« הקודםהמשך »
tal, and the question presents itself to him, What are the laws on which at present the trade of foreign ships with our colonies is dependent?
It is commonly acknowledged to be for the benefit of trade, that the laws affecting it should be simple and certain. This merit, at least, belonged even to the old Navigation Act, whatever were its faults in other respects. The more liberal policy of the present day is very superior as a policy: the theory is much finer; boldly carried out, and acted upon steadily by master-spirits, it might help to make those spirits the masters of the world. But generosity should in all cases be supported by courage, courage by firmness. There is a limbo which lies between the adoption of great schemes and the fulfilment of them, in which resolution is apt to halt and be enchained.
All the inhabitants of the British empire who have ever given a thought to such matters, have at least a vague understanding that the old system, which rigorously excluded foreigners from trade with our colonies, is at an end ; but if the question should be asked, What are the laws which have been substituted ? how many would be found between the Ganges and Lake Erie who could answer it without investigation ?
It was enacted by the 12 Car. II. c. 18, s. 1, that “No goods or commodities whatsoever should be imported “into, or exported out of, any territories belonging to the “ Crown, or in its possession, in Asia, Africa, or America, in any
other vessels but such as belong to the people of England, Ireland, Wales, or Berwick-upon-Tweed, or are of the build of and belonging to the said territories,
the proprietors and right owners thereof, and whereof " the master and three-fourths of the mariners at least are “ English.”
Considerable relaxations of this rigorous law had taken place in the preceding century, when in 1825 a great advance was made towards the abolition of it; but, at
last, in 1833, by the 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 59, the trade of foreigners with the British colonies was placed upon its present footing.
Forty-one ports in the British possessions in America are enumerated in that act as free ports, and the Crown, by Order in Council, may augment the number of these ports, or appoint other ports for limited purposes.
Except through such ports, there cannot be any trade by sea between any of the British possessions in America and any other part of the world but the United Kingdom, or some other of the British possessions in America.
It is recited that now, “ by the law of navigation, , foreign ships are permitted to import, into any of the “ British possessions abroad, from the countries to which
they belong, goods the produce of those countries, and
to export goods from such possessions, to be carried to “ any foreign country whatever ;” but that it is expedient that such permission should be subject to certain conditions: wherefore it is laid down as a general rule, that the privilege be limited to the ships of those countries which, having colonial possessions, shall grant, the like privileges of trading with those possessions to British ships; or which, not having colonial possessions, shall place the commerce and navigation of the country, and of its possessions abroad, upon the footing of the most favoured nation.
But this general rule is reduced to the mere declaration of a principle, or to something even of less force; to a suggestion; by the provision which follows, whereby the Crown is empowered, by Order in Council, to grant the privilege to any foreign country, whether it complies with the conditions or not: and it is provided, that no country whatever shall be deemed to be entitled to the privilege, until it shall be declared to be so by Order in Council.
All laws in the British possessions in America which may be repugnant to the act, are declared void.
And the Crown is empowered to make, by Order in Council, such regulations touching the trade and commerce to and from any British possessions on or near the Continent of Europe, or within the Mediterranean Sea, or in Africa, or within the limits of the East India Company's charter (excepting the possessions of the said Company), as shall appear most expedient and salutary.
It is evident from these enactments, that all laws, properly so called, relating to the trade of foreign ships with the British colonies are substantially abrogated, and that nothing is substituted for them but a power whereby the Ministers of the Crown, for the time being, by Orders of Council, may make what regulations they think best, and change them as often as they please.
The question then again results, Where or how is any subject of the Crown to learn what the treaties, colonial acts, and orders in council, are, whereby, as to any dependency of the empire with which he may have dealings, or to which he may desire to resort, it may be possible for him to know the laws under which he may have to live, or by which it behoves him to regulate his conduct, or to form his plans ?
The power of influencing interests so extensive, by Orders in Council, is not likely to be used for any bad purpose by the present government; but by a wicked minister might be made an effective instrument of evil.
PRINTED BY J. MOYES, CASTLK STRFET, LEICESTER SQUARE.
THE PRE AMB LE.
MONDAY, 12 NOVEMBER, 1838.
I. THE PLAN OF THE PREAMBLE, P. 193.
No. VIII. will be published on the First Monday in December.
• PRINTED BY
J. MOYES, CASTLE STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE :
JAMES BIGG AND SON, 53 PARLIAMENT STREET ;
W. H. DALTON, 23 COCKSPUR STREET;
JEFFERY AND SON, 4 PALL MALL;
RIDGWAY, 169 PICCADILLY.