England Under Free Trade

England Under Free Trade

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Excerpt from England Under Free Trade: An Address Delivered to the Sheffield Junior Liberal Association, 8th November, 1881

I have the honor of appearing before you this evening for the purpose of delivering to you an address, which I have entitled "England under Free Trade."

Now, these are very wide terms. In their full meaning they cover a vast field of inquiry, and, if I were to attempt to traverse that field throughout, I should have to take in political, social, agricultural, commercial, artistic, literary, and other matters, which I have no intention of doing, for which there is no time, and for which I certainly have not the requisite ability. With your permission, therefore, I propose to confine myself to the one great subject indicated by my title, Free Trade, only touching on some of the others by way of argument or illustration.

In fact, our inquiry will resolve itself into a chapter of what is termed the Fair Trade Controversy.

That controversy turns, as you are aware, on the question whether the commercial policy we have adopted for the last thirty-five years has or has not contributed to the public welfare; and, consequently, whether we ought or ought not to maintain that policy.

The question may be put shortly thus: - Is Free Trade a success or a failure?

But, before we proceed further, let us define what we mean by the term Free Trade as just used. In the abstract, Free Trade may be defined as that state of affairs in which the nations exchange with each other their various products untrammelled by hostile and prohibitory tariffs. Protection, on the other hand, is that state of affairs in which the nations are hindered from this free exchange by tariffs imposed for that special purpose.

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