HC Deb 12 March 1849 vol 103 cc540-625

The Adjourned Debate on the Second Reading of the Navigation Bill was then resumed by


who said: Mr. Speaker—Sir, I can have no hesitation with respect to the vote which I feel it to be my duty to give on this question. Being convinced that the time has arrived when Parliament ought definitively to consider the question of the navigation laws—being prepared to assent to a great change in those laws, and, indeed, being eager that such change should be made—I cannot refuse or hesitate to vote for the second reading of a Bill which offers me an opportunity, and the only opportunity likely to be presented, of inducing the House to agree to such a change. With regard to the justification of that change, generally, I should be content to rest it either upon the statements of the friends of the existing law, or upon those of its opponents. If we take the statements of the friends of the existing law, we find that they partake so much of the language of exaggeration—that they are in such diametrical opposition to facts on so many important particulars—that out of their own mouths I do not think it would be difficult to show that a great change ought to take place in this branch of our legislation. If, for instance, I refer to the evidence of Mr. Richmond, given before a Committee of the House of Lords—a gentleman who was deputed, in 1847, to represent the shipping interest of an important port before a Committee of the House, and who was again deputed in 1848 to represent the same interest before a Committee of the House of Lords—if I refer to that evidence, I think that the statements of Mr. Richmond himself would load any impartial man to the conclusion that these laws ought to be changed. For what is the representation made by Mr. Richmond? He says, in so many words, that for many years past—some twenty or thirty, I think—fully one-half of the capital embarked in the shipping trade of this country has been lost, and that of the other part a very large portion has yielded no remuneration, and but a very few individuals, rari nantes, had here and there been fortunate enough to save themselves from the universal ruin. Therefore, according to his statements—and his experience is extensive—only a small fraction has been successful, whilst the greater number have been only sufficiently fortunate to save themselves from universal ruin. Using a homely expression to describe what he considers to be the state of things, he says—"It is true that many have entered upon this trade; but it is also true that a great many have waddled out of it like a lame duck at the Stock Exchange." But if it is true that this trade is so destructive to the immense majority of those engaged in it, on what plea, I ask, can it be contended that we should continue to expose them to such hardships, and at the same time impose a great tax upon the community in order that they may so expose themselves? But without referring to matters of opinion—without going into particulars of the cost and charges in the navigation of ships—I will observe that whenever in any past period it has been attempted to introduce any relaxation in our commercial code, Englishmen, engaged in whatever trade, have appealed to the standard of living and the cost of the necessaries of life in this country, and have contended that the wages of labour have been higher than those of the countries with whom they have had to compete. On this subject I think the figures given by Mr. Richmond are conclusive in favour of the relaxations now sought to be introduced into the navigation laws. It is not my intention to urge upon the House that they ought to be guided in their decision of this question by the pure and unmixed doctrines of political economy. I am willing to admit—I am forward to admit—that they must come to their decision upon other grounds. The first of these grounds is one which the British Legislature is forward to recognise—namely, the equitable consideration of the interests of classes whose trade is fostered under the existing system. The second ground involves the still more important question of our national defences. Now, if I could believe that any change in the navigation laws would bring about a diminution, still more an extinction, of our mercantile marine, I should not stand here for the purpose of recommending that change. But, Sir, let us appeal to experience, and, if possible, cast aside abstract reasoning in considering this question. Nearly thirty-five years have elapsed since we commenced a system of relaxation in these navigation laws; twenty-four years have elapsed since those relaxations became numerous, frequent, and extensive. Now, let us compare the state of British shipping with that of foreign countries before this epoch and since. In making that comparison, I am content to take the figures with which Mr. Richmond has supplied us. In the third report of the Lords' Committee is given us a table showing each progressive decrease or increase in shipping belonging to the United Kingdom and the colonies, as compared with the shipping of the United States. Now, let us compare the amount of British shipping during the period of restriction, with what it has been since these relaxations were introduced. I think no one can dispute the fairness of that comparison. If there is any unfairness, it tells against the existing navigation laws, because since we began to release them by treaties of reciprocity, a practice has prevailed of deducting the gross total of shipping tonnage, showing the progress of the increase of tonnage before the period of the relaxations to which they referred. In the 34 years from 1791 to 1824, when we framed our first reciprocity treaty with the Baltic Powers, we added 1,048,000 tons to our shipping, or at the rate of 30,800 tons a year. In the 24 years from 1824 to 1847, we added to our tonnage, 1,393,000 tons, or at the rate of 58,000 tons a year. But it may be said, and said very truly, that a considerable portion of this increase is due to the colonial shipping, and that the rapidity with which the colonial shipping had increased was not a fair test of the increase of the shipping of the United Kingdom. This is perfectly true, because we know very well that the increase in colonial shipping, and the pressure of competition upon British shipping, had been such that only a few years ago a proposal was made by the friends of the British shipping interests, at the instance, I believe, of the Shipowners' Society, to lay a difference upon colonial shipping, for the purpose of checking its too rapid increase. But speaking of the shipping of the United Kingdom only, it still remains true that it has been advancing since the relaxation of the navigation laws, and that at an accelerated rate. From 1791 to 1824 (the first of the two periods I have taken) it increased—speaking of the shipping of the United Kingdom, exclusively—it increased by 933,000 tons, or at the rate of 27,000 tons a year. From 1824 to 1847 (the second of the two periods), in these 24 years the increase was 960,000 tons, or 40,000 tons a year, as against 27,000 tons a year, during the existence of restriction. Now, I don't know what fair and sufficient answer can be made to these figures. Then, it is said, and this is almost the only plea that can he made, that our shipping has not increased so rapidly as that of the United States of America; and I grant it, if you take along with the foreign shipping of the United States its coasting and inland water trades. But then I say that this is a comparison palpably unfair, because, in a new country like that, occupying vast tracts of virgin soil, with no artificial communication, we find they have employed the great natural highways by their lakes and rivers under circumstances that present no parallel to the case of this country. And if you dwell on the fact that its shipping has increased more rapidly than ours has since the relaxation of the navigation laws, we must also take into account that, before that relaxation, the shipping of the United States was increasing far more rapidly than ours. But if you wish to make a fair comparison with the United States, and to test British energies and enterprise by an appeal to that standard, I appeal to the increase in British colonial shipping; and I say it is fair to compare the increase in the British American colonies with the increase in the United States. Between 1790 and 1847, in the whole of that period the shipping of the British colonies increased from 96,000 tons to 644,000 tons, or 667 per cent; whilst the shipping of the United States increased from 502,000 to 2,839,000 tons, or 565 percent. So that, vast as was the increase of the shipping of America, the shipping of the colonies of this country increased with a rapidity still more astonishing. But, perhaps, it will be said, "This was under the time of restriction." Then, I will finally compare—for these will be the last figures with which I shall trouble the House—the increase of British colonial shipping before 1824, when we were comparatively under a system of restriction, and since 1824, when that system had been relaxed. In the 34 years from 1790 to 1824, the British colonial shipping, according to Mr. Richmond's tables, increased from 96,000 to 211,000 tons, or at the rate of 3,300 per annum. In the twenty-four years since, down to 1847, while we had the laws relaxed, and competition was increasing, British colonial shipping advanced from 211,000 to 644,000 tons, or (instead of at the rate of 3,300 a year in the former period) at the rate of 18,000 tons a year. So far, therefore, Sir, I say, disregarding, if you choose to disregard, all arguments of a purely scientific or abstract character, and relying only upon the results of that experience which has now been by no means brief or narrow in its scope—seeing that we have already had the changes introduced by Mr. Huskisson, and followed by those that have succeeded them—I say, the results of that experience have been such as conclusively to prove that we ought to go forward, and go forward with increased confidence and courage, in the path in which our predecessors have been moving. Sir, I shall not dwell upon the argument (admitted, I think, on all hands), that if the question of the navigation laws is to be dealt with at all by Parliament, it ought to be done at this moment, rather than at any future period. We never can again give so vast a stimulus to the import trade as was recently given by the great and fundamental alterations that took place in our customs laws. With respect to the most bulky articles of freight, and therefore those that give most employment to the shipping, if I had no other fact to stand upon than this—that lately you took the duty off corn, that you greatly reduced the duties on sugar, that you removed the cotton, the wool, the hides, the oils, the silk, and the hemp duties, and in fact the duties upon every bulky commodity of import—I say, and I appeal to the House to acknowledge the justice of what I say, that this, and no other than this, is the period at which we ought to consider whether the navigation law itself ought to be maintained, and if it should, upon what basis it ought to be founded. There is another consideration, the menaces—if they can be called the menaces—of foreign Powers, and the excitement beginning to prevail in many of our colonies upon this question, all of which I regard as enhancing the force of the argument that now is the proper time for dealing with these laws. But even independently of these considerations, upon commercial grounds alone, I am quite sure that this is the season when our duty binds us to approach and definitively settle the whole question. Well, then, if a change is to be made, and now to be made, I come next to the manner in which such change ought to be carried into effect. And here I differ not materially from many of those who have thus far accompanied me in what I have already stated. And at the same time I freely admit that I differ from them without the least substantial hope of conciliating those who are friendly to the existing laws; because my doctrine is, that we should walk in the path of experience—that we should continue to apply more extensively the principles that we have already applied—that, adhering to those rules of action which Mr. Huskisson and others adopted, we may safely part with the navigation laws under the conditions, and in the manner, in which they indicated their readiness, if not altogether to abolish, at least to relax them. Now there are two demands which the shipowner may fairly make upon the Legislature. In the first place, I think he is entitled to the removal of every peculiar burden that now encumbers him. And I find a remarkable passage in the report of the Committee of the General Shipowners' Society, which consists only of a few lines, and I cannot avoid bringing it before the House. I must not, however, he supposed to imply that that society considers that protection, as a national principle of policy, ought, under any circumstances, to be departed from. I believe, on the contrary, they think that in that principle there is something in the nature of a talisman, or a charm, or a mine of national wealth; which they would tenaciously cling to and cherish as their very life's blood. Of that I do not speak now; but I speak of the ground upon which they rest the shipowner's claim to protection; because it is quite clear now that he must make out his claim. As long as there were various other cases of protection in existence, the shipowner might rest listlessly under the shadow of that wide-spreading tree; but now that every branch but one had been entirely lopped off, he must stand up and show what the special grounds are that entitle him exclusively to the continuance of protection. Now what, then, are the grounds put forward by the committee of the society I have named. The report says— The shipowner must not expect, on abstract grounds, any exemption from the competition to which other interests are subject, or the continuance of any immunity from which they are excluded; but must rest his case on the inseparable connexion existing, on every principle of justice, between special burdens and a special and equivalent protection. I do not intend to enter into the question as to whether it is a matter of vital necessity to the British shipping interest that this demand should, to the full extent, be complied with. I am far from believing, even if there are these special burdens, that the British shipowner would be crushed by competition, under any circumstances, with any other nation in the world; because I believe that his command of capital, his superior energy and enterprise, his connexions, together with the vigour and maritime habits of the people he employs, would enable him to bear up successfully against any degree of competition with a foreign country. But still, viewing the connexion between the extension of our mercantile marine and our naval supremacy; and, therefore, the national security and defence, and without showing any partiality towards class interests; still, I say, I would not wish to drive a hard bargain with the shipowner in this country. On the grounds of national policy, then, I would rather take off everything that fairly can be judged to be of the nature of a peculiar burden. Though much has already been done with respect to the duty on timber, and though foreign timber that pays duty may be an article of secondary importance to him in the construction of his vessel, yet I am not willing to leave that grievance standing—I am not willing to allow him to persuade himself that he is ill-used by the Legislature; and, therefore, I hold that if you expose him to unrestricted competition with foreign shipping, there ought to be a drawback or the remission of the duty upon the wood that is necessary for his use. I would not be at all sorry, I frankly confess, that this should be done upon other grounds, however, than this, because I never sympathised at any time with those who consider that timber, being an article that can conveniently be subjected to duty, and from which a large revenue may be obtained, it should be pitched upon as an article from which a revenue should permanently be raised. On the contrary, it is matter of satisfaction to me, that at various times, I have been concerned in advising the House to adopt rapid and large reductions of the duty on timber; and I hold it to be among the first articles which the Exchequer ought to give up its claim for a duty upon; and if you proceed so as to give a drawback or a remission of the duty, this, besides being of importance to the right settlement of the present question, will stand in the nature of a pledge that you mean to deal soon with the whole of the remaining duties upon timber. But there is another important point to which no distinct reference is made now, and that is with regard to the manning of British ships. I confess that I think it impossible for this House to send up to the House of Lords a Bill continuing the restraints upon the manning of our ships. I do not say now whether the British shipowner really suffers to any great extent in consequence of this restraint or not. I think he may, however, suffer to some degree in certain instances; but I am quite sure that, as regards the British seaman, he would not be injured, because, knowing the extent to which American ships were manned by British sailors, it is perfectly plain—I apprehend there cannot be a moment's argument upon the point—to say that the British shipowner could not compete with any body in the world. Still, when we expose the shipowner to unlimited competition, and avow our intention to strip him of all protection, it is impossible, I think, and would be at variance with that primary sense of justice upon which every man in a State ought to seek to act, for us to continue to impose upon him this restraint with regard to the manning of his ships. With regard to the other restraints, I have expressed the opinion before, that if your national policy require you to resort to the system of impressment, you must compensate him from all damage arising from it. If you determine to repeal your navigation laws, and repeal them, I say, in a general and sweeping form, whatever burden of a fiscal or political character the shipowner shall be called upon to undergo for the general good, he is entitled, in my mind, to such an equivalent as would equal its unconditional removal. I do not say, in order to save him from absolute destruction, because I do not admit, that under any circumstances it will come to that—but entitled, because it is of the utmost importance to our maritime pursuits that there should be the utmost possible development of our commercial marine, which is so closely connected with the glory and defence of the country. But there is another compensation, to which I confess I think he is entitled in no small degree. I do not take an extreme view of the consequences that would follow even the unrestricted repeal of the navigation laws; and I am not moved by reference to those cases that are of themselves exceptional and extreme. I am not alarmed, for instance, when it is shown that the direct trade between Norway and this country is almost exclusively in the hands of the Norwegians, and that for a British ship to be engaged in that trade is only a rare exception. I think nothing can be more fallacious or unwarranted than the argument some draw from such a state of things as that, if they found the inference upon it, that, should the navigation laws be repealed, Norway would drive our ships out of every other trade. Norway, as regards this trade, is of course limited by the amount of capital and people she can embark in her shipping; and any extraordinary increase in the demand for cither must act upon the low charges that are at present made. There is a self-regulating principle that operates to confine within certain limits the employment and augmentation of Norwegian tonnage; and I think there is something analogous to this to be seen at work in the manner in which domestic and other employments are distributed amongst our population. Let a man go to Liverpool, for instance, where constant additions to the number of dwellings are being made, and he will see amongst the multitude of classes of operatives that very useful class, the hodmen, engaged in assisting in the erection of houses; and I do not believe that one of these hodmen will be found that is not an Irishman—scarcely one Englishman will be found amongst them. That does not prove that Irishmen drive Englishmen out the trade, but it proves that Irishmen are best adapted to that particular trade, and that Englishmen are adapted to other trades. I am very far from moaning that Irishmen—from whose ranks have proceeded many of the most brilliant ornaments in the history of this country—either in the higher or lower ranks, are not adapted to other trades. But speaking of them as regards the mass of those who come over to England, I say it does appear that they monopolise particular occupations; and it would be just as reasonable to argue, from their monopolising some particular occupation, that they would monopolise every other pursuit, as to argue that because the ships of Norway are the most suitable ships for the rude work of the timber trade, and the cheapest in their terms, that, therefore, they are the most suitable ships for our long-voyage trade to the East Indies or China, and would, therefore, drive us out of the market. But still, Sir, I think on the repeal of the navigation laws we must anticipate that the British shipowner, from whatever cause, will have to undergo a competition from the Baltic nations that will be sharp as far as that extent, and also a competition from the United States that will be pretty sharp all over the world. He will be placed in this position, as at present the employment of shipping is not freely and reciprocally intermixed all over the surface of the globe, but is jealously divided into separate fields; and within those fields it is limited to the shipping of one or more particular nations. The British shipowner has at present his full share of the possession of these limited and guarded fields of employment. Other nations have their share. America, for instance, retaliates this rivalry very effectually upon us, and I apprehend there is not a doubt, although I hear it often said no other nation has any return to make us—that the restraints on free navigation tell much more severely against England than against America. But still we are preparing to lay open to the foreigner the fields of employment that British ships enjoy exclusively, and more is offered to many foreign nations than they are able to give to us in return; and I think that the British shipowner is entitled to ask of us to secure for him an unrestricted entrance into those fields of employment from which he is now excluded, as a compensation for his being compelled to share the trade in other fields, hitherto exclusively confined to him, with the foreigner. I do not enter into the purely economical question. I do not raise a doubt that if you adopt the principle that you will carry out, without the slightest stint or limit, the pursuit of national wealth, then the argument at once falls to the ground. But it never has been the usage of Parliament to make unlimited applications of an economical principle. It has always been the rule to give a fair consideration to the interests, and even, within certain limits, to the apprehensions of those now engaged in conducting the enterprise of the country. On that system and policy sanctioned by the custom of Parliament, I trust the House will continue to act. And further, when we speak of the dictates and results of experience as encouraging us to go forward in the relaxation of the navigation laws, the experience we have had up to this time is an experience drawn from proceedings such as I would now venture to recommend, namely, conditional relaxations, and not drawn from absolute and unconditional relaxations of the navigation laws. It is necessary to explain my meaning in using the term "conditional" here. I freely own that the Americans have set us a very good example; and I would be disposed as much as possible to adopt the model of their legislation as far as it goes in connexion with the form of our proceeding. I never supposed there ought to be treaties of reciprocity with foreign Powers; on the contrary, I declare that one of my objections to this Bill as it now stands is, that I think it is likely to entangle us with many inconveniences touching these treaties. Hero we have at present half a dozen or a dozen negotiations going on; and I am afraid of our being led to make declarations that may afterwards give rise to great misconstruction, and fetter our own hands. I see plainly from the tone of these letters that they are just like what our correspondence with other nations used to be about commercial tariffs. There is the same disposition shown to fence on cither side, and to make much of what each has to give, and little of what they have to get, which proves an insuperable barrier against the formation of tariff treaties. I think you would avoid these difficulties by means of conditional legislation—by means of saying that either Her Majesty should have the power by Order in Council—or an enactment, if you preferred something more direct, having the effect of law—to declare that the vessels of foreign States, which States grant certain privileges to our navigation, shall have corresponding privileges in British ports. For example, if State A was disposed to give British vessels the power of bringing a cargo to their ports from all parts of the world, irrespective of the origin of the goods, or of the nationality of the vessel, as compared with the port of shipment, the same privileges should be given to the vessels of that nation as regards British ports. If the power of entering into unrestricted colonial intercourse is given by State B to our vessels, the power of freely entering into our colonial intercourse might be had by the vessels of that State in return. If any State—for instance, Prussia—having no colonies, were to give the whole of the privileges of its navigation unconditionally to British vessels, then, I say, let her vessels also have unconditional privileges from us in all cases. Now, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary to the Board of Control contended, on Friday night, when he made certainly a most able and lucid statement on the subject of reciprocity, that reciprocity was contrary to principle and policy, and likewise that it was found impracticable to execute. I, on the other hand, contend that it is according to all precedent and experience—that it is demanded by justice—and that it is far more easy to carry out than the plan proposed by Her Majesty's Government. On the one hand, I humbly submit that we ought to proceed by conditional relaxations. On the other hand, the Government contend that we ought to repeal the navigation laws, reserving to ourselves the power of re-enacting them as against all vessels belonging to nations that refuse to make mutual concessions. This is a portion of the measure I condemn; and I must say, with regard to the hon. Gentleman's speech, every word that he said against reciprocity tells, and I think he himself will admit it, with augmented force against the proposed system of retaliation. It is easier for us to stand upon a system that exists, which is embo- died in our law, and associated with our habits, and to make a relaxation in that system a question of time and circumstances, than it is for us to sweep away that system, and leave new interests to grow up under a new state of things, to sow the seed of a new crop of claims against us, and then to come down upon parties acting according to their own notions, and not aware of our mode of procedure, and say we shall inflict retaliation upon them. One answer to this I know will be, that these clauses are intended to be a mere dead letter, and never will be put into action; but if that is the case, the sooner we altogether get rid of them the better. However, I say I would leather join with you than allow those laws to remain as they are. If you will not repeal them conditionally, as I advise, it would be better to proceed with your proposed system of retaliation, than leave these restrictions unremoved; but when you say that the retaliatory clauses are intended to be but very rarely used, you must mean that it will only be done in an extraordinary case; and, if so, it would be better to come to Parliament for an Act for the purpose. These communications with foreign Powers place you in a position that is scarcely honest, because you want it to be supposed that there is a real vitality in these retaliatory clauses—you want them to believe that these powers are to be executed, whereas the truth, as you say is, that they are to remain a dead letter. I think this is scarcely creditable to the character of a great country such as this; and in the next place it will defeat itself, and have no other effect but to create a general mistrust with regard to all your motives and intentions in your communications with foreign Powers. Now, we have to consider if it be fair to the ship-owner, and if other reasons ought to lead us to adopt the system of conditional legislation which I have ventured to advise. I know it may be objected to me that the naval system I have recommended is the American system, and not a system adapted to England. Now, on the contrary, I say that it is the very system upon which we practically stand at the present moment with nearly every country in the world. It is perfectly true that, in the first instance, we bound ourselves by treaty when we began our relaxations of the navigation laws; and that we entered into specific engagements with particular States, saying that for a fixed number of years we would give them certain privileges, which they again were to give to us in return. Now, in almost every instance, those contracts for a term of years have expired. One exception is some South American State too insignificant to mention; and it is true that, with regard to Portugal, also, the term has not yet expired. But with respect to the United States, all the Baltic Powers, France, Holland, and almost every important country, the compulsory term of the duration of these treaties has expired; and in respect to the relations between both countries, as regards the shipping of each engaged in the direct trade between them, we now stand precisely upon this footing, and no other—a conditional grant of privileges. It is free to us to withdraw from the United States the privileges which their shipping enjoys in our ports, without consulting the Government of that nation; and it is free to her to act the same towards our shipping without consulting us. The term of the treaty has expired, and the arrangement now only exists durante bene placito on both sides; and this precisely corresponds in substance with the conditional system that I now recommend. Now I think it is but fair to the shipowner that we should do this, because he will have to exert himself pretty smartly in the very much enlarged field of competition with the shipping of the world; and I think it is only just towards him, that if the field of his employment is to be narrowed in one quarter, and if we have the power to enlarge it in another, that we should endeavour to do so. I will not go into the argument to show how different the case of the shipping is from the case of goods imported and paying duty, because the hon. Member for Westbury has frankly admitted their totally distinct positions. But I cannot help urging this—that the plan I propose would have the effect of doing much more for the general liberty of commerce than the plan of unconditional legislation would do. I am perfectly persuaded that if you proceed on the system of conditional legislation, a great majority of foreign nations, and the United States of America particularly, will give us what we want, and every thing we want. Now, I confess, when I heard the plan of the right hon. President of the Board of Trade, and heard, especially, the manner in which he proposed to deal with the coasting trade of this country, that I was satisfied that this part of his plan was likely to be ineffectual for its purpose. Any chance you can have of getting from America a share of her coasting trade must depend upon your offering her your coasting trade entire, leaving her perfectly free to enter upon it under all the regulations that affect British ships engaged in it. But it is not to be expected of America that she will consent to lay down for herself, and be prepared to fetter herself towards other countries by those particular regulations upon which he proposes to proceed; not giving up the whole coasting trade, but only giving up morsels and portions of it; and it is not to be expected that America will conform to these regulations. I understand that a paper will be soon in circulation, containing the answer of America to the overtures made to her by the British Government, and which paper shows the disposition of America to reciprocate commercial privileges with this country. But, Sir, I think we must ask ourselves, according to that old and homely, and yet still applicable proverb, whether "a bird in the hand is not worth two in the bush?" and, still more, whether it is worth one? I confess I would rather have a distinct engagement from America—at least, in the form of her own law—than the declaration of any Minister or any President who is about to quit office in about three or six weeks' time. The instability of the American Executive, and even of the legislative body, is to be feared in these matters. In 1842 America passed a highly restrictive tariff, and in 1846 she relaxed it again; but I am afraid there are serious apprehensions to be entertained that the same influences that carried the presidential election may lead to an alteration of the tariff favourable to their interests. In point of fact, the short and the long of what I wish to say is, that if you proceed by unconditional legislation, I do not believe you will get the coasting trade of America thrown open to you. If you proceed by unconditional legislation, and offer to give up your colonial trade, instead of our giving up our coasting trade, I believe she will get your colonial trade, and she may be ready to give you up some comparatively insignificant advantages in return; but she is not a lover of free trade in the abstract. Evidently the protecting principle is very strong in America, although it is true it is not so strong with reference to shipping as to manufactures. Yet I must confess that it would be most rash, particularly if you have the power of establishing that which I believe you have—namely, a thoroughly reciprocal system, to throw away any advantage that we have in our hands, and give her all that she can ask, with nothing else but a declaration of an evanescent Ambassador or a dying President. Sir, I must also say that I look upon it as a recommendation of my own plan, that under it I do believe we might get a final Parliamentary settlement of this question. I am entirely convinced that we have arrived at that stage in our maritime history, when we can afford to part with, subject to the conditions I have named—conditions conformable to experience, to justice, and to practice—we can afford to part with the whole of the navigation laws. I have never heard anything to convince me that there is any reason why the foreigner should not be permitted to embark in our coasting trade if he can find his way into it. I have never heard anything to convince me that the same regulations which are effective for the protection of the revenue as against the English smuggler, are not at least equally effective—I think they are more so—as against the foreign smuggler; and here, I confess, I find great difficulty in the plan introduced by the right hon. Gentleman, not to throw open the coasting trade to the foreigner; he still maintains a preference and distinction in favour of the British ship. But what does he do? He alters the regulations, not as between the foreign and the British ship, but alters that which I have always understood to be vitally essential for the protection of the revenue. As I apprehend it is at present the uniform and invariable rule to insist upon the strictest possible separation between the outward and inward-bound goods—between foreign-trade goods and goods coastwise; and, in point of fact, with a system of drawbacks and high-duty goods, there would be the greatest danger to the revenue, or we must undergo the most enormous expense, if we do not require the separation of cargoes. But if you allow a vessel to take in goods to carry coastwise, duty paid, she might be taking in tobacco at Liverpool, duty paid, to carry it coastwise, while at the same time she was discharging; tobacco at Liverpool, not duty paid. I cannot see anything that would be so much fraught with danger. I feel, however, that the debate on the second reading of this Bill is not the time to pursue the subject in detail; but I trust the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade can remove from our minds those apprehensions which at present we must seriously entertain. The right hon. Gentleman at present plainly leaves the matter with the power of retaliation, and with intricate details with regard to the coasting trade; and if he leaves matters in this state, and if the Bill be passed in such a form, we must expect to see the question hereafter revived as a subject of Parliamentary discussion. I do not believe that you will ever see it revived as a subject of Parliamentary discussion if you walk in the ways of Mr. Huskisson and others, and proceed in your course by means of conditional legislation. By doing so, I believe you might give up every restraint that the navigation laws impose; and that the British shipowner would never ask that one of those restraints should be revived. There is one argument used, which I confess rather tells on the whole against the plan I suggest, and that is the argument which is founded upon the wishes of the colonists. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford has told us much of the Quebec Board of Trade, and of the meeting of gentlemen at Hamilton; but the right hon. Gentleman takes no notice whatever of the address of the two Houses of Legislature. My right hon. Friend has great respect for constituted authorities; but it is evidence of something like jacobinical feeling not to attend to the authentic wishes of the constituted organ of the country, but to go to the Quebec Board of Trade and the Montreal Board of Trade to ascertain the wishes of the people. And the right hon. Gentleman must know far better than I do that the Quebec Board of Trade and the Montreal Board of Trade do not represent all the various interests of the people of Canada. However, I must frankly own that the people of Canada do want the abrogation of the navigation laws; and I freely confess that if you look to their wishes alone, their wishes would be more entirely satisfied by the unconditional abolition of the navigation laws than by the plan I propose; but not the abolition of the navigation laws providing for retaliation; and I will not envy the Government who, having allowed the Canadians to make a choice of vessels in which to carry their produce to England, shall hereafter say to them, "On account of other interests, with which you have nothing to do, we will withdraw this privilege from you." Therefore, if this law of retaliation is to stand, however the argument with respect to the colonies may tell against the suggestion I make, it tells with tenfold force so far as that proposition is concerned. But there are many conflicting interests in the colonies to be attended to; and you must consider what justice demands, and what means you have of acting on foreign countries to promote by the stimulus of self-interest the general principle of commerce. It is on this ground I say that you are not justified in looking to the case of Canada alone, or in declaring that because it may be more satisfactory to the Canadians to proceed unconditionally, therefore you are to throw overboard every other consideration. Now, what do we find the sentiments of the inhabitants of New Brunswick to be, as far as they have been declared? They appear, I think, to lean more towards the mode of proceeding which I recommend. I find that the magistrates, merchants, and other inhabitants of the city of St. John's, convened at public meeting in the month of July last, use this language:—s Your petitioners humbly beg leave to represent to Your gracious Majesty, that they are firmly of opinion that the measures now under consideration of the Imperial Parliament, as introduced by Mr. Labouchere, if they become law, will prove generally prejudicial to the British empire, and particularly to this loyal colony, inasmuch as there is no reciprocity to be found in the plan proposed for the alteration, or rather the abrogation, of the navigation laws; and, more-over, that there is no equivalent provided for Your Majesty's subjects in the concessions to be made to foreigners for the privileges and benefits of the colonial and intercolonial carrying trade, as, in fact, they have none to offer, save and except the coasting trade of the United States of America, which is not to be given up to British subjects, unless the coasting trade of Great Britain be conceded to them, which is not contemplated in the measure now under consideration of Parliament. Therefore, if the Canadians be better pleased by the mode of preceding which Her Majesty's Government have adopted, it is plain that the people of New Brunswick are much more in favour of a system of conditional legislation. And with regard to the people of Canada—because it is indeed but reasonable that we should take a mixed and balanced view of the subject, and endeavour to combine together as far as we can the conflicting interests involved in it—they should see that we were only extending to another portion of Her Majesty's subjects the very same privileges that we were desirous to confer upon them. Therefore, so far as regards the bearing of the colonial argument, it has a mixed effect on this question. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Westbury stated on a previous night, as an objection to a system of reciprocity, that foreign countries have nothing to give in return, with but one exception, that is, the exception of the United States; but in conceding that exception, the hon. Gentleman nearly conceded the whole case; for it is the competition of the United States that the British shipowner has to fear. It is the ship of the United States he will find in every port in the world, competing with him, and reducing down his freights. I am satisfied that the way of getting the coasting trade from the United States is by making the possession of your colonial trade conditional and not otherwise; and by entering into that arrangement, the shipowner will gain more than any loss he may sustain by American competition. With regard to the British shipowner, it may be said, without casting any reproach upon him, that by an increase of care and economy our marine may be improved. It would be absurd to be influenced by the opinion of those who place them at the head of the maritime navigation of the world; and I have no doubt, when you compare our marine with the marine of America, there are some important particulars with regard to despatch, with regard to the training of masters, and the charges also for carriage, in which our marine is susceptible of improvement. But that is not all the advantage I expect from the abolition of the restraints on navigation. What, I ask, is the effect of the navigation laws in general—not our navigation laws alone, nor the navigation laws of one country more than another—what is the whole effect of the navigation laws? It is to make ships go with half cargoes, when they might go with full ones—it is to make them go out of one port with a cargo, and come back in ballast instead of carrying back a cargo—it is imposing a general tax on the commerce of the world, and the effect of a judicious abolition of them will be to do away with the evil, and to equalise as much as possible the carrying of cargoes, leaving all those things to be regulated by the natural operation of the principles of commerce. You will not then have a Spanish ship coming into an English port with Spanish goods, and going back empty; or an English ship, having brought English goods to a Spanish port, going back without a cargo. It will be the same way with the trade of Newfound- land and elsewhere, and we will have all things that are necessary for the comfort of man carried at the cheapest rate to their places of destination. There is another point on which I must say a few words. I refer now to the clause which confers on the colonial legislature the power of passing laws with respect to the admission of foreign vessels to the coasting trade of the colony and the colonial trade. I see no reason why that subject should be removed from the jurisdiction of Parliament. There is no doubt that there is one matter which greatly affects the interests of Canada, and stands by itself—that is, the navigation of the St. Lawrence above Montreal and the Lakes; but why give this power to the colonies to regulate their coasting trade? Yet this power is given, certainly under certain conditions; but I suppose the right hon. Gentleman will explain it. I confess, I anticipate that much inconvenience will arise from placing in the hands of the colonial legislature the power of legislation in regard to foreign ships. I am for giving to the colonies as much power over their own affairs as any man in this House; but if there be anything more than another that should be kept out of the hands of a colonial legislature, and reserved for the Imperial Parliament, it is the regulation of all matters between the colonies and foreign States. Nor can I allow (although disposed to concede to the colonists as much power as possible in the control of their own affairs) the power of deciding whether a foreign ship should sail, for instance, from Halifax to Sydney. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman does not designedly depart from that principle, which is so universally admitted; but if the colonial legislatures are to pass laws which are to govern the access of foreign ships to colonial ports, he will find, that out of those laws, in the execution or application of them, there will necessarily grow questions relating to their construction—there will arise cases of misunderstanding or of grievance, and the construction of those colonial laws will be either referred to Downing-street, which may not be satisfactory to the colonies, or else you will have direct diplomatic agents established between the colonial governments and the agents of foreign Powers. I wish, therefore, to call the attention of Government specifically to this subject. I regard it at present as a positive evil, and I don't see any positive reason for introducing it. I don't see why you should not deal with your foreign coasting trade as with the rest of this question. I see no reason, if you adopt this measure, and take a burden off the shipowners, why you should make any reservation with respect to the British coasting trade, or colonial coasting trade, or any other portion of the Queen's dominions. I am, of course, prepared to hear every argument against the concession of the coasting trade, and it may be said the Government are the persons to form an opinion upon it; but the best mode. I think, of dealing with this question would be the total surrender of all advantages, subject only to the exchange of advantages with other Powers. By this means certainly your shipowners' interests will be best advanced, and you will do most to promote the progress of the principles you advocate. With respect to the progress of those principles in other States, I am afraid the time will be long before we receive as full and as tacit a recognition of them as we desire. And though I am far from repenting of what we have done ourselves—though the reasons were adequate, and the results are such as to satisfy my own mind, I cannot deny that the withholding of reciprocal acts on the part of foreign States, is a misfortune to those countries, and to us also. And I am exceedingly unwilling to part with the possession of an instrument such as the navigation laws, by which it is in our power to act strongly and effectually on foreign countries, through a sense of their own interest, without seeking by correspondence, or negotiation, to induce all amongst them whose adhesion is desirable, to agree to the principle which you are anxious to establish of perfectly free navigation. I feel that all those considerations go to establish so material a change in the measure that has been proposed by Her Majesty's Government, that it was right I should endeavour fully to state them to the House. I have, indeed, no intention of taking a vote of the House in regard to them merely for my own satisfaction, or to vindicate my own consistency. My intention is to observe the reception they meet with in the House, and from the country. I think that justice to the shipowners calls upon us to proceed on the principle I have laid down; but I do not know that the shipowners will think so, and it is desirable to ascertain whether they are more favourable to the plan I have sketched, or to the plan of the Government. I am little disposed to take up the time of the House, or of the Government, unless it be for the attainment of some great practical object; but an hon. Gentleman has given notice of an Amendment, to be moved in Committee, which will probably raise the question whether we shall proceed or not by conditional legislation; and that may give me the opportunity of expressing the opinions I feel strongly in regard to it. I thought it right, however, on this occasion, to express my opinion on this point, for by adopting the mode of proceeding to which I call your attention, you will follow the dictates of experience, and do all that is necessary to satisfy the demands of justice. Before I sit down, I must say a few words on a collateral question, to which I have already, but at an irregular stage, called the attention of the House. I asked the noble Lord at the bead of the Government, before the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade proposed his plan, whether that plan was to have the support of all Gentlemen holding offices under the Crown, and occupying scats in this House. The noble Lord said it would be supported by all Her Majesty's servants in this House, with the exception of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hull, who has been recently appointed the head of the Poor Law Commission. And the noble Lord referred to two cases in support of this course of proceeding—one was that of Mr. Wynn, who took office with the intention of following a different policy from the Government he joined, in respect to the Alien Act; and the other was the case of Lord Lonsdale, who, in the year 1829, retained office under the Duke of Wellington, while he voted against Roman Catholic Emancipation. I freely own that the precedents quoted by the noble Lord—without entering into such nice distinctions as might be shown to exist—go so far to supply, at least, a technical vindication or a Parliamentary vindication of his own conduct, that I feel it would be unbecoming of me to canvass it with any asperity; but looking at it as a practical question, I cannot help thinking it as an arrangement that ought to be noticed, in order that it might not be repeated. I submit to the House that when Her Majesty in Her Speech from the Throne has recommended to the Houses of Her Parliament a particular course in respect to a subject of high national policy, carrying with it the most important effects—I submit that, under those circumstances, it is not well that Her Majesty's servants should be divided in regard to the carrying out of—or refusing to act upon—Her Majesty's recommendation. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, when introducing his plan to the House, stated, in terms pretty intelligible, that he thought that by the determined adherence of Parliament to the present navigation laws, the connexion between Canada and this country might be endangered. No man can doubt the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman on this question; but I submit to him that that declaration which represented the connexion between a colony and the mother country as involved in the acceptance of this measure by Parliament, does not well comport with an arrangement which, for the sake of the convenience of a particular department, exhibits to the world a divided Government—divided upon a question of imperial importance. With respect to the Duke of Wellington and Lord Lonsdale, I think, when we consider what took place in 1829, it is only fair to assume that the Duke of Wellington was so far aware of the state of feeling in the two Houses of Parliament, that he felt he had strength to spare; and having strength to spare, and being secure of the attainment of his end, he did not wish to sever a very old political connexion. But is the noble Lord equally confident and assured that he has strength to spare both in this House and in another place? If he be, I must confess that my views of the general inconvenience of such a proceeding are very much altered; but if he be not so assured, I put it to the noble Lord that nothing can so strengthen the opponents of his measure, and detract from the moral weight attaching to the judgment of this House, as the appointment by the Government of an officer who is opposed to them in regard to this measure, which, according to the representation of the right hon. Gentleman, is necessary for the integrity of the empire. You thus may produce an effect in another place, for you show that you yourselves think that the measure is of less importance than the political convenience of making an appointment to a particular department of the State. I do not wish to carry this matter further, but I thought it of sufficient importance to demand observation. I hope I shall not be thought to speak in terms of disrespect of the hon. Gentleman who is immediately the subject of remark. I believe, in every particular, it was impossible for the noble Lord to make an appointment that would do him greater credit, or be of more advantage to the public interests. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Granby), who spoke on Friday night—I believe he is not now in the House—is in a state of great alarm for the consequences that may arise from any change in the navigation laws. He desired, it appeared, to expel the vapours and exhalations that had been raised with regard to the principle of political economy, and which vapours and exhalations I find for the most part in the fears with which those changes are regarded. The noble Marquess consequently hoped that the Trojan horse would not be allowed to come within the walls of Parliament. But however applicable the figure may be to other plans, it does not, I submit, apply to the mode of proceeding I ventured to recommend to the House, because we follow the precedent of what Mr. Huskisson did he-fore us. Therefore, more than one moiety of the Trojan horse has already got within the citadel—it has been there for twenty-five years—and yet what has proceeded from its bowels has only tended to augment the rate of increase in the progress of your shipping. Therefore, let us not be alarmed by vague and dreamy vaticinations of evil, which never have been wanting on any occasion, and which never will be wanting so long as this is a free State, wherein every man can find full vent and scope for the expression, not only of his principles, but of his prejudices and of his fears. Let us not be deterred by those apprehensions from giving a calm and serious examination to this question, connected as it is with the welfare of our country. Let us follow steadily the lights of experience, and be convinced that He who preserved us during the past will also be sufficient to sustain us during all the dangers of the future.


said, as he was intimately connected with the shipping interest, and could appeal moreover to the results of personal experience as regarded the colonies, he hoped the House would indulge him with a hearing. The opponents of the navigation laws seemed in general to suppose that those laws greatly increased the prices of commodities imported into this country; but the hon. Member for Westbury had admitted that the navigation laws had not had the effect of giving to the British shipowner an exorbitant rate of freight; and in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman upon that subject he entirely concurred. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down said that our shipping had of late years increased in a greater ratio than the shipping of America. But the right hon. Gentleman must he aware that that increase had been owing to the fact that our colonial trade and our intercolonial trade had been confined to British shipping. It did not follow, however, that because our shipping had increased in a greater degree than that of the United States of America under the existing navigation laws, that increase would continue if these laws were repealed, and the whole of our colonial trade were thrown open to the rest of the world. He entirely agreed with two of the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. One was, that if the shipowner was deprived of the advantage which the navigation laws extended to him, he should be relieved from all the disadvantages under which he now laboured. Upon this point he begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman why he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill? Let him ask the right hon. Gentleman what security there was that the disabilities in question would be removed? He (Mr. Robinson) saw no security whatever, and, therefore, he would not vote for the second reading. He would frankly state that, for his own part, he would much rather see the navigation laws repealed by a short enactment, than he would vote for the second reading of the Bill, which left the question of indemnity to the Government. What were the disabilities under which the shipowner laboured? There was the duty on timber; and although he did not consider that that was an essential point to be urged, yet it must be considered that, upon a vessel of 200 tons, the duty upon the timber would be 300l. There was another item which the right hon. Gentleman did not allude to—the duty upon marine assurances; in fact, there were all the taxes which pressed upon the British shipowner, and from which the foreign shipowner was free. He would ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government if his Exchequer was in such a state as to enable him to surrender such taxes? Was the noble Lord prepared to declare that he was ready to abandon the duty upon timber, upon marine assurances, to relieve the shipowner from the apprenticeship restrictions, and to allow him to man his ship with foreign seamen? The noble Lord was not in a position to give any such assurance; and although he were, and the promise realised, he did not think that even then the British shipowner would be able to compete successfully with the foreigner. It appeared to him that, if we were to admit the people of the United States to our colonial trade, and to the long voyage, they could offer us no corresponding advantage. But, at all events, if they were to open to us their coasting trade, they would be giving us something in the shape of an equivalent—something like a reciprocal arrangement; and no British statesman, until within the last few years, had ever entertained the idea that reciprocity was not desirable. As regarded reciprocity, the hon. Member for Westbury had made some very extraordinary declarations. The hon. Member ridiculed the idea of reciprocity, and wont upon the principle that it was England's interest to give up everything, and to ask nothing in return. He (Mr. Robinson) was much more favourable to the stipulation system propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. The hon. Member for Westbury stated that the foreigner had nothing at all to offer in return—that was the protectionist argument; and the objection to the course proposed was, that concessions were to be made to parties who were perfectly well known to be unable to give anything in return. He had the greatest respect for the opinions of Mr. Huskisson; but he could quote many of his speeches, showing that in all the concessions to which he was a party, reciprocity was his governing principle, even in cases where he made no absolute stipulation for the purpose of securing that object. If, then, they were determined to adopt this change, for God's sake let them make it conditional on the concession of similar advantages by other countries. They were about to confer on America—our most formidable rival—the facility of free navigation from all parts of Europe, Asia, and America, and to throw open to them the whole colonial and intercolonial trade. What had America to give us in exchange for such concessions? Nothing whatever. There could not be a stronger proof of this than the exultation with which the first announcement of the measure was received in America. In a Washington paper it was said— The importance of such a measure cannot be exaggerated; it will open to our enterprising merchants the lucrative trade of the East and West Indies, and of the other British settlements. The repeal by Great Britain of the laws restricting the trade of the United States with her colonies will be far more beneficial to this country than any commercial treaty ever made by our Government. It might be said, perhaps, that these were the mere assertions of unauthorised persons; but what said Mr. Polk? Mr. Polk said, that the commercial marine of the United States was nearly equal to that of Great Britain, and in a very short time—and he was then only speaking of the increase of trade which he anticipated from the acquisition of California and New Mexico, by opening an immense trade with the East and the Pacific, but without any reference to the repeal of the navigation laws—in a very short time he thought the United States would be, in respect of the number of her ships and seamen, the most powerful nation in the universe. Here was a warning voice from America; and yet the noble Lord and his Colleagues went on recklessly pushing the measure in spite of all the evidence as to the disastrous consequences which must follow, given before their own Committee and that of the House of Lords; and in spite of all the petitions presented against it, and without any complaining party against the laws, except, perhaps, some dissatisfied persons in the colonies. The noble Lord told the deputation which waited upon him the other day not to give themselves the trouble of entering into any arguments on the subject, that it was not a new question, and that the minds of the Government were made up, and that the measure must be proceeded with. Sorry indeed was he to hear that the noble Lord, at a time when a measure had been submitted by the Government to the deliberate consideration of Parliament, should have told those Gentlemen that the Government were resolved to shut their minds against all evidence, and had determined to carry their measure by means of their majority. He regretted that a man of the noble Lord's intelligence and talents should have come to such a determination, but he nevertheless could not help admiring his candour in making the declaration. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford had stated his willingness to go into Committee, as he would then have an opportunity of examining the measure in detail; and, hostile as he (Mr. Robinson) was to it, and determined as he was to do all in his power to throw it out, yet had the mea- sure been framed in accordance with the recommendation contained in Her Majesty's Speech, he would not have joined his right hon. Friend the Member for Stamford in refusing to go into Committee. The recommendation was that Parliament should take into its deliberate consideration the present state of the navigation laws, and the disadvantages under which the commerce of this country was, in some cases, exposed by the operation of those laws, and to make such changes in them as could be effected consistently with the security of the country. He had no objection to that. Whatever disadvantages the present navigation laws imposed on British commerce, which could be removed by any change in those laws consistent with the maintenance of our commercial marine, which, in his opinion, was indispensable to the maintenance of our naval supremacy, he was perfectly willing to consider in Committee. But was that the Bill of the Government? By no means. The measure of the Government was a sweeping abrogation of the navigation laws of this country, the points reserved being unworthy of reservation. As he had already stated, he would rather see a short Bill brought in for the repeal of the navigation laws as respects the long voyage and the colonial and intercolonial trade. The Government evidently had some misgivings, because they had made reservations as to the coasting trade, and gave a discretion to the colonial government as to the opening of the intercolonial trade, which he felt would be a fruitful source of difference between the colonies and the Government at home, and between the colonies themselves. He would ask the hon. Member for Bridport, if, with the exception of 1847, the British shipowner had not had more reason to complain of a want of fair remuneration, than the shippers of goods had that they were suffering under a monopoly? He could only state that, being a shipowner and merchant, he had found it preferable to obtain freights in the vessels of others when he required them, than to employ his own vessels. The question of the colonies had been so ably handled by his right hon. Friend the Member for Stamford, that it was unnecessary for him to occupy the time of the House with any observations on that part of the subject. Should the change proposed, however, be resolved upon, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, in thinking that no discretionary power of the kind proposed should be left with the colonial legislatures. But the noble Lord would not surely argue that there was any proof that the majority of the inhabitants either of Canada or the West Indies were in favour of the repeal of the navigation laws. A portion, and a most respectable portion he was willing to admit, of the people of Canada had applied for repeal—an application, he confessed, entitled to weight, both with the Government and with Parliament. But what did they ask? Not such a Bill as this. They asked that the St. Lawrence might be thrown open to foreign ships for their especial benefit. He remembered reading a speech delivered at one of the meetings alluded to, in which the speaker said, it was not for Canada to offer any opinion as to what effect a repeal of the navigation laws would produce on the British empire at large; all they had to do with the subject was this, that having been deprived of the protection which they formerly enjoyed, they had a right to the use of foreign vessels on the St. Lawrence for their own purposes. That might be a very fair argument for a Canadian, but he felt that he was a Member of the British Parliament, and obliged to look at the question as affecting the whole nation; and believing, as he did, that Canada would derive a very trifling benefit from throwing open the St. Lawrence, and being assured that this country would suffer very considerably by so large a measure of repeal, he felt compelled to resist any such proposition. The hon. Member for Westbury came forward on Friday night in a new character, as the friend of the shipowner, and said he was desirous of repeal for his sake; and adverting to the mass of figures with which he came prepared, expressed fears that the shipowners would ruin themselves, if such extraordinary rises in the price of freight were liable to take place, by overbuilding. He could console the hon. Gentleman with the assurance that shipowners and shipbuilders were not such dolts—they might very safely be left to take care of their own interests in this respect. Would the hon. Member for Bridport deny that at this very moment the rates of freight were so low as to be unremunerative to the shipowner? He was unwilling to weary the House, or he could show in detail that such was the state of things in the trade to South America, Brazil, the West Indies, the North American colonies, the East Indies, and, in short, to every part of the world. Reference had been made to the case of Mr. Gray, a most intelligent man, and a considerable merchant, though not a shipowner, as he believed. It was said that because Mr. Gray, who had a correspondence abroad, thought fit to ship a small quantity of hides in a vessel, and was obliged to carry them to Antwerp to sell, therefore we ought to repeal the navigation laws. That was one argument. Another was, that because some importer of cotton could not bring his goods from Havre to England, therefore we ought to repeal the navigation laws. He knew those laws did impose restrictions on British as well as on foreign commerce; but he contended that they were so rare, and of such unfrequent occurrence, compared with the importance of the navigation laws, as to be not worth mentioning. He must confess, that unless the Government had some stronger arguments than those put forth by the hon. Member for Westbury on Friday last, they were proceeding on very insufficient grounds. He objected not only to the repeal of these laws, but to the manner in which the Government had endeavoured to pass such a measure. It did not require the noble Lord's answer to the deputation from London to show that he had made up his mind, and that the Government had irrevocably committed themselves. From the first moment when he saw the well-known letter from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Mr. Bancroft, he knew the Government would use their influence to pass the measure through the House. What was the use, then, of asking a number of Gentlemen of that House to constitute themselves a Select Committee for the purpose of taking evidence on that important subject; or what was the use of the other House appointing a Committee? He remembered, indeed, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had, at the close of last Session, when asked to wait for the production of the evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Lords, said that it was not necessary to wait for that evidence. What, too, could be a more shameful or disgraceful proceeding—he would not characterise it in milder terms—than to send out, as the Government had done, letters from the Foreign Office to our consuls absolutely asking them, in terms they could not misunderstand, to make as unfavourable a report as they could on the points referred to them, in order that the Government might the better be enabled to carry this measure? This, in conjunc- tion with other things, tended to show the reckless and determined way in which they were resolved to carry the repeal of the navigation laws in spite of every obstacle; and that the Government, having embarked in what was called a free-trade policy, were determined to carry it against every interest in this country. What did the hon. Member for Westbury say last year? He came down to the House with a letter from Pernambuco, stating, that such was the bad character of the British shipmasters in Brazil, that whilst all foreign vessels were obtaining freights, the British ships were lying idle, though it was subsequently shown on his (Mr. Robinson's) side of the House to be an absolute falsehood as regarded the inference drawn; the reason being that the freights offered, though remunerative to the foreigner, were unremunerative to the British shipowner, and the British ships were waiting till the foreigner had gone, in order to get better freights. What had been the result of their free-trade experiments hitherto? Every step taken with such confident predictions of success, had produced a directly contrary tendency. He did not mean to say that all the measures introduced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had been disadvantageous; many of them, he knew, had been necessary, and many advantageous; but he would only say, that thus to expose all the interests of the country to unrestricted foreign competition, whilst we had such a weight of public and local taxation to sustain, while we had an expensive Government, and a heavy national debt to pay, was nothing short of insanity. But there was a class of persons in the country for whose interest, since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, he had invariably stood up, and that was the labouring and operative classes; and he believed, that ever since the great changes that had taken place in the fiscal arrangements of the country, which had withdrawn no light portion of capital from the great interests of the State, and capital which had been employed for the benefit of British labour—he believed it was notorious that ever since then there had been a great increase in the amount of pauperism, crime, and destitution, and that they had paid, and would pay still, more dearly for the experiment they were making. What was the great want of the country? What was the great difficulty of the Government? There were two things which it appeared to him should above all others occupy the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government; and if he would only for a moment pause in his determination to look neither to the right nor the left, but to pursue recklessly the course to which he appeared to be committed, there were two circumstances that ought to induce the noble Lord to pause—namely, the condition of the operative and labouring classes, and the financial state of the country. Now he wished to ask the noble Lord a question relative to the financial condition of the country. Did he suppose that when the navigation laws were repealed, and the shipping interest exposed, as well as all others, to the disadvantageous competition which they would have to sustain with foreign countries—when their profits were reduced, and the capital of the mercantile classes could no longer be employed advantageously—he asked him what would become of the finances of the country, and who was to pay the taxes? It was clear, that if the operatives were not employed, they would confine themselves to mere necessaries, and that they would not consume exciseable articles to any large amount. They would not, therefore, contribute to the taxes of the country, and the consequence would be, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be compelled to find out new sources of taxation. Did the noble Lord know where these were to be found? He had last year tried his hand at an increase of the income and property tax, but he was defeated. He would tell the noble Lord that he believed in his conscience, that if he persevered in his system of free-trade measures, the country would be reduced—he would not say to that position that the national faith would not be maintained, because he believed that there was a sufficient sense of honour in the country, and a sufficient sense of justice, to enable them to fulfil their engagements; but he would tell the noble Lord that there would arise a great struggle between parties, not as to who should pay the taxes, but who should avoid the payment of them. He remembered an observation made by a very old Member of that House, the right hon. Member for Coventry, that the period had at last arrived when the question was to be tried how cheap prices and high taxes were to be reconciled. For his part he did not think that this country could maintain its position with cheap prices and high taxes, unless protection was restored to the agricultural interests; and, unless the mercantile and manufacturing interests were placed in a position to carry on their operations advantageously, he believed that it would be impossible much longer to raise a revenue such as was required by the exigencies of the country. He would make one or two remarks with regard to the American shipping, to which the hon. Member for Westbury had made such pointed allusion. The hon. Gentleman had said, that while the American shipping had increased, the British shipping had increased in a still greater degree. Why had the British shipping increased in a still greater degree? Because we had reserved to ourselves those privileges for British shipping which the present Bill proposed to surrender. It was under the present navigation laws that the British shipping had thus increased. What was the case with regard to America—that country which he did not hesitate to say was seeking to elevate herself at the expense of England? It was impossible not to see that the ambition of that young republic was so great, that it was flattering itself that it would shortly become the arbitress of the world. He believed in his conscience, that if the measure before the House passed, in a short time, in a very few years, it was more than probable that they would have to sustain a most severe and oppressive, audit might be a fruitless, struggle for the maintenance of their North American and their West Indian colonies. He was satisfied that the ultimate aim of the United States was the possession of the entire North American Continent. In fact the measures of the Government had so disgusted the colonies, that in their public meetings now they were discussing whether it would not be better for them to unite themselves to the American republic, than to remain dependencies of this country. He was not quite clear himself whether that would not be the best thing for them to do. Sure he was of this, that, so far as England was concerned, it would be better for her to give them up, than to persevere in their recent ruinous policy. When they had given up their colonial trade, what had they to do with colonies except to maintain expensive governments and a large military force? They were in fact abandoning them, in maintaining the doctrine that their own subjects had no more claim upon them than the citizens of any other country. He contended that the people of those colonies had as much claim upon England as children had upon their father. He found that the Americans, while we were proposing to surrender our intercolonial trade, had a tonnage of 670,000 tons engaged in the British American colonies; while all the other nations, including the British, had only a tonnage of 500,941 tons, so that the Americans had a tonnage of 170,941 tons more than all the other nations put together. What was the case with regard to the West Indies? The number of American ships was 497, while the foreign, including British, was only 308; so that they had double the amount of vessels engaged in the West India trade. The trade with the East Indies was entirely in their own hands. The American tonnage employed in the East Indian trade was 13,683, while the British tonnage was returned as nought, there not being a single British vessel proceeding thence to the United States. They had also almost the whole of the carrying trade between Cuba and the United States. In short, the rapid strides that the United States were making, even under the present navigation laws, convinced him that if they made the proposed surrender to them, in a short time the tonnage of American vessels would considerably exceed that of Great Britain. He was aware that anybody looking at the relative proportions of the navies of the two countries could have no fear in the event of a war, the American navy being inconsiderable compared with theirs; but when it was considered what vast possessions they had to guard, both at home and abroad, which rendered a large naval force indispensable, he thought they had not much to boast of, and that they would ultimately find the American nation the most formidable they had yet encountered. Suppose they were engaged in a war with France and the United States, when the repeal of the navigation laws would give them such decided advantages, he could assure the noble Lord that, although he placed as great reliance as the noble Lord did upon the energy, the power of competition, the zeal, and the perseverance of the British shipowners and merchants, he should be sorry to see this country exposed to such a contest, and he thought it was their duty, by all possible means, to guard against it. With regard to the actual tonnage of the United States, it appeared that it was only 650,000 tons less than that of England, and he would now say just one word upon the naval part of the question. It was impos- sible to pass it over altogether. They had had the evidence of Captain Stirling that a commercial marine was not necessary for the maintenance of their Navy. He believed Captain Stirling was the only officer of his standing who had ventured to make such a statement. They had, on the other side, the evidence of Sir Byam Martin, of Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, of Captain Toup Nicolas, of the hon. and gallant Member for Gloucester, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and of Mr. Browne, the registrar of seamen. All these gentlemen were in direct opposition to Captain Stirling. Now, he would ask the Government, had they taken up the idea that it was practicable to man the Royal Navy in the event of the present measure producing the events that were anticipated from it, without having recourse to impressment? The plan proposed by Captain Stirling was that of Voluntary enlistment. He (Mr. Robinson) wished with all his heart it was practicable, because if it was so it would got rid of the system of impressment, which no one more strongly deprecated than himself, and which was most unjustly ascribed to the regulations of the shipowners, who had no more to do with it than the agricultural interest. But he was told by parties who were likely to be well informed that the plan was not at all to be depended upon in a time of distress or adversity. Captain Stirling proposed that seamen should be voluntarily enlisted; but that would involve an expense which they might be very ill prepared to meet. What would be its effect if this country were engaged in a naval war?—the commercial marine having raised the rates of wages of their seamen, the Government would be obliged to do the same, and probably in a higher proportion. He entreated of them, therefore, independently of commercial considerations, to look at this question as affecting the well-being and the safety of the country. He entreated of the noble Lord and the Government to reconsider the whole question, and he would conclude by thanking the House for the patience with which it had heard him.


said, he looked upon the measure, being almost similar to that brought forward last year, if not with pleasure, at least without the slightest alarm; and he had heard nothing since that period to alter the opinion he had then expressed. He had heard, in the course of the debate, many conflicting opinions, and in the evidence he had read, like most hon. Members of that House, many contradictory statements, and a great many gross exaggerations; but he should content himself with a short statement of the reasons that induced him to vote against the second reading. He must first protest against the statement of the hon. Member for West-bury, that inasmuch as protection with respect to almost all other great interests had been abandoned, the shipping interest had no claim to it. It was the intention of the framers of the navigation laws not to afford any protection for which the public did not receive a compensating advantage. He felt utterly unable to discover whether the President of the Board of Trade did, or did not, give up the idea that the commercial marine was the nursery for the Royal Navy. If he did give up that idea as exploded nonsense, why did he still compel the British shipowners to sail with the British master and a certain proportion of English seamen? If he did retain that idea, and said that the shipowners were to perform still that national service, then, in common fairness and justice, they should be paid for that service. The present measure still required their services, but took away their pay or compensating privileges; and yet it was but a day or two ago that in that House a cheer was given to the assertion that national services should not he home exclusively by any one party. That principle should most certainly hold good with regard to the British shipowner. If he had no other objection against the Bill, he should not, in Parliamentary usage, he justified in voting against it, as he might indulge the hope, although probably it would be a vain one, that the objection might be remedied in Committee. But he had another objection, which was much stronger—namely, that the measure was unaccompanied by any other measures which would give the shipping interest a fair chance or fair play in their competition with other countries. Disguise it as they might, they were about to subject the shipowners of that country to a severe struggle, and he thought they ought to be at least relieved of the burden of lighthouse dues—that the duty should be taken off marine insurances—and that there should be a more complete and satisfactory registration of seamen. He wished also to see the remaining duty upon timber for shipbuilding purposes altogether got rid of. Although those might appear measures of trifling importance, he believed them to be necessary in common fairness and justice. He confessed be did not understand, from the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, how he could reconcile his arguments with the vote he announced his intention of giving; for certainly no two roads proposing to arrive at the same end could differ more than the plan he proposed in the alteration of the navigation laws and that which was now under discussion. Although he (Mr. Clay) did not believe that these laws could produce anything like the injury to trade that the supporters of the present measure alleged, he yet thought that some portions of them might be so altered as to contribute materially to our national strength. He, however, did not think so badly of them as to induce him to part with them on the present terms. He should be glad to see a less hostile spirit actuating the Government in their conduct towards the interest that was so deeply involved in this kind of legislation. Last Session they had introduced a Bill relating to merchant seamen, which they were ultimately obliged to withdraw. It seemed to him that the spirit of that measure was one of a most unfair and hostile character to shipowners. He felt himself obliged to vote against the second reading of this Bill, although he believed the present laws might be amended without any danger to the country, or to the interests involved.


confessed that since he had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, he felt some doubts as to the course he ought to take, because he wholly agreed in the view of the question taken by that right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, announced his intention of voting for the second reading of this Bill. He (Mr. Hornby) could not himself sec how the right hon. Gentleman could express the opinions he had done, and then vote for the second reading of the Bill. It appeared to him that the measure advocated by the right hon. Gentleman was directly opposed to that of Her Majesty's Government. He was glad to hear him confess that notwithstanding the motives that actuated him and the other supporters of the free-trade measures, there had not been a reciprocity manifested on the part of foreign Governments towards this country; and he observed that experience of the past ought to be their guide for the future. On that ground, he (Mr. Hornby) felt that he could not support the proposition before the House. He was sure that the House and the country would be surprised at the different tone of the free-trade party sitting on the Ministerial side of the House, to that of the free-trade party sitting on the opposite side. It appeared that the advocates of free trade had thrown overboard the arguments upon which they based their measure—they now repudiated the principle of reciprocity. That was the sole inducement held out to the House to adopt those measures which had now received the sanction of law. All the free-trade organs put that forward as an irresistible argument, and appealed continually to common sense in relation to this topic. Indeed, their arguments might be called common sense illustrated, for they said, "If we send vessels out with our manufactures, we must expect that other nations will send us back corn in return, and, by preventing them from doing so, we prevent them from buying our manufactures." This argument was difficult to meet, but the result now proved that it was a delusion. The free-trade organs—that with which the hon. Member for Westbury was connected being at their head—had now, however, thrown the argument overboard; they now said—"we do not want reciprocity, go on, push the principle on to its extreme, and it will not be found to answer in the end." He differed from them on that point, for he confessed that it was the only inducement he had to support their free-trade propositions. Representing as he did a large manufacturing interest, he felt particularly called upon to advocate the principle of reciprocity. The hon. Member for Westbury said that the shipping interest had arrived at an enormous state of prosperity, and he took credit for free-trade measures for producing this prosperity; but by his advocacy of the present proposition would seem to argue that the navigation laws must be repealed to lessen their promised prosperity. What also had been promised the manufacturing-population? They were to have increased wages, plenty of work, and bread at half price. But what were the stern realities of the case? They had had bread a little cheaper—though it could never be at half price at any time—but as to increased work and higher wages it was all a fallacy. He saw by a document upon the table that an hon. Member of that House, a freetrader, and the chairman of a great south- ern railway, had recommended to his co-directors to reduce the wages of the people employed on the railway on the ground that living was cheaper. The hon. Member for Westbury now threw over his former arguments of reciprocity. He now said it was a dangerous system—that it could not be depended upon—that it was an objectionable system; and he said, "How prosperous we have been under free trade—how profitable was the enormous importation of corn in 1847—what manufactures were sent out for it, and how much has the shipping increased in consequence!" But before this was conceded to be a prosperous trade, it would be asked, what were the prices paid for corn coming in, and what was received for the manufactures going out? It would be found that there was no profit to the merchant who exported, and certainly none to the manufacturer. But if the 25 or 30 per cent duty which the Americans now levied upon all our manufactures had not been extorted, he thought the hon. Member, or at least the manufacturers themselves, would have admitted that there was something in reciprocity. The people of this country had a right to complain of being taken in. The grounds upon which he had supported the repeal of the corn laws were these: The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had made, in his opinion, an irresistible appeal to the House in regard to the famine in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that he saw 4,000,000 of the people in Ireland depending upon a certain article of food for existence. He, however, saw in the distance the gaunt forms of famine and disease, and under such circumstances he asked whether it was not his duty to use timely precaution? The right hon. Gentleman also held out prospects of reciprocity. He said that the energies of the country, aided by their coal and iron, would defy competition, and their advances in such a course would be the watchword to other States to follow their example. He (Mr. Hornby) confessed that this appeal, ad misericordiam, had induced him to give the right hon. Baronet his vote. He was not quite sure but that those measures had been carried forward with too much haste. He now believed that these free-trade measures had had the effect of depriving the country of everything like reciprocity. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, when speaking last Session upon the subject of Brazil, in alluding to the effect produced by their free- trade measures, admitted the difficulty of effecting treaties on the subject with foreign Powers. The Brazilians had formed such exaggerated notions of the benefits England was to obtain from free trade, that the noble Viscount opposite was unable to make an advantageous commercial treaty with that country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford made a similar admission as to the difficulties that stood in his way when he was in office. They had conceded every thing, and got nothing. The repeal of the navigation laws was now called for in order to render their free-trade system complete. They, however, never heard anything of the navigation laws when they were discussing the measure for the repeal of the corn laws. He, for one, was not disposed to go much further for the present. The petitions that were presented to the House upon this subject were all against the proposition of the Government. The hon. Member for Westbury threw overboard altogether the opinions of these 26,000 petitioners, because they were opposed to the present measure. But if they had expressed themselves in favour of it, they would be considered by the Government as a most important expression of public opinion. He regretted that the opinions of naval men were not more generally taken as to the support given to the Navy by the merchant service. One naval officer, Captain Stirling, was examined before the Committee, and he stated that in respect to two ships with which he had been connected, namely, the Howe and the Indus, there were 102 of the seamen who had been in the merchant service, and 76 who had not been in it. He, however, added that he believed there were not 1,000 men in the Navy who had been in the merchant service, and that neither at present nor prospectively could the merchant service be looked at as a means of supplying the Navy. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but this gallant officer had distinctly contradicted himself when he spoke of the Indus and the Howe. Sir Thomas Byam Martin, who was examined, confidently asserted that to the mercantile service everything was due, and he believed that the Navy could not exist without it. Sir Thomas Cochrane said, that the Navy depended much upon the merchant service. Captain Berkeley, M. P., and one of the Lords of the Admiralty, gave a similar opinion. Lieutenant J. H. Browne, the registrar of seamen, said that the mer- chant service was the surest foundation of our naval power, and he thought that about one-half of the men serving in the Navy were taken from that service. The argument respecting the benefit that would be given to the consumer in the reduced freight of sugar and other articles was easily disposed of. Supposing the freight of a ton of sugar at present was about 3l, the reduction of one-fourth would be the twelfth part of a penny in the pound, which reduction, however small, would not even go into the pockets of the consumer. They could not, therefore, benefit the consumer in this way, nor increase the consumption of the article. They would, in fact, be giving an advantage to the foreign shipper, to the prejudice of their own. If they were so anxious to benefit the consumer of this country, why did they not propose a reduction of the duty upon tea? They said that they could not afford such reduction. Why, then, did they talk of the benefit they were giving to the consumer? Look at the position of this country as regarded China. Why did they not even at some little risk endeavour to increase the demand for their manufactures by removing the duty upon tea? By doing so, they would, no doubt, be giving a great stimulus to this trade. He did not think that much stress could be laid upon the argument of benefiting the consumer. America had sent them an invitation. She invited this country to give this advantage to her shipping, but she declined to pledge herself to reciprocate. In 1842 they had almost an exclusive tariff. In 1846 there was an immense alteration made in it, in the great reduction of duties upon all great articles of consumption. In 1847, the President of the United States, in his Message, congratulated the Assembly on the non-realisation of their fears in regard to our Tariff of 1846; but he objected to go upon the principle of removing duty after duty. On the contrary, he said, "We are prosperous now, and we will let very well alone." What took place in 1848? In that year, Congress had no sooner met than a motion was carried for an instruction to the committee on ways and means to consider the question of the existing tariff, with a view to going back to the system of 1842. He also ridiculed the threats of Prussia of which so much had been made, and asserted that if Lord Palmerston had, like Oliver Cromwell, answered their threats by a notice, that unless they came to his terms he would interdict all Prussian vessels, the Prussian Ambassador would be quickly on his knees begging that no such thing might be done. He must confess he did not see what adequate compensation this country could gain by opening her ports to the ships of Prussia and Belgium, and the northern countries of Europe. Let those countries, in the first place, come forward and say what they are prepared to give us. There was another matter which was intimately bound up with this question—namely, the effect the repeal of the navigation laws would have upon our sailors and shipwrights. In his examination before the Committee, Captain Briggs, an American captain, said that he found no difficulty in obtaining English sailors to serve in the same ship with American sailors at lower wages. The Americans invariably adopted the temperance system, which was a great advantage, and there was little or no difficulty in inducing the English sailors to join them. There were, he added, English captains who made as good voyages out of Liverpool as any American could do, but the Americans had a character for taking better care of their cargoes. The American captains were, however, paid by commission, which was the secret of their quick and successful voyages; and surely the best remedy for these alleged faults would be a trial of the same mode of payment, and the same temperance regulations, and not a sweeping alteration of laws which all our ablest statesmen and writers had declared to be wise and beneficial. It was stated there were combinations amongst our shipwrights; but there were combinations amongst the shipwrights of America also. It was, he thought, unfair thus to attack those persons, and say that on those grounds all protection to the sailors and shipwrights—a class of men to whose skill and courage this country was in a great degree indebted for her safety and wealth—must be swept away. They were entitled to privileges and protection; at all events to fair play. If we are to open our ports to all foreign shipping, let us have some equivalent for the advantages we give by doing so. He had heard no argument in the course of the debate to induce him to vote for the second reading of the Bill. The navigation laws had been in existence for the last 200 years, and during the whole of that period the principle of them had received the approbation and sanction of every writer of eminence and every Minister of distinction in this country; and he thought, therefore, that the present attempt on the part of the Government at once to sweep them away, was fraught with considerable danger. They had been found to operate successfully for the purpose for which they were enacted; and if we were now, in consequence of additional strength, in a position to abandon any portion of the system, let us abandon it upon the principle that we must get some equivalent in return. Let concessions be made pari passu, and do not let us give up for nothing the all-important maritime advantages we possess. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would reconsider the whole subject, and not upon ill-digested notions of economy, or any paltry ideas about £ s. d., risk the greatness, the glory, and the safety of the country.


would not attempt to follow the hon. Member who had just sat down into the curious explanation of the line of policy he had thought proper to adopt with regard to free trade. The hon. Gentleman voted for the total repeal of the corn laws, and now he turned round and said that he advocated free trade upon the principle of reciprocity. There was manifest inconsistency in such a course, because he (Mr. Mitchell) had never heard a free-trader yet state that his doctrine of free trade was founded upon the principle of reciprocity. The hon. Gentleman then proceeded to enlighten them upon several other points. He said that any reduction of freights which might take place if the navigation laws were repealed, would be of no benefit to the consumer. Now that was a fallacy which he (Mr. Mitchell) had hoped was exploded. He certainly did not think that any permanent reduction of freights would take place in consequence of the repeal of the navigation laws; but the slightest reduction could not fail to be beneficially felt by the consumer. Mr. G. F. Young, the great defender of the navigation laws, gave it as his opinion that freight would be reduced 25 per cent if those laws were abolished. Now he (Mr. Mitchell) would take the article of sugar. The freight of sugar from Cuba averaged 3l. 10s. per ton, consequently if they deducted 25 per cent, or 17s. 6d. from that amount, it would make a reduction in the cost of Cuba sugar of five per cent; and if such a reduction took place, it would, doubtless, be followed by larger importations of the article, and the consumer, as well as the importer, must inevitably be benefited. [Mr. HORNBY: How much per pound would the consumer save?] That was not the question. If the cost was at all reduced, it was just as important to those who consumed small quantities as those who consumed large ones, or who traded to the article; and he was surprised to hear such a question asked by a Gentleman representing a large commercial constituency. The hon. Gentleman said—" Wait until the nations of the Baltic toll us what they are prepared to give us as an equivalent for opening our ports." Why those nations have been making concessions to us for years, and they complain—and justly complain—of our unfair treatment of their shipping, especially in the carriage of their own goods. They admit our ships into their ports with our produce, but we will not admit their vessels into our ports with theirs. He quite agreed with the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, and the hon. Member for Hull, that all restrictions with respect to the manning of ships ought to be done away with. It was true that the wages of the seamen of Russia, Sweden, and Norway, were lower than those of ours; but if restrictions were done away with, and we admitted their seamen, the moment those countries felt the drain, they would be obliged to raise their rate of wages. With regard to the duty on timber, he was surprised to hear it brought forward as a matter of grievance. Twenty years ago the late Lord Sydenham brought forward a measure to reduce the duty on Baltic timber, and the shipowners were all up in arms against him, because they had an immense number of ships on hand which were built of timber that cost a high price, and they were afraid of the cheap-built ships beating them out of the market. He was, therefore, surprised that the duty on timber was now set forth as a grievance. He should be inclined to encourage the introduction of foreign oak for shipbuilding by all the means in his power. Since the duty had been taken off mahogany, ships were being built of that wood in this country to a very considerable extent. Although he agreed with some of the views that had been expressed by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, yet he feared that if the right hon. Gentleman's propositions were adopted, they would virtually defeat the object and intention of the measure before the House, inasmuch as his details were complicated, and would be productive, therefore, of great confusion. He (Mr. Mitchell) had always been of opinion that this country should retain the power of placing the same duty on the goods or vessels of foreign countries which foreign countries placed upon our goods and ships, and that power was given by this Bill—that is, it was reserved to the Queen in Council. He implored of the House to consider what they were now asked to do. They were asked to abolish the greatest monopoly that over existed in any country in the world. In the worst of times foreign corn was admitted at some rate of duty; but the navigation laws excluded the vessels of some countries from our ports under all circumstances. It was said, that if those laws were repealed, the cheap shipping of the northern countries of Europe will come in and drive our shipping out of the coasting and Continental trades. He was quite of a contrary opinion. Although the wages of the seamen of Norway and Sweden were lower than the wages of our sailors, and nearly all the materials for shipbuilding in those countries were cheaper than in England, yet they had the worst description of trade of any ships in the world, and were utterly incapable of competing with British shipping. He would next refer to the shipping of the United States, which did in some degree enter into competition with ours. Mr. Mintern stated in his evidence with regard to the cost of building ships in America, that the iron was brought from England, and a duty of 30 per cent was paid upon it; the copper bolts were also brought from this country, and paid a duty of 5 per cent; and a duty of 20 per cent was paid upon the sail-cloths and cordage, which were usually imported from Holland and Russia. The average rate of shipwrights' wages in the United States was 10s. 6d. per day; and the cost of a 7 A ship in that way, exclusive of stores, he put down at 14l. per ton. Now, he (Mr. Mitchell) had been offered—at a time of considerable depression, he admitted—a British-built 12 A ship, at 14l. 10s. per ton; and when the average of the years of rating of the two ships was taken into consideration, the British-built ship would be found to be by far the cheapest. The Americans undoubtedly gave their officers and seamen higher wages than we did in this country. The captain of an American ship received six dollars a month, and 5 per cent on the freight; the mate received 8l. a month, which was 3l a month more than the mate of English ships; and the seamen received fifteen dollars, or about 60s. a month, which was a high rate of wages; but then, to counterbalance that, their ships were not so well manned. The Americans carried only two and a half men to the 100 tons, where we carried five; they took advantage of mechanical aids much faster than the English. Then, again, the captain was not only a well-informed man, but he was generally a part owner—at all events he had an interest in the ship by being paid a primage upon the freight—the consequence was, that he worked about, and the utmost despatch was obtained at both ends of the voyage. Another great advantage was, that in the greater part of the American ships the temperance principle had been adopted. In these respects they beat us; but they enjoyed no other advantage. His firm opinion was, that freights would not decline as a consequence of the passing of the measure; the removal of restrictions would increase the trade of the world, and his opinion was, that until new ships had been built, freights would be higher. Undoubtedly the effect of the Bill becoming law would be to put an end to the great delay and inordinately high rates to which the British merchant was frequently subjected in foreign ports. Last September it was known in this country that we were going to have a bad crop, and orders were instantly sent out to Russia for a supply of corn. It was well known that the mail went out in eighteen days; but it took a ship three months to reach the Black Sea, and as the navigation there closed in November the shipper was obliged to put up with the English ships he found there, and consequently freights rose amazingly. During the last autumn there was a difference of between 30 and 40 per cent between the freight of English and of foreign ships. The passing of the measure would equalise freights—not, he believed, reduce them. His whole dependence in life was upon supplying the raw material for the British shipowner; if that interest suffered he must suffer also, but he believed that neither would by the repeal of the navigation laws. In his opinion, the passing of the measure would do more good than all the Reciprocity Acts which had ever become law.


said, the hon. Member for Oxford University had said that since the passing of the Reciprocity Acts the shipping interest had increased; but that was a statement which was calculated to mis- lead the House, which the right hon. Gentleman had taken from a weekly paper of which the hon. Member for Westbury was the representative. The truth was, that there had been a great increase in the amount of general foreign tonnage. He had been elected in 1841 to destroy the corn laws, and gave his best assistance to that object, because he believed the sliding scale was the greatest curse ever inflicted upon a country. The great fault committed by the hon. Gentlemen opposite was their asking for a law to keep up rents. If they would ask for a law for revenue—if they introduced a law for imposing a moderate fixed duly on corn—it should have his support. It had been said, that now the corn laws had been abolished, the navigation laws must be repealed; but there was a great difference between the corn-grower and the shipbuilder. It was impossible to deprive the producer of corn of the natural protection he enjoyed in the freight and charges incurred upon the importation of corn; but the shipowner had not only to pay the freight and charges, but also the timber duties, which were very heavy. Nothing was ever done to favour the British shipowner. All the sympathy of that House and the country was thrown away upon the foreigner, which he considered not only unfair and unjust, but impolitic. The timber duties and marine insurance must be abolished, and the pilotage and light-dues greatly modified, before they could repeal the navigation laws with safety. Believing the measure would greatly injure the interest upon which his constituents depended, he would give it his decided opposition.


could assure the hon. Member who had just sat down that the agricultural interest had no desire to see, nor would they assist to put any other interest in those difficulties in which they had been involved. They utterly repudiated any argument founded upon the fable of the fox which had lost his tail. The main consideration involved in the measure propounded by Her Majesty's Government had been very little touched upon—viz., the maintenance and supremacy of the maritime power of this country. It appeared to him that all other considerations connected with the measure sank into comparative insignificance before that, which was the vital one. For anything he had yet heard during the debate, and after reading the evidence given before the Committee of the other House, it appeared to him that they were about to place that supremacy—the real power of the country—in jeopardy—that they were about to expose themselves to great danger—that they were about to run incalculable risk—to impair the strength of the country—and all for the sake of conferring upon society a scarcely appreciable benefit. He thought it incumbent upon those who introduced a measure which the proposers of it even charged with being open to such objection, not only to oppose their arguments, but also to dissipate their fears. If the question was to be decided by evidence, he considered it to be already settled. Look at the evidence given by the officers of Her Majesty's Navy. The testimony they had given was above suspicion. The only motive which could actuate them was to maintain the supremacy of that Navy which they had done so much to exalt. The universal tenor of that evidence was in favour of the maintenance of the navigation laws in order to keep up our commercial marine. Look at the evidence of that gallant Admiral Sir Byam Martin, who especially referred to the evil effects which a repeal of the navigation laws would have upon the condition of that very valuable class of men, the shipwrights of England. The gallant Admiral said, if they diverted the trade of shipbuilding to other countries, they would experience great difficulty in finding hands for our dockyards—we would find much difficulty in fitting out our ships even with the aid of the private yards. If they diminished the mercantile marine by their new system of reciprocity, how were they to man the Navy in the case of a sudden emergency? Again, Sir Thomas Cochrane, a gallant Admiral, who had been but lately in service, declared that he had no hesitation in saying that the very best men they got in the Navy were those from the mercantile marine. All that evidence proved they would incur serious risk if they consented to pass such a measure. The noble Marquess the Member for Stamford (the Marquess of Granby), in his admirable speech a few evenings since, had given the House some idea of the ruinous effects to the shipping interests of this country which might be expected to result from the passing of the present measure, when he told them that he knew cases where shipowners had suspended their orders for building ships, in the hope that if the navigation laws were repealed, they could get them constructed in foreign countries at a much smaller cost than in England. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell) the other night recapitulated certain losses which had been incurred by some of his friends under the present laws. He thought the question of loss only a secondary consideration. Losses would be incurred under any state of the law; but the loss to be incurred by the repeal of the navigation laws was as a hundred to one compared with individual loss. No doubt there were hardships suffered under these laws; but the evils could easily be removed without sweeping away the whole system, which would put in jeopardy the dearest interests of the country. The speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford was, like all speeches made by him, well worthy of being listened to, and full of instruction for others. He might say, too, that, as far as that speech went, the system proposed by his right hon. Friend was, when compared with that which emanated from Her Majesty's Government, one far more to be preferred; but saying that, he must also remark that the word "reciprocity" was an excellent one, but still he should like to see, when reciprocity was proposed, that the other party had something to reciprocate; and again, he would not extend the system to any Power, if he thought that in so doing he was likely to endanger the maritime power of this country. Comparing, then, the two systems together, he said that the "reciprocity" was far superior to the "retaliatory" system—the former being that which was proposed by his right hon. Friend, the latter the proposition of the Government. He would, however, entreat of Her Majesty's Government and his right hon. Friend the late Prime Minister, and the hon. Member for Manchester, who had considerable influence in the country, to be content with what they all had done in overloading with difficulties the agricultural and industrial interests of this country—to allow some little interval at least to elapse before they applied their new system to another great interest in this country, and exposed it, as they had exposed others, to a ruinous competition. He had always been ready to acknowledge that his right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth, in what he had done, had no other motive but the promotion of the general prosperity of the country. Sure he was that his right hon. Friend had no idea that by his measures he would have involved the agricultural interest in great distress—he would not say in ruin—because it was impossible to ruin that interest in this country. Still, he said, he intreated of the Government, and still more he intreated his right hon. Friend, who was more powerful than the Government, who was, in fact, the arbiter of the Government, not to go any further with the same description of measures, and not to involve another interest in that distress and in those difficulties which affected interests that had been dealt with in measures proposed by them, and the results of which they had not anticipated.


said, that he, as a shipowner, regretted the intention of the Government in proposing to retain that clause of the navigation laws which compelled British shipowners to have three-fourths of their crews British seamen, because that restriction afforded a peg for the protectionists to hang an argument upon, and to say that protection was taken away from them entirely, whilst it was still given to the mercantile marine. In his opinion, for the practical purposes of the naval and mercantile marine, it was a matter of utter indifference to those branches of employment for seamen, whether the clause was retained or not. The navigation laws always had allowed a British ship's crew to consist of one-fourth foreigners; and where, he should like to know, were the 32,000 foreign seamen who ought, if the fears of the hon. Members opposite were well founded, to have constituted the statutory fourth of the 130,000 seamen habitually employed in navigating British ships? There were not in reality 4,000 foreign seamen engaged in the British mercantile marine, and therefore for any practical purpose the House might just as well pass a law against carrying foreign coals to Newcastle, as enact that not more than one-fourth of the crew of British bottoms should be foreigners. Then, again, as to the results which protection under the navigation laws had had upon the British mercantile marine—what were they, and how had that branch of industry prospered under the protection, as it was called, which it had enjoyed? It was not necessary to look far to discover them. Let the House look at the South Sea whale fisheries. Where was that branch of occupation? It was gone. The Americans had driven the British whalers out of the field. And no wonder. A trade nursed by bounties and cradled in protection, like a ricketty child, was certain to be ruined by the indulgences afforded it. An hon. Gentleman had alluded to Spain. The Spa- niards, twenty-eight years ago, had no navigation laws—they had a respectable merchant marine; but in an evil hour for herself, Spain took up the navigation laws of England, adopted them for herself, and from that hour her merchant tonnage had been diminishing, and now she had little more than half the shipping she had formerly; and as to her noble ships—her galleons—it was not a year ago that he had purchased the very last of the race, and it was now the coal hulk at Gibraltar of the English Navigation Company. Protection had ever been the bane of that which it was intended to cherish. What the British shipowners required was protection against the enormous exactions of the Trinity-house, which, under the pretence of providing for the safety of the coasts, had established a huge system of extortion. The pretext of protection was often turned into tortuous and perplexing channels. The most recent outcry that had been made on behalf of the shipowners was an appeal to the nation to protect the wooden walls of Old England. The House had not very long ago heard the same sort of cry about the British Lion and his drooping tail. But he would take the opportunity of warning the shipowners that such allusions at the best were in very bad taste, when it was attempted to make a stand upon them, and that they might rest assured the public regarded with extreme suspicion and distrust those effusions of patriotism which discovered a latent sympathy towards the breeches pocket of the patriots who uttered them.


complained of the manner in which this measure had been introduced to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade; for, turning round to the body guard that sat behind the Treasury benches, he said that it was impossible for the House, unless it was prepared to recede from the policy it had already adopted, to refuse its assent to this Bill. In so dealing with this question he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman treated them fairly. The measure now before them was not like the repeal of the corn laws; for if England required a greater quantity of corn than its soil could produce, and the law prevented that additional quantity being brought into the country, then so far the English agriculturists might be regarded as monopolists. So, if England required a greater quantity of sugar than their colonies could produce, then, so far as they excluded foreign sugar, the owners of the colonial lands stood in the position of monopolists; but in what sense could it be said that the shipping interest of this country was a monopoly? What was the limit of the capital that might be embarked in it? There was competition between the Tyne and the Humber, between the boats in this river, and those in the Mersey and the Clyde. How, then, could the shipping interest be called a monopoly? But, then it might be said that competition was wanted with foreigners. The navigation laws never forbade it. As to their exports, every foreign vessel was free to carry goods to any place out of this country, except to their colonies. There was nothing to prevent the American ships loading to go to the East Indies. And, then, what was the case in neutral ports? He saw that by the last accounts from Rio de Janeiro there were sixty-three English vessels seeking for freight. There, then, their English vessels came into competition with Americans, Danes, Swedes, Austrians. As regarded their reciprocity trade, had they not, he asked them, admitted into competition with themselves all those who chose to confer the same benefits upon this country which England extended to them? Was it fair, then, to create a prejudice against the shipping interest by declaring it to be a monopoly, as not entering into competition with other nations either at home or abroad? They had not only this competition, but the competition had produced its effect? They had the proof in the testimony of Mr. Josiah Wilson, a Quaker, at Sunderland—a gentleman strongly imbued with the doctrines of free trade. This gentleman was asked if there was not competition at Sunderland. His reply was—yes, there was great competition with foreigners, and that they seized upon all improvements with great avidity, and whenever they saw an improvement in the build of a ship, or in the carrying of sails, they immediately imitated it. What, he asked, would competition do more than that? Some gentlemen seemed to be persuaded that competition was the most desirable of all things. [Cheers from the Ministerial benches.] Then he begged to tell hon. Gentlemen there was a limit to the advantages resulting from competition. Assuming that competition ensured the utmost energy in those embarked in a trade, he believed that if they carried competition beyond that, it was an evil to those against whom it was directed; and if in this instance they carried it beyond that point, then they must of necessity supplant their own vessels with the vessels of foreigners; and so doing, they would effect that which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade last year said he would rather cut off his right hand than accomplish—that is, do anything which might damage the maritime strength of this country. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman cheered him; but he asked what became of his patriotic sentiment when he and those who acted with him were desirous to force competition beyond that point which, stimulating to the utmost the energy of Great Britain, would impair the efficiency of the commercial marine? Having made these preliminary remarks, he now addressed himself to the question before the House, and he asked why they should make so fearful an experiment, involving an enormous amount of capital? They were told that the measure was necessary in justice to the colonies. Last year the West Indies were placed in front of the battle; this year the right hon. Gentleman touched very lightly indeed upon the West Indies, and brought forward the case of Canada. He (Mr. Hildyard) admitted, however, that the Government had long given unequivocal intimations that they were most anxious to get rid of these laws. True, they had succeeded so far as the legislature of Canada was concerned, and had had a memorial presented from it; but he had yet to learn that the policy of this empire was to depend upon the view which the Canadian legislature might happen to take of the navigation laws. If the legislature of Canada chose to say, as respected themselves, "We ask for a relaxation of these laws," and made out a case for so doing, let this House legislate with reference to their grievances, but do not let them be told, because the legislature of Canada condemned the navigation laws, that therefore the Imperial Legislature was bound to defer to their opinions. But what were the reasons given by the legislature of Canada? It was stated that the Americans, by means of their better seaboard and canals, were able to compete successfully with the navigation of the St. Lawrence; and, therefore, the Canadians, through their legislature, asked that the navigation laws should be repealed. They did not state, and they could not state as a fact, for it would not be true, that, owing to the exclusion of foreign competition, vessels were plying at Montreal demanding higher freights than the foreigner, under the monopoly of the navigation laws. That was not what they contended—they contended that competition of another sort was taking vessels up the St. Lawrence; in fact, they had too much competition already, and yet they asked for further competition, as if other vessels would go where those who had the exclusive monopoly could not now obtain a freight. But this was not an argument upon which the House could legislate, even as to Canada, much less with reference to all other colonies. His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell) brought before the House, with great solemnity, the case of a friend of his who had sent Canadian corn to this country in an American vessel; and, as he understood the argument of his hon. Friend, it was matter of complaint that the corn, being brought in an American vessel, could not be entered for consumption in this country. What did this amount to? Why, simply that the hon. Gentleman's correspondent in Liverpool made a blunder of bringing Canadian corn in an American, instead of a British, vessel; and that was the whole grievance. If the gentleman had chosen to put his corn into a British vessel, there would have been no obstacle to its introduction here. Well, so much for the case of Canada. He would now come to the West Indies. Last year, the right hon. Gentleman opposite placed his reliance upon a memorial from the legislature of Jamaica. It appeared, however, that every memorial which emanated from the legislature of Jamaica ought to go through the form of a regular previous inquiry; but the memorial upon which the right hon. Gentleman relied, strong as was its language, turned out not to have passed through that regular course of inquiry. Only a night or two before the legislature broke up, that memorial was hurried through the house without the usual forms, and was immediately despatched home to be relied upon by the Government in support of the present measure. What were the facts to show that it was not the intention of the Jamaica legislature that that memorial should be relied upon as it had been by the right hon. Gentleman? Only three months before there was an inquiry, a very long inquiry, and a memorial was founded upon it. The grievances of Jamaica were stated seriatim by the evidence in that memorial, but not one word did it contain upon the subject of the navigation laws. Nine months afterwards there was a second memorial, founded also on the previous inquiry; and there, again, they enumerated their grievances most minutely, but never mentioned the navigation laws as one of them. He was convinced, however, that if the right hon. Gentleman had known the history of the memorial to which he had referred, as it had been elucidated by the Committee of the House of Lords, he would never have relied upon it here. The evidence given before the Committee of the House of Lords also showed, that as soon as the West Indies were apprised that the relaxation of the navigation laws was not to extend to them alone, but was to be extended generally, they saw at once that instead of being a boon, it would be an evil, because Cuba would gain the benefit of competition upon their heavier freight, and that, consequently, so far from assisting the West Indies, it would be putting their great rivals in a better condition than they would be in themselves. Yet, the House was to be told that in justice to the West Indies they were to repeal the navigation laws! Now, with reference to the long voyage, the House would probably allow him to present to it a view which he did not think had been yet touched upon in this debate. He admitted that it was stated in the evidence, with respect to some of the protective voyages, and copper from Peru was particularly mentioned, that the homeward freight, in consequence of the absence of competition, was sometimes 1l. or 2l. more than if there were competition. This had been contradicted; but assuming it to be the fact, let him ask the House to consider what was the effect of it. He would put the case of a shipowner going to his broker, and asking for a freight. The broker offered him two, one to the coast of Peru, whence he would have a protective voyage homeward; and another to Odessa, whence, on the homeward voyage, he would come into competition with the cheapest-built ships in the world, the Russo-Danish. How would the shipowner entitle himself to the protective freight home—to the 1l. or 2l. upon the copper coming the protective voyage? Why, by taking out a very low freight to Peru. What he would gain in the protective freight home must be compensated for by taking out a freight at a very low rate. What were the goods which would be taken out? Why, goods manufactured in this country. So that it was the manu- facturer practically that would get the benefit of the low freight out. And who was it that would pay the higher rate of freight home? He denied that it would fall upon the consumer; and he might call in aid the arguments of hon. Gentlemen themselves to show that it would not do so. If the consumer paid it, what became of the argument that, in justice to the colonies, they were to introduce competition? Justice to the colonies implied that whatever was saved in freight was to go into the pockets of the colonial landowner. He did not deny, if they laid an excessive duty upon any article of impost, that that to a great extent would fall upon the consumer, because that excessive duty would diminish the supply, and consequently enhance the price; but if the duty were so small as to increase the supply, if it did not increase the demand, the benefit must result to the foreign producer. And here was the error of their recent commercial policy. He believed that moderate import duties on all articles of consumption would, to a great extent, if not altogether, come out of the pocket of the foreign producer, and would not enhance the price to the consumer at all. That, too, though it was digressing from the question before the House, he thought was a growing opinion in the country, and he believed that some such system they must very shortly adopt. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford frankly admitted that protection and not free trade was the only safe principle on which we could deal with the people of America, and that if they got all we could give them, they would give us nothing in return. But had not this country a right to complain of the mode in which the negotiation with the United States had been carried out? The proposition of Mr. Bancroft had been laid before the House with great parade, and it amounted to this, that America would give much, if much were given; little, if little were given; and nothing, if nothing were given. Last year, hon. Members said that we had no assurance that the offer would be carried into effect, if we began by destroying the navigation laws; and it was asked, "Why has not the American Government been told to imitate our example, and proceed, pari passu with ourselves, in passing a Bill through their Legislature? "He did not mean to impute that the vote would not be carried into effect under these circumstances; but what was the state of the case? Suppose the Ambassador of this country made a proposition of this sort, the right hon. Gentleman must know there would be great difficulty experienced in carrying it out. First, to every treaty, two-thirds of the Senate must be a consenting party; but if that treaty went to abrogate the law of the land, they must have the assent of the legislature of the country. Then, he asked the House, did they believe, after the experience they had just had of a severe contest in America, which was based upon the question of free trade, or a protective tariff, and when there was a decided and overwhelming majority in favour of the candidate who professed protective principles, that if this House and Legislature were foolish enough to pass the measure now under discussion, and such a Bill as this were introduced into the Legislature of the United States, that it would not be thrown out? Then they were told of threats of retaliation emanating from the northern States of Europe. But who would believe that Russia, for instance, pre-eminent as she was for the sagacity of her counsels, would adopt any such course as that? She already enjoyed reciprocity, so far as regarded the direct trade, and all she could get, therefore, would be an indirect trade; and who could believe that Russia would be so infatuated as to commence a retaliatory trade with us? Why, no less than 1,500,000 cwt. of tallow was imported into this country from Russia in the last year; and if a system of retaliation were adopted by her, she would reduce to beggary one half of her people, and the empire itself be shaken to its foundation. It was not idle, therefore, but positively mischievous, to suggest threats from those northern States when they had shown no disposition to make them. He came now to the inconsistency in the Bill with reference to the coasting trade, and he thought if there were any chance of America giving to us everything we gave to her, the exception in the Bill on behalf of the coasting trade to the extent to which it was an exception, was most injudicious. First, the right hon. Gentleman frankly said that he did not believe that any foreigner could compete with us in the coasting trade, and that a State so distant as America was the least likely to be able to do so. No doubt the coast of England was a difficult and a dangerous one, and he (Mr. Hildyard) agreed that there was not a chance of America competing with us in that trade. But was the coasting trade of America of no importance to us? It appeared by a very important document that had been submitted to the Legislature of the United States by a committee upon harbours and rivers in the autumn of last year, that no less than eight States were mainly dependent upon the seven great lakes for their commercial intercourse; that the line of coast of these eight States was not less than 3,000 miles; that in 1841 the tonnage upon the seven lakes was 56,000; and that in 1846 it had increased to nearly double that amount—namely, to 106,000. We could not shut our eyes to the fact that America was making the most rapid advances, and that what had happened in the last five years might take place in the next five years, and the increase go on for generations yet to come. Thirty-six years ago 7,000 tons a year were carried on the Mississippi; there were now 550,000 tons; whilst upon the Mississippi and its tributaries fourteen States were dependent for the means of commercial intercourse, and a population of 6,500,000. He had only so far spoken of the lakes and the Mississippi and its tributaries; but the seaboard from Maine to the southward extremity of the Union, was infinitely more valuable still. And he did think, having reference to the increase of that great empire, it was of importance, if concessions were to be made by the Americans, that we should participate in their coasting trade. By the miserable exception made in the measure under consideration, however, even assuming that the Americans were ready to do what we were told they would do, we gave them the opportunity of withdrawing from us that extensive trade. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said he was unwilling to excite unnecessary alarm, but he displayed no apprehensions of exciting alarm when he proposed to throw open the colonial trade and the long-voyage trade to foreign competition. It was of very great importance, if concessions were to be made, that we should participate in the coasting trade of the united States. Yet by the miserable exception which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman, we gave to the Americans the power of withdrawing from us now and prospectively that important coasting trade. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by calling upon the House to pause before, upon such slight evidence as was before them, they pro- ceeded to make one of the most important alterations to which the commercial policy of this country had ever been subjected.


said, the reciprocity of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was of that extreme nature adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford, and was embodied in the maxim put forth to the world before the debate was adjourned the other night. On that occasion, the right hon. Gentleman said, "Hold what you can, and concede what you must." The hon. Gentleman, behoving that Russia could force us to concede nothing, advised us to retain all the prohibitions and restrictions we could, so far as Russia was concerned. He remarked that Russia had no ships, and therefore would be obliged to use ours; that we must not admit the ships of Russia because Russia could not do without us. But he (Mr. Ricardo) was somewhat more surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, after having clearly demonstrated, with the ability with which he demonstrated everything he took in hand, the mischief and inconvenience of the navigation laws, should turn round and say that the abrogation of this mischief and inconvenience should be conditional on the abrogation of them by other nations; that he should acknowledge the impolicy and bad operation of the navigation laws, but refuse to alter them unless other nations consented to do so previously. The right hon. Gentleman, in allusion to something that had fallen from the hon. Member for Westbury, remarked that shipping was not to be guided by the same rules as other commodities. He (Mr. Ricardo) could not see any difference. The right hon. Gentleman had supported the commercial policy of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth with respect to the repeal of the corn laws, and the admission of foreign sugar; and he (Mr. Ricardo) could not understand upon what principle the right hon. Gentleman hesitated to advocate a similar measure on the present occasion. If the right hon. Gentleman supported the former measures without any guarantee of reciprocity from other countries, why refuse to do the same in the case of shipping? But the right hon. Gentleman surprised him the more, because he based his whole argument for free trade on the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth, namely, that it was advisable for this country to buy cheaply whether other countries choose to buy cheaply or no, this being a question as to whether it was advisable to carry cheaply or no. When the House went into Committee, he (Mr. Ricardo) should thon take an opportunity of discussing the points raised with respect to the coasting trade. He had watched this debate very closely, and had been surprised to find that no new argument had been brought forward; all the old fallacies about the cheapness of foreign ships had been disinterred. In spite of the answer which had been given over and over again to hon. Gentlemen, they would persist in saying that an American ship was built cheaper than an English ship. We had every element of shipbuilding cheaper than the Americans; iron, copper, timber, sail-cloth, and wages, one-third cheaper than in the United States; and it was a matter of mathematical demonstration that with every article which constituted a ship cheaper, the ship itself must be more economically constructed. It might be recollected that a Committee was moved for in another place, on the pretext that the Committee of the House of Commons had not impartially considered the subject, and, accordingly, in the House of Lords, they undertook to throw fresh light on the subject, and teach how a Committee ought to inquire and how it ought to be impartially conducted. The first six witnesses gave extraordinary evidence. Mr. Bosanquet, a West India merchant, and shipowner also, said that he was not read in the navigation laws; he was not acquainted with the effect they would have on the local interest of the West Indies. Mr. Ellis, a merchant and shipowner, was asked if he had ever considered the navigation laws, and he said he had not; he could not answer the question whether an English ship could go to the United States, and thence to the West Indies, with an American cargo. Then came Mr. Davis, a shipowner, who, on being asked whether he had considered the way in which trade had been affected by the navigation laws, said he had never particularly attended to it; and Mr. Gower, a merchant and shipowner, said that he had never heard of the navigation laws until lately. In fact, they gave the Committee no information whatever. It was argued, however, that because those Gentlemen were ignorant of the mischief of those laws, therefore they ought not to be repealed. As well might it be argued that because a New Zealand chieftain was content to go stark naked and feed on human flesh, therefore we ought not to confer on him the blessings of civilisation. His ignorance would be no proof whatever that he was in the condition in which he ought to be. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) had not done justice to what had fallen from him (Mr. Ricardo) on this subject; he had not said that the mercantile marine of this country was of no importance as regarded the defence of the country in time of war. There never was a monopoly in this world that did not find some advocate to proclaim that it was the mainstay of the constitution. On the question of the corn laws they had heard of the necessity of maintaining protection in order to preserve the hardy yeomanry of this country, whose ancestors had fought for and made England what it was. Corn monopoly, it was said, could alone keep up that worthy race. When the sugar question was brought forward, it was asserted that our colonies were our great mainstay in time of war, and that if they were deprived of protection in the sale of their sugar, they would not be in a position in times of difficulty to render us any assistance. And now, when this question of the navigation laws was brought under their consideration, the shipping interest came forward with the suspicious plea that the proper maintenance of our maritime defences demanded the continuance of the monopoly of the present system. He contended that our mercantile marine did not depend upon Acts of Parliament for its maintenance or prosperity; and that it was our insular position, our wants and habits, which had made us pre-eminent as a naval Power. This country was favoured with all the elements necessary for shipbuilding, and her population was naturally seafaring. If the prosperity of a mercantile marine depended upon Acts of Parliament, how was it that France and Spain, with their navigation laws far more stringent than any laws that we had, were not famed above England for their mercantile marine? Hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House had quoted the evidence of Sir Byam Martin, a very eminent officer, on this question; and what he (Mr. Ricardo) had to say in reference to that gentleman's evidence might, perhaps, shock another of the superstitions of hon. Gentlemen opposite on this subject. His opinion was, that, on questions of this nature, officers of the Royal Navy were not the best qualified parties to give an opinion. He had never met with an admiral or officer who did not hold that our fleet and army were not large enough, and that they ought to be increased if the country was to be saved from destruction. He admitted, however, that the evidence of Sir Byam Martin and other naval officers was well worthy of attentive perusal, and that much knowledge of subjects of the greatest importance might be obtained from the perusal thereof. Amongst other facts, Sir Byam Martin stated, that when he served under Lord Hood and Lord Howe they experienced great difficulty in manning the fleet, and that the difficulty at one time was so great that they were positively obliged to send to Malta to endeavour to obtain Maltese seamen. He also stated, that, subsequently, when they endeavoured in England to man the fleet by means of pressing, in which they did not succeed, they gave as much as 12l. 12s. bounty money for able seamen, and 10l. 10s. for ordinary seamen, and 6l. 6s. for boys. In some cases as much as 31l. 10s. was given as bounty for able seamen, and yet this was the result of 200 years' continuance of the navigation laws, enacted for the purpose which they utterly failed to accomplish. The whole system of pressing men was had. It was certainly very strange to hear some hon. Gentlemen express their alarm upon hearing of an intention to abolish the pressing system. But was there any Gentleman in his senses who believed that it was possible to have recourse again to the system of pressing men into the service of the Royal Navy? Did any body believe that there were not in that, the reformed Parliament, enough of Members ready to stand up and protest against that system? They might as well go into the factories of this country and press for soldiers as press men into the Royal Navy from the service of the mercantile marine. They had no right to rob a seaman of his own property—the property in himself; and he believed that they would never again be able to inflict upon seamen such cruelties and tyrannies as they had heretofore inflicted upon that class when attempting to recruit the strength of the Royal Navy. Their mercantile marine was of no use to them whatever, with respect to supplying men for the Royal Navy, unless they took them by force. If they would pay for men, they would get them; but if they would not pay for them, they had no right to obtain their aid ex- cept by means of moral force. And, however much hon. Gentlemen opposite might contend for the present system, he maintained that some such plan as that detailed by Sir James Stirling and Lieutenant. J. H. Brown, in their evidence before the Committee, must be adopted for the manning of the Royal Navy. But how had the present system encouraged the mercantile marine in time of peace? The evidence of Captain Toup Nicolas, an officer in the Royal Navy, stated, that a few years ago he was coming from China to Valparaiso, on his way home; that he put in at Hobart Town, where he heard that it was likely that there would be some disturbance with the French at Tahiti, upon which he determined to go there. Having but an inefficient ship's company, he induced about 100 of the men to become colonists at Hobart Town, with the consent of the Governor. Accordingly, those men became colonists; and, in order to replace those 100 inefficient men, he took 100 able seamen from the merchant ships lying in the ports of Hobart Town and Sydney. That was the way in which the navigation laws encouraged the mercantile marine of this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford and other hon. Gentlemen who had taken part in this debate, had taunted the advocates of this measure with the assertion that there was no feeling manifested in the country on this question. They had stated that there was no excitement in the country in favour of the repeal of the navigation laws; and they pointed with singular complacency to the petitions which were upon the table in favour of the present system. Now, he thought that a reproach of that sort came with a very bad grace from that (the Opposition) side of the House. He recollected the time when the advocates of free trade were reproached with having appealed to the feelings and passions of the people, in preference to coming to that House for the purpose of calmly deliberating upon the question. He had been most anxious that there should be no agitation upon this subject. It would have been an easy thing indeed for the advocates of this measure to have gone into the seaport towns and have shown the sailors how they were, perhaps, the most ill-used and ill-treated of the working classes of this country; how they were starved to minister to the opulence of others; how a contract had been made between the shipowners and the State by which the shipowners had agreed that, in considera- tion of the monopoly afforded to them by the State, the Royal Navy might be at liberty to press their sailors in times of war. He thought they might have shown the sailors that they were the victims of such an arrangement; and he did not think that it would have been difficult for the advocates of this measure to have proved their case from the reports of consuls which had been laid before the House. Then it would have been very easy for them to have gone to the manufacturing towns and have shown the working classes that the greatest component part in the cost of every article of luxury of the poor man was the cost of freight, and that the price of all his luxuries was enhanced by this monopoly of the shipowners. If they had acted thus they might have been able to lay upon the table of the House petitions signed, not by thousands merely, but by tens of thousands. He thought, however, that the reproach that they had not set the employed against the employer on this question of monopoly, came with a bad grace from the hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House. There was only one other subject to which he should call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford, and that was with regard to the threat which had fallen from him. He (Mr. Ricardo) was certainly very much astonished when he heard that right hon. Member, the leader of a great party, declare that whatever might be the decision of that House—whatever might be the majority by which this measure might be adopted in that House—he congratulated himself that the Bill would be thrown out by the House of Lords. [Mr. HERRIES denied having so expressed himself.] He was delighted to find that he had misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman; but, of course, if he disavowed the expression, he (Mr. Ricardo) had no more to say upon the subject; but, at all events, the hon. Member for Poole had said it; and he must say, it was an extraordinary remark to make. He admitted that there were many points connected with this measure which might be fairly discussed when the Bill was in Committee. He agreed with hon. Gentlemen opposite on the point they had raised about an arrangement being made for freeing the shipowners from many of the burdens that had been imposed upon them. Above all things, he agreed with hon. Gentlemen opposite in thinking that the retaliatory clause could not possibly be maintained; and he agreed with hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House that the reciprocity system that had been proposed was equally untenable.


Sir, it is not my intention to trouble the House at any length on the present occasion. I expressed, last year, my strong objections to a measure so entirely at variance with the former policy of this country, and I have heard nothing since which induces me in the slightest degree to change the opinion I then entertained of its dangerous tendency; if I had still any remaining doubts, they would have been dispelled by the brilliant and eloquent speech of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, who, although unable to convince himself, has furnished us with most excellent arguments against the measure he intends to support. But, Sir, experience is worth a thousand theories; and the lapse of another year has shown us still more clearly the results of a similar experiment, tried on our West Indian colonies: the reasons alleged, and the language held, were precisely alike in both cases. I will not, again, read the sanguine predictions hazarded by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but any Gentleman who will refer to the debate may see that all the misfortunes of our West Indian merchants were attributed to the absence of competition; and the most confident expectations were expressed, that the moment this new stimulant was applied, they would start from their lethargy and outstrip all their competitors. Alas, Sir! what has been the result of this new-fashioned practice? The medicine has, it is true, been administered in its full and potent strength; but what is the present state of the patient? Let those who are acquainted with the sufferings, and apparently irretrievable ruin of all our sugar colonies (and Her Majesty's Government cannot be wholly ignorant of them) answer this question. And now, Sir, let us pause for a moment, to ask what were our motives for that great and sudden change? We imagined, I apprehend, that we should obtain a very considerable increase of commerce and revenue, and particularly some favourable treaty with Brazil, by abolishing our differential duties, and admitting slave-grown sugar on equal terms with our own. Are not these (although on a larger and more extended scale) precisely the objects alleged in support of the proposition we are now discussing; and is it not therefore in the highest degree important and interesting to examine what have been the consequences of our former experiment? We have totally failed in all our attempts to obtain any commercial advantages from Brazil; and, what is much worse, as being injurious and discreditable to our national character, we have led other countries to believe that we are always ready to sacrifice our principles to our interests, and that all our professions with respect to the abolition of the slave trade, proved unworthy of credit, when they came into competition with any supposed pecuniary advantage; and, as always happens in such cases, we have increased our difficulties, without obtaining any corresponding advantage. We have given a stimulus to the slave trade by the admission of Brazilian sugar, which neutralises all our efforts for its suppression; and the nation is becoming discontented and impatient at the unsatisfactory result of this heavy expense. If such have been already the consequences of our first deviation from our former principles and policy, have I not just cause to deprecate a second and still more important step taken in the same direction? We have been hitherto proud, and justly proud, of our ships, our colonies, and our commerce—of our maritime strength and superiority, our widely extended possessions, and the lucrative trade which they enabled us to carry on with every quarter of the globe; but now, it appears, that these are all vulgar and antiquated prejudices—that our ships are useless lumber—that we have too many already, and ought not to build any more—that our colonies are expensive and unnecessary incumbrances—and that our commerce would prosper much more if, like our West Indian settlements, it was subjected to the stimulating process of foreign competition. This is the language of the Manchester school, and of those amateur statesmen for whose amusement and instruction these experiments are to be tried. But, Sir, is the country disposed to submit patiently to these operations? Has it sufficient confidence in these new doctors and their doctrines, to place its vital interests in their hands? Do not the numerous petitions presented from every seaport town, and from all classes of individuals concerned in our mercantile marine, prove strongly the alarm and disapprobation already excited; and can it be wise or prudent at such a moment as the present, to throw another great branch of the community into a state of consternation and anxiety? Sir, if any of our colonies, and particularly Canada, consider that in consequence of the change of circumstances any relaxation of the navigation laws would be advantageous to their interests, I am perfectly ready to assent to any local measure which, after careful examination, may be found advisable, and for which an Order in Council is not already amply sufficient; but we must first ascertain what the wishes of the great majority of the community really are, and see that we are not legislating for one class of the inhabitants to the injury of the remainder; and we shall thus be enabled to see the effect of these partial alterations before we venture on any sweeping and general changes. I will not detain the House many minutes with my concluding remarks on the naval part of the question. I can only repeat what I said last year, that our military and mercantile marines are inseparably and indissolubly united—that they must stand or fall together; and that any material diminution in the number of British seamen will infallibly place our maritime superiority in jeopardy, and produce national misfortunes and calamities of which the present generation, nurtured as they have been in peace and prosperity, can form but a very faint and imperfect idea. The supply of seamen in this country so little exceeds the demand for them, that in 1845, when it became necessary to fit out a small additional force, it took six months to man six sail of the line; and this fact, which came under my own official knowledge and observation, will, I hope, prove to all true friends to their country what risks we may run by tampering ignorantly or injudiciously with our national defences. Sir, as all the supporters of this measure, who last year appealed so triumphantly to Sir J. Stirling's evidence as decisive in their favour, have on the present occasion cautiously abstained from mentioning his name, I will not unnecessarily introduce it; but it is impossible to avoid remarking on the want of fairness and candour which was manifested by those who called him as their only naval witness, and carefully avoided asking a second opinion. I turn with pride and pleasure to that of Sir Byam Martin, an officer justly admired and looked up to by his profession; whose opinions merit the respectful attention of this House and the country; and whose relation of the dangers and difficulties which—under the system we are now endeavouring to subvert—were so successfully overcome, should be read with the deepest interest by all those on whom the nation now relies for its safety and protection, and who will incur an awful responsibility if they meddle rashly with those great bulwarks on which we have hitherto relied in the hour of danger.


said, it would be gratifying to at least one Member of the House, if he promised the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke, that he would not use any of those arguments which he had described as having been disinterred from past debates. He would rather take the liberty of examining into the truth of the position, whether the naval and military officers of this country were men whose opinions were not to be attended to, on points where the honour and safety of the empire were at stake. Before he proceeded, however, to that part of the subject, he must say that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford taunted the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) and his Colleagues, with entertaining a difference of opinion on this question, it would have been as well for him to have remembered that he (Mr. Gladstone) himself had that night argued on one side, and intended to vote on the other. He believed also, without meaning to cast blame where none ought to be cast, with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke, that much of the discussion had turned not upon the principle but upon the details of the measure. But he must further say, there was a reasonable excuse for that, inasmuch as the principle of the Bill was nowhere to be found in it. In its very first words it professed to be a Bill to amend a certain thing; and the way in which they proposed the emendation was, in the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, by abrogation. Now, really, abrogation was one of the most extraordinary means of amelioration that he had ever heard of. This measure proceeded, at one sweep, to got rid of no less than eighteen statutes. Those statutes might be right or wrong; but, without entering into that question, he would say, that this wholesale proceeding was no way to treat them. The principle of the Bill was this: In all past times the object of every statesman, whatever opinions he might have held, had been to prevent capital from going out of this country, on the ground that if the capital went out of the country, the labour of the country would not be employed. The object of this Bill, however, was most ingeniously to keep the capital in the country; yet still not to employ the labour of the country, but to employ the labour of other countries. He had heard of a Satanic school of poetry—but if ever there were a Satanic school of politics, it was that which was now in vogue. It was a remarkable phenomenon in these days, that it was the fate of every statesman, no matter to what party he belonged, or from what side of the House he might come, to be doomed, on whatever question that was brought forward, to go against every principle he had previously defended, and to take the opposite side of every view that he had before maintained. So that if those who maintained the opposite view felt at a loss for arguments, they had only to refer back to former debates on the question—they had only to appeal from the drunken Philip of to-day to the sober Philip of ten years ago. They would find the best answer to the speech of the Earl Grey of the present time was to be found in some speech of Lord He wick not a long time back. They had been for some time past under an evil genius. As had been eloquently described by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, it would appear as if there were fates presiding, from which no Minister could liberate himself; while, as for the House, there would appear to sit a sort of myth over them which rendered them passive and helpless, while every successive Chancellor of the Exchequer pecked away at their livers ad libitum. But they should still recollect that there was such a thing as rushing on to a dangerous extent. They had already committed themselves too far; and here he begged to say, that he was not speaking of Her Majesty's present Government, or of any particular Government, but of all those who had advised the counsels of that House for years past. The part of the speech of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford that he had most closely attended to, was that in which the right hon. Gentleman had told them to look to the experience of the past. But the especial error of the school under whose guidance the country now was, was that they did not recognise any past experience, or attach weight to any past opinion. He was not going to quote many authorities, which he might do, but he would refer to the authority of the most celebrated statesman of antiquity, who said— There is in maritime States a corruption and instability of morals, for they import not only merchandise, but morals; so that nothing can remain entire in the institutions of their country. And he added that— The vagrancy and dissipation of the citizens proceeded from their over-greediness in trade and navigation, which induced them to relinquish the cultivation of their lands. He might quote the opinions of Lord Chatham and of Mr. Canning to a similar effect; and of late days they had an eminent writer, who, in his work on Germany, speaking of Frankfort, said, that— In consequence of her commercial relations, she was so thoroughly under foreign influence, and so polluted by a mixture of all foreign manners, that her population could be hardly said to have a character of their own. What had fitted them to be citizens of the world had unfitted them to be citizens of the country to which they belonged, for "they judged of the happiness of mankind by the rate of exchange." Now, all that was applicable to the Manchester school. The grand fault of these gentlemen was, that they could not form a conception how anything which was not good for cotton spinning could be good for anything else. But," (said the same writer) "let no one blame them for forgetting, in the pursuits of the money speculator and merchant, the interest of their country, or at least before doing so, let him visit the ports of London, Liverpool, or Bristol, and discover—if he can—a purer foundation for English patriotism. But he had one more authority for hon. Gentlemen opposite—their darling Adam Smith. The only quarrel he (Mr. Drummond) had with hon. Gentlemen with respect to Adam Smith was, that they never would read beyond one page of him. Let them attend to this:— As their (the manufacturers') thoughts, however, are commonly exercised rather about the interests of their particular branch of business than about that of society, their judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not been on every occasion) is much more to be depended upon on the former than on the latter. The interest of the dealers in any particular branch of trade or manufacture is always in some respects different from or even opposite to that of the public. And yet it was by men who were actuated by such interested motives that the House was now guided. The manufacturer sent out to Africa for cotton. He employed African labourers in its cultivation, he brought it home in an American ship, he spun it into yarn by his machinery, and then sent it in a French vessel to be exchanged for French cloth, or silks, or other articles of French manufacture. So that the whole process was gone through without the employment of perhaps a single English labourer. The poet, in the wildness of his enthusiasm, asked— Lives there a man with soul so dead Who never to himself has said, This is my own, my native land? Yes, at Manchester there were a thousand of them. Not content with bringing accusations against the English sailors—not content with slighting the opinions of their officers—they now said that this country had a superstitious reverence for the Navy. He would not deny but that they might have such a feeling, for there was a time when they had a national faith—there was a time when they venerated—worshipped, if they would, for he was not ashamed of the word—the statesmen who guided safely the destinies of the country—when they reverenced the magistrates who presided over the administration of their laws—when they gloried in the soldiers and the sailors who maintained the greatness of the nation throughout the world—when the noblest credo that they had was "Rule Britannia!" and when the finest anthem in their ritual was "God save the Queen!"


said, that he was not at all disposed to give his support to this measure on the grounds which the hon. Gentleman imputed to that (the Ministerial) side of the House. On the contrary, if he were not able to argue the necessity of the measure on British grounds alone—if he were not able to prove that it would tend to the promotion of British interests, and especially of that great branch of their trade that was more immediately concerned—the British mercantile marine—that even were the most solemn reasons urged in its favour, he should not give it his support on any other grounds. He had so often and so recently addressed the House on this question, that it was, he assured them, with sincere reluctance that he again trespassed on their time, especially at that late hour; but so many references had been made to him during the discussion, that he knew the House would for a short time extend to him that indulgence which the necessity of discharging his public duty alone induced him to ask for. He should confine himself as much as possible to the principle of the measure, avoiding those details that might be more properly considered in Committee. The question before the House was, he conceived, simply the principle of the present Bill; and that principle, he apprehended, was the virtual abandonment of the system of restriction as applied to the navigation of this country. The magnitude of that question he had never attempted to conceal; but he thought that he had a right to ask for the vote of every hon. Gentleman who thought that that principle ought to be adopted, no matter how they might differ as to the details. Many of these details were undoubtedly of great importance, such as those relating to the manning of ships, and the registry of ships; and each of those questions would, he hoped, receive, as they deserved, the most attentive consideration when the Bill got into Committee. Though he had, in connexion with his Colleagues, given the greatest attention and consideration to these details, still he had not the presumption to suppose that in the discussion upon them in Committee, many important alterations and amendments might not be introduced; and while he adhered to the principle of the Bill—the abrogation of the system of restriction—he felt that he was at the same time justified in expressing his willingness to receive any suggestions that might be offered with regard to the details. The consideration of this principle necessarily brought him to the question of what were the main restrictions imposed by the present navigation laws; or, to adopt a phrase which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford had rendered familiar to the House, what were the fundamental principles on which the navigation laws were based. He had always adhered to the opinion that these restrictions were mainly of three kinds—namely, those that applied to the colonial trade, the restrictions adopted in order to secure the carrying trade, and those intended to secure the long-voyage trade. The more that he considered this subject, the more was he satisfied that the time had arrived when, for the sake of the general interests of this country, and, above all, for the sake of the commercial interest itself, it became absolutely necessary that they should sift these principles, not merely with a view to their modification, but to their entire abrogation. Commencing with the colonial interests, he had to express, in common with other hon. Members, his great astonishment at the slighting manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford had treated the appeals that had been made to them from all parts of their colonial possessions for a relaxation of these laws. It was not surprising, à priori, that these appeals should be made after the House had already abolished the protection that the colonies had formerly enjoyed. The right hon. Gentleman had made very light of the case of Canada, and had overlooked the fact of which he had been reminded, that in no single instance was there found a person petitioning for the continuance of the navigation laws, without the addition of a prayer for the restoration of the old system of protection. The right hon. Gentleman also passed over altogether the important consideration that the legislature of Canada had, by a majority of forty-nine to fourteen, in the most urgent terms, impressed on this country the necessity of departing from the principle of the navigation laws; and, be it observed, that the fourteen dissentients did not ask for a retention of the navigation laws alone, but for such retention coupled with a restoration of the system of protection. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that the object of the colonists could be attained by making Montreal a free port, and he had quoted a despatch from the Earl of Elgin in support of that view. But the right hon. Gentleman altogether forbore alluding to the circumstances under which the Earl of Elgin had made that assertion. Lord Elgin's despatch was writ-ton at p. time when the navigation laws were suspended, and when the ships of all nations were allowed to proceed from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to this country. The only difficulty that remained was with regard to the transit from Montreal to the mouth of the river, and Lord Elgin was quite right in maintaining that this remaining difficulty would be removed by making Montreal a free port. But the moment the main grievance was restored, that arrangement would at once become insufficient. [Mr. HERMES: Read the last part of the despatch, and you will see that this is not Lord Elgin's opinion.] He had been referring to a preceding portion of the despatch, where the question of making Montreal a free port was distinctly alluded to. The right hon. Gentleman had next adverted to the case of the West Indies. Now, there was a name among the governors of the West India Islands that he had often heard quoted with great respect by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he believed it would be impossible to mention that name in higher terms than it deserved—he alluded to Lord Harris, whose sagacity and intelligence hon. Gentlemen had so often referred to. But it happened that no colonial governor had impressed on Her Majesty's Government oftener or more strongly than Lord Harris the necessity of abrogating the navigation laws. The House would recollect the manner in which Lord Harris had entered upon this subject in his despatches laid before Parliament last Session; and within the last few days another despatch had been received from him, but so recently that it could not yet be laid before the House, in which he stated that it was of the utmost importance to Trinidad to have a direct communication with the Spanish Main—that the chief harbour or port of Spain was exceedingly well suited to what he called the nucleus of the shipping of Trinidad—that a company had been established to carry on a connexion by means of steam vessels between that port and the main land, but that the vessels, although sailing under the Mexican flag, were notoriously and manifestly American-built vessels, and that it would be of the utmost consequence to Trinidad if he could hold out encouragement to that company, which he could not do as long as the navigation laws were continued. Such a matter as this might be of small importance, but it was by the total amount of these trifling matters that they were to judge of the injurious effects of the restrictions which existed, and which prevented the colonies from availing themselves of those commercial advantages which many of them possessed in so eminent a degree. It was quite true that from some of their colonies in the eastern hemisphere there had been no great amount of complaint as yet; but when the House recollected the vast interest which Australia and New Zealand had in having low freights, from the bulky nature of their principal exports, such as minerals, corn, and wool, they could not doubt but that complaints would come at no distant period from these colonies also, if the present restrictions were continued. With regard to the other two branches of restrictions, those by which they endeavoured to secure the carrying trade and the long-voyage trade, he should occupy the House but for a very few moments. He thought it was too much taken for granted by hon. Gentlemen opposite that this country was a free agent to adopt any course that it pleased—that other nations would not retaliate—and that they might very well remain as they were. But there was no Gentleman who had looked through the correspondence with foreign States which had been laid on the table of the House, but must see that this was a complete delusion; that foreign nations would not long consent to treat with this country upon such unequal terms. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to think nothing of the shipping of such countries as Russia and Austria. One hon. Gentleman said that such was the interest of Russia to secure the shipping of England, that their Government would not dare to retaliate by laying restrictions upon our mercantile marine. But he believed it was very unsafe to indulge in such reasoning. He believed that nations, like individuals, were acted upon through their passions and their sentiments, as well as through their self-interest; and therefore it was not safe for them, relying upon the power of their mercantile marine, and the value of their ships to Russia, to hold such language to that country or Austria. But above all things he had heard the language of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford with great astonishment. He had referred to the case of Belgium, and pronounced a glowing eulogium upon the Government, because it did that which was the duty of a government—protected its own subjects, and refused to deal with this country on terms which were supposed to put its own subjects to disadvantage. But if the advice of the right hon. Gentleman were taken—if other countries were to follow this example which Belgium had set—what would become of the long voyage and of the carrying trade? With regard to the long voyage, he was ready to acknowledge that it was for the interest of a country like England to fetch the important articles which were the produce of Asia or America from their original sources; and that, therefore, the clause in the measure relating to this question would be nearly inoperative, because in nineteen cases out of twenty an English ship would not go to Havre for cotton, but Charleston; neither would they go to Hamburgh for sugar, but to Cuba or Jamaica. But admitting this to be so, what was the use of the present enactment? And be it observed, that a twentieth case would every now and then occur, when it might be worth the while of an English ship to go to a European port for these articles, instead of going on the long voyage. Occasional and special circumstances would continually arise when it would be worth the while of an English ship to go to a European port for wool or for cochineal. And let the House observe how, if this course were imitated by foreign countries, it would militate against our interest. It was certainly for the interest of this country that foreign ships should come to London, or Liverpool, or Hull, for American or Asiatic produce, instead of going to the original sources of supply; and yet by the present system they were depriving Great Britain—if her example should be imitated—of the advantage of becoming the depôt of the world, without conferring upon her any countervailing advantage whatever. Of all the evils which hon. Gentlemen had conjured up as likely to result from this Bill, he believed that the most baseless and unfounded was the fear that the shipbuilding interest would suffer. He believed, that if they could not build ships in this country, they could not succeed in any enterprise whatever. It would be far more easy to prove that this country was not capable of manufacturing cotton, so as to compete with other countries, than that England could not engage in the most open competition in the trade of shipbuilding. Many topics might be resorted to to make out an à priori argument against the cotton manufactures. The customs duty on timber, the excise duty on bricks that were required for the building, the necessity of importing the raw material from another part of the world—all these topics, if the actual case did not suggest an answer, might be adduced to show that England could not compete with America in the manufacture of cotton. But with regard to shipbuilding, he could not imagine any ground for apprehension. They had in this country the greatest stores of timber of any country in the world. He believed that, with regard to the increase of cost on the building of ships caused by customs duties, there was no country in the world which was so well off as England. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford had pressed the Government to remit the timber duties, with a view to place the shipbuilder in a position that would enable him freely to compete with the foreigner. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he would be as glad as he could be to see the timber duties wholly repealed. He believed that such a measure would be useful, not to the shipping interest alone, but to the community at large. But he would say, that if the Government were unwilling in the present condition of the revenue to give up this portion of the customs duties, that formed no ground whatever for the post- ponement or delay, much less for the defeat of this measure. He had stated on a former occasion the cost of iron in Prussia. He had since looked more narrowly into the question, and he found that a commercial deputation lately met at Frankfort, where it was stated, that in the case of a Prussian ship built at Stettin, the duty on the iron employed in her construction augmented the cost of building the ship 9 per cent. Now, compare this with the customs duties on timber in this country, which were estimated by Mr. Wigram at not more than 3s. 6d. per ton. He did not wish to go into the details of the present measure; at the same time some things had been said in the course of the debate which he felt it would be hardly respectful to those who made the suggestions, or to the House, if he passed them over altogether in silence. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, though he had gone generally in support of the Bill, and had expressed an intention to vote for the second reading, stated, that he took a different view from the Government upon one important question. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that the right source for them to adopt was to imitate the example of Mr. Huskisson when be brought forward his reciprocity measures, and to adopt a system of conditional legislation—that was to say, to act upon the principles of strict reciprocity. He (Mr. Labouchere) confessed, he should regret if the House were to adopt the system of the right hon. Gentleman. The more he considered the subject, the more he was convinced that they would take a very shortsighted and erroneous view of the question if they were to follow that course. He must deny that the right hon. Gentleman had any right to quote the example of Mr. Huskisson in asking the Government to follow that course. For, it would be found that the example of Mr. Huskisson told in a precisely opposite direction, and that he (Mr. Labouchere) was entitled to claim the authority of Mr. Huskisson as supporting the course be had recommended to the House. It was true that Mr. Huskisson had entered into the reciprocity duties with different notions touching their equality; but was that all he did? Quite the contrary. There were very large branches of commerce which he, for the first time, absolutely threw open; the plan he pursued was exactly the course the Government were now taking—namely, to reserve to the Crown the right of retalia- tion, not to be necessarily exercised, but still reserving the right, in order that, in extreme cases and when the interests of the country required it, it might be exerted. Mr. Huskisson took off the prohibition relative to the importation of goods from Germany; he relaxed the laws affecting the carrying trade; and he opened the trade of the colonies to the extent it was now open; but, notwithstanding all this, he at the same time introduced the principle of retaliation. He (Mr. Labouchere) had therefore proved that the right hon. Gentleman was not correct in quoting the great authority in question; but this was far from being the only objection he entertained to the course that the right hon. Gentleman had suggested. He altogether objected to the system which would make a foreigner the legislator of this country, because he believed it was not our interest to make our commercial restrictions and intercourse dependent on the will and pleasure of other countries. He believed that the system might be available in the case of the United States, but he thought it would be altogether impracticable in a country like England, with complicated interests, and an immense colonial empire with versatile and different interests. The right hon. Gentleman said there might be some difficulty in his system with regard to the colonies, but that he believed that upon the whole the principles would work well, even as regarded the colonial trade. Now, take the case of Trinidad as an example. It was said that it was very important that Trinidad should open a direct intercourse with France and Spain. Now those were just the countries least likely to share in our colonial trade. Would any one contend that it was for the interests of Trinidad and this country that because France and Spain held a narrow policy in regard to their limited colonial possessions, we should apply the same, and injure ours? But he thought the right hon. Gentleman started upon an erroneous foundation. We did not stand upon the same ground as regarded our colonies that other countries did to theirs. We had abrogated the system of protection—they had not. They maintained high differential duties in favour of their colonial produce—we did not; therefore, he submitted, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman did not apply. He would further ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that retaliation did not by any construction mean reciprocity. He quite agreed with him that it was most de- sirable for this country, when it admitted competition with our ships, to adopt a course which might induce foreign States to deal with equal liberality towards us. He believed great advantages would flow not merely to us but to the whole civilised world if that liberal policy were to be acted upon; but he was very doubtful indeed if the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman would lead to that result. He believed that it was safer and better not to act upon a narrow and selfish policy, but to show all the nations of the earth that we did not dread their competition, and that we had abundant confidence in our own system and in our own resources. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman was now convinced that retaliation did not mean reciprocity. They were two very different things. He might cite an example. Suppose the United States were to put a discriminating duty of two dollars per ton on the freight of British ships as distinguished from American ships—undoubtedly we could obtain reciprocity by a retaliatory corresponding duty. But suppose America put on an additional ten per cent per ton upon goods imported by British ships, and that we did the same thing, what would be the consequence? Why, that America would have a high freight, and we should have a comparatively lower freight. The 10 per cent of America was not the same thing as the 10 per cent of England, for the former country had high tariffs, which England had not; so that we might have retaliation, but not reciprocity. The more he considered this subject, the more it appeared to him that it was most inconvenient for a country such as England to adopt a self-acting principle of this kind, which, however plausible in appearance, led to inextricable difficulties. If we acted in the manner proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, there would be the greatest possible variety of duties levied by foreign nations, and there would be nothing but uncertainty and change. The Government of any foreign country might, according to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, by a stroke of its pen, derange our whole system. He saw that notice was given of an Amendment (though he must own he could not help expressing his surprise at the quarter whence it proceeded) which would bring forward the whole question involved in the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman, and he would not therefore longer dwell upon this part of the question; but there were one or two other points upon which he was anxious to say a word. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said, "You are hound, if you throw your navigation open, to allow the British shipowner to get his seamen from any part of the world." This objection was in fact more nominal than real. Every witness examined before the Committees of the Houses of Lords and Commons upon this question said, "There is no use in altering the present proportion of British sailors, whether that proportion was one-third or two-thirds; British sailors or foreign sailors are not a question of much consequence." Those witnesses added, what was very reasonable, that if there were any proportion of British sailors in a crew, there would be no interest to the shipowners in employing foreign sailors, as the latter would in such case demand the same wages as the former. The House would doubtless have to consider whether the mere fact of a British ship having a British owner, captain, and mate, and British colours flying at its mast head, yet manned by foreign seamen, was to be regarded in the same light with a British ship manned with a British crew. With regard to the apprenticeship system, to which the noble Marquess the Member for Stamford alluded, he did not think the present measure could have the unfavourable influence which the noble Marquess imagined. The evidence of Lieutenant Brown, the Registrar General of Seamen, who was examined before a Committee of that House, showed that whilst the number of apprentices in the mercantile marine was by law not of necessity greater than 22,000 at present, there were, in fact, 33,000—or 11,000 more than was required. Now, one word more as to the effect of this Bill upon the maritime power of this country. There had been a great deal said by hon. Gentlemen upon this most important subject. He thought no man could dispute that a great commercial navy was the only great foundation for a great military navy. To constitute a great military navy, a great commercial marine was necessary. It was true that France and Russia possessed a great military navy without a great commercial marine; but a great maritime nation like England, possessing a large military navy, was, in his opinion, insecure unless it possessed a great mercantile marine. All he could say upon this subject was, that if he believed the Bill brought in by the Government would cripple the mercantile navy of England, nothing would induce him to support it. As it was, however, a question which must necessarily be raised for discussion in the Committee, he would not say anything about it at that late hour of the night. [Cries of "Divide, divide!"] He would respond to the desire of hon. Gentlemen to come to a division, by saying a very few words. He was obliged to the House for having listened to him so long, and it was with the greatest reluctance he had intruded on their time; and he would now only say that he believed that it was of the utmost consequence that this question should be settled without delay. He was sure that the delay and uncertainty which now existed were having a most injurious effect on that interest which they were all desirous of serving, though they differed as to the means of doing so—the mercantile marine of this country. He was sure that the great majority of that House, however they might differ as to the means, were desirous of adopting that course relative to the great interest concerned which should be the most safe and satisfactory. He hoped that he was as much attached to British shipping and British seamen as any man; but he believed that if some alteration was not made, the colonies would be ruined, the kingdom embroiled with other countries, and the system turned against themselves. He therefore thought that they were acting as true friends to the shipping interest and to the country by looking to and endeavouring to improve those laws. Mr. Huskisson said that he did not move, with regard to those laws, until he was obliged—till he had been besought to do so by shipowners and merchants. Now, he (Mr. Labouchere) believed that the true system was not to wait, before they altered a law, until they were necessarily forced to do so. He believed that they would be acting most unwisely if, before altering these laws, they were to wait until they received complaints from their merchants embittered by impending ruin—complaints from traders strengthened by delay—and complaints from foreign Powers when they were so embittered against the system of this country as to make a settlement a matter of considerable difficulty. The various details would have to be considered in Committee. He rejoiced that it was so, and he hoped that they would all receive due deliberation. But on the principle of the measure he believed it was most important to the best interests of the country that they should come to a decision at once; and he admitted that he should be greatly disappointed if that House did not decide in its favour by a great majority.


said, that he should not consider it seemly to occupy the House at that hour, knowing how desirous they were of dividing, if it was not for the importance of the question involved in the proposition before them. The right hon. Gentleman who had sat down had evidently himself great doubts of the result of his proposition on the prosperity of the Navy of the country. That he had those doubts the observations which he had just made showed them, coupled as they were with the provision in his Bill, that the shipowner must employ three-fourths of his crew of English seamen. Nothing could show stronger the doubts he had. Now, as he (Mr. Muntz) was going to do what was called speak one way and vote the other, perhaps the House would indulge him while he made a few remarks. The course he was about to pursue would not be called speaking one way and voting the other, if hon. Members would learn to separate questions. He considered that what they had to determine was, whether they should stand as they were, or whether they should repeal the navigation laws. Now the questions were quite distinct, whether it was just to other interests which were unprotected, to maintain the laws as they now stood, or whether it was just to the shipowners to repeal them. No doubt the repeal of those laws would have the effect of lowering profits and lowering freights; but he would ask, where was the economy of the alteration? Who would be the gainer? Who had been the gainers by the repeal of any protective laws? The repeal of these laws was, in fact, only taking the profits from English shipowners and giving them to others—as had been the effect in other cases. They had yet to learn that these alterations did not effect national savings; but, though he did not believe this would be so, taking the best view of it, he would give his vote as he was invited by the right hon. Gentleman in favour of a repeal of the navigation laws. [Laughter.] He never heard such laughter but it made him think of what Goldsmith said— And the loud laugh which spake the vacant mind. He would show then that there had not been any repeal of protective laws which had enriched the nation, but all that had been done had been to enrich one class of the community at the expense of another. He admitted, however, that in many cases he thought that was but right. In this instance it would only be another change of property; but the repeal of these laws would have this advantage, and he hailed it as a great advantage, that, as they had been the excuse set up for the failure of one-eyed free trade, the excuse would be taken away. He thought it, indeed, no small matter to get rid of the excuse. Well, for the last two years, whenever they had talked of the want of success of the principles of free trade, they were told that they had not yet got free trade—let them get rid of the navigation laws before they decided on the success of the measure. Now, he would help them to get rid of those laws, so that they should have no excuse for free trade not succeeding. He had hoped there would have been some reduction in the pressure on the country, but there had been none. There had been no great reduction in the price of living, but there had been a reduction of profits of trade and of labour throughout the country. [An Hon. MEMBER: From want of money.] An hon. Member said from the want of money, but he had nothing to do with that subject now. The other evening the hon. Member for Westbury gave them a long statement; he thought little of his figures and less of his arguments; but he entirely agreed with him in one thing, and that was, that it was not just to repeal protective duties on one article, without doing so on all. He so far agreed with him as to believe that imports and exports ought all to be placed on one footing, therefore they ought all to be protected or unprotected. The hon. Member for Liverpool had said that England could compete with the rest of the world, because she had the largest capital. Now, he (Mr. Muntz) did not know whether he meant money, because, if so, he did not know that we had the largest capital in the precious metals, but the contrary. He, however, considered houses, land, and other property, capital; and if the House continued to take measures to reduce the value of those houses, land, ships, and other property, he was not sure that we should still have the largest capital even in them. ["Question!"] Well, this was the question. It was said that we had not fully got free trade, and that was the reason it did not succeed. Now, he recollected, in 1846, in the debate on the corn question, kicking up a great dust in that House, and offending many by showing that the zinc trade had been ruined here by the removal of the protection; much doubt was then thrown upon his statement, but what was the fact now? He could speak of that trade because he had been for many years a very large consumer of that article; and what was its situation now? Why, there was little or none at all made in this country, but last year they had imported 12,000 tons, the price being from 13l. 10s. to 14l. 10s. per ton, while it could not be made in England for less than 18l. per ton. There was an instance of the results of free trade. The other day he had made a few remarks with regard to free trade and its effects on the town which he had the honour to represent. Well, since then he had been home, and he was told that he had properly represented the position of the town. He had brought to him a highly respectable Birmingham paper, which had a large sale, in which he found an advertisement, headed "Effects of Free Trade;" and which then went on to say that John C. Aston had just imported from Germany a large collection of tools, pincers, shears, knives, scissors, &c., and although they had paid a duty of 10 per cent to the British Government, he was enabled to offer them 30 or 60 per cent less than similar articles of Birmingham and Sheffield manufacture. That he considered corroborative of his statement of the effects of free trade. [An Hon. MEMBER: It is only a trade puff.] An hon. Member says that it is a puff, but what use could there be in a puff, stating that the advertiser could sell articles 30 or 60 per cent cheaper than the British articles, when every one requiring them knew their value as well as their advertiser? Besides, he knew the advertiser well, and believed him to be above such puffing, independent of its being of no use. He would now make a few remarks on their general position, for he believed they were every day getting out of the frying-pan into the fire, which he thought they would see when he told them that for the last twenty-five years he had been engaged in the foreign trade, and had been enabled to compete with all the other merchants, by persevering care, industry, and economy, until they had nearly all ceased to exist—and now that he had the trade almost entirely to himself, he found that it was so much reduced by foreign competition that he was going to give it up. Articles which he used to sell with a gross profit of 12 or 15 per cent now only bore 3½ to 5 per cent, and would not pay general expenses. A great deal had been said about buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest. Now, he should like to know which was the cheapest market. It was not because in the abstract they could effect a saving of 10 per cent that that was necessarily the cheapest market. Take the iron trade, for example, and suppose that they could buy English iron at 10l per ton, and Continental iron at 9l. Suppose they bought Continental iron, and it left the English mines, coal, and labour unemployed, what would be the effect? They would find that all the parties formerly engaged in those trades were left unemployed, just as the zinc workers were left unemployed, and the result must be disastrous to the country. Now, he should, in such cases, call the foreign market the dearest market for the nation, however it might suit individuals. The politico-economical argument was, that if they could not sell one article as cheap as other nations, they must make something else. Now, what would be the result of that? Let them apply the case to Ireland, and if she could not sell her corn or her cattle as low as other nations could, what would be the result? Her lands must go out of cultivation, her people would be beggared, and England would have to support them. He believed by that policy, so far from England improving, that she was rapidly coming to a state of adversity and beggary. There was scarcely a production of the foreigner that they could compete with, because it was not subject to the taxation and heavy liabilities of England. The right hon. President of the Board of Trade had said that he should like to take the duty off timber, to case the shipping interest, but the taxation of the country would not allow him. Why, that was our real difficulty: a fixed amount of revenue must be raised, whatever the consequences. He would also be glad to see that duty taken off, because he was sure that unless it were they could not compete in shipbuilding with ports in the Baltic, where the price of labour was only about one-third. In fact, the regular proportion of labour in the ports of the Baltic, and in Germany, was only one-half or one-third that of this country. Now, he contended that they could not keep up a fixed amount of revenue while they were in every way lowering, by their principles of free trade, the wages of labour and the profits of trade, pressing on an industrious class, and forcing them into a competition with labourers who were not borne down by the pressure of that taxation. The taxes were paid out of the property, produce, and labour of the country, and any reduction in their value required a larger quantity of them to pay the taxes, and increased their pressure upon the industry of the country. ["Divide, divide!"] Seeing that the House was anxious to divide, he would not detain them longer. He had to thank them for their attention, particularly considering how much his views differed from most of them, and he would conclude by saying, that when they found their land uncultivated, their trade ruined, their colonies gone, and their revenue fallen, they would find that something was wanting besides abstract principles of free trade.


wished to say, on behalf of the constituency he and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down represented, that they had a considerable interest in the repeal of the navigation laws, as Birmingham carried on a very large and lucrative trade with the colonies, but which for some time past had been in a declining-state. If free trade had failed, it had been because it had not been carried out to the fullest extent, or because it had not been accompanied by those changes in the monetary system which were absolutely essential. His hon. Colleague had referred to the prices of the Continent; but if the articles he spoke of could be supplied there cheaper than in this country, how did it happen that we were supplying America with them? He doubted not his constituents would be considerably benefited by the repeal of the navigation laws.

Question put. The House divided:—Ayes 266; Noes 210: Majority 56.

List of the AYES.
Abdy, T. N. Blackall, S. W.
Adair, H. E. Blake, M. J.
Adair, R. A. S. Blewitt, R. J.
Adare, Visct. Bouverie, hon. E. P.
Aglionby, H. A. Boyle, hon. Col.
Anderson, A. Bright, J.
Anson, hon. Col. Brockman, E. D.
Anson, Visct. Brotherton, J.
Armstrong, R. B. Brown, H.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Brown, W.
Browne, R. D.
Bagshaw, J. Bruce, Lord E.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T. Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.
Bass, M. T. Bunbury, E. H.
Bellew, R. M. Callaghan, D.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Campbell, hon. W. F.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Cardwell, E.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Carter, J. B.
Birch, Sir T. B. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Heald, J.
Chaplin, W. J. Heneage, G. H. W.
Charteris, hon. F. Heneage, E.
Childers, J. W. Henry, A.
Clements, hon. C. S. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hervey, Lord A.
Clifford, H. M. Heyworth, L.
Cobden, R. Hindley, C.
Cockburn, A. J. E. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Coke, hon. E. K. Hobhouse, T. B.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hodges, T. L.
Collins, W. Hodges, T. T.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Cowan, C. Hollond, R.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hope, H. T.
Craig, W. G. Horsman, E.
Crowder, R. B. Howard, Lord E.
Currie, H. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Currie, R. Howard, hon. J. K.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Howard, Sir R.
Devereux, J. T. Hume, J.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Hutt, W.
Divett, E. Jackson, W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Jermyn, Earl
Drumlanrig, Visct. Jervis, Sir J.
Duff, G. S. Keppel, hon. G. T.
Duncan, Visct. Kershaw, J.
Duncan, G. Kildare, Marq. of
Duncuft, J. King, hon. P. J. L.
Dundas, Adm. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Dundas, Sir D. Langsten, J. H.
Ebrington, Visct. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Lemon, Sir C.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Lennard, T. B.
Enfield, Visct. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.
Estcourt, J. B. Lewis, G. C.
Evans, W. Lincoln, Earl of
Ewart, W. Littleton, hon. E. R.
Fagan, W. Loch, J.
Fergus, J. Locke, J.
Ferguson, Col. Lushington, C.
FitzPatrick, rt. hon. J. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Foley, J. H. H. M'Gregor, J.
Fordyce, A. D. Maitland, T.
Forster, M. Marshall, J. G.
Fortescue, C. Marshall, W.
Fox, R. M. Martin, J.
Fox, W. J. Martin, C. W.
Freestun, Col. Matheson, A.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Matheson, Col.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Glyn, G. C. Melgund, Visct.
Goulburn, rt hon. H. Milner, W. M. E.
Grace, O. D. J. Milnes, R. M.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Mitchell, T. A.
Greene, J. Moffatt, G.
Grenfell, C. P. Monsell, W.
Grenfell, C. W. Morgan, H. K. G.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Morison, Sir W.
Guest, Sir J. Morris, D.
Haggitt, F. R. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Mowatt, F.
Hanmer, Sir J. Muntz, G. F.
Harcourt, G. G. Norreys, Lord
Hardcastle, J. A. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Harris, R. Nugent, Lord
Hastie, A. O'Brien, T.
Hastie, A. O'Connell, J.
Hawes, B. O'Connell, M. J.
Hay, Lord J. O'Connor, F.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Ogle, S. C. H.
Headlam, T. E. Ord, W.
Paget, Lord A. Smith, J. B.
Paget, Lord C. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Paget, Lord G. Spearman, H. J.
Pakington, Sir J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Palmerston, Visct. Stanton, W. H.
Parker, J. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Pechell, Capt. Stuart, Lord D.
Peel, rt, hon. Sir R. Sullivan, M.
Peel, Col. Sutton, J. H. M.
Peel, F. Tenison, E. K.
Perfect, R. Tennent, R. J.
Peto, S. M. Thicknesse, R. A.
Philips, Sir G. R. Thompson, Col.
Pigott, F. Thompson, G.
Pilkington, J. Thornely, T.
Pinney, W. Towneley, J.
Reynolds, J. Townley, R. G.
Ricardo, J. L. Traill, G.
Ricardo, O. Turner, G. J.
Rice, E. R. Verney, Sir H.
Rich, H. Villiers, Visct.
Robartes, T. J. A. Villiers, hon. C.
Roche, E. B. Vivian, J. H.
Romilly, Sir J. Wall, C. B.
Russell, Lord J. Walmsley, Sir J.
Russell, hon. E. S. Ward, H. G.
Russell, F. C. H. Watkins, Col. L.
Rutherford, A. West, F. R.
Salwey, Col. Westhead, J. P.
Sandars, G. Whitmore, T. C.
Scholefield, W. Willcox, B. M.
Scrope, G. P. Williams, J.
Scully, F. Willyams, H.
Seymour, Lord Wilson, J.
Shafto, R. D. Wilson, M.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Shelburne, Earl of Wood, W. P.
Sheridan, R. B. Wrightson, W. B.
Simeon, J. Wyvill, M.
Slaney, R. A. Young, Sir J.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. TELLERS.
Smith, J. A. Tufnell, H.
Smith, M. T. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bremridge, R.
Adderley, C. B. Brisco, M.
Alexander, N. Broadley, H.
Anstey, T. C. Brooke, Lord
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Brooke, Sir A. B.
Archdall, Capt. M. Bruce, C. L. C.
Bagge, W. Buck, L. W.
Bagot, hon. W. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Bailey, J. jun. Burghley, Lord
Baines, M. T. Cabbell, B. B.
Baldock, E. H. Carew, W. H. P.
Bankes, G. Cayley, E. S.
Baring, T. Chandos, Marq. of
Baring, hon. F. Chichester, Lord J. L.
Barrington, Visct. Cholmeley, Sir M.
Barron, Sir H. W. Christopher, R. A.
Bateson, T. Clay, J.
Beckett, W. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bennet, P. Clive, H. B.
Bentinck, Lord H. Cobbold, J. C.
Blackstone, W. S. Codrington, Sir W.
Blair, S. Cole, hon. H. A.
Blakemore, R. Coles, H. B.
Blandford, Marq. of Compton, H. C.
Boldero, H G. Cotton, hon. W. H. S.
Bourke, R. S. Davies, D. A. S.
Bowles, Adm. Deedes, W.
Bramston, T. W. Dick, Q.
Disraeli, B. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Dod, J. W. Mandeville, Visct.
Dodd, G. Manners, Lord C. S.
Drummond, H. Manners, Lord G.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. March, Earl of
Duke, Sir J. Masterman, J.
Duncombe, hon. A. Maunsell, T. P.
Duncombe, hon. O. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Dundas, G. Meux, Sir H.
Dunne, F. P. Miles, P. W. S.
Du Pre, C. G. Miles, W.
East, Sir J. B. Morgan, O.
Egerton, Sir P. Mulgrave, Earl of
Edwards, H. Mullings, J. R.
Egerton, Sir P. Mure, Col.
Euston, Earl of Napier, J.
Farnham, E. B. Neeld, J.
Farrer, J. Newdegate, C. N.
Fellowes, E. Newport, Visct.
Filmer, Sir E. Newry and Morne, Visct.
Floyer, J. Noel, hon. G. J.
Forbes, W. Ossulston, Lord
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Packe, C. W.
Fox, S. W. L. Palmer, R.
Frewen, C. H. Palmer, R.
Fuller, A. E. Pennant, hon. Col.
Gaskell, J. M. Pigot, Sir R.
Goddard, A. L. Plowden, W. H. C.
Gordon, Adm. Powell, Col.
Gore, W. O. Primo, R.
Gore, W. R. O. Pugh, D.
Granby, Marq. of Reid, Col.
Grogan, E. Renton, J. C.
Gwyn, H. Repton, G. W. J.
Hale, R. B. Richards, R.
Halford, Sir H. Robinson, G. R.
Hall, Col. Rolleston, Col.
Halsey, T. P. Rufford, F.
Hamilton, G. A. Rumbold, C. E.
Hamilton, J. H. Rushout, Capt.
Harris, hon. Capt. Sandars, J.
Heathcoat, G. J. Scott, hon. F.
Henley, J. W. Seaham, Visct.
Herbert, H. A. Seymer, H. K.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Shirley, E. J.
Hildyard, R. C. Sibthorp, Col.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Sidney, Ald.
Hill, Lord E. Smyth, J. G.
Hodgson, W. N. Smollett, A.
Hood, Sir A. Somerset, Capt.
Hope, Sir J. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Hornby, J. Spooner, R.
Hotham, Lord Stafford, A.
Hughes, W. B. Stanley, E.
Jocelyn, Visct. Stephenson, R.
Johnstone, Sir J. Stuart, H.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Stuart, J.
Jones, Capt. Talbot, C. R. M.
Keating, R. Tabot, J. H.
Kerrison, Sir R. Taylor, T. E.
Knight, F. W. Thompson, Ald.
Knightley, Sir C. Tollemache, J.
Knox, Col. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Legh, G. C. Trollope, Sir J.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Leslie, C. P. Verner, Sir W.
Lewisham, Visct. Vesey, hon. T.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Lockhart, W. Vivian, J. E.
Long, W. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Lopes, Sir R. Waddington, D.
Lowther, hon. Col. Waddington, H. S.
Lowther, H. Walpole, S. H.
Walsh, Sir J. B. Wodehouse, E.
Wawn, J. T. Worcester, Marq. of
Wellesley, Lord C.
Williams, T. P. TELLERS.
Williamson, Sir H. Mackenzie, W. F.
Willoughby, Sir H. Beresford, W.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Friday, 23rd March.

House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.