HC Deb 21 July 1842 vol 65 cc402-82
Mr. T. S. Duncombe

said, that previously to bringing forward the motion of which he had given notice, he wished to explain the reason that had induced him to present it in rather a different form to that he had originally given notice of. His original notice was for a motion to limit the supplies to a period of three months, and the object of that notice and that motion would have been to compel, if possible, her Majesty's Government to re-assemble that House in October next, in the event of no decisive amelioration taking place in the condition of the people before the winter should arrive. On a former even- ing, when the House was about to go into supply, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had expressed a wish that he should, if possible, submit that motion in a different form, and on a different occasion, so as not to obstruct or delay the supplies. In compliance with that request, he had framed his motion in the form in which he was now about to submit it to the House. But here he must take the opportunity of saying that no thanks were due from him to her Majesty's Government for there being a House on the present occasion, so as to enable him to bring forward his motion. It was true the right hon. Baronet the Member for Kent Was in the House, after thirty-six Members had assembled on his (Mr. Duncombe's) side of the House. Here too let him say, that although his side of the House had been frequently complained of for obstructing the public business, those charges were totally unfounded, If there had been an error on that side of the House, it had been an error of forbearance. What was the opinion out of doors? What was the opinion of the people in Liverpool, in Manchester, in Paisley? What was the opinion in places where, within the last few days, meetings had been held, in which resolutions were passed desiring their members to obstruct the course of the proceedings in that House, until some remedial measures should be adopted. He might justify far more obstruction, and tenfold greater delay on the part of the present opposition than had really been offered, by the precedent that had been set by the former opposition in the last session of the preceding Parliament. How many opposition motions were then discussed night after night, and for nights together? There was the question of the sugar duties; eight nights were consumed on that when the late Government introduced their measure to give, the people cheap sugar. A Motion Was brought forward against that proposition which, as be had said, lasted eight nights, and had given the opportunity to those who had been the steadfast opponents of slavery to come down and vent forth their fears and apprehensions Oat slavery Would be increased if the people had cheap sugar. Then there was the vote d no confidence in the late Ministry. That debate took five nights, and thus the public business was delayed thirteen nights by such proceedings on the part Of the opposition. Had any thing of that character Occurred during the present ses- sion? The only motion of the kind was that of the hon. Member for Greenock, which had taken up three nights, and consequently elicited the most bitter complaints of the delay of the public business. But, to be sure, the motions of last Session were party motions, having for their object the carrying of hon. Gentlemen opposite into Downing-street, whereas the motion of the hon. Member for Greenock was a broad national motion, having for its object the ' consideration of the distress of the people of this country. e hoped, then, he should hear no more of these charges of delay brought against hon. Members sitting on that (the opposition) side of the House. In submitting his motion to the House he should not detain them by entering into heart-rending { details of the distress which existed through out the country; nor should he enter upon I the subject of the Corn-law, which had been so amply discussed during the present Session by hon. Members more competent to handle it. His object was to warn that House and her Majesty's Government, but more particularly the country gentlemen who sat in that House, of the dangers which he believed beset them and their properties at the present moment. He believed that, great as the alarm in the country was, if any one thing more than another increased that alarm in the minds of reflecting men, it was the total apathy and indifference shown by the great majority of that House to the distresses of the people, What were they about to do? To separate at a moment when the peace and tranquillity of the country were not, as he believed, worth forty-eight hours' purchase. They were about to separate as if peace and plenty and contentment reigned over the land, whereas, if they knew anything of the real state of affairs, they ought to know that the state of the country was diametrically the reverse. What had happened at the commencement of the present session? At the opening of Parliament the House was told in her Majesty's Speech that the privations of the people had been great, and had been borne with the utmost patience and fortitude. Had those privations been in the least degree mitigated, abated, or diminished? Had they not, on the contrary, increased greatly, and were they not increasing still? Yet, what had they done? His hon. Friend had brought forward a motion asking them to institute inquiry into the state of the distress of the people. Then they quibbled, and entered into special pleadings about the form of the motion. His hon. Friend then told them that, as his object was inquiry only, he was willing to alter the terms of his motion. But they refused anything in the shape of inquiry, nor told what remedies they had in store. Then his hon. Friend, the Member for Aberdeen, offered to them a power that had been taken by but few Governments—he offered them the opportunity of opening the ports, so that if the distress should not be alleviated they might afford some relief by giving bread to the people. That, too, they had refused. The next motion was that of the lion. Member for Wolverhampton. Be had asked them to go into a committee, for the purpose of taking the Corn-laws into consideration, with a view to their being repealed. They had scouted the very idea of such a proposal, and defeated the motion by a large majority. He then asked what was to he done to relieve the distress of the country and improve the condition of the people? if any persons were more to blame than others, they were the hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite. In last May they had been told a the distressed condition of the country, and that greater distress was approaching. They did not, they would not believe it, and treated the warning slightingly. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, " Leave things alone." The plain fact was, that the distress of the country occupied the minds of those Gentlemen not at all. Their thought was of Downing-street, and now they were seated there, he wanted to know what they were going to do. The hon. Member for Whitehaven had told them, and rightly, that they had no right to take office unless they were prepared to remedy the evils that prevailed. And what were to be the remedies? The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had given a list of the supposed causes of the distress, but he believed the whole of the distress was attributable to that party to which the noble Lord belong 1, and which was commonly known by the name of the Tories. If they had supported the liberal measures that were proposed last year, much of the distress might have been avoided, if not altogether alleviated. Hon. Members who represented manufacturing districts were shortly about to return to their constituents, and what were they to tell them? Why, unless this night they gained some assurance from the Government, they would have no consolation whatever to offer to their constituents. They could say no more than that Parliament had separated without offering any remedy for the distresses of the country, and was not likely to meet again till time usual period. But an agricultural Member, on the contrary, would have a very good answer to give to the inquiries of his constituents. He could say, " We have passed a corn bill which, as the hon. Member for Berkshire told his constituents, is all a delusion as regards diminishing protection to agriculture." And that would be true, for the new law had, if anything, perpetuated the injustice they had thought proper to inflict upon the English people. The agricultural Member, then, would be thanked by his constituents, because, in point of fact, nothing whatever had been done. But what was to be the remedy for the distress? He would like to know from the right hon. Member for Kent whether his present remedy was that Poor-law which last year he had denounced as arbitrary and unconstitutional? Or he would be glad to hear what was to be the remedy of the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Was it calling out the police and the yeomanry, and enacting such scenes as those in which he had observed the Staffordshire magistrates had played a conspicuous part? He did not see the Secretary at War in his place, or he would ask that right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether his remedy was to he the bayonet. As for the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would propose to " leave things alone." Then the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury might say, " We have got our Corn-bill, our Income-tax, and our tariff and let us see the effect of those measures." Aye, what was the consequence of those measures. As for the Income-tax, its locusts were already overspreading the land, and doing their dirty work. The dividends had been stopped at the Bank, and now he wanted to know where was the compensation in cheaper food and cheaper living, promised by the right hon. Baronet? It could not be found. The Income-tax was retrospective; but all the benefits of the tariff appeared to be very remote. Then the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had promised to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford, Church extension—Church extension to feed a starving people! As the right hon. Gentleman had given an answer to the hon. Member for Oxford on that point, it was to be hoped he would give one to the people in re- gard to their distresses, as satisfactory to them as the other reply was to the hon. Baronet and the Church generally, that Church which he wished felt a little of the distress which prevailed among the manufacturers. Her Majesty's Government looked forward to an early and abundant harvest, as if that were to be a cure for the distress. Shortly there would be another Speech from the Throne, closing the Session, and allusions would probably be again made to the patience of the people under their privations. The right hon. Baronet had said that he expected the people would maintain peace and order, out of respect to the power of the law. Upon that he would read to that House a report that had been made to him by one of those much-maligned people, the Chartists; a person who in consequence of there being an outbreak in a manufacturing district near Birmingham, was sent down there by the council of the Chartists to dissuade the people from committing any outrage. He did so far succeed; and his report was worthy the attention of the House. It was as follows:— The peaceful conduct of the people is not, as Sir R. Peel declared, to be attributed to their respect for or fear of the law,' for these people generally believe existing laws, and the present Legislature, to be extremely bad. But their quietude is solely attributable to the hope they have hitherto entertained—that a peaceful change would ere long be effected. Yet the recent votes of the House of Commons have greatly diminished this hope, and the suffering people are now falling into despair; and a murmur runs among them that' they must help themselves.' He would also quote art extract from a speech delivered at a public meeting, The hon. Member read as follows: There he beheld able-bodied men, fathers of families. absolutely crying bitterly, to think of the wretchedness of their lot. Many of them were without food for days together, and their children's existence prolonged by picking scraps from the streets, begging the offals from the tables of the more wealthy, whilst many committed petty thefts, to be imprisoned and gain the support afforded by gaols. In Chorley a poor boy went to a minister of the gospel to ask relief; on being refused he broke a window, saying, whilst engaged in the act, 'I'll get food and shelter somehow Serious assaults upon property have been meditated, and only repressed by the efforts of those too often in scorn, styled the ' physical force Chartists.' The people scoff at the Queen's charity letter, and say they need justice, not charity. They are restless for a radical change in their representative system, without which they believe destitution will ever be their lot. In Lough borough an attempt was made by the masters to raise the rents of the frames used by the stocking-knitters. Those who formerly paid 1s. 5d. per week were to pays. 6d., 2s. 6d. to pay 2s., and so on. The stockingers are in a most destitute condition, few of them earn more than 4s. 6d. when in full employ. Consequently they met in a body, determined to resist the encroachment, and the masters, becoming alarmed, relinquished the attempt, but declared that the prospect of Peel's Income Tax had driven them to it, and would do so again. In this place a man went to seek employ, and was offered knitting work at 1s. 4d. per dozen pairs. He would have to work fifteen hours per day six days, to make seven dozen, for which he would receive 9s. 4d. Then would be deducted for frame rent 2s., seaming 1s. 9d., winding cotton, 9d., needles and oil 3½d, leaving 4s. 5d. for his week's hard toil. Experienced workmen have declared these calculations much under the mark. The same man went to a minister of the parish and asked relief; he told his distress, when the minister replied, if that were his lot he would break the frames to pieces. The minister then sought to procure this man a free passage to New Zealand, but was unsuccessful, the vessel being full. The best artisans, who can by the sale of any articles they possess, raise the means, are leaving the country. As an 'instance, upwards of sixty have recently left the town of Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, and gone to America. They were the most sober, honest, and intelligent men of the place. Were those the persons they wished to lose, or did they seek only to retain the infirm, the aged, the impotent, and the dissolute? But it might be said that that report proceeded from the Chartists, and therefore he would next read to the House a speech made no longer ago than yesterday at the Anti-Corn-law Conference, by a gentleman who he understood was a high Tory, Mr. Holland Hoole, the boroughreeve of Salford. That Gentleman said— He had no very particular information to communicate to the meeting; all he could tell was that matters had gone on from bad to worse. He was deputed to attend a meeting of the merchants in the city, and he, as a large manufacturer, would simply ask them on what terms it was possible for men to carry on this course and employ 700 or 800 men? The strong probability was, that there would be an outbreak throughout a large extent of the manufacturing districts in the ensuing winter, unless remedial measures were adopted. He felt it hard to state that a number of the district magistrates, apprehending this outbreak, were determined to resign their commissions, and not to permit themselves to be the tools of the aristocracy. The peace of the country is still preserved, because the people still hope that something may be done to alleviate their misery. His position as chief magistrate brings before him instances of poverty and suffering which cannot come before other people. That was a statement made by a gentleman entertaining political opinions similar to those of hon. Members opposite. In Bilston, last week, though the town was comparatively tranquil, hundreds of distressed and starving people were in the streets. They went into a baker's shop, and taking from thence a table, they placed it in the middle of the road, and having taken out the bread, they divided it amongst them all, and having eaten, they returned the baker his table. Was that a state of things that was to continue throughout the winter? Trade was languishing, people were unemployed, the winter was approaching, and he would ask what was to be done? What had the hon, Member for Oldham told them? That within the last eighteen months he had employed between 2,000 and 3,000 persons, and during that period had paid them 50,000l. more than their labour was worth; and he had told them also that he believed if the Corn-law was repealed, he should be able to continue to employ those persons; but if not, he could not. Why was that hon. Member to lose another sum of 50,000l. during the next year and a half, and continue to make such a sacrifice to please the agriculturists of England? What sacrifice had they made equal to that of the individual alluded to? But the people were told they were to have an abundant harvest, and the right hon. Baronet had said that it had already commenced in Essex. He believed that might be partially the case, hut it was nothing like general. What had been said by their oracle, the Mark-lane Express, on Monday last, with respect to this abundant harvest? Here was the article:— When we last addressed our readers, the weather had a decidedly unsettled appearance, and apprehensions were already beginning to be entertained respecting the effects a continuance of rain might have upon the growing grain crops; these were, however, soon dissipated, the rain having ceased, even before our paper went to press. Since then the weather has been all that could be desired: and where the crops were partially laid by the high wind and heavy rain of the preceding week, they have again recovered an upright position, and the moisture with which they have been supplied has, therefore, been productive of much more benefit than injury. Under these circumstances, it is reasonable to infer that the yield of wheat will prove somewhat more productive than, a short time ago, expected; for, not with standing the undoubted thinness of the plant, such weather as we have, during the last month, been favoured with, must have done much to overcome previous defects, and we are disposed ro think that long, well-filled, and thick-set ears will, to a considerable extent, compensate for the deficiency of plant; but even with all these advantages, and a continuance of auspicious weather from this time until the conclusion of harvest, we doubt whether an average produce will be secured, so extensive and general were the complaints of injury suffered by the seed, from the saturated state of the soil at the season of sowing, and, subsequently, by the heavy rains, ravages of the slug, &c. Taking this view of the case, and bearing in mind the position we are situated in, with regard to stocks, not only in this country, but in most of the corn-growing states of Europe (the quantity of old wheat remaining on hand being everywhere unimportant) we cannot yet see sufficient reason to reckon on any material or permanent fall in prices, though a temporary decline must, unless anything should occur to cause renewed speculation, undoubtedly be expected. In some very forward districts, the reaping of Talavera wheat has, we understand, already been partially commenced, and, before the end of the month, some quantity will, probably, be cut in the southern counties; the harvest, however, cannot, we think, become general until about the middle of August, even with fine weather, and is likely to be still later in all the northern parts of the empire. He said, then, that, if this paper were to be believed, there was an end of all hope of an early and abundant harvest. But grant that there were an early and abundant harvest, would that give employment to the starving people? Should we, in consequence of an abundant home harvest, ship to foreign countries one load more of our manufactured goods? Not one. An abundant and early harvest, then, supposing it to come, would afford no answer whatever to those distressed classes who could look only to a relaxation of our restrictive commercial laws for substantial and permanent relief from their sufferings. If the Government were sincere in their professions of a desire to relieve the people, what possible objection could there he to the motion he now proposed? If Parliament were brought together only for the purpose of voting away the public money, let the people be told so at once. But if it were a part of the duty of Parliament to consider the condition of the country, and to adopt measures for its relief, then he maintained that it would be the duty of Ministers to assemble them again, to see if it were not possible to do something to ameliorate the destitution of the people, before their sufferings were increased by the inclemency of winter. That was the object of his motion—a motion constitutional in itself, and founded upon justice and humanity. He asked the Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House to pause before they rejected it. He asked her Majesty's Ministers, at least, to give the country some assurance that, if no improvement took place in the condition of the people within the next six weeks or two months, they would take the advice of Parliament. The right hon. Baronet told the House the other evening, that his measures had not yet had a fair trial. The next six weeks or two months would afford them a fair trial. Then let the right hon. Baronet say, that if, at the end of that time, they should he found not to produce the beneficial effects which he expected from them, he would again assemble Parliament, and proceed to carry out those just and sound principles upon which he admitted his measures were based. Let the right hon. Baronet say that, if his present measures failed of producing the good he desired, he would not delay to carry out the wholesome principles upon which they were founded to a fuller, if not to the fullest extent. If, after doing that, it should be found that Parliament, through such measures, could do nothing for the relief of the people, at all events neither the Government nor the Legislature would have anything to reproach themselves with. They would have done their best to alleviate the misery of those who surrounded them, and to promote the welfare and happiness of those millions to whose toil and industry, and to whose loyalty and affection they were indebted for every comfort they enjoyed, and every atom of property they possessed. With these remarks, he begged to move a humble address to her Majesty, to represent to her Majesty— That the distress in the manufacturing districts, to which her Majesty was pleased to allude, in her Majesty's most gracious speech at the commencement of the present Session, as having been borne with exemplary patience and fortitude,' continues unabated; and that the sufferings and privations resulting there from are rapidly extending from the working to the middle classes of society; that none of the measures hitherto proposed by her Majesty's Government to Parliament, however just the principles upon which some of them have been founded, appear adequate to afford a timely and sufficient remedy for these great and pressing evils; and that her Majesty's Government cannot, without the aid of Parliament, take such further steps as may be necessary for that purpose; and further, to represent to her Majesty an anxious hope that if, after the termination of the present Session, no decisive improvement should take place in the condition of her Majesty's suffering and loyal subjects, her Majesty may be pleased again, at an early period, to call Parliament together, with a view of giving fuller effect to those sound principles of commerce, which, if fairly and impartially carried out, more especially as regards the food of the people, would, by giving an impulse to trade and industry, avert those calamities which the inclemency of winter, superadded to want and destitution, must inevitably produce.

Mr. Ward

seconded the motion. There never was a motion brought before the House to which he felt that he could give a more hearty concurrence. It was moderately worded, particularly in its conclusion, and perfectly rational and constitutional in the course it proposed to the House to take. his hon. Friend, despairing of any remedy being applied to the distress, which was admitted on all hands, during the present Session, and convinced that the Government, upon its own responsibility and by its own acts, could afford no alleviation whatever to the sufferings of the people, called upon the Minister of the Crown to give a pledge that if the distress continued, if the pressure upon the industry of the country remained to the same extent as at the present moment, Parliament should be called together in the course of the autumn to see whether it were possible to devise any practical measures to meet the existing evil. His hon. Friend did not profess or pretend to apply a remedy for evils with which, as an individual, he was, of course, perfectly unable to grapple, but J he said that an assurance of the kind contained in his motion, coming at this moment from her Majesty's Ministers, would be received by the country as a proof of sympathy in its sufferings, and as affording some hope and prospect of a remedy. This was a precaution which the House as a legislative body was in his mind bound to take. The Government, by itself, could do nothing. The only thing within its reach was that to which the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had referred on a previous evening, the only thing it could do upon its own responsibility was to open the ports if the circumstances of the country should seem to demand such a step. But that at best was but a palliative, a mere temporary expedient to mitigate for the moment the extreme sufferings of the people. What was wanted was, not an attempt to bolster and prop up a bad system, but a bold and manly determination to adopt a new and good system. And why should not this be done at once? For done it must be at no distant day. None of the Gentlemen upon the Ministerial side of the House, not even the most sanguine of them, could expect the Corn-law to last another year. They had clung to the system upon which it was based with some remnant of hope even to the very last; hut they were now compelled to admit that it could not go on much longer, and now that Parliament was about to separate they were going down to their agricultural constituencies to prepare them for the dire necessity which would compel the Minister of the Crown to adopt a better system next year. His bon Friend did not wish to embark the Government in all the perils of the coming winter, without some attempt to palliate the sufferings of the people. Parliament alone could do this. Government would be powerless to meet the evil, because, as he had already said, no substantial relief could he afforded to the community without a change of system. The Members on his side were the more entitled to ask the concurrence of Government in the present motion, because in the course of the Session Ministers had laid down principles which bore out all the conclusions of their opponents. There was, indeed, nothing more striking or extraordinary in the present situation of affairs, than the opposition between the principles and the practice of the Government upon almost every question that had been mooted in the course of the Session. The principles of the Government were almost all that he, as a free-trader, could desire: but the misery was, that when those principles came to be applied to practice they were found to be confined merely to little matters of pettifogging detail, which could by no possibility do any good to any interest or any class. Take the principles of the Government upon the tariff. As a free-trader he did not wish to see sounder principles laid down than those which were propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade, in the whole of his argument about the admission of cattle into this country. But then the right hon. Gentleman's principles in that particular case were qualified by the fact which the right hon, Baronet (Sir R, Peel) was careful to make apparent to all his friends, that the concession would be perfectly harmless, that no cattle would come into the country for the present, and that many years must elapse before any great number could ever be admitted, The concession, therefore, however great in principle, amounted, in practice, and in fact, to nothing at all. Again, upon the question of bonded corn, which was discussed on the previous evening, nothing could be more satisfactory than the principle advanced and insisted upon by the Government. But then again came the misery of the practice, for the Vice President of the Board of Trade told those who opposed the proposition that the principle was not worth disputing about, because it applied only to a quantity of flour so wretchedly small that it could not possibly have the slightest effect upon the general consumption of the country. " Wherefore (said he to his agricultural friends), permit your minds to remain perfectly tranquil; the principle which alarms you cannot, under the limitation which I impose upon it, affect the price of bread, even to the extent of a farthing." This was what he complained of; this contrast between the principle and the practice of Government. He wished to see that contrast put an end to, and he believed that it would be put an end to in the course of a few months; for unless he were greatly deceived, things were brewing up in the country which would compel the right hon. Baronet to carry his principles into practice. To enable him to do that, the presence of Parliament would be indispensable. The right hon. Baronet might have the best intentions, but those intentions should not be held in abeyance till the month of February next. Be had spoken of the contrast between the principles and the practice of the Government upon matters of minor import. There was a great and striking difference in their conduct in reference to weightier and more important matters. In respect of these, whilst making concessions in appearance, they had in fact preserved untouched all the monopoly and exclusive advantage of their supporters. Take the Corn-law. In dealing with that vital question, they had got rid of nothing (to use the expressive and most truly appropriate phrase of the Vice-President of the Board of Trade) but the surplus age of odium. They had retained an amount of protection which was perfectly effective for all their own; purposes. They had given nothing more than a mere semblance of relief to the country at large. He wanted to change that semblance into something substantial. He asked them whether they believed themselves that this system could last—whether they did not see that all that they had done was hollow and unsubstantial, and inadequate to meet the exigency of the case? He wished to bring particular facts under the attention of the House, and to ask how those facts could be met. He wanted to show to the right hon. Baronet what was the extent of the responsibility which he took upon himself in attempting to bolster up this rotten system for a few months more. People were disposed to pin their faith upon the right hon. Baronet—they believed him to be a practical man, and in many respects an honest man,—they believed that he was at present constrained by the party which brought him into power, but they also believed that in a little time more, now that be had once broken the ice, he would be enabled to throw his present supporters overboard, and to take the course which he knew in his own mind to be the only right one. This being the case, he wanted the right hon. Baronet to do justice to the people of England; and, that the right hon. Baronet might know what the sufferings of the people were, he would beg to remind him of a memorial which he had the honour, some time since, of submitting to his consideration from the town of Sheffield. From that memorial it appeared that there were in Sheffield 1,500 fathers of families out of work, and entirely dependent upon the parish for the means of subsistence,—that the trade funds of the town were completely exhausted—and that the rates had gone on increasing to such an extent as to be nearly insupportable. The progress of the increase in the rates, and the extent to which it had now arrived, was thus stated:—In 1830 the rates were 182l. the quarter, or 15l. per week. In 1839 they amounted to 541l. the quarter, or 45l. per week. In 1841 they amounted to 1,836l. the quarter, or 153l. per week. In the quarter ending June, 1842, they amounted to 4,253l. or 354l. per week, and since that time, in the course of this present month of July, they had amounted to 420l. per week. Thus the rateable property of the town was nearly exhausted, and three months hence the magistrates believed that a rate could not be levied. Such was the present condition of Sheffield, and how was it to be relieved? There was no symptom of a revival of commerce. Not a single order of any consequence bad been received from the United States. The continental trade of Sheffield had been much destroyed by the improvement of the hardware manufactures in France and Belgium; but that was not felt in any great degree, was not attended by any grievous results, as long as the American market remained open. But that market, the most valuable of all, had for years past been closing against us in consequence of our refusal to receive the corn and provisions with which they could supply us. The Sheffield trade with America amounted now to absolutely nothing. The consequence was, that there were from 10,000 to 15,000 of the working population of that town absolutely destitute,. whilst the remainder were subsisting only upon the merest pittance, affording hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together. Alter the law, abolish the restrictive system, give admission to the provisions of America, which she could supply to an unlimited extent, and a new impulse would be given to trade—commerce would recover its activity, and manufactures be restored to prosperity. It was useless to suppose that this great end could be obtained by a mere dabbling with minor matters of petty detail. Let the true principle of a liberal and enlightened policy be applied to those commodities which constituted the main articles of consumption here; let the corn and provisions of America be freely exchanged for the produce of our manufactures, and the we should have a commerce growing with the United States, which were ever extending themselves—growing with our own population, enriching both countries, spreading comforts on both sides of the Atlantic, and affording employment for every branch of our industry. It was mocking the necessities of the country to apply this principle to small and insignificant matters, which could give no effectual or substantial relief; but immediately that the great class interests of the country were concerned, to turn round upon the people and say, that those great interests could not be touched. That was the position in which the right hon. Baronet stood. He did not speak as a party man upon this question—he spoke as an Englishman—as a man having some interest in retaining those very principles, which the Gentlemen opposite were so resolute in asserting; but he knew, that his own interest in the land was bound up with the prosperity of the manufacturing community. It was the prosperity of that branch of the community which had placed the Gentlemen opposite where they were. It was the prosperity of that branch of the community, which had placed the English landowners in a position of greater comfort and affluence, than the landowners in any other country in the world. If the English landowners cut away the ground from under their own feet—if they made a population of paupers out of a population of skilful and industrious manufacturers, he pitied the blindness which prevented them from seeing the ruin to themselves, which must inevitably follow. The effect of those restrictions, which nothing but another meeting of Parliament could remove, was most grievous throughout the country. lt was producing disaffection, and alienating the hearts and minds of thousands even of the middle classes, whilst with the working classes a feeling was growing up which could not be contemplated, without the utmost apprehension. He had received a letter, for the genuineness of which he could vouch, from a working man, containing sentiments which would give the House an idea of the present feeling of that class of the community. It was so well written—its sentiments were so just, and so admirably expressed, that he was sure the House would forgive him for reading it. It was as follows:— You have made many statements respecting the distress of the town; but I do assure you, that they fall far short of depicting the extent of misery and woe existing in this once flourishing place. Four years ago, you could scarcely find a house to let; now there are thousands of houses untenanted, and hundreds that are tenanted are paying no rent. Household property, to my certain knowledge, has fallen full 50 per cent.; and last Saturday, I was in company with an aged man, who has acquired some property in houses by persevering industry when young, expecting it would support him in age; but now he cannot obtain any rent. He is too old to work. What must be his fate? The workhouse; for I heard him offer a whole row of houses as a gift to a gentleman, if he would meet all that has come against them, and insure him 10s. a-week. All those that have the means are emigrating to Russia and America. Many of our best edge-tool makers have gone to Russia, to superintend manufactories there. Cutlers of every description are leaving the town to escape the workhouse, or starvation;,,and the foreign manufacturers are getting up goods of our patterns, and marked with our best manufacturers' names upon them. What must be the consequence of all this, if ant prevented by an alteration in our present laws, which restrict our foreign markets, with our superabundant population? Why, the consequence will be the loss of our foreign trade, and the starvation of our industrious working men. The distress that has come to my own knowledge is of the most painful description. Last Saturday evening, I was returning home from market, after laying out the few shillings I had to spend, and I overtook a female I knew. After the usual inquiries in respect to her family, I asked her how business went on with her husband? when she declared to me, that she left home with 2s. 9d., to provide food for the week for nine persons; two of her sons were above twenty years of age, and some of die girls nearly grown to womanhood. Her husband, she said, was an industrious, sober, steady man. She stated the number of years she had been united to him, which I forget, and that during that time be had never spent Cal. from home without her knowledge. Now, I ask, sir, what must be the feelings of this family on the Sabbath morning I cannot describe it—I will leave this to abler minds than mine. She told me they had sold neatly every article of furniture and wearing apparel, to keep them from starving, and now starve they must. There was nothing tie could say, that could add to a picture like that. He asked what must be the feeling of every individual family which found itself thus reduced to absolute starvation and despair, in consequence of the acts of the Legislature, when they saw Parliament about to separate without any measure having been carried that was likely to afford them the slightest substantial relief? e could not look without sympathy, nor without apprehension and alarm to the situation of these men. He knew, that the Government if it pleased, could assert the law; he knew that it had the power to do so; he knew that it had a military force at its disposal; hut what was to be the condition of the country if the law could only be vindicated by the employment of troops to keep down a population which, rightly legislated for, would he the credit, the honour, and the security of the kingdom? He did not wish to exaggerate the extent of the evil; he supported this motion because he believed it to be necessary, and because it held out the only legitimate hope of relief that the people could look to. He trusted, that it was not the intention of the Government to oppose it. He trusted, that it was not the intention of the right hon. Baronet to chill the hopes that were found upon this motion, and to compel the people of England to believe that he would allow Parliament to separate, in order to face the perils of the coming winter, without any prospect of such a legislative change in our commercial system as should once more give fair play to the industry of the country, and afford the loyal, peaceful, and long-suffering population, some substantial hope and prospect of relief.

Mr. D' Israeli

believed, that if her Majesty's Ministers thought it expedient to call Parliament together before the usual time of its assembly, they would do so; and if such early meeting were necessary, and her Majesty's Ministers neglected to advise it, they would incur a responsibility from which he felt sure they would not escape. Such a motion, then, as the one proffered was equivalent to a vote of want of confidence in the Government, and if that were felt, the expression by the House ought to be distinct and direct. But this question, in fact, is only a repetition of one which the House had very recently considered. Its importance was universally admitted. For the distress of the people touched the interests and therefore enlisted the sympathies of all classes. He confessed that he knew of nothing that had happened since they last entertained this question of a cheering character. On the contrary, any alteration that had occurred appeared to him to be for the worse. When they had discussed a few weeks ago the motion then brought forward by the hon. Member for Greenock on the same subject, the industry of this country had just been menaced by an ordonnance of the French government, levelled at the linen manufactory of England. In the interval which had elapsed between that discussion and the present, another blow had been aimed at the trading interests and labouring industry of the country, and a treaty had just been formed between France and Belgium which was to exclude our products from that inlet to France and the north of Germany. The hon. Member for Sheffield, indeed, urging his accustomed and solitary specific for all distress—a repeal of the Corn-lawes—said, that such repeal was necessary for this country in order to regain our American market. The House should, however, recollect, without taking into consideration the extraordinary efforts of 1836, that we had maintained during the last ten years an average trade with America amounting to an interchange of 18,000,000l. sterling, and this with our late corn and provision laws in full operation. This commerce was sustained by our offering to America a market for her two chief products—cot- ton and tobacco. But now it appeared that the Western States had an inexhaustible store of grain also for us. But we must not forget that these offers were never made until these states were in a position of bankruptcy. When they found themselves indebted to this country to an immense amount, they then said, " True, we are bankrupts, but take our corn, and we shall redeem our obligations to you, and the balance between us shall be immediately arranged." He thought it required some consideration, where, having a bankrupt customer, they were immediately to change their whole system of Corn-laws, in order to obtain the chance of a liquidation of debts which were incurred with a full knowledge that corn could not be accepted for their settlement. Be did not wish to underrate the amount of public distress, but he did not believe it was to be accounted for by a single cause. He did not think also that the distress was the creation of to-day or yesterday. It was his opinion that since the peace the commerce of England had never been of that regular and sustained character which a country of these resources had a right to expect. There had been periods undoubtedly of great prosperity, but they were fitful; the re-action had ever been severe, and the number of bankruptcies very considerable. He attributed this unsustained character in our foreign markets during the last quarter of a century mainly to this cause: the neglect of our Ministers at the general settlement of 1815 to re-construct the commercial system of this country on principles adapted to a period of peace. As regards England, the settlement of 1815 was an anti-commercial settlement. So clearly was this the case, that a very few years after the peace, so early indeed as 1818, Lord Liverpool found that it was impossible to go on—that if he persisted in the commercial system which a state of war had created, the resources of this country must be undermined, and that it would be impossible to raise the necessary revenue—Lord Liverpool recurred to these commercial principles which were developed previous to the war by Mr. Pitt and established as the sound basis on which the trade of this country was to be carried on. He proceeded of course with caution, but slowly as he advanced, his advance was beyond the spirit of the time. In 1820, some years before Mr. Huskisson took the lead, Lord Liverpool developed in a speech in the House of Lords the principles on which our commerce must be established, and the measures which he proposed to carry those principles into effect. That speech was revised and published by the noble Lord, and circulated extensively throughout the country. It was the manifesto of the Government. In that speech were expressions as favourable to free-trade as any made use of by hon. Gentlemen opposite—but expressions after all which were only the echo of the opinions of Mr. Pitt and Lord Shelburne in 1787. Lord Liverpool did introduce immediately into Parliament various measures in pursuance of those principles, measures ably developed in this House by Mr. Wallace and the present President of the Board of Trade who need not blush when he refers to the opinions on English commerce expressed in this House more than twenty years ago by Mr. Frederick Robinson. But Lord Liverpool knew very well that it was not enough to arrange tariffs to secure the trading prosperity of a country; he was well aware that it required a vigilant diplomacy to co-operate with him in promoting the commercial interests and defending the commercial rights of a country. And thus at the same time, while the home Government carried their promised and necessary measures of renovation, our foreign Minister called into existence new markets, the consequence of all which was a rapid improvement in our trade; our markets extended and our taxation lightened. From 1820 to 1830 the history of this country was a history of commercial progress. But when our domestic dissensions occurred in 1830, a change' took place, and from 1831 to 1841, another period of ten years, we find that commercial progress impeded. During this period, not a single step was taken by the home Government to advance the commercial principles of Pitt and Shelburne, of Lord Liverpool and Huskisson, Nay, more; this country not only stopped when it was necessary to advance those principles, but during this same period of ten years, our foreign Minister was pursuing a system of anti-commercial diplomacy which in his (Mr. D'Israeli's) mind accounted for the distress under which the county was now suffering, and which made him tremble for its future prospects. When hon. Gentlemen remembered that from 1831 to 1841 five commercial treaties, viz., with France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Naples, which would have opened most extensive and profitable markets, had been lost to this country by the misconduct of the late Government; when they remembered that two other commercial treaties which had been signed by the Government, viz., with Austria and Turkey, had from peculiar circumstances arising out of the ignorance or the negligence of the late Government utterly failed in accomplishing the objects for which they had been conceived; when they remembered that during the same period tariffs formed in the most hostile spirit to English commerce, bad in direct contravention of the stipulations of the most solemn treaties been applied to countries with which we had before carried on a most profitable commerce; they could scarcely fail to feel, that in those circumstances alone, in this neglect alike of our interests and our rights, were causes sufficient to account for the commercial distress which this country was experiencing, without sounding the single and solitary note on which hon. Gentlemen opposite were so fond of playing—viz. the agricultural policy of the country which, if injurious, could only be one of the causes which had produced the consequences which we roust all deplore. But besides all this; besides not accepting the markets which were offered; besides losing the markets which were formerly possessed; those which were still in our possession were disturbed. In these various and influential circumstances, produced by our management of the external relations of the empire, must we seek for the real causes of the decline of our commerce. The noble Lord, the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs delivered a few weeks back a funeral oration over our European commerce. He said:— We must not look for any extension of our commerce to Europe. It was to the East, that we must direct our views, and this when year after year the country had been told by the supporters of the noble Lord to look to Europe, and that a change in our tariff would regain our European markets. Why had we lost our European markets? [Cheers.] That cheer from hon. Gentlemen opposite would tell me that our Corn-laws are the cause. Let us examine facts. Let us without prejudice or party feeling look at what has happened with reference to our European markets since the noble Lord had exercised so great an influence over our external affairs. There was nothing on the continent of Europe viewed by commercial men with so much apprehension as the German Union commonly called the Prussian League. In that very name existed a great f diary. This Commercial confederation dud not commence in Prussia. It began in the South of Germany, and when the noble Lord acceded to office, there was a commercial union headed by Bavaria and consisting of the contiguous smaller states. Same time after this was first formed, Prussia had commenced a northern union, and seeing the political influence which she would obtain by putting herself at the head of a general union, adopted measures to connect the southern and northern unions. This movement on the part of Prussia strictly political, excited the jealousy of Austria, and Austria became anxious to form a commercial connection between England and the South of Germany which would have prevented the accomplishment of that great Prussian League which occasioned us so much alarm. Such was the state of affairs in Germany when the noble Lord acceded to office. What happened? Probably Austria looked with some distrust on a Minister who, on the threshold of power, had spoken of Austria in terms of contempt, if not of insult; who but recently had said in opposition:— Austria had sunk into a second rate power. These words falling from the lips of the noble Lord at the period of his entering office, threw a coldness on the anxiety which then existed for forming a commercial connection between England and the South of Germany, and preventing the application of the hostile tariff of Prussia to every German state, which was in effect the action of the Toll-Union. But the noble Lord at the time was not very uneasy on this head. The noble Lord came into power with a new principle: he was to maintain our empire by' directing Europe through the medium of an alliance with France. A commercial treaty with France was to form part of this great alliance, and the noble Lord knew very well, that if once he obtained that treaty he might defy the machinations of the Prussian League; that he would be able to pour British goods into Germany over the French frontier. It might perhaps be con- sidered that the triumph of diplomacy would have been to have obtained both the commercial treaty with France and the trading connection with Southern Germany: but let that pass. The fault he found with the noble Lord was that he had obtained neither. The noble Lord had lost both objects—the result of his policy was that the markets both of Germany and France were shut to us. The noble Lord on a former occasion condescended to notice a statement which he (Mr. D'Israeli) had made with regard to our promised treaty of commerce with France. He said you cannot always get treaties such as you want them; there are difficulties and jealousies to overcome. True, but what he (Mr. D'Israeli) maintained was that in the present instance those difficulties and jealousies had been overcome. The noble Lord said, that there were great difficulties or jealousies in 1837 under Count Mole; that if I applied to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury he would inform me that there were great difficulties and jealousies existing now. The noble Lord was not to answer him in that way. He was not to evade the point in dispute. He (Mr. D'Israeli) was not speaking of the ministry of Count Mole and the year 1837—nor of the ministry of M. Guizot and the year 1842. To prevent any misconception he would repeat specifically what he had stated on a former occasion. He said then, that at the commencement of the year 1840 the negotiation for a treaty of commerce with France had been brought to a complete and favourable termination; that all the provisions of that treaty were definitively settled; that there was not a single point of difference between the negotiators of that treaty; that the Minister in France pressed the noble Lord to empower the British commissioners to sign it; " the ink is in my pen to sign this treaty," said the French Minister, " why do you not press for instructions to execute it?" that the French ambassador in London personally urged the noble Lord to the same effect. That treaty would have admitted many of the staple articles of our trade into France at a very moderate rate of duty. It. admitted the hardware of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, the cutlery of Sheffield, the produce of the Potteries, the cloths of Leeds and Bradford, the linens and linen yarns of Belfast, Preston, and Dundee. There was a special provision, that the duty on linen yarns was never to exceed 10 per cent. The recent ordonnance of the King of the French had virtually prohibited that import. This was not a treaty in nubibus. It was as complete as any treaty could be, not signed by the plenipotentiary and not ratified by the Sovereign; and the non-completion of this treaty had made a difference in the interchange between the two countries to the annual amount of 10,000,000l. sterling. Yet this is the Minister who now tells you, that you cannot extend your commerce with Europe; that your European commerce is lost; the Minister who in obtaining power told you, that he was about to change the political and commercial system of England; that new political alliances were to lead to new commercial connections; and that we were at once to have treaties of commerce with France, with Spain, with Belgium. But where are his treaties? And, Sir, when I ask these questions of the noble Lord, am I to be met with such retorts as these, that the noble Lord supposes that I wish to see Don Carlos and Don Miguel re-established on their thrones, and the Inquisition again set up—retorts fit for the hustings, unworthy of a debating club. He did not see what connection a discussion on the commercial relations of this country had to do with the political or religious opinions of our customers. What we want is a policy that will extend the commerce of the country. The question was not whether we should have a Russian or a French alliance; nor whether we should support liberal or despotic opinions; it was whether our interests and our rights were or were not to be guarded and watched over by the Government. It was the anti-commercial diplomacy of the last ten years which had withered the trading energies of this country. It had excluded us from the French and German markets; it had failed to establish us in Spain and Portugal; it had separated us from Naples; it had estranged us from Belgium. Were not these facts? were not these matters for public judgment by the representatives of the people? What is the cause of that extensive and mysterious distress which has been long creeping over the industry of the country? No one now talks of it as being partial, or thinks it will be remedied by the spring market, removed by the revival of some particular department of trade, by Illinois sending us corn! Child- ish, absurd! What the cause is, the Minister, who for ten years exercised a power never criticised, who, in a period of domestic turbulence conducted public affairs and was never called to account, is the prime witness; he is most competent to explain the great calamity which is now at your very doors. Can we hesitate as to the cause? We complain of commercial distress; can we deny, that we have lost the proffered markets of five great European communities—treaties of commerce which would have secured at the least an increased interchange of 18,000,000 sterling between them and ourselves? But is this all that you have lost? When the noble Lord found that he had not obtained a treaty of commerce with France, that he had also lost the commercial connection with the south of Germany which he might have secured, he attempted to frame a treaty of commerce with Austria, which was to compensate for his previous errors, and secure us the trade of the Black Sea. Now let the House remark the consequences of that treaty: almost before the ink was dry which ratified it, the first Austrian vessel which visited this country under its provisions was confiscated as violating our navigation laws; and the result was, that Austria disgusted, recoiled from our advances, and immediately formed a treaty with another power. We thus failed in our commercial objects in the Black Sea, and the treaty of commerce with Austria was as unfortunate as another treaty of commerce, negotiated under the instructions of the noble Lord, the treaty with Turkey, under which higher rates of duties were levied on the commercial transactions of England, than on those of any other European power. The noble Lord had therefore rejected five treaties, which would have afforded profitable markets to this country, and had succeeded in concluding two treaties, which had completely failed in their object. But the noble Lord staled, that he had abandoned the treaty with France for great European objects. It was for the House to determine whet her those objects would weigh against the loss of that treaty. At present they assumed the form of a series of wars, which had convulsed all our Oriental markets from Constantinople to Canton. Well then, they were now to consider bow the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had met the public distress. On coming into power he had proposed certain mea- sures which were in fact a recurrence to those principles which in consequence of the affair of 1836 had been placed in abeyance. For the Corn-bill of the right hon. Gentleman and the new Customs-bill were nothing more than the legitimate continuation of a policy the progress of which had been arrested. So far the measures of the right hon. Gentleman struck at one of the causes of the present distress; and in his opinion efficiently. He thought, the New Corn-law would produce a considerable and on the whole steady trade in corn, and that the ultimate effect of the tariff, would in a great degree revive the trade of the country. That distress, however, could only be removed by fully recurring to those principles which were productive of the great prosperity of this country—which at the moment when parliamentary reform engaged the attention of the country were in full progress—which under these circumstances, had renovated' trade, had increased our markets, had filled our Exchequer. Thus the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to one class of his measures, had already followed that policy which had formerly conferred great benefit on this country; and in the hope, and indeed having reason to believe, that the right hon. Gentleman would not be neglectful of the second division of that policy; but that he felt the importance of treaties of commerce with the great communities of Europe, and was deeply sensible of the effect of our foreign policy on our foreign trade, he should vote against the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury, believing that during the parliamentary recess, her Majesty's Ministers would fulfil their duty in giving their attention to this important subject.

Mr. Ewart

thought, that the Members on his side of the House ought to congratulate themselves on finding an ally in the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He was glad to hear it admitted that the distress had its origin in the restrictions on trade, and he was also glad too, to find that every Member who had spoken had confirmed all the statements that had been made as to the extent of the present distress. The hon. Member for Sheffield had only done his duty in calling the attention of the House to the distress which prevailed in the town which he represented. He was sorry to say a town with which he had been formerly connected was also suffering great distress. In Liverpool the poor rates were so high that they betokened a greater degree of adversity than had ever before been felt in that town. The shipping interest was greatly depressed; the manufacture of steam-engines for foreign steamers had almost ceased; and the emigration to the United States had never been so great as at the present time—the persons emigrating not being the poor, but the better class of persons. The distress being admitted by all, he was surprised to hear some hon. Members rest their hope of a remedy on an abundant harvest. Was the belief of distress to depend, then, on the weather, and were they to be told this when hon. Gentlemen opposite had the power of compensating for the deficiency of the harvest by allowing the introduction of foreign corn. The right hon. Baronet had, at his meeting with the Liverpool deputation, alluded to the exports. True it was that the exports of Liverpool had. increased, but this had arisen from the home trade being deficient; but the increase was not confined to Liverpool. The exports from Bull had increased 50 per cent. over the exports of last year; but this was entirely owing to the exceedingly adverse state of the home market. Spun cotton could not be worked up at home; and it was exported to Hamburg and Rotterdam, because no home market could be found for the article. Why would they not give the people employment, by allowing a free-trade with America? When, by doing so, they would create a demand for manufactures. It was a remarkable thing, that while the internal disease of this country seemed to be a want of a home demand, the home market of France was in a most flourishing condition. [Sir R. Peel: Yet France has a corn-law.] Yes, France has a corn-law, but France grew more than sufficient corn for the population, while this country could not grow wheat sufficient for the people. Our distress would be aggravated by the treaty which he believed was now completed between France and Belgium. The only policy which this country ought to pursue was to follow the advice of the late Mr. Deacon Hume, and to sell in the dearest and buy in the cheapest markets, without any reference to what might be the conduct of other nations. They took their ground that evening on the existing distress, but, for himself, he was unwilling to rest the question of free-trade on the basis of this distress. He looked to the permanent interests of the country—he did not wish for palliatives— he wished for some measure which should make the people happy and contented. If the distress should cease tomorrow, the principles which he advocated would still remain the principles on which the commercial interests of this great nation ought to be based. Convinced that the right hon. Baronet was favourable to the principles of free-trade, he only regretted that he had not applied them to a greater extent; but he felt sure that the time was not far distant when the restrictions on commerce I would still be further mitigated.

Mr. Brotherton

As a Member of the manufacturing interests, felt it his duty to trespass for a short time on the attention of the House; and, in the first place, he might remark that the distress seemed to be generally admitted. With regard to I the cause of the distress, and the remedy! for it, there might be a difference of opinion in that House, but there was not any great difference among the people out of doors in ascribing the distress to the proper muse; and if they were allowed they would very soon propose their remedy. lie would trespass on the attention of the House for a very few moments, while he stated what was the real situation of the district with which he was connected. He had received a memorial, numerously signed by his constituents, in which they stated that they viewed the continued existence of the distress with the greatest alarm, and they feared, unless it were alleviated, that it would lead to civil commotion and disturbance. The memorialists, therefore, requested that be would, in his place in Parliament, unite with other members of the manufacturing districts to procure the adoption of such measures, in opposition to the progress of the Government, by stopping the supplies, as would prevent Parliament separating until a remedy should be devised for the evils that now afflicted the country. This memorial was signed by persons in the borough opposed to him in politics, by the high constable and most of the leading men in the borough, and by 6,820 other persons. He understood that his hon. Friend, the Member for Manchester, had a similar memorial sent to him, signed by upwards of 60,000 persons, This must show the impression upon their minds as to the present state of the country. He considered the distress and destitution of the country as having made a very alarming progress. The manufacturers wanted a market for their goods. Most of, them were selling at a loss. The spinners were keeping their mills at work without profit. One gentleman, who usually employed between 600 and 800 hands, stated in a letter that his mill was stopped, and that he could see no prospect of taking on again the hands he had been in the habit of employing, and he added, that the feeling of the people was, that as Government seemed bent upon stopping the mills, and thereby stopping their supplies, it was the duty of their representatives to stop the supplies of the Government. There might be a difference of opinion as to the best means of devising a remedy. He was willing to believe, that the Government would be induced to adopt those measures that were calculated to restore prosperity to the country. The measures they had hitherto adopted had not answered and would not answer the end of those who supported them. The great cause of the distress which afflicted the country was the disproportionate manner in which the taxation was imposed. The whole burden of that taxation was thrown upon one class of the community—the labouring class; and this was done by the operation of the Corn-laws. The Corn-laws had the effect of raising the price of food—the raising of the price of food had the effect of raising the rents—this produced low wages, and low wages created distress among the people. What the people complained of was, that there was no sympathy felt for them by any class. The Government might have professed sympathy, but the people believed it to be mere lip sympathy; their sympathy consisted in mere words the Government did nothing to relieve them. Neither had the landowners any sympathy with them, because they bad a direct interest in preserving their monopoly. Again, they complained that the clergy had no sympathy with them. This was to be accounted for by the alteration in the law relating to tithes. When tithes were paid in kind, the clergy had an interest in cheap food; but now, since the Tithe Composition Act had passed, they had quite a contrary interest. The income of the clergy was now fixed, not at a specific amount of money, but at a specific amount of grain. If the clergyman's income were estimated at 200 quarters, and the average price of wheat was 60s., his income would be 600l. a year; but if the average price was only 50s. then his income would be only 500l. a year. Now, a poor man earning 20s. a week would pay 20 per cent. as a tax upon his bread, whereas the man with an income of 500l. a year would consume no more bread than the poor man; he therefore would pay perhaps only 10 per cent. tax upon his bread. Thus the clergyman had an interest in keeping up the price of bread; and this appeared to him to be the cause why there was such an apathy among the clergy at the distress prevailing in the land. His impression was, that if the landlords would look at this question in a proper point of view, they would see that their interest was identified with that of the manufacturers. So long as the principal means of production of our manufactures consisted in the superiority of our machinery over the machinery of foreign manufacturers, the price of food was, comparatively, an immaterial point of consideration; but when foreign manufacturers adopted the use of machinery equal in power and perfection to our own, then the whole difference consisted in the relative value of manual labour, and that value was determined by the price of food. The price of food being cheaper abroad than in England, the consequence was that foreigners became our successful rivals; and when that was the case, and our markets being gone, he could not conceive how the agriculturists of this country could expect the products of their estates to continue of value to them. Should the landowners persist in their present course, he foresaw that either a revolution or some other dire calamity would befal this country.

Mr. Ricardo

I perceive that hon. Gentlemen opposite have received the order which they have received before during the present Session, that of keeping an imperative silence. Unless we had provoked the hon. Member for Shrewsbury to break forth, I fear we should have had all the discussion on our side. The great object of hon. Members on this (the Opposition) side of the House is to obtain some distinct proposition as to the measures which her Majesty's Government may even yet deem it their duty to propose to meet the alarming state of distress into which the country is now thrown. Though no observations of mine can place in a clearer point of view the urgent necessity of some distinct measures being submitted to this House for the relief of the universally acknowledged depression of trade, yet, considering the events which are taking place in the district which I have the honour to represent, I should not be justified in remaining silent any longer. The distress of the working classes has been illustrated in some places by portions of them being driven to seek sustenance from carrion and from weeds. It has been illustrated even here in this metropolis, by bands of famishing beings entering baker's shops, and openly taking the bread which they had no other means of procuring, careless of—nay, courting the consequences of their illegal proceedings, for they are driven to look to our prisons as an asylum from the effects of our restrictive laws. The last picture before us is among my own constituency, where we see a desperate and reckless population braving death and the law, which have no terrors for the starving man. This is no exaggeration; none can regret this state of things more than myself; and none could be more anxious to refrain from uttering that in this House which might aggravate or encourage the reckless spirit which is abroad. But I see no reason why we, who are met here to legislate for the people, should shut our eyes to the state of that people. I say this is no exaggeration. In the populous district which I represent, trade is at a stand still; furnaces are blowing out, shops are shut, and markets untenanted, for contributions are openly levied on the first, and carts are stopped and plundered in open day, as they take supplies to the other; for wages are falling, most obstinately falling in the teeth of the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who maintain that high wages are synonymous with a high price of food. A reduction inevitable, under present circumstances, has taken place in the bard earnings of the colliers. The natural consequence is a combination among those whose wages are reduced, not only to refrain from working themselves, but to prevent others from working. And they have a mighty power, of which they are not slow to avail themselves. They know that without fuel the manufactures must stop, and the potters, thus deprived of occupation, must he driven to join in the outbreak. And it is a fearful sign of the depression of trade that the manufacturers look on with indifference and apathy at the closing of the factories, for such is the slackness of the demand that they feel it a positive relief. With our own clay, our own coals, and our own workmen, foreigners are underselling us in markets which we have hitherto considered exclusively our own. If it be not taking up too much of the time of the House, I will refer to letters I have received from the Potteries for the corroboration of what I have stated. The hon. Member read the following letters:—

"Apsdall Hall, July 20, 1842.

"The disturbances in this neighbourhood have indeed assumed a very serious aspect, and what is to be the end of them I know not. That a general feeling of discontent with the present state of things, worked upon most industriously by designing men, of which we have too many amongst us, is at the bottom of what is passing, there can be no doubt; but I regret to say that some mistaken and rattier arbitrary proceedings on the part of one of our ironmasters, in which it is pretty generally admitted that the men have been hardly used, have been the more immediate cause of it. At the concern to which I allude there has, in fact, been a turn-out of colliers, &c., for several weeks past; a part of those who had been discharged, or whose wages had been reduced, I believe, without proper notice, appealed to the magistrates, and obtained a decision in their favour; but in consequence of some subterfuge, as I understand, on the part of their employers, were never able to enforce the redress to which they were pronounced to be entitled. This led to a stoppage of the works; angry feelings naturally followed, and have gradually spread through the whole mining population of the district; and not only those who may have grievances, but the far greater portion who have none, and between whom and their employers there is really no difference, have now placed themselves in an attitude of defiance; and have successively visited in large bodies, and stopped every colliery within ten miles of Hanley, have assembled there from day to day, to the amount of some thousands, armed with tremendous bludgeons (and often, I am told, with other weapons), and have succeeded in exciting that sort of terror and panic amongst those who are disposed to work, as many I believe are, that they dare not do so; and the destitution of their wretched families is becoming more intolerable every hour. The first outbreak was at Lane End, on the Monday in last week, and in the course of that and the three following days all the collieries in this part of the country were taken possession of by the malcontents, and wherever resistance was offered by the managers or bailiffs they were treated in the most brutal manner. This property, on which I am residing, was invaded on Wednesday evening about three or four o'clock. Being in the way, I immediately rode with my agent to the point of attack, and for two hours had the pleasure of seeing myself and many thousand pounds' worth of machinery and other chattels at the absolute disposal of as ferocious a set of ruffians as you ever beheld. On no former occasion of outbreaks or stoppages in the Pottery district has anything of this kind ever occurred here; and I can only account for it now on the supposition with which I set out—that a feeling of discontent amongst the working population (occasioned no doubt by those reductions in the price of labour which the continued depreciation of all manufactured articles has rendered absolutely necessary) has spread itself very extensively; and that no quarter is uninfected.

"You are aware that if the colliers do not go to work again immediately, from 20,000 to 30,000 potters must be thrown out of employment; and I am sorry to say that many of them are quite as ill-disposed and as ripe for mischief as their neighbours. Lord Granville's iron works have been protected since Saturday by a force stationed on the race-course, and are now blowing out, because his agent is told that protection by a force stationed on the spot can be afforded to him no longer; and thus from 300 to 400 hands will be put permanently out of work; and should our supplies of coal and iron stone fail, my own furnaces and Mr. Kinnersly's, employing about 600 hands each, must also be discontinued. This is a pleasant look for the rate-payers of the Potteries and the neighbouring parishes; a sort of sauce for their Income-tax, which, I fear, will not be much relished. I have not been out to day myself; but my agent has just informed me that none of our men are yet at work, and that a large meeting of colliers is now collecting in a field near this estate, whether with evil intentions or not towards me I cannot tell. Again and again have I urged the magistrates now assembled to interfere at once with all their force, and prevent. those meetings; but they assure me that they have no right to do so. I cannot agree with them, but must of course submit. Had they so interposed a week ago, all would have been settled by this time; their seeming indecision has given confidence to the rebels, and may produce the most serious consequences—Five, P. M. Since the above was written I have had my house surrounded, and been obliged to return full gallop from Newcastle. The party I have said was assembling near me, came here in my absence; and though they have only alarmed my family, it seems that they have done a good deal of mischief at my works. We who live in the country have nothing for it now but to put ourselves in a state of armed defence; and, as I have usually thirty or forty servants, &c., within a minute's call, I dare say I shall be able to protect myself. The magistrates, I again say, can be of no use unless they disperse the mobs as they assemble in a morning; but this I firmly believe they will not do."

"Camden-place, July 20, 1842.

"We are at a dead stand. The master colliers, so far as I can learn, are not in a situation to meet the demands of the men; and in short, as they have assured me, they cannot, without making a sacrifice that they ought not, and will not make; and that, in fact, they will, as the lesser of evils, blow out their furnaces, rather than raise the price of labour, while already losing 10s. to 15s. on every ton of iron they sell. Earl Granville is now blowing out his furnaces, which will throw 400 men out. Sparrows are out—300 men. Another person (Thompson), with half the number, stopped some time ago. Our friend Heathcote's will be out (unless the men return) next week, and Kinnerly's the same, 700—in all, 2,000. The other miners are unequal, 2,000, all out. So we have now at least 3,000 men out, and in a week or ten days there will be 1,500 more. Added to this, the Spirit has been carried to Cheadle, Norton, Biddulph, Silverdale, and alt round the neighbourhood; and I hear it will extend to Newport (Shropshire), Coalbrook-dale, &c. sad' it would seem there is no knowing where it may end. Things often are good or bad by comparison. One would think wages, from 4s. to 3s. per day, was not so objectionable as is represented, especially comparing them with Bilston, 2s. 9d., and Wales s. for good men; but provisions are now high, the habits of people are formed, the men are afraid of going lower. Many of them have but half or two-thirds work; and adding a reduction of price to this state of things is to them intolerable. There are now 10,000 potters of all grades out, and by the week's end the number will be 20,000. Only think what a state we shall be in! And how we shall stand our ground, or the neighbourhood be kept in peace, I know not. The presence of the military has a most preventive influence. Before they came shops were entered, beggars turned plunderers, and people were in alarm both for their persons and property. This lawless state of things has subsided; the colliers meet, and parade about, and visit other districts, and wish they could turn in with such men as we; but they flare not, and so we go on peaceably, still without any disturbance, although it is impossible to say how soon peace may give way to outbreak, and our present quiet to a storm. And what is little, if any less painful, the masters are weak, and almost glad of a cessation from work; and the shopkeepers indifferent whether they sell or no I If they sell, they know it is to credit; and if they do not sell, they will have their stuffs, which perhaps will be better. Today I have had six hours' work at the board of guardians, and I can assure you there is plenty to do there; fifty increase this week; the house overflowing; money almost impossible to be collected; out-door relief obliged tube extended, and greatly; the bakers poor, potters and colliers applying by scores; want extending; the poor multiplying; and no one can say where the calamity will end! Certainly, you and I hope a very large number of worthy Members will support Duncombe's motion. I heartily wish it success. It may not meet it: still I hope the Government will pass some act of grace before the Parliament separates; if not, I shall say they will deserve the penal settlements and never to see Old England again. If anything peculiar occurs, I will write you again. In the meantime, you and friends do the best you can for us. And am, my dear Ricardo, truly yours, "—"

"Longton, July 20, 1842.

"Since I last wrote to you, matters have remained much in the same state in this district, the colliers still refusing to work but on their own terms. They have organised a committee, which sits daily to direct their proceedings, and I understand that emissaries have been sent to Bilston and other districts to prevail upon the miners to join in the movement; there appears to be a determination of purpose which will not be easily overcome. The pressure upon the parish funds has already become quite alarming. Our workhouse is full, and it has consequently become necessary to give outdoor relief to a considerable extent, which, when it becomes generally known, will greatly increase the number of claimants, and the relief thus obtained will enable them to persist in their purpose. The magistrates have determined upon swearing in a number of special constables, a measure which I think more calculated to increase the excitement than to allay it. If anything of moment occurs I will not fail to communicate it to you."

Is not this a fearful prospect to look forward to for the winter; for I believe it only to be the beginning of our troubles. So long as you tax profits, so long will you diminish wages; and when you reduce wages, the natural consequence is to bring distress upon the country, and with distress come its natural concomitants, the breaking up of the law and riots. And you have taxed profits to an unprecedented degree. Your Income-tax, your Corn-laws, and your overgrown poor-rates, the fruit of those laws, are all taxes upon profits. We were told that the Income-tax was not to be felt by the poor, but I maintain what is now passing in Staffordshire to be a proof that it is necessarily deducted from the wages of the poor. The manufacturer must have a return for his capital and time; and if you tax that return he must economise on that which produces it; and the only retrenchment he can make is by employing less labour, or paying less for that which he does employ. It is one of the two-edged arguments of the right hon. Baronet, that the poor would not feel the Income-tax, and would be benefitted by the tariff. I believe that all taxation, or remission of taxation, is, directly or indirectly, felt by all classes of the community; and this much appears to be dear, that if the poor be benefitted by the remission of a tax on their employers, so they must be affected by the imposition of a tax on their employers. But if you really wish to show that sympathy with the sufferings of the people which you profess—if you really and honestly wish to relieve that distress—you must untax the articles on which the wages of labour are expended. This is the point to which I wish to come. lf you can show me that, by so doing, you will cause more mischief to the state than you can do good to the community, I will yield to you at once; but if you cannot disapprove that which we assert, namely, that, while you diminish the price of the necessaries of the people, you open new markets for our manufacturers, give employment to our operatives, add stability to our currency, and diminish the poorrates—then, I say, you have no right to withhold the free-trade in corn upon pretence of protection to agriculture. Protection to agriculture is a phrase which can no longer deceive. Protection to agriculture means protection to rents. But the profits of the manufacturer and the wages of the operative are rent too, and no logic can defend the injustice of swelling the first by deducting from the last, and by far the largest portion of the community. I do not mean to enter on details on the subject of the Corn-laws. I take my stand on the broad principle—the greatest happiness for the greatest number. The landowners say that they must have a protection of 25,000,000l., to enable them to compete with the foreigner. The manufacturers say, if you are allowed this protection we cannot compete with the foreigner at all; for you, by refusing to allow a fair exchange of indigenous commodities, force the foreigner to manufacture for himself, while you fetter us, as producers, by the high price of those articles on which the wages of labour are expended. But this protection is allowed, and what is the consequence? The people are in distress from want of employment; the manufacturers from want of the demand necessary to give that employment; consumption diminishes, burdens increase, the revenue falls off, and the whole community —working people, tradesmen, manufacturers, agriculturists, and all—are heavily taxed to uphold high rents, and to propitiate the Parliamentary influence of the landowners of England.

Sir J. Graham

The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made a direct appeal to me with respect to the district with which he (Mr. Ricardo) is connected, and has referred to the statement which I made on Saturday. What I stated on that occasion was, that although in the district alluded to great distress undoubtedly prevailed, the accounts which had reached me afforded no ground for alarm as to the maintenance of tranquillity. The hon. Gentleman has read to the House several communications on the subject of the distress which exists in that district, but I think the House ought to be clearly informed of the causes which have occasioned that distress. It is true that in the district alluded to — where the industry of the people is remarkable, and where an extensive field for labour exists—the maintenance of that industry depends mainly (steam being the moving power employed in the various manufactories) on the production of coal, which is also extensively used in the manufacture of iron. The hon. Gentleman said that he would frankly read to the House the information communicated to him, and he had not concealed the fact that designing men have, in that district, induced the colliers to strike simultaneously for an advance of wages. The hon. Gentleman said that the statements he read afforded a specimen of the reality of the distress which prevails throughout the country; but I call upon the House to consider what is the matter in dispute in this particular district between the collier and their employers. The general rate of wages in that district has been 4s. per day, and the question now in dispute is, whether the colliers shall receive 4s. or 3s. 6d. a day. That is the whole subject of dispute. There is no want of employment; there is ample demand for labour; but a dispute has arisen whether the wages shall continue to be 4s. or whether they shall be reduced to 3s. 6d. a day. It is not my wish to enter into the origin of the dispute. [An hon. Member here made an observation which was inaudible in the gallery.] I will say, then, that I think the dispute originated in a circumstance which has subjected a portion of the colliers to great hardship. The custom in the district has hitherto been, that before any reduction of wages or discontinuance of employment took place, a fortnight's notice should be given by the employer. A gentleman, whose name I will not mention, who employs a considerable number of men—I believe about 300 —departed from the established usage, which was considered almost as binding as law, and, without giving a notice of more than 48 hours, insisted on reducing the wages 6d per day. Such a departure from the established usage was considered an act of injustice by the colliers, and was resented by them; and this has given rise to the unfortunate disputes now existing in the district. When I replied, on Saturday, to the question of the hon. Gentleman, I entertained sanguine hopes that these differences would have been speedily adjusted; and from what I have heard from high authority, I believe, that if the parties had been left to themselves, the dispute would by this time have been settled. A most mischievous and active interference has, however, taken place, by parties who are unconnected with the district, which has increased and aggravated the dissensions; and though I do not despair of an early arrangement being effected, I do not entertain such sanguine hopes as I did on Saturday, that this unfortunate dispute will terminate so speedily and satisfactorily as I could wish. I may be allowed to state—and I do so with great satisfaction—that up to this time not only have no serious riots occurred, but no injury whatever has been done to property. It is true that considerable excitement has existed, and some disturbance has occurred, but no injury has been done to persons or property, and up to the date of the latest accounts, received this morning, the peace of the district has not been violated by any outrage. It was stated by the hon. Gentleman that the wages in the district to which he referred were inadequate to enable the labourers to obtain the means of subsistence; but I put it to the House whether this can be justly asserted when the rate of wages is such as I have mentioned? The hon. Gentleman distinctly stated that there had been no reduction in the price of corn. I believe, however, that since this question was last debated, and it has been discussed almost weekly for the last five or six weeks, a very material fall has taken place in the price of corn. I am informed that, within the last ten days, the price of corn at Marklane has fallen at least 5s. per quarter—a very material reduction. The hon. Gentleman has ascribed the reduction of wages to the effect of the Income-tax, but as that measure has no yet come into full operation, that argument can hardly be maintained. With respect to the motion now before the House, I must say that I think the case was presented very fairly by the hon. Member for Finsbury. The existence of distress is not denied, and the motion does not pretend to assert that the measures proposed by Government for its alleviation have yet had a fair trial. I have already said, that with regard to the Corn-law, the price of corn has fallen materially, and though the tariff has not yet come into full operation, its effect, thus far, has been to promote our commercial intercourse with foreign countries. The hon. Gentleman intimates in his motion, not unfairly, that the effect of these measures still remains to be ascertained. The motion, however, appears to me merely a peg on which to hang another discussion on the subject of the Corn-laws. The House has very recently pronounced its decision on that subject, and the hon. Gentleman—recollecting that decision—has not ventured to bring the question forward directly. What is the proposition of the hon. Member for Finsbury? I consider it an absurd proposal, and I think, when the House considers the responsibility of Her Majesty's Ministers, they will deem it unwise to give by their vote that pledge which the hon. Gentleman requires. It is the duty of the executive Government, if, after the prorogation of Parliament, they consider the necessities of the state require the intervention of the legislature and the presence of the representative assembly, to advise the Sovereign to reassemble Parliament, and they are responsible for the recommendation of such a measure. That is the constitutional mode of proceeding; and I think it would be unwise and unpolitic if the House, by its vote, should give any pledge on the subject. The constitution has left the responsibility of such a measure in the hands of the advisers of the Crown. The Government has brought forward all the measures which they consider it expedient to propose for relieving the distresses of the country, and it is admitted that fair and sufficient time has not yet been afforded for ascertaining the operation of those measures. The hon. Gentleman requires the House to give a pledge that, if those measures should be found ineffectual and insufficient, Parliament shall be again assembled at a very early period. I conceive that such a pledge is superfluous, unconstitutional, and inexpedient; and I have, therefore, no hesitation in giving a decided negative to the motion of the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hawes

gave the right hon. Baronet full credit for sincerity, when he expressed his disinclination to discuss this question; though it was with some surprise that he heard the right hon. Gentleman say, that one reason which rendered him desirous to avoid the discussion was, that it raised the question of the Corn-laws, which had been so recently under the consideration of the House. The great argument used by hon. Gentlemen opposite against any discussion of this subject was, that it involved the question of the Corn-laws, which had been recently settled by Parliament. This argument was advanced when a motion similar to that now under discussion was recently brought forward; and he thought, therefore, the lion. Member for Finsbury had acted wisely in changing the topic. He did not believe, that the right hon. Baronet opposite issued any orders to the! hon. Gentlemen who supported him, to I restrain them from speaking on this question, but the fact was, that the arguments could not be answered by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It was true, that this subject had been discussed over and over again, and it would continue to be discussed. They might dissolve Parliament if they pleased, but the question would be discussed at public meetings, and when Parliament was re-assembled, it would again be discussed in that House. He had heard with great surprise the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had first spoken from the opposite side during this debate, and who had attributed the distress of the country entirely to the foreign policy pursued by the right hon. Gentleman on that side of the House. The hon. Gentleman on a former occasion travelled through the whole continent of Asia to find some cause for the distress existing in this country; and he had to-night deserted Asia for Europe; but he had not been more successful than before. Be believed, that the Corn-laws were the chief cause of the existing distress. When he heard the comprehensive and discursive speeches of the hon. Gentleman to whom he had referred, he was struck by the absence of all mention of dates, facts, and names, which might enable hon. Gentleman on that side the House to grapple with his arguments. The hon. Gentleman said, that the policy pursued by her Majesty's late Ministers was anti-commercial; that this policy had been commenced when the Whigs came into office, and that from that period might be dated the decline of our trade, and the commencement of our distresses. In 1825, a proposition was made by the Prussian Minister to Mr. Canning, that we should admit corn and timber from Prussia, that country admitting our manufactures. The reply of the British Government was, that they must at once declare they could never entertain such a proposition. The commercial Government of that day, therefore, entirely rejected the proposition of Prussia. At the period to which he referred, the northern states of Europe were essentially agricultural communities; but when ten years subsequently Dr. Bowring visited those states, he reported that they were extensively engaged in manufactures, that their manufacturing power was increasing, and that they were therefore unable to consume the manufactures of this country. He asserted, then, that the party with which hon. Gentlemen opposite were associated, had obstructed and trammelled the commerce of this country; and though at the period to which he referred the right hon. Baronet, now at the (head of her Majesty's Government, was, he believed, in the Ministry of Mr. Canning, he had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman was desirous to relieve the commerce of this country as far as his party would permit him. Since the time to which he alluded, this House had grappled with the questions of the Corn-laws and of the timber duties; but why? Because the people, who were suffering deep distress, had demanded the consideration of those questions, and the House did not venture to refuse their request. Until very recently, the consideration of the Corn-laws was always vehemently opposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to 1841 those hon. Gentlemen staunchly resisted any alteration of the existing laws. To that period they were the sole friends of agriculture; but, having obtained place by a covert policy, which he thought unworthy of statesmen, they cast aside their former policy and principles, and adopted liberal measures. Those hon. Gentlemen now asserted, that they had always entertained liberal principles. All he could say was, that during the last ten years, no liberal measure had been brought forward, which they did not strongly oppose, or which they did not support with such lukewarmness and indifference as showed that they were compelled by their fear of the people to adopt such a course. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had, with the tact of a practised debater, seized on a passage in one of the letters quoted by the hon. Gentleman who preceded him (Mr. Ricardo). which stated that some design- ing men had taken advantage of the state of the people to tell them—what? That there were great evils existing in the State. And they told the truth. If these men who were now engaged in a dispute with their masters were led—by the circumstance of this local quarrel, to contemplate questions of political importance, and to render their aid to those persons whose object it was to abrogate the Corn-laws, them " designing men" would have rendered great service to the country. Why did this House permit any grievances to remain on which agitation could be kept up? It had been always said that Ireland was the great theatre of agitation, and the hon. Member for Cork had been openly branded as an agitator—and why? Hon. Gentlemen opposite furnished him with the subjects of agitation; and, whatever they might think of that hon. and learned Gentleman, hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House knew that the hon. and learned Gentleman had done much in infusing into the minds of the people of Ireland a sense of independence, and a love of liberty, to which they were strangers before it was elicited in them by the eloquence of the bon. and learned Member. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that this motion was merely a peg on which to hang a discussion on the Corn-laws. He would at once avow that he would take every opportunity of discussing the Corn-laws in that House, and that he would seize on every peg by which lie could hang a speech on that topic; and, however he might be treated by the House, he was convinced he should not suffer in the estimation of the people. He had never been among those who had said that the measures of her Majesty's Government were without benefit, He bad said that the Corn-law measure was good, and he repeated it, and that the tariff was good, and he repeated it; but he complained that all these alterations bad been made with reluctance, and did not go far enough. The Corn-law of the present Government would, he durst say, admit more corn; then came a statement, that the Corn-law of the present Government admitted foreign corn at 6s., while the Corn-law of the late Government would only have admitted it at 8s.; but they ought to consider that this 6s. was only got at by a corresponding rise in the price of corn, The right hon. Baronet said, since the bill bad come into operation, corn bad fallen 5s. a quarter. Why, the sunshine bad done that. A few cloudy days since the bill had come into operation would have prevented the right hon. Gentleman having that peg on which to hang an eulogium on the bill of his Government. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury said that the foreign policy of the late Government was the cause of the distress; the hon. Member was the only Member of the House who would assign a reason so puerile. The great cause of the existing distress had been the long neglect of the commercial policy of the country, till the distress forced the Government to grapple with it, with a view to put it on a foundation of honesty—but a minimum of honesty in order to maintain monopoly. He did not believe that this Corn-law could be long maintained against the enlightened views of the community. Every day the tide of popular opinion was setting in stronger and stronger against it, and the time would come when they should get the people by frequent discussions enlightened enough to see that the new Corn-bill and the tariff were very little bootie to them. He did not speak under the great pressure of local distress; it was his good fortune not to be able to say, as others had said, and said truly, that multitudes in their districts were starving; but since the debates on this subject had taken place, he had looked into the state of the poor-rates of the borough which he represented, and he owned he was staggered at their increase. Comparing the year 1842 with the year 1839 he found that the weekly average of out-door poor relieved in the parish of Lambeth had increased on the whole year 12,217; and the weekly average of the in-door poor of the present year as compared with 1889 had increased 8,000. Comparing the total number of poor relieved in 1842 with 1839, they had increased 20,000. He found in 1840, in the parish of Camberwell, one of the wealthiest parishes in England, that the weekly average of out-door poor was 570, whilst the present weekly average was 640. He found in the other parish (St. Mary's, Newington) that the amount of poor-rates from 1840 to 1841 was 15,200l.; from 1841 to 1842 it amounted to 18,725l. Was that indicative of distress amongst the labouring population? Who paid these increased poor-rates? The middle classes. What rendered the poor-rates so heavy? The cost of provisions. And what enhanced the cost of provisions so much as the Corn-laws? The right hon. Member for Kent supported the Corn-law on the ground that it was necessary for the protection of the landed interest; that meant that the rent derived from land growing corn might be increased by the Corn-law; and therefore the Corn-law increased the price of bread, and every increase of the price of bread was so much out of the pockets of the rate-payers. In the Poor-law reports of 1835 the House would find it asserted, on the authority of a Poor-law commissioner, that there was in Lancashire a vast increase in steam power, in the building of mills, and the investment of capital, and a great increase in the number of persons employed. lf they looked at this vast amount of manufacturing prosperity they would see what was the result of a good harvest and the consequent low price of corn then—it was coincident with manufacturing prosperity. It was most remarkable, that a low price of corn was always coincident with prosperity in manufactures; it was, therefore, a fair inference, that to prevent the country obtaining low-priced corn was a positive iniquitous interference with the happiness of the people. lf they compared the price of corn in each year since 1830, it would be seen that as they mounted in the scale of price so did the distress of the country increase. When corn was dear, then came distress and declining trade. Hon. Members opposite might complain of men, he complained of the cause of the distress. But there was another most important subject, which ought to be viewed in connexion with our present commercial difficulties—that was, the tendency to increase the cost of human labour by increasing education, and by other means; at the same time, they did not extend their markets and give scope for the increase of the profits on capital. The only effect of this must be to drive capital from the country, or to convert intelligent and enlightened labourers into hostile foes to the Constitution. There was only one thing to counteract this tendency—namely, to resort to the power of machinery; but all their restrictive laws tended only to restrain the power of machinery. lf they shut up the markets of the world, with the powers of production which this country possessed, there must be distress at home; if they opened the home markets they might command every market. The Government was sensible of this; but it appeared to him that we had a strong Government bending to the interests of party. When he looked back on the mea- sures of the present Session of Parliament, he saw nothing but good intentions marred, good measures frittered away, and good principles broken. He saw the worst thing that could happen in a weak Government exhibited in a strong Government. He held in his hand a return with reference to the duties on sugar which had been moved for by the hon Member for Wolverhampton. From this, it appeared that Gentlemen of known mercantile character had gone to the Board of Trade and stated (and those gentlemen were not to be classed amongst designing men) that they would sell cargo after cargo of sugar at 14s. and 15s. per cwt., which they asked the Board of Trade to get into consumption to meet the wants of the poor. These gentlemen said, " Only open our trade in this respect, and take the sugar for manure or to fatten cattle? What was the answer of Lord Ripon to this application? " He was directed by the Lords of the Treasury to state that they could not recommend such adaptation and such practical admission of foreign sugar." Though not a pound of this sugar was to be consumed by the people, it was not to be applied to the purposes of agriculture even, from their adherence to monopoly and to a restrictive and unjust system. He thought when hon. Members went again before their constituents they would find, that they did not look on their past services with any degree of satisfaction; that they would be of opinion, that though hon. Members opposite had made some advance towards free-trade principles, yet, at the same time, they had shrunk from carrying them into operation, and that those very principles on which they had relied for obtaining their seats in that House they had shrunk from carrying into practice.

Mr. M. Philips

said, he should be happy to give way to any Member on the opposite side of the House who might wish to address them. Every day and every week had added force to the statements relative to the distress of the country which had been previously made in that House. Whatever inconvenience was suffered by hon, Members opposite from these protracted discussions on this subject, he was one of those who felt it his duty, on every occasion, not to shrink from taking his share in every debate on the distress of the country. Be had been requested, in concurrence with his hon. Colleague to endeavour, by every means in his power, to prevent all discussions on other subjects, and to prevent the granting of the supplies till Borne remedy for the existing distress should be proposed by Parliament. In Manchester in two short days a petition praying for some remedy for the existing distress bad been signed by 62,500 persons. It was only a year ago that they had been compelled to bring under the consideration of Parliament the distress which prevailed in the country, and he would ask if the distress had not increased in a compound ratio since that period? The Session was about to close, and if they returned to their respective districts without passing some measure of alleviation of the distress other than those measures which had already passed the House, and were to tell the people that these were the only remedies they had for them, the answer that would he given them would be, that the time they had spent in that House was time misspent, and that there was nothing in the measures they had passed to relieve the distress of the country. With reference to the tariff, he was one of those who had supported its clauses, but at the same time he felt that it was but a scintilla of what they ought to have had. On the article of coffee, was it to be expected that the working classes would obtain any material reduction? They had not accompanied it by any reduction in sugar, and how was it to he expected that there could be increased consumption of the one if they denied the people the power of increasing the consumption of the other? The shopkeepers of his town had sent up a deputation, who had been desirous of placing themselves in communication with the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, for the purpose of representing the state of their trade, and he (Mr. M. Philips) was extremely sorry to find that the answer of the right hon. Baronet was that it would be extremely inconvenient to receive them. They had consequently, he was sorry to say, lost their errand; but they had stated to him how greatly their business was falling off, and explained that persons who formerly bought in considerable parcels now came only for the smallest possible parcels, costing the smallest possible coin of the realm. That betokened, in his opinion, the worn out condition of the people. When he looked to the nature of these small transactions—in fact, they were inconceivably small—which were taking place in our manufacturing towns, he saw that the cost to the poor man was enhanced at a great rate per cent. by the very smallness of the quantities that he bought; the very weighing out of articles—the turn of the scale, as it was called by shopkeepers—affected the poor man seriously. The shopkeeper was obliged to charge more in dealing in this small way than when selling in a more wholesale mode. After all that had been said about the advantage that was to be derived from the change of duties in the tariff, he was very much afraid that the people, in the position in which they were at present, could derive but a very small portion of advantage from the change. It was not within the reach of the poor. Then the middle classes were participating, and participating most closely, in the evils felt by those immediately beneath them. Take the case of provision dealers; and with respect to them he would ask, whether it could be expected that they should be able to maintain their present position under the circumstances of the existing distress, which forced the people to buy by pennyworths where they formerly spent far more? He said that this class must speedily sink to the ranks of the people. What would be the consequence? If the provision dealers were unable to maintain their position and make their customary purchases and payments, it would not be long before the effect would reach the flour dealer, then it would come to the miller; and if the distress came to the miller it could not he far from the farmer; and when it reached him he would no longer be able to pay his rents. This would be the consequence; and he felt it his duty not for one moment to conceal from hon. Members opposite, who were not willing to look the danger in the face, the perilous position in which they stood. The country had been told, on various occasions, for a twelvemonth past, that the master manufacturers were regardless of the interests of those whom they employed; they had been told that it would he a desirable result if places such as he represented (Manchester) were blotted out—that if such places did not exist the country would not be the worse off; hut if those assertions were made so freely out of the House, why did Gentlemen shrink from disclosing similar sentiments in the House? They had been told that the master manufacturers were monsters of cruelty, and that they ought to sacrifice every farthing of the property they had acquired in order to maintain the parties they had drawn around them for the purpose of employing their labour. Hon. Gentlemen might depend upon it the master manufacturers were nearer that point than they imagined. Several parties that he knew would he unable, he was sure, to maintain their position as employers of labour until Christmas, unless some important change took place before then. They had been told by the public press, the organs of the party he alluded to, that if the individuals who came up to town as delegates seeking interviews with the Cabinet on the subject of the distress of the manufacturing districts were sent to the treadmill, it would be the best possible recipe for them. Now, he would have no objection to accompany those individuals to the treadmill, on condition that those who sent them there should be obliged to go down to their mills and experience the difficulties of managing their concerns. The hon. Member for Nottinghamshire (Mr. G. Knight) had said, that if he was a despotic monarch—which God avert—he would hang every prophet of evil he could find. He trusted that, whenever the hon. Member might be, invested with despotic power his reign I might he very short; but the hon. Member, though he might get rid of the prophets, would not get rid of the distress by this means. As the hon. Member was rather fond of affixing sobriquets on others, he ought not to be surprised if persons were to be found ready to exclaim.— Oh, for the pencil of ' H. B.' to sketch The hon. Member acting as Jack Ketch. But the hon. Member had said, that the trade of Nottingham was improving. He wished the hon. Member had stated his grounds for that assertion. He had been asked by many persons whether trade was not improving in Manchester. He had not the slightest hesitation in replying that he knew of no improvement, and whoever had said so must, he believed, have been labouring under some strange hallucination. The country had been told that there had been of late an improvement in the Russian market; but the fact was, that this was the period of the year at which purchasers for the Russian market must be made if they were to be made at all, and therefore there was nothing remarkable in there being a demand for that market just now. So far from there being any real improvement in trade at present, if some decided improvement did ma take place, profits must be more and more reduced, until that stage arrived at which it would be impossible for the master manu- facturers to keep up their establishments. Cotton twist had never been known to be lower than in the present week, and he said that there could be no improvement in that as matters stood at present. They might talk about a good harvest; God grant it might be good; but had they not had a series of bad harvests? That being the case, it was not possible that a single good harvest could set all right again. If the harvest turned out the best that the country had been blessed with for years, could they expect that it would restore prosperity to the country? It was imposible; impulse to trade was what was wanted, and foreign demand it was that must give it. That would create prosperity. Much had been said of the in- creased importations of cotton. In answer to that, he pointed to the melancholy fact, that the exports were chiefly of cotton twist, the manufacture of which employed the least labour, and he looked in vain for the manufacture of this twist into cloths at home, to be sent, as ought to be the I ease, into those countries that wanted I them, and were ready to give us in return for them the means of subsisting our people. He could not, therefore, anticipate relief from our present distress from the effects of a good harvest. That he could not conceive could operate as a remedy; but if this country changed its policy, and held out our manufactures to those countries who had in their hands the means of supporting our people, he was distinctly convinced that trade would revive; and he said, moreover, that the landed interest would feel the benefit of I this, but would never enjoy prosperity I while the millions were in distress. They had been told that machinery was the I cause of distress. What was the conduct of the agricultural interest with regard to machinery? Look to the speech of the president of the Agricultural Association at I the late meeting Bristol. He was deeply interested in that association, of which he had been a member from the first—but what did the members say? Did they not talk of the improvements that had been made in agricultural machinery, and were not innumerable prices offered for machines for the improved cultivation of the land? He rejoiced to see this; and he wished hon. Gentlemen opposite who belonged to the agricultural interest God speed in encouraging attempts for making cheaper the food of the people; and if he applauded their conduct in this he asked them, in return, not to throw a slur on those who had gone a-head of them in the application of machinery to manufactures. They ought not to forget that the mechanics had been enabled to give support to a vast mass of natives of the agricultural districts. He was always glad to see that. He had never felt any jealousy of people coming from any part of England to seek employment in the manufacturing districts; but he did not like to see them forced to go back to their agricultural parishes. He might say that nothing was so distressing to him as to see those who had been living in comfort in the manufacturing districts forced back from want of work upon their parishes, and becoming a burden on the agricultural districts, Only give full scope to manufacturing industry —they asked no advantages if no restrictions were imposed—and the remedy for this would be at baud. If the market for labour was free, and free it ought to be as the use of capital, nothing of this kind would occur, He conjured the House not to go back to their constituents without being able to say that they had considered the distress, not merely as something existing at present, but with an eye to the future, and they found that they could not keep up the present laws restricting the importation of corn, and therefore they had been content to sink their private interests for the sake of the public good. That was his advice to the House of Commons. He had never joined the ranks of those who were anxious for an extension of the suffrage; he had never joined the ranks of the Chartists; but he saw every day men of the most estimable character, of the greatest moral worth, and most highly respected by their neighbours, who said that they had frequently approached the House of Commons, asking for justice for the country, and approached it in vain, and that nothing was left but to join those who advocated greater changes than ever he had advocated. It was said the people were ignorant, and not to he trusted with power. If the people were ignorant, it was the fault of the Legislature that had prevented the people from standing forth' in their native majesty; but the people said, that if they were to he governed by ignorant persons let it be the ignorance of those who had right on their side, rather than the ignorance of those who refused their demands from ignorance of the real wants and wishes of the people. Hon. Gentlemen might depend upon it they ran the greatest risk In refusing the people's prayer. What had they done for them? He could not believe that the small change in the Corn-laws could help the distress, or give food to the people, or enable them to obtain clothing. The people, they might depend upon it, were greatly disappointed at what had been done, and e must say that he had seen no period in his commercial career at which he had looked with so much dismay. This he had felt it his duty to point out. He could not see any market likely to be open to the industry of the people unless they gave them free-trade. They would have the people happy at once if they granted this great desideratum.

Mr. Wodehouse

was unwilling to delay the debate, and rose merely for the purpose of setting right an argument which had been drawn from a document that had been quoted both in the House of Commons and another place, by means of a reference to other portions of that document than had been quoted by the speakers to whom healluded. This document, which he had moved for in March, 1840, consisted of a minute of the Board of Trade on a letter addressed to Mr. Canning by Baron Maltzahn, the Prussian minister at this Court in 1825, which Lord Sydenham, after some delay, had at his request consented should be laid on the Table of the House and published; and his (Mr. Wodehouse's) reason for asking for the document was, that it contained the remonstrance of Mr. Huskisson in reply to the Prussian minister's note. Mr. Huskisson said,— The argument in substance is, that the Prussian system or commerce being in unison with our own, Prussia is entitled not only to the full benefit of our system, but to something more. Reciprocity is not denied to Prussia; at this moment it prevails between the two countries; but the Prussian doctrine appears to be, that reciprocity on her part entitles Prussia to something more on the part of England; and it is, therefore, proposed to us specially to favour the importation of two of the principal products of the Prussian dominions—timber and corn. The Prussian note assumes, that those advantages which Prussia proposes should be granted immediately in her own case will at some future period be extended to other countries; but their immediate concession to Prussia is the proposal, and what is the return offered? Why, that for a certain number of years (probably so long as the favour is limited to Prussia alone) she will engage 'not to change her present commercial system, and not to increase the existing duties upon British merchandise.'

Mr. Huskisson

went on to say,— Whether Prussia has or has not any engagements with other powers, either express or implied, which would make the proposed condition a merely nominal boon to this country is best known to herself; but, be that as it may, there can be no difficulty in stating that this Government is bound to several other powers by specific engagements which would entitle them of right to participate in all the advantages of commerce which Prussia wishes to obtain for herself, and that among the powers so entitled will be found those very countries, both in the old and the new world, which are the principal competitors in the supply of corn and timber to this country. Then followed a passage which had been quoted by the hon. Member for Lambeth, (Mr. Hawes), without the previous explanations of the difficulties which prevented the Government meeting the request of Prussia, and without the passage which followed it immediately, Mr. Huskisson went on to say,— Independently, however, of this insuperable difficulty, it becomes her Majesty's Government, in the judgment of this committee, when a proposal for altering our Corn-laws is made us by a foreign government as a condition of something to be done or omitted by that government, at once to declare that we can never entertain such a proposal. And in explanation, Mr. Huskisson went on to say,— It is the decided opinion of this committee, that upon that subject, involving as it does such immense interest, so closely connected with the well-being and comfort of all classes of the community, and surrounded, as it is, with so many peculiar difficulties, our legislation must at all times be governed entirely by considerations originating and centering among ourselves, and that it is only to be looked at incidentally as affecting our relations with other states.

Mr. Parker

agreed with the hon. Member for Lambeth that the present Corn-law was an improvement on the last, and that there were many excellent parts in the tariff; but he thought, that to go back to the country without having more to place in the hands of the people than articles which were the necessaries of life, would be most unsatisfactory. The late Government had been taunted with inactivity in not introducing their measures of commercial reform at an earlier period. It should be recollected, however, that they had made progress with them immediately they saw a disposition among Members to take a favourable view of their proposals.

That their judgment was correct was proved by the conduct of the right hon. Baronet. He had adopted all their measures, and would soon toll the knell of the last principle by the assertion of which he had placed himself in office. Such a good seed as he had sown this Session could not fail to hiring forth good fruit, so that there could be but little doubt that the measures of the late Government would soon be all adopted by the present. But those measures should have been passed last year. If the maligned and much calumniated budget of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had been adopted when it was proposed, it was his firm belief that the commerce of the country would not now have been in its present distressed condition, and that many who were now starving would be receiving the benefits of employment. The Corn-law they had rejected was founded on those commercial principles, without which they could not expect their trade to revive. It would have included the trade and markets of America within its range, and labour would have consequently been afforded to thousands who were now starving. And let him ask how long would the right hon. Baronet think himself justified in allowing the present state of things to continue? He and those who acted with him, and not the late Government, were responsible for that state of things, and they must bear the burden of the responsibility of allowing them to remain unaltered. His hon. Colleague had already so fully explained to the House the deplorable condition of the town he had the honour to represent, that he need scarcely follow him into that branch of the argument. He could not resist, however, reading to them one passage of a letter addressed to him by Mr. Fisher, one of the most intelligent and estimable men of that town. That gentleman said, that the payments to the casual poor in Sheffield for the last few weeks showed the following progressive increase:— In the week ending June 3, 371l.; June 10, 382.; June 17, 387l.; June 24, 398l; July 1, 424l.

Mr. Fisher

added to this account— When I was overseer in 1835, the weekly payments to the casual poor in the month of March averaged from 16l. to 20l.; therefore there is an increase from that period to 1842 of no less than 400l. a-week. Such evidence went to confirm his opinion, that the only legislative means which they had in their power for alleviating the present distress was a new arrangement of the duties on the importation of foreign corn—a step which he was convinced would materially benefit the operative classes, without inflicting the slightest injury on any other class of her Majesty's subjects. He should cordially support the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury.

Mr. Thorneley

rose for the purpose of showing what had been the operation of the new Corn-law in reference to our trade with the United States of America. By a return he had received from Liverpool, it appeared that since the 30th of April to the 4th of the present month, the imports of wheat into Liverpool from the continent of Europe was 175,484 quarters, while that from the United States within the same period amounted only to 73 quarters. It was only fair to state, that America chiefly exported flour, and not wheat; but that was because there was no regular demand from this country, which required wheat, and to which the offal would be of great service. The United States consequently prepared her exports in the shape of flour for the West Indies and South America. An increased traffic with the United States could not be expected so long as by the operation of the sliding-scale their corn and flour were excluded, and the trade given entirely to the near ports of the continent of Europe. He was an advocate for the total repeal of the Corn-laws; but if even the proposition for a fixed duty of 8s. had been adopted, this country would now be enjoying a most. lucrative trade with America. Mr. Tyler, the President of the United States, an exceedingly enlightened man, had vetoed the high tariff that was brought into Congress. That gentleman had been a member of the Free-trade Convention of America, and there was no doubt that he would do all in his power to further the principles of free-trade. He therefore regretted the more particularly that we should continue to exclude America from those advantages which the nearer ports of Europe enjoyed in the article of corn, and at the same time deprive this country of the immense benefits which would accrue to it from an increased trade with the United States. The right hon. Baronet opposite had recently congratulated the House on the fact of a commercial treaty having been concluded between this country and Portugal; but Portugal, be it observed, was absolutely insignificant as contrasted with the United States. He was happy to say, that men who had formerly differed upon these subjects, and upon politics generally, were now coalescing in their support of free-trade principles. He had himself supported various items in the tariff of the right hon. Baronet, when he was deserted by many of his own party; and he would now vote for the motion of his hon. Friend, in the hope that those principles would be further carried out.

Sir R. Peel

The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken takes credit to himself for having forgotten all party distinctions and given me his cordial support upon many points of the tariff when, as he says, I was deserted by very many of my own party. I cannot quite reconcile that just panegyric which he has passed upon himself with the declarations which have been made in the course of this debate-that I and my Colleagues have done nothing whatever to remedy the distress now prevailing in the country; that we have acted merely in subservience to the agricultural interest; and that hon. Gentlemen see nothing in our propositions but a desire to conciliate Parliamentary support, and to sacrifice to that consideration the permanent interests of the country. A reference has been made to the measures proposed by her Majesty's Government for the relief of the commercial and financial difficulties of the country; and the hon. Member for the Potteries has been, or has pretended to be, very severe respecting the introduction of the Income-tax. He and other hon. Members have asked—" Is this the measure you propose for the benefit of the country? Have you nothing but an Income-tax to offer us? " And the hon. Gentleman proceeded to demonstrate, as it is very easy with reference to any tax to demonstrate, that that tax cannot operarate as a relief, and that it must have some tendency to diminish the demand for productive industry. I admit it; but I must ask in return, what were the circumstances under which I proposed the Income-tax? Was I responsible for having caused the deficiency in the revenue of the country? My power in 1835 was but short, and I have no right to take credit for any measure adopted at that period; but in 1835 there was a great surplus of revenue over expenditure in this country; and there was a great surplus of revenue over expenditure in India. In 1841, however, the deficit in this country amounted to nearly 2,500,000l. and in India to the same amount. We found, in fact, the surplus in each part of the empire converted into a deficit. I do not state this in the spirit of party recrimination; I am merely stating the facts. It may be that the simple statement of the truth is the severest censure that could be passed; but that is not my fault. I am stating the mere simple facts, without adding any imputation of misconduct upon those who held the administration of affairs. Such a state of things, however, fully justified the adoption of some strong measure for the maintenance of the public credit, and therefore I say, the imposition of the Income-tax was not a mere gratuitous act on the part of the present Government, but a measure rendered absolutely necessary by the circumstances of the case. It was doubtless a measure objectionable in its nature from the amount of revenue which it proposed to raise, and from the inquisitorial process by which that revenue was to be obtained; but still it was an inevitable measure, and for that reason I am not responsible for those objections to it. Then with regard to the tariff, Now that the tariff has become law it is viewed in a very different light from that in which hon. Members professed to hold it while it was under consideration. When that measure was brought forward, were not constant efforts made on the other side of the House to increase the dissatisfaction which a sense of alarm had necessarily produced on this side of the House? It was then declared by anticipation that I dare not touch powerful interests in the enactments of that measure. I perfectly well understood the object of the many questions that were put to me at that time on the subject of the proposed measure. One hon. Member asked me whether I meant to propose to reduce the duty on salmon; another hon. Member expressed his opinion that hops would remain untouched, while another asked me whether I meant to touch cattle and foreign meat. Now, the whole tenour of those questions was to imply, that in the proposed tariff it was the intention of the Government to defer to powerful interests, and that it had not the courage, in the discharge of its duty to the country, to risk any dissatisfaction on the part of its own supporters, of whom I must say that, although they did express some dissatisfaction, yet on the whole they gave the measure their general support. I am bound to say, at the same time, that I should have considered the permanent deprivation of their support as a great mis- fortune. I look, however, to what has been effected by the tariff. You may affect to disparage it now, but when, in any Session of Parliament, was there ever so great a relaxation of protecting duties on articles of commerce as has been effected during the present? You say we established by our tariff a good principle, such as ought to regulate the trade of this country. But, in establishing that principle, we also accompanied it by the declaration that we did not think that measure could tend immediately to mitigate the existing distress. We said that those principles, although admitted to be good, yet, if applied hastily and precipitately to the multifarious and complicated commercial relations of this country, would only increase the distress by creating it in other quarters. Though those principles might be good in themselves we accompanied their announcement by a declaration that you could not hastily and precipitately apply them without actually increasing the distress. Look to the tariff, I repeat, and see the amount of reductions made in the duties on raw materials—on those which are the elements of manufactures. Then with regard to the Corn-laws. Why the hon. Gentleman opposite admits that the new Corn-law is infinitely better than the former one, that it will lead to the introduction of foreign corn at a lower price, and insure at least a more regular, if a more moderate trade; but he goes on to add his belief that a still greater benefit would be derived by a still greater freedom—by what he calls a still greater improvement. The hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House has substantially admitted the same thing. Why then, if the tariff be admitted to have done so much, if it have removed the protecting duties on cattle and meat, and if the new Corn-law is admitted to be a great improvement upon that which before existed, must say it is somewhat extraordinary that at the close of a Session which has been almost entirely devoted to the consideration of these subjects, hon. Gentlemen opposite should all unite to disparage everything that has been done, and say that what remains to be done is the only thing that can remedy the distress of the country. I know how difficult it is at all to attempt to blame those who make statements in this House as to the distress of the country. It is impossible to deny the existence of great distress; but at the same time I must say that I think the tone that has been taken in the course of this debate with re- spect to the condition of the country is more desponding than the real circumstances of the country justify. Observe, I fully admit, and I deeply deplore the great distress which prevails; but I cannot concur with those who represent this country as being in a hopeless state of distress and suffering. On this subject I will refer to one or two facts connected with the general condition of the country, I will first compare the increase of the population during the last ten years with the increase of inhabited houses—a test of the improvement of the country which I think a very fair one; for if the number of inhabited houses in a country falls off in, proportion to the increase of the population, you might then fairly infer that the condition of that country was deteriorated. Now, it appears that in England and Wales the number of inhabited houses has in the great majority of counties increased in proportion to the increase of the population. From the population returns that are about to be presented to the House r am able to take a return of the increase per cent. of the population in 1841, as compared with 1831, and also a return of the increase of inhabited houses during the same period. It appears that in the period I have named, with respect to the English counties, that in 34 out of the 40 there has been an increase per cent. of the number of inhabited houses as compared with the increase of the population, while in the remaining six there has been a decrease. In Wales there has been a positive increase in every county. At the same time, I will at once admit that there might appear such an increase during a period of ten years, and yet there might exist very considerable distress.. I will now approach the arguments of the hon. Member for Manchester, but before doing so, I May as well notice what fell, from him on the subject of deputations. The hoe. Member complains that a deputation of shopkeepers from Manchester came here, and that I declined, to see them. I can assure the hon. Member that it, was with great regret that I declined to see them, but at the same time it is absolutely necessary to. place some restriction upon the employment of time. I do attempt to devote all the time I possibly can to the public service. Nine hours a-day at least during the sitting of Parliament are required for attendance In this House. The applications from define tannins are very numerous, and there ace public duties, required of a Minister out of the walls of Parliament of a most onerous and important nature. Therefore, the representatives or deputations of the people must not attribute it to disrespect or to any indifference to the sufferings of those whom they represent, if, when they seek interviews, it is utterly impossible for public men to reconcile the performance of their duties in this House and elsewhere with the general reception of all deputations that may apply to them for audience. I must say, too, that in deputations there is rather a disposition to forget the objects with which the interview is originally accorded, and that, instead of confining themselves to the statement of useful facts, they are apt to avail themselves of those interviews as affording opportunities for oratorical display. To simple state-meats a facts. I am always disposed to listen with patience, but of mere declaration we all hear so much in the House of Commons, that Gentlemen must not he ' surprised if I sometimes am disposed to turn rather an unwilling ear to it when coming from those (I speak it not in this-respect of either their powers or intentions) who are somewhat disposed to abuse the privilege of a deputation, to travel from the facts of a case, and indulge their own love of eloquence. I repeat that have not, personally, the least disinclination to hear gentlemen coming to me in that capacity, but I must entreat them to remember that Moe time of a public Date is public property. To return, however, to the hon. Member for Manchester. The hon. Member, pursuing that course of disparaging the tariff to which I have already referred, says—" You have reduced the duty on coffee, to be sure, but of what use is it too reduce the duty en coffee unless: you reduce that on sugar also?" But I will mention one or. two facts with regards to the actual consumption of sugar which,. besides that they bear upon the hon. Gentleman's argument, will also show how unwise it is to adopt a too despairing Wee with regard' to the condition of the country, at all events as far as the consumption of articles of food is concerned. Now, it appears that, notwithstanding there has been no reduction of the duty on sugar the quantity of sugar consumed in the year 1842 as compared with the year 1841 has much increased. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will, see in that fact a reason why he should, nut altogether des; pair of an increase he the consumption of coffee and also why we should be careful how we make use of too desponding language with regard to the general condition of the country. Take the comparative quantity of sugar consumed in 1841 with that consumed in 1842. The quantity of sugar consumed up to the 6th of April, 1841, from the same period in the preceding year, was 3,516,000 cwt., whilst the quantity consumed up to the same period in the year 1842 was 3,998,000 cwt., being an increase of 482,600 cwt. in the latter year. Then again, let us take as another test the increase in the amount of shipping in the port of London; but first I must observe, with respect to the increase of the consumption of sugar, that when such an increase takes place, even whilst the amount of duty continued the same as it had been in the preceding year, it is in some degree an evidence that the distress which is admitted to exist in the country has been overrated. Now with respect to the increase of shipping in the port of London. I do not at present speak from official documents, my information being derived from the reports of the St. Katherine's Deck Company. but I am perfectly satisfied that the report is one in the accuracy of which perfect confidence can be placed. It appears from this report, that on a comparison of the arrivals of vessels, in the first six months of 1841 and of 1842, the increase of vessels in the port of London in the latter amounted to 140 ships,. and that the amount of tonnage was in a corresponding proportion. But it might probably be said that a great proportion of these ships were foreign vessels. But it may probably be said that this increase is derived from foreign shipping; that foreign ships are employed to bring corn to this country, and that increase may be simultaneous with the decrease of British shipping; but that is not so; there has been a decrease of foreign ships to the number of sixty, white the increase of British ships is nearly 200. Without denying, therefore, the existence of distress, which I would by no means be understood to do, I contend that when we see such an increase in an article of general consumption without any reduction of the duty in the article having taken place, and when we see such an increase of ships and tonnage in the port of London, we ought not to endeavour to make it appear to foreign nations, nor to impress upon our own people at home, that the prospects of the country ace so gloomy as some hon. Gentlemen would have us conceive. In Liverpool an increase of the shipping, though only a slight one, took place during the first six months of the present year, as compared with the corresponding period of the year 1842, I have some hesitation, however, in holding out any prospect of immediate improvement in our present condition as likely to arise from the changes which have been made. We must not hastily ground hopes of improvement following directly upon the alterations which have been made in the Corn-law and in the tariff, though there appears already to be a tendency to a gradual increase in the importation of foreign corn. The principal charge against the old law was, that it held out no encouragement to a fair and steady trade, but, on the contrary, that its irregular fluctuations led to sudden large importations, in return for which we had to send out our gold. This evil seems likely to be remedied by the present law, and, as far as I have had an opportunity of judging, it appears to me that we may calculate upon a regular and gradually increasing importation. In expressing this opinion t would not he understood to draw a too sanguine inference from the short experience which the operation of the measure has afforded; but I am of opinion that we shall have such a regular influx of foreign corn as will not tend to derange the monetary system, and that in addition to the regularity of the supply we may also look for a gradual increase. From the accounts which appear in some of the public prints I rather infer a hope of an improvement in our commercial position than feel any inclination to indulge in the gloomy apprehensions which some Gentlemen express. I have this day seen in a public paper, by no means favourable to the operation of the Corn-laws or to the Government that which places the commercial condition of the country in a more favourable point of view than some hon. Gentlemen are inclined to survey it. The passage occurs in the city article, which renders it the more important, as this part of a newspaper is more than any other portion divested of party or political bias. The article runs thus:— City, twelve o'clock.—The symptoms of improvement in trade become daily more decided, and confidence is certainly reviving, but without producing any material advance in the prices of merchandise, which remains at very low rates. In the difficulty of finding employment for money in public securities or other solid investments, and the excessively low rate of interest, it is possible capitalists' may now once more turn their attention to merchandise, to hold it for better times. This is the opinion of a writer, who certainly gives it disinterestedly, inasmuch as he is by no means favourable to the Government. In addition to this, if we look to the more recent accounts received from those districts where the distress is stated to have been greatest, we shall find still stronger inducements to hope for more favourable prospects. What are the accounts recently received from Manchester, which is the centre of the districts where the distress has been most felt? Again, I must beg not to be misunderstood as underrating the distress, or as speaking with too great confidence with respect to the prospects of relief. I merely refer to the accounts which I lay before the House for the purpose of discouraging the desponding tone which has been so much indulged in. The paper from which I am about to quote, The Manchester Guardian, is one opposed to the policy of her Majesty's Government. The article, which is dated July 19th, runs thus: We are happy to be enabled to state that the improvement which manifested itself last week has continued down to the present time, and that a more healthy feeling prevails in the market than at any period for some time past. The large sales of produce made under the operation of the new tariff have liberated a considerable amount of capital which has been for some time locked up, thereby placing additional means at the disposal of the more active and enterprising merchants of the country: and, as a general impression prevails, that the prices of cotton manufactures are now at their lowest point, the inclination to make purchases for the foreign markets has become more general. It is not very probable that any substantial improvement in prices can take place until, by the result of a good harvest or by a change of the Corn-law, the great bulk of the working classes of the country, whose entire earnings are now absorbed in the purchase of food, shall be enabled to procure those supplies of clothing of which they stand so much in need." (Cheers.) I understand that cheer, and I can only say, that I should feel it unfair to repress that passage, and I refer to the whole article with the greater satisfaction, because it shows, upon the testimony of a disinterested witness, that a great improvement has taken place. Coming, as it does from a quarter which would altogether repeal the Corn-laws, it is gratifying to find a candid admission made that the improvement spoken of a week previously continues from the last week up to the present. I am ready to admit, that these statements furnish grounds too slight for confidence in the future; but I refer to them to show that it is probable the extreme point of depression had arrived, and that having passed, we may, without indulging a too sanguine hope, expect that better times will shortly arrive. With respect to what has been urged as to our trade with America, when I compare and reflect upon all that I have read upon that subject, though I will not deny the great advantage to be derived from a commercial intercourse with that country, and the hopes which might be indulged in for an extension of that intercourse, still, I think, the advantages have been overrated as far as regards the importation of corn from that country. What is the opinion of one of the most determined advocates of the repeal of the Corn-laws, when addressing himself to the point? He says,— It is needless to take up the reader's time by entering into any lengthened details with respect to the corn-trade of the United States. It is abundantly certain, that we need not look to that quarter for any considerable supplies. American wheat, though decidedly inferior to British wheat, is seldom under 40s. a quarter in New York, and is frequently much higher. Latterly, the culture of wheat has been decreasing in the United States, and a material decrease has taken place in the exports of flour. Indeed, everybody acquainted with such matters knows, that within the last half dozen years considerable quantities of flour have been shipped from Dantzic and other European ports for America. That is the opinion of Mr. M'Culloch with respect to the prospects of immensely extended commercial intercourse by admitting the corn of the United States. He may have taken too unfavourable a view —a more unfavourable view thank the facts will justify; but, on the other hand, when I see such confident statements put forward by the advocates for the repeal of the Corn-laws, I certainly am induced to distrust the prophecies by which we are told to expect a perfect degree of prosperity from a free admission of American corn. With respect to the motion itself, of course, I need scarcely say, that it is utterly out of my power to give my consent to it. The motion is rather a long one in terms, but when the sense of it is extracted, it comes to neither more nor less than this—a pledge on the part of the House to repeal the Corn-laws at an early period of the next Session. The hon. Gentleman has no other remedy for the distresses of the country than a repeal of the Corn-laws, and he indicates pretty clearly, in the terms of his motion, that the measure he will be disposed to recommend is the application of the sound principles of commerce, which have been partially acted upon by her Majesty's Government, to the food of the people, and he makes a confident prophecy that by the application of those principles a great stimulus would be imparted to trade and industry, and the calamities which the arrival of winter will inevitably produce would be averted. He proposes that the House should address her Majesty to summon Parliament at a very early period. Now, in the first place, on constitutional grounds, I think the House ought to exercise with great caution the power which it unquestionably possesses of addressing the Crown to summon Parliament. There have been instances no doubt, although not very frequent, in which Parliament has given advice to the Crown for the summoning of Parliament, but the case ought to be peculiar and the necessity very urgent, when the House undertakes to advise the Crown with respect to the exercise of that prerogative. If that should be frequently done, the House would come to he the judge of exercising the prerogative, and not the Crown. If, indeed, her Majesty's Government had lost the confidence of Parliament, I could perfectly understand the object of an address to her Majesty to take that course. But Parliament has not manifested a disposition to withdraw its confidence from her Majesty's present advisers. The Government is responsible for the advice it gives to the Crown with respect to the exercise of this prerogative as well as any other. If the circumstances of the country should, in the opinion of Parliament, require that it should be called together at a particular period, Parliament would have a perfect right to question the conduct of the Government in abstaining from giving that advice. I do not apprehend that the responsibility of Government would be increased by any such address as that which the hon. Member proposes, the responsibility of Ministers would remain the same. Her Majesty's Government ought to summon Parliament, if they believe that that step would mitigate the distress. I give no assurances, no pledge upon that subject, but I have no hesitation in saying, that I should think it a dereliction of my public duty as a Minister if, foreseeing that the summoning of Parliament would mitigate the distress of the country, I refrained from giving advice to the Crown to do so. But can you carry it further than that? Leave the responsibility to the Executive Government; if they fail to do that which is right, then question their acts; but I think it would be inexpedient that Parliament should share with the Executive Government the responsibility of exercising a prerogative of that nature. I deprecate also this motion as I have deprecated many others, believing that to carry it would aggravate the distress of the country. See what uncertainty the carrying of the motion would produce in respect to the application of capital. What is meant is, that Parliament should meet in November for the purpose of altering the Corn-laws. It is wrapped up in a great variety of phrases, but the country will understand, as clearly as I do, or as the hon. Gentleman does, that the object of the motion is neither more nor less than to attempt to impose on her Majesty's Government a necessity for calling Parliament together in October or November. But who would bring foreign corn into the market while that seemed impending? lf it be the sense of the House, that Parliament should meet at an early period for the purpose of repealing or materially altering the Corn-law, you will interpose a new discouragement to the regular operation of commercial dealings under the present law, and offer a fresh impediment to that relief which you anticipate from the free admission of foreign corn. The duty is now at 8s., and there may be a prospect of its rising, in consequence of the decrease in the price of corn. At present, therefore, there is an inducement to bring corn out of bond, for the purpose of introducing it into home consumption. But if the holders of this corn think it probable, that Parliament will interfere, and permit corn to be introduced at a duty of 4s. or 2s., or without any duty at all, is it probable that any man will subject himself to the loss of the 8s. duty, by taking out his corn now? It does appear, therefore, that the motion of the hon. Gentleman would have a tendency to aggravate public distress, by introducing a fresh element of uncer- tainty into commercial dealings, and by preventing foreign corn front being taken out of bond, under the operation of the present law. I wish hon. Gentlemen could think it consistent with their duty to abstain from triaging forward motions which, by exciting uncertainty as to the future conduct of Parliament, have, in my opinion, the effect of deranging commerce and increasing the pressure of distress. These are the grounds on which I must offer my decided opposition to the motion of the hon. Gentleman. I claim for the commercial and financial measures of her Majesty's Government, that fair trial by winch their' merits must ultimately be determined If the circumstances of the country require the intervention of Parliament, an I said before, it will be the duty of Ministers, cm their proper responsibility,' and in the exercise of their proper functions, to tender that advice to the Crown, but Parliament would be stepping out of its proper functions by interfering with the exercise of their discretion. On these combined grounds— the danger of exciting commercial disturbance by exciting false hopes, and undue interference with the prerogative—unusual, except under special and peculiar circumstances— I offer my decided opposition no this, motion.

Viscount Palmerston

, spoke to the following effect.* Nothing can be more, satisfactory to this side of the House than the debate, if debate it can be called., of this' evening. The argument has been all on one side, while on the other side there has been little but what a celebrated French diplomatist praised in a friend of his, namely,." a most agreeable silence." The right hon. Baronet at the head. of the Government. has certainly not been troubled this evening,, by his supporters, with any of those oratorical displays, of which he has complained so much as having been inflicted upon him by the members of deputations. But I find no fault with the Gentlemen opposite for their silence; there is an old maxim, and a very, good one, " When you bare nothing to say, say nothing," and as they have no arguments wherewith to meet the unanswerable reasoning on this side of the House, they have shewn a sound discretion in preserving an almost unbroken silence. With the exception of the Cabinet Ministers who have spoken, there has been hut one infringement of this silence; for *From a corrected report. the few words which fell from the hon. Member for Norfolk can scarcely be said to be an exception, as he only made some remarks upon a particular despatch which had been mentioned in the debate. The only exception then to this dead silence on the part of the supporters of the Government, was the speech of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, and even of that speech the greater part had. nothing whatever to do with domestic distress, the question under discussion, hut turned entirely upon Foreign Affairs. That hon. Gentleman seems to have one fixed idea; all the evils of the country, according to him, are owing to the diplomacy of the late Government. Whatever is wrong, whether at home or abroad, whether it be manufacturing distress, or commercial embarrassment, it is all the fruit of the diplomacy of the late Government, a diplomacy which he has characterised by an expression I am unable to understand; and which he stigmatizes as an anti-commercial diplomacy. I can understand what is meant by anti-commercial legislation;" I can understand what is meant by " an anti-commercial policy," but what " anti-commercial diplomacy" means, I cannot for the life of me comprehend. I feel, however, somewhat relieved from the pain which the hon. Gentleman's censure would other-wise hate given me, by finding that the, same condemnation, which he has pronounced ripen me, extends backwards to all with one exception, who have administered our foreign affairs since the year 1815. Indeed, his great complaint is, that the settlement of Europe which took place in 1815, was what he call's an act of anti-commercial diplomacy, and that the Congress which made that settlement, did not frame tariffs sufficiently advantageously to England. The hon, Gentleman seems to think that the Congress of Vienna was assembled to' settle tariffs. I should like to see the surprise with which the eminent and distinguished statesmen who composed that Congress, and who imagined that they were there and then assembled to arrange the great political interests of Europe, would have heard the censure which the hon. Gentleman has pronounced upon their transactions. But there was one exception to the sweeping censure which the hon. Gentleman has passed upon all our own Ministers for Foreign Affairs; that exception is Mr. Canning. Mr. Canning, says the hon. Gentleman, boasted that he had called into existence the markets of the new world, to make mends for the loss of the markets of the old world; and his, says the hon. Gentleman, was indeed a commercial diplomas. This, truly, is a new discovery; I bad always imagined that in the celebrated speech to which the bon. Member alludes, Mr. Canning boasted that he had called the new world into existence to redress the balance of the old. It was a great political, and not a commercial measure, that Mr. Canning prided himself on having, on that occasion, achieved. The hon. Gentleman is so haunted with this notion of commercial diplomacy, that as he went on I really expected to hear him attribute all the domestic distress of the country to our consuls abroad; and so far at least I have to thank him on behalf of that portion of the establishment of the department over which I had the honor to preside, for having, on this occasion, at least spared the consuls, and having vented the whole of his censure upon the individual who had the management of the foreign department under the late Government. As to the charges made against me, I meet assertion by counter-assertion. The hon. Gentleman, without giving any proof whatever, asserts that the diplomatic policy of the We Government was adverse to the commercial interests of the country; now I maintain on the contrary that it was eminently favourable to those commercial interests, and I assert that there never was an administration, which in the same space of time devoted move attention, and with more success to the commercial interests of the country, than did the administration which conducted its affairs from 1830 to 1840. I will meet the hon. Gentleman on the very point on which he has placed the issue. He has accused us of having omitted to conclude certain commercial treaties, which he thinks we might have obtained; evidently thinking that the attention of a Government to the commercial interests of the country may be measured by the number of commercial treaties which. it concludes. Well, what is the state of our commercial treaties? There are at present about thirty four commercial treaties of one kind or another subsisting between this country and foreign states: of these, eighteen were concluded: in all time, before the end of 1830, when we came in, and fifteen were concluded by us; since we went out, another been concluded with Portugal, and if we may be allowed to claim muse shore of the merit belonging to that treaty, which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth told us the other day was the result of a long pending negotiation, which had been conducted up to a certain point by the late Government, we may say that nearly half the commercial treaties now in existence between this country and other States, were either concluded by us, or were the results of our negotiations. But the hon. Gentleman has said that we did not succeed in some particular eases, and especially in our negotiation with France. He said that oar failure was our own fault, and that we might have concluded a commercial treaty with France, but that we declined to do so. He has been misinformed; these never was a moment at which the late Government, taking all matters into consideration, could have concluded with France such a commercial arrangement as would, in our opinion, have been advantageous to this country. The hon. Member doubts what I said on a former occasion of the indisposition of public men, and of the public mind in France towards the commercial interests of this country, and he especially seems sceptical as to what I stated generally on that occasion, without then going into particulars, as to the nature of a communication made to this Government about five years ago, by Count Mole, then Minister of France. I will now state to the hon. Member and to the House, the substance of that communication, and I will leave them to judge of the spirit of commercial jealousy towards England which it displayed. There was then a negotiation on foot for a commercial treaty between us and Spain; and this country was on the best possible terms with France. In that state of things the French ambassador at this Court read to me, by command of Count Mole, a despatch addressed by Court Mole to that ambassador, stating that the French Government had heard that we were in negotiation with Spain for a commercial treaty; that he deemed it due to that frankness which belonged to the friendly relations then existing between the two countries to state to the English Government fairly, that whatever influence France could exert in Spain would be employed to prevent the conclusion of any such treaty. It was quite true, Count Mole said, that England, wanted only to be put in re rd to her commerce with Spain upon the footing of equality with other countries; but such is the skill, such the capital, and such the enterprise of British commerce, that wherever England meets France or any other country, in a foreign market, on a footing of nominal equality, she is sure to enjoy a real superiority, and therefore the French Government would feel itself justified in exerting all the influence which it possessed in foreign countries to prevent England from concluding any treaty of commerce, not only with Spain, but with Belgium, or with any other State, Portugal alone excepted, the ancient and intimate political connection between England and Portugal appearing to Count Mold to give to England a sort of claim to a commercial treaty with Portugal. Such was the official communication made to me. It was made in a fair, open, straightforward manner; and if the French Government did entertain such sentiments, it did them honour candidly to declare them. But the statement I have made must show to the House how great were the difficulties which we had to contend with in negotiating a commercial arrangement with France. Count Mold, indeed, is far too enlightened a statesman to have himself entertained such sentiments as were expressed in his despatch; and he yielded, no doubt, to necessities which he could not control. But what must have been the difficulty of successfully conducting commercial negotiations with a foreign Government which is overborne by local influences and private interests so strong and irresistible. But if the failure of the commercial negotiations between the late Government and France was owing to the late Government, how happens it that the present Government have been now ten months in power without having been more successful? They came into power loudly expressing, and I have no doubt seriously entertaining, the most friendly sentiments towards Prance. They were free from the sins, if such they were, of their predecessors; and yet so far from having been able to make any satisfactory commercial arrangement with France, they are in this respect in a worse position now than when they came in; and have been met by a recent French ordinance extremely hostile to British commerce, and by a treaty between France and Belgium, specially intended for the purpose of extending still further the obstructions which the French ordinance is meant to oppose to British commerce. The hon. Member stated that the late Government was unable to conclude a treaty of commerce with Spain. After what I have said, the reason must be sufficiently apparent to the House. But in Spain also there exist those local prejudices and partial interests which unfortunately have too much power as yet in all countries, to obstruct and arrest commercial improvement. The hon. Gentleman supposes that the commercial treaties of 1838 with Austria and Turkey, have been of little or no advantage to this country. He is much mistaken. Then he says, that the late Government were much to blame for having allowed the Prussian commercial union to be established, and that we ought to have formed a commercial union between England and Austria, or with the whole of southern Germany. A commercial union, indeed, between England and southern Germany! Why you might as well talk of a commercial union between this globe and the moon. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury does not seem exactly to understand what the nature of the Prussian commercial union is. It is an union between several states, whose frontiers touch each other, by which they have agreed to abolish all custom houses along their separate frontier lines, and to make the general and outward circumference of the whole union the custom-house frontier of the whole. By this arrangement, foreign goods, having once passed across this external frontier, pay no further duty when passing from state to state within the interior. They circulate as freely as if they were going from one part to another of the same state. The Prussian commercial union ought to be regarded in two points of view. First, as having destroyed all the internal partitions which used to impede the passage of goods through the several states which compose the union; and, secondly, in relation to the tariff, which the union, as an aggregate body, may adopt for the goods of other countries. Now, so far from that union being in the first of these respects hostile to the commerce of this, or of any other foreign country, on the contrary, the aggregation of so many states into one united body, for customhouse purposes, must be as advantageous to the commerce of other countries trading with that union, as to the commerce of the union itself, provided the general tariff of the union be not too high. But the German union has adopted the Prussian tariff; and why is that tariff so unfavourable to British commerce? Why, because the British Government has been unable to reduce the high duties levied in this country on the principal articles of Prussian produce. It is owing to the maintenance of our high duties on timber and on corn, that a high tariff exists against us in the German union. But if that tariff could be lowered, then the union, instead of being an impediment, would be a facility to the trade of this country. And now that I have explained what the nature of the Prussian commercial union is, I think that even the hon. Member for Shrewsbury himself will see the impracticability of his plan for making a commercial union between England and southern Germany, if, indeed, I have not misunderstood the proposition which he made. But is it in Germany only, that our commercial laws stand in our way? Sweden, though not so populous as Germany, would afford an important market for our woollens, and for other of our manufactures. We have had negotiations with Sweden, and the Swedes were willing to take our goods, but then they said that we must lower our duties on their timber. There we were at a dead lock. We have been told that the late Government was stationary in regard to commercial improvement. That progress had been made before our time, but none by us. Is it really so? By no means. We did attempt to introduce commercial improvement; our first endeavour, indeed, was a small one; much smaller than what was required, perhaps, by the necessity of the case; much smaller, certainly, than that which the very persons who then opposed our measure, have since themselves carried through Parliament. But did we not propose a reduction in the duty on foreign timber? Did we not do so, and were we not beaten? The late Government found it impossible to carry that measure; and they who then opposed us, have now come down with a still larger measure to the same effect. I do not reproach them with having done so; on the contrary, it is to their honour that they have made the proposal, having convinced themselves that it would be for the good of the country. But I must be allowed to say, that if, at the time when we made our proposal, it had been acceded to, and if a considerable reduction had then been made in our timber duties, we should have had a great augmentation in our trade, not with Sweden only, but also with Prussia; and, through Prussia, with a large part of Germany. I feel, therefore, as I have said before, that the censure pronounced upon the late Government is unfounded, and I am satisfied that the more this House and the country examine what we did, and what the obstacles were which prevented us from doing more, the more will they arrive at the conclusion that we performed our duty honestly towards the country, and that we never lost sight of its commercial interests. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, who spoke last, taunted my hon. Friend near me with inconsistency, in having, as he alleged, in one breath, boasted of the part he had taken in helping to carry the tariff, and, at the same time, disparaged the value of that tariff. But it does not appear to me that there is any inconsistency in the line of argument which my hon. Friend pursued. We have never disparaged the tariff; on the contrary, we have al ways admitted its merits. We have always said that it is founded on sound principles of commerce; that it is a step, and, for the first step, perhaps a great step, forwards, in point of principle. But then we have also always declared that, in its details, it falls short, infinitely short, of those results to which the principles upon which it was propounded must, if carried out, inevitably lead. We look upon it as an instalment, but by no means as a full accomplishment of the views of those who brought it forward; and seeing this, it appears to me that there is no inconsistency in our claiming merit for having assisted the Government in carrying the tariff; and in saying at the same time, that the tariff as it is, and by itself, can have no material effect in mitigating the present distress. That we have assisted the Government in carrying the tariff, no man who looks at the divisions which have taken place can, with justice, deny. Who can forget the memorable division about cattle? When the Bead of the Government was proposing his Income-tax, he assured us that we should save our Income-tax by the great cheap, ness of living, which would result from the changes in the tariff, and more especially from the reduction in the price of provisions. But when the tariff came to be discussed, and the country gentlemen expressed their alarm at the proposed reduction in the duty on foreign cattle, they were assured that their fears were groundless — that there would be no material diminution in the price of cattle, and that consequently those rents which depend upon cattle, would in no degree be affected by the tariff. Now it was not at all unnatural, that many of the supporters of the Government who were dissatisfied with these conflicting statements, and who fancied that their interests were endangered by the tariff; should have united themselves for the purpose of opposing it; and if upon that occasion, the present opposition had followed the example set them by the late opposition upon the question of the timber duties; if we had contented ourselves with declaring that we agreed in the general principle, but thought the measure in itself insignificant and valueless: that to propose it was only trifling with a great principle; that no material good would be accomplished, and that, therefore, things had better be left as they were, if we had done this, and had availed ourselves of the discontent among the supporters of the Government, as our adversaries did of the dissatisfaction of the shipping interest, on the occasion which I allude to, it is pretty evident that this tariff would never have passed into a law. It appears to me, therefore, that there is no inconsistency on the part of my hon. Friends in claiming merit for having aided in passing this measure, while at the same time they declare, that they are not so credulous as to believe that this tariff, some parts of which too will not come into operation for many months to come, can be any effectual remedy for the present distress which weighs so urgently on the country. The right hon. Baronet animadverted with some warmth on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Potteries, who expatiated on the pressure of the Income-tax, and considered it an unnecessary burden. The right hon. Baronet said the Income-tax was not of the present Government's seeking, but was a necessity imposed upon them by the dreadful state in which the finances of the country had been left by their predecessors. There was a deficiency, he said, of 2,500,000l. at home, and a deficiency of nearly the same amount in India. Now as to the deficiency in India, I certainly did not expect to hear that brought forward as a ground for imposing an Income-tax on this country; because it is well known that the British Government have no intention whatever of taking that deficiency on themselves. That deficiency must fall on the resources of India, which I am confident are well able to bear it; and the making good of that deficiency is no part of the purpose to which any portion whatever of the produce of the Income-tax is intended to be applied. Let us then throw aside, as not belonging to the question, all consideration of the deficiency in the Indian revenue. But then there is the deficiency in the revenue at home, amounting to somewhere about 2,500,000l. I do not dispute the existence of a deficiency of nearly this amount, but at the same time it ought to be borne in mind, that in consequence of measures adopted in a great degree by the late Government, an equal portion of our annual expenditure, that is to say, about 2,500,000l., consists of interests paid on account of terminable annuities, which have been substituted for an equal amount of perpetual annuities; and, therefore, this sum may he considered as so much sinking fund, applied annually for paying off a portion of the national debt. The deficiency has also in part been occasioned by a measure adopted by the late Government, which has given so much general satisfaction, and which, even the right hon. Baronet has admitted to have been productive of so much public advantage, that the present Government has not thought fit to disturb it—I mean the reduction of the postage on letters. I deny then that the deficiency was so great or was so occasioned, as to make it necessary for the Government to have recourse to the Income-tax. We proposed last year measures, which, without throwing any fresh burdens on the people, but on the contrary, by relieving them from some of their existing burdens, and by opening new channels for commerce, would hot only have filled up the deficiency, but would have prevented, in a great degree, that extent of distress which we are at present deploring. Seeing this, I contend that the defence set up for the Income-tax must entirely break down. But there is one statement made by the right hon. Baronet in which I perfectly concur. The right hon. Baronet has said that, however afflicting the present distress in the manufacturing districts unquestionably, is, he yet feels no despondency as to the ultimate fortunes of the country. On this point I entirely agree with him, for I am convinced that we have, within ourselves, resources sufficient to repair all the evils of the moment, and to replace the country in a state of advancing prosperity. The right hon. Baronet in touching this part of the subject has truly pointed out the increase which has taken place of late years in the commerce of the country. He has shown that during the ten years that we administed the affairs of the country, the value of our annual exports had increased from 37,000,000l. in 1831 to 51,000,000l. in 1841, being an excess of 14,000,000l. in the last, over the amount in the first of those ten years. I do not indeed quite agree with him in what he has said about the increased consumption of sugar during that period, because although the actual amount consumed may have increased, that amount has not kept pace with the increase in our population; but I readily acknowledge that there has, during those ten years, been a great increase in the number of houses in the united kingdom, and that a large addition has been made to invested capital of all kinds, and that there has been a large increase of our manufactures and of our commerce; all proving that this country has within it such a power and vigour of life, that nothing is needed but wisdom on the part of the Government and Legislature, to enable the nation to go on in a career of great and increasing prosperity. But to accomplish this purpose we must remove the obstructions which now check and impede our progress. We cannot look to such an increase as our commerce is susceptible of, while we maintain our restrictive laws. I need not indeed argue this doctrine, because I think I see from the speeches which have been made on the other side, an increasing conviction of its truth. We have been plainly told that this new Corn-law is only an experiment, and that if it should fail in accomplishing the object which its authors had proposed to effect by it, there will be no indisposition another year to reconsider the matter. I accept that intimation with pleasure. As to the address which has been moved by my hon. Friend, I earnestly wish the House to assent to it; for whatever technical objections it may be liable to, and although, as a matter of ordinary practice, I allow that it would be open to considerable objections, yet in the peculiar crisis in which the country at present stands, I think those objections might well be waived. This address, if agreed to, would not indeed be binding on the Government, so as inconveniently to fetter their discretion as to the calling or the not calling Parliament together; but it would be soothing to the country —it would show that this House looks with sympathy upon the distress of the people; it would inspire a gleam of hope into those who are now bowed down by despondency; and would give a spur to industry and exertion. On this account I would waive all those objections of form which on other occasions I might have felt, and am ready to agree to my hon. Friend's address. But, says the right hon. Baronet, this motion, if agreed to, would produce injurious effects upon our commerce, because transactions would be suspended in consequence of an expectation of further changes to be made by Parliament when assembled in an autumnal session. But has not the tariff suspended transactions? Does not the postponed operation of many parts of the tariff necessarily suspend transactions of trade in regard to the commodities to which the postponed reductions relate? For instance, however beneficial in the end the reduction in the duty on timber may be, yet has not the postponement of that reduction to so distant a time as October next, suspended, during the interval, the construction of houses, and the building of ships? And has it not prevented a great deal of employment which would otherwise have arisen in the manufacture of things into which timber enters as an essential element? But, says the right hon. Baronet, if this address is carried, Parliament will have to meet in November. I rather think my hon. Friend did not contemplate so late a meeting. I think that he expects that it would have to meet in October. But, says the right hon. Baronet, if it were to be understood that Parliament was to meet in November, to reconsider the Corn-laws, who would let out the bonded corn? I'll tell the right hon. Baronet who will let out the bonded corn. The Government will let out the bonded corn. They have told us so themselves. In a former debate they let slip the secret. We asked them for a remedy for the distress; they gave us to understand that they had a remedy; and at last out it came. They said they wanted no legislative enactment, but that if the distress should last, they would act on their own responsibility, and like bold men as they are, would let out the bonded corn. I venture to predict, that if Parliament does not meet before November, they will have to let out the bonded corn. And they think this is a remedy; they imagine that the letting out, duty free, at one particular time, a certain quantity of corn which may happen to be then in bond, will be a remedy for a distress which arises, not from a famine—for no famine exists —but from want of employment; many thousand people being unable to buy corn, not because there is no corn to buy, but because they cannot earn the wages, which would enable them to buy it. I invoke the principle laid down distinctly, last night (and I rejoiced to hear it), by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. That right hon. Gentleman, last night—(the House was very thin, and many who are now present did not hear him, and I am glad to repeat what he said)—that right hon. Gentleman, last night, proposed a measure—a small one to be sure,—a plan for allowing people to take a little flour out of bond without paying duty, on condition of putting a little biscuit into bond in exchange; the whole amount of such exchanges being reckoned by him as not likely to go beyond a hundred thousand quarters in the course of the year; but he recommended his measure by the enunciation of a principle, of which I beg the House to take note, as the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire has done of my prediction. Whether my prediction is verified or not, is of little moment to anybody. I hope it will fail, because in that case the distress will have diminished: but I trust that the principle announced by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, will not fail; I trust it will not be repudiated by his Colleagues in the Government; and that we shall see, before we are a year older, the fruits of its application. And what was that principle? Why the right hon. Gentleman said,— I recommend this measure specially for this reason, that it will give additional employment to labour, that it will give a fresh opening to our commerce, that it will afford to your manufactures the means of exchanging the produce of their labour for the productions of the corn-growing countries. And then he added,— There is this peculiar advantage in the measure, that it is not an isolated facility or temporary benefit given to commerce, but it is a measure of permanent operation; and it lays the foundation for a steady, firm, and lasting increase to our commerce, by the exchange of our manufactures for food grown abroad. Now, Sir, that is the principle which we have all along contended for. Not against oratorical displays, but against silent and unwilling hearers; against hearers whom. we have not convinced; hearers whom I fear we never shall convince; but hearers who may be convinced, when the same doctrines which we have vainly inculcated, shall be preached to them by the leaders whom they respect and follow: when measures founded upon these doctrines, in their largest and most comprehensive sense, shall be proposed by those leaders to this House; and when those leaders going out into the lobby, followed by their nominal opponents, and opposed by their own supporters, shall triumph in the success of their principles, by the honest and inde- pendent assistance of men who have no confidence in the Government.

Mr. Hume

rose to move that the debate be adjourned [" No, no; divide"]; he had done so at the request of a number of his Friends near him, the hon. Members for Manchester, Stockport, and others, who with himself wished to say a few words on this subject. [" Go on, go on"]. He would allow that the objection of the right hon. Baronet was very fair in ordinary circumstances, but they were not in ordinary circumstances that evening; the public were most anxious to have from the House some remedy for the existing evils. As yet they had only heard from the right hon. Baronet that trial was to be made of the measures that had been passed; but if during the time the people were starving, it was too much that those who took that view should not be heard. He thought the speech of the noble Lord who had just spoken one of the best he had heard in the debate; he had not heard any speech that told so well, or that so fully answered the objections that were raised to the motion. ["Divide."]

Sir R. Peel

hoped the House would bring the debate to a close that evening, considering how fully this subject had been discussed. He had been there from half-past four, and during a considerable portion of that night's debate not fifty Members were in the House. He must say, it was rather hard in those who had public duties to perform to be present during the whole of the debate, that there should be a very slack attendance until ten or half-past ten o'clock, and that then a proposition should be made to adjourn the debate, and prevent going into committee of supply. He did hope, therefore, that the sense of the House would be in favour of closing the debate that evening. If the hon. Gentleman persisted in his motion, and meant that the debate was to be proceeded with to-morrow, it would offer another obstacle to the progress of public business.

Mr. Gibson

said, that he for one might be thought to take an extraordinary view of the discussions that bad taken place, for his opinion of this question was, that it had not been half discussed; and the universal complaint out of doors was, not that they had spent too much time in discussing the Corn-laws or the distress of the country, but that they had actually shown a disposition to evade this question, and that when brought on the speakers had diverged into topics beside the subject. If there were a division that night, which he thought objectionable, he should feel it his duty, if no one else did it, on the question of going into committee of supply, to move for a committee to inquire into the distress of the country. He thought the real question had not been met. The right hon. Baronet had thrown a colour over the existing state of things, and had brought arguments which they had not yet had an opportunity of answering; he was therefore prepared to support the motion of his hon. Friend the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Cobden

declared he must be grossly misinformed, if the House and the Government were not egregiously in error as to the real state of the country; and, entertaining the firm conviction that herein he was not misinformed, he thought it his duty to use every effort to awaken attention to the alarming truth upon the subject. He should carry the debating on, therefore (even if on the present question there were now a division), did no one else do so, by moving an amendment to supply. He was actuated by no factious motives, but solely by a sense of the condition of the people, whose sufferings he had more opportunities, perhaps, than most hon. Members of observing.

Mr. Hume

here rose and said, he thought that as many of his hon. Friends would rather speak on the supply, the division might as well take place and his motion for adjournment be withdrawn.

Mr. Stansfield

said, there was a memorial recently forwarded to the Home-office by his constituents complaining of the present distress and praying for relief. He thought her Majesty's recent letter calling for subscriptions was a most unworthy expedient. He had been requested by his constituents to stop the supplies until something effectual should be done. He, however, deprecated such a course, as he preferred patiently waiting for Government to afford some measures of relief. The people asked for nothing but to be afforded the means of buying their corn by the fruits of their own industry. The manufacturing classes were really groaning under the weight of their misery. They, however, were not disposed to wait any longer. If something be not done immediately, he was afraid to predict the consequences which might follow, His main support was from landed property, but his persuasion was, the whole of his income would, unless the corn-laws were repealed, be absorbed by pauperism alone.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, for him to reply was little necessary after the speech of the noble Lord, which was completely triumphant. He perfectly agreed as to the necessity of bringing the real state of the country more and more before the House. The motion, which he felt it his duty to introduce, appeared to him not to have been fairly treated. It was objected to that motion, that, it amounted to an interference with the prerogative of the Crown; but had the House of Commons no prerogative? It was said that the tendency of his motion would be, not to ameliorate the condition of the poor, but, to aggravate their distress; that doctrine appeared to him incomprehensible—he did not understand how giving the people cheap food and abundance would aggravate their distress. But the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester, told the House that the motion was absurd: now, was it absurd to demand from the Government an assurance that if there were no amelioration in the condition of the people, they would again call Parliament together before the winter set in, with the view of obtaining for the people a sufficient supply of cheap food? In the face of all that, however, the right hon. Baronet told him that the motion was absurd. It might be absurd to a majority of the House, but it would not be absurd in the eyes of a majority of the people; Hon. Members might leave London, they might go to their pheasant shooting, they might go their parks and their preserves, they might go home to bully their 50l. tenants-at-will, and leave the people to starve, with no remedy but another Queen's speech, full of heartless compliments about their forbearance and their fortitude; but did any one suppose that under such circumstances the people would lie down and die? At all events, he and the friends with whom he was in the habit of acting had done their duty, and were therefore not responsible for the consequences; the whole of the responsibility rested with the Government,—it would rest upon them, and on the heads of those who supported them. They had been warned in time, but they treated that warning with indifference and disrespect.

The House divided:—Ayes 31: Noes 47 Majority 50.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A Berkeley, hon. C.
Aldam, W. Berkeley, hon. Capt.
Barnard, E. G Bernal, R
Blake, M. Mitchell, T. A.
Bowring, Dr, Morris, D.
Brotherton, J. Muntz, G. F.
Busfeild, W. Napier, Sir C.
Callaghan, D. O'Connell, D.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. O'Connell, M. J.
Clay, Sir W. Paget, Lord A.
Clive, E. B. Palmerston, Visct.
Cobden, R. Parker, J.
Colborne, hn. W.N.R. Pechell, Capt.
Colebrooke, Sir T: E. Philips, M.
Crawford, W. S. Plumridge, Capt.
Dalmeny, Lord Ponsonby, hn. J. G.
Dennistoun, J. Pryse, P.
Duff, J. Pulsford, R.
Duncan, G. Rice, E. R.
Dundas, Adm. Ricardo, J. L.
Easthope, Sir J. Roche, Sir D.
Ebrington, Visct. Rundle, J.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Russell, Lord E.
Ellis, W. Scholefield, J,
Elphinstone, H. Seymour, Lord
Etwall, R. Smith, B.
Ewart, W. Smith, rt. hn. R. V.
Ferguson, Col. Somers, J. P,
Fielden, J. Somerville, Sir W. M
Fitzroy, Lord C. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Fox, C. R. Strutt, E.
Gibson, T. M. Tancred, H. W.
Gill, T. Thornely, T.
Gore, hon. R. Tufnell, H.
Guest, Sir J. Villiers, hon. C.
Hall, Sir B. Walker, R.
Hastie, A. Ward, H. G.
Hatton, Capt. V. Wawn, J. T.
Hill, Lord M. Wilshere, W.
Howard, P. H. Wood, B.
Hume, J. Wood, G. W.
Hutt, W. Wrightson, W. B.
Johnson, Gen. Wyse, T.
Langston, J. H. Yorke, H. R.
Langton, W. G. TELLERS.
Mangles, R. D. Duncombe, T. S.
Marshall, W. Hawes, B.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Burroughes, H. N.
A'Court, Capt. Cardwell, E.
Allix, J. P. Chelsea, Visct.
Antrobus, E. Chetwode, Sir J.
Archdall, Capt. Chute, W. L. W.
Arkwright, G. Clayton, R. R.
Baird, W. Clerk, Sir G.
Baldwin, B. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bankes, G. Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.
Baring, hon. W. B. Collett, W. R.
Barrington, Visct. Colvile, C. R.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Courtenay, Lord
Blackburne, J. I. Cripps, W.
Blackstone, W. S. Damer, hon. Col.
Bramston, T. W. Darby, G.
Broadley, H. Denison, E. B.
Broadwood, H. Disraeli, B.
Bruce, Lord E. Douglas, Sir H.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Burdett, Sir F. Douglas, J. D. S.
Duffield, T. Lincoln, Earl of
Duncombe, hon. A. Lindsey, H. H.
East, J. B. Litton, E.
Egerton, W. T. Lockhart, W.
Eliot, Lord Lowther, J. H.
Escott, B. Lowther, hon. Col.
Farnham, E. B. Mackenzie, W. F.
Feilden, W. Mc Geachey, F. A.
Fitzroy, Capt. March, Earl of
Flower, Sir J. Meynell, Capt.
Follett, Sir W. W. Milnes, R. M.
Forbes, W. Morgan, O.
Forester, hn. G. C.W. Mundy, E. M.
Fuller, A. E. Neeld, J.
Gaskell, J. Milnes. Newport, Visct.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. Newry, Visct.
Gladstone, T. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Norreys, Lord
Gore, M. Packe, C. W.
Gore, W. R. O. Packington, J. S.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Palmer, R.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Palmer, G.
Granby, Marq, of Patten, J. W.
Grant, Sir A. C. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Greene, T. Peel, J.
Gregory, W. H. Pemberton, T.
Grogan, E. Polhill, F.
Hale, R. B. Pringle, A.
Halford, H. Rashleigh, W.
Hamilton, W. J. Repton, G. W. J.
Hamilton, Lord C. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Harcourt, G. G. Rous, hon. Capt.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Rushbrooke, Col.
Hardy, J. Sheppard, T.
Henley, J. W. Somerset, Lord G.
Herbert, hon. S. Stanley, Lord
Hervey, Lord A. Stewart, J.
Hinde, J. H. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Hodgson, R. Taylor, J. A.
Hogg, J. W. Thompson, Ald.
Hope, hon. C. Thornhill, G.
Hornby, J. Tollemache, J.
Hughes, W. B. Trench, Sir F. W.
Hussey, T. Trollope, Sir J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Tyrell, Sir J, T.
Irving, J. Verner, Col.
Jermyn, Earl. Vivian, J. E.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Jones, Capt. Wodehouse, E.
Ker, D. S. Wood, Col. T.
Knatcbull, rt. hn. Sir E. Young, J.
Knight, H. G. TELLERS.
Knight, F. W. Fremantle, Sir T.
Lefroy, A. Baring, H.