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of it we should only be distraining resting his case partly on a pamphfor a just debt, of which we had long let entitled “ Ministers and the demanded payment in vain. We Sugar Duties.” “The curtailment might then emancipate the slaves of the apprenticeship,” he said, of Čuba; and having thus destroyed “had worked well; the anticipation slavery itself in that quarter of formed, in 1844, that there would the world, there would be no be a large increase in the producdifficulty in allowing the British tion of free-labour sugar, had not merchant to go to Africa, for the been confirmed ; and the distincpurpose of obtaining there, by the tion between free-labour and slaveoffer of good wages and other ad- labour sugar had proved to be invantages, a number of free Africans compatible with treaties. As the to cultivate his estates.
question of slavery had to be Sir Charles Wood, though not omitted from consideration, they opposing the appointment of the were led to consider solely whether Committee, guarded himself against there should be protection or no the supposition that the Govern- protection. The proposal of the ment meant to recede from the West Indians was to fix the differcourse which they had chosen in ential duty at 10s. per cwt., or 1846, and thought that he should 101. per ton; the avowed object be showing most kindness to the being to enhance the price by that West Indians by stating distinctly amount. Last year the consumpwhat were the views and intentions tion of sugar amounted to 290,000 of the Ministry. He declined to tons; the proposed enhancement follow his noble Friend through of price, therefore, would be equimany of those topics which he had valent to a tax of 2,900,0001., or presented to the House, especially say, in round numbers, 3,000,0001. as he thought that no sound in. On the other hand, diminished ferences, with regard to the future, protection had benefited the recould be drawn from the state of venue, which had risen from trade during the last twelve 3,743,3621. in 1845, to 4,596,6961,
. months. The extraordinary fall in 1847, despite the great distress. in the price of sugar, for example, Her Majesty's Ministers held that he regarded as transitory, because duties should be imposed with rehe thought it owing to the gene- ference to revenue alone. Governrally disastrous state of commerce ment intended to propose such an during the autumn. As great a alteration in the Navigation Laws fall was to be found in the prices as would completely put an end to of other articles ; in indigo, 25 per any discontent springing from that cent.; in rice, 26 ; in sago, 51; and source.
He should be happy to in tea 48 per cent. The houses extend the use of molasses to in the Mauritius trade had fallen brewers; but he thought that it from causes totally independent of would not be practicable, as mothe price of sugar; and in like lasses could not, like sugar, be manner the West Indies had suf- made to bear an amount of duty fered from the failure of the West equal to that on malt: but the exIndia Bank.
perience of the past year had As to the grievances of the West shown that there was no difficulty Indies, Sir Charles contended that in admitting molasses into distil. they had been much exaggerated; leries; he proposed, therefore, to
introduce a Bill, immediately, au. ceeding 200,0001. for that purpose. thorizing the admission of molasses Another source consisted in the into distilleries upon terms such as liberated Africans. At present the those on which sugar had been here cost of these liberated negroes was tofore admitted. Cane-juice might defrayed by the colonists; but the be admitted on payment of an Government were prepared to cast equivalent duty, but he understood upon this country the cost of con. that that would be prohibitory. veying these negroes to the West
“ With respect to immigration, Indies. But the great body of a statement which he held in his these negroes were set free at hand showed that it had been ex. Sierra Leone; and he believed the tensive and beneficial. The de transferring them to the West In. tails to which he referred were as dies would be not only beneficial follows:
to these colonies, but beneficial to
the negroes themselves, and to the Number of Slaves in 1829. Free La colony of Sierra Leone itself
. bourers imported into the following Colonies to 1846.
" Another measure of relief would
be to postpone the repayment of Labourers.
the hurricane loan for five years ; Mauritius, 63,000 Free.
28,000 23,000 Liberated Africans. and a new loan would be made to Jamaica, s 8,500 Free.
Tobago, as a relief on account of 322,000 3,000 Liberated Africans. the last hurricane." British 33,850 Free.
Reading various extracts from Guiana,
6,180 Liberated Africans. the memorial of the Jamaica House 90,000 Trinidad, s 17,788 Free.
of Assembly and other documents, 24,000 3,181 Liberated Africans. Sir Charles contended that there
was vast room for agricultural im. “It had been found, however, that provements in the West Indies ; the present system of immigration and if proper exertions were made, did not answer; and he proposed a he did not despair of seeing those change. He knew that there was colonies restored to a state of coma risk in allowing the practice parative prosperity. of taking negroes from Africa; that Mr. Robinson gave credit to the if parties were permitted to buy Government for the openness of negroes for slaves, and to bring their declaration, but thought that them from Africa upon the pretext if the West Indies were to have no of their being made free labourers other measure of relief than that in the West Indies, the permission suggested by the Chancellor of the would offer a direct encouragement Exchequer, they must be prepared to a renewal of all the horrors of for total and irreparable rnin. the slave trade. With this con- Mr. Hume and Mr. Ellice also viction, provision must be made made a light account of the prothat if natives were brought from mised measures, but urged Lord Africa to the West Indies, it should G. Bentinck to withdraw his mobe with their own free will, though tion and leave the matter to the the Government were not disposed responsibility of Government. to throw any fresh obstruction in Mr. James Wilson entered into the way of the importation of free the subject at considerable length. labour; and they were prepared to He commenced by observing that advance a sum of money not ex- he should not follow the noble Mover into those general questions admitted that he had heard with of commercial policy into which he great satisfaction the statement of had deviated, but should confine the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself exclusively to the interests last night, not merely because he of the cultivators of sugar. He (Sir C. Wood) had announced the placed the whole question on the intention of the Government to interest of the West Indian planters, adhere to the Act of 1846, but on their demands for protection, because he had also announced his and on the power of Government intention to remove many restricto grant those demands. The West tions which still pressed heavily on Indians rested their demands for the West Indian planters; but he protection on four distinct grounds; nevertheless thought that much of which the first was, that if moral further good might be conferred considerations compelled us to ex- on the colonies by going into this clude slavery from our colonies, Committee, for if those planters they also compelled us to exclude were to be saved, it must be by a all sugar, the produce of slave considerable change in the social labour, from the home market; relations of the islands in which the second, that slave labour was they lived. In the British West cheaper than free labour, and Indian islands the whites formed that it was therefore unequal only 71 per cent. of the whole and unjust to confine the West population, whilst the labourers Indians to free labour entirely; formed the other 923 per cent. ; for the third, that the sugar of the whites only went there to make Cuba was the produce of slave their fortunes, and, when they had labour, and ought, therefore, to be done so, returned home to spend excluded; and the fourth, that the them. But it was not so in Cuba. Imperial Legislature had power to In that island there were ancient protect the sugar colonies by ex- families resident on their estates, cluding all sugar the produce of and therefore attentive to the imforeign colonies employing slave provement and prosperity of their labour. He contended at great country. Nothing of this kind was length that not one of these four to be found in the British West propositions was true ; and, in the Indies; and, as a proof of the course of his observations, entered wretched consequences of such a into a laboured refutation of most system, he mentioned that there of the arguments advanced last were 800 miles of railroad in Cuba, night by Lord G. Bentinck. He and not above a dozen in the whole showed that 250,000 tons of sugar of our West Indian possessions. were now annually produced by Considerable mischief had also free labour in countries east of the been done to our planters by the Cape of Good Hope, and suggested onerous restrictions placed on them that even if the Legislature were as employers of labour with regard to exclude the sugars of Cuba and to the importation of labourers. Brazil, on the ground that they They had also suffered injury from were the produce of slave labour, the want of laws for the pre. the West Indian planters would still vention of squatting and vagrancy. find it impossible to compete with. Now, these were all considerations, out difficulty with that enormous and many others might be sugamount of free-labour produce. He gested, connected with the police and finance of the West Indian sugars of Cuba and Porto Rico had islands, which might usefully be- not fallen in the same proportion as come subjects of inquiry before a the price of British sugars; and, Select Committee; and, such being having established that point, he the case, he hoped that Lord G. concluded that the Act of 1816 Bentinck would not accede to the must have had some share in proposition of Mr. Hume, but producing the existing distress. would persevere in his motion for Almost all the requests of the inquiry
colonists the Chancellor of the ExMr. T. Baring observed, that of chequer had rejected, contending all the disheartening statements that it was not the law, but the which this debate had brought for- absenteeism of the proprietors, and ward, none was more so than the their want of management in their description which Mr. Wilson had estates, which had caused all the given of the flourishing condition distress. Now, he (Mr. T. Baring) of Cuba, and of the depressed con- was afraid that the Chancellor of dition of the West Indian islands. the Exchequer would find that the Mr. Wilson had also told the House residents in the Colonies had sufthat no protection could save our fered as much as the absentees, Colonies; for such was the growth and that West Indian estates were of sugar in countries east of the as well managed by agents as by Cape of Good Hope, that he was proprietors. The Chancellor of the only surprised that our Colonies Exchequer had quoted extracts were not worse off than they were, from many nameless pamphlets to having such an amount of produce show that West Indian estates recently raised to compete with in were not well managed; but he the market. But why was this? would have been better pleased had Because the planters in the east Sir C. Wood given the House exwere not fettered in their labour, tracts from the despatches of our and because there had not been different governors-Sir C. Grey, among them that great revolu- Lord Harris, and other men of intion which took from them the telligence and station. But how means of producing sugar at the were those estates to be better very moment at which it opened managed, when in consequence of the home market to other sugars. the Act of 1846 the credit and When the Chancellor of the Ex. capital of our West Indies were chequer asserted that the Act of destroyed, and the credit and 1846 had not produced the dis- capital of Cuba and Brazil had tress of the West Indian interest, risen upon their ruin? The House and that sugar was now only suf. had raised hopes in the West fering the same depression of price Indian planters in 1840, and in to which other articles were now 1844, which it had subsequently liable, he overlooked the real ques. disappointed. It had given them tion, whether the same fall of price a compensation which was clearly had taken place in the sugars inadequate, for it was founded on which were not introduced into the value of the slave, and without this country before 1846, as had any consideration of the fact that taken place in the sugars of our when the slave was taken away own Colonies. Mr. Baring then pro- from the property the property was ceeded to show that the price of the rendered valueless. He would not say, that if it were possible to re- duties on rum and molasses might store slavery to the Mauritius and be of use if connected with other the West Indies, it would not be a measures, but would be of no use good bargain for those Colonies to by itself. He would therefore pay back that money to this coun- leave the responsibility upon Minitry. He did not set himself up sters to decide whether the country as an advocate for free trade; but, should pay an additional price for if he did, he should contend that its sugar for the purpose of giving the case of the West Indians was free labour a fair trial, and of so an exception from the ordinary making free labour the best exterprinciples of free trade. If it were minator of slave labour. He called not, would the free traders rest the upon the country to observe their truth of their principles on the suc- conduct, and to insist upon their cess of the experiment which they saying whether they would restore had tried in the Act of 1846? hope to the Colonies, to enable them They had said that it would benefit to struggle against the competition all, injure none, and produce a low of slave labour, or whether, after price of sugar; but if it should acknowledging their distress, they throw out of cultivation the exist- would not give them a farthing in ing sugar plantations, as he anti- relief, although last year they had cipated, then it would destroy the given 8,000,0001. to mitigate the planters, and ultimately enhance sufferings of Ireland. the price of sugar itself. It had Mr. Bernal supported the claims been said that free trade was cer- of the West Indians, as did Sir tain to produce harmony in all Edward Buxton, and Mr. Goulquarters; but the commencement of burn, the two latter resting their the era of harmony would not be arguments rather on anti-slavery very favourable if free trade should grounds. Mr. Bagshaw asserted produce discord between our Colo- the rights of the East Indies to nies and the mother country. Let relief. Mr. Labouchere backed up the House then declare whether it Sir Charles Wood's argument, reattached value to those Colonies or peating his assertion that free lanot; whether it would allow them to bour would be able to compete transfer their allegiance to another successfully with slave labour. Mr. power; and whether, according to Disraeli supported the motion in the principles of free trade, they his usual lively and pungent style would allow them to sell themselves of oratory. in the dearest, and to buy their The real problem before the Government in the cheapest mar
House, he said, was the success of ket. With regard to the motion the new commercial system in the of Lord G. Bentinck, he wished to only branch of our imperial insay, that although the West Indian dustry upon which it had been interest would look with confidence tried : it had proved, he mainto the appointment of a Committee, tained, a total failure. But the if Government would give them bulk of his speech was a very ani. any assurance of substantial relief, mated and trenchant attack on the they did not attach much import- paltriness of the Government policy ance to it now, as any relief which and measures. He announced, in the Committee might suggest would the outset, that he should give an come too late. The alteration of the unqualified opposition to the vote