Mr. JOHN CHARLTON (North Norfolk).
figures of our imports from Great Britain will show :
We liacl gone down from $43,000,000 to $20,000,000 before this preference was adopted, between the years 1893 and 1897 ; and we had gone up from $29,000,000 to $4S,000,000 between 1S97 and 1902 after the preference had begun to work, showing an increase of $19,000,000, or 40 per cent in those five years, against a rapid decrease in the preceding term which these figures reveal. Now, this proves that Mr. Chamberlain is wrong, this proves that there was a decline in trade with England, that that decline was progressive and regular. These figures prove that the preference, or something else, arrested that decline, and that there set in an expansion, which amounted to $19,794,000 in five years. Surely Mr. Chamberlain should have been satisfied with this record, and certainly he was not possessed of the facts with regard to trade when he made the assertion that the Canadian preference was a matter of small moment to England, and had produced no tangible results worthy of consideration.
The idea of English statesmen, Mr. Speaker, is one that, in my opinion, we can never meet. I assert again that it is my firm conviction that we should never have given a preference, that one in return cannot be given, that the condition of England's trade with foreign countries renders it impossible for her to do it, and regard for her own interest will prevent her doing it. But there is an idea abroad about a zollverein, free trade within the empire. Well, we could arrange matters probably upon that basis, absolute free trade, the admission of all British products to her colonies free of duty. But, if that is a scheme that meets with the approbation of the British people, it is one that cannot be wrought out. In my opinion, we can never accept it, certainly we cannot accept it under present conditions. I do not; believe we ever can. It is not a matter, at all events, that looms up in the near future as one that can be arranged.
Now, with regard to the preference on grain, amounting in round numbers to four per cent, I assert, Mr. Speaker, that the free admission to the American market for our wheat and other cereals would be worth more to our producers than an English preference of four per cent. I assert that the free introduction of American competition on the part of American grain buyers and millers with our own grain buyers and