HC Deb 27 January 1840 vol 51 cc637-9

The House resolved itself into a committee on the Corn Importation Act.

Mr. Labouchere

said, that he had already intimated his intention of bringing in a bill for the purpose of assimilating the law of Ire and to that of England respecting the importation of foreign flour. At present American flour imported into this country could not, even with the duty paid upon it, be imported into Ireland. The Bill he intended to introduce should be limited to the object of placing both countries upon the same footing. There was no reason why they should differ; he believed the -measure would meet with no opposition, and if it should, lie was at a loss to know upon what grounds. He would now merely move a resolution to the effect, that leave be given to. bring in a bill to repeal so much of the Act of the 9th of George 4th, c. 60, as prohibited the importation into Ireland of wheat meal, wheat flour, and oatmeal.

Colonel Conolly

apprehended that lie should be obliged to oppose the measure of the right hon. Gentleman, which he thought would have an injurious effect upon the agricultural interests of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had said on a former evening that it was much and anxiously wished for by the citizens of Dublin. He (Colonel Conolly) had been in Dublin previous to the meeting of Parliament, and he had observed no such wish or anxiety upon the subject. The fact was, that advantage was now taken of the bad season to bring in this measure, which, as far as he could learn, was uncalled for.

Mr. Labouchere

observed, that by the bill he proposed, the Irish agriculturist would not be placed in a worse position than the English agriculturist. It put them both on the same footing, and he could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he had received many communications shewing the necessity for such a bill.

Mr. E. Tennent

considered that, the contemplated measure would be injurious to the agricultural interest. There was no complaint of the want of a bill of this kind, and he could not see upon what grounds it could be supported. This measure would also be highly injurious to the millers of Ireland. The millers were the most prosperous body of tradesmen at the present time, and a measure of this kind would strike at the root of that prosperity. The millers had invested a large capital in the trade, and had imported large quantities of grain, so that a bill like that which was proposed, unless compensation was given to them, would prove extremely ruinous. It was said that the object was to give cheap bread to the poorer classes; but those who knew anything of Ireland knew that the poor did not use flour, and he would say, that if they wanted cheap bread they ought to continue the mills. This measure he considered as the first step to the destruction of the agricultural interest; and on every occasion, therefore, he should oppose it.

Mr. O'Connell

said, the object of the bill was to put the Irish corn laws on the same footing as those of England. At present the Irish wheat was so bad that it was deleterious to the health of the people, and it was simply proposed to permit the introduction of a finer quality to mix with that which was at present injurious. It was not a corn law question at all.

Colonel Perceval

had never heard a wish for a measure of this description expressed in any of the agricultural districts of Ireland, and he wondered that the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, who represented an agricultural county, had not stated the view of his constituents in regard to a bill in which they were so deeply interested. He should oppose the measure in every stage.

Mr. S. O'Brien,

as Member for an agricultural county, and as a friend to protection, found no difficulty in giving his assent to the present motion. He could not participate in the fears of the gallant Colonel that evil would arise from an assimilation of duties in the two countries.

Resolution agreed to.—House resumed.