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the discussion, he had still exercised his privilege of addressing the Committee that evening almost to an abuse, for he had said nothing to the question before it except a few sentences at the commencement of his speech, and a few at its end. He had, it was true, given the House several Latin quotations not altogether unknown to it; and he (Lord John Russell) might therefore be permitted to use another, and say, that his Lordship, foreseeing that he could retrieve the fortunes of his party by delay, had determined, like the Roman general, to achieve for himself the reputation of
"Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem."
Taking his leave of Lord G. Bentinck with this quotation, he explained to the Committee that the question then before it did not involve any question of humanity, or any question of the prohibition or non-prohibition of slave-labour sugar. Both the proposition of Mr. Barkly and that of the Government admitted that slavelabour sugar was to be introduced at a differential duty; and at the end of six years it would be introduced at the same rate of duty under both propositions. The The question then for the Committee to consider was, whether for the benefit of the consumer, of the West Indian body, and without any great risk to the revenue, it could not reduce from 14s. to 10s. the duty on sugar, the amendment proposing that that duty should remain stationary at 148. Now, the reduction of 48. of duty on every cwt. upon a consumption of 300,000 tons of sugar was a benefit of 1,200,000l. to the consumer, and that was a benefit not to be
recklessly thrown away by any Government, inasmuch as it would give to the consumer that sum to expend upon the other necessaries and comforts of life. He then entered into a statement of considerable length to prove that the Government plan would give a better chance of restoring prosperity to the Colonies. He referred also to the recommendation given to him by Mr. Gladstone on a former night, to save the revenue by increasing taxation during the present session. Now, he admitted, that if, at the commencement of the next session, the state of Europe should be so threatening as not to permit us to reduce our establishments, it would not do to go on another year without making the income of the country superior to its expenditure by increased taxation. But if pacific counsels should, as he hoped they would, prevail at that time, and if there were no danger to the preservation of peace both at home and abroad, he thought that we should be able to reduce our expenditure to our income by the exercise of a rigid and unsparing economy. He thought, however, that it would be unwise to come to any decision upon that point now. He concluded by recommending the Government scheme to the approbation and support of the Committee.
Mr. Goulburn contended, that of the two propositions which were then under discussion, the Committee was bound to consider by which the prosperity of the Colonies would be best promoted, and the increase of slavery and the slave trade most effectually checked. Neither of them deserved his approbation, for neither of them met the real evil of the case-the evil
arising from a want of labour in the West Indies, occasioned by our legislation, and the evil arising from a superfluity of it in the East Indies. Both the West and the East Indies had been deceived by the assurance given to them by Parliament that they should not have to contend in future with the produce of slave labour in Cuba and the Brazils. Driven to choose between the two propositions then before the Committee, he had no hesitation in giving his support to that of Mr. Barkly; first, because he feared the effect of Lord J. Russell's plan on the finances of the state, and, secondly, because he believed that Mr. Barkly's plan was more likely to restore that confidence which could alone rescue the West Indies from their present state of ruin and despair.
The House then divided on Mr. Barkly's amendment as follows
Another amendment, proposed by Mr. Bouverie and supported by Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Goulburn, was to the following effect:
"That provision be made for the admission of such foreign sugars as shall be cleared out of the foreign, West Indian, and American ports, before the 1st day of August next, and out of ports east of the Cape of Good Hope before the 1st day of September next, at the rates of duty imposed on such sugars respectively by the act 9 & 10 Victoria, c. 63."
It was lost on a division by 142 to 34. The whole of the Ministerial resolutions were then agreed to; and after some further debate,
in which the accuracy of the Ministerial calculations for adjusting the scale of duties was impugned by Lord Geo. Bentinck, and some corrections were introduced by Sir Charles Wood, the Sugar Duties Bill finally passed through the House of Commons.
In the House of Lords, the measure underwent but slender discussion. Previously to the Bill coming into that House, a debate of some interest occurred, involving the conduct of the Colonial Administration, with reference to those charges of suppressing information and garbling despatches, which Lord George Bentinck had so strenuously urged in the Lower House. Earl Grey took up the matter in his own vindication as Colonial Minister, and took the opportunity of explaining his conduct by moving for copies of the despatches in question. The charge made against him, said the noble Earl, amounted to this, that he, in concert with Mr. Hawes, had endeavoured to mislead the Committee of Inquiry on the subject of West India distress by deliberately withholding papers which favoured the opinions of those who attributed that distress, to the Act of 1846. This charge, he observed, involved imputations so disgraceful, that, if it were maintainable, he should be unworthy of holding the office he filled. A distinction, it was true, had been attempted to be drawn between a personal imputation and one cast upon him in his political capacity, but he repudiated such a distinction; Minister of the Crown capable of thus deceiving Parliament was personally culpable. The noble Earl then detailed the particular circumstances connected with these
despatches, which have been repeatedly stated in the House of Commons. He admitted that Sir Charles Grey's despatch ought to have been laid before the Committee. He had intended it should have been, and, up to a recent period, he never suspected it had not been communicated to the Committee, never doubting that his minute to that effect would be attended to. A mistake had, how ever, occurred, and the noble Earl explained very minutely the cause of it, which partly arose from the vast pressure of business. He pledged his honour that it was a mistake. With regard to the despatch of Governor Light, his Lordship freely avowed that it was by his direction that the extract was sent to the Committee, and the despatch kept back, for reasons which he stated. He considered that whilst the facts stated in the portion of the despatch with held were notorious, they furnished an argument for-not against-the views which he (Lord Grey) was supposed to be anxious to press upon the Committee. The despatch of Lord Harris was included in a motion for a large collection of similar papers, which could not be prepared before the Committee had ceased to sit; but it had been laid before the House of Commons, and if dishonest concealment had been his object, he would have suppressed it altogether. The noble Earl then proceeded to notice the charge of his having read in the House, on the 7th of February, a portion only of a memorial from Jamaica, which supported his own views. He admitted that he did so, and he justified such use of the memorial. Having thus disposed of all the specific matters of charge, the
noble Earl appealed to his own character, and to the justice of the country, which would not convict him of sullying the name he bore by a mean and dishonourable act. He treated the attacks upon him not with contempt, but with disregard, convinced that high-minded and honourable men would condemn the degradation of a great question of policy to the low level of petty personalities,
Lord Stanley, though he was not surprised that the noble Earl should desire to vindicate himself and his department from charges made against them in their official, not their personal capacity, regretted the statement he had made, because it was a proceeding wholly irregular, and because it obliged him, in vindicating a noble friend, to appear to be an accuser of the Colonial Department, and of the noble Earl, to whose personal honour he bore testimony. After an allusion to the remark of Lord J. Russell upon Lord G. Bentinck's connection with the Jockey Club, Lord Stanley proceeded to justify the examination which had been pressed in the other House into the public acts of the Colonial-office. It was the right and the duty of a member of Parliament, without regard to personal feelings, to expose what he believed to be delinquency. He did not justify every expression which might have been used elsewhere, but he would state facts which laid a ground for suspicion, and called for the notice of Parliament. The Colonial-office was charged with suppressing documents, and portions of documents, and perverting their meaning, so as to mislead Parliament. The noble Lord then went over the details respecting the despatch of Sir C. Grey, and the replies of
Mr. Hawes before the Committee with reference to communications from Jamaica, and contended that, giving entire credit to the explanation of Earl Grey, the withholding of this despatch formed a reasonable ground of suspicion, which was augmented by the discovery that other despatches from other colonies had been similarly treated. The noble Lord dwelt at some length upon a variety of circumstances which appeared to strengthen the suspicion which attached to the Colonial-office. The noble Lord then passed from the Colonial-office to the noble Earl at the head of it, whom he directly charged with making an unfair use of documents in that House. On the 7th of February, when he (Lord Stanley) presented certain petitions to their Lordships, and called their attention to the state of the colonies, having stated that the bulk of their distress had been caused by the acts of the British Legislature, Earl Grey had endeavoured to show that, on the contrary, the distress had been mainly attributable to other causes, to waste and extravagance, and to the absence of the proprietors; and, in order to support that view of the case, he had quoted an extract from a Memorial from the planters of Jamaica, which was not a fair extract, but involved an inference directly opposed to the scope of the document itself. The passage read by the noble Earl led their Lordships to believe that 142,000l. had been invested in sugar cultivation upon that island by resident planters, and that the experiment had been eminently successful; whereas the noble Earl had proof in his hand, in that very document, that the experiment had failed and had over
whelmed the parties with loss. He left it to their Lordships to say how far the noble Earl had justified himself; he did not say that the noble Earl had been wilfully suppressing and perverting documents; but he (Lord Stanley) had demonstrated that Lord George Bentinck, who had devoted himself with so much zeal to West India interests, had ground for grave suspicion as to the manner in which the Colonial Department had dealt with the papers, and he had expressed those suspicions in strong and warm terms; but neither the noble Earl, nor the Government, he thought, had a right to be offended.
Earl Grey, in reply to Lord Stanley, whilst he admitted the right and duty of Members of Parliament to scrutinize the conduct of Ministers of the Crown, protested against the imputation of motives. Lord G. Bentinck seemed to think that he (Earl Grey) was influenced by a desire to oppress and discourage the West India colonies. He had heard with deep regret Lord Stanley, adopting the views of this subject entertained by his political allies, and speaking with all the ingenuity and practised art of a skilful advocate, still endeavour to convict him of intentional prevarication. The noble Earl defended Lord John Russell against the charge of taunting Lord G. Bentinck with his pursuits on the turf, and explained the real intention of that noble Lord in the remark he made in the other House. Even if his noble friend had been betrayed by the heat of argument on that occasion beyond the strict line of debate, their Lordships, when they remembered the unexampled
patience, temper, and forbearance with which Lord John bore the bitterest attacks upon himself, would at least pardon an excess of warmth provoked in his generous mind by an attack upon an absent friend. The noble Earl then vindicated himself from the charge of partial citations, observing that those passages in the despatches of governors which related to facts were of the utmost value, but he did not always so highly appreciate their opinions. He had quoted so much of Governor Higginson's despatch as he deemed valuable in the course of an incidental discussion; and with respect to the Jamaica memorial he had quoted that to prove certain facts, declaring at the time he did so that the Memorial complained of distress. Whilst, however, the memorialists complained of distress they admitted the fact that there was a part of Jamaica in which a very considerable change was taking place; that there was springing up a class of owners and lessees of property carrying on the cultivation of sugar on their own account. This very Memorial had been included amongst the papers laid before the Committee at an early stage of their inquiry.
Lord Stanley, in explanation, observed that he had not volunteered his share in this discussion, and had followed in it strictly the course pursued by Earl Grey, not with the view of showing that the noble Earl had been guilty of wilful suppression of documents, but that there were fair and reasonable grounds for believing that improper delay and neglect had taken place in the Colonial-office. With respect to the Memorial of the planters of Jamaica, he had not referred to opinions but to
facts. He did not complain of the noble Earl's suppressing the opinions of the planters, but of giving some facts and suppressing others, namely, the result of the experi ment, which had been a total failure.
Lord Brougham interposed as a peacemaker between his two noble friends. He regretted that the discussion should have taken place, regarding it as wholly irregular, and he hoped never to hear such a debate again. He paid a high tribute to the honourable feelings which had actuated Lord George Bentinck, but intimated his opinion that Earl Grey had satisfactorily vindicated both his own conduct and that of his subordinates. He could not conclude without suggesting, considering the enormous amount of business which now encumbered the Colonial office, the average number of despatches received being not less than 10,000 or 11,000 a year, the absolute necessity of an increase of the staff of that office, where errors, so easy to occur, might create immense mischief. The Marquis of Lansdowne bore testimony to the honourable character of Earl Grey, and his incapability of being guilty of intentional misconduct of the nature suggested. He hoped that this discussion would have the effect of impressing on the minds, both of their Lordships and of Members of the other House, the impolicy of mixing up matters of personal imputation with discussions of public affairs, and he trusted that the House would not again be the scene of a similar discussion.
Lord Redesdale declared that he considered Earl Grey's explanation very unsatisfactory, and he protested against the principle asserted by the noble Lord-that