§ On the Order of the Day for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the Sugar Duties,1090
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that as the hen. Member for Westbury had accused him in his speech last night of having been guilty of very great inaccuracy in stating the expense of raising sugar in Cuba and Porto Rico, he trusted that the House would allow him to explain briefly the grounds on which his statement had been founded. He had stated that the average cost of producing sugar in Cuba, Porto Rico, and Brazil, was but 6s. 10½d., whereas the statement of the hon. Member last night was, that the average cost was 14s. 8d. Now this was an enormous difference, and he wished to say that he was prepared to re-assert his belief that the figures which he had given to the House were perfectly accurate, and that the figures given by the hon. Member for Westbury were erroneous to the extent of the difference between them. And he should add his belief, with all respect to the hon. Member for Westbury, that the hon. Gentleman did not appear to have attentively read the evidence on which he had grounded his argument, and that he had not allowed for the necessary deductions in the expense of production—such as the interest on the capital invested, and the value of the rum and molasses. He also believed that the hon. Member for Westbury had neglected to take another important consideration into account. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that all the sugar sent home from the colonies was muscovado, and that all the sugar which came from Cuba and Brazil was clayed sugar; and he believed that he was right in stating that 4 cwt. of clayed sugar would yield as much refined sugar as 5 cwt. of muscovado sugar. He was aware that there was more expense attending the manufacture of clayed than of muscovado sugar; but on the other hand, he had a right to set the waste in manufacture against that increased expense; and he held that he was entitled to deduct one-fifth from the cost of the manufacture of Cuban sugar. In addition to this, he found that in the account sent home by Mr. Crawford from the Havana, he estimated the cost of producing sugar there to be about 8s. 4d. per cwt., or one penny a pound, to which he added the interest on the capital employed at 6 per cent. raising the cost per pound to 13–7d. Again, Mr. Harbottle, who was, he believed, a witness, called by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Moffatt), estimated the value of the rum and molasses at 1s., which 1091 he had also a right to deduct from the cost. Allowing for all those items, the difference between the value of clayed and muscovado sugar, the interest on capital, the cost of replacing negroes, the amount of local taxation, and the value of the molasses, the net cost would just amount to 6s. 8d., the sum that he had allowed. Again, in Porto Rico, it appeared from the statement of Mr. Overmann, a planter in that island, that the cost of production, independent of the charge for conveyance, was from 2s. 10d. to 3s. 5d. The last point on which he would trouble the House was the cost of production in Brazil. According to the evidence of Mr. Porter, of Bahia, it would appear that out of the 16s. 5d. the hon. Gentleman ought to have deducted 4s. for the interest on capital, and 1s. for the value of the molasses, and, allowing one-fifth of the remainder for the difference between the muscovado and clayed sugar, they would have 8s. 9d. as the cost per cwt., as he had stated. Taking, then, the cost for the three places—Cuba, Porto Rico, and Brazil—the general average would be precisely 6s. 10½d., being the amount which he had stated it to be.
§ MR. JAMES WILSON
would not detain the House by entering again into all these details, but he thought that the hon. Baronet laboured under a misapprehension, when he talked of deducting the value of rum and molasses from the 8s. 9d., or thinking that rum and molasses entered at all into the manufacture of clayed sugar. He was much mistaken, or else the fact was, that rum and molasses were the result of the manufacture of muscovado sugar only. At the same time, he would not say but that had the statement of the hon. Baronet on Monday night been accompanied with the explanation which he had now given—[Sir J. PAKINGTON: So it was, though not so fully.] If the explanation of the hon. Baronet had been as full on Monday, he should not have alluded at all to it, because parties would then have had an opportunity of judging for themselves. There was also another statement of the hon. Baronet to which he would refer, namely, the difference which he drew between the value of clayed and muscovado sugar. Of course there was a difference in the value of the two articles; and when any one spoke of the cost price of one or the other of those sugars, that difference was always taken into consideration.—Order of the day read.
§ MR. PHILIP MILES
said, that the hon. Member for Westbury had only questioned 1092 the accuracy of the details gone into by the hon. Baronet to the extent of the 1s. which he allowed for molasses, but that 1s. would not have made the difference between 16s. 4d. and 6s. 10½d. The hon. Member had also asserted that molasses were not produced in the manufacture of clayed sugar; but he begged to differ from the hon. Gentleman on that point, and to tell him that though the same amount of rum and molasses was not made from clayed sugar as from muscovado sugar, still there was a very considerable quantity produced in the manufacture of the clayed sugar. He thought that the explanations offered by the hon. Baronet were perfectly satisfactory, and that his results were completely borne out by the facts; and when the hon. Member for Westbury made this statement the other night, and founded so great a part of his argument upon it, he thought that the hon. Member ought to have been more certain of the accuracy of what he was stating, considering that he spoke with all the authority which belonged to him as a Member of the Government, and as being, as was generally supposed, the author of this measure; and that he ought to have more fully and carefully considered the figures which he put before the House. He should go farther than his hon. Friend, and call the attention of the House to the hon. Member's comments on the evidence of Mr. Harbottle, as given before the Committee. The hon. Member for Westbury had stated that, according to Mr. Harbottle, the cost of producing sugar upon unencumbered estates was 15s. 3d. per cwt., and upon estates encumbered with debt 19s. 1d. per cwt., irrespective of the interest upon capital, the replacement of slaves, the shipping charges, and the commission of merchants. He took the hon. Gentleman's statement from the public papers, as well as from having heard him deliver the speech; but on turning to the top of the page from which the hon. Member had quoted, he found Mr. Harbottle make the following deductions:—
1093 He thought that he had convicted the hon. Member of inaccuracy in this particular; but he was further borne out by the statement of Mr. Overmann, which, if he mistook not, was laid before the Committee at the request of the hon. Member himself. At least he recollected that the hon. Member had handed the statement to him, and that he (Mr. Miles) asked to have it printed. In Mr. Overmann's statement he found the following in reference to the cultivation of estates in Porto Rico:—
Dollars. Interest at 6 per cent 8,202 Maintenance of negroes, at 40 dollars each per annum 12,000 Depreciation of capital on machiery, 15 per cent on 18,500 dollars 2,775 Ditto on cattle, on 1,200 dollars, at 8 per cent 96 Ditto and mortality on negroes, 105,000 dollars, at 6 per cent 6,300 Dollars 29,373The island of Porto Rico has about 400,000 inhabitants, of which 45,000 are slaves. There are 400 sugar estates worked, I should say by about 20,000 negroes, and they make 100,000 hogsheads of sugar which is yet manufactured in the most common way by cattle mills, and I do not think there are more than about 20 steam-mills in the island. They have likewise only few wind, and still less water mills. The larger estates can make sugar at about 60 to 75 cts. per 100 lbs., taking, of course, the amount for the molasses and rum (if they make any) against part of the expenses: but smaller estates, with perhaps not sufficient hands, or badly conducted, cannot do it at less than 1½ to 2 dollars, as there are many expenses which weigh heavier on smaller estates; but, of course, much depends on the situation of the estate and the fertility of the soil, and the manner in which it is taken care of, the canes requiring to be kept very clean of weeds and grasss.Now, when he found that statement handed in by the hon. Gentleman himself, and when it appeared from it that sugar could be grown at a cost of from 3s. to 3s. 6d. a hundred-weight in Porto Rico, and when he told them further, that the fertility of the soil in that island was so great that the other West India islands could not compete with it—when, with these facts before them, and they knew that, notwithstanding their defective machinery, the planters of Porto Rico were able to produce sugar at the low rate of 3s. to 3s. 6d.—he would ask how was it possible that the British colonies could compete with them? He thought that after this statement, given in by the hon. Gentleman himself, it was strange that he could still maintain that free labour could compete with slave labour, seeing that it was to the advantage of slave labour that Porto Rico owed all its facilities. It had been argued by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) that relief ought to be extended to the West India colonies, because no assistance had been given to them since the emancipation of the negroes. He thought that a good argument, but he would go farther. He could not forget that before emancipation the colonies often 1094 did compete with other countries, even though they had but a mitigated slavery to contend against unmitigated slavery elsewhere; and in taking away that labour the Parliament diminished their production one half. They further gave them no assistance in controlling the labourers, but on the contrary did everything to prevent such control, and to thwart free emigration. That being the case, he would say that the House ought to give fresh assistance to the colonies, in order that they might compete—if ever they could compete—with slave labour. He admitted that many restrictions which had pressed heavily on the colonies had been removed but he contended that all the remaining restrictions ought to be taken away, for if they were to have free competition, that competition ought to be commenced on equal terms. He would say further, that protection was necessary in order to preserve the very existence of the colonies themselves, and to prevent the entire abandonment of the cultivation of sugar. If they did not consent to give protection for a limited period—for he did not ask for permanent protection, knowing that it would become negative with increased production in the colonies—the cultivation of sugar must be abandoned. They asked but for a fair trial, and it was most un-English to refuse it. He held in his hand returns from a vast number of estates, containing the instructions sent out by the principle mercantile houses in this country to nearly every island in the West Indies. The first was from one of the largest mercantile houses in London, and they said—Being determined not to allow ourselves to be drawn into any further advances, we have resolved to place and conduct the several accounts on the following footing, viz., we shall accept bills drawn for the current expenses of carrying on the cultivation of the estates to the extent of 8l. per hogshead of 42 inch truss (and other sizes in proportion) of muscovado sugar in the crops, to be shipped as made and cured, to be drawn for monthly or quarterly, and the sum monthly to be estimated on the growing crops by our attorney or his nominee.With regard to our own properties, we wish them to be dealt with in one of the following ways, viz.:—1. To be let on a lease of three or five years to safe and responsible parties. 2. If it cannot be rented, then to be cultivated, the expense being limited to 10l. per hogshead of sugar made, if it can be satisfactorily shown that the cost will not exceed this. 3. If either of the above modes cannot be effected, then to cease any further expenditure in cultivation after the present crop is taken off, and no expense to be incurred beyond what is absolutely necessary for the preservation of the property. The estate is 1095 not to be at any further expense to the proprietors for managers, overseers, or others beyond watchmen. Should any of the parties we hare named not come into and act upon these arrangements, they must look to others to furnish the means of carrying on their operations, and take measures for paying off their debts.This letter applied to upwards of thirty estates in the West Indies; and the replies received were in substance—The limits you have given for advances on shipments on sugar may enable the planters to sake off the crops now in course of reaping; but as the labour alone for a whole crop will come to more than our sugars are now realising, we apprehend that the further cultivation of these colonies must cease.The next letter he should read was from a resident proprietor of seven unencumbered estates in Jamaica:—I beg you will distinctly understand that your reply to this must instruct me whether or not you intend to carry on. For my part, after perusing the comparative statements of stocks, consumption, and prices received by last packet, we have, I think, no chance whatever this year; and I must candidly tell you, that unless our produce is reduced to a nominal duty, I for one will stop cultivation altogether. This will be the last year for four estates out of five. As it is, many have not a farthing to take the crops off with, and I verily believe that the less sugar we make, the less we shall lose. Moreover, I very much doubt whether it would not be wise not to make a grain of sugar on Bellfield this year. It is hardly possible for any man out of Jamaica to conceive the distress of this colony, and I am quite aware that all the others, with probably the exception of Barbadoes, are in as lamentable a predicament. My efforts are perfectly paralysed—I have worked cheaper than any man in this parish or anywhere else, and now I am done up.He would not weary the House with those statements farther, but he begged to say that he had them from some hundred estates in the West India colonies, and that they were all in a similar strain. He thought these afforded a tolerably satisfactory proof to the House of the ruin to which they had exposed the colonies; and as an instance of their present condition he might remark that not a single sixpence could be raised in this country on the best estates in any of the islands. He was not exaggerating the facts. It was clear that, unless matters were as he had described them, the proprietors would not abandon the cultivation of their estates. They had often before heard of West Indian distress, but he believed that this was the first time they had the fact before them of proprietors giving up the cultivation of their estates. Lord Harris, writing from Trinidad, used the following remarkable words:—I am not aware whether any portion of the 1096 sum of 200,000l., granted as a loan, could be applied to the immediate relief of the colony; but I can assure your Lordship that such assistance is of vital importance, and would prove an incalculably greater boon than any immigration at the present time. I receive daily the account of order being received for weeding or cultivation to be carried on on estates for the next year's crop; and these orders from large English merchants, to whom, up to the present time, the influx of money may be attributed, and who have worked their properties on the most liberal terms.The hon. Gentleman had reminded them last night that they had heard of the distress in those colonies before; but familiar as they were with the fable of the shepherd and the wolf, he would remind them that without they applied sufficient relief, and that speedily, to these colonies, they would cease to exist as sugar-producing countries. If they did not interfere at once, all the capital, all the skill, all the enterprise that existed, would be utterly wasted, and the machinery exported from the colonies to Cuba even more generally than it was at present. If the planters could not compete with slave labour now, how much would they be evidently less able to do so by and by, when the means which they still possessed were exhausted, and when the capitalists in this country refused to advance them any more money? and therefore, the utter ruin which he foretold must be the consequence. It had been stated over and over again in the Committee, that the cost of labour on many of the estates equalled very nearly the net profits of the cultivation, and that it amounted on the average to at least two-thirds of the profit. He would call hon. Members' attention to the fact that, notwithstanding this great cost of labour, large sums had been invested within the last few years in providing the colonies with machinery. An immense number of agricultural implements—of ploughs, harrows, and horses, had been sent out; and, in some places, even the sub-soil plough had been introduced. He held in his hand a return of 1,015 ploughs, 341 winnowing machines, and 324 pulverisers and rollers imported into the colonies; and one maker had told him that he had sent out himself, since 1838, no less than 968 ploughs to the West Indies. The hon. Member for West-bury had spoken of the great reduction in the wages of labour in the colonies latterly. He admitted that a reduction had taken place, but in British Guiana the reduction was not more than 5 per cent. In Trinidad, with which he was himself connected, it had been nearly one-half, or 50 1097 per cent. and in some of the other colonies it averaged, he believed, about 25 per cent; but he would remind the House that, at present, the wages in Trinidad averaged 1s. 3d. per day, of four or five hours' labour, though it was there that the greatest reduction had taken place. The hon. Member for Westbury said the fall in prices was not attributable to the Bill of 1846, but to the commercial distress that had prevailed. This opinion was erroneous, because the decrease in price had taken place in the face of a greatly increased consumption—an increase of more than 30,000 tons last year, and actually before the commercial distress began to be felt. The Bill, however, which had so diminished the price of colonial produce, had, in point of fact, raised the price of slave produce in this market by at least 7l. per ton, and to that extent at least the slave planter had been enriched. As he had mentioned that in consequence of the want of protection the estates would be abandoned, he would state what he meant by abandoning them. The most correct definition of it was, the cessation of cultivation. It might be one or two years before they would be actually abandoned in the proper sense of the word, because in the meantime it might be worth the while of the planters to keep up small establishments in order to convert their canes into sugar and rum. But there were some estates on which it would not pay to do even this. The effect, therefore, of the present measure would be still more seriously felt in the colonies at the end of two years, than at present; and he thought that, when that time arrived, the British consumer would have to depend more upon Cuba and Brazil for a supply of sugar, than upon our own colonies; for he believed that their supply would be exceedingly diminished, and that from neither Barbadoes nor Antigua might we expect any at all. So that after all the blood and treasure we had wasted in the suppression of the slave trade, we would probably find ourselves in the year 1850, dependent upon the produce of slave labour for our principal supply of sugar; and the British consumer might find the price of the article very seriously enhanced, the monopoly being almost altogether in the hands of the foreigners, and our own once flourishing colonies in a state of ruin and decay. He did not intend to use any harsh expressions towards hon. Gentlemen who held free-trade principles; but he must express his conviction that 1098 their political economy was inconsistent, when they consented to employ large squadrons upon the coast of Africa to suppress the slave trade, and then called upon the slave-growing countries to send us their sugar at the cheapest rate. On a review of the whole case, and after much consideration of the evidence he had heard, he had come to the conclusion that, unless the British planter could afford to sell his sugar at 20s. in bond, it would be better for him to discontinue its production altogether. He confessed, too, he had been disappointed in the statement of the noble Lord, inasmuch as he expected to see in it some approach to the principle of an ad valorem duty upon West Indian produce. That would have enabled the planters to send their produce into this market in whatever shape they thought proper, and would have induced them to turn their attention to increased cultivation. Now, he would ask the noble Lord, if, in consequence of the measures of the Government, estates in the West Indies were abandoned, or sugar cultivation discontinued, to what they were to be applied? The hon. Member for Manchester had recommended the cultivation of cloves and nutmegs. These articles did not offer sufficient inducement to the capitalist to invest in the cultivation. Of that there could be no doubt; but the most important question was, what would become of the cultivation of free-grown sugar? How would the consumer in this country be benefited if the cultivation of free-grown sugar was abandoned from inability to continue it profitably? The fact was, that in such a case the consumer would be injured rather than benefited by the Act of 1846. It was a great argument with hon. Gentlemen entertaining free-trade principles, that all classes should be allowed to buy their commodities in the cheapest market. The West Indians, however, had not been allowed to go to the cheapest market for their labour; and if hon. Gentlemen were sincere in their enunciation of this principle, he contended they ought to be the first to assist them in this respect; for it was manifestly unfair to say, "You shall sell your sugar to us at our price, but you shall not be allowed to get people to cultivate it where you can." [Mr. G. THOMPSON: Slaves, for instance.] Yes, slaves, if need were. Gentlemen in Lancashire were accustomed to hire their labourers by the year; but until very lately the West Indian planters were not allowed to hire their labourers except by the day. 1099 Looking into the papers and speeches upon the subject, he found that the Lancashire Gentlemen were loud in their complaints against the Ten Hours Bill; and the hon. Member for Westbury had his newspaper weekly filled with objections to the Bill. But what these Gentlemen disdained to accept, the West Indians would be glad to hare. He would ask those Gentlemen how they would like, if they could only get their labourers to work for four or five hours a day, and then be called upon to compete with rivals whose labourers worked from fourteen to sixteen hours a day? If that was the case, he thought they would cry out twice as loud as the West Indians did. He doubted whether free labour could at all compete with slave labour. He once entertained the opposite opinion; but after all the evidence brought before him in Committee, he believed it could not; and of this he, at least, was satisfied, that free labour could not compete with slave labour recruited by the slave trade. To compete with Cuba and Brazil upon equal terms under these circumstances, the West Indians would require double the machinery and twice the capital; but with the experience we had of free labour, he did not think any man who thoroughly understood the case, could say that without protection it could be successful as against slave labour. At the same time, he believed that if the Colonial Office were to turn their attention seriously to the question of immigration, much good might be done. Another point of great importance in this question related to the black population of the West Indies. Some years ago he had made a visit to the West Indies, and he extended his tour to Louisiana, to Cuba, and to St. Domingo, and the prospects offered to him in this latter country were of the most painful description. The country was overrun with wood and jungle, and when he recollected the amount of sugar that used to be raised there, he could not but feel pained by the contrast, and he was led to reflect upon what the condition of the new population would be if the sugar estates were abandoned, as they had been, in St. Domingo. Lord Harris, and several other Governors, stated in their despatches that it was of the greatest importance the cultivation of sugar should be continued, because constant employment was necessary for the negroes; and without it, as was stated by Sir Charles Grey, the negroes would lapse into barbarism. He agreed with that opinion 5 and he contended that 1100 it was the duty of this country to avert that evil by encouraging the cultivation of sugar. He need not point out the danger to the white population that would result from a large demoralised black population. It was clear, from this consideration, that with the abandonment of estates, or the cessation of cultivation, the whites would be compelled to seek occupation elsewhere. He had heard some hon. Gentlemen say, that the fertility of the soil was not so great in the West Indies as in foreign colonies. He could not agree in that opinion. From what he had seen, there was as good land in the West Indies as anywhere; and he would say further, that the planters were as much interested in lowering the cost of production as any hon. Gentleman in the House could be, but they must have the means of doing so. He believed there was no such thing as worn-out estates; all that those estates wanted was an improved state of cultivation; and he believed that the islands of Antigua and Barbadoes, where the labour was abundant, would be able eventually to compete with foreigners, though they might not be able, henceforth, to send so much sugar as they had been accustomed to do. With regard to the Mauritius, he must say that the attention of the House must be seriously drawn to the condition of this island. A large amount of sugar might be produced there, but not at a cheap rate, because the soil was so rocky and uneven that modern implements could not be introduced, but they must depend upon the old-fashioned hoe. The island was also overburdened with a large amount of inefficient labourers. About 30,000 persons had squatted upon the Government lands, living upon theft and plunder. They had been introduced to the island in consequence of the lax regulations of the Governor; and hitherto the planters had been able to obtain no redress, though he believed they might be easily removed, if the Governor would issue a single proclamation to that effect. He had now stated the question as fairly as he could. He did not say that the West Indies were perfect, or that they could effect no improvements; but he would say that they had been driven by necessity to expedients for labour, which, if they could have obtained a regular supply, they would not have resorted to. But at present, without adequate protection, the free-producing estates of the West India colonies, though cultivated with economy and skill were not in a condition 1101 to compete with slave-cultivated estates; and if the Government measure were carried, he feared the final success of emancipation would be greatly retarded—a result which, being regarded as a failure, would be received as the strongest argument in favour of slavery.
§ MR. HAWES
hoped that if he trespassed upon the attention of the House at somewhat greater length than usual, hon. Members would not deem him presumptuous in so doing, but would consider that in entering fully upon a subject so extensive, so full of details, and of such vast importance, that he was but discharging the duties of the office he had the honour to hold. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) that one part of this question was of great magnitude and passing importance. He alluded to the present and future condition of the labouring population in the West Indies. If he thought the Bill of 1846, or any Act passed with regard to the growth of sugar, involved any permanent injury to them, he would most readily avow that opinion, and be as willing as any man to vote for the repeal or alteration of that Bill. But his firm belief, after much consideration, was, that the policy they had pursued of stripping the sugar trade of its protection, and the West India trade of all restrictions, was the policy most likely to promote the welfare of the labouring population of the West Indies. He thought, also, that if the statement of the hon. Member for Bristol were true, that estates would be abandoned in consequence of the Act of 1846, and the cultivation of sugar be diminished, a case would be made out for reconsidering the principle and the policy of that measure. But he was bound to say he could not come to that conclusion. He could not directly trace the present distress prevailing in the West Indian colonies to the Bill of 1846, consequently he was decidedly of opinion it was expedient to adhere to the principles of that measure, and gradually to emancipate sugar from all protection whatever, believing that unless the way was prepared for the increasing production of our colonies competing with the rest of the world, the time was not far distant, when, though fostered by protection, competition must be encountered, and as great distress would have to be met then, as that which existed at the present moment. The question might fairly be asked, what case there was for an 1102 alteration in the Bill of 1846? The Bill of 1846 was intended to confer temporary protection upon the West Indies in their transition from a system of high protective duties to a system of free trade. It had always been held, so far as he knew, by the sternest free-traders, that, if restrictions were to be removed, the parties to be affected by that policy were fairly entitled to ask for a reasonable time to prepare for the change. The Corn Bill was an instance—the Sugar Bill was another. Neither came suddenly into operation. But why was it necessary then to modify the Sugar Bill—to interfere with its operation? Two clear and satisfactory reasons could be given for that course. In the first place, the commercial distress which had prevailed universally throughout the empire had deprived the West Indies of a portion of the time of which they might otherwise have availed themselves in order to prepare for free trade. Again, when the Bill was passed, the introduction of a superior quality of foreign sugar at the 6s. duty, was not contemplated—which being worth much more in the market relatively to other sugars, paid really less duty. This circumstance had deprived the West Indies of the protection intended by the Bill. For these reasons he thought they were at this moment entitled to have that protection extended to them which was contemplated by the Bill of 1846; and therefore the modification of the scale, and the extension of time, might be considered as arising out of a new and unforeseen state of circumstances. There were, however, other reasons for the Bill. The Committee of which the noble Lord was Chairman, had sat for a long time, and, as far as he could draw any inference from its proceedings, there was one concurrent opinion that the West Indies were reduced to great distress, and that it was desirable to introduce at least some measures of relief. All parties concurred that some measures of relief were due to these colonies in the peculiar condition in which they were placed by the altered policy of this country. He was not indisposed to take that view also, and to admit that under present circumstances some relief was necessary; but there were great differences of opinion as to its nature and extent. The noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) proposed in the Committee a permanent duty of 10s. upon West India sugar, and 20s. upon foreign. His object was, as far as possible, to exclude slave-grown sugar from competition with West 1103 Indian sugar; and to effect that, he wished to impose a permanent differential duty of 10s. The Committee, however, did not concur in that opinion. They rejected the report of the noble Lord without a division. The Committee came to the conclusion that 10s. for six years was the proper amount of protection. Since that period, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, stating to the House that he disapproved of the plan of the Government, proposed to suspend the present scale, and not reduce the duty on sugar. He could not acquiesce in that proposition. He was inclined to think that those who considered the case well would see that the plan of the Government gave more substantial relief than that of the right hon. Gentleman. That, however, was a matter for the West Indians to consider. Then, besides these plans, petitions for others had been presented. Not only were there conflicting opinions on the part of Committees and Members of that House, as to the proper measures of relief, but there were equally differences of opinion in the petitions laid upon the table. The petition presented by his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose prayed the House to reduce the sugar duties to a nominal amount, to take measures for the suppression of the slave trade, and to establish a large increase of African immigration. Another petition prayed that the resolutions of the Committee might be carried into effect. The Mauritius petition preferred a similar prayer. Liverpool had sent two petitions—one against the Act of 1846, the other in favour of retaining it. With the single exception, then, of one of the Liverpool petitions, he knew of no public expression of opinion in favour of adhering strictly to the Bill of 1846 in the present condition of the West Indies. All concurred that some additional protection should be granted to the West Indies at the present moment. The Jamaica petitioners prayed that they might be allowed the means of competing, upon equal terms, with the planters of Cuba and Brazil. They stated that Jamaica was in a state of decay, and prayed that measures of relief might be adopted, in order to restore the island to the position which it occupied previously to the abolition of slavery. The hon. Member for Bristol said that, as far as he knew, the West Indian colonies had never been in an equal state of distress. According to the hon. Member they had often cried "wolf" without reason, but 1104 now their cries were founded on truth. He (Mr. Hawes), however, would not do the West Indians that injustice, and he would show the House what statements they had made on former occasions. No language could be employed to describe a state of distress more intense, and of ruin more complete, than that which had been then employed. He would not quote from pamphlets, he would quote alone from documents of authority; and he would show the House that during the time of the greatest protection, when the slave trade prevailed, and when they possessed every advantage which legislation or protection could confer, even then they described a state of ruin universally prevailing in those islands, and in the strongest language. He held in his hand a remarkable document, copied from the journals of the House of Assembly of Jamaica, and which was well worthy the attention of the House. It was a memorial, dated in the year 1804, and the memorialists stated—Although an abolition of the slave trade be an effectual, it is not the sole, means by which the West India islands may be ruined: the same object may be attained as completely, though with somewhat less rapidity, by encouraging the cultivation of sugar in the East Indies, where the fertility of the soil, the facility of immigration, the ease with which commodities are transferred by means of the existing inland navigation, the abundance of provision, the cheapness of labour, and the whole structure of society, give them an advantage which nature has denied to these islands. Every British merchant holding security upon real estates is filing bills in Chancery to foreclose, although, when he has obtained a decree, he hesitates to enforce it, because he must himself become the proprietor of a plantation, which, from fatal experience, he would rather shun. … Sheriff's officers are everywhere offering for sale the property of individuals who have seen better days, and who now must see their estates purchased for half their value, and less than half their original cost. All kind of credit is at an end. … If litigation in the courts of common law has diminished, it is from confidence having ceased, and no man parting with his property but for immediate payment or consideration. A faithful detail of the state of these colonies would have the appearance of a frightful caricature.This was the representation of the West India planters in 1804, when high protective duties prevailed, and when the slave trade and slavery existed; and he thought it right to remind the House that the present was not the first time that the House and the country had heard of the distress of the West India islands. He defied any one to point to any statement in Lord Harris's despatches, or elsewhere, describing ruin and distress in terms stronger than 1105 in that memorial. [Mr. BERNAL: That was during the war.] During the war! But those statements were not confined to periods of war. The hon. Gentleman could not escape the difficulty thus, for he would find that, in 1807, 1811, 1824, and 1832, similar statements of ruin, distress, and desolation, were made. He would only trouble the House now with the opinion of the agent at Jamaica so late as 1844. [Mr. BERNAL: Yes, Jamaica.] He begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon. They extended beyond Jamaica, Here, however, was the opinion of Mr. Burge, the agent for Jamaica, in 1844. He said—The condition to which this colony has been reduced has been represented by the Assembly in their memorial to Her Majesty of the 28th February: they state that the situation of the proprietary body has been more and more appalling, and that the abandonment of a great portion of the sugar cultivation must result. In almost every district the progress towards abandonment is manifest. The returns of the magistrates and other officers are most distressing, containing details of ruin perfected and peril impending.But this was the account of the state of things under monopoly; he would challenge hon. Members to show him anything worse than that under the system of free trade. He would show them that, throughout the whole period of time, from, he believed, 1760 down to 1843, there had been one successive series of complaints of a similar description to those which they now heard from our sugar colonies in the West Indies. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol had stated, that estates would be abandoned in the West Indies, and that cultivation would diminish. He unhesitatingly admitted that it would be a serious matter if there were to be any large abandonment of estates, and any serious diminution of the cultivation of sugar in the West Indies; for he began by stating, that he viewed as a matter of the greatest importance the condition of the labouring population in that colony; but when he heard of the abandonment of estates and of diminished cultivation, he turned for a reply to the account published by the Board of Trade, showing the imports from the West India colonies. He believed that the accuracy of the account from which he was about to quote could not be questioned. The return which he held in his hand gave an account of the import into the United Kingdom of sugar, molasses, rum, &c., from 1831 to 1847; and a very remarkable inference was to be drawn from a careful 1106 examination of that table. In the first place, he would state that the whole quantity introduced in the year 1831 from all the islands together was 4,103,000 cwt. Now, if they took the first ten years, from 1831 to 1841, which included a period of slavery, the period of apprenticeship, and a period also of perfectly free labour (the apprenticeship system expiring between 1838 and 1840), they would find a very remarkable result as compared with subsequent periods. In those ten years the average annual import of sugar was 171,800 tons. Then let them compare that with the succeeding seven years, commencing with 1841, which was the year when the smallest quantity of sugar was exported since 1831. The average importation of the succeeding seven years was 128,016 tons, showing a falling-off of the annual production of 53,700 tons in the last seven years, as compared with the previous average quantity of the ten years from 1831 to 1841. Now, assuming that the produce of the next three years was equal to that of the seven preceding years, the falling-off would be reduced to about 20,000 tons annually, from the whole of the West India islands, including British Guiana. Considering the increased imports from British India, the just and inevitable rivalry to which the West Indies became subject, within the first period referred to, it appeared that this decrease was capable of an explanation quite distinct from that alleged, namely, the abandonment of estates. He was far from denying that estates had been abandoned—probably coffee estates most numerously. In Guiana, estates producing cotton had been altogether abandoned for the cultivation of sugar. If, therefore, sugar estates had been abandoned to the extent alleged, the production of others had increased, for he found from the return he had referred to, that during the last four years, from 1844 to 1847, the export of sugar had increased. In 1844, the production was 2,453,000 cwt.; in 1845, it was 2,857,000 cwt.; in 1846, it was 2,152,000 cwt.; and in 1847, it was 3,202,000 cwt. There was nothing to indicate an abandonment of estates therefore, judging from this return; and when he came to take Jamaica by itself, he certainly saw nothing like an abandonment of estates there. On reference to the revenue tables he found that in 1840 the import of sugar from Jamaica was 518,541 cwt.; in 1841, it was 528,685cwt.; and in 1842 it was 775,149 cwt. The 1107 average of those three years, then, was 608,758 cwt. Now he would take the period when the Bill of 1844 was passed, and he found that the average of the three years, 1843,1844, and 1845, was 644,145 cwt.; and if he took the two succeeding years, 1846 and 1847, would the House believe it, the average of those two years was 662,021 cwt., so that there had been a steadily increasing import from Jamaica since the year 1841, running through the whole period of that very sugar legislation which was said to be the cause of the abandonment of estates, and the diminution of cultivation. He was disposed to look for other causes to explain the distress of our West Indian colonies. Could it be shown from experience that protection had done them any good? On the contrary, he contended that he was entitled to say from past experience, that when they had protection to the extent of monopoly, the prosperity of those colonies was not secured. But granting that a permanent protection was conceded, there was then this difficulty to contend with—the difficulty of adjusting it between colony and colony. Was the cost of production the same in each colony? Far from it. Governor Reid stated in one of his despatches, that unless they gave protection to the West Indies, all the colonies except Barbadoes would be unable to compete with slave-growing States. There was a remarkable exception in favour of Barbadoes. Antigua, again, it was known, could produce sugar much cheaper than most of the other colonies. How were they to adjust the protection in these cases? Why, protection to one colony would be a bounty to another. Mr. Marryatt, a West India proprietor, having estates in Trinidad, took really the same view of the question. The following passage occurred in his evidence, and the House would observe that Mr. Marryatt refused to speak of Trinidad alone, but said that "the whole of the estates in the West India islands could not be maintained without such a duty"—a protecting duty of 10s. He was asked—You believe that it would restore confidence in the minds of planters in Trinidad if this country were to impose a protecting duty of 10s. per cwt.?—I believe that the result would be, that it would retain many estates in cultivation which will be left to take their course otherwise. That is the policy which you recommend to be adopted to raise Trinidad from its present condition?—I do not say Trinidad in particular; it applies to all the colonies. A guaranteed protecting duty of 10s. per cwt.?—I do not think that a less protec- 1108 tion, or compensating duty rather, will prevent the bulk of the estates in the West Indies from being thrown out of cultivation. Then it appears that the protecting duty which you claim from Government will just precisely give you your labour for nothing?—My answer was with regard to the colonies generally; I do not speak in reference to Trinidad, but I said that the whole of the estates in the West India colonies could not be maintained without such a protecting duty.He (Mr. Hawes) asserted that a 10s. duty was a tax upon the labouring population of this country to maintain the mismanagement, improvidence, and extravagance, as he should hereafter show, of the West India planter. The truth must be told in this question, and he asserted that they were asking that House to tax the people of this country to that amount to perpetuate mismanagement. The truth must not be disguised. If they stated that they wanted that protection for the benefit of the labouring population of the West Indies, he could understand that plea; but it was for no such a purpose; it was wanted only to enable them to keep up "the whole of the estates in the West Indies," whatever might be their cost of management. Now, when such a protecting duty was demanded, he would ask once more whether protection had ever done any good to the West Indies? and he challenged hon. Gentlemen opposite to point out any period in which protection had conferred any benefit upon those colonies. A ground, however, put forward by the hon. Member for Bristol for protection, was the high wages paid by the West Indian planter for labour; and he said that this was a labour question. Now really this was the first time that he (Mr. Hawes) had ever heard that high wages justified high protection. The English manufacturer paid the highest wages in the world; but he had never heard that urged as a pretext for high protection. He believed, indeed, that it was no paradox to say, that the higher the wages the cheaper the production; because wherever there were high wages there was skilled labour, and skilled labour was the most efficient labour, and afforded the best return for capital. The great fault of the West Indians had been relying too much upon mere brute labour, and not enough upon skill, upon capital, upon science, and on agricultural improvement. But Mr. Consul Crawford stated, that in Porto Rico, one of the dreaded rivals of the West Indian, the slaves were paid 1s. 6d. a day. Lord Harris also—whose testimony was entitled to the highest respect—Lord Harris 1109 stated that at Santa Cruz the wages were 1s. 8d. a day, fully equal to the wages paid in the West Indies, and yet those colonies, we were told, were flourishing. The fact was, he believed, that if their wages were higher, they would produce more largely and cheaper in the West Indies than at present, because then they would only pay for skilled labour, and it was skilled labour which they most needed at this moment in the cultivation of sugar. As a proof of the benefit of skilled labour, he need only refer to the state of the case with regard to cotton. It could not be disputed that this country was taking the raw produce of the East Indies, and sending back goods manufactured from that raw material. Now, in the East Indies they had cheap labour, whilst in England labour was dear; but nevertheless we took their raw cotton and sent it back to them in the shape of manufactured articles. The hon. Member for Bristol had alluded to the Mauritius. The Committee, however, had investigated the circumstances of that colony at great length; and he did not think that the hon. Member could have very carefully considered the evidence which had been taken before that Committee. But before going into the case of the Mauritius in detail, let him settle one point with the hon. Gentleman opposite. It was this. Did the Sugar Bill of 1846 ruin the Mauritius? for that had been stated, both in that House and in a memorial to his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Department. He would prove to them from the mouths of Mauritian merchants themselves, that the Bill of 1846 did nothing of the kind; and he would show them that in that very year, in this colony where there was the largest supply of labour, and the lowest rate of wages known, and, of course, before the Bill of 1846 could have had any influence on the state of affairs in the Mauritius, the planters were making representations to the Government that they were ruined. They said, in a memorial, dated May, 1846—An abundant crop, it is true, the largest the island ever produced, has followed a very favourable season, and the additional labour supplied by immigration; but your petitioners assert that the expenses have augmented so greatly that all interested in the crop, except the paid labourers, are nearly without gain. The most favoured estates only, in respect of position, climate, and soil, and on which large outlays have been formerly made, have given a surplus over the expenses, and even those have barely yielded a moderate interest on the capital invested. The 1110 debt which weighs on the land remains unreduced, notwithstanding the extent of the crop, and the unexpectedly high price that has prevailed, and which every indication from England makes it more evident we cannot expect to continue.Thus it would appear that the most favoured estates only paid their expenses. But it must be remembered that the Mauritius had been more largely supplied with labour than any other colony. Well might the Governor say in September, 1846—I must confess that the whole condition of the Mauritius at this day is an enigma to me. Not two years since it was formally declared in council that could the production of the island be fixed at 100,000,000 lbs. of sugar annually, it would have nothing to fear from the competition of slave colonies.The production has reached upwards of 120,000,000 lbs., and it is now said to be ruined. The document I have quoted was a formal report made to the Governor, by some of the principal houses in the Mauritius. Well, the Mauritius had had labour cheaper than had ever been supplied to any colony. They had produced more than that amount of sugar they estimated as necessary to make their capital pay; the conditions had been fulfilled, and yet that House was told that the Bill of 1846 had ruined them. In another memorial addressed to the Governor by an eminent house in Mauritius, dated August 6, 1846, it is said, speaking in defence of the agents or managers of estates—That since finding themselves in possession of estates, they have manifested a degree of activity and energy in their endeavours to extricate themselves from the legacies which the misfortunes of this colony have bequeathed to them;"—(Let it be remembered this was written in 1846)—and which have every prospect of success, provided cheap labour be not denied them, and with which, intelligently and scientifically directed, as well in the culture as in the manufacture of our staple, they will not fear, under the blessing, of Providence, to encounter the much-apprehended competition of India, or even of Cuba or Brazil.Now the hon. Member for Droitwich indeavoured to enlist their sympathies in behalf of personal friends, who had, he regretted to add, been ruined in the late commercial crisis, without the least reference to the circumstances of the case: such considerations, however painful to do so, he must discard. But as the cost of labour in this colony had been alluded to, he was bound to show that on this ground there was no just reason for complaint. Labour was cheaper there than in any 1111 other sugar colony. Mr. Hunter, one of the most eminent of the Mauritian merchants, who was examined before the Committee—who was largely interested in the sugar property of the Mauritius—and who was endeavouring to prove that the Coolie labour was dearer than slave labour, stated that the total cost to him of a Coolie, including wages and all his rations, was 19l. a year. Now, the Mauritius merchants in London had prepared a very important memorial to show the quantity of labourers employed "in the cultivation of sugar, and it appeared from that statement that, in the Mauritius in 1846, taking only the number of Coolies then working in the cultivation of sugar, each Coolie produced two tons and three-fifths per head of Sugar—that reduced the cost of sugar for labour in the Mauritius to 7s. 4d. per cwt., and that was taking wages at the very highest, and taking only the evidence of a witness whose object was to make the Coolies more expensive than slaves. Now he came to the cost of slave labour. Mr. Consul Crawford stated that the cost of a slave in Cuba was about 100l.; and Mr. Tolmé had also stated it at the same amount. Mr. Tolmé added, that the proprietor charged 3 per cent for wear and tear, and loss, and that the rate of interest in Cuba was 12 per cent. That, then, made the cost of the slave 15l., being 12l. interest on the 100l., and 3l. for wear and tear. Adding to that 3l. 11s. for rations, Mr. Hunter's estimate, it made the cost of the slave to the proprietor 18 1. 11 s. per annum. The slaves produced three tons of sugar per head, which reduced the cost of sugar in Cuba for labour to 6s. 3¼d. per cwt. The difference, then, between the cost of labour in the production of sugar in the Mauritius and in Cuba was about 1s. ¾d. per cwt. But in arriving at this result, it must not be forgotten that the estimate of the cost of Coolie labour was furnished by a witness who was endeavouring to prove that free Coolie labour was far dearer than slave labour, as the foundation of his claim for protection. But there was another point of view in which he wished to press this question upon the consideration of those hon. Members who were prepared to vote against the Government measure; and it was this—Did they think that they had any right to call upon the British Parliament to impose a large tax on the people of this empire in the shape of a protective duty on sugar, unless the West Indian proprietors 1112 were in a position to show they had availed themselves of the recent improvements in the practice of agriculture, and unless they had left nothing undone to increase the productiveness of their estates, and to cheapen the cost of manufacturing sugar? It was absurd to suppose that the West Indian planters could, with any decency, or with the slightest colour of justice, call on the British Legislature for protection which would be tantamount to a tax on the British people of from one to three millions annually, unless they were prepared to prove to demonstration that they had done every thing that was in the power of good agriculturists to do, and that they had reduced the cost of production and of manufacture to the lowest point. He very much feared that the planters, as a body, would find it a matter of extreme difficulty to demonstrate anything of the kind. He could show that as a body they were a very wasteful set of managers—that they did not manufacture their sugar economically, or produce as much as they ought. And yet they were bound to do both before they came to that House for relief. In proof of this assertion that they were wasteful managers, he could quote the authority of Dr. Shear, the eminent agricultural chemist of British Guiana. It was folly to contend that the depression and distress which existed at present, furnished an apology for the planters. Why did they not improve their estates formerly? Why did they not avail themselves of the modern improvements in the art of manufacturing sugar, when they were in the full and undisputed enjoyment of both protection and monopoly? If they had lost time—if they had been so neglectful as to permit the golden opportunity to pass without profiting by it, what claim had they now to any farther consideration on the part of that House? Dr. Shear, than whom there could be no higher authority on such a question in speaking of the planters of British Guiana, had declared it to be his opinion, that if they had adopted a more improved process, there would have been a difference in the gross produce of that colony of no less than 25 per cent. The same was equally true of all the colonies. If he turned to Trinidad, he found that precisely the same want of skill existed in that island. Lord Harris, with that sagacity and activity in the discharge of his public duties which so pre-eminently distinguished him, had offered prizes for the best 1113 essays on the culture of the cane, and the art of manufacturing sugar. If any hon. Member would take the trouble of glancing over those essays, he would see that a large increase in the revenue of the planters might be realised by an improved process of manufacture. The want of that improved process was sensibly felt in Trinidad; and what was true in this respect of Trinidad, was equally true of British Guiana, Jamaica, and the other colonies. It was, therefore, clearly the duty of the planters to manufacture according to the best and most approved process. But he would go further, and contend that it was their bounden duty to be economical in the management of their estates; and he did not hesitate to say that unless they could prove that they were so, they had no right to apply to that House for relief. It was desirable that the House should bear in mind what had been said by Mr. Wray, in his evidence before the Sugar and Coffee Planting Committee, as well as in the volume he had published with respect to the management of the West Indian colonies. The evidence of persons of such authority, and who enjoyed such opportunities of acquiring authentic information, ought to be made known to the public; for it was right that the public should understand the true state of the case. The truth, and the whole truth, ought to be revealed, when hon. Members, who were themselves connected with the West Indian interests, came forward to request the House to impose a heavy tax upon the population of these countries in the shape of a protective duty on sugar, and reject the more moderate and temporary measure of the Government, It would be well for the hon. Member for Rochester to bear that in mind. [Mr. BERNAL: I never asked for protection.] It was to be hoped, then, that the hon. Gentleman would support the measure of the Government. [Mr. BERNAL: You will see.] Mr. Wray was examined by the noble Lord, and gave evidence which proved the defective state of cultivation and management on estates. Indeed, the evidence taken before the Committee of the Legislature of Jamaica showed great variation in the cost of production. Mr. Wray gave an instance in which a proprietor having 250 head of horned cattle, worth 2,000l., besides mules worth 800l., 2,800l. in all, obtained fresh cattle every year, not in the best and cheapest market in the neighbourhood, but 1114 from a pen at a distance, at the rate of 12l. to 16l. a head, with the risk of one or more dying on the road, and one-half or one-third dying before they had been three months on the estate. There were many instances of the bad effects which resulted from delegated management. He was quite willing to admit that some estates were better managed than others; but it should be remembered that the House was now asked to impose a tax of 10s. for the support of all estates, without exception, in the West Indies. The fact had been proved by other authorities, by witnesses whose testimony was unimpeachable, and on the showing of persons who knew the colonies better than any hon. Gentleman in that House could pretend to know them, that the proprietors in the West Indian colonies had been wasteful and improvident. Mr. Tollemache's evidence might be quoted also in confirmation of this opinion. What, therefore, he contended for was, that so long as this charge could be sustained, they had no claim on that House for protection. But what was the opinion of the colonists themselves as to the management of estates? He was prepared to show, from the public journals published in some of those colonies, that the estates were admitted, even in the colonies themselves, to be badly managed. He was prepared to show that the fact was avowed in distinct terms by intelligent public writers in the colonies, who were exhorting the planters in this strain, "Improve your estates, reduce wages, economise the cost of production." It was quite a mistake to suppose that the colonists were unanimous in holding up the present state of things as perfect. In Jamaica and British Guiana most assuredly they were not so. He did not mean disrespect to any body, but he did not hesitate to say that it was by no means desirable that no statements should be received with reference to West Indian questions other than such as were made by parties who were themselves connected with and interested in the West India colonies. It was right that the light of colonial opinion should be let into the House. [The hon. Member read extracts from the Berbice Gazette, the Trinidad Spectator, and the Morning Journal of Jamaica, which contained severe animadversions on the slovenly and wasteful manner in which many of the estates in the West Indies were managed. The writers called on planters to adopt such improvements as would make the cost 1115 and quality of sugar such as not to require any protection whatever. It was stated in the Berbice Gazette that on one estate which was properly cultivated, sugar was produced which was worth 82. or 91. a hogshead more than the sugar which was manufactured according to the old plan. In the Morning Journal it was stated that the plough and harrow had been busy within the last year or so.] ["Hear!"] He understood that cheer. It was true that, during the last year, some improvements had been made in the mode of managing and cultivating the estates, but it should not be forgotten that during the last year it had become very evident that public opinion in this country was struggling with a gradual but with an irresistible impulse in the direction of free trade. Turning now to another subject, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University pf Oxford, whom he regretted not to observe in his place, seemed disposed, the other night, to take the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department to task for failing to send to the colonies model Bills on various subjects. Whether the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of giving to the colonial legislatures a more extended authority than they at present enjoyed, or whether he desired that the Secretary for the Colonies should be less energetic in the discharge of his public duties, and interfere less than he had heretofore done, he did not very clearly understand. He did not very clearly comprehend what it was the right hon. Gentleman recommended; and, though he had since referred to the ordinary channels of information, he had failed to gather a more accurate idea. But if it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to insinuate that the Colonial Office had mischievously interposed to render nugatory the judicious enactments of the colonial legislatures, he must say that he did not think that the imputation was at all warranted by the fact. He challenged hon. Members opposite to mention one single good law of the colonial legislatures that had been disallowed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman was himself a Member of the Committee of 1836, which sat to consider the question of negro apprenticeship. The report of that Committee recommended the Government to postpone all legislation until the period of the apprenticeship had expired. It recommended that no laws regulating contracts as between master and 1116 servant should be passed until the period of the apprenticeship had determined. It was very true that many Acts were passed by the colonies on the subject of contracts between the year 1836 and 1838, and that those Acts were disallowed, expressly and distinctly, on the grounds on which the recommendation of the Committee, of which the right hon. Gentleman was himself a Member, had been based; but surely the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to cast censure on the Government for that. In the year 1838 an Order in Council of very considerable importance was issued. It established a code of laws as between master and servant. The Crown colonies were controlled by that order; but it did not extend to such of the colonies as had legislatures of their own. It was made the subject of complaint in the Crown colonies; for there the opinion prevailed very generally that the other colonies were bound to have adopted regulations in conformity with the spirit of that order, and it was thought that if the colonies with legislatures should neglect to do so, the Crown colonies would be placed at a disadvantage. In the year 1843, however, the colonies generally were entirely relieved from the operation of that Order in Council, and full authority was given them to legislate for themselves on the subject of contracts. It was quite competent for the colonies with legislatures to pass any laws they pleased. There was nothing whatever that he knew of to prevent them. The Secretary of State for the Colonies did not wish to interfere with them. He only wished to see them legislating wisely and judiciously for their own advantage. But when it was complained that the Acts that had been passed in years past by the colonial legislatures with regard to the regulation of labour had been disallowed, he begged of hon. Members to bear in mind that that disallowance was to be justified by every consideration of humanity and justice, and upon grounds which would be sanctioned by that House and by the people of England. It surely could not have escaped the remembrance of the House that most discreditable and disgraceful attempts were made at that time in the colonies to reduce the newly emancipated slave again to the condition of serfdom, and to reacquire that power by law which they had been deprived of by the Act of Emancipation. The loss of the lash was to be made up by the severity and subtlety of the law. He looked 1117 back with sorrow to what had occurred in the colonies between 1834 and 1840; and his only consolation was the reflection that he believed such things could not occur again. Nothing could exceed the severity of the laws which were at that time passed to the prejudice of the labourers. In St. Vincent an Act was passed whereby it was provided that a servant who had committed any miscarriage, or had at all misconducted himself, should be committed by the magistrates to the treadmill for an indefinite period. In Barbadoes, an Act was passed whereby persons who were found quarrelling in the streets after ten o'clock were brought before the magistrates, and visited with exemplary punishment. Trespassing on the land of any plantation, and any petty chapman wandering abroad and not duly licensed, were liable to penalties. [Mr. DISRAELI: It was simply the Vagrant Act of England.] He had always heard that many distinguished men had urged grave objections against many of the provisions of the English Vagrancy Act. But it should be remembered that what rendered the case one of peculiar injustice was, that the men who enacted those laws, and who administered them, were themselves planters, and interested in the strict enforcement of the law. A similar state of things existed at Montserrat. The Acts in existence there imposed hard labour for a month for any misdemeanour, under which term were included unreasonable absence from business, wilful neglect of duty, carelessness in the use of fire, &c. The fact was, that if we looked at the whole of the colonial legislation, we should find that its tendency was to place the labouring population in the hands of the justices—the persons and liberties of the labouring population under their control—a state of things most objectionable. Who were the guardians of the labouring population? The West India Assembly was composed of planters, attorneys, and merchants. They were not the guardians of the labouring population. It was in such a state of things that the Government of that day had interfered in protection of the labouring population. The interference of the Crown, therefore, with respect to such local enactments as those to which he had alluded, he entirely approved of. The Crown, and not the members of the local legislatures, who were 1118 parties too deeply interested, was the natural and legitimate guardian of the labouring population of the West Indies, and which class was not represented. Mr. Higgins, a gentleman whose intelligence and ability were admitted, was examined before the Committee; and being asked whether he could show any useful Act of the colonial legislature that had been disallowed by the Secretary of State, admitted that he did not know one. Mr. Higgins is asked (9844)—Have there been any beneficial industrial ordinances passed within the last two years, or previously, or have any beneficial ordinances of any kind been proposed from the colonies and disallowed?He answers—I am not aware of any.So much for the argument that the present condition of the West Indies was occasioned by injudicious interference at home. It had been said again that the Colonial Office had done nothing to prevent squatting. It was a mistake to suppose that the evil existed to any very considerable extent. The evidence did not show this to be a grievance of any magnitude. But if it were, why did not the local legislatures propose their remedy? Where squatting had been permitted, it was no easy matter to remedy it; for it was clear that if they drove the squatter into more remote districts, they would deprive the colony of his labour. If the regulations respecting squatting were too severe and too stringent, they would defeat their own object; for the squatter would be driven farther and farther from the labour market, and would be less useful to the colony than before. He had examined this question carefully. Judging from the evidence of competent witnesses, he should say that in British Guiana there was not much squatting—in Antigua there was not much—in St Vincent there was some—and in Trinidad there was some. It was not correct to say that nothing had been done to repress squatting. In Trinidad some restrictive measures were adopted by Lord Harris, which were sanctioned by the Secretary of State. Turning now to the question of a supply of labour—what was the meaning and import of this call for a large supply of labour? Was the British Treasury to pay entirely for the expense, of that supply? Was it contemplated by those who called for it, that the coast 1119 of Africa, where the slave trade prevailed, should be thrown open to the British merchant, to get any supply of labour there he wanted, on any terms he chose? Was it intended that that fresh supply of labour was to be paid for out of the British Exchequer, and that those who were interested in colonial property should go to the slave coast, there to obtain labour by such means and on such terms as they pleased? Was that what was meant? The House was entitled to an explanation on that point. He had considered this question anxiously, and he was bound to inform the House that the result of his inquiries was the conviction that, if they meant to exclude that portion of the coast of Africa where the slave trade prevailed, they could not expect within any reasonable time any large supply of labour. For these reasons, he should say to the West India planters, "Look rather to the concentration of labour, and to the better management of your estates, and discard that rambling system which requires great numbers of labourers without any proportionate results. Do not be anxious to extend your plantations beyond the area for which you have an adequate supply of labour." But if unrestricted access was looked for to the coast of Africa, who could consent to the planter again becom-
|IMMIGRATION INTO THE WEST INDIAN COLONIES SINCE THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN 1834.|
|Years.||Jamaica.||B. Guiana.||Trinidad.||Minor West Indian Colonies.||Total.|
|In the ten years from 1834 to 1843||…||6,200||17,784||10,688||—||34,672|
|* The number under this head represent the arrivals in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarters of 1847. The return for the 3rd quarter has not been received.|
|† These are for the three first quarters of 1847.|
§ Into the Mauritius since 1843, 70,000 labourers had been imported, and yet both Trinidad and Mauritius were involved in commercial difficulties. The want of labour was not the cause of their misfortunes, and they must look for some other. If he were asked for that cause in the Mauritius, he found it stated in evidence of great respectability that speculation for years had been entertained beyond the means of those engaged in it; then came the1120
§ ing the purchaser of slaves? This, no doubt, was not intended, but free and unrestricted access to the coast of Africa must lead to this result. But his own opinion was that there was not that amount of labour wanted that was generally supposed. The concentration of labour—the more skilful cultivation of the soil—and the more scientific manufacture of sugar—were the great desiderata. If he had half a million to-morrow, placed at his disposal, he should scarcely know where to employ it, to provide an immediate and large supply of labourers. 170,000l. had been voted in aid of Trinidad and British Guiana. Other colonies might wish for loans to enable them to import labour; and it was desirable they should have such facillities. From Europe a certain supply of labourers might be obtained; and from the Kroo coast of Africa, which was untainted by the slave trade, about 7,000 or 8,000, it had been reported, might be got yearly; and it was said there might be some importation of Chinese labourers: but he feared it would be very difficult to realise the expectations of those who looked forward to a supply of labour on a gigantic scale. Since 1834, the following had been the number of labourers imported into the West Indies. The population of Trinidad had been actually doubled:—
§ commercial depression of 1847, and that put an end to those speculations, and brought ruin on the speculators. Before he sat down, he desired to say one word on a remarkable omission in the report made by the Sugar and Coffee Planting Committee. There was no evidence bearing upon the interests of the consumers in this country. The name of the consumer was not mentioned throughout the evidence. He had not to that hour during 1121 the debate heard a word of the interests of the consumers. He had heard of nothing but the interests of certain parties in the West Indies, and not a thought had been cast on the state of the labouring population in this country. Now, the fact was, that the state of England was not such that we could put a high price on an article like sugar, which was so extensively consumed, to support the cultivation of estates in the West Indies upon the present system; and they were bound to consider the interests of the labouring population. With regard to another point, he must say one word to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, if he would allow him to address him. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to have expressed considerable indignation because reference had not been made to that great question of the slave trade, which he supposed to be involved in the diminution of a protecting duty. He (Mr. Hawes) did not know how long his right hon. Friend had been acting with those who might be considered the abolition party; but he had the honour to act with his friend Dr. Lushington and others, and he would take the liberty to say, the doctrine of the elder abolitionists was, that free labour was cheaper than slave labour, and if they wished to put down slavery, their only chance was to give every encouragement to free labour; and there was no greater bar to the ultimate triumph of free labour over slave labour than anything approaching monopoly or protection. Such influence was fatal to the development of energy and skill Capital had been wasted under it, and no improvement had taken place. Governor Light had said, that sugar cultivation was nearly in the state it was 100 years ago. They might depend upon it that the only way to put down slavery was to trust to the external and just principles of free trade, which would make production secure, and reduce its cost to the lowest practical point; and when that was done, they would find the slave to be the most costly instrument of production. If they were ever to solve the great problem of emancipation, their only chance was to do everything in their power to economise production, and reduce the cost of production. He believed it to be thoroughly in the power of the West Indians to compete with the slave owners, if they really made use of that skill and capital by which alone free labour could be made effective. Upon such principles, and such 1122 principles alone, he relied for the ultimate restoration of the prosperity of the West Indies, and of that great class for which we had sacrificed so much—the emancipated negroes.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
Sir, if it should be necessary for me to ask for the indulgence of the House for some time, I trust the great importance of the subject with which I have to deal, will be my excuse for asking for that indulgence. But, Sir, I rejoice to think that the comprehensive speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich has so completely given the history of the evidence that has been taken before that Committee of which I had the honour to be the Chairman—the speech of my hon. Friend was so comprehensive and so perspicuous—that a great part of my "occupation is gone," and I am saved in a great measure from going into many details which my hon. Friend has made so clear to the House. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, who has just sat down, has done nothing, and I think has forgotten nothing, since he was a party to the introduction of the Act of 1846, nor since on the last day of the late Parliament in this House he taunted me, and called my attention to the manifest prosperity of the Mauritius, and assured the House and me, in these remarkable words, "that competition was all that was necessary for the benefit of the British Sugar Planting Colonies." It was on the 23rd of July, 1847, that a few minutes before the last Parliament was prorogued, the present Under Secretary for the Colonies said—The noble Lord might rest satisfied that a system of free trade and open competition would be most beneficial for all parties concerned—that it would lead to a greater economy in production, be the means of embarking more capital in the growth and manufacture of sugar, and tend to the general prosperity of the whole population.And, Sir, now, at a time when he sees the colonies involved in one general state of ruin and devastation, the hon. Gentleman appears to continue to be of the same opinion. As I see the hon. Gentleman has left his place, I will pass on now to another subject, and will proceed to clear the Committee of which I had the honour to be a member, of the charge of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that whilst, by his proposal, the finances of the country would only be endangered to the amount of 240,000l. the proposition that was made by the majority of the Committee would have involved a 1123 loss, I think the right hon. Gentleman said, of 960,000l. The right hon. Gentleman went on to state, that supposing the consumption of sugar to increase as he expected it would increase, by 19,000 or 20,000 tons, he would be a gainer instead of a loser by the proposition he made to the House. Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend has two weights in his possession, one by which he measures the resources of the revenue when the opinion of the majority of the Committee is in question, and another weight by which he weighs the revenue when he is himself concerned. He soon flew away from his first and only supposition, that the consumption of sugar would not be increased beyond what it was in the last year, and he then adopted for himself an increased consumption of 20,000 tons; but he gave no credit to the Committee for the 20,000 tons of increase which, if they will add to his revenue, I am prepared to show would add equally to the revenue under the alteration proposed by the Committee. But my right hon. Friend has totally left out of his account that part of the proposition which involved the loan of 500,000l., and with respect to which such little hope was given by the noble Lord at the head of the Government that it would ever be repaid. The noble Lord said it would be a perpetuity, or something to that effect, on the country at a cost of 20,000l. a year, for in order to relieve the colonies from the distress occasioned by the Act of 1846, we are to burden the country with a permanent debt of 500,000l. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: I did not say that.] What difference is it whether you raise it as a loan, or whether you charge it to the revenue of the country? Now, I apprehend that unless there is some great increase created by this reduction in the consumption of rum, the right hon. Gentleman must lose 70,000l. by the reduction on that article. And with regard to sugar, how does the matter stand? The right hon. Gentleman, taking his last assumption, that there would be an increase of 20,000 tons in the consumption of sugar, assumes there will be altogether 310,000 tons of sugar consumed; but the right hon. Gentleman does not go into any detail to show how part of his calculations was founded upon the higher and part upon the lower duty; but I will assume, and give the right hon. Gentleman credit for this, that the whole of his revenue will be raised at a higher duty. I do believe that by this new scheme, little or no sugar will come 1124 in except under the higher duty of 20s.; and, in point of fact, his protection will be a virtual protection, in the first year, of seven shillings. Well, then, but if 310,000 tons of sugar are to be consumed. I think it has been shown before the Committee of which I was the Chairman, that such has been the discouragement to sugar cultivation in the British colonies and East Indies, that in the year which is coming, from the 5th of July next to the 5th July following, you cannot calculate upon being able to obtain more than 225,000 tons of colonial sugar—consequently that of the 310,000 tons, 225,000 tons at the outside would, under the proposition made by the Committee of which I had the honour to be Chairman, be colonial sugar and East India sugar, coming in under the 10s. duty, and 85,000 tons would come in under the 20s. duty. The effect would be, that the total revenue raised would amount to 3,950,000l. Now, what would be the right hon. Gentleman's revenue according to his proposition? The right hon. Gentleman's revenue, after giving him credit for the same amount of slave-grown sugar and foreign sugar at 20s. per cwt., and giving him credit for the same amount of colonial sugar, would be about 4,622,500l.; namely, 2,922,500l. on British sugar, and 1,700,000l. on foreign sugar; but from this he must deduct the 70,000l. loss upon the rum duties, and 500,000l. the amount of the loan for immigration. If this is to be given as a means of relief, not for a hurricane nor for an earthquake, but for a state of things which under this glorious system is likely to continue, it must be charged against the casualties of the year. How will the right hon. Gentleman stand on deducting that loss? His net revenue would be 4,055,000l., so that the difference in the first year would be no more than 105,000l. between the proposition made by the Committee and the proposal of Her Majesty's Government. Now, I ask, is the right hon. Gentleman, whenever he gets-into a difficulty, to borrow a large sum of money and make posterity pay for it? I grant him he will have a larger revenue at his disposal next year; but you cannot go on in times of peace—you cannot go on after a thirty-three years' peace perpetually borrowing without any intention of repaying. Well, then, but the revenue of the right hon. Gentleman falls from year to year—though it is true that in the second year his loss in the revenue would be less than the loss of the revenue 1125 under the recommendation of the Committee, taking the six years together, and that is a fair criterion. Take the six years together, the 10s. duty on colonial sugar and the 20s. upon foreign sugar, and then you will see that the balance will not be with the right hon. Gentleman, but with the plan of the Committee who made their recommendation to the House. Sir, I will assume for argument's sake that the right hon. Gentleman is right in his prognostications, and that there will be an increase of 20,000 tons consumption this year—which I believe there is good reason to suppose will occur—but I must remind the House that in making that assumption I am putting the ease in the worst shape I can for the Committee and myself; and I will assume that there will be no further increase in the consumption during the remainder of the period of six years, and then I find that the revenue of the right hon. Gentleman will be, in 1848–9, 4,055,000l.; in 1849–50, when there is no deduction in the way of an immigration loan, 4,202,500l. In 1850–1, it will begin to dwindle to 3,840,000l.; in 1851–2, it will be 3,497,500l.; in 1852–3, 3,412,500l.; and in 1853–4,3,355,000l., against 3,950,000l. in each year under the recommendation of the Committee. Then what is the result? The result would be, that according to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, the receipt" in the six years would be 22,361,500l.; while with the 10s. duty on colonial sugar, and 20s. duty on foreign sugar, the receipts for the same period would be 23,700,000l.: showing that upon the whole period of six years, which is the only fair way of trying the two propositions, there would be a balance of 1,338,500l. in favour of the recommendation of the Committee. But there is another view to be taken of the subject—but before I proceed further, I must take leave to say that the right hon. Gentleman has already abandoned one of the proposals made in his original statement, which was to withdraw from breweries the permission to use sugar. The original proposition was, that there should no longer be permission given to use sugar in breweries; but we have heard from another hon. Gentleman, not a Cabinet Minister, but connected with the Government, and whom we all believe to be the real mover and leader on this question, that till the duty on foreign sugar fell to 12s., permission would be given to use sugar in breweries.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHE- QUER
Will the noble Lord allow me to state how the matter stands? The case is simply this; As soon as the duty on sugar is 12s. 2d. per cwt., then one of two things must be done—either an excise duty must be put on the sugar used in breweries, to render it equal to the duty on malt, or the use of sugar must be prohibited in breweries.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
Well, as it appears from the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, that the reduction is not to take place until the year 1853–54, there is no necessity to discuss the question now; but otherwise, I believe, there would be no difficulty in still continuing the permission to have sugar used in breweries. Now, Sir, I come to the end of the period; and I will take the supposition that there would be that increase in the consumption of sugar consequent on the reduction of duty which has been foretold in that paper edited by a Member of the Government, and may be looked on as their official Moniteur—namely, that 400,000 tons of sugar will be consumed in the year 1853–54. On the expiration of the fallen duty of the Government at the end of six years, when the duties come to be equalised, what will be the revenue raised from sugar by the right hon. Gentleman? Why, the revenue raised at 10s. per cwt. will be 4,000,000l. sterling on sugar; and what will be the amount raised under the recommendation made by the Committee? Why, unless there is an increase in the cultivation of the colonies, which is past all hope, unless the colonies at the end of six years again become renovated, and produce and send to this country, together with the produce of India, 290,000 tons and upwards, there will be no other resource but to consume 110,000 tons of foreign sugar; and the consequence will be, that whilst the foreign sugar, under the proposition of the Committee, amounts to 2,200,000l., there will be levied on colonial sugar 2,350,000l. There will be levied under the recommendation of the Committee 5,100,000., against 4,000,000l. under the proposal of the Government; consequently under this proposal, which is said to be reckless, at the end of six years we shall have lost less by 1,328,500l. than under the proposition of the Government; whilst in the year following and every year after there would be received 1,100,000l. more under the proposition of the Committee than under that which Her Majesty's Minister has reported to the House. Now, Sir, I think I have 1127 disposed of the question of reckless recommendation on the part of the Committee, as compared with that proposed by the Minister; but when the Government proposes a diminution of 1s. per cwt., it is unreasonable to suppose that such an imperceptible reduction in price will give rise to increased consumption. The proposal of the Committee, however, was to reduce the duty on sugar one halfpenny per lb. That is a large reduction; and though a portion of it was expected to go to the colonial planter, a considerable part of the revenue would be raised out of the diminished profits of the slaveholder. No greater proof of this could be found than in the circumstance that, during the sitting of the Committee, when it was thought that the recommendation of the Committee would he a 10s. duty on colonial sugar, whilst the duty on foreign sugar was maintained at 20s., the sugar of the colonies went up 1s. 6d. to 2s. per cwt., and foreign sugar came down 1s. 6d. per cwt. This clearly shows that the effect of the relief to the West Indies would he screwed out of the pockets of the slaveholder. And I think, Sir, that there is no man who has a hatred of slavery in his heart, or who entertains a particle of sympathy for the colonies, who would delight in the idea that such relief was obtained at the expense of the foreign slaveholder. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, who has spoken this evening, says that there is one remarkable circumstance in this debate, and one remarkable circumstance in the report of the Committee, that no notice was taken, and not one word was said about the poor consumer. Why, Sir, our recommendation was the recommendation of cheap sugar. We it was who wished to reduce the price of sugar, and to ensure a continuance of it by competition with the foreigner. Why, Sir, in one of the resolutions, which was passed with the approbation of the Committee, it was admitted that one of the consequences of the measure was that the foreigner was to partake in the increased price of sugar. [Mr. MOFFATT: Of all sugar?] Yes; the hon Gentleman well remarks that the consequence of all free-trade measures is to raise the price of the foreign production, and to enhance the profits of the foreigner. In this case the slaveowner would receive a large proportion of profit. Well, Sir, I have already ventured to say that no man in favour of the emancipation of the slaves in the British colonies can approve of any pro- 1128 position, the operation of which is avowed to be to increase the profits of those who deal in that infernal traffic. Seeing the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies in his place, I cannot refrain from reverting very briefly to one of his arguments, in which he spoke of the condition of the Mauritius. The hon. Gentleman strove hard to prove that the Act of 1846 had nothing to do with the ruin of the Mauritius, and he read a statement showing how much distressed the colony was in that year. I think I will be able to show that the hon. Gentleman's argument was an erroneous one, and in order to do so, the first witness I will call against the truth of his statement is the hon. Gentleman himself. The hon. Gentleman said in July last, when alluding to some observations of mine, that if the noble Lord turned to the Mauritius, he would find that there the greatest prosperity was manifest. What will the hon. Gentleman say of his own truthfulness when he holds such language in July, 1847, and in June, 1848, he endeavours to persuade the House of Commons that the colony was ruined in 1846? But I will call another witness against him. I will call Sir William Gomm, the Governor of the Mauritius, and we will hear what he says. The passage is this:—Did not Sir William Gomm make some estimate of the value of the crop?—He did; that is the crop which I speak of which has arrived and been sold. Sir William Gomm writes from the Mauritius on the 6th of March, 1847:—'The balance of revenue over expenditure of 1845 was 16,816l.; that of 1846 has increased to 50,598l.' 'The gross value of colonial exports within the year exceeds that of its imports by no less a sum than 479,415l., by the official return; the former,' that is colonial exports, 'amounted to 1,622,425l.; the latter,' its imports, 'to 1,143,080l., forming a striking contrast to the relative amount of these two valuations in the five years immediately preceding.' I should wish to explain a discrepancy which, unfortunately for the realisation of his figures, Sir William Gomm has fallen into in the estimate. He estimates the value of the crop in the Mauritius at 26l. per ton upon 65,000 tons; that crop has realised here about 16l. or 17l; the deduction, therefore, will be somewhere about 600,000l. or 700,000l. from this beatiful report of his. He concludes that because the valuation there is 25l., or 26l. or 27l. per ton, he may take it for granted that the colony must be in a very flourishing position, and that its exports exceed its imports by about 500,000l. sterling; whereas the result will be about 500,000l. the other way.What can now be said? Nothing, but that these facts prove a vast mismanagement of our colonies. What I say is, and what others must say is, that the Act of 1846 has done it all. In the year 1842, there 1129 was no colony more prosperous than the Mauritius; but with 49,000 tons of slave-grown sugar, you overstocked the market, and eventually the Mauritius broke down under a pressure of 110,000 tons. With these facts, used by the hon. Gentleman in the present debate, every one must feel that he gave the lie to his own previous statements. Could any thing be a more complete answer to the speech of the hon. Gentleman than the words that he used on the previous occasion when he said, "Look how prosperous the Mauritius is,"—and see how completely ruined that colony is at present? I now come to the report of the Committee, and I will say that if it is to be arraigned for any great omission, it is not for having made no mention of the consumer in this country. It certainly cannot be denied that they studied his interests in the main; if they are to be charged with any omission, it is for having left out of view that important part of our empire—the East Indies. But I want to know whose fault that is? I have no difficulty in saying that it is the fault of the Ministers. Did the hon. Member for Westbury make any mention of the East Indies? From the resolutions which were moved on the subject, the East Indies and Ceylon seem to have been wholly blotted out. With regard to the remaining topics connected with this subject which I feel myself called upon to notice, I may as well say at once that I shall not attempt to go into any details respecting the production of sugar; it is impossible properly to argue a question of this kind by a reference to minute details; I think, on the contrary, I shall much better illustrate or elucidate such a question, by taking leave to call the attention of the House to those broad facts upon which alone we can rely for any safe assistance. By a return moved for by the hon. Gentleman himself, we find the average price, up to the year 1845 inclusive, was in the Brazils 18s. 6d.; but, at the same time, the average price of sugar in bond from Cuba had advanced in value 6l. a ton, and muscovado averaged during the six years antecedent to 1845 somewhere about 21s. But now, or rather from that time forward, the interest of the sugar planter, which has been represented as so flourishing, was utterly destroyed and demolished. From Cuba the exports, which had been 80,000 tons, advanced to as much as 240,000. That was the amount last year. I repeat that there is no use in small details. These are broad 1130 facts which no one can resist. The price of this sugar being at 21s., and, at the same time, when we see that the quantity imported from Cuba has increased fourfold, and when we see likewise that the British planters are ruined, can it be required that I should go into minute details? It has been stated in the report, that East India sugar cannot be grown under 23s. or 24s., while that produced in the Mauritius is of the value of 20s. 8d., and that in the West Indies at 20s. 11d. That would leave no interest for capital invested in the trade at the Mauritius. It is clear, then, that that colony cannot flourish under a price less than 28s. or 30s. per cwt. This is evident from the statement of our free-trade Governor in Jamaica. The hon. Member who spoke last evening, the hon. Member for Westbury, endeavoured to show to the House that the West Indies were not in a distressed state—whereas it is alleged by us, and set forth in the statements of the witnesses before the Committee, that those colonies suffer extreme distress—and he referred to my report for proof of the fact. I beg the House to attend to the ground upon which the hon. Member for Westbury did me this justice; I founded my facts upon the best evidence, that of Mr. Greene, a gentleman largely connected with West Indian property. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies went into a long history of the many complaints which, he said, had been made at various times by the British colonists; in 1804, in 1811, in 1830, in 1843, and 1844, he said they had represented themselves as in great distress, and as being ruined; and he asked whether we were to attend to the complaints of colonists who are so often in the habit of crying "wolf?" Why, Sir, I do not think that there is any great interest in this country which has not constantly complained of being in a state of ruin. If we were never to listen to the complaints or investigate any allegation of distress by a particular class, because, at some time or other, that same class has complained without ground, there would be many cases of real grievance which would not be attended to. There are facts, not allegations which rest upon the opinions of planters, but facts substantiated by the evidence of Mr. Marshall, who, I believe, was the secretary to the hon. Member for Montrose, and who received a reward for his services by a grant of this House. And what is Mr. Marshall's view of the condition of the West Indies? 1131 He states that in 1814 we imported into this country from the West Indies, sugar amounting in value to 12,484,714l.; that, in 1830, 32,000,000l. of war taxes had been reduced, which pressed upon this country; but none of the war taxes, amounting to upwards of 7,000,000l. a year, which pressed upon those colonies, had been removed; that, from various causes, the value of colonial produce fell; in 1827, the amount of imported sugarfell to 9,428,209l. the taxation remaining the same; in 1828, it fell to 8,907,756l.; and in 1829, to 8,212,593l.: whilst the war taxes, about seven millions sterling, remained the same, the value of the produce of sugar had fallen from twelve millions to eight millions. Is it a matter of surprise that, under these circumstances, there should be complaints of distress? In 1830, the value of the whole produce imported from the West Indies was only 6,758,084l., of which only 4,890,786l. consisted of sugar. Now, let us try the question, not in detail but in gross. What was the cost of production, and what the value of the produce? In 1814 the whole value of the sugar alone was, as I before stated, 12,484,714l., and the total cost of making it was 2,914,140l. In 1830 the value-of the produce was 4,890,786l., and the cost of making was 1,369,617l. But when we come to the first year after your Act of 1846 had come into full effect, what is the result? In the year 1847 the cost of making the colonial sugar was raised to 3,390,086l., and the value of all the sugar imported (not sold) was only 4,336,930l. Then you have the total cost of production in 1847 exceeding that of 1814 by 470,000l., whilst the value of the produce was less than one-third. The hon. Member for Westbury has challenged the statement in my report, where I say that the British West Indian planters were 982,662l. out of pocket in 1847 by the year's transactions; and he said that I ought to have taken into the calculation the 30,000 tons unsold. I certainly do not mean to dispute that some value is to be attached to that; but if I had calculated the sugar unsold, I think I should have made a great mistake. Gentlemen on the other side can sit in their offices and manufacture sugar in theory at a very cheap rate; but they are very bad traders who would reckon the stock in hand in such a manner as to calculate it as money actually realised. Why, we all know the difference between bills dishonoured and doubtful. The 30,427 tons of sugar remaining un-sold 1132 was unsold because your slave-grown sugar, under the Act of 1846, drove it out of the market, and the effect was this, that the absolute loss, at the rate which the sugar in that year realised, would amount to 290,569l.—a dead loss. The estimated value of the British West Indies—of the capital there—was reckoned to be 130,000,000l.; and, excluding the Mauritius and the Cape of Good Hope, the value of the slaves in 1833 was reckoned at 40,000,000l. sterling. No value was allowed for houses, or plant, or stock; and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies comes down to the House, and tells the House that the West Indians are not in such a distressed state—that they have been frequently in an equally distressed state before—and that we need only persevere in free-trade principles in order to get them out of their difficulties. Why, what ought to be the return? No interest is allowed upon the capital; instead of a loss of 290,000l. there ought to be 2,000,000l. sterling profit to pay the interest upon capital. Every man, be he planter or farmer, or millowner, is entitled to a profit upon the investment of his capital; and the colonists demanded to be put in a position to enable them to obtain such a profit. I am not going to argue this question upon free-trade or upon protectionist grounds. It is not necessary to do so, because there are peculiar circumstances belonging to this case. But this I say, when you took from the West Indians their slaves, you did so upon the specific understanding that they were to be protected against slave-grown produce. Talk of apathy—talk of wastefulness—talk of improvidence, of want of enterprise and energy! Why, so long as the West Indian planter had the same means of producing sugar as Cuba and Brazil possessed; so long as he was permitted to retain his slaves, although it was a mitigated form of slavery—although you limited the hours of work—although you gave the slave twenty-six holidays in the course of a year—although you forbad your colonist to trade in slaves—still by his energy, his enterprise, which certainly have not diminished since 1834—by his energy and his better cultivation, he kept all the slave-traders and slaveowners at bay, and beat them in all the markets of the world. When you talk of the protection they enjoyed from the year 1834, when you emancipated the slaves, that protection was merely a nominal protection, for it never 1133 came into play. Under that protection, however, they flourished, and grew more sugar than you could consume. Why, Cuba has been in the possession of slaveholders and sugar cultivators as long as Jamaica has been a British possession; and up to 1831, as I before mentioned, Cuba never produced more than 81,000 tons. It was not until you crushed the West Indies in 1834 that Cuba was able to creep into the European markets, and then it was by reason of the advantage of her slaves, and not by reason of her superior energy and enterprise. Then I say that if you deprive the West Indies of the machinery by which they are alone able to make sugar as cheap as those who possess slaves, you are under a sacred obligation to protect them against wrong. Your conduct to them is worse than that of the Egyptian slave masters—you set them to make bricks without straw, and when they are unable to complete the task, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble Lord in the other House, and the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, say to them, "Ye are idle, ye are idle." Why, the British colonists had better by half have Pharaoh for their ruler, and Egyptians for taskmasters, than Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury benches. But Her Majesty's Government have discovered a great boon to the colonists in the half million of money they are going to grant out of the pockets of the people of this country for immigration, to be carried on under the auspices of Her Majesty's Government. But I shall be able to show, from the despatches of Lord Harris and Governor Light, the sort of plight in which these liberated Africans arrive at the colonies; and I am able to tell a tale, too, by the last packet from Trinidad, of the cost at which Her Majesty's Government are carrying on this immigration, and then the colonists will be able to judge for themselves; and this country will be able to judge, too, of the real value of this immigration, carried on under the auspices of the Government. I will first read an extract from a despatch from Governor Lord Harris—one of those despatches which the hon. Gentleman opposite forgot to lay before the Committee. [Cheers, and a laugh.] The hon. Gentleman will not laugh when I read it. The despatch is dated March 8; and Lord Harris says—From all that I have witnessed, and from the statements which I have received, my original opinion that a strict Government surveillance 1134 should be kept up has been strongly confirmed; and I have been led also to doubt whether it be possible that immigration can be advantageously carried on as a public enterprise at the general expense.* * * But, if private individuals are permitted to provide immigrants for themselves at their own risk and expense, there is a certainty that the attempt will be made only by men of some capital who possess the means of supporting and paying them, whose interest it will be to take the very best care of them, and whose employment of a number of labourers is likely to prove of benefit to the community generally.So here you have the opinion of Lord Harris, that immigration cannot be successful if carried on at the public expense, but can only be resorted to with advantage by private enterprise. I thought I also had at hand the opinion of Governor Light on the subject, but I find I have mislaid it; but it is to the same effect as that which I have just read. Lord Harris and Governor Light also report as to the condition in which these African emigrants are brought from the coast of Africa. I find it stated in one of these reports, the mortality amongst those African emigrants was something like 10 per cent; and the remainder arrived in the most emaciated and debilitated and loathsome state. I now come to the question of expense, according to a statement which I have already said had been received by the last paket from Trinidad; and I acknowledge, when I consider it, I am not surprised that the Under Secretary for the Colonies has not given us some information as to the probable expense of immigration from Sierra Leone under the charge of the Government. I have an account here of the result of the voyage of one of the ships which was chartered by the Government—I allude to the Bangalore—for the conveyance of emigrants from the coasts of Africa to Trinidad. The House is not perhaps aware that ships so employed are taken at the charge of, I think, 7l. a head for the conveyance of emigrants from the coast of Africa; and if they do not take a certain number of emigrants—that is, a sufficient number to pay the expenses—the Government guarantees the payment of a sufficient sum to defray the expense of the stores and other charges; and, in addition, the Government has to provide a storekeeper and surgeon, on board of each ship, at the public expense. The Bangalore was chartered-to carry 236 emigrants or emancipated negroes from Sierra Leone to Trinidad. ["Oh!"] I do not wish to weary the House, but I can 1135 assure them that it is a matter of considerable interest. The ship arrived in due course on the coast of Africa, and having been certified by the proper officers there, she waited a certain time at Sierra Leone to obtain emigrants, and then she proceeded to various other places on the coast for that purpose; but the proper time having arrived, the ship, according to her charter articles, was bound to sail from the coast of Africa to her destination; and here I have a copy of the certificate of the arrival of the barque Bangalore at Trinidad with one liberated African on board as an emigrant. Now, this is one of the great steps of the Colonial Government to confer a great boon on the colonies, and the House is now asked to advance half a million sterling to carry on this system of emigration. This is one of the first instances in which a ship was engaged for this purpose of African emigration, and the owners of it received 700l. profit, and the surgeon and storekeeper were engaged at the expense of the Government; and all the advantage that was obtained was one liberated negro, who is to aid the island of Trinidad by his labour. Such is the conduct of a Government which complains of the colonists in the Mauritius and the West Indies—which says that they are not able to manage their own affairs, but are in want of the stimulus of being urged on by Earl Grey and Mr. Hawes of the Colonial Office. Thus, then, only one African emigrant was conveyed to the West Indies at the cost of 700l.—a charge which would convey the Governor General and all his suite to India. If such is the charge for one single liberated negro, the emigration of which class is to lift up your colonies from their degradation, I believe the half-million at this rate will give them 614 of those liberated negroes. But, Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies came here and said the people of England must know the truth; and I will take care to tell them the truth. What I complain of in the name of the colonies, and which I must tell the hon. Gentleman this country is indignant at, is, that the Colonial Office have not told the truth, but the truth has been held back; and I believe this is the first time in the history of this country, that the truth has been so suppressed by those to whom this House has intrusted the whole of the colonies, and to whom this House has delegated powers which it alone could give them. I know the hon. Gentleman made an ex- 1136 planation the other night as to the unfortunate accident which happened to interrupt the despatch of Governor Sir Charles Grey of Jamaica. I acknowledge I did not hear that statement, but I have read a description of what took place, and I have also read the evidence given by the hon. Member before the Committee, and which was corrected by the hon. Gentleman himself. The hon. Gentleman the other night was understood to have stated that it was the intention of Earl Grey and himself that this despatch should be immediately communicated to the Committee. The hon. Member proceeded to say, according to the report in my hand—The despatch arrived on the 27th of March. On the 27th of March, he (Mr. Hawes) could state that it reached his hands with a minute, which was to the effect that 'this is a copy of the despatch for which the Committee on West India Distress have asked.' We had a copy of the document which was required in the Votes of the House of Assembly. It was to be sent to the Committee this day.Now, mark what follows, for it is most important. The hon. Member then proceeded with his statement:—Would it not be better to send instead a copy of this despatch, which is important, with the report and evidence, which we have got now for the first time? There are two copies, and so it is desirable to send it to-day.
§ [Mr. HAWES
The two copies alluded to were of the report, and not of the letter.] I understand it to be the report. The statement of the hon. Member then went on as follows:—That reached his hands from the Secretary of State with the words, 'I agree with you that this despatch ought to be given at the same time as the report and evidence to which it refers.' He (Mr. Hawes) added, 'I agree;' and on the 30th of March his noble Friend made a minute to this effect—' This may be laid before the Committee, as suggested.' As the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn stated that the despatch had not been laid before the Committee, he (Mr. Hawes) had thought it necessary to make inquiry on the subject, to show that it was the intention of his noble Friend (Earl Grey) and himself that it should be communicated.
§ [Lord J. RUSSELL and Mr. HAWES
Hear, hear!] I wish to know whether the hon. Gentleman denies the correctness of this report? If the House will listen, it will see whether I am incorrect in my description of the Colonial Office, notwithstanding the equivocal cheers of the hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord. The report in the paper then proceeds:—He (Mr. Hawes) was told on the 28th of 1137 March, that the enclosure of the despatch, containing the report of the evidence taken by the Legislature of Jamaica had been sent to the Committee.The communication enclosed consisted of eighty-two pages, and was signed "B. Hawes:" and the hon. Gentleman had the conclusion of the despatch before him. The report then went on to say—The despatch required some attention to have his noble Friend's intention carried into effect. When it was returned to the department, they omitted to act upon his instructions. It must be said In their defence that the mass of papers and pressure of business offered some apology for the omission; but what he was most anxious to state was, that here was a most decided intention manifested on the part of his noble Friend (Earl Grey) and himself, to have that despatch communicated to the Committee. He thought that the House would be satisfied that he had set that point at rest.I now proceed to refer to the evidence. I do not see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) in his place; but I see other Members present who will have a perfect recollection of the examination of the hon. Member (Mr. Hawes) on this subject. I shall take the liberty to read again the questions asked and the answers given with respect to a despatch respecting which it appeared in the minute that it was regarded as of great importance. Mr. Goulburn put the following question to the hon. Gentleman:—Can you explain the reason why we have no accounts in the papers laid before Parliament, for Jamaica, of the character of those from other colonies?[Cries of "Oh!"] I really do not think that this is a light and trivial matter. I shall, therefore, proceed. The hon. Gentleman replied—I imagine you allude to the blue book, to the annual account from Jamaica.Neither Mr. Goulburn nor any one else had previously uttered one word about the blue book; but Mr. Goulburn proceeded—There is no account of the state of the island, as in the other eases?The hon. Gentleman endeavoured to slip out of the difficulty by saying—That is generally comprised in the annual report called the blue book. The fact is that we have not received it.But Mr. Goulburn has too deep an interest in Jamaica to be satisfied with such an answer; and he proceeded to ask—Does not the Governor write despatches to the Colonial Office on the subject of the state of 1138 the island, besides that one particular paper in the course of the year?The hon. Gentleman answered—Yes, certainly; but I am not aware of any despatches from him of any importance, which have been withheld from this Committee.If the minute has not been written since the time the hon. Gentleman gave his evidence, what is the state of the memory of the hon. Gentleman? On the 27th of March, this was described by the hon. Gentleman as a very important despatch, and was regarded as being more important than the report and evidence; but on the 5th of April, within nine days of writing this, the hon. Gentleman said he knew of no despatch of importance which had not been laid before the Committee. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: Read on.] I will read on presently, and I will show, by reading on, that he has held up the Governor of Jamaica to the indignation of the people of Jamaica for keeping back from Parliament and from the Committee the real state of the colony. I will read on, and the hon. Gentleman won't have much cause to plume himself on the result. Mr. Goulburn said—We have received very considerable details as to the state of these colonies, and as to the prospects of agriculture; but from Jamaica I can find nothing of the kind.The hon. Gentleman's answer was—Until very recently I think there has been no such general despatch received—that despatch is now printing for this Committee; I ought to add that the Governor has been in the island a very short time.So that the reason for the Government having received no despatches of any importance with respect to the condition of the island and the prospects of agriculture, is laid upon the Governor; and the excuse made for him is, that he has been in the colony only for a short time. But, Sir, there was no doubt left upon the meaning of the hon. Gentleman, for the Chairman says, "That is preparing, is it?" To which the hon. Gentleman replies—There is a despatch, but still not of the nature to which the right hon. Gentleman alludes; however, whatever we have will be furnished.Now, there is not a single word in all that important despatch, except what related to agriculture. The despatch itself was laid upon the table of the House, and it is not in itself a long one, although there was a delay about getting it printed. Now, the report was readily printed. Every Member of the Committee, I believe, had a copy of the report. The enclosure, too, was printed; I believe I myself received 1139 three reports, and we were overburdened with enclosures which filled eighty-two pages. But the despatch itself is one which relates to the report of the House of Assembly, and it is stated in it that the report was inclosed in it, and the report was presented to the Committee. The Governor goes into a long discussion indeed upon the report. The whole despatch is Governor Grey's review of the agriculture of the island, which, mark, would have come in the very nick of time when the Committee was doubting—when two Members of the Committee—the hon. Member for Liverpool and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the university of Cambridge—distinctly stated, indeed they were always complaining, that there was no intelligence from Jamaica; but they specially proposed a resolution, in which they professed themselves unable to fix the amount or the duration of the protection that should be required in order to afford relief to the colonies. They opposed the resolution of my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich. They opposed the resolution of the Chairman, partly on the ground that we took upon ourselves to say what would be necessary, without (amongst other things) having any sufficient information from the principal colony of the West Indies. They were not able to fix their minds as to the exact duration of protection to be afforded. Then what says the Governor of the island? The purpose of my hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich was, that there should be a differential duty of 10s. the cwt. on colonial sugar. Now, 9s. 4d. on the cwt., the House is well aware, is a duty of 1d. per lb., and of course 18s. 8d. is a duty of 2d. We proposed a duty of 10s. on colonial, and 20s. on foreign sugar. Well, now, what writes the Governor of Jamaica?—A permanent Gazette price of less than 30s. the cwt. for West India muscovado, I firmly believe will cause the greater portion of the sugar cultivation of this island to be abandoned; and if I were to be called upon for a recommendation founded upon the most comprehensive and painstaking review of the whole subject which I am capable of making, it would be, that as far as still more important State affairs will permit, the duties on British muscovado should be brought towards the limit of 1d. per pound, and those on foreign to 2d.Why, Sir, it is the very recommendation that was made in the Committee. Of all most important despatches that could have been laid before us, that was the most important. And then it must be observed 1140 that copies of our proceedings, and the evidence taken before us, were laid before the Colonial Office. We sat for eight weeks before we came to any decision; and the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department, and the hon. Gentleman, had the opportunity of seeing the printed evidence and the whole of our proceedings from day to day. They must consequently have seen that the despatch was absent, and yet it was never presented to us nor to Parliament until our report was laid before the House. Now I take leave to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade a question. I ask him, with the firmest conviction that he is without guile—that he is incapable of keeping anything back—I ask him, as a Cabinet Minister, whether he had seen that despatch, and knew that it had not been laid before the Committee? [The noble Lord paused a little, and then proceeded.] I get neither assent nor dissent from the right hon. Gentleman. I wish to ask him as a Member representing the Government, whether he was aware that that despatch had been received, and not laid before the Committee? [Mr. LABODCHERE: I have no objection to answer the question. I certainly had not seen the despatch.] I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman was as ignorant of it as the rest of the Committee. It is impossible that any one should not have observed, that when the circumstance of incorrect returns, made to serve a purpose, in connexion with the department over which he presides, has been brought under the notice of the House, the blush has mantled on his cheek whilst he was offering an excuse and expressing his regret that mistakes had been made. Now, I will make the right hon. Gentleman acquainted with the feeling which the suppression of Governor Grey's despatch has excited in Jamaica. I have received by this day's mail the Jamaica Despatch of May 15, and I find in it the following passage:—Whatever may be our opinion of the present Ministry, and incapable as we believe their representative here to be, we cannot bring ourselves to the supposition that any set of men intrusted with the government of the empire would dare to disregard the well-authenticated distresses of any portion of the Queen's subjects. In what light those distresses have been represented by Sir Charles Grey, or what his representations of the condition of the colony may have been, we are unfortunately ignorant. Mr. Labouohere officially declared in the House of Commons that the Government had received no despatches from Jamaica explanatory of its political and social condition. 1141 The matter lies between the two official gentlemen. Either one has grievously misstated, or the other has withheld the only service that could be hoped for from him, namely, a true detail of facts. We have reason to know that steps have been taken to know where the fault lies; and we have already expressed our belief that important despatches were purposely kept by Government. What those despatches may be the future alone can disclose.After some further remarks the article concludes in the following manner:—We have but one word to add to these most unwelcome truths. The worst enemy the country can have is the man who attempts at the present moment to misrepresent the condition of the colony, or to conceal the alarming state of depression to which the unfeeling policy of the British Government has reduced it.Thus, it appears, that this is no longer a question between the Under Secretary for the Colonies and the Committee, or even between the hon. Member and the House; but it had become a question affecting the character of the Governor of one of our colonies. Imputations are cast upon Governor Grey, in consequence of the keepins back of this important document, by accident, as we are told. The evidence given by the hon. Member before the Committee is certainly, of a most extraordinary nature. Since the days of green bags and of Theodore Majocchi, of non mi ricordo notoriety, there has never been such an example of forgetfulness as that exhibited by the Under Secretary for the Colonies. We examined, cross-examined, and re-examined him on the subject of these despatches, but all in vain: he was totally unable to recollect that he had received any despatch at all relating to agricultural matters in Jamaica, or that was at all important, although it now appears that there was a correspondence going on between him below stairs and the Secretary of State on the first floor in the same building, respecting Sir C. Grey's despatch, and that two or three different minutes of its importance were made. I could be reconciled to the belief that this omission was accidental if there had not been other important despatches held back at the same time: while the enclosure of the despatch, which answered the purpose, and conformed to the policy of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, was brought forward to the Committee, the despatch itself was not presented to them. The document to which I allude is a paper from Stipendiary Strutt. The Committee met on the 4th of May, and on that day we were greeted with the presentation of a 1142 report from Mr. Stipendiary Strutt, which came enclosed in a despatch from Governor Light. The Committee never saw that despatch. They got what the Colonial Office held to be the kernel of the matter, but the husk was cast aside. The despatch which covered it contained information which those who take the part of the West Indians would have thought of considerable value. But Mr. Stipendiary Strutt holds the character of the planters very cheap; he sees nothing but apathy in them, and thinks they have no need of relief. The despatch only arrived on April 24; but the enclosure was placed before the Committee in haste before they came to any decision. The report stated as follows:—At plantation 'Friends' the method of manufacturing sugar, by what is called Bradbury and Evans's patent, continues in operation with the most satisfactory results. The produce of this estate realised in England, so lately as October last, over 20l. per hogshead, when sugar of the neighbouring plantations, of the same weight, brought only 10l. per hogshead; thus the crop of 500 hogsheads, made by the 'Friends' equals in value 1,000 hogsheads made by other plantations.Now, I may say in passing, that we had before the Committee, the evidence of Mr. Dunnett, a planter in Barbadoes, who was also so taken with this patent, that though a gentleman of fortune, he put on a workman's jacket, and studied the method of working it in London, and thinking great things were to be done by it, he went out to Barbadoes to try the experiment there; but, unfortunately, it entirely failed. Mr. Strutt goes on to say—I am at a loss to know why machinery of this kind, or, what is stated to be as good, the vacuum pan process, is not adopted generally. It may be said that some proprietors are too poor to make the outlay of money which the machinery costs (from 1,000l. to 2,000l.). Admitted; but all proprietors are not so circumstanced; many proprietors have the means, and I could name them; but they have, what they should have, especially in times like the present, apathy! If this country is to be continued as a sugar-producing country, the quality of the produce must be improved; there must be less inertness on the part of the proprietors, and more activity; and instead of such frequent appeals to the Government for relief, there should be more frequent consultations with agricultural chemists, and with practical engineers. It is a melancholy and a disgraceful fact, that with the solitary exception of plantation 'Friends,' and in the face of all the scientific improvements of the present century, the method of manufacturing sugar now in Berbice is the same precisely as it was thirty years ago. The agricultural part of the business is understood by parties in charge of estates; fine canes are grown, and abundance of them; but when they are brought to the build- 1143 ings, there is neither skill nor machinery there capable of converting the cane-juice into good sugar. If a tenth part of the money spent in bringing Portuguese and Coolies here had been expended in introducing machinery and sugar boilers, there would not be a tithe of the distress existing here which does exist.You have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Mr. Miles), how many steam-engines, rollers, and other implements of various kinds have been sent out in the last few years to the West Indies—a pretty good denial to the truth of this statement. All this chimes in charmingly with the notions of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies (Earl Grey), on the 7th of February, and with the ideas of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that they have no objection to hurry to the Committee with a copy of it, before the Committee had come to any decision. But Governor Light's despatch was kept back, which would have given a rather different view of the affairs of the colonies. In a despatch received from him on the 24th of April, Governor Light says—The cessation from labour at the present moment is partial. Many of the Creoles have returned to their usual occupation on estates; but while the average of produce throughout the province is 1 or 1¼ hogshead per acre, it will be very difficult to compete with slave sugar. The crop of last year would have been remunerating had the prices kept up; that of Berbice as large as during slavery, but little profit has accrued. The difficulty of the planters is "now increased by their not being able to raise money even on their sugars. The failures in England have so shaken credit, that good (apparently) bills are refused, for fear of the person on whom they are drawn failing in the interval of their becoming due.Now, why was this kept back, while Mr. Stipendiary Strutt's report was furnished to us? As every one knows, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and some other Members of the Government, have said what was over and over again repeated by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, that absenteeism is at the root of all these evils. [Mr. HAWES: I never said so.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not use the word absenteeism; but he said certainly that it was the want of resident proprietors which had caused them, and that is the same thing. That quibble about a word was one of the many fancies of Earl Grey, the head of the Colonial Office. It was absenteeism, he said, which was the cause of all the ruin that had fallen on the colonies. By the same rule as that which had been already acted upon, the 1144 despatch from Governor Light, enclosing a letter from several of the sugar proprietors of Berbice, addressed to Earl Grey himself, was withheld. In the letter they say—County (late Colony) Berbice, British Guiana, 16th March, 1848.My Lord—We have just seen a newspaper containing a synopsis of a speech purporting to have been delivered in the House of Lords by your Lordship, on the 7th of last month, in a debate on a Motion on the state of the West Indies, introduced by Lord Stanley, in which is the following passage: 'But he contended, the system of cultivating and of manufacturing sugar in the West Indies by the intervention of agents (the proprietors residing in England) must be abandoned; and where estates had been cultivated by resident proprietors, they had been profitable.' We take the very first opportunity of stating to your Lordship, that if your Lordship entertains such opinions as are attributed to you in the above paragraph, they are, as far as this portion of the West Indies is concerned, not founded on fact, but on a misapprehension of the real state of things existing in this colony. At the termination of the apprenticeship, there were in cultivation in this country thirty-seven sugar estates, about the same number of coffee states, and two or three cotton properties. The cotton plantations have been long abandoned; and of the coffee estates four only are in existence, miserable remnants of that once-productive and valuable cultivation; of these four estates, two are in the hands of resident proprietors, the other two are owned by parties in England. Of the thirty-seven sugar estates, five had been abandoned; of these, four belonged to resident proprietors, and only one to an absentee. The remaining thirty-two estates have been kept in cultivation, at an enormous sacrifice of capital, in the expectation that a protection against slave-grown sugar would be continued until a sufficiency of labour could be introduced to enable the proprietors to conduct them with some profit; of these eighteen are in the hands of resident proprietors or lessees; one has just been taken from its resident proprietor, and sold at execution sale; the remaining thirteen belong to absentees, and are managed by agents; and we are not aware that there exists any difference in the condition of these properties; if there be any, it is in favour of estates of absentees, who have had more money to expend on improved machinery, and otherwise, than the resident proprietors; but even in their case, as your Lordship, no doubt, well knows, the result has been so ruinous, that they have resolved to abandon their property rather than throw away another farthing upon it. It therefore appears, that out of thirty-seven sugar estates in Berbice, twenty-three (or about 62 per cent) have been, and are, cultivated by resident proprietors or lessees, and only fourteen (or about 38 per cent) by the agents of absentee proprietors; and we again assert that we are not aware of a single estate cultivated by a resident proprietor which has been profitable.That despatch had been enclosed to the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, accompanied by another report from Stipendiary Strutt; but the one dispatch which 1145 was calculated to create a favourable opinion in the minds of Parliament and of the Committee, is withheld in the Colonial Office, while the despatch that was calculated to injure the colonists is placed before the Committee. I have shown you that when a despatch that served their purpose arrived, there was no difficulty in laying it before the Committee within nine days after its receipt; but here is another despatch from Governor Lord Harris, received on the 5th of May: that, I think, was eight days before I moved for the despatches in this House; it was sixteen days before any resolutions were taken or rejected by the Committee upstairs; and it was eleven days before the Government came down with their own resolutions—so that there was ample time for us to have it, and yet this despatch was also withheld. Lord Harris, writing on the 5th of April, says—In reflecting on the depressed state of affairs in this colony, and on its prospects, which become daily more gloomy, I have endeavoured to discover whether some relief might not he afforded, some alleviation found, whereby the burden which now weighs down the planter might be lightened. It is sad and painful to behold men expecting ruin quickly to overtake them; it is perhaps sadder and more painful to see them struggling and toiling against adversity, but with their energies dulled, and their arms palsied, from the knowledge that their labours must be unremunerative, and that failure can be the sole result; it is most distressing to witness this, and at the same time to be aware that much of the misery from which they are suffering, and that which awaits them, is of a nature which they are unable to avert by any acts of their own. It is pitiable to witness a fine colony daily deteriorating; a land enjoying almost every blessing under heaven, suffering from a shock from which it does not rally; but the deepest pang of all, to an Englishman, is to see the hearts and affections of a whole population becoming gradually alienated from the country which he loves. Suffering from such feelings, I have deemed it my duty to suggest a plan which might afford some temporary relief: which, having been adopted for the benefit of other portions of the empire, might fairly be applied to this; and which, having been proposed for them by Her Majesty's Government, and having received the sanction of Parliament, has all the weight of their authority to support it. Did I not see a prospect, I think a better one than in any other in the West Indies, of getting this colony through the present crisis, I should not venture to propose that advances should be made; but looking to the fertility of its soil, and the almost certainty of favourable seasons, I believe that with assistance, there can be little doubt of its ultimate success. But to be enabled to carry on the cultivation there is an absolute want of money, and there is no probability of any being advanced by capitalists. The question, therefore, is, shall the cultivation be allowed to cease, and the estates to go to ruin? for neglect for a very short time in this climate ensures ruin; or shall 1146 such assistance be offered as would enable the cultivation to continue?It then goes on to say—I could quote to your Lordship estates, as far as their soil is concerned, of great value, and giving, previously to emancipation, a large income, on which the whole of the redemption money was expended in improvements—which were entirely free from debt at that time—and which are now mortgaged almost to their full value, and their proprietors—resident Creoles too—from being in good circumstances, reduced to the last extremities. In these cases, the want of labour at a lair rate has been the chief cause of their embarrassments; they surely have some claim for assistance from the mother country. I am aware of the difficulties of the Imperial Government; it is furthest from my wish to add to them; and I only offer the subject of a loan for the purposes stated above, as a suggestion which may be feasible, and which would he most acceptable.But mark this—this is the language that your own Governor holds—this is the language which has been kept back from the Committee:—Moreover, under the present grave circumstances of Europe and the world in general, I would add, that, if the power of England and her interests are to be maintained in this portion of it—and I think they are worth maintaining—it would not be impolitic that some sympathy of a practical nature should be shown, and as early as practicable, by the mother country.The Governor who has obtained so much of the confidence of the country, and who so much deserves the admiration of this House, writes a despatch of that character; and I ask the hon. Gentleman who is here on behalf of the Colonial Office to answer me why it was that that despatch had been kept back from the Committee appointed to consider whether any measures of relief should be adopted by Parliament for our West India colonies? I shall wait for a satisfactory answer to that question from him or from the noble Lord at the head of the Government. I answer for it that the noble Lord—I answer for it that the right hon. Gentleman who sat on that Committee as the representative of the Government—knew as little of the existence of that despatch as the other Members of the Committee. I answer for it that that right hon. Gentleman was as little aware of these authorities when he supported Mr. Wilson's resolutions and repudiated those of the hon. Member for Droitwich, as the other Members of the Committee. But let me tell the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office, this is not the way to govern the colonies of this country—this is not the 1147 way to retain their attachment—this is not the way to retain their affections; nor is it the mode to retain the esteem or the attachment of the British public on this side of the Atlantic. Let me tell them that there is nothing calculated to rouse the indignation of the British nation more than when they think they see a packed jury trying any criminal, however atrocious. I complain not of a packed jury upstairs. Men more honourable and more determined to get at the truth never assembled together. But I complain that the witnesses were cooped up—that the evidence was kept back—and that those witnesses who told well for the colonists were spirited away, while the witnesses who could speak against the colonists and their interests were anxiously brought forward. I recommend to the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office to pay attention and some regard to the advice of a great Whig statesman of old, who has said with great truth, "A refined policy ever has been the parent of confusion, and ever will be so long as the world endures. Plain honest intention, which may as easily be discovered as fraud will surely be detected at last, is of no mean force in the government of mankind."
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
rose and said: If the House intends to finish the debate tonight, I will certainly proceed to address it; but if the House intends to adjourn the debate, seeing that so many Members are unaware of an intention to divide, I shall not address it. I would rather wish at this late hour not to address the House; but I expected some one would move the adjournment of the debate when the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) sat down. I had in that case resolved to take the opportunity of saying a few words on the attack which the noble Lord has made on my noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies. Perhaps similar attacks will be made on Monday evening, should the adjournment now be moved; and I shall then take the opportunity of replying to such, should they be brought forward.
§ MR. G. THOMPSON moved the adjournment of the debate, and
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
again rose. In replying. Sir, as far as I can, to the charges which the noble Lord has brought against my noble Friend the Secretary of the Colonies, you will first permit me to say that there is nothing in the character of my noble Friend—there is nothing either in his public or private life—to jus- 1148 tify the noble Lord in bringing forward against him the charge which he has this night preferred. I defy the noble Lord to say that there is anything in the character of my noble Friend—anything he has ever done in his public life—that would justify anybody in casting the slightest stain on his integrity, which is as pure and unquestioned as that of any man who has ever been engaged in the concerns of public life. And upon what is it that the noble Lord founds this imputation? It is on a proceeding that took place in the Colonial Office with regard to a despatch that arrived on the 27th of March. I mean to speak as to that despatch, because there has been time to examine into the circumstances connected with it, and therefore I am in some degree aware of them. I am not aware of every particular circumstance that may occur as to the transaction of business at the Colonial Office; but this I know, that it has been for many years the established practice of that office, that when despatches are received, they first go to the particular department to which they belong—to the West India department if they are West India despatches; that there a minute is made upon them; that they then go to the Under Secretary of State, and afterwards to the Secretary of State. As there arrive great numbers of despatches by every mail, increasing as they are every year, there are very often large boxes and cases of papers which the persons in the different departments of the office have to examine; but that is the usual practice and conduct of the office. It appears that this despatch, according to that practice, was, on the 27th of March, in the hands of one of the clerks of the office, to whom the conduct of the West India business is intrusted; he wrote upon it a minute, that it appeared to him that it was a despatch of importance, and that, in his opinion, it ought to be laid before the Committee. On the same day my hon. Friend assented to that proposal; and on the 30th of March, Earl Grey made a minute that the despatch was to be laid before the Committee. Now that, I can venture to say, from some practice in the Colonial Office, is according to the usual course of the office. There was no discussion—it does not follow in the least that there was any discussion; unless there is any question upon which the Under Secretary wishes to consult the Chief Secretary, that minute is made, and the despatch proceeds according to the direction which is 1149 given. If there is an answer to that despatch, a minute is made, in the same way, upon the despatch. The Secretary of State naturally supposed, having given that direction, that the despatch would proceed in the regular manner, be laid before the Committee, and be printed. I do not suppose that Earl Grey would inquire each day as to the printing of the despatch, or in what state it was on a particular day. On the 5th of April, my hon. Friend (Mr. Hawes) was examined before the Committee with respect to certain despatches. Mr. Goulburn asked him the question which the noble Lord has read, and my hon. Friend answered—I imagine you allude to the blue book—to the annual account from Jamaica.MR. Goulburn goes on—There is no account of the state of the island, and in the other cases?The answer is—That is generally comprised in the annual report called the blue book. The fact is, that we have not received it.Does not the Governor write despatches to the Colonial Office on the subject of the state of the island, besides that one particular paper, in the course of the year?—Yes, certainly; but I am not aware of any despatches from him of any importance which have been withheld from the Committee?My hon. Friend had had the despatch before him a few days previously; he had given his opinion that it should be sent to the Committee. Lord Grey had confirmed that decision, and my hon. Friend naturally supposed that that despatch was then either laid before the Committee, or was in the course of printing, and would be laid before it. Another question is asked—We have received from other colonies very considerable details as to the state of those colonies, and as to the prospects of agriculture: but from Jamaica I can find nothing of the kind.The answer is—Until very recently I think there has been no such general despatch received.Implying very clearly that very recently there had been such a despatch received—That despatch is now printing for this Committee; I ought to add, that the Governor has been in the island a very short time.That last remark does not apply particularly to the despatch; but my hon. Friend stated in his answer that there was a despatch received, and that it was printing for the Committee. I think, after he had given that information, that there had been a despatch received, which despatch was received on the 27th of March, it was 1150 rather for the Committee, and rather for the noble Lord, to ask for that despatch, and ask where it was, than for the Secretary of State to inquire whether or not his order had been obeyed. The noble Lord has gone on to another case, with respect to which I am not informed, but with respect to which I have no doubt that when my hon. Friend shall make the same inquiries he will give an answer which shall be as direct to the imputations the noble Lord has thus made, as the answer which is now given to this imputation. It appears to me that the noble Lord is not in any way justified from the facts that have just been stated, in supposing that my noble Friend wished to conceal or to suppress any despatch, or to withhold it from the Committee. Had it been his wish to withhold or suppress despatches, his object would have been much rather to withhold them from the knowledge of this House, in which the debate was to take place, than from the knowledge of the Committee; but it appears that no sooner had the despatch come to his hands, than he desired that it should be given to the Committee. Now, I must say, generally, with regard to these matters, quite apart from the conduct of my noble Friend, and generally with regard to the conduct of men high in public office, that these mean frauds—these extremely dishonourable tricks—which the noble Lord imputes to them, are not the faults and characteristics of men who are high in public office in this country. They are characteristics of men who are engaged in pursuits which the noble Lord long followed. The noble Lord very greatly distinguished himself in detecting a fraud of that nature with respect to the name or the age of a horse, in which he showed very great quickness of apprehension. But when the noble Lord comes forward and imputes to a man of the character of my noble Friend—when he imputes to a man of the character of Lord Grey fraudulent conduct, with a view of suppressing the truth, with a view of evading the disclosure of the truth—I say he totally misconceives the character of Lord Grey. He totally misconceives the character of any man with whom I have been acquainted—of any party who has been high in office in this country for a long term of years, in throwing out those imputations, utterly unfounded as they are—utterly unfounded as they are, I repeat again, because to charge Lord Grey with anything like fraud—with anything like 1151 meanness—is an imputation to which he, of almost all men, is the least liable. I say it is true, generally, that no such charges can safely be preferred. They belong rather to those pursuits in which the noble Lord—And I am satisfied that when the whole of these matters come to be discussed, it will be the general conviction of the world that the noble Lord has done in this instance as he has done in some other instances—one I remember, of a right hon. Gentleman lately the Prime Minister of this country—another occurred within these few days, with respect to a gentleman who holds a subordinate situation in the office of the Board of Trade—I say, that when the noble Lord makes these reckless and unfounded imputations, it will be found that he will not injure the character of those whom he attacks, but he will injure his own character for common justice and honour.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir. I cannot help thinking that had the noble Lord who has just addressed the House been silent—had he left the debate to terminate as it seemed about to terminate; or, if he had intrusted its future destinies to the volunteer who suddenly rose up to move the adjournment, both the reputation of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the reputation of the noble Lord would have suffered less. The House can judge whether the noble Lord the Secretary of State has been vindicated with much success. The noble Lord has chosen his own battle-field. The debate might have been adjourned; he might have met the statement of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn—he might have met any statement which had been brought forward evidently with so much consideration, and which was supported, let me remind the House, right or wrong, with so much detail, and with so much testimony—the noble Lord, in the legitimate method, might have taken the opportunity which was offered to him to meet it in the regular course of the debate, and he might have made an answer to the statement of my noble Friend, and he might have confuted him, if it were in his power to confute him. I admire the ardour of a man who cannot he restrained when he feels it is in his power to fulfil a great duty. But then let me remind the House that the condition of such conduct is that the duty shall be fulfilled. Has the noble Lord said anything which ought to influence the opinion of the House upon this subject? The 1152 noble Lord commenced his answer by a miserable criticism, and some of the routine of office—namely, that a minute was made upon a despatch, and that that did not imply, as my noble Friend casually seemed to infer, that a discussion had taken place. But what has this to do with the great merits of the case? My noble Friend made a statement that there had been a suppressio veri on the part of a high functionary of the country. He produced the cases of the despatches of three Governors of colonies that had been suppressed, those despatches containing most important information on a subject of the greatest interest which had been submitted to a Committee of this House. What is the answer of the noble Lord? He only notices one of the three cases, and he only notices that instance to say he knows nothing about it. It is not decorous, it is not decent in the noble Lord to meet a statement so detailed and so powerful as that made by my noble Friend in such a manner and in such a spirit. What is it to me, what is it to the people of England, that the noble Lord opposite, and the great gentlemen and noblemen with whom he acts, are by his ipse dixit incapable of anything that is improper or fraudulent? That may be the opinion of the noble Lord. I, for one, wish it ever to be the opinion of this House and of the country. But that high reputation can only be cherished by meeting charges boldly—by meeting them with counter evidence—and not by attempting to ride over a case like this by appealing to his great position and to the pedigree of his Colleagues, and by asking the House of Commons whether they think it possible that such very great gentlemen and noblemen of such high descent, can be capable of conduct which it has been proved before this House and the country they have pursued. I hardly know, Sir, whether I should deign to notice some of the observations of the noble Lord. How one of his sneers against a noble pastime of this country may be estimated by hon. Gentlemen in this House I stop not to inquire; but this I know from his own admission, that the proceedings of my noble Friend, in the very case to which the noble Lord referred, as on subsequent occasions in this House, proved of good service; and I believe the same determined spirit of honesty, the same indefatigable spirit of investigation, the same courage that will not be cowed by any bravo, whatever may be his position, the same high spirit that 1153 will not be bullied either in the ring or in the House of Commons, the same acuteness and the same vigilance may be brought to bear with great effect in an investigation of the manner in which our colonial affairs are carried on. I ask you to remember that that case in private life to which the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown referred with such excessive taste and such perfect temper, led to this consequence—that some of the gentlemen of England, as great gentlemen as any of the noble Lord's Colleagues, met together to express their gratitude to my noble Friend for his conduct, and to thank him for having vindicated the purity of a pastime which has degenerated with the spirit of the age. And who. Sir, was the chairman of that meeting? His Grace the Duke of Bedford. But, because the Duke of Bedford is a steward of the Jockey Club—because he was the chairman of the meeting which did honour to my noble Friend, and founded that contribution which my noble Friend, unlike other public characters, refused, and handed to that club whose honest feeling he wished to improve, as he wishes to improve the moral tone and honest spirit of the Colonial Office—is the Duke of Bedford on these accounts disqualified for the office of a Privy Councillor? Does the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown shrink from his Grace of Bedford when any subject of importance, especially respecting the administration of our colonies, is concerned? Does he never condescend to consult that man of great sagacity, experience, and honour? Or, when he meets him, does he say, "Avaunt! I and my Colleagues are men of such high character that we cannot condescend to speak to a man who has been seen at Newmarket?" Sir, the charges made against the Colonial Office are before the country. They must be answered. My noble Friend did not preside over the Committee for four months of unparalleled labour, to allow that such an answer as has been so unnecessarily volunteered to-night is satisfactory. This is the return of the Government to the Chairman of the Committee. But this reminds me that the evidence taken before that Committee was for fifty-six days before the Secretary of State; he was perfectly aware of all the evidence that was given; he was fully cognisant of all those cross-examinations which have so often been referred to to-night. I say. Sir, that these charges are before the country. They have not been lightly made, and they 1154 shall not be lightly answered. Is this case to be regarded as if it was the first time that despatches have been treated unsatisfactorily by an Administration? Why, remember the despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes, the most important passages and paragraphs of which were suppressed. But there is a greater question than the conduct of the Colonial Office elicited by the observations of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown to-night. The question between the Secretary of State and my noble Friend must be settled, and it can only be settled by the charges being amply met and completely confuted. I leave the greater point to the House of Commons. They must vindicate the freedom of debate, and show—as they have done pretty significantly this evening—that they will not tolerate such conduct as has been exhibited by the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not rise because I think that any defence, either on my part or on that of any other person, is necessary for my noble Friend the First Lord of the Treasury from the attack which has been made upon him. But, Sir, the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck) thought fit, in the course of the speech he has addressed to the House, to contrast my conduct with that of my noble Friend Lord Grey, and my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes), and to state that he believed if I had been placed in the same circumstances in which they have been placed I should not have acted in the same manner. Sir, it is less in justice to my noble and hon. Friends than to my own feelings that I rise to declare that I cannot accept that compliment from the noble Lord. I have acted for many years with my noble and hon. Friends; I know them well in public and private life; and I should be ashamed of myself if I shrank from declaring my conviction that they are as incapable as any men alive of acting in the manner imputed to them by the noble Lord. What, in reality, was the imputation? It is not that in the discharge of his public duty my noble Friend committed any error or mistake. No; the charge was one which ought surely not to be made against any man, much less against any man holding the position, and, I will say, holding, what is much higher, the character of my noble Friend, Lord Grey: it was this, that he wilfully and designedly committed a fraud upon the House 1155 of Commons by purposely withholding important evidence in his possession, and that he had since concocted minutes to bear out the statement made in his vindication. Can the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, then, he surprised that my noble Friend rose with great warmth to repel such a charge? I quite agree with my noble Friend that it is too much the habit of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn to indulge in imputations of this description. I do not—I hope I never shall—complain of any attacks, however severe, on any public men, imputing to them public misconduct of any kind which can justly be charged against them; but what I do say, is, that no man has a right, except on the clearest evidence, to make a charge such as that of wilful fraud against a public servant. This is not the first instance in which the noble Lord has resorted to this course. I have observed it in several other instances. I can state the instance of a Gentleman in my own office, the Secretary of the Board of Trade, Mr. Porter. I won't enter into particulars. Mr. Porter presents a return to the House of Commons, which may or may not be inaccurate. But what does the noble Lord do? He takes for granted that any mistake which may have occurred must have arisen from the very worst motives, and so he brings a charge against a man whom I know to be as honourable a man as any in this House. He thinks himself justified in bringing against that gentleman a charge of wilful perversion of the truth. I will mention another instance—which I know gave great pain to one of the most valuable public servants and one of the most honourable men in this country—I mean the Chairman of the Excise, Mr. John Wood. He was examined before the Committee of which the noble Lord was Chairman. He gave his evidence not only ably, but honestly and uprightly, as every one would expect who knows that gentleman. In the draught report the noble Lord used an expression which I know was very offensive to the feelings of Mr. Wood; and the draught report remains on the minutes of the Committee, though had it been pressed for adoption I should have proposed that the expression should be expunged, and I have no doubt that I should have been supported by the Committee in doing so. The noble Lord had described Mr. John Wood as having "fenced" with the questions put to him. Mr. John Wood came to me with great indignation. I will 1156 tell the House the answer I gave him—that if the expression had been used by any Member but the Member for King's Lynn I confess I should have attached considerable importance to it. But it is characteristic of the noble Lord that he always thinks the smallest inaccuracy or error must be imputed to some design of wilfully misrepresenting or perverting the truth. I very deeply regret this disposition on his part. I have seen it very often, and it affects very materially the force of any charge he can bring against any public servant. With respect to the question immediately before the House—[An Hon. MEMBER: Adjournment?] I don't think the hon. Member opposite spoke very particularly to the question of adjournment. I will only say that I do not think the noble Lord has any shadow of foundation for believing that there has been any intention to suppress evidence. The hon. Member who has just addressed the House wished the House to regard as of no importance to the case whether or not there had been any discussion in the Colonial Office on the production of the despatch. But the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn laid great stress on that fact. He said, the notes on this despatch showed that there had been great discussion in the Colonial Office on the subject. I don't think the noble Lord made out the smallest primâ facie case. It is too much for the noble Lord to make charges of this description against men of the highest and most indisputable honour which rested on such trumpery grounds.
§ SIR E. BUXTON
I was a Member of the Committee referred to, and I was present during the examination of Mr. Hawes. It is quite unnecessary for me to go through the details of the evidence upon which this charge is sought to be established. I can of course give only my evidence rather in the character of a juryman than of a witness; but I must say that I believe the charge which the noble Lord has brought forward against the hon. Gentleman to be wholly, entirely, and utterly without foundation. Having voted against the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade through the whole course of this question—having reasons of my own for supporting the West Indian interests—I think it would be most unjustifiable for me to sit quietly by and hear the charge made without at least stating my firm conviction of the innocence of the hon. Gentleman. When I read the charge in the 1157 newspaper I was astonished; and I could not bring myself to believe that there was proof of any such charge against the noble Lord or against my noble Friend. I fully agree that it was unfortunate that an error was made; but I fully believe that it was an error, and nothing but an error.
§ MR. ANSTEY
I rise to notice one point in the defence of the First Minister of the Crown, which seems to have escaped the attention of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. The noble Lord seems to rest his defence of the noble Earl that the course taken upon this occasion has been in strict conformity with former precedent. Now, on Tuesday next we shall feel it our duty to show that the complaints from the colonies of neglect and want of attention to their interests depends very much upon this circumstance. We shall feel it our duty to show that the Colonial Office, for seven years confessedly, but as I believe for many more, has been nothing but a sink of corruption and abuse.
§ MR. HAWES
I cannot allow this discussion to terminate without saying a few words. The noble Lord has twice brought forward charges against me which it was utterly impossible for any one to meet without previous notice. The first charge I met by stating here in my place that no despatches had been withheld from the Committee. The first time the House met afterwards I stated in my place that the despatch of the 27th of March was minuted by one of the gentlemen of the Colonial Office as an important despatch, and as one which ought to be communicated to the Committee. It was also minuted by the Assistant Under Secretary of State to the same effect. I minuted it to the same effect the same day. We all made the same minute on the same day, that that despatch ought to be laid before the Committee; to which my noble Friend the Secretary of State on the 30th added his minute to the same effect. The noble Lord's first shabby imputation I met thus with a distinct explanation. The noble Lord now pursues the same course, bringing a charge against me without notice on Friday night, so that I cannot meet it before Monday. The noble Lord, knowing that it is impossible for me, in respect to charges of this kind, to meet them without documents and dates, again selects Friday night—to fling abroad his calumnies till Monday, and on Monday I will state the truth to this House, But that is not all. 1158 The noble Lord has made a charge which I mean to call on him to prove; and which he ought not to have made, unless he is in a condition to prove it. I tell him that that charge is wholly and entirely false. [Mr. SPEAKER: The hon. Member does not mean to say, I presume, that the noble Lord has knowingly made a false charge?] I simply said to the House that the charge is distinctly false, and the noble Lord best knows himself how far he is liable to the other imputation. What is the charge which the noble Lord made? [Interruption.] I suppose I am addressing myself to Gentlemen. And I suppose that when a gross and scandalous imputation is cast on me, I am to be heard by those Gentlemen who heard and cheered the charge. What was that charge? It was, that all these minutes on that despatch, made by a gentleman in the Colonial Office of the highest respectability and honour, and who is known to Gentlemen in this House who have served as Secretary of State in that department, were concocted—that the Assistant Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, that I and my noble Friend (Earl Grey) concocted that minute, and dated it after we apprehended, I suppose, that our fraudulent conduct would be discovered—that we hastily and shamefully—["No, no!"] Yes, that was the charge—I am not going to let the noble Lord off—that we shamefully, disgracefully, dishonourably concocted—for that was the word—that minute afterwards, in order to enable us to explain it to the House. And is it the conduct of English Gentlemen here to make such charges without notice? [Interruption.] I claim the protection of the House from that charge. I ask for that charge to be investigated. [Mr. DISRAELI: That is riding off.] Riding off, indeed! When the noble Lord has made a charge against an humble individual like myself, whose private and public character depends on the truth or groundlessness of it, and when I call on him to prove it, his Fidus Achates stand up and says "I am riding off." That is his sense of honour and gentlemanly feeling. I call on the noble Lord to prove that charge. [Mr. DISRAELI: He has not made it.] I am astonished. The noble Lord did or did not say that that minute was concocted. I heard the word. The noble Lord does not now withdraw the word. If he used it, I call on this House, and every Gentleman here, to insist on that charge being investigated and proved. I 1159 say that it is absolutely and entirely false. With respect to the other charge which the noble Lord has made, I will take the first opportunity again of inquiring what foundation there is for it—I believe there is none—and I will state the result to the House.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
I shall not bandy from one side of the House to the other charges of falsehood; but this is what I say, and charge the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies with, on evidence which I laid before the House in substantiation of the charge. I said that if these minutes and memorandums were not got up subsequently to his examination of the 5th of April, he was troubled with the shortest memory since the days of green-bag notoriety, when Theodore Majocchi gave his answer of Non mi ricordo. That was the charge I made; and the hon. Gentleman may take his option whether or not, after these various discussions and various minutes to which he affixed his name, he on the 5th of April could not remember the receipt of any despatch of an important nature—that he could not on the 5th of April recollect, notwithstanding three separate discussions on the subject of that despatch and its importance, that any important despatch, or that any despatch connected with the agriculture and social state of Jamaica, had been received. That is the charge I make against the hon. Gentleman; and I care nothing whether he makes his defence against the one or the other of the horns of the dilemma on which I place him, and from which he cannot escape. And though I will not say "This is false," and though I will not condescend to use the terms the noble Lord opposite has used towards me—though I feel nothing but regret that any one of the name of Russell, and, above all, the brother of the Duke of Bedford, whom I so much esteem and look up to, should have cast such an insinuation as he has done on the merits of this impeachment of a high Minister of State—I am prepared to stand before this House and the country, and to be judged, not by charges of falsehood such as have been made on the other side of the House, but on the facts as they can be maintained or refuted.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
I wish to put a question to the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies with respect to this celebrated minute. The hon. Gentleman states that the words of the minute are, "that it ought to be referred to the Committee." I wish 1160 to ask whether the words are not "that it should be referred to the Committee, after it is answered." This would constitute a considerable difference. With respect to the indignation which the hon. Gentleman has exhibited in this House, I can only say that I heard him declare most solemnly to the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, when asked whether he had received any despatch from Jamaica with respect to the distress of that island, that he had received no despatch from Governor Grey, with respect to the distress of Jamaica, though he had that despatch in his possession at the time.
§ MR. HAWES
In answer to the question put by the hon. Member, I have to say that the words on the minute are, I think, "that it should be referred to the Committee which is now sitting," without any reservation or qualification whatever. With respect to the question put by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, and which the hon. Member has referred to, I think that all those questions were asked after I had been examined before the Committee; and after the arrival of the packets at that time the question was asked. The question, therefore, was answered with reference to the arrivals by those particular packets which had arrived. That despatch, I concluded, was sent to the Committee, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge was a Member; and I concluded he was in possession of that despatch. I answered, therefore, the question simply in reference to subsequent arrivals; and there has been some confusion thrown over this matter by the first question of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University referring to what is called the blue book, giving a general description of the colony. You will see that the answer had reference to that, and shows that I put that construction on it. I answered both in reference to the arrivals by those particular packets I have alluded to, and in reference to what is called the blue book.
§ MR. MILES
was quite sorry so much warmth had taken place about the charge against the Colonial Office. He cared not whether by Earl Grey, the hon. Gentleman opposite, or the clerks under them, but the fact was, that a despatch necessary to be laid before the Committee before they came to an adjudication, was suppressed—that the despatch was in their possession on the 27th of March—that on the 5th of April 1161 the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies was examined—that he afterwards had the power of looking over his evidence, and the despatch being asked for by the Committee, he was the person who must look to the despatch being duly presented, because it would not do on such an occasion to throw it on a clerk. Having been on the Committee on the Naval Estimates, he was not astonished at anything that took place, or that an attack should be made on the Colonial Office for the suppression of this despatch.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down says it will not do to throw the fault on the clerk; but what if it happens that the duty of transmitting the despatch to the Committee rested with the clerk, or some subordinate person in the department? Now, in matters of this sort, it is as well to be correct; and I think one hon. Gentleman stated a few minutes ago, that my hon. Friend had said, when examined before the Committee, that he was not aware that any despatch, of the nature of that which was under discussion in the Committee, had been received in the Colonial Office. Now, in point of fact, that is not the answer which my hon. Friend gave. [Lord GEORGE BENTINOK: I read the answer.] If the noble Lord will allow me, I will prefer reading the answer again; the House should, as often as possible, know the exact words that were used. Something turns on the particular expression. The question is—Does not the Governor write despatches to the Colonial Office on the subject of the state of the islands, besides that one particular paper in the course of the year?—Yes, certainly; but I am not aware of any despatches from him of any importance.That which was stated just now as the answer of my hon. Friend is not the answer. The evidence goes on—We have received from other colonies very considerable details as to the state of those colonies, and as to the prospects of agriculture; but from Jamaica I can find nothing of the kind.But that is a question—it is not the answer of my hon. Friend. I quite understand now why it is there has been such an expression from many hon. Members in this House. They have mistaken the question for the answer. And having explained to them that that which they took for the answer was in point of fact the question, I will now, with the permission of the House, read the answer to the question. It certainly is an inconvenient practice which 1162 prevails frequently on Committees, to put the question in the shape of an assertion, instead of in the shape of an inquiry, and therefore it is very natural that the reader may be misled. Then this assertion, which is meant for a question, brings from my hon. Friend the following answer; but before I give the answer let me state again that my hon. Friend says in reply to the first question, that he is not aware that any despatch of the kind mentioned had been withheld from the Committee. He did not say he was not aware that any such had been received. And why did he say he was not aware that it had been withheld? Because he had made a minute, and the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office had made a minute, and directions had been given in the ordinary method of office, that the despatch should be transmitted to the Committee. And my hon. Friend was fully entitled to imagine and suppose the despatch had been sent to the Committee; and therefore my hon. Friend, when he stated that he was not aware that such a despatch had been withheld, was speaking under a justifiable natural conviction that the directions given had been carried into execution, and that the persons whose duty it was to transmit the despatch had transmitted it. Now we come to the second question:—We have received from other colonies a very detailed agricultural account of the state of those colonies as to the prospects of agriculture, but from Jamaica I can find nothing of the kind?What is the answer? ["Read!"] You must allow me to make a few comments before I read. If my hon. Friend intended to suppress the fact that such a despatch had been received, his answer would have been that no such information had been received; but what does my hon. Friend reply? He says—Until very recently, I think there has been no such general despatch received.What is that but affirming that, recently, such a despatch had been received. So far from its being attempted to conceal or to suppress the fact, it is a direct assertion that such a despatch had been received, and the previous question shows that my hon. Friend was under the impression that the despatch which was received a few days before had been sent to the Committee. "The despatch is now preparing for the Committee." Is that withholding the knowledge of the despatch? Is that the answer of a man who meant to suppress the existence of the despatch? 1163I ought to add, that the Governor has been a very short time in the colony. There is a despatch, but not of the nature to which the right hon Gentleman refers; however, whatever we have will be furnished.I am sure that these three questions and answers, taken together, and read as they are printed, and not as the hon. Gentlemen have examined them, show conclusively that so far from there having been the slightest disposition or intention of concealing anything or withholding anything from the Committee, my hon. Friend acted under the firm conviction any man in his official situation would have entertained, that directions, officially given, had been officially carried into execution; that such a despatch existed; and it was for the Committee, when they found the despatch announced by my hon. Friend was not delivered to them, to have pursued the inquiry—to have asked where the despatch was, and why it was not delivered to them; and if blame lies at any man's door, for the despatch not having been given to the Committee before the Committee made a report, I think the blame is as much to be shared by the Members of the Committee, who, having had notice of the existence of the despatch, and of the intention of the Colonial Office to send it, made no inquiries upon the subject, or as to the person who omitted to send it.
§ MR. HENLEY
observed that the Prime Minister had referred the whole matter to the head of the Colonial Department, and expended a great deal of virtuous indignation that any Gentleman should think that the noble Lord had done anything wrong. But that did not exactly answer. Then came the Under Secretary for the Colonies, who entered into a regular disquisition on the question; but neither was that attended with any satisfactory result. The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department then dived to the bottom of the Colonial Office, and could think of no better expedient than that of fixing on an unfortunate clerk, on whom he threw all the censure for neglecting to send up the despatch. The noble Lord then quibbled about questions and answers; but the whole matter, after all, was a very simple one. It was easy to bandy angry expressions from one side to the other; but, after all, the question was one of facts. How did the questions and the answers to them hang together? The Under Secretary for the Colonies first told the Committee that there was no despatch of any importance that had been withheld. But then in answer to 1164 subsequent questions he went on to say that no despatch of the sort referred to (namely, respecting the distress of the colony) had been received except recently; and then came the third question, in reply to which he stated that whatever despatch had been received, should be laid before the Committee. Then arose the question whether there was any reason for supposing that the despatch had been kept away otherwise than by accident. It happened, however, that there were other matters to bear in mind. There were other despatches from Lord Harris and Mr. Light, which were said to bear materially on the question at issue, but which were not laid before the Committee. These were the plain facts of the case. Why were not these papers, whether important or not, laid before the Committee? They were not forthcoming, and it was not to be wondered at that there should be some suspicion that there had been a little practice in the whole affair. It was certainly rather singular that all the papers that related to one side were sent, but that those which related to the other were not. He hoped that the matter would be cleared up, as it was a mere matter of facts and dates. Some explanation ought to be offered to explain the reason why the despatch was not laid before the Committee.
The MARQUESS of GRANBY
only wished to make one observation. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had read very glibly the questions, but he had hesitated at the answers, and he was not surprised at it, because the answers were in direct contradiction to the statements of the hon Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies. The Under Secretary had stated that it was the fault of the clerk in the Colonial Office that the despatches were not laid before the Committee; but the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs read the answer of the Under Secretary before the Committee, from which it appeared that, instead of saying the clerk had not laid the despatch before the Committee, or that he was not aware that the document had not been laid before the Committee, he stated that the document was in preparation, thus showing that he must have known that the document on the 5th of April was not before the Committee. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs then charged the Committee with negligence in not taking care to ascertain whether the despatch in question had been produced, because the Under Secre- 1165 tary had stated it was in preparation; but if the noble Lord had read one sentence further he would have seen it stated that there was no such despatch.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed that the answers of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies were, if read in a fair spirit, quite consistent. In point of fact, no despatch that had been received had been withheld.
§ Debated adjourned.
§ House adjourned at half-past Two.