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ferent kinds of timber therein enumerated, were allowed to be imported duty free, when, in the course of 1806, the injurious consequences resulting from such a system being represented to government, the policy of taking off the duties on masts, spars, and bowsprits, imported from thence; to which they had become liable after the 24th June, 1781, under the 12th Chas. 2. c. 4. and subsequent acts, was suggested; and in order to promote the trade, which had been thus nearly lost, it was proposed that the former bounties should be revived, and allowed on the importation into Great Britain and Ireland, and the British West India islands, of all kinds of timber, the growth and produce of the British colonies in America imported in British bottoms.
This suggestion was partially adopted, and by an act passed on the 21st July, 1806*, during the late ministry, it was made lawful to import into Great Britain and Ireland in British or Irish vessels, navigated according to law, masts, yards, and bowsprits, (which were excepted in the lumber acts), or timber fit for naval purposes, the growth or produce of the British provinces in America, free of duty, but this act is limited, and expires on the 1st of January, 1809, three years before the expiration of the 8th Geo. 1. c. 12. s. 2. which is continued to the 29th Sept. 1812, so that at present all kinds of timber may be imported from the King's colonies duty free.
It is to be regretted the proposition to revive the bounties formerly granted on the importation of timber from the colonies had not been acceded to: for, surely, it is more politic to take from our own dependencies those articles required for general consumption than to purchase them of foreign countries; and if that cannot be done with so much cheapness, it is certainly consistent with sound. policy to countervail the difference either by bounties on the importation from the British settlements, or by increased duties on the importation from foreign states. In another point of view, it may be said, considerations of revenue are not to be overlooked; which may, probably, have conduced to the partial and narrow system now pursued with respect to the timber trade of these provinces; yet it is presumed the advantages which the state will derive from giving full effect to this trade, by granting bounties on the importation from thence of all kinds of timber, will considerably counter
* 46th Geo. 3. ch. 116.
balance any loss of revenue from its adoption; recollecting the immense sums of money which are annually sent out of Great Britain and Ireland, to the Baltic states, for timber of various descriptions; thus fostering the naval power of of those nations, which at every period of our distress is turned against us*, whilst our exports to those countries are small, and the trade with them disadvantageous to the British Empire. A more kind and liberal policy towards the loyal colonists in America, to which they are entitled from their sufferings and losses in the cause of the mother country, cannot fail ultimately to be highly beneficial to the latter in every point of view, political and commercial.
From recent information, it appears there were at the close of last season, cargoes of timber prepared at Quebec for 100 sail of ships, for which sufficient tonnage could not be obtained; and it is the opinion of many persons well acquainted with the trade, that with common industry two voyages may be made in a year from Quebec to any part of Great Britain and Ireland, though it may be thought that the severity of the winter in that country is unfavour able, by reason of the rivers being frozen; but the reverse is the fact, for to active exertion in procuring timber, it proves a great facility, by enabling the wood-cutters to draw the timber from the woods on the snow, to the banks of rivers, from whence they are floated in the spring.
It has likewise been suggested, that it would afford sufficient encouragement to the timber trade of the British colonies, to extend the duties + imposed in Great Britain on the importation of other foreign timber, to the timber imported from the United States, and thus promote the British timber trade, whilst it gave effect to the treaties between Great Britain and other powers from whose dominions timber is brought; and which it was stipulated, in such treaties, should be put on the same footing as the most favoured nation. This discrimination in favour of the timber trade of the United States cannot, it is presumed, be justified under the present situation of the King's colonies, or consistently with the treaties with other states.
This trade, besides these and other obvious advantages, will, in future, be the means of keeping within the British dominions, a great number of the King's subjects, whose an
* Mr. Baring's examination, &c. p. 21.
+ See opposite statement A, shewing the duties imposed on timber, &c. from the United States, and from other countries, distinguishing each,
nual emigration has encreased the population of the United States to an alarming extent, a great proportion of which may be recovered, and induced to settle in the British provinces. The spirit of emigration* to the United States is known to be kept up, more on the reputation of the advantages obtained by former adventurers, than from any benefit which that country now affords. It must be apparent to every attentive traveller in passing through the United States, that the labour of America is in a great measure performed by the natives of the old countries, who, on their first emigration, might with very little trouble have been settled in the British provinces, which are the only states in North America that furnish to emigrants good lands convenient to navigation; it becomes there, fore an object of great national importance to consider of the best means to encourage persons disposed to emigrate, to give a preference to the British colonies in North America.
The circumstance of the navigation of the river St. Lawrence, being occasionally frozen over part of the year, is not so great an impediment to the trade of Canada as represented, for though it may affect lumber, the freight of which is a material consideration, yet it cannot injure the trade in flour†, which, if properly packed, is not liable to damage in a short time; besides, the trade to the West Indies from this province may, to obviate that difficulty, be so timed‡ as the trade between Canada and Great Britain, and no inconvenience or interruption can then arise.
The recent contracts entered into by different branches of the public service for white oak staves§ from Canada, and for a considerable quantity of masts, bowsprits, spars and other naval timber, will tend in some degree to revive the trade of the British provinces, which have not been so adequately encouraged by the mother country as true policy required. To induce them to engage more extensively in the cultivation of their lands, and in the timber trade and fisheries, encouragement by bounties or otherwise should be afforded them, and permanent LEGISLATIVE regulations adopted, so that they may be secured, in future, from those evils
See Earl Selkirk on Emigration.-Weld's Travels.-Eden on Maritime Rights.
+ Report of the Board of Trade in 1784
Appendix, No. 8. p. 190.