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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Internal Trade

Internal Trade.

I have often thought that the British race devotes too much attention to import and export trade, and too little to internal trade. Certain it is that the United Kingdom is now much more dependent on its foreign trade than it was before the introduction of railways. These, by concentrating population in a few great cities, by destroying numerous markets in small towns and villages, by decreasing the population of many of these, and preventing the growth of others, and thus doing away with many small trading centres, have seriously injured the development of internal trade. Great as this evil is in the United Kingdom it is greater still in the colonies, where everything is sacrificed to the export trade. The great Chinese statesmen were right when they said that a nation ought to be able to live and prosper within itself, and without any import or export trade at all. I am not arguing against import or export trade, but I do think we have placed too much dependence upon it.

There is probably no branch of trade that finds so much employment for the people as transit traffic. Imagine what would be the effect if three passengers were to arrive and depart at every platform in the colony for everyone that arrives or departs now. Should we not have to build more cabs, omni-busses, tramcars, handcarts, etc. What would be the effect on the demand for horses, for feed and harness for the horses, for page 33 men to drive and take charge of them; how the boarding-houses, inns, and restaurants would be filled up; how, in short, a general impulse would be given to trade in all directions.