§ Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read. House in Committee accordingly. On the schedule of articles from which the duties are to be removed, or reduced, being read,
§ The EARL of HARDWICKE
rose to move, that the articles of Butter and Cheese be struck out of the list. They were important articles; and to remove them from the operation of this Bill, would be an act of justice to the poorer classes of their fellow subjects. In Ireland a large population was dependent upon the produce of small plots of ground; and if they could judge from the immense importation of the article of butter, a large number of persons must be dependent upon, or at least receive great assistance from the sale of that article. This was one of the articles the duty on which was not altered in 1847; but it was now proposed to reduce it by one half, from 21s. to 10s. The importation amounted to no less than 1,000,000 cwts. 872 of butter at an average of 80s. per cwt.; and they were about to take off 10s. per cwt. in the duty. What was the intention of Government? To lower the price of the article for the benefit of the consumer—that was their avowed object; but in regard to this article, the reduction in price would be so very minute, that it would be felt by no one; whilst the remission of 10s. duty would take from the poor persons to whom he had alluded in Ireland 500,000l. a year. Let them also look at the revenue which it produced: this article of butter produced a revenue in 1843 of 151,903l.; in 1844, of 186,667l., and in 1845 of 247,604l. It was clear, therefore, that the duty could not be such as to restrict the consumption of the article, because the revenue in those three years had nearly doubled. Therefore, in a financial point of view alone, this remission of duty seemed quite absurd. He did not pretend to understand matters of finance; but he thought that the simple mode of dealing with these questions was to consider whether the revenue was gaining advantage by the duty, and whether the public consumption was not restricted by it; if the revenue gained and the public did not lose, it seemed a peculiar case for the continuance of the duty. He thought it therefore most essential that noble Lords, as protectors of the poorer classes, should refuse to sanction this alteration. There was no reason for it. No case whatever had been made out for the reduction of that particular duty. He would now take the case of cheese, produced in the same manner and under the same circumstances, and that article produced a revenue, in 1843, of 91,656l.; in 1844, of 117,272l.; and in 1845, of 141,818l. So that, taking the aggregate revenue produced by both articles, it would be found to be by no means inconsiderable. He regarded these two articles as important, as a sample of articles producing a great and increasing revenue, and affording a most beneficial protection to the poorer classes, which, therefore, of all articles, ought not, in his opinion, to be retained in the schedule to this Bill, The noble Earl concluded by moving that the articles of butter and cheese should be omitted from the schedule.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
said, that he would not contradict the statements of the noble Earl, but would admit that if, in framing this Tariff, Her Majesty's Government had had the revenue only in consideration, these might have been proper arti- 873 cles to omit; but they did not frame the schedule upon a consideration of revenue alone, and on precisely the same grounds on which the noble Earl moved their omission, he thought they ought to be retained, namely, the interests of the poorer classes. The noble Earl had said, that the removal of the duty would not sensibly lower the price to the consumer; then if that were so, how could it injure the poor farmer, the producer? The one observation answered the other. For his own part, he believed that advantage to the consumer would result from the measure; but, consistently with that he thought that no injury would be inflicted on the producer. It was true that the importation was large; but when put side by side with the large produce of the three kingdoms, it was as nothing; it was like a drop in the ocean. Besides, the introduction had always taken place at a time when it would not be injurious to the producer; the introduction had taken place only when a strong demand had arisen, and in the years when the largest prices had been obtained for the article. Nothing but high prices would induce the producers to send it over. He would in support of that statement mention to the House the prices of Irish butter, in the Belfast market, in several years, and the amount of importation in the same years. In 1840, the price was 93s. 6d. to 97s. 4d.; the importation 252,000 cwt. In 1841, the price 97s. to 90s.; the importation, 277,000 cwt. In 1842, the price 83s.; the importation, 175,000 cwt. In 1843, the price 76s. to 79s.; the importation, 151,000 cwt.; and in 1844, the price 77s. to 79s.; the importation, 185,000 cwt. With respect to cheese, precisely the same result appeared. In 1841, the price of Cheshire cheese was 54s. to 68s.; the importation, 270,000 cwt. In 1842, the price 49s.; the importation, 201,000 cwt. In 1843, the price 46s.; the importation, 179,000 cwt.; and, in 1844, the price 52s.; the importation, 215,000 cwt. He was justified, therefore, in saying that the importation did not occur at the times when it would be injurious to the producer; and the reason was, that the importation depended on the demand in the great towns and ports; and when, consequently, in the great towns and ports the price of the article was high. Believing that 20s. was far too high a duty to be maintained on these articles, and recollecting that a short time after the war, the duty was not 20s. but 2s. 6d., the Govern- 874 ment proposed now to reduce it to 10s., and he hoped their Lordships would not reject the proposal.
said, that his noble Friend had argued the case with his usual ingenuity; but he was in this dilemma, from which he could not escape—either the price would be considerably reduced—and then the poor Irish producer would be damaged to the extent of 1,000,000 of cwts. now imported from Ireland—or there would be no reduction of price (which was the position the noble Earl thought it most advisable to argue), and then the measure would have the effect of gratuitously putting into the pocket of the foregn producer about 427,000l. a year out of their revenue. It was true, that as compared with the large consumption of the whole country, the importation was not large enough to affect the price of the article throughout the whole country; but then the only difference was, that the producer of foreign butter would put into his pocket the amount which their own revenue lost.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
explained that he had not said that the price would not fall; but taking the statement of the noble Earl (Earl Hardwicke), he had said, that if it would not fall, the Irish producer would not suffer.
§ The House then divided:—Contents 33; Non-Contents 50: Majority 17.
§ The articles were accordingly retained in the schedule.
§ On the item for the reduction of Hops being read,
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
argued that this Tariff would impose great hardship upon the English grower of hops. Large capital had been invested in hop grounds, and as no doubt the hackneyed argument would be used, that the reductions of duty previously made, had not occasioned any large importation, the reply to it was, that it was hardly possible in the case of hops that any large importation could have taken place, because it took three years before a good crop of hops could be produced, and as yet, therefore, the foreign grower had not had time to come into the English market. However, last year, samples had been brought here, and but for the duty would have been sold. The excise duty on hops was 19s. 7d. per cwt., and the tithes, as fixed by the Tithe Commutation Act, were no less than 17s. per acre. It was true that foreign hops would pay the same duty, but they would not pay tithes; and in a parish in Sussex 875 the tithe was 3,000l. a year. Besides, the actual expenses of cultivation in England were 42l. an acre; that was the amount at which they could cultivate an acre of hops in Kent and Sussex; and yet they were about to call on them, the Kentish and Sussex growers, whose actual expenses were 42l. an acre, to compete with the growers in Austria, who produced hops at a cost of 8l. per acre. How could they compete with the foreigner under these circumstances? It was a strong case in that view; but he would rather put it on the ground of the enormous employment which it gave to the labouring classes. In Kent there were 23,000 acres of hop plantation, in which capital to the amount of 2,000,000l. was sunk, and upon which additional capital to the amount of 900,000l. was annually expended in cultivation. A large and increasing labouring population was comfortably supported by means of these plantations; for the sum paid annually for manual labour was 230,000l., which exceeded the usual amount for the same number of acres by 160,000l. Under that state of things a large population had grown up, because that branch of agriculture found them constant employment; and now they were about, not only to cripple the resources of those domestic producers, but to leave them burdened with so large an amount of population that they would not be able to employ it in other ways. And there could be no reason for this remission of duty: it could not be the object of the Government to benefit the consumer, for it would make no difference in the price of beer; for, if they wanted cheaper hops, they had only to take off the excise duties, and he would answer for it that hops would soon be cheaper. What, then, did they propose to do with that large population? Were they going to drive them all into the manufacturing districts, or compel them to emigrate into a foreign land, and leave their native parishes, in which they had hoped to pass their lives? It might be said that the House had already shown its determination not to alter this measure in any respect; but he nevertheless wished the House and the public to know how the case really stood. Upon what principle this article had been introduced, he knew not; the Prime Minister disliked protection to land, though to cotton goods made up he was willing enough to grant protection; and that was the only reason he could conceive for the introduction of hops into this 876 schedule. It seemed to him as if every clerk in the Board of Trade had been told to write down some article, all of which had been put into a hat, and then drawn out promiscuously by the noble Earl.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
begged to thank his noble Friend for the credit he gave him in regard to the framing of this schedule; he felt complimented by the suggestion of the noble Duke as to the manner in which it had been accomplished. But the noble Duke had asked what they meant to do with the large population dependent on hop plantations; whether they were all to be sent to the manufacturing districts, and how those who had to pay 42l. per acre in the first instance and afterwards other heavy charges, could compete with those who had only to pay 8l. an acre? Now he had before stated that upon data such as that relating only to the cost of production, without data as to the other charges of transit and so forth, it was impossible to draw any inference as to the result of such a measure; but so far from agreeing with his noble Friend that the duty was too much reduced by this Bill, he had expected to find the only complaint made that this was one of those anomalous cases in which they had left the duty too high. He would not use the argument that the admission of foreign hops had hitherto been inconsiderable; the admission had been small, but the reason was, that the duty had been as nearly prohibitory as possible. Was there any ground for the apprehensions of the noble Duke? It had been stated elsewhere, that hops could be brought from Belgium at 6l. per cwt.; it would then have to pay, not only the excise duty, but the duty of 2l. 5s. imposed by this Bill: so that a protection of upwards of 60 per cent would be left to the home grower, and he thought it impossible to contend that 60 per cent was not a sufficient protection.
The EARL of WICKLOW
said, that it was a most inconsistent thing on the part of the Government that the excise duty should continue at all, if they meant to carry out their own principles. One of their first provisions should have been to take off the excise duty upon hops, which were the only instance of a growing crop subject to duty. If they did so, the revenue would suffer, it was true; but they were destroying their revenue by every reduction of duty upon all the articles of the Tariff.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
said, he 877 would not divide the House, but begged only to add that a great many plantations had been established on the faith of the existing law; and he wished their Lordships to consider what large sums of money were spent upon those plantations for the manual labour of women and children; the hop picking was like a second harvest, it enabled many poor persons to live in comfort, to save money, and provide for their old age. The noble Earl had said, that the data which he had furnished were not sufficient to enable any one to form a conclusion as to the result of the measure; but before a Government came and asked Parliament to alter a law, they ought at least to be prepared to state what would be the result of the alteration. This was another instance of the necessity of hearing evidence upon these subjects before they decided them.
§ LORD ASHBURTON
said, that it seemed to him that the defence of the noble Earl was, that this remission of duty would be inoperative so far as the admission of foreign hops was concerned—that the duty left would be a complete bar against importation: he (Lord Ashburton) assumed, therefore, that it was not intended to let the foreign grower of hops into competition with our own grower; but if so, why had they made any alteration? Why make the experiment at all? It seemed to him that the whole scope of arguments directed in favour of the intended reduction of duty, was to try how far such reduction could go.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
denied he had said that the duty retained would be prohibitory, but that he thought a duty of 60 per cent, in point of fact yet payable by the foreign grower, was sufficient to impose for protection.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
remarked' that the reduction of the duty on hops would not only affect the hop grower, but the grower of hop poles. A great deal of underwood was grown for this purpose in Sussex, and much employment was furnished from this source to the agricultural population at a period of the year when agricultural operations were generally suspended.
§ EARL STANHOPE
said, that independently of other considerations, the uncertain nature of the hop growth should be taken into consideration. To show how precarious the trade was, and how much it stood in need of legislative protection, he had heard that a certain hop grower had 878 realized in one year 70,000l. by his hops, and this enormous sum was lost in the next season. The expenses also were great. One person had been known to expend a sum of 10,000l. annually in labour in hop growing. He might add, before he resumed his seat, that no answer had been given to the questions put by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond), as to what were really the intentions and wishes of the Government on these measures.
§ The EARL of RIPON
observed, that the argument of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) was merely to this effect, that the old duty on the article should be retained to keep up a species of gambling—the interests of the consumer were not to be considered, but gambling speculations must be protected.
§ EARL STANHOPE
replied, that the duty on hops was levied upon the amount grown; and, therefore, the noble Earl was in error, when he said that hop growing partook of a gambling transaction.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
must deny the statement made, that the trade of hop growing was one of gambling. Was the growth or purchase of hops of a more speculative nature than dealing in cotton? He would ask the noble Earl (the Earl of Ripon) if he had found the price of beer ever raised by the high price of hops? The interests of the consumer were not injured in that article. In 1841, when a deputation of hop growers waited on the noble Earl, and opposed a reduction of duty, their wishes were acceded to. Why were these duties now to be reduced? He supposed because no application had been made to the noble Earl by a deputation of the same character. He (the Duke of Richmond) much desired that the poor man should drink his beer at the lowest possible cost to himself; but he did not see that any wild and untenable theory should be introduced for the present purpose or any other. If Government wanted to cheapen the price of beer, let them take off the duty on malt. Ministers wanted to give the people cheap bread and cheese; the next cry would be for cheap beer to drink with it.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
had little doubt the next step in the progress of change would be an attempt to supply the country with cheap beer by a reduction of the tax on malt. If this did not follow, it should. He was an advocate for free trade, both through better fiscal relations with foreign countries and freer interchange of home 879 produce at home. Beer was as necessary for the population of the nation as bread; and if the Government at the close of the Session would come down to that House and propose the repeal of the malt tax, he should, indeed, be glad. The present question, though one affecting hops, had yet a wider signification, and was connected with that of a free trade in corn. Surely his noble Friend would admit that. The present question was but subsidiary to a change in the duties affecting foreign corn. If, then, the price of corn was reduced, and the price of hops also, barley should surely be allowed to pass into the hands of the consumer without the intervention of the exciseman.
The EARL of RADNOR
observed, he had been told by a grower of hops, that the trade was itself a species of gambling; and with regard to the large sums said to be paid for wages, no districts were more pauperised than those in which hops were grown.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Upon the item affecting the present duty on Lace,
§ EARL STANHOPE
said, the labourer's wife earned as much at lacemaking in the house as the labourer did at work in the fields; and they were now going to destroy that source of employment by facilitating the introduction of foreign lace. By the last alteration in the Tariff, the value of home made lace had been much reduced; and now the Government seemed to think that the remnant of protection which had been then left to the lacemakers was too much. He should move that the words be struck out of the schedule.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
would oppose the intended reduction. The manufacture of British lace was conducted in cottages, by children and females under the eye of their parents. Destroy this manufacture, and these persons would be forced to Manchester, and other such places, where they would be subject to those miseries known to be inseparable from the cotton districts. If the noble Earl (the Earl of Dalhousie) did alter any clauses of the Bill, this clause affecting lace should be one of them.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
said, that one would suppose, from the remarks of noble Lords, that something unparalleled was going to be done in the proposal of this reduction of duty; whereas the reduction was only from 12l. 10s. per cent, ad valorem, with the additional 5 per cent, to 880 10l. per cent, simply so as to bring this article in accordance with the rest of those included in the schedule.
asked his noble Friend whether he really thought that this alteration from 13l. 2s. 6d., being the duty of 12l. 10s., with the 5l. per cent added, to 10l., would make the smallest appreciable difference in preventing or checking the importation of these articles by illicit means. A very high authority, Mr. Deacon Hume, had told them in 1832, that unless they imposed a higher duty than 25l. per cent ad valorem, they need not be apprehensive of smuggling. It appeared there were to be some exceptions from the schedule, and surely if there were, this article ought to be one; for after reducing the duty in 1842 from 30l. to 13l., they derived in the following year a revenue of 6,000l.; and in 1844 it increased to more than 12,000l. Therefore, when they found that by a certain duty there was an increase in the amount paid into the Exchequer, they had good grounds for supposing that the smuggler did not interfere, and that the revenue received the whole duty. The new Tariff, it was said, laid the protection duty as a general principle on foreign manufactured articles at 10 per cent. Many exceptions to that rule existed; and he hoped lace would be one. The noble Lord could not deny that it was an article which chiefly employed women and children—he could not deny that it was an article which young persons manufactured, under the immediate eye of their parent, and yet he said that for the sake of having a row exhibiting the figure 10 from the top to the bottom, he would deprive these poor people of an amount of protection which had always added much to the revenne, and which had been proved not to interfere with the interests of any class whatever. He (Lord Stanley) could not consent to this exemplification of the case of uniformity on the part of his noble Friend. He could not consent to sacrifice everything that was connected with the interests of these people, for the sake of a Bill that would look pretty on paper. No case had been stated why the present amount of protection should be reduced; and as it was admitted that it was a case relating to an article of luxury, which gave employment to women and children, he asked his noble Friend—and, if he would not agree with him, he would ask the House—to act upon the principle which he had already applied to made-up cotton and woollen goods—that is 881 to say, not to reduce the duties levied on them without sufficient consideration given to the humble, but, to the operatives, not insignificant protection which was now afforded them.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
could only echo and repeat to their Lordships the adjuration of his noble Friend, to give to the present case the same amount of protection which they gave to made-up cotton and woollen goods—that was to say, 10 per cent ad valorem. But when his noble Friend said, on the authority of Mr. Deacon Hume, that a duty of 25 per cent would meet the case of the smuggler, of course he could not venture to impugn so high an authority as applied to former times; but unquestionably that was not the case now, because it was as notorious as the sun in the heavens, that there was no article whatever of foreign produce which could not, for an insurance of 20 per cent, be guaranteed to be delivered in London on the most respectable references to the best bankers.
was obliged to his noble Friend for the reference he had just made, because it enabled him to tell him how Mr. Deacon Hume went on in his argument. He admitted all that the noble Earl had said; but he went on to say that the risk of loss on the part of the smuggler was so much greater, that it was always worth the while of the merchant to pay 25 per cent to the Government rather than 20 per cent to the smuggler; so that, if the duties were reduced to 25 per cent, the revenue would reap nearly the whole of the benefit. That was the continuation of the argument of Mr. Deacon Hume. As to the adoption of the same principle in this case that was laid down in the case of made-up cotton and woollen goods, his noble Friend seemed to be still haunted by his love of decimals. When he (Lord Stanley) referred to that case, he did not mean that their Lordships should adopt as the duty that was to be lowered, the figure 10. What he meant to say was this, that as the principle of protection had been admitted in the case of made-up cotton and woolen goods, because they were mainly the produce of the labour of women and children, therefore he called upon his noble Friend to apply, not his figures but his principle to the present case, and to admit that this also was an exceptional case to the ordinary cases that were now before their Lordships.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
thought Mr. 882 Deacon Hume could never have said anything so extravagant as that the same amount of per centage would put down the smuggler in every kind of trade, in light and easily concealed goods, as in heavy and bulky articles. Then, with regard to the question immediately before them, he could state as a Northamptonshire man, and as taking a great interest in the morals of the country, he would be bound to say that there was no employment in which any portion of the population was employed, which was less conducive to morality. Nay, he would go farther and say, that there was no employment which was more conducive to immorality on the part of the youthful female population of the country than this trade of lacemaking. It was not carried on exclusively in cottages; in many instances, females of all descriptions were congregated under one roof, at least that was the case in Northamptonshire, and he dared to say it was the same in Buckinghamshire; and the consequence was, that it conduced very much to immorality; and he would take the liberty of adding, that it made a very small addition to the earnings of a family, nay, it rather tended to a diminution of those earnings, because it totally unfitted the female portion of the population for any other employment.
§ The EARL of GALLOWAY
thought it was a very grievous thing in this country that parents were so apt, from a spirit of cupidity, to engage their children at very early years in the lace and flowering business, rather than send them to school. He had known girls, seventeen years old, who were totally ignorant of anything else except the manufacture of lace.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
contended, that if these were the sentiments of Earl Fitzwilliam and the Earl of Galloway, they ought to insist upon a total repeal of the duty, and thus put an end to the employment of females in this branch of trade altogether.
§ The EARL of GALLOWAY
said, that he had beeen a protectionist; but he had lately been looking more closely into the subject; because, seeing that those in whom he had placed confidence had changed their opinions, he had looked into the subject more minutely; and the consequence was, that he did not believe the removal of protection would have the effect which was ascribed to it by many Members of their Lordships' House.
§ Amendment negatived.883
§ On "Paper printed, painted or stained Paper, or Paper-hangings, or Flock-paper,"
§ LORD ASHBURTON
also opposed it, and said, all the paper stainers in the metropolis had either given notice that they would reduce the wages of their workmen on the passing of the Bill, or that they would retire from the trade altogether.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
said, he could only only meet that statement with a general denial. Masters might have taken advantage in some instances of this proposed reduction to reduce the wages of their workmen; but he denied that this was the universal practice, still less that the paper stainers were in a body retiring from the trade.
§ LORD ASHBURTON
admitted that perhaps he had been too general in his assertion; but reiterated his opinion that all the finer patterns, all the more tasteful designs, were entirely given up in London. Of this their Lordships might assure themselves from their own observation.
§ The item agreed to.
§ On the article Silk,
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
expressed the regret he felt that their Lordships had not last night agreed to the proposition which he made, that the silk weavers should be heard by counsel at the bar of their Lordships' House; and he regretted it the more, because he had not had time to look at the brief which had been put into his hands till that night, he having been engaged on a Committee all the morning. The article of silk was one on which the principles of free trade had unfortunately been formerly tried; and he was, therefore, not surprised that the advocates of free trade should not be fond of having this case now referred to; because it had happened that the reduction of the duties in 1824 had caused the ruin of many manufacturers, and had reduced wages to an enormous extent; so that the operatives had now hardly enough to support their families, and yet the master manufacturers had given notice that when this Bill passed their wages would be reduced still farther. To reconcile their Lordships to the abolition of the corn duty they had been told—most erroneously he knew, but he believed very conscientiously—that prices would be kept up; and in proof of this they were referred to farms in this and that county which were taken 884 at an increased rent, keeping out of view all the time what the landlords had agreed to do for those farms. Now, all he asked was, that the same principle should be applied to silk. Would they say that silk mills were worth nearly as much now as they were before? He had been told that the mill of Messrs. Kay and Co., at Tring, which had been erected at a cost of 30,000l., had been offered to one party at a rent of 200l. a year, and being by them rejected, had since been accepted by another party. He understood also that the Messrs. Brocklehurst had lately purchased six mills at one-fifth of their original cost. Then he might state that the beautiful silk mills of Mr. Throttle of Manchester, which were usually exhibited to distinguished strangers visiting that town, had been for some months standing still. But he expected his noble Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, would turn round and say it was impossible to argue from general principles with regard to such an article as silk, which depended so much on fashion. That was to say, that because silk was a fluctuating article, and depending upon fashion, that was a reason, forsooth, for reducing the amount of protection. He should rather consider this to be a reason for maintaining protection. The noble Earl (the Earl of Galloway) who told them he had been a protectionist, but that within the last few weeks he had been so quickly converted, had said that it would be better for their morals if the children employed in the lace cottages in Buckinghamshire were sent to school. But the noble Earl had forgot to tell their Lordships how the parents were to find the means of keeping them at school.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
The noble Lord said, by giving them cheap provisions. What does he mean by cheap provisions?
§ The EARL of GALLOWAY
By making the provisions of this country as much as possible accessible to the working classes at the wages they already have.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
There was the fallacy of a new convert. He told them that he would give cheap provisions; and then he (the noble Duke) asked him what he meant by cheap provisions—he let him into the trap, for he knew what he would say—he knew that the noble Lord had talked enough of political economy to talk of cheap bread; but he had forgotten to explain how they were to obtain cheap 885 bread with lower wages. The noble Earl told them of the ignorance of these classes, and to remedy this, he would send them into the cotton factories. There they would get schools, it was true; but he was not sure if he would not prefer the morals instilled into the minds of the young, in the rural villages of Buckinghamshire, to the education they would acquire at Manchester, especially when taken in connection with the scenes the young would witness when out in the streets. These petitioners stated in the first place, that Parliament had altogether mistaken the protection which Parliament intended to give them. Parliament proposed to give them a protection of fifteen per cent; but it was not fifteen per cent, upon the finer and less common articles, on which in most cases it only amounted to nine per cent. They laughed at the idea of his noble Friend, respecting smugglers; and if their language was strong, he would remind their Lordships that he was not a lawyer, and was, therefore, unskilled in the art of making that language more palatable to their Lordships. They said that the argument of smuggling, proceeded either from sheer folly, or intentional delusion; that it only required a registration of licensed traders, and the publication of the names of those who had in their shops smuggled goods, coupled with a bar to future registration, in order to put a stop to the smuggling of silk; because the silk dealers were not like persons who smuggled gin or tobacco, but were persons who would dread the idea of exposure. The gross annual value of exports of silk manufacture in this country was less by 2,000,000l. or 3,000,000l. sterling than it was some years ago; and it should be likewise remembered that a great portion of our export of silk to France was of a very coarse description, whilst none were imported from France but fabrics of a fine quality. A great deal had been said about the salutary effects the measure would have in the prevention of smuggling; but he did not think the present laws against that offence had been used with sufficient stringency or perseverance. He would not then weary their Lordships by further entering into the subject, but must again take leave to express his regret that before a measure so vitally affecting a large, useful, and loyal body of their fellow subjects, had been passed into a law, the prayer of their petition had not been granted, so that they might have had a full opportunity, through counsel, of laying 886 their case before their Lordships' House, in a far clearer and more satisfactory manner than could be otherwise done. For his part, he would take the sense of the House upon the subject whenever it came before it. He would always express his decided conviction that the silk-weavers had been denied a request which he could never think their Lordships would deny to any portion of the loyal operatives of this country. They had been taunted with advocating a prohibitory system: he denied that what they advocated, and would continue to advocate, was a fair and moderate protection to British industry. That principle, he would maintain, not merely in regard to agriculture, but to all classes of his fellow subjects, whether manufacturing or agricultural, for he thought he was thereby best consulting the interests of the Empire.
The EARL of DALHOUSIE
must object to the proposal of his noble Friend on the cross benches. He must again express his regret that he felt himself obliged to perform so ungracious a task as refusing to hear the silk weavers by counsel; but he resisted the Motion because it would sanction an erroneous principle, and establish a bad precedent—one which would be found most inconvenient to their Lordships, and which, if acted upon, would materially obstruct the course of public business. He must likewise say, he thought there was nothing in the case of the petitioners which any of their Lordships might not state to the House as fully and completely as the petitioners could desire; and, in point of fact, the noble Duke on the cross benches had done so in a manner which must be entirely satisfactory to the petitioners. As regarded the amount of duty, the petitioners alleged that while professedly they levied a duty of 15 per cent on foreign manufactured silks, they, in point of fact, only levied a duty of 9 per cent on many of the articles. He (the Earl of Dalhousie) admitted that might be true in the case of some articles; but it had arisen from the extreme difficulty of levying an equable duty. It had been found impossible to levy an ad valorem duty on such articles, because, in order to satisfy the revenue, the packages must be examined separately; a proceeding which would involve immense delay to the revenue officers—delay to the manufacturers, which might be most prejudicial, and not merely that, but the handling and tossing of the fine fabrics would be altogether destructive to 887 them. It had been proposed to levy a duty according to the weight; but this would be unjust, for the highest duty would thus be levied on the heaviest articles, which were also the coarsest and least valuable. Since 1826 a great change had taken place in the value of silks, and the Tariff upon it had been found most unjust, the duty frequently varying from 30 to 250 per cent; and, in fact, the strongest representations had been made by the ribbon manufacturers to the Board of Trade. They had endeavoured, therefore, as far as possible, to classify the articles, leaving the option of paying the duty either by weight or by value, but fixing on each class an average rate of duty, amounting to 15 per cent. He had reason to believe that this arrangement, which had been extended to ribbons, had proved satisfactory to the parties affected by it; and one reason why he had objected to hearing counsel at the bar was, that statements of minute matters of detail would not enable their Lordships to form a better judgment. In this, as in other cases, the modes of levying the duty were fixed by the knowledge and experience of the officers of the revenue, assisted by persons practically versed, but not interested, in the trades themselves. He believed that the present figures did represent an average duty of 15 per cent on the articles in the classes to which they were attached. He would pass to the other point of the petition—the past history of the silk trade. The petitioners declared that twenty years ago they had been brought under the operation of a system which gave admission to foreign articles, in a manner that brought ruin on a large portion of their class; and they protested against the Legislature proceeding any further in the same direction. It would be recollected that exactly the same language was used at the time the change was first proposed. Twenty years ago it was stated that the course of policy about to be entered upon would be entirely destructive of the silk trade; it was said that every one engaged in it would remove his capital from it, and that in two years after the passing of the Act it would be entirely at an end. How were they to judge of the fact whether the trade had been injured by those changes or not? If they found that capital had been withdrawn from it, that silk mills were not employed, that the importation of the raw material had diminished, that the export trade had disap- 888 peared, then they might pronounce the prophecies of those persons had been fulfilled. But if they found that the very reverse of all this had been the case—if they found that capital had not been withdrawn from the trade, that the import of the raw material had vastly increased, that the manufacture for the home market had been largely extended, while the export trade, in addition to the home market, had been extended in as great a proportion, then they must allow that the prophecies which had been adduced had proved erroneous, and that the prediction of the ruin of the trade had not been borne out by facts. A paper on the Table of the House gave a return of the raw silk imported from the close of the war to the year 1844. He would not go at length into those figures, which were in all their Lordships' hands, but would make a few observations serving to elucidate his argument. The silk trade might be divided into three heads—he meant that silk which was imported for manufacture. First, the actual raw material as it came from the worm; secondly, the waste, consisting of knubs and husks; and thirdly, the thrown silk, which might be said to have undergone the first process of manufacture. It had been objected that waste, knubs, and husks, ought not to be included in the account; but if labour and ingenuity coverted an article before worthless and waste into a fabric by no means inferior to articles formerly produced, they were entitled to the full credit to be derived from that article in computing the aggregate amount of the silk trade carried on. However, he would reject altogether the waste, knubs, and husks from his calculation. He would now estimate the progress of the silk trade by the surest of all tests, the importation of the raw material to be manufactured. In the ten years from 1814 to 1823, the quantity of raw silk imported was 15,200,000lbs.; in the ten years from 1824 to 1833, independently of these wastes, knubs, and husks, the quantity imported was 31,556,000lbs. It was in 1824 the great change in the silk trade took place; prohibition of foreign manufactures was entirely removed, and the duty on the raw material was reduced from 5s. 6d. to 1d. per pound, and on thrown silk from 14s. 1d. to 2s. 6d. per pound; yet, so far from the predicted ruin following, in the ten years after this great alteration, the import of the raw material rose from 15,200,000lbs. to 31,500,000lbs. In the next ten years 889 the importation further increased from 31,500,000lbs. to 37,400,000lbs., while the average annual entry of the raw material for home consumption had increased from about 1,500,000lbs. in the ten years preceding the reduction of duty, and under a system of high protection, to upwards of 4,000,000lbs. in 1844. With all these facts then staring their Lordships in the face, was it possible to sanction the allegation of the petitioners, that the alteration of the duties in 1824 had diminished the demand for the home manufactured article, and totally ruined the trade? Such had been the increase in the importation of the raw material; and if their Lordships would contrast its recent progress with its progress during the whole period in which the high system of protection existed, they would be better able to appreciate the force of his argument; because he begged to remind their Lordships that a system of prohibition and protection was by no means invariably maintained up to 1824, because previous to 1765, and for a period approaching to nearly 200 years before, there was only a very moderate duty. Well, it appeared from statistical works that the average annual consumption of the raw material in the three years 1765, 1766, and 1767, when the system of prohibition commenced, was about 360,000lbs., while last year the consumption amounted to no less than 4,021,000lbs. Seeing that the increase in the annual consumption of raw silk which had taken place in the twenty years of relaxed duties had not only been as great, but greater, than the increase which took place in the whole sixty years of prohibition and protection, to the extent of 600,000lbs., was it not impossible to give in their adhesion to the statement that that relaxation of duty had been a fatal injury to the trade of the silk weaver? He was sure he did not need to attempt, by statistical tables, to convince their Lordships that the consumption of the home manufactured article had greatly increased within the last twenty years. And now he would advert to a point which had been stated by the noble Duke on the cross benches, who said he knew he would be met by the President of the Board of Trade by the statement that the silk trade depended on the fashions; and from that the noble Duke sought to draw an argument that protection ought to be reserved. He (the Earl of Dalhousie) took the very contrary ground. The result of the proceedings of 1824 had entirely overturned 890 that argument. In consequence of the system of prohibition, the cost of the manufactured article previous to 1824 was so high that it was entirely reserved for the richer classes to use it. The consequence was, that, as among the higher classes the changes of fashion were the most frequent and capricious, the alterations in the condition of those engaged in the manufacture was constant and violent. They would find the trade at one time in a flow of the highest possible prosperity, and, all at once, in consequence of a change in the fashions throwing a particular article out of demand, the operatives would be found in a state of entire destitution. But what followed upon the reductions which took place in 1824? Owing to foreign competition and to improved processes of manufacture in this country, the price of the article had been greatly reduced; so that the use of the article, which was formerly restricted to the higher classes, was extended over all classes of the community. Their Lordships were familiar with the fact that it was now as common for a maid servant to wear a silk gown as it was twenty-five years ago to wear a cotton one; and the consequence was, that the trade was not subject to so many fluctuations, and that the employment of those engaged in the manufacture was not subject to so many alterations. He next came to the export trade, in reference to which he would not go into detail, but merely give a summary. He found that the average annual value of manufactured silk during periods of four years, was as follows:—From 1826 to 1830, 289,000l.; 1831 to 1835, 690,000.; 1836 to 1840, 771,000l.; 1841 to 1844, 709,000l.; and in 1845, 764,000l. All this showed that the silk trade had not been injuriously affected by the alterations in 1824. He begged to observe, too, that the exports would have been still more largely increased but for the fact that it had been checked by the impossibility of obtaining a sufficient supply of the raw material. It was well known that we had hitherto drawn our supply of the raw material principally from France, Italy, and India alone; but now that we had the China market open to us in addition, he had no doubt that in the course of a very few years there would be a large increase in the import of the raw material, and consequently an increase in the home manufacture, and also in the export trade. A great deal was said on this question about the importation from 891 France; but he begged to remind their Lordships that we actually exported silks to France; and, considering that France was the native country of the raw material lished the case he had attempted to prove, itself—that it had taken great pains to keep the raw material to itself—that it was also the native country of manufactured silk—that they had long been, and still were, though he hoped they would not long be, ahead of us and all other nations in beauty of fabric and design—the very fact of our exporting any silk goods at all to France was in itself a triumph, and equivalent to foreign nations exporting coals to Newcastle. Nor was he prepared to admit that we exported merely the coarsest kinds of fabrics. He had it upon the authority of a person extensively engaged in the silk trade, that our exports consisted of different descriptions of silk goods. The noble Duke had not adverted to another argument; but he (Lord Dalhousie) had seen it stated, in newspapers and elsewhere—as a proof of the ruin which had fallen upon the silk manufacture—that the population of Spitalfields had greatly decreased in number since 1824. Admitting that the population of Spitalfields had decreased, he denied that that afforded any proof of the adverse state of the silk manufacture. That story began long ago; and this very reduction of the population was one of the injurious consequences of the system of protection, because it arose originally out of what was known as the Spitalfields Act, the object of which was to fix the rate of wages each man should receive; and these Acts having been found oppressive in their operation by the workmen, who desired to make what they could of their industry, but were prevented by the state of the law—they naturally emigrated from Spitalfields to other parts of their country, just as people emigrated from this country to countries where they could more profitably apply their labour. Previous to 1824 the silk manufacture was restricted to one or two places; but since then it had extended to Manchester, Norwich, Paisley, Macclesfield, Derby, Leigh, and many other places in the country. Now, with respect to wages. His noble Friend had said that wages had been greatly reduced. But it was not correct to take into account the amount of money paid in wages for particular work done as a proof that wages had been reduced; because where improved machinery, for instance the jac- 892 quared loom, was employed, it admitted of doing a greater quantity of work than could be produced by hand labour; but although the weaver might not receive so much wages for the same quantity of work by machine labour as he would for hand labour, yet from the additional quantity produced in a shorter space of time, the deficiency of wages was thereby made up. Machinery was not, however, in universal application in the manufacture of silk—the great proportion was handloom weaving. And if it were to be taken for granted that where a reduction of wages took place that the trade must be a failing one, they must arrive at the same conclusion in regard to every other weaving trade, more particularly in such trades as handloom weaving was carried on. Their Lordships might recollect that a Commission had been issued a few years ago to inquire into the subject of the handloom weavers; and in the Report which they had returned, it was stated that it was not by foreign competition that wages had been reduced, but by competition amongt the weavers themselves. The handloom weaving was easily learned, and recommended itself more particularly to the workmen from the facilities it afforded them of working in their own houses, where they were entirely independent of the factory regulations, The employment, therefore, was attractive; and in every department of weaving carried on by handloom the competition was enormous. The result was disadvantageous, but was an evil to devise remedies for which had baffled the ingenuity of Parliament; and if a remedy was to be found, that remedy certainly would not consist in the exclusion of foreign competition. Nevertheless, the trade was liable to great scarcity of hands at times. He would read a few extracts from the Factory Reports returned during the last few years. In 1843, it was stated in the reports of Factory Commissioners that the millowners of Derby could not find hands enough to supply the demand for manufactured goods. In March, 1844, additional mills were built, and additional workmen employed. In 1845, in the silk districts, hands were very scarce; and where children were employed half time, they received as much wages as when formerly obliged to work ten hours. Their Lordships were aware that since the 16th of March last, by means of a Treasury Order, the whole of the articles of silk manufacture since then imported into this kingdom had been admitted under the duties 893 which it was proposed to enact by this Bill; and to show the effect it had had, he would read a return of all the manufactured silks imported into this country during the four corresponding months of 1844, 1845, and 1846. He found that in the four months ending the 5th of May, 1844, there were 127,000 lbs. weight; during the same period of 1845, it was 129,500 lbs.: and in the same period of the present year it was 158,000 lbs., which showed a considerable increase. As to the raw material imported during the same four months of the three years mentioned, it was as follows:—In 1844, 912,000lbs.; in 1845,1,617,000 lbs.; in 1846,1,906,000 lbs.; which showed an increase in the raw material of full 100 per cent. Here at least there was no injury to the silk trade. He would next refer to the case of the throwsters, or people who were engaged in twisting the raw material into thread, who had objected to the introduction of thrown silk into this country at a reduced duty, lest it should prove ruinous to their trade. On foreign thrown silk the duty had been reduced from the year 1824, when it was 14s. 7d., till it had come down to 2s. and 1s. He would wish to inquire by the quantities imported during an average decimal period of years, whether the reduction of duty had had that effect. He found that the average annual importation—
Therefore, there had been a great diminution of importation. This was under the law of last year, when the duty was very much reduced; now it was entirely repealed, and during the first four months of the years 1844, 1845, and 1846, the importations of raw and thrown silk were as follows:—
From 1814 to 1823 was 360,000 lbs. 1824 to 1833 387,000 lbs. 1834 to 1844 265,000 lbs.
Which distinctly proved that no injury had been inflicted upon the throwsters by admitting thrown silk at a reduced duty; for whilst the importation of the raw material had enormously increased, the importation of thrown silk had hardly increased at all. Therefore he thought the conclusion was inevitable of the perfect capacity of the trade to compete with the foreigner in thrown silk, as well as in the fabrics of silk. With 894 respect to the state of the parties themselves engaged in the trade under this system, he had taken every pains to obtain information from all parts of the country; and he could assert that in every part of the country there never was a time when, taken as a whole, the trade was in a greater state of prosperity and more full employment, notwithstanding the admission of foreign thrown silk and the foreign manufactured article, than now. In Spitalfields tickets had been put up in many places advertising for hands to any amount; and he was told that in the mills those masters who wanted thrown silk for use in manufacturing, could not get it as fast as they wanted it. Why, on the very evening that his noble Friend was originally about to bring forward this petition, about a fortnight ago, a meeting of the velvet weavers (who constituted the greater portion of the silk weavers of Spitalfields) was held to consider whether they should not demand an increase of wages. They had demanded that increase; and it was at once acceded to by many of the masters. He insisted that in every species of silk goods consumption had been greatly extended; that the export trade had increased nearly threefold; that the quantities of the manufactured article had been increased in proportion as the admission of foreign goods was made unrestricted; that the importation of the raw material had increased 100 per cent this year, as compared with the corresponding period in the last year; and that the throwsters, whose branch of the trade had been affected by the proceedings of last year, and who would be still more affected by the proceedings of this year, were in a better position than they had ever been in before; and that all these were cogent reasons why their Lordships should agree to the proposition of Her Majesty's Government.
1844 Raw Silk 912,000 lbs. — Thrown 135,000 lbs. 1845 Raw Silk 1,600,000 lbs. — Thrown 157,000 lbs. 1846 Raw Silk 1,906,000 lbs. — Thrown 136,000 lbs.
had often heard it said, that anything might be proved by figures; and certainly, knowing the ability of his noble Friend who had just sat down; knowing also the immense advantages which he had from his command of documents and papers inaccessible to their Lordships; and information moreover which he must have received from authentic sources—he was not surprised at the effect produced upon their Lordships by the statements of the noble Lord. And yet he had the presumption to think that before he sat down he would be able to show that his noble Friend had not in any way estab- 895 or rather the case which he ought to have attempted to prove—namely, that there was either in the present or in the past condition of the British silk trade any ground for the great reduction of duties which had been proposed by Her Majesty's Government. If his noble Friend had proved anything it was this—that our silk trade was at the present moment in a most thriving condition—that our importations and our revenue, and our exports, had gone on largely increasing, and, consequently that the trade was in a condition in which a prudent Government would say, "In God's name let us leave this prosperous state of things undisturbed." But when his noble Friend had attempted to prove what he (Lord Stanley) thought he had not succeeded in proving, that our silk trade was at present in a most prosperous condition in consequence of the adoption of the free-trade principle, had not his arguments upon that point completely negatived his statement with respect to the prevalence of smuggling? His noble Friend had gone on to state, that, in his opinion, the proposed reduction of duties would not injure the producer in this country. Now, first of all, he (Lord Stanley) differed from his noble Friend as to his facts; he also differed from him as to the effect produced by the change of 1824, in the prosperity of our silk trade; and he differed from him more especially upon a point which he ought to have proved, or else he had proved nothing—namely, that the results which he had stated had been brought about, not by a diminution of the duty on the raw material, but by a concurrent diminution of the duty on the manufactured article. No man could doubt that the removal of duties on a raw material would naturally lead to a great increase in the consumption of that raw material; and he certainly was not surprised that after the changes of the year 1824 there had been a considerable increase in the importation of the raw material into this country. But that increase had not been so great as his noble Friend would have their Lordships suppose; and, moreover, the increase had not taken place at the time, or in the manner, or to the extent, which his noble Friend would lead them to believe. His noble Friend had been extremely ingenious in the statement he had made to the House; and by any one who had not looked into the facts of the case before, he could easily understand that the statement of his noble Friend would be accepted as nearly conclusive. What had 896 his noble Friend told their Lordships? He had said, "Look to decennial periods—I will not trouble the House with the details of particular years—but look to the immense improvement which has taken place in decennial periods. In the ten years before 1823, the average importation was 1,520,000 lbs., while in the year 1844 the importation was 4,021,000 lbs." That certainly sounded exceedingly well. But he hoped his noble Friend would not be offended if he addressed to him the words—"Now mark how a plain tale will put thee down." He (Lord Stanley) also would show the average increase of importation in a series of years before the alteration of the duties, as contrasted with the average increase in a series of years after the alteration; and that, he thought, would be a fairer test of the advantages of the change than that to which his noble Friend had had recourse. He would take an average of three years, and not an average of ten years. He found that the average importation of the three years 1815, 1816, and 1817, of the raw material, had amounted to 1,388,000 lbs.; the average importation of the three years 1818, 1819, and 1820, had amounted to 1,844,000 lbs.; and the average importation of the three years 1821, 1822, and 1823, had amounted to 2,325,000 lbs.; and in 1824 it was 3,884,000 lbs. There had, therefore, been an increase before the principle of free trade came into operation from 1815 to 1824 — a decennial period — from 1,388,000 lbs. to 3,884,000 lbs. The duties were reduced on the 1st March, 1824. An increase had thus taken place, in the three triennial periods which he had mentioned, in the importation of the raw material of about 1,000,000 lbs. each. He found that in the year 1824, in which the change of duties had been effected, the importation of raw and thrown silk had amounted to 3,800,000 lbs.; and that the importation in 1844 had amounted to 4,400,000 lbs.; which did not give an increase of 1,000,000 lbs. in six years; but an increase of 800,000 lbs. in the course of twenty years under Mr. Huskisson's measure. So much for his noble Friend's decennial periods, and the results of the measure of 1824. But his noble Friend had gone on to state what he admitted to be true, that there had been a very large increase in another article of manufacture; and he boasted that our manufacturers had achieved a great triumph of skill by converting an article which had previously been "a waste" 897 into a beautiful manufacture. Now he (Lord Stanley) said that, whatever they might do with those knubs and husks, it had nothing whatever to do in the calculation of the increase in the silk trade. Had their Lordships ever seen these knubs and husks? He thought there were many of their Lordships that had not, and therefore he would take leave to show them to them. [The noble Lord here produced a small parcel, from which he took three small bundles, and then proceeded.] Here was a beautiful article that was called Italian silk, and worth from 20s. to 27s. a pound; here was another description of silk, but of an inferior quality, and worth only from 10s. to 12s. per lb.—it was called Bengal silk; and here, said the noble Lord [producing a bundle which somewhat resembled undressed flax], "is the valuable article which goes by the name of knubs and husks; this article is worth from 6d. to 10d. per pound—which you must take into consideration when you are told to look at the amount of the gross weight of your importations." In the year 1824, the total importation of raw silk, thrown silk, knubs and husks, had amounted to 4,000,000 lbs.; and in 1844, it amounted to 6,200,000 lbs., showing a total increase of 2,200,000 lbs. But out of that increase the increase in knubs and husks had amounted from 133,000 lbs. in 1824, to 1,775,000 lbs. in 1844; so that out of the increase of 2,200,000 lbs. there had been an increase to the amount of more than 1,500,000 lbs. in the article of knubs and husks. Now, when they endeavoured to estimate the advantages of the silk trade, they ought not to consider its amount in mere pounds weight, but they ought to look to the amount expended by the making up of the article. These knubs and husks were worked up into coarse yarns, or were used for mixing with and adulterating the already inferior Bengal silk in making "bandannas" which were exported principally to France. A mixture of equal quantities of Bengal silk, and of "waste" silk, would be worth about 5s. 6d. per pound; and the value of the article manufactured from that mixture was about 7s. 6d. per pound; that was to say, there would be left for the manufacturer of that article in this country a balance of about 2s. per pound. Whereas the Bengal, when worked up by itself, would produce a value of 20s., leaving a profit on employment to the amount of 10s. or 12s. The Italian silk, though it would cost from 27s. to 30s. in 898 the pound when manufactured, would produce an article worth from 60s. to 70s., which would leave a balance in favour of employment, not of 2s., nor of 10s., but of from 30s. to 40s. He asked, then, were they to be told that it was a matter of indifference what description of silk should be introduced into this country, provided only it produced employment, without any regard to the profit which might arise from that employment? When they got ten times the employment and ten times the remuneration for the labour of one article which they got by the labour of another article, should it then be a matter of indifference whether the article consisted of rubbish or of a finer description? But when they began to deal with the question — when they looked at the exports of the manufactured goods, and compared them with the imports of the foreign silk manufacture, they were told to look at the imports of the raw material, and that was adduced as an argument to show how much was consumed; but let him say, that the amount of consumption depended altogether on the description of raw material. He had already shown their Lordships that there had been a large increase before 1824; but that, comparatively speaking, there had been but a small increase between 1824 and 1844. He stated the other night, that, on the whole, the trade had not materially increased in the last fifteen years. The exports, as stated by the noble Lord, since 1826, after a great deduction of duties, no doubt had increased; but let the noble Lord show him (Lord Stanley) any other branch in which there had not been a much larger increase: take, for instance, the cotton trade, the woollen trade, and in any or either of these they would find a larger increase than they would discover in the exports of the silk trade. The noble Lord considered it as a triumph that they sent goods to France; but what was the fact? The greatest proportion was manufactured from this rubbish, which he had shown them. The noble Lord did admit that a great part of the exports to France consisted of an inferior article produced from an inferior description of waste silk; indeed the whole of the exports to France, in which the noble Lord prided himself, were composed of an inferior article—a cheap description of goods; and were it not for that description of exports to France, the exports of silk would have been very considerably diminished within the last two 899 years. He said, then, it did not bear in the slightest degree on the argument, when they came to discuss the question of competing with the French producer of an article, inasmuch as they sent to them that which they never dreamt of making up at all. There was a great disparity in this reciprocity. They sent them that which was produced from an inferior material, while they took from them an article of a higher priced description. He could not exactly state what the value of the goods might be; but it was a well-established fact, that the imports consisted of the finest class of goods. In 1826 the quantity for the home consumption was only 48,000 lbs., while in 1827 it was 115,000 lbs.; and it had been rising since, until the imports of French goods had risen from 115,000 lbs. of waste to 310,000lbs. in 1845; while our export trade had been almost stationary. Our exports of raw material were trifling; but the imports of the foreign manufacturer, of the highest value and of the most expensive description, had greatly increased — as he said before, from 115,000 lbs. to 310,000 lbs. He said, therefore, upon the very face of this, there appeared no evidence that our trade was on the increase: there was no evidence to prove that any material increase had taken place in consequence of Mr. Huskisson's measure of 1824, though he admitted that the taking off the duty of the raw material did tend to effect an increase; but no proof had been adduced to show that we could compete with the French importer, and who sent us the more important article; and there were far less grounds to show us that we ought to reduce the existing duties on silk by one-half—and this was the proposition which was brought forward by Her Majesty's Government. His noble Friend had stated that it had been impossible for our manufacturers to obtain silk fast enough for their purposes; and to that cause he attributed the stagnation in the trade. Now, he held in his hand a circular of undoubted authority which was drawn up by a well-informed and experienced person in London, in which circular there was given the stock of imported raw silk in hand on the 1st of January last, when it amounted to 15,720 bales. The previous year it was 13,000, the year before 11,00, the year before that 12,000, and on preceding years 11,000, 12,000, and 10,000; but since 1838 there was not so large a stock on hand as there was on the 1st of January, 1846. He be- 900 lieved there were only three years since the year 1830 when the stock had been larger than on the 1st of January, 1846; and yet his noble and learned Friend told them that it was only the exhaustion of the foreign supplies that prevented a greater amount of manufactures being prepared in that country. His noble Friend had not brought forward very prominently the question of smuggling as a ground for the reduction of the duty; but on a former occasion it was stated that it did appear, from the returns of the French customhouses, that a much greater quantity of silk was shipped for England than was received there, and that, therefore, there must have been a great amount of smuggling. Now, although he did not mean to deny that smuggling took place, he believed that there was less "running" of silk goods than of any other article; and their admission took place through the instrumentality or connivance of their own custom-house officers, who permitted them to pass without payment of duty. He held in his hand a return of the committals and convictions for smuggling in the year ending 1845; the number was 755; and of course it was to be presumed that a large proportion of these must have been for smuggling silk from France. Of these 755,538 were for smuggling tobacco, 176 for smuggling spirits, 31 for smuggling tea; and the total number for smuggling silk was 10 out of 755 persons. He could only suppose that the officers of the Customs were equally vigilant with regard to silk as other articles; and if the same amount of smuggling took place in silk as in the articles of tobacco and spirits, the number of offenders would have been in proportionate amount. He did not, however, believe, that there had been a great amount of silk goods run. Since his noble Friend had last spoken, he (Lord Stanley) had referred to the evidence of Mr. Deacon Hume, and he found that Mr. Hume had fixed an average of 25 to 30 per cent as the amount of duty which might fairly be imposed without the risk of encouraging smuggling. In 1832 Mr. Deacon Hume expressed his opinion on the subject of silk, and he stated that as the maximum for protection and the minimum for smuggling—would encourage smuggling. Therefore, so far as Mr. D. Hume might be considered an authority, there was no ground for the reduction of duty now proposed. He did not mean to enter into any details which should have been given to their Lordships 901 by the agents themselves. But what did the silk manufacturers complain of? They said, and they had said so to himself, while you profess to give them nominally a duty of 15 per cent, practically you only give a duty of 7½ per cent, or 8 per cent, or perhaps 9 per cent—and not as you state 15 per cent. In all former statutes and tariffs there was a distinction observed as to silks, gauzes, velvets, and so on, which was not the case in the present Tariff. In the Tariff of 1842 the duty on plain silk was 11s. the lb.; on figured silk 15s. the lb. They reduced these now, but on what principle? They reduced the figured and plain silk to the same level of 5s.—that is, while they professed to give a protection of 15 per cent, they reduced both to 5s.—5s. was not a protection of 15 per cent to any description of goods. He (Lord Stanley) had a case brought before him that morning which he should mention. There were 24 pieces of silk, amounting to 444 yards, which weighed 50 lbs; the value of this was 170l.; it was a valuable description of silk, although but plain, worth 7s. 9d. a yard. Upon that a duty of 15 per cent would be 25l. 10s.; but the duty being taken by the weight, that being the mode now proposed to levy the duty according to weight, instead of its being 25l. 10s., it would be only 12l. 13s. 10d., which would be a duty of 7½ per cent, instead of 15 per cent. If that had been brocaded silk, the expense would have been still greater and the duty higher. Now when his noble Friend made an average of silks, satins, and velvets, he wanted to know why he had departed from the system with regard to ribbons alone, and why they had been excluded from the system of averages? His noble Friend had told them that while the measure was in progress a deputation had waited on the Board of Trade, headed by Mr. Ellis, the Member for Coventry, and had shown that a protecting duty of 5s. on the pound was not equal to 15 per cent. They showed further that with regard to ribbons a different system of classification should be adopted, and accordingly the duty on ribbons was raised from 5s. to 6s. per lb. upon plain ribbons, 8s. per lb. upon plain satin ribbons, and 10s. upon silk or satin ribbons, striped or figured, brocaded, or of more than one colour. Why was that discriminating duty to be kept up with regard to the ribbons of Coventry? The noble Lord must have been induced to comply by some powerful persuasion; he must have 902 been induced to depart from his principle of uniformity by some great influence. He abandoned his duty of 5s.; but more than that, he abandoned so far his principle of uniformity. But he would now on this subject refer to the amount of wages and employment. From 1826 to 1832, they had it in evidence that a large and progressive decrease had taken place in the number of spindles which were employed, and there was also an increase in the number of mills and spindles which began to stand still; also the accounts he had received from private individuals were at variance with the statements of the noble Lord, who mentioned to the House that all hands were now fully employed, and that there was also a considerable rise in wages, and that this rise was going on; but he (Lord Stanley) was informed that, with the exception of one article in the silk trade, and that one article was figured velvets, there was a very material decrease in wages. On that one article the highest duty was paid, a duty of 1l. 7s. 6d., and which produced the highest wages; but the present measure must affect the wages of labour on that article, as the duty was to be reduced from 1l. 7s. 6d. to 9s. a lb. First, they were going to reduce that duty which, according to Deacon Hume's calculation, should be 30 per cent, to 15 per cent; and next, they reduced this duty of 1l. 7s. 6d. to 9s.: that is, they made a reduction equal to two-thirds. It might effect the desired object, but it did not so appear to him. He was assured, and he was assured of it in opposition to the statement of the noble Lord, that in the silk trade wages had fallen, and that they were falling in Macclesfield as well as in other places; and this he could have proved to their Lordships, had they not refused to bear counsel and evidence by which those facts would be proved one way or the other. The noble Lord had also stated that this measure would give an immense impetus to the silk trade. Was that so? On the contrary, there had been a decrease in the wages paid to those employed. In London, the reduction had been from 1s. 2d. to 1s. a day. Although he could hardly agree in the opinion that great advantages would be derived to the trade from the free introduction of the raw material, yet though it were so admitted, the principle was fully reconcilable with the doctrine of protection—it was a part of protection; for one principle of protection was, to obtain the raw material as cheaply as possible, and to place as high a duty as possible on 903 the competing article of foreign manufacture. But that was not the question now; no reduction could take place on the raw material, as it came in perfectly free of duty; that was the case, while he thought a duty even on the raw material would increase the silk manufactures of this country. He had shown their Lordships that the foreign imports were increasing, while the exports to foreign countries were in a measure at a stand-still. How were they called upon to meet that state of things? They were called on to meet it by the blessings of an increased competition. They were called on to meet it, not by giving greater facilities, or protection to native industry, but rather by diminishing the one and retarding the other. They were about to diminish that protection under which the silk manufacturing operatives had prospered. By diminishing that protection, they would encourage the import of foreign goods, and thus incapacitate our silk manufacturers at home to maintain that position which hitherto they had occupied. This alteration in the Tariff was not called for by public policy: it was not founded in wisdom, it was not based on justice, nor had it been decided by argument; and he would only add, although it might be an inferior and a very unimportant consideration, by reducing the duty one-half there would be a great reduction in the revenue derived from these imports, which at the present moment produced an annual revenue of 323,000l.
§ On Question, House divided:—Contents 50; Not-Contents 75: Majority 25.
§ The Schedule was then agreed to, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Bill reported without amendment.
§ House adjourned.