The Earl of March
said,—Sir: In rising to move an humble Address in Answer to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne, I am satisfied I am only expressing the feelings of this House, and here, I state that they concur in the voice of the nation which has hailed with the liveliest joy and gratification, the safety, under the blessing of Divine Providence of our beloved Sovereign, and 41 the birth of the Prince of Wales, If any thing could have added to that feeling of joy, so universally expressed, it would be, Sir, the gratification, which we all must feel, that the christening of the youthful Prince was celebrated under the auspices of a Monarch who is eminently distinguished as a patron of the arts and sciences, and a firm and zealous supporter of the Protestant faith. I am sure, Sir, that every Member of this House, will, with one accord, offer their humble and heartfelt congratulations to Her Majesty and her Royal Consort, on an event, with which Her Majesty's happiness, and that of her people, is so closely and intimately connected. Sir, I have now shortly to allude to some of the other topics which are contained in the Speech; and foremost among them I must refer to the friendly feelings which exist between foreign powers and this country, holding out as it does, the prospect, that one of the greatest of all blessings, Peace, may long be maintained. It is impossible not to feel grateful, Sir, to every Administration, which has done its utmost to put an end to Slavery and to the Slave-trade, and I trust, that the Treaty, which it appears is now pending, may lead to the total abolition of a traffic, which is abhorrent to human nature, and annihilate so unhallowed a system. We are unfortunately still engaged in hostilities with the Chinese Empire, but which war could not be avoided without compromising our national honour, and I turn with pride and satisfaction to the success which has attended her Majesty's arms in that part of the globe, where great victories have been obtained with but small sacrifice of human life, owing to the judgment and skill of our officers, and the bravery and good discipline of our sailors and of our soldiers. The allusion in the Speech, Sir, to the distress which unfortunately prevails in some parts of the country, and the knowledge of the truth of it, cannot fail to excite in every man's mind the deepest feelings of commiseration, and an earnest desire, if possible, to ameliorate the condition of those of our fellow subjects, whose sufferings under these trying and painful circumstances, have proved themselves loyal to their Sovereign, and obedient to the laws of this country. With respect to finance, I believe, Sir, it is the opinion of the great majority of the people in this country, that the attention 42 of this House, should with the least possible delay, be directed to this most important subject; that it will no longer do to permit our expenditure to exceed our income; indeed, I fear, after the efforts of former Administrations and successive Parliaments, we cannot hope still further much to retrench our expenditure, but, that if we desire to maintain our Indian possessions, to protect our Colonies, and our commerce. We cannot reduce much, if at all, the estimates for the navy and for the army. With respect to the former, although, perhaps, the number of ships in commission may hereafter be diminished, yet it would appear most desirable that the men of war should never leave the ports of England without being sufficiently manned, so as to be ready at all times to perform any and every service which may be required. With respect to the army, sir, I do feel that it is of the greatest importance that the numbers of that force should be sufficient to enable the commander-in-chief to relieve frequently the regiments stationed in India and the West Indies. I believe, Sir, it is true economy to do so—for I am satisfied after the experience we have had, that such a system of relief tends much to promote the health of our troops, and prevent the sickness and mortality we have had so often cause to deplore. Sir, it appears to me, then, that we ought to meet our difficulties openly and manfully, and recommend new taxes, taking care, however, that these burthens should press as lightly as possible on the poorer classes of society. With respect to the Corn-laws, I much prefer that the difficult and delicate task of revising them should be undertaken by an Administration who have declared themselves favourable to the agricultural interest, than by those who proposed an eight shilling fixed duty, and many of whose supporters declared themselves against any protection whatever. The landed interest does not seek any greater protection than that which is sufficient to enable them, burthened as they are by general and local taxation, to compete with the foreign grower. I hope, Sir, that this question may be discussed in this House with calmness and moderation, avoiding every thing likely to array one class of society against another, not forgetting that the home market is of great importance to the manufacturer on the one hand, and that on the other, the manufacturing population, are great con- 43 sumers of the produce of our soil, and that the interest of both is one and the same. I am aware, Sir, that my individual opinions are not likely to have any weight in this House or the country. But I have felt it a duty to myself, and to my constituents, whose interests I have the honour to represent, briefly to state my views on the subjects I have touched upon, and I beg to thank the House for the indulgent and patient hearing which they have been pleased to extend to me on the present occasion. Having, Sir, great confidence in her Majesty's present Advisers, and coinciding with the sentiments expressed in the Speech delivered by her Majesty, this day, from the Throne, I beg to move the Address, which I hold in my hand.
§ MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,
§ WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to express to Your Majesty our humble thanks for Your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne.
§ WE assure your Majesty, That we most cordially join with Your Majesty, in expressing our deep sense of gratitude to Almighty God, on account of the birth of the Prince, Your Majesty's Son, and we beg leave to offer to Your Majesty our heartfelt congratulations, upon an event which completes the measure of Your Majesty's domestic happiness, and which we, in. common with all Your Majesty's faithful and loyal Subjects, have hailed with every feeling of affectionate attachment to Your Majesty's Person and Government.
§ WE participate in the satisfaction which Your Majesty has derived from the presence, in this Country, of His Majesty the King of Prussia, who, at Your Majesty's request, undertook, in person, the office of Sponsor, at the Christening of the Prince of Wales.
§ WE have learned with much satisfaction, that your Majesty receives from all Princes and States the continued assurance of their earnest desire to maintain the most friendly relations with this country.44
§ WE rejoice to learn, that Your Majesty has concluded with the Emperor of Austria, the King of the French, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia, a Treaty for the more effectual suppression of the Slave Trade, and we beg leave to express to Your Majesty our Thanks for Your Majesty's gracious intention, when the Ratifications shall have been exchanged, of communicating the same to Parliament.
§ WE humbly thank Your Majesty for the directions given by Your Majesty, that there shall also be laid before Parliament a Treaty which Your Majesty has concluded with the same Powers, together with the Sultan, having for its object the security of the Turkish Empire, and the maintenance of the general tranquillity.
§ WE are much gratified by the information that Your Majesty's diplomatic and friendly intercourse with the Court of Tehran, having been restored, a commercial Treaty with the King of Persia has been completed, and we thank Your Majesty for having directed this Treaty to be laid before us.
§ WE learn with great satisfaction that Your Majesty is engaged in negotiations with several Powers, which, Your Majesty trusts, by leading to Conventions founded on the just principle of mutual advantage, may extend the trade and commerce of the Country.
§ WE regret that Your Majesty is not enabled to announce to us the re-establishment of peaceful relations with the Government of China.
§ IT is gratifying to us to learn, that the uniform success which has attended the hostile operations directed against that Power, and the confidence which Your Majesty places in the skill and gallantry of Your Majesty's Naval and Military Forces, encourage Your Majesty to hope, that our differences with the Government of China will be brought to an early termination, and our commercial rela- 45 tions with that Country placed on a satisfactory basis.
§ WE thank Your Majesty, for having directed the Estimates for the year to be laid before us:
§ WE assure Your Majesty, that You may rely with entire confidence on our disposition, while we enforce the principles of a wise economy, to make that provision for the service of the Country which the public exigencies require.
§ WE beg leave humbly to acquaint Your Majesty, that we shall direct our immediate of the Expenditure of the Country.
§ WE have seen with regret, that for several years past the annual income has been inadequate to bear the public charges, and, fully sensible of the evil which must result from a continued deficiency of this nature during Peace, we will carefully consider the best means of averting it.
§ WE assure Your Majesty that we will take into our consideration the state of the laws which affect the Import lf Corn, and of other articles the produce of Foreign Countries.
§ WE desire to express our grateful acknowledgments to Your Majesty, for informing us that measures will be submitted for our consideration for the amendment of the Law of Bankruptcy, and for the improvement of the jurisdictions exercised by the Ecclesiastical Courts in England and Wales.
§ WE shall also be ready to consider, with a view to their revision, the Laws which regulate the registration of Electors of Members to serve in Parliament.
§ IN common with Your Majesty, we deeply regret the continued Distress in the Manufacturing Districts of the Country, and the sufferings and privations which have resulted from it, which have been borne with exemplary patience and fortitude.
§ WE humbly thank Your Majesty for the expression of Your confidence that our deliberations on the various important matters which 46 will occupy our attention, will be directed by a comprehensive regard for the interests and permanent welfare of all classes of Your subjects, and we assure Your Majesty that we join most fervently in Your Majesty's prayer, that they may tend in their result to improve the national resources, and to encourage the industry and promote the happiness of Your Majesty's people.
In rising, Sir, to second the motion which has been so ably submitted to our consideration by the gallant and noble Lord the Member for Sussex, I beg that you, Sir, and every hon. Member of this House, will accept of that apology which I feel it to be my duty to offer in trespassing upon the attention of the House at a moment which calls upon us to determine what may be our most dutiful, what our most respectful and becoming-acknowledgement of that gracious communication with which we have been honoured from the Throne. Sir, the Address which has been so ably moved and so powerfully advocated by the noble Lord, will, I hope, meet with that reception from the House to which it appears to me to be entitled,—for whether we look to the topics of which it is composed, or to the language in which those topics are embodied, the House will, I think, perceive that such regard has been paid to its own character as well as to the dignity of that illustrious Personage to whom it is presented, as will induce it to wish that this Address should go forth to the world under the sanction and with the authority of our unanimous vote. Sir, among the many subjects of congratulation, there is no one of more importance than that of the birth of the Prince of Wales, and I should very much miscalculate the feelings of this House if I did not say, that no congratulations from any portion of her Majesty's subjects can be more warm than those with which this House desires to approach the throne upon this auspicious event—no prayers can be more sincere than those which are offered up by the Members of this House, that all the virtues and excellencies of his royal parents may be combined and perpetuated in the person of this youthful prince; and as to that baptismal ceremony by which the royal infant has been brought within the pale of our 47 Christian community, hallowed and sanctified as that ceremony was by the aspirations of parental affection, and a nation's prayers, dignified as it was by the presence of foreign royalty,—this House must regard it with the greatest satisfaction; and, Sir, in looking at it we may hope that in the introduction of another British prince within the pale of our Church, we have added another pillar to its support, arising from that stock which has already afforded to it, so many and such able defenders. I cordially approve of the next portion of the Address,—viz., that which congratulates her Majesty upon the assurances which we receive of almost universal Peace, and it must be satisfactory to this House to perceive the collateral evidence which is afforded to these assurances by the pacific position assumed by all the great powers of Europe. France, that great nation, whose innate love for the profession of arms is proverbial, is fast laying aside the munitions of war, and taking the more quiet attitude of peace and repose. Spain, so long a prey to the desolation of foreign invasion and internal discord, may surely be hoped to profit by wiser councils, and return once more to the cultivation of her own fruitful provinces;— another great evidence of unequivocal peace and concord among the great powers of Europe, may be found in that natural compact into which they have entered, to promote the abolition of the Slave Trade. With regard to more distant countries, the position of China demands some notice, and whilst we rejoice in the triumph of our arms, I trust, that when that great and extraordinary country shall find, that valour British valour is equaled by British generosity, by British forbearance, and by British conciliation, she too will be brought within the bonds of peace and friendship with this country. With regard to the United States of America, although the friends of humanity must lament that one signature is still wanting to this compact for the abolition of Slavery, and that one consent is still withheld; let us hope that when these Independent States perceive that this engagement can be entered into without any compromise of their national honour, they will at once become the most abominable and disgraceful traffic. With respect to that portion of the Address relating more immediately to our internal policy, I think that the House cannot 48 sufficiently thank her Majesty for directing its attention to subjects which so deeply affect the interests of all classes of the community—I allude to the subjects of corn, of finance, and other fiscal regulations relating to the food of the people. With respect to finance, no individual in this House will, I am persuaded, for one moment, advocate a system which allows the national expenditure so greatly to exceed the national income. With respect to the Corn-laws, I congratulate the House that at last a day is fixed when this great national question will be submitted to our considerations I hope, too, whatever the event of our discussion may be, that due regard will be paid as well to the interests of agricultural labour, as to the power of consumption of the manufacturing classes. I cannot pass over that paragraph of the Address which alludes to the great distress now existing in various parts of the country, without making one or two observations on the state of the district with which I have the honour to be connected. Six months ago, statements were made in this House respecting the distress then existing in the manufacturing and commercial districts which were considered appalling by all who heard them, but it is my painful duty to say, that at this moment that distress is greatly aggravated. If doubts be entertained upon this point, let reference be made to the different hoards of our workhouses, where it will be found that applications for relief are daily increasing, and in many instances, by persons who have no long time ago been contributors to the rates; let reference be also made to the offices of our benevolent and visiting societies, where the melancholy fact will be confirmed that those who have been the dispensers of charity are now supplicants for its aid in their own persons, and I am much afraid that a strict examination into the condition of the great body of the people, would prove that the general frame of society is sinking towards the verge of poverty. I rejoice that measures for remedying these evils, have under gone the patient investigation of the right hon. Baronet, in whose government, this House and the country have placed such implicit confidence; and whilst no one can participate in that confidence more than myself, I cannot help expressing a hope, that, whatever those measures may be, they will be based upon the principle of 49 finding regular employment for the people, and a sufficient means to provide for their subsistence, believing as I do, that all attempts at national prosperity, or individual enjoyment of life, unless recognizing these principles will be vain and futile. The history of our country tells us, that Parliament has often been called together on great emergencies, and happily also tells us that the wisdom of Parliament has often found remedies for the evils submitted to it, but I will venture to say, that no previous Parliament was ever looked to with more anxiety than the present, nor did the condition of the people ever more seriously deserve our sympathy and consideration—the people have suffered severely but they have suffered patiently—their loyalty to their Queen has never for one moment abated, their confidence in the wisdom of Parliament remains unshaken, and their hope is still strong in the exertions of an able and energetic Government. Sir, the only hope or wish which I entertain in seconding this Address which has been so ably moved by the noble Lord, is, that it may receive that approbation from the House to which I think it is entitled, and that it may be the prelude to such other wise resolves and good proceedings on the part of this House, as may prove to the people of this country that their reliance on the wisdom of Parliament has not been placed in vain.
§ Mr. Ewart
said, he could not but accord with that portion of the speech of the hon. Seconder of the Address in which he pathetically, but too truly, described the misery, the increased misery of the manufacturing population. For that misery he trusted her Majesty's Government were prepared with some efficient remedy; and in the course of the Speech from the Throne he rejoiced to find that one of the remedies traced out was one suggested—in part and in principle at least—by the committee of that House appointed to investigate the subject of the import duties. He trusted it was the intention of her Majesty's Government to adopt some, at least, of the suggestions contained in that report; and he might add his hope that their attention would be directed to one important article, on which the import duties were still high, and which had almost become a necessary of life in this country; he alluded to the article of sugar. He apprehended it would not be disavowed, even by some of 50 the hon. Gentleman opposite, that their predictions as to the price of sugar had not been verified. He believed it would be allowed by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), that during the last month at least the price of sugar had risen to such an extent as to interfere materially with its consumption; and that evidence had been laid before the House that a reduction of the duties would be conducive to the welfare of the people, while it would increase the revenue of the country. He trusted that another recommendation contained in the evidence before the committee on the import duties would be accomplished—namely, the reduction of the duty on coffee. That reduction was not more imperatively called for by the commercial interests of the country, and a just financial policy, than it was by the altered habits of the people. The consumption of coffee and sugar had extensively and most benefically supplied the place of spirits and other articles of a deleterious nature. While touching on this topic he might be allowed to refer to that portion of the Address which alluded to the treaties with foreign powers, and to express his hope that her Majesty's Government might not leave entirely out of contemplation the completion of a commercial treaty with Holland. It was the wish of the commercial interests of the country that such a treaty should be concluded, and particularly with reference to the island of Java. The productions of Java were largely absorbed by Holland; but Holland was quite unequal to the supply of Java with manufactures in return, The production of one of the articles to which he had alluded—sugar, had recently increased to a great extent in that island. In 1831 the amount of sugar produced in Java did not exceed 8,000 tons; at present the annual produce was 65,000 tons. It was easy to conceive how the interchange of that article would benefit our consumer, while our manufacturer would gain a great advantage by the export of his manufactures. He knew not whether he were justified in drawing such a conclusion, but from the tenor of the observations of the noble Mover and the hon. Seconder of the Address, rather than from the Address itself, he drew the inference that it was the intention of her Majesty's Government to propose something like a property-tax. He, for one, would openly and sincerely express his conviction that a fair and honest property-tax, which would relieve the labour, while it unfettered the 51 commerce of the country, if properly and equitably imposed upon property, would be beneficial to the nation. Such a tax, however, should be fair and equitable, applying equally to landed as to funded and mere personal property; and with the assurance that it would be fair and equitable, not pressing unequally upon different interests, he would be disposed to support such a measure. The right hon. Baronet had adverted to his intention of disclosing his somewhat long-concealed views on the subject of the Corn-laws. One branch of that subject had pressed upon his (Mr. Ewart's) attention, that which referred to the trade of this country with the United States of America. After the admissions of the hon. Seconder of the Address, it would be almost supererogatory to dwell upon the depressed state of manufactures in this country; but it was appaling to reflect that a portion of our most important manufactures—our cotton manufactures, indicated the deepest suffering. The consumption of cotton, which last year approached to about 24,000 bales per week, had this year fallen to nearly 21,000 bales per week. This being a most material article of British manufacture, and the United States of America being our best customers, he thought it most desirable that we should draw still closer our bonds of commercial intercourse with that great and increasing country. He feared—he trusted without reason—that the proposed amendment of the Corn-laws would not tend to bring into this country, in exchange for its manufactures, the natural produce—the corn—of America. We were already taking from America one of its natural products—cotton; and be would hail with peculiar satisfaction another bond of commercial union formed by taking from them another of their natural products—their corn. While adverting to this topic he would remind the House of the observations made by the Secretary to the Treasury of the United States on the report of the Committee of Congress presented very recently on this important subject, from which it was evident that we had no hope of introducing our manufactures into the United States, unless we consented to take in exchange their corn. The Secretary to the United States Treasury says, "So long as the policy of other countries shall continue to exclude the products of our agriculture from their ports, and thus deny us the ad- 52 vantage of a fair reciprocity in trade, it would seem equally the dictate of policy and justice to our people to secure to them, as far as may be reasonably and properly done, a market for the consumption of their produce in their own country." It appeared, therefore, that while we refused to take their natural product —corn, the United States Government would continue to impose a duty on our manufactures. While we continued our system of prohibition they would continue their system of protection, anti the only means to avoid this was to take from America a proper supply of their produce. They bad heard during the last Session of Parliament, and since, of the great danger that had arisen to our manufactures from foreign competition, and he was sorry to find that these statements of our own manufacturers were confirmed by the observations of those foreign writers who were most familiar with commercial statistics. He could not conceive how the rivalry of continental nations, and particularly of Germany (with whom we must be anxious more closely to draw our commercial connection), could be more increased than by the extension of the Germanic Confederation, which now spread itself over the whole of the north of Germany. That Confederation now included a population equal nearly to the population of our own country—both having a population of about 26,000,000 of inhabitants. While the lines of custom-houses had been abolished over this extent of Germany, the degree of competition against the manufactures of this country must be very considerably increased. He would shew that this was not a mere idle surmise. He would venture to read a short extract, founded on Prussian statistical returns, which was taken from a foreign writer, showing the effect which their system must have on the commerce of Great Britain. It was stated by this well-informed writer, that since the confederacy had been formed, there had taken place an immense increase in the productions of cotton and other manufactures, of which other nations, and especially England, had previously furnished the principal part: so that Germany had not only become independent of England, but had been able to export a great proportion of her manufactured articles, and to compete with foreign nations. This was attested by statistical tables, which left them no doubt of the result. Now, he had always considered this German Commercial Con- 53 federation, or Zollverein, as it was called, as an approximation to freedom of trade, just as the Union with Scotland, or as the the abolition of the discriminating duties on corn between England and Ireland in the year 1806, was an approach to free trade between those countries; and he maintained that this approximation to free trade in Germany was only to be met by England by an approximation to free trade in general. And to show hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were so bent on the encouragement of our agriculture, what influence this increase of the manufactures of Germany had on the agriculture of the country, it was stated on the authority he had already quoted, that "the increase of trade in Germany, in consequence of this union, had considerably augmented the demand for the amount of the raw materials supplied by agriculture;" this allegation supported the doctrine which they (the Opposition Members) had always laid down on that side of the House, and which was not denied by the First Lord of the Treasury himself, that the real way to benefit agriculture was, by extending trade and manufactures. The same authority which he had cited proceeded to shew that this extension of the principle of free trade in Germany, so far from lowering wages, as some hon. Members en the other side of the House had apprehended, had had the effect of increasing wages; for the same writer observed, that "there had been, since that time, an increase of employment, and a rise in wages." He trusted, therefore, in common with many others who had, from the sincerest conviction maintained and supported the doctrine of free trade. that her Majesty's Government were about to act upon those principles as they were laid down by the committee on Import-duties, which sat during the last Parliament. He should, therefore, await the development of their plans with anxiety; he trusted he might do so with confidence. At the same time he was bound to express his sincere conviction, that although the present fluctuating scale of corn duties might be beneficially altered so as to make it a less sliding scale, yet it would be a sliding scale still; though altered in detail, it would have still the inherent defect of a bad principle; though it would reduce the amount of fluctuation, it would still fail to remove that real impediment to all increase of trade, unsteadiness of price and uncertainty of market. But if it should be the intention of her 54 Majesty's Government to develope a more extensive measure than a mere alteration in the sliding scale, he should hail it with satisfaction, and assure them of his sincere support. He perhaps might be allowed to express his hopes that the right hon. Baronet would take his stand boldly and firmly upon what he really believed to be conducive to the permanent interest of the country, and that on this most vital question, he would not allow a desire of compromising and conciliating various interests to interfere with the exercise of his own sincere conviction, and his own independent reason. It had been his lot to come into Parliament when the right hon. Baronet was constrained to alter his course on the important subject of religious freedom. Up to that time the right hon. Baronet had maintained in debate, from conviction no doubt, the policy of a system of religious ascendency. He trusted that it would not be the course of the right hon. Baronet now to maintain a system of social ascendency, upholding one interest at the expense of another. Of such a policy if he did not become boldly the opponent, he would sooner or later be the victim.
Lord J. Russell
spoke to the following effect: Mr. Speaker, I should have been glad if I could have given, with perfect satisfaction to myself, a silent vote in favour of the Address which has been proposed by the noble Lord opposite; but, as some misapprehension may exist, if some Member on this side of the House belonging to her Majesty's late Administration does not express his opinion with regard to certain points contained in that Address, I will venture to trouble the House with few observations before we come to the vote which is to be given this night. I most heartily concur in the commencement of this Address, which proposes to assure her Majesty, that we cordially join her Majesty in expressing our deep sense of gratitude to Almighty God on account of the birth of a Prince—an event which has added to the measure of her Majesty's domestic happiness, and which has been hailed with every demonstration of affectionate attachment to the Crown, by her Majesty's faithful and loyal people. Both on public and private grounds, as respects her Majesty's just and constitutional exercise of the privileges vested in her from the commencement of her reign to this day, as well as on account of the domestic happiness which she so well deserves. I fully and most fervently join in offering my 55 congratulations upon the occurrence of an event which seems to contain in it the elements of public and private felicity. I cordially join, likewise, in that portion of the Address which expresses our joy and satisfaction at the visit of an illustrious prince—au ally of her Majesty's house, who, at the invitation of her Majesty, has attended in person to be the sponsor of the Royal Prince whose christening has been lately celebrated, and I trust, that with that Prince, eminent as he is, no less by his virtues and abilities than by the station which he holds among the powers of Europe, we shall continue a cordial and permanent alliance. Sir, with respect to other parts of the Address which relate to foreign powers, I find little to observe upon; and I can can scarcely do more than express my concurrence in the sentiments declared by the noble Lord in moving the Address. I am rejoiced to hear, that our relations with Persia are not only re-established, but that a commercial treaty has been effected with that power; and I rejoice to learn, that with respect to all the powers of Europe, we are on terms of the most amicable nature. I trust, that any differences, or causes of dissension, which may remain with regard to the United States of America, may be satisfactorily arranged by the mission sent by the advice of her Majesty's present Government. Whether it were wise to send such a mission is a point on which I do not feel called upon now to give any opinion, nor do I feel it necessary to express any opinion whether it is better to arrange any existing points of difference by such means, or by means of the usual correspondents of her Majesty's Government. The Government have thought it best to adopt the course which they have taken, and I wish that it may be successful, and that with the United States, as well as with the powers of Europe, feelings may be established—feelings in common of the benefits of peace—feelings of the advantages of that commercial intercourse which strengthens and blesses peace; and that all causes of dissention, still less of war—all that spirit of hostility which has sometimes existed between nations, will be caused to vanish. Sir, I come now to that part of the Speech of her Majesty which concerns the domestic situation of this country; and I must say, with regard to that portion of the Speech, also, that I have very great satisfaction in observing the topics which are introduced into it, and adverted to, as well as in observing 56 the manner in which they are referred to. It may be that when the measures are brought forward which are alluded to—that when the right hon. Baronets brings forward his measures with respect to corn —when other Members of the Government bring forward their measures with respect to the productions of foreign countries, they may not be such as I can support. But it is a satisfaction to me to find that the nature of the measures to which her Majesty, under the advice of the present advisers, has thought fit to call to the attention Parliament, are of a nature similar to those which it was the crime of the late Government to bring under the consideration of Parliament. In our hands they were to be questions which would excite discord between one class and another—which would influence public discontent—which would injure the institutions of the country by unjust results, and which would lead to incalculable evils; but they are now to be submitted to the House as those questions upon which remedies for the financial difficulties of the country, and for the distresses of the people, may best be founded. The noble Lord who moved the Address, and who has done so in a manner which has given such promise of his future career in this House, thought proper to tell his constituents, before he became a Member of this House, that nothing could be worse than the conduct of the late Government, and he asked for their support on that ground, as well as upon the mode in which that Government proposed to treat the financial difficulties of the country. That Government was charged to be reckless for attempting to adopt such measures as were proposed; but now I am convinced that those measures were founded on right principles, and I am convinced by what has passed to-night, that the leaders of all parties who have considered this subject have come to the same opinion upon the principle upon which we should act; namely, that the disorder in our financial position is a matter which requires the attention of Parliament; that it should not be allowed to continue year after year without the attention of Parliament, at least; but that you should not attempt to set right the disorder of your finances, without at the same time taking into consideration the laws which affect trade—the laws which affect our imports—the laws which, to say in one word, impose such heavy taxes upon the people of this country— 57 not for the State—not for the Crown—not for the Exchequer—but for the sake of different classes. We brought these subjects under the consideration of the House. My right hon. Friend near me, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, in stating the condition of the finances of the country to this House in April last, said, that we looked to such sources and to such things with a view to invigorate the resources of the country, to improve the general riches of the country, and thereby to improve our financial condition. Was he wrong, I ask, in stating those principles? Was the Cabinet, of which he was then the organ, mistaken in saying that those matters should be looked to? We have heard much of such things since the last Session of Parliament; and much has been said of remedies of totally different classes which have been suggested, and in accordance with many of which it has been represented that her Majesty's Ministers were disposed to act. There were, first, the delegates with respect to the Ten Hours' Factory Bill, and after their somewhat theatrical interview with the right hon. Baronet, and other Members of the Government, and a great deal of stage display, they thought fit to encourage the hope—no doubt raised first by the gentlemen who came to the Government in favour of the Ten Hours' Bill, and who turned out after all to be the Socialist editors of some new Moral World, that the attention of the Government would be given to the subject. But now it appears from a letter written some short time ago, to a noble Lord, who is most sincere, I believe, in his exertions on this point, that the right hon. Baronet, who I have no doubt is no less earnest, and is actuated by motives no less praiseworthy, but with more wisdom and caution, is ready to oppose the Ten Hours' Bill, and that limit of labour which, if adopted, would cut to the roots the manufacturing prosperity of this country, will not give his assent to such a measure. We next heard of a great scheme of emigration, which was to be the great remedy for all difficulties, by which the people of this country were to be transported to our colonies at the public expense; but now, by a letter written yesterday or the day before, by the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department, it appears that no such extensive scheme of emigration is entertained. The noble Lord seems now to contradict this suggestion; but, if such a scheme does exist, or is in contemplation, I have heard 58 no notice given to-night of any intention to bring it under the attention of the House. If such a scheme is to be brought forward, I hope that the noble Lord will see that it is calculated to remedy the existing disorder of the finances before he proposes a wholesale scheme of emigration; but until I hear the notice given, I shall disbelieve that any such intention exists, or that, though it has been thrown out as a remedy proposed to be applied, there is any intention to bring forward a scheme which may lead us into fresh difficulties, and give rise to a new and extravagant expenditure. But another class of persons have predicted that, as a great portion of the party who have now come into power are opposed to the Poor-law, and that, as the Poor-law is tyrannical and oppressive, the Conservative Government (as it is called) will not be long before they propose a law, if not for the total repeal, for the abolition of the office of Commissioners, and everything that is odious in the existing law. We have had a practical denial of that by the appointment of a third gentleman to act as Commissioner — fully qualified to hold that office—and whose nomination to the performance of its duties does honour to her Majesty's Government, and to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. But such a circumstance is a complete refutation of any notion which may have been entertained that the Poor-law, as it now stands, is to be abolished or repealed. There have been other matters mentioned into which I will not further enter, to which the country have been prone to look during the recess as the remedies which the Government intended to propose, but I am glad to find, because I rejoice not less in the statement made in the Speech from the Throne than in the omissions which I observe in it, that none of these measures, some of which I should think most dangerous—almost all of which I should think most futile—are to be resorted to. But I am glad to find that the principles to be acted upon by the present Government, are no other than those wholesome ones proposed and advocated by theoretical writers for some time, supported by the best of statesmen in this country, and which the late Government, on their retirement from office, left as a legacy to the country, and which I hope to see eventually carried out; principles which before long I trust I shall see established on the statute-book of this country. The right hon. Baronet has al- 59 ready this evening given notice of his intention to bring forward the subject of the Corn-laws. Certainly, having that notice standing for a few days hence, I should think it most inopportune now to enter into any detail upon the subject, or even to discuss the principles of the question. But there is one thing which I beg to say, and that is, to entreat the Government, and the right hon. Baronet who is at the head of the Government, to consider the course which the discussions upon the Corn-laws have taken since I first gave notice, on the 30th of April last, of the intention of the Government, as it was then constituted, to propose some measures upon that point. I beg them to observe how little there has been advanced in favour of those views to which the right hon. Baronet then stated his adherence. I mean the principle of the sliding scale, and how much there has been stated, not by the adherents of this or that party, but by persons looking to the Corn-laws, and to the Corn-laws alone, as the object of their attention in favour of the principle which I then proposed, namely that of a moderate fixed duty. I hope that before her Majesty's present Government propose their scheme, they will well consider what scheme they can propose which is likely to be enacted into a law with a prospect of endurance. I will readily yield to the right hon. Baronet, that if he proposes an alteration of the Corn-laws, with the support which he is likely to receive, he may find it no very difficult task to obtain the adoption of it by this and the other House of Parliament. But I beg him seriously to consider what the event would be, if the result of that enactment is, that no sooner has it received the royal assent, than the agitation against the Corn-laws should begin afresh—that the country and those who most consider the question should feel that a false and erroneous principle has been acted upon, and that it is necessary by petition or otherwise to secure a reconsideration of the subject. ["Cheers and disapprobation."] I heard a murmer, as if hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think that the passing of an act of Parliament. was quite sufficient to put an end to all discussion and discontent on the subject. But I beg them to believe, that that will not be the case; that great as the authority of Parliament may be, and I wish its authority to be great, still it will not supersede and override the conclusions which sensible and reflecting 60 men draw from their own observation of the working of any particular law; and with respect to the farming interest, as well as with respect to every other interest, I believe, that the greatest mischief would arise if after a new law was passed their feeling should be, that they could not make their bargains and agreements with their landlords or with other persons, with any confidence in the new law being likely to endure. If the right hon. Baronet has formed an opinion unfavourable to the principle of a fixed duty, he doubtless will not frame his scheme upon such a system; but, considering all that has been urged upon the question, and more especially in a very able pamphlet written by Mr. Hubbard, I trust that he will not propose a measure in which he has not himself the fullest confidence, and which he cannot feel is likely to remain on the statute book of the realm. I will not enter further into the subject, seeing that we shall shortly have an opportunity of discussing it fully; but I can only assure him in the words of Lord Melbourne, that that justice which was not done to Lord Melbourne's Government, we will endeavour to do to the Government which has followed it. If those measures which are now brought forward with respect to the import duties shall be found to be measures founded on right principles, and to which we can assent, we shall cordially give our support to them; if they are measures which we think should be amended, we shall most cordially and fairly endeavour to meet the exigency of the moment, and render them what they should be. With respect to one phrase in the speech of the noble Lord who moved the Address, which referred to the imposition of new taxes, I wish only to guard myself by saying that there is nothing in the Address which is now proposed which pledges the House of Commons to impose any new taxes. I think the words themselves which her Majesty has been advised to employ upon this point are extremely cautious. Her Majesty says,I rely with entire confidence on your disposition, while you enforce the principles of a wise economy, to make that provision for the service of the country which the public exigencies require. You will have seen with regret that, for several years past, the annual income has been inadequate to bear the public charges; and I feel confident that, fully sensible of the evil which must result from a continued deficiency of this nature during peace, you will carefully consider the best means of averting it.61 These words, as I consider, agreeing with them as I am glad to do, leave to us the power of maintaining a principle, if we so think fit, which we maintained as a Government, that seeing that the expenditure of late years has been produced by temporary causes, and that it is a great and powerful evil to impose new taxes without an absolute necessity existing for us to do so, we should wait to ascertain the result of any measures which may be determined on, before we resort to the application of new imposts. I shall be ready to hear the statement of the right hon. Baronet, and which will, no doubt, extend to the whole course which he means to take, and certainly, if I am not able to support him in his plan, I will take care to give him due notice with respect to any point on which I may wish to take the sense of the House. I will only further say, that it is a great satisfaction to me that on the occasion on which we are to congratulate her Majesty on the auspicious birth of a Prince of Wales, there is nothing in the remainder of the Address which prevents me from giving my cordial assent to it; and whatever differences we may have hereafter—however I may dissent from the measures which may be hereafter brought forward—there is nothing which will prevent the House on this occasion from giving an unanimous vote.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said: I cannot be surprised, though I am gratified to hear the noble Lord who has just sat down, express his feeling that we should unanimously concur, whatever may be our present divisions or our prospect of future conflicts, that we should cordially concur in presenting an Address to her Majesty, conveying to her Majesty the heart-felt congratulations of this House on the event which has recently occurred, and has given new stability to the Throne and constitution of this country. I have purposely abstained, with my colleagues, having long held that opinion, that there was great inconvenience in forcing the House, on the first day of its assembling, to a division, without the means which formerly existed of ascertaining the sentitiments to be contained in the Address, from taking that course, and from calling on the House to pledge itself to the support of certain measures; and therefore, we did undoubtedly purposely frame the Address in a manner which we hoped would not unnecessarily produce a collis- 62 sion, We felt perfectly certain of the unanimous concurrence of the House in that part of the Address which congratulates her Majesty on a recent event; and we felt perfectly convinced that if that event has completed the domestic happiness of her Majesty and her illustrious consort, it has also added to the private and domestic happiness of every family in this country. The noble Lord has very lightly touched on those parts of the Address which referred to the foreign correspondence of this nation, and in all of them he expressed his readiness to concur; he expressed his satisfaction at the conclusion of a treaty with the court of Teheran, and at the prospect of the establishment of amicable relations between Persia and this country. I think that I should not refer to that subject without bearing my testimony to the cordial co-operation which the diplomatic agents of this country received from the minister of Russia in his exertions. But I am hound to say that I trust that it is the good sense of the court of Teheran, and the sense of the common interests involved in the question in dispute, which have induced that court to to accede to our advances and proffers, and that the establishment of our friendly interest is attributable to its own right and proper feeling. The Emperor of Russia, however, I must add, has exhibited every desire by means of his agent to influence the court of Teheran to reestablish its amicable relations with this country. The noble Lord, in his speech to the House, seemed to intimate some doubt upon the policy of sending a special mission to the United States of America, but he should bear in mind that some of the causes of difference between the United States and this country have long existed—that the attempts on the part of the various governments by means of correspondents, however ably they may have performed their duties, to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion, have been unsuccessful—that the continuance of these unfortunate causes of discord leads to fresh and increasing difficulties. These considerations it was which induced the Government, without implying the slightest censure on the very able Minister now in the United States, to send a person whose high station in the councils of this nation pointed him out as the fittest person to be selected, and who, possessed of the views and intentions of 63 the Government, might go at once to the United States, and attempt by some other mode than that which had been hitherto resorted to, and which has not been successful, to effect that which would be a great object to attain for the interests of humanity and of civilization throughout the world, namely, the restoration of a perfectly friendly and cordial relation with the United States; or, I should rather say, the termination of the existing diffences. But if our friendly relations can be altogether re-established, I say, that it will not only be for the interest of the two countries, but for the general interests of humanity and the civilized world. Lord Ashburton, in undertaking the duty which has been imposed upon him, has been influenced by a sense of public duty, sacrificing his own feelings and views, but he shared in the feelings and views of the Government; and considering the position in which that noble Lord stands with regard to the United States, and the estimation in which his respected name is held there, we felt that no more welcome messenger than that noble Lord could be found. I am not aware of any other subjects connected with the foreign policy of the Government to which the noble Lord has adverted. He referred with some warmth to the plans of the Government for the relief of the domestic embarrassments of this country. He said, that he had heard various schemes suggested, and that he was pleased to find that no reference was made to any of them in her Majesty's Speech. He said, that a plan of general emigration had been spoken of, but that it appeared to have been put forth without any authority; but I think that the noble Lord might have gained sufficient experience in public affairs and in the conduct of a Government to know, that because measures are imputed to the executive Government, it does not, therefore, necessarily follow that they are in serious contemplation. The noble Lord, I think, will agree with me, that it is not because a paragraph appears in a newspaper imputing an intention to a Government, that, therefore, that intention should be denied, and I think he will not deny that such a course would be extremely inconvenient, because if adopted in one case, silence in another might appear to show acquiescence, and the executive Government would at length have little else to do than to contradict reports of 64 their presumed intentions. The noble Lord, however, has referred to certain dramatic reports which have appeared of interviews which I had with some delegates on the part of the manufacturing population of this country. I confess that I am rather surprised that the noble Lord should speak with so much asperity of Socialist editors. The Government, undoubtedly through inadvertence, may have been deceived, but they did not at all events encourage those who came to them to expect the high honour of presentation to her Majesty. It is perfectly true, that I for one had an interview with a body of persons, who requested an interview, as a deputation from the manufacturing classes of the north. I do not know what course the noble Lord would have advised me to pursue. Would the noble Lord have thought it becoming in me to decline it until I had first ascertained the private characters and the political opinions of those who composed the deputation? I had no notice of those names, but even if I had, I should have received them without making the slightest inquiry as to the political opinions they professed. I saw the persons who called upon me, and who succeeded in deceiving me so far that on entering the room I believed them to be a deputation as represented—a belief which was strengthened by the perfect knowledge of the subject on which they came to speak—a knowledge which indicated a practical and daily connexion with the manufactures of the district from which they came. I conversed with them, but I am no party to the publication of what took place. They never consulted me as to whether or not the report was correct, and I must say I deprecate the publication of conversations with a Minister without first ascertaining from him whether he acquiesces in the accuracy of the report. Surprised as I was to find that a lengthened and detailed report of what passed had been published, I am innocent of any intention to derive an advantage from the dramatic effects of which the noble Lord spoke, and until I saw that these persons were editors of a newspaper, I remained under the pleasing delusion that I had been talking to workmen deputed by their brother workmen to give an account of their sufferings. With respect to the Poor-law, I think the apprehensions excited in the mind of the noble Lord by the declarations made in the 65 newspapers might have been dispelled by the memory of the course taken by the Government during the last Session, and by the recollection of that which had so recently occurred in the House. I now approach that portion of the Address which involves subjects of the utmost consideration. I am sure the House will not expect me now to enter into any details with regard to those questions. The debate of this evening, the reading by the Speaker of her Majesty's Speech from the Throne, was preceded by an intimation given by me that I would on the first day that was consistent with the convenience of the Members of the House submit the views of her Majesty's Government on that important subject. I have given notice that I shall submit a motion on this subject; to any discussion of it, therefore, either directly or collaterally, on this occasion I am opposed, and I must postpone any further observation upon it till proper opportunity shall arise on my bringing forward the motion of which I have given notice. On behalf of my colleagues and myself, I may say, that we had hoped to have disclosed the whole of our financial and commercial policy together, and to have submitted at once to the House all the measures which we propose to take with reference to these subjects. I am precluded from doing so by considerations of public duty, although on the part of the Government, and as far as I and my colleagues are concerned, I am prepared to do so. When the House separated for the recess, and with the expectation that the recess would be long, I gave a pledge on the part of her Majesty's Government that the recess should be occupied in carefully reviewing all the great questions which then pressed for a thorough investigation. I undertook that all those great questions should have a full attention; I undertook that they should all undergo a careful review; I undertook also that after the recess no unnecessary delay should take place, but that her Majesty's Government would be prepared to explain their views, as well as the means to be adopted for the practical application of those views and of the principles on which they are founded, I gave that pledge. I now ask no further delay than is essentially necessary to enable us to bring forward our measures in the mode laid down by the forms of this House. I propose to submit the financial measures of her Ma- 66 jesty's Government as soon as the votes of supply can be taken in committee of supply so as to enable us to proceed in committee of Ways and Means, when we shall fully discuss the whole subject. I do not then ask for delay; I do not intend to postpone the announcement of the budget, as it is called, to that period of the year at which it is usually brought forward. Indeed, so far as concerned the convenience of her Majesty's Government, we are prepared to state to the House now the measures with reference to the commerce and finance of the country which we mean to propose; and, as I have said, I should have wished to state the nature of those measures simultaneously with the views which we have arrived at on the subject of the Corn-laws; but I think that there would be disadvantage to the public interests in postponing the consideration of the Corn-laws, and that it would be better that her Majesty's Government should propose to the House their views relative to those laws on Wednesday next, and postpone the remainder of the financial and commercial policy until the House is prepared to vote the usual provision for the service of the year, in Committee of Ways and Means. There certainly would have been considerable advantage in her Majesty's Government having the power of disclosing the whole of their policy at once. That advanage, therefore, I must forego; and, as I have sail, I shall next week move, as I have given notice, on the subject of the Corn-laws. As soon also as I have obtained some votes in Committee of Supply, I will on the earliest possible day state the views of the government as to the financial situation of the country. I trust that the House will approve of the fairness of the course which I have adopted on the part of my colleagues and myself in redemption of the pledge which I gave on the separation of the House last Session. We have carefully considered the state of the country, and we have instituted such inquiries as we thought necessary for the purpose of obtaining information; and we are now prepared to submit to the House such measures as we think that the interests of the country require. They shall be submitted to the House as it requisite as regards the responsibility of the Government for them. Looking, then, at the various complicated interests of the country, and the difficulties attending our 67 Financial situation, we are prepared to state that these are the measures which, to the best of our judgment, we thought ought to be adopted, and it will be for the House of Commons to determine, when they hear our statements, whether its views concur with ours, and whether it is prepared to ratify these measures, or to adopt other measures for the relief of the country try from its present difficulties, and for the promotion of industry and commerce, submitted to it by those who differ with us as to the view of the state of affairs.
§ Mr. Villiers
said, that he did not rise to dissent from the liberal generalities that they had heard that evening, for he shared in the general satisfaction at the promises contained, or perhaps the admissions implied, in the Speech. Indeed, a greater discouragement to those who pinned their faith on the promises of monopoly, or a more auspicious sign for those who were struggling for freedom, could hardly have been given—and he, for one, heartily rejoiced to see that, notwithstanding the vast influence which the landed proprietary possessed and exercised, socially and politically, there was a power beyond them in the general opinion of the country, that they dared not resist. And though for some years past they law, yet when the mischiefs of their law, yet when the evils of this law met with general detection, they wisely shrank from maintaining it. He would not, however, dilate on the subject at this moment, against the wish of the House; he chiefly rose to add the expression of his hope to that of the noble Lord's, that the right hon. Baronet, whom the landed proprietors appear now to have invested with complete power to do what he deemed right, would seriously consider in what way he could deal with the Corn-law, with the view to its permanent settlement—and for this purpose, he hoped he would well weigh what had been the effect of so long deferring the settlement of this question. The noble Lord had said truly, that the present system was quite discredited among all who desired any change; and it was also true what the noble Lord said, that there was a party in the country who do not desire to see the present law commuted for a fixed duty, but that party was larger when the noble Lord proposed his plan than what it was now—and what he wished the right hon. Baronet to consider was, whether the public mind had not now undergone a great 68 Change as to the principle or policy of imposing a tax at all on the food of the people—and whether, by dint of distress and discussion during the last five months, there was not more unanimity now against the propriety of taxing the food of the community, than the most sanguine could have expected—and whether any settlement could be deemed satisfactory short of leaving the trade in food free? He firmly believed, that during the last year, the folly, the cruelty—he could almost say the crime—of this law, had been generally detected, and would not much longer be endured—and he believed that the wishes of thousands, nay, millions, would not be consulted, if the earliest convenient opportunity was not taken of bringing the whole question of the imposition of any tax upon the daily food of the people before the House, and this he now gave notice he should do.
§ Mr. Escott
said, he thought that the agriculturists of this country were placed in a most extraordinary position, and he must say, he hoped that, as the noble Lord had said, Parliament would settle this great question, but that the measure would not be framed with reference to agitation, either to raise or put it down, but with a view to the interests of all. The agriculturists knew that they had just suffered a great loss in the Queen's Council, which they greatly deplored. The Duke of Buckingham was one who for many a long year the agriculturists of England had been accustomed to look up to as their champion, defender, and friend. They knew also that they had lost his services at the very moment when other classes were clamorous, or said to be clamorous for a total abolition of the Corn-Laws, which the noble Lord always supported. Well, feeling all this, they were not averse generally to changing the system of these laws. [Cheers.] That remark might be cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he was certain that any man acquainted with what was the feeling of the agriculturists would say that they were not averse to a change. They knew the wisdom of making a change in the present system; in short, all they now sought was to be relieved from the anxiety and uncertainty which they had suffered so long; and he, for one, thanked the right hon. Baronet for having appointed an early day for taking this subject into con- 69 sideration, as for a happy relief from the distress and uncertainty with which they were at the present moment undoubtedly oppressed.
§ Motion for presenting an Address agreed to nem. con. and a Committee appointed to prepare and draw up the same.