28 MARCH 1896, Page 2

Mr. Chamberlain made a very important speech at a dinner

of the Canada Club on Wednesday, not as representing the Government, but on his own responsibility only, to suggest a possible Zollverein or Commercial Union between this country and the Colonies as a first step in the direction, if not of ultimate federation, at least of much closer approxima- tion. He pointed out that the proposal made in Canada that both England and her Colonies should add some small import duty on all foreign goods which should not be placed by England on the same imports coming from the Colonies, nor by the Colonies on the same imports coming from England, would both raise the cost of food in this country, and do very much less to favour English produce in the Colonies than it would to favour Colonial produce here, since almost all the Colonies already put heavy duties on foreign produce, and the same duty added to their already heavy duties would be a much smaller encouragement to the Colonial consump- tion of English goods than our duty on foreign goods, which would otherwise have been imported at cost-price, would be to the English consumption of Colonial goods, so that the Colonies would do very much less for us than we should do for the Colonies. This scheme, therefore, he rejected, but he thought it quite possible, if the Colonies wished it, to make some arrangement with them, which would ensure perfect Free-trade between us and the Colonies in almost all articles of commerce except those which (like spirits and tobacco) we are compelled to tax for revenue purposes, and of course with like exceptions on the side of the Colonies. This suggestion,—for he did not represent it as anything else, he offered as a first step towards a closer com- mercial union,—a suggestion which was received with great cordiality by the Canada Club. Mr. Chamberlain is rising every day in the estimation of our great Colonial communities.