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Ireland, be permitted to be imported from
April 8. Lord Midleton brought up the report of the Committee. The first and second Resolutions were ordered to be recommitted; the other three were agreed to by the House.
April 9. Lord Midleton reported from the Committee to whom the first and second Resolutions were recommitted, the Resolutions which the committee had directed him to report to the House; read, and are as followeth, viz. “That all goods, wares, and merchandize, being the produce or manufacture of the kingdom of Ireland, or commodities of the growth, produce, or manufacture of Great Britain, legally imported into Ireland, or foreign certificate goods i. imported from Great Britain into Ireland, be permitted to be exported directly from the said kingdom, in British ships navigated according to law, to be imported into any of the British plantations, or to any of the settlements belonging to Great Britain on the coast of Africa, wool and woollen manufactures only excepted. “That all goods, wares, and merchandize, being the produce of any of the British plantations, or any of the settlements belonging to Great Britain on the coast of Africa, be permitted to be exported from thence into the said kingdom of Ireland, tobacco only excepted.” Mr. Burke moved, that the first Resolution be recommitted. The House resolved itself immediately into a committee on the first Resolution. Mr. Burke’s amendment was agreed to ; and the House being resumed, lord Midleton reported the Resolution as follows: “Resolved, That all goods, wares, and merchandize, being the produce or manufacture of the kingdom of Ireland, wool and woollen manufactures only excepted, or commodities of the growth, produce, or manufacture of Great Britain, legally imported into Ireland, or foreign certificate goods legally imported from Great Britain into Ireland, be permitted to be exported directly from the said kingdom in British ships navigated according to law, to be imported into any of the British plantations, or to any of the settlements belonging to Great Britain on the coast of Africa.” Sir Cecil Wray, on the second Resolu
tion, begged the House to proceed on so
* “A strong opposition was forming against the Irish Bills, which were founded upon the Resolutions already stated. A general alarm was spread, through most of the trading and manufacturing parts of the kingdom. They considered the admittance of Ireland to an participation in trade, as not only destructive in the most ruinous degree of their property, but as being equally subversive of their rights. They were as little disposed to consent that the people of Ireland should cultivate their own manufactures, and dispose of their native commodities at the proper foreign markets, as they were to admit them to any limited degree of participation. In a word, a foreign invasion could scarcely have excited a greater alarm. It ran like an infection every where, and took such absolute possession of the mind, that the recent, and immediately sore-felt example of
May 4. A Petition being presented from the manufacturers of Somersetshire against the Bill for permitting the importation of sail-cloth from Ireland,
Mr. Burke observed, that it was he who through mistake had moved for leave to bring in the Bill, though, upon enquiry, he had since discovered, that such a law was already in being. If the Bill would be productive of the consequences stated in the Petition, it was a little extraordinary the petitioners forgot to complain when they were hurt; and now felt so strongly, when there was not even a possibility of sustaining any injury. From this he inferred, that the jealousy entertained of the other Irish Bills was equally ill-founded, and only originated in gross prejudice, or the selfish views of a few interested individuals.
The Petition was ordered to lie on the table.
May 6. The order of the day for the second reading of the Bill “to permit the Importation of sail cloth and cordage of the manufacture of Ireland, into this kingdom, duty free,” being read,
Sir Cecil Wray moved, that it be read a second time this day three months, which was agreed to.
On the motion for the second reading of the Bill “to permit the importation of certain goods from the British plantations
America, with respect to any general application of causes to effects, was totally forgotten. The city of London preserved the dignity of so great and majestic an emporium, and continued uninfluenced by common opinion, and unmoved by popular clamour. The Easter recess afforded time and opportunity for public meetings, for the preparation of petitions, and of instructions to representatives, which were accordingly brought up in considerable numbers at the meeting of parliament. A curious circumstance occurred upon this occasion, which afforded a striking instance of the eagerness with which ill-founded popular apprehensions, may, in certain cases, be received and communicated. A motion had been made, and a Bill accordingly brought in, for the importation of sail-cloth from Ireland. This was however founded totally in error, and Mr. Burke, who brought it in afterwards, discovered that the liberty of importing Irish sail-cloth was already established, by a positive law of long standing. Yet this Bill was as violently opposed by petitions from different parts of the kingdom, and as strongly charged with the most ruinous consequences, as any of the other four Bills its companions, which were all founded upon new ground.” Annual Register.
in America, or the British settlements on the coast of Africa, into the kingdom of Ireland, Sir Cecil Wray took a general review of the commercial state of Ireland, and expressed his hearty wishes, that the British parliament might render her every assistance in its power, without infringing on the trade of Great Britain. He said he had no objection to admit of Ireland’s participating equally with us of the benefits of a free trade, provided she bore an equal share of our national burthens; but that was not the case, Ireland was computed to contain two million of souls, and they were taxed at one million; 10s. each upon an average; that Great Britain having six million of souls, and her taxes being twelve million, each inhabitant was taxed 40s. an astonishing difference, and such as could not justify the introduction of the *}. now depending. He well knew the orievances of the former country, and lamented them; among which were the Irish pension list, the sinecure offices, the Roman Catholic bills, the absentees, and various others; and assured the House he would gladly join in redressing them; but the present business was of too serious and complicated a nature to be hurried through at the latter end of a session; that, in his opinion, the trade of Ireland should be referred to a committee, who should minutely investigate it, and report it to the House, who might then take the whole into consideration, and endeavour to relieve them. As to a rebellion in Ireland, in consequence of a non-compliance with the present request, he had no idea of it; the people at large were not interested in the event; a few merchants of Cork, Dublin, &c. might; but the opulent were not the men for rebellion; they were the poor and indigent; if America had been rich, she would never have been in rebellion; the rich only are calculated for slaves. If these Bills passed, he would not answer but a rebellion might happen in England, because our manufacturers would be out of employ; and as a further consideration, a part of our sea nursery would be destroyed by the passing of these Bills-On the whole, sir Cecil was of opinion, that the present measure was brought into the House at a very improper time, when the minds of men were taken up with matters of the most singular importance; and, besides, at the conclusion of the session. A matter of such magnitude, as overthrowing the whole system of
our trade laws, was not of light considera-, of Glasgow, against the charge of having tion; and ought not to be hurried on in a entertained diabolical motives. He read sudden and indecent manner. Besides, the petition, and spoke highly in favour of the petitions on the table, deserved par- the liberality and philanthropy of the ticular attention; the petitioners were men Glasgow merchants, at the same time sayof a description entitled to respect, and a ing, they so far gave preference to their patient hearing; and he would appeal to own, before any foreign country, that they the candour of gentlemen on every side of could not see its interests violated, as they the House, whether now, on the 6th of imagined, without exerting their endeaMay, was a proper time to enter into so vours to prevent it. If the Bills passed laborious and important an investigation ? | into a law, the city of Glasgow would in a He professed the best disposition towards particular manner, be affected. They had. the whole Irish nation ; said, he was ready in common with the rest of Scotland, emto concur, at any time, in whatever might barked in the same bottom with England, promote the true interest of that country; and become liable to a proportion of the and if the amendment which he meant to national debt, for the sake of enjoying an propose should meet the sentiments of the equality of commerce. On that foundaHouse, he would move for a committee, tion they had laid out immense sums of before the House rose, to take into consi- money in the cultivation of the sugar-trade; deration, early in the next session, the re- they had considered it as an hereditary strictive laws on the trade of Ireland ; and right, depending on the security of the do all in his power to forward the interests acts in their favour; and it was, in a great of that country, where they did not imme-degree, their only property and wealth. diately interfere with those of England. A great part of their annual returns flowed He concluded by moving, “ That the Bill | from Ireland, and they would be most mabe read a second time upon this day three terially injured if that kingdom should months.”
participate the trade with them. He conSir Thomas Egerton seconded the' mo- sidered the present Bills as improper on tion. He said the loss to Manchester, in another account. By their passing, they checks only, if these Bills passed, would would stand in the way of an Union, which be 100,0001. annually; he begged the be considered as the only solid basis of House would at least hear counsel for the equality that could be built upon. He different petitioning towns, before they therefore hoped the House would agree passed them; and agreed in recommend to the amendment. ing the Irish trade to be referred to a Viscount Midleton said, he had heard committee, of which he would readily that the people of Manchester and Liver. make one, and give it all the attention and pool had determined, nothwithstanding assistance in his power.
| their late exertions, to be no longer loyal Mr. T. Townshend said, the proposition if these Bills should pass. He was sensiof going into a committee, was little ble that these towns, as well as Glasgow, better than a direct negative. It held out were experienced in rebellion so abunno security, but a vague promise to move dantly, that the transition would be an ob. a committee, which committee would ject of easy accomplishment, and the appoint another committee. On these world would entertain little surprize if grounds, he entirely disapproved of the they threw aside their new-fangled opi. Amendment.
nion. He could not enough wonder, that Earl Nugent particularly adverted to the hon, gentleman should, of all men, the motives which had actuated the peti I plead the hereditary right of the city of tioners against the Bills, and in a peculiar Glasgow to the commerce of the English, manner he spoke to the conduct of the on the principle of having taken upon city of Glasgow, who had, with the most themselves a proportion of the national illiberal sentiments, prayed that neither debt. He thought a gentleman of that the present, nor any future advantage country ought to have been silent upon should be granted to Ireland, that might, that head. in the least degree, operate to the disad Lord North was of opinion, that as the vantage of Britain. "He could not, he expectations of the Irish were raised from said, bestow upon this conduct a term what the House had already done, it would vile enough; it was mean, unmanly, un. be unwise to protract the business to angenerous, despicable, and even diabolical. other session. The gentlemen who op.
Sir Adam Ferguson defended the city | posed the Bill seemed all to agree in one point, that something ought to be done for ment and loyalty to the government of their relief, though they differed about the this country. Such had been her connature and extent of what ought to be duct, and her reward had been restriction done. He saw no reason, however, why and bondage of the most cruel nature. the present Bill should not pass, since the He did not mean, he said, by describing House might, notwithstanding, appoint a her situation, to engage the humanity of committee to enquire into the state of the the House in her favour : he knew very trade, that from their report a plan might well they were but poor resources. The be adopted. He did not see the mighty people of Ireland would not accept of fa. difficulty that was said to exist, in calcu. vours flowing from the humanity of the lating the difference necessarily to arise in House. They called for justice, not for the annual imports, by the effect of the pity. They requested Britain to be wise, Bill before the House. It would create not to be generous; to provide for her small difference, comparatively speaking, own good, and secure her own interest, in the revenue, since the dininution in the sensible that wisdom and prudence would imports of one place would give an addi- dictate, that to accomplish these, a tion to those of another, as the difference contrary conduct towards them was ne. of duty on the enumerated articles was cessary. very trifling. He held it as the duty of The hon. gentlemen who opposed the Britain to give Ireland a degree, at least, Bill, had drawn into collection the arguof recompence for the exertions she had ments and reasons they maintained to made, supposing we were not inclined, in exist against all the Bills, meaning, no policy, to give her relief from the restric. doubt, thereby to prejudice the House the tions she laboured under, and he hoped more by their aggregate effect. Though the House would agree to the present Bill, he detested this inequitable mode of proas a test of their intention and inclination ceeding, he would not evade the comto befriend her more substantially in future. bat even on that ground, nor wish to en
Mr. Burke * rose to answer the argu. / gage the House in favour of the Bills, if he ments of the hon. gentlemen who opposed could not, in the fullest manner, answer the Bill. The Bills before the House, he every objection they had brought to every said, were no more than restorations of part. The hon. gentleman who had what the wisdom of a British parliament moved the amendment, wished to reconhad, on a former occasion, thought proper cile the people of Ireland to delay, by to invest Ireland with. In the 12th of pledging the honour of parliament, that Charles 2, the Navigation Bills passed, something effectual should be done in extending to Ireland as well as England. | their favour next session. He knew the A kind of left handed policy had, however, temper of the Irish too well, to believe deprived her of the freedom she had en that they would sit down satisfied with joyed under that Act, and she had ever such an assertion. They would conclude since remained under the most cruel, ope within themselves, depending on experipressive, and unnatural restriction. Deence for their guide, that the promise of prived of every incentive to industry, and something to be done next session, would shut out from every passage to wealth, she alone produce the repetition of a promise had inwardly lamented, but she had never for the session following; and promise, complained of her condition. She had repetition, and promise, from session to gone the most forward lengths in serving session, would be the only benefit they the interests, and in defending the rights would receive. He did not conclude, of Great Britain. She had assisted in that the denial of what even justice deconquests, from which she was to gain no manded of us in their favour, would proadvantage, and emptied her treasury, and duce rebellion and disturbance in that desolated her land, to prove her attach- country; their loyalty and zeal was supe
rior to complaint ; they might despair, " Mr. Burke was the great and powerful but they would not resist. Other places, supporter of the Bills in point of debate. His i experienced in rebellion, bad determined, situation was rather singular, and undoubtedly, it seems, to enter or not to enter into it, embarrassing. For he received his seat in parliament, without expence, from the free
according as these Bills were determined!; votes and predilection of the citizens of Bristol
but Ireland regarded more the welfare of in bis favour, and his constituents now thought the empire at large than the interest of their interests materially affected by the Bills itself in particular. They were patient in question." Annual Register.
and loyal, and therefore, he supposed, they
were crushed; for it was the policy of the present day to forego the excellent and noble maxim of the Romans, “parcere subjectis et debellare superbos,” for the infamous proverb of British growth, “Proud to the humble, and humble to the proud.” He then went into a particular detail of the arguments of the hon. gentlemen relating to commercial advantage. The annual revenue of the two kingdoms, he said, had been exultingly, but most inequitably, drawn into comparison, to prove that Ireland paid no proportion of tax. It was not the number of inhabitants that constituted the specific difference in the article of taxation between two countries; but the distinction of internal opulence and external advantage. Compare the two countries by that line, and it will be found that Ireland is taxed in a quadruple proportion more than England. The internal wealth, and the external advantage of trade and commerce are forty times greater in England than in Ireland. here is, therefore, no ratio of proportion in the mode of taxing the latter. She is taxed without enjoying the means of payment. There are several excises which England is subject to, and which she is not. Suppose them laid: they must be laid for the sake of oppression, not production ; and for the benefit of the officers, not of the revenue. Leather is taxed in England—but what would be the product of such a tax, where such innumerable multitudes of the people never wear shoes? You tax candles in England. But there are two hundred thousand houses in Ireland, in which probably a candle, such as you tax, was never lighted. The taxes must follow wealth, and not precede it. If any attempt against this rule is made, there will neither be wealth nor taxes. This, he said, was the order of nature; which must be followed. And as to the judgment of the proportion, it must be left to themselves, or they are not free : and surely the fault of the parliament of Ireland has never been illiberality in its grants. Restricted from trading, she enjoys no opportunity of acquiring wealth to defray and discharge the taxes imposed upon her. Enlarge her means of payment, and, in proportion to her ability, she will enlarge her taxes. An equality of commercial advantage could not be established between the two countries. The opulence of the one is a great obstacle to the other. The great disproportion of capital effectually destroys the possibility [VOL, XIX, )
of an equality. And as the ability of proceeding will increase in the same proportion, in the progress of the one and of the other, the same proportion of advantage will still remain. The Irish will be able to follow the English at an equal distancé in every stage, both in the outset and in the continuance; but they will never be able to accelerate their motion so as to overtake them. He said, the supposed operation of the cheapness of labour with respect to manufactures was totally unfounded, and the arguments founded thereon nugatory; and that until the instant that the price of labour was equal in both countries, the superiority of manufacture would remain with the English. That the price of labour rises with the growth of manufacture, and is highest when the manufacture is best. And that the experience of every day tells us, that where the price of labour is highest, the manufacturer is able to sell his commodity at the lowest price. He observed, that the difference of duty on some of the enumerated imported articles, was so abundantly overbalanced by the other advantages enjoyed by this country, that without it, there could not be the smallest degree of competition in manufacture on the side of Ireland; nor could that in any degree hurt England. They had, he said, a strange opinion of the extent of the world, who believed that there was not room enough in it for the trade of two such islands as these. He observed, that most, if not all of the petitions on the table, tended to express the utmost fears of the consequences that would arise from granting a free exportation of sail-cloth and iron to the Irish. At the same time the real matter of fact is, that the Irish have long possessed, without being able to turn it to any advantage worth mention, the free exportation co manufactured iron and steel, as well as of sail-cloth. From hence it is evident, that the petitioners have not felt from the realit what they dreaded in the idea; and it is fairly to be inferred, that the other matters of apprehension contained in the petitions are as groundless as these; and are only founded, like them, upon mere conjecture. It also appears evidently, that the advantages possessed by the English are so far superior in these respects, that the Irish were not able to prosecute these manufactures to any purpose, nor consequently to turn their liberty of exportation to account. And this, he said, was so truly the [4 Cl