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7,500, four of 5,000, twenty-three of 3,000, and so on till he came to places of one thousand, which, he observed, were, in comparison with the others, so trifling, as hardly to be worth his mentioning
There could, he said, be but one other motive for appointing the committee, and that was, to discover the true state of the company's affairs, in order to give them such relief as they might appear to be in need of. If this was the idea on which it was suggested, he was surprised to find in the right honourable gentleman so very forward and unusual a liberality towards the company; for, setting aside the desperate attempts which he already had alluded to, on their interests, he had, since that period, made a most violent opposition to the granting of them that relief which they applied for in the last session of parliament; and now, when they demanded no such assistance, was he desirous of imposing it upon them against their consent, though he had so recently endeavoured to withhold it from them when they thought it necessary. Upon the whole, he concluded with saying, that if he had come down to the House perfectly uninformed on the subject, he should, notwithstanding, have learned enough from what he had already heard in the course of the debate, to be able to make up his mind as to the impropriety of appointing the committee ; a measure that should therefore meet his most hearty negative. The motion was negatived,
May 12. 1785. The House having resolved itself into a committee of the whole Hous on the commercial regulations proposed to be adopted between Great Britain and Ireland,
Mr. Pitt opened the business by desiring that the resolution which he had formerly moved as the ground-work of the system of intercourse between the two countries, might be read:
Resolved, “ That it is highly important to the general interests of the British empire that the trade between Great Britain and Ireland be encouraged and extended as much as possible ; and, for that purpose, that the intercourse and commerce be finally settled and regulated, on permanent and equitable principles, for the mutual benefit of both countries.”
He then said, that the attention of the committee having been engrossed for so many weeks by the propositions, he fattered himself their importance and magnitude were by this time sufficiently impressed on their minds, to render it perfectly unnecessary for him to dwell upon that part of the subject. He should, therefore, after the useless manner in which so much of their time had been wasted, enter at once into the business, and state to the committee the extent and object of his plan, endeavouring to clear it from such misconceptions, and to obviate such objections, as from the various interests that it was supposed to affect, and the pains taken to alarm those interests, it had necessarily become liable to.
He desired the House to recollect, antong the many important and extensive objects to which the legislature of this kingdom had for some years past directed its attention, that the affairs of Ireland, and the forming of a suitable arrangement between that kingdom and this were the most considerable. A vast deal had already been done in several preceding administrations; and though he was by no means inclined to censure the liberality of former parliaments, or former ministers, yet he could not but think, that if nothing more was to be done for Ireland, it would have been more advisable not to have done any thing at all, or at least not so much as had been done. In fact, if the British parliament were to go no farther, all that had hitherto been done was absolutely nugatory and useless; for the advantages which were by those acts put into the hands of the Irish, were such as they were unable to make use of, at least not in the degree in which it was the avowed intention of parliament that they should. And would the people and the legislature of England condescend to assume a credit for what they had never bestowed,
and lay claim to the gratitude and love of a nation to whont they had made no concessions, but such as it was impossible for her to avail herself of? His present plan, he said, was nothing more than a necessary supplement to those which had formerly been adopted, for the purpose of creating such a mutual interest as should for ever preserve inviolate, and secure the connection between the two countries : and he trusted, if it should be found to liave a tendency to so very desirable an end as that if it should be found to add considerably to the general strength and splendour of the empire; if it should be found to contribute a great and obvious augmentation to the welfare of Ireland, and at the same time to maintain the interests of Great Britain in every essential point, and in some instances considerably to promote them; that in that case the opposition he should meet with would be confined within very narrow limits.
The objections which he had generally observed to be made to this plan, were such as appeared to him either to be convincing proofs of its propriety and necessity, or at least that they were capable of an easy and complete refutation. He had desired the proposed resolution to be read, in order that he might the more easily lead the committee into his sentiments with regard to the general arrangement, of which it was the foundation ; and although there were several subsequent resolutions to follow it, yet they were but the detail and formality of that principle which was laid down in the former. This principle, then, he would first explain by way of comment on that resolution, and afterwards would go through the whole series of the propositions from Ireland, applying to them such alterations, restrictions, and modifications, as should still restrain them within the principle now to be adopted, and at the same time free them from the objections which those, who could not dissent from the principle, had endeavoured to raise against the mode in which it was intended to apply it.
The principle then was, “ that a treaty should be concluded with Ireland, by which that country should be put on fair, equal, and impartial footing with Great Britain in point
of commerce, with respect to foreign countries and to our colonies ; and as to the mutual intercourse between each other, that this equality should extend to manufactures, to importation, and to exportation, and that Ireland, in return for this concession, should contribute a share towards the protection and security of the general commerce of the emipire.” In order to destroy the general prejudices entertained against these propositions, it would be necessary for him only to mention in what situation Ireland actually stood at that moment in point of commerce with respect to the world in general, and Great Britain in particular. Ireland could at this nioment trade, with unlimited freedom, to every foreign state in Europe, supply them with her own produce and manufacture, and carry home in return the produce and manufacture of any country in Europe. She was also at liberty to supply the British colonics in the West Indies with her own commodities; and by a direct trade homeward, furnish herself with the West-India goods. But this was not all. She could also, at this moment, supply the British market, by a direct trade to Britain, with the produce of the British islands; and this privilege was not of a recent date : she had enjoyed it ever since the navigation laws were framed. The only question arising now, relative to the West-India commodities, was, that the Irish should in future be permitted to bring into England, circuitously through Ireland, those goods which they were at this instant at full liberty to import into this country directly from the West Indies. But not to dwell any farther on this point for the present, on which he intended hereafter to speak somewhat more at length, he observed, that the adjustment which was now to be proposed resolved itself naturally into three parts, which might be ranged under three different heads : lst, The intercourse between the British West-India islands and Ireland ; 2nd, between Great Britain and Ireland; 3rd, exports of manufactures to foreign countries; to which might be added a 4th, which was rather political, and related to the assistance that Ireland should contribute towards the support of the navy of the empire.
With respect to the first, it had been frequently suggested in behalf of a very respectable and very useful body of men, the West-India merchants and planters, that should Ireland be permitted to supply the British market with the produce of the islands, they must necessarily run the risk of being very consi. derable sufferers in common with the rest of the people of Eng. land. To this suggestion he would reply, that Ireland, as he had said before, might at this moment carry in Irish bottoms the produce of the islands directly into Great Britain : she was already in possession of that liberty, and had enjoyed it ever since the passing of the navigation laws, which had put Irish ships, in that respect, on a footing with British : it was therefore only by a circuitous trade from the colonies, that any new danger could accrue to their interests. And here he felt that the apprehensions of the merchants and planters were best founded ; for they feared that the Irish being once admitted to bring to England circuitously the produce of the British colonies, French sugars and other goods, the growth of islands in the West Indics not belonging to this country, might be imported into Eng. land as British. It was certainly his wish, as it was his duty, to guard against such a mischief: the British West-India planters were clearly entitled to a monopoly of the English market; and it would be but justice to secure it to them, as far as laws and regulations could give security. It was upon this principle, then, that he intended to propose certain regulations which would fully answer this end, without affecting in the smallest degree the spirit of the Irish resolutions. He proposed then in the first place, that the committee should resolve, that all the navigation laws actually in force in this kingdom, or which it should be hereafter found necessary to enact, for the preservation of the trade of Great Britain, should be in force in Ireland. Under these laws the door would be shut to the importation of foreign West-India goods, and consequently the British market would be secured for British West-India commodities, to the exclusion of those of foreign islands. In consequence of these laws it would be necessary that every Irish vessel, arriving in Ireland from the