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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52

Free Trade v. Protection, — Alias "Reciprocity," alias "Fair Trade."

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Free Trade v. Protection,

Alias "Reciprocity," alias "Fair Trade."

Facts are Better than Arguments.

How do they Decide the Question?

The Following Facts Answer.

Buckle crest of the Cobden Club

British Produce and Manufactures Exported.

Under Protection.
Year. Total Value. Per head of Population.
£ £ s. d.
1815 51,603,000
1821 36,659,000 1 14 7
1831 37,164,000 1 10 7
1835 47,372,000*
1842 47,284,000 1 15 0
Under Free Trade.
Year. Total Value. Per head of Population.
£ £ s. d.
1846 57,786,000 2 1 3
1856 115,826,000 4 2 10
1866 188,917,000 6 5 7
1876 200,639,000 6 1 3
1884 232,927,000 6 9 6

The highest value ever exported was in 1872, one of three remarkably prosperous years, when it reached £256,257,000; but much of the increase was owing to inflated prices. For example, in 1872 we exported 3,537 million yards of Cotton Piece Goods, value £58,931,000; in 1884 we exported 4,417 million yards, value £51,661,000. Our Iron and Steel Exports in 1872 were 3,382,000 tons, value £35,996,000; and in 1884 they were 3,496,000 tons, value £24,487,000.

Analysis of Imports and Exports for 1884.

Imports. Exports of British Produce and Manufactures.
£ £
Living Animals, Food, Spirits, Wine, Tobacco, Seeds and Oil Cake 172,104,684 11,076,558
Raw Materials, and other Materials of Manufacture, including Cotton, Wool, Ores, Hides, Skins, Coal, &c. 146,489,696 13,469,551
Leather 5,411,253 2,016,136
Cotton, Linen, Jute, Silk, Woollen, and other Textile Manufactures, including Yarns 21,813,819 109,814,281
Metals, in various stages of Manufacture 14,773,281 37,162,152
Steam Engines, Machinery, Tools, Hardware, and Cutlery (Import trifling, not stated separately) 13,051,028
Alkali, Chemicals, and Drugs 2,362,093 7,839,516
Other Manufactured Articles 23,337,202 38,168,353
Miscellaneous Articles 3,482,521
Total Exports British Produce and Manufactures £232,927,575
Exports of Foreign and Colonial Produce £62,443,715
Total Real Value of Imports and Exports £389,774,549 £295,371,290
Gold and Silver Bullion, and Specie 20,321,853 21,999,222
Total £410,096,402 £317,370,512
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Of the Importations of Textile Fabrics, Silk, formerly the most protected of British Industries, accounts for £10,976,836; Cotton, the freest from Protection, for only £2,23o,800. Of the whole £389,774,000 of Imports, £318,594,000 consisted of Food, Drink, Tobacco, and materials of manufacture, while the Exports of British Produce are mainly Manufactures.

British Shipping under Protection and under Free Trade.

Total Tonnage belonging to the United Kingdom.
Under Protection. Under Free Trade.
Tons. Tons.
1816 2,504,000 1845 3,123,000
1845 3,123,000 1880 6,574,000
Increase, 619,000 Increase, 3,451,000
Total Tonnage entered and cleared with Cargoes.
Under Protection. Under Free Trade.
Tons. Tons.
1845. 1884.
British 6,617,000 British 40,156,000
Foreign 2,715,000 Foreign 13,814,000
Total, 9,332,000 Total, 53,970,000

It was prophesied that the repeal of the Navigation Laws would ruin British Shipping, but it still maintains its supremacy.

Consumption of Articles of Imported Food per Head of the Population

Under Protection, 1840.
Bacon & Hams, a small fraction of 1 lb.
Butter 1 lb.
Cheese nearly 1 lb.
Wheat and Wheat Flour 42½ lbs.
Eggs 3½ in number.
Rice nearly 1 lb.
Sugar, raw 15 lbs.
Tea nearly 1½ lb.
Under Free Trade, 1883.
Bacon and Hams nearly 11 lbs.
Butter above 7 lbs.
Cheese above 5½ lbs.
Wheat and Wheat Flour nearly 251 lbs.
Eggs above 26 in number.
Rice nearly 12½ lbs.
Sugar, raw nearly 62 lbs.
Tea above 4½ lbs.
Protection Prices, 1841.
Tea 5s. per lb.
Coffee 2s. lb.
Sugar 9d. lb.
Free Trade Prices, 1884.
Tea 2s. per lb.
Coffee 1s. lb.
Sugar 2d. lb.
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To proceed to the consideration of the price of the staff of life—Bread.—Under Protection, the best wheaten Loaf of 4 lbs. frequently stood at One Shilling, and sometimes higher. Under Free Trade it has rarely exceeded Eightpence; for a long time it was Sixpence, and is now Fivepence-halfpenny. Nor was this the worst feature of the case. By the operation of the Corn Laws the consumption of Foreign Corn was prohibited, except at famine prices. In 1845, the year of the Irish Famine, there were imported, to meet the failure of the harvest and the potato crop, only 4,723,000 cwts. of wheat and wheat flour. In 1884 our imports of the same articles were 62,217,516 cwts.

What would have been the Price of Bread and the state of the Nation during the recent deficient harvests if the Corn Laws had not been Repealed?

The present high price of butchers' meat, which seems to be an exception to the favourable results of Free Trade, really proves—first, that the consumption and the ability to purchase are both greater than under Protection; and, secondly, that were it not for the free import of foreign provisions and cattle we should at this moment be labouring under a dearth of animal food. Up to the year 1842 the importation of live Animals and of dead Meat was prohibited, except Bacon and Hams, and Salt Beef and Pork, upon which heavy Protective duties were imposed, and of which we imported in 1840 to the value of £132,537. In 1884 we imported live and dead Meat to the value of £25,514,929.

Social and Economic Results of Free Trade.

The number of paupers relieved in England and Wales on the 1st January, 1849, the first year of the present statistics, was 934,419, the population being 17,564,000; on the 1st January, 1884, the number of paupers was 774,310, and the population 26,951,000. In 1849 the proportion relieved to population was 1 in 18; in 1884 it was 1 in 34.

The amount expended in poor relief per head of the population was the same in 1883 as in 1845, viz., 6s., a fact largely attributable to increased humanity in the treatment of the poor, but the rateable value of the property assessed to the Poor Rate increased from £62,540,000 in 1841 to £141,407,686 in 1883.

The Total Capital of the Savings' Banks was £24,474,000 in 1841; it was £86,756,000 in 1884.

The Total Traffic Receipts of Railways were £4,535,000 in 1843, and £71,062,000 in 1883.

The Total Assessment of Income Tax in Great Britain in 1842 was £251,000,000; in 1882 it was £565,251,000.

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The Balance of Trade, and How it is Paid.

It is said we are draining ourselves of gold to pay for the excess of Imports. What are the facts?

The account of Imports and Exports on the first page shows an excess of the former over the latter of £94,403,259, but the Exports of Bullion and Specie only show an excess over Imports of £1,677,369, or seventeen farthings in the pound. It may be said that a single year is no test, but the case of the Fair Traders is not strengthened by taking a series of years. The following are the figures for the previous ten years:—
Imports of Commodities, 1874 to 1883 £3,893,522,521
Exports of Commodities, 1874 to 1883 2,778,247,656
Excess of Imports £1,115,274,865
Imports of Gold and Silver, 1874 to 1883 £268,391,090
Exports of Gold and Silver, 1874 to 1883 £253,811,085
Excess of Imports of Bullion and Specie £14,580,005

From which it would appear, according to the Protectionist theory, that the foreigner had paid us £14,000,000 in Bullion and Specie to take £1,115,000,000 worth of goods off his hands.

The apparent mystery is very easily solved. Free Trade has given England the lion's share of the carrying trade of the world, and of Marine Insurance. Our merchants do not work for nothing, and English capital is largely invested abroad. Hence we receive yearly payments from abroad. For fuller details see "The Reciprocity Craze," by Mr. G. W. Medley, which contains the following estimate of these payments:—
Received for Ocean Carrying Trade £45,000,000
Received for Marine Insurance 3,500,000
Received for Interest upon Capital 5,000,000
Received for Merchants' Profits 17,500,000
Received for Interest on Foreign Investments 55,000,000

Such are the Facts of Free Trade.

Can there be any Doubt as to Upholding Our Present Commercial System?

Resolve, then, to

Reject the Fallacies of "Protection," "Reciprocity," or "Fair Trade,"

Or by whatever other Name the Delusion may be called.

John Noble.

Messrs. Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage Yard, London, E.C., supply this Leaflet in packets of 100, price 2s.

* This increase was caused by fiscal reforms; duties upon more than 700 articles being reduced and modified between 1831 and 1834