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Sir John Pakington observed that an impression prevailed that while the trade with Brazil had decreased, that with Cuba had increased. Lord Palmerston replied, that the trade had been reduced in Cuba to a very low amount. Mortality among the slaves had appeared to cause a display of greater activity, but the Spanish Government had given their assurance that they would do their utmost to prevent it.
Great satisfaction was expressed by many Members at the favourable accountgiven by the Foreign Secretary of the success of the operations against the slave-trade. Some days later, however, Mr. Hutt, who in the preceding year had moved the resolution in the House of Commons condemnatory of the African squadron, took the opportunity to make some qualifying statements with regard to the trade, Lord Palmerston s explanation having been given in his absence. Mr. Hutt contended that the progress made was not owing to the squadron, but to the new policy of Brazil, and also to the joint influences of a terrible epidemic in Brazil, which had deterred speculators; and of a previous glut in the trade. The present undoubted depression could not, Mr. Hutt thought, be regarded as permanent. Lord Palmerston partly admitted and partly contested these positions; mainly relying on the fact that the price of slaves in Brazil had doubled, which showed the pressure of a demand there.
A considerable sensation was excited about this period by the publication, in the form of a pamphlet, of two letters addressed to Lord Aberdeen by the right hon. W. E. Gladstone, on the subject of the State Prosecutions of the Neapo
litan Government. The known character and opinions of the writer of these letters added weight and authority to his narration of facts, which he attested from personal observation, and to the charges of flagrant injustice and oppression which he deliberately made against the Government of King Ferdinand. Just before the end of the session the subject was noticed in the House of Commons, Sir De Lacy Evans putting a question to the Foreign Secretary with reference to Mr. Gladstone's statements. The gallant Officer said:— "From a publication entitled to the highest consideration it appears that there are at present above 20,000 persons confined in the prisons of Naples for alleged political offences; that these prisoners have, with extremely few exceptions, been thus immured in violation of the existing laws of the country, and without the slightest legal trial or public inquiry into their respective cases: that they include a late Prime Minister, and a majority of the late Neapolitan Parliament, as well as a large proportion of the most respectable and intelligent classes of society; that these prisoners are chained two and two together; that their chains are never removed, day or night, for any purpose whatever: and that they are suffering refinements of barbarity and cruelty unknown in any other civilized country." Sir De Lacy Evans consequently desired to know if the British Minister at the Court of Naples had been instructed to employ his good offices in the cause of humanity for the diminution of these lamentable severities, and with what result?
Lord Palmerston, in answer to this question, paid a very emphatic tribute to the course taken by Mr. Gladstone at Naples in investigating wrong and suffering. Concurring in opinion with him, that the influence of public opinion in Europe might have some effect in setting such matters right, he (Lord Palmerston) had thought it his duty to send copies of Mr. Gladstone's publication to the British Ministers at the various Courts
of Europe, directing them to give copies to each Government; in the hope that by affording them an opportunity of reading it, they might be led to use their influence for promoting that which was the object of Sir De Lacy Evans's inquiry, and a remedy for the evils to which he referred. Much cheering followed this announcement.
Miscellaneous.—The Navigation Laws—Discussions in both Houses on the Policy of the Act of 1849 for the Removal of Maritime Restrictions—Lord Derby presents a Petition from the Liverpool Shipping Association, and enters at length into an Examination of the Effects of the Free-Trade Policy on Shipping—He is answered in an able Speech by Earl Granville, who declares that the Return to a restrictive Policy is impracticable—Remarks of the Earl of Hardicicke and Earl Grey —Mr. Herries, in the House of Commons, moves an Address to the Crown praying the Adoption of a retaliatory Policy towards nonreciprocating Foreign States—He descants at length upon the Impolicy of the Free-Trade System and its injurious Effects on Navigation— Mr. Labouchere and Mr. James Wilson combat his Arguments with statistical and other details—Mr. Disraeli advises the withdrawal of the Motion on the ground of Negotiations actually pending with Foreign Powers—Remarks of Lord John Russell and Colonel Thompson— Motion by leave ,withdrawn. Parliamentary Reform—Debate on the Bill brought in by Mr. Locke King to assimilate the Elective Franchise in Counties to that of Boroughs—Speeches of Mr. Fox Maule, Mr. Bright, Sir B. Hall, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Disraeli— On a Division the Bill is lost by 299 to 83—Motion by Mr. Henry Berkeley in favour of the Ballot supported by Mr. Hume and Captain ScobeU, and carried against the Ministers by 87 to 50—The Motion, however, produces no further result. St. Alban's Election—Gross Bribery alleged to have been practised at that Borough—Bill proposed and carried for appointing Commissioners to investigate the Mode in which the Election had been conducted. Peace Policy—Mr. Cobden's Proposition in favour of a reciprocal National Disarmament—Speeches of Mr. Cobden, Mr. Mackinnon, Lord Palmerston, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Hume, and other Members—Several Members advise the withdrawal of the Motion in consequence of the language held by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs—Mr. Cobden accedes to that suggestion. Marriages Of Affinity—The Bill rejected in the preceding Year for legalizing Marriages with a deceased Wife's Sister is again introduced in the House of Lords—Earl St. Germans proposes and argues in favour of the Measure—The Archbishop of Canterbury declared himself opposed to the principle of the Bill, and moves its postponement for six months— The Bishops of Exeter, St. David's, and Norwich, support the Amendment—Lord Campbell argues forcibly against the Bill—Lord Gage supports the Measure—On a Division the Amendment is carried by a Majority of M. The Church Of England And Convocation—Discussion in the House of Lords on the Motion of Lord Redesdale on this subject—The Archbishop of Canterbury argues with much force against the revival of Convocation—Important Speeches of Lord Lyttellon, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Bishop of London, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Duke of Argyll, and the Bishop of Oxford.
THE operation of the late measure for the repeal of the Navigation Laws was brought under discussion in both Houses in the course of the present session. The more important debate took place in the House of Lords, and was originated by Lord Derby, who, on presenting a petition to the. House from a commercial body, complaining of the injuries which they alleged to have resulted to them from this relaxation in the maritime code, took the opportunity of entering at some length into the merits of the question.
The petition was from the Liverpool Shipping Association: it stated that the petitioners were owners of a large tonnage of shipping, and that they found all the anticipations of evil effects which they urged against the last alteration of the Navigation Laws had been realized in practice; and it complained of a number of disadvantages which the British shipowner laboured under, especially from the want of reciprocity by foreign nations in refusing us that participation in their shipping trade which we yielded to them.
In reference to the burdens and disabilities due to our own legislation, — such as the heavy amount of duties on marine insurance, the extraordinary fees charged by British consuls abroad on British shipping, the practice peculiar to this country of giving salvage rewards to officers of the Royal Navy, the encouragement given to the seduction of seamen from the mercantile into the Royal Navy, and the restrictions in re
ference to the employment of British seamen and apprentices, —Lord Derby argued generally, that before the repeal of the Navigation Laws these burdens were cheerfully borne by the shipping interest, because they were necessary to support the military navy and prosperity of England; but when the shipping interest were deprived of the advantages they obtained under the Navigation Laws, the least they expected was to be freed from burdens and restrictions to which foreign shipowners are not subject. The illiberality of foreign nations, in refusing us reciprocity, he illustrated by the examples of France and Spain, with their high prohibitive import-tariffs, making a difference against British shipping of cent, per cent, in favour of the home shipping; and of the United States of America, who declared the California trade to be a coasting trade, which theywouldnot open to foreign ships, though the voyage from New York to California was a voyage round the world. He adduced some statistics, not to show that our trade had been diminished by the repeal of the Navigation Laws, but to support the point which shipowners advanced, that that measure had so reduced the amount of freight by unfair and unequal competition that it was almost unremunerative, especially on the long voyage; and that though there had been an increase in the foreign trade, the foreigners had reaped the advantage, and not the British owners. In 1849 the total tonnage inwards was 5,579,461, in 1850 it was 6,071,269, in 1851 it was
6,113,696; the increase last year was 42,427. But the British share of that tonnage in each year was 4,020,415, 4,390,375, and 4,078,544; showing a decrease, last year, of 311,831. And in the same periods the foreign share was 1,559,046, 1,680,994, 2,035,152; showing an increase—larger than our decrease —of 354,258. In the clearances outwards the increase on the total shipping, beyond last year, was 477,070; but of this increase foreign shipping got 278,488, and English shipping only 198,582. The disproportion was still greater for the last four months than for the last year. Arguing on these general facts, Lord Derby concluded with the question, whether Her Majesty's Government meant to counteract this state of things by the exercise of the retaliatory power placed in their hands by Parliament?
The Earl of Granville, in answer to Lord Derby, laid before the House a series of facts to show that the repeal of the Navigation Laws had not been injurious to the mercantile or shipping interests.
On the repeal of the law, Her Majesty's Government communicated the fact to Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. Sweden at once announced her intention to remove all restrictions. Holland had displayed a liberal spirit, and after negotiation resolved to give us equality both in her foreign and colonial trade. If Belgian restrictions remained against us, there were greater British restrictions against Belgium; our duties were the more exclusive. Negotiations with France had produced large and liberal concessions; and the Government was still negotiating, in hopes of terms yet nearer to what
were deemed fair. The negotiations with Portugal promised speedy and satisfactory results. Spain held out; but her policy would plainly injure herself more than us. To the generosity of the United States we made an appeal in reference to the indirect trade with California; but there was not much to be obtained from the generosity of nations. However, we had entered beneficially into the direct trade hence to California; and if the Government of the United States still excluded us from the indirect trade, there was reason to believe that that trade would itself suffer, and that a larger direct trade in European commodities hence to California would spring up, in which we should secure a full share. It was no doubt true that the high freights which American ships got to California were a great assistance in making the long voyage round the world; butweourselvesreapedmuch advantage from the ability we now enjoyed to take freight from New York and the Atlantic cities of the United States to China and the East Indies—a similar link in the long voyage for us, to that round to California for the Americans. It might be true that foreign ships had reaped huge advantages from entering on the rivalry with us in our direct trade; but there was reason to believe that we in our turn were entering into the rivalry of the direct trade of those foreign nations in even a greater degree. Returns made by the United States Government showed an increase of foreign shipping there in their direct trade, greater than the increase of foreign shipping here of which we complained at home. In the first six months of 1850, nearly 70,000 tons of British shipping entered the ports of the United