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Letter from Sir John Grorst, M.P., explaining his position with regard to the
fiscal polioy.
6th. Names of new Cabinet Ministers announced.

The resignation of the Duke of Devonshire announced.

Mr. Chamberlain, in a speech at Glasgow, explained his proposals for the
reform of our tariff system. He approved of the policy to which Mr.
Balfour proposed to give effect. He went in front of the army, and if the
army were attacked he went back to it. In the United Kingdom trade
had been practically stagnant for thirty years. Protected countries had
progressed in an infinitely better proportion than ours. The character of
our trade had also changed. We were sending less and less of our
manufactures to foreign countries, and they were sending more and more
of their manufactures to us. Our Imperial trade was absolutely essential
to our prosperity at the present time. It would decline unless we took the
necessary steps to preserve it. The speaker proceeded to show how the
erection of a tariff wall tended to foster primary industries. He thought
that if we had arranged reciprocity with America, ten or twenty years ago,
our tin-plate trade might have been left to us now. We allowed matters
to drift. Were we going to treat the colonies in the same way? They
were prepared to meet us. In return for a very moderate preference they
would give us a substantial advantage. The effect of this preference would
be that we should enjoy some twenty-six millions a year additional trade.
It was only by commercial unioii, reciprocal preference, that the foundations
of the confederation of the Empire could be laid. A tax must be put on
food. He proposed to put a low duty on foreign com, not exceeding two
shillings a quarter; a corresponding tax on flour, but maize would be free.
A tax of about 5 per cent, would be placed on foreign meat and dairy
produce. Bacon would be excluded. Colonial wines and perhaps colonial
fruits would receive a substantial preference. He also proposed some great
remissions. He would take off three-fourths of the duty on tea, and half
of the whole duty on sugar, with a corresponding reduction on cocoa and
coffee. What would be the result of these changes upon the cost of living?
Upon the assumption that the consumer paid the whole of the taxes, both
the agricultural labourer and the artisan would be half a farthing to the
better. He did not believe, however, that the consumer would pay the
whole of the tax. The loss to the Exchequer through these changes would
to £2,800,000 per annum. He proposed a duty not exceeding 10 per cent,
on the average on all foreign manufactured goods. The return from this
tax would more than cover the deficit.
7th. Mr. Chamberlain, at Greenock, said Mr. Cobden's prophecies had been
falsified. He wanted to have free interchange with aU the world. One
after another of our industries had been lost by the imposition of tariffs.
It was unfair and one-sided, and threatened most seriously the position of
every manufacturer and of every working man in this kingdom. He drew
attention to the extinction of the Greenock sugar industry, and demonstrated
how ineffectual was the transfer of labour doctrine when tested by practical
results. Free imports destroyed agriculture. He did not believe in a
war of tariffs, but if there were to be a war of tariffs, he knew they wonld
not come out second best. We had something that no other country had
— a great reserve in the sons of Britain across the seas.

Sir John Grorst, M.P., spoke at Woolwich on the advantages of free imports.
8th. Mr. Asquith, M.P., spoke at Cinderford. The Liberals — ^the free traders —
opposed retaliation as a policy. They thought that experience showed that
in practice it was fatal as a weapon of offence. Mr. Chamberlain was
haunted by two spectres — the approaching decay of British trade, and the
possible break up of the British Empire. He began by ignoring the home
trade. It was a perfectly absurd criterion to measure the extent or
profitableness of foreign trade by looking, as Mr. Chamberlain did, to
exports alone. Our shipping under free trade had most continuously and
most prosperously increased. Free traders did not believe it was desirable
to have a self-contained Empire. Protection was an inclined plane.
When once your foot was on it there was no halting until you got to the

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POLITICAL DIARY, 1902-03. 345


bottom. If a tax were imposed on foreign food, and not on foreign raw
materials, the scheme of preference would be lopsided, partial, and

Mr. Walter Long, M.P., spoke at the Cutlers' Feast at Sheffield.

Mr. Chamberlain addressed a deputation of welcome at Cupar, Fife.
9th. Bye-election.— Meath (South Division) : Sheehy (United Irish League), 2,245 ;
Parnell (Independent), 1,031.

Mr. Ritchie, M.P., speaking at Croydon, paid a tribute to his late colleagues.
They had been actuated by the highest motives. It had been his duty as
Chancellor of the Exchequer to insist upon having full examination into any
proposals for the reversal of the fiscal system. As regards the withdrawal
of the shilling com tax, it was proposed to keep it on and to give a
preference to the colonies. He was most determinedly opposed to any such
proposal. He knew that if that policy were adopted it was only the
commencement of a larger scheme. He believed that Mr. Chamberlain's
proposal, instead of uniting the Empire, would have the opposite effect.
He would be no party to subjecting the bread and meat of the people
to taxation. In conclusion, Mr. Ritchie referred to the circumstances
attending his resigiiation.

Lord Spencer, addressing a meeting of the Eighty Club, said that they had
to concentrate their thoughts on the great subject that was before them.
The country was tired of the vacillation, the recklessness, and want of fore-
sight of the Government, whose policy they must unite to defeat.

Letter from Lord James of Hereford, declining to subscribe to the funds of a
Unionist club until he had been informed of the political action of the
club in relation to the fiscal policy.
12th. Further Ministerial appointments announced.

Sir H. Fowler, M.P., speaking at Glasgow, said the free trade party did not
shrink from, nor were they afraid of, any amount of inquiry. They were
free traders because they believed it to be the best for the interests of the
nation. Bread should be absolutely free. He appealed to the Liberal
party to discharge their duties with perseverance and zeal, and again secure
the approval and confidence of the nation and Empire.

Mr. Bryce, M.P., spoke at Tunbridge Wells against any change in the fiscal

Letter from Mr. Winston Churchill, M.P. He was "bluntly and flatly against
the policy " described by Mr. Chamberlain, but perfectly willing to accept
provisionally Mr. Balfour's principle of negotiation.
13th. Lord Rosebery, speaking at Sheffield, said he did believe in the policy of
retaliation. There was nothing now to prevent that policy being carried
out. He passed on to speak of Mr. Chamberlain's proposals. In them he
saw worse relations with foreign countries, and the prospect was not an
allurement to him. Free trade had been an abundant success. There
would be no finality in the duties under this new policy. He would fight
hostile tariffs by better education. He would like to see these questions
threshed out by business men. It was absolutely a baseless assumption
that the Empire could or required to be held together by preferential
tariffs. Under the present system, the Empire had developed both in
loyalty and in prosperity. Where was the offer which Mr. Chamberlain
said the colonies had made? Food could not be taxed, for it was the raw
material of the race. He would not exchange the open air of free trade
for the hot house of protection.

Letter from Mr. Samuel Storey, detailing the circumstances which induced
him to favour a change in our fiscal system. Letter from Mr. Ritchie,
M.P., giving his reasons for insisting on the repeal of the registration duty
on corn.
14th. Lord Rosebery, speaking at a luncheon at Sheffield, said, with reference to the
hope that had been expressed that he would see fit to abandon his
"lonely furrow," he was the best judge of the course that ought to be
15th. Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, M.P., spoke at Bolton. Mr. Chamberlain's
assertion that the unity of the Empire could not be maintained under
our present system of trade was a record of the depth to which political
profligacy could fall. Our trade was not being ruinea. It had vigour and
elasticity instead of the decadence imputed to it. The policy of retaliation
was a makeshift; it was the road to protection. As regards the Liberal
policy, he placed economy first. The present educational system was pro-
tection in the interests of priestcraft. One of the duties of the Liberal
party would be to recreate a really national system under full public con-
trol. The taxation of land values, legislation with reference to licensing
reform and trade unions would have a place in the programme.

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346 POLITICAL DIAEY, 1902-08.


Appeal from the Free Church Council for funds for carrying ou an active
propaganda in view of a general election. Letter from Lord James of
Hereford on the position of fche Liberal Unionist party.
16th. Lord Goschen spoke on food prices at the Passmore Edwards settlement in
Tavistock Place. We were dependent for nearly four-fifths of the supply
of our foodstuffs upon over-sea supply. Our price of wheat wa# infinitely
below that of Germany or France. Public opinion was tending in the direc-
tion of expecting that the proposed 28. tax on wheat would be paid by the
consumer. This tax, with a taxation imposed upon meat and dairy produce,
was not compensated for by the taxation which was to be taken off.

Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, M.P., at Bolton, received a deputation of
Liberals with reference to the Education Act. It would be, he said, a
great dereliction of duty if the Liberals did not at the earliest moment
take in hand this work of redressing grievances so flagrant and injurious.

Mr. Asquith, M.P., speaking in Fife, said that retaliation was an official
subterfuge. The excess of imports over exports was a measure of the
profitableness of the goods we made and the services we rendered in the
course of international trading. Retaliation was, for practical piirposes,
absolutely useless and futile. There were no other means by which the
comfort of the people and the prosperity of their commerce could be
maintained than by securing the freest and fullest possible influx of food
and raw materials into these islands.

Letter from Mr. Ritchie, on the Cabinet of September 14th.
17th. Mr. Asquith, M.P., in a speech at Fife, said everybody was suffering from the
disease of fiscalitis. No man could devise a scheme by which the products
of every part of the Empire had an equal preference in the market at

Letter from the Duke of Devonshire to Sir Michael Hicks Beach, M.P., on
the Unionist Free Food League.
19th. Mr. John Morley, M.P., speaking at Manchester, said he should regret if
free traders did not come together and resist this crude, raw, unthought-
out set of proposals. No man had a truer vision of the needs of his
country than Richard Cobden. Free trade had not been a failure. "When
it was said that agriculture was destroyed, people did not know what they
were talking about. Let those who contend that the policy of 1846 was
a mistake prove that they have got a better remedy. There was no
" dumping ** so deadly as that of a Custom-house officer on their shores.
The food tax would make all the difference in the power of pucrhasing.
What would preferential tariffs do for Lancashire? Retaliation was a' very
dangerous game. All this tariff jingoism was the backwash of the war.

Manifesto from the National Liberal Federation on the political situation.

Letter from Mr. Winston Churchill on Lord Randolph Churchill's views
on protection in 1892.
SOtfa. Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Newcastle, said that he had not raised the
fiscal question as a party question. The increase of prosperity in this
country had not been due entirely to free trade. During the last thirty
years our export trade had remained practically stagnant. Our whole
prosperity was dependent on our increasing colonial trade. The colonies
proposed a system of preferential tariffs. He was not asking them to
raise the amount of taxation in this country. He would merely transfer
the taxation. This would benefit their kinsmen across the sea. In return
they would give us preference over the foreigner. A man who could not see
the difference between the state of things to-day and thirty or sixty years
ago, ought to call himself a Troglodyte and live in a cave. His opponents'
figures were largely irrelevant. In his figures he took 1902 and went back
by ten year periods to 1872. Whether he took 1892, 1882, or 1872, the
result was just the same. Quinquennial periods were even better for him.
Our exports were mainly the test of the cost of our trade. The whole of
a tax was hardly ever paid by the consumer. A shortage of our wheat
supplies was what the working man had to fear. The colonies would
increase our sources of supply. Preferential tariffs would stimulate colonial
trade. He did not believe the Empire could be kept together except upon
lines which have been adopted by other countries with success.

At a Liberal Unionist Conference, held at Newcastle, a letter was read from
the Duke of Devonshire, in which the opinion was expressed that "it would
be unwise to attempt prematurely to define the positiofi of the party
organisations in regard to fiscal policy."
21st. Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Tynemouth, said nothing would be done to com-
mit the people to his policy without their full authority. It was not
premature to raise the question. It had been raised in the eighties by
Lord Randolph Churchill, by Mr. Ritchie, and by Lord Rosebery. Canada

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POLITICAL DIARY, 1902-03. 347

OCTOBER— continued,

and South Africa had given us a preference. The Australian Premiers had
agreed to bring the matter before their Parliaments. Foreigners had
made great inroads into our markets by reason of their arcificial advan-
tages. The most important thing was, whether we could succeed with our
colonial markets. He wanted a mandate to negotiate with them. They
were with him almost to a man. His policy was to be considered as a
broad outline. It was impossible at present to deal with the case in detail.
He had two great objects in view — ^the prosperity of the home trade and
the closer union of the Empire. The policy of his opponents was to let
matters alone. That had already been done too long.
22nd. Lord George Hamilton, M.P., addressed a meeting of his constituents at
Ealing with reference to his resignation. In sending it in, he had, in all

grobability, terminated his official life. The abandonment of protection
y the Tory party had resulted in their political regeneration. It was
wholly untrue to say that Mr. Chamberlain's action was influenced by
personal or partisan motives, fie knew that so long as Mr. Chamberlain
was a member of the Government, the question of preferential tariffs
could not be eliminated from its programme. Lord Greorge went on to
detail his objections to a system of preferential tariffs. He sympathised
very much with the idea of retaliation. If the agitation went on, either
the country would be committed to protection, or the Unionist party would
be smashed to pieces. He declined to bear a hand in either catastrophe.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, M.P., speaking at Stirling, said the new
fiscal policy was the policy of 'one man The Board of Trade Blue Book
was the triumph and vindication of free trade and the condemnation of
Sir Edward Grey, M.P., addressing his constituents at Alnwick, said that on
the foundation of free trade the edifice of national prosperity had been
reared. We had great reason to pause before we adopted the policy of
other nations.
Sir John Gorst, M.P., spoke at the City of London Tradesmen's Club.
- Canadian representatives' objections to the Alaska award. Letter from Mr.
Chamberlain, M.P., on party loyalty.
23rd. Bye-elections, Warwick and Leamington — ^Right Hon. A. Lyttelton, 2,689;
Mr. J. H. Berridge, 2,499. Belfast (West)— Right Hon. H. O. Amold-
Porster, 3,912 ; Mr. P. Dempsey, 3,671.
Mr. Wyndham, M.P., addressed a public meeting of his constituents at
Dover. As a result of the inquiry into our fiscal system, it was the duty
of his Majesty's advisers to tell the country that it was for the con-
stituencies to decide at the next general election whether we should not
resume the liberty to negotiate upon tariff questions with other Powers.
That was the programme of the Government.
Mr. Haldane, M.P., spoke at Edinburgh, and Mr. Sydney Buxton, M.P.,

at Milwall Dock, on the fiscal policy.
Letter from Mr. Arthur Elliot, M.P., on Liberal Unionist Associations and
fiscal policy.
24th. Bye-election, Lancashire (West HoughtonVr-Lord Stanley, unopposed.

Mr. Brodrick, M.P., speaking at Guildford, said he was prepared to put a duty

upon imports from any foreign coimtry which refused to treat our exports

fairly. He then proceeded to defend his administration of the War Office.

Mr. Asquith, M.P., in a speech at Newcastle, said that he traversed all

Mr. Chamberlain's assumptions. Mr. Chamberlain had entirely ignored

the whole of the home trade. Retaliation was absolutely futile. Our

imports were not sent to us out of philanthropy. He exclaimed, " Hands

off ! " to Mr. Chamberlain.

Manifesto of the Unionist Free Food League published. Duke of Devonshire

elected president. The League is prepared to consider any definite plan

which the Prime Minister may submit to Parliament, but will oppose Mr.

Chamberlain's policy.

2eth. Letter from Lord Rosebery with reference to Mr. Chamberlain's quotations

from his speeches at Leeds in 1888.
27th. Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Liverpool, dealt with the question of dumping.
If the last year, 1902, was one of the best British trade had ever known,
the thanks were due to colonial, not foreign trade. The proposal he made
was a great step towards Imperial Free Trade. He pledged himself that
his proposals would not add one farthing to the cost of living. The leaders
of the free trade movement believed that the big loaf meant lower wages.
It was impossible to reconcile free trade with trade unionism. To buy in
the cheapest market was not the sole duty of man. If protected labour
was good, then it was also good to protect the results of labour. He
turned to the shipping industry. It was not progressing as fast as foreign

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348 POLITICAL DIARY, 190:!-0:J.


shipping. Bounties and subsidies were the real evils. He drew attention
to the ■" coasting " trade of foreign countries. In this matter something
should be done. There must be some way of bargaining. He and Mr.
Balfour had asked for that power, and, if necessary, of retaliation.

Mr. A. Elliot, M.P., speaking at Durham, said that no power on earth
would have induced him to join the Government if for a moment he had
thought he should be asked to support a protectionist budget or a pro-
tectionist policy.

Letter from Mr. Chamberlain.
28th. Mr. Chamberlain delivered two speeches at Liverpool. He criticised Lord
Goschen's recent speech on food taxes. The principle upon which frep-
fooders proceeded was that a tax upon food was perfectly justifiable for
revenue purposes. Mr. Gladstone was entirely opposed to this doctrine.
The policy of free trade would lead to the disruption of the Empire. He
appealed, to the working men to consider the importance of the fiscal
question to them. Their first duty was to keep firm hold of the home trade.
There was no reason why the export trade should diminish. He then dwelt
on "dumping" as it had affected the watch and glass trades.

Mr. Wyndham, M.P., speaking at Dover, took occasion to traverse many of
the arguments put forward by Mr. Asquith in defence of free trade.

Mr. Long, M.P., spoke at Trowbridge on the fiscal policy.

Letter from the Duke of Devonshire to a correspondent with reference to the
position of the Liberal Unionist party. Statement by Mr. Victor Cavendish
of his views on the fiscal policy.
29th. Mr. Akers-Douglas, M.P., spoke at Canterbury on the fiscal policy, and Sir

A. Acland-Hood, M.P., spoke at Derby.
31«t. Sir William Harcourt, M.P., speaking at Rawtenstall, said every labour leader
in the House of Commons was hostile to a policy of taxation. Dumping
could only exist under a high protection. It was not a fact that the exports
of this country were stagnant. Imports were what we want, and what we
would not take unless we wanted them. The fallacy of making the
foreigner pay would only deceive the most ignorant people. This gospel of
universal deamess of everything would not prevail.

Mr. Asquith, M.P., speaking at Paisley, said that no answer of any kind had
been made by Mr. Chamberlain to arguments which went to the very root
of his case. British trade as a whole was healthy and steadily increasing
in volume and value. If invisible exports were included, it was imtrue to
say that our export trade was declining. No trade had flourished so much
in this country under free trade as shipping. The Board of Trade statistics
denied that there had been any substantial displacement of British capital
from " dumping." The colonies showed not the slightest inclination to
respond to Mr. Chamberlain's appeal.

Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, M.P., spoke at Dunfermline.


2nd. Letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Dr. Horton on the education

3rd. Mr. John Morley, M.P., in a speech at Nottingham, said that, looking at
the fiscal proposals from a cupboard point of view, many articles would
be found to be dearer. Where, in Europe, were the working people better
off than in Great Britain, Holland, and Denmark, all of which were very
nearly free trade countries? References to America were a delusion. One
of the worst curses of protection was that it built up powerful interests.
He was not going to be led by a phantasmagoria of Empire from the funda-
mental problem — ^the well-being of employment in this country.

4th. Bye-election, Lancashire (Chorley) — Lord Balcarres, 6,226; Mr. James
Lawrence, 4,798.
Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Birmingham, said that he had an idea that
working men were not wedded to the wibdom of their ancestors. Protection
was not necessarily ruinous, nor did free trade necessarily imply prosperity.
In 1841 this country had a time of bad trade with small employment. The
free trade movement was a manufacturers' movement. It was not a working
class movement. Dear bread was not the caiise of the repeal of the Com Laws,
nor did that repeal immediately produce any reduction in the price of
bread. Conditions have changed since Mr. Cobden said that the Americans
"would dig, delve and plough for us." The continuance of our trade
depended on our colonial trade. If we gave the colonies a preference they
would reciprocate. He could not find in the speeches of the free trade
party any trace of a true appreciation of what the Empire means. The
free f coders had shown that they were not against protection, but against

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POLITICAL DIARY, 1902-03. 349

NOVEMBER— co>i^i»*M<?d.

preference to the coloniee. It was untrue to say he ignored the home trade.
It was the main object he had in view. He would give a practical illustra-
tion of the big and little loaf. Mr. Chamberlain here produced two ioa-vss
of almost the same size. They showed the exact difference if the whole
tax he proposed to put on com was met by a corresponding reduction in the
size of the loaf.
Sir Edward Grey, M.P., speaking at Gainsborough, said that the education
question and army reform were really important. He dreaded protection
because it meant certain loss and possible ruin. Protectionist figures were
Mr. John Morley, M.P., in a speech at Nottingham, said that nine times out of
ten a labour man would go into the same lobby as a Liberal. There was no
chance, he thought, of the Opposition defeating the Government on a
motion in the House of Commons.
5th. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, M.P., speaking at Manchester on the fiscal policy,
said that the ultimate issue before the country was to be found in Mr.
Chamberlain's policy. Neither free trade nor protection could secure good

Online LibraryNational Unionist Association of Conservative andThe Constitutional year book → online text (page 62 of 77)