British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

Geo. IV. which first altered the colonial system, was not adjusted according to reciprocal treaties; it gave no relief whatever to the British colonists. . . .


59
REPORT FROM A SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON THE COMMERCIAL STATE OF THE WEST INDIA COLONIES, 13 April 18321

[The Committee consider the familiar West Indian case that an implied compact existed under which the trade of West India colonies was confined to the mother country in return for a monopoly of the home market. The abolition of the slave trade has increased the expense of maintaining the slave labour force, whereas since the peace of 1814 Cuba and other captured colonies, having been restored to rival powers, have continued to import large quantities of slaves from Africa.]

. . .The consequence of these events and circumstances is, according to the West Indians, this:--while the quantity of West India produce brought into the United Kingdom from the British colonies is greatly enlarged, that produce, being too plentiful for the English market, has to compete in the markets of Europe with an increased quantity of foreign produce. British colonial produce thus loses the advantage of the domestic monopoly, and its price is regulated, in a great measure, by the price of sugar in the European markets, supplied by the foreign colonies.

The same principles which dictated the abolition of the slave trade, have led the Government of the United Kingdom to adopt, in the colonies under the immediate control of the Crown, measures for the amelioration of the condition of the slaves, some of which diminish the proportion of their labour and produce to the charge which they occasion, and add to the expenses of cultivation.

In its competition with foreign countries, the colonial produce of Great Britain is also subjected to disadvantages, occasioned by the commercial and maritime policy of the mother country. Partial attempts, counteracted in a degree by circumstances to be presently noticed, have been made of late years to relieve the colonies from the effects of the restrictive laws. They have been permitted to carry on a direct intercourse with those countries of Europe and America which, by complying with the terms prescribed, have entitled themselves to such intercourse; but the importation of goods from these foreign countries has been clogged by discriminating duties, and there has been in fact scarcely any intercourse with those countries. In respect of the United States of America, the most important either for export or import, the intercourse has been from time to time suspended,

____________________
1
Parl. Papers, 1831-2 (381), vol. xx, pp.661-77. The Rt. Hon. T. P. Courtenay was Chairman.

-360-

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