HC Deb 25 February 1842 vol 60 cc1093-168
The Chairman

again put the first resolution, that Whenever the average price of wheat, made up and published in the manner required by law, shall be, for every quarter, under 51s., the duty shall be for every quarter 1l.

Mr. Christopher rose,

pursuant to the notice which he had given, to move the substitution of the scale of duties which he held in his hand, and of submitting them for the adoption of the committee in preference to the scale that had been recommended by his right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Treasury. In bringing the subject under the consideration of the committee, he should best consider his own inclination and their convenience, by restricting his observations entirely to the scale itself. For, considering that for nearly the whole of the last fourteen days, they had been debating on the subject of the Corn-laws—first, whether it was expedient that there should be a fixed duty on the importation of foreign corn, and secondly, whether it was expedient on the part of the House to sanction any duty whatever; and also considering that the country, on being appealed to by the late Administration, had distinctly recorded its vote in favour of agricultural protection, and that in that House, only early on that very morning, it had been decided by an overwhelming majority in the most unequivocal terms, that it was expedient that protection should be afforded to the agricultural interest;.—considering these things, he held himself entitled to conclude, that the opinion of that House and of the country at large was in favour of protection, and he should, therefore, not offer any observation that could tend to open again the general debate, on the expediency or inexpediency of the existing Corn-laws. He would have infinitely preferred seeing the bill of the Government on the Table, and he would have preferred that that bill had obtained a second reading before he had brought on his motion, but as he was given to understand that by the forms of the House, he was precluded from offering any proposition at that stage which had for its object to increase the scale of duties beyond that proposed by the Government, he was compelled to adopt the present as the only occasion on which he could state his views. His right hon. Friend in his opening speech, introducing the measure of the Government, stated, and stated most truly, that it was a difficult matter to consider or to propose any scale of duties on the importation of corn without at the same time taking into consideration the question of averages. That part of the measure of the Government would not, in his (Mr. Christopher's) opinion, give the producer of corn in this country sufficient control either as to fluctuating sales or averages. Still he would endeavour to postpone any observations he might have to make on that part of the subject until the bill was in committee; and he should, therefore, strictly confine himself now to the subject of the scale of duties. In the first place, he was willing to admit that the scale proposed by his right hon. Friend was, in some respects, a considerable improvement on that under which the duties were now levied. Coupling the scale with the question of the mode of taking the averages, he must say, that he could not but look at it as a considerable improvement. But he thought he could show that if they were to judge at all from past experience, that scale would not afford sufficient protection to the producer of corn in this country,—not at that period when protection was not particularly required,—not at the period of an unusually abundant harvest,—but at the period of an average harvest, or a deficient harvest, when the producer, with all his energy, skill, and industry, was barely receiving a remunerating profit. He also agreed with his right hon. Friend in the opinion which he had expressed, as to the difficulty there was in attempting to say what, at all times, and all seasons, and under all circumstances, ought to be a sufficiently remunerating price to the producer of wheat. It was impossible to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion, without taking into consideration the relative value of other agricultural produce. hut he thought he might safely say, that no one would accuse him of making an exaggerated statement; on the contrary, he was sure he would be considered by many well judging persons to be very moderate in his statement, when he said, that when the price of wheat was 56s., that of barley ought to be 30s., that of oats 23s., and that of wool at least 30s. for every 28lb. It was a difficult matter to determine at all times, and under all circumstances, what the value was of agricultural produce on the continent. It was also difficult to form an opinion at all times, and under all circumstances, of what the price of freight, insurance, and other charges attendant upon bringing wheat into this country, ought to be. He had made it his business to gather information on the subject from private sources, but it was of so contradictory a nature that he would not more particularly refer to it. He would, however, say, that from all the information he had received he was fully convinced of this fact, that her Majesty's Government in legislating on this important question ought not to be guided in any degree by the information of Mr. Meek. That Gentleman stated, that the price at which wheat might be shipped from all quarters of Europe was 40s. 6d. per quarter. Now, that, in his opinion, was at least 10s. too high. If he could judge in any degree from the price at which foreign corn had been sold in bond during the last fourteen years, he must arrive at a very different conclusion from Mr. Meek; but he should be unwilling to ground his arguments entirely upon the price at which foreign corn had been sold in bond in the eastern ports of England. He, however, would repeat that which he had stated elsewhere, that he conceived it to be the duty, and also the interest of the British producer, to allow the consumer in this country to procure the chief necessary of life, at the lowest possible rate at which he himself could afford to grow it. He was convinced if it could be proved that in ordinary years, and under ordinary circumstances, foreign wheat could be brought into this country, exclusive of profit insurance and duty, at as low a price as.26s., the maximum duty ought not to be less than 30s. If it could be brought at 34s., which he believed it could be in ordinary years, the maximum duty ought not to be less than 25s. But from the information derived from Mr. Meek, it could not be placed free on board under 40s. 6d. Now, if he could concede that Mr. Meek was right and that he was wrong, then would he say, that the measure of her Majesty's Government ought to be sufficiently satisfactory to the agricultural interest, and that the maximumduty of 20s. would afford to it a sufficient protection. He did not wish to rely exclusively on any information he had received regarding what the price of wheat in bond had been in this country during the last few years, but he wished to state, that he had received a communication from a very eminent merchant at Hull, who had been engaged in the corn trade for upwards of forty years, which he thought would be satisfactory to the hon. Member for Lambeth, and other hon. Members at that side of the House, so far at least as distinctly showing, that from the prices at which foreign corn was sold at Hull, there could be nothing prohibitory in the scale of duties proposed by her Majesty's Government. From the information forwarded to him by that gentleman, he found that in the year 1832 the lowest price of foreign wheat in bond sold at Hull was 32s. per quarter, and the highest in the same year 41s. 6d. In 1834, he sold as much as 1,589 quarters at Hs., which was the lowest, the highest price in that year being 30s. In 1835, the price ranged from between 17s. to 20s. 6d.; in 1836, from 17s. up to as high as 42s.; in 1837, the lowest price was 27s. 6d., and the highest 39s. He would proceed now to test the scale of the right hon. Baronet by another proof. He would suppose, for the purpose, that the right hon. Baronet's scale had been in operation during the last fourteen years, and if he could show under that supposition, that the producer of corn in this country could have been undersold in his own market, when the price ranged between 50s. and 56s. he thought he was entitled to ask the Government to reconsider their measure, and—the committee having already sanctioned the principle of protection—to ask for that protection when the price should vary between 50s. and 56s. The consequences to be dreaded, when the price was under 50s. were not from any unusual competition from abroad, but from an abundant harvest at home; and, judging from past experience, it would appear that a maximum duty of 20s. was sufficient protection when the price was below 50s., but not when it was between 50s. and 56s. There was nothing more likely to discourage agriculture and the outlay of capital on land than for those engaged in it to find when expecting to receive a remunerating profit for their industry and labour, that they were undersold in the home market by the foreign competitor. He had stated that when the price was under 50s. the maximum duty of 20s. would be a sufficient protection, and to prove it he would refer to a return which had been presented to the House on the 30th of March, 1840, by the hon. Baronet who represented the western division of the county of Cornwall, showing the highest and lowest weekly averages in England compared with those of certain ports in Europe. He would take for example the lowest average of each successive year in England from 1829 to 1838, and set against it the lowest average in certain places on the continent. He would then add a certain sum for freight, and insurance and apply a maximum duty of 20s. when the price ranged under 50s. He would next apply the same test to those years in which the price ranged above 50s.; and so prove, when the price averaged from 50s. to 56s at least, that in almost every such instance the producer of corn in this country would have been undersold by foreigners in the home market. In four of those years, between 1829 and 1836, the average price in England was under 50s. as appeared from the following return, which also gave the lowest average prices at four European ports:

England. Dantsic. Memel. Hamburgh. Odessa.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
1833 49 2 26 4 23 5 23 2 19 7
1834 40 6 23 2 23 5 23 2 21 10
1835 36 0 20 1 19 4 20 9 16 2
1836 36 0 21 10 18 1 21 1 16 2

He now proposed to add a sufficient sum for freight and all other charges ex- cepting profit and duty. A question certainly arose as to what that sum ought to be; and if he chose to argue it, he could refer to extreme cases. He had been informed that foreign wheat had been brought into the port of Hull for 10d. a quarter, into Gainsborough for 8d., and into Wakefield for 3s. He, therefore, to avoid dispute upon the subject, would allow 5s. a quarter on wheat imported from the Bale tic, and 10s. from Odessa. Add this sum for freight, and insurance, and then add 20s., the proposed duty, and they would find the following to be the prices of foreign corn imported into this country from the places specified, when corn in England was under 50s.:

England. Dantsic. Memel. Hamburgh. Odessa.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
1833 49 2 51 4 48 5 48 2 49 7
1834 40 6 48 2 48 5 48 2 51 10
1835 36 0 45 1 44 4 45 9 46 2
1836 36 0 46 10 43 1 46 1 46 2

This was in favour, so far as it went, of the proposal of her Majesty's Government but let him take the other six years, whet: the lowest price in this country ranged between 50s. and 56s.—50s. being the lowest price, under all circumstances, and in the opinion of persons well informed on the subject, at which the agriculturists could afford to grow it. The following table would show what was the price of foreign corn when in England the price ranged between.50s. and 56s.:

England. Dantsic. Memel. Hamburgh. Odessa.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
1829 55 4 30 8 23 3 31 7 0 0
1830 55 5 29 9 22 2 27 8 16 0
1831 59 2 40 2 31 4 34 9 19 10
1832 51 3 28 10 0 0 27 7 18 0
1837 51 0 23 2 20 5 24 2 17 11
1838 52 4 24 1 23 0 27 3 18 1

Adding the charge for freight, and the duty proposed by her Majesty's Government, to these prices, and they had the result as follows:

England. Dantsic. Memel. Hamburgh. Odessa.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
1829 55 4 52 8 45 3 53 7 0 0
1830 55 5 51 9 44 2 49 8 43 0
1831 59 2 58 2 49 4 52 9 42 10
1832 51 3 52 10 0 0 51 7 47 0
1837 51 0 47 2 44 5 48 2 46 11
1838 52 4 47 1 46 0 50 3 46 1

Now in legislating upon a matter of this great importance, and upon which there were so many conflicting opinions, he thought that the safest way to proceed would be not to legislate on any specula- tive representations which might have been derived either from persons engaged in the corn trade, or even from those gentlemen employed by the Government to ascertain the rate of continental prices. There was no doubt that Mr. Meek had conscientiously discharged his duty; but they should be very cautious in acting upon information so derived, lest, by so doing, they should give a blow to the agriculture of this country, which would have the effect of throwing out of cultivation a large portion of that poor description of soil upon which the greatest amount of capital and labour was expended—an expenditure let it be remarked, which was not to be recovered in the same manner as capital vested in manufactures. It was easy for those gentlemen who informed them that they owed no allegiance to the soil of England to pack up their mills and go to a foreign country: but capital vested in the soil could not be so withdrawn and vested elsewhere. The manufacturer, moreover, considered himself entitled to an enormous profit on his outlay of capital, while the agriculturist was contented with a very small amount of remuneration. Taking the whole Of this part of the subject into consideration, he would entreat the committee to pause before they sanctioned a state of things which in his humble opinion must have the effect of throwing the poorer description of soil out of cultivation, and not only that, but possibly, by dealing a blow to the agricultural interest, inflict at the same time a serious injury also upon the manufactures of the country. He would now shortly test the scale of the right hon. Baronet in another way. He would refer to the consul's returns of continental prices during the six years from 1834 to 1839 inclusive. He took those years because they presented a pretty fair average as to seasons and prices, three of them being cheap years, one a year of moderate production, and the two others years of dearth. Taking the average prices at Riga, Konigsberg, Dantsic, and Odessa, and comparing them with the prices in England during the years he had mentioned, they would find the following results.

Year. Average price at Riga. Average price in England.
s d s d
1834 24 1 46 2
1835 22 6 39 4
1836 24 0 48 6
1837 26 4 55 10
1838 36 10 64 7
1839 37 4 68 6

The average for those six years at Riga was 28s. 6d., whilst in England it was 53s. 9d. Looking at all the places he had referred to, the average for the six years was as follows:—

Riga Konigsberg. Dantsic. Odessa. England.
s d s d s d s d s d
28 6 27 5 30 6 21 6 53 9

Now, adding to these amounts the 5s. from the Baltic, and 10s. from Odessa for freight, and the 18s. for duty, which would be taken when corn was at a less price than 54s., they would find that the prices of the different wheats when brought into this market would be:—

Riga Wheat Konigsberg Wheat Dantsic Wheat Odessa
s d s d s d s d
51 6 50 5 53 6 49 6

Whilst the price of English wheat would be 53s. 9d. Thus it was clear that the effect of the scale proposed by the Government would be to render the farmer liable to be undersold in his own market—not in years of scarcity, but in years when there was an abundance, and when, in fact, the British agriculturist sought to be competing with each other rather than with the foreign producers. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, tin the course of the speech in which he had opened this question to the House, had said, that looking at all the circumstances, he thought the farmers ought to be satisfied with from Ms. to 58s. as a remunerating price. Now, he felt confident that if this scale were adopted, the British producers would rarely receive 54s. Giving them all the advantages derivable from the scale—giving them every advantage derivable from the revision of the list of towns in which the averages were taken—he felt sure that they would nevertheless rarely get 54s. under the new law. He did not think that the additions to the list of towns in which the averages were struck would make any material difference in the price. The alterations might make some slight difference in favour of the farmer, but, upon the whole, he did not think they could make a difference of above 2s. upon the price of the quarter of wheat. That he knew was the opinion of practical persons and of those who were engaged in the trade. Now, under such a state of things, he really could not but look to the probable operation of the Ministerial scale with considerable apprehension. It was all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that this was only a question of rent— that it was merely a matter that affected the landed aristocracy; but that was not the case. If the great landed proprietors were the only persons likely to be affected, he was ready to say at once that if they supposed that by agreeing to this scale, and by surrendering some of the superfluities and luxuries they commanded, they would arrive at a permanent settlement of the question, in such a case he was prepared to say that they might adopt this scale. Nay, be would go further. He would say, that rather than allow the agitation of this corn question to be continued, the landed proprietors would agree to the proposition advocated by the noble Lord, the Member for Loudon, of a fixed duty, if they could do so without sacrificing the interests of all classes who are dependent on agriculture. But, as he said before, it was not the great landed proprietors only who would suffer. Others would be injured who had no luxuries or superfluities to part with, but who rather moved in a circle of usefulness than of enjoyment. A class would be affected who formed one of the most useful parts of the population, who were a connecting link between the large landed proprietors and their poorer dependents, and when it was recollected that this class had entered into engagements upon the faith of the existing law, he was sure the House would feel how cautious they ought to be in making any alteration in its provisions by which they could be at all injuriously affected. He had the honour to represent a body of constituents who were solely dependent on the cultivation of the soil. One and all in that district looked with alarm to the operation of the projected scale. An hon. Member who had spoken the other night had asserted the rate of wages in some parts of England to be not more than 6s. or 7s. a week. If that calculation were correct, all he would say, was, that he greatly deplored the fact, and that he regretted temptations to crime should be put in the way of the labourer, by not giving him a remunerating price for his exertions. He thought that excellent association, the Royal Agricultural Society, should turn their attention to the subject, with a view of inducing all who employed agricultural labourers to give them fair remunerating wages for their labour. In Lincolnshire, however, he was glad to say, that wages were by no means so low as they were represented to be elsewhere. The rate in that county was from 13s. 6d. to 15s. a week, and it was his opinion, that when prices were fair, the labourers ought not to receive less—he was quite satisfied that his constituents did not desire to pay less. They wished to see their labourers well off, and they never begrudged them a fair rate of payment when they could afford it. They would much rather pay a high price for bread than have wages at that diminished rate to which he feared they would fall if the Government scale were to be adopted. He had said in the outset that he would strictly confine his observations to the consideration of the scale, and should refrain altogether from discussing the general merits of the law. He might be permitted, however, to say a few words regarding the proposed alterations in the duties on barley. The arguments which applied to some other sorts of grain did not, in his opinion, apply to that species of corn. Barley did not form an essential article of food, and, in addition to that circumstance, it ought to be especially borne in mind, that it already paid a very heavy tax in the shape of the malt tax. They would recollect, too, that any discouragement to the growth of barley might prove to be a discouragement to the rearing of sheep and cattle, for it was a well-known fact, that in those farms on which barley was cultivated to the greatest extent, the largest quantity of stock was reared. There was, too, with regard to that grain, much additional expense and trouble in cultivation; and considering that and other circumstances, he did hope that her Majesty's Ministers would, before it was too late, consider the inexpediency of any reduction in the scale of duties on the importation of foreign grain of that description. If they did reduce the protection at present existing, he greatly feared the interests of agriculturists would, with respect to that species of grain, be most injuriously affected. He had now concluded all he had to say with regard to this subject. No one, he was sure, would accuse him of wishing to secure an undue protection for the agriculturist, or with taking an exaggerated view of the protection to which they were entitled in consequence of the burdens which they bore. Neither could it be said that he exaggerated the evil effects which might follow a removal of that protection, or that he was giving an opposition to the Government scale, because he attached any undue importance to the law as it at present existed: On the contrary, the fact was, that during the interval between the last Session and the present, he had applied his mind to the subject, and, after mature consideration, had endeavoured to prepare his constituents for material alterations in the existing system. He knew that he had incurred much odium. He had been accused of concerting with the Government to overthrow the agricultural interest by altering the present law. He could, however, safely put it to the Government whether he had ever had any communication with them, either directly or indirectly, upon the subject. Having great confidence in her Majesty's Ministers—having especial confidence in the industry, the persevering zeal, and the great talent of his right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Board of Trade—it was not without much hesitation that he ventured to propose a scale in any degree different from that he had submitted to the House. But it seemed to him most important that they should have an extra 5s. duty at the lower prices in the scale. But, however the House might decide the question, whether they concurred with him in opinion or not, he trusted they would discuss the matter dispassionately and fairly, and he could assure them that it should be his object to comply with the law, rather than throw the reins of Government into the hands of a party, whose policy was wholly subversive of the interests of agriculture. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, as an amendment, the first resolution of the following scale, namely, that when the average price of wheat was—

50s. and under 51s., the duty should be 25s.

The remainder of the hon. Gentleman's scale, which was not put, was as follows:—

51s.. and under 52s.. the duty should be 24s..
52s.. 53s.. 23s..
53s.. 54s.. 22s..
54s.. 55s.. 21s..
55s. 56s.. 20s..
56s.. 57s.. 19s..
57s.. 58s.. 18s..
58s.. 59s.. 17s..
59s.. 60s.. 16s..
60s.. 61s.. 14s..
61s.. 62s.. 13s..
62s.. 63s.. 12s..
63s.. 64s.. 11s..
64s.. 65s.. 10s..
65s.. 66s.. 9s..
66s.. 67s.. 8s..
67s.. 68s.. 7s..
68s.. 69s.. 6s..
69s.. 70s.. 5s..
70s.. 71s.. 4s..
71s.. 72s.. 3s..
72s.. 73s.. 2s..
73s., 1s.,
Mr. F. T. Baring

said, he must confess that he felt no small degree of surprise that no hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial bench had risen to reply to the speech they had just heard. It seemed as if it were intended that there should be no debate on this proposition—a proposition which, in point of fact, whether they debated it or not, he contended, the House could not decide at all. With the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, he objected very strongly to a 20s. duty, though probably their objections were taken on widely different grounds. It seemed to him, that this was a very convenient period for entering upon a part of the discussion that had not yet been touched. He thought this was a very proper time to call for some information as to the principle of the scale they were asked to adopt. But before he went into that part of the question, he must take leave to express his surprise as to the manner in which this proposition had been brought forward. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire had looked behind him in vain—not one of his agricultural friends appeared prepared to support him. If he had not interfered, perhaps not a single word would have been said by those who on the hustings had committed themselves, and so stoutly advocated the principle of "No surrender." No doubt, the hon. Member had brought forward his motion in the manner the hon. Member thought best calculated to advance it, but he must say, that he did not think the agricultural interest could be complimented on the discretion of their champion. The way to bring forward a motion with the greatest probable chance of success, was not to submit it in such a manner that it would be contrary to the rules of the House to take an opinion on it. They had heard of "sciomachy" on another occasion, but this was indeed a fight of shadows. His chief object, however, was to gather from the Government what were the principles on which they founded their scale. The House, he understood, had now decided on adopting the sliding system. They had rejected the fixed duty, and by rejecting the proposal of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, they had confirmed the principle of protection. But, although they had approved of its principle, they had as yet said very little in defence of the proposed sliding scale. He would not quarrel with them for that, because, perhaps, they would excuse themselves by saying, that they had not until that evening got into the details; but at any rate, they were among the details now, and therefore the present time was the proper time for a full and complete explanation. He felt satisfied, that when the Government looked at the facts, they would feel it to be their duty to give that explanation. What was the resolution before them? They were asked to decide that "whenever the average price of wheat, made up and published in the manner required by law, shall be for every quarter under 51s., the duty on the importation of foreign wheat shall be for every quarter 1l." "Made up and published in the manner required by law." Those words raised at once the whole question as to the mode of taking the averages. Their attention had hitherto been directed to a comparison of one system with another; but now they had at last come to the main part of the question. The hon. Member opposite had said, that considerable alterations would be made in the average prices by the mode of taking the averages. He need not go any further after the speech of the hon. Gentleman; he had the hon. Gentleman for a fair witness, although his interest might have made him an unwilling witness. The hon. Gentleman said 5s. was exaggerated, but that there might be a difference to the extent of 2s.; he admitted a difference of 2s., after having given great attention to the subject. He took that admission; he spoke entirely without the slightest intention to hint a doubt whether the right hon. Baronet opposite had really the intention which he stated to the House, not to make any alteration in the mode of taking the averages that would increase the amount of protection. He should be very sorry that any word should fall from him, imputing a concealment of intentions to the right hon. Baronet. He did the right hon. Baronet only justice in supposing that the right hon. Gentleman had a perfect conviction that what he had stated would occur. It was impossible to think otherwise, because, though hon. Gentlemen opposite might, if they pleased, carry the question by the point of the bayonet—though they might do that if they wished it—still it was not possible to suppose that they could think of carrying it by cheating the public. He thought, particularly after the statement of the hon. Gentleman, that the public had a right, and the House, before it passed this vote, had a right, to obtain from the right lion. Baronet that information and those papers which he was quite sure the right hon. Baronet and his colleagues had had before them in the Cabinet, when, after having maturely considered this subject, they announced an alteration in the mode of taking the averages, which, at the same time, the right hon. Baronet assured the House would have no effect on the result. He was quite sure that there must be some information on this head, and that the House ought to have it before them. It was clear, for instance, that London had a price which, without the slightest fraud, rose considerably above the general average of the country; that was the case with all large markets; but it was particularly so with London. The sales in London bore a certain relative proportion to the whole amount of the sales of corn. Now, the right hon. Gentleman altered the whole amount of the sales; he threw 150 new towns into the list of places for determining the averages. The House knew nothing of the quantity sold in those markets, but it was quite clear that any reduction of the proportion which London bore to all the other markets was in itself a disturbing cause, and must have some effect upon the averages. He took it for granted that the right hon. Gentleman had some information as to the sales which took place in the markets he threw in, and that he would give it to the committee. He was quite sure that the Cabinet, which had deliberately considered the whole subject, could not have been without information as to this point, and that the right hon. Baronet would see the propriety of imparting it to the committee. There was another matter with respect to which he thought some information was required. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had introduced on an early day of the present Session a bill for regulating the trade of the British possessions; one of the right hon. Gentleman's resolutions proposed to lay a duty of 3s. a-quarter on corn imported into Canada. His noble Friend near him (Lord J. Russell), while approving of the bill in other respects, stated that he had a strong objection to this part of it; he entered a caveat as to assenting to the 3s. duty. A question was subsequently put to the right hon. gentleman on this sub- ject, and the answer, as far as he could understand it, was, that the proposed duty was now under the consideration of Government, and that they had not decided whether they would persist in it or abandon it, but that the measure would be laid on the Table of the House, to afford time for consideration. The House had a right to he informed of the decision to which Government had come. He recollected that when he had to bring forward the subject of the sugar duties he had, in the interval between making the proposition and printing it, made some little alteration in one part of the plan, in consequence of representations that had been made to him, in order to avoid raising a strong opposition. He remembered the bitter attack made upon him by the right hon. Gentleman in consequence of the alteration thus made. He remembered, that though the right hon. Gentleman admitted that his character precluded the supposition of unfairness, he said that nothing but his character could save him from the imputation that there was something very unfair in that proceeeding. He remembered that the right bon. Baronet, the present First Lord of the Treasury, in one of the three set speeches he made, stated, as one of the grounds on which he could not accede to the proposed measure of Her Majesty's Government on the sugar duties, that it bad been so ill-advised and ill-considered, that an alteration had actually been made between the time of proposing the duty and that of printing it. But what an outcry there would have been if he had acted as the right hon. Baronet did with respect to the bill for regulating the trade of the British possessions! If he had proposed a corn bill for Canada, and left the House in a state of uncertainty afterwards whether Government would go on with it or not; and if at the same time he had said, as the right hon. Baronet did, that in consequence of the inconvenience which the trade was suffering from the uncertainty which prevailed respecting the Corn-laws, he begged and prayed the House to make baste in getting through his measure, there would have been no end to the attacks which he should have provoked. He should have been attacked in every possible way, by the fluency and talent of the right hon. Gentleman, (the Vice-President of the Board of Trade) and by the more effective and more solemn Mode in which the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government would have expressed his censure, in three set speeches against a Government which had actually ventured to introduce a measure without considering alt the details. There was another part of the scale of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to which the House had had no information whatever. He was starting with the admission that they were now to deal with a sliding scale. They had adhered to a sliding scale; that was the principle of the bill. They had disregarded all the modern opinions on this subject. It was admitted that, generally speaking, the merchants would be in favour of a fixed duty, but there were certain reasons so overwhelming that it was determined to adhere to the principle of a sliding-scale. Nevertheless, on two different points this principle seemed to be so exceedingly weak that the slides were put an end to, and he was anxious to learn from the right hon. Baronet the principle on which the two rests in the scale were introduced. On this subject there had been much mystery: a solemn silence had been observed. He had heard that many in the Government, and especially the right hon. Baronet, laid great stress on these two rests. "We begin," said the right hon. Gentleman, "from 51s. to 52s. Then we slide Is., but there we stop. Our principle is good between 51s. and 52s., though it is not good when the duty comes to 18s.; above that there is a fixed duty. But the moment we come to 52s., between 52s. and 55s. our principle ceases—we have no slide, we have a fixed scale." He should be glad to learn why the rate at which we proceeded between 51s. and 52s. was on a sudden suspended between 52s and 55s., and then again on a sudden we began to slide till we came down to 66s., when a fixed duty applied till the prices was 69s. There was something very remarkable about those numbers. In the scale proposed by Mr. Canning, and stated by him to have been framed by Lord Liverpool, the principle of the sliding scale was maintained throughout; there was neither rest nor any other amelioration; its authors adhered throughout to certain principles, and thus showed their reliance and confidence in them. They, however, were turned out, and the bill was rejected at that time by a transaction to which he would not allude further; but the right hon. Baronet and the noble Duke who was now in the other House came in and formed their Administration, and brought forward a plan which followed the sliding-scale up to this very point, from 65s. to 66s. There was something in this number which seemed inimical to the principle of a sliding-scale, for the old bill struck at that point into what was called a jumping scale, which continued to the vanishing point. That feature was now abandoned, although at the time it was thought a great advantage, and supposed to be one of the chief beauties of the plan. It was considered a proof of wisdom to set aside Mr. Canning's and Lord Liverpool's plan, and to substitute a jumping scale. But Mr. Canning had had his revenge, for of all the absurdities of the sliding-scale that was now admitted to be the most flagrant. At 66s. you jumped then, but now you pause. He should be glad to learn why the right hon. Baronet, who in 1828 was convinced that just at 66s. it was necessary to abandon the aliding-scale and to jump, should at the present moment now impose on us the necessity, not of jumping or sliding, but of falling back to complete quiescence by a halt. He should be happy to hear from the Government some explanation of this extraordinary change in their opinions. For his own part, be frankly told the right hon. Gentleman that the pauses would receive no opposition from him. He accepted them as an admission that the sliding-scale would not do pure and unmitigated; he took them as a confession that it was a failure. There must clearly be some important reason why the principle of the sliding scale, which was so admirable between 51s. and 52s. should cease and determine from 52s. to 55s., and be replaced by a fixed duty. He should wish also to have some information as to the views by which the right hon. Baronet had been guided in fixing the amount at which he wished to have corn sold; but he admitted that nothing could be more absurd, more inconvenient, and more unsatisfactory than to have to discuss in committee of the whole House the price at which corn ought to be sold, but he could not help it. That was the object of the light hon. Baronet's bill, the fault of the principle he had chosen; but if the principle was unalterable, would the right hon. Baronet have the goodness to tell bin bow he bad arrived at that re- sult? The right hon. Baronet had half smothered him with papers, and he asked the right hon. Baronet to tell him out of those papers how he made out his calculation. A sort of solemnity had been observed as to the conduct of this inquiry. The newspapers teemed with accounts of the right hon. Baronet's exertions to obtain papers; and it was announced, that a gentleman had been sent abroad expressly to procure statistical information. It was understood, also, that the Vice-President of the Board of Trade was making inquiries in the home market as to the prices of grain. He thought the House should have that information before them. They had been told that the Cabinet was in anxious deliberation, and it was but right, that they should have the means of judging as to those deliberations, and the result to which they had led. The right hon. Baronet stated, that from 54s. to 58s. was the price which he proposed to secure to the farmer by his measure. He was anxious, although the process would be very dry and very dull, to go into the right hon. Baronet's figures, and test their accuracy, though the right hon. Baronet had found it necessary to go so much into details, that he was almost afraid of following him. Perhaps, however, he might be permitted to ask a few questions and look at a few figures, in order to see whether, in point of fact, the right hon. Gentleman's bill would have the effect which he stated, that he expected from it. He, of course, could not avail himself of the private information to which the right hon. Gentleman said he had access; he should go simply by the papers which that right hon. Gentleman had been good enough to give him, and really he had been much surprised to find each successive paper as it was put into his hand more and more conclusive against the right hon. Gentleman's scale. The hon. Gentleman opposite had remarked, that it would be an advantage to know what would have been the effect of the right hon. Baronet's plan if it had been enacted in former days. He thought, that was not a bad mode of testing its merits. He was afraid his figures differed in every possible way from those of the right hon. Baronet, but he wished to inquire, not from private information, hut from the papers on the Table, what would have been the effect of the proposed scale if it bad existed since 182S He main- tained, that there would be no trade in corn of any the slightest importance when the price in this country was at 60s, That was his strong impression; of course he might be wrong; it was difficult to arrive at certainty on such a-subject; but if they would legislate upon it, they must expect to fall into mistakes. But he would state the opinion he had formed from, considering the papers, so far as they went, and so far as he could understand them. The calculations of the right km. Gentleman (the Secretary for the Home Department) had not in the least shaken his opinion on the subject; and as far as he could see corn would not be imported under 60s. He would not go through all the figures, but first it was necessary to fix what should be considered a fair allowance for freight and other extra charges. The right lion. Baronet allowed from 4s. to 5s. per quarter. He knew the right hon. Baronet had taken the figures from the return given by Mr. Meek, a gentleman of whose prudence and experience he was well aware, stating the expense of freight only; but if due consideration had been given to Mr. Meek's statements, it would have been seen, that there were other expenses which greatly increased the price of corn before it could be introduced into the English market. Evidently the whole amount of the price to which the foreign article would rise before it could compete with that of the English dealer must be looked to, and not merely the expense of freight. There was great risk in the trade, and the expense of insurance, as well as other items of charge, must be considered. He had mentioned the right hon. Baronet's own deduction from the papers he had himself furnished for the guidance of the House; but he would inquire whether the right hon. Baronet bad correctly made that deduction. In page 37 of Mr. Meek's report, it was stated that a question was put as to the amount of freight, insurance, and the charges on the exportation of corn to England. What was the answer to this question? 4s. 6d.? Not at all. The freight was stated to be about 4s. or 5s. a quarter; the insurance in summer was said to be ½per cent., and in winter 5 per cent. The total charges, including Sound dues, which were quite omitted by the right hon. Baronet, were about 6s. a quarter. To this there must be added, on account of expenses attending the sale when the corn was taken from ships to England, a sum of 4s. 6d. to 5s. a quarter, making in the whole about 10s. 6d. a quarter. This was the statement of Mr. Meek. If so much was said in September last about the necessity of additional information, and so much show of diligence in procuring it had been made, why did Ministers come down and tell the House that they threw their agent entirely overboard, and laid his statements aside, as not thinking it worth while to trouble themselves with considering them? From Dantzic, then, the charges would be as he had stated them, and from Stettin they would be about 10s. It was not his fault if the allowance was exorbitant. He would now try to follow the right hon. Baronet in his calculations. When the average price of wheat in England was 60s., comparing it with the price at Dantzic, and taking the price of freight as he had stated it, and the duty proposed by the right hon. Baronet to be charged in his bill, he was prepared to show that there would be no competition between the importers of wheat from Dantzic and the English grower. He admitted that when the price was above 60s., here there would be some importation. In 1828, then, the price in England averaged 60s. 5d.; he took it from the report of a committee of which both the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department were members. He would take this official document, which was of infinitely greater authority than any private information, as the basis of his calculation. In 1828, he found it was there stated that the price of wheat at Dantzic was 40s. 2d. Then 40s, + 10s. for the expenses of importation, with a duty of 14s., would give the price to 62s., the price of English wheat being 60s. 5d. In 1829, 1830, and 1831, the average price in the English market was 64s. to 66s., and he had already admitted that when the price here exceeded 60s. there might be some interference with the monopoly. The price fell in 1832 to 58s. 8d. In that year the Dantzic price was 38s., which, adding 10s. and a duty of 12s., would bring a price of 62s. on importation. There could, therefore, have been no interference in that year. In 1833 the price of English wheat was 52s. 11d.; the price at Dantzic was 30s.; the duty according to the scale of the right hon. Baronet would have been 18s., and adding 10s. the price would be brought to 58s., while the English price would be 52s. He came now to 1834. a year when prices were extremely low in both countries. In England it was 46s.; in Dantzic it was 25s., which, with a duty of 20s. + 10s. expenses, would make the price of Dantzic wheat imported 55s., very much higher than the English price of 46s. In 1835 the price of wheat in England, according to Mr. Wilson's statement, was 39s.; at Dantzic it was 32s. 9d., making, with the duty of 20s., 52s. 9d. In 1836 the price in England was 48s. 6d., in Dantzic 33s. 6d.; which, with the duty of 20s. and the expenses of freight, &c., 10s., made 63s. 6d., while in this country wheat was selling at 48s. 6d. In 1837 the price in both places approximated very closely —Dantzic wheat being 39s. 4d., or with the duty 56s. 4d., and the English. wheat 55s. 10d. But it was in 1837, when there were long continued low prices in England, and when the ports were shut, the prices abroad being clearly below those that would rule under a free or regular trade, it was in alluding to this period that the hon. Member had shown himself bold indeed; and he thanked the right hon. Vice-President of the Board of Trade for having furnished him to-day with a return which was in direct opposition to his own proposition. There was nothing as a test upon this subject to be compared to the experience furnished by the wheat actually brought into the English market. There had been a certain trade since 1828, and a return had been laid on the Table of the duty payable on each quantity of grain, the time it was introduced into England, and at what price. This afforded a conclusive mode of ascertaining the price, because the duty being deducted at once showed at what price' the corn was introduced. Up to 1834 he found there was no trade whatever worth speaking of. From 1834 to 1837 some little wheat was introduced at a great loss, paying a high duty. Looking for any useful calculation, if hon. Gentlemen would turn to the paper delivered that morning, they would see that no corn whatever was introduced into this country under a duty of 20s. 8d. Now that was very high. When the duty was 20s. 8d. the average price in England must he between 66s. and 67s.; deducting, therefore, from 66s. 20s. 8d., which must have been paid as duty, there remained the price received free of duty —45s. 4d. To his mind this was conclusive, that, from 1828 down to the present time, there had been no important importation of corn under the price of 45s. 4d. His hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth had entered into a variety of calculations which led to the same conclusion. The consular returns, and the calculations he had himself made, came to that point. In another part of the papers delivered that day he found that in Guernsey, where there was a free-trade, the average price of foreign grain, from 1828 up to the present year, was 45s. In Jersey they also distinguished the price of foreign and home grown grain, and the average price of the former from 1828 ruled about 48s. He did not attach much weight to the returns from Guernsey and Jersey, two small islands in a particular position, yet it was very remarkable that they even went against, not for, the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet mentioned the case of Elsinore the other night, and calculated the price at which foreign wheat might be introduced into England from the price it bore at Elsinore. The right hon. Baronet, quoting Mr. Macgregor, had stated the average price at Elsinore for the last twenty-five years to be 28s. 10d. The fact, however, was, that this was not the price at Elsinore, but the average price of Denmark; the price might, nevertheless, vary in every port. The right hon. Baronet might as well quote the price at Riga as affording a necessarily accurate average over the whole of Russia, or calculate the price at Dantzic as the average price of Prussia. The price then which the right hon. Baronet relied upon was the average of the whole of Denmark—not the price at a particular port at all. Of course there might be some disturbing influence operating in that respect; but what said the right hon. Baronet's own papers? Even the price at Dantzic rose from 28s. to 30s., when there was a demand from abroad, and Mr. Macgregor stated that he felt satisfied the returns were not to be relied upon as indicative of what prices would be if there were any corn trade with England. The prices would then rise, and he stated distinctly that from 30s. to 35s. would be the price on which we should have to reckon, if there were anything like a corn trade with this country. Would the right hon. Ba- ronet have the goodness to answer him one simple question with regard to Elsinore? It was admitted that the price at Dantzic averaged 36s., and the right hon. Baronet attempted to persuade the House that the price at Elsinore was to be 28s. He knew the right hon. Baronet's great abilities, but he must be a wonderful conjuror indeed if he could tell how, or for what possible purpose, the corn merchants—those innocents of the Corn Exchange, as he called them—preferred going to Dantzic to buy wheat at 36s., paying a greater freight, insurance, and other charges, when they could get it for 28s. at Elsinore. Was there not on the face of it—he would not say absurdity —but the most glaring improbability? It was quite clear the wheat was not the same. No one would say that the wheat at Elsinore was as good as that at Dantzic, any more than he could fairly compare any sort of wheat with the best of English growth; but to persuade him that while the average price of fair wheat was 36s. at Dantzic, there was at Elsinore an interminable store at 28s. that would swamp the country, was perfectly out of the question. In fact, on the face of it, the statement appeared incredible and absurd.

Sir R. Peel

I did not say there was an "interminable store," nor does Mr. Macgregor.

Mr. F. Baring

understood the right hon. Baronet to state that much land would be turned to grain, and that an enormous quantity of it would be cultivated. That word "grain" frightened everybody. One hon. Gentleman used it with reference to corn; an Irishman would use it with reference to oats, and would be perfectly satisfied that all the land at Elsinore must he turned into the cultivation of oats. Another hon. Gentleman, who had talked to them of corn, currency, and Campbell's lines, might perhaps fix his standard on the wild and stormy steep of Elsinore, and declare his belief that the land would be turned to barley. But, after all, the average export of wheat from Dantzic was only 160,000 quarters. Taking the greatest exportation for the last twenty years from Elsinore, the bug-bear of to night, as Odessa was the bug-bear of last night, he found it was 200,000 quarters; and allowing the increase of 25 per cent., if there were a regular trade with England, accord- ing to the calculation of Mr. Macgregor, they would have the very fearful swamping sum of only 250,000 quarters, which the right hon. Baronet appeared to think would regulate the price and consumption of 26,000,000 of Englishmen. He begged pardon for having detained the House so long, but he hoped he had confined himself to the scale of the right hon. Baronet, and had not diverged into extraneous matter.

Mr. W. E. Gladstone

would endeavour to follow the right hon. Gentleman through the several points raised in the course of his speech; and, although the right hon. Gentleman had found it convenient to name his speech by reference to recent party strifes, he should certainly endeavour not to imitate the tone or temper of his remarks, and would at least commence his remarks in perfect calmness. First of all with respect to the system of averages. It certainly did astonish him to hear the late President of the Board of Trade give some countenance the other night to an estimate of the effect to be produced on the averages by the proposed change in the mode of taking them, of not less than 5s. per quarter upon the whole average price of England. He would designate that statement at once as capable of being arithmetically proved to be one of the grossest absurdities that ever had been broached. He would go a little into the details, and show the committee on what grounds he ventured so to designate the statement which the right hon. Gentleman did not altogether take upon himself, but which he signified to the House was, if not altogether credible, at least not altogether undeserving of attention. It was most important, however, to observe, in the first place, with respect to the new list of towns, that the intentions of his right hon. Friend had been clearly and explicitly declared; he had given the pledge, that, so far as human wit could go, Parliament should not be asked by the Government to adopt any change which was to produce a sensible and material effect upon the averages. lf, therefore, anything like a probable case could be shown of a serious effect on the averages, the list of towns already provisionally laid on the Table, subject to be corrected by further local information, would be open to alteration. In fact, with regard to these estimates, he must say the right hon. Gentleman, who put forward the proposition relating to an influence to the amount of 5s. per quarter, was under obligations to his hon. Friend, the Member for Lincolnshire, who countenanced not that statement itself, but was prepared to go even so much as two-fifths of the length. He was, on the other hand, prepared to show, that even that modified and reduced estimate was obviously and altogether beyond any rational calculation. If he took the population of the towns which now made returns for the purpose of being included in the averages, he found that, with the exception of London, it amounted to just 2,500,000, and with London added, the whole amounted, according to the census of 1831, to 3,982,000, or, in round numbers, to 4,000,000. The new towns included in the list on the Table of the House gave a population of 1,623,000. He did not pretend now to give the committee conclusive information; he hoped he should yet be able to produce something more, for the list was still in the progress of correction and digestion; but what he did pretend to do at this moment was, to show that the estimates advanced, whether by the right hon. Gentleman opposite or by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, were altogether unsupported by reasonable expectations. He was now going to test the value of the anticipations of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, that the averages would be influenced to the extent of 2s. a quarter by the change. But first of all let him say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Baring), that the hon. Member for Lincolnshire was not properly to be designated as an unwilling witness. On the contrary, he believed his hon. Friend was anxious to represent this plan to the agricultural interest of England in as favourable a light as he thought in fairness it would bear; and, so far from being an unwilling witness, he was a willing and eager witness to show to the English farmers, that the protection offered them came, if not up to the point he desired, at least so high as to be a sufficient protection. The hon. Member, then, thought that a difference of 2s. per quarter would be the effect of this mode of taking the averages. Now, the population of the hew towns being 1,600,000, and the population of the old towns 4,000,000, it was obvious that the former bore to the latter the proportion of about two to five. They had no means of proving the amount of grain sold in those new towns, for no official returns were made for those markets; but he assumed, that the quantities sold per head of the population was, on the whole, the same in the new as in the old towns. He was not aware of any cause materially to vary the quantities, nor if there were any such cause, in which direction it would operate, and further any slight difference either way, could not materially affect results. How did this affect the case? The new towns being to the old ones as two to five in number, it followed, if the infusion of the new towns was to raise the aggregate average by 2s. per quarter, that in those new towns taken as a whole, the average price of wheat must be lower by 7s. a quarter than in the old towns. Now, was there any man who could get up in his place and pretend that such would be the case? This was a statement not to be disputed; it was a clear arithmetical question. As the quantity sold to a population of 1,600,000 would bear something like the proportion of two to five, when compared with the amount sold to 4,000,000, if the price of wheat in the former lowered the whole average 2s., the price in the new towns must be no less than 7s. lower than in the old towns. He again asked whether there was a man in the committee who would get up and say he believed such to be the case? And this too, it should be observed, was merely with reference to the qualified estimate of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire. How did this apply to the estimate of the right hon. Gentleman opposite? If that estimate were true, it followed, unless he should be mistaken in his calculations, that the average price of wheat in the new towns must be lower than in the old towns by a sum of about 17s. 6d. per quarter. Let the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baring), who had been so severe on them for not paying sufficient attention to the details of their plan; let the right hon. Gentleman himself (a late Chancellor of the Exchequer, professor of the art of figures as he was; let him, when he next addressed the House, show the reasonableness of this moderate estimate, that the average price of corn in these new towns would prove to be 7s. per quarter lower than in the old ones. In point of fact, he believed it was impossible for any man, looking through the new list of towns, to form any estimate amounting to even one-half of that difference. Of course that list could not comprehend the very same proportion of the great markets, for this reason, that the old list selected the greatest centres of population and consumption; but the next greatest markets had been added. It might again be urged, that they had no means of ascertaining officially the amount of grain sold in these new markets; and there was some difficulty in forming an exact estimate. But this he would state, and the facts had greatly surprised himself, as at least some approximation to the truth. The greatest centres of population and consumption, where relatively to space there was the greatest accumulation of human beings, and consequently the greatest demand for corn, and therefore also the highest price, and where more particularly the operations in the corn trade and the scope for speculation, in order to influence the averages were most extensive, were the city of London and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Now, he had an inquiry made into the relations borne for all the weeks of three successive years, 183941, by the London and Yorkshire markets to the average of the residue of the kingdom, without London and Yorkshire; of course there would be no objection to place the return, if it were desired, on the Table of the House. In 1839, singularly enough, down to the end of the month of June, the prices in London and Yorkshire, the two great centres of population, consumption and speculation. as returned to the inspectors and controllers of corn returns, were actually lower than the rest of the kingdom. In the latter part of the year the season of speculation came on, and the London and Yorkshire prices, instead of being lower, went above the general prices; they rose as much, in one particular week, as 6s. 11d. higher than the rest of the kingdom. He would read to the House the relation of the prices of the London and Yorkshire market with the prices of the rest of the kingdom for the first three months of the year 1839:—In the first week the London and Yorkshire prices were lower by 10d.; in the second week, they were 4d. lower; in the third, ld. lower; in the fourth, 9d. lower; in the fifth, 1s. 2d. lower; in the sixth and seventh, lower; in the eight,1s. 4d. lower; in the ninth, 2s. 4d. lower; in the tenth, 2s. 6d. lower; and in the eleventh and twelfth week likewise, 2s, 6d. lower. The prices continued generally lower, corn. pared with the rest of the kingdom, until the end of June; but about August they rose decidedly higher. The London and Yorkshire prices were, in the different weeks of August, as follows:—In the first week they were equal with the rest of the kingdom; in the second, 3s. higher; in the third, 2s. 2d. higher; in the fourth, 2s. l1d. higher; and in the fifth, 1s. 9d. higher. In September, the month of speculation, the London and Yorkshire prices were, in the first week, 3s. 2d. higher than the rest of the kingdom; in the second week, 4s. 10d. higher; in the third week, 4s. 11d. higher; and in the fourth week, 6s. 11d. higher. In October, they were. 6d. higher in the first week. They then fell a little, and again rose. in the year 1840 the result was as nearly as possible the same. To the end of the month of June the London and Yorkshire prices were decidedly lower than the prices of the rest of the kingdom. From July to August, when speculation prevailed, they were considerably higher. For the rest of the year they were sometimes higher and sometimes lower; but the greatest difference was a difference of 2s. 6d., and that was a difference of the rest of the kingdom over the London and Yorkshire prices. This was a phenomenon, a solution of which he should be glad to receive from the wisdom of hon. Gentlemen, whether sitting on the Opposition or Ministerial side of the House. In the year 1841 the London and Yorkshire prices were, with rare exceptions, higher than the prices of the rest of the kingdom; but the difference was only moderate, amounting to 1s. 6d. or 1s., until the season of speculation, from July to August, arrived, when they rose to an excess of, 6s. 8d. at the maximum. They then fell, and for the rest of the year they were sometimes higher and sometimes lower, but the difference was not more than from 1s. to 3s. He laid this statement before the committee as an approximation to the actual facts of the case, and as such he was not aware that it could be impeached. He trusted Parliament would have an opportunity of obtaining further evidence; but if there were any man credulous enough to believe that the average prices of wheat in one list of considerable towns were 7s. lower than in another set of generally corresponding character, the results which he had stated might tend to undeceive him. The right hon. Gentleman had subsequently alluded in terms of great exultation to the proposition which he had the honour to make, when he moved certain resolutions in regard to our colonial trade; and had attacked him for proposing to lay the enormous duty of 3s. on wheat imported into Canada. Now, suppose Government had seen cause to change their minds on the merits of any such question, they would not have been ashamed to have declared so. He was not learned in these matters, but he conceived that a more monstrous doctrine even in a country governed by an absolute monarch, much more in one enjoying free institutions, could not be broached, than that the executive government should he expected to stand by every detail however slight of every measure. [Lord J. Russell. That was what he used to say.] Nor was he aware that Gentlemen on his side had been accustomed to take exception to it. But he would remind the committee, that the noble Lord opposite did not, unfortunately, confine the alterations of his measures within such moderate bounds. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the alteration he made on the question of the sugar duties, and represented it as an analogous case, stating, that though he saw cause to alter his proposition yet he was blamed for doing so. Now, in the first place, he must observe, that that alteration was of a vital character; and in the second place, it was made without notice of any description to the House. When any alteration should be made in his propositions, he promised that due notice should be given of such change. [Mr. F. Baring: The alteration in the sugar duties was printed on the very morning when the expected discussion, which excited the anxiety of the whole kingdom, was to come on;] and the paper came into the hands of Members so late, that the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool entered the House to make his resolution, not knowing that such a paper was in existence. But he would not go further into these matters. With respect to the question which had been alluded to, he believed that no one in that House would contend that any regulation ought to be adopted in the new Corn-law which should raise a new barrier as against our trade with the United States. He had proposed laying a duty of 3s. on wheat imported into Canada. Should Parliament, however, lay a merely. nominal duty on the importation of Canadian flour and wheat into this country, he would not venture to pledge himself that it would not be right to lay the duty on the importation of American wheat into Canada, which stood in his resolution; but, if Parliament should adhere to the principle of a 5s. duty on the importation of Canadian wheat and flour in this country, in that case the 3s. duty would not be pressed upon the House.[Mr. La- bouchere. Is there to be a duty on American flour?] That question was scarcely before the House. But as an intention had been expressed to question the constitutional right of Parliament to lay such a duty, and as his silence might be construed into an admission that doubt existed on that head, he would at once state that,—as to the constitutional question involved in that duty, no doubt rested on the minds of those who introduced the measure; and likewise, that a duty on American flour was to be proposed. The right hon. Gentleman had afterwards proceeded to discuss the merits of the sliding scale, and objected to the system of rests or levels, or whatever they might be called. The right hon. Gentle. man exclaimed, "What a strange and extraordinary proceeding ! Where before there was an accelerated rate, there is now introduced a slow rate, nay an actual suspension, of descent." Why, the fact was, that this accelerated rate of descent was the cause of great mischiefs; and was the Government fairly liable to blame for attempting to cure those inconveniences by removing their cause, and substituting a scale of an opposite character, and the astonishment of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be grounded simply on the fact, that the Government had employed by way of remedy, an arrangement the reverse of that which had produced the existing evils? The right hon. Gentleman asked what was the object of this system of rests? It was obvious enough. It was to induce parties, when corn was at a price indicating a critical state of the market, and showing a tendency to rise to a rate inconvenient to the consumer, to bring out their corn, if they had hitherto held it back, and thus prevent the pressure which might otherwise ensue. The right lion. Gentleman was sarcastic on the subject of these rests, and said that their introduction was equivalent to a fixed duty, and that the sliding scale was not produced by the Government in a pure and unmixed form. What an unfortunate subject of raillery for the right hon. Gentleman or any of the late colleagues of the noble Lord on the opposite side of the House. Had they not the words of the noble Lord still ringing in their ears when he surrendered that fortress, the doctrine of an uniform inflexible duty, which so long as he was able he had gallantly defended? Did they not recollect the noble Lord's confession of the other night, that a fixed duty must be abandoned? The right hon. Gentleman adverted to the higher rest in the scale and inquired why it was proposed. The microscopic eye of the right hon. Gentleman was really too severe for any measure which human wit could devise. Now with respect to that proposal, he would only say that he thought if the committee considered 16s. a proper duty at 56s. price, and 20s. at 50s., here was a sufficient justification of the form of that part of the scale. Another point of the right hon. Gentleman was, that there would be no trade in corn under the proposed law, corn reached 60s. The right hon. Gentleman ascribed to the right hon. Baronet near him, an intention in proposing this measure to secure to the farmer a price between 54s. and 58s. It was strange, that such sentiments should be ascribed to the right hon. Baronet, when, in point of fact, he said nothing of the kind in the first speech he delivered, and when, within the last twenty-four hours, he had had occasion distinctly to deny that he had ever uttered anything resembling such a statement. The right hon. Baronet said, he should be glad if prices were to range between 54s. and 58s., but he accompanied the expression of this wish with an avowal, that in his belief it was totally impossible to fix prices by legislative enactments. But now let the committee examine the position, that there would be no trade in corn under the amended scale, until the price reached 60s. He had some doubt whether it was fair, after so much had been said by him on a former night, to detain the committee by any speculations or statements of figures on this point; but the right hon. Gentleman opposite had given them a sufficiency of figures, and so had the hon. Member for Lincolnshire. Their figures were very plausible; taken alone, each might seem demonstrative, but unfortunately they established contradictory conclusions. The right hon. Gentleman declared there would be no trade in corn until prices rose to 60s., while the hon. Member for Lincolnshire said, it would go hard with the farmer when prices ranged from 50s. to 55s. Let the committee look at the facts of the case. He would refer to a document containing the classified results of a great mass of information received from our consuls abroad, and relating to the point he was now discussing—the price at which great quantities of corn (and that was the substantial question they bad to consider) might be expected to be sent to this country. According to that report, 2,200,000 quarters might be expected to be imported at a price free on board of 37s. There were three places, Riga, Rotterdam, and Antwerp, at which corn would be higher in price, but the quantity which might be expected from them was not included in the amount of 2,200,000 quarters. He was now dealing with a very large quantity; and this quantity, if landed at 42s. might pay a duty of 15s., and enter here when prices were at 57s. or 58s., and not as the right hon. Gentleman said when they were over 60s. This was a matter of calculation, and, of course, admitted of no demonstration. Certain quantities might be introduced at lower rates. But this statement did not apply to the whole amount of the corn specified. In certain ports, the price was consider ably lower than in others,—in Odessa and Elsinore for instance. From the latter port, 175,000 quarters might be exported at the price of 28s. 10d., and from the former port, 150,000 quarters at the price of 26s. Mr. Meek calculated the freight and charges at 10s. 6d., from some port in the Baltic, but it was hardly fair to suppose that the gentlemen from whom Mr. Meek derived his information on every point, at every place, must be infallible with respect to all details without exception. He was indeed firmly persuaded, that he should be more near the mark in calculating 8s. for these charges; for he knew that persons connected with the corn trade, and therefore having every reason to procure as free a trade as possible, acknowledged that 8s. would be sufficient to cover the charges. He would therefore take the sum at 8s. Now, it must not be forgotten that a large quantity of corn was grown in this country, and it must not be forgotten, too, that that sum of 8s. would pay for the transport of the foreign corn to the markets, and the highest markets in England. The British farmer got, it was true, his price, but they must deduct from it the expense of bringing his corn to market, which would amount to 2s. or 2s. 6d. per quarter, which might be fairly set off against the sum paid by the importer; and this, consequently, left about 5s. to be put down to the debit of the importer of corn from abroad. Taking, then, the sum of 5s. for the charges from Elsinore and assuming also as in fair proportion 10s. from Odessa, and computing all the expenses, the result would be that, 150,000 quarters might be brought from Odessa for 36s. 6d., and 175,000 quarters from Elsinore for 38s. He did not assume, that the quality of the corn would be on the average equal to English wheat. Thus they would have for less than 40s. the quarter 325,000 quarters of wheat brought to this country from Odessa and Elsinore. Such was the result of the information furnished by the British consuls. And supposing a duty of 16s. per quarter paid by it, the price would not exceed 56s. in the British market. Further, how stood the case with respect to Dantzic? From that place 315,000 quarters might be expected; and, taking the information obtained by the hon. Gentleman opposite, the information supplied by Mr. Hubbard, it appeared that the average price for the last ten years had been 37s. 10d. If he added 5s. to that for the excess of expense in bringing the corn from the Baltic, the price would be raised to 42s. 7d., and Dantzic wheat, which was equal in quality to English wheat, might pay a duty of 15s. per quarter. The price, consequently in the British market of Dantzic wheat would then be 57s. The right hon. Gentleman had taunted the Members on the Ministerial side, with an indisposition to refer to the information supplied by the agents of the Government, and particularly the information furnished by Mr. Meek. He conceived, that the right hon. Gentleman himself, had been particularly wary or else particularly fortunate in the selection of his extracts from Mr. Meek. He had raised a great question with respect to the corn of Denmark, and disagreed from Mr. Meek's statement respecting the price of 28s. 10d. Now let the committee attend to what Mr. Meek said. Mr. Meek, in page thirty-three of his report, stated That the prices of corn in Denmark have, during the last twenty-five years, averaged for wheat 28s. 10d. per quarter; and, considering the depression of the corn market during the greater part of that period, and that the prospect of a permanent sale of corn in England, will be likely to render the continental markets more steady and firm than they have hitherto been, it is probable that the prices free on board would not be much below, for wheat, from 30s. to 31s. per quarter. That, therefore, was an answer to the hon. Gentleman's remarks respecting the price of corn in Denmark. If they took his amount and added 5s. to that 30s., for the cost of importation of Danish wheat into this country, it would make it 35s. and on this showing it might then pay a duty of 18s. and be sold at 52s. or 53s. The right hon. Gentleman had not confined himself to saying that no quantity capable of seriously affecting the British prices could be admitted under 60s., but had been so bold as to contend, that no trade in corn worth mentioning, could be carried on until the price was over 60s. a quarter in this country. Now, he had shown by the authority of Mr. Meek; and he had every reason to believe, that a certain quantity of corn which Denmark might yield might be imported into and sold in this country at 53s. or 54s., and, likewise, that from that point up to 60s. a quarter, there would be an increasing power of importation never reaching its maximum, indeed, or even anything like it, until the price passed 60s., but yet, undeniably allowing a considerable trade in corn between the prices of 53s. or 55s. and 60s. a quarter. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to what had been the case under the former law, and he appeared to rely on the circumstance that no corn paid more than 20s. 8d. duty. [Mr. Baring: Since the year 1838.] That was not quite accurate.

Mr. Baring

What I said was, that there had been no importation worth considering under 20s. 8d. There were one or two occasions on which it happened, but that was perfectly intelligible.

Mr. Gladstone

would agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that there was no importation worth considering much above 20s. 8d., or therefore at a price much below 66s. But would those Gentlemen who told them so much of the vicious operation of the old Corn-laws, in inducing holders to hold back their stocks, come forward now and urge precisely opposite arguments, and say that, because no corn was ever imported at a price less than 60s., it followed that no corn could have been afforded to be introduced? Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to argue, that because no considerable entries for consumption of corn took place at a duty over 20s. 8d., therefore no considerable entries could take place under a different law at a net price of importation below 46s.? But he did not value much, he confessed, in their more minute details or particulars, any estimates which the most able persons might make with respect to the precise prices and amounts and quantities at which we might expect importation to take place into this country, and much less any which in the discharge of his duty he might presume to submit to the House. He could not, however, help adverting to the fact, that the general opinion of the country was with the Government on this subject and against the right hon. Gentleman. He must confess, that in matters of this kind he was influenced very much more by the calculations of practical men of business than by those of Members of Parliament or Members of the Government, however well qualified they might be to handle the general subject. Could it then be denied, that there was a very general feeling in this country that the trade in corn would be, he did not say constantly open to the admission of a quantity which would greatly affect consumption, and equally affect prices, but could it be denied, that certainly the prevailing sentiments of the commercial class were, that the trade in corn would be opened to a considerable degree at prices several shillings below 60s.? Might he for one moment refer to the testimony on this subject of a very important and influential class—the class of millers? The millers most certainly were by no means universally friendly to the present Corn-law. They had been sufficiently urgent during several weeks past in their applications to the Board of Trade on this subject; and of those gentlemen were some who had pleaded with the greatest ability, and with an ingenuity he had hardly ever seen surpassed. They were even among the leaders of the movement against the existing Corn-laws; but those Gentlemen, one and all, whatever their opinions on the Corn-law, held the doctrine, that the trade under the new law, if not permanently open to the full extent, would be open at least to such an extent, and at such prices that importation would be almost constant, that it would be the general rule, and not merely occasional and exceptional as under the old law. They would be, consequently, as they alleged, great sufferers themselves, but as to the fact, they were uniform in their sentiments. And those gentlemen, he ought to say, had received great support, and their sentiments great countenance, from a large body of Members of Parliament on both that, and the Opposition side of the House, themselves too opposed to the Corn-laws. He would not now detain the House at any greater length. He had endeavoured to show, that with respect to the averages, even in the estimate of the lion. Member for North Lincolnshire, and much more in that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late President of the Board of Trade if he admitted the statements he had made to be his own, there were very great and grievous exaggerations, and he thought he had given some evidence to the committee in support of those views. With respect to the importation of corn he had referred to the figures contained in the authentic documents before the House; be had referred to the opinions of gentlemen who were most opposed to the whole system of the Corn-laws, and he had proved, as far as could be proved in this stage of the discussion, that the effect of the bill of his right hon. Friend would be considerably to facilitate the trade in corn in this country at prices several shillings below the point of 60s. a quarter.

Mr. Labouchere

had so recently addressed the House at great length on the subject of the measure proposed by the Government, that he should not have trespassed on their time upon this occasion but for the appeal that was made to him by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. In the first place, he must complain of the position in which the House was placed with regard to the question of the averages by the course which the Government had pursued. The right hon. Gentleman said, it was the intention of the Government to lay before the House, before this bill was concluded, important information which they were in possession of, which would enable the House to form a judgment in what way the averages would be affected by the proposed measure. He thought, that looking to the time the Government had had to consider this question, and that they had made, as was obviously incumbent upon them to do, extensive and close inquiries as to what would be the effect on the averages of the measure they proposed, it was hardly fair to the House not to have laid on the Table the information, before hon. Members were called upon to decide upon such a scale of duty. It was very well to say, as the right hon. Gentleman said, "If you can prove to me that the averages will affect the scale in a measure I do not intend, I will reconsider the scale;" but he did not think it was fair to the House to ask them to pledge themselves to a scale of duty, at the same time saying, that if they saw reason to think from the information that might be laid on the Table that the averages would be materially affected by the alteration of the system, he would afterwards come back and reconsider the scale. That was a very illogical mode of proceeding, and the position in which it placed the House was not such as they ought to be placed in. Notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman said, as to its being a very great exaggeration on his part, he would repeat that it was the opinion of practical men, whose views on this subject were entitled to attention, that there would be a three-fold operation of the different parts of the system of the right hon. Gentleman. First, the addition of 150 towns to the towns where the averages were now taken; next, putting those returns of the averages into the hands of the excise, instead of the hands of the corn inspectors; and lastly, the discouragement which would be given to speculation and fictitious sales. It had been supposed that the scale which the right hon. Gentleman gave, as regarded the first of the three operations of it, might be to affect the averages, not less than 5s., although of course this was only conjectural; and the right hon. Gentleman was evidently not a little nettled to find that what he had stated received support from an hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House—from a quarter, indeed, which he did not expect. That hon. Gentleman said, that his statement was in principle true; that he had made inquiry upon the subject, with great care, and that from the best information he had received he thought that the addition of 150 towns would affect the averages to the extent of 2s. If the hon. Gentleman attributed the effect to one of the three causes, he thought that it might. be possible that the effect of the three would be such as he had stated. He took the first, however, at the low estimate of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Christopher) viz., 2s., and he thought the right hon. Gentleman would feel himself bound to redeem the pledge he had made, he was sure, in good faith, that if it could be made out to him that the averages would be affected to any extent, he was perfectly ready to allow a reconsideration of the scale of duty which he proposed. He had not expected, however, that the House would have had to discuss the question of the averages that evening. Certain returns had been made which would furnish information to the House, and, in addition to that, the Government would lay other documents on the Table; and they would discuss the question with more advantage when they bad that information. But, at the same time, when he was told there was so little reason to expect that the result of the change, as regarded the averages, would be such as he had stated, he could not help reading a few figures which, whilst this discussion was going on, an hon. Friend had procured for him from the library. He was then speaking of the effect of the London average with general averages of the country, and of course if they added 150 towns to the 150 already existing it would lower the effect of that London average. On the 25th of June, 1841, the general average of the country was 63s. 5d., whilst the London average was 68s. 3d. At Cirencester it was 60s.; at Bristol 60s. When he saw, then, the immense effect that the London average had on the general result, hon. Gentlemen could not be astonished when be apprehended that the effect of adding 150 towns to those from which the averages were now collected would be such as he had represented. Again, he found that on the 13th of August, 1840, the general average of the country was 72s.5d., whilst at London it was 76s. 9d. That would show how important an effect the London market had on the general average of the country, and how great a result might be obtained if they diminished that effect by adding so many towns to the list. He confessed that from a cursory perusal of the list of the new towns, it did appear to him that that list bore upon its face marks of great haste and very little examination on the part of the Government. He was told, indeed, that one of those towns, New Bolingbroke, in Lincolnshire, did not exist at all; that although it appeared in their list of towns, it did not appear in the map of the country. An hon. Member who was connected with the county of Kent also told him that another of the towns—namely, New Romney, had no market. The right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken seemed to think that he gave a conclusive answer to the statements that had been made respecting those new towns when he read an account of their population. Now he thought it must be obvious to every one that a mere statement of the population of a small market-town was not a very strong proof of the quantity of corn that was sold at the market there, or of its consequence as a market. He had heard with the greatest regret the announcement that was made that evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade with regard to the intention of the Government upon a point which had so long been under consideration—namely, the duty upon grain and flour imported from the United States. He was not about to enter into the constitutional point; but he heard with regret the reason which the right hon. Gentleman gave for retaining the duty on the importation of corn from America into Canada. He was not prepared to state positively that that duty was unconstitutional, but he held it to be unjust. There was this distinction between this duty and other colonial duties. It was not to protect any articles of produce in the British market, but, by an indirect process, to protect the landowners of England. That was the object of such duty. He believed it was perfectly novel, and he would say, on the part of the colonies, that, though he did not assert that it was unconstitutional or beyond their power, yet, it appeared to him to be unjust. He would not follow the right hon. Gentleman in all the calculations which he had made in answer to his right hon. Friend. He was quite willing to leave that discussion between them as it was; but he did not think that anything which the right hon. Gentleman had said shook the effect which the statements and calculations of his right hon. Friend had made. There was, however, one expression of the right hone Gentleman which certainly surprised him. Finding that the information which was laid on the Table of the House was entirely adverse to him, and that Mr. Meek's papers were completely at variance with his statements, the right hon. Gentleman had thrown over the whole mass of evidence; he said it was quite true that they had all the information which they had been at so much pains to collect; that it was stated that the cost of importation of foreign corn into this country amounted to 10s. a quarter; "but," said the right hon. Gentleman, "I have consulted distinguished persons, and they are of a contrary opinion, and 1 prefer their opinion." Now, he thought it was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to expect that the House would agree with him in that; they could only judge by the papers that were laid before the House, and as they had not that information which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, he could not expect them to put it in opposition to the docu- ments that were before them. He did not know that it was necessary for him to trouble the House further; but he could not sit down without expressing his surprise that the right hon. Gentleman should have omitted to address himself at all to the motion before the House. When he saw the manner in which the agricultural interests were treated by her Majesty's Ministers, he must say that he thought they were in a very sorry plight. The way in which they had received this long-prepared and solemnly announced proposition, without the ceremony of a word in reply, showed their feeling on the subject. But he supposed that the Government considered that the opposition which was now made on their part to this bill was not very serious. The Member for North Lincolnshire, having made his speech, and having satisfied his sense of duty to his constituents in a manner which they would appreciate, had, as he believed, no serious intention of pressing his views on the Government. He, therefore, could riot but say that the right hon. Gentleman, although somewhat departing from the usual practice of the House, had exercised a very sound discretion in not noticing the motion then before them.

Sir J. Tyrell

said, the agricultural Members of that (the Ministerial) side of the House had been accused of being attached to the silent system. He regretted he could not retort the compliment upon hon. Gentlemen opposite; because, after seven nights' debate, more of sound and less of real argument it never fell to his lot to listen to in that House. He wished to call the attention of the House to the consideration of the proposition that was then before it. He believed it to be true, that one right hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House, and another right hon. Gentleman on his own side, had, for reasons best known to themselves, abstained from touching upon the real question before the House. Without going into the details and calculations of the two right hon. Gentlemen on the other side, he would say that he should be most happy to find that their figures were correct. He was afraid that, with that misfortune which followed them when in office, it would not be so, but he should be happy if, in that solitary instance, they might prove correct. The right hon. Member for Portsmouth, in his noisy speech—in his self-congratulatory speech — had thought proper to say, that the agricul- turists had abstained from stating the reasons of their assent or dissent. Now, in answer to this taunt it was mainly that he rose. Undoubtedly, from peculiar circumstances, and from the high character of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, with the confidence which was reposed in him by the agriculturists, the Premier had in his hands the power of carrying any measure he pleased. The right hon. Member for Portsmouth had evidently wished to argue this question as though the late Ministers had never brought forward their measure against the "wheat-sheaf," and had never made that appeal to the country which had been answered by the return of that "silent" majority, of whom the right hon. ex-Chancellor tauntingly complained. But he knew that, whatever opinions might have been, or were entertained by the agriculturists, of the Government measure—whatever the effect upon their minds of the Premier's calculations and arguments—they entertained but one feeling of horror—or if not of horror, of contempt—for the proposition made by the late Government. Now, he for one objected to the hon. Member for Lincolnshire assuming to himself any peculiar character for friendship towards the agriculturists; and whether or not the hon. Member might feel himself fettered by inconvenient speeches, declarations, and pledges, there certainly appeared some reason for suspecting that to be the case: however, he, as a "silent" Member, forming part of what he might call an "audience," on whom, he must say, right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House were in the habit of practising at no inconsiderable length, he had to congratulate the House and the country on the position in which the agricultural interests now stood, considering the very decisive majority against the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, "whom he thought he saw opposite," and to whom he had predicted on a former occasion the fate of his motion. On that occasion the benches were empty, there was no one in the gallery, and but two policemen in the lobby; and he told the hon. Member that, even should he take a show of hands among the cabmen in Palace-yard, it would he given against him. In conclusion he would only say that, placing great confidence in the character of the right hon. Baronet, and in that utter superiority which in the eyes of the country he possessed over the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and his colleagues on the other side of the House, he for one should say "content," not to the proposition of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, but to that brought forward by her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Horsman

said, that the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Christopher), had come forward as the representative of a great agricultural constituency, and the opinions that he expressed, and the course he was about to pursue on that measure, derived greater importance from that circumstance. The hon. Gentleman had said, that the statements on the subject were so contradictory, that he was long unable to make up his mind upon it; but he was prepared to show, that none of them were so contradictory as those which the hon. Member had himself made; and he would prove it from the words of the hon. Member himself. It would be remembered, that the question of the Corn-laws was much agitated many months previous to the late election, and he thought it might be somewhat instructive to see what had been the course pursued by those Gentlemen who assumed to themselves the merit of paying exclusive attention to the interests of the farmers on that stage on which they had been such prominent actors. What he was prepared to prove was, that that hon. Gentleman had, within a recent period, pursued two distinct courses of conduct; the one, while the Whig Administration held office; the other, during the administration of his own friends; that he had made statements at one time, which he had contradicted at another; and that he had given positive pledges which he had openly broken. There were three points on which the hon. Gentleman had used strong statements. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman had invariably maintained the old law, not merely upon general principles, but had refused to accede to any alteration whatsoever. In the next place, the hon. Gentleman had pledged himself at the last election, that he would oppose any attempt to lower the protection of the agriculturist; and, in the third place, that he would withdraw his confidence from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in the event of that right hot. Gentleman adopting a certain course conduct which he had since adopted. Now, with regard to the first point, the hon. Member had stated, that A gentleman whom he was alluding to, had thought proper to represent him as having stated, that he was attached to the agricultural interest, and not the less so because he did not bind himself to the present Corn-laws, but that what he had said was, that he should not cease to adhere to the Corn-laws, because he knew of no measure so just to the agricultural interest, and that he should oppose every proposition for giving them less protection. A few months afterwards, the hon. Gentleman saw things in a different light, and stated, that By the present scale, (of the law he was so friendly to) the market was given up to foreign speculators, who derived from it a profit of 150 per cent, without the agriculturist deriving any benefit whatever. And now the hon. Gentleman came forward, and objected to the scale of the right hon. Baronet, because it did not give sufficient protection, although he had himself proposed a scale which actually gave less protection than that of the right hon. Baronet. But having received strong remonstrances from agricultural associations and other quarters, the hon. Gentleman now came forward, and proposed a higher rate of duty, at the same time, however, taking care to propose it in such a manner that the question could not come before the House at all, nor could the sense of the House be taken upon it. So much for the consistency of the hon. Member, the friend of protection. [The hon. Member, amidst cries of "Question," quoted other passages from the speeches of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Christopher).] Gentlemen opposite might think that he was taking unnecessary trouble, but he wished to show that the hon. Gentleman had at one time held up the law as perfect in principle and in detail, and at another period, and that very recently, had said, that it was a law fraught with all possible inconvenience; and that he had made certain pledges which, whether he had kept or not, he should leave the House to determine. If the hon. Gentleman denied that he had given such pledges, he held his authorities in his hand, and was ready to give them.

Mr. Banker said,

that if any apology were requisite for his intrusion upon the attention of the House, the excuse must be found in the speech of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had been pleased to call upon agricultural Members in a tone of defiance not easily resisted, challenging them to state how they redeemed the pledges they had given on the hustings. His answer to that taunt was, that he had fulfilled the pledge which he had given, that pledge having been to use every constitutional means of ejecting a Ministry which at that period had misgoverned the empire—a ministry which had proposed financial measures provoking the ridicule of every man of thought, of sense, or judgment, measures which no one could believe had been brought forward with any intention of carrying them, but solely with the unworthy view of embarrassing the Government succeeding. To eject that Government was the pledge he had given, and that pledge had been thoroughly redeemed. Now, as an "agricultural" Member (nor did he shrink from the appellation), this he would tell the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that he, and those with whom he agreed, saw neither the advantage nor the propriety of rising, one after another, to repeat precisely the same opinions as each other, with a prolixity calculated to fatigue the House and disgust the country, and tending to lower the character of the House to that of a common debating society. For, though undoubtedly, to a certain extent, discussion was useful, yet an excessive superabundance of loquacity not only was useless and wearisome, but was productive of positive injury to the country by obstructing public business, and was doubly discreditable to those who practised it with the object of so obstructing business. Those who, with himself, thought with the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, were satisfied with that hon. Member's statement of their case—knowing that the statement of it by one hon. Gentleman must be as good as if it were repeated by several, and had not the folly and the vanity to intrude themselves on the time of the House with laboured loquaciousness and fatiguing reiterations. This was his answer, then, to the taunting reflections of the right hon. ex-Chancellor, nor should he probably have risen but with the view of giving this answer. But he trusted, then, that having occasion to rise, he might be excused if he added a few observations confirmatory of the views which, generally speaking, the agricultural Members took of the subject then under consideration. The county which he had the honour to represent was in some respects in a situation similar to that which had returned the hon. Member by whom the present motion was brought forward. The hon. Mover had stated that he represented a constituency wholly agricultural; in that point there was some difference between them. Dorsetshire, no doubt, was mainly an agricultural county; there were not in it any great number of large manufactories; but, nevertheless, he conceived himself to be as much the representative of the merchants, the traders, and even the petty dealers of that county, as he was the representative of those exclusively engaged in agriculture. Now. he took upon himself to say, that the merchants and the traders of Dorsetshire were on the whole favourable to the measure which had been proposed to Parliament by her Majesty's Government, and even if he adopted the views entertained by hon. Members opposite, that all the traders, merchants, and manufacturers were now represented in that House by the Gentlemen who sat on the Opposition side, yet they would derive but little comfort from any sacrifices which agriculturists might have to make, from any consolation which the so-called representatives of the trading interests were able to afford them. The House could not have forgotten the manner in which hon. Gentlemen opposite received the proposition of his right hon. Friend. They did their utmost to cast on it every possible ridicule; some called it "a mite," others "a mouse," and none abstained from bestowing on it every term of insignificance. But he ventured to assert that those hon. Members did not express the feelings of the trading classes throughout the United Kingdom. Among the traders, small and great, he did believe there prevailed a sentiment favourable to this important change. He did believe that it was not only more than they expected, but that they thought it as much as they could reasonably require. He had not, at the present moment, made up his mind as to whether benefit would be derived from this measure to one part of his constituents or to another, neither was he prepared to say, that what might be lost by one part of his constituents would be gained by another; but this he must take the liberty of observing, that some parts of the lands of Dorsetshire could not be made to grow corn without a greater degree of protection than was necessary for other parts of the country. One of the right hon. Baronets who held a seat in the Cabinet, who might be regarded as one of the leading representatives of the landed interest, and who had been returned to that House by one of the richest counties in England, might justly enough consider that the protection afforded by the measure of the Government was sufficient for the county which he represented; but that protection was hardly enough for Dorsetshire; he was, therefore, bound to consider how far he could safely go in supporting the proposition which had been brought forward by the Government. On the whole, he rather favoured the views of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire; but, before he sat down, he hoped he might be allowed to allude to some details which he thought were material to the proper consideration of the present question. He meant to allude to them but very shortly, with no wish to cavil; neither did he do it under the influence of any arrogant feeling that he could discover something which had escaped the examination of the Government and their assistants. He had perused some of the papers laid on the Table of the House with much attention, and he professed himself unable to arrive at the same conclusions which had been drawn from the data contained in those documents. It was well known to the House that Mr. Meek, in his report, had supplied the Government with a great deal of important information. At the end of his report Mr. Meek said that a general opinion prevailed on the continent, apparently a well founded one, that, whatever change took place in England that had the effect of giving an impulse to the agriculturists of the continent to raise, and to the merchant to export, the several articles required, it would at the same time have a powerful tendency to equalize the prices of those articles in both countries. To that he confessed that he could not subscribe. Then, under the head "Stettin," Mr. Meek said it was not probable that any material increase would, under the circumstances adverted to, take place in the articles usually exported from Stettin. At the 25th page of his report Mr. Meek stated, in reference to the railroad from Stettin to Berlin, that that mode of communication, when completed, would in all probability give a great increase to the trade of Stettin, as it would afford great facility for the conveyance to that place for exportation, and to the capital for consumption, of all produce raised in the country bordering on the line through which it passed, and connected, as it would be, by a steam navigation in contemplation, for opening an intercourse between Stettin, Dantzic, Konigsberg, Stralsund, &c., it was impossible to say to what extent the country might be benefited, and its produce increased. From these advantages set forth by Mr. Meek, it was expected that great benefits would accrue to agriculture in those parts of Germany, and further benefits were expected to arise from the alteration of the Corn-laws in England, and from the improvement of soil not now in a state of cultivation. It was evident that the people of that part of Europe had hitherto wanted the means of conveyance, that they were now on the point of obtaining that, and by means of it they would be enabled to export their agricultural produce, and to obtain a supply of artificial manure for the improvement of their lands. He had read to the House some of the data on which Mr. Meek founded his conclusions, and he could by no means arrive at that conclusion from the facts set forth to which he had thus briefly and cursorily called the attention of the House. The realisation of the prospects described by Mr. Meek must produce a charge upon, and not a benefit to, agriculture. There could be no doubt that the railroads contemplated in the north of Europe would be speedily finished, for the English railroads were nearly completed, and the contractors by whom they had been executed could now direct their capital and experience to the continent for the purpose of producing similar results. Nothing else was wanted to render the power of rivalry on the continent complete, and to make it formidable. In conclusion, he wished to say that he had told the hon. Mover he should not vote for him, but yet, if he voted against him, be should be under the necessity of voting with Gentlemen opposite, and he should prefer any other course to that.

Lord Worsley,

who was nearly inaudible in the gallery, was understood to express his surprise that his hon. Colleague was not better supported by the hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side. He thought the hon. Gentlemen opposite would have preferred a larger amount of protection than the plan of the right hon. Baronet would give. Their silence in reference to the proposition of his hon. Colleague surprised him, because he regarded the scale of his hon. Colleague preferable to that proposed by the right hon. Baronet, and on that ground he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite would have assisted his hon. Colleague in carrying his measure, and more especially because the right hon. Baronet had argued that 20s. was not a prohibitory duty, and said that Dantzic corn would be brought into this country paying that amount of duty. For these reasons he had expected the hon. Gentleman opposite would have supported his hon. Colleague's amendment. The motion of the noble Lord the Member for London having been rejected, he hoped the proposition of his hon. Colleague would be successful, because, so far as he was concerned, he meant to give the 20s. duty all the opposition in his power.

Mr. Miles

said, he regretted that his hon. Friend, the Member for Lincolnshire had thought it to be his duty to submit his proposition before the House. He was inclined to support the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth on two grounds. In the first place, when low prices prevailed, it would give the British farmer a monopoly of the British market; and, in the second place, when corn rose to high prices, it would give a considerable benefit to the consumer by the graduated scale under which a foreign supply might be obtained. Such was the state of public opinion, that it was necessary to take the subject into consideration, and the question which the country had been called on to consider with reference to an alteration in the Corn-laws, was, whether they would take the measure of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) or that of the right hon. Baronet, who was himself the consistent advocate of a fair protection for all the interests concerned, and was at the same time an advocate for a graduated scale? Had not the country already answered the question, as to which measure they preferred. All that the friends of the agricultural interest looked for was a fair protection for the British farmer, and those who would seek for more would, in his opinion, adopt a course which was calculated to ruin their cause. He did not conceive that the protection would be sufficient, if foreign corn were admitted at a low duty, when the price was between 50s. and 55s. It should be so arranged by the system under which the introduction of foreign corn would be permitted, that up to a certain price, say 60s., the supply should float into the market gradually, and, after that, namely, at a higher price, that provision should be made for a larger supply, and those two desirable objects would, in his opinion, be effected by the plan of the right hon. Baronet. After hearing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Portsmouth, and having himself bestowed considerable attention on the documents laid before the House, he was induced to coincide with that right hon. Gentleman and conclude, that no great quantity of corn could be imported much under 60s. In order to calculate the probable effects of the measure of the right hon. Baronet on the British farmer, it would be necessary to take the average prices at Dantzic or St. Petersburgh, and compare them with the prices in this country, and then adding the duty to the average price of the foreign corn, to ascertain if it could be brought into competition with the corn produced in this country at any period before the price in our market should reach 56s. No doubt some corn could be sent in from Denmark, and he could state from his own information that a Scotch gentleman who cultivated land in Denmark would be able to put corn free on board at the port of Lubeck at 30s. per quarter; the cost of transit from Lubeck to Hull would be about 3s. 5d., and insurance and other charges about 1s. 6d., so that if to this were added 16s. duty, it would be only 50s. 11d., in case he sold the corn himself. That, however, was but one instance; and in his opinion, it was impossible that the generality of Danish corn could come into the market at less than from 53s. to 57s., paying 16s. duty. Therefore, there was no great danger of the influence of those 250,000 quarters of corn from Denmark on the British farmer. He for that reason approved of the Government proposition, and on the whole he thought that if the agriculturists gave up something at the end of the scale, on the whole they would be gainers. With respect to the averages, he thought that they would be more fairly obtained under the proposed than under the existing plan. It appeared that, in the week ending the 10th of September, 1841, the duty was brought down to 1s., that in London, Wakefield, Leeds, Hull, Liverpool, Newcastle and Derby, the quantity entered was 36,849 quarters, at an average price of 75s.d. At the remaining 143 places, the quantity was 30,066 quarters, and the average price 67s,d. So that the difference between these markets was full 7s.d. Indeed it appeared quite evident that there would be one great advantage in including in the averages, as the right hon. Baronet proposed, the country markets as well as the markets of London and the great manufacturing and commercial towns. He thought that was just also, for the average price of the whole country ought not to be assumed from the average price in a few towns. He felt convinced, therefore, that he was doing his duty to his constituents and the country, by at once adopting the alterations proposed by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government; and it was his opinion that, notwithstanding the length to which the discussion had been carried, it had done a great deal of good, for the more the scale had been considered, the more its justice had been admitted; and although it might not meet the extreme views of persons of either party, yet the moderate portion of the agricultural, mercantile, and manufacturing classes approved of it, and looked on it as a great boon in reference to the increasing exigencies of the times, and the annually increasing amount of population. He felt it his duty to support the proposal of the right hon. Baronet, and he hoped the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, having stated his opinions to the House, would take the suggestion which he offered for the sake of unanimity, and not press his motion.

Mr. Wallace

observed, that the bon. Member for East Somerset did not prove, though he had asserted, that the proposed measure of her Majesty's Government had done a great deal of good. In his belief, the majority of the people looked upon it as a delusion, nay, an imposition. He called it a delusion upon the ignorant, and an imposition upon those who were well informed. He was thoroughly convinced of the impolicy of the measure, and in favour of a total repeal of the Corn-laws; and, to further that object, he was much inclined to think that his best course would be to leave those hon. Gentlemen opposite to adopt those measures with which they thought fit to oppress the people. The people had a strong suspicion that there was something. in this measure that would appear in its effects though it was not detected in the abstract; and, therefore, he hoped the hon. Gentlemen who brought forward and supported the present amendment would vindicate their opinions in favour of higher rates of duty than those proposed by the right hon. Baronet. The hon. Mover of the amendment asked him if he would vote for it. He did not mean to do so; for, perhaps, the Chairman might make him a teller, and he was not to be caught by that sort of chaff. Throughout the length and breadth of the land, so far as he knew, there was one universal feeling of disgust and disapprobation of the sliding scale. From letters which he had received, he believed that it would do to consumers and to mercantile men and manufacturers no good at all. It was not denied that some small benefit might arise when the time came, but it was believed that the scale was made purposely, carefully, and most judiciously, in order that the better climates of England—the wheat-growing counties of England—should be well protected, because the greatest number of voters in that House were living on the land. They would find that true to the letter; if they went 100 miles north and south of London, they would see whether the scale of wheat did not suit their book uncommonly well. He might be wrong, and, of course, he was liable to be put to rights by public opinion, but not by the opinion of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches. He thought decidedly, however much it might be the custom of the country to send Gentlemen connected with the landed interest to that House, and he happened to be one of that class, that it was a dangerous principle for people to make laws for their own interest. He never forgot that he had a deep interest in the colonies while they were legislating for their colonies, and therefore he never uttered a word against the measures before the House, although he had great interests at stake, and had suffered severely by the passing of those measures. Humanity on the one hand, and a desire to promote good government on the other, made him not only acquiesce but vote in favour of measures which were against his own interest. He thought himself entitled to say, therefore, to hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches, that if they were not like Cæsar's wife [A laugh], ay, he said, like Caæesar's Wife, above reproach, he called upon them to look to the state of the country; and he would tell them that they had been deluded if they believed that the working men of this country thought otherwise than that this measure, whether intentionally or no, was calculated to destroy their best interests. He had not been prepared to hear that the Bank of England was about to reduce the rate of interest from 5 to 4 per cent. That was another gleam of prosperity; and he would tell his famishing countrymen at Paisley and elsewhere, that the time was arriving when the screw must be put on, and there would be other gleams of prosperity in the shape of additional embarrassments and bankruptcies. Let the hon. Gentlemen who were talking below the Bar come up and talk to the House, that he might see who they were, and hear what they said. He believed the bill would do no good; but he would ask the right hon. Baronet, who had read a letter stating the rapidity with which corn could be brought from America by post—by mail-packet, and that was by post—which letter, if it meant anything, meant that a free-trade in corn could be established between this country and America; he called upon the right hon. Baronet to verify that letter by establishing that free-trade. He understood that some emigrants from Scotland to America had sent a gift of flour and pork to the starving people of Paisley, but he was doubtful whether they could get the present unless the duty upon it was first paid. The hon. Member concluded by stating that he was opposed to all duty upon corn and provisions. In that acceptation of the term he was a repealer.

Mr. Fleming

entirely approved of the proposition brought forward by the right hon. Baronet, and should give it his most cordial support. He might add that, in doing so, he should be acting in accordance with the wishes of his constituents, with whom he had thought it his duty to communicate on the subject; and although that communication had been made a fortnight back, not one of them had intimated disapproval of the course he proposed to take. He regretted that the present motion had been brought forward, inasmuch as it was calculated to disturb that unanimity which he had hoped to see prevail on the Ministerial side of the House on so important a subject. He trusted, however, that the hon. Member for Lincolnshire would adopt the sugges, tion which had been made to him by his hon. Friend the member for Somerset shire, and withdraw his motion.

Mr. Charles Wood

was exceedingly sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade was not in the House during the speech of the hon. Member for North Somersetshire, (Mr. Miles), a Gentleman whose attention to all subjects connected with agricultural interests entitled his views upon a question of this nature to particular consideration. If the right hon. Gentleman had heard what fell from that hon. Member, he would no longer persist in calling the position laid down by the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Baring) with respect to the probable operation of the new mode of taking the averages, a great "arithmetical absurdity." The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) treated it as utterly beyond the bounds of possibility, that a difference of 7s. a quarter should exist in the average prices of different towns in the country. But if the right hon. Gentleman had been in the House when the hon. Member for North Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) spoke, he would have heard that that which he treated as an utter impossibility had actually been the fact within the last year. The hon. Member for North Somersetshire stated, that in the month of September, 184], there was a difference in the average price of the seven largest towns in the kingdom, as compared with the 143 small towns, of no less than 7s. in one week. Such had been the actual difference under the operation of the existing law; and he maintained, that under the law which it was now proposed to enact the variation of the averages between the large and the small towns, if not materially increased, would certainly in no respect be diminished. He was satisfied that the effect of the new regulations would be to reduce the general average, and consequently to keep up the duty. He was the last person to suppose that the right hon. Baronet opposite had brought forward his plan of taking the averages with the view of increasing the duty; but he trusted, should the new mode be found to have the effect of reducing the price, and raising the duty, that the right hon. Baronet would make a reduction in the scale equivalent to the increased duty. He wished to allude to another point, which he thought had not been thoroughly understood by the House when the right hon. Baronet introduced this question; he alluded to the proposed duty on wheat imported into Canada from the United States. He understood the right hon. Baronet to say, that if the duty which he proposed to impose on the importation of Canadian wheat into this country was assented to by the House, that he would be prepared to give up the duty of 3s. which he proposed to place on the importation of wheat into Canada from the United States. He wished to know if this was the intention of Government? In regard to the plan of the Government, he conceived the great point in discussion was the effect which the duty would have on the price of corn in this country, and he confessed that he did not quite understand the advantage of the first level of the scale proposed. The right hon. Baronet heard the hon. Member for Somersetshire state—and in doing so he agreed with that side of the House, and not with the Government—that he considered the protection proposed by Government efficient up to 60s. at the least. It did appear to him, judging from the papers laid on the Table of the House, that no material effect would be produced by the measure of the Government, till the price of corn reached 60s. or 62s. and, although hon. Gentlemen opposite had formed a different opinion, he confessed he could not understand how they could entertain such an opinion if they took their information from the documents which had been produced by the Government in support of its own measure. The statement of the right hon. Baronet in no degree affected the accuracy of the general position, that so considerable a quantity of corn could be imported into this country under the proposed scale. The right hon. Gentleman laid great stress on the words any quantity, but he did not think that the importations under the new system would be found to have any effect on the home market. He thought it would be better to argue this question, taking for their data the prices of foreign corn laid down in this country, because this would relieve them from the consideration of freight, insurance, and the other charges incidental to its importation. It was perfectly true, as the right hon. Baronet had stated, that it was impossible to fix the price of corn, in this or any other country, by means of legislation, because an abundant harvest would always lower the price. But it was not true to assert that it was impossible, by means of legislation, to fix a maximum duty, because, so long as there was a possibility of obtaining corn from abroad, the price could be kept within that maximum. And the chief object of a Corn-law ought to be, to fix a maximum price, beyond which, the price could not rise. He had not the advantage of hearing the right hon. Baronet introduce this question to the House, but having read his speech in the newspapers, he understood that the right hon. Baronet's intention was to keep the prices of wheat as an average of 56s. a quarter; the whole debate had proceeded on this assumption, and he was, therefore, astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade declare, that such an assertion had never escaped the lips of the right hon. Baronet. If the right hon. Baronet had not made such an assertion, he would like to know what they had all along been debating about. If 56s. then, be a price at which it was proposed to keep the price in this country, so far as legislation could effect it in this country, it was essential to know the price at which foreign corn could be laid down in this country, because this would determine the question of competition. Now, from all the information which he could gather on this point, he found that 45s. per quarter was the price at which foreign corn could be sent to this country. He defied hon. Gentlemen opposite to show that it could be brought at a lower price. That was the average price according to the consular returns; it was the average price according to the statement of Mr. Meek, it was the probable price for Dantzic the great source of our supply and all statements coincided in fixing the price at 45s. He would read to the House a statement showing the price paid to the holder of foreign corn actually sold in England. In 1839, 134,300 quarters paid a duty of 20s. 8d., the average price for the week in which they were entered was 67s. 1d., and deducting the duty 20s. 8d., there remained the price paid to the importer 46s. 5d(1. In 1830, 127,000 quarters paid a duty of 20s. 8d.; the average price throughout England was 65s. 4d., and deducting the duty, 20s. 8d., there remained to the importer 44s. 8d. In 1831, 7,00G quarters paid a duty of 20s. 8d.; the price in this country was 65s. and upwards, and deducting the duty, the price remaining to the importer was about 45s. In August, 1832, 150,000 quarters paid a duty of 23s. 8d.; the price of the week was 63s. 2d., and deducting the duty, the price remaining to the importer was about 40s.; but this was just before harvest, and the duty rose from this time to 30s. within one month. In September, 1839, 170,000 quarters paid a duty of 28s. 8d.; the price in this country was 56s. 6d., and deducting the duty, there remained to the importer 27s. 10d.; but the importation of this year had been warehoused and held over until the importers could no longer hold it, and it was admitted just before harvest, when the duty was sure to rise. In 1839, 100,000 quarters paid a duty of 10s. 8d.; the price in this country was 67s. 2d, and deducting the duty, the price remaining to the importer was 56s. 6d. In 1840, 340,000 quarters paid a duty of 13s. 8d.; the average price in this country was 68s. 7d., and deducting the duty, there remained to the importer the price of 55s. per quarter. This, he thought, was the best proof of the price at which the foreign holder could import corn into this country, and he thought it evident, that if he could not get a price of the same amount, that it would not be worth his while to import any corn at all. That point being established, taking the price at 45s., and adding to it the duty of 16s., the price of foreign corn would be 61s. per quarter; and it would not be until the price of home-grown corn in the English market reached to 59s. or 60s. that foreign corn would come into practical competition with it. The position, then, of the hon. Member for Somersetshire was clearly made out, that up to 60s. a quarter an almost prohibitive protection was given to the English agriculturist. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Baring) had stated to the House that the average price of wheat in Jersey, for a period of thirteen years, under a free-trade, was 51s. 5d. From papers laid before the House by the right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, stating the average price each year, and the average duty paid, it appeared that there was no importation (except in 1832, under the circumstances stated, and in 1837) when the duty was above 10s. In 1833, a fair year, the average price in the home market was 52s. 11d. The average duty was 11s. 1d., and the price to the seller was, therefore, 41s. 10d., but only 1,144 quarters were imported, showing that 41s. 10d. was a price at which the foreign importer could not afford to sell. He apprehended, therefore, that at any duty above 12s. no great quantity of foreign corn would be brought into this country. It appeared from the consular returns, and from the statement of Mr. Meek, that about two millions of quarters was the utmost they could export from the continent, and for some ten or twelve years it was probable that that quantity would not be increased. If this was the case, it was absurd to suppose that a quantity of corn such as this could materially affect the price of corn in this country, and the agriculturists would not be injured in the smallest degree by the measure of the Government, if it protected them, as they believed, until corn reached 60s. a quarter. He had discussed this subject, grounding his statements on the papers laid before the House, and though he knew that his statements might appear very dull to the House, yet in treating of the operation of the sliding scale, he could only show its effects by dealing with it as a matter of figures. There was no difficulty in making exciting speeches on a subject like the present, but he agreed with the hon. Member for Dorsetshire that the character of the House was compromised by hon. Members making such speeches, and he had therefore avoided all exciting topics. He did not believe that the measure of the Government would benefit the consumer, and he should feel glad if it should turn out that he was mistaken, and if the consumer derived a benefit which be did not anticipate. He had other observations to offer to the House, but, as he knew the subject was a dull and tiresome one, he would not trespass longer on their patience.

Mr. W. E. Gladstone rose

to explain. The hon. Member for Dorchester (Mr. Banks) seemed to say that he had thrown overboard Mr. Meek. This was not correct. What he said was, that there were certain points upon which he did not think Mr. Meek was quite accurate, but upon the whole be believed that that Gentleman's statements bore the character of general correctness. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Wood) had made some observations as to the great difference of prices that occurred in several of the new towns, a difference amounting to as much as 5s. a quarter; if so, there must have been an addition of price to the amount of 17s. more than in the old towns. It was supposed that he had said, that in three particular towns there was no less than 7s. difference in the price in one week, but what he meant to say was, that the excess of price in the great markets did not amount to more than 6s. or 7s. in other markets.

Mr. Labouchere

wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman what was his intention with respect to the duty to be imposed on corn and flour which came from America. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to have said, that if the resolution should be carried, as it at present stood, the duty would remain much as it was now. Now, it was known that it was illegal to import American flour through Canada.

Mr. Gladstone

said, as soon as the House had agreed to the resolution of the right hon. Baronet, he would explain the course to be taken. It was not intended to levy any additional duty on wheat imported from America into Canada; and with respect to flour, which was at present absolutely prohibited, the importation being taxed, and contrary to law, it was intended to admit it into Canada on the same terms on which it was admitted into the other colonies.

Mr. Thomas Duncombe

assured the House that he should not have troubled them with making any observations on this occasion, notwithstanding he had suffered former debates to pass without speaking, nor would he have interposed to prevent this contemptible farce being brought to a close, if he had not thought that it was due to the very large constituency he represented, to state their views upon the subject. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Christopher) in his simplicity as a country gentleman, had called this motion of his an amendment. But from the opinion which he (Mr. Duncombe) was able to form of it, both from what he had heard in that House, and from what he had read in the public prints, it was nothing of the kind. The hon. Gentleman had made a speech to his constituents, in Lincolnshire, during the recess, which had attracted considerable attention, and had been the subject of much comment. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman had been designated "the pilot balloon" of the Government, in consequence of that speech. The hon. Gentleman had denied being used by the right hon. Baronet as anything of that sort, or as having been in any way consulted by the Government before the plan was proposed to the House itself. "Pilot balloons" were not a novelty. They had been used by very great men in former times. Moliere kept an old woman, and to this old woman (his housekeeper) he always read his comedies, and found that he could form a tolerably accurate notion of the impression they would make on the public mind by the effect they produced on the old woman. A reverend and witty prelate —Mr. Sidney Smith—had given as his advice to Lord John Russell, that every great man ought to keep a "foolometer." Now, he would not say that the hon. Member for Lincolnshire was the right hon. Baronet's "foolometer." The hon. Gentleman himself had denied being so, and, on his own authority, therefore, he was bound not to consider him as such, but still, though the hon. Gentleman might not be a "foolometer," he might have a little balloon of his own, which he had inflated himself, which had gone up, and was now in the agonies of its descent, but when and where it would come down it was impossible to say. But the people should not be deluded, he (Mr. D.) would take care that the vote to-night should show whether this was a delusion or not. The first step of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire should have been to have rejected the measure proposed by the right hon. Baronet. If the agriculturists were what they declared themselves to be, they could not, and he (Mr. Duncombe) could answer for it that the manufacturing and commercial interests would not, be deceived by this motion of moonshine. if the report of the hon. Gentleman's speech to his constituents last year was correct, it was impossible to believe that he came here to-night and made such a humbugging speech as he had addressed to the House ["Order, order".] It was very well for hon. Members to call him to order, but they would themselves be soon called to order by their constituents. The hon. Member then read an extract from the speech of Mr. Christopher, in which that hon. Gentleman said:— He would adhere to the present law, and he would do so because he had never heard of any measure so just to the agricultural interest. But, if any measure could be proposed to give greater protection than at present, then he would support it, but he would oppose any proposition that gave less protection than what the agricultural interest now enjoyed. Sir George Murray had been spoken of as likely to form one of Sir Robert Peel's Government. He looked upon Sir George Murray as one of the most trimming and shuffling of politicians. If Sir Robert Peel intended admitting him or his brother-in law, Mr. George Robert Dawson, into the administration, he would have no confidence in snob a Government. He had never said one thing in one place and departed from it in another. Nor would he desert the party which maintained a system of protection, but would support them so long as they preserved a straightforward course, and adhered strictly to their principles. He was the same as he ever had been, ever since he had been a Member of Parliament. His noble Friend (Lord Worsley) seemed too much shackelled and controlled by the influence of party feeling in favour of the present Government to allow him to act independently. He showed these feelings to an extent that overpowered his deliberate judgment. He would never sacrifice his own feelings to support a party. Now, if his ears did not very much deceive him the other evening, he heard the hon. Gentleman say, in answer to his noble Friend, that he would propose his 25s. duty to the House. But he also said, that if it came to this, that carrying such a measure would throw out the present Government, he had so much confidence in the Government of Sir Robert Peel, and had such a dislike to the Whigs, that the course he should take would be to prefer the least of two evils, and he should take the motion and proposition of the right hon. Baronet. And yet the hon. Member claimed credit for independence of feeling, and he accused his noble colleague of being too much addicted and too much attached to the party to which he belonged. The right hon. Baronet, the other evening, was praised by hon. Gentlemen on the opposition side of the House for his eminent talents and great ability; but it seemed to him, that the right hon. Baronet was praised at the expense of his political integrity. He would not pay the right hon. Baronet so bad a compliment. He believed, that the right hon. Baronet was honest and sincere in the motion he had introduced to the House, and in the propositions he had laid on the Table for the approbation of the House. It was said, that the right hon. Baronet had been held back, that there was a drag behind him, and that he could not do so much in advance of his own opinions as his excellent good sense inclined him to do. He did not believe a word of it. He believed that the hon. Baronet had introduced a measure which he thought was for the benefit of the country. He differed from the right hon. Baronet. He thought it was a perfectly delusive and illusory measure. In 1834, when the right hon. Baronet accepted office, the right hon. Baronet said, and he believed it would equally apply throughout the right hon. Baronet's whole political life, that he would never accept office to be an apostate from his former principles. The right hon. Baronet was not now an apostate from his former principles; he had always advocated a sliding scale, and a sliding scale he had now given to them, but in another form. He was not in the slightest degree disappointed in the measure proposed by Government. He never expected any thing from the Government concurring as he did in the sentiments expressed of it by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department (Sir James Graham) in 1834, when he said, that it was a Government composed of men who bad spent their whole lives in proposing bad measures and in obstructing good. He did not know whether those were the the precise terms, but that was the spirit of his observation. The Government which now ruled the country was exactly of that description. How the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester (Sir James Graham) could reconcile those sentiments with his approbation of the measures of the present Government, or even with his sitting in the same Cabinet with them, it was not for him to say; but he could not help declaring that a more contemptible measure, or one less adequate to meet the exigencies of the times, never was introduced. They had heard of a man who held a farthing candle to the sun, that man was a great statesman, and he ought to have a seat in the present Cabinet. It was a great misfortune that the country could not be benefited by the services of such a man; and next to him, he must for one affirm that the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire ought to be taken into the Cabinet. There had been two or three points raised, during this debate, on the opposition side of the House, which had never been answered. One was the point of disparagement in which America would be placed by the sliding scale. The right hon. Baronet, the other evening, said that those who raised that point knew nothing at all about the matter, and that America was not quite so far off as they thought. The gallant Commodore (Sir C. Napier) had given notice of a motion, for the purpose of showing that America was as far off; but the right hon. Baronet had said that within six weeks flour might be got from New York; that an order might be sent out by a steamer, and that it would be back again within six weeks; but was that commerce? Was that free-trade? Was that the footing upon which the American corn-dealers wished it to be placed? Was it by an order being sent out from this country? No. What the American merchant wanted was a certain market, that whenever he thought proper to bring corn here, the produce of his own soil, he wished his ship to go back filled with British manufactures. One answer had been given to the Americans on this point—with regard to the disadvantageous position in which they were placed—a bill was on the Table in which it was for the first time proposed to impose a duty of 3s. a quarter upon wheat that crossed the St. Lawrence. The hon. Member for Liverpool last night said, that a special mission had been sent to the United States—that the Government deserved the greatest credit as they had sent out "a courageous nobleman" to that country to settle all differences. That nobleman was no doubt a very amiable individual in private life, but that he was a courageous nobleman he never heard before. All he recollected of that noble person when a Member of this House was, that he was a person of the greatest indecision of character and infirmity of purpose, and that it was totally impossible, after he bad addressed the House, to know on which side he would vote. ["Question.") That was the question; it was the question, at least, last night, and he would make it the question now. That noble Lord was always opposed to the popular interests. During the time of the Reform Bill, that noble Lord entertained the greatest distrust of the popular intellect. They had confidence in that noble Lord's special mission, but it seemed they did not want to hear who that noble Lord was, or the character of that noble Lord; but, such was his character, and the Americans knew it. This, however, he would tell them, that notwithstanding he might be a courageous nobleman — notwithstanding compliments might be paid to him by the hon. Member for Liverpool, that noble Lord did not carry with him the confidence of the people of this country, and that he would not bring back the reconciliation of America. No, if the right hon. Baronet would hold out to the Americans the band of free trade, if he would only open the British ports to the commercial enterprise of America, a union might be cemented between the two countries, such as would leave no boundary to dispute, no fortifications to raise or jealousies to allay. No; if they would hold out the hand of free-trade to America, they might cement a union that would redound to their own honour, and be promotive of the best interests of the two greatest commercial nations in the world. If fourteen nights had already been consumed, they had been consumed in asserting a principle which would be acceptable to the great body of the people; but the debate of last night was worth all the rest. Two speeches had then been delivered which would open the eyes of the inhabitants of the three kingdoms. One of these was the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden), who saw, and felt, that in this House he might as well talk to the walls or the winds; but out of doors he knew that what he said would be well weighed, and could not fail to produce a powerful effect. It was a speech of powerful arguments and incontrovertible facts, and it would make a deep impression on the starving millions. The other speech of the night was that of the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand), which was. received by the Tory or Conservative party (they rejoiced in both names, and they might accept which they pleased), and by the Ministers on the Treasury Bench with positive exultation. That, too, would open the eyes of the people, and especially of the great manufacturing interests of the country. The mode in which it was greeted on the other side of the House showed clearly that the great Ministerial majority had declared open war with the manufacturers ["No, no"]. It was too late now to say "No, no," after the manner in which the speech had been welcomed with "Yes, yes" last night. The grosser the insult, the louder were your cheers, the fouler the calumny, the more rapturous your applause ["Order"].The intensity of Ministerial exultation was regulated only by the malignity of the libel ["Order"].It was very well to cry "order" now, but little order had been observed last night, while the hon. Member for Knaresborough was speaking. Was it objected that he spoke of Ministerial exultation? Did he not see the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department sit and chuckle? Did he not see the right hon. Paymaster of the Forces shake his portly sides with delight? This occurred while the lion. Member for Knaresborough was reading to the House the most violent and malignant communications. Anonymous, too. Depend upon it, this must produce its effect—it could not last much longer. The Ministerial side professed the most kindly sympathy for the distresses of the working classes; but how did they show it? At the conclusion of the last Parliament he had taken the liberty to state the sufferings of a certain portion of the people, and he had been told that his representations were exaggerated. Had they not since been more than confirmed by the hon. Member for Leeds and others? He would now tell the House that the manufacturers wanted something more than pity—something more than lip-relief. They had waited four or five months in order to see how Ministers would deal with their misfortunes, whether they had the ingenuity to untie or the courage to cut asunder the Gordian knot, which the aristocracy had fastened, not only on the commerce and industry of the country, but upon the meanest comforts of the poor. And this House, as well as her Majesty's Ministers, may depend upon it, that the day was not far distant when they would lament the folly and rue the hour which had induced them in the plenitude of their power, and in the days of comparative peace, to regard with so little favour the motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton.

Mr. A. Stafford O'Brien

had been referred to the other evening by an hon. Member opposite respecting something he had said on the hustings. He would therefore observe, that there was great difficulty in recollecting in the House, months after the delivery of such speeches, which hon. Members might have said on such an occasion. He could not call to mind exactly what he had said, but perhaps those who were in more frequen habits of public speaking, who could weigh their sentences and place their words with the precision of a legal instrument, might be more successful in this respect. When he addressed his constituents, he addressed to honest men, what was honestly felt and honestly intended. He did not proceed upon the plan of saying as much and meaning as little as possible. The noble Member for Tiverton (Lord Palmerston) had accused the landed interest of having received the proposition of the right hon. Baronet with ominous silence. He did not cheer because he was afraid of committing the great mistake of cheering too soon. He had since taken the opportunity of consulting his constituents, and after considering the plan and the present situation of the country, they had authorised him to support it. He hoped, therefore, to see it carried by such a majority as would produce an impression on the country. The friends of the present Government had been taunted with their differences and want of concord. It had been said, that "confusion worse confounded" reigned among them; but when the number, wealth, and power of the landed interest were taken into account, their moderation and concession ought to be the more highly valued. If the landed interest were called monopolists, he admitted the justice of the charge in one respect—they certainly had a monopoly of reason and moderation. They had come forward to settle the disputed point, and how far, he would ask, had their adversaries advanced to meet them in this endeavour? On the contrary, the opponents of Ministers had. clone all in their power to obstruct and impede. While he, for one, conceded this compromise, he did not pledge himself to resist any farther modification, should it be thought conducive to the welfare of the country; but he thought that even some Members of the Anti Corn-Law League, knowing the difficulties of the Government in grappling with this great question, would recognise this plan as a fair experiment, and give a deliberate verdict in its favour.

Mr. Christopher

rose to reply, and said he should have been perfectly satisfied to have concluded this debate without making a single further observation, but for the remarks which had fallen from the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe). He could not compliment that hon. Gentleman either on the style, or the un-courteous manner in which he had been pleased, on almost every occasion when he had addressed the House, to represent the motives of those hon. Members who differed from him; but he trusted, that the committee would excuse him for a few minutes, while he justified his conduct in the presence of the hon. Member for Finsbury. The hon. Member had been pleased to quote certain remarks which had been imputed to him, on the authority of those persons who were politically opposed to him, and which were never submitted to him before they were published in the Poll-book without his sanction. Now, he not only did not after them, but he said fearlessly, that they were sentiments which he had neither imagined, nor conceived. The hon. Member for Cocker-mouth, in less offensive terms than the hon. Member for Finsbury, had been pleased to taunt him with having now come forward to advocate sentiments which, six months ago, he would not have ventured to utter. But were times and circumstances not changed since this question had been under the discussion of the House, and since the time when the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, was the organ of the Government? Was it a matter of no consideration to the agricultural interest, that at that time there were two parties sitting behind the Treasury bench, one in favour of what they called a moderate, but what he should call a low duty, on the importation of foreign corn; and the other, a numerous party, desirous to withdraw all protection from the agricultural interest. What, then, was the course left to all those gentlemen who were anxious to maintain that interest, but to come to a conclusion, that it would be impolitic to make any alteration in the Corn-laws. But since that period, a very material alteration had taken place; still if it were in his power, by his single vote, to maintain the existing Corn-laws, he would do so, rather than adopt the legislation now proposed to be given. But, as he had stated before, this and the other House of Parliament had declared their unanimous intention to revise and consider these laws; and both Houses of Parliament having come to that determination, he thought he was discharging his duty to those whom he represented to bring this subject fairly under their consideration. Acting consistently with the agricultural interest in coming forward, to the best of his ability, to act in accordance with the revised decision of Parliament, and endeavour, if possible, to come to some determination, which, even by the alteration of the Corn-laws, should retain to the agricultural interest of this country that protection which, under the present circumstances, they were entitled to receive. He trusted, that that would be a sufficient answer to the observations which had been made by the hon. Member for Finsbury, and the hon. Member for Cockermouth. And if he had been inclined when he came to that House, or if it were in his power now to take the opinion of the committee, aye or no, upon his resolution, he had no hesitation in saying, that he and his Friends would not vote in favour of the proposition of Government. But when he observed the crowded benches on the opposite side of the House, and saw that the tactics of that party was not to affirm his proposition of a maximum duty of 25s. upon the importation of foreign corn, but to em- brace the proposition of the Administration, and ultimately to render it more in the power of Parliament, to reject his proposition, he had no hesitation in saying that, considering the manner in which the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Essex, and other hon. Gentlemen had spoken in that House, he should not be found, in spite of the taunts of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and let the consequences be what they might, going out of the House with him, and thus practically supporting his opinions. This, further, he would say, that if any Member of that House who was conversant with its forms, would put him in the way, either now or upon some future occasion, of bringing the subject under the consideration of Parliament, so that they could have the expressed opinion of the friends of the agricultural interest declared either in favour or against his proposition, then, although he should not have the honour of voting with the hon. Member for Finsbury in his opposition to protection being afforded to agriculture, still he should have the pleasure of knowing that he had discharged his duty to the House and to the country. He felt, that he had now discharged that duty, because it was impossible for him to have taken any other course than that he had taken. It would have been impossible for him, at any future stage of the proceedings, to have started his objection to the measure of the Government with as much effect, or on the third reading of the bill to have made any such alteration as he had now suggested. But he could assure the committee that if, at any future time, this subject could be brought forward in a substantive form, so that the question might be put aye or no to the House the measure he proposed this evening should have his support. He had found it necessary to make those observations in reply to the hon. Member for Finsbury, and having done so, he should not favour him, in spite of his reproaches and reflections, by going out of the House with him, an advocate for his doctrines.

Mr. T. Duncombe

I asked no favour of the hon. Member, and do not want him to go out with 'me, either into the lobby or any where else. I only asked him to be consistent with himself, and that he might be so, I read to him an extract from one of his own speeches ["Spoke," and "order."]. I have a right to speak again in committee; a right to apologise to the hon. Member if I think fit, and a right to do him justice. He shall find that I will do him ample justice. I said, that I looked upon this motion as mere moonshine, and has not all that has been since said confirmed that opinion. If I wanted additional confirmation I should not go to this side of the House, but to the other. I hold in my hand a' report of a speech made by an hon. and gallant friend of mine (Captain Hamilton) at Aylesbury, the day before yesterday, and here I find it distinctly stated, that the resolution of the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire was never meant to be a bonaâ, fide motion: all it was intended to do was to gull the farmers and agriculturists. The Duke of Buckingham was in the chair at the meeting where the speech was delivered, and his Grace also delivered his opinions. My hon. and gallant Friend said— Now, in order that Mr. Christopher's amendment should be carried it must first be put to the House of Commons, which he believed it would never be, because, before it could be first put Sir R. Peel's proposition must be negatived, Mr. Christopher proposing a higher amount of duty than Sir R. Peel. The House must, therefore, entertain the lower duty first, and it would therefore, be manifest to all who now heard him, that Mr. Christopher could not put his scheme as an amendment, but only as a substitute for the motion of Sir R. Peel. He thought he might assume, that so far as the plan of Mr. Christopher went —a plan which he was free to confess, he, in common with Mr. Rolfe, who had spoken at the preliminary meeting this morning, prefer.. red to that of Sir R. Peel, still it was so brought forward that the Conservative Members could not make a stand upon it, unless they first disposed of the proposition which had been advanced by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He therefore did not see his way in proposing or suggesting any increasing scale of protection which would not meet the same fate as that which awaited the scheme of Mr. Christopher. The hon. Member for Aylesbury then referred to a speech made out of the House by the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire [" Read"]. What, all of it? The hon. Member expressed his regret, that Mr. Christopher had made a speech at all, and said:— Personally he did not know that hon. Gentleman, but he blamed him exceedingly for the part he had taken in the month of December last. Though he had no doubt that hon. Gentleman had been actuated by the best motives, he (Captain Hamilton) could not but think he had made a great mistake in submitting his scheme or plan to his constituents at Brigg, in Lincolnshire, where the pilot baloon went up before that of the Government had been promulgated and developed. He repeated, that he could not but regret, that this had been done, and he could not but suspect that other considerations apart from the wish or desire to advance the scale had induced the hon. Member to take that step. Now, Sir, nothing that fell from me in this House is half so severe as this which fell from my hon. and gallant Friend. Then my hon. and gallant Friend described the sort of scene which had taken place in this House after the delivery of his own speech. When he (Captain Hamilton) had concluded his speech in the House of Commons, he was surrounded—nay, he might say mobbed—below the Bar by a number of county Members, who exclaimed, `You have admitted too great a reduction.' His reply had been, I am not voting against my constituents, I am endeavouring to vote for them; nor am I going to make out too good a case for the manufacturers.' His hon. and gallant Friend was right, he was voting for his constituents. He was quite right in saying, that the protection of the right hon. Baronet is much higher than he states it, and that it will be equivalent to a protection of 25s. And my gallant Friend added, In the House of Commons he (Captain Hamilton) could only vote for or against the measure as placed before him; and with all regard and respect for the good opinions of his constituents, he could not vote for any amendment which did not come under his notice as a bonâ fide transaction. Next came another hon. Member of this House (Mr. R. Clayton), who said he would vote against the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, because he Had arrived at the conclusion that the scale proposed by the Government afforded protection beyond the sum of 56s. Then I come to the noble Duke in the chair at the Aylesbury meeting (the Duke of Buckingham) ["Question and divide."] What not hear the farmer's friend? Are there no individuals in this House who owe their seats to the Duke of Buckingham? And are all those individuals, when I am about to quote the independent and honest sentiments of the noble Duke, not prepared to hear them? The noble Duke told them— The Corn-laws were to be altered, and they were called upon to give up one-half of their protection, while they were told that those who advocated that change could not satisfy their opponents. Well, then, what was the use of it? That is what we want to know. What is the use of it? The right hon. Baronet knows that it does not satisfy us, nor does it satisfy the hon. Gentleman opposite; nobody hopes to get any advantage from the change. The noble Duke went on to say— If it were a motion for the repeal of the Corn-laws, he could understand it; but he was asked, and they were asked, to make such an alteration as would not satisfy their opponents, while it must dissatisfy their friends. That was the state of things; and, looking to the question in that point of view, and considering the burdens upon the land, and the exigencies to which they had been driven in former days, when wheat was 5l. or 6l. a load, he asked whether it was now right and proper to call upon the farmers of this country to make such a sacrifice as that demanded, for no other purpose, that he could discover, except to make a new Corn-law bill. The noble Duke says also,— The present bill would not set the Corn-law question at rest. From what he had seen, he knew that the activity of their opponents would be great; year after year they would continue to knock at the doors of the agriculturists, demanding further concessions. And that has been said, not only by the Duke of Buckingham, but by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department. This alteration will satisfy no one, and we shall have this work to do over again, year after year, till we obtain further concessions. The hon. Member (Mr. Christopher) has stated that he never uttered one of the sentiments attributed to him in the books from which I have read extracts, if that be so, I can only say it is most unfortunate for the hon. Gentleman, most unfortunate for the public, and most unfortunate for the House, that the hon. Gentleman had not sooner notified, through the public prints, that this was not his speech; for I understand it was copied from one of the Tory papers of Lincolnshire. The hon. Gentleman must, therefore, have seen it, and why he has not corrected this speech, or said that he did not make it, I cannot conceive. It appears, that I am not to have the honour of walking into the same lobby with the hon. Member. I must forego that pleasure, but against the proposition of the right hon. Baronet I must divide. Last night I voted against the imposition of any duty, and to be consistent, I and all other hon. Members who so voted, must vote against a 20s. duty, and in giving that vote my pleasure is unbounded, because I know that I am voting not only in accordance with the wishes, but in support of the interests of the millions of this country.

Viscount Palmerston

only rose to express, in a few words, the reason which would regulate his vote that night. He thought the hon. Gentleman, the Member for North Lincolnshire, had relieved him from one point of embarrassment with respect to that vote, by declaring that be will not be found in the lobby with those who are opponents of the sliding scale, for undoubtedly one source of embarrassment, and one circumstance which made it necessary to explain the vote he was about to give, was the fear lest, if he had gone out and voted with the hon. Member, he might have been supposed to have expressed a preference to the scale which that hon. Member meant to propose over that which the right hon. Baronet had suggested. That difficulty was removed. He would make no observation on the tactics so ably displayed that night by hon. Gentlemen on the Benches opposite. The parties sent out to skirmish with the enemy had been recalled to the main body. The whole corps was now drawn up in the same line, ready to meet those whom they considered and knew to be their real opponents. He also wished to be understood, that in opposing the scale of the right hon. Baronet he did not intend to intimate a preference for the law as it now stood. Having voted against the sliding scale, objecting to a sliding scale on principle, he could not concur in any vote now which was in favour of a sliding scale, although it might, perhaps, be better in some respects than the present law, arid better than the scale which the hon. Member for Lincolnshire meant to propose. Still he would vote against it, differing from the principle, and believing it to be a higher duty than ought to be imposed.

Mr. Aglionby,

in reference to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Finsbury, that no one who had last night voted against any duty could consistently vote for this motion, must state that he would be the judge of his own consistency, and vote with the right hon. Baronet. He would not be told by any person there what mode he ought to pursue. In point of form there was only one, but in point of substance there were two proposals be- fore the House. There were two proposals in substance, however much they might shuffle the cards. He had voted with the noble Lord for a fixed duty, which he preferred to all other things; but not being able to obtain that, he had voted last night with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, as the next best thing he could obtain; and now he would vote for the right hon. Baronet's plan, because he honestly and bonâ fide wished to get the lowest duty. Suppose by shuffling the cards they defeated the right hon. Baronet and carried the point of the higher duty, how did he know that those who had voted with him upon that would not turn round at the next step? His honest object was to carry the lowest duty, and therefore, consistent or inconsistent, he would vote with the right hon. Baronet.

Sir Robert Peel

thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had taken the judicious and the correct course. The noble Lord had proposed his question of a fixed duty, the hon. Gentleman had supported that. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had proposed the absolute and immediate repeal, the hon. Gentleman had supported that also. The question now was between a 20s. and a 25s. duty. ["No, no."] Suppose that was not the question, yet if the hon. Gentleman thought this proposal an improvement on the existing law, he was perfectly consistent in voting for it; his vote that night would not commit him in any future stage; and if in the further proceeding he should think either that the change was no improvement, or that it was such an improvement that he did not think it worth while to support it, his vote that night would not bind him. He thought, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman's course was perfectly consistent. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had spoken of skirmishers, and had recommended that there should be no parties of skirmishers. He was not sorry for this rebuke to his hon. Friend, and he entreated hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, to profit by the lesson which had been taught them, and see the danger of skirmishing, the danger of sending up pilot balloons, and see that, so far from what they recommended being received with welcome and gratitude, the whole force of the speeches of those who were about to vote with them was directed against them. The noble Lord said that he felt relieved, because his (Sir Robert Peel's) hon. Friend would not be found voting with him. Why should not his hon. Friend feel exactly the same relief? The noble Lord would have the misfortune to go out as one of a great body; but what would be the position of his hon. Friend? He would be exposed alone, without support; for the course which hon. Gentlemen opposite took, was enough to deter others from voting with his hon. Friend. If, therefore, the noble Lord, voting with a body, felt this relief, what must be the feelings of his hon. Friend when exposed in such company? His hon. Friend has sufficient discrimination and wisdom not to fall into the trap that had been vainly set for him. Having already spoken three times in these debates, he had necessarily anticipated much of the present discussion, so that it was hardly requisite for him at that hour, past twelve o'clock, to enter at length upon this subject. His bill, as he expressed at the time, was proposed, first, because he believed that a graduated duty was preferable to a fixed duty; and next, he considered that upon the whole, the scale which he proposed was consistent with the real interests of the country. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Finsbury, had done him the justice to say, that he had no other intention and no other wish; and he fairly owned, that if his hon. Friend, by any combination of party had carried his motion, if he had strength enough in that House to enforce his views, he could not have been a party to giving effect to his views, for he thought that the protection to be given by his bill was ample, and he could not be a party to its increase. He thought that no undue apprehensions should be excited, which might lead to the curtailment of the quantity of land cultivated in this country, at the same time he thought that the protection afforded by his proposal was ample. One word as to the averages. His hon. Friend said that the mode of taking the averages was a great improvement, combined as it was with a reduction of the duty. It was by making the fall in the duty more gradual that he looked for the great security against frauds in the averages. He believed that no other security could be taken, except by diminishing the great inducement held out by the present law for tampering with the averages; and he thought the proposed law would be a great improvement, because it would diminish the tendency to bring in a great quantity of corn at the lowest duty of 1s. He begged again, however, to repeat, that he did not intend to raise the duty or to increase the amount of protection by the new mode of taking the averages. He thought that it was a legitimate object to prevent frauds, but he did not, and never had intended, to raise the duties. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. T. Baring) thought that the measure, as it was introduced, should be perfect, and, with a temper more irritated than usual, owing, perhaps, to his recollection of the fate of his sugar question, he declared that the measure should admit of no modification. It was not easy to tell beforehand the exact operation of any plan. Till the intentions of the Government were known it was not even easy to get accurate information. Those intentions ought to be kept secret, but when they were announced they could soon obtain that assistance. He declared that if he were convinced that his mode of taking the averages were certain to increase them 5s., though he thought that impossible, or even if they were increased 2s., he should be prepared to reconsider the mode of taking the averages, doing all he could to prevent fraud, but carefully abstaining from doing any thing indirectly to extend protection; because he conceived that the duty in the bill was sufficient. Only one point more. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Wood) had used an argument which ought so satisfy many who would vote with him that night, that the proposed bill was a great improvement on the existing law, and that it would afford a constant importation of corn into this country at a less price than 60s. a quarter. The hon. Gentleman calculates that from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 quarters may be annually imported into this country at a price of 45s. Now, if 2,000,000 quarters could be imported at 45s. a quarter, let him say what would be the consequence of so great a demand upon the prices on the continent; it must have a tendency to increase the price if, therefore, two millions could be imported at a price of 45s., one million could be secured for importation at a less price. Let him take this price of 45s. Suppose the price in England were 58s., corn imported would pay a duty of 14s. The hon. Gentleman said, that from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 quarters could be imported here, duty paid, at a price of 59s,

Mr. C. Wood

observed that he never said so. What he had stated was, that no quantity of corn worth consideration could ever be imported at a price under 45s., and he took the shortest instance. He stated, that in 1833 only 1,100 quarters had been imported, at a price of 41s. 10d. He had said, therefore, that he did not believe that any quantity of corn could be brought here at a price under 45s. He never said, that 2,000,000 quarters could be imported at that price, but that no quantity could be brought under 45s.

Sir R. Peel

said, that what he had stated appeared in the note which he wrote at the time, but probably he had mistaken the hon. Gentleman. He felt, that it was very difficult to draw an exact inference as to the effect of the measure; but all that he asked was, that hon. Gentlemen would, at present, confine themselves to its details. He would not delay the committee by vindicating Lord Ashburton's mission, as that appeared to him to have nothing to do with the question before them. He repeated, he only asked the House to look at the details of the scale at present, as there would be ample opportunities of discussing the principle and the general purport of the bill on the second reading or in subsequent stages. He would remind hon. Gentlemen that the person who undertook to propose an alteration of the Corn-laws had no easy task, as he was liable to be charged with an attack on the agricultural interest on the one hand, and an attempt to uphold a system almost of prohibition on the other. Even within a very short time the millers had told him that they should be ruined by the adoption of his proposed scale, for they said that under it there would be such an extension of trade and such an increased importation of foreign corn as to lead to a complete change in the existing proportions of wheat and flour imported into this country. They alleged that the increased importation of foreign corn would have the effect of holding out an inducement to the importation of foreign flour instead of wheat. The barley-growers also declared that the adoption of the scale would be most injurious to them, and the oat-growers in Ireland made nearly the same complaints, and, as the hon. Gentleman opposite said, very few persons on his (Sir R. Peel's) side of the House appeared satisfied. He thought he could vindicate his scale as regarded both barley and oats, and he felt satisfied that, after the lapse of a short time, the more moderate men of all parties would regard the scale with satisfaction, for its effect would be to prevent an immense importation of foreign corn when the duty was merely nominal, and in the place of it, substitute a more regular trade in corn, which would prevent such extreme fluctuations in the prices. The communications made to him since he had brought forward his measure had made the greatest impression on his mind—much more so than any figures that he had seen on the subject; and he was convinced that the result would be that many of them, possessed of moderation and good sense, who now disapproved of the plan, would on further reflection, be satisfied that such an alteration of the law was desirable, and would rally round it. There were extreme opinions on both sides, for one party said that the plan would be attended with the ruin of agriculture, while others declared that it would have no effect in diminishing the distresses of the country. All he then asked was, that they should calmly discuss the details of the plan, and he trusted that in its subsequent stages hon. Gentlemen would consider and debate it without excitement, and not introduce topics which would take them from the fair consideration of the question.

Sir D. Roche

could not help complaining that not sufficient consideration had been given to the operation of the measure on the interests of Ireland, and above all as regarded oats. He trusted that a fair opportunity would be given for the discussion of this part of the question, and that Members from that part of the kingdom would have every facility afforded them to state their opinions, and he had no doubt that they would be able to show, that not the same justice had been dealt out to the Irish grower as to the English agriculturist.

The Committee divided on the original question,—that under the price of 51s. the duty shall be, for every quarter of wheat 20s.: — Ayes 306; Noes 104: Majority 202.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Adderley, C. B.
Acland, T. D. Aglionhy, H. A.
Acton, Col Alford, Visct.
Adare, Visct, Allix, J, P,
Antrobus, E. Courtney, Visct.
Archdall, M. Cresswell, B.
Arkwright, G. Cripps, W.
Armstrong, Sir A. Crosse, T. B.
Ashley, Lord Damer, hon. Col.
Astell, William Darby, G.
Attwood, J. H. Dawnay, hon. W. H.
Bagge, William Denison, E. B.
Bagot, hon. W. Dickinson, F. H.
Bailey, J. D'Israeli, B.
Bailey, J. jun. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Bailey, Col. Douglas, Sir H.
Baillie, H. J. Douro, Marquess of
Baldwin, C. B. Dowdeswell, W.
Baring, hon. W. B. Drummond, H. H.
Barneby, J. Duffield, T.
Barrington, Visct. Duncombe, hon. A.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Duncombe, hon. O.
Bateson, Sir R. Du Pre, C. G.
Beckett, W. East, J. B.
Bell, M. Eaton, R. J.
Benett, J. Egerton, W. T.
Bentinck, Lord G. Egerton, Sir P.
Beresford, Major Eliot, Lord
Beresford, Captain Emlyn, Visct.
Bernard, Visct. Escott, B.
Blackburne, J. I. Esmonde, Sir T.
Blakemore, R. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Bodkin, W. H. Farnham, E. B.
Bodkin, J. J. Fellowes, E.
Boldero, H. G. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Borthwick, P. Feilden, W.
Botfield, B. Ferrand, W. B.
Bowes, J. Filmer, Sir E.
Bramston, T. W. Fitzroy, Captain
Broadley, H. Fleming, J. W.
Broadwood, H. Ffolliott, J.
Brownrigg, J. S. Forbes, W.
Bruce, Lord E. Forester, hon. G.C.W.
Bruce, C. L. C. Fuller, A. E.
Buck, L. W. Gaskell, J. M.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Godson, R.
Burroughes, H. N. Gordon, hon. Captain
Campbell, Sir H. Gore, M.
Campbell, A. Gore, W. O.
Carnegie, hn. Capt. Gore, W. R. O.
Cartwright W. R. Goring, C.
Charteris, hon. F. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Chelsea, Viscount Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Chetwode, Sir J. Granby, Marquess of
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Grant, Sir A. C.
Christmas, W. Greenall, P.
Christopher, R. A. Greenaway, C.
Chute, W. L. W. Gregory, W. H.
Clayton, R. R. Grimston, Visct.
Clerk, Sir G. Grogan, E.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hale, R. B.
Cochrane, A. Halford, H.
Cockburn, rt. h. Sir G Hamilton, C. J. B.
Codrington, C. W. Hamilton, W. J.
Cole, hon. A. H. Hamilton, Lord C.
Collett, W. R. Harcourt, G. G.
Colville, C, R. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Compton, H. C. Hardy, J.
Connolly, Col. Hatton, Captain V.
Corry, right hon. H. Hawkes, T.
Hayes, Sir E. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Heathcote, Sir W. Morgan, O.
Heneage, G. H. W. Mundy, E. M.
Henley, J. W. Murray, C. R. S.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Neeld, J.
Herbert, hon. H. Neeld, John
Hill, Sir R. Neville, R.
Hinde, J. H. Newry, Visct.
Hodgson, R. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Hogg, J. W. Norreys, Lord
Holmes, hn. W. A'Ct Northland, Visct.
Hope, hon. C. O'Brien, A. S.
Hope, A. Owen, Sir J.
Hope, G. W. Packe, C. W.
Hornby, J. Paget, Lord W.
Hughes, W. B. Pakington, J. S.
Ingestre, Visct. Palmer, R.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Palmer, G.
Irton, S. Patten, J. W.
Jackson, J. D. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
James, Sir W. C. Peel, J.
Jermyn, Earl Plumptre, J. P.
Johnson, W. G. Polhill, F.
Johnstone, Sir J. Pollock, Sir F.
Johnstone, H. Powell, Colonel
Joliffe, Sir W. G. H. Power, J.
Jones, Captain Praed, W. T.
Kelburne, Visct. Pringle, A.
Kemble, H. Pusey, P.
Kirk, P. Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Knatchbull, rt. h. Sir E. Rashleigh, W.
Knight, H. G. Reade, W. M.
Knight, F. W. Reid, Sir J. R.
Knightley, Sir C. Repton, G. W. J.
Law, hon. C. E. Richards, R.
Lawson, A. Rolleston, Col.
Legh, G. C. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Leicester, Earl of Round, C. G,
Lemon, Sir C. Round, J.
Lennox, Lord A. Rushbrooke, Col.
Liddell, Hon. H. T. Russell, C.
Lincoln, Earl of Russell, J. D.
Lindsay, H. H. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Litton, E. Sanderson, R.
Lockhart, W. Sandon, Visct.
Long, W. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Lowther, J. H. Scott, hon. F.
Lygon, hon. General Sheppard, T.
Mackenzie, T. Shirley, E. J.
Mackenzie, W. F. Shirley, E. P.
Maclean, D. Sibthorp, Col.
MacGeachy, F. A. Smith, A.
Mahon, Visct. Smyth, Sir H.
Mainwaring, T. Smythe, hon. G.
Manners, Lord J. Smollett, A.
March, Earl of Somerset, Lord G.
Marsham, Visct. Somerton, Visct.
Martin, C. W. Sotherton, T. H. S
Martyn, C. C. Stanley, Lord
Marton, G. Stanley, E.
Master, T. W. C. Stanton, W. H.
Masterman, J. Stewart, J.
Maunsell, T. P. Stuart, H.
Miles, P. W. S. Sturt, H. C.
Miles, W. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Milnes, R. M. Taylor, T. E.
Mitchell, T. A. Taylor, J. A.
Tennent, J. E. White, S.
Thesiger, F. Whitmore, T. C.
Thompson, Mr. Aid. Wilbraham, hon. R.B.
Thornhill, G. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Tollemache, J. Wilmington, Sir T, E.
Tomline, G. Wodehouse, E.
Trevor, hon. G. Rice Wood, Colonel T.
Trollope, Sir J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Trotter, J. Wyndham, Col.
Tumor, C. Wyndham, W.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Vere, Sir C. B. Young, J.
Verner, Colonel Young, Sir W.
Villiers, Visct.
Vivian, J. E. TELLERS.
Waddiagton, H. S. Fremantle, Sir T.
Walsh, Sir J. B. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Ainsworth, P. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Aldam, W. Lambton, H.
Barclay, D. Langston, J. H.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Larpent, Sir G. de H.
Berkeley, hon. C. Layard, Captain
Bernal, R. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Blake, M. Marshall, W.
Blake, Sir V. Marsland, H.
Blewitt, R. J. Martin, J.
Bowring, Dr. Mitcalfe, H.
Brocklehurst, J. Morris, D.
Brotherton, J. Morrison, W.
Buller, C. Muntz, G. F.
Busfeild.W. Murphy, F. S.
Chapman, B. Murray, A.
Childers, J. W. Napier, Sir C.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. O'Brien, W. S.
Cowper, hon. W. F. O'Connell, M. J-
Craig, W. G. Palmerston, Visct.
Curteis, H. B. Parker, J.
Dalrymple, Captain Pechell, Captain
Divett, E. Philips, G. R.
Duncan, G. Philips, M.
Ellis, W. Pinney, W.
Evans, W. Plumridge, Captain
Ewart, W. Powell, C.
Fielden, J. Rawdon, Col.
Fitzalan, Lord Redington, T. N.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Rennie, G.
Forster, M. Rice, E. R.
Gill, T. Roche, Sir D.
Gordon, Lord F. Rundle, J.
Gore, hon. Captain Scholefield, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Smith, J. A.
Hall, Sir. B. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Harford, S. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Hastie, A. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hawes, B. Stuart, Lord J.
Heathcoat, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Heneage, E. Strutt, E.
Hill, Lord M. Tancred, H. W.
Hindley, C. Thornely, T.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Towneley, 3.
Horsman, E. Tufnell, H.
Howard, hn. C. W. G. Turner, E.
Hutt, W. Wakley, T.
Jardine, W. Wallace, R.
Johnston, Alex. Ward, H. G.
Wawn, J. T. Worsley, Lord
Wigney, I. N. Yorke, H. R.
Wilson, M.
Wood, C. Duncombe, T.
Wood, G. W. Humphery, H.

The scale of duties on wheat, for which see ante, page 236, was then agreed to.

The House resumed. The Chairman of the Committee reported progress. Committee to sit again.

House adjourned.