§ House in committee on the Customs' Acts.1388
§ On the question that there be a duty of 5 per cent, ad valorem on all cotton manufactures imported from British possessions,
§ Mr. Mangles
proposed the substitution of a duty of 3½ per cent. He grounded his proposition on the condition of the cotton manufactures of the East Indies, as he had stated to the House on the previous evening. As the manufacturers of India had been ruined in their own markets, this country ought in justice not to impose so high a duty on their productions here.
said the difference proposed was so slight, and the object so minute, as to be scarcely worthy so much attention as had been bestowed upon it. The proposed change would not make a difference of 50l. a-year to the India trade.
§ Dr. Bowring
entreated the right hon. Gentleman to make this small concession. It was a step in the right direction, and would, he was sure, give general satisfaction both in this country and in India.
§ Mr. W. Williams
said, they had other countries to compete with besides India, and unless the price of the necessaries of life was reduced to the French and German level he should not feel himself warranted in supporting the amendment. If the question went to a division, therefore, he should support the proposition of the Government.
§ Mr. F. Baring
would not raise the question of differential duties again, and the only point therefore for discussion was the amount. That question was not so trifling or microscopic as the right hon. Gentleman opposite seemed to think. The House of Lords' committee, of which Lord Ellen-borough, who had been selected by the Government as the person of their own party best acquainted with Indian affairs to undertake the government of that country, was the chairman, had recommended 3½per cent., and not 5 per cent. They stated moreover that the question was one of principle, and they recommended the removal from the schedule of duties of an inequality that served no purpose but to injure those against whose industry it was directed. He would support the amendment.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, 1389 that the question was, if differential duties were to be established in favour of the colonies, whether the rule should be applied to all our colonial possessions, or whether each colony should be dealt with upon a distinct principle. Unless the House were prepared to say that a distinctive rule should be applied to each particular colony it would negative the proposition of the hon. Gentleman opposite, which embodied that principle.
§ Mr. M. Philips
said, that on the part of the cotton manufacturers of this country he repudiated any desire for the proposed differential duty.
§ The committe divided, on the question that the blank be filled with "three pounds ten. shillings."—Ayes 42; Noes 56: Majority 14.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Mitchell, T. A|
|Aldam, W.||Morison, Gen.|
|Antrobus, E.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Astell, W.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Barclay, D.||Philips, M.|
|Baring, rt.hon. F. T.||Bundle, J|
|Barnard, E.G.||Scholefield, J|
|Bodkin, J.J.||Scott, R|
|Bowring, Dr.||Seymour, Lord|
|Brodie, W.B.||Sheppard, T|
|Brotherton, J.||Somerville, Sir W. M|
|Browne, hon.W.||Stansfield, W. R. C|
|Busfield, W.||Stanton, W. H|
|Cobden, R.||Stuart, Lord J|
|Colborne, hn.W.N.R.||Thornley, T|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Vivian, J. H|
|Fielden, J.||Watson, W. H|
|Guest, Sir J.||Wood, C|
|Hawes, B.||Wood, G. W.|
|Marsland, H.||Mangles, R. D|
|Masterman, J.||Hume, J|
|List of the NOES|
|Barring ton, Visct.||Gladstone,rt. hn.W.E|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Gore, M|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H|
|Cockburn,rt.hn.Sir G.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J|
|Connolly, Col.||Grimsditch, T|
|Cripps, W.||Halford, H|
|Darby, G.||Hamilton, W. J|
|Denison, E.B.||Hampden, R|
|Dickinson, F.H.||Hervey, Lord A|
|Douglas, Sir C.E.||Humphery, Mr. Ald|
|Duncombe, hon.O.||Jackson, J. D|
|Eaton, R. J.||Knatchbull,rt.hn.Sir E|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Lascelles, hon. W. S|
|Eliot, Lord||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Escott, B.||Lockhart, W|
|Forbes, W.||Mackenzie, T|
|Fuller, A.E.||Mackenzie, W. F|
|Gaskell, J.M.||Master, T. W. C|
|Milnes, R.M.||Rushbrooke, Col|
|O'Brien, A.S.||Smyth, Sir H|
|Palmer, G.||Somerset, Lord G|
|Patten, J.W.||Stewart, J|
|Peel, J.||Sutton, hon. H. M|
|Polhill, F.||Vernon, G. H|
|Pollington, Vise.||Williams, W|
|Pusey, P.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Freemantle, Sir T|
|Round, C.G.||Pringle, A|
§ Blank filled with "five pounds."
§ On the question that 12l. 10s. ad valorem be imposed on damask, and 5d. the square yard on damask diaper.
§ Mr. S. Wortley
objected to this reduction. It was true that, generally speaking, the linen trade needed little or no protection, but still, if any branches of the trade were placed in different circumstances from the others, it would be but right to make some allowance for those branches. This indulgence had been granted to a particular branch of the iron trade. The parties on whose behalf he addressed the committee did not ask for a prohibitory duty; on the contrary, they did not object to a considerable reduction, but they were of opinion that a reduction of 50 per cent, in the existing duty was was as much as should be made with safety, and with that they would be satisfied. The proposed reduction of from 40 to 15 per cent, was more than the branches he referred to could contend with. In Belgium the raw material was grown, and France and Germany could add to their home stock at a cheaper rate than could be effected in this country. It should also be taken into consideration that the suffering class of handloom weavers were the persons who would be most materially affected by the proposed reduction. Under these circumstances, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider his proposition.
did not think the proposed reduction could be considered too great. The proposed duty was on the whole a fair one, and afforded as much protection as was compatible with the general principles of the tariff. As to the arguments drawn from a reference to Belgium, France, and Germany, he thought it was better to draw deductions from what had already taken place, and what was warranted by experience, than from future prospective suppositions. Though Belgium produced the raw material, its 1391 import of linen yarn from this country was considerable. Germany sent but little in the way of linen to this country, and even that little was principally fancy goods. There were, therefore, no signs of dangerous competition, nor did he see any reason why an exemption from the principle which governed the tariff generally should be made in favour of this article.
§ Proposed duties agreed to.
§ On the question that the duty on cotton, or waste of cotton wool, the cwt., be 2s. 11d.
§ Dr. Bowring
said, that in rising to propose that the duty on cotton wool be repealed, he was only demanding the application of a principle universally recognised by political economists,—admitted by the Ministers—and sanctioned by almost universal opinion, that the raw materials we manufacture were not fit objects for taxation. And if this were a principle applicable to all such materials, how peculiarly did it apply to the raw material of our greatest and most important production— that which beyond all comparison employed the largest number of hands —the largest amount of capital, and upon which beyond any other hung the heaviest consequences of weal and woe. He wished to grapple at the very outset with the strongest objection which had been urged, or could be urged, against its repeal; namely, that it involved a sacrifice of a 640,000l. But the extent of the revenue was the extent of the grievance. The very amount— the enormous amount levied on this most extensive of our fabrics was in fact, the true ground of the complaint he had to put forward. If the impost was enormous in amount, the very heavy demand which it made upon industry, was the paramount reason for its reduction. The amount of the duty represents the interest involved in its reduction—and it cannot for a moment be urged that the matter is trifling in its character or its results—so that he had alike to claim the benefit of a general principle,—and was able to show that the violation of that principle by taxing such a raw material as cotton was attended with most disastrous consequences. If ever there were a moment when, more than any other, the exigences of the case were strong, and the necessity of the repeal peremptory, it was the present moment;—when the manufacturer was in such a state of depression—not to say despondency. The millions of capital 1392 involved were daily diminishing—the millions of human beings employed were daily falling into a worse condition. He would read to the committee a single passage, in a memorial to the right hon. the Prime Minister, from the spinners and manufacturers of Ashton and its neighbourhood, and he assured them that there was no exaggeration whatever in the statement,—that it was entitled to full credence and ought to make a strong impression:—That your memorialists are individuals having the whole or a greater part of their capital invested in cotton mills and machinery, and directly and deeply interested in the prosperity of the cotton trade in this important district.That this great branch of our national industry has been extremely depressed for a period quite unexampled in the history of commerce; and is, at the present moment, reduced to a condition which no language can possibly exaggerate.That the capital invested in this trade is rapidly decreasing, and in great danger of being annihilated,—that the privations and distress of the working classes are daily becoming greater and greater, and the means of employing them less and less,—and that their masters vainly struggling with their multiplied difficulties, view, with dismay, the moment approaching, when, unless relieved by some unlooked-for contingency, they will be inevitably compelled to throw large numbers of them for support upon the parish.Now, at the present prices of cotton wool, the duty levied by the State was estimated at from 6 to 7 per cent, on the raw material. Even in times of great prosperity, so high a duty would be a very serious burthen upon production; but in times of distress—in times when the severest struggle was going on to enable our manufacturers to maintain possession of foreign markets—such a duty became intolerable —such a duly gives an advantage to our rivals against which it is often difficult, sometimes impossible to contend. And in many articles, where the raw material forms the main cost of the manufacture, he should show, that the inroads of the articles from North America and elsewhere, were of the most alarming character. He begged to call the attention of the committee to the extremely unfair conditions under which the cotton manufacturers of Great Britain were compelled to enter on the field of competition. Was it right, that they who were the representatives of that production to which more 1393 than any other the greatness and the opulence of this country were due, should be selected, as it were, to bear burthens from which their -rivals were altogether, or almost wholly free? Look at France; she levied on all cotton imported from America, a duty of 20f. per 100 killogrammes; but she gave a privilege on all cotton imported from the Levant, and raised on that only I5f. per 100 killogrammes. But France gave a drawback of 25f. per 100 killogrammes, on all the cotton goods she exported, so that the French manufacturer had his raw material at something better than duty free. Now, on what ground of equity could the Goverment of this country levy 7 per cent, on raw cotton worked up by our manufacturers and then wonder that they suffered from this most disadvantageous position in which they were placed. For how did it operate in fact? He would show the committee the gradual increase of importation of cotton wool into France, and the still more proportionate increase in the exportation of cotton manufactures. In 1820, France imported of cotton wool 20,000,000 killogrammes; in 1830, 30,000,000; in 1840, 53,000,000. There was an increase of 160 per cent in twenty-one years in the consumption of the raw material. But now how much more striking—how much more rapid has been the increase of the exports of the manufactured article. In 1820, France exported of cotton manufactures to the value of 29,000,000f.; in 1830, it was 55,000,000f.; in 1840, it was 107,000,000f.; showing in twenty years an increase in exports of 78,000,000 of francs, or of 270 per cent in amount, and proving that the growth of the export trade was the principal source of the largely increased importation of the raw article. Not less striking was the progress of the import of the raw material, and the exports of cotton manufactures from the States of the Prussian commercial league. In 1833, the amount of raw cotton imported was 92,212 cwt. In 1836, it was somewhat more than doubled, and amounted to 187,858 cwt., and in 1840, it was 328,951 cwt., being an increased importation of 236,000 cwt. or 260 per cent. But the increased exports of cotton manufactured goods was far greater. For in 1833, it was only 23,324 cwt.; in 1836, it was only 84,273 cwt.; and in 1839, (the last year of which he had the official eturns), it was 107,766 cwt,, making an 1394 augmented exportation of 360 per cent. But did the Prussian States follow our example, and levy a duty of 7 per cent on cotton wool? Not they. The importation was free. In Switzerland, too, a country which nothing but the protective and prohibitory systems of other nations would ever have raised into manufacturing prosperity—a country whose adhesion to the great principles of free trade had enabled to overcome a thousand natural disadvantages and disabilities, in Switzerland, no duty was raised either on the import of cotton, or indeed of any other article, and we were met by the competition of Switzerland in all the markets of the world. In the United States still more alarming was the rivalry. There the manufacturer had the advantage of the adjacency of the raw material, and there it would be seen that the consumption of cotton has gone on with a most rapid and progressive increase. In the years 1827–30, the average growth of raw cotton in the United States was 870,000 bales, while the quantity consumed by their domestic manufacturers was 118,000 bales, or about one-eighth of the whole production, which in the years 1837–40, the average growth being 1,691,000 bales; the consumption by their manufacturers at home was 260,000 bales, being considerably more than one-eighth of the whole. In the same period even more striking has been the growth of the export trade, for while in 1830 it scarcely exceeded 1,000,000 of dollars in value; it amounted in 1840 to 3,549,000 dollars, of which three millions consisted of the article of domestics or white calicoes. Thus while the general increase of the consumption of raw cotton at home for all purposes of manufactures had in ten years amounted to about 100 per cent.; the exports of raw material had increased to the enormous extent of 250 per cent. In this state of things was it wise—was it prudent—was it in any respect justifiable to continue upon the manufacturers of this country so heavy and unequal a charge! Nor did any of the accounts from abroad add to the anticipation of brighter prospects. France was again proceeding in the spirit of restriction and of hostility he bitterly lamented. He never had understood the policy which had led to the alienation of France. He deeply deplored that unfortunate meddling with, the affairs of the East whose results had been 1395 in every way disastrous. But he did hope that in sacrificing the alliance of France to the vain and idle dream of establishing the sultan's authority, we had at least secured the friendship of Russia—who had so cordially, so naturally, and so sagaciously concurred in our policy; and that we should have seen in the covering of her tariffs, and in the extension of our trading relations with the dominions of the Tzar, some recompense for the alienated feelings of the French nation. Not so, however. Another Russsian tariff has just appeared; heavier duties; new protections; severer restrictions upon our trade; that, and that only, have we gained from Russia in return for our fraternal embraces. And even the Prussian league has shown symptoms of a disposition to increase the duties on our cotton manufacture. Some of the states have already applied for an augmentation of cent, per cent, upon our cotton twist. From the other side of the Atlantic, we are menaced with a large increase of duties—with new difficulties in that most important of all our foreign markets. In such a state of things, how could the right hon. Gentleman refuse to relieve the cotton manufacturer to the extent of that duty which was now in the receipt of the Treasury? He was sure no valid reason would be urged for its continuance. It would be far better that the property-tax should be increased than that the dangers which surrounded the greatest of our commercial and manufacturing interests should be allowed to undermine and destroy it. He therefore moved, that the duty on cotton wool be reduced to Id. per cwt.
§ Mr. M. Philips
seconded the motion. While the present duty continued he believed our cotton manufacturers would be placed every year in a worse condition than the preceding. He asked for the consideration of this question, because he believed, that the present duty placed the operative portion of the community in a worse position than the operatives in the United States and other countries. The charge for the raw material paid by the American manufacturers, did not exceed one half of the charge paid by the English manufacturers, who, besides, had to pay for a quantity of rubbish and waste, which was incorporated with the raw article. He asked not for protection, but he desired freedom, and he thought that instead of throwing away revenue from the 1396 timber duties, it would be more wise to give relief to the millions who suffered from the effects of the present duty on the import of raw cotton.
had no fault to find with the general principles on which the two hon. Members had founded their observations; but there were other considerations that made it necessary to levy the proposed duty. With regard to the reduction of the timber duties, it had this recommendation—its effects would be felt over almost the whole of the industrious population. If there existed a surplus revenue, and the House had now nothing to think of but to reduce duties, the question might assume a different shape; but unless the committee were prepared to open the whole financial arrangements of the year, and to make additions to the taxation in other directions, they could not agree to the proposed reduction of the duty which would deprive the revenue of 640,917l. That was the amount of duty levied on cotton wool in 1840. With respect to America, whose competition appeared so formidable to hon. Gentlemen opposite, it was worthy of remark, that apprehensions of a similar nature were felt in that country with respect to the competition of England, and fears were expressed in America, which possessed the raw material, that the English manufacturers, by their skill and machinery, would be able to undersell the American manufacturers in their own market. It appeared, from a report of a committee of Congress of the present year, that the American manufacturers complained of the cheapness of the English manufactured goods imported into America; and they were apprehensive that by mixing East India cotton, which could be obtained in England at a cheap rate, with a portion of American, the British manufacturers would drive the Americans out of their own market for coarse cottons.
§ Mr. Brotherton
supported the amendment. He conceived that the present duty operated most injuriously on the British manufacture; and he hoped, that whenever an opportunity occurred the Government would remove this tax altogether.
§ Mr. Humphery
was sure, that if this duty was taken off the labouring manufacturers would not receive a farthing benefit from it.
§ Mr. W. Patten
said, that looking to 1397 the tariff as a whole, he should support the proposition of the Government, though he did so with regret as to this particular article, and he hoped, that at an early period the duty would be removed.
§ Mr. Cobden
wished to know how this tariff, consisting of 750 articles, could be looked at except in detail; and when they did that they would say, that there was great wisdom in the right hon. Baronet's telling them, that it was to be taken as a whole, for on examining its parts, it would be found to fall wofully short of what the country had a right to expect from the magniloquent speech of the right hon. Baronet. Upon articles that entered largely into the consumption of the people the duties were not lessened, and why?— because, as it was said, the revenue would be affected. But had they not had the Income-tax in order that the duties on those great articles of consumption should be taken off? The present condition of the manufacturing class ought to be a signal to the aristocracy of this country. Bolton, Stockport, and Paisley were pauperized, and what were they to do with such a population? The right hon. Gentleman opposite said, the Americans were afraid of our competition. But what was the reason given by the Americans? They said, "We cannot compete with the pauper population of England."
§ Mr. P. Howard
supported the motion of the hon. Member for Bolton, which would, he conceived, afford almost instantaneous relief to the distressed hand-loom weaver and suffering artizan, from the impulse it would give to industry. The relief so given would not be at the cost of any British producer, it was not like the reduction of the duty on foreign grain coupled with a doubt as to the effect of the measure on the home-grower. Cotton was not the growth of English soil, and, consequently, its unrestrained admittance into British ports, did not involve any sacrifice from competition.
§ Mr. Fielden
said, there could not be a doubt, that this was a very impolitic tax. At the same time, he did not believe in free-trade doctrines, he denounced them altogether. He was one of those who thought, that taxation should be reduced, but that protection should be continued; for if it were abandoned, this would be one of the poorest countries in the world. As to the duty on this particular article, it amounted, at the present rime, to 7 pet 1398 cent., and if it were removed, it would be possible to buy articles at 4 per cent, less than the present prices. He should, there fore, support the proposition of his hon. Friend.
§ The committee divided on the question, that the blank be filled up with "One Penny":—Ayes 44; Noes 97:—Majority 53.
|List of the AYES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||O'Brien, W. $.|
|Aldam, W.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Protheroe, E.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Rice, E. R.|
|Brodie, W.B.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Brotherton, J.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Browne, hon.W.||Rundle, J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Scholefield, J.|
|Cobden, R.||Scott, R.|
|Crawford, W.S.||Smith, B.|
|Escott, B.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Evans, W.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Fielden, J.||Thorneley, T.|
|Forster, M.||Turner, E.|
|Gibson, T.M.||Wakley, T.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Howard, P.H.||Williams, W.|
|Hume, J.||Wood, B.|
|Johnston, A.||Wood, C.|
|Layard, Capt.||Wood, G. W.|
|Morrison, J.||Bowring, Dr.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Philips, M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acton, Col.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Bailey, J.||Follett, Sir W. W.|
|Bankes, G.||Forbes, W.|
|Baring, hon. W.B.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Beckett, W.||Gladstone, rt.hn.W.E.|
|Bell, M.||Gore, M.|
|Blackbume, J. I.||Gore, W. O.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Botfield, B.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Bowes, J.||Greenall, P.|
|Broadley, H.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Bunbury, T.||Grogan, E.|
|Cardwell, E.||Halford, H.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Hardinge,rt.hn.SirH.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Hardy, J.|
|Cockburn,rt.hn.SirG.||Henley, J. W.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Cresswell, B.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Darby, G.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Humphery, Mr. Ald.|
|Denison, E. B.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Johnstone, H.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Jones, Capt.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Kemble, H.|
|Dancombe, hon. Q,||Knatchbull, right hen,|
|Egerton, W. T.||Sir E.|
|Lambton, H.||Price, R.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Lavvson, A.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir. G|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Round, C. G.|
|Lockhart, W.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Russell, C.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Sanderson, R.|
|Maclean, D.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Sheppard, T.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Smyth, Sir H,|
|Marton, G.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Stewart, J.|
|Masterman, J.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Newry, Visct.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Verner, Col.|
|Palmer, G.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Patten, J. W.||Young, J.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Pollock, Sir F.||Pringle, A.|
§ Blank filled up with "two shillings and eleven pence."
§ On the question of the duty on sheep or lambs' wool, be one half-penny per pound,
§ Mr. C. Wood
spoke as follows:* I now rise, Sir, to make the motion of which I have given notice, and to propose to the committee, that the duty on the importation of foreign wool into this country shall be reduced to the same amount as that which is to be paid on the exportation of British wool, namely, 1s. per cwt. The duty at present payable on the import of wool, and which her Majesty's Government, in the tariff now before us, propose to continue, is 1d. per lb. on all wool, the value of which exceeds 1l. per lb. and one halfpenny per lb. on all wool below that value. Hon. Gentlemen will at once see, that my proposal is similar in principle to that which we have already been discussing, namely, a reduction of duty on the import of the raw material of one of the great branches of our manufacture. After the decision to which the committee has come, againt reducing the duty on the import of cotton wool, I do not know, that I should have thought it necessary to trouble them with the proposal which I am about to make, if I did not feel, that there were circumstances in the case of the wool trade, materially differing from those of any other of our chief manufactures, and which form, in my opinion, a much stronger ground for the reduction of this duty than can be alleged in other cases. No one can be more convinced than I am of the* From a corrected Report.1400 wisdom of reducing the import duty on all articles which form the raw materials of our manufactures. But I will not weary the attention of the committee by repeating, on the present occasion, any of the general arguments for that policy. The necessity of pursuing it has been fully and repeatedly admitted by the Government, in the course of these discussions— I will only say, at present, that I claim the advantage of that general reasoning in support of my proposal: and I must beg, that hon. Gentlemen will not refuse me the benefit of the argument, in consequence of my unwillingness to trespass unnecessarily upon their time, and upon their patience. In like manner, I will abstain from repeating any of the arguments derived from the present distressed state of the manufacturing districts, which have already been so strongly urged upon us in the earlier part of this evening. I will only call to the recollection of hon Gentlemen, the vivid picture of the destitution existing in Leeds, one of the chief seats of the clothing trade, which was drawn at the opening of the Session, by my hon. Friend, who seconded the address. I will refer also to the still greater destitution which prevails in those places which are the seat of the clothing trade in the West of England. Gentlemen may remember that a county meeting was held in Wiltshire, in the course of last autumn, to consider the means of relieving the starving population of those districts, and, if I am not mistaken, the attention of Parliament was called to the subject. I will do no more than thus briefly allude to these circumstances, for the purpose of shewing that the manufacturers of clothing, who consume in their trade the wool which is the subject of my motion, are suffering, equally, at least, with others in that general distress which, I grieve to say, prevails so universally and so severely throughout those parts of the country where our chief manufactures are carried on. I do not wish to dwell upon these melancholy circumstances which are common to all, as I abstain from repeating the arguments which apply to the importation of all raw materials. I think that I shall best discharge my duty by confining myself to those peculiar considerations which apply exclusively to the clothing trade, and which form the special grounds on which I ask the assent of the committee to my proposal for reducing the duty on the 1401 import of sheep's wool. The first and most important circumstance which I would press upon the attention of hon. Gentlemen is the fact, that whilst the exports of all other manufactures, (in whatever state of distress they may now be,) are increasing, the export of cloths is gradually falling off. By reference to the official tables for some years back it will be seen that the quantity of cotton goods, of linen goods, of worsted goods, which have been sent to foreign countries is larger now than in previous years, whilst that of cloths is less. It is not, therefore, with any state of depression for which causes of a temporary nature may be assigned, which, it may be hoped, will pass away with an improved state of things in this and in foreign countries, that we have to deal; it is with a steady and gradual decline. Year after year, for many years back, the exports of this manufacture have been decreasing. Year after year, this trade, once the staple trade of England, which for centuries it has been the policy of the Legislature to foster with peculiar, though often misjudging, care, is leaving our shores. Our foreign competitors are gradually, but surely, beating us in foreign and neutral markets, and excluding us from those of which we once had the almost entire possession. In the next place, there is this distinction between the import of wool and that of almost any other raw material which is produced in this country as well as abroad: that the British producer has as strong an interest in the importation of the foreign article as the manufacturer, or as the consumer. With regard to many articles, the British producer is more or less alarmed that the foreign produce may interfere with his market, and lower the price of his article; but in the case of wool, that which is produced abroad is indispensably necessary, in order that British wool may be worked up with advantage. I am speaking now of the finer description of foreign wools. In proportion to the import of such wools, is the power of using British short wool increased; and if the quantity brought into this country is diminished, the means of using British wool are diminished also, and the price to be obtained by the British wool grower will, of course, be lower. It is therefore a peculiar feature of this trade, that there is no opposing interest on the part of the home producer; and I 1402 would particularly call this fact to the attention of those Members who represent the agricultural interest, especially those who are connected with Sussex and the southern counties, where short wool is chiefly grown. It is fortunate for the consideration of this subject that we have the benefit of much experience, and also of the searching inquiry of a committee of the House of Lords, which sat in the year 1828, to inquire into the state of the wool trade; and by whom a great deal of valuable evidence was collected. The most able witnesses of all descriptions were examined; and we have therefore upon this subject a mass of informaiioa such as we possess upon hardly any other branch of our trade. Before, however, I proceed further, I must point out to the committee a distinction which does not appear in the Parliamentary papers, and of which probably few gentlemen are aware. We speak of the woollen and worsted manufactures as one trade, precisely as we do of the linen or the cotton manufactures; whereas in fact there are two branches in the trade, almost as distinct from each other as from the cotton or from the linen trade. These two branches of the woollen trade are carried on in different places, and employ a different material; the exports of the one branch are increasing, whilst those of the other are diminishing. The distinction between the two consists in the difference of the material which is used. In the worsted or stuff trade, what is technically called combing wool, or more commonly, long wool, is used; in the cloth trade, carding, or short wool. The long wool which is used in the former is exclusively grown in this country, or in our colonial possessions; the latter, or short wool, is almost entirely the produce of foreign countries; and it is very remarkable that the exports of the manufacture which uses untaxed wool, be it British or colonial, are increasing, whilst those of the manufacture which depends upon foreign wool paying the duty which I seek to reduce, are diminishing. The only wool therefore with which we have to deal is short wool, fit for clothing purposes. The articles which are made of this description of wool, are those contained in the three first columns of the Parliamentary paper* which I hold in my hand, and which are* No. 237. Session 1842.1403 headed, "cloths of all sorts," "napped coatings, duffels, &c, &c," "kerseymeres." Into these a very small portion of British wool enters. Indeed I may say that more than nine-tenths of the wool produced in this country is now classed as long wool. Little or no English wool is used in the manufacture of cloth, except such portion of each fleece as is thrown out in the sorting as being too short for the purpose of combing. I know very well that I should call down upon myself the censure of the Gentlemen who are interested in the growth of wool in this Country, if I ventured to say that British wool had deteriorated of late years: and I will therefore adopt the expression which was used by some of the agricultural witnesses examined before the Lord's Committee of 1828, that "it has undergone a change in its character." A much larger portion of it is now adapted for combing. Lord Western, whom nobody will suspect of being unfavourable to agriculture, and who has paid as much attention to it as any man in this country, and especially to the breeding of sheep, slated in his evidence in 1828,That South Down flocks have been crossed with long-woolled sheep; the reason is, that the wool of the sheep so crossed, though inferior in point of fineness, has a longer staple, and fetches a higher price than even the finest of the South Down fleeces. It becomes a totally different description of wool.
also, a gentleman who has paid great attention to breeding sheep, and whom many of us may remember as a Member of this House, says: —I shall have occasion shortly to allude to the extraordinary alteration that has taken place in the growth of wool since 1820, in the production pf so much more wool for combing purposes. The price of that description of wool has got higher in proportion than any finer sort.He was asked if any depreciation had taken place in the wool, and he answers:Certainly not. I should say a substitution of one sort for another has taken place. The growth of the long wool is rather superseding the short wool.And he further says, that he is,—Clearly convinced that this country is unable to produce any considerable quantity of the finest wool requisite for our manufactures.The alteration in the nature of wool grown in this country, which is described 1404 in the above extracts from the evidence in 1828, has been going on to a greater extent since that lime, and partly from this cause, and partly from the improvements in machinery, by which the manufacturers are enabled to comb and use as long wool, a great deal of wool which was too short in the staple to be so used with the old machinery, nearly the whole of the wool grown in England is now used in the worsted and stuff trade as combing wool. Indeed the produce of long wool in this country is so large that not only does it supply all our own manufactures, but a very considerable quantity is exported annually, and to show not only how little the British wool-grower has to fear from foreign competition, but also the advantage which he has derived from the repeal of the heavy duty on the export of wool in 1828, I will state the quantities of British wool exported in several years. In 1827, the year before the duty was taken off, the quantity exported was 278,552lbs.; in 1828, 1,669,389; 1830, 2,951,100; 1835, 4,642,604; 1840, 4,810,387; and in 1841 the enormous quantity of 8,471, 235. In addition to this the export of woollen yarn rose in the three last years above stated, from 2,357,336 1bs., in 1835, to 3,796,664, in 1840, and to 4,903,291, in 1841. These statements are conclusive, I think, as to the fact that the British wool-grower, speaking generally, has nothing to fear from the introduction of foreign wool. The wool which we import is in truth of a totally different description, and no competition or rivalry exists between them. The British producer enjoys the advantage of the free export of his produce, which is sent abroad in considerable quantities, and furnishes to those continental houses who manufacture articles made of long wool, the means of competing with our own manufacturers of similar goods. In no way whatever can those who grow long wool be affected by the importation of short wool, which forms the material of a totally different manufacture. I have dwelt on this point more at length perhaps than I should have done, but I know how sensitive some Gentlemen are to everything which may be supposed to affect the agricultural interest even in the remotest degree, and I was more than usually anxious, therefore, to remove even the shadow of an apprehension from their, minds. It is then short wool only, and 1405 the articles made of short wool alone, that my motion can possibly affect; and I propose to show that even the producers of the very small quantity of short wool now grown in this country derive the most evident benefit from the introduction of foreign wool. For this purpose I must refer shortly to the history of the wool trade for some years back, which is full of instruction on this point. I will only remind the committee that the arguments used against the imposition of a higher duty, or for reducing that duty when imposed, are precisely applicable, mutatis mutandis, to the proposal which I am about to make for reducing the present rate of duty. Before 1818, the duty on the importation of foreign wool was 1d. per lb. In that year it was raised to 6d. per lb., and I believe, that a more unwise and impolitic tax never was imposed. In every possible way, the effects were most prejudicial to this country, to the consumer, to the manufacturer of cloth, and to the producer of British wool. The exports fell off, the price of British wool fell, and the only parties who were gainers by it were our rivals, the foreign manufacturers. The declared value of the woollen, goods exported fell off, as follows,:—
|Years||Goods made of Short Wool.||Long and Short Wool mixed.||Long Wool.|
The committee will observe, that in the space of two years, the value of the exported goods, into the manufacture of which the short wool entered, on which the heavy duty was laid, diminished, of the first description more than two-fifths, and of the second about one-half; whilst of the last description of goods which were made of English wool, the diminution was but trifling. The evidence given in 1828, as to the effect on the price of British wool, both of the imposition and the repeal of the 6d.duty, is equally striking. I have taken the evidence, not of the growers of the wool, or of the manufacturers who use the wool, but of wool-brokers, who, with the best means of information, have no interest to warp their opinion either way; and I have taken the evidence of four persons from different
parts of the country to avoid all possibility of partiality. First, as to the imposition of the 6d. duty. Mr. Sutcliffe, a woolstapler, at Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, says:—
The tax upon foreign wool lowered the price of English wool. It did not force into use the low wools of England.
a woolstapler in Wiltshire says:—When the duty was put on in 1819, the English market immediately fell.
a wool dealer at Thetford,says:—In conversing with Mr. Coke previous to that time, I told him my opinion was, that a tax laid upon wool imported would have a tendency to diminish the price rather than to advance it, and the result has proved that I was correct.As to taking off the duty, Mr. Hughes, a wool-broker in London, says:—It was extraordinary, that when the duty was taken off, wool rose in price.And Mr. Sutcliffe (whose evidence has been given above), speaking, in 1828, gives his opinion, thatThe imposition of a tax of 6d. would have the effect of throwing more of the South Down wool out of use.Such was the effect on the grower of British wool. It only remains to see what was the effect on the foreign manufacturer. Mr. Sutcliffe again tells us:—It (the 6d. duty) set the foreigners an the continent to work, by their getting the wools cheaper than we did. They got a footing in America; they furnished Russia on better terms than we could do; and that duty on wool in 1819 did more for the continental manufacturers than all their own power could have done for them.
a merchant in London, intimately connected with the clothing districts, and whose knowledge on the subject probably exceeds that of any other person, slates what happened in his own case. He says, that during the period when the high duty was in existence,He showed some Prussian cloth to merchants trading to South America, and that they gave him large orders which were executed in Prussia. I sold in eight months of that year (1824), 6,000 pieces of Prussian cloth for South America and the East Indies. The reduction of the wool-tax put an end to that trade.In 1824, the 6d. duty was repealed, the 1407 price of English wool rose, and the exports of woollen goods increased. But it appears, from other parts of the evidence, with which I will not trouble the committee, that our manufacturers never recovered possession of several of the markets which were lost during the period when the scale was turned in favour of the foreigner by the existence of this most impolitic impost. The price of English wool rose, because our manufacturers could now obtain a larger supply of the foreign wool, without which they could not work up into cloth, to advantage, that portion of English wool which was applicable to that purpose. But beyond this, a very large portion of the cloth which is worn by all classes, is made entirely of foreign wool. The most unequivocal testimony on both these points was given by various witnesses in 1828; and, it is of so much importance, that I must trouble the committee with some extracts from their evidence. Mr. Cook of Dewsbury, after speaking of some other matters, says:—In other goods we use one-third or two-thirds of British wool. We could not use that British wool without the aid of foreign wool. We should get no orders.
a manufacturer near Leeds, was asked,Would not the consequence of that (the exclusion of foreign wool) be the disuse of so much British wool?"—Answer. "Certainly.Are the committee to understand, that the introduction of foreign wool into the country enables a manufacturer to work up English wool that he could not otherwise employ?"— Answer. "Decidedly so; as regards the markets referred to.
who was one of the largest manufaeturers of cloth in England, and a most intelligent gentleman, said—All British wool that I am acquainted with is improved by the introduction of foreign wool.And further—If any person sent to me for a cloth of 7s. or 8s. per yard, and it was made of English wool, it would be sent back to me; and I must resort to foreign, or foreign mixed with British, to execute the order.
states, that—An admixture of foreign tends to increase the consumption of English wool. That he could not find a sufficient sale for it at home or abroad, without mixing it with foreign wools,1408 He produced some samples of cloth before the committee, and he was asked,If you made this particular cloth of English wool three years ago, why do you not continue to make it of English wool now, English wool being so much cheaper?"— Answer. "Our customers would not buy it of us.What customers?" "In London and Leipsic.
produced two samples of cloth made of wool of equal price; the one of foreign, and the other of English wool. The cloth made from the latter he could not sell" at any price." The former he could sell "as fast as he could make it;" and he further stated,If we were to attempt to make our livery cloths of English wool, we could not sell them at all. We are obliged to make an article we can sell.
stated, thatA moderate admixture of foreign wool is the best means by which we can relieve the short wool grower; for, by the introduction of an admixture of a moderate portion of foreign wools with South Down wools, we make a very excellent cloth, and one that I think will assist very materially in running off the South Down wools.Such was the evidence given in 1828, and from the best inquiries which I have been able to make amongst the manufacturers and dealers in cloth, it affords no unfaithful representation of what is the state of things at present. There is, however, this difference since that time, that whilst the taste for the finer descriptions of cloth has extended amongst us, and to a great extent amongst even the lower orders, a less proportion of British wool is applicable for the purpose of making it. The necessity, therefore, for the importation of foreign wool is greater than it was. I confess that, till I inquired into this subject, I was not aware, that even the cloth of which the liveries of our servants is made, consists entirely of foreign wool. I find that the only cloth now made in this country which is altogether made of British wool, is what is called army cloth, which is worth about 3s. 9d. per yard. All cloth which is worth 5s. and upwards per yard, is made entirely of foreign wool: and the small quantity which is worth between 3s. 9d. and 5s. per yard, is made of an admixture of foreign and British wool. I think, Sir, that I have now demonstrated that even the producer of short wool in England has the most direct 1409 interest in the importation of foreign wool, but I believe, that, in truth, the quantity of British wool used in making cloth is so small, that we may consider the manufacture of, cloth as one which is altogether dependent on the importation of foreign wool for the supply of its raw material. We have then this strong contrast, that whilst the exports of the manufacture which depends only on British and colonial wool, are increasing, the exports of the manufacture which depends on the import of foreign wool are diminishing; and it is in the competition with the foreign manufacturer using the same wool, but without having the same duty to pay, that we are beaten. In order that the committee may be aware to what an extent the diminution of this trade has gone, I will proceed in the first place to shew the falling-off of the exports, and in doing so I will not trouble the committee with the amounts of a number of less important articles. I will only take two or three of the principal articles in the Parliamentary Paper which I hold in my hand. The result would be the same, if I included the others, but the statement of figures would not be so simple. I am about to state the quantities of the principal articles of the woollen manufacture exported in various years, and I take the main article of each branch, first, "cloths of all sorts;" and next, "woollen and worsted stuffs;" and I have added for the sake of illustrating my argument, another article in which a portion of cotton is introduced. The introduction of cotton makes, upon the whole, a cheaper description of goods, and the increase of the exports of this article is a most convincing proof of the effect of cheapness in extending consumption. I begin with the year 1821, but 1 must observe that it is a very unfavourable year to take for my argument, because the high duty on the import of wool was in existence in that year. The case would have been stronger if I had taken a year before 1818; but upon the whole I preferred taking decennary periods. The statement is taken from the returns before Parliament. The exportation of cloths of all sorts was:— In 1821, 375,464 pieces; in 1831 436,143 ditto.; in 1841,213,125 ditto. The export of woollen and worsted stuffs was:— In 1821, 1,078,428 pieces; in 1831, 1,800,714 ditto; in 1841, 2,007,366 ditto. That of woollen mixed with cotton —In 1821, 627,800 yards; in 1831, 1410 1,000,004 ditto; in 1841, 5,015,087 ditto. Nothing can be more striking than the great falling-off in the first article, made of foreign wool; while the export of stuffs made of British and colonial wool has been doubled; and that of the last article has increased to a most extraordinary extent. The declared value of all the woollen and worsted goods exported in the same years, was as follows: In 1821, 6,402,866l.; in 1831,5,232,013l; in 1841,5,748,673l. This diminution may probably be, in part, accounted for, by the diminished value of the raw material of the manufacture; but at any rate inasmuch as the exports of all other woollen goods are increasing, it shews too clearly the falling-off in the value of the export of cloths. This falling-off is however much more striking when it is compared with the export of our manufactures of other goods; whether the raw material of which they are made, be of home growth, or imported from abroad. In order to shew this to the committee, I have drawn up a statement of the exports of different goods for the years 1833 and 1840. I have taken, these periods because by doing so I am enabled to include in the comparative statement the exports of woollen goods from France, and also from Prussia in those years. A paper has recently been laid upon the Table of the House, prepared at the Board of Trade, by Mr. Macgregor, one of the secretaries of the Board, containing the French tariff, and various information relative to the trade and exports from that country. Amongst the statements is one of the exports of woollen goods from France to various countries in the two years 1833 and 1840. Mr. Bischoff, to whom I have already referred as one of the highest authorities upon everything connected with the wool trade, has published a statement from official sources, of the export of woollen goods from Prussia for the same years. I have availed myself of this information, and have taken, except in two instances, the same years for the statement as to English goods. The exportation of cloths of all sorts from this country was—In 1833, 597,189 pieces; in. 1840, 215,747 ditto. Of woollen and worsted stuffs — In 1833, 1,690,559 pieces; in 1840, 1,718,617 ditto. Of woollen and worsted yarn—In 1833, 2,107,478 lbs., and in 1840, 3,796,644 lbs. I am not able to state the quantities of 1411 cotton and linen goods exported in 1840, inasmuch as Mr. Porter's tables are not published beyond 1839; and I have therefore taken that year as being the last which 1 could quote. The exportation of cotton goods, yam, &c. was—In 1833, I 18,486,000l. declared value, and in 1839, 24,550,000l. ditto. Of linen goods— In 1833, 63,232,509 yards, in 1839,; 85,256,542 ditto. Of linen yarn—In 1 833 935,682 lbs., and in 1839, 16,314,615 lbs. Hon. Gentlemen will observe that whilst the export of linen yarn has increased so enormously—of linen goods more than one-third, of cotton goods, nearly one-third, of woollen and worsted yarn, between one-third and one-half, and that of woollen stuffs to some small extent —the exports of cloths has diminished almost in the proportion of three to one. The prospect is indeed most appalling for the very existence of the trade, but it becomes still more so when we turn to the exports of foreign countries, which have been increasing to a very great extent, whilst that of our cloths has been thus falling-off, and that of our stuffs but slightly improving. The export of woollen goods from Prussia was, according to Mr. Bischoff's statement,—In 1833, 46,395 centners, in 1840, 62,773 ditto.
|Exports of Cloths of all Sorts,—of Woollen and Worsted Stuffs,—and Declared Value of all Woollen and Worsted Goods Exported to the undermentioned Countries in the Years 1833 and 1840: also the Value of the Woollen Goods Exported from France to the same Countries in those years.|
|Countries to which Exported.||Cloths of all Sorts.||Woollen and Worsted Stuffe.||Declared value of All woollen and worsted goods.|
|Spain and Canaries||2,987||452||49,903||34,679||111,969||82,679|
|Mexico and South American States||36,934||41,417||37,325||81,078||382,515||541,329|
|Value of woollen goods exported from France to he same countries £.||554,040||1,064,980|
§ The comparison in this statement between the value of the exports from England and France, embraces, in both cases, all the woollen goods of every description; and the committee will see that the 1412 The value of the woollen goods exported from France was—In 1833, 36,633,000 francs, and in 1840, 61,634,000 ditto. It is true that these statements include woollen goods of all descriptions, but by far the greater portion consists of cloths. But, Sir, if there can remain a doubt upon any man's mind, as to the falling-off of our exports of woollen goods, and that the cause of it is chiefly to be attributed to the competition of the foreign manufacturer, I think the statement which I am about to make will dispel it. In Mr. Bischoff's paper, from which I have quoted before, he selects certain countries, of the markets in which we in former years had nearly the exclusive possession. I think that nobody will question this when I name them. He has given the value of the woollen goods exported from France to those countries in the years 1833 and 1840, extracted from the Parliamentary paper of the French tariff. I have taken the same countries, and stated the quanity i of cloth, that of woollen and worsted stuffs and the declared valueof all the woollen and worsted goods exported to those countries in the years 1833 and 1840, together with the value of the French woollen goods exported to the same countries in the same years. The statement is as follows:—
French have increased from half a million to a million, whilst the English have diminished from three millions to two, in round numbers. Can there be a more convincing proof that our manufacturers
cannot maintain their ground against foreign competition? The chief diminution is in the export of cloths, which have fallen off from 350,000 to 100,000 pieces; and this manufacture is, as I have before stated, the one which is altogether dependent on the foreign wool on which the duty is payable. It is evident that some cause is in operation which is gradually sapping the foundations on which our trade rests, and that unless we can take some measures to arrest the progress of this decay, we must be prepared to witness, at no distant period, the destruction of the export trade in cloths. I know not to what cause, except to the cheapness of the raw material to the foreign manufacturer, we can attribute the success which attends his competition with this country. There can be no doubt that we had the trade once, and that the foreigners are now depriving us of it. We have the advantage of capital; we have the advantage of skill; I am inclined to believe, that we have the advantage in cheapness of effective labour. In one thing only have they the advantage, and that is in the greater cheapness of the raw material. I saw only the other day, some specimens of foreign cloth, compared by experienced cloth merchants, with some specimens of similar British cloth, produced by the manufacturer, and the result was, that the finish and appearance of the English cloth was the finest; but the material of the foreign cloth was superior to ours. In these circumstances the event cannot be doubtful, they may attain our skill; and we ought not to refuse to our manufacturers the advantage of the cheapness of the material. The export duty on wool from the Prussian league is about three farthings per lb., and the main part of the fine wool which we import comes from Germany. Large clothing establishments have been established near Aix-la-Cha-pelle, in the Prussian dominions: and the manufacturers there have no duty whatever to pay on their material. There are also extensive manufactories in Belgium, at Verviers,and elsewhere: they have of course the export duty from Prussia to pay, but there is no duty on the import into Belgium. In France there is a duty on the import of wool, but it is more than counter-balanced by a large bounty on the exportation of woollen goods. In this country the manufacturers have of course the Prussian export duty to pay: and in
addition the duty of 1d. per lb. on the importation into this country. This necessarily gives a material advantage to the foreign manufacturer, against which it is not to be expected that those of this country can maintain their ground. I have no fear of the result if we place them on equal terms. The only difference against this country is the import duty of 1l. per lb., and this it is which I earnestly press upon the committee to reduce. I am aware, that it may be urged against me, that the duty cannot be any serious obstacle to the importation of wool, since the quantity imported has increased very considerably during the existence of the duty. It will be found, however, on reference to the returns, that the increase is in the lower description of wool, or in colonial wool. The importation of the higher-priced wool has actually fallen off, and it is with the finer wool that I am now dealing. The quantity of wool which pays the duty of 1d. per lb. entered for home consumption in different years, is as follows:—in 1831, '26,655,551 lbs.; in 1835,26,877,780 lbs.; but in 1841, 22,051,796 lbs., whilst the quantity of wool paying the duty of a halfpenny per lb. rose from 1,017,408 lbs. in 1831, to 10,198,526 lbs., in 1835, and to 14,495,002 lbs., in 1841, and the quantity of wool from our colonial possessions, which pays no duty, was, in 1831, 2.397,362 lbs.; in 1835,4,635,811 lbs.; and in 1841, 16,310,916 lbs. From the same returns we have the quantities of German wool, and for the last fifteen years they have been gradually falling off. The quantity of German wool entered for home consumption is as follows:—In 1825, 28,799,661 lbs.; in 1830,26,073,882 lbs.; in 1835, 23.798,186 lbs.; in 1840, 21,812,099 lbs.; and in 1841, only 20,958,775 lbs. I think no further proof is necessary to dispose of the argument against my proposal, derived from the increased import of wool. I trust that I need say nothing more to prove that the English wool-grower will not be injured by an increased importation of foreign wool. His own produce, the long wool, is exported in large and increasing quantities; and it must be remembered that a much larger importation of clothing wool from abroad is rendered necessary, by the circumstance that so large a portion of the British wool that was formerly applicable for this purpose is now converted to the purposes of the long-
wool manufacture. The foreign wool is, in truth, needed in order that we may manufacture cloth at all. I come now to the amount of duty which I propose: it is the same as that on the exportation of British wool, namely 1s. per cwt., and I have adopted this amount, because from the date of the earliest communications which took place on the subject of the wool duties: the principle which has been uniformly held by the Government has been, that the rate of duty on the import and export should be the same. Gentlemen, who are conversant with what passed in 1821, will remember that the offe which Lord Liverpool made to the deputation, who wailed upon him was, that if they would consent to the repeal of the high duty on the export, he would propose the repeal.to a similar extent of the duty on the import of wool. I will quote as decisive evidence on this subject, part of the speech which was made by the present Lord Ripon, when, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he proposed his budget in 1824. He said—
Whenever the parties have sought the abrogation of the law, they have always been told, 'you have no right to object to this duty so long as you require that the produce of the British wool-grower shall be confined to the consumption of this country.' This opinion we have never concealed, either in Parliament, or from the persons engaged in the trade, to whom we have invariably said, ' If you will consent to the removal of the impolitic restriction on the exportation of British wool, we will propose to Parliament the repeal of the duty on foreign wool.' A part of the plan, therefore, which I shall submit to the House, will be to reduce the duty on the importation of foreign wool from 6d. a lb., at which it is at present, to 1d. a lb., which it was before the year 1819; and to allow the free exportation of British wool on the payment of the small duty of id. also; and thus to put them on a level, keeping the balance even between the two.
§ The principle of equality between the import and the export duty, is here most clearly laid down, and the proposals of the Government having been carried, so matters remained till 1828. In that year, great distress was supposed to prevail amongst the growers of British wool: and in order to relieve them, the duty on the export of wool was reduced. At the time, however, Mr. Bischoff, whose name I have so often mentioned, and who took a leading part amongst the wool manufacturers, had an interview with Lord Bathurst, then 1416 the President of the Council; and urged their claim to have the duty on the import reduced at the same time. Lord Bathurst did not hesitate to admit the justice of the claim. He said, however, that the Government could not then make the reduction on the import: that they reduced the duty on the export as a boon to the wool-growers in their distress; but that they must postpone carrying out the recognised principle of equality till a more favourable opportunity. I trust, Sir, that this opportunity has now arrived. I trust, that a Government in which the Nobleman who laid down the principle in 1824, presides over the department charged with the care of the trade and commerce of the country, will now carry that principle into practice. I know, that the manufacturers have always considered the expectations then held out to them, in the light almost of an express engagement; one part of which has been fulfilled to the manifest advantage of the parties interested in the export of wool, but the fulfilment of the other part of which has been unfairly withheld from them. I will not argue the question on this ground, but I do call upon the Government, remembering the principles which have been avowed on this subject, and the reasonable expectations created in the minds of the manufacturers, not to withhold from them in their distress, that boon which was conceded to the agriculturists in 1828. I call upon them to mete out equal measure to both parties, and sure I am, that the circumstances of those, in whose favour I am pleading, are such as to form the most unanswerable claim upon our consideration. Sir, I have hitherto spoken almost entirely as to the importation of the higher qualities of wools; but the grounds for reducing the duty on the low priced wools, though of a different description, are equally strong. It is true, that the importation of this kind of wool has increased very considerably; but the rate of duty is out of all proportion to the value of the article, and presses upon it most unfairly. The duty is. per lb., but in many cases it operates so as to amount to a charge of 1½d. per lb. Great part of this coarser wool is brought from countries in a very low state of improvement; where the ordinary processes of cleaning the wool are utterly unknown. The wool, therefore, comes to this country mixed with dirt and other foreign matter to such an extent, that 3lb. weight of the 1417 article in the state in which it arrives, is often reduced to 1lb. before it undergoes the first process of manufacture. This duty, therefore, becomes most enormous on the raw material actually used. Even if this be not the case, the duty far exceeds the rate which the First Lord of the Treasury proposed for the limit on the raw material of any of our manufactures. That limit was to be 5 per cent.; but I hold in my hand a letter containing the particulars of a quantity of wool recently imported, in which the ½ d. duty amounted to 13 per cent., and if taken on the price of the wool when shipped, to 18 per cent. In consistency, therefore, with the avowed principle of the tariff, this duty ought to be reduced. I know not, that I can add any thing to the simple statement of facts which I have laid before the committee; but before I sit down I must briefly notice one argument which I have heard urged against the reduction of the duty on the importation of German wool, which is, that if we reduce our import duty, the Germans may raise their export duty by precisely the same amount; so that our manufacturers will not be in any way benefitted by the reduction. I canot believe, that this argument will be seriously urged by any of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is, of course, true, that the Prussians may raise their export duty, and they may do so, whether we reduce our import duty or not; but the Prussian or Saxon farmer has the same interest in exporting his wool, that we have in importing it; the export duty on their wool has indeed lately been reduced; and I do not believe, that there is any ground whatever for apprehending, that they have any disposition to raise it. But the argument, such as it is, must be equally good against the reduction of any import duty whatever. Indeed I have heard it urged against reducing the duty on foreign corn. In that case, however, and in many others, the Government have wisely neglected so absurd an apprehension; and I do not anticipate, that it will be seriously urged even as an argument in the present case. The last and great objection which will be used against me, is, of course, the state of the revenue; as it was in the case of the duty on cotton wool. I must observe, however, in the first place, that the amount of revenue in question in the two cases is very different. The revenue raised by the duty on cotton wool, 1418 amounts to upwards of 600,000l., which it was proposed totally to repeal; whilst the loss by my proposal would not exceed 100,000l. The weight, however, of the argument derived from the state of the revenue is entirely destroyed by the manner in which the Government propose to dispose of the surplus revenue to be derived from the Income-tax. The more I consider the manner in which they have applied that surplus, the more injudicious I think their selection of the articles on which they have made the great sacrifice of revenue. I do not mean to undervalue the advantage of cheap timber; but I am convinced that other duties might have been reduced with much more advantage to the country. I believe that the necessity for the reduction which I am advocating to be far greater than any benefit to be derived from the same amount of reduction on timber. I entertain the same opinion as to the duty on many articles of consumption, which are untouched in the tariff. I will not, however, pursue this argument further, as it has already been urged on the committee on former occasions. I will only say, that when I look at the amount of loss which the adoption of my proposal would entail, and the manner in which the Government deals with other articles, I do not think that any consideration of this kind should interfere with the reduction of duty on the import of wool: that reduction is called for both in policy and in justice. It seems to me to be absolutely necessary for the preservation of the old staple trade of England; and I sincerely hope, that the committee will agree with me in that opinion. I move, Sir, that the duty henceforward payable on the importation of all foreign sheep and lambs' wool be reduced 1s. per cwt.
said, that the hon. Member for Halifax having referred to that part of the country with which he was connected, he was sorry to say, that he felt it his painful duty to state, that as yet there had been no improvement in the cloth markets. The documents referred to by the hon. Member elucidated the state of trade up to January last, but events had occurred since that time which corroborated the statements of the hon. Member, and showed that there was no prospect of a revival of trade. To illustrate how trade had suffered he would just mention one instance. The North American Fur Company had for a number of years an- 1419 nually sent orders to Gott and Company, of Leeds, for goods to the amount of 10,000l.; this year, however, that order had been given to the French. The effect of this one instance would be to transfer 2,500l. to a foreign country—a sum which had hitherto been laid out in wages in Yorkshire, and which was equal to six weeks' poor rates. There was no interest in the country which would not benefit from a relaxation of the duty. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider that the tax derived from restrictions on labour was very different from that which was derived from the free employment of the people. Looking, therefore, to the interest of all parties, he felt he could conscientiously advocate this relaxation, and support the motion of the hon. Member for Halifax. He was sorry that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government was not in the House, because, had he been present, he would have appealed to him to grant this relaxation to the woollen trade. When he considered how much higher the duty on wool was compared to the duty on cotton, he thought that he was fairly entitled to ask the Government to consent to the reduction proposed.
acknowledged the importance of the woollen manufacture, and could assure the hon. Gentleman that the whole question had received the best and most matured consideration of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. But, considering the state of the revenue, it was impossible for the Government to give up the sum which would be sacrificed by the proposed reduction of the duties on cotton and wool. A considerable remission of duties had been made with regard to indigo, and other articles used in the process of dying, amounting to 150,000/., which must be beneficial to the manufacturers.
§ Mr. S. Wortley
said, there was enough in the state of the manufacture to justify those who took an interest in it in supporting the motion of the hon. Member for Halifax. Whatever might be said, the tax would press very heavily on the lower qualities of wool. He implored the Go-verment to bear in mind the state of this trade.
§ Mr. W. Lascelles
said, that the decline of the woollen trade was not to be disputed, and it was owing, in his opinion, to the operation of the tax upon the raw material. That tax ought to be reduced.
§ The committee divided on the question that the duty be 1s. per cwt.:—Ayes, 65; Noes 122.-—Majority 57.
|List of the AYES|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Norreys, Sir D. J|
|Ainsworth, P.||O'Brien, W. S|
|Aldam, W.||O'Ferrall, R. M|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Pechell, Capt|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Philips, G. R|
|Bowring, Dr.||Philips, M|
|Brodie, W. B.||Plumridge, Capt|
|Brotherton, J.||Protheroe, E|
|Browne, hon. W.||Rundle, J|
|Busfield, W.||Russell, Lord J|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Sandon, Visct|
|Cobden, R.||Scholefield, J|
|Crawford, W. S.||Scott, R|
|Denison, E. B.||Seymour, Lord|
|Duncan, G.||Sheppard, T|
|Escott, B.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V|
|Evans, W.||Somerville, Sir W. M|
|Fielden, J.||Stansfield, W. R. C|
|Gibson, T. M.||Stanton, W. H|
|Gill, T.||Strutt, E|
|Granger, T. C.||Thornely, T|
|Hardy, J.||Vivian, J. H|
|Heathcoat, J.||Walker, R|
|Howard, hn. C. W. G.||Wallace, R|
|Howard, P. H.||Wawn, J. T|
|Howick, Visct.||Williams, W|
|Hutt, W.||Wood, B|
|Labouchere, rt. hn.H.||Wood, G. W|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Wortley, hon. J. S|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Wrightson, W. B|
|Marshall, W.||Yorke, H. R|
|Milnes, R. M.||TELLERS|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Beckett, W|
|Morris, D.||Wood, C|
|List of the NOES|
|Alexander, N.||Broadley, H|
|Allix, J. P.||Broadwood, H|
|Archdall, Capt.||Buckley, E|
|Bailey, J.||Cardwell, E|
|Baldwin, B.||Christopher, R. A|
|Bankes, G.||Chute, W. L. W|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Clerk, Sir G|
|Barrington, Visct.||Cockburn, rt.hn.Sir G|
|Bell, M.||Colvile, C. R|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Coote, Sir C. H|
|Blackburne,J. T.||Cresswell, B|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Cripps, W|
|Boldero, H. G.||Darby, G|
|Botfield, B.||Dawnay, hon. W. H|
|Desart, Earl o||Litton, E|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Lockbart, W|
|Douglas, SirJC- E.||Lowther, J. H|
|Dowdeswell, W.||Lyall, G|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Mackenzie, T|
|East, J. B.||Mackenzie, W. F|
|Eaton, R. J.||Mainwaring, T,|
|Egerton, W. T.||Marsham, Visct|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Master, T. W. C|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Masterman, J|
|Farnham, E. B.||Mundy, E. M|
|Fellowes, E.||Newry, Visct|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J|
|Forbes, W.||Owen, Sir J|
|Fuller, A. E.||Patten, J. W|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Peel, J|
|Gladstone,rt.hn.W.E.||Plumptre, J. P|
|Gladstone, T.||Pollock, Sir F|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Praed, W. T|
|Gore, M.||Pusey, P|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Richards, R|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Rolleston, Col|
|Greenall, P.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G|
|Grimsditch, T,||Round, J|
|Grogan, E.||Rushbroke, Col|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Ryder, hon. G. D|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Scarlett, hon. R. C|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Scott, hon. F|
|Haidinge,rt.hn.Sif H.||Shirley, E. J|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Sibthorp, Col|
|Henley, J. W.||Somerset, Lord G|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Stewart, J|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Sutton, hon. H. M|
|Hinde, J. H.||Taylor, J. A|
|Hodgson, R.||Trench, Sir F. W|
|Hussey, T.||Trevor, hon. G. R|
|Jackson, J. D.||Tyrell, Sir J. T|
|Jermyn, Earl||Vere, Sir C. B|
|Johnstone, H.||Verner, Col|
|Kemble, H.||Worsley, Lord|
|Knatchbull.rt.hn.SirE.||Yorke, hon. E. T|
|Knight, F. W.||Young, J.|
|Legh, G. C.||TELLERS|
|Liddell, hon. H. T.||Fremantle, Sir T|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Pringle, A|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Pringle, A.|
§ Mr. G. W. Wood
moved, that the duty on imported sheep and lamb's wool, not being of the value of 1s. the pound, be reduced to 1s. the cwt.
admitted, that there was a distinction between the case involved in this proposition and that in the last, arising out of the higher rate of duty on the low class of wools, but as at the same time the trade in them was increasing he did not think it would be expedient to alter, in reference to these wools, the general principle which the committee had just affirmed.
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.
§ House adjourned.
§ [We omit the lists of the second division on wool, as the principle of the question decided, was the same as on the first division, which included all the names of the second.]