RESULTS OF THE OVERTHROW OF THE TEA MONOPOLY.
Trio Tea fratle has been nominally open for better than a year ; but it is only now, in the fourteenth month after the Parliamen- tary ilitinction of the monopoly, that flue consumer is 1)..4innitig to derive the e.-sential benefits of freedom. The public pays for
tea, east nail duties, about 7,000,unt1. a year. Next, therefore, to corn, sugar, and malt, tea is the most costly and important article of' the food- of the peep'e. A brief view of the results of the ex- periment of fro trade in 11i. commodity, at the present moment of transition, will nut be without interest ; acid we proceed to fur- nish it.
The monopolists predicted that an open trade in tea would not make tea cheaper than the East India Company had been wont to sell it at. In I S32, the East India Company sold all its Bohea tra, the consumption of the poorer classes of society, at Is. 101d.
pound. On the 28th of last month, upwards of 12,000 chests of tea of the same name, and the same quality, were sold at the average pries of IN. 21,1. being a fall of 8d. per pound, or 35 per cent. The wholesale price of a pound of Bohea to a poor man, in I s32 was 3s. 9,d. : it is now 2s. 8:-Id.; a gain of more than a shilling a pound. The case is the same with Congou, the article of largest consumption in this country. The average price in 1832 was 2s. 21(1.; and on the 29th of May 1835, above 16,000 chest.; were sold at Is. 5d. per pound. Thus the Congou, which coA three years ago, including duty, -1S% 5N, may now be had for 3s. 7d.*
The second allegation of the monopolists was, that, through
the skilful machinery of the East India' Company, a better quality of tea was supplied than it were possible the public would be furnished with through any other channel. From the 20th to the 29th May 1835, there were sold of free trade tea near 50,000 packages, and on the 1st and 2d June nearly the same quantity of the Company's teas were offered for sale. The Twankav or common green of the Company sold on an average at 18. !Id. per pound, and that of the free trade for a halfpenny per piled more. Stich was the ease with the other descriptions of tea, except here and there with a few choice parcels, very incon- siderable in quantity. This is the more retnarkable, since of the Company's tea three-fourths was withdrawn, because no one would bid above an extravagant upset price, while of the free trade tea nearly the whole was sold without reserve. Such is the only result that could rationally have been expected, seeing that there can be no more a emporation rood than a royal road for securing to the consumer a good article in any department of commerce. The delu- sion, however, of imagining the Company's tea better than any other that could ever again find its way into the English market, seems to have taken possession of a few gentlemen in the purlieus of Leadenhall Street ; and they have, it we are rightly informed.
• This comparison slows up the monopoli,ts in a very mild aspect. Downlo 18.2% when they began to beat about for argnments to extenuate tho monopoly and increttsc their importations, their itohea was soli on an average at 2s. 4,1. per pound, which with duty made 4s. Sri.; while their Congott was at Si, M.. making the whole rico 51. M. been severely punishel for it by a heavy pecuOary loss on specu- lations entered into under the influence cf this absurd tnistake. It tnav here be properly added, that the free traders have not only introduced geod quality, but a great variety of kinds. The staples of the Company's impartationa consisted of no more than four or five kinds of teas; while in the free trade sale lists we perceive not less than a dozen knehe varying in price from Is. up to 3s. 61. per pourd—thus suiting all tasees and all purses. The next ollegation male by the monopolists, was that a Ike
trade weuld not be adequate to furnish a sufficient supply of tea; and that censequently the consumption, histeal of increasieg, would diminish. The palpable fates ill refuniticil of this are the following. Since the month of November hit, when tea which could be usel for heme consumption wae imported for the first time, there Lave been imported ...!‘i,01.11,001) t I 1• , and I 0,0e0,000 More are 011 the voyage home, making 3teeelentto ; which is rimy
mere then tile Company ever ohl, al:fl about .six millions bevond their tiNm :lee annual .sales kr the la-t five N ears. It ,Nra's quite i mp ossible thr t any other result could have followed. Tea was healing a touch higher price in Engiaud than on the Cm:the:tit t•r Ateer:ea ; the tie: was in the inathet of China; and the English givieg a leleor price than anv other trader, the article of necessity tame to England, and no other'place. Next, " the revenue would tt Ii oil', and smuggling would increase.
when the dot vs were no loneer convened by the East India COW-
p,' 1V " et the -d ere-, of suitetolims be first disposed of. Tea for re- t . . „ , . expel ta t coli:ing lrola liia Continent, Or kr consumption or reex- portation Mining frem the Cape, Bombe y, Sing ape re, and China, has
b. en nOW for more than a twelvemonth imported, and not one charge
of contraband or on dealing has been alleged even in a single ii.,lance. Neither in all this lone have we heard of the old and frceuent practice of manufacturing counterfeit Las. Smuggling and mailufeeturieg are of ceurse both diecomaged by the low prici.s of an open competition. The high monopoly price bad the same effect in promating both as a high law. Bohea is jttet now sold under a shilling, and we euspeet that a good counterfeit in Niue- leaves would cost more.
The revenue collected by the Company was short of three
Millions tieda lie if, yearly and tins was a falling-off of a round million ha mu the sum which it had once reached. Now if; in
the first vtar f free nu the consumption should net exceed ne,Inio,eee of ounds,—antl this is possible, for vast pains have been taken to limit it,—even then the revenue will appi ouch to
4,1'1 er be inereined by near half a million. The i ecrease of oeisunipt ion iii tea ought at least to keep pace with that which has taken place in coKe within the last ten years, and which was coesequent upon the reduction of duty front Is. a pound to ad.: u.(Tuse the essen ill reelection et' cost which a free competition has (Aliened in the one, is even greater than diminished duty has eflicted ill tile other. In five years time, the reduced duty on reline I'm re than doubled the consumption, and in ten years it has multielicd it neatly three-kid. If a similar result should take place in tea, then, in the year 18-10, we shall consume about 6 1,614,COU of pounds, and our revenue will be 7,000,000!.; in 18-15, WO shall consume 90,14;0,000, and our revenue be above 16,000,000/- This supposes the duties to continue at their present amounts : but these are exorbitant, and to make the results predicted more certain, ought, unquestionable, to be much re- duced. In the article of coffee, a reduction of duty by one-half raised the revenue by one-half, or 50 per cent.
A word, however, for these duties. The commercial reader, at
least, knows that these are on the lowest quality of teas 1.s. 6d. per pound, on middling qualities 2s. ed., and on fine qualities 3s.; Nvilich, on the prices of the tea sales a kw days ago, make re- spectively the following ad l'illOrefil duties in round- numbers- 130 per cent., 150 per cent., and 100 per cent. There is here, as usual, an obvious favouring of the higher classes of consumers; but, with all the defects of the new scale, so fair and equitable a specific duty was never before attempted in this country. The tea- dealers are, however, dissatisfied, and clamour most vehemently for one specific duty on all teas. It would appear that there is not scope enough under the new duties for mixing and mystification—for adulteration, in short, so far as adulteration consists in making one tea pass for another. The duty at which they aim ought, they say, to be es. Let us see, then, how such a 'duty- would operate on the pikes of teas as already quoted. It would be about 170 per cent, on the pour man's tea, 140 on the shopkeeper s, and but 70 on the fine gentleman's. Thus the shopkeeper would pay twice as much duty as the beau, and the washerwoman be taxed by 100 per cent. beyond my lade. Such propositions as these confirm the well-known observation of Ano:s SMITH, that in matters of commercial legislation the advice of Merchants ought ever to be received with the utmost suspicion: merchants, in such cases, are often decent and always necessary witnesses, but they are ever execrable judges. If the Chancellor or the Exchequer is wise and manly, be will disregard this most irrational clamour. The public, and the most competent public writers, have done justice to the Whig Government for their adoption of this scale of duties, acted on most successfully for forty years by the Government of the United States; and it is to be hoped the, are not to be diverted from their honest and liberal views by the brawling of interested parties. The allegation of the tea- dealers is, that a low duty will encourage the consumption of inferior tea, and that a WO duty will discourage it. Thus they would set themselves and the Government up as judges of what
the reople ought to eat and drink. They might just as well talk of impoing a duty upon oat or rye bread, or potatoes, to discourage the consi:mption of these and favour the consumption of wheaten
bead. It :s.not a high or a low, but an equal or just duty, that is wanted. lf the lower qualities of tea are to be discouraged by a discriminatin,' duty, nothing can be more certain than that 13-th eonsu mpt ion :Ind revenue rill decline, and with them conifort, trade, mid public chndit- It has been already yetnarked, that it is now only, and after the lapse of mote than a that the consumer is beeiening to experience the benefit of the open trade by the fall of prices; while • however, are even at the present moment ceividerably above the level of the prices of Atneriva and the Continent during the. last Mem' years. Thu history of tl.e manner in which tho country has been for a whole Year, or since the legal tessieien of the monopoly in Aril 1831, deframied iT the env:linage it had a rig le to look for, is curious, and may be briefly told. At the expiration of' the loollopolv, there was in the ceuntry a stock uf tea tare' to at least t‘vo years' consumptien, or above seventy millions in' petuels. This wee the property of the people of India, who lei). the divi.lentis on India St,:elt, held in trust Inc them by the Eaet India Cempany, under the eentrol of the Crown. Every Ounce of this tin.yht to have lae,n, sentient loss of time, put up to the hammer; and, in order to eirect this, distributed at all the principal matte of the United Kingdone—at Liverpool, Bristol, Dublin, Hull, Glasgow. This was the intention, to ail appear- ance, of the King's Covernment the Lemlon dealers, baeletl by the East India Company , ietrigued to prevent it ; and the Government eventually yielding, the tea has beea doled out to the public by quarterly sales, as under the old sys- tem, and even in smaller quanto les ; so that for at least nine
ii in e' ter the: termination of the Charter, the old monopoly prices were kept up with very trifling ;lychee. In the mean time, the cheap teas of America and the Continent were exclude:1 from the market : and the crop of tea in China not being avail- able until the CIA it 1s3 t, Fearcely any of it reached this country until a iv hale year after the nominal opening of the trade.