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colonies. Accredited representatives of their interests have met in London, and with the assistance of leading Englishmen have founded an association for the promotion of the commercial interests of the British Empire, and for the preservation of its unity and integrity to draw closer the trade relations between its various component territories. This is a startling reply to those who in ignorance conceived that the colonists, the very men who, by the indubitable standard of practical success, were admittedly the best judges, made no move in the matter. That the Colonists should come to England and agitate in favour of low tariffs throughout the Empire is a most welcome sign of the increased vitality of the English race. It remains for those to whom the prosperity of their pation is matter of concern to support and recognise this wholesome movement.
The British Constitution bas, then, to be drawn upon to provide for a new development which has grown up with the growth of the Empire, and which presses on us as the inseparable accompaniment of the continued prosperity of the Empire. It needs no keen sight to see that community of material interests is crying aloud for unfettered commercial intercourse ; and we know that community of national sentiment and tradition, as well as of enterprise and industry, yet flourishes in the nation ; and that this community is the one powerful agent in any national effort. We have a national consciousness of the right end : statesmanship has to see that efficient means are adopted to give effect to this consciousness.
I must crave pardon for mentioning that the one main fact graven on my own mind after sojourning in nearly every one of our colonies is the fact that the English nation, if it remains in close commercial union, is only in the infancy of its career. All great statesmen who have understood our colonies have come to this conclusion. Earl Russell summarised the case in the strong words, .There is no greater benefit to mankind that a statesman can propose to himself than the consolidation of the British Empire.'
And great statesmen have discussed the means to this end. Lord Grey, in an article in the Nineteenth Century, has shown most amply and conclusively the great material injury that attempts at protection in our colonies have done to their own individual prosperity as well as to the commerce and industries of Great Britain. He laments with great power of reason the policy that has prevailed in late years of relinquishing the control previously exerted by the Imperial Parliament over the commercial policies of our colonies; and he would resuscitate the ancient Committee of Council for Trade and Plantations;' and, with the aid of the various Agents-General of our selfgoverning colonies, set up in England a body of such authority and influence as to justify imperial supervision of all Colonial commercial policy in the spirit of justice to all members of the Empire.
It may not be without advantage to set side by side with this yet
another scheme with similar aim. The essential principle of procedure is simple. The Imperial Parliament resumes its supreme control over the commercial as distinct from the fiscal policies of the Empire; but in so doing it takes ample cognisance of the fact that large portions of the Empire have a prescriptive constitutional voice in this rearrangement. Indeed, action should be taken on the invitation of the various self-governing colonies. There must be combination and mutual agreement, quasi-diplomatic if necessary, in favour of low tariffs throughout the Empire. And the Imperial Parliament will be charged with the task of defending and maintaining for the future this new charter of industrial prosperity. It is true the United States will not allow local tariffs even for the purpose of raising revenue; but the low tariff necessary for revenue purposes is practically but little hindrance to trade. All that is necessary is that, by the direct means of the spontaneous action of enlightened local government, and by the indirect influence of advice and information, the various communities of the British Empire may come to subscribe, each in its own degree of autonomous action, to an agreement to keep its tariff low. For this purpose one of two principles would suffice. Earl Russell suggested the one, viz., that no customs duties should exceed a certain ad valorem percentage. A second principle ould be the rule that no customs duty be levied for any purpose save that of raising revenue. Thus could be secured the inauguration of that free exchange of products between all Englishmen which, if we regard the teachings of the past, augurs a future of unprecedented prosperity.
I have reserved till the last wbat is perhaps the most important point in the whole case ; and that is the question as to the position such a commercially unified Empire is to hold to outsiders. The courses possible are practically reduced to two-the one the exclusion of outsiders, the other the non-exclusion of outsiders.
To exclude outsiders is to appeal to the selfish concurrence of one or two interests affected favourably by such action. It is not and cannot be denied that the nation as a whole must be the loser. All see there is no reason in a policy which shuts off supplies and custom other communities are willing to afford. The advocates of this policy have but one plea that is likely to obtain patient hearing. This is the plea that high duties to those outside the union are the sole means to inducing those outsiders to lower their tariffs and join the union.
It is even said that without some such national fence colonies themselves will be loth to join. I have already given the grand answer to this contention in noting the recent actions and expressions proceeding from the colonies themselves. This point is sometimes not quite grasped in high places; the feelings and acts of two only of our fifty colonies, because they chance to be feelings and acts that
run counter to the general national tendencies, are apt to assume undue prominence, and have even been regarded as typical of the acts and feelings of the whole. They are distinctly not so. All the encouragement our colonies require is the guarantee that low tariffs shall exist en permanence in all British markets.
The alternative plan, the non-exclusion of outsiders, implies a low tariff for all without exception. It is a plan which will ultimately prevail if only we pay any heed whatever to reason, experience, and expediency. A low tariff all over this vast agglomeration of English markets will supply all these markets with products at their lowest cost of production. Each English community will then batten on the fact, which has done so much to enrich England, that whatever it uses or consumes will be obtained at the lowest cost possible. This is the one main condition of profitable production. This plan prevents any portion of the nation wasting its energies on products that can be produced cheaper elsewhere.
For instance, for many years to come the colonies, if they judge aright of their real economic position, will be the natural markets for manufactures, the natural producers of raw materials. Manufactories only thrive in centres of dense population. Sparse populations, occupying vast tracts of fertile and virgin soil, if they would profit most, will produce cotton, and wool, and wheat, and minerals. Among such populations, if there is no baneful interference of high tariffs to subvert the natural order of prosperity, our home manufacturers will be assured natural and extensive markets for their wares, and reliable and inexhaustible supplies of those raw materials and food-stuffs which we are prevented producing in these islands by reason of the fact that our manufactures employ a population too dense for so utilising our limited area of soil. We have to live on and not out of our soil, because we are in the manufacturing and not the pastoral or agricultural stage. Our colonies are in these other stages, and to keep tariffs low is to enable all to profit by one another's opportunities through the medium of free exchange.
That a high tariff for outsiders is unnecessary, we see when we remember the natural expediency of a low tariff. Trade is forced, by the insuperable power of its own inherent attributes, to flow along that channel which has fewest obstructions. Interchange of products always has and always will thrive and increase most where there are fewest restrictions. To that community in which low tariffs are established, with certainty of no upward change, trade will be diverted by the damming obstructions of high tariffs elsewhere. In this we shall find the natural sanction' that low tariffs, permanently established over the British Empire, will increase the interchange of products, and in so far develope every industry and enterprise.
There will be a natural tendency to buy our wheat of Canada and not of the States when we know our manufacturers meet with no obstruction in the one case, and with every obstruction in the other. And we shall take not only wheat but watches, or lard, or any other specialty of American production for which Canadian soil or people may develope special aptitudes. And so with Australia, or India, or the Cape, we shall go to them naturally for our wool and our tea and our wine, if outward cargoes of manufactures can be sent in the ships that fetch home these goods.
With low tariffs so established over the British Empire we shall win the vast advantage of being less affected by the actions of foreign and independent countries. These actions, by the reason of their uncertainty, have been our bane in the past, and bid fair to be our bane in the future. We made treaties to obtain for ourselves wider markets and wider areas of supplies in the days when we had only foreign countries open to us. But now our own kith and kin, we ourselves, have become possessed of countries offering in the future more than the equivalent of these markets and these areas; and by the simple expedient of preventing the rise of restrictions on commercial intercourse we are likely to secure these markets and these areas, and to win for ourselves exemption from the only compelling power that of old forced us to seek to conciliate foreign powers. We can now, if we will, take our stand on our own self-sufficing independence. On this secure ground we can tell foreign nations we have no need of treaties. We are our own market and our own source of supply; and if foreign nations bar themselves by high tariffs from the great benefits of free intercourse, it concerns them indeed, but it concerns us no longer. The new British Empire affords us other avenues and other openings.
The malign influences of differential duties, elaborate treaties, bounties, reciprocity, retaliation, and even protection itself, together with all the evils incident to the interference of policies having no political, national, or economic connection with countries they deleteriously affect, will all be banished from within the frontiers of the British Empire. Their evil results will recoil on the foreigners alone, and leave the reproductive energy of our vast empire to work out its own great prosperity untrammelled and unimpeded; with that true freedom of action which consists in the power of acting independently of foreign determining causes, and which is the condition most essential to the success of that human co-operation or band-work' which has been shown to be the one main lever of human prosperity.
The action taken by the House of Lords, in throwing out every important Irish measure sent up to them during the last session, has brought into strong prominence the peculiar and exceptional constitution of that illustrious assembly. The British House of Peers stands alone in the civilised world as a Legislative Chamber composed of members sitting by hereditary right. The Bishops and a few Law Lords are indeed exceptions to the rule, being only life peers, but the so-called “representative peers’ from Scotland and Ireland represent the political majority of two bodies of hereditary nobility. Nearly all the remaining constitutional countries of Europe possess a senate, or second chamber, but beyond the United Kingdom the hereditary principle has been either entirely abandoned, or so greatly modified as to be of little importance, except perhaps in Austria-Hungary.
In Austria the Herrenhaus contains, besides princes of the Imperial family, more than fifty nobles in whose families the legislative dignity is hereditary, altogether about one-third of the total number of members. In Hungary the House of Magnates numbers about 800 members, and resembles more closely in its constitution the British House of Peers than does any other existing legislative body.
In Prussia the Herrenhaus, like that of Austria, contains a certain number of princes, and some fifty chiefs of the territorial nobility, but the number of nominated members is unlimited.
The same may be said of Bavaria, where the Chamber of Reichsräthe closely resembles the Prussian Herrenhaus.
In Würtemberg, Saxony, and Baden the hereditary principle is fully recognised; but the right of sitting in the upper chamber depends rather upon the ownership of certain hereditary estates, or baronial domains, than upon nobility of rank or blood.
Spanish grandees in their own right, who can prove themselves to be in possession of a certain annual rent, are entitled to seats in the senate of Spain, along with nominated, elective, and ex officio senators. In Portugal the hereditary peerage has been made dependent upon tbe possession of a certain annual income, together with an academical degree, and the individuals who actually sit in the chamber of peers are nominated by the sovereign for life.