§ House in Committee on the Sugar Duties.
Question again proposed—
That, in lieu of the Duties and Customs now payable, &c., the following duties, &c., be charged:—
§ MR. HUME
would not occupy the time of the Committee by showing how completely the colonies had been prevented from procuring free labour. They had reports from almost every island, in which it appeared that laws had been passed by the legislative assemblies for promoting this object; but these laws had been one and all disallowed by the Colonial Office. The Colonial Secretaries had one after another prevented the colonies from giving a trial to free labour as compared with slave labour; and but for the difficulties thus thrown in their way, they would not have been brought to their present state. It was on that ground that he had ventured to tell his hon. Friends near him, that this was not a question of free trade but of justice. It appeared to him that the Government had not taken the proper course to meet the difficulty. He would wish to know if they had made up their minds to one of these two alternatives? If the colonies were unable to keep up the establishments on those islands, was the noble Lord at the head of the Government prepared to pay for their maintenance? Under the present system it was impossible that the expense could be paid by the colonies. In one instance, a vessel had returned without a single man; and in another recent case, that of the Gulnare, after an expense of 1,500l. to the colony, the vessel came back with but one man. And yet every promise had been held out to the colonies that they should have an opportunity of competing with the slave countries, by a sufficient supply of free labour. Neither the Motion of the noble Lord, nor the Motion of the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Barkly), would have the effect of placing the colonies in a better position than they were in in 1846. The time was not far distant when this country would have so pay the whole expense of these establishments. Were they willing to abandon the colonies to the liberated slave population, as the result of emancipation? If they were, he would ask them to consider the moral effect upon 311 our own affairs as a nation, of our colonies being first ruined by our own measures, and then abandoned. He submitted to Her Majesty's Government that the House had never had the question put to it in the view that it ought to have been, namely, "Will you maintain our colonies, or will you not?" Many persons agreed with him that, in former days, the colonies ought to have been obliged to pay their own expenses, and, in return for that, to have been enabled to regulate their own affairs, and appoint their own officers: in other words, to be placed exactly in the situation of the province of New York before the American revolution. The plan of the noble Lord, however, afforded the most homœopathio amount of relief. He ought either to leave the colonies as they are, or to give them sufficient time to obtain free labour, so as to have a fair chance in competition with slave labour. He had no doubt with free labour the West India colonies would speedily be able to compete with the slave labour of Cuba or Brazil. To give them this was not to give them protection; it was only to perform an act of justice.
§ LORD GEORGE BENTINCK
* I have to apologise to the House for having moved the adjournment on Friday night; but I trust that the House will feel that the question is all-important, and that, having been Chairman of the Select Committee that sat so many days and hours, I am naturally anxious to have an opportunity of addressing the Committee other than at a late hour of the night. The question now is, not whether the House should afford additional protection and some relief to the West Indian colonies, the Mauritius, and the sugar-planting interests in the East; but what should be the degree and amount of relief which the House should afford? It is no longer a question whether the Sugar Duties Act of 1846 should be maintained or abandoned; the House of Commons has condemned that Act by a majority of nine to one, and there were only thirty-six Members of this House last week to be found prepared to affirm and maintain the policy of the Act of 1846. With respect to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leominster, I ought to say, that it is a proposal I very little approve. At the same time, the question for me to decide is, whether it is better or worse than the proposition of Her Majesty's Ministers* From a published Report.312 The protection proposed by the hon. Member for Leominster for six years amounts to 45s.; that is to say, 7s. 7d. for six consecutive years on the finest quality of sugar, and to 27s. upon the lowest quality of sugar at 4s. 6d. a cwt. for the same period; whilst the proposal of Her Majesty's Ministers amounts, in the six years, to only 32s. 6d. against the first quality of sugar, that is "brown clayed," and to 24s. against the lower qualities of foreign muscovado sugar: it is impossible, therefore, to dispute that the proposal of the hon. Member for Leominster is, as regards the colonies, a better measure of relief than that proposed by the noble Lord; and therefore, as between these two proposals, I cannot doubt that I am bound to give my vote for the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. But in so doing, I feel it to be my duty to say, that on behalf of the West India interest, on behalf of the interest of the Mauritius, on behalf of the sugar planters of the East Indies, on behalf of the Gentlemen in the Committee who honoured me with their support, and on my own behalf, I repudiate the proposal as a final settlement of the question. It is not satisfactory to the British West Indies, or to the Mauritius, or to the East Indies. I believe that that measure is not recommended by any of those great interests which are immediately concerned; it is not a proposal which was mooted at all in the Committee over which I had the honour to preside; it has not the sanction of the great interests in this country, which assembled in London in May last; nor has it the support of the great interests which met at Liverpool in the early part of last month. It is opposed to the recommendations which from time to time have been received from the West Indies and the Mauritius, which all point at a lowering of the price to the consumer by a reduction of duty, and thus creating an increase of consumption; and it has not the sanction of the East India Company. Now, the proposal of the Committee—which was finally sanctioned by the Committee, though it does not go the length of what has been asked for by the West Indies and the Mauritius—has yet met with the sanction of the largest meeting of merchants and others assembled in Liverpool since 1841; for, after an open discussion, in which the greatest endeavours were made by the free-trade party, by the Manchester school, to defeat the resolutions which were finally passed at that meeting—notwithstanding 313 the hon. Member for South Lancashire, Mr. William Brown, and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, Mr. Thornely, went down to support the views of those who are constant to the Act of 1846—after an open and able discussion, the proposal made to the Committee by Sir Thomas Birch, for a 10s. differential duty for six years, was so strongly supported that the newspapers inform us, that finally only six hands were held up against it; and when the same proposition was mooted at a meeting of the proprietors of East India stock, at the East India House, the Chairman announced that the Court of Directors was unanimous, there being but one dissentient voice against the 10s. duty at the meeting of the proprietors of the East India Company. And we have now late—though better late than never—the assurance of Sir Charles Grey, the Governor General of Jamaica, that, "after a careful and most painstaking review of the whole subject, his opinion is, that a duty of 2d. in the pound on foreign sugar, and 1d. in the pound on colonial sugar, is the only resource to prevent a large portion of the estates in Jamaica from being thrown out of cultivation." We have also the representation of those able men who represent the interests of the Mauritius, made to the Government in November last, that a duty of 9s. 4d. on colonial sugar, and 20s. on foreign sugar, is the relief which they require, and without which they cannot continue to cultivate their estates. You have, last of all, after a most laborious investigation, the recommendation of a majority of the Committee appointed by you to inquire "whether any and what measures could be adopted by Parliament for the relief" of these colonies; that a duty of 20s. on foreign, and 10s. on colonial sugar is the relief which Parliament ought to afford to those suffering interests. Look, therefore, where I will, I find such unanimity in support of a differential duty of 10s. in favour of the colonies, that I am surprised that any Gentleman connected with the West India interest should rest on his own individual judgment in opposition to that of nearly all the parties immediately concerned, and should fix upon the proposition recommended to the House by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster, whereby it is proposed to afford relief by raising the duty on foreign instead of reducing the duty on colonial sugar.
In addition to this testimony in favour of the recommendation of the Committee, I 314 hold in my hand extracts from the Jamaica Times of the 29th of May and 1st of June. On the 29th of May they were under the impression that Her Majesty's Ministers were prepared to give a 10s. duty for three years; and under that impression, this was the language of that journal:—If we are to believe rumour, it would appear that the only relief to be doled out to the planters, at the recommendation of the Committee, will be a differential duty of 10s. per cwt. to continue for three years. If this partial and insignificant relief is all that the West India colonies are to expect, we say, let it he flung back with indignation in the face of Parliament.In two days afterwards the first information reached the island that the recommendation of the Committee, which they presumed would be attended to by Parliament, would probably be something very like the recommendation at which the Committee did afterwards arrive; and accordingly, on June 1, the same journal says—The coup de grace was inflicted by the Bill of 1840. Despondency had supplied the place of hope, and like the shattered vessel endeavouring to catch a glimpse of land, so were they looking with feverish anxiety for something upon which they might build a hope. May we not then say that we have one thing at least upon which we may build that hope, in the possession of the fulness of the seasons which have returned to the island? Yes! Divine Providence has, in mercy, granted that without which every other boon would be useless; that which forms the basis of every other benefit that may be conferred. Would that we were as sure of human and! Those to whom we have looked for that protection and favour, to which we have a national claim, have been our most relentless persecutors; yet we have a glimmering of hope that they are now awakened to a sense of the injustice they have done us. It is observable in respect to fortunate events as well as in respect to mishaps, that a succession of fortune, whether of good or evil fortune, follows hard upon each other. We have been for these fourteen years suffering all the vicissitudes of accumulated misfortunes. We shall, therefore, hail our blissful rains as the forerunner of other favourable events. Should this be now followed by the reduced duty upon colonial sugar to 10s., accompanied by a protective duty of 10s. against foreign sugar, as it is alleged will be the recommendation of Lord George Bentinck's Committee; and if to these is added a free system of African immigration, unrestricted by rules induced by the distempered and embittered minds of our most inveterate enemies, then, indeed, may Jamaica hope for better days than have lately fallen to her lot. The packet, which is this day expected, may, we hope, bring cheerful tidings to our hearts.There, is therefore, the opinion not only of the Governor General of Jamaica, but of the editor of the newspaper which is supposed to speak the sentiments of the 315 planters of Jamaica, that the proposal of the Committee would "bring cheerful tidings to the hearts" of the people of Jamaica, and would hold out to them a prospect of greater prosperity than had "lately fallen to her lot." Such being the case, it is to me a matter of deep regret that Her Majesty's Ministers should not have thought proper to propose or sanction such a healing measure as would have been satisfactory to the great interests concerned, and should have preferred to make a proposal which appears to give satisfaction to no one. No one has been found to rise in this House and say that he approved of the measure; and it has met with no approbation out of doors.
But when I rose, my intention was to answer the arguments which have been adduced principally by the two hon. Members for Manchester (Mr. Bright and Mr. Milner Gibson) against any further claim of the British colonists for relief; and to answer the question whether they have or not received full compensation; and to that part of the question I will now address myself. Referring the House to the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), I will address myself to the question, "Have the British colonies, or have they not, received full compensation?" The hon. Member used the very ingenious argument that the value of the produce of the British colonies in a long series of years had annually been only so much, stating his estimate of the annual value of the produce exported from each colony, giving, as one instance, Jamaica, estimated at 3,000,000l. sterling annually, and entered into a calculation to show, taking the profits of trade as very remunerative at 10 per cent upon produce, that the 15,600,000l. paid to the West Indies would, at interest at 5 per cent far exceed the profits of the British West Indies calculated at 10 per cent upon the annual value of the produce. Now, that is an ingenious argument; but it rests upon no solid foundation. It might be good for something so far as the merchants engaging in the sugar trade were concerned; they, no doubt, would be well contented if they earned ten per cent; but to say that ten per cent on the value of the produce exported is a fair and ample return for all the capital invested in those West Indian estates, is one of the most unreasonable arguments I ever heard, and one of the most surprising, when it comes from an hon. Gentleman himself connected with trade.
316 But it is not very difficult to show what really have been the profits of the West Indian planters in a long course of years; and I will endeavour to do this. Towards the end of the last century it was commonly calculated that 130,000,000l. was the amount of capital invested in the West Indies; and I will now show to the House what have been the profits of the planters at various periods during the present century. In 1814, it is stated by Mr. Marshall in his statistical returns, which were received as authority in that House, and for which that Gentleman had been justly rewarded, that the value of sugar alone imported from the British. West Indies was 12,484,714. The cost of making sugar at that period was 16l. a ton, and in that year they made 182,140 tons. The total cost, therefore, of making that sugar would amount to 2,914,140l. Mr. Marshall further stated that in 1831 the charge for freight for all the produce of the British West Indies was 1,000,000l. sterling, and the charges for insurance, agency, commission, and brokerage, amounted to 400,000l. But as 1814 was a period of war, though the produce was not so great, I will assume that the charge for freight and the charges for insurance, brokerage, &c, were double, and that, instead of 1,000,000l. sterling, it was in 1814, 2,000,000l. sterling, and instead of 400,000l., 800,000l. Then putting the three sums together, which constituted all the cost necessary to bring the sugar of the British West Indies into the London market, namely, cost of manufacture, freight, and general charges, the result was, a total cost of 5,714,140l.; which being deducted from the ascertained value of the sugar imported, would leave 6,770,574l., as the clear profit left for proprietors, planters, and mortgagees. An annual income of 6,770,574l. at 20 years' purchase—the period fixed by the hon. Member himself, but considerably under the number of years' purchase at which West India estates sold at that time—would, in the year 1814, represent a capital of 135,411,480l. Now, if the hon. Member for Manchester had been in the House, he probably would say, "True, that may have been the value of the property in 1814; but it was artificially bolstered up to that amount by your system of protection." Sir, there is no foundation for any such allegation. So long as this country had not meddled with the colonial sources of labour, so long as the planters had the enjoyment of the services of their 317 slaves, mild and mitigated as was the form of slavery that existed in the West Indies, compared with that now existing in Cuba and Brazil, although it was true they had a nominal protection and monopoly, I will show that that protection and monopoly was altogether a dead letter. For not only did they supply all the wants of the British market, but they every year exported largely to foreign markets. We are indebted to the hon. Member for Bolton (Dr. Bowring) for returns which give the comparative price of colonial and foreign sugar in those days. In 1814 the average Gazette price of colonial sugar was 59s. 10d.; and, in 1815, 73s. 4d.; but, in 1815, Havana sugar was 89s. 6d. In 1816, British colonial sugar was 61s. 10d., and Havana sugar, 74s. 2d.; which shows clearly, if the contrary he alleged, that protection was a dead letter so long as the British West Indies possessed the use of slaves, and were left on equal terms with other sugar-producing countries. But I will not be content with this. I will go to the years 1827, 1828, and 1829; and I will show that it was not surprising that the colonies should have complained of distress at that time, though they were still in the enjoyment of large profits. Though it is true that the foreign slave-grown sugar was getting nearer in cost to the British colonial sugar, still it appears, that in the years 1827, 1828, 1829, and 1830, according to the same return with Dr. Bowring's name on the hack of it, the average price of British colonial sugar in the four years was 30s. 2¾d.; that of Havana sugar, 31s. 7½d., so that, up to that time, although the West Indian planter had been obliged by Parliament to give up half a day in every week, or twenty-six days in every year, of his light to the labour of his slaves, he was still able to undersell the foreign producer; and Lord Stanley stated, in introducing the Bill for negro emancipation, that, up to the year 1833, the British planter had been able to compete with the foreign producers, and, by his energy and capital, had succeeded in beating them in the foreign markets, for that we annually exported from 50,000 to 60,000 tons. Now in 1827, 1828, and 1829, taking the entire value of all the produce (including sugar) imported from the British West Indies, the average value was 8,849,519l.; and the evidence of Mr. Greene before the Committee, the accuracy of which, by universal consent, it has been acknowledged, may be implicitly relied 318 upon, shows that the cost of production was 72. 13s. 4d. per ton up to the year 1830. In 1830 the number of tons imported was 195,631, so that the total cost of manufacture would be l,369,517l., to that I add 1,000,000l. on account of freight, and 400,0002. for insurance, brokerage, commission, &c., as estimated by Mr. Marshall; and as Mr. Greene shows that the proportion which the sugar bears to the rest of the crop is as 72½ to 27½, I add 27½ per cent for the cost of other produce, namely, 519,471l.; making the total cost of production 3,288,988l. on an average of these three years. Deducting this from 8,849,519l., the average value of the annual gross produce of the colonies, during those years, a clear annual profit remains of 5,560,531l., which sum multiplied by 20, the number of years purchase acknowledged by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester to be a fair calculation, would represent 111,210,620l.
Next I come to the year 1830, when a Committee of this House sat on the distressed state of the British West Indies. In that year the price of sugar fell at one time as low as 21s. 10d. a cwt.—and it was then represented that up to that time the British colonics had never been in so depressed a condition; but even in that year of depression I think I can satisfactorily show that 15,600,000l. would have been no adequate compensation for the loss of property inflicted upon the West India colonists by the deprivation of their slaves. I am now reviewing the year 1830, and am speaking of the value of sugar only exported from the British West Indies. Mr. Greene stated the value of the gross produce of sugar sold in the year 1830 (195,631 tons), at 4,890,786l. The cost of production of this sugar was 1,360,517l.; with the addition of 1,000,000l. for freight, and 400,000l. for brokerage and charges, the total cost of bringing to market was 2,769,517l. Deducting this sum from the gross value of the produce of the colonies, there remained a total net profit to the planters of 2,121,269l. representing a gross capital of 42,425,380l. sterling.
I now come to another period in the history of the West Indies—the year 1847, a period of freedom fourteen years after the great Act of Emancipation had been carried. In that year the quantity of sugar imported from the British West Indies was 159,557 tons, the value of which was 4,336,930l. The cost of making now by free labour had risen from 319 7l. 13s. 4d. to 21l. 5s. per ton; total, 3,390,086l. The freight on sugar to England amounted in that year to 638,228l.; the brokerage and charges to 478,671l. The total cost of the manufacture of the sugar, together with the freight and charges, therefore, amounted to 4,506,985l. The sugar sold for consumption in 1847 was 129,130 tons, producing 3,524,323l. There remained unsold 30,427 tons of British West India sugar, and on the 5th of January last the Gazette price was 22l. 15s. If the whole of this stock had been sold and had realised that price, it would have produced 692,214l., and the total sale value of all the sugar of that year would have been 4,216,537l., to be set against the cost of manufacture, freight, and charges, amounting to 4,506,985l., showing a dead loss on that year of 290,448l. without any charge for interest on capital invested, or any allowance for interest due to mortgagees. I should like to have asked the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), had he been in his place, how he would account for that loss?
I think this is a statement which it is difficult to answer, and impossible to gain-say; and I am surprised that any one can contend that the British West Indies and the Mauritius obtained anything like compensation, and yet no doubt can be entertained that it was the intention of Parliament to give them full compensation: the preamble of the Act sets forth that they are "entitled to a reasonable compensation for the loss they would sustain by being deprived of the right to the services of their slaves." When the Members for Manchester maintain that in addition to the sum given by way of compensation to the West Indies, they had a protection which was equal to 15s. per cwt. for thirteen or fourteen years, and this was equal to 30,000,000l. more, I contend that this 15s. per cwt. was not equal to the difference in the cost of manufacture between slave and free labour during those years, and that the whole went into the pockets of the negroes, and no part of it into the pockets of the planters.
It is alleged by some hon. Gentlemen that there was no understanding that the colonists should be left in the exclusive enjoyment of the British market; but is it possible for any one who recollects the debates which took place within the House, and the feeling which prevailed out of the House, for one moment to give credence 320 to the notion that there was not a perfect understanding that slave-grown sugar would not be admitted into the consumption of the English market? Lord Stanley, in introducing the measure—and we must take the sentiments of the Minister, who, swaying large majorities, carried the measure through the Commons' House of Parliament, as an index of the understanding which prevailed in the Legislature—stated, in answer to the apprehensions expressed by the West India interest that the effect of depriving them of their negroes would necessarily be a great diminution in the production of sugar, and consequent ruin would be brought upon the planters by the emancipation of their slaves. He held this language:—We are told too that the effect of such a proceeding will necessarily be to cause a great diminution in the amount of production—that it will be absolutely impracticable to cultivate sugar-that the colonies must be thrown up—and that nothing but ruin will ensue. Sir, so far as the amount of the production of sugar is concerned, I am not quite certain that to some extent a diminution of that production would be a matter of regret. I am not quite certain that it might not be for the benefit of the planters and the colonists themselves in the end, if that production were in some degree diminished.Such were the sentiments of Lord Stanley, in introducing the measure to Parliament. Now, how could a diminution in the amount of production be an advantage to the planter unless the monopoly of the home market had been secured to him, thus ensuring to him better prices in proportion as the supply diminished?
In a similar spirit, Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for the Colonies, not in a debate but in a circular despatch, distributed in all the colonies, dated the 12th of October, 1835, gave reason to believe that the West India colonies were to have the exclusive supply of the home market. In the year 1835 the right of apprenticeship existed. In that year, Lord Glenelg, in a circular dated the 12th of October, 1835, says—The purchaser of a claim under the Slavery Compensation Act does not incur the slightest assignable risk of losing his money—he has for his security the national faith of Great Britain and Ireland pledged in the most solemn form in which such an engagement was ever yet made. If the seller supposes that any danger really exists, he labours under an illusion so gross as without further proof to demonstrate that he is not in a state of general information to deal on equal terms with the speculators to whom his right is transferred.This observation bad reference to the 321 security of the planter under the Act of Parliament for the continuance of the services of the negroes as apprentices for the complete term of six years; but in three years that right was forcibly taken from the planter by the British Parliament, without any compensation at all.
The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), who was not in his place, had told the Committee that there was distress in other places as well as in the West Indies; that the cotton manufacturers were distressed, and as much entitled to complain as the West India colonists, yet they did not come to ask for compensation, though they were as much entitled to it.
The cases, however, are not alike. If Parliament had deprived the cotton spinners and cotton manufacturers of their machinery, they would have been entitled to compensation; but I do not know upon what ground the cotton manufacturers could come to this House and ask for pecuniary relief. I readily admit that great distress prevails, and I shall be in a condition to show that that distress is the recoil of the distress which, by the Act of 1846, was first created in the British colonics and British possessions in the East. The ground of complaint, and the ground of claim of the colonies to compensation and to protection against the foreign slaveholder, is, that you, out of deep religious feeling and sentiment, made up your minds that you would not permit slavery to continue in the British dominions. Now, the slaves were the machinery by which sugar was made cheap; and when you deprived the British colonists of the machinery by which they made sugar cheap, you, in point of fact, did the same thing by them as though you had deprived a millowner of his steam engine. Now, suppose that sentiment had taken another line, and, instead of displaying itself in the abolition of slavery in the British colonies, it had taken the line of interfering with the machinery of the cotton spinner and the cotton manufacturer, then indeed the cotton spinners, so deprived of their power-looms, would have been entitled to compensation. If that sentiment had taken the line of denouncing machinery, on the ground that it had been destructive of life and limb, and had abolished the use of steam engines in cotton mills by Act of Parliament, then indeed the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) would have been equally entitled with 322 the West India planter to compensation.
Mr. Horner, Mr. Howell, Mr. Stewart, and other factory inspectors, stated in the returns laid a few days since before Parliament, the amount of killed and wounded in the course of the last half year—the broken limbs, the lacerations, the contusions, the injuries of head and face, the dislocations, and the deaths which had taken place through the use of machinery in the English manufactories during the last six months; and, if those facts were not already familiar to the minds of hon. Members, they would now be astonished to learn that the returns of killed and wounded in the factories amounted annually to a greater number than the returns of killed and wounded at the battle of Trafalgar. At that most memorable engagement 26 Spanish and French ships of the line struck their colours to the British flag—20,000 men were made prisoners, and the empire of the sea was secured to Great Britain, at a less cost of life and limb than annually occurred in the manufacturing districts of England. At Trafalgar, the loss in killed and wounded was 1,690—the killed and wounded in the manufacturing districts of England appears annually to amount to 2,276! When Parliament, out of a tender-hearted sentiment, emancipated the slaves, it might, instaed of adopting that measure, have deprived the millowners of their steam engines, and have paid them as they paid the West Indians, at the rate of 8s. 10d. In the pound on its own valuation. It might have left the millowners all their estates, and said, "We have left you your tall chimneys, your large factories, all the machinery except the steam—you may, if you please, work your mills with human power, instead of steam power; we have paid you 8s. 10d. in the pound upon our valuation of your steam engines; how can you say you have not had full compensation? Surely if Parliament had done so, the Manchester manufacturer would be entitled to compensation, or at least to protection, for without his machinery his estate would be of no use; and now let it not be forgotten that it was at the bidding of the Manchester school that the Act of 1846 had been passed. But would the House allow the colonies thus to he stripped naked, and yield them no redress. There was no equity in destroying human machinery any more than there would be in destroying iron machinery. 323 In both cases the owners had a full right to compensation. There was an adage, as old as Christianity itself—Among all honest Christian people,Whoe'er breaks limbs maintains the cripple.Therefore I would say that full compensation ought, in honesty, to be made to those persons for their estates whose machinery, by which alone their estates could be rendered productive, had been crippled and destroyed by the acts of the British Legislature.
Many propositions and suggestions have been made on the subject of relief; but I know not how you can with justice make compensation by any partial measure of loan advances. Suppose you give no protection, and have recourse to loans of 500,000l. in addition to the 160,000l. you have already advanced to encourage immigration. Why, the money will go to Jamaica, Trinidad, British Guiana, and wherever labour is needed; while Barbadoes, Antigua, St. Kitt's, and the Mauritius, where labour is not needed, will derive no benefit. Surely some compensation is due to these colonies. Is the Mauritius to be punished because the planters had adopted, at an early period, means for increasing their supply of labour? These colonists have already paid nearly 800,000l for the immigration and carrying back of Coolies; and whatever favour is shown to any number of the West India islands in the way of assisting them to import labour, now is, pro tanto, an injury to the Mauritius. Again, I cannot help observing that the plans upon which immigration had hitherto been carried out in the Mauritius under Government rules and superintendence, had been most expensive; and nothing could be more obvious than this, that to whatever extent unnecessary expense was carried, the colonies must be the sufferers. Amongst the faults of the immigration system, I cannot avoid noticing this, that no means were taken to bring-over women with the men, and pains were taken to secure the return of the Coolies at the end of five years. Thus the practical effect upon the Mauritius is, that at the end of five years from this time she will be left destitute of labourers.
Turn to India; how can British India participate in the benefit of a loan? Is that portion of Her Majesty's dominions to be overlooked altogether? If so, why did you appoint a Committee to consider their case as well as the case of the West India colonists? If it be asserted that the East 324 India planters have no claim because we deprived them of no slaves, I say they have a claim of a different character. They have the higher claim that you invaded their territories, and for more than half a century have compelled them to pay a yearly tribute to England of 3,700,000l., besides a private tribute of 500,000l. And when the hon. Member for Manchester says that the cotton manufacturers have never asked for protection, it should be borne in mind that they have received protection for more than half a century against the cotton manufactures of India. Up to 1825, the protection in favour of Manchester was 37 per cent. [An Hon. MRMBER: 80 per cent.] An Hon. Gentleman says 80 per cent. and you compelled the people of India to receive English cottons into their market at 3½ per cent. Was that no protection to the Manchester manufacturer? The East India manufacturer did look to the Parliament of England for compensation. When you opened to them the sugar maket of this country, they did think a compensation was held out to them for the loss of their cotton trade. The late Chairman of the East India Company, Mr. Tucker, in his able evidence before the Sugar and Coffee Planting Committee, stated that in 1803 the value of manufactured cottons exported from India to England amounted to between 3,000,000l. and 4,000,000l. and so late as the year 1818 or 1820, to 1,600,000l. In 1836 you made compensation for the loss of that 1,600,000l. by admitting their sugars, which they exported to the same amount. And what has been the consequence of your legislation? You have allowed slave-grown sugar to compete in the English market with the colonial producer; and you have ruined all those engaged in sugar cultivation in the East. I have copied a few of the statements which appeared in the Times, of the last intelligence received by the overland mail, showing the ruinous effect of our sugar duty policy on the cotton trade of England. From these statements it appears that in 1846–47, when the sugar cultivation was flourishing, Calcutta took 1,890,000 pieces of shirting; while in 1847–48, the quantity was reduced to 1,071,000, showing a decrease of 810,000 pieces. In jacconets the decrease was 165,000 pieces, in cambrics 134,000 pieces, showing in all a decrease of upwards of 1,100,000 pieces. In mule twist the decrease had been 5,500,000 lbs. on an export of 16,000,000 lbs. It had been said 325 that this was of little consequence, as the manufacturers of England look to Europe as their best market.
§ [Extract from the Times.]
§ Comparative IMPORTATION of Shirtings, Jacconets, Madapolams, and white Cambrice, into Calcutta in 1846–7 with 1847–8.
|IMPORTATIONS, Calcutta, May 8, 1348.|
|Total Decrease, l,119,728|
|Not Decrease, 1,104,853|
|Calicoes Plain and Printed, and Cotton Yarn, exported to Europe with Egypt, to the British Colonies, and to all Parts, up to the 31st of May.|
§ So that, on every one of those heads of manufacture, notwithstanding the disturbed state of the Continent, so far as the Continent of Europe is concerned, there has been a large increase of exports. And
§ Now, Sir, I think I have shown, that you are suffering not so much from the disturbed state of Europe as from the ruin of your own colonies. If the Continent does326
§ But I find that in 1845 the exports to the British colonies as compared with those to Europe, and those to the other three quarters of the globe, exclusive of Europe, stand at the head of the list, the comparison being as follows:—
|EXPORTS in 1845.|
|Cotton, Linen. Woollen, and Silk Manufacture, exclusive of Yarn:—|
|More to the Colonies||£450,000|
|Asia, Africa, and America, exclusive of British Possessions||£10,810,477|
|Total Exports of the above manufactures||£33,523,305|
|Rest of the world||1,054,575|
§ I have received from Mr. Burn, the editor of the Commercial Glance, a statement of the value of the manufactured goods exported to Europe (including Egypt) compared with those to the British colonies, and made up to the 24th of June. It has been alleged that all the distress in our own manufacturing districts arises from the disturbed state of Europe; and when reference is made to the falling-off in our exports, and to the decay of our commerce, under the free-trade system, hon. Gentlemen get up and exclaim, that their only surprise is, that things are not worse. Now, the following figures show the real facts of the case:—
§ now let us look how the matter stands as regards the transmarine possessions of the British Crown. There were exported in the corresponding period of 1847, to the British colonies—
§ not take so much of your manufactures as before, I fear it is in some respects to be attributed to the fact that you have let your capital go to the Continent, and have 327 thus enabled the foreign manufacturers therewith to carry on their own manufactures. But let me remind you, if the disturbances on the Continent have been a bar to the exportation of British manufactures, à fortiori, would they be a bar to the exportation of raw produce. Let us see, then, how the exportations of raw materials show in this comparison. The exportations of raw cotton to Russia, in the first six months of the last four years, have been as follows:—
§ The material of cotton manufactures has been trebled in the present year as compared with the last; this would not make it appear that disturbances on the Continent—at all events, so far as Russia is concerned—were any bar to the importation into that country of raw cotton. In Belgium there is a very trifling decrease—a decrease of 60,000 lbs.—in the exports of raw cotton to that country in this year as compared with 1847; but comparing it with the year 1846, there is an increase of 300,000 lbs. Now, I wish to show to you in illustration of that argument so ably brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Archibald Hastie) the other night, as to what would be the consequence to your manufacturers here if you ruined your British colonies, and how the increased consumption of the produce of Brazil and of Cuba would afford no security to you, that the exportation of your manufactures would be increased in like 328 manner. How just was that hon. Gentleman's statement on that subject! But it was hardly necessary for my hon. Friend to have had recourse to that statement, because the hon. Member for Manchester, when he complained the other night of a breach of faith on the part of the Government, told you that those who had sent their ships to Brazil and to Cuba for sugars suffered no little hardship, and had no slight cause of complaint in this, that a great part of those ships went out in ballast. So that when you send out your ships to bring home sugars from Brazil and Cuba, they go in ballast; but send them out to the West Indies and your own colonies, and they carry out nearly as much in value as they bring back. Now, I have a statement here of the importations of plain calicoes in 1846 and 1848, into the Brazils, Cuba, and the British West Indies, and I find that you exported as follows:—
§ Calicoes, Plain and Printed, exported to Brazils, British West Indies, and Cuba, from 1st January to 24th Juno, in each year.
|Brazils.||B. W. Indies.||Cuba.|
|Brazils.||B. W. Indies.||Cuba.|
§ But you said that Antigua and Barbadoes were not suffering in the same degree—that the Creoles were in the most flourishing condition—in a condition, in fact, superior to that of the peasantry of all other countries. And so they were up to the period of this Act of 1846. But what is said to be their state now? They are ground down to wages of 5½d. and 6d. a day, and are no longer that happy and prosperous peasantry; and in nothing is this more apparent than in a comparison of the exportation of calicoes, in corresponding periods, to Barbadoes and Antigua. I find, then, that you exported to Antigua—
§ Calicoes, Plain and Printed, exported to Antigua, Barbadoes, and St. Kitt's, from January 1st to June 24th, in each year.
Now, can anything prove more clearly the position laid down by the hon. Member for Paisley the other night, when he said—
If you increase the produce of your own colonies—if you take more of the produce of free men—they will take all the more of your calicoes and your cottons; but a slave does not wear a rag the more for all the produce of his labour which you may purchase from his hard taskmaster. He does not get the reward of his hard labour; and though he may perchance be indulged with an additional red herring—with a little more of the yam or the banana—he more probably receives a little more of the whip.
§ I hope, therefore, that the warning voice of the hon. Member for Paisley will not fail to be heard in the manufacturing districts of this country.
§ I have here a statement, showing the contrast of your exportations of manufactures and of the raw materials of them. I find that of cotton manufactures you exported as follows:—
§ Exports of Manufactured Goods and Raw Materials, for Five Months, ending the 5th of June.
§ So that, while in cotton manufactures, there has been a decrease in 1848, as compared with 1847, of 17⅞ per cent. and on cotton yarn a decrease of 12 per cent. there has been, of raw materials, an increase of 3 per cent. With respect to silk manufactures the disturbances in France have prevented the manufactures of that country from going on; and I hope there is some gleam of sunshine from that circumstance dawning on the silk manufactures of this country. But still the fact as to silk manufactures is something of the same kind as what I have read respecting the rest. I find that, as regards silk manufactures—
§ Exports for Five Months to 5th June.
|Raw silk, lbs||149,544||200,146||110,861|
|Silk manufactures of Europe, namely, manufactures, ribbons, gauzes, velvets, (value estimated at 3l. sterling for every lb. in weight)||505,344||618,738||779,082|
§ So that, while the falling-off in the export of this class of your manufactures has been 53 per cent, in 1848, as compared with 1847, the falling-off as regards the raw material of the same has been less, 330 namely, 45 per cent, whilst your importation of foreign manufactures has increased a fraction only under 26 per cent. Again, as regards woollen manufactures and wool, I find the exports to have been as follows:—
|Wool, sheep or lambs, foreign and colonial. lbs.||1,052,195||745,393||2,650,224|
§ Thus, whilst your woollen manufactures present to you a decreased export trade of 37 percent, and woollen yarn a decrease of 15 per cent, an increase of your exportation of foreign and colonial wool stares you in the face to the astonishing amount of 255 per cent.
§ It is not, therefore, in the disturbances on the continent of Europe that the real cause of this great decay is to be found. The cause of this decay is to be found in your British possessions, which you have been bringing to ruin by your anti-colonial policy.
Having, then, shown you the decay you have brought upon your colonies, I must revert once more to the position of India, which has not been sufficiently discussed in this House. Indeed, I am not sure that, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Harwich, any Gentleman has, in the course of these debates, ever touched on that part of the subject. But the effect of your legislation has been that, instead of India paying her tribute to you in the produce of India, she has paid you in silver in the rupees of that country. At the time of the report of the Committee, we had information that the East India Company had been obliged already to remit half a million of rupees. At the recent meeting of the proprietary of the East India Company, to which I have already referred, the present Chairman said how important it was to develop the resources of India, and that, if the recommendation of the Committee on West India affairs were not attended to, and the differential duty established, a blow would be struck at the resources of India from which they might not easily recover. I trust, therefore, that the noble Lord, who spoke so strongly some weeks ago on the value of the British colonies, will lay this statement to his heart, that we have it from the Chairman of the East India Company—
That, unless a duty of 10s. between British and foreign sugar be adopted, a blow will be struck at the resources of India which she will not easily recover.
The Chairman of the East India Company, at the same meeting, stated further—
That it would not only be a hardship to the East Indies and to the Company, but to the enterprising individuals who had sent their capital there, and invested it in machinery, on the faith of the promises of the Government. It would be a loss of great importance to this country, as well as an infliction of great injustice to thousands of natives employed in the cultivation of sugar in India.
I confess I much wish that the late Vice President of the Board of Trade could hear these statements, because such is his extravagant notion about the advantages of cheap sugar that he seems to think that it would be an advantage to the natives of India, whose great staple production it is, if we could make sugar cheap in Bengal, by putting an end to the demand of it for consumption in England, and ceasing to buy it from the natives of India for exportation to this country. The hon. Chairman proceeded to say—
It would not only be a hardship to the East Indies and to the Company, but to the enterprising individuals who had sent their capital there, and invested it in machinery, on the faith of the promises of the Government, It would be a loss of great importance to this country, as well as the infliction of a great injustice on the thousands of natives employed in the cultivation of sugar in India. It was hardly necessary for him to say that this was a question of great importance as regarded the remittances also. Of the 5,000,000l. sterling to which these remittances amounted, 1,500,000l. came from sugar; and if something was not done to relieve the sugar interest from its present condition, that source of remittance must fail, and they must have recourse to large exportations of bullion from India to make up the deficiency.
Another East India proprietor, Mr. Fielder, observed—
That, after having fought the battles of this country, and after having incurred immense expenditure to carry on her iniquitous wars, England now stepped in to deprive the East Indies of that protection under which the sugar trade had risen and flourished.
Mr. Strachan, who was also a proprietor, stated at the same meeting—
That with respect to the sugar trade, the East Indies had been most unjustly treated; that this question affected the interest of every man deriving his income from India; that it was plain the remittances from that country would soon have to be made in bullion; and that, in proportion as remittances were reduced, so would the incomes of the East India proprietors be reduced.
§ But the interests of the Mauritius were 332 closely connected with those of the East Indies. The sugar cultivation of the Mauritius was carried on by Coolies, who were fed upon rice imported from the East Indies; and I find that the value of the rice imported from the East Indies to the Mauritius amounted to 200,000l. a year, and this rice is paid for in bills drawn against sugar exported to England, thus affording another mode of remittance of so much of India's tribute to England.
In answer to the assertion that the Mauritius had not been ruined by the Act of 1846, I might refer to the despatches of Sir W. Gomm, from which it appeared, that up to the month of June last year, there had been a general amelioration in the commercial condition of the colony; that the fair prices which colonial produce obtained in this country were encouraging persons in every branch of business to resort to the colony; that the value of the exports during one month had been 312,500l.; and that the quantity of sugar exported of the crop of 1846–47 in the year had been 66,000 tons, being 15,000 tons more than the exports of the preceding year. The House was, unfortunately, too well aware of the state of absolute ruin to which the Mauritius had been reduced by the Act of 1846, and the consequent large importations of slave-labour sugar into this country. But I will ask hon. Gentlemen to contrast the condition of the Mauritius with that of the sister colony—the Isle of Bourbon. Accounts, dated the 13th of April, represented the Isle of Bourbon to be in a most flourishing condition: and what must be the feelings of the French inhabitants of the island, who numbered 23,000 persons, when they contrasted their own position with that of this neighbouring island? Immediately after the capture of the Mauritius by the English forces, the British General issued a proclamation, declaring—
That the inhabitants should have the means of disposing of their merchandise on the most favourable terms, and should enjoy all the advantages of other British colonies.
But, till 1825, the inhabitants of the Mauritius did not enjoy these advantages. In 1835 they were deprived of their slaves; and in 1843 this country exposed them to competition with the slave producers of foreign States. Why, the colonies of France, although they could compete by slave labour against the slave labour of other countries, enjoyed a protective duty of more than 10s. a cwt. upon their sugar.
Sir R. Farquhar, addressing the House of Commons, in 1825, declared—
That, whenever the case of the Mauritius was brought forward, it would be found to be the most cruel case that ever was submitted to the House of Commons. He (Sir E. Farquhar) asked, very justly, what cooperation could be expected from "colonists to whom pledges had been given on the part of this country which had never been ful-filled?
Lord Wellesley also stated, in his despatches, when pressing upon the British Government the necessity of making a desperate effort to capture the Mauritius—
That the French privateers from the Mauritius alone had captured British property to the value of 4,000,000l.
I might here mention, that I have been assured by persons residing in the Mauritius about the period of slave emancipation, that such was the discontented feeling of the French colonists, and the alarm of the Governor, Sir W. Colebrook, that he never sat down to dinner without a guard of forty soldiers in his ante-room. Now, I will put it to the House whether, considering the importance of the Mauritius, as the key to our East Indian possessions, it was prudent to exasperate the French colonists, who were nearly twenty times more numerous than the English, by withdrawing from them the protection they saw enjoyed by the sister colony of Bourbon, and driving them to court a restoration of their French connexion with a view to seek the French market, where they would have a monopoly which they did not possess in the markets of this country?
§ To look at the question in another point of view—let me ask, bow does the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer think the revenue from the colonies is to he maintained when you have ruined the produce which they have to send to this country?
§ But I must now come to the consideration of the financial part of this question; and, although I shall avoid as much as possible entering upon the discussion of the budget, yet I cannot avoid it altogether, since the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought fit to bring, head and shoulders, into these discussions, a third budget. While the noble Lord at the head of the Government is complaining that this debate is protracted, his right hon. Colleague the Chancellor of the Exchequer has brought into it a new clement which cannot 334 fail to create further delay. The noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have again repeated, as if anything could be proved by mere repetition, the statement they made the other night, that the recommendation of the Committee would lose 960,000l. to the revenue. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought fit to comment on the resolutions which were rejected in Committee, and for which I was responsible, and which were supported by Sir John Pakington, by Sir E. Buxton, by Lord G. Manners, by Mr. Hope, and by Mr. Miles—and in making that comment the right hon. Gentleman said "that no man in his senses could believe that there would be an increase to the extent of anything like 30,000 tons in the consumption during the year commencing on the 5th of July, 1848, and ending 1849." But, Sir, I believe that no man in his senses who has at all considered the subject can believe that in the same period the consumption can be so little as 289,000 tons; and unless they believe that, I know not on what pretence the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—unless I excuse them on the score of ignorance—presume to say that there can be a loss to the revenue of 960,000l should that recommendation of the Committee be carried into effect.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
I did not say so. I said the first loss would be 960,000l. and the second loss 720,000l
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
What does the noble Lord mean by "the first loss?" Loss and gain to the revenue must be estimated by reduction or increase in the consumption of sugar. The noble Lord is not so wanting in candour and frankness as not to admit that while he takes credit to himself for 20,000 tons of increased consumption by the Government plan, a greater consumption would be produced by our proposal? The great difference between the proposal of the Committee and that of the Government is, that the first makes a sensible difference to the consumer of ½d. per lb., while the reduction of the noble Lord is so small that it could not be felt in the weekly payments of the poor. The average consumption of poor families, taken at 23½ lbs. per head per annum, and the number of persons in each family at from four to five, amounts to 2 lbs. of sugar a week. And, supposing, that half the reduction we propose went into the pocket of the producer, and the other half were saved to the consumer, our reduction 335 would amount to a saving of a halfpenny to every poor family on each week's consumption of sugar; and that would be a large reduction. The Government has no reduction whatever to show that can be measured by even the lowest denomination of coin. Therefore the noble Lord cannot pretend that his proposal would cause an increased consumption by that stimulus which arises out of a lowered price. But when the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes to consider the effects of his measures upon the supply and upon the stocks in hand, he shows an ignorance of the whole sugar trade such as was never before displayed in this House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman says—he understands—that the stocks available of British colonial sugar for the consumption of the year 1848–9 will be about 300,000 tons; but I shall presently prove to the House that his calculations are totally incorrect. I must also say that the calculations of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell), and of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), show little acquaintance with the subject, when they calculate the loss to the revenue at what they have stated. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to imagine that they can make a clean sweep of all the stocks of sugar in this country; and that we shall have a supply of 240,000 tons of sugar, and a stock on hand of 65,000 tons, or, as is now the case, of 76,000 tons; but there is not a man in the whole sugar trade will bear out that calculation. For the last five years the lowest stock on hand on the 5th of July was 45,100 tons; and in proportion as the consumption increases it is necessary that the stock should likewise be kept up. The right hon. Gentleman calculates that he shall have a consumption of 310,000 tons; and, à fortiori, if the recommendation of the Committee were adopted, the Committee will also have 310,000 tons. But my belief is, and I can show good reasons for the supposition, that if we were to reduce the duty on colonial sugar ½d. per pound (which would be the effect of the recommendation of the Committee), the consumption would come up to 325,000 tons in the year ending the 5th of July, 1849. But I will assume that the right hon. Gentleman is right, and that the 310,000 tons is the total amount that will be consumed. That granted for argument sake, it becomes necessary to examine into the probabilities of importation and 336 into the state of stocks. And when the hon. Member for Liverpool argues that the Government would lose 368,000l. by their project, on the ground that there will be 240,000 tons of British sugar consumed, the hon. Member is arguing against his own recorded conviction. One of the resolutions proposed by Mr. Goulburn, and supported by the hon. Member for Liverpool, was as follows:—That many estates in the British colonies have been already abandoned, and that many more are now in course of abandonment, and from this cause a very serious diminution is to be apprehended in the total amount of production.And then he goes on to say—That the first effect of this diminution will be an increase in the price of sugar, and the ultimate effect a greater extension to the growth of sugar in slave countries, and a greater impetus to slavery and the slave trade.But you cannot have your cake and eat it too—you cannot abandon your sugar plantations and have your sugar too; and if the hon. Member be right—and there is no doubt be is right—" that many estates have been already abandoned, and that many more will be abandoned"—where is he to get a supply of 240,000 tons of colonial sugar? Upon the best estimates I have been able to make, after the most mature consideration, and after great deliberation with those who are held to be the highest authorities on the subject, I have come to the conclusion that, in the year 1848–9, commencing and ending on the 5th of July, there cannot be expected from the British West Indies more than 120,000 tons; from the Mauritius 35,000 tons; and from East India, 46,000. Let us see how this calculation is borne out by facts. The latest advices state that there has been a falling-off of 150,000 tons in the shipments from the Mauritius; and, with regard to the importation, it must not be forgotten that the greater part of the exportation from the Mauritius has already arrived, and is no part of the supply of the year 1848–9, commencing on the 5th of July. The accounts from Calcutta state that in the month of February the exports were 34 per cent less than the corresponding period of last year. It is true that there is a trifling increase in the imports from East India up to the present time; but the imports already received from East India have not been affected by the late and present ruinous state of prices. Those supplies are sent upon orders which went out twenty-three months ago. This sugar is purchased and must come home, whatever 337 the loss. Let us, however, examine into the state of the further supply. The whole question turns, as far as revenue is concerned, upon whether the supply is derived from colonial or slave sugar, the duty on one being 20s., and on the other 13s. by the Government plan, and 10s;. by that of the Committee. The entire stocks of sugar in Europe in January last was 145,000 tons, against 110,000 tons in the year previous. But, on the 1st of Juno, the entire stocks in Europe were 150,000 tons this year, against 120,000 tons last year; 115,000 tons in 1846; 93,000 tons in 1845; 70,000 in 1844; and 85,000 tons in 1843. The stocks of sugar on the Continent were, therefore, larger on the 1st of June than was ever before known in the history of Europe; and there can be no doubt but that there will be an ample supply of foreign sugar, though the supply of foreign sugar in this market is not so great as it was last year. But now let us look at the stocks in England. My speculation in drawing up the report was, that on the 5th of July there would be about 65,000 tons of British colonial sugar in stock. I find that the stocks on the 1st of July, 1848, of British colonial sugar were 76,510 tons, against 73,178 on the 1st of July, 1847, showing an increase of 3,332 tons. But, from the best information I can obtain, there was a decrease in the deliveries in June and part of May, consequent on the expectation that there would be a reduction at least of 1s. per cwt., if not of 4s. It is shown by all the sugar circulars of the day that from the 22nd of May there was a rise in British possessions sugar of 2s. to 3s. per cwt., in consequence of a belief that the Committee would recommend a differential duty of 10s. and that that recommendation would be adopted. The consequence was, that there was one of the shortest delivery in June and the latter part of May lately on record. Therefore, I have a right to assume that there are at least 11,000 tons stock of colonial sugar, constituting a part of the stock of 76,000 tons, artificially created by the suspension of trade arising out of the pending legislation on this subject. If that point be granted, it will be admitted that, though nominally 76,000 tons, the stock is virtually only 65,000 tons. But that stock has been further increased by the adventitious circumstance that in the month of June there was a prevalence of strong westerly gales and fine weather, which brought us a most unusual supply, 338 amounting to 23,000 tons of West India sugar alone. But in proportion as that supply came early to hand by quick voyages, so it will diminish the supply of the year beginning the 5th of July, 1848, and ending 1849. I find, however, that while on the 1st of July there was an increase of 3,332 tons in the stock of colonial sugar, there was a decrease of 4,198 tons in the stock of foreign sugar, being 42,413 tons in 1847, against 38,215 in 1848; the whole stock, foreign and colonial, being 114,725 tons against 115,591 tons in 1847. But now we come to the question of supply. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stakes his financial reputation that it will amount to 240,000 tons of colonial sugar in the year commencing July 5, 1848–9. The right hon. Gentleman said, that no man in his senses could have made the prediction which I made; but I beg now to retort that no man in his senses would believe that 240,000 tons of British colonial sugar will come into consumption in the year 1848–9. Let it be borne in mind—and I hope the House will never forget it—that we are not discussing the year ending the 5th of July, 1848, but the year ending 5th July, 1849. The importation of the year just ended has not been operated upon by your ruinous policy. The sugar had been grown and must come home, whether it sells well or ill for those who have produced it. There will be no more crops grown upon those expectations; and the falling-off in the last six months is no test of what the falling-off will be in the next twelve months. But what is the falling-off? The imports of sugar into this country from the 1st of January to the 1st of July, 1847, were 142,248 tons; while in the same months in 1848 they have only been 113,536, being a falling-off of 28,712 tons in the first half-year of 1848, which is not to come into the consideration of the current year's supply, ending 5th of July, 1849. But where is this falling-off? There is an increase of 20 tons on the East Indian sugar which left Calcutta before the reduction was known there. The falling-off in the imports is entirely in West India and Mauritius sugars, the decrease on the former being 15,068 tons, and on the latter 13,664 tons. If this calculation be well founded, the importation will not exceed 200,000 in the year 1848–9. With a stock nominally 76,000 tons, but virtually only 65,000 tons, the whole supply would be 265,000 tons. What man, then, in his senses, who knows anything of the sugar 339 trade, can believe that he will have 240,000 tons of British sugar at his disposal next year; the lowest stock on record being 45,700 tons. If I be right, and you reduce your stock even to 45,000 tons, and assuming that the nominal stock is only 65,000 tons, that will leave only 220,000 tons available. Supposing, however, that you reduce your stock still lower by 5,000 tons, which is far below the lowest on record, you will still have only 225,000 tons of colonial produce available. This calculation, at any rate, must form the basis for our calculation of revenue, if we wish to approximate to anything near correctness.
I come next to the question of how far we are justified in assuming that there will be this increased consumption. The right hon. Gentleman has said, that no man in his senses could calculate on an increase of anything like 30,000 tons. Now we will see if he is right. In the three years, 1845, 1846, 1847, the average increase of consumption has been 28,000 tons. There was a fall of 11s. 9d. in 1845; there was no fall in 1846; and in 1847 there was a fall of 6s. in price, making an average fall in the three years of 5s, 11d. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I believe he knows very little about the matter.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that that statement did not give a fair view of the effects of reducing the duty.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
I have given a great deal of study to the subject, and I venture to predict that any estimates I may make will be better founded than those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There was then an average fall of 5s. 11d., and an average increase of 28,000 tons. But there is a fall in the present price, as compared with last year; of 4s. 8d.; and if 4s. be added for the reduction of duty on three-fourths of the sugar consumed—(and supposing half went into the pockets of the planter, as there is every reason to believe it would have done, inasmuch as there was no sooner a credited rumour of an alteration, than the price of slave-grown sugar fell 1s., and that of colonial rose 2s., the effect being to bring the nose of the slaveholder to the grindstone, and compelling him to reduce his profits, and making him sell his sugar cheaper)—and supposing we take it half-way between the fall in the one and the rise in the other, that would create a further reduction of 2s. per cwt., in price, giving 6s. 8d. reduction on the whole, 340 which is a greater reduction than has taken place on the average in the last three years. Besides this, the quantity consumed being greater, the average of 28,000 tons increase on the consumption of the last three years ought to be still further increased. But that is not the only ground for suspecting an increased consumption. We have the consumption of the first quarter of a year when there was great distress, and that quarter gave a consumption of 74,000 tons. We have seventeen years' experience to guide us, and on an average consumption of 49,848 tons in the first quarter of the year, experience shows an increase on the last three quarters, on the promise of the first quarter of 19,081 tons. If the average of seventeen years gives an excess on the consumption of the first quarter of 19,000 tons, it does not require any great stretch of speculation on a quarter's consumption of 74,000, to suppose an increase considerably over that of 19,000 tons. But if we reckon it at that ratio only, we get an increase to 310,000 on the year.
Some observations were made the other night by hon. Members not now present—the hon. Member for Dover, and the hon. Member for Liverpool—on the falling-off in the consumption in the last month, and in part of the month of May. It is most true that there is that falling-off; but, at the same time, the consumption in the month ending the 5th of June, of British sugar was 25,599 tons, which, being multiplied by 12, gives 307,188 tons per annum. But though it be true that there was a decrease in the consumption of sugar in the five months ending the 5th of June last, as compared with the corresponding period of last year, there was concurrently a great increase in the consumption of molasses, which, as hon. Members well know, is part of the produce of the sugar care; and, as far as the revenue is concerned, fills the pockets of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as sugar itself. In the five months ending the 5th of June, there was an increase in the consumption of molasses of 52,211 cwts., or 2,611 tons. Molasses pay a duty of 5s. 3d. per cwt., and the 2,611 tons of molasses brought in as much revenue as 995 tons of sugar would have done. Consequently, against a fall of 859 tons of sugar there was an increase in molasses which equals 995 tons of sugar. Therefore, as far as revenue is concerned, the revenue will be increased in the first five months of this year as compared with 341 the first five months of last year. The fact of the matter is, that colonial sugar, as well as foreign sugar, have been of late kept hack. I have been told, that within two days in the present month, that is, within the 7th and 8th inst., somewhat more than 20,000 tons of foreign sugar have paid duty; and the estimate of the trade is, that independent of these 20,000 tons of foreign sugar which have paid duty at 18s. 6d., 143,840 tons of sugar have been entered for home consumption up to the present time. If, then, you add the 20,000 tons upon which duty was paid within the two days after the end of the half year, you will find that the sugar which has paid duty up to the 8th of July was 163,840 tons; but if to that you add the consumption of molasses, it will give a consumption for the year of 330,068 tons. I do not say, that the whole of the 20,000 tons released on the 7th and 8th of July would have paid duty but for the advantage of 1s. 6d. per cwt.; but, on the other hand, I contend that an amount equal to one-half of it has been kept back in colonial sugar waiting for the reduction of duty on colonial sugar to 13s. Therefore, to say that the consumption of the last two months is to be taken as the usual consumption, is to argue upon a very erroneous and mistaken idea.
I think. Sir, I am justified in calculating that 310,000 tons at the least will be consumed in the year ending the 5th of July, 1849, even under the plan of the Government, and that nut more than 225,000 tons will be British. By the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he anticipates a revenue from sugar of 4,625,000l.; but by the plan of the Committee, the revenue would amount to 3,950,000l. It is, however, necessary to state that the scheme of the Committee docs not provide for those reductions which the right hon. Gentleman expresses his intention to allow. The right hon. Gentleman is to give a loan of 500,000l, a reduction of duty on rum amounting to 70,000l., and an advantage to distillers, who are to he allowed in future to pay duty on their spirits when they come into consumption, instead of making prompt payment at the worm's end. This advantage, I understand, is to be given to the distillers, and being reckoned by them as equal to one halfpenny a gallon, on 20,700,000 gallons, would cost a further sum of 40,000l., which, added to 70,000l., 342 the reduction of duty on rum, makes up 110,000l. There is then to be added the loan of 500,000l., and thus we shall have, according to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, deductions to the extent of 610,000l. The plan as proposed by the Committee did not provide for any of those reductions; and thus, in point of fact, their proposal would have yielded the revenue within 65,000l. as large a sum as that which the right hon. Gentleman anticipates from his plan, whilst it would have given much more efficient relief to the planters, and cheaper sugar to the people of this country. The proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) would prove the most advantageous for the revenue, because he does not contemplate any loan or any advantages to he given to the distillers. By his scale of duties he would raise 4,'722,000l., or 127,000l. more than the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
My own proposition was the imposition of an ad valorem duty of 26½ per cent on the long price of British sugar, and 53 per cent upon foreign sugar. Assuming the present price of 25l. per ton, and assuming that, which has been already clearly demonstrated, that the average of foreign sugar imported into this country is 2l. 10s. per ton higher in value than the average of British sugar, the result of my proposition would be, that an ad valorem duty would produce a sum total of 4,195,000l. And here, Sir, I must take leave to say that my proposition was not accompanied by any of the drawdacks which are to ac-company the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that if carried into effect, it would prove, as far as revenue is concerned, much less costly than the plan of Her Majesty's Government. The revenue derivable from sugar, as anticipated by the right hon. Gentleman, is 4,625,000l., but deducting the loan of 500,000l., the 70,000l. loss upon rum duty, and the 40,000l. or a halfpenny per gallon on 20,700,000 gallons of spirits, there would be only 4,655,000l. by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plan against a revenue of 4,195,000l. by my ad valorem plan. But, Sir, let us examine and contrast the practical working of the different plans as time works on. In the year 1851–52, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's duty on British possessions' sugar will have worked down to 10l., and his duty on foreign sugar to 15l. 10s. Assuming, then, that 343 the consumption remains 310,000 tons, of which 225,000 shall be British, and 85,000 foreign—
Permit me, Sir, to go one step further, and contrast these schemes in 1854–55, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plan will have worked down to even duties on all sugars, British and foreign. And I will first assume the consumption to remain stationary at 310,000 tons; and next I will contrast the working of the three plans, assuming the speculations of the Economist to he correct, and that the consumption rises to 400,000 tons a year, of which I estimate that 290,000 might be British, and 110,000 tons would be foreign.
£ By the Committees plan, the revenue obtained will continue to be 3,950,000 By Lord George Bentinck's ad valorem plan it will continue 4,195,000 By the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer it will only be 3,457,500 Namely—British possessions at 10l. Tons. 225,000 2,250,000 Foreign sugar at 15l. 10s. 85,000 1,317,500 3,567,500 Less rum duties, &c 110,000 £3,457,500
Now, Sir, with respect to this proposition of mine, I must say that, in my opinion, the day will come when this House must adopt a measure somewhat similar to that which I have proposed. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows well the unfairness of the 344 existing duties, and the proof of it is to be found in the circumstance that colonial sugar is now in his possession, which has been left upon his hands for non-payment of the duty of 14s., British merchants having actually abandoned to the Government parcels of low British plantation sugars, rather than take it out of the docks, paying the British duty of 14s. upon it. The direct tendency of a fixed duty is to discourage the production of sugar, to discourage the employment of shipping, and to discourage the trade of the refiner. The effect is, moreover, greatly to injure the planter, because it obliges him to employ skilled labour, which is the most difficult to be obtained in the colonies; but, more than all, the principle of a fixed duty, as compared with an ad valorem duty, is unjust to the poor of this country. You who talk about cheap sugar for the poor see how your professions will he realised. I perceive that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) laughs; but I will make it clear to him and his friends, who upbraid the protectionists for seeking to make sugar dear, that it is not we who have attempted to make sugar dear to the poor, though we have not been in the habit of deluding the poor by "doing them mere lip service." We were the men who really worked to uphold the interests of the poor—we were the men who made the proposal which would have given "cheap sugar" to the poor man. Ours was the only practical proposition ever made to Parliament to give "cheap sugar" to the poor man.
1854–1855. £ Lord George Bentinck's ad valorem plan as before 4,195,000 The Committee's as before 3,950,000 The Chancellor of the Exchequer's plan, namely, 10l. per ton promiscuously on 310,000 tons of sugar, without reference to origin, and deducting 110,000 on account of reduction of rum duties and relaxations to grain distillers 2,990,000 1854–55. British. Foreign. Consumption assumed to be 400,000 tons, namely 290,000 110,000 Lord George Bentinck's ad valorem plan— British. £ £ 290,000 at 10l. 6s. 8d. Foreign. 2,996,666 5,416,666 110,000 at 22l. 2,420,000 Committee's plan— British. £ 290,000 at 10l. 2,900,000 5,100,000 110,000 at 20l. 2,200,000 Chancellor of Exchequer's plan— 4,000,000 tons of sugar of all sorts, at 10l. 4,000,000l.; less rum duties, &c., 110,000 3,890,000
I think I shall be able to show very clearly that, notwithstanding the pretended anxiety evinced for the poor man by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester would have the effect of making the "poor man's" sugar dearer than it would be by the plan of the Committee, and far dearer than it would be by the ad valorem scale of duties which I had the honour to propose, and which received the support of all the Protectionist Members of the Committee, and was defeated by the Government and the free-traders. If hon. Gentlemen will refer to the reports, pages 17 and 18 of the white book, and pages 19 and 20 of the blue book, they will find that I proposed to give the poor man sugar at a cheaper rate than either the hon. Member for Manchester, or the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If they will turn to those reports 345 they will find that, taking the lowest quality of sugar coming into consumption, and taking the higher quality, especially slave-grown sugar, consumed by the rich, that the price would stand at 23l 10s. per ton for the lowest, and 28l. per ton for the better quality of sugar consumed by the poor; and that 47l. would be the price of the highest quality consumed by the rich. This would show that, by my proposition, sugar would he provided for the poor at the lowest possible price, and at a price much lower than that proposed by hon. Gentlemen on the free-trade benches, who talk so loudly about "cheap sugar for the poor," but who really do so little for the poor. The operation of an ad valorem duty would be to tax the rich man highly, and to tax the poor man in proportion to the value of the coarser sugar which he consumes.
I understand that the hotter sort of low sugar used by the poor would sell at 28l. a ton, and under my scale pay a duty of 7s. 5d. per cwt. Under the recommendation of the Committee it would pay 10s. per cwt. Under the proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester it would pay 14s. per cwt.; and under the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the noble Lord at the head of the Government, it would pay 13s. per cwt. Now, let us come to a still lower quality of sugar—a quality which would be most extensively consumed by the poor if they could get it. But your duty is so prohibitory that the sugar is not consumed here, but is sent to the Continent, where it fetches 2s. or 3s. per cwt. more than it produces here; thus denying our own poor of the advantage of its consumption, and confining its use to the poor of foreign countries. This sugar stands at 23s, 6d. per cwt., with 14s. duty paid upon it, being 147¾ per cent ad valorem—a duty absolutely prescriptive of its use in this country; but if our ad valorem scale were applied, it would pay only 6s. 2¾d. duty, and could be sold to the "poor" of this country for 2¾d. per lb. The duty to he paid upon that sugar, under our ad valorem scale, would be 6s. 2¾d. per cwt.; it would be 10s. under Sir Thomas Birch's resolution, 14s. under the proposition of Mr. Bright, and 13s. according to the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have been speaking of colonial sugar. I will next take the case of foreign sugar, which it is proposed to maintain at 20s.; but upon which I propose to put a duty of 53 346 per cent. According to my proposition, the poor man would pay on foreign sugar 14s. 10d. per cwt.; under the proposition of the hon. Member for Manchester he would pay 18s. 7d.; and under the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he would pay 20s. Now, we come to the rich man's sugar—the sugar of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester—and I will show you that he is not so hard upon himself as he is upon the poor. The hon. Gentleman has gone upon the true principle of the Manchester school so characteristically enunciated in the significant speech of Mr. Alderman Brooks—" Lord bless yon, Sir, we are all for ourselves in this world." I will now take a glance at sugar not sold for 2½d. per lb., but for 5d. and 6d. per lb. Colonial sugar at 47l. a ton would pay, under my proposition, 12s. 5d. per cwt., under the proposition of the hon. Member for Manchester, 14s. per cwt., and under the proposition of the Government, 13s. This is colonial sugar; but it is with respect to slave-grown sugar that the hon. Gentleman specially seeks to deal so tenderly with himself. Under my proposition the hon. Gentleman would have to pay a duty of 24s. 10¾d But, no! He takes good care to let himself down easy at 18s. 6d. per cwt.—the Chancellor of the Exchequer would impose upon him a duty of 20s.
Now, Sir, I think that I have shown that, notwithstanding all that was attempted to be maintained by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, and others who followed him at the opposite side, that the Committee were seeking to "make sugar dear for the poor man," and that they had thrown his interests overboard; "that they had totally overlooked and forgotten one great class, the poor consumers;" that we were in reality the only men who were working silently, unostentatiously, but hard, honestly and with sincerity, for "the poor man." I think I have shown that we were the persons who worked long hours by day, and, I may add with truth, long hours by night, to discover a scale by which the poor man might be lightly taxed, while at the same time, the consumption of sugar might be greatly encouraged. This would have been effected had not the influence of the Government been brought to bear against us.
I will further show you that if my suggestion had been carried, the duty on the sugar of the poor man might have been 347 reduced three farthings in the pound. I would have reduced it in this way. By an ad valorem duty on British free-labour sugar the highest quality for the poor might be sold for 3d. per lb., and the second quality for 2½d. per lb. The better descriptions of sugar for the rich might be sold for 5d. and 6d. per lb. The price of slave-labour sugar, according to the suggestion of the Committee, would be 3¼d. per lb.; according to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Manchester it would be 3¾d.; and according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer 3¾d. Thus the suggestion of the Committee would have reduced the price by two farthings less than the proposition of the hon. Member for Manchester, or of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
With the indulgence of the House, I will read a table of the several duties payable under the different plans which have been propounded to the House;—*
Now, Sir, having, I hope, dispelled the imputation that in our anxiety to serve the colonies we had forgotten the interests of the poor man, I must beg permission to make a few observations in answer to the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, who alleges that the slave trade has not received any stimulus by the Act of 1846. It will be within the recollection of the House that the Committee which sat in the year 1842, of which Lord Sandon was the Chairman, reported—that the slave trade was then diminishing altogether in amount, through the exertions and improved quality and system of our cruisers, and the depressed condition of the sugar planters of Cuba and Brazil.Such was the state of the slave trade in 1842; but what is the state of the slave trade now? I received to-day a letter from a great manufacturer of colonial supplies; and we shall see what he says respecting the stimulus given to the slave trade by the Act of 1846. The house I allude to is that of Frederic Barnes and Co., manufacturers and wholesale ironmongers, 109, Fenchurch-street. The letter is in the following terms:—London, July 10, 1848.In reply to your inquiry, I beg to state that I believe I have supplied in the last ten months more hoes to be used in the sugar plantations in Brazil to one mercantile hosue only, than the whole of the same article supplied to the whole of the British West India Islands in the last ten years. I believe few engaged in our trade have* See the following Tables, cols. 348–49.348been more largely engaged in plantation supplies than my house.(Signed) "FREDERIC BARNES.Duties payable according to the different plans on Low Sugars in ordinary use by the poor.
349 This is, I think, a strong proof of the stimulus given to slave labour by the recent legislation of this House. And the House will recollect that the charge against the British planters is, that they have been guilty of great apathy in adopting modern improvements calculated to dispense with manual labour, by the substitution of improved agricultural implements. "Hoes" specially were the barbarous tools formerly exclusively used in slave colonies for the culture of the soil, but now generally superseded in the British colonies by the use of the "plough." I have also many other evidences of the same fact. I hold in ray hand an advertisement from a Jamaica newspaper, dated March 23, 1848. It is written in Spanish, and commences, "A los Hacendados y Fabricantes de Azucares en la isla de Cuba." It announces to the planters of Cuba that a sale will take place
LONG PRICE. LORD G. BENTINCK'S POOR MAN'S BILL. THE COMMITTEE, SIR THOMAS BIRCH. BRIGHT, STICK TO THE ACT OF 1846. MR. BARKLY. THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER. Duty on British Free Labour Sugar. Duty on Slave Sugar. Duty on British Free Labour. Duty on Slave Sugar. Duty on British Free Labour. Duty on Slave Sugar. Duty on Slave Labour. Duty on British Free Labour. Duty on Slave Sugar. POOR MAN'S SUGAR. £ s. d £ s. d. £ s. d £ s. d £ s d. £ s. d. £ s. d. 28l. p ton. 7 8 5 14 16 10 10 0 0 20 0 0 14 0 0 18 10 0 13 0 0 28s. p cwt. 0 7 5 0 14 10 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 14 0 0 18 6 0 13 0 3d. p lb. 0 0 0¾20/112ƒ 0 0 1½40/112 0 0 1 32/112ƒ 0 0 2 64/112ƒ 0 0 1½ A fraction under 2 The same both for British and slave, as regards "the poor man's sugar." 0 0 1¼64/112ƒ Poor man's sugar the same as Bright and Barkly. 23l. 10s. p ton 6 4 7 12 9 2 10 0 0 20 0 0 14 0 0 18 10 0 1 0 0 23s.6d. p cwt. 0 6 2¾ 0 12 5½ 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 14 0 0 18 6 3 3 0 2½d. p lb. 0 0 0½25/112ƒ 0 0 1¼38/112 0 0 1 32/112ƒ 0 0 2 64/112ƒ 0 0 1½ A fraction under 2 0 0 1¼64/112ƒ RICH MAN'S SUGAR. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. 47l. p ton 12 9 1 24 18 2 10 0 0 20 0 0 14 0 0 18 10 0 21 11 8 13 0 0 20 0 0 47s. p cwt. 0 12 5¾10/5ƒ 1 4 10¾2/5 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 14 0 0 18 6 1 1 7 0 13 0 1 0 0 5 16/112d. p lb. 0 0 1¼18/112ƒ 0 0 2½76/112ƒ 0 0 1 32/112ƒ 0 0 2 64/112ƒ 0 1 1½ A fraction under 2 0 0 2¼23/112 0 0 1¼64/112ƒ 0 0 2 64/112ƒ
350 at Kingston, of copper stills, sugar mills, and other utensils for the manufacture of sugar. I have also another advertisement, bearing the same date, which runs as follows:—
FREE LABOUR—DUTY. SLAVE LABOUR—DUTY. MORE THAN LESS THAN MORE THAN LESS THAN LORD G. BENTINCK. LORD G. BENTINCK. LORD G. BENTINCK. LORD G. BENTINCK. Poor Man. Rich. Pool Man. Rich. Poor Man. Rich. Poor Man. Rich. 1st. 2nd. 3rd. 1st. 2nd. 3rd. 1st. 2nd. 3rd. 1st. 2nd. 3rd. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. p lb. d. d. d. d. d. d. d. d. d. d. d. d. Committee. ¼ 12/112 ¼ 62/112 ¼ 6/112 ½ 6/112 ¾ 26/112 ½ 12/112 Bright ½ 92/112 ¾ 32/112 ƒ 74/112 ¼ 72/112 ½ 74/112 ½ 76/112 Barkly ½ 92/112 ¾ 37/112 ƒ 74/112 ¼ 72/112 ½ 74/112 ¼ 48/112 Wood ½ 44/112 ½ 101/112 ƒ 25/112 ¼ 72/112 ½ 74/112 ½ 72/112To Cuba Sugar Planters.—For Sale, deliverable in Kingston, a set of estates, coppers with still, &c., complete. Also a new horizontal sugar mill with gear, for working by steam or water power. Tills mill was manufactured by the M'Onies of Glasgow, and was only imported last year, and lias never been worked. The above estates' machinery are well worthy the attention of Cuba planters.There is likewise another advertisement ill the same paper, commencing—The following estates' materials well worthy the attention of Cuba planters.—A first-rate cattle mill, coppers, pans, stills, worms, &c., complete.It will be recollected that, in 1844, the Slave Trade Commissioners reported—That in consequence of the low price of sugar the planters of Cuba and Brazil were unable to meet their engagements, to make further purchases of labourers, or to extend their estates.And in 1845, Consul Newcomen, in a despatch to Lord Aberdeen, wrote—That the men best informed on the subject were of opinion that the Brazilian Government must not only concede to England all she required, but would he also bound to the final abolition of the slave trade; and that it was more politic to do so when she might hope for corresponding concessions, than to grant at last from necessity that which she refused to the dictates of humanity.In 1846, Messrs. Drake and Brothers, in their circular, stated—That in consequence of the Sugar Bill of 1846 the island of Cuba was tumultuous with joy, and the news of the passing of the measure was welcomed with general illuminations.They added—That the production of 1848 had exceeded that of previous years, and that the prices obtained by the planter were so large that every one was adopting means to extend his powers of production.The same gentleman, writing immediately before the passing of the Act of 1846, said—That they had no expectation of the price of sugar being improved, except by having the English market open to the produce of the island, which, if effected even by a duty of 50 per cent over the colonial produce, will give double the price then obtained.Let us now see what price the foreign planter is getting for his produce at present. In one of the last despatches from the Havana, bearing date the 27th of January, in the present year, Mr. Kennedy, 351 writing to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Palmerston), say—The net profits of the planters last year have been estimated at from 30 to 50 per cent, according to the different circumstances in which they were individually placed; nor is there any doubt of the fact. Their great advantage, however, I believe, over the British colonists consists in their command of labour; for they can compel their slaves to work sixteen or eighteen hours out of the twenty-four, and keep their engines always at work. The present condition of sugar cultivation is highly flourishing.Now, let US turn to the statement of Consul General Crawford with respect to a particular estate. He says—The estate consists of about sixty caballeries, or 2,000 acres. At 1,000 dollars per caballero, the estate may be valued at 60,000 dollars. The buildings and machinery may be valued at another like sum, which is extreme. There are about 400 negroes, who were bought two years since, who might have been bought, one with another, at 400 dollars each; though, as the owner imported them himself from Africa, they perhaps did not cost him one-fourth of that sum. The estimated value of the negroes is 160,000 dollars; add maintenance of same, wages for one year, &c, 20,000 dollars. He has this year a crop of sugar amounting to no less than 10,000 boxes, which, at 15 dollars a box, would give him a return of 150,000 dollars; so that, in two years, he will reimburse more than the outlay.Lord Palmerston informed the Committee, on the authority of Lord Howden, that 60,000 slaves were imported into Brazil last year; and Senor Cliffe (a surgeon in the Brazilian navy) said he believed the average was 72,000 per annum; yet the hon. Member for Manchester would persuade us "that the slave trade had not been aggravated in character or increased in amount by the Act of 1846." Of the increased horrors of the trade there is abundant evidence. Senor Cliffe says—That the mortality is enormous in consequence of the scarcity of water on board the ships, which produced the most fatal consequences in tropical climates;and he added, that he knew a case where, out of a hundred and sixty slaves, only ten escaped, and they were in such a condition that they were sold for 39l. There is also abundant evidence of the manner in which the negroes are "packed" in the ships:—The negroes—chiefly boys of from ten to twelve years of age—are laid close together on their sides, and then the sailors lay a plank over them, jump upon it, and thus jam them down so as to fit close.Captain Matson says, "they are packed like salt-fish;" and Mr. M'Crea, a surgeon in Her Majesty's service, gives similar testimony, Senor Cliffe observes— 352That those who had the more iron constitutions survive, but they are horrible to look upon—the bones of their knees stands out like large stones, the calves of their legs have disappeared, and the abdomen is very much bloated.This is the account given of the state of things in 1846; but it is also confirmed as being a true account of what happens now. Lord Howden, in his last despatch to Lord Palmerston, dated in June last, says—That his estimate, gained from the best sources of information, is, that 60,000 Africans are imported annually into Brazil.Lord Howden also stated that it was a well-known fact that a vessel had made five or six voyages last year from Rio Janeiro, and landed a cargo of slaves each time in safety. She had brought between 2,000 and 3,000. Mr. Atkins, the Consul at Rio, says, that there are now two steam vessels in that port, regularly employed in the slave trade, but under the Brazilian flag; and the American brig George, sailing under Brazilian colours, sailed not long before with 726 slaves on board, 100 of whom perished on board, chiefly from deficiency of water. The latest accounts, too, from the coast of Africa and Brazil show "that slave trade is on the increase. On the coast of Africa slavers are literally swarming;" from Brazil, the last packet but one brought intelligence, "that in the short period of two months, 5,000 slaves had been disembarked at Bahia, and 7,000 at Rio Janeiro, Campos, and Rio Grande." Thus in four districts of Brazil alone the number of slaves landed during the first two months of the present year would give an average of 150,000 per annum, or more than twice as many as were calculated to have arrived last year by Lord Howden and Senor Cliffe. Now, Sir, with these facts before us, I will leave it to the House to decide between me and the hon. Member for Manchester, whether the slave trade has or has not been stimulated by our recent legislation. Upon that ground it is that I appeal to Her Majesty's Ministers. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, when he introduced the measure of 1846, declared to this House that if it was calculated to stimulate the slave trade he would not adhere to it; and Earl Grey also declared his abhorrence of the slave trade, adding a declaration of his belief that the measure he was then supporting—the Act of 1846—would not tend to increase, but to diminish it. These were Earl Grey's words:—He himself utterly abhorred the slave trade; and he would not adopt any course that would tend 353 to increase it; but he was bound to say, he believed that in passing this measure, so far from increasing the slave trade, that it would be the most likely means of putting an end to it.After the facts I have adduced, I will leave it to any man to say whether the slave trade has not been greatly stimulated by that legislation, and whether Earl Grey, on the authority of his own words, is not bound to give his assistance in furthering the repeal of such a measure?
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Milner Gibson) said the other night that the cotton manufacturers had never asked for protection. But when the right hon. Gentleman said that, he forgot all the protection they received during the last half century, not in this country only, but in the East Indies and in the colonies. He forgot also a protection which was referred to before the Committee—a protection which the cotton manufacturers enjoy still over all other interests—I allude to the drawback on soap. In that respect the cotton manufacturers have an advantage even over the woollen manufacturers. Thus the woollen manufacturers are only allowed a drawback of three-fourths the excise duty on "hard soap," and of half the excise duty on soft soap. The cotton manufacturers have secured for themselves the full drawback of the entire excise duty on "hard soap," and seven-eighths of the excise duty on "soft soap."
§ MR. BRIGHT
Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to tell him that the cotton manufacturers use no soap at all in their manufactures.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
Then, if they do not use it at all, I am at a loss to understand why the cotton manufacturers should have been so anxious to secure to themselves by law this invidious monopoly and distinction of a special advantage in the amount of drawback over their rivals the woollen manufacturers.
Sir, with regard to the whole measure, I would observe, that I do not see on what ground we are to be called upon to injure the West India colonists for the benefit of the slaveholders, or why, instead of making the slaveholder pay a duty, they should be called upon—as the supporters of this measure seemed to prefer to do—to play a game of "beggar my neighbour." Why, for instance, the English, Scotch, and Irish distiller should have 70,000l. a year taken from them—why all out sympathies should be for the stranger, and all our adverse legislation for those who are nearest home.
354 Sir, there is another great interest which is to be served in the like manner. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not been above breaking faith with the shipowners. In 1846, when advocating the measure of that year, the right hon. Gentleman, in enumerating its advantages, said it would stimulate the colonial trade, give sugar cheap to the poor, and secure an enormously increased trade to the shipowners of England. Thus spoke the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 27th of July, 1826:—There is one class of merchants in this country whose interests my noble Friend on a former occasion advocated—the British shipowner, to whom I believe it will he most advantageous. At present the carrying trade of sugar from Cuba and Brazil is carried on mainly in foreign bottoms. I trust that the result of this change will be that it will be almost entirely carried on in British ships. Under the navigation laws of this country, sugar from Brazil and Cuba, for consumption in this country, can only come hither in British, Brazilian, and Spanish bottoms. I trust that the sugar will, after this measure is carried, Come home in Britis vessels; and those vessels will not only have the benefit of bringing their cargoes here or carrying them to the other ports in the north of Europe, but they will have also the benefit of the back carriage.It was thus that the right hon. Gentleman tried to seduce the shipowners; and I am very sorry to say that he did succeed in seducing them to give him their support. By promising the shipowners the monopoly of the carrying trade of foreign sugar, the right hon. Gentleman, in 1846, condescended to attempt to bribe, and succeeded in bribing, the shipping interest to support him. As he could bribe them, however, so he could bilk them it seems; but I must say that I cannot pity the shipowners for having been so bilked, they having submitted to be so bribed. I cannot help saying that the right hon. Gentleman has chosen a most inopportune moment for repealing the navigation laws, whereby an inundation of 17,000 tons of foreign sugar, imported in foreign bottoms, and at present excluded by the navigation laws from consumption in this country, would at once be let in to overwhelm the market of British plantation sugar. This sugar so imported in "unprivileged bottoms" (amounting, as I have said, to 17,000 tons at this moment in the United Kingdom), stands at 2s. 6d. a ton less in price than than which comes ill privileged bottoms. I hope the West India interest will not forget this, or that the time at which it is done makes the blow inflicted on them a still harder one. 355 Sir, before I sit down I must say a few words on the financial question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it seems, has most strangely discovered a million and a half of revenue. I rejoice to hear it; because if three months ago it was a question whether the finances of the country would allow of our pausing for the sake of a few hundred thousands sterling of revenue in the threatened destruction of the British West Indies, that question must be entirely set at rest now. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord at the head of the Government have now discovered, not "a missing despatch," but "a missing budget"—a whole budget which they had totally overlooked when they came down to Parliament and asked us to renew the income tax for three years. Then, it seems, the noble Lord could see nothing of the 350,000l. from the malt duties, on which he now calculates; and yet a good financier, or a Chancellor of the Exchequer who knew his business, ought to have known that he could calculate on that sum, because six months' credit is always given for the malt duties, and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman ought to have known that this increased consumption of malt had been brought to charge, and what he had to expect at least six months ago. Nor did we hear anything of this 1,500,000l. of saved and new revenue when we were called upon to renew the income tax. But there was also another item which was very gingerly touched by the right hon. Gentleman the other night. I asked the right hon. Gentleman, on a former occasion, the question whether he had not omitted from his calculation the 800,000l. received for the corn duties; and he answered me most distinctly "that the corn duties were included in the estimate of the Customs revenues." He now tells "they were not" You must, therefore, add that sum to the 1,500,000l., making in all about 2,300,000l., as the grand total of revenue which was concealed from us when we were asked to renew the income tax. The noble Lord either thought it possible, in February, to go on with a deficiency of 2,300,000l., or he was aware that he had this 2,300,000l. concealed in reserve. I hope Ministers have not played their hand, as if it were a game of whist, where "the errors and oversights of the one party are held to he the fair game gain of the other," and where the game being desperate, a 356 party may have recourse to the questionable finesse of a "wilful revoke," as the last chance of saving the odd trick, which would otherwise lose the rubber. I attribute no such proceeding to the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman. I frankly acquit them by giving them credit for the most entire and simple-minded ignorance. The malt duties were, no doubt, overlooked. The corn duties, amounting to 800,000l., were bonâ fide totally forgotten by the Whig Chancellor of the Exchequer. But if the state of the revenue turned out so different from what had been expected, and if 40,000l. of copper duties can be spared and thrown away, why not spare some revenue to enable you to give the British colonies the and which they want, and without which they must expire? Thus the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman are reduced to one or other horn of the dilemma. Either when the noble Lord made his financial statement, he was ignorant of these branches of revenue, or he calculated on the ignorance of his opponents. But I will do the noble Lord the justice to suppose that he did not use any of that finesse which is allowable at the game of whist, where the errors of one party are the game of the other, but is not to be endured in the administration of the affairs of a great nation. I will not believe that the noble Lord, seeing the game desperate, made a wilful revoke, and trusted to his adversaries not observing it.
Sir, I am aware that the Motion I am about to support will increase the price of sugar. What may be the amount of that increase? It is half a farthing per lb. I deeply regret it. But are we, for the sake of such a small difference in price, to refuse to do justice to the British colonies? My right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), the other night, painted in glowing colours the advantage of cheap sugar to the people of this country—" how it gave zest to their mawkish gruel—how it sweetened their coarse tea, and gave a relish to their tasteless coffee." But much as I value the advantages of cheap sugar for the poor, I do not think the operatives of this country will be tempted by my right hon. Friend, for even these advantages, to commit such an injustice as we are asked to commit towards the West India colonies. I do not think even if some greater tempter—the most subtle of all tempters—were to come from below, and offer them cheap sugar purchased at such a price, he would succeed. I do not think the people of this 357 country will consent to show themselves so unworthy of their honourable reputation. I do not believe the people of this country, although they earn the means by which they purchase by the sweat of their brows, could be tempted, by a promise that they would save half a farthing a pound in their sugar, to and in doing an act of injustice. I do not believe, Sir, that the people of this country, nursed as they have been in the bosom of the Church of England, would be led by any such considerations. I believe, to use the words of the late Lord Harrowby, that they "will not dare to weigh gold against the blood of the African slave;" to use the words of the late Daniel O'Connell, "they will not consent to got a larger loaf and a Father's curse"—our Father that is above us. Neither the peasantry, the operatives, Or the middle classes of the people of this country, will condescend to put to themselves the unworthy, the degrading question—Isne tibi melius suadet qui ut rem, facias rem, Si possis, recte; si non, quocumque modo rem?No, Sir, hard are the earnings, by their industry, of the English people, out of which they have to purchase their scanty and small comforts, and no people understand better the value of thrift and frugality than they do; but deeply engraved on their hearts, side by side with their value of frugality and thrift, are their high principles of morality and virtue.Vilius argentum est auro, virtutibus aurum.This, Sir, is the proud motto of the people of England. Nursed in the bosom of the English Church, taught the principles of honesty, morality, and virtue from their earliest youth, they will not consent, cither that the blood and sufferings of the wretched African should weigh like a nightmare on their consciences, and disturb their peaceful slumbers, nor will they consent that the ruin and beggary of their fellow-countrymen connected with the colonics should he at their doors. Sir, they will continue to cherish the glorious, the royal maxims of their joyous boyhood—…pueri ludeutes. Rex eris, aiunt Si recte facies. Hic murus aheneus esto. Nil conscire sibi, nullâ pallescere culpâ.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
As I admitted on Friday night, the noble Lord is fully entitled to the credit of being heard by this House on a question to which he has devoted so much labour, and of which it is due to him to say he has made himself master. But I must say he has certainly used that privilege to the utmost. The 358 noble Lord has delivered a speech, of which but a very few words at the beginning, and perhaps a word at the end, are applicable to the Motion which is now under consideration. The rest of that speech, able and well-informed as it was, if it have any bearing on the Motion, is a bearing against it; because the noble Lord argued that it would he a great advantage to have sugar cheaper; that it was desirable that the duties should he reduced; and very strangely, therefore, he intimated his intention of voting for a Motion to keep the duties as they were, and not admit of any reduction. But the noble Lord gave us several quotations—several Latin quotations—at the end of his speech, which are certainly not now or unknown to this house; and, if I may give him one In return, I should suppose that late on Friday night he felt that his prospect was not so favourable as to-night, and that, like a great Roman general, he would show himself—Unis qui nobis cunctando restituit rem.The noble Lord, in the course of his speech, seems, in a most extraordinary way, to have taken for granted that all those principles which have been laid down, and to which I thought consent was generally given, with respect to the price of sugar, were unfair, and that the price would he diminished if there were simply a differential duty between the Brazilian and colonial article. He argued, that if you reduce the duty from 14s. to 10s. on colonial, you would thereby effect a great reduction of price. If a quantity of foreign sugar is to be introduced at a certain duty, that foreign sugar must regulate the price. The whole argument has been, whether just or unjust, that because the cost of production is much greater by free than by slave labour, therefore it is necessary to impose an additional duty. Let us take the figures of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Godson). Without admitting the accuracy of the figures—as they agree in general with the colonial estimates, I will take them as they stand. He supposed the cost of producing sugar in Cuba to be 10s. per cwt., and in Demerara and Jamaica 20s. Freight, and other charges, would be 7s. more. He proposed that a 10s. duty should be imposed on colonial sugar, making it 37s., and a 20s. duty on foreign sugar, making it 37s. also, it is quite evident, however, that the difference of duty in favour of the colonies goes not to produce cheapness in this country, 359 but to compensate the planters for the additional cost of production. The noble Lord is mistaken, therefore, if he supposes that the reduction of the colonial duty without reducing the foreign, will produce cheapness in this country. But the question which is now before the Committee is not what the noble Lord stated. The noble Lord has gone into this question, in the first place, as if we were considering the proposal of a duty of 25 or 26 per cent upon colonial sugar, and of 53 per cent upon foreign sugar—a proposition which was not even considered by the Committee of which the noble Lord was Chairman, and which neither he nor any one else has proposed to the Committee of this House. The noble Lord at the end of his speech also argued as if we were now considering whether we should prohibit altogether slave-labour sugar. Now, I must beg the noble Lord and the Committee to recollect that the question before the House is between two propositions, namely, that of the Government and that of the hon. Member for Leominster, both of which admit that slave-labour sugar is to be introduced. Both admit it at a certain differential duty. Both allow that at the end of six years there shall be an end of that differential duty, and that free-labour sugar and slave-labour sugar shall then come in at the same rate of duty. That is the question before the House, and not whether we shall have a duty of 25 or 26 per cent on one kind of sugar, and a duty of 53 per cent on another; not whether we shall exclude slave-labour sugar altogether, but whether the one scheme or the other—both schemes admitting slave-labour sugar, and both allowing the differential duty to be equalised within six years—whether the one or the other of these schemes shall be adopted by this Committee. It is to this question, therefore, that I beg to address the few observations which I have to make to the Committee. It appears to me that the question is really this—whether for the benefit of the consumer, for the benefit of the West Indies, and finally, without any risk to the revenue, we can afford to reduce the duty on colonial sugar from 14s. to 10s., because, according to the plan of the hon. Gentleman, he proposes that the duty shall be reduced to 14s., that it shall remain at 14s., and that it shall never reach a lower figure. With regard to the consumer, in the first place, it is evident that if there is 4s. per cent of difference in 360 the duty—being 4l. per ton—this, upon a general consumption of 300,000 tons, will be a benefit of 1,200,000l. a year to the consumer—a benefit which is not to be rejected without much consideration. It appears to me that if the people have 1,200,000l.—and if the consumption reaches 400,000 tons, it will be l,600,000l.—if the people have thus much less to pay it will be a great benefit. I would rest any proposition of this kind upon the general observations that were made by Mr. Huskisson in 1830, in which he spoke of the great burden of taxation paid upon articles of general subsistence, and contended that we ought to lighten that burden. He said—See to what an extent your Excise and Customs prove that you do not attend to this consideration; full three-fourths of your revenue are levied under these two heads; and by far the greatest proportion of that amount upon articles necessary, either for the subsistence, the clothing, or the humble comforts of the labourer; or of use in the fabrication of those articles to which his industry is devoted, Let any man look through the list of the Excise and Customs, even now that the beer and leather taxes are removed, and he will find in how great a degree this observation still applies. Candles, hops, licenses, malt, printed goods, soap, British spirits, tea, sugar, tobacco, rum, hemp, timber—here is an enumeration amounting to near 30,000,000l.; but the incidental burden of which, in restraint, impediment, and vexatious interference, may well be estimated at 10,000,000l. more.Now, some of those taxes—those, for instance, upon candles and printed goods, have since been abolished; but the spirit and truth of these general observations still remain, and tell in favour of one proposal before the House, and against the other, namely, in favour of the proposal finally to diminish to a considerable extent the price of a great article of subsistence. But it is said that we shall not obtain any sufficient compensation for so great a loss of revenue. It is argued, moreover, that we shall not benefit the West Indies by the adoption of this change. It appears to mc, that the best change for the West Indian interest is a large increase of consumption. Seeing the quantity of sugar that was introduced last year, seeing the quantity that was entered for consumption, seeing the great increase of production throughout the world, it seems to me that the best chance which we can give the West Indians for recovering themselves is by reducing sugar to such a price that there will necessarily be a very large increase of consumption in this country; that the foreign colonies will not he able to 361 supply a great part of that consumption, and that therefore a large portion must come from our own possessions. I think it will be observed, that while reductions of price have not generally told in the first and second years, they have told in the course of years, and produced such a great amount of consumption as the experience of the first year could not have enabled us to anticipate. It is upon that ground that we have supposed that in the course of the present year there would he an increased consumption to the amount of 10,000 or 15,000 tons. I quite admit that there is not in the present measure, as proposed, much ground to expect a large increase of consumption in the present year; but it will be observed that very great increase has been made in the course of the last two years, and that the reduction of price then effected has been attended with an increase in the amount of sugar consumed. Now, I find that the average consumption of the five years beginning with 18:39 was 4,081,000 cwts.; and that the consumption of sugar and molasses for last year was 6,04,5,121 cwts, being an increase of one-half upon the average amount consumed in these five years. But the diminution of price was considerable. In 1839 it was 63s. 4½d.; in 1840, 73s. 10¼d.; in 1841,. 63s. 5¾d.; in 1842, 62s. 5d.; in 1843, 59s. 2d.; and last year it was 42s. 3ld. This shows what we may expect in the way of increased consumption by a diminution of price; nut if you agree to the proposal now before the House you can hardly expect that an immediate increased consumption can take place. I will take various articles on which there was a very great increase of consumption from a reduction of duty. The most remarkable increase was that on coffee. In 1820 the consumption of British plantation coffee, with a duty of 1s. per lb., was 7,000,000 lb.; in 1825, at a duty of 6d., it was 11,000,000 lb.; without any further reduction of duty it increased in 1830 to 22,000,0001b. It was then stationary, because the whole quantity admissible at 6d. was exhausted by consumption; and to comply with the demand shipments of foreign coffee were made from South America to the Cape of Good Hope and brought back to Europe, whereby the article was admissible at 9d. per lb. In 1836 the duty on coffee from India was reduced to 6d. equally with that from the West Indies, and in 1840 the consumption had reached 28,720,735 lb. The duty was 362 again reduced to 4d. per lb. on colonial, and 6d. on foreign coffee; and in 1847 the consumption was 37,470,529 lb. But this is not a solitary instance. Take the consumption of cocoa. with a duty of 6d. per lb., in 1831,. the consumption of cocoa was 502,806 lb. With a duty of 2d. per lb. it rose, in 1841, to 1,928,8471b.; and with a duty of ld. per lb. it rose from 2,246,4731b. in 1842, to 3,107,164 lb. in 1847. With respect to wine, I find that, when the duty was reduced from 9s 1¼d. per gallon to 4s. 10d., the consumption rose from 5,330,091 gallons in 1824, to 7,162,376 gallons in 1828. Then take an article in which there was no reduction of duty, but which was affected by the abolition of the East India Company's monopoly—I mean tea. I find that the price of tea, exclusive of duty was, in 1840, 2s. 6d. per pound, and that in October, 1844, it was only 1s. 6d. Well, in 1842 the consumption was 37,000,0001b., and in 1847 it had risen to 46,000,0001b. Now, there has been nothing like this increase in the consumption of sugar; but at the same time every one is aware how much sugar is desired as an article of consumption by the middle and working classes in this country, and how very much a diminution of the price is likely to lead to an increase of the consumption. I should therefore say that I think it would be very bad policy, when comparing two separate scales of duty one with another—when both end with the same equality of duty, and where there is no superiority of principle in the one over the other—not to take the duty which gives the greatest chance of increased consumption—thereby improving the condition of the people of this country, and enabling them to obtain a very great object of comfort to them; and at the same time giving to the West Indies the best chance of increased consumption for their article—and increasing that consumption without any risk to the revenue. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), who spoke on Friday night, made some observations entirely on the question of revenue, and he doubted whether we shall have such an increased consumption as we expect. I think it will hardly be found a solid argument to take the consumption in June as any criterion, seeing that it was then expected the Committee would come to some resolution which would recommend an entire change in the sugar duties; and it being doubtful what the House would do, 363 the trade was necessarily in a state of uncertainty. We saw at the beginning of the year that there was a very great increase of consumption; and I conceive that that increase will continuo as soon as this question is settled. But, Sir, other questions have been raised with respect to the state of the West Indies; and it is argued by Gentlemen who say that the West Indies are totally ruined, that it is impossible for them to compete with foreign-grown sugar, and that you had therefore better adopt the plan of the hon. Member for Leominster in preference to the plan of the Government. I own I do not see in what respect a certain number of shillings' protection gained in six years will give the hon. Gentleman's plan an advantage over the plan of the Government. The protection we propose is 7s. for the first year, 6s. 6d. for the next year, 6s. for the third year, and 5s. 6d. for the fourth year. The hon. Gentleman proposes a protection of 7s., but it is to be obtained only by keeping the duty as high as it is now. If the proposition of the hon. Gentleman was, that there should be a protection of 2s. more than that proposed by the Government, then undoubtedly the hon. Gentleman's plan would have a certain advantage; but if you combine in your calculation the amount of protection with the advantage that will accrue from an increased consumption, then I think the plan of the Government is preferable to that of the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the cultivation of the West Indies, I think, even upon the view taken of the question by the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Godson), there is no ground for despair. I was glad to find that the hon. and learned Gentleman thought there was not any reason to despond as to the ultimate fate of the West Indies. It is generally admitted that there has been a reduction of wages in those colonies to the amount of 25 per cent. I find it stated in the despatch of the Governor of Antigua that the reduction was equal to 50 per cent, but in the colonies generally it may be fairly taken at 25 per cent. Now, the hon. Gentleman stated that 20s. is reckoned as the cost of production of a cwt. of sugar, 10s. of which go in wages. 25 per cent, therefore, would be a reduction of 2s. 6d. a cwt., making the cost 17s. 6d. instead of 20s. per cwt. If you add to this a protection of 7s. per cwt., which will he the case for the present year, I think it will hardly appear that there is any such 364 advantage given to the slave colonies by the Government plan as hon. Gentlemen who represent the West Indians would have it to be supposed. But, in point of fact, though the noble Lord has represented Cuba to he so prosperous, accounts have been received stating that the same circumstances which have caused distress in the West Indies have operated in Cuba; that the same reduction of price has caused a great loss to those who have property in the slave colonies. We hear of many planters in Cuba being utterly ruined by the reduction of the price of sugar. It was only the other day, when speaking to a gentleman who came to me with a view of asking for a reduction of duty in the course of the present year, I was told by him that upon every ton of sugar he had imported from Brazil in the course of the last year he had lost 5l. I think this shows, what I believe to be the fact, that the very large production of the West Indies since the abolition of slavery, combined with the production of foreign sugar, has lowered the price to such a degree that the growth of sugar has been a losing transaction in the course of the last year. But if that is the case, and if there has been a loss to the slaveowner as well as to the West Indians, then we have no reason to despair as to the future. We may hereafter expect that the amount of production will be reduced, and the cost also of production will be reduced, in consequence of a diminished competition for labour. The result in the first place, then, will be a reduction in the cost and the amount of production; and, in the next place, the amount of production not exceeding the demand, the planter will be able to cultivate at a profit. The noble Lord made an estimate that about 200,000 tons would be imported in the course of the present year from the British possessions. I have a statement here, which has been derived from various sources. [Lord G. BENTINCK: My statement was from the 5th of July of this year to the 5th of July, 1849.] This estimate is from July, 1848, to July, 1849. It is estimated that during that year the quantity of sugar that will be imported from the British West Indies will be 135,000 tons; from the Mauritius, 62,000 tons; and from the British East Indies, 60,000 tons, making a total estimate of 257,000 tons. Of course I cannot guarantee any such statement as that; I can only say that it has been obtained from a very good source, and I think it is 365 likely to be more accurate than the estimate of the noble Lord. We have to add to that quantity the further amount of foreign sugar that will be imported; and my opinion is, that you will have a consumption of from 300,000 to 310,000 tons by the month of July in the next year. It appears to me, therefore, upon a comparison of these plans, that that which the Government has proposed as being more likely to increase the consumption, and, at the same time, to give the people the article at the cheapest price, is the one which the Committee ought to adopt. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) complained of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to the state of the finances; and he declared that he should consider it the bounden duty of the Government to propose some additional taxes in order to make up the deficiency of the revenue of this year. Now, I think my right hon. Friend showed, item by item, which could not be contradicted, that a reduction of expenditure to the amount of 650,000l might be effected this year; and he also stated that, by paying 500,000l. at once into the revenue, derivable from what are called "appropriations in and," instead of reserving it to next year, he might reckon that from these and other sources the amount of the revenue as compared with the expenditure would be such as would leave a deficiency only of between 4,000l. and 5,000l. in the present year. Now, with regard to the general state of affairs, and considering the present condition of Europe, I certainly am not prepared to say that I think it would be the duty of the Government to propose, as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, any additional taxation in the course of the present year. If it should appear at the commencement of the next Session of Parliament that the state of Europe was so threatening that it was necessary to keep up all our establishments at the highest estimate, I should then say that it would not be right to go on another year without making the income exceed the expenditure by means of taxation But if, us I should hope, and as the present aspect of affairs induces me to believe, we should find Europe in a settled state of peace, I should then say that we were bound, by the exercise of the most rigid economy, to bring the expenditure of the country down to a level with the income rather than to make 366 up that expenditure by an increase of taxation. But, at all events, in the present uncertain state of things, we are not now called upon to settle that question. It may be that pacific counsels will prevail, and that the people of Europe will remain at peace. At all events, there is no danger of any disturbance of peace at home. In such a state of things, I hope we shall be enabled to bring our expenditure within our income. But, on the present occasion, I beg leave to submit to the House that this is no question of the prohibition of slave-grown sugar; it is no question of humanity one way or the other. Those who have an objection to the admission of slave-grown sugar will to-night vote for a proposition which admits slave-grown sugar—at present at a differential duty, and at the end of six years on terms of equality with sugar from our own colonies. In that respect, therefore, there is no difference between the proposition of the hon. Member for Leominster and that of the Government. But a difference there is; and I believe it to be a sound difference, namely, that while the proposition of the hon. Gentleman will keep up the differential duty, and enhance the price of sugar, the adoption of the proposition of the Government, without lessening the revenue, will provide better for the comforts of the people, and afford a greater chance to the West Indians to recover themselves from the deep prostration into which they are at present plunged.
§ MR. GOULBURN
agreed with the noble Lord who bad just sat down, that the present question had no reference to the exclusion of slave-grown sugar from the British markets. Unfortunately, he thought, for the character of this country, and for the interests of the colonies, the time had gone by at which that question could be discussed. The House in 1846 adopted a measure by which they resolved to admit slave-grown sugar into the British market. The opponents of slavery were now, therefore, bound to take the best means in their power for maintaining, by other means, the principles for which they previously contended, viz., placing our colonies in such a position that they would be enabled to undersell the foreign producer—and, by underselling the foreign producer, to operate upon the profits of slavery and the slave trade. Agreeing, therefore, with the noble Lord, that the immediate question was not the exclusion of foreign sugar, he maintained that, in considering the comparative-merits 367 of the two plans before the House, they were bound to consider which of the two was most calculated to promote the interests of the colonies, and by that means most effectually to check slavery and the slave trade. He had listened attentively to the observations made by the noble Lord, and if he had not known the state of things in this country, he should have imagined that the noble Lord was speaking at a time when the Treasury was very abundantly filled—when the resources of the country were of such a nature that he was enabled to announce a large excess in the receipt above the expenditure—that we were enjoying those favourable circumstances—and that we were justified in prophesying a continued enjoyment of them for several successive years. The noble Lord talked of relying for the next four years upon a large excess of revenue over expenditure; he talked of abandoning this year 300,000l. of revenue, next year 500,000l., and in the fourth year 1,200,000l.; sums which the noble Lord conceived could be dispensed with with safety to the finances of the country. And the noble Lord, in making these assumptions and abandoning these sources of revenue, had fully before him the state of European affairs; for the noble Lord told them that he could not foresee what the exigencies of public affairs might require in the present state of Europe. In discussing the merits of the two plans before the House, he would not long detain the House. He could not say that either of those plans entirely met with his approbation; he thought that they both partook of one common fault—that they drew no distinction between the East and West India colonies, in the latter of which there was, by reason of the legislation of Parliament, an inefficient supply of labour; but in the former no want of labour at all. In the East India colonies there were none of those impediments to progress that Parliament had thrown in the way of the West Indies, and there was, therefore, with respect to the former, less necessity for relief. He admitted that both the East and West India colonies had this claim upon the Government, that they had been deceived by the assurances of Parliament. They were told, when slave emancipation was passed, that for the future they would only have to compete with the produce of free labour. Neither the East nor the West India colorists entertained the slightest idea that this country, which had been so earnest for the 368 abolition of slavery and the destruction of the slave trade, would ever have sanctioned the introduction of the produce of Cuba and Brazil—supplied by slaves under the aggravated horrors of the slave trade of which they had heard so much during the present debate. Looking at the special claims which the West India planters had upon the Legislature of this country from the manner in which it had dealt with their labouring population, he contended that it was the duty of the Government to have adopted towards them that course which they themselves had announced that it was their intention to pursue—a course which none but the Government could pursue—of affording them some distinctive advantage. At all events they should give to the West India planters such a protection against the foreign producer as would enable them to compete with him successfully. But neither the measure of the noble Lord nor that of his hon. Friend (Mr. Barkly) had the slightest tendency to correct the inequality existing between the case of the British colonist and that of the foreign producer. Driven as he was to choose between the two measures before the House, he certainly had no hesitation in adopting that of his hon. Friend. And he did so for two reasons: first of all, from the effect which the measure of the noble Lord was likely to have upon the finances of the country; and, secondly, because he approved of the measure of his hon. Friend, as being more likely to meet the exigency of the case, from its greater tendency to restore that confidence and credit on which alone they could rely for the rescue of the West Indies from their present lamentable condition. He admitted that, if our finances would boar it, there was no duty that could more properly be largely reduced than the duty on sugar at present. It amounted to no less than 100 per cent, and with such a duty it was ridiculous to talk of free trade. The next highest duty was that on malt, which was equal to 60 per cent. Yet they had given to malt an absolute monopoly in the market by prohibiting the import of malt, while on the sugar of the West Indies they imposed 100 per cent in addition to a restriction on labour, and then thought it hard that the planters should ask protection against the foreign sugar grower. The plan before them proposed a reduction of only 1s. It would be so much money absolutely thrown away—it would confer no benefit either upon the 369 producer or the consumer. The noble Lord had referred to the case of coffee and cocoa, and had stated that in those cases the consumer had received advantages from the reduction of duty; but in those instances the amount of reduction was very large, and materially affected the price; whereas they were now only dealing with a reduction of 1s., which could have no effect upon price, though it involved a considerable sacrifice of revenue. Were they in a condition to make that sacrifice? Was it not possible that in the present state of Europe they might be called upon to put forth all their resources to maintain their position? He thought the noble Lord (Lord, J. Russell) was not justified in the imputation he had cast upon the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) that he wished to impose additional taxes on the country. The noble Lord had only contended that this portion of our revenue should not be sacrificed, but should be retained to meet the exigencies of the future. It had been said that by adding 1s. 7d. to the differential duty proposed by the Government, an increased charge to that amount would be placed upon the public; and the hon. Member for Westbury said that in all cases the enhancement of the price of the article was equal to the protection given to it. That might be very well in theory, but it was not accurate In point of fact. If it was so, it would be equally true that the reduction of the protecting duty would lower the price to the same amount to the consumer: that was notoriously untrue. In the reductions made in 1842 and in 1845–6, it was found that in most of the articles the reduction in price was not equal to the amount of duty reduced, but that the benefit was shared between the consumer and producer. The fall in the price depended more on the supply in the market than on the amount of protecting duty. He preferred the plan of the hon. Gentleman to that of the Government also because it was more calculated to meet the main evil they had to deal with, namely, the abandonment of the cultivation of their estates by the planters, whose means had been exhausted. A fixed duty for a certain number of years would enable those who had engaged in the cultivation of estates in the West Indies, or who had advanced money for that purpose, to reckon on a definite amount of protection for a definite period: on that security money might be raised. That would be the effect of 370 his hon. Friends plan; but if the plan of the Government were adopted, the West Indies would have a protection which would give no confidence, because it would gradually sink under them. He thought the project of his hon. Friend avoided those defects. He believed that if the plan of the noble Lord were to be carried, it would only lead in the ensuing Session to fresh complaints from the West India planters—to an extensive abandonment of estates—to a cry in this country for protection—to an increase of the slave trade in Cuba and Brazil—to complaints so urged as to render it impossible for Parliament to turn a deaf ear—and to revival of those discussions and an occupation of the public time in them which the example of the present Session ought to make them most desirous to Prevent. He thought that the certainty of protection, and the absence of that variation which distinguished the Government proposition, ought to recommend his Friend's Amendment to the House. The noble Lord said we ought to calculate upon having an increase of consumption in the present year, and attempted to account for the absence of that increase during the early part of the present year by the fact that uncertainty was occasioned in the public mind by the state of the law, and by the agitation of the question of the sugar duties. [Lord J. RUSSELL: I said for the last month.] He admitted that the agitation of such a question in Parliament would have an effect upon the sugar market, but thought that uncertainty must have led rather to increase than to diminish purchases; for no man of the least reflection could think (notwithstanding the declaration of the noble Lord at the early part of the Session that there was to be no change in the sugar duties) that this country would allow its colonies to fall into ruin for the want of that protection which it could easily afford them. He thought, therefore, that the consumption in the months of May and June, to which the noble Lord adverted, must be taken as the average consumption of the year; and, taking such data into account, all hope of that increase to the extent to which the noble Lord seemed to rely on it was excluded. What were the prospects of the Cuba planter the noble Lord did not seem to have ascertained. The noble Lord did not say the demand of Cuba for slaves was less active than formerly, or that Brazil would send less frequently to the coast of Africa, nor that she would be more willing to abide by 371 treaty than formerly. He objected to the Government project on financial grounds likewise, and did not think it wise to pledge Parliament to give away a large sum of money in the present low state of the Exchequer, not merely during the present, but during future years. Although his hon. Friend's plan was not altogether free from objection, yet, upon the whole, he should vote for it as preferable to the plan proposed by Her Majesty's Government.
§ The Committee divided on the question that the duty on Muscovado be, as proposed in the Ministers' Resolution, 13s.:—Ayes 180; Noes 124: Majority 56.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Fagan, W.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Fergus, J.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Alcock, T.||Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.|
|Anderson, A.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Forster, M.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Fortescue, hon. J. W.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Freestun, Col.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Glyn, G. C.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Baines, M. T.||Greene, J.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Grey, R. W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Benbow, J.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Hallyburton, Lord J. F.|
|Berkeley, hon. C. F.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Hastie, A.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Hawes, B.|
|Brand, T.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Brotherton, J.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Brown, W.||Henry, A.|
|Browne, R. D.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Heywood, J.|
|Butler, P. S.||Hindley, C.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Cavendish, hon. Gr. H.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Childers, J. W.||Howard, P. H.|
|Clay, J.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Kershaw, J.|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||Kildare, Marq. of|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Craig, W. G.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Duncan, G.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Dundas, Adm.||McTaggart, Sir J.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Maher, N. V.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Maitland, T.|
|Ellice, E.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Martin, J.|
|Enfield, Visct.||Martin, C. W.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Martin, S.|
|Evans, J.||Matheson, A.|
|Evans, W.||Matheson, Col.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Seymour, Sir H.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Seymour, Lord|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Milton, Visct.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Moffatt, G.||Smith, J. A.|
|Morpeth, Visct.||Smith, J. B.|
|Morison, Sir W.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Morris, D.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Norreys, Lord||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Ord, W.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Thornely, T.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Towneley, J.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Townley, R. G.|
|Parker, J.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Turner, E.|
|Perfect, R.||Tynte, Col.|
|Peto, S. M.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Pigott, F.||Wall, C. B.|
|Pilkington, J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Pusey, P.||Watkins, Col.|
|Raphael, A.||West, F. R.|
|Reynolds, J.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Ricardo, O.||Williams, J.|
|Rico, E. R.||Wilson, J.|
|Rich, H.||Wilson, M.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Wyld, J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Young, Sir J.|
|Scholefield, W.||Tufnell, H.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Denison, J. E.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Disraeli, B.|
|Baring, T.||Dod, J. W.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Bateson, T.||Drummond, H. H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Estcourt, J. B. B.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Farrer, J.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bremridge, R.||Fitzgerald, W. R. S.|
|Broadley, H.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Brooke, Lord||Forbes, W.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Forester, hon. G. C. W.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Galway, Visct.|
|Cardwell, E.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Goddard, A. L.|
|Christy, S.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Clive, H. B.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Greene, T.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Grogan, E.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Gwyn, H.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Palmer, R.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Palmer, R.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Patten, J. W.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Peel, Col.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hope, H. T.||Reid, Col.|
|Hotham, Lord||Rushout, Capt.|
|Hume, J.||Sandars, G.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Knox, Col.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Spooner, R.|
|Lockhart, W.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Sutton, J. H M.|
|Lowther, H.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Turner, G. J.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Villiers, Visct.|
|March, Earl of||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Masterman, J.||Waddington, D.|
|Monsell, W.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Moody, C. A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Napier, J.||Wodehouse, D.|
|Neeld, J.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Newdegate, C. N.||TELLERS.|
|O'Brien, Sir L.||Barkly, H.|
|Packe, C. W.||Miles, W.|
§ Resolution adopted.
§ Remaining duties as proposed by Ministers agreed to.
proposed as an Amendment the omission of the words—" white clayed, or sugar rendered by any process equal in quality to white clayed, not being refined for every cwt.," which he declined to press.
MR. BOUVERIE moved—
That provision be made for the admission of such Foreign Sugars as shall be cleared out of the Foreign, West Indian, and American ports, before the 1st day of August next, and out of ports east of the Cape of Good Hope before the 1st day of September next, at the rates of Duty imposed on such Sugars respectively by the Act 9 and 10 Victoria, c. 63.
By the Act of 1846, he said, the duties on these foreign sugars were fixed at 18s. 6d. per cwt., whereas by the new scale they would be 20s. a cwt., or 20l. a ton. The traders had naturally expected that the duty of 1846 would he continued; and they were confirmed in that view by the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 3rd February, as well as by the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, at a subsequent period. The practical consequence was, that many of the merchants, including those who had hesitated before, had sent out large orders to Cuba, Bahia, and Manilla;
and he thought that they had a right to accuse Parliament of having broken faith with them, and to call upon the House to hold them harmless for the loss thus imposed upon them. In common justice and fairness, the House was bound to indemnify those parties.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that in no case had any allowance boon made to any interest, nor had any article been allowed to come in at the lower duty where a higher duty had been imposed. His hon. Friend had drawn a distinction between this and duties on other articles. Nothing could be more mischievous than for a Government making an announcement of the intention to propose the raising of duties before having made a proposition to this effect in that House. On July 21, 1831, a proposal was made to increase the duty on Spanish wines, which was adopted; but no allowance was made to any parties. He could not find a single instance in which an allowance was not refused to parties under such circumstances as the present.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
had conic down to the House with very considerable anxiety as to the Motion of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, and as to the reply of the Government. He was aware of the inconvenience which must result from the present state of things to the importers of foreign sugar. He was anxious to have some clear statement from Her Majesty's Government as to the present case, before he gave a negative to the Motion; but he had not heard any such statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the representative of Her Majesty's Government. He was anxious to state his own views on the subject. He felt if Parliament, from motives of public policy, thought fit to increase a duty, it was totally impossible to make an arrangement to allow such a draw-back as was proposed. In all increases or decreases, the principle of prudence must he recognised by parties, and the trader must make allowance for an increase or decrease of duties on any article. In one case, the parties might lose, but in another they might gain by an alteration in duties. He could not agree with the hon. Gentleman who made the Motion, that on the faith of Parliament parties might count on the continuance of duties for a limited time. He could not subscribe to the doctrine that because a discriminating scale of duties was enacted in 1844, and again in 1846, that it was to be supposed they could not be 375 altered without compensation being made to parties for any loss they might sustain. If therefore he could not support the Motion on the grounds which had been urged in its favour, he could not oppose it on some of the grounds which had been urged against it. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that a case had never occurred of allowance being made under such circumstances as those now stated. He had no doubt as to the correctness of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman; but his objection did not depend on the vote of Parliament, or on an Act of Parliament, but on the declaration of Members of the Executive Government. It was necessary, however, that they should pay regard to the declarations of Members of the Government to persons engaged in trading in foreign sugar, as to any probable change in the duties on that article. In February, 1848, upon the Motion by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn for the appointment of the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was reported to have used these words:—The noble Lord has stated several points in which relief may be afforded to the West Indian interest, with regard to which Her Majesty's Government, as well as the noble Lord, thinks some inquiry may be advantageous; but I should deceive both him and the House, and, what is still more material, the West Indians themselves, if I led them to suppose that, in consenting to the appointment of this Committee, Her Majesty's Government mean them to imply the slightest doubt of the propriety of the Act of 1840, or the slightest intention of departing from the provisions of that Act. I think it but fair to all parties that this statement should be made as decidedly as possible, and as early as possible, because I believe upon a subject of this description uncertainty is the worst of evils, and because, as I remember an hon. Member to have said upon a former occasion, the greatest kindness is to state distinctly and explicitly what the views and intention of the Government are.Of course he did not mean to say it was in the power of Government to limit the discretion of Parliament, because Parliament might have instituted a proposal to alter the law in spite of the Government; but, standing upon general considerations of equity and policy, these parties knew it was the practice of Parliament not to alter laws of this description, except upon the proposal of a Government in which they had general confidence. They heard, however, the Financial Minister of the Government declaring it was their intention to adhere to the Act of 1846, and declaring further that they made that declaration in 376 order that it might be acted upon by those who were concerned. Nor was this declaration the only ground upon which they proceeded. There were four Members of the Government to whom the mercantile community had a right to look for indications of the Ministerial policy upon colonial as well as commercial questions. They were the first Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Board of Trade, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Secretary for the Colonies in February, again in April, in addressing Sir Charles Grey, and at other times in his place in Parliament, declared in the strongest terms, backed by references to abstract principles, that it was impossible anything could be so ruinous to the West Indies as the revival of protection. No person, indeed, could invent terms that would convey that doctrine with greater rigour than those in which it was conveyed by Lord Grey. In the Committee on Sugar and Coffee Planting, the President of the Board of Trade represented the Government. He supported the resolutions moved by the hon. Member for Westbury, one of which unequivocally declared that any increase of protection would be detrimental to the interests of the West Indies, and would retard indefinitely more changes which were really required for their welfare. Then the next was a gratuitous declaration of the noble Lord at the head of the Government in that House. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: It was in answer to a question.] He did not think that the question, according to his recollection, went to the full extent of the noble Lord's answer. The noble Lord was asked, not by the parties about to suffer, what he meant to do with the Act of 1846; and on the 30th of May he declared "he would take that opportunity of informing the House that it was not the intention of the Government to propose any alteration in the duties under the Act of 1846, either with regard to amount or duration." Here were a series of declarations made by the Government upon this subject; and the question he put to the Committee was this—" Is it good policy, is it consistent with public faith and honour, and with a liberal understanding, that such declarations on the part of the Executive, when they have been trusted and acted upon by persons engaged in trade, should be considered as if they had never been made?" To this question he could give but one answer. He did not 377 think it was right such assurances should be given by Ministers of the Crown in that House or elsewhere, and those who relied upon them be punished for their reliance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, appeared to rely upon his view of the case as an ordinary case of an application for a return of duty. In his (Mr. Gladstone's) opinion, it was distinguished from such cases as broadly as possible; he could not doubt that, in equity, those parties were entitled to the indulgence they claimed; and if it were granted, he had not the least fear of establishing a precedent for granting a return of duty where they had acted upon their own discretion. Having said this much, he must refer to another matter, which was rather personal. He understood that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), in speaking of the deficiency in the public revenue in the earlier part of the debate upon the schedule of duties, stated he had said the deficiency should be made up by taxation; but in his opinion the best way to remove it was by rigid economy. Most certainly he had said nothing of the kind; and it was with the greatest surprise he heard the noble Lord had so misapprehended him. What he said was, that it was the duty of Parliament and the Government to equalise the revenue and the expenditure, and that the proposal of the noble Lord for increasing taxation, at an early period of the year, had been summarily dismissed, not because Parliament was unwilling to grant additional taxes, upon cause shown, but because Parliament had not confidence in the estimates of the noble Lord, and because they believed they had been prepared without due regard to the principles of public economy. It would be presumptuous in him to pretend to such a knowledge of the public expenditure as to be in a condition to say the whole of the deficiency of this year could be supplied by economy. But he was bound to say a large portion of it could, and that it ought to be so supplied. Possibly the whole might; but, at all events, he did not think Her Majesty's Government had shown a due regard to the principles of public economy; cither with respect to the present year, or to a variety of acts which, if the present were the occasion, he could point out since the period of their accession to office.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that when the subject then before the House was adverted to on a former occasion, he had felt surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's 378 (Mr. Gladstone's) intimation of his opinion that the claim put forth by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock was founded in reason and in justice; convinced, as experience must have made him with the difficulties of this ease, and admitting, as he did, that what was asked for was contrary to all former practice. The right hon. Gentleman had availed himself of that opportunity rather to make an attack on the Government, and to charge them with faults and inconsistencies, than to give reasons for departing from what had been the universal practice. The right hon. Gentleman based the claim of the parties concerned upon what he stated as the inconsistencies of the Government. The alteration of the sugar duties was the act of the House of Commons; and even if the Government had been guilty of vacillation on this subject, that was no reason for deviating from the course pursued by former Parliaments. He must say that the attack which the right hon. Gentleman had gone out of his way to make on the Government, was not founded in reason, in candour, or in justice. The right hon. Gentleman must admit that, as a general rule, it was the duty of a Government to maintain the most absolute silence with regard to alterations of duties. It happened, unfortunately, that this question of duty had, on that occasion, been mixed up with questions of policy; and the noble Lord (Lord, T. Russell) and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood), when asked what would be the nature of their proposal, had replied that they would adhere to the spirit of the Act of 1846. Most reluctantly had the Government proposed any alteration in that Act; but, having adhered to its spirit, he was surprised at the position assumed by the right hon. Gentleman. The chief reproach levelled against the Government in the course of the debate was, that they had not altogether reversed the measure of 1846, and substituted for it a protective duty of considerable amount. Had they followed that course they would certainly have acted with great inconsistency; but when the West Indian Committee recommended a protecting duty of 10s, they felt that they were bound in justice carefully to review the whole subject, and, so far as they could do so consistently, to modify their plan. He would not pursue the subject any further. He felt that, at that late hour of the night, it would be very inconvenient to enter into a discussion on the financial principles of 379 taxation, or on the question whether the Government had or had not observed due economy. There would be other opportunities for discussing that subject; and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that whenever those opportunities arose, the Members of the Government would by no means shrink from encountering him in that field of argument.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 142: Majority 108.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bagge, W.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Brown, W.||Moffatt, G.|
|Cardwell, E.||Monsell, W.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Palmer, R.|
|Cocks, T. S.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Duncan, G.||Sandars, G.|
|Edwards, H.||Scholefield, W.|
|Fitzgerald, W. R. S.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Galway, Visct.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||Spooner, R.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Hastie, A.||Turner, G. J.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Williams, J.|
|Heywood, J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||TELLERS.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Bouverie, hon. E. P.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Smith, J. B.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Cotton, hon. W. H. S.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Craig, W. G.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Anderson, A.||Dodd, G.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Drummond, H. H.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Baines, M. T.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Baines, M. T.||Evans, J.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Evans, W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Forbes, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. C. F.||Freestun, Col.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Boyd, J.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Greene, J.|
|Brand, T.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Brotherton, J.||Grey, R. W.|
|Brown, H.||Grogan, E.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Gwyn, H.|
|Buller, C.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Hallyburton, Lord J. F.|
|Butler, P. S.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Hawes, B.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Childers, J. W.||Henry, A.|
|Christy, S.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Ricardo, O.|
|Hollond, R.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Rich, H.|
|Howard, P. H.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hume, J.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||Seymour, Lord|
|Lockhart, W.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Maher, N. V.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Maitland, T.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Stuart, H.|
|Marshall, J. G.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Martin, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Martin, C. W.||Thornely, T.|
|Masterman, J.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Matheson, A.||Townley, R. G.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Tynte, Col.|
|Miles, W.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Morison, Sir W.||Ward, H. G.|
|Morris, D.||Watkins, Col|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Wilson, J.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Wilson, M.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Parker, J.||Wyld, J.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Tufnell, H.|
|Raphael, A.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ House resumed. Report to be received. House adjourned at Two o'clock.