Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page




MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S I UNAUTHORISED PROGRAMME. OLD RAGS AND WORN-OUT PANS. TRADE AND EMPIRE IN DANGER. WHEN Mr. Chamberlain re-stated his case at Birmingham on May 12th, he gave us no new light upon his proposals of Preference and Protection. Beyond the fact that he now describes them as his second "miauthorised programme there was scarcely a fresh sen- tence in the speech. To adopt his own phrase we had nothing but we had nothing but "the waving of old flags and the clatter- ing of worn-out pans." The speech at Birmingham was the same old cry: Your Empire and Trade is in danger. Ancient Preference. MR. CHAMBERLAIN sometimes speaks as though he imagined that the idea of Prefer- ence for Colonial produce was something entirely new. If he entertains any hope of securing the patent rights for that proposal, a study of the records will quickly shew him that the plan was tried in the first half of last century and abandoned as useless. If we take the figures of exports to British Colonies before and after those Colonies enjoyed preferential treatment in our markets, we shall find some interesting results: BRITISH EXPORTS TO COLONIES UNDER PREFERENTIAL TARIFFS. £ £ 1839 16,345,769 1844 16,712,712 1840 17,458,307 1845 17,077,060 1841 15,003,425 1816 L6,165,315 1842 13,473,064 1847 15,147,679 1843 15,228,834 1843 13,035,543 It will be seen that during the time we were giving a preference to the Colonies our trade was small and unsteady; it fluctuated back- ward and forward in a most unsatisfactory manner. Now let us consider the figures after preference was abandoned. For brevity we will give the average for each five years: BRITISH EXPOBTS TO COLONIES UNDER FREE TRADE. £ £ 1859 37,000,000 1800-4 78,000,000 1860-4 46,000,000 1895-9 81,000,000 1865-9 50,000,000 1900 94,000,000 1870-4 60.000.000 1901 104,000,000 1875-9 67,000,000 1902 109,000,000 1880-4 81,000.000 1903 111,000,000 r 1885-9 79,000,000 These figures are eminently satisfactory. If we turn to our imports from the Colonies we find the same steady upward progress. In spite of the fact that the Colonies have now no preference in the British market, and have to enter upon the same terms as foreign nations, still our Colonies have been more than able to hold their own. IMPORTS FROM THE COLONIES TO GREAT BRITAIN. i2 1855-9 40,000,000 1890-4 96,000,000 1860 4 68,000,000 1895-9 98,000,0:0 1865 9 68,000,000 1900 109,000,000 1870-4 76,000,000 1901 105,000,()00 1875-9 83,000,000 1902 106,000,000 1880-4 96,000,000 1903 113,000,000 1885-9 87,000,000 We can, then, safely say that the abandon- ment of preference to the Colonies by Great Britain has certainly not brought any evil effect upon British or Colonial trade. Modern Preference. MR. CHAMBERLAIN imagines that preference to-day will accomplish something that it did not secure fifty years ago. He also wishes us to believe that the Colonies are giving a real preference to British trade and that they are prepared to extend that preference but only on condition that we are ready to do the same and to do it at once. Says Mr. Chamberlain: Believe me, now is the appointed hour. Those rising peoples--still comparatively in their infancy, but making progress which in a few brief years will place them immeasurably beyond their present position—those rising generations cannot wait, they have their destinies to control. They have their paths of progress to mark out. Do you think they will wait for ever on the out- skirts of your indisposition? No, grasp the occasion while it arises, or it will for ever slip from your fingers. Now before we grasp anything let us be sure it will not sting us. Let us know what we are grasping. We are asked to abandon cur present Fiscal policy in order to give a prefer- ence to the Colonies, not merely for the sake of the Empire, but also for the sake of our trade! If Mr. Chamberlain will drop the idea of benefiting British trade by his scheme, it would greatly simplify matters, and we could then look at his proposals purely from the patriotic point of view. But as he will insist upon parading his proposals as tire only means of improving British trade we are bound to judge them from a purely commercial stand- point. Business Questions. Brushing aside all Mr. Chamberlain's high- sounding words, business men will want an answer to this question Has the preference given by the Colonies increased' British trade to a larger extent than foreign trade ? The figures give the reply. Here are the values of British and American exports to Canada: Year. Total. British. American. £ £ £ 1897 21.323,000 5,880,000 11,404,000 1898 25,261,000 6,406,000 14,800,000 1899 29,870,000 7,386,000 17,700,000 ]900 34,501,000 8,856,000 20,416,000 1901 35,500,000 8,563,000 21,420,000 1902 39,296,000 9,804.000 22,950,000 1903 44,962,000 11,758,000 25,758,000 These figures show that the preference given to British trade by Canada is not, in practice, equal to that given to the United States of America. The second question business men" will want answered is: "Will the promised preference increase British trade more than foreign trade ? The reply to that question is that so far as we have been able to discover no promise of further preference has ever been made by anybody on behalf of the Colonies, except by Mr. Chamberlain himself! Now Mr. Chamberlain may be a very- great man, but he has no mandate to speak for the Colonies; that being the case, would any business man speculate a brass button upon any political promise Mr. Chamberlain might make P The only preference the Colonies could give which would be worth while to con- sider would be an equal market for British manufactures, but this the Colonial manufac- turers have refused to give. They are quite willing to give us a sort of preference, that is, they are prepared to increase their 'duties against foreign goods. But they will not accept any alteration of their tariffs which does not give an adequate protection for their own industries against those of Great Britain. It is for such a flimsy advantage that Mr. Chamberlain asks us to tax our food and endanger our foreign trade.