Sir, if I do not commence my address to the House with an apology for incompetency to perform the task which has fallen upon me, it is, I can assure the House, far more from a regard for their time than from any confidence in myself or any want of respect to them, for I can truly say, that unless those on whose behalf I am about to make this application, had not assured me that their cause depended upon a simple statement of its merits, and not upon the talent of its advocate, I should have shrunk from the responsibility which I am now undertaking. They, however, approach this House as men of business, hoping that in that spirit the subject may be discussed, and that all unnecessary topics of irritation will be avoided, and I can assure the House that no example of a different course will be offered by me. In accordance then, Sir, with the notice which I have given, it is my duty to move, that certain persons who have petitioned this House, may be allowed to prove the allegations of that petition at the bar of this House. Who those persons are, what it is that they allege and are prepared to prove, and the grounds on which they are induced to make this application, I will as briefly as I am able, state to the House. The petitioners, then, deeply interested themselves in the subject matter of their petition, have been selected by their fellow-citizens and fellow-sufferers, assembled at great meetings for the purpose, to make known to this House, by all legitimate means in their power, the specific grievance of which they complain. They bring this complaint, chiefly from those vast districts of industry in this country, where the mass of the inhabitants depending for existence on the employment of their labour, expect that employment as much from the demands of people in other countries as from their countrymen around. The names of some places from which the petitioners proceed, will at once make known the interests which they represent. They are 610 as follows:—Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Derby, Kendal, Wolverhampton, the Tower Hamlets, &c.; places, the sum of whose population is above two millions, and will be at once recognised as the seats of the great staple manufactures of this country; and here the House, perhaps, will not object that I should glance for a moment at the importance of those interests to the country at large, and I will only refer to those who have now reason to fear danger from the grievance of which they complain; such as the cotton trade, the woollen trade, the linen trade, and the hardware trade: though all trade is deeply affected by the question. According to the most authentic estimate which I have been able to consult, I find that on the cotton manufacture, in this country, there are not fewer than 1,500,000 persons dependent for occupation, that the amount of capital employed in it is valued at 20,000,000l.sterling, that nearly 17,000,000l. are paid in wages, that the whole value is above 34,000,000l., and that we export of this article two-thirds in value, and three-fourths in quantity. The woollen manutures I find valued annually at 27,000,000l. of which one-fourth is annually exported. The number of persons to which it gives employment is nearly 400,000, receiving in wages about 8,750,000l., and the annual amount of English wool consumed is 108,000,000lbs. The value of the linen manufacture is about 8,000,000l., and the wages to persons employed by it about 3,500,000l. The annual value of our hardware and cutlery is about 1,700,000l, and the people employed in it 300,000, and whose prosperity must mainly depend upon the foreign demand. In all the principal districts where these manufactures are carried on, there have been large and open meetings held for the purpose of affirming the allegations of this petition, and in nearly all has the strongest desire been expressed that some more careful and decideded attention should be directed to its subject by the Legislature than has yet been given, and I have deemed it right thus faintly to describe the importance of these interests, that the House may see that it is no inconsiderable or insignificant party who are now asking its attention. I now come, Sir, to what it is that these parties allege, and ask liberty to prove—and here I hope the House will be careful to distinguish between what it is they do allege, and what it may be said that they 611 allege. They complain then that of late years they have had to observe a striking change in the character of their dealings with other nations, who used to be their customers, that once valuable friends have become alarming rivals, that this change is prejudicial to the country—and they say farther, for it is that on which they rest their claim to your attention, namely that you have done this! In plain terms that the Legislature by denying to them the liberty of exchanging with other countries their manufactures for the articles which those countries have in excess, and were desirous to offer in exchange, namely, human food—that they have compelled those countries to divert their resources from the production of that article in orrder to satisfy their own demand for manufactures. This they say the Corn-Laws have done, and that not only have they turned away our customers, but that converting those customers into competitors, they now threaten to render us unequal to the struggle. The points, therefore, which the petitioners have, on the part of the productive classes, to prove, are, that there is a most active competition going on with ourselves in other countries, that this has been chiefly occasioned, and that it is now greatly favoured, by the operation of the Corn-laws, that should this competition extend itself in a ratio proportionate to that which it has reached within a given time past, that the result will be fearful to the whole country, but peculiarly so to the industrious classes, whose condition will be affected by it either in serious deterioration or destitution. They do not, however, in this stage of their proceeding, ask you to repeal these laws, or to tell them why you will not repeal them; but they say, that as these are the important consequences to them of these laws, and as the facts which prove them to be so, do not fall necessarily within the notice of a majority of this House, or are admitted by them to be true; they ask you to be allowed to place them beyond question. There is nothing, they say, which takes their case out of the sphere of distinct and specific proof, and there is nothing to preclude them from completing that case within a limited period. They have only to report to you the experience which has been forced upon them, and which experience they would hope, when known, would have weight on your judgment in deciding upon the general question, They do not come here to tell a sad story of great and general distress; they do not come here to excite your pity at 612 their losses, or to inflame the passions of the people at their wrongs, but they desire to apprise you, as reflecting men, having a sense of the obligations imposed upon you by your trust in this House, of those indications of coming evil which, though, through their interests, they may be the first to feel, could only arrive to be shared by millions of your fellow countrymen. What it is then, in the first place, which I believe to be within the possibility of proof is, that the tariffs of duties on our goods which have been imposed by other countries, in order to foster their manufactures, and by which our manufactures are in some cases entirely excluded, and in others much prejudiced by additional price, were only imposed after repeated remonstrances by the government of those countries at our own restrictive system. That for twenty years past in the north of Europe, and before the year 1824 in America, the laws which restrict, and sometimes prohibit, the trade in food, have been the constant theme of complaint by those countries which had that article to offer us in exchange, and that both through Germany and America, "take our corn and we will take your manufactures," has been the basis upon which they have al ways desired to negociate with us—nay farther, so averse were the people of those countries to reject our manufactures, and so little encouragement did they think the circumstances of their own countries offered them to become our rivals, that their governments could only reconcile them to these retaliatory tariffs by representing in the most striking colours what they termed the selfish and arbitrary character of our policy, requiring of them to take our manufactures, and refusing to take their surplus products in exchange. And if the official journals of the time in those countries were referred to, it would be found, that they teem with abuse of us upon this ground. The first great step to be taken by any people in directing their interest to manufactures, in rivalry with an older manufacturing country, under all the disadvantages which the neighbourhood and established superiority of that country placed them, must distinctly, and without dispute be placed as regards us at the door of the Corn-law, and all that we have lost in employment of our labour, and profit upon our capital, and in good will between ourselves and those people, from our present commercial relation with them, must be referred to those impolitic laws. But it was not in the nature of those laws to be limited in the mischief they produced, 613 and it was in the necessary operation of the system that while it lost to us our customers, and made them competitors, it gave them an advantage in the competition, for they not only had the benefit of the additional price in the amount of duty added to our goods, but they had the benefit in all matters in which the cost of living would enter at all into the cost of production, that we were obliged to live at double the price that they are enabled to live. And it is what your petitioners now desire to shew that those people have seized the advantage which we conferred upon them, and that in all articles of manufacture into which the cost of living enters into the cost of production, they are at present employing themselves in competition with us. This is no vague and general statement. They are ready to specify the countries where this has occurred, to describe the very articles in which it has been observed, and to verify what they allege to have been the cause of that change. They will prove, that in some countries the difference in the cost of living, which the Corn-laws occasion, enables them to supply themselves with articles which they formerly received from us, and further enables them to compete with us in neutral markets. And here I must ask the attention of the House, to some facts, which are the tests by which the petitioners most desire to be tried, for it is not difficult to hear persons who have no interest in this matter, prejudge the case by assuming, that whatever may be the burthens imposed upon the British people, yet so superior is their productive power, and so superior is British skill and enterprise, that we must be ever beyond the reach of competition. Now, Sir, the first fact, that I would mention to show that our monopoly has not been maintained, is, that it appears by comparing the average value of our exports for the last five years with that of the five years succeeding the peace, that they have declined 20 per cent., and though it should be said, that the difference in the value of the currency may in some degree account for the diminution, yet let it be admitted, that they have been stationary, and it serves equally to show, that we have been unable to maintain our ground. But if our export trade has diminished or remained stationary, has that been the case with other countries? We find, on the contrary, that the exports of France have increased more than fifty per cent., while those of the United States has 614 increased seventy-five per cent. But, passing from general to particular let us examine how far the cotton trade alone will illustrate our position, and when we have seen what hangs upon this gigantic business, and what fearful consequences might follow from its loss, the facts connected with its danger must be of the deepest import. The first thing then to observe, is, that from 1770 to 1814, England had the monopoly of the cotton trade, and that we had nothing to apprehend from competition by any other country. America owing to a previous error in our policy had alone, perhaps, taken any step in rivalry with ourselves, and what did she consume? why barely 100 bales. What is now the case? America now consumes 320,000 bales, France 350,000; Switzerland 50,000, all other countries 150,000 making a total o f 870,000 bales, which nearly equals the total consumption of England. Here, then, we see, that though we had the monopoly in this trade, but little more than twenty years ago, that we have it no longer, that we have lost it. It shows, also, that other countries have been able to stand their ground, and are now fairly launched into the world in competition with us, and that we have now to consider not whether we shall retain a monopoly, but whether we are in a condition to run an equal race; and it is for those who contend, that we are still doomed to excel, to account for the reason why other countries should have increased in greater ratio than ourselves, and how, if we do not proceed on equal terms, we are to maintain our ground at all. It is here then, for us to consider whether we are on equal terms, for on that, at least, we must depend in future. Now, in comparing ourselves with America we find her possessed of two great natural advantages, namely, proximity to the raw material, and cheapness of power. These have been made the subject of precise calculation. The proximity to the raw material is estimated as amounting to½a pound which is equal to about 7 per cent., while the difference in the water power and steam power here and in the United States is as 3l. 10s. to 12l. 10s. per horse. Those are her natural advantages, and may be considered equal to those which we possess (in the coarser fabrics) from more perfect machinery and from larger capitals; but what advantages has she besides, but which we confer upon her by injuring ourselves? Why, not satisfied with the 615 greater distance at which we live from the raw material, upon its arrival at our shores we impose a tax upon it, and we next enhance the price of flour, a vast amount of which is used in the cotton manufacture, and by the same means, namely, the Corn-laws, render the cost of living in this country higher than in any other country in the world. Under these circumstances I say, we should expect that in the products in which the raw material chiefly enter into the cost of the article, that America would be able not only to compete with but to supersede us. Let us examine the results. We find, that in the first place, such has been the strides that she has taken in this manufacture, that she consumes now as much cotton as we did in 1816, and has been increasing in her manufactures in a ratio greater than ourselves in the proportion of 65 to 40 per cent. We find from a report made to Congress a few years since, that she cannot employ less than 50,000 power-looms, and being chiefly devoted to the production of the coarser fabrics, is about the same number that we employ in this country for the same purpose, being about one half of the whole number in use in this country. Now let us hear what competent witnesses engaged in the trade here and in America tell us on the subject, and I will here refer to a work which has been published with the authority of all the principal cotton manufacturers in Glasgow, &c., and which contains evidence on oath, and has been collected under circumstances which render its credit unquestionable. I will first read an extract from the evidence of Mr. Kempton, a Massachusets manufacturer, who was examined before a commission under the crown appointed for another purpose:—Could the American goods be afforded at a lower price than the English goods?—Yes; I have understood, that we have sent goods to India, where we pay an extra duty, and still undersell the English.Same witness examined before the factory commissioners.What is the nature of your manufactures?—Spinning and weaving coarse yarns.Is any of it for exportation?—Yes.To what markets?—South America, West and East-Indian markets.Do you find, that you can compete successfully with British manufactures of a similar kind in the same market?—Yes, although we labour under some disadvantages.And notwithstanding these drawbacks, you can compete with us?—Yes; and not only so, but are gaining ground upon you, and have already excluded you from some markets.616From what markets?—Some of the Mexican and South American. Several of our largest establishments have contracts pending for a long time forward for those markets at prices which would not give a fair return to the British manufacturer, but are very profitable to our manufacturers.You say this from having ascertained, during your visit to Manchester and other manufacturing districts in this country, the exact state of the relative prices?—Yes.Mr. Timothy Wiggin, an American, largely connected with the United States, by business, and also interested in the cotton manufacture there.Have you been many years engaged in the cotton manufacture?—I took an interest in those manufactures many years since.Has the cotton manufacture in the United States prospered of late years?—It has; it is now prosperous.Do you think there is any probability of their being able to compete with us in any articles in a third market?—The manufacturers of certain descriptions of cotton goods find a demand for their fabrics in South America, and also at Smyrna and Constantinople.Is that the particular description of manufacture in which you are engaged?—It is.Mr. Joshua Bates (an American) manufacturer, and also partner of Messrs. Baring, Brothers. "Do you know whether the returns of the cotton manufactures of the United States have of late been profitable or not?—I have various means of learning, that the cotton manufactures are profitable.That the capital invested in the cotton manufacture some few years ago, has yielded a fair return?—It hasIs there not a considerable export from the United States of America of manufactured cotton?—There is an exportation which has been very considerable of common coarse cottons.You are aware, that America possesses all the resources and elements necessary to become a manufacturing country in a very superior degree?—Undoubtedly she does.And that all the improvements and inventions existing in European countries, will, and do, find their way into the United States?—Certainly,Mr. William Graham of Glasgow, (a manufacturer)—"Do you find any foreign competition that affects profits?—Yes, we find now in all foreign markets a competition in our stouter fabrics by the American manufacturers.What description of goods do you make?—Principally the heavy domestic fabrics.Do they meet you in the East-Indian market?—Yes, within the last twelve months we have heard of their being brought into the market of Calcutta, and underselling our goods even there, where they pay an extra duty.Do the Americans export those manufactures considerably?—They do.Do you find the competition of the Amer- 617 ican manufactures increasing upon you in the places to which you export?—Everywhere.In what parts of the world?—In Mexico for the last five or six years largely; in the Brazils considerably; Buenos Ayres, round Cape Horn, at Valparaiso, considerably. In Manilla and Sincapore they have also made their appearance; also at St. Domingo.Do they come into competition with you in the Mediterranean, or in the German markets?—We have done little in the Mediterranean for some years. At one time we had complaints from Malta, that the American manufacturers had interfered with our sales.Mr. Kirkman Finlay, of Glasgow (a British manufacturer)—"Are you aware of the progress within the last few years of the cotton manufacture in the United States of America?—I have seen a great deal of correspondence upon the subject.Has it not increased very much in the last ten years?—It has grown up since 1814.Are you aware whether there is, or is not an export trade in manufactured cotton from the United States?—I am aware there is.Are you aware to what countries domestics are exported from America?—They have been trying them in all countries. They are a very active, industrious, and enterprising people, and there is scarcely any country they visit where they do not take some of them. I should say from my own knowledge, especially in Turkey and South America, and I have understood they have taken some to India.Looking at the United States with reference to its advantages or disadvantages, is it your impression, that nothing can prevent the progress, more or less rapid, of the manufacture fin that country?—Clearly. I think nothing will withdraw them from that manufacture, that it will increase more or less rapidly, according to circumstances, and that it will be formidable.The next witness (Mr. Wm. Gemmell) gives his evidence on oath, and is peculiarly striking—because, besides having his own establishment in Valparaiso, he also spun and wove by power his own Domestics in Glasgow. He deposes, that for several years past, he has been in the habit of manufacturing cotton Domestics, a class of cotton goods of more extensive consumption than any other sent to Chili; "and that latterly, he has been obliged to abandon the manufacture of such goods, after persevering for a considerable time in an unsuccessful competition with the manufacture of the United States, although he combines in his own works, both the operations of spinning the yarn and weaving it, thus enabling him to ship his goods at the lowest possible cost in this country; and although he has also the advantage of having them sold by his own partners abroad." I will 618 not (said the hon. and learned Member) detain the House with other evidence on this subject, though I may say, that the work to which I refer, which was published to show the impolicy of the cotton tax is replete with evidence to the effect, that the cotton manufactures in America are gradually progressing, and are coming into neutral countries in competition with us. There is one more witness, however, who states a fact which, as it bears upon this question, I will quote. It is that of a Glasgow manufacturer, acquainted with the American market:—Do you conceive, that there are any other burthens in this country affecting you, the absence of which in America enables their manufactures to come into competition with you?—Yes; there is another direct duty which comes heavily upon us, and that is the duty upon foreign wheat and flour used in our manufactures.What do you suppose is the increased cost to your manufactory arising from the duty on flour?—I should think we pay in duty on flour 600l., to 700l. a-year.To which was appended this note—The extra annual cost during the ten years prior to 1835, of the British cotton manufacture, for flour used in weaving and bleaching, above what the same quantity would have cost the manufacturers of the United States and the Continent of Europe, estimated according to the ratio of the difference of the average prices of wheat in these countries, and in Great Britain comes out at 175,000l.What I have here read must satisfy the House, that the Americans are now our active rivals in this branch of manufacture; and that if we intend to compete with them, and succeed, that we must not fetter ourselves with disadvantages to which they are not subject. But let us now turn to the continent, and observe what is passing there, that should set us at ease with respect to competition. I will first look at the country that is most wanting in the local advantage that we possess, I allude to Switzerland, which is 800 miles from the coast, but where living is cheap, the raw material is not taxed, the necessaries for manufacture not artificially enhanced, and with a natural advantage of water power. We find that though formerly we supplied her with goods and yarn that she now takes but little from us, but the results of the finer processes of our machinery, and that she not only supplies her own wants, but exports three-fourths of what she produces, and meets us successfully in the Italian, Levant and North American markets. I 619 will not weary the House with the extracts from evidence which would establish this fact, though I could at this moment satisfy the House, from documents that I have with me, but I will undertake to say, that facts of this nature shall be proved at the bar.
We will now look to those countries whose raw products we refuse to take as in the case of Russia, on whose corn and and timber we place high duties, and who have retaliated upon us. We find that to Russia we exported in 1820, 1,300,000 yards of cotton cloth, and in 1837, 850,000 yards. In 1820 the whole exports, (declared value) was 2,300,000l. in 1834, 1,382,300. Now I wish any person who doubted of the importance of maintaining entire the foreign trade of this country would here reflect upon the misery that might have been saved, and the wealth that could have been created in this country had we continued to supply that country with the goods which she used to demand of us, and had thus been able to give employment to our artizans, who would have exchanged the results of their labour for a greater abundance of the necessaries of life. If any man reflects upon the misery he has witnessed at times since the peace in our manufacturing districts for want of employment, he would come to a decision upon this case with more anxiety than perhaps he will now. We now turn to Germany, where formerly we exported goods which gave great employment to labour in this country, and where we have so especially driven the people to become manufacturers for themselves, giving them the advantage of our cost of living, and their duties upon our goods. In 1833,the yards of cotton cloth exported were 29,631,351. In 1834, 11,045,112 yards; in 1835, 10,037,100; in1836,7,673,020; in 1837, 5,889,957 and in 1838,only5,562,333. Now it will be said perhaps that the whole exports to that country have increased, but what consolation is that to us, if those exports have been swelled chiefly by those materials that enable those countries to manufacture for themselves the goods that we used to export to them, when we know that the same circumstances which favour their manufacture of those articles will encourage and enable them shortly to dispense with those other materials from this country, and perhaps there is nothing more striking in the present state of their manufacturing condition, than the arrangements that are at this moment so actively proceeding 620 for making machinery. But, perhaps, to show what can be achieved by a country on the continent, in competition with us in our present burthened state, the case of the hosiery trade, as the best in answer to all these speculations on the inability of the people of the continent to equal the English in the productiveness of their labour—we find here, that though the machinery in this trade in England has increased 10 per cent., the machinery in Saxony has doubled every six years; that though at the peace we had the monopoly of the world in this trade, in 1838, the export of England was only 447,291 dozen, while that of Saxony was 150,000. While we have not increased our exports in the last nine years, those of the Saxons to the United States are as follow:—"The exports from the Hanse Towns in 1827, into the United States, were valued at 96,821 dollars; in 1835, they had increased to 414,718 dollars, or more than 300 per cent. increase in the nine years. The comparative exports to the Havannah present much the same disparity. British exports into the whole foreign West India Islands, including Cuba, in 1833, 21,270 dozens; exports of Saxon hosiery from the Hanse Towns to Cuba alone, in 1838, 69,027 dozens. Exports of British hosiery to Peru:—In 1827, 29,810l.; in 1831, 19,605l.; in 1832, 16,918l.; in 1833, 11,400l.; in 1834, 8,760l. sterling. All ports open equally to both, present much the same increase. And now the Saxons export to the United States alone more hosiery than we export from Great Britain altogether;" and there is a fact more startling than any other perhaps, that the Saxon hosiery comes into this country, though at an additional expense of 25 per cent., and actually undersells our own hosiers. Now, if this be the case already in one branch of the cotton trade, I want to know why it may not be the case in every other? It proves that there is nothing that incapacitates foreigners from competing with or excelling us, and shows that they are acting with an advantage over us. What has been alleged of the cotton trade I fear may be said of every other branch of trade, that foreigners are engaging with success in all of them with ourselves, and it depends upon the advantages we respectively have, whether we are able to maintain our ground, and who will venture to say that the same success that attended us in this very trade when the monopoly was in the hands of the people in India, will not attend foreigners, who are 621 now competing with us, for what was it that secured to us the advantage we have since possessed, but economy in production, and what is it that we have to fear from our competitors but a similar advantage? for there is this peculiarity about manufactures, that whoever produces the cheapest must command the markets of the world. The woollen trade and the linen trade afford much of the same evidence as the cotton, namely, that foreigners are now manufacturing goods, that they are dispensing each year more with these articles than they used, and that they chiefly demand from us the materials of manufactures. The following statement I will read to the House, as having been drawn up by one of the persons most extensively engaged in the woollen trade:—The woollen manufacture of England has already suffered materially, and is threatened with still more serious injury, from the competition of continental rivals. In proof of which the following facts are offered:—
- "1. Until a few years ago the English buyers at the great German wool fairs predominated so much in number, and in the extent of their purchases over the buyers of other countries, as to rule the prices; but within the last few years, the German and Belgian buyers have exceeded them in their purchases, being able, from the flourishing state of their manufactures, to afford a higher price for the article, and the English buyers are now regarded as of small comparative importance.
- "2. The exceedingly rapid growth of the woollen manufacture in Prussia, and the other countries of the German Commercial League, is shown by the fact, that five or six years since, the quantity of German woollen cloths exhibited for sale at the Leipsic fair was only 50,000 ends (an end being half a piece), where last year the quantity exhibited was 350,000 ends; being an increase of 600 per cent.
- "3. That, independent of the duty laid on English cloths, in Germany Prussian cloths are sold much cheaper than English. English fine woollens are excluded from Germany and several neutral markets; and as soon as the Prussians can sufficiently extend their manufacture—which they are doing with astonishing rapidity—they will beat the English in all neutral markets, and probably in the home market of England itself, notwithstanding the import duty on foreign woollens in this country.
|Exports of Woollen Cloths from the United Kingdom to Germany:—|
|Average—15,942 pieces before the Tariff.||Average—9,654 pieces since the Tariff.|
§ "4. That the increase in the continental manufacture of wool is shown by the fact, that foreigners purchase a very increasing quantity of the wools of England and Ireland, of which formerly the home manufacturer had the exclusive use. The export of British wool in 1838 was of the declared value of 432,000l.; whereas the average of the four years preceding was only 274,000l. This, therefore, shows an increase of fifty-seven per cent. in the exportation from Great Britain of the raw material of the woollen manufacture.
§ "5. Quantities of wool and woollen yarn forming the raw materials of manufactures, exported from the United Kingdom,
§ "Ann. average of—
§ 1825, 1826, and 1827.–178,035 lb.
§ 1835, 1836, and 1837.—3,744,295 lb.
§ "WOOLLEN YARN.
§ "Ann. average of—
§ 1825, 1826, and 1827.–154,567 lb.
§ 1835, 1836, and 1837.–2,472,410 lb.
§ "And it not only proves an increase in the manufacture abroad, but the competition for the article raises the price to the home manufacturer.
§ "6. The decline of the British woollen manufacture is proved by the exports of last year compared with the average of the four preceding years.
|"EXPORT OF BRITISH WOOLLENS.|
|"Average of four years from 1834 to 1837||6,542,000|
§ "Ten or twelve years since Belgium and Switzerland were excellent customers for manufactured goods; and, although the French had prohibited English manufactures, vast quantities ultimately found their way into the French market, being smuggled in both from Switzerland and Belgium. Now, France supplies these goods to Belgium, Switzerland, and various other parts of the Continent, as well as to the United States and South America. This applied to the finer kind of goods, on which most labour had been bestowed, and which yielded the highest profit to both manufacturer and the workman. We were every day doing less in fine goods; the inferior and less profitable goods were almost the only kind for which there was any demand."
§ To this, I may add the exports to Germany, of woollen goods before and after the Tariff.623
|Exports of Woollen Goods used for wearing apparel, exclusive of worsted stuffs, from the United Kingdom to Germany.—|
|YEARS.||Cloths of all Sorts.||Napped Coatings, Duffell, &c.||Kerseymere.||Total of these Three Articles.||Three Years Average before and since the Tariff.|
|Total Woollen exports, including worsted stuffs, to Germany.—Declared value.|
|Exports of Wool and Woollen (worsted) Yarn, from the United Kingdom:—|
|YEARS.||BRITISH WOOL EXPORTED.||WOOLLEN YARN EXPORTED.|
|Quantity.||Declared Value.||Quantity.||Declared Value.|
I will now read a letter from a person connected with the woollen trade at Stroud, which tends to show the effects of the losing any branch of trade which affords employment to labour;—
It is an alarming fact, that in the last twelve months we have sent many hundreds of our best workmen to foreign countries, thus having our hands and mills burdened with the aged and disabled. In April, about 400 are expected to leave for Australia, in consequence of being unable to maintain their families at
home. At present we have hundreds, and many hundreds too, of good cottages vacant in this immediate neighbourhood; and I am persuaded this state of desolation will continue to increase if the laws, as they are, remain in operation. My opinion is, that if the Corn-laws are entirely abolished, we shall in a few short years require at our manufactories the surplus population who are now starving for want of bread. But apart from the interested view we take of the subject as men, is it not a most wicked law to tax the staff of life which God promised to man, and
to every man if he would labour for it; and has not Solomon said, 'He that withholdeth corn the people shall curse him?'"—Letter dated Stroud, February 12, 1829,
§ The linen trade affords also an example of the same observations, that the material for manufacture has been exported in greater proportion than manufactured goods. The linen trade affords also an example of the same observation, that the material for manufacture has been exported in greater proportion than manufactured goods.
Feb. 15, 1839.
My dear Sir—With respect to our hard- 626 ware articles of this neighbourhood, many are making less quantities than they were used to do, in consequence of some of the foreign markets being closed to us by manufacturing their own goods, or by prohibitory duties, such as the Prussian league affords. A great many articles manufactured in this town and the adjacent ones were annually exported to the emancipated states of South America, but this market is fast closing upon us in consequence of the rival and fast spreading manufactures of Westphalia, Saxony, &c. Some eighteen months ago I saw a considerable quantity of samples of locks, bolts, screws, knives, coffee and pepper mills, hatchets, cutlasses, &c., with manuscript drawings of other wrought-iron goods. These were offered for sale at a merchant's house in London, and delivered free at Hamburgh. Many, indeed most, of the prices, were under ours. They are much improved in finish and quality since I inspected them, and that as they have increased in these qualities, they have declined in prices—so much so, that they have supplanted the British artist in not only the South American market but in North America and Western Europe. I have received a letter from the principle clerk of an establishment, informing me that the Dutch East India Company were now buying many of the articles (our hardware) from the Germans to our exclusion. The fact is, we used to supply this establishment with locks and brass foundry for the Dutch settlements; which we have now ceased to do, in consequence of our being undersold by the German makers. There are now orders in this town from Mexico, and other parts of South America, which cannot be executed, because our present prices exceed those of foreign manufacturers. This is the consequence of our artisans being compelled to live on food more than fifty per cent, dearer than the foreign workman. Within these ten days I accompanied a factor to Willenhall, who had an order for sixty dozen of gridirons, for a foreign country; he was limited in price by an offer from a new manufacturer in Belgium to his customer, who had had these articles from him before. On presenting this order to his usual workman, the man said, 'Sir, I cannot make them at the price you offer me; iron is dearer than when I made you the last lot, and I and my workpeople are worse off, having more to give for our bread and bacon. How can you expect me to make them at the same price?' What you say is too true, but if I cannot buy them rather lower than before, I must not send them.' After a pause, the poor fellow deplored his inability, but he agreed to 'try his hands (his workmen), for,' says he, 'they must either do this order at the price offered, or they must have nothing to do for two or three days in the week. I must get the difference out of our blood and bones (harder labour) by working fifteen or sixteen hours instead of twelve or thirteen, as we used to do when I first began to work for myself.' Now this is 627 literally the fact. Our poor fellows are compelled to labour more hours for the same wages, and fare worse as the produce of their own labour will not purchase as much food as their regular labour used to do. What if the staff of life were equalised here and abroad (or as near as the charge of conveyance, risk, &c., would allow), would be the comparative condition of the home and foreign workman? Why, the very article here in question was made at the same price thirty years ago, and then subject to a discount of twenty per cent., whereas now they are subject to sixty per cent. off the same rate of prices. Wheat was then about 60s., and iron rather dearer than at present. Observe, gridirons are not made by machinery, therefore labour, and labour only, pays the difference. The article of matchets, a tool shaped like a sword, for working in sugar plantations, and also of hoes, for the same purpose, are at this time manufactured in Westphalia at from thirty to forty per cent. under our prices, and quite as good an article. I am in possession of a foreign (Berlin) printed book of articles (hardware) manufactured in Germany, for the supply of the North and South American market, as well as the European, delivered free of carriage at Hamburgh, at prices in many instances under ours, in close imitation of British, and on some of the articles our crack makers' names are stamped. These very things are sold by samples in London, Liverpool, Bristol, &c., for exportation, and are shipped at Hambro' direct for their foreign destination, to markets where our home-made goods, bearing the same makers' names, observe, are by such means excluded. The hardware manufactures are principally carried on at Sollingen, Remscheid, and Hagen, in Westphalia, and the nearest point of access to them for England is through Dusseldorff on the Rhine. A Sheffield gentleman was with me a short time since who had visited the manufactures of Prussia, Saxony, Westphalia, and Belgium; he assured me they were extending their workshops very fast, and improving vastly in every article they undertook. A large manufacturer in Germany, and president of their board of trade, assured my friend they were determined to become manufacturers on a large scale, and that they took their rise from about the time our Corn-laws began. They were smuggling goods into Russia, the Slito (I think he called the name of the town), in the Isle of Gotland, in the Baltic, and the Russian authorities winked at it. There is a manufacturer of locks, &c., in Walsall, who has for some years confined himself and a large shop of workpeople to make for the South American market only. He has now very little to do, and his trade has been gradually falling away in consequence of the opposition the exporters of his articles meet with from foreign makers. Had the South American markets not been opened to our enterprise, I am persuaded this Corn-law question would have come on much sooner than it has, and now that market is 628 diminishing in its demand from us, we shall feel the effects sensibly every year. Are you aware the German manufacturers have established dépôts at New York, Philadelphia, Boston, &c, for the wholesale sale of their home made hardware goods, and that they are supplying cutlery at prices under the Sheffield makers, as well as many kinds of our goods? In short, foreign manufactures are increasing and will increase, so long as our land-owners prevail and persevere in their selfish policy.
I will now read a letter from Birmingham, from a merchant engaged in the general trade:—
Birmingham, 17th Feb., 1839.
The United States now import from the continent of Europe large quantities of the following articles, which they formerly procured solely from Birmingham;—
Metal Buttons, of all descriptions, gilt, plated, &c., formerly a staple article in the Birmingham trade; now obtained almost entirely from the Continent, at a lower price.
Spectacles, of all kinds; formerly in very extensive demand, now superseded by the cheaper German article.
Needles and fish-hooks, marked with the names of the most celebrated English makers, are now imported extensively front Germany.
Locks of all descriptions, but especially the finer qualities, are imported from St. Etienne, near Lyons. There is much more finish bestowed upon the locks and keys than the English manufacturer can afford at the same price. The present demand from this country is chiefly for the common qualities.
Fowling-pieces and pistols, of high finish, are now principally imported from France and Belgium. The manufacturers of the Continent undoubtedly excel us in those guns whose chief value consists in the workmanship.
Pins are imported from Germany in much larger quantities than formerly.
Brass battery kettles are made much cheaper on the Continent than in England, and the imports are chiefly from the former country.
Scythes, straw-knives, sickles—formerly imported only from England, are now made cheaper, and as good, in Germany; and our sales of these articles are much diminished.
When I first visited New York, in 1826, there were, in that city, two or three German houses, who, (amongst other articles which they imported from their native country) received, every season, a few packages of assorted German hardware. The articles, however, were so inferior in finish, and so different in style and shape, from those which the Americans had been accustomed to receive from Birmingham, that, in spite of the greater cheapness of the former, the English article was still preferred.
In 1837 and 1838, I was again in New York, and discovered, to my surprise and mor-
tification, that there were many extensive establishments for the exclusive sale of German and French hardware goods, resembling in pattern, equalling in quality, and surpassing in cheapness, similar English articles, of Birmingham, Sheffield, and Wolverhampton manufacture.
The quantity and variety of Continental articles now substituted for English ones are rapidly increasing
The principal articles whose sale we have lost, by the competition of American manufacturers, are axes, hatchets, and many kinds of edge tools; carpenters' hammers, gimlets, augers, &c.; brushes of all descriptions.
In the former letter that I read, I fear the poor mechanic referred to, stated what we must expect to occur if we are to experience this competition, that wages will be reduced, and that the effects will be felt in the blood and bones of the working classes. This is the natural operation of a losing trade, and I know nothing more shocking to contemplate, than the struggle that will be made at the expense of that class. How much more might I have detailed to this effect to show that these results from competition have already commenced! but I feel that I ought not to weary the House with further details. It is impossible to do more within the limits of a speech than to give an outline of the evidence which is ready to be submitted in support of the case; but be assured, that there are details in abundance of this kind that will both shock and startle those who are willing to listen, and who are now uninformed It has been my purpose only this evening to satisfy you that the petitioners have good ground for their application to inform the House of the operation, on the manufacturing interest, of the Corn-laws. I think I have stated enough to prove to you that there is a case most deserving of inquiry at least, and that there is a strong presumption in favour of the fact, that we are compelled by the operation of the Corn-laws to engage in competition with our neighbours, fettered and on unequal terms. And now, Sir, I shall proceed to the last subject of my address, namely, the ground on which the petitioners have asked you to institute an inquiry, to use the emphatic language of the Nottingham petition, "not in the seclusion of a committee-room, but in the face of the whole representation of the United Kingdom." That request is, in my opinion, a just one; I hope to show it is a reasonable one; and I trust you will deem it advisable to accede to it. The
reason, in my opinion, why so many are anxious for this mode of inquiry is, that they believe, that the subject is most deeply important to every class of the community, and the petitioners would be fully able to establish their case; and they believe, and I think it cannot be disputed, that between two modes of inquiry which this House can institute—namely, by a Select Committee and a Committee of the whole House—that while the latter is calculated to attract and excite the public attention, the other is only fitted to allay or divert it. That while the one is bound to satisfy those who have sought its judgment, the other is sure to satisfy none, from the nature of its composition. In short, while one is the fullest and fairest the constitution admits of, the other is open to suspicion: and I do think that the people come here with a good grace to ask of the grand inquest of the country to give a full and fair inquiry into their grievances, considering the interest it involves, and the time it has endured. They cannot be said to be affording a dangerous or inconvenient precedent—for where is the case like it? They cannot be told that they are desirous of changing a law of which there has not been sufficient experience, or that they ever approved of, for they come here rather to prove, that all they predicted of its consequences a quarter of a century since has been verified, and that their anticipations of evil have been realized; and now, when they are themselves hourly feeling its effects in a stronger degree, they ask you only to hear the evidence of the facts which would show that to be the case. Upon what possible ground can you refuse them this request? This really is no trifling matter, and I trust it will not be lightly dismissed. It is the case of the great body of the middling classes, and the most reflecting portion of the working class, who appeal to this House. They do not come here with intimidation—they offend you with no menace, they proceed with no violence—but, on the contrary, even with consideration for, and deference to, your supposed opinions. It is the same Parliament, that refused to alter the law of last year; and they do not come now to you at once, and hastily, to ask you to repeal the law, but they request you to hear the grounds on which they made the demand, and on which they think, that you ought to reconsider your decision. Let me ask what does any reflecting man imagine will be the advantage of refusing the inquiry? Do you
think, that the numbers of men who have stepped from the business of their usual walk, and for three months past have been actively devoting their attention to this subject, will at once abandon their opinions, because you reject their petition for inquiry, and refuse to alter the law? Does anybody believe, that those who have not the patience of the persons who only seek the repeal of the Corn-laws, and who, despairing of justice, say, that there is no hope of redress from this House as it is constituted at present, will at once abandon that opinion, because you refuse to hear evidence, while you dispute the facts? What, then, is the effect of this course, but to teach those who yet have confidence in the House to believe, that they have been wrong, and to make them heartily unite with others for its reform? They do not apply to you to do anything contrary to your forms and precedents; the precedents justify the application of the petitioners; there is no lack of precedents. It needed not the zeal of my hon. Friend, the Member for Ashton, to disclose the precedents recorded on the journals. Former Parliaments have always deemed it a sufficient reason to institute a full and open inquiry, when those who have represented the manufactures and commercial interests have alleged that particular laws have been injurious to them, and have sought to prove their grievances before their House. In such cases, the House has always granted some especial inquiry. I need only refer to the case of the Orders in Council, in 1812; there is, moreover, this analogy to that case, that there was then a preponderating party in the House, which before the inquiry, refused to attend to the statements of the merchants and manufacturers, who alleged the inconvenience of the mode of inquiry, and by every pretext sought to avoid the investigation. Every objection was urged against the proposal; it was especially alleged, that no result would arise; and yet I have heard from those who took part in that inquiry, that numbers prejudiced against an alteration admitted after the evidence had been heard, that such was the effect of the statement of the witnesses, that their previous opinions had been altered by the evidence, and they had fully admitted and urged upon Ministers the propriety of rescinding those orders. And having granted in that case an inquiry on the allegations of the mercantile, the commercial, and the manufacturing interests, will you now refuse all tender of evidence on the present petition? If you do not deny
the facts, but admit them to be true, how can you refuse the consideration of the general question? If you deny the fact, how can you refuse the offer of proof? The petitioners in this case, moreover, do not observe, that those inquiries have been always resisted from a careful economy of the public time, for they find, that you were engaged within the memory of many present for thirteen days in examining into the corruption and mal-practices of a kept woman and her royal guardian; and that not sickened with the profligate details of that inquiry, you were occupied for ten days more in the discussion of the evidence and the charges. Grant, then, but these twenty-three days to those persons, who, in the interest of the manufactures and commerce of the country, now approach you, and I am satisfied, that before you will have completed that inquiry you will regret that it had not been instituted before; you will not repent having granted it, and you will not be satisfied till you have learnt the truth. I will not believe, however, that this question will be decided upon the matter of form; or that the House, with full powers to decide whether it will hear what is offered to it, or not, will reject this application upon the question of precedent. Should, however, that question be raised, I have ample precedent for the peculiar application that I make. I have here a precedent, that in matter and form differs in no respect from the present case. It was a petition presented by certain persons on the 16th of March, 1785, to the House of Commons, from the "gentlemen, clergy, landowners, merchants, manufacturers, dyers, bleachers, and others, interested in the fustian trade in the towns of Manchester, Salford, Bolton, &c," against an Act imposing duties "on cotton stuffs, bleached or dyed, and licenses for bleaching and dying the same," stating that the Act had "involved the petitioners in the greatest distress, and absolutely threatened that branch of commerce with inevitable ruin," &c.; "that the said duty will essentially affect labour, and will operate as a tax upon it; at the same time, that it cannot, by its nature, be productive, it will ultimately destroy the petitioners' trade, and diminish the public revenue in the same proportion as it diminishes commerce, and those various exciseable articles and duties which spring from that source," &c.: and ending by praying, "that the petitioners might be heard at the bar of the House against the said Act," &c. The complaints of the commercial and
manufacturing interests were not unavailing in that House, for the House at once granted the prayer; there was no debate, and the House ordered "That the said petition be referred to the consideration of a Committee of the whole House; and that the petitioners be heard by themselves before the Committee, upon their petition, if they think fit." How any one can say that the interests now seeking to be heard, are of less importance, or that their grievances are less serious than those of the persons interested in the fustian trade forty years ago, I am at a loss to conceive. Unless you admit the facts stated by the petitioners—unless you do not deny that they have already lost some trade, and that they will soon lose more—I cannot tell how you can refuse this inquiry. Fortified, then, Sir, by precedent, by justice, and by all that is wise and reasonable, in the course they are pursuing, I trust you will not reject their prayer, for I cannot doubt but that the impression which will be produced in consequence upon the petitioners and the public, thousands of whom are paying the utmost attention to the inquiry, is, that there is a fear, or an unwillingness in this House that the truth should be made known, and that the facts should be published to this country. No other inference is to be drawn, or will be drawn, from your refusal, except, that a majority of this House is unwilling to change the law, and that they will not receive evidence, because such evidence must lead to an alteration in the law. But not being willing to anticipate the commission of such error and injustice, I will now with confidence trust, you will concede this inquiry. The House will observe, that I have carefully abstained from entering into any general consideration of the policy of of the Corn-laws. I have, according to my intention, confined myself to the particular object of the petitioners in seeking to show the injurious tendency of those laws on the interests with which they are connected. I, therefore, now move, "That J. B. Smith, Robert Hyde Greg, and others, be heard at the bar of this House by their witnesses, agents, or counsel, in support of the allegations of their petition, presented to the House on the 15th instant, complaining of the operation of the Corn-laws." The hon. Gentleman resumed his seat amidst loud cheers.
§ Mr. Strutt
, in rising to second the motion, would not after the full statement of his hon. Friend, detain the House for 634 any length of time, but he must say a few words on a subject of such great interest. The struggle might be protracted, the result it might be difficult to foresee, but it could only be brought to a satisfactory termination by means of free discussion. His hon. Friend had anticipated that his motion would be met by the objection that the course which he proposed was unusual, though it might not be unprecedented. But he denied, that, considering the importance of the subject, the course was either unprecedented or unusual. He would not enter into an argument on the general question from which his hon. Friend had abstained—he would not go into the general discussion—although he was prepared to show both the injustice and the impolicy of these laws, but he would confine his remarks to the case immediately before them, and looking alone at the case which could be made out, they would not be justified in refusing the prayer of the petitioners. Who were the parties who were applying to be heard? They were persons deeply interested in the commercial and manufacturing prospects of the country; they might be fairly taken to represent the feelings of the inhabitants of the manufacturing towns, and these persons told the House that the Corn-laws were injurious to their interests and that their tendency was to annihilate our commerce and to destroy our manufactures. Of these allegations they tendered evidence to the House; and he would ask on what principle would they refuse an inquiry of so much importance? They had been told out of doors, and they might be told in that House, that this was not a reasonable inquiry, and that the statements were greatly exaggerated; but if they were, there was the greater reason for inquiry. Allowing, however, for the sake of argument, that some of the statements were exaggerated—supposing these parties, like others, were somewhat mistaken—did not sufficient remain to justify inquiry? and if the facts were not disputed would they not deserve grave consideration? Was it not stated that those branches of trade, which were made up of manual labour, were driven into foreign markets? And was it not also stated that although our exports, as a whole, had increased, yet that they had increased in articles which were not highly manufactured?—that there was an improvement in the exports of those articles from which 635 machinery was manufactured—that there was an improvement in the exports of fuel, with which that machinery was set in motion—and that there was an increase in the exports of the raw materials out of which the articles themselves were to be produced? And if what had been stated by the petitioners were truly as they stated, was there not ample ground for inquiry? For himself he believed the statements to be true, he believed that they could not be denied, and that it was impossible, with any consistency to truth that they should be denied. Another observation might, perhaps, be made on the motion of his hon. Friend; it might possibly be said that the parties did not come forward under favourable circumstances, because they asked too much; because they were prepared to ask at the termination of the inquiry for the entire abolition of the Corn-laws, and that their demand should not be granted because Some of their own manufactures were protected by duties. He knew that on this statement hon. Gentlemen opposite mainly relied, but with respect to the motion which might be made after the evidence should be heard, whether the House should be asked for an entire repeal, or to substitute a fixed duty, they had nothing to do upon the present occasion. The petitioners asked only to prove at the bar of that House the impolicy and the injustice of the present laws, leaving it to Parliament to determine what was the remedy which the country required. To show, however, that the petitioners were not asking anything that was improper, he would refer the House to the second allegation in the petition, "That all restrictions on trade and commerce are abjured by your petitioners as injurious to the increase of the wealth and capital of this and all other countries." But this was not all the question. He was more particularly interested in this branch of the subject because he happened to stand in that House as the representative of a town, the staple manufacture of which was protected to a large extent. In the town of Derby the silk manufacture was introduced between one and two centuries ago, and it had gone on increasing under protection; but what was the conduct of his constituents? did they ask that any exclusive protection should be given to themselves, when they required that it should be taken from others? Far from it. He had presented a petition from 636 the town council of that borough agreed to unanimously, and another petition from the inhabitants publicly assembled, and also unanimously adopted, in both of which, though they called for the abolition of the Corn-laws, they prayed also that all other classes should be put upon the same footing, and that all protection to manufactures as well as to agriculture should be removed. They might differ as to the policy of the petitioners' prayer, hon. Gentlemen opposite might disagree with the petitioners upon both points, but whether the petitioners were right or wrong there was nothing selfish in their views, and their recommendations and statements were well worthy the attention of the House. This apprehension of exaggeration, however, being entertained, what ought to be the conduct of the House? Were they, because they thought the statements exaggerated, not to hear the evidence of the petitioners to support them? Were the Members of that House to say, "It is true, we think the matter of importance, but we deem the petitioners' statements overcharged, and so we will not hear one word of evidence to sustain them. We will shut our ears to all proof; we will wait till the evil becomes intolerable, and till the remedy becomes impossible." And then, perhaps, some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen would be seen coming down to the House as they had done on some memorable former occasions, and would say that the time had then arrived when the question was entirely irresistible. He had only one word to say as to the form of this motion, that it would throw a serious impediment in the way of public business, and that the time it would occupy world be a serious evil. Now, he would be the last man in that House who would not admit the validity of the argument so far as it went, but, at the same time, he said that whatever might be the result of the inquiry, he believed that their time could not be more usefully occupied, whether they showed by the evidence that the statements of the petitioners were well founded, that there were real grievances of which they complained, and grievances which it was the duty of that House to redress; or whether, on the contrary, it should be proved that the complaints were not well founded, so that the petitioners would believe that they had no just cause to grieve; that thus the agitation which had for some time existed 637 to a large extent, might be put an end to, and the people might see, after the consideration their statements had undergone, that there was no real ground for their demands. He would only make one other observation as to the peculiar situation in which a majority of that House was placed with regard to this question. He would not say one word which might seem to have the effect of menace, or which might produce irritation; but it was impossible that the public could fail to perceive that a vast portion of the Members of that House derived their income from land, and that they might possess, he would not say a sinister, but a peculiar and partial interest upon this subject, different from the public at large. He felt, therefore, that those hon. Gentlemen who had any doubt upon the question should bear this fact in mind, and he would ask them not to do what might be agreeable to their own feelings, but that which would be just to the public, acceptable to the petitioners at the bar, and becoming to the House; and that they would not refuse all redress of the people's grievances, or even oppose all inquiry in a matter in which they were personally interested.
§ Sir Francis Burdett
Sir, I think the hon. Member has given a very cogent reason for the House not wasting its time in hearing evidence at the bar. The facts stated by him with great ability had a considerable effect upon my mind. But supposing the House chooses to take these facts for granted, as I am willing to do, I do not see why we should undergo the fatigue and loss of time in hearing evidence which would be unnecessary, seeing the facts are admitted upon which I think the question ought to be argued. Whenever the question comes before the House, I shall be ready to give it my best attention. At the same time I have not the slightest hesitation in stating my conviction that the landed interests—in which I am principally concerned—are under very erroneous impressions on the subject. On a subject of this description, the facts being as I think, undeniable—I think it more convenient that the discussion should take place upon the merits,
§ Mr. Mark Phillips
regretted, that any Member should talk of wasting the time of the House on a subject affecting the interests of every inhabitant of the United Kingdom. As to the evidence offered by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, it 638 could only be refused on this ground, that it would make unwelcome disclosures. With respect to the operation of the Corn-laws upon the manufacturing interests of that country, they had been developed in an able and masterly manner by his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, and he felt great reluctance in following him upon such a subject. Still, however, he felt it his duty to point out to the House (following the course of his hon. Friend's arguments) what was the increasing importance of the foreign competition to which their manufacturers were now subjected. He believed, that in 1794 that branch of manufacture with which his own constituents were more peculiarly connected—he meant the spinning of cotton and cotton twist—was then almost unknown on the Continent of Europe. But they had lived to see not merely in Europe, but in the United States of America, a most important competition springing up against them in that very article. The quantity of cotton twist now manufactured in the United States was equal to the whole of that manufactured in England at so late a period as 1816; and he would call the attention of hon. Members who were acquainted with the subject, and he would direct the attention of others who were not aware of it, to the circumstance that at the present moment, in the State of Massachusets, twenty-five miles from the city of Boston, in the midst of the manufacturing district, the most extensive of which the Americans could boast, in the town of Lowell, there was a stream calculated as equal to the power of 5,000 horses the larger portion of which had been already employed for cotton factories, and from this district they were not merely supplying the American markets, but he regretted to say beating the Manchester manufacturers in the foreign markets, and that was in a place where fourteen or fifteen years ago, not a single soul was to be found. Now they had a manufacturing district springing up in the midst of the desert, and entering into active competition with the British manufacturers, fast supplying the American market with the articles they had previously supplied, and then successfully competing with them in all the foreign markets. His hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, had stated, and correctly stated, that the Americans were not only supplying their borne markets, but that in the markets of 639 Mexico, South America, along its eastern coasts, and round Cape Horn, they were entering into competition with the British artizans. He would state further in connection with the town of Lowell, that there were not less than 40,000 bags of cotton spun into cotton twist, in that district, but they were not limited in their operation to the markets near their own country, but they met the British manufacturer in the markets the most distant they had—in China—they met them in Canton, and in 1834 there were 166,000, yards of different descriptions of cotton manufactured goods brought by the Americans to that market—and they met them so successfully as rivals there, that the British had not been able to dispose of more than 70,000 yards against them. They were not, even in their own colonial markets, protected against them. And in Calcutta not with standinig there was a duty of 10 per cent. upon foreign manufactured goods, their American rivals had successfully competed with them. Another important fact connected with the United States was, that many of the most recent improvements in cotton spinning were of American invention. He believed, that the patent rights of these improvements were held by Americans, who disposed of them to different manufacturers on the Continent of Europe, where there were establishments for the manufactured machinery. At Zurich, in the Tyrol, and in different parts of Switzerland, there were various establishments which had, in 1834, orders for machinery to the amount of 500,000l. sterling, to be brought into operation in different parts of the Continent. He could go still further with respect to foreign competition. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had stated the rapid increase of manufactures in Switzerland, and he (Mr. Phillips) believed that Switzerland at that moment was consuming 50,000 or 60,000 bags of cotton annually, and was meeting the English manufacturer successfully, notwithstanding their distance from any seaport; notwithstanding as was stated by his hon. Friend, their being 700 or 800 miles from the sea-board. The Swiss were competing with the English in the American markets, and they knew full well, and understood their interest so completely at the present moment, that in Switzerland they still left some of the higher numbers of the cotton twist (he meant the fine descriptions) with- 640 out any duty whatever, because they found, that a greater profit was made by spinning the coarser numbers themselves. If he travelled from Switzerland into Germany, he must come to the same conclusion, that competition met them everywhere; and with regard to Russia there was this most extraordinary fact, that last year the quantity of cotton wool imported into Russia for the purpose of being manufactured into twist, amounted to as much as the cotton twist that was actually imported from Great Britain. It was stated to him only a few weeks ago, by an intelligent friend, who had been lately making the tour of the Continent, that he had visited some of the spinning manufactories established in the Tyrol, and he should like to describe to the House in what manner that had been effected. By British enterprise and British capital, derived from men, who, if they had remained at home, would have formed a portion of his constituents. When the House had been debating, two years ago, the question of factory labour, and the restriction to certain hours, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, whom he did not then see in his place, was pleased rather to smile at some allusions made by him to capital travelling from that and locating itself in other countries. He could only state, that it had already taken place, and to a considerable extent; and, as was well expressed in a petition which he had had the honour of presenting from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, capital owed no allegiance to the soil, but could transport itself wherever it could most profitably be invested. That he looked upon as an incontrovertible fact, and he was sorry to say, that they were beginning to experience the effects of this withdrawal of capital upon the operations of British industry. In some of the great machine manufactories in the borough which he had the honour to represent, the parties directing those establishments had found great difficulty in retaining in their employment some of their best mechanics who had worked for them for many years, notwithstanding the great sums paid to those men to retain their services as skilful workmen, amounting to as much as 5l. per head per week. Such men were much solicited by foreigners, and taken abroad for the purpose of facilitating the manufacture of machinery, to be afterwards brought into competition with the English manufacturers. He had taken occasion to allude, on a former evening, to 641 an exceedingly injurious system, viz., the exportation of cotton twist; and he regretted to say, that they were merely permitted to manufacture that upon sufferance; for as soon as the parties abroad found that they were able to obtain proper remuneration for their capital by employing it in that business, he knew not what means there would be of retaining even that important branch of our manufactures within the shores of this country. The question required the most serious attention of that House. When the time should arrive, and it was pressing on them when they should lose even that, and though he had deplored, and frequently deplored in that House the condition of the hand-loom weavers, if their condition were now bad, he apprehended that it would become still worse; and that that expression which had been made use of by the manufacturers connected with the hardware trade, viz., that in order to retain their competition with foreigners, they must work out the very sinews of their artisans, would be realized. He had presented on that day a petition from 4,000 hand-loom weavers of Manchester. These petitioners stated, that they found it impossible to obtain sufficient remuneration to procure the common necessaries of life—that many of them were without clothing or food—that they had not the means of instructing their children, much less of sending them to places of worship, or Sunday schools, and that so long as they were subjected to this competition with the foreign manufacturers in consequence of the operation of the Corn-laws, they despaired of any remuneration for their labour. They stated, that they had to work fifteen hours a-day, and that the price of provisions at the present moment was nearly double what it was last year, while many of them regretted to say, that instead of its being in the power of the masters to give them better wages, they were now receiving inferior wages to what they had twelve months ago, when provisions were half the present price. He would not occupy the time of the House by reading letters upon the subject, but he was exceedingly anxious that that and a variety of interesting subjects would be made the subject of investigation at the bar of the House. He would not now touch upon the general question of the Corn-laws, but would strongly support the proposition which had been made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, that evidence be taken at the bar to prove what were the effects of the existing Corn-laws 642 upon the general system of manufactures in this country. He would call upon the landlords to recollect that the manufacturers had largely drawn off their population, and had found them active and remunerative employment. But if that state of things was about to arrive which he had predicted—if the time should come when foreigners would be able to compete with the English, not merely on their own ground, but in every market abroad—he must say, that with every wish and every inclination not to give way to exaggerated feelings or apprehensions, he should entertertain the most serious fears as to what would become of the population of the counry. Would the landowners be prepared, in the case of a suspension of trade, to take back that population which the manufacturers had taken from them? He apprehended they would say, they were not able to support them, How then were they to be supported? Would the agricultural class propose that they should be supported by a rate levied upon manufacturing industry—a rate levied upon that machinery which by these laws was rendered nearly useless? If the manufacturing districts were under the necessity, which there was but little doubt they would be in a few years—if they were under the necessity of supporting an idle population, it would operate as an export duty upon every ounce of goods sent to a foreign market. What was to be done with so large a population, which in a few years must be thrown out of employment? They would in great numbers be in want of work, which they could not get, and of bread, which they would find it impossible to get. He had often heard emigration suggested as a means of reducing the superabundant population, but if it was an emigration forced upon them by the want of work, by a failure in our manufactures, the word would sound to his ears very much like transportation. He thought the prayer of the petition was so reasonable, that the House would find itself compelled to accede to it—he hoped that evidence would be taken at the bar, in order to see if the allegations of the petition were true, and if so, whether the remedy suggested was the proper one. Other opportunities would offer themselves for a discussion of the whole question, he would not, therefore, detain the House further than by making a strong appeal to the agricultural Members. Let them not place themselves in a position in which their 643 fellow-subjects might say that they were afraid of hearing the truth. The question was no party one—hunger was no party question, neither could the question of the means of providing provisions for millions be made one.
§ Viscount Howick
Sir, in consequence of what has fallen from the hon. Members for Wolverhampton, Derby, and Manchester, I am anxious to take the earliest opportunity of stating the reasons which induce me to give my opposition to the motion. I, Sir, oppose the motion, not because I am an advocate for the existing system of Corn-laws, on the contrary, from the first moment I had the honour of a seat in this House, I have entertained a strong opinion of the impolicy and the injustice of the existing Corn-laws. In the year 1828 I formed one of a very small minority who joined the hon. Member for Kilkenny, in voting against the principle of the present Corn-laws. The experience I have gained since that time has only strengthened my conviction that the existing laws cannot but be prejudicial to the interests of all classes of the community, and my experience goes to show me that they are more particularly prejudicial to the interests of the agricultural classes. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may consider this a paradox, but when the question comes regularly before the House I shall be prepared to state my reasons for coming to such a conclusion. In the mean time, I will say this, that I will oppose the motion now before the House, not because I am an advocate for the present system of Corn-laws, but on the contrary, because that I am an opponent, a firm and consistent opponent of the present fluctuating scale of duties. I do not, Sir, oppose the motion on the ground of form. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton has quoted many precedents, all of which I am prepared to admit were most pertinent to the subject. In my opinion, it is perfectly fit for the House to take the course prayed for by the petitioners. I can see no irregularity—no impropriety, in adopting that course—but, before doing so, we have most seriously to consider whether it will be advantageous or disadvantageous to us in arriving at a sound view of this very important topic. In my opinion, Sir, it will not have an advantageous tendency; on the contrary, my opinion is, that by hearing evidence at the bar, we shall obstruct instead of promote the desire which we 644 all have to settle the question. I oppose the motion, Sir, because by so going into the inquiry, we should cause great delay in arriving at any conclusion. In my opinion we are now ripe for discussion upon the subject. Both parties—the opponents equally with those who approve of the present laws are in possession of the means of discussing the question. It is not, Sir, so much with respect to the facts themselves that there exists any difference of opinion, the main substantial facts are matters of certainty, and are acknowledged to be authentic on all sides. They do not rest upon the mere statement of witnesses either at the bar or before a Committee, up stairs, the greater part of them rest upon returns, upon official documents which have been laid upon the table of this House—they rest upon information which it is impossible for either side to dispute. From those documents we are made aware of the prices of corn in each year. We are also made aware of the exports and imports of every article, and if the information is not sufficient, we can call for more details—we can call for such information as must make us masters of the question. All that we wish to arrive at is as to the conclusion we are to draw from these facts, which may be taken as authentic—the mode of accounting for the existence of those facts—these are the points upon which any real difference of opinion exists. Sir, if I had wanted anything to convince me that all the materials necessary for the discussion of this question are already prepared, it would have been furnished to me by the elaborate and able speech of the hon. Gentleman who proposed the motion. Every ho. Member who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton must have perceived that four-fifths of the speech was not in favour of any inquiry, but would have formed an admirable speech in favour of an alteration in the present laws. Taking it in that sense, Sir, I admit the facts and reasoning of the hon. Gentleman, but that being so, on what ground does the hon. Gentleman call upon us to hear evidence at the bar? Does he not know the nature of the alteration in trade which has taken place in different countries? Every hon. Member cannot fail to recollect that was one of the documents on which the hon. Member enlarged with the utmost force, and with the greatest accuracy of reasoning. But, 645 Sir, what more is there to be stated on these points? We know the facts, and what is desirable is to connect these facts, with the operation of the Corn-laws; it is to show how these facts arise from the operation of the existing laws relative to the importation of corn. Sir, I believe it is possible to connect the facts which the hon. Member has mentioned with that state of the law. I believe the conclusion at which he arrived is a just one; but I say, if you can establish that conclusion, you can perceive that connection only by the process of argument and of reasoning; and to arrive at that I know no more inconvenient course than the examination of witnesses. Gentlemen who are in the habit of attending Committees of this House will concur with me in the opinion I express, that there can be nothing so entirely unsatisfactory, so entirely inconclusive, as the examination of witnesses on questions of opinion. Questions of opinion require to be discussed in debate—argument requires to be continuous—the several steps of reasoning require to be made one after another, but when you attempt to do this by question and answer, the result is, that you come to conclusions that are illogical, and not likely to work conviction upon any mind. I am sure that hon. Gentlemen who frequently attend on Committees of this House can hardly fail to have arrived at the same opinion. What is really valuable in the Reports of our Committees—what is really of intrinsic value and service in our future discussions on the statements of fact—are the various statements of fact which in the course of such examination are elicited. But upon this subject of the Corn-laws we have those statistical facts which enable us to form a judgment in the most correct manner. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Manchester, who spoke in reply to the hon. Baronet the Member for Wiltshire, in saying that there is no subject at the present moment more deserving of occupying the time and attention of the House—there is none to which we can more profitably give a large share of our consideration. But that consideration to be valuable—that consideration, to be important—should be given in discussion and debate, and not in the form of a desultory and inconclusive examination of witnesses at the bar. But, if I were convinced that upon this subject further information was necessary, and information of such a de- 646 scription that it could only be obtained by the examination of witnesses—if I were satisfied upon this point, I should say that it was worse than idle to conduct the inquiry by means of a Committee of the whole House. Have not Select Committees been often found the most inconvenient instruments for conducting an inquiry? It is found, that hon. Members, having their own particular views, examine witnesses with totally different objects and intentions. The result is, that it is very difficult indeed to follow anything like a regular and connected line of examination. That examination almost always becomes desultory, irregular, and inconclusive, and to get rid of this inconvenience an arrangement is come to, that no hon. Member who has commenced a particular line of examination, shall be interrupted to the close of it. The result of that arrangement is, that you have an interminable and useless repetition of evidence, you have delays which are almost endless, and a mass of evidence which no man can take the trouble to read. Sir, I say this has been practically found to be the result of conducting an inquiry into any complex subject by a very numerous Select Committee, and this has been so universally acknowledged on all sides, that within the last two or three years we have agreed to limit the number of Members who shall be put upon any Committee, except for some special reason, to fifteen names. But, Sir, if this inconvenience is experienced even in a numerous Select Committee, just let me ask what would be the state of an examination conducted before this House. Does any body believe, that a regular and connected examination could be conducted in this manner? Hon. Members who propose this mode of proceeding, must remember, that if they begin inquiry, it will not be in their power to limit it. They cannot confine the examination of witnesses to some thirty or forty questions, prepared beforehand by a Committee of their own number. If we were to attempt that, we subject ourselves to the great reproach, of endeavouring to stifle the truth. No, Sir, each witness must be allowed to be cross-examined; he might be cross-examined by thirty or forty, or one hundred Members, each having his own particular point to prove, and his own particular notion to make good, by a cross-examination. Nor is this all; if you examine witnesses on one side, you 647 cannot possibly refuse to hear witnesses on the other. You cannot bear the manufacturers adduce their evidence, to show that the Corn-laws have worked injuriously to them, and afterwards refuse to hear witnesses on the part of the landed interest, to give you their views of the injury which would result from their repeal. And what would be the consequence? you would have witnesses from England, from Scotland, and from Ireland, to tell you what was the state of agriculture in these different parts of the country; you would be called upon to go into the further question of what is the price at which corn could be grown, in Poland, in Russia, in Africa, or even in India, according to the statements of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; and you would further have to test the evidence you would hear upon these points from one set of witnesses, by the examination of another set, and we should have the same questions raised which have been raised on all Committees, on agricultural distress. It should be considered also, whether it does not form an essential part of such inquiry, to go into that interminable question of the Currency, for the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire, and the hon. Member for Birmingham, would pronounce such an inquiry as this to be altogether illusive, unless you went into that never-ending subject. With such an inquiry as this before us, where can you expect it will end? Will one Session suffice; will two, will three Sessions suffice, to conclude such an inquiry as that? Sir, I say they will not; and I say, that those who, like me, believe that a change in the Corn-laws is of pressing importance, that not only the prosperity, but the very safety of the country, are hazarded by the continuance of the present system, those Gentlemen who concur with me in that opinion will hesitate before they commence this inquiry, because, if we embark upon such a wide ocean, at the instance of those Gentlemen who contend for a change in the law, it will be impossible to return to port at their pleasure, or stop the inquiry where they might wish. It will be in vain for them, when they find themselves wearied, by the manner in which that inquiry proceeds, by the volumes and volumes of evidence which they have before them, it will be in vain for them, in this state of things, to say, "Oh, no! let us have 648 done with the inquiry. Let us proceed to legislate upon the subject; let us return to the track from which we have unfortunately departed in the first instance; let us turn back to the discussion of the subject in the House." These Gentlemen, when they wish to retrace their steps, will be justly met by the remarks, "By your conduct you have admitted the necessity of inquiry—we hold you to your own admission. We require you, having commenced this investigation, not to leave it partial and incomplete. We call upon you to finish it, to go through the whole case, to know the real truth, and the whole truth, before you venture to legislate upon a subject affecting so nearly so many important interests." This would be the predicament in which the advocates of the change would be; and if I were the opponent of any change—if my object were to stifle discussion, and prevent these debates which would lead to a reform and change in our policy—if this were my object, I should recommend that precise measure which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton this night called upon us to adopt. I have heard with great pleasure all that part of the speech of my hon. Friend, in which he stated his grounds for thinking a change in the Corn-laws necessary, but I listened in vain for anything like an intelligent statement of reasons for adopting the particular course he recommends. When my hon. Friend came to that part of his speech he seemed to hurry over the ground, to touch the question lightly and gently, as though he seemed conscious of the inherent weakness of that part of his argument, and like a skilful advocate wished to divert the attention of the House from the subject as speedily as possible. The only thing at all like a valid reason for pursuing the course which my hon. Friend recommends, that I could collect from this part of his speech, seemed to be, that he imagined, that evidence produced at the bar would make a much greater impression than evidence produced before a Select Committee. I do not know what questions would be considered of sufficient importance to induce hon. Members to take the trouble to peruse the immense folios which generally proceed from Select Committees. This is not the manner in which evidence taken before Select Committees is brought to bear on questions, either in or out of this House. It is not in the generality of Members reading 649 the evidence thus produced, but by those persons who really feel an interest in the subject, and who understand it in all its bearings, stating those facts and the reasoning resulting from them in their speeches, and thus bringing them to bear on the House and on the country. What would be the effect of hearing the evidence before a Committee of that House? I doubt much whether hon. Members could be induced to come here and attend; certain I am, that they could not be induced to come here day after day and hear the evidence. For the first day or two, perhaps, we should have a very full attendance—great excitement would exist on the subject, and we should have three or four divisions regularly and closely contested, as to whether an hon. Member, the representative of a manufacturing town, or another hon. Member, the representative of an agricultural county, should have the precedence in examining a witness. No doubt, great excitement would prevail at first. While that excitement continued, is it likely we should make much progress in the investigation of a subject of such a complex nature as this. While this state of excitement continued how could we hope to make much progress in imparting instruction to hon. Members on abstruse points of political economy. After a while this excitement must fail. Hon. Members, the representatives of the manufacturing and the agricultural interests having come to an understanding as to who should have precedence in the examination of evidence, the House would very soon after settle down into the ordinary mode of conducting business. I can picture to myself the appearance which this House would then present in the evening. About half-past seven, we should find our worthy Chairman in the chair, but whether he would be listening to the evidence, or writing verses, or indulging in repose, it is not for me to say. Other hon. Members would be going to their various engagements, and the official Members would gladly embrace the opportunity of accepting engagements to dinner. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester having presented petitions most numerously signed on this subject, might perhaps deem it a duty he owed to those petitioners to attend at the House during the whole time of the investigation; but he would very frequently be the only occupant of the official bench. I ask whether 650 hon. Gentlemen will not agree with me, that this picture which I have now drawn is a correct representation of what will take place should the House consent to the motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton. To use the fine language of my hon. Friend, the petitioners hope that they shall be heard at the bar of this House, and not condemned to the seclusion of a Select Committee. My hon. Friend brings forward as a sound and unanswerable argument in favour of the course which he proposes to adopt, that gentlemen now living, who were examined at the bar of this House against the orders in council, have told him, that at that time hon. Members of this House would come to them, and say—"You have informed us of facts with which we were previously unacquainted; you have enlightened us on the subject, have induced us to change our opinions, and have secured our votes." I am not surprised, considering the time which has elapsed since the issuing of those orders in council, that these Gentlemen should refer to the dim recollection which they must necessarily have on the subject, and be inclined to attribute to their own evidence a much larger share of importance than it is justly entitled to, or than it received at the time. But what was the case of the orders in council? it was an entirely new case; these orders were issued in accordance with the policy of the then Government; of the reasons for which they were issued, the generality of persons were in ignorance, and the facts upon which those reasons were founded were not known. This was a reason for the House proceeding in the way it then did, but is this the case with the Corn-laws at present? Is there any new fact, or any new reasoning with which we are unacquainted? For the last twenty-one years, ever since the year 1815, the Corn-laws have been constantly and perpetually the subject of discussion both in and out of the House. All the facts relating to them—all the arguments from those facts—and the whole state of the case may be made known to any Gentleman who will take the trouble to investigate the subject. There is nothing but facts and arguments with which they were already acquainted to be brought forward on this subject, and these facts and arguments could be far more efficiently brought forward in the course of debate. I know that hon. 651 Members have recurred to the large number of signatures which has been attached to petitions which has been presented to the House, praying to be heard by evidence at the bar. I should be the last person in the world to treat these petitioners with want of consideration, or to dispute the fact, that these petitions are entitled to great weight. But it is our duty as Members of this House, to exercise our deliberate judgment on tie prayer of the petitioners; and if, in our deliberate opinion we should, by granting the prayer of the petitioners, not promote, but defeat, the object which the petitioners have in view, then it is our duty to refuse to grant the prayer of the petition, and no considerations should induce us to grant their prayer against our deliberate judgments. We possess means of forming a judgment on subjects of this nature, which constituencies cannot possibly possess. It is hardly possible, that persons totally unacquainted with the business of this House, should be able to form a correct opinion on these subjects. Our duty to our constituency is, if they have been misled on any subject, not to betray their real interest, by acceding to their expressed wishes; this is our duty, this is the correct course for us to pursue, and from this we should not be induced to swerve by any considerations of popularity. I have no further reasons to offer to the House, but I must say, that I consider this motion as most ill-advised for forwarding the success of that cause in which the petitioners take such deep interest. I am not surprised, that they should have endeavoured to force this course upon their Representatives, but I am surprised at the course which their Representatives have adopted. They have just ground of complaint against those Members who, having Parliamentary information, knowing the ground upon which Parliamentary decisions are founded, have suffered themselves to be misled into the adoption of a course which is detrimental to the ultimate success of the object which they have in view. I must ever deeply regret, that the first debate and first division on this subject should have been brought forward in such a manner, that all who disapprove of that manner, and yet wish well to the object which the petitioners have in view, should feel compelled to divide against this motion. The sense of what is my duty to 652 the House, to my constituents, and to the country, compels me to give my vote against the motion of my hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton, and I regret, that I should be compelled to give my vote to swell that majority which in popular estimation will be regarded as a majority in favour of the existing Corn-laws. It is not my fault, that I am compelled to vote in this manner, but it is the fault of those who have exhibited such a want of judgment in the manner of bringing this question before the House.
, who had given notice of an amendment on the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, rose to say, that it was not his intention to press it. He had expected, when the hon. Member first announced his intention of mooting the subject, that on the present occasion the general question of repeal would have been gone into; and in that persuasion he had given notice of his intention to move an amendment, the effect of which had direct reference to the general question, and not to that now before the House. This being so, he should not put his amendment to-night, but move it on a future occasion, when the question of total abolition or a fixed duty came under the notice of the House.
§ Mr. Ward
, concurring as he did entirely in the propriety of the policy and the necessity of the course pursued by his hon. Friend on this occasion, would endeavour to confine himself in the very few observations he should make to the speech that had been delivered by the noble Lord, the Member for North Northumberland. He had heard that speech with a mixture of pin and pleasure; for while be felt great gratification at the manly avowal of opinion made by a noble Lord, whose position, office, personal character, and ability made him so respectable in that House, yet there were some parts of that speech to which he had listened with the deepest regret. He regretted the conclusions at which the noble Lord had arrived, and, above all the necessity of that division, which the noble Lord himself deprecated, amongst those who were hostile to the Corn-laws; nor could he admit the justice or propriety of the grounds on which that conclusion had been based. The noble Lord contended, that the course taken by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was unfavourable to the object he had in view—the arrival at the truth; and, that 653 all the facts on which the House would be guided in their decision were already before them. That there were official returns he admitted—bald, naked, isolated facts—but facts the tendency of which was disputed—the very origin of which was denied. This was the case. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would say, "even admitting that there is a depression in the manufactures of the country—admitting that you are driven from all the markets you ever possessed—admitting that there is an increase of competition on the part of continental nations—admitting all these facts, we still deny, that the results in question are attributable to the Corn-laws." What did the supporters of this motion ask? To combat such arguments and statements as these, they asked to bring forward the best evidence that could be produced—the practical experience of men who had closely watched every step by which the profits of their manufacturing industry were affected. To place those men at the bar—to give the facts of the case their proper colour—to prove clearly, distinctly, and successfully, the intimate connexion between the depression of trade and manufactures and the Corn-laws. These were what they asked for, and if the House refused to comply with their request they would show a determination to act on a foregone conclusion of their own, without a full knowledge of the facts which ought to guide them. He could not think, that any consideration founded on a supposed waste of the time of the House ought to interfere with a subject of such importance. The time of the House was much more wasted on less important occasions. [Cheers.] He did not know the meaning of that cheer—he was not wasting the time of the House—he was speaking strictly to the point, on which no one of them ought to give a vote without duly weighing the consequences of that vote on the temper of the people at the present time. He confessed, that he had felt surprised at the tone adopted by the noble Lord in turning into ridicule a committee of inquiry of the whole House—when he stated, that the chairman o such a committee would be dozing away his time during the inquiry or writing verses in the chair—that the attendance on such a committee would dwindle away, and the ranks become daily thinner as the dinner hour or any other attraction drew then away—and 654 that thus what ought to constitute the great business of a Session would justify every complaint against the House in its mode of adjudicating on a great national question. The noble Lord had admitted, that the precedents were in point. He had admitted, that in the case of the Orders in Council, the examination of witnesses at the bar of that House was calculated to produce a good effect on the public mind. But then he argued, that that was a new question. Why, the present was a new question. Was it not a new case, that British manufactures were driven out of foreign ports? All the supporters of this motion called for was, that the facts might be heard. The noble Lord had held out, that all those who took the same view of the present motion as he did, were acting against their own better judgment, to court popularity among their constituents. He denied this, as far as be was concerned. In the petition which he recently presented from his constituents he found them detailing facts of the operation of which the House had no accurate knowledge, or means of obtaining it. They wished to give evidence of those facts, and of their connexion with the question of the Corn-laws; and he, believing that test to be a just one, and knowing, that to state isolated facts without demonstrating their bearing on the general question, would only tend to prejudice the due and impartial consideration of the subject, he conjured the House not to allow themselves to be misled as to the effect which the hearing of evidence before a committee of the whole House would produce. He did think, that au object of such vast importance should not be impeded by mere considerations of convenience—by calculations as to the number of days that were likely to be occupied in the inquiry. That inquiry would be strictly limited to those persons who were fully acquainted with the whole bearings of the question. The noble Lord seemed to apprehend, that other questions would be mixed up in the evidence—the currency, and the adjustment of the national debt, for instance. Those questions would the chairman of such a committee would form no part of the evidence, but they would necessarily form part of the discussion of the general question.
§ Mr. Thornely
, as one of the four witnesses on the occasion of the inquiry in 1812 on the effect of the Orders in Council, could not avoid saying a few words. On 655 that occasion the Minister of the day, without there having been a division of the House of Commons, rescinded the Orders in Council after evidence had been heard at the bar. He remembered that the late Mr. Babington, the Member for Leicester, who was in the chair on that occasion, stated that although when he took the chair he was impressed with the propriety of the Orders in Council, the evidence he heard had changed his opinion. Having taken the part he did on the former occasion, he now felt himself, as the Member for a manufacturing constituency, bound to declare his conviction that that House would not do its duty if it did not hear evidence at the bar. The only alteration, if the hearing of evidence were refused, was at once to repeal the Corn-laws. He had himself no interest whatever in manufactures, and very little in commerce; but, on his honour and conscience, he did think that the prospects of the manufacturing interests were most appalling. Unless they turned over a new leaf, unless a new system were adopted, unless not only were the Corn-laws altered, but the free-trade principle adopted to its fullest extent as regarded every article of import, the commercial superiority of the country would be gone for ever. Not a day should elapse before all those statutes were repealed which compelled the manufacturing population to purchase any of their articles of consumption at the dearest market, instead of at the cheapest. The manufacturers were called upon to do what it was impossible for them to do. They were called upon to sell in foreign countries at as cheap a rate as the people of those countries could afford to sell at, who purchased their corn, sugar, timber, and other necessaries at the cheapest rate—the home manufacturers being compelled to purchase them at the dearest rate. Mr. Huskisson had long since demonstrated that this was an impossibility. The difference in price must be deducted either from the profits of capital or from the wages of labour. If the system were not at once altered, the profits of capital would become extinct, and the only alternative of the manufacturers would be immediately to reduce wages. Nothing could avert this result but the adoption of the principle of free-trade. Believing, as he did, that all that the House required was to have the facts fairly stated, he should vote for the motion, and greatly grieved he would 656 be if the House refused to hear evidence at the bar.
§ Lord Worsley
said, that considering the present application for hearing evidence at the bar was got up when the manufacturing towns were clamouring for a repeal of the Corn-laws, he was convinced the object of this motion was to obtain the abolition of those laws. Now, he had made up his mind that the repeal of the Corn-laws would be most prejudicial to the interests of the empire, and he thought that during the repeated discussion upon this question every hon. Member must have had ample opportunities of making up his mind upon the subject. He was a Member for an agricultural constituency, and he was certain the repeal of the Corn-laws would be most injurious to the agricultural, and through them to the manufacturing interests. He could not help recollecting what would have been the condition of this country at a period like that of the late American distress if it had not been for the home markets. He was convinced the present agitation for the repeal of the Corn-laws was the consequence of the late high prices of corn, by which, however, the farmers had not benefited. He could only say, for that part of the country with which he was acquainted, that the produce was so inferior in quantity and quality, that, although the farmer was receiving 75s. a quarter for his corn, the deficiency in produce made that not more than 50s. a quarter, on the other hand the scarcity of food obliged him to increase the wages of his labourers. When the corn was at 50s. the labourers were paid ten shilling a week, whilst now they could not live on less than 13s. 6d. and 15s. He could not help thinking that the object in seeking the admission of evidence was, not to prove the manufacturers less prosperous than hitherto, but merely an ingenious method of introducing the repeal of the Corn-law, and with that view he must declare his intention of voting against the motion.
§ Mr. Horsman
said, he should vote for the motion, because it would lead to a repeal of the Corn-laws. The noble Lord who had just sat down might be well acquainted with the subject, but other Members were not, and was it fair that they should be prevented from informing, themselves upon the question? Until recent facts were laid before the House, he had no idea that our commerce and manufactures had been so much deteriorated by the 657 Corn-laws. The noble Lord (Howick) said, that no new facts were wanted on this question—that the House had already received all the details that could be wished—but it was no evidence that official returns had given but partial information. They might have shown the relation of our exports and imports, but they had not shown any evidence of that alarming competition in foreign countries as was stated by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton in his review of manufactures and manufacturing establishments abroad. But when the House was told, that not only were our exports decreasing—some branches of our manufactures had much declined, and that some countries once our best customers, had now become alarming competitors—that unless speedy change was effected, a great body of our manufacturers must leave the country—it must be confessed, that those facts were new to many hon. Members. They certainly were so to him, and doubtless there were hundreds of facts of equal importance, which would be adduced for the first time, if the proposed inquiry were gone into. Let them ask themselves who came forward to introduce these facts? They were men in whose hands were placed the entire manufacturing capital of this country—who supported a population of five or six millions by their payments of wages, and who had continued to pay them those wages for two years without receiving any profits. He repeated, that those capitalists had paid the operatives for two years without receiving one farthing of profit, and would, he feared have to continue to do so. Now, all that those employers asked of the House as a great favour, was, that the House would concede to them an opportutunity of establishing their propositions by evidence at the Bar; but he feared that if they were to retire with the impression, that all chance of redress from this House was hopeless, they must reduce the wages of their workmen; and in this event he would beg to warn the House against the alarming consequences that must ensue. As for the arguments that had been advanced against the desired inquiry, they differed in no degree from those that had been adduced on former occasions; and when, as the noble Lord admitted, precedents were in their favour he saw no reason whatever, for objecting to the motion. After what the noble Lord had stated as to the probability that if the inquiry were 658 granted, one portion of the hon. Members would be at dinner—another would be asleep—the Chairman would be writing verses—and the only attentive parties would be the questioners, and the answerers, he could only say, that such a description of the House would not much raise it in the estimation of the public. He would not trespass farther upon the attention of the House, but would conclude by entreating them for the sake of justice and humanity not to shut their eyes against the information that the petitioners now offered.
trusted, that as his hon. colleague and himself had presented 170 petitions upon the subject, he might be permitted to say a few words. Now he would at once say, that he would give a decided opposition to the proposal of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, both on point of principle and on point of form. First of all he denied, that there was any necessity for inquiry, because there was no necessity for appeal. He did not think that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had shown that deterioration in our manufactures which he had set out with asserting, but even if he had, other reasons might be shown for it. However, no class of men had a right to say, we will benefit ourselves at the expense of our neighbours; we will get out of the mire on the shoulders of other people. During the long time that he had been a Member of the House he had never known of a similar inquiry. He assured them, that if the inquiry now asked for, were granted, it would go on ad infinitum; for hon. Gentlemen must remember, that if a great number of witnesses should be brought forward to prove one side of the case, they, the Corn-law supporters, should have to bring forward a great number to sustain their side. He would ask them, then, how long was this inquiry to last? Let them consider, further, that they must have two sets of speeches; they must all know, there was another House sitting in town on this question; and no doubt that the members of that House admitted below the Bar must be permitted to make speeches in reply to the speeches of the Members of this House above it. On these grounds he should most decidedly vote against the inquiry. In truth, there was essentially little or no difference between the prices of corn at present and those of apparently cheap seasons. The noble Lord (Worsley) 659 had already shown, that the present high prices were the result of the deficient harvest. They had scarcely had any Corn-laws for several months; the ports were open, the Corn-laws were in complete abeyance. It was therefore an extraordinary time to bring forward the present application; he hoped however, the time would soon come when the question, who benefited by the Corn-laws, or who did not, would be decided. A serious disadvantage, indeed, would be entailed if this motion were to be periodically renewed. It must indeed he a serious inconvenience to gentlemen who had to come up from the country and remain a long time in town to learn, that the question would be put off for a fortnight. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton ought to say, that he would bring the question to an issue.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had very much misconceived the utility of the motion now before the House. He did not know the precise object of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, but he thought that the intention must be an eminently useful one—his object appeared to be to place all the hon. Gentlemen opposite in the wrong—to permit those who complained of the Corn-laws as a grievance, to show wherein the evils consisted, and to explain to the House what were these causes. Did they think that Gentlemen, predisposed on this question, would not be happy to receive information upon it? When the hon. Member for Kendal, on the first night of the Session, brought forward some facts in favour of the present system, which they (the hon. Gentlemen opposite) considered undeniable, did they make any objection then? Not they. He referred to certain admissions which had been made by the Chairman of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Those admissions, which told one way, were eagerly received, while those of an opposite character they now seemed unwilling to permit to be established by evidence. The object of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton and his supporters was, as he had already said, to prove that the hon. Gentlemen opposite were in the wrong. Indeed, in doing this the hon. Member was already successful. If all the hon. Members of the House were as enlightened on this question as her Majesty's Ministers must be, there would indeed be no necessity for further evidence. 660 If they could examine the escrutoirs of the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, and those of some other departments, and see the representations of the Prussian and other governments, showing what advantages would ensue if the restrictions against the importation of their corn and timber were removed, then indeed they might refuse to hear this application. But they had no such ample information. However, he would now ask the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade what representation he and his colleagues had received from those several governments? He had no intention of trespassing on the House at further length, but from the observations of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire and of the noble Lord, he thought it necessary to defend his hon. Friend, who, he thought, had acted wisely and rightly; and had given those who concurred with him an opportunity of proving, that the hon. Gentlemen who opposed the inquiry were entirely in the wrong. He believed that until the manufacturing and working classes should pull together—until the fears of the hon. Gentlemen opposite were operated upon, he repeated, until the fears of those Gentlemen were operated upon by the whole body of the people and the manufacturers pulling together, the Corn-laws would not be repealed. But the day would come, and then the hon. Gentlemen opposite would have a different story to tell.
§ Mr. Cayley
As the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had most truly stated, when the working classes and their masters pulled together they would be irresistible, but the hon. Gentleman was very much mistaken if he supposed the masters had so far deluded the operatives, or that they pulled with them on the present occasion. The operatives of the master manufacturers had had the bitter experience of the last twenty years to convince them of the sympathy which the masters felt for them. Well had he seen since he had become a Member of the House, the sympathy exhibited by that class in favour of the poor, emaciated, crippled, death-like factory workmen. Well did he remember when his hon. Friend had, year after year, brought forward his motion for the relief of the handloom-weavers what was the tone of the masters. Was the tone taken on the present occasion that adopted by them for- 661 merly? Was the subject made a question of hunger, and as if that alone should guide their deliberations on the question? No. It was, that the power-loom weavers and spinners must have employment—that it was impossible for the hand-loom weavers to compete with them, and therefore they must sink, without either commiseration or sympathy. The assertion made use of out of doors, that this was a question of hunger, and ought not to be made a party question, had been again brought forward. Why, good God! if it was a case of hunger—if it was the case of a nation calling out for food, did they think that the landed interest would not be as ready as the manufacturers to come forward and answer that call. It was not a question of hunger, but it was a question of whether the people of the country who had been engaged for centuries in the production of corn for their own consumption, should be allowed to continue their labours instead of being supplanted by the labourers of another country. He entirely agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Northumland, as to the impolicy of consenting to the proposition of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. He denied, that the distress among the manufacturers was in any way attributable to the Corn-laws. Had hon. Members not heard of the panic in the American market, and the reduction that had taken place in the demand for our manufacturers produce both there and upon the Continent? With respect to the statement put forth by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, that the increase of manufactures in other countries arose entirely from the restrictive course adopted by our country with respect to importation of corn, he was prepared to show that the restriction had nothing to do with the matter. Foreign countries, long before that period, were prepared to manufacture for themselves. What was the case with regard to manufactures since the time of the invention of the steam engine? The application of steam came into full operation in the middle of the war towards 1800, and it was impossible that that discovery, or its application, could be carried into effect on the Continent in time of war; but after the peace in 1814, the labouring population abroad had their exertions turned into that channel, and hence the competition that was now springing up. Perhaps he was not confining himself strictly to the question be- 662 fore the House, but he felt it right to answer the observations of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. He denied, that the landed proprietors of that county had more interest in the question than the yeomen or shop-keepers of the West-Riding of Yorkshire, in fact the latter had a ten times greater interest. He should give his decided opposition to the motion.
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
said, that as it appeared to be the opinion of the House on this occasion that the general question of the Corn-laws should be reserved for discussion on a future occasion, he would not then go into that subject. It was therefore his intention to confine himself to the question under discussion, namely, the motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, to hear evidence at the bar. He had given way with great pleasure to his hon. Friend the Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire, to hear what he might have to say against the motion of his hon. Friend behind him. He regretted that more Gentlemen, and especially hon. Members opposite, who were generally known to be adverse to any change in the Corn-laws, had not risen to address the House. It certainly appeared rather strange that only three hon. Members, and all of them sitting on his own side of the House, had got up to advocate the refusal of the motion of his hon. Friend. He could well understand the grounds on which the motion was opposed by those who repudiated any change in the policy of the Corn-laws, and he could understand why his hon. Friend who spoke last thought it to be both inexpedient and unwise to grant the motion. The hon. Gentleman stated, that he knew no reason for it, and this was because he wished for no new information favourable to the repeal. His hon. Friend was probably, like his noble Friend (Lord Worsley), and his hon. colleague the Member for Lincolnshire, against any change; they had made up their minds to allow no change, and there fore would have no new evidence brought before the House. But this was a very different answer coming from them, (the Opposition) coming from those who professed themselves favourable to a change. He would intreat the House to remember what would be the feelings of that great body of petitioners, asking not for a change—asking not for a hasty decision on this subject—not asking you at once to legislate, but that you should only hear their case, and allow them an opportunity of making out their 663 statement, and laying before the House facts which they could prove—what must be their feelings if they were told that the House would hear nothing from them—that they should have no opportunity of making a statement—that the House would not give them permission to prove the facts they alleged by evidence at the bar—but that hon. Members were determined to adhere to the decision that those parties should not come to the bar of the House. Were the persons who thus petitioned them an unimportant body in the country, that the House could afford to treat them in this manner? They were the representatives of the wealth and intelligence of a great portion of this country. They were the representatives of that class to whom the country was chiefly indebted for its wealth, and power, and station among the nations of the world. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might be proud of their landed possessions, and boast of their long lines of ancestors; but what would now be their riches, or the value of their possessions, or their station in the world, had it not been for the rapid advances made in industry, intelligence, and wealth, by the manufacturing and commercial classes, who now pressed at the doors of the House and begged that they would hear their statement of suffering and distress. And who were now the petitioners to be heard at the bar? Why, the representatives of the Arkwrights, the Peels, and the Watts—the representatives of those men to whom you owed the means by which you fought the battles of this country, and contended against the united world in arms for upwards of fifteen years. And when these men only demanded a hearing, and an opportunity of laying their statement before the House, were they to be met with a denial like that made by the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman that you will not hear them because you have made up your minds on the subject? What they asked was an opportunity of stating their case, and of adducing facts, supported by evidence, leaving it to their opponents to disprove them if they could. How would the case stand if this inquiry were refused? What was the case on the first night of the Session? His hon. Friend the Member for Kendal, in that part of his speech which regarded the state of the trade and commerce of the country, observed that the trade of the country, taken on a gross exhibition of the returns, was then in a more favourable condition than it had been in the four preceding 664 years. The consequence was, that the right hon. Baronet opposite, in his answer to my hon. Friend, said, "You have done more to overturn the case in favour of the repeal of the Corn-laws, than the worst opponent of a change could have done with his greatest exertion." They, therefore, asked whether they should have no opportunity of proving their case, and of refuting the errors that had been alleged against them. But this was not a case where they could rest on mere documents, even upon official documents, and in which official documents could be taken as conclusive evidence. The manufacturers said, that their trade was almost closed with some foreign countries, and that they could not continue the competition to which they were exposed in many markets, and to which they were not formerly exposed. They said, "we will produce evidence to prove our statement, which you may contradict if you can—we will show you the manner in which we are competed with, and that we cannot continue it unless you change these laws." This was not all: if any one thing could convince and satisfy him more than another of the propriety of, and, indeed, the necessity of, acceding to the motion of his hon. Friend, it was the refusal they had met with of being heard in another place. So long as they had an opportunity of proving their case in the other House, he should have been satisfied; but access had been denied them there, and indeed, altogether refused, and the petitioners had now nowhere else to prove their case, and they came to that House as the great inquest of the nation, and demanded that justice, which was never denied in this country to any one—namely, that they should have an opportunity of proving their grievance. But what were the arguments that they had heard from hon. Gentlemen who were against any change of the Corn-laws? Why, that they had made up their minds on the subject. But the petitioners requested that they might be allowed to state their case, by which they hoped to effect a change in the minds of hon. Gentlemen; but they were told in reply, that if this were allowed, inconvenience would arise. But when hon. Gentlemen considered the interests at stake, and the claims of the persons from whom these petitions came, and the gravity of the matter under discussion, would that not weigh with them? But it was asked, "How can you examine witnesses satisfactorily at the Bar of the 665 House with the view of obtaining full information?" and they were told, that at the commencement of the inquiry too many questions would be put to the witnesses, and at the latter part of it too few. There was one case which he rested on as a parallel to the present—he meant the case of the Orders in Council—more than anything else that had been alluded to. They had heard the result of the inquiry into that case from his hon. Friend, who opened the discussion. If he required a confirmation as to the propriety of the course now proposed, it was furnished by the result on that question. A reference had been made to this subject in another place last night, and a quotation had been used respecting it, and being but a quotation he could refer to it without impropriety, and it confirmed him as to the impression likely to be made on the minds of Gentlemen by this mode of investigation. He would not do the majority of that House the injustice of supposing, that they had made up their minds against all change in the Corn-laws. But before he came to this point he would answer the objection that had been urged, that if the House acceded to inquiry great delay would take place, and the settlement of the question one way or the other would be postponed; but he had heard exactly the opposite argument used. Now it could hardly be seriously argued, that delay could be the object of the petitioners; but they were anxious, that the House should not proceed with too much haste, and that a decision should not be come to too soon. With regard to the quotation respecting the decision in the Orders in Council, he differed from some parts of it, such as attributing that result to the effect of clamour out of doors, as he did not think, that clamour proceeded to any great extent on the subject. It was, however, to this effect:—On the 20th of April, 1812, the House agreed, without a division, to hear evidence in support of the petitions. The inquiry on the side of the petitions was solely conducted by two Members, and each night presented a new operation and new defeats to the advocates of the Orders in Council, and new advantages to the opposite, by incidental debates on petitions presented, by discussions arising on evidence tendered, and by other matters broached occasionally in connection with the main subject. Government at first, conceiving and hoping, that the clamour which had been raised out of doors against their policy would soon subside, endeavoured to gain time and to put off the hearing of the evidence; 666 but the party anxious for inquiry, kept steadily to their purpose, and insisted on calling in their witnesses at the earliest possible hour. They at length prevailed so far as to have it understood, that the hearing should proceed daily at half past four, and continue till ten, at least, by which means they generally kept the examination on foot until a much later hour, when all except those who took a particular interest in the subject, had long since left the House.The result was well known; it was the repeal of the Orders in Council. He anticipated, that a similar result would be obtained if they went into the inquiry respecting the Corn-laws. He repeated, that he would not do hon. Gentlemen the injustice of supposing, that they were so prejudiced on this subject, that nothing would alter their opinions respecting the Corn-laws. That this inquiry at the bar would more than anything else alter their opinions he had not the slightest doubt, and it was precisely because such had been the effect in the case of the Orders in Council, that he was anxious for such an inquiry in this case; because the facts that would be adduced were of that nature, that Members of Parliament, from their avocations, were not likely to have any knowledge of. It was precisely on this ground, that a change of opinion took place in the former case, and such, he presumed, would be the result of the present matter, if they would call evidence to the bar, and open a discussion on the facts, that would be stated. His noble Friend said, that if they heard evidence on one side, they must be prepared to hear it on the other. He was anxious to hear it on both sides. He knew that a great many statements had been put forward in petitions, which were utterly inconsistent with the truth. It was only that morning on turning over the petitions that accompanied the votes, that he found one from an agricultural district, which he believed had been presented by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire; he alluded to a petition from the parish of Landbeach, in that county. It stated, "that your petitioners had witnessed with indignation and alarm the dishonest and shameless clamour raised by interested parties against the Corn-law s." [Cheers from the Opposition,] It was very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to cheer the opinion here expressed, that the clamour that had been raised was dishonest and shameless: all that he required was an opportunity of howing that it was not so. Surely hon, 667 Gentlemen opposite would not persist in using such an expression: he did not believe that they would seriously bring a charge of such a general nature against men as respectable as themselves, and deny to them the opportunity of proving their case. But what were the other charges in this petition. They were matters of fact, which could only be proved or disproved at the bar. That it is an unquestionable as it is an undisputed fact, that foreign wheat, if duty free, could, upon an average of seasons, be imported into the English market at a cost, including freight and other charges, of 30s. per quarter, and other grain in like proportion. He utterly denied the truth of this allegation. He allowed that upon a particular occasion or under peculiar circumstances some wheat might be obtained at this rate; this he did not deny: but that they could get a large and permanent supply at this rate was as much out of the question as the supposition that they could get it at 15s. a quarter. It was possible, however, that there were Gentlemen with whom such a statement would have weight, and be conclusive. For instance, a gentleman had written to him a letter that morning, in which he stated that he had tried an experiment respecting prices of corn, and that he had bought wheat at Dantzic at 28s. a quarter, and that he believed he could always do so. No doubt he might have bought wheat at that price under particular circumstances on one occasion, but an assertion of this kind ought to have no weight. If, however, it should have weight with any, let him have an opportunity of disproving it, and this was all that was required. The petition which he had just alluded to proceeded thus:—"Your petitioners, therefore most humbly pray that your hon. House will deal justly in this matter with your petitioners, and not be persuaded to listen to the clamour and importunity of persons whose demand, selfish and dishonest in themselves, cannot be complied with but at the cost of the character and credit of this great country," When such charges, such grievous charges were brought against the manufacturing and commercial classes of this country; nay more, against some of the agriculturists, many of whom were as anxious for a change in the Corn laws as the manufacturers, and when they wished to be heard at the bar in their defence, the House had no right to refuse it to them. His hon. Friend who opened the discussion made a most able statement of facts, and he only sought for an inquiry 668 into those facts. In confirmation of the facts his hon. Friend had stated, he could bear his testimony, and without communication with the manufacturers on the subject, he had obtained other evidence, which induced him to believe, that the trade and manufactures of this country were likely to be in a most perilous position by the operation of the Corn-laws, and he believed, that the prognostication which he took the liberty of offering to the House on this subject a few years ago was not very far from being accomplished; and although there might be some increase in certain articles of manufactures, yet in others the trade was at least stationary, and looking to the progress of foreign countries it must be admitted, that the stationary condition must be unsatisfactory. He would not go into a statement or argument on this part of the subject unless hon. Gentlemen opposite should do so. He would not, from the course that the debate had taken, have gone into this subject after his hon. Friend, had it not been that, standing in the position which he had the honour to fill, it was his duty as well as his disposition to make a few observations to show the correctness of the facts stated by his hon. Friend. He would tell his noble Friend opposite, Lord Stanley, who seemed to think that he had furnished such a triumphant answer to the complaints of the manufacturers, by saying, look to the number of new mills erected at Preston, and other places, he would tell his noble Friend, that he did not deny, that there had been an increase in certain branches of manufacture; and admitting all this by evidence, which he got from other quarters as well as from the returns themselves, he would say, that whatever might be the increase in the manufactures, he believed that the difficulty in holding our own in the race of competition which we had to run had increased greatly and fearfully within the last few years. His hon. Friend had made some allusions to the difference in the character of our exports now from what they were in former times. It was true that in articles that might almost he called raw material, a great increase had taken place in the quantity of our exports, and in those articles into the manufacture of which labour entered to a great extent, and in which the manufacturing process was in a snore perfect state than it was where it went through a great number of stages to complete it. We had suffered most severely from competition. But could it be satis- 669 factory if we only remained standing where we were? Certainly not, because other countries had advanced, and were advancing rapidly in manufactures, while this country, if not retrograding, is at least standing still. With reference to the particular trade which was more especially the subject of discussion, he would allude for a very short time. He wished to direct the attention of the House to the trade with the states called the German Union in this particular branch, and he should divide the articles he alluded to into two classes—those into which labour very much enters, and those into which it enters but little. He, of course, put in the latter class cotton twist, linen yarn, and woollen yarn, as the cost of labour with machinery was only 2,½d. or 3d. instead of 1s 2d., which it would be if not done by machinery. He did not intend to go into a statement of figures unless he was called upon to do so; he would otherwise shortly state the case. The goods that he alluded to were exported to the ports of Holland, Belgium, and the North of Germany, through which the supplies to the states forming the German Union are sent. He would take the last ten years, not including 1838, however, because the returns for that year would not be made out until a late period of the present year. Taking, then, the period from 1827, he divided the articles of export in this trade into the two kinds of labour which he had described, and he would give the total value of each class. In 1827 the amount of the declared value of the exported manufactures of the first kind—that was that which was the result of a greater quantity of labour—was 4,783,000l. and of the latter 2,059,000l, making a proportion of the first kind to the second of sixty-seven per cent. to thirty-two per cent. The result in the subsequent years was as follows:—In 1828 the proportion was sixty-eight to thirty-one per cent.; in 1829, sixty-two to thirty-seven per cent.; in 1830, sixty-three to thirty-six per cent.: in 1831, fifty-eight to forty-one per cent.; in 1833, fifty-five to forty-four per cent., in 1834, the same as the last, fifty-five to forty-four per cent.; in 1836, the proportion was forty-eight to fifty-one per cent.; and in 1837, it was forty-seven to fifty-two per cent. Thus, in the course of eleven years a change had taken place from the proportion of sixty-seven per cent., of the first kind of goods to thirty-two per cent of the second; and forty-seven per cent. of the 670 first to fifty-one per cent of the second. He might be told that the year 1837 was a year pf unusual depression amongst the manufacturers. But this was not the case in this matter, as the exports to the north of Europe in that year were much larger than they were in 1836. This objection, therefore could not apply. By the general returns they arrived near the truth; but it was necessary that they should go much further into details for the purpose of getting at it accurately; it was advisable that they should not merely look to general results; but it was necessary, for the investigation of the truth, to probe the matter, and go narrowly into the whole case. Hon. Gentlemen would of course remember that an address from the House, or commission to inquire into the condition of the hand-loom weavers had been appointed by the Crown. That inquiry necessarily led to an inquiry into the state of things in foreign countries, and gentlemen were sent abroad to prosecute those inquiries. He had moved, some days back, for a return of such reports as had been made to that commission by those Gentlemen. The general report could not, of course, be brought forward till all the several reports had been delivered in. From one of the reports which had been given in, he would beg to make an extract of a few lines. The gentleman who prepared it had investigated the subject intrusted to him in Switzerland, Austria, France, and Belgium, and the extract which he would make from his report had a strict bearing on our competion with foreigners. The extract was to the following effect:—"As a general result, I have arrived at this view, that we are forcing foreign countries to manufacture those goods for their increasing population which they have hitherto purchased from us, and which they would continue to purchase from us to a much greater amount than ever if we would take from them the agricultural produce, which they could well spare, in exchange for the goods which we have peculiar facilities for creating." The report would be on the table of the House in a few days, together with the evidence on which the party had founded his opinions. He had trespassed much longer on the attention of the House than it had been his intention to do on rising. He would conclude with intreating the House not to be blind to the propriety of hearing evidence at the bar. He called on the House to bear that evidence, unless it was their wish to send these 671 petitioners back dissatisfied and discontented. They could gain no other object by a refusal than spreading grievous discontent throughout the country; while by granting the motion, they would at least give a large and influential body of men an opportunity so far to satisfy their minds as to produce before the House the facts of which they were in possession. He trusted, that as fair and candid judges they would hear all the evidence that was offered before they came to a decision on a subject, on which, as he conscientiously believed, rested mainly the prosperity, the happiness, of the people of this country for many years to come.
§ Mr. Hindley
would not trespass more than a minute on the attention of the House, but he wished to read to hon. Members opposite the sentiments of one for whom he believed they entertained great respect; and when he mentioned the name, he had no doubt they would listen to him in silence—he alluded to Mr. Pitt, who, in 1785, when certain petitioners requested to be heard by evidence at the bar of the House, said,That he would at all times be extremely delicate with regard to the introduction of any new precedent into the forms and proceedings of the House, and particularly one of a nature that could by any means interrupt or impede the access of their constituents to Parliament, either with petition, remonstrance, or advice, when they thought their own interest, or that of the public, likely to suffer for want of due information; that he should feel an irresistible temptation to sacrifice, not only the forms, but even the positive orders of the House, rather than suffer them to be an obstacle to any complaints which the apprehensions without doors might give rise to, in finding their way to the bar; and so far was he from wishing to encourage any obstacle of that kind, that although the House seemed almost unanimously to coincide with him, that joint interests were not entitled to separate discussion of counsel, yet he was satisfied he should be called in, and directed to proceed in his argument.That was the way the subject was treated by Mr. Pitt.
Sir H. Fleetwood
would not have risen except for the purpose of giving the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, an opportunity of knowing what the truth was relative to the manufactories of Preston, as the noble Lord had made a speech the other day, the whole effect of which rested on a mere passing conversation. He wished to show the House, and the people at large, that even the noble Lord 672 was not so well acquainted with the subject but that he must make the whole pith and substance of his speech rest entirely on the passing words of another Member passing up this House. He held in his hand information derived from the town he had the honour to represent, coming from gentlemen of the same politics as the noble Lord, and who expressed their astonishment at the statements made by the noble Lord, which appeared in the public papers. They asserted, that no factory (except one) had been commenced since the year 1836; that those which had been built, were engaged for long previously, and that yesterday, in the town of Preston, the working of short time, at eight hours a day commenced. He would not enter into the question then, except to give the noble Lord an opportunity of showing to the House, if he had it in his power, any evidence in contradiction to the facts he asserted the other day. He would boldly assert, the whole of that statement was incorrect. It was a statement only giving part of what he had said. The noble Lord did not ask for information on his authority, but only asked, whether such and such facts were not the case; therefore the noble Lord must have known something of the facts previously, or he would never have asked him, whether they were facts or not. He had no hesitation in stating, that he himself was in error, in the number of factories he had imagined had been built in a few years. The confession of an error was no disgrace. If a man like the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire—himself a Member for a large manufacturing district—was only able to found his arguments on the passing speech of another Member, what must be the case with the majority of, Members connected with the House?
did not mean to enter into any discussion, but wished to say that he should be sorry if anything like an air of ridicule should be cast on this very serious and important question. When his hon. Friend told him he was extremely astonished that he (Lord Stanley) should venture to speak on such loose information as it appeared he had received, as to the number of factories built within the last few years in Preston, he could only express to the hon. Baronet his regret that he should have relied on such loose authority, and assure him that he would never again deem 673 similar authority satisfactory. The fact was, that having entered the House without any intention whatever of taking part in the discussion, he had been startled by a remark of the hon. Member who was speaking at the time, and felt that if it could be proved that within the last few years a great increase of machinery and manufactures had taken place, and many new capitalists had been invited into the trade, his argument would fall to the ground. That was the declaration of the hon. Member for Manchester. Fortunately, or unfortunately for him, the hon. Baronet the Member for Preston was passing at the time, and having had some acquaintance with that town formerly, and on passing rapidly through it last year, remarked, as every one must, the enormous number of factories erecting, he did not ask the hon. Baronet whether or not there had been a great increase lately, but whether he could furnish the exact amount. The hon. Baronet said, he could furnish the precise amount, and stated, that during the years 1836 and 1837 there had been built in the town of Preston 19 new factories, one of them involving an expense of 60,000l. before it could be brought into operation, which had occasioned the building of 1,500 houses, and that 11 factories had been built in one year, and 8 in the other. He was accused of having suppressed the fact that in the year 1838 no new factories had been erected. The hon. Baronet said to him, the fact was, that the speculation of the previous period had caused an overbuilding, and now there was a consequent stagnation. That was the statement made by the hon. Baronet to him, of which several hon. Gentlemen near him had beard every word. He should be sorry if he had misled the House in consequence of erroneous information, but he had quoted the words of the hon. Baronet. The hon. Member for Manchester could not deny, that there had been within the last few years a very great increase in the amount of our manufactures and machinery, but contended that that was no proof of our increasing prosperity, because the hon. Member for Preston said, they were contracted for two or three years before. What did he care for that, when he came to the inference which they wished to draw. They attributed to the Corn-laws the production of the greatest distress, and yet they admitted, for they could not escape from the fact, that whether in 1836 and 1837, or in 1831 and 1835, when the Corn-laws had been in existence for many 674 years, there had been e confesso of all parties a vast increase of the number of factories. But it was said the manufacturers did not make so large profits as formerly. No man could dispute, that since 1815 other nations had been applying their energies to manufactures, and that their produce had been gradually increasing. Just as a child between eight and nine years old grew three inches, while a boy from eighteen to nineteen would grow perhaps one, their manufactures being in a stage of infancy had made a greater stretch than ours. Therefore the manufacturers said, "This is a proof, not that our manufactures are declining, for they are increasing, but that the Corn-laws, and the distress they produce, are the cause of our manufacturers' losses," That, he must be pardoned for saying, was an argument which could least bear following out of any he had ever heard. His hon. Friend had really thrown a little ridicule on this subject, and he might therefore mention a comparison he had heard applied. A friend of his wrote to him the other day, "The manufacturers are very like an old match woman who came up to me the other day as I was passing through one of the streets in London, and begged for charity. She said, I get my living by selling matches, and I assure your honour I lose by every one I sell; but, God be thanked, I sell a great many.'" That very much resembled the present complaints. The manufacturers said, "We assure you we lose on every article of our produce, but, God be thanked, our trade is increasing; the only fault we have to find is, that others are increasing as well as we." As to the fact of the great increase in our manufactures within the last few years, he would turn to a document, the authority of which, he apprehended, would not be disputed—the first report of the Poor-law Commissioners for 1835. Dr. Kaye, in his report relative to the district of Manchester, specified the quantity of steam-power either recently erected but not supplied with hands, or which is ordered and will be in operation in a year and a-half or two years, in the cotton district of Lancashire and its immediate vicinity. In the township of Hyde, the number of firms to which power was to be supplied was nine; in Ashton and Dukinfield, eight; in Stayleybridge, nine; Stockport, seventeen; Rochdale, sixteen; Bolton, nineteen; Todmorden, seven; Preston, ten; Glossopdale, seven; Manchester, twelve, &c., and the entire amount of 675 horse power came to 7,507, contracted for in 1835, when the Corn-laws had been so long in operation to prevent our industry from developing itself in its full scope, but not brought to bear in full effect, in order not to glut the market till two years afterwards. As to the condition of the manufactures in the following year, Dr. Muggeridge, who was afterwards appointed to the same district, said, "As regards the increased demand likely to arise for additional labour in manufactures, the expectations of Dr. Kaye, founded on the valuable information obtained last year appear likely, to be fully realised. The estimate he made of the probable extent of the demands is not, I think, overrated." He quoted these statements in his own vindication for having rashly and incautiously adopted the information of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Preston, an imprudence which he never would repeat. He quoted them as his excuse for having suggested, that there might be other causes than the Corn-laws for some depression, not in the amount of our exports, but of the profits made by our manufacturers, and that there might be some ground for supposing, that even at present the manufacturers were not driving a trade in which their loss was large in proportion to the amount of goods they exported.
Sir H. Fleetwood
wished to state to the House what he really had said. He was passing up on the other side of the House, when the noble Lord stopped him, and asked, whether there was not a great increase in the manufactures of Preston. He answered him, that there was. He thought that he had stated, that in one year there was an increase of ten manufactories, and another of nine; but that he had never mentioned to him the year; but when he came back he stated to him, that tile factories then built had been engaged for long before, and that they had been built since; such was what he had really stated to the noble Lord, and though he might think it very well to get rid of a question by a sarcasm, he could not agree with him, that this was a question which ought to be so disposed of.
§ Mr. Brotherton
knew very well, that the manufactures of the country had increased to a very great extent, and he hoped they would continue to increase as the prosperity of the country depended upon it. It was very possible, that a number of mills had been contracted for 676 years ago, which were now completed; he did not deny, that such was the case; but what had been the result? Why, the manufacturers were not getting profit, of that there could be no doubt, and it was also certain, that at many periods those mills were kept at work when the manufacturers were not getting any profit at all; and for the truth of that, he could appeal to a vast body of the manufacturers of the country, when, however, they came to a certain loss, then it was their interest to stand still altogether. With regard to the mills being erected, it had been stated over and over again, that goods which required great labour, had decreased, but that with regard to yarns, the exportation had increased. If Gentlemen determined not to have an alteration in the system of the Corn-laws, until they saw manufactures decrease, they would find to their cost, that that period would be too late. He was convinced, that the interests and prosperity of the agricultural classes depended upon the prosperity of the manufacturers. With regard to the propriety of ordering evidence to be received at the bar—if Gentlemen had made up their Minds that it should not be heard, well and good—for his part he required no evidence at all to prove to him the inhumanity of the present law; he had always been desirous of decreasing the hours of labour for children in factories, and he always should be, but that was not the subject of the debate for that night, though it was clear, that those children were the victims of these laws. All he wanted was a clear stage, and no favour. The hon. Gentleman appeared not to be convinced, that the object of having evidence heard at the bar was, to convince the country, and to enlighten the mind of the landed interest. Bring evidence to the bar of the House, and he would show the farmer that he was not interested in the question, but that the effect was to keep up the rents of the landlords.
§ Lord John Russell
It will be unnecessary for me to trouble the House long on the narrow question now before it, as what has been stated by my noble Friend, the Member for North Northumberland, completely forestalls any argument which I might otherwise have thought it necessary to address to the House. It is precisely on the grounds, that my noble Friend has adduced, that I, too, am prepared to vote against the hon. Gentleman's motion. In so doing, 677 I will admit at once, that I consider his motion as fully conformable to precedent; as, indeed, more in conformity with the ancient usage of the House, than any other mode of obtaining the inquiry. Various precedents might be named, particularly two, both on great questions, on which the House has taken this course. One of these precedents has been alluded to by the noble Secretary at War, namely, the case of the orders in council, and my noble Friend pointed out distinctly the difference between that case and the one before us. He pointed out, that that was at the time a new question, and I may add to his statement, that while it was a question in which the Government of the day felt a deep interest, the Members of the House came down, generally speaking, with minds, as it were, altogether indifferent to the matter, though prepared to listen to the evidence, and decide impartially according to the statement of facts produced in evidence at their bar. But there was another great question on which evidence was heard at the bar, and that was on the state of the slave-trade. The slave-trade was established by law, and when Mr. Wilberforce moved to have that question considered, evidence was produced at the bar, but what was the progress of the affair? In May, 1789, Mr. Wilberforce obtained a Committee of the whole House, and it was ordered, that evidence should be heard at the bar. In January, 1790, the hon. Gentleman came down to the House and stated, that the mode of proceeding so adopted had proved most inconvenient; that very little progress had been made by the examination of witnesses at the bar; and the hon. Gentleman moved, that there should be a Committee up stairs, in order to carry on the inquiry with more convenience and dispatch. He stated, that such a Committee would be able to proceed with the examination of witnesses much more expeditiously than could a Committee of the whole House, who could scarcely ever begin their proceedings till a late hour, or without many impediments. This was the statement which in 1790, Mr. Wilberforce made respecting the Committee of the whole House, which he obtained the preceding year, and I cannot help thinking, that if we were now to agree to the motion of the hon. Member for Wolve hampton, we should, in 1840, find Limn coming forward with a statement that very little progress indeed, had been made; that he had had but a very limited attendance of 678 Members during a great part of the time in which witnesses had been examined, and praying us to adopt some other mode of inquiry. With this impression on my mind, I am not disposed to assent to the mode of inquiry which has been proposed. Sir, I am not unaware of the importance of this question, or regardless of the extent to which it is agitated by those who would repeal the existing Corn-laws, and those who oppose them: and I am by no means prejudging the question of inquiry by taking exceptions to this mode of conducting it. If my hon. Friend should be anxious to have the question examined before a Select Committee, and bring the question in that shape before the House, I will by no means say, that I shall urge any objections to that course. I shall be then prepared to act in concurrence with the facts that may be elicited, and therefore prepared to vote in favour of the question being examined by a Committee. I cannot agree, Sir, with the conclusions of the petitioners, that because this House may be disinclined to hear evidence at the bar, we are, therefore, disposed to shut out all inquiry. I do not think that the petitioners are entitled, at the same time they ask for inquiry, to prescribe the manner in which it shall be taken; and I am satisfied, as I have already intimated, that, as in the case conducted by Mr. Wilberforce, a Select Committee of this House will be the more easy and expeditious mode of receiving information on the subject. It is quite evident, Sir, that we cannot go into the grievances of the manufacturers with reference to the Corn-laws, without hearing what evidence may be adduced also on the part of the agriculturists. And in every point of view in which the question can be considered, it appears to me, that the only course is, that of appointing a Committee. I shall not now enter on the general question of the Corn-laws; it will be sufficient to meet that question fairly when it is fully before the House; and for that reason, Sir, I confine myself to the few observations I have made on the question of hearing evidence at the bar.
§ Sir Robert Peel
; Sir, the sincere respect I feel for the petitioners, my firm conviction that the interests which they represent are of the utmost importance to the general welfare of this country, makes me unwilling to give in perfect silence a vote which may appear to have something of harshness in it, excluding as it does, the inquiry for which they ask. But I find 679 it exceedingly difficult to argue this question on the narrow ground upon which we are called upon to-night to discuss it. Many of the reasons, upon which I feel bound to exclude the inquiry, are the very reasons I shall urge, in vindication of the existing system of the Corn-laws. I must take a larger view of this question than was taken by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, in coming to a decision; and I must look to the general and comprehensive interests of this country. I must ask, even if the fact be admitted, that corn is dearer in this country than in any other. I must inquire from what that has arisen. Is it the fault of the agriculturists, and what connection has taxation had with it. When you tell me that corn is 60s. a quarter, I ask is there not a paramount necessity for maintaining the obligations of public faith,—and is it just to repeal the Corn-laws, while continuing taxation upon the agricultural interests, which is the very cause of the high price of corn? Can I shut out of my consideration altogether the operation of the landtax—the operation of the malt tax—the operation of the Poor-laws—the operation of the county-rate—and of all those burdens which press upon the landed interests? Can I consent to argue this question merely upon the ground, that corn is higher in this country than in any other, and that if it were lower it would reduce the competition with our manufacturers? Sir, I see that I have excited some alarm by stating such important questions, as entering into this subject, but I cannot exclude these great considerations in making up my mind as to the motion before this House. Still, as it appears to be the general wish of the House that this question should be argued upon this narrow ground—I will take that ground; be it narrow ground, or be it comprehensive ground, I am equally willing to argue the question. Well, then, Sir, I am asked to enter into an inquiry at the bar as to the operation of the Corn-laws. Why do I resist it? Upon the narrow ground of there being no direct precedent? Upon the ground merely that the inquiry would consume the time of the House? I do not resist it upon any of these grounds. I resist it from the strong conviction in my own mind that the present system of Corn-laws ought to be maintained—and because you have hitherto brought forward no plausible arguments in my mind. Sir, 680 would there be no evil in the protracted inquiry? You say the inquiry would be merely into the operation of the Corn-laws? Can you limit it? Can you exclude an inquiry at the bar into the effect of the taxation of the land, and other complicated questions? Is it not perfectly clear, that the inquiry must be a most protracted one? Is it not equally clear, that during the progress of the inquiry the application of capital must be suspended—that there must be a total uncertainty on the part of the agriculturists and the manufacturers as to what direction they should apply their capital? And would there not therefore be the greatest evil in an inquiry protracted during this Session and the next? I doubt if you could confine it even within those limits. Then, Sir, I consider whether the arguments that have been brought forward in favour of an inquiry are so cogent as to induce me to enter into it? Sir, I listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. I quite agree with him as to the great importance of this question; and that we ought, excluding all party and political feelings as much as possible—that we ought, as men of business, to inquire whether the manufacturing interests are so depressed—are in such a state of decay as to lay the foundation for the investigation. Now, says the hon. Member for Salford, (not imitating the example of those who preceded him in the debate), "I will throw discredit on the opponents of this inquiry by showing, that this is a landlords' question, and that the farmers have no interest whatever in it." Sir, is it quite so clear that there must be a reduction of rent if the Corn-laws are repealed. Don't you tell us that your object is not to reduce the price of corn—that you don't expect to reduce the price of corn?—yes, many of you say, that though the effect would be to raise the price of corn in foreign countries it will not diminish it here. [No!] Suppose the landlords believe you, and that they don't reduce the rent of their tenants, do you believe when those laws are repealed it will be an easy thing for the tenant where his capital consists of his plough, his household furniture and his stock, to transport himself and his family to new scenes where his industry can be rendered available? Can the tenant transport himself as easily as the manufacturer? This, then, as much land would necessarily be thrown out of cultivation 681 by a repeal of the Corn-laws, is as much a tenant's question as a landlord's; and when we come to the discussion of the general question, I shall be prepared to show that it is not only a question of the greatest importance to the landlord and tenant, but that it is also a question of the most vital importance to the labourer. The opponents of any alteration in the present system will then be ready to show that the good which was anticipated from a repeal of the Corn-laws by their opponents, can only flow from a reduction of wages, and that a reduction of wages, even with a low price of corn, will prevent the labourer from purchasing a greater quantity of bread, or of the other essentials of life, than he does at present. I shall attempt to prove, and I believe that the attempt will be successful, that the labourer, whether agricultural or manufacturing, will not be benefitted by the alteration which the opponents of the Corn-laws propose. The hon. Gentleman has also said, "True, many new manufactories have of late been erected," but with a grave face the hon. gentleman stated, "that no profit had been or could be derived from those undertakings while the present Corn-law system was permitted to exist." Now, when in 1823 a similar argument was applied to the complaints of the farmers, the argument was treated with ridicule, and the farmers were told that new fields were open for their industry, and that if they could not subsist on their farms, Bagshot-heath and other wastes must remain uncultivated, on which they might successfully exert their labour and expend their capital. They had proved on that occasion, as they thought triumphantly, that it was impossible that the farmers could suffer while there were other fields open for their industry, to which they might transport themselves, and other sources of employment where their labour could be successfully exerted. But the same argument is applicable to the manufacturers, and with equal justice it may be said, that they are not bound to their present dwellings, and that they might find other sources for the successful exertion of their industry. But I will take the speech of the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this motion as my guide, and will argue the question on the narrow grounds which the hon. Gentleman has occupied. The grounds which the hon. Gentleman took, were these; (I have taken down the very 682 words which the hon. Member made use of, so that I cannot have any doubt as to his object):—the hon. Gentleman said, "I admit that there has been during late years a progressive increase in certain articles of British manufacture; but I contend, in the first place, that those exports have been made without anything like a corresponding profit; and, secondly, that the increase has been in raw materials, and not in those articles upon which labour has been bestowed by the manufacturer of this country." The hon. Gentleman said, that in those articles on which much manual labour was required, there had been no increase in the amount of exports; but in those articles, as cotton twist, where little human labour was necessary, he admitted an increase had taken place. Now, I will suppose that statement to be correct; but what is the inference which the hon. Gentleman drew from the fact to which he had alluded? The hon. Gentleman said, that by the operation of the Corn-laws, the English manufacturer was subjected to an unfair competition with the other States of Europe; and that the reason why the nations of the continent required more of the raw materials of this country, and less of our manufactured goods, was, because of that competition which had been created by our exclusion of their agricultural produce. The hon. Gentleman said, that the nations of the continent had been forced to become our competitors by the operation of the Corn-laws. Now, supposing the facts which had been stated were correct, I am not prepared to concur in or to adopt the inference which the hon. Gentleman has drawn from them. The hon. Gentleman said, "Don't pride yourself on the superior quality of English manufactures—don't suppose, that their superior quality will command a market on the continent of Europe, for the nations of Europe are now our rivals—have now become our successful competitors by the exclusive and injurious operation of the Corn-laws. In those countries where we once commanded a ready market, manufactories have been established; and to those countries, as the consequence, we no longer export the usual quantity of our manufactured goods." It may be so—I will suppose the hon. Gentleman to be correct; but I will ask him to extend his reasoning a little further, and to inquire whether, after the lapse of twenty-three 683 years of profound peace, it is unnatural to expect that the nations of the continent should devote themselves to those industrious pursuits which they saw this, and other countries successfully following. Is it not inevitable, that those nations should, in the progress of improvement, devote themselves to manufacturing industry; and was it necessary to suppose the Corn-laws the stimulus to the pursuits of the arts of peace? Look at Saxony, says the hon. Gentleman, and see the enormous progress she has made in fifteen years. Why, Sir, I ask the hon. Gentleman to read the history of Saxony for the four years previous to that of 1815, when it was the battle-field whereon all the great contests of Europe were decided; and I ask you, when peace was restored, are you surprised that the inhabitants of that country should turn their attention to this peaceful employment of their capital and labour? Sir, it is because they are men—it is because they are embued with some feelings of a love of gain—these are the reasons why manufactures are extending themselves throughout the continent. But, says the hon. Gentleman, the United States of America are becoming manufacturers. But can anything be more natural than the establishment of manufactories in the United States? As the amount of wild and uncultivated land diminishes, as the operations of agriculture become more difficult, and as the people increase and towns become extended, can it surprise any one that, in such circumstances, the United States should gradually advance into the rank of a manufacturing nation, and that they should seek to supply the wants of the people from the products of their own industry? Such is the inevitable course of things; and it requires no allusion to the Corn-laws to explain the reason of other nations becoming the competitors of the English manufacturers. But, Sir, I say, if I admitted the hon. Gentleman's facts, I should not be prepared to condemn the Corn-laws upon the two grounds which he has laid down; first, that the price of corn is higher in this country than on the continent; and, secondly, that those who were formerly our consumers, are now become our competitors.—[Mr. Villiers: I assert that.] But I deny the hon. Gentleman's facts. The hon. Gentleman says, that there has been a gradual diminution in the export of all those articles in the cost of the production 684 of which the cost of living enters. Now, I trust, that the House will pardon me if I limit myself to the new ground upon which he has argued this question; and I trust, the House will listen to the attempt I shall make to demonstrate the fallacy of the hon. Gentleman's statements. I am going to show you, that the view which he takes of the relative increase or diminution of British manufactures, ought not to be taken as he has described. I am going to show you, that not only has there been an increase in the amount of our manufactures—that not only in the amount of wool or woollen yarn, or of cotton twist or of cotton yarn, has there been an increase; but I will try to convince you, that there has been a progressive increase in the export of those very articles, in respect to the price of which the cost of human subsistence does enter. Sir, I hold in my hand an account which I believe to be correct; being a comparative statement of the declared value of British cotton goods exported from the United Kingdom in each of the last eight years, distinguishing the several species of manufacture. What I am going to show is, that there has been a progressive increase in the last year, as compared with the former seven years. Not in the raw material alone—not in cotton yarn, or cotton twist, but an increase in those very goods in which manual labour chiefly enters, and the price of which ought to be affected by the price of provisions. Now, Sir, the total quantity of cotton goods exported—[An hon. Member: To all parts of the world?] To all parts of the world, and I say that this is infinitely more satisfactory than the opinions of any Gentlemen whom we may examine at the Bar. The hon. Gentleman may tell me that the exports to Saxony have declined on account of powerful cotton-mills being established in Switzerland or in France; but I should protest against any conclusion being drawn from individual testimony. I say, Sir, refer to the total exports; let us know the whole of the trade, and from the general results let us determine whether that argument, founded on the decay of our manufactures, and the only argument I have to contend against is well grounded. I shall exclude all the other points; I shall exclude the case of Ireland; I shall exclude all other considerations, and argue this, as you demand it, on your new ground—namely, has the export of these manu- 685 factored articles, in which the price of exports to Cuba; but in order to decide labour and manual skill chiefly enters, declined? First, I shall take the total amount of cotton goods exported; I shall take the average of the last eight years, and I shall exclude from my calculation those years which the hon. Gentleman, somewhat arbitrarily introduced into his statement, taking at one time the years 1826, 1827, and 1828; and at another time the five years after the peace, but I shall take the last eight years, during which the Corn-laws have been in operation. That is the first test of the Corn-laws. Sir, I contend that these manufactures have flourished, and have progressively increased. I shall compare the average of the last year, 1838, with the averages of the seven preceding years, and I ask any man of reasonable candour to attend to the results which I shall lay before the House. First, I shall state the total amount of cotton goods; the total amount of cotton goods exported in the seven years preceding 1838; the average was 20,100,000l. declared value,—mind, not official value. What was the amount for the last year, 1838? Why, Sir, it in creased from the average of 20,000,000l. to 24,000,000l. Taking the total of cotton goods, the declared value of all the cotton goods exported in 1838, as compared with the seven preceding years, exhibited an increase of 4,000,000l. declared value. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will say, but you include in that, the export of cotton twist and yarn. Certainly I do—I give you the total amount of cotton goods, and I shall tell you what the increase on the export of cotton twist and yarn is. The average of the seven years preceding 1838 was 5,340,000l.; the declared value of the cotton twist and yarn exported in 1838, compared with the average of the seven preceding years was 7,430,000l., thus accounting no try? The hon. Gentleman has afterwards doubt, for 2,000,000l. of the increase of the whole. Now, Sir, I have to account for the remaining two millions, which, in addition to the two millions on cotton yarn, is the total increase for 1838. The hon. Gentleman complained grievously of the declining state of the hosiery trade. He read to the House an account of the exports of hosiery from Saxony to Cuba, and the diminished exports from this country to Cuba. Sir, I say, in order to judge of the whole results one must not take the single case of Saxony, nor the 686 exports to Cuba; but in order to decide whether the hosiery trade is in a state of almost hopeless decrepitude, we must look for the average of seven years' exports to all the world, and then compare the average to 1838. The average of the seven years to which I have alluded, of the hosiery exported, was 587,000l. the declared value; while of the exports of this falling trade in 1838, the declared value amounted to 650,000l. Now, Sir, I will take another large branch of our manufactures, one in which manual labour largely enters. I will now take the articles of calico, muslin, dimities, shawls, and hats. These are articles in which human labour constitutes the greatest part of the value. The average for the seven years before 1838, the declared value of our exports in these articles amounted to 13,300,000l.; in 1838 the declared value of the exports of the same articles had risen to 15,320,000l. This is your ruined and falling-off trade. In cotton twist and yarns, as I have before stated, the average for the seven years previous to last year was 5,340,000l., while in 1838 it had risen to 7,430,000l.; so that you have an increase upon the aggregate exports of the country. I can tell you what it was. The increase during the last year is from the average for the last seven years of 14,700,000l., to the amount last year of 16,700,000l. This is a positive increase, and that increase upon the highest description of our manufactures, upon those in which human labour most largely enters. Now, I shall ask, how can it be gravely contended, with such facts before us, that the manufacturing prosperity of this country is diminishing, and is in such jeopardy as the hon. Gentleman would have us believe, or that the operation of the Corn-laws has been so hostile to the best interests of the country? The hon. Gentleman has afterwards referred to the increase of the imports of cotton into various States in Europe, and therefore, as a consequence, there is good ground for believing that our cotton manufactures must necessarily be on the decline. Now, Sir, I have a return in my hands, I cannot be answerable for its accuracy, but it is taken from a circular which is published in Liverpool, and which is, I believe, implicitly relied on by the trade, and which contains an account of the consumption of cotton in all the countries during 1837 and 1838. The 687 hon. Member referred particularly to Switzerland and the States of Germany. Now, Sir, this return professes to give an account of the quantity of cotton consumed in Europe, and this is what it states. The cotton imported into England in 1837, was 1,059,000 bags, while in 1838 they amounted to 1,208,000 bags. The cotton imported into France in 1837 was 357,539 bags, and in 1838 it had risen to 393,000 bags, showing an increase in France, but the result of the whole imports into the other countries of Europe, comparing the consumption of 1838 with that of 1837, was, that there was a deficiency of two per cent in the latter year. I do not mean to say, that there has been a decline in all countries, but there was a decline upon the whole of two per cent. In France the increase amounted to nine and-a-half per cent; but, let me ask, what was the increase in Great Britain? Why, the increase amounted to seventeen and-a-half per cent. Now, how can it be gravely contended, in the face of these facts, that our manufacturing interest was in such an alarming and failing case, therefore I cannot agree with the hon. Member, that our manufactures are in a gloomy and alarming state, and that our former consumers are about to drive us out of foreign markets. My opinion, Sir, is, that while the blessing of peace remains with us and other nations, it is impossible for us to remain the manufacturers of cotton for the whole world. It is impossible that we can be so, for while a country has a long period of peace, when protection is given to her industry, it is the most natural thing in the world, that she should increase her manufactures, and I was not aware before, that it was one of the maxims of political economy to repine at or to take means to stop the progressive improvemements of the human race. The object of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, is, to increase the price of corn in all foreign countries, in order to check the progress of their manufactures. Not a very benevolent object I must confess. The object then being to diminish the manufacturing prosperity of other countries, is there not a bare possibility that other countries may find out what our object is, and defeat it. Is it not just possible, that they may attempt to save their manufacturers by imposing a duty upon the export of corn, which will deprive us of the large revenue ex- 688 pected from the corn, and wholly defeat our object. I have already stated, that this country consumes fifty-two millions of quarters of grain in a year. Let me now ask whether it would be a wise consideration for this country which has hitherto depended upon internal sources of supply to make the experiment, how far in case of war or famine it might rely upon procuring for money the necessary amount of food from foreign countries? This would lead us into a general consideration of the Corn-laws, into which according to the proscribed limits of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton I shall not now enter, but which I shall be ready to undertake when a general consideration shall come on, and to show, that it is the interests of all classes, and the interests of the manufacturing classes especially, not to persevere in the fallacious notion of interfering with agricultural prosperity to their own benefit. But I argue on the grounds of the hon. Gentleman. He promised to make a prima facie case in support of his motion, that under the present system the declared value of manufactured produce, into which manual labour chiefly enters, has decayed, and that foreign manufactures have increased to an alarming extent; but I have shown, that our exports in general are very much increased, and that those manufactures which are of a finer description have also increased, in our exports, in a corresponding ratio—that if the competition in cotton twist, manufactured abroad, is great, the manufacture of England, in this department is at least equally as flourishing. Now, seeing what must be the evils of a protracted inquiry, and of agitating the public mind, on these narrow grounds—passing by the general considerations of the question, I must, with all respect to the petitioners, give my decided negative to the application.
replied. When I brought my motion before the House this evening, I had some doubts as to the propriety of the course I had adopted, and some doubts as to whether my view was justifiable and correct. I now rise with very different feelings. I am now confident that the course which I took and which the petitioners recommended, was a wise and sensible one. Unfortunately I was not in the House when the noble Lord on the Treasury Bench spoke against the motion; but from what has been repeated to me, I 689 should suppose that he must now feel himself, that what he stated was very little in place. He took it upon him to assure the House, that the inquiry would be idle, because the facts were admitted, and it would be impossible to add anything further to the information of the House. I think this idea of the noble Lord has been pretty well disproved by what has been subsequently said. As I entered the House the noble Lord opposite (Stanley) was speaking. He assumed, I suppose, that my facts were not correct, for he reasoned, as if I had not spoken, and left my views entirely out of the question. He concludes against the inquiry, on account of the increase of factories. He says there are more mills, and therefore more capital has been invested in manufactures consequently, argued he, the manufacturing interest of this country is in a most flourishing condition, but that is overlooking entirely the case I have submitted to the House, as the ground of inquiry. From what I have heard, however, the right hon. Baronet opposite treated the subject with the respect it deserved, and in a more straightforward way than any other hon. Member who has opposed the inquiry. I was told that the noble Lord (Lord Howick) ridiculed the idea of the inquiry, and treated my motion with contempt. [Lord Howick, "No, no."] The right hon. Baronet, however, fairly admitted, that if they should establish the facts which they had alleged in evidence, he had yet made up his mind to mantain the Corn-laws. I do not blame the right hon. Baronet for this difference of opinion with myself; but in disputing the correctness of my facts, he has not fairly represented what I stated to the House. He would, the hon. Gentleman continued, if the House would permit, set himself right with them and the right hon. Gentleman on this subject, by briefly recapitulating what he had said concerning it in his opening speech. He begged to assure the House, that he could do it in one sentence. All he had said, was, that there were certain indications of coming evil to this country, in the loss, or non-increase of the export of certain manufactured goods, and which well deserved the serious attention of the legislature, he had particularly guarded himself against making any exaggerated statements of general distress, or that the manufacturers were in 690 astate of hop eless decrepitude, and which he begged to say, was the right hon. Baronet's expression, not his. The petitioners stated clearly, that they had ceased to export to other countries, to which they had formerly been in the habit of exporting, while the character of other exports had much changed, and they wished to show the House the cause why this had happened, and why it was, that a rapid increase which had taken place in the exports of other countries, while we had all the advantages attendant upon our being an old manufacturing country, while they were under the disadvantages necessarily attendant upon their being an infant manufacturing population, which so far from being an advantage, as had been represented by some hon. Members, was a decided disadvantage. Now why is it that these countries have so rapidly increased, and that we have not increased in proportion? This inquiry is the case of the petitioners. On this case issue is joined, and on this issue the petitioners wish to offer you evidence. They wish to shew you, that our exports have not increased in proportion to the increasing demands of the world: and that not only do we no longer possess that monopoly of manufacture which we formerly possessed—not only do foreign manufacturers undersell us in their own markets, where we formerly had the monopoly, but they meet us in their markets, and undersell us there. If you admit these facts, and allow that we are undersold, we ask you to inquire into the cause. The right hon. Baronet has stated no fact contravening these positions. He did not deny the official returns—he did not deny, that though the gross exports of goods had increased, that there was a difference in the character of those exports which was one part of our case. But he thought nothing had occurred to-night, to show that the 'House was in possession of sufficient information on this subject to enable it to come to a decision on the general question. It is clear, that the operation of the Corn-laws in producing this state of things is not generally admitted. As long as any difference of opinion remained on this subject, there was a case for inquiry. The petitioners desired to be heard at the bar in preference to going before a Select Committee, because Select Committees had fallen into utter discredit. None of the great changes which had recently been 691 effected had been effected by a Select Committee. In the cases of the Poor-Law and the Municipal Law what had Select Committees done? Not a fact had been elicited by the Poor-law Commissioners which had not over and over again been published by Committees of this House, and yet they had been unable to produce any measure founded on the Reports of those Committees. If it was desired to smother inquiry, the best method that could be adopted, was to refer the matter to a Select Committee. No other argument had really been offered against this mode of inquiry but that of convenience, and therefore he should certainly take the sense of the House upon it.
§ Sir R. Peel
, in explanation, would not have spoken at all on this occasion, if he had understood the first speech of the hon. and learned Member in the sense in which he understood his reply. From the latter he understood that the gentlemen who had petitioned the House were prepared to show certain indications of an approaching evil which provident statesmen ought to attend to. His argument had been directed against that contained in the first speech of the hon. and learned Member, which he had taken down—namely, that the manufacture of articles into which manual labour entered, or which was affected by the price of provisions, was gradually decreasing, and had gradually been driven out of the market by foreign competitors, and he (Sir R. Peel) had read his returns to show this country was not in the condition which he had understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to state.
§ The House divided.—Ayes 172; Noes 361: Majority 189.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abercromby, hn. G.R.||Blewitt, R.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Bridgeman, H.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Briscoe, J. I.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Attwood, T.||Brotherton, J.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Bryan, G.|
|Baines, E.||Buller, C.|
|Bannerman, A.||Buller, E.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Bulwer, Sir L.|
|Barron, H. W.||Busfeild, W.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Butler, hon. Col.|
|Berkeley, hon. H.||Campbell, Sir J.|
|Bernal, R.||Chalmers, P.|
|Bewes, T.||Childers, J. W.|
|Blackett, C.||Clay, W.|
|Blake, W. J.||Clive, E. B.|
|Codrington, Adm.||Macleod, R.|
|Collier, J.||Marshall, W.|
|Collins, W.||Marsland, H.|
|Conynham, Lord A.||Martin, J.|
|Currie, R.||Maule, hon. F.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Milton, Visc.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Davies, Colonel||Morpeth, Visc.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Morris, D.|
|D'Eyncourt, C.||Murray, rt. hon. J. A.|
|Duff, J.||Muskett, G. A.|
|Duke, Sir J.||O'Callaghan, hon. C.|
|Duncan, Lord||O'Connell, D.|
|Duncombe, T.||O'Connell, J.|
|Dundas, C. W. D.||O'Connell, M.|
|Dundas, F.||O'Connell, M.|
|Dundas, hon. J. G.||Ord, W.|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Easthope, J.||Paget, F.|
|Elliott, hon. J. E.||Parker, J.|
|Ellice, Captain A.||Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H|
|Ellice, E.||Parrott, J.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Pattison, J.|
|Evans, W.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Eeilden, W.||Philips, M.|
|Fielden, J.||Philips, G. R.|
|Fenton, J.||Phillpotts, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Ponsonby, hon. J.|
|Ferguson, R.||Protheroe, E.|
|Finch, F.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Rice, E. R.|
|Fleetwood, Sir P. H.||Rippon, C.|
|Fort, J.||Roche, E. B.|
|Grote, G.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Rundle, J.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Salway, Col.|
|Hallyburton, Ld. D. G.||Scholefield, J.|
|Hastie, A.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hawes, B.||Seale, Sir J. H.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Sharpe, Gen.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Smith, J. A.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Smith, B.|
|Hill, Lord A. M C.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Hindley, C.||Speirs, A.|
|Hobhouse, right hon. Sir J.||Standish, C.|
|Stanley, E. J.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Stansfield, W. R.|
|Hollond, R.||Steuart, R.|
|Horsman, E.||Stewart, J.|
|Howard, F. J.||Stock, Dr.|
|Howard, P. H.||Stuart, V.|
|Hume, J.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Humphery J.||Strutt, E.|
|Hutt, W.||Talfourd, Sergeant|
|Hutton, R.||Tancred, W. H.|
|Jervis, J.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Jervis, S.||Thornely, T.|
|Johnson, Gen.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Turner, E.|
|Lambton, H.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Langdale, hon. C.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Leader, J. T.||Wakley, T.|
|Leveson, Lord||Wallace, R.|
|Lister, E. C.||Warburton, H.|
|Lushington, C.||White, A.|
|Lushington, rt. hon. S.||White, L.|
|Lynch, A. H.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Williams, W. A.||Yates, J. A.|
|Wood, Sir M.||TELLERS.|
|Wood, G. H.||Villiers, C. P.|
|Wrightson, W. B.||Ward, H. C.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acheson, Visc.||Castlereagh, Lord|
|Acland, T. D.||Cavendish, hon. C.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Adare, Lord||Cayley, E. S.|
|Aglionby, Major||Chapman, Sir M. L. C.|
|Alford, Lord||Chapman, A.|
|Alston, R.||Chetwynd, Major|
|Arbuthnot, hon. H.||Christopher, R. A.|
|Archbold, R.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Archdall, M.||Clayton, Sir W. R|
|Ashley, Lord||Clerke, Sir G.|
|Ashley, hon. H.||Clive, Visct.|
|Attwood, W.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Attwood, M.||Codrington, C. W.|
|Bagge, W.||Cole, hon. A. H.|
|Bagott, hon. W.||Cole, Visct.|
|Bailey, J.||Compton, H. C.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Conolly, E.|
|Baillie, Col.||Copeland, Alderman|
|Baker, E.||Corry, hon. H.|
|Baring, F. T.||Courtenay, P.|
|Baring, H. B.||Craig, W. G.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Crawford, W.|
|Barneby, J.||Crawley, S.|
|Barrington, Visc.||Cresswell, C.|
|Barry, G. S.||Cripps, J.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Crompton, Sir S.|
|Bell, M.||Curry, W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Darby, G.|
|Bennet, J.||Darlington, Earl|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||De Horsey, S. H|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Dick, Q.|
|Bethell, R.||D'Israeli, B.|
|Blackburn, I.||Donkin, Sir R. S.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Dottin, A. R.|
|Blair, J.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Blake, M. J.||Douro, Marquess|
|Blakemore, R.||Dowdeswell, W.|
|Blandford, Marquis||Duffield, T.|
|Blennerhassett, A.||Dugdale, W. S.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Dunbar, G.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Duncombe, hon. W.|
|Bolling, W.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Dungannon, Visct.|
|Bramston, T. W.||East, J. B.|
|Broadley, H.||Eastnor, Lord|
|Broadwood, H.||Eaton, R. J.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bruges, W. H.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Buller; Sir J. Y.||Eliot, Lord|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Estcourt, T.|
|Burr, H.||Etwall, R.|
|Burrell, Sir C.||Evans, G.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Calcraft, J. H.||Farrand, R.|
|Canning, rt. hn. Sir S.||Fector, J. M.|
|Cantilupe, Visct.||Fellowes, E.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Ingham, R.|
|Fitzgibbon, hon. Col.||Inglis, Sir R.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H,||Irton, S.|
|Fleming, J.||Jackson, Sergeant|
|Foley, E. T.||James, W.|
|Forester, hon. G.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Fox, G. L.||Jenkins, Sir R.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Johnstone, H.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Jones, J.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Jones, T,|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Kelly, F.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Kemble, H.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Kirk, P.|
|Gore, O. J. R.||Knatchbull, hon. Sir E.|
|Gore, O. W.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Goring, H. D.||Knox, hon. T.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Granby, Marquess||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Grant, hon. Colonel||Lefroy, rt. hon. T.|
|Grant, F. W.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Grattan, J.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|Grattan, H.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Greene, T.||Litton, E.|
|Greenaway, C.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir C.||Long, W.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Grimston, Visct.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Grimston, hon. E. H.||Lucas, E.|
|Hale, R. B.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Halford, H.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Handley, H.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Harcourt, G. S.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Hardinge, rt. hon. Sir H.||Macnamara, Major|
|Harland, W. C.||Maher, J.|
|Hawkes, T.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Maidstone, Visct.|
|Heathcote, Sir G.||Manners, Lord C.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Marton, G.|
|Heathcote, G. J||Master, T. W. C.|
|Hector, C. J.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Heneage, E.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Henniker, Lord||Meynell, Captain|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Miles, W.|
|Herries, rt. hon. J. C.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Hill, Sir R.||Miller, W. H.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Milnes, P. M.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Monnypenny, T. G.|
|Hodgson, F.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Hodgson, R.||Moreton, hon. A. H.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Morgan, C. M. R.|
|Holmes, hon. W. A.||Murray, A.|
|Holmes, W.||Nagle, R.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Neeld, J.|
|Hope, H. T.||Nicholl, J.|
|Hope, G. W.||Noel, W. M.|
|Hotham, Lord||Norreys, Lord|
|Houldsworth, T.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Houstoun, G.||O'Brien, C.|
|Howard, Sir R.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Howick, Visct.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Hughes, W. B.||O'Neill, hon. J. B. R.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hurt, F.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Ingestrie, Visct.||Packe, C. W.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Palmer, C. F.||Smith, A.|
|Palmer, R.||Smith, G. R.|
|Palmer, G.||Smyth, Sir G. H.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Parker, M.||Spry, Sir S. T.|
|Parker, R. T.||Stanley, E.|
|Parker, T. A. W.||Stanley, Lord|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Stanley, M.|
|Peel, J.||Stanley, W. O.|
|Pemberton, T.||Stormont, Visct.|
|Pendarves, E. W. W.||Strangways, hon. J.|
|Perceval, Colonel||Sturt, H. C.|
|Perceval, hon. G. J.||Style, Sir C.|
|Philipps, Sir R.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Pigot, R.||Teignmonth, Lord|
|Pinney, W.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Planta, rt. hon. J.||Thomas, Colonel H.|
|Plumptre, J.||Thompson, Alderman|
|Polhill, F.||Thornhill, G.|
|Pollen, Sir J. W.||Tollemache, F. J.|
|Pollock, Sir F.||Townley, R. G.|
|Powell, Colonel||Trench, Sir F.|
|Power, J.||Tyrrell, Sir J. T.|
|Powerscourt, Visct.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Praed, W. M.||Verner, Colonel|
|Praed, W. T.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Price, R.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Pringle, A.||Vivian, Major C.|
|Pryme, G.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Pusey, P.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Redington, T. N.||Wall, C. B.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Rice, rt. hon. J. S.||Welby, G. E.|
|Richards, R.||Wemyss, J. E.|
|Rickford, W.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Roche, W.||Wilbraham, hon. H.|
|Roche, Sir D.||Wilkins, W.|
|Rolleston, L.||Williams, R.|
|Round, C. G.||Williams, T. P.|
|Round, J.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Rushbrooke, Colonel||Winnington, T. E.|
|Rushout, G.||Wilmington, H. J.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Russell, Lord||Wood, Colonel T.|
|Russell, Lord C||Wood, T.|
|St. Paul, H.||Worsley, Lord|
|Sanderson, R.||Wyndham, W.|
|Sandon, Visct.||Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.|
|Sanford, E. A.||Wyse, T.|
|Scarlett, hon. J. Y.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Shaw, rt. hon. F.||Young, J.|
|Sheil, R. L.||Young, Sir W.|
|Shirley, E. J.||TELLERS.|
|Sibthorp, Colonel||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Sinclair, Sir G.||Seymour, Lord|