British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

recommended, no less with a view to the interests of this country, than to the situation of surrounding nations. Upon them the policy of Great Britain has rarely been without its influence. The principles recognized and acted upon by her, may powerfully operate in aiding the general progress towards the establishment of a liberal and enlightened system of national intercourse throughout the world, as they have too long done in supporting one of a contrary character, by furnishing the example and justification of various measures of commercial exclusion and restriction. To measures of this nature her pre-eminence and prosperity have been unjustly ascribed. It is not to prohibitions and protections we are indebted for our commercial greatness and maritime power;-these, like every public blessing we enjoy, are the effects of the free principles of the happy constitution under which we live, which, by protecting individual liberty, and the security of property, by holding out the most splendid rewards to successful industry and merit, has, in every path of human exertion, excited the efforts, encouraged the genius, and called into action all the powers of an aspiring, enlightened, and enterprising people.


32
REPORT FROM A SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE FOREIGN TRADE OF THE COUNTRY 9 March 18211

. . . The policy most advantageous to the country, as far as the mere supply of timber is concerned, would be to obtain it of the best quality, and at the lowest price, without reference to the quarter from whence it might be derived; and the course of your Committee has been to inquire, first, to what extent the operation of this policy is infringed by the system of duties now in force; in the next place, to examine how far the limits imposed on its operation are sustained by adequate considerations of expediency; and lastly, to determine whether, by the adoption of any and what alterations, the duties might be rendered, as far as circumstances allowed, more consistent with the regard due to the principle on which this policy proceeds, and generally more beneficial to the commercial interests of the United Kingdom.

It appears that previously to the imposition of the duties in 1809-10,

____________________
1
Parl. Papers, 1821 (186), vol. vi, pp. 4-11. For the development towards freer trade and imperial preference instead of imperial monopoly, see Wallace's speech ( Hamard, 1821, vol. v, 1289-99) and Huskisson collected Speeches (Lond. 1831), especially his defence of the new reciprocal system ( Hansard, 1825, vol. xii, 1196- 1222). Statutes worthy of careful study include 3 Geo. IV, caps. 44 and 45 regulating trade between the West Indian and N. American colonies, and 4 Geo. IV, cap. 77, enabling reciprocal preferences; also 6 Geo. IV, caps. 73 and 114.

-299-

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