§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, in the observations which I shall offer to the House tonight it is not my intention to give any opinion on the policy of the provisions of the Treaty of Commerce with France. Still less, Sir, will it be my desire to make any 1356 reference to the financial statement which has recently been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And if for a moment I am obliged to refer to that statement it shall be only for a moment, and because I feel that I am bound to place myself right with the House, and without reserve, and with the utmost frankness, to explain to them the cause why, apparently, at the last moment on Friday night, I seemed to interpose between the House and the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Essex (Mr. Du Cane), which Amendment I cordially approve, and which, when brought forward, I shall entirely support. After the financial statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been made, I felt it my duty to consider, on the following day, in conjunction with those with whom I have the honour to act in public life, the propositions of the Minister. Those propositions, after having given them the most mature consideration, appear to us of a most dangerous character. Sir, when a Minister announces a great increase in the expenditure of the country, in the face of a large and avowed deficit—when, under these circumstances, he proposes, by dealing with certain branches of our revenue, to increase that deficiency, and only to make up the balance of the year by having recourse to a tax which the country for many years has been led to believe would terminate in the present year, and which, even under the altered circumstances of the case, they had a right to expect would at least be reduced, it did appear to us that it was impossible for us, with the opinions which we have always maintained on the subject of finance in this House, and especially in reference to that impost, the income tax—it seemed to us, I say, impossible that we could shrink from submitting our opinions upon the question on the present occasion. Well, how was that to be done? No doubt, when dealing with a scheme so complicated and comprehensive as that of the Government, we might have seized occasions, and have availed ourselves of particular points in it, when by joining with some interests affected, or some peculiar body which was menaced, we might in all probability have increased our strength, and might certainly have embarrassed, and perhaps have partially defeated the Government. But then came the question, was that course worthy of a great party? If we believed that the general principles of the financial scheme of the Government 1357 were erroneous, was it not our duty to fix upon some broad, distinct, and straightforward objection, and upon that to take the opinion of the House? And that was our unanimous opinion. It was not in our minds becoming in us to join ourselves with the discontented wine merchants, with the paper manufacturers, or with those publicans whose complaints we have been listening to this evening, or with the many bodies who believe that their interests are menaced by the propositions of the Government. On the contrary, Sir, it was our opinion that an issue should be joined similar to that proposed by the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, and that upon some broad, clear, and distinct ground the judgment of the House should be taken. I have made these observations on the financial statement of the right hon. Gentleman, not that I wish to introduce the slightest controversy on this occasion on its merits, but to explain to the House the course which we who sit upon these benches have taken. Having arrived at that conclusion, I will not disguise from the House it was to us a matter of great regret that we found ourselves obliged to precipitate a conclusion owing to the peculiar manner in which the public business this year has been placed before us by the Government. We were obliged, I say, to precipitate a conclusion which, according to our own feelings, ought to have been postponed until much of the preliminary discussion involved in the important topics which the financial statement embraces should have taken place. In the course of that discussion probably many circumstances would have been changed and alterations would have occurred which would have modified in many respects the conclusion arrived at and the expression of opinion to which I have referred. But when we saw the great haste with which those important subjects have been brought under the consideration of the House when our attention was directed to the almost inextricable confusion with which matters and measures that have no necessary connection with each other have been mixed up, and the great difficulty which must attend a hurried consideration of affairs, so varied and so complicated, we felt that such a state of things rendered it really impossible for us to take any other course than that indicated by the proposed Resolution of my hon. Friend the Member for Essex. And, Sir, that being the way in which the important measures which the Government 1358 have brought forward have been introduced to the House, it seems impossible, if this issue is to be raised, that it could be postponed beyond the question of Mr. Speaker leaving the chair to go into Committee on the Customs Acts. And although we deprecate and deplore the inconvenience, and as we believe, the great public impropriety of the House being called upon, before the preliminary debates which would have arisen, to come to a conclusion upon the whole financial scheme of the Government, still it was inevitable from the mode in which the public business had been arranged by the Ministry.
Well, Sir, that being the state of the case, there arose accidentally on Friday night last what I may call a conversation on the subject of the French treaty of commerce. Towards the conclusion of it I rose and made an inquiry of Her Majesty's Government on a subject which had been several times referred to as very perplexing. I asked in what manner the Government intended to introduce the Treaty of Commerce with France to the consideration of the House? I am bound to say that the answer of the Government on that occasion was so ambiguous, so hesitating, that, upon further reflection and research in the course of the evening, it appeared to me to be so impracticable, that I felt it my duty, though with great unwillingness on my part, to place that Notice on the paper which hon. Gentlemen are aware of. Sir, so little had that Amendment on my part the character of a party Motion that I had not, from the state of the House, an opportunity of conferring with any of the Gentlemen with whom I am in the habit of acting, except with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) I should willingly—most willingly—have seen the task undertaken by some independent Member of the House; but time was urgent, the subject was pressing, and so it has devolved upon me to call the serious attention of the House to what I believe is the unprecedented and peculiar position in which it is now placed—one which, I think, will be found, on calm discussion, to be a position by no means favourable to the privileges of this House and to that freedom of discussion which we are accustomed to view with such pride and jealousy. Probably there have been few-Sessions of Parliament in which measures of such great importance have been introduced to the notice of the House of Commons as the present; yet the management 1359 of this important business by the Government—inadvertently, I make no doubt—has been so arranged that, although we have before us two most important propositions—although we are called upon to consider some of the most considerable questions that can be raised, I will be bound to prove to the House that on no occasion have the opportunities for discussion been so abridged and limited. I think I shall further show that on one important portion of those topics, not only have they been abridged and limited, but absolutely superseded. Relieving that this has been unintentional and inadvertent on the part of the Government, but feeling that it has not only placed the House in a very inconvenient position, but may lead to consequences very injurious to the public service, I have thought it my duty, by the Motion which I have placed on the table to give the House an opportunity of interfering and remedying that which, on reflection, I think to be an evil of no slight magnitude.
Now, Sir, I hardly know that I can more clearly illustrate the false position in which the House is placed at this moment than by referring to the first two Amendments of which notice is given in the Orders of the Day. The first Amendment is by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) with reference to those differential duties on shipping which are retained by the Commercial Treaty. Well, if the hon. Gentleman had brought forward that question no doubt the House would have had an opportunity of deliberating upon a very important article of the Commercial Treaty; hut when the division was called for, and when a division was taken, no matter on what side the decision might have been, by the rules of the House, which prevent a second Amendment on the question of going into Committee on the Customs Acts, no other single Article in the Treaty of Commerce could possibly have been brought before the House. Suppose, as I understand Would have been the case, the hon. Member for Sunderland, according to the usage of the House, and in unison with the courtesies which regulate our proceedings on both sides of the House, though bringing forward a subject of importance but of limited interest, had deferred to my hon. Friend the Member for Essex (Mr. Du Cane), who has challenged a much wider and completer issue, and that, too, at the request of a powerful party, and suppose my hon. Friend the Member for Essex had brought 1360 forward his Motion this Evening, then this House would have had an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but after the decision on that question, assuming for a moment that it would have been negatived, it would have been impossible for any other Member either to bring forward an Amendment on any Article of the Treaty of Commerce, or again to refer to any subject connected with the Budget. Now, is that a state of the business of the House that is satisfactory? Ought the House to be placed in such a position on such an occasion, in a Session when the Government is bringing forward propositions of such importance—measures the magnitude of which can scarcely be exaggerated? So far I can form an opinion at the present moment—and I beg that the House will calmly and completely keep their mind on this point—and I have spared no means in the brief interval to avail myself of that learning which I do not myself possess on those subjects—the Treaty of Commerce with France which never has been before the House, never can be before the House. Surely, Sir, this is a point on which the House ought to arrive at a careful knowledge and a correct judgment. It will be for the Government to-night to prove that I am under an erroneous impression of the case. But my opinion is, that if we go into Committee on the Customs Acts, and if we pass all those Resolutions which are upon the paper to be proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and which will affect all those remissions and reductions of duty which are contemplated in the Treaty of Commerce, that Treaty of Commerce can never appear before the House for its consideration and its judgment. It may be said—and was, indeed, said the other night—that the mere Resolutions of this House in Committee on the Customs Acts are not the law of the land, or are not conclusive, and that therefore the matter may be placed in another form before us. Well, Sir, let us see what is the value of that plea? It has been admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his recent letter to a Member of this House, that for all practical purposes, as regards this Treaty, the votes in Committee on the Customs Acts are conclusive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in that statement only used language and availed himself of views which have always been accepted by the individuals in his position, and recognized by this House. What is the language of the noble Lord, the Se- 1361 cretary for Foreign Affairs, on this subject? Why, in his despatch to the negotiators of this Treaty, what the noble Lord there says is—And with respect to all those articles which are to be set free from duty, and removed altogether from the Tariff, those articles shall become free on the day succeeding that on which the Resolution in Committee of the House of Commons, affirming the proposed freedom from Customs' duty shall have been duly reported and agreed to by the House itself.No doubt the noble Lord was perfectly justified in giving those instructions to the negotiators; but, if that be the case, what opportunity would we have on the Customs Act, subsequently introduced, to consider this Treaty? All those who had voted for the reduction or remission of duty in Committee, wonld scarcely oppose an Act which carried their own reductions into effect; and all those who had opposed—whom we assume to be the minority—must, in their opposition in Committee on the Customs Acts, be confined merely to subjects which are contained in those Customs Acts, Therefore I maintain that if the Customs Acts were passed, all that assent of Parliament, which is provided for in the 20th Article of the Treaty, would be perfectly fulfilled and satisfied. But it is a mistake to suppose that the 20th Article of this Treaty requires the sanction, or, as the hon. Member for Finsbury calls it, the ratification, of the House of Commons. The House of Commons has no right, under the Constitution, to sanction or ratify treaties. And if Her Majesty exercises her prerogative subject, in any particular, to be enabled by this House to fulfil her engagements, and is by the House enabled to fulfil those engagements, the treaty becomes a complete treaty; and there is no doubt it would be accepted as a complete treaty by the Power with which it was negotiated. In effect, Article 20, which has been so much adverted to in this House, is to defend Her Majesty, if She found herself in a position in which She is not able to fulfil her engagements with the foreign Power with which She has negotiated. If this be the case, and if the only mode in which the Treaty can be brought before the House, is by the remission or reduction of Customs' duties in Committee, and afterwards by the passing of the Customs Acts. I ask the House, how are we do deal with these considerable questions which may arise on this Treaty, which have nothing whatever to do with questions of the remission or reduction 1362 of Customs' duties? I would refer again to the 11th Article of the Treaty, which greatly interests—I may say agitates the public mind of this country—the one which refers to the prohibition of the exportation of coal, in which the Queen engages not to prohibit the exportation of coal. There has been a great deal of discussion and excitement in! various places on this subject; but the question was never, in my mind, completely and clearly put before the country, till it was stated on Friday night by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns.) With great respect for the noble Secretary opposite, I could not infer from his observations that he fairly understood the question; because the noble Secretary referred to a treaty with Russia, which had been negotiated by Lord Malmesbury; and the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) seemed to conclude that the case of that treaty was a complete parallel with that of the one before us. But, Sir, the treaty to which the noble Secretary referred contains only an engagement on the part of Her Majesty and the Emperor of Russia not to enforce, the one against the other, any prohibition of importation or exportation, which shall not at the same time be applicable to all other nations. That is not the case which the 11th Article of the present Treaty deals with. Nothing can prove that more clearly than that the negotiators have absolutely inserted in this very Treaty of Commerce, a proviso to that effect, which conclusively shows that the contingency contemplated in the 11th Article, which has so alarmed the country, is totally different from that identity of circumstances assumed by the noble Lord with the treaty negotiated by Lord Malmesbury. What is this 11th Article? My hon. and learned Friend called the attention of the House to the fact that the Parliament of this country had entrusted to the Sovereign the right of prohibiting the exportation of coal. Under the 11th Article of this Treaty the Sovereign has agreed with a foreign Power not to exercise that right which has been entrusted to Her by Her Parliament, for the space of ten years. Is not that a grave question? I give no opinion on the policy of the Government with respect to that act. I give no opinion on the law of the question. I am to-night not wishing to mix myself up with any controversies of any kind; but I ask the House, ought a treaty including such an Article as this, so nearly concerning the privileges of this House, and touching the 1363 very constitution of the country—and that Article not a financial or a fiscal one—escape the due consideration of the House of Commons? I say that alone, the argument from the 11th Article is one which I think is unanswerable for the end I have in view—that of bringing this Treaty before the House of Commons—for it never has been from the beginning brought before us. But it has been held by very great authorities, men who have been eminent in this House and illustrious in another House of Parliament, that notwithstanding Her Majesty has been advised to take' a course illegal and unconstitutional, nevertheless the engagement is a complete one so far as the foreign Power is concerned, on the part of Her Majesty; and that if Her Majesty is able, by reductions and remissions of duties assented to by Her Parliament, to carry Her engagements into effect, Her Majesty will be bound by the 11th Article of the Treaty. If that be the case—and I give no opinion on it—how much more necessary is it that we deliberately, orderly, and methodically consider all those questions of reduction and remissions of revenue; because it might happen that it would be only by a refusal of the House of Commons to remit or reduce duty that the Sovereign could he extricated from an unconstitutional position, and one of great peril and danger. According to this view—and I give no opinion as to its justice—it is equally necessary that this Treaty should be placed before the House. The noble Lord the First Minister said the other night, "Of course the House will be asked to give their opinion on the Treaty." Now, Sir, I want to know in what way we are to give that opinion, assuming, as I have throughout all these observations assumed, that the course of conducting business indicated by Her Majesty's Government is pursued, and that we go into Committee on the Customs Acts, and pass all these remissions and reductions of duty necessary to enable the Queen to complete her engagements with the Emperor of the French? I want to know from the noble Lord if all those reductions and remissions are made, in what way Her Majesty's Government proposes to bring the Treaty of Commerce with France before the cognizance of this House, and to subject it to the constitutional control and criticism of this House. That is a question which I hope will be answered to-night. Will the noble Lord the First Minister give notice of an Address to the 1364 Queen after all these reductions and remissions have been made? Does the noble Lord propose to give notice of an Address to the Queen assuring Her Majesty that we shall lose no time in taking measures which will enable Her Majesty to fulfil her engagements with the Emperor of the French? In the first place, it will be very difficult—I believe it is perfectly unprecedented under any circumstances—for the House of Commons to address the Queen on a treaty when Her Majesty has not been advised to condescend to address the House of Commons. It may be said that it was impossible in Her Majesty's Speech to announce the fact of this Treaty of Commerce being ratified. But in a similar case—in the treaty of commerce which was negotiated at Utrecht—I find that it was negotiated while Parliament was sitting, and could not be announced from the Throne at the opening of the Session; but then a Message from Her Majesty Queen Anne was brought to the House to inform it of what had occurred; and that course led to communications which were in every respect constitutional and according to Parliamentary custom. But we need not go back to that distant period. It is only but yesterday—it is in the experience of two-thirds of the Members of the present House of Commons, though it happened under a preceding one—that our most gracious Sovereign entered into a treaty with the King of Sardinia while Parliament was sitting, and to carry which into effect She required the assistance of the Legislature. What then happened? The Minister brought down a Message from the Crown which invited a loyal and dutiful response. Sir, I think it would be very difficult for the noble Lord—all those remissions and reductions having taken place—to propose an Address to the Crown to inform Her Majesty that we were prepared to carry the Treaty into effect. But, the noble Lord may say, "It will then be full time for me to advise Her Majesty to address the House, and after you have concluded your Committee on the Customs Acts a Message from the Crown shall come down to you." Sir, the relations between the Crown and this House are of a very peculiar and delicate character; and it should be our first study not to let them generate into mere formality. And for the Crown to send down a Message to this House, announcing that She had concluded a treaty with the Emperor of the French, and inviting our consideration to it, and calling on us to 1365 grant Her Majesty the means to carry it into effect, when Her Majesty must have been duly informed by Her Ministers that we had parted with all those privileges of Parliament which secured our constitutional control over treaties, would be a course which I think no Minister would be justified in advising his Sovereign to follow, and would be at the same time a mockery to the Crown, and I need not say an insult to the Commons of the United Kingdom. A great Minister, whom I shall have to quote in some subsequent remarks, has touched, I think, with great eloquence and truth upon the true union which may be effected between the prerogatives of the Crown and the privileges of Parliament upon this important subject of treaties. He said, "It is the happy circumstance of our constitution that it gives to the Crown the solo prerogative of negotiating and concluding treaties, but it gives the judgment, the revision, and the execution of those treaties to the privileges of the people." But I want to know how we can have judgment, how we can effect revision, and how we can exercise control over the execution of a treaty, if we have already parted with those privileges, the possession and the exercise of which form, as it were, the privity between the House and the prerogatives of the Crown? There is yet another course by which the noble Lord might contemplate bringing the Treaty of Commerce with France before the consideration of the House of Commons. The noble Lord might say, or might have thought, that it was in his power to give notice on a particular day—the Committee on the Customs Acts being concluded—to give notice that on a particular day he would call upon the House to consider the Treaty of Commerce with France. Well, now suppose the noble Lord gave that notice, how would he act upon it? He could not go into Committee to consider the Treaty, because already he has wasted all the reasons which authorize the House to go into the Committee. There is nothing for the House to decide upon as regards a Committee. In every financial and fiscal question a Vote would have been arrived at. But could the noble Lord then propose a Resolution that the House sanction the Treaty? I apprehend that if the noble Lord were to take such a course he would clearly be taking a course that would outrage the prerogative of the Crown. He could not ask the House of Commons to sanction a treaty already ratified by his 1366 Sovereign; and, therefore, if the noble Lord gave that notice, I cannot conceive, if he has exhausted his Committee on the Customs Acts—I cannot conceive what he would find to do when the House met to listen.
These, Sir, are the main reasons which have induced me to come to the conclusion that if the House persists in the present order of public business this Treaty of Commerce with France will really never be submitted to its constitutional control; and I want the House, this evening, to see whether there are not some means by which we can extricate ourselves from a position so difficult, and for the House I should say so humiliating, as that which we now—unintentionally I doubt not, on the part of the Government—appear to me to occupy. I think there are such means, simple and efficacious, by which we can extricate ourselves from this unsatisfactory position, and which, in my opinion, the House ought to adopt. I think we can do no better in the present state of affairs than follow those precedents with which the wisdom and experience of our predecessors have furnished us. There are several precedents which apply to the present state of public business of the House; but I don't want to weary the patience of the House to-night with the details, for this reason, because there is one precedent which from its nature is so apt and memorable, which affords an example so complete, and the actor in which was so illustrious, that I am quite aware that if the House will give their consideration to that precedent, and to the course of proceeding which was pursued by Parliament in that prime period of its reputation, they will obtain a guide not only in the present position of these questions, but in any combination of difficulties which may arise from probably the prolonged debates on the questions now before us. I have already referred to that precedent in the conversation on Friday, but very hastily and very imperfectly. If the House will permit me I will now put succinctly, but I hope clearly, before the House what took place with respect to the treaty of 1786; and it appears to me that in a right appreciation of those circumstances we shall find means by which we may disembarrass ourselves of all those difficulties which we have already felt, and which if we do not take that course will, in my opinion, daily increase. The House will recollect that the treaty of commerce between England and France 1367 negotiated in 1786 was negotiated in the month of September, at the latter end of the month, and in the month of October it was published throughout Europe. Parliament did not meet till the last week in January, 1787; and therefore for four months that treaty and all its provisions had been canvassed and analyzed, and had been in the mouths and the minds of men. In February—I think on the 2nd of February—Mr. Pitt, having a few days previously brought up the treaty by command (as the noble Secretary of State did the other night) gave notice that on the 12th of that month, February, he should call upon the House to take into consideration the treaty of commerce with France,—thus allotting ten days for the consideration of a document which for four months had been so completely studied by the country that many of its defects had been discovered, and Mr. Pitt had even negotiated a supplementary treaty by which those defects were remedied. And that is another hint of which the hon. Member for Finsbury may avail himself. Let the House remember that when the Parliament met, the Sovereign had announced the negotiation and ratification of the Treaty from the Throne, which is not our case this year. Mr. Fox immediately arose against this proposition of Mr. Pitt, and protested against ten days only being allowed. We have only ten days allowed, when the Treaty was not even ratified when the Parliament met. We have not had the advantage of the deliberation and criticism of four months. On the contrary, it is only by a miracle that, the financial statement having been made on Friday, we were not called on to decide it on the following Thursday. And I think that all that has occurred upon these large transactions thus far has fairly shown that I was not irrational when I pressed on the House the importance of delay, and the absolute necessity of giving us time to consider in what manner we had best deal with propositions of such a magnitude. Well, upon the 12th of February, Mr. Pitt called the attention of the House of Commons, which had on his Motion moved into a Committee of the Whole House—he called the attention of the Committee to the consideration of the French Treaty, in a very ample and able speech, in which he considered the instrument both commercially and politically, and he concluded his speech by moving a Resolution. Now, Sir, that Resolution, the first of twenty resolutions 1368 which Mr. Pitt had prepared:—and these resolutions—let me call the attention of the House particularly to this fact—these Resolutions were not Resolutions similar to those which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has placed on the paper in order that they may be moved in the Committee on the Customs Acts—they were general Resolutions:—Mr. Pitt himself impressed on the House not to be alarmed lest they should be entrapped into accepting details which they might afterwards regret. The Resolutions were drawn large and general, and they were not Resolutions, as I will show to the House afterwards, that could form the staple and elements of a revenue Bill. There were considerable debates, adjournments, and divisions on these Resolutions. Those Resolutions embodied the pith of the commercial treaty; for the commercial treaty of Mr. Pitt was limited entirely to commercial considerations and questions of navigation. If not so limited it would tell much better for my argument. But the twenty Resolutions of Mr. Pitt were discussed, amply discussed; divisions took place upon them, and towards the end of the month, the 20th, I think, of February, they were passed, they were reported to the House; and immediately after they were reported Mr. Pitt moved an Address to the Crown in answer to the passage in the Speech from the Throne—or rather, a follower of Mr. Pitt did it—pledging the House to enable His Majesty to carry that treaty into effect. And what then occurred? Why the Resolutions of this House and the Address were sent up to a body which appears to me to be entirely forgotten in this transaction; because when Her Majesty, in Her negotiations with the Emperor of the French speaks of the assent of Parliament, I can hardly suppose that Government considers that the Parliament consists of only the House of Commons. But Mr. Pitt sent the Resolutions and Address to the House of Lords for consideration, and took no further step in the business until the House of Lords had equally passed those Resolutions, after a formal but most memorable debate, distinguished, among other things, by a speech of the highest class from the first Marquess of Lansdowne, which may still be read with great profit, and which proved that he was a statesman of the highest order. And then, also, the House of Lords assented to an Address to the Crown, and the two Houses went up with their joint Addresses. And what then took place? 1369 Mr. Pitt left those Resolutions on the table, and brought forward his Consolidation Act, and when the House went into Committee upon the Customs Consolidation Act those Resolutions were submitted to that Committee on the Customs Acts, and there they were worked out and brought into practical effect. After the House had discussed the general principles, then they had an opportunity of entering into all the minutiæ which a subject of that kind demanded.
Now, Sir, I know I shall be told—there were some impatient Gentlemen when I talked of precedents—I may be told, "You are referring to times past. What have times past to do with an age of progress like the present? Never mind precedents. Never mind Standing Orders. Go ahead with large and comprehensive measures. You are not to suppose that the authors of such schemes are to be subject to such rusty regulations." But had Mr. Pitt, in 1787, when he introduced the Treaty of Commerce with France to the consideration of the House, had he no large and comprehensive measures of reform—of financial reform? Why, considered with reference to the state of this country at that time—its revenue, its population, and its general resources—the measure of Mr. Pitt, brought forward for the consolidation and reform of our Customs and Excise, may be looked upon as by far the greatest reform of the kind that ever has been carried. Why, Sir, we hear a great deal now of simplification of the tariff, as if it was some new idea, the offspring of this enlightened age, and only discovered in Manchester. We are told now that a reform of 200 or 300 articles in the tariff is one of the marvellous actions of our day. Why, the House may form an idea of what Mr. Pitt's labours were when he dealt with a tariff that had not been revised for generations—I must almost say for centuries—I must remind the House that the Committee had to go in his days into the consideration of no less than 3,000 Resolutions to carry his policy into effect. Mr. Pitt, therefore, had his large and comprehensive measure; but he did not mix it up in any way with his commercial treaty. On the contrary, having given the House of Commons of his day a constitutional opportunity of considering the treaty, having moved and passed in Committee the twenty Resolutions that were necessary to carry it into effect, no sooner had he obtained that result than he introduced his 1370 Consolidation of Customs and Excise Bill; the House went into Committee, the Resolutions were referred to the Committee, and then the Committee had the opportunity of considering the financial and fiscal portions of his policy. Now, let the House observe this, that in the exposition with which Mr. Pitt introduced that treaty of commerce with France in 1787, there was not the slightest allusion to the effect which that treaty would have on the revenue of the country, though its effect must have been considerable. There was not the slightest allusion to his great and comprehensive measures of fiscal and financial reform, although it was his purpose to submit to the Committee upon that great Bill the Resolutions which had been passed in the Committee on the commercial treaty. In February, Mr. Pitt introduced his commercial treaty. In March, Mr. Pitt introduced his great measure of financial reform. And what did he do in April? Why, at the right time, Mr. Pitt proposed his Budget. And I ask the House now, why are we to be treated differently from the Commons in 1787? Why should we not have the commercial treaty, the comprehensive measure of financial reform, and then the Budget, brought forward in their natural order, and submitted to us in that manner which would give us frequent and ample opportunities for that matured debate and that criticism which questions of such importance, and of such complicated character demand? Well, now, Sir, I ask the House, why should we not follow in the present instance the same course as the Government of 1787? That is a question which I think ought to be answered; and if we follow that course, it appears to me that we shall remove all the difficulty which Members on both sides must feel, and we should have thus sufficient opportunities of debate and discussion, of which, in the mode in which those important questions have been introduced to us, it seems inevitable we shall be deprived; and that above all we shall have this treaty brought under our cognizance and criticism, which, so far as I can judge, will not otherwise be the case.
Sir, I must say I am at a loss to understand what objection Her Majesty's Ministers will make to the proposition with which I shall conclude. I should be exceedingly glad if I could obtain my purpose without asking the House to assent to my Amendment. The Amendment that I have put on the paper is one in accordance with the 1371 forms of the House, and I have no other object in it but to secure to the House an opportunity of constitutional discussion of this Treaty, and of asserting the privileges of this House, and of securing that right of debate which hitherto we have deemed so important.
I said that I would make no observation on the policy or provisions of this Treaty of Commerce, but I may be allowed to mate one remark—first, upon the negotiator of the Treaty; and, secondly, on the form of the instrument in which the result of the negotiations is placed before us. And I do so because I cannot help feeling that they are in some degree the cause of the embarrassing position in which the House is placed upon this matter generally. Now, Sir, I am sure that the House will do me the justice of believing, and perhaps remembering, that I have never been slow in recognizing the great ability and the honourable and eminent position fairly gained in this country by the hon. Member for Rochdale. I have the satisfaction to state that I recognized his abilities before they were acknowledged by vanquished Ministers, and before he received the approbation of those sympathising statesmen of whom it seems, somehow or other, he is doomed never to be a colleague. But I cannot but feel, and I now give the reason of the sentiment to the House, that it was a most unwise selection on the part of the Government to appoint as their secret agent Mr. Cobden—for I may now use his name, seeing that it is appended as a signature to the Treaty itself—it was a most unwise thing to appoint Mr. Cobden as their secret negotiator. I should rejoice to see the hon. Member for Rochdale upon that bench in an honourable and recognized position, because then we should know that he was responsible for the policy which we believe Her Majesty's Government professes. But when I find him the secret agent for negotiating a Treaty of Commerce it is impossible for me not to trace in the Treaty something of the idiosyncrasy of the negotiator. Now, for example. There are objections to this Treaty—I do not make them myself now, because to-night I wish to avoid any controversy of the kind; but it has been objected that there is in the Treaty a wanton destruction of sources of revenue much needed at this particular time. But, then, it is perfectly consistent with the opinion of Mr. Cobden that he should recommend those sacrifices of revenue, because Mr. Cobden is 1372 never at fault in his opinions—openly, frankly, and honestly professed as they always are—Mr. Cobden is never at fault for a substitute for the revenue which he forfeits, and he finds that substitute in reductions of expenditure. But is that the opinion of her Majesty's Government? The Estimates on the table prove that it is not; and I am quite sure that if upon this subject they shared the opinions of the secret negotiator they would soon forfeit the confidence of the House of Commons. Then, again, there is another very important matter in this Treaty, upon which there has been considerable controversy, and upon which Mr. Cobden has a most decided opinion; and that is upon belligerent rights. It is the opinion of some that the rights of belligerents are very lightly treated under this Treaty; but it is perfectly consistent with Mr. Cobden's expressed opinions that he should not guard those rights which he has himself always denounced. Now, so far with regard to the character of the negotiator. Let me say one word now as to the form of the instrument. I will not enter into any controversy to-night, as to whether this is a reciprocity treaty or not. The subject is not exhausted, and I hope there will be an occasion to renew it, especially if Her Majesty's Ministers, as I trust they will, consent to the suggestions embodied in my observations. But if it be a reciprocity treaty then I must say that reciprocity was was never less adroitly managed. If, on the other hand, it is not a reciprocity treaty, then I can find no satisfactory cause why these negotiations should have taken this conventional form. I say, Sir, I can find no satisfactory cause: but I should be in error if I were to say that no cause or reason has been given. The noble Lord the First Minister, at the commencement of the Session, gave us a reason for these matters, under negotiation taking the form of a treaty, which, no doubt, he thought perfectly satisfactory. The noble Lord said it was owing to the peculiarity of the French Constitution, that peculiarity being this, that the Sovereign of France can enter into treaties of this nature without consulting his Legislative Chamber, interested though they are in transactions which so much affect the taxation and industry of the country. Now, Sir, during our conversation on Friday last, some notice was taken—and I regret the tone in which it was taken—of the Legislative Chamber of France. I make it a rule, 1373 Sir, to speak with unaffected respect of the constituted authorities of foreign countries. I think we may take it as a general rule that they would not be constituted were they not adapted to the exigencies of the time and to the character of the people among whom they exist. But, Sir, with respect to the Legislative Chamber of France, I am surprised that any Gentlemen who are what are called "advanced Liberals" should cither speak in disparagement of that body or exult that they have not had the opportunity of exercising its functions. The Legislative Chamber of France is elected by universal suffrage. The Legislative Chamber of France is chosen by ballot. The members of the Legislative Chamber of France are sent to their seats from electoral districts. And if they be salaried members, why, when advanced opinions are triumphant, it will be recognized that they have only anticipated the idea of a British Member of Parliament. But, Sir, possibly—I give no opinion upon the matter—the Legislative Chamber of France may be inferior to us in political sagacity or in legislative skill. It may be that its members have not that high sense of political liberty which flourishes in this country. Perhaps—at least it is my opinion and I have often expressed it—in the old countries of Europe political liberty and aristocracy are inseparable. But, Sir, this cannot be denied; that a body of men elected under such circumstances and chosen under such conditions must at least represent the opinions, or, at any rate, the prejudices of the multitude that placed them there. Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) referred the other night with legitimate pride to the circumstance that the most powerful Empire in Europe, and the most flourishing community in the United States, still profess those opinions in favour of protection to native industry which in this House he has so long, so ably, and, all must admit, so honestly maintained. There is a country which, I hope, is not inferior either to Imperial France, or to that famous Confederation beyond the Atlantic, to which my hon. Friend referred, and that is the country of which we are proud to be members. We have not been faithful to those principles of protection to native industry which my hon. Friend still professes. England has repudiated those opinions which France and the United States still maintain. But although those two great communities still 1374 adhere to those opinions, I think it is some satisfaction to learn that whatever difference there may be among them respecting free-trade principles, it has come to light through these negotiations that there is the same sympathy for constitutional principles. Free-trade principles may be, and no doubt are, very good things, but I may be permitted to say that constitutional principles are better; and allow me to remind the House that they are much older. Now, this Treaty of Commerce before us appears to be an instrument which has been devised to silence the voice of one Legislature. Do not let it turn out that in carrying it into effect another Legislature is deprived of its privileges. That is what I wish to impress on the House tonight. I earnestly entreat Her Majesty's Ministers not to force us to any division upon this question. I ask them fairly to meet the points which I have placed before the House—that they will not merely by concurrence and co-operation, but by their leading agency, bring back the House to that path of public business from which they have, I think, so unfortunately deviated. I accuse the Government—I will not use the word "accuse," but I would impute to the Government in this matter nothing but inadvertence. It is, however, inadvertence which, if persisted in, will lead to great Parliamentary inconvenience, and ultimately, probably to great public injury. I maintain it is the right of the House of Commons that this Commercial Treaty with France should be submitted frankly by the Minister to our criticism and constitutional control. I maintain that if you persist in the course of business now recommended, all practical control over its provisions is lost. It is a question which concerns the privileges of this House, the freedom of debate, and all those considerations which, I trust, never will become party questions. I want Ministers to feel that they can take the line which I have indicated, not merely with honour but with dignity; for, Sir, I suppose the time has not yet come when an English Minister can feel that he is in a false position because he defers to the privileges of the House of Commons, and acknowledges the authority of Parliament.
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question in order to add the words 'this House does not think fit to go into Committee on the Customs Acts, with a view to the reduction or repeal of the Duties referred to in
the Treaty of Commerce between Her Majesty and the Emperor of the French, until it shall have considered and assented to, the engagements in that Treaty,' instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, in the Motion which he has proposed to-night, abandoning for the most part, though not with entire consistency, throughout his speech those most interesting and important topics of general interest which are connected with the financial propositions of the Government, has called our attention to a matter which, however important, is strictly a point of procedure; and I think, when we consider points of procedure, it is for the convenience of the House that we should, as far as possible, avoid general and collateral discussions. On that account, Sir, I must confess that I do not see the peculiar advantage of importing into this discussion on procedure the criticism which the right hon. Gentleman has tendered on the character and competency of Mr. Cobden. I did not think it was at all necessary for the purposes and for the dignity of this House that the right hon. Gentleman should commence his speech by an explanation—however interesting it might be to us who had not the privilege of being summoned last week to a particular assembly, held at the house of a noble Earl—of the grounds that had induced him to think better of the decision which was then apparently arrived at, and to explain the change of purpose and of procedure which has taken place on the other side of the House. On this head I must say I should have greatly complained of the right hon. Gentleman if we had been deprived of the prospect that is held out to us of a general and comprehensive debate on the Motion to be made by the hon. Member for Essex—than whom, if he will permit me to say so, there is no Gentleman on that side of the House, especially of his standing, to whom an important party Motion could better have been committed. I make no complaint of the right hon. Gentleman; I merely state the reasons why I shall pass by those portions of his speech. Neither shall I at this time enter into a discussion on the constitution of France, or the conditions on which the Deputies occupy seats in that Legislative Assembly. With the permission of the right hon. Gentleman, I shall venture to reserve any share I may 1376 take in that discussion, at any rate till we come to the second reading of the Reform Bill promised by my noble Friend.
I proceed to the question which has been raised by the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman; and, notwithstanding that the point is, I think, a narrow one, I at once admit that it is of great importance. And here I must beg to tender my thanks to the right hon. Gentleman. He says we have caused the Queen to commit an unconstitutional and illegal act, and that we are pursuing a course which may end in the invasion and abrogation of the privileges of the House of Commons. If this must be so, I must say that I never knew a better opportunity for a broad charge on the part of a leader of the Opposition; but such is the chivalrous conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, that, casting over us his protecting arm, he says—"I have no doubt at all this was done in pure inadvertence." That is really the finest example of the great duty to which some of us yesterday were particularly exhorted—I mean the duty of Christian charity—that I have ever seen exhibited in this House. I cannot accept the apology which the right hon. Gentleman has kindly made for us, any more than, on the part of the Government, I can accept the Motion which he has placed on the books, and which he thinks we might, not only with propriety, but "with dignity," accept. The dignity of the Government is a matter on which different Gentlemen in different situations may have different opinions; but I confess that if we have been guilty of a course involving the consequences mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman,—if we have gravely erred in our duty to the House of Commons, the best attitude which we can assume in seizing the helping hand which the right hon. Gentleman holds out to us, cannot be the attitude of those who claim an unsullied dignity, but is rather the situation of penitents dependent on an adversary for their existence. But I contend that the right hon. Gentleman is correct neither in his facts nor in his principles; and that the course which we have adopted is that which is dictated by general propriety, by a regard to the privileges of the House of Commons, and likewise by that which he has never mentioned, but which undoubtedly has been much in the minds of the Government—namely, a regard to the interests of those great branches of trade out of doors which are dependent on the result and despatch of our decision. 1377 I will give an instance or two to show what I mean by my allegations. The right hon. Gentleman says the Resolutions introduced by Mr. Pitt were essentially large and general, and totally incapable of forming the foundations of a financial measure. Here, Sir, is an enormous book from which we do not often quote directly, on account of its unmanageable size, but it contains the Resolutions proposed by Mr. Pitt, and the House will judge how far they are large and general.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not apprehend that Mr. Pitt is responsible for the publication of that day, whatever we may be for Hansard in ours. Here are the Resolutions: I think we may find in them a pretty large capital upon which to found a financial measure. I will take one as a fair example:—That it appears to this Committee to be expedient that the duty hereafter to be paid on vinegar of the produce or manufacture of the European dominions of the French King imported into this kingdom shall be at the rate of £32 18s. 10d. on every ton containing 252 gallons.Now, there is a specimen of a large and general Resolution incapable of forming the foundation of a financial measure. Give me that Resolution or Resolutions analogous to it, on the duties which we propose to the House, and you will soon see whether they are capable of forming the foundation of a financial measure. It was also said by the right hon. Gentleman—and I do not wish to quote him otherwise than with the utmost accuracy—that the treaty of Mr. Pitt contains no provisions other than those of a commercial character or relating to commercial duties. Why, the very second article of that treaty is one providing what shall happen with respect to personal safety and the security of the subjects of each Power resident in the dominions of the other in the event of war. That is neither a stipulation of commerce nor one of duty; and I quote it because it appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman amidst his researches has not had sufficient time to examine the instrument which he has taken the trouble to criticise. He says that after Mr. Pitt passed the Resolutions in Committee on the treaty, they were submitted to a Committee on Customs Acts. I beg the pardon of the right hon. Gentleman—they were submitted, not to a Committee on Customs 1378 Acts, but to a Committee on the simplification of the public accounts in their various branches, which, I venture to point out to the House, is quite another matter.
The next thing in which I think the right hon. Gentleman was entirely in error, and which requires but a single word from me, was with respect to the charge against the Government of having by their ill advice led the Crown to commit an unconstitutional and illegal act, by engaging not to exercise for a period of ten years the power which Parliament has put into the hands of the Crown with the evident intention that it should be exercised at any time during or beyond ten years, if sufficient occasion to justify it should arise—that is to say, we have stipulated not to prohibit the exportation of coal to France; whereas Her Majesty is authorized to prohibit by Proclamation or Order in Council the exportation, or even carrying coastwise, of arms, ammunition, gunpowder, military or naval stores, or any articles which may be deemed capable of being converted into munitions of war. And as that clause includes, or may, under certain circumstances, be held to include, coal as an article which is capable of being converted into munitions of war, the right hon. Gentleman says we have abandoned our right to prohibit the export of coal as a contraband article. I do not treat that as a misstatement of fact, because it may be a matter of opinion, and the right hon. Gentleman has a right to entertain his own opinion on the construction of the Treaty; but so far as dependence can be placed on the view of the Government, on the intention of the negotiators, whose careful consideration the Treaty long received, or on the best advice which was at our command, or which we have yet had the opportunity of receiving, this Treaty has no bearing whatever on any rights that either of the Powers may possess with respect to contraband of war. The power to export or to prohibit the exportation of coal as contraband of war, is as clear and entire, in the view of the Government, as it was before the treaty was signed. ["Hear!"] I am glad to see that I am cheered by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast (Sir H. Cairns)—it is rather unfortunate that he was the only Gentleman whom the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had the opportunity of consulting last night, or the matter might have been settled.
Passing from these points, which are 1379 collateral to the main issue, let me collect, if I can, into a short compass what I understand to be the main propositions of the right hon. Gentleman. He says that we have withdrawn the Treaty from the cognizance of the House, and that we have placed Parliament in such a position that it cannot exercise its due constitutional liberty of discussion; he says that we have done this in total abandonment of the precedent of Mr. Pitt; and he complains that we have committed a gross error by mixing up the Treaty with the financial arrangements for the year, which, ha says, ought to be kept sedulously apart; and, lastly, he expresses his wish that we could agree with dignity to the present Motion. I am bound to say that I feel great difficulty on the score of dignity; but, likewise—without any reference to that consideration—I feel the most conclusive objections to the Motion which the right hon. Gentleman has made. In the first place, I do not know what that Motion means; and I am, further, so rash and presumptuous as to express a belief that the right hon. Gentleman himself is equally ignorant of its meaning. For it seems to me that he declines to go into Committee on the Customs Acts till the House has assented to the engagements of the Treaty. What does the Resolution mean? If the right hon. Gentleman asks me what I mean by assenting to "the engagements of the Treaty," I can inform him. He entreats the House in the strongest manner, and with a most remarkable inversion of what, if not common sense, at least of what convenience dictates,—when you have one article of a general character, and another specific and precise in its terms, he asks you to take no notice of the article that can bear only one construction, and consider the article that, if it stood alone, might really raise some doubt as to the sense of the Treaty. We are told that the validity of the Treaty depends on the 20th Article, which says,—The present Treaty shall not he valid unless Her Britannic Majesty shall he authorized by the assent of Her Parliament to execute the engagements contracted by Her in the Articles of the present Treaty.But now turn to the 14th Article It says,—The present Treaty shall be binding for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland so soon as the necessary legislative sanction shall have been given by Parliament.That Article is perfectly specific; it defines 1380 completely the nature of the sanction of Parliament—the only sanction Parliament can give—that is, its legislative sanction. It is the 14th Article that requires for the present Treaty what Mr. Pitt required for his—the legislative sanction of Parliament. And if the right hon. Gentleman observes the construction of the Treaty, he will find that the engagements of Great Britain are contained in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and following Articles, and that before the 14th Article the special engagements of Great Britain terminate. Then the 14th Article explains in precise and distinct terms how the Treaty shall become binding for Great Britain—that is, as soon as the sanction of Parliament is given to it—its legislative sanction—by the final passing of an Act, by which alone that legislative authority can be conferred. Then, after the 14th Article, come the special French engagements; then the 20th, which says that the Treaty shall not be valid—that is, not valid for France—unless Parliament shall authorize the execution of those engagements. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by this Resolution? It says that the House ought not to go into Committee on the Customs Acts "until it shall have considered, and assented to, the engagements of the Treaty." What engagements? Does he think the House of Commons ought to assent first to the engagement as to the Customs' duties to be levied ad valorem in the French ports? I know not what idea the right hon. Gentleman has of the functions of Parliament and the Crown; but I deny his proposition. The power the constitution has reserved to Parliament is this—it has fully secured to the House of Commons the right of giving its legislative sanction to those parts of the Treaty which require that sanction to have any effect; next, the House has the power of expressing to the Crown its general opinion of any treaty, either as to the whole or as to part, by means of an Address; and, thirdly, it has the power, if it disapproves any treaty, of visiting the authors of it with condemnation. Does the right hon. Gentleman claim for Parliament any more than this? I cannot accede to his Resolution, for, if I interpret it grammatically, it asserts that the House is to pass a specific consent in detail to each Article in the Treaty. Does he mean this, or does he not? For although in his speech he diverged sufficiently into details, the right hon. Gentleman carefully avoided saying a single word in explanation of the Motion he has laid on the table of 1381 the House. Now, Sir, I contend that, so far from having withdrawn this Treaty from the cognizance of the House of Commons—so far from having abandoned the precedents of Mr. Pitt, we have founded our course of proceeding in every substantial particular upon those precedents, with due allowance for those changes of circumstances in the condition of the country, and in our own system of commerce, which have occurred since the time when Mr. Pitt was occupied with similar arrangements. What was the course taken by Mr. Pitt? He announced the treaty of 1786 in the Speech from the Throne, which wa9 not done on this occasion. Put the treaty of 1786 was signed four months before the opening of Parliament. And, considering that the right hon. Gentleman has held offices that have placed him in immediate contact with the trade and commerce of the country, I was a little surprised to hear him, on such a question, recommend a strict adherence to the letter of the precedents in the case of Mr. Pitt's treaty, in complete defiance of their spirit. Did it not occur to the right hon. Gentleman that a more absurd proposal could not be submitted to the House of Commons than that the Government should advise the Sovereign to execute a treaty of this kind—a treaty acting largely on the revenue, and still more largely on the trade and commerce of the country—and, by a mistaken adherence to former precedents, to allow an interval of several months to elapse between the publication of the treaty and that legislative sanction which alone can enable merchants and traders to act upon it? The right hon. Gentleman has vindicated the memory of Mr. Pitt. I hope the House does not suppose I wish to depreciate the great merits of that distinguished man; I entertain a strong sense of the extraordinary advancement in the general opinion and understanding of his time, and the great vigour displayed by Mr. Pitt in concluding that treaty. Let the opinion of the present operations with respect to our trade and commerce be what they may, we shall deserve little credit or honour compared with that due to Mr. Pitt, who, having to confront such a mass of prejudice, proposed to, and obtained the assent of, Parliament to so great a measure as his treaty with France. Well, Mr. Pitt mentioned that treaty in the Speech from the Throne; the present Treaty has not been so mentioned. Why not? Because it was not within our knowledge at the time 1382 Her Majesty was finally advised on the terms of that speech that the Treaty had been signed, much less ratified. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, out of veneration for Mr. Pitt, thinks we ought to have recommended to Parliament a treaty that had not been signed. Then the right hon. Gentleman says we ought to have made known this Treaty to the House of Commons by a Message from the Crown. On all points of Parliamentary lore we will freely submit to receive correction, if we have acted wrongly; but as to this Message from the Crown, such is not our impression. Of all the treaties of commerce we have made during the last century—treaties so numerous as to be almost innumerable—I do not recollect that any one was made known to this House by a Message from the Crown. There is, I admit, the case of the Treaty of Utrecht, which was so made known to the House of Commons; but it should be recollected that the commercial portion of that treaty formed part of a transaction involving a treaty of peace. And, with regard to treaties bearing on peace and war, and the vital condition of Europe, it is the practice that they should be made known to the House by a Royal Message. But whether we are right or wrong in having a treaty presented "by command" instead of by a Royal Message—which we should have hoard with our hats off, and that is the main point of difference between the two modes—how, I ask, does the mode of receiving the Treaty bear on the liberty and discretion of the House in discussing it? What can the House do in a reply to a Message from the Crown that it cannot do upon papers presented to it "by command?" Really the question is puerile! If we cannot present an Address on papers presented, cannot we pass Resolutions upon them and on those Resolutions found an Address? And then we shall have the advantage of a double debate—a debate on each Resolution, and another on the Address itself. The right hon. Gentleman complains that the time allowed to the House to consider the Treaty has been too small and scanty, and refers to the complaints made by Mr. Fox with respect to the time allowed by Mr. Pitt for the consideration of his treaty. I shall be very curious to hear, in the course of these discussions, up to what point the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to enforce the opinions of Mr. Fox as to the French treaty; but they are not very relevant to the present case, as 1383 they were not acted on or admitted by the House. I frankly admit we have taken a view of the necessity of despatch in this case that differs very widely from the view of Mr. Pitt on the same point; and I apprehend, were Mr. Pitt living now, amid the present development of our commercial system, he would not trouble his brain about the time and dates of the intervals between the different stages of his treaty, but rather would have considered the exigencies of the great interests involved, and would have proceeded in conformity with the answer which his enlightened intellect would have supplied. What, I should like to know, is the use of quoting Mr. Pox in the matter? Mr. Pox did not demand delay because be was not ready to go on with the discussion as to the duty which should be imposed on a particular kind of wine, but because he said France was our natural enemy, and that the measure of Mr. Pitt was one which struck at the root of the constitution of this country—or rather at the root of the power of the Executive in the conduct of its relations with foreign Powers. Basing his opposition upon that ground, no doubt he was perfectly justified in asking for delay. Not so, however, the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who seeks to pursue the phantom of delay in imitation of Mr. Fox, though be is wanting in the motives which lent Mr. Fox's objection substance and meaning. Well, Mr. Pitt proposed a Committee of the Whole House on the commercial treaty with France; and Her Majesty's present advisers, after maturely considering the question whether they should take the same course, came to the conclusion that Mr. Pitt was perfectly right in the form which he gave to his proceeding, but that they would have been absolutely wrong if, under the influence of a blind superstition, they had adopted the same form under a state of circumstances entirely different. I may perhaps be treading on tender ground in dealing with the forms of this House, but the view we took of the matter was this, that Mr. Pitt's legislation was a legislation in favour of French produce; that the terms of his treaty were literally represented in the Resolutions which he submitted to the House of Commons, and that it was therefore competent to him to take the course which be adopted. But now let mo ask whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks it would be consistent with the public welfare or convenience, or with what I may now call the universal 1384 opinion of the House—for the right hon. Gentleman has to-night avowed that Free Trade principles are very good principles—that we should have come before Parliament and proposed an exclusive legislation in favour of French products? Every hon. Member's good sense must supply him with the ready answer to such a question—that such a course would be quite impossible. Yet that was the only course which was open to us if we had proposed a Committee of the Whole House on the Treaty with France. We could not have asked the House to go into Committee on the Treaty, and then in that Committee enter into questions of commercial legislation which are beyond its scope. We could not ask you to go into Committee on the subject of French wines, and then call upon you to sanction a Resolution which never mentions French wines at all, but deals with the wines of all countries alike, making them all the subject of great remissions of duty. I now want to know who are they who act in reality in the spirit of Pitt? He was a statesman who endeavoured to push forward the commerce of the country by great and enlightened changes in her laws; and in order to effect that object he took a course which I believe to have been entirely in conformity with Parliamentary law and precedent. We are endeavouring—I shall not say to compare ourselves with him, for of Mr. Pitt it may indeed be said with truth, Nec viget quidquam simile aut secundum,—but, following up the work which he was among the first to begin, we, too, seek to accomplish something in the same direction. It was with that view that, as Mr. Pitt proposed to the House to resolve itself into that Committee that could deal with the matter, we propose to you that you should resolve yourselves into a Committee competent to deal with the subject-matter which we had to submit to your notice with the utmost freedom. We, in short, have sought to act in accordance with the spirit of Mr. Pitt's policy, and not regarding it from an antiquarian point of view, to snatch at its dry form as you in your blind superstition—["Oh, oh!"] I ask your pardon, and will use a phrase less exceptionable—your pardonable error would have us do, wasting your ingenuity, and eloquence, and declamations in the endeavour to impress upon our notice what is, after all, but the mere letter of this ancient formula, in contempt of its spirit. I have pointed out to you the course which was taken by Mr. Pitt. The House of 1385 Commons at his invitation went into Committee on the French treaty: and what did he then propose? Precisely that which we are going to propose; he did not submit the engagements of his treaty for the assent of Parliament, for he knew his duty as a constitutional Minister too well to place the clauses of the treaty in the hands of the Speaker or of the Clerk at the table, and ask the House to come to a decision upon them. He did not hold the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that, although the Queen may make a treaty on paper, it rests with Parliament to ratify its provisions. [Mr. DISRAELI: I used the language of Mr. Pitt as given in Hansard.] Then I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that there is a wide difference between the language of Mr. Pitt and his acts, and I should very much doubt whether Mr. Pitt ever held a principle on which he did not act. It is not a little remarkable that he should have propagated such a doctrine as the right hon. Gentleman ascribes to him at the very moment when, having invited the attention of a Committee of the House of Commons to the treaty with France, he submitted to the consideration of that Committee no portions of the treaty except those which absolutely required legislative sanction. We, acting upon the spirit of his 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; for that, if the right hon. Gentleman had permitted us to take the course which we do-sired to follow, would have been the direct effect of our proceeding. 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. If there be such an Article, it is one of doubtful construction—that with respect to trade patterns. Now, if I understand the right hon. Gentleman opposite—and I am very anxious to ascertain his meaning correctly—he seems to look upon it as a great offence that Ministers should advise their Sovereign to enter into a treaty, and include in its provisions matters requiring legislative sanction, and does not thereon ask the assent of Parliament. Let mo remind him, however, that there have been Ministers so insensible to their duty as to have contracted engagements with foreign Powers requiring direct legislative sanction, and who—I suppose it was all through 1386 inadvertence—forgot to ask legislative sanction to those engagements at all. The last example of such conduct on the part of a Government which has occurred within my knowledge, was when a treaty was entered into between Her Majesty and a northern Power, by the 20th Article of which, the high contracting parties being desirous to secure each within its own dominion protection against fraud in the case of certain manufactured articles, Her Britannic Majesty engaged to recommend to Parliament to adopt the measures which might be required to accomplish-that object; and I am sorry to be obliged to add that the Government which advised the Sovereign to cuter into this engagement—and who were aware at the time, as we all knew, that the law was insufficient to effect the object—were so forgetful of their duty as never to have come to Parliament at all to ask its assent to the treaty, not only when they laid it on the table—for they did net send it by message—but at any period during their continuance in office. And, most of all, am I sorry to say that the Government which was guilty of that monstrous dereliction of duty was the Government which the right hon. Gentleman opposite led in the House of Commons. But, to return to the proceeding of Mr. Pitt with respect to the treaty, there are, I admit, some portions of it which, up to this moment, we have not imitated. They, however, lie in the future; and if the right hon. Gentleman will but have a little patience he will find that as up to this hour, so at every future stage of this Treaty, it is our earnest desire to conform to the spirit which has always regulated proceedings of this nature.
The right hon. Gentleman says, that in Mr. Pitt's case the House of Commons was called upon, after voting the Resolutions on the French treaty to express an opinion upon the treaty as a whole, and to state that opinion in the form of an Address. That is perfectly true, and the Government are, I apprehend, entirely free to take that course; but Mr. Pitt, be it observed, did not announce it to be his intention to take any such course to the House of Commons until they had given their assent to the great stipulations of the treaty in detail. Whether it was that be thought it would appear to interfere with the liberty of the House on each of those Stipulations, or for what reason, I know not, but, so far as we are able to learn, the House was invited to vote upon the 1387 details of the treaty without even having been informed that it was the intention of the Government after the details had been adopted to take its opinion on the treaty as a whole; and, therefore, if we have erred on this point, it has been through a too rigid adherence to the precedent of Mr. Pitt. But as the right hon. Gentleman is so anxious to be assured that in some shape or other the House shall have an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the specific engagements of this Treaty, I have no hesitation in stating that it is the intention of the Government if the House shall think fit to adopt those specific enactments requiring legislative sanction, fairly to submit the Treaty to the House, and to ask the opinion of the House upon it as a whole. And, let mo add, we do not intend to do it as supposing it to be necessary in order to fulfil the terms of the Treaty that require the legislative sanction of Parliament, because we bold distinctly that the only mode in which Parliament strictly can give its assent to a treaty is by giving effect to the stipulations it contains which require legislation. A Parliament cannot assent to a treaty. Parliament is a fluctuating body. The King never dies, but Parliament does; and you could not in any formal way bind Parliament to any terms of a treaty; Parliament might be dissolved to-morrow, and a directly opposite vote might be given by that which succeeded it. It is not, therefore, to enable Parliament to assent to the terms of the Treaty in any formal or judicial sense that we shall ask its opinion, but to add all the moral weight we can obtain to the instrument in order to make it fulfil all the great purposes for which it is intended.
I have detained the Committee longer than I had intended, and I have but one word to add on the charge of the right hon. Gentleman. He thinks he has lighted upon a great godsend when he finds that Mr. Pitt separated his treaty from his Budget, and be points out with exultation the regularity of Mr. Pitt's course. But he did not state it correctly. First of all, he says, there was a Committee on the treaty, then a Committee on the Customs Acts, (Mr. Pitt's proposal was to simplify the Customs Acts), and then, said the right hon. Gentleman, you had the Budget. Here, then, is the meaning of the commotion of the right hon. Gentleman. The real sin the Government have been guilty of is that they have combined the Treaty and the Budget in one. Very 1388 good. What ought they to have done? It is very easy to point out inconvenience in any course that may be adopted in carrying out a great and complicated subject. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: Hear, hear!] But I want to know what course should have been taken by the wisdom of Parliament, as represented by that hon. Gentleman who has just cheered. What construction has been put on our procedure by the right hon. Gentleman who made this Motion? I understand him and the right hon. Gentleman who made the Motion to say that we ought to have separated the provisions of the treaty, and the discussions on them from the financial arrangements of the year—that is, in the beginning of February we ought to have released French wines from duty by resolution; we ought to have reduced the duty on French spirits by resolution, and we ought to have repealed a great number of other duties on articles coming from France. Are hon. Gentlemen opposite aware of the usage of this House, now confirmed for a considerable number of years, that when duties are reduced the reduced duties take effect immediately after the Resolution has been reported to the House? Surely, after the profound and deliberate consideration of the question of procedure by the right hon. Gentleman, that must have been taken into account. I presume he would not have inflicted on importers and traders the penalty of hanging up this mutter for some months? Very well; the upshot of this procedure would have been—you would have legislated to reduce duties on French wines and spirits and on other articles by resolution; that resolution would have taken effect in the usual manner at the Custom House the morning after they were passed by the House; and for three or four months we should have had what must have gladdened the heart of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Newdegate), but, perhaps, after his declaration to-night, would not have gladdened the heart of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) by a perfect revival of differential duties in all their deformity or beauty—call it what you will; and French wines would have been admitted at 3s. per gallon, while Spanish wines would have been paying 5s. 8d., and French spirits would have been admitted at the reduced rate, while Dutch spirits would have continued to pay the highest duty. As this is, I believe, the first night the right hon. Gentleman has boldly de- 1389 clared that the principles of free trade are very good principles, I am very sorry at this his first essay on his mode of giving effect to those principles. In point of fact, Sir, our defence for mixing the Treaty and the Budget may he comprised in two sentences. We considered, in the first place, exclusive legislation entirely out of the question. That is one of the principles I want to see tested by the vote of to-night. That was our first principle; the second was one that had reference simply and exclusively to public convenience. We were about to propose to Parliament that it should give its sanction to a treaty with France that involved remissions of duty to an extent little short of £2,000,000. and a surrender for the year of revenue to an extent somewhat cxceeding£l,000,000. Now, Sir, I want to know what would have been the position of the Government if they had come down to Parliament, not in this special year 1860, but in any year, stating we ask you to remit taxes to nearly £2,000,000, and to surrender revenue above £1,000,000, but we will not tell you yet what are to be the financial arrangements of the year. That is the justification of our combining the Treaty and the Budget; and I am certain that this House will not fail for a moment to sec the sufficiency of that justification. Nay more, I venture to say this, had the right hon. Gentleman himself been Minister at the time; had he made this Commercial Treaty with France—for he is a great admirer of commercial treaties with France—had he been Minister, and had he made this Treaty, the force of circumstances, the force of reason, the fear of resistance, the fear even of ridicule, would have prevented him from proposing to the House to commit itself to proposals vitally affecting the revenue of the year, and at the same time telling the House of Commons that the financial arrangements were not to be considered in connection therewith. That is, I think, enough to show that under the form of raising a question of procedure and rectifying the mistake which the Government has committed, it is to be charitably presumed, the right hon. Gentleman says, through inadvertence, he proposes to us not only to rectify an error, but to commit an error of the grossest kind, and one which, if it ever entered into our intention to commit, the House of Commons would have speedily rectified in an unmistaken able form, by expressing its sense of the folly of our proceedings.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
Sir, if any Member of the House could, by the liveliness of his imagination, make us forget the actual facts of the case as they lie plainly before us, that man is the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But I would ask you for one short moment to return from the great fancy he has displayed and actually to consider what is the point to be answered by him, and which, I submit with confidence to the House, has not in any way been met. I listened with some patience to hear from the right hon. Gentleman what explanation he would give with regard to those clauses in the Treaty which do point to the power and interference of Parliament; and, although he read at the commencement of his speech the two clauses which refer to the interference of Parliament, I was somewhat amazed to hear at the end that all these clauses mean, with the exception of the reduction of Customs' duty, is to give some moral weight to the Commercial Treaty entered into with France, and that in point of constitutional law the House has nothing to do with the Treaty but to sanction the alteration of Customs' duties, I want to test that doctrine, and I shall do so within the shortest possible compass. There are two articles in this Treaty, and I will not go beyond them, on which I will join issue with the right hon. Gentleman. One of them, you may say, is a comparatively unimportant one, and, as the right hon Gentleman himself admitted, is somewhat difficult to understand. Well, I should say, for the authors of the Treaty, it is rather early to admit that any of the articles are difficult to understand. One of the two articles relates to trade marks and copyrights of design. I say it is quite impossible you could give effect to an Article relating to copyrights of design without an Act of Parliament. This stipulation requires the sanction of the House of Commons; how can the right hon. Gentleman obtain that assent in Committee on the Customs Acts? But I come to what is a much more important Article, as to which I look for a very different answer from that just received. I took the liberty the other night of calling the attention of the House to that Article of the Treaty—the eleventh—with' regard to coal. I pointed out that the Crown had a power, conferred by Parliament—an absolute power—to prohibit the exportation of coal, whether in time of war or the imminency of war, and that this power conferred by Parliament could not be surren- 1391 dered by the Crown or be advised to be surrendered without the assent of Parliament. Now, what answer did the right hon. Gentleman make to that? He said, "We considered it very carefully; and we came to the conclusion that this part of the Treaty does not in any way touch the article of contraband of war, and therefore docs not require the assent of Parliament." I ask, who ever talked of contraband of war? I certainly never said a word about it, nor did my right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli); and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not know the difference between contraband of war and the right of prohibiting certain exports, with great humility I would say, the sooner he studies it the better. Contraband of war has nothing on earth to do with this question; and, if the right hon. Gentleman has been advised that this article does not touch contraband of war, I entirely agree with the advice that has been given to him. In truth contraband of war is the common term used in reference to the proclamation made by a belligerent Power as to what articles it will seize if it finds them in neutral ships. But the right now under discussion is a right vested in the Sovereign by Act of Parliament, not a belligerent right. The Crown possesses it for two purposes—first, to prevent supplies of an important article from going to those who are or may become our enemies; and next, to enable the Sovereign in times of extremity, when naval stores may be essential to the salvation or the success of this country, to take care that we are amply provided with them. Do the Government mean to say that a power intrusted by Act of Parliament to the Crown can be surrendered by the Crown without the consent of the body which gave it? The Chancellor of the Exchequer certainly did not advance such a doctrine. He met the argument by merely saying—what nobody controverts—that the 11th Article of this Treaty does not touch contraband of war. Here, then, without going any further, are two engagements in this Treaty which I maintain it is the privilege of this House to consider, and give either its assent or its refusal to. The simple question I desire to ask is, when and in what form of proceeding that privilege is to be exercised? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that the very next day after we agree to the Resolutions in the Customs Act, they will he acted upon by the authorities of the Customhouse; and it is a well-ascertained practice for this House never to withdraw from a Resolu- 1392 tion which it has so passed. Why, that is our very case, and it is the plainest case in the world. You admit that wherever the assent of Parliament is necessary for the engagements in a Treaty, that assent must be given in some form or other. There are two articles here which require that assent. It cannnot be given in a Committee on the Customs Act, but must be given in some subsequent proceeding. In the meantime, however, you are going into a Committee on the Customs Act, and to ask us to pass Resolutions which are immediately to be acted upon, and from which you cannot afterwards withdraw. The result is this,—if the House should afterwards refuse its assent to those parts of the Treaty which do not affect the Customs' revenue, you will have repealed the duties—you will have done the mischief, and you cannot go back. The House of Commons will have refused its assent to those engagements of the Treaty, which require its assent to give them effect, and yet you will have lost your revenue. The right hon. Gentleman says, "We ask you to go into Committee on the Customs Act, not as Mr. Pitt proposed to go into Committee on the French Treaty;" and his reason for that is that "the modifications of duty to be made in Committee are modifications on the produce, not of France, but of all countries." But the fact cannot be disputed that it is by treaty with Franco that you have hound yourselves to recommend to Parliament to repeal or reduce the duties on the manufactures and produce of all nations. Therefore, if you go into Committee on the French Treaty, according to the precedent followed by Mr. Pitt, the Treaty will be strictly within the province of the Committee, and the stipulation respecting the remission of duties, no matter what country the produce subject to them comes from, will be legitimately before it. And here I must say the Chancellor of the Exchequer can hardly remember his own Resolutions; for although he tells us that in the Committee on the Customs Act no mention is to be made of the French Treaty, but the whole question will be dealt with as a general reduction or repeal of the duties on the goods of all nations, I find that in one part of his Resolution he speaks of articles which are to be "free of duty under treaty." Yet he now says it would be foreign to the business of the Committee on the Customs Act to allude to the French Treaty, or to look upon the 1393 remission as applicable to French produce. The course taken by Mr. Pitt under similar circumstances is, I contend, the only convenient course that can be adopted in the present case to give the House the power of discussing these questions. He proposed that the Speaker should leave the chair, in order that the House might go into Committee on the French Treaty. No doubt Mr. Pitt in Committee moved only such Resolutions as he thought necessary to carry out the objects of the Government; but it was perfectly competent for every member of that Committee to discuss any term of the French Treaty, and propose any Resolution he pleased, approving or condemning it. That is exactly the difference between our position now and that in which Mr. Pitt placed the House. If we go into Committee to-night, or on any subsequent evening, on the Customs Act—and here I speak under Mr. Speakers correction—it will not be competent for any Member to enter into the general policy of the French Treaty. I even doubt whether it will not be irrelevant to mention the Treaty at all; but it certainly will not be competent for—and the Chairman will not allow—any Member to propose a Resolution expressing an opinion on the whole or part of that Treaty. We demand, then, on the part of the House of Commons, some proceeding—no matter what, provided it is practical and convenient—by which we shall have this Treaty fairly presented before us, and that we may not be entangled—though I acquit the Government of any intentional desire to entangle us—into an approval of its stipulations in the shape of a Resolution on the Customs Act. I fully admit the importance to trade of expedition and certainty in this matter; but I demand what is even more important than the interests of trade—the observance and retention of one of the most valuable privileges of the House of Commons. If any undue delay has arisen the Government have themselves to thank for it; because if they had pursued a course that would have given this House the means and opportunity of expressing its opinion on this Treaty and all its details, they might to-night, in place of asking us to go into Committee on the Customs Act, have asked the House to consider a similar resolution to that proposed by Mr. Pitt on the French Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman says it is utterly contrary to practice to bring down any treaty with a foreign Power in the shape 1394 of a Message from the Crown, and such, he thinks, has not been the usage for many years past. I ask the Government, can they produce any example of the bringing down of a treaty of commerce to the House of Commons, which required its approval in order to give it validity, without accompanying that treaty either with a Message from the Crown, or without introducing it by the Speech from the Throne? The right hon. Gentleman produced nothing of the kind; and the only case which with all his diligence he could find was the treaty concluded with Russia in 1859, which, he says, was laid on the table of the House, and the provisions of which the Government so far forgot that it did not ask the House of Commons to give effect to one of the articles which required its intervention. The 20th Article of the Treaty with Russia, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, is as follows. And here again the right hon. Gentleman has fallen into an entire mistake:—The High Contracting Parties being desirous to secure, each within its own dominions, complete and effectual protection against fraud for the manufactures of the other, have agreed that any piracy or fraudulent imitation in one of the two countries of the manufacturers' or tradesmen's marks originally affixed, bonâ fide, to goods produced in the other, in attestation of their origin and quality, shall be strictly prohibited and repressed. Her Britannic Majesty engages to recommend to Her Parliament to adopt such measures as may be required to enable Her to give the more complete execution to the stipulations of this Article.There is nothing there declaring that the Treaty shall not be binding till Parliament has legislated. But in the present instance the Treaty provides that it shall take effect only as soon as the necessary recognition shall have been given to it by Parliament; and in another part it is stated that it shall not be valid unless Her Britannic Majesty is authorized by the assent of Her Parliament to execute the engagements contracted under the Articles of the Treaty. I say, then, that the Amendment before the House is one that ought to be adopted. We do not ask for any delay, hut we want to have an opportunity of discussing this question. We are quite prepared for its discussion; but we cannot discuss the French Treaty upon Resolutions moved in Committee on the Customs Act, nor upon the Bills introduced in pursuance of those Resolutions. We may discuss it on some future day, if you propose to address the Crown with reference to the Treaty. But what will be the consequence? We 1395 may differ from the Government in respect to the Treaty. We may approve certain parts of it, or we may object to this, that, and the other engagement. We may think it requires some of the modifications which scores of petitions presented to-night beg and pray for, and then the Government may say, "What! modify this Treaty after you have repealed £1,800,000 of Customs' duties! What did you remit those duties for? Was it not to give effect to this Treaty?" They may also say, "Has not this Treaty already cost you £1,800,000 of revenue? Don't you mean to adopt it after that?" That would be a plausible argument, and one which I dare say it would be most convenient for a Government to urge; but, on behalf of the privileges of this House, I submit a different argument. I ask that this House may not be put in that position, and that we may have the means of expressing a free and unfettered opinion on this Treaty before we can be told that the revenue of the country has been already given away. I submit that there could be no delay. It is in the power of the Government within a few days to bring down a Message, within a few days to go into Committee, and within a few days to obtain the opinion of the Committee and of the House upon those parts of the Treaty which are not mere reductions of Customs' duties; and then, when they find that there is nothing in the Treaty which is not approved and assented to by the House, with the exception of the Customs' duties, then, and not till then, let them ask us to go into Committee upon those duties. We shall then know that if the Customs' duties are dealt with as the Treaty proposes it will be complete as far as the House of Commons is concerned; and we shall not be told at the end, when we come to discuss the parts relating to those duties, that we are practically forbidden to discuss them, because the whole of the Treaty has been acted upon and acknowledged by Parliament.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Sir, after the most eloquent, and, I may say, crushing speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is hardly necessary that anything more should be said in defence of the course taken by the Government; and when my hon. and learned Friend got up, I really thought that he had risen to redeem the promise given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, that if 1396 a pledge were given that an opportunity should be afforded to the House for the discussion of this Treaty, the object of his Motion would be fully answered. My hon. and learned Friend, however, used arguments and stated propositions, which are so entirely alien to the mistaken representations contained in the address of the right hon. Gentleman that—as, indeed, we might have expected from the account given by the right hon. Gentleman, that this Motion was the joint production of their consultation at a late hour on Friday evening last—there has been the most complete consistency between the errors of the one and those of the other. In fact, I have seldom heard more erroneous propositions brought forward than those which were advanced in the few sentences which have just fallen from my hon. and learned Friend. He tells us that it is inexpedient to discuss the Resolutions upon the Customs' duties, because, if the Treaty is not afterwards confirmed, there will be a gratuitous loss of revenue. My hon. and learned Friend, able as he is as a lawyer, is probably not so conversant with the practice at the Custom-house. All who are familiar with the transaction of business by that Department are aware that, although a remission of duty takes effect in favour of the trader, from the moment a Resolution is passed by this House, it is accompanied by this safeguard, that the payer of the reduced duty is required to give an undertaking to pay the full amount in case Parliament should not ratify the Resolution by passing the necessary statute. Therefore we may discuss these Resolutions without any apprehension of the danger which has been paraded by my hon. and learned Friend. Again, we are told that you will have no opportunity of discussing the Treaty in discussing the Resolutions on the Customs Acts. That, I humbly submit, is a very great error indeed. It is only necessary for the House to bear in mind why it was requisite for Her Majesty to introduce into the Treaty the clauses with reference to the assent of Parliament; and I may be permitted to say that in all these matters it is most essential that the proper line of the prerogative on the one side, and of the right of Parliament on the other, should be strictly observed and acted upon. The necessity for coming to Parliament is simply this—that the Queen proposes to enter into stipulations which are at present at variance with the provisions of Acts of Parliament, 1397 and cannot, therefore, be entered into, except subject to the assent and approbation of Parliament. It must always be recollected that so far as the Treaty deals with matters requiring legislative interposition, so far it is submitted to the necessary antecedent assent of Parliament; but those matters which are within the power and within the ordinary prerogative of the Crown are not submitted to that assent. It is the right of Parliament to criticize them, to express an opinion upon them, to censure those who have advised the Crown; but all those things which do not militate against the established law, are within the limit of the ordinary prerogative of the Crown, and they are not submitted for the antecedent assent of Parliament. My hon. and learned Friend made some very great mistakes with regard to two matters, the dealing with which by this Treaty he said required the antecedent assent of Parliament. First, with regard to the trifling subject of trademarks. [Sir H. CAIRNS: Not trade-marks; patterns for designs.] Trade marks require no assent. [Sir H. CAIRNS: I said so.] Certainly, with regard to patterns of de-signs, there was no necessity for coming to Parliament at all; nor is there with regard to trade-marks. This is a stipulation introduced at the expense of the foreigner, and for the benefit of England; and with regard to which, therefore, Her Majesty was rightly advised that it was not necessary to make any recommendations to Parliament whatever. The effect of the Article is entirely at variance with what the hon. and learned Gentleman supposes. It is a concession made by a foreign Power for the benefit of the English trader, not a stipulation at the expense of the English trader, which the Queen would he obliged to ask Parliament to sanction and carry into effect. He was just as much in error with regard to the 16th and 17th of the Queen, the Customs Act, which gives to the Crown the right to prohibit, under certain circumstances, the exportation of all articles which may be judged capable of being converted into or made useful in increasing the quantity of Military or Naval Stores. Now, the military and naval stores which are there referred to are the military and naval stores of Great Britain, not those of a foreign country. This prohibitive power is not a statutory prohibition—it is a power given to the Crown; it is not a direction. It is matter of prerogative and right of the Crown, which is made subject to the arbitrium and determination of the Crown, 1398 and with regard to which, therefore, the Queen may most properly enter into any contract contained in this Treaty, for in so doing she acts within the limit and verge of the authority given to Her, and She wants no further Parliamentary sanction or authority whatever. With regard, therefore, to both these two matters which have been superadded to the other erroneous grounds of argument in defence of this Motion, I can only say that there has been community and identity of error between the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. and learned Friend. Let me now refer the House to the assertion that we cannot discuss the Treaty in discussing the Resolutions which are intended to be proposed in the Committee upon the Customs Acts. I beg the House to observe that those Resolutions are introduced simply because it is necessary to propose to the House of Commons an alteration of the law having reference to this very Treaty. When, therefore, you are asked to alter the law with reference to the Treaty you have before you the whole ground and reason upon which you are asked to alter the law, and may properly discuss it. The first Resolution which will be put into the hands of the Chairman for altering the existing law with a view to the reduction of a duty being a proposition with reference to this very Treaty, the whole Treaty, as a matter of Parliamentary cognizance, comes into the field, and you have a right to consider the propriety, expediency, and polity of that Treaty, as a whole, with reference to the law which you are requested to alter. It is impossible, therefore, to devise any mode in which there will be more constant, necessary, and legitimate reference to the Treaty than that of proceeding by these Resolutions. In point of fact, any other mode' of proceeding would have been an anomaly and a contradiction, which would have involved those who proposed it in the greatest absurdity; for how in the world can you discuss a treaty when the existing law forbids you to carry it into effect? How could we have proposed any Address or made any humble representation to Her Majesty upon this subject until we had first considered the propriety of revoking and repealing those laws which stand in the way of the consideration of the Treaty? The only proper and legitimate mode of proceeding was to call the attention of the House of Commons to the fact that the existing law was at variance with the provisions of the Treaty, and to give the House 1399 of Commons an opportunity of considering the propriety of repealing that law in order to allow the introduction of the articles specified in the Treaty. A more correct form of procedure could not have been adopted than that adopted by the Government in the present instance. You are asked to consider the law. Why? Because it interferes with the Treaty. If you are satisfied to accept the Treaty as a sufficient ground for altering your law, you will remove the law out of the way of the Treaty, and, having taken away all impediment to the full affirmance and confirmation of the Treaty, you may proceed to enable the Crown to enter into engagements conclusively, which are now, to some extent, only conditional. I could not have thought that a great party would have occupied itself with a mere exercise of idle ingenuity. In fact, one epithet which I have heard used appears to me a most correct designation of the course which that great party has thought fit to adopt—it is a puerile proceeding. It has been held up to us as the result of grave and mature councils, but I hope that in future those councils will be directed rather to the forwarding than to the retarding, by such subtleties, of the great business of the nation, and that we shall find those disposed to enter into the great arena of proper discussion which is now open to the House of Commons, namely, the propriety and advantage of this Treaty, every part of which will be before you when you are invited to consider the propriety of altering the law in order to carry the Treaty into effect.
§ SIR FITZROY KELLY
said, that the Members on his side of the House were greatly obliged to his hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down for his advice. He would venture, in return, to advise his hon. and learned Friend that, before he vouchsafed to instruct others in the construction of the Treaty, he should himself look to its terms and make himself master of its clauses. If he (Sir F. Kelly) had been surprised at the terms in which some of the clauses were framed, he was still more surprised to hear the construction put upon this Treaty by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a construction which the Attorney General did not attempt to allude to. The question was, what was the true construction of the 7th, 14th, and 20th clauses of the Treaty? It was rather remarkable that whoever may have been the framers of this Treaty, they appear to have gone on from one con- 1400 fusion to another, introducing a reservation in the 7th clause, afterwards referred to in the 14th clause, making the effect of the Treaty conditional as regards the United Kingdom, without reference to what followed in the 20th Article, which made the whole Treaty dependent upon the sanction to it, as a whole, of the Legislature of this country. The effect of that 20th Article would be, that the Treaty would be invalid from beginning to end, and would be binding upon neither Sovereign, nor upon the subjects of either country, till the whole Treaty in its entirety was sanctioned by Act of Parliament. The 20th Article said, "the present Treaty shall not be valid," not that it might be modified or varied, but that it should not be valid "unless Her Britannic Majesty shall be authorized by the assent of Her Parliament to execute the engagements contracted by her in the Articles of the present Treaty." He need not say that there was only one way by which Parliament could signify its assent, and that was by an Act of the Imperial Legislature. Upon referring back to the 14th Article, he found it provided that "the present Treaty shall be binding upon the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland so soon as the necessary legislative sanction shall have been given by Parliament, with the reserve made in Article VI. respecting wines." The effect of those two Articles, save as to the reservation in the 7th Article, was not that the Treaty would become invalid, but that, in fact, it should not be valid at all until it received the sanction of the Legislature. And now as to the course which the Government were disposed to adopt. They said they were following the precedent established by the treaty of 1787, and the course then recommended to Parliament by Mr. Pitt. He (Sir F. Kelly) considered, on the contrary, that they were departing from every precedent in existence. They proposed at present to lay aside the Treaty, but to deal with its provisions in Committee on the Customs Acts. Now, let him call the attention of the House to what might be the effect of this most unprecedented course. Every one knew that as soon as a remission of duty was determined upon in Committee on the Custom Acts, the immediate effect was that the duty, for all practical purposes, was remitted and repealed. Now, see the effect of this. If no opposition was made to the Motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair, in Committee a Resolution would be pro- 1401 posed by the Government to give effect to the 6th Article of the Treaty, which provided that the duty on French wines be reduced to 3s. per gallon. If that Resolution was carried, the duty upon foreign wines would be reduced from that very hour, as if an Act of Parliament was passed for that purpose—indeed, even at the present moment the merchants were asking the Government to allow a drawback upon the stocks they held. Now, supposing that Resolution was carried, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would proceed step by step to propose Resolutions ultimately to give effect to the whole of the Resolutions in the order in which they at present appeared. He would take the 11th Article of the Treaty, by which the two Powers engage not to prohibit the exportation of coal. Suppose the sense of the House to be taken with regard to this Article; suppose the Government to propose to the House a Resolution in conformity with this Article; there was nothing improbable in the supposition that the House, however disposed it might be to yield to a relaxation of the duty on wine, might pause before they consented to the stipulation not to prohibit the exportation of coal. He said that however the House might be led away by the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman, sooner or later they must come to the consideration of what was the legal construction of the 14th and 20th Articles. Whether by Message from the Crown or not, certainly in some way or other—whether they took the Treaty step by step, clause by clause, line by line, or not, the Treaty in its entirety must be sooner or later submitted to the consideration of the House, he begged the House to consider in what situation the Government, the House, and the Queen herself would be placed, if this Treaty came before either House, Parliament having before expressed its disapprobation of one of its clauses. Then with regard to the 14th Article, which provides that the Treaty shall be binding for the United Kingdom only so soon as the necessary legislative sanction shall have been given by Parliament, he should be glad to know what course the Government would advise Her Majesty to take in case of the refusal of that legislative sanction to some one of the Articles? He would further beg to refer to one or two other Articles which express what Her Majesty bad agreed to. She had not contracted to do what the Government were now doing—namely, at once to propose to Parliament 1402 to repeal certain duties. By the 20th Article the Treaty was to be of no validity unless Her Majesty shall be authorized to execute the same by Act of Parliament. Then, when the Treaty comes into operation, it is to become obligatory on Her Majesty, and then She is to propose to Parliament to repeal the import duties on French wines by Article VI. If so, was the Treaty to be performed by Her Majesty while it was yet uncertain whether the Treaty would ever come into operation or not? If any one adverse vote should be registered by the House, it would then be impossible to adopt the Treaty, inasmuch as it contained no provisions for modification or substitution in case of any Article or stipulation being rejected by Parliament. If it should turn out that the disapprobation of Parliament should be expressed, or any rejection of a vote should take place in the way in which the Treaty was now proposed to be laid before Parliament, Her Majesty would then be in this singular position, that whilst she would have undertaken to propose to Parliament to sanction the reduction of certain duties, the Treaty under which that undertaking was made would be no longer binding upon her. The consequence would be that in such a state of things Her Majesty would be completely paralyzed. The Treaty of 1787 contained no such clause as that which makes this Treaty conditional upon the sanction of Parliament. No doubt it never could have been adopted in this country without the aid of Parliament, but it was not at every step of its progress exposed to the risk of being negatived by some adverse vote. He asked whether it was possible for the House to take a course which was more fraught with danger than that which they were now taking, when they considered—and he supposed the Government did sometimes consider—that there was another branch of the Legislature, and that the sanction of the House of Lords must be given to every clause of this Treaty. The House of Lords might differ from that House in some matter not of finance, and then the whole Treaty must be rejected. By so framing the Treaty that it must be accepted or rejected as a whole, the Government had placed themselves in this inconvenient position that they were obliged now to propose to Parliament to go on vote by vote, though the disapproval of any part of the Treaty by either House would cause the whole Treaty to fall to the ground. If the course proposed by the Government should 1403 be persisted in, the House would be soon involved in a state of confusion and difficulty from which even the ingenuity of the Chancellor of the Exchequer would entirely fail to extricate it, and which might most injuriously affect the interests of this great commercial community. He said then that this Treaty, if it be properly called a Treaty, should have been submitted, as that of Mr. Pitt was, in the first instance, to the sanction of Parliament. And here he was bound to say that in the remarks his hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney General, had thought fit to make upon the prerogative of the Crown, his hon. and learned Friend knew the law too well not to know that he was trifling with the House. What, was it to be said for one moment that it was competent to Her Majesty to barter away her prerogative to a foreign Power without the consent of her Parliament? He hoped he should never see the day when that doctrine would be upheld by any Member of that House, especially by so distinguished a lawyer as his hon. and learned friend. He begged to apologize for having detained the House upon what might perhaps be considered a technical question; but feeling the vast importance of the question, and how deeply it affected the interests of the country, he thought it his duty to point out a danger which he thought must inevitably occur, in the course which the Government had thought fit to pursue.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought fit to refer to me in a somewhat uncourteous tone, by speaking of me as the "wisdom of the House." The House will perceive how puerile such observations are. I might just as well allude to the right hon. Gentleman as the "consistency of the House," the "deliberate judgment of the House," or the "frankness of the House." But such observations are beneath the notice of this Assembly. I wish the House to consider who is responsible for the time at which the Treaty is made. I wish to know who is responsible for having advised Her Majesty to accept the Treaty, which it is proposed shall become operative immediately in England, but which, with regard to the Customs' duties, will not be operative in France till eighteen months hence. A great deal turns upon this. I do not wonder at the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Buckinghamshire, suggesting the inconvenience which must result from the hasty adoption 1404 of this Treaty. That is a legitimate subject for the consideration of this House. Is this House really consulted as to this Treaty? Or is it only required to act upon it? In 1787 Mr. Pitt left the substance of his treaty five months before the country, in order that the country might instruct their representatives whether they assented to that treaty or not. But now, what happens? Just at the opening of Parliament this Treaty is thrown upon the table. And what use does the Government make of it? They immediately tell the House "you must go into Ways and Means before you go into Supply, because we have negotiated a Treaty which imposes upon you that necessity." Now, is that consistent with the practice of this House? The Government bring our relations with a neighbouring Power to bear on the finances before we consider what Supplies for the maintenance of her establishments this country may require. And then we are told that it is all in the interest of peace. Peaceably it certainly is, if submission is to be the condition of peace, for it is no less than submission to the nation across the Channel, a sacrifice of the independence of this House and of the country. The question of time was entirely at the discretion of the Government. What need was there to conclude this Treaty now, or before July and October, 1861; That would have been time enough for France. She will not reduce her Customs' duties till then. Why should we anticipate her action? Is it for the sake of leaving our unhappy producers exposed to the competition with France, while burdened by her prohibitory tariff and high Customs' duties? Why has this particular time been selected? No answer has ever been given to that. The right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, says—"You must act immediately now that the Treaty has been laid before you, for the sake of the convenience of trade, for the sake of the holders of stock." That is no answer to the questions, why the duties in England should be removed immediately while those in France are retained for eighteen months? What is the cause of all this? Is it fear? What other inducement is there to the conclusion of the Treaty at this particular time, and forcing it thus hurriedly on our attention? I can understand no answer but fear. I object to this Treaty as onesided. It is somewhat strange that Mr. Cobden was chosen as the exponent of the 1405 opinions of the Government; we know this, that Mr. Cobden holds opinions against all Customs' duties whatever. There could not have been a more improper person to select as a negotiator than Mr. Cobden. He could not claim or enforce any kind of reciprocity. He went to Paris, the French Government knowing that he would not depart from the consistency of his life, and ask England to maintain Customs' duties. His very appearance told France she might make her own terms. And what is the result? That England is to resign her Customs' duties; but we are pledged to sanction France in the levy of Customs' duties of 30 per cent. And how are we to stand with the rest of the world? If we establish a precedent of a duty of 30 per cent in France, as in the case of silk, and then 25, how can we complain if other countries levy like duties on our goods? They will point to the Treaty with France as a justification of any course they may adopt. Supposing we address Spain, and the noble Lord instructed Mr. Buchanan that we were going to reduce the duties on wine, and that he should require some reciprocal action of Spain, Mr. Buchanan would say, "Reduce our duties below 30 or 25 per cent." What answer would he receive from the Spanish Government but, "You have abandoned your duties in favour of France, and sanctioned her retaining 30 or 25 per cent duties on your goods: you cannot expect us to reduce our duties!" This is reciprocity on one side, indeed. No doubt the noble Lord, and very rightly, desires to stand well with France. So do I. The French policy approves itself to my judgment, because I believe the French Government to be at the present moment standing up for religious freedom. But I am not prepared to sanction a policy of cowardly concession to France because France is opposed to Rome. No, no! the matter has been quite otherwise stirred. There sits the hon. Member for Birmingham. He has a scheme of finance by which Customs' duties are to be abolished; and he very honestly suggested that in their place every one should be taxed, either by a poll tax, which is impossible, or by a property tax, which the hon. Member prefers. But there lately appeared an able article on this subject in the Edinburgh Review, and the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I am wrong, but it appears to me that the substance of that article satisfied him he could not propose his scheme, in all its nakedness, with any prospect of success. He seems, how- 1406 ever, to have said to himself—"Oh, if my friend, Mr. Cobden, can but persuade the Government to enter into a commercial treaty with France for the abolition of the Customs' duties, I shall accomplish my object, through the pressure of French influence brought to bear on the House of Commons." There is no question but that the hon. Member for Rochdale has got this House into a very pretty fix. The position in which he has placed us—let us endeavour to avoid it as we may—is this, that at the very commencement of the Session, and before we have begun to vote the Supplies, or to provide for the defences of the country—before the House of Commons have even ascertained what will be necessary for the defence of the country, we find ourselves in this position—that we must either offend the Government of France, or we must abandon revenue which at the present time we can so ill spare, if we are to carry out those national defences which the people of this country are prepared to exact of their representatives. That is the position in which we stand. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may be very angry with me for saying this, but that will not change the circumstances of the case. The fact is, that this House is now in a position in which its natural relations are interrupted by the intervention of this Treaty, which places us in this position—that we must either accept its terms, or affront the Government of France; and, if the right hon. Gentleman will say that that is a position which befits the representatives of a free and independent people assembled for the purposes of calm deliberation, credat Judæus. I will not go further into this subject. It is clear this House has been trapped. These negotiations have been pressed upon us, to use the mildest terms, under the influence of France; and then we are told that it is for the convenience of trade that we should not deliberate before we act. Sir, perhaps I may be an old-fashioned Member—perhaps I may be imbued with some of the haughty spirit which we are told animated the House of Commons of 1787, but I must say I rejoice that the right hon. Gentleman, even by the intervention of a few hours, has given us this opportunity of considering and expressing our opinion. I shall vote for his Motion with great pleasure, and I have only further to say, that if the Government are not acting under the compulsion of fear, they show little respect for the House of Commons.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he rose for the purpose of stating the grounds upon which he should vote on the proposal submitted to the House; and he could not help expressing his regret that, instead of proceeding regularly and systematically to the consideration of the great subjects which Parliament was about to discuss, they should have put them aside in order to involve, and to some extent perplex themselves, by the examination of transactions which had taken place in former times. He thought it would he well to recollect that the Treaty involved not only the interests of people of this country, but the interests of people in other countries; beyond doubt the manner in which it was treated by the British House of Commons would be eagerly watched and closely scanned. Their course therefore ought to be without doubt or question. Independently of the privileges of the House of Commons, perhaps that was a reason which had always induced former Ministers to bring under the notice of Parliament in a most clear and distinct manner whatever engagements the Crown had entered into with Foreign States, so that no misapprehension could arise as to the course which Parliament adopted. Whether that was a sound view or not might be immaterial to the determination of the present question; but they found that upon every treaty, from the supplemental treaty which followed that of Utrecht up to the very last which had been entered into, a uniform course had been pursued by Ministers and Parliaments. They approached this question with the reflection that Government now, for the first time, invited them to depart from the established usages of the constitution, and to adopt a course which he believed was entirely unprecedented and unknown in our Parliamentary history. If there were precedents on their side, it was the duty of the Government to produce them, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Buckinghamshire, who did not think it necessary to quote more than one, because that was perfectly apposite to the circumstances of the present case. He would repeat the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman that the records of Parliament showed an uninterrupted series of precedents from the beginning of the last century down to the very last occasion when action was required, and that it had always been the practice either to take into consideration the Message of the Crown recommending 1408 the Treaty to the notice of Parliament, or the Treaty itself, in what was formerly called the Grand Committee, but which was now called a Committee of the whole House. Upon this occasion there was no necessity to draw the line where ancient precedents were to be passed by as obsolete, and where new precedents were to be adopted; because, whenever Parliament had been called on to vote the money of the people in execution of a Treaty, the course had been to go into Committee on the Treaty and there take the requisite votes. Although sometimes the Treaty alone had been referred to the Committee, and at others the Acts to be altered had been referred with it, the principle was the same. To name a precedent since the Reform Bill, there was the occasion when Lord Althorp had to deal with a Treaty of commerce and Navigation, and the very last was in March 1856, when the House went into Committee to take into consideration the Queen's Message with reference to a treaty with Sardinia. The Motion was made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Now he would not say, that the precedent ought to be respected by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he had frequent opportunities of seeing how much and how often the right hon. Gentleman differed from the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but the noble Lord himself ought to regard his own precedents; and however much he might stand pledged to this Treaty, he was bound to watch over the privileges of this House, and to enforce its constitutional course of action. He knew how difficult it was to frame a Resolution which would bear minute criticism, and he could not congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire upon the one which he had submitted. But, passing that by as beneath consideration, and looking only to its substantive and distinct object, he intended to vote for it. He looked only to the avowed purpose with which the right hon. Gentleman proposed it—namely, to take the Treaty into consideration and express a deliberate judgment upon it, and beyond that he should not hold himself bound in voting with the right hon. Gentleman. It was of the utmost importance that forms—even if they were only forms—should not be lightly set aside when they regulated the proceedings of 600 represents lives, and he deeply regretted that the Government should have refused to entertain the 1409 subject on Friday, when it was first brought under their notice by their own friends. The course which the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had taken was forced upon him. The Government treated the suggestion with disdain, and determined to abide by their designed act, as they were bound to do if they really believed it was for the interest of the country. But what was the ground on which they justified their procedure? They said that commerce was of that character that the House must pass Resolutions the instant a treaty was published which involved a prospective reduction of duties. But surely they would give the French Emperor and the French Government credit for understanding the interests of the trade of France; and yet the French Government did not hesitate to make prospective arrangements, and fix a future day when duties should be reduced; and therefore it was clear that time was not so important that the Treaty must first be kept back, and then Resolutions hurried through for the sake of the interests of commerce. What was the reason that Parliament was asked to depart from its usual custom in relation to treaties of this kind? Surely the Government could not be afraid of having the Treaty discussed upon the completion of which they seemed to pride themselves. If the Treaty were as good a thing as they said it was, the first thing they ought to do was to take the judgment of the House upon it. When the House was asked to go into Committee and to pass Resolutions giving effect to the Articles of it, they must take it as a whole, and either reject it and address the Crown to take measures to reopen the negotiation, or accept it as a whole. If the noble Lord below would look at the language of Mr. Fox, whose authority he would not deny, he would see that such was his opinion. The moment the first Resolution was passed, then the whole question was over, and the remaining Resolutions became mere matters of form. It must be borne in mind that these proceedings were being watched by the whole French nation, and they ought therefore to be such as would leave no grounds for imputations of shuffling or evasion. Either a Resolution ought to be passed declaring that Parliament would not accept the Treaty, or they ought to proceed to accept it honourably and honestly. When once a single Resolution had been passed, he would not consent to go into a division to question any one Article of the Treaty. 1410 If the House went into Committee on the Customs Act, the Resolutions which it passed there were not to give effect to the Articles of the Treaty, but to modify and alter the present Customs' laws. There was an essential difference between the two proceedings. A statute passed to-day, if it contained the usual provision, might be repealed in the present Session. At any rate, the Parliament which met in February next, would be as free to repeal it as this Parliament was to pass it. But if the House passed a statute to give effect to this Treaty of Commerce, the Parliament which met in February next would not be free to consider it; the hands of Parliament would, in fact, be tied, and they would be deprived of all control over financial legislation in these respects for ten years to come. The two operations were in their essence totally distinct. The Resolutions which the Chancellor of the I Exchequer proposed, therefore, were not a faithful execution of the Treaty on the part of Parliament. He was bound to take a Resolution on every Article of the Treaty, not for one year only, but for ten; and if he did not, he had not given that legislative sanction to the Treaty which he had bound himself to obtain. They must look to the effect of these commercial conventions upon our relations, not with France alone, but with Russia and other Powers, which were directly affected by its language. Substantially they had to decide this question that night, whether they would proceed immediately to sanction that Treaty, or whether Parliament was not bound to give its due deliberation to decide upon its policy, and to take into consideration the claims of the people of England who thought that their interests would be injured by it. There had been times when Parliament did not think itself quite so popular, quite so perfect a representative of the country as it seemed to think itself now. It was chary then how it dealt with the liberties of the people—how it sanctioned a summary disposal of their industry. Men were hoard then at the bar of the House in support of the interests which they thought were affected. That, however, had been got over. The House was supposed more truly and completely to represent the whole people through their representatives than in former days; and believing that the course of procedure proposed by the right hon. Gentleman was the only one which would enable these representatives to give a delibe- 1411 rate and unfettered vote upon the important questions involved in this Treaty, he felt it to be his duty to vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he had noticed with regret the tone in which the speech of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) had been received by the other side of the House. It was a speech characterized by great lucidity and temperate language, and the Resolution with which he concluded was of the most moderate character. It had been met, and especially by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a tone of bitterness and sarcasm, which had no application to the subject; and which was followed by the Attorney General in a similar spirit and tone, and he denounced the Amendment as "perfectly puerile." He asked what was in it that was "puerile"? The nation had been taken by surprise; they suddenly learnt that a Treaty of Commerce had been entered into, and this had given rise to various suspicions and anxieties. A large portion of the community believed that their best rights had been bartered away for no consideration, and that the bargain was a one-sided bargain when we engaged to admit French produce duty free, and France engaged to admit our produce at not less than thirty per cent duty. The Treaty provided in itself that it should receive the sanction of Parliament; and what the hon. and learned Attorney General called a "puerile proposition" was that it should be submitted to the judgment of Parliament. The Resolution of his right hon. Friend asked no more than that the Treaty should be submitted to a fair discussion, and that the sense of Parliament should be taken upon it, apart from the numerous other questions which were mixed up with it in the Resolutions upon which they were asked to go into Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Attorney General had led the House to understand that it would be virtually discussing the principles of the Treaty if they went into Committee upon the Customs Acts; but they must have overlooked or suppressed the fact that there were several stipulations that did not involve Customs' duties at all, such as those with respect to coal, upon which no duty-had ever been charged, and the differential duties charged by France upon foreign shipping, with which we had nothing to do, but which at the same time operated most injuriously upon the shipping interests of this country. Coal and iron were among the objects which had principally contri- 1412 buted to the greatness of England, and yet by the 11th clause of the Treaty their exportation was not to be prohibited for a period of ten years, except in the case of direct war with France; so that a nation with whom we were on the best terms might be destroyed in the interval, and we should be forced to furnish France with the sinews of war. Unless the terms of the Treaty were modified such must be the construction which every Member of the profession would put upon them. He had seen it announced in The Times that the French Government was willing to modify some portions of the Treaty; and it was above all things desirable that not only on this point, but on the 11th clause relating to the differential duties on French shipping, some alteration should be made. According to the present system it was actually the interest of a merchant at Calcutta to ship his goods in a French in preference to an English vessel. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had by his eloquence endeavoured to lead the House on a wrong scent, and, perhaps, to some extent he might have succeeded in doing so; but the country at large was not blinded by his statements, as was shown by the shoals of letters which poured upon Her Majesty's Government daily, and almost hourly, remonstrating in the strongest possible terms against the propositions contained in the Budget. Indeed, so large was the correspondence that measure had produced that it might go far to make up the deficiency in the revenue by the increase in the postal department. The course proposed by his right hon. Friend—namely, that they should follow the precedent set by Mr. Pitt—was free from all those objections. If the Treaty was such as to deserve the approbation of Parliament, that approbation would be given in a free and independent manner on the merits of the Treaty itself; if not, our domestic finance would not be complicated, bound up with considerations altogether foreign to the subject; and for these reasons he hoped that the House would support the moderate and constitutional proposition which had been made to them. He would call upon the House, in conclusion, to come to the discussion of the subject at once, instead of proceeding in such an irregular course.
§ MR. BRIGHT
From the very earnest and animated manner of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, a stranger might be led to imagine that there was some great question before us. 1413 But after having listened to every sentence, I think, that has been spoken in the debate, I can hardly tell what it is we are debating. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire assured us it is not a party question; but I did not feel that he added any confirmation to that statement when he informed us he had consulted nobody but the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns)—by no means a bad soldier to have at one's side when engaged in a party fight. Still, I can learn nothing from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman or of his supporter, because I am perfectly satisfied neither the one nor the other divulged the real object and purpose of this Motion. In the speech of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire I could get at something real. He digs up theories we thought were dead and buried, and never more to appear among us. I do not in the least blame him for the course he takes, though I cannot understand the point of view from which he regards this question. He does not believe in the Treaty, or in the principles which his leader pronounces good; and therefore, like a man, he stands up and says so; and, however absurd his views may be, or however erroneous in my opinion, still he discloses them frankly, and makes it no secret that his object in supporting the Motion is just to get rid, if he can, of this obnoxious Treaty. But what is the true object of the Motion? If I were on that side of the House—and it is not an uncomfortable side to sit on, as I know by pretty long experience—and held the opinion which many hon. Gentlemen opposite do, of the Budget and Commercial Treaty, instead of carping at them in private and making vicious stabs at them in the House, I would fairly avow I thought the Treaty a mistake, that the Queen had been badly advised in entering into it, and that the Government were to be condemned for their policy, and that Parliament should not adopt it. I would be open and aboveboard. I would take—I was almost going to say, the only rational—at least the only manly course. The real fact, I am bound to believe, is that a portion of the hon. Gentlemen opposite are very much annoyed at the Treaty from beginning to end; another portion do not like the side of the House on which they sit, and they think that an attack may be made on the Government with some success. Perhaps the Treaty may he altered in some respects; but I hardly imagine even that party will go so 1414 far as to overthrow it. This is why the Motion has been brought forward and is supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite. If those Gentlemen are really against it—if the House is against it—why do they not bring forward a Resolution and say at once that it ought to he rejected? The Resolution of the hon. Member for Essex does go, without saying it, very near meaning it, because he objects to the reduction of the duties as diminishing the ordinary revenue—the duties and ordinary revenue are necessarily reduced if the Treaty be adopted, and hence his Resolution goes a very long way towards condemning the Treaty altogether, I am free, for my own part, to confess I cannot exaggerate the greatness of the policy which characterizes the Treaty or the good which I believe it will do to this country and to France—indeed to Europe generally. It is a great question, and worthy of a great debate. Let there be one side of the House for it, the other against it; but let us debate it manfully. Do not take the course chosen by the leader of hon. Gentlemen opposite—a course which half of his own party, even if they vote with him, would rather in their hearts he had not taken. Do not put a Resolution on the paper which nobody can understand—which his principal recruit on this side of the House cannot even compliment as either grammatical or sensible, and which proposes a course which neither the right hon. Gentleman himself, nor any one who has spoken on that side of the House, has yet been able to give an explanation of. I am not going into the question of the Treaty in the least. We will talk about the coal difficulty by-and-by. Every one who knows anything about the matter knows that the whole navy of France does not consume in a year half as much coal as a single colliery in England can produce, and, after all, is only what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), speaking of the national debt, called a mere "fleabite." If you are not adverse to the Treaty,—for I desire to give the right hon. Gentleman all the credit I can for his proposal, and to believe that he is merely anxious the House should take the most convenient and expeditious mode of considering this great proposition with the view to advance the public interests—let us consider what is the proper course to take. I am so much in favour of the Treaty I can vote for it altogether as it is. I am so much in favour of all the great free trade measures in the Budget that I 1415 can vote for it also as it is. But I do not insist others should do the same. I cannot expect the House of Commons to come by a leap, as it were, to a conclusion like that. But I ask you to consider that great interests are involved in the question, that it is one which ought not to be made the mere stalking-horse of party, and one we cannot fight over night after night without any definite proposition before the House. The question, it seems, is Treaty or Budget. On the other side they do not speak much in favour of the Treaty, but they are all very anxious the House should pass the Treaty at once. Suppose the Government had taken the course hon. Gentlemen opposite affect to recommend, in what position would the House have been then? Suppose the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, had laid the Treaty on the table of the House and asked you to discuss it—could you take the Treaty and go through it from beginning to end and put every single word, every sentence, every proposition to the vote? Do hon. Gentletlemen opposite propose that? Or do they propose that the Government should have offered to the House a Resolution for an Address to the Crown expressing the general approbation of the House of the Treaty which the Queen has negotiated with the advice of Her Majesty's Ministers? If they did, then I would vote with them. But only look at the position the House would have been in after such a Resolution was passed. You could not then have gone into the details of the Treaty, you would have been prevented from considering all the propositions to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer invited your attention. A very large proportion of the propositions of the Budget are details of the Treaty; and if you had approved the Treaty in the bulk, and got rid of it, when you came to the Resolutions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer you would have been precluded from any examination of half of his proposals, you would have been shutout from exercising the most constitutional duty, privilege, and right of the House of Commons—that of examining seriatim every one of the features of the plan which the Chancellor of the Exchequer lays before you. Now, my notion of the course we should take to expedite business is this—we should go through the whole of the Budget, accept what we can accept of it, and reject what we do not like. I dare say there is some- 1416 thing in it we do not like; but we should take it, as we do other things in life, a little bad with a little, or, it may be, a great deal of good. But, when we have gone through the Budget, including everything of the Treaty that can take effect through the Resolutions on the Budget, several things will he left in the Treaty not included in the Resolutions, which it will be still necessary for the House to consent to. When we have done this, it will be very easy to pass Resolutions expressing the approval of the Budget if the House does approve it, and the whole thing will be at an end. What can be more rational than such a proposal? As I understand neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary has not the least objection to the House of Commons expressing its opinion on every point of the Treaty not involved in this Budget. Is this not a course, then, that hon. Gentlemen opposite may well adopt? I am afraid they have a very faint idea of the amount of inconvenience and suffering this state of things produces in the country. It may be assumed from the number of deputations that wait on Ministers, the letters that fill the newspapers, and are received by Members of this House. A very large portion of that which annoys persons in trade, when such changes as the present are proposed, is, not the ultimate result of such changes, but the torture, the perplexity and difficulty by which they are surrounded during the three or four weeks the subject is in suspense in this House. If you believe that the policy proposed is bad, the Budget bad, and the Treaty bad, you are perfectly justified in opposing it, or even in throwing out the Government on it. But you should meet it in a straightforward and manly way. We on this side of the House are mainly in favour of the proposition; you, on the other side, are mainly against it. We decide by majorities, and a result may soon be come to. Move a specific Resolution; let us have the debate on a well-defined question, and talk it out. The country will derive some information from the discussion, and, I hope, will be satisfied with our decision. Every Chamber of Commerce that has noticed this plan, almost every meeting, and every opinion given in the press, or by the public, except on details not very essential—has been in favour of the great changes the Government has proposed. Now, I ask the hon. Gentlemen opposite not to be led astray on this question, for any mere party 1417 interests; not to leave the whole trade and industry of the country in a state of suspense and partial confusion, till these great measures are settled. If I speak to any Member in private he agrees with me in this;—if these things are to be done let us get them done. I am not arguing in favour of any party; I urge it on behalf of the country and of interests ten thousand times dearer to us, I hope, than those of party. I do not speak in favour of these measures to keep one set of gentlemen in office or another set out. I only wish the hon. Gentlemen on the other side when they sat here had had the courage to propose a policy like this. They should have received from me as warm a support as I shall give the right hon. Gentlemen who now have the good fortune, if good fortune it be, to occupy the Treasury benches.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, they had for nearly five hours been discussing the Amendment which his right hon. Friend had proposed in a speech of singular clearness and ability, and—more than that—marked by a tone and temper befitting the great party he represented in that House; yet though they had been so occupied for five hours, and had heard several speakers from the other side of the House, yet no one had attempted to grapple with the point that Amendment set before them. My right hon. Friend was followed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but his speech was certainly no exception to the observation he had made, though if ridicule and personality, only so far veiled as not to become offensive, could establish a case, the right hon. Gentleman would have been successful; but never since he had had a seat in that House had he heard a speech in which a debater had dealt so unfairly with the arguments and statements of an opponent. The right hon. Gentleman represented his right hon. Friend as suggesting that the Treaty should have been made public four months ago, or at least, that a delay of four months should take place before Parliament was called on to decide upon it. That was never suggested by his right hon. Friend; all he said in narrating the circumstances attending the production of the treaty of 1786 was, that a certain time had been given before the debate on the treaty in the following year. Again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the effect of the suggestion of his right hon. Friend would be equivalent to a protective duty on French wines during the next two or three months. 1418 What his right hon. Friend proposed was exactly the reverse. He proposed to go into Committee not on the Customs Act, but on the Treaty: and no Resolution passed by a Committee on the Treaty could have any such effect. He had consulted the authorities of the House, and he found that this was the case. He was astonished that any one in the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should not have known this, and should have made such an attack in ignorance. The accusation against his right hon. Friend that he proposed to recur to an antiquated system of protection was utterly groundless. He would not follow the many misrepresentations of the light hon. Gentleman. He wished rather to recall the House to the strict point, that had not yet been dealt with from the other side of the House; that point was, whether the course taken by the Government in this instance gave the House a fair opportunity of discussing the Treaty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had almost ridiculed his right hon. Friend, and charged him with paying a pedantic regard to musty precedents. But the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had justified the course he was himself taking by saying he followed substantially the precedent of Mr. Pitt; but, so far from being the same course, it differed not substantially, but in some points essentially, from it. Mr. Pitt moved certain Resolutions in Committee on the treaty; the right hon. Gentleman proposed to go into Committee on the Customs Acts. The result of the two courses was perfectly different, If the House went into Committee on the Customs Acts, any reduction of duty it made would commence from the time the Resolution passed. If it considered the Treaty, such a reduction of duty would not commence till after the Treaty had been sanctioned by the House, and Resolutions in accordance with the Treaty passed in Committee on the Customs Acts. Then, in a Committee on the Treaty, any Member might move a Resolution in reference to any article in it. In a Committee on the Customs Acts this was impossible. The only clauses the Committee would be competent to consider were those clauses by which a reduction of duty was made. The effect of the difference between us is that the right hon. Gentleman wished to limit the House to the consideration of the Treaty to those portions of it which were contained in the Customs Acts; whereas those 'who sat on his side of the House said that it was the right of the 1419 House to have an opportunity of discussing and giving an opinion upon every portion of the French Treaty that required the legislative assistance of the House to enable Her Majesty to carry it into execution. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had omitted to state what Mr. Pitt said in reference to a portion of the treaty of 1786. Mr. Pitt said that he would move resolutions in Committee relative to all those portions of the treaty that were of a commercial character, and that all the others could be carried out by the executive or the prerogative of the Crown. [The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Hear, hear.] The right hon. Gentleman cheered, and oven now the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) were unable to see the distinction between those parts of the Treaty which could be carried out by the prerogative and those which required the legislative interference of Parliament to carry them into effect. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs assured the House the other night in an apologetic tone that the 11th Article of the Treaty, relative to coal, was not proposed or discussed with any reference to a political object. Now, he could conceive it possible, from the experience they had had of the noble Lord in foreign affairs, that there might be a political interest attached to political subjects, and that the noble Lord might be unable to fathom the intentions of those who proposed particular measures. ["Oh, oh!"] He granted that this murmur of incredulity was justifiable, because the noble Lord in home affairs was sufficiently astute and farseeing, and it was therefore difficult for hon. Gentlemen opposite to admit that other persons might have an object in view in foreign affairs, and that the noble Lord would not he one of the first to see it. Whatever the noble Lord or Mr. Cobden might think, the French Emperor and the French people undoubtedly considered that this Article of the Treaty was not devoid of political interest. Was it not well known that the French steam navy had depended for their supply of coals upon this country? What was the good of having a steam fleet if you did not adopt the best means of propulsion at your command? Many hon. Members would recollect that contemporaneously with the appearance of this Treaty a conversation was said to have taken place between a distinguished Frenchman and an enlightened and liberal Englishman. If rumour might be trusted, the persons de- 1420 signated were the Emperor of the French and the hon. Gentleman who negotiated this Treaty. And what did the "distinguished Frenchman" state in that conversation? Reference was made to the supply of coal from this country, and the idea was thrown out that certain vessels were built for the purpose of making a descent upon our coast. "No," was the answer, "they are not built for that purpose; but the fact is that the French fleet are dependent upon England for their steam coal, and we wish to be dependent upon her no longer." The fact was that the coal we possessed was an enormous advantage to this country. France did not contain the best coal that could be supplied for this purpose, nor could she obtain it except from England. It was of the last political importance to France that she should always be able to obtain coal from this country, and in this Treaty, said to be purely commercial, was inserted an Article that would go far to deprive us, in case of imminent war, of the advantage which nature had given us. What he wished to learn and what no one would tell them was, was the House to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon that eleventh Article? The Attorney General had given an opinion, which he would not take upon himself to contradict, but which he ventured to say had been heard with astonishment by the lawyers on both sides of the House, that the power of prohibiting the exportation of military or naval stores was the common law prerogative of the Crown. If that were so, why did the Government in 1853 think it necessary to pass an Act by which it was enacted, not declared, that the Crown had certain powers which, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman, it had always possessed? Such a proceeding was so extraordinary that he preferred to give his confidence to those who thought that this power was not a part of the common-law prerogative of the Crown, but was simply a statutory power given by Act of Parliament, If that were so, could the Crown waive the power without an Act of Parliament? There could be very little doubt that if this power were not part of the prerogative of the Crown, it was a power that the responsible Ministers of the Crown might avail themselves of for the interest and security of the country. It was, in fact, a trust held by them from the Crown, for the exercise of which, when required, they were responsible, and one which it was impossible to waive. The legislative au- 1421 thority of the House was in that case necessary before the Treaty took effect, and he wished to know when it would be applied for. The Treaty contained a clause relative to shipping. There, again, was a most important clause which by itself the Government with all their strength could not pass any more than the Article regarding coal. When was the House to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon that Article of the Treaty? The House knew that if his hon. Friend the Member for Essex (Mr. Du Cane) moved his Resolution, and a division took place upon it, no further Amendment could be moved, and that in Committee on the Customs Acts it would be impossible to take into consideration the clause relating to shipping. They had been told that it was possible to raise the whole question on Resolutions and an Address to the Crown, and the hon. Member for Birmingham had recommended this as a manly way of meeting the question. But it was precisely because it was not a manly way of meeting the question that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House could not vote for it, since it would put the issue in a shape in which it would be impossible to give an opinion upon the details of the Treaty; and they said that the only way of properly discussing it was by bringing forward Resolutions, which would enable the House to consider in detail every Article and clause that required the legislative interference of the House. It had been said on the other side, "Pass the Customs Resolutions, and then there will be an Address approving of the Treaty as a whole." No doubt those who advise the Government that that was the best form for themselves were correct. Many hon. Members would say, "I approve of so much of the Treaty that I shall not go the length of coinciding in any Address condemning it as a whole; others would say, I am in favour of one particular portion, and, although I disapprove of another, I cannot vote on an Address which condemns the whole;" so that, by this clever and skilful manipulation, the Government would get a great many votes more than they would get if the issue were plainly put before Parliament on every one of the clauses of the Treaty. On his side of the House they did not ask for any delay; they sought, as well as the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, to come to an early and satisfactory decision on the part of Parliament; but the simple proposition they put was that they could not come to a proper conclusion on this Treaty 1422 in Committee on the Customs Acts. They insisted that it should be submitted to the House in such a shape that every clause could be discussed. If the Treaty were good it would be as easy for Ministers to obtain the approbation of Parliament in a Committee so framed as in a Committee on the Customs Acts; but, as it was impossible to arrive at a satisfactory discussion in a Customs' Committee, they call upon Ministers to lay their propositions before the House in a clear, definite, and decided manner.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I was disposed to think that the right hon. Gentleman who made the proposition under our notice had taken a somewhat extraordinary course, for until I heard the last two speeches which were delivered on the opposite side of the House I confess I was at a loss to understand what that proposition meant. It seems to me, indeed, that the right hon. Gentleman, in submitting his Resolution to the House, must have borrowed a suggestion, not so much from what fell from other hon. Members on Friday night, as from some observations which were made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War in reference to the opinion which had been expressed in certain quarters as to its being desirable that the volunteers should learn to march in loose instead of in close order. At all events, the right hon. Gentleman instead of moving in close order, as the hon. Member for Essex proposed to do, has thought proper to direct his attack against our flank, in the hope, no doubt, that the irregularity of his advance may he attended with greater success. The real question, however, which we have to consider is, what this Resolution means, and by what arguments it can be supported. The right hon. Gentleman asks us to assent to the proposition:—That this House does not think fit to go into Committee on the Customs Acts, with a view to the reduction or repeal of the duties referred to in the Treaty of Commerce between Her Majesty and the Emperor of the French, until it shall have considered and assented to the engagements in that Treaty.Now, had this been merely a proposal to the effect that, instead of going into Committee on the Customs Acts, we ought to go into Committee on the Treaty, the answer which was given to it by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer must, I think, be regarded as perfectly conclusive. My right hon. Friend 1423 says, "I cannot go into Committee on the Treaty, because the Resolutions which I would have to lay before that Committee would not carry my object into effect." Now, that appears to me to be a very just argument. Take, for instance, the Article of the Treaty which sets forth that the duty on the importation of French wine be reduced to 3s. per gallon. How, I should like to know, could it have answered my right hon. Friend's object to go into Committee on the Treaty and propose that that duty be reduced? The effect of such a course would be that from the moment the Resolution in those terms was passed the duty on French wines would be reduced, and not that upon Spanish or Portuguese wines; so that my right hon. Friend would have to propose another Committee to effect his purpose. It is obvious, therefore, that the course which the right hon. Gentleman opposite recommends is not the proper mode of proceeding. It now appears, however, that the scope of the right hon. Gentleman's Resolution is far more extensive than I at first supposed it to be, inasmuch as the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford (Mr. Malins) and the hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. S. FitzGerald) inform us that we ought to enter upon the consideration of the Treaty with the view of discussing every one of its clauses. [Mr. S. FITZGERALD: I alluded to those clauses requiring legislative sanction.] Yes; but then the hon. Gentleman puts his own interpretation upon the various clauses which he thinks ought to stand in that position. Then comes the interpretation of the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford, that every clause requires legislative sanction. Thus the whole matter comes to this, that a course at variance with the prerogative of the Crown is that which the Conservative party now think it their duty to recommend. But we differ from him altogether in the interpretation, and hold that to belong to the prerogative of the Crown which he considers to require legislative sanction. What they mean is evidently, that in the case of every treaty entered into by virtue of the Royal prerogative, instead of taking the course which has hitherto been pursued, and in accordance with which those parts of a treaty that require legislative sanction as proposing an alteration of duties are submitted to the notice of this House, you would have every clause and proposition in such treaty re-negotiated and reconfirmed or rejected by the House of Commons, as might be 1424 deemed expedient. Such a mode of proceeding as that is, I contend, one which has been up to this period unknown in the history of our constitution, and yet such is the proposal to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite now asks us to assent. Why, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman seeks to effect a great change in the constitution of the country. He demands for the House of Commons a larger power than is given to the Senate of the United States. There are articles in the Treaty by which no changes are made. The right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech alluded to one Article of the Treaty—the third—which has, I think, been much misunderstood. But be that as it may, here we have a Treaty relating to commerce and manufactures and articles of production in both England and France; and it is said that, with respect to shipping, no alteration shall be made—shipping remaining in 1860 subject to the same duties as in 1859. Now, the Article which deals with that subject requires evidently no assent on the part of the House of Commons, inasmuch as we propose no change in our duties, nor do the French Government make any change in theirs, in the case of shipping. The right hon. Gentleman, nevertheless, contends that the clause which bears upon this point must he brought under the consideration of this House in Committee. It is, of course, perfectly competent for any hon. Gentleman—as, for instance, was the case of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay)—to bring forward a Resolution declaring it to be the opinion of the House of Commons that they do not consider the Commercial Treaty with France is worth having, unless the duties on shipping are altered; and it is quite competent for the House of Commons to affirm a Resolution which would put an end to the Treaty by declaring that no reduction of duty should take place in the way proposed until the differential duties on shipping were so altered. That might be a wise or an unwise mode of procedure, but it would be perfectly constitutional, and nobody could object to it. But to discuss a Treaty, part of which depends upon the prerogative of the Crown and part on the assent of Parliament, with the view of going into every Article, appears to me to be a monstrous proceeding. ["Not every Article."] I am glad to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite say so, because I think there is now some chance of arriving at a just conclusion as to what ought to be 1425 the conduct of the House in this matter. What, let me ask, was the course which was adopted by Mr. Pitt under similar circumstances? and in what consists the difference between that course and that which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pursued? Mr. Pitt concluded a Commercial Treaty, which had been ratified four months before he submitted it to the notice of the House of Commons, and by means of which he desired to give certain advantages to France. That Treaty contained forty-seven Articles, in accordance with one of which Englishmen might travel in France without licence or passport. There were other Articles of the same kind to which he did not require the assent of the House of Commons, and, indeed, I doubt whether he wanted its sanction to any but the 6th Article, which embraced all the changes in duties which he proposed. Mr. Pitt, under the circumstances, acted in a rational and sensible manner. He asked for the assent of the House of Commons to those particular changes, and put them into some fifteen or twenty Resolutions. I may mention one of those Resolutions, which will show how entirely they were directed to the Customs' duties. The Resolution to which I refer states that the Committee deemed it expedient that the wines of the European dominions of the French King imported directly into this country should in no case pay a higher duty than those of Portugal paid. Here is a specific Resolution changing the Customs' duties on wine, and therefore requiring the assent of the House of Commons; and thus Mr. Pitt went on to deal with the various other provisions of the treaty requiring that assent. Having obtained that assent, Mr. Pitt moved an Address to the Crown, thanking the Sovereign for the treaty which had been concluded, seeing that it would tend to increase trade and manufactures, and to draw closer the bonds of amity between this country and France. Such, then, was the course which Mr. Pitt pursued, and such is the course which we propose to adopt. We desire to bring before the House all the Resolutions relating to the Customs requiring its assent, and, when those Resolutions have been agreed to, to move an Address to the Crown on the subject of the Treaty. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) says that Ministers acted differently in those times, when that portion of the metropolis had no representatives—times, I may say, 1426 in passing, which he seems to regard as having been much happier than the present. Those, he contends, were times when manufacturers and commercial men were not listened to, and it was left to Ministers to bring before Parliament matters affecting the commerce of mankind. Does the hon. Gentleman, let me ask, conceive that we have been taking this absurd course, and negotiating with France a Treaty portions of which were expressly declared to require the assent of Parliament, and that then we laid the Treaty quietly on the table and meant to evade discussion with respect to its provisions? Many a Minister may have pursued an absurd course, but it is, I believe, a more stupid one, so far as I am aware, than any Minister ever pursued, to make such an arrangement, submit it to Parliament, and then say we mean to have no discussion on it. Our course is a plain course. It is the course which Mr. Pitt pursued in 1787, and it seems to me the only course which Parliament can rationally pursue. But then, the hon. Gentleman said, here is an Article which implies the surrender of the power of the Crown to prohibit the export of coal, which involves important political considerations, and which, therefore, ought to be brought specially before the consideration of Parliament. Now, I find in the Treaty of 1786 an Article of very considerable importance, which refers to many articles, and I will read part of it to the House. The 23rd Article of that treaty says—These merchandises, which follow, shall not be counted among contraband goods—iron, lead, sulphur, coal, wheat, barley, cordage, sails, pitch, &c, but shall be free to be carried by both nations, even to places belonging to an enemy, except to such places as may be actually blockaded or invested.Now, this was an Article which very clearly affected the export of these articles. Of course at this time coal was not an article which could be considered contraband of war; but there were other articles, such as sail-cloth, cordage, and other materials of that kind; you said that France might carry those articles to a country with which we were at war, if it were not actually blockaded or invested. That was a question clearly affecting the power of this country to carry on war; but did Mr. Pitt submit a Resolution to this House to carry out this Article of the treaty? By no means; it was not even mentioned; and yet, I repeat, it is an Article as much af- 1427 fecting the power of this country to make war as any Article that can be named. The House has heard upon this subject the eminent authority of the Attorney General. I have consulted another high authority, and I will read some words from the answer I received:—As to the prohibition, this is merely intended by both sides commercially, and for commercial purposes it is most fair. While at peace her manufactures should be put on an equal footing with ours as to fuel. If war should break out with France, the prohibition has no operation. It was not meant to work, and it cannot work, politically. It has no effect upon belligerent or neutral rights. If war with France were apprehended in spite of this Treaty the export of coal might be prohibited, or if there were actual war with France we might refuse to permit any neutral to carry coals to France, coals being contraband of war or not, according to its distribution or the purposes to which it is to be applied.That is the opinion of the Lord Chancellor, which shows clearly, if the Lord Chancellor is right, that the article is a commercial article and is intended for commercial purposes. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Mr. S. FitzGerald) says I have not sagacity enough to discover that some political purpose is concealed under the Articles of this Treaty so far as France is concerned. I do not know that the hon. Gentleman has always shown any wonderful sagacity; because, when war was going to break out between France and Austria, although for six months before it was generally known to be imminent—I am sure I knew it, among many others—the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues at the Foreign Office seemed to believe that there was no chance of war. I do not know that his sagacity is very great, but I think that the sagacity of hon. Gentlemen who sit on the same bench with him is, on one point at least, too acute. They never hear of any proposal of the French Government that they do not immediately see some threatening danger to this country, and nothing will persuade them that its object is not war with England. My belief is that the Emperor of the French has seen the great advantages that we have derived in England from free trade; that he has seen how much richer we have become; that he knows—with his knowledge of France he must know—the enormous profits that are made, whether by the coalowners or manufacturers, at the expense of the people of France, who get their goods and coal at twice the price they need pay under a liberal commercial system; that while he wishes to make France strong in war against any enemy he wishes also 1428 to make her strong in peace, rich and prosperous, and that this Commercial Treaty has been intended to make the French people rich and prosperous; with this view, and with no sinister design of making war against this country, has this Treaty been proposed. That is a very simple belief. But, it is said, all these changes might be made in this country and France without any commercial treaty whatever. I think, besides other reasons that might be given showing that this Commercial Treaty differs entirely from those commercial treaties of old times against which Adam Smith pronounces his opinion, there is this to be said, that the Protectionist party in France is of such nature and strength that unless the French Government were enabled to say to the French people, "Here are great benefits which will come to a great portion of the people from the remissions to be made by England," these reductions of duty and the abolition of prohibitions could never take place in France. I will show what I mean in this short way:—Supposing the Emperor had proposed to make some diminution of protection, and that English goods should come in at 30 or 25 per cent; if the proposition was unaccompanied by any counterbalancing remission of the duties charged by us upon French wines and other products, it might be said by the French Protectionists this is mere loss to abolish these high duties. The French Government might say the English people would be induced to admit our wines; to which the Protectionists might reply, there is no provision for that. And if, on the other hand, we had proposed to abolish the duties without reference to a treaty, the argument of the English Protectionists would be equally valid; they would say—We have obtained all we wish, and any relaxation of protection will be a bare loss. But when the people of France see that their wines are to he admitted at a lower duty, and that that is part of an arrangement by which prohibition will be abolished and protection diminished, there is evidently a great interest raised up in support of the Government of France, by whose aid it will be enabled to set at defiance those particular parties who are desirous of maintaining the existing system of prohibition and protection. Therefore it becomes the interest of the people of France to see this Treaty of Commerce carried into effect as likely to be of great good to their country. I must say I believe with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) 1429 —I think this proposition, which is a large proposition, whether as a commercial treaty or a budget, ought to be met in some such way as that of which notice was given by the hon. Member for North Essex—by a Resolution asserting other principles. Let the principles asserted in this way by hon. Gentlemen opposite and the principles we have asserted by the propositions we have laid before the House come into open and fair combat, and see which have the assent of Parliament and the country. Allusion has been made to the course taken by Mr. Fox. On two occasions Mr. Fox endeavoured—once with success and at another time without success—to negotiate a treaty with France; but in the first instance he began with the resolution, saying that whatever might be the opinion of Parliament with respect to that treaty with France, Parliament would justly expect the faith of the Crown and the engagements which had been entered into by the Crown to be inviolably adhered to. That was a fair, an honourable, and a constitutional course. In the second instance, when the treaty of commerce with France was considered, as soon as the House went into Committee, at the end of the first Resolution, he proposed that the Chairman should leave the chair, thereby giving a negative to the whole proposition which had been laid on the table by Mr. Pitt. That was likewise a fair and manly course. His object was to defeat the treaty, and the treaty would have been at an end, if he had been successful. This is the way in which an honest and constitutional statesman proceeds; but to endeavour to embarrass the House by questions about the forms of proceeding—to propose, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to propose, that we should depart from all precedent by going into Committee on the Treaty, and that this House should assume the right of making a treaty with France, of negotiating article by article, saying, "This Article we won't have, this second we shall amend, and we shall place this third along with the exceptions," is unknown to the constitution, unworthy of a great party, and to which, I trust, this House will give no countenance.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he did not intend to refer to the Articles of the Treaty, but he could not refrain from expressing his amazement that the expectations of the House, founded on the 20th Article, that their consent was to be asked to the Articles of this Treaty, should now turn out to be a delusion. The words of the Article were: 1430The present Treaty shall not be valid unless Her Britannic Majesty shall be authorized by the assent of her Parliament to execute the engagements contracted by Her in the Articles of the present Treaty.And yet the hon. and learned Attorney General had told them that if anybody considered this Article to mean that the assent of Parliament was to be asked to those engagements, his conclusion was the result of an idle ingenuity. They had heard, also, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this Article was to receive a limited and qualified construction. On that point he would not enter into any controversy, but would simply content himself with expressing his surprise and his protest. They had always been accustomed to listen to the noble Lord who had just spoken with great respect as one of the highest constitutional authorities in that House; but he should like to ask the noble Lord whether in all his experience he could recall a single instance—and he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair whether in his more extended researches he could cite a precedent—for the House of Commons being placed in the position in which it stood that night—being called on to vote on certain financial propositions of the Government so entwined with a political treaty that every vote they gave involved political considerations, and yet the treaty out of which those considerations arose was not permitted to be brought before them? It was the function of that House to vote annual Supplies with relation only to national wants and interests; but they were now asked to pass financial Votes, every one of which carried with it political responsibilities and grave results, while the instrument out of which they sprang was not before them. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had given them some appropriate illustrations of the inconvenience of that course when he told the House that if the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Du Cane) carried his Resolution it would not be possible to carry out the engagements of the Treaty. Thus, if he (Mr. Horsman) thought the increased income tax grievous to his constituents, he was answered, "If you reduce it you shake the Treaty"—or, if he complained that the paper interest had been too strongly represented in the Cabinet he was told, "If you act on that view you will endanger our relations with France." Thus, every vote they gave entailed political responsibilities, and the freedom of discussion was seriously 1431 interfered with. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) complained of this course and maintained that the Government were deviating from the usages of the House. Now the forms and usages of that House were of great value; they were the laws by which they regulated their proceedings, and whenever the Government proposed a serious deviation from them they ought to be able to assign potent reasons for so doing. The forms and precedents of the House were its great defences, the bulwarks behind which it could entrench itself against the assaults of too eloquent and persuasive Ministers. Why, but for these defences the House of Commons might have been at the mercy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night, and he might have persuaded it to any Vote he wished to propose while it was still under the fascination of a speech which few who heard it were ever likely to forget. The great function of the House of Commons was to vote the Supplies for the expenditure of the year; but there was one unvarying and unalterable rule that no Minister had ever asked them to deviate from, and that was that they first voted the Estimates for the year, ascertaining what was the expenditure, and after that voted the Ways and Means. The principle on which this was founded was very obvious. It was a great security of economy on the part of the Minister. He had every motive for proposing the smallest Estimates when he knew that otherwise he would have a difficulty in obtaining the money; but if the order of this procedure were reversed the same motives for economy would not exist. The House never before, he believed, had been asked to grant the money first, and afterwards to sanction the expenditure that money was to meet. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) reminded the Government that Mr. Pitt, when he concluded a commercial treaty with France, was so far from deviating from the usages of the House in such cases that he scrupulously acted upon precedents. He brought the treaty under the notice of the House first, and afterwards introduced his Budget. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have acted exactly as Mr. Pitt did. On that occasion it was stated by Mr. Pitt that serious injury had arisen to the trading interests of the country in consequence of the uncertainty that prevailed during the negotiation of the treaty; but Mr. Pitt, instead of deviating from the usages of the House in order to suit the 1432 convenience of certain trades, made the interests of those trades and commercial bodies subordinate to the policy and permanent legislation of the country. He said the treaty was the basis, and the Budget the superstructure, and he brought forward the treaty first as the foundation on which his Budget was to be raised. It was impossible to find any precedent more in point. In the first place Mr. Pitt brought down a Message from the Crown announcing the treaty. The word were,—I have concluded a treaty of navigation and commerce with the Most Christian King, a copy of which will be laid before you, and I recommend you to take such measures as you may judge proper for carrying it into effect.What were the words in which the present Treaty was announced to the House? They were,—I am in communication with the Emperor of the French with a view to extend the commercial intercourse between the two countries, and thus to draw still closer the bonds of friendly alliance between them.It would be difficult to present to the House a greater contrast than was exhibited in these two announcements. Mr. Pitt afterwards moved that the House should go into Committee to consider the treaty, and he opened the proceedings with a long speech, in which he gave political, commercial, and financial reasons for the treaty, laying stress on the fact—that it had been four or five months before the country; and he submitted Resolutions to Parliament to give effect to the articles of the treaty. But on the present occasion they had no Message from the Crown, no Committee on the Treaty, no speech from the Minister giving the political as well as the commercial reasons in favour of the Treaty, and then it had not been for four or five months before the country. Everything had been done in the greatest secrecy, and, though there was one Article making it incumbent on the Government to obtain the sanction of Parliament, they were surprised to find that that Article was to be entirely nugatory, and that the assent of Parliament was not to be taken on all the Articles of the Treaty. Mr. Pitt did not introduce his Budget for two months after he had submitted the treaty to the consideration of the House; but on the present occasion they had the Budget first, and afterwards they were to have the Treaty. Now, he must say, looking at the two periods, that the manner in which Mr. Pitt acted, the plain dealing with which he treated the 1433 country, and the respect with which he treated Parliament, formed a strong and favourable contrast to the secrecy of the negotiations, the secrecy of the provisions, the secrecy of the ratification of this Treaty, and the manner in which it was published and proposed to Parliament, and preceded by the Budget—all indicating something very like a consciousness on the part of its authors that there was that in the transaction which would not bear the light, and which, when brought to light, the country would not approve. But the real and marked difference between the conduct of Mr. Pitt and that pursued on the present occasion was this, that they were now asked to consider the question before them merely as a fiscal question, whereas Mr. Pitt laid it before the House as a political, commercial, and financial one. And that, in fact, was the triple aspect in which the proposition of the Government now came before them. First, there was the financial exposition for the year; secondly came the treaty of reciprocity—a national compact between France and England, revising and modifying their respective tariffs for their mutual advantage; and, thirdly, there was the political question, wearing, indeed, the outward and tranquil form of a commercial convention but having also a most significant effect upon the general policy of Europe. Beginning with it as a treaty, as they went on through each division they found it grow upon them in its scope and importance, owing to the laws of public policy it touched, the vast interests it disturbed, and the higher responsibilities it entailed. Treating it merely as a budget, they committed themselves only for a year; it was a purely domestic arrangement, for which they were accountable to no one but themselves. Taking it as a treaty of reciprocity, they committed themselves for future years, and incurred obligations to France as well as to England. But, as a demonstration of renewed, close, and intimate alliance between France and England, they challenged for it the attention of the whole world. It afforded matter for thought and reflection to every Cabinet in Europe. It was no longer a simple question of wines, calicoes, and manufactures. In the distracted councils of Europe it might be a sword thrown into the scale. It might affect the boundaries of Empires or the validity of treaties. It might mean a new Sovereignty for Savoy; it might mean an engagement to Switzerland; it might give a new mission to France, There 1434 was not a Government in Europe—Europe which had been in a state of disquietude since the present ruler of France filled the throne—there was not a Cabinet in Europe which might not turn doubtingly and despondingly to England, marvelling how she could a second time incur the heavy and lasting responsibility of giving to a dangerously predominant and aspiring military Power so vast an accession of character, and strength, and influence, not unlikely to be used for purposes which England could not afterwards control. Was he exaggerating the gravity of the questions before them? Was it right that their consideration should be prejudiced and marred by their being all huddled up together? Was it unreasonable to ask that they should be separated? The course forced upon them was the more uncalled for, because great questions of national interest were approached by every Member of that House with one principle and one sentiment. They were all anxious to co-operate with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in providing, as Parliament always did provide, liberally for the requirements of the year. They were all anxious to extend our commercial relations with other countries, while in doing so they were faithful to the great principles of commercial freedom which were now the law of the land. They were all anxious to cultivate the friendship and alliance of France. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, to the utmost that was consistent with a vigilant regard to English interests and honour; and, let him add, consistently also with maintaining the respect and goodwill of the other Powers of Europe. But how could they turn their attention to questions of that description in the consideration of a Budget, which was itself a large financial scheme, and deserving of full and separate consideration? Such a Budget, one of the most important ever presented to the House, surely deserved to he taken on its own merits as a financial scheme. But the Government would not let them do so. The Budget was founded on a Commercial Treaty, and the Treaty, in turn, was founded on political considerations. What was the Treaty? What were the political considerations by which it was to be judged? Viewed as a financial measure, as a mere question of facts and figures, it might be subjected to some very simple tests. The first requisite in a Budget was that it should make the financial year close well. If it provided ample supplies for the year, 1435 and wound up the accounts with a favourable balance, the scheme, as a general rule, would be a successful one. If it tided over present difficulties by creating a deficit in a future year, and perhaps for a future Chancellor of the Exchequer to confront, it would not be a successful Budget. Let that test be applied to the scheme before them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated the expenditure for the year at£70,100,000, and the income at £70,564,000. Thus far all looked satisfactory. But the question presented itself—Was that estimated income really all income? The answer to that question would not be very re-assuring when it was remembered that £250,000 was derived from the repayment of the Spanish debt, which was not properly revenue—that £1,400,000 came from calling up the malt and hop credits, and £2,500,000 more from income tax—which was to be anticipated and appropriated from the revenue of the following year, thereby creating a deficit in a future year. A deficiency of £4,000,000, then, was not a hopeful prospect. But if they ventured to criticize or complain of that, they were met with a ready and a fair answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. "That is a deficit," said the right hon. Gentleman, "which does not originate with my Department. You must take my Budget in connection with the Treaty. You will find it is a treaty deficit. The very first vote you will come to in Committee on the Customs Acts is a remission of the duty on French wines. That is not an English, but a French question. It arises entirely from French political considerations." ["No, no!"] What he meant was, that it was not a tax to be taken off, because it would be the most advantageous tax for England to repeal. It was a tax to be remitted because its remission would be a most agreeable measure to France. Therefore the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a right to say, "This is a political, not a financial, deficit—a French, not an English deficit. I create it, and make this remission, not voluntarily and as a free agent on this 20th day of February, but I do it to carry out an engagement of the Treaty with France." Well, it might be asked in return, "Where is that Treaty? Show us its terms. This deficit is the price we are to pay for it; is it worth the price?" That was the point to be discussed; but it could not be discussed without first considering the Treaty and then the Budget. In fact, the Treaty was the horse that was to pull that cart- 1436 load of deficit through the mire. Might he detain the House for a moment or two longer? He wished to show the House that they were establishing a very bad precedent, and involving themselves in grave difficulties by departing for the first time from the settled law and order of their proceedings. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, when asked how he meant to supply the deficit, said, "I call on you to follow in the footsteps of Sir Robert Peel. That great Statesman remitted taxes with a view to increase income. You know how his experiment succeeded. I call upon you to give me the same support in carrying further the same policy." A far less able and less popular Chancellor of the Exchequer would not make such an appeal in vain; but was the right hon. Gentleman really following in the footsteps of Sir Robert Peel? It might appear presumptuous in him to vindicate the policy of Sir Robert Peel from the misrepresentations of that eminent statesman's most distinguished disciple. But the House would easily detect the fallacy which lurked in the right hon. Gentleman's assumed analogy. There was this great difference between the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and that of Sir Robert Peel, that while Sir Robert Peel lowered duties in order, by stimulating consumption, to increase revenue, the right hon. Gentleman did not lower duties, but abolished them altogether; he sacrificed revenue, and made up the deficit by direct taxation. There was the widest dissimilarity between the sound and cautious steps of Sir Robert Peel and the rash and innovating course of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir Robert Peel inherited a deficit, and he proceeded to repair that deficit by a judicious discrimination and diminution of duties. He relied for a permanency on the same sources of revenue; but he called in the income tax as a temporary and auxiliary tax, and not as a substitute. The Chancellor of the Exchequer also found a deficit; but by a process that was a violation of all principle and precedent he increased that deficit. He totally abolished duties to the extent of £4,000,000, and made up his deficit by increasing the income tax and by making it permanent. Might he tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the use of a familiar illustration, what was the real difference between Sir Robert Peel's policy and his? Sir Robert Peel represented a gentleman who laid out a certain portion of his income in 1437 draining his land, expecting by a larger produce to raise money with which to pay his debts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's, he was afraid, resembled more the irregularity of the spendthrift who squandered the money that might have fertilized the soil, and then, when his debts fell due, went upon the highway and robbed the first coiner. The proposed abolition of the paper duty was beyond all comparison the most important financial measure which had been submitted to Parliament by any Minister in our day, not on account of the nature and amount of the impost itself but of the principle which the Government was establishing, and the grave consequences likely to arise from it. The constitutional maxim was only to reduce taxation when there was a surplus. But the abolition of a revenue tax and substitution of an income tax afforded no relief to taxation; it was only shifting the tax from one class to another. If that was to be done it was manifestly unjust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should dwell eloquently for three-quarters of an hour on the frauds and evils of the tax he was abolishing, and pass by, without a single word of comment, the greater frauds and evils incident to the tax he was proposing. In that way they went on step by step, from year to year, remitting indirect taxation and adding direct taxes, without any inquiry whatever as to the justice of such a course; shifting, in fact, the whole taxation of the country indirectly, without public explanation or inquiry, from one class to another in a manner that became as oppressive as it was unjust. They might complain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was inflicting heavy burdens on the community and introducing new principles of taxation. What was the right hon. Gentleman's answer? He replied that he was only carrying out the policy of the Government under this new treaty, and that he was but a unit in that Government. The policy of the Government was to have large war Estimates this year in order to obtain security against Prance. Security against France! Why, they had just concluded a treaty of peace and friendship with France. Let the House see that treaty, because they could then reduce the Estimates. "Oh, no!" was the answer, "the Treaty leads to a large increase in the Estimates." We have now two policies to pay for—we raise taxes for war and at the same time pay subsidies for peace; we addressed our Ally with a 1438 sword in one hand and a sop in the other; and while from one side of the account we take off £2,000,000 of taxes to enable us to meet France in the embraces of peace, we take care to add £10,000,000 to the other side of the account that we might meet him in the shock of war. He did not comprehend that double policy; it was not satisfactory to the country; we had to sustain the expense of peace and war at the same time. If we might have peace with France, let us make every effort which a civilized, Christian people could exert to establish it; if, on the other hand—which might Heaven avert!—we had to go to war with France, let us gird up ourselves for that war. But it was the present system of peace and war expenditure, without the policy of cither, that was grievous and perplexing; for, although the Government told the country they had concluded a Treaty of peace, their armaments were far more eloquent than their Treaty; and it was little comfort to know they had peace on their lips when they had war in their Budget and their Councils. Therefore, he said, let them produce their Treaty. His hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham said, why did the House not manfully oppose the Treaty; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer cheered that observation. He (Mr. Horsman) said to the Government, why did they not manfully produce it and challenge the judgment of the House upon it? But he thought he could answer the question himself—there was a great blot in their Treaty. It was like everything else in the hollow and disingenuous alliance with France; it was but a screen and a cloak for the increased armaments of France we should still have to rival and confront. If the object was to negotiate a Treaty of peace, why did they not go more directly to the point? Why did they not tell the Emperor of the French that it was the rivalry of armaments which formed the great obstacle in the way of peace? Why did they not say, "We will abolish our duties in your favour, if you will dismantle your navy?" A proposal of that kind would have enabled Ministers to come to that House with clean hands; but a treaty which ignored all reference to the existing rivalry in armaments was delusive and unsatisfactory. Did any negotiation whatever turn upon the respective armaments of the two countries? If the French Emperor was not told that it was the rivalry in armaments which lay in the way of peace, 1439 a great duty was neglected, and great indifference was shown to the wants and wishes of the people. If any such negotiation was attempted, and if it failed, it would have been more befitting an English Minister to have declined to conclude an engagement which ignored so material a fact, for everybody knew that we had been arming to the teeth against France, as if a war was imminent. The people of this country did not understand the Government when they reduced the duties on French wines and taxed English beer—when they admitted the luxuries and taxed the necessaries of life; and did all that out of favour and friendship towards a ruler against whom we were arming, and fortifying, volunteering, and budgeteering, as if we apprehended a war, which, if it once began, would be a war to England, not for empire, but for existence. On these grounds he did protest against this uncertain and ambiguous, against this costly, erroneous, and unstatesmanlike policy; and if anything could make it less creditable to the House, it was that in its support they were now asked to subvert the whole order of their Parliamentary proceedings, and to consent to the remissions of duties specified in a treaty, the provisions of which had not been explained to them by the Ministers of the Crown. It was a question affecting the Parliamentary practices and the constitutional law of that House, and he therefore hoped that the Amendment would be adopted.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I can assure the House that I shall detail them but for a very few minutes from that division to which I am sure that they are anxiously determined to come; indeed, I should hardly have felt it necessary to say a word had it not been for the speech of my right hon. Friend who has just sat down. The speeches which we have heard from the other side of the House have been so triumphantly answered by my right hon. Friend and by the noble Lord the Member for London—I say triumphantly—why, they have torn those speeches to rags. The right hon. Gentleman has not a leg to stand upon. Either he proposed that which is perfectly unconstitutional, or he proposed that which we have announced it to be our intention to do. If he means that we should go article by article through the Treaty, and give a Parliamentary opinion upon articles the execution of which rests with the prerogative of the Crown, his proposal is, as my noble and right hon. 1440 Friends hare shown, fundamentally unconstitutional. Treaties concluded by the Crown, and containing engagements which the Crown by its prerogative is competent to fulfil, may, indeed, require or admit of the approval or disapproval of Parliament in the aggregate; but they are not treaties with which this House can constitutionally deal article by article. To maintain that they are, would, as my noble Friend said, be to place this House in the position of the Senate of the United States—a Senate which has the power of ratifying or altering, and which is not merely a legislative assembly, but also part of the contracting authority of the State. I say, therefore, that it would be fundamentally at variance with the established principles of the Constitution, and would establish a most dangerous precedent if this House was to take upon itself to deal article by article with those parts of this Treaty which require no legislative enactment, and which merely bind the Crown to the exercise of its acknowledged inherent prerogative. But, Sir, though one was rather led to infer from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) that this was the object which those who sit opposite have in view—and though, by-the-by, the hon. and learned Member for Wallingford (Mr. Malins) went even beyond that, because he said that the Treaty could not be valid unless there was an Act of Parliament sanctioning it—that it required not merely votes in Committee expressing approval or disapproval, but that there should be a legislative sanction for the Crown's exercise of its legitimate prerogative. [Mr. MALINS dissented.] I cannot be mistaken in my recollection of the Act of Parliament which was suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman. Those who followed, seeing how utterly repugnant such a doctrine was to the essential principles of the British Constitution, narrowed the ground, and said that all they required was that this House should affirm or disaffirm those Articles of the Treaty which require legislative provision for their fulfilment. Why, Sir, that is exactly what Her Majesty's Government propose; that is the purpose for which we ask the House to go into a Committee on the Customs Acts. It is only in such a Committee that any Resolutions can be passed which can be the foundation of legislative enactments in regard to Articles of the Treaty; and, therefore, I say that the course which we are pursuing is so identi- 1441 cal with the fair and constitutional drift of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, that I wonder he should even contemplate a division, and that he and those around him should not say, "We made our Motion in utter mistake and inadvertence; we are satisfied that you are going to do the very thing that we said you ought to do, and, therefore, we will not trouble the House to divide upon so foolish a proposition." However, it is said that the House ought to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon the Treaty itself. Well, my noble and my right hon. Friends stated that it is our intention to give the House an opportunity of expressing its opinion by an Address of approval to the Crown. When that Address is moved, it will be competent to any Gentleman to assign his reasons why, disapproving of any portion of the Treaty other than those which will have been the subject of preceding Resolutions upon the Customs, he objects to give his sanction to the Treaty in the aggregate. We are following precisely the precedent set by Mr. Pitt in every portion of its substance, and are going to bring the Treaty before the House in the first place in detail, as far as Legislative enactment is necessary, and afterwards in the aggregate by an Address to the Crown. We are going to bring this Treaty under the cognizance of Parliament in precisely the same manner in which Mr. Pitt brought the treaty of 1786 before it in the year 1787. I should have thought it needless to repeat the arguments which have been so conclusively and so eloquently urged by my right hon. and my noble Friends, if I had not thought it really necessary to say a word or two upon the speech of my right hon. Friend who has just sat down. My right hon. Friend, I see, entirely agrees with me as to the manner in which the arguments of Gentlemen on the other side of the House have been demolished by those who sit near me. My right hon. Friend, like a benevolent bystander, seeing that those for whom his sympathies are enlisted stood greatly in need of assistance, came to their aid like a good Samaritan, and made a diversion in their favour. He doubted at first how he could do it; but he bethought himself that he had ready a most eloquent speech which he had intended to deliver upon the Budget. He saw that there could not be a better opportunity, a fuller House, a finer audience upon which to bestow that eloquent argumentative oration which circumstances had precluded him 1442 from delivering upon a former occasion, and he thought that it would make an excellent diversion. Therefore he did not say a word upon the Motion before the House, hut dashed at once into the Budget. I beg his pardon; I misrepresent him. Some few words he did say in the beginning about the Treaty, and most important words they were, because if his arguments and opinions have any value he ought not to move anything about the Budget, or about the course of proceeding; he ought at once to propose a declaration of non-intercourse between England and France. Why, his argument went to that. He said, "I object to your Treaty, because it tends to increase the wealth and prosperity of France." He could not deny that it would, by the necessary operation of international intercourse, tend to increase the wealth and prosperity of England; but he says that anything which tends to make France richer, more prosperous, more commercial, more industrious, is a danger to England. I say that if that is a danger to England, he ought at once to propose a law that we should have no intercourse with France. Let us have no more relations with France; let our industry go to other countries; let us abstain from anything which, by developing industry and a commercial spirit, may tend to make the people of France think more of the occupations of peace than of those of war, which may tend to unite and cement the two nations together; let us put France under a ban, and if we are to have commerce, let us have it with any other, or every other nation of the world.
§ MR. HORSMAN
rose amid confusion and said, the noble Lord, I am sure, will thank me for telling him that I did not say one single syllable—["Oh, oh!"]
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I reaffirm that which I have stated. I do not pretend to have a better memory than other people, but I can recollect that which passed in debate a few minutes ago. I say, then, that if the right hon. Gentleman is consistent, that is the conclusion to which he ought to come. However, his object was to take the House off upon another scent, and he therefore delivered a long discourse upon the Budget of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a speech, no doubt, very able and very full of argument, but one which had no earthly reference to the question under discussion. No doubt great latitude ought to be allowed to every Member of this 1443 House, especially upon subjects which, either directly or indirectly, have reference to finance or taxation; but, really, the question now before the House, as raised by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, is not a question of finance or of taxation, but a question as to the mode and course of proceeding. I would take leave to say that my right hon. Friend was not less out of order in his speech than in the interruption he has just made. I shall not follow his example and discuss the Budget. My right hon. Friend near me is quite able to defend his measure. I will only add this, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) said my right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had departed from the policy of Sir Robert Peel, who never made a deficit. I would request him to look back to those records which will show him what really happened, and he will find that Sir Robert Peel had a deficit in 1842, and that Sir Robert Peel increased a deficit in 1845. I need not trouble the House further, but I do hope we shall come to a decision upon this question, which is simply one as to the course of proceeding, and, as the explanations which have been given show that there is not any real difference between the course which the right hon. Gentleman suggests we should have followed, and that which Her Majesty's Government has pursued, I trust the House will not assent to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 293; Noes 230: Majority 63.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acton, Sir J. D.||Berkeley, hon. H. F.|
|Adam, W. P.||Berkeley, Col. F. W. F.|
|Adeane, H. J.||Bethell, Sir R.|
|Agar-Ellis, hon. L. G. F.||Biddulph, Col.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Biggs, J.|
|Alcock, T.||Black, A.|
|Andover, Visct.||Blake, J.|
|Angerstein, W.||Blencowe, J. G.|
|Antrobus, E.||Bonham-Carter, J.|
|Arnott, Sir J.||Botfield, B.|
|Ashley, Lord.||Bouverie, hon. P. P.|
|Atherton, W.||Brady, J.|
|Bagwell, J.||Bright, J.|
|Baines, E.||Briscoe, J. I.|
|Baring, H. B.||Bristow, A. R.|
|Baring rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Brown, J.|
|Baring, T. G.||Browne, Lord J. T.|
|Bass, M. T.||Bruce, H. A.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Bulkeley, Sir R.|
|Bazley, T.||Buller, J. W.|
|Beale, S.||Buller, Sir A. W.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Burke, Sir T. J.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Butler, C. S.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Butt, I.|
|Buxton, C.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Byng, hon. G.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Caird, J.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Calthorpe, hon. Fred. H. W. G.||Gurdon, B.|
|Gurney, J. H.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Gurney, S.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Hadfield, G.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Hanbury, R.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||Handley, J.|
|Cavendish, hon. W.||Hankey, T.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Cholmeley, Sir M. J.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Hayter, rt. hn. Sir W. G.|
|Clive, G.||Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Heathcote, hon. G. H.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Henley, Lord|
|Collier, R. P.||Herbert, rt. hon. H. A.|
|Coningham, W.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Copeland, Mr. A.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Holland, E.|
|Crook, J.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Crossley, F.||Humberston, P. S.|
|Dalglish, R.||Hutt, W.|
|Davey, R.||Ingham, R.|
|Davie, Col. F.||Ingram, H.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Jackson, W.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||James, E.|
|Dodson, J. G.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Kershaw, J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Dunbar, Sir W.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Duncombe, T.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Dundas, F.||Kingscote, Col.|
|Dunkellin, Lord||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Laing, S.|
|Dutton, hon. R. H.||Langston, J. H.|
|Elcho, Lord||Langton, W. H. G.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Lanigan, J.|
|Euston, Earl of||Lawson, W.|
|Evans, T. W.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Ewart, W.||Levinge, Sir R.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Lindsay, W. S.|
|Ewing, H. E. C.||Locke, Joseph|
|Fenwick, H.||Locke, John|
|Ferguson, Col.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Finlay. A. S.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.||Lysley, W. J.|
|Foley, J. H.||M'Cann, J.|
|Foley, H. W.||Mackie, J.|
|Forster, C.||Mackinnon, Wm. Alex. (Lymington)|
|Foster, W. O.|
|Fortescue, hon. F. D.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Freeland, H. W.||Marjoribanks, D. C.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Marsh, M. H.|
|Gavin, Major||Marshall, W.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Martin, P. W.|
|Gifford, Earl of||Martin, J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||Massey, W. N.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Matheson, A.|
|Glyn, G. G.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Goldsmid, Sir. F. H.||Mellor, J.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||Merry, J.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Mildmay, H. F.|
|Greenwood, J.||Miller, W.|
|Gregory, W. H.||Mills, T.|
|Gregson, S.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Monson, hon. W. J.||Seymour, Sir M.|
|Morris, D.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Noble, J. W.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Norris, J. T.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|North, F.||Smith, J. B.|
|O'Brien, P.||Smith, M. T.|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Smith, Augustus|
|Onslow, G.||Smyth, Col.|
|Osborne, R. B.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.|
|Owen, Sir J.|
|Packe, G. H.||Stafford, Marquess of|
|Paget, C.||Staniland, M.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Steel, J.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Stuart, Col.|
|Paxton, Sir J.||Sykes, Col. W. H.|
|Pease, H.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Peel, Sir R.||Taylor, H.|
|Peel, rt. hon. F.||Thompson, H. S.|
|Peto, Sir S. M.||Tite, W.|
|Pigott, F.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Pilkington, J.||Trelawny, Sir J. S.|
|Pinney, Col.||Turner, J. A.|
|Pollard-Urquhart, W.||Tynte, Col. K.|
|Ponsonby, hon. A.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Portman, hon. W. H. B.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Pryse, E. L.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Pritchard, J.||Walter, J.|
|Proby, Lord||Warre, J. A.|
|Pugh, D. (Carmarthenshire)||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Weymss, J. H. E.|
|Puller, C. W. G.||Western, S.|
|Raynham, Visct.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Ricardo, O.||Whitbread, S.|
|Rich, H.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|Robertson, D.||Williams, W.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Rothschild, Baron L. de||Wise, J. A.|
|Rothschild, Baron M. de||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Roupell, W.||Woods, H.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Worsley, Lord|
|Russell, H.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Russell, A.||Wyld, J.|
|Russell, F. W.||Wyvill, M.|
|St. Aubyn, J.|
|Salomons, Mr. Ald.||TELLERS.|
|Salt, Titus||Brand, hon. H. B.|
|Scholefield, W.||Knatchbull Hugessen, E.|
|Scott, Sir W.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Bentinck, G. W. P.|
|Annesley, hon. Capt. H.||Bentinck, G. C.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Bernard, T. T.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Blackburn, P.|
|Astell, J. H.||Bond, J. W. M'G.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Bovill, W.|
|Bailey, C.||Bowyer, G.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Boyd, J.|
|Ball, E.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Baring, A. H.||Bridges, Sir B. W.|
|Baring, T.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Brooks, R.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Bruce, Major C.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Burghley, Lord|
|Bective, Earl of||Cairns, Sir H. M'C.|
|Beecroft, G. S.||Cartwright, Col.|
|Cave, S.||Horsman, rt. hon. E.|
|Churchill, Lord A. S.||Hotham, Lord|
|Close, M. C.||Howes, E.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hume, W. W. F.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Hunt, G. W.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Cole, hon. H.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Collins, T.||Jervis, Capt.|
|Cooper, C. W.||Johnstone, hon. H. B.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Jolliffe, H. H.|
|Curzon, Visct.||Kekewich, S. T.|
|Davison, R.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Dawson, R. P.||Kendall, N.|
|Deedes, W.||Kennard, R. W.|
|Dickson, Col.||Kerrison, Sir E, C.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||King, J. K.|
|Drax, J. S. W. S. E. D.||Knatchbull, W. F.|
|Du Cane, C.||Knight, F. W.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Knox, Col.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Knox, hon. Major S.|
|Dunn, J.||Lacon, Sir E.|
|Dunne, Col.||Leeke, Sir H.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Lefroy, A.|
|Edwards, Major||Legh, W. J.|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Leighton, Sir B.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Egerton, E. C.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Elmley, Visct.||Long, R. P.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D.||Longfield, R.|
|Farquhar, Sir M.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Farrer, J.||Lyall, G.|
|Fellowes, E.||Lygon, hon. F.|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Lytton, rt. hon. Sir G. E. L. B.|
|Filmer, Sir E.|
|FitzGerald, W. R. S.||Macaulay, K.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||MacEvoy, E.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Malins, R.|
|Gard, R. S.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Garnett, W. J.||March, Earl of|
|George, J.||Maxwell, hon. Col.|
|Gilpin, Col.||Miles, Sir W.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Miller, T. J.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Mills, A.|
|Goff, T. W.||Montagu, Lord R.|
|Gordon, C. W.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Mordaunt, Sir C.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Morgan, O.|
|Graham, Lord W.||Morgan, hon. Major|
|Greaves, E.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Greenall, G.||Mure, D.|
|Greene, J.||Murray, W.|
|Gray, Capt.||Newark, Visct.|
|Grey de Wilton, Visct.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Griffith, C. D.||Newport, Visct.|
|Grogan, Sir E.||Nicol, W.|
|Haliburton, T. C.||North, Col.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Hamilton, Major||Packe, C. W.|
|Hardy, G.||Pakenham, Col.|
|Hartopp, E. B.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Hassard, M.||Palk, L.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Papillon, P. O.|
|Hennessy, J. P.||Parker, Major W.|
|Herbert, Col. P.||Paull, H.|
|Heygate, Sir F. W.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Hill, hon. R. C.||Pevensey, Visct.|
|Holford, R. S.||Potts, G.|
|Holmesdale, Visct.||Powys, P. L.|
|Hood, Sir A. A.||Pugh, D. (Montgomery)|
|Hope, G. W.||Quinn, P.|
|Hornby, W. H.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Rogers, J. J.||Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.|
|Rolt, J.||Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Salt, Thomas||Upton, hon. Gen.|
|Sclater-Booth, G.||Valletort, Visct.|
|Selwyn, C. J.||Vance, J.|
|Seymer, H. K.||Vandeleur, Col.|
|Shirley, E. P.||Vansittart, W.|
|Sibthorp, Major||Vernon, L. V.|
|Smith, Montagu||Walcott, Adm.|
|Smith, Abel||Walker, J. R.|
|Smith, S. G.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Watlington, J. W. P.|
|Somes, J.||Way, A. E.|
|Stanhope, J. B.||Whiteside, rt. hon. J.|
|Stanley, Lord||Whitmore, H.|
|Stirling, W.||Williams, Col.|
|Steuart, A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Stewart, Sir M. R. S.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Stuart, Major W.||Wyndham, Sir H.|
|Sturt, H. G.||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Sturt, N.||Wynn, Col.|
|Stracey, Sir H.||Wynne, C. G.|
|Sullivan, M.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Talbot, hon. W. C.||Yorke, hon. E. T,|
|Thynne, Lord E.|
|Thynne, Lord H.||TELLERS.|
|Tollemache, J.||Jolliffe, Sir W.|
|Tomline, G.||Taylor, Col.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. DU CANE
said, that as the Amendment of his right hon. Friend had been negatived, he believed that, according to the forms of the House, a second Resolution by way of Amendment could not be moved upon the Question, That Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair. He begged to give notice that to-morrow upon the Motion for going into Committee on the Customs Acts, he should move a Resolution by way of Amendment in as nearly similar terms to the Motion which stood in his name as the forms of the House would permit.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he was disposed to offer every facility to the hon. Gentleman, if, upon consideration, he thought it right to persevere with his Motion.
§ MR. BRIGHT
asked, whether it was quite understood whether the House would go on to-morrow with the Motion for Committee on the Customs Acts, as he had heard some doubts expressed on the subject during the division.
§ House in Committee; Mr. MASSEY in the Chair.
§ Acts considered.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he proposed to go into Committee to-morrow, and he hoped that those hon. Gentlemen who had Motions on the paper for to-morrow would make those arrangements which it was understood the other day would be made on this occasion.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again this day (Tuesday).