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Majesty's, Government may hereafter were still piling up statistics, and were submit.
still engaged in "the grand inquest. .' I observe that not only did the What the noble Duke said in June was noble Earl who initiated this discussion good common sense, and ought to be suggest that a policy should be declared, acted on—that a great evil undoubtedly but that the Government should be bound exists, and that it ought to be remedied by a Resolution of the House as to the in some way or another. The noble Duke particular form which a proposal should said.with great force that the circumstances take. It is a very remarkable thing as a bad completely changed, and that, inmatter of constitutional curiosity, and I stead of manufacturing as we had forthink it should be handed down to the merly done for the whole world, we were future as a precedent which ought to be being surrounded by hostile tariffs. What avoided. On 15th June there was a dis was to be done was to inquire in what cussion not very unlike others heard in way that great evil could be remedied. the House when this subject is raised,
Is it, or is it not, an evil that we are being and the noble Duke on that occasion used shut out from every market in the world, words in which, alluding to the line taken and, if it is, are those charged with the by noble Lords opposite that inquiry Government of the country not under into the present system was not even some obligation to endeavour to apply a permissible, he said they would
remedy? And if there is no remedy but " Find themselves compelled, whether they retaliation, what is the objection? At liked it or not, to take their share in this grand present, if we go to France or Germany inquest of the nation which was to be opened." and say, “Will you let our goods in free
But from what the noble Duke has if we let your goods in free ? " the answer just said, it does not appear that his mind we should receive from these countries is so open as to whether there should be would te, “Our goods go in free already. this grand inquest or not.
You have nothing to offer us. Why
should we give you anything, when you THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE: I
have nothing to give us in return?” thought the inquiry had been concluded. Whoever heard of a bargain in which one
, and that the Government had arrived at a partner began by saying, "I have nothing conclusion to reverse the fiscal policy of to give you ; please give me something ?"
” the last two generations.
It is not unnatural that the Govern
ment should endeavour in some way to THE LORD CHANCELLOR: From get rid of the evil inflicted on this country what did the noble Duke infer that the and its commerce by high tariffs. But it inquiry was concluded ?
is said retaliation would be ineffectual,
that it would lead either to a tariff war, THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE: The which would be injurious to both parties, decision.
or to the duties put on being made per
petual, and thus protection would be THE LORD CHANCELLOR: What introduced. I admit that a commercial decision ? I have not heard of any war may be injurious; but if it were decision to reverse the fiscal policy of the known that we would go into commercial country. On the contrary, one of the werfare with a weapon that we could use, most frequent complaints on both sides is our antagonists would be a little chary of that no decision has been announced. challenging us by raising their tariffs. All through his observations to-night the The objection to the present system is noble Duke referred to free trade; but in that every country may bring its goods to the course of his former speech he very our shores and seriously injure our indusjustly said we never had free trade, but tries by underselling us, and we have no only free imports. How the noble Duke power to resist them. That injury is can have come to the conclusion that being done cannot be denied. But it is the inquiry was concluded is one of said we must take a wider view. I agree those mysteries which I am not able to that we must not confine our view to one solve. I was under the impression, industry, but must look to the prosperity until the noble Duke spoke, that we and interest of the whole country. But.
The Earl of Halsbury.
on the other hand, we must remember qualities, and I think the Government may that the whole country is made up of its be congratulated on obtainingsuch recruits. different parts. How many of its indus- My Lords, I have been accustomed for tries may be destroyed with impunity? years to treat everything which the It is interesting to observe the different noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack forms in which the attack on the Govern- says with great respect, and I do so now ; ment has been made; und until the but he has propounded a doctrine which Government themselves determine on
has fallen on my ears with strange sound. which line of defence they will place them- The Government claim the right to selves, I suppose they may be justly abused appeal to the country to-morrow, or any by both sides-by those who complain that day, for a mandate of the greatest imMinisters are not sufficiently protectionists portance ; yet, when details are asked and by those who assert that their policy for, my noble and learned friend replies, would lead to the taxation of food.
“What right have you to make any
inquiry as to what that mandate is to be The Government should be judged by for?” I contend that, if the fullest their professions. They have put forward information on the subject is not obtained no concrete policy. All that is before in Parliament, the country will have the country is the Prime Minister's actually placed before it the nature of statement that he is prepared to reverse the mandate at twenty-four hours notice, the policy that no duty could ever be and they will have to determine upon it imposed except for the purposes of in ignorance. That is not the way to revenue. If there is an evil to be met, is obtain the genuine opinion of the country it right to take the leading principle of on any great question. the Sheffield speech and of the pamphlet -and there is, I assert, no difference The noble and learned Earl, referring between the the private paper and the to the observation of the noble Duke as to pamphlet in this respect ? The principle his inability to understand the meaning of is that the country has a right to say to a policy which was represented by two other countries,' “ Unless your fiscal words, quoted the case of Home Rule. system is so altered that our goods may Of course, the meaning of those two get into your markets, we shall refuse to words was clearly understood, for Irish let your goods into our markets." All politicians had been for years explaining that is claimed is that that liberty should to the country what Home Rule was; exist. The form in which and the extent and Mr. Gladstone never consulted the to which that should be done are neces- country on Home Rule until he had in. sarily matters of detail. But that that troduced the Bill of 1886 with all its details should be the leading principle is all the Not till then did he ask the country to Prime Minister has ever said.
express its opinion. No one, I think, *LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD: My ought to deny to Parliament the right of Lords, I fully share the opinion which investigation as to the nature of the has been expressed by the noble and mandate to be asked for by, and as to learned Earl on the Woolsack, that the the policy of, His Majesty's Government. Question on the Paper is a very narrow The speech of the Marquess of Salisbury
He one. I also agree with him that there was satisfactory so far as it went. has been considerable digression during said the policy of the Government was the debate, but that digression is quite that of supporting free trade. He went natural, and I do not think that any on to say that protection threw a burden member of His Majesty's Government on the consumer and gave a benefit to will complain either that inquiries have the producer. That is very satisfactory. been made that digression has But he was only playing the part which occurred. I am sure there are many in Mr. Gerald Balfour played in the other this House who would wish to offer to House of Parliament. We afterwards His Majesty's Government their con- had the remarkable speech delivered by gratulation upon the two recruits they Lord Selborne. I am sure the noble have obtained on the Front Bench. The speech of the noble Marquess Lord Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty Salisbury and of the noble Earl Lord knows that it is impossible for me to say Donoughmore were speeches of good a discourteous word in regard to him,
But the noble Earl seemed to be suffer to learn whether the Queen's mail coach ing from a suppressed attack of protec- had been captured by those rebels. Our tion. Let us see what my noble friend gaols were full, and men were being tried said. He raised a question which is for sedition and treason. All this did important from many points of view, not proceed from political disaffection because it is a purely protectionist point and wrong, or from bad laws, but it proof view. Having had a great deal to do ceeded from one cause alone, and it was with the Unionist Party both on its plat- that men were starving and wanted food, forms and in regard to its policy, I wish | and had to fight in defence of their very to ask my noble friend to consider the lives; and they had to break the effect of his words upon the fortunes of law in order to make their grievances the Unionist Party. He has stated that known. Many of your Lordships may in the protectionist period, ten or fifteen have seen & graphic account of the years before free trade, this country state of the country during the time existed in a state of prosperity. Well, which my noble friend Lord Selborne the people who were interested in the says
& prosperous time.
That prosperity of this country will be sur. account says that the whole of the prised to hear that His Majesty's Govern- labourers in the agricultural districts ment regard the state of things existing were
starvation; before free trade as a prosperous state of that the poor rates were 20s. in the things.
pound; that the large towns were like
beleaguered cities, so dreadful was the *THE EARL OF SELBORNE: I must destitution and misery which prevailed be allowed to state my point in my own in them; that people walked the streets way. The noble Duke had stated that like gaunt shadows, and not like human there was no period of prosperity before beings; that bread was so dear that the repeal of the Corn Laws, and I few were able to buy it, and we were on pointed out that it was
prosperous the verge of a revolution when the Corn according to the opinion of the period. I Laws were repealed. Then is given the pointed out that prosperity was a com- anecdote about the pinch of curry powder. parative term, and the standard of com. That was the description given by an parison was the experience of the world accurate and truthful historian of at the given moment, and I proved from events, for that is the record of Mr. contemporary records that in the opinion Chamberlain himself. I am not seeking of that time, before the repeal of the to introduce anything in the way of a Com Laws, the period had been con- taunt to my right hon. friend, but this sidered a prosperous one.
description represents history, and
I take it that this description is *LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD: That true, yet my noble friend says those is exactly what I am traversing. No were prosperous times. People at doubt, after the French War this country that time may have looked to the recuperated, and manufactures capitalists of the country, and thought flourished. Steamships were built, that if the capitalists were prosperous the and from the capitalists' point country was prosperous. They are now of view there was no doubt an increased looking towards the Tariff Commission, and prosperity, but that
not the saying that this country is prosperous, prosperity of the country. May I say but they do not go into the cottages of that if my noble friend had lived as long the people and learn for themselves the as I have he would not have said that suffering that comes from the want of that period was a prosperous one. I can food. My noble friend Lord Selborne recollect when those who looked out at said if there had been any amelioration night saw the fires burning from the of that state of things it did not result agricultural homesteads, when reports from free trade. came in of the breaking up of machinery, when lawless men scoured the country
*THE EARL OF SELBORNE: I said and raided the inns. The miners of free imports. Wales were marching on Newport, and *LORD JAMES of HEREFORD: Yes ; I remember standing by the main road imports and free food coming in untaxed.
Lord James of Hereford.
Your Lordships will remember that the I mention, in passing, that I think we are agitation for free trade commenced in to be congratulated upon the fact that one the year 1849, and in the year 1852 the Member of your Lordships' House, Government of Lord Derby was formed, most highly regarded, most highly and at the end of that year free trade venerated, still remains amongst us, who had only been in operation some three was a member of that Cabinet, and if he years. A question arose, on the Motion were here to-night-I allude to the Lord of Mr. Charles Villiers, whether free trade John Manners of 1852-I think he was a doctrine that ought to be supported, would readily confirm that, protecand a discussion took place in December,
voted in 1853, as to what should be the opinion favour of that declaration, and also,
if he of the House on that subject. At that
had been present to-night, told
how it time Mr. Disraeli, as Chancellor of the he might have
that voted for such Exchequer, was the Leader of the House, and he then expressed a wish that the Resolution. I hope that this statement Resolution proposed and the question it of my noble friend has now been pretty raised should be definitely cleared up, and well disposed of, and I hope he will believe in the course of that discussion, which Mr. Chamberlain if he does not believe was rather conversational, Mr. Disraeli me. He has now got the statement on said
this point of the old protectionist Party,
and I ask him to listen to such evidence “ Under these circumstances we endeavoured and not rely upon persons less worthy of to draw up a distinct Resolution which we considered would conciliate your opinion to such a
credence. degree that we hoped it would be accepted. I have not the Resolution at hand, but I suffi. Perhaps I may anticipate for a moment ciently recollect it to know that it most un
what we shall have to deal with. There questionably declared the opinion that the welfare of the working classes was attributable is one delivered statement which I am to the cheapness of provisions occasioned by sure will affect public opinion to a great recent legislation."
extent. The Lord Chancellor says that That was the opinion of Lord Derby's we have no right to ask the Government Cabinet, and Mr. Disraeli was willing to what their opinions are individually. I bring forward that Amendment expressly know I have no right to do that, but in the terms which I have mentioned, after his speech I am inclined to suspect stating that it was the opinion of the them, and I think that my suspicions are House that the amelioration of the well founded. We know the opinion of working classes had been affected by many members of the Government. means of free imports, and that it was in Without breaking the canons of privacy, consequence of the cheapness of food, we know pretty well what the views of resulting from that legislation, that the the Chancellor of the Exchequer are. I working classes had had their position think I have a suspicion, from what my altered for the better. It turns out that right hon. friend Mr. Alfred Lyttelton whilst now there are members of the has said, what he means. You may call present Government saying that such is his opinions pious opinions if you like, not the case, the colleagues of Lord Derby, but still they are his opinions, and the Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Walpole, Sir J. Paking- Lord Chancellor cannot object to my ton, and every member of the Government stating that Mr. Lyttelton has told us of 1852, went into the Lobby and that we cannot put preferential tariffs voted that such had been the result of
on one side. My noble friend Lord free trade in ameliorating the condition Selborne says that the Government of the working classes, and congratulating are free-traders, and he says they the country that the previous state of will not ban preferential tariffs. I things had been changed. Not only
that means they will not oppose the Government, but 486 Members them. Is that the policy of the Governof the House of Commons, voted that such ment? When these views are placed was the result in 1852, and now it is left before the country we wish to know to the year 1904 for us to be told that such was not the case, and that there was
what the policy of the Government is in no improvement for the working classes regard to them; but when we hear Ministers of this country through free trade. May in the House of Commons telling us that they are in favour of these protectionist country. I suppose he will accept the view views, then we are told by the Lord of my noble friend on the Woolsack and Chancellor that we have no right to he will say, “I shall tell the electors they inquire what the views of the will vote for retaliation and negotiation." Government are individually. Have the I suppose I must take that answer. Now governed no right to know the opinions of let me ask my noble friend how is he those who govern? Is it possible to hear going to take the opinion of the country these individual opinions and for us to be upon negotiation and retaliation? How satisfied while the Government say “We are you going to obtain your vote upon will some time or other tell you what our that mandate ? How are you going to opinions are?” I would ask my noble separate it from the rest of the proposals friend on the Woolsack to say whether in your programme? Suppose you are the Government will tell us this after the placed between a free-trader and a next general election or before it. We supporter of Mr. Chamberlain—how are must have some statement on this you going to get a vote for the Governquestion. The people of this country ment under those circumstances upon are not constitutional lawyers, and if you retaliation and negotiation? There will are going to ask them to vote some time be men who will not attach imporor other you must tell them what they tance to their vote upon that quesare going to vote upon. It is no good tion, but they will desire to vote telling them after they have voted. It upon education and Chinese labour, and may be negotiation and retaliation, and all those subjects that engage the attenif it is, then you would have their banners tion of the public, and how can you inscribed with those words, and you separate that question from all the other would tell the farmer and agricultural questions which will confront the labourer “That is sufficient for
and elector? There is one way you can do we will not tell you any more." I feel this, and it is for the Government to seriously in regard to the fortunes frankly place their propositions before of the Unionist Party, and I say Parliament and before the country, and that such strategy is placing the then you can place them properly before Unionist Party in very great peril . the electors. When I contested my first
, If you tell the farmer that your policy is election in 1868 there was one question retaliation he will ask you what it is you before the public, and this course was are going to retaliate upon. He will ask taken through the statesmanship of a whether it is upon agricultural implements man who knew the necessity for obtainor the chemicals he uses upon the land. ing mandates. In the year 1868 Mr. My noble friend says, “We are not going Gladstone brought forward certain Resoto tell you, but we shall leave it to the lutions in the House of Commons denew Parliament and they will tell you.” claring the necessity of disestablishing I assure my noble friend that the Unionist the Irish Church, and he stated precisely Party will stand in great peril in conse- the manner in which it was to take place, quence of this state of things. You are and every Liberal candidate had that practically telling the agricultural question in his mind, and at every labourer, “You are to have this great meeting I read this and used it, and (Í policy of retaliation and negotiation and obtained my majority by virtue of being what more can you want ?" He will ask able to tell the people what it was the you, what are you going to tax for retalia- Prime Minister required. But we have tion? I think in this way you come
not got anything like that now, for here down to a very low level and a very you are mixing up this question with commonplace level , but it is a very If you take that course the demand of the
general policy of the Government. practical level and you cannot avoid
Government will be driven into the back. being placed in such a position.
ground. It will be Mr. Chamberlain's May I ask my noble friend the Secretary policy that we shall have to fight, and for Foreign Affairs if he speaks to-night to this Government, asking for a mandate so answer one or two questions. In the obtained, will have no proof that the first place I want to ask what is the people have ever expressed an opinion mandate that he expects from the upon that question. My noble friend
Lord James of Hereford.