Abbildungen der Seite

was undertaken by Mr. Dundas. On a division, the numbers were, Tellers.

Tellers. YEAs Lord Maitland 2

SMr. Eliot YEAS ( Sir James Erskiner

${Mr. R. Smith 164: So it was resolved in the negative.


February 226 DREVIOUS to the meeting of the Irish parliament, in January

T 1785, the British cabinet, in concert with commissioners appointed on the part of Ireland, had formed a plan for regulating and finally adjusting the commercial intercourse between the two kingdoms. On the 7th of February, Mr. Orde, the secretary to the lord lieutenant, announced this system to the House of Commons, and on the 11th, a set of resolutions, which he had before laid on their table, were moved and agreed to by the House without much discussion, and without any material alterations: The concurrence of the House of Peers being soon after obtained, these resolutions were immediately transmitted to England, as the proposed basis, on the part of that country, for an equitable and final adjustment. Almost immediately after their arrival, the business was opened in the British House of Commons, by Mr. Pitt, who, on the 22d of February, moved, “ That the House will immediately resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, to consider of so much of his majesty's speech to both Houses of parliament, upon the 25th of January last, as relates to the ada justment of the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland." This motion being carried, the various papers on the table relative to Ireland, were referred to the committee; and the Speaker having left the chair, Mr. Gilbert took his seat at the table. The eleven resolutions agreed to by the Irish parliament were then read as follow :

" Resolved, 1. That it is highly important to the general in. terest of the British empire, that the trade between Great Britain and Ireland be encouraged and extended as much as possible; and for that purpose, that the intercourse and commerce be finally settled and regulated on permanent and equitable principles for the mutual benefit of both countries.

2. “ That towards carrying into full effect so desirable a settles ment, it is fit and proper, that all articles, not the growth or manufacture of Great Britain or Ireland, should be imported into each kingdom from the other, reciprocally, under the same regulation, and at the same duties, if subject to duties, to which they are liable when imported directly from the place of the growth, product, or manufacture; and that all duties originally paid

on importation into either country respectively, shall be fully drawn back on exportation to the other.

3. “ That for the same purpose, it is proper that no prohibition should exist in either country, against the importation, use, or sale of any article, the growth, product, or manufacture of the other ; and that the duty on the importation of every such article, if subject to duty, in either country, should be precisely the same in the one country as in the other, except where an addition may be necessary in either country, in consequence of an internal duty on any such article of its own consumption.

4. “ That in all cases where the duties on articles of the growth, product, or manufacture of either country, are different on the importation into the other, it would be expedient that they should be reduced in the kingdom where they are the highest, to the amount payable in the other, and that all such articles should be exportable from the kingdom into which they shall be imported, as free from duty as the similar commodities or home manufactures of the same kingdom.

5. “ That for the same purpose it is also proper, that in all cases where either kingdom shall charge articles of its own consumption, with an internal duty on the manufacture, or a duty on the material, the same manufacture, when imported from the other, may be charged with a farther duty on importation, to the same amount as the internal duty on the manufacture, or to an amount adequate to countervail the duty on the material, and shall be entitled to such drawbacks or bounties on exportation, as may leave the same subject to no heavier burden than the home-made manufacture; such farther duty to continue so long only as the internal consumption shall be charged with the duty or duties, to balance which it shall be imposed, or until the manufacture, coming from the other kingdom, shall be subjected there to an equal burden, not drawn back or compensated on exportation.

6. “ That in order to give permanency to the settlement now intended to be established, it is necessary, that no prohibition, or new or additional duties, should be hereafter imposed in either kingdom, on the importation of any article of the growth, product, or manufacture of the other, except such additional duties as may be requisite to balance duties on internal consumption, pursuant to the foregoing resolution. ..

7. “ That for the same purpose it is necessary farther, that no prohibition, or new or additional duties, should be hereafter imposed in either kingdom, on the exportation of any article of native growth, product, or manufacture from thence to the other, except such as either kingdom may deem expedient, from time to time, upon corn, meal, malt, flour, and biscuits; and also except where there now exists any prohibition which is not reciprocal, or any duty which is not equal in both kingdoms, in every which case the prohibition may be made reciprocal, or the duties raised so as to make them equal.

8. “ That for the same purpose it is necessary, that no bounties whatsoever should be paid, or payable, in either kingdom, on the exportation of any article to the other, except such as relate to corn, meal, malt, flour, and biscuits, and such as are in the nature of drawbacks or compensations for duties paid, and that no duty should be granted in this kingdom on the exportation of any article imported from the British plantations, or any manufacture made of such article, unless in cases where a similar bounty is payable in Britain, on exportation from thence, or where such bounty is merely in the nature of a drawback or compensation of, or for duties paid over and above any duties paid thereon in Britain.

9. “ That it is expedient, for the general benefit of the British empire, that the importation of articles from foreign states should be regulated from time to time, in each kingdom, on such terms as may afford an effectual preference to the importation of similar articles of the growth, product, or manufacture of the other.

10. “ That it is essential to the commercial interests of this country to prevent, as much as possible, an accumulation of national debt, and therefore it is highly expedient that the annual

revenues of this kingdom should be made equal to its annual ' expences.

11. “ That for the better protection of trade, whatever sum the gross hereditary revenue of this kingdom (after deducting all drawbacks, repayments, or bounties, granted in the nature of draw. backs) shall produce, over and above the sum of 656,00ol. in each year of peace, wherein the annual revenues shall be equal to the annual expences, and in each year of war, without regard to such equality, should be appropriated towards the support of the naval force of the empire, in such manner as the parliament of this kingdom shall direct.”

As soon as the above resolutions had been read, Mr. Pitt rose, and concluded a speech of considerable length with moving “ That it is the opinion of this committee, that it is highly important to the general interest of the empire, that the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland shall be finally adjusted; and that Ireland should be admitted to a permanent and irrevocable participation of the commercial advantages of this country, when the parliament of Ireland shall permanently and irrevocably secure an aid out of the surplus of the hereditary revenue of that kingdom towards defraying the expence of protecting the general commerce of the empire in time of peace.” In the course of his speech, Mr. Pitt took a review of what had already been granted to Ireland by the British parliament, and observed, that the concessions now proposed to be made to that kingdom, in order to put the two countries on a fair and equal footing, he should reduce to two heads : First, the importation of the produce of our colonies in the West Indies and America through Ireland into Great Britain. Second, a mutual exchange between the two countries of their respective productions and manufactures, upon equal terms. With regard to the first, he allowed it had the appearance of militating against the navigation laws, for which England had ever had the greatest partiality. But as she had already allowed Ireland totrade immediately and directly with the colonies, he could not see how the importing of the produce of those colonies circuitously through Ireland into Great Britain could injure the colonial trade of this

country, which was a direct one, and therefore to be made at a less expence and risque, than that which was circuitous. In return for these concessions on the part of Great Britain, he proposed that Ireland should agree to the payment of a certain stipulated sum, yearly, out of the surplus of her hereditary revenue, towards defraying the general expences of the empire.

ad that davan's abilities at more high

Mr. Fox said, he would not take up a great deal of the time of the committee, as he meant not in that stage of the business to go into a discussion of the propositions, a matter that would unavoidably lead him into great length; nor would he debate the general resolution before the committee, which he was glad they were not called upon that day to decide by vote, since it extended to the whole of the resolutions that had been read, and comprehended the extreme of the extraordinary system, the outlines of which had been explained to the committee. He rose, he said, in consequence of some allusions which the right honourable gentleman had made, he supposed, to what he had said in a former debate on the subject of the propositions having been stated to the parliament of Ireland, before they were opened to that House. No man, Mr. Fox declared, thought more highly of the right honourable gentleman's abilities than he did; but nothing he had said that day had in the least altered his opinion of the matter he had just alluded to. He thought it not only highly indecent and disrespectful that the propositions had not been first opened to that House, but a circumstance that might produce consequences of the most mischievous nature. As the business had been managed, there might be, indeed it was true, there would be, some mischief arise if that House did not agree to the propositions; and yet, mischievous as he was free to acknowledge it would be, he, for one, was afraid that he should not be able to give them his consent. Convert the order of the proceeding, and then let the right honourable gentleman see how the matter would have stood. Had the proceeding originated in that House, and had they agreed on any propositions as the basis of a system of intercourse with Ireland, and the parliament of Ireland had afterwards refused its concurrence in those propositions, they would have been then but where they were when they set out, and no great harm would have been done. The case was far otherwise at present.

Mr. Fox, after this remark, said, it had struck him as a singular instance of ingenuity, that, in opening the outlines of the system of intercourse with Ireland in the contemplation of his majesty's ministers, 'the right honourable gentleman had contrived to do away a good deal of what had been said upon the subject in another speech, delivered in another assembly; indeed, the right honourable gentleman's speech, by far the greater part of it, had been little else than an answer to the speech of Mr. Orde in the Irish House of Commons; but, after having read the one, and heard the other, he must do Mr. Orde the justice to say, that he thought he had de fended the propositions, and argued upon them infinitely better than the right honourable gentleman. It was not, however, a little curious to observe, in how different a manner the minister in Ireland and the minister in England had recommended the same propositions to two different parliaments. In Ireland they had been stated as highly advantageous to that country, as putting it upon the same footing with Great Britain, and rendering it an emporium of trade, and the source and supply of the British markets. In England, and in that House, they had been told, the system was advisable, and the propositions were such as this country might gladly accede to — why? “ Because it gives Ireland nothing but what it had before; because Ireland cannot rival you; because Ireland is poor and feeble; and because Ireland must remain so, if not for ever, at least for a considerable length of time.”

Having urged this, Mr. Fox said, he was not certainly prepared, nor was that a fit moment for him to enter at large into his objections to the several propositions, but he entertained many, and those of a nature not very easy to be removed. Some, in fairness and in candour, he would hint at. Among others, the fifth proposition struck him as liable to great objection, and as likely, in its operation, to contradict and destroy the very principle that had been stated to be that on which all the propositions were founded. He entered into a discussion of the nature of what was termed the countervailing duties, and put the case of a piece of broad cloth about to be imported from the country in which it was made. This he argued to its conclusion, and urged that its result would be a direct contravention of the principle of all the resolutions, and a conversion of an established maxim of commercial policy. Mr. Fox also asked how, if the propositions were adopted, they were to guard against the produce of the colonies of foreign states being first smuggled into Ireland, there put on board Irish or British bottoms, and so brought into the ports of this kingdom ? He said that large quantities of rums, sugars, and much other produce of foreign powers might thus be smuggled into Great Britain. The whole tendency of the propositions appeared to him to go the length of appointing Ireland the sole guardian of the laws of navigation, and grand arbitress of all the commercial interests of the empire; a trust which he felt no sort of inclination to part with out of our own hands; not even to Ireland, of whose

« ZurückWeiter »