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had rapidly encreased from the commencement of the last
In 1792 the actual * value of the imports of
Great Britain were
and the exports
In 1796 the imports were
and the exports
It is, however, to be admitted, that the indulgences which were too generally granted to neutral ships, under these acts, must have occasioned some addition to the imports and exports of the kingdom, which were principally from the United States and the foreign West India islands; but the point for consideration, which arises out of this system, is whether the transit of such goods, in neutral ships, through this country to the continent, compensated for the serious mischiefs, which have resulted from the operation of the suspending statutes.
Ingenuity seems to have been exhausted in the endeavours to justify the new system and to impress on the public mind the advantages to be derived from its continuance: whilst facts the most erroneous have (it is trusted unintentionally) been stated, and adduced in its support. The only instances in which such relaxations may, consistently with true national policy and the preservation of the naval power of the country, be allowed, is in the admission of dyes, in neutral vessels direct from the enemy's country in time of war, and of such other articles which are indispensably requisite in British manufactures; and in the case of the country of an ally being in danger of being over-run by the common enemy, it may be prudent to admit the produce of it and the property of the inhabitants to be brought away, on the emergency, in ships of any neutral nation, as was recently done in the case of Portugal on Junot's approach towards the frontiers of that unhappy country.
As illustrative of the advantages pretended to have been derived under the suspending acts, when they had arrived at their full operation, a comparative statement is made of
* Appendix, No. 1. to the Examination into the Increase of the Revenue, &c. by the Right Hon. George Rose. Edit. 1806. ↑ Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 28.
the value of the exports and imports in 1792 with those
in 1801.-It is stated,
That + in 1792 the value of the imports was
goods of every kind imported
that year into Great Britain was only
From which should be deducted the value of corn imported
So that the value of imports in that year was only
In 1801 the imports are stated at Whereas the real value of all imports in 1801 into Great
Britain, including £786,000
of prize goods, amounted to £57,331,000
From which must be deducted
the value of corn imported
When in truth the real value of
the exports that year was only
This exposition of the facts advanced in support of the advantages declared to have arisen from the new system, points out, how necessary it is to be cautious in giving implicit credence to the assertions and the arguments of its advocates. Again; it is remarked, that from the preceding statement, it is evident that in the last three years of the
peace, the most flourishing period of the trade, which the commercial history of England had then to record, the amount of commerce and revenue was beyond all comparison less than the amount of three last years, even of war only distant nine years from the period of peace; and it is evident both from detail and result, that this increase at an unfavourable epoch, was greatly owing to that liberal change of policy which admitted a free trade through every conveyance by which Britain could be benefited." This reasoning, it is presumed, cannot be maintained; it evidently arises from a mistaken view of the subject: the commerce of Great Britain, as compared with it in time of peace, having greatly increased in the last war, before the system of suspension was acted upon.
From 1785 to 1790 the imports were
and the exports
From 1792 to 1796 the imports were
and the exports
And in the wars of 1742 and 1756 the trade of the country likewise increased to a very great extent, and, as before mentioned, it has generally done so in periods of war, with the exception of the American war, which is to be attributed to the peculiarly disastrous circumstances attending it.
It is also observed, " if, as Lord Sheffield professed to deem necessary to our salvation as a commercial and naval nation, Britain had rigidly adhered to the navigation system of the 17th century, the consequence would have been that we should have had much less than half the commerce and revenue to meet the arduous contest in which we were engaged t." To show how unwarranted this statement is, as applicable to the commerce of the country, it is only necessary to refer to the following comparison of foreign and British ships employed; which must convince even those persons who believe there exists a necessity of permitting, in time of war, the employment of neutral ships, in the trade of Great Britain, in breach of the navigation laws, that it is an erroneous conclusion, and cannot be maintained. It has already been stated, the revenue did not profit in the most trifling degree by the employment of neutral carriers, except in the articles to and from the countries of the
* Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 29.
The home consumption was not increased by neutral vessels being employed in the trade to neutral nations; and the statute of the 36 Geo. 3. c. 76, which extended generally the provisions of the Dutch property acts, having passed in May 1796, it could not of course have had any extensive effect, indeed it is so admitted*, until after 1799.
STATEMENT of Foreign and British Ships, which entered inwards, with their repeated voyages in the following years: viz.
The other observations in support of the new system are equally incorrect: for instance," this immense rise in our trade, and financial resources, while our shipping interest was promoted more than ever; our mercantile sailors more numerous than ever; affords the strongest proofs of the wisdom of that change of laws which accommodates itself to circumstances. Can that be unwise policy which has so much increased private and public wealth, the grand objects of political economy; and under which our chief bulwark of strength has become powerful beyond all example +?" Surely the employment of neutral ships in the trade to countries, where British ships could have gone, cannot tend to increase British ships, or British seamen, or countervail the loss of freight to the Shipping Interest: under these circumstances, it is apparent the new system has not produced those advantages which its advocates anticipated and have been so desirous to prove and establish; but on the contrary, the most serious evils have resulted from their adoption, which, in the course of these observations, it is presumed will be most clearly. shewn, although it is stated t "that the number and tonnage of British ships employed ‡ Ibid. p. 24.
* Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 27.
+ Ibid. p. 29.
since the acts in question have not been diminished, but greatly increased." It however appears, that
In 1796, the tonnage of British ships employed in the trade of Great Britain (exclusive of coasters), was
That in the succeeding year, 1797, it decreas
And in 1801, the British tonnage employed, only amounted to From which should be deducted, to make a comparison, the increase of British shipping in the trade of the British colonies and the captured islands, in the interval between 1797 and 1801; because the trade to those colonies could not have been affected by the suspending acts, which are so highly commended by the advocates of the new system, as the act of the 37th Geo. 3. c. 3. which passed in 1797 extended the privileges of British ships to those vessels which were taken, and belonged to the captured islands; and which, of course, extended considerably, during this period, the quantity of British tonnage
British tonnage employed in 1796
Decrease in the employment of British shipping, under the suspending system, between 1796 and 1801, at the close of the last war +
In answer to the complaints of the Shipping Interest in 1802, on the improvident indulgences which had been, and were continued to be granted to neutral shipping, much
* Mr. Cock's Answer, p. 24.
+ See the Parliamentary Papers for these years.