Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [8th March].
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to assure Her Majesty that, having considered the Treaty of Commerce concluded between Her Majesty and the Emperor of the,' French, this House begs leave to approach Her Majesty with their sincere and grateful acknowledgments for this new proof of Her Majesty's desire to promote the welfare and happiness off Her subjects:
To assure Her Majesty that we shall proceed to take such steps as may be necessary for giving effect to a system which we trust will promote a beneficial intercourse between Great Britain and France, tend to the extension of Trade and Manufacture, and give additional security for the continuance of the blessings of Peace.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed..
§ MR. HORSMAN
Sir, as this debate affords the first opportunity which has been presented to the House of considering the Commercial Treaty with France as a whole, I will follow the example which has been set by the Mover and Seconder of the Address, and before I direct the attention of the House to the Amendment which I am about to propose, discuss the general policy and general character of the Treaty itself. The readiness with which the House has voted the financial Resolutions which are necessary in order to give the Treaty effect shows how desirable, in the opinion of hon. Members, is the extension of our commercial relations with Franco, and how advantageous the political and moral results which, in their estimation, will be consequent on increased intercourse between two great nations. We have, in assenting to this Treaty, made large fiscal sacrifices, to be compensated for by the imposition of new burdens; and while we have thus borne our testimony to the value which we set on the friendship of France, we have done our utmost to aid Her Majesty's Ministers in their laudable endeavour to perpetuate and strengthen that friendship. We have made concessions to France upon our side which might be made independent of Treaty, and she has also on her part made concessions to this country for the purpose of carrying which into effect no Treaty was necessary; and we now stand in the position of being invited to express our approbation of the peculiar mode of giving effect to their policy which the Government has 248 adopted. And since all these concessions might have been made altogether independent of any treaty, I will first inquire why a treaty has been resorted to for that purpose. Now, I must contend that to enter into a treaty of reciprocity is a retrograde step for England to take. It is a step which is inconvenient, and which may lead to embarrassment. I make this statement because I am of opinion that if there be one right which more than another it becomes the Parliament of England to guard most vigilantly, it is that which gives us a complete control over our domestic, and especially over our fiscal arrangements, so that we might be able to increase, to diminish, or to modify our national expenditure or our fiscal regulations in accordance with what may happen to be the true interests and the real exigencies of our own people. Now, by entering into a treaty of reciprocity, this is a right we abandon; f and, having concluded this Treaty with France, we shall have no power next year.' to rectify any omissions or oversights which may be found in it. We give up our legislative freedom; we barter it away to another Power; so that the control over tile taxation of England will no longer rest exclusively with her own Parliament, but will be, as it were, a portion of the business of the French Government. We have, in short, by this Treaty, bound ourselves indissolubly to France, and henceforward it is only by her good favour that our fetters can be relaxed. We have, in acceding to it, violated one of the first principles of our commercial code—the repudiation of the doctrine of reciprocity. This, I contend, is a great sacrifice to a nation that has been so proud of its independence—it is a sacrifice so great as to be hardly capable of exaggeration—a sacrifice which could only be justified by some great impending evil to be avoided, or some good to arise so large and so legitimate, that no price which we could pay would be too high. It is necessary, therefore, to turn t6""H'ef Majesty's Ministers, and ask what are their motives for entering into this Treaty, and what is its compensation. For some time—for a longtime—this has been asked in vain. When the existence of this Treaty was first announced, we were told by the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown that this particular form of arrangement was necessitated by the peculiar constitution of France, and must have been resorted to in order to provide that security for the fulfilment of the stipulations into 249 which she was prepared to enter which the interests of England required. But security fur the equivalents we were receiving implies that England sought the Treaty, and required to have equivalents secured to her. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us we were entitled to no equivalent, and that we are doing by Treaty what it is our interest to do without Treaty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer most significantly avoided all explanation of the reason for a Treaty; and I must say I appreciate his motives in doing so. But at a later period the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs was compelled to give some explanation, and then he told us—what I do not wonder the Government for some time was reluctant to avow—the real reason was, that in France the prohibitionists were too strong for the Emperor; they had the command of the Legislative Chamber. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: I did not say so.] I cannot presume to quote the exact words of the noble Lord, but I understood him to say we are obliged to resort to a treaty to effect a change which probably the Legislative Chamber would not sanction.
§ MR. HORSMAN
I thought I heard the noble Lord say that a treaty had been resorted to, because by the ordinary constitutional mode of submitting a project of law to the Legislature, it was likely not to be sanctioned. That was the statement we heard; and it only confirmed statements which had reached us from every side before. It comes to this—that the Emperor of the French is a Free trader; the French nation are Protectionists, and, therefore, if left to settle the question between themselves, it must be settled adversely to the Emperor, because the project, if submitted to the Legislative Chambers, would certainly be rejected. Every man in the House knows that to be the case. In this difficulty the Emperor of the French addresses himself to the English Cabinet. "Deal with me," he says, "by a treaty of reciprocity. To be sure, it is against your law, but it won't he the first time you have endeavoured to oblige me by changing your law." "Give me," he says, "a treaty of reciprocity; by this moans I can laugh at my Chambers, and can force free trade down the throats of my reluctant subjects." The Cabinet of England appeals to us, the constitutional repre- 250 sentatives of this moral country, and they think that we, the House of Commons, do good service to the principles we represent by making ourselves, I will not say the accomplices, but the instruments, through whom the ruler of France may evade the constitutional control of his own Legislature; and that we would deem it just and generous and politic to lend ourselves to a device by which he may mock his subjects. And with this motive, patent to all the world, we are to proceed to loosen one of the fundamental principles of our commercial code, and compromise and confuse the policy of England to meet the necessities of France. Now, these are the motives of the Treaty; and what is to be the compensation? By this act, say the admirers of the Treaty, you secure the friendship of the French nation; by helping their Emperor to jockey them you I secure their eternal gratitude; you will get such a hold of their affections that old jealousies and animosities will become as dead as reciprocity was six months ago; and, as to the war party in France, you will never hear of it again, as M. Chevalier said the other day; and those who were wont to exclaim against perfidious Albion would hasten to the Hotel Meurice to enrol themselves as members of the Peace Society. Such are the great results we have been promised. Peace, friendship, gratitude, are great results, but they are not all. There is something more behind. This, it is said, is a transaction which will turn out most profitable for England. We shall make great profit by it. Our coalowners, our ironmasters will get new markets; our manufacturers will have a new nation of customers; French wines and silks shall be cheapened and made accessible to all the middle class; there shall be, as was expressed by an hon. Baronet behind me, a millennium of prosperity; and, if any weak brother in Lancashire or elsewhere has a conscience to prick him for having behaved rather shabbily to his poor French neighbours, let him count his gains, go home thankful, and be satisfied. Sir, this is a very glowing prospectus of the now course on which we are invited to embark. But my objection is, that like many a promising prospectus, it is based on false calculations, and even as a commercial speculation it may not pay. The equivalents we are promised are of two kinds, material and moral. The material equivalents are in the direction of free trade. Sir, I studied the principles 251 of free trade—I adopted them long before they were embraced by any occupant of the Treasury Bench except the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. P. Villiers). I am not to be told now, by Gentlemen who throw up their hats at the eleventh hour that I do not comprehend its principles or appreciate its spirit. The principles of free trade, carried fairly out as I understand them, have for their object and result to unite nations together by common interests, to make them mutually dependent and assistant, to erase geographical distinctions, and unite France and England together as closely, as indissolubly, as Lancashire and Yorkshire are united together, so that whatever benefits the one must react on the other, and whatever conduces to the material wealth and prosperity of the one must add to the wealth and prosperity of the other; and, therefore, on the narrowest grounds of selfish policy, every consistent Free-trader would desire to promote the material prosperity of France as a great advantage to England. My opinion is also, that the moral benefits conferred on nations by free trade are even greater than the material. It was well said by the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) last night, that the commercial intercourse of nations is the great security for peace, and peace is the great moral agent for civilizing and elevating mankind. Therefore, free trade is, in my mind, associated not merely with wealth and commerce, but with the peace and morality of nations. But it is quite consistent with those opinions that, when there is an entirely exceptional state of things in France—when the military element predominates over the commercial—when you have a policy of aggression and aggrandizement openly avowed and unscrupulously carried out—when you have armaments by sea and land such as the world has never seen before, and a military organization unknown since the days of the Roman Empire—it is, I say, quite consistent with the appreciation of free-trade principles, that I should hold that this is not precisely the moment when we should part with our legislative independence, especially to that Power whose menacing attitude to ourselves imposes on us in time of peace war taxes and burdens and a grievous expenditure in order to protect us from the attacks which we apprehend from herself. My difference with those who see so much in favour of this Treaty as to the application of free trade is in reality not so 252 much a matter of principle as a matter of definition. When they speak of France they mean the French Emperor; when I speak of France I speak of the French nation. And there is a distinction to be drawn which this Treaty ignores between the free intercourse of nations, patent to all the world, and the intrigues of Governments, that are a secret to everybody but themselves. It is because the Treaty ignores that distinction that I say it is founded on false principles—it violates the first principles of commercial freedom and international right—and on that ground I believe it may yet bear bitter and pernicious fruits. The material equivalents we are promised are two—first, the admission of our coal and iron at a low duty, and then the admission of our manufactures at a protective duty beginning at 30 per cent, by and by to be reduced to 25 per cent. As to coal and iron, I will leave them till I come to the Amendment I mean to move to the 11th Article. But as to the low duty of 30 per cent on our English manufactures, I believe it is the opinion of those most capable of forming an opinion on this subject, that a protecting duty of 30 per cent will, after all, turn out to be prohibitory. That is the opinion which, I understand, has been pronounced by the Leeds Chamber of Commerce, in a well-considered resolution; and I was somewhat surprised to find that the hon. Member for Leeds, who spoke last night with so much ability and effect, appeared not to have remembered this fact; but they say that is their opinion, and it is confirmed by other authority. I saw it stated in the Journal des Débats, which is a great free-trade authority, and an organ of the Emperor, that 30 per cent was intended by the Emperor to be a prohibitory duty, and that he had outwitted the English negotiators. This has received some confirmation from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said about French gloves, which were practically excluded by a duty of 15 per cent. As far, then, as material equivalents go, we do not gain much from this Treaty. We allow French manufactures to come in duty free, while our manufactures on entering France are to pay 30 per cent. We derive no revenue whatever from the manufactures of France, while, if the apprehensions entertained acress the Channel are realized, France will obtain an immense revenue from our manufactures. Again, the Treaty is not to come into operation on the side of France for eighteen 253 months; on our side it takes effect immediately. In fact, we make a present to the Emperor of no less than two millions, while we have a deficit in our own exchequer that has to be made up from an increased income tax. The reciprocity of all this is somewhat of an Irish character. But then there are the moral equivalents. Through this Treaty you are to secure peace and friendship with France. If these results were indeed to follow, they would be cheaply purchased even at ten times the price now asked from us. But by what subtle process of metaphysical inquiry are we brought to the conclusion that the best way to win the friendship of the French people is to begin by irritating and wounding their feelings? The French are generally esteemed a quick and susceptible race, likely to be jealous of anything that savours of an impertinent meddling on our part between themselves and their Emperor, and peculiarly alive to the ridicule which stings a sensitive man when told that he has been "done." I do not see how, by hurting the amour propre of the French nation, you are to provoke them to love us. Still less can I divine how the prospects of peace are to be improved by our making enemies of the commercial class in France—the only class there hitherto averse to war. The fallacy that lurks beneath these alluring promises lies in confounding the French Emperor with the French people. It is of the very essence of this Treaty that the two are quite distinct. Their views are antagonistic; they take opposite sides. What gratifies the Emperor in this matter offends France. What serves the Emperor, in the estimation of the people ruins France. ["Oh, oh!"] I appeal to those who have taken the trouble to read the French journals, the organs of French opinion. We are asked to side with the Emperor against the people; and on what plea? Because this change is so unpalatable, so odious to the French nation that he cannot carry it by his own influence and power. To be sure his Legislative Chamber is a mere mockery, his nominees compose it, and he can dissolve it at his pleasure. Yet, weak and dependent as it is, it has spirit enough on this occasion to reject a project against which France is so united. England must therefore help him—help him to elude his Chamber by depriving the nation of the last remnant of a voice in the management of its own affairs. And we, who have been proclaiming the right of the Italians 254 to choose their own form of Government, are to refuse the French nation the right to choose its own form of taxation; we are to enter into this plot against the French people—to conspire against them with their ruler. We deliver them, surprised, helpless, but irritated and incensed, into his hands. Because you must not imagine that all this, which is so openly done, is lost upon the French nation. This Treaty is not a diplomatic secret, buried in the mysterious recesses of the Foreign Office; no—it is only to take effect if the Parliament of England, in the face of all the world, adopts the new morality of the Code Napoleon. Observe, how ignoble and doubly odious is our part in this transaction. The Emperor had an alternative under the constitution, if he could find an opportunity to use it; but when that constitution was framed he had no such opportunity. So stepping out of our way and changing our law, we give him that opportunity and tempt him to employ it. Any hon. Gentleman who reads the French newspapers will learn for himself what they say of our proceedings. They are saying at this moment, that the Emperor has bribed England to help him to trip up France—that the complicity of a nation of shopkeepers has been purchased through the lust of lucre for sordid purposes, and that our services have been sold to aid him in circumventing his people. The Protectionists of France—if I may say it without offence to the hon. Gentlemen opposite—are a very benighted race; but they are entitled to fair play from us at least. Why not leave them to fight out their quarrel with their own Emperor? Surely he has odds enough in his favour if he wishes to convert them. The Protectionists of France know their own interests, they say, as well as we do, and know how to distinguish the morality we praise and the mammon we worship—between the friendship and the treachery we practise. But the Treaty is in the interests of peace! What says the Moniteur Industriel, which was quoted the other night by the hon. Member for Birmingham? It says, "This Treaty will not come into operation on the part of France for eighteen months. By that time our armaments will be complete, our fleet equipped, and we will blow this treaty to atoms with cannon balls," If the Emperor has not power to carry out this change in 1860, what security have we that he will be able to give effect to it in 1861? If, 255 unfortunately, the French nation are then disposed to pick a quarrel with us, may they not say we have given them a provocation founded on a fraud? If we cannot justify this Treaty to the French nation on moral grounds, no commercial advantages to arise from it can compensate for its evils. But why our hot haste to grasp these alleged commercial advantages? Cannot we be satisfied with the immense material prosperity we are now enjoying from the adoption of free trade, that we must play tricks and tamper with the source of that prosperity? We have not the excuse of commercial pressure or financial embarrassment for this exceptional legislation. All interests are thriving, money-making is going on to an extent unparalleled in the history of the country, and our people are now blessed not only with wealth and comfort, but also contentment. Why endanger all this by a mad chase after more riches and more contentment? No argument could be more untenable than that, having heretofore consistently adhered to a sound political economy, we should now recede from it to help France to advance. The advice which Sir Robert Peel bequeathed to his successors in this matter was, that they should take no heed of foreigners except to set them an example which we might be sure they would sooner or later follow. And just at the very moment when our example is telling on the most powerful and important country in the world we are abandoning our principles in the face of all nations. Even as a commercial speculation believe that this Treaty will not pay; its profits will not compensate for its risks. We have not found it very profitable attempting to make Free-traders of the Chinese; I hope we are not going to burn our fingers with the French. In his Speech the other day the Emperor of the French said this Treaty only anticipated what he himself would have been compelled in a short time to do without its instrumentality. I believe that the French people would take free trade more readily from their own Emperor, and that they would take it as a poisoned gift from us. I believe that we are prejudicing the question of free trade by associating it in the minds of the French people with the notion of a gift from us:—at any rate, I have no faith in the permanence of any system, commercial or political, which is carried in opposition to the opinion of the people of France by a coup d'état. There is another and a more important ground on which I 256 strongly protest against this Treaty. It has been submitted to us as a political transaction. In that light, also, the commercial changes and financial considerations which it involves have been passed by the Committees of this House; and in that light the House must regard it. Now, our relations with Italy, France, and the other great Powers of Europe are at this moment of a very critical and delicate character. They cast an immense responsibility upon every Member of this House, and impose upon us a duty from the discharge of which we ought not to shrink. Within the last week the Emperor of France has delivered a Speech which has agitated every bourse in Europe. Within the last few days the Minister of that Emperor has published two despatches, one of them addressed to the French Ambassador in London, which have changed the whole aspect of European politics; and while England is still perturbed by this new revelation of the Imperial policy, we are invited before the whole world to enter into this new bond of union and brotherly compact. Now, Sir, I ask, what does a new political alliance with France indicate—to what is it to lead? Let me remind the House of the circumstances under which this Treaty was negotiated, of the circumstances under which it was submitted for our approval. In the letter of instructions addressed by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the British Plenipotentiaries I and this, which is now more than ever a very important passage. He says:—Over and above these considerations (the commercial ones), they attach a high social and political value to the conclusion of a Commercial Treaty with Franco. Its general tendency would be to lay broad and deep foundations in common interest and in friendly intercourse for the confirmation of the amicable relations which so happily exist between the two countries; and while thus making a provision for the future, which would gradually become more and more solid and efficacious, its significance at the present moment, when the condition of some parts of the Continent is critical, would be at once understood, and would powerfully reassure the public mind in the various countries of Europe.Now, I ask, what is the construction that any Member of this House would put upon that paragraph? The construction I put upon it is this, that by the Treaty the great Powers of Europe were to be informed that England and France had come to an understanding as to their common policy in regard to the affairs of Europe; and 257 that especially upon the foremost question which was then agitating men's minds, and engrossing the attention of the Cabinets of Europe, the settlement of Italy there was between them that intimate alliance and close accord which would tend to reassure the public mind as to the prospects of peace. I will venture to say that not only is that the construction which would be put upon this paragraph by every Member of this House, but I will appeal to the candour of the noble Lord himself, whether in his own mind that was not the interpretation which he intended to be put upon it. That was the spirit in which the negotiators were instructed to act at the commencement of these negotiations. What was the spirit in which the Treaty was submitted to this House? Were we not advised to adopt it as giving to Europe a public indication of the confidence existing between the Cabinets of England and France, their community of sentiment, and their cordial co-operation and accord upon questions of European policy? Were we not further reminded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the most eloquent and earnest of the advocates of the Treaty, that an alliance between England and France must be in favour of the freedom and civilization of mankind, and therefore that it could not be too close; and, above all, was not the recommendation to adopt that Treaty preceded by the most solemn assurance that France had no designs on Savoy? By these reiterated assurances, by these solemn declarations, the House was invited to the adoption of the Treaty—which was, we were also told, to be a most significant political demonstration, which could not be mistaken by Europe. A few weeks have passed, and where do we stand now? Will her Majesty's Ministers now venture to recommend the Treaty on the same grounds? Has not the Speech of the Emperor of France blown all these hopes and expectations to the wind? Have not the despatches of the Minister of the Emperor shown that all these promises were based upon a fiction? I would ask has the House of Commons been treated quite frankly—has the public of England been used quite fairly upon this subject? We have had the Savoy papers presented to us. I have read those papers, as every other Member of this House has done, and I have come to the conclusion that some of them form a most favourable contrast to the attitude and demeanour which have on some occasions been 258 adopted by the Government of England towards that of France. I must say that to me it is most refreshing to see the tone and language recently adopted by the noble Lord, the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It is refreshing to me to see that there is in him the spirit of a statesman and the sound and true heart of an English Minister; and, so far as I can gather his spirit from the perusal of his late despatches, I, for one, should be well content that the honour of England should be left in his hands. But, Sir, I cannot help feeling that the noble Lord is not the whole Cabinet of England; and we have been assured upon high authority that on this, as upon other occasions, there may be differences of opinion. The noble Lord cannot be said to be the master of the Cabinet; on the contrary, we are told that the Cabinet has another master, who is not at present in his place. [The right hon. Gentleman was supposed to hint at Mr. Bright.] We have to day seen it stated in one of the most influential journals of public opinion in France that in England there has been the age of Elizabeth, that there has been the age of Pitt, and that this is the age of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. Now, I, for one, never grudge my hon. Friend any of the honours which are paid to him. If he were here, I should like to say to him that he has won them bravely. He has won them by his courage; he has won them by his earnestness even more than by his ability. He has won them by the determination and fearlessness with which he has advocated his opinions and his policy. I am one of those who think that earnestness and sincerity are the first qualities of statesmanship. And, therefore, whether or not I agree with my hon. Friend in his opinions, at least I offer him so far the tribute of my respect; but I must be permitted to say that I have for some time past viewed with some anxiety and apprehension, especially with regard to our foreign policy, the predominance of the commercial influence in this House. I prize the commercial greatness of England, and I prize it not merely as a source of wealth and comfort to ourselves, but also as a great instrument of civilization and religion, carrying the influence of England to bless the remotest corners of the globe. But I feel that among nations as among individuals there is a more exalted code than that of self-interest; and the very greatness of 259 England, her place among the nations, her lofty attitude, and her moral grandeur, impose upon her at times duties and obligations proportioned to the space she fills and the power she wields. And with nations as with individuals, there are occasions on which a principle is to be vindicated, an example to be set, a duty to be discharged to others, overriding for the moment what may be most convenient or agreeable to ourselves; and, when such occasions do arise, obedience to the calls of high policy and justice is not less in keeping with the precepts of Christianity when it compels us to prove the sincerity of the principles which we profess by the sacrifices by which we are ready to support them. Now, Sir, events of such a character are gathering in Europe that we cannot tell how soon we may need some English statesman ready to evoke that English spirit which, though dormant, is not extinct, and which in these days, as much as in any others of our history, would spurn the humiliating reproach that Englishmen are, after all, nothing but money-making machines, and that England has no higher mission than trade. Having stated my opinion of the tone and language of the noble Lord's despatches, and having offered to him, as I do, my sincere and grateful tribute for their spirit, I must revert to what has been with me and with some others an old subject of complaint in this House—namely, the scantiness of their character, and the reluctance with which, scanty as they are, they have been laid upon our table. It is rather a strange fact that the diplomatic correspondence of the despotic Governments of France and Austria is published to all the world, while the secrecy of constitutional England keep back from her own Parliament knowledge which is important to the discussion of her own political affairs. I have always objected to this system of secrecy, because I hold that a system of secrecy necessarily becomes a system of deception; and I am sorry to say that I cannot make the present instance an exception to that rule. I must call the attention of the House to what it is impossible for me to notice but with pain and regret—it may be susceptible of explanation—I hope it is—there has been an unusual application of the scissors to the Correspondence which has been laid upon the table, and therefore we may assume that much has been kept back which, if it were published, might throw a new light upon what has been revealed. Some allow- 260 ance may also be made for the effect of those differences which my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham has told us exist within the Cabinet upon the subject of our foreign policy, and which may, in some parts, have clothed the language of the noble Lord in an ambiguity not his own. But still this fact remains, that at the very time the Ministers of England were recommending the Treaty to our adoption, with encomiums on the Emperor and expressions of confidence in his pacific policy, they were instructing their Ambassador in Paris to remonstrate with him on that policy, which they said was creating distrust and alarm in Europe. At the very moment they were inviting us to pay this ostentatious tribute of our homage and esteem to the Emperor of the French, they were possessed of information to show that he was meditating the greatest outrage against the public law and morality of Europe that has stained its history since the days of the First Napoleon. Therefore, I repeat the question—has the House been quite frankly treated by the Government? Here is a political treaty of alliance with France. What does an alliance with France mean? Does it not mean an alliance prospectively against some other Power? And is there any other Power at this moment with whose principles of international policy we have not more sympathy and a closer approximation than we have with France? Is it possible for any two countries to differ more widely than we do from France as to the policy to be pursued in Italy? Our principle is that the Italians should govern themselves. The policy of France is that Italy should be governed by France. Our policy is that Savoy should pertain to the paternal Government of Piedmont. The French policy is that Savoy should pertain to France. Our policy is respect for treaties, reverence for international rights, as the best security for the peace of the world. The policy of France is the extinction of treaties, aggression, aggrandizement, and war. Yet, while the sentiments, the principles, and the policy of the two countries are the antipodes of one another, we are invited to form this now political alliance, which we are told is to have an unmistakenable signifiance in the eyes of Europe. It will have an unmistakeable significance as a fraudulent pretence of an identity of interest and policy which the Emperor himself has publicly and not very courteously or graciously repudiated. To the Treaty, as a whole, therefore, I object, both as to 261 its policy and its principles. As a treaty of reciprocity it gives everything and receives nothing. While the old-fashioned principle of taxing the foreigner for the benefit of the Englishman may have been a selfish one, I must own, for one, that I prefer it to the philosophy of the now school, that would tax the Englishman to benefit the foreigner. As a political transaction, giving the Emperor an escape from his own Legislature, I think it is to be condemned on constitutional and moral grounds. As a security for peace it defeats its own object by sowing the seeds of enmity and exasperation that are akin to war. As a proof of confidence in the Emperor it is belied by our increasing estimates and armaments; and as identifying us with the foreign policy of France it is particularly objectionable, since it connects us with a policy we cannot fathom, with an Ally we cannot trust, and makes us responsible for consequences which all Europe is certain to deplore. But, if anything could show what I think is the mistaken spirit in which this Treaty has been negotiated, it would be the manner in which concession to France and sacrifice of the interests of England is exhibited by the 11th Article. I léave the constitutional question upon the ground on which it was placed by the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) last night, but I reiterate the opinion which I expressed some weeks ago, that, when the Queen was advised to assume legislative functions, controlling future Parliaments as to the taxation of the country, Her Majesty was advised, in connection with this Article, to exercise a power in excess of Her prerogative. Further consideration and inquiry have confirmed me in that opinion, and I still believe that no high legal or constitutional authority will attempt to controvert it. But, as I have said in my Amendment, that Article is unnecessary. All the other Articles of the Treaty effect some changes. This Article effects no change whatever. No export duty is now levied on coal; no export duty is contemplated on coal; on the contrary, the export duty which was at one time imposed upon coal was repealed in 1845 on the express ground that it was at variance with the principles of our financial system. France has at this moment all that she requires in a commercial point of view. She has access to our pits, the full use of our minerals, as we have ourselves, and all that is required is to leave matters as they 262 are. In every sense—whether considered in an economical, a commercial, a financial, or a political point of view—this Article of the Treaty is objectionable and injurious to the country. Consider it in an economical point of view. When I first took the liberty of calling the attention of the House to this Article I stated that in 1842 Dr. Buckland had very strongly represented to Sir Robert Peel his apprehension of the exhaustion of our coalfields. I also stated that Sir Robert Peel placed an export duty on coal, although I would not take upon myself to say, speaking from recollection, that he did so in consequence of the representations made to him by Dr. Buckland. I spoke at that time from a very imperfect recollection of what had occurred eighteen years ago; but since then I have referred to the transactions of 1842, and I find that I very much understated the case; that Sir Robert Peel quoted Dr. Buckland and Mr. Warburton in this House, attaching weight to their opinions as to the exhaustibility of coal, and that he connected his export duty with those opinions. I made a further statement. I said it was now proved by accurate surveys that the coal-fields in the north of England, on which at one time we thought we must depend for a supply, would be worked out in 300 years. I said there were larger and newer coalfields in Wales, of which there had been no accurate survey, and I suggested that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire and report as to the probable duration of the coal. Since I made that statement I have received communications from many gentlemen, with most of whom I was entirely unacquainted, from geologists, from engineers, from men practically engaged in the working of coal, all showing the great uncertainty that exists upon this subject, and all expressing apprehension and alarm upon it. I would not venture to quote any of those communications which are written in favour of my views; but I may refer to one from a very eminent authority, seeing that he is himself a Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, who writes a letter which hon. Gentlemen have had an opportunity of reading in The Times, and which is penned for the purpose of refuting my statements. The House will see that Professor Ansted, though he comes to different conclusions, actually confirms both my facts and arguments. He gives a detailed and, I have no doubt, very accurate 263 account of all the coalfields—their locality, character, and extent—in England, Scotland, and Wales, and he sums up his conclusions in a short sentence. He says that we have a total of 4,000,000 acres, or, in round numbers, 6,000 square miles, of coal in the British islands. Then, calculating the annual consumption of coal in England at present as not less than 80,000,000 tons, he estimates that the whole will be exhausted in about 350 years. Such is the opinion of a Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, who writes for the express purpose of showing that my apprehensions are unfounded, because he goes on to say that, as coal becomes scarce, exhaustion will be prevented by a rise of price, which will lead the nation to husband the article—a statement which I hope the House will observe. Let me give an illustration of the extent to which the consumption of coal is going on. It has been already stated to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it proceeds from perhaps the very highest scientific authority in England. He says, that if you were to build a column—not a pyramid—with a base as large as the square of Lincoln's-inn Fields, and with a summit as high as Snowdon, it would pretty accurate represent what is the annual consumption of coal in England at this moment. Varying the figure, he says that if you were to cover the whole of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens with coal to the height of the highest houses in the neighbourhood, you would not have a larger mass than is annually consumed in this country alone. This gentleman also says, "I cannot tell you how soon the exhaustion of coal will take place; but of this I have no doubt, that within twenty five years there will be a rise of price that at this moment would be incredible." All the highest authorities admit that, with the present consumption going on, before long there will be a very great increase of price. Now, what does that mean? Does it not mean an increased cost of production, an increase in the cost of manufactures, a severer competition in foreign markets, a loss of the power of underselling our rivals in those markets, and a sacrifice of the present margin of profit? What is the source of the English manufacturer's prosperity and success? The abundance of labour? It is cheaper in Prance. The ingenuity of our countrymen? The people of France are at least as ingenious. Our climate? The climate of France is supe- 264 rior to ours. It is that in England exclusively there is a cheap and abundant supply of the first element of manufacturing prosperity, and that by its means producing cheaply, she can outstrip the rivalry of foreign nations, and carry away the profits and trade of the world. This, too, must be remembered—we are only now working the coal that is more accessible, that which is near the surface, and can be got at the least cost. Increased demand, however, means deeper mines, more extensive machinery, worse ventilation, multiplied accidents, increased waste and loss of life, and greater enhancement of price; and, as to enhancement of price, is there a manufactory in Lancashire, an establishment in Yorkshire, or a furnace in Birmingham, in which enhanced price of coal does not mean increased cost of production followed by diminished profit? It is said with truth that France is not conferring any favour upon us by taking our coal. In a commercial point of view, it will be no advantage to England. It will be a great advantage, no doubt, to our coal proprietors, but their interests are rather on the side of France taking our coal in order to raise the price of coal in England. But an increase in the price of coal is equivalent to a new tax upon the people, and an enhanced price of coal is really an addition to our income tax. There can be no doubt that coal is an exhaustible commodity. Every ton exported is so far a diminution of the capital on which England relies, is a diminution of the manufacturing and productive power of England, and so far accelerates the term of her prosperity and greatness. And yet, knowing this, you are giving foreign nations a vested right in English coal. You are making them co-partners and co-proprietors in the first element of your commercial success; and you are doing this when it is known that coal is a first element of national life and that its exhaustion will be the end of national prosperity. You are doing this in the improvident, greedy, and speculative race for wealth which marks our time. You are wasting that inheritance of which Providence has made us the trustees; you are squandering—wickedly squandering, I must say—that on which the wealth, the success, and, indeed, the continued existence of the greatness of our country depend. It must also be remembered that coal and-iron are the raw materials of war. An army and navy cannot move without coal; it is as essential as gunpowder to a 265 nation; and is it not right to reserve the legal and acknowledged power of stopping the supplies of that which is the first element of war when you may believe that other nations are organizing a combination to attack us? Coal, also, is not only a great instrument of war, but an instrument of peace, because can there be a greater element of strength to us in our negotiations with foreign Powers than that they cannot move without coal, that we can stop their supplies, and that we are the only nation in Europe having that abundant supply of coal which is in a condition to carry on a long and protracted war? Financially, there is not much to be said about it. No one would advise an export duty on coal. It is vicious in principle, and pernicious in operation. Sir Robert Peel, however, did feel that coal being an exhaustible commodity, might be an exception to the general principle, and he laid an export duty on coal, partly because it is an exhaustible commodity, and partly because it is the element of strength in enabling foreign nations to compete with us in the markets of the world. No one advises an export duty to be laid on coal now; but I say we ought not to part with the power of laying on such a duty. Our financial position is not very satisfactory, nor are our prospects very assuring. The export duty imposed by Sir Robert Peel in 1842 was admitted to be a failure, and people say that an export duty of that kind will always be unproductive. But they forget that in 1842 this duty was imposed in the face of hostile tariffs. Coal was not then admitted into France and the Continent. There was a protective, almost a prohibitive, duty against it. But now foreign countries are going to admit it freely and abundantly; and if you were going to impose an export duty on coal it would amount to this, that while a duty on coal would yield a very large revenue, in the one instance, an export duty would go into your own exchequer, in the other case an import duty will go into the exchequer of France. It is unwise and unnecessary that for all time coming you should deprive England of the power of making a financial arrangement with other countries. There is one thing I must say, which it is rather mortifying to observe, and that is the sagacity on this subject exhibited by the Emperor of the French in contrast with the weakness of our own Government. The Emperor of the French knew that coal is a mighty engine for war 266 —he knew that for commercial purposes it is a mightier engine for peace. He knew that it is the source of England's greatness, that it is the power by which she commands wealth and ascendancy in Europe. Wisely and sagaciously, therefore, he obtained a right of ownership in England's coal. Wisely and sagaciously he has deprived England of the sole ownership and control over her own mineral resources. We feel that we have much to dread from the probability that English coal will be used against us in war. We have much more to dread it as an element of competition in peace. Reversing the policy of Sir Robert Peel—the jealous patriotism that guided him—our Government have cheapened coal to Rouen and Havre, and make it dearer to Birmingham and Manchester. Can any advantages arising from the increased trade of coal compensate for the heavier load and increased cost of manufacture, if we increase the competition in foreign markets against ourselves? Nature has prevented the French Emperor from so acting in return. The Emperor does not bestow on us a share in the sun of southern France, nor can he give us or share with us the brilliant hues of French silks or the delicate favour of French wines. The command of these he must keep. He is secured in these respects from the possibility of reciprocity. But the whole shores of the Channel, from Dunkirk to Cherbourg, and the whole country, from the banks of the Seine to the great Manchester of France, he has made a part, and a favoured part, of England in respect to coal; and henceforth you have a race eminent for industry, for energy, for taste in the fine arts, who have acquired a vested and permanent right in the mineral resources of England. I say the whole history of civilized legislation furnishes no parallel for such improvidence. This is the more inexplicable, because it is now proved on every ground to be unnecessary; it was not called for by the interest of England, nor demanded by the Government of France, for the Ambassador of France the moment this question was stirred, knowing how objectionable the principle was, how obnoxious and unpopular it must be in England, and how injurious to this country, came forward voluntarily and suggested to the Government a modification of that Article. Our Government would listen to no modification. It is true they in effect say the time may come when the interest of England may re- 267 quire that the export of coal should be taxed or prohibited; but against the interest of England, if the revenue should require that tax, we will now protect France. The time may come when Governments succeeding us may feel it a matter of policy or of patriotism to impose that duty; it may be inconvenient to Prance—injurious to France; you (the French) may have apprehensions about it; but we will now give you a guarantee for the future time. Our own tenure of office may be a matter of years or months; that is uncertain; but at least as long as it lasts we will take the opportunity of giving you a charter of right that cannot be questioned by any English Minister in future; and if we have at this moment by the possession of coal a superiority over France, we will waive that superiority and descend in that respect to your level, and let you have a fair start with us either as competitors in peace or rivals in war. Now, Sir, I wish it to be clearly understood what is the point to which my Amendment is directed. Do not let it be said that I wish to place an export duty on coals against France; or that I would deprive the French Government of any right or privilege it at present possesses. I take my stand on the existing law. I say that the law, as it now stands, gives to France all that the French Government can ask, and as much as an English legislature should concede. It is for you to show why you change that law, and why you give more even than France itself demands; it is for you to show that this you give is called for by the promotion of English interests, because it is English interests alone that are the care and concern of a British Ministry and a British Parliament. Now, I make the statement that this article has only been inserted in the Treaty from a consideration of the interest of France. I challenge the Government to disprove that statement. I say, by this article, you injure England to benefit France; I say, that in legislating between England and France, you have put the interest of France first, and the interest of your own nation last. I make this statement publicly, in the face of the House and of the country. I make this charge against the Government—I say, in this transaction you have acted, not as Ministers of England, but as Ministers of France. I say that you have sacrificed the interests of the nation that has trusted you, and have failed in your duty to the noble-hearted So 268 vereign whom you have sworn to serve, and to the magnificent empire it is your duty to save.
At the end of the Question to add the words 'But humbly to represent to Her Majesty that, in the opinion of this House, Article XI. imposes on the Crown and Legislature of the Country unnecessary and impolitic restrictions to which this House cannot assent; and to pray Her Majesty to effect the omission of that Article from the Treaty.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. VIVIAN
said, that as he represented a district which might be considered the most important of all the coal-fields of England, and as he had studied the question for twenty years, he felt that he was in a position to give the House some information on this important question of coals. He had heard from the right hon. Gentleman who had so ably addressed the House, quotations from very high geological authorities; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to give the House quotations from men practically acquainted with the subject; and he (Mr. Vivian) ventured to say that it was rather from those practically acquainted with the subject than from geologists that we ought to look for a true conclusion on this most important matter. The South Wales coalfield was the district which was most intimately known to him. It was as well known to him as the floor of that House. That coal-field was of enormous extent; and he should perhaps astonish hon. Members by telling them that the estimate which he formed of the workable coal within that district was fully equal to supply the whole wants of England at her present gigantic rate of consumption for 500 years—that coal-field alone. He did not make this statement without fully considering the subject. It was possible that his words might be reported, and he might be challenged by those who had considered the subject, and therefore he would give the data of his calculation. The area of the South "Wales coal-field was variously-estimated; but the estimates did not differ very greatly. The lowest estimate that he had been able to find was 600,000 acres; the highest, 675,000 acres. He had himself roughly measured the area of the coalfield, and he made it about 640,000 acres. Therefore, it would be plain that no very material difference existed on the question of the area of the South Wales coal-field. 269 The next element in the calculation was the thickness of the coal which underlies that area. Providence had provided that the great beds of the South "Wales coalfield should underlie its whole area; those great beds, on which the largo iron works had subsisted more than half a century, mid from which the great production of steam coals was now drawn, were the lowest beds of the basin. It was not easy to estimate the thickness. In the north-eastern portion of the area, the outcrop was about 31 feet in thickness; going further west it reached at Merthyr from 50 to 57 feet of workable thickness; in the great central up-throw of the district, where the lower beds were brought up, the thickness reached 70 feet; and on the southern out-crop they reached upwards of 100 feet of workable thickness. Now from these data they might draw the conclusion, that the workable beds of coal in South Wales might be fairly taken at an average of 60 feet in thickness. He found that Mr. Conybeare, a very eminent local authority, took them some years ago at 60 feet; others had taken them higher; but he did not find that any one had taken them at a lower average than 60 feet. Every foot in depth of coal underlying one acre was generally computed to produce 1,500 tons of coal. The actual fact was that a cubic yard of coal weighed just a ton, which would give 1,613 tons to each acre of coal one foot thick. Now, if the number of square acres was taken at 600,000, which he believed to be the lowest estimate of the coal-field of South Wales, and if that area were multiplied by the thickness of beds underlying it, they arrived at the result that they had 36,000,000 of acres of coal, one foot thick. Assuming, then, that there were 1,500 tons to the acre, which was the usual calculation, this would give 540,000,000,000 tons of coal in the South Wales coal-field alone. Now, the quantity consumed by this country every year might be taken at 70,000,000 tons—he believed, indeed, that was an excess. The usual estimate was 65,000,000 or 66,000,000 tons—but taking it at 70,000,000, the quantity of coal in the South Wales field alone would suffice for the whole consump-of England for the next 770 years. If they deducted one-third from that quantity to allow for faults, bad working, and waste, which was the usual deduction, there would still be enough for the supply of the present consumption of England for upwards of 500 years. It was impossible for him to meet 270 the statements which Professor Ansted had given, for that gentleman had given no data for the conclusions at which he had arrived; but the facts which he (Mr. Vivian) had given to the House he had ascertained for himself, and he stood there pledged to their accuracy, as far as human calculations could be depended on. But there was another point of view in which this matter might be regarded. The present annual production of the South Wales coal-field amounted to 7,500,000 tons, which was about the tenth part of the consumption of the whole of England. Now, at this rate, South Wales could maintain its present production of coal for upwards of 5,000 years. But he need not remind the House that South Wales was not the only coal field in England. He was not personally acquainted with the other coal-fields of the country as he was with the South Wales field; but from those records to which other hon. Gentlemen had equal access with himself, he had endeavoured to form some estimate of their contents. There was the great Yorkshire field, for instance, extending from Bradford to the neighbourhood of Nottingham. That coal-field was estimated at an extent of from 500,000 to 600,000 acres, with an average thickness of 70 feet. It was, therefore, nearly equal to the South Wales coal-field, and all he had said of the South Wales field applied equally to Yorkshire. Then there was the Lancashire coal-field, with an area of from 200,000 to 300,000 acres, with an average thickness of 60 feet; the Bristol coal-field of 128,000 acres, with an average thickness of 80 feet; the Durham coalfield of 400,000 acres, and which, after all that had been taken out of it was still calculated to contain 9,000,000,000 tons of coal. Then there was a coal-field in the south of Scotland, the extent of which was said to be something quite enormous, but it had not yet been accurately surveyed; it was stated to be of the extent of 1,000,000 acres, or nearly double the extent of the South Wales field, and at one point of it 59 feet of coal had been found in one pit. With these facts before him he was almost ashamed to go on replying to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) who he regretted to see had left his place. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had completely misled himself, and if so the whole of the latter portion of his speech at least broke down. In addition to the coal- 271 fields he had mentioned, however, there were many minor coal-fields. There ware those of North and South Staffordshire, the Forest of Dean, the Warwickshire, the Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the Colebrookedale, the Whitehaven, the Flintshire, and in Scotland, the Lanarkshire, the Midlothian, the Ayrshire, and the Fifeshire; these were all producing enormous quantities of coal. It was perfectly absurd then to talk of the exhaustion of coal in this country. But this by no means exhausted the subject. If any gentleman would walk into the library and pull down the admirable geological map of England, by Greenough, he would see that our present coal-fields were the mere out-crops of a much larger field lying under the younger rocks—the Permian and the New red sandstone, which overlie the coal formation. This was no mere geological theory; in many instances the New red sandstone had been pierced through, and millions of tons of coal were now being brought up through it. If hon. Gentlemen looked at the map he had alluded to they would see that the portions marked black, which formed the present coal-fields, bore but a small proportion to those districts which were coloured brown, which formed the coal-fields covered by the younger rocks. To talk of the exhaustion of the coalfields of England in the face of facts like these was so absurd that he had no patience with those who used the argument. He would allude for one moment to the bearing of coal on the question of war. The consumption of coal by the French navy in 1858 was stated the other evening by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) to be 160,000 tons per annum. The consumption of the British navy was about 200,000 tons per annum; the Vote for coals this year was £334,000. Why, 160,000 tons per annum was the production of one good colliery alone, a colliery, of which he had turned the first sod, was now producing that quantity. It was therefore, a perfect absurdity to talk of 160,000 tons as worthy of any political consideration. Hon. Gentlemen did not appear to consider that France was herself a coal producing country. If they looked to the geological maps of France they would see that she possessed no fewer than 88 coal and lignite basins. The latest records he had been able to obtain of their working was for the year 1845–46, in which year he found that there were 1,135,000 acres under con- 272 cession for coal working in France, and the coal produced was about 4,000,000 tons. The consumption in France it appeared amounted to 6,251,000 tons, of which 4,141,000 were supplied by her own coal-fields. He was now informed that the production of France in 1858 amounted to 7,000,000 tons. Yet the right hon. Member for Stroud talked of the supply of 160,000 tons as being matter of grave political consideration. He respected the abilities of the right hon. Gentleman, but he could not help thinking that he might have devoted them to a much more fruitful subject. He had himself gone under ground in one of the coal pits of the St. Etienne field twenty years ago, and the thickness of the bed there was from 40 to 50 feet. It was the largest he had ever seen, and he had seen the Staffordshire beds. There were also the great coal-fields of Valenciennes, and of SaarbrÜcke on the Prussian border; so that there was no chance of France wanting coal. It was said that our coal was superior to all other for steam ships; but France contained anthracite within her own territories. Again, if invisibility in war was the question there was no better fuel for steamers in the world than coke. He had himself used coke in his yacht to avoid dust and dirt, and he could answer for its applicability giving off no smoke to be seen by an enemy. Now France had abundance of coal which was capable of being made into the best coke. Then the right hon. Gentleman had dilated at some length, and in a way that was calculated to alarm the public, on the subject of the demand for coal tending to enhance the price. But that was a question which might very safely be left to the ordinary laws of trade. When the price rose a greater number of pits would be sunk, and the supply would soon exceed the demand, and bring the prices down again to their old level. The original sinking of a coal-pit was a very small element in the cost of production; it was soon covered by the yield; but if he might administer one drop of comfort to the bitter potion which had fallen to the lot of the right hon. Gentleman, he would say that the production of coal depended on the number of hands they could get to work it, and the supply was thus limited, for no man could work in the pits who was not bred to it. That was the only limit which he (Mr. Vivian) knew. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the deeper 273 the mine the worse it was ventilated. There the right hon. Gentleman was undoubtedly in error, for all who were conversant with the subject knew that a deep pit was much, more easily ventilated than a shallow one. The right hon. Gentleman had also said that no benefit accrued to England from the export of coal. But he (Mr. Vivian) could not understand how it could be argued that the export of coal was a loss of national capital. "What was the difference between a ton of coal and an ounce of gold? The two things were precisely analogous. They both lay dead and useless in the earth until they were dug out of it. If this country received three millions sterling a year for coal, which she exported, surely it was as beneficial to her as if it were three millions of gold. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, however, that the exhaustion of coal would be the destruction of England's greatness, because it would be the destruction of her manufactures. If he (Mr. Vivian) thought there was the slightest danger of that exhaustion he would not advocate its exportation. He might also state, for the satisfaction of the right hon. Gentleman, that in those districts where the manufactures were there was little or no coal exported. There was, he believed, not a ton of coal exported from the Yorkshire or the Staffordshire coal-fields, and scarcely any from the Lancashire. Having stated these facts, by which he thought he was able to throw some light upon the subject, he would not enter into the question of the Treaty further than to say that he cordially concurred in it, and would give it his earnest support.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had entered into minute details on the subject of coal, and the hon. Gentleman might fairly be considered an authority upon that point. He would not dispute the accuracy of the statistics which the hon. Member had read to the House; but he must tell the hon. Member that in reference to one important part of the question, he was totally in error. That point was, the application of coal to warlike purposes. The hon. Gentleman laboured under a complete mistake in supposing that coke would be available for the objects he had stated. It could not be used for keeping up steam in large vessels; and, moreover, it required so much more stowage than coal, that it would be folly to attempt to employ it in a ship as a motive power. Under those 274 circumstances the elaborate statement of the hon. Gentleman fell to the ground. Good coal and not coke was wanted for a steam navy, and France would secure herself a supply of the first of those articles under the Treaty. He would proceed to notice some points which had been raised by various Members in the course of that debate. The right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, had begun by telling them that he was not friendly to commercial treaties, but that he was not prepared to reject the one then under the consideration of the House. Now that appeared to him (Mr. Bentinck) to be a very singular statement on the part of a Member of the Government, and he was afraid it would go far to show that the right hon. Gentleman, during his tenure of office, had learned some of those slippery practices which he might readily acquire in the company he was keeping. The right hon. Gentleman had attempted to show that English shipping was exposed to no disadvantage as compared with French and other foreign shipping, and upon that point he specially referred to the case of the Mauritius. It so happened, however, that immediately after the right hon. Gentleman had concluded his speech an extract from a letter written by the master of an English ship at the Mauritius was put into his (Mr. Bentinck's) hands, which entirely overthrew that position of the right hon. Gentleman. The letter was dated the 7th of January last, and could not therefore, have been written with any reference to their present discussions. In it the master of the ship, addressing the owner in this country, stated that English vessels at the Mauritius could not obtain more than 10. per ton to a direct port, while French ships were obtaining from £3 to £3 15s. per ton. That statement was, he thought, a complete answer to the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that the English shipping interest, and more especially that branch of it which was connected with the Mauritius, was not in an unsatisfactory condition. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast (Sir H. Cairns) had delivered a very able speech on the subject of the Treaty; but he confessed he had heard it with some surprise. He understood his hon. and learned Friend to say that he hoped the Motion of the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Byng) would not be rejected by the House, because its rejection would cause the rejection of the Treaty. Now, it was precisely because 275 he (Mr. Bentinck) wished for the rejection of the Treaty, that he trusted most sincerely the House would not adopt the Motion of the hon. Member for Middlesex. His hon. and learned Friend considered the Treaty to be a very bad bargain for this country, and as he agreed with his hon. and learned Friend upon that point he wished the Treaty should be rejected; but he was utterly at a loss to understand how his hon. and learned Friend could believe the Treaty was a bad bargain, and could at the same time wish for its adoption. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex in the very able speech in which he had introduced the Motion then under their consideration, had told them that this was not a treaty of reciprocity. But if it were not a treaty of reciprocity he (Mr. Bentinck) should like to know what it was. It appeared to him to be a treaty based upon the principle of reciprocity, but with no real reciprocity in it. At first sight it might appear to be a reciprocity treaty; but on examination it was seen that all its advantages would be on the side of France, and all its disadvantages on the side of this country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex said that France was meeting us half-way in this matter, but he (Mr. Bentinck) saw nothing which could justify such a statement. He found in the French publications of every description the most decided abuse of the Treaty and of the principle of free trade, with commendations, in which he entirely concurred, of the principle of protection. But he perceived nothing like a disposition to meet the free trade policy of this country half-way. A number of French manufacturers and merchants who had addressed the Emperor upon the subject said that it was a Treaty which would have to be rent by cannon-halls. If the establishment of very high protective duties in France, in return for the total abolition of duties on this side the Channel was meeting us half-way, it was the most curious half-way house he had ever heard of. The hon. Member for Middlesex further told them that this was a treaty of commerce and not of navigation. But if it were not a treaty of navigation, why had the third article been introduced into it? And further if it were only a Treaty of Commerce, why, he would ask, had it not been made a treaty of navigation? Why, had Her Majesty's Government neglected the opportunity of asking the Government of France to deal with the shipping of this country in 276 a spirit of reciprocity? In his opinion the Treaty was founded not on right but on utterly erroneous principles, and that far from being beneficial, it would be most pernicious to the true interests of the country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesex expressed a hope that private interests would not influence the decision of the House upon that subject; but if instead of "private interests" the hon. Gentleman had deprecated the influence of "class interests," he might have fairly appealed to the hon. Member for Birmingham, who after all must be looked upon as the most important personage in connection with this measure. That hon. Gentleman had admitted that the Treaty was founded upon a suggestion which he had made, and he had held out a threat to the Government of the consequences which must follow from their not adhering to it. [Mr. BRIGHT intimated dissent.] The hon. Gentleman was not perhaps always aware of the force of his own language; but he (Mr. Bentinck) believed that was the meaning which the words he had employed were calculated to convey. He should add that the hon. Gentleman appeared to him to have forfeited, in one short month, a character he had been earning during a period of twenty years. He would tell the hon. Gentleman frankly, but in all courtesy, why he made that statement. He wished, however, in the first place, to observe that he was speaking politically and not personally. The hon. Gentleman for twenty years had been endeavouring to persuade the lower classes of this country that he was their only friend, and that he was prepared to sacrifice for their sakes the interests of all other classes. He (Mr. Bentinck) would not then go into the mystification which the hon. Gentleman had practised upon them in respect to his promised Reform Bill, which had never appeared; he should say, however, that he believed the hon. Gentleman, by the policy he was at present pursuing, was forfeiting the reputation he had acquired during all the preceding portion of his public life. The hon. Gentleman was the originator and the great promoter of a Treaty, the sole object of which was to benefit one wealthy class to the prejudice of thousands, and even millions, of their fellow countrymen. Would the hon. Gentleman deny that the Treaty would benefit the class to which he belonged, and that it would inflict great suffering on thousands of people engaged in other branches of industry. He (Mr. Bentinck) was anxious to avoid as 277 far as possible discussions of a personal character, and he felt that the absent in particular ought to be dealt with carefully and leniently: he would therefore only say, in the absence of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden), that he could not concur in the eulogies which had been passed upon him, and that, speaking of him solely as a public man, he believed that his political antecedents and his expressed opinions rendered him the man the least qualified in all England, not even excepting the hon. Member for Birmingham, to be entrusted at a foreign Court with the national honour and interests. The details of the Treaty had already been made the subject of prolonged discussion, and he would not refer to them at any length upon that occasion. Every one must be aware that French Protectionists were opposed to the Treaty. All he could say was this—that if the French Protectionists did not exhibit on the present occasion more energy, more consistency, more determination, than was exhibited by the Protectionists within the walls of the House of Commons some years ago, the Protectionists of France would come to an untimely end, and nobody would pity them. He would say no more about the question of coal; but there was one argument which the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Stroud, had so well put, and which he thought to be unanswerable—what could be the object of tying up the hands of future Governments with regard to coal? To sum up the whole matter in five words, it was done to please the Emperor of the French. It was his good fortune to be able to congratulate the Government upon one point—he would not touch upon the paper duty, because that they would have to deal with hereafter; but he had seen with pleasure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had succeeded in inducing the French Government to withdraw the prohibition on the export of rags. That would be a great boon, no doubt, to the manufacturers of this country; but it was valuable in another point of view, because his conviction was, that if this Treaty was carried out rags would become an essential element in the clothing of numerous classes in this country. He was, therefore, glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had had the humanity to forestall the means of alleviating the miseries which his policy would create. He (Mr. Bentinck) had listened to all the arguments advanced on the other side in favour of the Treaty, but could not, for the 278 life of him, see a single argument which went to prove the probability of any man in England benefiting from the adoption of the Treaty, except the class which the hon. Member for Birmingham represented. He quite admitted that the prosperity of that class was one test of the prosperity of England; but it did not constitute the sole prosperity of England, and if the Treaty was to benefit that class at the cost of millions of others of their countrymen, how could it be said that such a Treaty was beneficial to our national interests? The right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had made one of his eloquent and brilliant speeches, in which he scouted the very name of protection, and then he went on to propose the adoption of a treaty, the very soul and essence of which consisted in the protective principle. He should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman how he could consistently reconcile the two things: Any attempt to do so was utterly irreconcilable with common sense. The most marvellous part of the Treaty was that it did not seem to be liked in France more than it was in England, and although the right hon. Gentleman spoke in general terms with all the power of language which he possessed, of the advantages which would result from the Treaty, he had never attempted to show a single class, with the exception of the class which had been alluded to, which was to derive any advantage from the operation of the Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman always avoided any such argument, and told them they were carrying out the principles of free trade, and that, therefore, they must be conferring great benefits upon the country. He was bound to show some advantages which would result specifically from the Treaty, but he could not do so, and the fact was that the Treaty, so far from carrying out the principles of free trade, was only caricaturing those principles. This was not the free trade of Sir Robert Peel or the free trade of Mr. Huskisson; but it was free trade run mad; and he verily believed that if either of those departed statesmen could come back to the House and peruse the Treaty now offered for their acceptance, they would say that it was a Treaty either made at Paris or in Bedlam. The right hon. Gentleman had laid great stress on the question of the dignity of the Government, and had stated that its dignity was involved in the adoption of the Treaty. He would not set up his 279 opinion as to what constituted true dignity upon the part of the Government, but he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what his opinion was of the dignity of a Government which enrols among its most distinguished members a right hon. Gentleman who accepted employment abroad under the Government of the day, who came over and voted for that Government upon a great party division, and when within a short time after their defeat took office with those who succeeded to power by the result of that division? After that it certainly did not appear to him that the Government were very sensitive on the question of dignity. The right hon. Gentleman told him that the country would be "ennobled" by passing the Treaty; but he never could believe that the country could be ennobled by impoverishing itself, or by truckling to Trance. On the contrary there was a verse which warned them that nought could "ennoble knaves, or fools, or cowards;" and he believed that if this Treaty should be passed the British House of Commons would be considered as the fitting representative of those three classes of mankind. No man was more fully impressed than he was with the advantages entailed on the country by the maintenance of the blessings of peace; but those advantages could be purchased at too high a price, and in this case not only was the scheme one which would entail upon us the most fright ful financial difficulties, but whatever might be said in the House of Commons and in the Court of Prance, people would say after its ratification that it was done at the dictation of France; and he, for one, admitting as he fully did the undoubted advantages of peace, would rather see this country at war with the whole of Europe than see the Treaty accepted. He did not ask hen. Gentlemen opposite to agree with him, but he was stating publicly, as he always had done, frankly and fairly expressing his opinions, and stating the reasons which induced him to arrive at that conclusion; and he would repeat again that he thought a war would be less prejudicial both to the honour and the interests of the country than the final ratification of the Treaty. He did not know why hon. Members took the matter so seriously to heart, and he could only account for it by supposing that his words had more force than he at first apprehended they had. Although war might be disastrous, it could never be disgraceful to this country, which he considered the adoption of this Treaty would be; and war 280 would be cheaper in every respect, for he believed that the financial ruin which this Treaty inevitably involved would be of a character to which the expense of all former wars—to use the expression sanctioned by high authority in that House—would be a mere fleabite in comparison. Historians had before now recorded the disgraceful fact of the English Government paying tribute to a foreign Power to preserve our soil from invasion, and he believed that the result of this Treaty would be still worse, because we should pay the tribute first and very likely be invaded afterwards. For these reasons he begged to express his cordial dissent to the ratification of the Treaty—a treaty which could only have been concocted by those who were alike indifferent to the honour and blind to the interests of the country.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
Sir, although I should hesitate to trespass on the time of the House, I am anxious, not having spoken at all on this question, to engage its attention for a few moments. I think the Government acted with wise discretion on Monday last in consenting to the proposal of the hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Kinglake) to adjourn this discussion till last evening; otherwise, as the Member for Middlesex (Mr. Byng) justly observed, they would have exposed themselves to insinuations of endeavouring to avoid discussion at this critical state of affairs, which, however unfounded, would nevertheless have been prejudicial. I have followed with great interest the discussions which have taken place in this House on the various Articles of the Treaty; and with regard to the speech of the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who entered into details on this subject, I must, with all deference to the House, observe that this does not appear to me an opportune occasion to go into all the particular features of this Treaty, which has been so fully discussed in Committee, and which has, I think, received a very ample measure of confirmation. I listened with great attention to the observations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who exposed all the facts of the case with admirable ability, and I intend to give him till the end, as I have given him from the beginning of this discussion, a most willing and grateful support. We have discussed the various items of the Treaty in Committee; what is it we are now called on to do? We are called on by the Motion of the hon. Member for Middlesex to acknowledge Her Majesty's 281 desire to promote the happiness and welfare of the people; and we are to take steps to give effect to the Treaty which Her Majesty hopes will tend to the public advantage by promoting trade, commerce, and manufactures. I am glad to see the unanimous feeling of the House on this subject. No one, I think, can decline to acknowledge the desire Her Majesty has expressed for the welfare of her people. Whatever may be our party differences, whatever may be our legitimate rivalry in discussing them, there can only be one unanimous feeling in the House as to according our assent to the desire of the Sovereign. But I will go further. Can we deny that Her Majesty's Government has shown a wish to open fresh channels to the commerce of the country? Can we deny that it has shown itself alive to the fact that the benefits of commerce are infinitely preferable to the hazardous uncertainty of war? —that it wishes to draw closer the ties of amity between this country and a great, powerful, and neighbouring State? I think the Government, with a wise policy, has sought to develope new springs of industry, and new means of increasing the national resources; and I think they have been successful in doing that which every Government, of whatever party, must desire to accomplish. With all respect to the views of the minority of this House, I think the repeated majorities in which we have shared convey a convincing proof that we will support every attempt to promote trade and commerce, as far as those attempts are consistent with the honour of the country. And now I will ask a question. If we are all agreed in this, how was it that the House the other night hesitated as to considering this Motion? How was it that the House on Monday night rather supported the view of the hon. Member for Bridgwater, and hesitated in at once ratifying a treaty that promises such great advantages in the future? It was not wholly on account of the sacrifice we are called on to make for it; we are sacrificing for it £1,200,000 of revenue—but I believe the advantages of the Treaty infinitely outweigh that sacrifice. Many hon. Gentlemen have quoted the opinions of Mr. Pitt, as to the treaty of 1786, but I will cite an opinion of Mr. Pitt with regard to sacrificing a present revenue for the purpose of improving our commercial relations with foreign countries. It is from a speech made by Mr. Pitt in 1787. He says:— 282The surrender of revenue for great commercial purposes was a policy by no means unknown in the history of Great Britain; but here we enjoyed the extraordinary advantage of having it returned to us in a threefold rate by extending and legalizing the importation of the articles. Increase by means of reduction, he was obliged to confess, appeared once a paradox; but experience had now convinced us that it was more than practicable."—[Hansard, Parliamentary History, xxvi., 398.]Here is an authority that proves we may surrender revenue for the moment with great advantage, with a view to those prospective advantages which may be expected to flow from these Treaty negotiations. I ask the House, then, why it hesitated the other night? The hon. Member for Stroud has referred to the general policy of France; and I did once think this Treaty has some general bearing on the policy of the French Government. I thought there were questions agitating Europe that required to be settled before such a Treaty was concluded; I thought they were questions bearing on the general relations of the Powers of Europe among themselves, and the degree of confidence they could place in each other, without which confidence neither trade nor commerce can flourish or exist; I thought, with such questions unsettled, it might be injudicious to consider such a treaty; but on reflection, I think I was wrong; and that the policy of the Government, being really a policy of peace, is such as should meet the approval both of the House and the country. At the same time, I have heard opinions expressed by one hon. Gentleman in support of the Treaty, that have inspired me with considerable alarm. The opinions I allude to were expressed by an hon. Gentleman who is a new ally of the Government, though not altogether a new ally of despotism. I have seen opinions reported as those of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), which, considering the connection always existing between him and Mr. Cobden, and now existing between him and Her Majesty's Government, have, I confess, surprised me. We all thought the hon. Gentleman was the "friend of the people," not only of this country and America, but all over the world. We were mistaken; we have heard a great deal of the hon. Member for Birmingham; how he has acquired great provincial éclat and doubtless ephemeral popularity by his advocacy of popular measures. But now we find he has deserted his free opinions in favour of the despotism of Fiance—so much so that he will not allow any one to differ from him. He has actu- 283 ally become a despot of ideas. How often do we see this! How often do we see a man of great powers, great ability, and extreme liberality, a tribune of the people, a demagogue, call him what you will, yet give him scope and opportunity of action, and he becomes a most unmitigated despot. What did the hon. Member for Birmingham say the other night? Many thought we could not separate the Treaty from the general policy of France; but he said—"Perish the liberty of half-a-million of people, only give me this Treaty." Is that the feeling of this House? Is that the feeling of the Government? All I can say is, if the Government adopts the opinions of its new ally, neither its ally nor its Treaty will gain for it the public confidence. More than this, the hon. Member the other night ventured to gauge the loyalty of men by their means; he estimated their loyalty by the extent or deficiency of their pecuniary resources. I never heard such a sentiment in this House before.— [Mr. BRIGHT expressed dissent.]— The hon. Member distinctly said it, for I wrote down the words as they fell from his honeyed lips. Surely the poor man's heart beats with as ardent an emotion of loyalty to his Queen as the heart of the richest aristocrat in the land; and surely the rich man, if Providence were to take from him his riches, would not lose those sentiments of loyalty he had previously entertained. The argument is most fallacious, particularly for a country like England. "Perish the liberties of half-a-million of people," says the hon. Gentleman, "only give me this this Treaty." The hon. Gentleman is generally understood to represent the opinions of Mr. Cobden on political questions; if so, and if Mr. Cobden negotiated this Treaty, I do not wonder the House hesitated to adopt a document framed under the influence of such revolutionary principles. I do not wonder it hesitated to adopt a Treaty so made with a Power whose policy tends to alarm every other State of Europe. I do not wish to enter into these questions of the policy of France; we shall have other opportunities of discussing them fully: for this reason I do not wish to follow the right hon. Member for Stroud. Now, for my own part, I think the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs comes very well out of the correspondence, which from time to time has been laid upon the table; but I must, nevertheless, say that there is a despatch of M. Walewski's and two of M. Thouvenel's, which, in my 284 opinion, place the question of the annexation of Savoy to France in a very dangerous and ambiguous light. More than that—I am afraid—as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud so forcibly put it—that the mask in this case is being withdrawn, for it appears to me to be evident—anxious as I am that the bonds of amity between this country and Franco should be drawn more closely together—that our worst apprehensions with reference not only to the future condition of one people, but the independence and neutrality of another, are about to be realized, and that the peace of Europe is on the eve of being disturbed, perhaps for many a long day to come. That such may not be the case I sincerely hope; nor can I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud that the Government ought to be held responsible for the occurrence of these events should they unhappily take place. I do not think Her Majesty's Ministers have, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to suppose, connived at the policy to which I allude to secure the advantages which this Treaty is calculated to confer. No—nothing can ever make me believe that they—more particularly my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in their desire to imitate the policy of Mr. Pitt, although perhaps under different circumstances, could so far forget the interests of their country as in any way to lend their countenance to such a transaction as the proposed annexation of Savoy, On the contrary, I feel quite sure that if the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had in August last been aware of the intentions of the Emperor of the French on this question, he would have entered against their being carried into execution a most vigorous and dignified protest. At the same time I cannot understand how the Emperor of the French—for it is with him after all, and not with the French people, we are dealing in negotiating this Treaty — could, while he was taking a course which tends to increase the feelings of amity and friendship between two great nations, resist the appeals on this subject, which must, since his intentions with respect to it became known, have been repeatedly addressed to him by the Government of England. I must, however, say that, since he does appear to have paid no regard to them so far as the Minister for Foreign Affairs is concerned, it becomes the duty of the English Parliament to speak out boldly its sentiments at this 285 critical moment, and when we are about to give our assent to a Treaty like the present. It seems to me to be a matter of the utmost importance that we should not be quiet spectators of such a transaction as the annexation of Savoy, and that we should not, in our anxiety to support the Treaty, allow this annexation to take place without making some more formal protest than we have yet done against its injustice. We ought to bear in mind that we have spent millions in war, the expenditure of which might have been avoided had a vigorous policy at the outset been pursued. That is the description of policy which I now wish to see adopted in reference to France. We have only to read the pages of history to see what has been the result of a contrary course. Has experience, I would ask, taught the Parliament of England nothing? I should hope it has not failed to derive instruction from the lessons of the past, and I entreat the House to enter—not to-night, but as soon as possible after this Treaty has passed—its indignant protest against this act of spoliation and wrong, the result of which will be to upset Europe. I have no wish now to allude to the Despatches on this subject which have been laid on the table. There is, however, one point contained in them to which I may be permitted to refer, in order to enter my indignant protest against the language that has been used. It is a point which, in my opinion, demands the immediate attention of this House as well as the serious consideration of the Government. The other day the Ambassador of France, it appears, called on the noble Lord the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and, alluding to this subject of the annexation of Savoy, said, "After all what does it matter? Let us take Savoy—it is but a bare rock." Now, Sir, if the Ambassador of Fiance had dared to speak to me in that language —I ought not perhaps to express myself in terms so strong—but if the Ambassador of France had used that language to me, I should have returned to him the reply of an honest but indignant Englishman, and told him that men "lived, moved, and had their being" on the rocky mountains of Savoy who are just as respectable and as worthy of the consideration of their fellow-men as are the denizens of our crowded cities or the sycophants of degraded courts. I would have said to him that those inhabitants of Savoy in their mountain home were as deserving of our solicitude as the rich who dwell in gilded palaces of luxu- 286 rious case; and I shall not hesitate on all fitting occasions, when this subject is under discussion, to hold up to the indignation of all honourable men language such as that used by the Ambassador of France, so antagonistic to every principle of liberty, and so unworthy of the spirit which should actuate our conduct in dealing with human affairs; and while I shall be prepared to take that course, I must not be supposed to be desirous of sowing dissension between this country and France, or of creating a feeling of antipathy to the Emperor of the French. On the contrary, my earnest wish is to see France occupy that position in Europe which her great resources and the character of her people fairly entitle her to hold. As long, however, as I have the honour of a seat in this House and am capable of raising my voice in its deliberations, I shall never refrain objecting to the immoderate growth of power on the part of France, because its attainment can only lead to the excitement of jealousies between the nations of the Continent, and tend to embroil the peace and happiness of the world. I must also observe that the attainment of this immoderate power, which—notwithstanding her professions of friendship and amity—seems to be the aim of France under the Napoleonic dynasty, must always be a source, if it be persevered in, of serious uneasiness and anxiety to Europe. As she is now situated she occupies a magnificent position. She is blessed to satiety with every gift that the bounty of Providence can give—with every advantage that soil and climate can impart. Yet, notwithstanding all this, she is, under the Napoleonic dynasty, always dissatisfied with her lot, striving always to remove her neighbours' landmarks, and thus to create dissension throughout the Continent. ["No, no."] If some hon. Gentlemen differ from me in that opinion, lean only say that I hope their view of the matter may be the more correct. At the same time, my belief is that the general policy of France is such as I have described it to he, and I, for one, beg to enter a respectful protest against its continuance. But now to revert to the Treaty. I shall, as I said before, support it, because I am of opinion that Her Majesty's Government have honestly sought by its means to promote the prosperity of the country, and because I concur in the justice of the remarkable expressions which Mr. Pitt made use of in 1787, when he 287 said, in the discussion on the Commercial Treaty with France which was then concluded,—If war was the greatest of evils, and commerce the greatest felicity which it was possible for a country to enjoy, then it became the duty of those to whom the affairs of the public were intrusted to endeavour as much as possible to render the one permanent, and to remove the prospect of danger to the other. This was the object of the present Treaty, for so great were the advantages likely to arise from it, that they would not only contribute to avoid war, but would also strengthen the resources of the country.Such I believe was the impression of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer when through Mr. Cobden the present Treaty was negotiated, and I earnestly hope, now that it is about to receive the assent of this House, Her Majesty's Government will bring the influence of public opinion to bear on the contemplated policy of the Emperor of the French in reference to Savoy, so that he may be dissuaded from taking a course which can, if persevered in, only tend to excite mistrust throughout Europe, and which will not fail to rob Europe of the blessing of commerce and the inestimable blessings of peace. Having said this much on this important topic, I should resume my seat were it not that I am desirous of making a few remarks which were suggested to me by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Address, and who said, very properly, in that speech, which he delivered with so much eloquence and ability, that that man was worthy of public approbation who made two blades of grass grow where only one had grown before. In the justice of that sentiment I concur; and I will add that that statesman is worthy of public estimation who enlarges the resources of his country and extends the pacific influence of her power. I am therefore happy to concur in the praises of Mr. Cobden to whose influence it is said this Commercial Treaty is chiefly owing. But I am of opinion that, although much is due to Mr. Cobden in the matter, there sits on the Treasury bench a man who, by his activity and the intelligence which he has brought to bear upon this question, is worthy of the warmest eulogy which we can bestow on his exertions—I need not say that I allude to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Without at all wishing to disparage what Mr. Cobden has done, I think I am justified in saying that my right hon. Friend has treated this great subject with a compass, a genius, and a power which we have 288 rarely seen equalled and never surpassed in the House of Commons. Those who like myself have sat here night after night listening to these discussions cannot have failed to observe how my right hon. Friend, while dealing with the Imperial interests of the country in a manner the most statesmanlike, showed himself able to master the minutest details of trade; so that no gentleman could submit to his consideration—I will not say the crotchets, but — the objections of any particular interest to his proposals that he was not prepared to enter into its discussion with the most consummate knowledge and ability. And, if I may be permitted to allude further to the subject, I would say my right hon. Friend is in this House the efficient representative of that policy which was inaugurated in 1842 under the auspices of the great party opposite. The right hon. Gentleman is the living, active, and intelligent representative of a party which my father had the proud distinction to lead: and, whatever may have been the differences and dissensions which unhappily ensued on that occasion, I think there is no impartial man in this House but will bear me out in saying that the policy then inaugurated could not have succeeded without the support of that party at the outset, and that without their support the blessings of prosperity which have since so abundantly flowed must have been at least temporarily delayed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been endeavouring to follow out that policy, and he has laboured not altogether in vain. He has the genius and ability to carry out this system; but he knows well that, it is not only from his genius and ability, but from the character of his policy that permanent good must flow. I think, Sir, that permanent good will result to the country, and therefore I support the policy. I think that permanent good will result from it, quite irrespective of political considerations, in a commercial point of view; and sure I am that the right hon. Gentleman has shown that he is desirous of laying the foundations of commercial prosperity; he has shown that his only wish, his only thought, his only study has been to see the vessels of this great country sailing triumphantly to every shore, and carrying the products of our industry to every clime; he has shown that his laborious untiring study has been to see the trade and enterprise of this country steadily pursuing its onward course under those influences which have wafted the 289 great name of England to the remotest limits of the world.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, as we are tonight permitted to express an opinion upon this Commercial Treaty as a whole, I trust the House will allow me to take a brief but general view of the policy of this now celebrated instrument, and the circumstances under which it is brought under our consideration. Although a policy which tends to an increase of our commercial relations in Europe, is so satisfactory and encouraging that I cannot doubt it must afford to both sides of the House, and, indeed, I would say to all the subjects of Her Majesty, sentiments of great congratulation, I confess myself that subsequent reflection has not altered the first impression I entertained when we were first informed of the intentions of the Government, I still believe that, on the whole, it would have been wiser to have waited for a year. I think it would have been wiser to have permitted the Emperor of the French to have fulfilled his honourable engagements to the commercial and manufacturing interests of his country, and to have seen what would have been the result of the lapse of such a term, and whether in the necessary order of human affairs the prohibitory system of Prance would not have concluded at that time. We should then have been placed, if not in an equally advantageous position as regards immediate results, in one which, on the whole, would probably have been more convenient and more conducive to the permanent interests of the country than we now occupy by the Treaty now before our consideration. But if— and I, for one, would not have critically examined the decision of the Government— if they had arrived at a contrary decision, and if, on the whole, they had thought it wiser at once to enter into some agreement with France, without waiting for the perhaps gradual, but what I cannot but believe must have been the inevitable determination of the French nation—if it had been the opinion of the Government of this country that, on the whole, duly weighing those vast and various considerations which must have been placed before their examination on an issue so important, they ought at once to enter into some agreement with the French Government, I still am of opinion that it would have been better, by some alterations of our mutual tariff, to have attained all those ends which could at the present moment be acquired and then, when the 290 favoured period of July, 1861, had arrived, benefitting, I hope, by experience, we might have completed the work, and accomplished all those ulterior results which by the present Treaty are not achieved, but only contemplated. Sir, I think that under ordinary circumstances that would have been the course which it would have been wiser for us to have taken, and which this House I think, on the whole, would have had no difficulty in sanctioning. I cannot help thinking that under even ordinary circumstances the proceeding by treaty, even for an object so desirable as the increase of our commercial relations with our neighbour, is a course which is scarcely defensible. Certainly in the course of this debate and the various conversations on the same subject that preceded it, I have not yet heard any satisfactory reason why on scientific or political grounds it should have been deemed expedient to tie up the policy of the country for a term of years so long, and that to accomplish results which might, I think, have been realized by a much simpler process. These are the views with which I should have considered this question under ordinary circumstances. Under ordinary circumstances I should have regretted that the Government, in order to attain such desirable ends should have availed themselves of such questionable means; but no man can for a moment maintain that this Treaty has been negotiated under ordinary circumstances. The circumstances are, indeed, of a most exceptional character, and under these circumstances I, myself, object to this Treaty. I object to it on three grounds—those grounds are financial; they are diplomatic; and they are political.
I will not, Sir, enlarge or dwell to-night on the financial objections which I entertain to this Treaty; because I think a fail-opportunity has been given to the House to decide upon that portion of the subject; and though I cannot agree with the decision at which they arrived, I am content to take it as one which at least precludes me from, at present, entering into any lengthened discussion on the subject. I think the condition of our revenue is at the present moment such that it was not prudent for us to increase a largo deficit by creating a considerable deficiency in addition, in order to obtain the commercial arrangements which are secured by the instrument now on the table. Sir, the House has had that question fairly placed before it. However they may ultimately regret this 291 arrangement—and I believe the time will come, and that, too, even rapidly, when they will deeply regret it—however they may think the scheme of finance propounded by the Government this year to be unsafe in principle, improvident in arrangement, and pernicious in its consequences, I do not think we ought to-night to enter into that discussion. The question has been fairly raised in this House; and I for one, far from regretting that the decision of the House was called for on that scheme, should not have felt that I was doing my duty to my constituents and to my country had I avoided that decision. I think the decision of the House not to the advantage of the country; but I look with no regret to the means by which that decision was arrived at. I think the time will come when the principle the minority then upheld will be recognized as sound. But I think also to-night, although it is my duty to state that one of my objections to this Treaty is founded on what I deem its pernicious influence on our financial condition, all will agree that after that question has been so amply discussed, and has been decided by the House, it would be perfectly unnecessary for me now to revive any of those considerations. Being therefore under ordinary circumstances in favour of any policy which increases the commercial intercourse of the two countries, I may be permitted, before I advance to another stage of my argument, to say that I cannot agree with some Gentlemen who take what I believe to be an exaggerated view of the impending increase of that intercourse. It always has been a fault of the English people—having as they have, no doubt, a commercial instinct superior to that of any other nation—to exaggerate the importance of particular markets. It is a very curious fact that they have always over-estimated those markets which have proved of slight advantage and productiveness to them. Some few years ago the markets of South America were always exalted in this House far above those solid and substantial markets of our North American brethren, which have been the source of so much mutual wealth to both countries. And so at the present moment hon. Gentleman talk of commercial intercourse with Prance as if a new California or a new Australia were being opened to us. The hon. Gentleman who seconded this Address (Mr. Baines) and who, from his position and relations with a district of great industry, ought to second it with authority, used this sort of an argu- 292 ment:—"Australia, with 1,000,000 of population, takes £11,000,000 of our exports; France has 36,000,000 of population; multiply the trade of Australia by 36, and you will have some idea of the commercial intercourse which is about to take place. ["No."] Certainly that was the inevitable inference from the hon. Gentleman's argument. He dilated, too, on the case of Brazil, with a population of from 4,000,000 to 5,000,000, and pointing out what a large commercial exchange there was between this country and Brazil, in the very next sentence he showed us that France had eight times the population, and hon. Gentlemen might therefore calculate the vast results to flow from the new commercial policy. But ancient countries will never offer the same markets to a country like England as new colonies, such as Australia and California, or as countries settled under circumstances of modern civilization, like Brazil. We must remember that the manufactures of France are, with some few exceptions, more ancient than the manufactures of England, and I believe there is no one in this House who will say that generally speaking the French are less skilful. On the contrary, all will admit that in many points they are more skilful. I hope that no inconsiderable increase of the commercial relations between the two countries will occur from this Treaty, but depend upon it that it will be to a limited degree only. Depend upon it also, no great branch of industry will ever be allowed to be superseded in France by any great, branch of industry of this country. No doubt the introduction of our goods will increase the demand for theirs, will stimulate the invention, and will reduce the cost of French goods; the French consumer general will be benefited; but the moment there is any prospect of any great branch of industry in France being superseded by any equal branch of industry on this side the water, steps will be taken to prevent such a result. And for this reason alone, if not for others, France, whatever may be her form of government, is essentially a democracy, and a democracy will never submit to any great supercession of native industry. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Newdegate) is accustomed to appeal with pride to the fact that the two great nations of France and the United States are favourable to the protective principles which he supports, and you may rely upon it that if you succeed with your new Reform Bill, or with the Reform Bill 293 which is to supplement and succeed it, as announced by the hon. Member for Birmingham, you will soon have a protective interest in this House—a result, perhaps, you little anticipate in calculations. At present I think we are led away by too sanguine a view of what may be the consequences of the opening of this new market. It will be subject to all the conditions which prevail in ancient, populous and highly civilized countries; and as a natural consequence there will be certain limits to our enterprize which at present we do not recognize.
The financial grounds of my objections to the Treaty I shall not now discuss; but I object to it also on diplomatic grounds. It appears to me to be unskilfully and negligently drawn. I have listened with great attention to the debate, but I have heard no satisfactory answer given—though more than one Minister has spoken—to the objections which have been raised by various Members to what appear to be unsatisfactory provisions of the Treaty. I have heard nothing said to account for the mysterious appearance in the Treaty of the 3rd Article which refers to the duties on shipping. There is no apparent reason why an Article of that kind should have been introduced into a treaty of commerce. My hon. Friend, the Member for Stamford (Sir S. Northeote), reminded the House last night that the differential duties on the direct trade of England with France are only removed at present temporarily, and that the French Government, by giving notice, may at any time put an end to the treaty of 1825, when the differential duties will revive, not only with regard to the indirect, but the direct trade also. That is a matter which must occasion anxiety. The very fact that an article of navigation should be introduced into a treaty of commerce is enough to create apprehension in the public mind. In reference to the Article which is the subject of the Amendment now before us, there is an objection to that Article; but we are told that we are unable to discuss it because it is a legal question. It is certainly a new theory that educated English Gentlemen, Members of this House, should not be able to give an opinion on subjects of constitutional law. As I understand it, this House by Act of Parliament has entrusted the Sovereign with certain powers; and we find by this Treaty that the advisers of Her Majesty have recommended Her to dispense with these 294 powers; and now we are told that this being a legal question, Members of Parliament are not competent to give an opinion upon it. But the dispensing power of the Sovereign was once considered a subject on which Members of Parliament were very competent to give an opinion. It appears to me not to be shrouded in any particular obscurity. But, do not let the House suppose that if we agree that we cannot discuss this question because it is a legal question, and then proceed to sanction the Treaty, we shall, therefore, avoid the difficulty. Assume that we agree to this Address. We shall then communicate it to the other House of Parliament, and that House can hardly be prevented from entering on the discussion of a legal question. Great as may be its political distinction, the lustre of its legal reputation is not less distinguished. What may possibly, if not probably, happen if we evade our duty in this House? This question of the 11th Article will be discussed in the other House, and the other House may decide that it is impossible to carry it into effect without an Act of Parliament. The other House may, if it likes, clearly agree to address the Crown on the Treaty—as we have done—but at the same time they may think it proper to introduce an Act into the House to carry the 11th Article into effect. What a reproof to this House if we should have an Act of Parliament sent down to us in order that we should be able to complete our work! I am sure that is not a course which this House would desire should be pursued. I cannot pretend to enter into any discussion upon the statistical question as to our coal resources, to which the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman refers. I take it for granted that he has made no statement on that matter of the truth of which he is not fully convinced. We have had a speech, in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, from one who, no doubt, on such a subject speaks with some weight. He bears the name of one whom I long remember in this House, with whom I was intimate in private life, and whom all of us greatly respected; but I may be allowed to inform the hon. Gentleman—not being altogether unacquainted with that district myself—that the railroads of the present day have penetrated every valley of the South Wales district to which he referred, that they have tapped every field, and that a stimulus has been given to the production of the coal of that part of the country which it is not at all likely 295 can be sustained. But it is impossible to settle a question of this kind by reference to local experience. It is a subject which has occupied the attention of men of science of eminence, who have given to it their personal efforts and the results of the deepest thought. I do not pretend to offer any opinion of my own upon it; I can only refer to those general statements which the best authorities have accepted, and, speaking in round numbers, we are informed that the coal-fields of England and Wales occupy 12,000 square miles, that half of that quantity is not workable, and that every year 16 square miles are exhausted. Every hon. Gentleman can make the calculation for himself, and he will find that, if such is the quantity and such the produce, with such a rate of consumption, the coal will probably last between 300 and 400 years. Every one can estimate what will be the result if that produce and that consumption of coal are doubled. I cannot pretend that this calculation ought to influence legislation; but when an hon. Gentleman of local experience rises and speaking under all the excitement of recent explorations of South Wales, which were stimulated by circumstances which never happened before and will never happen again, gives us the benefit of local experience, I must remind the House that they should receive his calculations with due distrust, and that the different estimate formed by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment is one sanctioned by philosophers and men of science, whose opinion is recognized by all as authority on the subject.
There are many other other points in this Treaty which appear to me to prove that it has not been negotiated with the skill, knowledge, and attention which are required in such an instrument, and that, on the contrary, there is evidence of precipitation and carelessness. There has been no satisfactory answer to the charges that have been made. It does appear to me to be a very improvident arrangement that the silk manufactures of England should enter France at a certain time subject to a duty of 30 per cent, and that the raw material from France should at the same time be subject to a high duty. I have heard no answer to that objection. The President of the Board of Trade got up last night, and, having no doubt in his mind the celebrated passage which used to be quoted from Mr. Eden as to the difficulty of negotiating treaties of commerce, said, "Why, 296 if we had negotiated a commercial treaty and tried to settle exactly the rate of duty upon every minute detail in every particular branch of manufacture, we should not have got over the question of linens even by this time." But that is no answer to the unfortunate silk manufacturer who has to compete with the French manufacturer subject to a 30 per cent duty, and at the same time receives the raw material of his manufacture subjected to a high duty. He asks naturally,—" Why is there an English Government—why are there Ministers? Why are there negotiators? Why, above all, is there a secret negotiator—if my just interests are not considered." There is no question of protection or free trade involved in this point, but I really think if he has to undergo a competition under odds which appear to me to be overwhelming, he has, at least, a right to expect that the Ministers of the Queen would have taken care that the raw material should come into this country duty free. And so far as I can learn—of course I speak with hesitation— there would have been no difficulty on the part of the French Government if this claim had been preferred. If it were preferred and refused, I believe it would have been an act of great injustice and not at all indicative of the friendship and amity we are taught to expect; and if it were not preferred, I say there is great negligence on the part of the English Government. We have had no satisfactory answer to these charges. It may seem a little point, but I think it is a point of great importance when we come to consider the arrangement of the Treaty, that we have heard no answer to the complaint of the English brewers. When the Government were introducing French wines into this country, why did they not obtain the French market for our English beer? Here, again, when I have mentioned the circumstance out of doors, I have been assured, upon an authority which influences my opinion, that if that claim had been preferred the French Government would not have objected to it. Is it an evidence of a sedulous attention to English interests, to have omitted a provision of that kind? Why was it omitted? Would it have offended any principles of our new commercial system? Not at all. No one can pretend—not even the Member for Birmingham—that the exchange of English beer for French wine would offend his principles of trade. I have mentioned four instances, and there would be no difficulty 297 in doubling or trebling the number, although it would be wearisome to the House to pursue the matter further; but all these instances show that this Treaty has been negotiated with precipitation; and the very tone of the Government, when criticisms on the Treaty are made, confirms that suspicion. They do not vindicate their instrument. They say, "We are aware of your objections; we admit there is a great deal in them; we will make representations to the French Government, and there is a very fair prospect of obtaining what you seek." What was the cause of this precipitation? What object was to be gained by this haste? These are questions which force themselves on our attention.
Sir, I have stated shortly my objections against this Treaty financially and diplomatically. Financially it affects injuriously a revenue which is in a dilapidated state. Diplomatically it has produced an instrument which docs not duly provide for British interests, which might have been provided for in perfect consistency with our commercial system. Nor has any reason yet been given why this negotiation was conducted with so much precipitation. I have now to consider the political objections to this Treaty. And this is a part of the subject which cannot be evaded because we are challenged to consider the Treaty on political grounds. This is a commercial treaty between England and France, I admit. But it is a commercial treaty between England and France mainly and avowedly negotiated for a political purpose. This Treaty was not introduced to us by any statement which I can recollect from any Minister of the Crown. We only incidentally became acquainted with its provisions while we were involved in the dreary labours of a Committee on Customs Acts. But we have a great public State paper which records the principles upon which the negotiations were carried on and the character of the instrument which was contemplated. It has been placed upon the table, and we are indebted alone to that document for a due understanding of the Treaty and the objects proposed to be carried into effect by its means. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell), in language which has been referred to partly, but not completely, for some significant words have been omitted, in the instructions to the negotiators, which is, in fact, the State paper upon which the Treaty is founded, while he dilates on the 298 advantages to commerce and the amiable consequences of intercourse between the two nations, with all of which we are acquainted, writes, "But over and above these considerations the Government attach a high social and political value to the conclusion of a Commercial Treaty with France." A high political value! and therefore it is that I am obliged to consider this Treaty in a political sense. Those who have preceded, and who, not only on the other, but on this side of the House, have deprecated introducing political considerations into a general discussion of the Treaty, seem entirely to have forgotten the standing point upon which this instrument rests, and the introductory terras by which the House of Commons were made acquainted with it. It is, therefore, the political value of this Treaty on which the Government depend. The words where the noble Lord says:Its significance at the present moment, when the condition of some parts of the Continent is critical, would be at once understood, and would powerfully reassure the public mind in the various countries of Europe,have been quoted already by the right hon. Gentleman, the Mover of the Amendment, But there the right hon. Gentleman stopped. He omitted the first words in the next paragraph, in which the noble Lord frankly states, "On this account Her Majesty's Government are prepared to entertain a negotiation." It is positively stated that, on political grounds, the noble Lord and is colleagues were prepared to entertain a negotiation. I do not blame the noble Lord, All I say is, that, in discussing a Treaty preceded by a State Paper of such a character as this, the noble Lord will not cavil with me, if I inquire into the considerations upon which he proceeded. The noble Lord has gone out of his way, though I am sure he thinks in due fulfilment of his duty, to frankly inform the Parliament of this country what were the principal considerations in negotiating this Treaty, and that they were political grounds "upon which account Her Majesty's Government were prepared to entertain a negotiation." Is the state of Europe less critical at the present moment than when the noble Lord wrote that despatch? The noble Lord has received compliments from both sides of the House upon the spirit with which he has maintained the character of a British Minister in these negotiations. I am not one of those who are apt to believe that any man, occupying the position of the noble Lord, would be wanting in his duty 299 to the Crown and country on any occasion. I am not disposed to believe that the noble Lord, of all others, would form an exception to that rule; but he will, I am sure, not be offended with me if I do not address him in those terms of compliment and eulogy, with which I dare say he has been satiated. He will not misapprehend me if I offer some constitutional criticism on his conduct as Foreign Minister. He will recognize that I am only performing my duty; and as I shall confine myself to facts, and even to something drier than facts, to dates, drawing from them inferences so strictly logical, that I trust the noble Lord himself will not dispute their accuracy, I am persuaded he will not take amiss the contrast I may offer to the encomiums he has received, but will be ready to afford me, if he can, an answer that will be satisfactory to the House on points that require some elucidation with reference to this Treaty, before I can give my assent to the Address moved by the hon. Member for Middlesex.
Sir, the night when it was first proposed that an Address should be presented to the Crown, and when the Motion was unexpectedly postponed, some discussion arose on the subject of our relations with France. I had not at that time read the papers which were circulated only in the course of that morning; and, therefore, I would not have presumed, even if it had been desirable—which the House thought, and very justly, that it was not—to enter then into that question. But, Sir, I have read those papers since then. They have been referred to in this House, and noticed in different moods by different speakers. But no one has made the inquiry of the noble Lord which I wish to make to-night; because, until I have an answer to it, I cannot form a just opinion upon the condition of Europe, which he describes as so critical, and which, because it is so critical, he thinks is a reason why we should conclude a Commercial Treaty with France. Now, I have read these papers: and so much having been said—unjustly in many instances—of the spirit of passion and prejudice we are apt to indulge in at this moment with respect to our neighbours, I am bound to admit that, to me, the conduct of the French Government in this matter of Savoy, which I suppose is the question that, above all others, now renders the state of European affairs critical, appears, as far as the English Government is concerned, to have been sincere, frank, and 300 straightforward. That is my opinion, which I am prepared to prove; and, what is more, I think I can prove it in a very short space which I know is a recommendation. The House will remember that in July last, when the noble Lord, the present Foreign Secretary, announced to us the Preliminaries of Villafranca, he congratulated us upon the fact that France had required no accession of territory, and he adverted to the distressing rumour previously afloat— namely, that it had been the intention of France to demand the annexation of Savoy. That showed that the noble Lord's mind was perfectly alive to the question, and, indeed, he must have found, from the archives of the Foreign Office, that it was a subject which had occupied — though not to a very great degree, still in a manner sufficient at once to have attracted the noble Lord's own notice to it—the attention of his predecessor. Therefore the noble Lord was perfectly aware in July last that the question of the annexation of Savoy had been rife, and he justly congratulated us on that annexation not having been demanded by France. Well, we have in these papers a Despatch, in which Her Majesty's Government are informed that, after the Preliminaries of Villafranca had been signed, the Emperor of the French had renounced his intention of mooting that question, and the subject of the annexation of Savoy seemed to have entirely dropped. But it now appears from the papers before us, by a despatch dated at the end of January of this year, in the interval between the despatch which announced that the Emperor had given up all intention to annex Savoy, that if not at the same moment, yet subsequently, and on more than one occasion— in consequence, no doubt, of the difficulties which arose as to carrying into execution the Treaty of Zurich—the Minister of France had frankly informed the Ambassador of the Queen at Paris that, in case the Treaty of Zurich was not carried into effect, the Emperor of the French would certainly look to the annexation of the Duchy of Savoy and the province of Nice as a necessary consequence. That appears clearly in the papers. Well, the noble Lord having been aware that under certain circumstances which were distinctly indicated—namely, if Sardinia was aggrandized and became a considerable Power in Italy, France would require the annexation of these Sardinian provinces as a compensation; I want to ask the noble Lord— 301 who will have an opportunity of answering me to-night—how it came that from that moment he pursued a policy in Italy which, if successful, would have rendered the annexation of these provinces to France inevitable? The noble Lord was of opinion that the territorial aggrandizement of Sardinia was a highly desirable object; of course, he and his colleagues believed that it was an English interest to strengthen Sardinia and make her a Power, if not of first-rate, still of considerable importance. Do not let us now enter into any controversy on that point. If it is to be a subject of controversy, let it be reserved for a future occasion. But I assume that the noble Lord and his colleagues did not arrive at that conclusion unless they were convinced it was an English interest to pursue such a policy. But before they adopted that policy, they must have considered which was best—whether Sardinia should be weak and the frontiers of France not extended, but maintained according to the terms of treaties, Sardinia remaining in a position very different from that in which they wished to see her placed; or they must have decided that it was better that Sardinia should be aggrandized, and the boundaries of France at the same time expanded by the annexation of these two provinces. I will not now discuss which of those alternatives was to be preferred. I give the Government credit for taking the course they believed to be right. But I say this is inevitable— that with the information they possessed they must have been aware all this time that they were pursuing a policy in Italy— namely, the aggrandizement and strengthening of Sardinia, which must necessarily lead to the annexation of Nice and Savoy to France. The House will, I think, see that I am stating the case fairly. If that be so, how can Her Majesty's Government now turn round upon France and say, "What is all this? You have taken us by surprise. We find you are going to annex two Sardinian provinces. This is behaving in a manner that can be described only in the language of the noble Lord's despatches. You are producing distrust and suspicion throughout Europe. You are disturbing the settlement of Europe. Men's minds are led to the remembrance of long and sanguinary struggles, and, perhaps, the result will be fatal to your dynasty." So strange is the mode in which papers are laid before Parliament, be much better informed of their foreign 302 affairs are every nation under the sun than the English Parliament, that by a most remarkable circumstance there is no record on our table at this moment —none in these papers or in any other English official document—of an attempt by the noble Lord at the commencement of this year—following the great principle of non-interference so universally admitted and generally practised— to settle the affairs of Italy. At the beginning of this year the noble Lord produced four propositions for the adjustment of the affairs of Italy. We have no official record of them. [Lord J. RUSSELL was understood to say that papers had been delivered that day.] Well, we have no printed record in our possession, and the circumstance just mentioned by the noble Lord does not touch my argument. But we have a despatch of the French Minister commenting on those four propositions, and published to all Europe, and, strange to say, though only owing to a casual inquiry of the hon. Member for Tamworth, the noble Lord has himself expressed in this House what those four propositions were. Although that took place a fortnight, or for aught I know, a month ago, it was only this evening that the noble Lord placed these propositions on our table. What are these propositions? The gist of them, if they mean anything, is the establishment of Sardinia as a powerful State in Italy. The noble Lord will not deny that. The noble Lord proposes that it shall be left to the people of Central Italy to decide to whom they shall belong. No one doubts that when the noble Lord made that proposition, he had a conviction—and I think it is the conviction of a majority of this House, and, perhaps, of Europe—that the choice of the people of Central Italy would be for their annexation to Sardinia. I am sure I shall not be contradicted, then, when I say that the purport of the four propositions is, that Sardinia should be established as a powerful Government in Italy. Those propositions are offered for the consideration of France; France agrees to them, with the exception of one of quite minor importance, about the immediate evacuation of Italy by her armies. Now, I want to know from the noble Lord whether, when he offered those propositions to the French Ministry—the result of which would be the aggrandizement of Sardinia by the addition of the Duchies and the whole of Central Italy—I want to know whether upon that the French Minister in- 303 formed him that his Government had renounced the condition they had previously annexed to such au event—namely, that Savoy and Nice should be annexed to France. That is a question that should be answered by the noble Lord. For six months the noble Lord has been perfectly aware, as appears from these documents, that in the event of Sardinia being thus aggrandized France would claim Savoy and Nice; the noble Lord has a settlement in January for the aggrandizement and strengthening of Sardinia in the manner referred to, and I now put it to him to say whether the French Government then informed him that they had renounced the contingent condition of claiming those two provinces. I do not think that the noble Lord can rise and tell me he was so informed. But is that all? The noble Lord sent his propositions for the settlement of Italy by the formation of a great Italian Power under the King of Sardinia to the great Powers of Europe — to Austria, Prussia, and Russia. But did the noble Lord at the same time inform the great Powers that if those propositions were adopted it was of his knowledge that France would claim an expansion of her frontier in the direction of Savoy and Nice? If the noble Lord, possessing that knowledge, did not impart it to our Allies, I ask him whether that is the mode in which the diplomacy of a great country like this ought to be carried on? These are subjects upon which, when we are asked to agree to a Treaty on account of the critical condition of Europe we are, I think, bound to demand the fullest information from the noble Lord.
Sir, there is another point upon which at this moment I think it of the utmost importance the House should have correct information; and that is the manner in which very important information oozes out in these despatches which, otherwise, would never have reached the ears of Parliament, having been conveyed in what are called "private letters." I am perfectly willing to admit to the noble Lord that it is not only of the utmost advantage, but of the greatest importance that there should be unreserved communication between the Secretary of State and the Ambassadors and Minsters of the Queen at foreign Courts. At Paris, for example, the Ambassador has to write hurriedly to the Secretary of State once, perhaps twice or thrice, a day, and even where there is no hurry there are many observations and views which can only be expressed in private letters, and 304 cannot and ought not to form the subject of a public despatch. It is proper, however, that the House should be clearly instructed what these private letters are. The private letters of an Ambassador to the Secretary of State are purely and entirely what that epithet implies. They are private letters, and nothing more. The Secretary of State is not bound to show them to his colleagues. They are very rarely seen by any one except the Secretary of State himself, and perhaps the Prime Minister; and, indeed, they come so rapidly, and his colleagues are so absorbed in their own Departments, it would be impossible to do anything else. As a matter of usage the Secretary of State is not bound to place those private letters even before the Sovereign. If he quits office he takes them with him, and they form no part of the record of our diplomatic transactions or the authentic history of our public business. I find no fault with that. I am convinced that it is a practice not only expedient and beneficial, but necessary; that it would be unwise to attempt to restrict the confidential communication of the Minister with the agents of the Sovereign; and that, indeed, no man would assume the responsibilities of office if debarred of such an advantageous means of carrying on its duties with effect. Still the House ought to know that the line is distinctly drawn between private letters and the public records of the country; and I say that, from the very nature of these confidential communications, it is not right that a Secretary of State or an Ambassador should in their public despatches fall back upon their private letters. I find from these papers that most important information is contained in private letters, which are not produced. We have here no evidence that subsequently to the despatch in July, which announces that the Emperor had renounced his intention of annexing Savoy, that information was neutralized and falsified, had it not been for the private letters of Lord Cowley. Here we have an Ambassador sending a public despatch, in which he positively announced that the Emperor had given up his intention of annexing Savoy; and it is only in these private letters that we discover afterwards that, circumstances having changed, the French Minister, apparently with the utmost frankness, more than once, perhaps frequently, informed the British Ministry that if the Treaty of Zurich, constituting the Preliminaries to the Treaty of Villa- 305 franca, were not carried into effect, the Emperor would revert to his original intention. I say that a diplomatic narrative placed before this House ought to be a complete narrative. Do not let the House run away with the idea—that I am pedantically dwelling on a point of form. It is not a mere form, but a matter in which the highest interests of the State are involved. Suppose there had been a change of Ministry at the commencement of the year. The first duty of the new Ministry would probably have been to consult upon the affairs of Italy. It might have been their opinion that it would be advantageous to Europe and to England to strengthen Sardinia, and to assist in establishing her as a Power of importance; but, as far as the record of public transactions in the Foreign Office is concerned, they would have been completely in the dark as to the fact that the adoption of that policy must necessarily lead to the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France. Because, generally speaking, the Secretary of State, when he retires from office, is accompanied by the Ambassador. If not invariably the rule, that was the former practice, and it is one, I believe, which ought never to have been given up. The House therefore will see the necessity that there should be a complete register in the Foreign Office of the diplomatic transactions of the country.
It appears, then, from these papers that from the month of July or a little after— from the moment the difficulties respecting the execution of the Treaty of Zurich occurred, Her Majesty's Ministers were perfectly aware that it was the intention of France, if that Treaty were not carried into effect, as it was soon known it would be impossible, to claim the annexation of Savoy and Nice. All this time Her Majesty's Ministers have been pursuing a policy which, without agreeing with it, I will grant for argument was sound and worthy, but which if successful must necessarily lead to that annexation. And it is under these circumstances that Her Majesty's Government have asked the House to enter into a treaty of commerce with France. Early in January Mr. Grey, then Charge d'Affaires at Paris, communicated to the Government the alarm of the Swiss Government, and of their Minister at Paris, at the project of annexing Savoy and Nice. The negotiation of the Commercial Treaty went on, but no instructions were sent to Mr. Grey in reference to the subject of his letter, nor were any steps taken to make the 306 French Government aware that the views of Her Majesty's Ministers on the annexation were such as they afterwards expressed. It was not till the end of January that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs wrote the despatch on which he has received the compliments of so many hon. Gentlemen. I ask the House this —is it any compensation for the negligence and neglect of a Minister during six months, that at the end of that time, when the mischief is done, he should take refuge in a grandiloquent despatch? That document is, no doubt, very convenient for the House of Commons; but I should have liked one in the same spirit to have been sent to the French Emperor months before. The Emperor of the French is supposed, and I believe with, justice, to be not insensible to public opinion—a quality not to be despised; but, according to the noble Lord's own narrative, he appears during all these months, to have made no effort to protest against a policy which he himself described at the end of January as one which would fill Europe with alarm and distrust as of a disturbing character, and that might lead to the most distressing and dreadful consequences. Yet the noble Lord commences this Session by placing on the table a paper which is to be the foundation of a Treaty of Commerce between England and France, which Treaty he recommends on account of the critical condition of Europe, and because its significance at that moment would be understood, and would powerfully reassure the public mind in the various countries of Europe. The various countries of Europe! Why, if the noble Lord had done his duty when he sent out his four propositions at the commencement of January, the various countries of Europe must have been aware of the contemplated annexation of Savoy and Nice! And yet under these circumstances the Treaty of Commerce between England and France was to reassure the public mind. Why, these are among the most inconsistent circumstances that have ever occurred in the history of diplomacy; yet these are the papers for which the noble Lord has received compliments — compliments upon a despatch written at the end of January, when the noble Lord, had he not been absorbed in his Italian enthusiasm and thinking only of results, which, if attained, must have produced the very catastrophe the contemplation of which he afterwards deplored, must have 307 taken a course diametrically opposite. These are matters which require explanation. When we are asked to assent to a treaty of commerce between this country and France, on account of the critical condition of Europe, that critical condition being the result of the policy which the noble Lord deplores, I must ask the Government to condescend at least to explain these inconsistencies. The House is, with regard to this question, placed in an embarrassing position, one not favourable to the exercise of its privileges, and one which I think has been brought about by its own laches, and which it will ultimately very much regret. When this matter was first before us I endeavoured to call the attention of the House to the position in which we were placed. Unfortunately the House was not then sufficiently aware of the circumstances; the subject was a new one, it was hurried, I think, not to the advantage of the Government, I am sure greatly to the disadvantage of the House; but, had we only adopted what begins now to be understood, the procedure of 1787, we should not have been placed in the somewhat humiliating position in which we now find ourselves. A treaty with France is recommended to the House on account of the critical condition of Europe, and the excellent effect it would have; that critical condition of Europe turns out to be an act of aggression on the part of France which we strongly disapprove, yet by this treaty appear to sanction; and yet the House is placed in such a situation that it really can pronounce no practical opinion upon this most important instrument. If we had originally, instead of going into Committee on Customs Acts, gone, as the House did in the time of Mr. Pitt, into Committee upon the Treaty, all this embarrassment would have been avoided. That was the Motion that I made. I could not propose it in so many words, because the forms of the House prevented me, but that was the object which I endeavoured to obtain. Had that course been adopted, the Government might have carried all their Resolutions in Committee on the Commercial Treaty, and after they had carried them the House could have addressed the Crown, and could have pronounced their opinion upon the Treaty. Under those circumstances, the revenue would not have been disturbed; the Resolutions would have been only provisional Resolutions, depending upon the House approving the Treaty of Commerce. Owing 308 to the course which was adopted, the evils of which the House was at the time but little aware, it is idle to pretend that our opinion can really be given with any effect upon this most momentous Treaty. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Address commented upon what he considered a most strange and indefensible proposition of mine, that we should consider the Treaty before we addressed the Crown. No such nonsense ever entered into my head. There is only one way in which we can consider a Treaty, and that is upon an Address to the Crown; but what I wanted to impress upon the House originally was this, "Do not go into Committee of Customs and sacrifice all this revenue before you address the Crown; because the Address to the Crown, so far as it can influence public events, will, in fact, then be only an idle ceremony;" and an idle ceremony it is to-night, because, however grave may be my objections to this Treaty upon political grounds, yet, after what the House has done, I feel that it is impossible to offer any opposition to it. Regarding it from a diplomatic point of view, carping at and criticizing a Treaty is not a ground upon which you can refuse to address the Crown; and when we come to financial considerations, why, if you were to terminate the Treaty now you have lost your revenue.
Let us understand what is the state of affairs in which Her Majesty's Government have entered into this Treaty, and are now calling for our decision upon it. Is it a state of affairs such as the House was led to believe existed when the Treaty was laid upon the table? You have heard from an Imperial Throne the announcement of a political principle, the consequences of which cone of us can foresee, and the ultimate results of which many of us will not live to witness—the natural boundaries of empire. It has been publicly announced that empires have natural boundaries; and who can foresee what may be the consequences of such a policy in action? We know now that Her Majesty's Government even at the tenth hour have protested against this doctrine. We know that they have described and denounced it as one of the most dangerous that can be pursued, one that must fill Europe with suspicion, with apprehension, with distrust, and one that is associated with long and sanguinary wars, with the fall of empires, and with the fate of dynasties. This is their own description of the critical state of Europe, and it is under these circumstances that we 309 are called upon to approve this Treaty with the very Power which the noble Lord the Secretary of State himself has described as a Power of disturbance and distrust. Since the right hon. Gentleman introduced his financial scheme to the House all the circumstances are changed. We are not influenced by the same feelings, the country is not thinking of the same considerations. All is altered since the day when I endeavoured to lead you to a safer course [laughter and cheers], which everybody feels now and privately admits to have been the proper one, and which was then met by rhetorical gibes as it now is by unmeaning laughter. We shall, however, I hope, before this Address is voted, receive from the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs some explanation of the incomprehensible passages in his conduct to which I have called attention. I hope we shall learn from him why, in possession, and in full and complete possession, of the policy of the French Government, he did not communicate it to us and to his Allies, why he pursued in Italy a policy which favoured and even precipitated the policy of France, which he himself disapproves, and why in placing these papers before the House he does so in such a manner that it is with the utmost difficulty we can arrive at a conclusion as to the policy of the Government; of which, under these circumstances, I will only say, as the noble Lord said of that of the Emperor of the French, that it fills me with distrust, and I believe will lead to disturbance.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER
I think, Sir, that the House will be of opinion that the time for the full discussion of the important matters that have occupied the greater part of the speech of the right hon. Gentlemen has not yet arrived, but will be afforded at that probably early period when we shall be invited by the Motion of the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) to enter on the consideration of the conduct of the Government, and of the position of the country with reference to the province of Savoy. At present it is necessary for me to say but very little on that point. If the question of Savoy, or if any other question of foreign policy upon which a difference of opinion with the French Government might possibly arise, was before the Cabinet of Her Majesty at the time when the substance of this Treaty was negotiated, it was before us as a comparatively remote and hypothetical proceeding; and I hold that, in- 310 asmuch as, in the state of European politics which exists at the present day, you cannot expect a uniform concurrence of opinion between two great and independent countries like England and France, therefore if we were to contemplate the possible occurrence of cases in which it might be our duty frankly to express our dissent from any policy entertained by France, and to point out to her the evils which might follow its adoption, the very best mode of strengthening our own position for all events was to unite cordially with Fiance in a great act of policy, fraught with benefit to both countries, to which we were frankly invited by her, and which, whatever might occur, was the best preparation for friendly relations between the two Governments, because it tended not only to create these friendly relations between the Governments, but also to give them a broad and deep and solid basis in the friendly sympathies of the two nations.
With respect to the course of the debate I must confess I should be perfectly content to rest the argument for the Treaty of Commerce with France, irrespective of the able speech made by a Member of the Government, upon the various speeches which have been delivered by hon. Gentlemen, most of them, though not all, sitting on this side of the House—beginning with the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex, so ably seconded by the hon. Member for Leeds, and followed by a long list of Gentlemen who brought to the support of this Treaty every gift of knowledge and ability, among whom if I do not include the hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth it is only because of the much too favourable and flattering terms in which he thought fit to allude to myself. At the same time, Sir, I am sorry to say that there was one speech which, if I estimate it aright, stands in striking contrast with the general tone of the debate. I refer of course to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). Her Majesty's Government have been unfortunate beyond description during the present Session in attempting to win the favour of my right hon. Friend. Scarcely had the Session opened when he complained that never did a Government present to Parliament so scanty a programme of business; but scarcely had it proceeded three weeks more when he again complained that such was the crowd and mass of business forced upon the attention of the House by the 311 Government that they were greedily and irrationally demanding from private Members a portion of time which properly belonged to them. My right hon. Friend has told us to-night that he is an older Free-trader than any Gentleman except one who sits upon the Treasury Bench, and yet almost in the same breath he informed us that the country which diminishes its import duties makes a present of its revenue to the foreigner. Two millions, says he, of import duties we shall have made a present of to France before France begins to act upon this Treaty. Such is the mode in which my right hon. Friend illustrates his old experience and his happy conception of the doctrines of free trade. My right hon. Friend says that the Government have contrived in this Treaty to betray the interests of England, and at the same time to ruin the interests of France; for, he tells us, whoever supports the plans of the French Emperor is, in the opinion of the French people ruining the interests of France. He says, again, that by the 11th Article of the Treaty my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who is necessarily in a peculiar degree responsible for every treaty, and the entire Government have abandoned and betrayed the highest and most vital interests of this country; and yet he is perfectly satisfied, as he declared in another part of his speech, to leave in the hands of my noble Friend the conduct of our foreign affairs. These are the declarations of my right hon. Friend; but they are declarations of secondary importance, because they merely express the criticisms of an individual Member of Parliament on the conduct of the Government —there were graver matters involved in his speech; and, as a Member of the House of Commons, as an Englishman, and not less as one holding office under the Crown, I must take leave to enter my respectful protest against the whole tone and language of my right hon. Friend, when he described the character, policy, and conduct of a neighbouring and friendly nation. My right hon. Friend, in drawing a contrast between England and France, said that the policy France was "aggression, aggrandizement, and war." I admit to my right hon. Friend that if the time has really come when it is the duty of a Member of the British Parliament, of a man of ability and experience like my right hon. Friend, thus to describe the permanent and standing character and policy of a neighbouring and friendly nation, then, indeed, it is in- 312 appropriate to be discussing either treaties of commerce or amendments to treaties of commerce, not to speak of some paltry amendment relating to the export of coal, but we ought to have a sweeping and un-mistakeable vote of condemnation passed at once upon the Treaty that has been made and upon the Government that had made it. Again, says my right hon. Friend, it is not the best way to secure peace with the French people to wound and irritate their feelings. That is one of the dicta necessary to make up the budget of inconsistencies and contradictions which my right hon. Friend has exhibited to-night. "It is not the best way to wound and irritate their feelings." I ask him to put himself in their position, and then to inquire of himself whether, if he had heard such a speech delivered by a subject of a nation in peace and alliance with his own, his feelings would or would not have been wounded and irritated? But my right hon. Friend endeavoured to save himself by drawing a minute distinction between the French Government and the French nation, and he told us that we were conspiring with their ruler against the French people. Does he really imagine that, in order to soothe the feelings of the French people, he has only to draw these distinctions between them and their Government, which no foreign nation has a right to draw? We have no right, I repeat, to draw such distinctions. It is not only an interference, but it is an interference of the most offensive kind; and if there be in France one spark of that patriotism which we were told to foster in England, every Frenchman must read, as every Englishman would read, with indignation much of what we have heard to-night.
Sir, it appears to me that there is no great difficulty in construing the passage which has been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) from the despatch of Lord Cowley on the subject of the Treaty. I think he gives it too narrow a construction if he intends it to be understood that the opinion of the Government was that only on political grounds was this Treaty to be judged. We have always frankly admitted that the Treaty must be tried upon its merits with reference to commerce and trade, and with reference also to the indirect effects which commerce and trade would produce. With respect to political grounds, we could not, undoubtedly, be insensible to the fact that there was much at the time when these 313 negotiations were going on in which France and England had a common feeling, and in which France and England jointly were the main European champions of the principles and representatives of the Powers by which alone we could hope to see the affairs of Europe settled. When we looked to Italy, which has long been a suppressed volcano, certain to burst out and to produce most dangerous complications in Europe, no impartial man could deny that, whether the Emperor's title to make war in Italy was good or bad, no inconsiderable effects had been produced by the war, whether they were due to the valour of France or to the moderation of Austria, and no inconsiderable progress made towards the settlement of Italian affairs, which upon every ground of European interest and of British feeling was a consummation much to be desired. Take the state of feeling in England. It surely could not be possible for any rational man to see the state of things that prevailed in Italy, and not to desire to make an effort, in itself beneficial, but likewise recommended by the likelihood of its being successful, for the purpose of applying a remedy, or at least a palliative. We had the greatest alarm and apprehension in the public mind on the score of the great military preparations that were being made abroad. We had an immense and constantly growing increase of our own expenditure, connected very much with that alarm and apprehension. Last year it was the painful duty of the Government to propose a great addition to the burdens of the country, and we have the prospect of further additional expenditure in the present year and for a long succession of years. Was not that a reason for endeavouring to act upon the alarm and apprehension which prevailed, and to endeavour to stay the evil, not by the discontinuance of measures which the safety of the country required, but by the adoption of a process which, like the silent and ceaseless processes of nature herself, would bring into play a thousand beneficial influences on the side of peace, and which from day to day and from year to year would counteract the prevailing alarms by undermining their causes, and by substituting for whatever remained of panic on the one hand or undue military spirit on the other, those solid habits and usages of friendship which are cemented and strengthened by the peaceful intercourse of commerce and trade?
But the political part of the question I will not dwell upon; I will go to those por- 314 tions of it which are more within my own proper sphere. And here I must confess I have listened with great satisfaction to the course of the present debate, because I take it for granted that the best objections that could be made to the Treaty have been made. And what do they come to? We have heard something of bargains, and we have been told that this Treaty is a bargain that we have asked for equivalents, and that we have not got them. Sir, I deny that this Treaty has ever been a bargain, for it is of the essence of a bargain that you give away something which it would be of value to you to retain, and that you receive something which it is important to the other party to keep. This is a reciprocal instrument if you like, but a bargain it is not, for you are giving nothing to France that is not a gift to yourself, and you are receiving nothing from France except measures by which France confers s benefit upon herself. In the first place it would be unnecessary, and in the next place it would be mischievous, to inquire the precise measure of percentage on this article or on that—whether the restraint on the exportation of rags is duly balanced by the duty on paper, or whether the duty which France leaves on the raw silk she sends to us shall be removed when we are sending her enormous quantities of raw silk without any duty at all. All these propositions it was unnecessary, and much worse than unnecessary, to entertain. The hon. Member for Stamford (Sir S. Northcote) fell into a ludicrous error last night. He speaks of the slovenliness of the Treaty with regard to the export of rags. He says we have covered that by obtaining the removal of the prohibition, but that is only one fault in the Treaty, and there are twenty others. But that is not a fault in the Treaty. We have never attempted the impossible task of constructing such a system of equivalents. We have had warning enough in the experience of former years. And what says the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir II. Cairns), who finds fault with us and comes forward to instruct us? He finds fault with us for not having entered into these minute adjustments— for not having settled how much duty should be levied on every description of linen goods; and then he says, "Why not go to Spain and see whether she will not enter upon these minute and endless discussions?" I will tell him why. Because we knew quite well that, if there were any means of obstructing the progress of free 315 trade, it was by entering upon these negotiations in the spirit of bargain that he recommends. And even that is not all; for, not only would he have been entangled, if he had had the management of these negotiations, in hopeless complications that would have made him times out of mind pray his stars that he had never meddled with it, but while he was involved in the attempt to disentangle these inexplicable difficulties and complications—and I really pay him the compliment of saying that he was the man to do it if it could be done—the whole of those proceedings, involving millions of revenue, would have become patent to the public, and the last result of that blessed undertaking would have been a total paralysis alike of trade and of revenue, and of no inconsiderable portion of the commerce and industry of the country. These, Sir, are the reasons why we declined these negotiations, and it is no blot on the Treaty that it does not provide for the free export of rags. We came to the conviction that if France once frankly, sincerely, and decisively entered upon the career of freedom of trade, her own experience of the commencing stages would be a security for her proceeding onwards towards its consummation such as we could not by any other means obtain. That is the meaning of the Treaty, and that is the reason of the avoidance of these minute arrangements, which, hopeless and impossible at any time, would have been mischievous and absurd under the particular circumstances, because they would have led to a total misconception of the fundamental principles of the Treaty. That is the reason why the Treaty has been framed such as it is, and not such as has been recommended by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite.
Sir, I will only say one word on what fell from the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), who says that the increase of the income tax is due to this Treaty. I must say that is a very inaccurate statement of the case. In the first place, it must be recollected that the loss really due to the Treaty is extremely small in amount. In all the stages of our proceedings we never have given it with precision—I have never heard any computation of the exact loss of revenue we shall incur by the Treaty with France—because we have endeavoured to deal with it conjointly with the whole loss arising from the Treaty. But France is not to be charged with the benefit arising to Spain or Portugal through 316 the admission of their wines at a low price, nor are we, so far as I am aware, bound by any treaty to extend unconditionally to those countries the benefits we extend to France. The whole annual amount of loss of revenue under the Treaty upon our commerce with France cannot, I think, even at the outset, be estimated at more than £600,000 or £700,000 a year—that is, including the ultimate fall of the wine duties, which will not take place before the expiration of nine months. On commercial grounds, then, I put against a very small loss of revenue for a year the promise of a very great extension of trade. With regard to the great staples of France, wine and brandy, the reduction of duty is such as to promise a great increase of trade. As regards ourselves, I wish to call the particular attention of the House to this—that we have long acted on the principle that all differential duties are impolitic and bad, and that there is not even a single duty of any moment—I am not sure there is even one of the very smallest —that we abandon under the Treaty with France that is not strictly a differential duty. I look to France, and I must say-that I can conceive no measure more qualified to attach the people of France than a Treaty like this. We have been told that the people of France, forsooth, are opposed to this Treaty. So far as I have had opportunities of judging, I should say it appears to me the case is this—that there is a limited and powerful class in France to which, at any rate for the moment, the Treaty may be obnoxious. But you have hardly any country where so large a mass of the population are so directly interested, not only as consumers, but also as producers, and whose productions would immediately receive so greatly increased a value from a Commercial Treaty; and here you will have another most powerful agency that will attach the people of France to this Treaty and all connected with it. France is likely to receive a very large increase of Customs' revenue under this Treaty. What can be more beneficial to France than a treaty that will enable the Government to reduce the additions to the direct taxation of that country? I believe that even the hon. Member for Birmingham will admit that the people of France are not so enamoured of direct taxation as not to see with pleasure the prospect of a remission of direct taxation. I must confess I have the strongest conviction that there is another great commercial benefit 317 not alluded to in this debate, but which may be anticipated from this Treaty. Should circumstances be favourable to its development, I do not think that anything could withstand the moral contagion of France and England acting together in the sense of liberty of commerce. As long as England stood alone, it was easy to say, "This nation has grown old and great by Protection, and she can afford to throw away the ladder by which she has mounted to eminence." That is the current language about us. I admit that the admirable example we set has been but slightly, reluctantly, and partially followed; and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman, who, I admit, has spoken with moderation, is in error in supposing that the Emperor was about to introduce a system analogous to the provisions of the Treaty by independent legislation in France. Such an opinion is totally contrary to the information we possess. It rests upon no documents. The right hon. Gentleman has, I think, mistaken the negative promise of the Emperor, that no prohibitions should be removed before a certain date, for a positive promise of the Emperor that at that date those prohibitions shall be removed. It was not a fraud practised on the people, but we enabled the Emperor to hold out to the people of France by the advantages this Treaty will confer upon them additional inducements to wish the system of prohibition altered. But the advantages to be derived from this Treaty will go far beyond France, for I believe that the example of France joined with England in one course and policy will spread far beyond the limits of those two countries, and the results which the changes in this Treaty ought to achieve will be not merely to make 2d. into 4d., as an hon. Member has said, but to turn the hearts and minds of men to the blessings of peace; and gradually to spread from country to country and from region to region a sense of the manifold evils that result from protection.
Sir, let us now consider shortly what are the articles on which many of the hopes of the opposition to this Treaty are founded. Great hopes which had been entertained with regard to one item were dispelled, in a great degree, by the prudent and kindly announcement we were permitted to make the other evening on the part of the French Emperor; but, though rags have failed, yet some hopes were entertained until a recent period on the subject of shipping. The hon. Member for Sunder- 318 land (Mr. Lindsay) very frankly admitted that when he first read the article with regard to shipping—the 3rd Article—he, in common with the rest of the world, totally misunderstood it; but he congratulated himself that he had by study extricated himself from his error, whereas a portion of the world are still wandering in darkness. We have had unfortunate proof that such is the case. My hon. Friend the Member for Stamford showed last night that he did not understand the Article, and the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, following him to-night with ready confidence, has likewise exhibited a similar unacquaintance with the spirit and intention and whole effect and character of this Article. The hon. Member for Stamford began by ascribing to Government a defence of the Article which the Government did not make, and having set up a lay figure wherewith to fight, he, of course, bad no difficulty in knocking it down. He said that the Government defended the Article by asserting that it related to the indirect trade. My right hon. Friend (Mr. M. Gibson) last night did not so defend it. I say that it does not refer to the indirect trade, but to the direct trade only. I want to give an example of the extravagancies into which ingenious men are led when there is something or other to which they must object. "Now, mind," hon. Gentlemen seemed to have said, "you must object to the 3rd Article; handle it, turn it over, see what you can make of it, but object to it you must;" and so my hon. Friend opposite detected a deep plot in this Article, and urged that the French Emperor had outwitted and entrapped the simple-minded British negotiators. The Article reserves, it is quite true, differential duties on French shipping; and it is true that these differential duties are not paid by British shipping; but my hon. Friend says that the meaning is obvious, and that the French Emperor, having got the Treaty of Commerce, will give notice to terminate the Treaty of navigation, and then the differential duties will be applicable to British shipping. An argument more far-fetched or more contrary to nature and reason there could not be than one which supposed that the man who with almost unparalleled boldness has undertaken to negotiate this Treaty in France, in the teeth of so much interested opposition, and who thereby runs the risk of alienating powerful parties from his Government, would 319 the day after pledging himself in the face of his people to the principles of free trade, reverse the only instrument which prevents the unlimited protection of shipping, and revert to the old state before the Treaty. But that is not all, for what would be the effect if the Emperor exercised this cunning? It is perfectly true that, if the Treaty of navigation were at an end, this 3rd Article would enable the Emperor to impose against English shipping the differential duties which now exist in the French law,—that is to say, that by terminating the Treaty of navigation he would obtain a limited power of imposing differential duties. But what should we get? That proceeding would give to us the unlimited power of imposing duties on French ships, for then there would be nothing to prevent our prohibiting the entrance of every French ship into our ports. Let me give to my hon. Friend the real, natural, and true account of this Article. So far from having to apologize on account of this Treaty to those who represent British shipping, the Government maintain that the Treaty does much for British shipping. What will be the increase of the coal trade under this Treaty? What is the meaning of your alarms and fears for the exhaustion of English coal in 300 years? At any rate, as long as it lasts a great many more English ships will be employed in carrying it. Perhaps you think that French ships will carry it all. On the contrary, of the shipping already employed in the trade 69 per cent are British ships, and 28 per cent are French ships. That sounds grateful to the ears of hon. Gentlemen opposite. But now, what is the specific purpose of this Article? I have already stated, that of the ships now employed in the trade 69 per cent are British, and 28 are French. That makes only 97; the other three are foreign ships that go to English ports and engage in the indirect trade of carrying coal from England to France, and thus become liable to the differential duties. Now France is afraid, and naturally, that the specified rates of duties on English goods should be used by foreign ships to claim exemption from the differential duties they have at present to pay; and though France is willing to expose herself to competition in the direct trade, she will not permit it in the indirect trade, as she is afraid of the rivalry of the Dutch, Danish, and other navigators who now engage in the trade, and she asked for the insertion of this arti 320 cle in order to prevent their competition. There is, therefore, a slight flavour, a small pinch of protection, in this article. There is a protection in favour of French ships, but there is also a protection in favour of British ships. Now will not the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) admit that this article at any rate was not written in Bedlam. That is the case as regards the shipowners, and though the purists of free trade may not endure to sully her maiden hues—though they may say you ought not to consent to this article, by which you indirectly receive a benefit from protection—yet I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will not blame us on this account. Ships constituted one of the points on which great hopes long turned, and those hopes have not been abandoned tonight by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire; but I trust that he also is now satisfied as to the object and scope of the Article.
Every thing else having broken down, there still remained the subject of coal, which has been thought strong enough to bear the weight of an Amendment. I do not think that the right hon. Member for Stroud has done justice to himself, for this is but a narrow conclusion to a broad speech. His speech went much further, and the conclusion he has arrived at is, compared with the speech, so inadequate that I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman cannot go home easy to-night. At any rate, he has the consolation of reflecting that he made a gallant struggle to save one of the most vital interests of England. I must say, however, that I do not think my right hon. Friend relies much on what may be called the extra-commercial part of the case. He did not enter into details on that part of the subject relating to the prerogative of the Crown, nor will I now attempt to do so. I will satisfy myself with stating that, so far as we are advised, with respect to the rights of the Crown no duty arising out of any obligation that appertains to it is in the smallest degree compromised, qualified, or surrendered by this Treaty. The question we have to consider is entirely a commercial question. It is the question whether we ought to enter into an engagement, even for the period of ten years, which absolutely binds us during that period—or longer should a continuance of the Treaty be resolved on—to lay no duty on the exportation of coal to France. It is clear, however, that we could not enter into any 321 treaty of commerce with France without having assurance of her and she of us that we would not be subjected to exceptional legislation. I think, therefore, no one will take the slightest objection to the 19th Article, by which France is secured against any exceptional legislation on our part. The question, then, is whether we have done wisely or unwisely in undertaking that for a period of ten years at least we shall impose no export duty on the article of coal; and whether or not this is a fit subject for such an Amendment as my right hon. Friend has proposed, I trust the House will not entertain that Amendment on any other except upon the very strongest grounds. The House is going to the foot of the Throne to express its loyal sense of duty at this commencement of an arrangement which it declares will, in its judgment, be beneficial to the interests of commerce and of peace; and in such circumstances I am sure no person would wish to obtrude such an Amendment as is now proposed, except from a very strong sense of duty. And what is that sense of duty in this case? But I ought not, perhaps, to inquire into this sense of duty—it may be better to leave that point inscrutable—but what I will ask is, what is the object or policy my right hon. Friend hopes to defeat by pressing upon the House the adoption of this Amendment? I hope the notion has been disposed of that the object of France in regard to the article of coal is a military one. I am sure that in the mind of any impartial person it is impossible that such a notion could remain for a single moment. In the first place, France has contrived at this moment to acquire a fleet, by means of which fleet she has considerably shaken the nerves of a portion of the population of England without the favour of any stipulation on our part not to prohibit or to impose any duty upon the export of coal. The whole extent of the naval consumption of France is 160,000 tons, representing a value of £200,000; and I believe that quantity includes the coals consumed in the arsenals of France. The whole affair is utterly insignificant. Why, my hon. Friend (Mr. Vivian) has told us in his admirable speech to-night that he raises that quantity himself from a single mine; it is the quantity consumed by a single ironwork; it is the quantity which one mine in the north of England absolutely burns as waste at the pit's mouth every year. Not less than 180,000 tons of small coal, which one single company burns at the pit's mouth 322 for the purpose of getting rid of it, because it finds no market in England, may, under this Treaty, find a market in France, where good coal is scarce. There is no military object involved in this matter; it is a question of cost, and I may state that the estimated difference of cost, looked at from a French point of view, will be 10s. a ton. The French expect to gain 10s. a ton; and from that very estimate it will become evident to the House that a great deal of coal that is unsaleable in this country is certain to find a market in France, where the price is so much higher. Let me state in a few words what is the rational construction of this Article, and what the motives of France are with regard to it. It may be true that the French Government might have been induced to surrender or qualify this Article; but I do not know an Article in the Treaty which I, for one, would see modified with greater regret. It may be true that rather than expose the two countries to the loss of all the great boons which the Treaty promises the French Government might have been induced to qualify this Article. But I, for one, should have been ashamed to make such a request; for of all the Articles in the Treaty there is not one more beneficial, as I believe, in a commercial point of view; there is not one that will more powerfully tend lo bind together the commercial arrangements and through them the friendly feelings of the two countries. To prohibit the export of coal is impossible, except in the case of the limited prohibition that might arise on the outbreak of a war, which is entirely outside the view of this Article. To stop the export of coal, except in this limited instance, would be as impossible as it would be to prevent the import of cotton or the extraction of iron from the bowels of the earth. You export 7,000,000 tons of coals at present, which represent a value of between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, and by far the larger portion of that sum is paid for the wages of labour; so that it would be impossible for us to interfere with such a trade. But what is the state of the case with France? France has abundance of coal for those purposes that may be termed political; for the domestic use of the rich and for all the purposes of the State her coal is abundant; but for the purposes of commerce her coal is scanty, and the physical conformation of France, and the wants of her manufacturers have gone far to determine the manufacturing enterprise of the country. Easy access to the raw material and abundant supplies 323 of fuel lead to the creation of manufactures, Put these two conditions together and you have the combination that makes South Lancashire a busy manufacturing county, with the great town of Liverpool behind it. The part of France in which there is the best access to the raw material, and therefore so far is the most desirable for her manufactures, is the sea-board of the Atlantic; but then it is farthest from her supplies of fuel, that lie on the south and the east. But give France this Treaty, and an assurance that for commercial purposes she can depend on a supply of coal from this country, and then the cheapest part for obtaining coal in France will be that part that gives easiest access to the raw material of manufactures. The places whore cotton and other articles that come across the sea are to be found will also be the places where the coal will be lowest in price. I have been informed — and it is a credible statement—that there are already migrations of manufactures contemplated in France from the centre and eastern parts of the country to localities on the Atlantic seaboard, where cheap coal is expected to be obtained. That is the same process which has taken place in this country, where the iron trade of Sussex has gone to the neighbourhood of the coalpits, and where the cloth manufactures of Wiltshire and Dorsetshire have moved into Yorkshire. You can conceive no process more beneficial for the commercial interests of Franco, or one better calculated to promote the advantage of the great mass of labour in both countries and to secure the peace of the world, than that a manufacturing industry should rise up in France dependent for its prosperity on the supply of English coal. The House will understand, then, why I declare that we could not take advantage of the inclination which the French Government at one time exhibited, that rather than allow the Treaty to be lost they would consent to an alteration of this Article. But there seems to be an honest fear in many minds that, after all, we ought not to part with our coal, as it is so valuable—that we have got so little of it that we cannot let any of it go abroad. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) most ingeniously laboured to cut down that estimate of coal, though he seemed rather afraid to state the result of his figures, and said that reliance could not be placed upon them. He rather evaded the point, and could not see the termination of our coal in less than some 324 centuries. I am only sorry that my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Vivian), who so clearly disclosed the facts of the case, was not heard by a larger number of hon. Members. It is the fact that there is in the minds of the class of persons most closely connected with coal-mining in England not the slightest apprehension of an exhaustion of the stock. I have before me a letter from one of the best, most instructed, and most experienced coal-viewers in the north of England, in which I am informed that we have coal in this country to last for upwards of 2,000 years. I allude to Mr. Nicholas Wood. But, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Vivian) observed, that does not represent half the case; for you do not reckon the unworked scams; you do not reckon the deeper seams which are accessible; you do not take into view the hundreds of cases of new beds of coal which are discovered from month to month in England. This cannot, then, be meant for a serious objection. But, after all, is my right hon. Friend sincere in this Amendment? It does all very well as a subject for a speech in this House; but are we really afraid? Does my right hon. Friend economize the use of coal in his own house? No. ["Oh!"] An hon. Member says "Oh!" I agree with his sneer. The consumption of coal is 70,000,000 tons annually; the quantity sent to France is 1,000,000; if you are really alarmed about the exhaustion of the existing stock, if you really think there is any necessity for economizing, let us economize on the 69,000,000 not on the 1,000,000. Why we suffer ourselves to be stifled with smoke and endure every kind of nuisance rather than compel the economy of coal by enforcing the consumption of smoke. It would be absurd, it is said, when we consume 70,000,000 tons of coal at home, that we should export to another country 1,500,000 tons, which may increase to 3,000,000; we cannot afford it; and, therefore, we must retain power to restrain the export. Sir, these are not the grounds on which this House will carry an Amendment to the foot of the Throne. But I have done with this consideration. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), says he thinks a war with France and Europe would be better than that this Treaty should receive a final sanction. The hon. Gentleman was surprized when an involuntary emotion impelled some Members of the House to give utterance tot heir astonishment. It was a 325 breach of rule, but it was called forth by an extraordinary occasion. It is not often we have the benefit of hearing a Gentleman stand up and with engaging frankness that carries with it the assurance of perfect sincerity, state calmly and coolly in this House that he would rather have a war with France and Europe than sec this Treaty ratified, and he added in the same breath, that no man is more alive than he to the blessings of peace, but that great as are the blessings of peace, and awful as is the curse of war, this Treaty is a greater curse, and must be avoided, if possible. Sir, I must confess I do not feel at all disappointed at the course of the discussion with respect to this Treaty. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not think it disrespectful to him if I use free language, and if I confess I think that that one sentiment, and one or two others which he has used in these debates, are not worthy of the high standard of legislative wisdom which I am sure he would seek and desire to attain.
Sir, much has been said in the course of these debates that will not bear sober examination. Let us go back to the debates of 1787, and there we shall find that all the same foolish things and a great many others were said, and said, too, by very wise and distinguished men; but time and experience have cast a light over the events of those days which enable us to say that those predictions of evil have not been fulfilled. The mass of the country, at any rate so far as it can be tested by the ordinary records of the expression of opinion, has not shared in these apprehensions. I do not wish to overstate the case; but when the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire travels back to a debate which took place three weeks ago, and rather glorifies himself on the advice he then gave to the House, but which the House refused to follow, he ought to recollect that that refusal was uttered not only by the members of the Government, not only by the majority which a party can supply; but that into that majority there entered many of the most able and respected Members from the opposite side of the House, who usually vote with the right hon. Gentleman himself. He appeals to the future—to the future we also appeal. We do not, and we must not, presume to say that this treaty will control the course of political events. The experience of Mr. Pitt would warn us against any such presumption. But although the instrument which he concluded was not 326 destined to last, it did not on that account redound with the less honour to his name, or loss benefit for its time to the country; we do not the less believe that even for the time it existed it may have done much to allay the feelings of anger and excitement which in both countries followed the close of the American war, and to produce greater feelings of self-command among the English people in the earlier stages and the crisis of the French Revolution. It is not for us to describe, in exaggerated phrases, the influences which, by this Treaty, we hope to put in motion; but if, by the blessing of the Almighty, the spirit of justice, prudence, and moderation shall prevail in the councils of Europe, then, looking to the state of Europe—to the power of every country to attain strength and eminence through the development of its internal resources, and to the absence of all legitimate causes of strife and collision, we ought to hope that that state of circumstances may remain and endure under which this Treaty may produce beneficial effects beyond any power of estimating; and I must say that, in that case, I cannot but cherish the cheerful and sanguine expectation that it will, of itself, do something to make the year 1860 one memorable — memorable, because fruitful of blessings—in the annals of Europe and of mankind.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the 5th Article of the Treaty, which touched the larger number of commodities, applied to the commodities of other countries as well as those of France, or whether we were under bond to France. If they did not desire to see a system of joint government with France prevail in England, let the Government answer that the admission of these articles from all the world was not provided for by the Treaty.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he was desirous of saying a few words in explanation. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had understood him on his own authority to state that there was a great difference of opinion between the French Emperor and the French nation. Those who heard him speak would remember that he quoted the language of the Emperor himself and of the French journals; beyond which he stated distinctly that he did not draw that distinction upon his own authority. He found that there was a feeling in the House that if his Amendment should be carried it would affect the whole Treaty; under these circumstances, in 327 compliance with a wish that had been expressed by hon. Gentlemen who were in favour of the Amendment, he should not press it to a division.
§ [The House, however, calling loudly for a division—]
§ Question put,
§ The House divided;—Ayes 56; Noes 282: Majority 226.
|List of the AYES.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Leeke, Sir H.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||Long, R. P.|
|Bond, J. W. M'G.||Lygon, hon. F.|
|Bovill, W.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Brooks, R.||Nicol, W.|
|Burghley, Lord||North, Col.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Curzon, Visct.||Palmer, R. W.|
|Damer, S. D.||Parker, Major W.|
|Dawson, R. P.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Dickson, Col.||Pevensey, Visct.|
|Duncombe, hon. W. E.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Dunn, J.||Rogers, J. J.|
|Edwards, Major||Smith, Abel|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Spooner, R.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D.||Stirling, W.|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Steuart, A.|
|Gard, R. S.||Talbot, hon. W. C.|
|George, J.||Thynne, Lord E.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Trefusis, hon. C. H. R.|
|Greene, J.||Valletort, Visct.|
|Hartopp, E. B.||Vance, J.|
|Hennessy, J. P.||Vansittart, W.|
|Henniker, Lord||Vernon, L. V.|
|Hill, hon. R. C.||Way, A. E.|
|Hubbard, J. G.|
|King, J. K.||Horsman, E.|
|Knightley, R.||Bentinck, G. W. P.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adam, W. P.||Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.|
|Adeane, H. J.||Bouverie, hon. P. P.|
|Agar-Ellis, hon. L, G. F.||Brady, J.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Alcock, T.||Blight, J.|
|Andover, Visct.||Bristow, A. R.|
|Angerstein, W.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Antrobus, E.||Brown, J.|
|Arnott, Sir J.||Browne, Lord J. T.|
|Atherton, Sir W.||Buchanan, W.|
|Bagwell, J.||Buckley, Gen.|
|Bailey, C.||Buller, J. W.|
|Baines, E.||Buller, Sir A. W.|
|Baring, T. G.||Butler, C. S.|
|Bass, M. T.||Butt, I.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Buxton, C.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Byng, hon. G.|
|Bazley, T.||Caird, J.|
|Beale, S.||Calthorpe, hon. Fred. H. W. G.|
|Bellew, R. M.|
|Berkeley, Col. F. W. F.||Cardwell, rt. hon. E.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Castlerosse, Visct.|
|Biggs, J.||Cavendish, hon. W.|
|Black, A.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Blake, J.||Childers, H. C. E.|
|Blencowe, J. G.||Cholmeley, Sir M. J.|
|Botfield, B.||Clay, J.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Herbert, rt. hon. H. A.|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Clive, G.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Coke, hon. Col.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Holland, E.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Hope, G. W.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Crook, J.||Howes, E.|
|Cross, R. A.||Humberston, P. S.|
|Crossley, F.||Hunt, G. W.|
|Dalglish, R.||Hutt, rt. hon. W.|
|Davey, R.||Ingham, R.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Ingram, H.|
|Davie, Col. F.||Jackson, W.|
|Deasy, R.||James, E.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Dent, J. D.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Johnstone, hon. H. B.|
|Divett, E.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Kendall, N.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Kershaw, J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Dundas, F.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Dunkellin, Lord||Kingscote, Col.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Egerton, hon. A.F.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E|
|Ellice, E.||Knox, hon. Major S.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Laing, S.|
|Ennis, J.||Lanigan, J.|
|Evans, T. W.||Lawson, W.|
|Ewart, W.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Ewart, J. C.||Lefroy, A.|
|Ewing, H. E. C.||Lee, W.|
|Fenwick, H.||Legh, Major C.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lewis, right hon. Sir G. C.|
|Finlay, A. S.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|Forster, C.||Lindsay, W. S.|
|Foster, W. O.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Fortescue, hon. F. D.||Locke, Joseph|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Locke, John|
|Freeland, H. W.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Gavin, Major||Lyall, G.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Lysley, W. J.|
|Gifford, Earl of||M'Cann, J.|
|Gilpin, C.||Mackie, J.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Mackinnon, Wm. Alex. (Lymington)|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Gyn, G. G.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Goldsmid, Sir. F. H.||Marjoribanks, D. C.|
|Gordon, C. W.||Marsh, M. H.|
|Greaves, E.||Marshall, W.|
|Greenall, G.||Martin, P. W.|
|Greenwood, J.||Martin, J.|
|Greville, Col. F.||Massey, W. N.|
|Gray, Capt.||Matheson, A.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Merry, J.|
|Gurdon, B.||Mildmay, H. F.|
|Gurney, J. H.||Miller, W.|
|Gurney, S.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Hadfield, G.||Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.|
|Hanbury, R.||Monsell, rt. hon. W.|
|Hanbury, hon. Capt.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|Handley, J.||Moody, C. A.|
|Hankey, T.||Morris, D.|
|Hardy, G.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Newark, Visct.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Noble, J. W.|
|Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.||Norris, J. T.|
|Henley, Lord||North, F.|
|O'Brien, P.||Smith, Augustus|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Smith, Sir F.|
|Onslow, G.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.|
|Owen, Sir J.|
|Packe, G. H.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Paget, C.||Stafford, Marquess of|
|Paget, Lord C.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Steel, J.|
|Patten, Col. W.||Stuart, Col.|
|Paxton, Sir J.||Sykes, Col. W. H.|
|Pease, H.||Taylor, H.|
|Peel, Sir R.||Tempest, Lord A. V.|
|Peel, rt. hon. F.||Thompson, H. S.|
|Peto, Sir S. M.||Tite, W.|
|Pilkington, J.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Pinney, Col.||Turner, J. A.|
|Portman, hon. W. H. B.||Vandeleur, Col.|
|Pritchard, J.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Proby, Lord||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Pugh, D. (Carmarthenshire)||Vivian, H. H.|
|Puller, C. W. G.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.|
|Raynham, Visct.||Walter, J.|
|Ricardo, O.||Warre, J. A.|
|Ridley, G.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Wemyss, J, H. E.|
|Robertson, D.||Western, S.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Rothschild, Baron L. de||Whalley, G. H.|
|Roupell, W.||Whitbread, S.|
|Russell, Lord J.||White, Col. L.|
|Russell, H.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Russell, A.||Williams, W.|
|Russell, F. W.||Wise, J. A.|
|St. Aubyn, J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Salomons, Mr. Ald.||Woods, H.|
|Salt, Titus||Wyld, J.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Wynn, Col.|
|Selwyn, C. J.||Wynne, C. G.|
|Seymour, Sir M.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Shafto, R. D.||Wyvill, M.|
|Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||TELLERS.|
|Sheridan, H. B.||Brand, H. B. W.|
|Smith, J. B.||Dunbar, Sir W.|
|Smith, M. T.|
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
wished to know, in reference to the article of corks, whether the fifth Article of the Treaty was general in its application, or whether it was limited to the produce of France or goods imported from France?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the legislation of the House applied in the same manner to corks as to all other articles. The only difference was that they separated into two parts the provision with regard to corks—first, that necessarily coming under the Treaty; and secondly, that relating to corks universally.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
wanted to know whether Article 5 applied to goods which were imported from France, or to goods from all countries.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that was a question with regard to the construction of an article of the 330 Treaty upon which the hon. Gentleman had before refused to accept his opinion, and had expressed a strong opinion of his own. He was not of the same opinion as the hon. Gentleman; but if any point in the Treaty required to be elucidated, he would refer it to the law officers of the Crown.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to assure Her Majesty that, having considered the Treaty of Commerce concluded between Her Majesty and the Emperor of the French, this House begs leave to approach Her Majesty with their sincere and grateful acknowledgments for this new proof of Her Majesty's desire to promote the welfare and happiness of Her subjects:
To assure Her Majesty that we shall proceed to take such steps as may be necessary for giving effect to a system which we trust will promote a beneficial intercourse between Great Britain and France, tend to the extension of Trade and Manufacture, and give additional security for the continuance of the blessings of Peace.
To draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said resolution:" —Mr. BYNG, Mr. BAINES, Viscount PALMERSTON, Lord JOHN RUSSELL, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, and Sir GEORGE LEWIS, Mr. SECRETARY SIDNEY HERBERT, Sir CHARLES WOOD, Sir GEORGE GREY, Mr. MILNER GIBSON, Mr. CARDWELL, Mr. VILLIERS, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for Ireland, the LORD ADVOCATE, or any five of them:—To withdraw immediately.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock till Monday next.