§ Mr. Hume
said, he held in his hand a petition from the incorporation of guildry of the city of Brechin, praying for a speedy revision of the Corn-laws. The petition stated, that the admission by ministers of foreign grain, was a measure of prudence and necessity, and the petitioners were unanimous in their expression of that opinion. The concluding part of the petition prayed the House not to adopt half measures with regard to the Corn-laws, but so to deal with them as to remove the necessity of ministers having again to claim an indemnity from parliament for effecting a public good. The hon. member then claimed the indulgence of the House while he referred to a report in a daily paper, tending, as he said, to injure him in the eyes of the country. He was well aware of the malice and inveterate rancour pursued towards him by some individuals connected with the public press, who gave publication to a series of calumnies that seriously affected his character. He hoped, however, that the time was not far distant when the imputations under which he laboured would be satisfactorily cleared up, by a full explanation of the circumstances which had given rise to them. The hon. member then said, in alluding to the report in question, that at the close of his observations respecting the corn question, a few nights ago, when he called upon ministers not to postpone the consideration of that important measure, as the peace of the country and the interest of the people at large would not admit of delay, it was asserted that he was coughed down. Had such been the case, it would certainly not have been the first time that the House had signified a wish that he should not say more; but he begged to state, that his meaning on the occasion alluded to was only partly given, and to say that he experienced in that House such treatment was only adding to the calumnies with which he was constantly assailed. He had too much confidence in the indulgence of the House, and the favour of the Speaker, to suppose that such treatment would have been pursued 144 towards him. He stated then, and he now begged leave to repeat the sentence, which at the time he delivered it, did not appear to have been understood. His words were, "The broad principle of the Corn-laws involved not only the interest of the people, but the peace of the country," and that, therefore, "the consideration of that question could not with safety be postponed." The latter part of that sentence was not given, and he felt it a duty to himself that his meaning should not be withheld. He regretted that he did not see the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his place, as he wished to have asked the right hon. gentleman whether it was the serious intention of government to postpone the question of the Corn-laws. It was notorious that the country was labouring under the greatest distress; and if any serious mischief should arise from an over pressure of calamity, that mischief might fairly be attributed to the postponement of this most vital question. So earnestly did he feel the necessity of an early consideration of the Corn-laws, that if ministers should determine to defer its discussion, he would himself endeavour to induce the House to bring in a bill for the admission of foreign corn. The hon. gentleman proceeded to contend, that the fears of the country gentlemen were considerably over-stated with reference to the corn question; and nothing, he maintained, but a fair and full discussion of the subject could bring its bearings fairly before the public, with a view to the interest of all classes. He hoped the observations which he threw thus loosely together, would not be lost upon the House; and that it would not separate for three months without coming to some decision on a question of such paramount importance as the Corn-laws.
§ Mr. Hurst
said, he could assure the House that the landed interest did not by any means feel the alarm on the subject of the Corn-laws which was attributed to them. He for one had a full confidence in the wisdom of the House, and was satisfied that it would not proceed to legislate on such a subject without maturely weighing the interests of all parties concerned. It was desirable that it should be soon disposed of, as landlords at present were embarrassed upon what terms to let their lands.
§ Ordered to lie on the table.