§ Mr. G. H. Vernon
said, he had in the first instance looked at the measure with some jealousy. He was anxious that a partial measure of this kind should not give any additional effect to what had been understood to be the law. At the same time he was not prepared to say that after close attention to it he had any objection to offer to the general principle of the bill. It was impossible to deny that some colourable construction might be given to the idea which he understood prevailed, that mixed marriages by Presbyterian ministers were invalid, and that contracts might be entered into as if such 1181 marriages had not any legal effect. He thought it important that the public should be set right on this point, and that it should be understood that persons who had entered into such contracts after this measure had been announced by the Government had done so in the face of such measure, if not in the face of the law. He thought it very desirable that the general enactment on the subject should be brought in as speedily as possible, and that it should be sent to the House of Lords at such a period as to allow of their Lordships giving it a full and fair consideration.
§ Mr. Shaw
approved of this bill as an enacting, and not a declaratory bill. It was necessary to settle the peace of families and security of property, which might be seriously disturbed by the decision of the judges. When the whole subject came to be considered, he should wish to see the marriage law of Ireland assimilated to that of England. But he should strongly object to the House sanctioning prospectively such marriages as those which would be legalised by the present bill.
§ Sir R. Bateson
stated that such a bill as this was loudly called for by the whole of the North of Ireland. He trusted, therefore, that it would be passed into a law, as soon as possible.
wished the House to legalise the marriages between Protestants and Presbyterians, when solemnized by a Presbyterian clergyman, prospectively as well as retrospectively; and that they should, in this respect, make the law in Ireland that which it had always been supposed to be. Presbyterians of the richer class were much in the habit of late of frequenting places of worship of the Established Church, and if they did not adopt the suggestions that he made to them, he thought they would do that which would not much increase Episcopalian Protestantism in Ireland.
§ House in committee.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Upon clause 2, which declared that this act was not to render any marriage declared invalid by a competent jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
opposed the motion. The clause was absolutely necessary, unless the House meant to set aside the solemn accession of the judges.
§ Sir G. Grey
said, that if persons were 1182 married a second time, availing themselves of the late decision of the Irish judges, they ought to be made legally responsible for the support of the children of the first marriage.
§ Mr. Jackson
promised to take the point into consideration between that time and the bringing up of the report.
§ The committee divided on the question that the clause stand part of the bill:—
§ Ayes 159; Noes 63: Majority 96.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acton,Cool.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Adare, Visc.||Feilden, W.|
|Allix, J.P.||Earner, Sir E.|
|Arkwright,G.||Follett, Sir W. W.|
|Bagge, W.||Forbes, W.|
|Bailey, J.||French, F.|
|Baillie, Col.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Baillie, H.J.||Gladstone, right hon. W. E.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Gordon, hon. Capt|
|Barclay, D.||Gore, M.|
|Baring, hon.W.B.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Barrington, Visc.||Goulburn, rt. hn. H.|
|Baskerville,T.B.M.||Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Beckett, W.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Beresford, Major||Hamilton, W. J.|
|Bernard, Visc.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bodkin, J.J.||Hardy, J.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hayes, Sir E.|
|Borthwick, p.||Henley, J. W.|
|Botfield, B.||Hodgson, F.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Broadley, H.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Broadwood, H.||Holmes, hon. W. A'Ct.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Buller, Sir J.Y.||Hope, G. W.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Cartwright, W.R.||Ingestre, Visc.|
|Chelsea, Visc.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Johnstone, H.|
|Chute, W.L.W.||Joliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Clay, Sir W||Jones, Capt.|
|Clerk, Sir W.||Lambton, H.|
|Collett, W.R.||Lawson, A.|
|Connolly, Col.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Lindsay, H. H.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Litton, E.|
|Crosse, T.B.||Lockhart, W.|
|Darby, G.||Lygon, hon. General|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Denison, E. B.||MacGeachy, F. A.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||March, Earl of|
|Drummond, H. H.||Marsham, Viscount|
|Duncombe, A.||Martin, C. W.|
|Duncombe, hn. O.||Masterman, J.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Miles, W.|
|East, J. B.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Eliot, Lord||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Escott, B.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Morgan, O.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Neville, R.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Nicholl, rt. hn. J.||Stanley, Lord|
|Northland, Visc.||Stanley, E.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Stewart, J.|
|Packe, C. W.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Stuart, H.|
|Palmer, G.||Sturt, H. C.|
|Palmerston, Visc.||Sutton, hon. H.M.|
|Patten, J. W.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Peel, rt. Hn. Sir R.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Peel, J.||Thornhill, G.|
|Pendarves, E. W.W.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Polhill, F.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Praed, W. T.||Verner, Col.|
|Pusey, P.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Rae, rt. hn. Sir W.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Reade, W. M.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Redington, T. M.||Wakley, T.|
|Richards, R.||Wilbraham, hn. R. B|
|Rolleston, Col.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Round, C. G.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Rous, hon. Capt.||Wyndham, Col,|
|Rushbrooke, Col.||Young, J.|
|Scott, hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Shaw, rt. hn. F.||Jackson, J. D.|
|Shirley, E. J.||Fremantle, Sir P.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acheson, Vise.||Johnston, A.|
|Aldam, W.||Kemble, H.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Knight, H. G.|
|Blake, Sir V.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Marsland, H.|
|Bowes, J.||Martin, J.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Morris, D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||O'Connell. D.|
|Busfeild, W.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Chapman, B.||O'Conor, Don|
|Cobden, R.||Philips, M.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Powell, C.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Power, J.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Duncan, G.||Rundle, J.|
|Duncombe, T.||Scott, R.|
|Ebrington, Vise.||Somerville, Sir W. M|
|Elphinstone, H.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Strutt, E.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Thornely, T.|
|Forster, M.||Tufnell, H.|
|Gill, T.||Turner, E.|
|Gordon, Lord F.||Villiers, hon. C. P.|
|Gore, hon. Capt.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hatton, Capt. V.||Wilson, M.|
|Hawes, B.||Wood, B.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Wood, G. W.|
|Howard, hn. C. W. G.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Hutt, W.||Maule, hon. F.|
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Bill to be reported
§ House resumed.1184
§ CORN-LAWS-MINISTERIAL PLAN-BARLEY, OATS, &c.—COLONIAL PRODUCE.]
§ The order of the Day read. House in committee upon the Corn-laws.
§ Mr. Wodehouse
would not trespass upon the patience of the committee, did he not believe that his duty to his constituents rendered it necessary for him to call its attention to the proposed alterations in the laws affecting the importation of food, with reference to the degree of protection it was proposed to confer upon the growers of barley. He would now move, with a view to the clauses relative to the proposed duty on barley being left for after consideration, that the chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again. He considered that the proposed protection to be given to the barley grower was not sufficient, and not proportionate to that to be conferred upon the wheat grower. Although un-willing to fatigue the House after the protracted discussion they had listened to on subjects of the nature in question, he could not help calling the attention of the House to the papers upon the Table relative to the capabilities of Denmark as a barley-growing country. These documents proved that Denmark was more peculiarly adapted for the successful cultivation of this species of grain than almost any country, and that there were there thousands of acres ready for the plough, and that the internal means of communication by railroads, &c., through Denmark, Holstein, and the adjacent provinces, were of the first order. He thought that, under these circumstances, no man would say that the arguments quoad protection to the wheat farmer applied with the same force quoad the grower of barley and oats. It was stated that they had no grounds for alarm on account of the inferior quality of continental barley, which would not malt. He had it, however, on the authority of a gentleman, whose judgment on the point was indisputable, that the finest sample of barley he had ever seen was grown in France. There was one point in particular to which he wished to call the attention of the House. He had applied to the Board of Trade to learn whether it were the intention of Government to make any alteration with respect to the present duties on malt. He, however, could get no answer upon this important point. He had applied a second time, and the reply he then received was, "You must wait." He was thus obliged to throw himself upon the House upon a question involving the food of millions; 1185 the welfare of the county which he represented was intimately connected with the answer to be given to the question he had put to her Majesty's Government; and it seemed to him that the intentions of Government in that respect ought no longer to be concealed. He would ask the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, whether, if a gentleman had a barley-growing farm, and an occupier offered so much for it, making at the same time a stipulation that the bargain should not be binding in case of an alteration in the duties on malt—he would ask the right hon. Baronet if it was not a hard case, that under such circumstances, no answer should be returned to the application which he had made to her Majesty's Government? He would ask the right hon. Baronet, the Paymaster-general of the Forces, whether he were prepared to deal out to the agriculturist interest a severer measure than that inflicted by that committee on agriculture, of which Mr. Huskisson and Lord Londonderry were members? He would finally allude to the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government. Several weeks ago he had considered it to be his duty to press these matters upon the right hon. Gentleman's attention. In an interview which a few days ago he had the honour of obtaining with that right hon. Gentleman, he had called his attention to the proposed differences to be made in the laws referring to the importation of foreign live stock and meat; for, as far as he was concerned, he was in equal doubt as to the intentions of her Majesty's Government with respect to these laws, and its intentions with regard to the duties upon the introduction of foreign malt. He had pressed these matters upon the attention of the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Treasury, not from a wish to perplex or worry that right hon. Gentleman, but because he was deeply impressed with the conviction, that on the manner in which they were to be treated rested the prosperity and welfare of a great portion of the agricultural community. If the prices of stock, &c., were to be reduced—he did not say to the level, but approximating to the level of continental prices—they must also approximate, in the same degree, to the continental rate of wages; and if this did come to pass, then he would say that, looking upon the subject with reference to the new Poor-law Act—an act which he was bound to state had benefited the county which he represented to a greater 1186 extent than it did many others, yet, despite this, he would say, that if wages were to be lowered from the causes he had alluded to, the New Poor-law Act would become a measure of as intense severity as regarded the agriculturists, as it had already been found with respect to the manufacturers; it would become a measure of such intense severity as would prevent its being acted upon. He would conclude by moving, that the chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again. He conceived that the effect of that motion would be, that should it be carried, the proposed duties on barley would be erased from the scale, and left for after consideration.
explained that no such results would follow from the motion of the hon. Member being carried. Such a motion could only have the effect of leaving the House in the same place with regard to it the next time it went into committee. He suggested that the hon. Gentleman should move that the resolutions should be reported to the House.
§ Question put, that the resolution relative to the importation of wheat which had been agreed to, be reported to the House.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, I confess, though I listened to my hon. Friend with the greatest possible attention, that I could not follow the argument which he has just been addressing to the House. I could not follow the reasoning by which he attempted to show that the proposed scale of duties on barley will be productive of very extensive changes, and of very serious injury to agriculture. It seemed to me, that this argument was not satisfactory. He alluded to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kent, and called upon him to give protection to the barley grower; but he did not, I think, show that the proposed duty on barley would be inadequate for that purpose. My hon. Friend complains, that he did not get an answer to the inquiries which he made as to the intentions of the Government with regard to corn; but if he only knew how many private letters I have received asking for information and explanation, he would feel how difficult it was to give an answer to every individual. But I will at once tell my hon. Friend that there is no intention on the part of the Government to alter the laws which relate to malt. The revenue arising from that source is so great, that I should be very unwilling to do so. But I must think that my hon. Friend completely 1187 overrates the importance of protection to home-grown barley and malt. There are such difficulties attending the importation of foreign malt, that the diminution of the duty cannot be supposed to have much effect. I have no hesitation, however, in stating publicly, as I have already stated in private, that her Majesty's Government do not contemplate—do not see any reason why they should alter the law relating to malt. Barley and oats, it must be remembered, stand upon grounds distinct from wheat. Their value is less, and for that very reason they must always necessarily have a greater protection. There may be some slight diminution in the rate of freightage as between oats and barley on the one hand and wheat on the other; but certainly the diminution in freight is not in proportion to their relative value, and for this reason there is an additional protection in favour of oats and barley. From the nature of the article, too, there is the greatest difficulty in importing good barley. If you take the proportion of barley with wheat which has been imported under the present scale, you will find the proportion of barley not any formidable proportion. I account for this by the difficulty which attends its importation. Take Denmark or any of the other countries from which my hon. Friend fears a competition, and I have no doubt that the soil of England is far better fitted for the growth of barley. My hon. Friend speaks of barley from France, but we must not draw inferences from particular instances. In legislating we can only take general results. There are parts of this country in which barley is used as food; but my hon. Friend said, "that wheat is different, because wheat constitutes the food of man, and barley and oats do not." Now, in many parts of the country—in many parts with which I am best acquainted—for instance, in Yorkshire and Lancashire—barley-bread and oatmeal form articles of food amongst the labouring classes. This question was fully discussed In 1827-8; and when I consider the great extent to which oatmeal is used for food amongst the poorer labouring classes, I should be very sorry to increase the protection. My hon. Friend has mentioned the name of Mr. Huskisson. Now, I maintain the same proportion between the different species of grain as Mr. Huskisson did. If greater protection were given to one sort than to another—if the due proportion 1188 were not preserved—would you not embarrass the arrangements of the agricultural classes, and the investment of agricultural capital. I think that as much as possible, you ought to preserve the existing relation between the prices of different grain. I am certainly surprised that my hon. Friend should adopt so strong a course as to make a motion, which, if carried, would stop our proceedings altogether. I wish hon. Gentlemen to remember that the wish of my hon. Friend is to increase protection. I hardly expected so strong a step, as the entire suspension of our proceedings, when really there is so little difference between my hon. Friend and myself; for in every place where barley is above 30s., he has exactly adopted my scale. When the price of barley is 30s. and under 31s., the duty is 8s. That is my plan, and my hon. Friend's is exactly the same. The whole difference between us is this—I impose a duty of 11s., when the price is under 26s., and my hon. Friend imposes a duty of 13s. Now, my belief is, that 11s. will be found sufficient for the protection of the farmer. Under these circumstances, I hope that the House will not agree to the amendment. I do not deny that there is a diminution of protection. There is certainly a diminution, and that diminution we have proposed exactly on the same grounds as we proposed the diminution of the protection upon wheat. But there is no disturbance of the relation. If the House thinks that the time has arrived at which the protection on wheat should be somewhat diminished, there ought to be the same diminution—a fair, not an undue proportion of diminished protection—upon barley likewise. I trust, therefore, that the general impression of the House will be in favour of the proposed scale of duties upon barley. That scale is in fair proportion to the scale of wheat, and it will involve no risk of any sudden interruptions to those pursuits which I agree with my hon. Friend in thinking are interwoven with the best interests of the country, but which will not be injured or impeded by the measure we propose.
§ Mr. Cumming Bruce
said, that he would not trespass for many minutes on the time of the committee, after the lengthened discussion which the general question of the Corn-laws had undergone, he should think it worse than supererogation to de- 1189 tain hon. Members by any expression of his opinions. He had contented himself by recording on two occasions by his vote, his dissent from the proposition now twice submitted to the House under different forms, that it was unwise and inexpedient any longer to continue protection to native agriculture. That indeed was, in substance, the proposition both of the noble Lord, the leader of the smaller and less important section of those opposed to the Government, and of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), who submitted it openly and without disguise, after the root-and-branch fashion of the Radical section of the House, while the noble Lord presented it under a certain veil of mystification, which might conceal its real nakedness, and cover it with a disguise of words which, "while they kept the word of promise to the ear, should break it to the sense;" but both affirmed the same proposition, that all protection to native agriculture should cease, and against both, therefore, he had given a cordial and unhesitating vote. A third vote he had given also without hesitation, that which affirmed the proposed scale of protection on wheat, he was disposed to consider that sufficient. Undoubtedly, under the proposed scale, wheat would be at all times, and under every stage of the scale, imported, and to a certain extent prices would be lowered in the home market; but not so lowered as seriously, at least not ruinously, to affect the farmer, while on the other hand he would derive great advantage from greater steadiness of price, and from the importation not being flooded on the market so as to cause a great declension of price at the very period when it was most important to the smaller farmers that such should not occur. He had, therefore, supported the Government scale for wheat, a sacrifice, undoubtedly, the agricultural interest did make, but they made it willingly, as they hoped it would be cordially received, in proof of their disposition to concede to the wishes of their manufacturing fellow-subjects; and they made it the more willingly as it might tend to secure to all classes the advantage we now enjoyed in having not only a strong, but an honest and upright Government. But as regarded the parts of the scale now under consideration, involving the protection to spring corn, he regretted to say that he could not regard them with similar satisfaction. But first as to the motion of his gallant Friend, 1190 the Member for Norfolk, he would say that he understood that motion as intended to afford the Government an opportunity of withdrawing their scale for the present, and thus allowing them time for further consideration—that was his understanding of it. [Colonel Wodehouse, "Hear, hear."] Now that was precisely what he wished, because his conviction was that the proposed protection was far too low. If that conviction rested only on his own opinion, he should hesitate in adhering to it when opposed to the views of those whose opinions he so greatly respected as he did those of the present cabinet. But the same opinion, that a higher protection on spring corn was absolutely required to prevent the most injurious consequences to agriculture in Scotland, had been so strongly urged on him by intelligent and practical men, both farmers and corn dealers, some of them his own constituents, that agreeing as he did in the views which they expressed, he could not reconcile it with his duty not to urge on the right hon. Baronet a reconsideration of that part of his scale. In doing so he was sure it was not necessary for him to assure his right hon. Friend that he was not actuated by any feeling of unfriendliness towards his Government, the support which for more than ten years he had felt it his duty to give to his right hon. Friend, and to the views and principles which he had with so great ability and such uniform consistency advocated, would exempt him from the imputation of any such motive, and he would at once assure him, that if the question lay between the stability of his Government, and an acquiescence in the sacrifice he now required, whether he (Mr. C. Bruce) considered his own feelings, or the interests of his constituents, bound up as he conceived their interests to be in the stability of the Government, he should not hesitate to make the sacrifice, and support by his vote the stability of the Government. He could not however view, as a matter affecting the stability of the Government some modification in the scale of protection proposed, if it could be shown that in some essential respects, and as affecting some important interests, it was inadequate; and it was with the hope that his right hon. Friend might be induced to take the same view of it, that he should now venture to submit a few observations to the committee. He would then, first observe, that in all probability, under the operation of the altered 1191 scale of protection to wheat, no inconsiderable portion of land now used in the cultivation of that grain would be turned to the growing barley and oats; it became therefore more essential, that they should be sufficiently protected. The lowest protection to which the agriculturists were entitled to look, should, at least, correspond to that on wheat. As far as he could judge of the figures proposed, it did not so correspond, but was considerably lower. It could not be said, that barley, oats, and beans, could not bear a corresponding protection, because, since the present law was in operation, they had borne a proportion considerably higher, and yet no general complaint on the part of the consumer had been raised against the existing law in that respect. It appeared, (that the average duty paid on wheat since 1828, was 5s. 7d.; now, at the same rate the average proportion on barley would have been 3s.; it had paid 4s. 8d.; oats would have been 2s. 2d.; they had paid 6s. 5d.; peas would have been 3s. 2d.; they had paid 5s. 9d. beans would have been 3s. 2d.; they had paid 6s. 11d. Now this seemed to prove, that those grains could bear a higher average protection than wheat; and it appeared to him, that the fact of their having borne it, went far to prove that they required it. But the scale proposed by the Government was in reality much lower. Under the existing law, the duty on wheat, when the price was 50s. was 1l. 16s. 8d. It is proposed to reduce it to 1l. This was a reduction at the rate of 45½ per cent. Barley at 25s. of price, was protected by a duty of 1l. 4s. 4d.: it was to be reduced to 11s., being a reduction at the rate of 54¾ per cent.; while oats at a price of 18s., now bearing a duty of 19s. 9d. was to be reduced to 8s., a reduction of 59½ per cent. Had the duties on these latter grains only been reduced to the same extent as that on wheat, barley would have stood at 13s. 3¼d.; oats at 10s. 9½d., and with that he would have been satisfied. He had called on his right hon. Friend, at the Board of Trade, to press this matter on his consideration; but his right hon. Friend had told him he was quite mistaken, that his calculations were matter of moonshine, and that Parliament never would look at the matter in that point of view. His right hon. Friend said, that he must look at the pivot price, and that as sixteen was to fifty-six the pivot of wheat, so was eight to twenty- 1192 eight the pivot of barley, and six to twenty-two the pivot of oats. There was no denying this; but still the fact remained, that while the new protection as compared with the old was on wheat reduced only 45 per cent., on barley it was reduced 54, and on oats 59, or nearly 60 per cent. But, besides this, by the exclusion of Scotland from the averages, they also were made to work against us. The grower of Scotland sold his oats, say, for 18s. per quarter, about the present price. At that price, he would be entitled, under the proposed scale, to protection to the extent of 8s. But the merchant who takes that grain to London, must sell it as high as 22s. or even 23s., to reimburse his expenses of various sorts, excluding altogether, or nearly so, all consideration of profit—it then enters into the formation of the average, which regulates the duty, and the protection is reduced from 8s. to 6s. or 5s. Now, he did not complain of the exclusion of Scotland from the averages—there were sufficient reasons in the Tithe Composition Law to make it difficult and inexpedient to remedy that; but it did afford a reason for giving, to a certain extent, an increased protection. Then farther, the expences of freight, &c., were not the only deduction to be made from the profit of the Scotch farmer. In stating them at 4s., or even 5s. per quarter he had not exaggerated. His right hon. Friend had himself stated the other night that 2s. per quarter was not an over-estimate of the expense to which the English farmer must be put in bringing his corn to market. Now he had received, the other day, a letter from an extensive and very intelligent farmer in the upper district of the county he had the honour to represent, and that gentleman assured him, that on 200 quarters of oats which he sold, to be delivered free at the port of shipping, for 18s. per quarter; his expences of carriage, &c. amounted to 35l. 1s. 4d., or about 3s. 6d. per quarter, so that the price he really received for his grain did not exceed 14s. 6d. He would not detain the committee with the details of those expences, but he had received the calculations, which were fairly and moderately stated. The gentleman to whom he alluded, was one of a class numerous in the upland districts of Scotland. He held his farm under lease, relying on the protection which the law now afforded, he had largely, and with great benefit to the district in which he resided, invested his capital in reclaiming 1193 and bringing under cultivation about 100 acres of new land. Every one knows that the grain produced on 'new land is, for the first years, of soft and inferior quality, and it is to the produce of the last years of his lease that the farmer looks for his return. Surely, then, it would be unjust so to alter the law as to compel him to abandon the cultivation of that land. It was no consolation to tell him that from climate and situation his land was unfitted for cultivation, and that he should turn it to pasture. Every one practically acquainted with such land, and he had himself a good deal of not very profitable experience, knew that it would not carry pasture, at least not till it had gone through three or four 5-shift rotations. He did not however, pretend to plead for him a continuance of his present protection. All he asked for him was, such an increase on the proposed scale, as would secure him from ruinous loss. And he did not ask it for him alone, but also for that numerous class of agricultural labourers who found in his improvements a constant and profitable employment. Last year he (Mr. C. Bruce) had served on a Committee to inquire into the destitution in the highlands; the committee of which his hon. Friend, the Member for Inverness shire was chairman, found that great distress, arising from want of employment, existed. In ascertaining the numbers of the unemployed, it was proposed to enquire into the state of the district round Inverness. He had opposed that enquiry, because he knew that every man disposed to handle a pick and a spade could then find employment in reclaiming waste land. He trusted that the Government would yet well consider the effect of the proposed change in the law, lest by arresting such operations you added to the number, already so lamentably great of those suffering for want of employment. With regard to barley, now more immediately under their consideration, though he had thought it better at once to discuss the whole protection proposed for spring corn. He would not long detain the Committee. On it also he considered the proposed protection inadequate. Much would depend on the accuracy of the returns as to the quantity which might be expected to come into competition with the home grower. From the abstract of the consular returns it appeared, that 852,566 quarters might he now expected if the ports were opened at a moderate duty; and, as regarded the 1194 probable and speedy future increase of that quantity, the very important answer from Elsinore was "Yes," that without much difficulty, and in a short space of time, it might be materially increased. The fact he believed to be, that under favouring circumstances, the greater part of the Danish barley, which now goes to be used in distillation to Norway, would find its way to England; 850,000 quarters, therefore, he considered a very imperfect estimate of the quantity we might expect. Indeed, he attached very little to such estimates. He did not wish to say anything disrespectful of Mr. Meek, who, he doubted not, had done his duty honestly and with ability under all the circumstances—but at a former period Mr. Jacob, who was also a great authority on such matters, had informed Mr. Huskisson that not more than 500,000 quarters of wheat could be sent to this country from abroad; yet when three months afterwards, the ports were opened, three times that amount, or 1,500,000 quarters were poured in. If Mr. Jacob was mistaken then, so Mr. Meek might be now. Indeed, mistakes and omissions were manifest on the face of the returns. For instance, it was stated, that only 150,000 quarters might be expected from Odessa. Now, he was assured that four or five times that amount were exported annually from the port of Odessa. Then as to omissions; Riga was entirely unnoticed—and yet in 1827–8, some six or 700,000 quarters of oats had been imported from Riga alone; yet Riga was omitted altogether, and the whole quantity of oats which it was stated we could expect from the whole continent was only 808,000 quarters. He could cite other instances for the reports, but these were sufficient to show that they could not be altogether relied on. And as the quantities were under-stated, so he believed the prices to be over-stated, the fact was, that with a constant trade, such as we should have under the proposed scale, prices abroad would rise when we required their corn, and fall to a very low figure when, from abundant harvests at home, we did not require it; and it would then be flooded into this country at prices ruinously low, and from which your proposed duty would give no adequate protection. He was aware that it was asserted that the home grower would have a monopoly, or nearly so, of the finer qualities of this grain, because foreign barley, it was said, was not fit for malting. But besides that, 1195 it would displace our inferior barley, used for other purposes, and of which he regretted to say that there was at present too much,—the selling price in Kincardineshire being from 14s. to 16s.; besides this, it was a mistake to suppose that foreign barley was now unfit for malting. He was assured, that it was so improved in quality of late years, that if not long in store before being sent over, it will malt as well as our own. Formerly, that imported was very inferior, seldom weighing more than 48lbs. per bushel, very little reached 50lbs.; now, it frequently weighs from 52 to 56lbs. An extensive corn merchant, on the east coast of Scotland, informed him, that last year he had imported a considerable quantity from Holstein, weighing upwards of 56lbs.; and when the trade is regular, as it would be, under a duty considerably higher than under the proposed scale, it will come direct from the shipping ports as delivered by the grower, and will be as fit for malting as our own. It will so come, as it has come, at freights somewhat lower than was paid by the same house for barley, sent to London from the north-east ports of Scotland. It would not be difficult to prove, that in his statements of the average amount of charge for freight, and other expenses, incident to foreign grain of all kinds, considered as an addition to the protection of the English grower, Mr. Meek has considerably over-rated them. He would not, however, detain the Committee on that point. It was admitted, that whatever was the amount, grain from Scotland was liable to equal or greater charges. There was one other spring-crop on which he wished to address a word to the Committee; beans formed an important crop in the rotation, followed on the richer lands in Scotland. In the carses of Stirling, Falkirk, parts of Perthshire, and other countries, the bean-crop is an essential crop in the preparation for wheat. Now, he would not be accused of an over-statement, if he said, that 38s. per quarter was not more than a remunerating price for beans —the highest duty now proposed on them was 11s. 6d. Last year, an old friend of his, the Pasha of Egypt, contracted to send to this country 50,000 quarters of beans, freight, and all charges included, for 16s. per quarter; add to this insurance at 6d., and your highest duty of 11s. 6d., and you had them here at 28s. per quarter. At such a price all competition was totally out of the question; you make a law against 1196 their cultivation, as effectual as the law against the cultivation of tobacco. He had been in the country, and asserted, that there was no limit to the quantity which Egypt might supply, so long as the Nile continued to furnish manure to the Egyptian cultivator, free of all cost and trouble. He did not wish to trespass longer on the time of the Committee, notwithstanding the warning held out to him the other night, by his right hon. Friend, to take warning from the treatment which, as exemplified towards his hon. Friend, the Member for Lincolnshire, skirmishers from his side of the House might expect to receive from hon. Gentlemen opposite. He had ventured, following his instincts as a Highlander, to act among the irregular troops attached to the force of his right hon. Friend. He had acted, however, as an isolated Bidette, and if the information which he conveyed to his right hon. Friend did not induce him to change his position for what he (Mr. Cumming Bruce) thought a better, and advance to the support of his Picquets from Norfolk and Ireland; if they should resolve to maintain their post, and in so doing, fall into the hands of the enemy, he would endeavour not to share their fate; but to fall back alone on the main body of the army. He had no thoughts of deserting to the enemy. If, indeed, the Government of his right hon. Friend were composed of the same squeezable materials as that which preceded it, he might have been tempted to use such a threat; but, thank God, the days of squeezable Governments, as one of their own supporters had termed them, were past; and what he could not obtain from the convictions of the Government, he well knew, that he could never extort from their fears. To their convictions, then, he addressed himself. He believed the protection of the Government insufficient—he believed it would lower the value of land in Scotland 25 per cent., and thus inflict a serious loss on the proprietors, but not till it had inflicted a much more serious loss on the farmers holding, as they all did, under lease. Doubtless, the rents would fall, but not, in many instances, till the leaseholders' means were exhausted; for, unhappily in that country, many estates were held under trusts, which would prevent the proprietors, even if so disposed, from voluntarily lowering the rents; many more were so affected by debts and family provisions, as to leave little in the landlord's power, if he would continue to meet 1197 his engagements. Doubtless, where the power existed, the inclination to relieve the tenants would not be wanting among the proprietors of Scotland; but a higher protection was required by both, and he trusted the Government would pause before they absolutely refused it? He could not conclude, however, without saying, that if the proposed scale was adhered to, and if, from it, the bad effects which he anticipated did result, they would have this conviction, and this consolation, that it had been persevered in in no unfriendly spirit—that it had been enacted under the persuasion that no injurious consequences would follow—that the agriculturists had not been intentionally sacrificed to the clamour of any section of their fellow-countrymen, and that a sincere desire to ensure their safety, and promote their eventual prosperity, had been the motive and the object of the Ministers of the Crown.
§ Lord Worsley
said, that an hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. Bruce) had stated that he thought the proposed amount of protection to the growers of barley was insufficient, but as the measure came from an honest Government, sooner than displace that Government, he would withdraw his opposition to the proposal. Now he was ready to admit the good intentions of the Government, but at the same time he should say that they were mistaken in thinking that the protection they proposed to give would be sufficient. He should say from communications he had had with intelligent farmers of different political opinions, that the whole body seemed to be unanimously of opinion that the existing protection was not too great to the home grower of barley; and they did not think it possible they would continue to cultivate their land for that crop with a less protection. A friend of his had lately told him, that in consequence of the proposition of the Government, only 22s. had during the last week been offered for barley in his part of the country, and the maltsters stated that if that proposition were carried, they would get the greater part of their barley from abroad. It must be recollected that none but the finest barleys were included in the averages. There was a very great quantity which was sold at an inferior price, which was not included. As far as he had been able to ascertain with respect to his own country there was but one opinion on this subject. As regarded the alteration in the duty on 1198 the importation of foreign wheat the common expression was, that they must grin and bear it; but he trusted that the case was not so hopeless with respect to barley. He feared that if these resolutions passed there would be agricultural distress added to manufacturing distress. That number of persons who now cultivated land would be thrown out of employment and find no other means of obtaining a subsistence. If the forms of the House had permitted, he should have moved that the duties with regard to spring corn should remain as they were at present. From that, however, he was precluded by the decision upon the motion of his hon. Colleague. But with respect to the duties on barley and oats he could not see why any change whatever should have been proposed. As he had stated before, he regretted extremely that the measure had been brought forward. He gave the Government credit for believing that it would afford sufficient protection, and that it would be a settlement of the question; at the same time he differed from them in opinion, and should feel it his duty to offer every opposition to its passing into a law.
was quite aware that any Gentleman on that side of the House who engaged in a skirmish against her Majesty's Government, was placed in no enviable position. He wished, however, to call the attention of the House to the state of this question as regarded Ireland. A vast deal of alarm existed in that country in reference to the proposed change. He had that day presented a petition, not from the monopolising agriculturists as they were often called, but from the Chamber of Commerce of the city, which he had the honour to represent, praying for an increase of the duty upon oats and barley. Oats were not generally grown in England, but in Ireland. This crop employed a greater number of the population, who supplied this country, as might be inferred from the fact that, while England imported from 1828 to 1841, 3,988,969 quarters of foreign oats, she imported nearly 12,000,000 quarters of foreign wheat. The withdrawal of the protection for oats from Ireland would increase the 1,500,000 unemployed persons to 2,000,000 or 3,000,000, so that the workhouses could not hold them. And it should be borne in mind that in Ireland there were no manufactures to fall back on as here. Since the passing of the present act, there had been imported into this coun- 1199 try from Ireland 27,914,039 quarters of oats, valued at nearly 30,000,000l. It would, therefore evidently be dangerous to throw this kind of grain out of cultivation, for most certainly the foreigner could beat the Irish oats out of the market, under the proposed scale—a result that she more particularly avoided, considering that Ireland had now the burden of poors'-rate, for the first time, thrown upon her. The three places on the continent, from which the largest importation of oats might be expected, were Petersburgh, Elsinore, and Hamburgh. The price at Petersburgh was from 12s. to 14s.; at Elsinore, from 12s. to 16s.; and at Hamburgh, from 14s. to 16s.; so that they might consider the average price to be 13s. a quarter. To this they would have to add 2s. a quarter for freight; and that, with a duty of 6s., foreign oats could be brought into the British market at 21s. a quarter. The price of oats was also always lower in Ireland than it was in England; and, therefore, he thought he was justified in saying that the proposed scale did not afford sufficient protection to the Irish grower. He should be sorry to do anything to obstruct the proposed measure of which, as a whole, he approved. As for himself, he had no objection to a fixed duty, provided it were sufficiently high, but it ought to be much higher than the one proposed by the noble Lord. He hoped the Government would take into their consideration the particular circumstances of the case as regarded Ireland, and shape their legislation accordingly. He felt a difficulty in voting on the motion of the hon. Member, because he did not understand the effect it might produce. If it would induce the Government to reconsider the question as far as related to oats, he should not hesitate to vote for it. Under the present circumstances, he scarcely knew how he should vote on the motion.
§ Mr. Christopher
said, that if the motion before the committee could lead to any practical result, and induce the Government to increase the protective duty on barley and oats, he should feel great satisfaction in supporting it. He agreed in a great deal that had fallen from his noble Friend and Colleague (Lord Worsley) with respect to the inadequate protection which the Government scale would afford to the barley grower; but the practical question for them to consider was, whether they could obtain any additional protection to 1200 the barley grower by supporting the motion of the hon. Member for Norfolk. He certainly concurred in what had been urged by the hon. Member for Elginshire. He believed, that if the scale should be adopted without alteration, the cultivators of the strong clay lands, and the growers of beans would suffer materially. Within the last few years large quantities of beans had been imported from Egypt at a low price, and unless the scale upon the lower kinds of grain should be raised, he feared that the agriculturists would be unable to pay their labourers as good wages as they always wished them to receive. There was nothing in the state of the market as regarded barley and oats which called for a reduction of duty. In the midland counties good malting barley could be bought for from 22s. to 24s., and oats for from 17s. to 20s. If by supporting the motion of his hon. Friend, he could induce the Government to alter their intentions, and impose a higher protective duty upon the minor sorts of grain, he would vote for it; but knowing that the motion could not possibly lead to any practical result, and believing, that the sooner the matter under consideration was settled, one way or the other, the more satisfactory it would be to the country, he would strongly recommend his hon. Friend not to press his motion to a division.
said, that a considerable degree of excitement prevailed in Ireland upon the subject of the proposed scales of duties upon oats. It was undoubtedly the general opinion, that the degree of protection afforded by that scale was inefficient. The feeling upon this point might, perhaps, be exaggerated; but he believed, that it was not altogether groundless. His object in rising was to elicit some explanation from the right hon., the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. In framing the scale of duties for oats, Government had proceeded upon the assumption, that 22s. per quarter was a sufficient price for the protection of the home-grower. The Government likewise arrived at that conclusion on the assumption of another fact, the accuracy of which he was disposed to dispute—namely, that foreign oats could not be brought into the English market under the price of 16s. per quarter. If it could be shown, that foreign oats could be sold for less than 16s., the Government must admit, that there was some mistake in their calculation; if, on the contrary, they could show their calculation was cor- 1201 rect, he should be compelled to acknowledge that the agriculturists ought to be satisfied. He had that very day been informed that Swedish oats could be bought at Hamburg for 9s. per quarter, and the freight from Hamburg was only 2s. 6d. An hon. Member opposite had also informed him that he could obtain any quantity of oats he pleased at Elsinore, at 12s. per quarter. Hamburg and Elsinore were the two places from which we always obtained our principal supplies of oats, and he could not help thinking that there was some mistake in the information contained in Mr. Meek's report as regarded both those places. In that report was the following question and answer respecting the price of oats at Elsinore:—What would be the average price free on board per imperial quarter of oats?—It would be from 12s. to 15s.In another part of Mr. Meek's report he found, under the head Elsinore, the following passage:—The prices of corn per quarter paid in the interior are scarcely to be ascertained with any degree of accuracy. They vary considerably, almost each province, and even each town, delivering a different quality of grain. The prices that have been paid in the provinces during these latter years, so far as the same can be ascertained, appear not to have exceeded the following:— Oats,8s. 6d. to 10s. 6d.There was a material difference between the two statements. There was also some mistake apparent in the statement with respect to Hamburg. He understood, that the vessels engaged in the coal-trade between Newcastle end Hamburg were in the habit of bringing corn to this country at the rate of 1s. 6d. per quarter. This was confirmed by what he found in page 40 of Mr. Meek's report. The question was asked,What are the present rates of freight from Hamburg to the various parts of the United Kingdom?The answer was,Corn is 1s. 6d. to 2s. per quarter to the east coast.And yet, in the consuls' returns, the average cost of freight was stated to be from 2s. 6d. to 5s. So large a margin was left between the two figures, that it was impossible to come to any satisfactory conclusion on the subject. The same observation would apply to the assigned average 1202 price of oats at Hamburgh, which was stated to be from 11s. to 16s. In 1829, when the price of oats in this country was 25s. 11d., no less than 189, 876 quarters of foreign oats were brought into home consumption. The average duty that year was 11s., and deducting that from 25s. 11d., there would be 14s. 11d, left as the price at which foreign oats could be introduced, and at that price he believed the home grower would be undersold in the market. It appeared, that during last year, two millions and a half quarters of oats were imported from Ireland into this country, and from the rest of the world only 500,000 quarters. There were ten thousand vessels, and those principally of small burthen, engaged in the trade between Ireland and this country. This was not a state of things which ought to be disturbed upon light grounds. Agriculture had greatly improved in Ireland with-in the last few years. The country, generally, was improving. A Poor-law had been recently established. Was not this, then, an inconvenient time for making an experiment upon the staple trade of the country? He entreated hon. Members opposite, who expressed so much sympathy for the distressed manufacturers, to remember that agriculture furnished the sole means of employment for the eight millions of Irish population. Of late years, the Irish agriculturists had found it more advantageous to cultivate oats than any other kind of grain, and if anything should be done seriously to affect that branch of industry, the most calamitous disasters might be expected to ensue. He entreated the Government to pause before they determined on adhering to their scale with respect to oats. He thought, that justice would be done by raising the duty 2s.
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, that hon. Members opposite seemed to be puzzled as to what course they should pursue on the present occasion, and the hon. Member for Norfolk proposed to stop the business of the House, in order, he supposed, to enable the country gentlemen to collect their ideas. He knew not how long a time that operation might occupy; but he ventured to suggest that it would be better not to waste the time of the House for such a purpose. As the question stood, he could pursue no other course except that of voting with the Government, for he could not lend himself in any way to a raising of the duty. The motion, if carried, could have no other effect than that of uselessly postponing the 1203 settlement of an important question. He could not, however, help expressing his surprise at the course pursued by the agricultural Members. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire said, it was no use trying to do anything against the Government; but that courageous nobleman, the Duke of Buckingham, said, that nothing was ever got without trying. The farmers would, he feared, be disappointed at the course their friends were pursuing. Why did not the agricultural Members follow the example of the noble Duke, pluck up a little courage and try.
§ Mr. Wodehouse
said, that his main object was to obtain some explanation with respect to the admission of foreign malt, and he could only say that he retained his opinion that the proposed protection in reference to barley and oats would be inadequate. Wheat might be a fit subject for revenue, but he did not think there was a necessity for rendering the rule respecting wheat in reference to revenue applicable to other kinds of grain. The tendency of the proposed scale respecting barley and oats would be to exhaust the minor soils, and this was a point the importance of which, though the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard might not be aware of, yet agriculturists well understood. He would not, however, put the committee to the trouble of a division.
§ Mr. G. Palmer
said, that hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House were not to be cried down by ridiculous and unseemly observations. He thought the Government ought to reconsider those duties, or, at all events, afford such reasonable time as would enable hon. Gentlemen to ascertain what was likely to be their effect. The right hon. Baronet should pay as much attention to the objections of the agricultural interest as he had done to those urged from the other side of the House. To show that the proposed protection would not be sufficient, he had only to say that at present the price of oats at Hamburgh was no more than 11s. 6d. the quarter, and the charge for freight only 3s.
Motion withdrawn, and the scale of duties relating to barley agreed to, for which see ante, page 237.
§ Mr. Gladstone
said, that notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, barley and oats being so closely allied, it would be convenient at once to proceed with the consideration of the subject of the scale of duties applicable to oats.
then put the question, that whenever the average price of oats was 18s. and under 19s. the quarter, the duty shall be for every quarter 8s.
§ Mr. W. S. O'Brien
was understood to contend that the effect of the Government plan would be to prevent the Irish farmer from obtaining fair remuneration for his oats. It was quite manifest that the proposed scale of duties would enable foreign oats to compete with Irish, oats in the markets of this country, and he thought as large a protection should be given to oats as had been given to wheat. When the price of oats was 20s. foreign oats could be sold at a profit, notwithstanding a duty of 6s., and he therefore thought it would have been better if the right hon. Baronet had excluded foreign oats until a price of 23s. had been attained. From the statements of Mr. M'Gregor, it appeared that oats could be shipped at ports in the north of Europe at an average of 9s. the quarter, a high average; whereas the cost price in Ireland was 13s. or 14s. The Irish farmer, therefore, would not receive more than 7d. or 7½d. a stone for oats under the new system although by the present he got 10d. or 1s. In 1837 the quantity of oats imported from Ireland at a duty of 6s. was 826,270 quarters, and in 1839, 855,000, so that not only would Ireland lose the advantage of the markets of this country, but thousands of acres of land in that country would be thrown out of cultivation. He had thought it right to remonstrate with the right hon. Baronet, as to the effect which his scale of duties for oats would be calculated to produce upon the condition of the Irish producers, and he called upon hon. Members at both sides of the House to support him in protecting the interests of so considerable a class of Irish agriculturists.
§ Sir D. Roche
was opposed to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet, as regarded the duty on oats, for he did not believe that it would afford sufficient protection to the Irish grower. As an instance of the opinion which was held by those best acquainted with the subject, he would call attention to the fact, that a great fall had taken place in the price of oats since the proposal of the right hon. Baronet had been given to the public, whilst no corresponding reduction had taken place in the price of wheat. Feeling, as he did, that those who were engaged in the production 1205 of oats in Ireland would suffer if the plan of the right hon. Baronet were carried into effect, he hoped that the portion of the proposition which referred to oats would be reconsidered.
§ Sir R. Bateson
congratulated Gentlemen on his side of the House for the conversion which had taken place on the opposite side of the House. It appeared that an hon. Gentleman opposite thought the protection to oats was rather too low, although, if he (Sir R. Bateson) mistook not, that hon. Gentleman had voted a few nights ago against a similarly proportioned duty for wheat. He could assure the House that there was a general feeling throughout Ireland amongst the landowners, the farmers, and the merchants, to the effect that the rates of duty proposed for oats would be quite insufficient to afford protection to the growers of oats. It would not permit the Irish producers to enter into a competition with the producers of foreign grain in the London market. However, he saw no chance of at present obtaining a higher rate of duty; and, approving as he did of the other portions of the plan of the right hon. Baronet, he could only express his regret that the duty had not been fixed at a higher scale, and to hope that at some other period the question would be taken into consideration.
§ Mr. W. O. Stanley
believed the scale of the right hon. Baronet would be quite satisfactory to the constituency which he had the honour to represent.
§ Mr. Redington
had voted against the total repeal of the Corn-laws, but was not therefore bound to agree to every detail of the measure brought forward by the right hon. Baronet. He claimed a fair proportion of protection for Ireland as well as for England, but he had no partial motive in making that claim. He was of the same opinion which Lord Coke had expressed many years ago—that the prosperity of both countries would be best promoted by attending to the interests of each. While, however, he opposed the repeal of the Corn-laws, he thought it could be shown—indeed it had been shown— that they could be altered without danger to the agriculturists, and with advantage to the manufacturers. He denied that he ever voted for the protection of 3s. 4d. offered by the noble Lord, for this simple reason, that there had been no opportunity either to vote for it or to discuss it. He congratulated the right hon. Baronet the 1206 Member for Tamworth on being one of the most successful missionaries ever sent amongst a people afflicted with blindness and error. He had succeeded in making many converts, but there was one obstinate, or rather courageous nobleman, who still loved to remain in blindness and superstition, notwithstanding all the attempts of the right hon. Baronet to enlighten him. As to the arguments used by persons of different feelings from that nobleman, that there should be no tax at all on bread, he should not be surprised, if that were pressed for, to see some agricultural Members of the House, more eager and adventurous than the hon. Member for North Lincolnshire, rise up and move that the burdens which encumber land should be altogether removed. At the same time, he confessed that he had heard one of the most unsatisfactory reasons possible from a right hon. Gentleman in that House, for maintaining the Corn-laws—that they were necessary to support the aristocracy in their present position. He would oppose in every way the measure of the right hon. Baronet, as long as it was not calculated to afford adequate protection to Ireland. He was opposed to the present fluctuating scale, by which, if he understood it properly, the reduction of the duty upon oats at 22s. was to be in relation to the duty on wheat at 56s. The old duty, when wheat was at 56s., was 30s. 8d.; by the new duty it would be 16s. So that when oats were at 22s. the old duty was 13s. 9d. Arguing the same way, the new duty ought not to be 6s. on the oats, but 7s. 2½d. Sinking the 2½d. it ought to be 7s. That was a difference of a shilling only, it was true, but still it was a difference. He thought the price 22s. ought to be at the middle of the scale, and that the right hon. Baronet had not treated oats in the same way that he had corn. Should oats be reduced in the same ratio as wheat, at the prick of 22s. the scale would be a shilling too low. Therefore he should propose that at the price of 20s. the figure 7s. be left out, for the purpose of substituting 8s. eventually.
§ Mr. Gladstone
would endeavour to go over the principal points which had been touched on in the speeches of hon. Members on either side of the House during that debate, and he thought he should be able to show, that the proposition of her Majesty's Government embraced a scale in due, and indeed exact proportion to the existing law. The scale maintained, he 1207 would contend, the same proportion in all its essential points, as regarded wheat, on the one hand, and oats and barley, on the other, which was in operation under the existing law. It was true, that if an arbitrary point were assumed in the present scale, there might be a variation in the proportions discovered at that particular point; and it was from the assumption of arbitrary points, instead of paying regard to the cardinal points of the existing law, that hon. Gentleman bad been led to object to the proposal of her Majesty's Government as not corresponding with the relations of the present law. An hon. Gentleman opposite had stated, that he thought the duty on oats at 22s., ought to be 1s. higher than that proposed by the Government, and another hon. Member had stated, that instead of 22s., 23s. ought to be substituted, so that there was a very small divergence, and that arose from hon. Gentlemen not having taken pains enough to examine the principle on which the structure of the present scale had been based. An hon. Gentleman opposite had remarked, that at a certain point of the scale, the duty on oats was lower proportionally than it was on wheat, but it could be shown, by referring to the other end of the scale, that the same duty was proportionally somewhat higher, as the ascent and descent was to be by integrals, and could not conveniently be by fractions, it was obvious that there could not be a precise correspondence at every point, the same differential being applied to different quantities. But on the whole, the balance, he believed, was accurately struck. The hon. Gentleman had also said, that 56s. had been fixed on as a remunerating price for wheat. Now, he did not apply that precise term, but he should say, that 56s. was a price up to which such protection would be given by the proposed bill as, under ordinary circumstances, would permit only a limited entry of foreign grain into the market, and the corresponding prices of oats and barley bore the same relation to wheat under that bill, that they bore under the present system. He should first show the House, that the relations which oats and barley bore to wheat in the existing scale, were higher than those that had been in operation previous to the existing law. In 1663, the proportion which oats bore to wheat was as 27 to 100; in 1774, the proportion' was 33 to 100; in 1822, it was raised from 33 to 35; and in 1838, from 35 to 40; and at 40, it was 1208 now proposed to continue it. In 1774, and for a long time subsequently, barley was taken at half the value of wheat, namely, 50 to 100. In 1828, it was taken at 53 to 100, and at that point it was proposed to retain it. It had been said, that the duty on oats at 22s., ought to be in the same proportion to the price as the duty on wheat at 56s., bore to the price at 56s. under the old scale; but it should be recollected, that under the old scale, the duty at 56s. was merely attached to that price, as it happened to fall upon it in the course of the descent of the scale; but 56s. was not there chosen on any principle, or with any particular view. If 16s. were assumed as the duty when wheat was 56s., in order to prevent any very extensive importation of foreign wheat, then it was not a similar case, in comparing the duty on oats, to look at 56s. under the old duty, which was not a price chosen or selected on any principle, as it was under the proposed scale. The scale was constructed on the principle of maintaining the same relation between the amount of protection afforded to wheat, and that afforded to barley and oats, as that of the law of 1828. On this principle it was, that 6s. was considered the duty that ought to be placed on oats when at 22s.; since 22s. is assumed to be a price for oats as good as 56s. for wheat; it corresponds with 56s. as in the law of 1828, 25s, corresponds with 62s., rejecting a fraction; and the duty of 6s. at 22s., bears the same relation to the duty of 16s. at 56s., as the duty of 9s. 3d. at 25s. on oats, in the law of 1828, bore to the duty of 24s. 8d. at 62s. on wheat, in the same law. The rule had been applied with as much arithmetical precision, as the nature of a graduated scale would admit, and it must also be remembered, that this was a higher relation of duty than oats had ever borne to wheat in any corn bill before the year 1828. The same principle had been acted on with regard to the duty on barley. It was very natural, that hon. Members who represented constituencies that were particularly interested in the cultivation of barley and oats, should stand out for a higher protection than that proposed to be afforded, and to insist that the proposed scale did not afford protection enough. But he, on the other hand, was called upon to show, and was fully confident of being able to convince the House, that the scale proposed by the Government afforded as fair a protection to one kind of grain as to another. He was glad to avail himself of the testimony that had been, 1209 borne by the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. W. O. Stanley). That hon. Member had stated, though his constituents were not the most favourably circumstanced with regard to markets, that their belief was, that the protection afforded to barley and oats was a fair and efficient protection. Recollecting the number of Gentlemen in the House connected with constituencies, who were interested in the cultivation of barley and oats, and recollecting the small number of those Gentlemen who objected to the proposed scale, he might take that acquiescence as a proof that those Gentlemen were convinced that the protection afforded to these grains was a fair protection; and if that was not their opinion, the debate on that point would have been much more protracted. His right hon. Friend, at the head of the Government, had observed at the commencement of the debate, on the question generally, that in apportioning the relative amount of duty on the different kinds of grain, several circumstances ought to be taken into consideration. They should recollect, that the cost of conveyance on oats and barley was higher on the former than on the latter, in proportion to the difference of price. The cost of conveyance was very much proportioned to the bulk of the articles, and thus it afforded an additional protection to barley and oats as compared with the more valuable article of wheat which, of course, would bear the charge better. And besides that, the value of the article was to be taken into consideration; he might allude to the admission which had been made by the hon. Member himself, who moved the amendment, the Member for Norfolk, who fairly avowed that the generality of foreign barley was not fit for the purposes of malting. He believed, that the fact of a general inferiority in quality, would be equally admitted with respect to oats. He did not mean to say, that some of the continental countries, where oats were cultivated, did not produce oats as good as the average of our own. He might mention the Dutch oats, and the oats grown in some parts of Denmark. But he believed, that limiting the proposition by these exceptions, the generality of oats grown on the continent was inferior to the oats grown in this country. Now, if that was the case, they must make some allowance for that fact, in determining the protection required. He would now come to the important consideration which had been pointed out the other evening 1210 by the hon. Member for Halifax, namely, the price at which they might expect not particular parcels, but large quantities of grain to be landed in this country from foreign parts. With respect to this part of the subject, he would refer, in succession, to some statements that had been made by hon. Members at both sides, by his right hon. Friend, the Recorder of Dublin, and other Gentlemen who had addressed the committee. The representations made by these hon. Members must invariably be taken in this sense, that they brought forward the best case in favour of that particular class of agriculturists which their zeal and industry could produce. Well, then, before referring to the official accounts on the Table of the House, let them try the case by what had been stated by his right hon. Friend behind him. In the first place, his right hon. Friend, the Recorder of Dublin, had stated, that in 1829, 190,000 quarters of oats were taken out of bond at an average duty of 11s. the quarter, the average price in the market being at the time 22s. 9d. per quarter. Now, assuming this to be the average price, it would leave the cost to the importer at something under 12s. per quarter. This, he believed, was about the lowest average that could be quoted. But the returns before the House showed, that in the year referred to there were 555,000 quarters of oats imported. Now, the fact that of this quantity only 190,000 quarters were entered for consumption, showed that it could not have been a very good mercantile transaction, and that the grain must have been sold either at a small profit, or probably at no profit at all. For it appeared from this statement, that of the quantity of oats imported, only one-third was brought into the market. He must likewise remark, that 190,000 quarters of oats sounded in that House as a very large quantity; but any one who formed the smallest estimate of the entire consumption of the country, must see at once that such a quantity as 190,000 quarters could not exercise any influence upon the general price. To take the general consumption of the United Kingdom at 15,000,000 quarters was to take a very moderate estimate, and it was quite clear, that 190,000 or about the one-seventy- fifth, or the one-eightieth part of that quantity, could not influence the price—the effect of such a quantity could not be felt in the market. Another case had been mentioned by the hon. Member for 1211 Limerick, who stated, that in 1837, the quantity of oats imported was 334,000 quarters; and the hon. Member somewhat skilfully observed, that the average price of the whole year was only 21s. 9d. per quarter. It was fortunate, that the returns of the average duty paid would point to what the average price exactly was at the period of the operation in question.. The hon. Member would find from the returns, that in three months specified in that year—namely, the months of July, August, and September, he would find that 9s. 11d. was the average duty paid on 300,000 quarters, or about nine-tenths of the whole quantity, and that showed that the price of oats in this country at the time must have been at about 25s. per quarter. Well, then taking the price at 25s. on 300,000 quarters, that would leave the price to the importer at 15s. the quarter; but the whole alarm of the agriculturists at the proposed duty was founded on the apprehension, that oats could be imported at 14s., 13s., or even 12s. per quarter. Now, it showed how little grounds there existed for this alarm, when it appeared, that even at this which had been adduced as a period proving the inadequacy of the protection now proposed, 15s. a quarter was the price at which oats had been imported—and even then not in such large quantities as could materially influence the general market. His hon. Friend the Member for Essex had stated, in the course of the debate, that in some ports in the north of Europe he could purchase oats at 11s. 6d. the quarter, and that the freight would be about 3s. Now, to this not less than 1s. 6d. a quarter must be added for the payment of sound duties, metage, and other charges. This would raise the price to about 16s., and adding the duty of 6s. the quarter, the oats so imported could not be sold at a price under 22s. the quarter. Thus again the reasonableness of the proposal was proved by the statements made for the purpose of impeaching it. He did not doubt but that it might be possible to procure particular parcels of oats at a lower price; but without inquiring into the circumstances of the vendor, and the particular circumstances under which such parcels might be sold, they could not take such instances into their calculation. They should form their conclusions from the price at which this grain could be generally obtained from foreign ports. There was also this additional security with respect to the importation of large quantities lowering 1212 the price in the home market; namely, that the demand from this country for large quantities of grain must have the invariable effect of raising the price in the foreign port. There was no effect in nature or art more certainly produced, than that the demand for a large quantity caused a proportionate rise in the price. He would now turn to the official papers which had been laid on the Table of the House. He found, according to the returns from the consuls, that the total quantity of oats produced by Sweden was about 12,000 quarters. Sweden was generally an importing country, and with respect to the productions of all kinds of grain, its capacities were very small. A case had been mentioned where a large quantity of bonded oats was offered for sale in Hull at a very low price. But a case of that kind was very susceptible of explanation. It showed that the vendor could not obtain a good market for his grain, and was content to take a very small price rather than lose the benefit of his importation altogether. He had already stated what no one would dispute, that when there was a large demand the price rose. Now, let them look to the official information before the House. He (Mr. Gladstone), without binding himself to all the details, was very much disposed to rely on the main features of the returns made by the consuls, and on the more recent report of Mr. Meek. The House should recollect that the returns from the consuls had now been before the country for nearly six months, and no respectable parties connected with the trade or commerce of the country had found reason to question their general accuracy. [An hon. Member: the case of Tamboff.) Tamboff is not included properly in the official reports of the consuls. The case of Tamboff was mentioned by a consul, who, not satisfied with confining himself to the range prescribed to him, went out of his own proper province, and included a statement respecting Tamboff in his official report, and the result had been the same as it was in most instances where persons were not satisfied to confine themselves to the discharge of their own particular business. With respect to those hon. Members at both sides of the House who were dissatisfied with the duties now under discussion, he relied on the general upshot of the consular returns to convince them that their apprehensions were unfounded. He saw no reason to believe that the returns with respect to barley and oats were entitled to 1213 less credit than the returns respecting wheat. He would ask the committee to look at the general effect of these returns, from which it appeared that the price at which large quantities of barley could be obtained from the principal ports of the continent was 18s. 2d, a quarter, and that the probable quantity to be obtained was 835,000 quarters; then, adding the freight, and other charges, at least 5s. more, would raise the cost price, when landed in this country, to 23s. 2d. When so landed, it would have to pay a duty of 9s. a quarter, so that it could not be sold in this market in large quantities at less than 32s. per quarter. He did not think that any Gentleman who considered the general scope of the Government plan with respect to protection, would say that this was not a reasonable amount of protection with respect to barley, the average price of which, in the home market, was at present 28s. the quarter. Well then, with respect to oats, he found that they could procure 793,000 quarters at an average price of 11s. 3d. the quarter. To this 5s. should be added for the expense of freights which would make the price something above 16s., and adding 6s. for duty, would give a total of 22s. the quarter. Now he did not think that any hon. Gentleman could reasonably ask a protection beyond this. If they looked to the more recent information furnished by Mr. Meek, they would find still more reason to be convinced. One of his hon. Friends had refered to the price of grain in Denmark, but it was fallacious to take the country prices instead of those in the markets of export. They had been told, that if an Irish grower of oats obtained 20s. a quarter in Mark-lane, that at least 6s., or one-third, was to be deducted for the cost of conveyance. But if that was the case, it should surely be recollected that it would still more apply to continental countries from which corn was to be procured. In those countries the roads were in general very bad, the conveyance difficult and inconvenient. On this account the price of grain in the interior of those countries was no test whatever. If they wanted to form an accurate estimate, they must take the prices at the ports where the corn was shipped, or the prices in bond in this country. Well, then, what was the information furnished by Mr. Meek, as to the prices of barley and oats on the continent. In reading these prices, he was not so much afraid of not convincing hon. Gentlemen opposite, that 1214 there was not sufficient protection, as he was afraid of creating an impression that there was more protection afforded to barley and oats by the proposed scale than was really in strictness necessary. Mr. Meek stated the price of barley to be as follows:—
§ Let them, then, for the sake of the argument take the lowest price quoted, namely, the price at Elsinore of 18s. the quarter; and if, to this they added 5s. a quarter for necessary expenses, the price would be 23s.; and to this they must add 9s. duty before it could come into consumption, so that the lowest price at which, according to Mr. Meek, foreign barley could come into our market for consumption would be at 32s. the quarter. The return with respect to the price of oats was this:—
§ He would again take the lowest price, that at Bremen and Elsinore, namely, 13s. 6d. to which he could not add less than 4s. a quarter for charges, which would raise the price to 17s. 6d., and the duty of 6s. a quarter would make the lowest price of continental oats, according to present rates abroad, when brought into consumption in our markets 23s. 6d. per quarter. In a matter of this kind, there was often a difficulty with respect to the precise conclusions to which they should come. All they could do, was to choose the best evidence they could command on the subject, and that was the official evidence which had been submitted to the Government and the House. From that evidence, remaining as it did substantially unquestioned, the conclusion was irresistible, that the protection afforded to oats and barley by the scale of her Majesty Government was adequate and ample, and bore a due and just relation to the duties applied with respect to wheat. With respect to the present price of oats, he believed, that the present average price was something above 19s. per quarter. He did not deny, that these low prices were a great grievance to the growers of grain—but it should be recollected that these low prices were by no means the effect of the plan proposed by her Majesty's Government, 1215 but entirely owing to the quantity and quality of homegrown corn thrown into our markets. The low price of oats, in particular, was owing to the glutted state of the markets, and was not at all caused by the measure now under discussion. He further believed that the alarm about the future price of oats under the new law was entirely owing to the low price which it bore in the market, whilst no alarm was raised about wheat, because wheat happened to bear a better price in the market. Whenever the price of corn was low in the country, the agricultural interest became naturally alarmed, and that was the cause of the present alarm respecting barley and oats. In like manner, and from a similar cause, in 1821, they thought that the protection they then had was not sufficient. They petitioned Parliament for more protection, and their petition was referred to the committee which sat in the year 1821. The answer of the committee was rational and decisive, "that the allegations of distress on the part of the petitioners were perfectly undeniable, but that protection could not be carried further than monopoly. The law, it would be remembered, was then one of prohibition up to a high point of price." The present prices he thought were very low—oats were now 19s. 8d., which was twenty per cent. lower than the average price of the last fourteen years, namely, 23s. 9d. the quarter. He admitted, that this lowness of price must naturally be felt as a hardship by those engaged in the cultivation of that description of grain; but he thought lie had fully shown that the measure proposed by her Majesty's Government could not justly operate in causing or in aggravating that reduction of price. He had now, he trusted, sufficiently fulfilled the object with which he had risen to address the committee, namely, to show that the alleged disproportions in the scale of duties did not exist, and to prove, as he trusted he had fully proved, that the measure proposed by her Majesty's Government, had made a just and fair distribution of protections in the scale of duties with respect to the several description of grain—wheat, barley, and oats.
Mr. M. J. O'Connell
wished for an explanation why the relative proportion of duty had not been reserved at the maximum and minimum points. Taking the top and bottom of the scale, had the proportions been preserved, the maximum price of oats would have been, not 27s. 1216 but 29s., and the minimum, not 18s. but 20s. The right hon. Baronet had said that the trade in oats was the most satisfactorily conducted branch of the corn trade, and that there was not the same over holding of oats, in expectation of the low duty, that was practised in the corn trade. The right hon. Baronet had stated that out of 3,513,000 quarters of foreign oats taken out of bond for home consumption, 248,000 quarters had been entered at the duty of 1s. 9d., 695,000 at a duty of 3s. 3d., 243,000 at a duty of 4s. 9d., and 940,000 quarters, the largest quantity, at the duty of 6s. 3d., and yet in a branch of trade, which, according to the right hon. Baronet, was so much better conducted than the other branches, he proposed to make a greater change than in those which were worse conducted. There were also 542,000 quarters entered at 7s. 9d., 198,000 at 9s. 3d., and 485,000 at 10s. 9d. This looked like a fair proportion, and yet it was in this branch of the trade that a greater change was proposed than in wheat. The hon. Member for Greenock had said that political partiality was suspected by many to be the cause of the difference being made with respect to an article which was principally grown in Ireland. He did not concur with those who entertained such suspicions; but he had received many communications in which they were expressed. But it was unfortunate that the matter which appeared so irrational was not clearly explained. The right hon. Gentleman (the Vice-President of the Board of Trade), thought that the same proportionate protection would be given to oats and other inferior grain as to barley. But it was a fact that, within the last ten days, since the scale of Government became known, oats had fallen in the Irish markets, while wheat was but little effected. He wished that this might be explained. If hon. Gentlemen thought that a protection should be maintained at all, he was of a contrary opinion; he wished to know why the same protection was not extended to all, and not merely to a part? And why a greater amount of protection should be withdrawn from his constituents than from the other interests affected? With the opinions he entertained, he should not be consistent if he voted for increasing the duty on any kind of corn, having a short time previously voted that the duty should be taken off from all, 1217 One of the reasons why there was an outcry against free-trade among the irrational classes of society was the system of carrying measures with unequal relaxations of duty. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet would either show that he had maintained a due equality in the present instance, or else show some reason for having departed from the principle of equality in the interval that had elapsed from his opening speech to the present moment.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, the hon. Gentleman was not present during the speech of my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, the greater part of which was occupied in showing that it was quite impossible to maintain exact arithmetical proportion between the duties on oats and wheat, on account of the pre-portions of the averages and the duties that apply to them. But my right hon. Friend did prove that the proportions, though not arithmetically correct, were substantially so, and that, really and practically, the same amount of protection was given to oats that was given to wheat. When the hon. Gentleman calls for explanation he ought himself to explain. Is it for him, who voted the other night that all duties now payable on the importation of foreign grain of every kind, whether grain, meal, or flour, should be entirely abandoned—is it for him to say now that the existing law, or any part of it, whether in reference to oats or any other kind of grain, works well? Is it he who quotes that part of my speech in which I alluded to oats? who speaks of its being imported at duties of 10s. 9d. and 6s. 8d.? who says that under the existing law a fair and proper system of importation takes place, the article not being, as in the case of wheat, kept waiting for the one shilling duty? Is it for this gentleman to ask me, why I venture to touch so satisfactory a state of things, by which foreign oats were admitted upon a right principle, while the Irish article was protected. Now, Sir, can the hon. Gentleman reconcile those observations with his support of a proposal by which all protection would be done away with?—by which oats would be admitted from Holland, Denmark, Holstein, and every port and place on the continent or elsewhere, to interfere with this, which he looks on as almost the only export of Ireland, which forms a main element of her prosperity. How the hon. Gentleman 1218 can look with such minuteness into some difference, which he thinks he discovers in the proportions between the duties proposed on wheat and oats, and declare that Ireland will be ruined because she has not got some sixpence more, which she has a right to claim—how he, who considers oats one of the great elements of her prosperity, should then take the great leap of depriving this produce of all protection whatever—this, Sir, I confess myself unable to comprehend. How he can reconcile it to the understandings of his unreasoning constituents I do not know. The unreasoning and irrational part of the community, who, though they cannot understand his figures, or enter into his arithmetical calculations as to the difference in the duties on oats and wheat, may yet, he thinks, understand his vote that Irish oats shall not be protected at all. I shall not attempt to reason with the hon. Gentleman. The House has been occupied with the subject throughout the evening; but he cannot have heard the speech of my right hon. Friend. When the hon. Gentleman calls for an explanation, I doubt much whether Kerry, if it be an oat-growing constituency, will not ask why last year he voted for a duty of 3s. 4d. upon oats? [Mr. M. J. O'Connell was understood to dissent.] Now, I ask those who have been so lavish in abusing me, and in decrying my proposition on the Corn-laws as an insult to the people of England, how the hon. Gentleman can reconcile his vote with the position he has taken up to-night? We, who ventured to touch these monopolies, have difficult tasks to perform. [Ironical cheers.] Yes, but you were all loud in cheering the sentiment that my proposition was an insult to the people of England, but the moment the interests of your own constituencies are touched, then all the outcry is raised on the other side. You then demand explanations for those enactments which touch the protection of Irish oats. Why, one of these Gentlemen, who is loudest in speaking of free-trade, said, on this very subject, all that the people of England have to pay to Ireland, for oats is only 300,000l. a year, and are you going to refuse that miserable pittance? Sir, the longer these debates continue, the more the people see that amidst all the difficulties and embarrassments by which the question is encompassed, the course I have taken is just and moderate, and in- 1219 tended to reconcile, as far as possible, those conflicting interests which are affected by the subject under consideration. I have endeavoured to give facility and regularity to commercial intercourse, without doing that which, in my opinion, would have the effect of increasing commercial embarrassments by too great a disturbance of the agricultural interests, which would react upon the other interests of the country. I have attempted to do that; and the opposition I meet with now, on the ground that I am depriving domestic produce of legitimate protection, will, I trust, make some of those who have been violent opponents of this measure on the ground that it was an insult to the people, come to the conclusion that, upon the whole, the measure is founded upon just and fair principles. And I firmly believe that practical experience will confirm the impression already existing, and daily gaining ground amongst great portions of the community, that, upon the whole, it is as good a settlement as, under existing circumstances, could be made.
Mr. O. Gore,
while he agreed with every word that had fallen from the right hon. Baronet on the inconsistency of hon. Gentlemen opposing any duty, and then demanding a higher one, wished to say a few words upon the present subject. He was the representative, not of an Irish but of an English constituency. But, at the time of the passing of the Act of Union, when discussions were taking place upon the subject of duties, one of the greatest statesmen that England ever produced—he meant Mr. Pitt—made these observations upon Irish manufactures:—They have no manufactures but one, namely, agriculture. And Irish agriculture must be protected. Ireland must fall, and be a clog upon this country, unless her agriculture is supported.He begged to remind the House, that the transit cost of Irish oats coming to England was 1s. 6d. or 1s. 9d. a quarter, that it was the main grain produce of that country, that there was a much greater amount of uncultivated land in Ireland than in this country, and that when waste land was reclaimed, oats, and not wheat, were usually grown on it at first. He (Mr. 0. Gore), therefore, entreated his right hon. Friend to consider well before he finally made his mind up on the subject. He believed that it was intended 1220 that the relative proportions between the duties should be fairly kept in this measure. But for the sake of Wales and other parts of the kingdom, as well as Ireland, he hoped full consideration would be given. He denied that he had held a different opinion at the other side of the House from that which he now supported. He had said that he considered the present scale of duties most effectual, but that if a measure was proposed which he considered an improvement, he should support it, reserving the principle of the sliding scale.
§ Dr. Bowring
merely intimated his determination to vote against this part of the right hon. Baronet's proposition, because it implied that the food of the people might conveniently or properly be taxed.
§ Mr. F. T. Baring
meant only to trouble the committee with a few words, to explain the reasons upon which he should feel it his duty to give a vote in favour of the right hon. Baronet's proposition. But, before he did so, he must take the liberty of saying that he thought the right hon. Baronet's triumphant tone as applied to his hon. Friend the Member for Kerry, was not quite fair or consistent with reason. He apprehended that it was quite consistent for parties to advocate the principle of a total repeal of the Corn-laws; but that when the House had decided that the principle was one which it would not adopt, and determine in its stead to adopt the principle of a sliding scale, then in committee, it was quite consistent for those who had previously voted for the total repeal to canvass the details of the pro posed protection, and to argue that one part of it was not fair or just as compared with other parts of it. That he apprehended was the wish of his hon. Friend. He need not say that he did not agree with him. As he had already stated, it was his intention upon this part of the proposition to vote with the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel). Upon a former occasion he took the opportunity of entering his protest against the scale as proposed to be applied to wheat. But that part of the scale having been decided upon, he apprehended that the question now, as related to barley and oats, was one of proportion. Having fixed the duty on wheat, the question now was, whether the House would allow the same relative proportion of protection to be applied to barley and oats as had always hitherto existed, 1221 or whether it would abandon that relative proportion of protection and adopt some different principle, giving an additional protection to barley and oats beyond any that had ever yet been afforded? He could not pretend to speak in the same detail upon this subject that other Gentlemen had done; but having listened attentively to the debate he could not help feeling that it was much the wiser course to keep to the old relative scale, and the old proportion of protection, and not to abandon it for the purpose of introducing a new principle, and giving additional protection to one particular article of agricultural produce.
§ The committee divided on the question, that whenever the price of oats shall be for every quarter 19s. and under 20s., the duty shall be 7s.—Ayes 256; Noes 53: Majority 203.
|List of the Ayes.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Busfeild, W.|
|Aldam, W.||Campbell, A.|
|Alford, Viscount||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Allix, J. P.||Chelsea, Viscount|
|Antrobus, E.||Chetwode, Sir J.|
|Arkwright, G.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Astell, W.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Bagge, W.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Bailey, J.||Clive, hon, R. H.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Codrington, C. W.|
|Baillie, Col.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Cole, hon. A. H.|
|Baird, W.||Collett, W. R.|
|Barclay, D.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Baring, hon. W, B.||Compton, H. C.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T,||Connolly, Col.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Copeland, Mr. Aid.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Corry, right hon. H.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Couitenay, Viscount|
|Beckett, W.||Crosse, T. B.|
|Bell, M.||Dalrymple, Capt.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Darby, G.|
|Bernard, Viscount||Denison, E. B.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Douglas, Sir H.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Douglas, Sir C. E:|
|Borthwick, P.||Douro, Marquis of|
|Botfield, B.||Drummond, H. H.|
|Bradshaw, J,||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Broadley, H.||East, J. B.|
|Broadwood, H.||Eaton, R. J.|
|Bracklehurst, J.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Brotherton, J.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Eliot, Lord|
|Bruen, Col.||Emlyn, Viscount|
|Buller, E.||Estcourt, T. G. B.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Evans, W.|
|Bunbury, T.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Fellowes, E.||Leicester, Earl of|
|Feilden, W.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Lindsay, H. H.|
|Fleming, J. W.||Litton, E.|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Lockhart, W.|
|Forbes, W.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Forster, M.||Lyall, G.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Lygon, hon. General|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||MacGeachy, F. A.|
|Gordon, Lord F.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Gore, M.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Goring, C.||March, Earl of|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Marsham, Viscount|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Martin, C. W.|
|Grant, Sir A. C.||Marton, G.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Master, T. W. C.|
|Hale, R. B.||Masterman, J.|
|Halford, H.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Miles, W.|
|Hardinge, right hon. Sir H.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Mitchell, T. A.|
|Hardy, J.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Harford, S.||Morgan, O.|
|Hawes, B.||Morris, D.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Morison, General|
|Hayter, W. G.||Neville, R.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Newry, Viscount|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Hill, Sir R.||Northland, Viscount|
|Hinde, J. H.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Hindley, C.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Hodgson, F.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hodgson, R.||Paget, Lord W.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Houldsworth, T.||Palmer, R.|
|Holmes, hon. W. A'Ct.||Palmer, G.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hope, A.||Peel, J.|
|Hope, G. W.||Philips, M.|
|Hornby, J.||Pinney, W.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Humphery, Mr. Aid.||Polhiil, F.|
|Hutt, W.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Inglis, Sir R. II.||Powell, Col.|
|Irton, S.||Praed, W. T.|
|Jackson, J. D.||Pringle, A.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Pusey, P.|
|Johnson, W. G.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Reade, W. M.|
|Johnstone, II.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G.||Round, C. G.|
|Jones, Capt.||Round, J.|
|Kemble, H.||Rous, hon. Captain|
|Knatehbull, right hon.||Rumbold, C. E. Sir E.|
|Knight, H. G.||Russell, C.|
|Knight, F. W.||Russell, J. D. W;|
|Knightley, Sir C.||Sanderson, R.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Lambton, H.||Scarlett, hon. R. C.|
|Law, hon. C. E.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Lawson, A.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Sheppard, T.||Thornhill, G.|
|Shirley, E. J.||Towneley, J.|
|Shirley, E. P.||Turner, E.|
|Smith, A.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Smollett,A.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||Villiers, Viscount|
|Somerton, Viscount||Vivian, J. E.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Wall, C. B.|
|Stanley, Lord||Wilson, M.|
|Stanley, E.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Stanley, hon. W. O.||Wood, G. W.|
|Stewart, J.||Wortley, hon. J.|
|Stuart. Lord J.||Wyndham, Col.|
|Stuart, W. V.||Wyndham, W.|
|Stuart, H.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Stock, Mr. Serjeant||Yorke, H. R.|
|Sturt, H. C.||Young, J.|
|Sutton, hon. H. M.||Young, Sir W.|
|Taylor, J. A.||tellers.|
|Tennent, J. E.||Fremantle.Sir T.|
|Thompson, Mr. Aid.||Baring H.|
|List of the Noes.|
|Acheson, Viscount||Hastie, A.|
|Acton, Col.||Hatton, Captain V.|
|Archdall, M.||Heneage, E.|
|Beresford, Captain||Henley, J. W.|
|Berkeley, hon. H.||Johnston, A.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Blake, Sir V.||Martin, J.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Norreys, Lord|
|Bowring, Dr.||O'Conor, Don|
|Browne, hon. W.||Powell, C.|
|Brownrigg, J. S.||Power, J.|
|Burroughes, H. N,||Richards, R.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Roche, Sir D.|
|Chapman, B.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Christmas, W.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Christopher, R. A.||Somers, J. P.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Tumor, C.|
|Duncan, G.||Verner, Colonel|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Williams, W.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|French, F.||Worsley, Lord|
|Gore, W. R. O.||TELLERS.|
|Gregory, W. H.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Grogan, E.||Redington, T. N.|
§ The scale for oats (for which, see ante, p. 237) was agreed to.
§ The following scale for rye, peas, and beans was also agreed to:—
§ When the average shall be for every quarter,
|Under||30||the duty shall be||11||6|
§ On the question, that for every barrel of wheat meal and flour, being one hundred and ninety-six pounds, there shall be paid a duty equal in amount to the duty payable on thirty-eight and a half gallons of wheat.
§ Viscount Sandon
did not intend to press on the attention of the House more than a simple statement of facts. He was desirous that the interest of the miller should not be unduly affected by the present measure, and that without advantage to any party but the foreign miller, and to the great detriment of many important classes. He was aware that the word "protection" was at a discount with some Members of the House, but he still thought it not too much for the most abstract free trader to admit that it was just that no British manufacturer should be exposed to uncompensated disadvantage in competition with the foreigner. The distinction between the duties on wheat and flour was made in 1828, when it was not expected that a regular trade in corn would be established, and the object was only to open the ports for the admission of foreign corn at times of exigency. The nice calculations in the relative duties on wheat and flour were not then entered upon, as it was not considered that any interest would be materially affected by the quantity of flour introduced under such circumstances. The perishable nature of the article was in itself a protection, under the uncertainty of admission to consumption at moderate duties. But it would be very different under the proposed bill, for there would be always some trade in foreign corn, the duty would never long be an exclusion, and it was necessary to provide for the new state of things in such a manner as that the miller should not be put to disadvantage. Without attempting to define the exact proportions between wheat and flour, which would vary according to the quality of the wheat, and the inducement which the market offers at different times to extract from the raw material more or less of the different products, it would be sufficient to look merely at the returns before the House, to establish 1225 the existence of a considerable advantage to the foreigner in bringing his bread stuff to this country in the shape of flour, rather than in that of grain. From the remoter parts of America, for instance, from Chilicote, the American merchant sending flour to this country by way of Montreal would have an advantage amounting to about 5s.1¾d. upon every 100 bushels of corn sent in the shape of flour over what it would bring if sent in the raw state; and from Warsaw the difference would be equal to 5s. 8d. in favour of the importer of flour. How, then, was it possible that the English manufacturer could compete with the foreign manufacturer, the English with the foreign miller, under such circumstances? There would be also this disadvantage attending the importation of flour rather than grain, that the price of the food used by the poor, made, as it is, very extensively from the seconds, or what is technically called the offal, would be very considerably enhanced in proportion to the price paid for the finer bread by the rich. This is not speculation, but founded on experience. In the year 1831 a state of things existed similar to that which existed during the last four years, and, consequently, foreign corn in every shape was admitted largely to this country. A great portion of it came in flour; arid, in consequence, while the English mills were idle, and all those persons subsisting by them unemployed, the price of coarse bread bore a higher relative proportion to that of fine bread than it had ever borne before. The difference in the prices of coarse and fine bread was, in consequence of the importation of flour rather than grain, in May,1831, as 30 to 5; that was to say, while the latter was, on an average of the previous three years, only 5 per cent, dearer; the former on the same average for the same period was full 30 per cent higher. In the presence of so many representatives from the sister country, it was hardly his business to allude to the interests of Ireland as deeply involved in the question; flour being almost the only manufacture of Ireland, and the milling interest almost the only branch of her manufacturing industry. Yet Ireland and her sole manufacture was about to be deprived of that protection under which it had thriven, and left to compete—he would not say without advantage, but to a disadvantage — with the foreign manufacturer. Care should be taken of this. He 1226 was, therefore, desirous of impressing on the Government the necessity of looking deeply into the question, before it was finally decided, to see whether there was not an inevitable advantage, from smallness of bulk and consequently lower freight and charges, in importing the raw article, rather than the manufactured; and to give to the miller, and the branch of manufacturing industry which he pursued, such protection, in the shape of a fixed duty on the importation of the barrel of flour over and above the fluctuating duty, as the result of such examination should show to be due to him in compensation for the disadvantage under which he must inevitably labour in competing with the American or the German miller.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I am well aware how powerful and important is the interest that my noble Friend advocates, and how very many persons there are connected with it, ready to urge on the House every protection for that interest. However, Sir, having given the subject the fullest consideration of which I am capable, I cannot reconcile it with my sense of the duty I owe the House and the country, to give to flour a greater protection than that which I have proposed for it in these resolutions. This subject, I remember, was very fully considered by me in 1827. On that occasion, I proposed that 196lbs. of flour should be considered equivalent to five bushels, or forty gallons of wheat. I recollect too, that, on further consideration, finding that this amount of protection was objected to as too high, my Colleagues and I reduced it from forty to thirty-eight and a half gallons. That is what it stands at now; and what it has stood at for several years. And, Sir, if you look at the proportion which wheat bears to flour, I do not think that it will be reckoned an undue protection. With respect to barley and oats, it has been urged that due protection has not been afforded them, but the House has decided the contrary. Now, it is urged that the protection on flour is not sufficient, though I propose that 196lbs. of flour be reckoned equivalent to thirty-eight and a half gallons of wheat, and made to pay duty accordingly. Suppose that we increased the proportion, and, as my noble Friend would seem to suggest, shut out altogether foreign flour. Let us ask ourselves what countries would be most affected by 1227 it, and most suffer in consequence? Those in whose fate we feel the most interest, namely, Canada and the United States of America. Putting our own colonies out of the question, however, and referring only to America, I say that, in the first place, the state of our commercial relations with the United States is of such a nature, that if I were to ask the House, in the event of a preference being shown to one foreign nation over another, which nation should have the preference of our market, I believe that no man present would hesitate a single moment in giving it to the United States. If you look, Sir, to the exports from this kingdom to Russia, and compare them with our exports to the United States, no one can fail to see the difference in favour of the United States, and therefore no one can fail to give them the preference, if preference there be any. And, Sir, it is my firm conviction, that if you do depart from the principle laid down in these resolutions, while the establishment of a higher duty will not serve the country, it will tell greatly against the United States, and cause much unpleasant feeling between both nations. I am glad, now, when free-trade and monopoly are the cries, to be able to state that I am holding in these observations the same line of argument that I held in 1827, when the same subject was before the Hoe. I am reported to have said then,—I did not believe that the quantity of flour imported into this country by America could ever in any way injure us; but he felt that if the House did prevent the importation of almost the only article we obtained from that country—if it did appear to say that it availed itself of the first opportunity of excluding the only article they were enabled to send us, America would conceive the measure to arise from some lurking animosity, and this country would lay itself open to the danger of retaliation, which would infinitely outweigh any evil that might be dreaded by our millers."'
§ That, Sir, was the language I held in 1827, and I am glad to be able to repeat it now for the House. Sir, if I held the claim of the millers to the protection they require to be just, I would at once concede it to them; but it is not, and therefore I refuse it. As the case stands, the millers have a practical monopoly of grinding all the grain grown in this country—they are exposed to no competition. The an- 1228 nual produce of the United Kingdom is about 24,000,000 of quarters of wheat, exclusive of oats and barley, part of which must be ground also. But as this may be esteemed somewhat over the mark, suppose we take the yearly produce at 22,000,000 of quarters. Now, the British millers have the whole of this quantity to grind, and in this it is impossible for the foreign miller to compete with them. Surely that circumstance in itself is equivalent to protection. My noble Friend says that the bill before the committee will have the effect of giving a more continuous supply; and the miller argues that the more improved commercial intercourse which will be established will make the supply of foreign flour at once greater and more regular. But though this may be the case, I beg my noble Friend and the committee to observe that flour labours under a disadvantage that wheat does not labour under—flour being much less fit for bonding than wheat—which removes one strong ground in favour of this argument on the subject of competition. And though it may be true that thirty-eight and a half gallons of wheat will not produce 196 lbs. of flour, if you take the offal and the coarser sort of meal produced into consideration, you will come, as I have done, to the conclusion that the protection now offered is amply sufficient for all useful purposes. Coupling this, with the monopoly in grinding the grain grown here which the miller now enjoys, you will think with me that I cannot conscientiously say that any further protection should be added. But there is another point in connection with the subject which deserves consideration also. There is such a large disproportion between the relative prices of wheat and bread in seasons of scarcity, that I cannot help looking at it with surprise, nor can I help thinking, on taking this fact into consideration, that when the price of bread is so unintelligibly high, in relation to the price of wheat, that an importation of foreign flour, now and then, will have the effect of reducing that price to its proper level, and in so far of greatly benefitting the community. Sir, the House must decide this question on the general principle, and without reference to individual claims or particular interests. And, if on considering all its bearings, we conclude that we should make an exception in favour of any one article in this schedule 1229 over another, it will be for the House to say whether that exception shall be made in favour of flour. I do not think it just, or wise, or politic, to make such exception, and I cannot think that the protection claimed in its favour is warranted or needed.
§ Mr. Labouchere
was glad to hear the right hon. Baronet speak as he did, and he bore testimony to the truth of the right hon. Baronet's statements as regarded the proportions in which bread stuff came to this country. In 1828 the qnantity of foreign grain imported into England was 1,350,000 quarters, while of foreign flour there were only imported 4,300,000lbs., or about one-twelfth of the quantity of wheat. He agreed entirely in the last observation of the right hon. Gentleman, for he considered it of the utmost importance for the interests of the consumers, that the power which the miller now had of advancing the price of bread should not be without some check—and he thought that would be best effected by allowing a larger quantity of food to come into this country in the shape of flour. He wished that he could entertain the sanguine hopes of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool that the measure of the right hon. Baronet would establish a regular trade in corn; he admitted that by the measure the trade would be somewhat improved; but he was afraid that they could not look for that material alteration which would lead to the results anticipated by the noble Lord. He was glad, however, that the Government had resolved to adhere to their proposal so far as it related to the importation of flour.
Resolution agreed to, as were also the following resolutions—
For every quantity of 181 pounds and a half; a duty equal in amount to the duty payable on a quarter of oats.
Maize or Indian corn, buckwheat, bear or bigg—for every quarter; a duty equal in amount to the duty payable on a quarter of barley.
On the question that wheat the produce of and imported from any British possession in North America or elsewhere out of Europe, whenever the average price shall be under 55s., the duty shall be for every quarter 5s.
§ Mr. Smith O'Brien
begged the indulgence of the House whilst he brought forward the motion of which he had given notice. The ground upon which he rested 1230 his motion was, that British labour should be fostered and encouraged as much in one part of the empire as another, and that if any preference were shown, it ought to be shown to the colonist. The colonists had largely supplied this country with the means of defence against her enemies, and they were also the greatest consumers of her manufactures. The time too, must come, when the increase of population in this country would render us mainly dependent on a supply of corn from abroad, and to whom could we then look so advantageously as to our own colonists? What could be more natural than for us to do everything in our power to induce our colonists to cultivate agriculture rather than manufactures? The motion which he was about to propose would have that effect, and at the same time contained nothing in it calculated to excite the alarm of the agriculturists of this country; for the whole quantity of grain which, under the most favourable circumstances, had been imported from our colonial possessions was 260,000 quarters, a quantity quite inconsiderable in comparison with the total consumption of this country. Now, the right hon. Baronet had not as yet explained to the House upon what grounds he had adopted the plan which was now proposed with regard to grain the produce of our colonial possessions; and so far as he had been able to learn that plan would be more prejudicial to the interests of the colonists than the existing law. It was said, that if the regular trade in corn, which he wished the House to adopt in place of the proposal of the right hon. Baronet, were to be established, it would lead to the importation of great quantities of American corn through our Canadian colonies. He did not think that there was any ground for that apprehension; but if it were so, and the House were prepared to adopt his principle, it would be easy for the executive Government to make some arrangement which would prevent that mischief. This question created great interest in the colonies; and as no other Member had taken up the subject he had felt it his duty to do so. He hoped that this would not be treated by any one as a party question; but if it were, he could only say that he had been actuated by no such motives in bringing it forward. The hon. Member concluded by moving that—For every quarter of wheat the produce of 1231 British possessions, in North America or elsewhere out of Europe the duty shall be 1s.
§ Lord Stanley
could assure the hon. Member that her Majesty's Government were as fully convinced as he, or any other hon. Member could be, of the necessity of improving, by every means in their power, the commercial intercourse between the British colonies and the mother country. The hon. Gentleman could not estimate more highly than he did the value of that trade; no man could be more desirous than he was to remove every obstruction and impediment which could interfere with the free commercial intercourse between this country and the colonies. But he confessed that lie could not understand upon what reasoning the hon. Member grounded that opinion, which he said was entertained by many parties, that our North American colonies would, under the proposed measure, be in a worse position than at present. Now, at present a duty of 5s.—not a heavy duty, if it were always enforced—attached, until the price of wheat here was 67s. By the measure which the Government proposed, the duty of 5s. attached only until the price here was 55s. It was quite true, that, under the system at present in force, the duty of 5s., when the price rose above 67s., fell down at once to a nominal duty of 6d.; and it was equally true, that her Majesty's Government, objecting to that sudden rise and fall, had introduced the same principle of a gradually sliding scale as to colonial wheat, which they had introduced with respect to foreign produce. They had introduced their scale to apply at the 55s. whereas the former applied at 67s. He was not, however, content to rest upon that; because he knew that there had arisen in the colonies an anxious desire that the produce of the colonies should be admitted into the English markets free of duty; and if, in point of fact, the question was as to the protection of the produce of Canada, or any other British possession, the hon. Member would have had a much stronger case than he had at present. Under such circumstances, he, for one, and he believed he might say the whole agricultural interest, would feel no jealousy at the free importation of wheat and flour from Canada; but the real fact was, as was well known, that the importation from Canada was not the importation of Canadian produce, it was United States wheat passing through Canada—and then, by 1232 being ground, acquiring the character of Canadian flour. The hon. Member had argued that every facility ought to be given for the extension and promotion of agriculture amongst those persons who went out from this country and settled in our colonial possessions; but if the hon. Member were to consult the agriculturists of Canada, they would tell him that that proposal of his was precisely what they deprecated, the free admission into this country of what passed under the name of Canadian wheat, but, in reality, United States wheat ground in Canada. What, however, was the relation subsisting between Canada and the United States? The United States had imposed on Canadian corn and flour imported into the United States a duty of from 1s. to 1s. 3d. per bushel, or from 8s. to 10s. per quarter, whilst the importation into Canada of wheat from the United States was perfectly free; and if the Canadians desired to have it free, it was not the wish of her Majesty's Government to impose any restrictions upon that exchange which was now established by their receiving American produce free of all duty. His right hon. Friend had distinctly told the House that he would not press for a duty on American corn imported into Canada. If they thought fit to remove the ditty levied upon the importation of Canadian corn into this country, it was not just to call upon them, under the plausible argument of giving encouragement to Canadian agriculture to relieve from the burdens of duty all the corn and flour which passed from America through Canada, taking, at the same time, no means to prevent themselves from being inundated with American corn. This was the ground on which he, for one, could not concur with the motion of the hon. Gentleman. If there were any alteration of the law which regulated the importation of wheat into Canada—if they passed such a restriction on wheat going into Canada as would free this country from competition with American corn under the name of Canadian corn—then the Canadians would be entitled to a greater relief, but if they did not choose to do this, or if they did not wish to see free the trade both of American and Canadian grain, then he could not see any reason why they should do indirectly what they refused to do directly. The hon. Gentleman's motion was not a proposal for importing Canadian wheat, or for en- 1233 couraging its importation and its growth, but it was a proposal for importing and for encouraging the growth and the importation of that American wheat, upon which, thinking it entitled to no protection —they thought it wise to impose a duty.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that he was not well acquainted with the particulars of the colonial trade between the Canadas and the United States, but he believed that his noble Friend must be mistaken if he thought that the whole, or that even a great portion of the flour which was imported into this country from Canada was of American growth. If he had been rightly informed, and if he had rightly understood the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone), the flour admitted into this country as Canadian, must not only be ground in Canada, but a certificate of origin was necessary previous to its admission. It must be grown as well as ground in Canada. Of course, no system could be framed so exactly, or could be applied so strictly, but that some abuse would creep in, but he could not believe that the abuse in the present case, to which his noble Friend had alluded, had gone to the great length which he seemed to suppose. His noble Friend wished them to think that all the corn entered as Canadian into the English market was American, but he was much misunderstood if the abuse had not been exaggerated. He believed that this had taken place—that if, from the state of the English market, it was for the advantage of the Canadian growers to send Canadian flour into this country, they could get a supply for themselves, of the means of getting which, he hoped the House would not deprive them, from the United States. Under those circumstances, they consumed the American supply, and sent their own corn to England, to supply the deficiency of the English market. That practice, he believed, prevailed in the Channel Islands. The people of Guernsey and Jersey, with that sagacity for which they were distinguished, did not consume their own corn, but for their own consumption obtained grain from France, and sent the produce of their own islands to England. But that was very different from what his noble Friend had said. The practice, as he had described it, rendered the Canadian trade a mere transit trade, and certainly it was something more than this. He confessed that he spoke on this subject 1234 with diffidence, but he believed, as he had already said, that a certificate of origin was required previous to the admission of Canadian corn or flour into this country. That brought him to another bill which was about to be introduced by her Majesty's Government—which, though it related to another subject, was yet so closely connected with the present, that he would briefly call the attention of the House to it. The proposal which Government made was not for preventing American grain from passing the border, but for preventing American flour from doing so. They said that all the same advantage would result to Canada, whether the grain imported from the United States be in its natural or in its artificial and manufactured form. But he believed that the great portion of American corn would always go in the shape of flour rather than of wheat, and that naturally it must. The long range of flour factories lying near the border would necessarily produce such a result. But the first question which he wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, was, for what purpose were they desirous of discouraging the importation of American flour? Was it for an English or for Canadian purposes? If it were for a Canadian purpose, then it ought to be left to the Canadian legislature. The Canadian people were the best judges of the benefit which they would gain from such a measure, and their own colonial representatives should decide as to its advantages or disadvantages. He would not assert that it would not be right for the Government to confirm their act, if they agreed to this measure. Upon that point he would express no opinion, but he contended that the Legislature of England had no right to meddle with a plan, the effects of which were supposed, exclusively, to be confined to one of her colonies. So he dismissed from his mind altogether the Canadian part of the subject. He could not suppose that the Government would have interfered in the first instance, if the benefit to be derived were confined to Canada. He supposed, therefore, that the measure was proposed for some English object. There would be another opportunity of debating upon this question at length, and he would not, therefore, detain the House at the present moment. But he thought that they had a right to know what object was 1235 intended to be gained by the proposal of this measure? He should be very glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman would favour the committee with the reasons and grounds upon which the proposition he intended to make with regard to the importation of American flour into Canada was founded.
§ Mr. Gladstone
said, that it seemed to be the general impression of the committee that they should impose something beyond a merely nominal duty upon the importation of corn from Canada, if the principal part of that corn were to be obtained from America. The question therefore was, whether the principal part of the grain imported into this country under the name of Canadian was the growth of the United States or of Canada? If they looked to the figures relating to that importation during the last two years, they would see demonstrative indications that the grain, and the great bulk of the flour imported, came through the Canadas from wheat grown in the United States. From 1838 (he read from the fifty-eighth page of the papers recently laid before Parliament) to 1839, the importation of flour from Canada to England varied from between 30,000 and 40,000, to 70,000 and 80,000 cwt. Now, the amount imported, in 1840, was 380,000 cwt., and in 1841, the amount was no less than 682,000 cwt. of flour, besides 64,000 quarters of wheat. [Mr. Labouchere: Canada could produce that.] He did not say that at some future time Canada would not yield such an amount, but it must be perfectly clear that the bulk of that importation so suddenly augmented five and ten-fold—nine-tenths of it, or, at least, four-fifths of it—came from the United States. He was afraid that what he had said as to the state of the law had misled his right hon. Friend opposite. His right hon. Friend had just remarked that a certificate was required to show that the corn imported as Canadian was not merely manufactured, but also that it was grown in Canada—and that remark he had partly made upon his authority. Now, certainly that was the apparent bearing of one of the clauses of the Corn Act, as he read it, but practically, at any rate, that construction was not put upon it. According, as he believed, to an invariable practice of the revenue department, the flour ground in Canada, was at once held to be Canadian, and, accordingly, admitted without any further restraint or check. Of that, as matter of fact, there was no 1236 doubt. And it was also perfectly clear that the Canadian agriculture had not made the miraculous spring, which, if the exports he had read were of Canadian growth, it must have made. Those exports were fourteen or fifteen times larger in 1841 than they had been in 1839. His right hon. Friend said, that he believed there existed a practice of changing the consumption from one corn to another—that "during the time when the Canadian grower could export with profit his own corn, the Canadian people consumed corn imported from the United States." That practice, he did not mean to deny, might prevail to some extent, but he believed that it was limited. He could not think that such a bulky article could be carried through the land to every farmer in Canada, and be changed for his own crops, that these in their turn might be exported to Great Britain. Therefore, as to the point before them, it appeared quite clear that the imports from Canada consisted, to a considerable extent, of corn of American growth. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to a matter not connected with the immediate question before them, viz., the proposal of her Majesty's Government to impose a duty of 2s. a barrel on the importation of American flour into Canada; but, with the view which the right hon. Gentleman took of the present subject, it certainly was not entirely unconnected. So he would give an explicit and frank answer to the question he had put to him. He had asked him whether that measure was intended for a Canadian or for a British object? He could not say that it was for a Canadian object, neither could he say that it was for a British object. The effect on the British market must necessarily be trivial and remote; and it was not intended for the benefit of Canada. But the measure had been proposed with reference rather to the inter-colonial trade. It had been brought forward to do justice between the different colonies of this country. The state of the commercial law between the various colonies of this country had hitherto been most anomalous. The sugar colonies of the West Indies, and the colonies of North America, were all, with the exception of Canada, placed under a restriction with regard to the importation of American flour. It was hard, the Government felt, to place on the consumers of one colony 1237 a tax upon the importation of foreign flour, while they allowed exporting colonies at once to obtain the benefit of that tax in colonial markets for their own produce, and to substitute for what they thus exported, with a view to their own consumption, the same foreign article imported free. It was hard that the consumers of Newfoundland should be obliged to obtain grain from the United States, subject to a duty, whilst the consumers of Canada obtained it free from that duty. To prevent the continuance of this injustice they proposed to lay a duty upon American flour. It was not done with any special reference to its effect on the British markets, or upon the Canadian trade. It was not done as a retaliation for the duty which America has imposed upon our commodities, but it had been proposed from a sense of the importance of dealing, in these matters, with the colonies upon principles of equality and impartiality. They ought to abolish the whole tax, or impose it upon exporting as well as importing colonies, and the Government accordingly proposed that the state of the law should be that a 2s. duty be imposed in all the colonies of the West Indies and North America, and that the duty of 5s., at present imposed in nearly the whole of them, should be reduced to 2s. throughout.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that he had heard with such astonishment the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that he could not remain silent. He said that the measure had been proposed for an "inter-colonial purpose." It appeared to him that this duty was to be levied merely for the sake of a fancied symmetry. Let them take the case of Newfoundland. There was a duty of 5s. upon the consumers in Newfoundland for the protection of Canadian over American grain; but he could ask for an answer to this question—What colony of England, what branch of colonial agriculture, what branch of colonial manufactures, was to derive benefit from this tax upon the consumers of Canada? Canada took flour exclusively from America, and, accordingly, by putting a duty upon American flour—a duty by which it was not pretended that any English agriculture was protected — they seemed merely to be acting—he said it with no offensive meaning to the right hon. Gentleman—in a spirit of pure malevolence. He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that the measure had not been proposed 1238 for any English purpose—that it was too trivial, too slight a matter, to affect, in any way, the English market. It was not, the right hon. Gentleman had also allowed, for any Canadian purpose. If, however, Canada did require any protection of any sort, they ought to leave her to protect herself. But, forsooth, the purpose in view was an inter-colonial purpose. He could not, really, assign any reasonable motive for the production of such a measure. He hoped that the Government would reconsider it. He would not say that they were acting unconstitutionally, but a more unwise, a more impolitic, a more wanton tax had never, he would venture to say, been imposed by a British Parliament. He sincerely hoped that if the Government could not find any better reason for it than the hon. Gentleman had offered them, that they would at once abandon the measure.
§ Mr. Gladstone
said, that the astonishment of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to him so unnatural, that he must be allowed to say a word. He reciprocated that sentiment. That which the Government intended now to do with regard to the American flour, was the very thing which the right hon. Gentleman had done last year with respect to East India rum. He gave a privilege to East India rum in the British market. And then, what did he do? He laid a prohibitory duty upon the importation of rum into the East Indies. [Mr. Labouchere: That was for a British object.] It was precisely upon the same principle that Canada, claiming as an exporting country the privilege of an advantage in duty for the sale of her flour in other colonial markets, was to be made subject to a duty upon the importation of the same article: inasmuch as otherwise, by exporting her own and supplying its place by American flour, she would virtually levy a tax for her own benefit upon the consumers of the colonies to which she might so export. If, as the right hon. Gentleman said, his law with regard to the East Indies was for a British object, then he would say that, in that sense, this law with regard to Canada was also for a British or at any rite an imperial object. The principle was exactly the same in both cases. The only difference was that in the plan of his right hon. Friend its application had been far more stringent.
§ Mr. C. Buller
inquired what colony it was to which the right hon. Gentleman 1239 wished to do justice? What colony besides Canada grew corn for the purpose of importing it into other colonies? The object for the prohibition on the importation of rum into the East Indies was very intelligible. We admitted East Indian rum on the same terms as West Indian; we therefore prevented the importation into the East Indies of other rum, to supply the place of any sent here, on these favourable terms. The right hon. Gentleman said that the amount was too trivial to make it important for British interests. He seemed to have done it on the great principle of the parish beadle. There were two stocks on each side of the church door, and the beadle put a boy into each. The magistrate corning by said—" Why, you have put two boys into the stocks, when I only ordered one." "Yes," replied the beadle, "I did it for the sake of uniformity." It was that same love of uniformity which had animated the right hon. Gentleman. And what was the immense quantity of flour imported from Canada? There had been no more than 200,000 or 300,000 quarters. They must recollect that Canada had 1,300,000 inhabitants, and did they suppose that this, which was a large wheat growing country, could not grow more than 200,000 or 300,000 quarters. The effect of the sliding scale had been to cause a sudden demand, and when that sudden demand came last year, the Canadians did precisely what the channel is lands did, they sent their own corn to England and imported for themselves. The law as to the flour exported, being Canadian grown produce, is as stringent as it could be, and if it were evaded, it must be by the connivance of our own custom-house officers, who had a better mode of evading acts of parliament, than lawyers in framing them. If it were evaded, instead of clapping on this duty, they ought to alter the law and remove all doubt. The whole importation of wheat from Canada during the last ten years, had only been 519,000 quarters, or an average of 43,000 quarters a year. The prices at Montreal were from 52s. to 50s. a quarter, and they must add freight to England, never less than 13s. from Montreal. Surely a price of 65s. on 43,000 quarters was quite enough to protect the English land-owners? It really seemed to him that putting a duty on Canadian produce was quite nugatory, because it 1240 could scarcely come into our markets when subjected to no duty. We ought to do away with everything that tended to separate the colonies from being a part of the empire. In Canada, particularly, we ought to make the coast for the purposes of trade as much a part of the British empire as an English county. At that late hour, however, he hoped that his hon. Friend, the Member for Limerick, would not divide. It was a matter of too much importance to the colony, and he trusted that he would wait till the matter could be discussed in committee on the bill.
§ Mr. S. Wortley
thought, that steps should be taken to prevent that which was conceded to the Canadians being converted into a privilege of the United States, especially as the Americans had lately increased the duties on colonial produce imported into their territory.
§ The committee divided on Mr. O'Brien's motion. Ayes, 38; Noes, 135:—Majority, 97.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Johnstone, A.|
|Aldam, W.||Lambton, H.|
|Barclay, D.||Layard, Captain|
|Blake, Sir V.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Morison, General|
|Brotherton, J.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Buller, E.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Plumridge, Captain|
|Colborne, hn. W. N. R.||Rawdon, Colonel|
|Crawford, W. S.||Smith, rt. hn. R. V.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Duncan, G.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Thornely, T.|
|Forster, M.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Williams, W.|
|Gordon, Lord F.||Wilson, M.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Wood, B.|
|Hindley, C.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Hutt, W.||Buller, C.|
|List of the Noes.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Boldero, H. G.|
|Acton, Colonel||Borthwick, P.|
|Adare, Viscount||Botfield, B.|
|Antrobus, E.||Broadley, H.|
|Astell, W.||Broadwood, H.|
|Bagge, W.||Browne, hon. W.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Bruce, Lord E.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Beckett, W.||Campbell, Sir H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Campbell, A.|
|Beresford, Captain||Chelsea, Viscount|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Jones, Captain|
|Clayton, R. R.||Kemble, H.|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Collett, W. R.||Leicester, Earl of|
|Colvile, C. R.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Compton, H. G.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Lindsay, H. H.|
|Courtenay, Viscount||Litton, E.|
|Darby, G.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Lyall, G.|
|Denison, E. B.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||MacGeachy, F. A.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||March, Earl of|
|Eliot, Lord||Marsham, Viscount|
|Escott, B.||Martin, C. W.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Martyn, C. C.|
|Fellowes, E.||Masterman, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Morgan, O.|
|Fizroy, Captain||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Fleming, J. W.||Norreys, Lord|
|Ffolliott, J.||Northland, Viscount|
|Forbes, W.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Paget, Lord W.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Gordon, hon. Captain||Peel, J.|
|Gore, M.||Pemberton, T.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Goring, C.||Pringle, A.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Rous, hon. Captain|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J,||Rushbrooke, Colonel|
|Greenaway, C.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Sandon, Viscount|
|Grogan, E.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Hale, R. B.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Smollett, A.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.||Somerton, Viscount|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Stanley, Lord|
|Henley, J. W.||Stuart, H.|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Hodgson, R.||Thompson, Mr. Aid.|
|Holmes, hn. W. A'C.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Hope, A.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Hope, G. W.||Villiers, Viscount|
|Hornby, J.||Wood, G. W.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Wyndham, Colonel|
|Jackson, J. D.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Young, J.|
|Johnson, W. G.||TELLERS.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Baring, H.|
§ Original question agreed to.
§ The remaining portions of the scale were also agreed to, (see the Report. March 2, for the entire scale of duties.)
§ On the resolution that it is expedient to amend the laws as to the taking of the averages.
§ Mr. Hawes
thought, that a promise had been given that the discussion on the 1242 mode of taking the averages should come on at this stage. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had also signified that every information on the subject should be given before this question was mooted. He thought that the discussion ought to be taken now, whether or not the law should be altered.
§ Sir R. Peel
conceived, that the more proper period for raising the discussion would be when the bill was introduced, and in the committee on the bill there would be just as good an opportunity of debating the matter as at the present moment.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that hon. Members would have an opportunity of raising the debate in the committee on the bill, by moving that the towns proposed to be added should be struck out, and that the law should remain the same as at present.
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, a great number of Members had gone away on the understanding that a night would be set apart for discussion on this point. The best course to pursue was, for hon. Members to agree to the resolution, reserving to themselves the right of taking whatever course they thought proper on the bringing up of the report.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
put it to the House whether or not he should proceed with the motion of which he had given notice at that hour.
§ Sir R. Peel
put it to the Speaker whether there would be any impropriety in the gallant Member making his motion in committee on the bill, as it merely related to the period of levying the duties.
§ The Speaker
said, that as the hon. Member's motion was not to increase the duties, but referred to the period when they should be levied, namely, on importation instead of when taken out of bond, it might be moved in committee on the bill.
§ Motion postponed.
§ Sir V. Blake
rose to make the motion of which he had given notice, thatIn consideration of the unexampled depression of trade and manufactures, corn be admitted free of duty for one year, or for such other limited period as Parliament may deem fit and proper.
§ Sir R. Peel
apprehended that the hon. Member ought to have made his motion when the scale was under consideration.
said, that both the Speaker and Mr. Greene (the chairman of committees) had intimated to him that the present was the proper period for making his motion.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ House resumed. Report to be received.
§ House adjourned.