HC Deb 22 January 1819 vol 39 cc67-9
Sir Gerard Noel

presented a petition from the landholders of the county of Rutland, setting forth, that this country possessed, within itself, sufficient means of producing an abundant supply of corn of every description, for all its inhabitants, without having recourse to the aid of other countries. They prayed that a select committee might be appointed to examine into this matter; that they might be allowed to give evidence before such committee; and in case only of their being able satisfactorily to establish the premises, that such protection might be afforded to them as was enjoyed by the manufacturers, merchants, and traders, by the navigation act. The hon. baronet said, that though he presented it at the request of the parties, he was not prepared to go further in its support.—Ordered to lie on the table. Shortly after,

Mr. Calcraft

observed, that a very important petition had been presented by one of the members for Rutland. It purported to come from a certain number of persons belonging to the class of agriculturists, as they were generally called; and its prayer was, to be allowed to prove their case before a committee of the House. Their object was, to obtain an increase in the importation price of corn. With the sentiments which he had always entertained, and still continued to entertain, on this subject, he had looked upon the attempt which appeared to be in contemplation with equal concern and alarm. As he now saw the vice-president of the Board of Trade in his place, he thought it right to take that early opportunity of requesting to know the opinion of government, with regard to any further change in the corn laws, and sincerely trusted that it was not favourable to any measure of such a description.

Mr. Robinson

thought it was almost necessary for him to apologise for not having, when the petition alluded to was presented, expressed his sentiments at once on this serious and most important question. As he had inadvertently lost that opportunity, he was obliged to the hon. gentleman for affording him the present, of making—what appeared to him to be of the utmost moment to make—a distinct avowal of the view in which the subject was considered by his majesty's ministers. They were decidedly of opinion, not only that it would be unadvisable to agitate such a question, but in case of any substantive proposition being brought forward, would meet it with their most determined resistance [Hear, hear!] They looked upon the last measure as one of sound legislative policy, and that it had produced all the benefits which were expected to be derived from it to the agricultural interests of the country. But they would consider it to be the height of imprudence, amounting almost to insanity, to introduce any new measure; or to revive discussions which could have no other effect than that of exciting differences and animosities from one end of the kingdom to the other.

Mr. M. A. Taylor

strongly condemned the attempt which was now carrying on to force this question again on the attention of parliament. He always had used, and he should continue to use, his utmost endeavours to defeat every scheme for tampering with the corn trade.

Sir H. Parnell

, from the share which he had taken in former discussions on this subject, in support of the Corn Bill, was glad to take that opportunity of expressing his disapprobation of the attempts which had been lately made to disturb the public mind. He perfectly agreed in all that the right hon. gentleman had said. He could not See what had occurred to render it necessary to bring the question again before parliament. The measure adopted had been beneficial every way; it had benefited the agricultural interest, without injuring any other class of the community.

Mr. Long Wellesley

concurred with the hon. baronet in thinking, that the late act had produced all the benefit to agriculture that could have been expected, or was desirable. He had heard with much satisfaction, the declaration of the same sentiments on the part of government.

Another member was now about to offer some remarks, when

The Speaker

suggested, that as a very important question had been asked, and an explicit answer given, it would be inconvenient and contrary to the practice of the House, to prolong a conversation which was not addressed to any question now before it.