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20,000,000, and only importing into Great Britain goods whose original cost does not exceed a million, must have sacrificed commerce to empire.
It has been objected that a poor country like Ireland should resort rather to the markets of Europe, which are dear, than to go so far as the East for produce, though that produce should be cheap. It is true, provided you are so poor, and consume very little of those products; but consuming near half a million, of her produce, and manufacturing goods, whereof a produce similar to her's is the primum, the observation which Adam Smith applies to the Swede and the Dane, who are poor and consume but little East India produce, is totally inapplicable to Ireland. She consumes much; she wants the raw articles for manufacture, and she is certain to acquire a new capital. from other countries to carry on this new commerce. Besides, if Adam Smith's observation did apply, it goes not against a trade to the East by an exclusive company; it goes against forcing the poverty of a poor country like Sweden, or limiting the speculation of a rich country like Holland, by an exclusive company; it goes, at the utmost, supposing you poor, as Sweden and Denmark, against establishing an exclusive company in England against yourselves
That this country would be able to carry on this trade has been shown; but it is material to tell you, that capital is now ready to come from England to carry it on. But, it is said, this trade might be prejudicial to the nation, though it might be beneficial to the merchant; that will appear an error, when you recollect that the Company are in your market already; that it is not intended to prohibit them; and that the Irish private merchant can only get into the market, by underselling the English company in Ireland, which will be beneficial to the country, not prejudicial; his profits as a merchant, thereföre, arise from your savings as a nation.
I have gone through all the principle arguments that were offered to this House against the trade of Ireland to the East; and, I think, I have shown what I first declared, tha they have been disproved by facts, as appear from the returns of accounts passed by some of those, by whom these arguments were principally advanced.
A new question seems to arise from a bill now before the House, and purporting to be a bill regulating our trade to the East Indies; of that bill I will say this, it is a surrender of the trade; a surrender, a sacrifice! It cuts you off from China, and from every part of the East, except the ports of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta : it confines you to one ship belonging
to the Company, and limits your exports in that ship to 800 tons, and it prohibits any direct import whatsoever from the East; it therefore presents this question to the House: Will you, inasmuch as Great Britain has now determined to make an exclusive company to the East an essential part and principal of her empire; will you, as an independent Parliament, exercise your authority so as to frustrate totally, or if not, greatly annoy that Company, and annul or disappoint a British act of Parliament ? or will you, for imperial necessity, sacrifice Asiatie commerce? It is a hard question. I am ready to answer: I say, yes; provided the surrender of trade with Asia is compensated by an equal intercourse and trade with England. We give up a great portion of foreign, we ask a free participation of domestic trade. As far as relates to plantations, the trade is rendered equal by the late construction of the act of navigation ; but, as far as relates to home produce and manufacture, the trade is essentially unequal. I will consider it; I will leave the bill, and turn from exclusion in India, to prohibition in England; from an East India bill, by which you have excluded yourselves from the East, to a system of prohibitory duties, by which England has excluded you from Great Britain.
The existing system of trade between Great Britain and Ireland in the articles of home-growth produce and manufacture is the old one, with but few changes. And that old one was a system of injustice. England takes from you your primum of manufacture, and excludes the manufacture itself; England keeps at home the primum of her manufacture, and sends her manufacture to you; she keeps her wool at home, and sends you her drapery, and sometimes sends your own wool, manufactured into cloth. You import all her manufactures, and she refuses to take yours, linen excepted; and the linen excepted, only of one sort.
As far as relates to the home-produce or manufacture; there are two great principles of commercial regulation; one, the open market trade; the other, monopoly: you have adopted neither. You have not the open market, because you exclude the manufactures of other countries to favour England. You have not the monopoly, because you admit the manufactures of England to the exclusion of those of other countries, and every one of your own.
You have taken a third course; you have set up protecting duties, but they are protecting duties for another country, for England, against other nations, and eventually against yourself; whilst she, on the other hand, sets up protecting duties
for herself, and herself only, against you, as well as against the rest of the world.
This is a system of provinciality, of inferiority, of injustice, palpable injustice; this was the system so much complained of at the time of the propositions, and to remove which, some gentlemen were willing to surrender their constitution. It was then said, this country would never flourish so long as Great Britain set up the barrier of English prohibitions against Irish trade.
I own I did not think the injury you suffered from such, to be so great as should induce you to cripple your constitution; but I did, and do, think it considerable. It is inipossible that this country (so was it then urged,) in contiguity to a great island such as England, of great wealth and consumption, should not, in progress of time, export many various articles of manufacture injuring Great Britain. Not in the least; for it is an error in commerce to suppose that what one nation gains the other loses: they both gain; they fructify on one another's industry; they augment mutually their productive labour, and grow and generate on each other's prosperity.
This advantage is denied to Ireland, though allowed to France. Since the French treaty this denial becomes an insult as well as an injury. France receives the manufactures of Ireland; Ireland receives the manufactures of England; England receives the manufactures of France, and excludes those of Ireland.
Thus is your natural enemy, France, preferred by England; and thus does England suffer that natural enemy to favour you more than she, Great Britain, does Ireland !!
This insult and this injury are aggravated by the bill before you, establishing your exclusion from the East, and adding it to her prohibition ; for now your commercial situation is a surrender of foreign trade for a home trade, which is unequal and unjust. You give up for the British empire a trade to the East; and she excludes you from a trade in manufactures with herself. Such a situation is too unequal to last. This day I think you put a period to it. You this day make your claim to the home trade irresistible; such an exertion for the empire is to you irresistible pretensions.
I speak not of any right of Ireland to send her manufactures to England, except the right of justice, of gratitude, mutuality, and equality; a right founded in your surrender of a foreign trade, with every due regard for England. Let me add, that whatever concessions on this head you intend to make, they may derive a momentary sanction from law, but they must
look for permanency to justice; unless they are accompanied with a compensation such as I have stated; unless they are not accompanied with a restriction such as I have stated; unless the opening of the home trade follows the surrender of the foreign one, they cannot last.
In the progress of this bill, gentlemen have spoken of equality; they have said in the introduction, “it is not the regulation, but the principle of the regulation to which you are to advert.” And what is that principle? They themselves have expressed it: “ equality.” Where are we to look for this equality ? not in the surrender of the East India trade to England; no, but an equal, a reciprocal, a mutual trade with England on such duties as exist in that country, where the duties are the lowest, that is, the Irish duty; - an equal trade, I say, to compensate for that unequal, and, if uncompensated, unjust, and unparalleled surrender. Here is their own principle violated indeed in their East India bill, but to be restored by their home trade.
They cannot say that the East India bill puts the Irish on equal terms with the English: the man in Yorkshire receives the benefit of 1,000,0001., annually paid by that Company to the English exchequer in tribute or taxes: do you receive any part of that, or any diminution of your taxes on account of that subsidy? does Indian contribution diminish Irish taxation ? The ex-chartered Englishman, he receives benefit from the annual influence of capital into England, calculated, as I have seen, at many millions : do you receive benefit from any part of that capital ? 80,0001. tonnage belonging to the Company; does not every part of England - does any part of Ireland receive benefit from that addition? In no particular which is essential are you equal under this bill; it remains to make you so under some other settlement; and what settlement remains but the abatement of a barrier established in England against the manufactures of Ireland? What taxes do the East India Company pay in Ireland ? what tribute is paid to the Irish treasury for the exclusion? what millions are annually added to the circulating capital of this country ? what direct import of the produce and treasures of Asia ? none;
But to compensate the inequality arising from a surrender of the possibility of these things, and to restore their own principle of equality, it is incumbent on those gentlemen to procure a mutual and equal intercourse in the home trade.
I have heard the word amity used in the progress of the bill. I adopt the sentiment and the expression; but what foundation of amity so good or lasting as that other principle which the same gentlemen have advanced ? that equality,
commercial equality, which is now only to be looked for in the home trade of Great Britain and Ireland ? And gentlemen may take my word for it, that a monopoly of the trade of Asia, and protecting duties against the trade of Ireland, is not that equality which can be the foundation of that amity. In vain shall we set expressions, however plausible ; you must by acts, I mean by trade, equal trade at home, compensate for unequal trade abroad, and fulfil, in your own islands at least, your principle of equality to perpetuate and secure your other principle of amity.
Gentlemen have said, this is your great and only opportumity. By this great and only opportunity, they mean the East India bill, which contains the surrender of the East India trade. It is a great opportunity, and the only one: but an opportunity to do what? To open the market of England to Ireland, by giving the exclusive market of the East to England; the opportunity of showing Great Britain your affection to the empire, and of advancing, promoting, and securing an equal trade; that commercial harmony and domestic intercourse, and hence the general and particular interest, may
be happily united, and a good and wholesome use made of the East India monopoly.
Gentlemen speak of settlement: here is an opportunity of settlement; and by settlement, I mean the reduction of duties in England on the admission of Irish manufacture, the intercourse in the raw produce; this will be a commercial settlement.
The East India question being settled by surrender, and the question of home trade being settled by equality, on this principle I shall move two resolutions; one respecting the manufactures; the other respecting the raw produce of these kingdoms. I move them not to clog this bill, but to declare a sentiment; I move them as a declaration of our inducements to vote for the East India bill; I move them as the final, unalterable opinion of the House, and a record of the just expectations of the country which I do now prefer as loudly and as fully as any other claim which the justice of England, the interest, and now the grants of Ireland, render irresistible.
I shall vote for the East India bill, which surrenders.your East India trade to England for twenty years. I shall do it, because she finds it necessary to her commercial empire, and because it leads to another necessity equally imperious, the necessity of making in the home trade a compensation to your commercial interest ; and thus you will have settled your commercial jealousies by an oblivion of the Eastern trade, and by amity with England.