§ Mr. Brotherton
in resuming the debate, said, that being connected with the manufacturing districts he wished to be allowed to state in a few words the reasons for the vote which he intended to give upon this question. He had always been opposed to the slave-trade and to slavery, and had given his vote for the grant of 20,000,000l. to the West-India planters, in order to obtain a peaceful and amicable settlement of the great question of negro emancipation; and if, in his opinion, the measure proposed by her Majesty's Government was calculated to give encouragement to slavery, he would not support it. He was convinced, 352 however, from the opinion of those best acquainted with the subject, that no such effect would follow. He had that morning received a letter from the Anti-Slavery Society at Manchester, stating, that they did not concur in the view which the London Anti-Slavery Society took of the subject. And, in his opinion, the Government had shown as great a regard for free labour and been as much opposed to slavery as the Gentlemen opposite. He thought, moreover, that nothing would tend so surely to encourage the slave-trade as the refusal to receive the products of Cuba and Brazil. He looked at the propositions of Government as a whole, and felt, that they demanded his support, even if he had any doubt respecting the Sugar question. Some hon. Members said, they would vote against the proposition respecting sugar, on account of its being connected with other propositions of which they disapproved, and he had a right to say, that he would vote for it, because it was connected with propositions of which he approved. The plan of the Government was protection, not prohibition the plan of the noble Lord (Sandon) purported to be the same, but there was this difference between them, that the former would give sugar at a fair price to the people of this country, whereas the latter would keep it up at an unreasonable price. The plan of the Government provided for any contingent scarcity of the article— the plan of the noble Lord left such contingency wholly dependent upon the permission of the monopolists. There had been an attempt to enlist popular feeling against the plan of the Government and in favour of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, on the score of slavery, but in his (Mr. Brotherton's) opinion, Mammon was at the bottom of that movement. He would not rely much on the mercy of those who denied justice. The monopolists fought the battle of timber and corn, under the mask of sympathy for the slave. Selfishness was the principle on which the Monopolists acted, and he hoped that the people of England would show that they were determined to protect their own interests. He gave the meed of praise to the Government for bringing forward so noble a measure, and he had no doubt, that in the end it would be carried, because it was founded on the principle of justice. It was stated, that no necessity existed for an alteration such 353 as that proposed; but those who said so appeared altogether to overlook the sufferings of the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country. The distress at Manchester and in the neighbourhood was such as was never known at any former period. Thousands were out of employment, many mills standing or working short time, wages reduced, poor-rates increasing,—those who occupied houses were becoming lodgers, and families were huddled together in small houses. Disease, crime, and misery, were the natural result of this unfortunate state of things, and unless something was done to relieve the distress of the people he knew not what might be the consequence. In most towns properly had much declined in value; and the machinery used in manufactures was generally not worth half the price it would have brought a few years back. As an instance of the deterioration which had taken place, he might mention that about three miles from Manchester there was a large mill, with 63 acres of land attached, a mansion worth from 4,000l. to 5,000l., with as many dwelling houses as brought in nearly 1,200l. a-year of rental, and which cost the proprietor 120,000l. Upon his failure, three years ago, his creditors refused 75,000l. for the property; it had been standing for sale now upwards of six months at the price of 40,000l., and not one bidder had offered. In Manchester, Oldham, Stockport, Bolton, Preston, and Salford, there were upwards of 10,000 houses unoccupied, while there had not been one-third of that number empty in 1835. An inquiry had been made last year into the state of 10,000 families, and it had been found that of 2,000 the earnings did not average more than 1s. 1d¼. per week for each individual, and at that time relief was given to 10,000 families, or 50,000 persons by voluntary subscription. There was, no doubt, a cause for this great distress, and much of it might be attributable to our present Corn-laws. It was a remarkable fact, that the cost of wheat alone for the three years 1837, 1838, 1839, was 58,555,055l. more than in the three years 1834, 1835, and 1836. In order to illustrate the operation of the food laws, an inquiry was instituted into the comparative condition of the work people at a large manufactory in the neighbourhood of Bolton, in the years 1835 and 1840. In the year 1835 these people spent 12,500l. 354 of the amount of their earnings in food, the produce of agriculture, and in 1840, they spent 18,500l., and yet their wages at the latter period were, if any difference existed, rather lower than in the former. That fact alone was sufficient to convince any man of the evil operation of the Corn-laws; and that when bread is dear the people have less to spend in clothing and in procuring the comforts of life. A further proof was furnished in the decreased consumption of sugar. In 1840 there were 25,000 tons less of that commodity consumed than in 1830; and whereas in the latter year the average consumption of the kingdom was 20lbs. for each person, in the former, and at the present time it was only 15lbs. per head. These facts show the necessity of affording relief to the manufacturing and commercial classes of the community, and that the great object of legislation should be to improve the condition of the millions. By improving the condition of the people we increase the value of the land. What had made the land in England so much more valuable than land in any other part of the world? The commerce of the country. As commerce had prospered the land had increased in value, it was therefore reasonable to suppose that whatever was injurious to commerce must be detrimental to the landed interest. He contended that the Corn-laws, by producing constant fluctuations in the price of grain, were as injurious to the farmers as to the manufacturing and commercial interests. They were unjust in principle, and most oppressive in operation. They imposed a tax upon the people to the extent of 40,000,000l. a-year; and in this way a larger sum was annually paid to the monopolists than to the state. By removing such an odious monopoly the House would do justice to the country, and promote the prosperity of every class. He believed, too, that the monopolists themselves, instead of suffering, would be great gainers. The Corn-laws, as they at present existed, were most injurious to the merchant, to the manufacturer, to the artisan, and to every class of labourers, and they were moreover unjust and wicked in themselves. He hoped, therefore, that the people would come forward to express themselves upon this vital question, and that the House would respond to the general feeling of the country by repealing these unjust and odious laws, so that the suffering 355 population of these realms might become more prosperous, more contented, and more happy.
was quite ready to admit the existence of the great distress alluded to by the hon. Member, but he did not think, that to distress other classes would be the best way to relieve it. The hon. Gentleman had stated the facts, but not the whole facts, for he forgot to state all the causes which conduced to that deplorable state of things; more especially those connected with the general condition of trade and commerce all over the world, in consequence of various recent events. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had as he understood, received a statement of the distress in Bolton, from an eminent manufacturer of that town; but he had since been informed, that that Gentleman was busy building new mills at an expense of no less than 70,000l. That fact proved one thing at least; it proved that there must have been much exaggeration in the statement. He should not then enter on the question of the sugar duties, nor be tempted into a discussion on the subject by the taunts of the noble Lord, the Member for North Northumberland, but he would confine the very few observations he meant to address to the House to the general policy of her Majesty's Ministers, in proposing changes in the finance and commerce of this country. He believed, in his conscience, that these changes were never intended to be carried into effect by them, and he considered the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), in proposing them, one more fitted for the hustings of Finsbury than for a Minister of the Crown in the House of Commons. The noble Lord had taunted his (Mr. Hamilton's) side of the House with newborn zeal in the cause of slavery; but they might equally taunt him and his supporters with new-born zeal in behalf of the poor of this country. Had the pending dissolution anything to do with the noble Lord's proposition? Were the coming elections in his mind when it sprung up? Was cheap sugar offered to sweeten the bitter draught of the New Poor-law to the paupers of England? With respect to the duty on corn, he (Mr. Hamilton) should only say one word. If hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to give the people cheap bread, and their employers cheap labour, for one was the natural and ne- 356 cessary consequence of the other, why not take off the entire duty on corn? Why keep on a tax which was no protection to the agriculturist, while, as it was; stated, it kept up the price of bread to the manufacturer. He freely admitted, that labour was not sufficiently paid, especially in the agricultural districts; but would cheap bread better that state of things? It was in evidence, and distinctly proved, that when bread was at the cheapest the distress of the working population was at the greatest, because their wages were commensurately reduced in consequence of the fall in price of that necessary of life. If the Corn-laws were repealed, however, wages that now average 12s. a week would fall to 5s. 3d. Under these circumstances, he should oppose the proposition of her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Alston
said, as I am not in the habit of frequently occupying the time of the House, I trust, that on the present occasion, they will indulge me for a few minutes, as on a question of so much importance, I am not disposed to give a silent vote. Her Majesty's Ministers on their own responsibility have proposed certain great financial changes, which, in their judgment, will materially benefit all classes in the country. No one, I think, can doubt that our commercial tariff admits of, and requires, great improvement. And consequently it will be right, that a subject so important to us all, brought before as as it is by a responsible Government, should meet with full enquiry and consideration, in order that we may ascertain what improvements can be made, and how far such improvements can be carried out. The question is so vast in all its bearings, and so interesting to all, that it requires the fullest and most open investigation; that the country may he enabled to draw its own conclusions on the measures now proposed. And feeling Sir, that a committee of the whole House will be the most satisfactory method of enquiry, as it will place the whole case before the country, I shall decidedly give my vote in opposition to the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool. I have almost invariably supported her Majesty's present Government, feeling that they were deserving of the confidence of this country and that I was best serving the country, by giving them my zealous support. On 357 the present proposition for a reduction of the duties on sugar, I shall vote with them; with the anxious desire to aid in reducing those enormous charges on articles of necessary consumption, which are so destructive to our revenues, and so injurious to our fellow creatures. There is no Member of this House more opposed to slavery than I am; nor any one who is more thankful for the abolition of those disgusting laws which upheld that odious and most iniquitous traffic. But I cannot see by what ingenuity the present proposal will in any degree encourage or cause the encrease of slavery; and I am fortunately borne out in this conclusion by some resolutions which reached me this morning, from Hitchin, bearing the signature of several gentlemen residing there, most of them of the Society of Friends, all of them influential from their high moral character, and humane and charitable conduct, and to whom the very name of slavery is most repugnant. They state, in the most unequivocal terms, that they cannot admit that the proposed measure will act as an encouragement to slavery. With the permission of the House I will now read these resolutions, which bear among other signatures, those of four delegates to the Anti-Slavery Convention. I am myself interested in this question, having a small property in Jamaica, but I do not feel that by my vote this evening, I am doing the least injury to those interested in the colonies; nay, I draw the very opposite conclusion. Should, Sir, the House proceed to entertain the question of an alteration in the Corn-laws, I shall certainly be in my place, and give to any such proposal my most decided opposition, as I have hitherto done, whenever it has been in any shape submitted to this House. I shall oppose such a proposition, because I feel the occupier of land is entitled to protection; and because from long and close observation, I am satisfied that the agricultural labourer is never so much distressed as when the price of wheat is so low as not to remunerate the occupier. Indeed it is evident, that the price which the farmer receives for his produce, must govern the rate of wages which he pays to his labourers. I shall therefore, Sir, support the proposal of her Majesty's Ministers, for an alteration in the sugar-duties, but certainly oppose their proposal on the Corn-laws.
§ Mr. Harland
said, he was anxious to 358 explain the grounds upon which he felt obliged to oppose the plan of a Government he bad hitherto supported, and with whose general views and policy he had cordially concurred. With regard to the particular question of the reduction of the sugar duties then under discussion, he thought it had been satisfactorily proved that the diminished supply of sugar which had taken place the last two years was owing to temporary causes. Looking, therefore, to the circumstances of the West Indian colonies, and the very peculiar condition of the emancipated negroes in those colonies, he could not but feel, if the Ministerial plan were carried, that it would seriously injure the West-Indian interests, and at the same time endanger the happy working out of the great principle of emancipation, for which England had paid so generously, and in the successful issue of which the people took the deepest interest. But, objectionable as he thought the proposition in itself, he considered it as much more so when taken as forming a part of a large and sweeping, though a very partial alteration, in the protective system of this country. In order to supply a temporary falling off in the revenue, and a temporary excess of expenditure over the income of the country, the Government proposed to make a permanent change in part of the protective duties. He (Mr. Harland), could not but think that this was a very dangerous mode of dealing with a temporary financial difficulty; he thought that looking at the causes which led to the falling off in the revenue, he had a right to look upon it in a temporary light, whilst the war in China, the naval operations on the coast of Syria, and the increased force they had been obliged to keep up in the Canadas—all justified them in the view that the increase of expenditure over revenue was owing to the temporary, and not the permanent exigencies of the country. But the Government, in order to meet the exigency proposed to lower the protective duties hitherto levied upon sugar, timber, and corn of foreign production. He was opposed to the plan, because, if carried, it would be impossible for the present Government, or any other that might succeed it, ever to revert to our present system of protection, even if a future favourable state of the finances of the country should warrant the return to it. He thought it very possible that the present Government 359 would never have brought forward this plan if it had not been for the present financial difficulties of the country; but it was evident that a vast majority of those hon. Members who would support the Ministers on the present occasion, would cordially hail any falling off in the revenue, if they thought it could be made the successful means of either lowering, or entirely sweeping away, the protective duties of the country. He, therefore, opposed the plan, because it called upon Parliament to make a permanent, though a partial, change in our protective system, and to take a step which, if once taken, could never be retrod, even should the circumstances which alone induced them to make the change be wholly altered and removed. He called upon the House to remember that the chief cause of the deficient revenue was owing to the change that had been made in the Post-office charges; he would ask for whose benefit, and in compliance with whose almost universal petitions was this change made? Not certainly at the instance of the colonists: the agricultural interests did not rise in a mass and petition for the change;—no—but the manufacturing and trading interests did almost to a man; and now in order to supply a deficiency mainly caused by the boon granted last year to the manufacturing and trading interests, the Government came down and proposed a permanent alteration in certain protective duties hitherto enjoyed by the colonial and agricultural interests. He could not but feel that the noble Lord, the Secretary for the colonies, had carried his proposition either too far, or not far enough. If, in consideration of the particular financial difficulties of the country, or from a conviction of the intrinsic value of the principle itself, the noble Lord had felt that the time had come when it became his bounden duty, as a Minister of the Crown, to propose to Parliament that certain duties, hitherto considered merely in a protective light, should for the future be dealt with and fixed so as to meet the financial purposes of the revenue, he thought that justice demanded that the noble Lord should have been prepared at the same time to propose to the House a general and uniform ad valorem duty of so much per cent, upon all articles of manufactures and articles of produce. Had the noble Lord done this, no one class and no one interest, however much they 360 might have disagreed with him in principle, could have complained on the score of injustice or partiality. The question between protective duties on one hand, and duties for revenue on the other, the question between free trade, or an approach to it, and the present system of protection, would have been brought fairly and broadly under the discussion of Parliament and the country. But the noble Lord had not done this; and viewing as he did, the plan of the Government as an attempt to make a permanent change in the protective system of the country, in order to meet a temporary financial difficulty—believing that if carried it would injure the interests of the colonies, endanger the happy issue of the great question of emancipation, and seriously hurt the agricultural interest, without being of any benefit to the working classes, who he firmly believed would lose more by a reduction of their wages than they would gain by any cheapening in the articles of their food—these being his conscientious opinions, he felt it to be his painful duty to oppose the plan of the Government, not only on this occasion, but whenever and in whatever shape it might afterwards come before Parliament.
§ Mr. Hastie
said, that having been throughout his life engaged in commerce, he hailed with great satisfaction the plan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and with still greater satisfaction the speech and the plan of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, which showed the vast and comprehensive mind of the noble Lord in dealing with the real interests of this country. The hon. Member for Beverley had said that those connected with the East India interest were almost unanimously against the plan of the Government; but he, being the deputy chairman of the East India and China Association, and intimately acquainted with almost all the East India merchants, could tell the House that he knew not of a single exception to the full concurrence which that body felt in the principles avowed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. Member had said, too, that the unanimous opinion of the East India directors was against the proposition. He knew not whether that was or was not the case; but, as to the value of their opinion, he begged to remind the House that when they strenuously opposed the opening of the trade of that vast empire 361 they had stated that such were the habits and prejudices of its inhabitants that they would not use articles of British manufacture, and that therefore it would be useless to throw open the trade; and yet since the trade had been thrown open, our exportation had increased from about half a million to five millions sterling. He rejoiced at the declared intention of the noble Lord to revise our commercial tariff, because he was convinced that they had arrived at the maximum rate of taxation on imports; and, if a prudent system of reduction was adopted, great relief would be afforded to the working classes of this country, and great assistance would be rendered to our merchants, by facilitating the exchange of British in return for foreign commodities. As to the Corn-laws they operated most prejudicially to the landed interest itself. It would be recollected that at the beginning of last year prices were rather low; an inauspicious spring, a cold summer, and a rather wet harvest, held out to speculators the prospect of a bad crop; and accordingly orders were sent out desiring purchases of corn to be made in all the foreign ports, to be paid for by bills drawn upon the purchasers. Two millions of quarters were so purchased; the bills were drawn, they went into the marts of Petersburgh, Vienna, Hamburgh, Paris, and Holland; and of course lowered the exchange instantly against this country. The consequence was that capitalists sent their gold to those markets; the Bank of England was compelled to raise the rate of interest and narrow its circulation; the mercantile man in that state of things naturally desisted from buying manufactures; the manufacturers got large stocks upon their hands, which only fetched half their price; the labouring population was reduced to half their wages; and the farmer lost his market. He had heard a great deal said in that House about cruelty to the black population. No man was more alive to the distresses of his fellow-subjects than he was; but, much as he might deplore the cruelties practised on these people, he could not make up his mind to overlook the cruelties which by the Corn-laws were put on the working classes of his own country, than whom there were no men in the world more ready and willing to work, provided they only received a fair remuneration. He had no doubt but that this question of sugar would be 362 lost on a division; but, then, some other tax must be imposed in its stead. He should recommend to the Government, in the event of losing this, to equalise the legacy duties. It would be a species of property tax levied on real estates in the same way as it was at present levied on personal. The whole of real estates at present were exempt from all taxes on demise, while all personal estates were heavily burthened with duties. Two millions sterling were derived from that source, and, as the landed interest was by much the larger, it could not object to have that tax put on them. The money was borrowed for the protection of the land, and yet the entire entailed estates of the country did not pay a farthing. The last twelve years had been a favourable average in point of produce, and yet 13,000,000 of quarters had been imported during that period, which clearly showed that we did not grow, within 1,000,000 of quarters yearly, sufficient for our necessities. Hon. Gentlemen were bound to take into consideration that branch of the subject.
§ Mr. G. Palmer
—Sir, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down lays claim to the attention of the House from his long acquaintance with commercial affairs; on this ground also I may equally ask attention myself. The hon. Member for Sal-ford has stated, that no one has ever been more disposed than himself to put down slavery, and to discourage it by every means in his power, and yet he shall vote against the motion of the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire states, that he considers the measures proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of vast financial importance, and therefore he shall vote for the House going into the consideration of them in the committee; but that no one is more averse than he is to do anything to encourage slavery, and that as to the Corn-laws, nothing will induce him to consent to the alteration proposed in them. So different, indeed, has been the line of argument taken by hon. Members in the course of the debate, that it is difficult to guess upon what principle they will go into the division. The noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, and all those who have spoken from this side of the House, as if from authority, for four whole nights of debate, with the exception only of that able and statesman-like 363 speech of the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire made last night, have confined themselves to the sugar question, almost entirely resting their arguments upon the inhumanity and inconsistency of this country, after the great sacrifices she has made to put down slavery in her own dependencies, now giving her assistance to encourage slavery in foreign countries, by increasing the demand for their produce. The noble Secretary for the Colonies, on the other hand, with the right hon. President of the Board of Trade, and his Friends, touch but lightly upon the sugar question, resting their argument upon the woeful state of the finances of the country, (a state into which their own misconduct alone has brought them), and the hope, that by an alteration in the differential duties they may be able to restore them to a more healthy condition; thus each party is seeking to draw a few votes from the ranks of their opponents. Of the tone taken by the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, the right hon. Secretary at War has already sought advantage, by throwing out to the House, that, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, if in office, will bring forward similar measures to those now proposed by her Majesty's Ministers, and promising his support upon that occasion, on whatever side of the House he may then be sitting. The hon. Member for Sheffield has followed this up in his remarks upon the speech of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, thus endeavouring to create distrust and disunion amongst the great party on this side of the House. Sir, I am satisfied that he will be mistaken in his turn; and the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, delivered last night, will be conclusive however. No more, I am certain, will the right hon. Baronet desire to remove that protection from British interests, of whatever character they may be, which he may think sufficient to give them a preference over foreigners, than I myself desire to see that protection carried to the extent of a monopoly. Most cordially do I join with the noble Lord on this side of the House, and with the right hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, on the other side, in deprecating everything which might tend to encourage that slave-trade in others, which we, upon a high principle of honour and humanity, have put an end to ourselves. Without any other reason 364 whatever, I should be quite prepared to vote against the proposed alteration in the sugar duties. It is needless therefore for me to occupy any more of the time of the House on this part of the question; but I must beg their attention to those other parts of the question, upon which her Majesty's Government lay the greatest stress. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, seemed most anxious to induce the House to believe, that the measures now proposed were not the hasty determination of the moment, taken up for party purposes, in the hope of securing their situations by a more cordial co-operation of their extreme Radical friends. If, Sir, I am to believe this, what must I think of that first declaration of the right hon. Gentleman, when he proposed the alteration of the rum duties in favour of the East Indies?—when I stated, that it was the prelude to all those measures which he has since proposed. He declared that it was only done as an act of justice to the; East Indies; and added, that it could not, in his opinion, injure the interests of the West, as the price of rum in this country was always regulated by the foreign demand, the quantity imported so much exceeding that of the home consumption. He now, Sir, enters boldly into the question, going farther than the noble Lord himself in the declaration, that these measures were brought forward, not more in a financial point of view, than for the purpose of carrying out the great principle of free trade, as he calls it: more properly might he say, for the disfranchisement of British subjects, and British interests, in favour of foreigners. His plans are something like that free trade carried on by the highwaymen on the road, or the wandering Arab in the Desert. He shelters himself under the pretence, that he is only following up the views of the late Mr. Huskisson, and the advice of the merchants and bankers of India. With regard to the first part of his authority, I think the right hon. Member for Harwich, who must have been much more intimately acquainted with the views of that Gentleman than he can pretend to be, most distinctly told him a week or two ago, that Mr. Huskisson was a decided advocate for a reasonable protection to British interests in general, and to the land in particular; and the protecting duties now 365 existing were in reality of his own proposing. For myself, Sir, I must say, that Mr. Huskisson went far beyond what was prudent in some things, especially in that of withdrawing the protection from one great interest—the shipping of the country—whether, if he had returned to office, as was, I believe, generally expected he was about to do, when he was so suddenly cut off, in that appalling and extraordinary manner, he would have proceeded further in withdrawing protection from British interests; or whether Providence ordained that he should no longer have the power so to do, is not for man to judge. De mortuis nil nisi bonum. His was a theory at the time novel in the world, but honestly adopted by him; that theory has now been acted upon for sixteen years, and no longer have our rulers any excuse for continuing it, unless they can show its beneficial effect to the country in that long trial. I will now advert to the advice of the merchants and bankers in those petitions, which have been so frequently alluded to; and I may be allowed to say a few words to show how little right this House has to consider their opinions, as the opinions of the general class of merchants and traders of the metropolis; but only as the opinions of some high mercantile characters, after having had their heads stuffed, and their understandings bewildered, by the artful lectures of the great political economist, M'Culloch, given at the early hour of nine in the morning, to a select few, for his own purpose, and the purpose of those who sent him there. No general meeting was ever called—no communication was ever made to partners of the gentlemen in the same house, but when the lecturer considered them sufficiently primed for his purpose, they were induced to sign individually that first celebrated petition, and then thought worthy to be made members of a political economy club, by which their continued services were thought to be secured in the same line. Whether their late petitions have satisfied the right hon. Gentleman or not, he is the best judge; but, from appearances, they do not seem all to like the snare into which they have been so artfully drawn. Sir, I do now assert, that the experiment which has been made has altogether failed; and as it is not my intention to weary the House by a variety of details, I will confine myself to two points only. The first 366 which I may be fairly allowed to take, as the index to the whole, in regard to shipping, is, that notable reciprocity treaty with Prussia. In that treaty his majesty of Prussia permits the subjects of her Britannic Majesty to trade to all ports, islands, and dependencies, in every part of the world, belonging to Prussia, upon the most favoured terms, and in return for this boon a similar favour is granted to the subjects of Prussia by her Britannic Majesty: thus giving Prussia the range of the whole world, in exchange for admission to a small space within the Baltic. What has been the result? the Prussian shipping in comparison with British engaged in the British trade, was on the average of three years to 1824, in tonnage, 60,668 tons, to 87,896 tons British, or about two-thirds. In the three years after 1824 it was 151,658 tons Prussian, and 134,316 tons British, or more than equal; and in the year 1839, the Prussian was 229,208 tons, and the British only 111,470, more than double the British; thus, instead of having employed our own ships and seamen, have we not only paid Prussia for her timber, but been obliged also to pay her freight for bringing it to us. Has this been made up to us by an increased demand on the part of Prussia for our manufactures? In 1827– 8–9, the export of our manufactures to Prussia on the average of three years was 180,831l., and in the three last years when lean find the return 1837–8–9, it amounts to the vast sum of 164,535l., or 26,000l. less than it was before. Sir, the alteration proposed by her Majesty's Ministers in the duty on timber will again double this vast proportion against us; and by as much reduce the employment of our own ships and seamen. It may be asked, how is it then, that our commercial marine has been kept up, entirely by the increase of our own colonial trade. In 1820, the British and American trade was 343,377 tons, employing 16,819 seamen; and in 1839, 709,896 tons, employing 28,349 seamen. The East-Indies, in 1823, 48,325 tons, employing 3,630 seamen; and in 1839, 138,486 tons, employing 7,772 seamen. The New Holland in 1823, 3,883 tons, employing 222 seamen; and in 1839, 22,376 tons, employing 1,165 seamen. Sir, the hon. Member for Salford has stated, that the manufacturers are in great distress; I especially feel for them, as I would for 367 any other class. He has attributed that distress to the Corn-laws, a greater fallacy cannot exist their best customers for every thing are found at home; and I cannot do better than advert to a petition which I had the honour to present from the parish of Eastwood, in which the petitioners state, that the reduction in the price of corn must be felt by the labourers in the reduction of wages, by every class of shopkeepers and tradesmen, by the loss of custom; and eventually by the manufacturerers themselves —the complainants, who now supply their articles to the shops. In the cotton fabric alone, the value of that part consumed at home, in the labour expended thereon, far exceeds the amount of the sum expended upon the whole of the cotton goods exported to every part of the world. That consumed at home is 11,842,627l., besides the value of the refuse manufactured, which is very considerable; whilst the whole value of that exported, whether in yarn or goods, is only 9,208,446l. These were ports to which alone we could look for any supply of corn, do not in reality take from us much more than the thread itself, for the purpose of their own manufactures, now established by the means of machinery exported from this country under the free trade system. Sir, within my own recollection, every cottager's family throughout the country, by spinning and knitting at home were able to earn, in addition to the men's pay, sufficient to supply them with many additional comforts and necessaries. These the manufacturers have wrested from them by means of their machinery; and the foreigner is now retorting the same upon them. Surely, then, it is too much to be told, that the distress of the manufacturers is owing to the Corn-laws. Sir, that constituency which I have the honour to represent, desire no monopoly; they ask only for that protection which is due to them according to the charges imposed upon them. The speech of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, will give confidence to the country, and will be read with satisfaction by all from one end of the country to the other.
§ Mr. Clay
said, that in the few observations which he had to male he meant strictly to confine himself to the question more immediately before the House, viz.— the proposal for the reduction of the sugar duties. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had been 368 guilty of a most remarkable inconsistency in the arguments which they had put forward against the proposed change. While, on the one hand, they charged Ministers with bringing forward a measure which, by opening the home market to slave-sugar, would have the effect of encouraging slavery and the slave-trade, they, on the other hand, brought forward with great exultation and confidence certain calculations for the purpose of proving that it was utterly impossible that one single pound of slave-grown sugar could be consumed in this country. With regard to the effect of the proposed plan of the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), his opinion was, that the anticipated increased consumption of colonial sugar was by no means fallacious. The fair way of looking at the right hon. Gentleman's plan, in a financial point of view, was either that there would be such a supply of sugar from the British colonies as would produce a sufficient revenue, or that there would be such an introduction of foreign sugar as would produce the same effect. A noble Lord (Lord F. Egerton), on a former night, had said, that the saving that would be gained by the proposed measure would not exceed 1s. 6d. in the cwt, and he argued from thence that no practical benefit would result to the public from so trivial a reduction. But did the noble Lord know what the effect of a reduction of even 1s. in the cwt. would be? A reduction of 1s. on the cwt. would be no less than 200,000l. a-year of the taxation of the country. Reference had been made to the evidence of Mr. Larpent, to show that there would be a large importation of sugar from the East-Indies. But what did Mr. Larpent say? He distinctly stated, that he did not think there could be a large exportation into this country from the East Indies, except at a very high price. He did not see why they should encourage the growth of sugar in the East Indies if it could only be done by bolstering it up by a monopoly. No trade should be encouraged that was not based on its own natural power of production. It was much better to let capital in India be embarked in enterprises that would be more naturally productive. What had been done in the article of cotton? No encouragement was attempted to be given to the growth of cotton in India against the market of the United States, and yet, by the wholesome system pursued, cotton was successfully cultivated in that country. [The hon. 369 Gentleman entered into some minute detail as to the effect of the duties on the various qualities of sugar, with a view to show that, in reality, the proposed plan of her Majesty's Government would give ample protection to the sugar grown in the British colonies.] His right hon. and learned Colleague, to whom he wished to allude with the greatest possible respect appeared to have overlooked the fact that the differential duty gave great discouragement to the growth of sugar by slave-labour. He would not trouble the House by arguing this point, but when so great a stress was laid upon the encouragement of slavery which the present plan would give, he could not help observing that, according to his judgment and experience, the differential duties would operate as a direct and absolute discouragement of slavery. He was himself of opinion, that at the price which must prevail in this country, with the duty proposed by Government, the West Indies could successfully cultivate sugar. That price could not be less than from 30s. to 35s. per cwt. He not only thought, that they might now grow sugar at 35s. a cwt., but that under the stimulus of free trade, the growing of sugar in those colonies would be improved, and go on increasing in productiveness. The noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, seemed to think that his speech would give extraordinary satisfaction to all persons engaged in the sugar trade. In that opinion, he entirely differed from the noble Lord. The merchants of this country must be less acute than he took them to be, if they could accept the counters of the noble Lord for the real bullion upon this question. All that he could collect from the noble Lord's speech was, that it indicated (and that was no usual case with the noble Lord) no inconsiderable degree of alarm—he would repeat the expression—it indicated no inconsiderable degree of alarm, that the country began to apprehend the real nature of the contest between the two great parties in the state—the one party taking for its object the widening and freedom of trade, and the other advocating vested interests and the old system of monopoly and restriction. What did the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, say last night? He said to hon. Members on this side of the House, "You claim credit for advancing principles of free trade. We don't oppose those principles; but your's is not free trade—it is protection." Did the noble Lord really believe, that so shallow a soph- 370 ism would go down with the people of England? Did he mean to say, that free trade could be reconciled with a high rate of duty. Did the noble Lord mean to say, that there was no difference between a duty of 1s. a quarter and 100s. a quarter? that both were merely duties of protection? Did the noble Lord really mean to say, that these were the same thing, and that the whole question was not, in point of fact, one as to the amount of duty? Seeing that the party to which he had the honour to belong had announced their intention to act boldly and efficiently to support free trade, and knowing that they had on other occasions put themselves at the head of great and beneficial reforms of the commercial code, and were formerly the means of introducing Parliamentry Reform, by which they extended popular rights and privileges—so now he rejoiced to belong to that party because they were about to propose to the House of Commons a further reform not less important in our commercial code, which, it was certain, under whatever legislature might exist, would extend the comforts of the people of England, and, as far as could be done by legislative enactment, secure the prosperity of the country.
§ Mr. A. Chapman
Having presented to this House petitions from the Ship-Owners Society of London, being requested by the ship-owners of Liverpool and of South Shields, as well as by my own constituents, to support these petitions, and most strenuously to oppose the measure proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, now the subject of debate, and having, also, in the course of this debate, been personally alluded to by my hon. Friend, the Member for the city of London, and my hon. Friend, the Member for Halifax, I trust I may be allowed to occupy for a short time the attention of the House on the observations I am about to offer on the question of the sugar duties, as that appears to me likely to affect the interest with which I am most connected, viz. the shipping interests of this country. My hon. Friend, the Member for London, has expressed his astonishment that there should be any opposition on the part of that interest to the importation of Brazil sugar, inasmuch as he is of opinion, that any additional import from thence would give increased employment to British tonnage, my reply to this is short and I tell my hon. Friend, that, as by law every pound of sugar imported into Great Britain for home consumption when brought from our 371 own colonies must be imported under a British flag, and being well assured, that if there is any scarcity of production in the West Indies, it can be amply supplied from the borders of the Ganges, where to use an expression of a witness examined before a committee that sat on East-India produce, the Secretary of the Treasury, long resident in India, a most intelligent and capable witness, "that there was no limit to the cultivation and production of sugar in the East Indies." I tell the hon. Member, that I am not willing to relinquish the substance for the sake of the shadow, and so long as the British ship enjoys this privilege, I am unwilling to forego it for any problematical and uncertain advantage that may be held out to me from the promoters of the importation of sugar from any slave - labour country. So much, Sir, for my duty to my constituents; and I now turn to the duty I owe to myself and to the dictates of my own conscience. I cannot, Sir, forget, that six years ago I stated to the electors of the borough I have the honour to represent, my firm and unalterable determination to support any measure proposed by any Government that would tend to extinguish slavery all over the world. Without this pledge given at that period of great excitement by almost every Member who was returned to the first reformed Parliament, few indeed of the present Members of this House would have the opportunity of sitting here to record their opinions for or against this important question now before it, but I ask myself, with what propriety or honour can I repudiate to my constituents, when I next appear before them, the sentiments and declarations I made to them in 1832. No, Sir, whatever may be the consequence I will not violate my word. I have not changed my opinion, that slavery is a great evil. I think it will be perpetuated by the measure offered to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I will be no party to such a proposition as will encourage slave-labour in any part of the world, when I know, that sugar may be produced in any quantity by free labour and by our own subjects. My hon. Friend, the Member for Halifax (and no one knows better the value of British ships and British sailors) has expressed with his usual courtesy, but, to my surprise, his wonder, that I should feel alarmed about the next great measure that is to be proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the subject of the timber duties; it will only, says my hon. Friend, go to 372 destroy a few old rotten ships. This opinion, and the estimate taken by him of the value of British sailors, reminds me of the same opinion expressed by Shylock, where he says—Ships are but boards, sailors are but men,They are no security for my bond.But I will venture to tell my hon. Friend, and I will venture to tell this House, that British ships are something better than boards, and that British sailors are something more than men. Sir, I appeal to the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in corroboration of this assertion, and I ask the noble Lord, if he has not found it so on the coast of Syria, and I ask him, if the service of British admirals, captains, and sailors were not of material assistance to him in carrying into effect his able diplomacy on the Eastern question. Sir, I have sate on the committee on timber duties, where that question was so thoroughly investigated in 1835. I was on the committee on Import duties last year, and when this subject of timber is brought forward, I shall then ask the House to grant me the indulgence of delivering my sentiments on the resolutions of those committees, and on which the present propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer appear to be founded. I know, Sir, that we have been told, that when our Friends on this side of the House come into power they will adopt the same course of proceeding with regard to the duties on sugar and timber, without reference to the injury that may be sustained by the ship-owners of England. I know not, Sir, what the party may do (to which I give my humble support) when in office, but this I do know and believe, that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, will bring in no measure so injurious to Canada against the opinion of the Governor General of that province. I conclude, Sir, by expressing my hope, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, will not persevere in any measure of which the result will be the annihilation of the British mercantile marine, and destruction to the employment of so many ships and so many sailors as such a proposed alteration in the timber duties will be sure to produce, and with every expression of personal respect for that noble Lord's character, although a firm opponent to his general policy, I warn him and I entreat him in the words of a great statesman, "that he will not, for the sake of putting a pepper-corn into the Exchequer, run the risk of de- 373 stroying the best and most important interests of the British Empire." I shall vote, Sir, for the motion of my noble Friend, the Member for Liverpool.
§ Sir E. L. Bulwer
said, that the extreme length to which this debate had been protracted, had, at all events, as it appeared to him, answered the purpose of rendering the principle at issue intelligible. He had listened to the proposition which had been made by the Government, as well as to the arguments which had been brought forward in opposition to it, but he thought, that the question appeared to have been discussed upon two entirely different grounds. First, it had been attempted to be placed upon what was called a high and noble ground, and it was laid down as a broad and general principle that we should not permit the introduction of slave-grown sugars under any conditions. The hon. Member for Antrim had fairly and truly said, that he believed that a monopoly must be sustained; he said, that it was no matter whether they admitted the slave-labour sugar of Cuba, or the free-labour sugar of our own colonies, but that it was to the importation of other sugar than their own, and to an interference with their monopoly, that the West-India proprietors really objected. The hon. Member had thrown down the flimsy veil which had been attempted to be cast around this subject, and he had put the question fairly before the country when he said, that it was one of monopoly only. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, said last night, that he could not place the question upon the same high ground as that on which the hon. Member for Oxford and other hon. Gentlemen had attempted to place it. He had said distinctly, that to do so would be to insulate ourselves from the commercial relations of the world, and he had placed the whole of the opposition to the Government measure upon the object, not of principle, but of money. It might well be a ground for complaint, that by the resolution of the noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool, a declaration of principle was effected, but was not actually made. It might be argued, that the effect of that resolution was, that so long as it was convenient to turn out one Government it must be all humanity; but there was nothing in that resolution, or in the speech of the noble Lord last night, which would prevent them from abandoning those principles which they now contended for, when, at a future time, their object was to 374 keep in another. It was said, that the importation of foreign sugar would operate as an encouragement to slavery and the slave-trade; but how was it, he asked, that they could account for the very remarkable fact, that that very sugar was now imported to this country for the purpose of exportation, which our own population were forbidden to use? Though hon. Gentlemen might dislike the term hypocritical, as applied to those West-Indian proprietors who were seized with such a sudden horror of slave-grown sugar, he asked, what it could be called but hypocrisy, when a state of things like this should be allowed to exist, that when, although the introduction of such sugar might be countenanced as being applicable to foreign consumption, they would not permit any portion of the sugar introduced to be used for the wants of our own population. If this were not hypocrisy, he knew not what was. So far as the question really at issue went, he thought, that it was a question only of application of a principle, and not of the principle itself; the real question was, whether they would proceed to procure their object by opening a market, or by maintaining and invigorating a market already existing. The people of England, he thought, neither could nor would understand the subtile distinction attempted to be drawn between the exportation of slave-grown sugar and the retaining of a smaller portion of that which was imported for the purpose of supplying the wants of our own countrymen. Where was the true principle if they did not render it applicable to all classes of articles? But if they permitted the introduction of one article the produce of slave-labour, he could not see why any distinction should be drawn by which others were shut out. The only answer which had been afforded to this suggestion had been given by the right hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, by the right hon. Member for Newark, and the noble Lord last night; and each of them had argued, that it was not because one article was introduced, that all-should be so; but if this principle could not be carried out as to the great articles of trade, why, he asked, should it be applied to any? more especially when the House said, that there was no alternative but to take the course which was now proposed by the Government, or to submit to the imposition of new taxes on an already overtaxed and oppressed people. Being a Member representing an agricultural constituency, and entertaining, as he always 375 had, even before he had the honour of appearing in that House as the representative of that constituency, a very strong feeling with regard to an adequate degree of protection afforded to the landed interest, he might be permitted to say a few words further upon this subject. Undoubtedly, he was in favour of protection in preference to prohibition. He believed, that the land was entitled to an adequate share of protection, and he confessed he was not satisfied with the degree of protection which the noble Lord proposed to afford. But, entertaining these feelings, and not being thoroughly convinced, that such a sufficient protection was proposed to be given, but, at the same time, possessing a strong opinion, that the moment had arrived when some change was desirable, he did not see how these sentiments obliged him to band himself with the friends of all monopoly whatsoever. He believed, too, that the agricultural interests needed no such alliance, but that the demands of their case would place them upon such a footing as that they would suffer no injustice at the hands of the House.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he was anxious to state the opinion which he entertained upon the subject now before the House. It was a subject to which he had given a great deal of attention, and he had endeavoured to make himself fully acquainted with it. He assured the House, that no man had ever entered upon an enquiry with a greater desire to ascertain the truth than he had done in reference to this question, the duties on Customs' imports. Ever since he had had the honour of holding a seat in that House (which was a period of more than thirty years) he never had given a vote the tendency of which was not to free the commerce of the country from its shackles and restrictions, and thereby to give the talents and capital of England their full scope and operation. It was on that true Radical principle, that he, as an advocate of free trade, had acted, and he would also say, that he had never given a vote which did not go equally to the extension of popular rights, and to shake off the oppression of the aristocracy. Four nights of the debate had now passed, and he was pleased to think, that the information which had been elicited would be of great importance to many hon. Members who had not sufficiently considered the subject before; but, above all, it would afford highly important information to the country at large;—it would shew what 376 were the real sentiments; of the majority of that House; and if they had a little further discussion, he thought, that notwithstanding the attempt of the hon. Gentlemen opposite to mystify the question, the country would be made aware of the real merits of the plan submitted to the House by the Government, as well as of its demerits. Two nights had passed without the possibility of its being ascertained what hon. Members opposite intended to do, or what object they had in view in refusing to go into a Committee to consider the existing laws on the importation of sugar, except that of refusing to afford any relief to the people by the reduction of taxation, and at the same time of turning out the present Ministry. The hon. Member for Dover, indeed, had wittily and frankly said, that the result of the discussion was of little importance except so far as it tended to secure this end. No doubt that was the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Of course, they being patriots and friends of humanity could have no other object but that of the strongest desire to place able and talented men in the Government in lieu of those who now so inefficiently occupied its benches. The speeches of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) on the third night of the debate, and the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) the Member for North Lancashire, on the fourth night of the debate, had tended in some degree to draw aside the veil which had before hung over the proceedings of the Tory party, and had shown that their object was to obtain place, and to do nothing for the country, and as regarded sugar, they intended "to let things alone." At first an attempt had been made to limit the question, which he did not hesitate to say was of the very highest importance to the country; he would add even more important to the industrious classes than any other question which had been brought forward during the time he had sat in Parliament, to the narrow point connected with sugar only. But he was not disposed to confine himself to the narrow discussion of such a question merely. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had been accused of bringing forward the question without any necessity, and at a time which was very ill-chosen. He had expected from hon. Gentlemen who had brought forward this charge of want of necessity, that if there was any one question of more importance than another in 377 their views, it would have been the maintenance of faith with the public creditors of this country, and to provide so as to enable us to pay all just demands. He would not enter at present into how or wherefore the great expense had been incurred—or into the policy of the lavish expenditure, by increase of the naval and military establishments, which left the country two millions and a-half in debt; but he would only say in passing, that there was no hon. Member opposite disapproved more of the course which had been taken, and which had changed a surplus revenue of one million and a-half sterling to a deficient revenue of two millions and a-half sterling, than he did. He had done all that he could when the estimates were before the House to prevent it, but it was neither the one side nor the other of the House which had produced this result, but both sides had urged on an unnecessary and lavish expenditure by an increase of our establishments which had led to the present state of things. And he would here once for all take the opportunity of noticing the blame which had been cast upon the Government for having established the Penny Postage, and thereby diminished the revenue of the Post-office. That charge of blame afforded to his (Mr. Hume's) mind clear evidence of the ignorance of hon. Members on that subject. The adoption of the Penny Post had not diminished our general revenue. The revenue of the United Kingdom had been higher during the last three years than in the three years preceding. In order to dispel the unfair statements which had been put forth from time to time on this subject he would refer to a return—(Parliamentary paper, 268 of 1841)—which had been laid upon the Table of the House, the substance of which ought to be better known than it was. From that return it appeared, that the net income from the ordinary revenues was—
Shewing an increase of revenue of 675,101l., in each of the three last more than in the three first years. A proof that the aggregate amount of the revenue had not diminished, as the revenue from the Post-office had been decreased. [An. Hon. 378 Member: What was the amount of the Post-office revenue?] He had included that revenue in the amount which he had referred to. Hon. Gentlemen did not appear to know what the aggregate amount was. They seemed to think, that because there was a reduction in the revenue in one article, it could not be made up by another. Besides the loss of revenue from the Post-office, there had been a deficiency also in the revenue from sugar last year, amounting to 1,000,000l, and which had effected the aggregate of the revenue as much as the Post-office. It would appear that there had been no remission of taxes which was more likely to benefit the country, looking at it as promoting commerce, science and morals than the reduction of the postage. By the reduction of the rates of postage, 100 millions more of letters had been written and had passed to different parts of the country in one year than before; and he would ask whether such an increase of the correspondence of the country could take place without producing great advantages in every way? The increase of the revenue for the last three years over the three preceding years, having been annually 675,000l., notwithstanding the reduction of taxation, shewed the tendency of the revenue to increase in other branches after reduction in any one. It reflected discredit on that House, as keepers of the public purse, to have allowed the revenue so increased to be exceeded by the expenditure for establishments so large; those large establishments however had been sanctioned by the House; the House had approved of those high estimates for the current year; they had been carried by large majorities. In the last four years we had incurred a debt for these increased establishments of from five to six millions; and in the present year we had still further increased them by one million and a half. He therefore certainly expected that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), and the noble Lord (Lord Sandon) opposite to admit, that this was not an improper time, whoever might be Minister, to consider how this deficiency was to be made up. He had heard a taunt thrown out against Ministers, that this measure was brought forward without one consideration, and as a mere matter of political expediency for the moment; and what was the proof? It was said, that last year a motion was made by the hon. Member for Wigan, to reduce the duty on foreign sugar to 36s.; he had had the 379 pleasure of supporting that motion, and he had regretted the opposition then given; and now it was taken for granted, that as the Government had voted against that measure last Session, they were prevented from bringing forward the same measure in this. Now, he looked only to the value of the proposed measure. He cared not whether it was the result of the deliberation of a day, a week, or a year; he thought that it was a measure that was called for in justice to the people, and he should therefore give it his zealous support. When, however, her Majesty's Ministers were taunted with a change of opinion on the subject, he could look back to many changes in the opinions of hon. Members opposite that had been much greater, and in shorter periods; and he never would taunt hon. Members with a change in their opinion and measures that was likely to do good. When the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, came forward in 1829 and seconded the efforts of the Duke of Wellington to effect Catholic emancipation, which the right hon. Baronet had always strenuously opposed, did he blame the right hon. Baronet? Not at all; he always gave him great credit for his proceedings on that very important occasion. The right hon. Baronet had acted as he hoped he ever would act, for the public welfare; he yielded to the exigencies of the time. Let hon. Members read the letter of the right hon. Baronet, of the 25th of August, 1829, in which he stated the reasons for his course, and that he would rather have retired from Parliament, than have assisted in carrying the measure of emancipation, which he believed would be prejudicial in its operation; but in deference to the opinions of the noble Duke, who had stated, that rather than have one day of civil war in Ireland, he would carry that or any other measure which he thought calculated to secure the peace of the country. He could mention many other changes of policy in that House by former Ministers; and he was surprised that the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) should make such a charge of inconsistency of conduct against Ministers, when it was well known that the noble Lord had made more sudden changes, and those without sufficient reason than any other man since he (Mr. Hume) had been in Parliament. He need only refer to one. When the noble Lord brought in the Irish Tithe Bill, in 1833, there was a clause (No. 147) for appropriating the surplus of Church pro- 380 perty to public uses, which would be ever memorable in that House; on a division that clause was carried by a majority of upwards of 300, and yet in the course of forty-eight hours the noble Lord came down and called on the House to reject that very clause, on stating, that in the interval he has changed his opinion. There were many other instances of the noble Lord's political inconsistency, which he could state, and yet the noble Lord, forgetting what he had done himself, came forward and charged that (the Ministerial) side of the House with tergiversation and vaccillating conduct. The noble Lord seldom spoke without due deliberation and preparation; and when he charged his late Friends with tergiversation, he (Mr. Hume) must say, that the noble Lord was the last man who ought to make such a charge. Did he blame him for that change of opinion? No, but he did blame him for challenging and accusing others for doing that which he had himself so often done. Her Majesty's Ministers had been further charged, that they had brought forward the reduction of duty on foreign sugar at an inopportune time. It was clear that some measure must be adopted for raising a deficient revenue. If be could have induced hon. Members to act with him, he would have cut down the expenditure very soon, by reducing the large and unnecessary military establishments; but the House had determined that the estimates were necessary and proper, and they therefore ought to provide the means of paying for them. There never had been a period, during the long time that he had been a public man, in which there was a greater degree of distress among the working classes than at the present moment; when our manufacturers were more pressed to keep their works going; when trade was more paralized, or when there was more difficulty of carrying on business without loss. He had seen letters from different parts of the country, stating the stoppage of the work of mills to four days a week in many places; and that some had been shut up altogether. He had supported the Poor-law bill by which the working classes were thrown upon their resources, to provide for themselves by their own industry, and yet an act of Parliament prevented their obtaining employment. Parliament, by laws, had prohibited the import of food except at exorbitant prices, which restricted the foreign trade of the country and deprived the people of the means by 381 which they could obtain employment, and they were left to the workhouse as their only resource. There were no signs of the times that ought to be more attended to than these of a starving discontented population. Was there any thing in the state of London that ought to attract attention? The late Governor of the Bank (Sir John Reid) had been very facetious last night, and had told them that there was no despondency, yet in the same breath he said that there was no buying and selling, and no one knew where he could make a shilling. Was that an usual occurrence, and was it the way in which the commerce of this country could be maintained? The distress had not yet reached the landed interest, because the landlords were fattening upon the other classes, and it was to maintain their high rents and luxury that these laws were upheld. He maintained, then, that the time was come when the House ought to apply a remedy, and he was only sorry that it had been delayed so long. He was confident that if her Majesty's Government at the commencement of the present Session had been acquainted with the great and increasing distress that existed, and with the real state of the commerce of the country, they would sooner have brought forward these remedial measures. He would not, however, throw out any reflections on that account against Ministers, but would express his great satisfaction that now they had proposed these excellent measures for the purpose of finance, and as part of what they intended to bring forward to remove as speedily as possible the distress of the country. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, admitted that the deficiency should be made up, but neither he nor any one on the opposite side had informed the House by what method that deficiency was to be made up. Perhaps this might be the proper parliamentary course, but he thought that when the proposal of the Ministers was to be rejected, that in the circumstances in which the country was now placed, some proposal ought to have been made by those who rejected it. The hon. Member for Whit by (Mr. Chapman) had said that he (Mr. Hume) was a free-trader, and was for buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market. That was his opinion, and he entirely agreed in the definition of ' free-trade' given by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire; but unfortunately for the country, prohibitions and restrictions existed to a great extent; and 382 the measure of her Majesty's Ministers was an approximation only to free-trade, he hoped further that it would be ere long the rule of Parliament that there should be no taxation except for the purposes of the revenue of the country; for he held that no money ought, by what is called ' protection,' to be taken out of the pockets of one individual to go into the pockets of any other individual as that was highly unjust; and he held, further, that they ought, for the purposes of revenue, to place the smallest possible amount of duty even upon those articles which were for the consumption of the mass of the people, and of course upon food. Let him ask, however, whether such was the case at the present moment? And here he must say, that the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire had properly taunted her Majesty's Government for claiming the merit of a measure of free-trade, if they continue to lay a greater rate of duty upon goods coming from one port than upon those coming from another, where, he would ask, was the free-trade? It was not free-trade—it was only an approximation to free-trade. The proposal of a noble Lord (Lord John Russell) still maintained protection; it was therefore only a reduction of the present high duties to others of a smaller amount; and if the noble Lord near him had come forward and claimed for his measure the merit of free-trade, he agreed with the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) that he was not entiled to do so. But the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, in the able speech which he had debated on introducing the motion, ha4 claimed no such merit, he had been perfectly candid. He had admitted that the principle he was advocating was not a new one; that it had been brought forward by; Mr. Huskisson and acted upon by that gentleman with great benefit to the country. He did not claim the merit of introducing any new plan, he said only that in the present measure he had been contented to follow the good example of Mr. Huskisson in taking away prohibition and substituting protection, leaving the question to be decided in the committee whether that protection was sufficient or not; and the noble Lord had said, further, that he would be content to give all the credit to Mr. Huskisson, and to his friends, if he were only allowed and assisted by them to carry out his present proposal. These were the principles propounded in the masterly speech of the noble Secretary for the Colo- 383 nies, and he only regretted that a result would not follow so speedily as the state of the country required, and equal to the merits of that exposition. There was no claim to a system of free-trade in that speech; why, then, should the noble Lord be taunted with bringing forward a proposal for free-trade? He wished that there had been a proposal for the removal of all restrictions and protections; and he was satisfied, that ere long they must come to free-trade. He would not only address himself to the statements of the hon. Member for Antrim, or of the noble Lord (Lord Sandon) with regard to sugar, but he would refer to the memorial of the Council and Assembly of Jamaica as that plainly stated what they required. They stated, that they "had heard, that the prohibitory duty on foreign sugar was to be withdrawn;" thus admitting that there was a prohibitory duty. The right hon. Member for Cambridge had beat about the bush, but the Council demanded prohibition and nothing else; for they went on to state, "that the admission into the home market of sugar, not the produce of her Majesty's colonies would oblige those colonies to enter into competition with other colonies possessing advantages superior, and that such a competition would be fruitless." These were the statements of the friends of the hon. Member for Antrim, who had informed the House, that the colonies must have prohibition, as also their new ally, the right hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, had stated last year. The conduct of that right hon. Member was the more extraordinary, as he had agreed to resolutions and had maintained, that free labour was more profitable than slave labour. At the public meeting of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery. Society, in Exeter Hall, on the 18th of June, 1840, the following resolutions were agreed to:—
Yearly Average. £ £ In the year ending 5th January. 1836 46,870,828 46,828,432 In the year ending 5th January. 1837 48,340,955 In the year ending 5th January. 1838 45,873,505 In the year ending 5th January. 1839 47,607,209 47,503,533 In the year ending 5th January. 1840 47,685,223 In the year ending 5th January. 1841 47,218,1781. That upon the evidence of facts to which the attention of this convention has been directed, it is satisfactorily established, as a general axiom, that free labour is more profitable to the employer, and consequently cheaper than slave-labour.That of all kinds of slave labour, that of imported slaves has been demonstrated to be most costly and least productive.He was pleased to be able to inform the House that he (Mr. H.) had this day received from five anti-slavery associations in different parts of the kingdom assurances, that the conduct of the right hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets 384 (Dr. Lushington) had given dissatisfaction, and complaining that he had acted rashly in joining the sugar planters in the anti-slavery cry, and in resisting the proposal of Ministers. The Ministers had come forward, not to make this a question of sugar, or timber, or corn, but as he (Mr. Hume) believed to revise the whole tariff, and by reduction of duties on these three principal articles of import to make up the deficiency of the revenue. The President of the Board of Trade had not done his duty to the cause in not explaining to the House what he meant to do on the whole subject —whether he meant to revise the entire tariff. At present, therefore, the House was proceeding somewhat in the dark, and that he considered to be a mistake of Ministers. Even before this debate terminated, he had hopes that the right hon. Gentleman, (the President of the Board of Trade) would supply the defect by explaining fully the intentions of Ministers with regard to all other articles now subject to high duties. They ought to carry out their principles as far as possible, to free-trade from protective duties, and finish their work as well as they had begun it. He did not approve of the rates of duty fixed on sugar, being of opinion that they had not sufficiently lowered the duty on colonial sugar, and that they ought to reduce it to 18s. or 20s., the amount existing in 1801. The country should understand that the object of Ministers was to raise money without new taxations; and what was the object of their opponents?— to continue protection, or in other words, to tax the consumer of sugar, and of corn, for the sake of the planter and owner of the soil. This protection tax was not for any general, or national purpose, but to fill the pockets of the planters and landlords, who were thus to be supported at the expense of the rest of the community. He would prove, before he sat down, that the reduction on sugar would be not a centesimal part of the farthing, as some Members asserted, but a substantial two or three pence in the pound weight, so that the benefit to the consumer would be important. To revert to remarks on corn, by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Captain Hamilton), who had stated that cheap bread necessarily implied low wages; whilst he asserted that all experience showed that the fact was directly the reverse for whenever bread was cheap, wages were high, and artizans had work, food, lodging and clothing. This held good in England, but the strongest proof was to be found in 385 the United States of America, where food was cheap, and wages high. He would show, that upon every quarter of wheat at the time he spoke, by the Gazette price, a tax of not less than 23s. was paid to the landlord. Yet the landed aristocracy pretended to be extraordinarily humane, and cried out in high places, "God forbid that we should tax the bread of the people !" Five millions of men, the industrious classes, had no voice in the House of Commons, and hence the manner in which the people were taxed by the landed aristocracy. It was for the serious consideration of the country, that whilst the whole revenue of the country for the support of the army, navy, and public establishments was fifty millions, not less than fifty millions more were extorted in the shape of the bread-tax by landlords. The amount of fifty millions sterling was on the calculation that was raised, 10s. per quarter by the monopoly; but if 20s. per quarter of increased price were paid to the landlord, (and he believed it amounted to at least that sum), the bread-tax upon the nation would not be less than one hundred millions a year. The hon. Member for Newark had talked very pathetically of grinding the bones and sinews of the negroes in Cuba and the Brazils into gold; but had he no compassion for the labouring classes of this country, whose bones and sinews were ground into by the bread-tax, to add to the expenditure of the landlords? [" Hear," and same confusion.] He was sure, that those who made this disturbance were landlords,; the authors of the evils of which he complained, who did not like to be thus reminded of the effect of their monopoly of food. He asserted, that but for the Corn-laws, the trade of the country would at this time be most flourishing. The accursed Corn-laws interfered in every way with the comfort and happiness of the people—they prevented them from exchanging their labour for food—they prevented them from getting work and wages, and thereby many were obliged to lie down and die while the landlords stood over them contented and satisfied. This was not a matter to be treated with levity, it was highly unbecoming in any man so to conduct himself, when the sufferings of his fellow-creatures were described, and especially if he by bad laws was the cause of such sufferings. He should like to see the hon. Member for Newark, and others who had spoken so pathetically of the cruelty to the slaves extend a little of their sympathy towards the industrious and oppressed 386 classes of their fellow men more starving in some parts of the country. The next sufferers were the merchants and manufacturers; and the farmers were also beginning to open their eyes and to be aware of the delusion practised upon them by supporting the Corn-laws. The Duke of Buckingham here stated, that the farmers were men without guile; he wished he could say as much for the landlords; they had contrived to impose for a long while upon their tenants by persuading them that the Corn-laws were for their benefit alone; but those tenants were gradually becoming sensible of the manner in which they had been imposed upon—that the Corn-laws had put money into the pockets of the owners of the soil often to the injury of the farmer, and to the constant and great injury of the rest of the community. As he had already said, not less than fifty millions on the estimate of 10s. per quarter of advanced price were annually taken out of the pockets of the consumers that it might be put into the pockets of the rich. The consequence of this heavy landlord's tax was, that much difficulty was found in collecting the taxes for the service of the State; and hence, in truth, the failure of the budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of last year. He desired the House and the country to know, that, what was called protection was only another word for taxation; but he trusted that the people, and even the farmers, were no longer to be deceived by these words. What was the object of the Ministerial measure? On the Ministerial side of the House, the object was to reduce the burdens of the people: on the Opposition side, the struggle was to increase them, not for the general purposes of the nation at large, but to enable planters and landlords to keep up their expensive establishments. He had made a calculation of the amount of the tax which the people had paid to the planters on the sugar, molasses, and coffee, consumed by them in the last year (1840) amounting to between five and six millions, by what is called ' protection on sugar and coffee alone.'
The quantity of sugar consumed was in cwts. 3,594,834*, and the price in bond was on an average of the whole year 49s. 1d. per cwt.; whilst the price of foreign sugar in bond was 21s. 6d. per cwt., shewing the difference in price per cwt. of 27s. 7d., which amounted in the year to £4,957,875* (P.P. 290 of 1841.)387
besides a loss to the revenue of between three and 400,000l. by the decreased consumption of sugar which the people must make up by other taxes. The effects of monopoly of sugar were clearly proved by the statement he held in his hand.
The quantity of molasses consumed was 423,126 cwts.,* and the difference in bond between the price of foreign and of British molasses was 14s., making an increase of price to the consumer of £296,188 The quantity of coffee consumed was 28,723,735 lbs.,† the protection duty of 3d. per lb. and 1d. expense of extra freight to the Cape of Good Hope, making an increase of price of 4d. per lb. being on the whole quantity £478,728 Making by protection an additional tax on the consumer, on these three articles of £5,732,791
§ The consumption in the United Kingdom was—
|in 1821||in 1840|
|of tea||26,386,873lbs||and 32,262,905 lbs.|
|of coffee||7,593,000lbs||and 28,723,735|
|lbs. 33,979,873||lbs. 60,986,640|
§ The consumption of sugar in 1821 was 3,056,882 cwts., and if there had been an increase of 80 per cent, 2,445,505 cwts, the rate of income of tea and coffee 5,502,387 cwts. would have been the quantity consumed, whereas only 3,594,834 cwts. or 15 per cent, increase were consumed. If the increase had been the same as coffee and tea, viz. 80 per cent., the increase of revenue to the Government would have been 2,394,000l. at 24s. duty; and more, if foreign sugar at 36s. per cwt. had made any part of that increase. In the consumption of tea and coffee, there had been an increase of 80 per cent., while on sugar, under the protective duties, there had only been an increase of 15 per cent. And, it is therefore evident, that tea and coffee have been largely used without sugar. The consumption of sugar has decreased during the last forty years, as the duty had increased. In 1801, when the duty was 20s., the consumption was 28½lbs. per head; in 1811, when the duty had been increased, the consumption, al-
§ *(P. P. 61 of 1841.)
§ † (P. P. 61 of 1841.)388
§ lowing for the increase of population in the interval, was only 221bs. per head; in 1821, it had dropped down to 211bs. per head; in 1831, when the price was low, (only 47s.) the consumption rose to the rate of 231bs. per head; but in 1840, the consumption decreased to 14½lbs. per head. Such had been the effect of the prohibitive duties on the consumption of sugar; whilst the consumption of coffee had increased in consequence of the admission of foreign-grown coffee into the home-market, though at 50 per cent, increase of duty. Had foreign-grown sugar been admitted, the same result would have followed, and the deficiency of the revenue would have been supplied. He held in his hand tables prepared to prove these assertions. The probable result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget for raising 700,000l. a-year by admitting foreign sugar at a duty of 36s. per cwt., or 12s. more than British colonial sugar, may be demonstrated by what has actually taken place in the consumption and duty on the article of coffee, another colonial article. The duty of 1s. 3d. per pound on foreign coffee had been, nearly a prohibitive duty (as 63s. per cwt. has been of sugar) until, in 1838 it was discovered, that by landing foreign coffee at the Cape of Good Hope, and obtaining a certificate of the same, the coffee could be admitted to British consumption at a duty of 9d. per lb., or 50 per cent more duty than on British colonial coffee, although the circuitous voyage from Hayti or Brazil to the Cape occasioned an increase of freight and charges of about 1d. per lb., yet the importation has been carried on to a large extent, with benefit to the consumer and to the public revenue, as appears by the following account:—
|The amount of gross revenue from coffee consumed in the United Kingdom, in each of the four years 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, was.—|
|Of British growth at 6d. per lb||699,400||565,246||451,860||374,736|
|Of Foreign growth via. C. of Good Hope, 9d. per lb. and 1d. charge||230||121,073||327,993||548,126|
|Making the yearly Revenue from Coffee||£699,630||£686,319||£779,833||£922,862|
|(1.) P. P. 38. 1839.||(3.) P. P. 61. 1841.|
|(2.) P. P. 80. 1840.||(4.) Ditto.|
§ By this statement it will be seen, that if no foreign coffee had been admitted, there would have been a loss of revenue on coffee of 324,664l. sterling in the year 1840 as compared with the year 1837 (which is the amount of the decrease of the duty on British coffee in those three years). But that, by the admission of foreign coffee at a protective duty of 3d. per lb. or 50 per cent., the aggregate revenue on coffee has been increased in these three years 223,232l. Thus, by allowing foreign coffee to fill up the deficient supply of the British colonial coffee, the duty on foreign coffee increased 547,896l. sterling, whilst the duty on British coffee fell off' 324,664l. sterling. He (Mr. Hume) asserted that the same results would be produced by admitting foreign sugar at 36s. to fill up the deficiency of the British colonial sugar. He would read a statement to show the quantity of British colonial sugar, East and West Indies and Mauritius, consumed (per P. P 290, 1841) in the United Kingdom. It was as follows:—
|And the deficiency of the supply in these years||45,145||129,211||316|
§ If this deficiency of supply of British colonial sugar in the year 1838, viz. 45,145 cwts., had been made up by the admission of foreign sugar at 36s. per cwt., the revenue would have been viz:-—
|In the year 1838, the actual revenue from British sugar at 24s. per cwt., was||£4,656,892|
|And if the deficient supply of 45,145cwts. had been made up by foreign sugar at 36s.per cwt., there would have been added to the revenue||81,261|
|And the revenue of the year would have been||£4,738,153|
|In the year 1839, the actual revenue from sugar was||£4,586,936|
|And if the deficiency of colonial sugar of 29,211cwts. had been made up by foreign sugar at 36s. per cwt., there would have been added||232,579|
|And the revenue of the year would have been||£4,819,515|
|In the year 1840, the actual receipt for sugar duty was||£4,449,070|
|And if the deficiency of colonial sugar of that year of 359,976 cwts. had been made up by foreign at 36s., there would have been added||647,956|
|And the revenue of the year would have been||£5,097,026|
Thus supposing no increase in the consumption of sugar to have taken place in the years 1838, 1839, or 1840, but that it had remained stationary, the deficiency being supplied by foreign sugar at 36s. per cwt. the revenue would have been 5,097,026 in 1840, instead of 4,449,070l. which was a clear proof that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have received in the last year nearly the sum he estimates for the ensuing year. And if the consumption had increased in a small degree, as coffee and tea did, the revenue would have been larger. By the last advices it appeared almost a certainly that the crop of sugar in Demerara and the rest of the West-India Islands for the current year would be less than that of the last year. Government was therefore called upon to provide against the possibility of the price of sugar being this year as high as it was last year; and he considered that they were perfectly justified in resorting to the means which they now proposed to adopt for making up the revenue. He was willing to concede a fair protection to the West-India interest for some time, but the proposed duty instead of being a protection of 50 per cent., was, in reality, a protection of 80 per cent. Taking the price of West-India sugar at 61s., as it bad been stated to be by the hon. Member for Antrim, there would have to be deducted from that amount; first, 24s. and 5 per cent., or 25s. 2d. for the amount of duty paid, and a further sum of 7s. 10d. for insurance, freight, and other expenses, leaving a clear net price of 28s, for which the shipper in Jamaica could draw upon his agent. Then supposing foreign sugar to sell for the same price (61s.), there would have to be deducted, first, for duty, 36s. and 5 per cent., or 37s. 9d. For freightage, insurance, and other expenses, 7s. 10d., the same amount as had been deducted upon the West-India grower's returns, which left to the foreign grower only 15s. 5d. If the Jamaica grower received 28s. net
returns, and the Cuba grower only 15s. 5d., this difference of 12s. 7d. on 15s. 5d. amounted to a protection of 81 per cent., which he thought was a sufficient protecting duty. For his part, he thought that this protecting duty ought not to be permanent, but it should be reduced by degrees. He had another proof to offer of the effect of the prohibitory duties in raising the price to the consumer. A paper which was laid on the fable of the House this Session (No. 290 of 1841) showed what the difference of price had been between British Muscovado sugar and Brazil sugar in bond. It appeared that from the year 1823 to 1835 the price of British colonial was 30s. 3d., and of Brazil 25s. 2d., per cwt., making the difference between these sugars in bond, taking the annual average, 5s. 7d.; and if the bounty upon West-India sugar when refined and exported was deducted, they would be found to have been at exactly the same price. During- all this period there was a surplus of West-India sugar. But during the last five years, when the supply of West-India sugar was falling oft, namely, from the years 1836 to 1840, he found that, in 1836 the difference was 12s. 1d.; in 1837, 13s. 4d.; in 1838, 12s. 5d.; in 1839, 17s. 1d.; and in 1840, the difference was 27s. 7d. In the last year, therefore, the people of this country paid in the shape of protection 3d. per pound upon sugar; but on the average of these five years, the price was 39s. 6d. for British Colonial, and 22s. 9d. for Brazil, and the difference 16s. 9d. per cwt. He would ask, ought such a state of things to be allowed to continue? The average difference of price by protection for these five years was 16s. 8d.; and the people of this country during that period had consumed 18,753,307 cwts. of sugar, and consequently had paid the enormous sum of 15,236,000l. taxation in the shape of protection to the sugar monopolists. If this was not plunder of the people, by law, he should like to know what was plunder. He would say, put an end to protection by degrees, if they would, but do it, and get out of a bad system into a good one. Looking at all our experience in the reduction of duties from the year 1815 to the present time, he defied any person to find an instance in which relaxation of protection (i. e. reduction of import duties) did not extend the commerce and promote the interests of the country and
the comforts of the consumer. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, had quoted a Liverpool price current. Why the very price currents denied the objections and arguments of the noble Lord. Why, he would ask, was it, that in the price current referred to by the noble Lord, it was stated that the measures announced by the Government could not be carried out? Why? Not because it was improper to reduce the duty, but because the whole landed interest was banded against them. He also would refer to a Liverpool price current of the 1st of May in the present year, in which he found the following statement: —
The able and enlightened views, however, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as developed in the Budget of the 30th ult., give us every encouragement to anticipate the removal of those hindrances of wealth and prosperity, those checks to enterprise, those results of a cramped and ignorant policy—the heavy protective (alas! prohibitory) import duties. We may also hope for a moderate fixed, instead of a sliding scale of duty for wheat and Hour, so as to admit a constant supply from the United States and the corn countries of Europe. A direct trade, which has been dormant for years, will also be opened with those states which formerly exported vast quantities of timber to this country, but now only know the country by name or the trade from tradition.
Was this to be interpreted as disapproving of the measures of Government? Quite the contrary; and he was sure, that the price current of every merchant unconnected with the monopolists, would state the same thing. Now, with respect to the remarks of the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Colquhoun) he must say, that the hon. Gentleman was very inconsistent: no man indeed was more inconsistent in his statements, with the exception of the hon. Member for Beverly (Mr. Hogg). The hon. Member for Kilmarnock was, or pretended to be, a free trader, and said, he was anxious to get rid of monopoly; but greatly to his surprise, the hon. Member objected to the reduction of the duty on foreign sugar, and seemed to be delighted at the prospect of getting the present Government out of the Treasury Benches, which overcome the hon. Gentleman's love of free trade ["hear, hear"]. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock asked where were to be found those who called for an alteration of the Sugar-duties? Did the hon. Member ever read the petitions that
were presented to that House; if not, he did; and he could tell the hon. Member that scarcely a petition on the subject of the revision of the Tariff and measures proposed by Government was presented, that did not mention the article of sugar. The hon. Gentleman also said, let the merchants and manufacturers who demand cheap sugar come forward, and say that they required no protection for their own trade. Why, they had done so publicly, again, and again. Deputations from many towns had made that declaration. The town of Dundee had come to a resolution, which he held in his hand, that they were ready to give up all protection for the linen trade, their principal trade, and that they were ready to meet the whole world, if the Corn-laws were repealed. He was warranted in saying, that, looking at the distressed state of the country, at the unanimous wish of every merchant and manufacturer, looking at the deficiency of the revenue, the Government was justified in not simply attempting to restore the revenue, but in placing it on a more just and firm basis. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) had last night made a statement which would tell upon the country with as much effect as the famous declaration of the Duke of Wellington against Reform. The noble Lord used these words—
He agreed that the seed which had now been sown would produce its fruit: but he feared that it would be the fruit of bitter animosity between the contending classes for many years; he feared that it would aggravate those jealousies and rivalries between the agricultural and manufacturing interests, which every former Government had sought rather to soothe and heal than to aggravate.
§ He differed from the noble Lord in one part, and believed that many years would not elapse before the noble Lord would find out his mistake. He would find to his cost, as the Duke of Wellington did, that a famishing people were not easily restrained, [" Pooh, pooh."] They might say "pooh, pooh," but it only proved, that they had given little reflection to so serious a subject, and, thought nothing of those who were starving through their class and selfish legislation. The Government had begun late with their good measures, but it was never too late to do well. They had stated to the country what their plan was, and it now only remained for the President of the Board of Trade to explain 394 more fully what he meant to do in the revision of the tariff and in the reduction of the duties. There were many other articles besides sugar, timber, and corn, which it was necessary to deal with; and he would tell the Government that they must go through with the revision of all, there must be no compromise. They might talk of the thousands of slaves that were sacrificed in Cuba and Brazil to the Moloch of sugar, but look at the thousands of our own countrymen who were daily sacrificed to the Moloch of Corn-laws; and let the hon. Member for Newark look at the bones and sinews of the best portion of the people, ground down by poor-laws and protection, to pamper the appetites of the rich. The Government had been taught by long experience, that they must not seek support from the other side; the aristocracy were ready to trample upon them, let Ministers then take the part of the people, let them legislate for the benefit of the people at large and not allow the laws to favour the few— let them inscribe on their banners, "down with taxation for protection, down with the Corn-laws, down with all monopolies," and the people would support them. He hoped, that although the noble Lord should lose this vote, he would not be alarmed, but still adhere to the views which he had so nobly expressed the other evening. Let the noble Lord stand by his colours, and he had no doubt that the people would support him and carry him triumphantly through in spite of all opposition.
§ Debate again adjourned.