages of the measure, in case he should succeed in his first object? and he (Mr. Gladstone) thought he was bound to give as full and as fair an answer to that question as he could. It appeared to him that more aid was due to the West India colonies than could conveniently be given to them in the form of protective duties. He had on previous occasions referred to several modes in which aid could be given. One was by lightening the charges of Government; another by giving greater discretion and control over the revenue, and the entire assumption of certain charges now borne by the colonies; and next by the application of some vote of public money, under the form of a loan, or a grant he was disposed to prefer a grant to encourage immigration. It would be well worthy of consideration whether it should not be a grant, because, by stimulating the colonies to immigration and works of improvement, material and permanent benefit would be conferred on the colonies by the cultivation of property. If what he thought the West Indies required could be done in such a form as this, he should prefer it to seeing an increase in the rate of the protecting duty. But he had heard nothing of encouragement from the Government to lead him to suppose they contemplated providing material relief in this, the form the West Indies thought they most required it. He therefore frankly told his hon. Friend, if no such relief should be afforded, he should hold himself entirely free to combine with him in the ulterior stages of his proceedings, and vote for a differential duty somewhat higher than he should have proposed himself, because it seemed the only way in which relief could be obtained. But the first question—and it was a most important one—was the imposition of a duty of 14s. on muscovado sugar. He thought the West Indians had a claim upon the Government, which it was incumbent upon it to take some step to satisfy, not only on considerations of general policy, but on account of the extraordinary circumstances connected with the admission of foreign sugar released from bond on the previous day, and of course still entitled to be released, and of other cargoes of foreign sugar, amounting, he was told, to not less than 20,000 tons, which were either on their way to this country, or had been ordered. With respect to this sugar, he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer Would find it a matter of the greatest difficulty to make good the exaction of a 20s. duty. He must guard himself against being supposed to give any opinion whether the importers of that sugar had a claim on the Government or not; although, as the hon. Member for Kirmarnock had given notice of a Motion on that subject, he would not then enter into this question. Fur the present, he would confine himself to the fact that from 10,000 to 12,000 tons of sugar, with respect to which the West Indians had been promised the protection afforded by a 20s. duty, had been admitted at 18s. 6d., while it was at least a possibility that about the same quantity would have to be admitted at the same amount of duty. It had been justly said that the first year would be the year of greatest pressure to the West Indians; yet it was obvious that a portion of the protection, namely, Is. 6d. per cwt, which they had been led to expect during that critical period, would be virtually destroyed. He thought this afforded a reason for introducing some modification into the plan of the Government. He would not argue at any length that feature of the plan of his hon. Friend (Mr. Barkly), by which he proposed to maintain the present duty for a term of six years. He adhered to the preference which he had expressed, of a permanent duty to a shifting duty. It was not a lingering death that the House was contemplating in the ease of the colonies. They wanted to see the colonies brought to a state of life and vigour. What was required by the colonists was aid, extending over a period of years, which would afford to them opportunities for making fresh investments of capital, and not a state of things requiring a change of calculations every twelvemonth. But he confessed that the proposition of his hon. Friend was mainly recommended to him by the fact that he thought it more honest—the sense in which he used that term would, he was sure, be understood—more honest and straightforward as respected the revenue, than the proposition of the Government, undoubtedly his hon. Friend did raise the price to the consumer by 1s. 7d., and his plan did not present the comparatively attractive aspect in that respect which was presented by the Government plan. At the same time, he must observe, that if the right hon. Gentleman professed to favour the consumer by a plan which would eat away his revenue, and did not provide means for restoring it, it was in vain that he talked about the benefit which he conferred on the consumer, because all that would tell in the increased amount of his deficit, and the consumer would be called to make that good in some other form. Something had been gained from the right hon. Gentleman by these discussions, for that evening he had made the distinct avowal that 240,000l. was to be given from the revenue of the country to the West Indians by the plan of the Government. It was no longer 10,000l. or 40,000l.; the right hon. Gentleman now confessed that in the first year their loss would be 240,000l. Now, he would take the liberty of adding to that amount the difference between 18s. 6d. and 20s. on foreign sugar, which, contrary to the intentions of Gentlemen, had been admitted at the lower rate of duty. His belief was, that a loss of 50,000l. would be sustained on that account. Thus a loss of nearly 300,000l. would be thrown on the revenue. Now, as far as the first year was concerned, it had been most candidly and explicitly owned by the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Wilson) that there was in the Government plan no reproductive power whatever. There would, therefore, be a sheer gift out of the revenue for the first year, because there would, during that period, be none of that reduction of price to the consumer about which the House had heard so much. He must say that a great deal more had been said on that part of the subject than it deserved. It might be supposed that some gigantic reduction was going to be effected—that some change was about to be made in the market, which would give a powerful stimulus to consumption, and tend to restore the revenue. He did not think the plan of the Government could possibly produce any such effect. It could not be shown that from a remission of 1s. in the first year, 2s. in the second, 3s. in the third, and 4s. in the fourth, they had a right to expect any great addition to the consumption of the country. The Government spoke of experience, but all experience was against them. The noble Lord had referred to a great number of years, and had shown what effect given reductions in price had in stimulating consumption; and it had been invariably found that from a reduction of 1s. they had no right to expect, even under favourable circumstances, an increase of more than two or three thousand tons in the consumption. That was altogether insufficient to replace what it was now proposed to take away from the revenue. After four years, the loss would probably be in a great degree replaced; but during the lapse of those years the reduction would come into play very feebly. Taking nothing off the price of sugar in the first year, taking off only 1s. old. in the second year, and only 3s. in the third, had the Government any right to expect on such grounds that they would replace the 240,000l. taken from the revenue in the first year, the 480,000l. in the second year, and the 720,000l. in the third year? No single instance could be adduced in which such an effect had been produced by such a cause. The Government were really setting experience at defiance; they were setting at defiance the very information which they had quoted for the purpose of influencing the judgment of the House, if they told them that on account of such reductions in the price to the consumer the revenue would be restored. But the right hon. Gentleman said there would be an increased consumption arising, not from the operation of the plan, but apart from it. He said that in the first year there would be an increase which would go far to make up the loss. Now, he objected altogether to the practice of counting upon the revenue of future years to make up the deficiency of past years; and that was his reason for saying that the plan of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Barkly) was more honest and straightforward than that of the Government. If there were one thing more dangerous than another, it was the bringing forward measures by which a present popularity was earned through inflicting heavy charges on the revenue of comparatively distant periods, leaving the difficulty to be provided for in future Sessions, and perhaps by future Parliaments. But he would now confine himself to the first year of the operation of the Government plan. The right hon. Gentleman anticipated an increase of from 15,000 to 20,000 tons in the consumption of the present year. Under ordinary circumstances it was scarcely usual to impugn the calculations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he must say that even if this increase did take place, the right hon. Gentleman bad no right to use one farthing of it as a set-off against the loss involved in his plan; because the right hon. Gentleman must have had that increase in view when be made his financial calculations for the year; and the noble Lord must have contemplated the same increase when he told the House that be thought the Customs duties for the year would amount to 19,720,000l. On a former occasion be had argued that the accounts for the four months which had elapsed of the present year, did not justify the anticipations of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to increased consumption, and he was sorry to say that those anticipations now seemed still less likely to be verified. On the previous day the accounts for the fifth month had made their appearance, so that they bad now the means of comparing the first five months of 1848 with the corresponding period of 1847; and it must be borne in mind that even the first five months of 1848 showed a great fall in price, and that no corresponding advantage could he expected in the seven last months of this year as com-pared with the corresponding seven months of last year. Although the right hon. Gentleman ought to be able to show an increase of 7,000 or 8,000 tons in the first five months, those five months exhibited no increase whatever, but a decrease of 18,000 cwt. as compared with the first five months of 1847. There was consumed in the first five months of 1847, 2,473,000 cwts.; in the first four months of 1848, 2,455,500 cwts. But it was the consumption in the last of the five months which afforded the best indication, because it was only then that there had been anything like an equality in price. The fifth month of 1847 showed a price not very different from that in the corresponding month of 1848, and, therefore, presented a test of the consuming power of the country. In that month the consumption in 1847 was 569,000 cwt.; in the fifth month of 1848 it was 511,000 cwt., showing a decrease of nearly 60,000 cwts. in the consumption for this month. He thought it hardly possible that the right hon. Gentleman could adhere to his computation in the face of such evidence. The right hon. Gentleman thought that, because there was a great increase of consumption, without any marked change of price, in 1846, he might anticipate a very great increase in 1848. Why, the year 1846 was a year of almost unparalleled energy in every species of commercial enterprise and expenditure. There had since been a great contraction of that energy, and the right hon. Gentle-man had no right to draw the inference which he had drawn. Now, the right hon. Gentleman must forgive him for saying that although he (Mr. Gladstone) was sensible of the disadvantage of connecting with the immediate question before the Committee the general finances of the country, yet he could not but look at the deficiency which existed in the revenue—a deficiency which was rather threatening to become chronic—and remember that all plans affecting either the receipt or expenditure of public money necessarily involved some discussion on the state of the finances. The right hon. Gentleman had, in the course of those discussions, given the House another view of the finances of the country during the year, and bad sent forth from those walls a word which had been music to the ears of the commercial world, when he spoke of a deficiency of half a million in the revenue of the country, instead of the two millions which be had previously given them reason to expect. That question was so essentially connected with the present one, and be was so sensible of the danger of augmenting the deficit without some clear explanation of the mode in which the deficit was to be supplied, that he must make some reference to the right hon. Gentleman's calculations. The right hon. Gentleman bad estimated a saving, including the militia, of 685,000l. If that saving were a reality, it must afford to all the greatest satisfaction; at all events, it was a good item in the amount. The right bon. Gentleman also spoke of an improve- ment in his revenue. He was at a loss to reconcile those calculations of the right hon. Gentleman with what had appeared on the previous day; but still, knowing the superiority of the right hon. Gentleman's means of information, he would assume that in that respect also the right hon. Gentleman was correct, and that, combining reduced expenditure with augmented revenue, the right hon. Gentleman stood before the House 1,000,000l. better off, so far, than he did in the month of February, when he presented to the House his financial statement. But really with respect to the next item—the 500,000l. which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to raise from what he called "appropriations in aid"—he thought they would not be doing justice either to themselves or to the country if they regarded that as affording any real change in the financial condition of the country. It was merely a disguise—it was taking that which should go in diminution of estimates next year to fill up a portion of the deficiency of the present year; and he thought it would be a very great misfortune were it treated in any other manner. It was a financial expedient which might he recommended by convenience; but it would be a practical fallacy if a statement were sent forth to the country in which that 500,000l. was included, and if they spoke of that as a real reduction of expenditure. There was, therefore, 500,000l. more to be added to the deficiency of 500,000l. stated by the right hon. Gentleman, besides the 300,000l. which, it was perfectly plain, the plan of the Government with respect to sugar would cost. There was also that anomalous head of expenditure, which he trusted would one day, and at an early one, change its form; but which they had heard of for several years past under the name of the navy excess, and the periodical visits of which had been so regular, that they might be counted upon next year. He felt no doubt that a vote for navy excess might be expected next year, and that it was much more likely to exceed than to fall short of the last amount, namely 30,000l. Thus it appeared there was the 500,000l. of deficiency, which the right hon. Gentleman had acknowledged; there was the 500,000l., which was only apparently covered by the appropriations in aid; there was 300,000l. taken conjecturally on account of navy excess; and there was a loss of 300,000l. to be sustained from the sugar scheme of the Government. And, therefore, he said, if they wished to conceal nothing, but to look circumstances fairly in the face, they must confess that there was a deficiency of 1,600,000l. upon the estimates for the year. He could not regard the deficiency of the present year in the same light as if it had been the first deficiency which they had had to encounter. A single deficiency was in itself a matter of small consequence; but there was a fatal tendency in one deficiency to entail another, and while it was the fatal tendency of the House of Commons to refuse to make up a deficiency in one year, that tendency acquired still greater force in the next. Last year the House had to submit to a measure which was undoubtedly contrary to every safe and sound principle: they were obliged to consent to the borrowing of a large loan in a time of peace. But the Government pleaded, in justification, the extraordinary circumstances of the times; and they said, that so sensible were they that extraordinary circumstances alone could justify such a measure, that in the very next year they would proceed, not only to equalise income and expenditure, but likewise to make provision for the rapid absorption and repayment of the loan. Of that absorption and repayment the House had heard nothing whatever; but a very considerable deficiency had been presented. Now he was not prepared to admit that it was to the indisposition of the House of Commons to decrease the deficiency that its continuance was ascribable. If he were asked to say why, in his opinion, the House of Commons had intimated, by certain unmistakeable signs, that it declined the proposition of a 5 per cent income tax, he must declare that he did not believe it was because the House was unwilling to equalise income with expenditure; he believed it was because the House, concurring in the sentiment which was mildly expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Mr. F. Baring), on the night when the noble Lord made his financial statement, doubted whether there had been a fair consideration of what was due to the principles of public economy, and, in point pf fact, had not that confidence in the Government estimates which it was desirable the House should entertain. That, he believed in his heart and conscience, was the reason why the House of Commons declined the proposal made by the Government, not because there was a cowardly disposition to flinch from one of the most painful, but at the same time one of the most essential and important of its duties, namely, to make provision for meeting the expenses of the year. It was because last year was an extraordinary year that he thought the House of Commons were bound to exercise peculiar jealousy as regarded the deficiency in the pro-sent year. If last year were an extraordinary one, it was the more necessary to draw a broad line between that year and ordinary years. If after having had in an extraordinary year a large deficiency, they allowed a deficiency to pass in an ordinary year without making efforts to supply it, what prospect had they for the future? What right had they to suppose that there would be more courage in another Session, supposing the depression which now existed should continue; and who could say that it would not? It was very well to entertain holes, and he should be sorry to create gloom by representing the case as darker than it really was; but this the must say, that they had no right to assume, as a matter of certainty, that the condition of trade and the demand for employment in this country would be better twelvemonths hence than they were then. He regretted to say, that the returns of the trade of the country during the present year did not show any improvement as compared with last year. It appeared that the exports of British manufactures, which in the first five months of 1846 amounted to 20,600,000l., and in the first five months of 1847 to 20,800,000l. had sunk in the first five months of 1847 to 17,946,000l. He believed, too, that he was correct in stating, that a very large part indeed of the falling-off was during the fifth month; and therefore the signs of revival, whatever they were, must be considered as existing more in hope than in possession. It was the duty of parliament to look circumstances fairly in the face. The right hon. Gentleman, instead of an improvement, might have next year to report a further decline in the trade of the country; and if, after the House had had in 1847 a largo loan, and in 1848 a large deficiency—if, in 1849, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to show that the circumstances of the country were worse than in 1848, he was afraid he would have but too plausible reasons for requesting the House of Commons to tolerate a third year a deficiency, saying, "In 1848 it was thought wise to tolerate a deficiency, and now the public necessity for toleration has become more evident." He could not refrain from expressing, in the most definite terms, his opinion that neither the Government nor the House of Commons would discharge its duty if this Session should come to a close without their having taken effectual measures for equalising the income and expenditure of the year. It Would not do merely, by small alterations, to bring the two a little nearer, and by ingenious expedients to reduce the deficiency; it would not do to depend upon expedients which did not go to the root of the evil. Why depend upon some communication of the previous statements? It was their duty at all times, but especially then, after the precedent of last year, to act upon that principle of equalising income with expenditure, which—although undoubtedly many higher, and more inspiring, and more ennobling subjects might come under consideration—after all, constituted one of the first and most essential duties of the House of Commons. Therefore he felt it necessary to enter his protest against the voting away of largo sums of public money which the han of the Government would, as was confessed by the right hon. Gentleman, draw from the revenue during the first year of its operation, until the House had from the Government a distinct pledge that it was their intention to propose, as a Government, and to urge forward with all the powers they possessed, measures for equalising the income and expenditure of the year. He held it to be an excellent feature of the plan of his hon. Friend, that he did not thus tamper, in the face of a large deficiency, with the public revenue. He protested entirely against the assault made made upon his hon. Friend by the right hon. Gentleman, who taunted him by saying that the demand for a reduction in the duty on sugar was a demand which had boon universally made by the colonists who had petitioned the Legislature. His hon. Friend did not propose to vote away money every farthing of which was already pledged for the existing expenditure of the country. No sane statesman or financier wishing to effect a reduction of 4s. in the sugar duties, and being able to effect it, would, after the experience of late years, distribute that reduction over four years instead of making it at once. The effect of these small reductions was, that although they ultimately found their way into price, and therefore into consumption, they did not immediately exercise any sensible stimulus, or, any restoring power on the revenue. It was pretty well established as a general principle, that it was good economy to make reductions, not by dribblets of the kind proposed, but by such an amount of reduction as would materially act on consumption, and therefore have a visible effect in restoring the revenue; and if that were so, it was hard that those who were against a reduction shilling by shilling should be charged with being against redaction altogether. He utterly protested against the calculations of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the increase of consumption. He protested against them because he thought them—he would not say impossible, but improbable, and, therefore, very unsafe to assume as certain. But especially did he protest against them, because, even if they were sound and true, the right hon. Gentleman must have taken credit for them before in his estimates of the income for the year; and he had no right to take credit for them twice over, or to regard them as a set-off against the loss which would be sustained by the revenue if the Bill passed the Legislature as it stood. He thought that, in justice to the colonies, it was right that some modification of the Government plan should be introduced. He thought the Government ought to go further; and if they did not, he should hold himself perfectly free to vote with his hon. Friend in the ulterior stages of his proposal, though he was greatly opposed to any increase of the differential duty. At the same time he felt that in supporting his hon. Friend's present proposal, he was supporting that which was for the future and permanent welfare of the country.


said, that though he did not complain of the general subject introduced by the right hon. Gentleman, he must say that his speech was devoid of that fairness which generally characterised his addresses. He never heard a speech more tinged with a desire to fix imputations on those who were politically opposed to the speaker. The right hon. Gentleman began by stating that he thought the measure proposed by the Government with regard to sugar was, financially speaking, of a dishonest character. [Mr. GLADSTONE begged to withdraw the expression; he had meant that it was a dangerous and delusive kind of measure.] He had not supposed that the right hon. Gentleman intended to impute moral dishonesty. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was a most improper course to make a statement which would apply to the revenue of future years; but when he recollected that the right hon. Gentleman was one of that Administration which introduced a measure as to the timber duties, dealing with that article of consumption and taxation precisely in the same manner as Government had dealt with the article of sugar, he thought the right hon. Gentleman must have a very short memory to make such a charge against the Government. But there was another statement of the right hon. Gentleman which he had heard with still more astonishment; the right hon. Gentleman, had told us that we were considering the finances of what was called an ordinary year in the history of this country. How the right hon. Gentleman could call this an ordinary year was a matter of astonishment. If it had been an ordinary year, looking at the manner in which this country had borne up under the pressure of what he must call most extraordinary circumstances, his conviction was that we should already have been in the spring-tide of returning prosperity. When he looked at the manner in which this country had supported the deprivation of the European markets, which struck so fatal a blow to the industry of the manufacturing districts, although the exports had fallen off in consequence of those events; yet when he looked at the manner in which the consumption had been kept up, and in which the internal trade had been supported, he must say that the country never exhibited a stronger proof of the solidity of its resources, of the buoyancy of its commercial greatness, and of the manner in which it was able, under adverse circumstances, to weather a great political storm. The right hon. Gentleman had adverted to the returns just laid on the table of the House, from the Board of Trade, containing an account of the consumption during the last month, as compared with the corresponding month of last year. It was true that there was a considerable diminution in the consumption of sugar; but he would invite the attention of the House to other articles, which indicated, quite as much as sugar, the consumptive power of this country. Look at the article of tea. So far from falling off, tea had considerably increased. In the month ending the 5th of June, 1847, 3,690,000 lbs. of tea, in round numbers, were consumed; in the corresponding month of this year 4,900,000 lbs. were consumed, showing a very considerable increase in the consumption of that article, which showed most of all, the power of consuming in this country. In coffee there was certainly a falling-off in the consumption, in the month, but it was not considerable; and on looking at the five months of 1847 and 1848, there was a still less diminution in the quantity of consumption of coffee. If the right hon. Gentleman would extend his view beyond sugars, he would agree that there was a most satisfactory and gratifying proof of the manner in which the condition of the country had borne up under circumstances which had crushed and ruined the commerce of our neighbours. He would not follow the right hon. Gentleman in his remarks on the finances of this country into any detail. They would doubtless have other opportunities of discussing this subject; and he was unwilling to interfere with the progress of the debate, which, he hoped, was approaching its termination, on the sugar duties, by entering into that wide field of discussion which the right hon. Gentleman had not improperly introduced. As to the proposal immediately before the House, he must say that he preferred decidedly the proposal of the Government to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster. The scheme of the Government terminated in a general duty, and all sugars were to be admitted at 10s., whilst the hon. Member levied a duty of 14s. There were two interests which it was most important to attend to in discussing this subject—he meant the interests of the West Indian planter, which all were desirous of improving by legitimate means, and also the interests of the consumer; and he believed that in this respect the interests of the consumer and planter were strictly indentical—he believed that it was to the increased consumption of sugar in the market of this country that the planter must look, in the long run, as the best chance of supporting his own interests as a sugar producer; and he could not agree that the difference of price between 14l. or 10s. would be immaterial in affecting the markets in this country, nor could he agree with the right hon. Gentleman in the objection he raised against the plan of the Government, viz., that it produced the diminished price, not by a sudden fall, but by a dropping scale. He heard all these objections to a dropping scale with some surprise, considering the quarter from whence they came. He believed that a dropping scale was, for the first time, introduced into the legislation of this coun- try by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member. When the Legislature had determined on altogether reducing the protection heretofore given to articles of general consumption, be was by no means sure that there were not great advantages in arriving at the abolition of protection by means of a dropping scale. He admitted that the certainty of a falling market was always an inconvenient thing for those who had to deal with that market; but when this principle was applied to articles of general consumption, the evil was very much abated. At the same time, if they proceeded on the principle that the duty was at some fixed period certain to terminate, and if the termination was necessarily foreseen by all those engaged in the purchase or consumption of this article, they could in no way avoid the same inconvenience, the same embarrassment to trade, the same paralysis of the market necessarily arising from the contemplation of this reduction of duty. They could not deal with it as a question of immediate reduction of the duty, where the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to come down, taking the country by surprise, and announcing his intention of abolishing a duty. Here was a ease where you necessarily foresaw, long before the intention to terminate the duty, that you must provide for that; in that case you had only a choice between two difficulties—either you must have this dropping scale, the disadvantages of which he admitted, but which were counterbalanced by being applied gradually to articles of general consumption; or you must do that which would be the result of the scheme of the hon. Member for Leonister—all at once suddenly and abruptly terminate the duties. He believed that the evil effects of adopting a course of that sort would be greater as to sugar, than by allowing the duty to terminate by a dropping scale. What would be the consequence? This sudden alteration of duty would act as a dam, throwing back an immense mass of sugar, which would be kept from coming into the market, but would be poured on the market like au avalanche afterwards. He believed that the embarrassment would be greater by the plan of the hon. Member for Leominster than by the plan of Government, which would gradually equalise the duties. He had stated that he believed the plan of the Government to be more advantageous both to the consumer and to the West Indian planter; and he thought that the hon. Member for Leominster did not profess to put very high, as regarded the planter, the advantages of his plan over the plan of Government; but there was another great interest to be considered—he meant that of the revenue. He was not sanguine enough to believe that, spread over a period of years, introduced gradually, as it would be, by the plan of the Government, that the increase of consumption would, even with regard to the revenue, make up for any apparent loss which there might be in the difference of the two plans. It was impossible for any one who had followed this subject at all, not to be aware how very sensitive the article of sugar was as to any diminution of price. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn had supplied the House, in that very elaborate report which he had prepared for the Committee, with details calculated with industry and ability, and had given some curious information and calculations on this part of the subject. The noble Lord had collected, for a series of years, a list of prices, by which they were able to see the operation of price on the consumption of sugar during the last twenty-five years; and if any hon. Member looked at the statement, he would see how any fall of price affected the consumption of sugar; but he would also find that even, independently of the diminution of price, the tendency had been in this country to increase the consumption of sugar; for there were some instances where the price remained as it was; and yet, notwithstanding that, comparing one year with the preceding, you were struck with the tendency to increased consumption. He found, for instance, that in 1837 there was a fall of 6s. 3d., and an increase in the consumption, in round numbers, of 22,000 tons. In 1839 there was a rise of 5s. 6d., and a diminution of 9,500 tons. In 1840 there was a rise of 10s. 4d., and a diminution of consumption to 11,000 tons. In 1841 there was a fall of 8s. 8d., and the increase of consumption 23,000 tons. In 1845 there was a fall of 11s. 9d., and the consumption increased 38,000 tons. In 1846 the change in price was unimportant, and yet the consumption was further increased by 17,300 tons. In 1847 there was a farther fall of 6s., and the increase 29,400 tons. He thought, therefore, that there was a disposition on the part of the public to increase the consumption, and, therefore, this diminution of duty, although it did not appear con- siderable in figures, yet operating on a state of things having a tendency in that direction, would increase that tendency; and they might therefore fairly calculate that the plan of Government would materially tend to that which would be a common benefit to the planter in the West Indies, to the consumer, and to the revenue, viz., a continued increase in the consumption of sugar. He believed the measure to be founded on sound principles in all these respects. It might not be so bold, or go so far, as might be warranted; but he believed that every part was founded on just and sound principles, and, believing that, he was sanguine of the result of the effects it was likely to produce. He could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that this was a wildly tampering with the finances of the country; on the contrary, he believed that his right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had taken a just view of the effects of this measure on the finances of the country. With regard to the present year, what he understood his right hon. Friend to state was this: that though he understood there was a considerable diminution of revenue, in this sense, that if the duty was not altered, and the consumption of sugar was left untouched, we should get more money from sugar than we could now expect if the House adopted the Motion of Government, yet that the whole revenue would by no means fall off to the degree the calculation would assume. He believed, that from the quantity of sugar likely to come in, from the low price of sugar likely to ensue in the next year, that we might fairly anticipate increased consumption during the ensuing year, which would bring up the revenue as far as his right hon. Friend had anticipated. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford reproached the Government that a considerable quantity of sugar had come into the market at a rate of duty which the Government did not intend, and had complained of the effects which that would produce on the revenue and on the West Indian interest. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he very much regretted the circumstance: it was not the fault of the Government that it took place. He remembered that a few nights ago, when Government thought it right fully to apprise the House of the situation in which they stood in this respect, that the right hon. Member said, he agreed that this ought not to take place. He intimated, apparently with the consent of the feelings of the Gentlemen opposite, that it should he arranged that the debate should terminate on the ensuing evening, so as to enable Government to report the resolution in time to prevent the occurrence taking place, which he regretted; he did not think it a seemly thing in the commercial legislation of this country, that sugar should come in at a rate of duty which was not the intention of Parliament. This was the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford, which, he thought, met with very general assent on the part of the House. But from what quarter did the obstacle come to this arrangement? Who were the parties who insisted on protracting the discussion which had already gone to a great length; and who were the cause of this flood of sugar having unexpectedly broken in upon us? To his surprise the proposal to adjourn the debate came from the able and distinguished Member of the West Indian body; it was moved by the hon. Member for Leominster, supported by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, who had taken an active and prominent part on the side of the West Indians, and by the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Member for the University of Oxford, who said they were not satisfied with the discussion. The reproach, therefore, came with a bad grace from that quarter. He should not have referred to it if the right hon. Gentleman had not made apointed attack on the Government for this casualty, and said they had been throwing away the public money, and perplexing the commerce of the country. He could not admit that they ought to have introduced this measure sooner. In such protracted discussions as it was now the habit to enter into, he knew not how early Government ought to introduce a measure to bring it to a satisfactory termination. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, whilst he taunted Government with the lavish manner in which they had been playing with the public money, intimated a disposition on his part to go further than they had at the expense of the public treasury. If the right hon. Gentleman intended to propose large grants of relief, he must say, that he thought the right hon. Gentleman's scheme was at least open to as much blame as the measure of Government. Her Majesty's Ministers had a sincere desire to go as far and do as much for the relief of the suffering interest in the West Indies, as they could do consistently with their duty to other classes; above all, they had refrained from not proceeding further in the path of higher protective duties and the longer continuance of the system of protection, because they were satisfied that such a course was not for the real interests of the West Indies themselves, and would inflict an unjust and unnecessary burden on the consumers of this country, and make an unnecessary sacrifice of the public revenue. He would still repeat what he had stated on a former occasion, that if he could have believed that the return of prosperity in the West Indies could be occasioned by increased protection, he was so sensible of the distress in those colonies, and so ready to admit that in many instances it could he traced to the vacillating legislation of the country, that he should have been prepared to go a great length in that direction; but he was fully satisfied that increased protection, so far from helping the West Indies to extricate themselves from embarrassment and difficulty, would only have clogged their efforts, and deprived them of the chances of profiting by the improved condition of commerce.


The debate upon this question, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) says, very justly, has been a very protracted one; but it has not continued one hour longer than the distress of the West India planters and the importance of the subject demand. These discussions, if abortive in some respects, have been at least useful in this—they have been fertile in very significant admissions on the part of the advocates of free trade. On three occasions have one or other of these admissions been made. The third has been made to-night by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. In the debates on free trade, by the advocates of that system, it has always hitherto been held—in contradiction to the views of the protectionists—that free trade would not produce a fall in the rate of wages; on the contrary, that it would raise them. In the present discussion, however, almost every free-trade speaker has declared that the protection which this country has afforded to the West India produce has so sustained the rate of wages as to annihilate all profit to the planter; and that one of their principal reasons for refusing additional protection at the present moment to the West Indies, is their desire to lower the rate of wages in those colonies. This is the first admission. Again, on all previous occasions it has been argued by the free-trade school that the only principle which governs, or which should govern, the operations of trade, is that of supply and demand; and yet, when the opponents of slavery show the stimulus that has been given to the slave trade by the admission to this market, since 1846, of the slave-grown sugar of Cuba and Brazil, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) denies the tendency as well as the fact: thus giving the go-by to the doctrine which at other times he would have been among the first to profess, namely, that an important increase in the demand for the products of slave labour, must operate as a stimulus to the traffic in slaves. Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman has just admitted that some portion of the industry of the country must be in a sound state to account for the revenue not falling off more than it has, at a time when the export trade, hitherto considered by his school the mainstay of the revenue, has declined so materially, and when every branch of manufactures is in a state of prostration and distress. But he forgot to remind the House that that sound part of the industry of the country is its agricultural interest; which, from the great population composing it, and from the late remunerating price of its produce, has sustained the revenue at a time when disaster and ruin have visited every other interest. And this is not the only period when the power of the agricultural interest has exhibited itself. During the French revolutionary war, when such an amazing amount of taxation and of loans were extracted from the property and industry of the country, it was also the flourishing state of our agriculture that mainly supported us in that mighty struggle: for the increase of the export trade during that war was comparatively small. This is the interest, the safety of which you are next year also about to expose to risk. You found at the commencement of this Session two interests more free than the rest from distress, and in the meddling spirit which has characterised our legislation of late years, you proceeded to tamper with them. I allude to the copper-mining and shipping interests. Next year comes the consummation, in the withdrawing of all protection from agriculture. Then, if the present state of depression continue, or if another should ensue, in what predicament will be the revenue of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I have felt it important to notice these three admissions, and the change that appears to be taking place in the opinions of the free-trade school, especially since to our export trade so many sacrifices are making, and have been made. I pass now to the question more immediately before the House, with the view of stating why I shall feel it my duty to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leominster, in preference to the proposition of Her Majesty's Government. I admit, indeed, that the Government has shown a disposition to appreciate the existence of overwhelming distress in the West Indies; but what I complain of is this, that, in order to ascertain the exact amount of distress, we referred the matter to a Select Committee, and that Committee has made a report of what is absolutely necessary to meet the urgency of the case of West Indian distress. Why did not the Government adopt the recommendation of the Committee? I shall presently show why. It was because they did not, that I was in favour of the Amendment proposed on a late occasion by the hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington). And it is because the recommendation of the Member for Leominster to-night comes nearer to the recommendation of the Committee than the Government scheme, that I feel bound to support it. Was that Committee improperly constituted in favour of protection? It was, indeed, a packed Committee, as too many Committees are, against any change in the law of 1846; but such was the indomitable energy of my noble Friend the Member for Lynn (Lord George Bentinck), and such the overpowering force of truth, that even an adverse Committee was compelled to a decision contrary to the preconceived opinions of the majority of its Members. If, then, Committees are not to become utterly useless, and an object of mockery, some attention should be paid to their recommendations, especially to the report of one so constituted as this was, and one whose labours were so ably and zealously conducted. If the country was fully aware of the difficulty of obtaining a verdict favourable to the truth from a Committee adverse to the truth being told, they would more appreciate the triumph of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn. Having lately sat myself upon a packed Committee, namely, that on Commercial Distress, I at least know how very difficult it is to obtain a report in accordance with the evidence, when the majority of the Commit- tee is from the first determined that no evidence shall affect their minds. Four months we sat upon that Committee on Commercial Distress; no impartial jury, sitting upon the evidence we took, would hesitate as to its condemnation of the Bank Act of 1844; any indifferent day of the sitting of the Committee, the majority would certainly have condemned the Act of 1844. But when the report had to he discussed and determined on, down came four or five Members who had virtually never attended, and helped to a decision contrary to evidence, but in accordance with the opinion of those who originally constituted or rather packed the commit-tee. The question has sometimes been asked, what is a pound? My hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) is about to answer that question. What is a patriot? was asked in the last century; Sir Robert Walpole gave to that question a very significant reply. What is a patron? Dr. Johnson asked in his celebrated letter to Lord Chesterfield; and he said something about encumbering with help when the time had passed by for assistance to be welcome. In the same spirit, might not any one now ask, what is a Committee? and might it not be a true though melancholy reply to make, "A Committee is composed of a set of refractory Members that will stir a question on which the public is very anxious, but which it is inconvenient to the Minister to have agitated, who are confined in a room of the House of Commons until the public excitement on the question on which they are sitting has in some degree subsided; and then when they have, like Dr. Johnson's client, been buffeting with the waves of evidence till they were nearly exhausted, just as they reach the shore of their report, down come some half-dozen influential Members in the shape of patrons, to encumber with help those Members of the Committee who have really attended and made themselves masters of the subject; in other words, to strangle the truth which has been brought out in evidence, and to pass a report in contradiction to it." One of my strongest grounds for supporting additional protection to the West Indian body at the present moment is this, that we are in the midst of the free-trade experiment. Can any one fairly pronounce that it has as yet succeeded? I have always wished, after the measure passed, to give it a fair trial. I hope it may succeed; as yet, however, for my own part, I can see no proof of its success. But can it for a moment be supported in argument that a great interest like that of the West Indies should be risked, while your free-trade experiment is in doubt? Unless, indeed, it be wished that this House should experience the unenviable feelings of the judge who, on insufficient evidence, has condemned an innocent victim to the gallows; and that we should, on some future day, have to discover with remorse that the West Indies have been exterminated by mistake. I know, indeed, with what confidence it has been always predicted by its advocates, with less confidence at present indeed, than usual, that free-trade must succeed. I know how on this subject assumption has passed for argument, and assertion for fact. But arrogance and confidence are no qualities of wisdom. Truth requires to be entreated by impartial inquiry and patient thought. Folly is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that she knows so little. I am not, therefore, to be led away by confident predictions; experience I must still consider as the best test of truth; for as there is no royal road to knowledge, neither is there any Manchester way to commercial truths. It is plain, therefore, to my mind, that prudence dictates that we should wait the issue of the experiment of free trade, before proceeding further in that direction with respect to the West India interest; and I feel assured from the line taken by the Government on this question, that they would have at once yielded to the report of the Committee, instead of halting between two opinions, had it not been for their fear of its ill effects upon the revenue. They feel that the West Indian planter has been unfairly used by Parliament, and on that ground alone they would have respected the re-port of the Committee; and they certainly ought. I was myself a party to the Emancipation Act. No one dreamed at that time of the West Indies ever being exposed to the competition of slave labour; no one dreamed but that such laws and regulations would have been permitted by the mother country for the management of the emancipated negroes of the West India colonies, as would have given to our planters there a fair supply of free labour. But so perverse has been the rule of this country with respect to any reasonable control of the free negro, and so jealous of the planter, that he has been virtually deprived of a supply of free labour, and yet is con- demned to compete with slave labour; and then the obstructions placed in the way of the immigration of free labour from other sources, has been a virtual denial of the only remedy the planter could propose for himself. Parliament, therefore, has not kept the spirit of its engagement with the West Indies. Whether the letter has been observed, I will not consent that a great country should ask. No one but a scrivener or a knave takes refuge in the letter, when the spirit of an agreement is notorious and patent against him. But the Government urges that the revenue will suffer. What is this but to say that we cannot afford to he just. We were once a rich and generous nation; are we reduced to be a poor and shabby one? The two principal objections the Government urge against the increased protection which the Committee recommends, and which is so essential to the continuance of sugar cultivation in the West Indies, are, that it will be hard upon the consumer, and that the revenue will suffer. I should be sorry to injure the consumer; still I cannot wish him to consume what is produced by crime. But who is this mysterious animal called the consumer, who is made the bugbear of all the discussions on matters of this kind? Napoleon used to call us a nation of shopkeepers; which meant, I presume, that we were a nation of producers. If we are to pass law after law, however, the effects of which are to deprive one class of producer after another of the means of making a profit from their trade, and of the means of employing labour, I want to know where their power to consume is to come from. In the free-trade debates protection was sometimes called a system of mutual robbery; but under the new order of things, we are to become rich by ruining one trade after another and to become fat and prosperous by a system of mutual exhaustion. Sir, I know of no consumer in the simple sense of the word, but the placeman, the pensioner, the annuitant, and the Jew. All other classes depend for their means of consumption on the profit of their production, that is to say, on remunerating prices and wages. But the lower wages and prices become, the better for the monied interest. If I have 100,000l. left to me, or if I have 80,000l. given to me, my selfish interest might lead me to promote, by all the means in my power a fall in prices and wages; and if I could succeed in procuring a fall of one-half, my 80,000l would then be equivalent in value to 160,000l. It is plain, therefore, to see that the consumer, who is alone such in the strict sense of the word, has an interest directly opposite to that of the producer. But it is of the latter class that the great mass of the community is composed. The state of the revenue, however, we are told, will not admit of our being just to the West Indies. What a commentary is this on the botching and tampering that has taken place with our commercial and monetary legislation for the last thirty years, that we are poorer at the end than we were at the beginning, notwithstanding all the nominal increase in our export trade during that period! Let us not be deluded with the notion that it is a combination of circumstances alone that has created the present deficiency in the Exchequer. The same cause that produced 12,000,000l. of deficit in the six years from 1837 to 1842, has produced the present deficiency, viz., the perverseness of our monetary legislation. Of you who boast of the improvement in our commercial system, I would ask where are those national riches, where is that power of consumption, arising out of profitable production, that enabled the Minister, before you began to tamper with the laws, to exact 40,000,000l. more of taxation from the pockets of an uncomplaining people, than the Minister of the present day can do? What a commentary, I repeat, on the course you have pursued is it to confess, in 1842, that you have arrived at the limit of indirect taxation; and, in 1848, that you had reached the limit of direct taxation; that, instead of the plenty and prosperity which peace used to bring in her train, we have been doomed to the wretched alternative of philosophy and poverty. But the hon. Member for Manchester would not, if he could help it, permit the Government to do the little in the way of justice that they propose to do. No! cheapness at any cost, at any sacrifice—even of morality itself—is the single burden of his song. I cannot understand this position. That the hon. Member is humane, and an advocate of humanity, it would be presumptuous to doubt; but his arguments would seem to show that we are only to be humane when it is convenient. If it is not cheap to be humane, we have no choice but to be cruel. This doctrine reminds one of the advice of some criminal to his son, "Get money, my son; honestly, if you can—but get money." I confess, Sir, I do not see what pretext we can have for putting down crime, if this doctrine is to bear sway. Every highwayman, in his candid mood, would probably acknowledge that he committed crime only because it was inconvenient to him to be honest. And surely, "rogues for their robbery have authority, when judges steal themselves." The hon. Member for Manchester sticks to the Act of 1846, whatever the consequence to the planter or the slave; in the spirit of shylock, he exacts the pound of flesh; he will have nothing but the bond. I think I see him now in court enacting the character of the, Jew, and proclaiming My deeds upon my head; I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond. Are there scales here to weigh the flesh? The hon. Member has them ready. Then I hear the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, in the language of Portia, entreat him, fearing that the strict fulfilment of the Act of 1846 may inflict a deadly blow on the West Indies:— Have by some surgeon, Shylock, at your charge, To stop the wound, lest he do bleed to death. The hon. Member for Manchester— Is it so nominated in the bond? Lord George Bentinck— It is not so expressed, bat what of that, T were well you do so much for charity. The hon. Member for Manchester— I cannot find it—it is not in the bound. No! nor is it ever in the mind of Mammon and of greed to find humanity or justice in the bond. According to Dr. Spurzheim, "there are some people who have always the charity to begin at home;" and so it appears to be with the Manchester school. But the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham), the other night, was a great advocate for cheapness, and against reaction; and appeared to complain of the Duke of Richmond and the Protection Society for being against the first, and in favour of the second. Sir, as far as I know the sentiments of the Duke of Richmond—and on this subject I ought to know them—there is no man in the country more in favour of cheapness, according to the right meaning of that word, than the noble Duke. He is for the cheapness which brings plenty to the poor man's table; he is not for the cheapness we see at present, which robs the master of his profit, and the workman of his wages. He knows, according to the doggrel lines, that— Cheapness is only relative To wages, two to one. One loaf with wages cheaper is, Than two can be with none. The noble Duke is well aware that there are some things which are sweet in the mouth, and bitter in the stomach; and he is shrewd enough to have observed that many who have cheapness on their lips have selfishness in their hearts. The Duke of Richmond is a sincere friend to the labourer, and when he wills the end, be wills the means; he is not the man to delude him by the offer of a cheaper loaf, and then to withhold from him the wages whereby alone he can purchase it. Then, with regard to reaction, the protectionists are not for reaction, unless the ill success of your new system demands it. But surely the right hon. Gentleman will scarcely maintain that if ruin and distress accompany a perseverance in this system, no alteration is to be made. It was well said by Mr. Burke, that "wherever there is abuse there ought to be clamour, for it is better to be waked by the fire-bell, than to be burnt by the flames in our beds." And so with respect to reaction; wherever there is failure there ought to be reaction; for it is better to repent of our misdeeds in time, than doggedly to dare the doom that must otherwise inevitably await them. The protectionists wish to give a fair trial to the new system; they know too well the ill effects upon trade of constant fluctuations in the law to wish for frequent change; but wherever they see symptoms of failure, or a doubt of success, they think it but just to the interest involved to hover in any further application of the experiment to that interest. It is the free trade school which fears to give a fair trial to their own system. The Government has commenced the course of reaction in the proposition they now make to modify the law of 1846. And I can construe the Motion of the Member for Montrose for further Parliamentary reform, into nothing else than unwillingness now to see free trade fairly tested. That movement for reform is in truth a financial movement. In such a state of poverty are both the people and the Exchequer, that increased economy is essential; but this increased economy had not become necessary before you made the last great change in our commercial laws. It is only fair, therefore, to wait for the issue of this great experiment before proceeding to administer any other nostrum. It is only the most arrant quack that continues administering pill after pill, of different descriptions, without waiting to see the effects upon the patient of the various kinds successively exhibited. The regular practitioner, if he sees his patient reeling and staggering under the operation of his prescription, has the prudence to abstain from giving any more of the noxious drug, or at all events has the modesty to give it in minuter doses. This is all I ask for the West Indies. Appearances within the last few days have been indeed somewhat more promising for trade in this country, but little reliance can be placed upon them, if we are to be guided by previous experience. After the momentary pressure of 1825 there were ten years of agricultural and manufacturing depression. After the pressure of 1839, four years elapsed without revival. There are indeed additional elements to be taken into consideration at present, such as the prostration of industry on the Continent, which has brought us money, and may bring comparatively increased real custom. But he would be a bold man who should predict prosperity this time twelve months. The new practice which the Act of 1844 has engendered in the Bank of England of lowering their rate of discount in proportion to the market rate, will however now, as it did immediately after the Act of 1844 passed, contribute more than any other cause to a rapid revival of trade. But the same ultimate consequences will follow again from the appearance of cheaper money under our present monetary system, as have four or five times since the Peace ensued from the same cause. I may illustrate this from what happened, as it is lately, after 1839. Merchants and manufacturers were so disheartened by the sudden rise in the value of money at that time, and the difficulty of getting accommodation, that they abstained from employing money in trade; money accumulated; it became cheap, and at last became so cheap as to tempt them to employ it again in trade, or to engage in railways. The result is well known; and if a deficient harvest had not sent our gold abroad, the system necessarily would, as it will now, if there he a revival of trade from the existence of cheaper money and a lower rate of discount. Cheap money will encourage speculation and mercantile adventure, employ labour and increase consumption, but it will at last turn the balance of trade against us; gold will flow out; the Bank, to protect itself, must again refuse accommodation; ruin must again befall the employers of labour, workmen be again thrown out of work; for distress is the sole means of restoring gold to the Bank. Such is the vicious circle in which we move. Whether, therefore, I look to the monetary system, under which the nation alternately smiles and groans, or to the free-trade experiment we are at present trying, it is impossible for me to look forward to our prospects except with doubt and dismay, either as respects the West Indies or the mother country. If I am to be guided by the principle of duty to my neighbour, which we are told should be the universal rule of conduct, in my treatment of the West India colonies; then whether as regards the planter or the slave, I am bound, if possible, after all we have done, to provide that the free-labour sugar of the West Indies should not be superseded by the slave-labour sugar of Cuba and Brazil: this as respects the planter: and as regards the slave, I ought surely not to hold out that inordinate inducement to an increase of slavery and the slave trade which so direct an encouragement to slave-labour produce must necessarily create. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), indeed, has said, if I am to believe the reports that we see through the usual channels—for I was absent from London at the time—that his constituents prefer cheap sugar to humanity as respects the slave. The question may have been put to them, perhaps, in the way that the repeal of the corn laws was urged upon them, by asking whether they liked a large or small loaf; so in regard to this question, they may have been asked, "Do you like cheap or dear sugar?" But I will never believe, till I know from better authority than that of the hon. Member, that Yorkshiremen have so changed their opinions as to be careless whether or no the cheapness of their sugar is dependent on the unhallowed system of slavery. I know the people of Yorkshire as well as the hon. Member, and I can never believe that the countrymen of Wilberforce, and the electors of Henry Brougham—elected by the enthusiasm of Yorkshire, in the cause of the emancipation of the slave—are such renegades to the conduct and principles which have conferred upon them immortal honour. No, Sir, Yorkshiremen believe that there is one one thing at least more valuable than free trade, and that is freedom itself: and they know that there are some things more valuable even than cheapness, and among these are humanity, justice, principle, and good faith. On those grounds, as I do not wish to see this great country, as respects the West India planters, exact the pound of flesh, in the spirit of Shylock the Jew—as I love freedom, and detest slavery, in whatever from it exists—as I am a Christian—too little in practice, I humbly admit—but as, by profession at least, I am a Christian—as I venerate the divine precept "of do unto others as you would that others should do unto you," I am bound to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leominster.


said, that the right hon. President of the Board of Trade, before he sat down, had emerged from the cloud of dissatisfaction which at the commencement of his speech manifestly hung over his mind, for before the conclusion of his observations it was evident that the usual agreeable tone of his feelings had returned. He believed that the cloud which overspread the mind of the right hon. Gentleman was caused by the analysis of the financial state of the country which had been given by his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, and that the removal of that cloud had been caused by the fact of the right hon. Gentleman having been able to answer two points in the speech of his right hon. Friend; one a small point, as regarded the general subject, namely, the delivery of sugar within the last few days at a lower point of duty than it was intended such sugar should be subject to upon entry: and the other involving a larger question, namely, the question of the revenue generally, and its bearing upon the measure before them, relating to the duties on sugar. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that this arrival of sugar at a duty different from that which was intended, was a casualty; but be must recollect, that on the 30th of May the Government plainly and emphatically told the House that there was then no present intention to make any alteration in the Act of 1846, either as to the amount or duration of the duties imposed by that Act. The Under Secretary for the Colonies would admit that his recollection of the circumstances was correct, more correct than the recollection of the hon. Member: and he would remind the House that on the day following the mail went to the West India colonies, and he had no doubt that the colonists would interpret the statement of the Government as he had done, whilst he knew that those who had sent out orders by that mail had given to those words a similar interpretation. It had been said that the proposition of the hon. Member for Droitwich had caused the delay; but be would ask if it was possible the House of Commons could believe that between the 15th of June and the 16th of July such a question as this, with all its details and the various subjects involved, embracing the whole question of free trade, could be disposed of, and settled? Could the Bill of 1846 and the alterations and amendments which might be suggested in Committee, be expected to be disposed of within that period? The Minister, who brought forward this measure on the 16th of June, could scarcely have expected to have it disposed of on the 16th of July; but be perfectly agreed with the President of the Board of Trade that it would be more "seemly," that was the word the right hon. Gentleman used, that the advantage which had been gained by the recent importation of sugar should not be accidental and casual, but that if it were to occur at all it should have boon with the sanction of the Parliament and the Government. He thought, therefore, that the right hon. President of the Board of Trade had no occasion for triumph in the answer to that part of the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford. The other night the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while the subject of the sugar duties was before the House, struck off at a tangent, and plunged into the question of the revenue—a question which was very interesting, and which was no doubt intimately connected with the sugar duties. His right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford subjected that statement to a close and searching analysis; and he was surprised to bear his right hon. Friend's speech described as devoid of fairness, for he could see nothing in the least approaching to a want of fairness, whilst, so far from any such charge being applicable to it, he had spoken only of certain results, and based all his deductions upon established facts. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be astonished at his hon. Friend having spoken of this as an ordinary year, contrasting it with the year of the famine and the loan of 8,000,000l.; yet the President of the Board of Trade said that this was a year of increasing prosperity and energy, and added that he had documents in his hand which would show that great buoyancy had been exhibited in all the transactions of the country, which under all the circumstances had kept up wonderfully. Now, if that were the case, how, he would ask, could the right hon. Gentleman object to its being taken as an ordinary year, and not included in the same class with the year of the famine. The right hon. Gentleman could not complain of its being treated as an ordinary year, for he said that if it were not for the extraordinary circumstances which had taken place on the continent of Europe, we were on the spring-tide of prosperity. That might explain the view which the right hon. Gentleman took of the state of the finances; but he would ask at what period of the year was the estimate made of the anticipated deficiency of 2,000,000l.? It was made on the 18th of February, and the occurrences on the continent of Europe did not commence until the 25th of February. What magician's wand did the Chancellor of the Exchequer wield which could enable him to foretell a deficiency of 2,000,000l. at a time when he must have had reason to anticipate, according to the right hon. Gentleman, a spring-tide of prosperity for the country, and who could now rejoice in a deficiency, reduced to 1,500,000l., notwithstanding all those occurrences that had taken place on the continent of Europe? But the right hon. President of the Board of Trade was much astonished to hear this argument from his right hon. Friend, because he was formerly in a Government which introduced a descending scale in the timber duties. Now, parallels were always dangerous things; and it would not be difficult to show that in almost every feature there was a most remarkable and decided contrast between the two cases which the right hon. Gentleman had chosen to introduce as parallel to each other. There was no doubt a change in the timber duties as a sacrifice to the revenue, but this was not done before the Exchequer had been replenished. There was a sacrifice of the revenue, but not with the view of making up the difference in some future year. There was, therefore, no parallel. His right hon. Friend was arguing that the Government had no right to come down to that House, having no resources, standing on an empty chest, and to take credit to themselves for reductions in favour of what they called the consumers, knowing as they did that if that deficiency was not supplied, the consumer was the person who must make it up in the shape of taxation. For holding these views his right hon. Friend was charged with being singularly devoid of fairness. He never heard anything fall from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) that deserved the imputation of unfairness; but he was almost entitled to say, when he charged his right hon. Friend with unfairness with regard to those two points, that he might fairly turn the tables upon him. What, however, was the real question before the House? In February the estimate was made for the coming year, and at that time they were determined to maintain the law of 1846. The law of 1846 was more favourable to the revenue than the change they now proposed to make; and, therefore, in February they must have calculated on a far larger sum from the sugar duties than they could do now. They made a certain estimate with regard to the sugar duties; and they had never given any reason why they had varied that estimate. They altered the law so as to make it, on their own showing, less favourable to the revenue; and then they took comfort to themselves by anticipations for which there was no base beyond the hopeful disposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They could form an opinion of the effect of the proposition of the Government as to differential duties, by looking to the consumption of sugar for the first five months of the present year, as compared to those of the last year. It was true the reduction in the amount entered for consumption during the first five months in the present year, was very small as compared with the first five months of the last year; but still there was a diminution in the amount of foreign sugar for the first five months of this year of between eleven and twelve thousand tons as compared with the first five months of last year, though that came in at a higher duty; and they could not in their calculations omit the difference between 13l. and 20l. per ton in differential duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told the House that because the stocks on hand were so large he expected an increased consumption; but the right hon. Gentleman should recollect that there was a diminution of foreign sugar during this year of between 11,000 and 12,000 tons in five months of this year, notwithstanding the higher duty of the former period. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his calculations of the increase to be expected in the consumption of sugar, stated that every sailor at sea consumes 35 lbs. of sugar per head, and calculates that a time will come when every man, woman, and child, in England, Ireland and Scotland, would consume an equal quantity. Thus because a sailor, who at sea is supplied with regular rations, consumes 35 lbs. of sugar, the Chancellor of the Exchequer supposed that a time would come when every man, woman, and child in Great Britain and Ireland was to consume 35 lbs. of sugar. And this was to take place without any change in the circumstances of the population. He wished the Chancellor of the Exchequer had now been present, because he would have taken occasion to refer to his argument about the consumption of tea. Though tea had been so conveniently introduced into this discussion for the purpose of argument, yet, when he endeavoured to point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a great increase would take place in the consumption both of tea and sugar by a reduction of the duties on tea, he found the right hon. Gentleman resolutely determined to adhere to those duties, because the revenue, as he believed, would suffer by their reduction. He must say, however, that he should like to hear something more than the mere hopeful disposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from which expectations of making up a deficient revenue could be drawn. He had shown that in their first estimate they expected a law to be in operation more favourable than that which they now proposed. He had shown that the stocks were not larger than last year, and that therefore no diminution in price could be expected; and after he had pointed out all this, he was still asked to come to the conclusion that from some source or another there was to be an increase of consumption, and a consequent increase of revenue. The right hon. Gentleman complained that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) was not clear in his announcement of his remedies. Now, he wished to remind him that in the Committee a resolution was prepared by the hon. Member for Westbury, and proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, which proposed that the remedy should be applied directly to the planters themselves, and should be in some other shape than protection. Now, the plan of the Government offered to the planter no remedy whatever except protection. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), however, had pointed out other modes in which remedies might be applied; and, if he did not go into the details of those remedies, he exercised a wise discretion. This subject involved the whole state of the negro population, the whole question of immigration from the coast of Africa, and the whole question of loans and grants, as well as the subject of the slave trade; and it was therefore impossible for his right hon. Friend to bring forward a scheme that would be complete without dealing with all these points. Some of them might be dealt with by private Members; but others of them could only be left to the zeal and discretion of Government. If his right hon. Friend, therefore, who was not in office, had done more than shadow forth the general outlines of his remedy, he would have been guilty of culpable rashness. He would not go into details to show why he preferred the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leominster to the scheme of the Government. In the first place, his plan for the first year did not differ from the proposition of the Government. 13th there were two important points of difference: the proposition of the hon. Member for Leominster did not affect the revenue when it could not afford to be affected, and was not open to the objection which applied to the continual recurrence of the descending scale. Protection would not be so given that the West Indian would be always coming to a falling market, while his competitor was coming to a rising market; it would be given in a shape infinitely more beneficial. On the subject of protection to the colonies, he wished to call attention to a single extract from the evidence before the Slave Trade Committee, whose second report had been issued yes-yester-day. He had asked Mr. Moore, the chairman of the Brazilian Association, this question:— You spoke of the effect of the Sugar Act of 1846 on the produce of Brazil; can you tell the Committee whether the Brazilian merchants expected so full a measure in respect to free trade as the Act of 1816?" The answer was, "Certainly not." "Do you know whether the general opinion of the Brazilian merchants was that the measure extended beyond the justice and reason of the case?—At the time I was chairman of the Brazilian Association—and what we always sought was an equitable adjustment of duties; but we never sought to be put on a footing with the colonists—we always looked for some differential duty. And the witness proceeded to say he had always stated that if the cost of production were 17s. in Brazil, and 25s. in Jamaica, 8s. ought to be the differential duty; because, unless it were so, no means would be afforded to the West Indies of coping with Brazil; and when the further question, was put, whether injustice was not done, in his opinion, unless the West Indies were enabled to compete with the foreign producers on equal terms, he answered in the affirmative. That was the opinion of the chairman of the Brazilian Association. And when that body represented the hardship of being unexpectedly exposed, when they had ordered their sugar at one rate of duty, to find another rate demanded, they took the same opportunity of stating to the Board of Trade, in writing, sentiments corresponding with those which he had now read. The plan of his hon. Friend was the best which was open for adoption; it gave the best chance which protection taken by itself was capable of affording. It was the best measure in concurrence with others which could be applied to the relief of the West Indies. It was not open to the objections on the score of revenue to which the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was exposed. With the utmost desire to do what they could for the West Indian colonies, they were bound to combine a more watchful regard to the public revenue, and believing that the plan of the hon. Member for Leominster complied with both conditions, he should give it his most cordial support.


said, the question to decide was, whether the House would adopt the proposal of the hon. Member for Leominster, or the Government proposal? He was desirous of holding the scales impartially, and he hoped any objection he might raise to the hon. Member's proposal would not be set down to a disposition to criticise it unfairly. He had listened with a good deal of surprise to the hon. Member's proposition with respect to the duties on British plantation and foreign sugars. The hon. Member had only noticed brown clayed sugars; but the hon. Member and his Friends were studiously silent on one point, which point he should presently allude to. The hon. Gentleman, from the way in which he placed his propositions before the House, evidently wished them to believe that his duties were in reality merely a continuation of the same scale of duties, with the exception of lowering the existing duty for white clayed sugars. This, however, was far from being the fact, although the hon. Member attempted to show that it was so. The hon. Gentleman said the average between 18s. 6d. for muscovado and 21s. 21d. for brown clayed sugar, amounted to 20s.; but then the hon. Member had forgotten to tell them that the description of sugar to which the duty of 21s. 7d. was to be applied, respected the brown clayed sugar only, that sort of sugar being 95 per cent of all the foreign sugar brought into the market. So that while affecting to give a fair average, the hon. Gentleman's proposition pressed in fact with enormous inequality on the brown and the white clayed sugars. He could easily understand the object of the hon. Member and his Friends, in leaving out all mention of white clayed sugars. He hoped the hon. Member would not take his remark in an invidious light, but he could not help thinking it was natural that the hon. Member should feel a greater anxiety for that interest with which he was more particularly connected, than for the general interests of the whole body of planters. If the hon. Member felt as the Government did, that the interests of the whole of the colonies must be consulted in this question, he would see that it was not just towards a colony not producing a high quality of sugar, to bring that colony into unfair competition with the East India sugars. Now Demerara, with which the hon. Member was connected, produced this high quality of sugar; and by the operation of his proposition it would be exempted from that competition to which a low quality sugar colony would be exposed. He was quite aware that the hon. Member intended that white clayed sugar should come in as common muscovado at 18s. 6d., and that East India sugar should come in at the same rate. But was this fair towards those colonies which did not make these fine sugars? Would it be dealing fairly with these colonies to give the hon. Gentleman's proposition the preference over that of the Government, when the hon. Gentleman said he intended his scale to be of six years' continuance? Practically the hon. Member raised the duty from 18s. 6d. to 21s. 7d. In all respects it would be found that the practical effect of the hon. Member's proposition was to increase the protection given to a particular kind of sugar, very much to the disadvantage of the remaining portion of the colonies. The practical effect of the proposition of a duty of 21s. 7d. on brown clayed sugar, would be to raise the price of all sugar, 1s. 7d. per cwt. It was not disputed that it was the highest duty on foreign sugar, which determined the price of sugar. The proposition of Her Majesty's Govern- ment was for 20s. duty on foreign sugar—the hon. Member's proposition was for 21s. 7d. duty. The first effect, therefore, would he to raise the price of all sugars to the extent of the difference. He had been exceedingly amused at noticing that the right hon. Member for Oxford University and the hon. Member for Liverpool had pertinaciously throughout the discussion insisted on this being a question of revenue, without taking into consideration the interest of the consumer. There was no person in or out of that House, more alive to the necessity of keeping the income of the country equal to the expenditure; but when proposing a measure of this kind it would be idle to expect to relieve an interest in the way the House wished to relieve the colonial interest, without making a sacrifice one way or other. It was necessary to assist the West Indian colonies; that could only be done by an increased price or a diminished duty. It was an unfair way, therefore, of dealing with the question to dwell on the sacrifice Government were obliged to make in their case, and to keep back what would be the effect if the proposition on the other side were adopted. He would under-take to show if the House adopted the propositions of Government that an important saving to the country would be effected—that the interests of the revenue and the consumer would be one and the same thing. The proposition of the hon. Gentleman would have a reverse effect. By the showing of the hon. Gentleman a loss of revenue was to arise, if Her Majesty's Government's proposition were adopted, of—for the first year, 240,000l.; for the second year, 480,000l.; and the next four years, 960,000l. He would admit, if you simply took the number of hundredweights of sugar on which the duty would operate into account, that you would arrive at the conclusions of the hon. Member; but then it would be impossible to deny that an advantage would be gained by a reduction of the duty on foreign sugar, which must be taken into account. It was but fair and right to put the increased consumption against the loss of revenue; and if this increase did not make up for that loss, it would, in his opinion, go a long way towards doing so. But what would be the effect of the proposition of the hon. Member for Leominster? In the first year the increased price of sugar, 1s. 7d., would cause a difference to the consumer of 290,000l. against the 240,000l. which the country would lose. In three years the revenue loss would be 720,000l., while the effect of the hon. Member's proposition would be to increase the price of sugar in the same period by 1,350,000l. And so the matter would go on in the same proportion to the end of the sixth year. At the end of that period the increased cost of sugar would be 2,400,000l. as compared with the proposition of Her Majesty's Government. Whether the proposition of the hon. Member was looked at in a revenue point of view, or as affecting the sugar consumer, it would be seen that the measure of Her Majesty's Government had an enormous advantage over it. He thought the right hon. the Member for Oxford university would not deny that while a scale of duty was dropping, consumption rapidly increased. This could not occur in the case of the hen. Member for Leominster. It was unlikely that an increased consumption would follow increased price. He would ask hon. Members to consider what would be the position of the West Indies in six years hence, if the measures proposed by the other side of the House were carried out?—what would be the position of the colonies in 1854 without protection, and exposed to increased competition? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University found a difficulty with regard to the nature of the Amendment, and he advised an increased protection to the West Indies under particular circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the great sacrifice of revenue, and he found fault with Her Majesty's Government for proposing this sacrifice. But the right hon. Gentleman proposed no plan himself by which the revenue was to be increased; and it seemed odd to hear the right hon. Gentleman talk of increasing the amounts proposed by Her Majesty's Government by way of relief, in the shape of advances to the colonists. Though Her Majesty's Government proposed to advance 500,000l. for emigration purposes, yet the noble Lord distinctly said he had no objection, if it were thought to be the most desirable plan, to advance a portion of the money for public improvements, or in other ways, so as to avoid the inconvenience of making private loans. The right hon. Member for Oxford university made much objection to the dropping scale proposed by Her Majesty's Government. But the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had stated that mischief was likely to occur in a dropping scale, if that scale dropped gradually, and if it were known when these changes were to take place. The great tendency to an increase in the consumption of sugar had frequently been alluded to in the course of that debate; and as that tendency formed an important part of the foundation of the measure of Her Majesty's Government, both as regarded the relief to be given to the West Indies and the price to the consumer, he could not dwell too much upon it. It would be in the remembrance of hon. Members in that House, that, for many years antecedent to the alteration of the duties in 1845 by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the consumption of sugar had remained stationary. In the year 1830, it was 202,000 tons; in the year 1843, it was 203,000 tons; and in no year between those two periods did it exceed 206,000 tons: so that a very slight fluctuation took place during the space of thirteen or fourteen years, while the duties were so high as to be almost prohibitory to the increase of consumption. What was the effect of the altered duties in 1845 upon the consumption? Sugar rose to 244,000 tons; and in 1846, such was the effect of the further reduction of duty, that the consumption increased to 261,000 tons. In the further reduction which took place last year, the consumption rose to 290,000 tons; and he would ask the hon. Gentleman opposite if they now adopted the proposition of the hon. Member for Leominster, and kept the duty stationary for the next seven years, what right had he to calculate that they should have a material increase in the consumption of sugar for the next six years? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford attempted to lead them away when talking of the increase of consumption, by alluding to the reduction of the colonial duties, year by year, to the extent of a single shilling; but by such imperceptible steps, no materially increased consumption could be expected. In another part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he at once admitted that it was not a small or gradual reduction, but a sudden and large one, which caused an increase of consumption. Both the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, and the hon. Member for Liverpool, appeared much more disposed to turn this question into a debate upon the revenue question, than into a debate upon the sugar duties. If the proposal of Her Majesty's Government were adopted, he was prepared to contend that the increased consumption during the next six years would be such as to leave the revenue harmless during that period. The hon. Gentleman must not ask the House to compare the plan of the Government with the law of 1846; but the House must take it in comparison with the proposed Amendment, and consider their relative effects. If they considered it as a question of revenue, they were entitled, in supporting the measure of Her Majesty's Government, to take the whole increased consumption arising from the descending scale of foreign duties, and the increased revenue derived from that increased consumption. The hon. Member for Liverpool said that the returns of the Board of Trade for the last five months showed a decrease in the amount consumed. He was quite willing to admit that; but if the right hon. Gentleman had reflected for a single moment, he would have discovered—intimate as he must be with the proceedings of the Board of Trade and general commercial transactions—that there was a very easy answer to be given. It was quite true that up to the 5th of May, the consumption of sugar did show an increase of 200 tons as compared with the last year, and that the consumption up to the 5th of June showed a diminution, as compared with the last year, of 900 tons; but did not the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the West Indian Committee had been sitting for four months previously, and had made a report recommending an increased protection of 10s., and that those who were connected with the sugar trade looked forward to the 5th of July, when there was to be a diminution of foreign duty to the extent of 1s. 6d.? In the face of all that, did the hon. Gentleman believe that the refiner would add to his stock more than, or as much as, the usual quantity? [An Hon. MEMBER: In what sort is the falling off?] In all sorts. When they were aware that half of the whole quantity of raw sugar taken out of bond was taken to the refiners', and they knew that the refiners had an eye fixed on the 5th of July and the expected reduction of duty, they must expect that they would reduce their stocks. What took place in 1846? A similar falling-off in the returns took place, and from a similar cause; but there was no reason to believe that the consumption was reduced; and he hoped that the deficiencies of May and June would be made up by the present month. The hon. Member for Leominster, at an early period of the evening, attempted to show that they would have a diminished quantity of sugar imported this year, and that the Government had no right to look for an increased consumption. Last year there was received from the West Indies 259,000 tons of sugar; and from the best information he had received, at the smallest computation there would he 230,000 tons this year. From the Mauritius the smallest quantity that would be received was 250,000 tons, while they received 90,000 last year; and from the East Indies they had received 65,000 tons. These, with some other items, would give 345,000 tons, against 390,000, and that amount would be ample for the purposes of the Government. They were informed that the Government made a false calculation as to the stock in hand of colonial sugars; but during the last two years that stock had been nearly the same. In 1847, the amount was 57,000 tons, and in June last it was 57,300 tons; but any hon. Gentleman who was acquainted with the facts must know that the shipment from the colonies was later this year than the last. Last year the shipment was early, and this year it was particularly late; but taking the actual produce in existence, the stock was this year 80,000 tons, against 58,000 tons during a corresponding period of last year. The hon. Member for the University of Oxford, and the hon. Member for Liverpool, had attempted to create a feeling against the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, on the general ground of revenue; and he thought that the right hon. Member for Liverpool had not, with his usual care and clearness, referred to the published returns, or else there could be no reason for the tone of rebuke which be bold towards his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the statement which he made the other evening with regard to the revenue. He was quite ready to admit that the returns showed a deficit of 2,400,000l.; but they could refer to the consolatory fact, that upon the whole deficit of 2,400,000l., there was no less than 2,200,000l. to he referred not to the past six months, but to the last six months of the past year, as compared with a similar period of the preceding year, during which the country was in a high state of prosperity, whilst the latter period was unparalleled as a time of general and commercial distress. He would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that during the last six months, up to the 7th of July, the revenue was only 209,000l. less than the revenue from ordinary sources during a similar six months of the last year, though the general commercial prosperity of the two periods differed extremely; and during the last quarter the expenditure had only exceeded the revenue by 35,000l. He hoped that he had succeeded in showing that the proposition of the hon. Member to benefit colonial sugar glowers by raising the duty 1s. 7d., to the direct disadvantage of the other colonies, and also of the English refiner, was one which could not be entertained in comparison to the Government proposition. It was a direct benefit to particular colonies, and it excluded all other colonial sugar from the benefit which the white clayed sugar duties had given to the vacuum pans of Demerara. For these reasons he hoped that the House would reject the Amendment of the hon. Member.


As the hon. Gentleman has twice alluded to the personal considerations which he supposes actuate me in bringing forward my Amendment, I think it necessary at once to say, that in the colony of Berbice, with which I am connected, there is not a single vacuum pan. In the island of Demerara there are only 200 tons of sugar coming under the denomination of white clayed, so that that colony would only be interested to the ex-tent of 400l., or rather less. He had omitted white clayed sugar from the British colonial scale, because he had done so from the foreign scale also; but he would be quite prepared to move its retention, if it should be thought advisable.


had no intention to charge the hon. Gentleman with a desire to benefit himself personally.


said, that after the lengthened discussion which had taken place on this subject, he had no desire to occupy the House at any length on the present occasion; but he was anxious to state shortly the reasons which induced him to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leominster. The part of that hon. Member's plan which had been most insisted upon, both by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Westbury, as giving an undue advantage to the West India colonies, was the omission from his scale of white clayed sugar, or sugar equal to white clayed. But if hon. Members looked to the return of the quantity of sugar imported last year, they would find that not above 30,000 cwt. paid the high duty of white clayed sugar, and that of that quantity more than one-third, or 12,000 cwt., was foreign sugar, 16,000 cwt. East Indian sugar, and only 4,000 West India sugar. So that, so far from the West Indies being likely to benefit from the omission of the distinctive duty of white clayed sugar, it would not he the West Indies, but the East Indies, and the producers of foreign sugar, who would benefit. Whatever objection might he taken to the scale of the hon. Member for Leominster, as being an increase of differential duty, would apply with almost equal force to the plan of the Government, for that plan, as every one knew, was totally at variance with the Act of 1846, to which so late as the 30th of May the Government had declared their unalterable adherence. The fact was that the Act of 1846 had been abandoned by almost universal consent, so that the one plan was as open to the objection of increasing the differential duty as the other. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westbury had stated that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated to the House, namely, that the price of sugar must be regulated by the price at which foreign sugar was sold in bond, with the duty added. It was clear that there was not a tendency to increase the consumption of foreign sugar, and that the proposition of the Government would occasion a loss to the revenue of 240,000l. It would be found that in the five months ending the 5th of June last there was a falling-off in consumption of 1,000 tons, as compared with the first five months of 1847; but this the hon. Member for West-bury said that he could easily explain. He said that there was a Committee of the House of Commons sitting, and that an idea had got abroad that they would recommend an increase of differential duty, and that under those circumstances colonial sugar would derive an advantage, and that foreign sugar would be at a disadvantage. He was afraid that the real fact was to he found in the disinclination to increase the consumption of sugar. The average price of sugar for the first five months of 1847 was 34s. per cwt., and the average price for the first five months of 1848 was 24s. That was a fall of 10s. per cwt., and yet there appeared to be no increase of consumption. The principal difference between the plan of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster and that of the Government was the continuance of the differential duty for six years, and that at the expiration of that time colonial and foreign sugar should come in at the same duty. The hon. Member for Westbury said that if there was to he a regular fall of duty, the merchants would arrange so as to get sugar home just at the time when the change would take place, and that people of large capital or credit would give their orders so as to have them completed about that time. This might be but how would it fare with the West Indian planter or merchant, who had neither capital nor credit, and was obliged to force his goods into the market. The hon. Gentleman also said that the Government plan had the recommendation that it gave timely notice to all parties. But the great advantage of the plan of his hon. Friend was, that it saved the revenue; or rather the great objection to that of the Government, was the loss which it would occasion to the revenue, at a time when the deficiency, as stated by the noble Lord, was 3,000,000l., and as afterwards stated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2,000,000l.; but, in truth, even upon the showing of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, the whole revenue upon which he calculated for the current year was about 51,000,000l., to meet an expenditure of about 54,000,000l. Now, it was admitted by the hon. Member for Westbury, and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that 240,000l. would be lost to the revenue by the proposition of the Government; and on that ground chiefly he was unwilling to accede to that proposal. It would be no advantage to the consumer, because the consumer of sugar paid other taxes; and the people would have to supply that deficiency of revenue by bearing increased taxation in some other shape. It was, he thought, very desirable that no change should take place in the amount of revenue from sugar this year; and even if the revenue should afterwards be replaced, it was a serious matter to throw away 240,000l. in the present state of the Exchequer, even for a single year. He admitted that, whenever the revenue could afford it, there was no tax which would be more properly or advantageously reduced than that on sugar; but their primary duty was to keep up the public revenue. He need not apologise for adverting to this subject, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, last Friday night, took an opportunity of stating to the House the improved prospects of the revenue, in order to induce the House to reduce this tax more readily; but what were the improved prospects? He rejoiced to find that there was au increase of 350,000l. on malt; but, even including that in the income, there would be a large deficiency. The plan of the Government had no tendency to increase the consumption of sugar; and, upon that ground, and considering the deficiency in the income, he was unwilling to sacrifice unnecessarily 240,000l. of revenue. To the consumer of sugar, if he paid no other taxation, this might be beneficial; but, as the people of this country must make up the deficiency, in some shape or other, by increased taxation, it was of no advantage to them to reduce the price of sugar by a sacrifice of 240,000l. in one branch of the revenue. But even with respect to the increase of the duty on malt, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them, that from the peculiar quality of the malt last year, there was so much saccharine matter contained in it that the use of sugar in the breweries and distilleries would be diminished in a corresponding proportion. Now, last year 12,000 tons of sugar were used in breweries and distilleries; but probably there would in the present year be a great falling-off in the consumption of sugar for those purposes. Then the right hon. Gentleman stated that he should have 150,000l. additional revenue in consequence of abandoning the militia project, and that was certainly an actual saving to that amount. But, when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of being able to reduce 300,000l. on the Navy and Ordnance estimates, he must say that that was really no actual saving; it was throwing over to next year a burden which belonged to the present. In addition to which, he was afraid that the excess of expenditure over the naval votes would be more than 300,000l. In the year ending April, 1847, the naval expenditure had exceeded the votes by 240,000l.; and he estimated the excess at 400,000l. for the year ending April, 1848; it might be more, but he felt sure that it would not be less; therefore it was quite clear that the excess of naval expenditure over the votes was to be set off against the reduction of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. But the right hon. Gentleman had adopted the recommendation of the hon. Member for Bolton, by carrying the appropriations in aid to the ways and means of the present year, and he calculated that he should gain by that change. Now that change might simplify the accounts, but it could be no saving to the country; it could not reduce deficiency of revenue, and it was the duty of that House to keep up the revenue, and when they had a deficiency of 1,500,000l., according even to the improved prospects of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not to throw away 240,000l. It was the duty of that House to cut down the expenditure of the country as far as possible; but when they were satisfied of its necessity it was then equally the duty of the House to provide the means of meeting that expenditure. The public credit could not otherwise be supported; and unless the public credit was maintained, our institutions could not be preserved. With this view, and for these reasons, he should cordially support the Amendment of his hon. Friend,


did not think the present state of the public finances would warrant any sacrifice of revenue. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in addressing the House the other night upon the deficiency of the revenue, had made a slight allusion to the duty on corn, but he seemed to feel that it would burn his mouth. If the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire succeeded, in the present state of the revenue, in prevailing upon the House to sacrifice an amount of revenue to the extent of I,200,000l. a year, raised by the duty upon corn—a duty which nobody made matter of complaint—then he could only say that he would deserve another purse of 80,000l. from all those persons in the country who desired to see extensive changes in the country brought about by financial embarrassment. But, referring to the more immediate question before the House, he must say that neither he nor his constituents had any personal connexion with or interest in the West Indian colonies; but they regarded that question as one involving the honour of this country and the great interests of humanity—which were matters that ought to be held as paramount in that House. They had to say whether they would adopt a course that would give effect to their past efforts to abolish slavery, or pursue a policy having a tendency to render all those efforts vain—to augment the sufferings of the African race—and to wrench from this country the glory of having at least attempted to extinguish the abominable traffic in human beings. They had been told that this was a question of revenue by the hon. Member for Liverpool; and the hon. Member for Westbury had told them it was emphatically the British consumers' question. Now, he differed from both of those views, and maintained that it was a question of West Indian distress, of whether they would now so legislate as to rescue the planters from ruin. Everybody would admit that their policy towards the West Indian colonies had of late years been marked by egregious folly and dishonesty; it was a great breach of faith, and had aggravated slavery. Now, he did not blame the present or the late Government for this; but he did blame the people of the United Kingdom for encouraging and stimulating the Government in adopting the selfish and demoralising axioms of free trade. He was actuated by no hostility to the Government, or any desire to disturb or unsettle its position in the vote he intended to give; on the contrary, he should regard it as a great misfortune in the pro-sent state of the country if a change took place in the Government, which he must confess had conducted itself with great decision, temper, energy, and success in the recent difficult and threatening state of affairs; and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department had merited the approbation and gratitude of the country for the manner in which he had guided the ship of the State past the shoals and the breakers. Of other departments of the Administration, however, he could not express equal approval; but he would abstain from introducing party feeling into the debate. Now that a better spirit and feeling had come over persons' minds, it behoved them to set sedulously about repairing the evils entailed upon the colonies by their past mischievous legislation. Everybody intimately connected with the West Indies repudiated the idea that the Government proposition was adequate to the emergency for which it was designed. The Government ought to have adopted the recommendations of the able, indefatigable, independent, and honest Committee appointed to inquire into the state of the West Indies—a course which, whilst it might have been adopted without compromising the independence of the Government, would at least have convinced the West Indian planters that they were at length disposed to grant them reparation and redress, and would have absolved the Government from responsibility, if the distress of these colonies did not gradually disappear. He regretted that the principles of free trade and protection had been so much mixed up with, and made so prominent in that discussion: the question turned upon infinitely higher considerations than either the one or the other of these systems; the principles of humanity were at stake in the question. But if the Government wished to act upon free-trade maxims, they had really cut away the ground from under their own feet; for the Government proposition involved an equal abandonment of free-trade principles with that of the hon. Member for Droitwich. The present, he admitted, was an exceptional case, and the Government could not fairly be regarded as turning their backs upon free trade, because in this peculiar instance they did not rigidly apply its maxims. Free trade, like everything else, was chiefly to be found fault with when it was pushed too far, and pursued without reference to existing interests. Again, upon the simple ground of economy, the Government would only be acting wisely if it made an adequate concession to the colonies, otherwise they would be actually throwing away money, By the consumer putting up with the sacrifice of about ¼d. per lb. on sugar, the value of the fee-simple of the colonies would be enhanced; and it would therefore be altogether cheaper for this country to maintain the colonies. The difference between the two propositions immediately before the House was very slight; and it was almost a toss-up which of them they should adopt. The great question was, would they seek to restore prosperity to the colonies, and to suppress the slave trade? Slavery could only be put down by excluding slave-grown sugar from our markets; and if they would have the planters introduce all those improvements which had been recommended upon estates, they must allow them not only a large amount of protection, but secure it to them for a sufficient length of time to admit of the full development of all the remedies suggested upon this question. He concurred with the right hon. Member for Tamworth in doubting whether immigration would be of any substantial avail. He feared those colonies which resorted to it would afterwards find they had tied a millstone round their own necks; but the colonial expenditure might be advantageously diminished. He would vote for the Amendment, as being the lesser evil, although he had no hope that, even if it were carried, it would secure its object.


said, the hon. Member for Westbury affirmed that a differential duty against foreign sugar, no matter to what amount, small or large, was a tax of so much upon the people of this country. The hon. Gentleman laid that down as an axiom; but he was prepared to deny it. The planters in Cuba could grow sugar at 15s. per cwt. cheaper than our colonists; and the differential duty of 10s. against them, would still enable them to compete successfully with our colonial produce. He was at a loss to conceive how the 5s. difference could be imposed upon the people of this country; for he thought it went into the pockets of the Cuban planters. He would illustrate his opinion by a fact which he had heard that very day. He contended that a duty imposed and a duty taken off did not always burden or relieve the consumer. The circumstance to which he alluded was this. A merchant in the city of London had informed him that day, that upon the receipt of the intelligence that 1s. 6d. would be taken off a certain class of sugar by the Government, he had writen out to Brazil, for the purpose of ordering a certain quantity of sugar to he furnished, and offering 1s. 6d. more, so that instead of the consumer gaining the additional 1s. 6d., the Brazilian planter would gain it. He confessed he was placed in a somewhat awkward position with respect to the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Leominster, because, although he thought it was preferable to the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, yet he did not consider it to be so good as that of which he had given notice. He did not think either the proposition of the Government or that of his hon. Friend (Mr. Barkly) would be the means of averting that ruin which was impending over the West Indies, or save them from that fate which had been sealed by the decision of the House of Commons. And he confessed that it was not without pain that he reflected upon what would be the feelings of the colonists when the news of the debate which had lately taken place in that House should have been carried to the other side of the Atlantic. They (the colonists) would find that the hon. Gentleman who represented the colonies in that House (Mr. Hawes), whom they might perhaps fondly imagine would have been their advocate, appeared as a special pleader against them. They would find that he stated on behalf of the Colonial Office that there was no particular distress in the colonies at the present moment. [Mr. HAWES: No!] The hon. Gentleman had stated that distress pervaded every portion of the empire, and therefore the colonists had no great reason to complain of the distress affecting their interests in particular. But there was a remarkable speech of the hon. Gentleman—he quoted all the despatches which had been received in this country during the last fifty years' from the colonies, down to the recent distress—despatches which had no bearing upon the present discussion; but he entirely omitted to quote those important despatches and complaints which had been recently received from Lord Harris and by Sir C. Grey, and which bore distinctly upon the subject before the House. Either the hon. Gentlemen at the Colonial Office believed or disbelieved the statements of the Governors of the colonies. If they disbelieved their statements, the Governors ought to he removed. If they believed their statements, the hon. Gentlemen at the Colonial Office were bound to lay them before the House. And what would be the feeling of the people of the United States when they read the report of the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, he (Mr. Baillie) was at a loss to understand. When they found that a statesman so eminent, one upon whose opinion so much weight was deservedly placed in that House, and throughout the country generally, said that no better consolation remained to the West India colonies than the prospect of revolt amongst the slaves of Cuba—or amongst the slaves of the southern States of America—he could easily understand the feelings of indignation with which the people of America would read that statement. The question really before the House was whether the West Indian colonies were to be given up or maintained? If the majority of the House were of the same opinion as the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire, that the colonies were useless and burdensome, and that it would be to the advantage of the people of this country to receive colonial produce from Cuba and Brazil, they should at once be prepared to adopt a straightforward course, and to do a last and final act of justice to our West Indian colonies. They should be prepared to state that, as this country had changed its policy with regard to the colonies, so they were prepared to release those colonies from any further allegiance to the British Crown. They should state that they were prepared to allow the colonists to adopt that course which they might think conducive to their future happiness and prosperity; that they might, if they thought proper, attach themselves to that great country which they believed to be the most able and willing to extend to them proper protection. That would he the most straightforward course, and to that they must ultimately come. But the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth said he was not prepared to adopt that course—he was not prepared to abandon or maintain the colonies—he was only prepared to adopt a neutral course. Such a policy would bring the colonies to irretrievable ruin.


recommended the House to come to the consideration of the question really before it, which was whether muscovado sugar should be admitted at 13s. or 14s., and not whether free trade should be applied to the West India colonies. The House had now decided that the recommendation of the Committee of the adoption of a 10s. differential duty should not be agreed to; and although he should have most approved of the plan of the hon. Member for Montrose, yet, as the choice now rested between the plan of the Government and that of the hon. Member for Leominster, he was bound to say that he thought the Government proposal the better of the two. It was impossible to form an uniform plan for all the different sugars of the different colonies, east and west, which should be equally applicable and beneficial to all. He thought it unfair and unjust to the West Indies to press the revenue so much as had been insisted upon in the present debate. The question was, whether the distress was so extreme that by and by the colonies must be abandoned; and, no matter whether the revenue was falling or not, it was the duty of the Legislature to preserve the colonies. As it was decided that the colonies were not to have the differential duty of 10s., the next best thing for them was consumption, and that was only to be obtained by gradual reduction of duties. If the plan of the Ministry should be adopted, such was his opinion of the great advantage which the slave trade gave to Cuba and Brazil, that he felt convinced that in 1851 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer would have to come down to the House to stop the scale from falling lower. The plan of the Government was so far better, as it would give the West Indians at least some glimmering of hope of a day when there should be something like equality—not mere equality as to figures, but as to value. The Government also promised a loan or a gift of 500,000l. It would have been much better for the West Indians to have the 300,000l. which was owing to them; but immigration, so far as it went, would go to enable them to meet the foreign trader, and an Englishman, with fair play and fair means of competition, could compete with any one. On the two grounds, that the plan proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Barkly) left out the white sugars, and would not increase consumption, he thought the Ministerial plan the least evil of the two.


would promise not to travel into the budget, or "old stores." The Government having come to the determination that there were circumstances in the ease of the West Indies justifying a departure from their rule of policy in matters of trade and commerce, the West Indians really seemed to have the best of the argument, since they had a right to expect such a scale as would answer the desired purpose. For himself, he took quite a different view. He belonged neither to the Government nor to the West Indian party; but if he must give himself a denomination, he should say he was there representing the interests of a third party who were suffering between the two, namely, the people. The Government measure would give no substantial aid to the West Indians. They had fought their way through a transition state from slave labour to free, without any thanks to the Government, so far as to reduce the cost of production to range between 15s. and 20s. per cwt., while in the slave countries it was 10s. Let alone for a little longer, our colonies would he able to compete with those countries; there was but a small margin to overcome. But the Government ought not to have departed from the principle of leaving to all industrial classes the result of their own enterprise. It would reopen a vast sea of controversy, and shake the confidence of the country in the bonâ fides of the Government with respect to free trade. Viewing both plans as evils, he (Mr. Mowatt) would take no part in either of them.

LORD G. BENTINCK moved that the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again.


said, that a Committee had been appointed to consider the best way of expediting the public business in that House; but there could be no great hope of any recommendation of theirs being effectual unless the House would determine, when once it had undertaken the discussion of a subject, to go on with it and dispose of it. The House was then, on the 7th of July, occupied with the continuation of a debate which began on the 16th of June; and he could not why they should decline to proceed with the discussion. It began when the House was not near so full; it was carried on with great ability by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) and others, who had nearly exhausted the subject, and among them were three hon. Gentlemen interested in the West Indian colonies, who had given their views. The noble Lord, who had for months followed up this question through all its difficulties, was certainly fully entitled to be heard, and no doubt the House would hear hear at any hour. But as for adjourning to Monday the question whether there should be a 13s. or a 14s. duty, and a protection of 7s. for six years, or duties lowered with a view of increasing consumption, and then on Monday beginning with a thin House, and proceeding with some fifty Members through a protracted discussion, it seemed to him (Lord J. Russell) to be giving such encouragement to lengthened debates, that he really could not consent to the Motion, and must ask the Committee to decide upon it by a division.


hoped he was not asking anything unreasonable. He was the Chairman of the Select Committee. It was not his fault that he had not yet addressed the House in Committee at all; on Friday night, at various hours, not seeking to speak at a fashionable hour of the night, he was up three times, but was not so fortunate as to catch the Chairman's eye. He felt it his duty to address the Committee; and, charged as he was with the interests of those West India colonies, he thought it was scarcely reasonable to call upon him at a quarter past twelve to answer all the statements that had been made against them, and against the advice of the Committee over which he had the honour to peside. Therefore, though he was most sorry at any time to run counter to the feeling of the House, confident as he was that at that hour he had neither the wit nor the ability to amuse the House or to attract its attention, he was under the disagreeable necessity of persisting in his Motion.

The Committee divided on the question, that the Chairman do report progress:—Ayes 80; Noes 211; Majority 131.

List of the AYES.
Buillie, H. J. Hornby, J.
Baldock, E. H. Hotham, Lord
Barkly, H. Ingestre, Visct.
Baring, T. Jocelyn, Visct.
Benbow, J. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Beresford, W. Keogh, W.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Knox, Col.
Boldero, H. G. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Bramston, T. W. Mackenzie, W. F.
Bemridge, R. Maenaghten, Sir E.
Brisco, M. Mahon, Visct.
Broadley, H. Manners, Lord G.
Bruce, C. L. C. March, Earl of
Buller, Sir J. Y. Masterman, J.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Miles, P. W. S.
Cardwell, E. Miles, W.
Chaplin, W. J. Moffatt, G.
Christopher, R. A. Mullings, J. R.
Christy, S. Napier, J.
Clive, H. B. Neeld, J.
Cobbold, J. C. Neeld, J.
Codrington, Sir W. Newport, Visct.
Compton, H. C. O'Connor, F.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Oswald, A.
Dodd, J. W. Packe, C. W.
Edwards, H. Pakington, Sir J.
Farnham, E. B. Renton, J. C.
Farrer, J. Rufford, F.
Filmer, Sir E. Sibthorp, Col.
Forbes, W. Smyth, hon. G.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Spooner, R.
Fuller, A. E. Thesiger, Sir F.
Galway, visct. Trollope, Sir J.
Gaskell, J. M. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Godson, R. Waddington, H. S.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Walpole, S. H.
Hamilton, Lord C. Willoughby, Sir H.
Harris, hon. Capt. Wodehouse, E.
Henley, J. W.
Hildyard, R. C. TELLERS.
Hodgson, W. N. Bentinck, Lord G.
Hood, Sir A. Stuart, J.
List of the NOES.
Abdy, T. N. Buller, C.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bunbury, E. H.
Adair, H. E. Buxton, Sir E. N.
Adair, R. A. S. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Aglionby, H. A. Childers, J. W.
Alford, Visct. Cholmeley, Sir M.
Anson, hon. Col. Clay, J.
Armstrong, Sir A. Clay, Sir W.
Armstrong, R. B. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Clifford, H. M.
Cockburn, A. J. E.
Baines, M. T. Conyngham, Lord A.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. Courtenay, Lord
Barnard, E. G. Cowan, C.
Barrington, Visct. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Bellow, R. M. Craig, W. G.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Crawford, W. S.
Berkeley, hon. C. F. Dashwood, G. H.
Blake, M. J. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Deedes, W.
Bowring, Dr. Denison, W. J.
Boyle, hon. Col. Divett, E.
Brand, T. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Brocklehurst, J. Druumlanrig, Visct.
Brotherton, J. Drummond, H. H.
Brown, W. Duncan, G.
Browne, R. D. Duncuft, J.
Dundas, Adm. Marshall, W.
Dundas, Sir D. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Ebrington, Visct. Melgund, Visct.
Egerton, Sir P. Milner, W. M. E.
Ellice, E. Milnes, R. M.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Monsell, W.
Enfield, Visct. Morpeth, Visct.
Estcourt, J. B. B. Morison, Sir W.
Evans, J. Morris, D.
Evans, W. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Ewart, W. Mowatt, F.
Fagan, W. Mulgrave, Earl of
Fergus, J. Norreys, Lord
Ferguson, Col. Nugent, Sir P.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Ogle, S. C. H.
FitzGerald, W. R. S. Osborne, R.
FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W. Owen, Sir J.
Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W. Paget, Lord A.
Foley, J. H. H. Paget, Lord C.
Forester, M. Paget, Lord G.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Palmer, R.
Freestun, Col. Palmerston, Visct.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Parker, J.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Patten, J. W.
Granger, T. C. Pearson, C.
Greene, J. Pechell, Capt.
Greene, T. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Pigott, F.
Grey, R. W. Pilkington, J.
Haggitt, F. R. Price, Sir R.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Pusey, P.
Hastie, A. Raphael, A.
Hastie, A. Reynolds, J.
Hawes, B. Ricardo, O.
Hay, Lord J. Rice, E. R.
Haves, Sir E. Rich, H.
Hayter, W. G. Rebartes, T. J. A.
Headlam, T. E. Robinson, G. R.
Heathcoat, J. Romilly, Sir J.
Heathcote, Sir W. Russell, Lord J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Russell, F. C. H.
Henry, A. Scholefield, W.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Scrope, G. P.
Hervey, Lord A. Seymer, H. K.
Hindley, C. Seymour, Sir H.
Hobhousc, rt. hn. Sir J. Seymour, Lord
Hobhouse, T. B. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Hodges, T. L. Shelburne, Earl of
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Smith, J. A.
Howard, P. H. Smith, M. T.
Howard, Sir R. Smith, J. B.
Hughes, W. B. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Jervis, Sir J. Spearman, H. J.
Kershaw, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
King, hon. P. J. L. Strickland, Sir G.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Stuart, Lord D.
Lacy, H. C. Stuart, Lord J.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Stuart, H.
Legh, G. C. Sturt, H. G.
Lemon, Sir C. Sutton, J. H. M.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Talbot, C. R. M.
Lewis, G. C. Talbot, J. H.
Lincoln, Earl of Talfourd, Serj.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Tancred, H. W.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Thicknesse, R. A.
Lockhart, A. E. Thompson, Col.
Lockhart, W. Thornely, T.
Macnamara, Maj. Tollemache, hon. J. F.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Townshend, Capt.
Maher, N. V. Trelawny, J. S.
Marshall, J. G. Turner, E.
Turner, G. J. Wilson, J.
Villiers, hon. C. Wilson, M.
Vivian, J. H. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Ward, H. G. Wyld, J.
Watkins, Col.
Wawn, J. T. TELLERS.
Westhead, J. P. Tufnell, H.
Williams, J. Hill, Lord M.

The House resumed, Committee to sit again.

House in Committee of Supply.

Several votes were agreed to. House resumed, and adjourned at a quarter past One.