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FOR THE YEAR
HISTORY OF EUROPE.
Re-assembling of Parliament, after the Christmas Pecess, on the 3rd of
February—The West Indian Question becomes the first subject of
Debates in the House of Lords on West Indian Affairs-Earl Grey
having commenced, by a de- relief.”
perdays, the two Houses resumed sonal wish, as he was aware that business again on the 3rd of Fe- his motion would be unopposed by bruary The condition of the Her Majesty's Ministers, was to West Indian Colonies was the first make no statement to the House : subject that occupied the attention the observations he should make of the House of Commons, a mo- were offered only in deference to tion being brought forward by what he believed to be the general Lord George Bentinck, the in- desire of the House and of the defatigable advocate of that in- parties at large interested in the terest, for a Select Committee of question. It had been represented Inquiry. The noble Lord, before to him by the colonial interest entering upon his subject, pre- that the planters were in extremis, sented three important petitions; and that whilst redress was under one from the Standing Committee discussion by the Committee that of the West Indian Planters, another great interest would perish. His from the merchants of Greenock, motion had, indeed, been termed against restraints on immigration pusillanimous. It was, however, and on the employment of labour, for himself to consider what was and a third from merchants and his power to obtain any substantial others in Jamaica, praying for the relief by a direct vote of the House. removal of burthens, for a full In July 1846, only five gentlesupply of African labour, an altera- men connected with the West or tion of the Navigation Laws, and an the East Indian interests had voted assimilation of the duties on colo with him in a minority of 130 nial rum to those paid by the against the majority of 205, who British distiller. The motion of then negatived the protection now Lord George Bentinck ran as fol- sought: he thought, therefore, that lows:
the West Indian interests had " That a Select Committee be no right to blame him on the preappointed to inquire into the pre- sent occasion. He had no reason sent condition and prospects of the to suppose that the minority had interests connected with, and de- been converted into a majority; pendent on, sugar and coffee plant- but, to justify inquiry, he pointed ing in Her Majesty's East and to the extremity of the West InWest Indian possessions and the dies, to the failure of fifty great Mauritius; and to consider whether houses in this country, with liabiany and what measures can be lities exceeding 6,300,0001., and
to the change in the public feeling the West Indies is 50s. a year; on the subject of slavery and slave. in Jamaica a free labourer is paid trading; at the last general elec- half-a-dollar a day, for six or seven tion not a wrod was said on the hours' work, and he can scarcely subject; those who were omnipo- be got to work four or five days in tent in 1832, were powerless in the week. In Cuba the slave is 1847. In proposing his inquiry, made to work sixteen or he wished it to be distinctly un- twenty hours a day; the driver derstood that he neither precluded armed with whip, cutlass, and daghimself nor wished to preclude ger, attended by bloodhounds. That others, if a substantial measure is the kind of slavery which we are for immediate and effectual relief stimulating by the admission of should be brought forward, from slave-grown sugar into this country. lending their support to any such However, there is no objection to proposal. He hoped that he should immigration. Sir Charles Metbe able, through the instrument- calfe declared, in 1840, that the ality of a Committee of inquiry, to fertile soil of Jamaica could provide prevail upon the House to change for any multitude without dimiits policy with regard to this great nishing the comforts of the existquestion. He did not seek to en- ing population; and similar reports force the distinction between slave- were made from other colonies.. grown and free.grown sugar, be. But the cost of immigration is too cause that attempt would be fol- great for the planters to bear, lowed by the overthrow of the especially with the obligation to Government—which he did not send back the immigrants at the desire.
end of five years. He did not Alluding to the petition from know why there should be this Jamaica, Lord George declared delicacy about removing an Afrithat he could not agree with the can, a Cooly, or Chinaman, when demand for the repeal of the Navi- he is only transferred from one hot gation Laws; and he entered into climate to another, and no such a long statement of the rates of delicacy is shown to the British freight, to show that the West soldier, who is bound to remain ten Indians suffer no injury from those years in an uncongenial climate. laws. With respect to the differ- Lord George adverted to the case ential duty on spirits, he thought of the East Indies, invited by Parthat the British distiller would liament to exert themselves in need its maintenance. He was producing free-labour sugar-connot indisposed to give every faci- tending that the faith of Parliality for immigration, but doubted ment was as much pledged to them whether it would do much good. to enable them to repay themselves The state of Barbadoes, as densely for the outlay of that capital, as it peopled as China, shows that in- was pledged to repay the fundcreased numbers will not suffice. holder the debt that was due to He agreed with Mr. Merivale, the him. new Under-Secretary for the Co- In July last, Mr. Hawes had delonies, that free labour never can scribed the Mauritius as being in a successfully compete with slave state of most flourishing prosperity; labour. At the highest estimate, since that, out of six great firms in the cost of maintaining a slave in the Mauritius trade, but one re
mained standing: the liabilities of opening the trade of Brazil ? Comthose that had fallen are estimated
paring the sixteen months before at 2,900,0001.; Ministers have with the sixteen months after the been obliged to advance 450,0001. admission of slave-grown sugar, on sugar to enable the colony to there had been a gross decrease in go on, and to supply rice from the production of cotton goods to India for the food of the labourers. the amount of 1,339,214 pounds, That fact showed how utterly Mi- against an increase of 168,082 nisters had been in the dark re- pounds : taking into account the specting the true state of Her enhanced price of raw cotton, the Majesty's colonial possessions, and balance remaining for wages and would alone justify inquiry. profits had declined by 1,871,0031.
He wanted the inquiry also as a Lord George assailed the system bridge of retreat for Ministers and for suppressing the slave trade, the free-traders. He would not calculating, with a great array of hint to them that it should be a figures, that from first to last it bridge such as acted as a guide to had cost this country 100,000,0001. & certain proposition in Euclid. He proposed a substitute for the They wanted no bridge for the ineffective blockade of Africa. They blockheads who had predicted all would never put down the slave the evils that had occurred; they trade so long as it depended upon must have a bridge for the men of blockading 10,260 miles of coast. brains, which the hon. Member He would, as Captain Pilkington for the West Riding of Yorkshire recommended, strike a blow at the and his friends might be permitted head and not at the hand. He to pass over; but certainly not with would not send an army to destroy colours flying, or drums beating, every individual hornet, but go to nor with bands playing “ See the hornets' nest at once, and the Conquering Hero comes," or smother that nest of the slave trade the tune of Cæur de Lion,” which now existed in Cuba. He with which the hon. Gentleman had read in the Times an extract was, he believed, greeted abroad; from an United States paper, but they might be permitted to in which it was stated that if the pass over with arms reversed, and United States did not possess herwith muffled drums, muttering per- self of Cuba, Great Britain would; haps between their teeth, “ If our and that England had a stronger cause is of God, it will live; but claim by a hundredfold to Cuba if not, it must perish." Their than the United States had to Mexcause was not of God, and there. ico, because a sum of 45,000,0001. fore it must perish. To make was due to British subjects upon out the failure of the recent mea- Spanish bonds, and Cuba was hy. sures of free trade, Lord George pothecated for the payment of that plunged into an immense mass debt. of statistical details. Against Sir Charles Wood.
But cheap sugar, he set off the failure would you seize the Brazils as of our great merchants for more well ?" than 6,300,0001., asked how free Lord George Bentinck. – The trade had benefited Lancashire, case of Cuba stood upon its own now in so miserable a state ; whe- merits, and upon the debt of ther it had fulfilled the promise of 15,000,0001. In taking possession