§ Sir T. Gooch
rose to present a Petition on the subject of Agricultural Distress, from the county of Suffolk. The hon. Member observed, that the petition came from a great body of agriculturists, assembled at a county meeting, convened by the high sheriff. Persons of all classes and ways of thinking attended—gentlemen, yeomen, Tories, Whigs, and Radicals,—and all united in one common object, that of petitioning the House, and representing the great agricultural distress which existed in Suffolk. This was not a party question. No man was less disposed to hold factious language than himself; but this was a time when Gentlemen of all parties should unite in declaring the sufferings of their constituents, and he agreed cordially with the hon. Member for Cumberland, that if the country gentlemen felt themselves injured they were bound to defend themselves. It was impossible to deny the existence of agricultural distress. It might be said to him, "You are a supporter of the Administration;" it was perfectly true that he was, but he could not conceal his sentiments on this subject. As to the causes of the distress, he believed that the alteration of the currency had done some mischief, but he differed from the petitioners in supposing that another alteration in that would give them relief. The evils arising from that source were, he believed, nearly over.
§ Sir E. Knatchbull
was glad to hear that the support of his hon. friend would be given to measures for the relief of the general distress. He did not believe, how- 1310 ever, with his hon. friend, that the distress was diminishing. On the contrary, he thought it was increasing, and that the country was in a worse condition than ever it was. He would recommend the Government seriously to take into its consideration the propriety of altering the currency, as a means of giving relief.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
expressed his approbation of the conduct of the Member for Suffolk (Sir T. Gooch) who had the manliness to express his dissent from his constituents, the petitioners, in desiring an alteration of the currency.
§ Mr. Liddell
said, he believed much of the agricultural distress was caused by importations from Ireland. He did not wish to restrict those importations, but Ireland ought, under such circumstances, to be made to bear its full share of the burthens of the country.
§ Mr. O'Connell
reminded the hon. Member that these importations were made to pay the rents of absentees, who spent their incomes in this country.
§ Sir Thomas Gooch
explained, that he had meant that the evils arising from the alteration of the currency had passed the acme, and were diminishing. He did not mean that agricultural distress was on the wane.
§ The Petition was read