- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 12 Oct 1910, p. 50-56
- Lawrence, Sir Joseph, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Delivered in reply to certain speeches by Sir Alfred Mond, Bart., M.P.
Comments with regard to Sir Alfred Mond's mission to Canada. A review of Sir Mond's comments. The speaker's belief about Sir Mond's purpose with regard to electioneering. The spirit of Cobdenism. What Cobden said about Canada in 1842 and 1865. The speaker's opinion that it is for the interest of both the Canadians and the English that "we should as speedily as possible sever the political thread by which we are as communities connected, and leave the individuals on both sides to cultivate the relations of commerce and friendly intercourse, as with other nations." A word or two as to the misrepresentation of principles of the tariff reformers by Sir Alfred Mond. An explanation of the policy of the tariff reformers in Mr. Chamberlain's own words. Free imports, or free trade as a ghastly failure. Cobden predictions which did not come true. England's situation with regard to industry. Some false statements and the speaker's response to them. Figures with regard to exports, cotton, shipping, and capital. The policy of the tariff reformers to find out that which will best bind the Colonies closer and closer together into one family; a policy calculated to bring blessing upon all those countries that embrace it. The desire to have within our Empire the principles of commercial exchange, to the benefit of each respective part of that Empire.
- Date of Original
- 12 Oct 1910
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- A TARIFF REFORM POLICY FOR ENGLAND.
An Address by Sir Joseph Lawrence, ex-member of the British House of Commons, delivered in reply to certain speeches 'by Sir Alfred Mond, Bart., M.P., before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, Oct. 12, 1910. Mr. President and Gentlemen
Let me say briefly and at short notice that Sir Alfred Mond's mission to Canada appears to be part of an organized crusade, the characteristic of which is political disingenuousness -towards the people of Canada. He has revelled in an orgie of misrepresentation and abuse of the persons and principles of the Tariff Reform Party in England, with a view to its reflex action on the impending general election in England. He has misapplied statistics in the most colossally grotesque way to prove our prosperity under free imports. I wish to say to you, gentlemen, that every material statement made by Sir A. Mond is capable of a crushing rejoinder. I will endeavour to make good these propositions.
Disingenuous, for whilst apparently guarding himself against interference in your fiscal discussions, he has not hesitated to commend to you as worthy of adoption the example of Gladstone in remitting hundreds of duties. He has taken sides with the Western farmers of Canada, and he does it at a time when you ought to be left free and uninfluenced and unprejudiced, in view of your impending negotiations with the United States. I do not want to make the same mistake and be guilty of the insolence and impertinence of commending a policy to you in your dealings with the United States and other countries.
The purpose is obvious. It is that the results may he telegraphed back to England showing how much in sympathy you are with Liberal ideas of free trade, or rather free imports, in order to thwart our policy of Colonial preference in both hemispheres.
The speeches of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as I told him on Sunday, have been exploited in England to make it appear that Canadians are in sympathy with free trade. We say that free imports, or free trade as it is called, is a ghastly failure. It is really only a one-sided arrangement of free imports, but experience has proven it to be an absolute failure. There is not a single material prophecy made by Richard Cobden which has not been denied by facts. Cobden predicted that within five years all the nations of the earth would adopt free trade, but not a single nation has done so. He also prophesied that agriculture would prosper, but instead it has been practically ruined in Great Britain, millions of acres having gone out of cultivation and millions of inhabitants having emigrated. I make these statements, gentlemen, openly so that Sir Alfred Mond may have an opportunity of answering them.
To use Bismarck's phrase, we are bleeding to death so far as industry is concerned. We are being undersold and undercut by foreign' manufacturers. These statements are borne out by facts and figures. Take the iron and steel industry as an example. Several works have closed and others are languishing. England was once on top in this trade, but at present she is not even a good third, and today we are importing ingots from Belgium and Germany for making tin plates and galvanized iron. Our industries are declining one after another. If you allow your productive industries to decline any nation is bound to decay sooner or later.
Incidentally, let me say that Sir Alfred Mond did not dare deliver his pre-historic speeches before the Chamber of Commerce in London last March, where there were those prepared to answer him and disprove every point he attempted to make. What in the name of common sense is the use of telling us what statesmen said and did 60, 70, 90, or 100 years ago? We are living in the present, and as Mr. Chamberlain himself says, "The whale case for tariff reform is that new conditions require new remedies." And Cobden himself said it was the duty of statesmen from time to time to re-adjust their policies to meet changed condition.
Now, gentlemen, Sir Alfred tells us that the landed interests are the chief supporters of tariff reform. This again is a false statement. Our strongest supporters come from the middle classes and the manufacturers and leading Liberals and Nonconformists, like Sir Algeron Firth, who are coming over to tariff reform, and, besides, we have the best of the rank and file of the working class with us. Instead of the landed interests being our supporters, the Tariff Reform League resisted the demands of the landed and agricultural interests for the imposition of a duty of a shilling per quarter on Colonial wheat. We stuck right to the programme as outlined by Mr. Chamberlain, viz., nothing on Colonial wheat, which should enter Great Britain free, and two shillings per quarter on foreign wheat. We would have no truck with anybody who would attempt to whittle away the cornerstone of Chamberlain's policy-that Colonial wheat should come into England absolutely free of duty. That is one of the false statements I repel.
Take another question, that of increase in exports and imports. Because these show an increase, it does not follow that things in general in the country are flourishing-you must take into consideration the fact that owing to increased influx of gold, values show a greater increase than quantities. Industries, however, are not making the same profit.
Let us use another illustration-that of steel rails. We used to have the world open to us. today the rail syndicate will not permit England to ship rails to the Argentine Republic, and several other places, and in return keep out of England and India, etc., and should England wish to ship to an old customer, say in the Argentine, the profit made on that shipment has to be paid into the pool, or else allow an equal number of rails to be sold in England or India.
Men like Sir Alfred Mond talk about the great value of our exports, but do not tell you that the exports of Germany, United States and other protected countries are increasing the amount of their exports in pounds, shillings and pence a great deal faster than we are. Where England advanced £143,000,000, or 64 percent, Germany advanced £162,000,000, or 121 percent, and the United States, 1210,000,000, of 122 percent. France is creeping up, and Belgium is a very good fifth. This is not the progress that Cobden prophesied.
The same thing applies to cotton. We have increased £11,000,000, other countries have increased £20,000,000 in the consumption of cotton alone.
I could give you figures about shipping. Sir Wm. Lyne, at the last British Conference, stated that twenty years ago you would never see a foreign flag in Sydney Harbour, while today you almost look in vain for a British flag there. We are letting our coast-wise shipping trade get into the hands of foreigners.
Now with regard to capital, £480,000,000 sterling has gone into the Argentine from England that should have found its way to the Colonies. It is going out at least four or five times as fast as it did for a corresponding period, previously, under the Conservative Government. That money is drawn off by foreign interests in London, whereas it should have come to Canada, to the Cape, or other British Colonies where needed. They ask the question, point to any industry in Great Britain needing this capital. I should like to tell you of some of the industries that are being handicapped for want of this very capital. The Government wanted to buy out the Irish landlords, and required £56,000,000 sterling for this purpose. There was a time ten years ago when the Government could have raised £100,000,000 in 48 hours, but in this instance we had to take it in installments of £5,000,000 per year, and the Government were compelled to secure it on more onerous terms.
Now, Sir Alfred Mond calls us Jeremiahs, Mr. Chamberlain's Jeremiahs, and "Calamity Howlers," but we never yet have rejoiced over the state of destitution or lack of employment in our country. We have deplored it, but we are not to blame. We have had a warning--a serious warning--but you cannot blame us any more than you blame a dog for barking when his master's house is on fire. (Laughter.) This destitution has been put upon us, but I say we have never gloated over it, we deplore it and seek a remedy. Our policy is to find out that which will best bind the Colonies closer and closer together into one family, whom we want to think of, and feel are our sister nations. (Loud applause.) As Mr. Chamberlain nuts it, "All for each and each for all." This policy is one calculated to bring blessing upon all those countries that embrace it. It will strengthen us and render us strong to resist aggression from without, and promote all our interests within the Empire. England is capable of exerting a great influence for the Colonies. She can afford a market for the natural products of this almost illimitable continent, and can afford to keep within the Empire much which is sought to be diverted to other countries. We want to have within our Empire the principles of commercial exchange, to the benefit of each respective part of that Empire. We believe this is a grand, ennobling ideal-that is the policy of Mr. Chamberlain's party. We will adhere to our policy whether it takes one year, two years, or ten years. We will not slacken our hands till this great policy reigns triumphant throughout the British Empire. (Prolonged applause.)