§ MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether the investigations of the Royal Commission on Trade have resulted in the suggestion of any moans for the removal of various inequalities which exist, to the detriment of British industries; and, whether steps will be taken to mitigate the injury which Trade and Agriculture, both in this Country and the Colonies, are suffering from in consequence of the system of bounties granted by Foreign Powers, especially in the importation during 1885 of 700,000 tons of bounty-aided sugars, valued at ten millions sterling, and the unfair advantages afforded to foreign owners and shipbuilders by the payment of bounties upon foreign shipping?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL) (Paddington, S.)
I hope the hon. Member will excuse my saying that it is my distinct opinion that, in respect to the first part of this Question, it is quite in his power to give as valuable and weighty a reply to it as it is in mine. He has only to read the three Reports of the Royal Commission, and, if he does so, I think he will find that the Commissioners have not made any suggestions in the direction which apparently he would wish them to take. In the third Report the Commissioners expressly state that they are not in a position to make a final Report on any of the matters in question. With regard to the second Question of the hon. Member, of course the Government are well aware that the manufacturing interests in connection with the sugar question in this country have suffered injury from the operation of foreign bounties; but we are not in a position to state whether it is in our power, in any degree, to mitigate that injury. Of course, the hon. Member will understand that the Government must also take into consideration in connection with this question the interests of the consumer. I have never yet heard it alleged that the interests of the consumer are injuriously affected by the operation of these foreign bounties; but I may add that it is at the present moment under the consideration of the Government whether they could advantageously re-open negotiations with 782 Foreign Governments as to the general operation of the bounty system upon the manufacture of sugar.