§ Sir R. Peel
moved, that the Order of the Day be read for going into Committee on the Customs' Acts.
§ Mr. Callaghan
rose, to move the resolution of which he had given notice. He hoped that the Government would extend the same amount of protection to the man factured article as to the raw material. He would place before the House the position in which the Irish provision dealers would be placed without some protection against the introduction of foreign cured provisions. The chief consumption of Irish salt provisions now took place on board our ships going long or foreign voyages, and in the victualling of the navy. But the Irish provision curer could not compete with the foreign curer, and the effect would be, that foreign cured beef and pork would be substituted, and the Irish provision dealer would be driven out of the market. Again, the brand of the Irish provision merchants was received as a guarantee all over the world that the article was good; but if foreign provisions were substituted, the mercantile marine would have no security that they had purchased good provisions, and would often have reason to regret the substitution of a bad article. He thought a protection equal to that given against the introduction of live animals, ought to be granted against the introduction of foreign provisions. In some degree, the distance of foreign countries from which live animals could be imported, protected us from their importation; but that circamstance would be no protection against the admission of salt provisions. He concluded with moving the following resolution:—That in removing the prohibition to the importation of any article, there ought not to be charged any duty on the raw material which should not be charged on articles the manufacture thereof; and that so long as living animals be chargeable with a fixed duty, salted provisions should be chargeable with an equivalent rate, and not removable from warehouse without payment thereof, except for exportation.
§ Mr. Gladstone
thought, the resolution rather premature, as it was impossible to see yet what course would be taken on the subject. The hon. Member complained, that it was exceedingly hard that the provision curers of Ireland should be subjected 611 to a free and unfettered competition with the provision-curers abroad. In the first place, what was the situation of the British shipowner engaged in foreign trade? He was subjected to a thoroughly unrestricted competition with the foreigner; and it was mainly upon that ground that the protection had been withdrawn. The Legislature had endeavoured to extend an efficient protection to the provision-curers of Ireland, and it had failed in giving that protection. It might be as well to state, what was the law as it now existed to protect the Irish provision curers. Of course, under the warehousing acts all articles in bond might be taken out of the bonding warehouses for exportation; and it was obvious, without some security, that the masters and crews on board merchant ships might take out goods for consumption as well as exportation. Accordingly, the Warehousing Act provided, that no provisions should be delivered out of the warehouses to merchant ships outward bound, for exportation, without the exaction of a bond to land those provisions at the port of the ship's destination. The law looked very well, and the law had done its utmost for the protection of the provision-curers of Ireland. But how had it operated? Why, there was no security which would guarantee the landing of those provisions. It was impossible to suppose, that we could give to our laws a force and stringency which would extend the it operations into foreign ports in a matter of this kind, where we said to the shipowner, "You must run your ships in direct competition with foreign ships, but we call on you to pay for your provisions for your crews a price very much higher than your competitors have to pay for their provisions," This had not formerly been so. The Irish provision dealer formerly had a sufficient protection in the moderation of his prices. In point of fact, it was the high prices which constituted the difficulty in the case. Ten or fifteen years ago, he ventured to say, it would have been of no importance whether the clause alluded to found its way into the act or not. He would first state the prices as they now existed. There was a difference of about 2l. 10s. per tierce between the price of the best Hamburgh meat as compared with the best Irish meat. At Hamburgh, it was stated, that the lowest price of salt meat was five guineas, the highest 6l. Now, in former times, in 1827 and 1828, the price of Irish provisions was 6l. In 612 1832, the price was from 41. 10s. to 51. In 1835 and 1836, the price of Irish provisions was 5l. 5s. In 1837 and 1838, the price of the best Irish provisions was 61.;and therefore, in point of fact, so far as her natural capabilities were concerned, Ireland showed that she was fully able to compete with the foreign curer of provisions. But the shipowner, it appeared, had been called on to pay a very much higher price. In 1839 and 1840, the price of Irish provisions rose to 7l., and in 1840 and 1841, to 71. 15s.; so that the shipowner was called on to pay 7l. 15s.; where, twelve or fifteen years ago, he was paying 4l. 10s. to 5l. But not only was the shipowner compelled to pay that rate; but he was informed, that the character of Irish provisions, of which the hon. Gentleman had spoken with so much satisfaction, was in danger of being deteriorated. The quality of Irish provisions had suffered much from the demand having drawn off so many Irish cattle to this country, and many of the best parts of provisions formerly used for salting. So that the shipowner was in this position—he was called on to pay for an inferior article a very enhanced price. A consequence of this was, that there was a great deal of fraud and evasion, which that House must always be anxious to obviate, and which, he ventured to say, as long as the law continued in its present state, it was impossible to prevent. He did not think the hon. Gentleman himself could suggest any means whatever to prevent ships on the wide sea having taken provisions out of the warehouse for exportation, from using them for the support of the crew. There was certainly one way in which it might be prevented—by putting an end to the warehousing system, and having no provisions put into the warehouses without an immediate exaction of the duty; but he thought, that would be exceedingly impolitic, for the warehousing system was most useful. The principle now proposed to be acted on was nothing new. In the greater part of stores which ships required, we did not give the British producer a monopoly of providing for our ships. There were orders at the Customhouse, under the authority of the law, by which nearly every article might be delivered to ships without payment of any duty whatever. On these grounds—the enhancement of the price of Irish provisions and the deterioration of the quality, the greater cheapness of these provisions abroad, and the great hardship on British ship- 613 owners in the present state of the law, and the incapability of Parliament to prevent fraud and evasion of the law, without abandoning the warehousing system—when the Customs' Bill came before the House, he trusted the proposed alterations relating to salt provisions would be made. He could not, therefore, accede to the instruction moved by the lion. Gentleman. There was, to a certain extent, a consumption which would be protected by the duty proposed, both in the trade of the country, and the provisions purchased by coasting vessels, but what was the real state of the case with regard to those bonds which had already been spoken of, because it was partly on the utter inefficiency of the system now in practice that the present proposition of the Government was grounded? It appeared, that since the passing of the Warehousing Act, the whole number of bonds which had been entered into was 3,126, and the number of certificates received, that was to say, the number of cases in which provisions had been landed at the ports of destination, was 831 in all; thus about one-fourth of the bonds which had been passed, appeared to have been effectual, while three-fourths of the whole number had been utterly ineffectual. As long as the price of provisions in Ireland was moderate, it was not difficult to protect the producers in that country; but, now that prices were high, it was utterly impossible to protect them against foreign competition.
§ Mr. Labouchere
agreed entirely in the view taken of this subject by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; and although the hon. Member who had brought forward the present resolution naturally felt desirous to bring this question—a question so interesting to his constituents — under consideration, still he thought it would not be expedient for the House to agree to the proposal the hon. Gentleman had made. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone), not so much on account of the inefficacy of the present law, because he believed that if this were removed, very great injury would be inflicted upon an important portion of the national interests. He held it to be good policy to enable the vessels engaged in the commercial marine of this country to provide themselves with provisions at as cheap a rate as possible. This was the capital point of national policy which ought not to be lost sight of, and the 614 Legislature ought not to allow considerations of minor importance and of comparatively trivial nature to interfere with it. The right hon. Gentleman had truly said, that a great revolution had taken place in the supply of provisions from the south of Ireland. Formerly, they were cheaper than in any country in the world. This revolution was owing to the increasing prosperity of that portion of her Majesty's dominions. Formerly, the Irish breeder of cattle could do nothing hut cut up the produce, salt it, put it into a cask, and sell it in that state; but now, in consequence of steam-boat communication, he was able to send live stock or Irish meat to different parts of England, and even to the London market, and of course the result had been to raise the price of provisions in Ireland, and hence it was that that which formerly was only a nominal hardship in compelling the shipping interests to take their salt provisions would now become a serious practical grievance, if the present system were continued. This was one of the reasons which had induced him last year, when he introduced the Colonial Customs Duties Bill, to urge upon the House the propriety of a general reduction in the rate of protection upon cured provisions in the colonial markets of this country; and he rejoiced to see that the present Government had taken the same view, and that in their Colonial Customs Duties Bill, they proposed to make a reduction generally. He entirely concurred in that principle, and would support the measures of the Government in this respect. The Government had declared an opinion that it was important that the commercial marine of this country should be victualled at the cheapest possible rate—he hoped they would apply that principle to other matters besides cattle, and that they would feel the importance of also having the shipping supplied with biscuits at the lowest possible rate. This had long been a great object to the commercial marine, but it had been prevented by the groundless jealousy of the landed interests of this country. He rejoiced that his hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead had given notice of a motion to admit flour to be ground in bond for this supply, and he trusted, after what had been said this evening on the part of the Government, the proposition would receive their support. At least, he hoped if the}' would not adopt the measure proposed by his hon. Friend, they would take the matter into their own 615 hands, and do an act of justice to the shipping interest which had so long been sought for in vain by it.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche
protested on behalf of the Irish people, against such a coquetting with free trade as was exhibited in the present measure of the Government. The people of Ireland felt it to be most unjust that the Government should always use free trade arguments when they cut against the Irish community and that they should deny the same arguments when they cut in favour of that portion of the subjects of the Crown. In Ireland it was well understood that all English produce was protected in the new tariff, while, on the other hand, Irish productions would be placed in a worse situation than they would be under a complete them of free-trade.
§ Sir R. Peel
remarked, that the hon. Gentleman, it seemed, had nothing to say against the justice of the particular proposition before the House, but referred to the whole tariff, and said the Government were not at liberty to touch any article unless they wholly and universally adopted the principles of free trade. The hon. Gentleman had asked him whether he remembered having used this argument when he brought forward the Corn Bill. He knew what he had said on that occasion, and he well remembered the speech of the hon. Gentleman, who had told him he was going to ruin the trade in the great staple agricultural produce of Ireland. Now, he very much doubted whether, if in his scheme he had removed all the protection to Irish oats as well as Irish cattle, he should have had the cordial approbation of the hon. Gentleman for that proposal. The hon. Gentleman must remember that at present there was a duty upon salted meat brought from abroad of 12s., which he proposed to reduce to 8s. as far as home consumption was concerned, and very little would be brought from abroad under 12s. duty. It was quite true that 12s. duty applied to salted provisions taken by ships; but, as his right hon. Friend near him (Mr. Gladstone) had shown with regard to that protection there was, under the present system a complete delusion, and that vessels had taken salted meat subject to a nominal duty of 12½ per cent, and had consumed it has stores, instead of landing it as merchandise at their port of destination. He could not help thinking the proposal now made was perfectly fair, 616 and he did not think it would incur the danger which hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to anticipate. The danger they apprehended arose from the great increase in the price of Irish provisions, but he could not despair of Ireland being able to compete with other countries in the supply of meat for consumption at home and abroad.
§ Mr. E. B. Roche,
in explanation begged to say he neither voted nor made any speech on the Corn-law discussion. He was not in the House at the time.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, he begged pardon for having made a mistake. It was the hon. Member for Kerry who made the speech in question.
Lord J. Russell
could not think the hon. Member for Cork had made out any case in favour of the resolution which he proposed. He admitted that the system of certificates of landing in foreign ports was delusive in itself, and when the hon. Member asked the House to provide an efficacious remedy, he must reply, that the principle was wrong altogether, and that it would be far better to part with the delusion. The hon. Member for Cork had told the House, that he learned by a letter from Illinois, that very good and very cheap provisions were now selling in that state. Now, if those provisions could be brought here cured and used by the commercial shipping of this country, he would say, "Let them come in and let us have the advantage of them." The hon. Gentleman who had spoken afterwards contended, that although a right principle was laid down on this particular article, yet it was not a right principle to apply to other articles enumerated in the tariff. That was perfectly true, but the use he made of that circumstance was very different from the use the hon. mover had made of it. On a question of free-trade, it was very easy to make objections, and to say, that because some articles were made free, others ought to be made subject to the same principles, and that unless this was done lion. Members would not consent to the general proposition. Now, he would say, with regard to any proposition made either by the Government or made by any individual—if made on sound principles, he should give his vote in support of it, and endeavour to apply it to other articles to which it was not applied by the Government. Such would be his course in any vote he might be called upon 617 to give either before the Speaker left the chair or when the House was in committee, wherever he might find that the Government had disregarded the principles which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade had himself laid down, he should in all cases endeavour to apply them to articles not intended by the Government. He thought it would altogether fail to apply the principle—not of free-trade, as it was called, but of free competition, as he would term it, to all articles. He said, "Apply that principle wherever you can, and it will work its way out, and those unjust monopolies left even by the Corn-laws of the present Session would be reduced to the same sound principles."
Sir R. Ferguson
thought the right hon. the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had not treated the subject fairly when he spoke of the bonds given on taking out provisions under the Warehousing Act as a delusion; for though, no doubt, a great deal of fraud was practised, still there were many respectable houses both in this town and elsewhere who scorned to adopt any such system as that which had been pointed out. The right hon. Gentleman had not mentioned how many bonds were kept by vessels still on their voyages.
§ Motion negatived.
§ House in Committeee, Mr. Greene in the Chair.
On the first resolution: —
That in lieu of the present rates of duty now payable upon the articles enumerated in the annexed schedules, there shall be raised, levied, and paid upon the importation of the said articles into the United Kingdom the rates of duties proposed in the said schedules, and all prohibitions or restrictions of any such articles, except as therein specified shall cease and determine,
rose for the purpose of proposing the amendment of which he had given notice, relative to levying the duties on all live stock imported from foreign countries by weight. In justice to the constituents who had sent him there, he had taken this early opportunity of bringing this amendment forward. It might seem extraordinary that an individual who had given his unlimited confidence to the measures of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government should, upon the consideration of the tariff, thus early commence an opposition to a part of it. But, concurring as he did, with many hon. Friends who sat around him, that the 618 alarm which had spread throughout the country relative to the tariff, and particularly as to the importation of provisions and of live cattle, had a just and sure foundation, and having with other Friends attended as a deputation on the right hon. Baronet, and urged upon him those reasons which they thought ought to have induced the right hon. Baronet to alter those particular duties without success, they had nothing now left but to endeavour by a decision of that House to get a fair protection, and a fair protection was -all that they required for the agricultural interests in this respect. He must say, however, that, taken as a whole, the scheme of finance offered by the right hon. Baronet during the present Session appeared to him to be the most complete, full, and ample scheme ever offered by a Minister in times of comparative peace, and he thought that, generally speaking, it had met with reluctant but considerate approbation. By it the burdens of taxation were now laid upon the right shoulders, and for the financial difficulties of the nation, brought about by previous financial mismanagement, which had been attempted to be bolstered up by futile but irritating palliatives, the right hon. Baronet had brought forward a decided remedy, under which direct taxation was now to be called in to alleviate an embarrassed Exchequer. The burdens of the poor were now to be lightened, inasmuch as provisions and articles of general consumption would be made cheap by the operation of the reduction which had been proposed, whilst the incomes arising from the property which had been accumulated during the war would be called upon to contribute to the resources of the country and administer relief in our temporary embarrassment. In presenting himself to propose a motion of the nature he was about to submit, he need not allude to the support the right hon. Baronet had received from the phalanx of county Members who sat around him; but this he alight say, that he and his Friends had gone along with the right hon. Baronet as far as they could; they had not opposed the Corn-bill; they had agreed to it in silence, and consented in silence that their own and their tenants property should be taxed out of regard to the peace of the country. But the time of silence was now passed; it was their duty to their constituents to defer no longer stating their sentiments on this part of the measures of In bringing for- 619 ward the proposition he was about to offer, he was sensible of his own inadequacy to do full justice to the subject; it was difficult for hon. Members who had not turned their attention much to the subject to perceive the exact bearings of the tariff on the whole system of our taxation, but he trusted that he should have the indulgence of the House while he endeavoured to the best of his ability to discharge his duty to his constituents. No doubt the Corn-bill had been received with alarm by the country. In that alarm he did not participate, and he hoped it would not continue. He believed that agriculture was improving so rapidly, and science was so mingling with practical knowledge, that we should be soon able, even with reduced rates of duty, to compete with foreign agriculturists, that they might trust, as he did, that even with the reduced scale of corn duties the English farmer might be able to compete with the foreigner. That was his opinion with respect to the alterations of the Corn-law; but with respect to the alterations in the tariff the case was different. There they had to grope in the dark for the probable results in a way that was most unsatisfactory. From a total prohibition upon the foreigner to interfere with the English meat market, the farmers were now called upon to agree on a scale of duties which were imposed on what was to him, he confessed, an unintelligible principle, and which, if carried into effect, could not but be detrimental to agriculture. As he was fully convinced of this, so he was clear that now was the time for oppsoing this part of the measure, and he had consequently prepared such a resolution as would render the object of himself and his hon. Friends apparent to the right hon. Baronet. What he and his hon. Friends demanded was, that the duty on live cattle should be taken by weight, and not by the head, as proposed by the right hon. Baronet. If it were asked, why did he come forward on this occasion, his reply was, that there were times when it became the duty of every individual Member to come forward to amend a measure of this sort upon discovering any part which was, in his opinion, decidedly faulty. It had been said to him out of doors, "Why should you bring forward this proposition; would you, as farmers, be better off if the right hon Baronet were turned out and the noble Lord opposite were put in his place?" But the question was not whether this Government or set of men 620 should occupy the Treasury benches, or another. The question involved no principle of that sort; the question was simply one of detail, and as one of detail the House must discuss it. With respect to the grounds on which he and his Friends rested their opposition to the proposed scale of duties on live cattle, the Government were not wholly uninformed. Many deputations from different agricultural districts had attended the Board of Trade, and pressed on the right hon. Gentleman and other Members of the Government the probable effects of the measure, and he was happy to say that some deputations, consisting of parties who might have been supposed to be least represented in the House of Commons, had nevertheless been heard with great attention, and with a manifestation on the part of the Government of a desire to hear with attention whatever might be pressed upon their notice. When the right hon. Baronet brought forward his Corn-bill, he held out to the agricultural interest, in order to induce them to accept it, benefits of this description—" Look, the right hon. Baronet said, at the benefits you will derive from the reduction to the farmer of various articles—look at the reduction on grass seeds —look at rape-seed and other seeds;" To his astonishment also, the right hon. Baronet said, "look at onion-seed;" but he would ask the right hon. Baronet whether he did not think that the reduction made on those articles was made up, and more than made up, by the reduction in the duties on corn? The right hon. Baronet had also stated—and in that he was glad to concur with him—that the panic had subsided; but at the same time, the right hon. Baronet said, that, in his opinion, the low prices of meat had occurred from natural causes, and not from the proposal of the tariff; and so it undoubtedly was, because at that time of year, the farmer was accustomed to send his cattle to market, and the vast influx in consequence had caused a fall in price. There was, no doubt, however, that some designing speculators had taken advantage of the tariff to operate upon the prices—and with some success; but he could assure the right hon. Baronet that he had never given way to the panic in any way, and if he was not thoroughly convinced upon calm reflection of the truth of the principles he was advocating, he would not be seen on the floor to bring forward any proposition whatever. With respect to the agitation that was 621 going forward he could say that no one deprecated agitation more than he did on any point; but, independently of that agitation, he could assure the right hon. Baronet that there was a deep feeling in the country that in framing this tariff the interests of the farmer had not been properly taken care of. The farmers felt that taking the duty on live cattle at so much per head was not the proper mode of taking it. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the quality of English meat; but had he considered that the farmer looked not only to the quality of the meat, but also to the quantity of manure which was made by feeding cattle, and its effect to increase the value of the land, which could not by any other means be so effectually increased; had the right hon. Baronet looked to the consideration that feeding beasts was an indispensable adjunct to the system of agriculture that was pursued in many parts of this country? Had the right hon. Baronet looked to the question, whether the farmer, after these reductions in the prices of his productions, would be able to pay the same wages for labour as he had been accustomed to pay? He would first call the attention of the committee to this point, namely, what was the price of artificials last fall; and then as to the quantities of artificials consumed by the farmer in this country and in Denmark? The price of oilcake last fall in this country was 10 guineas a ton; in Denmark it was 6 guineas, or one-third less. Barley in England was 30s the quarter; in Denmark it was 15s. a quarter, being one-half less. He knew a farmer who last year consumed in fattening cattle ten tons of oilcake, at a cost of 105l., and 200 quarters of barley-meal which would be 300l., making altogether 405l. consumed in artificials. Now let them see what would be the cost of the same quantity of artificials to the Danish farmer. For the ten tons of oilcake he would pay 63l., and for the 200 quarters of barley-meal 150l. making together 213,l. So that the saving to the Danish farmer on this quantity of artificials would be 192l. This being the case, was he wrong in asking for protection —not a large, but a fair protection? When the House saw that the Danish farmer could use his artificials at one-half the cost that the British farmer could, that ought to enter into their calculations in settling the amount of duty. He would now ask the House to attend to the different rates of duty upon live animals, and fresh or salted meat. If au ox were im- 622 ported as meat the duty would be 8s. a cwt.; but for live animals the duty on an ox would be 1l. on a cow 15s.; on a calf, 10s.; on a sheep, 3s.; on swine and hogs, 5s. With respect to the last item, he must remind the House that in the shape of hams, swine's flesh paid 14s. a cwt. Taking then an ox of 6 cwt.—and according to Mr. Meek's table it appeared that was about the weight at which they must expect to receive most of the oxen imported —then, imported as meat the duty would be 2l. 8s.; adding the duty on the hide and tallow the whole duty paid on the importation of the animal in this state would be 2l. 9s. 8½d.; but if sent alive it would be charged merely 1l. duty, and from that deducting the amount due to the hide and the tallow which would then come in duty free, the real duty paid would be about 18s. 3½d. The difference, therefore, in favour of importing alive above sending it in the shape of meat would be 1l. 11s. 5½d. Now, he must say, that it did appear to him that there was neither justice nor fairness in this. Next as to pigs. Taking a hog of 3 cwt. it would only pay 5s. if imported alive. If sent over as fresh pork it would pay a duty of 1l. 4s.; if on the other hand, it came as bacon and hams it would pay 1l. 8s. In either case there must be a deduction of about one-third of the weight for lard, the duty on which would be 8cl. Hence the difference in favour of importing a pig alive over importing as fresh pork would be about 1l.; over importing as ham or bacon would be about 1l. 4s. It appeared therefore, to him, that any great quantity of provisions of this sort could not come in, except in the live state. He would next inquire what was the consumption of an ox of 6 cwt. and a hog of 3 cwt.; he had been as careful as he could in this investigation, and a person on whom he had great reliance, and who was well known in the cattle market, whose name was Druce, had informed him what was the quantity of artificials that it took to feed an ox up to 6 cwt., and a hog to 3 cwt. He said, that the former would require twenty weeks' grass at 3s., twelve weeks' stall feeding on 12 cwt. of hay at 3s. 6d., and twenty-one bushels of bean and barley meal at 3s. 6d., making in the whole 8l. 15s. 6d. To get a hog up to 3 cwt. would require twenty-two bushels of barley meal, worth 3l. 6s. Now, twenty-one bushels of barley at 28s. a quarter would pay a duty of 9s. a quarter, or 1l. 3s. 7½d. 623 in all; whereas, at 24s. the duty would be 11s. a quarter, and the consequence would be a saving of duty on the hog, if imported in the shape of meat, of 1l.'10s. 5d. over sending the raw material of barley. This was an important advantage to the foreign farmer, and if they considered the different prices of labour that obtained abroad and the difference in rents and in taxation, all of which must enter into the price of meat, they must of course, come to the conclusion, that all these bore with a greater relative weight upon the English farmer, and therefore ought to be considered on an occasion of this kind. On the other hand the British farmer would have to encounter the competition of foreign growers. The right hon. Baronet had endeavoured to show that the imports could only come from a very small portion of Europe. Now, whether the home-grower would have to compete with the whole of Europe or not, he' apprehended that he would have no difficulty in showing that there would be no obstacle arising from the difficulties of navigation to the importation of live animals from Holstein, Belgium, Denmark, and Lowenberg. He apprehended that they would become the great foci from which cattle would be imported; and he would proceed to form an estimate of the prices at which the home-grower would have to compete with the foreign producer. He would first take the case of Ostend. But it seemed to be the general opinion that Belgium was rather an importing than an exporting country. He found, however, from Mr. Meek's report, that last year Belgium exported to France 17,000 head of cattle. He thought under those circumstances he was quite justified in taking Ostend as a port whence the import of cattle would affect the English grower. Now, the price of an ox at Ostend was given at 12l. 14s., the freight would be 1l. 6s., the duty 1l., and allowing for other charges 5s., the price at which the ox would come into competition with the home grown ox would be 15l. 5s. At Hamburgh the cost price of an ox was 12l. 8s., the freight would be 2l.,the duty 1l., other expenses 5s., making in all 15l. 13s., the price at which the Hamburgh ox would come into competition with the home grown ox. At the next named places, the following would be the prices, at which the ox could be imported into England: —
Now, the price of an English ox, taking it at only 6d. the pound, would be 16l. 16s. Taking, therefore, that as the price of the home grown ox, and comparing it with the above prices abroad, it would appear that the British farmer, in competition with the foreign farmer, would stand at a disadvantage as compared to Ostend, of 1l. 11s.; Hamburgh, 1l. 13s.; Kiel, 5l. 6s. 6d.; Lubeck, 1l 9s. 6d.; Rostock, 18s. 6d.; Dantsic, 3l. 1s. 6d.; Elsinore, 41. 13s. 6d.; or an average disadvantage of 21. 13s. 4½d. per animal, and of 1d. per pound. But the right hon. Baronet, in opening the subject of the tariff to the House, had endeavoured to show, that notwithstanding the increased importation of foreign cattle the price of meat had remarkably increased. The right hon. Baronet quoted a table of the contracts for fresh meat for the navy and for Greenwich Hospital, which showed a gradual increase of price, and then came a most extraordinary column, showing what had been during the same years the price to the private consumer. But the right hon. Baronet should remember, that the years in respect of which be had made his quotation
were those in which prices had been highest—those in which the table of that House had groaned with petitions complaining of the high prices of food. Yet, notwithstanding that, it appeared that the prices to the London consumer were, in 1835 (the first year the right hon. Baronet quoted), from 7d. to 8½. the pound, and in 1841 (the last year quoted), 8d. to 8½d. But, after all, the fair way of ascertaining the price of meat as it effected the British farmer was to look to the prices at Smithfield; because it was for them to argue, not on the prices received by the retail butcher from the consumer, but on the prices received by the farmer from the wholesale buyer. Now, it appeared that the average prices at Smithfield in 1841 were—for beef, 6d.; for mutton, 6½d.; for pork, 7d.; for veal, 7½d. Those were the real wholesale prices received by the farmer. Now, how much lower was it expected that the farmer should be compelled to go in reducing the price of meat? Was he expected to go lower than this average price of 6d. the pound? According to the statements which he had just read of the prices of animals abroad, the farmer, if he desired to compete with the averages of different ports, would have to sell at a price between 4d. and 6d., which would make it impossible to maintain the present rate of rents. He would now come to the prices of pigs at the different ports in question, as compared with the prices of home-produced pigs. The British pig, of an average weight of 3 cwt., at 6d. the pound, would fetch 8l. 8s. Now, the pig could be imported from the following places at, including freight, duty, and incidental charges, the following prices:—Ostend, 61. 3s.; Bremen, 61. 10s.; Hamburgh, 61. 17s.; Kiel, 41. Os. 7d.; Lubeck,71. 11s. 2½d.; Dantsic, 41. 14s. 6d.; Elsinore, 41. 14s. 6d. The average price, therefore, would be 51 15s., or less than 4½d. per lb. So much for the effect which the importation of this description of live stock would have on the British farmer. The right hon. Baronet had asked the other evening, incidentally to his argument, why foreign oxen had not been poured into France? He would remind the committee, that in 1822 the duty on animals imported into France was very much increased. The duty on oxen was raised to 21 and in addition to that, there was also the octroi duty, which varied almost every year, but which at Paris averaged 1l Thus the
whole duty was 3l. on every animal imported into Paris the great seat of consumption. It was supposed at one time that this increase in the duty would have prevented the importation of live cattle into France. For the first year or two— that was to say, in 1823 and 1824, such was certainly the case. But there was then no reason for the importation of foreign cattle, for beef was at that time 4d. the pound. If, however, the right hon Baronet had cast his eyes a little further, he would have seen that in 1828, when beef was 5d. the pound, upwards of 67,000 head of cattle were imported into France. In fact, when the duty was 3l. the largest amount came in that had ever been imported. He would now call the attention of the committee to a branch of the subject which was of very great importance, and which had already been opened by the hon. Member for Cork in regard to Ireland. It bore materially on the general question, because if the salted provision trade with Ireland was destroyed, the necessary consequence would be that a larger quantity of animals would come into England from Ireland to be consumed as fresh meat. It was a singular fact in connexion with this part of the subject that America had never taken cognizance of her trade in salted provisions with this country until in the last year, because then it sprung up and increased in a most extraordinary manner. The quantity of salted beef imported from America was 7,700 cwt. in 1840; but in 1841 it had increased to 22,429 cwt. In illustration of his views on this subject he would request the attention of the committee while he read a quotation from the New Orleans Price Current, written immediately before the tariff came out. It ran thus:—
New Orleans is the natural outlet of nine important states of the union, which all send their products by river navigation to this port. These states, viz., Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, contain together an area of 450,000 square miles, believed to be unsurpassed in fertility and richness of soil by any portion of the globe; with a population of 5,500,000, devoted either directly or indirectly to agriculture, and amongst whom the manufacture of cotton or other fabrics for clothing is almost unknown.
[Cheers.] I am not asking, continued the hon. Gentleman, for the English farmer any protection to the detriment of any other class. I am only asking for
him a right, just, legitimate protection, the same as is afforded to manufactured and other articles in this tariff. The writer in the Price Current continued: —
Still the resources of this valuable extent of country remain in a great measure undeveloped, and must remain so, as long as its most natural market is closed against it. We call Great Britain its natural market, because each country wants precisely what the other produces in excess, and eagerly searches out markets for; and between which there is an identity of race and descent of language and of habits, which would undoubtedly have led, long since, to a most extended and mutually beneficial intercourse, and the consequent friendly feelings. But, unfortunately, legislation has interposed, and has raised a diversity of interest where mutual dependence should exist. This city is every year filled to overflowing with flour, corn, beef, pork, &c, for which markets are eagerly sought, and which we know to be but a small portion of the supplies which could be furnished did a steady demand exist at moderate prices; while we also know how great are the wants of the producers of these important articles of food for all kinds of clothing, ironmongery, hardware, and the like. To open the door to a commerce of such vast importance as would result from an interchange of these commodities would surely be an object worthy of a statesman. Whether such interchange shall be permitted to exist, or such extended commerce be opened, will depend upon the nature of the laws to be proposed for the regulation of the import of grain and provisions into Great Britain. Although it is of great consequence to our producers that such articles should be admitted into Great Britain at moderate duties, the amount of such duty really affects us less than the regulations under which they shall be levied.
It seemed to him, therefore, that the American, like the British farmer on the present occasion, did not so much regard the amount of duty as the manner in which it was to be levied, and really all that he was asking from the right hon. Baronet was a little more protection for the farmer as regarded the manner of levying the duty. American mess pork could be introduced at about 3½d. the pound, and prime pork at about 2½d. the pound. But it would be said that American pork stood lowest in the market, English being first, and Hamburgh second. American mess beef could be introduced at a little more than 3¾d. the pound. To return, however, to the statements of the New Orleans Price Current. In a subsequent number the writer went on to say:—
When it is remembered that not one-tenth
part of the land in these states is under cultivation, it will be admitted that their means of production are no more developed than are the wants of those countries whose consumption is impeded by protective or prohibitive duties. We consider ourselves quite safe in expressing our belief that two years of steady demand for wheat, beef, and pork, for export to Europe, would augment threefold the quantities of these articles, which are now received at New Orleans from the west, and we can set no limit to the capabilities of consumption or production of these fertile regions, with a population augmenting every year by numerous emigrants from Europe and the Eastern states.
Now, what in the course of two years had been the increase of exports from New Orleans in the two articles of flour and pork? Why, where before 500,000 barrels of flour had been exported, there were at the end of two years 1,500,000 barrels exported. Where at the former period there were 262,000 sacks of corn maize, and 163,000 barrels, there were in the second year 785,000 sacks and 489,000 barrels; and where there had been 210,000 barrels of pork there were now 630,000. It now only remained for him to express a hope that the right hon. Baronet would take these things into his consideration. He confessed that he did not yet know upon what basis the proposed duty was to be levied. Did the right hon. Baronet mean to take as his basis the ox or the meat? Were he to take the ox, the duty on meat would be too high; were he to take the meat, of course the duty on the ox would be too low. If the right hon. Baronet believed, as he did, that there would be no difficulty, or very little, in proportioning the duty upon the live animal by the cwt", then, he hoped that the right hon. Baronet would at once consent to the motion; but if the right hon. Baronet did not, then would he most respectfully, but most decidedly, oppose this part of the tariff. In endeavouring to show upon what grounds he should do so he had taken a lesson from the right hon. Baronet, by avoiding a particular reference to what might be the importation of this year or the next, and by taking at once a prospective view of the question. Mr. Meek, in his report, stated that a communication was about to be opened between the Danube and the Maine. Considering with that fact the quantity of cattle that might be had from the banks of the Danube at so low a price as to leave room for a considerable profit after the expenses were paid, he saw
nothing to prevent the Dutch, who had almost a Chinese veneration for manure, from buying cattle in Hungary, and fattening them for the British market. If there existed a probability of an increase in the supply of cattle, as stated by Mr. Meek, from Prussia, Wurtemberg, Hanover—in fact, from the whole of Europe— he conceived he was justly entitled to ask for the consideration of the right hon. Baronet to the motion with which he now begged to conclude, namely,—
That the duties to be levied on all lire stock imported from foreign countries for the purposes of food be taken by weight.
§ Mr. R. Palmer
seconded the motion, and said, that he could not allow the present opportunity to pass without expressing his entire concurrence in the view which his hon. Friend had taken of the question before the committee, and, at the same time, stating what he himself knew to be the feeling of the agricultural portion of the community in general with respect to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet as to cattle. Whatever opinions might have been entertained by that class of society upon the question of the Cornlaw—and he knew there was a great difference of opinion upon that subject, some thinking that the new scale would operate injuriously to the agricultural interest, whilst others thought it would not;—still he would venture to say, there was scarcely any part of the country where the measure now proposed by the right hon. Baronet was not considered as most injurious to the agricultural interest,—and inconsequence there had been very great alarm excited in the agricultural districts. He did not see why an animal weighing, perhaps, six cwt. should be brought into this country alive and pay but 1l. duty, when, if brought in after being killed, it should pay as much as 48s., or 8s. in the cwt. He, therefore, cordially supported the motion which his hon. Friend had introduced so much in detail as to render it unnecessary for him to occupy the time of the House in making any observations to support it.
§ Mr. C. Wyndham
begged to dissent from the opinion that the proposed measure of the Government bad created anything like a general panic. He, at least, had seen nothing of it in the county with which he was connected. Even supposing a panic did exist, there were no grounds for it, inasmuch as those countries which 630 had been referred to as likely to supply the British market had not the cattle wherewith to do so, or if they had, they were of an inferior sort, and not fit for the British market.
The Earl of March
felt it necessary, after what had just fallen from his hon. Colleague, to say, that he agreed in everything that had been stated by the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the motion, and that in the county which he represented, in common with his hon. Colleague, the greatest fears existed on account of the proposed tariff.
§ Mr. G. J. Heathcote
felt that he was contending against fearful odds in supporting the motion of the hon. Member for East Somersetshire, inasmuch as they had the leaders of both sides of the House leagued against them. He would not exaggerate the state of panic into which the agricultural interest had been thrown by the announcement of the proposed changes in the tariff, but he could assure the House that the strongest feelings existed on the subject, and that the consequence had been an enormous depreciation in the value of produce. Country gentlemen of moderate fortune, yeomen possessing a small property, and the tenantry generally, complained that the right hon. Baronet had laid an Income-tax on them, and had at the same time diminished their means of paying it, by depreciating the price of their produce. They complained that he had relieved the other parts of the community at their expense. The right hon. Baronet had engaged in three great experiments, of I which no man could foresee the results. This, however, was admitted on all hands, that all the benefits to be derived from those experiments were to be for the commercial and manufacturing interests, while all the risk and all the loss was on the side of the agricultural interest. The right hon. I Baronet had mainly based his proposition on the assumed fact, that it would be for the benefit of the country that the price of living should be made cheaper, and argued that the price of meat had risen to an improper height. The right hon. Baronet had taken the prices of 1835 as his standard; but what were the circumstances of the country in 1835? It was the time of the most bitter agricultural distress that had ever occurred within the memory of man in this country. The price of wheat was then only 39s. a quarter. There had been nothing so deplorable, since the period of the American war. In 1833, 631 a committee of that House had sat to consider the question of agricultural distress. In 1836, a committee had again been appointed to investigate the causee of agricultural distress; and the right hon. Baronet took the years between these two periods as the basis on which his new arrangements were to take place. As the right hon. Baronet chose to take 1835 as his standard, he might take 1812 as his standard, when wheat was 126s. a quarter, and the price of meat, for Greenwich Hospital, was 85s. a cwt.; and he might argue that, as the price was now 56s., the fall which had taken place, as compared with 1812, was greater than the rise, as compared with 1835. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet make use of such an argument; and he would ask the right hon. Baronet what would have taken place at the last election, if instead of talking about protection to agriculture, he had proposed, as a compromise, the prices of 1835? The hon. Member for West Sussex had said that, at present, there was no immense stock of cattle abroad, from which any very large importation could come, but a wise statesman should adapt his legislative measures not merely to present convenience, but to future contingencies. The only thing which had prevented the fertile countries in the north of Europe from increasing their stock both in regard to corn and cattle was the uncertainty of the market, and now that the market of England would be a certain one, there could be no doubt but that their stock of cattle and their importations to this country would increase. Let them take the case of wool. In Prussia, in 1816, the number of merino sheep was only three millions, and in 1837 these had increased to nearly eleven millions—so that in twenty years there had been an increase of eight millions in this kind of stock. Could any one believe that if there was a more lucrative mode of applying capital that sheep and other stock would not increase in a still greater ratio? In almost every town on the continent there was already a colony of English labourers, and some manufactures carried on with English capital, and a number of English establishments would spring up on the opposite coasts, in order that our traders might purchase provisions and bring them to our markets, that also with English capital. There was another thing which ought to be recollected, which was, that in the consideration of this subject they ought to 632 consider not merely the retail prices at which meat could be sold in towns, but the wholesale price at which it could be exported. The right hon. Gentleman in his calculations took his prices exclusively from the great towns, such as Hamburgh. It was rather the smaller towns that he should have taken, which was the opinion of Mr. Meek. He, however, believed that meat would come not only from Hamburgh and such large cities, but from the small towns and ports, and from the many navigable firths, channels and bays that indented the coast. The cattle dealers would, as a matter of course, go to those places. It was for their interest to purchase where they could buy the cheapest. An hon. Gentleman had given the House some account of the prices which prevailed in other countries. Perhaps he might be allowed to state what those prices were, in Denmark by putting the weight of the animal into English stones. He found that at Kiel, the price of an ox of 6001bs., that was 3 stone of 141b. to the stone, was only 71. He found that the prices of sheep were from 4s. to 20s. weighing 80 lbs. In Elsinore he found that beef was 20s. to 26s. per cwt., something more than 2d. but less than 3d. a pound. In the towns of Prussia and in Bremen it was nearly the same. The right hon. Gentleman stated, that fears had been expressed that beef would be brought over to this country from Hamburgh at 3d. a pound, and said that this fear was unfounded, as the price then was 6d. per lb. j but according to Mr. Meek, the retail price of beef at Hamburgh was 3½d. per pound. But it was argued, that the distance would act as a prevention to the cattle coming over; but did not hon. Gentlemen know that cattle came from the north of Scotland, a distance of 700 or 800 miles? Then it was said that the sea voyage would be a preventative; but were not great quantities of cattle brought from Ireland? He believed that Lancashire was almost entirely supplied from Ireland, with fat cattle also. Either these things would have an effect or they would not—if no effect, why make them? The hon. Baronet stated, he wished to make living cheaper; but yet his measures would not injure but benefit agriculture. But it was as impossible to have cheap provisions without low prices, as a game at whist, where all was to win. But it had been said, it would only lower meat ld. per lb. If a grazier made 5l. by a beast, he had 633 out of that to pay rents, rates and casualties, and make a profit. Now 1d. per lb. in a beast of 40 stone of 14 lbs. was 2l. 6s. 8d. or nearly all his profit. All the advantage was to be on one side—all the disadvantages on the other. Let them look at the case of the shipowners. They secured to them a monopoly of the coasting and colonial trade, and at the same time reduced the price of timber, benefitting the shipping interest to the extent of 600,000£, and leaving monopoly untouched. The protections given to the woollen, silk, and cotton trade were all in like manner untouched and he might state many other cases in point. The free-trade principles of hon. Gentlemen were, protection for themselves and free-trade for all the world else. Thanking the House, therefore, for the kind attention they had given him, he should conclude by expressing his intention to give his vote in favour of the proposition of the hon. Member for East Somerset.
§ Mr. Gladstone
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had directly ascribed to the measure of the Government, that whilst agriculture would suffer all the depreciations it occasioned, trade and commerce would reap the exclusive benefit of all its advantages. Into this argument he thought he need not enter; indeed, he might even venture to leave it to the Friends of the hon. Member—to those who sat opposite and around him—he might leave it to them to settle with him that part of the account. But whilst he would refrain from going over such reasoning, the fact of its being used in support of this motion was not to prevent him from entering seriously into the principle of the question before the House. It was, he admitted, a question of great importance, and being of such importance he must say that he highly approved of the moderation of tone in which it had been brought forward by the hon. Mover, the Member for East Somerset, and by the hon. Seconder the representative of Berkshire; and further, he would say, that he thought nothing could be more fair, than the statement of the first of those hon. Gentlemen of the objects, important as they were, which he and others who agreed with him had in view. The hon. Gentleman said, that what they desired was the maintenance of such a moderate protective duty as would enable the British agriculturists to compete with the foreigner. He was sure that all who heard him, even those who were the most fully prepared to act 634 with the hon. Member, were persuaded that the Government had also that object in view, and that they would disbelieve the imputation that these changes were arranged in such a manner as not so to place the interests—the vital and important interests—of the British farmer. But when he said this, he would also beg to repeat an opinion which he had before expressed in that House, that those Gentlemen who were the ornaments of what he might call the science of agriculture did not always cherish a sense of the benefits derived from the skill and enterprise applied to it, but were rather inclined to rely over much on the so-termed protection of legislative enactments. This was his opinion of their views; with regard to his own, let him preface what he had to say by remarking, that he would be the last man in that House to vote for anything that he really believed to be injurious to the interests of the British farmer, for although he did not like, and was always loth to draw any distinction between classes, yet he must say that if any class was entitled to a greater degree of protection than another, it was that class by whose labour and industry we were supplied with the chiefest necessaries of our subsistence. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would have tailed in his duty had he proposed less by this measure than the fair degree of protection requisite for enabling the farmer to enter into competition with foreign producers; and so sure was he that in many points the protection already existing would by the new measure be rather augmented than reduced, that he might say he thought it a subject of regret that this measure had not been introduced long ago, instead of being now for the first time submitted to the attention of the House. In bringing forward this motion, the hon. Member for East Somerset had said something as to the alarm which existed among agriculturists upon this subject, and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had also referred to the depression which agricultural interests were said to have undergone since the publication of the new scale of duties. Now, with respect to any depreciation which might have occurred in the price of the article of meat, it was a fact worthy of notice, that depression had taken place quite as much on articles concerning which alarm did not prevail, as on articles which it was feared would be greatly lowered in price by the contemplated alterations. 635 An hon. Member had said in the course of the debate that he did not at all fear any fall in mutton. Now, the fall in the price of mutton at the present time was as great as that in the price of beef, and this was a fact which he thought he was entitled to take as a proof that it was not the publication of the tariff that invariably caused the reduction in prices. But let the House remember, that this reduction was by no means so general as they had been taught to believe. What were the accounts they received from districts and places in which fairs had been recently bolden? He held in his hand an account of three different fairs held in different parts of Ireland, and he must say, that referring to this document, and then comparing the speeches of the two hon. Members for West Sussex, there was, as it seemed to him, very conclusive evidence that the view taken by the first of these hon. Members was the more correct. He would first read them the account given of the sales at the Carlow May fair:—The above fair, which is one generally of great importance to graziers at this season, was held on Wednesday, and was very numerously attended. Contrary to expectation, it was a good one, as stock realized remunerating prices, although many were naturally apprehensive that the contemplated changes would operate injuriously to the holders of stock at the present moment. There were some refreshing showers previous to the fair-day, which were useful, and tended to increase the value and the demand for young stock. On the whole, extensive graziers and experienced farmers have expressed themselves abundantly satisfied with the result of Wednesday's market, as a further proof of the groundless nature of the rumour that Sir Robert Peel's measures would be immediately felt in the Irish provision-market.Then the account went on to give particulars of the sales of cattle:—Of fat cattle there was a fair show, and sold well. Mr. P. Tomelin, Colonel Bruen's steward, got forty-six guineas for two oxen in prime condition; he also sold one lot of sheep at 3l., and a second lot at about 57s. each. Milch cows sold well, and were in good demand. Young stock were low, and were not in good condition. Dry cattle sold well. Mr. Bolton, of the Island, sold two lots—the one at 10 guineas, and the other at 10l. 17s. 6d. each. Two-year-old bullocks not in demand; but yearlings averaged from 4l. to 5l.; and three-year-old bullocks from 11l. to 13l. each.Here was au account of the fair at Clonmel:— 636Our fair this day was well attended, and cattle were in good demand, and remunerating prices given. Fat cows brought from 10l. to 12l.; in calf heifers, 8l. 10s. to 9l.; strippers, from 6l. to 7l.; heifers, 51. to 61.; yearlings, 3l. 10s. to 4l. 10s. A bullock, the property of Mr. John Bagwell, of Marlfield, brought,21l. 10s. Four bullocks, the property of the Earl of Glengall, brought 16l. each. Fat wethers brought from 2l. to 2l. 2s. 6d.; ewes, 35s. to 39s.; lambs, 17s. 6d: to 22s.The next extract he would read was an account of the sales at the Waterford May fair: —On Wednesday, there was a good supply of horned cattle, with a fair demand at remunerating prices. Sheep and lambs sold pretty well.He hoped, that with regard to the alarm stated to prevail on these subjects, these extracts would convey some comfort to those who were now filled with fear and trembling; but, as he before said, he did not think that degree of alarm was by any means so great as was represented, though, let it be what it might, he did say, that an alarm on the part of those who possessed no better means than the Government of judging of the capabilities of foreigners, ought not to be permitted by the House to be made a cardinal rule for the guidance of their legislative proceedings. The hon. Mover of this resolution deserved credit for much ingenuity and for much excellence of argument, but he claimed credit to himself for one result which he could not say he thought the hon. Member had attained. He referred to the intelligibility of the hon. Gentleman's motion, and he must say, that that resolution did appear to him to be very conveniently obscure in a most material point connected with the subject. Let him ask what was the hon. Gentleman's intention with, regard to the amount of duty to be taken by weight? Was it to be 8s., 1s. 6d., or 1s., or 6d. per cwt.? He apprehended it would be, to say the least, a wretched consolation to the hon. Member and his friends were the Government to offer a duty of 1s. per cwt. in lieu of that proposed under the new tariff, and with a view only to the gratification of the hon. Member's partiality for a duty to be taken by weight. Some hon. Gentlemen appeared to think that no such rate of duty would be contemplated. Of course, he had no means of knowing at what point the hon. Member intended to fix his duty, but he apprehended, he would put it at 4s. or 5s. a cwt. Now, then, a word or two upon that point. He admitted, that theoretical 637 accuracy—if he might so express himself— might be best attained by taking the duty by weight. They might under that system attain a more perfect knowledge of the class of animal admitted; but this was a question of convenience as contrasted with that of greater accuracy, and they were to choose between the advantages of that convenience, and the advantages of a more precise adjustment. It was clear, that other countries had already decided the question in favour of the most convenient arrangement. Animals appeared rated on the tariffs of most other nations; but he did not know of one solitary case in which the duty was leviable upon the weight of the animal. In every case the rate of duty was taken per head, and there were, he thought, many means of accounting for this uniformity. In the first place, some difficulties might arise in defining what animals were imported as articles of food, or for the purpose of breeding. They must also have weighing machines. What he meant to say was, that they must have a weighing apparatus constructed for the purpose of taking the weight of these animals at particular parts of docks or quays, at which particular docks or quays, vessels laden with these animals must discharge their cargoes, or else cause great inconvenience to other vessels in the same port. All these delays would be annoying and expensive. [Laughter. They might laugh, and think that of trivial moment, but time had its price in all mercantile transactions, and although he was far from saying, that inconveniences like these might not be overruled when there were material advantages to be gained by resorting to such expedients, yet, where no such effects were clearly apparent, all such inconveniences must be looked on as material disadvantages and as greatly detracting from the value of any particular system. He now proceeded to the argument of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, who had referred to the duty on spring corn, and the difference between the duty on live animals and dead meat. His hon. Friend said that the duty on dead meat was worse than that on spring corn, and the duty on live animals worse than that on meat. Now he must say, that he was prepared to contend that the duty of 1l. was a fair duty on live meat; and saying this he did not admit that there was such a discrepancy between that and the other duties to which his hon. Friend had alluded, and on which he insisted. 638 He did not then go into the difference between the duty on corn and the duty on meat; but then there was not the discrepancy that was supposed between the 8s. on dead meat, and the duty to be levied on oxen. The duty levied on oxen covered the lean and fat. Now, if it were the case that the home grower was likely to be overwhelmed by the foreign grower, a fair case would be made out for making a distinction between lean and fat cattle. It would, he thought, in such a case, be perfectly fair and reasonable to do this. He took the case on which his hon. Friend relied as a test for the fitness of what was proposed, and he argued that the duty of 1l. on a fat ox was not out of proportion with the 8s. duty on meat imported dead. There were several points of great importance connected with this branch of the subject, which they would do well not to overlook. Four reasons particularly struck him why a higher duty should be imposed on dead meat than on live cattle, and two of those reasons, being those of the least importance, he would at once state to the House. In the first place, there being a higher rate of insurance on live cattle, necessary to cover the greater risk of transit, the dead meat being likewise prepared for the table and arrived at what he might call its ultimate stage of manufacture, the last state at which labour was expended on it, it ought, as he thought, to be subjected to a somewhat higher rate of duty. Thus, then, it would seem that the apparent difference in the duties would be equalized by the difference of trade in the two articles, for it would be found upon inquiring that the importation of dead meat from Scotland into this country was much larger than that of live cattle. To show how the duty and charges on live cattle and dead meat would operate he would suppose that the expenses attendant on the importation of cattle from Hamburgh was the same as was the duty on cattle imported from Aberdeen, though in reality it was somewhat higher in the former case. The expenses of importing live cattle from Hamburgh would then be 2l. 4s. or 21. 5s. for an ox weighing about six cwt. He would not take cattle of an enormous size, which would perplex the calculation. Adding to the 2l. 5s. for freight and expenses the proposed duty of 1l., it would make the whole 3l. 5s. Dead meat could be imported from Hamburgh at the rate of 1l. freight for six cwt., and with the proposed duty the difference of the ex- 639 penses between the two would be as 3l. 6s. to 3l. 10s., and this difference would soon be equalized by the different amounts of the quantities imported. There was another distinction which should also be taken into account in all calculations upon this subject. It should be remembered that the carcass was not of uniform value in all its parts. Some parts were ordinary, whilst others were fine. About one-third part of the carcass might be estimated at about 25 per cent, above the average. If the cattle were imported alive from Hamburgh the whole would cut up as average meat, but if dead meat were imported, there was no doubt the importations would consist of the primest pieces. It was true, that in hot weather little or nothing would be done in the way of importing dead meat; but at other times it could come ready dressed for the table in forty-eight hours, and the importer would forward the prime pieces, keeping the coarser parts for the lower consumers in his own country. Thus, if an ox worth 16l. were imported, paying 3l. 6s. for freight and duty, there would be an addition of 22 per cent. on the value, whilst six cwt. of picked meat, worth 20 per cent, more than the other, costing 18l. in the market, would only pay 19½ freight and duty on the price, whilst the live stock paid 22 per cent. Leaving, however, the subject of relative duties, he would say, that in his opinion the duty of 1l. per head on live stock was quite as much as it ought to be. In considering this subject, it would be necessary to revert to the important question of the increase which had taken place in the price of meat in this country. It was said that his right hon. Friend, in proposing the tariff, went no further back than 1835; but even if he had gone further back a still stronger case could have been made out. It was true that in 1832 and in 1833 the prices were higher than in 1835 and 1836, but they were lower than the prices of 1838, 1839, 1840, and 1841. He had before him a return of the number of sheep and horned cattle sold at the great October fairs of Dunlo and Ballinasloe from the year 1790 to 1841. The oxen in the list were divided into four classes, and he would give the results of 1830 and 1841. In 1830 the first class oxen were 11l., and in 1841 they were 18l. The second class in 1830 were 9l. 10s., and in 1841 they were 17l. The third class in 1830 were 7l. 10s., and in 1840 they were 14l. 10s.: and the fourth class in the former 640 period were 6l., whilst in the latter they were 11l. Now, it could not be contended that even in 1830 meat was at an extraordinary low price in these countries. The returns from the Poor-law unions would also serve to show the progress of increase, and he had a list of contracts for several unions in Cornwall, Cumberland, Lincoln, Norfolk, and Yorkshire, with which he should not, however, trespass on the House. The effect upon prices was different in different parts of the country in the degree that facilities of communication were afforded. Formerly, in different parts of the country there were different prices of meat; but since the immense facilities of communication had taken place, they had caused that difference to disappear. Before there was an access to the great markets, the prices of meat in remote districts were very much lower than they were at present. This was an important item with them, in considering the change now proposed in the tariff. He had heard Gentlemen from remote districts say, that where the price was 4d. or 5d., it was now 6d. and 7d. If that were so, was it not, he asked, a serious grievance? If there had been such a rise in the price of meat, must it not have materially tended to restrict the comforts of the people. He believed in London, or as his hon. Friend had quoted Greenwich, the prices had remained pretty equal, and yet in some of the large markets the prices had altered considerably. There had been a great rise in price in Liverpool, although it received the great bulk of that immense supply of provisions that came from Ireland. In Liverpool the price of butcher's meat bad, in the last ten years, risen 1d. or 1½d the pound. In such a case some measure was imperatively called for which would check an increase in the price—which would prevent meat from becoming still more dear. Another question must be considered. An hon. Gentleman had spoken wisely, when he said it was necessary for Government to look to the future. Had they not then a rapidly increasing population, and was it not necessary that proper provisions should be made to meet the wants of a rapidly increasing population? Was there any probability of providing for the increase from their own markets? He wished he could persuade himself that there was a chance of a larger importation of cattle than experience would prove it to be the case. There was no cause for apprehension. He doubted that they would be able to do much more 641 than provide for the increase of the population of the country. He came now to the question as to the increase of the population; but he wished first to consider where was the supply to come from? He had heard agricultural Gentlemen say, that they did not mind a decrease in the price of 1d. in the pound, but a decrease of 2d. or 2½d. they looked to with dread. He did believe they had no such ground for apprehension. He even believed, that if they laid on no duty at all upon the importation of foreign cattle, yet they might have no fear for any such reduction in the price. He wished, however, to put no hypothetical case as to the freedom of trade—as to that which they did not propose to establish. He must say, with great deference towards the judgment of those who entertained the notion, that there could not be anything more visionary than that there would be a reduction of 2d. or 2½d. through the operation of the tariff. A great fallacy ran through the argument of his hon. Friend. He took the market price of Kiel, and forgot that it was British demand that was to be supplied. The second fallacy was this, that he overlooked a very material element in the calculation; for, unless he could show that a large quantity could be imported, the British farmer had nothing to fear. What, he asked, was the consumption of the country, respecting which so much was apprehended? The consumption of oxen in London was 200,000 head in the year, and in the whole country 1,600,000 head of oxen. What effect could a small number of foreign cattle have upon such a mass as this? His hon. Friend had swelled his figures when he talked of imports from France and Belgium. From France the exports to other countries were cows, and largely; and the exports from Belgium consisted, in a considerable degree, of calves. They were, then, not to expect a supply from France. They there saw the effect of high prices, and diminished consumption. As to Belgium, there was no chance of exports of cattle from that country. The same thing was taking place in Brussels as in Paris—a continual rise in the price, and continued diminution in the consumption. As to the German union, they had little to fear from that, which was rather an importing and not an exporting country. His hon. Friend had then proposed the Baltic; but then, he asked, did his hon. Friend entertain any serious apprehensions as to the importation of live cattle from the Baltic? Was it to 642 be supposed that they could have a considerable import of cattle, with the long voyage from the Baltic? Let them take Ireland as an example—or let them look to Scotland, and though no duty was imposed, yet for the sake of convenience, it preferred sending dead meat to live cattle by a long sea voyage. Ireland did not send any of her cattle by a long voyage. All the cattle from that country came by the nearest ports. The expences then and charges on the import of cattle from the Baltic would be such that they need have no apprehensions on the matter. Again, he said he should be glad to hear what was the calculation of his hon. Friend as to the number of cattle that was likely to come from the Baltic. Looking at Europe, he could not see where they were to get a supply of animals. He wished his hon. Friend in the course of his speech had given his own estimate of the probable importation from the continent of horned cattle in the next five years. He had, indeed, seen a statement in the newspapers, in which was mathematically proved what the consequences of this change would be. It was there stated that 100 sows in three or five years would give birth to 232,000,000 pigs. Calculations of that kind were as rational and as wise as many of the objections that were made to this proposition; but they ought not to be made the basis of a serious opposition. He wished Gentlemen, like his hon. Friend, would seriously attempt to draw their own conclusions and their own estimates as to the number of horned cattle that might be expected to come into this country in the course of five years. It was not in that House he had heard it, but he found this to be stated on the authority of our agriculturists, that in five years there would be an importation of 80,000 head per annum. At present there were not 30,000 head disposable. Let them take it, then, as it was supposed —that in five years the import of foreign cattle from the continent would be 86,000 horned cattle. Now, if that were a fair calculation, he would be glad to know if it would do more than provide for the increase in the population? A calculation had been made as to the consumption of animal food per head in this country. The amount was about fifty pound per head annually. He assumed that the half of the meat consumed was beef. The consumption then of beef was 25 per cent. Looking to the increase of the population in this country, as it had been for the last 643 ten years, they found it to increase 227,000 souls a-year. If the population continued thus to increase for the next five years, as it had done for the last ten years, they might prove by arithmetic, that in order to keep the price of meat down to what it was at present — to prevent its rising farther, not to reduce it— they ought, by giving the same amount of supply that they now had, to have for their increasing population 80,000 head of cattle. Where, then, was there the rational ground for supposing, they would be overwhelmed by any importation of foreign cattle. Hence they found, that there were but 16,000 head of cattle to supply the present demand. They next saw, that the prices of meat showed a rise, considerably on the increase, for the last ten or twelve years. In his opinion, they required a greater supply than any they could anticipate to receive from the continent. It was under these circumstances, that he conceived no ground had been laid for the apprehensions expressed by his hon. Friend. Nothing could be more fallacious than showing the difference of the expenses in Denmark and in this country in the rearing of cattle. In that, as in all other cases, the expenses of production were greater here than abroad. What enabled them to compete with others? Their capital, their natural wealth, and their industrious population. They were enabled to stand on an equality with the whole world, notwithstanding their heavy debt and their serious difficulties. Despite of these, they were able to contend against the whole world. The consideration as to the cost of production here, as compared with other countries, was one that was important at all times to regard; but still that must be received with great qualification, because without that qualification, it would go to prove, that the proper course for that House to pursue, would not be to lower protecting duties, but to double them, and to banish from their shores the trade of the whole World. Then his hon. Friend had referred to salted provisions from America. They could be had from 20s. to 25.?. at New Orleans the two cwt., it was said by his hon. Friend; and they could be brought here for duty and all at about 21. 4s. or 5s. [Mr. Miles stated that was of one description.] If the positions of his hon. Friend were correct, the American salted meat could, even with the present duty, have undersold that both of Hamburgh 644 and Ireland. Why did it not do so? The beef of Canada was to be had at Liverpool, under the name of Indian beef, for 2l. or 2l. 4s. the three cwt., that was about 2d. the pound. It could be sold for half the usual price of Indian beef. And yet the salted beef of Canada for 3lto 5l. was neglected in bond, and Irish beef at 8l. was taken in preference. Why so; because of the superior quality of the Irish meat. His hon. Friend, the Mover of the resolutions before the committee, did not look to the inferiority of the productive powers of the continent as compared with the—he would not say with the soil'—but with the capital expended, the skill shown, the energy and perseverance of the British agriculturist. He would refer to a case in point, which had been already, he believed, brought before the notice of the House. Why were horses bred to such an extent in England, instead of being imported from the continent? The importation of horses for the last year, was only about 300, while the House was perfectly aware, that our exportation amounted to upwards of 4,000 or 5,000. Now, why did they not buy cheap continental horses? They would say that the breed was inferior. But when they said so, did they not remember, that the breed of cattle was also of an inferior description? But you might say, "when there is a demand, the breed will be improved." But why have they not improved their horses? They have had the opportunity, the means of doing so. Horses bore a high price in this country, and if they looked to Mr. Meek's report, they would find, that upon the continent, horses might be had at such prices as would justify hon. Members in saying, that they might be imported into this country, pay the duty of 1l. per head, and after all undersell the British breeder. Such might be the case, but yet it was Dot so. And were not those facts— was not the experience which they had had, better than a great deal of speculation? The cause which excluded French horses, was the operation of the superiority of English producers, and to that they might safely trust, as to the introduction of cattle. Again, he repeated, that although a large importation of cattle would be desirable to meet the wants of the increasing numbers of our population, yet that it appeared to him to be chimerical to imagine that a very great reduction in price would take place. He would not venture to state any point of price as that likely under the 645 operation of the tariff to be attained, but he repeated, that no great reduction was likely to ensue. There was one other point which he would notice before sitting down, and that was, that some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think, that if the operation of the tariff would only be to give rise to a small importation of cattle, what was the use of altering the law at all? He had heard hon. Gentlemen say—"Why interfere? Why not leave the matter to the natural operation of supply and demand?" But it was the violent interference of the existing system with the natural operations of supply and demand, which made it desirable that that system should undergo some modification. It did not follow, that because the operation of the tariff would be only to produce a moderate importation, that they were to consider the benefit of the change as measured by the actual reduction of prices. Suppose that 50,000 head of cattle were to be annually imported, such importation would produce but a small effect upon the prices of meat, but it would create an import trade to the amount of half a million of money—a trade which, in its nature, would lead by a smooth, certain course of operation, to an export trade in return, of an equal amount; which would contribute—he did not say in a moment, but in the course of years—to an increased demand for employment and labour. The proposition was a safe one; the benefit to the country would be large, and the reduction of prices to the consumer, whatever that reduction would amount to, would be also beneficial. That reduction would be moderate—it would be within the limits which the friends of agriculture —the best friends of agriculture—had declared, that they could incur reduction of price without apprehension. The benefit the proposed change would confer upon trade would be considerable, and the grounds upon which it had been opposed, the fears which had been raised as to its application, he contended were not justified by the circumstances of the case.
§ Dr. Bowring
entered into a number of statistical details, to prove the effects of restrictive duties upon meat on the continent. The increase of price had always produced a diminution of consumption, and a deterioration in the quality of the food consumed. He believed that the measures of the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Treasury, though not carried out to the extent to which he could 646 wish, would yet be productive of substantial good, and were loudly called for by the necessities of the country. Although there was no part of Europe capable of sending a great quantity of cattle to this country, yet the effect of the tariff would be to produce a constant tendency towards the importation of cattle. But the measure was more important as abolishing the last great opprobrium in the existing tariff— prohibitory duties. Those who had advocated the interests of trade and manufactures had been continually met with fragments of the old prohibitory system, and the utter abolition of that system did honour to the Government, and he hoped that still greater effect would be given to those excellent and truly commercial principles, which were at last to be found, not only in the words of Government, but were to be traced in its actions.
said, that when he first heard the announcement of the plan of the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, that announcement, had certainly struck him with some alarm, but that feeling had in a great degree been dissipated by the language he had heard made use of out of the House. He had often been met by Gentlemen, who said there certainly existed a panic in the country, but that the farmers were wrong; they should have opposed the alteration in the Corn-laws; but as their representatives had voted for the Corn-bill, such was the panic among agriculturists, that they must. have some good agricultural division, in order to satisfy the farmers. He had heard it said, "You can vote for the motion now before the House—-you will do no harm—it can't be carried— Government are safe. You may do as you please, and satisfy your constituents without injuring the Government." But was not such language merely throwing dust in the eyes of the farmers, to vote for a resolution which they knew could not be carried—which they did not intend should be carried? He would only say, that he would not stoop to be a party to any such course. He thought that the alarm which prevailed was perfectly groundless, and he would give his unflinching opposition to the resolution moved by the hon. Member for Somersetshire.
§ Mr. H. Gaily Knight:
I am anxious to say a few words in explanation of the vote which it is my intention to give, because 647 I feel myself placed in an embarrassing situation; for, independent of all interested considerations, by which, I trust, I should never be actuated, it is far from agreeable even to seem to be indifferent to the opinions and wishes of many for whom I entertain the most sincere respect and esteem. But, upon the present occasion, what course is it my duty to take? If, after having given my best attention to this subject, and listened attentively to the luminous, and, as it appears to me, conclusive speech of my hon. Friend, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, 1 cannot help being of opinion, that the panic with respect to live cattle is entirely groundless, shall I best serve my agricultural friends by encouraging impressions which I believe to be erroneous, by contributing, so far as in me lies, to keep the panic alive, or by telling them, that so far as I am able to form an opinion, there is no necessity for any alarm. It appears to me, that so far as lean cattle are concerned, not only is there nothing to be apprehended from an increased supply, but that an increased supply would be a great advantage, could we obtain it. It is our duty to supply the people with food as cheaply as we can, as cheaply as is compatible with no great disturbance of agricultural labour. It is our duty to provide for our rapidly increasing population; and, when we see by the example of the increased supply from Scotland and Ireland, how little effect such an increase has upon price, we need not apprehend that any such further increase as is likely to take place, would be injurious to the English farmer. Why, then, the doubt confines itself to the consideration of fat cattle. But from whence are these fat cattle to come? I mean in any such abundance as would be injurious to the agricultural interest. They cannot come in any quantity from the neighbouring countries—not from France, from Belgium, or Holland, because the supply in those countries, is greatly inferior to the demand. But, then, we are to be inundated from Holstein. Fat bulls from Holstein encompass us on every side. Yet the Vice-President of the Board of Trade has told us, that the annual consumption in Great Britain is nearly 1,600,000 head of cattle, whilst the greatest number that Holstein has ever exported in any one year does not exceed 27,000; and Holstein has, also, to supply the large town of Ham- 648 burgh in its immediate vicinity. What have we then to fear from Holstein? and if cattle are comparatively cheap in that country at present, is it not certain that the price must increase with the demand? We must look for a larger area; but, if we turn to France, what is the state of their agriculture, what is the quality of their stock? They have nothing wherewith to fatten, and nothing that can be fattened. Who, that ever was in France, and has seen their lean oxen, and their frightful pigs, and tasted their detestable mutton, who can pretend to be alarmed at the prospect of such a competition? What be terrified at a nation that can hardly get up one half-fed beast in a year, to represent a fat animal at their national feast of Mardi-Gras? Have we forgotten every thing in our alarms? Have we forgotten our own superior breed? our own short-horns? The time, the pains, the expense, which it has taken to obtain them? Have we forgotten the gibes which our forefathers used to pass on the food of our neighbours? The land of soup-meagre and frogs—the land where the meat is so inferior that they dare not exhibit it in the shape of a joint? Have we forgotten that picture of Hogarth, in which an English Sir-loin is making its entrance into Calais, and exciting mingled emotions of surprise and admiration? In respect of agriculture and the breed of cattle, there is no great change in France, between those times and these—and abundant indeed must be the application of capital, and protracted must be the lapse of time, before any such change can be effected in that country as would be prejudicial to this. I cannot think that there are any just grounds for our apprehensions. I feel assured, that the roast beef of old England, like her own flag, which has braved the battle and the breeze for a thousand years, will continue to maintain its supremacy— and that neither of them will ever fare the worse for foreign competition. Entertaining these sentiments, I think it would be wrong in me to support this motion— first, because, in so doing, I should encourage erroneous opinions; and, secondly, because, in so doing, I should be acting most unfairly by the right hon. Baronet, who is the author of the new tariff. I should induce the agriculturists to think him less their friend than he really is; and, when he is labouring hard, as I believe him to be, to promote their welfare, as well as that of 649 others, it does appear to me that he does not deserve such a return at our hands. My belief is, that the right hon. Baronet is no less the friend of the agricultural interest than of the manufacturing—my belief is, that he has done his best fairly to adjust the claims of the two great interests in this country—that his intention is to continue to deal fairly by both—and my belief is, that when all his measures shall have come into operation, both will find that they have been taken care of. I am aware that, in declaring these opinions, I shall incur the ridicule of Gentlemen opposite, for being, what they tell me I am, so complete a gull. They will tell me that the right hon. Baronet is getting in the narrow end of the wedge, as his agricultural friends will find to their cost; that he will throw them over as soon as he can, and sink them, with the most perfect indifference, beneath the billows of free-trade. I can only say that "I will not entertain so base a thought." Even if such were his intentions, shall I not make it more difficult for him to use me ill by giving him my frank support, by embarrassing him with my faithful allegiance, than if I were to afford him the pretext of a senseless and vexatious opposition? But, because the right hon. Baronet adopts the principles of free-trade, why am I to conclude that he will push them to objectionable extremities? There may be some risk in the introduction of the narrow end of the wedge—but 1 have learnt by experience that there is much more risk in nailing down the safety-valve. No destruction is so complete as that which must result from such infatuation. I am persuaded that the right hon. Baronet, adopting the principles of free-trade, taking them for his compass and his guide, will carry them out with caution, with moderation; will carry them out as far as is for the good of the whole community, and no farther. He is not the man to be wheedled by cajoleries, or dazzled even by the bright visions which have been held up to him by Gentlemen opposite, into a reckless or imprudent course. In the present slate of the world, nothing can be more absurd than to say that if you once acknowledge the truth of principles, you are bound to carry them out to their utmost extent. There are no more dangerous men in the world than your purists. We all know who said, "Perish thousands, and carry out your principle"—and to 650 what that sentiment led. If we were starting afresh, it might be all very well; but, in the present state of society, interests have grown up, which cannot be overlooked without doing more harm than good. I am persuaded that the right hon. Baronet will only go as far as is for the interest of all, and so far I am willing, and desirous, to go with him. And, when Gentlemen opposite taunt us agriculturists with our sudden conversion to the doctrines of free-trade, I beg leave to inform them, that it was not of these doctrines we were afraid but of Radicalism— of the strict alliance with men of extreme opinions; of the perpetual nibbling and pecking at the main support of the Constitution and the Throne; of the lax manner in which the reins of Government were held. It was not about coffee or sugar that we were anxious; any particular measures—any minor considerations; but about the whole form of Government, and the whole structure of society. And much more reason should we have to be afraid, if, by any injudicious destruction of the measures of the right hon. Baronet, we should pave the way for the return to power of the last Administration. Then, indeed; would they ride rough-shod over us agriculturists — then, indeed, would they leave the marks of their heavy hoofs upon the broken heads of clay. I will never knowingly consent to any thing which would, in any great degree, disturb the agricultural labourers of this country. I see the difficulties of providing for, and of governing, our large manufacturing masses. I do not believe in the possibility of indefinitely extending the limits of foreign demand. I cannot, therefore, think it would be advisable to convert any great number of agricultural labourers into operatives. By so doing, we should not cure the distress, but augment it. But in whatever way trade can be relieved, short of producing such a change as that to which I have alluded, I think it should be relieved. The alterations proposed by the new tariff are calculated to have this effect; and feeling sure that no injury will be done to the agricultural interest, I am not inclined to interfere with the tariff by supporting-the motion which is now before the House.
§ Lord Alford
was understood to say, that he differed from the principles embodied in the resolution of the hon. Member for Somersetshire.
§ Mr. W. O. Stanley
thought, that if the 651 measure of Government had been known at the late election, the result would have been different from that which it had turned out. He would maintain his formerly expressed opinion, that the agriculturists required certain protection; and he thought that the measures of the Ministry did not give them the amount of protection to which they were entitled. These measures had not been founded upon fair principles. If they were, he would give them his support; but, limited in extent and scope as they were, he could not support them. What with the Income-tax, the new Corn-law, and the tariff, the landed interest would be very hardly pressed. At first, they might not feel the effects of the tariff in the importation of cattle, but many years would not pass until they would be introduced in great numbers. He thought, on the aggregate, the right hon. Gentleman's measures would be productive of good. The hon. Gentlemen opposite had spoken of the poor breed of pigs on the continent. But let them see what the effect of opening a market for Irish produce had been. They now brought into this country as fine cattle as could be procured.
Lord J. Russell:
1 really hardly know, from what has fallen from the different Members in the course of this debate, what is really intended by the proposition submitted to us. The noble Lord, the Member for Oxfordshire told us, that he was asked to support this proposition as a good means of pleasing the farmer without any likelihood of its being carried or of damaging the Government. I thought that must be a singular notion. But my hon. Friend the Member for the county of Nottingham made a statement more startling still. He says, that the opinions of the present Ministers and their party never differed from those of the other side, but that when they voted on coffee and sugar they did not mean coffee and sugar, but they meant Radicalism. Now, how a plain man is to deal with this proposition after such announcements I am very much at a loss to determine. I own, likewise, that the propositions of the supporters and opposers of the motion have surprised me during the discussions on the previous and on the present occasion. I should have thought that those who came forward to propose, that cattle should be admitted at a moderate fixed duty, would have endeavoured to show that great benefit would 652 accrue from that importation taking place, and that the labouring classes of this country might procure at a cheaper rate more animal food—their welfare being, of course, proportionably promoted. I quite expected, also, that the other side would have shown the fallacy of supposing that the supply which was predicted could be relied on; that it was a mistake to think that any of the countries on the continent could give us a large quantity of provisions, and that the price of meat would substantially remain the same after this act became law. But, in point of fact, the arguments of the two parties are the reverse of what I have stated. Those who oppose the motion come forward to show that the comforts of the people will be increased; that the price of subsistence will be lowered; while, on the other hand, it is contended that no such difference will arise from the passing of this tariff. I must confess, if I could believe all the statements of the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles), his I should take to be the ablest and most convincing speech in favour of the proposition of the Government. He says,Certain countries will become depots for the fattening of cattle, which they can do by reason of their abundance of corn, and send them over at a moderate price; that this meat could be had at 41/4d. a lb.; and that the grosser parts being got rid of, the people will secure a better article at a cheaper rate.If that is the case, let us by all means adopt the proposition. What are we sitting here for? Are we sitting here to prevent the people from having cheap food? Are we here for the purpose of contriving, by our legislation, that the labouring population should be compelled to purchase meat at 7d., when they might have it at 4¼d.? 1 hope the wisdom of Parliament does not consist in adoping any such mischievous and injurious course. I hope, should the House be persuaded that the hon. Gentleman is right in his supposition, that they would at once agree to the proposal now laid before us by the Government. I am afraid, however, that the hon. Gentleman will not be able to make out that case, because I think the statements of the right hon. Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury, on a former night, and those of the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade to-night, are far better founded, from which the deduction may be drawn, 653 that when we consider the countries on the continent from which our present supply comes, if that supply should reach the increase of 30,000 in the course of a year or two, it will be the utmost we can depend on. Therefore, any material fall in the price of the subsistence of the people cannot be rationally expected. I very much lament this. It is a great misfortune, and it would be, in my mind, a great recommendation of the proposition of the Government, if such a supply could be expected. I think, perhaps, at some time hence, there may be a greater supply, and the people at less cost may have a better kind of food. I do hope (I really think the right hon. Gentleman could not have meant otherwise) that the consequence of our legislation will be, that the labouring classes may be able to eat more meat and at a cheaper price. Nothing can be better as the consequence of our legislation. But the hon. Gentleman who moved this amendment assumed that such a consequence is impossible, if the agricultural interest is duly respected. Now, I hold that, with respect to this subject, and to every subject connected with agriculture, that supposition is a great mistake. It appears to me to be a prediction which reason and experience confirm, that whenever you increase the comforts of the people—whenever you enable them to live better and obtain more employment, you thereby improve legitimately the market for agricultural produce. Such is the course which has taken place in Ireland and Scotland. We have seen the importation of cattle from Ireland very much increase. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last has told us that the breed of pigs is very much improved there, and all kinds of cattle are sent over in great quantities. We have seen, too, in consequence of the facility of communication afforded by steam, that killed cattle and fresh meat are sent from the Scotch markets to those of this country. But have these great importations tended to the distress of the agricultural interest, or lowered the price of meat? Far from it: the price has continued to rise. And I believe that if our importations were to increase in ten years to a point which I am not so sanguine as to anticipate, you would see the prices of agricultural produce generally kept up, and you would at all events see the agricultural interest derive advantage from the improved condition of the coun- 654 try. I must here state that when the right hon. Gentleman made his statement with respect to the tariff, I did not wish to oppose any obstacle to the House going into committee; but I must beg leave to remark that although the right hon. Gentleman proceeded on a perfectly sound principle, and although I was very glad to hear the propositions which the right hon. Baronet on a former evening, and the right hon. Vice-President of the Board of Trade laid down to-night, on cattle, I find it impossible to reconcile those principles and propositions to the legislation adopted both as regards the Corn Bill already passed and some parts of the present tariff. We have heard it stated by the right hon. Gentleman, that when he proposed a reduction of the duty on herrings, a correspondent of his stated, that it would reduce the price from 20s. to 10s. the barrel. The right hon. Baronet, however, professed to disbelieve the fact, but added that if there could be such a reduction in the price of the food of the labouring classes, it would be an argument in favour of and not against his proposition. I perfectly agree in the statement and in the principle; but when I recollect that a Member of the Government stated, in the late debate on the Corn-laws, that foreign corn could be introduced at 40s., it seems preposterous that the main article of the people's food should be treated on principles diametrically opposed to those which the right hon. Baronet and the Vice-president of the Board of Trade now maintain at all hazards. The right hon. Baronet on a former night observed that cattle could not be expected in any great quantities, because the area from which they could be imported was small, and they could not bear a long voyage; but that corn may be had from all the world. But what is the meaning of this argument? Here is a sound principle, one which can be adopted in practical legislation, one which you can make the basis of your future commercial policy, and hold up as an example to foreign nations, and yet we adopt it only where it is inoperative; but when it would effect most good, and be productive of most benefit to the people, we shrink from its application. That I cannot understand, much less can I understand it at a moment like this, when we yesterday heard in our churches the Queen's letter, calling for subscriptions to relieve the general distress. I have no 655 doubt, that it was right to adopt this course; but it is a melancholy step to take in the middle of May, when the distress of the winter might be expected to have passed away, and a revival given to trade by the spring demand. But if it was necessary to do this, and that the right hon. Gentleman was persuaded, that the cost of subsistence should be reduced, why not be consistent in your measures? why not deal with the articles of consumption in their regular order, and in the present year lay a sound foundation for future legislation, and afford a real example to the rest of the world, which they may be induced to follow, instead of compelling them to observe, that your professions of free-trade principles are mere words, and that when you come to act and apply them to yourselves, you adopt them merely in the cases when they can be of little or no practical benefit? So much for agriculture. But I am quite ready to answer the summons of the hon. Member for Rutlandshire (Mr. Heathcote). Have there not, I ask, been already great reductions in duties on manufactures? On the cotton manufacture there is a duty of 10 per cent., and on woollens 17 percent., but it should be recollected that great changes have already been made with respect to those articles; but with regard to other articles of manufacture, if it can be shown that any goods of great consumption by the farmers, are shut out by the high duty, I say, in all fairness and justice, admit those articles of manufacture. An hon. Gentleman, to be sure, pushes this principle to extremes, and says, that the coasting trade should be shared by foreigners. That is quite another question. It is not a question of trade or industry, but it rests on other and political principles. But there are other articles in the tariff on which you can make a great reduction. I do not understand why the farmer should be called on to compete with the foreigner in producing meat, and yet be prevented from purchasing sugar on equal terms, by an enormous prohibitory duty. On the whole, therefore, while I agree in the general grounds of the tariff, I cannot assent to some of its proposals. I cannot see that its practical benefit will be so great as the hon. Gentleman who moved this amendment would represent. I cannot see, that the admission of cattle will immediately take place to a great extent, but I think it of great value as the assertion of 656 a principle. It is, in the first place, putting an end to prohibition; in the next place, it is apportioning a fixed and moderate duty to great articles of consumption; but when the hon. Gentleman, who has given notice of a motion for making the duty on cattle equal to that on corn, shall submit his motion, I shall be inclined to assent to it, with this slight difference, that I shall endeavour to bring down the duty on corn to the proportion of that imposed on cattle. Entirely agreeing with the present proposal, and hoping that the Government will apply their principle to all articles, without fear or affection, I shall support them against the proposition of the hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir R. Peel
I was very desirous to be able to confine my observations to the particular subject now under discussion — whether it be wise to remove the prohibition which now exists on the importation of foreign cattle and meat—substituting a moderate duty. But the noble Lord has invited a discussion on other points—the Corn-laws, and the sugar duty. With regard to the sugar duty, there will be an opportunity of discussing that question; and I shall then state why we think that there are reasons which except sugar from the application of the general principles of the tariff. As to the Corn-laws, any one would have inferred from the speech of the noble Lord, that he was of opinion that, under all circumstances, and without any qualification, the people of this country should have a command of the cheapest food; but I take it that the noble Lord, the author of an 8s. duty, must himself impose some restriction on that principle for which to-night he seems inclined to contend. He must admit that, under all circumstances, it is not expedient without reference to other considerations that the people should have the cheapest food; because otherwise his principle will be entirely at variance with his own proposal of an 8s. duty on wheat. The noble Lord must admit, either that there are special burdens in agriculture which justify that duty, or that it is desirable to give some protection to domestic agriculture; and the question then between me and the noble Lord is not a question of principle— it is a question of degree. I propose a graduated duty. The noble Lord proposes a fixed duty; but in vindication of his 8s. fixed duty, the noble Lord must contend against the principle which he has put 657 forward to-night, taken without qualification or exception; and I therefore appeal to the noble Lord's assistance in support of my graduated scale. I do not, however, now wish to revive the discussion on the Corn-law; but I thought that the noble Lord had charged me with deluding the farmers; and had said, that if I had put forward any such proposition before the last election, the agricultural constituencies would not have implied an opinion so strongly in my favour; but now the noble Lord contends, that I have shown undue favour to the farmer, and have proposed a Corn-law at variance with the principles of the tariff. Surely, it is impossible for the noble Lord to contend, that I have deceived the farmer by holding out false expectations of protection, and, on the other hand, that I have shown him undue favour. I come now to this particular proposition; I am afraid, that unless I am able to apply myself to the particular proposals as they are made, there can be no prospect of bringing these discussions to a close; and I will, therefore, limit myself to the single point whether it be expedient to continue the existing prohibition, or to impose the duty proposed by the Government; and I discuss the question with my hon. Friend with perfect freedom and candour; I entirely differ from him in opinion upon this subject; but I am not, on that account, insensible to or ungrateful for the support which I have received in respect to my proposal of an Income-tax. Yes! I have received from the agricultural body, this Session, most valuable and generous support of the proposals which I have made; and the differences which may exist between us cannot disturb my grateful sense of their assistance; and, no doubt, greatly to the disappointment of some who now express dissent. I have not the least fear that the differences of to-night will continue beyond to-night. I, however, now maintain my own opinion; it seems to me that the interests of the country do require that the prohibition on the importation of foreign cattle should be removed, and I think that the proposal which I have made will benefit all classes of the community. When I spoke last, there was a prevalent apprehension and alarm at the proposal which I had made. I then said, that it was not consistent with the part of a true friend of the agriculturists to assume, that that panic was well founded; the reason which I gave for not acting on those ap- 658 prehensions, was my belief that it would be found, before we got to the end of the tariff, that those apprehensions were at an end; and the communications which I have received from the country prove the correctness of that impression. I think I may say, that the panic has already-passed away. I said, at that time that the then diminution in the price of cattle was attributable to other concurrent causes, as the price of fodder; and I felt, besides, very confident that when the sober judgment of the country was applied to the consideration of this subject, those apprehensions would give way to the natural consequence of that sober judgment. Now, I have looked into a country paper, and the country papers afford a very good indication of the feeling of the country; and I take this account, which is a report from Liverpool:—The price of cattle is still rising; there was a large supply in the market; but the prices were very high; we slated a fortnight ago, that the diminution in price was the consequence of a mere panic, and would not continue.If, then, I had acted on the panic, I should have been left in the lurch by the panic. I will now read another extract:—
§ "Liverpool, Monday, May 16—
We have had rather a large supply of cattle; but the prices are very high; beef 6¼d. to 7d.; mutton 7d. to 7¾d.
Now the price of beef and mutton being 7d. and 7¾d. at Liverpool, I put it to every intelligent Gentleman in this House whether it is right to continue the present prohibition? Why do I take Liverpool? Because Liverpool is the port into which the Irish supplies enter. Now, supposing twenty years since any one had said to a Liverpool man, "Look at the present supply of Irish cattle, I will tell you what it will be twenty years hence," wouldn't his natural answer have been, "Why, the English graziers will be ruined." In 1820, the number of cows and oxen brought from Ireland— I am not sure whether into England or Liverpool only—was 16,966; and on an average of the last five years, there have been brought from Ireland into the port of Liverpool alone 472,200 cows and oxen, or upon an average about 94,400 in each year. What has been the effect of that enormous increase on the prices? So far from the English grazier being injured, the prices have risen, notwithstanding that large increase. Under these circumstances,
is it wise to continue the present prohibition? Are we not bound to look for a wider area whence to draw our supply? Take the average of the five years preceding the last five, and the importation into Liverpool from Ireland was 54,800; compare that with the average of the five following years, which was 94,400; and do not these facts suggest important considerations is it not a just and almost necessary inference, that the population is increasing more rapidly than the supply? Whence, then, is our supply to come? Look at France, Holland, Belgium, and the States of the German Confederation— their population is sixty-five millions of inhabitants; they require cattle for their own supply of food; they are all, I believe, importing countries, and in each of them I am afraid the price of cattle and meat is rising, and the consumption increasing in proportion to the population. The noble Lord says,—
At one time you contend you ought to remove the prohibition, and at another time you say it will not materially affect the price of meat in this country.
"I must say that I wish it would reduce the prices, for I consider the price of meat too high. I take this proof of it:— Take Liverpool. I see that, by the great improvements in steam navigation, there are forwarded large supplies of cattle from Aberdeen and other parts of Scotland into Liverpool, and yet I see no benefit in that great community from such extensive importation. On the contrary, I see a progressive rise in the price of food. 1 say, then, that that is a conclusive proof of the necessity of removing the prohibition, and conclusive of the policy of widening the supply. If you tell me there is great alarm—a great panic in the markets, I am bound to say that I think that alarm unfounded. But what I admit to be the chief benefit from this alteration is this, that we are taking a new security against the constant progressive rise of the price of food in consequence of the diminution of the supply in this country, and the consequent rise of price of foreign cattle, I think that the foreigner will be ready to part with his cattle at a diminution of price of 25 per cent. At the same time, I am obliged to say, that when I consider the countries of Europe from which cattle can be introduced. I find them so few that I cannot think there will be any great diminution in the price of meat. Three
things are always put out of consideration, and those are—the quantity of cattle, the quality of the meat, and the inevitable consequence of the removal of the prohibition in increasing the price of meat upon the continent. Depend upon it you cannot open the markets of this country without, in some degree, raising the price of meat in other countries, and when my hon. Friend refers me to the prices of 4d. and 5d. per pound, he must recollect that those are the prices with this prohibition and with the English markets closed to the foreigner; but if you open the English market the necessary consequence will be some rise in the price abroad. But always bear in mind the quality of the meat, and dont think that meat at 4d. per pound in Hamburgh or Holstein, if such be the price, is such meat as that at 8d. per pound in Liverpool or London. The things are perfectly different. Meat of an equal quality with that which we consume in London, I very much doubt whether any place on the continent could supply at a less price than 6d. instead of 4d. I cannot, however, but think that there will be advantage from this free intercourse by the improvements in our breed of cattle in this country. I was very much struck with an account of a meeting at which the hon. Member for Berkshire was present, I believe last year, of that most useful institution, founded mainly by Lord Spencer, and with which I have the honour to be connected—I mean the Royal Agricultural Society of England. I read this morning, the account of what passed at that meeting, which I will quote to the House;—
Sir Francis A. Mackenzie, Bart., informed the council that he had at length succeeded, through the agency of his friend, the celebrated geologist and writer on fossil fishes, Professor Agassiz, in obtaining possession of a breeding stock, which, for the last twenty-three years, since his first visit to Switzerland, he had been most desirous to secure for this country; and that four of the finest bulls that Switzerland could produce were on their way to England, and would arrive to the consignment of Mr. Hanbury, banker, in Lombard-street, in the course of a few days. Sir Francis, in describing this stock, remarks, "I certainly never saw more beautiful cattle than the Swiss, not even in Yorkshire, and they combine both milking and fattening qualities, which is an immense advantage; the proof of the first is their being the cows which in Lombardy are only bought for making Parmesan cheese; and I hope that the shapes of the animals now sent will, to the best judges, prove that they
possess the latter quality by their perfect shapes.' Professor Agassiz not being limited in price, procured for Sir Francis Mackenzie four of the finest and handsomest young bulls that Switzerland could produce; and although the Professor considers the outlay already too large in effecting this object, Sir Francis ex- I pressed the conviction he felt that he should be rewarded if the blood was found to do good to our English breeds, by crossing them.
§ It is a great advantage, then, to the breeding of cattle in this country to have an unlimited access to the cattle of the continent; and with our skill and application of chymical science to agriculture, it cannot be denied that if this intercourse with the continent be admitted there will be great benefit resulting from it. I look back and find that scarcely a year has passed without many applications having been made to the Treasury to permit bulls and other animals of various breeds to be imported from parts of the continent. In one or two cases, permission was given; but it is, I need hardly say, a very different thing to do this by a mere exercise of favour against the law in a few isolated cases, and to provide for regular access, on the part of our agriculturists, to the best continental breeds. But, with the spirit, the industry, and the enterprise of the British farmer, I believe we should speedily find ourselves thoroughly able to compete with any country as to the supply of cattle. The only question then remaining is, whether the duty shall be fixed or according to weight? Surely a strong proof of the propriety of imposing a fixed duty is, that it is adopted in all foreign countries admitting importation of live stock. In Austria, the duty on an ox is 8s.; in Belgium, it is 10s.; in France, 2l.; in Germany, 15s.; in Holland, 1l. 3s. 4d.; the same reasons applying in those countries as in this, if any valid reason there be, for preferring a duty levied according to weight. And let the House mark this. My hon. Friend will avoid saying what duty by weight he would wish. Would he desire one of 2s. 6d. per cwt.? No; he of course does not deny that he wishes a higher degree of protection than I propose; and he would doubtless desire a duty of 6s. or 8s. per cwt.; but he abstains from naming any duty; he will not venture to specify the amount per cwt. he wishes. But, then, I say that this ought to be fully explained before you proceed to vote for any abstract proposition. My hon. Friend should really tell 662 us what is the practical purport of his proposal, otherwise it would be a mere delusion voting upon his motion. Of course, he thinks that 1l. per head is not a sufficient protection, and desires a higher one; but, then, I think that unless we clearly comprehend his practical intention, many members may be entrapped into a vote; for there are those, I can well understand, who would rather have 2s. 6d. per cwt. as the duty than 1l. per head. In that case, observe that an ox weighing 4 cwt. would only pay 16s. duty—a result which might not entirely tend to diminish the "panic" of the farmers, nor to answer the object of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend wishes really for an increase of protection, which would involve the interposing of greater difficulties to the admission of food for the people, for he should not forget that the levying of the duty by weight would create such an unavoidable delay and trouble at landing as would materially retard and obstruct the importation of stock on any terms arranged. On that ground I oppose it. My belief is, that the duty of 1l. per head will be sufficient. I stated that to a deputation of agriculturists who waited upon me to press their arguments in favour of higher protection. To their demand I could not, I cannot accede; for I believe that the interests of the community require that there shall be a diminution of the protective duty. 1 have a deep impression, a firm conviction, that population is increasing more rapidly than the supply of provision in this country, and that no advantage can be derived by the agriculturists from keeping up higher duties than 1 propose. My hon. Friend, indeed, said fattening of cattle produced in this country no profit. Why not? Is it not because in certain districts, producing lean cattle, the most enormous prices are charged for them, so that the profit of fattening is done away with? What then we want is to bring in a competition, which may give you the benefit of the lean cattle. As to fat cattle fetching 25l. or 30l. a-head, consider the difficulties of bringing them from foreign ports: reflect that the freight cannot be inconsiderable, could hardly be below 2l. a-head, and would probably be augmented. Consider, too, the inevitable risk of a sea-passage, and remember that there can be no insurance against the damage, though there may be against the entire loss of cattle thus transported across 663 sea; all these things gave a real practical protection, over and above the duty. My interests are connected with the welfare of agriculture, but I should be ready, I trust, to sacrifice all personal interest, even if I imagined injury to myself would be the consequence of the measure I propose; but I really can assume to myself no such credit, for I believe that agriculture will derive, not injury, but advantage, from that measure, persuaded as I am that the effect will be that while on the one hand all the unnecessary odium attaching to agricultural protection will be avoided, the establishment of a regular but moderate supply from the continent will keep prices at a more equal rate here and abroad, and on a level in this country more consistent with the general welfare of the community. I am therefore, Sir, compelled, though with regret, to differ entirely from my hon. Friend; I am so firmly persuaded that justice to consumers requires the establishment of increased facilities for the admission of food, and that the measure is by no means adverse to the best interests of the agriculturists themselves, that I can make no concession. I must adhere to my original proposition, which I trust the House will, by a large majority, support, thus putting an end to uncertainty and alarm, and passing a measure which I do believe will be as beneficial to the agriculturists as to the rest of the community.
Mr. M. J. O'Connell
admitted that a panic existed amongst the agricultural body; but who had caused that panic? Did it not lie at the door of those who taught the English agriculturists to rely on that broken reed—the protection of legislation? Had they known at the last dissolution that an attack was to be made on agriculture, hitherto protected in this, respect by absolute prohibition, would the result of the late elections have been the same? Would the powerful muster of farmers' friends, which he beheld on the other side, have occupied those benches? What did the Morning Post say the other day? ["Oh !"] No doubt it was very disagreeable. He could assure hon. Gentlemen that he was not going to read them an extract; it was but one short sentence and he had committed it to memory. The defence of the right hon. Baronet's conduct by the Morning Post was this, "that he had not deceived the agriculturists, but that he had looked on while they deceived themselves." Nothing could be more se- 664 vere than this from the Government organ. This question had two aspects. Some time ago when they were discussing what was called a popular measure, the Income-tax, they were told by the right hon. Baronet that the money which it would take from the pockets of the industrious classes would be repaid them by the diminished cost of the necessaries of life, which the other measures of the right hon. Baronet would effect. There was a curious caricature exhibited lately in the picture-shops, which represented the right hon. Baronet in the character of a doctor, administering a nauseous medicine— namely, the Income-tax. [" Oh !"] He dared say that hon. Gentlemen opposite would find this subject most unpleasant. But in this caricature the doctor was represented offering in his other hand something in the way of a soother to this nauseous medicine. And this was the tariff, which was represented so sweet and pleasant as to make the Income-tax go down the patients' throats more pleasantly than otherwise. Now the right hon. Baronet had told them that though the necessaries of life were to be reduced, the pockets of the agriculturists would not feel it in the least. The visage now of this modern Janus turns its other side— the protection face of Janus now turns, for he said, that foreign cattle came in from so small and circumscribed a district, that they could produce no effect upon the markets, and the protection of the cost of living was to be postponed sine die— to so distant a day that no man could tell when it would arrive. He was showing upon what frivolous grounds this measure was called a great boon to the consumer; but, he believed, that the right hon. Baronet did not rest his measure upon these. The right hon. Baronet was forced to admit, though he did not wish to alarm the people, that he had other reasons for bringing forward his proposal. These, then, were the contradictory grounds the right hon. Baronet had put forward in the same Session of Parliament for the introduction of his measures. He hoped hereafter that the farmer would endeavour to grow a better description of cattle for the foreign market than heretofore. He would vote for the proposition for this reason, that he was sure if the measure took effect, and a competition in cattle did take place, the energy and industry of their farmers would enable them to compete with foreigners, and without 665 any loss in reputation, meet them in their own markets. If this then be true with regard to cattle, which, to the working classes, was an article of luxury, was it not plain to all that it was much more the case with regard to the prime necessary of life—the article of corn. A more conclusive speech than that made by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade in favour of a fixed duty on corn he had never heard. That right hon. Gentleman said that it would create an export trade in return, which would go far to compensate for any temporary loss to which the agriculturists might be subject. If this be true with regard to cattle, how much more true was it with regard to that every-day's source of existence, which was produced in Europe, America, and which might be brought from any part of the world. They were told of the energy and industry of their native farmers, who it was said could compete with others in any part of the world — that they did not fear any competition. The right hon. Baronet the other night told them of the chemical discoveries which had been made in agriculture, and which were sufficient to preserve them from any alarm. Now, he should like to know whether those chemical discoveries were applied to the fattening of cattle? He had understood that these practical discoveries tended in an equal degree to effect the production of corn as well as cattle; that it was calculated to cheapen the growth of corn as well as cattle. He should like then to know, were the British cattle-feeders inferior to those who applied their capital and industry to the growth of corn? He supported a fixed duty upon corn because it tended to throw open a free competition to the trade of the world. When they advocated the proposition of the right hon. Baronet with respect to cattle, how could they, with any consistency, advocate a proposition so ruinous to the agriculturists, which was equivalent to putting a fixed duty of 15 or 16 per cent, on foreign corn? He hoped the farmers would see, in spite of all the alarm which had been created, what would be really the most beneficial measure for their interests. He hoped that agriculture would, in this department, revive. If it did he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to follow up the same principle by giving the protection of a moderate fixed duty to corn.
§ Lord Worsley
said, that he had no wish to see the prohibition continued, but that he asked for a higher duty than that proposed. He did not think it right either, that the lean and the valuable beast should be imported at the same duty.
§ Mr. Villiers
said, that he agreed with his noble Friend that the motion of the hon. Member for Somersetshire had not been treated fairly, for it had been treated with respect, and if this House represented the people of the country, it would have been scouted. Yes, he said it would and ought to have been scouted, for what was its object? Not, as the noble Lord said, certainly, to return to prohibition, but to prevent the people having the benefit of the relief intended by the measure— this was the object—it was too favourable to the people, too injurious to the monopolists; and the hon. Member, in the spirit and for the interest of his class, opposed it. Yes, when the misery and suffering of the people were at last so striking, so general, that the Minister of their own choice, he whom the landed interest, whom the monopolists had placed in power themselves, was obliged to propose some mitigation of the monopoly that so cruelly oppressed the people, the Member for Somersetshire, in representing the interest and discontent of his party, tried to deprive the people of the miserable boon that was offered to them. [" Divide."] Ay, they might "cry divide," but he wanted to call the attention of the country to the discussion of to-night. It was instructive and useful for it to be known. He hoped the speech of the Member for Somersetshire, he hoped the whole debate would be published and circulated by the Anti-Corn-law League, and by every free-trade association in the country. The country would see then the object of their opponents, they would see really what it was that the prevailing interest in that House cared for, and they would see what were the tardy admissions made by their old opponents. Let the country consider the object of the motion, and the state of the people. The people were horribly distressed, many were starving. Many had been starved. And when the Minister of the Crown, aware of the circumstance, avows the necessity of doing something, proposes a relaxation of the accursed laws which, limiting the amount, and raising the price of the people's food, had caused all the misery and distress, the agricultural party, headed by the hon. Member, came forward to deny the relief proposed— and 667 let the people observe the course of the argument pursued. The hon. Mover of the amendment makes a long speech to this effect, and though he must know the condition of the people never once in the course of his statement alludes to the people, to their interest in this matter. No, his speech is full of alarm lest the people should derive the slightest benefit from any of the ample resources which he showed himself to exist in different parts of the world, on which the people could depend to supply their necessities in this country. His whole care was, lest the price should be reduced, and food be thus rendered more accessible to the poor. He had heard him for a quarter of an hour expressing his fears lest meat should fall from 6d. to 5d., and this at a moment when the people are actually famishing— when all the consequences of being ill-fed are manifested—when there is not a single populous or manufacturing district where medical men are not ready to come forward and prove that destitution, disease, and death, are being wide spread and hastened throughout the land owing to the want of sufficient and wholesome food. To meet this evil, then, the Minister makes his proposition; but what is his answer to his friends who oppose him? Why, that no relief will really be given. his apology for the charge, from the cattle markets the prices, and congratulates his party upon a positive rise of price. That, then, is the state of the case, and he hoped the people would look to it. The misery that is prevalent—the sufferings they endure—are admitted; relief is proposed by one section of the party opposite, and it is opposed by the other section because it is relief, and apologised for finally as being no relief. That is the case of the right hon. Baronet: he read from the Price Current to show that all panic had ceased, that meat would rise in consequence of his measure; and he, as the House must have seen, quieted his friends, who had risen in numbers to speak against him, till they heard his assurance that the public would not be benefited. He had comforted them in the same way about the Corn-law, and he had been proved already to be right, for since the Corn-law had passed wheat had risen 4s. a quarter. He promised them the same thing as to meat, and the public were yet to be told that the Income-tax was to be tolerated because the cost of living was to be reduced, He was rejoiced, 668 however, at this discussion, because the people would see that their sufferings were fully admitted, that little or no relief was proposed, and that they must depend upon themselves if they would obtain that redress to which they were entitled by the admission of their enemies.
§ Mr. F. Scott
said, that hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House had spoken as if hon. Members on his side were disposed to depreciate the sufferings of the people. Now, there was no such feeling, and it was a vile calumny to say so. He believed that hon. Members who represented the agricultural interests felt as much for the people as other hon. Members; at any rate, they understood their own interest—in admitting a certain degree of foreign produce at a duty that did not amount to a prohibition. He believed that by the introduction of foreign and lean cattle, great benefit would accrue, not only to the landowners and landholders, but to the consumers in every class of society; for there was no doubt that the greater the quantity of cattle that could be fattened in this country the more manure would be produced, and the more corn grown. They ought to a certain degree to support the farmer in order to give him remuneration, but they ought also to afford support to the labouring classes. He was disposed, however, to take the view of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, not to admit lean and fat cattle at the same duty, but while he thought the home grazier ought to have a remunerating price, he saw no reason to disagree with the view taken by the right hon. Baronet.
§ Mr. Ward
repudiated the charge of calumny made by the hon. Member on the other side of the House. The fact was, his own Friend had misrepresented the motion which he had brought forward, and which he knew he could not support, and they had done so for the purpose of making amends to their constituents for the views they had taken on the previous question of the Corn-laws.
Mr. O. Gore
said, that he had seen some of the most influential farmers in Shropshire, and he had no hesitation in telling the House that they were perfectly satisfied with the proposition of the right hon. Baronet. They wished protection to be afforded to the small rather than to the large animals; and that as large protection as possible should be given to the 669 breeder and grazier. He should oppose the amendment because he wished to support the poorer parts of the country— Ireland, Wales, and all those parts where the people were scarcely able to support themselves. He did not look to the Gentlemen who had their rich pastures and rich fields of turnips, but to the mountains of this country, where the smaller kind of beasts were fed. The small beasts fetched a higher price in the market than large beasts, and it was the former that this amendment would tend to depreciate. The north-western markets, which had been much depreciated, had now risen to their usual price, and he was anxious that the price should continue.
§ Mr. Hume,
who spoke in the midst of much expressed impatience, was understood to say, that he saw several Members now interrupting the proceedings who had taken no previous interest in the motion, and he believed their object in coming was to interrupt the business of the House. It was his intention to support the right hon. Baronet, and he should not now have addressed the House but for the charge of calumny which the hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. F. Scott) had brought forward against hon. Members on his side of the House. The object of the present motion was to destroy the intention of the right hon. Baronet, who, in the difficult situation in which he was placed, had attempted in some degree to alleviate the miseries of the people. If hon. Members would attend to the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and of the right hon. Baronet, they would see that the state of the country required that food of every kind should be cheap; but the object of the present motion was to prevent meat being cheap, and therefore he argued that it was an attempt to add to the miseries and sufferings of the starving people. He could only say that if the right hon. Baronet was as anxious as he had stated himself to be that animal food should be cheaper, he would adopt the proper course and make corn cheaper. It did not require any arguments to show that if they had cheap cattle, they should have cheap food to feed them with. Hon. Members had been attending to their own interests instead of that of the public, and now would not allow the truth to be stated. The hon. Member opposite had laid it down as a principle, that if cattle were fed abroad on corn which could be sold at half the price 670 it was in this country, they could be sold cheaper; and taking the price of barley abroad and in this country he had shown that there would be a difference of profit in favour of the foreign breeder of 2l. 18s. 6d. He contended that if food was cheaper in this country meat would be as cheap here as in any part of the world. The right hon. Baronet stated the other night that the people ought to go to the cheapest market, and he no doubt would act on that principle if not fettered by such supporters as those by whom he was surrounded. Was not the hon. Member opposite aware that an extraordinary degree of distress prevailed in the manufacturing districts? But what was the tendency of the proposition which he made? Why, to increase that distress. He concurred in opinion with his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, that the proceedings of the House tended to starve the people. Every act of theirs had that tendency. ["Oh, oh."] Those Gentlemen who cried "oh, oh," ought to be ashamed of themselves. He contended that the tendency of the motion of the hon. Member was to add to the price of food and to interrupt that commerce on which the welfare of the country depended. Although the right hon. Baronet did not go to the length which he wished him to do, he would support him against a party who only looked to their own interests. The hon. Member opposite said they understood their own interests. He repeated that the hon. Member said they knew their own interests well. He entirely agreed with the hon. Member in that remark, but in no other. The hon. Member and those around him did know their own interests, and this was a question connected only with the interests of the landlords of the country—a party who, by class-legislation, were able to keep up that monopoly from which arose all the evils under which the country was now suffering. He thought the right hon. Baronet deserved great credit for his attempt to alleviate the distress which existed.
could not allow the House to come to a decision on the present subject without saying that he and those around him felt as much for the distress which now existed in the country as the hon. Member who had just sat down, and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. He must thank the committee for the general tone in which the debate had been conducted, which differed so much from the tirade of the hon. Member for Wolver- 671 hampton. He did not stand up on the present occasion as the advocate of prohibition. He only asked that a protection should be placed on live cattle equivalent to that on dead meat; and he must say, that he was astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade say, that the height of freight made up for a low duty. What did the right hon. Gentleman say to the case of the Aberdeen famers, who sent 300 cattle weekly to Smithfield market? Would they do that if they could send carcases at a greater profit? He thought that a conclusive argument on that point. All he asked on the present occasion was, that the right hon. Baronet should agree to an abstract proposition, which might be more fully considered hereafter.
§ The committee divided on the question that the words proposed by Mr. Miles, to take the duty on live stock by weight, be added:—Ayes 113; Noes"380: Majority 267.
|List of the AYES.|
|Allix, J.P.||Drax, J. S. W. E.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Duff, J.|
|Archbold, R.||Duffield, T.|
|Archdall, Capt.||Dundas, F.|
|Arkwright, G.||Eaton, R. J.|
|Astell, W.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Bagge, W.||Fell owes, E.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Bankes, G.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Barneby, J.||Grogan, E.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Halford, H.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Hay, Sir A. L.|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Heathcote, G. J.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Heneage, E.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Henley, J. W.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Brownrigg, J. S.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Buck, L. W.||Howard, hon. H.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.||Kemble, H.|
|Campbell, Sir H.||Knight, F. W.|
|Cartwright, W. R.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Lawson, A.|
|Chapman, B.||Leicester, Earl of|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Lockhart, W.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Long, W.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Lygon, hon. General|
|Clayton, R. R.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Codrington, C. W.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Colborne, hn. W. N.R.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Colville, C. R.||Maher, V.|
|Compton, H. C.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Curteis, H. B.||March, Earl of|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Dawnay, hn. W. H.||Morris, D.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Murray, C. R. S.|
|Murray, A.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Neeld, J.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|O'Brien, A. S.||Thornhill, G.|
|O'Brien, W. S.||Tollemache, J.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Packe, C. W.||Tumor, C.|
|Palmer, G.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Philips, Sir R. B. P.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Vivian, hon. Major|
|Pusey, P.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Ramsay, W. R.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Redington, T. N.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Westenra, hon. J.|
|Round, C. G.||Williams, T. P.|
|Round, J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Rushbrooke, Col.||Worsley Lord|
|Ryder, hon. G. D.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Smyth, Sir H.||Miles, W.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Palmer, R.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Brotherton, J.|
|Acland, T. D.||Browne, hon. W.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Bruce, Lord E.|
|Acton, Col.||Bryan, G.|
|Adare, Visct.||Buckley, E.|
|Aldam, W.||Buller, C.|
|Alford, Visct.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Antrobus, E.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Ashley, Lord||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Busfeild, W.|
|Bailey, J.||Byng, G.|
|Baillie, Col.||Campbell, A.|
|Baird, W.||Cardwell, E.|
|Baldwin, B.||Carew, hon. R. S.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Carnegie, hon. Capt.|
|Bannerman, A.||Cavendish, hon. C. C.|
|Barclay, D.||Cavendish, hn. G. H.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Baring, H. B.||Childers, J. W.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Christie, W. D.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Christmas, W.|
|Beckett, W.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Bell, M.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Bell, J.||Clive, E. B.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Cobden, R.|
|Beresford, Major||Cochrane, A.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Collett, W. R.|
|Bernal, R.||Conolly, Col.|
|Bernal, Capt.||Corry, rt. hon. H.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Blackburne, J.I.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Blakemore, R.||Craig, W. G.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Cresswell, B.|
|Botfield, B.||Cripps, W.|
|Bowes, J.||Currie, R.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Dalmeny, Lord|
|Broadley, H.||Damer, hon. Col.|
|Broadwood, H.||Dashwood, G. H.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Denison, J. E.|
|Denison, E. B.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Hampden, R.|
|Divett, E.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Dodd, G.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Hardy, J.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Dowdeswell, W.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Hepburn, Sir T. B.|
|Duncan, G.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Duncombe, T.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Dundas, Admiral||Hillsborough, Earl of|
|Dundas, D.||Hindley, C|
|East, J. B.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Hodgson, F.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Hollond, R.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Holmes, hon. W. A'Ct.|
|Ellice, right hon. E.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Ellice, E.||Hope, A.|
|Ellis, W.||Hornby, J.|
|Eliot, Lord||Howard, hn. G. W. G.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Howard, hon, E.G.G.|
|Escott, B||Howard, P. H|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Estcourt, T. G, B.||Howick, Visct.|
|Evans, W.||Hume, J.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||Hutt, W.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Ingestrie, Visct.|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Jackson, J. D.|
|Filzwilliam, hn. G. W.||James, W.|
|Fleming, J. W.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Johnson, W. G.|
|Forester, hn. G. C. W.||Johnston, A.|
|Forster, M.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Johnstone, H.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H|
|Gill, T.||Jones, Capt.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.||Kelburne, Visct.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Godson, R.||Knatchbull, right hon.|
|Gordon, Lord F.||Sir E.|
|Gore, M.||Knight, H. G.|
|Gore, W. O.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Lambton, H.|
|Goring, C.||Langston, J. H.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Granby, Marquess of||Leader, J. T,|
|Granger, T. C.||Lefroy, A.|
|Greenall, P.||Legh, G. C.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Leveson, Lord|
|Grimston, Visct.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Guest, Sir J.||Lindsay, H. H.|
|Hale, R. B.||Listowel, Earl of|
|Hall, Sir B.||Litton, E.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Loch, J.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Lopes, Sir R.|
|Lowther, J. H.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Lyall, G.||Reade, W. M.|
|Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|M'Geachy, F. A.||Rice, E. R.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Richards, R,|
|Mangles, R. D.||Roche, E. B.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Marshall, W.||Rous, hon. Capt.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Marsland, H.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Martin, J.||Russell, J. D. W.|
|Martin, C. W.||Sanderson, R.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Masterman, J.||Scarlett, hon. R. C.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Scholefield, J.|
|Meynell, Capt.||Scott, R.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Seymour, Lord|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Mordaunt, Sir J.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Morgan, O.||Shelborne, Earl of|
|Morgan, C.||Sheppard, T.|
|Morison, General||Shirley, E. J.|
|Morrison, J.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Munday, E. M.||Smith, B.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Smith, J. A.|
|Neville, R.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Newport, Visct.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Newry, Visct.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Somerton, Visct.|
|Norreys, Lord||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Stanley, Lord|
|Northland, Visct.||Stanley, E.|
|O'Brien, J.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|O'Conor, D.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Stewart, J.|
|Ord, W.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Oswald, J.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Stuart, H.|
|Paget, Lord W.||Strutt, E.|
|Pakington, J. S.||Sturt, H. C.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Parker, J.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Patten, J. W.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Thompson, Mr. Aid.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Thornely, T.|
|Peel, J.||Towneley, J.|
|Pemberton, T.||Traill, G.|
|Pendarves, E. W. W.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Philips, G. R.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Philips, M.||Trotter, J.|
|Phillpotts, J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Tufnell, H.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Turner, E.|
|Pollock, Sir F.||Verner, Col.|
|Powell, Col.||Vernon, G.H.|
|Praed, W. T.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Price, R.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Pringle, A.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Protheroe, E.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Pulsford, R.||Vivian, hon. Capt.|
|Rae, rt. hn. Sir W.||Wakley, T. Z|
|Walker, R.||Wood, C.|
|Wall, C. B.||Wood, Col.|
|Ward, H. G.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Watson, W. H.||Wood, G. W.|
|Wawn, J. T.||Wood, Sir M.|
|Wemyss, Capt.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|White, H.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Whitmore, T. C.||Wynn, rt. hn. C.W.W.|
|Wilbraham, hon. R. B.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Wilde, Sir T.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Williams, W.||Young, J.|
|Winnington, Sir T. E.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Wood, B.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past one o'clock.