HC Deb 19 May 1835 vol 27 cc1253-4
Mr. Poulett Thomson

rose, to move for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the present state of the Trade in Corn, between the Channel Islands and the United Kingdom. The object of his Motion was to inquire into the nature of the Trade in Corn, between this Country and the Channel Islands, as much with the view of ascertaining how far the complaint made last year, of a quantity of corn having been surreptitiously introduced into this country from the Channel Islands, were founded in fact, as for the purpose of general legislation on the subject. On those complaints being originally made, the Commissioners of Customs sent over persons to institute an inquiry, and a report was made by them, which showed that the average exportation of Corn from thence in a period of five years was little more than 2,000 qrs. The right hon. Gentleman who preceded him in office, had given notice of a Bill for regulating the exportation of Corn from these Islands, as well as the introduction of Foreign Corn into them; but circumstances had intervened, which caused its postponement. It was natural for the inhabitants of these Islands, when they saw attacked a privilege which they possessed by Charter, and which was confirmed by Act of Parliament—the exemption from duty on Foreign Corn—to call for an inquiry into the facts connected with the case, before any legislation should take place on it; and he considered that it was but strict justice to them, to accede to their wishes in that respect, and institute an investigation into all the circumstances. This inquiry would form the labours of the Committee which he prayed for. He was the more anxious that the inquiry should be instituted, because he was firmly convinced that it would be the means of dispelling the most unfair and unfounded rumours against the Government and the Islands, which had been so widely and so industriously circulated in connexion with the subject. When it should be discovered that the average export of one Island for a period of five years, was little more than 700 quarters, and of another 500 quarters, he thought that all idea of fraud on the revenue or injury to the agriculturists would be obliterated from the mind of every man who entertained an opinion of his own. It was most desirable that an end should be put to the further existence of any idea of that nature. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for the appointment of the Committee.

Dr. Bowring

expressed his satisfaction and entire concurrence, with the principle of the Motion. The result of the labours of the Committee would have a twofold effect: they would first teach an important lesson to those who spoke on such matters without information—a circumstance greatly to be desired in consequence of the mass of misrepresentation which had been made on the subject; and, secondly, it would, he trusted, prove to the full satisfaction of the agricultural community that the Corn Laws were the cause of all their distress.

Mr. Tynte

expressed his concurrence in the Motion, and his gratitude to the right hon. Mover. He had no doubt whatever that the result of the labours of the Committee would give general satisfaction.

Mr. Gilbert Heathcote

, in reply to the observations of the hon. Member for the Kilmarnock district of Burghs, begged to assure him that the agriculturists of the country were perfectly competent to take care of their own concerns; and that when they wished to consult any one apart from their interest, the hon. Member would be one of the last persons to whom they would apply for advice.

Mr. Pease

approved of the Motion, While the Corn Laws existed he thought they should be enforced. He considered that the importation of foreign grain, in quantities however small, seriously injured the home market.

The Motion was agreed to, and the Committee was appointed.