§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third Time."
§ MR. HERRIES
said, it was not without some reluctance that he rose to interrupt the progress of the Bill now before them, by proposing the Amendment which he had placed on the paper; but the course he was under the necessity of pursuing afforded the only means of which he could avail himself for the purpose of fulfilling the duty which he felt was imposed upon him, of bringing under the attention of that House the complaints of a great and important body of his fellow-subjects, whose petitions he had, in conjunction with other hon. Members, at various times presented to it. On the 29th of April last, he had the honour of presenting to that House a petition with 260 signatures, comprising with (he believed) only two exceptions, the names of all the principal shipowners of the port of London. He had since, also, had the honour of presenting similar petitions from Liverpool, from Glasgow, from North and South Shields, from Newcastle, from Hartlepool, from Montrose, from Cork, from Belfast, and several other ports—in short, it might be said that the petitions presented were from the shipowners of the United Kingdom. When, therefore, the petitions to which he referred emanated from so important a body as that, he should, indeed, he wanting in his duty to them and to the country if he did not take some opportunity of explaining to the House the grounds on which their complaints were founded, and of urging on Her Majesty's Government the necessity of taking such steps as were calculated to afford them at least some relief from the grievances under which they laboured. But it was not alone on account of the interests of this great and important class of the community that he brought their complaints under the notice of the House; but it was equally on account of the very intimate, connexion, that subsisted between this class and that which is an essential element of the power and greatness of this country—the naval power of Great Britain. He believed that it was admitted on all sides, with the single exception of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. J. L. Ricardo), that upon our mercantile marine, the naval and maritime power of this country in a great, degree 1396 depended. Her Majesty's Ministers had assented to this; the hon. Member for the West Riding. (Mr. Cobden) had acknowledged it with great distinctness; and the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had emphatically expressed his opinion that the protection of the British sailor was necessary to the maintenance of the British Navy. What, then, were the complaints which chiefly presented themselves in the statements made by those whose petitions had been presented from time to time to that House? They had, whenever that subject had been referred to, heard much from Members of the Government of the good effects of the repeal of the Navigation Laws—indeed, their beneficial results had been proclaimed with a flourish of trumpets from the Ministerial benches, and from one or two other quarters, on more than one occasion during the present and the preceding Session of Parliament. But now here came this large and influential body of shipowners—parties who were surely those best qualified to bear testimony to the effect of the repeal of the Navigation Laws—and they told them that the results of that repeal had been exactly the reverse of what Her Majesty's Government had anticipated, and in exact conformity with the fears to which hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House had given utterance. They insisted that the proof of the correctness of what they affirmed was to be found in the vast diminution in the rate of freight under which they suffered, stating that, under the circumstances in which they were placed, they were compelled to navigate their ships under a great diminution of the rate of freight, and complaining that the result of the present system was to themselves, as the agriculturists had complained it was with regard to their operations, an unremunerative, or, rather, a losing employment of capital and industry. Now, in order to show whether what was here alleged was true or not—whether the shipowners of this country were not suffering great loss from diminution of the rates of freight—he would refer to a document he held in his hand, and which showed the average rates of freight, from various ports to those of this country for a period of five years, from 1845 to 1849 inclusive, and also according to the latest quotations for this year. From this paper it appeared that freights generally were, on the whole, reduced by not less than 30 per cent. For instance— 1397
It would be admitted, therefore, that, generally speaking, the rate of freight had been reduced to the extent of 30 per cent. But he also held in his hand an extract from a letter which had been shown him, from China, in which it was stated that shipping was loading from the ports of China, and Hong-Kong, at 40s. and 42s. per ton, and that so long as American vessels came there from St. Francisco as they did, it was utterly impossible to compete with them, for there was no chance of remunerative employment for British ships. When it was proposed to repeal the Navigation Laws, those who supported that measure held out to the shipowner (as they did to the agriculturist when it was proposed to repeal the corn laws), that it would not make any great difference in the remunerating price which he would receive for his commodity; and that British industry and capital would still have the carrying trade in spite of the competition to which it was to be subjected. But if the document which he had read was correct, we were fairly beaten out of the market by the Americans at least. The ship-owners complained, not merely of the loss of freight, but of that which produced it, the diminished employment of their ships in the commerce of Great Britain, by reason of the introduction of that foreign shipping which it was said could not be sailed cheaper than our own, but which bad nevertheless driven out British shipping to a large and an increasing extent in every branch of British commerce. For the purpose of making this clear to the House, he would refer to some accounts before him of the progress of British and Foreign shipping in all the ports of this country. He held, in his hand an account of the British and foreign shipping, employed in the foreign trade, in the ports of the United Kingdom, in the years 1842 to 1850, inclusive, carefully extracted from the annual accounts furnished to Parliament and in which he found that there was from year to year, previous to the 1398 repeaL of the Navigation Laws—that is' from 1842 to 1849—a nearly proportion ate increase of British and foreign entries inwards and outwards, as shown by the account which he would read:—
1845 to 1840. 1850. About £ s. d. £ s. d. p. ct. Calcutta 5 4 1½ 3 13 11½ 30 Bombay 3 16 7¾ 2 15 7½ 38 Madras 4 5 11¼ 3 9 4½ 25 Ceylon 4 17 2½ 3 17 6 Mauritius 3 13 1¼ 2 12 11 40 China 4 11 3 3 3 9 44 Sydney 4 2 8½ 3 0 0 Jamaica 4 0 0 3 0 0 33 Deinerara 2 15 0 1 10 0 Quebec 1 19 0 1 12 0 20 St. John's, N. B. 1 15 10¾ 1 8 0
But the year 1850, compared with the year 1849, showed of—
Years. Tonnage inwards. Tonnage outwards. British. Foreign. British. Foreign. 1842 3,294,795 1,202,303 3,375,270 1,252,176 1843 3,545,346 1,301,950 3,635,833 1,341,433 1844 3,647,463 1,402,138 3,852,822 1,444,346 1845 4,310,639 1,735,079 4,235,451 1,796,136 1846 4,294,733 1,806.282 4,393,415 1,921,156 1847 4,942,094 2,253,939 4,770,370 2,312,793 1848 4,565,533 1,960,412 4,724,027 2,056,654 1849 4,884,210 2,035,690 4,785,428 2,299,060 1850 4,700,199 2,400,277 4,743,345 2,662,243
Again, the year 1850, as compared with the average of three preceding years, showed—
INWARDS. Tons. OUTWARDS. Tons. British Shipping— British Shipping— Decrease 184,000 Decrease 43,000 Foreign Shipping— Foreign Shipping— Increase 364,000 Increase 363,000 Total comparative disadvantage to British Shipping 548,000 Against British Shipping 406,000
Now, the effect of all this has been to diminish, to an enormous extent, the employment of British shipping, and to augment the employment of foreign ships; and that with a systematic regularity, which rendered it impossible to say that it was a mere accidental occurrence. But he might, perhaps, be told that things had been bettor since the commencement of the present year. He would take, however, the first five months of this year, and show the House that there had been an actual diminution during: that, period. For instance, look at this:—
INWARDS. OUTWARDS. Aver. British. Foreign. Aver. British. Foreign. 3 yrs. 4,797,000 2,082,700 3 yrs. 4,759,000 2,223,000 1850 4,700,000 2,400,000 1850 4,742,000 2,662,000 Dec 97,000 Dec 17,000 Inc. 417,400 Inc. 561,000 Total disadvantage to British Shipping 414,000 Total against British Shipping 578,000
§ Account of Tonnage entered inwards, for five months, ended 5th June, 1850–51.
§ Total—1850, 1,916,386; 1851, 2,251,141; 334,755 increase, or 17 4–10ths per cent.
§ British Tonnage.
§ 1850, 1,271,607; 1851, 1,334,956; 63,349 increase, or 4 9–10ths percent.
§ Foreign Tonnage.
§ 1850; 644,779; 1851, 916,185; 271.406 increase, or 42 per cent.
|Showing a decline of British in the last year||15,000 tons.|
|And an augmentation of foreign,||214,600 tons.|
|Class A.||*Æ||Æ||E.||No. character.||Total.|
|Showing a decline in 1851, as compared with 1850, of first-class ships, 162; total, 280.|
|1830 to 1834||2,243,084||—||—|
|1835 to 1839||2,690,422||447,338||—|
|1840 to 1844||3,409,249||718,827||—|
|1845 to 1849||4,599,442||1,190,193|
|1830 to 1834||773,880||—||—|
|1835 to 1839||1,080,972||307,092||—|
|1840 to 1844||1,332,170||251,198||—|
|1845 to 1849||1,958,280||626,110||—|
|OFFICIAL VALUES.||DECLARED VALUES.|
|Amount.||pr. ct.||Amount,||pr. ct.|
It does not appear to us doubtful that the commission has decided by anticipation to accord to the national marine an effectual protection. It is not in the state of decay into which it has fallen that the idea can be entertained of placing it on the footing of competition. In any case, what is taking place in England at the present moment would suffice to prove the necessity of insuring to our mercantile marine the most extensive privileges, if we would not see the remains of this branch of industry, formerly so flourishing, instantly disappear. The English mercantile marine, so active and rich, is on the eve of experiencing a dangerous crisis, of which the only cause is the repeal of the laws that assured it an almost exclusive protection; it finds itself, in effect, very seriously compromised in the British ports of India, and generally, in all the establishments possessed by England, that lie beyond the Cape of Good Hope. The marine of the United States has commenced against the English marine in its own ports a contest which the latter appears incapable of sustaining. We have not to wish that the mercantile marine of the United States should acquire the ascendancy over the marine of British commerce. Nor if this happened should we have to regret it. But the example of the peril in which this powerful British navigation finds itself placed, from the effects of an imprudent competition with the marine of the United States, ought to serve as a lesson.It was idle to talk of the advantage this country would derive from access to the French ports, since she was resolved to make no concession whatever to us on that point; but he might say, in one word, that he was one of those who thought considerable advantage might he obtained in the way of employing our shipping in the ports of France, if reciprocity on just principles could be established. As to Spain, he believed that this was the most difficult State the noble Lord opposite had to contend with, as from the exclusive system on which it acted, nothing could possibly be made of it. Of Portugal, almost the same thing might be said, though some little disposition had lately been shown towards a better feeling. But he now came to 1406 that State, to our relations with which he wished most earnestly to direct the attention of the House—he meant the United States of America. He would take leave to remind the House of what had taken place when this great change in the commercial system was first proposed to the Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, when he made his first announcement, gave the House to understand that he meant to make a sweeping change, and to repeal every restriction imposed by our Navigation Laws without any exception. He told the House of the result of a communication which had taken place between himself and the American Minister, in which Mr. Bancroft had expressed himself to the following effect: "We are ready to do anything you like; if you can do but little, we can do but little; if you can do much, we will do much; if you do all, we will do all." The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) took him at his word. He gave him all—not only the long voyage, and the short voyage, and the intercourse with our colonies, but even our coasting trade. But America disavowed the liberal assurances of Air. Bancroft. She accepted that part of our concessions which suited her, and rejected the rest. She refused her coasting trade. Our Ministers might have known that it would be so. America was governed by men who gave nothing in vain. Mr. Clay declared on a memorable occasion, that "his country were a people who dealt in equivalents—that they gave no commercial boons, but transacted business as a system of fair exchange." Experience, however, did not altogether justify the statement, for America in her transactions with this country had sedulously eschewed the system of fair exchange. She would not give the privilege of her coasting trade to England. He did not blame the Americans for that; but this he did say, that when America refused her coasting trade, she showed that she knew the value of it. She knew that by our Act repealing the Navigation Laws she would obtain that which long before she had endeavoured to wrest from this country—namely, a participation in the trade theretofore carried on exclusively between this nation and its possessions abroad. We ought to have derived a lesson from the former struggles of America in that direction. If we had exercised a proper vigilance on that point, knowing the vast importance at- 1407 tached by the United States to that object, we might at least have secured some valuable compensation for the abandonment of it. But we had thrown it gratuitously away; and while we had opened to America the wide and most valuable field of the free navigation with all our foreign possessions, we had allowed her, under a technical definition of her coasting trade, to exclude us from the intercourse between the different points of her vast sea-board, even to the communication by sea between New York and California. He was far from blaming the Government of the United States; on the contrary, he thought it was the duty of every statesman to take care of his own country. On a former occasion he had adverted to the opinion of Mr. Huskisson. That Gentleman, speaking of America in the British House of Commons, said, in the matter of navigation there were circumstances which induced him to doubt the wisdom of encouraging the growth of a mercantile marine in America; and the experience of the years which had elapsed since that sentiment was uttered, had only served to confirm its wisdom. He held in his hand an authentic document, which showed that the increase in the tonnage of American shipping of late years was much more rapid than that of English shipping:—
Tonnage of Shipping belonging to the United Kingdom and United States of America:—
§ From 1846 to 1850, British increase being 415,850 or 10 8–10 per cent.
§ From 1846 to 1850, American increase being 973,369 or 37 9–10 per cent.
§ In the year 1850, compared with 1849—
§ British increase 89,000, about 2 1–6 per cent.
§ American increase 201,000, about 6 per cent."
§ Heretofore, the warnings and remonstrances of those who perceived the ruinous consequences of the repeal of the Navigation Laws were met by a denial of the facts on which they founded their arguments; but no such denial at the present day could be attempted. They had the evidence of their own accounts that there was a great diminution in the employment of British ships, and an increase in that of foreign ships in all the great ports of the country. He defied them to disprove that. But it was said that it 1408 could not be true that our mercantile shipping was declining, because the men of the greatest eminence and reputation as shipowners were constantly building and employing new ships of the largest tonnage, and so gave the lie to any such supposition; and it was usual for those who indulged in such a course of argument to refer to the names of Mr. Dunbar, Mr. Lindsey, and Mr. Wigram. But what he had now to announce to the House was, that these gentlemen were witnesses, not for the case of the Government, but for his (Mr. Herries') case. He had presented a petition from the shipping interests of England, complaining of unexampled depression in these interests; and to that petition Mr. Dunbar and Mr. Lindsay were subscribing parties. True, the name of Mr. Wigram was not attached to that petition; but he was much mistaken if that gentleman had not conveyed to the Government, through another channel, the expression of his conviction that the shipping interests, so far from being in a flourishing condition, were in a state of the utmost depression. The answer which was not unfrequently given to the petition of the shipowners was, that they were habitually grumbling—that it was the propensity of the English nation to grumble—and that, in fact, it had become a sort of national enjoyment. If this were so, all he could say was, that there never was seated on the Treasury benches a Government which appeared to be animated with more patriotic anxiety than the present Ministry to afford to their countrymen of all classes and denominations the utmost possible facilities for indulging in this national propensity. There was not an interest in the State that was not furnished with cause for grumbling: the colonists were abundantly supplied with reason for it; the landed interest had more perhaps than its full share; and the shipping interest, shorn of 30 per cent of its legitimate returns, had grounds enough for bitter complaint. He would now pass to another of the special grievances of which these last complained. It was the condition imposed upon them of manning their ships in a certain proportion by British seamen. This they regarded as a great hardship, and a flagrant inconsistency. The late Act exposed them to a ruinous competition, stripped them of every advantage and preference they had heretofore enjoyed, and then they imposed upon them an onerous condition, which rendered it all but impos- 1409 sible for them to contend with the foreigner. He would ask the Government whether, in justice to their own principles and their own professions, they could any longer continue that compulsory restriction respecting the manning of the mercantile marine? Their much-vaunted doctrine—the very principle on which the free-trade system was said to be founded, was that of buying at the cheapest market, and selling in the dearest. Why, then, should not the British shipowner be allowed to draw his sailors from the cheapest market? That market was not the British. Thank God, the British sailor was not yet the cheapest of all mariners. He (Mr. Herries) had received deputations from shipowners on this subject, who had urged him to press upon the attention of the House the necessity of permitting them to employ the foreign sailor. If the Legislature were restrained from granting this freedom to the shipowner by considerations of higher national policy, surely those same considerations should weigh with it, to continue to the mercantile marine of this country some of the compensative advantages which it had hitherto enjoyed. He (Mr. Herries) was curious to know on what grounds the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) would defend that part of his policy with the knowledge that our shipping trade was in a state of unprecedented decay. He (Mr. Herries) was confident that the delusion under which the House was labouring with respect to the shipping interest, could not long continue. He felt the conviction that it must pass away, and that some better system than that which they were now pursuing would be eventually adopted. He would not take upon himself to recommend the simple repeal of the onerous condition to which he was alluding, because the direct effect of such a course, while it would relieve the shipowner, would be prejudicial to the British sailor; but he put it to the Government whether the restriction was not utterly inconsistent with that principle upon which they had heretofore attempted to justify their policy? He had now submitted to the House some observations calculated, he believed, to enforce the grounds of complaint urged in the petitions of the shipowners; and would earnestly entreat a careful consideration of the petitions themselves. They could surely not shut their eyes to the alarming progress of declension in the comparative strength of our mercantile marine. They had given to 1410 nations who were now their rivals, and might be hereafter their enemies, advantages which might at no distant period be fatally turned against themselves. If they did not want to see the utter destruction of the shipping interests of this country, they should at once take decisive measures either to induce or compel other nations to make some requital for the great benefits that had been conferred upon them by the repeal of the Navigation Laws. They had been outwitted by the Americans, or rather they had outwitted themselves: the delusion could not last much longer—the eyes of the English people would be opened sooner or later, and they would perceive the necessity of reverting to a wiser and safer national policy than that we were now pursuing. He had read to them the opinions of distinguished statesmen in France on this subject. He would conclude with the frank and pithy declaration of one of the most enlightened of the statesmen of America, who, adverting recently to that which had here been characterised as the crowning capital of the column of free trade, had pointedly observed that when England consummated that act of her commercial revolution, she dug the grave of her political power.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to direct the proper steps to be taken for giving effect to those provisions of the Act 12 & 13 Vic. c. 29 (for the repeal of the Navigation Laws), whereby Her Majesty is empowered to adopt towards any foreign country, in which a preference is given, directly or indirectly, to national vessels over British vessels, such measures as may appear to Her Majesty justly to countervail the disadvantages to which British Trade and Navigation is so subjected,' instead thereof.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he could assure the House that he was not disposed to complain of the right hon. Gentleman for having brought forward this subject. He agreed with him that, considering the importance of the recent alterations which had been made in our Navigation Laws, and considering the number of petitions from the shipowners of this country which had been presented to the House complaining of their distressed condition, and ascribing that distress to those alterations, it was natural and proper that the House of Commons should not separate without taking into their full consideration the condition and prospects of the 1411 shipping interest of this country. Entertaining that opinion, he would also add, that since it had been thought right and proper to bring forward this subject, he was glad that it had fallen into the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, whose long experience and great ability enabled him, upon commercial subjects, to bring before them all the information and argument which was capable of enlightening or enforcing the side of the question which he advocated. He rejoiced, therefore, that the shipowners of this country had found in the right hon. Gentleman a person so well able, so fully competent, to state their case; and he fully agreed with him that no subject could possibly be of greater importance. The right hon. Gentleman had reminded the House, that on a former occasion he (Mr. Lahouchere) stated, that it was not merely upon the general principle of free trade that he, for one, asked for the alteration in the Navigation Laws. He thought that he had then stated to the House that it was possible to advance continuously and concurrently the general interests of the consumer with those of the shipowner, and that if he thought commerce and trade would prosper, while the shipping interests would decay in consequence of such alterations as he proposed, much as he regarded the interests of the consumer, and much as he regarded those of trade in general, he would not advocate their adoption. If indeed he thought such a result would be the consequence, he would have hesitated to follow any general principle which, however it might have promoted the interest of the consumer, would lead to the decay of the mercantile marine of this country, of which they were so justly proud. He believed, with Adam Smith, that the shipping interest had special claims upon the favour of the Legislature; but he entirely agreed with those who supposed it impossible to disconnect the general prosperity of England from that of the mercantile shipping, because he was sure they must wax and wane together; and he rejoiced to believe that experience had shown that the recent alterations, while they had promoted the general commerce of the country, had not only not destroyed, but had positively improved and fostered that which he held to he a mast important branch of the general commerce, namely, the interest of the seafaring and shipowning classes of the community. He would also assure the right hon. Gentleman that he should hear from 1412 him no disparaging expressions towards the shipowners of the country. He believed the right hon. Gentleman was in error when he imputed to his noble Friend (Earl Granville), in the very able speech which he lately delivered elsewhere—a speech upon which he (Mr. Labouchere) was well contented to rest the whole case—any desire to speak in a disparaging manner of a class which he knew that his noble Friend, as well as himself, greatly and justly respected. During the last few years, his (Mr. Labouchere's) official duties had brought him into connexion with almost every considerable shipowner in the United Kingdom; and he could truly say, that that intercourse, whether it had brought him into connexion with Gentlemen who agreed with him, or were opposed to him, had only augmented the respect which he had ever entertained for the character and intelligence of that great body of British traders. But he thought it was not at all inconsistent with that feeling to say, that on many occasions there had been a very remarkable contrast between the language and the conduct of that great body—that their language had often been that of despondency and ruin, while their conduct had indicated energy, activity, and vigour; that, although their voice might have been the effeminate voice of Jacob, their hands had been the strong hands of Esau. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the complaints of the great body of the shipowners of England, and had asked whether such men as Messrs. Wigram, Lindsay, and Dunbar, did not understand their trade better than the Government? and whether it was not enough for those Gentlemen to say they were suffering distress, for the Government to acquiesce in the truth of their statement? Now he (Mr. Lahouchere) confessed he was astonished to hear an argument like this from the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman, who had so often boasted, with a just and natural pride, that he had been the colleague and coadjutor of Mr. Huskisson in those great measures of mercantile reform which in 1826 gave the first blow to that system of protection, under the fancied security of which the trade and commerce of this country had so long languished. He (Mr. Labonchere) was old enough to remember that time. He recollected the petitions with which the House was inundated, and the complaints which were made at public meetings by many of the shipowners of the country against the Government of that 1413 day. Were those complaints discontinued? No; up to the present moment—until, if he might use the expression, this new hare had been started—the shipowners kept on telling the House that they were utterly ruined, and that they traced their destruction to the measures of Mr. Huskisson twenty years ago. No experience of the alterations then made satisfied them. It was in vain that shipping increased, that 100,000 tons were added to the tonnage of your mercantile marine, that sailors were more plentiful, or that fresh capital was invested in shipbuilding by the shipowners. The shipowners, or at least a portion of them, asked the House to believe that it was owing to the measures of Mr. Huskisson, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries), that that destruction had taken place. Hon. Members who had paid attention to the subject must be familiar with the evidence which had been given before the Committees of the House of Lords and the House of Commons two years ago. He would not quote from that evidence, because he knew it must be in the recollection of hon. Members; but he would take the liberty of troubling the House with some predictions which were made by the shipowners soon after those changes were made by Mr. Huskisson, and he would contrast those predictions with the results. The document which he should quote was of the most authentic kind. It was the yearly report for 1833 of the General Shipowners' Society—a society with which he believed the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. G. f. Young) was intimately connected. The presence of that hon. Member in the House was consequently very apposite at the present moment. He was aware that that hon. Member was completely at issue with the right hon. Gentleman who had brought forward this Motion with regard to Mr. Huskisson's measures, inasmuch as he did not believe, with the right hon. Gentleman, that they were wise and conservative measures. The hon. Member, he believed, concurred with the Shipowners' Society that they were bad measures, although he did not see that the hon. Member could well claim the character of a prophet for the society after reading the following extract:—The long-continued and still existing depression of the shipping interest, the partial production and great aggravation of distress caused by continual changes in our navigation system, the utter impossibility of the successful maintenance of an unrestricted competition with foreign navigation, the gross injustice of the imposition of pe- 1414 culiar and exclusive burdens on maritime commerce for purposes purely national, while exposed to that competition, the declining quality and estimation of British tonnage, the embarrassment, decay, and ruin of the British shipowner, may now be viewed as incontrovertible positions.Could anything be more melancholy than this prediction? Well, what had been the result? At the time that this report was published, the number of British registered vessels was 24,385, and the quantity of tonnage 2,634,000. In 1850 the number of ships was 34,281, and the tonnage 4,232,962. So that since the time when that great authority, the General Shipowners' Society, asserted that the trade was irretrievably ruined, that it was for ever doomed and destroyed, and that it was impossible to hold out against foreign competition, the mercantile tonnage had increased more than 1,500,000 tons. Again, in 1830 the number of registered seamen was 154,812; whereas in 1850 the number was 225,180. So much for the predictions of the General Shipowners' Society as to the utter ruin and decay which had fallen upon their trade. He would trouble the House with but one more instance of the predictions of the shipowners of that time, and it was one which he quoted the more willingly, because it referred to a debate in the House of Commons, in which the right hon. Gentleman who had brought forward the Motion tonight, and who at the period in question filled the situation of President of the Board of Trade, took a distinguished part—not precisely the same part as he had taken on this occasion, but in truth it was one of a totally opposite description. At that time a very worthy Member of the House, a respectable and consistent politician, but not in his (Mr. Labouchere's) opinion, a high authority on mercantile affairs—he meant Mr. Alderman Waithman, presented a petition from the shipowners of London, complaining, just as the right hon. Gentleman had done to-night, of the utter ruin and decay of the shipping trade. Mr. Alderman Waithman said—The petitioners complained of the heavy grievance they suffered from being obliged to enter into competition with the shipping of other countries not so heavily taxed as this country.He then quoted from the petition:—The petitioners approach your honourable House, to represent that in the general distress which affects all classes of the empire, there exists none more intense and unmitigated than that of the shipowners, and pray that the Legislature will grant them that encouragement and protection from foreign competition, the withdrawal of 1415 which, by the alteration in the navigation and colonial laws, and entering into the treaties of reciprocity, have reduced the capital of your petitioners to nearly one-half of its former value, and have reduced freights to so low a rate as not to leave any remuneration for the capital of your petitioners, even in its diminished value." [2 Hansard, xxiv. 453.]And afterwards—Your petitioners are aware that the coasting and the direct colonial trades are still reserved; but from this reserve British shipping derives no support as regards remuneration, as the foreign tonnage admitted into the freight market levels all freights to the same standard of depression; and so eager were shipowners to escape from the evils of the reciprocity system in the European trades, that the Indian and all other seas have been crowded with British vessels in search of employment, and the same ruinous consequences have followed to the most distant parts of the globe." [Ibid. 456.]Really this was very like the picture which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had drawn to-night. Not only the home trade, but the Indian and distant trade, was said to be ruined, and nothing but disaster and loss was before them in consequence of Mr. Huskisson's measures. What was the right hon. Gentleman's reply? The right hon. Gentleman read a statement showing the increase of tonnage which had taken place, and said that it was not easy to suppose that men of sense and business would go on investing so much capital in a trade that was decaying—which was in fact utterly ruined. In short, the right hon. Gentleman used very much the same sort of arguments as he (Mr. Labouchere) should feel it to be his duty to lay before the House in the course of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted to-night from American Protectionist authorities in support of his views. America, he (Mr. Labouchere) admitted, contained many enlightened statesmen, whose opinions were valuable on all the great subjects of legislation; but at the period in question, the right hon. Gentleman quoted Americans of a different school from those which his modem leanings led him to peruse. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply to Mr. Alderman Waithman, said—He would pursue this subject no further, but he would strongly recommend to hon. Members the perusal of Mr. Cambreleng's admirable report to the American Congress from the Committee on commerce and navigation. After describing, in the most able and perspicuous manner, the advantages which Great Britain had derived from the adoption of a liberal commercial policy, the report went on to say, 'These fundamental changes in her policy have regenerated the British empire, given a wide range to her commerce, and an active impulse to her power and resources, infinitely more beneficial to that nation than any questionable honour she might have acquired in an at- 1416 tempt to limit the boundaries of an empire reaching through half the longitude of the globe, or in any alliance to perpetuate the dominion of an unenlightened and absolute Government over the commerce of nations with the rich countries of the Euxine." [2 Hansard, xxiv. 472.]The right hon. Gentleman, in continuation, said—He had, therefore, felt it necessary to call upon the House to weigh the proofs which he had adduced of the increasing employment and activity of our shipping with the assertions of its embarrassment and ruin. He was persuaded that the statement which he had made would indispose the House to listen in future to vague assertions hostile to our commercial policy." [Ibid.]It would be his (Mr. Labouchere's) duty to lay before the House such statements as he trusted would convince the House that they had no reason to regret the course they had pursued; that while they had wisely extended the general commerce of the world, while they had fostered and encouraged the noble art of shipbuilding and the shipping trade generally in every quarter of the world, our own shipbuilders, shipowners, and sailors, had reaped their full share of this general benefit. He would endeavour to demonstrate, in the first place, the general extension of the commerce of the country since the change in the Navigation Laws. He would then show that British shipping had derived its full share of the benefit of this extension of their commerce. And lastly, he would show that British shipbuilders had not been injured by the alteration in the Navigation Laws now impugned by the right hon. Gentleman. If he was able to lay before the House evidence in confirmation of these three positions, he thought the House would agree with him that they had no reason to regret the policy which they had adopted. With respect to the increase of the general commerce of the country, it would not be necessary to detain the House at any length, because it was not pretended that the general commerce had suffered from the change. What was said was, that the foreigner had reaped the great benefit of this extension, and that the benefit of the consumer had been promoted at the expense of the shipping interest. He would therefore only call the attention of the House to the total employment of shipping, both British and foreign, in the foreign trade of the United Kingdom. In 1848 the total tonnage employed in the foreign trade of this country, both inwards and outwards, was 10,630,698; in 1841 it was 11,501,177; in 1850 it was 12,020,674; showing an 1417 increase in 1850 over 1848 of 1,389,976, and over 1849 of 519,497. But they were told that that increase had been purchased at the expense of their own shipping, and that they had been fostering the foreign shipowner at the expense of the British shipowner. That argument was made to rest almost entirely upon the fact of there having been a trifling diminution in the employment of British tonnage in the year 1850 as compared with the year 1849. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries) had said that this loss had gone to the gain of the United States; but what would the right hon. Gentleman say if it should turn out that there had been a corresponding decrease in the employment of the shipping of the United States? On the authority of the United States Government they found it stated that there had been a positive decrease in the national tonnage. He (Mr. Labouchere). should not only be able to show that that was the case, but he should show also that there had been a new source of trade thrown open, which had occupied a greater quantity of British shipping elsewhere than the amount of any decrease that had taken place in the employment of British shipping in our own colonies. He would proceed to demonstrate these two propositions. The increase which had taken place in British shipping outwards in the year 1850, as compared with the year 1849, was 198,582 tons, and the decrease of British shipping inwards during the same period was 311,831 tons—making the balance of loss 113,000 tons. That was the whole amount of loss between the years 1849 and 1850. But those who considered the altered circumstances brought about by the change of the law, would not he surprised at this result. Ships that formerly left the British ports, and which, in many instances, returned home in ballast, were now, since the repeal of the Navigation Laws, profitably employed in other countries. That would at once account for the deficiency which so much alarmed the right hon. Gentleman. It would, he was sure, be some consolation to the right hon. Gentleman to know that he had returns for the last six months, which showed that they were fast bringing up their leeway, even in this particular. By an account for the six months ending on the 5th of July, 1850, and the six months ending the 5th of July, 1851, the amount of British shipping entered inwards, exclusive of ships in ballast, for 1418 the first period was 1,600,000 tons, and for the year 1851 was 1,700,000 tons; and for the same period of six months the amount of British shipping entered outwards in 1850 was 1,977,000 tons, and in 1851 the amount was 2,090,000 tons, making an increase in the first six months of 1851 beyond the corresponding six months of 1850, of about 113,000 tons. He had a similar return of the comparative increase for the same two periods of foreign shipping. He would now proceed to show what had been the case with regard to the shipping of the United States. By the returns it would appear that there had been a similar decrease in the amount of tonnage in the shipping of the United States as had taken place in the British ports with regard to British shipping. By the trade and navigation accounts of the United States of America for the year to the 5th of June, 1850, it appeared there were—
ENTRIES INWARDS. United States ships. Foreign ships. To Tons. Tons. 5th June, 1849 2,753,724 1,675,709 5th June, 1850 2,832,788 1,728,214 Decrease, 1850. 120,956 Increase 52,505
The right hon. Gentleman had expressed much alarm at the number of foreign ships which came into this country; but it was thus shown that British ships had returned the visits of those foreign vessels, and that this country had had the same advantage with regard to foreign ports, which other countries had had with regard to the British ports. This being the case, it might be asked, who had been the gainers by the alteration of the Navigation Laws? His answer was, not that this country had gained at the expense of any other country, not that England had gained at the expense of the United States, or the United States at the expense of England, but that all nations had been gainers by the removal of these absurd restrictions, which were profitable no one; that the general commerce of the world had been expanded and improved by the new system; and that those ships that used formerly to sail about in ballast were now profitably employed to the equal benefit of all countries. There was a document which had often been adverted to as a test of the state of one portion of our 1419 mercantile prosperity, he meant an account of the Sound dues, which was always admitted as affording a very sufficient test in regard to the Baltic trade. He held in his hand a statement of the number and tonnage of vessels which passed the Sound, distinguishing British and foreign, and showing the proportion the British tonnage bore to the total in each year, from 1820 to 1849, but he would only refer to the last three years. In 1848, 1849, and 1850, there had been more British ships employed in the Baltic trade than at any former period. He found that the proportion of British ships to foreign ships was larger in those years, not only with regard to the great trade of the world, but with regard to the Baltic trade, which was a peculiar subject of anxiety with some, though he believed there was no reason to apprehend that any injury had been done to the British merchant by the recent alterations in regard to that branch of trade. He found, for instance, that in 1832 the proportion of British shipping to foreign shipping was 324 out of 1,000; the total tonnage which passed the Sound being, British 592,833 tons, and foreign 1,237,878. The proportion of British shipping to total shipping in 1848 was 438 out of 1,000; in 1849 it was 398 out of 1,000; and in 1850 it was 391 out of 1,000; being a small diminution from the proportion in the year 1849. British tonnage in the same period was, in 1848, 1,157,000 tons; in 1849 it was 1,183,000 tons; in 1850, 1,939,000 tons. He held in his hand an account of the East India and China Association, and the tonnage cleared within the limits of the East India Charter was, in 1848, inwards, 387,000 tons; outwards, 453,000. In 1849, inwards, 406,000 tons; outwards, 522,000. In 1850, inwards, 442,000; outwards, 562,000 tons, being an increase of nearly 25 per cent. He thought it was plain therefore, that, far from British ships having being driven out of the East India trade, they were at present pursuing a flourishing business in that department of commerce. He now came to a very important part of this subject, which the right on. Gentleman had passed over altogether. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to attach scarcely any importance to what he (Mr. Labouchere) conceived to be entitled to the greatest consideration, namely, the new channels of trade which had been opened to British enterprise by the change in the Navigation Laws. He was not in a condition to produce complete statistics 1420 to the House on the subject. He could only show some few instances of the important benefits which had been conferred upon British shipping by the new trades that had been thrown open to it. He had some accounts from the United States upon this subject, which he was the more anxious to quote because he thought the jealousy of the right hon. Gentleman was directed almost entirely against the United States, who were undoubtedly our most formidable rivals. It appeared from the return in his hands that in the first six months of the year 1850, 213 British ships, of 68,000 tons burden, entered foreign ports from a third country—thus taking new voyages, which they could not have done before the doing away with those absurd and antiquated restrictions. The British shipping accounts in the ports of the United States alone showed an increase more than corresponding with the decrease which had been made so much of by the right hon. Gentleman. The British Consul at Philadelphia, in a despatch of the 12th of May, 1851, stated that out of 111 British ships entering the port in 1850, eighteen came from a third country, which they could not have done before the repeal of the Navigation Laws. In the first four months of 1851, out of fifty British vessels entering Philadelphia, fifteen brought cargoes from foreign ports, namely, Cuba, Porto Rico, Pernambuco, Cadiz, and Palermo. He added—
CLEARANCES OUTWARDS. United States ships. Foreign ships. To Tons. Tons. 5th June, 1849 2,658,321 1,710,515 5th June, 1850 2,573,016 1,775,623 Decrease, 1850. 85,305 Increase 65,108Vessels from British America, which, after disposing of their cargoes of fish in the West Indies, generally came to this country in ballast, now bring sugar and molasses, and then return homewards with cargoes of breadstuffs.He thought the House would at once see how important the new trade was which had been given to the British shipping, by doing away with the absurd restrictions upon our trading with the United States. He could multiply cases, but he considered it unnecessary for him to do so. He could read accounts from Hong-Kong, Australia, and from other parts of the world; but he should refrain from troubling the House with them: one word, however, he must say about California. But for the change in the Navigation Laws our commerce would have been put in a most invidious position in regard to that country; not only with respect to our direct trade with California, but as it affected the great stocks of goods possessed by British subjects in that newly-formed State. The British ships which were in the port of San Francisco, and 1421 the vast quantity of goods belonging to our merchants there, would have been jeopardised if this country had not relaxed her Navigation Laws. Again, with regard to the effects produced on the interests of Australia, he saw it stated in a Californian newspaper that in the short space of one month no less than eighteen ships had arrived from Australia with cargoes for San Francisco. This was in itself a very important opening to British commerce, and he hoped the House would consider this statement before it listened to the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, and come to the conclusion that the recent measures of the Government had been at all injurious to British commerce and British shipping. The right hon. Gentleman had laid great stress upon the fall that had taken place in freights; but if the right hon. Gentleman would look back he would see that freights had been gradually falling for a number of years past; and that even if a loss should accrue to the shipowners, yet if upon the whole it was for the general benefit, he thought the measure which produced such a result ought not to be impugned. But he would remind the House further, that, in consequence of the change in the Navigation Laws, the shipowners could afford a reduction in freights, for they were no longer obliged to send their ships round half the World in ballast, when of course freights were charged at a rate to pay for this loss of time; but now that vessels were allowed to carry cargoes from one port or one country to another, this loss was no longer incurred, and the freights could afford to be lowered. The cost of shipbuilding had also considerably decreased. He held in his hand a document furnished to him by a shipowner of high respectability, stating the cost of building a ship in Sunderland in 1847, and the cost of building one in the year 1851. By that statement it appeared that an A 1 ship built for twelve years cost at Sunderland, in 1847, 18l. a ton, and in 1851, 14l. 10s. a ton; and that there was a corresponding reduction in the cost of building ships of an inferior description. Having thus attempted to prove—first, that the general interests of commerce had not suffered from the alteration of the law; and, secondly, that the British shipowners had not suffered—he would now proceed to the third and very important part of the subject—namely, the case of the British shipbuilder. He thought the present state of 1422 the shipbuilding interest not only showed that there was no danger of the noble art of shipbuilding being banished from our shores, but farther, it proved that the shipping interest could not be in a state of ruin and decay. They had been told again and again that the British shipowner would purchase foreign-built ships as being cheaper than British-built vessels. All he could say upon this subject was, that since the British shipowner had been free to buy and to build his ships in any part of the world he chose, no more than 10,000 tons of foreign ships were registered in 1850; and that during the first three months of 1851 no more than 511 tons had been registered. So that the number of foreign vessels built or owned by Englishmen was positively decreasing. So much with regard to the United Kingdom. What was the case with regard to our colonies? In 1850 about 8,000 tons of foreign-built ships were registered; of these one-half were at Malta. And why did the Maltese purchase foreign ships? Simply because Malta was not a favourable place for shipbuilding, and because they could obtain them more easily from their Greek and Italian neighbours.
An HON. MEMBER
here moved that the House be counted, and strangers were ordered to withdraw, but it was found that forty Members were present.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
resumed. He had taken some pains to inquire into the branch of the subject to which he was referring when the interruption took place, and he ventured to assert, without fear of contradiction, that, generally speaking, the building and repairing business was in a state of great and unusual activity. By a return which he held in his hand, he found that the number of ships built and registered in the United Kingdom in 1848 was 847, measuring 122,000 tons; in 1849 the number built was 730, the tonnage 117,000; in 1850 the number was 689, and the tonnage 133,000. The return from which he was reading furnished an explanation of the circumstance for which the right hon. Gentleman had professed himself unable to account, namely, the decreased number of ships registered at Lloyd's. The return showed, that although the number of ships built last year was less than in previous years, the average amount of tonnage was larger. The average tonnage of each ship registered in 1848 was 145; in 1849 it was 161; and in 1850 it was 194. Take the case of 1423 Sunderland—the greatest shipbuilding port in the world. No one connected with or knowing anything of Sunderland, would deny that during the last year the shipbuilding business there had been in a state of unprecedented activity. It was a fact that in 1850 there had been more ships built at Sunderland, and better built, than at any period since it was a shipbuilding port. In proof of the correctness of that statement, he would read an article published in a respectable local paper, which, of course, would not venture to hazard unfounded assertions that would meet with contradiction on the instant:—Our local readers will be glad to see, from the accounts of the shipbuilding of the port which we publish below, that year 1850 has not brought that ruin to the trade which we were led to anticipate from the prophecies of Mr. Richmond and those who took the same lugubrious view of the consequences of repealing the Navigation Laws. On the contrary, the year 1850 exhibits a large increase in the number of ships and amount of tonnage over any of the last ten years. We find an increase not very far short of 10,000 tons over 1849, and one of upwards of 15,000 over 1848. And, along with an increase in the number of vessels built on the Wear, we may point with pride to their daily improving character, both as respects model and tonnage. Sunderland ships are appreciated out of port, and almost as many were disposed of during 1850 out of Sunderland as in it. We have heard of sailing feats of Sunderland craft that are equal to anything that has been achieved by the cracks of London or the Isle of Wight yards. And we have no fear that with continued attention on the part of our builders to the qualities of their stuff and the perfection of their models, Sunderland will hold her own with any shipbuilding port of the world. Of course alarmists will point to the increase in the shipbuilding of New York in 1860, and will at once claim the difference between the 38,095 tons launched in 1849, and the 51,526 launched in 1850, as due to the encouragement to American building and the discouragement of British, caused by the repeal of the navigation laws. Unfortunately for this theory, New York is, of all our rivals, the one where the cost of shipbuilding most nearly equals that in our own ports. Indeed, with such a reduction in timber as we trust to see at no distant day, we could build cheaper here than at New York. But the increase, both on this and the other side of the Atlantic, is really attributable to a very much more encouraging reason; and that is the great activity of commerce, consequent, in a principal degree, on the repeal of restrictive laws and the opening of new markets.Then followed a statement of the ships built at Sunderland during the last four years:—
1424 From this it will be seen that shipbuilding has thriven during the year just closed, in an unprecedented degree. In consequence of complaints which had been made respecting the shipbuilding trade of the port of London, the Surveyor General of the Customs had been directed to obtain as accurate information as he could on the subject. On application being made to the shipbuilders by that officer, they all, with one exception, readily supplied him with fall the information in their power. The following was a summary of the information given by the shipbuilders:—
Launched. On the Stocks. Aggregate Tonnage. January 1, 1847 39,018 29,870 68,888 — 1848 36,649 15,710 52,359 — 1849 38,085 23,896 61,975 — 1850 51,526 28,516 80,042 Now on the stocks … 32,009Return of sea-going vessels built in the port of London in 1848, 1849, 1850, as given by the proprietors of yards (with the exception of one who refused). This statement includes those built on foreign account, which are not registered. This last branch of business is fast increasing, especially in iron steamers:—
We used, it was true, to talk of wooden walls of Old England, but we should soon find it necessary to boast of her iron walls, for that metal was fast superseding wood both in the mercantile and naval marine. It might be said, too, that many of the vessels referred to in the document which he had read were built not for our merchants, but for foreigners and great companies who were under contract to carry the mails. That objection might have some weight if applied to the case of shipowners, but it had none when directed to the case of shipbuilders. Foreigners and great companies would go where they could get their ships built at the cheapest rate. If they could get them made more cheaply at New York or Bremen than in the Clyde or Thames, they would go to the former places. It ought to be deemed a gratifying fact that our shipbuilders were employed not only to supply our own commerce with vessels, but to build for foreigners who came to this country as the cheapest market. It was, therefore, evident that we needed not to dread competition in the article of shipbuilding. Not only had a greater amount of tonnage been turned out last year, but the ships 1425 built were of better quality than formerly. From all sides he received accounts of increased science being applied to the building of ships—of efforts made to obtain the best workmen, and of general improvement in the business. A letter, bearing on this point, written by a most respectable shipowner of Liverpool, had been put into his hands by a Member of the House, and he would take the liberty of reading a passage from it:—
Ships. Tonnage. 1848 Iron 3 1,354 — Wood 7 3,088 Total 10 4,442 1849 Iron 7 1,654 — Wood 10 5,703 Total 17 7,357 1850 Iron 13 4,562 — Wood 17 9,935 Total 30 14,497Speaking generally, we fancy that there can be no doubt that the repeal has given an immense impetus to the trade. A conviction has become general that if the English builder is to maintain his position, he must hold it by means of scientific application. The 'Rule of Thumb' was previously almost the only rule acknowledged in a shipyard. A vast deal more attention is now given to the sources of mathematical and mechanical knowledge, and that is taking place which in this country seems always the sign of the elevation of a trade or profession, namely, the application to it of the educated and higher classes. But a year or two ago, a shipbuilder was looked upon as a mere mechanic. All that seems suddenly changed, and it is a curious thing to see how many of the educated classes are just now seeking out the means of making their children into shipbuilders.He now came to the only part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which really applied to the Motion. For he must remark that a great portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech had little or no reference to the Motion which he had brought forward. Supposing the shipping interest were actually suffering as the right hon. Gentleman represented them to be, the obvious course to take would be the reversal of the policy recently adopted. Before, however, dealing with the question of reciprocity, he must be permitted to observe that it was unfair to exclude altogether from the consideration of this question the evils which had been averted as well as the benefits obtained by the course of commercial policy recently adopted. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that it would have been impossible for us to remain in the position we occupied before the change in the Navigation Laws. It was as necessary for our own interest that the Navigation Laws should be repealed in 1849 as it was to make the great change in our commercial code effected by Mr. Huskisson upwards of twenty years previously. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to treat the threats held out by Prussia and other foreign countries to retaliate a restrictive system on us if we had persisted in maintaining ours, as an immaterial affair; but what would have been the 1426 state of our commerce if Sweden, Prussia, the German States, and Russia had adopted retaliatory measures towards us? Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that the loss of the indirect trade with the northern ports, would have been but of trifling consequence to us? What was the state of the law before the change took place? We prevented Prussian and Russian ships from bringing sugar from Rio to this country, while those great Powers allowed English vessels to carry sugar from Rio to St. Peters burgh and Dantsic. Prussia told us she would adopt retaliatory measures, and Russia intimated that she would take the same course as soon as our treaty with her expired; and it had only two years to run. It was a mere shirking of the question not to take these matters into consideration. It could not be concealed that the time had arrived when we were called upon by matters of self-interest even to adopt a more liberal course of policy, and not to wait a few years, and then be driven reluctantly to resort to it by the retaliatory proceedings of foreign countries. Let the House now see what had followed on the relaxation of the Navigation Laws. An attempt had been made to make the most of every refusal of reciprocity; but no man could look at the whole question without seeing that enormous progress had been made. With all the great maritime nations of the world they were now on a footing of substantial equality. The Baltic Powers had got rid of their restrictions. [Mr. HERRIES: They have nothing to give us in return.] The right hon. Gentleman said, that those Powers had nothing to give us; but they had a good deal to take away, and they would have done so if we had not averted the danger by the wise and dignified course we adopted. As regarded Holland, we had obtained important advantages, the Dutch Government having placed our vessels on the same footing as their own generally. It was true, as the right hon. Gentleman had observed, there existed a monopoly in Holland called the "Maatschappij," but there was reason to believe that the Dutch Government would be, glad to get rid of it. A short time since a letter appeared in the Times, written by the gentleman whom the right hon. Gentleman had named, Mr. Lindsay, in which "Maatschappij" was treated of. It was true that, greatly to his surprise, he saw another letter from Mr. Lindsay in the Times, in which he complained bitterly of the "Maatschappij," 1427 because, in his previous letter, he spoke of it as injurious only to Holland. Mr. Lindsay, in his first letter, clearly pointed out the evil effects of monopoly. He said—To encourage the construction of vessels suited to the trade between that country and their valuable colony, Java, the Dutch East India Company imposed high differential duties, and gave a bonus in the shape of exorbitant freights in favour of vessels so constructed. The country, of course, paid for this, and in the progress of time the shipowners themselves, who derived the supposed benefits, were the principal contributors, as almost every man in Holland had become a shipowner. At last so many vessels were created, that the company were compelled to reduce their original standard rate of freight full one-half, and even at the reduced rate, which is now, I believe, about 5l. 10s. per ton, the shipowners are obliged to keep their vessels in port often 12 and 18 months before it is their 'turn' to be employed. The consequences are apparent. The consumer complains at having to pay 5l. 10s. per ton for his sugar and coffee, when it might be brought to him for 2l. 10s. The shipowner complains at having to wait 18 months, and sail his ship 12 months, in all two years and a half, before he can earn 5l. 10s., when, with an open trade, he might earn twice 3l. 10s. in less time. I need not remark that such a state of things cannot long exist, even iii Holland, wedded, as the excellent people of that country are, to old prejudices and customs.Since the repeal of the Navigation Laws, we bad made an advantageous treaty with Sardinia—a treaty equally beneficial to both contracting parties, as a commercial treaty ought to be. It was a treaty worthy of the distinguished statesman who was at present at the head of affairs in Sardinia, and whose enlightened policy both with respect to commerce and with respect to general affairs, was calculated to be of great benefit to his country. By it we obtained not only reciprocity as regarded our shipping, but admission for our manufactures at low rates of duty into Sardinia. He was told that the United States had completely taken us in, because, forsooth, they had not thrown open to British ships the trade between the eastern ports of the Union and the ports of California. Now he would speak frankly to the House. He thought it would have been worthy of a great country like the United States not to stand upon technicalities, and to distinguish between the coasting trade and voyages of such great length as that to California; but at the same time he must admit there were great difficulties in the way, and it was not like the other conventions, which could be made by an act of the Executive Government, but it would have required an application to Congress for an act which Would have been at variance 1428 with the general policy of the Union. He thought further that the importance of this trade had been much exaggerated; and though it was true that at this time freights were extremely high, yet, in the long run, these freights would find their level, so that the freights between the eastern ports and California would not be higher than the general rates. When we were told to imitate the example of the United States, he supposed it was meant we should retaliate and prevent the United States trading with our colonies. He held that would be really punishing our colonies for the conduct of the United States. One of the main objects of abolishing the restrictions of the Navigation Laws was to benefit our colonies, and trade had been greatly improved thereby. Whilst the result had been generally successful, he was compelled to admit that there had been three exceptions—France, Spain, and Belgium. He was precluded from entering on the subject as fully as he should wish, there being still negotiations going on. Those negotiations had been more protracted than he had expected, and he could only now state to the House he confidently hoped from them important results would follow, beneficial not only to the trade of this country, but equally so to the trade of those countries with which they were in communication, and whose trade he heartily desired, for the common benefit of all, to see flourish and increase. But when French authorities were quoted against him—when the right hon. Gentleman read extracts from French documents, to show the opinion of the French public on the course of legislation in this country—desiring to speak of that nation with every respect, yet he could not help observing that, in the matter of commercial legislation, in the matter of fostering and encouraging their mercantile marine, it was not to France we should go for any very valuable opinions. If he wished to point to the effects of restriction and monopoly, as applied to the shipping trade of any country, he would point to France, who, with an industrious and ingenious people, with a large extent of coast, with valuable harbours, and with all the advantages necessary to become a great mercantile and shipping nation, had—not to say diminished, but, in comparison to what it might have done, had—absolutely destroyed and annihilated its mercantile marine, for at this moment she did not possess a single merchant vessel of above 600 tons burden. She had excluded her- 1429 self from the great commerce of the world. It was impossible, with this system of restriction and monopoly, she could obtain her share in that commerce. The whole system was absolutely inconsistent with the progress arid development, in times like these, of any mercantile marine, and he would quote a French authority in support of that opinion. A report published by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce in 1847, contained the following passage:—It is necessary that we should not deceive ourselves. The net of prohibitive, protective, and differential duties in different scales, which form the inexplicable labyrinth of our Customs' legislation, are the cause of decay and the source of 'death' to the navy.The intention of the Motion before the House was that this country should imitate every absurd restriction which a foreign Power might think proper to impose on our shipping; for instance, if Spain should exclude our vessels from Cuba, we must exclude Spanish vessels from Trinidad, and thus stop a trade beneficial to ourselves. That was the policy the right hon. Gentleman wished us to adopt. [Mr. HERRIES: No!] The terms of the Motion would show the object. [The right hon. Gentleman here read the Motion.]
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
That might be; but if that Motion were carried by an Address to the Crown, the provisions of the Act must be put in force in all cases. He might be asked, and he had been asked, what was the intention of giving this power to the Crown? Was it meant to be a dead letter? He still retained the opinion that this power ought to be preserved to the British Crown, to be exercised on any suitable occasion. He drew a wide distinction between the conduct of a foreign State that merely treated this country as it treated all other foreign countries, and one which single d out this country as the object of exclusion. Supposing the case—which he was I happy to say there was no ground for supposing—that the United States had singled out England as the object of restriction and exclusion, then it would be proper to consider whether we ought not to resort to this retaliatory power. But no foreign country had shown any such disposition. He believed there was no foreign country that had not treated us the same as the most favoured foreign nation, and he had shown that, as we had relaxed our general laws with regard to our mercantile marine, they 1430 had relaxed their general laws. He had already stated that he believed great improvements were taking place in the building of our ships, and in other points regarding our mercantile marine; and there was another subject to which he had always attached the greatest importance, and as to which there appeared every prospect of very great and signal improvements. He had frequently stated to the House his conviction that there were among the commanders and officers of British merchant vessels, many persons who were improperly intrusted with the charge of such vessels, and that great evils ensued to the merchant service from that circumstance. The House had last year adopted a measure which established a system of examination with a view of insuring a certain degree of professional knowledge on the part of those to whose charge so large an amount of property and so many human lives were intrusted. That system had now been in operation some time, and was already producing the most beneficial results. Since the 1st of January, 1851, 1,304 masters and mates had passed their examination; 269 failed on their first examination, but most of them passed creditably afterwards, having acquired the requisite knowledge subsequently to their first unsuccessful examination. Mr. Towson, the examiner at Liverpool, who was the author of several valuable works, stated the other day, that in that port several classes for nautical instruction had been established, and that very few failures had taken place, the masters and mates having perfected themselves in navigation and practical astronomy before they presented themselves for examination. He (Mr. Labouchere) thought, then, it was evident that this measure was improving the qualifications of those who were intrusted with the command of merchant vessels, and who exerted themselves to obtain that professional information so important to commanders of ships, and that it was leading to the establishment of schools of naval instruction in different ports of the kingdom. He trusted he had succeeded in proving, that while commerce generally had been fostered and encouraged by the alterations that had been made in the Navigation Laws, there was not the least reason to suppose that British navigation had not fully shared in the benefits of that prosperity. He trusted he had also demonstrated, beyond the possibility of contradiction, that so far from British shipbuilding having decayed, there never was 1431 a period at which both its present condition and future prospects were better and more encouraging. He did not believe there was the least reason for apprehending that our shipowners and sailors would be worsted upon their own element. The right hon. Gentleman had complained that our merchant ships were not allowed to take foreign sailors as the whole of their crew. The law at present allowed one-fourth of the crew of every British ship to be foreigners, the remaining three-fourths being of British origin. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he was not prepared to say that he thought a ship ought to enjoy the privileges of a British vessel if she had not a British sailor on board; and on that point he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not think the House would be disposed to allow a ship to enjoy the character of a British vessel, to carry the British flag at her masthead, and to claim the protection of the British nation for her cargo, while she was commanded by a foreigner, manned by foreigners, and, it might be, never came near the British coast at ull. But he must deny that the regulation constituted a practical grievance to the shipowner. If it was a grievance, our rivals of the United States of America had a similar law—one, indeed, rather more stringent, for their vessels were required to have two-thirds of American seamen, to one-third of foreigners. He might observe, however, that the American shipowners, who could take the seamen of any nation in the world, almost invariably preferred British sailors. He believed the British sailor was cheaper as well as better than the sailor of any other nation; and even if this distinction were thrown down, he had no fear that our shipowners would man their vessels with foreigners; but cases of fraud might occur, and ships which were really foreign might be enabled to avail themselves of the privileges of British ships. If the House believed that the policy the Government had pursued had been successful for the past, he trusted they would not come to any resolution which would interfere with its maintenance for the future. For his own part, he did not entertain the least apprehension as to the future prospects of the mercantile navy of this country, under that system of competition which was now thrown open to all the nations of the world. He could not understand why, if British energy was able, in all the articles of manufacture and industry, to compete with foreign nations, it 1432 should not also, with a fair field and no favour, be able to compete in the business of shipowning and shipbuilding with every nation of the world. He did not believe that the slightest ground had been laid before the House to lead them to an opposite conclusion. With regard to the Motion itself, he held that it would pledge the House to a most impolitic course—it would express an opinion that in our conduct with regard to foreign Powers we were not to be guided by a well-considered and well-understood sense of our own interest, but that in a mere spirit of retaliation we should imitate every absurd restriction which it might please any foreign Power to put upon our vessels in common with foreign vessels from Cither parts of the world. He held that such a policy would be utterly unworthy of the Parliament and people of this country, and on these grounds he confidently asked the House to reject the Motion.
§ MR. G. F. YOUNG
said, he hoped he would not be considered as violating the rules of that House, to which he was most anxious to conform up on all occasions, if he should venture to commence his observations by expressing his acknowledgments of the manner in which he had been received on his reappearance in a place which was associated with many of the most touching recollections of his life. He had next to state, that as he had for some time been called upon to take a position more prominent than was consistent with his own wishes in the discussion of commercial matters, he trusted the House would believe, that in claiming at that moment their notice, he was not actuated by any desire to rush precipitately into their debates. The fact that that particular discussion related to a question with which he had been identified throughout his whole life, would, he hoped, be a sufficient apology for his then intruding on the attention of the House. He should proceed at once to address himself to the question then under their consideration, and, in doing so, he should take the liberty of following as closely as he could the remarks which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House. The right hon. Gentleman had commenced his speech by assuming a position which ought, in his (Mr. Young's) opinion, to have been first of all established by some statement of facts. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that if a certain degree of difficulty or depression prevailed at present among 1433 the shipping interest, it was quite certain that that evil could only be temporary and evanescent, because the shipping interest must participate in the general prosperity of the country. Now they had recently had strong reason for believing that that was a very unsatisfactory mode of treating a question of that description. At the commencement of the present Session that was precisely the species of anodyne which it had been attempted to administer to the depressed agricultural interest, when they had been told that although the existence of distress among them could not be denied, they must soon be relieved from it by a participation in the general prosperity of the country. He would not at that moment enter into that question, because he would thereby be departing from the subject under the immediate consideration of the House. But he would venture respectfully to state that he utterly and entirely denied that proposition on which the right hon. Gentleman had based his subsequent reasoning, namely, that any general prosperity did exist. He believed that it did not exist, either in the agricultural, the colonial, or the shipping interest, but that the very reverse existed; and he had great doubts whether that vaunted prosperity really did exist even with respect to the manufacturing interest. The right hon. Gentleman had made a facetious allusion to that spirit of enterprise and energy displayed by the shipping interest, and he had said that, in the gloomy tone in which they approached the Legislature, "their voice was the voice of Jacob," while, in the energy of their proceedings, they manifested the "hands of Esau." But the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten to remind the House that Esau had lost his inheritance; and he (Mr. Young) should say, that he doubted whether any exercise of enterprise on the part of the shipping interest of this country could, under the withering influence of our present maritime system, raise it from the state of depression in which it was placed. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to state that the results which had attended the reciprocity treaties of Mr. Huskisson would attend the policy which the present Government had adopted, and which was founded on the same principle. But he (Mr. Young) trusted that the right hon. Gentleman might be mistaken on that point, as well for the sake of the right hon. Gentleman himself, as for the sake of the great shipping interest of this country. 1434 The right hon. Gentleman had told them, that in consequence of the adoption of the system of reciprocity treaties introduced by Mr. Huskisson, the British tonnage had very greatly increased. But he (Mr. Young) thought that the right hon. Gentleman laboured under a misconception in that case. The British tonnage had undoubtedly increased under the system of reciprocity treaties; but he believed he should be able to show that, not only had no increase taken place in our trade with those countries with which we had entered into reciprocity treaties, but that our trade with them had declined, while our trade with those countries with which we had had no such treaties of reciprocity, had become greatly augmented. The treaty of peace with the United States in the year 1815, contained for the first time the principle of a reciprocity treaty, which had afterwards been developed and extended by Mr. Huskisson in the year 1826. The following figures would illustrate his position upon that point. The reciprocity treaty with the United States was really the treaty of peace which was concluded in 1815:—In 1816, the British entries from that country were 45,140 tons; and in 1824, when reciprocity had been in operation nine years, 44,994 tons; British tonnage having in that period declined 146 tons.In 1816, the entries of American tonnage were 91,914 tons; and in 1824 they were 153,475 tons; American tonnage having in that period increased 61,561 tons.During this period no reciprocity existed with the Baltic Powers.In 1815 the British entries from those countries were 78,533 tons; and in 1824 they were 129,895 tons; British tonnage having in that period increased 51,362 tons.In 1815 the entries of Baltic tonnage were 319,181 tons; and in 1824 they were 350,624 tons; Baltic tonnage having in that period increased 31,443 tons; showing an excess of British over Baltic of 19,919 tons.In 1824 reciprocity was extended to the Baltic States, and in that year British entries were 129,895 tons; and in 1850, reciprocity having been 26 years in operation, they were 223,474 tons; British entries having in that period increased 93,579 tons.In 1824, the entries of Baltic tonnage were 350,624 tons; and in 1850, under reciprocity, they were 595,821 tons; Baltic tonnage having in that period increased 245,197 tons; showing an excess of Baltic over British of 151,618 tons.And in 1850, British entries from America were 293,523 tons; and in 1850 American entries were 565,881 tons; showing excess of American over British of 272,358 tons.In 1815 the tonnage belonging to this country was 2,681,276 tons; in 1849 it was 4,144,115 1435 tons; showing an increase of 1,462,839 tons, or 54 5–10 per cent.In 1815, the tonnage belonging to the United States was 1,368,127 tons; in 1849, it was 3,535,454 tons; showing an increase of 2,167,327 tons, or 158 9–10 per cent.It appeared to him, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in his statement that the adoption of the principle of reciprocity would necessarily advance the interests of British navigation. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that he should take up three positions, and that he should prove them consecutively, the first of those positions being the general extension of British navigation under the repeal of the Navigation Laws. In discussing that question, he (Mr. Young) must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the opponents of that repeal had not said that under it British shipping would absolutely diminish, but had merely contended that it would not increase as much as it had done under the system of protection; and if that position could be established, it would surely show that the change of system had failed. He had never thought that British shipping would decrease under the repeal of the Navigation Laws, For, thank God, it was not in the power of an impolitic Ministry, or an impolitic Parliament, to destroy the energies of the shipping interest of this great country; and he had not been one of those who had thought that British enterprise would have absolutely cowered under the competition to which it had been exposed. He had believed that it would have gallantly contended against that competition—and it was so contending at the present moment. But it was contending against fearful odds, and he believed that the British shipping interest would not be able to maintain its relative position in the navigation of the world under the system advocated by the right hon. Gentleman. He felt very reluctant to drag the House into any wearisome statistical details, but it was absolutely necessary that they should employ statistics in discussing that question. They had been told that there would be a great aggregate increase of British shipping under the operation of our new maritime legislation. He should submit to the House a statement which would show how-far that promise had been realised. By the finance account just published, it appeared that—The aggregate tonnage, British and foreign, entered inwards, in the United Kingdom from foreign parts, was in the year 1848,6,525,945 tons; 1436 and in 1849, 6,919,900 tons; showing an increase during the year preceding the repeal of the navigation Laws of 393,955 tons. The tonnage amounting, as above, in 1849, to 6,919,900 tons; had advanced in 1850 to 7,100,476 tons; showing an increase of British and foreign during the first year succeeding the repeal of the Navigation Laws of 180,576 tons, or less than one-half the preceding increase.But it was next declared that the predictions of the shipowners, that the repeal of the Navigation Laws would be followed by a decrease of British, and an increase of foreign tonnage, in the British carrying trade, were unfounded, and would prove fallacious. It would appear from the same official authority that—The tonnage of British vessels entered inwards from foreign parts was in 1848, 4,565,533 tons; and in 1849, 4,884,210 tons; showing an increase during the year preceding the repeal of the Navigation Laws of 318,677 tons; the tonnage amounting, as above, in 1849, to 4,884,210 tons; declined, in 1850, to 4,700,199 tons; showing a decrease in the British shipping during the first year succeeding the repeal of the Navigation Laws, of 184,011 tons.And it further appeared that—The tonnage of foreign vessels entered inwards from foreign ports was, in 1848, 1,960,412 tons; and in 1849, 2,035,690 tons; showing an increase during the year preceding the repeal of the Navigation Laws, of 75,278 tons; the tonnage amounting, as above, in 1849, to 2,035,699 tons; advanced, in 1850, to 2,400,277 tons; showing an increase in foreign shipping, during the first year succeeding the repeal of the Navigation Laws, of 364,587 tons.So that while during the last year of protection the aggregate tonnage engaged in maritime commerce advanced 6 per cent, it advanced during the first year of so-called free trade little more than 2½ per cent. That British tonnage which under the protective system advanced during the last year of its continuance nearly 7 per cent, absolutely declined in the first year of its withdrawal 3 7–10 per cent; while foreign tonnage, which had advanced under the former system only 3 8–10 per cent, instantly on its abrogation increased 17 9–10 per cent. Nor did the experience of the period that had elapsed since the conclusion of the year 1850 exhibit a result at all more favourable, for it appeared by the published monthly returns of the Board of Trade, that whileDuring the five months ending the 5th June, 1849, the tonnage entered inwards increased, under protection, over the corresponding five months of the preceding year, 397,777 tons; the increase in the five months of the present, under free trade, over the corresponding five months of the last year, under protection, was only 194,282 tons.1437 And the disparity between British and foreign tonnage is still more remarkable, for whileDuring the first five months of 1849 British entries advanced beyond those of the corresponding period of 1848, 243,322 tons; and foreign entries advanced 154,455 tons; during the first five months of the present year British entries had absolutely declined from those of 1849, the year preceding the repeal of the Navigation Laws, no less than 85,922 tons; and foreign entries had advanced 280,204 tons.In order to complete the chain of evidence of the practical working of the new system, as compared with the old, on the total movements of British maritime commerce, and on the proportionate share of that commerce carried on in British and foreign ships respectively, let them observe the fallowing extraordinary facts. It appeared by the Board of Trade's return that—The average annual increase of tonnage, British and foreign, entered inwards (exclusive of vessels in ballast) from the year 1842 to 1849, being the seven years immediately preceding the repeal of the Navigation Laws, was 345,094; of which the average British increase was 244,219 tons; and the average foreign increase 100,875 tons; total 345,004 tons.But the total for the year 1850, the first after the repeal, instead of 345,094 tons, the preceding annual average, was only 42,427 tons; when the increase of foreign shipping, instead of being 100,875 tons, advanced to 354,258 tons; and British increase, instead of advancing as before at the average rate of 244,219 tons, absolutely declined to no less than the enormous amount of 311,831 tons.In considering that question, he should observe that they would be led into a very great error if they were to mix up our tonnage outwards and our tonnage inwards for the purpose of showing the state of our navigation, because, while the tonnage was estimated according to the capacity of the vessels, those vessels which sailed outwards were rarely fully laden; and, on the other hand, those vessels which sailed inwards seldom arrived without full cargoes. He therefore took the tonnage of the vessels entered inwards as the true criterion of the maritime movement of the country, and that, he should observe, was the criterion which had always been adopted by Mr. Huskisson. He should next pass to the important consideration of the comparative increase which had taken place of late years in our shipping, and in the shipping of another great maritime country—namely, the United States. He should not do so, however, from any spirit of jealousy towards any foreign nation. But he 1438 could not forget the doctrine laid down by Mr. Huskisson, that the British Navigation Laws had been passed for two objects: first, for the purpose of creating in this country a great commercial marine; and, secondly—which was the more important object in the eyes of all true statesmen—for the purpose of preventing any other nation from engrossing too large a portion of the general commerce of the world. Now, let us see, by comparison between the increase of late years in the tonnage of the United States and in the tonnage of this country, how far the latter object was likely to be attained under our present maritime system:—At the conclusion of the war in the year 1815, the total tonnage belonging to Great Britain was 2,681,276 tons; and that belonging to the United States of America, 1,368,127 tons. In December, 1850, the British tonnage was 4,232,962 tons; and on the 30th of June, 1850, the latest date to which the returns are made up, the American tonnage was 3,535,464 tons.British tonnage having increased in the interval 1,551,686 tons on 2,681,276, and American 2,167,327 tons on 1,368,127. And the comparative advance of American tonnage during the last few years of the period, and the rapidity with which it is at present progressing, are even more remarkable, for—When the British tonnage, which in 1846 was 3,817,112 tons, had advanced in December, 1850, to 4,232,962 tons, being an increase of 415,850 tons, or 10 8–10ths per cent, American tonnage, which in 1846 was 2,562,085 tons, had advanced in June, 1850, to 3,535,454 tons, being an increase in four years of 973,369 tons, or 37 9–10ths per cent.He could further inform the House that if American and British shipping continued to increase at their presnt rate of progression, the United States would possess, at the end of four years, a larger mercantile marine than Great Britain. That was a matter which, he thought, could pot be too much pressed on the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman and of his Colleagues, as one calculated to awaken serious reflection, if not well-founded alarm. He thought, from what he had stated, that he was justified in asserting that the right hon. Gentleman had failed in making out his first position—that there would be a great increase in the amount of British tonnage. That position, he said, was not borne out by the results, for instead of there being a very great increase, there was a very small increase. Facts refuted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, 1439 for British tonnage had not its full share of the increase. He had showed that it had not; he had showed that they had lost a good deal; and at the present period it was absolutely declining. And now that he came to this point, he was sorry to perceive that the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. J. Wilson) had left his place, because that hon. Gentleman was much concerned in the documents to which he (Mr. G. F. Young) was about to refer. Let not the House rely too much on those returns, as to the absolute amount of tonnage stated. In the year 1827, it was observed that there was a great quantity of tonnage remaining on the register, which was no longer in existence. An Act was then passed compelling ships to register de novo; and the consequence of that was that it was found that there were 396,000 tons appearing to be part of the maritime strength of the country, which was no longer in existence. A quarter of a century had nearly passed since that had been done. He believed that the increase was not carried, in consequence of greater care, to the same extent; but they might depend upon it, that a part of what was set down as the actual tonnage of the country, was no longer in existence; and that if a careful examination were made, British shipping would be found to be of a much smaller amount than 4,000,000. He came now to their entries inwards and outwards. The aggregate amount set down last year was 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 of tons. Did the House imagine that such an enormous amount of tonnage entered into the legitimate trade of the country? He had in his hand a return which had been received by hon. Members that morning, which purported to be a return of those vessels which had entered into the ports of the United Kingdom, from France, Holland, and Belgium, in the year 1850, distinguishing the name and tonnage of each such vessel, with the number of voyages made by each, and stating the number of men by whom the same were manned. The House would hardly credit him when he stated that those vessels, containing 20,257 tons, were the same vessels which figured in the tonnage returns, among the inward entries, as bringing to them in foreign trade 596,763 tons. Now, when such things as these were done, how were the public to know what the facts really were? There was, for instance, one of these vessels, the Princess Maude, which made 200 voyages in the 1440 year, but that never brought over a single ton of goods, and yet appeared as a vessel by which 30,000 tons were entered inwards. Did our foreign trade increase because thousands of foreigners were passing from Boulogne to Folkstone to visit the Great Exhibition? Every time a steam-vessel arrived it aided in swelling the amount of tonnage which appeared to be engaged in the foreign trade of this country. He did not charge this as an intentional deception at all. It was not with the intention of so having it regarded that he introduced it; but he said with respect to it, as to the American tonnage, it was one that ought to induce them to be cautious. The right hon. Gentleman had next said that he would prove that there was a great improvement in British shipping, and the right hon. Gentleman had drawn a very lively picture—would that it were true!—of the prosperity of British shipbuilding. Now, he (Mr. Young) would venture to say that it was impossible to agree with the right hon. Gentleman even by the slightest reference to the public returns. The register of 1848 showed 305,307 tons; the return of 1850, 237,814 tons. He did not take the year 1849, as it was a year of transition as to building, and he had not been able to get the figures for the year 1849. For those reasons he omitted them, although he was confident, if he could exhibit them, they would prove what he asserted. The conclusion, then, at which he had arrived—and it was founded upon some opportunities for personal observation on his part, and he had received the same intelligence from all the great ports of the empire—was this, that the trade of shipbuilding was in a state of most deplorable depression. In this port there were at the present moment only two merchant vessels building. That there were steam ships building for the Royal Mail Company, as stated by the right hon. Gentleman, he admitted to be quite true; but they were not to be accepted as the proof that an increase of shipbuilding was therefore to be attributed to a repeal of the Navigation Laws; for he asked this question—would not the Royal Mail Company, if it wanted steamships, have them built precisely in the same manner if the system of protection had still been continued, and the Navigation Laws had not been repealed? He admitted that in the construction of steam ships they were in advance of all other countries. Most countries in the world sent 1441 here to have steam ships built for them, and they did this because if a failure were made in the construction of one of these vessels a large capital would be irretrievably lost; but their success in this one branch of shipbuilding was not a legitimate test of the general state of the trade, which, he maintained, was in a condition of most deplorable depression. He thought that upon one memorable occasion he remembered the right hon. Gentleman venturing to assert that the shipbuilding interest was in a state of very great prosperity. That statement had not been made for more than three days when a statement was sent to the right hon. Gentleman signed by almost every shipowner in London, stating the reverse to be the fact. And now he believed that before a very long period had elapsed, the same right hon. Gentleman would be furnished by a declaration from those engaged in shipbuilding, proving that he was equally misinformed as to the state of the trade. He said that if their shipbuilding was declining, so also was their trade, which had been the most profitable, and which was now falling into the hands of the Americans. The opening of the London trade, and the British trade in the Eastern world, rendered it more profitable to the shipowner of America. It was worth their while to engage in the long voyages as being the most profitable, whilst they left to the British their own worthless short-trading voyages, which we in our distress were compelled to put up with. An American ship, when it left the Atlantic for California, afterwards spread its sails over the Pacific for the Australian colonies, and before it returned considerable time was occupied, and large profits made, and in such a case its inward entries must he small. It was running away with the British trade, leaving to the British its coasting trade as not being worth the keeping. He also said their Indian trade was threatened; but the right hon. Gentleman said that he looked to this competition without dread or apprehension. Was the right hon. Gentleman aware that in 1825 1,100 vessels left for California; that a large portion of British trade was interfered with, that the tonnage—the whole of the tonnage—was British before the repeal of the Navigation Laws? and he asked, what would be the effect of this amount of foreign shipping arriving to trade in their eastern ports? If they doubled the shipping, without increasing 1442 the goods to be carried, the consequence must be low freights; and in that case how were they to get on with their British ships? The American, having made a large freight from an Atlantic port to California, had only to complete her voyage, and that she could do at a low rate. He knew one instance of a ship, of from 500 to 600 tons, which by its voyage from New York to China made 46,000 dollars; that ship could well come from China to London at 2l. a ton, and she was sure here to be able to get a cargo for New York. And here he could not but observe that the American, the Dutchman, the Spaniard, the Frenchman, were animated with a national feeling, and would not only prefer a ship of their own country, if offered on equal terms with another, but in many cases would pay even a higher freight to employ a ship of their own country. He knew also of a case that occurred not long ago, where a person an American, had to take out to New York a supply of iron for a railroad, and he said that his orders were to take it out in none but an American ship. Shame, then, he said, upon that feeling which induced them to disregard the claims of their fellow countrymen. The present system which they upheld was not a system of open competition with foreigners, but it was a system bestowing a large bounty upon their great foreign competitors. It was but little consolation to him to hear the right hon. Gentleman declare that if the rates were reduced—for he could not deny that they had been reduced—it would be a benefit to the consumers, so long as the shipowners were receiving a remunerating profit. But then the right hon. Gentleman did not venture to tell them whether or not the present rates were remunerating. Now he told the right hon. Gentleman—and he believed that what he stated would be confirmed by the experience of every shipowner—that the result of the employment of the whole tonnage of the country, under the present system, was an absolute loss. Upon the capital embarked in shipping, the decline had been 30 per cent, and upon that which was left is wholly unremunerative. His friend Mr. Dunbar had offered the whole of his shipping at 3 percent, and he (Mr. Young) believed he would be a gainer if he could get any one to take it at that rate; yet a more intelligent, experienced, and industrious shipowner, with greater advantages in his favour, was not to be found again in 1443 the rest of the world. If the right hon. Gentleman doubted that there were great losses on the part of the shipowners on account of the repeal of the Navigation Laws, he was sure there were many of them would show him their balance-sheets for last year, and the right hon. Gentleman might convince himself that their assertions were he more than simple truths. As this was the first opportunity he had had of addressing the House for many years, he would not, however tempting I was the theme venture further to intrude upon the time of the House. In saying this much, he hoped he had not altogether failed in establishing the facts for which he contended, by the statistics he had referred to; and he also hoped that he had not altogether failed by a reference to official documents in refuting the assertions which the right hon. Gentleman had made as to the prosperity of the shipping interest, It would be no gratification to him to stand up in that place, and in presence of the public to declare that the interest with which he was connected, and in the prosperity of which he was personally concerned, was labouring under a profound depression. Sure he was that if this question were fairly and fully investigated by the right hon. Gentleman, one gifted with his intelligence, and dismissing from his mind every desire to maintain a foregone conclusion and a favourite theory, would find reason to modify at the least, if not absolutely to change, the tone of his observations upon the facts of this great case. As to himself, it was his duty to declare his convictions, be the consequences what they may, namely, that the British interest was trembling at that moment upon the verge of ruin, and to say that if that House—if a British Parliament were determined to follow out that principle—the cheapest market principle—to go on further in the same career, then he ventured respectfully, but strongly, to warn them that if they thought they could maintain a great mercantile marine under such a system of policy, they would find out their mistake only at a time when the error had been committed, and it was too late to have it corrected. He could not conclude without referring to the many restrictions which the right hon. Gentleman—a champion of free trade—had imposed, in violation of the principles of free trade, upon the shipping interest. He would ask him how they were to reconcile with the principles of justice this system, which exposed him, a 1444 British shipowner, to competition with others, when he was precluded bylaw from employing those who would work for half-wages, such as were paid by his competitors? Two vessels had lately arrived in this port from the Havannah. The consignee was an intimate friend of his own, who took the same interest in this subject, and who, being visited by the captains of these vessels on the same day, inquired of them—one being a Swede, and the other an Englishman—as to the wages paid by him? The captain, the Swede, said his wages were 5l. a month—that he received no other allowance—that he paid his men 30s. a month—that he gave them meat twice a week, with stock fish and fruit. The English captain said he was paid 10l. a month and 5l. for cabin allowance; that the wages of the sailors were 55s. a month, and that they had 1½ lb. of fresh or 2 lbs. of salt meat every day in the week. With these facts before them, they put the Swede and the Englishman into competition together; and doing this they called it free trade, of which they were the vaunted champions. The right hon. Gentleman was aware that he concurred with him in the expediency and policy of subjecting masters of vessels to examination. He (Mr. Young) had always raised his voice humbly and independently in favour of such a system being introduced, and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for it; but then he had to add with extreme regret that the Act of Parliament introduced many other provisions which were unconnected with the principles of free trade. Regulations were made which were inefficient for all other purposes but that of harassing the shipowners; and these regulations were grounded on the assumption that it was necessary to afford security to the British sailor on account of his ignorance. They coddled up the British sailor in swaddling clothes, instead of pursuing a consistent course of proceeding. Why not, instead of deploring their ignorance, impart knowledge to them? They doled out a paltry sum on the education of the people of England. In the city of Boston a sum equal to What the British Parliament allowed for the education of the whole people, was appropriated to instruction. There was no American seaman who did not receive the rudiments of a good education. If they could not agree in their polemical differences before they determined on education, let them at least determine upon instruct- 1445 ing their mariners. Let them do this, and not persevere with their inconsistent course in reference to the managing clauses of their Bill, He would ask the attention of the House for one minute longer to the case of the masters of our ships. No hon. Member could have forgotten the accounts which had been laid on the table of that House from our various foreign consuls, in all parts of the world, vituperative of the character of British masters, and libellous on their whole body, founded as those accounts were on isolated cases, which ought not to have exposed the entire mercantile marine to the indiscriminate censure to which they had been subjected. But then here was the inconsistency of their legislation. They called the masters a drunken incompetent set of men, yet they put a Clause in their Act of Parliament compelling him and every other shipowner in this country to take these so-styled drunken, incompetent men into their employment. He asked them, therefore, to expunge that inconsistency from their Statute-book. It might be said, why did not the British shipowners adopt measures to meet that? He would say, Never. If they wanted to attack the British sailor, let them (the Government) do it themselves. He was a Protectionist upon principle, and he never would drag that away from another which he would maintain for himself. But if the Legislature thought fit to put a certain disqualification upon him, it was bound to afford him protection up to that point, and he wanted that restriction to be taken off in justice to the sailor. He had to apologise to the House for the length of time during which he had taken the liberty of trespassing on their attention; but he trusted that in the warmth of debate he had used no expression calculated to offend the feelings of any hon. Member present, nor said anything inconsistent with what was due to the House, or to the position in which, as a Member of it, he had the honour to occupy.
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, that neither he nor any other ton. Members of that House had reason to complain of the tone or length of the hon. Gentleman's address, for all must admit that he had a very natural right to address the House on this subject, and to be considered as some authority upon it. Nothing, however, could be more contradictory of the Motion now before the House, than the substance of the speech of the hon. Gentleman; for while the hon. Gentleman commenced by 1446 saying that the reciprocity treaties introduced by Mr. Huskisson in 1824 were the downfall of the shipping interests, and the cause of all the mischiefs that had since happened to it; on the other hand, the object of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries) was a return to the policy which prevailed previous to that reciprocity being established, and even to carry out the policy of that system still further. The hon. Gentleman must remember that when the late law was passed in 1848 we were in respect to some of the most important branches of that trade in the very circumstances we were in in 1824, when Mr. Huskisson proposed the Act of Reciprocity; and when he spoke of the decay of the shipping interest since the Act of Reciprocity, he forgot to explain the anomalous condition into which the shipping interest had then fallen, and how for some years our ships had been sailing to America empty, and American vessels came here empty also. The hon. Gentleman had also forgotten that Prussia and Russia had threatened to carry out towards England the same policy which England and America had been pursuing towards each other, and that it was only in consequence of that pressure that Mr. Huskisson introduced his system of reciprocity treaties. When the present law was passed in 1849, we were, as to some of the most important branches of our trade, similarly circumstanced as in 1824. The hon. Gentleman also had forgotten to state that Russia had passed a law which would have excluded us in the next year, on the expiration of the existing treaty, from the whole indirect trade with that country; and that Prussia also had given us notice that on the expiration of their treaty we should be subject to the like restriction as to the internal trade with her. Now, the hon. Gentleman had based the greater part of his argument on the distinction between the shipping entered outward and inward; and said that the former could not be taken as a criterion of the quantity, but he confessed that the tonnage inward increased. He (Mr. Wilson) admitted that some years ago, while there existed such restrictions as the hon. Gentleman had alluded to, and wished to perpetuate, there might be a good deal in that argument; because only a small part of the shipping carried goods outwards; but the hon. Gentleman must remember that the great object of the alteration in 1849 was to lessen that distinction between outward and in- 1447 ward shipping; and the increase in the quantity of shipping in the last two years was most satisfactory evidence of that having been the effect of the law. Prior to the year 1849, there was a difference between outward and inward tonnage, for the simple reason that vessels going to the United States could not carry cargo outwards, but could inwards; whereas, last year, the amount entered inwards and outwards was nearly the same; and it must be remembered that, from a country like this, which exported fine manufactured goods, the amount could not be exactly the same outward as inward, for the reason that a great portion of their outward cargoes consisted of valuable goods which lay in a small compass, while nearly the whole of their inward cargoes consisted of raw materials which occupied a considerable bulk. The hon. Gentleman, as a shipowner, must know, as a general rule, that a larger quantity could not enter inwards than had previously entered outwards, and if we saw our shipping increase outwards, there must, in a short time, be a corresponding increase of inward entries. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the trade of 1851 as evidence of the decline of the shipping trade of this country in consequence of the Act of 1849; and he (Mr. Wilson) must call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman who opened the debate to what appeared to him a mistake in one of the statements which he made. He was ready to admit that the entries inwards of 1850 were somewhat smaller than those of 1849; but the gross entries inwards and outwards were not, as the hon. Gentleman stated, smaller, but were somewhat larger. But the right hon. Gentleman took the average of the preceding four years, and he said that they were not only smaller in the year preceding, but that they were smaller than in the preceding four years. [Mr. HERRIES: Three years.] He understood him four years, but whether four or three, it made no difference to the argument. He (Mr. Wilson) found the average of the tonnage entered inwards and outwards for the four years preceding 1850 to be 7,474,000 tons—whereas last year there were 8,039,000 tons. The right hon. Gentleman referred to what had taken place in the last nine years, and endeavoured to show that there had been a smaller increase in our exports than during the preceding nine years. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a return which was quoted by the hon. Member for 1448 Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell); and he must say, he had never heard a statement in that House which astonished him so much, and which was, as he thought, so opposite to the facts of the case, as when he heard the right hon. Gentleman state that taking the exports from this country, the increase of ships was in a larger ratio previous to 1849 than since. He had the returns before him, and he found that previous to the year 1842, the year to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, instead of there being a material increase, there had been for some years rather a decline in our exports. In 1835, the exports of this country were 53,000,000l., whereas in 1842 they were only 47,000,000l., the latter being a year of depression he admitted. But in 1835 the exports were 53,259,000l.; and in no year, up to 1842, did they amount to that sum. But what had been the facts since 1842? Why, the exports had increased from 47,000,000l. in 1842, to 71,000,000l. in 1850. The right hon. Gentleman, he thought, did not take quite a fair way of making his comparison, as he took the average of the last nine years, and the average of the past nine years included the low sums of the earlier period of the free-trade measure; but if they looked at the figures they would find a steady annual increase during the whole of that period; so that by taking that average the right hon. Gentleman got rid of the larger amounts of the latter part of that period, by mixing them up with the smaller amounts of the former part of the period. It could not be denied that there had been an increase during the last nine years unparalleled in the history of this country, or in that of any other country whatever. The hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat (Mr. G. F. Young) reminded them that there had been during that period a large increase in the amount of foreign tonnage—that they had in 1849 only 1,990,000 tons, whereas, in 1851 they had 3,900,000 tons, showing an increase of 1,900,000 tons. He (Mr. Wilson) was quite willing to admit that; but then had there been no increase during the same time of British tonnage? In 1842 the amount of British tonnage was 5,415,000 tons, in 1850 it was 8,039,000 tons; so that while they had an increase of foreign tonnage of 1,900,000 tons, they had an increase in British of 2,600,000 tons. The hon. Gentleman had referred to America, and he at once unhesitatingly admitted that they were our great and most-to- 1449 be feared rivals—indeed that was the only country towards which we need look with any anxiety as to the commerce of the world; but he thought the hon. Gentleman had exhibited a comparison of the commercial marine of America with that of England in a very unfavourable light to this country, and that the hon. Gentleman had misstated the facts. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Herries) had alluded to the considerable falling-off in the quantity of American tonnage entered inwards and outwards in 1850 as compared with 1849; and he had given an explanation of that fact with which he (Mr. Wilson) perfectly agreed. But while he gave the right hon. Gentleman the advantage of that explanation with regard to the falling-off of American tonnage, he asked for the same explanation to be admitted with regard to British tonnage. The Americans had no doubt been taking advantage of the opportunity of going into the eastern seas, and had been aided by the discovery of the mines in California, and the English ships had been following them. His noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Department had shown him a despatch from Hong-Kong, from which it appeared that out of 10,700 tons of shipping of all nations in that port, no less than 3,700 wore British, while only 1,700 were American, so that the same reasoning which the right hon. Gentleman availed himself of to account for the falling-off of American tonnage in 1850, was equally applicable to the falling-off of English tonnage in the same year. But now with regard to the actual state of British and American shipping in the American ports, there were some facts in this report which the hon. Gentleman would not be prepared for. The total quantity of shipping in 1850, inwards and outwards, from the whole of the American ports to the whole of the world, was 8,709,000 tons, while the quantity in this country was 12,030,000 tons; so that the shipping from this country was no less than 50 per cent greater than that of the United States. But of the American, 8,709,000 tons, 5,206,000 only consisted of American ships, and 3,503,000 of foreign; while of the 12,000,000 from British ports, only 3,900,000 were foreign; and out of the 3,503,000 tons connected with the American trade, no less than 2,400,000 was in British ships; and all the rest of the world could muster 659,000 tons only. Again, compare the quantity of trade which America took from us, with what we took from 1450 them. The American trade gave employment to 1,639,000 tons of British shipping more than the British trade gave employment to the American. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries) referred at considerable length to the great advantages the Americans had in building ships as compared with this country. From the finance accounts it appeared that the ships built and registered in the United Kingdom in the last three years were, in 1848, 122,000 tons; in 1849, 117,000 tons; and in 1850, in which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, British shipping had been ruined by foreign competition, it had risen to 133,000 tons; and, if he was informed rightly, in this year, so far as it went, there was a still greater increase. He found in the report of the Shipowners' Committee in Liverpool a letter from Mr. Aylwyn on this subject, a gentleman whose opinions were entitled to great respect. Mr. Aylwyn returned to the United States some time ago, and he sent to a Member of that House a statement exhibiting the fearful character of the competition we should have with the United States. Now, he held in his hand a letter on the comparative ability of the United States and this country to build ships; and when he had read this letter and mentioned the name of the person who wrote it, he was quite sure that every one in the House would give credit to the opinions expressed by the writer. The hon. Member then read the letter in which it was stated that the Ann Dixon which had been built at Sunderland, had been built at a cost of 10 per cent less than it could have been constructed in the United States; that she had great sailing powers, and would carry a tonnage of nearly 7 per cent over her registered tonnage; and the writer gave it as his decided opinion, that, quality for quality, British ships could always be built cheaper than American. This letter was signed by Mr. Aylwyn; and this was the gentleman who had been frightening the shipowners of this country out of their wits. But the hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. F. Young) used a very singular argument, as it appeared to him, when he said it was true that there had been an increase in the tonnage of vessels, but that a great many of them were steam vessels. If the hon. Gentleman had taken a fair view of the question, he would have seen that every steam vessel ought to count for two or three sailing vessels, seeing that a steamer would make two or three voyages, while a 1451 sailing vessel made one; and that, therefore, he ought to have arrived at the very opposite conclusion to that which he did arrive at. Then the hon. Gentleman referred to the great inroad which the Americans were making in a very important branch of our trade—the East India trade. He (Mr. Wilson) was very desirous that the facts of the case should be known to that House and the country, because, that matter had excited considerable alarm, which he believed to be totally unfounded. To hear the hon. Gentleman speak of the East India trade since the repeal of the Navigation Laws, the House would be induced to believe that the whole of that trade, or the largest portion of it, had been lost to this country, and that it had been absorbed by the Americans. Now, he held in his hand a return of the British shipping entered outwards and inwards in the Indian trade for the last three years, and he found that in 1848 it amounted to 840,000 tons; in 1849, to 928,000; and in 1850, the year of free trade, and when the British East India trade was said to have been absorbed by the Americans, it was no less than 1,035,000 tons, a larger amount of British tonnage entered inwards and outwards than in any previous year. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries) had plumed himself upon bringing his facts down to the last six months. In this respect he (Mr. Wilson) would do the same. During the last.six months of 1849 the quantity of shipping entered inwards and outwards in the East India trade was 439,000; in the first six months of this year it was 496,000, showing an increase of 47,000 tons in this trade alone; and by the last Indian mail they learned that British shipping was scarce in the Indian ports, and that the freights had risen from 3l. 3s. a ton to 4l. and upwards. In reference to the Indian trade, he would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to two or three singular facts, which would lead the House to a very different conclusion from that which the right hon. Gentleman would have them arrive at. The facts were derived officially from the Indian Government. He believed that never until this year had the East India Company found any difficulty with regard to its contracts for coals to be delivered in the eastern seas; but this year they had found the greatest difficulty. The contractors here had experienced great difficulty in finding vessels suitable in size to carry coals; they had in consequence 1452 thereof been obliged to borrow 10,000 tons from the Oriental and Peninsular Steam Packet Company, and had advised the Indian Government that it must rely more on arrangements to be made on the spot. Moreover, he had been informed by a director of the Oriental and Peninsular Company, that in consequence of the busy state of the carrying trade, coals had risen 10 per cent in price. The right hon. Gentleman had invited the House to address the Throne in order that a system of retaliation might be carried out against those States which had not followed the example of this country; but he (Mr. Wilson) thought it was unreasonable, when a change in the policy of this country had only been in existence for eighteen months, when the restrictive policy had been pursued for so many years, to complain of foreign countries, that they were not ready to change their policy the moment we changed ours. The right hon. Gentleman was premature; especially when it was notorious to the world that the Government of this country was in negotiation with those States which had not followed our example, to induce them to copy our policy. When they had adopted a free-trade policy with large States, such as Sweden, Holland, and the United States of America, he thought it would be most unwise to retaliate upon such countries as Spain or Belgium, If they made the attempt to retaliate, the law would most certainly be invaded; for if we refused to take the goods of those countries direct, they could easily be sent to Rotterdam, and shipped thence to this country, and we could not refuse to admit them. They might make laws, but they would only be evaded. With Sweden, Holland, Prussia, Hamburgh, and the Hanse Towns, and, above all, with the United States of America, we had full and entire reciprocity; and when we enjoyed reciprocity with the great maritime countries of the world, it was hardly fair to select small States like Belgium and Spain, in order to mourn over the want of reciprocity with them. He could understand the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, if his object were to punish foreign countries; but this was not his object. His object was to benefit the British shipowner; and this being the case, what benefit could our shipowners derive from Spanish goods being brought here in Dutch in place of Spanish vessels? He could not help deprecating the course of remark which the right hon. Gentleman 1453 had adopted in speaking of the Dutch. He wished that every Government had behaved as openly and as generously with regard to the Navigation Laws as the Dutch. They copied, clause by clause, our law of 1848. Considering the prejudices of the Dutch in favour of retaining the trade with Batavia in their own hands, he considered they had behaved with great generosity in opening their Batavian trade as freely as their home trade to British ships. Our vessels could now go from Liverpool and London to Batavia as freely as from Rotterdam, and this was a valuable privilege. And he understood that British ships were entering into competition with Dutch ships for the carrying trade from Batavia to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The right hon. Gentleman had referred a good deal to the trade of France, and had read a passage from a French writer, deprecating our free-trade policy being followed by France, and describing the English nation as on the verge of a crisis, in consequence of the system now pursued. Now, on comparing the returns of the tonnage entered into the ports of France with that entered into the ports of England from the year 1842 till the year 1850, he found that while the returns of France showed an increase during that period of 341,000 tons, those of England exhibited an increase of no less than 4,763,000 tons; in 1842 the French tonnage was 3,609,000 tons, and the English 7,347,000 tons; in 1850 the French had increased to 3,950,000 tons, while the English tonnage had increased to 12,020,000 tons. The right hon. Gentleman had compared the commerce of France with that of England, as well as the Navigation Laws of the two countries. On this matter he (Mr. Wilson) might state that he had seen a speech of M. Thiers delivered lately in the French Assembly, loudly boasting of the enormous increase in French commerce. In that speech M. Thiers had shown by extracts from the official returns that the whole commerce of France (taken at the official valuation) had increased during the last eight years by 19,000,000l. sterling, from whence he drew the inference that the policy of France was more beneficial to her commerce, than that of England. During the same period, however, the commerce of England, taken at the actual valuation, not at the official, had increased to the extent of 67,000,000l., and if it had been taken at the official valuation, the increase would have been 118,000,000l. sterling; so that in the matter of commerce 1454 the increase was not less surprising than in that of navigation. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Herries) and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Young) had drawn a very melancholy picture of the present state of the shipping trade of this country; but he (Mr. Wilson) thought he had shown that as regarded our Indian, American, and home trade, that picture was overdrawn, He would now state a few facts as regarded the port of London. He had recently sent to the Custom. House for some returns, in order to see what were the proofs of the great competition which it was said our shipowners had to encounter. He found that there were, at this present time, loading for Asia and Africa, including all the countries eastward of the Cape, excepting our Australian Colonies, 52 ships, the total tonnage of which was 30,899 tons. Of these only four ships, amounting in all to 1,970 tons, wore foreign ships; and two of these foreign vessels were Dutch, availing themselves of the beneficial alteration of our Navigation Laws, and going direct to Batavia, carrying cargoes of British manufactures. Loading for our Australian Colonies in the port of London, there were 32 ships, amounting to 16,000 tons; and of this number not one single vessel was foreign. There were loading for the West Indies 20 ships, of 5,319 tons, and only one of that number was a foreign vessel. The total number of British vessels loading at present in the port of London was 179, of 67,512 tons burden; while the foreign ships numbered 82, and amounted to no more than 15,000 tons burden. They would find beside that all the long-voyage trade was still kept by the British ships, and that this 15,000 tons of foreign shipping was made up of short voyages to the Baltic. This did not indicate an unfavourable state of our shipping. Allusion had been made to the opinions of Mr. Dunbar and other extensive shipowners in favour of this Motion; but he found from a letter by Mr. Dunbar, published a few days ago, that that gentleman objected to the sliding-scale of our late corn laws, and had considered improvement in our Navigation Laws necessary before the late alterations in them; and that, further, he advised those interested in the shipping trade to put their shoulders to the wheel, and endeavour to get rid of their grievances. He (Mr. Wilson) did not hesitate to admit that some considerable portion of our shipowners were suffering depression, but that depression was confined to those small 1455 ports which were engaged in the coasting trade. But how did that distress arise? The other day a man came to him from Hastings, and said be was ruined. He used to have four ships sailing from Hastings to London, but now he found that the railway was taking all the goods. The inland coal trade was also operating on the colliers of Newcastle and the northern ports. The fact was, that the railways now carried a large proportion of the goods some time ago carried by coasting vessels. He did not deny that at the present moment there was in the shipping trade, as in all other trades, a rapidly increasing competition; but he was satisfied that that competition was between British owner and British owner, and not between British owner and Foreign owner. He had lately had a conversation with some shipowners at the London Docks, and although the competition between London and Liverpool had been talked of, not a murmur had escaped them as to the competition of foreign vessels. It had been stated that Mr. Lindsay, an extensive shipowner, brought goods from the warehouses at Manchester to London by railway, and shipped them to Calcutta, at a charge of from 25s. to 30s. per ton. Of this the Liverpool shipowners naturally complained; but this was a competition between Englishman and Englishman. They had lately a shipowner examined before the Committee pitting on steam communication with the East, and that gentleman had informed them that at the present time it was utterly impossible to get vessels built and put on stations at any specified time. The trade was so busy that shipowners would not bind themselves to time, and from the same cause the workmen bad become difficult to deal with. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Young) had referred to the disabilities under which this country laboured connected with the French trade, and had asked us to retaliate in consequence of these disabilities. We did not, however, require to adopt such a course; France had herself suffered much inconvenience from these very disabilities. Surely the hon. Gentleman did not wish them to retrace their steps, and introduce again such great anomalies. In every great change there were some individuals inconvenienced; and he bad no doubt that small shipowners had been injured in this case; but, looked at as a whole—considering the great increase of our American trade, the increasing trade in our building yards, and other 1456 prosperous symptoms, he thought the House should pause before they adopted any principle of retaliation, or had recourse to the old exploded system with which the country had so long been burdened.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I think that no apology was necessary from my right hon. Friend who introduced the Amendments this evening, for calling the consideration of the House to the state of an important branch of our national industry; and, Sir, whatever may be the difference of opinion with respect to the cause of the distress, or the depression of any considerable portion of Her Majesty's subjects engaged in any great trade, I cannot but think that Parliament, after sitting six months, should not be prorogued without having discussed the cause of that depression or distress. Sir, whatever may be our opinion of the policy or impolicy of any laws which this House may have passed or abrogated with reference to their influence upon any branch of the public industry, surely there is no hon. Gentleman who will maintain but that it is in the highest degree impolitic, that, whatever may be the difference of opinion, there should not at least be one point upon which both sides of the House should agree, namely, that the House of Commons is the proper tribunal where the complaints of that suffering branch should be preferred, and where they may be fully and fairly discussed; and no one, Sir, will contend that the state of the shipping interest of this country is at present one of prosperity. You may account for the depression that exists—you may offer reasons for the distress which is acknowledged—you may tell us that that industry is in a state of transition; but you cannot deny that it is now in a peculiar position—you cannot contradict the assertion that it is at this time suffering, and suffering from the experience of our novel legislation. And allow me to remind the House of the peculiar condition of the shipping interest—which marks it out from all those other branches of our public industry which may equally be suffering distress and depression. You find this in the state of the shipping interest, that there is acknowledged to be a considerable diminution of the profits of the capital employed in that industry, attended, at the same time, with a diminution of the means of employing the labour of that industry. In all' other instances—take the case which has been so frequently, perhaps unnecessarily, re- 1457 ferred to to-night—that of the agricultural I interest—you always tell us, "We acknowledge that there is a great diminution in the profits of the capital invested in that industry; but no one can pretend that the employment of the labour of that industry is at all proportionately reduced, or at all diminished." You acknowledge that the occupier of the land may no longer receive the same, or even a remunerative, return for his capital; but you always tell us, "You cannot deny that the labourer on the land is well employed, and is well paid;" and you refer with triumph, and with an appearance of plausibility, to the returns which are supplied you by the poor-law officers throughout the country. But in the case of the shipping interest, while the profits of capital are so sensibly diminished, the means of employing labour are equally diminished; and it is to-night acknowledged by both sides that there is a diminution in the balance of upwards of 500,000 tons of British, as regards the employment of British and foreign shipping. Now, Sir, I have no doubt that in this, as in other instances, we have been too precipitate—we have been too hasty—in the line that we have adopted, and the course that we have pursued. I have no doubt that in the case of the shipping interest, as in that of the agricultural interest, we ought not to have recourse to any coarse or violent reaction, but that we should have recourse to those temperate, to those remedial, to those equitable, and to those countervailing measures which the circumstances of the case require, and which we should have well considered before we embarked on the course which we have too rashly pursued. Well, Sir, what is the Motion before the House? What is the Amendment which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Herries) has moved? Remember that this is not an Amendment which calls in question the policy or impolicy of repealing the Navigation Laws, or of maintaining them. It is, on the contrary, a measure which, in the very law that was passed by the Government that repealed these Navigation Laws, was suggested as a remedial measure, to be had recourse to if the shipowners of this country found that they were embarked in an unequal, and therefore an unjust, competition. And, Sir, I must say that nothing has more amused me in the course of this debate—if, on a subject so serious, and where so much is at stake, where British capital is 1458 suffering so much, anything could be amusing—than the mode in which this Clause, referred to in the Amendment of my right hon. Friend, has been treated by Her Majesty's Ministers. My right hon. Friend's Amendment is for—An humble Address to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to direct the proper steps to be taken for giving effect to those provisions for the repeal of the Navigation Laws, whereby Her Majesty is empowered to adopt towards any Foreign Country, in which a preference is given, directly or indirectly, to national vessels over British vessels, such measures as may appear to Her Majesty justly to countervail the disadvantages to which British trade and navigation is so subjected.This being the Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade rises and informs us, in the most authoritative manner, that at this moment negotiations are going on with no less than three Powers, in order to obtain for the suffering British shipowner the advantages which may be supplied by this prescient and provident clause of Her Majesty's Ministers. No doubt, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has only very recently employed a portion of his much-occupied and anxious time in penning despatches, the object of which was to obtain for the British shipowner the effect of this salutary provision. But what says the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Board of Control, who last addressed the House? Disregarding the solemn announcement of a Cabinet Minister, that at this moment negotiations are being prosecuted with no less than three Powers—forgetting the presence of the very Secretary of State who has commenced these negotiations, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Board of Control, who is not yet in the secrets of the Cabinet, derides the Clause, describes it as one absolutely absurd, as one which it is impossible should effect anything; and if absurd, if utterly useless, if under all these circumstances, inefficient, how can he vindicate the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and how can he justify the labours of the noble Lord? Now, Sir, I am not of the same opinion of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Board of Control. I have more confidence in Her Majesty's Government than a subordinate Member of that Government appears to possess. I give faith to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, for their intentions and their labours; and I believe 1459 that they have confidence in the policy which they are pursuing, and I believe that course to be an efficient one. Now, Sir, from what has recently occurred in this House, can I bring myself to believe that the policy indicated in this Clause, recommended by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Herries) and pursued—as I must believe after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that it is by Her Majesty's Ministers—is not a salutary one? It must be in the recollection of many Gentlemen who hear me that a petition was presented not long ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring) from merchants and shipowners connected with the trade of Newfoundland and Labrador. That petition was signed by almost every mercantile firm in the country connected with that trade—I think by upwards of 150 firms in London, Liverpool, Bristol, Poole, Teignmouth, Torquay, and other western ports connected with this trade; and what was the statement of the petition thus influentially signed, and presented by one so much entitled to the consideration of this House on such a subject as my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon? Why, it stated that the whole of our fish trade from Newfoundland and Labrador to Spain was fast leaving us—that the Spanish Government imposed a differential duty on cod fish imported in Spanish as distinguished from British ships, of not less than 3s. a cwt, in favour of the former. I think the duty was 8s. 7d. per cwt. for fish imported in a Spanish, and 11s. 9d. per cwt. for that imported in a British ship. Now what, according to that petition, was the effect of this upon the commercial movement of trade of Newfoundland and Labrador from the year 1841 to 1850? In 1841 there were eight Spanish ships in the trade, that imported 20,000 cwts. of codfish; in 1850 there were sixty-four Spanish ships, importing upwards of 150,000 cwts.; and that trade had proportionately left English merchants and English shipping. Well, I want to know why we should not seek in this Clause, inserted by its promoters, in the Act which repealed the Navigation Laws, for the remedy which I suppose it was sincerely intended to secure to the British shipowner? The noble Lord opposite knows very well that the statement made by the hon. Secretary for the Board of Control is not practically justified. The noble Lord knows very well that in 1837, when Portugal levied a higher 1460 duty upon English shipping as against the Portuguese shipping, he had recourse (under the old Act of William IV.) to the retaliatory duty? And what was the conduct of Portugal under these circumstances? The noble Lord knows very well that Portugal almost immediately repealed the differential duty, and that British ship, ping was placed upon the same terms and upon the same level in the ports of Portugal as the shipping of the country. But upon the practical question of the course we ought now to adopt, I confess that I take a somewhat different view from several of my hon. Friends who have spoken to-night. If we were called upon merely to discuss the general question of the policy or impolicy of repealing the Navigation Laws, I should say that under all circumstances, and at every opportunity, I should feel it my duty to express an opinion that that repeal was a hasty, ill-considered, and perilous act. But that is not the question we are called upon to decide to-night. The Amendment of my right hon. Friend refers entirely to the clause in the Act of Victoria, commonly called "the Retaliatory Clause." I admit that that Clause, as it appeared in the Act, was full of difficulties. But allow me to ask Her Majesty's Government, who are responsible for the form which it assumes in our legislation, and for the difficulties which in consequence of that form we experience? It was framed in the manner in which it now appears, from no want of warning and counsel on the part of several persons of considerable authority on this side of the House. The Government were told that it was not wise to part with power; that that boon, if it was to be conceded to foreign countries, ought to have been given for an equivalent; and that the best course would have been to invest Her Majesty in Council with the right to extend those advantages to other countries in return for equivalent advantages. That course was urged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stamford, and also by the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), and in another place by Lord Stanley; yet, notwithstanding these warnings, the Government thought fit to frame the Act in the manner in which it appears on the Statute-book. They are responsible for the difficulties which have been so graphically described by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Board of Control; and while they are responsible 1461 for those difficulties, they are also responsible for securing to the country those benefits which this Clause was intended to confer. Her Majesty's Ministers have now formally announced to the House that under this Clause they are at the present moment in active negotiations with three Powers; and I confess that under these circumstances I do not see how my right hon. Friend can press his Amendment of an Address to Her Majesty, which may interfere with the negotiations which we have been assured are actively proceeding. My right hon. Friend has had an opportunity of making a statement which has received from the right hon. President of the Board of Trade such an answer as the Government can give. I think it extremely advantageous that a fair discussion on the main question should have taken place; but when we are called upon to divide on an Amendment for an Address to Her Majesty to take a step which Ministers inform us is the subject of grave negotiations with not less than three Powers, that is a course which I do not think the precedents of this House would authorise, and which I feel convinced ought in every way to be deprecated. I know there are some Gentlemen who sit behind the Treasury benches, who would think lightly of interrupting a painful negotiation, because they are unacquainted with and are not prepared for the responsibilities of office; but Opposition has some responsibilities, and I hope, therefore, that as this Amendment would interfere with negotiations at present in progress with no less than three Powers, my right hon. Friend will not press it to a division.
said: There is one omission in all the speeches which have been heard from hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. It is clear that the shipowners complain that they have not so much trade as they want; and they as clearly desire and ask, that the trade of somebody else shall be stopped, that they may benefit by it. But they never tell us whose trade they want to stop, or, in popular language, who it is that is to suffer. I can tell hon. Gentlemen briefly: it is the trade of my constituents and what may be called the commercial interest in general, meaning by that term all, whether manufacturers or merchants, who are engaged in producing or transferring the goods which go to the foreigner in exchange for what is received from him. The enormous mistake of hon. Gentlemen opposite 1462 is in not discovering, that it is we who are their real rivals on these occasions, and not the foreigner, It is we, who pay taxes as much as hon. Gentlemen opposite or their supporters, and are in every respect as much a component part of the country as themselves. And this is what is called Protection to British Industry, and what the country at the next election is to be stirred up to support, Put down the British commercial interest wherever a man can be found to Bay he should be the better for it, leaving as the balance of the account, that the consumer is to pay the difference of price; and call this Protection to British Industry. The commercial interest is to be the resource for every man who thinks he can gain by taking from it. As Talleyrand said of Bentham, Pillez-le bien; il est toujours riche. One word more on the immediate demand of the present Amendment. The demand is for retaliation. In all cases of retaliation, there is the question whether it is not of the kind which in proverbial parlance more forcible than elegant, is called cutting off the nose to be revenged on the face. There is one national advantage we receive from the freedom of trade with us allowed to foreigners; there is a second national advantage which we should receive if foreigners would allow the same freedom of trade with them. And the proposal put forward under the phrases of retaliation, reciprocity, and protection to the public, is, that in revenge for not having both, we should voluntarily cut off the first.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I do not quite understand, after the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), with what view this Motion has been brought forward. The hon. Gentleman says, and says with great truth and with much justice, that when a Government is engaged in negotiations with other countries, it is not seemly or fitting (without some great cause for mistrust, which can be proved to the satisfaction of the House) to interrupt and prescribe the course of those negotiations, to take them, out of the hands of the Government, and to assign them to other management. The hon. Gentleman is quite right in his statement, and his argument is conclusive; but I cannot but wonder that this view of the case did not present itself to the mind of the hon. Member himself, or to that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), before they made 1463 a solemn announcement of their intention to bring forward this Motion, and before they addressed themselves with so much pomp and circumstance to the task of soliciting the opinion of this House with respect to it. Already the Government has had occasion to appreciate the salutary effect of the Clause to which the Motion referred; and it has been proved to the satisfaction of every unprejudiced mind that reciprocity has not been denied by the United States, by Holland, by Prussia, or by the Northern Powers. The only question which remained for our consideration was, whether some other of the Powers who have a mercantile marine—though on no very extensive scale—should he compelled by the effect of that Clause to grant a similar reciprocity. With regard to the principal of these—Spain—the question has been, upon more than one occasion, brought before this House, and the hon. Member cannot, consequently, have been ignorant that negotiations are in progress of completion on the subject. After so many preliminary flourishes—after a whole week's preparations—and after the grand and magniloquent announcements which we have had from time to time on the subject of this Motion, it is certainly rather a sudden discovery for the hon. Member to make, at this hour, that it is not proper to interfere with negotiations which are pending. But I am glad to perceive even these tardy indications of repentance. Although the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Herries) Motion was rather a narrow one, and did not aim directly either at the restoration of the Navigation Laws or of protection; his arguments, and those of the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. G. F. Young), went very far beyond the terms of the Motion. The whole of their arguments were intended to prove that we were in a wrong course altogether, and that the only thing for us was not to carry into effect one single Clause of the Act for the repeal of the Navigation Laws, but to repeal that Act altogether, and to restore those laws to their original force and vigour. To he sure, if we were to do any such thing, we should deprive ourselves of the means of commerce, and hand over the coasting trade to the United States. If the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire and his friends think that they have had a complete answer to all their charges, then has their whole case broken down, and it is clear that, so far from facts supporting their allegations, my right hon. Friend the 1464 President of the Board of Trade, and my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. J. Wilson), have supplied a complete refutation to their allegations, and have proved that the policy of Parliament, during these last two years has been a most successful policy. If the hon. Gentlemen opposite are forced to admit that all statistics, statements, and investigations of facts have proved them to be in error, and the majority of this House to be right, I shall be glad to find that confession ratified and recorded by the decision of the House.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third Time."
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that in reference to the question asked by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz), as to the reduction of the duty on tin, he confessed it was a subject well worth attention. At this period of the Session, however, it could hardly be advantageously discussed, but on any future occasion when the Customs were being dealt with, the tin duties should not escape attention.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he must complain that after the time of the House had been occupied in the fruitless discussion which had taken place, such a course was most unfair.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he was most anxious not to do anything that could for a moment be considered unfair, but he was anxious to bring under the attention of the House the claims of persons interested in West India sugar, and as it would occupy some time, it would hardly be thought desirable that he should bring on the question at that hour.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the case his hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) wished to bring under the attention of the House, was that of the West Indians and others 1465 engaged in the sugar trade, who claimed to have the privilege of refining sugar in bond. He thought, however, it was impossible to postpone further the third reading of so important a measure as the Customs Bill, which was not only of importance to the sugar grower, inasmuch as it reduced the duty on coffee, but also to the shipping trade by reducing the duty on timber.
§ MR. G. F. YOUNG
said, that the shipping trade considered that the reduction of the timber duty would be of no benefit to them, but that it would operate as a bounty on the introduction of Baltic timber in foreign ships.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 50; Noes 158: Majority 108.
|List of the AYES|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Lennox, Lord A. G.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Bankes, G.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Baring, T.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Napier, J.|
|Beresford, W.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Packe, C.W.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Renton, J. C.|
|Buller, Sir J.Y.||Sandars, G.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Clive, H. B.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Spooner, R.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Stafford, A.|
|Disraeli, B.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Dunne, Col.||Taylor, Col.|
|Edwards, H.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Fox, S. W. L.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Waddington, D.|
|Goold, W.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Grogan, E.||Whiteside, J.|
|Gwyn, H.||Williams, T. P.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Young. G. F.|
|Henley, J. W.|
|Herries, it. hon. J. C.||TELLERS.|
|Hudson, G.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Knox, Col.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, Sir T. N.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Brotherton, J.|
|Adair, H. E.||Brown, W.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Bruce, Lord E.|
|Anderson, A.||Bunbury, E. H.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Butler, P. S.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Buxton, Sir E. N.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Cardwell, E.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Carew, W. H. P.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F.T.||Carter, J. B.|
|Bass, M. T.||Cavendish, hon. C. C.|
|Bell, J.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Cholmeley, Sir M.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Clements, hon. C. S.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Cobden, R.|
|Bernal, R.||Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Collins, T.|
|Bright, J.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Dawes, E.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Denison, J. E.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Moffatt, G.|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Duncan, G.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Dundas, Adm.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Osborne, R.|
|Ellis, J.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Evans, J.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Ewart, W.||Parker, J.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Pigott, F.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hon. J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Pinney W.|
|Forster, M.||Ponsonby, hon. C. F.|
|Fox, W. J.||Power, Dr.|
|Freestun, Col.||Price, Sir R.|
|Geach, C.||Pusey, P.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Ricardo, O.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Rich, H.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Romilly, Col.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Grey, R. W.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Hastie, A.||Scholefield, W.|
|Hatchell, rt. hon. J.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Hawes, B.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Seymour, Lord|
|Headlam, T. E.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Smith, J. A.|
|Heywood, J.||Somers, J. P.|
|Hindley, C.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Hothouse, T. B.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Hollond, R.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Hutt, W.||Thompson, Col.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Thornely, T.|
|Johnstone, J.||Tufnell, rt. hon. H.|
|Kershaw, J.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Wakley, T.|
|Langston, W. H. P. G.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Legh, G. C.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Willyams, H.|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Locke, J.||Wilson, J.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Wilson, M.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Wood, Sir W. P.|
|Magan, W. H.||Wyvill, M.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Young, Sir J.|
|Martin, C. W.||TELLERS.|
|Matheson, A.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Matheson, Col.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I am not surprised that the majority of this House resist the discussion of the Motion of my hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington). They do not want, they do not wish, discussion. The noble Lord at the head of the Government says we are wasting time; but I want 1467 to know how an independent Member of Parliament is to bring forward any question, unless he takes some such opportunity. This is no insignificant question. It is one which deeply affects the mercantile classes in this country, and is eminently entitled to the consideration of the House. But, Sir, the First Minister of the Crown gets up and tells us the time of the House is not to be wasted. I protest against the tone of the Minister. I want him to understand that this House has some other duties to perform than to pass Government measures; and though I do not wish to occasion any angry feeling, I think the Government has not taken the proper course, and that my hon. Friend is entitled to have his case brought under the consideration of the House.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought the time at which the hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) wished to bring forward his Motion, singularly inopportune. During the whole of the Session they had heard nothing of it, and when the House went into a Committee of Supply, the hon. Gentleman was not in his place. This was not a Bill of Ministers, but a Bill of the House, to which there had been no opposition from beginning to end. He did not think it was fair to ask a postponement now.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I did not say the time of the House had been wasted, I said it had been occupied in a fruitless discussion.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
would suggest that as the hon. Baronet would yet have several other opportunities, before the close of the Session, for bringing forward the case he was anxious to submit to the House, he ought not to press it on the present occasion.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that in moving the adjournment of the House, which he should now do, it was not his wish to interpose any unnecessary delay, but he did so to have an opportunity of again appealing to the noble Lord at the head of the Government to comply with the request he had made, and to allow the third reading of this Bill to be taken to-morrow, as he (Sir J. Pakington) was anxious to have a debate on his Motion before the Bill should be read a third time.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, the Bill 1468 had already been delayed a considerable time, and he could not consent to postpone the third reading.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 22; Noes 146: Majority 124.
|List of the AYES.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Renton, J. C.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Bankes, G.||Spooner, R.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Taylor, Col.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Dunne, Col.||Waddington, D.|
|Goold, W.||Williams, T. P.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Young, G. F.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||TELLERS.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Grogan, E.|
|Packe, C. W.||Newdegate, C. N.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3°; Clause added; Bill passed.