HC Deb 26 May 1840 vol 54 cc563-639
Mr. Villiers

I believe that the House is well aware that in consequence of the singular course which it thought proper to adopt with regard to the last motion on the Corn-laws, it has now become my duty again to propose the question for its consideration; and I hope the House will feel that if that course was unsatisfactory to the public, offensive to those interested in the discussion, and almost cruel to that much larger number who refer their recent sufferings to the operation of this law—that neither has it been attended by any convenience or advantage to this House; and certainly I do not regret, when this House shrinks from a fair decision or a full discussion on a question vitally important to the people at large, it derives no advantage from its own wrong. I know it may be said, that the immediate occasion of the course to which I have referred was the motion of the hon. Member for Bridport. ["Hear,"] But I ask, when it was, that my hon. Friend moved the adjournment of the House? Why, when this House had decided, that the debate should not be adjourned at all—which it did after six hours out of the seven hours (during which the debate had lasted) had been occupied by persons opposed to the motion, when the last speaker only closed his address at past one in the morning—after the Members for the most important and most distressed of the manufacturing districts had been referred to, and the interests of their constituents misstated—and after thirty or forty Members had left the House, on the faith that the debate would be adjourned—it was then that the House insisted on dividing, and that my hon. Friend thought that it would be more expedient to resume the discussion at a future time, when a fair decision might be taken upon it. The majority have, therefore, to thank themselves for any disadvantage accruing to their cause by an adjourned discussion, and I do not suppose that it can be very politic in those who desire to maintain this law to invite the public attention to it more than it need do; and if I am to judge of the scornful manner in which the Member for East Somerset referred to the mode in which I had introduced this subject, when (as the House remembers) he complained with so much impatience that Gentlemen like himself should be kept from their avocations in the country, to listen to dull treaties on the Corn-laws—I say taking that Gentleman to represent the taste and temper of the House, I do not suppose that, at this season, when there is even more to divert the mind from the House, it can be more agreeable to hear another essay on what only affects the poverty and privations of the humbler classes. But I hear that, I have but ill chosen the moment now for renewing the discussion. But I should like to know when it would be very agreeable to a majority of this House to discuss this matter. The Member for East Somerset's avocation, before, was, I believe, to attend some local bench of justice, that is used to profit by his learning. This time, I am told that it is the season when gentlemen quit the bench and enter upon another field of service, and the tenants, converted into troops, pass in review before their Lords. The grievance therefore now is, that they are brought to London from the country, to hear the discussion which they find so dull. As far as I am concerned, I am sorry to disturb their manœuvres, for they are more likely to be innocent away than nearer home; for it will not be in my day that I shall satisfy them that respect for this House would be better insured by a patient consideration in this place, of laws proved to be bad, than by a display of in-competency on the bench, or inefficiency in the field, elsewhere. However, Sir, whether it was a trick or a triumph to have so disposed of the question before, I shall not complain of the circumstance, for it has enabled us again to discuss the matter; and I have seen too much of the advantage of discussion on this subject not to value very highly its continuance. It has, in truth, done nearly all that can be expected of discussion—it has disclosed the truth, and exposed what is untrue in the matter; and, notwithstanding the fallacy and vague generality with which it has been attempted to perplex it, it has cleared the question of confusion, and brought it back to the point from which it was at first advanced—namely, as to what right or reason there was for one class of proprietors to impose a heavy burthen on the rest of the community, for the purpose of swelling their own fortunes. This is the question the people ask—this is the question that has not been answered, but this is the question that must be satisfied, if the public are not to be left in the belief that it rests upon nothing but the rude right of power—a reckless, ruinous, heartless law, maintained for the interest of a few, and in truth injurious to all. That is the opinion of the great body of the people, as far as the public sentiment can be collected, and which has been elicited by that opinion being denied. And now it would be well for the House to reflect upon the progress of opinion on this matter. In 1837, either despair of justice or dread of conflict had produced what is called apathy on the subject; few petitions were presented to this House; and a county Member thought it decent and safe, when I rose to speak upon it, to attempt to count the House out. In 1838, I brought it forward; and it was asserted that the manufacturers were indifferent to the matter—by no means injured by this law—but rather that they partook of the benefit which it was asserted was shared by others. Mark the result of so treating the subject. Before the Session of 1839, there was hardly a chamber of commerce that had not petitioned this House; hardly a manufacturing town that had not appointed its delegate to proceed to London respectfully to ask this House to listen to the facts they were ready to detail in answer to the strange misapprehension of their interests which seemed to prevail in it. How did the House deal with their petitions? On what ground did you dismiss their prayer—which was, to be heard, in the face of the country and the world, at this bar? Why, it was then thought convenient to assume, that what they said was true, but to-day the policy of changing the law, which it was declared, rested upon a general regard to the interests of the community. You said, the working classes were not of the same mind with the petitioners, and that it was a mere selfish manufacturing question. Now, what followed from this assertion? Why that there was hardly one town of any note in great Britain where there had not been some meeting assembled or some petition signed by the working people against the Corn-laws, as if for the purpose of recording, at least, their opinion respecting them; and although they may never petition the House again on the subject—as many have declared that they will not—they have, by the sentiments which they conveyed by their petitions, left no one in doubt as to their views of the justice, humanity, or policy of such laws. And, now, how stands the question,—what has been the result of all the agitation and discussion which the subject has excited? Why, that all the pretences on which the law has been sought to be defended have been thoroughly sifted and examined; and that, now, there is hardly a mechanic or a schoolboy, in any town, who is not familiar with the fallacies which have been used on the occasion, and the refutation of them. I have listened to many debates on this subject, and I have looked through those that have occurred in Parliament on former occasions; and I find that they all resolve themselves into some three or four phrases, which, though they may be varied in expression, are yet only the same things repeated; and I shall now only refer to them with the view of noting them to the public, and with the hope of preventing their repetition this evening.

First, then, there is the notion that the high price of food occasions a high rate of wages, and that the people have therefore this interest in their continuance. Next, that, by the landlord's receiving a higher price for his land, he becomes a better customer to the manufacturer. The next is, that it is part of the system of this country, that when an interest cannot maintain itself, it should be maintained by law, and that the Corn Law is the mode of affording that relief to the landowner. And the last is, that it is unwise for a country to depend upon other countries for food. Now, if any person will examine the arguments urged for the law, they will find them comprehended in one or other of these sentences; and I, for one, am very glad that these things are put forward, for it has forced upon the public the discussion of matters deeply interesting to the middle and working classes, and to which, usually, they are diverted from giving their attention, by the absorbing interest of individual affairs. It has, moreover, led to a particular consideration of the circumstances which influence the condition of the working class in this country; and it has fairly brought all the fallacies advanced on this subject to the test of common sense and experience. Now, what may be said, with truth, to have resulted from the inquiry into the connection between the high price of food and the condition of the labouring class? Why that, perhaps, a greater mockery of their misery could not have been devised or uttered, by any person, than to say, that the high price of food has been productive of anything but sorrow, misery, and wretchedness, to the poor, and that it is the unpleasant conclusion to which we must arrive,—that, in the progress of society in this country, in proportion as the food of the people has become more scarce, that their condition has become worse; and that the agricultural labourers, in some respects, now, are worse off than they were three centuries ago; and that, during the last eighteen months, when food has been so high, their sufferings have been greatly aggravated, In making this statement, I am supported by an authority which may be supposed to be quite unprejudiced;—I allude to Mr. Hallam, who, inquiring into the history of the labouring classes, is compelled, after allowing for the many advantages which modern inventions have procured for them, to conclude that their condition has deteriorated in comparison with what it was in past ages. I will quote his words:— I should find it difficult to resist the conclusion that, however the labourer has derived benefit from the cheapness of manufactured commodities and the inventions of machinery, he is much inferior in ability to support a family than his ancestors were three or four centuries ago. I know not why some, here, suppose meat was a luxury seldom attained by a labourer; doubtless he could have procured as much as he pleased, but from the greater cheapness of cattle, it seems to follow that a more considerable portion of his diet consisted of animal food than at present. It was remarked by Sir J. Fortescue, that he thought the English lived far more on animal food than their neighbours the French, and it was natural to ascribe their superior courage to that circumstance. It is strictly relevant to point to this circumstance, since we are called upon to judge of the policy of this law by its influence on the condition of the agricultural labourers. There is, in the Annals of Agriculture, a paper by Arthur Young, somewhat in confirmation of this view, in which it is made to appear that the wages of the labourer commanded a larger amount of the necessaries of life than they can do at present. However, this matter need not be in doubt; it is within the power of every person to know what wages the agricultural labourer receives, and what they will procure for him. My statements were questioned, as to one county to which I had referred; and, subsequently to the debate, I made inquiry into the matter, and merely found that to be generally the case in the county which I had pointed to as occurring in some parishes only. The married people with families rarely get more than 9s.—the maximum appears to be 11s.,—and the young unmarried men, as able to work as the married men, 6s. or 6s. 6d.; and I own I was wholly unable to learn where it was that these men preferred 6s. to 10s., of which fact, however, we were assured by the Member for Wiltshire. Now, when the House refers to one of its very recent reports upon the working of the Poor Law, and finds, there, that a married man has to spend nearly 7s. 6d. a-week in bread and flour, it may judge how his family must fare with regard to their other wants of life. But, perhaps, a more astounding argument has been recently advanced for this law, than even that of its being advantageous to the labourer,—namely, that the change is sought by the master manufacturers, in order to reduce the wages of the labourer; and this has actually appeared in a publication which has proceeded from a society that has just been instituted for the purpose, as it professes, of protecting British agriculture, but, in truth, for upholding the present Corn Law. It is stated in the prospectus of this society,—patronised, doubtless, by the nobility, gentry, and clergy,—that the manufacturers wish to lower the rate of wages, in seeking to repeal the Corn Laws. It would be curious to learn whether that is uttered in ignorance or with the knowledge of its being untrue. Do they know, or have they inquired into, the condition of the people in the manufacturing districts; and, if they have, can they say how, under any change of the law, their wages could be lowered?—and, if the object of the manufacturers was simply to reduce the wages of these men, could the masters fare better than at this moment, when wages are at their minimum? Have these wealthy patrons of this society ever read the reports of the Commissioners of the hand-loom weavers? Why, these unfortunate people, amounting in number to 800,000, cry out for the repeal of these laws, as the great cause of their suffering, and yet this agricultural protection society would imply it was a matter affecting only the masters, and against which the men were interested. [Sir C. Burrell—Hear.] I hardly know how to explain that cheer of the hon. Baronet; but if it be to affirm this charge against the master manufacturers, I must repeat my question to him,—how does he explain the complaints of the masters, when the men are nearly starving? The hon. Baronet should learn the condition of the people under the operation of his Corn Law, before he talks of its being possible to make it worse by the repeal of the law. But if any man wishes to understand the bearing of this question on the manufacturing interests, read the answers of these poor weavers to the hand-loom Commissioners. If they wish to learn that which they ought to be acquainted with already, let them study those blue volumes containing the opinion, and referring to the interests, of these working men. I was really startled at their shrewdness and sagacity; and I was, in consequence, led to ask one of the central Commissioners what he thought of those supplies; and he admitted that he had been struck, like myself, with the just and sagacious views that they took of their interests. What is their simple reasoning on this subject? Why, they say, "These Corn Laws act as a great restraint on trade in this country; and whatever extends the trade increases the demand for labour; and with that demand, our wages rise. Whenever that demand increases, we find ourselves better off; and we now feel that these laws are injuring us, by diminishing that demand, and by increasing the cost of food." It is true they refer to other remedies to meet their ease, that the repeal of the corn laws; and we find among their suggestions, one for taxing machinery, and another for universal suffrage; but these are not urged altogether without reason. They say, "We have as good a right to have a tax imposed upon machinery, as the land-owners have to a tax upon the produce of more fertile soils. The country, in the last case, is taxed for the benefit of a class; we have an equal claim to a tax on machinery; for the principle is the same of taxing the community for the benefit of a few." And they do further say, certainly, that if the Legislature will neither act wisely, as regards the public, and repeal the law, nor consistently towards them, in taxing machinery, that, then, they seek to be represented more faithfully in this House than they are at present, and they claim the suffrage, with the view of getting justice to themselves; and I own I see nothing inconsequent in such reasoning. And now, Sir, before I quit the question of the influence of this law upon the working population, I must adduce something in support of my opinion—that a scarcity and dearness of provisions tend to generate disease, and accelerate death among them: and I will here read a letter, entitled to credit, from an important manufacturing town, written by a resident medical man, a member of the College of Surgeons—it is Dr. Ryan, of Stockport: this gentleman writes,— I take the liberty of addressing you on the necessity of cheap bread for our artisans and their families. As a medical man, I feel, that the results of my experience may, with propriety, be added to your information on the subject. My practice is much among the poorer classes in this populous town and neighbourhood; for, in addition to my private engagements as a professional man, I am the medical officer to the "Stockport Board of Health," consisting of upwards of 3000 members. I find, Sir,—1. That a large amount of the labouring population in this neighbourhood is insufficiently fed and clothed; that the scarcity of clothing arises from the high prices of provisions, which thus absorbs, for the support of life, nearly all the hard-earned wages of each family; and that the cause of the insufficient diet is the high price of flour. 2. I find that the scarcity of good substantial food is productive of many very fatal diseases, and much misery among our people, and especially among poor children, whose sustenance ought to be principally farinaceous. 3. That among many, very many, families, portions only of whom can at present find employment, the small amount of wages accruing weekly is consumed in the purchase of oatmeal and potatoes; that whole families subsist, week after week, on meal gruel; and that payment of rent, and the purchase of fuel and clothing, are out of the question; and that the result too frequently is, the confiscation of their household goods, and removal to the workhouse. 4. That, to avoid the disgrace of seeking parochial relief, the most extreme misery and starvation are constantly endured by families in this town; and, although the standard of wages is continually falling, the necessaries of life are advancing in price, and therefore the ratio of misery is perpetually increasing. Such, Sir, are the impressions I have received in going from house to house, among our labouring poor. Day after day am I compelled to witness the most heart-rending scenes of misery and privation, such, in fact, as none but medical men are allowed to behold, for the decent pride of an Englishman ever prompts him to conceal the full extent of his poverty from the public view. I have given you, Sir, no laboured details,—no speculative theories,—no proposed methods of amelioration. I leave, Sir, the remedy, with confidence, in the hands of men like yourself, who, prompted, I trust, by the principles of sound and unflinching philanthropy, will never rest until laws unnatural as the corn laws are, be for ever erased from the statute book. I have been supplied, also, with a table, showing the effect on the population of a high and low price of food. I regret that the table has not been completed down to the last year; but it is sufficient to enable us to form an opinion on the subject. I will not read the whole table to the House, but merely a portion of it, showing the total number of deaths in seven of the manufacturing districts of England, at four different periods with the average prices of wheat per quarter at each period, shown as follows:—

A Return of the Number of Deaths in seven of the manufacturing districts of England, at four different periods, with the average Price of Wheat per quarter, at each period.
Years. Average Price of Wheat per Quarter. Deaths. Excess of Deaths above those of the year 1804, when wheat was 60s. per qr.
s. d.
1801 118 3 55,905 11,171
1804 60 1 44,794
1807 73 3 48,108 3,314
1810 106 2 54,804 10,070
This shows that in the ratio that food was cheap was the health of the community good. Is it not something shocking for the Legislature deliberately to persist in maintaining a law which is ever spreading disease, occasioning death, and weighing down industry; and all this for no purpose but to add to the wealth of persons who do nothing, themselves, to add to the wealth of the country? I do not mean to say, that the wealthy classes are more unfeeling or hard-hearted than other people; but the fact is, that they are not aware of the extent of the evil, and of the misery occasioned by this law,—being misled by those who ought to know better. I believe, that if those classes were aware of the real consequences of the law, they would meet the question in a very different way from that in which they now regard it; but, under these circumstances, is it not idle to hear it contended that the home trade is benefited by these laws, when men have hardly the withal to buy bread, and, consequently, are obliged to forego the purchase of manufactures? The manufacturers' case is, in one respect, that the home trade is injured by their customers being deprived of their ordinary means of consumption; and their case, though it may have been misrepresented, has not yet been replied to,—namely, that, by the Corn-laws, you deprive them of customers, both at home and abroad. With countries having only food to exchange for manufactures, they are debarred from trading; for they are unable to effect the exchange which is essential to commerce. Now, it is no answer to that objection to the Corn-law, that the whole exports of this country—with reference to the character of the exports or the countries to which they are sent—should increase. It may assure the country, that losing the markets of Europe has not yet been fatal to it; but it does not answer the fact, that these markets are closed against them, and that the inconvenience arising from the terms on which we would, alone, allow the trade to be conducted, has induced those states to manufacture for themselves and exclude those of this country; and with respect to the home, it will not do to deny, that it has been our policy, and that of other states, to close and check the commerce between this country and themselves. We have had a paper laid on this table since the last discussion, which disproves that assertion, an extract of which I will read to the House;—the proposal of the Prussian government to this country, in 1826, before the Prussian league was formed, offering to enter into a treaty of commerce with us;—and there is the answer to that proposal. The proposal runs thus:— Assuming, then, that it will be agreeable to the British Government to learn that Prussia is disposed to conclude a treaty of reciprocity, the Court of Berlin has directed the undersigned to propose to his Excellency, Mr. Canning, to enter into negotiation for that purpose. It would be ready to engage to make no change in its existing system for a certain number of years, and specifically not to increase the duties of import on English merchandise. But, on the other hand, it expects that the British Government will allow the importation of Prussian corn, subject to such duties as shall not exclude the possibility of carrying on that trade with a reasonable profit, and that it will grant greater facilities than it does at present to the importation of timber coming from the ports of Prussia. As the produce of English industry finds a very extensive market in the Prussian monarchy, whilst, on the other hand, Prussia can only import into England the produce of its soil, and principally corn and wood, it is evident that it is only by granting facilities to the importation of these two articles that it is possible to establish the relations between the two countries on a footing of reciprocity. This was the distinct proposal submitted by the Prussian government to our minister; and what was the answer which Mr. Canning was compelled, by the absurd policy of the Legislature of his country, to make? It was this:— It becomes his Majesty's Government, in the judgment of this committee, when a proposal for altering our Corn-laws is made to us by a foreign government, as a condition of something to be done or omitted by that go- vernment, at once to declare that we never can entertain such a proposal. This was the answer which the British Minister was compelled to give to a foreign power, proposing to enter into a beneficial treaty of commerce with this country, on whose manufacturing prosperity depends the livelihood of millions of our people. This was the reception which the offers of the Prussian government met with before the league was formed; and what do we hear now, since the league has been formed, now including twenty-six millions of people, who, for commercial purposes, are ready to act together? Why, from all our ministers, from every commissioner that we have sent to collect information on the subject, that now, before they again decide the amount of their tariffs as against this country, they are ready still to negociate with us; that it is the prevailing wish and desire among the people of those states to trade with us. But what can we do, if the Legislature pertinaciously refuses to allow us to place ourselves in a condition to negociate with them? For, as the French minister wisely said, "to get concessions from others, we ought to be in a condition to grant them." But if there be any doubt about the interest of the states in the league, to trade with England, let the interests respectively of the people in each be examined. Why, admitting that there are twenty-six millions of people in these islands, and twenty-six millions under the league, what proportion in each is interested in agriculture and in manufactures? I answer, in the league, nearly eighteen millions in agriculture, and the remainder only partially in manufactures; while, in England, those who may be termed the agricultural interest are seldom put at more than one fourth; and we know that the proportions of this have been gradually diminishing, while the manufacturing has been increasing. It is clear, therefore, that the interests of the respective populations lie in an interchange of their mutual products. Now, if it is an object to re-establish our commercial relations with these states, this is a most important moment. In 1842, the tariffs will have been fixed, and, I believe, will not then be altered again for twelve years. The same is the law with the United States; it is only an accident that their tariff has not been discussed this year. It will be so in the following year. Now, I beg dis- tinctly to call the attention of the House and of the country to these circumstances, to preclude all possibility of doubt as to the reason of our losing this advantage, if it is to be lost; and I do make this statement deliberately, in order that it may be referred to in future, when the people are distressed and the manufactures declining; and the people will have to call those, to whom they have intrusted their interest, to account, for their condition, that they may judge correctly as to whether their interests have been protected or betrayed. It will be idle, at a future time, to twaddle about what is called "a system of protection," and the notion that the Corn-laws are only part of that system, when all other classes, so protected, have repeatedly declared that the protection they desired was only against the effects of the Corn-laws. Even those who have been most tardy and timid in expressing their opinion on this subject—I mean those engaged in the silk trade—have rested their claim for protection upon the ground that there is yet maintained a monopoly in all articles of necessary consumption. The weavers of Coventry have lately cried out against the Corn-laws, as one great cause of diminishing the demand for their labour, and diminishing the value of their wages. The people know and feel too well, now,—and they will have to feel it still more, though the rulers of this country may be ignorant of it,—in what way trade with other countries affects them, and what a fraudulent fallacy it is, to assert that the Corn-laws would reduce their wages. They know, too well, on what terms the foreign trade is carried on now. They have the daily experience of orders coming over to them to be executed at certain low prices, or not at all, and what a fearful struggle is constantly going on with men with large families, as to whether they shall execute the orders,—working fourteen and sixteen hours a day, at the expense of all health and happiness, for a miserable pittance,—or whether they shall at once go to the workhouse. I know that this is a struggle which every year becomes more severe, and that the time will soon arrive when the prices offered to the operatives will be so low that they will be unable to work and sustain life, upon them; and, when they refuse them, the foreign merchant, or, indeed, the English merchant, will then get them executed in Belgium or Germany. What an insult is it, then, to their sense and to their poverty, to tell them that the price of food being high is an advantage to them, when the money they receive is, each year, lower! And it is by this difference between the condition of the manufacturing classes, as compared with former years,—it is by the result of these and other silly and suicidal restrictions on the freedom of commerce,—that rivals are created, trade rendered languid, and industry cheated of its reward. And what excuse does any man of understanding pretend to find for such evils in the notion that the law will avert a dependence on other countries for food. This silly fear, which is an argument against commerce altogether, if it be worth anything, has been revived again, this year,—after its being ridiculed so as almost to preclude its repetition—by the authority of the President of the United States of America, and of Marshal Bugeaud in France; in short, the landed aristocracy of this country, having no argument of their own for this law, eagerly seize upon what falls from a republican president, as applicable to his own country, to justify them in the maintenance of an anti-national monopoly in this country. And what was the saying of this personage, which has so delighted the landlords of this country? Why, Mr. Van Buren thinks that nothing can be more disastrous for a country than to depend upon another country for its food; and Marshal Bugeaud says, in the French Chamber, that he would sooner see a Russian army march through France than see German beef consumed by the people; and the people of England are to be half starved, because these great characters have uttered these very wise sayings! Why, I think I could tell Mr. Van Buren what would be more disastrous than depending upon another country for food; and that would be, not to have another country to depend upon when you cannot supply yourself,—and that must be the case of England, whatever it might be with the United States, with its extensive waste lands, that require cultivation; and I say we cannot supply ourselves, after twenty-five years' experience of the Corn-law, having just experienced a greater deficiency than we have ever known before. With respect to the French marshal, he represented, I presume, the grazing interest of his country, and his doctrine has as much the good of the people to recom- mend it, as the arguments of the landowner in favour of the Corn-laws have to do with the good of this country. But the people of this country are not to be deceived by trash of this kind; they know that people don't grow grain to give away; and that it does not follow, as the case of Ireland pretty well proves, that a people should be able to consume, themselves, the corn they produce. They must have the means of purchasing it; and the silly persons who are now injuring them, by depriving them of their custom from foreigners, are, in truth, only depriving themselves of their best market. I have, then, now exhausted the pretences of a public kind, which are pleaded for the Corn-law; and I contend that they are pretences that will not and cannot be much longer employed. I think I perceived some recognition of this doctrine during the last debate; and, in proof of the fact, I would refer, in the first place, to what fell from the Member for Bassetlaw, who, after beating about the bush a long time, first attempting to question my statements about the wages of labourers, and then disputing the accuracy of my reference to the revenue, he said, after all, he could not shut his eyes to the great advantage which this law gave to the aristocracy, and that, in fact, by this means, it tended much to preserve that nice balance of power in this country which had conduced so much to its greatness and its glory;—and that he would uphold the law, on that account;—a principle which, certainly, was intelligible, whether it was discreet or not, to avow it; and I know no answer to it but that suggested by a question of the people, whether the price they pay for this nice balance of power is not rather too great. He was, if I remember, followed by the hon. Member for the North Riding, whose defence of the law was somewhat in contrast with that of his colleague on a former occasion, who was in the habit of enveloping the question with a cloud of statistics that left us in doubt as to what we were discussing. The hon. Member, however, warned us on this side not to suppose that the landowners were so soft as to give up the Corn-laws: and that was fair enough, for it placed the question, at least, on intelligible grounds; since, between him and the people, it becomes only a question as to which will be soft enough to surrender their claims. We have it thus admitted, that the Corn-law gives extra- ordinary power to the aristocracy, and we are told that the aristocracy are not the people to surrender it. And, indeed, this mode of arguing the question is not inconsistent with that pursued by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, who seems to me, also, to have abandoned the attempt to argue this question on its own merits; and when the noble Lord, the Member for Shropshire, asks me why I do not reply to the right hon. Baronet,—why, I must tell the noble Lord, that I have first to learn that the right hon. Baronet differs from me; for I suspect that he agrees with me more than with the noble Lord; for I argue against the Corn-laws, but the right hon. Baronet does not argue for the Corn-laws; he only fences with the friends of repeal; and the difference between him and his opponents is only as to the degree of mischief which they produce; and the sum of the right hon. Baronet's argument appears to be, that the camel's back is not broke yet; on the contrary, he says the animal is very buoyant,—he seems almost to doubt whether the burden does not conduce to this,—but if his back were broken, he contends, other backs have been broken also, and in other places, by other burdens. These are not his words; but they are a fair illustration of what he said. The right hon. Baronet proceeded with all that order and propriety which distinguish his addresses, to dissect the statements and speeches of those who are in favour of this motion; he said he would repeat to the House the substance of what had been alleged against the Corn-laws,—namely, that they occasioned a great derangement of our monetary affairs, and that they caused great fluctuations of price in corn, and that they tended to cripple the manufacturing interests. Then," said the right hon. Baronet, "see how I will deal with these arguments. In the first place, you complain that they disturb the monetary system of the country. Now, I will tell you, that the currency has been deranged before; and, upon such occasions, no person attributed that result to the operation of the Corn-laws. I say, further, that the currency has been deranged in the United States, and. that commercial embarrassment has occurred in France; and these results cannot have been owing to such a cause as you ascribe them to, in this country. Again, with respect to the fluctuations in the price, this argument would imply that other articles are steady in price. Now, I can prove that coffee has fluctuated in price as well as corn; and that is my answer to your argument, which would show that the Corn-laws have greatly aggravated these evils that are alleged to have occurred. I could more fully illustrate the justice of my remark upon the hon. Baronet's speech; but the fact is, the fault in his argument was so obvious to everybody, at the time, and it has been so commented upon in all the papers since, that I will not further take up your time by referring to it. But the right hon. Baronet then proceeded to show that there was an error in supposing that the country was not in a prosperous state; and he showed this in a way that was certainly convenient,—namely, by assuming his own test of the fact. It was contended, on this side, that the people were badly off; that there was but scanty employment for their industry; that the difficulties cast in the way of trade by the restraints which the Corn-laws impose upon commerce, prevent a steady or sufficient demand for the labour of this country; and we have shown that internal consumption has declined during the late year. Now, what says the right hon. Gentleman? He says, I cannot look at your proofs of declining trade; they are unsatisfactory, if they are just; but I have here that which is conclusive on the subject. I have in my hand a return of the exports to the whole world from this country; and I find, that during the last year, they have increased; therefore, there can be no distress,—therefore the trade of this country is extending to the different parts of the world. [Lord Darlington: Hear.] The noble Lord appears to assent, by his cheer, to the conclusiveness of that argument. Would he think it, then, at all times, conclusive of the prosperity of the landed interest, that there was an increased number of mortgages and auctions? If he would not, does it not show that the amount of property transferred or sold is not conclusive as to the extent of the demand for it; and unless a supply of any article is maintained with the view to the steady and adequate demand for it, that it is rather a proof of loss or misfortune than of prosperity? and surely that is the reply to the hon. Baronet's reasoning, from an unusual amount of exports, and in which he appeared to assume that there cannot be consignments of goods arising as well from necessity as Well as to meet an increasing demand. The manufacturers allege that the articles entered for home consumption have been less, while the exports have increased, and that they have so increased because there has been a less demand for them at home, and that in consequence of a high price of food. And here let me remind the noble Lord who claims the right hon. Baronet as the champion of the landed interest, that if the right hon. Baronet fails in proving that the Corn-laws are compatible with the prosperity of manufactures, he is not so important an advocate of the landed interest as he assumes him to be; for the right hon. Baronet, if I understand him rightly,—I will not say exactly threw overboard,—but, certainly, set aside the favourite fancies of the country gentlemen on this question; for he must remember, that after they had been, for three nights together, showing us, in their accustomed strain, how it was that they had made the world go round, the right hon. Gentleman rose, and more than hinted to them how unadvisable it was to indulge those notions of their consequence, and avowed, at once, that it was not the idle and unproductive classes that had aggrandised this country; but that all her greatness and wealth were to be referred to her skill in manufacture, and her enterprise in commerce; and then the hon. Baronet, after the admission of this truth, showed the proper way to evade the real question, which was—not by disputing about the real sources of our wealth and power, but—by assuring them that these had been attained, and that it would be dangerous to do anything to place them in jeopardy; and that, as we had become great with Corn-laws, we should be unwise in attempting to become greater by repealing them:—in short, implying that we had become so in consequence of them, and not in spite of them. Now, if I am asked why I did not answer that argument in the best manner, I should say, it was because I had not had time to look into one of the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, where he had had to answer that argument himself when it has been brought against him. I knew that the right hon. Baronet had made such a speech, for I remember being in the House when he replied to an attack upon Mr. Huskisson on this very ground, when that statesman sought, so much to his honour, to introduce more liberal principles into our commercial policy; and upon referring to the debates of that period, I find the following remark upon some senseless fear of change expressed on that occasion:— Mr. Secretary Peel exhorted the House to firmness, reminding it that the eyes of Europe were upon it; and he warned Parliament how greatly those sound and irrefragable principles of commercial policy, which they had heard so ably advocated, would be prejudiced, if it were to yield to the fears of the timid, or the representations of the interested. Now, this exhortation, I contend, might be applied, with equal justice, to the right hon. Gentleman's argument in favour of the Corn-law. What was his argument on this occasion? Why, he led us over half the globe, inviting us to reflect on the vast possessions we had acquired,—the grandeur and extent of our empire, and the power we possessed,—and when we were lost in the contemplation of so much greatness and power, and hardly aware whether we were in England or Hindostan, he then put it to us to consider whether it was not miraculous by what means we had achieved such glory, and whether it would not be presumptuous, and whether it would not be worse than folly, to place it in any danger by any experimental theory, like that of the repeal of the corn laws? Now, the right hon. Baronet knows well, that this is precisely the sort of argument which has been used against himself, whenever he has assumed the character of reformer, which, we know, he does occasionally, and which, we think, suits his disposition far better than the character he is now assuming. He, very worthily, at one time employed himself in removing some of the black spots from our criminal code. Why, we know since, that he was charged then with disturbing what had been part of our system, and under which we had become great and glorious; and that he, who was at the head of the land, in his own cabinet, deemed him a dangerous innovator. Again, when the right hon. Baronet, so highly to his credit, introduced a more perfect system of police, the old and inefficient system of protection which existed was pointed to, as being co-existent with all that we valued most in our institutions; and we had a sort of Saxon sentiment revived in favour of the old system of watch, under which our habitations were unguarded, and our streets in a stale revolting to decency. The hon. Baronet knows that this is the hackneyed weapon with which every reformer is assailed whenever any abuse is attacked, and whenever any fallacy is worn out. or ex- ploded. And this I take to be the right hon. Baronet's predicament, that he has no other weapon to use; for what was the reason the hon. Baronet assigned for his vote, as he told it to us? Why, that my motion was one for a total repeal of the corn laws. Now, in the first place, that is not my motion. I have, on the contrary, proposed only to test the House as to its determination of maintaining the law as it is; I move the preliminary form of a Committee of the whole House to consider the law. The right hon. Gentleman seems to dissent from my interpretation of my own motion. Well, then, I will give him that of one of his own partisans,—I mean the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Christopher), who began his speech by saying, that he considered this a very fair motion, calculated to enlist all those who were not satisfied with the present law; and that, in fact, it would test the opinion of the House as to the working of the present law; and that he should oppose it, because he was perfectly satisfied with the working of the present law. That was the view which the hon. Member for Lincolnshire took of the matter on which he was about to vote; and he, as we know, is among the most tenacious for the continuance of this law. But the right hon. Baronet said, that he had no encouragement to go into a Committee of the whole House with me, for he observed that I treated one of my own friends with, great asperity for not going my length in opinion, but who was yet willing to have voted for the Committee. If I said a word in an unfriendly spirit to my hon. Friend, the Member for Cambridge, I owe him, and I offer him, every apology for it; that was not my intention. Had I then heard his speech, which followed my own, I should have abstained from saying what I did. I certainly, when I saw the particular plan of my hon. Friend, did fear that he was going to give his great authority, as an economist, to a very trifling amendment; and I was not aware till he announced it in his speech, that he was, as he said, bound up by connection and interest with the agricultural party; and that he was returned for a borough in the centre of an agricultural district; for certainly I think the hon. Member did all that could have been expected of him, in giving his sanction to some change in the law, and giving us an excellent speech in favour of free trade. But, Sir, can such arguments as these have any weight in the country, when Gentlemen know that they can just do as they please on this question? They may refuse all change; they may grant ever so small a change; and they have the power to retrace their steps whenever they please; is it not idle, therefore, to pretend that they are afraid of the consequences of going into an inquiry into the operation of the law? Surely, Sir, this is something like trifling with the question; and surely a question involving, as it does, the commerce of the country, the economy of the country, and the general condition of the people, ought not thus to be dealt with. I can hardly suppose that the hon. Baronet himself can be satisfied with the course that he is now pursuing upon it. He must, I think, see that it is scarcely candid towards either side. Surely, if he cannot bring himself to utter the things which the common advocates of this law allow themselves to do, it would be better for him to act upon his conviction, and tell his friends they are wrong. The right hon. Baronet appears to me, by his arguments, to confirm the advocates of repeal in the justice of their opinions, and by his vote he encourages his friends in the injustice of their course. Certainly it is not for me to warn the right hon. Member of the responsibility he is incurring on this question, but I cannot help submitting to him that this question differs materially from many others, and in this respect chiefly, that there are thousands who refuse to inquire into this subject for themselves, and who depend upon the right hon. Gentleman's authority for maintaining the law; and I have no doubt that there are numbers satisfied to uphold the law upon the conviction that the right hon. Gentleman, with all his experience, all his information, all the consideration he has given to the varied interests of this country, would never persist in maintaining this law, and denying the evils which are charged upon it, if he did not feel convinced of the policy and justice of his course. This is the manner by which hundreds are now sparing themselves from all responsibility, and justifying themselves to their opponents. But there is another peculiarity attending the maintenance of this law, which the right hon. Gentleman has, doubtless, well consi- dered; namely, that he cannot select the moment to retrace his steps on this matter, should it prove that he has been in error; and, unlike some other questions, he cannot, upon this, at pleasure, announce the time to be arrived when he should change the law. No! if the evidence was true that is now disregarded, the time will be past when the effects contemplated by the opponents of the law have occurred, when rivalry abroad has been successful in supplanting us,—when capital has been driven from the country,—when our artizans have carried their skill to other countries,—when our colonies are seen receiving manufactures from foreigners;—it will be too late, then, to talk of removing impolitic restraints upon the employment of our capital, and of extending the demand for the industry of our labouring classes. Distress will then have induced the working people to advance claims which they will be unwilling to concede, but unable to resist; and can the right hon. Gentleman really think that the experiment he is making is a safe one? Does he see nothing in the social and political aspect of our affairs to deserve consideration, and can he think it would be unwise for us to turn our thoughts to that which is now giving constant anxiety to men who reflect upon the condition of this country, I mean the bad condition, the increasing intelligence, and the sense of oppression, that now prevail amongst that large mass of our fellow-beings who earn their living by their labour? Would it be a useless application of our time to consider in what way we could improve that condition, or allay that irritation? Surely, we should face this question, however much the remedies may bear upon private interests. A man may not be called upon to forego his own advantages for the public good; but if he enter this House, he does, in my opinion engage to do so; and, whatever the result may be, it will be folly to neglect the inquiry I am suggesting—and need we go very deep to discover the causes? Why, how can people be contented, who are suffering, whose condition is deteriorating, whose intelligence is increasing, whose intercourse with each other is every hour extending—exhibiting to them their common interests, and their common wrongs, disclosing to them the manner in which power is distributed, and the manner in which it is used—the strik- ing inequalities of many conditions—how the very idle are very rich, and how the most industrious are the most in want;—all resulting in a conviction on their minds, that there is a connection between the laws of this country and their misery. Of this they are now persuaded; their impressions are confirmed by the avowed opinions of some of the most enlightened and estimable men in the country; they have not a doubt on their minds; and all the sophistry, and all the abuse that may be employed against them, will not engender one; their feelings art; each day being quickened by increasing numbers and increasing distress; and though we may term any manifestation of this feeling Chartism, yet we may feel sure that we shall not rid ourselves of this social bugbear, till we have removed its elements. The people in this country do not want confusion; that is opposed to their habits of industry, and the feelings that have ever characterised them; they ask for better employment of their industry, and better reward for their toil:—they are ill-fed, over-worked, and under-paid; they seek the improvement in their condition, and for this purpose they call to you to inquire into their grievances. Is there anything that we have yet done, or have it in contemplation to do, which will render the country more safe, or the people more satisfied? And will this be done by rudely refusing inquiry into this giant grievance which I bring before you,—or will that refusal be rendered more tolerable by the additional burdens which are now heaped upon those already borne? Let it only be asked, if this is wise? How soon is it that circumstances may arise in the world that may make it most important for us to be found united at home? What has ever been the difficulty of those states where the institution of slavery exists, in going to war? Why, the reasonable distrust which the Governments have of the great mass of the people. They are conscious that they have earned their hate, and they always dread their vengeance. It was so in the ancient states; it is so still. I believe that, in free communities, want and necessity create a kind of social bondage, under which feelings of a similar kind may be engendered. It is useless to deny that such indications have been of late apparent,—I sincerely trust they may not prevail. What was the answer the other day (as we have seen it reported), of the poor peasant, when he was asked whether the repeal of the corn laws would do him harm? "Harm, Sir!" said he, "how can I be worse off, any how, than I am?" This was the man who was receiving the average pittance for his labour of 7s. or 9s. a week, and who had to forego what was essential to health, to strength, to decency in appearance, in order to provide for his wretched wife and children, and preserve them from the confinement of the parish house. Feelings engendered by such circumstances it cannot be wise to encourage. This is the present condition of too many of the working people in different parts of the country. It cannot be wise to suffer those feelings to prevail. It is, then, in the name of those who love peace, who would have order, who dread confusion, that I now entreat this House, gravely and deliberately, to take this question into their consideration—the question of the law which enhances the cost of food to a people hourly increasing and hourly becoming more distressed. If you pause in doing so, I ask you to reflect whether you can maintain the law,—a law so revolting to justice and policy, felt to be so by ourselves, now pointed at by all the states around us as a nuisance to them, as a satire upon the pretended freedom of our constitution. Will you, I say, continue to make this experiment against the order of nature?—for this it is you are doing, seeing that you are attempting to confine the people of this island to the food grown within its limits, when all experience of nature, and the provision of nature, show that you cannot, and that you need not. The opposite experience is found in the history of the peopling of the world: it is when the population exceeds the means of support, that the human animal goes forth, and finds the means of life in a distant land; it is as he advances in civilisation, that he finds that he can employ his labour in fabricating that which will exchange for food, with a people differently circumstanced; and that is the state in which we now find ourselves, yet it is the means of obtaining food which the law attempts to prevent. The natural fruits of this experiment we have witnessed this year, in the spread of disease, and death, and destitution. To render this endurable, you must show it to be inevitable; and can you expect that this will be believed in opposition to the deliberate judgment of those whose names are most revered among us, and who have denounced the principle of such law, as impious, impolitic, and wrong? Hear the words of Burke on this subject:— God hath given the earth to the children Of men; and he, undoubtedly, in giving it to them, has given them what is abundantly sufficient for all their exigencies,—not a scanty, but a most liberal provision. The Author of our nature has written it strongly in that nature, and has promulgated the same thing in his word, that man shall eat his bread by his labour; and I am persuaded that no man, or combination of men, for their own profit, can, without great impiety, undertake to say that he shall not do so, and that they have any sort of right either to prevent the labour, or to withhold the bread. The authority of Dr. Johnson may be quoted on the same side. In a conversation with Sir Thomas Robinson, upon a law which was proposed respecting the admission of Irish produce into England, when Sir Thomas Robinson observed, that those laws might be prejudicial to the corn interest in England; "Sir Thomas," said Dr. Johnson, "you talk the language of a savage. What, Sir, would you prevent any people from feeding themselves, if by any honest means they can do it?" Dr. Chalmers has declared that the corn laws infect the whole air of British society; and that there will be no peace until they are repealed; I fear I have occupied the House too long; but I will now leave the question to the House, trusting that you will avail yourselves of the accident which has given you a second opportunity of considering it, and that you will consent to the motion which I have now to make,—"That the House resolve itself into a Committee, to take into consideration the Act 9 Geo. 4th, regulating the importation of foreign grain."

Mr. Strutt

rose to second the motion. He was at all times unwilling to trespass on the attention of the House, and he felt particularly so after the able speech of his hon. Friend. The question, however, was of so much importance, that he was induced to trouble the House with a few observations. His hon. Friend had justly observed, that hon. Gentlemen on the other side seemed disposed to settle the question by phrases instead of arguments; one of these phrases was, "protection to agriculture," as if protection to agriculture was a species of property in the possession of the landed interest, which could be conferred as a boon upon landlords without causing loss to any others in the community. It behoved the House and the Legislature of every country always to remember that the phrase "protection to agriculture" was another word for taxation. To protect one class was to increase the burdens of other classes. When the proposition was made to Parliament to give protection, or to maintain an existing protection, the onus rested on the parties claiming the protection, to show what special grounds there were why the public should be taxed for their exclusive benefit. If this was the case in ordinary circumstances, it was peculiarly the case with respect to the Corn-laws. In giving protection to branches of manufacture an attempt was usually made to show what the amount of the protection ought to be, and it was usually given in the shape of a fixed duty. The legislature went no further; it did not presume to interfere with the price of commodities, but left them to be regulated on the ordinary principles of competition. In the Corn-laws, a totally different principle was adopted. The law was founded on the supposition that it was the duty of the Legislature to ensure a certain price to the farmer. This was the object of the sliding scale, but until they could regulate the weather, and ensure favourable seasons, it was in vain to attempt ensuring a fixed price to the farmer. The only effect of the system was to deceive him with false hopes, and to mislead him in all his contracts and calculations. It led farmers to look for relief in seasons of distress, not like the producers of other commodities to increased industry and economy, but to the Legislature. It turned away their thoughts from seeking to make a new bargain with their landlords for a reduction of rent, and it made a low price of corn a grievance of which they conceived they had a right to complain to Parliament, and, which they could call on Parliament to redress. He firmly believed, that this placed the farmer in a worse position than he could possibly be otherwise. It might be said, that the original object of the sliding scale was to ensure steadiness of price. He knew that there were high authorities in favour of the assertion, that it was calculated to attain this object. Mr. Huskisson was of that opinion, and the right hon. Member for Tamworth had also expressed it. The right hon. Gentleman in his various speeches on the subject had care- fully abstained from touching almost any principle connected with it. Nothing, in fact, had fallen from him which would prevent him coming down in the next Session of Parliament, if he were Minister, and proposing an extensive change in the Corn-laws. He did not speak of this as a reproach. Far from it. It only proved the right hon. Baronet's caution. But with all that caution the right hon. Baronet had expressed a decided opinion upon the sliding scale. He was persuaded that the sliding scale tended in no way to insure steadiness of price. How did it work? It proposed to work by means of the importer of foreign corn. But what was the situation it placed him in? Its direct tendency was to increase the fluctuations of price upon the importer. The importer brought in a certain quantity of corn in expectation of a given price. An alteration of a few shillings in price, before his corn reached the market would, by means of the sliding scale, increase the fluctuation threefold. Thus his expectation of profit would be met by a ruinous loss. On the other hand, suppose the importer had a stock of corn when the price was about 60s., he would be tempted to hold it until there was a further rise, in order to obtain the double advantage of a higher price, and a lower duty. Then there was an enormous influx of corn, producing a sudden lowering of prices, yielding the least possible advantage to the Government in the shape of duty, and causing an extensive derangement of the currency. All this rendered the corn trade one in which it was hazardous in the extreme to engage. He knew a gentleman who wished to enter into a speculation in the corn trade, but who felt it necessary to keep the circumstance a profound secret, and to require that the money should not be paid through his own banker, lest the circumstance should become known in the commercial world. He knew, that if it did it would injure his credit. Was it possible to pronounce a stronger censure on the system than the fact that the suspicion of being engaged in the trade which it encouraged would be injurious to the credit of a respectable merchant? What, then, was the mode of preventing fluctuations? In his (Mr. Strutt's) opinion they could not wholly prevent fluctuations in the price of coin. The supply of corn must necessarily fluctuate, while the demand was compara- tively constant. Therefore, it would always be liable to fluctuation. Was that a reason for making fluctuations greater and more frequent? It was the more imperative to use every means to reduce the fluctuations within the lowest possible limit. In former ages these fluctuations existed to a great extent, because each district was limited to its own supply. But commercial intercourse brought about the transfer of the surplus corn of one district to supply the deficiency in another. In the world at large no such fluctuations could take place as in small districts, and the larger the surface from which supplies were drawn, the narrower was the circle within which fluctuations would be confined. They would be less liable to fluctuation the more they approached to perfect freedom of trade. By unlimited freedom of trade might fluctuations be avoided, and not by any artificial system or complicated Custom-house regulations. It was said that free-trade would make us dependent on foreigners. It was strange that such an argument should be brought forward at the present day. We were dependent on foreigners now, and he rejoiced to say that the progress of civilization must every day make nations more dependent on each other. A vast proportion of our manufactures were dependent on the supply of foreign material. A fluctuation in the price of that material produced severe distress, but a stoppage in the supply would produce absolute ruin through large districts. What more complete dependence on foreigners could there be than this? But even for corn the present system made us dependent on foreigners. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side used somewhat contradictory arguments. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Pembroke, in the very able speech which he delivered on the subject last year, had been very eloquent in condemning dependence on foreigners, and in urging the calamitous consequences of such dependence in case of war, but before he had spoken a dozen sentences, the right hon. Baronet demanded how they could complain of the present system, when since the previous September, there had been imported no less than 2,500,000 quarters of corn. So that after all we were dependent on foreigners, and that at the most dangerous time—dependent on nations which were our rivals in trade, and only in times of scarcity. Another objection to the introduction of foreign corn was, that it must be paid for in bullion. That was the case with the present system, and it was one of its great evils; but with a regular trade in corn there would be no more necessity of paying bullion for corn than for any other imported commodity. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had expressed his intention of grappling with the argument in his speech, and he had said a great deal about it. But what did it amount to? Did he disprove the effect upon the bullion attributed to the Corn-laws by the highest authorities in this country? Not at all. But admitting the undeniable fact of the large exportation of bullion last autumn, he said, forsooth, that derangements of the currency might arise from other causes. Who denied that? Who expressed the slightest doubt that the currency might be deranged by other causes? But there was the greater necessity to prevent an additional cause of disturbance. There was one point more to which he wished to advert. He maintained that on any attempt to regulate the price of corn, the great object should be to operate in the first instance to check the tendency to rise at the first moment. The effect of the sliding scale was precisely the reverse. It prevented corn coming in at the moment when it could do good by preventing a rise. The corn was kept out until the rise had taken place, and then it was admitted in a flood causing a corresponding fall. There was one argument used on the other side which appeared to him to have more weight than any other. It was, that agriculture was entitled to protection, because protection was afforded to many branches of manufactures. With respect to the great staple manufactures, it appeared to him an absurdity to talk of their receiving protection in the home market, at the very moment when they were supplying the markets of foreign nations in spite of the protecting duties which those nations imposed. It was perfectly true, that for some articles of their manufacture there was a protection afforded. But did the manufacturers seek to maintain that protection? The main article of manufacture in the town of Derby, which he represented, was silk. It was there introduced two centuries ago, and had been continued and increased under a system of protection, But he could not, as the representative of that town, come to that House and ask for a repeal of the Corn-laws, if he was not able to say on the part of his constituents that in case the Corn-laws were repealed, so far from the people of Derby asking for protecting duties for silk, they would ask of that House that such protecting duties should be withdrawn. The petitions he presented last year and this year contained the same prayer; they prayed for the removal equally of all fiscal burdens and protections. He would be ashamed to defend the interests of those who were prepared to place one class of the community on a different footing from another. He had but one observation more to make. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, when this subject was last under discussion, had expressed their surprise that it should be again debated; and they added, that they thought that the majority of last year had settled the question. Were these Gentlemen so little acquainted with the nature of the question as to suppose, that either their arguments or their majority could put an end to it? Were they so ignorant of the state of public feeling, as not to know that it was only the commencement of a great struggle, which involved the most important principles—a struggle that he hoped would have an early termination, but that might be long protracted, and yet could only be terminated by the one result. If they were unsuccessful that night, they were determined to bring it on year after year, and session after session. They had two hundred Members to aid them—they were backed by a million and a half of petitioners, and amongst them were the most intelligent, active, as well as the greatest manufacturers and merchants in their towns, all bonded together, and all determined to resist oppression. Did hon. Gentlemen, then, suppose that with this question in this position they would abandon it. In his time he had seen many questions in a more hopeless position than that he now advocated. He had seen brought against them greater majorities than were now arrayed against them, and yet they had finally triumphed. Be it early, or be it late, the same result must also attend this question. He felt, then, great pleasure in seconding the motion.

Sir C. Burrell

said, that in rising to oppose the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he could only state that he did so entirely from a sense of duty, as he had been intrusted with a very great number of petitions from different classes and places, embracing a great seaport town, and comprehending interests of every description, and these petitions were without a single exception in favour of the existing Corn-laws. The hon. Mover, in this debate, was not, he perceived, in the House; but he thought it proper to state, that when he cheered an observation made by the hon. Member, it was not from any disrespect to his arguments, but because he considered him to be in error. He wished to know whether, in case the advocates of this measure obtained their point, they would give the artisan the same amount of wages which he now received? In his opinion, their object was to reduce the wages of labour to the price paid for labour to the artisan abroad; and if they did not mean that, their argument entirely failed. The hon. Gentleman had stated in his speech, that great distress had been felt owing to the operations of the Corn-laws, and that sickness had prevailed to a great extent in consequence of the poverty of the people, which had led to a falling-off in the population. In answer to that argument, he would advise the hon. Member to look at the last population returns, and he would find, that there had been an increase instead of a falling-off in the population. That argument also, therefore, fell to the ground. Sickness was an infliction of Providence, and it was well known that it was sometimes the case where there was no want of provisions. Let them look at the animal creation. There was, at this moment, an epidemy prevailing among cattle, and no man knew any remedy for it. Surely this did not arise from want of food. The hon. Seconder of the motion had spoken of the willingness of the manufacturer to relinquish protection, provided protection was given up by the agriculturist. Of course they would do so; for they could not with any face ask for the repeal of the Corn-laws, unless they were prepared to give up protecting duties themselves. As to the argument with respect to America which had been employed by the hon. Member, he wished to state, that it was not a very long time since America levied an import duty of twenty-five cents on wheat, seventeen cents on oats, 4½d per lb. on butter and cheese, and fifty per cent ad valorem on wool. Seeds also were taxed, and flour was charged 4d. per cask. It was clear, therefore, that the Americans might want protection for agriculture as much as we did. As one who was acquainted with farmers and farming, he had observed that great fluctuations had taken place during the last forty years, and he had remarked, that whenever the farmer was depressed, the whole internal trade of the country had been injured in the greatest degree. Many years back, when there was a great agitation against the Corn-laws, he was convinced that many of his constituents, who wished for the repeal, took a wrong view on the subject, but disregarding them, he voted against the repeal in accordance with his own convictions. Many of these very individuals were now satisfied that they had been mistaken, and were strongly in favour of the present system of Corn-laws. As to what had been said about wages, he would only say, that although the rate might vary occasionally in parishes, yet that the wages in Sussex were generally good. He had always felt it his duty to give his own labourers good wages; he paid them 12s. a-week, winter and summer, and he was no loser by it. He knew very well, that when a farmer treated his men in an unhandsome and unjust manner, he got but little work out of them, and he did not blame them for labouring little when they were ill-treated. He knew that the labourer was worthy of his hire. The hon. Gentleman who had seconded the motion had said, that if we established a free trade in corn with foreign countries, they would take our manufactures instead of our gold. He would merely mention as a fact, that last year nine vessels came to the port of Hull laden with corn from the continent. They discharged their cargoes, and received bullion in exchange, and of those nine vessels not one spent a single shilling in this country, and did not lay out even the price of a pot of beer. He was free to confess that difficulties had arisen in connexion with this question, with respect to the currency; but, as he did not wish to be called a currency doctor, he should not enter on that subject at the present moment. He thought, however, that he had said enough to show that if corn were introduced into this country ad libitum, our gold must go out. We were not situated as other countries were. There was a public creditor to be paid, and he thought that the public creditor was as much entitled to protection as any other class of the community. If, however, such sweeping changes as had been recommended should be carried into effect, the interest of the debt could not be paid. He hoped that there was too much honour in this country to adopt the advice of Mr. Cobbett, to apply the sponge, as that gentleman used to phrase it, to the national debt. The hon. Mover had thrown out a taunt against persons who were rich and idle. Now, if the rich were idle, it was so much the worse for themselves; but it was to be recollected, that if they were idle, it was owing to the industry of their ancestors. So far, however, as he knew them, the gentry of this country were willing to do good in their own parishes, and were not niggardly of their assistance to their poorer neighbours when they were in distress; and, therefore, he did not think that that taunt was deserved by the higher classes. If, however, we consented to a free trade in corn, it was quite clear that foreign nations would never consent to a free trade with this country. Prussia, for instance, had protecting duties of every description; and, therefore, he did not believe that those hon. Gentlemen were well-founded in their opinion who thought, that if we were willing to throw open our ports and permit a free trade in corn, the continental nations would be willing to deal with us on terms of reciprocity. Mr. Rothschild had once said to him, "Never give up protection to agriculture; if you do, depend on it the ruin of this country will be sealed, for upon the land of the country the credit of the country is in a great measure based, and from this comes the means of industry, and from its industry its wealth." This observation had made a great impression upon his mind, because Mr. Rothschild had no connexion with the landed interest; and the observation, therefore, was not prompted by selfish considerations. He demanded protection for; agriculture, because the land was, both indirectly and directly, heavily taxed. The Land-tax, the Poor-rate, the County-rate, and the Highway-rates, fell in the greater proportion upon the land. These were indirect taxes. The direct taxes were levied on hops and on malt. It was remarkable also, that the tax on tobacco was laid upon the land with the view to protect Virginia, which had long been lost to us, and a man was not, under the present state of the law, allowed to grow any tobacco, with the exception of a few plants, if he chose, in his garden, so that he might kill the vermin in his hothouse. He would not detain the House further. He had only done his duty in making these observations, and he was much obliged to the House for the patience with which they had listened to him.

Mr. Easthope

could assure hon. Members that he never felt so much his incompetency to express himself in that House, and in that way which would be deserving of its attention, as upon the present occasion; and if he did approach this question, he could assure hon. Members it was under the deep sense of its importance in relation to those whom he had the honour to represent. It was, then, a most painful sense of its importance which induced him to depart from that course, which was the most general course observed by him in that House. With respect to the speech that had been made by the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, he should have occasion but to trouble the House with a very few observations—and especially with regard to that advice which the hon. Baronet had so panegyrised as coming from that most eminent capitalist, Mr. Rothschild. He thought he could discover a little more of interest, and a little more of sagacity, than appeared to have occurred to the hon. Baronet, in that advice—that there was something not quite so generous, something not quite so disinterested, in what that Gentleman expressed in his deep feeling for the landed interest and the general interest of the country. Mr. Rothschild was a gentleman of most honourable character, but he was also most sagacious, and had a very keen perception of that which was for his advantage—he was most diligent and most active in whatever pursuit he was engaged, and he paid keen attention to the prosecution of that which might aid in increasing the large fortune he had amassed. Mr. Rothschild knew very well what might happen if those revulsions that he apprehended should take place, and what must be their consequence on their monetary system. He was a man whose perception was superior to that of most other men, and no man knew better than he did how to protect himself. No man could more acutely watch the progress of national changes—no man could more diligently mark the progress of national distress—no man could with keener sagacity see their results, and take advantage of that which he observed. He should not attempt any refutation of the political economy of the hon. Baronet, but it was surely important, so far as it affected the repeal of the present Corn-laws—if the hon. Baronet believed, and he was sure the hon. Baronet could not believe otherwise—that when the Corn-laws were repealed, it would be impossible to continue any artificial protection to any other interest. He admitted with the hon. Baronet, that there would be immense difficulty in keeping up protection on other articles if this protection on corn were once abolished—this "the great sin" in the shape of protection upon articles of production. There was an observation made by the hon. Baronet which was rendered very emphatic by his second reference to it—it was one on which he felt so strongly, that it was necessary for him to trouble the House with a few words respecting it. The hon. Baronet had cheered his hon. Friend, when he stated that the condition of the manufacturing population could not be worse than it was, and then the hon. Baronet explained that cheer by saying that the manufacturers sought for a repeal of the Corn-laws, in order that they might depress the wages of the artizan—that they might bring still lower the comforts of the operatives, by lowering the remuneration that they now received. ["Cheers from Sir Charles Burrell."] It was plain that the hon. Baronet's cheer had not been misunderstood, for he now avowed that he believed the manufacturing interest sought for a repeal of the Corn-laws, with a view of lowering the wages Of their men, and in that way of diminishing their comforts. He wished he could take the hon. Baronet to the town which he had the honour to represent, and he would there present to him from three to four thousand people, and ask the right hon. Baronet whether it were possible to increase their destitution? Whether it were possible to heighten their misery? Whether it would be possible to lower their wages? Whether it would be possible to placemen in a situation more deplorable—a situation in which they might almost be excused if they became desperate; because misery could not reach to a lower point of wretchedness. He saw sitting behind the hon. Baronet, an hon. Gentleman whose kindness and benevolence had frequently been taxed to relieve that misery, for which he had often felt, but could not then describe. These men said "We thank you for your kindness, we are thankful to you for your benevolence; we are indebted to you for that attention which has often kept us from starving. But that which we wish for most is work; we want to live by our labour, and not upon your alms; we wish to exist, not by means of your contributions, but upon the efforts of our own industry. Our complaint is, that, we are able and willing to work, but bad legislation prevents us from getting work. Enable us to do that, and then we shall thank you from the very bottom of our hearts." That was the condition of these wretched men. There were little less than 3,000 men in that town without work. These poor men had not 12s. a-week, as the hon. Baronet described his agricultural labourers to be receiving, but they were glad, when they had full work, to obtain 8s. a-week. The best artisan had not more than 12s. a-week, when he formerly used to earn 18s.; and the general class of artisans did not get more than 8s., when formerly they were paid 12s. This was a state of things, the cause of which they perfectly understood, although they might have no knowledge of political economy. What they learned on the subject they acquired from a knowledge of their own distress; they sought to know what were the causes which had produced such sad consequences to themselves. They inquired why it was that the trade which had formerly come to their town had now abandoned it. They went to their masters and asked why they had not work? And to this their masters answered, that they had no orders from America,—if they had orders from America, then they could give them work; but until those orders came, they could not employ them. The men then said, "How is that? Do the men of the United States less require the things that we manufacture than they did formerly?—are they less disposed to purchase them than formerly?" The master replied, "No; but they cannot pay for them." And then the men said, "How can this be?—the population is increasing; their wants must be increasing, and yet they cannot pay for our goods." And they add, "We want work, and we want bread—cheap bread: there is cheap bread in the United States—let us get the cheap bread from them, and then we can give them cheap manufactures. You say they have not money—we do not understand the state of the exchanges, but we do understand that bread is very cheap in the United States—we do understand that it is very dear in Leicester. Why not have bread from the United States—why not let us have from them what we want, and then they could pay for our manufactures?" These were the reflections that they made; and thus far they showed that they did understand this question. They did understand that, for the sake of a privileged few, the price of grain was enhanced; and they fully understood what were the consequences when they saw their miserable houses stripped of their last articles of furniture, which were sent to the pawn shops—they did understand it when they heard their children crying for bread, and when they saw their wives pining over their starving children until desperation at length succeeded to agony, and madness was followed by unutterable woe. This, too, was understood by them, that if some remedy were not afforded, if some redress were not applied, they would be released from all allegiance to the law—that law failing to prove its sovereignty, when it consigned a large portion of the community to starvation and death, in order that others might revel in luxury and enjoyments. They understood all this; and if it led to strong speeches—and if it led even to unlawful intentions; and if it produced disorders which might increase the existing misery—a state of things which every man must deplore, but which no man could wonder at, who would be surprised if disorder succeeded to discontent? That Chartism, with all its violence and all its absurdities, too, should take possession of the minds of starving men, was not to be wondered at. The crime of all this was to be laid at the door of those who were better taught and better instructed than those men; for it was misery that would lead them to commit crime, and, in committing it, they were but the instruments of others. He was sure that the House would pardon him, if, in contemplating this question, he had used expressions with respect to such a subject which others might feel he ought not to have used. Much had been said that night with respect to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. He confessed that he had heard that speech with anything rather than displeasure. He conceived that the right hon. Baronet in that speech, whatever might have been its eloquence, and whatever its policy, as bearing upon the position in which the right hon. Baronet was placed in that House, had still in that speech substantially given up the whole question. The right hon. Baronet had stated, that if the manufacturing interest of this country required the repeal of the Corn-laws, and if the existence of the Corn-laws were by their continuance to impoverish and destroy the manufacturing interest, then it was too great a price to pay for any protection for them. They heard the petitioners saying that was the case—they heard them declaring that there was a general decay of trade, and that the great manufacturers were already beginning to suffer; that those who were weak and struggling had already been driven to the greatest extent of distress, and it was now coming to others, who out of their own fortune were paying for the employment of the thousands who depended upon them for bread. He would describe to the Mouse a scene which he had witnessed when he last visited the place that he had the honour to represent. One of the largest manufacturers in the town of Leicester had described to him, in a familiar manner, the way in which he was situated, This Gentleman told him, that he believed he should be able to keep on till after Christmas, at a loss of a thousand pounds; and that, therefore, he was determined to discharge very few hands at present. This gentleman had made some very opportune and, judicious purchases, and was known as one of the most experienced and successful manufacturers in the country, and with these circumstances in his favour, he calculated that, with the loss of a thousand pounds, he should be able to keep on until the spring, "and then," added he, "if things do not improve, I must discharge my hands, and God knows what will become of them." He thought that this anecdote would throw some light upon the cause of that excess of our exports which had been so much talked about. This gentleman was manufacturing at a loss, keeping on his hands at a sacrifice, and of course manufacturing the greatest quantity he could with them, sending the product abroad at a loss, and the result naturally was an increase in our exports. He might be told that this was only an individual instance; but he was assured by a gentleman, whose statement he was bound to believe, that this was a state of things which prevailed to a very large extent throughout the manufacturing districts. This was a state of things which could not very long continue. The manufacturers could not, even if they would, go on manufacturing at a loss for ever; their capitals must one day come to end, and when they became ruined, the hands which they had struggled to keep on, must be thrown out of employ to starve. And was this a state of things which should be suffered to exist? And if so, for what purpose? He felt sure that some of the greatest authorities upon this subject would readily come to his aid and show that the landed interests were not benefitted by these restrictions to the extent which had been contemplated in their enactment. He believed that some of the highest authorities upon this subject were of opinion that the fears of the landed interest were exaggerated, and that they would not suffer by the relaxation of these laws to the extent which they apprehended. The landed interest might, perhaps, turn round upon this announcement, and ask if they were not to be injured to the extent they apprehended, how the manufacturing interests could be benefitted by the alteration of these duties? To this he would answer, that the manufacturing interests would be benefitted by it, because, though we should not get all, nor anything like the greater portion of our corn from foreign nations, we should take a considerable quantity from them, for which we should give in exchange our manufactured products, and thus a great advantage would result to the country, not only by the employment given to our manufactures, but our ships employed in the transit of both these articles of exchange. Let this be done, and instead of a poorer and daily more impoverished population, we should have an industrious population, increasing in prosperity and productiveness. The happy effect of this change would be at once felt and recognised by every interest in the country, for there was no fact better understood than that one interest could not be long depressed without all the rest being affected; and there was no blunder more mischievous and absurd than to suppose that this connexion could be weakened or got rid of, which existed and must exist between all the great interests of the same state. With respect to all the observations of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth on the subject of the currency, he felt that all those points had been so amply discussed by his hon. Friend who preceded him, that it might almost be considered impertinent and a waste of time for him now to enter upon the subject. He was sure, however, that the right hon. Baronet must have been well aware that although the currency had suffered derangement at various times from other causes; that although in 1835 it had been deranged by causes so obviously and generally known, and though in subsequent years it had been deranged by other causes than the importation of corn, and though bad banking had led to silly loan-making and speculation, which had brought about much suffering and distress, yet he was sure that the right hon. Baronet did not mean to say that the importation of corn was not one of the causes of these derangements. He was sure that the right hon. Baronet would acknowledge that the fact of corn coming into the country not in a steady and uniform manner, but in the sudden and capricious way in which it had on recent occasions, must be productive of very serious and dangerous consequences to the country. The right hon. Baronet in the speech which he delivered when this subject was last under discussion in this House, made it a ground of complaint, and of very grave complaint against the Members of her Majesty's Government, that they had not so considered this subject as to see the necessity of speaking one common language, and of coining down to the House agreed upon some one common purpose in regard to it. Upon this point he most cordially concurred with the right hon. Baronet. Feeling as he did, the importance of this subject, and its danger in relation to the vital interests of the country; feeling that the country might every day be overtaken by a greater degree of that distress and misery of which he complained, and at a time when it was quite unprepared to meet so dire a calamity; feeling that these restrictions did and must continue to produce increasing misery, and that this growing weight of misery must eventually be averted, either calmly by legislation, or by the vigorous efforts of some domestic convulsion—feeling, in fine, that no arguments, no fallacies, no delusions which might be indulged in here, would satisfy those who were suffering outside these walls—he deeply regretted that her Majesty's Government had not thought it necessary to comedown resolved and united upon some common sentiment and some course of policy in regard to this question. He also extremely lamented that the head of the Government had in another place used language which the right hon. Baronet had adverted to in contradistinction with that of the President of the Board of Trade in this House. The right hon. Baronet particularly adverted to the speech of Lord Melbourne, who was reported to have said, "Alter the Corn-laws if you please, but still foreign countries will not take more of your manufactures than they do at present." Who was there who understood this subject, and who had reflected upon it, and felt the injustice of the present restrictive laws, who did not deeply deplore that a man so enlightened and distinguished as Lord Melbourne was, and so generally right, should have made so great a mistake upon this important subject. It only showed when men were accustomed to old prejudices, how difficult it was to get clear of their influence. Now, he would ask, was there any Gentleman present who believed that foreign countries who could not now purchase our manufactures because they had not money to pay for them, if we took their corn and so afforded them the means of purchasing their various articles, would not gladly avail themselves of the opportunity of doing so? At present these people had nothing to give us in exchange for our manufactures, and were obliged to go without them. Open a market for some of their corn, and they would at once adopt the use of our manufactured articles. That Lord Melbourne should have made such a mistake upon this subject, and that her Majesty's Ministers should continue disunited in regard to it, were circumstances deeply to be deplored, and that calamities must ensue from such a state of things he greatly feared. But, what, he would ask, was the great secret and cause of this disunion on the part of her Majesty's Ministers, and why was there no speech uttered by them which held one common language? Her Majesty's Ministers knew that the lauded interest had so strong a party both in this and the other House of Parliament, and that the prejudice against relaxing these restrictions was so strong, that it would be impossible to carry any measure of the kind until some change took place, which did not exist at present, but which he was confident would one day exist, and which he hoped would not be accomplished by means of tumult, disorder, and anarchy. When men were excited upon any political subjects affecting their interests, it was natural to suppose that they would resort to rather energetic measures in support of their views, and if he were to hear that certain doubtful steps were taken for getting up petitions by parties who were almost starving, the object of which was to put an end to their sufferings, he should say it was excusable. He should not wonder at it; he should think it one of those incidents which must naturally occur. But when he found a party who were not suffering under privations and want, who were not reduced to extremity and bitten by distress, when he found people like these resorting to extraordinary expedients to get up petitions in support of their views, he thought it was worthy of a passing remark. Now, he held in his hand a letter from a gentleman, giving him some particulars of the way in which a petition from Leicestershire in support of the Corn-laws had been got up; and he had thought it right to show that letter to the hon. Gentleman who had presented that petition, and to give him the names of all the parties referred to, in order that the charge might be fully met. This letter stated, that a petition had been got up by the landowners of Leicestershire in support of the Corn-laws; amongst other places from Earl Shelton, a populous village in that county, and had been taken to the free school there, where six of the boys—[the hon. Gentleman read the names]—signed it. Four of these boys were entered as "farmers," the fifth as a "carpenter," and the last as a "grocer." So it appeared that boys at a free school were farming, carpentering, and dealing in groceries in the free school; these were the petitioners against the repeal of the Corn-laws—these were the authorities by which the House was to be led to suppose that the people of this part of the country were very happy and contented with their lot under the operation of these laws. He did not charge the hon. Member for Leicester- shire with any share in this transaction, nor was he disposed to lay more stress upon it than it deserved. They all knew that these sort of things did and would occur sometimes; but when they heard so much said about undue excitement and influence being used by the advocates on one side of this question, he must say, that it would be as well for such practices to be avoided by those who were so loud in their complaints. He would come now to the prayer of these petitioners. They referred to their continual fear, that the importation of foreign corn would reduce the price of British-grown corn to such a level as to destroy agriculture, and leave the country dependent upon foreign countries for a supply of food. Now, he would ask agricultural gentlemen at what period was agriculture most improved? He would ask them whether it was not when corn was cheapest; when, during a long time, it had become cheap in consequence of abundant harvests, that greater improvements were made in the art of agriculture than in any other period of our history? And from this fact he might fairly deduce that a fair competition with foreign countries, and the introduction of a moderate quantity of foreign corn, would increase rather than diminish the productiveness and agricultural skill of this country? Why, who now most desired the continuance of this artificial protection—the scientific agriculturists of Scotland, or the bad agriculturists of Buckinghamshire? The farmers of Scotland made no complaint; on the contrary, they said, "leave us to ourselves, we want no protection." [Hear.] The hon. Member for Lincoln appeared not quite to agree with his information, but he would beg of him to be as industrious upon this point as he was upon every other branch of the subject, and he was sure the hon. Gentleman would come to the same conclusion. In Scotland, there was a very strong and general opinion, that the apprehensions of the agriculturists of England upon this subject would not be equalled by the result. He, for one, would much rather take the opinion of the agriculturists of Scotland upon this point, than that of the farmers of Buckinghamshire. Some difficulties might exist in the way of any alteration of these laws; but he would ask, was the House prepared to incur the horrible risk of facing an increasing population, a popu- lation increasing in a ratio which it was fearful to contemplate, whilst the means of supplying them with employment and food remained the same? The population of this country was now increasing at the rate of about 400,000 a-year, and it became a question of deep and momentous import for Parliament to consider how all these people were to be employed, so as to ensure their own contentment and happiness, and the peace and advantage of the country at large. Eight shillings a week was now considered a prize in some manufacturing districts—a prize not within the reach of everyone—and he would ask, was this stipend enough to satisfy the wants of a poor man's family: and if not, by what means could he hope to obtain enough? It was a saying as old as the hills, that "if you will not let cheap corn come to the people, the people will go to the cheap corn;" and he was astonished to remark, that the petitioners in support of the Corn-laws did not see that by maintaining their rigorous enactments they were driving the manufacturers from their shores, and that consequently the amount of the productive labour of the country must decrease, whilst the increase of mouths to be fed was still going on. He would ask Gentlemen what would be the probable result of the vast increase of population now going on, and who were unemployed or partially employed? They might complain of Chartism, and denounce it—justly denounce its outrages and its follies; but he would ask the House, did they think that they had done with it, and that it would not revive in one form or another? Could severity keep discontent within bounds, when the poor man wanted food and labour, and could not obtain either? He believed that there might be an extent of suffering and calamity too strong for any legal restraints, and that when this point was reached a fearful conflict must result. In the petition which he had this evening presented, signed by 7,775 persons, the petitioners said that it was no use to call upon this House for a repeal of the Corn-laws; that the question had been got rid of in a very improper manner on the last occasion it was before them, and that there was no hope of a better result for the future; the petitioners then went on to say, that they had been disappointed in the operation of the Reform Act, and that there was nothing left for them but to reform that measure. Now to him this sounded a very grave and fearful announcement. They had here a large number of men, who said to this House, "we have no longer any confidence in your looking into our grievances and distresses." And these were not persons anxious for social troubles, or likely to trifle with social order and encourage trouble and misrule; on the contrary, there were persons amongst them who dreaded confusion and everything calculated to lead to it. These gentlemen implored the House to consider this great question, and deal with it with justice, before the time came when consideration would no longer be called for by a starving people, who, after long neglect and patient suffering, would be desperately driven to redress themselves.

Mr. G. Heathcote

had always been an advocate for agriculture and everything connected with it, and though he felt that the question had been sufficiently debated, he wished to make a few observations on the subject. He was pleased at the temperate manner in which the question had been hitherto discussed in that House, forming such a contrast to the violent and offensive manner in which the discussion was carried on out of doors—a manner which did the cause of those who employed it little good, and the adverse one little harm. In reference to the different propositions which had been offered, he must oppose them. As to the proposition of the hon. Member for Cambridge, he felt it his duty to give it his opposition. In reference to the proposal of a fixed duty, which had been so temperately and so ably made by an hon. Member, he was of opinion that the present system was preferable: a fixed duty was always either too high or too low. In regard to the proposal of the hon. Member for Taunton, it would be a low duty when the price of corn was low, and no duty when corn was high, and comprised the evils of other systems without their benefits. If there was a fault in the present Corn-law, it was that after the price reached 70s. the duty fell too quickly. He assured the House, that in the part of the country he represented but one feeling prevailed amongst high and low, rich and poor, landlord and tenant. At many of the meetings, the tenants taunted their landlords that they did not come forward sufficiently, but left the battle to be fought by the tenants. Even tradesmen in small towns partook of the same feeling. A labourer gave this sensible answer to a person who wished him to petition against the Corn-law—"If you abolish the Corn-law, I shall get 1s. 6d. a-day instead of 2s. 6d." Upon these grounds, the agricultural interest were determined to stand by the present law, and they would not hear of surrender or compromise; because they thought the corn-laws founded on reason and justice, and that, therefore, they would last, being based upon the opinion of the great majority of the constituency of the empire. They claimed no exclusive protection, as the manufacturers did. The proposition of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton ought to be for the abolition, not of the Corn-laws alone, but of all protection of other trades. Every class of the productive industry of the country had relief but corn; the agriculturists were the only class excluded. He found almost every other branch of British industry protected. Wool had a protection of only 1d. or ½d. a pound; but woollens had a much larger protection. With respect to linen, on the east coast of Scotland there was a strong feeling against the Corn-laws; now, within the last ten years the linen manufacture had enjoyed a bounty, and in 1829, no less than 300,000l. had been paid as bounty to the linen manufacturers. It appeared to him, that the present question had at all limes been argued as if the protection was on the side of the corn growers, and that none whatever had been enjoyed by the manufacturers; but it was well known that many classes of manufacturers enjoyed protection, and that many more desired a further fortification of their monopoly by additional duties upon foreign imports. Not long since, petitions had been presented praying for a repeal of the Corn-laws, and at the same time demanding a protective duty upon silk. Then they had frequently heard complaints from parties connected with the shipping interest. Now, upon that point he must be permitted to say, that there was no class more fully protected than were the shipowners; they were protected by the navigation laws, they enjoyed the colonial trade, the coasting trade, and many other advantages. It should be recollected that the manufacturing and the shipping interests enjoyed almost complete monopolies, the one in clothing the people, the other in the carrying trade. He contended, then, that each class should be content with the advantages that each possessed, for it amounted to monopoly as much in the one case as in the other. Men should take the beams out of their own eyes, before they presumed to remove the motes from those of their brethren. Hon. Members had sometimes said, that they wished to bring the present question to an issue. He also desired to bring it to an issue. Let the whole question of free trade be gone into. Let there be a free trade in all things, and not in corn alone. Let that proposition be discussed and voted on just before a general election, and then let Gentlemen candidates—Members no longer—go down to their former constituencies, and try what sort of reception they would get. It must be recollected by all who heard him, that the present question had always been argued as if it was one which mainly affected the aristocracy. He had even heard it said, that the whole of the proprietors of land in the kingdom did not amount in number to 30,000 persons. He believed that there was no one possessing the least knowledge upon the subject who would not bear him out in the assertion that the landed proprietors of the United Kingdom amounted to hundreds and hundreds of thousands. He was further enabled to say, and to state the fact with confidence, that the smaller proprietors were more united in their opposition to repeal of the Corn-laws than the aristocracy. Amongst the aristocracy there were several crotcheteers who entertained very unsound opinions upon the subject, but the smaller proprietors were united as one man in their support of the existing system. He had the honour to represent a great body of small proprietors, and he felt assured that his opinions with respect to the corn-laws precisely coincided with theirs; he was sure that he spoke their sentiments and the feelings likewise of the great bulk of the landowners, when he said, that the question ought to be argued upon the basis of an universal free trade; to bring it forward upon any other ground was to blink the question, and not to argue it fairly. The supporters of the present system had always been told that the proper way to meet the evils complained of was, by lowering the rents; they had been told by some, that this was the only mode of dealing with the question. Surely the manufacturers ought to reflect upon the probable consequence of extending this doctrine to themselves. They must be aware that the change which they sought could not fail to depress the wages of the agricultural labourer, and therefore to lower that of the manufacturer and the artisan; but he hoped the time would never arrive when this country would enter into a competition of low wages with the working people of the continent. Let the manufacturers of this country compete with their continental rivals in all that capital, manufacturing habits, and experience could accomplish, but he must deprecate any attempt to benefit the-master manufacturer by lowering the wages of the men. He desired to ask those who so earnestly wished the importation of foreign corn, whether they were quite sure that when we agreed to take the corn of the continent, our neighbours would thereupon agree to give up their own manufactures and use ours instead. Of this no man who looked fairly at the question, could doubt that the cheapest and the surest loaf which we could have was that which we produced ourselves. Much had often been said in discussions on the Corn-laws with reference to the food of the working classes. That afforded anything rather than an argument against the existing system. Fifty years ago the food of the working classes was the blackest bread; it was now composed of the finest wheaten flour, and though they sometimes used potatoes, it was as an addition to their ordinary food, and net as a substitute; besides which, their clothing and fuel had of late years become much cheaper than heretofore, and they were in all respects better off than they had ever been; hence it proved easy at all times and in all parts of the country, to obtain signatures to petitions in favour of the Corn-laws. Finally, it was his opinion that there would be much more emigration were it not for the Corn-laws, that on the average of years the corn produced in this country was sufficient for the use of the people, and that upon the whole no change was likely to be productive of beneficial results.

Mr. Packe

was opposed to the motion, but rose principally for the purpose of saying that the hon. Member opposite was in error with respect to the petitions which he had presented upon this subject. Amongst thousands of signatures there were only six names of persons under the age of twenty- one, and they were not little boys, as had been stated, but well grown boys, the sons of respectable farmers. He denied altogether that anything at all approaching to coercion had been practised.

Sir Henry Parnell

said, the hon. Member for Lincolnshire had placed the question on very fair grounds, by stating his readiness to agree to the removal of all protection to agriculture, if all protections were taken off trade and manufactures; but if it depended upon the readiness of the manufacturers to consent to give up the various duties by which it was supposed they were benefitted, the advocates of the Corn-laws would be very soon called on to fulfil the condition the hon. Member had suggested—namely, to give up the Corn-laws. But the hon. Member had made a very erroneous statement when he said that the manufacturing interest had not come forward with any specific proposition to have the protection of manufactures removed, for there was no class of manufacturers that had not in the course of this or preceding years presented petitions to this House, or memorials to the Board of Trade, expressing a desire to have all grounds of foreign commercial jealousy removed, by repealing all protecting duties. On this point he could speak with certainty, with regard to the manufacturers and merchants of Dundee, for he had presented several petitions and memorials declaring their readiness to agree to the principles of free trade being generally acted upon. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire had referred to the high duties on foreign linens, to illustrate the right the agriculturists had to similar protection; but he could say, that his constituents, who carried on the linen manufacture more extensively than any other manufacturers, placed no value on these high duties, and were ready to consent to their being taken off. So, with regard to the old linen bounties, the greater part of these were received by the merchants of Dundee; but there was no point on which so much unanimity prevailed as with regard to the benefit the linen trade had derived from the repeal of these bounties. In addressing the House upon the motion immediately before it, he would call upon those hon. Members who were so strenuous in supporting the Corn-laws to look more accurately into the facts of the case. Those hon. Members were satisfied in going on repeating arguments which might have had some foundation when the Corn-law of 1815 was passed, without at all considering how great a change had taken place in all the main circumstances connected with the production of corn in this country. It was in this way that the assertion was still made, that low prices of corn would throw an immense quantity of land out of cultivation, and that this would be followed by the ruin of farmers, by depriving agricultural labourers of employment, by diminishing the demand for manufactures and for manufacturing labour, and by rendering the revenue insufficient for the payment of the dividends; but the experience of the working of the Corn-laws, proves that this assertion is wholly unfounded. For some years after the law of 1815 was passed, it was admitted by the opponents of it, that land would be thrown out of cultivation, unless high prices were sustained, and it was said by persons of high authority, that no inferior land would be cultivated, in consequence of the large amount of capital and labour which was required to render it productive, without high prices; and, had there been no Corn-laws for some years after 1815, this would have been the case; for it appears, on looking at the prices of corn, that, for seven years, from 1815 to 1822, the average price of wheat was 75s.; and for ten years, from 1822 to 1832, that the average price was 60s.; and therefore, to have opened the ports to foreign corn would necessarily have thrown land out of cultivation; but, since 1831 the case has been different; for, from that year, during six successive years, the average price of wheat was 50s., and for the years 1834, 1835, and 1836, no more than 44s. 8d. Now, with these low prices, sufficient was grown for our own consumption, no more than 380,000 quarters of foreign corn having been imported in these six years; and, as the population had increased nearly five millions between 1815 and 1838, the fact was placed beyond all doubt, that the cultivation of land had been immensely increased during this period of so low a price as 44s. 8d. The most abundant harvest ever known was that of the last of the six years—namely, 1837; and the proper conclusion to come to from these facts was, that, if the admission of foreign corn were to have the effect of keeping down the price of wheat to 45s., land would not be thrown out of cultivation, and none of those ruinous consequences would follow with regard to farmers, labourers, manufacturers, and the revenue, which are so confidently predicted as unavoidable, if the price of wheat was below 60s. a-quarter. On referring to the produce of corn in different years, and to the prices of it, it would be found that the largest quantities of wheat sold were in the three years of 1834, 1835,1836, when the average price was 44s. 8d.; but, during that period, the country never exhibited a greater extent nor higher degree of cultivation; and it was perfectly fair to presume that, at a price of about 45s. there would be no reason to apprehend that much, if any, land would be thrown out of cultivation. As to the effect of repealing the Corn-laws on the labouring classes, all that was urged by the advocates of them was entirely erroneous: they say it would lower the wages of labour; but if they at all comprehended the grounds on which wages were regulated, and examined the principles on which the persons who want to employ labour, and the persons who wish to have their labour employed deal together, they would find that wages do not follow a rise or fall in the prices of provisions, except at long intervals, and that all experience proves that the labouring class continue to receive as high wages, when the prices of provisions fall, as before, or even higher; because this class has the means of coming into the market for various articles of comfort and luxury from which they are excluded when provisions are dear; and in this way millions of consumers are added to the usual number, and a fresh demand for labour created, which leads to an advance in wages when the prices of provisions are low. Instead, therefore, of the Corn-laws being of advantage to the labouring classes, as the opponents of the repeal of them say they are, they are in reality the cause of the distress this class suffers under, and the cause of lowering wages instead of upholding them. With regard to the argument which is so much relied on by the advocates of the Corn-laws, that the repeal of them would diminish the demand for manufactures, and for manufacturing labour, this rests wholly upon the assumption, that great tracts of land would be thrown out of cultivation, and that all landlords, farmers, and agricultural labourers, would have their means of buying manufactures greatly reduced. But, as this assumption has been shown to be entirely devoid of foundation, these consequences could not take place, nor could they take place with an increased cultivation of land and low prices; for it can be shown by reference to the prices of the six years, from 1831 to 1838, when the price of wheat was 50s., and of the years 1834, 1835, and 1836, when the price was 44s. 8d., that at the close of these six years—namely, the year 1838—the commercial, manufacturing, and mining interests, enjoyed a state of undoubted and substantial prosperity; that the employment was general of the working classes at full wages; and also, that the revenue was greatly increased. These circumstances, therefore, furnish a decisive contradiction of the often-repeated, but perfectly unfounded, assertion, put forth by the parties interested in the corn monopoly, that high prices of agricultural produce tend to increased demand for other productions, and to extended employment and higher wages to the working population. He had the authority of Mr. Tooke to sustain the correctness of these statements; and he could not suppose that this authority would be held to be of little value, after the frequent reference to Mr. Tooke's opinions, which had been made by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, in his speech on the late debate on the Corn-laws, when those opinions seemed to favour the views of the right hon. Baronet in respect to our general commercial affairs. There was another point—one on which the advocates of the Corn-laws, in truth, built their whole case—and that was the opinion which they entertained, as if it was one that could not be erroneous, that foreign corn would be imported in vast quantities, and bring down prices, if the restraints on importing it were taken off; but, he believed, that if they would make themselves acquainted with the true state of the case, they would, like him, see that no such vast importations could take place. This, however, was a part of the question which they never would discuss. He had last year quoted the prices of corn in the various foreign ports of exportation, and shown that it could not be imported into this country with profit, if the prices were below 45s. for wheat; but, though no attempt was made to show that his statements were inaccurate, no kind of attention was then or is now given to the consideration of the subject; and the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, in the late debate, said, it was a mockery to state that foreign corn would not be imported, if the Corn-laws were altered. But, if the fact was, that, taking the prices of corn abroad, the charges for transporting it, and the quality of it, into consideration, it could not be imported for less than 45s. for wheat—and if it was also a fact, that in this country the price of wheat was in 1834, 1835, and 1836, no more than 44s. 8d. a-quarter, without any foreign corn being in the market, and without rents being reduced, or any other predicted evil occurring, then it was no mockery to say, that the apprehensions of the advocates of the Corn-laws, regarding the consequences of a repeal of them were quite unfounded. But, even if the price at which foreign corn could be imported were less than 45s. for wheat—suppose 40s.—it did not, by any means, follow that rents would be necessarily reduced. The error commonly made on this point was, that rents are considered to be regulated only by the prices of the produce of land; but, if that were the case, the rent of all countries would be the same where the prices were the same. This, however, is not so, for it is well known that rent is higher in Scotland than in England, although the price of corn is lower in Scotland than in England, a fact proved by Scotland exporting corn to England, the truth is, that rent depends not only on prices, but on the manner in which land is farmed, and it is the superior husbandry of Scotland that produces the higher rate of rent. For these reasons, the present rate of rent now paid in England might be sustained if the admission of foreign corn should reduce the price of wheat to 40s., by the landlords and farmers introducing the Scottish system of husbandry, for there could be no doubt that every improvement which adds to the acreable produce of land adds to the rent that can be paid for it. The practice of draining, green crops, new manures, improved skill, and economy, these and many other improvements, all tend to increase permanently the acreable produce of land, and to enable farmers to pay more rent; so that, provided sufficient time were allowed in changing the present system of Corn-laws to a system of free-trade, for those improvements in farming to be introduced into England, which the present state of its husbandry admitted of, there was no reason why the present rents might not be paid with a price of 40s. for wheat. Such, in point of fact, is the inferior state of husbandry in England, that there can be no doubt the rents might, with proper forming, be increased from twenty to twenty-five per cent.; and in Ireland, where the system of farming is a vast deal worse, rents might be increased by an improved system from thirty to forty per cent.—that is to say, the rents paid to the landlords in fee, not to those persons who are commonly called landlords, but who are only middle-men, and who certainly exact excessive rents. It had been said, in the course of the late debate, that Ireland would be more exposed to suffer from an alteration of the Corn-laws in England; but this resource which the landlords have of adding to the value of their estates by the introduction of a proper system of farming instead of the present one—without drainage, sufficient manure, or even the practice of sowing turnips and clover—makes it clear that Ireland would only suffer from her own negligence. He was prepared to go more fully into the question by referring to various other points; but the discussion had now been so extended, that he would not farther trespass on the time of the House—he would only call on those landlords who so strenuously supported the Corn-laws, to make themselves accurately acquainted with the facts of the case; for, if they would, he believed that many of them would change their opinions and come round to the same opinions that he had formed, for he had the same personal interest in the decision of the question that they had; he depended on rent as well as they, and he was just as anxious to prevent his rents from being reduced as they could be; but, after having most carefully examined what the consequences would be of a total repeal of the Corn-laws, he felt quite convinced that neither he nor any other landlord would be at all injured by the change, provided it were made gradually; and, therefore, he should vote most willingly for the motion of the honourable Member for Wolverhampton.

Mr. Baillie

was fully aware that this subject had been so ably treated by hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House upon a former occasion, that it would be quite impossible to bring any new arguments to bear upon it; yet, representing as he did a large agricultural community deeply interested in this question, he trusted he might be permitted to make a few observations to the House. This could now be regarded in no other light than as a political and a party question, and hon. Gentlemen opposite had begun to find out that they could no longer agitate the country so successfully as formerly upon the subject of reform, for it had been clearly proved to the people that the ancient system of jobbing, abuse of patronage and of the public money, which was said to have existed in former Tory Administrations, was just as rife and just as much practised in a modern reformed Whig Government. They perceived, also, that the only effect of the Reform Bill had been to throw political power more into the hands of the middle classes, who had used it for their own advantage by forcing upon the Government the reduction of those taxes which pressed peculiarly upon themselves, such, for instance, as the House-tax, and the Post-office tax, whilst fresh burdens must be placed upon the great body of the people, to make up the deficiency in the revenue caused by the reduction of the taxes to which he had alluded. Reform, then, being no longer a fruitful subject of agitation, the hon. Gentlemen opposite had taken up the Corn-laws. That, indeed, was a question which came home to the breast of every poor man throughout the country. It was a question most deeply interesting to the people, more interesting than any other which by any possibility could be brought under the consideration of the House, and therefore it was that her Majesty's Government ought to have some opinion upon the subject, and that of all others ought not to have been made an open question. There must, indeed, be a great amount of good sense as well as of sound instruction amongst the great body of the labouring classes in this country, or they would have allowed themselves to be seduced and led astray by all the inflammable appeals which had been made to them by paid agitators upon this subject; and it was indeed surprising, considering all the errors which had been so industriously circulated amongst them, that they had not been induced to rise in every part of the country in order to attempt, by a display of physical force, to abolish those laws which they were daily taught to believe were contrary to the laws of God, and invented for no other purpose and with no other object than that of robbing the poor in order that the rich might revel in luxury. And yet to such appeals as these her Majesty's Ministers had condescended to lend their countenance; and, as if the subject were not already sufficiently calculated to create excitement amongst the ignorant and uneducated, they had thought it necessary to endeavour to connect it with religion, and a Cabinet Minister had gravely told that House that he could not with a clear conscience offer up a prayer for his daily bread, unless he voted in favour of the motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton. So then, it appeared that the object of making this an open question was to enable the Members of the Government to use violent language, and to agitate amongst their constituents in their individual capacity, without thereby raising any bar to their continuance in office under a chief who had declared himself decidedly and diametrically opposed to their views; in short, to give the government all the advantage of the agitation, without the responsibility of bringing forward any measure upon the subject. Now, he appealed to those hon. Gentlemen opposite who represented large agricultural constituencies, and who believed, as many of them conscientiously did, that the maintenance of the Corn-laws was best calculated to promote the interests of their constituents, as well as of the country at large, and he would ask them how they could continue to support a Government, with due regard to the interests of their constituents, which was acting so unworthy a part upon a question of such great and paramount importance? He trusted, however, that the people were now sufficiently aware that the abolition of the Corn-laws would produce no great or permanent relief to the labouring classes; that so long as corn formed the staple article of the food of the country, it must regulate the rise and fall of wages; that the immediate effect of abolishing the Corn-laws would be to throw out of employment a great portion of our agricultural population, together with the capital now employed in the cultivation of poor lands. Even if an impulse were given to our manufactures, would that impulse be sufficient to employ all the capital withdrawn from the land, or to occupy the hands that would be thrown out of employment? The great amount of misery which might be created amongst certain classes of the people by sudden changes and alterations in our fiscal regulations, were not sufficiently considered, and he would therefore state what had actually occurred with reference to this subject in the district which he had the honour to represent. It was well known to the House that in consequence of the reduction of duty on barilla and other causes, for which no blame could attach to Government, the manufacture of kelp in the western highlands had been annihilated, the consequence of which was that 6,000 people had been thrown out of employment and left entirely destitute. Now a political economist would naturally suppose, that, with Glasgow and Liverpool at no great distance, these poor people had shipped themselves off for those cities, and were now employed in manufactures. Such, however, was not the case; years had passed away—to these poor people years of famine, of misery, and of wretchedness; yet still, in spite of all privations, they clung to their highland homes, and he knew one great landed proprietor, who had been accustomed for some years to manufacture annually 700hhds. or 800hhds. of kelp, at a cost to himself of 55s. a hogshead, and which he could only sell in the market at 42s., thus losing 13s. a hogshead; and he had been induced to continue this ruinous trade from no other motive and with no other object than to save from actual starvation some thousands of poor wretches who were living upon his estate. Now, if such an amount of misery had been created by the alterations of fiscal regulation upon an article of such trifling comparative importance as that of kelp, what might we not expect, if alterations were to be made in the duty which regulated the greatest article of consumption in the country, the food of the people? Were the landlords of England prepared to follow the example of the noble individual to whom he had alluded, to raise corn at a cost of 55s. a quarter, and to sell it at 42s., to save the labourers on their estates from starvation? It must be borne in mind that the great population of the western highlands was created by the encouragement which was at one time given to the kelp manufacture, and so in like manner our great agricultural population had arisen in consequence of the encou- ragement and protection which had been afforded to the growth of corn, and if we withdrew that protection, the same consequences which had followed in the one case must follow in the other; the difference was, that it would be upon a grander and more extensive scale. That cheap corn in a country was not always and of necessity a proof of the prosperity and thriving condition of a people, he could himself bear witness. He had remarked in those countries of Europe where corn was cheapest, he meant in parts of Poland and of Hungary, that there the people were invariably the most miserable and the most wretched, and that everywhere the comfort of the people seemed to rise in those countries where the average price of corn was the highest. He did not mean to draw any inference from this or to build any theory upon it; he stated what he had witnessed as a fact, and he might perhaps be permitted to observe, that if it proved nothing else, he might at least infer from it, that cheap food was not the greatest blessing that could be conferred upon a people, unless it was accompanied by high wages, which was impossible. It was a melancholy fact that in all highly populous countries the great body of the people would only be able to obtain wages barely to procure themselves the necessaries of life, and that no laws that could be devised, and no alterations or changes in our fiscal regulations, would permanently alter that condition. It was one of the greatest defects of modern civilization—of the boasted civilization of the present day, that it had no tendency to increase the happiness or to lighten the toils of the great body of the people; on the contrary, as yet it had increased them, and this remark, it appeared, was equally applicable to America as to England; and a great living author in that country, the celebrated Dr. Channing, had remarked this as one of the greatest defects in what he called the progress of society. Dr. Channing said, it never could have been the intention of the Creator that the whole of life should be spent in drudgery for the supply of animal wants, and that civilization must appear very imperfect in which the mass of men' could redeem no time for intellectual, social, and moral culture: he went on to say, that it was melancholy to witness the degradation of multitudes to the condition of beasts of burden. Who would deny that this description was pe- culiarly applicable to the condition of the people in our own country? He might be told that it was the effect of the Corn-laws, but it must be remembered that these observations were addressed, not to England, but to America—to a country where they had no Corn-laws, no superabundant population, and where they enjoyed the blessings of universal suffrage and the ballot. How the state of society could be so changed as to prevent the excessive pressure which weighed down our labouring population was undoubtedly a difficult question; but of this he felt convinced, that no change in the duties which regulated the import of corn would be calculated to produce any such results. You might divert the flow of capital, and the stream of industry from agriculture to manufactures by your fiscal regulations, but even could you succeed in raising for a short time the profits of trade and the wages of labour, they would soon be reduced again by competition to their original level; indeed, it was upon the theory of low and reduced wages that all the calculations for the great extension of manufactures were based. It was not the foreign but the English capitalist who reduced by competition the profits of the manufacturer, and in like manner it was the great amount of our population which reduced the wages of the labourer. Believing that neither class would be permanently benefited by the alteration of those laws, but that, on the contrary, a great amount of misery would be created in our rural districts amongst the agricultural population, he should vote agains the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton.

Mr. James

observed, that after the numerous pamphlets that had been published, and the array of speeches that had been made upon the subject of the Corn-laws, it was not easy to say any thing new. He had heard nothing new that evening, and he should certainly make no attempt to advance any thing that should be novel. He should not have risen at all, had he not felt it necessary to make some explanation of the vote he intended to give in favour of the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. While he gave that vote, he was anxious to guard himself against being thought to adopt the whole of the hon. Mover's opinions, and being supposed to give a vote in favour of the total, imme- diate, and unqualified repeal, or rather abolition of the Corn-law, which he considered tantamount to giving a vote in favour of the immediate and total injury and ruin of a vast number of persons. He meant all those who had the misfortune of possessing land incapable of growing any thing but corn. He was willing to go into committee for the purpose of considering, whether any and what alterations and improvements could be made in the existing system. He believed the Corn-law to be capable of such improvement as should be beneficial to all classes, and injurious to none. His own prepossession was at present in favour of the admission of foreign corn at all times at a moderate fixed duty, considering the present fluctuating scale to be mischievous, except to a few speculators. He believed that no steady merchant would engage in the foreign corn trade under the present system. With respect to the motion of the hon. Member for Cambridge, he did not think it the best alteration that could be made in the law. Under these circumstances, he should vote in favour of the original motion, at the same time protesting against the inexpediency, impolicy, and injustice of doing away with all corn-laws, and thus depriving the landed interest of all that protection to which he considered they were fairly, justly, and honestly entitled.

Viscount Sandon

agreed with some of the opinions expressed by the hon. Member who had just sat down, but could not arrive at the same conclusion as the hon. Member. He could not conceive, that the act of going into committee upon an occasion like the present, under the guidance of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and with the expression of opinion that had fallen from the great majority of the hon. Members who had supported him, and without the assistance of some leading Member or some great party, would be fair, just, and honest towards the great interests at stake. He must admit, that it would be easier for him to vote for going into committee than against it. He should certainly have the support on that point of the larger part of his constituents. Therefore, it was not personally agreeable to him to take the course he was about to take; but as he still conceived, that the existing principle of protection ought to be continued to the agricultural interest, he was determined to follow the course he had hitherto pursued, notwithstanding any misunderstanding that might arise. He was quite prepared to say with some hon. Gentlemen, that he did not think the present law perfect in detail—that he did not think the sliding scale well adapted for its purpose, and he should be glad to see a leader of a great party in that House come forward with a distinct and definite proposition, stating to what extent an alteration was to go. He considered the proposal made by Mr. Canning and Mr. Huskisson, was better than any he had heard. With respect to the general principle of protection, which he thought was the question at issue before the House, his opinion was that the landed interest of the country was fully entitled to protection. They were told that the present system exposed the monetary system of the country to great derangement, by the extraordinary drains upon the bullion when the foreign corn was brought in. He could not think that a change of principle would effect any difference whatever in that respect. Suppose a change were to be made so as to import 3,000,000 quarters of foreign corn annually; that quantity, he apprehended, could not be paid for in manufactures. Then the country would be still exposed to the fluctuations of the seasons, and occasions would arise when it would require as much more of the foreign grain; for instance, suppose in one year we were to import 3,000,000 of foreign grain, and pay for it in bullion, we should still in a year of extraordinary deficiency have to import 3,000,000 extra, which we should also have to pay for in bullion. Therefore, he could not see that a change in the Corn-law would affect that principle. They were also constantly told of the misery, starvation, and destitution that prevailed thoughout the country in consequence of the Corn-law. They were told that the peasantry derived no advantage from it. Now, he had some impression that during the investigation which preceded the new Poor-law, an inquiry was instituted into the condition of paupers in other countries, and the system established for the relief of the poor, which was afterwards condensed by a gentleman of great ability, Mr. Senior, one who was no great friend to the landed interest, and the result was to the following effect. He had not alluded to one notorious fact—namely, that the standard of health and longevity in this country was superior to that of any other country on the globe. Mr. Senior's summary came to this conclusion, that upon comparing the statements of mortality in France, Germany, Belgium, and England, the result was in favour of England—that in the article of money wages English labourers had greatly the advantage—it might be said nearly double; and as clothing and fuel were cheaper the benefit was proportionate. Also by a comparison of foreign returns with those made in England, it appeared, that in 491 parishes out of 687, wheat was not the exception but the rule, as an article of food; whilst in the north of Europe and in Belgium the diet was greatly inferior. The statement of Mr. Senior, then, proved the condition of the English labourer in every respect to be superior to that of the labourer on the continent. They were also told that the competition in which the British manufacturer was engaged compelled him to work for a greater number of hours, and to exact a greater amount of labour from his workmen than the foreign manufacturer. If Gentlemen would refer to the statements made by the great manufacturers, at the time they were contending against the limitation of the hours of labour, as to the want of control over foreign labour, they would find, he thought, assertions very different from those now made, and that the foreign labourer works a greater number of hours. There was no doubt that at the present moment it might be convenient if a particular exception in favour of America could be made, and that we might derive some temporary advantages from such an arrangement. But hon. Gentlemen must remember that we could not deal with one nation upon a principle we do not apply to another, and if we were to open the door to America, we must do the same to other countries, and we should then have foreign corn thrown in upon us without limitation, and a great amount of agricultural distress would be created. The manufacturer would then see whether he would not lose more in the home market than he would gain in the foreign. He had been much surprised at the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Paymaster of the Forces. The right hon. Baronet had drawn so delightful a picture of the existing Corn-laws and their effects, that he had been indeed amazed when he heard him conclude his speech to the House by a declaration, that he was of opinion that the system must be altered. The right hon. Baronet said, that there was no reason to be apprehensive of any mischievous results from the introduction of foreign corn; but if that were the case—if such small effects were to be produced, where were the advantages, he begged to inquire, which were to be effected by the alteration of the law? For his own part, however, he considered that great and important changes would be the effect of any alteration in the existing law, and he was not prepared to embark in what was merely an experiment, convinced, as he was, that it was an experiment of a very important description, and one which was unlikely to be attended by any favourable results.

Mr. Warburton

would vote for going into Committee, because he believed that to be an intermediate step, which was absolutely requisite before the measure of repeal was adopted. He found, too, that such had been the opinion of Mr. Huskisson. That lamented gentleman only a few weeks before his death, declared, that he believed that the first step towards the total repeal of the Corn-laws would be the adoption of a moderate fixed duty, and that that would lead at no very distant period to the adoption of the measure of their total repeal, and convinced as he was of the truth of this argument, he at once declared his intention to vote in favour of the motion. Rather than have no change at all, he should vote for a fixed duty, although he must say that he had rather record that vote, in favour of a total abolition of the tax. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, had said upon a former occasion, that no one had ever contended that the currency was affected exclusively by the sudden demand for corn. There could be no doubt that no such circumstance could produce such an effect alone. The right hon. Baronet had referred to the authority of Mr. Jones Lloyd upon this subject, and to the arguments used by him in refutation of those employed at the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester. Referring to the same authority, he found that Mr. Jones Lloyd had accounted for the effect produced upon the currency in 1839 by these means. He said, that there appeared to him to be every reasonable ground for believing that the cur- rency was in a sound state previous to the harvest of 1838, and that it would have continued so, if that harvest had been sufficient for the purposes of this country, without our obtaining foreign supplies. The effect of the failure of the harvest, however, was to require a large importation of corn. A corresponding increase of exports could not be expected to take place with the same rapidity, and, therefore, the export of bullion became requisite. It was too much to say, that there were no other causes which affected the exchange; but there could be no doubt that this was the predominant cause, and that this export had deranged the condition of the circulation, which was otherwise good. So also, he admitted, that the state of the corn trade was the cause of the effect upon the state of the currency; but he did not say, that it was the only cause, although it was one which had been extremely powerful. The right hon. Baronet, as a member of the Government, had used the same argument in the year 1827, and he thought that little doubt could exist of its strict propriety. The right hon. Baronet said, One of his reasons for wishing to see an alteration in the present system of our Corn-laws was, that the continuance of it would endanger the currency. There had been such an alteration in the currency since the Corn-laws were first introduced, that it was quite impossible to impute inconsistency to any man who, in 1827, condemned the continuance of the measure which he had supported in 1815. The Bank of England having returned to cash payments, and being obliged to pay in gold, nothing would be more likely to injure that measure, to cause a run upon the Bank, and to send gold out of the country, than the system proposed by the hon. Gentlemen who differed from him and his colleagues upon this question. One hon. Friend of his had mentioned the fact, that he had seen foreign ships receive gold for their corn, and then leave this country in ballast; and this, too, at a period when the importation of corn was limited. But if this took place under a limited importation, let hon. Members consider how much more extensive it would be if, under the present system, corn rose to 80s., and the ports, of necessity, were kept open for three months. In the case of such a scarcity as opened the ports in this way, speculations would be indulged in to the greatest extent, and must be paid in gold, so that such a run would be caused upon the Bank as must disturb the present currency of the country. An hon. Gentleman had complimented him upon, having introduced the measure which established that currency but let them not now adopt a measure which would bring back upon the country a return of those evils which a different system had brought upon them, and which he now hoped and trusted were nearly overcome."* The right hon. Baronet had adverted also to the fluctuations in the price of corn, and he had said, that he believed that they were not greater under the present system than under that of free trade. That argument had been already answered, however, by Mr. Ricardo, and so far from believing that the present system was calculated to give a uniform price, he thought that, in fact, it was the very best devised system which could have been invented for promoting fluctuation. He believed, that in order to make the attempt to repeal the Corn-laws effective, the middle classes ought to be prepared to concede something in the way of the franchise to the labouring classes. They ought to act on the principle of "give and take." Whatever might be the fate of the question on the present occasion, he felt assured that his hon. Friend would next Session carry it by a triumphant majority.

Mr. Handley

said, with regard to the manner in which this debate had been disposed of on the last occasion, he believed that every one in the House knew that the hon. Member for Bridport had completely outwitted himself—although with great tact he had afterwards claimed credit for it as a triumph.—He was willing to rest his support of the Corn-laws upon the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, which was unanswered and unanswerable—and had only been approached by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton with misrepresentation.—The hon. Member for Wolverhampton's speech on this occasion had been marked by a tone far less commendable than on former occasions. It was unjust in the hon. Member to speak of the supporters of the Corn-laws, as though they were indifferent to the sufferings of the people. Bit it could not be doubted that the rate of wages depended not upon the price of food, but upon the demand for labour, and hence the labouring population were better off when food was high than when it was low. In Lincolnshire the wages were from 10s. to 13s. 6d. a week, when * Hansard, Vol. xvi. (New Series) pp. 1066, 1067. the labourer had to spend 3s. in bread, and his 7s. for other articles. When wages were 13s. 6d. a week the labourer had to spend 5s. in bread, and had 8s. 6d, for other articles, so that he was half-a-crown a week better off with high prices than low prices. He could not deny that great distress existed in the manufacturing districts, but this was the first time their opponents had pressed into their service the arguments of the home market. They had oftentimes had it pressed upon them, but had now only discovered it on a sudden. It had been referred to, to show that increased exports were a proof of diminished home consumption, but in his opinion, the argument had altogether failed. In the Report of the Chamber of Commerce of Manchester, he found that the distress and misery which was stated to exist was not attributed to the corn-laws, but to the mismanagement of the Bank of England. It had been said the Irish Registration Bill of the noble Lord, although it bore that title on its back, was, nevertheless, a bill for the disfranchisement of Ireland, and so he believed this motion, which professed to be an inquiry into the operation of the Corn-laws, was nothing less than a motion for their total repeal, and he therefore trusted the House would vote against it.

Mr. M. Phillips

requested the indulgence of the House to one not in the habit of frequently troubling it. On a former occasion he had been accused of prophesying, but he thought the statements which had been made that evening were more prophetic than anything he had ever uttered.—He had been present at a meeting of upwards of 5,000 operatives at Manchester—a meeting which few hon. Members had perhaps had it in their power to attend, and which he would not attempt to describe, since his hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton, with all his power of language, had been able to convey but a faint idea of it. The feeling which pervaded that meeting was not confined to the operatives, but he believed was now spreading among the agricultural districts. It had so happened that two hon. Members for Lincoln had spoken in the course of the debate, and though they said, the subject was drawn to the dregs, they had nevertheless delivered speeches of some length. It was his misfortune during the debate of last year to have immediately preceded his hon. Friend who had just sat down, and on that occasion his hon. Friend had made a statement to which he must allude; he had said that the conduct of some of the mill-owners in Manchester was inexcusable; that they had shut up their mills and began to work short time, merely for the purpose of inducing a state of distress among the operatives to get up a feeling against the Corn-laws. Now, of the statement he utterly denied the correctness.—When capital was absorbed and profits gone, the mill-owners were obliged to work short time. He did not mean to say, the mill-owners possessed greater sympathy for the distress of the working people than any other class of her Majesty's subjects, but he claimed, at least, an equal degree of it for them. When it was impossible to manufacture at a profit, the manufacturer had to calculate whether it were better that his machinery should stand still, and be consequently greatly depreciated in value, or whether he should go on manufacturing at a loss. There was within three miles of his own residence a mill belonging to a relation of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, a Gentleman whose kindness of disposition to all those who were employed by him was well known—that gentleman had been compelled towards the conclusion of last year to have recourse to working short time in the manner which had been so severely animadverted upon by his hon. Friend. Manufacturers found it better even at a loss, to work their mills, for two or three hours a day, to keep them in order. Hon. Members might rest assured that however great they might suppose the profits of the manufacturers, when their capital was absorbed it was impossible they could do otherwise than dismiss those employed by them; but they did so with great reluctance, and he knew that among his own constituents there had been many an aching heart, occasioned by this cause, since this subject had last occupied the attention of the House. Reference had been made to the Chamber of Commerce in Manchester; but during the present Session he had presented a petition from that body on the subject of the currency, in which they state it as their opinion, that the recent derangements in the currency, were attributable to the Corn-laws. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Bridport, that the present system did not secure to us a proper supply in proportion to the demand. In support of this opinion he would allude to a case, which he hoped was at that moment engaging the attention of her Majesty's Government. In Naples, in 1839, in consequence of the demand for corn in this country, large profits were realised upon the importation of it. In consequence English merchants bought large quantities in the Neapolitan markets, but as the supply in that country was only limited, it raised the price there very considerably, and the consequence was the king of Naples prohibited the exportation of any corn from his dominions; thus inflicting a double loss on the merchants, first, of the profits which they anticipated realizing on its importation into this country; and next, as this quantity was suddenly thrown upon the Neapolitan market, a great fall immediately took place, and an actual loss to the speculators was the consequence. This showed, he thought, that our Corn-laws creating a sudden and artificial demand, rendered us a nuisance in our dealings with other countries. He hoped some means might be devised to regulate the importation, so as to produce greater regularity of supply and greater steadiness of price. These laws had not even antiquity to recommend them; they were introduced in 1815, and in 1828 they were obliged to be again patched up. Attempts had been made to induce the people to believe that the Poor-law Bill had been introduced for the purpose of grinding the poor, and making them live on a coase sort of food. He denied that imputation, and always embraced every occasion of doing so; he had given his assistance to the passing that law, and he solemnly declared that such an idea had never entered his mind. But when hon. Members saw that the operation of the Corn-laws was to compel the working classes to live upon a poorer description of food, he thought that by supporting those laws they took upon themselves the responsibility which it had been insidiously attempted to throw upon the supporters of the Poor-laws. He dreaded that general want of employment, which, he feared, must be the consequence of the present system. Manufacturers who had lost their capital would have no resource left but to throw their workmen out of employment. This would press still more severely on those who continued their mills in operation and would incapa- citate them still more to compete with foreigners in the markets abroad, and eventually the maintenance of the persons thus thrown out of employment must necessarily become a national charge. He would not detain the House any longer. There were other points to which he should have wished to have alluded, but he should decline doing so after the former discussions which had taken place on the subject, and he would sit down by expressing his readiness to support the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton.

Lord John Russell

assured the House that he was extremely unwilling to address them upon a subject which had been already so fully discussed, not only in the present but in former Sessions. Still, as the Government had been attacked in the course of the present debate, he felt it necessary to address a few words to the House upon the subject. An hon. Member had complained, that the Government had not brought forward a proposition upon the subject. Now, he thought that the conduct of the Government had been regulated by a due regard to the national interests. It was his opinion, that if upon a question of this kind there was a general disposition to have an alteration of the law, and a general wish to have the question settled by some new measure of legislation, but that there was a diversity of opinion as to the measure that ought to be adopted, the Government might safely step in and frame such a measure as might be most conducive to the national interests, and propose it for the adoption of Parliament, thereby securing a greater support for it than the measure of any individual Member could obtain. Such, however, was not the position of the question of the Corn-laws. There were Members on both sides of the House constituting a considerable majority, who thought that there ought not to be any alteration of the present laws. That being the case, the introduction of a measure by the Government would have been only adding to all the arguments and prejudices which influenced the votes and opinions of Members on the subject, and giving rise to party strife and contention, thereby not promoting but retarding the settlement of the question. The Government had not in the present or former debates interposed that obstacle. Judging, however, front the course of these debates, he was disposed to think, as far as he had gathered from the opinions of hon. Members opposite, that although, generally speaking, they were not prepared to enter upon a consideration of this question, yet they had not placed themselves in a situation to declare that the present laws were by no means to be altered. In the consideration of the question of the Corn-laws, and most of those questions affecting grain, he thought that time and circumstances were very often most important elements. Regarding the question before the House, he should vote for his hon. Friend's proposition, conceiving that the House ought to go into Committee upon the subject, inasmuch as the present laws required alteration; at the same time he must say that the extent of the evils had been exaggerated, and that the remedy proposed by his hon. Friend was not that which he should be prepared to adopt. The evils attributed to the present Corn-laws would not, and could not, he thought be denied. The evils connected with a deficient harvest and the foreign trade in corn nobody could deny. Owing to the fluctuations of the seasons a large importation of corn might be required, and owing to miscalculations as to the amount of the harvest and other various circumstances, this important trade might be suddenly disturbed by a change in price. Those fluctuations would no doubt continue to take place under an altered system; but the effect of the present system was, that it aggravated the evils by throwing difficulties in the way of the importing merchants. Not only had they to contend with a change in price, but in the rapidly increasing amount of duty. In addition to an increase of 5s. or 6s. in price, they had to contend with an increase of 10s., 12s., or 14s., in the amount of duty, and thus found, upon introducing the article into the market, that they were unable to realize any profit upon it. He therefore, said, that the corn trade, which was at all times a trade of considerable uncertainty, was rendered still more uncertain by the present laws. Then, as regarded the derangement of the currency. There was no doubt they must often pay for the deficiency of the harvest, by sending bullion abroad which occasioned a derangement of the currency. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool was, he thought, altogether mistaken when he stated that the Corn-laws did not add to that evil. There would be a great difference if this trade were placed upon a more regular and certain footing. We should then have foreign countries prepared to receive our commodities; they would get into the habit of taking our manufactures, and the trade being once established, a certain increase in that trade, would not produce the same derangement in the currency as if that increase was made by fits and starts, which those countries would not be prepared for, they being by our previous legislation excluded from using our manufactures. He, therefore, considered that the Corn-laws likewise added to the difficulty as regarded the currency. Looking at the various classes affected by the Corn-laws, he could not see one that it could be said was benefitted, while most classes were great losers by them. They occasioned great loss to the capitalist, the manufacturer, the merchant who dealt in corn, and the labourer, whether agricultural or manufacturing. It was said that wages would be diminished by an alteration in the present laws, and his hon. Friend (Mr. Handley) seemed to think that that was at once a reason why the labouring classes should take no interest in the repeal or improvement of the laws. He doubted whether nominal wages would be diminished; but even if they were for a time, it might be no diminution of the real wages paid to the labourer; and if there was an increase in the demand for labour and the general demand for manufactures and produce of this country, the real wages of the labourer would also increase. He conceived that the farmer was likewise a loser by the present Corn-laws. By making his trade partake of the character of a monopoly, without being at the same time able to regulate it, he found himself in the course of several years' abundant harvests unable to dispose of his produce with profit, and unable to export to a foreign country. The consequence of that was, that year after year the farmers had approached that House complaining of great distress, and asking them to appoint committees to inquire into the cause of that distress, which they then attributed to those laws which they now said they required for their welfare. The only class who appeared not to be losers by those laws were those in receipt of rents, who conceived they were interested in the present scale of duties. But that which conduced to the general prosperity of the country, to the general increase of our trade, to the increase of our manufactures, and the internal wealth of the country, must contribute most essentially to the prosperity and wealth of the landlord. Now, as to the remedy proposed. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton wished, he believed, for a total repeal of the Corn-laws. It had been urged against the hon. Gentleman on a former occasion, and with perfect truth, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, that if this alteration was made as to corn, they ought also to consider all other protecting duties on all other articles, with a view to their total repeal. He was fully of that opinion, for if they repealed the duty on corn, and if they afterwards proceeded to repeal the protecting duties upon the different articles of manufacture, many persons might say that they had never asked for the repeal of the Corn-laws, and that their interests would be seriously injured by the repeal of the duties on manufactured articles. He was therefore decidedly opposed to the repeal of these protecting duties, whether on corn or manufactures. The system of protecting duties was one which had been approved of by Mr. Huskisson, who had always declared that he had never intended to propose a perfectly free trade. That system he believed to be a perfectly wise one, and he was sure that when a system had been long tried, and found effectual, any sudden change which threw aside all protecting duties would be attended with the greatest distress. Not being able, therefore, to agree to a total repeal of the duty on corn, he wished to be clearly understood as desirous to substitute a moderate fixed duty for the present fluctuating duty. With a moderate fixed duty he believed they would have a steady trade in corn, and that they would put an end to many of the evils in the existing system. He remembered many years ago, when this subject was under discussion, hearing two gentlemen discussing in the lobby what the duty ought to be on corn, and the one asked the other what his views were as to the introduction of foreign corn. The reply was, that he wished to keep foreign corn out altogether, and if such were the object to be attained, a high fixed duty ought to be at once adopted. But his object was not to keep out foreign corn by a high duty, but to fix on such a moderate duty as would not exclude this country from the advantage of a more abundant market, or prevent it from participating in the benefit of favourable seasons abroad. By that means he should hope to obtain a more regular supply, and to make the price of food more fair and steady than it was at present. It was, perhaps, possible that those objects might be effected by an alteration in the present scale of duties. He thought it was possible to make such alterations in the present scale of duties as would render the changes less rapid, and he was of opinion, also, that it would be well if the duty varied much less. But, however that might be, the present inclination of his opinion was, that the wiser course to follow would be to resort to a moderate fixed duty, and thus to place corn on the same footing as Mr. Huskisson had placed other articles. He did not think that there was that great difference between corn and other articles which some persons contended for. When there was a great scarcity in the country, no doubt corn stood on a different footing from other articles, but in years of average production, he thought corn ought to be subjected to the same laws as other articles, and that a fair and moderate duty ought to be imposed on its importation. In the observations he had made he had not laid much stress upon the arguments of those who attempted to show that the manufacturers were in a falling position, and that the manufacturing greatness of the nation was about to depart from it. He did not think that those assertions had been proved, or that a case had been made out to warrant them in coming to such conclusions. He must, however, say, that although he thought our manufactures were not going to decay, that was no argument against making any alteration in the Corn-laws. If the Corn-laws were, as he contended, injurious to the manufacturer, if they exposed our manufacturing industry to great disadvantages, it was no argument in favour of those laws to assert, that the skill of our artisans was superior to that of the artisans of other nations, On the contrary, he thought they were bound to place our own people in the best position possible in order to enable them to compete successfully with other nations. The present Corn-laws, he believed, aggravated all the evils to which the manufacturers were exposed, and he should therefore vote for going into Committee, with the view of submitting himself, or of allowing his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade an opportunity of submitting a motion for carrying out the views which he had stated n regard to the substitution of a fixed duty for the present fluctuating scale.

Mr. Pryme

did not rise to repeat his former speech. He only wished to say, in explanation of what he had stated on a former occasion, that he had not founded his arguments for the proposal he had made on the ground of the heavy taxes which were imposed on land. He had not said anything in regard to these taxes, and he had only alluded to the taxes on the production of corn. He had said nothing of the land-tax because the land-tax was not included in those which pressed on the production of corn, and which increased with increased production and decreased with diminished growth. He should not trouble the House with any further observations, and should content himself with moving, by way of amendment on the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, That the House resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House to take into consideration the act of the 9th of George 4th, regulating the importation of foreign corn, with a view to the reduction of the average prices specified in the table to that act annexed, according to which the respective duties are imposed.

Amendment not seconded.

Mr. Muntz

said, that this was a question involving the interests of millions of the poorer classes, and which therefore deserved the most serious attention. He had listened to the arguments which had been advanced on both sides of the House, both on that and on a previous occasion when this subject was under consideration, and after much reflection he had come to the conclusion that the repeal of the Corn-laws would not effect the good which some seemed willing to suppose. The high price of corn in this country was not altogether a loss to the nation. It was a rule with him never to take a theoretical view of any question if he could take a practical one, and he had found on examination that the price of corn and the rate of wages had for a long time been in unison, rising and falling together. If the Corn-laws were repealed, the rate of wages, the rent of land, and the price of corn would, in his opinion, be all reduced to the continental level. If those laws were repealed, much loss would ensue to the nation, and he could not understand who would bear that loss, since the manufacturers were not able to endure their present burdens. A great part of our trade arose from the home demand, and little increase was to be expected in the demand for the foreign market. If the home trade was destroyed, the increase in the foreign demand would not make up for the loss; and if the Corn-laws were repealed, a vast quantity of land would, at the same time, be thrown out of cultivation. He did not think it fair to protect the manufacturers, and to refuse protection to the agriculturists. He could not see why any class of the community should enjoy protection at the expense of the rest, nor could he understand why the landowner should not have protection as well as the fund holder. He had no objection to a free trade in everything, but he would not give protection to one class, and refuse it to another. He was well aware the trade was never worse than it was at present, or the distress amongst the labourers greater; but that lamentable state of things would not be altered by the remedy which was proposed. For himself he did not hesitate to say, that all the evils in the condition of the country arose from misgovernment. He did not blame one party more than the other, nor did he mean to say that the Legislature was bad-intentioned, but it was very ignorant. All he had said was intended to qualify the vote he meant to give on the present occasion, and he should most decidedly vote for going into committee, on the principle that the landed interests had power in their own hands to do justice to themselves.

Mr. Villiers

in reply, observed, that it was an agreeable surprise to him to hear the final declaration of the hon. Member who had just sat down, for he had otherwise been about to congratulate hon. Members opposite on the accession to their strength in the person of the hon. Member for Birmingham. Giving, as he had done, all the attention in his power to that hon. Member, he had been utterly unable to know the hon. Member's meaning. He had, however, expected from that quarter some confusion being introduced into the present discussion, re- membering, as he did, the course pursued by the hon. Member's predecessors in that House, and he certainly did not think the hon. Member who had just spoken was an unworthy successor. The hon. Member not only attacked the Corn-laws, but he had other remedies, not very palatable to the opposite side of the House, in store for the people. If he at all collected the hon. Member's views, they were not for an alteration in the Corn-laws, but in favour of an alteration in the currency, and therefore hon. Members opposite must take their new Friend with all his opinions. He certainly would not prevent that division for which hon. Members were now so anxious, because he had really nothing to reply to; he had this observation, however, to make, that the House refused to allow the question to be discussed. It could not be said to be discussed when such disturbances were created as prevented hon. Members from being heard. Three hon. Members had been obliged to abandon the attempts they had made to express their opinions. Owing to the noise which had been kept up no less than six other Members on his side of the House had given up the idea of expressing their sentiments. Hence he was justified in saying that though no answer had been given to his statement, though no argument had been advanced against his motion, the House had refused to discuss it. It was attempted to get rid of the division on a former occasion by determining there should be no discussion upon this, and the conduct of the House in the matter corresponded with the proceedings out of the House in the agricultural districts on this question. It had occurred lately, when persons had ventured into the agricultural districts to express an opinion on this question, that they had been assailed with violence by the landlords. The same course had to-night been pursued in the House, for by noise the full expression of opinion had been prevented. He knew the argument against a further protracted discussion was, that the question had already been discussed three days. He begged to say, that if it was discussed three days more, the time occupied would not be more than the question deserved. How had the time of the House been before occupied? The House had now been sitting five months, and what work had it done? Had any measure been passed of interest to the community at large? No; nothing had prevailed but party contentions, and now that a subject had been proposed of deep interest to the people in general, the extraordinary impatience manifested by the House had prevented hon. Members from evpressing their opinions. He had been said by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire to have delivered a dull treatise, still he was ready to discuss the question coolly and calmly. The opposite side had no argument to advance. It was true, they formed a large majority against the people, but they were woefully mistaken if\they supposed the people were not watching their proceedings. Hon. Members opposite refused the people the vote by ballot, because they said the present electors were trustees for the rest of the community. He hoped the community would consider what sort of trustees they had. He perfectly admitted all further discussion on the question was for the present at an end, but the people would now have to consider the powers they possessed, and in what manner they would exercise these powers. The House had refused to discuss the question affecting their interests, and it would be for them to consider how their trustees had acted. There had been no topic urged against the present motion, save one—namely, that it was for a total repeal of the Corn-laws. Now, he had said nothing about a total repeal; he only applied for a preliminary form, which was to test the opinion of the House as to the present law. He only sought a Committee of the whole house to inquire into those laws; he had not proposed a thing rash or inconsiderate toward the agricultural interest; his motion was not inconsistent with the views other hon. Members might raise on the subject; all he asked the House was, that it should admit the present law did not work well, that the people had reason to complain, and that the House would not refuse a million and a half of people a redress of the grievances of which they complained.

The House divided:—Ayes 177; Noes 300; Majority 123.

List of the AYES.
Abercomby, G. Anson, Colonel
Aglionby, H A. Baines, E.
Ainsworth, P Bannerman, A.
Baring, F. T. Hector, C. J.
Barnard, E. J. Hill, Lord, A. M. C.
Bellew, R. M. Hindley, C.
Berkeley, H. Hobhouse, T. G.
Berkeley, C. Hollond, R.
Bewes, T, Howard, hon. E.
Blacken, C. Howard, F. J.
Blake, W. J. Howard, P. H.
Bridgeman, H. Howick, Viscount
Briscoe, J. I. Hume, J.
Brocklehurst, J. Humphery, J.
Brotherton, J. Hutchins, E. J.
Buller, C. Hutt, W.
Busfeild, W. Ingham, R.
Byng, G. S. James, W.
Campbell, Sir J. Jervis, J.
Chalmers, P. Jervis, S.
Chichester, J. P. Johnson, Gen.
Childers, J.W. Labouchere, H.
Clay, W. Lambton, H.
Clements, Lord Langdale, hon. C.
Clive, E. B. Langton, W. G.
Collier, J. Lascelles, hon. W.
Collins, W. Leader, J. T.
Cowper, W. F. Lister, E. C.
Craig, W. G. Loch, J.
Currie, R. Macaulay, T. B.
Dalmeny, Lord Mactaggart, J.
Dashwood, G. H. Marshall, W.
Denistoun, W. J. Marsland, H.
D'Eyncourt, C. T Martin, J.
Duke, Sir J. Maule, hon. F.
Duncan, Visct. Milton, Lord
Duncombe, A, Molesworth, Sir W.
Dundas, C. W. D. Morpeth, Lord
Dundas, F. Morrison, J.
Dundas, hon. J. Muntz, G. F.
Dundas, Sir R. Nagle, Sir R.
Dundas, D. Norreys, Sir D.
Easthope, J. O'Connell, D.
Elliot, hon. E. O'Connell, J.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. O'Connell, M. J.
Ellice, E. O'Ferrall, R.
Ellis, W. Ord, W.
Erle, W. Oswald, J.
Euston, Earl of Palmerston Visct,
Ewart, W. Parker, J.
Fielden, W. Parnell, Sir H.
Ferguson, R. Pattison, J.
Finch, F. Pechell, Captain
Fitzroy, Lord C. Philips, M.
Fleetwood, Sir P. Philips, G.
Fort, J. Phillpotts, J.
Gillon, W. D. Ponsonby, hon. J.
Gisborne, T. Protheroe, E.
Greg, R. H. Pryme, G.
Greig, D. Ramsbottom, J.
Grey, Sir C. Rawdon, J. D.
Grey, Sir G. Rice, E. R.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Roche, E. B.
Grote, G. Roche, W.
Guest, Sir J. Roche, Sir D.
Hall, Sir B. Rundle, J.
Hastie, A. Russell, Lord J.
Hawes, B. Salwey, Colonel
Hayter, W. G. Scholefield, J.
Heathcoat, J. Scrope, G. P.
Seymour, Lord Turner, W.
Sharpe, General Verney, Sir H.
Slaney, R. A. Vigors, N. A.
Smith, B. Vivian, J. H.
Somerville, Sir W. M. Vivian, Sir R. H.
Standish, C. Wakley, T.
Stanley, hon. J. E. Walker, R.
Stansfield, W. R. Ward, H. G.
Staunton, Sir G. Wemyss, Captain
Steuart, R. White, A.
Stewart, James Wilde, Sir T.
Stuart, Lord J. Williams, W.
Stuart, W. V. Wilshire, W.
Strickland, Sir G. Wood, C.
Strutt, E. Wood, G. W.
Style, Sir C. Wood, B.
Tancred, H. W. Wyse, T.
Thornely, T. TELLERS.
Troubridge, Sir E. T. Villiers, hon. C. P.
Tufnell, H. Warburton, H.
List of the NOES.
Acheson, Lord Brownrigg, S.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bruce, C. L. C.
Acland, T. D. Bruges, W. H. L.
A'Court, Captain Buck, L. W.
Adare, Lord Buller, Sir J. Y.
Aglionby, Major Burr, H.
Alford, Viscount Burrell, Sir C.
Alston, R. Burroughes, H. N.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Byng, G.
Archbold, R. Calcraft, J. H.
Archdall, M. Campbell, Sir H.
Ashley, Lord Canning, rt. hn. Sir S.
Attwood, W. Castlereagh, Viscount
Attwood, M. Cavendish, hon. C.
Bagge, W. Cavendish, G. H.
Bagot, hon. W. Cayley, E. S.
Bailey, J, jun. Chester, H.
Baillie, H.J. Chetwynd, Major
Baker, E. Cholmondeley, H.
Baldwin, C. B. Christopher, R.
Baring, H. B. Chute, W.L.W.
Baring, hon. W. B. Clive, hon. R. H,
Barneby, J. Codrington, C. W.
Barrington, Viscount Cole, hon. A. H.
Bassett, J. Compton, H. C.
Bateson, Sir R. Conolly, Col. E.
Bell, M. Corbally, M. E.
Benett, J. Corry, hon. H.
Berkeley, hon. G. Courtenay, P.
Blackburn, I. Crewe, Sir G.
Blackstone, W. S. Cripps, J.
Blair, J. Crompton, Sir S.
Blake, M. J. Darby, G.
Blennerhassett, A. Darlington, Earl of
Bodkin, J. J. Denison, W. J.
Boldero, H. G. De Horsey, S. H.
Botfield, B. Dick, Q.
Bowes, J. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Brabazon, Lord Douro, Marquess of
Bradshaw, J. Dowdeswell, W.
Bramston, T. W. Drummond, H.
Broadley, H. Duffield, T.
Brodie, W. B. Dugdale, W. S.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Duncombe, hon. A.
Duncombe, hon. W. Hughes, W. B.
Du Pré, G. Hurst, R. H.
East, J. B. Hurt, F.
Eastnor, Lord Ingestre, Lord
Eaton, R. J. Irton, S.
Egerton, W. T. Irving, J.
Egerton, Sir P. Jackson, Sergeant
Eliot, Lord Jenkins, Sir R.
Ellis, J. Jermyn, Earl
Estcourt, T. Johnstone, H.
Evans, G. Jones, J.
Farnham, E. B. Jones, Captain
Fector, J. M. Kerrison, Sir E.
Fellowes, E.T. Kelburne, Lord
Ferguson, Sir R. Kirk, B.
Filmer, Sir E. Knatchbull, Sir E.
Fitzpatrick, J. Knight, H. G.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Knightley, Sir C.
Fleming, J. Lefroy, rt. hon. T.
Foley, E. T. Lemon, Sir C.
Follett, Sir W. Lennox, Lord A.
Fox, S. L. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Fremantle, Sir T. Lincoln, Earl of
Freshfield, J. W. Litton, E.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Lockhart, A. M.
Glynne, Sir S. R. Lowther, Col.
Gordon, R. Lowther Lord
Gordon, hon. Captain Lowther, J. H.
Gore, O. J. R. Lygon, hon. General
Gore, O. W. Mackenzie, T.
Goulburn, H. Mackenzie, W. F.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Maclean, D.
Granby, Marquess of Macnamara, W.
Grant, Sir A. C. Maher, J.
Grattan, J. Mahon, Viscount
Greene, T. Manners, Lord C.
Grimsditch, T. Marsland, T.
Grimston, Lord Martin, T. B.
Grimston, hon, E. H. Marton, G.
Hale, R. B. Mathew, G. B.
Halford, H. Maunsell, T. P.
Hamilton, C. J. B. Meynell, Captain
Hamilton, Lord C. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Harcourt, G. G. Miles, W.
Hardinge, Sir H. Miles, P. W. S.
Harland, W. C. Miller, W. H.
Hawkes, T. Monypenny, T. G.
Hayes, Sir E. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Heathcote, Sir W. Moreton, hon. A. H.
Heneage, E. Neeld, J.
Heneage, G. W. Neeld, J,
Henniker, Lord Noel, hon. C. G.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Norreys, Lord
Herries, J. C. O'Brien, C.
Hill, Sir R. O'Connor, Don
Hillsborough, Earl of Ossulston, Lord
Hinde, J. H. Owen, Sir J.
Hodges, T. L. Packe, C. W.
Hodgson, F. Paget, F.
Hodgson, R. Pakington, J. S.
Holmes, W. A. Palmer, R.
Holmes, W. Palmer, G.
Hope, hon. C. Parker, M.
Hope, G. W. Parker, T. A. W.
Hoskins, K. Patten, J. W.
Hotham, Lord Pease, J.
Houldsworth, T. Peel, Sir R. rt ho
Pemberton, T. Stanley, E.
Pendarves, E. W. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Perceval, Col. Stewart, J.
Perceval, G. J. Sturt, H. C.
Philipps, Sir R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Planta, rt. hon. J. Teignmouth, Lord
Plumptre, J. P. Thesiger, F.
Powell, Col. Thomas, Col. H.
Power, J. Thornhill, G.
Power, J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Powerscourt, Lord Townley, R. G.
Praed, W. T. Trench, Sir F.
Price, Sir R. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Price, R. Tyrrell, Sir J.T.
Pryse, P. Vere, Sir C. B.
Pusey, P. Verner, Col.
Rae, it hon. Sir W. Vernon, G. H.
Redington, T. N. Vivian, Major C.
Reid, Sir J. R. Vivian, J. E.
Richards, R. Waddington, H.
Rickford, W. Wall, C. B.
Rolleston, L. Walsh, Sir J;
Rose, Sir G. White, H.
Round, C. G, Williams, R.
Round, J. Williams, W. A.
Rushbrooke, Col. Wilmot, Sir J, E.
Rushout, G. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Russell, Lord C. Winnington, H. J.
St. Paul, H. Wodehouse, E.
Sanderson, R. Wood, Col,
Sandon, Lord Wood, Col. T.
Sanford, E. A. Worsley, Lord
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Wyndham, W.
Sheppard, T. Wynn, C. W.
Shirley, E. J. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Sibthorpe, Col. Young, J.
Sinclair, Sir G. Young, Sir W.
Smith, A.
Smith, G. R. TELLERS.
Smyth, Sir G. H. Handley, H.
Somerset, rt. hn Lord G. Heathcote, G. J.
Paired off.
Hutton, R. Kemble, H.
Ferguson, Sir R. Lennox, Lord G.
Crawley, S. Dottin, A. R.
Rich, N. Pigot, It.
Seale, Sir J. H. D'Israeli, B.
Lynch, A. H. Pollen, Sir I.
Parker, J. J. Scarlett, hon. Major
Hawkins, J. H. Tennent, J. E.
Adam, Adm, Sir C. Clayton, Sir W. R.
Murray, A. Duff, J.
Browne, J. D. Baillie, Col.
Callaghan, D. Harcourt, G. S.
Colquhoun, J. C. Houstoun, G.
Stock, Dr. O'Neill, hon. Gen.
Lushington, C. Polhill, Capt.
Heron, Sir R. Hope, H. T.
Melgund, Lord Northland, Lord
Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A. Pollock, Sir J.
Lushington, Sir S. Cresswell, W C.
Baker, hon. P. Nichol, Dr.
Barron, H. W. Dalrymple, Sir A.
Bryan, Major Cartwright, W. R.
Baker, E. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Bernal, R. Williams, T. P.
Rumbold, C. Heathcote, Sir G.
Turner, E. Welby, G. E.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. C. J. James, Sir W.
Talfourd, Sergeant Gladstone, W. E.
Wrightson, W. B. Kelly, F.
Chapman, Sir M. L. Lucas, E,
Blewitt, R. J. Clerk, Sir G,
Wallace, R. Pringle, A.
Spiers, A. Ker, D.
Davis, Col. Davenport, J.
Fenton, J. Whitmore, J. C.
White, L. Coote, Sir C.
Paget Lord A. Bentinck, Lord G.
Wood, Alderman Forester, hon. G.C.
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