HL Deb 12 July 1861 vol 164 cc772-4

THE EARL OF CARNARVON rose to ask the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies a question of which he had given him private notice. It would be in the recollection of their Lordships that three or four months ago a tariff called "the Morrill Tariff" came into operation in the Northern States of America. This tariff was thought, and not without reason, to be in antagonism to the interest of both the Southern and the great North Western States, and generally perhaps to the interests of the United States. That was a question on which, of course, he would not enter—but the tariff also acted most unfavourably upon British and Canadian interests. A large quantity of goods was annually sent from this country to Portland, in the State of Maine, to be conveyed thence by railway into Canada. These goods were sent by railway under bond, and until the introduction of the new tariff no inconvenience had been ex- perienced. Under the provisions of the Morill Tariff, however, he understood that all packages were opened at the Custom House at Portland, the contents were examined, and the threads of cotton and linen goods were counted as carefully as though a duty had to be levied upon them. This necessarily caused great delay, and in many instances had led to great loss. It was true that the great bulk of the Spring goods which would be exported to Portland this season had left that port before the tariff came into operation; but he understood that there were now lying there several cargoes which had not been examined, and consequently upon which much loss had been incurred. It was, however, of importance that the attention of the Government should be called to this subject, because it was well known that during many months of the year the river St. Lawrence was closed and all the goods which were exported to Canada were sent by Portland and the railroad to British territory. He should be glad to know from the noble Duke, Whether the Government had received any information of the facts which he had stated, and whether, if the inconvenience which he had referred to had really been experienced, any representations would be made to the Government of the United States upon the subject?


said, it was not in his power to afford any information to his noble Friend on the matter to which he had referred, nor did he think that, for some time, communications could be made with the Governor General of Canada upon the subject; but as his noble Friend had intimated to him that he intended to put this question to him he had endeavoured to ascertain whether any measures had been adopted relative to the Morrill Tariff and been made known to any Department of the Government, and with that view he had communicated with the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade, but all he had been able to learn was that no representations had been made to the Board of Trade by merchants or others interested in the American trade. He was unable to say whether the anticipations of his noble Friend opposite were correct; all he could say was, that if the inconveniences of which the noble Earl complained really existed, and were such as could be removed by representations to the United States' Government, Her Majesty's Government would not be backward in making such representations; but, at the same time, he thought his noble Friend would perceive that these were evils which were certain to correct themselves; and he could not but hope that the Untied States' Government would become convinced of the objections to this tariff, and would themselves, and in their own interest, make all the alterations that were required.