HL Deb 30 September 1831 vol 7 cc859-77

Lord Auckland moved the Order of the Day for the Third Reading of the Wine Duties Bill. By the Bill which was now before their Lordships, a more fair distribution of the Duties on Wine would be effected, than that which at present existed. It was proposed to place the Duties on Wines coming from France, on a better footing than that on which they at present stood. A distinction had been made against French wines, with reference to those of Portugal, which had continued for upwards of a century, and, with reference to other foreign wines, for a shorter period. By the present Bill it was intended to equalize the system. The Bill might, in the first place, be considered with a view to its probable financial effects, and, in the next, with reference to its commercial bearings. The different duties on wines at present were 2s. 3d. per gallon on Cape, 4s. 10d. per gallon on foreign wines generally, and 7s. 3d. per gallon on French wines. It was now proposed that the duty on Cape wine should be 2s. 9d. per gallon, and on all foreign wines, without distinction, 5s. 6d. per gallon. It was hoped, that by adopting this plan the consumption of wines would not be diminished. As several taxes had been remitted, it was necessary to make up for the deficiency of revenue thus occasioned; and it was expected that by this plan, 176,000l. per annum would be gained. This was no inconsiderable sum, and one which, looking to the present state of the finances, it was extremely desirable to secure. As to the commercial part of the question, he was aware that there was a strong feeling on the subject amongst some of the noble Lords opposite: but he found it very difficult to anticipate any arguments which those noble Lords might bring forward that had not already been answered. It had been asserted, that this measure was adopted for the purpose of granting benefits to France at the expense of Portugal. This, however, he entirely denied. The state of those duties, as they now stood, evinced a direct hostility to France, and a palpable partiality and favour to another country. It was wise, therefore, to alter them. This measure was no more directed against Portugal, than was the reduction of the duties on Spanish wines in 1825, intended to injure the trade with Portugal. Countries so contiguous as England and France were—countries possessing commodities that might be beneficially exchanged, ought not to allow national prejudices or senseless regulations, to obstruct that free interchange of commodities which would be extremely beneficial to both. It was in the hope of extending the trade between those two States, without improperly altering the commercial relations which existed between us and other countries, that this measure was proposed. It might be said that Portugal would resort to retaliatory proceedings. He did not think so. Our custom was too valuable to Portugal to allow her to do anything which could place it in jeopardy. Of 80,000 pipes of Port that were exported from Portugal, 60,000 found their way here. The noble Lord concluded by moving the third reading of the Bill.

The Earl of Aberdeen

said, he would state his reasons for believing, first, that the expectations of the noble Lord as to the financial operation of the Bill would be disappointed; and next, that as a measure of commercial expediency, it would be found extensively injurious. Independently of these two points, there were other reasons, of a much more important, and of a far higher nature, which called on him to describe this measure as exceedingly impolitic and unjust. He would not stop to inquire into the merits of the Methuen Treaty, though he might remark, that it had been called by Mr. Fox the commercial darling of the British people—but he would merely consider the right, of this nation to put an end to it, without notice, as this Bill did. The noble Lord then proceeded to argue, that by the general Treaty of 1810, the Methuen Treaty was recognized. The 26th article of the Treaty of 1810 declared, that the stipulations with respect to the wines of Portugal on the one hand, and to the woollen cloths of England on the other, should remain unaltered; but each party, at the end of fifteen years, was allowed the right to review the different articles, and to make alterations in the terms, upon due notice being given. Now that notice had not been given in this instance; and, therefore, he contended, that the government of our ally had been unjustly treated. That the Methuen Treaty formed part of the Treaty of 1810, entered into at Rio Janeiro, appeared from this fact—that up to that time the duties on woollen cloth were twenty-three per cent; but by that treaty, notice having been given, the duties on articles of every description were reduced to fifteen per cent. His argument with reference to the Methuen Treaty was further borne out by the conduct of the Portuguese Cortes in 1822; and he might be allowed to observe, that, for centuries, the only period when hostility and ill-will were shown to this country by Portugal, was dining the existence of that Cortes. That body undertook to renew the twenty-three per cent duty according to the old treaty, but the pretensions of the Cortes were successfully resisted by this country. He maintained that the treaty of 1810 was general, and applied as well to the Methuen Treaty as to any other. The Methuen Treaty was either separate or it was not. If it were separate, the claim of twenty-three per cent was not improper; if it were not, if it were to be taken in conjunction with that of 1810, then British manufactures were only liable to fifteen per cent duty. But, in that case, it was quite clear that we ought to comply with the other conditions of the treaty, and notice should have been given to Portugal of any intended change. With respect to the financial part of the question, he doubted very much whether the anticipations of the noble Lord would be realized. He did not believe that the increased consumption of French wines would keep pace with the reduction of the duties, while it was very probable that some diminution would take place in the consumption of Portuguese and Spanish wines. In fact, no demand for the low-priced wines of France existed in this country. At the same time, high-priced wines found their way here to such an extent, that if the consumption became much greater, the consequence would be, that the price in France would be raised so high as to prevent individuals here from indulging in that species of luxury, and thus the revenue must necessarily suffer. What was the effect of the reduction of the duties on French wines in 1825? At that time a reduction of 6s. 6d. a gallon took place in the duties on French wines. No doubt, in that year, there was a great increase of importation; but it had been rapidly diminishing ever since; and the importation was at present little more than it amounted to before the diminution of duty was made. The number of gallons of wine imported from France in 1825 was about 1,000,000; last year the number of gallons was only 352,000. It was, therefore, evident that the experiment had failed. Were they, then, to hazard the loss of so great an export trade as they possessed with Portugal, in the hope of permanently increasing the consumption of French wines—a speculation which was not at all likely to be realized? Let them consider the distress which now prevailed amongst a very numerous class of our people, and then say whether they were prepared to risk so great a loss as possibly, and he would say probably, this measure would inflict on our woollen manufacturers? Of our whole European exports, one-sixth part was sent to the Peninsula, for in this case, it should be observed, Spain was closely connected with Portugal. These two nations were our best commercial customers; and he much feared, if this measure were carried, that a great reduction must take place in a trade which had long been most beneficially carried on. The exports of this country to Portugal included no less than sixty-seven articles; and he had no doubt that, with respect to some of them, a competition, which this measure was calculated to produce, would drive us out of the market. The noble Lord did not anticipate that Portugal would have recourse to retaliatory measures. He, however, had no doubt that Portugal would alter her scale of duties, and that would be quite retaliation enough to deprive this country of a great share of that market which England at present almost wholly possessed. The average amount of our exports to Portugal was 2,500,000l. per annum. While the whole amount of imports, including fruit, wine, and everything else, was between 500,000l. and 600,000l. per annum. The balance was defrayed by bills or specie, to the great benefit of this country. Now there was no difficulty for France to carry on such a trade; because, though the French did not drink Port wine, they would have no objection to receive dollars for their goods. One branch of trade, and a comparatively new one, would, he feared, be greatly affected by this measure. He alluded to the cotton manufacture, which, in Portugal, had, in a great measure, superseded the use of woollens. Last year the exports of that article amounted to nearly 700,000l.; and they were so great, in consequence of our enjoying an absolute monopoly of the market of that country, where our manufactures paid only fifteen per cent duty, whilst the manufactures of all other countries were subject to a duty of about thirty per cent. It was to him quite clear that no retaliatory measure was necessary to deprive us of much of these great benefits, beyond the mere equalization of the duties on the part of Portugal. He would advert to another important article of trade, in which at present this country enjoyed a practical and lucrative monopoly. He meant the trade in fish, which was carried on with Portugal on account of the Colony of Newfoundland. The injury which the measure would inflict upon that interesting and important possession, would be as great in amount as would be the benefit which the noble Lord presumed would result from it. He touched with some degree of confidence upon this point, because, when he was in office, he had had communications laid before him from all parties interested in the Colony of Newfoundland, and they shewed the utter impossibility of that island competing upon equal duties with the Americans or the Norwegians in the ports of the Peninsula. In Spain there had been a lamentable, but decided proof, of the truth of that assertion. The Americans and the Norwegians had latterly been allowed to import fish into the markets of Spain at the same duties as England did, and the consequence was, that the trade of this country with Spain in fish, amounted to only one-tenth of what it did prior to that being the case. Such was the fact with respect to Spain; and, if the duties were equalized in Portugal, why should not a similar result take place? He knew of nothing to prevent it. The Newfoundland trade in fish with Portugal, which at present amounted to 200,000l. in value annually, would be reduced to nothing. Nor was the loss of that trade only to be considered, for the shipping interest would suffer considerably. It could not be said that America, like France, did not desire Portugal wines, for in all probability the United States would be glad to take those wines, if her commerce was admitted to Portugal upon the same terms as the manufactures of this country. With respect to the shipping interest, the loss would be a serious one to this country. It was a happy and desirable peculiarity in the trade of this country with Portugal, that it was all of it, almost without exception, carried on in British shipping. That trade employed between 700 and 800 British ships. It might be asked, if the equalization of duties is to produce so serious an effect, how is it that it has never yet been resorted to by Portugal, there having been no law or treaty to prevent Portugal from adopting such a course? In reply to that interrogatory, he must observe, that the subject had often been mooted. It had been discussed more than once, and apprehension had prevented its being carried into effect. The government of Portugal feared to lose the protection of England; and he might add, that deference to this country had also swayed the government of Portugal. During a long period of years, it had been the object of every Government of this country to maintain a close connexion with Portugal, and to cultivate an intimate correspondence between the two countries; but now it seemed to be the wish of the Government of this country to get rid of its oldest ally, and to leave all the commercial intercourse between the two nations to chance. If an increase of revenue merely was the object of the measure, why did not the Government at once lay an increased duty upon all wines? Why was Portugal to be subjected to an especial injury? Acting upon the noble Lord's own principle, that of an equalization of duties, the measure was partial and injurious to Portugal, for it laid as high a duty upon the low wines of Portugal as it did upon the high wines of France. Wine from Portugal that cost but 10l. a cask, paid as high a duty under the measure, as did wine from France that cost 20l. The noble Lord had adverted to the complaints which had been made against the Oporto Wine Company. He would not then go into the question of the conduct of that Company, but he might remark, that there were different opinions with respect to it. He knew that there were many of the first merchants in the city of London who entertained very different opinions of that Company from those expressed by the noble Lord. He had in his possession letters from merchants of the very highest respectability, who spoke of that Company as being beneficial to the commerce of this country, and to the consumer of Portuguese wines. But supposing the Oporto Wine Company was a grievance, granting that it was a great and serious evil, surely that in itself was not a sufficient reason for giving up an extensive market for the manufactures of this country. The Oporto Wine Company was not necessarily immortal. If it were an evil, it certainly was not one of recent standing. It had existed ever since the time of the Marquis Pombal, and its existence could not, therefore, be imputed to the present Government. The charter of that Company would, he believed, expire in three or four years, and an opportunity would then occur for modifying or altering the system on which it was founded, if it were considered to be injurious. That, however, could not be done until friendly diplomatic relations were renewed with the Portuguese government. With respect to the policy of reducing the duties on French wines, he would ask, whether the conduct of the French government towards this country had been such as to deserve so great a boon? Was the government of the Revolution more liberal towards Great Britain than that of the Bourbons had been? He had in his possession letters received by merchants in the city of London, which placed the relations of this country with France in a curious point of view. From one of these it appeared, that in September last, coffee rose to 55s. per cwt. in Paris, while in London it was only 45s. per cwt. One would have supposed that coffee would have been sent direct from this country to the ports of France. But it appeared, that by the regulations of the French government, no such produce could be sent direct to France from Great Britain. It must come from a foreign country. The orders were therefore sent to Hamburgh, to Bremen, and other foreign ports; whilst London, the great dépôt, was neglected, in consequence of the regulation that such produce sent from England could not be received except in bond. This was a great hardship on the British merchant, who was put to considerable expense for insurance, besides running the hazard of losing the market in consequence of this round-about mode of communication. One of those merchants asked, very reasonably, "Is it because we are placed in this situation by the French government, that the duty on French wines is to be reduced?" He was not mucl surprised at this illiberality in the conduct of the French government; for he had observed, that free States, in their commercial policy, were apt to act more illiberally than despotic States; and the reason was, because local and partial interests were more strenuously and powerfully supported. The French government, though not willing to treat us with common friendship, was not slow in obtaining advantages from other countries at our expense. He had formerly brought under the notice of their Lordships the activity of the French agent, who had been sent to the Tagus to demand reparation for the punishment of a French subject, for what was denominated the most beastly sacrilege that ever was recorded. That agent took the opportunity which his mission afforded, to slip into the treaty an article in favour of French commerce, and for the purpose of undermining and destroying the commercial advantages possessed by this country. [Lord Holland: "hear, hear."] The noble Baron cheered, but did the noble Baron mean to deny that what he stated was a fact? Did the noble Baron mean to say, that the document he had produced on a previous occasion was a forgery? Did the noble Baron mean to deny, that the French Admiral, only professing to seek reparation of declared injuries, had endeavoured to gain some commercial advantages for France? The noble Baron could do no such thing. He did not think that the equalization of duties by the Portuguese government was the worst measure this country had to apprehend. Although the Treaty of 1810 was declared to be perpetual, still either party had the power to put an end to it after the expiration of fifteen years; and although Portugal had hitherto shewn no inclination to exercise that power, it was impossible to say what might be its conduct under altered circumstances. Upon that treaty depended all the advantages and privileges enjoyed by Englishmen in Portugal, and the observance of which privileges had recently been so strictly insisted upon. But for that treaty not one of those insults which had been complained of and redressed, could have been complained of by the Government of this country. Such was the fact, and yet that very treaty was now to be violated and to be set at nought. He maintained that without the special privileges secured by the Treaty of 1810 to British subjects, the British squadron that demanded redress in the Tagus would have had no right there, for the injuries complained of would not have been injuries. But the same Government that insisted upon the possession of those extraordinary privileges, privileges possessed by no other country, would now take from Portugal the only commercial advantage the treaties gave to her, and also deprive that country of the protection which she had so long enjoyed, and which she had purchased at no niggard price. Not only had Portugal given to this country great commercial advantages, but she had also given large territorial possessions in consideration of that protection which she had received. In 1661, when the alliance so honourable and beneficial to both nations was formed, this country received Bombay and other possessions from Portugal. He complained of the measure itself, of the manner in which it was introduced, and of the time chosen for its introduction. He could only look at it as an act of hostility to the present government of Portugal, and, coupled with other circumstances, highly reprehensible. It was notorious that preparations were making in this country for the invasion of Portugal. These preparations were carried on in defiance of all treaties, and if not encouraged by the Government, must at least be known to it. Frigates had been purchased upon account of Don Pedro, and they were then fitting in the river, and were to make an easy passage to Havre, where they were to take in their guns and other stores. This was a conspiracy, but not a secret conspiracy, and, coupled with the production of the measure before the House, made it appear as if that measure was the share of his Majesty's Government in the plot. As to what Don Pedro might do, whether he went to Portugal with one constitution or with two constitutions, it was a matter of perfect indifference, as long as that person was left to his own conduct and his own resources; but if the Government of this country not only connived at the attempts of Don Pedro, but covertly assisted them, and France furnished assistance also, then the conspiracy might have a very different result. Should it, however, under such circumstances, be successful, it would not be so without much bloodshed and much confusion. If Portugal were an insulated as well as a weak power, then injustice would have run its basest course without interruption; but it was no such thing. It was in the immediate neighbourhood of a high-spirited and powerful nation, who would not see it trampled upon and wronged. Spain never would and it never ought to tolerate such gross injustice as was evidently contemplated against Portugal. For God's sake, for once let the personal character of the king of Portugal be left untouched. He would allow that that personage was a Nero; that he was worse; that he was as bad as the eldest branch of the family of the Bourbons; but still he said, let the measure be considered as a measure between two nations, and not as a measure to destroy the power of a par- ticular individual. British interests hat already suffered too much from the personal animosity felt towards Don Miguel, and scarcely a day passed that they did not receive some new wound upon the same account. And what did the noble Lords, the members of Government, propose to themselves even if the change should be effected? Suppose Don Miguel displaced and Don Pedro established, what would be the consequence? Why the very next hour every British subject in Portugal would be deprived of all exclusive privileges. The men who would come into power were of that class who had been members of the Cortes, and whose animosity and insolence to this country had called for the animadversions of Lord Castlereagh, and had caused the only misunderstanding there had been between this country and Portugal for an immense period of time. He looked upon the measure, the only one decently within the reach of the noble Lords opposite, as the rupture of the last link of friendship between this country and Portugal. It was less generous and less fair than a manly, straight-forward declaration of war, for it had all the enmity of the proceeding without one particle of its bravery. For all the reasons he had stated, he could not give his sanction to the third reading of this Bill.

Viscount Goderich

said, he would not, enter into a general review of the actual state of our relations with Portugal, because the state of those relations could not be understood, unless their Lordships were enabled to trace all the circumstances which placed this country in the situation in which she at present stood with respect to Portugal. He regretted that the documents which would elucidate the conduct pursued towards Portugal were not yet ready; because those documents would show, that what the noble Earl adduced as matter of crimination against the Government had no foundation whatever. The noble Earl seemed to express an opinion that this measure of equalizing the duties on wine proceeded from a spirit of hostility to Portugal, coupled with a desire on the part of this Government to conciliate the existing government of France. [The Earl of Aberdeen: "no, no."] Then he understood that the noble Earl attributed the measure solely to a hostile feeling towards the present, government of Portugal. Now it was very difficult to prove a negative against such an assertion; but he would distinctly say, that this notion was utterly unfounded in fact. The present measure had nothing to do, and never had any thing to do, with the existing relations between this country and Portugal. The idea of equalizing the duties on wine was not new. It was a measure the propriety of which he had long been convinced of. Very soon after he became acquainted, officially, with the commercial interests of this country, he entertained a doubt whether any of the advantages described by the noble Earl were derived from the treaty with Portugal; and he was at length convinced, that so far from being beneficial in a commercial or political point of view—that so far from tending to cement the union between the two countries—the effect was decidedly the reverse. That was his opinion, and, whether it was right or wrong, it was not now taken up for the first time. In 1829, when he was not connected with the Government, he was requested by certain individuals who were interested in the manufactures of Birmingham, to make some representation with respect to the trade with France, and they ascribed the evils which they complained of, that of being prevented from carrying on an extensive trade with France, to the operation of the Methuen Treaty. He transmitted their representations to Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, who was then President of the Board of Trade, and he took the liberty of an old friend to state, in a letter which accompanied those representations, "that in his opinion the Methuen Treaty was not only an evil, but a nuisance." This might be too strong a term; but it showed what his feelings were at the time. The noble Earl argued that the present measure was unjust and impolitic—unjust because it was in violation of treaties by which this country ought to be bound, and impolitic because it was favourable to a nation that did not meet us with a reciprocal feeling. He admitted, that if it were a violation of treaties, there was no censure which the noble Earl could heap on Ministers that they would not in that case deserve. It was preposterous to imagine that Government would justify a fiscal or commercial measure at the expense of honour or good faith. He contended, that we were not bound by the Methuen Treaty to give any notice. But it was said, there was an article in the Treaty of 1810, which said that, after notice, it should be competent to suspend the articles; but the terms in which the Methuen Treaty were introduced, clearly took it out of the operation of the clause which required notice. The terms were, that the treaties respecting wines and woollens were to remain unaltered. If they were to remain unaltered, there could not be imposed upon England a new obligation which did not before exist in the treaty. Did the Treaty of 1810 require notice? It was impossible to argue, from the terms of the treaty, that there was any necessity for notice whatever. The Methuen Treaty had been talked of as a great system of commercial policy, and had been held out as a thing to be imitated. That treaty was neither more nor less than a bribe to induce the king of Portugal to unite with England against France. The parties contemplated that the treaty would not be permanent, because it stated what should be done if England chose to forego the advantages which were held out to her. If Portuguese wines were not admitted on the proposed terms, the duties on woollens were to revert to what they before were. Portugal, then, had her own remedy. The treaty contemplated the mode in which Portugal would be entitled to act. The noble Lord had quoted an expression of Mr. Fox, that this treaty was the commercial darling of the people, of this country. But Mr. Fox was not infallible; and one of his contemporaries, Adam Smith, had written an able chapter in his work to prove the monstrous absurdity of the treaty which the noble Lord thought of so great an advantage. [The Earl of Aberdeen alluded to the Treaty of 1810.] There was not a word said about notice, and, therefore, no just charge as to a violation of treaty could be made. If the Methuen Treaty were, as he conceived it was, disadvantageous, they had a right to get rid of it. In his opinion, it was contrary to sound commercial principles, and it was likely to involve the country in difficulties, instead of really benefitting it. The Oporto Wine Company was the legitimate child of the Methuen Treaty, and was quite as bad as its parent. So far from the Methuen Treaty being a bond of union between the two countries, he had only to say, that on one occasion that bond of union had nearly produced a quarrel. For instance, some years ago, in 1801, under the Administration of Mr. Pitt, that great Statesman was obliged to write to the Marquis da Pinto, stating, that if he did not give satisfaction to the British Government, England would give to France, not a superiority, but that equality of which she was deprived by the Methuen Treaty. The noble Lord opposite thought it an advantage to the country to have 20,000 hogsheads of wine annually from Oporto, and not from Lisbon and other ports of Portugal. What advantage that was to the consumer of England, for his life he could not tell; but the fact was, that in consequence of the monopoly of Oporto, the people of England drank, under the name of Port, the most villainous compound that could be invented—not, indeed, the manufacture of Portugal, but of the dealers of wine in England. Since the year 1810, the Government of England had been compelled to state to Portugal, that she had been guilty of a gross violation of the Methuen Treaty, and that, if redress were not given, the abrogation of it must necessarily follow. The Government of England had, therefore, given the notice which the noble Earl required. No redress had been afforded to its representations, the government of Portugal relied on its influence, or on our supineness, and had turned a deaf ear to our complaints. He repeated, therefore, that the effect of the Methuen Treaty had been any thing but friendship between the two countries. The Methuen Treaty, moreover, was onerous on the people of Portugal. That country was obliged to admit our woolens at fifteen per cent duty. We might place any duty we liked on the salt, the oranges, and the wines of Portugal, provided we preserved the proportions. Now this was bad policy; for reciprocity should be the basis of all commercial treaties. Unless the noble Earl could establish the proposition that two negatives made an affirmative, he could not make out that a treaty which was onerous on two countries could be good for either. His noble friend had dwelt, too, on the commercial disadvantages which would result to England from this course of proceeding. He anticipated no evil effects from it; Portugal would revert to the rights she possessed before the Methuen Treaty. She might then undoubtedly, if she pleased, injure her own subjects by putting a heavy duty on our woollens and cottons. But suppose Portugal were so unwise as to place, in revenge, a prohibitory duty on British goods, as long as there were in the world those exceedingly ingenious people called smugglers, they would inevitably find their way into the dominions of Don Miguel. This very consideration would prevent Portugal from adopting a course so futile and injudicious. It was not to be disputed that our cottons and woollens were so superior to those of other nations, as well as so much cheaper, that they found their way into every part of the world, and even undersold the native productions of India. The effect of the contemplated change then would be, in his opinion, to increase the whole consumption of wine, and by destroying the monopoly, to reduce the price: not only the lighter French wines would then obtain admission, but the quantity of genuine Port wine consumed would be greater, so that Portugal herself would be a gainer by the change. He knew that the commercial system of France was most injuriously restrictive, and the fact had been admitted by Prince Polignac himself; but there was little doubt that ere long she would find the advantage of following the example of Great Britain. He denied most strenuously that there existed on the part of Government any disposition to favour France at the expense of Portugal; and the course of policy to be carried into effect by this Bill was founded, not only upon the wisest, but upon the most profitable principles.

The Duke of Wellington

said, he had heard the last sentence that fell from the noble Lord with great pleasure, and he wished that the country, judging from the acts of the noble Lords opposite, could place implicit reliance in the declaration which it contained. Such, however, he feared was not the case, for, looking at the reply of the noble Lord to the remarks of his noble friend, and the acts of the Government, he could not but conclude, that the Government was actuated by inimical feelings, and by feelings of passion against the present government of Portugal. His noble friend had placed the measure upon two grounds, as it would affect our finances and our commerce; and his noble friend had stated his reasons for believing that, as a financial measure, it would not answer the expectations entertained by the noble Lords with respect to it, and also his reasons for regarding it, as a commercial measure, as prejudicial to the interests of this country and of an old and faithful ally. To the objections of his noble friend upon the financial part of the subject no answer had been given or attempted by the noble Lord, excepting that the noble Lord had expressed it to be his belief, that it would occasion some increase in the consumption of French wines. There was a fact intimately connected with this part of the subject, which had not been at all alluded to by the Government. He meant the present and progressive consumption of Portuguese wine. At this moment that consumption was decreasing. In 1829 the consumption for the year was 2,398,000 gallons; in 1828 it was 2,603,000 gallons; and in 1824 it was 2,655,000 gallons. Yet this was the moment that was chosen to increase the duty, and that, too, their Lordships were told, for the purpose of increasing the revenue. Such a proposition was absurd. The consumption of an article was decreasing, and yet a new duty was levied upon it, for the purpose of acquiring an enlarged revenue. And what was the amount of increased revenue that was required? Why 175,000l. The House could not have been told by the Government what was the real object of the measure, but there must be some concealed covert design in bringing it forward. Then, with respect to notice being given to the government of Portugal of the intention to propose this measure, he contended, that if nothing whatever had been said in any treaty upon that point, still the Government of this country was bound by the usages in force among friendly Powers to have stated to Portugal its intention. But this country was bound by treaty to give a specific notice of such a measure as this. By the Methuen Treaty itself the governmeut was bound; and there was one point bearing upon this part of the subject, and alluded to by his noble friend, which had been left altogether unanswered by the noble Lord. If the Treaty of 1810 had no reference to the Methuen Treaty, how was it that, in consequence of that treaty, the woollens of this country had been introduced into Portugal on payment of a duty of fifteen per cent instead of twenty-three per cent? That one fact indisputably proved that the Methuen Treaty had come under the Treaty of 1810. Notice ought to have been given to the government of Portugal, and in not giving it, the Government of this country had, been guilty of a gross violation of treaties. But, said the noble Lord, notice has been given, repeated remonstrances were made to the Portuguese government respecting the improper conduct of the Oporto Company. But the treaty contemplated no such vague supposititious notice as that, but contained a regular form of notice, and that form had not been complied with. His noble friend had then contended, that this change was made to favour the commerce with France; and, in reply to that the noble Lord stated that in his opinion reciprocity was the only system that would prove truly advantageous to this country. Now what was this reciprocity with France, for which so much was to be risked? The whole of the exports from this country to France amounted to between 300,000l. and 400,000l. annually; and the amount of the exports from this country to Portugal for a similar period, to 2,500,000l.; including the exports to Spain which went through Portugal. Thus stood the facts; and they were to risk breaking up so important and extensive a commerce, for the purpose of cultivating reciprocity with acountry which repudiated every attempt at any thing of the sort. France had been already tried upon the principle of reciprocity, and she disowned it. Was there not already a reciprocity treaty in existence with France, and how had she conducted herself with respect to its provisions? What did the shipping interest of this country say with respect to the conduct of France concerning the shipping reciprocity Treaty of 1825? The conduct of France with respect to that treaty had been continually remonstrated against, and yet no satisfaction whatever had been received. The truth was, that the government of Portugal had, for the last ten months, been looked upon with inimical feelings and with passion by the King's servants, and this measure was not brought forward with any view to revenue, but for the purpose of opposing and embarrassing the existing government of that country. The noble Lords opposite did not like the situation of the government of Portugal; it was not to their mind; and they were anxious, either by revolutionary measures or any other to overthrow it. Let them, however, look well at the responsibility they were incurring. Let them consider the frightful consequences in which their planning might involve this country and the whole of Europe. If their designs were even met with a tem- porary success, they would inevitably lead to a war of opinions, to a war of religion, the worst of wars, and the most deplorable consequences for all Europe would ensue. He thought it right to acquaint the House with what he knew upon this subject. A loan had been contracted in this country upon account of Don Pedro, for the purpose of defraying the charges of an expedition for the invasion of Portugal. That loan was raised upon the Crown lands and Church property of Portugal, ft was to him most extraordinary that a Prince who had diverted the revenue of the Brazils for the payment of the interest of a loan contracted in this country for the invasion of Portugal, and by such conduct had lost the Crown of the Brazils, should now be able to raise a second loan for a similar object. He must say, that the whole conduct of the Government throughout these transactions, was grossly partial and unjust. Why, he asked, was there at that moment two ships of the line and a number of frigates in the Tagus before Lisbon? Was it to protect British subjects? Surely not, for this country was not at war with Portugal, nor was there any point of dispute between the two Powers. Such conduct was altogether unjustifiable, and, coupled with this measure, must compel the people of England to regard the conduct of the Government as prejudiced, and designedly tending to an injurious, and un-English course. And what was the time chosen for bringing forward this unjust measure? Why the very period when England was claiming the exercise of her extraordinary and unprecedented privileges under treaties which, were now violated and decried. These were transactions unworthy of this country, and could not fail to lead to disgraceful results.

The Marquis of Clanricarde

thought it the duty of their Lordships, in considering the measure before them, not to look at what good Portugal or France might reap from it, but what would be the benefit likely to arise to Great Britain. For his own part, he must regard it in a very different manner from the noble Duke; it being, in his opinion, good both as a measure of finance and as a measure of commercial policy. In saying this, he was not bringing forward any new view of the matter. Mr. Pitt, in 1787, when speaking of the Oporto Wine Company, stated, that if the grievances complained of were not remedied, this country would feel herself at liberty to seek a more beneficial wine-trade somewhere else. With respect to the alleged violation of the Treaty of 1810, he thought he could satisfy the House that that argument could not affect the question. By the provisions of that treaty, the treaty of Methuen was continued; and now, because they acted as they had a right to do under the treaty of Methuen, they were charged with breaking the Treaty of 1810. The noble Duke had compared the relative amount of their exports to France and the Peninsula; but surely they were not to act on that ground alone. Were they not to consult the comfort of the people of England, and to procure them an article of convenience or gratification if they desired it? Were their enjoyments to be abridged because the French persisted in refusing English exports? He would not appeal to the French system for the purpose of the noble Duke—he would appeal to that system for avoidance, not imitation. Let the admirers of forced manufactures look to those of France, and see the result of a narrow policy. They should not think of Don Miguel in their deliberations on the present measure, but of the financial and commercial interests of England; and he was of opinion that they would act wisely in cultivating those relations of trade with France which might lead her to direct her energies to arts productive of peace and its blessings.

The Bill read a third time, and passed