HC Deb 05 August 1850 vol 113 cc815-8

begged permission to make an observation in explanation of a question which he was about to put to the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, relative to a matter which he considered to be of much importance to the shipping and commercial interests of this country—namely, the differential duties levied on British shipping in the ports of Spain. It was surely high time now to take some measures to compel Spain to adopt a more equitable course of policy in regard to our shipping, than that in which she had persisted for about twenty-five years; and it was his (Mr. Anderson's) intention to have brought this subject fully under the consideration of the House pursuant to the notice which he had given. Like many other independent Members, however, he had never been able to obtain a suitable opportunity, and at this late period of the Session it was in vain to expect it. He should, therefore, take some other means of bringing it under public notice, and would now only beg to ask the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he would have any objection to lay on the table of the House a copy of any correspondence which he may have had with the Spanish Government, relative to the differential duties levied on British shipping in the ports of Spain? And whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, in the event of British shipping continuing to be subjected to these differential duties, to put in force the provisions of the Act of last Session for repealing the Navigation Laws, by levying differential duties on the ships of Spain in the ports of this kingdom and its dependencies?


said, that the question was one which had engaged for many years the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and many communications had passed between it and the Government of Spain on the subject, but hitherto without any satisfactory result. Those communications had been necessarily suspended during the interruption of diplomatic relations between the two countries, but would now be resumed; and in the present state of the negotiations it would not be advisable to lay the correspondence before the House. In the event of the Spanish Government not agreeing to equalise the duties, or to place British upon the same footing as Spanish vessels, it would also be unadvisable to state what course Her Majesty's Government in its discretion might think fit to pursue.


then said, that at the beginning of next Session of Parliament he should move the following resolution on the subject;— That the ships of Spain having since the year 1824 been permitted to import goods the produce or manufacture of Spain into the ports of the United Kingdom, at the same rates of duty as British ships, and since the 1st of January, 1850, the carrying trade of the United Kingdom and its dependencies to and from all other countries having been opened to Spanish vessels on the same terms as to British vessels—whereas, during the whole of these periods higher rates of duties have been, and continue to be, levied on goods when imported into or exported from Spain and its dependencies in British vessels than in Spanish vessels, to the great detriment of British shipowners and the obstruction of trade, a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased, in virtue of the power vested in Her by Act 12 &c 13 Vict., cap. 29, to cause such rates of duty to be levied on the importation or exportation of goods in Spanish vessels at the ports of the United Kingdom and its dependencies as may serve to countervail the differential duties levied in the ports of Spain on British vessels.