§ Mr. C. Grant moved the order of the day, for the House resolving itself into a Committee of the whole House on the Corn Laws. On the motion, that the Speaker do leave the chair,
§ Mr. Leycester
thought the proposed resolutions highly objectionable. They tended to create a scarcity at one time, and a glut at another. The consequence would be, that the consumer would be injured by there being no importation at a period when importation was most wanted, and the grower would be injured by there being an excess of foreign grain in the market at a period when he could least afford it.
Mr. R. King
said, that with the present state of the currency and the existing taxation, it would be impossible to afford to agriculturists that protection to which they were entitled. The House could not divest the consideration of the Corn question from that of the currency; and the principle of the currency ought to be brought into full operation, before any decision was come to on the present subject. He could not forget, that the return to cash payments had been attended with more ruinous consequences to the agricul- 142 turist than any thing that had been brought about by the war. But, in urging the necessity of affording protection to the landed interest, he disclaimed the slightest wish of subjecting the manufacturing classes to a burthen which they could not bear. Nothing was further from his intention.
§ The House then went into the committee, and the chairman read the resolutions seriatim.
§ Mr. Benett
said, he flattered himself that the resolutions he was about to propose were so nearly like those submitted by the right hon. gentleman opposite, that he would at once accede to them. The resolutions he had drawn up, also approached very nearly to those which the hon. member for Dorsetshire moved last year. He proposed, then, that when the price was under 56s. per quarter, imperial measure, the duty should be 38s. 8d., that duty to decrease 2s. for every increase of 1s. in price. When the price reached 70s., he proposed that the duty should decrease '3s. for every rise of 1s. in price. It appeared to be conceded on all hands, that a fair profit must be allowed to the cultivator of the land, otherwise it could not be expected that he could pay his rates, and that proportion of taxation which was incidental to the land. He, for one, thought, that the protection ought to be extended to 62s. 8d. He agreed with government as to the precise point of price from whence the ascending and descending scale of duty ought to start. That, indeed, was now, it might be said, conceded as a given point, by almost all persons interested in the question. It appeared to be the principle of the government scale of duties for the present year, that for every shilling that wheat diminished in price from 62s., a duty of an additional shilling per quarter was to be added. Thus, the duty on wheat, when the price was 62s. being fixed and conceded at 24s. 8d.; upon the price falling to 61s., the duty became 25s. 8d.; when 60., 26s. 8d.; when 59s., 27s. 8d.; and so on until the price reached 55s., when the duty was to be 31s. 8d. Such was the proposed scale of government to afford protection to the agriculturist. Instead of this protection, which he considered objectionable in several respects, he should, in the course of the evening, propose a scale of duties which, taking 62s. as the medium or pivot price, were to be arranged so as to create on every shilling 143 which wheat decreased in price, an increase of duty to the extent of 2s. Taking, therefore, the duty at 24s. 8d. on wheat at 62s., when it fell to 61s. the duty would rise, according to his plan, to 26s. 8d.; when it fell to 60s., the duty would rise to 28s. 8d.; and when it reached the minimum 55s., it would be exactly 38s. 8d. per quarter. The difference between his principle and that of government was, that he put the higher rate of duty on the lower-priced corn imported, which was the sort of protection the agricultural interest required; instead of which, the scale of duties proposed by government, put the higher rate of duty on the higher priced corn imported; which was, in fact, not the description of protection they felt would be desirable. His project would extend protection, through the medium of the duties he proposed, so as to be sensibly felt, to 56s. per quarter as the importation price; whilst that offered the agriculturists, through the government scale, was only sensibly felt to the extent of 58s. per quarter. The protection afforded by the resolutions of 1827, and those now under consideration, corresponded so far as respected the importation price of wheat at 58s.; and here was the only instance in which they were alike. In both these scales the duty was 28s. 8d., whereas his would, in this instance, be a duty of 32s. 8d. He certainly wished to have the agriculturist effectively protected against an influx of foreign grain, until the price of wheat reached 62s. per quarter, which was as high a protection as he could get from ministers, or from that House. The scale of last year's duty had the effect of creating a protection to the landed interest of 1s. more per quarter than that of the scale now proposed by government. He begged to be understood, that his was not a proposition to increase the scale of duties, but to increase the protection which all admitted it was desirable to extend to the agriculturalists; and also a proposition which tended to decrease that scale of duties, When they were no longer so essential as a protection to the land-owner, whilst they must necessarily have the effect of protecting the importer of foreign wheat, after corn had risen to the pivot price; as they very perceptibly decreased when the price attained 62s., contrasted with the duties recommended to the adoption of the House by his majesty's govern- 144 ment. It was admitted on all hands, that it was for the interest of the community that protection should be given to the agriculturist, in order to enable him to meet the heavy demands on the land in the way of rates, and other liabilities; but the most important of all admissions was, that it was not possible England could reckon on a regular supply adequate to its wants, except from its own agricultural means.—The right hon. gentleman opposite had remarked, that if his resolutions were agreed to by the House, the agriculturist would experience a protection, as long as the price was not above 58s. He could not see how this could be, if wheat could be imported from the continent at 29s. 4d. per quarter. With the duty at 28s. 8d., it was clear that wheat might be imported at 29s. 4d. into this country. All this proved the fallacy of the assumption of last year, that wheat could not be imported into this country without paying for it in foreign ports, a price amounting to 34s. per quarter; because, if the scale of duty fixed by last year's resolutions was, at 58s., 28s. 8d., then it must be clear the price left to the importer, when the duty should have been paid, would not exceed, including all charges of transit and freight, 29s. 4d. This was a fair specimen of the fallacious style of the arguments he had to contend with. Indeed, so far from this being true, corn of the best quality had been imported last year, in any quantity, and all expenses paid thereon, at so low a price to the importer as 22s. per quarter [" No, no," from Mr. C. Grant.] He had taken considerable pains in forming the calculations on which he framed his propositions, and he had every reason to believe they were correct. Hence he was emboldened to assert, that, with an import duty of 28s. 8d., there was left a clear remuneration to the importer of 29s. 4d., when wheat was selling in this country at 58s. It was clear, then, that he only sought from the committee a fair protecting duty to the agriculturist at home. When the price rose to 62s., which was considered high, then, as the duty was no more than 24s. 8d., the importer had 37s. 4d. given him for the wheat he brought here. He felt disposed to decrease the duty rapidly after wheat had passed 62s.; for the higher it rose the less the agriculturist required any protection. But he had good reason to believe, that it was 145 not so much in the contemplation of government to increase the protection to the landed proprietor, as to create a permanent source of revenue through the medium of these duties. If such was the object of government, he would suggest a few alterations which would accomplish that object. It had been said, in arguing this question, that notwithstanding the great fall which had taken place in the price of wheat, from 62s. to 52s., the agricultural interest had not suffered proportionally in the price received for the article thus raised from the land, but the difference of price was repaid by the fall experienced in the remuneration for manual labour; or, in other words, that the farmer had squeezed the difference out of the wages of the labourer. Now, this reduction in the price of manual labour was effected in consequence of what was said of the demand for labour having decreased, whilst the supply of labourers continued the same: yet, said the hon. gentleman who was opposed to him in principle, the seven million sterling thus alleged to be lost to the agriculturist in the price of his corn, were not lost to him in consequence of the great depreciation in the price of labourer's wages. He believed all this part of the argument proceeded on a false assumption. He thought there was no surplus of labour, at least no permanent surplus. That there was a surplus occasionally, no one would deny: more especially must that event take place in a country full of manufactures like this. What was now heard of the surplus labour amongst the silk and other weavers, which gave so much concern within and without those walls some time back? There seemed to some on the opposite bench, so little chance of their being employed, that a project was hinted at, for sending them as colonists to Canada. But they did not go out; the evil remedied itself. The same might be said of the carpet-weavers, who were so very generally out of employment a short time since. They had been a few days ago—such was the demand for labour in this branch of our manufacture—nearly in a state of open rebellion for high wages. This must always be the case in a great manufacturing country. Where, then, was the proof that there was a superabundance of labour? Now, he would take upon him to assure the committee, if they only gave to the agriculturist 62s., 60s., or even 58s., which it 146 was admitted was 2s. less than they were in fairness entitled to, the House would be troubled no more with any attempt to prove that there was a surplus labour in this country which could not be employed.—In stating his impression on this subject, he spoke as a citizen of this great State, although himself an agriculturist. The independence of England on other countries, in respect to a supply of the necessaries of life, was, next to its general prosperity, the wish uppermost in his heart. A strange argument had lately been adduced against affording the agriculturist the protection he solicited. It was said that, during years when the agricultural interest had been protected, we had low prices: and it was thence inferred, that as high prices were better for the agriculturist than low prices, it would be more desirable, even to themselves, that the agriculturist should have no protection afforded him against the foreign grower. But that was an argument both weak and dangerous: for there was little doubt, if no such protection was afforded, that famine would, in some instances, be the result. The farmer, when his stack-yard was full, would be glad to part with wheat whenever it bore a remunerating price; whilst the great capitalist could afford to hoard up his imported wheat in his granaries. He felt the necessity for protection from the comparatively low-priced wheat, so as to encourage our own agriculture. After it rose much above 62s. it was of no service or value to our own growers. A state of dependency, as to the main article of food, on other countries, or even on our own government, was very unwise. Mark its effects in China, where, in despite of the providence of their paternal government, as it was called, starvation and famine were often the result. The best public granary was the farmer's stackyard, who was constantly compelled by his own pressing wants to part with his grain, which he could not, by the by, conceal; whilst the mercantile speculator hoarded it up in secresy in his granary waiting for high prices. If there were any thing more certain to produce high prices than another, it would be found in a prohibition or a discouragement to home cultivation. He trusted that the right hon. gentleman, to whom this important arrangement had been confided, would feel that as all his objects could be accomplished by adopting the scale which 147 he had now submitted to the House, comprising, amongst other advantages, a lower average of duty generally, a higher duty on low-priced foreign grain, and a comparatively trifling duty on the higher, would not hesitate to adopt those resolutions, which would not only accomplish all that was desirable for the welfare and supply of the community, but prove most satisfactory to that class of his fellow-subjects whose interests he had the honour that evening to advocate. The hon. member then submitted his string of resolutions, the first of which was read from the Chair as follows:—" That when the price of wheat in our market shall be under 56s. the quarter, imperial measure, the duty payable on the importation of foreign wheat into any of the ports of this country shall be 38s. 8d. per quarter."
§ Mr. W. Whitmore
said, he trusted the House would afford a patient attention to the subject, and that every member would conceive it to be his duty to attend to the statements of those who, from peculiar circumstances, felt deeply interested in the question. He confessed he was dissatisfied with the scale proposed by the hon. member for Wiltshire, as well as with that proposed by government. He firmly believed that a high scale of restrictive duties would not save the interests of the agriculturists. It was not difficult to foresee what would be the effect of the introduction of a scale of duties arising so rapidly as those now before the committee. No duty, perhaps, ever could be proposed that would be effectual in keeping out foreign corn. He therefore did not wonder at the statement of the hon. member for Newcastle, who had said that it could be imported at 24s. All the arguments which supported this or that rate of duty were founded on the restrictive system; and that restrictive system itself was founded on principles and opinions so erroneous, as to constitute the great evil under which the country was suffering. If this country were to exclude itself from the corn market of the world, it would artificially create a higher scale of prices, than if the trade was left to its natural operation. He could quote, in confirmation of this opinion, the report of Mr. Jacob, which was one of the most valuable documents, both with regard to reasoning and information, that ever was laid before the House. In that report Mr. Jacob maintained the doctrine he had just 148 stated, and after making an estimate of the expense of carrying grain by land, had inferred, that when it was necessary to transport grain two hundred miles by land, the expense of carriage would absorb the whole of the original price, even taking that price at a high average. Another part of the subject which appeared to him of immense consequence was the effect of these measures upon the supply of corn. He begged leave to remind the House, that in 1823, a period of great agricultural distress, he had ventured to say, that they might look forward, within a short time, to the return of high prices. Notwithstanding the effects that had been produced since, he felt himself justified in saying, that the data on which he then proceeded were correct; for if he was in error, it was only because he had not contemplated the extraordinary circumstances which had since taken place, and especially the great importations from abroad. The fact, however, was certain, that since 1823, there had been a diminution of production in corn to the extent of four millions of quarters, or about six hundred thousand quarters annually. In truth, the country wanted every quarter that she could draw from abroad to meet her own consumption. So that the great alarm which was felt by some, lest the supply should be limited, or endangered, by throwing open her ports to the reception of corn, belonged to the opposite system, and not to that. Mr. Jacob had entered upon that subject also, and though Mr. Jacob's figures were different from his, the calculations of both led to the same result. Indeed, if he had taken Mr. Jacob's figures, he should have made out a still stronger case than he had established by his own data. Mr. Jacob had estimated the falling-off, not at four millions, but at six millions, nine hundred thousand quarters. If gentlemen would only reflect on the bearing which that part of the subject had upon the production of food, it could not fail to impress them with a due sense of its importance. The restrictive system was the evil against which they were bound to guard: while that lasted, they must suffer the inconvenience of an artificial system; and no man could calculate to what a frightful extent it might eventually proceed. Instead of exercising their ingenuity to get a shilling more, or a shilling less, they would best consult their own interest, and 149 that of the country, by meeting the question on the broad principle of restriction or no restriction. He would say, not only that the restrictive system was bad, but that its effects would be felt more and more, in proportion as our population advanced. In this part of the argument Mr. Jacob agreed with him again. According to his statement, the population of Europe had increased, since the year 1815, twenty-eight or twenty-nine millions, and that of England and Ireland within the same period three millions, five hundred thousand. If the population went on thus, and the system still continued to be persisted in, the subject must sooner or later force itself on the attention of the legislature, in a manner that could not be disregarded. The great principle for which he contended was free trade: if they preferred an artificial position to the high natural one which their country seemed destined to occupy, they must expect to reap a fatal harvest. In 1816, which was a year of great deficiency, the price was high of course; but looking to the average prices since 1815, they would find that no conclusion would be drawn favourable to their view of the subject. The average prices from 1815 would lead to the conclusion, that though there was a rise of price for a time, it was followed by a strong re-action and a rapid fall. Such was the evidence borne by experience to the inefficacy of the law of 1815. In fact, it was not a benefit, but an injury; for though the price was a little raised in 1818, it was followed by the greatest import that ever was known—an import which emptied all the granaries of Europe. Since that period it was true that a moderate price had prevailed. But why?—because a want of confidence in the law prevented the embarkation of property to the extent that might otherwise be expected in the purchase of foreign corn. If the law of 1815 had been in operation during the years 1824 and 1825, the spirit of speculation which was then running riot in all the other branches of trade, would have swept every granary in the world; a re-action would soon have followed, and the same ruin would have been experienced in the corn trade which had visited the rest. Restrictive laws, so far from operating as a protection, added wings to the fluctuation which they were intended to remedy. If a regular trade in corn was allowed, the agricultural interest would be 150 materially benefited. It was for their advantage to have a natural not an artificial basis to their trade; and he spoke advisedly when he said, that since the period when those laws were first adopted, the value of land had not increased. It was his wish to have proposed some resolutions, but being precluded by the forms of the House from doing so at the present moment, he should content himself with saying, that he considered the measures now proposed so utterly at variance with sound principles of legislation and the true interests of the country, that he should oppose them upon all occasions, as founded upon the miserable, paltry, absurd, and ridiculous, system of exclusion.
The amendment of Mr. Benett, by which the duty was to decrease by 2s. instead of 1s. when the price was at 62s., till it reached 67s., was then put, and the gallery was cleared for a division, but none took place. On the admission of strangers,
Mr. Secretary Peel
was contending, that the protection which the bill would afford to the agriculturist was abundantly sufficient. After stating various returns of the prices of corn at Guernsey and Jersey, and of the price at which it could be imported from those islands into this country, he proceeded to observe that the facts that, when the duty was 26s. 8d., only two thousand quarters of foreign corn had found its way into the home market; and that at Rotterdam, where there was a free trade in corn, 31s. and 32s. were the average prices, established the fact, that there could be no importation of foreign corn sufficient to check the agriculture of this country; and, therefore, that it was not necessary to increase the duty.
§ Mr. Portman
said, that in answer to the Guernsey case, which had been adverted to by the right hon. gentleman, he would refer to the case of Rostock. Sir Claude Scott, when he was examined before the Lords' committee last year, had said that corn could then be imported from Rostock to London at 22s. a quarter. When asked, why it could be imported at so low a rate, his answer was, that wheat had accumulated there for want of a market. Such, he would contend, would be the case on the occurrence of every good harvest; and at those periods corn would be at the price just mentioned. The next question put to sir C. Scott 151 was, what was the quality of the corn to which he had alluded? The answer was, that it was such as would be bought by any miller in this country—sweet, sound, and good. The Rostock case, therefore, might be fairly set against the Guernsey case. When asked the prices at which corn might be imported into this country from Dantzic, sir C. Scott answered, from 27s. to 30s. Now it was clear that, if foreign corn could come into the English market at 56s., the agriculture of this country had no protection. In the report of the Lords' committee, the price of wheat, in the preceding year, at Dantzic and Hamburgh was detailed. It appeared that at Dantzic, in the first quarter, it was 29s., in the second 27s., in the third 20s., in the fourth, 28s. It also appeared that at Hamburgh, in the first quarter, it was 29s. 6d., in the second, 21s. 4d., in the third, 23s., and in the fourth, 22s. 9d. The hon. member then made some quotations from Mr. Jacob's second report, and contended, that under the present scheme, the importation of foreign corn would, in certain circumstances of the country, interfere greatly with the farmer, and place him in a worse situation than through a bad harvest. He believed that government was disposed to give protection to the British farmer, but that protection was not afforded by the present resolutions.
said, the hon. member had relied on a statement of sir C. Scott respecting a single cargo in 1826, from Swedish Pomerania, at 23s. the quarter; but sir C. Scott, on being asked in the committee if that was not a low price, had answered, that it was the lowest price he ever remembered.
§ Mr. Leslie Foster
began by remarking upon the absurdity of the apprehensions which some agriculturists entertained with respect to the importation of foreign wheat. The lowest average price, he had heard, was about 32s. and the duty would be 34s.; which made the price of the wheat 66s. if sold in this country. He had always been as much afraid of too much protection as of too little; for he considered the one likely to have an effect as injurious to the interests of the agriculturists as the other. If they could induce the government of the country to give them too much protection, the consequence would be, that they must lose it in a moment of famine and distress, when all laws proved unavailing; and when 152 they had thus lost it, the prejudices of the people against such a system would be so strong, that they would never recover it. He was disposed to support the present measure, because he saw in it concessions of substantial importance to the interests of the agriculturists. Some persons were disposed to moderate these concessions; but they ought to recollect, that the great pinch with the agriculturists was when the price reached between 58s. and 65s. A great deal had been said about the prices of corn in foreign ports, and the low rate at which it was purchased in Dantzic and Lubeck, and in Bremen and Rostock; but what he wished hon. gentlemen to direct their attention to was the fair average price for a series of years. In the port of Rotterdam, where importation was allowed free of all duty, the fair average price for the last seven years had been 32s. a quarter; and this he considered the fair average price of the continent of Europe during that period. The price to which he alluded was the price of Rotterdam, without any demand from England during that period, and therefore must be taken as a minimum price; but when the ports of this country were opened to importation, he had no doubt the price would immediately rise much higher. If, however, the opening of the ports of this country should have the effect of raising the prices of the continent for a short period, its ultimate effect would be to bring the poorer lands of those countries into cultivation, and thereby to bring the price below the comparative standard of England. It was therefore, he contended, that this was strictly a question of degree; and although he had not before voted with ministers on any corn bill, he was now disposed to give them his support, because their proposition enabled the country to resort with safety to the continent, through their speculators at home, when the state of the harvest rendered it expedient.
§ Mr. Huskisson
wished to make one observation respecting the price of wheat on the continent. According to the evidence of Mr. Jacob, the actual price of wheat at Mecklenburgh, for a course of six years, was 25s. 10d. The best was shipped for this country; but even the best was much inferior to English wheat. Supposing the price of English wheat 60s. the quarter, that shipped at Mecklenburgh would be inferior by 8s., and in that case there 153 could be no profit to the grower. Was it possible to say that, when wheat at Rostock was 22s., and the price in this country was 58s., there could be a sufficient remuneration to the foreign grower, after the expenses of freight and duty? From all that he could learn, he was convinced that 60s. was a fair remuneration to the agriculturist.
§ Mr. Ward
doubted very much whether 35s. was not much nearer the medium price of foreign wheat than 30s. In determining a question of this kind, they ought to look to the quantity which might be imported. If they bought one million of quarters, the price might be about 35s.; but if the demand came to five millions, then the price of foreign corn would be much higher. He thought the present scale much too high; but as there was little probability of obtaining a better at the present moment, he would support the resolutions.
§ Sir T. Gooch
said, he had listened to all the arguments brought forward for and against the measure, and could honestly state, that until now he had not come, in his own mind, to any satisfactory conclusion. His mind was now, however, made up, that the system produced to the House by his majesty's government was preferable to any that had yet been propounded. He had taken some pains to collect the average prices of wheat at all the northern ports for some time past, and he found that, taking the cost, or export price, at 25s. per quarter, the duty on importation at 29s., and freightage at about 8s., the price of such wheat, when brought into this market, would be about 62s. Now, would any man in his senses speculate on such a price? As all classes of the community were concerned in this important question, a little should be given, and a little taken on both sides. The agriculturists, therefore, and the manufacturers, had reason to be both satisfied with a scale, which considered both interests, without sacrificing either of them to the other. He, for one, might think that the agriculturists had a right to ask more protection; but he would rather that they should have less, and that a spirit of conciliation should prevail between them and the rest of the community. This was most important; but one thing, if possible, more important, was (and this he hoped the present proposition would effect), that this great question should be finally settled.
said, he decidedly preferred the system now proposed to that brought forward by the late government. He entirely agreed with the right hon. member for Louth, that nothing could be more idle than the perpetual references made in that House to the average prices of wheat at various foreign ports. It was ridiculous to make references of this kind when they had just opposite to them, as it were, and had had, for the last century, a port, Rotterdam, which had always been, as to corn, a free one. At that port the price usually varied from 30s. to 34s., the same would be the price in the port of London, if the Thames were equally free: and it should be recollected, that this comparison was not without its application; for the provinces of Holland composed a country of no trifling consumption of corn. They were still populous, and had once been extremely opulent and powerful, as a manufacturing nation; nor let hon. gentlemen ever forget that from that opulence and power they had declined, absolutely, from levying enormous duties upon the corn consumed by their subjects. The same fate, resulting from the same cause, as irresistibly awaited this country, as one day succeeded another.—As to the talk about high prices, the danger of our present system arose, not from positive, but from relative, prices. He owned he was amazed at the course which so many gentlemen had pursued upon this question. How was it possible that any men, having the powers of reasoning or reflection, could come down to that House day after day, and talk about protection to corn—protection to wool—protection to oak bark—the difference, meanwhile, in the price of bread between Great Britain and the natives of the continent being as the difference, in favour of the latter, between 25s. and 64s. How was it possible that they should expect we could go on exporting manufactures, as we now did, to the amount of between fifty and sixty millions a year, there being this frightful disproportion between the relative prices of corn, among ourselves and our continental neighbours? Heartily did he wish that some man among them, with honesty in his heart, would come down and tell them plainly it was their duty to consider, not how they might get in their own proper rents for that particular year or so, but how the country was to subsist with its establishments for the nest twenty or fifty 155 years. But, on the contrary, he declared with pain, that whenever the corn question came on for discussion, it was argued by them on the most selfish, and narrow-minded principles, that any legislature ever condescended to listen to. He was himself a landed proprietor; but he disdained to seek protection for his interests in that capacity, by means which, being intended for the benefit of one class of the community, must one day crush them all. He hoped that the government would stand by their own system, without listening to the projects of those, with whom he, for one, acknowledged that he could not trust himself.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
disapproved of the system of taking averages, and expressed his perfect approbation of the measure proposed by the right hon. gentleman (Mr. C. Grant.)
§ The committee divided: for the original motion 230; for the amendment 32; majority 198.
§ Mr. Portman
proposed as an amendment to the resolution establishing the descending scale at steps of 1s. each, that instead of 1s. advance in duty upon every integral shilling of fall in price between 62s., it should be 2s. for every integral shilling decrease. This was the scale of last year, and he had not heard any satisfactory reason for the departure from that arrangement.
§ Mr. Western
wished to ask the right hon. gentleman opposite, what discovery he had made which had induced him to abandon the scale on the descending price, which he had proposed to the House last year, and to adopt one which gave inferior protection to agriculture? It was admitted, that the country did not stand in need of a foreign supply, and that the object of this bill was to prevent any such supply, up to a certain point. Why, then, did they refuse to satisfy those who apprehended that these duties were insufficient? The most intelligent among the growers of corn thought that the reduced scale of duties on the descending price was insufficient; and it was deviating from the measure of last year in this respect, that made the bill look like a compromise, which gave a higher price but removed protection. He admitted the advantages of this bill: it was a point gained: it had satisfied the country, that there were those in the cabinet who would give protection to agriculture, and had relieved the people from 156 those apprehensions which they had lately felt.
Mr. Secretary Huskisson
did not know if the hon. gentleman had addressed his question to him. If he had, he could assure the hon. member that, without having recourse to compromise of principle, this deviation had taken place. It appeared to him, however, that one part of the hon. member's speech was an answer to the other. On the one hand there were great apprehensions, and on the other, confidence in the government: he thought, therefore, that the two feelings might be safely left to balance each other. He did, however, think that there could not be much alarm in the country on this point; for if there had been, they would have seen a different division from that which they had just witnessed. The hon. member had asked, why they had given protection, on the ascending scale, and taken it from the other? It was thought that 60s. was the price at which protection should be given to British agriculture—protection which could not amount to strict prohibition, but which would prevent any material importation of foreign corn. It was thought, from the experience they had had since the last year, that a duty of 20s. was not sufficient, and therefore the duty had been raised to 24s. On making this change, it was thought advisable also to make the alteration in the descending scale of which the hon. member complained.
§ The committee divided: for the original motion 140; for the amendment 50; majority 90. After which, the chairman reported progress.