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UPON THE CLAIMS OF THE OUTPORTS: WITH A LETTER FROM

THE CHAIRMAN AND DEPUTY, TO THE

EARL of BUCKINGHAMSHIRE,

TRANSMITTING THE SAID REPORT FOR HIS LORDSHIP'S

INFORMATION.

Printed erclusively, for the

PROPRIETORS OF EAST INDIA STOCK,

AND

NOW FIRST PUBLISHED BY PERMISSION,

REPORT, &c.

The President of the India Board having, in his recent letter of the 4th January, referred the Court to the petitions presented to Parliament in the course of last session, from the merchants and manufacturers connected with the Outports, for fuller information than had been then imparted to the Court, concerning the representations which had induced his Majesty's Ministers to be of opinion, that the import trade from the East Indies should not be confined to the port of London, your Committee determined on examining those petitions, as they stand recorded in the votes of the House of Commons. But, in going into this task, your Committee found, that it involved a review of all the petitions lately preferred against a renewal of the Company's charter, because the arguments in favor of the Outports were interspersed through them. The whole of those petitions have, therefore, been perused; and one remark which immediately presents itself on that perusal, -a remark intitled, in the opinion of your Committee, to particular attention,-is, that those arguments in behalf of the Outports are, in a very material degree, the arguments which are directly urged for the abolition of the whole of the Company's exclusive commercial privileges; and the claims of the Outports are contended for, as a part of the entire freedom in the eastern trade, which is demanded for all the subjects of the empire. The places, especially, which are strictly Outports, proceed in their petitions upon principles which arraign every species and degree of mono. poly; and it is chiefly from those principles that they deduce, as a consequence, the right of the Outports to a free participation in Indian imports. But as, in the deliberate and just opinion of his Majesty's Ministers, those principles and argumeuts are not valid for the main claims of the petitioners, it is to be presumed, that neither can they, in the same opinion, be valid for the subordinate claim of the Outports, so far as it is rested on the same foundations, which, however, are the foundations built on by the generality of the petitions. The few remaining arguments on this question, relate, principally, to the facility and certainty with which the revenue may be collected at the Outports, and to the safety with which the honorable inen, composing the commercial class of this country, may be admitted to all the settlements and countries of the east. But these are mere assertions of opinion, to be classed with the “untried theories” of the time, and, as far as the light of experience goes, opposed by it. If they were even proved, which they are in no degree, they would not, by any means, satisfy all the great interests abroad and at home, which are involved in the question of the Outports; and therefore your Committee are entirely at a loss to discover, how the arguments in favor of those ports, as they stand in the petitions to Parliament, resting chiefly on principles which his Majesty's Government do not admit, have so presented theinselves to the Ministers, as, in their view, “to establish a claim against an absolute restriction of the import trade to the port of London;" or how, from the ex-parte representations of those petitions, which proceed on the demand of an entire liberty of trade to India and China, a demand resisted by his Majesty's Government, any clear definite idea is to be obtained of that degree of " liberty of trade, which the merchants may enjoy, without injury to other important national interests." And hence your Committee humbly conceive, that this problem, so iinportant in its nature, namely, the measure of further liberty which may be safely granted, still remains to be solved, and requires deliberate and accurate investigation.

These remarks may, perhaps, receive some confirmation, from the succinct view which your Committee, enlarging somewhat their first design, are now about to submit, of the principal matters contained in the petitions for the abolition of the Company's commer

cial privileges, and of the answers to which they are obviously liable. Although the same allegations, which are thus urged, have often been combated, it may be proper, on account of the channel in which they now come forward, and of the publicity of the present discussion, to give some distinct reply to them, which will, at least, further evince the disposition of the Court to shrink from no charge, and to shun no inquiry.

All the material objections which appear in those petitions to the renewal of the Company's Charter, may be comprised under the following heads:

1st. That commercial monopolies, especially if extensive and long continued, are, in their nature, and according to the experience of past ages, inexpedient, impolitic, and unjust; and that the monopoly of a joint stock coinpany must be managed with negligence, waste, and prodigality, unlikely to be practised by private merchants. (Some of the petitions admit that monopolies may be tolerated in the beginnings of trade.)

2d. That the monopoly of the East India Company has been injurious to the nation, great evils having resulted from it: that it is inadequate to an extended trade; has locked up national capital; has retarded improvement; has not advanced trade, nor carried it to many countries within the Company's limits : that it cools the ardor of generous and liberal competition ; has deprived the woollen manufactures of Gloucester, Wiltshire, Exeter, Shrewsbury, and the manufacturers of other places; some, of supplying an immense population ; others, of preparing articles for China, on lower terms than the Company allow; others, of carrying on trade with India and the countries north of it; others, of receiving orders, infinitely beyond what they now obtain from the East-India Company: that it is (particularly in the opinion of the Staffordshire potters) unfavorable to the introduction of new - articles: that its exports to the east do not amount to a tifth of the exports of this country to America: that all ideas of participation in the profits of a monopoly trade, by payment into the exchequer, ever will be vain and illusory; of which the disappointment of the nation, in regard to the Company, is a complete illustration : that the intention of opening the trade will be frustrated, by leaving the Company any control over private trade: that it is proved, by undenia

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