The following announcement appeared in the Globe last night- "
It appears that her Majesty's Ministers are at length convinced of the necessity of adopting a fixed duty on corn, as the new sliding-scale has worked so unsatisfactorily for the public interests. We are informed that the scheme under consideration, and which will probably be submitted for the approval of Parliament, with certain modifications, is as follows. In the beginning, to levy one uniform rate of duty of 12s. per quarter on wheat imported from all foreign countries not being British possessions ; but afterwards to allow the Executive to reduce the duty one-half—to 6s. per quarter--on im- ports from those countries which may claim the indulgence as a com- pensation for concessions male to us, or for corresponding reductions in their duties levied upon British manufactures. This will give power to Minis- ters in negotiating commercial treaties with our neighbours, as they will be enabled to offer an equivalent for favours conferred upon us. It will be of great service in softening the hostile tariffs of America and of Prussia, together with the other States forming the German Customs Union, which are manceuvering slowly and systematically to exclude our goods entirely from their markets, and which they may effectually succeed in doing at no very distant period if we do not adopt timely measures to counteract them. We must confess that this scheme offers many advantages, and is a great improvement upon the last sliding-scale. It remains to be seen whether it will find favour with those who were lately advocates of monopoly, although they now begin to sing a different song."
The morning papers throw no light upon the matter. The Times is silent. The Post is lost in incredulity, astonishment, and disgust. The Herald thinks, that if Ministers had entertained such an intention, they would have kept their own counsel as they did last year ; and finds in- superable difficulties in the plan, from the terms of existing treaties, which prevent this Government from making concessions to one coun- try without making the same concession to others : thus, concessions made in respect of American grain would at once be claimed by Rus- sia, Denmark, Sweden, Sicily, and Holland ; and to reductions made in favour of these countries the United States would in turn be entitled. The Chronicle thinks the scheme might have been a boon once, but would not be acknowledged as such now ; that it would not soften the hostile tariff of America ; and that it is doubtful whether Prussia is at liberty to avail herself of the option offered.
The Standard this evening flatly contradicts the story. " We believe that we can safely affirm that in this announcement there is not one word of truth." " The thing announced is impossible, inasmuch as Great Britain is already bound by various treaties as to the proportions in which she will burden the admission of the produce of those countries with which we trade."