« AnteriorContinua »
reinforce the stations abroad, it was necessary to communicate with the Secretary for the Iome Department, who was in possession of those troops. He might be under a misapprehension on this subject, but he could not but think that it would undoubtedly be most desirable that the military arm of the country, at home and abroad,
should be in one hand. He could not omit to say that the Secretary of War could not but consider himself in reality, as he was officially, the head of both services, and competent to dispose of the naval as well as of the military forces of the country. If there should be a diversity of opinion or any disunion between the authorities at the head of the military and naval services, especially in a war which must be carried on by combined operations, the greatest inconvenience and detriment to the public must ensue. He had now to refer to another matter, which concerned more the Members of the Government than the public generally. At the same time, he must say that it would be to him a subject of satisfaction, and he thought it might be conducive to their convenience, as well as to the convenience of the public, if this constitution of a war department were not to lead to the addition of any new person to the Cabinet, or to any alteration in the distribution of official duties. It might be found possible enough for a time-at least as an experiment--to discharge the duties of the Colonial Department with the duties of some other department that was not overburdened.
MR. HUME asked whether ships sailing under the Ionian flag would be considered neutral in the eyes of England and France?
LORD JOHN RUSSELL said, the question with regard to the Ionian Islands. arose at Constantinople on an application made to the Consul of Her Majesty at that port that vessels sailing under the Ionian flag should be allowed to trade with Russia. The Consul thought fit to refuse his sanction, and applied to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe sent the question home; and the Secretaries of State for the Foreign Department and for the Colonial Department were of opinion that vessels sailing under the Ionian flag could not be considered neutral, and that it was impossible to allow them to carry on trade with the ports of Russia. The case was referred to the law officers of the Crown of this country, and they, having had under their consideration the treaty of Paris, were of opinion that the Ionian Republic, being under the protection of Her Ma
State, and that the Ionian Republic must take part with Great Britain with respect to the war in which she was engaged, though not bound to carry on active measures of warfare. Such had been the result of the opinion given by the law officers of the Crown; and, therefore, vessels sailing under the Ionian flag were not to be considered as sailing under a neutral flag.
THE EARL OF ABERDEEN: The subject that has been adverted to by my noble Friend has for some time engaged the con-jesty, could not be considered as a neutral sideration of the Government. The emergency of the time imperatively demands such consideration; but I am not in a condition to explain to my noble Friend or to the House what is the result of the inquiry, and of the consideration that has been given to this subject. My noble Friend has suggested various measures for our adoption. We are obliged to him for furnishing us with his ideas on the subject, and, of course, whatever falls from him naturally deserves attention on the part of those for whose advantage it is uttered; but I will say this, that when the result on this subject shall be arrived at, which will be without any delay whatever, I trust it will be satisfactory to this Ilouse and to the country.
House adjourned to Friday next.
THE WAR WITH RUSSIA-OPERATIONS
this time I have no doubt the French and English fleet combined are in the Gulf of Finland, forming twenty-eight sail-of-theline, with frigates and other vessels in proportion.
CUSTOMS DUTIES (SUGAR) BILL. Order for Committee read; Instruction
to make provision in the Bill pursuant to the 4th Resolution of the Committee of Ways and Means, which was reported and agreed to on the 29th day of May last. House in Committee.
On Clause 1 (Duties on Sugar and Molasses to be levied after the 5th day of July, 1854),
SIR JAMES GRAHAM: The Admiralty received to day a despatch from Sir Charles Napier, dated the 23rd of May, off Ilango, where he was at anchor, with cight sail of the line and some smaller vessels, in the Bay of Hango, at the entrance of the Gulf of Finland. He sends an account of an exploit, which, though not on a large scale, is yet a very gallant to the Committee, that they have power feat of arms performed by one of Her Majesty's frigates and a small steamer. It appears that on the 21st of May they heard of three large Russian merchantmen in an inlet about ten miles inland, and placed under the fire of a fortress of very considerable strength. A steam frigate the Arrogant, commanded by Captain Yelverton, and a small steamer, the Hecla, MR. MOFFATT moved, as an Amendunder the command of an officer very well ment, " that foreign refined sugar be adknown to the House and the country-Imitted on the 5th day of July at 16s. per mean Captain Hall, formerly better known cwt., as provided by Act of Parliament.' as Captain Nemesis Hall, for his distin- The difficulties as to the application of this guished conduct in China; these vessels measure were felt to press very unjustly on proceeded up the inlet, which is very nar- those principally interested in the question, row, and the latter part of it under the and he hoped that Government would not fire of musketry from a considerable mili- urge the Bill, as it at present stood, upon tary force on shore. Captain Hall cut out, the acceptance of the House. The modiunder the fire of the battery, and within fications which had been introduced into 400 yards of it, the only one of the three the Bill wore, no doubt, intended to affect merchantmen that was afloat, and brought foreign refined sugar, and to act as a proit off, having triumphantly executed the tection to home refiners; but they would duty on which he was despatched. Sir not, in his opinion, answer any such purCharles Napier observes, that this is an pose. At first it was proposed to exexploit worthy of the British arms in the clude foreign refined sugar until the 16th best times of our naval history. And August, as a protection to the refiners; what must be particularly satisfactory to but they now proposed a differential duty the House is, that, notwithstanding the of 1s. 4d. per cwt., which was so small doubts that were entertained with regard that it would not prevent a single hogsto the manning of the British Navy, Cap-head coming in. He therefore proposed tain all received his appointment only that the distinction should be expunged: three months ago, and the Hecla was one it would not make a difference of 5,000l. of the last ships commissioned. Ile to the revenue. manned the ship in a very short time, and MR. J. WILSON could not understand with a very considerable proportion of for what purpose the hon. Member perwhat might be called landsmen. If I had severed in his Amendment after the quesbeen called on to mention the ship in Her tion of compromise had been fairly and Majesty's service that was least perfectly virtually agreed on out of doors, both by manned, I should have named the Hecla; importers and refiners. He could not see yet such is the character of British sea what induced the hon. Member so needmen, that the execution of this daring ex-lessly to interfere on the subject, and he ploit has been performed in a most brilliant and successful manner. Sir Charles Napier adds, that on the following day, in an attack on two forts, the conduct of two others of Her Majesty's ships was very distinguished; and the whole state of the fleet was reported by Sir Charles Napier as most satisfactory. The French fleet had not joined. It was expected to join in five or six days from the 23rd; and by
hoped that the Committee would not entertain the Amendment, which, if carried, would, notwithstanding the statement of the hon. Gentleman, make a considerable difference to the revenue.
MR. HORSFALL did not speak on the question the other evening, because he was desirous to ascertain the feeling of those interested before he expressed an opinion upon it. He had since had an
MR. BLACKETT had received a communication from some of his constituents to the effect that they were very much dissatisfied with the Government proposition. Ile should therefore support the Amendment.
MR. ARCHIBALD HASTIE said, he believed that the mode of proceeding suggested by Government would give univer
MR. MOFFATT said, that the interests he represented had no desire to avoid a fair share of a war tax, but they did object to be unreasonably or unfairly taxed. The hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury was mistaken in supposing that the Government proposition gave general satisfaction. He knew that in the City of London it had given very great dissatisfaction. He would, however, if it were the feeling of the House, withdraw his Amend
opportunity of secing some of the leading against foreign invasion, and not whether
MR. J. L. RICARDO, on the contrary, hoped the hon. Gentleman would press it to a division. He could see no reason why, because we were involved in a war, it was imperative or necessary to alter the relative duties between raw and refined sugar, which were definitively settled during the Government of the late Sir Robert Peel. The mode of proceeding proposed by the Government was, in fact, nothing less than giving protection to foreign refiners in contradistinction to and against British refiners. Such alterations as those proposed might just as well have been made seven or eight years ago as at the present time, and, inasmuch as they were quite unnecessary, he must say that he looked upon them as merely going back to the system of taxation and protective duties upon manufactured articles.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER said, he was very much disposed to agree with the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, that there was something of the character of protection in what the Government proposed to effect by the measure they were now disputing; but, at the same time, he thought that that protection was diametrically the reverse of what it was represented to be by the hon. Gentle nian. The question really was, whether we should give protection to British interests
rectifying its own mistake, and mitigating and refined sugars bore the same proporthe pressure upon him. The Government tion to each other as did the old duties had felt it to be its duty to endeavour of 10s. and 13s. 4d. The same relato make some arrangement, in order to tion subsisted between 12s. and 16s. as meet the case; and, having to consult va- between 10s. and 13s. 4d.-that was, the rious interests and various claims the smaller amount in each case was exactly claims of the British producer of raw three-fourths of the larger; so that, in sugar, of the refiner of sugar from abroad, fact, no alteration whatever had been made and the refiner of sugar at home-he did in the proportion. not think that a fairer arrangement could' have been made than that which his hon. Friend (Mr. Wilson) now proposed. Although they might not have succeeded in satisfying everybody, yet the testimony which had been borne by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall)—whose constituents were more interested in the question than any other class-was a proof that they had succeeded to a very considerable extent.
MR. HUDSON would support the proposition of the Government as a fair compromise, and hoped the hon. Member would not divide the House.
MR. MUNTZ said, that though the arrangement might be satisfactory to the refiners, there was great dissatisfaction with the Government proposal among large consumers of sugar, from whom he had received representations on the subject, and if the Amendment were pressed to a division he should certainly support it.
On the proposition that the duty on yellow muscovado be 12s. per cwt.,
MR. MILNER GIBSON wished to ask on what principle the difference had been made in relation to the duties on raw and refined sugars—whether any new saccharometer had been invented, or the Secretary of the Treasury had discovered that nobody had known until now the relative proportions of saccharine matter which raw and refined sugar contained? Unless this change had been made upon some scientific principle, they were certainly giving an improper protection to the refiner by raising the duty upon refined sugar more than the duty upon raw. Unless some explanation were given he must agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ricardo) that the Government had made a retrograde step.
MR. J. WILSON said, the change had certainly been made upon scientific principles, for it had been made in accordance with the rules of arithmetic. If the right hon. Gentleman would make a rule of three sum of it, he would find that the proposed duties of 12s. and 16s. on raw The Chancellor of the Exchequer
MR. MOFFATT said, the answer of his hon. Friend was based on the assumption that the sugars which the refiner would use would pay a duty of 12s. per cwt., whereas there could be no doubtand he had the authority of men of great experience in the sugar trade for the statement-that the sugar which would go exclusively to the refineries would be that which would be admitted under the new scale at 11s. per cwt., so that the hon. Gentleman's rule of three sum was not quite so clear as he made out. The prac tical effect of this Bill would be to put the whole system of the duties on sugar on a sliding scale, and it was to the great uncertainty which must result from this that the sugar importers mainly objected. He should therefore move the omission of the new differential duty on muscovado sugar.
MR. J. L. RICARDO also expressed himself dissatisfied with the hon. Gentle
man's answer. At present the differential duty in favour of the refined sugar was 3s. 4d. per cwt.; under the proposed arrangement it would be 5s.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER said, the question at present before the Committee was the propriety of proposing a duty of 12s. per cwt. upon
yellow muscovado and brown clayed sugar, or sugar rendered by any process equal in quality to yellow muscovado or brown clayed, and not equal to white clayed, according to a standard to be furnished by the Treasury." Did hon. Gentlemen object to that proposition? ["No, no!"] Then, if that proposition were not objected to, he fell back at once upon his hon. Friend's rule of three sum. It was exceedingly inconvenient to be discussing two questions at once; and the proper time to deal with the 11s. duty would be when they came to it.
MR. MOFFATT said, that "yellow muscovado sugar was of an entirely new description in our market, and he would move, as an Amendment, that the words “yellow muscovado " be omitted from the clause. As regarded colonial sugar, he believed
that great inconvenience would be expe- into this country above proof and under rienced from the passing of this clause. proof. Government proposed to allow very He objected to the proposed mode of de- low sugars to come in at a lower rate termining the amount of the duty by a of duty than at present, and no objection standard to be furnished by the Treasury, had been made to the proposal by the and of charging "yellow muscovado trade. On the contrary, the numerous 12s., and "brown muscovado" 11s. per deputations which he had received upon cwt. The tests proposed, he understood, the subject considered the new arrangewere granulation, colour, and quantity of ment nothing but a fair and equitable adsaccharine matter. But he defied his right justment of the duties. No doubt there hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exche- must be difficulties in establishing a stanquer, together with his hon. Friend the dard, and it would be much better for the Secretary of the Treasury, with all their Custom-House officers if the sugars which knowledge of sugar, to distinguish by these were brought over were of uniform quality, tests between any two. The tests were of so that the duty could be uniformly charged; the most fallacious kind. At present the but as that was not the case, there was no system was in operation with respect to reason why an attempt should not be made about 20,000 tons of the sugar annually to levy the duties as equally as possible. imported; but, although so limited in its The difficulty of levying the duty had been application, it led to great inconvenience, exaggerated. At first there was a diffiuncertainty, and delay, and to frequent culty, but the Custom-House officers and appeals to the Treasury. If it were now the trade had now learnt to understand extended to the remaining 380,000 tons, each other better. He wished that some these evils would, of course, be very greatly arrangement could be come to, to which no increased. The importers did not care objection could be attached, but as that whether the duty was 11s. per cwt. or was an impossibility, the present arrange12s., but they objected very much to the ment was offered as the best solution of mode in which the duty was to be charged. the difficulty. The principle was not new; The distinction proposed to be made would it was only extending, for the first time, to involve a sacrifice of revenue, which was muscovado sugars, the produce of our own wholly unnecessary, to the amount of colonies, the precise principle which in 150,000l. a year, and it would be giving a 1848 was applied to brown clayed sugars. premium of 11. per ton to the producer of He believed that those who were best acbad sugar. quainted with the subject, and who were most deeply interested in it in the colonies, admitted that the proposal was as fair a compromise and as proper a solution of the question as could be made.
Amendment proposed, page 1, line 19, to leave out the words " Yellow Muscovado and Brown Clayed Sugar, or Sugar rendered by any process equal in quality to Yellow."
MR. J. WILSON defended the clause. If they charged the same duty upon sugar which would yield but 40 lbs. or 50 lbs. of refined sugar to the cwt. as they did upon sugar which would yield 90 lbs., it was obvious that the pressure of the tax would be most unequal. A very strong feeling had arisen in favour of refining in bond, and he was not prepared to say that, if refining in bond could have been permitted without involving extensive restrictions and impositions on trade, it would not have been by far the best mode of levying the duties. But, as this could not be done, it was only right to make a difference in the amount of duty, and the arrangement now proposed was, in fact, only an extension of the principle which was already in operation with respect to refined sugars, and which was acted upon also in assessing the duties upon spirits imported
MR. GREGSON did not assent to the statement of the hon. Member for Ashburton (Mr. Moffatt) that the importers did not care what the amount of duty was. For his own part, he hoped that a considerable quantity would come in at the 11s. duty. Although the consumption of sugar had increased in ten years from 200,000 to 400,000 tons, the total amount of duty was the same upon the larger as it had been upon the smaller quantity. And with respect to price, what had formerly cost 23,000,0001. now cost 14,000,000l., consequently there was a saving to the public in the reduction of the price and the duty of 8,000,000l. or 9,000,000l. a year. They had, therefore, every reason to be satisfied with the position in which they stood; and he thought the proposed increase, from 10s. to 12s. per cwt., under present circumstances, very moderate.
MR. THOMSON HANKEY said, the