HC Deb 09 May 1822 vol 7 cc454-69

The order of the day was read for going into a committee to consider further of the Report on the Agricultural Distress. On the motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,"

Mr. Denison

said, that none of the proposed resolutions had a tendency to remove the existing evil, which arose out of unbounded taxation, and the rapid restriction of the circulating medium. Taxation was pressing agriculture down to utter ruin. He was persuaded that government might keep faith with the public creditor, and yet repeal two millions and a half of taxes. He was sorry to see a prevalent disposition in all classes, the land-owners, the fund-owners, and the ship-owners, to shift, the burthen from their own shoulders upon the shoulders of others. If ministers would give relief by a remission of taxation, all classes would more willing bear their remaining burthens.

The House having gone into the committee,

Lord Althorp

rose, to offer a few reasons for the amendment which he had proposed late last night. His hon. friend behind him (Mr. Ricardo) had proposed a series of resolutions which fixed an import duty upon wheat of 20s. per quarter as soon as the ports were opened, and provided for the decrease of that duty by 1s. a quarter every year, until it reached 10s., and which gave a drawback or bounty of 7s. per quarter on exportation. Now, the amendment which he (lord A.) had proposed, was to impose a fixed duty of 20s. per quarter on importation, not liable to any future decrease or diminution, and to allow a bounty of 18s. instead of 7s. per quarter on exportation. The result f his amendment would be, that the highest price of corn would be 65s., and the lowest 43s. Among the resolutions of his hon. friend, was one which admitted ware housed corn into the market at a lower rate of duty than fresh foreign corn. Of that resolution he cordially approved; for it would be advantageous that the farmer should not be exposed at once to an influx of warehoused and of foreign corn, inasmuch as the gradual introduction of the warehoused corn might prevent fresh foreign corn coming at all into, the market. The noble lord then moved his amendment.

Mr. Ricardo

was surprised at his noble friend's proposing such an amendment. He could not see upon what principle his noble friend could justify raising the bounty on exportation to 18s. a quarter. For his own part, he did not think that any bounty would often be called into operation. Whenever it should, 7s. would be quite enough. His noble friend, the learned member for Winchelsea, and the hon. member for Corfe-castle, both agreed in one objection against his resolutions—that he had not made sufficient allowances for the effect of indirect taxation on the agricultural interest, which, according to their statement, was more affected by it than any other interest. Their statement to a certain extent, might be true; still he thought they had exaggerated. The principle upon which he had made his calculations was, that the price of every Commodity was constituted by the wages of labour, and the produce of stock. Now, the noble lord's argument was, that in manufactured commodities the price was constituted of only a small portion of wages, and a large portion of the produce of the stock; whilst, in agricultural commodities, the case was exactly the reverse. If the noble lord could substantiate such a proposition, he would agree that he was entitled to the allowance he demanded. All that he doubted was, whether the fact were so. He doubted whether the proportion of labour was greater in agriculture than in manufactures. The right way of coining to a sound determination upon that point was, by considering in what the dead capital of both consisted. If he could show that the dead capital in agriculture bore the same proportion to its whole capital, that the dead capital in manufactures did to its whole capital, then he thought that his noble friend's proposition would no longer be valid. His learned friend, the member for Winchelsea, had said, that almost all the produce of the land was made up of labour. His learned friend, however, seemed to have forgotten that there was a great deal of capital in buildings, in horses, in seed in the ground, besides in labour. It was true that the manufacturer had a great proportion of his capital in his machinery; but, even though that were taken into consideration, he must still say, that the proportion of his noble friend was not made out so clearly as it ought to be; and that he was therefore only entitled to a small allowance. Now, in allowing a duty of 10s., he thought that he had made an ample allowance; and he had made that allowance, too, on the principle, that all the poor-rates as well as all the tithes fell exclusively upon the agricultural interest. He now stated, however, that the agricultural interest was not entitled to the full allowance of all the poor-rates, inasmuch as a part of them was paid by the manufacturers, although much the greater part, he would allow, was paid by the agricultural classes. He was persuaded that if he had kept to that principle, the allowance to the agricultural interest would not have been more than 7s. Now, he had allowed them a duty of 10s., and therefore, in the 3s. that there was over, he had made ample compensation for any errors that he might unintentionally have committed. He would now say one word to the hon. member for Corfe-castle (Mr. Bankes), regarding the lecture which he had read him (Mr. R.) upon political economy. The hon. member had talked much of the wisdom of our ancestors. He willingly allowed that there was much wisdom in our ancestors: but at the same time he must ever contend, that the present generation had all their wisdom and a little more into the bargain. [Hear, hear.] If the argument of the hon. member were to be considered as valid, there was an end at once to all hopes of future improvement. The present generation had invented steam-engines and gas-lights, and had made several other useful and beneficial discoveries, and he trusted that they would never be stopped in their progress to knowledge by being told of the wisdom of their ancestors, or be convinced that they were in the most flourishing condition possible because the system of their ancestors was called most wise and excellent. Undoubtedly this country was a great country, and had of late years increased its capital to a great extent. But in arguing upon that point, the hon. member for Corfe-castle might as well have employed this argument as the one which he had used; be might as well have said, "We have increased in wealth, whilst we have been contracting a great national debt; therefore, the national debt is a great blessing, and it would be a had thing to get rid of it." [Hear, and a laugh.] That argument was quite as valid as the argument which the hon. member had actually used.—The hon. member then proceeded to state, that one argument urged against a free importation of corn, which appeared to him not to deserve the slightest attention, was this—that England ought not only to be a self-supplying, but also an exporting country. Now he wished to press one point upon their consideration, and that was—that it was the great interest of a country which grew a commodity for the use of another, to keep the market open for the sale of it. Now, if we were to raise a large supply for the purpose of sending our raw produce to a foreign country, in what a situation should we he placed if the market were to be shut against it? What a glut would then be forced into the home market! He would contend, that the ruin which such an event would produce, would be so great that no minister, nor sovereign, would be able to remedy it. The lion, member for Corfe-castle had also lamented that we were becoming too much of a manufacturing country. The hon. gentleman might, perhaps, think that a manufacturing country could not be so happy as an agricultural country. But he might as well complain of a man's growing old as of such a change in our national condition. Nations grew old as well as individuals; and in proportion as they grew old, populous, and wealthy, must they become manufacturers. If things were allowed to take their own course, we should undoubtedly become a great manufacturing country, but we should remain a great agricultural country also. Indeed, it was impossible that England should be other than an agricultural country: she might become so populous as to be obliged to import part of her food; but instead of lamenting over that circumstance, he should think it a proof of prosperity and a subject of congratulation. There would always be a limit to our greatness, while we were growing our own supply of food: but we should always be increasing in wealth and power, whilst we obtained part of it from foreign countries, and devoted our own manufactures to the payment of it. The hon. member for Corfe-castle had asked, whether our farmers were to be transformed into manufacturers, and our ploughmen into mechanics? From that question, any stranger who had walked into the House might have supposed that a proposition had been actually made to throw open our ports, and to change all at once our entire course of policy. But had any proposition of that nature been even hinted at? The hon. member for Oxford (Mr. Lockhart) had done him the honour of stating, that he believed that he (Mr. R) would not willingly inflict misery upon his country; but had added that he believed his resolutions would have such a tendency. But when he proposed a monopoly for the agriculturist up to 70s. (and the hon. member for Wiltshire admitted that 67s. was a remunerative growing price), and a duty of 20s. on the first opening of the ports, and a gradual reduction of it to a fixed and permanent duty of 10s., could it be fairly said that he was proposing a scheme to turn the capital of the country from agriculture to manufactures? It had been well observed by an hon. member, that it was totally impossible that the direction of our capital could be changed in that manner. The security against it was to be found in the necessity of our growing our own corn—a necessity which would always prevent us from becoming too much of a manufacturing country. The fact was, that his resolutions, if adopted, would gradually employ a small portion more of the capital of the country in manufactures, of which the result would be beneficial to all classes of the community, as it was only by the sale of our manufactures that we were enabled to purchase corn.—He had never heard any answer attempted to his argument respecting the miserable situation into which the farmer would be plunged under a system of protecting duties. The high prices of corn exposed the farmer to great and peculiar risks. Now, none of the representatives of the agricultural interest in that House had ever ventured to assert that the farmer was not liable to the risks which he had pointed out as likely to arise from the variation of prices: none of them had attempted to show that his view of the danger was absurd and chimerical; and, as they had not done so, he was greatly confirmed in that view which he had originally taken. The hon. member for Wiltshire had stated, that we could obtain a large supply of foreign corn at 25s. per quarters Now, he held in his hand a letter from Mr. Solly, in which that gentleman declared, that in all the evidence which he had given before the committee, he had not spoken of the then accidental price, but of the remunerating price, on the continent; and his learned friend (Mr. Brougham) had justly observed, that it was the remunerating price on the continent that regulated the price here. Now, he believed that his learned friend had understated that remunerating price. His learned friend had stated it at 45s.; he believed it to be 10s. more; for his learned friend had made no allowance for the profits of those who brought it here, which, in the opinion of Mr. Solly, were at least 6s. a quarter. The chief reason, however, for his mentioning the letter of Mr. Solly was, that Mr. Solly had said that Memel (from which one of the witnesses before the committee had derived his information) was not a port from which any great quantity of corn was shipped—not above 20,000 quarters a year, and that of inferior quality. Now, he wished to ask the House, if not more than 20,000 quarters were shipped from Memel, and those too of an inferior quality, whether such a fact would justify them in passing such a legislative measure as his hon. friend had proposed? The assertion, therefore, that foreign corn could be obtained at 25s. per quarter, was unworthy of attention for a single moment.—The only farther observation which he had to make was, with regard to what had fallen from the noble marquis. The noble marquis had said, that the measures which he had recommended to the House had been carried in the committee, almost without a dissentient voice. Now, he (Mr. R.) had stated his opinions in the committee, and for the sake of his own character and consistency, he would take the liberty of restating them to the House. He had gone into that committee with the opinion that the agricultural classes were in a state of great and overwhelming distress—that any relief which could be held out to them, ought to be held out—and that he would give them such relief; but on condition, that he should, in his turn, receive a pledge that some better measures of legislation should be instantly resorted to. He had been disposed to give the agriculturists every thing they required. They had a prohibition at present; and they could not have more. Indeed, he had been ready to adopt any proposition that the com- mittee might originate, so long as the committee expressed a willingness to propose some more salutary measures of legislation to the consideration of parliament. The committee had held out to him a hope that they would do what he advised; they told him that they would insert something in their report which would satisfy him upon that point; and, in consequence of that declaration, he had given a conditional assent to the measures they had proposed. When he saw the report, and found that it contained no such clause as he had anticipated, the conditional assent that he had given to their propositions was immediately dissolved; and he refused to concur in the report of the committee, because it contained nothing of the nature which he had hoped it would contain. The hon. member for Hertford had said, that the evidence of those persons who imported corn was to be taken with some allowance, because their views of interest, however honest the individuals might be in intention, were likely to bias them. He did not mean to quarrel with that observation; for in most cases he allowed it to be well founded. He wished, however, to be permitted to apply it to those who had to decide in that House upon this most important subject. Let him remind them, that they had a great interest in it; let him caution them not to be led away—not to be improperly biassed—by any views of their own personal advantage. Let him implore them to recollect that they were legislating for the happiness of millions, and that there was no evil so intolerable as the high price of human food. [Hear!] He was astonished to hear the hon. member for Essex declare, that it was matter of indifference to him whether prices were high or not; and that he wanted to have corn for little labour and for low prices. He went along with the hon. member in that sentiment; but then he was astonished to find, that the hon. member, when they came to a measure that was calculated to give them low real prices, flew off in an opposite direction, and declared that we ought to grow our own corn, and that it was only upon particular occasions that we should suffer it to be imported. Such a declaration, if acted upon would render it impossible to obtain low prices in a country increasing in population like our own: indeed, the only way of getting low real prices, with which he was acquainted, was, to divert part of the capital of the country in such a way as to increase its manufactures.

Mr. Benett

, of Wiltshire, said, he had never stated that foreign corn could be purchased at 25s. per quarter, though if it were true that bread could be bought in France at a penny per pound, corn must be at a less price there than 25s. per quarter. He was well aware that 24s. at present was more than 24s. before the passing of Mr. Peel's bill. The foreign exchanges had, however, followed the operation of that bill, and the price of foreign corn had consequently been affected by it. All were agreed that faith ought to be kept with the public creditor; but ought it not also to be observed towards the farmer? He must say, that if the warehouses were to be thrown open at 70s. instead of 80s., the consequence would be the influx of foreign corn one year sooner into the markets. They had heard a great deal of the impolicy of bringing bad land into cultivation; but they had not been told that such land, when it received from art the assistance which nature had denied it, grew as well as land originally good. He was no enemy to the principle of a free trade, but the arrangements should not be of a nature to give other classes an advantage to the injury of the farmer.

Mr. Curwen

reminded the House, that in the memorable year 1799, when a scarcity was felt, an importation to the extent of a six weeks supply was immediately called for. That supply was provided at great expense, and not without some difficulty, from America and the Cape of Good Hope, and some rice was imported even from India. In times of danger he admitted the necessity of importing foreign corn; it ought to be then liberally received, but not permitted to remain here and accumulate to the injury of the home grower. When he objected to the duty fixed by the hon. baronet, it was not because he thought it beyond the scale of protection really due to the home grower, but because he thought it would be impossible to maintain it against the probable feeling of the country. He denied the accuracy of the calculations upon which the rates of protecting duty mentioned were framed. The noble marquis's, though intended to reconcile the wishes of all parties, were founded upon erroneous data. The price of production in foreign countries was not fairly given. Mr. Solly had informed the committee, that corn at Odessa could be had, and at a remune- rating price for the farmer, so low as 16s. a quarter, and might be imported at 32s. Now, he (Mr. C.) from the best information he could procure, thought that calculation incorrect, and that corn at Odessa could be had at 12s., instead of 16s.: it therefore could be imported at 24s. and not 32s. Whenever there was a failure in the crops, there could be always secured a foreign supply to meet the evil. The noble marquis was wrong when he stated that Dantzic corn might be imported at 42s.: the fact was, the importation might take place at 32s. or 33s. If the noble marquis re-considered the prices, he would see that the foreign grower could avail himself of his duty and come into the market at 57s. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Ricardo), was of opinion that 65s. would be a fair protecting price to the farmer. So it would be, if he could always be sure of obtaining it; but that was impossible. What was it that made the farmer complain? The over-whelming taxes and depreciated currency which attended a long war. He knew the farmer could not expect the country would maintain for him an unequal price; but they ought at least to put him upon the same fair footing for the protection of his property, as the other classes of the community. It was unnecessary to inquire what had been the effect of the three years importation. We had imported in that period to the amount of pretty nearly. 3,000,000 quarters of grain—he should say about 1,600,000 quarters of wheat. That supply we might have required for two years, and for part, probably, of the third. The ports shut in Feb. 1819. Now, he entreated the attention of the House to this statement—if we had consumed, in the first year, 800,000 quarters, that was the very utmost; in the second year we had certainly consumed considerably less; and it was his belief that we had 500,000 or 600,000 quarters of the supply left on hand at the commencement of 1819. Would not every gentleman say, that the operation of such an enormous surplus, remaining unconsumed at a time when we had no occasion for a single bushel of imported corn, had been to weigh very heavily upon the home market ever since? Two: years ago, he had strongly pressed upon the president of the board of trade, the injury which such a circumstance, might ultimately occasion to the country. His admonitions, however, were disregarded. Gentle men, therefore, would do well not to run away with an idea that the whole of the existing distresses were occasioned by over-production. If the noble marquis would not accede to his (Mr. C.'s) proposition, let him at least substitute some other in its stead, which should carry the protection as high as the noble lord himself had admitted it was proper to be fixed at. The hon. member concluded by reading his proposed resolutions for regulating the corn trade; viz. 1. "That the average price of wheat exceeding 80s.; and the ports being declared open for the importation of foreign wheat; a quantity, not exceeding 400,000 quarters, shall be admitted, on a duty of 10s. per quarter. 2. That the average price of wheat continuing above 80s. at the expiration of six weeks from the first opening the ports, a farther importation of 4,00,000 quarters, to be permitted, at 5s. per quarter."

Mr. W. Burrell

said, that, all things considered, he was disposed to prefer the proposal of the noble lord; and, if it were accompanied with another suggestion mentioned in the report, he should consider it liable to very little exception. It was, that a duty of from 12s. to 15s. per quarter should be imposed on foreign wheat imported for home consumption, when the price should exceed 70s. In any bill which the House might agree to, he should wish that the averages should for the future be taken on Irish corn sold in the British market, as well as on our own grain. He had been informed by good judges, that it was almost impossible to tell Irish wheat from English; and it was very certain that the person who, under the present regulations, struck the average, knew nothing about any such difference, but proceeded upon the information of others. There was reason to believe, that at present a good deal of unfair speculation was engaged in on account of the difficulty of detecting this distinction.

Lord Eastnor

believed that the proposition under discussion could not effect the relief of the people, and was calculated only to excite false hopes. He felt inclined to support the proposition of the noble marquis, but thought it did not go far enough.

Lord Cranborne

thought, that a duty of 12s. with a rise of 5s. was not a sufficient protection to the farmer; and had therefore moved in the committee that 3s. should be added. Having failed in his endeavour, and being disposed to get the best bargain he could for the agriculturist, he should vote for the resolutions of the noble lord.

The Marquis of Londonderry

said, that from what he understood to have been the views of the hon. member for Cumberland in the committee, he was astonished at the views which he now seemed to take. The hon. member had said, that the markets were depressed in consequence of the quantity remaining of foreign corn since 1819. When the ports were open, and where there were no restraints, he admitted the markets were always liable to be glutted with foreign corn. The noble lord here minutely detailed the terms of his propositions. It was to be observed, that a few years ago, instead of foreign importations being viewed with alarm, the prevalent fear was that there would not be enough corn to import from Europe, and America was looked to with satisfaction as a resource. A return to that state of things might be contemplated. He denied also that 8s. could cover the expense of importation and the merchant's profit. He, too, must be a very fortunate importer who could be sure of an immediate market. If he failed in getting a market 5s. might be put on every quarter, for every year that it continued warehoused. The hon. member for Cumberland, fell into a great error in supposing, that because wheat could now be procured at Dantzic at 32s. in a small quantity, that it could be procured to alt eternity at the same price, and to any amount. Under the resolutions he proposed the ports were to be only open three months at a time; in the first instance, when corn reached 80s. and afterwards when it reached 70s. The question then was, whether in three months, when wheat was burthened with a duty of 17s. per quarter, such a quantity could come in as would do any permanent injury to the agricultural interest. This resolution gave a security that corn should not be poured in beyond the wants of the country. Under the present law there was no such security. It was as convenient to the corn merchant, when the ports were open, under the present law, to bring his corn here as to keep it in Holland. Indeed, there was a premium for him to rush and take possession of the soil of the country; but, under the resolutions he proposed the speculators would hardly rush in rashly when they would be subjected in the outset to a positive expense of 27s. It seemed to him, that the judgments of the landed interest had been misled. He could partake of their zeal and respect it, but he could not enter into the operation of their minds when they expressed such excessive alarm. If his suggestion were open to attack, he had rather expected that it would have been blamed for leaning too much towards agriculture. Ministers felt no disposition to withdraw from the landed interest the protection of the existing law; they only submitted that a different mode of protection would be more beneficial. The turn of the scale was decidedly in favour of the agriculturist.

Mr. D. Browne

approved of the import price as well as of the duty proposed by the hon. member for Cumberland. He was an advocate for the prohibition of the importation of foreign grain, on the ground that if the farmer was secured in the possession of the home market, the united kingdom could produce corn sufficient for the consumption of its inhabitants.

Mr. Robertson

entered into some historical details relative to the state of France previous to the seven years war, and to the change that took place during that war, by which France became a country importing, instead of exporting, grain. While she was a flourishing commercial state she ceased to pay the same attention to her agriculture. He compared with this the state of Great Britain, which had exported grain until she took from France her colonies in both the hemispheres. She then became an importing country. After the breaking out of the American war, when France and Spain united against Great Britain, when she was no longer mistress of the channel, and her commerce was crippled and reduced, her agriculture revived, and, from 1780 to 1784, she again became a country exporting grain. On the re-establishment of peace, her trade recovered; her revenue, of only 10 millions, augmented one fifth in the space of two years; she once more imported grain and so she continued until the end of the last war. The hon. gentleman concluded with calling upon government to protect and advance commerce, as the best mode of securing the welfare of all classes, and of giving the farmer a remunerating price for his production.

Mr. Lockhart

said, he did not desire such an amount of taxes to be taken off, as would endanger the safety of the public creditor; but he must say, that unless such a degree of protection was afforded, as would remunerate the cultivator of the soil, the ruin of the agricultural interest was inevitable. If the House did not repeal taxes, so as to enable the agriculturist to continue their present expenditure, they would be obliged to deprive themselves of many of their accustomed luxuries; and, perhaps, in a philosophical view, their happiness would not be much diminished by such a necessity. It had been said by some writer, that private vices or luxuries were public benefits; if so, they were benefits which would soon cease to exist. It had been frequently asserted, that the land was mortgaged to the public creditor. Now, he had looked into all the acts of parliament, and he could not find it stated in any one of them, that the land was pledged in any way to the public creditor, except in so far as it was affected by the land-tax, and the window-tax, which might be repealed to-morrow. If, therefore, the prosperity of the land-owners were so far invaded, that an attempt should be made to seize their lands, he should be disposed to say, in the language of our Henry, "Come and take them;" for unless they could produce a positive act of parliament for their warrant, he should no more feel himself bound to submit to such an unjust visitation, than to yield to the invasion of a hostile foe. He hoped the noble lord and his colleagues would take such measures as might avert these sad extremities. They had the only efficient remedy in their hands, namely, such a remission of taxes, as would afford effectual relief, without endangering the public credit.

Sir C. Burrell

was not disposed to give protection to agriculture beyond what was just to the other interests of the country. But he had alway seen that in proportion as agriculture nourished, the other interests were also prosperous. To support agriculture would be to support the country; he should therefore vote for the resolution of the noble lord.

Sir H. Vivian

said, he was not one of those who attributed the distressed state of agriculture to taxation. The hon member for York had, on the preceding evening, proposed a reduction of taxes to the amount of 20,000,000l. Now, such a reduction could not be made without manifest injustice to the public creditors. But, supposing it possible to remit taxes to that extent, would not the subtracting such a sum from the revenue, and consequently from the circulation of the country, add to the prevailing distress, instead of diminishing it? The hon. member for Corfe-castle had drawn a very feeling picture of the wretched state in which the agricultural labourer would be placed, if he were compelled to exchange the pure air which he usually breathed, for the fetid atmosphere of a manufactory. But, might he not look at the other side, and ask, how was it possible for the manufacturer, who had been all his life accustomed to breath the close air of a factory, to perform work which required all its exertions out of doors? The interest of both those classes were bound up together, and whatever tended to injure the one could not benefit the other. The last corn bill gave a sufficient protection to the agriculturist. He thought they ought to depart as little as possible from that measure; and therefore he should vote for the proposition of the noble marquis.

Sir J. Shelley

thought the proposition of the noble marquis would do some good, and that it was at all events better than the existing state of the corn laws.

Mr. Whitmore

conceived the great cause of the present distress to be overproduction. Not that he imagined, when a country stood in a natural situation, that an abundant crop could be considered an evil. In ordinary cases, where there was a large growth of corn in one part of the world, there was a defective crop in another, and the prices in consequence equallized themselves. But this was not at present the case. The circumstances of the war gave a considerable stimulus to agricultural speculations; corn was grown, at an immense expense, on poor soils; it produced very high prices; and the price of every article connected with farming was raised in proportion. The amount of capital employed, when prices were high, was, therefore, much greater than when prices were low. The capital employed in cultivating 100 acres of land in 1790, 1803, and 1813, was widely different. The amount of capital employed in the last period, as compared with the first, was no less than double. Large quantities of corn were grown during the war at a great expense. The effect of the bill of 1815 was, to keep up the stimu- lus, which had caused extensive agricultural speculations; and a series of abundant crops ensuing, created the glut which existed at this moment. When the price of corn, was high, or sufficient to remunerate the farmer, he laid out considerable sums on his lands, and was content to pay a heavy rent. But when corn fell in value to any great extent, the capital which he was expected to lay out, and the rent he was obliged to pay, were out of tall proportion to what he received. The law of 1815, led to the most injurious consequences. It induced the farmer in the first instance, to incur an immense expense, for which, it was pretty clear, he would net, be finally remunerated. When the farmer was thus situated, he would deal hardly with the land. He would extract as much as he could from it, at the least possible expense he would impoverish it, and in that state it would reverts to the landowner. Agricultural labour was also affected by the system on which the bill of 1815 was founded. Labour, in the long run, must bear some proportion to the price of food. When food was high, it produced a fair remuneration for the labourer; but when food was very low, and the farmer in distress, he did all he could to economise, and his first step was to reduce the price of labour below what it ought to be. It was clear, therefore, that the labourer did not benefit by the low price of corn. With respect to the amount of duty in the noble lord's resolution, he thought it too high. The resolution of the hon. member for Portarlington was liable to the same objection. But he preferred the latter on account of its tendency to give steadiness to prices.

Mr. Western

said, the more he considered the question, the more he was convinced that this was not the proper time to legislate upon it. No member had clearly comprehended the whole bearing of the actual circumstances of the court, try, or the consequences of enacting a permanent law in our present unsettled state. The most vague ideas prevailed on the subject of our difficulties. He would take the premises of those who supported the resolutions, and would show that they did not warrant the conclusion to which they had come. If, as they asserted, every country of Europe teemed with a superabundant produce, and if the markets were in an unnatural state of depression, was this the time to proceed to the forma- tion of permanent protecting duties? A scale of prices adapted to present circumstances might be too high for permanent protection; and a permanent scale might be insufficient in the existing state of the markets of Europe. Were not the prices of corn on the continent, for the last twenty-five years, estimated in our paper currency, and, therefore, liable to all its fluctuations? Were not the Dantzic prices regulated by the state of the British markets, and therefore affected by the depreciation of our currency? Would it trait, then, be unwise to look at those prices as the foundation of any prospective regulation? He was prepared to contend now, as he had often done, that the present state of the currency was incompatible with the safety of the country. He would follow the advice of the hon. member for Corfe-castle, and refuse to legislate permanently, until he could form a clearer judgment of what measure ought to be adopted.

Mr. Alderman Heygate

thought the proposed measures of the noble marquis would do more mischief to the agriculturists than that under which they now laboured. Something, however, should be done, and it was only in consideration of the necessity of the case that he could be brought to vote in favour of any protecting duty. The propositions before the House were so numerous and so complicated, that it was difficult to understand them. He was most inclined to the plan of the hon. member for Cumberland; but he would vote for no plan which did not Contain a clause to remit the duty in the event of the price of corn rising so high as to indicate the approach of scarcity.

Mr. Ricardo

denied that the price of corn on the continent was liable to the fluctuations of our currency.

The committee then divided on lord Althorp's Amendment, to fix a permanent duty of 18s. on wheat, and other, grain in proportion: For the Amendment 24. Against it 201

List of the Minority.
Boughey, sir J. F. Dickinson, W.
Burrell, sir C. Gordon, hon. R.
Bankes, H. Griffith, J. W.
Bennet, hon. H. G. Guise, sir W.
Buxton, J. J. Hudson, H.
Brougham, H. Knatchbull, sir E.
Byng, G. Lockhart, W. E.
Barham, J. F. Leycester, R.
Calvert, N. Ossulston, lord
Curwen, J. C. Robinson, sir G.
Shelley, sir J. TELLER.
Webb, Ed. Althorp, lord
Western, C.

A second division took place on Mr. Ricardo's propositions for a duty of 20s. per quarter of wheat, when the price shall rise above 80s. to lower 1s. a year for ten years, and for 10s. being the permanent duty, and 7s. the bounty afterwards. Ayes, 25. Noes, 218.

List of the Minority.
Althorp, lord Langston, J. H.
Birch, Jos. Marjoribanks, S.
Brougham, H. Maberly, J.
Barnard, lord Newport, rt. hon. sir J.
Beaumont, T. W. Phillips, G.
Becher, W. W. Rumbold, C. E.
Carter, J. Robinson, sir G.
Davies, col. Smith, G.
Denison, W. J. Scarlett, J.
Evans, W. Thompson, W.
Haldimand, W. Whitmore, W. W.
Hume, J. TELLER.
Lamb, hon. G. Ricardo, D.
Lamb, hon. W.

The committee then divided on the marquis of Londonderry's third resolution. [See p. 190]. Ayes, 218. Noes, 36.

List of the Minority.
Attwood, M. Heygate, Ald.
Bankes, H. Hudson, H.
Byng, G. Lambton, J. G.
Barham, J. F. Lockhart, J. I.
Calvert, C. Monck, J. B.
Campbell, hon. G. P. Monteith, H.
Campbell, A Normanby, visct.
Curwen, J. C. Ossulston, lord
Calvert, N. Rickford, W.
Cavendish, hon. H. Sumner, H.
Cheere, C.M. Tavistock, marquis of
Dickinson, W. Whitbread, J. S.
Dickinson, W Whitbread, J. S.
Duncannon, visct. Williams, J.
Ellice, E. Wigram, W.
Fitzory, lord C. Wilson, sir R.
Griffith, J. W. Wood, alderman
Gaskell, B. Wells, John
Gladstone, John TELLER.
Guise, sir W. Bennet, hon. H. G.

The Marquis of Londonderry stated, that it was not his intention to found any proposition upon his second resolution, relative to the grinding of foreign corn in warehouse. The rest of the resolutions were agreed to.