Abbildungen der Seite

rate, neutral ships were continued to be employed in the trade of this country, in time of peace, under orders in council.

Whatever contrary opinions may have been promulgated on this subject, the navigation laws were certainly violated and infringed by the importations in neutral ships under the suspending acts; yet it has been asked, "where is the evidence that the principle of the navigation law was in the smallest degree violated." By the 12th Cha. 2. c. 18. the principle was established, of securing to British Ships the exclusive trade to and from the British plantations; and the importation into Great Britain from all parts of the world was confined to British Ships, or to the ships of the countries of which the goods to be imported were the growth, or produce. It is not contended by the Shipping Interest that the navigation laws were established to encourage and secure trade, but to increase shipping and seamen; the object of the founders of that system being to promote navigation, in order to increase the naval power of the kingdom. Commerce can be carried on as well in foreign as in British shipping, especially in time of war, because the former are free from capture, and are navigated at much less expence, consequently their freights are lower it is therefore obvious that in case neutral ships are allowed to trade to and from Great Britain, to countries where British ships can go, the number of the latter must unavoidably be considerably reduced, and the nursery for British Seamen affected in the same proportion.

These relaxations have been attempted to be justified, first, on the ground of necessity, and afterwards on the advantages supposed to be derived by merchants to whom goods were consigned from abroad, and imported in neutral shipping into this kingdom, although they were not the growth or produce of the country from whence they came, or of the country to which the neutral ships belonged, and which were entered for home consumption, or warehoused for exportation. It may be admitted, that under the provisions of these acts, goods to a certain extent came to this country for a market, which probably would not otherwise have been brought hither; but the benefits accruing from such importations were infinitely too inconsiderable to counterbalance the serious injury done to British shipping, by allowing neutral vessels not belonging to the countries from whence the goods came, to bring articles for home consumption, which, if such indulgences had not been granted to them, would have been brought in British ships, except from the countries of the enemy, to which the sus pension of the former system should have been confined; and

' Mr. Cock's Answer to Lord Sheffield's Strictures, p. 6.

[ocr errors]

even in that case limited to articles indispensably necessary in British Manufactures, and to them only; for the more bulky articles obtained from the enemy's countries, such as Brandies, &c. should not have been allowed to be imported direct in neutral vessels, but only to have been taken to a neutral port, and the importation of such articles from thence, confined to British bottoms; which would have been highly beneficial to the Shipping Interest and the West-India planters; for the encreased freight and expences on such spirits would have operated as a bounty on Rum from the British Colonies, without any injury to the revenue, whilst it produced a proportionate depression on the Enemy. It is understood an application to this effect was made by the Shipping Interest to the Board of Trade during the late administration, but without success.

Under the operation of some of these statutes the injury to the British merchant was manifest, and to the revenue very great. The British merchant, in the course of regular importation, entered his goods on their arrival, and paid the duty immediately. The foreigner warehoused his goods without paying any duties, and they were allowed to remain in his own warehouse, under no other care than that of an ordinary custom-house officer, till the foreign merchant chose to declare whether he would take them out for home consumption or for exportation; he therefore, in the first instance, was spared the use of so much capital as the duties would have amounted to on the importation of the goods, and actually saved the duty on that part of them which was wasted, or clandestinely taken out of store, between the landing and regular delivery of the goods. Thus, it is clear the relaxation did not produce any advantage to the trade of the country, or any benefit to the revenue; on the contrary, in all importations from countries in amity with Great Britain, which were warehoused, a certain loss accrued from waste, or from the goods being clandestinely taken thereout, which was often done. The injury sustained by the British merchant, under the operation of these regulations, is now fortunately obviated by an equal and wise system established by a subsequent act, which is beneficial to the merchant and not injurious to the revenue (except by the postponement of the payment of the duties), as the goods are deposited in security, and the public interest cannot suffer by waste or plunder, the duties being payable according to the measure or weight of the goods when first imported.

See Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 3.

In order to countenance and give effect to the new system, it is likewise stated "that in the American war, if we had rigidly adhered to the laws of the 17th century we should not have been able to defend ourselves against the formidable confederacy by which we were assailed." This assertion is, however, calculated to mislead; for the departure from the old system in the American war, cannot justly be compared with the suspension of it during the late war, under the acts before mentioned: for the act of the 19th Geo. 3d. c. 28. only allowed British built ships, though owned by foreigners, to import certain enumerated articles in case three fourths of the crew were British subjects, or the subjects of the countries from whence the cargoes were imported, but in the lat ter they were liable to the alien duties; and by the 20th Geo. 3. c. 20. ships in the merchants' service were permitted, as is customary in time of war, to be navigated by three-fourths foreign


These are the only acts passed in the American war, which interfered with the policy of the navigation system. Besides the several acts which were passed in the course of the last war to authorize the suspension of the former system, the same was further extended as before stated, by the 44th Geo. 3d. c. 29. which allowed for a limited period, hides, wool, and other articles of raw materials for manufactures, to be imported here in any foreign vessel whatever, under orders in council; and by a subsequent act, the 45th Geo. 3. c. 34. all importations from countries belonging to foreign European princes in America, are allowed in neutral ships; thus it appears, by the laws now in force, goods may be brought not only from the countries of the enemy, in any neutral shipping, however navigated, but likewise from the territories of foreign states, in Europe, as well as on the continent of America; though the articles so to be imported are not the growth or produce of the country to which the ships or vessels may belong.

It is likewise asked, but with what propriety is not obvious, "were we ever so florishing in commerce at any former period as in the peace which succeeded the war during which we had thus deviated?" It is well known that the nation was never in so depressed a state as during that war, and that the measures adopted by Mr. PITT, to which is to be attributed the revival of the trade, commerce, and manufactures of the country, and also the improvement of the revenue in the peace that followed the American war, had not the most remote connexion with the relaxation of the navigation system which afterwards took place.

See Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 8.

2 Ibid. p. 12.

It appears the trade of Great Britain has invariably increased in time of war (except in the American war), and it is to be seen, that in the period prior to the operation of the acts which suspended the navigation system in 1797, it had rapidly increased from the commencement of the last war.

In 1792 the actual value of the imports of
Great Britain were

and the exports

In 1796 the imports were

and the exports

[ocr errors]

£. 19,659,358

24,466,849 23,187,000 28,025,000

It is, however, to be admitted, that the indulgences which were too generally granted to neutral ships, under these acts, must have occasioned some addition to the imports and exports of the kingdom, which were principally from the United States and the foreign West India Islands; but the point for consideration, which arises out of this system, is whether the transit of such goods, in neutral ships, through this country to the continent, compensated for the serious mischiefs, which have resulted from the operation of the suspending statutes.

Ingenuity seems to have been exhausted in the endeavours to justify the new system and to impress on the public mind the advantages to be derived from its continuance; whilst assertions the most erroneous have (it is trusted unintentionally) been made and mis-statements adduced in its support. The only instances in which such relaxations may, consistently with true national policy and the preservation of the naval power of the country, be allowed, is in the admission of dyes, in neutral vessels direct from the enemy's country in time of war, and of such other articles which are indispensably requisite in British manufactures; and in the case of the country of an ally being in danger of being over-run by the common enemy, it may be prudent to admit the produce of it and the property of the inhabitants to be brought away, on the emergency, in ships of any neutral nation, as was recently done in the case of Portugal on Junot's approach towards the frontiers of that unhappy country.


As illustrative of the advantages pretended to have been derived under the suspending acts, when they had arrived at their full 3 operation, a comparative statement is made of the 3 value of the exports and imports in 1792 with those in 1801.-It is stated,

Appendix, No. 1. to the Examination into the Increase of the Revenue, &c. by the Right Hon. George Rose. Edit. 1806.

Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 28.

3 In 1792 the official value of the imports was

and the exports

£19,659,958 £24,466,849

That' in 1792 the value of the imports was
Whereas the real value of all goods
of every kind imported that year
into Great Britain was only
From which should be deducted the

value of corn imported

[blocks in formation]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

Making the value of the imports in 1801 only

The exports of 1792 are likewise re-
presented as amounting to
When in fact the value of the ex-
ports were that year only
And in 1801 the exports are stated











When in truth the real value of the exports that year was only This exposition of the facts advanced in support of the advantages declared to have arisen from the new system, points out, how necessary it is to be cautious in giving implicit credence to the assertions and the arguments of its advocates. Again; it is remarked, that "from the preceding statement, it is evident that in the last three years of the peace, the most florishing period of the trade, which the commercial history of England had then to record, the amount of commerce and revenue was beyond all comparison less than the amount of the three last years, even of war, only distant nine years from the period of peace; and it is evident both from detail and result, that this increase at an unfavourable epoch, was greatly owing to that liberal change of policy which admitted a free trade through every conveyance by which


In 1802 the official value of the imports was
and the exports
See Mr. Rose's Examination, Appendix, No. I.
ว Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 28. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid.

[merged small][ocr errors]

£32,795,556 £37,786,856

4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. p. 29.

« ZurückWeiter »