HC Deb 17 May 1826 vol 15 cc1203-5

On the order of the day for bringing up there-port of this bill,

Sir T. Lethbridge

said, he did not object to the report being brought up, but he rose to take the last opportunity of saying one word against the measure. He should not give any opposition to it in its present stage, because such opposition would be useless and vexatious. He submitted to the superior wisdom of his majesty's government backed by a large respectable and powerful majority in the House; and he could not disguise from his view, that the measure had also been supported elsewhere in a manner equally strong, and equally setting at nought any thing like opposition. He should for these reasons feel exceedingly blameable in his own estimation, if he attempted to give one moment's further opposition. He considered, however, that all his majesty's ministers had given a pledge that nothing that had been done in consequence of the present exigency would prevent this or the other branch of the legislature from entertaining any measure for the general adjustment of the Corn-laws—that nothing which might now be passed into a law as to the mode of opening the ports, or as to fixing duties, should prejudice the general question when that was brought before the House. He took that opportunity of entering his protest against any thing of the sort being drawn into a precedent; and he did this in spite of all the intimidations he had received from quarters which he despised from the very bottom of his heart, and which intimidations he knew had been sent to him in order to stop the honest expression of his opinions, which he had presumed to utter in the discharge of the duty which he owed to the country at large. No degree of intimidation, however gross, personal, or dangerous it might be, should ever deter him from the discharge of his conscientious duty. He was, therefore, the more earnest in entering this solemn protest, from his having been personally insulted by individuals, whose menaces he had treated with the most profound contempt. He therefore hoped the government would recollect that they had given such a pledge, and as the parliament had thrown the responsibility on them, he trusted they would use their power with discretion, in the event of the contingency occurring which they contemplated.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. baronet, he had no hesitation in saying, upon the subject of the pledge which the hon. baronet had understood his majesty's government to have given, as to the mode in which the proceedings of this year might operate on the decision of the House in the next, that he could assure the hon. baronet he thought it would be the shabbiest course any government could by possibility adopt, if they were to depart one iota from the pledge they had given, and which he was quite ready to repeat; namely, that the decision the House came to on this occasion as to this measure, ought not, and could not, be taken to prejudge, in any way, the fair discussion of the main question, whenever it should be brought under consideration. With respect to what the hon. baronet had said of intimidations applied to him, he was sure it was quite consistent with the hon. baronet's character, to treat such intimidations with the contempt they deserved.

Mr. H. Sumner

said, he concurred in the general measures of his majesty's government, because he considered them characterised by wisdom and candour; but the present measure he considered unwise and uncalled for, and he regretted he had not pushed his opposition to it still further, in order that the county which he had the honour to represent, might have had an opportunity of petitioning the House on the subject. A meeting was, in fact, held for that purpose on Saturday, but, in consequence of the bill having passed through the committee, their object had been defeated.

Sir R. Heron

considered that the present measures could do no harm, because they would be inoperative. One of the evil consequences flowing from these discussions, was to generate a belief that the interests of the agriculturists and the manufacturers were opposed; whereas, in fact, they were one and the same. If he yielded his consent to the bringing up the report now, it was certainly most reluctantly. The landed gentlemen would have consulted their own interests by having opposed the measure in every, stage; and if he saw any encouragement, he would divide the House now.

The report was then brought up, and the resolutions agreed to.