§ The EARL of CLARENDON
said: My Lords, I rise for the purpose of moving the First Reading of the Sugar Bill, which under ordinary circumstances, and according to the practice of the House, would be a merely formal Motion, as your Lordships always give a first reading to every Bill, and discourage any explanation of it which may lead to discussion, reserving such discussion until the second reading, when your Lordships have had the opportunity of giving it consideration, and are better prepared to enter into the subject. And if I depart from that course on the present occasion, I assure your Lordships that it is from no wish to alter the practice of the House, or to establish a precedent which your Lordships would not sanction, and still less from any desire to bring on a discussion of the measure prematurely; but I have been given to understand that it would be a great personal convenience to several of your Lordships, considering the period of the Session, that the debate should take place with no avoidable delay; and I think that no inconvenience can result from discussing the Bill in this early stage, for it is one with the provisions of which your Lordships must be by this time well acquainted, and on the principle of which you have had time to form an opinion. I trust that the opinion of your Lordships will not be adverse to this measure; and that it may be per- 468 mitted to pass without opposition; but even were I certain of this, I should consider myself wanting in respect to your Lordships, and improperly discharging my duty, if I did not state the grounds upon which Her Majesty's Government ask your concurrence in a measure involving considerations so various, and interests so great and important. I therefore must request your indulgence whilst I state in detail the nature of the measure. I trust I shall not unnecessarily occupy your Lordships' time in giving this explanation—a task, however, which is much simplified and facilitated by the policy within the last four years adopted by the Government, and sanctioned by Parliament—for I feel that I should be trespassing on your Lordships' time if I entered upon the general question of protection, or undertook to show what, in my humble opinion, are the evils that are associated with that principle; because, for the last four years, in each succeeding Session—in one form or other—to a greater or less extent—Parliament has pronounced its deliberate judgment that the protective system is an erroneous one; and that any legislation for the purpose of giving a preference to one class over another—to the few over the many—ought not to be longer continued. Parliament has ceased to legislate for particular interests, and having adopted the general principle of national benefit, the system of protection, or rather I should say of non-protection, is now a settled, and I will venture to add an irrevocably settled question. I will therefore say no more upon this beyond expressing the confident belief I entertain that as your Lordships have decided upon withdrawing protection from British agriculture, you will not refuse to adopt a similar policy towards the Colonies, and that you will consequently not reject the Bill now on your Table, which is the consequence and the corollary of the measure that you agreed to, with respect to British agriculture, a few weeks ago, by a large majority. I am further inclined to hope that yon will adopt this measure, for I rely so strongly upon the consistency of your Lordships as to believe that no political changes could be sufficient to induce you to depart from the principle which you have so recently adopted. I also am disposed to believe you will agree to this measure, because a rejection of it will continue to place beyond the reach of the great body of the people the advantage of obtaining at a cheap price an ar- 469 ticle which has now become one of the necessaries of life, and be alike injurious to the revenue, to the people, and to a large class of our fellow subjects, whose interests we are bound to regard carefully—the British producers of sugar. On this question, so important to them, I am bound to say—and I have pleasure in so doing—that that class has exhibited great moderation and forbearance. They have claimed nothing beyond what is enjoyed by the agriculturist at home; and from the moment they understood that the abolition of the Corn Laws was a settled question, they also understood that the prohibition against foreign sugar entering the English market could not be longer allowed to continue; and that they could not expect to maintain that untenable distinction between free-grown and slave-labour sugar. They felt, as the British agriculturists felt, that the most injurious thing that could happen to them would be a prolongation of uncertainty; they have been so tortured by doubts, by constant agitation, and by the annual discussions of their affairs in Parliament—which have rendered their business profitless, their property unsaleable, and all improvement from the application of capital and machinery impossible—that their readiness for some final settlement of the question has become equal to the impatience felt for it by the consumers of sugar in this country who reflected upon the enormous amount of differential duties which this country paid in order to maintain a high price of one of the necessaries of life—which duties, together with the 20,000,000l. which were paid as compensation to the planters, amounted in a period of eleven years to 42,000,000l.; and no wonder that the public feeling should revolt against an annual payment of 3,200,000l. in the shape of differential duty, in order to place themselves upon the shortest possible allowance of what had now become one of the necessaries of life. My noble and learned Friend has said he hoped not to hear in this debate the cry of a "sugar famine." I shall to a certain extent indulge my noble and learned Friend's expectation, because famine is usually a sudden and unforeseen visitation, against which no human precaution can guard: but in the case of sugar I will prove, that a constant, cruel, and unnecessary dearth has been created by our own legislation. So long as forty years ago, when the population and wealth of this country were not to be compared with those of the present day, the amount 470 of sugar which every individual consumed annually was estimated by some persons at 30 lbs.; but I will take the lowest estimate, and suppose 22 lbs. to be the consumption of each individual; and that this is no exaggerated estimate, even as regards the humblest classes, I can show, by referring to the allowance of sugar for aged paupers, which is 22¾ lbs.; whilst the allowance of sugar for sailors in the navy is 34 lbs. 10 oz. Yet, notwithstanding the advance of the country in population—in wealth—in the mode of living—notwithstanding that the standard of comfort has been raised, the average amount of sugar consumed annually on an average by each person in this country is little more than 16 lbs. And even this does not give an accurate account of the quantity consumed by the poor, and by the labouring classes; because in estimating the average consumption of sugar by each individual, we ought to recollect that the price of the article has had little effect as regards the consumption by the upper and middle classes—that the consumption by the middle classes is about 37 lbs. per head—the consumption by the more affluent is reckoned at 60 lbs. a head: and by deducting these quantities, it will be found that the quantity left to be divided among the poor and labouring classes, which comprise three-fourths of the population, does not reach 8 lbs. per head, or, in other words, 180 per cent below the allowance to paupers and convicts, and 300 per cent lower than the common sailor. In order that we may judge of the effect which differential duties have had on the consumption of sugar, I may state that I have a document before me which states that the consumption of sugar in New South Wales is 104 lbs. per head annually; whilst here at home, if reference were made to the numerous tables published as to the mode in which the weekly wages of the poor man are spent, it will be found that it frequently happens that the labouring man cannot afford to purchase for himself and family more than three or four ounces per week; and I find, from the reports of the Poor Law Commission, that the price of the article is such as frequently excludes it entirely from the poor man's house. I am aware, my Lords, that this may be sneered at as a famine argument, and in our humanity towards the negro race it may be looked upon as a necessary state of things; but, for my part, I look upon it to be disgraceful to the Legislature that has entailed 471 such privations upon the poorer and unprotected classes of the community with respect to an article than which, with the exception of bread, there is none more wholesome, more nutritious, or more necessary. The absurdity of the system is moreover brought out into greater prominence when we consider that our policy with respect to articles similar in their uses has been directly the reverse, and that to that policy we are always appealing in proof that exorbitant duties are as inimical to the interests of the consumer as they are to the revenue; and in order to illustrate this, I will beg your Lordships' attention to the course of legislation recently adopted with regard to coffee, and to the results which followed that legislation. In 1831, the duties were, on colonial coffee 1s.; on East Indian 1s. 6d.; and on foreign 2s. per lb. In the year 1825, the duties were, on colonial 6d.; on East Indian 9d.; and on foreign, 1s. 3d. In 1842, the duties on East Indian and colonial coffee were reduced to 4d., and the duty on foreign was 8d.; and in 1844 the duty on foreign had been still further reduced to 6d. The consumption in the year 1821 was 7,103,000 lbs.; in 1831, it was 22,740,000 lbs.; in 1841, it was 28,421,000 lbs.; and in 1845, it was 34,318,000 lbs.; whilst the revenue had increased from 340,233l. in 1821, to 718,923l. in 1845. Again, with respect to the consumption of tea, the former duty was 100 per cent on the cost of the article; but there has been a great increase in the consumption owing to the opening of the China trade, and the reduction of the duty to 2s. 1d. a pound. In 1821, the consumption of tea was 22,000,000lbs.; in 1831, it was 29,000,000 lbs.; in 1841, it was 36,000,000 lbs.; and in 1845, it was 44,000,000 lbs.; the duty having been reduced from 4s. 9d. and 3s. 9d. to 2s 1d.; whilst the revenue had largely increased from 3,200,000l. in 1821, to 4,832,666l. in 1845. With respect to the consumption of sugar, in 1821 it was 4,373,530 cwts; in 1836 it was 4,364,253 cwts.; in 1841 it was 4,208,324 cwts.; in 1844 it was 4,300,000 cwts.; and in 1845 it was 5,091,304 cwts. The revenue from 1828 to 1845 had varied from 5,500,000l. to 3,860,000l. in the last year; whilst the price of sugar, which was in 1828 1l. 11s. 8d., was in 1845 1l. 12s. 4d.; the lowest price having been, in the year 1831, 1l. 3s. 8d., and the highest reaching to 2l. 8s. 7¾d. in 1840, exclusive of duty. But within the last seventeen years our po- 472 pulation has increased 4,000,000; and the fact of a necessary of life remaining stationary during that period is a proof that the time is arrived when it is right that the duties on that article should be placed on a liberal and permanent basis; and it has been the endeavour of Her Majesty's Government to effect this object with due regard to the interests of the British producer, to the wants of the people, and the exigencies of the revenue, without, as I trust I shall be able to show, the flagrant violation of such morality as we can lay claim to, that my noble and learned Friend has been pleased to assume. I will not, on this occasion, enter into all the classifications of sugars on which the present measure proposes to make reduction: it will be sufficient to say that all sorts are proportionately reduced; and they will be clearly understood when I describe the duties on muscovado, which is the principal article of consumption. We propose to retain the duty of 14s. on British colonial sugars, and to place all foreign sugars on the same footing with a duty of 21s. from July 1846, to July 1847; with a duty of 1l. from July 1847, to 1848; of 18s. 6d. from 1848 to 1849; of 17s. 6d. from 1849 to 1850; of 15s. 6d. from 1850 to 1851; and afterwards to be on the same footing, and to pay the same duty as British colonial sugar. That is the proposal; and however great and important the change may be, I am convinced that its operation will ultimately be beneficial to the West Indian proprietors. I will not advert at any length to the many errors which the planters have committed, in leaving their properties to be mismanaged by agents, often ignorant or dishonest—in their not fairly recognising the emancipation of the negroes, nor reconciling themselves to treat their former slaves as freemen; but they have continued until lately, as they did in the time of slavery, to rely entirely on manual labour for the cultivation of their estates and the production of sugar, instead of putting better implements into the hands of their labourers, and improving their intelligence, and employing an increased capital; forgetting that increased capital and increased intelligence make labour more productive, just as the labour of a man in Lancashire, at 30s. a week, is rendered by the aid of machinery more profitable to his employer than the labour of an Irish peasant at 8d. per day. The owners of property and employers of labour in our Colonies derive, in fact, no advan- 473 tage from the existence of those high differential duties—they do not receive one farthing from thorn, for they go entirely to increase the cost of production, about which the planter is indifferent, knowing that we must have sugar, and can only get it from him; and in turn the same system encourages idleness and carelessness on the part of the labourer. As a proof of the want of advantage to the producer, I may mention that the small importation of 3,500,000 cwt. of sugar in 1840 produced more profit than the importation of 4,500,000 cwt. in 1845. Under such a system improvement has been impossible; and although the planters are alarmed at any change, we must remember, my Lords, that whenever it has been proposed to remove protection from any interest, the change has been invariably accompanied by predictions of ruin, which have afterwards been as invariably falsified. Your Lordships may bear in mind, in 1824, when Mr. Huskisson reduced the duty on foreign iron, what prophecies there were that our home manufacture would be ruined, and that every furnace would be blown out. But what was the consequence? We manufactured 300,000 tons then: we make 1,800,000 tons now. We must remember also, that when this monopoly was given to the Colonies, there was a counter-monopoly secured to this country by which the colonists were obliged to buy from us at a high rate every article they required for their own consumption; but I say, my Lords, do away with all these injurious restrictions by which we have been retarding the progress of our Colonies—do away with that state of doubt and uncertainty which prevents improvement and which paralyses exertion—do away with those differential duties—give every facility consistent with safety for the emigration of labourers—throw both the proprietors and the labourers on their own resources, and make each feel that his success depends upon his own exertions—do all this, and I am confident that the West Indians need have no more apprehension as to the result than the East Indians; and we know that they have no apprehension, for the hon. Baronet the Chairman of the East India Company (Sir J. W. Hogg) has stated that they have none, and that they do not complain of the Bill. That hon. Baronet is reported to have read in another place a Resolution of the Members of the East India and China Association, called together by circular for the spe- 474 cial purpose of considering the measure of the Government, from which it appears that they came to the unanimous determination that though the measure did not afford that amount of protection which the East Indies had a right to claim, yet they did not wish, under all the circumstances, to press for any alteration, or to offer any objection to this measure. Your Lordships must remember also that the protection which remains will not be altogether insignificant. For the first year it will be 50 per cent; for the second, 43 per cent; for the third, 32 per cent; for the fourth, 21 per cent; and for the fifth, 10 per cent. I know that the British producers have complained that the duty of 21s. is too low; and we have been asked why we do not retain on all foreign sugar the duty of 23s. 4d. per cwt., which is now imposed on foreign free-labour sugar? The reason for that, however, is obvious. In order to obtain an extended consumption, it is considered that the maximum price of sugar, duty included, should not exceed 45s. a cwt.; and as the maximum price of foreign sugar lately has been 24s. 3d., if to that were added 23s. 4d. duty, the price would be 47s. 7d., which is about 2s. 7d. above the maximum price which is desirable. But if we add 21s., for duty, to the 24s. 3d., we have the price to the consumer a little above 45s. 3d.; so that if any rise does take place in foreign sugar, the protection will in fact be too high instead of too low. The price of British Colonial sugar has been recently 50s. a cwt., including the duty; but that price is unusually high, and arises from the short crops of last year. In anticipation of this Bill becoming law, in the sales which have taken place during the last week, the two sugars have found their level, and British Colonial and foreign have been selling at the same price to the consumer. I now come to the quantity which we may expect to receive, and the increase of consumption which may be looked for. I of course do not mean to rely with any confidence upon the estimates of a production influenced by so many circumstances as sugar—they can at best be but approximative. The details, however, have been collected with care from quarters which appeared most trustworthy, and they have been framed with a studious desire to avoid exaggeration. We estimate that we shall receive from the 5th of July, 1846, to 5th of July, 1847— 475
Then with respect to what I am sure your Lordships will consider a very important branch of this question—the revenue to be derived. When we consider the necessity, not only of maintaining but of extending our military and other establishments, of placing our national and colonial defences in, I trust a very different condition to what they are at present—when we consider the necessity of increasing also our colonial establishments, the necessity of providing funds for extending education—in short, if we consider the absolute scarcity that exists in every department, and the necessity that there is for more effectually carrying on the public service, you will admit that it is most desirable that we should increase our revenue by every practicable means; and you will consider those means the best which, while they accomplish that object, shall also increase the comforts, without augmenting the burdens, of the people. I trust that such may be the effect of the measure now before your Lordships; and that the revenue will materially exceed that which under the present duties is derived from sugar, which was last year 3,800,000l.; for assuming the estimates which I have just read of the quantities of sugar to be correct, the revenue may be calculated for the present year—
Tons. Cwts. Of colonial sugar 230,000 or 4,600,000 And of foreign sugar 40,000 — 800,000 In the second year, 1847–8:— Of colonial sugar 240,000 — 4,800,000 Of foreign sugar 50,000 — 1,000,000 In the third year, 1848–9:— Of colonial sugar 250,000 — 5,000,000 Of foreign sugar 68,000 — 1,360,000 In the fourth year, 1849–50:— Of colonial sugar 260,000 — 5,200,000 Of foreign sugar 80,000 — 1,600,000 In the fifth year, 1850–51:— Of colonial sugar 270,000 — 5,400,000 Of foreign sugar 95,000 — 1,900,000
And the possible estimate after 1851, when the duties would be equalized, may be—
£ £ From July, 1846 Colonial 3,220,000 4,060,000 To July, 1847 Foreign 840,000 To July, 1847 Colonial 3,360,000 4,460,000 To July, 1848 Foreign 1,100,000 To July, 1848 Colonial 3,500,000 4,758,000 To July, 1849 Foreign 1,258,000 To July, 1849 Colonial 3,640,000 5,000,000 To July, 1850 Foreign 1,360,000 To July, 1850 Colonial 3,780,000 5,252,500 To July, 1851 Foreign 1,472,000
476 I have now endeavoured to show briefly what have been the inconsistency and the impolicy of the system which we have so long pursued, but which we are, I trust, about to abandon. I have attempted to show in what manner the Government has endeavoured to reconcile the interests of the producers and the consumers, and to point out the grounds on which a certain and no inconsiderable increase of revenue may be expected. I am afraid I may have done this inadequately. My object has been for the present to confine the remarks which it was my duty to make within the briefest possible compass, in order not to exhaust your Lordships' patience with unnecessary details; and I was the more desirous to be brief upon these points, because I fear I must, with your Lordships' permission, still claim your attention for a short time longer, whilst I refer to another branch of the subject which has occupied a great deal of public attention, and with respect to which I feel the deepest anxiety, though at the same time the greatest confidence, and that is, whether, with respect to the Slave Trade, the Government has been warranted in proposing, and your Lordships will be justified in assenting to this measure. First, I must beg leave to say that I yield not to my noble and learned Friend, or to any man living, in abhorrence and detestation of that infamous traffic, and that there is no sacrifice or risk I would not incur to put a stop to it; and if I thought we could check that system by persevering in the course we have hitherto pursued, or that it could be accomplished by continuing our differential duties, I would be no party to introduce the measure now before you. I should consider no risk, no sacrifice too great for such an object; but at the same time I should require to know that we were certain to accomplish our end; that the results were equal to the sacrifice; that, while we diminished the receipts of our Exchequer, we really did put an end to the traffic in human beings; that when we imposed high prohibitory duties, there was at the same time no question of colonial protection mixed up with them; and that when we inflicted severe privations on our people, we did not expose ourselves to the charge of hypocrisy. Can any one say that these conditions have been realized? Can we, calmly and dispassionately reviewing the past, say that we have succeeded in these objects, notwithstanding all the risks we have run, the 477 sacrifices we have incurred, and the international dangers we have exposed ourselves to? Why, it is notorious that during the last thirty years we have, with unabated courage and energy, been struggling for the abolition of the Slave Trade; and we have succeeded in nothing but in rendering it a smuggling trade. Your Lordships must, I am sure, still bear in remembrance that most eloquent description which my noble and learned Friend gave a few nights ago of the futile efforts which Napoleon, the greatest power of modern times, vainly made, with all the prodigious means at his command, to put down smuggling; but as Napoleon failed with respect to our commerce, so have we failed with respect to the Slave Trade. We have made treaties with every maritime Power in the world, not one of whom—and I say it advisedly—not one of whom believed in the sincerity of our motives, not one of whom entered willingly into engagements with us—not one of whom has entered into cordial co-operation with us. We have spared neither expense nor trouble; all our naval force, all our diplomatic skill, have been brought to bear upon the subject—we have endangered our commerce, we have injured our revenue, we have imposed privations on our own people, we have quarrelled with our best allies, who were too weak to resist us, while we have succumbed to others more powerful—against two we have passed hostile enactments, and against a third we have been driven into a discreditable interpretation of treaties; and we have not only not checked, but we have greatly increased, the numbers of those miserable beings who are torn from their families and their country—we have not stopped the demand, and we cannot stop the supply; but we have added infinitely to the horrors of the middle passage; and when we find from the reports of our Commissioners that seventy-five vessels were seized last year, and that if the slave-trader runs one cargo in five he incurs no loss, it is not too much to affirm that, in order to supply the places of the negroes dying at sea, calculated at 25 per cent, or captured by our cruizers, or thrown overboard to avoid them, double the number are kidnapped and torn from their homes now as when the Slave Trade was perfectly free, and the brutal dealers in human flesh and blood were accustomed to treat their victims with greater humanity. Now, far be it from me to regret that we 478 have pursued this system; but what I say is, that, acknowledging as we must its want of success, do not let us obstinately adhere to that alone; do not let us refuse to adopt other measures, however much we may have been committed against them, when their necessity was less apparent than it is at present; do not let us refuse to deal with this worst of all contrabands by the method by which alone any contraband trade can be successfully opposed—that of rendering it unprofitable. Now, on this ground of humanity, I do believe that this Bill ought to pass; and I fearlessly assert my belief in this, though I know I shall expose myself to be classed amongst wild and visionary theorists by my noble and learned Friend opposite. The measure, in the first place, abolishes protection; and if it be true, as we assert, that protection is injurious to agriculture, and that under that system agriculture cannot flourish and improve—if it be true with respect to agriculture, as to every other branch of industry, that competition will lead to increased activity and improvement, then I say that the same principles and the same arguments apply with equal force to the Colonies, and that, moreover, they will have the greater and more important result of ultimately putting an end to that traffic against which all are united in one common feeling of abhorrence and disgust. Now, my Lords, I am not putting forth any fanciful theory; I am not expressing opinions unsupported by practical men; I am not suggesting a problem that has yet to be solved; but I am affirming that upon which practical men are already acting—which capitalists in this country are prepared to go to the West Indies to put into practice—and with regard to which they feel the utmost confidence of success, based upon minute and accurate calculations of the relative cost of slave-grown and free-grown sugar, and on the fact that free-labour sugar already competes on equal terms with slave-labour sugar in the neutral markets of the world. In proof of this I will read one or two short extracts from the opinions of practical men. The first is from a speech delivered by Mr. Burnett, a most respectable man, possessed of a large amount of property in Trinidad, at a great agricultural meeting held in that island. He said—
Tons. cwts. Colonial 275,000 or 7,600,000 at 14s. 5,320,000l. Foreign 105,000The removal of these restrictions (those upon freedom of trade and upon obtaining labour) once effected, I shall hail with pleasure the day when 479 every monopoly is done away with; and if we are honestly and fairly allowed to trade with all the world without restriction, we fear no competition from any quarter in the colonial market of the mother country; and when that is effected the agriculture of Trinidad will successfully compete with that of every country depending upon slave lahour. I firmly believe that the most advantageous mode of proceeding would be to tear up all our treaties for the suppression of the Slave Trade, withdraw our cruisers from the coast of Africa, and allow all who pleased to procure labourers to work in Cuba, the Brazils, and elsewhere, under the influence of the whip, and in the British Colonies from the higher motives of personal benefit.I will also quote a short extract from the work on Porto Rico by General Flinter—a gentleman with whom I was personally intimate, and upon whose veracity the most entire reliance can be placed:—For about one shilling sterling of daily wages, a free labourer will work in the field from sunrise to sunset in Puerto Rico, and, on a moderate calculation, will perform more work during that time than two slaves. One of the principal advantages which results to the planter from free labour is, that he sinks no capital, as he must do if he purchases slaves; nor does he incur the loss of it in case his labourers should die, or sustain the expense of curing them during sickness, or of maintaining them in the decrepitude of old age, without taking into account the moral infamy and degradation inseparable from forced labour, where the wretched slave is sold like a piece of merchandise, and whipped like a beast of burden. I have only deemed it necessary to observe in this the exact quantum of the staple production of the tropics which has been the result of free labour in one year in Puerto Rico, for it established the fact beyond the possibility of contradiction, that every description of West India produce can be raised by free labour in the Colonies, and that the white and free-coloured population may, by proper discipline and regulation, be brought to work as day labourers. I have tried the experiment on a coffee estate of my own. I have also seen it repeatedly tried on indigo plantations, the most unhealthy as well as laborious class of tropical agriculture, and I have always found that the cultivation both of coffee and indigo was cheaper by employing free labourers than by slaves. I believe there is not a single estate on the island which cultivates sugar only by slaves that can pay one shilling of interest for the capital; the proof of this is, that all the large sugar establishments on the south coast which are worked exclusively by slaves are involved in debts and difficulties; while those on the north coast, where there is a mixture of free labour, unless in particular cases where there has been great mismanagement, are free from debt. It is evident that the slave costs more as a labourer, and works less than the free labourer.I could multiply this evidence to any extent; but I think I have said enough to prove that the assertion made by the advocates of abolition previous to the emancipation of the West Indian negroes, was correct, that the work of free men is more pro- 480 fitable than that of slaves, and that they can compete with and drive slave labour out of the market. But that must not be done by a system of protection injurious to the mother country—it must not be done by proprietors living in ease, or rather in poverty and anxiety at home; but it must be done by an improved system of agriculture, and by the application of skill, machinery, and capital, of which I know a large amount is prepared to be sent from this country as soon as this question is finally settled, and capitalists know what they really have to deal with; and then I confidently believe that our Colonies will be able to defy the slave-trader by underselling the slaveowners, and to bring about that state of things which all the wealth, the skill, and the energy of the people of England has hitherto been unable to accomplish. But I will go further, and I will say that the present moment is peculiarly favourable for such an experiment—the condition of the two great slavetrading countries will be of the most material assistance to us. The revolt of the slaves two years ago in Cuba has left the greatest feeling of dread and alarm in the minds of the inhabitants; and I am convinced, though their motives are different from ours, yet that the abhorrence of the Slave Trade entertained by the proprietors is hardly inferior to our own. As a proof of this, I will read to your Lordships a memorial from the principal proprietors of Cuba to the Spanish Government. They say—Among us there is already a sufficient number of labourers to cultivate our fields; we do not need, for our rural prosperity, fresh immigrations of Africans, who may compromise us so much; and for the future, we do not see why it should not be as it is in the French Colonies and in the Southern States of the American Union, where the number of slaves has considerably increased by natural reproduction, substituting a population more obedient, more faithful, and more civilized, for that which now inspires us with such serious fears. Moreover, considerable improvements have recently been made in the production of sugar, which spare a great number of hands; but these improvements, besides being a means of economy, require the intelligence of white workmen to make use of them, rather than the corporal strength of the negro, enabling us very well to reserve the latter for field labour, where only it is required. And even supposing, Most Excellent Sir, that our agriculture should decay, the inhabitants of the island of Cuba would resign themselves to suffer this injury in order to preserve social life—their fortunes and existence as a people—at this day seriously threatened.Then as to Brazil, you must remember that the whites constitute the smallest proportion 481 of the population—not above one-fifth of the population are whites, and the prudent among them are equally alarmed with the people of Cuba. They already see impending over their heads the fate of St. Domingo, and they are greatly alarmed at the annual increase of the slave population. When, then, these are the feelings of the people of Cuba and Brazil—when they say that they have already introduced great improvements into agriculture in order to abolish the Slave Trade, and that they rely upon opportunities of trading with this country for carrying out still further improvements—and when they see from our example what can be done by free labour, can we suppose that they will not imitate that example, when, at the same time, it will be their salvation from the most horrible social catastrophe? But, it may be said, and it was said by my noble and learned Friend, that even supposing all was done, still our demand for slave-labour sugar must in the meantime stimulate the Slave Trade. Now I deny it—and I deny it not on the strength of any "opinion," though, as an opinion, I might quote the unanimous resolution of the Liverpool Anti-Slavery Society; but I deny it with reference to what are of much more importance—with reference to facts. It is a fact that a most remarkable increase in the consumption of sugar has taken place in Europe during the last six or seven years, more particularly within the last five or six years. That great increase has taken place principally in Russia, all along the shores of the Mediterranean, in the States of the Zollverein, and, still more than all, in the United States of America. I am not prepared with the annual increase in all these cases, but I have the details as far as regards the States of the Zollverein. In 1838 there were 40,000 tons of refined sugar imported into the States of the Zollverein; in 1840 the amount was 50,000 tons; and in 1844 it had increased to 64,000 tons. Then, with respect to the United States, I have no accounts on which I can rely with respect to the importation from the Brazils, which I know is very large; but I have the official account of the importation into the United States from Cuba, and I find that from Cuba alone, in 1840, were imported 48,000,000 lbs. of brown sugar, and 15,000 gallons of molasses. In 1844 these importations had increased to 114,000,000 lbs. of sugar, and 194,000,000 gallons of molasses. And in a commercial 482 circular, which I have received, I see it stated that there has been as much imported in the six months of this year as in the whole of the preceding year. Now with this very remarkable increase in the consumption of sugar, what has been the increase in the Slave Trade? I find that the number of slaves landed in the Spanish territory, i. e. in the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico, was, in 1839, 11,138; in 1840, 8,238; in 1841, 10,551; in 1842, 3,630; in 1843, 5,627. In 1844, the year in which General O'Donnell shared in and encouraged the Slave Trade, the number increased to 10,000; and in 1845 the number landed was 1,300. Then I find the number landed in the Brazilian territory was as follows: In 1839, 42,182; in 1840, 20,796; in 1841, 13,804; in 1842, 17,435; in 1843, 19,095; in 1844, 18,700; in 1845, 16,000. I say that is a convincing proof that that increased demand has been met by greater economy of labour and by greater skill in the means of producing; and I say then it is no idle vision to look to our increased demand not increasing the Slave Trade, but to hope that the effect of our example, coupled with the political state of things now existing in Cuba and Brazil, may ultimately tend to put an end to the Slave Trade, and secure, as a necessary consequence, the amelioration of the condition of the slave. With such a state of things as this, when there can be no doubt of the purity of our motives, we shall be better able to meet the humiliating charge brought against us by foreign nations that the precepts we enforce are grossly at variance with the practice we adopt. Why, this article of sugar is the single exception to our general rule of practice. Remember, that for our necessaries and luxuries of life, for the employment of our people, for our revenue, for our very position in the world as a nation, we are indebted to the production of slave labour; and the article of sugar is the single exception to our practice, Before your Lordships decide upon this measure, I do hope that you will bear in mind what our practice really is, as exhited in our commercial transactions with all the slave-dealing countries in the world and remember that there is no slaveholding, which is not at the same time a slave-dealing, country. It is quite true that there is no foreign Slave Trade existing in the United States; but is this a measure of prevention?—by this is it 483 really intended to prohibit traffic in human beings? It is no such thing, my Lords. It is a measure of protection—it is a measure to prevent foreign competition in the home market. In the United States the Slave Trade exists in its most hideous form. The slave there is not the comparatively senseless barbarian that is imported from Africa—he is comparatively civilized—he is bred and born on the soil—he has friends, associates, relatives—his intellects are sharpened that his value may be enhanced, and he is permitted to contract ties, to him not the less dear because they are contracted for the profit and may be sacrificed to the interests of his owner. The slave there is not counted as a human being, but as a beast of the field; and as a beast he is put up to auction because he is bred for sale, and his whole life is passed in the anticipation and in the foreknowledge that he is to be sold. I say then, my Lords, that the Slave Trade carried on in the United States, looking at it in all the variety of the circumstances by which it is characterized, is more extensive, more brutal, more deliberate, and more unpardonably heinous than that carried on in Brazil and Cuba. Yet how do we deal with that slavedealing country? Why, I find that our imports of cotton wool have increased from 284,000,000 lbs. in 1835, to 600,000,000 lbs. in 1845; whilst our import of tobacco has increased from 25,000,000 lbs. in 1835, to 32,000,000 lbs. in 1845. The importation of rice has also increased, as also has that of copper ore from Cuba. And, my Lords, I will make no apology for referring to these figures, because a great national principle is involved in this question. We lay claim to greater virtue and morality than other nations—we are constantly thanking God that we are not as other men are; and I really wish your Lordships to understand what those claims to superior virtue are, and in what manner those principles so proclaimed are in reality acted upon; not in bygone times, but constantly, systematically, down to the latest period. The principle is, that we shall do nothing to extend slavery; but if you reject this Bill, you will pass the bitterest satire on some of your most recent acts of legislation, and will make yourselves ridiculous in the face of the world. It will be said, perhaps, that sugar is now the question, and not cotton. But we are to do nothing to extend the Slave Trade in general, and not the Slave Trade in sugar 484 only. With respect to cotton, it is perfectly true that its introduction is not now for the first time in question; but have we ever dealt with cotton as we have with sugar? Have we ever imposed high differential duties to keep out the cotton of the United States, and to encourage its growth in the East Indies, where it might be grown with equal advantage? We have done no such thing; we have always laid a low duty upon it in order to increase the quantity that we may receive, and only two years ago we made a sacrifice of annual revenue to the amount of 800,000l., in order to admit that selfsame polluted cotton duty free; and that was done with the unanimous approbation of the whole country. Then with regard to tobacco; have we put a differential duty upon tobacco? Have we endeavoured to admit tobacco from the East Indies, from Syria, from Germany, or from numerous other quarters whence we could get it as cheap and as good as the tobacco of the United States? No such thing; but we have actually prohibited its growth at home; we do not allow a single field to be cultivated with it, in order that we may impose a duty of 1,200 per cent upon the slave-grown tobacco of the United States. It is the same with respect to tar, to rice, to turpentine, to staves, and to other things the produce of the slave labour of the United States. And then with respect to maize—the Indian corn which we this year resolved to admit duty free, and which we hope that the Irish people may be prevailed upon to adopt in preference to the lower kind of food upon which they have hitherto been accustomed to depend; I have taken some pains to inquire whence we shall derive that maize, and I find that the States from which the most of it will come are slaveholding and slavedealing States; and yet I am sure no objection was made to the introduction of that measure. My noble and learned Friend the other evening took a distinction between sugar and other produce of slave labour, on account of its cruel and laborious cultivation. But my noble and learned Friend will find that there are many other articles the cultivation of which is quite as cruel and laborious. Tobacco is not much less laborious—its cultivation consists of hoeing and planting. Arrow-root is quite as laborious as sugar; indigo is more so; and rice is more destructive to health. But my noble and learned Friend appeared to forget that the cultivation of sugar is just 485 the same in free-labour countries as in slave-labour countries—only in one it is enforced by coercion, and in the other it is for wages; but does my noble and learned Friend suppose that slaves work voluntarily in the cotton and coffee and rice grounds—that there is not there just the same force employed, just the same fears excited, just the same cruelty used, as in the cane fields; so that, if my noble and learned Friend's argument is worth anything, it would go to prohibit all sugar, on account of the way in which it is produced, and all slave-labour produce, on acconnt of the way in which it is enforced. A few days ago I saw a highly respectable gentleman, the possessor of an extensive plantation in the West Indies, and I spoke to him upon this subject. He said that the work was laborious, but that it was not more so than many descriptions of field work in this country—it was certainly not more so than hedging and ditching. He added that the people in St. Vincent's worked by the task, and that the task was a day's work. The good labourer, who was anxious to accumulate money, easily finished his task by twelve o'clock in the day; and it was their constant practice to do two days' work in one. I think, therefore, there is nothing very formidable in the labour. I come now to the productions of Cuba and Brazil. The first I will mention is that which is by far the most cruel and the most severe—the production of diamonds by slaves in Brazil. The slaves are chained together for fear of escape; they are subjected to every species of torture in order to ascertain that they conceal nothing; and yet I have never heard any proposition to exclude diamonds from this country; but, my Lords, you must do this if you intend to act upon a system. My noble and learned Friend said he had never heard of the importation of copper ore. The subject was certainly debated in the House of Commons: it was found that we wanted that copper ore; it was discovered that we did not produce it in sufficient quantity ourselves—native industry made no objection, and it was admitted without the smallest difficulty as to its origin. Its importation was permitted three years ago, since which period we have received between 50,000 and 60,000 cwts., without the slightest misgiving. Now I come to coffee, the produce of these slavedealing countries; and in nothing is our inconsistency more signally marked than with respect to coffee. We take 30,000,000 486 lbs. of coffee, produced by slaves, without the smallest reluctance; yet we will not consent to receive one ounce of sugar produced by the same slaves, obtained in the same way, from the same countries. And with reference to this very coffee, we have gone on gradually reducing the duty. Two years ago we reduced it 25 per cent, since which there has been a gradual increase in the consumption. I think we did very right. I know it has produced a most beneficial effect. It has enabled the people to obtain a greater quantity of a wholesome beverage at a reduced cost, and has contributed to their morals and their comforts; but I ask, upon what grounds of common sense, having reduced the duty on coffee in 1844, with so much advantage, can we refuse the application of a similar policy to sugar in 1846? Are we not unanswerably charged with hypocrisy, if, when we come to the article of sugar, it is found that in this polluted commodity we are about the greatest dealers in the world? Our exports to Cuba amount to one million sterling, and to Brazil two millions and a half. We send our manufactures there in payment to the slavedealers and slaveowners for their produce; we purchase the slave-labour sugar so manufactured and obtained. In fact, it constitutes the principal medium of exchange with which we go into the markets of Europe to buy our flax, hemp, and tallow. In this carrying trade between the slavetrading countries and Europe, we annually employ 100,000 tons of British shipping. There are annually in our warehouses from 800,000 to 100,000 cwts. of slave-labour sugar; in bond we permit its manufacture; and this slave-grown sugar, so refined in this country, is exported to our own Colonies. Our Australian and American Colonies are mainly dependent upon slave-grown sugar which we thus buy, sell, exchange, and manufacture, as best suits our own interest; and then lay claim to great virtue and morality because we restrict a particular portion of Her Majesty's subjects residing in England and Ireland from eating it. And, my Lords, we do not even prohibit this polluted article from our Statute-book, for it is admissible, and it is admitted — whenever the price of colonial sugar has risen sufficiently—in 1840 we admitted 2,000 cwts.; so that at all times we may wipe away the pollution by payment of a differential duty; and, like the plenary indulgences of Rome, our own law settles the sum of money we shall pay for 487 our sins. We do more: we take it from a slave-trading country upon the most favourable terms — Louisiana; because our treaties compel us to do so. We could, however, put an end to those treaties; but we abstain from that course because it would interfere with our commercial relations. We admit the American construction of their Treaty with us; but we put a discreditable interpretation upon our Treaty with Spain; because her trading relations with us are of less importance; while with regard both to Spain and Brazil, our laws, levelled as they directly are at their system and institutions, make it positively a point of national honour with those countries not to consent to the reform we require; just as we should resist any attempt to introduce reforms into our factories and mines which were made the condition by foreign Powers of their taking our manufactures. I think I have shown that our virtue and our morality in restricting the use of a particular article, because it comes from Cuba and Brazil, is inconsistent with our practice, and that this is the only exception to our general rule. Say what you will, my Lords, proclaim this virtue and morality wherever you will, I defy you, in the face of the facts I have stated, to make any one individual of ordinary comprehension to believe that protection is not at the bottom of all this clamour about slave-grown sugar. The cry never would have been raised if we had not ourselves been producers of the article; and, like every other protected interest, afraid of competition. We make no exception either when we take sugar the produce of free labour, because it already meets and competes with slave-grown sugar in neutral markets; and whatever portion of it we withdraw from those markets must have its place supplied by an equal amount of slave-grown sugar. I need only quote a passage from the speech of the right hon. Baronet late at the head of Her Majesty's Government, to prove this, and to convince you of the total failure of his plan last year, from which he anticipated a large amount of free-labour sugar, and a large revenue. The right hon. Gentleman says—The amount of free-labour sugar brought into competition with British colonial sugar has not at all equalled my expectations. I calculated the amount of free-labour sugar, if I recollect rightly, at 250,000 tons; but the amount actually brought in for home consumption has fallen far short of that. I believe the defalcation may be accounted for chiefly by the failure of the crop in Cuba, and 488 by the consequent increased price of sugar on the continent of Europe, and the diversion thither of supplies which would have been brought to this country from other parts of the world in which there is free labour. I believe it can be shown, when this subject is further discussed, that this will account in a great measure for the diminished supply.This restricts still further the circle of our virtue and morality, because every hundred-weight of free-labour sugar we consume, must be replaced by an equal amount of slave-labour sugar. It is, then, upon this remaining fraction of the exception—it is upon this infinitesimally small and narrow edge of a principle, that all our virtue and morality now stand. If this Bill proposes no more than to do away with this exception, it will be a public benefit, because the exception is contrary to our own rule, and unjust in our relations with foreign States, and because it will increase our revenue, and tend to give to the people a more plentiful supply of an article which has now become one of the first necessaries of life. The noble Lord concluded by saying, that for these reasons he should ask their Lordships to consent to the first reading of the Bill.
Though I am sure, my Lords, it is unnecessary that I should say to the noble Earl who has just sat down that any assertion from his own knowledge which falls from him requires no corroboration or confirmation from me, at the same time I hold it to be my duty to commence the observations which I have to offer to your Lordships by confirming, to the fullest extent, the statement with which the noble Lord commenced his observations; that however unusual may have been the course which he has adopted in introducing a discussion of the question on the first reading of the Bill, there is nothing in that course with which on this side of the House we have the smallest reason to complain; on the contrary, the course was adopted with the consent of your Lordships; and I am bound also to say, in some degree for the purpose of meeting the convenience of my noble Friends on this side of the House. Indeed, whatever course my noble Friends might have pursued, entertaining the views I do on this question, I should have felt it my duty to have availed myself of this earliest opportunity which the rules of your Lordships' House present of entering my protest against this extraordinary change in our legislation, and of stating the deep and insuperable objections which I enter- 489 tain—first to the details, next to the principles upon which the Bill is founded; and, above all, to the circumstances under which, and to the period of the Session at which, it has been thought right by Her Majesty's Ministers to introduce this Bill. I concur also with my noble Friend who has just sat down, that it is desirable for the interests of those concerned in the production and trade of sugar, that the trade should be placed on a definite and permanent footing; and if I were a Member of the other House of Parliament, to which such questions properly belong, I certainly should not regard with any feeling of jealousy the abstraction of a certain portion of the national income from the annual control of the House of Commons, as proposed by the Bill, because I think that at the present time, and under present circumstances, the fear of pecuniary responsibility on the part of any Minister of the Crown is visionary; that, in point of fact, so long as you have the Annual Mutiny Act, the Annual Appropriation Act—as long as you have all the Estimates separately voted in Committee of Supply; and while it is impossible to issue from the Exchequer, without the direct consent of Parliament, any portion of the public revenue, it would be absurd to suppose that the exemption of this portion of the revenue from an annual vote, would be attended with danger—it becomes, in fact, a matter of insignificance what is the continuity or permanence of the streams in which the national revenue pours into the Exchequer. Therefore, as to constitutional jealousy, I feel little or no objection to this measure; and I certainly admit that for the purpose of trade it is desirable, and most important, that persons should not be left to form speculations, which might extend over a considerable period of time, with the uncertainty of the course which from year to year, or from six months to six months, it might be the pleasure of the House of Commons to take with regard to the productions of industry to be introduced into this country. But having stated so much, my Lords, there ends my concurrence with the noble Earl. I do not think there is a single principle in his speech, I do not think there is a single doctrine he has laid down, independently of those two grounds, that is not open to great controversy, and to serious objections. We are told, my Lords, it is necessary to bring forward this measure, because it is commanded by principle. I 490 think my noble Friend went so far as to call on us to pass this measure for the purpose of vindicating our consistency. A more extraordinary proposition than this I have never heard. These are days of rapid changes of opinion; this House of Commons deserves, if ever a House of Commons deserved it, to go down to posterity as the "Rapid Conversions Parliament." But to appeal to principles of consistency for the purpose of now, in the year 1846, with a Parliament elected in 1841, declaring that for the future you will place no distinction between foreign and colonial produce—between the produce of your own Colonies raised by free labour, and the produce of foreign countries raised by slave labour; to make such an appeal as this on the principle of consistency, really appears to me a proposition requiring some powers of face in the noble Earl gravely to lay before your Lordships. I say it is important that this question should be placed on a permanent foundation; but the more important it is that the system should be permanently established, the greater is the necessity that it should be settled in such a manner as to leave no doubt that it has received the calm, deliberate, and well-considered determination and judgment of both Houses of Parliament; and that no extraneous and fortuitous circumstances have influenced the introduction of the measure. But is there nothing fortuitous in the arrangement and state of parties, and in the period of the Session, that have influenced the noble Lord at the head of the Government in proposing this measure? My Lords, I say that you have no reason to suppose that this measure is the issue of such calm and deliberate consideration. It was necessary to the due deliberation of this measure, that due notice of the change should have been given to all concerned in the production of and the trade in sugar. To establish a permanent system, you ought to have given the country time to pronounce its opinion upon the change. Will you venture to say that this measure has been brought forward with such full consideration; that due warning has been given of the change; that it has been fully discussed; and that the country has pronounced its decision upon it? Will you venture to say that the position of parties has had no influence on the possible success of this measure, and that the period of the Session, and the state of this House at this moment I am addressing your 491 Lordships, have no effect on what the decision of Parliament will be? Allow me to remind your Lordships that the expectations you held out to your countrymen in 1841 were, that protection would be maintained. The noble Lords opposite introduced commercial measures far more protective than the present one; measures recognising protection as a principle, and, above all, recognising the distinction between slave and free-labour produce, which has this evening been treated so contumeliously, and so sneered at by the noble Earl. But upon those measures, in 1841, that Government was thrown out of office; upon that question they were defeated in the House of Commons; upon that question they went to the country; and upon that question the new Parliament declared in favour of the policy of the old one: that very House of Commons pronounced in favour of the principle of protection, and against the encouragement of the Slave Trade; pronounced in favour of protection to colonial industry, and the introduction of free-grown sugar. Is that all? In 1844, the right hon. Baronet lately at the head of the Government introduced a measure admitting free-grown sugar into this country, in which he drew a broad distinction between that and slave sugar. It was emphatically stated by the Government of 1844, that that was the principle upon which it intended to proceed. They gave notice to the East Indies, to the West Indies, to foreign countries employing free labour, that this was the principle upon which they might rely, that their produce would be admitted into British markets, and upon this they might safely invest their capital, as upon the faith of an Act of the British Parliament. But is that all, my Lords? In the commencement of the present Session of Parliament, the then Prime Minister declared his intention of adhering to the principle of excluding slave-grown sugar. He declared an intention of slightly modifying the differential duties on foreign, and colonial sugar; but he emphatically stated that he would abide by the principle of his measure of 1844. The period of the expiration of the Sugar Duties approached, and it was necessary to ask for a temporary or continuing Bill, because it was impossible then to raise the question of the whole duties. Was any intimation held out then that an entire change of system was meditated?—that there was no longer to be that abhorrence of slavery which the noble 492 Lord opposite, in common with the slave-dealers of Cuba, feels so strongly—that there was to be no distinction any longer drawn between free and slave-grown sugar? Not so; but at the close of the month of June, a continuance of the present duties was asked for a single month. A change of Government took place—and another continuance for a period of one month from the 5th of August to the 5th of September; and it was not until after the period of the annual expiration of the Sugar Duties—it was not until after the period at which, according to the ordinary course of things, those duties would have been renewed, that for the first time the people of England, for the first time the planters in the West Indies, for the first time your countrymen in the East Indies, and for the first time your new free-trade customers throughout the world, are told that the sugars which they had been authorized and encouraged to produce and import under the sanction of an Act of Parliament, declared to be a permanent system, were to be subjected to competition, against which this very same Parliament had actually guaranteed them. At the close of July, after a change of Administration, all political parties being in confusion, a new Government succeeds, and, without a moment's hesitation, without a moment's delay, presses forward a Bill which is now, in the course of a fortnight, at the close of July and the commencement of August, passed through the House of Commons and submitted to your Lordships—I will not use the mockery of saying, for the deliberation, but—for the decision of your Lordships' House. But I submit to your decision whether you will suddenly, without warning, for the purpose of introducing your new permanent system, abolish altogether the system which two years ago, aye, within two months, you declared your determination and intention to make permanent. Can such a system, so introduced—so carried, if it be carried—supported under such circumstances, and supported, moreover, in the other House of Parliament by the most extraordinary arguments that ever were used—supported by a large portion of the preceding Government, not upon the ground that it was the plan which they would have adopted, but that it was a total alteration of that plan—but because it was the plan proposed by the Government, therefore no risk was to be run—therefore all opinions were to be sacrificed—therefore those who 493 maintained their own opinions upon the former plan—upon the impolicy, upon the injustice, upon the inhumanity of this plan, were to sacrifice those opinions, and against their own conviction, and against their own judgment, were to take an active part in undoing their own work, and introducing a total change in the policy affecting these great interests. Do you believe that this system, so introduced, can be permanent? Does it carry with it any of those marks of cool deliberation and judgment which entitle it to be considered permanent? Has it the support of the country? Has it, or ought it to have, the deliberate judgment of Parliament in favour of this sudden and rapid change? Then I am told, forsooth, that these are the principles of free trade; that free trade is now all in all; we must have cheap sugar; sugar is a necessary of life; the consumption of sugar in this country is not as large as it might be. Throw all other considerations to the winds—cheap sugar you must have—free trade demands it—free trade is cried for—free trade is irrevocable—I beg the noble Lord's pardon, I dissent from that proposition; but being irrevocable, upon the principle of consistency, cheap sugar you must have—slavery and the Slave Trade being as nothing in the balance. In the first place, my Lords, I am not prepared, for the sake of the mere name of free-trade, to give my assent at once to any proposition the Government may make, because it comes under that appellation. But my noble Friend will forgive me for saying that any measure less like one of free trade than that under our consideration, it has never been my fortune to see. Although we have been told that by this measure we shall be giving the people a large and cheap supply of sugar—that we shall be giving a great impulse to consumption, and that we shall, at the same time, be stimulating the efforts of our colonial and foreign free-labour producers, so as to enable them to compete successfully with those countries that depend upon slave labour alone for the production of the article, my noble Friend, in his speech to-night, dwelt upon the exorbitant import duties which had existed, and the evils consequent upon them. Unfortunately, however, for his own arguments, he will find that the duties upon the lower description of articles—upon those articles which enter most largely into the consumption of the poorer classes, remain as high as those duties that are imposed upon 494 the superior class of articles. The amount of the duty is considerably higher than 100 per cent on the inferior article of tea. The inferior description of tea is charged with a duty which, if taken as an ad valorem duty, would amount to at least 100 per cent upon the prime cost of the article—indeed, I believe it would reach the enormous amount of 200 per cent. The whole effect of the change, I believe, is, that the duty charged upon tea is as high as before, but that in altering the duty from an ad valorem to a fixed duty, you relieved the higher class of consumers, while you subjected the inferior qualities, consumed by the poorer classes, to a duty which was higher than that exacted under the former system. I am not now going to argue in favour of high import duties generally, for I admit that so far as you can reduce the import duties, with due regard to the revenue of the country, the more you will increase the consumption of the articles affected by such reduction. My noble Friend proposes this as a free-trade measure: he will forgive me for reminding him that it was also said that the duties upon corn were exorbitant—that they were unreasonable, and could not be endured. And what were these duties? They amounted on an average, to something less than 25 per cent; and when the free-trade measure of my noble Friend opposite comes into full operation, the duty upon sugar, this necessary of life, this article which the principles of free trade call on you to provide as cheaply as possible for the people, will amount to 14s. the cwt. upon an article which in our colonial market would be worth 30s., being a duty of 50 per cent ad valorem, while upon the foreign article the duty amounted to 75 per cent ad valorem. The Government, however, now say that we must reduce the price of sugar upon what are called free-trade principles, as it is highly important to give cheap sugar to the people. Now, my Lords, if you do intend to act upon free-trade principles, you will be required to reduce the duty upon free-trade sugar. I do not recommend you you to do so; but in point of consistency your free-trade advocates will call upon you to do so. ["No, no!" from the Ministerial Bench.] "No," do you say? Why, I ask you, is it free trade to strike off duties from one description of article, because it amounted to 15 and 20 per cent, and at the same time to leave a duty upon another description of article—and 495 that a necessary of life — that is 50 or 75 per cent? These are not the arguments we heard a month ago. By acting rigidly on the principle, you will introduce inextricable confusion into your finances, and irretrievable distress in the country; but all the principles of free trade revolt at the idea of imposing upon an article which is a necessary of life a duty of from 50 to 75 per cent. But it is said that this is a monopoly. Corn was a monopoly, and sugar is a monopoly; and, therefore, you are resolved not to allow your Colonies any longer to possess such a monopoly: you will subject them to competition, and stimulate their energies, and by doing so enable them to compete with the produce of slave labour; you will do away with that protection and those restrictions which, in point of fact, were guaranteed when the measure of emancipation passed. You argue as if under the system of protection there were not between landowners the keenest competition, and the greatest anxiety to get the best prices. But what is this monopoly? If it is a monopoly, it is a monopoly in which nineteen West Indian Colonies compete with each other, and every producer with his fellow-producer—in which the Mauritius competes with the East and West Indies, the East Indies with the West Indies and the Mauritius—in which every country which grows by free labour competes with all the rest. Two countries alone are excluded from this competition, and they are excluded because they make use of a machinery which gives them an undue advantage in production, and the use of which is stigmatized by every free nation in the world as an abuse, a pollution, and a crime. And it is that free competition with all the rest of the world which you are pleased to designate the sugar monopoly. These two nations are alone excepted. Talk to me of the influence of competition! You may as well talk of cutting off a man's leg, and asking him to run a race with one who is strong and perfect in all his proportions. You may as well say that the exertion he must make will stimulate his energies, and so place him upon an equal footing with his adversary; and that free competition will enable him to run as fast with one log as the other with two. In the present condition of the West Indies and of the East Indies, competition with slave-grown sugar is a competition which cannot be carried on upon equal terms. I don't contend that in a fully peopled country, where the 496 demand for employment is equal to the demand for labour, the willing energetic action of free labour is not infinitely more valuable and cheaper in the end than the labour of slaves. But this I do contend, that where you have not the command of that labour, where there is a boundless extent of country, where you have not the means of bringing labour to bear on the point where it is required, to talk of a fair competition between free labour and slave labour would be a mockery; but it would be more, it would be a cruel mockery to talk of it to those whom you have placed in their present position by your legislation, and whom you now call upon to enter upon an unequal competition. My Lords, I object to this Bill coming up to us at this late period of the Session. I object to the principle of the Bill, on the ground of policy. I object to it on the ground of expediency. I object to on the ground of justice and humanity; and if it had not been for what my noble Friend has said, I would also object to the principle of this Bill on the ground of consistency also. I will take the lowest ground first—that of expediency; and I will say there never was a time—even admitting that a farthing or a halfpenny reduction in the price of the pound of sugar was an important consideration that should outweigh all other considerations with us—I say, then, that there never was a period at which such a measure was so uncalled for, and at which it was so unwise to introduce it, as this moment. Why, about two or three months ago, the price of sugar was lower and the supply larger than at any period since the emancipation of the slaves. If in 1840 the Government of that day had proposed to introduce such an alteration in the Sugar Duties, on the ground of the inordinate price of the article, some excuse might have been offered by them for such a step; but in 1840 the Government steadily resisted the introduction of slave-grown sugar into this country. In 1840 Her Majesty's Government had not this new light which has since broken in upon them. In 1840 the Government even said that the mere question of price should never be set up in opposition to the principle of justice and humanity. In 1840 the price of sugar was 48s. 8d. per cwt. exclusive of duty. In 1841 it fell to 38s. In 1842, to 36s. 11d.; in 1843, to 33s. 9d.; in 1844, to 33s. 8d.; and in 1845 it fell to 32s. 11d. Now, under your system of protection, be it right 497 or be it wrong, when you excluded all foreign slave-grown sugar, you had this result—that, with your own Colonies, and from free-growing States, you had a fall of prices, from 1840 to 1845, of no less than from 48s. 7d. to 32s. 11d., and an increase of supply from 160,000 tons, to a supply from your own Colonies, without foreign countries, of 245,000 tons in 1845. Under your present system, then, by proper encouragement, there has been a rapid advance in the cultivation of sugar, and a rapid fall in the price. That advance enabled you to meet, during the last year, an extraordinary demand that was created by the late reduction in the duty. The consumption of the article rose from 200,000 to 242,000 tons; but your supply from your own Colonies increased to 245,000 tons to meet your increased demand at a lower price. My noble Friend went further in his calculations upon this subject than I have ever heard of before. In the boldness of his calculations I have never heard him equalled by any Minister before in this or the other House of Parliament; for he did not confine his calculations of the amount of sugar which is likely to enter into the market to this year or even to the next, but he actually gave us an idea, in tons and cwts., of the actual amount of sugar we shall be receiving five years hence, notwithstanding the contingencies the crop is liable to from variations in the weather and from various other causes. In the next year he calculates an increase of 29,000 tons, in the following year 290,000, in the year after that again 318,000, and so on. If that be the case independent of this Bill—for I suppose he can hardly calculate what the produce from the East and West Indies will be in consequence of this measure—we cannot avoid coming to this conclusion, that, taking the law as it at present stands, we shall have an amount considerably greater than the present supply, and consequently with such an increased amount prices must necessarily fall. From the best calculations that I have seen, I will take the quantity in the present year to be 120,000 tons from the West Indies, 80,000 tons from the East Indies, and 46,000 tons from the Mauritius—now be it recollected that Mr. Huskisson had once said that he would eat up, bodily, the whole of the Mauritius if they ever produced more than 10,000 tons. The lowest calculation that can be made is, that exclusive of 25,000 tons of foreign free-labour sugar, and exclusive of about 40,000 498 tons now in bond in this country, you will have from 270,000 to 280,000 tons of sugar, the produce of this year, which will, no doubt, be largely increased in the next year. I ask then, upon what grounds does my noble Friend propose to draw, from extraneous sources, a supply which he conceives will be required to meet the probable future demands of this country? He says that the consumption is very much under what it ought to be. I do not know exactly what it ought to be; but this I know, that it is double or threefold beyond that of any other country in Europe. No country consumes such a quantity per head as this country, in respect to which we are told we must take precautions against the sugar famine that prevails, which precautions are nothing more or less than the sacrifice of those hitherto permanent principles by which we have been actuated. I do not deny but that if you effect a diminution in the price, you will, to a certain degree, also effect an increase in the demand of the article, and an increase in the consumption of the people. The question, however, is this, whether the price you are about to pay for these advantages is not greater than you can afford, and whether it will not, ultimately, lead to more injurious consequences than the reduction in the price can on the other hand effect good? I recollect that in 1841, my noble Friend now at the head of Her Majesty's Government, stated that if the people of this country could obtain sugar at the rate of 59s. or 60s. the cwt., it would be a great benefit. The price now is 47s., including the duty, and there is every prospect of an increased supply. I ask, then—I ask your Lordships—what has caused this increase in the supply? I ask what has produced this fall in the price? It is not because you have given the stimulus of competition, but rather because you have given the stimulus of protection. These results are caused by the certainty of a good market; because the producers in our Colonies and in the East Indies know very well that they would meet with in this country the best market in the world for their produce, no matter what it should amount to. There is a most remarkable instance in the effect produced in the price of foreign sugar—this refers more particularly to the East Indies. The East Indians themselves are large consumers of sugar, so that if there be but a very small difference in the price, it is a matter of consideration with them 499 whether they will ship their produce for the British market, or retain it for consumption in the country. In 1840 the price was 48s. 7d. here—the amount of East Indian sugar that year introduced into this country was 24,000 tons. In the following year, stimulated by that high price, the amount from the East Indies was 61,900 tons. The price then fell, and in the following year, the supply from that quarter was diminished to the amount of 47,000 tons. The supply from the East Indies had since then increased to 66,900 tons, and in the course of last year to 80,000 tons. Take the Mauritius, the production in 1841 and 1843, was 23,000 tons; in 1845, 35,000 tons, and in this year from 46,000 to 51,000 tons; in the next year it is anticipated that the amount will be 60,000 tons; and this increase is effected by an improved system of cultivation and a greater supply of labour by the importation of labourers from the East Indies. They have involved themselves, under your promises and securities, under obligations which further compel them, at the end of five years, to return those labourers at a heavy expense to India. They have increased their cultivation. They have met your wants; and, when they have met your wants, they then are to be told that the Colonies are to be put upon, the same footing with the slave-labour countries of Cuba and Brazil. Now then, as respects the West Indies, I deny the assertion of my noble Friend opposite, namely, that there has been no improvement in the cultivation of the land there; on the contrary, I believe that within the last few years a great improvement has been really effected there. They have imported much valuable machinery, which has saved a great deal of manual labour. This has all been done upon the faith and promises, or at all events the expectations, which you have held out to them, and which expectations you are now about to falsify. You are about to deprive them of the advantages which you have hitherto given them, and to transfer them to the slave labour of Cuba and Brazil. I now come to the last part of the question—not the question of protection to your Colonies, but to this, whether the measure itself, if carried, will or will not give an encouragement, not to slavery, but to the accursed Slave Trade? When my noble Friend spoke of the measure having a tendency to increase the demand for sugar, I ask will not that tendency to in- 500 crease the demand, in the same proportion tend to stimulate the Slave Trade? If the demand be increased by a reduction in the price, will you not require a much larger supply of that article, which is mainly raised by slave labour, to maintain which exclusively the Slave Trade is carried on? Will this not have the effect of raising the value of the slave, and increase the stimulus to escape the vigilance of our cruisers? Now, let me reason with your Lordships. You calculate upon an increase of 20,000 or 25,000 tons, and you say the price will be 25l. a ton. In process of time, in a few years, you propose to equalize the price of East and West Indian sugar—the one is 32s. the cwt., the other 20s. a cwt. I take it that Cuba sugar will under these circumstances be advanced 5s. the cwt., or 5l. per ton. You are now then about to create a new demand for 25,000 tons of sugar from Cuba and Brazil, with an increase in the price to the amount of 25l. a ton, making an animal payment, over and above that now made upon the actual increase, to the resources of wealth in Cuba and Brazil to the amount of 735,000l. a year. And yet with this fact before your eyes you gravely tell me that this measure will be no stimulus to slavery and the Slave Trade. Remember that you are going to add 5l. a ton to the net profits of the slave proprietors and the slave importers of Cuba and the Brazils; and as every slave employed in the sugar estates can raise from two to three tons in the year, you are increasing the net value of every slave engaged in the cultivation of sugar by an amount of from 10l. to 15l. a year. But is that all? No, it is not all; it is very far from being all. You are not only about to increase the demand to the extent of 25,000 tons a year, and to add 5l. a ton to the value of sugar, but you are also about to increase the demand in this country by reducing the price; and you must take into calculation the amount of the falling off in the supply from your own Colonies, to which your measure will necessarily lead: for I presume no man will pretend to affirm that, with a reduction to the amount of 5l. a ton in the present price of sugar, the cultivation of the West India estates can be permanently carried on to the same extent as at the present time? Do you believe that the West India proprietors are in such a state of affluence as that they can sacrifice 5l. per ton on the present value of the produce of their estates? They 501 may go on for a while, because they will not lose the produce of the cane now in the ground, and because they can come with it to this market, which will still continue to be the best market in the world, and a trifling advance on the prices elsewhere would compel them to sell here, whatever might be the loss; but do you believe that they will in future years cultivate their properties to the same extent as at present? And if they do not—and if the same result be produced in the East Indies—if that enormous fertile region, which is capable, if encouraged, of supplying an incalculable and illimitable amount of sugar, ond from which it is of the utmost importance that you should have some bulky commodity to pay the charge of freightage from that country to this; if you deprive that country of the inducement which it now has for sending sugar here, and the West Indies also produce a less quantity, the diminution in the supply there, as well as the increased demand in this country, will have to be made up by an increased amount of produce from Cuba and the Brazils. And is that increased amount of produce to be obtained from the labour of the slaves now employed in those countries? No, my Lords, if there be one thing clearer than another to my mind, it is this—that although with the greater stimulus of higher wages, and by greater encouragement, you may induce the free labourer to increase his exertions, there is no such motive to act on the mind of the slave labourer—from him, all that the power of coercion, all that the power of the lash can extract, has been extracted already. The temptation of greater gain may, indeed, stimulate the planters to require from the slaves yet more exertions, and to resort to yet greater cruelty than heretofore; but the more probable consequence of your measure is, that your increased demand must be met by an increased importation of slaves; so that those 25,000 additional tons of sugar on which you calculate—although I estimate the increase at from 40,000 to 50,000 tons—those 25,000 tons can only be provided by an importation of 10,000 additional slaves from the coast of Africa. Now, my Lords, are you prepared, with your eyes open, and knowing the consequences—are you prepared for the purpose of reducing temporarily and immediately, by something like a fraction of a halfpenny in the pound, the price of sugar in this country—are you prepared to incur the 502 moral guilt—are you prepared to incur the responsibility—are you prepared to involve yourselves in all the consequences of a certain importation of 10,000 additional slaves from Africa into Cuba and the Brazils? And do not forget that the 10,000 or the 20,000 additional slaves imported into Cuba and the Brazils, are but a very small measure of the horrors—are but a very small measure of the sufferings and the loss of life which that importation must produce on the coast of Africa, in the endeavour to procure those slaves. I agree with my noble Friend that your present exertions on the coast of Africa, great and meritorious as they have been, have been accompanied with a great loss of treasure, and a frightful sacrifice of life—that they have been accompanied by an aggravation of the horrors of the Slave Trade, which almost makes one hesitate in deciding whether our philanthropy has not been grievously misdirected. Well, then, will Her Majesty's Government speak out upon this question? My Lords, my noble Friend did touch upon this question, but he touched upon it in language somewhat ambiguous. I am well aware of the suffering and the loss of life in our own cruisers, which have been the result of your efforts on the coast of Africa; and I cannot forget the gallant men who perished there in an unfortunate and inglorious expedition. Look back to the case of the Eclair; look back to the many brave men who went out to that coast in the prime of life and in the vigour of health, but who returned with constitutions broken, and health sacrificed, for the sake of carrying out your benevolent intentions on behalf of the unhappy negro. Nor is even this all. I read not long since a well-authenticated statement of one effect of the vigilance of your cruisers, which perhaps you would hardly anticipate. It appears that a number of slaves had been brought down to the coast for the purpose of being shipped; but our cruisers were too vigilant, and the slavers could not receive them. What was the consequence? They were all massacred on the shore by those who had brought them down. This and similar horrors have been the result of your attempt to maintain this system: but they are horrors which ultimate success might, and I think will, render justifiable; they are sacrifices, great as they are, not unduly incurred, for the sake of objects still greater. My Lords, that you should with one hand, at this expense of blood 503 and treasure, aggravate the atrocities of the Slave Trade, sacrifice many valuable lives, keep your cruisers on the African coast, and bind foreign countries by treaties to imitate your example; and that you should, with the other hand, afford a stimulus to the avarice and the cupidity of the slavetrader, which is to defeat and stultify all the measures you have thus adopted—that is a course which I think would be justly characterized by the term of the extremest folly, if it would not lay us open to a term which my noble Friend seems to think we are now open to — that of systematic hypocrisy. My Lords, I must say that if we were to choose between the exclusion of slave-grown sugar from this country as a moral restriction on the Slave Trade, on the one hand, and the presence of our cruisers on the coast of Africa in the attempt by external means to suppress it, on the other; if we were obliged to sacrifice one or other of those measures of precaution against the progress of the Slave Trade—I must say, in the name of humanity and of sound policy, that I would prefer the alternative of withdrawing our cruisers. It appears to me that to keep up your cruisers on the coast of Africa, and to insist on a compliance on the part of other countries with your efforts to abolish the Slave Trade, and then to hold out a premium to the slavetraders — it appears to me that that would be undoing with one hand what you were doing with the other. And will you, my Lords, who have given 20,000,000l. for the emancipation of the negroes in your own Colonies—you who have made so many efforts and have even sanctioned so many atrocities for the suppression of the Slave Trade—will you make yourselves the laughing-stock of Europe, the butt for the ridicule of every people on the face of the earth, the object of the contempt of the world—will you be guilty of the gross and most absurd hypocrisy of undoing your own work for the sake of reducing by one halfpenny in the pound the price of sugar, and for the sake of some slight and temporary augmentation of your revenue? Will you say to foreign nations — "We condemned the Slave Trade; we paid for its abolition; we condemn it still; but we cannot let it interfere with our desire to get cheaper sugar." There is no sacrifice, says my noble Friend, that I would not incur to put down the Slave Trade. Why, the only sacrifice he is called on to make is this 504 halfpenny a pound in the price of sugar; but a halfpenny is too high a price, it seems, for the morality of my noble Friend. What reasons has my noble Friend for believing that our measures of precaution will not be successful? He says that we shall fail as Napoleon failed in his attempt to keep foreign corn out of this country. But I believe it is perfectly well known that Napoleon was not anxious to keep from us the corn which we imported, and that if he had not connived, not a single grain could have entered the ports of England; but it does not follow that we are to connive at the exportation of negroes from Africa. My noble Friend referred to the reports of Commissioners; but I will ask him if he has read the report last year from Her Majesty's Commissioner at the Havannah? It appears from that report, that, in the opinion of that Commissioner the slavetraders would have broken through your cruisers if there had been a sufficient temptation for their doing so; and that that which had put a stop to the Slave Trade was the low price of sugar, in consequence of its exclusion from the British market—that low price of sugar having rendered the Slave Trade comparatively unprofitable. Yet this, which your own Commissioner told you was the only restraint upon the increase of the Slave Trade, you are about by deliberate legislation to remove; and you are told, too, by my noble Friend, that the course you are about to take cannot have a tendency to increase the Slave Trade. But let us know what the Government are about to do; let us know whether or not they mean to withdraw our cruisers from the coast of Africa. I presume that if they follow out their own principles, they will put an end to our present wasteful expenditure on that coast. My noble Friend went on to say that we are not consistent in the course we are now pursuing, inasmuch as while we exclude slave-grown sugar from our markets, we admit other slave-grown articles, such as cotton, tobacco, maize, and coffee. But it should be remembered that the labour of slaves only is not required for the production of these latter articles; whereas, in Cuba and the Brazils, slave labour only is employed in the cultivation of sugar. I may also observe that with regard to maize, the slave States are those which do not produce a sufficient supply of maize for their own consumption, and they all, almost without exception, import from the free 505 States large quantities of maize for feeding their negroes, who are almost exclusively employed in the production of sugar and of cotton. My noble Friend talks of the internal Slave Trade in America. But will he tell me where that Slave Trade is carried on? Is it not principally carried on from the cotton and coffee-producing States to the sugar-producing States; for the slaves increase in number in the cotton, tobacco, and maize-producing States, and the expenditure of human life takes place in the sugar-growing States, where the slaves decrease. I confess I am not prepared to say, that because you refuse to encourage the Slave Trade by admitting the importation of that produce which tends mainly to perpetuate that trade, you are therefore, from a Quixotic benevolence, to sacrifice all the interests of this country, and to put a stop to its industry, by the exclusion of the raw material. I say that you ought not to give up the attempt to check in any degree the increase of slavery and of the Slave Trade, and that you ought not to apply a new stimulus to that trade, merely because it is impossible for you to carry out your principles to the fullest extent and to the utmost degree. There is another question on which I should like to have some explanation from Her Majesty's Government. My noble Friend, in speaking of the West Indies, stated that they would not object to be placed on a footing of full competition with the rest of the world, provided there was no restriction to the immigration of labour, and provided the Government would consent to the removal of all differential duties; and my noble Friend added that Her Majesty's Ministers had consented to the removal of all the differential duties hitherto levied. Now, I must say, that I think that is a course of very doubtful policy, and raises a question quite apart from the main subject under the consideration of the House. I know that great inconvenience has been produced by the variety of duties formerly levied in our different Colonies; Jamaica having one scale of differential duties, for instance, and Demerara another. That system interfered with our negotiations with foreign countries, and was very injurious to our commerce; and, consequently, in the year 1842, my right hon. Friend the then President of the Board of Trade introduced the measure called "the British Possessions Act," for the purpose of fixing the amount of differ- 506 rential duties to be levied in every Colony between British articles and articles the produce of foreign countries. Now, I believe, that if you repeal that Act, and if you give to the Colonial Legislatures the power of imposing whatever differential duties they my please, you will find that although that may be a boon to the Colonies, it will lead to very considerable inconvenience in a commercial point of view. But my noble Friend says that there is to be a free immigration of labourers into our Colonies. Now, let us know what is meant by that. I believe that the West India Colonies can compete in production with foreign countries if there is so dense a population as to compel the people to labour; without that I do not see that anything will materially affect the rate of wages, or secure a sufficient amount of labour. What is the freedom of immigration which Her Majesty's Government is prepared to encourage? There is no check at this moment, let it be observed, to immigration into the West India Colonies from any part of the world; and there is no human being in any country who may not find his way as a free labourer into those Colonies, and there engage in any labour he may think proper. But very much more than that—the West India colonists have permission, and it is a permission to which I think they attach more importance than it deserves—they have permission, and have availed themselves of that permission, to import labourers from the British possessions on the coast of Africa or from the East Indies, at the expense of the Colonies, subject to this condition—that those labourers should be free to labour for whom they pleased. I want to know whether Her Majesty's Government mean to go further than that? Now, what is to be the extent of this freedom of immigration to the labourer? At present there is no check whatever on the immigration of labour to the West India colonies from any part of the world. Nay, more, the West India Colonies have availed themselves of the privilege of importing labour from our settlements on the coast of Africa, and also from the East Indies, on the sole condition that they should be entirely free. It is from the coast of Africa that the West India Colonists expect their supply of labour; and they require that individual merchants and planters shall be able to go in pursuit of labourers to places 507 on the coast of Africa that are not in Her Majesty's dominions.
I am stating what I believe are the wishes of the colonists. If they do not desire to go to places other than those which are British settlements, they have already that power. But I maintain that to tell the West India colonists that they shall have free immigration of labour is to promise, for the sake of obtaining their assent to an arrangement, what they could not obtain. Of course it cannot be the intention of Her Majesty's Government to allow the West India colonists to go in pursuit of labour to any part of the coast of Africa. There are very few places indeed on that coast where free Africans are to be met with. They would have to make arrangements very similar to those made by the slaves now. They would have to buy from the chiefs permission for the men to engage themselves as labourers; but those chiefs would not send their own subjects—they would make war on neighbouring tribes to enable them to supply the requisite number of human beings for the West India labour-market. True it is that these labourers might be free when they arrived at the West Indies; but so far as the African coast was concerned, to sanction such an immigration as would be necessary to supply the wants of the colonists, would be only to sanction a new form of the Slave Trade. That will be the completion of your disgrace. You first blockade the coast of Africa, and then stultify your blockade. You prohibit the Slave Trade by the severest penalties, and then enter into terms with the chiefs on the coast of Africa for the purpose of obtaining their consent to the exportation of free labourers to the West Indies, under a contract to serve their masters for a limited period. Again, I wish to hear from Her Majesty's Government what is this immigration—this free unrestricted immigration—which they are about to confer as a boon on the West Indies, to enable them to enter into a competition which they are at present unable to sustain? I should like to hear some explanation on that point. Only one word more as to the interpretation of treaties, to which my noble Friend referred. In the first place, my noble Friend says, although you refuse to receive this sugar into the markets of England, you do not hesitate to carry it into all the other markets of the 508 world; you have no objection to be the carriers of this slave produce to all foreign parts. But what, if by doing so you give no encouragement whatever to the production of one additional pound of sugar? If you create a new market, new consumers; if you cause a fresh demand for the consumption of the article; if you encourage the growth of slavery under which it is grown, or the Slave Trade by which that slavery is established, I can understand the argument. But if you say I will carry from one part to another that produce which, if I do not carry it, will be carried by the French or the Hamburghers—if I take the same amount of produce as would have been taken if I had not interposed—I want to know what possible encouragement, assistance, or countenance you in the smallest degree give to the Slave Trade, by taking the carrying trade out of the hands of some one else? My noble Friend talks of our treaties—of the Spanish Treaty. I was not surprised at the remarks of my noble Friend, because I know that the same interpretation was put upon that Treaty on a former evening. This is not the time to enter upon that discussion; but if it were, I think, it would not be difficult to prove the conclusiveness of the argument used on that occasion by the then Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and to show that that Treaty did not in the slightest degree provide for the importation on equal terms of the produce of different countries; but that it was, in conformity with the practice of those days, a Treaty for the protection of the mercantile subjects belonging to the respective countries of England and Spain, providing that the subjects of Spain or the subjects of England, importing into England or Spain the same article, should not be called on to pay higher duties, or be subjected to greater restrictions, than a subject of either country, on importing the same article into the same port, and selling it into the same market. If any noble Lord will look into the Treaty, he will find on the face of all the articles of the Treaty that they were designed for the personal protection of merchants, and as a defence against arbitrary exactions, and do not relate to merchandise or produce. Moreover, from these Treaties, in the letter, in theory, and in practice, the West Indian Colonies of Spain are studiously, emphatically, and in terms, excluded. I believe that on one occasion one of our Ministers sought to obtain some commercial advan- 509 tages, relying on such an interpretation of our Treaty with that country as that which had been put upon it by my noble Friend. But that interpretation was at once rejected and repudiated by the Court of Spain. That interpretation of the Treaty was never admitted by the Court of Spain—that interpretation was never dreamt of until it appeared that by such a new construction of it difficulties might be created which would afford considerable commercial advantages to Spain. My noble Friend says, "It is not our fault that the Treaty with Brazil was not kept up." But was that Treaty a treaty for the introduction of slave-grown sugar? Was there any condition in the Treaty of that nature? Why, my noble Friend would lead your Lordships to believe that the Treaty with Brazil, which you had up to a recent period, placed slave-grown sugar on the same footing as the sugar of other countries. [The Earl of CLARENDON: No, no!] Why was the Brazilian Treaty brought in? The Brazilian Treaty has nothing whatever to do with slave-grown sugar. I am well aware that I have already detained your Lordships at considerable length. I must, however, add, that I think this a very hasty and ill-constructed measure. I do not think that this, under present circumstances, can be considered as a permanent system, and if it is not permanent, the advantage that is expected to be derived from it will be in a great measure lost. I do not think that it will go to the country as the deliberate expression of the judgment of Parliament, still less of the judgment of this country. I am satisfied that although there may be a desire in this country to obtain sugar some halfpenny a pound cheaper, yet even under the present mania for free trade—or supposed mania, for I believe it prevails much more in Parliament than out of it—I do believe the people of this country will hesitate before they obtain a trifling diminution in the price of this article, admitted to be of general consumption, if they know that its cheapness is to be obtained by an operation which will render useles and nugatory, and worse than useless and nugatory, all the efforts which they have been making for the last ten or twelve years—all the exertions and all the sacrifices they have made, and all the money and all the blood which they have expended—I think it will be difficult to persuade the people of this country that a measure which raises by 25 per cent the present 510 price of an article mainly produced by slavery in Cuba, kept up by the Slave Trade to Cuba—I think it will be difficult to persuade the common sense of the people of this country that the price of the principal commodity grown in Cuba and Brazil will have no tendency to encourage slavery and promote the continuance of the Slave Trade, which they have made such stupendous sacrifices, and which I believe, as a moral and Christian people, they are prepared to make still greater sacrifices, utterly to uproot and extinguish. At any other period of the Session, in any other state of politics, and under different circumstances as respects the House, I should not have felt that I was doing my duty if I limited myself to stating the objections which I entertain to the measure. I shall move—only for the purpose of placing on record my opinion, that this Bill be read a first time this day three months. In the present state of this House, at this period of the Session, exhausted as your Lordships are by a sitting which has now lasted nearly seven months, after the decision—the most unexpected and unforeseen decision—come to by the House of Commons the other night, I shall not, my Lords, so far as I am concerned, give your Lordships the trouble of dividing on this question. If any other noble Lord should think fit to divide the House, with my strong feeling on this subject, I shall feel compelled to give my vote against the reading of this Bill; for my own part, however, I do not propose to divide your Lordships, I only desire to have it recorded that I for one entertain the strongest and gravest objections to this Bill; and, for my part, I say "No" to its first reading.
§ LORD DENMAN
said, that he did not rise with the hope of adding anything to the powerful arguments urged by the noble Lord who had just sat down; but he felt it an imperative duty to himself, to all with whom he had been connected in political life, and to the people of England, to declare his direct and irreconcilable hostility to the principles upon which the Bill was founded. He fully concurred in what had been predicted in 1841 by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, as the consequence of such a measure. That noble Lord then expressed his opinion that a measure of this kind would stimulate and encourage the trade in human beings; and if he (Lord Denman) might refer to what had appeared in the pnblic papers, that noble Lord had repeated the same state- 511 ment recently in the House of Commons. He did not find that anything but speculation and theory had been advanced in contradiction to that statement; but he thought the very object of the measure itself was a sufficient proof that its natural consequence must be that predicted by the noble Lord, for unless the number of slaves was very greatly increased, he was at a loss to understand how the increased production of sugar which was anticipated, was to be obtained. He thought it utterly impossible to talk of slavery and the Slave Trade with any degree of moderation,—or, indeed, with any other feeling than that of the most perfect abhorrence; and the noble Earl who commenced this discussion had expressed in very strong terms his detestation of that system. It was, however, rather difficult to suppose that this system could be regarded with any great abhorrence and disgust by those who proposed a measure which appeared to him directly calculated to aggravate the evil. It seemed to him scarcely possible the world would believe that those who now wanted cheap sugar at the expense of slave labour were the natural decendants of those who, at all hazards, and despite all difficulties, made such sacrifices to abolish the Slave Trade, and in abolishing which this country had incurred a very serious obligation to those parties who immediately suffered by the emancipation of slaves in our Colonies—the West India planters. He always felt that that class of people had been ill used; the State had placed them in an unfortunate position, and the State owed them an indemnity. A reduction of a halfpenny a pound in the price of sugar was now required, and at the same time they wanted an increased revenue. God forbid they should get it by any dishonest means! But at whose cost did they propose to get it? At the cost of those unhappy Africans who had no voice in that House, no friends or representatives in this country, no community of interest, and who were talked of like horses or oxen, or as even still less worthy of regard. He had perused a document which had been referred to in the other House of Parliament as well as in the debate to-night—the resolution of the Anti-Slavery Society of Liverpool, who expressed an opinion that this measure would not increase slavery. The committee of that society set out with a very candid admission of the sinfulness of slavery; and the committee then proceeded to say that they 512 "could not record but with feelings of humiliation and sorrow, the failure of every measure, both fiscal and military, which had been applied to the extinction of the Slave Trade." Now, with the greatest respect for these gentlemen, he begged to question the accuracy of that statement. He could not conceive that there had been any failure at all. He admitted there had been no extinction of the traffic: it had proceeded, but it had proceeded in a very diminished ratio. Their Lordships had heard to-night that no less than 75 ships, engaged in the conveyance of slaves, were captured last year; and he would like to know what number of negroes had by those captures been placed under the protection of the British Government at Sierra Leone to reap the benefits of civilization. He thought, then, that it could not be said, that the measures adopted for the suppression of the Slave Trade had failed, when so many vessels conveying slaves to work under the lash in Brazil, had been intercepted by British cruisers during the last year. It was admitted, that both in Cuba and Brazil many persons were desirous of getting rid of their slaves; and they were, no doubt, less anxious to protract the system of slavery, because their trade was rendered dangerous by the watchfulness of British cruisers. The Government were not asked to legislate on this subject in July or August without a proper opportunity of forming a deliberate judgment; and yet when they had hardly been placed in their seats, they called on Parliament to make an inroad on a mighty scheme for the abolition of the Slave Trade, and for rescuing the human race from a curse and a stigma under which they had long laboured, and which fostered and maintained a body of men in the practice of piracy of the worst kind. They had been warned of the difficulty of dealing with foreign Powers if they introduced this scheme of duties; but they were part of our system of laws. Had any difficulties arisen on the subject? Did Brazil complain of our doing that which she herself professed to do—namely, to take measures for the abolition of the Slave Trade? She was precluded by her treaties from raising any objections, as well as by the law of nations. The great argument urged in favour of the Bill that night as well as on former occasions, was the necessity of doing away with the inconsistency which marked our present course. But, surely, if there were inconsistencies—if there were two ele- 513 ments in our system, one good and the other bad, they were not to secure consistency by sacrificing that which was good, and adhering to that which was bad. For his own part he took no blame to himself for any of these measures which had been alluded to. Like most of their Lordships, probably, he had not looked into them, and had taken no part in their discussion; but to say that a great evil was not to be reformed, for fear of the charge of inconsistency, appeared to him to interpose a bar to every kind of improvement. No measure of prevention was perfect; but this was no reason for giving it full effect whenever it might be applicable. From the examination which he had bestowed on the question, he had no doubt whatever that free labour would be driven from the market by this Bill, at least for a considerable number of years. They had been told how free labour was to supersede slave labour by means of improved cultivation and machinery; but it had not been shown how the slaveowner was to be debarred from resorting to the same means. The limit was lost on the subject of slave labour. It was impossible to estimate the extent to which it would increase. If we multiplied slave labour for the purpose of supplying the immense quantity of sugar which the people of England were said to require, how could we at all limit the employment of slave labour? He thought, therefore, that before this great experiment was made, it would have been very desirable to ascertain the extent to which the resources of the East Indies and of the Mauritius in the production of free-labour sugar could have been made available, and also how far the supply could be augmented by any schemes of emigration that could be adopted, rather than that it should be now stated from what doubtful sources imperfect aids might by possibility be drawn, and that we should now be driven to this principle, that free trade would and must prevail; that it must make its way; that there was no means of stopping it; that, like Napoleon, we must yield to commercial enterprise; and that there was no possibility of checking free trade in any direction in which it should tend. That seemed to him a very alarming doctrine, and he wished the Government would state how they would apply such a principle to the encouragement of murder, bloodshed, and rapine. If an analogy were attempted to be drawn between the articles of corn and sugar, he said the comparison did not apply, because 514 corn was not produced by human blood, and the occupation of the foreign farmer was an innocent one; but if we determined to shut our eyes to any atrocities or crimes that might be committed in the growth of the articles of our consumption, we should be subverting all the principles of morality, and destroying the tenure upon which the whole system of human society was based. These principles were not applicable to the people of England. They would willingly give up any advantages which they might derive from an extension of the supply of sugar to be obtained by such means; but they were not prepared to give up those principles for which they had so long contended, and which they had at last established at such sacrifices. He owned he had been taken by surprise by being called upon to debate this question at the present period. He had come to town for the purpose, at great inconvenience to himself; but under the circumstances he should not now enter upon a variety of topics upon which that question rested, totally different from those which had been to-night advanced. He felt it his duty to oppose this measure upon the general principles which he had always endeavoured to support; and when Members of the Government talked of the settlement of this great question, he begged leave to tell that the question was not by any means settled. A measure brought forward in so hasty a manner, at such a period of the Session, and with so little opportunity of discussion—a measure, above all, whose principles seemed to him unjust, never could be settled satisfactorily in the way the Government proposed; and it might be useful to the country that this question should not be considered as settled. There was one consideration to which he wished to advert, although he did not know whether it had been pointed out before: if free trade was this irresistible power which it was in vain to contend against, and to which we must all submit, he wanted to know why that answer should not be given to any of our own subjects who were disposed to purchase slaves, as the Government were prepared to purchase the article produced by slave labour? If free trade was to be made the means of encouraging crime, bloodshed, and all the horrors that take place on the coast of Africa, he did not see why the traffic in slaves might not be directly allowed. He should not longer trespass upon their Lordships, but felt it his duty to express his opposition to the Bill.
§ The MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said, that notwithstanding the expectations expressed by the noble and learned Lord who had just spoken, that some further argument should be put forth from the Ministerial benches in support of the Motion for the first reading of this Bill, he confessed that, after having listened to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, he should have been perfectly contented to have rested the arguments in favour of this Bill upon the full, able, complete, and varied statement of his noble Friend who presided over that department with which this subject was more immediately connected; but without meaning to prolong this unusual, though convenient discussion, on the first reading, he did feel himself called upon to answer the questions put to the Government by his noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley), as well as by the noble and learned Lord who spoke last. In the first place, his noble Friend had asked the Government whether they thought that that was a fit period of the Session to come to a decision—for he said they could not have so full and deliberate discussion—upon so important a question. He (the Marquess of Lansdowne) was prepared to contend that the Government would have been wanting in their duty if they had allowed this Session to terminate without endeavouring to secure to the people of this country a participation in that share of the consumption of sugar to which they were entitled; and that the Government were fully justified in not adjourning the question to a distant period, especially when they considered the claim the people had derived from the decision of Parliament upon the Corn Laws, to the benefit of any other consumption which the principles of free trade could give them. This question, too, was not brought forward now for the first time. It had been discussed over and over again; and the absurd folly and inutility of the system they were now pursuing for the purpose of putting down the Slave Trade, and in which they had persevered for so long at such an expense of money and at such a sacrifice of life, stood recognised and discovered. All their laudable efforts had failed, whilst they left the people of this country subject to an impost which produced no benefit to any man whatever, either black or white—whether he was an inhabitant of this country, or one of the devoted nations of Africa—and was attended only by a fanciful distinction of having the poor—not the rich—consumer of this coun- 516 try liable to the payment of a larger sum than, according to the ordinary principles of free trade, he ought to pay for his consumption of sugar. "But," said his noble Friend opposite, "you may say you require to have this upon the principle of free trade; but is this Bill a Bill of free trade?"—and his noble Friend proceeded to tell them it was not, because, after all, when the working of the Bill was complete, it would leave the consumer liable to pay a duty of 14s. But did the advocates of free trade hold that the institutions and establishments of the country could be maintained for nothing? Did they say that no revenue was required to be raised? The principle of free trade was to have no discriminating duty—to act upon the principle of open competition; and when he saw all those discriminating duties abolished, he said they had, as far as the necessity of their condition and revenue would allow, placed the principles of free trade upon a lasting and sound foundation. He therefore claimed for this measure the character of a free-trade measure. The arguments advanced by the noble Lord opposite, and which were employed elsewhere, were rather inconsistent, and required only to be placed in juxtaposition to prove that. The Government were told they were wrong in principle to consume slave-grown produce; but if it were wrong, there were a great many things in which it must be done, and was done. It was said that the West India producer could supply all the sugar this country required; but afterwards another argument was used to show that that supply must fail; and yet they were to keep up a fanciful distinction between one quarter from which sugar came and another. He said fanciful distinction, because it did not diminish the growing of slave-grown sugar, whilst it increased the price; and the prosperity and commerce of this country were called upon to feed and maintain it, inasmuch as it supplied every country that consumed slave-grown sugar with the articles with which they were enabled to pay for it. We supplied Russia—not directly, not honestly, but indirectly, dishonestly, and circuitously — with all that she consumed of slave-grown produce: and not only that, but when his noble Friend talked of blood and sacrifices, let him remember that a great part of the slave produce was carried on in English ships—that a great part of the trade in Brazil was carried on by British ships. By an account which he held in his hand, he 517 found that, in the course of last year, British vessels had conveyed 23,889 tons of slave-grown sugar from Rio Janeiro alone to different parts of the world. And yet it was said that, under the present system, they did not contribute to the encouragement of the Slave Trade. Again, our vessels were engaged in the conveyance of this produce from Cuba to Trieste, for Austria had no scruples about slave-grown produce, and we supplied her with slave-grown sugar. But his noble Friend felt the inconvenience and want of solidity of his own argument; for, after stating the principle very highly as to the impropriety, and immorality, and wickedness of using slave-grown produce, he said, there were some things so extremely convenient to us we could not do without them. His noble Friend thought of Lancashire—he thought that all the manufactures there would be gone, but for these articles; and he said it was so convenient we should have cotton. If then it was to be confined to a question of convenience, let his noble Friend not tell them that it was to be a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence; let his noble Friend not condemn the Government for calculating, when he himself made calculations; his noble Friend appeared to try things by a thermometer of his own; it rose to boiling point on Cuba sugar, but sank to a most agreeable temperature on Carolina cotton. But the Government were not going to give a stimulus to the Slave Trade—they intended only to afford a stimulus to the free cultivation of sugar, and he confidently stated that there was a growing disposition, both in Cuba and also in Brazil, to a system of free labour for the cultivation of sugar. He called the attention of the House to the fact, not noticed by his noble Friend, nor by the noble and learned Lord—a fact stated upon unquestionable authority — that the cultivation of sugar had increased although the importation of slaves had not—a perceptible proof of the disposition in Brazil and other slave-growing countries for free labour; and he thought that under more favourable circumstances that increase would be still further augmented by the application of that most effective of all arguments—by convincing the owners that it was more profitable to them to cultivate sugar by free than by slave labour. Would his noble Friend opposite, who so well knew the Colonies—would he affirm that there were not estates where produce might be doubled if an incentive were applied to the 518 use of machinery. His noble Friend said, that with the increasing production of the West Indies, by means of improved methods of cultivation, they ought to wait and see the ultimate effects of it; but would his noble Friend say there were not estates the produce of which might be doubled, if an incentive were applied by the removal of protection? He knew that upon the best authority, and he knew more; for he knew that, notwithstanding his noble Friend held out menaces—menaces in argument he meant—against persons embarking capital in the Colonies, yet with this Bill before Parliament, and with almost the certainty of its being passed, there was forming in this country a company composed of men of the greatest information, and possessed of sufficient capital, for the purpose of embarking that capital, with no other prospect of a return than that which they would have under this Bill, by extending the production of sugar in the West Indies. He hoped, moreover, that from this very Bill, out of the increased influence which commerce with this country would give us, and out of the improved relations, not only between Government and Government, but between man and man, this country would be enabled, not only to remove that repugnance which they had created in certain Governments against them, but to obtain their concurrence, which in no other way could they have hoped for, in putting down that which he thought might be put down more effectually by the universal concurrence of all countries, than by any other means. It would also give great encouragement at home to the employment of free labour, which, as every day proved, was becoming a more important and more fruitful source of industry. He had heard recently that a large number of white persons, amounting to nearly 2,000, had gone to one of our West India islands from Madeira—and such an immigration was likely to be attended with great advantages to both the employers and the employed—and that it was likely that those immigrants would be followed by many more. He would not then go into the measures by which he hoped the West India Colonies might be reconciled to the adoption of this change affecting their interests; but long before this, after the country had been called upon, from principles of humanity, to remove the fetters from the negro, the Legislature ought to have removed also the fetters from the industry of the West 519 India planters; and the Legislature had commenced this by affording greater facilities to immigration, and by permitting persons to bind themselves for a certain period under the superintendence of the local magistrates. He thought also that it would be wise to permit the Colonies to regulate their own duties, of which they were better judges than the British Legislature could be; and when the West Indies had received these aids for the struggle, he trusted they would redouble their exertions to produce free-labour sugar, bringing all their intelligence and capital to the production; and that there would be both from the West Indies and the East Indies an increased supply to this country, except only that the East India supply should be diminished to this country by the growing prosperity of our subjects in India, and by the greater consumption of sugar by them. Upon these grounds he trusted their Lordships would give a first reading to this Bill. And, before sitting down, he might perhaps suggest to his noble Friend, that he should allow the Bill to be read a first time, as being a more respectful mode of meeting a Bill coming from the House of Commons, and that when the proposal for fixing the second reading should be made, his noble Friend should move that it be fixed for that day three months, by which his noble Friend would have every opportunity he could desire of protesting against the Bill.
§ LORD ASHBURTON
said, that as the speech of his noble Friend near him (Lord Stanley) had been entirety unanswered, it would be presumption for him to detain their Lordships for any lengthened period; but as the subject was important, and he had come up for the purpose of giving his vote against this Bill, he could not allow that—the only—occasion, on which the merits of the Bill would be discussed, to pass without making a few observations. The opposition to this Bill rested on two distinct grounds—the general impolicy of the measure, setting aside all questions of humanity; and, secondly, whatever their judgment might be upon that question, it remained to be determined whether there were any moral considerations connected with the character of this country which forbade any advance at all in doing that which would, in the eyes of the world, be impolitic and improper. As to the question of the general policy of this country, the leading argument on all sides was that great principle which seemed to have drop- 520 ped from the clouds for the first time this year, and it was said that free trade having been applied to one thing, must now be applied to all. The whole principle on which Parliament had so far acted was that it was for the benefit of the country; but so far as the agricultural interests went, the prejudicial effect had been shown in the depression of their markets, and in their inability to find purchasers. The interests of the Colonies did not come so directly home to them; but they might find themselves injured from the ruin which would result from this measure, when it would be too late. It involved a complete change of the whole of our colonial policy. The question whether we were to have Colonies at all, was involved in the question of free trade or protection. Protection had been sometimes carried to a ridiculous extent; but it was essentially required, and it formed a necessary part of that system under which this country had acquired greater wealth, perhaps, than any other, the results of ships, colonies, and commerce. The principle advocated by the noble Earl would involve the loss of the Colonies. What was the object of colonies at all? There might be parts of the globe, like Malta and Gibraltar, which were kept as points for armaments, or as places of refuge for our naval forces; but all other colonies were preserved for benefit of trading with them, and for the advantage of having a privileged trade with them. The system of reciprocal protection was the system of colonies; and they would cease to be of any value the moment we deprived them entirely of the system of protection. Was it intended to give to the Colonies the power of removing all restrictions? Were they to be at liberty to trade where they pleased, in what bottoms they pleased, and to have the entire and unrestricted free trade which we claimed for ourselves, and which it was said would produce such benefits to every one? This might be a very good and fanciful notion of some one seeking an Utopia; but considering the position of the world as hostile with respect to commercial regulations, he asked whether we ought to throw down our defences, and to let in all the world, and whether any such system could be found in such a country as this to answer? Yet, with the boldness which distinguished the disciples of this school, the noble Earl followed up the rule to its fullest extent. Was everybody, then, to be allowed to carry their manufactures to Jamaica and 521 Canada on the same terms as we received them ourselves? If that were the case, the gentlemen in Manchester, who expected such great benefits from free trade, would discover that in their own favourite article of cotton, the monopoly in which they conceived no one could take from them, they would meet with successful rivals in some of those Colonies. It had been stated by some of those gentlemen in the Committee on the Burdens on Land, that the Americans met them successfully in the Brazilian and Chinese markets with coarse cottons; and why should they not equally beat them in our own Colonies? It would then be a question whether it would be worth while to keep our Colonies not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all the world, at a great expense to the revenue, with a great increase of our establishments, and entailing upon us certainly weakness and feebleness, if the time should come when we should be unfortunately called upon to defend ourselves at home. The country would be placed in a false position by this system; and if the principle were adopted at all, it must be carried further—the whole thing must be looked to: and he felt strongly confident that the men who advised these measures, and pressed them upon the country and upon Parliament, ran the risk of bringing into jeopardy the prospects of this country; and he warned them that it was a most dangerous experiment. He could not say from the speech of the noble Earl who moved this Bill, that he entered upon the proposal with a full conviction of its importance, and of the end to which it would lead. Therefore, setting aside the principle of humanity, he objected to so treating the Colonies. The unfortunate West Indian had been worse treated than any other. Within his own time the Slave Trade had been carried on—that trade was abolished: assurances were at that time given, that there was no intention of disturbing the condition of the Colonies with regard to slave labour. Then came the second measure for abolishing the condition of slavery altogether; and great as had been the expense, and enormous as was the amount which this country had sacrificed, there were few people, he believed, in this country, who were dissatisfied at the sacrifice that had been made. Now they came and asked Parliament to let into competition with them—knowing the unfavourable condition in which they were left—the slave-grown produce of other parts of the world. What 522 they had been told in this country with respect to the repeal of the Corn Laws—that it would give a great impetus to the labour and industry of this country, and create a great stimulus among the English farmers—was told also to the West India proprietors; and this impetus was to be given by taking away the rewards which followed their own industry. How could they adventure new machinery and increased immigration, whilst the value of their produce was thus diminished? If these improvements were likely to do good, why did Parliament withdraw all encouragement to making them profitable? By this Bill they were giving an additional encouragement to the Slave Trade, because it made a difference whether they were dealing with those who used slave labour, and those who encouraged the Slave Trade from the coast of Africa. It was said, indeed, that we did receive other articles the growth of slave labour. That, however, was not the question under the present Bill, which was to extend that system. If this were a new subject, and if there were already no trade with countries using slave labour, there might be some argument on the general question; but the question here was whether they should pass a Bill to open new sources of supply, which would come exclusively from Cuba and Brazil, where not only slavery existed, but the Slave Trade was carried on to a great extent. It was well known that the calculation made by persons engaged in the Slave Trade was this, that if one cargo in five were brought into port and securely disposed of, the proceeds of that would be sufficient to defray the expense of the whole five voyages. He need scarcely point out to their Lordships the great influence that such results must have on the minds of men as inducements to them to engage in the Slave Trade. The House could not have forgotten that this country made a vast sacrifice for the purpose of putting an end to negro slavery. Were they now prepared to render that sacrifice nugatory for the sake of 2d. or 1½d. per pound saving on the cost of sugar? Were they prepared, for the sake of a trifling reduction in price, to revive the old system in all its horrors? He fully believed that if the people of this country really understood the question before the House, they would declare against it now, as they had done in the year 1841, when it was proposed to give them cheap sugar, and a variety of other things cheap. 523 It was no answer to this to say that encouragement was given to the Slave Trade by the importation of the copper ores of Cuba. He should never support that; he never had supported anything which appeared to him to have a tendency to encourage slavery, still less the Slave Trade. But then they were told that they must pass this Bill, because sugar was to the people of this country one of the necessaries of life. It had long been in use, but he nevertheless regarded it as one of the luxuries of life. The cotton trade was a very different matter from the trade in sugar. They were not now called upon to deal with the cotton trade; it had long been settled, and the settlement had lasted for years; but with sugar the case was wholly different. It had become fashionable to say that we ought to buy in the cheapest market, and sell in the dearest: he trusted, however, it was not necessary to inform their Lordships, that markets apparently the cheapest, were not the cheapest in reality. Upon the whole, he regarded the commercial scheme of the Government as most objectionable; and he should ill discharge the duties which he owed to their Lordships and the country if he did not protest against it. The change in the Corn Laws, and the proposed alteration in the Sugar Duties, did not go to the country as having the support of anything like majorities of the two Houses of Parliament. It was well known that the change in the Corn Laws was not carried upon its merits; and it was equally well known that the present proposition respecting sugar, had been supported by his right hon. Friend in another place, not upon its merits, but on account of a particular party position. His right hon. Friend, and those who supported him in the House of Commons, had voted for the Bill before their Lordships, not upon any ground of political expediency—not upon any ground of humanity—but solely to avoid disturbing the Government. Hence it was that both the measures, both the Sugar and the Corn Bill, would go before the country without the support of a majority in either House.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
agreed with other noble Lords in regretting that a measure of such importance should be introduced at this advanced period of the Session, and when so few Members of their Lordships' House were present to discuss it; but that delay did not rest with the Government, for it was impossible that they could, consistently with the discharge of their other 524 public duties, bring forward the measure at an earlier period. It was said, however, that they might have, under such circumstances, postponed the Bill; but to that he would answer, that he could hardly conceive any greater dereliction of duty than postponing the introduction of a measure of this description, and not taking the definite opinion of the House with regard to it this Session. What, he would ask, had been the constant complaint of all parties with respect to this subject? Was it not that the question had been allowed to remain unsettled? His noble Friend who spoke on the other side of the House had disposed of the objection which was based on constitutional grounds, and, therefore, he would look on it in a financial and commercial light; and regarding it in that view, he would declare that the present state of those duties was a financial and commercial wrong; and any one who had been connected with the finances of this country must be aware of the various communications which were made from various quarters, from the east and the west, complaining of the injury which many interests suffered from the unsettled state of the question, and the want of any permanent arrangement of these duties. The noble Lord opposite who opposed the measure had spoken of a pledge to the West Indies, of not proposing any interference with their productions, and of the improvements which had taken place in the cultivation of those Colonies, as if they were the result of the pledge; but he (Lord Monteagle) would say, that of all the examples of extraordinary credibility which he had ever heard of as existing in the mind of any man, it was in the minds of those connected with the East Indies or the West Indies, if they believed that there was any possibility of those duties remaining in a situation of continued permanence. What had the Legislature been doing for the last twenty years with regard to the Sugar Duties? Had they adopted a course which could have induced the planters to suppose the Sugar Duties would be allowed to remain as they were? Had not the legislation on the subject been a succession of changes, giving rise to anticipations of other, changes? Under these circumstances, he thought that Her Majesty's Government had acted most properly in bringing forward such a measure as this, when they considered that allowing it to remain unsettled was productive of such injurious consequences. In referring to 525 the connexion of this subject with slavery, his noble Friend opposite had omitted to advert to the argument of the noble Marquess near him, namely, that when they admitted foreign free sugar from the Continent, they abandoned the principle of discrimination. It was quite clear that if 50,000 tons of free sugar were taken out of the continental market, it would have the same effect on slavery as if they took the same quantity of slave-grown sugar. The price in the continental market would be regulated by the supply of sugar, and when they took that free-grown sugar from the markets of the Continent, they abandoned all pretence to discrimination. Suppose the supply of sugar to the continental market consisted of half free-grown and half slave-grown sugar, what difference did it make which we took if we admitted either? He would defy the most ingenious argument to point out a difference. It was objected to the reduction of these duties, that such a reduction would have the effect of stimulating the Slave Trade. At a former period the supply of sugar from the Colonies was so extensive as to produce a surplus which was exported to the Continent; and in that case a reduction of duty, by increasing the consumption here, and decreasing the supply to the Continent, might be said to encourage the consumption on the Continent of slave-grown sugar to make up the supply. But the case was now different, and he could not recognise the argument that a reduction of duty ought to be considered as a question of maintaining or stimulating slavery. Could any one believe that the discriminating duties had ever been intended to have any connexion with slavery? Was not the discrimination continued after the abolition of the Slave Trade by this country, but whilst we continued to be masters of slaves? The discrimination was intended solely as a protection to the colonists; and having used it so long, had they now a right to turn round with all this pathos and moral indignation, and to defend it on totally new and different grounds? His noble Friend said that we were about to give up our colonial system; but did he mean that the colonial system established in former and bad times was right? Was it not unjust to compel our Colonies to take our goods, if they were of a higher price or an inferior quality to those which they could get in other markets? And was it not unjust to compel us at home to take the goods of the Co- 526 lonies at a dearer price than that for which we could obtain them elsewhere? Could a mutual wrong of that kind be defended on just and reasonable grounds? He could understand the principle of compensation; but he could not understand how a mutual wrong could be made a tie between the Colonies and the mother country. What was the tie that really bound us? Did not the Colonies see the advantages of being connected with England? Were they not proud of that connexion, as we had reason to be proud of them? Looking at the spirit of our institutions, and the freedom that was established by the British nation wherever it fixed its footsteps, the Colonies were proud of their connexion with this country. He could not agree that mutual wrong was a proper tie between a nation and its Colonies; nor could he agree with the inference that it was right to continue a wrong, but that it was wrong to commence it. The noble Lord opposite had said that if cotton, being a slave production, were now for the first time to be introduced, the question would assume a different character from that which belonged to it, as the trade was at present established; but he (Lord Monteagle) would ask him what would be the effect of reducing the duty on cotton? Would it not be as great a stimulus to slavery as the reduction of the duty on sugar? It would; and when the noble Lord talked with contempt of the reduction of one halfpenny a pound, he (Lord Monteagle) would inform the noble Lord that we sacrificed our sympathy—if that were a sacrifice of it—with the slaves in the article of cotton, for five-eighths of a penny per pound. Would it be right, then, to say to the Government of that day, that they had sacrificed all sympathies with the slaves for five-eighths of a penny? Their Lordships were aware that a most important branch of the trade or commerce of a whole country might turn upon the five-eighths of a penny, and that the Government of this country had, on a former occasion, sacrificed 700,000l. for the five-eighths of a penny. With regard to the interests of the owners of property in the West Indies, he would say that if ever people had the fullest notice that a question was to be settled, it was the people of the West Indies as regarded the sugar question. He (Lord Monteagle) introduced the largest change that had been made on the subject—he introduced it as an organ of the Government with which he was con- 527 nected, being then in the other House of Parliament; and when he at first proposed it, that measure was regarded as subversive of the interests of the West Indies by many. It was a measure to assimilate the duty on East and West Indian sugar; and though he had heard great complaints of suffering in the West Indies, he never, since the passing of that Bill, heard any one connected with the West Indies attribute any of the losses which had taken place to the assimilation of the Sugar Duties. No attempt had been made to answer the statement at that side of the House as to the absurdity of the pretension of humanity in this matter. We sent this slave-grown sugar to all parts of the earth—we compelled our Colonies to consume it—and yet we were told that on the ground of humanity this duty ought not to be reduced. There was a time in the fanaticism of the middle ages, when the Pope assigned the cast to one Power, and the west to another; but the extravagance of the Pope was nothing to be compared to the assumption of placing certain limits of longitude and latitude to right and wrong. We might say that one side of the line was to belong to Portugal, and another to some other Power; but it was an absurdity to say that a thing could be right at one side, and wrong at the other. He would direct the attention of their Lordships to the position of the finances of the country at present—a position which, to those who did not look below the surface of things, presented no cause of alarm, but to those who did, it was alarming, or if not alarming, it was only because they depended so much upon the unbounded resources of the country. There were deficiencies in the income of the country at the present moment, and this Bill, it ought to be recollected, would give a just and legitimate mode of improving our finances, not by the imposition of new, but by the diminution of old burdens. It would not, it was true, give a balance in our favour of more than half a million; but it was a fair and legitimate mode of increasing the revenue, and ought to be adopted. If they compared the receipts and expenditure, they would find a surplus; but if they considered the extraordinary resources which had been brought to the aid of the permanent income, they would find that no less than 25,000,000l. sterling, not of permanent, but of temporary income, had been added.
felt that he laboured under very great difficulty in ad- 528 dressing the House on the present occasion, because a fortnight ago he had an opportunity of stating his opinions and expressing his feelings on this subject at considerable length, and he had waited during the course of this debate with some anxiety to hear an answer to the arguments which he then used, and to the statements which he then made: but notwithstanding all that had been said, he considered himself in the position of being up to that moment unanswered. What made the duty of answering more exigent on his noble Friends opposite was, that his arguments had been since enforced by the most powerful and eloquent speech of his noble Friend near him (Lord Stanley), which had been followed up by another noble Friend who sat near him, with his usual acuteness and power of argument; but, nevertheless, up to that hour his arguments were unanswered. That would certainly seem to relieve him from the task of going again through the same subject, and thus rescue their Lordships from the tedium of having the same tale again told told to them. Nevertheless, there had been some arguments in the speech of his noble Friend who had just sat down (Lord Monteagle), which would seem to indicate that they had taken somewhat different views on the subject. The noble Lord had delivered that speech as he always did, with great ability, but with more than his usual confidence, if he would allow him (Lord Brougham) to say so. He (Lord Brougham) might indeed observe, that when a man had less cause for confidence, he was apt to show it more. His noble Friend had adopted a tone of confidence and triumph, he would say, and he went off from point to point, reminding him of the gardener's motto, "to look at everything, and touch nothing." When he went over a point he said, "What did you say to that—that was a most important argument, and you did not take notice of that." Why, the fact was that it had been answered two or three times, and he (Lord Brougham) was under the painful necessity of again referring to it, as his noble Friend did not attend to the answer; he was probably thinking of his own prospective speech, or he would have heard the answer that was given. His noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had made an assertion with reference to the period he (Lord Brougham) had brought forward this subject before—
But they were debating a question on the first reading, and his (Lord Brougham's) statement was brought forward by anticipation with no greater irregularity, or no greater deviation from the practice of the House. He had done so for the sake of common and general convenience, because he conceived it was very convenient for that House to have an opportunity of expressing its sentiments on a Bill which, coming from the other House as a Money Bill, they would have no opportunity of dealing with, save by rejecting it, which might be inconvenient. That was his (Lord Brougham's) reason for making his speech on that night's debate when he presented the petition of Thomas Clarkson. His noble Friend (the Marquess of Lansdowne), though he followed him, did not answer him. Indeed he promised to say nothing on the subject; and he was as good as his word, for he certainly did say nothing on the subject. It was a speech of half an hour's length, but contained nothing on the question before the House; and therefore he (Lord Brougham) must consider his noble Friend's speech on that night as his speech on the question. He said, before he addressed the House on the present occasion, he would say little; and again his noble Friend had kept his word. What he said was very little, and it was not much to the purpose. He (Lord Brougham) still adhered to the opinion he had formerly expressed, that this was a most unprecedented mode of dealing with so large a measure, and that it was introduced at a most unprecedented period of the Session. The more important it was the question should be settled, the more necessary it was that it should have been brought in at the accustomed period, that full consideration might be given it. His noble Friend who spoke last, however, had said that it would be shameful for the new Government not to bring on this measure. But why? Merely because they were a new Government, and just come into office. Why, that was the very reason for taking a little more time for turning about, and making up their minds on the policy of the measure. It was anything but a reason at this side of the 530 channel for haste, except it was urged that they ought to be the more hasty the more important the question, and walk the quicker the more slippery the ground under their feet, and that in proportion as the subject was important they should dispose of it in a great hurry, and not look on either hand, or before them. It appeared that it was necessary at all events to do something; and why? Because they were a new Government. He understood that a new Government must have something to go with to the country, when it had no majority in that House or in the other House—he (Lord Brougham) could assure the noble Lords opposite that he wished to raise no unpleasant feelings in their minds—and had no hope of existence except from the quarrels amongst their adversaries; when he considered that, no doubt he could see why they should wish to court favour elsewhere, and to make an appeal to their supporters outside of doors. They said, let it in God's name be an important measure that we bring forward—a measure with a good name — and let it be called something cheap. Let us, said they, cry out cheap sugar, and thereby have something else besides the hostium discordia to trust to for our existence. On such grounds as these he could understand why this Bill was hurried through the House at so late a period of the Session. Let it be recollected that the people of the West Indies could not have the slightest knowledge of this measure, or an opportunity of being heard against it. They took their negroes from them, which were their property, on account of their love of humanity; they confiscated their property, on account of their humanity and justice, and their love thereof; and they gave them about one-fourth or about one-fifth part of its value—a great deal for them to pay, but very little for the West Indians to receive; and the next thing they did was to take away the advantages they formerly enjoyed from protection, and to let in all foreign competition to overwhelm them; and that was not enough, for they scolded them at the same time that they flogged them—it was "preachee and floggee too." His noble Friend who opened the debate told them (the West Indians) that they were in a state of ignorance—that they were an incapable and a foolish people—that they did not know how to manage their own property, or to apply machinery, or to economise labour, or to meet expenses, 531 or to get profits. There were so few arguments to deal with, that it did not much signify where one took up the subject, which was left very much in a state of wreck, and as he had hit upon it he would proceed to refer to that part which related to the unhappy West Indians. No person could accuse him of any prejudice in favour of the West Indians, for during all his life, both in Parliament and out of it, he had been in conflict with the West India body; but he was not on that account to do them an injustice. It was said that the object was to destroy monopoly, and to give them cheaper sugar; and, secondly, it was said that they sought by the prodigious force and power of competition to stimulate them to turn their minds to the improvement of their machinery, and to increasing the quantity. That was the argument of his noble Friend; and they were told by his noble Friend the noble Marquess a fact which he brought forward with great pomp: he said that a great company which was going to be established in the centre of Jamaica, was owing to this measure; but this company was undertaken six months ago, when no idea existed in the human imagination of any measure of the kind; because at that time Sir Robert Peel adhered to his old plan. He adhered to his opinions of 1841; he adhered to his opinions of 1843, 1844, and 1845; and it was only within the last three weeks that a great light broke upon the mind of his right hon. Friend the worthy Baronet, and he gave up the opinion he formerly held. No, he (Lord Brougham) begged pardon. The right hon. Baronet adhered to his former opinions, but still he supported the Government—it was a kind of non sequitur. He said, I think this is a bad measure, and because it is a bad measure, and because I disapprove very much of it, I will give it my support, because I don't wish to shake the Government; and thus it appeared that the hostium discordia again prevailed. He (Lord Brougham) could, by the list of voters the other night and the voters of 1841, demonstrate to their Lordships that there was in the House of Commons a decided majority against this Bill, and on the very selfsame ground on which they passed, by a majority of 36, Lord Sandon's Resolutions, which was the very ground they now took, namely, that this was a Bill for the encouragement not only of slavery, but of the African Slave Trade. How 532 were they to calculate on such a miraculous conversion as the miraculous conversion of Lord Sandon? And who had seconded his Resolution? Mr. Hogg. [A noble Lord here made an observation to Lord Brougham.] Oh, yes, Sir Somebody Hogg — aye, Sir James Hogg—is it the same person? [A Noble LORD: It is the same person.] The same person! It is utterly impossible. Why he (Lord Brougham) had read not many hours ago the speech of the untitled Mr. Hogg, and he closed a most eloquent and admirable speech with this sentence: "How can you, sitting in a Christian assembly, vote for a measure involving the very existence of our Colonies—involving the most sacred principles of justice—involving the principles of humanity, and the principles of the Gospel itself." He (Lord Brougham) might pause and doubt whether this could be the same individual whom his noble Friend had cited as an authority that night; but he was now in a new state: he had passed out of the chrysalis into the butterfly state, and he now enjoyed another nomenclature. Some singular change had certainly taken place; for if his former arguments were correct, he now came forward with the advocates of this measure, against the Gospel, against humanity, against the existence of the Colonies, against the sacred principles of justice; and that in the same Christian Legislature where he made his former speech. Why, what a joke was this! There was a person of whom it was said that he assumed the form of a tree—si volis arbor—or even of a boar—sive aper. But another poet, who had also dealt with the subject of Proteus, described him as one,—qui subito sus (laughter) horridus, atraque tigris, Squamosusque draco et fulva cervice leæna.He (Lord Brougham) thought the whole argument in favour of this measure was this, that sugar would be reduced in price, and would be brought within the capacity of purchase to the bulk of the people of this country to a large amount—for if not to a large amount it did absolutely nothing. Now, he might as a plain man, and without professing any great knowledge of Colonial affairs, or affecting any great knowledge of the affairs of the Board of Trade, or pretending to an accurate investigation of details—he might, as a man merely exercising his common sense and judgment, ask this question: how could there be that augmentation of 533 the quantity of sugar which was to bring the article into every cottage—which was to lower the price by increasing the amount of supply—how could this possibly happen unless there was an immediate increase in the quantity of sugar brought into the market? How should that be got but by one way, and one way only—by a gradual supply? If they spread this over a number of years, his argument would fail; but this was a Bill to put the demand into the market at once. There was only one conceivable way of meeting the demand and increasing the quantity of sugar, if they did not let in the slave sugar, and that was to increase the quantity of free-grown sugar by the use of better machinery. There came his objections to the measure. It opened a market to slave-grown sugar, and there was to be no limit to the supply, as the African Slave Trade enabled them to go on to an unlimited extent. There had been no answer to this, nor any attempt at an answer. That detestable crime, as it had been called by Lord Denman, that incurable enormity, as it had been called by Mr. Pitt, the greatest practical evil with which the world ever had been visited—that Slave Trade which, with a thousand objections to it, with innumerable arguments against it, calculated as it was to harrow up every feeling of the human heart, was, it must be admitted, a powerful instrument of cultivation, an all powerful instrument for the increase of cultivation; for from that unhappy continent of Africa could be obtained just as many slaves as hogsheads of sugar were wanted; and to increase the produce of Brazil or of Cuba, it was necessary only to send so many additional slave ships to the African coast. There never was a greater fallacy than that the consumption of sugar did not necessarily imply an increase of the Slave Trade. It required several years to prepare land for sugar crops; it must be cleared, grubbed, fenced, and buildings must be erected. For these purposes, negroes must be put upon it, and in a few years there would be an increase of the quantity of sugar produced; consequently, the increase of negroes must be antecedent, four or five years, to the increase of sugar. Whoever held up his hand for the immediate increase of the supply of sugar, to the extent of 30,000 or 40,000 tons, might not intend it; but when his eyes were opened, and the matter had been explained and 534 made manifest to him, and evidence was shown to the effect which could not be refuted, must see that he held up his hand not only for slavery, but for the extension of that most execrable crime, and that most revolting of crimes, the African Slave Trade. But he had been asked why he was so inconsistent in his humanity that he consented to take slave-grown cotton and coffee, and only excluded sugar? To this there were innumerable answers. Sugar was different from all other articles as regarded its produce, although he admitted the labour in the production of coffee within the tropics was most severe; but there was no comparison between the produce of sugar and that of cotton and coffee. A West Indian had told them that hedging, and ditching, and fencing in Yorkshire was nearly as hard work as putting in the sugar plants in the West Indies. Was there, he would ask, nothing in having to perform such work within a tropical climate, and was there nothing in the negroes having to work in gangs? Did this person really know how the negroes were worked in gangs—for that was one of the greatest enormities in the system? They were all worked in a line or row, and the young and the old, the strong and the weak, were obliged by the lash of the driver to keep up to the same quantity of work. He had thought that they all knew the curse which was entailed by the driving system, and he had never heard any one express a doubt as to the evil of it until that night. The argument was open also to half a dozen other of the most serious objections that could be urged. As it was truly said by the Lord Chief Justice, the question was cheap sugar, and that a great crime was to be perpetrated under the name of cheap sugar. They had then to deal with that article, and let them come if they pleased with a proposition for coffee and cotton to-morrow, and he should know how to deal with it. He found the coffee and cotton duties existing, and he had not then to deal with them.
denied that he had done so. He was not to be made responsible for everything that the House chose to do, but he was no party to anything of the kind. But assuming that no foreign coffee or cotton was admitted, and all of a sudden it was proposed for the first time to open the ports to foreign slave-grown 535 cotton and coffee, he should be prepared to resist the proposition to the utmost. A small reduction of duty only tended gradually to increase the supply, and would place the question on a very different footing. But let him remind the House of the time when cotton was first largely imported into this country. It was in the quarter of the century between 1780 and 1806 that the great increase took place in the importation of cotton, for the spinning-jenny of Arkwright then came into operation. During that time not only slavery existed in the British Colonies, but this country carried on the Slave Trade. How was it possible to use that argument, when slavery was not abolished till 1833; and when the African Slave Trade, which was not abolished until 1807, still existed? There was not the shadow of a ground for saying that there was inconsistency in our now admitting sugar because we admitted cotton before we had abolished slavery. With regard to the internal Slave Trade in America, much as it was to be reprobated, there was no parallel whatever between it and the horrors of the middle passage. What thought they of a vessel of 110 tons loaded with 125 negroes, and twenty-five men to keep them down, and this mass of human beings compelled to cross the Atlantic in that confined space? What was the consequence? Why, that one-half of this wretched crew died on the passage. In the case of another vessel with 1,100 slaves on board, bound to Bahia, 600 of these unhappy human beings only were alive—if alive it could be called—when the vessel reached land. In another case, seventy-five negroes were on board a vessel which had been set fire to accidentally by a drunken crew. The crew escaped; but of the slaves, twenty-five who were on deck, not in irons, were drowned; while the other fifty, who were in irons below, were burned to death! With respect to the effect which our cruisers on the coast of Africa had had on the Slave Trade, he admitted that they had done more harm than good. One consequence of their presence there, had been that scenes the most hideous had been enacted on board the slave vessels off that coast—scenes too dreadful for tongue to describe, or imagination to conceive. Things unutterable — worse than fable ever feigned or fear conceived—had been enacted on board those miscreant vessels. In one case, half the slaves were thrown overboard in the course of the 536 chase; and to conceal the fact from the chasing vessel, they were actually packed in barrels, and thus floated alive on the Atlantic. With such facts as these before him, was he to be called on to compare this form of the Slave Trade with the internal Slave Trade of the United States? But he had to quote a very high authority in support of his view: no less than that of Dr. Lushington, who, only a short time since, urged him (Lord Brougham) to press on their Lordships the withdrawal of our squadron on the coast of Africa, as utterly inconsistent with this Act for encouraging the Slave Trade. He (Lord Brougham) had long taken part in this question; he had deeply felt for the miseries of these unhappy beings, and had always lent his feeble voice and support to those who, with sincere heart and honest purpose, had been minded to put down or lessen the horrors of the traffic in slaves. It was as a question of the Slave Trade, and not of slavery, that he now regarded this question. He little thought, after having throughout his whole life laboured in the good cause—after seeing all the efforts that had been made by this country to put an end to the traffic—in 1806, in 1807, and in 1811, and again in that crowning effort, when this country paid so enormous an amount of money in the hope of effectually contributing to the abolition of the trade, by abolishing slavery in the West India Colonies—he little thought, after all those triumphs of the good cause, that now, in the year 1846, he would have been compelled to rise in his place in that House in order once more to denounce the African Slave Trade, and to complain that a liberal Government, the Government of a party deriving all their lustre from the name of Fox, should have been publicly guilty of the introduction of a measure such as this—a measure the introduction of which must be regarded as worse than the refusal for so many years to abolish slavery—worse than the refusal to emancipate the negroes, because it was the first instance, in the history of this question, and in our legislation upon it, of the attempt by a positive enactment actively, effectually, and vigorously, to encourage the African Slave Trade. Viewing it in that light he should record his vote against it.
§ EARL GREY
said, he would not shrink from answering the speech of the noble and learned Lord. That noble and learned Lord had talked a long time, but had said very little. For three quarters of an hour had 537 he spoken, but he had urged nothing like an answer to the arguments adduced by his noble Friend on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. He (Earl Grey) had heard the noble and learned Lord make some amusing jokes, and he had had some hits, as was his wont, at friends and foes; but for anything like connected reason to make out the case he had set up, he (Earl Grey) had listened in vain. The noble and learned Lord had not attempted to gainsay what was clearly established by his noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon), that, commercially and financially, this measure was likely to be of great benefit to the country, producing to the revenue an increase of something like 500,000l. sterling, without imposing any fresh burden on the people, but on the contrary, reducing the taxation upon an article which had now become a necessary of life. Nor had he attempted to show that upon any principle of national morality or duty were they called upon to exclude slave sugar from our markets, or how this measure would encourage the Slave Trade. It was admitted that it was totally impossible to exclude all slave produce, such as coffee, cotton, copper, and tobacco. It was true that we had consumed these things for a long time; and, strangely enough, that was put forward as an argument for continuing to use them by the opponents of the present measure. It was only the novelty that shocked; that was a new principle in political ethics; for, according to the noble and learned Lord's argument, if they had been sinning for years they might go on sinning; so that if they had not already repealed a statute for burning heretics, they might burn them still. But the noble and learned Lord was not safe even upon that principle; because the duties upon the articles he had mentioned were reduced from a very high duty to the present ones in 1842. In coffee alone, in 1841, before that change, the quantity imported was 28,500,000 lb.; but in 1845, the duty having been reduced from 1s. 3d. to 6d., the quantity imported was 21,800,000 lb. of British plantation coffee, and 13,500,000lb. of foreign coffee almost exclusively slave-grown. What became then of the noble and learned Lord's principle that they should make no change? This measure was precisely the same in principle as those of 1841 and 1842, when his noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley) was a member of the Cabinet. But said the noble and learned Lord, "Oh! I know 538 nothing of that." Happy ignorance saved his consistency. The certain test of a principle was this—was it of general application? Could they draw from the immutable law of God any principle which was not universal? They had followed that principle in doing away with slavery—they had carried it out consistently. In this case there was a question of national duty involved. Would the noble Lords opposite consistently follow it? Until they could show that their rule admitted of no exception, they must fail in showing there was any such rule of national morality as the noble and learned Lord contended for. But, said the noble and learned Lord, whoever extended his hand in favour of this measure, aggravated—he wished he could remember one-tenth part of the words the noble and learned Lord made use of, but he believed the noble and learned Lord said, exacerbated—the Slave Trade. But that noble and learned Lord ought not to impute to honourable men motives, without looking carefully to what, if they were provoked—if they chose to be drawn into that quarrel, they might say—what he, indeed he (Earl Grey) himself might say of the noble and learned Lord. He would not be provoked to it; but, when the noble and learned Lord glorified himself so much for all he had done upon this subject, and pronounced such a glowing eulogium upon his services in the anti-slavery cause, extending over a period of forty years, he (Earl Grey) wished he had been good enough to account for one little fact—why that zeal, so ardent for so long a period, had just slumbered during that short time when it was particularly important he should have been lively and active? He meant the time when he held high office in His Majesty's Councils; and if his zeal had not slumbered then, it would have been very satisfactory to him (Earl Grey), and a great personal relief, if the noble and learned Lord, during the years 1831 and 1832, when the controversy of slavery ran so high, and the discussions were carried on with so much eagerness on both sides, had given a little more counsel and assistance and encouragement to his noble Friend under whom he (Earl Grey) then served in the Colonial Office, instead of leaving him to struggle on unassisted and uncounselled through difficulties of no ordinary character. But upon this subject he would not further dilate. He trusted that he had convinced their Lordships that there was no point of national morality involved in 539 the maintenance of the present system of protection for colonial sugar. He himself utterly abhorred the Slave Trade; and he would not adopt any course that would tend to increase it; but he was bound to say he believed that, in passing this measure, so far from increasing the Slave Trade, it would be the most likely means of putting an end to it. France was just at this moment agitating the question of the abolition or non-abolition of slavery; and there could be little doubt but that if France gave up the pernicious system, slavery could not long survive in the Brazils, or anywhere else. And this was just the moment that the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Brougham) selected for propounding his doctrine that competition between slave and free-labour sugar was absurd, and totally out of the question. This was not the language which was held by the noble Lord in past years, nor was it the doctrine which had been advocated by Sir F. Buxton, Mr. Wilberforce, and the writers in the Anti-Slavery Reporter. They, one and all, contended that not only was the produce of free labour most consistent with justice and religion, but that it was also the cheapest and most beneficial for the consumer. In this proposition he (Earl Grey) most unreservedly concurred. He had ever held, and would ever hold, the opinion that free labour, if properly managed and encouraged, might enter any day into competition with slave labour. It was said that the system of protection was applied, because of the deficiency of population; but there was no such deficiency in the East Indies, and yet the system was to be applied there. Even with regard to the West Indian Colonies, he did not entertain such desponding views as his noble Friends opposite; but if there were this disproportion between population and territory, why had not that been considered by his noble Friend in 1833? One of the disappointments of the measure of that year was in the cheapness of produce, and he could not but attribute that to the erroneous mode in which that great change had been brought about. He had objected to the mode at the time, and he believed that a large majority of the gentlemen interested in the West Indies admitted that his predictions had been proved by experience to be true. But in spite of the errors which had been committed, and the difficulties still to be surmounted; he was hopeful that the difficulties which had heretofore 540 existed to the practical working of the great emancipation plan, would be completely removed; and he was sure that the measure now under consideration would have the tendency of promoting that object. He was sure that if a wise and liberal course of legislation in reference to our magnificent West Indian Colonies were pursued by this country, that they might enter advantageously into competition with any other sugar-producing countries, whether worked by free or slave labour. This measure would enable them to do so, for it would call forth their latent energies, and give a new stimulus to their industry. The stimulus of even and fair competition was always attended with the most beneficial results. The West India planters did not participate in the feelings of terror or dread of impending evil which their friends in this country seemed to entertain. They had long been complaining of the state of uncertainty in which they were kept, not knowing what course of legislation would be pursued in their regard; but this was now at an end—the suspense was over, and already were they preparing themselves to enter into competition with the slave growers—they were buckling themselves to the task, and he had no doubt as to the result of the struggle. The lash might coerce the physical energies of the man in order to the accomplishment of a task; but there was no labour well or efficaciously or satisfactorily accomplished unless the heart was in the work—unless the workman was an intelligent and civilized being. It was freedom alone that would call forth the energies of man, and therefore it was absurd to suppose that the planters of slave estates would or could make use of improved processes. That it would be done, and was in the course of being done in Jamaica, was evident from the speech lately addressed to the House of Assembly in Jamaica by his noble Friend Lord Elgin. The process had already begun, and he had no doubt that in a few years it would be general—that the cultivation of estates would be leased to farmers, as in this country—that the farmers would raise the cane in Jamaica as farmers raised corn in England—that they would hand the cane over to manufacturers, as the farmers handed the corn over to the millers in this country, and by that division of labour the work would be better done, and greater employment diffused amongst the people. This change of system was impossible under sla- 541 very. He did not blame the West Indians for not having done more: they had inherited a vicious system under slavery, and it took a long time to make improvements; but they were in progress, although the so-called friends of the West Indians, like the "farmers' friends," had taught them to rely exclusively on protection and the supply of our market. He was asked what the Government measures were to be for giving facilities to the West Indies. With regard to the differential duties, the policy of the Government had been put to the West Indies on terms of perfect equality; and as their produce would receive no advantage in our markets, so in their markets we asked none for our produce. It was proposed to leave the change to the Colonies; but if, on examination, a different mode could be approved, he saw no reason why it should not be adopted. It was feared that if the Legislature here proceeded at once by Act of Parliament to abolish all imperial duties, financial embarrassment might be created in some of the Colonies, and that was the only reason for the suggested mode of proceeding; but he was sure his noble Friend would have no objection to take into consideration any other mode which could be pointed out to him of carrying out the object they had in view.
§ EARL GREY
replied, that was a question under the navigation laws, and rested on grounds totally different from protection; it was a difficult subject, and ought to be reserved for a separate discussion. Then, with respect to the immigration of labourers, it was asked whether it was to be allowed to send ships to any part of Africa, and obtain labourers: that was not intended, though it would be a great improvement if they could; but it was open to objections which he did not see his way to get over. If it could be accomplished, he would like to see an increased intercourse between Africa and our own Colonies; and if means could be pointed out which would be free from abuse, the Kroomen might go to our Colonies during the cane harvests, as the Irish labourers came to this country for the corn harvests, with great advantage to the prosperity of the Colonies and to the civilization of Africa. It was not, therefore, proposed to give facilities of that kind: all that was proposed was to extend what had been done by his noble Friend, 542 and to allow immigration from our own settlements on the coast of Africa and from India, and contracts to be entered into for service for a year.
asked, whether the immigrations were to be undertaken by the Colonies at large, or by individuals? For now the Colonies undertook it, and the labourers were under no obligation to go to one individual more than another.
§ EARL GREY
said, that the restriction was only under the colonial law; and what was proposed was to give the Colonies the power to make regulations within certain limits. He should say that it would be highly inexpedient to permit any of those contracts, unless in cases where the expense of importing the labourers was paid by the Colony at large. That question, however, was one which ought rather to be considered by the colonial authorities than by Her Majesty's Government at home. He should not further trespass upon the indulgence of the House; but he could not sit down without repudiating the idea that he should ever have been induced to recommend such a measure as the present, if he thought that the effect of it would be to increase the evils of slavery. On the contrary, his settled opinion was that it would lead to the extinction of slavery in no very great number of years.
said, he understood what the noble Earl had been, with his wonted courtesy and accuracy, pleased to say as to his opinion on the question being of no weight with any man, woman, or child in the country, including of course, ill-conditioned cross-grained, ill-tempered, spoilt children. For a proof of his knowledge on this point, he (Lord Brougham) needed only refer him to what all persons—men and women, he know less as to children, in the country—well knew, that the Anti-slavery party had applied to him to head their petition and remonstrance against this Bill for encouraging the Slave Trade, and that he had refused to sign before T. Clarkson, and had reserved his protest for this place; but it was not the less true that the body had desired to place themselves under his lead on the occasion, and that was known because the correspondence was published in all the papers, with the remonstrance. They had also begged him to present their petition against the Bill; and he had done so, as every one but the noble Earl knew. As for the noble Lord's charge against him, that he had neglected the anti-slavery cause while in office, he 543 thought every one might have known that he had brought forward nothing during the years 1830 and 1831: the whole time of the Government had, during these years, been necessarily occupied with the Reform Bills, and to think of moving on slavery would have been too absurd an idea to enter any man's mind; and as for the next year—the first vacant time—so far from refusing his help, he (Lord Brougham), as all their Lordships well knew, and as the noble Earl then in office under Lord Ripon might have known, took the whole charge of the Emancipation measure, and did so even from the first, owing to an accident that happened to Lord Ripon in opening it.
§ LORD ASHBURTON
wished to put a question to the noble Earl. At present the produce of the mother country enjoyed a certain preference in the Colonies. Now the change to be made in that was so new, that it became necessary the public at large should be made acquainted with the intentions of Her Majesty's Government upon that subject. He wished to know whether such a scheme was now to be submitted to Parliament, or whether it was the intention of the noble Earl to issue instructions to the Governors of Colonies, with the view of having such matters settled by the Assemblies of each Colony respectively, and the acts of these Legislatures sent home to receive the approbation of the Crown. It appeared to him very important that the country should understand how this was to be.
observed, that an Act had recently been passed which laid down this rule that the colonial authorities, subject to certain limits, might impose such duties as they thought proper upon the import of goods the produce of the mother country; but the Act further proceeded to declare that if in any case they altered the duties payable upon foreign goods, they should be bound to make a corresponding alteration in the duties affecting British produce. Now, he wished to know from his noble Friend whether he intended to propose that every Colony should be allowed to impose upon imports such duties as the Legislature of that Co- 544 lony thought fit, and thus that various duties should prevail amongst the several British Colonies — that the differential duties should vary indefinitely. It was now the 10th of August, and they were told that Government had not yet made up their minds as to the course that they should pursue with reference to this matter. He conceived that it would be highly disadvantageous if there were to be varying rates of duty—if, for example, Antigua imposed one rate of duty, and Jamaica another.
§ EARL GREY
begged to assure his noble Friend that Her Majesty's Government had fully made up their minds upon the subject, and that the substance of a Bill had been agreed upon. If the objections taken to the course proposed by the Government were well founded, they would be quite ready to carry any other better mode into effect that might be submitted to them; but in so far as their object was to have the Colonies as much freed from restrictions on trade as the mother country, that was fully and entirely agreed upon.
asked, if it was the intention of Government to allow one Colony to abolish differential duties, while another was to be permitted to retain those duties: for example, were they ready to permit one system to prevail in Jamaica, while another existed in Barbadoes or any other Colony? If so, how would such a system operate?
§ LORD DENMAN
explained, that his belief was, that free labour would in the long run beat slave labour; but he objected to the measure in so far as it would give a stimulus to slave labour, as matters now stood. It had not been stated in the course of the evening whether our cruisers were to be continued on the coast of Africa or not. [Earl GREY: Of course they will.] He was happy to hear it. He must say, in addition, that if the principle of free trade was applied to this question of slave-grown labour, he did not see how they would be able to give a right answer to their own subjects on the morality of the question. If they allowed the Brazilian slaveholder to introduce his slave labour, how in justice could they refuse the same right to an English subject?
again begged to put the question to the noble Earl (Earl Grey), how any system would work well which permitted one Colony to abolish the differential duties on foreign or home-made goods, while other Colonies retained them.
§ Bill read 1a.
§ House adjourned.
- 1. Because the importation into the United Kingdom of Sugar, which is produced by the labour of slaves, tends to promote the Slave Trade, with all its atrocities, and is quite inconsistent with the principle upon which this country has so long acted, and for which it has made, and still continues to make, enormous sacrifices.
- 2. Because there is no reason to apprehend a deficiency in the supply of sugar from other sources, as the quantity which is produced in the East Indies and in other British possessions is rapidly increasing, which would also be the case with the British Colonies in the West Indies if they received due protection and encouragement.
- 3. Because the proposed measure would be most unjust to those Colonies, and would be ruinous to their interests, which have already been grievously injured by reducing the price of their produce without a corresponding reduction of the taxation to which it is subject, and by the want of sufficient labourers for their cultivation.
- 4. Because the consequences of the proposed measure might be very calamitous, and might occasion such distress and discontent as would ultimately lead to the separation of those very important Colonies, which, when deprived of the protection that is justly due to them, might also lose their allegiance.
- LOVELL and HOLLAND.
- DENMAN, for the first reason.
- S. OXON, for the first reason.
§ Aug. 10, 1846.