British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

31
REPORT FROM A SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS APPOINTED TO CONSIDER OF THE MEANS OF MAINTAINING AND IMPROVING THE FOREIGN TRADE OF THE COUNTRY 18 July 18201

It has appeared to your Committee that the means of attaining the object, to which their consideration has been directed by the order of the House, consisted less in affording any additional legislative protection or encouragement to the commerce of the United Kingdom with foreign states, than in relieving it from a variety of restrictions which the policy of a former period imposed upon it; and which, whether expedient or otherwise at the time when they were enacted, having ceased to be necessary for the purposes which originally recommended them, tend to embarrass its operations, and impede its extension and prosperity. Your Committee are satisfied that the skill, enterprise, and capital of British merchants and manufacturers require only an open and equal field for exertion; and that the most valuable boon that can be conferred on them, is, as unlimited a freedom from all interference, as may be compatible with what is due to private vested interests that have grown up under the existing system, and those more important considerations with which the safety and political power of the country are intimately connected.

Your Committee have therefore thought that they should best consult the intentions of the House, by directing their immediate attention to those regulations which, under the name either of restrictions or protections, operate in controlling the commerce of the kingdom, in order to estimate their nature and effects; and to judge in what degree it may be prudent to retain them, and in what instances (subject to the considerations referred to) their removal or modification may be recommended with safety and advantage.

In contemplating the range of the duty assigned to them, and the variety and importance of the objects of investigation embraced by it, your Committee were of opinion that the most convenient course they could adopt would be to take the subjects up under distinct heads, and report upon them in succession; by which the House might be enabled, not only to form its judgment more easily on each subject, as separately submitted to it, but also more readily to give effect to its judgment, when formed, by such legislative enactments as in the respective cases might seem expedient. . . .

[Reference is made to 'the excessive accumulation and complexity' of the laws of

____________________
1
Parl. Paper, 1820 (300), vol. ii, pp. 367-79. See also the petition presented by A. Baring and others in 1820, Hansard, vol. i, 179-82.

-295-

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