Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

der such conditions, it is impos- tion of meat in the last three sible for the farmer to continue years, as compared with the years wheat-cultivation, nor is he likely 1872-74, fallen off 80 millions of to take the advice of his free pounds, but in all kinds of farm trading friends that, if wheat produce he is meeting with the won't pay, he must try something same fierce competition from else ; for not only, as stated by abroad, as the following table of Mr Harris, has the home produc- imports but too clearly shows :

1885.
£8,735,392
8,664,365
6,590,776

Animals,
Bacon and hams,
Other meat,
Poultry, game, and lard,
Butter, cheese, and eggs,
Apples, vegetables, and hops,
Corn, flour, and meat,

1874.
£4.906,815

5,902,429
2,320,608
1,154,860
15,967,086

3,073,860 51,070,202 £84,395,860

2,259,128

18,327,512

2,918,859

52,749,258 £100,245,290

These figures represent the value. which, if properly cultivated, would If we take the imports of 1885 at grow larger crops of corn than in the prices ruling in 1874, at least any other country in the world.” 20 per cent higher than now, we It was in the teeth of these facts get 120 millions as more correctly and figures that in 1884 Mr Bright indicating the volume of the trade said, in his speech at Manchester, as compared with 1874. Nor is “In 1846 the peers did not fight the milling interest in a better for their political lives ; they fought position ; for during the five years for their rents. They put up the 1876-80 the imports of four aver- prayer doubtless in their families, aged 8,490,353 cwts., against, in the and did it by the clergy in their five years 1881-85, 14,334,448 cwts. churches, Give us this day our When it is considered that the daily bread ;' and yet every day in capital employed by farmers is, as that House that question came up, estimated by Sir James Caird, 400 speeches were made and votes given millions, and by landlords 1600 that denied to the millions of the millions, yielding, according to people of this country the daily Mr Giffen, an income of 212 mil. bread for which they prayed. lions, the potency of agriculture The utter falsity of this infamous as a factor bearing on trade de- accusation is shown by the fact pression becomes apparent. Mr that the average price of wheat Harris in his evidence, to which during the year 1843 was only 50s. we have referred, says he calcu. id.; in 1844, 515. 3d.; and in 1845, lates there is less food produced in 50s. 1od. In 1885 he had the this country to-day by 40 millions audacity to write to Mr Medley than there was twelve or fifteen he hoped the electors at the comyears ago, and he adds, “ There is ing election would remember that land which is unlet in England, he obtained for them their loaf and is going out of cultivation, at half the price it had previously

1 Mr. Harris says: “Thus, with a decrease of 1,500,000 acres under corn crops, and a supposed increase of 3,000,000 acres of permanent pasture (which too often means permanent weeds), we have an actual decrease in the three years' supply of home-grown meat amounting to 80,000,000 lb., and a decrease in its value of £46,000,000, or equal to £15,300,000 per annum out of our farmers' pockets."

2.

cost them. Little wonder that, not merely freightage, but of loadwhen called on to explain a state- ing, insurance, landing, commisment so wholly at variance with sion, interest, and loss,” which he the facts, he found it more con- estimated at ios. 6d. per quarter venient to maintain a discreet between Dantzic and Liverpool; silence. It is interesting in the but the farmer is no longer prolight of present experience to read tected by the rate of freight, which the prophetic warnings contained is now reduced to 25. or 3S., while in the protest of the peers on the rates of commission and insurance 25th of June 1886, which have been have also been greatly lowered. verified to the letter : "1. Make There is no doubt the main object this country dependent on foreign of the Anti-Corn-Law League was countries for supplies of food. to lower wages by the cheapening No security or probability of other of the people's food, in the hope it countries adopting it. 3. May be would assist the manufacturer in the cause of throwing lands out of keeping a grip of foreign trade ; cultivation. 4. Unjust to landed yet Mr. Bright always boasted that interest while subject to exclusive the repeal had increased wages, burdens for purposes of general ad- with which, as we have shown, it vantage. 5. Because the loss will had as much to do as the man in fall most heavily on tenant farmers, the moon. Now when his system, and through them on agricultural by the foreign competition it has labourers. 6. Because similar re- induced, is causing a serious desults will befall tradesmen who cline in wages, he turns ruthlessly mainly depend on the custom of on the working man, and tells him, those engaged in agriculture." if trade is leaving his employer, And to contrast therewith the he must be content with less for bombastic predictions of Richard his labour; but the doctrines of Cobden in 1884: “You have no the fetich he and Cobden set up more right to doubt that the sun for the nation to worship must not, will rise in the heavens to-morrow, forsooth, be called in question. than you have to doubt that in less Ordinary people in the old times than ten years from the time when held that a good harvest was sure England inaugurates the glorious to be followed by good trade, era of commercial freedom, every but the champions of the Cobden civilized commercial community Club have recently started the will be free-traders to the back- idea, as comical as original, that bone.” Eight years later he de- the good harvest of 1884 was clared that “the time was at hand largely accountable for trade dewhen other nations would be com- pression, inasmuch as smaller suppelled, by self-interest and by the plies of food being required from reality of our prosperity, to follow abroad, shipowners and insurers, our example and adopt free trade" &c., earned less profits. ApparIt would be safer to predict, “ The ently, on this theory, these gentletime is at hand when England will men will hail the day when British be compelled, by self-interest and agriculture is extinguished, and all the reality of the prosperity of our food - products are imported such nations as America and Ger- from abroad. It is nothing to them many, to follow their example and that the decrease of £16,000,000 adopt protection."

in the import of cereals, as comAt a meeting in 1843, Cobden pared with the average of the stated that the farmer would al- preceding four years, were kept at ways be protected by the cost of home, benefiting not only agricul.

2-59

If

turists, but trade generally. No; In addition to the registration-fee it comes to this, that when we hap- taken off corn in 1869, duties on pen to be visited by such a mis- such imports as come into comfortune as a plenteous harvest, that petition with British products were means additional trade depression. repealed or reduced as follows:Can absurdity go further? The

1850-5 vice of the system lies in our con

£2,118,029 1860-69

4,444,170 centrating our attention on foreign 1870-74

5,420,000 and colonial commerce, while we wholly ignore internal trade. It There being no import of this is unfortunate that we have no class after 1874 subject to customs reliable statistics of the latter ; but duty, the system may therefore be if we take the proportion of the said to have only in that year atproduction of coals and pig-iron, tained its full completion. after deducting the export, and of the £530,000 taken off when the the goods conveyed from place to Corn Laws were repealed proplace at home, to what is exported duced the marvelous results so to our colonies and foreign coun- falsely ascribed to that measure, tries, we find our home trade ex- vastly greater beneficial results ceeds our colonial and foreign ten should have flowed from the retimes. Our colonial trade is moremoval of duties, amounting to 12 than one-third of our foreign ; if milions sterling, especially after we leave it out of the account, 1874, when we took farewell of the foreign is seen to be less than the “last rag” of the system one-fifteenth of our home trade! which had brought an easy 12 and it is for this insignificant and millions into our exchequer. On rapidly decaying part of our trade, referring to “the abstracts," we we, under the cowardly fear of find the following startling results what other nations might do if as regards our export trade :we employed retaliation, persist in 1841-50, increase, 40 per cent. maintaining a system which at- 1851-60, tracts to our shores the over-pro- 1881-70,

59 duction of the world, to the ruin 1871-80, neither increase nor decrease. of our industries and national im- 1881-85, decrease, 9 per cent. proverishment, on the principle, ap. While some allowance must here parently, that no industry should be made for lower values, makbe allowed to live in England if ing the volume of trade appear another nation can undersell it.

less than these figures indicate, The evidence we have adduced to show the repeal of the Corn result; for by Mr. Mulhall's meth

they but litile affect the main Laws had nothing whatever to do od ("History of Prices,' p. 10), we with our commercial prosperity be- find the trade volume to have tween 1850 and 1870 is, we submit,

beenoverwhelming. As that repeal was but an instalment of the present 1841-50, increase, 40 per cent. system, let us see how the further 1851-60,

78 removal of duties affected our ex

1871-80, port trade; for, let the Cobden 1881-85, decrease,

2 school say what it will, it is to the increase in our export, next The Cobden Club tells us“ figto that of good home trade, we ures can be made to prove anymust look for industrial success thing," but that comes with a bad and the wellbeing of the masses. grace from those who have in the

82

1861-70,

3472

52

we

past made such a free use of them tons, and the United States from when they could be twisted into 2,401,000 to 4,200,000 tons,? while suiting their purposes. If honest- have only increased from ly used, however, and made to 6,400,000 to 8,100,000 tons. The cover sufficiently long periods, Board of Trade Journal points out figures prove nothing but the that between 1861 and 1885 Gertruth. We leave them to explain many has increased her output of the startling fact, that since 1874 pig-iron seven times, her producthe results should be so strangely tion of sugar six times, her conin conflict with all their pet sumption of jute thirty-two times, theories and prophecies. As it is and saltpetre nearly seven times. only since that year that under During this period her population the changed conditions of con- increased, notwithstanding the imducting the commerce of the mense immigration, 24 per cent. world the free-trade system, so Between 1880-83 the total procalled, has been on something duction of corn increased from like equal terms pitted against the 281,296,559 cwts. to 320,939,000 much-abused protective system of cwts., wheat from 46,151,721 cwts. the Continent, and as it is only by to 50,251,837 cwts., the sugar-beet results they can be judged, and not industry from 93 millions of cuts. by the dicta of the Cobden school, to 172 millions of cwts., and wine it is of the first importance we from u1 million gallons to 35 milshould carefully compare the re- lion gallons. The increase between sults of the two systems. For 1860 and 1882 in savings-banks dethis purpose, we shall take two posits amounted to 370 per cent per protectionist countries, generally head, while during the same years regarded by us in this connection they only increased in the United as the greatest sinners—Germany Kingdom 61 per cent.3 In nationand the United States. In 1874 al wealth Mr. Mulhall shows the and 1884, their exports of home United States now stand first among produce compare with ours as the nations of the world. Between follows, in millions of pounds :- 1865 and 1885 they have reduced

their debt from 550 millions to 275

1874. 1884 millions, and their internal taxation Germany,

117
160

from 40 millions to 20 millions. United States, 1

126

151 United Kingdom,

The consumption of cotton has in239 232

creased, since 1875, 68 per cent, While we have decreased -3 per while in this country it has only cent in'eleven years, Germany has increased 22 per cent. In the increased 37 per cent, and the States the production of corn inUnited States 20 per cent. In creased, between 1881 and 1884, the same years Germany has 45 per cent. increased her production of pig- We hear it constantly asserted iron from 1,906,000 to 3,572,000 that the depression in trade is just

1 In 1874 the United States imports and exports were exceptionally large. Between 1875, an average year, and 1884, the increase was 35 per cent.

2 In 1886 the United States produced 5,685,000 tons; in 1880, 3,835,191 tons,-an increase of 48 per cent. The · Économist' estimates the production of the United Kingdom in 1886 at 6,750,000 tons, against 7,250,651 tons in 1885 -a decrease of 7 per cent.

3 Savings-banks deposits increased in France from £3200 in 1850 to £61,200 in 1882; in Germany from £5400 to £105,300; in Austria from £19,600 to £85,100, and in Italy from £2200 to 33,600.

as great in other countries. But the United States during the first not only has there been a great seven months of 1886, against revival in the States, shown by 72,685 in the same months of the increase in railway traffics; 1885, goes far to confirm Mr. but if we refer to the report to Strachey's report of German prosour Government of Mr. Strachey, perity. During the same period her Majesty's chargé d'affaires at 7300 more emigrants left England Dresden, on the effect of the rais- and Scotland than in 1885. ing of the German tariff in 1879, With such facts and figures beand again in 1885, we find these fore us, it appears to be almost a words: “Nothing indicates that waste of time to attempt an anthe burden of protection laid on swer to the theories of politicians the population is oppressive, that who, to their eternal disgrace, have, national impoverishment is in pro- for political purposes, so cruelly cess, or that saving and accumula- misled the people of this country. tion have been arrested. On the But as some of these appear still, contrary, the imperial and local notwithstanding that they are revenue receipts, the estimates of found to be in conflict with the property liable to income tax, and teachings of experience, to be resimilar State and municipal re- garded as infallible, we shall proturns, are symptomatic of fair ceed to show how fallacious and public prosperity.In another misleading they are. The contenpart of the report, he says : If tion, no longer, we believe, held it be asked what signs there are in by political conomists, that there Germany of that incipient free-trade never was a duty that was reaction which some of our politi- paid by the consumer," is perhaps cians contrive to discern on the con- the most misleading, and, from its tinent of Europe especially in the appeal to self-interest, the most countries most wedded to protection dangerous of all. It is, in fact, the —there can be no hesitation in repiy- kernel of the whole free-trade quesing that there are none. The

po

tion ; for if it can be shown that the litical constellations of the empire, consumer does not always pay the the highest personal influences, the duty, by as much as he does not most powerful industrial and com- do so, the foreign producer, and not mercial forces-all are on the side he, is relieved of a duty repealed, of the existing system. The belief and to that extent free imports beis widely diffused that the tarif re- come a tax on the British public. form of 1879 saved Germany from It mnst be carefully kept in view a great ruin, and that that empire that there are two distinct classes is now on the road to industrial of imports : 1. Those which do not greatness, perhaps to the success- come into competition with British sion of that hegemony which Great products ; 2. Those which direitBritain, it is thought, now with ly do so. At the threshold we difficulty holds in her hands. Pro- are confronted with this curious tection is in the national air, and anomaly--that free-trading Engit will not be dissipated by foreign land, at the present day, levies arguments." The fact that only from import duties more than any 46,818 emigrants left Germany for other nation in Europe.? The

1 Why this country selects for the purpose of taxation only imports which do not come into competition with her products, is inexplicable. It cannot be because she regards these as luxuries; for she annually admits free silk manufac

« PoprzedniaDalej »