HC Deb 06 August 1860 vol 160 cc698-815

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.


Mr. Massey, before I comment upon the Resolutions of which notice has been given in my name, I may, perhaps, do well to explain one or two points of detail in the arrangement of those Resolutions which may have suggested doubts to the minds of some hon. Members who are not minutely acquainted with the causes of that arrangement. It will be observed that a variety of articles are specified in the Resolutions, and that generally those articles are placed at 16s. per cwt. duty; but there are certain exceptions, the reasons for which I will briefly state. Upon hooks admitted under treaties of international copyright—that is, under treaties now of considerable standing and not in connection with any legislation of the present year—we propose simply to continue the duties to which they are now liable—namely, 15s. per cwt. Paper hangings are placed in this list at Ms. per cwt., the duty to which that article is subject by law at this moment; but that law is one of recent date, one of the present Session, and is one of the arrangements made under the Commercial Treaty with France. In the same position is pasteboard, which is placed at 15s. per cwt., the rate at which it was fixed early in the Session in accordance with the Commercial Treaty. All the other items, I think, sufficiently explain themselves, and it will be seen that they fall within this general view—that whereas the Excise duty upon paper chargeable in this country is 14s. per cwt. and 5 per cent additional, which brings it up to 14s. 8d. and a fraction, we propose to add to that sum Is.d. by way of compensation to our paper-makers for the disadvantages and restrictions of the Excise system, so far as they can be appreciated, and for the advantages which the foreign makers enjoy under the Customs laws, so as to make the amount as near as possible equivalent to stipulations of the 7th Article of the treaty. The Committee will have perceived that the Resolution has been divided into two Resolutions. Each is an exact counterpart of the other, except that generally they relate to importations taking place from different countries. The first Resolution relates to the importations which may take place under the treaty with France, and the second Resolution generalizes the particular arrangement to which that treaty binds us, and establishes, should it be adopted, one rule for importations from all the world. The reason why the Government have divided the propositions will, I hope, be sufficiently obvious. There are certain considerations, in their view of the highest importance, which are applicable to the first Resolution exclusively, I mean those considerations which grow out of the recent treaty, and the steps taken by the House in relation to that treaty. Those considerations have no bearing upon the second Resolution, which is a matter of pure commercial policy. In consequence of the difference of motives which might guide the votes of the Committee, the Government thought it would be fair to the House to have each subject separately submitted to them.

Now, Sir, the question we have to discuss to-night is, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Government, a very small and minute question, either as respects the revenue or its effects upon the trade with which it is connected. Now, as to revenue, only a few thousands a year have been levied for duty upon foreign paper, and the effect of a diminution on that duty, inasmuch as it is a differential duty, would be, of course, to increase the customs revenue—the general revenue—by stimulating consumption. At the same time, although the effect will be favourable to the revenue, I shall not dwell upon it as a matter of importance, which need weigh materially in forming the judgment of the Committee. Nor with respect to the particular trade, as far as our investigations have led us, should we be justified in representing to the Committee that we are going, by means of this change of the law, to effect a great and important revolution in the price of this peculiar article of consumption, whatever the exaggerated apprehensions of particular classes may anticipate. In speaking of those exaggerations I amt speaking of nothing peculiar to those classes, but I speak of the tone, the feeling, and the expectations which have influenced, one after another, almost every class of producers in this country, and which have led them into successive delusions which nothing but experience has sufficed to dissipate. When I speak of those anticipations I refer to the dismal pictures that are drawn by some of the utter ruin that is about to befall them. But, Sir, if that ruin is about to fall upon them, it will only be a proof that heretofore they have been taxing the British public to an enormous, an unjustifiable extent'. If these allegations are well founded, that is the conclusion to which they will force us. But, in truth, I think no impartial examiner of this question, who has the advantage of the light which is thrown upon it by all previous discussions of a similar kind, can possibly believe that they are well founded. I think, setting mere opinions aside, there are facts—undeniable, indisputable fact3—which will justify the opinion I have expressed. Those facts I will presently refer to. But if the Government be asked, "What is it we may expect from this disturbance of interests—what will be the advantage to the British public by this change in the law?" I say we do not stand minutely or exclusively upon the advantage which the British public will derive from the change of this particular law; but at the same time I believe there will be advantages to certain branches of trade, particularly in certain times of special demand, when the consumer of paper will have the very same advantage which the consumer of every other article has had—namely, the advantage of calling in, in aid of the productive power of his own country, the productive power of foreign countries, and thus reducing the undue pressure upon the market by resorting to sources where, for the moment at least, the article is to be obtained upon better terms. But, however small this question may be when intrinsically regarded, it is great in connection with principles of high importance. These principles are, in the first place, pledges which we think to be obligations of honour in connection with the Commercial Treaty with France, and which I will proceed immediately to explain; and not obligations only of honour, but obligations of policy also; for this question Trill be a test of the real opinions and convictions of the present House of Commons in regard to that system of commercial legislation which, triumphing over all resistance, has now become established in this country, and has held out a noble example to the world. And again, in connection with these principles of policy, I shall have to refer to certain considerations of justice—of justice to particular classes and interests which will suffer, not under the legislation of foreign countries, but under your legislation, unless, listening to the appeal of the Government, the Committee shall think fit to adopt these Resolutions.

I come, first, to consider this question as it arises out of the Commercial Treaty with France; and in this aspect it is of the utmost importance, both on account of the delicate nature of the article it deals with, and likewise because that treaty has undoubtedly been the cause of our making at this particular moment the proposals which I have now to submit to the Committee. It was only a very short time ago that I heard, with very great surprise, that there were Gentlemen in this House who doubted whether the Treaty of Commerce concluded between Great Britain and France bound Her Majesty to propose to Parliament that the Customs' duty on foreign paper should be reduced to a level with the Excise duty at home. In using the term "level with the Excise," I will not encumber my statement by specifically using it every time I make any reference to the small additions to the Customs' duties that may. conformably to the terms of the treaty, be charged in compensation of indirect expenses of Excise. It was with surprise I heard that we could have so entirely failed in conveying into the terms of direct stipulation the clear and manifest intentions with which the negotiations with France had been commenced and concluded. Let us look first of all to the Articles of the Treaty themselves, and, secondly, to such indirect and collateral evidence as can throw light upon it. I have referred to the doubts that I understand have been entertained respecting the sense and meaning of the treaty as my justification for adverting to a subject which, if it had been three or four months further back in the Session, I should not have thought it justifiable to trouble the House with any arguments upon at all. The Articles that relate more or less to this and kindred matters are the 7th, 8th, and 9th. In the 7th Article Her Majesty promises to recommend to Parliament to admit into the United Kingdom merchandise imported from France at a rate of duty equal to the Excise duty, which is or shall hereafter be levied on articles of the same description produced in the United Kingdom; and it then goes on to make provision—to which I need not particularly refer—for an augmentation of the amount on account of the indirect Excise charge. I do not wish to venture on the dangerous ground of French scholarship; but it may be worth while for hon. Members who are confident of their accomplishments to refer to the French version of the treaty—a coordinate version, be it observed, and binding upon us as well and as much as the English version. They will then see that, whereas in the British version of the Articles the word "merchandise" is used without any emphasis or article to limit or qualify, in the French version it is used with a definite article;—that evidently, as we think, points—if, indeed, that evidence were wanting, which I do not think it is—towards the particular class of commodities to which the Article refers—namely, that class of articles that are subject to duties of Excise in England. However, I think that the words themselves may primá facie be allowed to bear clearly upon that class of articles that are subject to duties of Excise. When we come to the 8th Article we find an enumeration of five particular commodities; and with respect to these five commodities more specific provisions are made than the provisions of the 7th Article supplied. When we come to the 9th Article we there find a new stipulation, and it is this:— It is understood between the two high contracting Powers that, if one of them thinks it necessary to establish an Excise tax or inland duty on any article of home production or manufacture which comprised in the preceding enumerated articles, the foreign imported article of the same description may be immediately liable to an equivalent duty on importation. What is the meaning, then, of the 9th Article? It refers to a long list of commodities contained in a prior Article of the Treaty, in respect of which we had made a distinct and definite stipulation that they should be admitted into this country free of all duty whatever. Had the treaty stood thus, as those articles are not now subject to duties of Excise, it might have appeared that under the treaty we were absolutely precluded from charging a duty of Excise on any one of those articles and balancing the amount by countervailing Customs' duties; and therefore this 9th Article has been introduced to give perfect liberty to the Imperial legislation in that respect. But the very fact that such an Article has been introduced is in itself a distinct witness to the meaning of the 7th Article, and shows that the 7th Article refers to those articles that are liable to duties of Excise; while the 9th Article gives the right to bring in that category articles that are not liable to duties of Excise. But I am told that the 7th Article is merely a preface to the 8th, and that the 8th Article enumerates and exhausts the particulars to which the 7th Article refers. If it does not, then I apprehend it will be extremely difficult to bring forward any argument to show that this Article does not stringently apply to particular cases. Let us see what the commodities comprised in the 8th Article really are. The 7th Article, let it be observed, embraces all commodities subject to duties of Excise, and those commodities alone. It may be said, why, then, have you the 8th Article at all? Why was it not enough for France to accept the 7th Article with the general stipulations it contains? Why, for the plainest possible reason—that the 8th Article is in every case—in every stipulation it contains—favourable to France, and more favourable than the 7th. The 7th Article lays down a general principle which was adopted at our suggestion; the 8th Article sets forth certain particular commodities with respect to which France has a special interest. The 7th Article leaves the duties of Excise variable; the 8th Article—not in every case, but in most Ncases—brings them either to an absolute and fixed standard, or else to a maximum. The 7tli Article gives to France the advantage only of an indeterminate stipulation; for under that article it would have been wholly within the discretion of the British Government to say what was or what was not the proper addition to be made to the Customs' duties to balance the charges of Excise; but the 8th Article, on the contrary, specifies or stipulates what the positive amount of those duties shall be, and either disposes of what the French call the surtax altogether, or restrains it within the limit of a particular sum; and therefore there is a particular and sufficient reason in any single case why certain commodities should be specified in the 8th Article of the Treaty, for there is not one of those specifications that does not give to France a security and advantage over and above what she would have had under the 7th Article. For example, take the case of spirits. Under the 8th Article it was in our power to charge upon spirits a surtax of 2d. a gallon. Let me suppose that the 8th Article had not existed, but only the 7th. When our distillers came to us with their case they showed that they were entitled to a surtax of 5d. a gallon and if it had not been for the 8th Article we should have been placed under the necessity, as between ourselves and France, of charging 5d. or 6d. a gallon, or any other amount that might be supposed to compensate for the disadvantages of our distillers. But inasmuch as this 8th Article was here, binding us to a surtax of 2d., it was not in our power to do any such thing, and we could only alter that surtax by specific application to France, which it would have been in the power of France to decline, in case she thought we were attempting to take undue advantage of her. In the same way with the second commodity, which is French colonial spirits. Here the stipulation is that French colonial spirits shall be admitted at a duty exactly the same with that levied on the spirits of the British Colonies. The third article is that of paperhangins imported from France, and we have stipulated there, to admit French paperhangings at the fixed duty of 14s. a cwt. That is a duty actually lower than the duty of Excise paid in this country. Into the details of this case I will not enter, or into the reasons why it was just to impose a duty somewhat lower than the duty of Excise; I refer to it only as showing that there was a most distinct and specific reason why a specific stipulation as to that commodity should be included in this Article. It was a commodity in which France is capable of carrying on a very considerable trade, and she took this stipulation as a security for herself. Then with regard to cardboard there is a provision almost similar. It is stipulated that no duty shall be levied in this country on the article of cardboard which shall exceed 15s. a cwt. Hence, instead of leaving the duty to be varied as it might have been under the 7th Article, it is tied to an absolute maximum; and if the House of Commons thought fit to double the Excise duty on paper, still it would not be in the power of the House, without the permission of France, to make any augmentation in the duty now charged on cardboard. The last commodity mentioned in the Article is that of gold and silver plate. This, again, was a commodity in which France felt a special interest. This was not an excisable commodity at all. It had nothing whatever to do with the stipulations of the 7th Article, but it was one with respect to which, owing to its being under the department of our stamp laws—as French colonial spirits belonged to the department of Customs—France thought I fit to have a specific and determinate engagement, on which she could place a more clear and full reliance than it was possible for her to place under the comparatively vague and indeterminate stipulation of the 7th Article. Therefore, when I am asked what is the 8th Article, I have not the slightest difficulty in replying that it contains a group of particular stipulations with respect to which France had felt a special interest, and which, on account of their importance to her, both in her judgment and in ours, required a particular enumeration and introduction of covenants of special and definite obligation. It will be seen from what I have said that the 7th, 8th, and 9th Articles all hang together; that the 7th makes provision for articles now subject to Excise duties, and lays down the principle on which they are to be dealt with; that the 8th Article makes certain stipulations in respect to commodities specially interesting to France; and that the 9th Article makes provision for the liberty of the Legislatures of both countries to impose domestic duties on certain articles not now subjected to duties. But I say this is not only the reasonable construction of the Article. I ask of what other construction is the Article susceptible? If I am told that the list was exhausted, and that we are not bound to regulate any Customs' duties except those enumerated in the 8th Article, that is a construction, if I may so call it, which is opposed not only to all the principles of sound interpretation, but to all the collateral evidence bearing on the interpretation of the treaty that has been concluded. If that be the right construction, the 7th Article is superfluous, and ought to have no place in this treaty. Of what use is this Article, if all that it contains is in the 8th Article? Is that a rational construction which, when a treaty is divided into certain leading parts, assumes that one of these Articles has no sense, meaning, or application whatever? But we are not entirely reduced to the necessity, though that is not a very hard necessity, of looking to the plain and obvious meaning of these Articles. There is indisputable evidence in the correspondence between the two Governments, which the Committee will, I think, consider to be conclusive as to their intentions. Here are two short paragraphs I will read—one explains the general principle, the other explains distinctly and positively the plan and office of the 7th Article. At the end of the third page of the correspondence there is a paragraph which I will read, referring to the general principle of the treaty; and how, having heard that, it will be possible for any one to contend that the treaty leaves us at liberty to maintain a protective duty upon any article imported from France I am at a loss to imagine. A corresponding paragraph describes the basis of the treaty on the English side. On the French side it is stated to be— A general transition, so far as British commodities are concerned, from prohibition or high duty to duties at a moderate rate. What is to be the basis of the treaty on the English side? On the side of England it is stated to be— The total abolition of Customs' duties on French productions where fiscal considerations will permit it, and reduction to the lowest practicable point; together with the entire abandonment of any protective impost on behalf of a British and against a French commodity where fiscal considerations will not allow total abolition. Now, I address myself to the candour, the ingenuousness, I would almost say the honour of an assembly of British gentlemen, and I will ask whether it must not be admitted that, so far as the intentions of the two countries are concerned, and particularly so far as the intentions of the Government of Great Britain are concerned—which I presume are not narrowed by any representations from the other side—the correspondence does not show beyond dispute that our intention and meaning was to part in every case with every vestige of a protective impost. That was the general principle. But that was not all; for, although this correspondence is not very bulky, and is not very determinate in its specifications, yet it happens that it does bear specifically on this particular Article. I hope hon. Gentlemen will refer to the 6th page of the Correspondence, and there they will find three short paragraphs marked respectively A, B, and C, in which my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs writes, that with respect to the general structure of the treaty the best course would be— A. To insert in the treaty a list of the articles on which duties are to be abolished. B. To insert, likewise, in express terms, the intended reductions on brandy and wine. Brandy and wine are both excisable articles. I now come to a paragraph which contains an authoritative and most perspicuous comment on the 7th Article:— C. To frame an article by which Her Majesty shall engage to propose to Parliament that the duties of Customs generally on articles imported from France into this country, but which are subject here to duties of Excise, shall be reduced to a rate as nearly as may be equal to that of the duties of Excise, together with a reasonable allowance for the costs, if any, which such duties of Excise may be shown to entail. Here, again, I would ask the Committee, whether it is possible to give a construction more accurately corresponding with that which I put some minutes ago on the 7th, than by recording the very words in which my noble Friend (Lord John Russell) recommended such an Article to be drawn and inserted in the treaty, for the purpose of regulating it so far as the duties of Excise were concerned. That is the indirect and collateral evidence that bears on the meaning of the treaty. But I have spoken of the treaty as containing an absolute and indispensable obligation, without reference to the question whether the other party to the treaty is or is not disposed to bind us to the execution of all its engagements. I must repeat to the Committee, as rather grossly erroneous representations have gone abroad, that Her Majesty's Government were careful, to the best of their ability, that this House should not be entrapped under general words into giving a sanction to the arrangement of this treaty further than they were absolutely conscious of at the time. This House had given a general sanction to the treaty, and entered into a specific pledge to take the steps necessary to give effect to the treaty. When did it enter into that engagement? Not in the dark. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks at the beginning of the Session recommended that we should begin with a general affirmation or rejection of the treaty. One of the objections which Her Majesty's Government had to that proposal was, that the fairest course would be to lay before the House one by one the stipulations of the treaty, and then having assented to them, that the House should be challenged to a general decision upon the treaty. That was done, and I do not know one stipulation of the treaty, with one insignificant exception, upon which we did not take the vote of the House before my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex proposed an Address giving a general sanction to the treaty. That exception was the commodity of hops, upon which no vote had been given, the question of hops being one of limited importance so far as the treaty was concerned, and the intentions of the Government having been brought before Parliament in the most specific manner, because the Vote that was carried was on the Notice Paper, and stood for discussion the same evening that the Address was moved, although we were unable to proceed with it for four or five days afterwards. But it has been said that at the time this House gave a general sanction to the treaty, they were misled by an assurance from my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that the French Government intended to remove the prohibition on the export of rags. There are ways of making mountains out of molehills, and a more singular example of the facility with which under favourable circumstances that process can be effected I never remember, than this particular instance of protection. It may well be that the French Government has used its best ability to carry through the Legislature a measure for the removal of that prohibition; but the Protectionists of France have for the moment proved too strong for the efforts and influences of the Government. I hope that the example which will be set by the Committee on this occasion, like the example set by the British Legislature during the last twenty years, will afford no confirmation and no encouragement to those French Protectionists, but that on the contrary it will strengthen the hands of the Government and of those enlightened writers in France who are fighting manfully the battle of free trade. I do not doubt that the failure of the French Government to carry their proposal for the removal of this prohibition on the export of rags influenced them in the courteous and handsome act that I will refer to presently. But I wish now to say a word relative to this prohibition to export rags of which so much has been made. Why, Sir, there is no question more insignificant to the papermaker than this export of French rags. I will presently show what a delusion this alleged difficulty of obtaining rags from foreign countries is, "Ragged" as the whole case is there is no part of it so hollow or so trivial as this. Where do you want to go to get rags? Do you wish to buy in the dearest market? If you want to buy in the dearest market by all means go to France. France is not a cheap country for rags. France is a dear country for rags, and is obliged to import rags for its own use. And though France might casually be able to export rags of particular kinds, at particular times, and under particular circumstances, that by no moans prove be a cheap market or a great exporting country in regard to that article. I venture to assert that we send more rags out of this country every year than in any year we should obtain from France, if the prohibition on the exportation and all duty were removed.

The communications between the French and British Governments with regard to the Treaty of Commerce have, I am happy to say, been conducted on every point, up to the present time, in a spirit of uniform liberality and mutual accommodation, each being anxious to forward the great purposes for which the treaty was designed. Whenever it has been found necessary in any respect to accommodate the original stipulations of the treaty to altered circumstances, the one Government has been ready to meet the other; and I am persuaded that in exhibiting that disposition they have been doing what is agreeable to the enlightened opinion of both countries. This is not the first Article which has been made the ground of an attack on the French Treaty. In February last an assault was made, in the first instance, on the Article in regard to ships. When that failed—when it was found that the Article meant exactly the reverse of what its first critics had supposed, a most vigorous assault was made, under the daring leadership of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) on the article in regard to coal. The attack was hotly urged, and a great deal of smoke was raised. Matters really began to look serious; and upon the instant the French Government made it known to us that they were willing to recede from that stipulation in order to secure the acceptance of the treaty, and the realization of those immense advantages to both countries—as we thought then and as we think more decidedly now—which it was calculated to produce. We have a repetition of the same liberal conduct on this occasion. Protectionism in all countries is a principle which at any rate has the faculty of making a j very considerable noise, and of giving the impression to those at a distance that where there is so much noise there must, at any rate, be some degree of reason for it. The French Government have made known to us that they will not, if it is our desire, press upon us the immediate fulfilment of the stipulation in regard to paper. The answer we have made is the same as in the case of the Article in regard to coal. I must say that the fight made by the right hon. Member for Stroud and others against; the Article relating to coal possessed at least this nobler feature—the right hon. Gentleman did not come forward then as the champion of a class interest, using those narrow arguments which are meant to sustain the particular interests of persons in a particular trade as against the general; public: he stood forward then to declare that we were promoting the interests of a class—and no doubt the immediate effect I of the Article was to raise the price of coal—and sacrificing the interests of the country. We did not admit that representation; but it is due to him to notice the difference between that case and the present. On that occasion, when he was able to urge that we were sacrificing important interests of this country, and when we were able to inform the House of Commons of the disposition of the French Government not to press the immediate fulfilment of that Article if it were likely to create any difficulty in giving effect to the instrument as a whole—even then neither the Government nor the House of Commons would take advantage of their handsome conduct or ask a release from an obligation which they deemed to be in itself sound, right, and just. If, indeed it be true that we have—whether inadvertently or not it matters not—bound ourselves in regard to this Article of paper to do what is wrong, oppressive, and unequal as regards the British [producer, then let us accept the offer of the French Government—let us go to them and request to be released from the stipulation. I own I do not think such requests are desirable between the Governments of independent States, for to some extent they tend to compromise that position of erect and perfect dignity which every independent Government ought to maintain in the face of every other. Still, if—advertly or inadvertently, it matters not—we have committed ourselves to an injustice, then let us beg to be released from this painful and onerous obligation. But if, on the contrary, the obligation we have contracted is agreeable to justice, to policy, to prudence, and to precedent—if it confirms au undisputed principle of legislation, and is demanded by the most absolute considerations of justice to other classes of British producers, and if the generous release that is offered to us is one that would only have the effect of prolonging paralysis and uncertainty; so that, instead of conferring a boon, it would in reality inflict an injury on those in whoso interest it maybe intended—then the offer of the French Government, though it may deserve our acknowledgments, is no reason why we should recede or stop short in that path of policy and wisdom in which we have travelled with so much advantage to the country—no reason why we should not do that justice in this instance which we have striven to do in every similar case. Even on the comparatively narrow ground of class interests, nothing could be more undesirable than that we should avail ourselves of the offer of France not to carry this stipulation into effect at the present moment. In every case of this kind, without exception, where the alarms of a protected class have been awakened by the prospect of an impending change of the law, those alarms have proved to be, as I should say, utterly groundless when tested by experience. But, without asking others to go so far, we may say that they have proved, at least, to be grossly exaggerated, That being so, there could be no greater cruelty to the papermakers than that which my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller) intends, if he can, to inflict upon them—that of keeping them in a state of suspense for the few months which separate the present late Session of Parliament from the next, I hope, not too early Session. For those few months the papermakers would enjoy or suffer—which is it?—the benefits of my hon. Friend's protection. I am satisfied that they would suffer greatly, because then this engagement which we should have postponed would come back upon us as all engagements are apt to do upon those who are not prompt to discharge them; and nothing would be realized by my hon. Friend except a prolonged stagnation of business, to be measured as to its amount, not by the small and limited consequences of the changes we propose, but by the large and vague conception of them which is now bewildering the imaginations of the papermakers, and has taken possession for the moment even of the generally sound judgment of my hon. Friend. On the ground of humanity you ought not to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. It is true humanity to let a man loose from being the victim of his own groundless alarms. On the ground of humanity to the manufacturers this question should be brought to a speedy and decided issue. If by a vote in his favour to-night my hon. Friend would have got rid of the stipulation altogether, I could better understand his course. There would then be, if not absolute repose, something approaching to it. It must be distinctly understood that we have, on the part of the French Government, not only, in the first place, the offer of a short respite, but, in the second place, a distinct assertion, responded to in our own bosoms, and sustained by the unanimous and undoubting opinion of all the legal advisers of the Crown ["Oh!"], that this question is within the treaty. To those two or three Gentlemen who seemed to sneer when I referred to the opinion of the legal advisers of the Crown, let mo observe that the interpretation of a treaty is not like the interpretation of an Act of Parliament, when the Attorney General that is in and the Attorney General that is out may bandy opinions to and fro; but that on this occasion the two parties whose duty it is to construe the engagement are two Crowns, and the interpretation fixed upon it by England, acting on the advice of her legal authorities, is the same as that which the French Government attach to it. Of course, I do not enter into the question how far the House of Commons is bound by any opinion of this kind with regard to the construction of its own Resolution. That is a distinct question altogether. I mention it because it is one which it is important should be kept in view by those who approach the consideration of this question with the view of recommending any particular course. The question before us, however, is one which, independent of authorities, turns very much on considerations which have long been familiar to the mind of every successive British Parliament—I moan considerations of policy. It is a kind of touchstone which is going to be applied to the professions both of the old and of the new friends of free trade. Free trade received in the commencement of the year illustrious accessions. There were Gentlemen on the opposite Bench, who had never made similar declarations before, who made their confession of faith as Free-traders in the most unequivocal and unrestricted terms. There are all through the House, both on that side and on this, many Gentlemen who have for many years, some of them during their whole lives, entertained those opinions; but somehow or other we are always met with that tendency to deny in a particular case what is admitted in general. It is just like confession of sins. Nobody has any difficulty at all in making a general confes- sion of being very unworthy, falling greatly below the standard of duty; but touch a man by pointing out to him some particular act he has done which is wrong, and immediately he is in arms for his own defence. So it is with Protection. I admit that there have been classes, distinguished exceptions to the rule, who have been Freetraders in their own case. But they are exceptions to the rule, and they are exceptions of that nature which prove the rule: for unquestionably, as a general rule, the people of England have not been Freetraders each man in his own case. Those, at any rate, who have been connected with each particular kind of protection have uniformerly entertained those originally respectable, hut now after so much experience chimerical, apprehensions of mischief, and even total ruin, that was to be brought upon them by free trade. There is a certain kind of consistency and coherency to be found generally even within the walls of a lunatic asylum, and in the arguments of our protected interests there is always the same sort of consistency and coherency to be discovered. I never saw a class—and in the course of my experience I have seen many—who were not profoundly persuaded that their own case was in its nature exceptional; and of course every trade has got some feature or other that belongs to itself, and not possessed in precisely the same form by other trades. The form which the malady assumes is always the same. They invariably fix upon that particular feature, whatever it may be, and they say that, although free trade was perfectly right in every other case, yet by reason of that particular feature it is not applicable to theirs; and I declare that, as it might be perfectly possible for an ingenious man to frame a schedule to be put at the end of a Bill with certain blanks to be filled up with names and dates, even so you might frame a schedule of these Protectionist arguments, putting in paper one day, corn another, corks another, shoes another, and silks another; but, fill up the blanks as you may, the skeleton of the argument—the bone and substance of the argument—are always precisely one and the same. What really are the considerations which ought to govern a country situated like England? We have been engaged for twenty years—I might perhaps say for forty years—in introducing and progressively extending the application of the principle of freedom of commerce. Few or none deny the ab- stract truth of that principle; but it must be admitted that when in a country which is blessed or cursed with a highly protective system, when you first commence the application of the principle of free trade to any particular class the operation is a rather harsh one, because that particular class is exposed to competition in what it produces before it gets the benefit of competition in what it consumes. But as you go on with the operation, as you proceed from class to class, as you liberate one branch of trade after another, that difficulty diminishes; and when freedom of trade has become your general rule, then, instead of its being harsh to apply the principle to the remaining cases, it is an enormous injustice to decline to apply it. What is our condition? Are we at the commencement of the process, or have we now arrived at its close? At the beginning of the present Session I ventured to say that our old friend Protection is now reduced to such extremities that, instead of finding a sumptuous home in palaces, he is obliged to hide himself in holes and corners. Here is the last of his holes and corners. There is not an article, excepting paper, to which it remains to apply the principle of equity and equality in trade. And what is the speciality of paper? It is that certain European countries have thought fit, in the prosecution of what they deem a wise, but what we think an unwise, policy to restrain and burden, or altogether prohibit, the exportation of rags. The papermakers fay,—I am obliged to refer to the papermakers in general, but there are a minority who, instead of concurring in the doctrines of the majority of their brethren, are among the most energetic opponents of them, and they are the men to whom we shall in the main ultimately owe the extension, the prosperity, and the power of what is to be a great manufacture,—the majority of the paper-makers say that because when they go to Germany for rags they find them saddled with a duty of £5 or £10 per ton, and because when they go to France—although they will seldom if ever go there even after the export duty is reduced—they find the door shut in their face, therefore they ask to he protected in the British market against the importation of paper from all oilier countries. Such is the principle which they require the House of Commons to adopt. Has that principle any ground in our recent legislation? Have you given the benefit of it to any other class? When you had abolished the cheap, compulsory, and servile labour of the West Indies did you, in consideration that you interfered to make his labour dear, confer upon him a monopoly of your market? When he pleaded in your face that he was to be put in competition not only with the labour of slaves, but with the slave trade, what was your reply? Your reply was that it was unjust and impolitic for the British Legislature to regulate its own commercial laws by reference to foreign legislation. Steadily, unflinchingly, invariably, without hesitation, without exception, you have acted upon that principle throughout. From one end to the other, in a long course of years, at first with doubt, but ultimately with absolute certainty founded upon growing experience, you have refused to take into view the legislation of foreign countries when you weep determining your own commercial law. You have said it is unjust to the consumer of commodities that, when he is liable to competition in what he produces, an exception should be made against him in respect to what he consumes. You have said that the British producer was entitled to every advantage you could give him in the removal of restrictions and taxes upon his trade. What have you done to the papermaker? Is he, forsooth, in a country where, if he still labours under some disadvantages in the making of paper, he has not had the benefit of the whole system of free trade? The principle of free trade has been applied to every article he consumes. In other countries the machinery for manufacturing paper is subject to heavy taxes. It has no tax here. In other countries the chemical appliances which he uses are charged with taxes, not one farthing of which is paid here. In other countries every commodity he uses as a consumer is commonly charged with an enhancement of price resulting from prohibitive and restrictive legislation. It is not so here. The papermaker wears shoes. Northampton has trembled at the change we have made in order that we might give the papermaker cheap shoes. He wears gloves. Yeovil and Worcester will tremble in order that we may give him cheap gloves. He drinks wine. Wine has been brought into competition for the first time with British beer and spirits, and it has been brought into competition with British beer and spirits at a time when every article which it is his interest as a manufacturer to have cheap has already undergone a cheapening operation at the reforming hand of the Legislature, in order that he may be a full sharer in the benefits of free trade. Under these circumstances, unsustained by a single precedent, but with every precedent against him, he asks the Legislature to reverse the principle upon which it has acted for twenty years, in order to continue to him what he says is an advantage necessary for his existence, but what in all other cases, although in those cases exactly the same thing was said beforehand, has turned out to be a delusion and a snare to the producers themselves. Let me consider what is his speciality. A distinguished champion of the papermakers, or the majority of them, states in one of the daily prints of to-day that the case of the paper-makers is not at all like that of the corn-growers. The corngrower, he says, had no special burdens. I was rather amused to read that statement. If the writer is not old enough to recollect the Corn Law agitation he must be a very precocious youth; but if his memory carries him back as far as the years from 1838 to 1846, I should think he must have heard something at that time of the special burdens of the corngrowers. This is not an unimportant issue, he stakes himself upon it. He says that if the papermakers ask for that which nobody else has got, it is because they labour under disadvantages which no other class have experienced, for, unlike the corngrowers, they are subject to special burdens. That argument will not be re-echoed from the benches opposite. I invite the declarations of right hon. Gentlemen upon the point whether the corngrowers had special burdens or not. For my own part, I thought the corn-growers had some special burdens, and I am still of that opinion; but, nevertheless, you took away their protection. The papermakers say they have a special burden—the export duty on rags in foreign countries. The special burden of the corn-growers was the imposition of a heavy mass of direct local taxation at home. That local taxation at home was within the control of the British Parliament, which was responsible for it; whereas the export duty on rags is beyond our control, and we have always steadily refused to act by reference to foreign legislation. The question, therefore, comes to this—that, although we applied the principle of free trade to corn notwithstanding the existence of special burdens upon the corngrower, which we had the power to remove, we are asked withhold our hand in the case of paper because the Government of Russia or of Prussia imposes a duty on rags which we have no power to alter, and thus to continue a privilege to the papermakers at the expense of the British consumers, including the corngrowers, whose special burdens have been augmented since the abolition of the Corn Laws. But there is a challenge which he makes and with which I wish to grapple for a few moments, because it does not happen that the "Papermaker" makes any approximation to show specialty in his own case. He says that there is no other instance where the export of the raw material is taxed abroad, and where the manufactured article is admitted into England without duty. I really am surprised at the ignorance—or, not to use a harsh word, the defective information or hardihood—of that assertion. His challenge, however, is so distinct that I must notice it. I will give him a case—the important article of leather. I will not advert to silk, with respect to which there is n duty of 2s. 6d. on waste silk imported from France and brought here to be woven, while the Spitalfields weavers are obliged to meet the French in the market without one farthing of duty in their favour; hut I take the case of leather. Hides, on being exported from France, are taxed 25 per cent; much about the same average ns is laid on the export of rags. Bark, too, that important element in the leather trade, is positively prohibited to be exported from France, and yet the boots and shoes and gloves of France are all admitted, or—at a term immediately approaching—are to be admitted absolutely free into this country. But I deny the necessity of producing such instances, and I stand on the plain ground that we have nothing to do with foreign legislation. Nevertheless, I have given a case where the export of the raw article is either prohibited or restrained by taxation abroad, and where the manufactured article is admitted free of duty into this country.

I have detained the Committee long enough on this subject. For the last three or four months there has been such an amount of debate and discussion about it—we may doubt on which side the misstatements, exaggerations, and misrepresentations have chiefly sprung; but on both sides the House there have been too many of them that, though five months ago it might have been disposed of in five minutes, it has now gathered to such a head that I have found it necessary to enter into some detail in order to do away with the mistaken notion. But the truth is—and I challenge contradiction to this assertion—that the whole matter is fundamentally misrepresented. The case is stated as if this foreign export duty interfered with an article with respect to which we are dependent on foreign supply, and in which we have to compete with the whole world. I know my hon. Friend (Mr. Puller) will not deny that that is the representation given, and that the basis of all the newspaper articles and arguments and speeches made is, that hero is an article with respect to which we cannot supply our own market, except by means of drawing our raw material from abroad. I meet that assertion with a flat and broad contradiction. We are not an importing country of the material of paper. I can say much more, and can show that at this moment the raw material of paper is cheaper here and more accessible than in any other country. I have seen a letter from a paper manufacturer in which it is stated— There is positively no scarcity of rags, nor ever was, in this country. It is true we import, but it is a particular kind for a particular purpose. The best of all material for both coarse and fine papers is the refuse of and worn-out ships' rigging, and so abundant is it that on the 16th of May last, at, the dockyard Government sale at Portsmouth, I bought the best and cheapest I ever had; above half the lots were passed, not obtaining a bidder, although the Messrs. Cohen and others, who supply the trade and know their wants, were present to purchase if necessary. It is admitted on all hands that the raw material of paper—these rags forsooth which are so inaccessible—has grown much cheaper in this country of late years. I will not trouble the Committee with many statistical details, but there is no doubt of the increasing abundance of the raw material of paper. I can show it by evidence which is indisputable. In 1840 there were exported 5,000,000 lbs. of paper and 20,000,000 lbs. of rags were imported. We now import, according to the last accounts, 32,000,000 lbs. of' rags and export 20,000,000 lbs. of paper. Thus the export of paper has increased by 15,000,0001bs., while the import of rags has increased by 12,000,000 lbs. The 12,000,000 lbs. of rags represent 9,000,000 of paper. The argument is therefore conclusive that rags are a crowing commodity in this country, and that, while we have increased the export of the manufactured article beyond the increase in the import of the raw material at the same time the price has been diminished. If I were speaking to commercial men—to gentlemen conversant with these subjects—they would know the meaning of these statements, and that they demonstrate that the whole cry which has been raised is a delusion and error on the part of those who raise it. The position, therefore, that I take is simply this:—that we are not an importing country of rags—that we export at this moment in paper more than we import in rags. Our importation of rags is about 12,000 tons, after deducting the quantity we export, because we export 2,000 tons. Those 12,000 tons of rags will make about 9,000 tons of paper, but we export 12,000 or 14,000 tons of paper; so that we actually send out in the form of paper more rags than we import. But what kind of paper is it that we send out of the country? It may be said that there is a great deal of paper into the composition of which rags only enter to half the amount. Singularly enough, however, the paper we export is that very description of paper made of those fine rags imported from abroad, and not the coarse paper—not the straw paper, or paper made of other fibres which are being brought into use. It is the fine paper made of these fine rags which we export. How can we export that? Does it pay to do so? I presume it does, or it would not be exported. When it is exported where does it go to? One of the principal places to which it is exported is the United States; but I suppose the French are free to send paper there also. Is it not curious—and I ask the attention of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire to this point—is it not curious that we should be able to meet these Frenchmen who, it is said, will flood this country with paper upon our duties of Customs and Excise being brought to an equality in the markets of America, though our exporters labour under this disadvantage, that they generally pay the duty in advance, and have to supply themselves with notices and forms? Nevertheless, marvellous as it may seem, and notwithstanding the terror occasioned by the French manufacturer, the English paper-maker is able to go to America, and, in the teeth of the Frenchmen, to sell his paper made of rags, which he complains he cannot obtain. In order to bring this matter to a climax, I may state that it is absolutely the fact that England at this moment sends to America more paper goods than France. We meet her there on equal or unequal terms of disadvantage, yet while the French imported into America last year to the value of 170,000 dollars, we exported to the same country paper to the value of 230,000 dollars.

I am really ashamed to occupy so much of the time of the House; but before I sit down I must, for two or three minutes, call the attention of the House to a peculiar point in this case; it is this,—while the papermakers are demanding from you compensation for the unequal legislation of foreign countries, there are other classes who appear before you as petitioners with a demand of a character very different, and as I think much more reasonable. The principle of British legislation in matters of commerce for the last twenty years has been to decline to take notice of foreign legislation, but it has also been to give to all British subjects, so far as depends upon us, the benefits of perfectly just and equal laws. Let me call your attention, for a moment, to the position of those gentlemen—a class of great enterprise and merit—who are engaged in supplying the people of this country with publications, not of a low order, but yet at a low price, which are intended to be sustained by an extensive circulation. Suppose a man endeavouring to establish an undertaking of that character—to bring out, for the advantage of the people, an annotated edition like this I hold in my hand now of the Holy Scriptures, or any other publication requiring an extensive sale. It is not too much to say that it is hard upon that man to be compelled to purchase his paper in a protected market at an exorbitant price. But that is not all. If Messrs. Cassell, whose petition was presented here to-night, purchase paper for the annotated and illustrated Bible which they are at present engaged in bringing out, they must purchase it in the British market; or else they must pay 23s. 4d. per cwt. on paper imported, we will say, from Germany. The consequence is that, however dear the British market may be, they cannot purchase paper in Germany; and that not by any fault of German legislation, but simply by reason of British legislation. Now, let me ask, in what position do Messrs. Cassell stand in respect to the article they manufacture—that is to say—to their publication—when they bring it out? Paper is the raw material of their manufacture; the finished book is the manufacture itself. On the paper, if they bring it from abroad, they must pay a duty of 23s. 4d. per cwt.; but the com- peting article which I hold in my hand here printed in Germany, is introduced to drive Messrs. Cassell out of the market at a duty of 15 s. That is the state of British legislation; it is no appeal to the proceedings of foreign countries over which we have no control, no exacting of the fulfilment of an impossible condition—namely, the regulation of our legislation by what is done in France, Germany, or all over the world. It is the state of the British law. By the law as it stands you refuse to Messrs. Cassell leave to purchase the paper on which this book is printed at a duty of 16s. per cwt., but you allow the German to print a Bible on that paper in Germany and send it here to drive Messrs. Cassell out of the market. That is the justice which my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire is going to do. I call upon the Committee to dismiss these visionary and impracticable schemes for the regulation of our legislation by reference to the proceedings of other countries. I call on the Committee to stand fast to the sound principle approved by the experience of twenty years, of minding our own business, mending our own laws, and setting an example of equity, fairness, and equality, so far as depends upon Us, in the manner in which we treat our own producers. Nor is that the only case. I presented a petition from the manufacturers of silk hats, and there are other cases with respect to which the same inequality, unless you proceed to remove it, is the direct result of our proceedings, written in Acts of Parliament on which the ink is scarcely dry. It is only this year that you said to the manufacturer of paperhangings and the manufacturer of cardboard, "You shall be exposed to French competition; the French papermaker shall import his manufacture at 14s. per cwt. duty, and the French cardboard maker at 16s. per cwt. duty." But what are paperhangings and cardboard? They are manufactures of which paper is the raw material. You have exposed these two classes to a neck-and-neck competition with the Frenchman and all the world—and are you positively to say to that man, by your British law, "We will compel you to run in a fair field and no favour against the French manufacturer; but, with respect to your raw material, we will debar you access to it by artificial restrictions; we will forbid you to purchase it except at a price enhanced by a tax levied for the benefit of the clients of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Herts? Those who are prepared to adopt such a course must have formed their notions on grounds very different from those which British justice would mark out. To make the case perfectly intelligible, I may say that the principle is precisely as it would be in the case of the miller if we said to him, "We will admit foreign flour duty free, but we will maintain the duty on corn." The miller is so nearly related to the corn laws that the illustration is complete, and it exhibits distinctly the principle on which my hon. Friend is inviting us to act.

These are really my last words on the subject, and I must say with regard to the first Resolution now before the House, to which I confine myself, I cannot for a moment doubt as to the dictates of our own self-respect and sense of honour and dignity as a Legislature, nor as to the conclusion towards which policy, prudence, and justice must direct us. It has been said by an observer of human nature, that there is always something touching in doing a thing for the last time, however insignificant the thing may be. It makes an appeal to the feelings, although the thing itself may be small, provided you know that you will never have to do it again. This is really the "last time" with regard to the whole question of Protection. With the exception of one or two cases of merely nominal duties, the most microscopic eye may now address itself to the British tariff, and will find that it has now attained to a normal state, as far as establishing equality between the domestic and foreign producer is concerned. The only case that remains is the case of the paper-maker, and even with the paper trade itself the principle has found its way. Certain classes of makers of paper goods are irretrievably exposed to foreign competition. The last stage of this long journey, and it is a short stage, is all that remains for you to accomplish, and the question is whether you will now accomplish it, or whether you will stop short. It has been said that there is a specialty in the case of the papermakers. I know of but one specialty in their case, and that is the extraordinary advantage—though I should hardly say advantage—for, on the contrary, they are labouring, I think, for their own mischief—which their arguments have derived from being supported with the greatest power, efficacy, ingenuity, and assiduity in a quarter of the highest influence,—there is but one specialty in their case, and that is their connection with what may be called the "Royal Family" of the daily press. That is their great specialty, but it is not a specialty of which the House will take any notice. I should, indeed, be much surprised and disappointed if there could be any doubt on their part, under the circumstances I have stated, as to the course which they ought to pursue. The Committee will to-night, I feel satisfied, once more, and once for all, confirm and give its sanction to principles which for so many years have contributed to develope the resources and increase the prosperity of the country, and which, fertile as they have been in benefits to every class of the community, have, on the whole, done the most for those for whom it was feared they would do the worst—the producers of what were once protected commodities. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the first Resolution:—

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in lieu of the Duties of Customs now charged on the articles undermentioned, the following Duties of Customs shall, on and after the 16th of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty, be charged thereon on importation from France, and likewise from Algeria if the produce thereof, into Great Britain and Ireland, namely, Books:


in moving the Amend-mend of which he had given notice, said, I have listened to the eloquent speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with much satisfaction, for it has convinced me—as from my knowledge of my right hon. Friend's character I always felt I should be convinced when he came to argue the case—that his perseverance with these Resolutions arises from no want of a desire to do justice to an interest which dreads extinction, but solely from the circumstance that he had not made himself sufficiently master of the real facts of the case. On their behalf, I claim—what has always been conceded in similar cases—that the facts should be previously ascertained by a Select Committee of this House, in which the persons whose interests are threatened may have the opportunity of substantiating the assertions which are questioned by the Government, or in their turn may disprove, if possible, the assertions of the Government. There is another point on which my right hon. Friend has founded an argument, which must, of course, have great weight with this House—I mean the treaty. I confess I have listened to my right hon. Friend's speech on the subject with the greatest astonishment, and before sitting down I do not despair of satisfying even him that he has put a wrong construction on the Article in the treaty bearing upon it. Before touching on that point, however, there is a preliminary question to be disposed of. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, though he did not dwell at any length on that point, seemed to wish to impress upon the Committee that their hands were already tied; that by the vote which gave their sanction to the treaty as a whole, they had put it out of their power now to inquire into the justice of the papermakers' case; and that, therefore, assuming the seventh Article of the treaty to apply to them, there would be no room for discussion upon any other part of the question. But let the Committee remember the observations made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government before that vote was taken. The House of Commons were then distinctly told that before they were called upon to affirm the contents of the treaty they should have the several matters affected by it brought under their notice. These were the noble Lord's words on the 17th of February:— Now, I humbly think—considering that the treaty involves a considerable number of changes in our Customs' regulations—that if we had come down to the House, and at once and before any other proceeding had proposed a general Vote sanctioning the whole treaty as it stands, we should have been met with the natural objection, 'You call on us by one Vote to give an opinion on a matter involving a great number of details; you are not dealing fairly with Parliament. Let us go through the whole matter point by point and step by step, and when we have arrived at a conclusion on all the separate parts, then give us an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the national engagement as a whole between the two countries.' That, Sir, I apprehend, was the course pursued by Mr. Pitt; that is the course we mean to pursue."—[3 Hansard, clvi. 1256–7.] That was the deliberate promise made to the House by the noble Lord, and it was confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer three days later. He said— We, acting upon the spirit of his (Mr. Pitt's) policy, held it to be our first duty, and without interposing any difficulty, to bring under the notice of Parliament the most vital and substantial parts of the present treaty…Indeed, I doubt very much whether there is in this treaty one single point requiring legislative sanction which is not embraced in the Resolutions of which I have given notice."—[3 Hansard, clvi. 1385.] Now, I need hardly dwell on the words "vital" and "substantial. "My right hon. Friend has really treated this as if it were a point of comparative insignificance, and so it may be in the eyes of the French; but what was the real object of bringing these matters before Parliament? Parliament could not, of course, object to the mere remission of duties. Nobody objects to that. The two questions for Parliament to consider were—first, as to those duties which were productive of revenue, what taxation was to be substituted for the duties remitted; and, secondly, as to those duties which were not productive of revenue, but which were imposed for the protection of English interests, whether it was just to those interests that the duties should be remitted. Therefore, if my right hon. Friend at that time held—as I suppose I am to infer from his speech—(though I confess I cannot reconcile it with 11is language or his acts)—if he then held the construction of the 7th Article which he has advocated to-day, it was clearly his duty, before calling on the House to sanction this treaty as a whole, to say to us, "Here is an Article which will bind the House, when they have sanctioned it, to reduce the Customs' duties on all excisable articles to a level with the Excise duties." It was his duty to have pointed this out, and then to have taken the opinion of the House on the treaty as a whole. Did he do so? It will be in the recollection of the Committee on this very subject of the paper duties, that when my right hon. Friend first brought the treaty under the attention of the louse he put on the table a notice, in which the subjects to be dealt with in Committee on Customs' Acts were divided into two categories—those which were under the treaty and those which were not under the treaty, paper being classed among those not under the treaty. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] I wish to deal justly by my right hon. Friend. I know him too well to suppose there could ever be the slightest intention on his part wilfully to mislead. But I confess that I did find a difficulty in reconciling these notices with the construction which he puts on the 7th Article of the treaty, and when I drew my right hon. Friend's attention to the subject, I confess that he did not give me any satisfactory explanation. Since then, in thinking it over, I have worked out for myself what I have no doubt is the true explanation—namely, that as it was his intention to propose to the House the abolition of the Excise and with it the abolition of the Customs' duties on paper, my right hon. Friend put down paper as not coming under the treaty, because the treaty did not compel the abolition, though, according to his present views, it did compel the reduction of the duty. Still, I cannot help saying that if even that were the case, when my right hon. Friend in his financial statement went through the whole subject, and there also divided the articles with which he meant to deal into those which were and those which were not under the treaty, it was incumbent on him to have told the House, "Although I propose to deal with paper to a greater extent than I am compelled to deal with it by the treaty, yet, if you sanction the treaty, recollect that to some extent you will be bound to deal with paper." But my right hon. Friend never told the House anything of the kind. On the contrary, on referring to his financial statement, it will be found that he put not only paper, of which the duty was to be abolished, but hops, and malt, both of them articles subject to the Excise, into the category of things to he dealt with not under the treaty. Why was this? I say the House had not the subject fairly before it, as it was entitled to have, at the time when it sanctioned the treaty as a whole.

I will now pass to what I think is the only point of my right hon. Friend's speech of which I can complain. He has imported into this discussion an argument founded on a communication lately received—so lately, I believe, as within the last twenty-four hours—from the French Government; but, as far as I am aware, he has not laid that communication on the table of the House, nor did he read the terms in which it was couched. Now it does appear to me that though my right hon. Friend was not bound to do this, he should have abstained from building any argument upon the construction which the French Government is supposed to put upon the 7th Article, unless the Committee were in a position to form their own opinion on the subject from an examination of the actual language of that communication.

Coming now to the actual position of the papermakers, my right hon. Friend has dealt in a very summary manner with them, treating them as a set of poor deluded creatures who do not know their own interests half so well as he does. But there is one-half of their case to which I think he wholly omitted to draw attention—the fact, I mean, that whereas they are precluded in almost all the principal countries of Europe from obtaining a supply of rags, which form their great raw material, except upon terms which place them at a disadvantage as compared with their foreign rivals,—the English rag-market is at the same time entirely open to the Americans; that, consequently, reduce the price of paper as much as you please (and that is the real object of this Resolution), it does not follow that you reduce the cost of production to the English manufacturer. My right hon. Friend not only knows the interests of the papermakers better than they do themselves, but assumes to know better than they do the comparative price of their raw material in the other markets of Europe. He has told us it is absurd to suppose that the English manufacturer can be exposed to any disadvantage by competing with France—a country in which rags are so dear. Now, here again, I say that when a Minister brings forward a Resolution which is to affect a body of gentlemen whose capital is counted by millions, and whose workmen are counted by thousands, those persons, if they dispute his facts, have a right to claim a Committee of Inquiry before the case is concluded against them. I have a statement from one of the firm of Messrs. Cowan, of Edinburgh, large paper-manufacturers, in which that gentleman says that in March last he went to Paris to judge for himself and to inspect a large quantity, 70 tons, of rags, of which his agent had secured the offer. The result of his inquiry is stated to have been that fine French rags cost from 10s. to 11s. per cwt. less than in England, and common rags from 6s. to 7s. per cwt. less; consequently that the French manufacturer can, so far at least as the price of his material is concerned, make paper for about 1½d. a pound less than the English manufacturer. But, Sir, this question is not new to the Government nor to the right hon. Gentleman. In 1853, when he was, as now, Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was proposed to abolish the protective duty, which at that time was double the amount of the Excise duty. I this morning had an interview with a gentleman whose name is familiar to many hon. Members, a man of great scientific acquirements—Mr. John Dickinson—who is not now in business, but who was in 1853 at the head of a great papermaking firm. That gentleman told me that on that occasion, as representing the association of English papermakers, he and an interview with Mr. Wilson, the Secretary to the Treasury, with whom he went fully into the subject, and satisfied him that the peculiar circumstance of the English manufacturers being excluded from obtaining the raw material entitled them to some protection, and, consequently, instead of abolishing the protection altogether, the Government contented themselves with reducing the duty to 2½d. a pound, of which that portion which exceeded the Excise duty being a little more than the of a penny a pound was expressly intended by the then Government as a protection duty to countervail the prohibition and duties on the export of rags from foreign countries, which disabled the English maker from competing upon fair terms with his foreign rivals. Upon the faith of that legislation, I apprehend, there has been a considerable investment of capital and extension of the manufacture here. We have had to-night a petition presented by the hon. Member for Birmingham from Mr. Cassell and others, who, upon the faith of a Bill which, though it had passed this House has not become law, have chosen to expend a large sum in the purchase of foreign paper, and now ask this House to give them compensation. Now, if gentlemen who have laid out a few thousands upon the faith of an incomplete measure of legislation considered themselves entitled to compensation, how much do they think should be allowed to those who, upon the faith of a complete act of legislation, have invested large sums in the erection of mills, the purchase of machinery, and the extension of their business? Is my right hon. Friend prepared to insert a clause to give them compensation? I expect he is not. I am assured by paper-manufacturers—for I, of course, cannot speak upon my own authority, but I am told by men of the highest respectability—that the present rate of profit upon the manufacture of paper in this country does not average more than ¼d.a pound. My right hon. Friend proposes to take off 7s. 3d.per cwt., from foreign paper, which is rather more than ⅞ths of a 1d.per. 1b. Now the object of my right hon. Friend must be to lower the price of paper. Does he contemplate a reduction of more than a farthing per 1b. If he does succeed in effecting such a reduction I believe, and the papermakers believe, it will have the effect of closing most of the English mills. If you take away the whole amount of profit, can any reasonable man expect that these mills will be carried on? You take off 7s. 3d.per cwt. duty, and the manufacturers say that at present it is a very close thing, and that the smallest increase of price would enable a large quantity of foreign paper to come into this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer impugns that statement—I cannot say who is right, but surely when parties are at issue upon so important a question, it is only right and proper that there should be some inquiry. What must be the consequence of adopting this measure? Merchants will have the whole existing stock of paper throughout Europe to draw upon, there being a bounty of 7s. 3d. per cwt. offered by the Government to bring it to England. The immediate result will be a rise in the price of paper abroad, and a consequent restriction in the consumption abroad, accompanied by a fall in the price of paper here, and a consequent extension of the consumption here. What follows next? Why that as the price of paper abroad rises, there will, to a small extent, be a rise in the value of foreign rags. It, of course, is an important part of the case of my right hon. Friend that if you raise the price of foreign paper you raise the price of foreign rags. But I will the Committee to observe that this operation will be very gradual indeed. By diminishing the price of paper in England, you will have cut off all the profit of the English manufacturer, and so put it out of his power to compete with his foreign rivals, in the foreign market for rags, an effect which will of course be accelerated by that increased value of foreign paper, and consequently of foreign rags, which must be the first effect of the proposed legislation. All the rags which are now imported into England will then be at the command of the foreigner. As the price of the raw material falls here and rises abroad it will be not only the English manufacturer who will retire from the foreign market, but the Americans will do the, same, for they will find it more to their advantage to purchase in the English market than in the foreign. A certain result will be, that the whole supply of linen and cotton rags that now comes to this country and to America, being more than 30,000 tons, must be exhausted before any material impression can be made upon the price of rags abroad, and any hope of alleviation can be held out to the English manufacturer. A time will come, no doubt, when the manufacture of paper being greatly restricted here and greatly extended abroad, and the price of the raw material having in consequence fallen somewhat here and risen abroad, things will right themselves, and the trade in paper will adjust itself to a new level of prices somewhere between those which now rule in England and abroad. But long before that period comes, a great part of the paper-making trade will have gone into the Court of Bankruptcy.

I beg the Committee to remember that up to this point I have been dealing with the manufacture in its present state abroad. A great portion of that manufacture is of course earned on with inferior machinery, with straitened means, and imperfect skill. The foreign manufacturers have at present an advantage over the English makers in the price of their material, but that advantage is counteracted by superior skill and better machinery. But bow long would those advantages continue if a bonus of 7s. 3d. per cwt. were given to manufacturers abroad? At this moment there are Englishmen established in France, in Russia, and in Germany. I am told that within the last year a large establishment has been opened at Leipsic, founded by English capital, and that machinery has been sent over by Messrs. Easton and Amos, and as soon as you have passed this Resolution into law there can be no doubt that a number of enterprising Englishmen will go abroad, and with English capital, English machinery, and to some extent with English workmen, carry on the manufacture of paper in other countries. Now, Sir, I am not asking the Committee to deal with the Resolutions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as if it were a question of reciprocity. The papermakers, notwithstanding the sarcasms of the right hon. Gentleman, are as a body Free-traders. They do not seek to make the free admission of English paper by foreigners a condition of admitting foreign paper here. They ore ready to meet all the world upon fair terms, but they say it is not in accordance with the principles of free trade to place them upon an unfair footing as compared with their foreign rivals. Neither do they desire to act in any spirit of retaliation, but simply upon the defensive, in order to preserve themselves from threatened ruin; and upon that ground alone they, through me, ask the Committee to assent to the Amendment of which I have given notice. My right hon. Friend, in his great speech on the Budget, said these alarmed interests are all, without exception, adherents of free trade; but adherents of free trade with an exception. I am not to be deterred by a sarcasm of that kind from urging on the attention of the Committee what I believe to be a real case of justice.

I say it is an exception, it is because the circumstances are altogether exceptional, that I ask the Committee to reject or postpone my right hon. Friend's Resolution. It is a very easy thing to lay down grand general principles, and to treat with sarcasm those who claim to be exceptions. No doubt in all these cases there are persons who claim to be exceptions without reason, as well as those who claim to be exceptions with reason. But I have always thought it the special business of a man in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to investigate closely all the facts, and distinguish the true from the false cases of exception. I remember a maxim of Mr. Burke's which I learnt when a boy; that a knowledge of general principles is the knowledge of a pedant; it is the application of them to the affairs of men that constitutes the statesman. What does that maxim mean? Why that, although it is very easy in the closet to take a one-sided view of a subject, to abstract the mind from all other considerations and lay down general principles, yet, when you come to deal with the complicated and intricate business of life, you find that one general principle clashes with another. It is certainly an excellent general principle of political economy that you should buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest market. But it is also an excellent general principle of moral philosophy, which is expressed in the word3 of Scripture, that we should "bear one another's burdens," and also in the common proverb of this country, "Live and let live." Let us know, then, what is the meaning of this general principle as to buying in the cheapest market. I apprehend it means that you should not attempt, by your financial legislation, to struggle against the great permanent laws of nature—that if you find a country which has superior advantages of soil, climate, government, skill, or anything else for producing a particular article, whether corn, wine, sugar, or any species of manufacture, such as cloth, hardware, and the like, you should not seek to foster in your own country by artificial means, an industry devoted to the production of those commodities under disadvantages, but should let the industry of your people follow its natural course, producing those articles which it can produce with the greatest facility. Then, by that beneficial operation which we call commerce, you obtain the productions of other countries in exchange for those of your own, upon cheaper terms than you could produce them at home. Well, Sir, that is a principle to which I cordially adhere. I say, by all means bring me such a case, and I will join the right hon. Gentleman in objecting to any measure introduced for the purpose of applying a protective system to it. Nay, more, if I found a protective system already established, and I felt satisfied that the superiority of another country was a natural and permanent superiority, I would say "Get rid of your protective system, and the sooner you do so the better." I would not even then, however, proceed in that which I must call the rude, violent, oppressive manner adopted in my right hon. Friend's Resolution. I would proceed, as has been done in other instances, after do-liberate inquiry, and would accord to the interest whose invested capital might be sacrificed by the operation such compensation or mitigation as it is in the power of this House to afford. Let us apply this reasoning then, to the present case. Is there any such permanent natural superiority in foreign countries for the production of paper? Does my right hon. Friend pretend to say there is? Has he not himself told us to-day—what I am sure we must all feel—that, as far as natural, indestructible advantages are concerned, this country occupies a peculiarly favourable situation for the manufacture of paper? The superiority of the foreigner is neither natural nor permanent, but arises out of the vicious system of legislation, which gives him for the time a partial monopoly of the raw material; and how indestructible that is we may judge from what has passed this very year, when the Emperor of the French—although for the time obliged to give way to the remonstrances of his subjects—has professed himself willing to rescind the existing prohibition and substitute for it a moderate export duty. Well, is my right hon. Friend such a fainthearted Free-trader that he despairs of other nations coming round to the true doctrine on this subject? Is he so wanting in faith in that doctrine as to view a superiority, due to the artificially depreciated price of the raw material, as a durable, indestructible superiority, to be compared to those advantages of climate and soil which France and Italy enjoy in regard to their respective natural productions? Does he think it worthy of him as an English statesman—when he finds in the other countries of Europe a system as opposed to every principle of free trade and of justice as ever existed in the world—to ask this House to pass a measure the certain effect of which will be to establish upon firmer ground than ever that false and vicious system? Is he prepared to build up a wall that may fence about that system of monopoly and postpone further than ever the advent of free trade principles upon the Continent? Let me daw the attention of the House to the nature of this export duty on the raw material. It is the nearest approach to a poll-tax to be found in the present day, unless you go to an Eastern country. When the poor labourer who has paid for his own humble clothing and that of his wife and children thinks to make a little profit by the sale of his worn-out, thread-hare garments, the State steps in, limit-his market, depreciates his price, and for what object? For the payment of the army and navy?—for defraying the expense of the administration of justice, or any other great national purpose towards which he might be fairly called on to contribute? Not at all. it is that the rich people of his nation may be enabled to read books printed on paper of a better kind or at a cheaper price—that the manufacturers of his country may be enabled to extend their operations at his cost. I have been at the pains of making a rough kind of estimate of what such a poll-tax would amount to, under a system which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, if I recollect rightly, in some of those interviews with which be was kind enough to favour the papermakers and myself, did not deem impossible to be adopted in this country. We were asked why we did not propose to put an export duty on English rags. I cannot conceive that any English Statesman would recommend anything so unjust. But I confess I am astonished that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer should ask the Committee to do that which in effect will establish and continue on a firmer basis than ever such a system in foreign countries. Have we not had an opportunity, at least as far as France is concerned, of getting rid of that system? I can only suppose that it was by an act of forgetful-ness that our negotiators, in concluding the late commercial treaty, omitted to stipulate for the total and immediate abolition of a prohibition so inconsistent with the whole scope and principle of that instrument. But you have still something in your power, You have it in your power to negotiate with foreign countries; you have it in your power to say to them—If you will abolish the export duty on rags, we will abolish the import duty on paper. That is something to offer them as an inducement to modify their course; but you now ask the Committee to cast entirely away that argument, and leave them in the spirit of monopoly to carry on their odious and exclusive system. Now, let me ask, suppose that for any reason whatever, instead of an export duty on rags, our manufacturers had to pay an import duty, would the Chancellor of the Exchequer say there was no case in their favour? What is he doing at the present moment in the case of malt? He is taking off the prohibition on the import of malt. He has taken a Vote in Committee for a Customs' duty on malt of 25s. a quarter, the Excise being 21s. 9d.; so that there is just, as in the case of the paper duties, a difference of 3s. 3d,partly as a compensation for the cost and interference of the Excise; but has he not, in that 3s. 3d., included 1s.as an equivalent for the Customs' duty on foreign barley? I have some constituents who are maltsters, as well as some who are paper manufacturers; and in the early part of this Session I was led to press this matter on the Secretary for the Treasury, the intended duty being at that time 24s. I was told shortly afterwards that the Customs' duty on malt was raised to 25s.; and I have reason to believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did include the 1s. duty on foreign barley as one of the elements on which his calculation was founded. If he did not, he has furnished a very cogent argument for the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Suffolk, when he shall move to raise the duty to 26s. I take it, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did include the 1s. duty on foreign barley as an element in fixing the proposed Customs' duty on malt. But then he says that is a matter of home legislation; it is all right you should compensate a manufacturer for an impost which Parliament lays on; but we have nothing to do with foreign legislation? Nothing to do with foreign legislation! Have we not had our attention drawn to-day to the International Copyright Treaty? Did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer carefully remind us that we are bound to admit printed books at a low duty, because of the international treaty? I am quite astonished he should say that we have nothing to do with foreign legisla- tion. On what is the whole commercial treaty with France founded, if we have nothing to do with foreign legislation? Does the House forget those passages in the instructions of the noble Lord to our Plenipotentiaries, in which they were distinctly told that the wine duties were not, perhaps, those we should have chosen to reduce, if we had looked only to the interests of this country and our own Exchequer? Were they not told to fix the Customs' duty on brandy at 10s. a gallon? But if they could obtain any considerable advantages to the country, they were at liberty to go down as far as 8s.;and has not that been done? Yet we are told we have nothing to do with foreign legislation! What is the meaning of a treaty at all, if it be not that the stipulations shall not rest on mutual understanding, but be carried out by legislation in each of the contracting countries? What did it mean except this—The wine duties were felt to be a less onerous form of taxation, but the Government were willing not only to shift taxation—which is in all cases an evil, but to substitute a more onerous form of taxation—in order to secure—what?—an extended market to the coal-owner, the ironmaster, the cotton and other manufacturers. I wish carefully to abstain from the use of strong expressions. I am not arguing this case in the smallest spirit of hostility to the Government of the noble Lord, as he knows very well; but I have been asked by some of my constituents who have invested large capital in the paper manufacture to explain their case to the Committee, and I wish to do it with the most perfect respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the whole of the existing Government. But I must say their course in this matter will involve the House, if it consent to this Resolution, in a mass of inconsistency. You say that the community at large may justly be called upon to bear some little inconvenience, such as an additional penny of income tax for a time, in order to obtain for the great manufacturing interests, which form large integral parts of the community, an extended market for their products. I do not find fault with that. I heartily and cheerfully supported my right hon. Friend in all his Resolutions to carry out the different parts of his Budget. There is that solidarity in a political community like tins that you may fairly call on it to bear a small temporary inconvenience for the sake of obtaining a great advantage to a particular interest in it. But then I ask, is not the case of the paper manufacturers a thousand times stronger than that of the manufacturer of hardware, pottery, or calico? They do not come to this House for an extension of their business, but to keep what they have got. That is all they ask; and you, while imposing an additional tax, which, whatever the Chancellor of the Exchequer may say, was felt extremely onerous by the community at large, in order to obtain advantages for the manufacturers of cloth and hardware and the sellers of coal—you tell the papermakers, "Oh, yours is a very different case." If a single cargo of paper were unjustly confiscated by the Chinese or any foreign Power, and compensation, after repeated remonstrances were refused, the Government would think it their duty to call on Parliament to sanction any addition to the taxation of the country and sacrifice any amount of valuable English lives, and impose on foreign countries the dreadful evil of war in order to enforce compensation for the loss sustained by the English merchants; but when a whole interest is at stake, when a body of persons, whose capital roughly estimated amounts to £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, and employing directly in the manufacture at least 20,000 persons, come and tell you that their whole business is threatened with ruin by the competition of rivals who by the aid of their respective Governments obtain their material at a price which is artificially depressed, you turn round and say, "We are very sorry for you, but the great doctrines of free trade compel us to buy in the cheapest market, and, therefore, if the French, or Germans, or Spaniards—who, by the bye, have entirely driven us out of the trade of South America—offer us paper one farthing per pound cheaper than you can make it, you must go to the wall. We do not even pay you the compliment of having a Committee of inquiry to ascertain whether your facts can be proved." They are told, indeed, that if they had been a little more active, a little more clever, they might have got more rags than they do in this country, and they might manufacture paper out of fibre; but substantially the issue after all is, they are to go to the wall; and, unless it turns out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows their business better than they do themselves, go to the wall the greater portion of them must. It does appear to me that my right hon. Friend has advanced as a maxim received and finally established too strongly to be countervailed by argument, what I take on myself to say has never received, after deliberate debate, the general sanction of the House. I ask my right hon. Friend how far he is prepared to go? Is this doctrine of buying in the cheapest market to be of universal application? Is the present application of the principle merely the getting in of the thin edge of the wedge, so that in. future it may be applied not to paper only but to cotton and other branches of manufacture? Is it so certain that the United States will not take a lesson from the right hon. Gentleman on this question? There is at this moment a great struggle for power going on in that country, and it is possible that at the next Presidential election the Republican party of the North may gain the ascendancy over the people of the South. We know that Protectionist opinions are strong in the North; and is it quite certain that, looking to the course taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in this country, they will not say, "Here is an excellent opportunity of doing a good stroke of work for our own cotton factories," and follow it up by laying a duty on the exportation of cotton? What would be said when, as the result of such a policy, we saw the cotton-mills of Lancashire one after another closing their doors? My right hon. Friend referred to what was done in the case of corn, and told us that the growers of corn were subject to peculiar burdens, and that local taxation, including poor rates, county rates, &c, formed one of those peculiar burdens. I was rather startled to hear that statement fall from my right hon. Friend; for I have always believed that nearly one-half the rates in this country were paid by the occupiers—not of land, but of houses, and that in fact the burden of local taxation fell upon every other description of real property as well as land, and, moreover, that their real incidence was, not on the manufacturer of corn, not on the farmer, but on his landlord, for no farmer took a farm without knowing the amount of local rates to which it was subject, and estimating the rent he should give accordingly. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the article of sugar. It is true that some years ago this country came to the determination to put an end to slavery in her Colonies. But did we put an end to it in the manner now proposed to be adopted with regard to the paper manufacturers? No. We said "slavery is a great crime, and it shall be abolished, but we have been partners in the crime along with the planters; it was under the sanction of our legislation that they invested their capital in the property they held, and therefore we will give them £20,000,000 by way of compensation for their losses. "That was a liberal and just mode of dealing with the subject. Then, when you abolished slavery you gave the planters protection against slave-grown sugar. It was thought reasonable to encourage them not to throw up their estates altogether, and probably that protection would have been continued had the planters been able to supply this country with the quantity of sugar we required. But it is material to observe that the sugar plantations were not formed on the faith of that protection. They were formed under the system of slavery, for the abolition of which compensation had been paid. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that protection to planters was abolished in the same way as he now proposes to act towards the papermakers, I demur to the statement. The noble Lord who was Prime Minister at the time the circumstance occurred came down to the House and asked it to abolish the protection given to the planters, not on the ground stated by my right hon. Friend, but on the grounds—first, that the Colonies were not able to furnish a sufficient supply of sugar for the country; and, secondly, on the ground that by the Treaty of Utrecht the Spaniards were entitled to send in their sugar on the same terms with the most favoured nations, and that therefore we could not impose a differential duty on the slave-grown sugar of the Spanish colonies. But even then, did the House deal with the planters in the short and summary way in which they are now asked to deal with the paper manufacturers? On the contrary, the noble Lord asked the House to give the planters every encouragement in their power. Facilities were given to them to procure labour from Africa; and, above all, the discriminating duties in favour of British manufactures were abolished and the planters enabled to buy the articles they wanted in the cheapest market. Sir, I should have no difficulty in meeting the argument drawn from the case of the shipowners and other trades, but I feel that I have dwelt long enough on this branch of the question before the Committee, and will only say further that I doubt whether my right hon. Friend can produce a single instance in which any Go- vernment has come to this House and said they wished to reduce the price of the produce of any branch of industry at the same time that they did not hold out the means of diminishing the coat of production.

I will now say a few words on the subject of the treaty, and I quite agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we should endeavour first to ascertain from the treaty itself what were the real intentions of the two Governments. As regards the English Government, you will find that they had these two points in view—first, to secure the revenue of the country from loss beyond that which was stipulated for; and, secondly, to secure the manufacturers of this country from suffering any loss by being exposed to unfair competition. Then, with regard to the French Government, I do not find on their part any indication of a desire to secure the abolition of duties on all kinds of articles, but only on those articles that are specifically mentioned. If that be so, then what evidence does the correspondence furnish as to the intentions of the two Governments? The intentions of the French Government are shown in Lord Cowley's letter. By that letter it will be seen that the French Government specified silks of all kinds, and articles of Parisian manufacture; also that the duties on French wines should be reduced, and that "French brandies should be admitted at a duty which should not exceed the Excise duty levied on spirits distilled in Great Britain." They did not ask for a sweeping abolition of duty on all manufactured articles, but on certain articles which were specified, and all of which are mentioned in the treaty. Well, then, coming to the treaty, what does "merchandise" mean in the 7th Article? One construction is that it means "all merchandise." But that will not do for the Government of this country, because it would let in tobacco, beer, corn, &c, at no duty at all, and cut away many of the great sources of Customs' revenue. My right hon. Friend contends that "merchandise" means "all excisable merchandise." By why did not the negotiators say so? Why did they leave out these words "all excisable."The instructions given by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) were as clear as day, and if a lawyer had been at his elbow they could not have been more precise. The Plenipotentiaries were instructed to frame an Article by which— The duties of Customs generally on articles imported from France into this country, but which are subject here to duties of Excise, shall be reduced to a rate as nearly as may be equal to that of the duties of Excise. The question for the Committee, however, is not what the Government intended, but what the Plenipotentiaries did. Did they follow out the instructions of the noble Lord? It is quite clear they did not, that instead of making the formal instrument more precise than the instructions, which is the usual course, they made it less precise; that instead of saying "merchandise subject here to duties of excise," they said simply "merchandise." Is it to be supposed there was no reason for the change? If the construction argued for by my right hon. Friend is the true one it renders the treaty of no avail so far as all the articles recited in the 8th Article of the treaty, about which the French Government were more especially anxious, were concerned. The meaning of the words which begin the 8th Article, "in accordance with the preceding Article," is quite clear, and all that follows in the Article is governed by those words. The object of the 7th Article is to prescribe the rate of duty on those articles that were introduced from France. If the articles specified in the 8th Article are to be admitted as belonging to a general class, mentioned in the 7th—namely, as is contended, excisable articles, then whenever the excise is taken off, they will drop out of the treaty, and lose their right of admission. But if the 7th Article be construed to settle only the rate of Customs' duty then each article mentioned in the 8th has a distinct and permanent right of admission, whether it be in the class of excisable articles or not. What would be the result to the French Government of adopting the construction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? There would be placed in the hands of the Government of this country the power, by taking off the Excise duties on the articles mentioned in the 8th Article, and about which it is admitted the French were particularly anxious, of putting what Customs' duties they pleased on these articles, thereby rendering the treaty waste paper. If the Upper House had passed the Bill for the repeal of the paper duty, the English Government, according to this construction, might have asked Parliament to put a duty of 1s. per 1b. on paperhangings. This would have been a pretty security to the French Government for the admission of their paperhangings. It is impossible to suppose that the French ne- gotiators, if they were in their senses—and the Committee tire bound to suppose that the negotiators on both sides were honest and capable men—could ask the Emperor to sign a treaty of which the 7th Article is capable of such a construction as the Chancellor of the Exchequer puts upon it. I contend that "merchandise" does not mean either "all merchandise" or "all excisable merchandise," but simply "merchandise." The 7th Article does not pretend to say what merchandise shall be admitted, but it fixed the rate of Customs' duties at which articles shall be admitted, and it leaves it to the 8th Article to say what articles shall be admitted. To the English Government was thus secured the right of raising the duty on French articles, if they found it necessary to raise their own duties, as has already been done in the case of spirits, and, on the other hand, the French Government obtained security, that if the English Government took off the Excise duty they should not be at liberty to put on any duty they pleased. A security which would have been very valuable to them if the House of Lords had passed the Bill for repealing the Excise duty on paper. I beg to thank the House for the great indulgence with which they have listened to a long, and I fear fatiguing address, on a subject involving so many phases that I could not compress it so much as I could have wished. Even if the Government were right in the strict construction of the 7th Article, which I am confident they are not, still I contend the spirit of the treaty gives the English manufacturers protection against unfair competition. I cannot think so ill of the Emperor of the French as to believe that he would desire to take advantage of his own wrong. The President of the Board of Trade told us in a former debate, that the treaty laid down principles, but that the details were to be worked out afterwards, and were to be made the subject of a supplementary treaty, which he led the House to suppose would include both rags and paper. If the Government adhere to their construction of the treaty there is still ample ground for bringing this question under the observation of the French Government, and for representing that it is contrary to the spirit of the treaty for them to claim the admission of French paper under the treaty, while they continue their prohibition on the export of French rags. This matter might well be the subject of a separate negotiation; and I have therefore placed in your hands an Amendment that at this time it is not expedient to assent to the reduction proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member concluded by moving the following Amendment:—

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the proposed Resolution, in order to add the words 'without desiring to prejudice the question of a reduction at a future period of the Customs Duty on French Books and Paper, this Committee does not think fit at present to assent to such reduction.


said, that the question before the Committee had been argued upon three grounds—that of national honour, that of political principle, and that of fact. On the first ground several cogent arguments had been adduced to the Committee by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller) had cited some great authorities on his side of the question. To those authorities he (Mr. Childers) would take leave to add one. When the Bill for the repeal of the Excise duty on paper was read a third time, an hon. Member raised his voice in its favour in the strongest manner; he asked the House not to reject the Bill, because the inevitable result of refusing to repeal the Excise duty would he that it would be impossible under the terms of the treaty to continue the protective Customs' duty on foreign paper. The Committee would perhaps be astonished when he told them that that hon. Member was no other than his hon. Friend. On the second point—that of political principle—he would not touch. But as to the question of fact, there were one or two statements which he (Mr. Childers) would wish to lay before the Committee. It had been assumed by the hon. Member for Herts and by others outside the House that the great papermaking countries of the world imposed either a high duty or an absolute prohibition on the export of rags; and, taking that fact as a basis, they were told that they were bound to maintain some kind of imposition in favour of the papermakers of this country. But this was not the fact—the principal papermaking countries of the world did not place any prohibition on the export of rags. France at the present moment produced annually about 71,000 tons of paper; the Zollverein about 40,000 tons; these two countries and Belgium were the principal instances cited, But the United States, which produced annually 120,000 tons of paper out of from 170,000 to 180,000 tons of rags, placed no duty whatever and no prohibition on the exportation of rags; nor did they protect paper, except by the ordinary ad valorem duty which was imposed upon all imported manufactures. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had very clearly stated the condition of the paper trade at this moment, and had shown that for years past our export of paper had considerably exceeded our import of rags; in fact, that more rags were produced in this country than were necessary for the paper consumption of the country. In 1853 the import duty on paper was reduced from 5d.to 2½d.a 1b., in spite of the opposition of the then hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan), who then represented the paper-makers of the country, and who prophesied that the trade would be ruined. But what has taken place? Why, that the year 1853 was the commencement both of a great increase of production and of the great export trade in paper from this country. Before that year the export was only 5 or 5½ per cent upon the whole production, but since then the amount exported had reached 9½ or nearly 10 per cent upon the whole production of paper—in fact, the reduction had opened a wider field to industry. In like manner he believed that this reduction from 2½d. to 1½d.instead of injuring the papermakers would be more likely to benefit them by opening the field to their skill and industry still wider. The hon. Member for Herts had taken exception to several statements of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the effect, on particular foreign trades, of his proposition; but he (Mr. Childers) could give the House some interesting facts relative to the paper trade where England and France stood on the same footing of unrestricted competition. Supposing there were no differential duty against foreign paper in England, the hon. Member contended that England would be at a disadvantage in competition with other countries. If that were so it might be assumed that at present at any rate, in the British Colonies, British paper was at a disadvantage as compared with foreign paper. But what was the fact? He would take the case of Canada. The population of Canada was well known to be partly French, and in Lower Canada the majority of the population were French, who would therefore naturally prefer French produce. But in the year 1857, the import of paper by Canada amounted to £78,500, of which £50,000, or about two-thirds, came from England; £26,700, or about the remaining one-third, from the United States; and the amount imported from France and the Continent was only £1,800 altogether—less than a fortieth part. Again, in Victoria, the entire value of the paper imported was £158,500. The portion of that amount which came from the United States and all other foreign countries was only £2,500, and the whole of the remaining £156,000 came from our English manufacturers. In the case of India, the item of paper was mixed up with that of books and stationery under one head; and the whole amount of import into that Colony of the three articles was £227,000. Of this amount, £182,000 was contributed by Great Britain, either directly or through Egypt, and France furnished only £20,000; the remaining £25,000 coming from all other nations, including the United States. So at the Cape the total imported amount was £22,000, of which only £500 came from foreign countries, the whole of the remaining £21,500 being furnished by Great Britain. The total export of paper from this country was between 7,000 and 8,000 tons a year. In the Colony of Victoria a newspaper was published which had the largest circulation in British territory after The Times and two or three of the penny papers in London, The circulation of this paper, The Melbourne Argus, was something about 14,000 a day. It represented a large amount of capital, and one of the partners in the concern resided habitually in this country, mainly in order to make the necessary purchases for the paper, and to direct operations for the purpose. One of the principal of these purchases was paper. The consumption was about 200 reams of newspaper paper a week, making 360 tons a year, or about one-twentieth part of the entire quantity exported from this country. Now, this amount was so large that the purchaser would feel little hesitation, if he could get paper cheaper and as good in France and Belgium, in having recourse to those countries. The Committee well knew that in these matters nationality was not a very material consideration. A penny a pound would produce a saving of £3,360 a year; a farthing nearly £1,000 a year. But the whole of this paper was purchased in England, because it was the cheapest market. During the seven years in which the purchase for this journal were made at home, not one pennyworth of foreign paper had been shipped for it to Melbourne. Now with these facts he thought the Committee might safely assume that the interest of the paper-makers was safe in the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in whose Resolution he fully concurred.


said, the question they were now discussing was neither more nor less than "Protection v.Tree Trade," and he rejoiced to think that this was the last time the question would ever he before the British House of Commons. Protection meant robbing somebody else. This was the true English of the word. It was impossible to protect a class of men except at the expense of somebody else—that was to say, of the general public. Much had been said as to the duty on rags, and much more had been made of it than it deserved, for a very large proportion of the paper was made of cotton waste, rope, and other fibrous substances, and with the former material it was impossible that any country could be better supplied than England, having so many cotton mills close at hand. A special case was always forthcoming to support protection, but they had found its abolition had invariably been followed by the greatest possible good, whether they looked at the corngrowcr or any other class, and he believed that, these paper-makers would do very well after the reduction of these duties. Much bad been said about France having got all she could, and given as little in return as possible. Now it was within the last three weeks that he had been to France, having been appointed one of a deputation by gentlemen engaged in the same trade as himself to visit France, in order to assist the French Commission in the settlement of the duties to be charged under the treaty, and he had no hesitation in saying that the French appeared anxious, not only to do all that they had bargained to do, but even more; and that they desired to have it understood amongst their own people, that whatever they lost by the treaty one way they would gain the other by the increased trade with this country. The French people had already got rid of much of the fear which they at first entertained as to the effects of the treaty. They doubtless wished to make as much revenue as they could out of their English imports. But it was impossible for them to make a revenue by imports, unless they adopted such duties as would allow the goods to be imported. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire entertained the opinion that the duties on English goods exported to France were paid by this country. No such thing. Our prices were fixed in this market, and if our goods were purchased and sent to France, if France imposed the duty the French paid for it not the English. Of course it was desirable that the impost should be as light as possible, as the heavier it was the more prohibitive it became. He trusted the Committee would not stultify itself over this seven-eighths of a penny per pound duty, but agree to the Resolution, seeing the trifling quantity of paper that was annually imported.


I, Sir, must be excused if I refuse to regard the question now before us in a political or party aspect, or to calculate as to what may be the consequences of the decision to which we are about to come, to one side of the House or to the other. I have no party leanings, no party bias, no party vengeance to carry out; and having, from the commencement of the Session, given to the Government a general, though independent support, I should he willing to support them on the present occasion if I felt that their proposal was fair and just, and for the general advantage of the country. I wish, then, to deal with this question on its merits, and on its merits alone. The question raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire is limited to this narrow and single proposition,—are we at the present moment in a position to abolish the Customs' duty on foreign paper? In order thoroughly to understand the proposition now before us, it is absolutely necessary to go back some months in our Parliamentary history, and refer to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered in this House on the 7th of February. In that speech, which was remarkable for every excellence which should characterize a great and grave statement of the financial position of a vast empire, there was no portion of it which was more carefully elaborated than that devoted to the consideration of the Excise duty on paper. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech this evening, courteously sneered at the "pathetic manner" in which a petition from the paper manufacturers of Ireland was presented to the House; but in his own magnificent statement of the 7th of February, he exhausted not only the powers of argument and illustration, but likewise of pathos, in describing the deplorable condition of the paper manufac- turers of the United Kingdom. Let us now see in what manner the Chancellor of the Exchequer really did describe the condition of the trade in the month of February; for it is essential to the due understanding of the proposition now before us that we should consider the operation of the Excise duty, when we are asked to abolish the Customs' duty. He told the House and the country that the Excise duty was an impost at once "impolitic" and discouraging—that it was "a bad duty," which was "becoming untenable in law,—that it was hardly possible to describe the manner in which it obstructed skill and enterprise." Now let the Committee mark this further description of the evil operation of the Excise duty,—"that it helped to extinguish all the small paper manufacturers." He added that "it caused the greatest soreness," "from the sense of injustice that attends capricious and unequal laws,"—that it was "rapidly becoming incapable of being administered without discredit"—that it prevented the use of new fibrous material in the manufacture of paper; and he wound up a powerful appeal by calling on Parliament to remove from the statute book a duty which was burdensome and oppressive in its operation, and, he almost added, that which I freely add, iniquitous in its results. This was the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, as the organ of the Government, and with that full knowledge which was at his command; and upon this statement and this representation this House consented to pass a Bill for the repeal of the Excise duty on paper. In me the Chancellor of the Exchequer had a willing listener, and a ready disciple; for I knew, from personal experience, that the description given by the right hon. Gentleman of the destructive operation of this duty was fully justified by the fact. I knew how fatally the pressure of the Excise had operated in Ireland, crushing the small manufacturers out of existence; and I believe that if its giant pressure were removed from that branch of our native industry, mills, now mouldering in ruin, and tenanted only by the owl and the bat, would again become scenes of busy life,—that many small capitalists would again lift their heads in humble independence, and that we might once more see, in our remote and sequestered villages, hundreds of men, women, and children happy and contented, because profitably employed. The Bill for the repeal of (he Excise duty was passed by this House; but what has become of that Bill? It has been rejected by the other House of Parliament; and what is the consequence of that rejection? Why this,—that the paper manufacturers of the United Kingdom are, at this moment, in the same state of embarrassment and feebleness, and subject to the same restrictions, as they were on the 7th of February. I ask, does the Chancellor of the Exchequer entertain the same opinions as he did then? And if the Chancellor did not expect in February to be able to relieve the manufacturers from the grievous pressure of the Excise duty, would he have had the audacity to propose to expose them to undue foreign competition? If he should not then hope to free them from this crushing impost, would he have proposed to allow the foreigner to come in free of duty to compete with a trade so crippled and enfeebled as he described it to be? If the enterprise of the home manufacturer were fettered then, is it not equally fettered now?—if their inventive faculties were cramped at that time, are they not just as much cramped at present? The Chancellor of the Exchequer then maintained that if the Excise duty were abolished, new materials for the manufacture of paper would be found, or could be availed of; but the duty has not been removed, and, according to the facts and logic of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there must be as much difficulty in finding or using new materials now as in the month of February. If, then, the position of the trade is the same in the month of August as it was in the month of February, I ask, is this the time at which, or are these the circumstances under which, we should expose it to foreign competition—to undue and unfair foreign competition? The question is one, I maintain, not of fanciful honour, but of common justice. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that if we consider we have done an act of injustice, we ought to retrace our steps, and that the French Government have generously and handsomely given us the opportunity of so doing. I am not too proud to accept that offer, and I would avail myself of it with gratitude to that Government for its great condescension. I say, accept the offer, and postpone this proposal until you are in a better position to carry it out with fairness to your own people. The noble Lord at the head of the Government obtained our consent to the French Treaty, amongst other grounds, on the understanding that the prohibition against the exportation of French rags was to be replaced by a liberal scale of protective duty. But was that expectation realized?—was that assurance justified by what followed? No, the promise was illusory, and absolute prohibition is the law of France at this moment. I do not cave whether it was the Protectionists of France, the Legislature of France, or the Emperor of the French, who refused; it is enough for me that France refused to give us the raw material of a staple branch of our homo industry; and, under those circumstances, I am against allowing the selfish French manufacturers to send their paper into this country free of duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says he hopes this House will afford no encouragement to the French Protectionists. I hope so, too. But how are we to discourage, and how encourage? If you vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, you will give them no encouragement; hut if you vote for the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which means giving them all without obtaining any concession in return, the French Protectionists will be only more determined than ever in their opposition to free trade. The right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to establish a precedent for the course he asks us to take, which is to allow the manufactured article in free of duty, while we are compelled to submit to a heavy tax on, or exclusion from, the raw material; and he has alluded to the fact that French shoes and boots, as well as French leather, are sent in duty free, notwithstanding that duty is imposed upon the raw material. One would almost imagine that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been struck with sudden forgetfulness, when he ventured to illustrate his argument by such a case; because no man is more thoroughly conversant with the fact than the right lion. Gentleman, that the duty on the raw material was put on by the French Government after we had allowed French manufactured leather to come in duty free. The way not to afford encouragement to the French Protectionists is, to say to them—"We are anxious for free trade; we are willing to do everything we can to facilitate commercial intercourse between the two countries; but if we are ready to go the entire length, you must take some step in advance; and you promised to make that step in advance, when you promised a liberal protective duty on rags, in the place of total exclusion." But if we say, as we do by this proposal, that we are satisfied with total exclusion, when, in Heaven's name, will the French manufacturer ever give it up? To say that we will adopt free trade under every circumstance, he cause we are caught and carried away by the mere name of free trade, and that French manufacturers may continue to be as protective and as exclusive as they please, is not the way to bring about free trade in the real sense of the word. It is all very well to state that the French paper-maker will have to pay the same Excise duty as the home manufacturer; hut I shall proceed to show, from practical authority, the different manner in which this duty affects the Frenchman on the one hand, and the Englishman or the Irishman on the other. A letter appeared in The Morning Star of this, day from Mr. Rawlins, who, while advocating the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, thus describes the relative position of the English and foreign manufacturer with respect to the operation of the Excise Duty. The writer says:— On the one hand the foreign manufacturer will have the privilege of sending his paper to any port of entry in the kingdom, or to any inland town where bonded privileges are allowed, free of duty, to be warehoused in bond until sold. In all probability he will sell it in bond. The dealer will keep it in bond until he sells it to the consumer, and the large consumer, who is frequently a very large holder, will not pay the duty until he actually requires the paper for immediate use. More than this, the foreign manufacturer, after producing his article in perfect freedom from all restraint, may make it up in any sizes, forms, or packages, assorted with other goods, if for re-exportation, at all times consulting only the requirements of his market. I ask the attention of the Committee to this, the other side of the picture:— On the other hand, the English manufacturer will have only one bonded warehouse, namely, his own mill. This is always remote from the place of consumption. Before sending his paper thither he must incur a liability for the duty, which must be discharged within, upon an average, three weeks. Instead of consulting only his own convenience or the requirements of his customers, ho must adhere as to form, and size, and package, to the regulations of an Excise Act, merciless to both, and descending into details which, if they were not so mischievous, would be positively ridiculous. If he wishes to export his paper he cannot make it up in packages assorted with other, goods, but alone. He must wait six weeks from the date of the vessel's sailing, and then give a bond that the paper shall not be brought back before he can recover the duty he has paid. The Frenchman may send in his paper free of Customs duty, and not pay a farthing of Excise duty either; for it is the person who buys it, and takes it out of bond, who has to pay the duty on it. It is the English, Irish, or Scotch customer who pays the duty, and not the French manufacturer. But the English or Irish manufacturer cannot so easily deal with this oppressive giant—this giant that has crushed to death, beneath his oppressive hand, so many of the small papermakers. The Excise takes full possession of his mill. The Excise is enthroned within its walls. The Excise seizes possession of the works, dogs every step in the operations, interferes with every process, makes experiment more costly, renders failure more humiliating, restricts energy and enterprise, and, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has asserted, prevents the legitimate expansion of a great and important branch of trade. But these are not the only disadvantages under which the home manufacturer labours. In this country there is free trade in rags. Our rag market is open to all purchasers. The English or the Irish papermaker has to meet the American as a competitor; and when the price at all declines, in steps the agent of an American house, who purchases large quantities of the article, and thus raises its value. There is an enormous demand for rags in this country, and the price is naturally raised in consequence of this demand, which is increased by foreign competition. But in France they will not allow foreign competition, and there being only local demand for the article, the price is thus kept down; and so far from the rag merchant being able to command his market, the fact is that the paper trade of France impose their own terms, and arrange the price according to their own will. To such an extent are their arrangements carried that, as I understand, they regularly map out the country into districts, and a manufacturer who lives at a distance from the market can have his rags at a lower rate than the manufacturer whose mill is near or within easy access of the market. The Frenchman will not allow the British maker to show his nose in the French rag market, nor will he suffer him to carry off one ounce of an essential raw material from the shores of France; and yet we are asked to allow him to send in his manufactured article free of all duty to this country ! Will you allow the French maker, who obtains an undue advantage by a selfish adherence to protection in its worst form, to take a further advantage by the operation of British free trade, and outsell your own manufacturers, to the injury of the men, women, and children of this country? I am as anxious for free trade as any one, but free trade must have some kind of reciprocity ["Oh, oh!" and "Hear, hear!"]. Well, let Gentlemen make the case their own, and see how they would like free trade without reciprocity. What would be said in Spitalfields, or Coventry, or Manchester, under similar circumstances? Would their silk manufacturers allow velvets, silks, and satins from France and Italy, to come in duty free, if France and Italy imposed the same prohibition on the export of the raw material of those fabrics as now exists on the raw material of paper? Or, suppose the American Government, for some purpose or other, whether for revenue, for protection, or for mere annoyance, imposed an export duty of 10 or 15 per cent on the raw materia1 of cotton, would the hon. Members for Manchester, Glasgow, and Paisley, come down to this House, and vote for allowing cotton fabrics from the United States to come free into our markets, and beat our manufacturers out of the field. Yet that is exactly what the House is asked to do in this matter. France is shutting us out from the raw material of a great staple manufacture, and yet we are to open our ports and our markets to their manufactured article. Free trade, in my opinion, must be based upon the principles of common sense and common justice. It has been said that England is beating France in the American market; but I have been informed that a rider from the eminent house of Mr. Wrigley lately made an extensive tour in Canada and the United States, and the result of his elaborate and costly visit was that he did not bring home a single order—not because Mr. Wrigley is not able to give the best value for the money, and supply as good an article as any other maker in the world, but because Belgium and Germany have cut the ground completely from under his feet. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer believed in the truth of the deplorable picture which he drew of the sufferings of the paper trade under the restrictions of the Excise, how is it that he has taken no practical action for their relief? Neither he, nor the Radical advocates of free trade, nor the Whig party, have taken any practical steps to reverse the decision of the Lords, and remove the restrictions which cramp and fetter the energy of the trade; they have done nothing, save adopt a series of farcical Resolutions, meaning nothing, and avoiding all real responsibility. The Government and their supporters have deserted the paper manufacturers, left them in the deplorabls condition which the Chancellor of the Exchequer described; and not only do they thus desert them, and thus leave them, but the right lion. Gentleman now wishes to impose upon a trade so cramped, so fettered, and so enfeebled, the obligation of competing under the extremest disadvantage with the Frenchman, who guards himself selfishly from all danger in that competition. In what other instance, where there is prohibition of the export of the raw material, is the manufactured article allowed to come in free? [An hon. MEMBER: Leather.] The hon. Gentleman must not have been in his place when I alluded to that very article; but even though he were, the fact may well bear repetition. Some years ago, when we were liberal and generous to France, as we are now called on to be, and when we allowed her manufactured leather, as well as her boots and her shoes, to come in free, she immediately responded to our generosity and liberality, to our free trade, by putting a duty on the raw material. This single fact is a crushing answer to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposition, if the House adopt this proposition, under the peculiar circumstances in which the trade is placed, we will only be strengthening the hands of the French monopolists, and putting a stop to free trade for some time to come. The concession ought to be delayed until the French manufacturers have shown themselves ready to make some advance, and to do something in their turn, to merit our liberality. It ought also be delayed until, by the repeal of the Excise duty, the trade are placed in a position to encounter a new state of things. The adoption of the Resolution will completely crush the remaining small manufacturers. Are they now in a better position than in February, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House the Excise duty had nearly crushed the entire of that class out of existence? Those of them still hanging in the balance, and on the brink of ruin, only require the appearance of Belgian, German, and French competitors in the market, cutting down their small margin of profit, to crush them altogether. I went heart and soul with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his laudable attempt to do away with the Excise duty; but I cannot support him in his present scheme, which will only profit the French monopolist. Sir, it is much better to postpone this Resolution to another year, when we may have a strong and united Government—a Government who will not only propose to repeal the Excise duty, but will have determination enough to carry it. Then, indeed, the paper trade would be placed in a position to stand competition; but, as matters now are, it is not. I do, Sir, appeal to this House, and call upon it, as it regards its own honour and dignity, and as it desires to protect the interests confided to its care, not to pass this unfair and unjust measure, but to say to the French Government, and to the manufacturers of that country—"Deal with us fairly and honestly, according to principles of equity and justice; deal with us as man ought to deal with man, and we will carry out our free-trade policy to its very utmost, not only for your benefit and advantage, but also for our own."


thought that the Committee would stultify itself if, after its former proceedings, it assented to the proposition of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire. The economic question lay in a small compass—it was simply this, whether they were to study the interest of the producer or the consumer? Surely they were bound to consider the former only. It had been said that we ought to have some reciprocity established in this matter. Now that was a principle which had been over and over again given up. If ever there ought to be a case of reciprocity surely it was that of our shipping. Nevertheless Parliament had thrown that consideration completely aside, and he hoped no weight would be allowed to it in the present instance. French paper was introduced to a very small extent into our colonies. The fancy paper for hangings, in the manufacture of which the French were superior to us, entered, no doubt slightly into those markets; but in every other description of the article, our manufacturers undersold and drove their foreign rivals out of the market. He could hardly believe that the French, who used so large an amount of paper, could have more rags than were sufficient for their own consumption, because it was quite clear that if they had more than enough for their own purposes, the surplus must be either exported or be allowed to go to waste. Now nothing of the kind had ever happened. And if France had just enough for its own consumption, the immediate effect of opening our market to French manufactured paper would be to raise the price of rags in France to the same level as in England. The hon. Gentleman asked for an instance of the raw produce being prohibited whilst the manufactured article was admitted. He (Mr. Marsh) would remind him that a short time ago gold was totally prohibited by the Mexican Government to be exported in its raw state, but the manufactured article was allowed to pass freely. The by pothetical case put by the hon. Gentleman of the Americans putting 10 or 15 per cent duty upon the export of their raw cotton, was so absurd as not to be deserving of argument. He hoped that the House would not break through the principle of free trade by insisting upon this last rag of protection in regard to an article which furnished the strongest possible case for the recognition of the principle, nor practically break an important commercial treaty on the weakest plea ever presented to its notice.


Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has advanced two arguments in favour of his Resolutions. He has said that we are bound to the Resolutions by the provisions of the treaty, and that we are likewise bound to them by the principles of free trade. I think there is something suspicious in this division of the argument. If we are committed by the provisions of the treaty, what necessity was there for any further reason? While, on the other hand, if we are not committed by the provisions of the treaty, I want to know what is the justification for resuming on the 6th of August a discussion which the Notice Paper tells us has slumbered since the 2nd of April, and which might very well have slumbered until the next Session of Parliament. But I must confess that I see in this duplication of the argument an evidence of the weakness of the case. The object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is transparent. If any person should hesitate as to the provisions of the treaty binding him on this point, he was to be caught by a brilliant appeal to the principles of free trade. If, on the other hand, any sound Free-trader in the House should think that the principles of free trade were perverted and misapplied by these Resolutions, then he was to be entangled and held captive in the meshes of the French treaty. But the net has been paid in our sight, and I trust it has been laid in vain. I am desirous, however, to consider for a moment the twofold view of the argument which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has presented; and it will be strange enough if even his powers of persuasion will induce the House to believe that two propositions, each in itself halting and infirm, can be combined together so as to make one sound and trustworthy demonstration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is the question of free trade and protection over again, and he speaks of the subject as if this question of the duties on paper was some neglected and overlooked remnant of a protective system which had escaped the purifying effect of modern legislation, merely through an accidental omission. Now, I think it is important to inquire in the first place, when were these duties settled and by whom were they settled? The matter does not date further back than 1853. In 1853 the right hon. Gentleman was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Secretary to the Treasury was an experienced and noted Free-trader, Mr. James Wilson. What happened in 1853? I have some recollection of the circumstances, because it was my duty to take part in the discussion which then took place. Mr. Wilson addressed himself to this question deliberately and clearly, with the assent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the purpose of ascertaining what Customs' duty would he fair and proper, having regard to the fact that the exportation of rags from foreign countries was either taxed heavily or prohibited totally; and, after consideration, taking the Excise duty as the basis, and adding on something more than a penny to balance the prohibition of rags, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Wilson proposed the Customs' duty on paper which is now the ruling duty. I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer shakes his head, hut I beg to tell him what I know and what I have tested by reference to the discussion which then took place. I thought it my duty in Committee to submit that upon the principle on which the Secretary to the Treasury proceeded the Customs' duty on paper should be 3d. and not2½,and I said, what I still believe to be the case, that the calculations of Mr. Wilson were erroneous, because, taking the Excise duty at 1½d., and the duty to balance the prohibition of rags at 1⅞., the Customs' duty should be as near as possible 3d. I was not supported in Committee, and the duty was fixed at 2½d. only; but it was fixed upon the principle, though I think the calculation was not correct, that there should he added to the Excise duty a sum to counter- vail the disability under which the paper-makers laboured in procuring the raw material. But 1853 was seven years ago, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer changes in a shorter space of time. To come to a more recent date, I take the present year, and the letter of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in which he laid down the principle, considered by the Government to be sound, with respect to the regulation of Customs' and Excise duties. On the 17th of January, Lord John Russell, writing to Lord Cowley, said:— Her Majesty's Government will be limited in what they design or adopt solely by two considerations, the necessity for raising a revenue sufficient for the purposes of the Empire, and the duty of making an equitable adjustment of burdens as between commodities that more or less directly compete with one another in the general market. That is the principle which is laid down by the noble Lord on the part of Her Majesty s Government as the foundation of the Treaty with Prance. But is not this the principle on which you acted in 1853 with respect to the papermakers? You found existing certain burdens, and you found that there must be an equitable adjustment, and not a free competition in the general market. Therefore, as an equitable adjustment, the Government settled the duties on the present scale. I do not stop to comment on the good taste of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who on a question of this kind, deeply interesting, as he knows, to a large and important trade, did not think it beneath his dignity to sneer at and revile that trade, because the subject is a matter of rags, and to call the question a "ragged question." Neither do I stop to inquire into the accuracy and fairness of the right hon. Gentleman in telling the papermakers that they wear gloves and drink wine, but forgetting to tell them that they pay 10d. in the pound income tax. I appeal to the Committee to consider for a moment what is the case of the papermakers, and what are their allegations. Of course, they are bound to prove their allegations, and if on inquiry their allegations should not be found to be true, I should then admit that their case could not be sustained. There is no doubt as to what is the statement of the paper-makers, for they make it boldly and distinctly. They say, in the first place, that their trade produces £6,000,000 in value a year, and employs between 40,000 and 50,000 persons; that the raw material they use is the despicable material of rags; that the supply of rags in this country is limited, and not producible at the will of the manufacturers and consumers; that they are consequently obliged to look to foreign countries for a part of the supply they stand in need of; and that they find in foreign countries either a prohibition on export, or an export duty amounting on an average to £9 per ton; they say that such a duty would amount to a tax on manufactured paper of something like 1⅞. in the pound; that it is indifferent to them whether the tax on the raw material be an export duty abroad or an import duty at homo; that, as the law stands, a large quantity of foreign paper is introduced into this country and consumed, and that the proposed alteration of the duty would give so great advantage to the foreign manufacturer, that they will no longer be able to compete with him. They also state that the bonding-warehouse system enables the foreign manufacturer to pay the duty at the time when he takes his goods into the market for sale, while the home manufacturer has to pay the duty at the time of manufacture. That is the case of the paper-makers, who profess their readiness to engage in unrestricted competition with the manufacturers of other countries, but who contend that the principle of free trade ceases to be applicable when foreign countries prevent the manufacturers of this country from obtaining the raw material. Now these are statements which require a careful examination on the part of the House of Commons before they adopt the proposition of the Government; and it would be idle to expect that such an examination can be instituted in the course of the present Session. How are these statements met by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He says that throughout the whole course of modern legislation the House has refused to retain a protective duty on the ground that a tax is imposed in foreign countries on the export of the raw material. One of the instances the right hon. Gentleman adduced of the truth of the statement was the course taken by Parliament in the case of the abolition of slavery in the West Indies. But that is a very unfortunate case for the purposes of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He forgot to tell the House that when slavery was abolished in the West Indies £20,000,000 was paid by way of compensation to the colonial proprietors, and that a differential duty in favour of colonial sugar was for many years retained, of which differential duty the right hon. Gentleman himself was a most decided advocate. The other instance was the case of leather; but the fact is, that it was after, and not he-fore, we admitted into this country the French manufactured article, that the French Government put an export duty on the raw material. The right hon. Gentleman said that France would he a dear market to go to for the purpose of buying rags. I do not know on what authority the right hon. Gentleman makes the statement, but it is inconsistent with the statement made by a gentleman of very high character, brother to a gentleman who is a Member of this House-—and who has declared that this very year he has bought rags in France, some of which cost him only one-half, and others one-third of the price at which he could have obtained them in England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr. Cowan are thus at variance on this point, and as the matter at present stood I must leave each man to judge for himself which of them is the more reliable witness. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that you export from England a large quantity of rags to France. That assertion was made before by the President of the Board of Trade, but the answer given by the papermakers was that, no doubt, in one year a number of tons of rags were exported to France, but they were woollen rags, and not for the manufacture of paper at all. Another statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that paper from England competed successfully with French paper in America; but the right hon. Gentleman forgot to mention how much of the paper charged in the American returns as imported from the United Kingdom had been previously-imported into the United Kingdom from Belgium, the Zollverein, and Germany, from whence it had been sent to our ports for the purpose of being conveyed to the United States. I do not desire a retrograde policy. I do not desire that we should retrace our steps from that policy of free trade which I will not deny has proved beneficial to the country. I should be the last man to undo what has been done in this respect. I do not state these things as facts from my own knowledge; but what I say is, that the fair course would be to inquire into them when there is time and leisure to do so. The papermakers must ho prepared to stand or fall by the facts which they allege, and if the case turns out as it is represented to be by the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer, they must take the consequence. But I contend that this is not the time of year, and that we have not the materials to conduct the inquiry or decide the question at issue.

Here I leave the energetic appeal made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the principles of free trade, and I come to what I think is the only question which at this time the Government should have ventured to submit for our consideration—namely, whether we are bound by the assent given to the French treaty to assent also to the present Resolution? That involves, in the first place, the construction of the French Treaty—and here I must tender my thanks to the right hon. Gentleman for the very benignant admission which he was kind enough to make, that the House of Commons in this matter are not to be bound by the opinion of the law officers of the Crown. I am sure no one will respect those opinions more highly than I shall; but I am glad that we are allowed the exercise of some judgment of our own upon this matter. Now, I utterly deny that the question of the construction of this treaty is a question merely for lawyers. It is a question of plain sense, and of the plain construction of words; and I will undertake to show to the Committee—whose judgment on the construction of the words I would take as willingly as that of any tribunal with which I am acquainted—that in the construction which I put upon the treaty I am supported both by the opinion of the Government and by the vote of the House of Commons. The form and scope of the treaty, I think, are reasonably clear and plain. Any one who looks in the most cursory way at the English engagements which it contains will see what is the course adopted. In the first place, the treaty deals with a long list of enumerated articles with regard to which it provides that they are to be allowed to enter this country absolutely free of duty. That is a simple provision, and required no explanation of the principle upon which it proceeds. Then the treaty touches the case of wine, and provides that the wine duties shall be regulated according to the amount of spirit which the wine may contain. Having thus disposed of articles which are to be admitted free, and of wine which is to be the subject of a varied duty, we come to the 7th and 8th Articles which I say are to be interpreted together, and which themselves show that they are to be so interpreted, because the 8th is introduced by words which state that it is in consequence of, and as a corollary to, the 7th. The result, therefore, is that in the 7th Article you have got a statement of the general principle upon which those who entered into the treaty are at that stage of it about to proceed. You have got a reference, carefully worded, though in an indefinite form, to "merchandise," without specification, and without definition, leaving you to wait for the enumeration and specification, in the Article which is declared to be a supplement to the general Article. Then, in the 8th Article, there is, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us, an enumeration of four or five articles of manufacture which are there specifically provided for. Take first the case of brandy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says it is inserted there in connection with the surtax. I grant it. I take next the article of paperhangings. Why are they mentioned there? I say there is no reason you can assign, except one—namely, that the 8th Article was meant to be an enumeration of the objects to which the general principle laid down in the 7th Article was to extend. The Chancellor of the Exchequer feels this difficulty, and how does he meet it? He says paperhangings are mentioned in the 8th Article in order to show that there was to be no surtax on them. Let us try the argument. You have the 7th Article, declaring that it should be absolutely in the power of the British Government to add to the amount of the Excise duty something in the nature of a surtax when they come to fix the foreign duty; and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have us believe that the 8th Article, which professes to be an article "in accordance" with the 7th, provided that there should be no surtax on paperhangings at all. The language of the 8th Article, so interpreted, would be perfectly and utterly ridiculous. It cannot stand the test of reasoning for a moment. It is impossible in interpreting the 8th Article to derive any meaning which is not in accordance with the 7th; whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer's interpretation would make the mode in which paper-hangings are dealt with not in accordance with, but in entire dereliction of and contradiction to, the 7th Article. This is the only reason suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer why paperhangings were mentioned, and I say it is a reason which is utterly unsustainable in point of con- struction, and of argument. So with regard to the duty on gold and silver plate. I say no reason can be assigned why gold and silver plate are mentioned in the 8th Article, the duty professing to be the same for Customs and Excise. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: They are not the same.] It is stated so in the treaty. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Not at all]. It seems, Sir, that notwithstanding all the discussions we have had on this subject that the right hon. Gentleman has not read the treaty. The words are that gold and silver plate are to be admitted from France, "at a duty equal to the Stamp or Excise duty," and therefore those who framed the treaty dealt with it as an Excise duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggests the quibble that it is a Stamp duty, and not an Excise duty, whereas in the treaty the two are spoken of as perfectly synonymous. I say, then, that no reason can be assigned for the introduction of paperhangings, or of gold and silver plate into the 8th Article of the Treaty, except on the supposition that that Article was meant to be at once the enumeration, the limit, and the extent of the general words of the 7th Article. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, "Adopt this construction, and what is the use of the 7th Article at all?" I answer, that its use is manifest, and it is of great importance that the right hon. Gentleman should know that use. He said that if the House of Commons thought fit to double the Excise duty on paper, such was the stringency of the 8th Article that they could not raise the Customs' duty on paper. I deny it. [The CHANCELLOR of EXCHEQUER:—I alluded to cardboard.] Yes, that is a slip of mine, but it makes not the slightest difference to the argument. The right hon. Gentleman says that if the House of Commons thought fit to double the Excise on paperhangings or cardboard they would have no power under the treaty to raise the Customs' duty. I say that it was in order to give such a power that the 7th Article was introduced. The words are that "merchandise" shall be admitted into the United Kingdom from France "at a rate of duty equal to the Excise duty which is or shall be imposed upon articles of the same description in the United Kingdom." Since the treaty was made the Chancellor of the Exchequer has raised the Excise on spirits 2s. per gallon, and on the same night took a vote which was immediately to be acted upon at the Custom House, imposing on the importation of foreign spirits a corresponding additional duty of 2s. a gallon. To-night he tells us that that was a violation of the treaty, and that he had no authority whatever for doing so. ["No!"] Yes. That is not my argument; it is the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He says the House of Commons may double the Excise on cardboard, but cannot raise the Customs' duty. Well, brandy is in the same position as cardboard; you may add to the Excise on British spirits, but, according to the right hon. Gentleman's argument, the treaty deprives you of the power of increasing the Customs' duty. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain what he means. Both brandy and cardboard are in the 8th Article. He says that Article was intended to stereotype once and for ever the Customs' duty at one precise and fixed sum; and if that is the case—if the duty on brandy was stereotyped at 8s., and that on cardboard at 15s.—what right had the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose any increase in the Customs' duty on foreign spirits? I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was right. I believe that ho had the power, and that the 7th Article is introduced in order to give you a shifting right of varying from time to time the foreign duty according to the amount of the Excise. But then the whole of that 7th Article is referable to the limit fixed by the 8th, and it is the specific commodities in the 8th, to which the 7th is to apply.

I want to ask a still more important question. When did this construction of the treaty first dawn upon Her Majesty's Government? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us to-night that ho could not have believed it possible five months ago that any one would have been found to say that, with regard to an article excisable in this country, there was any power under the treaty to have a foreign duty other than the Excise duty with a surtax; and he told us also that the Government had been careful not to entrap or hurry the House of Commons into affirming the treaty until it had had explained to it the bearing and operation of every one of its clauses. The hon. Member for Herts (Mr. Puller), mentioned to-night one circumstance with regard to the mode in which the treaty was dealt with—namely, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer submitted to the House two lists of articles, one of which was said to be a list of articles under the treaty, and the other a list of articles not under the treaty; and that among the articles not under the treaty paper was included. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will find that he cannot answer that by saying that at the time the Budget was introduced he intended to propose the removal of the Excise duty, and therefore that he intended to hold that paper was free from the treaty; because, until he knew what would be the fate of that proposal, it would have been premature to assume that paper was not under the treaty. But upon this point I will not go into the case of paper. I will take a neater, more conclusive, and more unanswerable case—that of hops; and I will take that case because nothing can more precisely test the construction of the treaty than hops. In the case of hops you have an Excise duty and a foreign duty. The Government proposed in regard to hops to deal both with the Excise and the foreign duty. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer's view is right, if it was right five months ago, if five months ago he could not believe that any one could entertain any view but that which he now entertains, the course of the Government with regard to hops was clear. They must fix the foreign duty at the same rate as the Excise; or, if there was any difference, it could only be that of a surtax. But see what was done with respect to hops. In the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer introducing the Budget he mentioned the case of hops, and said that it would be convenient for the Committee to look separately at the articles which were under the treaty and the articles which were not; and he invited their attention to hops in that part of his speech which dealt with articles not under the treaty. But he did not stop there; that might have been an inadvertence. Upon the paper for the 5th of March—which was antecedent to the Motion approving the treaty—he placed a notice of his 13th Resolution, "reducing the duty on hops from the 1st of January, 1861, not under treaty." Hops "not under treaty!" The Resolution was, that hops should be charged "after the 1st of January, 1861, in lieu of the duties of Customs now chargeable, 15s. per cwt." That was placed on the paper for the 5th of March. On the 7th of March—which, if I remember rightly, was the very night on which, or the night next before that on which, the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Viscount Enfield) invited the approbation of the House to the Treaty—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after some conversation, placed upon the paper an amended Resolution as to hops. What was that Resolution? "Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,—Reducing the duty on hops from the 1st of January, 1861 (not under treaty)." The House was not entrapped into any approval of the treaty! The Chancellor of the Exchequer took credit for this. He said,— It is very true that when we invited your approval to the treaty there was one single article upon which a vote had not been taken. That was hops; but it made no matter, because it was on the paper. You saw what was going to be done, and it was the same as if you had voted it. What was on the paper? Why, that hops, an excisable article—a customable article—was to be dealt with by the House as an article not under the treaty. But that is not all, for what was the amended Resolution? New observe, if hops came under the treaty, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had no choice. It was an excisable article, and the Customs duty must be the same as the Excise; but what was the amended proposition? That, after the 1st of January, 1861, until the 1st of January, 1862, in lieu of the existing Customs' duty, there was to be charged on hops, on which the Excise duty was only 14s., a Customs' duty of 20s. per cwt. But it does not rest upon the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone. He put it to the vote of the House, and he carried that vote; if the treaty is violated, the right hon. Gentleman has violated it. Is there any doubt what the Chancellor of the Exchequer did in Committee? I will read what he said, because he seems to have forgotten it. The right hon. Gentleman was appealed to on behalf of the hop-growers to make a different arrangement; and what was his reply? He said he had Already made a reduction of 30 per cent on the duty, thereby sacrificing a revenue of £100,000, and ho had given to the English producer a differential duty of 6s. He had in the face of the treaty given a differential duty—not a surtax, but a differential duty—to the English producer for one year, until the 18th of January, 1862, of 6s. per cwt. And this is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who tells us to-night that he could not have believed five months ago that any man—out of a lunatic asylum I suppose, for that is his favourite expression—that any man out of a lunatic asylum could be found who would consider this treaty as meaning anything but that on an excisable article you are bound to have a Customs' duty the same as your Excise duty; and this is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who tells us that the Government were careful not to entrap the House into any hurried or mistaken view of the treaty, and that with that object, before the House approved the treaty, they had either taken all their votes or put them all upon the paper! Now, what was any one to think who read the Resolution about hops? There is the case of hops, an excisable article, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us it is not under the treaty. He tells us, moreover, that he has given to the producer a differential duty of 6s. per cwt. for the year. It is very clear that excisable articles not mentioned by name in the treaty are free of the treaty, and that as with hops, so with paper, we are free to deal with either exactly as we think fit. The argument is conclusive. If the treaty has been violated it has been violated by her Majesty's Government. I want to ask this question,—If the hopgrower is entitled to have for even one year a differential duty, why is not the papermaker entitled to have a differential duty? Has this peculiar construction of the treaty been devised and invented for the peculiar benefit or the peculiar torment of the papermakers? What is the meaning of this legislation, of this construction of the law officers adopted by the Government, which is to be applied to one trade and not to another? The Chancellor of the Exchequer talks of class interest; why, was there ever a class interest like this, that the same Government upon the construction of the same article of a treaty say that they are at liberty to give a differential duty to one producer, and are bound not to give it to another? But that is not all. That is the case of hops, and I think it would be sufficient to fix the Government as to the construction of the treaty; and I never heard that the French Government took any exception to that construction. I never heard that the French Government have remonstrated with Her Majesty's Government, and said, "Our hopgrowers are not at all satisfied. The treaty has been violated. We are entitled to have our hops admitted to England, not in the year 1862, but before, under the Excise duty." In truth, both the Governments have assented to and acted upon the construction of the treaty which I say is the true one.

With regard to paper, when the question

of the third reading of the Paper Duty Repeal Bill was before the House, it occurred to the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Warner) to ask whether the House, by passing that third reading, would be compromised when it came to consider the Customs' duty upon paper; and what was the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—of a Cabinet Minister, who says that the Government were careful not to entrap or mislead the House of Commons into a construction of the treaty, which was not that upon which they were acting? The right hon. Gentleman stated, in reply to the hon. Member, that— The passing of this measure would not fetter in any way the discretion of Parliament as to the imposition of any Customs' duty on paper. Now, is the House of Commons misled? They were misled as to hops they were misled as to paper. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, perhaps, will say, "I thought that if I could repeal the Excise, we were free of the treaty." I will deal with that presently; but even if that construction were to prevail, I beg to remind the right hon. Gentleman that that does not dispose of the case of hops. He never expected to repeal the Excise duty on hops, and yet he talked of hops as not under the treaty. We must continue the history of the light that broke in upon the Government. Up to this time I think we may conclude that the Government were, notwithstanding the astonishment which the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks now he should have felt five months ago—they were up to the 25th of April in blissful ignorance of any such construction as is now contended for. On the 17th of May the light began to dawn; and it was a remarkable day. Upon the 17th of May, I think, the Paper Duties Repeal Bill had passed this House, and had gone up to the other House; and there were rumours that the other House were not going to pass the Paper Duties Repeal Bill. Thereupon a question was put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). It was a purely hypothetical question, for it was not upon the Paper Bill; but it was a question which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was quite prepared to answer nevertheless. The question which the hon. Member asked was a hypothetical one—Supposing the House of Lords threw out the Paper Duties Repeal Bill, what would he do then? And further what would be said about the Customs' duties upon paper in that event? The Chancellor of the Exchequer made three statements. He said in the first place—it is a remarkable statement—I thought so at the time; and the more I have considered it since the more that opinion has been confirmed; he said, The question of the hon. Member has reference to a matter which, of course, was under the consideration of the Government at the time the Treaty of Commerce with France was being negotiated. They had considered it, therefore. It is very odd that having considered the question, they should have acted with regard to hops as they did. The second statement was this: that in his opinion no doubt did, or could, or should, or would be entertained as to the construction of the treaty; and the construction was this—Let the House of Lords retain the Excise duty upon paper, and the Customs' duty upon paper must be reduced to the precise level with the Excise duty on paper made at home. That was the second statement. The third statement was this—There are certain cases in which a surtax might be claimed in addition to the Customs' duty; but as to this duty no claim for surtax has ever been made, or can be made. There will be no case as to paper for a surtax; because the inconveniences from the Excise duty are not so appreciable or calculable as to be capable of being reduced to money. But in the Resolution of to-night we have a surtax, although we were told there was no case for it. The inconveniences of the Excise are not calculable or appreciable; they cannot be reduced to money. The French Government heard that on the 17th of May, if they read our debates; and on the face of that statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer now proposes to have a surtax upon foreign paper. My observation upon these statements is this—that, inasmuch as that although he stated his opinion of the construction of the treaty at that time, and said that it had been under consideration when the treaty was negotiated; yet, as we find him acting for some months before in direct opposition to that construction; and inasmuch as on the same evening he said no surtax could be made, and no case had been made for any; and yet we find him now proposing a surtax—I am not without hopes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will return to his original construction of the treaty—will abandon the surtax, and hold that, as he did with hops, so he may with paper, and leave the Customs' duty at its present amount. I have submitted to the Committee the construction which is, I think, the true construction of the treaty. I have shown the Committee that it wan the construction which was adopted by the Government, which was acted upon by them; and, what is more important for us, was affirmed by the House of Commons in the case of hops; and now I want to point out what I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer is far from having sufficiently considered—the consequences of the construction of the treaty upon which he has to-night relied. This appears to me to be a question going far beyond the mere question of paper. The question of paper is very important to paper manufacturers, but the question that occurs to me is, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's construction is important to the whole revenue of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says you are to separate the 7th Article from the 8th, and must construe the 7th Article as it stands. I say, do that and sec what comes of it. Construe the 7th Article as applying to all merchandise coming from Fiance, and the consequence is this,—that with regard ' to all merchandise coming from that country, those who bring it will have a right to say, "Your Customs' duty is identical with your Excise duty, and the measure of the Excise duty is to be the measure of the. Customs' duty. We tender you a cargo"—say of timber or tobacco for Havre—" and we ask you, where is your Excise duty upon that article? "We have no Excise duties upon those articles. I say, if "merchandise" in the 7th Article is to mean all merchandise disconnected from the 8th Article, then the French Government has a right to require us to admit free any cargo of any article, such as tobacco or timber, upon which we have no Excise duty here; the Excise duty is to constitute the basis of the foreign duty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's mode of extricating himself from this difficulty is this—he says the 7th Article only applies to the merchandise upon which there exist Excise duties in this country, and therefore he represents the conversation that would take place between himself and the French Government in this way. The French Government says, "Here is a cargo of timber; we beg you to admit it duty free." The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say, '' No, we can't admit it duty free, because you have no warrant for such a claim." The French Government will say, "Look at the 7th Article—'merchandise coming from France to be admitted at a rate of duty equal to the Excise duty which is or shall be imposed upon articles of the same description in the United Kingdom.' Where is your Excise duty? "The Chancellor of the Exchequer will say, "We have no Excise duty upon timber; your timber was not subject to Excise when the treaty was made, "and therefore does not fall within that Article." What would be the rejoinder of the French Government, and I think a conclusive one? They would say, "Look again at the 7th Article. It is not articles which are excisable at the time which are spoken of, but it is 'at a rate of duty equal to the Excise duty which is or shall be imposed upon articles of the same description in the United Kingdom," therefore they will say, "it is quite immaterial whether there was then any Excise duty or not." If it is an excisable article, which timber, tobacco, corn, or anything consumable here may be, the French Government may say, "Unless you have an Excise duty upon that article, the Excise duty is nil, and our foreign Customs' duty is nii also." That is an argument which the Government would have a difficulty in rebutting if it were raised.

But I must not omit another argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has said: "Whatever construction you place I will show you something that will influence your judgment," and he read a despatch from the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which, from its nature, was evidently of a private nature, and from that despatch he derived an argument as to what the meaning of the treaty was. I say it is not for the House of Commons to consider that treaty according to a despatch which preceded the consummation of the treaty. Why, the despatch of the noble Lord points to fifty things which have been changed or altered before the treaty was finally concluded, and therefore, however sound and proper the views of the noble Lord might have been, it is not his despatch, but the treaty which is before the House. Let me only add one word in addition to the argument on the literal and grammatical construction of this Article. We are told that the House of Commons is committed to the approval of all parts of the treaty, and that we are bound to pass these Resolutions in consequence of that approval. I think it is important to see upon what grounds and conditions we gave our approval to that part of the treaty;—because no sooner was the treaty announced than, taking merely the question of paperhangings and cardboard specified in the treaty, hon. Members who were interested raised the question and asked the Government, "Have you stipulated anything with regard to the exportation of rags from France, a most important matter for paper-makers?" I remember that on the 5th March the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs came down to the House, and, amid cheers, made this announcement:— The repeal of the duty upon the admission of rags into this country for the purpose of manufacturing paper had been under the consideration of the French Government, and the Council of Ministers were prepared to recommend to the Legislative Body the removal of that prohibition.—[3 Mansard, clvi. 2225.] The President of the Board of Trade repeated the statement in equally strong terms. He said, "I was extremely glad to hear the noble Lord announce to the House that the French Government intended to remove the prohibition now existing on the importation of rags." It was not merely that they meant to submit to the Legislative Body a proposal on the subject, but that the Government of France intended to remove the prohibition on rags. The House of Commons therefore accepted the assurance of the noble Lord and the President of the Board of Trade, that the Ministers of the French Government were about to remove the prohibition on the exportation of rags. You talk of honour and good faith, and you talk about addressing an assembly of gentlemen. I ask could there be any difference between this promise of the French Government and a provision, if such there had been, inserted in the treaty, declaring that they would remove the prohibition on rags? I say that in honour and truth and good faith there was no difference whatever. The case would not have been one jot different if there had been an express clause in the treaty engaging to remove the prohibition of which the paper manufacturers so much complain.

I will for the moment put aside the construction of the treaty. Supposing we were not called upon to say what the construction of the treaty is, the question would be still what ought to be the position of the House of Commons? I say it is to wait for the completion of that promise. Can it be objected that in doing so we impair in any way or defeat the treaty? Certainly not. In the first place, that could not be if I am right in the construction I have submitted to the Committee; and, in the next place, we have had a positive assurance that there is no desire on the part of the French Government to precipitate the House of Commons on this question. So long ago as the 10th of February, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his financial statement, he adverted to this very matter. He said:— We have reason to believe France would have given us the time which she was compelled to require for herself; but the arrangement for early change in preference to general postponement was owing to the deliberate judgment of the English Government that it would be, on the whole, more advantageous to the English people."—[3 Hansard, clvi. 852.] Therefore it was the English Government that had the option and choice of stating at what time the treaty should take effect. In addition to that we have had before us what the views of the French Government are. Of course, the views of the French Government are those of the French paper-makers, because the French Government can have no desire with regard to the Customs' duties on paper but such as is likely to be of advantage to the papermakers of France. Now, the French papermakers, in a memorial to the Minister of Commerce, have stated distinctly that they do not care a straw about the future reduction of the English duty on their paper, but that they are most anxious to maintain the duty on the export of rags. I was therefore quite prepared to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the announcement that the French Government have declared that, so far as they arc concerned, they have no wish whatever that we should commit ourselves to the Resolution proposed by the Government. Then if that is so, there is no longer any question of danger to the French Treaty. But the question does not rest there, because it is most important that the subject should be kept open to see what the French Government will do by another Session. We have been often told that we should remember what the French Emperor is, and with whom he has to deal—that he is a Free-trader, and that he has to deal with those who have not adopted free trade principles, and that it was of importance that we should give him an opportunity to show the Legislative Body the true nature of the English Treaty, and the advantages they would have if they enabled him to carry it out. But if that be so, it is surely of importance that you should give the French Government next Session the same advantages which you have told us were of so much consequence to them this Session—namely, the advantage of going to the Legislative Body and saying to them, "Here is the treaty that conferred so many advantages on you—will you consent now to repeal the prohibition on the exportation of rags?" I maintain, then, that this is a question on which, if the facts alleged by the papermakers be true, there is no room for the application of the principle of free trade. If these facts are denied, they ought to be inquired into. I say, moreover, that the construction of the treat puts the question high and dry beyond any cavil as to its having no bearing on the Customs' duty on paper. I say, further, that that construction of the treaty has been adopted by the French Government; and I say still further, that the House of Commons has been induced to pass the treaty on an assurance that has not yet been fulfilled, and for the fulfilment of which we are bound to wait. I think the Government is not pursuing a wise course in forcing the Committee to a decision on this question at this period of the Session. They have been offered, by a supporter of their own, an alternative, moderate in its terms, and not shutting the door on their proposals, but leaving them over unprejudiced for future discussion. I will not pause to consider what may be the actual motives that induce them to oppose this suggestion; but the Members of the Committee have a duty to perform, and if we fail to perform it, the failure will, I am convinced, rise up hereafter to our discredit and regret. We are appealed to by a trade in this country, not for favour or indulgence, but for justice. The Government have invited us to consider this Resolution; and the first thing they tell us is that the time for consideration is past—that sentence has gone forth—and that it is not possible to recall it. I deny that the time for consideration is past, or that the House of Commons has assented to any such sentence. We are free as air to consider this question on the merits and justice of the case. I say, then, let us adopt the moderate and wise course proposed by the lion. Member for Hertfordshire, and let us not, without reason, without inquiry, arid without consideration, become the agents of a great, an irretrievable, an unnecessary wrong to a manufacture in which millions of capital of this country have been embarked, and on which thousands of its people are dependent


I wish to make an explanation relative to a point raised by the hon. Member for Herts, and which has also been referred to by the hon, and learned Gentleman who has just spoken—who has characterized them as a more authentic declaration of the views of the Government than their own language and despatches—I mean the interpretation that has been put on the Resolutions, of which notice was given in February, from the titles that we attached to those Resolutions. It is not usual to prefix titles to Resolutions at all; but it so happened that for a considerable time before my financial statement was made, and also after it, I was not able to attend the House, and was almost wholly unable to pay attention to business. In those circumstances, the proposals which were about to be made being complex, it was thought that for the convenience of the Members of the House, and to give an indication of what articles were to be dealt with in the treaty, and what were not, the titles of those articles should be set forth. I accordingly gave directions with that view; but it was not in my power to watch minutely and carefully the carrying out of those instructions. The list was, on the whole, given with great accuracy; and with regard to paper, with perfect accuracy. Paper was entered in the Resolutions correctly as "not under the treaty," which, according to the views of the Government, it was not; inasmuch as they were proposing to repeal the Excise duty. But there was an error with regard to hops, and one still more palpable relating to gold and silver plate; which, though coming under the treaty, was entered in the same category with hops. My attention was never called to either of those inaccuracies; nor did I ever pay attention to them, until the discussion was raised on the subject of paper within the last few weeks. But the hon. and learned Gentleman is entirely wrong in stating that it was on the 7th of May that the Government announced their construction of the treaty. [Sir HUGH CAIRNS: I said the 17th.] Then the hon. and learned Gentleman is still more wrong, because it was on the 12th of March—not the 17th of May—that the question was raised in the debate on the paper duties; and that my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, a member of the Cabine declared that it would be our duty, under the treaty, to reduce the Customs duty in any event to the level of the Excise duty. With respect to the answer which the hon. and learned Gentleman states I gave to the hon. Member for Norwich, and which he courteously says I have forgotten; on the contrary, I remember that answer perfectly; and I think it was very correct. The hon. Member asked, on the third reading of the Paper Duties Repeal Bill, whether by passing that measure we should part with our discretionary power with regard to the Customs duty. I answered that we certainly should not part with our discretion in regard to the Customs' duty, whatever that might he; for, so far from parting with that discretion by passing the Bill, we should, in the view of the Government, recover it by that very means.


I doubt not that the President of the Board of Trade made his statement, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, on the 12th of March. If so, it adds to the chapter of wonders something more wonderful still; because I find that it was on the 15th of March that the differential duty on hops was imposed and paraded as a differential duty by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As to the question whether the Government, by repealing the Excise duty on paper, recovered jurisdiction, so to speak, over the amount of the Customs' duty, I own that I hardly bestowed a word upon it; because it seemed to me that to argue that as long as you maintained a farthing of duty in the shape of Excise upon paper, you were bound hand and foot by the treaty to have the Customs' duty at a farthing also; but that if you did away with that farthing of Excise, you could raise your Customs' duty 50 or 100 per cent, would be, with all respect, so puerile and childish a construction, that I really thought nobody in this House would have advanced it.


I entirely recognize the justice of the plaudits so liberally bestowed upon the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast; because a more conspicuous exhibition of forensic abilities I have seldom witnessed. We have had an abundant display of that confidence which often distinguishes the public advocate, but which had probably better have been laid aside in addressing an assembly like the present. My hon. and learned Friend in the course of his speech has indulged in epithets which fortunately we do not often hear in this House. Things have been attributed to my right hon. Friend which have been denominated "ridiculous," "absurd," and I know not by what other courteous appellatives. It would have been very well if the soundness of my hon. and learned Friend's arguments had equalled the strength of his language. If I were disposed to derive my words from his vocabulary I should have ample opportunity of applying them in the comments I am about to make. I cannot, however, but express some surprise" at the hon. and learned Gentleman's introductory sentence, for he was so intent on hostility to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he actually made it a matter of complaint that my right hon. Friend's arguments were ranged under two heads, the one of justice the other of expediency. Now, if there are any topics suitable for a deliberative assembly, any arguments fit to be presented to men of honour, they must be drawn from considerations of justice and considerations of expediency. And if one singular merit more than another characterized the oration of my hon. and learned Friend, it was that he solicited your votes upon grounds that were demonstrated to be based alike on considerations of justice, of public expediency, and of utility. Now, Sir, I do not mean to enter into a gladiatorial contest with my hon. and learned Friend. [A laugh.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to be very glad to hear that they are to have that escape. I hope I shall receive that ordinary courtesy which I am happy to acknowledge has on so many occasions been extended to me from the other side; for I have risen to perform a duty which is a serious one, and which I mean to fulfil with all sincerity and truth to the utmost of my power. I wish to state to this House what I honestly believe to be the true interpretation and effect of the treaty which we are now called upon to consider, and I regard that as the most important subject to which your present deliberations ought to be directed. I know of nothing that would be more painful, or that could excite in the mind of every Gentleman whom I address feelings of a more humiliating character than to have it said that by any degree of ingenuity, any mere special pleading or legislative acumen, he had sought to make his country evade a contract, the terms of which are clear and indisputable to every man of common understanding. I do, therefore, most heartily agree that this treaty is one which every Member of the House of Commons is capable of construing, and all will, I think, admit that it ought to be construed, not upon grounds which are peculiar to lawyers, or which are of a purely technical nature, but on grounds which will hear the test of commonsense and common reason. My hon. and learned Friend has been pleased to fix upon the Government some uncertainty, ambiguity, and contradiction in their views of this treaty. My right hon. Friend has already adverted to the fact that the present interpretation of the treaty was announced by the President of the Board of Trade as long ago as the 12th of March last. And if the Committee will forgive me, I will for a moment call its attention to the language which was then used in order to show the perfect identity between the construction then adopted by the right hon. Gentleman and the interpretation which we now seek to place upon the treaty. The language which I will quote lies in a sentence. It is— You have bound yourselves by one of the Articles of that Treaty to admit foreign paper at I no higher rate of duty than the Excise which shall be levied on the home manufacture. Protection, therefore, for the home manufacture is gone; and the question is whether, being offered the total repeal of the duty, you will now insist on retaining the Excise and admit the foreign paper with no higher duty than is imposed on the l home manufacturers."—[3 Hansard, clvii. 393.] Therefore, if, even from the accident referred to, there was some vacillation in the language held by the Government in regard to hops, there has been no uncertainty as to the interpretation of this part of the treaty announced so early as the 12th of March, and which is the exact construction by which we are now desirous to abide. The treaty is divisible into several parts. I will first refer to the articles which are promised to be admitted into France at a duty of 30 per cent, subject to some subsequent modifications. At the end of the first Article of the Treaty France stipulates, as we also stipulate, that in regard to certain articles the Excise or inland duty shall be added to the amount of the above specified duties. Then follows an Article in regard to fuel, and next comes an enumeration of different French productions which are to be admitted by us duty free. Hon. Gentlemen will find that not one of these productions is subject to an Excise duty in this country. They are all to be admitted duty free; but still at the end of the clause there appear these words:— "subject, however, to such measures of precaution as the protection of the public revenue may require against the introduction of materials liable to Customs or Excise duties in the composition of articles admitted dutyfree." After having provided for that class of goods you come to another class, but the general rule is laid down by the 7th Article. Allow me to remind the Committee of the manner in which the argument of the other side has been conducted. It has been said by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Herts, and repeated by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast, that the 7th Article gives the rule, and that the 8th Article supplies the particular subject-matter to which that rule is to be applied. To that mode of construing the 7th and 8th Articles I oppose the plain in-intelligible meaning of the two Articles, which will, I think, when stated approve itself to the good sense and understanding of the Committee. By the 7th Article the power is given of imposing a rate of duty "upon Customs' articles imported into this country from France equal to the Excise duty which is or shall be imposed upon articles of the same description in the United Kingdom." Now, the subject-matter of that 7th Article is, I submit, all those things that are liable to Excise duty in this country, which arc to be received subject to a Customs' duty equivalent to the Excise duty. It is essential to bear in mind that the 7th Article has these important words, "which is, or shall be imposed," &c. The Committee have heard that there are certain particular articles which it was desirable for the French Government should be exempted from the power of imposing Excise duties given by the 7th Article. Accordingly, the French stipulated that certain merchandise enumerated in the 8th Article should be exempted from the power of increasing the duty which would have remained if these articles had continued within the 7th Article. They first take brandy and spirits; and the Committee will observe that with regard to them a definite and maximum duty is imposed. The only addition is a surtax of 2d. by which the articles were augmented under a supplementary article. Brandy being thus exempted by the operation of the 8th Article from that power of augmenting the duty which is given by the 7th Article, the 8th Article next proceeds to the importation of paperhangings. The Committee will perceive the reason why paperhang ings, being an article about which the French manufacturers are mainly solicitous, should be exempted from the elastic rule which gives the power of augmenting the duty under the 7th Article. Papcrhangings imported from France have their weight greatly augmented by the addition of ornamental substances. The paper is overlaid either with paint, by figures drawn on the paper, or by other fancy ornamentation. The English paper manufacturer has this advantage, that he pays a duty on the paper alone, and his paper before it is manufactured into paperhangings weighs less than paperhangings imported from France. Accordingly, as French paper-hangings weigh a great deal more than the raw material of the English paper manufacturer, and as the duty is assessed per cwt., the duty payable by the French manufacturer is much greater than that paid by the English manufacturer. These circumstances led to the stipulation of the 8th Article with reference to paperhangings. The Committee will see at once that with regard to every one of the things mentioned in the 8th Article there is a particular reason for its exemption from the 7th Article. The argument on the other side has been that the general rule should be qualified by the particular enumeration, and that the 7th Article should be applied only to the commodities enumerated in the 8th. But it is clear, I think, on the contrary, that the things mentioned in the 8th Article are so mentioned for the purpose of taking them out of the enumeration of the 7th, and not for the limitation of that Article. Everything specified in the 8th Article is so specified because it is applicable to the particular rule of exemption; for it was idle to mention them if they were subject to the general rule contained in the 7th Article. Accordingly a maximum of duty payable for paperhangings is fixed by the 8th Article, so that importers may know that they may always bring French paperhangings into the market at a maximum duty, not liable to be augmented by the power of reserve of the English Government under the 7th Article, which otherwise was free and unlimited in its application. The same principle is, by the 8th Article, applied to cardboard, which is to be liable to a maximum duty of 15*. per cwt. So that if it should be thought right to augment the Excise duty upon English cardboard and carry it beyond 15s., we should still be obliged to admit French cardboard at a duty not exceeding 15s. per cwt. This simple statement dispels the ingenious fabric reared upon the arguments we have heard. Instead of the rule being laid down in the 7th, and the subject-matter being detailed in the 8th, both the rule and the subject-matter are all contained in the 7th Article. As to the things recited in the 8th Article, they are for special reasons exempted from the general power reserved to the English Government in the 7th Article. It is commonly observed that an ounce of fact is worth a pound of argument. It is certainly worth a great deal more than a pound of the ingenious personal attacks in which hon. Gentlemen opposite have been so eminently liberal. I will now go on to the other argument, that the 7th Article is an admission of every description of merchandise from France—that everything producible in France may be imported into this country, and that if those Articles are not liable to an Excise duty here they may be introduced duty free. The cases of timber and tobacco have been quoted as coming under this clause, and we have been gravely told that the construction put upon the Article by the Government would lead to the admission of these articles duty free, because there is no Excise duty upon them in this country. I am unaffectedly surprised that such a construction of the article should have been possible.—[Sir HUGH CAIRNS: I did not put that construction upon the article; I merely said that it was a consequence of the construction placed by yourselves upon the treaty.]—I repudiate it. My hon. and learned Friend imagines an interpretation and fastens an ingenious argument upon it. The construction we have always put on the treaty, and to which I adhere, is not suddenly adopted, hut is an interpretation which, if I may venture on such an expression, was put upon the treaty before it was made—namely, that those articles only were to be affected by the 7th Article that were subject to Excise duty in England. The 7th Article is a rule that in the case of all home productions liable to an Excise duty the corresponding articles shall be introduced from France upon the same terms. The only difference is that an addition shall be made to the Excise duty corresponding to the degree of inconvenience and loss sustained from the manner of levying the Excise duty. One simple rule is uniform through the treaty. In the case of nil those home productions not liable to Excise the corresponding commodities are to be admitted free of Customs' duty, and in the case of those liable to Excise duties, they are to be admitted at a duty equal to the Excise duty. Now, I have said that this was the interpretation put on the treaty before it was embodied. If there be one rule of honesty in the interpretation of a contract or treaty between nations, undoubtedly it is this, that you should adhere to the view, the interpretation, and the sense in which you proposed to the other contracting party that the treaty should be worked. Well, now, what says the letter of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on this particular subject? I am told by my lion, and learned Friend that this was a private despatch. A private despatch ! Why, it was written, not only to be communicated to the French Government, but to be laid on the table of the House of Commons, and it has been laid on the table of this House. The rule that was given by my noble Friend for the purpose of framing and introducing the 7th Article is contained in this passage:— To frame an Article by which tier Majesty shall engage to propose to Parliament that the duties of Customs generally on articles imported from France into this country, but which are subject here to duties of Excise, shall be reduced to a rate as nearly as may be equal to that of the duties of Excise, together with a reasonable allowance for the costs, if any, which such duties of Excise may be shown to entail. The interpretation which we are bound in honour, in good faith, in justice to the other contracting party, and in justice to ourselves, to implement is, that this Article refers to those "articles imported from France into this country, but which are subject here to duties of Excise," which" shall be reduced to a rate as nearly as may be equal to that of the duties of Excise." The French considered it desirable that certain exceptions should be made, and the 8th Article may be described as the limitation put by the French in favour of certain particular productions. This is so obvious that, without the aid of any particular inspiration—without the fear of incurring any kind of contradiction or uncertainty, that has been always the meaning put by Her Majesty's Government on this particular Article. I would now advert, only for a few moments, to what my hon. and learned Friend laid some stress upon, namely, the circumstance that there had been an alteration made in the duties affecting spirits. Now, my lion, and learned Friend did not inform the Committee that there was an express power contained in the 9th Article:— It is understood between the two high contracting Powers, that if one of them thinks it necessary to establish an Excise-tax or inland duty upon any article of home production or manufacture which is comprised among the preceding enumerated articles, the foreign imported article of the same description may be immediately liable to an equivalent duty on importation. And that is in entire consistency, also, with the proposition made by my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the same despatch, in which he pointed out that it was the right of this country to reserve to itself the power of making alterations for the purposes of revenue. My noble Friend says, It would be necessary, however, to reserve, with a view to this Article the right of increasing the duty by an equivalent amount in case the domestic duty should be increased; and probably this might best be done by a general provision authorizing either Government to impose on the importations into either of the two countries respectively, notwithstanding the terms of the treaty, any duty not greater in amount than may at any given time be payable on the corresponding article of domestic or colonial production. I have troubled the Committee with these facts, because I am desirous of demonstrating—what is indeed abundantly clear—that the general intention, the instructions given, the articles prepared, and the view entertained of these articles by Her Majesty's Government, have been one, single, consistent, harmonious interpretation, and precisely that which is now submitted to the Committee. But it is said the French Government have manifested an intention or shown a disposition not to press on us the performance of this particular detail, and therefore we ought not to carry it into effect, but permit it to lie over for another time. I should be exceedingly sorry if I found an English House of Commons listening to such an argument. If I owe a gentleman £5,000, and he comes to me and says, "Don't hurry yourself, I will give time for paying it," docs that in the slightest degree relieve me of the obligation I am under to pay? And is it consistent with our honour and our dignity to say that the French, who made this treaty, seeing us unable to carry it into effect, are willing to indulge us, having regard to our weakness, our infirmity, and give us till another time, when we may he more equal to our contract. I should be ashamed of such a course. I am quite sure that is the feeling of the House—nay, I will ventur to say that it must be the feeling of hon. Gentlemen on the other side. If I were to appeal to any that would be most scrupulous about the performance to the very letter of the obligations we had undertaken, I would make that appeal to the Gentlemen I see before me. I cannot, therefore, for a single moment, allow myself to suppose that there is any reliance to be placed on that argument. I am satisfied the House, considering well the obligation, is ready to perform it, not only because it is here written in the treaty, but because they are convinced that it will redound to the benefit of both countries, to ours as well as to theirs. My right hon. Friend did not only argue this question on the ground of expediency, but also of distributive justice; and with a few words on that point I will close these observations. I conceive that we are bound in justice to our countrymen to put an end to that particular monopoly which is now enjoyed by the paper manufacturers. My hon. and learned Friend escaped from the obligation of vindicating the maintenance of that privilege, and wisely, telling us that he does not know the facts, and therefore will not go into the argument. But the House of Commons knows the state of the facts, and that there is not a single other manufacturer or producer in the country indulged with this peculiar privilege; the House of Commons knows, therefore, that the paper manufacturer profits by the advantage he gets by going into the market, and having the result of the labour of every other man furnished to him without his having the aid of a protective duty. Well, but what is distributive justice? Is a legislative body bound by such considerations? I say not only does your contract, with the obligations contained in it, not only considerations of general expediency, but justice to the rest of the manufacturers and the great body of the consumers of this country, require that you at once put an end to this unjust, this peculiar privilege which exists only for the benefit of the paper manufacturers.


said he hoped to receive the indulgence of the Committee while he stated in a few brief sentences some of the reasons why he should not to-night give his vote in favour of the propositions of Her Majesty's Government. He confessed he did not sympathize with those who were actuated by political hostility to the Mover of these Resolutions; he had uniformly supported the right hon. Gentleman's po- licy; he admired his talents, and respected his honour and reputation. But the right hon. Gentleman placed the issue of this question on the assumption that he was proceeding in the direction in which the legislation of the country had of late proceeded in its commercial policy; that the free-trade policy which was inaugurated some twenty-five years ago was to receive its consummation to-night, and that the last rag of protection was to be yielded up if Government were enabled to carry the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman. It required no little courage in a private Member, more accustomed to silence than to speech, to enter into a conflict with so accomplished an orator as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He ventured, however, to say that the proposition before them was not based on the principles of free trade as inaugurated by Sir Robert Peel, but in direct contravention of them. In 1842 that able statesman laid it down as a principle that we should encourage the manufacturers of England by relaxing the duties on raw materials, and by continuing, though in a modified form, the duties on manufactured articles. Of the 1,200 articles he brought under review on that occasion, as to 800 of them, which formed the staple commodities of the manufacturers of this country, Sir Robert Peel proposed to retain only a nominal duty for statistical purposes; while on the other hand, on partially manufactured articles, he imposed a duty not exceeding 12 per cent, and on wholly manufactured articles 20 per cent. The Government proposition, however, was exactly the reverse. While the export of the raw material from foreign countries was checked by heavy duties, if not entirely prohibited, it was now proposed to welcome the produce of those countries to the markets of England, and to reduce the impost so as to bring it into ruinous competition with the home manufacture. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that rags were dearer in France than in England. But this was proved not to be so; for immediately after the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs announced that the prohibition was about to be removed from the export of rags in France, an eminent firm of papermakers in Scotland purchased a large quantity of rags in France at a much cheaper rate than they could obtain them at home. They were, however, compelled to dispose of them again at a loss in the French market, when it was made known that, after all, the prohibition was to be retained. Was it just or reasonable to our manufacturers, who were debarred from procuring raw material from foreign nations, to allow the foreign manufactured article to enter our markets at a reduced duty and to compete with home produce, which was thus placed at a disadvantage? He appealed to the Committee on behalf of a trade which had undergone in the course of six months many vicissitudes, and was now in a state of unexampled depression. They were first told that there was to be a total repeal of the Excise duty, and now not only was that decision reversed, but they were exposed to a most unequal competition. All he asked for them was a free stage and no favour. He did not ask that the paper manufacturers of Great Britain should be protected. He repudiated the idea of claiming protection for them; all be desired was that they should have justice, that no advantage should be given to the foreign producer in competing with them. Let the foreign stores of the raw material be thrown open to the British manufacturer, and then subject him to competition with the world; if in enterprise, talent, or industry, he was not equal to his rivals, then let him bear the loss. It had been said that we ought to take the initiative in the matter, reducing our duties and leaving foreign nations to imitate our example. But what temptation had we to pursue that course? As soon as the proposed relaxation of our Customs' duties was announced, the question which was agitated among the States of the Continent was, not whether they should follow in our steps, but to what extent they should raise the export duty on the raw material. When negotiations were going on for the removal of the French prohibition on the export of rags, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delayed the discussion on the paper duty, thus admitting that the free supply of the raw material formed an important element in the question. Sir Robert Peel pronounced it unwise to diminish the hopes of satisfactorily arranging questions of this kind by the rash reduction of duties on articles which must form the subject of negotiation. The Customs' duty on paper was one of those questions which must form the subject of negotiation; and he condemned as rash, unreasonable, and unjust, the reduction of the duty while the supply of the raw material was still prohibited by France and other foreign States. He ventured, unhesitat- ingly, to say that the l\d. was not in any sense commensurate with the disadvantages under which the English manufacturer would suffer. If he were more fully satisfied that the national honour was involved in carrying out the proposal made by the Government, in order to give due effect to the legitimate stipulations of the treaty, then he should be prepared to support the Resolution; but after studying the treaty, and giving his most anxious thought to it, he was inclined to the opinion that paper was not included in the Commercial Treaty; and perceiving that by Article 21 of the treaty the high contracting Powers reserved to themselves the right to introduce into the treaty any modification which was not opposed to its principles, and the utility of which should be shown by experience—he could not consent to adopt the course to which they were now asked to assent. It would, he might add, be found impossible to stimulate the production of rags for the use of the paper manufacturer in this country, because the other nations of Europe, having regard to their own interests, would impose restrictions on the export of that commodity. On those grounds then, and because he did not wish to see a useful branch of industry destroyed, he should vote against the Resolution.


Sir, I wish to say a very few words on this occasion. I listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General, with a view to ascertain how he would meet, or whether he would meet at all, the main arguments advanced by my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns);—for this is a question on which the House would very naturally look for instruction to two men so eminent in their profession. I regret, however, to have to say that the chief portion of my hon. and learned Friend's argument has been left wholly unnoticed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who followed in the path of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and maintained that the 8th Article embraced exceptions—or exemptions, I think he termed them—from the 7th Article; neither he nor his colleague informing us how that construction could be shown to be consistent with the words," in accordance with the preceding Article," with which words the 8th Article commences. It would ill become me to touch further on that part of the question; but being one of those persons who put much greater faith in what men do, than in what they say, I would ask to be allowed to refer for a moment to the article of hops. The Government here have not only acted themselves, hut have induced the House to act, in reference to this particular article, to which the Attorney General did not venture to allude; for although he invited our particular attention to the instructions, and what was done under those instructions, he avoided dealing with facts. It is, nevertheless, an unmistaken able fact that the Government have called upon the House to assent to the imposition of a differential duty on hops—the article of hops being an excisable article. I want to know how that is to he met or got over. A great deal, indeed, has been said about the Resolutions with reference to hops having been laid on the table somewhat incautiously; hut it should he borne in mind that amended Resolutions on the subject were afterwards laid on the table, when the first half had been passed; and it was the amended Resolutions that contained the matter of hops. The amended Resolutions also embraced the not unimportant article of malt; which was not mentioned by the Government as coming under the provisions of the treaty; still malt, as we know to our cost, bears a very heavy Excise duty. This Resolution did not state malt to be "under the treaty;" but it abolished the prohibition; and the Committee voted a duty of 25s. Now, if the 7th Article is to be construed in the general way in which the Government say they understand it, malt would, I conceive, come under its operation; and a sum of upwards of £5,000,000 derivable from that source, is not so trifling a matter that mere inadvertence can in its case be, with any degree of plausibility, pleaded. The question of malt is not like that of hops, which the right hon. Gentleman told us was a matter of little consequence. Now the hon. and learned Attorney General, looking very hard at those who occupy these benches, said he felt assured we, at all events, would do everything which was consistent with honour; or something of that sort. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in saying so, paid us, I must admit, a great compliment; but at whose expense it was paid, I shall not stop to inquire. Now, there is a rule observed in courts of justice, which is that when a witness gives two accounts of a transaction—the one immediately after, and the other not for a considerable time after the transaction has taken place, a greater amount of reliance ought, in a general way, to he placed on the first statement. Let us try the proceedings of the Government with respect to the treaty on that principle. That instrument was just negotiated, its provisions were fresh in their minds, the ink upon it had not yet dried; and they made a specific statement that certain things were enumerated in the treaty, and that some other things were not. Persons sometimes talk of appealing from Philip drunk to Philip sober. For my part, I prefer the opinion of Gentlemen when they have just done an act, to what they give us now five or six months afterwards. I cannot understand why the Government made this House pass the hop question, putting a differential duty on that, if the 7th Article had the application which they now contend for. I have not heard the Attorney General attempt to give an answer on that point. Having in the early part of the Session voted that one product was not under the 7th Article, they now ask us, later on, to take the inconsistent step of voting that everything comes under the same Article. I think that is placing the House of Commons in a position which no Government has a right to ask it to assume; and I cannot see anything in the treaty which would compel the House to adopt any such proposal. This treaty is so obscurely worded, that it is impossible to say, with any certainty, whether it is really intended to express what any man may say it means; but I confess I lean to the opinion of my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Belfast, that it is impossible to argue upon the terms of the treaty that these articles are either exceptions or exemptions. I cannot understand an exemption being in accordance with the version of the treaty before vouchsafed to us. As to the question whether these duties ought to be continued or not, assuming that we have the power to decide that point, without going into the question of free trade, or any other trade, I think the unfortunate paper manufacturers have been so bandied about from pillar to post in this Session of Parliament—they must have suffered such great inconvenience—that, if there be not a necessity—which, to my mind, has not been made clear—this hardship ought not at the present time to be put upon them. If the Excise duty had been altogether removed from paper, the case would have been totally different, and would have stood on another footing. But it is impossible for anybody not to see that the persons engaged in that manufacture must have been placed in a very serious position of disadvantage by the circumstances of the last five months. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Hertfordshire, which declares that it is not at present advisable to make the alteration proposed in the Customs' duty on paper, is therefore, I think, a wise one; and I shall accordingly give my vote in its favour.


The hon. and learned Member for Belfast, at the commencement of his speech, made an extraordinary attack on the statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said that as he had argued that this proposal was in accordance with the provisions of the treaty, and as he had also argued that it was conformable to the legislation which the House had carried out for years in relation to trade, that my right hon. Friend was therefore conscious of a defect. That appears to me an extraordinary mode of dealing with an argument. If my right hon. Friend had said, "this is an article of the treaty with which you are bound to comply, but I must admit that it cannot be carried into effect without some machinery," that might have been a defective argument; if he had said I am going to propose to you what is advantageous for the country, but is not quite within the scope of the treaty, that again might have been a defective argument. But because my right hon. Friend says, "I will show you that my proposition is exactly conformable to the treaty, and that it is at the same time in accordance with all sound policy," for that reason the hon. and learned Gentleman says my right hon. Friend's argument is defective. I was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast say that this part of the question was not one entirely for lawyers, and that ho thought the Members of this House, if they adopted a plain interpretation, must perfectly understand the ease. I take advantage of that admission of the hon. and learned Gentleman to make some comments on his interpretation of the treaty. And let me say that I think, if you have a treaty with another Power, and if you find that by some refinement, by a very subtle mode of argument, you may deprive that party with whom you contract of an advantage, though a plain interpretation will give him that advantage, you are not justified in deserting the main principle of the engagement and resorting to those subtle and refined arguments. The question really begins with Article 7 of the treaty. But the hon. and learned Gentleman for a long time avoided Article 7. He went in some detail and at considerable length into Article 8, and then having got the Committee entangled in all the provisions of that Article, he referred to Article 7, and went cursorily over its provisions as if it were a minor Article. And ho resorted to this extraordinary mode of interpretation—he said either Article 8 contains the whole meaning of Article 7, and you cannot go beyond any one of the items in Article 8, or else you are bound to admit without any duty at all articles which are subject to its exemption. Why, both these interpretations are extreme in their operation. They are founded, I admit, on a very subtle argument—they are founded on a most refined and scholastic mode of deducing interpretations—but they are not founded on the plain meaning of the Article. I must beg the attention of the House to the few words at the beginning of Article 7, which seem to the to contain the whole meaning of the point now in discussion. Article 7 says:— Her Britannic Majesty promises to recommend to Parliament to admit into the United Kingdom merchandise imported from France at ft rate of duty equal to the Excise duty which is or shall ho imposed upon articles of the same description in the United Kingdom. I infer from that Article, according to what appears to mo the common-sense interpretation, that where an article subject to Excise is introduced from France you are to have a Customs' duty which shall be equal to 0that Excise. The Article, you may say, might have been better worded than it is, but it is quite obvious that is the meaning to be attached to it. Article 8 gives various instances in which Article 7 is to be applied. It says in the first part, "In accordance with the preceding Article Her Britannic Majesty undertakes to recommend to Parliament the admission into the United Kingdom of brandies and spirits imported from France," and then it goes on, not saying, "in accordance with the preceding Article," but "Her Britannic Majesty likewise engages with respect to rum and tafia," and with regard to paper-hangings. These are obviously instances in which the negotiators found they could apply a specific duty. They measured exactly what the Excise duty was; they took a certain sum which was equivalent to that, and they applied Article 7 to those products. But they did not say, nor is it made to appear either by Article 7 or Article 8, that these were the only articles of merchandise to which the provisions would apply. Article 7 lays down the general principle, and Article 8 gives some instances of its application, and leaves the two countries to settle the remainder. The hon. and learned Gentleman says truly that I stated, and that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade stated, that the French Government meant to propose to the Legislative Body the removal of the prohibition of the export of rags. The bon. and learned Gentleman and the last Gentleman but one who has spoken (Mr. Norris) argue that it is not right at present to diminish this duty, because the French Government has not completed what it promised by the removal of this prohibition. But there is this material distinction to be borne in mind; the one is an Article contained in the treaty, and matter of engagement between the two countries, whereas the removal of the prohibition as to rags was never agreed upon between the two Governments; it did not depend even on an exchange of notes, but originated in a declaration by the French Government to Her Majesty's Ambassador. It appears that the measure could not be carried out without the consent of the Legislative Body. The French Government found the Legislative Body were not likely to agree to that proposition, and they were therefore unable to carry their intentions into effect. But there is all the difference in the world between saying you will set at nought the obligations of a treaty and saying that you cannot comply with what is desired by another country. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposes that we should set at nought the obligations of the treaty because the French Government has not done what it voluntarily proposed. We cannot think it right that these obligations should be got rid of by a quibble of this sort. You have nothing to do but to put forward some quibble—to say that a foreign Government proposed to do something, and, because they have not done what they proposed to do, therefore you are set free from your engagements. Then comes the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley), and he mentions an instance on which the hon. and learned Gentleman lays considerable stress, with regard to the duty which was laid upon hops. I have no doubt he represented it as a permanently differential duty on hops, with a view to maintain a protection to native industry. [Sir HUGH CAIRNS: No!] The hop interest represented that they ought to have sometime in order to enable them to compete with that duty, which is exactly equivalent to the Excise duty. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to put on for a certain time an additional duty which is then to cease, and at a time which is named in the Resolution the duty will be exactly the equivalent of the Excise duty. At that time the promise of the treaty will be fully complied with. But does the hon. Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller) propose to comply with the treaty? He says this is not a fit time to do it. He does not say that any other time is a fit time to do it. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer says with regard to hops that for certain reasons it cannot be done immediately, but that it shall be done at a certain time. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire says this is not the time; but he will not tell you what the time is; he says, "We will not comply with the treaty until the French have done something which is not in the treaty," and therefore he would elude for ever the obligations of the treaty until the French do something which is not contained in the treaty, and to which they are in no way bound. If he had proposed 2s. a cwt. to be diminished next January by 1s., and next July by another 1s., I might have thought it a very unwise proposition for the papermakers, but I should not then have said that his proposition was in contravention of the treaty. But when he proposes an indefinite Resolution not to do it now, and does not say when he will do it, it must he construed by everybody in France and throughout Europe as a declaration on the part of the House of Commons that they will not declare boldly that they will not comply with the treaty, but by evasion, by a Resolution pretending that it may be done at some future time, get rid of the obligation into which they have entered. The French Government said most handsomely that they did not press for the immediate execution of this Article, and therefore it was a question not merely of faith but of policy what the Government should propose to the House of Commons. The hon. Member for Abingdon, and, I think, the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, say that the papermakers have been very much vexed and worried for some months, that their interests have been placed in jeopardy, and that it is fit that their fate should be decided. That is exactly what Her Majesty's Government thought upon the subject; but will anyone say that it will be decided if the Resolution of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire is carried? It is an invitation to renew the subject next February, and if it does not succeed, to renew it in April; and if it does not succeed then, to bring it on again in June and July. In fact, these unfortunate papermakers will never be free from alarm and jeopardy if the Resolution is carried. With regard to the arguments which have been used with respect to the policy, they seem to me exactly the same arguments which now for a great number of years I have heard repeated in this House, showing always that free trade was an excellent thing, but that the particular interest it was proposed to touch was an exception to all rules of free trade, and ought to be left alone. I remember, when these questions were first debated by a Minister in this House, not twenty, but nearly forty years ago, when Mr. Huskis-son proposed to take away the prohibition on the importation of silk—and could not more be said against taking off duties on silk than can be said with regard to this question of rags?—it was argued very naturally, "How can you admit silk goods at a low duty, or even at a duty of 30 per cent, when it is not a product of this country, when a duty of 2s. 6d.per 1b. is laid on spun silk, and when you have to contend with France and Italy, with whom the production is native?" But not only were they admitted, but from that moment the silk manufacture began to flourish, and the exports of silk rose in a few years from £200.000 or £300,000 to something like £2,000,000, by the encouragement which free trade and competition always give to every industry. Then there was the great question of the corn duties. Arguments were used that corn should be an exception; and they were of great plausibility, because it was said it would be placing the food of the people at the hazard of commerce with foreign nations. Still the repeal of the duties was carried. The Navigation Laws were also said to be necessary—it was said that the men who ploughed the land and the men who ploughed the sea, ought to have protection; and the great and venerable authority of Adam Smith was quoted to prove that the shipping interest could not stand under the competition of free trade. These were not questions of £6,000,000—the agriculture and navigation of this country represented much nearer £200,000,000; but the House of Commons bad the wisdom, after long deliberation, to expose both commerce and seamen to free competition on equal terms with foreign nations, and we all know that competition has resulted, not only in the increased riches of the nation, but in the prosperity of the trade which was thought to be the most threatened with ruin. Is it not far too much, that at the end of this period of legislation there should he, with respect to this interest of paper, the same predictions that machinery will be taken abroad, that the men will go abroad, and that there will be no papermaking in this country, and that, at the end of forty years since Mr. Huskisson first proposed these changes, the House of Commons should be frightened by such hobgoblins as these—that papermakers cannot stand a competition, and that they must alone of all interests be protected by special laws and extreme imposts. An hon. Gentleman who spoke early in the debate gave valuable information on this subject which ought to diminish the fears of the papermakers. I shall not argue the question upon the right of the people to have cheaper and better paper from abroad, if they can get it; but I will just refer to a third market, where the French have all the advantage of their protective system. They prohibit the exportation of rags. We are told that rags are cheaper in France, and that by virtue of this admirable system of prohibition, which we have long ago forsworn, they can undersell us. What do we find in Canada? £78,000 of paper are annually introduced into Canada, and of that quantity £50,000 are British, £10,000 come from the United States, and about £1,800 come from France. And so in India; £300,000 are introduced into India, and £207,000 are British. In India and in Canada the British papermaker meets the French manufacturer, whose interest is fostered and fondled by artificial management—meets him successfully, and beats him out of the market. If that is the case in a third market, no doubt it will be the case in England. Rely upon it there will be improvements in the manufacture of paper. Men who cease to have a monopoly always apply more skill to the manufacture; they improve, and become more able to compete with neighbouring nations than before. And it will be the same with the paper manufacturers as it has been with the farmers, the sailors, and manufacturers of other merchandise. Do not think that you will suffer by these things. If you were to go into the nice and intricate calculations of what every country does with regard to particular articles, and to regulate your tariff according to the amount of protection which is enacted by other countries, I will venture to say that, so far from free trade being the general rule of your policy, you would hardly find a single article of your tariff to which it would apply. I ask this House, therefore, on the ground of the obligations of the treaty, which I think is proved by the plain and simple reading of the Article I have quoted to the House, and on the ground of wisdom and policy, not to give to the world the discreditable spectacle of endeavouring to avoid and run away from your engagements. I ask you to rely on that great principle which for so many years has increased the wealth and stimulated the commerce of the country, and which is as likely to be as beneficial in this instance as in all others which have gone before, and to abandon all thoughts of resorting to the system of protection and prohibition as a means by which this country can be benefited.


Sir, the Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this question and the Amendments to that Motion have now for a considerable period assumed so many different shapes that I confess I feel—what I have no doubt Gentlemen on both sides of the House feel—some perplexity in addressing myself to the question. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the question to the House to-night has made a very able panegyric on the advantages of what is called free trade. I shall commence the few observations which I shall offer to the House by at once clearing the subject from all that surplusage which, brilliant as it was, was equally unnecessary. I do not conceive that any question of the kind is now under consideration. Indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech seemed to me framed and fashioned by anticipation to answer another Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, which for a considerable period I saw on the table of the House—an Amendment that probably would not have given rise to a controversy so interesting and so important as the present, which, considering all the circumstances and the period of the Session, must be to most Gentlemen un- expected, and which I believe to be unnecessary. The right hon. Gentleman, as I said, has dilated on the met its of the system of free trade, which he thinks is impugned by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Herts. Concluding, as I do, that the principle of unrestricted competition was accepted by this House eight years ago, I do not think it at all necessary either to agree with or differ from the arguments and observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon a subject which does not appear to me to be under consideration. I conclude that those who adopt the principle of unrestricted competition as the principle of our commercial system are also of opinion that that principle should be applied with discretion and prudence; that those who apply the principle to a trade should at least have a full knowledge of the subject, and should be duly acquainted with all the circumstances and incidents of the particular trade; that they should give a general and mature consideration to them when they come to an arrangement, and adjust it according to any exceptional circumstances which may exist. That I take for granted is an opinion which the majority of this House will sanction as a temperate and practical mode of dealing with the subject. I know there is another school of economists who take a more ex travagant view of the operation of unrestricted competition, and of the manner in which the principle should he applied. These Gentlemen tell us that we are not to consider what are called exceptional cir cumstances, and as we have been told tonight by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that we are not in any way to regulate our conduct by the conduct of foreign Governments. I do not go so far as flint opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am emboldened in that because I have here an opinion expressed in language much more able than any I could command which exactly describes what I think. The eloquent speaker who made these observations was denouncing what he called The chivalry of free trade, which is degraded if it becomes a matter of bargain, whereas it appears to me (said this eloquent speaker) that a bargain is really the true end and aim of the whole, and the only reason why we have not made a bargain similar to the present in former years was simply that we could not. When I remind the House that these were the sentiments and expressions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they must he somewhat surprised that he should have laid down to-night, in terms so unrestricted, the principle that we were not to consider in any way the policy and legislation of other countries upon revenue and commerce. But, it will be said, this is a speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer a great many years ago, when probably the right hon. Gentleman was a stout Protectionist, when he was an advocate of that sugar trade, on the sufferings and merits of which he dilated with an eloquence not surpassed by that which we have heard to-night. Quite the reverse. It is the speech of an avowed Free-trader, not only a Member of this House, hut in an official position—it is a quotation from the Budget speech of this year. How he can reconcile the opinion which he has given to-night upon the in-advisability of this House regulating its duties on trade by any reference to the regulations of foreign countries with the sentiments so clearly and forcibly expressed which I have just referred to, in vindication of the policy of a commercial treaty, and therefore of reciprocal legislation in matters of commerce, it is not in my power to explain. We have before us to-night the question of the trade of paper. At the commencement of the year a variety of measures affecting the trade and commerce of the country were laid on the table, and recommended to the notice of Parliament by Her Majesty's Government. Some were avowedly in consequence of the Treaty of Commerce which was negotiated and ratified; others were avowedly irrespective and independent of that treaty. The case of the trade in question to-night was avowedly independent and irrespective of the Treaty of Commerce, so far as the papers laid on the table could guide us. And though I listened to-night to the explanation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the attention which it deserved, yet having listened to it, and remembering that after the right hon. Gentleman recovered from that illness which we all deplored, this list still reappeared on the that I still think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer can scarcely find fault with the House, if for a considerable period, even up to this evening, they were under the impression that the question of the paper duty was to be dealt with irrespective of the Treaty of Commerce, whatever may have been the intentions of the Government with regard to those two lists of articles which they had to deal with, partly under the treaty and partly independent of the treaty, there could be no doubt on this question of the paper duty, that it was dealt with irrespective of the treaty. The right hon. Gentleman himself brought forward a proposal with respect to the manufacture of paper certainly independent of the Treaty of Commerce, which was a very clear and a very intelligible proposal. If it were the intention of the Government to cheapen paper or to stimulate the trade I have no hesitation in saying that they could not introduce a more beneficial proposition than the repeal of the Excise duties on paper. But there are other more important objects, other public interests still higher than cheapening paper and stimulating trade. After long discussion and protracted debates Parliament was of opinion that the measure of the Government for the repeal of the Excise duty on paper was not expedient in the state of the finances of the country—an opinion of which I may say, in passing, subsequent events have shown the wisdom as far as the financial question is concerned, and I do not wish to introduce any question of controversy on other matters. The measure, therefore, did not pass. That plan of the Government having failed, what was the state of this particular trade? Was it one which had never been revised or reformed? Was it one the regulations of which had been invented at a period preceding that when the House accepted unrestricted competition as the general rule of our commercial system? The Government having failed in the mode in which they intended to deal with this trade—a made which I am willing to admit must have benefited the trade had the finances of the country permitted the adoption of it—had they then to deal with a branch of trade which had not been subjected to the action of the new commercial principles which, during the last quarter of a century, and particularly during the last ten years, have been so generally applied? Quite the reverse. The Customs' duty on paper was dealt with on a very memorable occasion, when great commercial reforms were introduced, when various branches of our industry were subjected to a scrutinizing examination, and when an adjustment was made in deference to, and in harmony with those commercial principles which are now universally accepted. Who was the Minister under whose advice and by whose counsel that critical examination took place, which end- ed in a great reduction of duty, and in the adjustment of the charge as it exists at present? It happened to be the same Minister who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer, and responsible for the management of the finances of the country. I say, therefore, that the Government, having failed in their policy with respect to the manufacture of paper, cannot tell us that it is now necessary upon that ground to consider the position of a trade the state of which is disgraceful, and not in accordance with the principles which generally regulate our commerce, because only a few years since they examined the condition of this very branch of industry, and adjusted it to the principles which the House has adopted and sanctioned. Such being the case—the Government at the commencement of the Session having failed in their policy with regard to the manufacture of paper, and the trade being left in a condition which they themselves adjusted only a few years ago—it seems to me very extraordinary that upon the 6th of August, at the end of the Session, we should be called upon to examine anew the position of this particular branch of industry, that the paper manufacturers should have their condition suddenly brought before the notice of a jaded House of Commons, and that, to the surprise of every one, a great Parliamentary debate and struggle should now be taking place upon the position of a trade which has already occupied a great deal of our attention in the present Session; which has already been reformed according to the new principles of our commercial system, and which is now again brought under our consideration, when everybody is complaining of the pressure of public business, and when Ministers themselves say it is almost impossible to carry the most necessary measures. What is the cause of this strange proceeding? It is that we are supposed to be bound to act thus under and by virtue of the Commercial Treaty with France. It is not because it is expedient in the present state of the paper manufacture that we should interfere; but, whatever may be the state of the trade, it is incumbent upon us to interfere in consequence of an engagement we have entered into with a foreign Power. The question naturally arises have we entered into such an engagement? Are we quite clear that there is such a stipulation in the treaty? Surely all will agree that with respect to a matter of so much importance, it is highly to be desired that public documents should be drawn up in language so clear and precise that there really could be no doubt upon it; but I think all will likewise agree that such is not the case in the present instance. All will admit, whatever may be their opinions, that it is much to be regretted that the matter is left in such perfect doubt that contrary opinions are advocated by persons of equal authority. I have listened to the discussion upon the question of our engagements under the French Treaty; but it appears to me, after having heard the rival expositions, and listening to all opinions with the respect that ought to characterize one who seeks information, that the argument of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast has not even been touched. The most remarkable observation which has been made on the subject is that which has just been advanced by the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, who of all others should be careful in the exposition of a public treaty; for the noble Lord, when he dwelt upon the 7th Article, which says that all foreign merchandise is to be admitted on paying a duty equal to the Excise, feeling that it was impossible to vindicate the conduct-of the Government with respect to hops—that subject on which, according to the Attorney General, there was so much unfortunate vacillation—found fault with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, which he said was too vague, and did not point to any ultimate result. If you had only proposed, he said, that the duty should fall 1s. a year, as it did in the case of hops, I could have understood your proposition; but your Amendment is too vague to receive my approval. But the suggestion of the noble Lord is one which is a violation of the treaty. It is just as much a violation of the treaty as the Resolution respecting hops. If you once admit that you may conduct yourselves under the French Treaty as the Government has conducted itself on the article of hops, and as the noble Lord says the Government was prepared to conduct itself with respect to the article of paper—if you are to settle what time is to elapse before a certain result is to be consummated, and by what degrees and instalments certain duties are to be reduced—


I did not say the Government were prepared to adopt that course. What I said was that the hon. Member for Hertfordshire might have proposed it.


And you said it would not be inconsistent with the treaty. I maintain that the course suggested by the noble Lord, if adopted, would be as emphatic a violation of the treaty, according to the construction put upon it on the other side, as any proposition made during this debate. I cannot, therefore, as far as I can form an opinion on the subject, understand how the Government can establish their position that we are bound by the treaty to adopt their Resolutions on the paper duty. No Minister who has spoken has offered any vindication of the course they have taken with respect to hops. Every one will admit that that course is a violation of the treaty. If it is not, then Ministers have been most unfortunate in their speeches, because they have not vindicated themselves from that charge. But, after all, what is this treaty of which we have heard so much? The circumstances of this treaty are most remarkable. One would suppose from the language of the noble Lord that the hon. Member for Hertfordshire was proposing to violate a clear engagement which the country had entered into under some completed public instrument; but I find, when I look at the paper, nothing of the kind. I find a Treaty of Commerce negotiated and ratified, but I find it is to be followed by a supplementary treaty or convention, which is, in fact, to regulate almost all the details of the scheme; and I find that a specific time is allowed for the completion of that supplementary treaty. That period terminated on the 1st of July; but when the 1st of July arrives, no supplementary treaty appears. Instead of a supplementary treaty, I find a new agreement between the English and French Governments, by which, instead of a single convention distinguishing the specific duties to be paid upon British manufactures imported into France, three separate conventions are to be successively concluded; and I find further that the time for negotiating these three conventions is estended to the 1st of November. What security have we that on the 1st of November these three conventions will have been concluded? You have taken five or six months to negotiate a supplementary treaty; you have not negotiated it, and now you propose that three conventions shall be negotiated in the space of three months—three conventions, moreover, which will include some of the most important articles contained in the original treaty. The common opinion is that at the end of November you will only have partially advanced towards the consummation of your object. The House will see, therefore, that we are not proposing in any way to violate a complete agreement between two countries. This is, in fact, an incomplete negotiation, and there is nothing unreasonable, dangerous, or unjust in our suggesting to the Government that it is quite unnecessary to arrive precipitately at any resolution on the subject of the paper duties after the country has been so greatly disappointed with respect to the raw material of that fabric. On the contrary, it is wise and expedient that we should avail ourselves of the same time that the French Government are availing themselves of, and that during the period which must elapse before the three conventions are concluded we should endeavour to arrive at a fair adjustment of this question, and regulate a trade which does not shrink from fair competition, but which, by the Resolution, will be placed at a disadvantage in comparison with the manufactures of foreign countries. Is there anything unreasonable in the Motion of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire? All that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire proposes is merely that the Government should not call on the House to-night to decide a question which may be postponed, as the questions respecting bar and pig iron, and all the other heads in these conventions to which I have referred, have been postponed by the French Government. Under these circumstances, it appears to me, not only is the Amendment not unreasonable, but it points out a course which I think it would be wise on the part of the Government to adopt. If the Committee had been asked to come to a conclusion at variance with those commercial principles now generally adopted, I could understand that high-flown speech made by the noble Secretary of State. But the speeches of the noble Lord and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer totally avoid the real merits of the question involved in the Amendment, which are moderate in their character, and which recommend themselves to all men of temperate opinions. Just for a moment, let the Government recall the great disappointment which the country naturally experienced in respect to the manner in which this treaty was negotiated, and the length of time which has passed without those expectations being fulfilled on which the country counted. I do not wish to depreciate the Commercial Treaty with Frame, and I have no doubt that the difficulties of the negotiators were very considerable; but, at the same time, expectations were held out by the Government to the country with respect to the mode and the time in which that treaty would be negotiated, and the advantages that would accrue from its completion, which expectations have not been fulfilled. This has been necessarily a source of great disappointment. The noble Lord, in his instructions, made very great concessions at once with respect to the duties on brandy to the French Government, and with great frankness expressed his reasons why the Government did not desire to avail themselves of the delay proposed by the French Government in the reduction of certain duties. The noble Lord said he was prepared to recommend some reduction of duty to take place instantly, for that it was important that something should be done as soon as possible to satisfy the public of this country. Well, nothing has been done up to the present moment, and no explanation has been given: and it appears to me that under these circumstances it is not surprising that a particular trade, astonished now to find itself described as in a state of absolute protection—although the principles on which it is carried on were revised only within a few years by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—calls on the Government to hesitate before they conclude the arrangement which has been intimated to the House, and in order that time may be given to the French Government to carry out the measures they had promised. It is well for the noble Lord to say that the question is only that of the reduction of the duty upon the raw material of the paper manufacture. With respect to the prohibition on the export of the raw material from France, the question is, did the Government make a public announcement on the subject which affected the conduct of this House? Everybody remembers that, when the commercial treaty was first brought under our notice, of the various articles on which there existed particular jealousy and alarm paper soon became one, and all recollect the intense satisfaction with which was heard the announcement, twice made by the Government, that France had assented to reduce the duty on the export of the raw material of that manufacture. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that this trade should under the circumstances call on the Government to exhibit some zeal in their favour, and to exert themselves to obtain a boon necessary to the profitable exercise of the trade, sanctioned by the soundest principles of commerce, and more than once voluntarily announced by the Government as likely to be secured. Therefore, I still hope that the First Minister will, instead of taking the exaggerated views of this subject which the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have taken, feel that it is a question on which the Government may fairly interpose, and, without violating the engagements of the country under the treaty, may gain much by not precipitating a decision of the House on this subject, and by accepting in its spirit the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire. The noble Lord, between this and the next meeting of Parliament, may use the influence he possesses with the French Government in order to obtain the result really sought for by the Amendment. I would prefer such a course of proceeding rather than that we should on the 6th of August have a division of the House and a great party struggle for an object which, in itself, is not comparatively speaking of first-rate importance. No; it is not like the Constitution of the country; though it is the legitimate interest of a thriving trade, still subjected to all the disadvantages of an Excise duty. When we know that the French Government, with great honour and in the spirit of conciliation expressed a willingness not to press us to come to any arrangement on this subject, but to defer the matter until they were able to carry out the engagements which, on their part they are desirous of fulfilling, but which still remain unfulfilled, I wish the noble Lord, avoiding to force the House to a division at the present moment, would accept the proposition of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire. We shall then have the satisfaction of feeling that, when the paper trade is called upon to enter into the competition which is supposed to be entailed by this treaty with France, it will do so with all those advantages to which I believe it is really entitled. If the noble Lord will not do that, the only course I can take is to support the temperate and well-considered Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire.


I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman in believing that a division upon this question is not necessary, and I think hon. Members opposite would do well to avoid it. The right hon. Gentleman has urged me not to adopt unnecessary and exaggerated opinions. Now, undoubtedly, if I had any disposition to adopt such opinions, the course which the debate has taken on the other side of the House would warn me not to do so. The opinions expressed by hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to me not only unnecessary and exaggerated, but inconsistent with their former declarations. The question before the House is whether we shall fulfil the conditions of a treaty concluded with a foreign Power, and whether we shall pursue in this matter the principle of free trade which has been deliberately adopted by all parties in the House. I am not surprised that learned Gentlemen should endeavour to argue away the obligation of the 7th Article, because they are in the habit of refining arguments, splitting hairs, and finding difficulties where other people find none; but I am surprised that unlearned men, who look at matters with plain common sense, and interpret words according to their ordinary meaning—who consider engagements according to the spirit as well as the letter—should entertain any doubt as to the obligation of this 7th Article. Surely, nothing can be plainer. It is there stated that the duty upon merchandise coming from France shall not exceed the Excise duty which may be levied in this country upon articles of the same kind manufactured here. What can be more simple, intelligible, and precise than that engagement? But then it is said that paper was not originally supposed to be included in the provisions of the treaty. Well, my right hon. Friend and my noble Friend have explained clearly how this happened—namely, that it was then anticipated that the Excise duty on paper would be repealed, and that the 7th Article, therefore, would not apply to paper. When, however, the course of events prevented the repeal of the Excise duty, paper came within the 7th Article, and it is in virtue of the provisions contained there that the House is now called upon to conform to the engagements contracted with the French Government. But then it is said that the French Government offered, not by treaty, but by diplomatic communication, to do their utmost to change the law in France in regard to the export of rags; and it is alleged that because the French Government failed in their endeavours to effect the change, the English Government ought also to fail in their endeavours to procure the assent of Parliament to a written engagement solemnly concluded between the two countries, and ratified by the Sovereigns of both. The cases are not parallel. The French Government have acted in the most honourable manner, and have handsomely stated that they would forego the rights which the treaty gave them, and that if it was inconvenient to the English Government to fulfil the engagement in respect of paper they would waive it for a short time. But is this a reason why we should break faith with the French Government? It is admitted on all sides that they have acted with liberality in this matter; and is that a reason why we should pursue towards them a course diametrically opposed to that which they have adopted towards ourselves. I cannot believe that a British House of Commons will take such a step. Then the right hon. Gentleman states that other conventions are to be signed, regulating the duty on iron and other things, and he says, "Why not postpone also that which is to be done with regard to the Customs' duty on paper? "The right hon. Gentleman is confounding things totally different in their nature. The subject matter of the conventions which are to be signed is the conversion of ad valorem into specific duties. The question is not whether there are or are not to be any duties upon these articles; it is simply the adjustment according to the terms of the treaty of ad valorem into specific duties; and, therefore, these conventions have no bearing on the question now under consideration. We are now called upon to do that which, if net a direct evasion, would be a shrinking and an escape from the performance of our engagements with France. But the House found no fault with the treaty when it was submitted to them. It is true that when an Address was brought forward expressing approval of the treaty, an addition was moved on the subject of coals. That Amendment, however, was rejected by a majority of 282 to 56, and then the House unanimously voted the Address approving the treaty and engaging to support the Crown in carrying it out. The same House which after deliberate consideration adopted the Address is now called upon to evade indefinitely the execution of one of the engagements in the treaty. It is now said by some Gentlemen on the other side of the House that this is a comparatively trifling question. I should like to know whether that was the light in which it was represented to the various gentlemen who have been called from distant parts of the kingdom or from foreign countries to take part in the division to-night. I suspect that the representations made to them must have been of a totally different character. I say, then, that the treaty obligation is as plain as it is possible for language to he, and I do trust the House will reject the refined argument which has been adduced to show that there is no treaty obligation. I hope that, looking at it from a plain English point of view, they will acknowledge the existence of such an bhligation, and will take the earliest opportunity of carrying it into effect. Then another ground is taker—namely, the bearing of this arrangement upon the particular trade to which these Resolutions apply. Now, I really thought we were all Free traders hero. I remember the time, not very long distant, when hon. Gentlemen opposite raised the standard of "Protection," which was the rallying cry of the party. But, if I mistake not, Lord Derby in 1852 stated when he dissolved Parliament that he remitted the question of free trade or protection to the decision of the country, and that he would abide, in respect of his choice between those two principles, by the result of that general election. Well, when that general election was over Lord Derby and his colleagues stated that they felt that the country had decided in favour of free trade, and that thenceforward they would fairly and frankly adopt that system. But now this free trade Parliament is called upon to break a treaty for the sake of retaining a fragment of protection for the benefit of one particular trade. My hon. Friend the Member for Pomfret (Mr. Childers) made a most important statement this evening, founded upon his own knowledge of the way in which the paper trade of this country competes with the paper manufacturers of Prance in third markets, in which no protection operates. Meeting there, he says, upon fair and equal terms, our manufacturers, by their superior skill and the superior article which they produce, have gained a predominance, to the exclusion of the manufacturers of Prance. That shows that even upon the narrow ground that protection may he required for fostering a manufacture that cannot stand upon its own legs it is demonstrated that the paper trade does not want that protection; that, therefore, even if you were to admit that it is sound policy to make the public buy a dearer or worse article, merely in order that persons who mauufac- ture it should have a profit which they would not otherwise obtain, that false and exploded principle does not apply to this case, because it is demonstrated that the paper manufacturers of England, while labouring under all the difficulties as to obtaining the raw material are able to compete successfully and advantageously in foreign markets with the manufacturers of the very country in which it is said, that the great advantage of the prohibition of the export of the raw material exists. I say therefore, that whether you deal with the question upon the ground of the treaty, or upon the principle of free trade or protection, I have heard no argument against this proposal which has any weight. I am persuaded that the House of Commons will feel that it is bound to maintain the honour of the country by fulfilling obligations of the extent of which no reasonable man can doubt—that it is too far advanced in the adoption of the principles of free trade to retrace its steps—and that to make this trifling exception to a general rule, the application of which has tended so greatly to improve the industry and advance the interests of the country, would be a dereliction of duty of which, in spite of all the ingenious arguments which we have heard, it would never be guilty.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 266, Noes 233: Majority 33.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Blencowe, J. G.
Adeane, H. J. Bonham-Carter, J.
Agar-Ellis, hon. L. G. F. Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.
Alcock, T. Bouverie, hon. P. P.
Andover, Visct. Bright, J.
Angerstein, W. Briscoe, J. I.
Antrobus, E. Bristow, A. R.
Ashley, Lord Brocklehurst, J.
Atherton, Sir W. Bruce, Lord E.
Ayrton, A. S. Bruce, H. A.
Bagwell, J. Buchanan, W.
Baines, E. Buckley, Gen.
Baring, H. B. Buller, J. W.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Buller, Sir A. W.
Baring, T. G. Butler, C. S.
Bass, M. T. Butt, I.
Bathurst, A. A. Buxton, C.
Bazley, T. Caird, J.
Beale, S. Calcutt, F. M'N.
Bellew, R. M. Calthorpe,hn.F.H.W.G.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Berkeley, Col. F.W. F. Carnegie, hon. C.
Bethell, Sir R. Castlerosse, Visct.
Biddulph, Colonel Cavendish, hon. W.
Biggs, J. Cavendish, Lord G.
Black, A. Childers, H. C. E.
Cholmeley, Sir M. J. Hayter, rt. hn.Sir W. G.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.
Clay, J. Henley, Lord
Clifford, C. C. Herbert, rt. hon. H. A.
Clifford, Col. Hodgkinson, G.
Clive, G. Hodgson, K. D.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Holland, E.
Collier, R. P. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Coningham, W. Hutt, rt. hon. W.
Cowper, rt. hon. W. F. Ingham, R.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Ingram, H.
Crawford, R. W. Jackson, W.
Crook, J. James, E.
Crossley, F. Jervoise, Sir J. C.
Dalglish, R. Johnstone, Sir J.
Davey, R. Kershaw, J,
Davie, Col. F. King, hon. P. J. L.
Deasy, rt. hon. R. Kinglake, A. W.
Denman, hon. G. Kinglake, J. A.
Dent, J. D. Kingscote, Col.
Dillwyn, L. L. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Dodson, J. G. Laing, S.
Douglas, Sir C. Langston, J. H.
Duff, M. E.G. Lanigan, J.
Duke, Sir J. Lawson, W.
Dunbar, Sir W. Leatham, E. A.
Duncombe, T. Leo, W.
Dundas, F. Levinge, Sir R.
Dunkellin, Lord Lewis, rt. hn. Sir G. C.
Dunlop, A. M. Lindsay, W. S.
Dutton, hon. R. H. Locke, J.
Enfield, Visct. Locke, J.
Ennis,T. Lockhart, A. E.
Evans, T. W. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Ewart, W. Lyall, G.
Ewart, J. C. Lysley, W. J.
Ewing, H. E. C. Mackie, J.
Fenwick, H. Mackinnon, W. A.
Ferguson, Col. Mainwaring, T.
Fermoy, Lord Marsh, M. H.
Foley, J. H. Martin, P. W.
Foley, H. W. Martin, J.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Matheson, A.
Forster, C. Mellor, J.
Foster, W. O. Mildmay, H. F.
Fortescue, hon. F. D. Milnes, R. M.
Fortescue, C. S. Mitchell, T. A.
Freeland, H. W. Moncreiff rt. hon. J.
Gibson, rt. hon.T. M. Monson, hon. W. J.
Gifford, Earl of Morris, D.
Gilpin, C. Mostyn, hn. T. M. L. E.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Newark, Visct.
Glyn, G. C. Noble, J. W.
Glyn, G. G. North, F.
Goldsmid, Sir F. H. O'Brien, P.
Gordon, C. W. O'Connell, Capt. D.
Gower, hon. F. L. Ogilvy, Sir J.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Onslow, G.
Greenwood, J. Osborne, R. B.
Gregson, S. Owen, Sir J.
Grenfell, C. P. Padmore, R.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Paget, C.
Grosvenor, Earl Paget, Lord A.
Gurney, J. H. Paget, Lord C.
Gurney, S. Palmerston, Visct.
Hadfield, G. Paxton, Sir J.
Hanbury, R. Pease, H.
Handley, J. Peel, Sir R.
Hankey, T. Peel, rt. hon. F.
Hanmer, Sir J. Peto, Sir S. M.
Harcourt, G. G. Pigott, F.
Hardcastle, J. A. Pilkington, J.
Hartington, Marq. of Pinney, Col.
Pollard-Urquhart, W. Smith, A.
Ponsonby, hon. A. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W. M.
Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Pritchard, J. Staniland, M.
Proby, Lord Stansfeld, J.
Pugh, D. (Carmarthenshire) Stuart, Col.
Taylor, H.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Thompson, H. S.
Raynham, Visct. Thornhill, W. P.
Ricardo, J. L. Tite, W.
Ricardo, O. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Rich, H. Tomline, G.
Ridley, G. Tynte, Col. K.
Roebuck, J. A. Vane, Lord H.
Rothschild, Baron L. de Verney, Sir H.
Rothschild,Baron M. de Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Roupell, W. Vivian, H. H.
Russell, Lord J. Warner, E.
Russell, H. Warre, J. A.
Russell, A. Watkins, Col. L.
Russell, F. W. Wemyss, J. H. E.
Russell, Sir W. Western, S.
St. Aubyn, J. Westhead, J. P. B.
Salomons, Mr. Ald. Whalley, G. H.
Salt, Titus Whitbread, S.
Scholefield, W. White, J.
Scott, Sir W. Wickham, H. W.
Scrope, G. P. Willcox, B. M'G.
Scully, V. Williams, W.
Seymour, Sir M. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Seymour, H. D. Wrightson, W. B.
Seymour, W. D. Wyld, J.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Wyvill, M.
Sheridan, R. B. TELLERS.
Sheridan, H. B. Brand, hon. H. B. W.
Sidney, T. Knatchbull.Hugessen, E. H.
Smith, J. B.
List of the NOES.
Adderley, rt. hon, C. B. Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B.
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Codrington, Sir W.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Cole, hon. J. L.
Archdall, Capt. M. Conolly, T.
Astell, J. H. Cooper, C. W.
Ball, E. Copeland, Mr. Ald.
Baring, T. Corry, rt. hon. H.L.
Barrow, W. H. Cubitt, Mr. Ald.
Beach, W. W. B. Cubitt, G.
Beecroft, G. S. Curzon, Visct.
Bentinck, G. C. Dalkeith, Earl of
Benyon, R. Damer, S. D.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Dawson, R. P.
Bernard, hon. Col. Deedes, W.
Bernard, T. T. Dickson, Col.
Blake, J. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bond, J. W. M'G. Drax, J. S. W. S. E. D.
Bovill, W. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bowyer, Sir G. Duncombe, hon. W. E.
Boyd, J. Dunn, J.
Brady, J. Dunne, Col.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Du Pre, C. G.
Brooks, R. Edwards, Major
Bruen, H. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Burghley, Lord Egerton, hon. W.
Cairns, Sir H. M'C. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Cartwright, Col. Elmley, Visct.
Cave, S. Elphinstone, Sir J. D.
Cayley, E. S. Estcourt, rt. hn. T. H. S.
Cecil, Lord R. Farquhar, Sir M.
Close, M. C. Fellowes, E.
Cobbett, J. M. Fergusson, Sir J.
Cobbold, J. C. Filmer, Sir E.
FitzGerald, W. R. S. Lovaine, Lord
Forde, Col. Lowther, hon. Col.
Forster, Sir G. Lygon, hon. F.
Galway, Visct. Macaulay, K.
Gard, R. S. M'Cormick, W.
George, J. MacEvoy, E.
Getty, S. G. M'Mahon, P.
Gilpin, Col. Maguire, J. F.
Gladstone, Capt. Malins, R.
Goddard, A. L. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Gore, J. R. O. March, Earl of
Gore, W. R. O. Maxwell, hon. Col.
Graham, Lord W. Miles, Sir W.
Greaves, E. Miller, T. J.
Greene, J. Mills, A.
Grey de Wilton, Visct. Montagu, Lord R.
Griffith, C. D. Moody, C. A.
Grogan, Sir E. Morgan, O.
Haliburton, T. C. Morgan, hon. Major
Hamilton, Lord C. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Hamilton, J. H. Mundy, W.
Hamilton, Visct. Mure, D.
Hanbury, hon. Capt. Murray, W.
Hardy, G. Naas, Lord
Hartopp, E. B. Newdegate, C. N.
Hassard, M. Newport, Visct.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Nicol, W.
Hennessy, J. P. Noel, hon. G. J.
Henniker, Lord Norris, J. T.
Herbert, Col. P. North, Col.
Heygate, Sir F. W. Northcote, Sir S. H.
Hill, Lord E. O'Conor Don, The
Holmesdale, Visct. O'Donoghue, The
Hood, Sir A. A. Paeke, C. W.
Hope, G. W. Pakenham, Col.
Hopwood, J. T. Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.
Hornby, W. H. Palk, Sir L.
Horsfall, T. B. Palmer, R. W.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Papillon, P. O.
Howes, E. Parker, Major W.
Hubbard, J. G. Paull, H.
Hume, W. W. F. Peacocke, G. M. W.
Hunt, G. W. Peel, rt. hon. Gen.
Ingestre, Visct. Pevensey, Visct.
Jermyn, Earl Potts, G.
Jervis, Capt. Powys, P. L.
Johnstone, hon. H. B. Quinn, P.
Jolliffe, rt. hon. Sir W. G. H. Redmond, J. E.
Repton, G. W. J.
Jolliffe, H. H. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Jones, D. Rolt, J.
Kekewich, S. T. Rowley, hon. R. T.
Kelly, Sir F. Salt, Thomas
Kendall, N. Sclater-Booth, G.
Kennard, R. W. Selwyn, C. J.
Kerrison, Sir E. C. Sibthorp, Major
King, J. K. Smith, Abel
Knatchbull, W. F. Smith, S. G.
Knight, F. W. Smollett, P. B.
Knightley, R. Somerset, Col.
Knox, Col. Somes, J.
Knox, hon. Major S. Spooner, R.
Lacon, Sir E. Stanley, Lord
Leeke, Sir H. Stirling, W.
Lefroy, A. Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.
Legh,W. J. Stracey, Sir H.
Leighton, Sir B. Sullivan, M.
Lennox, Lord G G. Talbot, C. R. M.
Leslie, C. P. Talbot, hon. W. C.
Lever, J. O. Thynne, Lord E.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Thynne, Lord H.
Long, R. P. Torrens, R.
Longfield, R. Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J. Welby, W. E.
Turner, J. A. Whiteside, rt. hon. J.
Valletort, Visct. Whitmore, H.
Vance, J. Williams, Col.
Vandeleur, Col. Woedd, B. T.
Vansittart, W. Wynn, Col.
Verner, Sir W. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Walcott, Admiral Wynne, C. G.
Walker, J. R. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Walsh, Sir J. TELLERS.
Walter, J. Taylor, Col.
Watlington, J. W. P. Puller, C. W. G.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

22. Resolved, That, in lieu of the Duties of Customs now charged on the articles undermentioned, the following Duties of Customs shall, on and after the 16th day of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty, be charged thereon on importation from France, and likewise from Algeria, if the produce thereof, into Great Britain and Ireland, namely,

s. d.
Books, being of editions printed in or since the year 1801, bound or unbound the cwt. 16 0
—admitted under Treaties of international copycenter the cwt. 15 0
Millboards the cwt. 16 0
Paper, namely,
Brown paper made of old rope or cordage only, without separating or extracting the pitch or tar therefrom, and without any mixture of other materials therewith, the cwt. 16 0
Printed, painted, or stained paper- hangings, or flock paper, the cwt. 14 0
Gilt, stained, coloured, embossed, and all fancy kinds, not being paper- hangings the cwt. 16 0
Waste Paper, or Paper of any sort, not particularly enumerated or described, not otherwise charged with Duty the cwt. 16 0
Pasteboard the cwt. 15 0
Prints and Drawings, namely,
Plain or coloured the cwt. 16 0
Admitted under Treaties of international copycenter the cwt. 15 0
—or at the option of the importer, Single each 0
Bound the dozen 0

said, the difference between the first and second Resolution was simple and well understood, and as the subject of protection and free trade had been so amply discussed, he thought it would be for the convenience of the Committee to take the question at once upon the second Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in lieu of the Duties of Customs now charged on the articles under-mentioned, the following Duties of Customs shall, on and after the 16th day of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty, be charged thereon on importation from Countries other than France and Algeria, namely,



begged to remind hon. Members that there was a most important distinction between this and the previous Resolution. The argument drawn from the obligations of the treaty did nut apply to this; and as regarded the manufacturers whose case be had undertaken to support, it was of vital importance that the Resolutions should not be extended to other countries beyond the scope of the treaty. He would, therefore, still move the Amendment of which he had given notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the proposed Resolution, in order to add the words 'without desiring to prejudice the question of a reduction at a future period of the Customs Duty on Books and Paper, this Committee does not think 5t at present to assent to such reduction.


said, that the question raised by the first Amendment was of considerable importance, and it was necessary that the matter should he fully discussed; but the Amendment on the second Resolution appeared to be one which, if carried, would involve them in very great trouble, By admitting the first Resolution they would become involved with all those nations which came within the most favoured nation clause. That clause, he believed, did not extend to all the other nations, but in considering the Amendment, as applied to them, they would have to consider the whole question of protection to native industry, and be was not prepared to enter into the lists on that question. So far, therefore, as his support was concerned, the hon. Member for Hertfordshire must not count upon it if he went to a division.


said, that the suffering caused by the financial scheme of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the large constituency be represented was so great that he felt it his duty to support the hon. Member for Hertfordshire if he went to a division.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Resolution,"

Put, and agreed to.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

23. Resolved,

That, in lieu of the Duties of Customs now charged on the articles under-mentioned, the following Duties of Customs shall, on and after the 16th day of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty, be charged thereon on importation from Countries other than France and Algeria, namely.

s. d.
Books, being of editions printed in or since the year 1801, bound or unbound the cwt. 16 0
—admitted under Treaties of international copycenter the cwt. 15 0
Millboards the cwt. 16 0
Paper, namely
Brown paper made of old rope or cordage only, without separating or extracting the pitch or tar therefrom, and without any mixture of other materials therewith, the cwt. 16 0
Printed, painted, or stained paper-hangings, or flock paper, the cwt. 14 0
Gilt, stained, coloured, embossed, and all fancy kinds, not being paper hangings the cwt. 16 0
Waste Paper, or Paper of any sort, not particularly enumerated, or described, not otherwise charged with Duty the cwt. 16 0
Pasteboard the cwt. 15 0
Prints and Drawings, namely
Plain or coloured the cwt. 16 0
Admitted under Treaties of international copycenter the cwt. 15 0
—or at the option of the importer, Single each 0
Bound the dozen 0