British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

57
RESOLUTIONS OF THE COMMITTEE OF WEST INDIA MERCHANTS, 24 March 18251
West India Dock House, London.
1st. That [discussions a year ago on the matter of the claim of Mauritius to equalization left it 'undisputed' that] no pledge existed under which this country was bound to admit the sugar and other produce of the Mauritius into British consumption on more favourable terms than such as are applicable to the produce of our East Indian possessions: on the contrary it was at that time shewn that the inhabitants of the Mauritius had deliberately and expressly objected to being placed upon the footing of colonies.
2nd. That during 15 years which have elapsed since the Mauritius has been in our possession she has continued to enjoy all the advantages (and to her they have been most important) of a commerce unfettered by those restrictions to which during the same period the West India colonies have remained subjected.
3rd. That the system under which it was the pleasure of the British Government for almost two centuries to regulate her colonial trade (although it was in many respects calculated to check their progress and did in some instances inflict upon them great loss and injury) has nevertheless in that long interval become habitual to the colonists and has occasioned intimate connections and dependencies which cannot suddenly be dissolved by a change of system in so much that a considerable time must elapse before the West India colonies can derive much benefit from those facilities of foreign intercourse which it is proposed to open to them.
4th. That in this important respect the situations of the West India colonies and of the Mauritius are widely dissimilar: the former submitting to impervious necessity are under engagements from which it is difficult for them within a short period to be liberated so as to have their free choice of markets,--and, even if that time had arrived, must look for their connections under all the advantages of inexperience and of an intercourse not yet established; while the Mauritius, already practically enjoying connections established under the free system, is to receive the gift of the most favourable access to
____________________
1
West India Committee MSS., Minute Book of the Committee of Merchants, vol. vi. A copy was sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Treasury, to the Colonial Office, and to the Committee for Trade (B.T. 1/207). The West Indians had fought equalization resolutely. The West India Committee of Planters and Merchants had submitted a Memorial on 31 May 1824 opposing it and on 2 June 1824 the West India colonial agents had added a strong protest (B.T. 1/186). The Government decided--despite these efforts to urge what was in detail a very inaccurate case--to equalize the duties on Mauritian sugar with those on the West Indian produce. When the Bill (6 Geo. IV, cap. 76) passed the Commons in June 1825 there was barely a quorum present. For the debate, see Hansard, vol. xiii, 1039-43.

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