§ Mr. Hunt
presented a Petition from Oldham, Lancashire, for a total Repeal of the Corn-laws; and also from Blackburn, to the same effect. This latter petition was signed by nearly 10,000 of the working classes of that town. The petitioners stated, but this he thought was an exaggeration, that sixty millions of quarters of corn were consumed annually, and that the price was by the tax raised to the consumer, 20s. per quarter, costing the country annually 60,000,000l. They added, that by the effect of these laws, in crippling our foreign trade, the country lost 60,000,000l. additional. This was undoubtedly an overstatement, but still the consequences of these laws were very injurious. They crippled our foreign trade, and burthened the great mass of the community, they were contrary to the principles of justice and humanity, and sound commercial policy; they were oppressive in their direct burthen, and excited discontent, and were a source of grinding distress to the poor.
§ Sir John Brydges
said, that the repeal of the Corn-laws would raise the price of corn, as well as ruin the agricultural interests. He was glad to find the hon. member for Preston had lowered his tone. It was an erroneous opinion, that our foreign trade was affected by the Corn-laws; but if it were, our foreign trade was not to be put in competition with the landed interest.
§ Colonel Torrens
said, if the repeal of the Corn-laws would raise the price of corn, the landed Gentlemen would eagerly demand it.
supported the prayer of the petition. He considered the Corn-laws a sacrifice of the poor to the rich; they were a drawback on the resources of the country. He thought the Irish trade would be benefitted by their abolition.
§ Mr. Leader
said, that before they repealed the Corn-laws, they ought to take measures for the improvement of Ireland, as that country had nothing to depend on but its agriculture and its linen manufacture. If they did not do that, the free trade system would certainly ruin entirely that depressed and impoverished country.
§ Mr. Wyse
should be prepared to show, when the time came, that the system of averages was greatly deceptive, as might be proved by referring to the returns of each large corn-market. The quantity of Irish corn introduced, was far greater than met the public eye. The result of the trickery was the introduction of foreign corn when, by the present laws, it ought to be excluded. Various complaints had been made of this, but no remedy had yet been devised. The protection to home-grown corn was a delicate question, which must soon be looked at; but one thing was certain, all interests had a right to, and would be benefitted by, fixed and well-defined laws.
§ Petition laid on the Table.