§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that the sugar duties formed a part of the tariff, and it was only reasonable that they should receive a separate discussion; he would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it were his intention to introduce the Annual Sugar Duties Bill before the tariff had gone through committee? For, if so, it would, perhaps, be better to take the discussion on the bill rather than on the tariff. He apprehended that the sugar duties were only introduced into the 688 tariff for the sake of uniformity, and that they were only to be renewed for one year, otherwise a great constitutional question would be involved.
§ Sir R. Peel
thought it right to put the sugar duties in the tariff, that the House might have a full view of the alterations he proposed to make. He thought it better, however, that the discussion should be taken on the usual bill. He would, therefore, give notice that on Friday week he would take a separate vote on the sugar duties, without reference to the progress they might have made with the tariff, if, unfortunately, they should not have proceeded so far with the tariff. At any rate, he would give precedence to the sugar duties on Friday week, and not take any vote on the question of sugar in the tariff.
§ House in committee.
§ On the question that the duty on oxen and bulls be 20s. per head from foreign countries, and 10s. per head from British possessions.
now thought it necessary to enunciate a proposition he had to make to the committee, particularly after what had occurred last night, He admitted that the interest of the to the producer of they should look to consumer, as well as live cattle; and it was his wish to take as his basis the duty suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. As he understood the right hon. Gentleman, he meant to keep a duty of 1d. a pound on the dead weight, that would amount to 9s. 4d. the cwt., and that same rate of protection he required for live cattle. Then came the question how they were to reduce live weight to dead weight: this was a matter of such difficulty to determine with accuracy that he would make one proposition to embrace sheep, pigs, cows, and oxen. He would take the very highest deduction that was ever made from the gross weight of the animal to reduce the live to the dead weight. He would take the deduction at two-fifths. If they took two-fifths from 9s. 4d. they would have a duty of 5s. 5½d. per cwt.: he would say for the duty 5s. 6d.: and declare that for every beast imported for every cwt. of the live weight the duty should be 5s. 6d., and to make both equal he would raise the duty on the dead weight from 8s. to 9s. 4d. If the right hon. Gentleman would consent to this alteration, all the alarm of the agricultural body would be at an end, and he would be only doing justice to the agriculturists as well as the consumer. As he 689 had last night trespassed so long on their attention, he would not then say any more, but express a hope that the House would receive his proposition with favour, and declare that in lieu of a duty of 1l. per head for oxen and bulls there be levied a duty of 5s. 6d. per cwt.
§ Sir R. Peel
derived great consolation from the declaration of the hon. Gentleman, that if he would adopt a 9s. 4d. duty, instead of an 8s., he would remove all the apprehensions of the agricultural body, as far as meat was concerned. He could not have been far from the mark, therefore, as to meat. If live cattle only weighed four cwt., after deducting the two-fifths, the hon. Gentleman's proposal would only raise the duty 2s., and although of course the duty would be higher for heavier cattle, he would tell the hon. Gentleman why he could not consent to his proposal. He thought that the duty he proposed upon meat and cattle was ample and sufficient. He thought that if lean cattle had a free admission, the agricultural body would derive a great advantage. As far as lean cattle was concerned, the duty of 1l. was sufficient, and the agriculturists would have a right to complain if he flung upon them only fat instead of lean beasts. The hon. Gentleman's duty would discountenance the importation of the heavier sorts of lean beasts, which afforded the least profit to the farmers. With respect to fat beasts it was not the amount of duty but the distance, the small area from which a supply could be obtained, and the difficulty of transport to this country that was the real protection. He hoped, therefore, that his hon. Friend would not think it disrespectful to his opinion if he adhered to his own proposal.
§ Mr. Pusey
thought that he could make a useful suggestion. He was satisfied that the right hon. Baronet, equally with his hon. Friend (Mr. Miles) and himself, was desirous of promoting the agricultural interests; their difference was not one of principle, but of detail. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade ("Mr. Gladstone) said that the duty on live cattle was equal to that on meat; but in the opinion of every farmer in the country with whom he had conversed it was not so. He would not propose to refer a mere matter of taxation to a committee of the House, but this being a matter of detail, he thought it was a fair subject of investigation before a 690 select committee. There was a precedent for such a course in the committee now sitting on the Grinding Bill. If such a committee were granted, there need be no delay, for in five days he would be prepared with evidence to show that there was inconsistency in the right hon. Gentleman's own proposals. They had produced alarm among the farmers in this country, for they clearly saw the inconsistency, and supposed that those who made such a proposal were not as well acquainted with their interests as they ought to be. An opinion prevailed amongst the farmers which he conceived a just one, that their interests were misunderstood, and he would be prepared with the evidence of practical men upon this point. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet, when he considered the magnitude of the interests which he and his hon. Friends around him represented, would be ready to accede to the appointment of a select committee of inquiry.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that it was admitted by his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire that it was very difficult to determine the exact amount of protection which should be given between live and dead cattle, he therefore fixed upon one sum of 5s. 6d. for pigs, sheep, oxen, and cows; and if so great a judge found it difficult to say what the amount of protection should be, he did not believe that a committee of the most consummate graziers could come to any definite conclusion on the subject. It appeared to him that it was for the House to decide for itself upon the matter of its general judgment. If he yielded to the suggestion of his hon. Friend, he should be equally obliged to give way to parties interested in other articles. Why not, for instance, have a select committee upon the subject of the proposed reduction of duty on spermaceti oil? or upon the subject of the proposed reduction of duty on seed, to see that the duty on one seed was just equivalent to that on another? The House ought to consider first whether it was fit that prohibition should be removed, and if they were satisfied, then, from their general information and judgment, they should impose such a duty as would do justice to the producer and to the consumer; if they attempted a more definite plan they would fail. By consenting to the present motion he would be involved in endless difficulty and delay, and his hopes of a speedy pro- 691 gress with the tariff would be disappointed because he must consent to committees on I many other of the 1,100 articles in the tariff.
§ Mr. pusey
could not admit the justice' of the right hon. Baronet's arguments, because he assumed that his hon. Friend and himself were not disposed to relax the existing tariff, but he was as ready to become a reformer in agricultural matters as the right hon. Baronet himself. He wished to make the new tariff as consistent as possible, and only desired that it might be rendered such as would enable the friends of the agricultural interest to give their assent to it without abandoning their duty towards those who sent them to Parliament. He wished to promote the passing of the tariff, but if they must fight it inch by inch, it was not their fault. They could not, however, look the farmers in the face, if they consented to what they believed to be opposed to the farmers' interests.
represented a county from which lean cattle came, and the farmers had suffered a great deal from the alarm which had been got up. He thought that alarm unnecessary, and he was glad to hear that it was fast dying away. The accounts he had received of the last fair was that it was very much improved. It was delay which was to be feared, and he trusted that the House would not delay coming to a speedy conclusion as to what the duty was to be. He thought that 1l. was a fair duty for the farmers, and that there was little fear from the cattle which would come from other countries; he did, however, fear delay and alarm. His hon. Friend said that he could not look the farmers in the face if he supported this duty. He had no such fear when he was conscious of doing his duty. They ought to recollect that there were other claims besides those of the farmers. He should remember that there were farmers-men, and that there was a large manufacturing population. What would they think of the House when they found them deliberating whether a dead ox should pay a duty of 8s. or 9s. 4d. the cwt. Do not let them fall out upon all occasions. They ought to endeavour to get rid of all unnecessary alarm, and above all, let them not forget the good old English maxim of "Live and let live." He said let them pass this tariff, and as far as the agricultural produce was concerned, he firmly be- 692 lieved that the honest English farmer would suffer no detriment.
§ Mr. Milner Gibson
viewed the tariff only as one step in advance towards unlimited free-trade, and thought that those hon. Members who professed to look upon it in any other light, did but attempt to practise upon the credulity of farmers. He really hoped that hon. Gentlemen would not persist in following this course —that they would not persist in deluding the farmers into making new contracts and entering into new engagements in conformity with the existing state of things, when they perceived that the present laws by which their peculiar interests were protected must give way—when they saw that the tide of public opinion was gradually, but steadily, setting against their continuance, and when they saw that a large party had been formed, assisted by-ample funds, and backed up by the good sense and intelligence of the country, which would not rest one day until they had secured the total abolition of all restrictive duties on food. He was speaking the plain truth on this question, for he felt that it was a duty which they owed to their fellow-countrymen not to allow them to be gulled into a belief that any serious intentions were entertained to allow the existing Corn-laws to continue ' much longer. It had been said that it was to distance and to the difficulties attending the importation of lire cattle and other commodities of food that the agriculturists must chiefly look for protection; but if that were the view entertained by the Government, he begged to ask upon what principle it was that any duty need be retained at all upon such articles If the right hon. Baronet really entertained this view, he was surprised that he had not been induced to propose a much lower rate of duty on the importation of cattle than that which he had brought forward. He believed that a great deal of superfluous protection had been taken away, but he thought that a sufficient duty had been still left to prevent the introduction of foreign salted meats and cattle into this country. He fully agreed with the right hon. Baronet upon the grounds on which he had opposed the proposition of the hon. Member for Berkshire for a select committee upon this question; but he should like to hear by what process of reasoning the right hon. Baronet had arrived at the result that 20sper head for oxen, and 8s. per cwt., was the exact amount of duty 693 which ought to be levied. Until he heard this question explained, he must say that he thought that the House had as good reason to expect a just conclusion to be arrived at by a committee as by the right hon. Baronet. He would not throw any obstacles in the way of this reform, but he must say that neither he nor the constituency which he represented had any anticipation that trade and manufactures would be revived by its operation. He had not been informed by any one whose opinion he held to be worth taking that such would be the result, and he could assure the right hon. Baronet that there was now as earnest a desire through the country to obtain still greater commercial freedom as any which had ever existed.
§ Mr. R. Palmer
thought that if anything was calculated to create alarm amongst the agriculturists, it was the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He did not know whether the opinion of that hon. Gentleman would have any very great weight with the House, but the idea which he held out was that the farmer must look about him, and that the existing laws had ceased to be that safeguard they were supposed to be, and that they would not be maintained was very likely to cause considerable apprehensions. At the same time he could not help feeling that the Government had also given cause for alarm; for after the propositions made by the right hon. Baronet, and the manner in which they had been cheered on by hon. Gentlemen opposite, he must say, that he thought they had some reason to apprehend that the time was not very far distant when an attempt would be made to deprive them even of the little protection which was to be left to them. The hon. Gentleman opposite had alluded to the workings of the Anti-Corn-law League; but however ready the agriculturists might be to yield to reason, he was sure that no good would be found to arise from any threats being held out of anything which was likely to proceed from the workings of such a body to deprive the agriculturists of their protection. With respect to the motion of his hon. Friend, he looked upon it as only carrying out in practice the principle which he had advocated last night, and he should therefore give it his support.
§ Mr. Ward
said, that the hon. Member for Berkshire had correctly described this motion. It was a covert attempt to carry 694 out the motion which the House had last night rejected by an overwhelming majority. If there were no parties to this question but hon. Gentlemen opposite and their constituents on one side, and the Government on the other, then a compromise might be admissible, but there was a much larger body more deeply interested in the question than either of them, and that was the great mass of the consumers of the country. He had listened with great satisfaction to the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, repelling this insidious proposition; he looked upon it, that the proposition was meant merely as a waste of time, to break down the present purposes of the Government, and, if possible, to pave the way for the adoption of a little more protection. If he had any complaint to make against the tariff it was, that it did not go far enough; and he thought that while hon. Members spoke of the improper removal of protection from the interests of their constituents, they ought to recollect that there were other higher and more binding duties entrusted to them than those involved in the upholding of the local interests of those parts of the country from which they came, and that it was the duty of the House to look as much as they could to the general happiness of the country. That was the view which he took, and he placed himself at the disposal of the Government whenever any attempt was made to assert the views of class interests over those which belonged to the general welfare. With reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member who had last spoken, he much doubted whether the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester was calculated to produce more alarm than the announcement of the proposition of the right hon. Baronet would have produced last year. He thought that it was by degrees only that they could hope to gain the complete object of their exertions, but he looked upon the tariff as being one step towards that which they desired. The tariff was valuable in itself, but he attached much greater value to the speeches of its supporters. If they would read corn for cattle throughout the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade last evening, the right hon. Gentleman would be very much puzzled to give anything like a decent answer to his own argument; and when the Corn-law should next year come under discussion, that speech, no doubt, would 695 be referred to, and the right hon. Gentleman would be much embarrassed by his own arguments in favour of the additional relaxation of the duties on food. He thought that he might fairly say that they were approximating towards a general conviction on all sides of the importance of free-trade, and that they had tried the system of factitious protection long enough, and that they should be no longer disposed to prop up one interest at the expense of others. He should support the tariff wherever he thought that it was opposed to class interests, reserving to himself, however, the maintenance of any principle in connection with it which he looked upon as being important.
§ Mr. Buck
observed, that when the right hon. Baronet had brought forward his scale of protecting duties on corn, he had given it his support—when the right hon. Baronet brought forward his Income-tax, he considered it his duty to support him, because he conceived that it was the best means of rescuing the country from difficulties abroad and embarrassments at home. It was with extreme regret that he felt called upon to oppose the right hon. Baronet on the tariff. It was the wisest policy of this country to maintain, not only the agricultural but the commercial and other interests, and therefore, he was averse to a total system of free-trade, which he believed would be thoroughly inimical to all the great interests of this country. He never knew an instance of any alarm being so great as when the tariff was proposed. The opinion of the farmers was entirely against it, and if such was their opinion then, it would not be changed by either of the speeches which he had heard last night from the right hon. Baronet or from the Secretary of the Board of Trade. The agriculturists had not fears of immediate competition, but when they reflected on the immense capabilities of the Continent, they could not but feel the greatest alarm. It was said that the tariff was to have an effect favourable to the poor, and was to relieve them from those distresses to which they had been unhappily exposed; and while speaking of the poor, he could not help referring to their laudable conduct under all their distresses and miseries in resisting the pernicious doctrines of the Anti-Corn-law League, which had promulgated doctrines, that would tend, if carried out, to aggravate their distresses in a ten-fold 696 degree. But he must declare his belief that the tariff would not have the effect which was attributed to it; and he thought that the best proof which he could give that this was a just conclusion was afforded by the great discontent which still prevailed throughout ail classes upon this subject. He wished for the same proportionate scale of protection to cattle that was given to corn. One part of the speech of the right hon. Baronet applied to the county with which he was connected. He admitted that in that county cattle had been extremely dear, but then it had arisen from peculiar circumstances. The feeders of cattle here could not compete with the feeders of cattle abroad, any more than the breeders in England could compete with the foreign breeders. To those hon. Gentlemen who sat near him, and who were the Friends of the agricultural interests, he begged to offer an assurance that they might rest convinced that the predictions which they had heard uttered would be fulfilled, that if they consented to free-trade in cattle, it would not be long before they would have great cause to regret that they had taken such a step, for they would find the hon. Member for Wolverhampton coming forward and calling upon them to carry out the principle which they had adopted, by opening a free-trade in corn. He believed that this proposition of the right hon. Baronet was inimical to the interests which he represented, and contrary to all the principles which he had ever advocated, and he should therefore oppose it.
§ Mr. W. O. Stanley
considered that after the division of last night the ranks of the agriculturists must be deemed to be broken, and that any effort to oppose the free-trade measures of the right hon. Baronet would be unavailing. He believed that the right hon. Baronet would endeavour to carry out his free-trade principles, and would endeavour to lake away all protection from cattle. From the last accounts which he had received from the county with which he was connected, he found that so far from the markets in that county being improved, the very reverse was the case; and he was convinced that it was time for the agriculturalists to look to their own interests.
had told his constituents as he had told that House, that if he did not believe the manufacturing classes of society were just as much interested in 697 the preservation of the Corn-laws as the agriculturists, he would not vote for them. He had told them that distinctly on the hustings. He had told them distinctly that he thought corn stood on different grounds from any other class of produce, and that he would support the Corn-laws for the benefit of all classes of society.
§ Mr. Villiers
said, that had he heard the measure which was now proposed by the Government supported by facts, promises of great relief to the people, and had he observed a readiness on the part of the Gentlemen opposite to meet the proposition fairly, and not waste the time of the House by an unseasonable tenacity of their monopoly, he would also have observed the same economy of the public time, and at present he would have abstained from moving the amendment which he should now think it proper to move; and which was, that the duty should be 1s. in lieu of 20s., as it was now proposed. It might be ineffectual, but he wished to mark the right of the people to have their trade in food free; and he did not, moreover, think that in anything which had fallen from the Government there had been such a recognition of the distress in which the people were involved as sufficiently proved the importance of every possible effort being' made for their relief. They had heard of the possibility of meat rising and that the supply for an increasing population might be deficient, but they had not sufficiently heard of the defective supply to existing millions, who never were able to touch a morsel of meat owing to its price, together with the price of other provisions; and that was the state of the English population, and not one fact had been stated to show that there was the least prospect that this change in the law would bring animal food within their reach. All the statements went to prove that the difference made would be very slight indeed. Now, when the distress of the people was perfectly appalling, when disease was spreading fast among them, surely it was right to remove every obstruction to their obtaining food; and let not hon. Members imagine that this privation was peculiar to manufacturing districts where employment was peculiarly scarce. He held in his hand a passage from the official report of a commissioner under the Crown, who had been sent to the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk to learn the condition of the people 698 he meant Dr. Kay, and let them hear what he said:—Dr. Kay states that the average expense of maintenance in the workhouses of Norfolk and Suffolk would be ' 18s. a-week, or about 50l. a-year,' for a man, his wife, and four children; and he found that of 120 families, whose number of children averaged 3.7 to a family, the annual income, including the earnings of the wife and children, was 35l. 9s. If the diet of the families out of the workhouses is in the same proportion, it will follow, the families of agricultural labourers, in the employment of the great agriculturists of Norfolk and Suffolk, are upon but little better than half diet. The gross income is 4d. a-day per head, and this furnishes the rent, firing, clothing, &c. as well as food. From a series of facts it appears that full diet cannot be procured by adults for less than l0d. a-day. Reduce it to 6d. for children, and the cheapness of coarse food, then the result will differ little from that stated above. The calculation proves to demonstration that the agricultural labourer can purchase scarcely any animal food. This appears to be the case—the family subsists upon potatoes, salt, bread (a limited quantity), and a small quantity of bacon. The food of the inhabitants of towns is as substantial as that of the agricultural labourer. The Poor-law inquiry and successive parliamentary committees have shown that the families of agricultural labourers subsist upon a minimum of animal food, and an inadequate supply of bread and potatoes. It will be seen with regret, that in the half-year the deaths of sixty-three individuals were ascribed (principally at inquests) to starvation; this is almost one annually to a population of 111,000. The want of food implies the want of everything else except water; as firing, clothing, every convenience, every necessary of life, is abandoned at the imperious bidding of hunger. Hunger destroys a much higher proportion than is indicated by the registers in this and in every other country, but its effects, like the effects of excess, and generally manifested indirectly, is the production of diseases of various kinds.There was no reason to suppose that the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk were worse off than any other, and they might, therefore, judge by this what the condition of the agricultural labourers was throughout the country. No man hesitated to admit the frightful distress and privation that existed in the manufacturing towns. He would read from some of the latest accounts from Scotland, where distress prevailed to a great extent, and let the House judge whether they ought to delay in rendering them every succour to which by law they were entitled. The hon. Member read the following extract of a letter: — 699In a town not far from Stirling, a young man, of interesting appearance, was observed one morning to pass a huckster's shop, at the door of which a measure with some potatoes in it was placed. After passing the shop a little way, he returned and took one of the potatoes and then went away. The person in the shop allowed him to go without taking any notice of the circumstance. On the day after, the young man returned and did the same thing. On the third day he returned once more, and took another potatoe, on the fourth day he returned and took four or five potatoes, put them in his pocket, and went hurriedly off. This day, however, the shopkeeper had a police officer in waiting, along with whom he followed the young man till he entered his house. They went into the house immediately after him, and there they found an aged mother and two sisters dependent upon him for support. There was a pot upon the fire, if that could be called a fire, which was probably only a few embers. On the shop keeper asking the mother of the young man, if she knew where her son had got the potatoes which he had brought in to her, she replied, No; I was afraid to ask..' He then went to the pot and took off the lid and on looking in, he found a portion of a dead dog, which the poor family was boiling to eat along with the potatoes.[An hon. Member: That was owing to the new Poor-law.] New Poor-law ! Why, it was at Stirling, in Scotland, where there was no Poor-law, and where the new Poor-law has never been in operation. It showed how well-informed Members opposite were on this matter. Perhaps they thought the state of Paisley was owing to the new Poor-law, where there are 15,000 people now unemployed and wanting food, and there was hardly a manufacturing district in Scotland that was not getting quite as bad as Paisley. Was it any wonder, then, that they should be feeding on dogs and stealing potatoes. Was it not horrid to think that in this wealthy country, boasting so much of its riches and civilisation, that the people were in their present condition? It was the fact that the people were far worse off now than they used to be four centuries ago. Cobbett quoted in one of his works a creditable authority to this fact, namely, Fortescue, the Chancellor of Henry the Sixth, who, in describing the state of the labouring people, spoke of them as follows:—They drink no water unless at certain times upon a religious score. They are fed in great abundance with all sorts of flesh and fish, of which they Have plenty, every where they are clothed throughout with good wool- 700 lens; their bedding and furniture are of wool, and that in great store; they are also well provided with all other sorts of household goods and necessary implements of husbandry.It was, after this time, and when the privileged people of that day had been tampering with the food of the people, that we find in the preamble of a statute of Henry the 8th, a reference to the habits of the people, and a recital of the necessity of providing for their due maintenance. It ran as follows:—The preamble of this act notices that formerly, meat had been sold at moderate prices, so that especially poor persons might with their craft or bodily labour, buy sufficient for the necessity and sustenation of them, their wives, and children; but now, gracious Lord, all victual, and in especial beef, mutton, pork, and veal, which is the common feeding of the mean and poor persons, are so sold at so excessive price that your said needy subjects cannot gain with their labour and salary sufficient to pay for their convenient victual and sustenance; and the act then proceeded to fix the prices of the different kinds of meat, and beef and pork were to be sold at½d. per lb., mutton and veal, ½d. to a ¼d. higher, and mayors and sheriffs were empowered to commit butchers who sold above the statute prices, and there was power to the justices of the peace to assess the price of fat cattle whenever the farmers and graziers refuse to supply the butchers at reasonable prices.Who could venture to assert that the people were now in a condition referred to in that preamble. But judging from the spirit of hon. Gentlemen opposite, the people are in a more helpless state for procuring redress than they were then— for then, however arbitrary the power, it professed solicitude for the working people, and had power to give effect to its will. But he was sorry to say, that the landed aristocracy had always been more solicitous to keep up the value of their own properties than to provide for the welfare of other people, and they had frequently injured themselves as much as others by their conduct. In 1666, they had passed an act prohibiting the importation of all kinds of cattle from Ireland, and voted that trade with Ireland a nuisance. Here let Irish Members, who want to prohibit foreign cattle coming into this country because they have the supply, take warning of the mischief that that law did the projectors of it; let them hear an author, who was deemed an authority in those days, named Roger 701 Cooke, who wrote twenty years afterwards on the subject, and says,The ends designed by the act against the importation of Irish cattle, of raising the rents of the lands of England, are so far from being attained, that the contrary hath ensued.That law was ultimately repealed, from the injury which it inflicted on this country, and the advantage it gave to foreigners. The same necessity existed now, for importing cattle from other countries for our own supply was clearly defective, and the evil consequences of a defective supply of food could hardly be understated. There was now an established and unquestionable connection between crime, pauperism, and death, and the price and quantity of food. A complete scale might be formed—as complete as that which regulates the imperial averages —showing the variations with the price of food in each of those calamities. He had in his hand a return of the number of criminals in each of the last five years, and during which the price of food had continued high. The hon. Member read the following return:—
|Number of||Average price|
§ It was the same with the poor-rates, marking the increase of pauperism on the amount of the burden; and he believed he was correct in stating that the increase was 25 per cent, above the years when the food was cheap; and notwithstanding the effects of the new Poor-law which latterly had been in operation. He had already referred to Dr. Kay's opinion on the influence of bad living on disease and death—confirmed as it was by numberless facts throughout the country. He would not detain now the House longer; he saw hon. Gentlemen wanted to go to to dinner, but all he had to ask was, that they would let those whose cause he was pleading have some dinner also, for that was the matter now in question. The people wanted the means of dining, and the matter in dispute was the amount of obstruction that House would cast in the way of the people getting something to eat. He said they ought to cast none, but do all in their power to procure the people abundance of food. Let them re- 702 member the universal admission of the distress of the people. He presumed they were all about to exhort their neighbours to attend to the Queen's letter which had been read from the churches. How could they do that better than by setting the example themselves? and how could they do that with more service than when they did what was just by the people? The fact was that all the people wanted was justice—they did not seek favour -and that could only be rendered in this instance by removing the tax altogether; and really they had no more right to put a tax on the importation of the people's meat for their own purposes than they had to tax the meat in the butcher's tray going to its destination. It was an enormous wrong, productive of enormous evil, and maintained for no earthly purpose, but that of keeping up their own rents. Let them, then, run the risk of losing a little of their vast rents to do a great act of justice and a great act of charity to the suffering people. The measure proposed, they had been told, would not be felt by them; he exhorted them, then, to do something that would be felt—something generous — something that the people would bless them for doing. Consider that the Agricultural Society, of which many opposite were members, had declared that the rent of land in this country amounted to seventy-seven millions a-year. Before they could plead the cause of the farmer or the labourer in maintaining their monopoly, that must disappear. Let them, then, run the risk of a slight sacri-fice—let them expect to recover it by the cheapness of their own living, and by the good-will they would inspire towards them on the part of the community—and let them cheerfully consent to the removal of the odious impost on the people's food. The hon. Member concluded by moving that the blank in the resolution which it was proposed should be filled up with 20s., be filled up with one shilling.
§ Mr. B. Escott
was understood to say, that in his opinion the proposed measure was good in proportion as it diminished the difficulties which the present laws imposed in the way of importing cattle, and therefore the plan of the Government should have his support. He believed the interests of agriculture would be aided by the measure. [" Divide, divide."]
§ Mr. H. R. Yorke
said, amidst continued interruptions, that the placard to which 703 the hon. Member for Brecknockshire (Colonel Wood) had alluded had merely been exhibited in the city of York by way of joke, and that it had so been under, stood by the farmers and others of the district.
Lord J. Russell
said, that he certainly, for one, was not very much surprised at the panic created by the joke alluded to by the hon. Member for York, and which could only be supposed to be a mere pleasantry, because, although the statement contained in that placard was very absurd with regard to the cattle that might be imported into this country, still it was not more absurd than many of the statements made last year about corn, and as to the amount of corn which this country was to receive from a certain province of Russia. He thought it was but fair—he thought it was but even-handed justice— to commend "the poisoned chalice to their own lips." With respect to the proposition now before the committee, he could not vote for the amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite. He conceived that by the vote of last night he had agreed to a decision of that question, on which the committee would not be called upon to make any alteration. He could see the difficulty under which the hon. Gentleman laboured, when he felt bound to make some proposition that should appear to be rather in favour of the farmers, yet (as the hon. Member stated last night) should, if carried, in no way be calculated to force upon the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) the necessity of resigning office; and therefore the hon. Member (Mr. Miles) had been obliged to make a proposition which, without being of very essential advantage to the farmer, would make an alteration in the plan of the Government which, at least, would be inconvenient. But he begged to call the attention of the hon. Member to one statement with respect to the importation of cattle to which Mr. Meek's report referred, and of which, it appeared to him, the hon. Member had lost sight. He did not think the result of the Government plan would be a large importation of cattle into this country from foreign parts, but such as it might be it would be, in great degree, forced by the operation of another law which regulated the importation of butter, cheese, and other agricultural produce. Mr. Meek, in his report, stated the amount of butter and cheese imported from Kiel 704 and Hamburgh, and he stated, that in 1818, the import of butter from Kiel into this country was 1,000,0001b., while at the present time the import amounted to 4,000,0001bs.This increase," said Mr. Meek, "was owing principally to the land being converted into pasture—a circumstance which was to be accounted for by the fluctuating nature of the corn averages in this country, which made it more advantageous to the producers to keep cows, and make butter, than by growing corn to incur the risk and uncertainty arising from the Corn-laws in this country.Now, he thought that this showed the effect of the Corn-laws was to induce persons abroad rather to apply their land to grass; and if they looked to anything as a subject matter of commerce with this country to look to the exportation of cattle, and if it were desired to prevent that exportation from being excessive, the best thing the Legislature and the Government (if the present plan of the Government was agreed to) could do, would be to make the corn duties agree with the duties on cattle, and thus foreign countries would not be forced into an unnatural direction, and the farmers of this country need not be afraid of any excessive importation of cattle. This, he repeated, was an affair which was occasioned simply by the regulations which this country had put in force. So neither should he vote for the proposition made by his hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton. For his own part, he would say, that if the Government had proposed it, he should not have had the least difficulty in assenting to a duty of 1s. a head; but the proposition of the Government was 20s. per head upon cattle imported, and that seemed to him to be a fair and moderate proposition; that rate of duty was not excessive, for if the price at Hamburgh was taken at 12l. a-head, the duty on importation into this country would be about 8 per cent, as stated in Mr. Meek's report. This, he repeated, was not excessive, and, therefore, as it was proposed by the Government, he should not like, for the sake of pure opposition, to oppose that which he thought to be a great improvement in the tariff at present existing. With regard to other propositions that might be made, he could only say that there were many things in the proposed tariff in which, in his judgment, some alteration would be desirable; but, at the same time, if he 705 thought that the proposition made by the Government was good in itself, and that he could agree with them in its principle, he certainly should be disposed to give it his support.
§ Sir R. Peel:
The course the noble Lord intends to pursue, almost induces me to refrain from making any statement with regard to the particular province of Russia to which the noble Lord has alluded. The noble Lord charges us with having increased the apprehensions, and added to the alarm which already prevailed in the country, by stating the immense amount of corn that would be imported from a province of Russia into our markets. Just let me remind the noble Lord and the committee of the real facts of the case. The noble Lord, or the late Government, appoints as a commercial agent at St. Petersburgh a gentleman well able to afford commercial information to this country. The late Government volunteered to get correct information as to the extent of the supply of corn that could be derived from foreign countries. Their consul, appointed on account of his commercial qualifications, informs the Government that 38,000,000 of quarters of wheat—he begged pardon—of corn, could be brought from a certain province of Russia. Her Majesty's late Government were then intent upon an alteration of the Corn-laws; and though, of course, they had read that information, still they had never thought it worth their while to inquire of their informant—this commercial agent—upon what basis this piece of information was founded. They never put that question, but they had printed for the information and instruction of Parliament and the country the statements they had derived from such a high authority on the subject of the capabilities of Russia as their commercial agent or consul. This information was in their possession for several months, and yet he was the first person to say, that it was a most astounding, statement; and accordingly he asked if there was not an error on the very face of it. On reference to the original despatch, it was found, that the 38,000,000 quarters of corn appeared, not in figures, but at length, in the handwriting of the consul himself. And there it remained, without any attempt on the part of the late Government, to clear up the manifestly apparent mistake; and then the noble Lord charges us with continuing this mistake, 706 which originated with, and was derived from their information. Now, he must be permitted to say, that the noble Lord was more responsible for those exaggerated apprehensions of which the noble Lord spoke, for the printing and circulating this information at the expense of the country, until he and the Government with which the noble Lord was connected found out the mistake, and then, when it was pointed out, they wrote to their consul to ask if his information was correct.
§ The committee divided, on the question that the blank be filled up with the words "One Shilling."—Ayes 44; Noes 209; — Majority 165.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Oswald, J.|
|Aldam, W.||Parker, J.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Philips, M.|
|Brotherton, J.||Protheroe, E.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Scholefield, J.|
|Christie, W. D.||Scott, R.|
|Cobden, R.||Smith, B.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Slansfield, W. R. C.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Duncombe, T.||Strutt, E.|
|Dundas, A.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Thornely, T.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Ward, H. G.|
|Humphrey, Mr. Ald.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Johnston, A.||Williams, V.|
|Marshall, W.||Wood, B.|
|Marsland, H.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Hume, J.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Villiers, C.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Botfield, B.|
|Ackers, J.||Broadley, H.|
|Alford, Visct.||Broadwood, H.|
|Allix, J. P.||Buck, L. W.|
|Antrobus, E.||Buckley, E.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Buller, C.|
|Archbold, R.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Ashley, Lord||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Bagge, W.||Busfield, W.|
|Baillie, Col.||Campbell, Sir H.|
|Bankes, G.||Campbell, A.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Cardwell, E.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Carew, hon. R. S.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Cavendish, hon. C. C.|
|Beckett, W.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Bell, M.||Cavley, E. S.|
|Beresford, Major||Chelsea, Visct,|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Chetwode, Sir J.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Clements, Visct.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Codrington, C. W.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Collett, W. R.||Johnson, W. G.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Jones, Capt.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Kelburne, Visct.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Craig, W. G.||Knatchbull, right hon. Sir E.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Labouchere, rt. hn. H.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Langston, J. H.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Denison, E. B.||Legh, G. C.|
|Divett, E.||Lemon, Sit C.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Litton, E.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Loch, J.|
|Duff, J.||Lockhart, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lyall, G.|
|East, J. B.||Lygon, hon. General|
|Eaton, R. J.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Egerlon, W. T.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Eliot, Lord||Marsham, Visct.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Marton, G.|
|Escott, B.||Masterman, J.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Evans, W.||Miles, W.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Fellowes, E.||Morgan, O.|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Morris, D.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Morrison, J.|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Forster, M.||Murray, C. R. S.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Neeld, J.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Neville, B.|
|Gill, T.||Newport, Visct.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Godson, R.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Gore, M.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Goring, C.||Paget, Col.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Palmer, R.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Palmer, G.|
|Greenall, P.||Patten, J. W.|
|Grimsdiich, T.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Peel, J.|
|Hampden, R.||Pigot, Sir R.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Polhill, F.|
|Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Hardy, J.||Price, R.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Pringle, A.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Pusey, P.|
|Henley, J. W.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hodgson, F.||Richards, R.|
|Hodgson, R.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Hogg, J W.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Holmes, hon. W. A'Ct.||Sanderson, R.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Howick, Visct.||Scarlett, hon. R. C.|
|Jackson, J. D.||Scott, hon. F.|
|James, Sir W. C,||Seale, Sir J. H.|
|Seymour, Lord||Vernon, G. H.|
|Shaw, rt. hon. F.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Sheppard, T.||Vivian, hon. Major|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Vivian, hon. Capt.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||Whitmore, T. C|
|Somerton, Visct.||Williams, T. P.|
|Stanley, Lord||Wodehouse, E.|
|Stanley, hon. W. O.||Wood, C.|
|Stewart, J.||Wood, Col.|
|Stuart, W. V.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Stuart, II.||Worsley, Lord|
|Sturt, H. C.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Tomline, G.||Yorke, hn. E. T.|
|Trollope, Sir J.||Young, J.|
|Turner, E.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Tyrell, Sir J. T.||Fremantle Sir T.|
On the main question being again pat, Major Vivian rose to move, pursuant to notice,
That the duty on cattle, meat, and other provisions mentioned in the tariff, imported from the Canadas, be equal to the import duties from other foreign countries.
He said, that the principle which it had been sought to apply to other parts of the tariff did not, in his opinion, extend to meat imported from Canada. That would be no boon to Canada, because they did not rear sufficient cattle there for their home consumption, but were obliged to look to America to make out the supply. Hence the boon given by the proposed rate of duty would not be a boon to our colonists, but to a foreign country, and that one which we were accustomed to dread most—he meant the country included in the western states of North America, and extending to 70,000 square miles of land on the banks of the Ohio and Mississippi. The effect of the measure would be that meat would be sent from these fertile plains in immense quantities through Canada, and the boon to the inhabitants of the western states would be, that they would be enabled to supply this market at only 2s. duty. This, in his opinion, was unfair to the British agriculturist. For his own part, he was quite ready to vote for free-trade if it could be had generally; but as long as they kept up protective duties at all, the principle, he contended, ought to be applied in such a case as this. A great many agriculturists among his constituents, who were deeply interested in this question, had pressed upon him the necessity of some alteration of the Government pro-?
posal, and he trusted, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet would reconsider his determination.
§ Sir R. Peel
doubted whether the hon. Gentleman had been happy in the article on which he had thought fit to bring forward this question; for it was on the question of the duty on oxen that the committee were then deliberating, and he did not conceive that there could possibly be any danger of importation of oxen from the banks of the Mississippi. The same, of course, with respect to fresh meat. To be sure, he had seen a haunch of venison brought from that country, but it was not quite in a state in which he should have liked to venture upon it. He did not think that it was necessary to go into the principle of the hon. Gentleman's proposed alteration. The House had discussed the principle very fully a short time ago; they had allowed this boon to Guernsey and Jersey, and he did not see why they should not allow it to the Canadas; for he did not see any great ground of apprehension that there would be any such influx of meat from that country as the hon. Gentleman seemed to apprehend. The hon. Gentleman, however, said there would be no boon to the Canadas, because, he said, they had no cattle there at present; but if cattle could be fed there so as to be converted into salt meat for exportation to this country, then, he thought, that would be a benefit to Canada. It would be a benefit to the colonist, and to a.certain extent to the consumer also; but he did not think that the effect with respect to the quantity likely to be imported would be such as need give rise to any apprehensions. Therefore he trusted that the House would feel, that it was not wise to accede to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, whose object, as he apprehended, was, to raise the amount of duty on all these articles of stock imported from the colonies to the same height as if they came from foreign countries.
§ Mr. C. Buller
thought, that he could dispel the alarms of the hon. and gallant Gentleman as to the importation of meat from the western states through Canada, because, though the Ohio was connected by a canal with Lake Erie, yet nevertheless so circuitous would be the route down the St. Lawrence, not to speak of the rapids or the periods at which the passage was shut up by ice, that he thought more 710 would be lost than gained by attempting such a speculation, and he must say, he thought that it would be found quite impracticable. Supposing, however, this country should be enabled to get American produce in such abundance as to cheapen food, he did not see any great danger in that, nor did he consider that to be an object against which the House ought to legislate. There might, perhaps, be an objection of a theoretical nature made against voting for this clause, on the ground of the great mischief of fostering trades in the colonies, not agreeably to their adaptation for those trades, but by means of protecting duties, with which the Legislature of this country was sure, eventually, as in the case of timber duties, to find themselves embarrassed; but he did not think, that this objection applied in this case, because he was of opinion that all the protection in the world would not suffice to raise up a trade of this sort in Canada. However, he did not wish to object to the tariff, which would be the greatest step towards free-trade—he did not say which had ever been attempted to be made, but which the country had ever yet made, and he was not prepared to deduct from the lofty character which he was ready to attribute to the measure. He would say, with respect to points of minor importance, that they ought not to look this valuable gift-horse in the mouth.
§ Viscount Howick
said, his wish was not to raise the duties on colonial produce to the level of the foreign duties, but rather that the foreign duties should be equalised with the colonial. With reference to the apprehensions which seem to be entertained on this point, he concurred with the right hon. Baronet that it was totally impossible that oxen could come across the Atlantic into this country. He deprecated another division on a question which, in point of principle, had been already decided. The amendment was moved as a concession to the fears of Gentlemen of landed property. Now, in those fears he by no means concurred. Much as he approved of that portion of the measure of her Majesty's Government to which this amendment referred, he yet could not help thinking that in this instance, looking to the interests of the agriculturists themselves, the right hon. Baronet had begun the application of his free-trade principles at the wrong end. Assuming that it was a question whether a certain amount of 711 free-trade should be admitted in corn or in cattle, he thought it would be better for the agriculturists that the beginning should be made with corn rather than with cattle; for all men acquainted with the present state of the operations of husbandry in this country must have perceived that the tendency of improvement in agriculture was rather towards the increase of the production and care of live stock, and the diminution of the cultivation of corn. He thought the hon. Member for East Somerset, and hon. Members acquainted with agriculture would agree with him, that in the least improved countries a contrary tendency was observable. This he could not but designate as a great mistake, and it did appear to him, that the course of the Government on this question went rather to favour that mistake than to discourage it. But believing, as he did, that competition with foreigners, whether it took place in corn or in cattle, would be for the advantage of the agriculturists, as well as for that of the other classes of the community, he should, notwithstanding his other objections, support this portion of the Government measure.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, where there existed such differences of opinion, it was extremely difficult to form an opinion of what would be the real operation of the tariff. He believed the noble Lord would admit, that spring corn, and not wheat, was chiefly used in the feeding of cattle. He had been in the first instance told, that the protection given to spring corn was disproportioned to that which was given to wheat; but the argument of the noble Lord went to show, that it would be morn beneficial to the agricultural interest if less protection were given to spring corn. It now appeared that he had been wise in giving that less amount of protection to spring corn, and he hoped that this would be treasured up by those agriculturists who dealt in spring corn. According to the argument made by his hon. Friend, the Member for East Somerset, the other night, he ought to say to the Members for Norfolk and Suffolk, "Don't be at all afraid of the importation of barley and oats, for the hon. Member for Somerset, says, they will only come in in the shape of fat cattle and pigs." But how did the trade with Ireland confirm that argument of the hon. Member for Somerset? Not at all; for it appeared, on the contrary, that this economical mode of importing 712 barley and oats in the shape of fat cattle had not taken effect. Simultaneously with the importation of the largest quantity of fat cattle from that country there had been the importation of the largest quantity of oats.
§ Viscount Howick
was very glad to have heard from the right hon. Baronet that it had been his intention so to frame the tariff as not unduly to encourage any particular branch of the cultivation of the country. Such sentiments were worthy the Prime Minister of such a country as this. The right hon. Baronet now took pride to himself for having encouraged spring corn instead of wheat, because it was more used in the rearing of cattle; but the great mistake of the right hon. Baronet was his not treating corn on the same principle as he had in his tariff treated cattle. The plan, indeed, taken as a whole, showed how utterly without any fixed principle it had been framed. If the principles of the Corn Bill were good as regarded corn, why not apply them to cattle? If the sliding-scale was a good principle as applied to one, why not apply it to the other? If, on the other hand, a moderate fixed duty, as affording a steady encouragement to the employment of capital, were a good principle to adopt with regard to cattle, why not admit the same principle as applied to corn? He repeated, that these discrepancies only the more forcibly showed, that there were no comprehensive views, no fixed principles in the measure of her Majesty's Govern. ment, taken as a whole. The very arguments which, when they came from the hon. Member for Somerset and others, were treated by the right hon. Baronet and his immediate supporters with a degree of contempt which they certainly never received from those who agreed with him in political views, the right hon. Baronet now turned round and used as his own arguments when the case was reversed.
§ Sir R. Peel,
looking at the last few remarks of the noble Lord, was very sorry that he had so soon repented the compliment he had paid him. With regard to the operation of the new Corn-law, it was of course, at present rather premature to attempt to form an opinion, but he would nevertheless state one or two facts. He found by statements which he held in his hand, that in the week ending the 12th May, 1842, 31,000 quarters of wheat were 713 entered for home consumption, of which 15,000 quarters were foreign wheat, paying 12s. duty. From the 12th to the 21st May, 5,760 quarters of foreign wheat were entered for home consumption in London alone, paying the then rate of duty. Now he would not attempt to make any prediction as to the effect of the Corn Bill, but he mentioned these facts as leading to a hope that the imposition of the more moderate duty would lead to a periodical release of foreign wheat for home consumption, and that it would, at the same time, afford some security against the recurrence of sudden and extravagant advances in the price of wheat.
§ Mr. Labouchere
observed, that the right hon. Baronet showed a disposition to evade the charge made against him from that (the Opposition) side of the House, of having used contradictory arguments as it suited his views in support of one or other portions of his measures. To that charge had been superadded this other— that the right hon. Baronet was encouraging a bad system of agriculture in this country. He had heard with satisfaction the reasons urged by the right hon. Baronet for his proposed alteration in the duty on cattle. The right hon. Baronet had told the agricultural interest, that though he rejoiced to think that the effect of the proposed change would not be to injure the agricultural interest, yet that the great point to which he looked was, that the great mass of the people should be adequately supplied with food. The right hon. Baronet, in fact, made the valuable admission, that the people of this country were not adequately supplied with food, and that, therefore, he had proposed a comprehensive measure for the importation of cattle. Now, really, it might be supposed from the language of the right hon. Gentleman, that meat formed the chief article of food with the mass of the people of this country. Unfortunately it did not, and the right hon. Baronet would find, admitting, as he had done, that the distress existing in the country was connected partially, if not entirely, with the deficient supply of food, that the time would come when the arguments which he had used to justify the importation of cattle would apply with tenfold force to corn. He held it to be impossible, that under the new Corn-law, a sufficient supply of corn could come in for the wants of the people, and then the ar- 714 guments of the right hon. Gentleman would be remembered, and used against him in support of a measure of further relief with regard to corn.
said, as he saw it was useless to attempt to divide against the right hon. Baronet, he would, with the permission of the House, withdraw his motion.
Lord J. Russell
hoped the right hon. Baronet would not object to put the House in possession of returns of the amount of corn entered for home consumption, and also of that in bond. He had heard that there were 1,000,000 quarters in bond, and he thought it was desirable that they should have accurate information on the subject. With reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, he must say that he thought the right hon. Baronet had not accurately represented the argument of the hon. Member for Berks. As he understood the hon. Member for Berks, in the resolutions on the Table, it was the intention of the hon. Member to say that the effect of the proposed change would be to lead to the importation of fat cattle, and of barley and oats in the shape of such fat cattle.
§ Mr. Hume
was glad the gallant Member proposed to withdraw his motion, as he could not have gone with him. He was of opinion that the colonies ought to be regarded as an integral part of the empire, and if they could produce enough over and above their own consumption to enable them to export their productions to England, those productions ought to be received free of duty, just as they would be received if they came from the Isle of Skye or any other part of the kingdom.
§ Mr. Pusey
had received the opinion of a farmer of 200l. a-year rent as to the operation of this portion of the tariff. Complimenting him on his not having suffered by the new Corn-law, the reply of the farmer was, "1 had rather wheat had fallen 10s. a quarter than that mutton should have fallen as it has done between last May and this." He (Mr. Pusey) had afterwards examined this farmer's accounts, and he found that by a fall of 10s. a quarter in wheat he would have lost All., but that he lost 10s. each upon sheep. He had converted 204 lambs into mutton in the course of the year,—a sufficient evidence to hon. Gentlemen acquainted with such subjects, of his being a person competent to form an opinion on 715 farming. This would afford some idea of the extent of his loss on the fall in the price of meat.
§ Sir R. Peel
would have been glad to find from his own bills that there had been that reduction in the price of mutton which the hon. Member referred to. He did not think that such a great reduction would be found yet to have taken place in the price of mutton. With regard to the question put to him by the noble Lord, he begged to say, that there were at present 800,000 quarters of wheat in bond, and 1,000,000 quarters of corn altogether in bond. Although he felt it was too early as yet for the House to examine into the operation of the new Corn-law, he should not refuse any information which it was in his power to afford on the subject, hoping, at the same time, that the House would not draw any decided inference from so short an experience of the law.
§ Mr. C. Wood
was not surprised that the right hon. Baronet should so express himself, seeing that the new Corn-law had not fulfilled the expectations which had been held out as to its probable effects. The right hon. Baronet stated that the quantity of foreign wheat brought in in the week ending the 14th of May in the present year was 15,000 quarters, and in the week ending the 2lst of May, about 5,000. Now, in the corresponding week, ending the 14th of May of last year, the quantity of foreign wheat introduced for home consumption was 17,000 quarters, and in the week ending the 21st of May, the quantity was 71,000 quarters, the duty being 23s. 8d.
§ Viscount Sandon
wished to observe, as hon. Members vaunted so much upon this subject, that there was a wide difference between the two articles which it involved —namely, corn and cattle. There was no ground whatever for apprehending that this country would be inundated with foreign cattle. The foreign supply of cattle was exceedingly limited, but of the article of corn there was an almost unlimited supply. Therefore was it that those who were desirous of affording some protection to native industry deemed it necessary to accommodate the amount of that protection to this state of things. It was evident that in no single year would there be produced an extraordinary amount of cattle. Not so with corn. In one year there might be so extensive a crop of wheat as to inundate the English markets, 716 to the injury and perhaps ruin, of the English farmer, if he were not protected by a duty, which, under this circumstance, was perfectly justifiable and perfectly consistent with common sense, but which was unnecessary, and therefore not justifiable, as regarded cattle. He confessed, too, that when he saw the labouring population of this country in so distressed a condition, he should be most unwilling to consent to any measure which would convert it from an arable into a pasture country, and thereby add to that distress by removing one of the great sources of employment. Then, as regarded our colonies, he had heard the noble Lord opposite (Lord Howick) say, that they ought to be put upon a footing with foreign countries, while the hon. Member for Montrose contended, that there ought to be no difference made between them and the mother country. How was a Government to be guided by such conflicting opinions as these? For his own part, he much preferred the principle of the hon. Member for Montrose, and would, if he could, place the colonies on a footing with this country, not merely with the view, or for the purpose of supplying this country with articles of consumption at a cheaper rate, but in order to establish a community of interests between this country and a very large portion of our colonies.
§ Mr. Labouchere:
His noble Friend the Member for Liverpool had very justly said, that cattle could not, but corn might, come in. He perfectly agreed with the noble Lord that that was the real solution of the different courses which had been pursued with respect to cattle and with respect to corn; and he must say, that if the Government had avowed that principle with the distinctness and frankness of his noble Friend, they could not now be reproached on the score of inconsistency. What was inconsistent in the Government was, that in bringing forward the measure as to cattle, they had adopted the language of free-trade in its broadest principles; they had stated that it was necessary to buy provisions in the cheapest markets, and that they had applied this principle to the article of cattle; and he was afraid he must agree with the noble Lord that little practical advantage was likely to ensue for the relief of the people from this measure, since they had adopted a different principle as to corn, where the principle alluded to would be of value. 717 He confessed that he had listened with much gratification, though with astonishment, at the language used by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), and the First Lord of the Treasury, with regard to cattle; and he could scarcely believe that he was listening to the same Gentleman who had previously addressed the House upon the subject of corn when the question most prominently brought forward was agricultural protection — full and ample protection to the British landowner. He was not disposed to undervalue the importance of agriculture; but he must contend that anything having reference to the interest of the landowners as a class, was infinitely subordinate when the question of a supply of food for the great body of the people was involved. Let them not forget what they had heard from the First Lord of the Treasury—the result of that diligent and anxious inquiry which he had made during the last few months—that the condition of the people was this, that the population was outstripping the supply of food. It was an important declaration that ought not to be forgotten by this House; and they might depend that it would not be forgotten by the country. He was surprised that a Minister who came to that conclusion, and stated it in so bold and broad a manner when arguing on the question of cattle, should have taken the course he did as to the Corn-law; because it could not be denied that, after all, with reference to the supply of food for the great body of the people, it was not to meat, but to bread, that they must chiefly look. With regard to colonial protection, he confessed that he was not inclined to act on any mere extreme abstract principle. He was not able to vote with his noble Friend (Lord Howick) the other night; not that he disagreed with much that his noble Friend stated; but at the same time he thought that, as long as we maintained the 'navigation laws, and insisted on the colonies receiving our manufactured goods at a lower rate of duty than the one which was imposed on foreign manufactures, it was impossible to deny a preference to some articles of colonial produce imported into this country. He was not prepared to say, that there were not cases in which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) had acted properly in introducing a different rate for the first time; he alluded especially to the manufactures 718 of India, and he was glad to see that a difference from the former system was proposed by the new tariff; for it should be remembered, that India was not one of those petty colonies, the defence of which was undertaken, and the civil government of which was provided for, by this country. At the same time he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have extended colonial protection unnecessarily, and particularly with respect to the article of live cattle.
§ Mr. Cobden
said, the statement made by the representative of the great commercial town of Liverpool would well justify the representative of the manufacturing town of Stockport in entering his protest against it. He had recently been in Lancashire, and knew something of the state of feeling there in reference to the subject under the consideration of the committee; and he found precisely the same sort of feeling as to the tariff as the noble Lord had expressed. The people of Lancashire believed that the legislation of this House was precisely that which had been "placarded" by the noble Lord from this House to-night, and that they were legislating for the introduction of articles into this country which they did not expect to import. The people were not satisfied with such legislation—it was a mockery of the country in its present condition. They saw there was no hope. That which extinguished the last embers of hope was the right hon. Baronet's Corn-law; but the people of England would "bide their time," and would not suffer themselves to be exterminated. Doctrines were forcing themselves upon the public mind which would lead to far greater changes than an alteration of the tariff, and every day that they proceeded with these miserable expedients in legislation increased the disgust of the people. Such legislation as this was a scandal to England and to Christendom; for he contended that Parliament had no earthly right to deny to the able-bodied, ingenious, but starving operative of Stockport the power of exchanging the produce of his industry for the food that was grown in the fertile valleys of the Mississippi. He told them then, as he told them nine months ago, that this was nothing short of legislative murder. The people of Stockport had a right to employ the produce of their capital in obtaining a supply of food; but what should be said of a Ministry that legislated purposely for 719 preventing an exchange?—It was not the price which they haggled about, though; the House might talk of the diminution of one penny per pound on the price of meat. It was comparatively of no consequence to the people what price they paid for food if they had but the means to earn it. The people contended for the right to exchange labour for food. Was it too much for the people to claim the right to go 3,000 miles for food? Were hon. Gentlemen prepared to give the means ef employment to those people, who never came forward with a demand asking the Legislature to fix the price of protection for cotton goods? They did not ask the Legislature, as the landed interest had done, to fix the price at which the people should have [cotton. No! the manufacturing classes only asked for a fair competition with all the world; and yet, after saying that they could not feed them or employ them, the House told them in effect that they should not have food at a cheap rate. For his own part, he said, he was prepared in that House to take any course which the forms of the House would permit to put an end to such a system of legislation.
§ Viscount Sandon
explained. The opinions which he had that night avowed, were those which he had advocated for eleven years of his political life.
§ Mr. Turner
thought it absolutely necessary for the best interests of the country that this tariff should pass into a law. He would say that, whether it were for good or for evil, those who stood by the tariff must stand or fall by it; but he believed that the country was anxious that that tariff should be speedily made law; and with a view to carry out this object, he would suggest that hon. Members should not make long speeches on every point which was mooted. He said that nine-tenths of the measures of the present Government were those which had originated with the late Government. He conjured those who were engaged in mercantile pursuits, and who sat chiefly on that (the Opposition) side, the other side being occupied more exclusively by those who represented the landed interest—he would conjure hon. Members indeed on both sides of the House, not to occupy one whole night up to nine o'clock without making progress, while millions of people were looking forward with intense anxiety to know how they should employ their capital.
720 The blank for the duty on colonial cattle was ordered to be filled up with "ten shillings."
On the question that a duty of 5s. be levied on swine and hogs imported from foreign countries, and 2s. 6d. on hogs and swine the produce of and from British possessions.
Mr. S. O'Brien
rose, for the purpose of endeavouring to impress on the committee the justice of altering the proposed duty. Hon. Members were, perhaps, not aware that a large portion of the poorer classes in Ireland depended, as a principal resource, on the rearing of pigs. Those acquainted with Ireland knew that there, were few cottagers in that country who did not attempt to keep a pig, in order, by its sale, to be assisted in the payment of their rent. In fact, so general was this desire, that to be without the means of having a pig was considered a test of destitution. It appeared to him that the rate of duty proposed in the tariff would, by giving advantages to the importation of foreign swine, be felt very injurious to that poor class of persons to whom he had alluded. He had intended to move that a duty of 4s. per cwt. should be substituted for the uniform duty of 5s. proposed to be levied under the new tariff. However, as the House had yesterday evening, by their decision on the amendment of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, negatived the principle of taking the duty by weight, he would now simply propose to negative the word "five," and would leave it to the Government to substitute any other rate of duty more conformable to the merits of the case.
§ Mr. W. Miles
had great satisfaction in supporting the amendment. He trusted that, as the hon. Member had used the argumentum ad misericordiam, the Government would take the case into their consideration.
§ The committee divided on the question that the blank be filled up with the words "five shillings,"—Ayes 121; Noes 32: Majority 89.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adare, Visct.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Beresford, Major|
|Antrobus, E.||Blakemore, R.|
|Baillie, Col.||Boldero, H. G.|
|Baird, W.||Botfield, B.|
|Baldwin, B.||Browne, hon. W.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Buckley, E.|
|Baring, it. hon F. T.||Buller, C.|
|Busfeild, W.||Marsland, H;|
|Childers, J. W.||Martin, J.|
|Christie, W. D.||Masterman, J.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Cobden, R.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Morgan, O.|
|Conolly, Col.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Nicholl, it. hon. J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Denison, E. B.||Parker, J.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Peel, right hon. Sir R.|
|Duncan, G.||Peel, J.|
|Dundas, Admiral||Philips, M.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Polhill, F.|
|Eliot, Lord||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Fitzroy, Capt.||Pringle, A.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Rashleigh. W.|
|Forster, M.||Rice, E. R.|
|Gaskell, J.||Milnes Round, C. G.|
|Gill, T.||Rous, hon. Capt.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Gore, M.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Shaw, right hon. F.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Smith, rt. hn. R. V.|
|Granby, Marquess of||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Greenall, P.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Hampden, R.||Stewart, J.|
|Hardy, J.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Tennent, J. E.|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Thesiger, F.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Thornely, T.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Howick, Visct.||Trotter, J.|
|Hume, J.||Turner, E.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Villiers, hon. C. P.|
|Jackson, J. D.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Vivian, J. E.|
|Johnson, W. G.||Ward, H. G.|
|Johnstone, A.||Wemyss, Capt,|
|Johnstone, H.||Williams, W.|
|Knatchbull, right hon.||Wood, B.|
|Sir E.||Wood, C.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Wood, Col.|
|Langston, J. H.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Law, hn. C. E.||Wood, G. W.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Lindsay, H. H.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Litton, E.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||TELLERS.|
|M'Geachy, F. A.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Marsham, Visct.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Esmonde, Sir T.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Halford, H.|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Henley, J. W.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Chetwode, Sir J.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Clayton, R. R.||March, Earl of|
|Colvile, C. R.||Morris, D.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Neeld, J.|
|O'Brien, J.||Stanley, hn. W. O.|
|O'Conor, D.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Palmer, R.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Palmer, G.||Yorke, hn. E. T.|
|Plumptre, J. P.|
|Reade, W, M.||Miles, W.|
|Smith, A.||O'Brien, W. S.|
§ On the proposition to levy a duty of 5s. per cwt. on cassara powder, the produce of foreign countries, and of Is. on the produce of British possessions,
Mr. V. Smith
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would have any objection to strike out this, and several articles from which no duty was derived, out of the list, or place a mere nominal duty on them for statistical purposes. There were, in the first edition of the tariff 267 articles, not one of which produced 5l. to the revenue in the year 1840. In the third edition some of these were struck out, and he hoped the principle would be carried farther. The retention of these articles was an incumbrance on the tariff, and would only throw ridicule on it in the eyes of foreign nations. On these grounds he would urge the propriety of striking them out, or of placing only a nominal duty for statistical purposes.
§ Mr. Gladstone
saw no very great difficulty in adopting the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman with respect to the article before the House, but saw no advantage that could arise from it. The hon. Gentleman proposed one of two courses, to strike out the article altogether, or to place on it a nominal duty for statistical purposes. The present duty was little more —only 5s. a cwt. If the article was struck out of its alphabetical place, and placed among the unenumerated articles, the duty would in reality be greater, namely, five per cent.
§ Mr. Labouchere
thought the suggestion of his hon. Friend well worthy consideration of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, it was extremely important for the convenience of the manufacturing and trading community, that the unenumerated articles should be as few as possible.
§ The Item agreed to.