and, except for the direct promise conveyed to Canada in a former session, he would not, in the present sensitive state of the agricultural interest, have brought forward at all a question tending to create uneasiness among them. He brought it forward now, not as a measure of free-trade—not as a means of facilitating the admission of foreign corn into this country, for it could have no such effect— but as a boon to Canada, which she had reason to expect, and of which the refusal would be highly injurious to her interests and feelings. His proposal was, not to let American wheat into England, but to let into England Canadian wheat and flour ground in Canada, from whatever growth it might be manufactured, at reduced duties. That was in accordance with the broad principle of the Navigation Act –“ that all manufactured goods shall be deemed to be the produce of the country in which they are manufactured;" and in that way, ostrich feathers dressed in France were deemed French produce, though, of course, not so in fact. Some had talked of this as a measure for letting wheaten produce into . land through a Canadian “ba

door;” but this back-door had been open these fifteen years—ever since the Corn-law of 1828; and the effect of the present Measure was to take a toll of 3s. at that door, instead of allowing all wheat to pass through it into Canada, as at present, duty free. On wheat direct from the United States, the duty would remain unaltered. Lord Stanley argued that the imposition of what was tantamount to a fixed duty of 4s. on wheat from Canada would not be inconsistent with the sliding scale on

foreign corn – since already the duty on Canadian corn, although the scale extended from 1s. to 5s., only oscillated between 2s. and 3s., the sliding scale being there inapplicable; while in the other case the oscillation was to the extent of 20s., so that no fair average could be struck. Would the duty be levied in Canada? for he admitted, that if not, that would be a strong argument against his Measure. He described the geographical character of the boundary, and showed the physical impracticability of smuggling so bulky an article as corn to any great extent from America into Canada; and if it were attempted on the boundary, it would be met by persons interested in preventing it; it would be as difficult as to smuggle wheat into Kent or Sussex, The whole quantity of wheaten produce which, within the entire period of the last thirteen years, had come into this country from Canada, either in the shape of wheat or of flour, was only 1,153,000 quarters, being about 90,000 per annum; and this under a state of law which imposed no duty at all upon American wheat entering Canada. He quoted some observations published in an Ohio paper upon this intended Measure of the British Government, to the effect that the American corn-grower would not be enabled by means of it to bring his produce to England. He advocated this Measure, therefore, not as a free-trade proposal for letting in American corn, but as a proposal for the benefit of our Canadian fellow subjects, just emerged from a civil war, just consolidated into one province, and confiding with a friendly spirit in the disposition of the Mothercountry to deal kindly and justly by them. To show how far Government were pledged, he quoted his own reply in opposing Mr. Smith O'Brien's proposal last session, to impose a duty of 1s. on corn the produce of all countries out of Europe; he had then said, “If there were any alteration of the law which regulated the importation of wheat into Canada— if they passed such a restriction on wheat going into Canada as would free this country from competition with American corn under the name of Canadian corn—then the Canadian would be entitled to a greater relief.” He concluded by moving that the Speaker should leave the chair, in order that the House might go into Committee. Mr. Labouchere moved an Amendment upon Lord Stanley's resolutions. He defended his consistency in opposing the Motion, by referring to the measure of Lord Grey's Government in 1831, to abolish certain duties on provisions imported into Canada, and his own resistance last year to Lord Stanley's proposal to impose a duty on salted provisions and flour imported into the Colony. He would not abolish all duties for Colonial protection, but he would not raise up any men protection. He was certain that the people of Canada would not long feel an disappointment: for if the Measure were operative, it must raise the price in that, an importing country. He did not think that there would be no protection, nor did he think it proved that there would be no smuggling: there would be much protection and some smuggling. When a duty was imposed on tea, imported into Canada, Lord Sydenham said that all the colonists had become smugglers; and it would be the interest

of the Canadian millers to smuggle corn into the province. The Canadians were already busying themselves about “drawbacks" and other machinery of a complex system. And as to the colonies being English counties, if a low duty was to be allowed on Canadian corn, why not one proportionately low on Jamaica sugar P He moved an address to the Crown to withhold the Royal assent from the Bill passed by the Canadian Legislature. Mr. Thornely seconded the Amendment. Mr. G. Heathcote and Mr. Miles, both leading Members in the landed interest, opposed the resolutions, as disturbing the settlement of the Corn-laws. Lord Howick argued that the Measure would do little for Canada and not much for England; the expence of carriage of American corn would prevent it. He approved of the fixed duty, but not of its collection in lightly-taxed Canada; it should be collected where it would relieve the English consumer. But he most strongly objected to instituting a new protection in Canada. Mr. Charles Buller supported the Motion as a free-trader, since it tended to introduce more flour here; and Canada had a right to decide which of two restrictive systems it would prefer, the existing one with England, or the new one with America. Mr. Roebuck could not support Mr. Labouchere's interference with the Canadian Legislature; and he ridiculed the idea of excessive importations through Canada; but he should oppose the Measure, as Canada could not grow enough wheat for herself, and smuggling would be encouraged.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Wodehouse, after twentyfive years' adherence to the party of Ministers, must vote against the Measure, as it must lead to the discouragement of cultivation throughout the country.

Mr. Ellice supported the Motion —he still thought, that of all taxes the worst possible was one upon the food of the people, and that English agriculturists had nothing to fear from competition with the whole world; but he was opposed to sudden changes—as he had shown in opposing Sir Robert Peel's Currency Bill in 1819, though he did not differ with its principles: and afterwards in opposing attempts to disturb that settlement of the currency. He contradicted Mr. Roebuck's assertion that Canada could not grow enough corn for its own consumption. If the landed gentry really wished to encourage the agriculture of Canada, and if they wished to encourage the settlement of emigrants, then they would not oppose themselves to the present Measure. There was no measure less important to thein, or more advantageous to Canada jointly with this country, than the Bill now before the House. He thought there was some reason to complain of any taxes being imposed on the intercourse between Canada and the United States; but he also was aware that it was ruinous to a protected interest to expose it all at once to the difficulties of competition. It had been said that in common years Canada would not be able to supply any considerable quantity of corn; he was not quite sure of that—he thought still that there would be a surplus. He did not apprehend that there was the least risk of Smuggling as between Canada and

the United States. There were only two districts from which corn could come; the one was Genesse, on the borders of Lake Ontario, and the other the Western States lying above the Falls of Niagara. Now, the weight of a quarter of corn was 500 pounds; surely the expense of transit must completely preclude any chance of smuggling such an article as that when the duty was only 3s. He would willingly admit all American corn direct to our ports at a fixed duty of 4s. ; but he supported this Measure as a step towards free-trade. He could assure the House, that Canada was now suffering from an embarrassment of trade such as was unknown in the colony; and if the present Measure were defeated, she could scarcely ever recover the blow, and they would greatly add to the difficulties which already beset the path of the Governor, who had been sent out to establish peace and concord. Mr. j. O'Brien supported the Measure, as an approximation to his own proposition of last year. He only objected that it did not go far enough, and include all our Colonies, particularly Prince Edward's Island, of which the Legislature has passed an Act similar to that passed in Canada. He repudiated the idea of supporting Ministers; if his vote would turn the scale against their continuance in office, he doubted whether he should not even vote against his opinions for the purpose. Mr. Hume contended that the only remedy for the embarrassing uncertainty of the farmers was to be found in a free-trade in corn. He predicted that Sir Robert Peel and his friends would ultimately discover that they could not, because they had a majority, command the price of corn. However, putting the 3s. duty out of the question, as a matter entirely at the disposal of the Colonial Legislature, and very properly left so by Government, he supported the proposition to admit Canadian corn at a fixed duty of 1s. But the Canadians had built their calculations of advantage on the supposition that no such distinctions would be made as that between grain and flour; and in that respect the Measure did not fulfil Lord Stanley's pledges; Mr. Hume thought they were entitled to the admission of wheat passed through Canada at 1s., duty. He believed that the fixed duty of 1s. would soon bring about free-trade direct with the United States; therefore he supported the Government proposition. Major Cumming Bruce said, he had promised his constituents to oppose the Measure, but he had been convinced by Lord Stanley's speech that it would increase rather than diminish protection; he had pledged himself that no vote of his should damage a Government in which he had confidence; and, therefore, he should vote for the resolutions, on the ground of his own honour and consistency, being ready to resign his trust, if his constituents disapproved of his conduct. Mr. F. T. Baring contended that if the Measure were good for Canada, it must be so for the neighbouring colonies, and he asked, if a course of protection were begun in Canada, where would it stop P Sir Robert Peel said, he would confine himself to two points—the character of the Motion, and the circumstances under which the Government had brought it for

ward. He dwelt upon the embarrassing position in which the Crown would be placed if urged by the House to withhold its assent from a Measure recommended by the Crown to the Canadian Legislature; while it was well known, that if the House refused its assent to the resolutions, the Crown would withhold its assent from the Canadian Bill ; a much fitter course for the House to adopt, than to ask the Crown to withhold its assent from almost the first measure passed by the United Legislature of Canada. In giving power to the Canadian Legislature the House of Commons took security that Acts of the Colonial Parliament relating to rights of the Crown, the Clergy reserves, and ecclesiasticalestablishments,should be laid before the House for at least thirty days before receiving the Royal assent; but by not asking for reservation regarding other measures, it was tacitly conceded. He assured Mr. Baring that the Measure was contemplated by Government last year. On the 25th February, Mr. Gladstone had abandoned the proposed duty of 3s. on corn imported into Canada, which had met with objection on the constitutional principle against duties levied by the Imperial Parliament on articles imported into a colony having an independent Legislature; on the 28th, Lord Stanley had made that abandonment an objection to Mr. Smith O'Brien's proposition to admit wheat into this country from places out of Europe at 1s. ; at the same time saying, that if a restriction were imposed on wheat imported into Canada, the Canadians would be entitled to relief. What was the language of the leaders of the Opposition on that occasion [Lord John Russell—“I never heard the noble Lord's remarks."] But the mover of the present amendment did ; and he said—“The Canadian people are the best judges of the benefit which they will gain from such a measure, and their own Colonial Representatives should decide as to its advantages or disadvantages. I will not assert that it will not be right for the Government to confirm this act, if they agree to the Measure ; upon that point I will express no opinion ; but I do contend that the Legislature of England has no right to meddle with a plan the effects of which are supposed exclusively to be confined to one of her colonies.” (Cheers and counter cheers.) Sir Robert Peel continued—“Now I do not contend for one moment that the right honourable gentleman pledged himself by those expressions to support the Canadian Measure; but I do say, that he used language which, in conjunction with the language of the Government, might have fairly justified the Canadians in believing that if they passed such a law as they have passed, he would not be the man to ask the House of Commons to address the Crown to refuse that law its sanction.” Sir Robert Peel proceeded to contend that the particular instance constituted no abandonment of the principle of a varying duty. There was no question of a fixed duty; but the question was, whether for political reasons it was not better to give Canada greater facilities of commercial access; and his opinion was, that the agriculturists might give that access without running any risk of injuring their own interests. ...All the speeches on the Opposition

side confirmed that opinion, for they said that the Measure would increase protection. And he would ask a question—“I am taunted with adopting a fixed duty; will honourable gentlemen opposite tell me how they would deal with a fixed duty in this case ? There is to be, according to their plan, a fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on foreign corn; now, what will they do with colonial produce? I presume they would not subject that produce to a duty of the same amount P But the American corn —corn of foreign growth—comes to England through Canada; how could they levy a fixed duty of 8s. on American corn brought from New York and New Orleans, and, nevertheless, permit American corn to come to this country duty free through Canada? (Loud cheers.) I should like to know how they would deal with that fact? would not that be opening a “back-door?" Would not that be giving a preference to the Western States over the Southern. (IRepeated cheers.) Or, perhaps, honourable Gentlemen would propose to apply only a duty of 1s to corn passing through Canada P But in this case there would be an undue preference given to America over other nations.” The point, however, on which he o rested his defence of the fixed duty, was, that in Canada the duty could be taken in no other form. After pointing out some inconsistencies in the several opinions of his opponents, Sir Robert Peel des. circumstances of the colony when the Measure was proposed —“We found a strong and almost unanimous feeling in Canada, that the greatest advantage would arise to Canada if its wheat and

« ForrigeFortsett »