§ Resolutions (April 14), reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Resolutions be now read a second time."1143
§ MR. CRAWFORD
rose, and said:* Sir, I have undertaken to invite the House to consider, this evening, the important question of the manner in which the sugar duties should be assessed, from a point of view very different from—very antagonistic to—that taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in submitting his financial statement to the House. I am not unaware of the responsibility which every Member incurs who seeks to interfere with the legislation proposed in the Budget of the Government; nor am I insensible to the boon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has conferred upon the country, in the great remission of taxation which is involved in the relinquishment of 4s. per cwt. on all sugars imported into the United Kingdom. But, Sir, I have taken too active a part with those who disapprove of the manner in which the sugar duties are now levied, to accept the decision of the Government without inquiry and discussion. The question is a very important one. It affects the whole course of the sugar trade with our colonies, and with foreign parts. It relates to a trade which employs immense sums of money, and it involves, moreover, some of the most important principles of political economy. If I had had the good fortune to secure the attention of the House at an earlier period of the evening, I should have been tempted to answer some of the remarks which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made in the course of his financial statement the other evening. I should have been glad to refer to some of the authorities which he cited on that occasion, to notice some of the analogies which he quoted, and to examine some of the illustrations which he cited. But, Sir, I feel that at this late hour I should be unduly trespassing upon the indulgence of the House if I were not at once to go to the question at issue. That question may be briefly stated. For some time past the duties upon sugar have been levied upon the principle of a classification of the qualities, and the imposition of a differential rate of duty upon each quality. Those who object to that plan advocate the adoption of one uniform and fixed duty upon all sugars. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, in the course of his financial statement—At present we have classified duties upon sugar—approved by many, a scandal and offence to many more. Now, I am not able to deny that 1144 a classified duty has been the growth of experience.Again, further on, he said—I am not able to say that this system of classified duty has been condemned by experience.It will be my duty to show, or, at least, to endeavour to show, that the statement of my right hon. Friend is founded in error, and that the system of classified duties is condemned by experience. The Chancellor of the Exchequer adopts, as what I may call the cardinal principle of his legislation, a suggestion thrown out in a memorial of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, forwarded to him a few days before he submitted the Budget to the House. That suggestion was, that the duty should be levied upon the extractable crystallizable saccharine matter contained in sugar, so as, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us, in an illustration he used, not to include the minor products of the refinery.
Now, the proposition I shall submit is, that the duty should be imposed upon the commodity as it is brought to the market for sale. My right hon. Friend illustrated his argument by the case of two cwts. of "jaggery" imported into this country from India; but I venture to say, with all due respect to him, that his illustration was not accurate. I assume that there are two parties principally and primarily interested in this question. The first of these is the consumer of sugar; the other is the Government, as guardians of the revenue of the country. The producer is interested in a less degree; and there is a fourth party, whose interests the classified system of duties protects, but who has, properly speaking, no locus standi before the House. That party is the refiner. He is the only party taken into account in the Indian case cited by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The refiner holds in relation to sugar the position, if I may use the term, of an economical scavenger; his business is simply and solely to clean and purify the sugar brought to this country. Now, our argument is that the sugar brought to this country ought to come, and, but for the duties, would come in a condition fit for use. In the Indian case the only person damnified by a uniform duty would be the refiner. The consumer would be benefited because he would get his sugar 1145 cheaper. The revenue could not be injured, because the proposition of the Government is to charge the duty on the saccharine value only of the sugar; the producer would also be benefited; in short, all parties except the refiner would be benefited, and the refiner, I repeat, has really no locus standi before us, and no claim, economically speaking, to our consideration. But there is another point in connection with this case of "jaggery," to which I desire to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the House. My right hon. Friend supposes that these two cwts. of "jaggery" will, when refined, yield, without including the minor products of the refinery, one cwt. of sugar fit for consumption. Now, the cardinal principle of his proposition is that the crystallizable saccharine matter only is to be taxed. If, therefore, I sell to the refiner a quantity of this "jaggery," he pays me in the price a sum equivalent to the duty which I have paid upon the crystallizable saccharine matter only contained in the article; whereas, he gets out of the "jaggery," in addition to his refined produce, a large quantity of the minor residuary products—treacle and molasses—upon which no duty has been paid. In reference to this point, I may quote from a letter written to The Times a few days ago by a gentleman named Thomson, who has evidently had a good deal of experience, and who makes the following remark:—There is another reason of a practical kind which ought to tell in favour of low duties for inferior sugars, and it is this, they contain a great deal of treacle, which is quite uncrystallizable, and almost valueless in sugar-growing countries, but it is worth a good deal here.Now, the refiner in the case supposed, having paid in the price the equivalent of the duty upon crystallizable saccharine matter only, gets a larger quantity of treacle or molasses, which he sells in the market, but upon which he has paid no duty, because the duty has been levied upon crystallizable saccharine matter only. But see, on the other hand, the position of the importer of treacle and molasses from abroad. Large quantities of molasses come from the West Indies, and under the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the importer would be subjected to a duty of 3s. 6d. per cwt. in competition with the refiner, who has got his molasses altogether free of duty.
1146 I have another remark to make with respect to "jaggery." My right hon. Friend assumed that it contains about 50 per cent of extractable saccharine matter. Now, I can inform the House that this "jaggery" sugar (and I could, if necessary, produce samples at this moment) contains fully as much as 70 or 75 per cent of crystallizable substance. It contains also from 10 to 15 per cent of what is termed in technical language "glucose;" that is, sugar that is not crystallizable in the form of treacle. As far, then, as my right hon. Friend's illustration from "jaggery" is concerned, it is clear that it is not to the extent which he assumed it to be, a fair case in point; and from the manner in which I have described the working of the duty, I think it will be evident, that if the principle is adopted of charging the duty in proportion to the extractable saccharine matter in sugar, it will do injustice to many members of the community.
I now pass to the proposition itself, which have to submit to the House. I have stated that it is not possible for the officers of the Customs to ascertain by inspection the quantity of crystallizable saccharine matter contained in any sample of sugar; and I will undertake to show, from the evidence adduced before the Committee two years ago, that it is not practicable to do that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer asserts to be the basis of his proposition. I do not intend to occupy the time of the House by reciting the evidence taken before the Committee upon that particular point; but I hold in my hand extracts from the evidence given before that Committee by Sir Thomas Freemantle, which I think will suffice to show the House, that if the object is, as it is stated to be, to ascertain in an accurate manner what the amount of crystallizable saccharine matter in sugar is, it is not possible for the Custom House officer to do that by inspection in the ordinary way of business, to the satisfaction of the public. It is, of course, perfectly possible for the chemist to test and measure the separate quantities of the several constituents of sugar; but it cannot be done by practical men at the Custom House by ocular inspection; and there is no other mode in which the operation of the Custom House can be carried on as regards sugar than the mere inspection and handling of sugars by the 1147 Customs' officer. Sir Thomas Freemantle is asked—Is the comparison made entirely by the eye?And he says—There was a time when those questions of appeal were very numerous, and before we had adopted the practice of sending all sugars to one room to be assessed there, it was difficult to come to a decision; we then endeavoured to ascertain the saccharine qualities of the sugar by an instrument that was called the saccharometer.I may here observe that subsequently Mr. Ogilvie, an officer of the Customs, stated to the Committee that the saccharometer was of no possible use. Sir Thomas Freemantle is further asked—Does not the judgment of the officers differ very much upon the same sugar?He answers—Yes; no doubt it is a very nice operation; I cannot say they could bring it to mathematical precision.He is also asked—Their judgment is guided now entirely by the colour and the grain, is it not?He replies, "Yes." The House will see here that the Custom House officer does not in fact ascertain that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer says is the basis of his proposition, namely, the saccharine qualities of the sugar he has to assess. Sir Thomas Freemantle, in answer to a further question, stated—It is difficult to say how far the qualities of grain, and colour, and whiteness are indices of saccharine matter: if you consider them as the indices and exponents of saccharine matter, it becomes a mere question of saccharine matter altogether. I apprehend (he goes on to say), with respect to what are called grocers' sugars, and so forth, that the buyers purchase those sugars, and that those sugars have a value with reference to colour, irrespectively of their saccharine qualities.So that here we see that colour and grain are taken into account to determine the value of the sugar. In fact, it was required by the Act of 1854, under which the duties upon sugar were levied, that you should adopt collectively the criteria of colour and grain, and the saccharine quality of the sugar. But my right hon. Friend now proposes to drop that which the Custom House authorities say it is necessary to keep before them as guides to a proper appraisement of value—namely, colour and grain, and to depend entirely 1148 upon the saccharine qualities of the sugar only. Mr. Fairrie, one of the largest sugar refiners in this country, stated, in his examination before the Committee—In consequence, I believe, of my representations, they (the Custom House officers) have been much more liberal than they were formerly; but still it is not a thing that the officers are able to judge of; they often lay the 12s. 8d. duty on melado, which is good for nothing, and let excellent quality pass at 10s. 4d. Not being refiners, they do not know exactly whether the melado is good or bad.Here, then, is the evidence of one of the first refiners in London, who states that of that which is the principle of my right hon. Friend's proposition, the Custom House officers are unable to judge. Another important witness, Mr. Fryer, is asked by the Committee—You have assumed that a certain portion of each (sugar) is saccharine matter, and a certain portion is not?And he says—In this calculation I have not assumed that; I have simply taken a calculation in the ad valorem sense. I am quite able to show a similar calculation with respect to the saccharine matter, if desired, though I have not prepared such a statement; that is to say, I can produce a sugar that has paid the 13s. 10d. duty that contains 95 per cent of crystallizable saccharine matter.So here we have a sugar containing 95 per cent of crystallizable saccharine matter, or 5 per cent less than absolutely pure sugar, admitted at the 13s. 10d. scale, while, if it were only 5 per cent better, it must come in at the highest duty of 18s. 4d The other day a sample of sugar was passed through the Custom House at Liverpool at the 13s. 10d. duty, which was found on examination, in London to contain 96 per cent of pure sugar; so that, if it had had in it only 4 per cent more of pure sugar, it would have been liable to the 18s. 4d. scale, as against the 13s. 4d. one, the difference arising from the difference in colour and grain.
I ask the House, then, to bear in mind that whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer founds his proposal entirely on the principle of ascertaining the crystallizable saccharine matter in sugar, all experience shows us from day to day that in the assessment of these duties by the Custom House, other considerations, namely, colour and grain, must be kept in view. Now, a personal friend of my own, Mr. Guthrie, who appeared before the Committee, gave evidence to the same effect. He placed 1149 certain samples on the table, and when asked—Have you found that different rates of duty are sometimes assessed on exactly similar sugars?He answered—Yes; I have some samples here to show that; it happens sometimes, not only upon sugars of, you may say, exactly the same quality, but upon others. These are samples of Mauritius sugars, This one by the Speedwell is taxed at 13s. 10d duty, and was sold at 37s.; here is one, per Winterthur, taxed at 12s. 8d., which was sold at 39s. 9d. on the same day and in the same sale,That is to say, the sample that was taxed at a lower duty by 1s. 10d. than the other sold at 2s. 9d. more in the market. And why was that? Simply because of the colour and grain. There, again, the saccharine quality of the sugar was no index whatever of the market value of the article. I might proceed by quoting a good deal more of the evidence taken before the Committee, demonstrating more particularly how difficult, nay, how impossible it is for the Custom House officer to perform the function which the plan of the Government intrusts to him, and that he cannot, as experience has proved, satisfactorily appraise the correct value of sugars upon the saccharine principle. But there is another case which occurred not many days ago, to which I would especially desire to call the Chancellor of the Exchequer's attention. I believe it has already been brought to his notice. The firm in the City to which I have just, referred, Messrs. Chalmers and Guthrie, imported some sugar from Natal. Of this sugar samples were drawn by the Custom House officers in the usual manner for the ascertainment of the duties to which it was liable. Those officers reported that the sugar was subject to a duty of 12s. 8d. The sugar was then put up for public sale, as it usually is in the City of London, with the duty marked in the catalogue for the guidance of the buyers, and it was sold subject to the 12s. 8d. duty. Two or three days later, however, intimation was sent from the Custom House to say that its officers had made a mistake—that they had looked at the sugar again, and found that the duty on it ought to be 13s. 10d. The sugar had, in the meantime, changed hands and been sold, as I have said, subject to the lower duty first fixed upon it; but the Custom House authorities insisted, nevertheless, on the duty fixed at the second inspection — namely, 13s. 10d., and determined that it 1150 should be made chargeable at that rate. A correspondence took place on the subject, and I will read one or two passages from it for the particular information of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Ogilvie, in a note from the Custom House, dated March 22nd, 1864, wrote to Messrs. Chalmers and Guthrie, saying—Mr. Ogilvie presents his compliments to Messrs. Chalmers and Guthrie, and begs to inform them that having inspected the trade samples of sugar herewith returned, he finds that it is decidedly liable to the duty of 13s. 10d. per cwt. It appears from the inquiries he has made that the small sample by which the assessment was first made contained an undue proportion of the syrupy sugar, which misled the officers; but that soon after, having some reason to suppose they had made a mistake, they, as soon as they could, caused a second sample to be drawn, when they at once detected the error, and did their best to correct it, but, unfortunately, they were after the sale.Mr. Ogilvie then goes on to represent that in cases where mistakes have been made in favour of the Crown, they have afterwards been set right, and the trade have received the benefit; but it must be remembered that in this particular instance the sugar had been sold subject to the lower duty. I know not whether that dispute has been settled yet; but I cite the case only to show that, even with all the experience of the Custom House officers, they are unable to tell accurately what rate of duty ought to be placed on a particular sugar. The case deserves the more notice because the sugar in question comes from Natal; and nothing can be more discouraging to the planters and merchants of that colony than to find such an extraordinary course of proceedings taken in the assessment of duty payable on their sugars. Then Mr. Ogilvie proceeds to make some remarks, which are valuable as showing the treatment which the trade sometimes meets with at the hands of the Custom House officials. He says—Of course, Mr. Ogilvie has no right to expect that parties should point out mistakes to their own detriment, though it is but justice to state that there are parties who have done so; but if a party knows that a mistake has been made, which was obvious in this case and prefers the chance of its passing unnoticed or undiscovered, and if afterwards those chances do not turn out so favourable as expected, there does not appear to be very strong grounds of complaint.That is to say, Mr. Ogilvie takes upon himself to say that Messrs. Chalmers and Guthrie's firm were parties to a decided and deliberate fraud on the public. The 1151 object of these remarks has been to show that it is not possible for the Custom House officers under this classified system exactly to distinguish what amount of duty sugar ought to pay. I know there have been numerous instances of exactly the same parcels of sugar having been shipped from a colony to the ports of London and Liverpool at the same time, upon which after arrival two very different rates of duty have been assessed according to the judgment of the different officers who inspected them at the respective ports. I have known the same thing occur in London with the same shipment. I have known different rates imposed on the same sugar at different periods; nay, more, I have known the same sugar subjected to different rates according to the state of the weather, and according to any circumstances which may have influenced the Custom House officers at that particular time when the survey was made.
I cannot but think now, that I have shown the House that this system of classified duties is difficult and even unfair, and that it cannot be worked to the general satisfaction of the public. I can show also that the objections taken to the system of classified duties are not objections of recent date? I can show by reference to discussions which took place in this House, even as far back as 1845, when a differential duty was first proposed on raw sugar, that there were persons in this House who at that time objected to the system on the same grounds as we object to them at the present time. On February 25th, 1845, Mr. Ricardo made a speech in this House strongly objecting to the differential duties then proposed for the first time; and I find that on the 14th March, 1845, Mr. Hume, who, I believe, was always regarded in this House as an economist of authority, moved an Amendment "that the duty on refined sugar should be reduced to the rate of duty charged on clayed sugar," considering the difference to be a premium or protective duty. He was supported by Mr. B. Hawes, and by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright). My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham took exception, I am bound to say, to the plan of differential duties, not upon the point of protection, but because he anticipated great difficulty in assessing the duties on the classified system. It has been stated that there is no ground for the assertion that the differential duty is a protection to low 1152 sugar as against refined. I should like to quote a few words from a speech delivered m this House, in 1848, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer. I shall be able to show from his speech that he anticipated in 1848, when an additional grade of sugar was introduced in the sugar duties, that it would act as a protection to low sugars. The word "protection" occurs frequently in the speech of my right hon. Friend.There is another fault found with the Act of 1846, and that is also referred to in the Report of this Committee in the 10th Resolution—namely, as to the mode of levying the duty. It is said that the Act does not, in point of fact, give the protection it professes to give, that various sugars are subjected to one duty, and hence the whole of our colonial Muscovado sugar is exposed to the competition of the best brown clayed Havana. That is most clearly stated in the evidence of Mr. Greene. I will not trouble the House with quotations, but he states that there are differences of from 8s. to 9s. in value in the articles, and that what he wants is actual protection, whatever the amount may be which is given, and not a nominal protection as at present, which in many cases amounts to but 1s. or 2s., and in some cases to nothing at all. We propose, therefore, to introduce a new classification into the brown sugars, and to divide those sugars of foreign growth which at present come in under one duty with 'brown clayed' and 'Muscovado.'He then proceeds to show that this is done for the purpose of protecting the West Indian interest—If we are right in supposing that the greater part of the foreign sugar will come in at the higher rate of duty—if in fact the really formidable competition with colonial sugar is this description of foreign sugar—then we shall give a protection for a year higher than is now enjoyed by the West Indian proprietors.In other passages of his speech my right hon. Friend goes on to propose to extend protection "in one way or the other." The word "protection" occurs very frequently in his speech.
My purpose is to show that the real object of establishing differential duties upon sugar was to protect certain interests, and that protection remains as the practical effect of differential duties. That effect is to protect low made sugar. I find that in July, 1848, when the subject was under discussion in this House, Mr. (now Sir) H. Barkly, now Governor of the Mauritius, objected to the differential duties, and proposed one uniform scale. In 1854 I find that when the late Mr. J. Wilson introduced the classified scheme—the one which is now in force practically—Mr. Ricardo made a speech in this House protesting, in 1153 the name of free trade, against these differential duties as being unequal awl contrary to all the doctrines of true political economy. Mr. Ricardo was supported by the present President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Milner Gibson). The President of the Board of Trade asked then on what principle a difference had been made in the scale upon raw and fine sugars.
I have, then, the advantage of the opinion of the President of the Board of Trade in favour of the view of the sugar duties which I am now advocating. As to the effect of these duties on what we may term the interests of the producer, I will read an extract from a despatch of Governor Barkly then at Guiana, dated 10th of November, 1852, in which he forcibly points out the impediment which a system of differential duties places in the way of the improvement of sugar. In that despatch Sir H. Barkly says—The discouragement which the existing arrangement of duties offers to an improved system of manufacture will be best conceived from the following facts:—First. That the process of 'spoiling' sugar, when it seems better than would be likely to pass the lowest standard, is not of unfrequent occurrence on estates where the vacuum pan is usedSecond. That a gentleman in charge of an estate on which vast expense has been incurred for steam clarifiers, bog and charcoal filters, vacuum pans, and pneumatic pumps, assured me that for a further trifling outlay of £100 he could, were it not for the quasi-prohibitive duty, ship the whole of his crop (1,000 tons) of a quality equal to refined sugar, though made bonâ fide by a single process from the raw material.I have received a letter from that same gentleman, in which he goes into details as to the manner in which his sugar is made. I have no doubt whatever in the perfect integrity of his statement, that, with some little outlay for additional machinery, he could make the whole of his stock equal to refined sugar, had he not a motive in keeping the quality down in the protection which our classified system gives to low sugars. Governor Barkly, in his despatch, goes on to say—I venture most respectfully to conclude the observations which I have felt it my duty to make on a subject of so much importance to this colony in the words of a report addressed by the celebrated chemist Peligot to the French Colonial Minister in 1842:—'If colourless sugar cannot be produced from the cane (as was supposed a few years ago), if the molasses which impregnates and colours this sugar cannot be removed, if the production of colonial brown sugar must remain stationary as to quantity, if the quality cannot be improved, the excess of duty upon white sugar may to a certain extent be comprehended and 1154 justified. But if, on the contrary, this colouration is the consequence of a bad mode of working, if it be demonstrated that the sugar which preexists in the cane is white, that it is obtained white when a part is not destroyed, that the proportion extracted is consequently as much greater as it is less coloured, what must be thought of a legislative measure which imposes upon that industry the exorbitant obligation of making small and bad products, and which places a barrier before one of the things which the laws should most respect—improvement?'The Despatch in question was submitted by the Colonial Office to the Board of Trade, and the Board of Trade made this Report upon it to the Colonial Office—In the present instance, my Lords are disposed to allow considerable weight to the arguments adduced by the Governor of Guiana; and they would observe that the application of ad valorem duties on sugar appears to be in many respects less appropriate than to several other articles in regard to which it has been found expedient to abandon them. To impose a discriminating duty upon distinct kinds of a given produce, such as the produce of vineyards varying in richness, different qualities of tea or tobacco would appear to be a legitimate application of ad valorem duties, but to strike with a superior duty one pound of sugar which, by a better mode of manufacture, contains more saccharine matter than another pound obtained from the same raw material, is to inflict direct discouragement upon improvement.These are the words which I have introduced into the Resolution I have proposed, and I hope the House will be satisfied with their authority, for they are the words used by my right hon. Friend the present Secretary for the Colonies, who was then President of the Board of Trade. If these were the views he entertained then, I do not see how, in his present position, he can gainsay or deny the force of them. Now, if that was the view entertained by my right hon. Friend at that time, and giving him all credit for further enlightenment as years have passed by, I think it will be exceedingly difficult for him on the present occasion to unsay or to deny the force and truth of the language which he then used upon this subject. Other evidence was given before the Committee on the part of the producers in the West Indies, in the Mauritius, in India, and elsewhere, to show what was the effect produced upon their industry by these discriminating duties, and it was shown most conclusively that the object of the sugar-makers under the influence of those duties was always to degrade the manufacture of the article, so as to bring it just within any one of the different grades of duty here. Now, with regard to the question of the supply of sugar to 1155 the consumer, I wish most especially to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the figures I am about to read. He may not arrive at the same conclusion upon them as I do, and perhaps he has not examined so narrowly as I have the tables prepared by Mr. Messenger, of the Custom House, appended to the Report of the Committee. He will find from these tables that the consumption of sugar per head, from 1848 to 1854, showed an increase in quantity of not less than 9 lbs. The consumption per head in 1848 was 25 lbs., and in 1854 it was 34 lbs. Now, since 1854, in the nine years which have since elapsed, the progressive increase has been only 2 lbs. per head. That is, there has been an increase of consumption to the extent of 2 lbs. per head in the series of nine years, during which the differential duties have been in full force, against an increase in the previous seven years of 9 lbs. per head. Now, it is important to observe that during the first period the average duty paid was 12s. 3d. per cwt., and the average price 36s. 3d.; while in the second period the average duty paid was 13s. 5d., and the average price 40s. 4d. There has, therefore, been a very great increase in the price, but there has not been any great increase in the average amount of duty paid. I, therefore, attribute this arrest in the progress of consumption to some other cause than the duty. It is clear that the duty could have nothing to do with it. Now, let us consider to what cause this arrest in the progress of consumption is really due. The quantity of sugar which comes into this country has largely increased. It would naturally be supposed from that fact that the consumption also of sugar had greatly increased; but the fact was, that the quality had been gradually degraded and deteriorating under the influence of these duties. And when these sugars are refined and delivered to the consumer for use, they produce a much smaller quantity of sugar fit for the consumption of the population. That is the inference which I deduce from the arrest in the progress of consumption which is shown by the figures of Mr. Messenger. Now, as to the influence of these duties upon the supply of sugar, I would wish to refer to the estimate that was made by the late Sir Robert Peel, in the year 1845, when, for the first time, he proposed a scale of discriminating duties on sugars. Acting upon the information —the same information as that upon which 1156 the chancellor of the Exchequer is now acting, that is, information from the Custom House—Sir Robert Peel assumed that the quantity of British plantation Muscovado not equal to white clayed consumed in this country in 1845 would be 160,000 tons, and the quantity of white clayed at 70,000 tons. No doubt the officers of Customs had good grounds for the information which they gave to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time; but what were the facts? Sir Robert Peel's estimate, based upon this information and reliance upon experience of the past year, was, that 160,000 tons of the lower quality would be received in this country, but the real quantity that did come in was 237,000 tons. Again, instead of 70,000 tons of white clayed, there were only 1,107 tons. In the same way upon foreign free labour sugar, Sir Robert Peel was told that he might rely upon receiving 5,000 tons of the lower quality, while the actual quantity received was 3,809 tons; and instead of receiving from those sources 15,000 tons of white clayed as he anticipated, we received only 54 tons. Now, what was the effect of all this upon the public exchequer? Why, it resulted in a deficiency of duty received, as far as the calculations for that year were concerned, of no less than £463,327. The deduction I make from these facts is this, that the effect of lowering the duty upon certain grades of sugar invariably is to offer a premium to the colonies to make worse sugar in order to bring it in under the lower scale of duty. I think it has been proved by the result of the calculations which I have made upon the figures before us. What said Mr. Wilson, in 1854, upon the same point? That gentleman, in recommending the House still further to increase the scale of differential duties in favour of the lower qualities of sugar, proposed to levy a duty of 12s. upon the great bulk of colonial sugar, and a duty of 11s. upon the lowest qualities. Mr. Wilson then said that—With regard to the lowest scale which would be charged with 11s. duty," (that corresponds with our 12s. 8d. duty at present,) "on sugars of a standard not equal to brown clayed, it was a very low standard, and therefore admitted only a very small quantity; last year he believed only 9,000 tons out of 390,000 tons consumed.Now, let the House hear in mind that, in 1853, we imported 390,000 tons of sugar, of which, upon the authority of Mr. James Wilson, only 9,000 tons of 1157 the lowest quality came in under the 11s. duty. But look at 1863, when, out of a total consumption of 495,050 tons, no less than 298,000 tons were not equal to brown clayed. In 1853, only 9,000 tons out of 390,000 of this low sugar was imported, but, in 1863, the amount was 298,000 tons out of 495,000 tons, or something like 60 per cent of the total importation. Now, I would like the House to hear the opinion of a foreign writer — a writer in France — upon this subject. He will tell you what the people of France consider to be a true description of those low sugars, which come here purely to find occupation for and benefit to the refiners. This gentleman, M. Dureau, says—So that it may now be said on the banks of the Ganges, as well as in the West Indies, and in our own sugar factories of the North, the dregs, the fermentations, the leavings of molasses, are good enough for England.That is an independent French opinion with reference to this proposition. Then again M. Dureau says—And thus it is that the English consumption is completely at the mercy of the refiners, from whom alone they can obtain the sugar they prefer; while, on the other hand, the planters of the West Indies, the Mauritius, and India, shackled by a barbarous legislation, and having no other outlet than the demands of the English refiner, take no pains to increase their produce, or to improve their implements, and are ten years behind the French planters.That is indeed the fact. The sugar manufacture in Guadaloupe and Martinique, French colonies, is conducted upon methods far superior to those in practice in our colonies. I would like to quote to the House another French opinion upon this subject. It is a singular fact, that when the present Emperor Napoleon was in captivity at Ham, he considered among other things the question of the sugar duties, and he wrote a book about it. His object was to obtain an alteration of the French law.
There was then a system of French standards in France, but by subsequent changes those standards have been altered; and although in the conference which took place in Paris the other day it was stated that the Dutch, French, and English had agreed upon a uniform plan, (the Belgians alone dissenting, and taking the view which I venture to submit to the House), and although a projet de loi was brought into the French Chambers some months since, we have heard nothing about it 1158 having passed into law. Public attention has, however, been directed to this subject, and one great writer, to whom we all in this country look with respect—M. Chevalliér—he protests against the change in the interests of the public of France.; The public mind of France is against the change, and it has been brought to bear upon the French Government, and I have strong reasons for believing that the propositions of the English Commissioners at Paris will not be allowed to be carried into effect. But what did the Emperor Napoleon say of the differential duties? He said —It is evident that the obligation imposed upon the planter to send nothing but impure sugars to France, in order to preserve for that produce its greatest portable weight, is a law only fit for barbarians,Those are the terms in which such a law as this is described by the French Emperor. There is one other passage in this book which I will trouble the House with reading. M. Dureau says—Never has England received a greater quantity of the worst sugars, and never has France received richer or finer.That is during the period over which our differential scale of duties has extended. The French mid Dutch beat our refiners out of the market. Every neutral market is closed against us, and open to the French and Dutch. Why is that? It is generally attributed to the system under which the drawbacks are regulated in France and Holland, and that may be true to a certain extent, but the real explanation is, that the foreign refiners have a better quality of sugar to refine from than we have. It will be seen, on referring to the Report of the Commissioners, that—The sugar refined in Holland is almost entirely the produce of Java, which is perhaps the best raw sugar in the world.I take that to be undoubtedly one reason why the Dutch are able to beat us in neutral markets. Formerly, we used to export sugar to the Levant and to the Mediterranean ports, but that trade is gone now, and the French, and Dutch beat us there. Those countries have a law which I wish to see introduced here—a law which gives them a supply of the best sugar, and by that advantage they are enabled to beat us in all neutral markets. M. Dureau tells us that—Since 1860, thanks to the suppression of the standards, France has become the market for the first sugars, both in colour and quality. Let the standard be re-established, and a contrary direction 1159 will be taken. France will receive those coarse sugars we have lost sight of—those sugars dripping with molasses, and losing as much as 10 per cent on their voyage, those sugars smelling of fermentation, smelling of burnt matter, reeking with the odour of bad manufacture; those bottoms, those greasy, clayey sugars, only fit for the refining pan, and which bear the indelible stamp of routine, want of care, or low cunning; for in order to escape from a higher duty, and to remain below what the English call the standard of colour, they will do what evil they please, and mix lamp-black, dirt, or ashes with the sugar. Such things have been, and will be again, and you call that encouraging manufacturers. For our part, we cannot see what the nation gains by such tricks and such frauds, which are not suitable to the present times, and are repugnant to the dignity of commerce and industry.The terms which M. Dureau here employs are, I submit, most justly applicable to the system under which we, in this country, are condemned to suffer at present.
There is one other subject to which I wish to direct the attention of the House; that is, what is called the free trade argument. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other night that free trade was invoked by both parties in this dispute. The makers of low class sugar say that a uniform duty would operate as a protection in favour of the better class of sugars. The makers of the better kinds of sugar contend that a differential scale of duties acts as a protection in favour of low-class sugars. I take the bases of the argument to be this. You must go back to the raw material. The raw material is the sugar cane, and the juice which is expressed from it. That juice comes from the cane in a pure white liquid state. There are two kinds of manufacturers, the good and the bad. The good or the enterprising manufacturer possesses capital, command of labour and intelligence, and applies his machinery at once to the conversion of this liquid into marketable sugar. He makes sugar perfectly good and fit for the highest purposes of domestic use of this country. He sends it here, having expended 5s. or 10s. per cwt. in perfecting the quality, and making really good sugar, and immediately you take away his chance of profit by charging him an equivalent duty upon his product. Now, take the other case of the manufacturer who is not so good, who has not the means, or the intelligence, or the energy to apply himself to the production of a good kind of sugar. What does he do? He goes upon some old worn-out system, and in the conversion of this white syrup into sugar, he destroys it to a great extent, and converts a large portion of it 1160 into treacle. And you offer him a premium to do so. His goods come here not fit for use. Of the 295,000 tons which I referred to just now as being of this sort, of sugar, not a pound is sold over the grocer's counter; the whole of it goes to the refiner. Will you tell me that can be done without great injury, in fact, a great robbery of the consumer?
I say that it is for the interest of the consumer that you should give encouragement to the production of fine sugar everywhere, whether in Cuba, in the Mauritius, or in Brazil. Your object ought to be to hold out every encouragement to planters to send good sugar fit for use to your markets, because you get it necessarily at a, cheaper price than you can procure sugar for, of similar quality, from the refiner after he has had it in his hands to refine. I hold that to be the real argument in this matter. I will, for example, take the enterprising planter to be a planter in the, Mauritius, and the man not so enterprising, generally speaking, to be a planter in the West Indies. I know that there are some estates in the West Indies where sugar is manufactured upon the highest and best processes. The West Indian planters generally complain that they have not the means or the power of going to such great expense as is necessary for the production of sugar of the best kind. And what are you asked to do? You are called upon to aid them by fiscal regulations, and to make good to the West Indian planters their deficiencies of energy, climate, labour, soil, and capital; and by the same process you are to deprive the manufacturers of sugar in other parts of the world of the just rewards of their labour and capital. In order to show that it is a protection, I have the words of a witness, Mr. Rennie, before the Commission, who was asked what in his opinion would be the effect of a uniform duty upon imports, and his reply was that he thought the immediate effect would be to put an end to the working of all estates producing the low kinds of sugar. That may be so, but it is no business of ours to legislate for the sugar producer of any particular country; we are legislating for consumers. What does Mr. Rennie then say? He says, "The West Indians are now struggling under a protection of 1s. 2d. per ton," and what does the Chancellor of the Exchequer propose now to do? He establishes a new grade of duty of 8s. 4d. with the same object, that of protecting the West Indian 1161 planters. Now, what has already been the effect of that proposal? Why, since this scheme has been promulgated, only eight days ago, instructions had been sent out to lower and degrade the sugar, so that it may come into this country under the new 8s. 4d. duty, so that we shall soon find, if this plan be adopted, a still larger proportion than 60 per cent of the sugar imported into this country of a character that will require the aid of the refiner before it can be made fit for use. To show the opinion of some persons in the retail trade as to the quality of the sugar which comes from the refiners, I beg leave to read a letter addressed to me a day or two since by a grocer and tea-dealer in the country, whose name I never heard of before, but whose letter I think will be instructive upon this question. He says—There seems to be one very important element overlooked in the sugar controversy among the confusion of fixed or graduated scales of duty, namely, that the process to which the imported sugars are submitted by the refiners of this country deprives them in a great degree if not altogether of their conservative qualities. This does not apply, of course, to the hard lump sugar, which is in every way unexceptionable, but to the remaining products—crushed lump, pieces and bastards.The first, of course, is the sugar we use upon our tables, but the other kinds of sugar are extensively produced, and especially in the town of which my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Dunlop) is the representative, and those are the kinds of which this experienced grocer speaks. Pieces and bastards are not nice names, but they are well understood in the trade. This gentleman goes on to say—The first and second, though good in flavour and appearance, lack the sweetening properties of good raw sugar, and for preserving fruit, or wine-making, are almost worthless. The third named (bastards) are bad in taste, stinking in odour, spoiling everything coming in contact with them. Of these last named, because they are generally sold at a less price per pound than raw sugar, the poor people in the agricultural districts make their little keg or jar of elderberry wine.And these are this gentleman's words—And the chances are that before Christmas it has become sour as vinegar. That is not the case with wine or preserves made from raw sugar, which will keep for many years.That is the sugar which is brought into this country fit for use.Even the lollypop makers will not buy either of the three products named for their purposes, well knowing that disappointment is very likely to attend their operations. There is also another 1162 objection to the refiner's goods,—the quantity of water they contain not in chemical combination. Of course they are constantly losing this by evaporation, and we little know our losses in this respect.That is, the refiners of this country, who refine these low descriptions of sugar—the stuff I have been describing—accommodatingly sell to the consumer a large quantity of water in their goods. But this gentleman goes on—The great bulk of the retail trade, who alone are brought into immediate contact with consumers, know by experience the facts as detailed in the foregoing letter. Upon our shoulders fall, all the complaints of preserves that will not keep, and wine that turns sour; and we believe that a great deal of this state of things will be removed by a uniform duty on all kinds of soft sugar.And he goes on to say that he believes the course I am advocating will meet with the approbation of the great body of the consumers of this country.
I will now refer to an article which appeared the other day in the Economist newspaper, to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer alluded in his speech. Now, I fully admit the authority of that paper. I believe there is no publication in the kingdom which has done more for the cause of free trade and for commerce generally than that paper founded as it was, and successfully conducted for so many years, by my late friend Mr. James Wilson. It is very well and ably conducted now, but I cannot but think that the opinions of the editor upon this subject lose somewhat of their authority from being as it were hereditary opinions. The Economist argues that the proper way to consider these duties is to consider that the "purification," as he terms it, of sugar is a process which ought to be carried on "inside" the Custom House. But I do not see how he draws that line. I say that in the interest of the consumer the object we should have in view is, that the commodity, one cwt. or one ton of sugar, should be subject to duty just as it comes to the customer, whereas now you say, "This sugar contains so much valuable substance, and you must pay so much duty." I think I have shown that the principle upon which that is done is really a discouragement to the introduction of good sugar, while it helps to introduce the worst kind of stuff at the lowest rate of duty. But the Economist remarks—It has been justly remarked that those more moderate advocates of a uniform duty who would have what they call one duty on 'refined' and one duty on 'unrefined' sugar, or one duty on 'liquid 1163 and another on 'ordinary' sugar, have put themselves in logic and upon principle out of court.He goes on to say it is not at all material whether the saccharine substance is connected with solid matter and with liquid matter; whether it is in the state which the trade calls "refined," or in what it calls "unrefined," is entirely immaterial. And then the writer uses this strange expression—A uniform duty on liquid cane-juice, on the coarsest 'excrements' of the sugar-cane, and also upon the nicest and most delicate product of the manufactory, is consistent and intelligible.But to show that the Economist, great as its authority was, is not entitled to all the authority which was claimed for it, I will simply mention that the writer did not tell his readers that the "excrement" of sugar was merely the result of imperfect and wilfully bad mauufacture of sugar at the place of its production. A writer in another paper of great ability and authority and influence on public opinion, the Spectator, made a similar statement, which is material, as showing the imperfect information of those who assume to instruct the public on these matters. He went into a long argument, ending in the designation of the extractable crystallized matter of sugar, proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the sole subject-matter of the tax, as the "raw material."
These facts show the imperfect manner in which public writers, who set themselves to instruct the public, are really informed on these matters. There is an authority to whom I desire particularly to refer for one minute, Mr. Stuart Mill, and he, I am sure, will be listened to with respect in this House. He says thatIf a commodity is capable of being made by two different processes of manufacture, as is the case with sugar, it is for the interest of the consumer that that process should be adopted by which the best article will be produced at the lowest price; and it is also for the interest of the producer, unless he is protected against competition, and the process most advantageous for the community at large, and which it will be most for the advantage both of the consumer and producer, is that which is least interfered with by Government.He also says—That all Customs duties which operate as an encouragement to the home production of taxed articles are an eminently wasteful mode of raising revenue.There is only one other point in connection with the free trade argument which I should like to mention. It has been argued that no system could be fairer 1164 than that under which no duties at all are charged, and that that would be fairest to all parties. If there were no duties at all, the maker of refined sugar abroad could send his sugar to the market on equal terms with the maker of low or bad sugar. But if you have a system of differential duties, you immediately alter the case, and you put the maker of refined sugar in a positively disadvantageous position. This subject is one on which I should have liked to speak at much greater length, but I have had neither the opportunity nor the time of fulfilling that desire. I have been, therefore, obliged to leave unnoticed many matters which I should like to have spoken of. I can only hope that I have been successful in showing that the terms of my Motion are such as can be fairly accepted by the House. I contend that I have shown that it is not possible for the officers of the Custom House to ascertain by simple inspection the quantity of crystallizable matter in the raw material of sugar. I have also shown, that to lay different duties on the produce obtained from the same raw material is unjust and unreasonable, because, according to the authority of the Secretary for the Colonies, it strikes a blow at all improvement. I think I have also shown, by reference to the figures connected with the supply, that the operation of the classified system of duties as at present existing is to exclude a large quantity of fine sugar from the market, and that the consumer and the revenue are therefore both injured by the system. Having discharged this duty, I have only to thank the House for the great indulgence it has shown to me, and whatever be the result of the Motion, I entertain a full and confident conviction in the integrity of the arguments I have used.
I conclude by moving the Resolution of which I have given notice.
§ MR. POTTER
begged to second the Motion. He had served on the Committee which had been appointed two years ago on the subject, and had paid some attention to the facts of the case; while personally he had no personal interest in the matter, nor, as far as he knew, had any of his constituents, he begged to say that the conclusion to which he had come was that a single uniform duty was the most desirable. After subsequent communications with grocers and with consumers he still retained that opinion. The present duty was called an ad valorem duty—it was 1165 imposed upon the scale system; and the system was almost as bad as that which existed under the sliding scale for corn. Another strong objection was that the course was to fix by sight the value of the article and the consequent duty to be imposed; and the result was that as much as 50, 60, and even 90 per cent of real sugar had been admitted under the lowest duty. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to continue that system, though no doubt he reduced the distance between the scales; but, in his opinion, a fixed duty would yield a better revenue. The right hon. Gentlemen the Chancellor of the Exchequer had laid down the true principle in his financial statement, when he said—The proposition which I lay down, and which I invite the Committee to proceed on is that the form of our duty should be such as will least interfere with the natural course of trade, and be the-least open to the charge of offering to the producer or manufacturer a premium on doing something different from that which he would do if there were no duty at all.But if the right hon. Gentleman carried out his present intention it would be offering a direct premium to the refiner. The House would admit if they laid on indirect taxes great care should be taken that they were judiciously imposed, otherwise they would act oppressively on the consumer. The real duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to obtain his revenue by the means which would effect the least injury to commerce, and he hoped that the House in legislating upon the sugar question would bear that principle in mind. He now came to the main point; how the proposed duty would affect the consumer. By an uniform duty the consumer would be benefited, as he would get sugar whereever he could, regardless of the duty, and the revenue would thereby receive no injury. There was no danger of a failure of the supply on the increased consumption which would be the result, as there were fifty sources of supply still to be opened up. The right hon. Gentleman, in support of his proposition, had sheltered himself under the name of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden); but surely even the right hon. Gentleman would allow that that hon. Member; was mistaken on some subjects. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted the petition of1 the Manchester Chamber of Commerce; but he would inform him that it was at his request that the words "saccharine crystallized matter" were introduced into that document. In the course of the 1166 debate reference had been made to the Economist newspaper, but Mr. Wilson's 10 per cent protective duty in India would show the value that was to be attached to the free trade opinions advocated by that gentleman. He was certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would soon recoup himself for the proposed reduction, and he believed that in the course of three or four years that he would derive a revenue of £6,000,000 from the sugar duties, when he would in all probability propose a uniform tax of 6s. or 7s. per cwt.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is not possible for the Officers of the Customs to ascertain by inspection the quantity of crystallizable saccharine matter contained in any sample of Sugar; and that a law, which seeks to effect such an object, is unjust to the producer, inasmuch as by striking with a superior Duty one pound of Sugar which by a better mode of manufacture contains more saccharine matter than another pound obtained from the same raw material, it inflicts direct discouragement on improvement; whilst at the same time it excludes large quantities of fine Sugars from the market, and thereby injures both consumers and the Revenue by limiting the supply,"—(Mr. Crawford,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he had no desire to prolong the debate, as it was past midnight, but as his hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Crawford), who had advocated his Motion with so much ability, had referred to him in the most marked manner, and as he had acted as Chairman on the Committee to which the subject had been referred, he did not think that it would be respectful either to him or to the House if he were entirely silent. He trusted that his hon. Friend would excuse him if he used the greatest brevity in his remarks, and did not deal with the subject at the length which he should have devoted to it, but for the lateness of the hour. He should endeavour, in the few remarks he would make, to satisfy his hon. Friend that the three propositions into which his Resolution was divisible were not, either collectively or separately, worthy of the adoption of the House. The first of his hon. Friend's propositions was that it was impossible for the officers of the Customs to ascertain by inspection the quantity of saccharine matter contained in any sample of sugar. In answer to that he should appeal to the evidence before the Committee and to the practice of the 1167 trade throughout the world, in order to show that what his hon. Friend believed to be impossible was actually done, and could therefore be accomplished. The next was that a law which sought to effect such an object was unjust to the producer, inasmuch as by striking with a superior duty one pound of sugar which by a better mode of manufacture contained more saccharine matter than another pound obtained from the same raw material, it inflicted direct discouragement on improvement. His hon. Friend had done him the compliment of introducing these words as an extract from a letter of his written several years ago. He had no desire to alter those words as they stood in the original context, but he certainly disputed their meaning as rendered by the context in which his hon. Friend had placed them. The third proposition of his hon. Friend was, that the process suggested by the Government excluded large quantities of fine sugar from the market, thereby injuring both the consumer and the revenue by limiting the supply. He would show that, since the graduated scale had been adopted, the consumption had gone on increasing until it was larger than ever, and the object of the scale had been attained, because quantities of a class of sugar most valuable to the consumer in this kingdom had been imported—a class which, before the adoption of the scale, had been entirely excluded. If, then, those three propositions of his hon. Friend failed, the Resolution could not itself be worthy of the consideration of the House. With regard to his hon. Friend's first proposition he had before him the evidence of a most able witness, the friend and partner of the hon. Gentleman, who being asked whether there were any means of extracting the crystallizable saccharine matter, replied that there was a mode of ascertaining the quantity with perfect exactitude. [Mr. CRAWFORD: Yes, chemically.] He knew his hon. Friend would say that it could be done chemically but not commercially. He admitted the distinction; but how was the trade carried on? Sir Thomas Freemantle and other witnesses stated that there was at first much difficulty in working the graduated scale, but by practice it had been overcome. Appeals, at first frequent, were now very rare, showing that commercially as well as chemically, the Customs had a practical test to which they could resort. His hon. Friend's own witness, Mr. Guthrie, was asked whether 1168 the Dutch system in which the standards ranged from six to twenty, interfered with the conduct of business, and replied, "No; it is found a convenient way to conduct the business." And his hon. Friend himself, in proposing Question 6,386, spoke of it as "the universal system recognized in all sugar-producing countries, in general use throughout the Continent of Europe." Every one knew that the trade was conducted by Dutch numbers, and if the trade could be commercially carried on by reference to fifteen standards, there was nothing to prevent the Custom House officers carrying into effect a scale consisting of a much smaller number of standards. The House was aware that there had been a Conference at Paris on this subject, at which the representatives of four countries were present. They went in three to one in favour of a uniform duty; they came out three to one in favour of a graduated duty. The representative of England was alone favourable to a graduated duty, but when they came out of the Conference the representatives of France and Holland were converted to the graduated duty, and the representative of Belgium alone adhered to the uniform scale. There was the most satisfactory reason for believing, both from argument and experience, that the difficulty of assessing a graduated duty on sugar was more imaginary than real. He now came to his hon. Friend's second proposition. His hon. Friend had read a letter from Governor Barkly. What happened in 1854 was the following:—Sir Henry Barkly, when Governor of Guiana, wrote home to the Government that the scale then about to come into operation would discourage the improvement of sugar. The matter was referred to the Board of Trade, in which Department he then had the honour to serve. The Board of Trade did not advise the Government to adopt Governor Barkly's recommendations, but suggested that inquiries should be made through all the colonies to see the bearing of the recommendation on other colonies, and also that inquiries should be made at home to ascertain the effect upon the revenue from the diminution of refining in this country. These questions were considered, and the result was that the Government decided against the views of his hon. Friend. The experience of ten years had since been obtained, and was it the fact that the adoption of the graduated scale had discouraged improvement? The testimony of all the 1169 witnesses showed that never was more capital expended, and that never were more efforts made for the improvement of sugar than during the ten years of the graduated scale. His hon. Friend's third proposition was that the effect of the graduated system was to limit the supply. Now, he had before him the statistics of supply, and he found that during 1853, the last year of the old scale, the total supply of sugar was 7,487,000 cwt., while in 1861 it had risen to 9,180,000 cwts. The proportion of consumption per head on the population had risen in the same interval from 31 lb. per head to 35 lb, per head. His hon. Friend said that the graduated scale had diminished the supply, because it tended to exclude the white sugars. If the scale excluded any particular class of sugars, that was, however, not an objection to the principle of graduation, but only an objection to the figure in the scale that excluded that class. The Committee recommended that the scale should be altered so as to admit at lower relative rates of duty the white sugars which were now excluded, and also the inferior sugars, and those recommendations had been adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his present scale. The proposed graduated scale was, indeed, intended to allow those low sugars to come into the market, which would be excluded by an uniform duty. Large quantities of these sugars had been admitted, but still larger quantities had been excluded by the existing scale, which it was, therefore, desirable to alter. The Congress of Paris helped the House to understand how it happened that these white sugars went to France and Holland and did not come to England. If, for example, it appeared that there was a protective duty in other countries which operated to draw particular sugars to those countries, while England remained a free market, the imports of those sugars into England would naturally be small in comparison. He thought that these considerations showed that the Custom House officers could, in a commercial sense, satisfactorily deal with the standards now proposed —that a graduated scale did not discourage improvement — and that such a scale did not limit the supply, but would throw open the market to a large quantity of sugar that would otherwise be excluded. The Committee knew that sugar came into this country in different stages, as a raw material, partly manufactured, and completely manufactured; but it did not occur to 1170 them to impose a tax equally on an article in all those various stages. Sugar came from countries differing in all the circumstances of soil and labour, rendering it for the advantage of one that it should be forwarded raw, and for the other that it should be sent to market in its most finished state. It did not occur to the Committee that they ought to give special encouragement to any of those. On his own part, and that of the majority of his Colleagues, he disavowed the view put forward by his hon. Friend, that they were appointed to give the utmost encouragement to good sugars. A tax on sugar being unfortunately necessary, their duty was to provide such a mode of levying the tax as would leave all producers in as relatively equal a position as they would have been had there been no tax at all. It did not occur to the Committee that the British refiner was a person of whom they ought to be peculiarly jealous, for under a system of perfectly free trade, raw cotton came from India to be manufactured in England, and copper was brought from the regions in which it was found to be smelted in Wales. It was calmly assumed by his hon. Friend, that a graduated scale was obviously at variance with the orthodox principles of free trade. Yet the graduated scale was first introduced by the Government of Sir Robert Peel—the Government that repealed the Corn Laws. It had been extended by the Government of 1854, under the auspices of I the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the late Mr. James Wilson. After careful inquiry it had been confirmed by the Committee moved for by his hon. Friend, and of which he had himself the honour to be Chairman. It had since been ratified by the decision of the Conference at Paris. It had since received the approval of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden), than whom on such a subject no one could speak with more weight or influence. But he had a far higher authority even than the hon. Member for Rochdale, or the Congress at Paris, His hon. Friend the Member for London, at the close of the Committee, moved certain Resolutions, in which he did not propose that the Committee should agree to the principle of a uniform rate, but, on the contrary, proposed two rates of 18s. 4d. for one class of sugars and 13s. 2d. for another. [Mr. CRAWFORD said, he had grown wiser since then.] He would endeavour to show that his hon. Friend had not even yet arrived at a sound 1171 conclusion. In the Committee he had proposed, in effect, that there should be a protective duty of 5s. 2d. in favour of one class of sugar, in spite of the declaration both by Mr. Nelson and the Customs authorities that the distinction between refined and unrefined sugar was not practical but obsolete. He now proposed an uniform scale, the manifest effect of which would be to protect the refiner in Madras against the refiner in England, and the importer of refined sugar from Madras against the importer and producer of raw sugar. How stood the question as regarded the lower classes of sugar? In the discussion of the previous evening the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden) declared the principal objection to the malt tax to be that it gave to the producers a monopoly of the better article, to the exclusion of inferior articles from the market, and he proved his case by referring to the duty on hops as it affected those grown in Sussex and Kent. It was well known that various sugars contained widely different quantities of saccharine matter, some as much as 96 per cent, others only 50 per cent. The effect upon the lower classes of sugar of a system such as that proposed, would be not merely protective, but prohibitive. The Committee, satisfied of that, refused to adopt the plan of a double duty. His hon. Friend, having grown wiser by experience, as he affirmed, was now the advocate of a uniform or single duty, and in support of that proposition he quoted with great approval the writings of French authorities. It did not surprise him that French writers should think it for their interest to adopt that strain. For, if the French could import manufactured articles into the English market, at the same uniform rate that Englishmen paid upon the raw material, how long were manufactures of this class likely to continue in England? It would be a fatal error to attempt to exclude any sugar from the English market. The object should be to bring into the market here every kind of sugar—high, medium, and low quality— that was produced in all the world. Accordingly, the Committee recommended that an uniform duty was unjust, that an exact ad valorem duty was impossible, and nothing remained but a graduated scale of duty. In that opinion he ventured to think the House would concur. The consumption in England had risen to between 35 and 40 lb. per head of the population, and he did not believe that in France it 1172 had yet attained 15 lb. per head. Experience, authority, and analogy were all in favour of a graduated duty. He admitted that no principle should be inserted in our statute-book which was at variance with the strictest principles of free trade. But the true free trade doctrine was in favour of duties so proportioned to the value of the article that that article should come here with the same relative facility as if there had been no duty at all. An uniform duty, irrespective of value, was not free trade, but was, on the contrary, protection to some sugars and prohibition against others. There was an interest in the Mauritius, and behind other interests there was that of Cuba, which would benefit from an uniform scale. But the great interest of the producer in the British colonies and of the consumer in this country was on the side of a graduated duty, and he trusted, therefore, that the House would reject the Motion of his hon. Friend.
MR. J. B. SMITH
begged to move the adjournment of the House. He thought that it was too late for them then to properly discuss his proposition that the duty should be imposed only for one year instead of three. The present question was one that ought to be brought on at a much earlier hour than it had been, in order to be properly discussed. There were several hon. Members who had not yet spoken who were desirous of expressing their opinions upon it. He trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would promise to introduce the Bill at such a time of the evening as would allow of time fully to discuss a subject of that importance.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought that at that hour of the night (ten minutes to one o'clock) it was hardly to be expected that the House could then properly dispose of the question. In substance though not in spirit he considered the proposition of the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Crawford) perfectly fair. He hoped, however, the hon. Member would not prevent their proceeding with the business, and therefore he suggested that the discussion which the hon. Member desired relative to the period for which the proposed duties should be imposed might be more conveniently taken in Committee on the Bill, and he undertook that it should come on at an hour which would give hon. Members an opportunity of fully and fairly discussing the question.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
begged to explain 1173 that he had not at present, and never had, any personal interest in the manufacture of sugar, and that when his partner gave his evidence before the Select Committee neither he nor Mr. Nelson had any interest in the refinement of sugar in India.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that he had never intended to impute any personal motive to either the hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Crawford), or to Mr. Nelson.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 17: Majority 116.1174
|Adeane, H. J.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Agar-Ellis, hon. L. G. F.||Grogan, Sir E.|
|Archdall, Captain M.||Hanbury, R.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Hankey, T.|
|Bagwell, J.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Barnes, T.||Hassard, M.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Hayter, rt. hn. Sir W. G.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.|
|Bazley, T.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Henderson, J.|
|Black, A.||Hennessy, J. P.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Bruce, H. A.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Howes, E.|
|Bruen, H.||Hutt, rt. hon. W.|
|Buckley, General||Kingscote, Colonel|
|Bury, Viscount||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Butt, I.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E.|
|Calthorpe, hon. F. H. W. G.|
|Layard, A. H.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Leader, N. P.|
|Castlerosse, Viscount||Lefevre, G. J. S.|
|Clay, J.||Lewis, H.|
|Clive, Capt. hon. G. W.||Locke, J.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Colthurst, Sir G. C.||Malcolm, J. W.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Martin, P. W.|
|Dalglish, R.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Davey, R.||Miller, W.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Mordaunt, Sir C.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Morris, D.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Morrison, W.|
|Dunne, Colonel||Mure, D.|
|Evans, T. W.||Neate, C.|
|Ewart, J. C.||North, F.|
|Ewing, H. E. Crum-||Northcote, Sir R. H.|
|Farquhar, Sir M.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Fenwick, H.||Ogilvy, Sir J.|
|Floyer, J.||O'Hagan, rt. hon. T.|
|Forster, W. E.||O'Loghlen, Sir C. M.|
|Fortescue, C. S.||Paget, C.|
|Card, R. S.||Paget, Lord A.|
|George, J||Paget, Lord C.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Palmer, Sir R.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Goddard, A. L.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F. H.||Peel, rt. hon. F.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Pilkington, J.|
|Goschen, G. J.||Powell, F. S.|
|Grenfell, H. R.||Robertson, D.|
|Gray, Captain||Russell, A.|
|Russell, F. W.||Turner, C.|
|Scholefield, W.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|Selwyn, C. J.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Smith, M. T.||Watkins, Colonel L.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Watlington, J. W. P.|
|Somes, J,||Weguelin, T. M.|
|Stacpoole, W.||White, L.|
|Stanhope, J. B.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Stewart, Sir M. R. S.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Stuart, Lieut. -Col. W.||Wyld, J.|
|Stronge, J. M.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Sullivan, M.||Wyvill, M.|
|Taylor, P. A.|
|Thynne, Lord H.||Brand, hon. H. B. W.|
|Torrens, R.||Dunbar Sir W.|
|Tracy, hon. C. R. D. H.|
|Bramley-Moore, J.||Moffatt, G.|
|Buchanan, W.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Seymour, H D|
|Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.||Smith, J. B.|
|Greaves, E.||Whalley, G.|
|Greene, J.||White, J.|
|Griffith, C. D.|
|Kekewich, S. T.||TELLERS.|
|Lawson, W.||Crawford, R. W.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Potter, E|
|Lindsay, W. S.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions read 2°, and agreed to.
§ Bill or Bills ordered to be brought in by Mr. MASSEY, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, and Mr. PEEL.