The Lords of the Committee do not think it belongs to them to settle and determine what the amount of these fees should be. They are of opinion that such an arrangement may be made with more propriety by the Lords of the Treasury after consulting the Commissioners of the customs on this subject, and if they think proper, the Governors of the respective Islands where these free ports are established, and when the system is formed and approved of, it may then be proper to repeal the 8th section of the free port Act exempting foreign vessels from the payment of fees, and to enact by the authority of Parliament what the amount of such fees should in future be, with a penalty on any officer who shall presume to take any fee to which he shall not be legally entitled.
ANTIGUA: PETITION OF THE COUNCIL AND ASSEMBLY TO GEORGE III, June 17921
To the King's most Excellent Majesty.
The humble Petition of the Council and Assembly of the Island of Antigua. Sheweth
That your Majesty's Island of Antigua is reduced to the utmost distress by several successive years of dry weather, and the devastations of insects formerly unknown in the Colony; whereby the labour of the planter has been rendered unprofitable and many families reduced from affluence to want.
That from the rapid decline of our commerce the towns of this Island exhibit a melancholy picture of poverty and decay--streets, once crowded with industrious inhabitants now untrodden and solitary; shops and warehouses formerly filled with the manufactures of Great Britain and Ireland, now empty and shut up; dwelling houses untenanted; harbours without shipping, mechanics without work, and men of every profession in want of employment. . . .
To relieve our present distresses and to prevent similar sufferings in future, we your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects humbly implore your Majesty and the Lords and Commons of Great Britain graciously to extend the freedom of trade to one, or more, of the ports of this Island, as the only means of restoring our expiring commerce, of preventing our remaining inhabitants from quitting the Island, of inducing those who have left it to return, of encouraging new settlers among us, and of saving the Colony from ruin.
We therefore your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Council and Assembly of your Majesty's Island of Antigua do most humbly pray your most Excellent Majesty to grant your Majesty's____________________