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and simple statement of the alterations he proposed, printing and laying before the house a schedule of the amended duties. And he thus generally succeeded in disarming opposition, and passing his customs bills without serious difficulty. But, modestly as these changes were introduced, passing almost in silence through the house—the little discussion they occasioned being confined to the committee on the bill, when the proceedings are rarely at all reported by the public pressit may be questioned whether the practical benefits conferred in this unassuming and unpretending manner on the public, did not infinitely outweigh, in real and permanent value, many of those more ambitious and more prominent measures of the same or other periods, the announcement and discussion of which resounded through both hemispheres, and were agitated by every political coterie in the empire.

His practice was to ascertain from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the proper period in each session, the largest sum that he could be permitted to dispose of for this purpose. He then applied himself

, by careful and searching inquiries, to determine how the boon could be most advantageously bestowed; in other words, what reductions could be made in the multifarious articles of the tariff, so as to secure the greatest benefit to the productive and consuming classes, without risking any larger amount of revenue. The result was an annual improvement sensibly felt by the public throughout the minutest ramifications of trade, while the effect upon the revenue was comparatively trifling.

Mr Poulett Thomson reduced the duties in all to a very considerable extent, in many cases-from a prohibitory amount to a trifling per centage, upon

217 articles of commerce in 1832
63

1833
16

1834 3

1835 49

1836 25

1838

373 articles in the whole. These articles comprised, among othersAlmonds.

Hemp. Bark for tanning or dyeing.

Hides. Cocoa.

Furniture woods. Coffee from British possessions, Chemical oils.

Sago. Gums.

Seeds of various kinds.

India, &c.

FRER TRADE AND THE LEAGUE.

43

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Fresh Fruits.

Cochineal. Dried Fruits.

Indigo. Wax.

Rice. Drugs and Dyes—a numerous Pot and Pearl Ashes. list.

Ivory and Teeth. Oils of various kinds.

Asphalt. Spices.

Stone. Currants

Canes. Raisins.

Books. Figs.

Maps. Prunes.

Mineral Water, &c. Besides a reduction of one half the duty upon all unenumerated goods or merchandise.

and simple statement of the alterations he proposed, printing and laying before the house a schedule of the amended duties. And he thus generally succeeded in disarming opposition, and passing his customs bills without serious difficulty. But, modestly as these changes were introduced, passing almost in silence through the house-the little discussion they occasioned being confined to the committee on the bill, when the proceedings are rarely at all reported by the public pressit may be questioned whether the practical benefits conferred in this unassuming and unpretending manner on the public, did not infinitely outweigh, in real and permanent value, many of those more ambitious and more prominent measures of the same or other periods, the announcement and discussion of which resounded through both hemispheres, and were agitated by every political coterie in the empire.

His practice was to ascertain from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the proper period in each session, the largest sum that he could be permitted to dispose of for this purpose. He then applied himself, by careful and searching inquiries, to determine how the boon could be most advantageously bestowed; in other words, what reductions could be made in the multifarious articles of the tariff, so as to secure the greatest benefit to the productive and consuming classes, without risking any larger amount of revenue. The result was an annual improvement sensibly felt by the public throughout the minutest ramifications of trade, while the effect upon the revenue was comparatively trilling.

Mr Poulett Thomson reduced the duties in all to a very considerable extent, in many cases from a prohibitory amount to a trifling per centage, upon

217 articles of commerce in 1832
63

1833

1834 3

Even where financial or political considerations stopped him from carrying his reductions further, Mr Thomson had established principles and set an example of system in the arrangement of our tariff, which his successors at the Board of Trade have found it necessary to carry on to still further improvements of the same nature.

The records of the Board of Trade, and the evidence of the able officers permanently employed there, such as Mr Macgregor and the late Mr Deacon Hume, attest that the more recent enlarged alterations of the tariff effected by Sir Robert Peel and Mr Gladstone, are, to a great extent, but the realization of projects and the carrying out of principles laid down by Mr Poulett Thomson during his official connection with that board, as desiderata to be secured whenever the government had the power to do so.

The main principles, for example, of the abolition of all prohibitions on imports, the reduction of duties on raw materials employed in manufactures to a nominal amount, and on manufactured articles and objects of consumption to a per centage which would defy the competition of the smuggler, were specifically laid down by Mr Thomson as the true principles of our tariff, in more than one speech and document.

In the session of 1833, and indeed for more than one of the succeeding years, the attention of parliament was chiefly taken up by debates on Ireland and the Irish church. In these Mr Thomson took but little part, although out of the house his influence was continually exerted with his colleagues in office to obtain as large a concession as possible to the principles of religious liberty.

It was, indeed, proposed to him at this period to undertake the office of secretary for Ireland; but he wisely declined the offer, preferring to remain in that department where his

16

1835 49

1836 25

1838

373 articles in the whole. These articles comprised, among others, Almonds.

Hemp. Bark for tanning or dyeing. Hides. Cocoa.

Furniture woods. Coffee from British possessions, Chemical oils.

India, &c. Gums.

Seeds of various kinds.

Sago.

thorough knowledge of the principles and practice of commerce enabled him to be most useful to the public.

On the 20th March, in resisting a motion of Mr Robinson in favour of the substitution of direct for indirect taxation, he delivered a speech which has been said to be “ replete with the soundest principles of financial policy.” That it was able as an oration of controversy is doubtless true; but neither he nor any statesman since has been able to decide what is and what is not sound financial policy, on the question of direct or indirect taxation. On the 22d April he spoke very much at_length, and with effect, on Mr Attwood's motion upon currency.

Two great measures were passed in this session, emanating in a large degree from him—the act for the renewal of the bank charter, and the factories regulation act. Both of these measures he looked upon rather as compromises than as settlements of two difficult questions, in neither of which would the state of public opinion at the time permit sound principles to be fully carried out.

On the subject of banking, and note issue especially, Mr Thomson always entertained very strong opinions. He had paid great attention to the question, which his practical acquaintance with commerce enabled him thoroughly to master. He served assiduously on the committee of secrecy of 1832, on the question of the renewal of the bank charter, and in subsequent years attended closely the several committees on joint-stock banks.

His opinion was always in favour of the exclusion of all paper payable at sight, except the notes of a single national bank issuing paper solely against bullion, and unconnected with banking or private interests. And such a bank he at a later period attempted to create in Canada; by means of which he hoped to establish a system of currency in that colony which should prove a model for other countries. Unfortunately, this valuable project he was prevented, by the pressure of other business, from accomplishing, although a great advance was made towards it, and its plan fully developed. Under such a system he frequently asserted that the exchanges would regulate themselves, panics become impossible, and notes of less denomination than five pounds might be permitted to circulate without risk, thereby liberating a very large capital, now unproductively employed as their substitute in the circulation of the country. **

* It was not only a colonial but a pational, a world-wide loss, that he did not live long enough, nor find leisure while he lived, to put this bank scheme in

45

The arrangement of the act for regulating the labour of children and young persons in factories, occupied much of his attention, as did also in subsequent years the superintendence of the commission appointed to carry out that act, which was allotted to the Board of Trade.

These subjects, with the other usual duties of his office, including the difficult question of the mode in which the refining of foreign sugars in this country could best be permitted, fully engaged his time during the session of 1833. On the breaking up of parliament, he found change of air necessary for his health, and made a tour of the Rhine, returning by way of Paris, where he spent the month of October, engaged in endeavours to negociate the arrangements of a commercial treaty between the two countries.

Early in the session of parliament 1834, the question of the corn laws came on for discussion, upon a motion of Mr Hume, in favour of a moderate fixed duty, in place of the fluctuating or sliding scale of the law of 1828. In this debate, on the 7th March, Mr Poulett Thomson delivered an able speech. Events have since most forcibly confirmed the opinions and predictions therein contained as to the effect of the continuance of these laws. He shewed, by a large body of evidence, that our refusal to take the chief agricultural produce of other countries, and especially of the north of Europe and America, was fast leading them to adopt an equally restrictive policy towards our manufactures, and indeed to combine, in the spirit of the continental system of Napoleon, to shut our products out from the markets of the world. He proved from former experience the tendency of a fluctuating scale of duties to produce and aggravate fluctuation in prices, contrary to the express intention of its framers; and the years that have elapsed since he spoke have remarkably confirmed this argument likewise. He proved that a fixed duty would be as beneficial to the shipping as to every other commercial and manufacturing interest. He shewed how seriously the farmer was deluded and injured by a law which he is told was enacted for his benefit, and to keep prices high and steady, but which almost periodically pours into the markets a flood of foreign grain, just at the moment when they are turning against him, and it becomes necessary for him to sell. He shewed that Mr Huskisson's authority, which then, as since, had been repeatedly quoted against a repeal or alteration of the corn laws, was quite the other way; that he had found reason to operation. But public opinion is now, 1849, ripening into a fixity of principle on the subject of banking and currency, in so far as the severance of the private interests and public business of the Bank of England are concerned.

FREE TRADE AND THE LEAGUE,

thorough knowledge of the principles and practice of commerce enabled him to be most useful to the public.

On the 20th March, in resisting a motion of Mr Robinson in favour of the substitution of direct for indirect taxation, he delivered a speech which has been said to be "replete with the soundest principles of financial policy.” That it was able as an oration of controversy is doubtless true; but neither he nor any statesman since has been able to decide what is and what is not sound financial policy, on the question of direct or indirect taxation. On the 22d April he spoke very much at length, and with effect, on Mr Attwood's motion upon currency.

Two great measures were passed in this session, emanating in a large degree from him—the act for the renewal of the bank charter, and the factories regulation act. Both of these measures he looked upon rather as compromises than as settlements of two difficult questions, in neither of which would the state of public opinion at the time permit sound principles to be fully carried out.

On the subject of banking, and note issue especially, Mr Thomson always entertained very strong opinions. He had paid great attention to the question, which his practical acquaintance with commerce enabled him thoroughly to master. He served assiduously on the committee of secrecy of 1832, on the question of the renewal of the bank charter, and in subsequent years attended closely the several committees on joint-stock banks.

His opinion was always in favour of the exclusion of all paper payable at sight, except the notes of a single national bank issuing paper solely against bullion, and unconnected with banking or private interests. And such a bank he at a later period attempted to create in Canada ; by means of which he hoped to establish a system of currency in that colony which should prove a model for other countries. Unfortunately, this valuable project he was prevented, by the pressure of other business, from accomplishing, although a great advance was made towards it, and its plan fully de veloped. Under such a system he frequently asserted that the exchanges would regulate themselves, panics become impossible, and notes of less denomination than five pounds might be permitted to circulate without risk, thereby liberating a very large capital, now unproductively employed as their substitute in the circulation of the country.*

• It was not only a colonial but a national, a world-wide logs, that he did not live long enough, nor find leisure while he lived, to put this bank scheme in

modify his opinions latterly, since, in 1830, after two years' experience of the corn law of 1828, he had declared“ his unalterable conviction that this law could not be upheld if tho existing taxation, national prosperity, and public contentment were to be preserved, and that it might be wholly repealed without affecting the landed interest, while the people would be relieved from their distress.” Finally, Mr Thomson warned the house of the danger of delaying the question until the distress of the commercial classes increased, our national resources were further consumed, our commerce perhaps irretrievably injured, and the cry for cheaper food had convulsed the country.

In thus' giving utterance to his sentiments on this most vital question, he was speaking against the great majority of his colleagues, the government as a body opposing any change in the law. And, indeed, it was only by extreme firmness on his part that he was enabled to obtain the assent of the cabinet to its being treated as an open question.

In this year, 1834, Mr Thomson introduced some important and valuable improvements in the warehousing system, in a bill which embodied all former acts on the subject, and enlarged their powers, and the facilities thereby afforded to commerce. He likewise brought in and passed an improved customs act, carrying out still further the principles of his former measures. When, in June, the secession occurred of Lord Stanley, Sir James Graham, and others from the ministry, the differences which had so long prevailed in the cabinet relative to the Irish church having at length reached their climax, Mr Poulett Thomson became President of the Board of Trade, in place of Lord Auckland, who was removed to the Admiralty. The subsequent resignation of Lord Grey in July, and the accession of Lord Melbourne to the post of prime minister, made no further change in his position.

The autumn of 1834 was passed by him in the north of England, where he was for several weeks laid up by an attack of gout, which had by this time taken a very firm hold of his system. He was now rarely free from a fit for more than six months together.

In November occurred the dismissal of Lord Melbourne's ininistry, and soon afterwards the formation of Sir Robert Peel's short-lived ministry. On the dissolution of parliament at the close of the year, Mr Poulett Thomson, then of course out of office, went down to Manchester, and was re-elected by a large majority.

Previous to the meeting of the new parliament, Mr Poulett Thomson took a very active part in preparing for the contest

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