HC Deb 15 March 1830 vol 23 cc300-1
Mr. John Campbell

presented a Petition from the noblemen, freeholders, &c. of Dumbartonshire, complaining of Distress, and praying for Relief by reduction of Taxation. The hon. Member said, that though he did not admit the country to be in that state of distress which some hon. Members thought, and in this he agreed with the petitioners, yet it undoubtedly was suffering to a considerable extent. He would not inquire into the causes of that distress, but much of it he thought was to be attributed to the alteration in the currency. He did not wish to have another alteration, but if Parliament were to institute an inquiry, it would at least learn to what extent its own measures had caused the evils, and it might find some means of alleviating them. This was the view of the petitioners, who also expressed their confidence in the Government. Ministers had already evinced a disposition to afford relief: and he had every hope that the statement which they were about to hear from the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would prove that still more effectual measures of relief were in contemplation.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

said, that though the distress in Scotland was not as great as that in England, yet there was great suffering amongst the agricultural classes there. The price of cattle was so low,—he spoke chiefly of the county of Kircud-bright,—that people could not get the price for them which they themselves gave last year, and he believed the same might be said of other counties. The result was, that the farmers could not pay their rents except out of their capital, and the distress of the lower classes, though they had hitherto done pretty well, were now suffering extremely. The only remedy to which the people now looked was a reduction of taxation, and he hoped it would be largely administered that evening.

Sir G. Murray

was surprised and sorry to hear such a statement as that of the hon. Gentleman. He could state, however, that in other counties a different state of things existed, and that in the county which he had the honour to represent (Perthshire) no such distress was known. He had received an account that day from one of the greatest landed proprietors in that county, who stated that his rents were never more regularly paid than at present. From what he had heard, he should be disposed to form a different opinion from that just expressed by the hon. Member for Kircudbright.

Sir G. Warrender

said, that he could state as a landed proprietor of that county to which the gallant officer had alluded, that he could not get a farthing of rent, and he believed other counties in Scotland were in no better situation, though the rents had been reduced forty per cent since 1814.

Mr. W. Dundas

denied altogether that Scotland was in the distress which the hon. Member described. If wages had fallen, so had the price of the necessaries of life—if the prices of cattle had fallen, it was a relief to the farmer that wages had fallen also, and that rents had been lowered. From what he knew of Scotland he could not concur in the opinion that the agriculturists and the labourers were suffering in any extreme degree.

Mr. E. Davenport

said, it was a proof of the distress of the country when a Minister of the Crown made a boast of one landholder in Perth receiving his rents.

The Petition to lie on the Table.