HL Deb 21 April 1831 vol 3 cc1737-8
The Marquis of Lansdown

presented a Petition from the Merchants, Manufacturers, and other inhabitants of Glasgow, praying for a free trade to China, a free trade to India, and for permission freely to settle in India. It was not his intention then to discuss the important subjects referred to in the petition, as they must come under their Lordships' consideration at no distant period. The petition represented the general feeling of Glasgow on these three important points, and the petitioners stated, that their own opinions on these subjects bad been confinned by the valuable evidence collected by a Committee of that and the other House of Parliament. He agreed fully with the petitioners in their opinion of that evidence, and thought it afforded ample materials for their Lordships to form a safe and sound judgment on one of the most important questions of State policy that could possibly come under the consideration of the Legislature, involving not only the prosperity of the commerce of this country, but the welfare of 60,000,000 of people, who, by the course of events and the will of Providence, had been placed under their Lordships' superintendence, and who, he had no doubt, would find, in their love of justice and equity, the most indulgent consideration. He would give no specific opinion on these great questions, but he had no doubt, that the petition would receive their Lordships' deliberate consideration.

Lord Ellenborough

said, when he proposed the Committee to inquire into the affairs of India, he had stated to their Lordships, that the question, whether the country at large could be permitted to participate directly in the China trade, would depend on whether the great expenditure of the Government of India could be reduced. From the first formation of the late Government, the efforts of his noble friend who preceded him (Lord Melville), and his own efforts, were directed to the great object of diminishing the expenditure of India, that the Government might be enabled to present to the people of England the freedom of the trade to China. Their efforts had, in a great measure, succeeded, and they had reduced the expenditure of India, in the course of three years, to the amount of 1,850,000l. He must claim for his Majesty's late Government the merit of having adopted measures for giving the people a free trade to China, and they meant to effect their object by reducing the expenditure, without which it could not be accomplished. He would recommend the Ministers, whoever they might be, constantly and strenuously, to direct their efforts to obtain a gradual and temperate reform of the expenditure. That required daily and hourly attention to every minute branch of the Government. It must be, above all things, gradual and temperate, for hasty and violent reductions, such as a Parliament might direct, would endanger the stability of the empire in India.

Petition laid on the Table.

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