HC Deb 03 April 1840 vol 53 cc481-541
Mr. Brotherton

said, having presented petitions from 20,000 of his constituents for a repeal of the corn-laws, he wished to say a few words. It was unnecessary to state that great distress prevailed in the manufacturing districts. In Manchester, Stockport, Bolton, and other places, the mills were very generally working short time, or had stopped altogether. The state of destitution in the manufacturing districts, indeed, exceeded what was ever known before. He might state, that in Manchester it was found on inquiring, that 1,950 families, with 8,000 persons included, earned on an average 1s. 5d. a week for each. Now for all this distress there must be a cause. He was free from attributing it entirely to one cause. His opinion was, that there were several causes. One was the over-populated state of some districts; another, he believed, was the corn-laws; and a third was, the state of our relations with America, owing, perhaps, to the attempts which had been made to force up the price of the raw material. Let it be recollected, that our population increased at the rate of half a million annually. Where could all these growing millions be provided for? Could they be provided for by limiting the supply of food, through circumscribing our markets, and thus diminishing the sources of employment for our labour? How could the people be expected to pay the taxation, if they were deprived of the means of supporting the expense of using exciseable articles? On all these considerations, it was important that the state of the corn-laws should be taken into consideration. In general, it was believed that the cause of the present depressed state of trade was our corn-laws. He objected to those laws because he thought them unjust, inhuman, and impolitic. It was unjust to legislate for one class of the community at the expense of the rest. Could it be pretended that the corn-laws were founded on the principles of justice? In his opinion it was an abuse of legislation, to make enactments for the benefit of one class to the injury of another. The rights of industry were as sacred as the rights of property, and they ought therefore to be as firmly secured. Now what was the present corn-law passed for? Why, to secure the rents of the landlord, and to throw the burden of the State upon the people. It had been calculated that this unjust law had thrown a burden of from 20 to 40,000,000 upon the rest of the community. Now he would ask why a law should be passed to protect 30,000 landowners, at the expense of 25 or 26,000,000 of the other inhabitants of this country? The law operated most cruelly and harshly upon the poor man, for it made him pay one-third of his income towards the taxation of the country, while the rich man did not pay more than one-tenth. When they considered that by the New Poor-law Bill the poor were thrown upon their own resources, and were called upon to provide for themselves, he thought it unjust that the poor man should be deprived of the means of disposing of the produce of his labour at the best market. He could not understand how any man supposed he was doing his duty in supporting a law of that kind; on the contrary, religion taught us that it was our duty to "feed the hungry." And was it consistent with that duty to pass a law which prevented the hungry from getting food? Was it not a religious duty of those who made the laws to enable the poor man to obtain food by the labour of his hands, instead of making him depend upon poor-laws, or upon the assistance of the rich? He was of opinion that every man could and ought to be placed in a situation to earn a living, in an honest way, by his own exertions. In his opinion, the corn-law was most unjust, impolitic, and immoral—nay, they were inhuman, for it was inhuman to raise the price of food. He contended that the law was far from beneficial to the country. It was impolitic to the merchants, injurious to every class of manufacturers, and destructive to the artisan. It could not be otherwise than prejudicial to the farmer, and he did not see how it would benefit the landlords themselves in the long run. It had converted into rivals those who were the best customers of our manufacturers. The consequence was, that our machinery was exported, and our artizans emigrated, and in a short time, foreign competition would compel our manufacturers to demand protection, by prohibiting the importation of foreign goods, in order that they might keep the home trade. What they complained of was, that their competitors on the Continent were enabled to obtain their food at a cheap rate, and they were obliged to compete with them with their hands tied behind their backs. No doubt the energies of the country were such as would enable it to rise over every obstacle; but the House should recollect, that it was from the manufacturing industry that the taxes were raised, and if they were crippled, it would eventually terminate in the ruin of the landed interest. All the manufacturers wished was, that the labouring classes should have cheap food, and it was unnecessary for him to refute the mis-statement, that when food was low wages fell. On the contrary, experience had shown, that when the price of food was low, the labouring classes were much better off. At present they had not the means of purchasing a sufficiency of food, and the amount paid in the present year for corn, as compared with 1835, was 30,000,000, which had been put into the pockets of the landowners. It was absurd to say, that one class was independent of the other. They were all mutually dependent on each other, and countries were in like manner dependent on each other. He contended, that God had given to man the fruits of the earth for his sustenance, but human legislation stepped in, and said they should not enjoy all the fruits of the earth—that they should only enjoy the fruits of a part of it, and then they took care to tax them for the fruits of that part which they enjoyed. At the time corn was at the lowest price in this country, land was not thrown out of cultivation. We had to depend on foreign countries for tea, sugar, cotton, and other articles that we could not do without; and therefore we should not be more dependent upon them if we had to receive from them the article of food. If there was but a free trade, everything would tend to the benefit of all classes of the community. It was not for the interest of this country to export corn, but we employed our population in manufactures, and in the shape of manufactures we exported the produce of our country; and it was, perhaps, in allusion to that, that a Gentleman stated last night it was not for the benefit of Ireland to export its corn. Now if manufactories were established in Ireland, and the Irish people could consume provisions on the spot, and export manufactures to other countries, it was quite clear that the agriculturist would gain much more by selling it to customers at home, than they could possibly do by exporting their produce. Everything the manufacturer used had a tendency to benefit the landowner. It was the interest of the landowners to enable the manufacturers to extend their trade—to take their manufactures to neutral markets—and that was to promote the prosperity of the country. It was stated by the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire (Mr. G. Knight) last night, that the only reason why the manufacturers advocated a repeal of the corn-laws was, that they might grind down their workpeople, and that they might increase their own fortunes at the expense of the landowners; and that they ground the bodies of their work-people, and neglected their souls. But when they considered the number of bankruptcies which had occurred lately, and when they saw the number of people who were out of employment, they must be aware that the manufacturers were suffering under great distress. The manufacturers had no protection, and why should the land owners ask for protection? They wanted protection merely that they might increase their rent beyond what they ought, and extract the difference out of the industry of the people. What had been said by the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire last night of the town in which he resided? What had been the conduct of the noble Duke to whom that hon. Gentleman had alluded, and of the inhabitants of that town, to those lecturers who had been sent out by the Corn-law league, to prevent those lecturers from enlightening the minds of the people? Why that hon. Member must know that that noble Duke to whom he had alluded had doubled his rents within the last year—["No, no."] He knew it was a fact that the rents of the Worksop estate had been doubled within the last year. Now, was protection to be given to enable the landlords to double their rents? It was contended that the agricultural labourers would be reduced to a lower state by a repeal of the Corn-laws. He thought they could not be much lower than they were at present, notwithstanding a noble Duke had said in another place that he was astonished labourers should be discontented or ask for a repeal of the Corn-laws when they were earning such wages as 9s. a-week. Manufacturers, he would take upon himself to say, were not in the habit of paying the labourers in this manner when they were in a prosperous condition. In his opinion all classes of the community would be benefited by a repeal of the Corn-laws, trade would be extended, the revenue increased, and employment found for the great mass of the people, and cause them to be satisfied, when they knew that they were living under just and equal laws. If the Corn-laws were repealed, instead of the sun of Britain being set for ever, he was convinced it would rise and shine with meridian splendour, and that the people would be contented, prosperous, and happy.

Mr. G. H, Vernon

said, in regard to the agitation of the parties calling themselves the Anti-Corn-law Association in the town to which the hon. Member had alluded, he must say, that the noble Duke who had been referred to had not one single house in the town, and had no influence with the inhabitants beyond that legitimate influence which resulted from the respect and love with which he was regarded, and the high character which he held; and if the facts were true that the noble Duke had doubled his rents, it did not say much for the opinion of the people against Corn-laws, that with a knowledge of that, a Corn-law agitation could not be got up among them. In this particular instance vast improvements had been effected in the estate, and only one person had declined resuming his tenancy on the increased rent. Now with regard to the general question, he was not at all anxious to be one of those who made long pamphlet-filling speeches. He thought this one of those questions in which it was much more easy for the assailants to make out a plausible case than the defenders. He was one of those who did not like change for the sake of change, and he thought the onus of establishing the necessity for the change in this case, lay upon those who called for the change. He would not go into details, but he would inquire into the motives which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton attributed to those who were opposed to the motion; and he thought it would have been well had that hon. Member confined, himself, and interested himself for those whose peculiar organ he was, and have let those alone who were convinced that they were better off as they were, than they would be in the position in which he wished to place them. The hon. Member had quoted long extracts from evidence given before the Committees on Agriculture of 1833 and 1836, but he hardly called the evidence he read fair. One page of evidence he had read over twice, which consisted of the greatest twaddle he had ever heard, and proved that the hon. Member was not at all a competent judge of the matter. The objection the hon. Member took was, that the farmer was seduced by the promised high price of grain to take a farm at a higher rent than the event justified. Now, if that had been extensively the case, it might be a good argument for something, but as it was notorious that the fact was otherwise, although he would not deny that there might be some isolated cases of that kind, yet no man could say, that the farming interest during the last twelve years had been in a suffering or depressed state; on the contrary; or whence came the number of petitions from almost the whole of the agricultural interest, from almost the whole of the farmers in the country, who with one voice cried out to be left alone with such protection as they at present enjoyed? It was natural that at the time of the Committee some farmers were suffering, and it was equally natural that they should come forward and state their sufferings. He well remembered the evidence of a farmer from Berwick before that Committee. That man said, there was no distress in Berwick. Other Scotch farmers said much the same. For the Scotch were a sensible and sagacious people, and they knew that, although there was a deficiency of wheat, that was compensated by other produce. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, in connecting his argument with the present financial difficulty of the country, said, that the people were prevented from purchasing exciseable articles, because the Corn-laws compelled them to lay out the greater part of their earnings upon the first necessary of life. In order to prove that, the hon. Member made it appear that in the years in which corn was at the highest price, the consumption of soap was at the lowest; the revenue paid upon soap in 1838 being upwards of a million, whereas in 1839 it fell to 740,000l. But the fact was the very contrary. Instead of a million, the duty upon soap, in 1838, was only 670,000l.; and in 1839, the dearer year of corn, it amounted to 740,000l. In the total revenue there was also an increase in the years in which the price of corn rose. He thought it right to make these explanations, as the statements of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton on this subject were calculated to make a great impression in the country. He was aware that there were many collateral questions of political economy which could not be taken into calculation in making these estimates; but it was important when statements were made, and arguments founded on them, that the facts should be rightly stated as an indication and example of how much value should be set upon them. He had ascertained that last year there was the same quantity of soap manufactured, exceeding the quantity manufactured in the present year by only 2,000l. or 3,000l., which was a proof that the consumption still remained the same. Again, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had expressed surprise that every Irish Member should advocate these laws, and he stated, that the export of wheat from Ireland had diminished every year. Now he had ascertained that in the year previous to the new Corn-law, Ireland exported 485,000 quarters of wheat, while last year she exported 542,000 quarters, showing, that the quantity of wheat exported was progressing. Another statement made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was, that the average wages of able-bodied men in this country fluctuated between 5s. and 5s. 6d. per week, and he mentioned an instance in which the magistrate and Board of Guardians had rated the wages from 5s. to 5s. 6d. That might have happened with regard to some idle and useless men, whom it was not thought fit to take into the workhouse; but he would appeal to every Member who had any knowledge of the agricultural districts, whether it was possible to believe such a statement as that of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. The hon. Member stated, that he had made inquiries upon the subject, for the purpose of having the fact verified; but of whom did he make the inquiry?—not of the Board of Guardians, but of the editor of a newspaper in which that fact was inserted. Nobody doubted that the editor of the newspaper might have received that information. To his knowledge, many labourers only received 5s. a week, simply because they would do no work; and the question was, whether they should have that in the House or out of the House? He had never given less than 12s. a week, to any body, whether married or unmarried, and some of the farmers in his neighbourhood had said, that they wondered that he could get men to work for that, as they were giving from 13s. to 15s. a week, in consequence of the high price of corn. He had told them he was very glad to hear that, but his labourers had some advantages in respect of their cottages, and so on. As the chairman of the Board of Guardians in his own dis- trict, he knew that to be the state of the north of Nottinghamshire, and he believed it was the state of the adjoining districts. In the south of England he was aware that wages had not been so high. No doubt the wages of labour in a country ruled by Poor-laws would sympathise with the price of corn. It was well for manufacturers to deny this, but it was certain, if the labourers were suffering in the degree urged by Members on the other side, they would have recourse to the workhouse, where they would receive a larger amount of sustenance than was distributed to the indigent of any country on the face of the earth. He thought he was not doing the Anti-Corn-law party injustice in saying they endeavoured to bring everything available to bear upon their case. But these Gentlemen said, all the distress which they represented as existing was owing to this law. He had in his hand a pamphlet giving the average price of corn in 1829, 1831, and 1836, as 63s. 3d., 64s. 3d., and 66s. 4d. If the Corn-laws were the occasion of distress, it might have been supposed to have existed at periods when there was so much excitement as those. This agitation was the consequence of the excitement respecting organic changes, from which we had been suffering during the last few years. Chartism was another consequence of it. Now, of what had the Chartists complained? Had they said they were starving? No such thing; and notwithstanding all the lecturers who had been sent among them they had not joined in this agitation. They had had sense enough to see that their own grievances were not the grievances of the master manufacturers. He had no hesitation in ascribing the distress under which the manufacturers were now suffering to the state of the American markets and the monetary system of that country, which was only now emerging from its difficulties; and as if that were not enough, we must go to war with China, a country which consumed large quantities of British manufactures. It was impossible to command a steadiness in the price of an article which like corn was affected so much by the weather and other circumstances over which they had no control. If they once put the home market out of cultivation a season of dearth might occur, and they would have to contend with the whole of Europe for every quarter of corn imported, and no regulations which could be devised would prevent a rise in price. It was said that these laws deprived "the people," as they were called, of bread, but look at the population of Ireland—he ventured to assert, that out of the eight or nine millions there, not more than two millions ever eat any meat. Again, look at Scotland. In that country, he believed, not above one-third of the population used meat. In England, if the paupers and other classes were included, at least one-fourth of the population were in the same position. That state of things certainly could not be ascribed to the operation of the Corn-laws. He denied that the result of the present system was calculated to produce ruin to the landed interest; but if such were the case, he was ready to incur the responsibility of maintaining the present system. It was asserted that the bread tax, as it was called, put money into the pockets of the landowners, but he denied that—the extra price, if there were any, was returned again into the circulation of the country, and was expended in the purchase of other necessaries and luxuries. The bread tax, then, operated merely to change the direction of the employment of labour, and on that account it could not be fairly objected to. He contended that the advocates of the repeal of these laws had laid no ground before the House to show that the population had been materially altered in its nature and circumstances, by what was called the bread tax. He confessed that he did not wish to see the contented and happy agricultural population, which was spread over four-fifths of the country, changed into the squalid, agitated, uncertain, fluctuating, up and down condition of the manufacturing population who were dependent upon the success of commercial speculations, upon the winds, and in some instances, as in the case of the operatives employed by the hon. Member for Oldham, upon the benevolence of individuals. That hon. Member, than whom he believed there was not a more benevolent individual in the House, having opposed the Poor-laws, dismissed, as he had a right to do, all his labourers. The motive of the hon. Member might have been a good one, but that immense mass of persons would have been thrown into a state of utter destitution had it not been that the hon. Member was resolved that they should not suffer for the expe- riment which he was making. It might be shown that their commerce was not flourishing at all times, but they must prove that at all times, and under all circumstances, it was in a state of decay, before he could consent to a repeal of these laws. He was not them to contend that corn should be scarce, or bread dear; but dear bread was, after all but a relative term. Whatever might be said by the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, with respect to these laws in producing fluctuations in price, he thought that a document, which had lately emanated from the Board of Trade, containing the average prices of corn in various places, was a sufficient answer to it. These statements must be taken in a general way; within certain limits of correctness; and it appeared from them that that country which was stated as being notoriously infamous for fluctuations in its prices more nearly approached uniformity of price than almost any other. He admitted that to this extent a case had been made out by the Anti-Corn-law party; they might aver it was unjust by any laws to distribute wealth to one class in preference to another; but, as a set off to that admission, he could not leave out of mind the consideration of the enormous mass of vested capital—of fixed capital, which had been irrevocably embarked in the cultivation of the soil, in consequence of the repeated Acts of Parliament which had been passed upon this Subject. If the Corn-law was repealed, all that capital would be lost which it was intended should produce fruit, not for one year, but for fifty years, and there would be a great breach of faith with the existing generation. Not only would there be a vast extent of capital destroyed but an enormous mass of population would be thrown into a state of the greatest misery. They should also recollect that family settlements and arrangements had been made upon the faith of the existing law, and when they recollected what enormous confusion and injustice would be produced by a change of the law, they ought not to make any alteration, unless it was imperatively required. In 1815 there was a far greater outcry among the working classes than there was at present against the Corn-law, and he would venture to say, there had not been that distress which was predicted at that time. Another reason why he opposed any change in the existing law was, because he was convinced it would tend very materially to disturb the balance of the Constitution with reference to King, Lords, and Commons, and he thought that such a change would operate very prejudicially, in degrading the other branch of the Legislature. He knew it had been said, that if the Corn-laws were repealed, this country would place itself in the hands of Prussia, and Russia, and that the port of Dantzic and Odessa could easily be closed against them. He was not one of those who had joined in the cry against Russia —so far from treating Russia as our natural enemy, he thought we ought to cultivate every amicable arrangement with her; but he was not certain if the sort of language was indulged in, which had been held in that and the other House for a year or two, that Russia would not one day make them repent of the haughty language that had been held by their diplomatists. He would conclude by simply observing that, in his opinion, they ought not to place themselves at the mercy of any foreign potentates for food, which they would do if they made any alteration in the Corn-laws.

Mr. R. Hyde Greg

said, it was scarcely possible to adduce any new argument in favour of the repeal of the Corn-law, and it appeared to him, from the determination expressed on the part of that small but very powerful body, the landed aristocracy of this country, that every argument would fail of effect, except it was the argument of agitation. He was afraid the repeal of the Corn-laws would be yielded to no other argument. That was the argument which carried the abolition of slavery, which carried the Reform Bill, and which carried Catholic Emancipation, and he had no doubt that by the time it was a little older it would be equally successful, and would effect a total repeal of the Corn-laws; but if there was one thing that would make it fail of success, it would be a proposition made in good faith and good spirit by the landed interest, to meet them by a compromise, and give them a moderate fixed duty, in which case he was confident disunion would be thrown into the ranks of the agitators, and their forces would be paralysed. It was not his intention to weary the House with detail as to the severe and prolonged suffering that has been experienced in the manufacturing districts; neither was it his intention to allude to the three years of constant loss in manufacture, during which time they had seen their capital gradually wasted away before their eyes. The manufacturers had never said, nor did the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, in advocating their cause, state that the whole of their distress was owing to the operation of the Corn-laws; but they did state that a very great portion of it was to be traced to that source; that if a repeal of the Corn-laws were to take place, there would be an abatement, if not a total cessation of that distress; and, finally, that the Corn-laws compromised the permanent prosperity of their manufactures. He would appeal to the admirable report of Dr. Bowring, in proof of these statements, whom he and others were anxious to have examined by the House, at their bar, about twelve months ago. In that admirable report would be found proof of these five facts:—1st. That very great increase of foreign manufactures, particularly in the countries connected by the Prussian League. 2ndly. The gradual exclusion of English manufactures from that union. 3rdly. That that exclusion was to be traced to the operation of our Corn-laws. 4thly. That the cure for those growing mischiefs would be found in the repeal of the Corn-laws. And, 5thly. That the Government of Prussia had expressed itself ready to enter into negotiations with this country the moment those laws were altered.

The report of Dr. Bowring stated that:— The progress of the cotton manufacture in the states of the League is most striking, for the whole of the League imported a smaller quantity of foreign manufactured cotton in 1836 than Prussia alone imported in 1832. In 1829–31 the excess of cotton manufactures exported over the amount imported was only 6,272 cwt., while in 1836 the excess had increased more than elevenfold, being 70,766 cwt. With respect to woollens, the report stated that:— While the imports of woollens and woollen yarns have continued without any considerable fluctuation, but with rather a tendency to diminish, notwithstanding the increased population, the amount of exported woollens and yarns has been augmented in the proportion of seven to five, or forty per cent. In 1832 the difference between imported and exported woollens amounted to 32,613 cwt., while in 1836 the difference was 54,056 cwt., and in 1837 it was 49,967 cwt. Farther on, Dr. Bowring said:— The tariffs of Great Britain must be modified pari passu, with the tariffs of the Commercial League. Such modifications are so obviously, so essentially, so permanently in the interest of the fifty millions of Britons and Germans, whom such modifications would bring more closely, and unite more firmly together, that I cannot but persuade myself that the Parliament and Government—looking on the one side to the dangers with which we ate menaced by an enormous diminution of our trade, and, on the other, to the blessings which we may communicate by its large extension— I cannot but persuade myself that important changes will be cheerfully welcomed on both sides. The master manufacturers had been accused of seeking the repeal of the Corn-law in order to reduce the wages of the workmen, but that was not the fact. On the contrary, they did not believe that the repeal would have any such effect, for there would directly be an increased demand for manufactures. The landed interest claimed protection, or at least a portion of it; for he presumed that the mountain districts of Scotland, of Ireland, and of Wales, and the whole of the grazing districts of England, were not anxious, for that species of protection which was to be derived from the Corn-laws. It was only the owners of arable land who asked for them; but if protection were claimed for the land owners, he (Mr. Greg) also claimed protection for the 5,000,000 of persons not employed in agricultural pursuits but who were the great consumers of the produce of the land. He doubted, however, the efficacy of any system of protection that could be afforded in these matters. In his opinion, free competition was the only stimulus to the producer, and the only security to the consumer. "Give us a free trade in corn," said the hon. Gentleman, "and you will do more to stimulate and improve agriculture than anything that has been done for the last twenty years." It was said in defence of the existing system, that a high protection was afforded to the manufacture of silk. That was quite true. The manufacture of silk was highly protected; and, if what was true with respect to that particular branch of manufacture were true as respected all other branches, he should be prepared to admit that the agriculturist would have a claim to an equal amount of protection. But the greater part of the manufactures of this country enjoyed no protection whatever. Admitting, however that the agriculturist ought to possess a protection in the home market, equal to that enjoyed by the silk manufacturer— namely, to the extent of 30 per cent.— still he should contend that there ought to be a free trade in corn, and for this reason, that the charges upon importation alone amounted to 30 per cent., which would give to the agricultural interest as great a protection as that now enjoyed by the silk manufacture. The protection derived from the cost of importation was, in fact, the most valuable that any interest could possess. It was a protection that could not be taken away—a protection imposed by nature—a protection that no fiscal regulation could affect—no system of agitation destroy. With such a protection the agriculturist ought to be content. Every additional soul born in the country increased the value of the produce of the soil. This remark was not confined to wheat. Suppose we had 12,000,000 of people, who derived their bread alone from foreign corn, still they must have butcher's meat—still they must have the produce of the dairy—still they would require a hundred things with which the farmer alone could supply them. He maintained, then, that the agriculturist would fully participate in all the advantages enjoyed by the twelve millions in consequence of the absence of a system of Corn-laws, even though those twelve millions should not consume one quarter of British grown wheat. One favourite argument against the free importation of foreign corn was, the impolicy of making any country dependent upon another for its supply of food. That was a specious but a very futile argument. He would make but one remark upon it. Supposing it to be a principle laid down by the State that the population of the country must be kept down so as not to exceed the supply of food that the land could yield—for that was the principle upon which the Corn-law rested. Then, he said, that the increased value given to land by the monopoly, so created ostensibly for the benefit of the state and of the whole population, belonged not to the landowners—not to any exclusive class—but to the state itself. If, by such a monopoly, the value of the produce of the land were increased by 20,000,000l. a-year, that 20,000,000l. might fairly be taken by the state from the landowners, and applied to the general uses of the nation. He held that to be incontrovertible. One observation as to the sliding scale. He believed it to have been infinitely more prejudicial to the country than a high fixed duty could have been. It was a clumsy expedient to obtain a foreign supply when the home growth was short, but it afforded no protection whatever to the consumer against badness of quality, as long as the quantity of the home-growth was abundant, and the price moderate. He begged to ask, whether these miserable laws were to be allowed to continue for ever? Was the population of the country to be for ever doomed to wrestle against the ills of her poverty, produced, not by the lack of labour, but by the dearness of food. Was the population, constantly increasing, to be made dependent for its sustenance upon the accidents of seasons? and when the season failed, was it to be left to the torture of a long convulsive struggle against the woes of famine, until at length the price of British-grown wheat attained the height at which the ports were opened to the produce of more fertile lands? Was this to be the case? or were the people to become wholly (as already they were too greatly) potato-fed? The population was increasing, and would continue to increase. How was it to be fed? This was a question that the Legislature could not long evade. Were a few thousands of landowners to say to 25,000,000 of consumers, "You shall for ever pay us a high price for bread." What right had these comparatively few to say to the whole manufacturing population of the kingdom, "As your numbers continue to increase in a proportion beyond the capability of the land to furnish you with an adequate supply of food, so shall you continue to pay us a higher price?" What right had they to say to the manufacturer, "Your market shall never be extended?" What right had they to say to the shipowners, "You shall never have an increase of customers?" What right had they to limit the food of the present generation—to deprive the people of their comforts, and to prevent millions from coaling into existence? He would not trespass further upon the patience of the House than to declare that, in his opinion, these miserable laws aggravated the fluctuations in prices, rendered food artificially scarce, crippled our commerce, deranged our currency, and materially compromised the prosperity of our manu- factures. He should vote, therefore, with the greatest pleasure in favour of the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton.

Mr. Ormsby Gore

said, that under the circumstances in which this question had been brought forward, he approached the consideration of it with very great regret; and he owned that this feeling was increased by what he had heard from many Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, and even from some who had spoken from the Treasury bench. He regretted most deeply that the violence, the turbulence, the improper conduct of a small portion of the population should have been supported by the speeches of any of those Gentlemen who were Members of her Majesty's cabinet. The noble Lord, the Member for Shropshire (Lord Darlington) on the first night of the debate on this question, gave a very proper description of the paper—the authorised organ of what was called the Anti-Corn-law League in this country. He would not quote the words of the noble Lord, which he was satisfied must be still fresh in the recollection of every Gentleman who heard them; but he would go further, and quote the words of the paper itself. Were these words to be supported by a Cabinet Minister? The accursed Corn-law must be repealed, it cannot be maintained." [Cheers !] He was grateful for those cheers; they marked the spirit in which those who uttered them were disposed to treat the opinion last year expressed by that House, by a majority of two to one upon this question. But he proceeded with his quotation. Murderers of the virtuous, the innocent, the unoffending ! God in heaven, defend us ! Christian men and brothers, petition. The devil's law must no longer be permitted to defile our Statute-book, and devastate our land. Would the Gentlemen opposite cheer that? Well, he would go on. Will the Legislature repeal it? Let them answer, and quickly, for whilst we write, our fellow-creatures die. The law must be, shall be, repealed. Now, if such language were addressed to him upon a private subject, even though he might think it would admit of argument, he should say, "I will not enter into argument with you." It was not language to be addressed to any indivi- dual upon a private subject—it was no language to be addressed to a public assembly such as the House of Commons upon a public subject. But to revert to the question before the House, He was as anxious as any of the Gentlemen opposite could be, that prices should be steady and lower; but he maintained, that the Corn-laws were necessary to produce that result. At all events, they were more calculated to produce them than any proposition he had heard emanate from any of the Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House; and until he heard some better system supported than the present Corn-laws, he should certainly continue to give to those laws his strenuous and anxious support. He was aware that there might be defects in the laws as they at present stood. Let him but see a more effectual law proposed by a Member of influence in that House—let him but see it come forth recommended by a united Cabinet, and advanced upon their responsibility, and he pledged himself, let the Cabinet be composed of what materials it might, that if the measure they proposed appeared to him to be superior to the existing law, he would support it. He confessed that it did not appear to him to be impossible to amend the present law. Even within these few days he had seen a prospectus which he thought deserving of serious consideration. Having offered these preliminary observations, he should now proceed to grapple with some of the arguments advanced by the Gentlemen who supported the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Greg) was mistaken when he said that the silk manufacture was the only one in the country which enjoyed protection. The cotton manufacture was protected to the extent of 20 per cent. The woollen manufacture to the extent of 20 per cent. Iron—some parts of it—upwards of 100 per cent.; glass between 20 and 30 per cent.; and pewter 20 per cent. Why, then, was the land to be the only great interest left without protection? He should now call the attention of the House to the effect produced on the price of corn by the present law, and the result would show that instead of increasing the price, the law rendered corn cheaper, and more steady in price than it was before there existed any such law. The average price of wheat, for the last twelve years, was 56s. a-quarter—the average for the twelve years immediately preceding was 65s., and the average for the twelve years before that was 84s. Reference had been made to the opinions of Mr. Huskisson; he would also quote that statesman's opinion upon this very question. Mr. Huskisson was known to have been, as it were, the father of the free-trade principle, and yet what was it that he said with regard to a free-trade in corn? Let us," said he, "have free-trade, but let the last thing you make free be the production of the land. In a letter written by him on the 28th of May, 1814, Mr. Huskisson observed— The history of the country for the last 170 years, clearly proves, on the one hand, that cheapness produced by foreign imports is generally the forerunner of scarcity, and, on the other hand, that a steady home supply is the only safe foundation of steady and moderate prices. Was not Mr. Huskisson borne out by the state of the averages for the last thirty-six years? He had received a communication from a gentleman, inclosing to him a letter containing the opinion of a very extensive farmer, who, during the last forty years, had expended from 8,000l. to 10,000l. in making improvements on his farm, which he held under lease for nineteen years. That gentleman set forth the dreadful fear under which he laboured, that the Legislature might be induced by the agitation that was existing to give up the protection of the present Corn-laws, under which protection he took his lease— under which protection he expended his money, and under which protection he was now reaping the advantages of that expenditure. He observed— It is not sufficient for me that I should be reimbursed what I have laid out upon this land ! No; I did it on speculative views, and the Legislature cannot think of repealing the Corn-laws without granting the landlords and farmers some equivalent like as it did to the slave owners of the West Indies. This was the opinion of a practical farmer in Ross-shire; so that these opinions extended even to the extreme north of the kingdom, and were not confined to England. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton made a statement respecting the rate of wages paid to a Wiltshire agricultural labourer, which he confessed was the most extraordinary he had ever heard in his life. The hon. Gentleman stated that there were individuals in Wiltshire who only received 6s. and 6s. 6d. a-week for their labour. He never was more astonished in his existence, when he heard that statement. Surely, it must be under very local and peculiar circumstances that such a fact existed. It was impossible to be the general rate of wages of the agricultural labourers there. He understood that the wages there varied from 10s. to 12s. Having a large tract of land in that county himself, he could state that he gave 11s. a week to his waggoner, and 10s. to the common day labourer. He was happy to see his hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire (Mr. Benett) enter the House, because perhaps, he would be able to give an explanation of the circumstance. They were told that if they threw open their ports to the continent, and let foreign corn come in free, we should be able to become the workshop of the whole world. But those hon. Gentlemen who fancied this must also fancy that they could make laws for all the world. Frequent reference had been made to the opinions of Dr. Bowring on the subject of free trade. Now, he should like to open the eyes of a few gentlemen as to the authority of Dr. Bowring. That gentleman had made a voluminous report, very much in favour of sending our manufactures to foreign markets. But what said the Augsburg Gazette in reference to this subject? In that paper of the 28th of December, 1839, it was observed:— That Dr. Bowring was endeavouring to persuade the respectable manufacturers of Leeds and Manchester, and indeed cousin John Bull, of the very great advantages that were likely to be derived from his mission to Berlin. As Dr. Bowring's speeches had found their way into the German papers, it could not be deemed unnecessary to form a judgment on them. Dr. Bowring deceived himself very much if it were his belief that the Germans desired no better fortune than to be allowed to export corn to England, receiving in return British manufactures. Some few landlords on the lower Elbe, and on the furthest borders of the Baltic, might cherish such hopes and wishes; but it could hardly have escaped so keen an observer as Dr. Bowring, that since the commercial league had been established the national spirit in Germany had gained a giant's strength; that a great regard for advancing the industrial position of Germany, in a national point of view, was entertained, and it was believed that great advantages would be derived from the league in a few years. Dr. Bowring had often explained the weight and import of a certain phrase, which, if it had not yet, would soon become the watch-word in Germany, that phrase was 'commercial independence."' These were the opinions of public writers in Germany, as to the importance, to them, of a home manufacture; and what was it they had done in pursuance of those opinions? They were already affording protection to their infant manufactures by prohibiting the import of sheet and hoop iron. It was said, that the British manufacturer would be able to manufacture articles much cheaper if they could obtain cheap com, but would hon. Gentlemen be kind enough to recollect what was the result of the distress which existed in this country in the year 1818? Would they be kind enough to recollect that the King of Prussia put a duty upon the exportation of corn to this country? and not only so, but the King of Prussia made this remark: — Our duty must increase or must diminish, according to the wants of the British nation. Now, how could this country legislate and control the King of Prussia? If they threw a great portion of the land of this country out of cultivation, they must be dependent to a certain extent upon foreign importation. If so, and a bad season came, and they should want an excessive influx of corn, what would be their situation? They would either have a starving population, or else have to pay an enormous duty to foreigners. There was another point he wished to notice, namely, that protection had never yet been taken off any agricultural produce without its becoming the cause of raising the price of that produce. He would take for instance rape. When the duty on rape was 20l. a last, its price was 27l. and 28l. a last: but when the duty was reduced to 10l., then the price fell for a short time down to 16l. a last, but it ultimately rose to 40l. a last. The same effect was produced with respect to clover-seed; and he might affirm the same with regard to every other article of agricultural produce. He would next point the attention of the House to the effect which the abolition of a protecting duty would have upon the condition of the people of this country. He would state this general proposition—that the manufacturers and agriculturists must rise or fall together. Their interests were so linked together, that if one were depressed the other must be. Let them look at the history of the prices in their markets, and they would see, that if the manufacturers were depressed, the agriculturists had no market for their grain, and if the agriculturists were depressed, and could not cultivate their land, the manufacturers were distressed beyond measure. It was obvious, therefore, that the manufacturing population had no interest whatever in seeing the protecting duty on corn abolished. Nor did they in fact call for any such measure. It was only the cry of a few interested individuals that had stirred up the minds of those who would not take the trouble of looking deeply into the question themselves, and who were the sole cause of that shameful, and he would say, to England, disgraceful agitation that had taken place on this subject. He did call it disgraceful to bring with such urgency, he might almost say (looking at what had taken place at some meetings in the country), brute force to bear upon a question that ought to be discussed upon the closest and soundest reasoning. So far from the leading agriculturists pursuing a course of agitation when the malt-tax existed, and its repeal was called for, they did all in their power to discountenance any violent proceedings on the part of the great body to which they belonged. The noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland had expressed an opinion in favour of a fixed duty. Now he (Mr. O. Gore) looked upon a fixed duty to be a humbug. The proposition for a fixed duty was practising deception on the people. It would afford no protection of any sort or kind, and sooner than accede to a fixed duty, he would resort at once to a total and entire abolition. Hon. Gentlemen should bear this fact in mind, that if they threw a large portion of the poorer and middling lands out of cultivation, thousands of agricultural labourers would be unemployed, and those farmers who held rich soils, and continued them in cultivation, would not be able to support them. The strong and hardy peasantry would first be driven to the towns, and lastly to the workhouses, where they would sicken and die. Now, suppose in such a state of things this country were to go to war, from what portion of the population would the Government recruit their army? His right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir Hussey Vivian) had on a former occasion stated that when they wanted recruits in a hurry they sent to the manufacturing districts. There was no doubt about it; but that gallant general was well replied to by a departed friend of his, as gallant a man as ever stood (to use a soldier's phrase) in shoe leather. He would not attempt to use his late friend's words, but the brunt of his argument was, that whenever the army received recruits, the officer whose department it was to examine them was obliged to refuse five out of every ten of those who came from the manufacturing districts, while he would not reject above one out of even ten of those who came from the agricultural districts. But if they threw the agricultural labourer out of employment where would they find men able and strong, and willing to stand by them in the hour of peril? The poet had most beautifully and truly said— Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay; Princes and lords may flourish and may fade, A breath can make them as a breath has made. But a bold peasantry, their country's pride, When once destroyed can never be supplied. He would now for a moment look to Ireland and call the attention of the House to the effect which the repeal of the corn-laws would have upon that country. Ireland exported to Great Britain in 1801–2, 108,000; 1811–12, 273,000; 1821–22, 1,032,000; 1831–32, 1,281,000 quarters of wheat and flour. Mark the gradual increase in this:—from 108,000 quarters in 1801–2, to 1,281,000 in 1831–32. The total of grain exported from Ireland was: —in 1801–2,461,781; 1811–12,995,000; 1821–22, 1,008,000; 1831–32, 5,000,000 qrs. Thus it appears that Ireland exported to this country nearly one-seventh of the whole of the grain brought to the English markets; and yet hon. Gentlemen pretended that it would be beneficial to Ireland if they were to throw open those markets to all the other nations of the world. Could anything be more unjust to Ireland than the adoption of a proposition like that? It was estimated that there were 28,359 families employed to raise the quantity of grain which was sent from Ireland annually to England and Scotland. He would ask the hon. Gentlemen opposite what they intended to do with those 28,359 families? "We have heard a great deal said the hon. Member, about 'justice to Ireland,' but I am sorry to say that those by whom the phrase 'justice to Ireland' is most frequently uttered, are very often most unjust towards that country. Oh, Sir, Ireland is poor, she is unfortunate, she is misguided, she is misgoverned. She is a country rich in her soil, rich in her climate, but I am sorry to say she is also a country where loyalty is a crime, and where agitation is a virtue." But what did a Roman Catholic prelate, the Archbishop of Tuam, say with regard to the employment of the Irish? It was employment he said that they wanted, and if the labourers were employed in working the mines and in bringing forth that wealth which was hidden in the uncultiva ed land, it would provide for the existing distress. They had already taken away the woollen manufacture, and if they now took away the employment arising from the corntillage, they would drive the inhabitants to become the inmates of the workhouses. Ireland sent into that House such a majority as swayed the House upon most occasions, and he hoped that it would afford a majority that would equally sway it upon this question. And here he would have concluded if her Majesty's Ministers had not made this an open question. On what ground her Majesty's cabinet Ministers could have made this an open question he could not conceive. He would as soon have expected that the question of peace or war, or the question of monarchy or democracy, would have been made an open question, as one of so much importance to the welfare of the people of this country and to the position which we hold among the nations of the earth. Was it done to increase their respectability or their name in the country? Was it to increase the finances of the country? Why, when upon this question the leading member of the government decidedly objected to any step, when he declared las year in Parliament that it was madness to contemplate a change, did his colleagues in the face of that madness make this an open question? Surely it could not be that they could form an united cabinet with the two leaders, and the able men that sat around them; or was it that they really wished to attach themselves to that party in the House that scoffed at them— that treated them with contempt, and that treated them, as they said, as made of squeezable materials? He was not attached by any selfish motive, or by other than the ties of an union of sentiment to the Gentlemen below him; and, indeed, if he had met with neglect from any one it was from some of the heads of that party. On this question, especially, he thought with the Gentlemen around him, and he opposed the Gentlemen opposite, not from factious motives, but because he would oppose even those now on his side, if they should succeed to office, and should not make the resistance to such a motion a cabinet measure.

Mr. J. Benett

remarked, that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had said, that wages in the county of Wilts were 6s., or at most 6s. 6d. a week, but such a statement was perfectly incorrect. In the southern part of that county," said the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, "wages were 6s. a week. The case occurred before the bench of petty sessions, held at Durnford, near Salisbury. One Blake, a labourer, appeared, and having stated, that he had been used to work on the stem at 6s. to 6s. 6d. a week, the bench ordered the defendant (the farmer in whose employ Blake was) to pay him 6s. 6d. a week, and further ordered him to indemnify Blake for the expenses of attendance. That statement might be quite correct, but the inferences which the hon. Member drew from it were not justified by the facts. All that the statement proved was, that a man named Blake, of whom they knew nothing, and who might be a most inferior labourer, working for different masters, had 6s. or 6s. 6d. a week; but how did that fact justify the hon. Member's assertion that such were the wages paid to the whole body of agricultural labourers? And he contended that there was no such thing in Wiltshire as farmers meeting in vestry to establish a given rate of wages at 6s. for any district; they never did any such foolish thing. If it could be proved that they did such an act, he would give up the Wiltshire farmers, and what was more, he would give up the defence of the Corn-laws. When hon. Members made these statements they had them on the authority of persons who did not go to the industrious labourer for information, but to the idle and dissolute. Wages, in Wiltshire, he admitted, were, some time last year, as low as 8s.; he did not assert that such wages were sufficient, or that he did not wish they were higher; he did wish that the wages were much higher, and he wished also that the labourers could have those luxuries which they formerly had, and to which he thought they were entitled, their beer and their tobacco; those luxuries, however, they could not have because of the high state of taxation. But although some labourers in Wiltshire did receive only 8s. a week last year, yet the labourers generally had, for some time, received 9s. a week. His hon. Friend had spoken of another parish in Wilts; the parish of Rushall. There," said the hon. Member, "they were large farmers, and the land was arable. The highest wages that were given to able-bodied labourers were 9s. a week. Many had this, but there was this distinction made, that those without families, though they were equally able-bodied with the others, only received 5s. a week. Now, either the labour of an able-bodied labourer was worth 5s. or 9s.; if he was worth only 5s., then the difference between 5s. to the unmarried, and 9s. to the married, must be considered as parish allowance. He admitted, that there was no difference between the work that could be done by a married or unmarried labourer. A man with a family, undoubtedly, could not do more work than an unmarried man; but why did not the great lubberly man who only got 5s. a week go upon the railroads, where there was a demand for their labour, and where the rate of wages was 18s. a week? If they did not, they evidently had other means of livelihood, and other advantages in their present position, otherwise they assuredly would not slay there. No blame, then, could be thrown upon the employers, for they naturally gave as little as they could for anything they purchased, whether they bought labour or manufactures. If the hon. Member for Wolverhampton would come into Wiltshire, he would show him into the cottages of the labourers that he said were in such distress, and he would show him also the pigs in the sties and the well-stocked gardens; and then let the hon. Member go into the manufacturing districts and see whether he could find the same amount of comparative comfort. Still he was ready to admit that there was distress in the manufacturing districts— but what was the cause? His hon. Friend said, that the cause was to be found in the Corn-laws. That he denied; and he said distinctly, that the Corn-laws had nothing to do with the distress in the manufacturing districts. He remembered when those who opposed the Corn-laws opposed them on very different grounds to what they now took—they then opposed them because they wished to lower wages; now, however, they contended that they did not wish to lower wages, but to have a free exchange with other countries. He thought that the wages now were not sufficiently high, but Gentlemen did once contend that it was necessary to reduce wages, to enable them to compete with foreign manufacture. His hon. Friends behind him, too, even now expressed their wish to protect agriculture; he thanked them for their wish, but the agriculturist wanted none of their assistance; they were quite able to take care of themselves. But what did hon. Members really mean? did they mean to reduce the price of corn? did they wish thereby to reduce the rate of wages? If they did make such a reduction, what would be the effect? They said, that the agricultural labourers were in distress, and yet they would reduce the price of corn, that they might reduce these wages already too low. They had not heard one word of any cause for the manufacturing distress, except the Corn-laws. He admitted the distress, and he had foretold twenty-five years ago in that House that the manufactures, and particularly the cotton manufacture, would be distressed. From the moment that peace was established the coming distress was evident to him, for the continental states that had depended upon us for their supply of cotton, and other goods, because there was no security for machinery, would soon find that security, and would, therefore, soon rival us. The fact was, that our manufactures had been encroached upon for a series of years, and we were now deprived of more through the policy of other countries. The cotton trade must leave this country, so far as supplying foreign countries, as certainly as we should be able to prosper without it. This was the cause of the present distress, and he did not think that the repeal of the Corn-laws would benefit the master manufacturers. He was sure that their workmen would not be benefited, while it would create as much distress among the agricultural labourers as was now existing among the manufacturing workmen. Now it appeared that all these gentlemen were free traders. He was not to be deceived by that assertion, for he recollected them as the friends of protection. He remembered well their arguments against free trade, but if they were honest in their present argument, why did they not come down and ask for a free trade first? Let them try on themselves their own experiment, and then let them come to him and his Friends for a repeal of the Corn-laws. In the one case no great injury would arise from a failure: in the other, the injury might be great. It was very dangerous to tamper with corn. He did not like to use figures, for he knew that figures might be made to prove anything, and he would, therefore, take only such as had been referred to by his hon. Friend, and they would be found sufficient to reply to the hon. Member's argument. The hon. Member quoted Mr. Wilson, and said that one-sixth less corn was sown in 1836 than in 1826, and the consequence was, that there was a deficiency in the harvest of 1838, and no wonder. Now, let them see what this deficient harvest was by Mr. Wilson's own showing. Mr. Wilson also told them what amount of corn had been imported during the last six years. He gave the cost, not the quantity of the corn consumed and imported; that was his ingenious way of putting the question. He said, that in 1834, the total cost of wheat was 36,933,333l., while the total cost of foreign wheat was 101,750l.; in 1835, the total cost of wheat was 31,400,000l., and of the latter 34,654l.; in 1836, of the former 38,800,000l., while of the latter 51,177l.; in 1837, 44,666,000l., and of the latter 499,430l.; in 1838, 51,666,000l., and of the latter 4,594,014l.; in 1839, 56,533,000l., and the latter 7,515,800l. The importation of foreign corn in 1838, therefore, was only one-twelfth of the consumption; and in 1839, when the greatest importation took place, it was only three-seventeenths. The greatest exertions were made in 1839 to get imported corn, and yet they could only get three-seventeenths of the whole consumption; and if a check to the extent of one-sixth, as it was said by Mr. Wilson, had been given, it could not be always supplied; and it had not been supplied in the year of what he called the deficient harvest of 1838? What, then, would be the effect of a repeal of the Corn-laws? It would be to check the growth of corn at least one-fourth; and the consequence would be, that there would be a famine in this country, and there would be high prices. The repeal would not lower the price, but it would check production so much that there would be a high price, which would injure the labourers and produce great mischief to all parties. It must be recollected what were the vast interests connected with the land. It was not merely the 13,000 landowners, who might perhaps all be ruined without effecting any great injury, if their ruin affected themselves alone; but were there no persons dependent upon the landowners of England? Had they not the country shopkeepers and traders, and artisans—a very numerous and powerful body? Had they not, also, the agricultural labourers, who, though now in distress, would under the repeal of the Corn-laws become worse and worse, till they were in as bad a position as the manufacturing workmen? Mr. Wilson said again that the average price of wheat for the last seven years had been 52s., including the very high price of two years. What, then, did hon. Gentlemen ask? Were they not satisfied with this price? Did the manufacturers wish to have a lower price? Could they reasonably expect a less price with a repeal of the Corn-laws? He contended that they would not have so low an average price. They might have as low a price for one year, but they would stop cultivation, and the next year there would be a chance of famine. If the farmers had no security for a return of their money, they would not sow wheat. He recollected when Mr. Ricardo was in that House, he laid it down as very bad economy in this country to force poor lands into cultivation, and he contended that, without forcing corn at an enormous price, they could not feed the people; and hon. Gentlemen behind him echoed the opinion; but the document he had quoted from Mr. Wilson showed that they had fed the people, for five years out of seven, without importation. Mr. Ricardo had made his assertion without calculating the increase of population. They had, however, fed the population at the low price of 52s. a quarter, notwithstanding the advance of population that had gone on for five years, through the improvements which had taken place in agriculture. Those gentlemen who were not farmers did not know the meaning of the term they employed, poor lands," for what was poor one day might be rich the next. The use of the sub-soil plough and other improvements had made what was once poor land, rich land. They had increased the fee simple of England and Ireland, and what was that increase but a making a permanent property in this country that would assist in bearing taxation? What had been done with respect to manufactures? Fourteen new factories had been built during the last year, notwithstanding the distress that was said to exist; but the moment the trade should fail, the factories were of no use, and the buildings might tumble down. Improvements in land, therefore, were more durable, and of greater paramount advantage to the country than the extension of manufactures. He entertained a great respect for the manufacturers, but when they told him of their declining prosperity, and of a starving people, and when at the same time he saw them daily getting rich, and buying the landed property of the country, whilst his neighbours were fast disappearing, he could hardly place implicit credit in their statements. That their workmen were distressed he could believe very well. If the Legislature were to repeal the Corn-laws, the effect might be to push our manufactures for foreign sale to a great extent; but the evil by that means, which already existed, would be still further increased. He wished, therefore, to impress on the House the fact, that during peace they could not hope to force their manufactures upon the whole world, and that such a course would have no other end but to extend and increase the misery which already existed. He contended that we were still an agricultural nation, and that we were still in a position to be independent of other countries for food. Out population was rapidly increasing—a circumstance which we owed to manufacture; but he said that so long as the improvement in the mode of production of food continued, notwithstanding the increased population, food enough would be obtained to maintain us, independently of all foreign countries. A time might come, he admitted, when, in our isolated position, we might not be able to raise sufficient food, but when that period arrived it would be soon enough to take measures to meet the evil. He conjured all his Friends, both agricultural and manufacturing, who were attached to their country, to pause before they attempted to make any alteration in the Corn-laws until some necessity arose. With regard to the question of going into committee, if he thought that the discussion which would take place would be conducted in a fair and open spirit, and not according to pre-arranged determination, he believed that he should have nothing to fear; but under existing circumstances, he thought that it was impossible to adopt the motion with any good effect. In conclusion, he begged to express a sincere hope that the House would consider the continuance of the existing Corn-laws essential to the protection not only of the landed, but of the manufacturing proprietors.

Mr. G. Wilbraham

said, that this question had hitherto been argued with reference to two great interests—the agricultural interest at one side, and the manufacturing interest at the other Although he might be justified in grounding his vote upon the well-known opinions of his constituents, whose opinions he represented, and whose interests he was bound to defend, still he would not confine himself to any narrow ground, but would ground his vote on what he considered to be the interest of the community at large. He felt bound to vote against the present motion, but he denied that, in taking this course, he was acting adverse to the interests of the community. He denied that he was influenced by any desire to keep up a high price for corn; but if, by the vote of this House, all protection was taken away from agriculture, when a year of scarcity came what would be the result? He was ready to allow that a repeal of the Corn-laws would, in the first instance, give a stimulus to manufactures, and that employment and wages would be increased for a time. But he contended, that this state of things would not long continue, and that the working classes would find their wages reduced in proportion to the reduction in the price of corn. Whenever a year of scarcity should come, he should be glad to know where they were then to look for a supply of corn, or from what portion of the world they could expect a sufficient supply to feed the people of this country? Those countries on which they were told they might rely, were situated in nearly the same latitude as this country, and it was to be supposed that the same causes that would produce scarcity here might produce the same result there. If hon. Members would look on the map, they would see in how few degrees of latitude different from us those countries were situated on which the advocates of free trade in corn told them they were to rely as the great granary of this country. He remembered that, in 1799, this nation was almost reduced to a state of starvation. Every part of the globe was resorted to for a supply, and bounties were offered for the introduction, not only of corn, but of rice into this country. Now, at the time when this occurred, there was little or no protection to our home productions. What would be the results in case of a war breaking out? And had we been so long at peace that we were never to expect the breaking out of war? He sincerely hoped that such a contingency might be remote, but the present state of our foreign relations showed the inconvenience that might arise from this country, in any respect, becoming dependent on a foreign supply. It had been said by an hon. Member, that this country was not well adapted to the growth of corn. Now, he would venture to assert, not that there was no country in the world so well adapted to the growth of corn, but that there was no country in the world where better corn was grown than in England. It had been stated, that the object of the present laws was to produce steadiness of price in corn. He admitted that they had not produced that effect; and though they might not have produced fluctuations, still they had not prevented fluctuations. There was another point to which he would advert, namely, the adoption of a fixed duty. Now if, about twenty-five years ago they had adopted a fixed duty, it might have answered well enough. If, at the end of the war, they had adopted a fixed duty of ten or twelve shillings, and had, at the same time, consented to a considerable diminution in the timber duty, the result would no doubt have been advantageous to the country. But if they had acted with bad policy in having thrown branches of their manufactures into the hands of other countries—if they had then acted imprudently, it should warn them to avoid a similar imprudence now. They had, by former imprudence, made other nations great manufacturers, and if, by similar imprudence, they made them great agriculturists, on what was the greatness of this country to depend? He claimed for the agricultural interest only that protection which was necessary to continue the present extent of agriculture. With respect to a fixed duty, much would depend upon its amount. He begged to state, in conclusion, that he felt bound to give to the present motion his sincere opposition.

Mr. J. Parker

had several times given a silent vote on this subject, but felt desirous, on the present occasion to offer a few observations to the House. He wished, before proceeding further, to refer to some observations that had fallen from the hon. Member for Norfolk. That hon. Member had referred to a conversation that he had had with him (Mr. Parker), and which appeared to have excited the displeasure of that hon. Member. Now he (Mr. Parker) felt bound to say, that nothing could have been farther from his intention than to have given offence to the hon. Member. The hon. Member for Shropshire had charged his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, with a declaration which he had made with respect to this question. His right hon. Friend, confiding in the truth of his views, had, with the sincerity that belonged to him, expressed his hope that those who advocated this question would not be discouraged by defeat from prosecuting their views. He thought that, entertaining the opinions which his right hon. Friend did, he would have shrank from his duty if he had hesitated to declare his opinion. The hon. Member for Shropshire had made it a charge against the Government that they were not an united Cabinet with respect to this question. Now, was this the first time that an open question had been brought forward? The hon. Member had said, that he would never support any Government which did not resist this question as an united Cabinet. But had the hon. Member read speeches that had been delivered in Manchester by a right hon. Baronet, and in other parts of England by other hon. Gentlemen? If he had, the hon. Member must see that the time might come, when the taun the had thrown out might apply to his own friends. He wished, he said, to draw the attention of the House to the position in which Sheffield stood as regarded this question. That town was, perhaps, more strongly affected in its trade by the Corn-laws than any other, and its position exhibited phenomena which called imperiously for some alteration in the existing law. He did not mean to say that the Corn-laws were the sole cause of the present depression of the trade of Sheffield, but the effect of those laws was almost wholly to preclude that town from the very large trade which they would otherwise carry on with the United States. This being a motion for inquiry only, he certainly thought that the manufacturing interest were entitled to have it acceded to. Some system of duties might, he was convinced, be adopted, which would give the country satisfaction without putting the landed interest in any disadvantageous position. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to infer that the landed interest were exclusively ranged on the side of the supporters of the Corn-laws; but he must remind them that there were landowners on that side of the House—nay, even the very flower of the English aristocracy—who did not view the proposition of a modification of the present Jaw with anything like the alarm entertained upon the subject by the hon. Member for Retford and other Gentlemen opposite. The time was now come for the House seriously to consider whether the existing system of Corn-laws could be maintained consistently with a just attention to the interests of the manufacturers. The manufacturers did not desire to have any unfair protection. They did not want any bounty to the prejudice of other interests, but, at the same time, they did think that the agriculturists ought not to have any unfair protection. All they wanted was full scope and fair play. If hon. Members opposite would only consent to alter these oppressive laws, they would restore millions who were now discontented to their loyalty, because, by so doing, they would remove the evils under which those millions now groaned. It struck him that there were periods in the history of a nation when it became the duty of those entrusted with its legislation to turn their attention to questions of such importance as the present. He thought that that period had now arrived in this country. He begged not to be misunderstood; he did not allude to any political change. He thought that this country had arrived at such a stage of commercial progress that manufacturers must either be still allowed to increase, and to become the best consumers for home produce, or else measures should be taken to prevent their further increase. He thought that the way to consult the best interests of the country would be to facilitate the increase of her manufactures, as by so doing, we should be increasing her wealth, her prosperity, and her strength.

Sir Robert Peel

said, the hon. Gentleman had, he thought, mistaken the intention of those on that (the Conservative) side of the House, who had indicated by a cordial cheer their sincere approbation of the sentiment expressed by him, and he must say he regretted to perceive that the hon. Gentleman, when he uttered that sentiment, appeared so totally unconscious of the appropriateness of it. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the cheer meant to convey some kind of taunt or imputation on him, for having referred to a dissolution or some other political event, and he said that he thought the period was arrived when those who were entrusted with the functions of legislation and government ought seriously to consider this question—that there was a great anxiety in the public mind on the subject —that great doubt and anxiety pervaded the public mind; and then, again, the hon. Member said, that a period was arrived when those who were responsible for the conduct of the Government and of legislation, should seriously apply themselves to this question—that if they preferred the maintenance of the existing law, they should state their determination accordingly—that if they were in favour of the repeal of the Corn-laws, that then they should compose the agitation of the country by sending forth a measure of repeal; and that if they were in favour of modification, then that they should, as a Government, prescribe the limit and extent of that modification, and convey to the country the impression that the Government were united upon that great question, which was now becoming more and more environed by practical difficulties, increased by the apparent discordance of the most important Members of the Government. The hon. Gentleman's remark was perfectly just—so much so, as almost to lead to the inference that the hon. Member was reading an intentional lecture to his right hon. Friends around him—that he meant to convey a covert satire on their indecision and vacillation, and to teach them the important truth that a period had arrived when those entrusted with the functions of Government ought to speak some common language on this subject. For how much did it increase the difficulties of this question when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade declared it to be his fixed opinion that it was absolutely necessary to the increase of our exports of manufactures to the continent that we should take the corn grown on the continent; and when almost on the same day, the First Lord of the Treasury said, "Alter the Corn-laws if you please, but foreign countries will not be induced by it to take your manufactures in greater quantities." Why, when the head of the Treasury department entertained and avowed these opinions, and when the head of the commercial department entertained and avowed opinions that were directly the opposite, was it to be matter of surprise that agitation should have greatly increased, and that the practical difficulties attending the question should have been greatly aggravated. And this it was that caused the sentiments expressed by the hon. Gentleman opposite to have been received with such cordial approbation on that side of the House. His wish was to discuss this great question in no other temper than that which was befitting its great and its extraordinary merits; but, while he did so, he could not but refer to the unfair, to the unworthy artifices that had been resorted to for stirring up the passions of the multitude, and of exciting their temper; but, while he did this, he at the same time, would not identify with such unworthy advocates of the cause, the great manufacturing interests of the country. He was not one who would depreciate either their numbers or their importance, and he would say, that no indignation that arose in his mind against those who, instead of promoting, were, he believed really injuring their own cause he would say, that no indignation with regard to them should prevent him from giving to a subject connected with the subsistence of the people, and affecting the permanent and most vital interests of the country, that calm and that serious deliberation to which it was so fully entitled. He thought, then, that the best course that he could pursue for the purpose of limiting, as far as he possibly could, the observations with which he meant to trouble the House, would be to consider the main arguments which had been chiefly relied upon by those who had addressed them in favour of a repeal of the Corn-laws. He wished to evade nothing; but at the same time, to follow out the desultory details of a discussion which had now continued for three nights, would certainly lead him into arguments beyond the limits which he had prescribed to himself. He wished to state, in the first instance, what it was that he considered to be the main arguments—and he could only say, that if any one suggested to him that he was giving an unfair summary of the arguments, he was perfectly ready to correct it, and to add what to others might appear to be an argument of primary importance. But he thought that he did not state the arguments unfairly when he represented the sense and purport of them to be this. First, that the operation of the existing Corn-laws had led to a great drain of bullion from the Bank, and that a material derangement of the currency took place in consequence in the years 1838 and 1839. Second, that there had been a great fluctuation in the price of corn, caused by the operation of the Corn-laws, deranging commercial speculations, the varying price of grain having a tendency to derange the manufacturing interest. And, third, that the experience of the last year had shown a great depreciation of the manufacturing interest of this country; that there had been a great decline of internal consumption, and a great depreciation of the manufacturing interest and that the decline in internal consumption, and the depreciation of the manufacturing interest, were to be attributed to the operation of the Corn-laws. He thought that he had thus stated fairly the three leading arguments which were mainly relied upon against the present Corn-laws. And now, first, with respect to the derangement of the monetary system of the country, and the drain of gold, and that drain being attributed to the Corn-laws— that a sudden demand for corn had led to an immense importation, and that in consequence of the suddenness of the demand there was no corresponding export of manufactured articles; that the corn imported had necessarily to be paid for in gold, and that the stock of gold in the Bank must necessarily be exhausted. They could not deny that there was a derangement in the course of the years 1838 and 1839; but, then, when it was assumed that the Corn-laws must necessarily be the cause, he denied that inference. He denied that the Corn-laws had caused all this—that they caused that demand for corn which necessarily led to a derangement of the monetary system and a drain on the specie in the Bank. In the first place, the same derangement took place in other countries, where it was impossible that this cause could have operated. The same derangement took place in France. There had been the same derangement in the monetary system; and there had been the same drain for bullion, which involved necessarily a suspension of cash payments in the United States, under circumstances which showed that it was perfectly impossible that it could be attributed to any cause like the operation of the Corn-laws. It was perfectly plain that those derangements might take place from other causes than the operation of the Corn-laws and the suddenness of a demand for corn. He said that there had been the very same derangements in this country when it was utterly impossible that the Corn-laws could have affected them. In 1825 there had been a great derangement of the monetary system— there had been a great drain of bullion and this country then appeared to be on the eve of suspending cash payments. He was one of those who at that time advised the bank to pay away every portion of its bullion (to its last shilling) before it suspended cash payments. Nothing, in his opinion, could be more destructive to the Bank than the suspension of cash payments, and in his opinion there would have been less of panic by the bank endeavouring to the very utmost to fulfil its obligations. Such was the condition of the country in 1825, when the state of bullion in the Bank led to the greatest alarm. Now, in 1825, it was utterly impossible that the operation of the Corn-laws could have contributed to produce the drain he had spoken of. In 1825 there was no import of foreign corn which could have produced that drain. In 1823, in 1824, and in 1825, the whole amount of foreign wheat imported was 200,000 quarters; and yet it was during that period that the currency had been greatly deranged, and that the drain of specie had arisen. The causes were quite unconnected with the operation of the Corn-law. In,1836 there was the same derangement of the monetary system, and there had been a great drain of specie. In 1836 the drain of bullion was this:— From July, 1836, to December in the same year, the bullion in the Bank had diminished from 7,362,000l to 4,545,000l. Could the Corn-laws have caused that drain? In 1836, there had been no import of foreign corn whatever. In 1833, 1834, and 1835, the total and entire consumption of foreign corn was not 200,000 quarters. The Corn-laws had no operation whatever, and yet there had been a i great derangement of the currency, and a, great drain of specie. He pushed that i argument no further than this—that it could not be asserted with certainty that the Corn-laws caused the late derangement, because he had shown that the same derangement had happened in countries wherein the Corn-laws could not have produced that derangement, and that it did happen in this country so recently as the years 1835 and 1836, when the Corn-laws had nothing to do either with causing a derangement of the currency or a drain of specie. But then it must be admitted that in the years 1838 and 1839, there were three concurrent events—there was the derangement in the currency, there was the drain of specie, and there was an immense import of foreign coin; and it was possible that the Corn-laws—he said it was possible that the Corn-laws might have been the cause, in this instance, of that which was attributed in former periods to other causes. He said that it was possible—he knew that it was very easy to assume that they must be the cause. He would be glad that hon. Gentlemen who cheered would prove it. He had heard many in this debate make assertions which they had put forward in former debates, but he did not think that he had heard arguments from them, and, therefore, he was anxious to have heard from them something like argument, rather than an inarticulate cheer, as if that could carry conviction to intelligent minds. That the operation of the Corn-laws might have some effect upon the currency it was impossible to deny. But then the question, was not whether the suddenness of the demand was an evil, of that there could be no doubt; but whether they could take any means of defence against it? It was impossible to deny that it must have a partial effect; but then, seeing that the price of the article, and seeing that the quantity depended as well upon the uncertainty as the vicissitude of the seasons, how could they take any precaution by human prudence or human legislation against the recurrences of sudden necessity. If hon. Gentlemen took it for granted that the Corn-laws must have been the cause, he could only say that he had read with great attention the statements of those who were most prominent in discussing the operation of both currency and Corn-laws, and he certainly did not find that they attributed to the Corn-laws exclusively the derangement of our monetary system which had unfortunately taken place. On the contrary, they distinctly assigned other causes as having had a very material influence in producing that effect. Of course the parties on whom, in a matter of this kind, he should chiefly rely, were those who now put themselves forward as the most strenuous opponents of the existing Corn-laws, and the advocates of their total and unqualified repeal; and he thought that, when he found them assigning other causes as having contributed to produce the state of things to which he had alluded, he was entitled to attach great weight to their authority. He would mention particularly the President of the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester, who had supplanted the Member for Kendal, on account of the unsatisfactory character of the speeches delivered by him last year. Surely no hon. Gentleman opposite would contest the authority of the President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the representative commercial body of the greatest manufacturing district in the empire. The president of this body was a gentleman of the name of Smith, a most active opponent of the Corn-laws, and, he believed, the chairman of the convention which was now sitting in London. In the course of this very year the local body over which that gentleman presided, and himself at the head of it, had come forward, at the same time that they were agitating against the Corn-laws, to give their opinion as to the specific causes of the monetary derangement of the country. He wanted to shew hon. Gentlemen opposite that, whatever might be their opinions as to the extensive operation of the Corn-laws, the the chief agitators against them assigned perfectly different and distinct reasons, combined certainly with that operation, for the derangement in the currency complained of. If he attempted to give a summary of this manifesto, which was a report from the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester, it might be thought that he would present an unfair view of the arguments, and, therefore, he should prefer making use of the summary, given by a gentleman who was also an opponent of the Corn-laws, who had written with great ability on the subject of currency and banking, and whose opinions were entitled to the greatest weight from the respectability of his private character, he meant Mr. Jones Lloyd. And this was the account which Mr. Jones Lloyd gave of the grounds which the Chamber of Commerce had for impeaching the Bank of England, and the reasons they assigned for the late derangement of the currency, and the drain of gold. Mr. Lloyd states the report to be this:—

  1. "1. That the alternations of excitement and depression in trade since 1835, and especially the events of this character which have occurred during the years 1838 and 1839, are to be attributed entirely to mismanagement of the circulation.
  2. "2. That this mismanagement of the circulation is altogether the result of the improper measures or the Bank of England.
  3. "3. That the cause of this misconduct of the Bank of England is to be found in the undue privileges possessed by the Bank; in the available capital on the part of the Bank, which renders it impossible for it to conduct its affairs with advantage to the interests of the manufacturing and commercial community; and in the fact, that the power over the currency is vested in twenty-six irresponsible individuals for the exclusive benefit of a body of Bank proprietors,"
That, then, was Mr. Jones Lloyd's summary of the reasons alleged by the Chamber of Commerce for the late monetary derangement. Mr. Jones Lloyd stated reasons perfectly distinct from the Corn-laws, and he did not make the Corn-laws mainly responsible for the derangement of the currency. Mr. Jones Lloyd said that the Corn-laws increased the evil; but then that there were other causes not noticed by the Chamber of Commerce which materially increased the derangement, and the principal one was this, that the Bank of England did not exercise, and could not exercise, a control over the issues of joint-stock banks and private banks; that when the Bank of England controlled its own issues to act on the exchanges, the tendency of joint stock banks and of private banks was not to correspond with that conduct pursued by the Bank of England; and Mr. Jones Lloyd observed, that the Chamber of Commerce of Manchester was in error not to have noticed that want of control in the Bank of England. He used this language— But if the management of the circulation has been vicious during 1838 and 1839, who, we must inquire, has been the principal sinner? Look at the returns of the country issuers; you will there observe a progressive and large increase of issues through the whole period; an increase steadily maintained against decreasing bullion, and unsanctioned by any corresponding increase on the part of the Bank of England.

Mr. Jones Lloyd

did not ascribe the evils of the currency to the Corn-laws, but to the manner in which functions that were incompatible with each other were left to the Bank of England. When Mr. Jones Lloyd said this, was he then not justified in assuming, that though the Corn-laws might have aided in the present derangement, yet there where other and more peculiar causes in operation tending to disturb the currency? Nothing, then, could be more unwise than for that House to act on the assumption that the Corn-laws were the entire cause of the derangement. That was the answer he gave to the hon. Gentleman who said he was anxious to hear from him what other cause there could be than the Corn-laws for the monetary derangement of the country. He gave to the question a satisfactory answer, not founded upon any assumption of his own reasoning, but upon the opinions of those who took an active part against the Corn-laws, and who attributed it to the banks and to other causes. It was not then to Corn-laws they were to attribute it, but to the arrangement respecting the control over the issue. [Mr. Clay—It was to be attributed to both.] He was glad he had been able to get the hon. Gentleman to go so far. Upon the previous night the hon. Gentleman had said, the derangement was owing exclusively to Corn-laws—now he was for dividing the responsibility; perhaps if he (Sir R. Peel) had spoken on Monday night, instead of the hon. Gentleman laying the whole blame upon Corn-laws, he would have declared they had nothing to do with it. He did not deny that Corn-laws would aggravate the evil, but he denied that they were the exclusive cause of it. To deny that their tendency was to increase pre-existing evils arising from other causes would be uncandid and unwise. He was not satisfied that an alteration in the existing Corn-laws would afford them a remedy, or that the evil was one that could be corrected by any legislation on the subject. He thought that quite impossible in an article like corn, which was not an article of manufacture, and the supply of which could be accommodated to the demand for it. Corn was an article, which depended upon the dispensation of Providence—it was an article of production which it was impossible to control by human legislation—it was impossible to prevent in time of scarcity a sudden demand for corn from foreign countries; and he greatly doubted, if they discouraged the production of corn at home—if they became dependent for their supply upon foreign countries—if then a time of scarcity should arrive—if there should be a succession of bad seasons— if there should be a deficiency of produce not merely in this country, but in other countries of Europe, which were frequently, if not generally, subject to as much vicissitude of season as this country —then he doubted whether they would not have great cause to regret the derangement of the home produce—seeing that there was a limited supply at home and that they were dependent on foreigners, who, influenced by no hostility, but pressed by necessity to provide for the wants of their own people, would find imposed upon them the necessity of interdicting the export of that corn which they required for their own use. Under such circumstances lie feared that there would be a still more sudden demand, and still more deficient supply, and that the evils of deranging the currency and of a drain of bullion would come upon them at a moment of deficiency and of scarcity, and when they would be forced to encounter evils far greater than any that now existed. The next objection which was made to the Corn-laws was the great fluctuation which they caused in the price of corn, and the great uncertainty which they introduced into the traffic in corn, and the consequent derangement they caused in the commercial intercourse between this country and foreign powers. Now neither upon this point would he pretend to deny that there had been great fluctuation in the price of corn, greater fluctuation than he wished to see in an article of such general consumption, but at the same time he doubted whether it would not be found upon examination that there had been a great or greater steadiness under the sliding scale, as it was called, than could be hoped for under any other system; and here again he would say that with respect to an article of food there was in itself a cause which materially affected its price and value under changing circumstances, and upon this point he would beg to quote the authority of a writer who was entitled to very great respect on all points connected with the fluctuations of price, namely, Mr. Tooke. Now what was the principle laid down by Mr. Tooke with regard to the liabilities of this particular article corn to fluctuation? He begged to say that what he was about to quote was after the summary of the evidence of this gentleman before the committee of the House than an exact transcript of his answers, but he believed it would be found to be a faithful report of what he said on that occasion. Mr. Tooke said that "the deficiency or excess in the supply of corn as compared with the average consumption of it was a question attended with greater difficulties than most other articles of consumption. This observation was confirmed by a reference to the fluctuations in the price of corn, which could apparently be referred to no other course." Now, he would beg to compare the fluctuations which had taken place in the price of corn since the present Corn-laws had come into operation, with the fluctuations in former periods before the traffic in corn was made a subject of legislation. It was all very well to take the highest price of one week at 76s., and that of another at 170s., and say there was a difference of 100s.; but let them take the whole variations in the annual averages since the year 1829, and compare the fluctuations with those of former periods, not at the periods of defective legislation in 1815 and 1822, but in periods anterior, when this country was an exporting country, and the Corn-laws could have had no effect upon this trade, and he did not think that this sweeping condemnation would be found to be justified. Now, since the year 1829 to the present time, the annual averages gave an average upon the whole period of about 52s. or 53s., a price which he thought was hardly to be complained of. He would certainly admit that if it were to be found that, during that period, there had been great alterations from year to year, that would be a great objection to the present system. But he did not think it would be so found. He supposed that the figures which he was about to quote would be admitted by the opposite party to be correct, as they proceeded from a body calling itself the Anti Corn-law Association. In 1829 the average price of wheat was 66s.; in 1830, 65s.; in 1831, 66s.; in 1832, 58s.; in 1833, 52s.; in 1834, 40s.; in 1835, 39s.; in 1836, 48s.; in 1837, 55s.; in 1838, 64s.; and in 1839, 70s.; and he thought, that if the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last night as to the monthly averages had car- ried his calculations a little further, he would have found that there was a considerable number of months during this interval in which the price of corn had ranged between 55s. and 65s.

Mr. Labouchere

said, that since last evening he had made inquiries upon the subject, and he found, that during the period from 1828 to 1839, there had been 42 months, during which the price ranged from 55s. to 65s., 53 during which it was below 55s., and 43, during which it was above 65s.

Sir R. Peel

said, that it appeared then that there had been ninety-five months during which the price had been below 65s., which, as a low price was considered desirable, was a very gratifying fact. He would now draw attention to the variation which had taken place at a much earlier period—namely, before the Act of 1765 came into operation. In the year 1728 the average price was 48s. 5d.; in 1732, it was 28s. 8d.; in 1733, it was 35s.; in 1743, it was 22s.; in 1750, it was 28s. 10s. in 1757, it was 53s. 4d.; and in 1761, it was 26s. 4d.; being a fluctuation of 100 per cent. Now, comparing these fluctuations with the present period, he found also, that of these seven years which he had quoted, in five there had been an excess of export over import, so that the fluctuation did not appear to depend upon the importation of corn. But Mr. Tooke, in referring to these years, did so in order to confirm his argument, that the fluctuations depended upon the deficiency or excess in the supply, a feature which could not be provided against. Mr. Tooke also stated, that from the beginning of the year 1794 to the end of 1795, the price had risen nearly double, and he said this fluctuation was entirely unconnected with any fluctuation in the currency, or any great political changes. It might fairly be referred," Mr. Tooke said, "to the difference in the seasons; And that gentleman then added the remark, That the defect or increase in the price of corn was very much beyond the ratio of the excess or deficiency in the supply of the article during the same period, and that the fluctuations in the prices of articles of food were generally much greater than in other articles of consumption. They had, therefore, the authority of Mr. Tooke for this opinion, that though the fluctuations in the prices of corn were very great, they were not such as to be easily prevented by any legislative precautions; and he was prepared to show, that under the present system, those fluctuations had been considerably less than when no system of Corn-law was in operation. Now, what would have been the effect of the seasons upon the price of corn, supposing there had been a fixed duty during the period which had passed since the present system came into operation? Suppose, as in the years 1833, 1834, and 1835, there should be a succession of very good seasons, and a consequently large supply in this country, and also, as might naturally be expected, a plentiful harvest on the Continent. Now, under circumstances like these, the foreign market being overstocked, he would ask, whether, with a fixed duty, the trader in corn might not be induced to bring over very large supplies, and after paying the duty, offer it in the market at a price much below that of British growth? And would not this operate as a great discouragement to corn of home production—a great discouragement to agriculture—and cause a great deal of land to be thrown out of cultivation? and might not this lead, and at no very distant period, to an alteration on the other side, and eventually to a very diminished supply? He came now to the third objection against the Corn-laws, and a most important consideration it was. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton said, at the commencement of his speech in introducing this subject, that if those who had taken part in the support of the Corn-laws last year, could have foreseen, that their so doing must been so immediately followed by so complete a falsification of all their predictions in respect to the increase of our manufactures and home consumption, they would not have had the courage to vote as they had done. The hon. Member stated further, that the advocates of the repeal of the Corn-laws relied mainly for the success of their arguments upon the immense falling off which had taken place in the manufactures of the country, and of its internal consumption, since the debate last year, indicating, as they did, the great distress which prevailed throughout the country. Now this was a most important statement; and he would assure the House, that he referred to everything connected with the manufactures and commerce of this country with the utmost anxiety — he felt that our main strength as a nation, and our position in the scale of nations depended upon the maintenance of our manufactures; and so much so, that if he were the exclusive advocate and partisan of the agricultural interest, he should tell the landowners that their best friends were the manufacturers, and that the manufactures of the country, and not the Corn-laws, were the main element of their prosperity and the value of their land. Therefore, when the hon. Member for Wolverhampton stated as a positive fact that the manufactures of the country were on the decline, and that there had been a rapid diminution in home consumption during the last year—he thought it highly important to endeavour to ascertain whether statements so important and melancholy were perfectly well-grounded. Now, he had before him official returns relating to the extent of the foreign trade of this country, as exemplified in our imports and exports, giving also the total amount of each description of import and exports, and upon an examination of these documents, he found, that, as far as figures went, the gloomy anticipations of failure and distress entertained by the hon. Member were not altogether realized. He had great satisfaction in finding that there had been a considerable increase in the exports of manufactured goods. Last year, also, there had been an increase in the manufactured exports of the country, and he did not know whether the hon. Member for Kendal was present. Oh ! He saw the hon. Gentleman in his place, and he was going to say, that he did recollect that last year he proved to the hon. Member's satisfaction, or rather the hon. Member frankly admitted to him, and succeeded in demonstrating it, that there had been a considerable increase in our export of manufactured articles; and he also begged to remind the hon. Member of the argument with which he then met that fact. He (Sir R. Peel) stated last year that there had been an increase on the total amount of the exports of the year 1838, whether as compared to the year 1837, or to the average of the four preceding years, and that to a considerable extent. To this the hon. Member replied, that he admitted there had been an apparent increase in the declared value of our exports, but, at the same time observed, that the increase in the export of perfectly wrought fabrics was exceedingly small; the principle in- crease being in articles which our manufacturers had scarcely removed from their raw state; that articles in this shape were the elements and means of foreign manufacturers; and their export, therefore, an encouragement and advantage to foreign manufacturers rather than our own.

Mr. J. W. Wood

I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, but I was the first who used that argument.

Sir R. Peel

Surely the hon. Gentleman could not think that he (Sir R. Peel) could forget that, on seconding the address last year, the hon. Member had cut from under the feet of the Corn-law agitators that which formed the very foundation of their argument. He did not wish to deprive the hon. Gentleman of the gratifying and consolatory reflection that he had been the first to declare last year that an increase had taken place in our shipping interests, in our foreign commerce, and in every indication of stable and progressive prosperity. And he should never forget how the countenances of those Gentlemen suddenly fell who relied upon the chairman of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for abundant arguments in favour of the repeal of the Corn-laws, when the hon. Member made those memorable and gratifying disclosures. But on a subsequent occasion the hon. Member said, it was true that there had been an increase in our exports, but that they had been of manufactured articles in the rudest possible state. The hon. Gentleman stated that, Comparing the average of the last four years with the year 1838, the exports of woollen, cotton, and linen manufactures had increased from 25,757,000l. to 26,190,000l., being an increase of only 433,000l., or about one-half per cent, upon perfectly wrought fabrics; but that in cotton, woollen, and linen yarns, the increase had been from 6,590,000l. to 8,452,000l., being an increase of about 1,800l., or twenty-eight per cent.; these latter being articles which were to be wrought up in foreign countries. The hon. Gentleman deduced from these facts the argument that, although the total amount of our exports had increased, yet that they had increased in a way to become evidence of declining prosperity rather than otherwise. He turned to the return of the present year. He looked to the exports of the wrought fabric bearing on the very cases which the hon. Gentleman had taken. He looked first to the cotton manufacture generally. Comparing 1838 with 1839, it appeared that the declared value of cotton manufactures exported in 1838 was 16,715,000l., and in 1839, 17,694,000l. The export of linen manufactures had increased from 2,730,000l., in 1838, to 3,420,000l., in 1839. The export of silk manufactures had increased from 777,000l. to 865,000l.; and the woollen manufactures from 5,795,000l. in 1838, to 6,207,000l. in 1839. Now he did not say that this was a conclusive proof of manufacturing prosperity; but what he said was, that so far as official documents went, they could not say there was that decline in the export of manufactures which had been put forward as an argument against the existing system of Corn-laws by hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Hear.] But when he was arguing on one point, he was met with a cheer, as though he meant something else. The hon. Member for Wiltshire had said, that he never referred to figures, because the same figures might be made to serve both parties, and might be made use of on either side of the argument; but he had shown that in the articles of cotton, linen, silk, and wool, so far as the official returns of the foreign exports indicated, there had been an evident, he would not say, increase in prosperity, but increase in the manufactures of the country. The total increase in the export of those articles of perfectly wrought fabrics had been from 26,170,000 in 1838, to 28,202,000 in 1839. He (Sir R, Peel) remembered that the hon. Gentleman opposite had stated during the debate of last year that there had been an increase of only 1½ per cent, on the export of perfectly wrought fabrics; now this year there had been an increase of Eight per cent. But perhaps he should be met with the argument, still there had been an immense increase in the export of yarn, and the merely raw material, and that they had been exporting to a great extent those raw fabrics, which enabled their foreign competitors to rival them in foreign markets. Now he (Sir R. Peel) had the consolation to assure the hon. Member for Kendall, that while there had been this increase in the export of the perfectly wrought fabric, there had been at the same time a considerable decrease in the export of yarn. First, in respect to cotton-yarn, the export in 1838 was in value 7,400,000l. In 1839,6,857,000l.; in linen yarn the export was in 1838, 836,000l.; in 1839, 814,000l. In wool there had been a trifling increase, but the total decrease in the export of yarn was as follows:—in 1838, 8,651,000l.; in 1839, 8,070,000l. Last year there had been an increase of 28,000l., or 1½ per cent, in the export of the wrought fabric, and 28 per cent, in yarns, while this year there had been an increase of 8 per cent, on the wrought fabric, and a decrease of 8 per cent, on the export of the raw material. He (Sir R. Peel) knew well what the argument on this subject was, and certainly it was an ingenious one. It was admitted that there was an increase in the exports of the perfectly wrought fabrics, as shown by the official documents, but then it was contended, that so far from this being a proof that manufactures had prospered, it showed exactly an opposite result. And this view of the case was thus accounted for—that the foreign trade had been forced in consequence of the total inability of the home consumer to purchase. Now, suppose he (Sir R. Peel) had said, that there had been a great falling off in the foreign trade, and that that was evident proof of improvement, and a sure sign of prosperity; suppose he had said, that the falling off in the foreign trade arose from the immense increase in the home consumption, that the demand had been so great at home that it was impossible to provide for the foreign trade, and that so far from that being a cause of regret, it ought to be considered as a ground of rejoicing, inasmuch as it proves the prosperity of the country,—how would such an argument be met? and yet it was as good an argument as that with which he was met with, that the prosperity in the foreign trade ought to be considered as a decisive indication of the decline of the national prosperity. Was not that the argument—that they were not to consider the increase in the export of manufactured articles as an indication of the national prosperity. [Mr. Baines—No, no.] He never liked for the sake of a temporary triumph to advance anything which he was not prepared to prove. He held in his hand a document attributed to the son of the hon. Member himself, entitled "National Distress proved by Increased Exports combined with Diminished Production." This Gentleman said, referring to the Parliamentary return, That official document shows that a larger amount of British manufactures was exported in the year ending January 5, 1840, than in the year ending Januarys, 1839; the increase being nearly 2,000,000l. on the declared value. Sir, I shall shortly prove, from the very document thus adduced, a case, not of extending, but of declining trade and manufactures. That quotation bore him out in his representation of the argument of the opponents of the corn-laws. All he stated was, that the author of the pamphlet relied on the increase of our exports under the existing circumstances as a proof of a decline in our trade and manufactures, and then he said that he should be equally justifiable in arguing, that a diminished foreign trade might be accounted for by an increase in the home consumption. The foundation of the argument was, that the diminished demand at home had led to the increased exports. Now, it was exceedingly difficult to ascertain what the amount of home consumption at any period was. There were means of ascertaining the amount of foreign trade, but to find what relation existed between it and the home consumption was almost impossible. It was almost impossible to find what proportion of the productions of this country was consumed within the territories of her Majesty. There were, however, other indications of the state of the country. As to the amount of manufactures consumed within the kingdom, it was, as he had observed, impossible to form a guess; but he looked at the revenue and compared the amount of the customs in the two last years. In 1838, they amounted to 22,063,118l., and in 1839, they amounted to 23,210,881l.. He then looked at the number of vessels employed in foreign trade; although he certainly expected to be told, that these vessels had been only employed in carrying out the manufactures which our distress prevented us from consuming at home. In 1838, the number of vessels entered inwards was 19,639; in 1839, 23,143. The number of vessels entered outwards was, in 1838, 17,204; in 1839, 18,423. He did not exactly understand how there should be a great increase of coasting trade, if there had been a great decline of consumption. If the exports had arisen from a decreasing consumption, and inability of the people to buy manufactures, why should there be an increase in the coasting trade? But there was an increase in the coasting trade of the country in 1839, as compared with 1838. If, again, there had been a great increase in the capacity to consume, ought thereto be a falling off in the excise duties? How could they reconcile an increase of the excise duties with a great decrease in the capacity of consumption? But there had been a gradual increase in the excise duties in 1837, 1838, and 1839. If there had been a diminution in the consumption of those manufactured articles, with respect to which they had no test of consumption, ought there not also to have been a diminution of articles of very general consumption, which were luxuries rather than necessaries? Why, if there was a greatly diminished capacity of consumption, should there have been an increase in the quantity of coffee consumed? The quantity of coffee entered for home consumption in 1838, was 25,818,000lbs., and in 1839, 26,832,000lbs. Tea had increased from 32,000,000lbs. in 1838 to 35,000,0.00lbs. The quantity of timber had increased in 1839 as compared to 1838. There appeared at first sight to have been a diminution in the quantity of sugar, but if they took the quantity of drawbacks on refined sugar exported in 1838 as compared to 1839, they would find, if there had been any diminution in the home consumption of sugar, it was exceedingly small. He had seen drawn up by a house largely concerned in the sugar trade, an estimate of the comparative consumption of sugar in 1838 and 1839, which claimed a small increase in the quantity of sugar consumed in 1839 as compared with 1838. He, therefore, could not admit that assertions of the increase in the foreign trade of the country, must be considered as a conclusive indication of declining prosperity at home, and an increased inability to purchase articles of general consumption. He knew perfectly well that great stress was laid on the argument that the great articles of consumption, such as cotton, indigo, &c, employed in manufactures had decreased, but he was glad to perceive that at Liverpool on the 1st of January, 1839, as compared with 1838, there had been an increase in the quantity of cotton taken for home consumption. But why did it vary? Because it was one of those articles which depended on the seasons, and, although there was a fixed duty, an unlimited demand, and unlimited importation, yet cotton varied in price from the vicissitudes of season to a much larger extent than corn. He had heard with great pain of the complaints made by some manufacturers engaged in the cotton trade: he had heard with still greater pain of the privations to which the working classes in some parts of the country were exposed; yet still he could not come to the melancholy conclusion at which some hon. Gentlemen had arrived, that there were in the official documents, and in general notoriety, certain indication of the decline of this great manufacture. Upon such grounds, having paid all the attention in his power to these documents, although perfectly ready to reconsider in matters of such immense importance the opinions he might have heretofore given, and to abandon them if he found them ill-founded, he must say he could not conceive, that there had been or was any indication of decay or decline in the country, and, therefore, the opinions which he had expressed last year on the general subject of the corn laws, were opinions to which in the present year he was perfectly ready to adhere. It was vain to disguise it—the real question they had to decide was not, whether they should admit any modification of the existing scale of duties; the question which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton called on them to discuss, and which their votes would decide, was, whether or not there should be a total repeal of the Corn-laws. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who was entitled to high respect, as well from his general character as from the official station he held, had, in the course of this debate, declared his intention of making some proposition in case the House should go into committee.—[Mr. Labouchere: "No, no."]—Then the right hon. Gentleman had nothing to submit to their attention; but he declared an individual opinion that a fixed duty would on the whole be preferable to a total repeal and the present sliding scale. That seemed to be rather the theoretical opinion of the right hon. Gentleman than one so far matured as to be formed into a resolution, and, if they did find themselves in committee, to be submitted for consideration. He really thought the right hon. Gentleman had indicated an intention to submit that proposition, for he recollected that the right hon. Gentleman said he could answer for no other member of her Majesty's Government; and he also understood, that the only two other members of the Government who had spoken completely dissented from the opinions he had expressed. But although it seemed they had no chance of hearing the proposition practically made, it was still due to the right hon. Gentleman briefly to consider its merits. The right hon. Gentleman said, he preferred a fixed duty to the sliding scale; and on being asked to state its amount, he said he thought 7s. or 8s. per quarter would be the amount of duty he should recommend. Then the right hon. Gentleman being aware of the objection to a fixed duty, that when the price of corn became inconveniently high, it might be difficult for a weak or even a strong Government to maintain a fixed duty in the face of rising prices, he proposed, in order to obviate the difficulty, when corn arrived at the price of 70s. per quarter, the duty should vanish, and corn be admitted free. That was the only proposition which had been submitted to their consideration by her Majesty's Government. Let him then observe to the right hon. Gentleman that his proposition would hardly remove any one of the objections which were made to the present system. Would it tend to promote a final settlement of the question? Not in the opinion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, because the whole of his speech went to show that the landed interest was entitled to no protection whatever; that so far from bearing any exclusive taxes, they were exempted from some particular burdens, and that with no shadow of justice should any duty, fixed or variable, be imposed on the importation of foreign corn. All the arguments which applied to protecting corn for the purpose of increasing the rents of landlords would equally apply to a fixed duty as to a variable duty. All the bad appeals to the passions of the multitude, all the arguments about the impolicy and injustice, the unchristian and irreligious principles of taxing the staff of life, would apply to a fixed duty equally with a variable duty. They, perhaps, would apply with increased force when they came to look at what had been the average amount of duty levied on foreign corn imported under the existing scale for a considerable number of years past. There had been, since the Corn-laws were in operation, of foreign wheat imported into this country for home consumption not less than 9,297,000 quarters, and the average amount of duty levied on that immense quantity did not exceed 5s. 3d. per quarter. He was not prepared to say that there were not great objections to a shifting scale; but as to the amount of duty payable under the present system, there could not be a shadow of doubt that it was very much less than that which any one who advocated a fixed duty at all ever thought of proposing. Under the existing system, the duty charged only amounted to 5s. 5d. per quarter; the amount of duty upon the "staff of life." as it was termed, did not exceed the sum of 5s. 5d. The ignorant man was not prepared to understand the cause or the effect of a sudden importation, and it would be no satisfaction to him to be told that a duty of 5s. 6d. was to be exchanged for one of 8s. Those who upon a question of this nature resorted to an appeal to men's passions could do so with equal effect, whether the duty was the one sum or the other, or whether it was imposed according to the provisions of the existing law with its sliding scale, or under that which would impose a fixed duty commencing or ending at a certain point. The advocates of change, who denounced the present Corn-laws as irreligious and tyrannical, would be as well entitled to do so under one amount of duty as under another. Was there anything, he would ask, in the proposal, that when the price of corn rose to 70s. per quarter, the duty should cease, or be materially diminished, that of necessity would have the effect of disarming every topic which lay within the reach of the popular agitator, and at once silencing every appeal to the passions of mankind. He begged also to remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that independently of failing to give satisfaction to those who were opposed to the imposition of any duty whatever, he had not answered any one of the objections of detail; he had proposed to retain the whole system of averages. Surely that was anything but giving satisfaction to his hon. Friends who demanded free trade. Was that free trade, or anything like it? Nothing could be more evident than that his whole system was one of averages, for how otherwise could he ascertain his price of 70s., at which his duty was to commence? Then he begged the House to look at the manner in which the proposed plan of the right hon. Gentleman would meet the argument of the American merchant, who urged the probable effect of a deficient harvest, when bad corn must of necessity be brought into the market, and when its introduction would most assuredly affect the rate of prices. Next, let the House observe the probable effect of the gradual rise of the price of corn to 67s. or 68s.; what precautions did the right hon. Gentleman propose to adopt against the tricks and devices confessedly practised for the purpose of operating upon the averages? Supposing that the price remained at 69s. 6d., the duty, according to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, would be payable; but increase the price by a single shilling, and foreign corn would be imported duty free. It would be difficult to conceive a greater temptation to practise upon the averages than this state of things would present. It offered immense inducements to adopt expedients of all sorts for the purpose of causing the price of corn to turn 70s., for the moment its average price exceeded that sum of 70s. per quarter, the market might at once be inundated with foreign corn, and might continue to be kept in that state till new averages were made. In such a case how did the right hon. Gentleman propose to provide for the difficulties with which the American merchant would have to contend in meeting his rivals in the ports of Holland? The American who thought of exporting corn to this country, hearing that the price was 70s., might suppose himself safe in sending a cargo, relying with confidence upon being able to introduce American corn into England duty free. Before his corn could have time to arrive in the ports of Great Britain, he would find that the price had sunk to 69s.; during the transit of his corn across the Atlantic, parties in the habit of practising upon the averages would have managed to effect a reduction, and so the object which the American speculator proposed to himself would be utterly defeated, and he would find himself under the necessity of paying a duty of 8s. per quarter upon that which he had hoped to have exported to England duty free. Upon these grounds, then, he professed himself at a loss to discover how the right hon. Gentlemen overcame some of the objections to the averages and a sliding scale. If the right hon. Gentleman abandoned the averages, he must resort, or be inconsistent with himself, to a free importation, with a fixed duty of 8s. In times of great abundance, of unexamled, —he might say, of excessive and supers bundant supply—corn would be poured into this country from the ports of the continent of Europe and from those of America; the importation of foreign corn would then be subject to no control. Then, in times of extreme scarcity, could any Government maintain a duty upon the importation of foreign corn? It would be described as a tyrannical impost upon the "staff of life." He did not hesitate to say, that such a duty would be practically removed; and if it were once removed, he professed himself unable to see how it could be re-imposed. He acknowledged that, though the right hon. Gentleman declared himself favourable to a fixed duty, he at the same time declared that he did not mean to propose anything of the sort. It was to be presumed, he apprehended, that, in any attempt to do so, he did not expect to enjoy the support of his colleagues. In making this observation, he also referred to the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman, who said, that on that part of his plan which related to a fixed duty, the support of his colleagues had been withheld. Now, if that question of a fixed duty was not to be taken into consideration in committee, why consent to going into committee at all? It was a faint indication that the whole project appeared to melt before him the more nearly he approached it. It was clear, then, that there was not any plan digested by the Government or to be proposed to Parliament under the authority and responsibility of the Ministers of the Crown. But the hon. Member opposite had told the House that it would hear his plan. Even had he entertained the least intention, upon the present occasion, of submitting any plan to the House, he conceived that nothing could be so absurd as to declare for or against any particular set of details—nothing appeared to him more objectionable than to say, that the present Corn law, in all its details, was a system actually perfect; such a declaration he considered would be utterly unworthy of him to make, or the House to hear. He had no intention on the present occasion of proposing any plan, neither did he think it the fitting opportunity to indicate anything further respecting his views than he had already taken the liberty of submitting to the House. By the hon. Member who had brought forward the present motion they had been invited to go into committee upon a plain and intelligible principle— namely, total repeal; and considering that to be, as it confessedly was, the real purpose of the motion, nothing appeared to him more ridiculous than the discussion of minor points. He differed, therefore, from the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets in thinking that the House could advantageously pursue the course to which he invited them; and, while adverting to that, he could hardly refrain from noticing the manner in which the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the present motion had referred to the sentiments of the hon. Member's Friend, and the way in which he had treated the plan of the hon. Member for Cambridge, of a modified duty. He should profit by the experience of the hon. Gentleman. One, he thought, who ought to be considered as speaking with authority upon such a subject, had been treated almost with contumely when he spoke of a modified scale. Nothing seemed to disturb the equanimity of the hon. Mover till he came athwart his hon. Friend, whom he accused in language unlike the general tenour of his speech —in language violent and contumelious —of rendering him nothing but insidious assistance. What motive could any one have to enter into the discussion of details, when the only man whom the mover treated with injustice, was he who had ventured to depart from broad principles? The hon. Mover refused to take advantage of his assistance upon a division, declaring that he preferred the open hostility of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire to his hon. Friend's insidious friendship. He should, therefore, say, that the great question which the House had to determine, was that of total repeal; the hon. Mover advocated that exclusively; he proceeded upon the assumption that total and unqualified repeal would alone give satisfaction. To that proposal he could not assent. To that proposal he should apprehend that her Majesty's Government could not assent. At any rate the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, that the landed interest were fairly and justly entitled to some protection. He then asked whether any advance was made towards tranquillising the public mind, or towards a satisfactory settlement of the question, when he who presided over the commercial department of the country, holding an opinion for concurrence to which he could not answer for his colleagues, and which he did not propose practically to carry into effect, consented in the present agitated state of the country, to go into a committee with the vague and indefinite hope that some satisfactory proposal on the subject of the Corn-laws, which was not heard of in the House, might suddenly be made in the committee. The principle of total repeal he perfectly understood. It was certainly a magnificent scheme for introducing in our intercourse with foreign nations that principle which ought to regulate the intercourse of this great empire within its own boundaries. He doubted the possibility of applying this principle to the external commerce of this country, in a state of society so artificial, with relations so complicated, and with such enormous interests at stake, which had grown up under another principle, however defective it might be—namely, the principle of protection in certain cases. If the principle now contended for was good for the regulation of the trade in corn, it was good for the trade in many other articles. If good as affecting corn, it was clearly good as affecting labour. Upon this principle there ought to be no navigation laws. Every merchant ought to be allowed to procure labour at the cheapest possible rate, and there ought to be no preference for the British seaman. But the Legislature controlled that principle, just in the abstract, by a reference to the necessity for providing for the defence of this country in case of danger. It was found beneficial to encourage our own marine, and to endeavour to secure the maritime eminence of this country by giving a protection to its marine. Therefore, in this instance, the legislature corrected the principle, however good it might be in the abstract, by giving a preference to the seamen of this country. Besides, if the principle was to be applied generally, the whole colonial system must be altered. Foreign sugar must be entitled to admission into the home market, on terms equally favourable with the sugar of our own colonies. The timber duties, must, of course, be got rid of. Every protecting duty on manufactures must be abolished, precisely on the same principle on which it was argued, that there ought to be no protecting duty for corn; and, as he had said before, if the principle were good in the case of corn—if they might not take an insurance against the caprice or hostility of foreign countries in time of war and against the vicissitudes of seasons by encouraging the home produce, neither must they seek to secure the pre-eminence of the marine of the country, by giving an advantage to the labour of British seamen, neither must they give a preference to the productions of their own colonies, or afford protection to their own manufactures. Theoretically, and in the abstract, this magnificent plan might be correct, but when he looked to the practice, to the great interests which had grown up under another system—when he found that whatever theoretical objections might apply to that system, still great and complicated interests had grown up under it, which probably could not be disturbed without immense peril—when he, besides, bore in mind that defective as that system in principle might be, yet under it, this country, considering its population, had acquired the greatest colonial empire, the greatest Indian empire, the greatest influence which any country ever possessed — when he considered, also that under this system, he would not say in consequence of it, for that might be denied by bon. Gentlemen opposite, but simultaneously with it, we presented this spectacle to the world—a country limited in extent and population, yet carrying on greater commercial and manufacturing enterprize than any other country ever exhibited—when he considered all these things, he would not go the length of the Prime Minister, who said, that he who entertained the notion of upsetting this system "proposed the maddest thing that ever he had heard of," but, this he would say, that he would not consent to put to hazard those enormous interests for the purpose of substituting an untried principle for one which might be theoretically defective, but under which practically our power and greatness had been established; fearing that the embarrassment, the confusion, and distress, which might therefrom arise, would greatly countervail and outweigh any advantage which could be anticipated from establishing at the expense of what was practically good, that which might be theoretically correct.

Mr. Warburton

moved, that the debate be adjourned to Monday. For himself, he had no objection to continue the discussion, but he knew it to be impossible for all the Gentlemen who intended to speak to address the House that night, and he, therefore moved the adjournment.

Lord J. Russell

protested against an immediate division, or the continuation of the debate at that hour. After the speech of the right hon. Baronet it would be unfair not to agree to an adjournment of the debate. [Cries of" Divide."]

The House divided on the question of adjourning the debate: — Ayes 129; Noes 245: Majority 116.

List of the AYES.
Abercromby, hn. G. R. Hawkis, J. H.
Adam, Admiral Hayter, W. G.
Aglionby, H. A. Hill, Lord, A. M. C.
Alston, R. Hindley, C.
Archbold, R. Hobhouse, T. B.
Bainbridge, E. T. Howard, F. J.
Baines, E. Hutt, W.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Hutton, R.
Beamish, F. B. James, W.
Berkeley, hon. H. Jervis, J.
Berkeley, hon. C. Johnson, Gen.
Bewes, T. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Blake, W. J. Langdale, hon. C.
Blewitt, R. J. Lister, E. C.
Bowes, J. Loch, J.
Briscoe, J. I. Lushington, rt. hn. S.
Brocklehurst, J. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Brotherton, J. M'Taggart, J.
Busfeild, W. Marshall, W.
Callaghan, D. Marsland, H.
Campbell, Sir J. Martin, J.
Cavendish, hon. C. Melgund, Viscount
Chapman, Sir M. L. C Morpeth, Viscount
Clay, W. Muntz, G. F.
Collier, J. Muskett, G. A.
Collins, W. O'Connell, M. J.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Oswald, J.
Craig, W. G. Palmerston, Visct.
Curry, Sergeant Parker, J.
Dalmeny, Lord Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H.
Dashwood, G. H. Pechell, Captain
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Duke, Sir J. Phillips, Sir K.
Duncombe, T. Philips, M.
Dundas, C. W. D. Philips, G. R.
Dundas, F. Phillpotts, J.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Pinney, W.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Price, Sir R.
Ellice, E. Protheroe, E.
Ellis, W. Pryme, G.
Evans, Sir De L. Rice, E. R.
Evans, W. Rippon, C.
Ewart, W. Roche, W.
Fielden, J. Rundle, J.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Russell, Lord J.
Finch, F. Salwey, Colonel
Fleetwood, Sir P.H. Sanford, E. A.
Gillon, W. D. Scholefield, J.
Gisborne, T. Seymour, Lord
Gordon, B. Shelbourne, Earl of
Greg, R. H. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Grey, Sir C. Standish, C.
Grey, Sir G. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Hastie, A. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hawes, B. Stuart, Lord J.
Strangways, hon. J. Wallace, R.
Strutt, E. Ward, H. G.
Style, Sir C. Wemyss, Captain
Tancred, H. W. Williams, W.
Thornley, T. Wilshere, W.
Townley, R. G. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Turner, W. Wood, G. W.
Vigors, N. A. Wood, B.
Vivian, J. H. TELLERS.
Wakley, T. Villiers, hon. C. P.
Walker, R. Warburton, H.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Crewe, Sir G.
Acland, T. D. Cripps, J.
A'Court, Captain Currie, R.
Adare, Visc. Darby, G.
Alford, Visc. Darlington, Earl of
Alsager, Captain De Horsey, S. H.
Arbuthnott, hon H. Dick, Q.
Archdall, M. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Ashley, Lord Douro, Marquess of
Bagge, W. Dowdeswell, W.
Bagot, hon. W. Drummond, H. H.
Bailey, J. Duff, J.
Bailey, J. jun. Duffield, T.
Baker, E. Dugdale, W. S.
Baring, hon. W. B. Dunbar, G.
Barneby, J. Duncombe, hn. A.
Barrington, Visc. Duncombe, hn. W.
Barry, G. S. Du Pre, G.
Bassett, J. East, J. B.
Bell, M. Eastnor, Visct.
Benett, J. Eaton, R. J.
Berkeley, hon. G. Egerton, W. T.
Blackburne, I. Egerton, Sir P.
Backstone, W. S. Euston, Earl of
Blair, J. Farnham, E. B.
Blake, M. J. Feilden, W.
Blakemore, R. Fector, J. M.
Blennerhassett, A. Fellowes, E.
Bolling, W. Filmer, Sir E.
Brabazon, Lord Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bradshaw, J. Fitzsimon, N.
Bramston, T. W. Fleming, J.
Broadley, H. Forester, hon. G.
Broadwood, H. Fox, S. L.
Brodie, W. B. Freshfield, J. W.
Brownrigg, S. Gaskell, J. M.
Bruges, W. H. L. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Buck, L. W. Gordon, hon. Captain
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gore, O. J. R.
Cantalupe, Viscount Gore, O. W.
Castlereagh, Viscount Goring, H. D.
Cavendish, hn. G. H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Chetwynd, Major Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Grimsditch, T.
Christopher, R. A. Grimston, Viscount
Chute, W.L.W. Grimston, hon. E. H.
Clayton, Sir W. R. Hale, R. B.
Clerk, Sir G. Halford, H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hamilton, C. J. B.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Hamilton, Lord C.
Codrington, C. W. Handley, H.
Compton, H. C. Harcourt, G. G.
Corbally, M. E. Harcourt, G. S.
Corry, hon. H. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Harland, W. C. Noel, hon. C. G.
Hawkes, T. O'Conor Don
Hayes, Sir E. Ossulston, Lord
Heathcote, Sir W. Owen, Sir J.
Heathcote, J. Packe, C. W.
Heneage, E. Pakington, J. S.
Heneage, G. W. Palmer, R.
Henniker, Lord Parker, M.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Parker, R. T.
Herbert, hn. S. Peel, right hon. Sir R.
Herries, rt. hn. J. C. Peel, J.
Hillsborough, Earl of Pemberton, T.
Hodges, T. L. Perceval, Colonel
Hodgson, F. Perceval, hon. G. J.
Hodgson, R. Pigot, R.
Holmes, hon. W. A. Plumptre, J. P.
Holmes, W. Polhill, F.
Hope, hon. C. Power, J.
Hope, G. W. Powerscourt, Viscount
Hoskins, K. Praed, W. T.
Houldsworth, T. Price, R.
Howard, hon. E.G.G. Pringle, A.
Hughes, W. B. Pusey, P.
Hurl, F. Rae, right hon. Sir W.
Ingestre, Lord Redington, T. N.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Reid, Sir J. R.
Irton, S. Richards, R.
Irving, J. Rickford, W.
Jackson, Sergeant Rolleston, L.
James, W. Rose, right hon. Sir G.
Jermyn, Earl Round, C. J.
Johnstone, H. Round, J.
Jones, J. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Jones, Captain Rushout, G.
Kemble, H. Russell, Lord C.
Kelburne, Visc. Sandon, Viscount
Knatchbull, right hon. Sir E. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Shaw, right hon. F.
Knight, H. G. Sheppard, T.
Knightley, Sir C. Shirley, E. J.
Knox, hon. T. Sibthorp, Colonel
Lascelles, hn. W. S. Smith, G. R.
Law, hon. C. E. Smyth, Sir G. H.
Lemon, Sir C. Spry, Sir S. T.
Lincoln, Earl of Stanley, E.
Lockhart, A. M. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Long, W. Sturt, H. C.
Lowther, hon. Colonel Sutton, hon. J.H.T.M.
Mackenzie, T. Talbot, C. R. M.
Mackenzie, W. F. Talbot, J. H.
Mahon, Viscount Teignmouth, Lord
Manners, Lord C. S. Thomas, Colonel
Martin, T. B. Thornhill, G.
Marton, G. Tyrrell, Sir J. T.
Mathew, G. B. Verner, Colonel
Maunsell, T. P. Vernon, G. H.
Meynell, Captain Villiers, Viscount
Mildmay, P. St. J. Vivian, J. E.
Miles, W. Waddington, H. S.
Miles, P. W. S. Welby, G. E.
Miller, W. H. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Milnes, R. M. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Monypenny, T. G. White, A.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Whitmore, T. C.
Morgan, C. M. R. Williams, T. P.
Neeld, J. Wilmot, Sir J.E.
Neeld, J. Winnington, H. J.
Wodehouse, E. Young, J.
Wood, Colonel TELLERS.
Wood, Colonel T. Baring, H.
Worsley, Lord Fremantle, Sir T.
Paired off.
Turner, E. Attwood, M.
Donkin, Sir R. Vere, Sir C. B.
Crawley, S. Ashley, H.
Courtenay, P. Fenton, J.
Fort, J. Fitzroy,—
Rich, H. Greene, T.
Pigot, R. O'Brien, W. S.
Conyngham, Lord Sheil, right hon. R. L.
Sharpe, General Estcourt, T.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Hill, Sir R.
Howick, Viscount Bentinck, Lord G.
Lushington, C. Jenkins, Sir R.
Maule, hon. F. Boldero, Captain
Bernal, R. Sanderson, R.
Barnard, E. G. Attwood, W.
Paget, Lord A. Wynn, C.
Morrison, J. Burroughes, H. N.
Humphery, J. Vivian, Major C.
Hall, Sir B. Powell, Colonel
Wilde, Sir T. Follett, Sir W.
Buller, C. Young, Sir W.
Browne, D. Tennent, J. E.
Byng, right hon. G. S. Spencer, Captain
O'Ferrall, R. M. Maxwell, S. R.
Howard, P. Wyndham, W.
Hutchins, E. J. D'Israeli, B.
Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H. Baillie. Colonel
Mr. Warburton

moved, that the House do adjourn.

House adjourned.

Back to