In 1909 a direct primary elections law was passed which required a majority of all votes to nominate, and, to make a majority possible, provided for preferential (or second-choice) voting, such votes to be canvassed and added to the first-choice vote for each candidate if there be no majority by the first-choice vote.
This convention was notable for its grant of preferential treatment (in general, a rebate of 25% on the customs already levied) to imports from the United Kingdom.
Mr Chamberlain himself had proposed only to take it off as regards colonial, and not foreign corn, - thus inaugurating a preferential system.
The first public intimation of his views was given in a speech to his constituents at Birmingham (May 15, 1903), when he outlined a plan for raising more money by a rearranged tariff, partly to obtain a preferential system for the empire and partly to produce funds for social reform at home.
At the peace in 1815, however, only four were spared, namely, Frankfort, Bremen, Hamburg and Lubeck, these being practically the only ones still in a sufficiently flourishing and economically independent position to warrant such preferential treatment.
A further increase of £26,000,000 a year in the trade with the colonies might be obtained by a preferential tariff, and this meant additional employment at home for 166,000 workmen, or subsistence for a population of a far larger number.
In the following year the shah, by a firman dated the 12th of French May gave the exclusive right of exploring ancient sites in Persia to the French government, with the stipula- i~ncession tion that one-half of the discovered antiquities, excepting those of gold and silver and precious stones, should belong to the French government, which also had the preferential right of acquiring by purchase the other half and any of the other antiquities which the Persian government might wish to dispose of.
Mr Chamberlain pointed out that he was committed to a preferential scheme involving new duties on food, and could not remain in the government without prejudice while it was excluded from the party programme; remaining loyal to Mr Balfour and his general objects, he could best promote this course from outside, and he suggested that the government might confine its policy to the "assertion of our freedom in the case of all commercial relations with foreign countries."
The correspondence between Mr Chamberlain and Mr Balfour (September 9th and 16th) was published, and presented the latter in the light of a sympathizer with some form of fiscal union with the colonies, if practicable, and in favour of retaliatory duties, but unable to believe that the country was yet ready to agree to the taxation of food required for a preferential tariff, and therefore unwilling to support that scheme; at the same time he encouraged Mr Chamberlain to test the feeling of the public and to convert them by his missionary efforts outside the government.
The more aggressive protectionists among Mr Chamberlain's supporters had lately become very confident, and Mr Balfour plainly repudiated "protection" in so far as it meant a policy aiming at supporting or creating home industries by raising home prices; but he introduced a new point by declaring that an Imperial Conference would be called to discuss with the colonies the question of preferential tariffs if the Unionist government obtained a majority at the next general election.
Colonel Denison was one of the founders of the "Canada First" party, which did much to shape the national aspirations from 1870 to 1878, and was a consistent supporter of imperial federation and of preferential trade between Great Britain and her colonies.
These include petroleum refineries, iron foundries, distilleries, flour mills, sugar refineries, sawmills, paper mills, chemical works, glass works, soap and candle works, &c. A law passed in 1887 provided that any one undertaking to found an industrial establishment with a capital of at least £2000, or employing at least 25 workmen (of whom two-thirds should be Rumanians), should be granted 12 acres of state land, exemption for a term of years from all direct taxes, freedom from customs dues for machinery and raw material imported, exemption from road taxes, reduction in cost of carriage of materials on the state railways, and preferential rights to the supply of manufactured articles to the state.
He advocated the creation of a permanent deliberative imperial council, and favoured preferential trade relations between the United Kingdom and the other members of the empire; and in later years he took an active part in advocating the cause of tariff reform and colonial preference.
A careful and even brilliant financier, and a keen debater, he became known as a strong believer in protection for Canadian industries and in preferential trade within the British empire.
Laurier made his first visit to Great Britain on the occasion of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee (1897), when he received the grand cross of the Bath; he then secured the denunciation of the Belgian and German treaties and thus obtained for the colonies the right to make preferential trade arrangements with the mother country.