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The Return to Protection Free Trade

Nature volume 70, pages 290291 (28 July 1904) | Download Citation



NOW that everyone has made up his mind as to the advisability or not of an alteration of our fiscal policy, and the question is relegated to the political arena to be settled by political methods, it seems unnecessary to recapitulate arguments which should be familiar, and we may be content to refer readers to Lord Avebury's “Free Trade,” where they will find two chapters of the “Essays and Addresses” recently reviewed in NATURE expanded and brought up to date. In it are many illuminating, if familiar, statistics and telling arguments for use by the convinced free trader; but it is not likely that a tariff reformer will be influenced by these, for it is quite obvious that his case is neither understood nor met. It is no use to repeat that we have progressed wonderfully since 1846, when the whole argument of the reformer is that the continuance of this progress is threatened. It is quite time that free traders realised that a picture of the distress prevalent in the ’ thirties does not carry conviction to those who say that free trade has been good, but there are now changed conditions and a better way. This position is not essentially absurd, and Lord Avebury's arguments, loose and inconclusive as they are in many cases, will not affect it.

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