Page:Problems of Empire.djvu/97

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command of the sea; and if the command of the sea were lost our enemies could compel us to submit by starvation to whatever terms they might dictate. Three-quarters of our wheat imports come at present from foreign countries. In 1901 our total imports of wheat amounted to 70,000,000 cwt., of which Russia supplied, in round figures, 2,500,000, the United States 40,500,000, Argentina 8,000,000, and British possessions nearly 17,000,000 cwt. In the event of war with the United States the command of the sea would not ensure the maintenance of our food supply. War with the United States is a contingency which no Englishman cares to contemplate. But it is well to point out that, under present conditions, we are absolutely at her mercy. The Government would only have to prohibit the export of corn stuffs to the United Kingdom to compel us to submit. Canada alone is said to be capable of producing all the wheat required to feed the people of the United Kingdom. Australasia sent us in 1901 more wheat than Canada, and, as Sir Edmund Barton said in his speech to the Tunbridge Wells Farmers' Club, it is also a first-rate butcher's shop. Preferential duties, which would ensure the Empire becoming self-supporting as regards its food supply, have many attractions, not the least of which is that they would have a tendency to check the decline in the agricultural population of Great Britain and Ireland.

The incidence of a differential tariff.On the other hand it is asserted that British industry will be able to hold its own by increased efficiency on the part of British merchants, manufacturers, and workmen. The next five years will, I