Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

per head.

[ocr errors]

Value.

Per cent.

45

gross receipts from customs duties toms duties to the extent of 4s. of the chief European nations were 8d. per head of population, and in 1884:

France to the extent of 78., the

United Kingdom levies IIs. 5d. United Kingdom,

£20,558,611 France,

The following table 13,356,000 German Empire,

10,413,000

shows the chief imports on which Russian Empire,

9,649,000 these duties were raised, their deItaly,

6,534,000 clared value, the amount and perSpain ) 1882),

3,975,000

centage of duty paid in the year Austria,

3,727,000

ending 31st March, 1885:-
While Germany only levies cus-
Imports.

Duties paid.
Tobacco,

£2,715,806
£9,277,058

342
Tea,

10,494,953

4,795,786 Coffee,

3,750,413

205,046 572 Spirits,

2,077,209

4,313,039 208 Wines,

5,341,117 1,233,998 23 It may be conceded that, as a for diminished production means rule, the consumer pays the greater increased cost of each pound of portion of the duties on these im- tea. Some curtailment of supports; but if we bear in mind that ply, from weak growers getting insupply and demand between them volved, or from shipments being alone fix price, and therefore, un- diverted to other markets, there less a duty imposed curtail the might and probably would occur, supply, it cannot affect market and to the extent that diminution value, it is quite conceivable that in supply affected prices, the conwhen a duty is raised, and an at- sumer would pay and no more. tempt in consequence made to en- The difference between that adhance prices, consumption is at vance in price and the excess duty once checked, and the importer, imposed clearly falls on the prorather than lose his market, con- ducer. tents himself with a smaller profit, As regards the second class of without materially reducing the imports, the case is widely differquantity he had previously sent. ent, more particularly in recent Let us suppose that the duty years, when production has on tea is raised from 45 to 55 greatly exceeded consumption, for

The Chinese and In- foreigners only send us their surdian merchants, finding their mar- plus stocks, and must sell for what gin of profit reduced 10 per cent, they can get. It has been calcuoffer less to the tea-planters for lated that the incidence of a duty the next crop;

as they cannot falls in the relative proportion of hold, but must realise to meet the the consumption to the quantity next season's outlay, they have no imported. Thus, if the consumpalternative but to accept the best tion of wheat is 24 millions of price they can get. Unless, there- quarters, and we import 15 milfore, the additional duty sweeps lions, the consumer's portion of a away all their profit, they will pro- duty of ios. a quarter is found to duce as much as they did before, be by the following formula: as

so

per cent.

tures to the value of 10 millions. It almost looks as if the method of levying customs duties had been specially devised for the purpose of ruining British industries -anyhow, that is the effect it is having on our silk manufactures.

24 millions, the consumption, is to increased cost of home, and de15 millions, the quantity imported, creased cost of foreign produetion. so is ios. to 6s. 3d.

Let us take, for instance, pianos, But even this amount would not which come largely from Germany. fall to be paid by him. The impo- We shall suppose a manufacturer sition of a ros. duty would cause a to have turned out 500 pianos fall in price in the countries which annually, for which, before it was send us wheat, a rise in prices invaded by those of German make, here in anticipation of smaller sup- he had found a ready sale in the plies, and an increase in wheat- home market. He no longer does cultivation, especially if the rev- so, and has, in consequence, to reenue derived from the duty were duce his production to 350. As applied to relieving agriculture of a his rent, taxes, &c., remain the portion of the taxation it now has same, each piano . he now turns to bear. This increase in home out costs more. In other words, production would in some measure decreased production means inmake up for the shorter supplies creased cost of each article produced. from abroad; and to the extent it But the mischief does not end here, did so, it would check the rise in for the home producer is additionvalue. The fact stated by Mr ally handicapped by the rates and Harris, that after the repeal of taxes he has to pay, while the the Corn Laws there was a sud- foreigner, from whose market he is den advance in the price of land excluded, not only escapes these, in near corn-growing countries, but has his cost of production shows they felt the repeal had re- decreased by having the additional lieved them, in whole or in part, of market he is so generously provided a burden they had previously paid. with by our system. Suppose the

If it be true that a duty is al- right conceded to Birmingham and ways paid by the consumer, and Sheffield of imposing, as against that it is iniquitous to tax the peo- each other, a duty of 25 per cent; ple's food, on what principle is and further, let us suppose that every quarter of wheat grown in Birmingham imposed the duty and this country made to contribute to that Sheffield refused to do so. the revenue 3s. 6d.? If the con- Birmingham, safe from the comsumer pays in the one case, he must petition of Sheffield wares, would pay in the other; and if, as Mr manufacture not only what she reGladstone so absurdly contended quired for the wants of her people, in Edinburgh, a duty of 5s. would but having the Sheffield market raise the price all round 55., it in- open to her as well, she would evitably follows wheat is in this manufacture largely to supply it. country to-day 3s. 6d. dearer than, Birmingham would thus have her but for the tax, it otherwise would co:t of production decreased ; conbe. In the name of common-sense, versely, that of Sheffield would be 'why don't we take it off the land increased. How long would Shefand put it on imported grain ? field trade flourish under such

It is most important, as bearing circumstances? We have here, in on this question, and more especi- a nut-shell, precisely the position of ally on the present depression of German and British trade at the trade, we should try and realise present time. It is no answer to what our standing alone with open say, the manufacturer of pianos ports to receive the surplus stocks can reduce his establishment and of the world means. It means take smaller premises; for that

[ocr errors]

involves dismissal of workmen, cause the Manchester production, who are thrown out of employment, which had to come forward, being the consequent loss, as we shall fully up to Indian requirements, presently see, of net income not the increase in duty did not only to them, but all with whom diminish the supply. When, years the employees and they have dealt, afterwards, the rate was reduced and a deterioration in the quality to five per cent, again the market of work, entailed by the folly of, was not affected. Here, then, is at no matter what cost to the an instance in which clearly the countrycheapening everything five per cent of added duty was to the uttermost. Cheap work not paid by the consumer but by means bad work. That there has the producer. been generally a lowering of that A similar case is furnished by standard of excellence in work- the repeal of the registration-fee manship for which this country on corn in 1869, but not finally has hitherto been celebrated, is taken off till 1870. As there was notorious. If any one doubts it, no other nation in the world standlet him read the consular reports.ing with open ports to receive

Our contention that the con- foreign surplus stocks, and assumer does not pay the whole of thanks to the load of taxation the duty, and not uufrequently, laid on land in this country--the when the rate is low, no portion foreign producer's margin of profit of it-abundantly proved by the was large, it would be the height evidence of eminent manufacturers' of absurdity to contend that his in the reports of the Royal Com- having to pay this fee caused him mission on the Depression of Trade to keep back one quarter of grain, -is to those who have been engag- or that the relieving him of it led ed in foreign or colonial commerce him to send more than, but for it, an almost self-evident proposition; he otherwise would have sent, but as it may not be so to those which is in a measure proved by who have not had such experience, the fact that the price of wheat and whose minds are still saturated rose from 46s. rod. in 1870 to 56s. with Cobdenite fallacies, we shall 8d. in 1871, to 575. in 1872, and give a few facts in illustration.

in 1873. Mr Mulhall During the Mutiny, the Indian shows that the average prices of Government, in 1858, raised the wheat in three European counduty on Manchester manufactures tries, from 1851 to 1880, were, as from five to ten per cent. This compared with the United Kingdid not affect market value, be- dom, as follows :

58s. 8d.

United Kingdom, 5 is. 4d.; France, 51s. 4d.; Germany, 48s. 8d.; Austria, 48s. Last April

the rate month in this country. Here, then, quoted at 305. rod. in France, is a

is a case in which clearly the against 305.

ud. in the same French consumer did not pay the

we

saw

66

1“ There is also evidence that in respect of certain classes of products the reputation of our workmanship does not stand so high as it formerly did. The intensity of the competition for markets, while in many respects it has legitimately diminished the cost of production, has also tended to encourage the manufacture of low-priced goods of inferior quality, which have not only failed to give satisfaction themselves, but have also affected the reputation of other classes of goods to which no such exception could be taken.”_Final Report of Royal Commission, page 22.

duty. For the shipper of wheat thing like the amount represented to England aud France, getting by the duty? That is so now;

; the same price in both markets, it was not so in the past. found his French account sales Mr Porter, member of the Unitdebited with a duty of 6s. on each ed States Tariff Commission, in quarter ; and as the prices have his report on the working of the averaged the same for thirty years, free-trade system in England and this one fact is of itself decisive the protection system of the Conof the question. France, which tinent, says: “I was assured by a in 1884 imported over 8,000,000 score of manufacturers, when traquarters of grain and flour, wisely velling in Lancashire and Yorkputs into her exchequer the value shire, that the recent increase in of the duty she imposes ; while we the French tariff came out of their hand over to our rivals the millions pockets, and not the consumers of of pounds, which if retained, would France; that they were compelled enable us to greatly reduce im- to sell their goods in France at the perial and local taxation.

same price as before the increase Mr Hepworth of Dewsbury, at of duty. In Germany I found

prethe meeting of the York Chamber cisely the same state of things. of Agriculture, stated, that " when At page 19 of the final report of the United States tariffs were in- the Royal Commission on the Decreased, and again increased, his pression of Trade (74) after stating firm, in order to compete, had to that the value of our exports to decrease, and still again to de-o the principal protectionist councrease, its prices to retain its cus- tries was larger in proportion to tom. Does this look as though our population in the years 1880the American

were 84 than in the three previous paying the import duties? quinquennial periods, we find this

Mr Vickers, in his evidence be- admission : But notwithstanding fore the Royal Commission (second this increase, there can be little report, page 10), after stating doubt that the obstruction to our that the trade of his firm in bar trade, caused by the growing strinand sheet steel with America had gency of commercial policy of fallen from £83,000 in 1864 to those countries, tends to make it far £4000 in 1885, and during the less profitable. same period in railway material This, from the free-trade mafrom £100,000 to £1000, says, in jority who signed that report, is answer to the inquiry as to whether remarkable. We have understood the consumer paid the American them to hold, as an indisputable duty steel manufactures- axiom, that there never was a duty

Certainly not; they do not pay which was not paid by the conanything like the amount that is sumers. Here is a candid admisrepresented by the duty, because sion, that while the trade is larger the works have been established, the profits are less, owing to the and their proprietors must now growing stringency of the commanufacture at a low price, in mercial policyin other words, the order to keep the works going: importer has to pay more for the they do not manufacture at a large privil ge of competing in the foreign profit.” Asked, “ Is the effect of market. He pays the duty and not the American tariff to keep your the consumer. Even if we grant goods out without raising the price that the latter is at present benein America to the consumer to any- fited by free imports, he is not in

consumers

on

the end likely to be so. Take the The vast majority of the comcase of sugar.

The bounty system munity, therefore, being much more is rapidly bringing about the ruin producers than consupiers, it reof this industry here and in the quires but little reflection to see West Indies: when foreign coun- that a higher level of prices, intries find it extinguished, the duced by a judicious system of bounties will be dropped, and the protection, would be a distinct higher prices the British consumer benefit to the greatest number. will then have to pay will be more As a question of fact, trade never than recoup these countries the was so prosperous as when wheat sacrifices they are now making. was at about 50s. The body poliBut, we are told, they are taxing tic is like the human body—when themselves for our benefit—that, in one member suffers, all the others fact, these bounties are simply a suffer with it. If such an importgift to us. If this is so, how is it ant member of the body politic as the British Government is constantly its agriculture is suffering, is it striving by diplomacy to obtain their possible the other members can abolition ? If high tariffs so cruelly escape suffering with it? Our exhandicap our rivals in the great chequer would benefit by a largely industrial race, why do our man- increased revenue, one-half of which ufacturers so bitterly complain of at least would be paid by the forthem ? Because experience is show- eigner. Revenue must be paid ing them that our so-called free- somehow, and it seems but fair trade system is based on nothing that the importer should be made but a bundle of exploded fallacies. to bear his share of the taxation at

But who is the consumer for present levied from home producers. whom his country makes such great The injunction to "buy in the sacrifices ? If a mere drone who cheapest and sell in the dearest consumes but produces nothing, he market," in itself admirable, did is unworthy of consideration. In our system admit of our acting on a great industrial community like it, is quite as misleading as the ours, producers are in an enormous term free by which we persist in majority. Working men, by the describing our fiscal policy, but labour they contribute, estimated which it would be more accurate to amount to one-third of the cost to term, a system devised for the of production, are much more pro- protection of the foreign producer. ducers than consumers. The in- By it we are enabled to buy in the vestor in home railways, tramways, cheapest market, but at what a water-works, gas-works, mines, or cost! We must sell before we can any other kind of home stocks, is buy, either the merchandise we a producer; all, in fact, who earn produce or the labour we contribfrom work done or capital employed ute towards that production. By in this country are producers, who our thoughtful care for the conwould gain more in income by a sumer and cruel disregard of the general rise in prices than they producer, we have not only rewould lose as consumers. The duced the latter's profits to the exceptions are those whose incomes smallest possible margin, but we are fixed, and the investor whose have, as we have shown, matericapital has gone abroad to assist allly enhanced his cost of producthe foreigner in crippling British tion by curtailing his market. trade, to whose care we may safely is nothing short of mockery to tell leave him.

him to sell in the dearest market,

« PoprzedniaDalej »