HC Deb 17 February 1843 vol 66 cc769-887

The Order of the Day for the adjourned debate having been read,

Sir A. L. Hay

considered it his duty to say a few words in explanation of the vote he was about to give. It appeared to him that a more extraordinary debate than that which was now going on on the noble Lord's motion, had never taken place in that House. Had he not been acquainted with the relative position of parties, had he not known that the noble Lord was now in Opposition, he should have thought that the noble Lord was, as a Member of the Government, proposing a motion to carry out the wishes expressed in the Speech from the Throne. It had been alleged that this was a motion brought forward for mere party purposes, but he trusted that a British House of Commons would not so treat a question which concerned the state of the country. No man who knew the relative strength of the parties, and the great majority possessed by the present Government in both Houses, could, for a moment, suppose that the noble Lord, in bringing forward this motion, had the slightest intention or hope of overthrowing the Government. Was such a charge then fair, when the only object of the noble Lord was the relief of the national distress? He, for one, did not support the motion with any party view, his object was to get the Government to inquire into the present unparalleled distress, and, if possible, to find a remedy. He could declare, that in the northern part of the island, from which he came, there was the greatest distress even among the agricultural population, and there was a general impression among the farmers, that it would be better to have the Corn-laws repealed at once, as they would be certain of the permanency of that arrangement. It might be asserted that this was a party motion, but the people would see through such sophistry. They would see that there were still some men in that House willing to redress their grievances. It was not necessary that he should trouble the House at much length after the incomparable speech made on the previous evening by the right hon. Member for Ports mouth. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had promised not to alter the Corn-law during the present Session. Did he mean to wait until the completion of the collection of the most odious tax ever levied on the people of England? He did hope that before the conclusion of the debate they should hear something more satisfactory from the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had admitted the increase of the population, that that population must be supported by wages, and that wages could only come from profits, but the fact was, that now they had the increase of population, without either wages, profits, or demand. The hon. Member concluded by expressing his hope that the Government would do something for a patient, loyal, but most unfortunate people.

Mr. Rashleigh

considered this as a mere party motion, and not one for the relief of the national distress. He had been sent there by a numerous and important constituency to support her Majesty's Government, and believing that the motion of the noble Lord was intended as an impediment in the way of that Government, it should have his oppositon.

Captain Layard

said, he had long been anxious to speak, but he had not until now been able to catch the Speaker's eye, whose brilliancy regulated the volubility of hon. Members. The hon. Member for Evesham had made a speech in favour of a protective duty, though he admitted that the principle of a free exchange was the principle on which mankind had always acted, and the hon. Gentleman had brought forward the example of Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden, making an exchange of a rose. But he would not have risen at all were it not for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, who brought forward opinions and facts which would do more for free-trade than any other speech he had heard. That speech had convinced him. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the present law was only "temporary," though he had afterwards endeavoured to explain away the word. [Mr. Gladstone had not endeavoured to explain away the word.] Whatever was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, he used the word "temporary," and he turned round at the time to know what impression it produced, but he found it was not at all received with satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to explain it away by saying that "temporary" meant centuries. It was evident that the party opposite were divided among themselves, and many of them, who had formerly placed their confidence in the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, disapproved of the course he had last year taken. He had not heard one speech on the other side in this debate that showed any consistency, except that delivered last night by the hon. Member for Bridport (Mr. B. Cochrane.) That speech showed honesty of purpose, good talents, great industry, and much consistency in that hon. Gentleman, with whom he agreed in no opinion on this subject, save that which he expressed when he declared that no good whatever resulted from the changes of last year. The country was on the brink of a precipice, and they ought to take warning by what had happened in the manufacturing districts last year. He felt convinced that nothing but the intensity of the distress had occasioned the outbreak of last year, and it clearly was the duty of the House to endeavour to discover some remedy for that distress.

Mr. Blackstone

hoped that his hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough would withdraw his amendment; for much as he might go along with his hon. Friend in the views he entertained as to the evils of machinery, he thought that if his amendment were carried, it would be most inconvenient. If, however, his hon. Friend would make a substantive motion for a select committee to inquire into the subject, he would give to it his support. He must equally oppose the motion of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, as in his opinion it would lead to no useful result; but he felt bound to announce, that in opposing the motion of the noble Lord he did not do it on that occasion with a view of expressing reliance on the measures of her Majesty's Administration. He felt it his duty in the last Session of Parliament to offer opposition to some of the measures of the Government. He then told the right hon. Baronet, in the face of that House, that if the measures he brought forward were such as would tend to alleviate the unparalleled distress in the manufacturing districts, he would have made ample concession on his part, and those who sent him to that House concurred in his view; but he did venture to predict that the operation of the New Corn-law would not only not tend to alleviate the distress of the manufacturing districts, but would add to them considerable difficulties and embarrassments in the agricultural districts; and, as far as that measure had at present proceeded, it had fully borne out his prediction. He had listened with much attention to the speeches of several Members of the Administration. He had listened with painful attention to the statement of the right hon. Baronet on the first night of the Session. He had hoped at that time that it was not the intention of the right hon. Baronet to make any further change in the Corn-laws or any other measure connected with agricultural produce, and that Speech had been of considerable benefit in allaying the feverish state of the market, as a proof of which he would mention, that at his own market a very intelligent farmer told him that the speech of the right hon. Baronet had resuscitated the confidence of the farmers, and that wheat had risen 4s. per quarter. But he felt bound to say, that the opening speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade he must consider as rather ambiguous and somewhat equivocal. He thought it was a speech that did not tend to allay any feverish excitement, on the part of dealers in corn in this country. That speech, however, was somewhat contrasted in effect with that of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary; but, even then, there were some expressions in the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies that would tend not to allay alarm. He alluded to the announcement made the other night by the noble Lord, declaring the intention of Government to introduce American wheat in the shape of flour, through Canada, he supposed, at a nominal duty. That was a question which he would not then discuss, but whenever it was brought forward, he should give it his opposition. The announcement, however, would operate very disadvantageously in the agricultural markets, by the anticipation of such a measure. But from the latter part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade it seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman made an intimation that he had offered to all foreign Powers to co-operate with him in free-trade, but that they had met him with hostile tariffs. And then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say—and in which he thought the right hon. Gentleman must have made some considerable error—that with respect to the prices of agricultural produce, he did not think they could be ascribed to the measures of last year, and that it had, indeed, produced only a slight effect upon the price of corn. Did the right hon. Gentleman persist in stating that merely a slight effect on the price of corn had been produced? Why, he would refer to the Mark-lane Gazelle, and there he found that on the 14th of February, 1842, the price of wheat was quoted at 61s. 10d.; on the 16th of February, 1843, it was 48s 1d. Would the right hon. Gentleman persist, then, in stating that the effect on the price of corn had been but slight? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman said it was not on account of the new measure, but from the very abundant and beneficent harvest with which this country had been blessed; but, in the face of that, what was the importation of wheat to swamp the home market? More than 2,632,000 quarters of wheat, and nearly 1,000,000 cwt., of flour. He, therefore, did not oppose the motion from any peculiar confidence in the Government; and he could assure the Government, that although the farmers were a slow body to move, they were alive to their own interests, and that there was a sullen feeling amongst them, which would be soon aroused unless more attention was paid to their remonstrances.

Mr. Mark Philips

had regretted to observe the asperities that had been introduced into the debate. He thought it was desirable, in a discussion of this kind, that hon. Members should confine themselves to facts; and having stated their own feelings, to leave the public to draw their conclusions. An attack had been made upon a relative of his by the hon. Member for Knaresborough, which was most unfounded; and he could only wonder that any one should venture to cast such imputations upon a Gentleman, who, wherever he was known, was respected. That gentleman would never have appeared in this House as the representative of a numerous constituency, who had voluntarily elected him in his absence, had he been capable of tyrannising over the young people in his employ, as represented by the hon. Member for Knaresborough. He now begged to read a letter from that individual, Mr. Greg, in answer to the charge which had been brought against him.

The Speaker

interrupted the hon. Member, and informed him, that he would not be in order if he read any letter referring to a speech made by an hon. Member in that House.

Mr. Mark Philips

said, that as he was debarred from reading the letter, he would make a general statement in conformity with its contents. Mr. Greg gave his most unqualified contradiction to the statements of the hon. Member, which were utterly without foundation. It would be impossible to for any one to show a single instance of harsh treatment, much less of cruelty in the mill, during a period of sixty years. The mill had been incorrectly described in some of the news-papers: it was situated in a retired part of Chester, and was called Quarry Bank Mill, and was a mill worked by water power. The hon. Member for Knaresborough had accused the manufacturers of having recently had recourse to the system of apprentices, but that system was an old one. Formerly there were eighty or ninety apprentices, but now the number did not exceed forty. Some of these came from a workhouse in Liverpool, and some from the workhouse of Newbury in Berkshire. These children were carefully educated, as he himself could testify; and there was not a better conducted or more intelligent set of persons of that class in the kingdom. During the riots, not one of these people took part in the disturbances of that district, although they were turned out of their employ by the mobs which came from other parts, and compelled them to leave off work. The charge of over-working was entirely unfounded: there never had been a single complaint against the proprietors of the mill, either under the old Apprentice Act or the new system. The maintenance of the young people cost 5s. 6d. a week each, and their ages varied from nine to eighteen. They had five meals a day; and when sick, they were attended by a gentleman who was the physician to the family of the proprietor. Visitors came from Newbury and from Liverpool, and had always expressed themselves satisfied with the treatment of the children; and, in fact, there were numerous applications from those places to get the same employment for other children. When anyone came to see the children, admittance was always given, and when their relatives came a half-holiday was granted. Any one who chose to go to the establishment, might be satisfied on the spot of the assertions he was then making. The fact was, that these charges had been made against Mr. Greg because he had taken an honest course in regard to the Ten Hours bill, and had pointed out the evils that would arise to the working-classes themselves from its adoption. He would advise the hon. Member for Knaresborough to be more cautious for the future in using the in- formation he received, and which was not always to be depended upon, even when accompanied by the most solemn asseverations. If the hon. Member for Knaresborough would go to the spot, he might satisfy himself that there was no foundation whatsoever for the aspersions he had cast upon an individual, who was one of the most respectable and deserving of that much abused body, the manufacturers of England. He was sorry to have detained the House so long upon a personal matter, and he would now offer a few observations upon the question that was agitating the country. He wished he could concur with the right hon. Gentleman in believing that substantial relief was at hand. Since the commencement of the present Session, the state of trade in the district with which he was connected had, week by week, become less satisfactory. The prices sent to him from Manchester, exhibited a downward tendency, which conveyed to his mind the most serious apprehensions. The trade of the last year was affected by the disturbances which took place in August. Not less than a million and a half of pieces of calico or shirtings had, as it were, been abstracted from the market, in consequence of those disturbances; that was to say, if the disturbances had not occurred, a million and a half more pieces would have been produced, and notwithstanding that the market was unable to take off what was produced. That was the case with manufactured goods. In cotton twist, he believed there was at the present moment a trifling advance over the lowest prices of last year. He feared much disappointment would ensue if the manufacturers looked for much advantage from the opening of the communication with China. The exports to China had lately been on so extended a scale, that he feared it would be found there would be little increase in the demand for British manufactured goods; and he should be glad if he could urge caution upon the manufacturers, before they committed themselves to any extensive transactions. If he were connected with the foreign trade, he should not be disposed to speculate. He traced a vast amount of the distress to the circumstance of the people having been compelled for a series of years to pay more for their food than it was possible for them to pay. The right hon. Baronet had expressed his wish to keep the price of wheat at about 56s.; but he thought if the hon. Gentleman would calculate how much over 56s. per quarter the operatives had been paying for their bread, he would find that it was enough to keep them in clothing. If the sliding-scale were to be persevered in, he could only reiterate the opinion which he had from time to time stated in that House, that the trade of the country would permanently decline, and its prosperity totally disappear. He could not join with those who thought that this country produced as much of corn as was necessary for its consumption. It was necessary, therefore, that the restrictions upon the importation of corn should be, as far as possible, removed. It. was said, that the continental nations of Europe fenced themselves round with high protecting duties, and that it would be impossible to induce them to retrace their steps. He did not join in that opinion. He believed, that if our restrictive system were wisely relaxed, the inhabitants of the various nations of Europe, seeing that we were capable of supplying them with articles of manufacture at a much cheaper rate than they could produce them themselves, would compel their several governments to make such a remission of their protecting duties, as should admit of a freer introduction of British goods. As matters now stood, we were not only excluded, in a great degree, from the different great markets of Europe, but were rapidly hastening to the point at which, it might be feared, that our greatest and best customers, the Americans, would be led to adopt a similar system of restriction and exclusion, to that which unhappily prevailed upon the Continent. He was satisfied that unless we took this matter into grave consideration, and hastened to adopt a sounder system, we should live to deplore the loss of our best and greatest market, the market of the United States of America. It was to the falling off which had already taken place in that market, that a great portion of the manufacturing distress of this country was to be attributed. Whether as regarded the trade in hardware, in cotton, or indeed any one of the great branches of our manufactures, there was scarcely one of them that was not suffering in a greater or less degree, from the falling off in the demand of our great transatlantic customer. He should regret to see the day, when by our bad policy, we should drive the Americans from the trading inter- course which he believed they were perfectly ready to carry on. He believed, also, that they would be very willing to liberalise their system towards us, if we were to evince a readiness on our side to admit of a more liberal exchange of their commodities for ours. As a means of mitigating the privations of our labouring population, and at the same time of benefiting the manufactures and extending the commerce of the country, he thought that the importance of revising and reducing the duties on sugar could not be over estimated. It appeared that the annual average consumption of sugar by the working people of this country was only 17 lbs. or 18 lbs. per head; being less than the allowance made to every sailor in the navy, and less even than was allotted to every inmate of every well-regulated union workhouse. Here then was a market, a large and most important market, if her Majesty's Ministers would only be wise enough to open it. Let them place themselves in closer communication with the countries which produced sugar: let them admit that valuable commodity upon fairer and more liberal terms, and they would find it an article of daily increasing consumption. And to those who had the interest of the poor of this country at heart, he would say that he knew of no greater boon that they could confer upon their humbler countrymen than to place this necessary article of consumption within their reach at a reasonable price. He believed that by doing so, the landed gentry would be adding to the value of their estates. At all events, he was persuaded of this, that every day that the settlement of the sugar duties was delayed, every day that the injurious system of differential duties was continued, the Legislature and the Government were guilty of prolonging the miseries of which the poor complained, and of driving the operatives of this country, day by day, into a still more degraded position than that which they already occupied. With reference to the condition of his own constituents at Manchester, he would only state, that the poor-rates of that town were daily increasing—that the number of individuals receiving relief materially increased from week to week—that at the present moment, the number of individuals in the receipt of parochial aid, amounted to between 700 and 800 more than the number receiving relief for the corresponding week of last year; and that he was unable to lay before the House or the country any flattering prospect of improvement amongst those whose interests he more immediately represented in that House. He would only say to the hon. Gentlemen opposite who were identified with the landed interest—an interest with which he also was intimately connected, that he extremely regretted the course which they had taken. He thought that their conduct in reference to the Corn-laws exposed them to the charge of having been actuated by selfish views. He called upon them to reflect upon the circumstances under which the Corn-bill of 1815 was passed. At that time, the manufacturers of the country had really no voice in the Legislature, nor were they themselves sufficiently alive to the great importance of the measure which went to restrict the supply of food. But, if at that time the Parliament of this country acted in ignorance; if it had no information before it of what the practical evils of the system would be, the present generation having had a sad experience of those evils, and having witnessed the distress and suffering to which they had given birth, could not plead ignorance upon the subject, but must proceed to an adjustment of the question, with a full knowledge of the mischiefs which the unwise legislation of their predecessors had entailed upon all the great interests of the country. Under these circumstances, he hoped that the Gentlemen of the present day would, upon the best consideration that they could devote to a subject of so much importance, reflect that this was not a question of maintaining one interest at the expense of another; but a question which belonged to the general interests of the whole community, and in the wise adjustment of which was involved the welfare and well-being of this great and once prosperous country. He could not conceive any question which had a greater claim upon the attention of the House. The depth and extent of the distress which now unhappily prevailed, in almost every part of the country, was admitted on all hands. That being the case, it was necessary that an enquiry should be made, as well into the cause of the distress, as into the mode of mitigating it. He would not quarrel about the form, or the manner, in which the inquiry should be conducted. He believed, that if the House were to go into committee, many facts might be brought to light, and many valuable suggestions be made. He was, therefore, anxious that the proposition of the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, should be acceded to. When the Gentlemen opposite opposed themselves to that proposition, would they give to the House an assurance, that they were themselves prepared to bring forward some measure which they believed would rescue the country from its present condition of deep distress? If they would do so, he was sure that they would meet with no unwillingness from Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side of the House to concur with them, and to support them in carrying any measure that should afford the prospect of conferring a real and substantial relief. He could not resume his seat without expressing his regret that no such assurance had as yet proceeded from the Treasury Bench—that no proposition had been offered that could be regarded as in any way calculated to relieve, or even to assuage the difficulties under which the country was labouring.

Mr. Ferrand

wished to explain. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Philips) stated that in the debate of a previous evening, he (Mr. Ferrand) had asserted that the owners of mills in Manchester had lately introduced the system of apprenticeship. [Mr. M. Philips; I so understood the hon. Gentleman.] Then the hon. Gentleman misunderstood me: I had no intention of making any such statement. Several hon. Members on the other side of the House have attempted to make it appear, that I have charged the whole body of manufacturers with cruelty and oppression. That is not the case. I had never any intention of making any such charge. On the contrary, I know some gentlemen having mills who are as humane men as ever lived. The statement which I offered to the House the other evening was founded upon information which I had received from an individual on whose testimony I could place the fullest confidence.

The Speaker

here interposed, and intimated to the hon. Gentleman that he was overstepping the rule of Order when he extended his observations beyond what was strictly necessary for explanation.

Mr. Darby

did not think any practical good could possibly arise from acceding to this motion, and therefore, instead of showing sympathy with a suffering people, the proposition in his opinion rather partook of mockery. He rose, however, chiefly in consequence of some expressions which had been attributed to different Members of the Government; and, although it was not his place to defend them, he could not sit still and hear expressions ascribed to them which, if true in the meaning attached to them by hon. Members opposite, would make it a question with him whether he should at that moment be a supporter of the present Ministry or not. What was the first misrepresentation? On the first day of the Session the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government gave an answer to a question which was put to him, and how was it treated?—not as a reply to a question, but as a declaration. If it had been a declaration, it would have been of a perfectly different nature and tendency from what it was as an answer to a question. The hon. Member for Halifax had asked. whether her Majesty's Government intended to alter the Corn-laws this Session, and the right hon. Baronet said he did not intend to alter the Corn-laws, and that he was precisely of the same opinion as when the measure of last Session was passed: but what was the very logical inference! why, that he would alter it next Session. Such a deduction, he maintained, could by no means be legitimately drawn from the premises. The next misrepresentation arose out of the Speech of the right hon. the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. He had heard the right hon. Gentleman state, in reply to the Speech of the noble Lord who introduced this motion, that he was ready to enter into the discussion of the Corn-law whenever it was brought forward as a distinct question, but that such and such had been the principle of the Corn-law for a long time past, and that was immediately construed into an admission that the act of last Session was a temporary measure. It was also said that the right hon. Gentleman had altered his opinion since the last Session of Parliament. Now, having formed part of many deputations that had waited upon the Government on this question, he must say the general principle maintained out of that House, as well as within it, was that the alterations proposed would not seriously affect those who thought they would be injured by their operation, the intention always being to protect the labour and capital of the country. Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not think the Government went far enough, but the right hon. Gentleman declared that he would not consent to such an alteration of duties as would affect the labour and capital of the country. He distinctly understood from the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, that with respect to the Corn-laws he entertained the same opinions he did last Session; that he would not give an assurance that to the end of time that law should be maintained, but that the duty should be so regulated that the labour and capital of the country should be protected. If that principle were maintained, it was all he asked. But if the Government had said, "We will irrevocably, and under all circumstances, pledge ourselves to maintain this law," it would have given him no security whatever for its maintenance, because he should have felt that any Government which could be so weak as to allow itself to be taunted into such a declaration, so far from maintaining the law, would be the first to change it; but if the right hon. Baronet had last year mental reservations, and contemplated a period when he might alter the law, he could not in such a case continue to support him. He regretted that some of his hon. Friends had upon this subject fallen into the trap set for them by Gentlemen opposite. It seemed to be a regular plan acted upon by all the Opposition journals during the recess, to produce the impression that the law must be altered this Session. It was a decided party movement, and hence the first question put was whether the law was to be altered this Session? "No," said the right hon. Baronet, which, in the logic of hon. Gentlemen opposite, could of course only mean that he intended to alter it next Session. Although he and some of his hon. Friends had differed from the Government on many points during the last Session of Parliament, he did not think her Majesty's Government could have made fairer and clearer statements with respect to any alteration of the Corn-law than they had done since the present Session commenced; and if he thought they had made those statements with the slighest reservation, which he did not believe,—if he thought they contemplated any alteration of the law, and this he did not believe, he would no longer give them his support. The declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had been grossly misstated in the public organs supporting the opinions of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The principle the Government had laid down, in reducing the duty on corn, was to endeavour to effect an alteration without seriously affecting the labour and capital employed in the production of that article. The right hon. Baronet now said that he would not make the mad reductions demanded by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but that he would consider whether such reductions would prove injurious to the labour and capital employed in agriculture. This was precisely the same principle as was laid down by the right hon. Gentleman last Session. It had been said that the motion now before the House was not a party question; but a more complete party speech than that of the right hon. Member for Portsmouth he had never heard. The right hon. Gentleman evidently designed to set clumsy and ill-conceived traps for Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. That right hon. Gentle man attempted to make it out that there had been some mental reservation on the part of the Government with respect to the Corn-law, and stated that when the measure of last Session was introduced they were not told that it was to be regarded as a settlement of the question. He would repeat, that if the Government, when they brought forward the measure of last Session, contemplated any further alteration in the law, they had, in not having communicated such intention to those who then objected to that measure, been guilty of great deception, and he for one could not, under such circumstances, continue to give them his support. But he would at the same time say, that it was absurd to expect. any Minister of the Crown to declare that, as long as he lived, he would pledge himself to make no alteration in a particular law. No wise Minister, certainly, would give such a pledge; and he far from regarding such a declaration as any security against change, would consider that the man who was weak enough to make it would also be weak enough, when pressed by circumstances, to accede to an alteration. He had never believed, and he did not now believe, that the Government entertained any intention of altering the Corn-law; and he was sorry that some hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House had fallen into the trap which had been set for them. He regretted, as much as any one, the deep and severe distress which affected the manufacturing interest; but some very curious facts had come out incidentally during the present debate, which convinced him that this distress arose from a complication of circumstances, which would preclude any committee of that House, even if their labours were prolonged for twelvemonths, from providing a remedy for it. The question would require the most careful and abstracted attention of able men, in their closets, in order to arrive at any means of relief. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had stated, on high authority that this country could produce manufactures at a cheaper rate than any other; and it had been asserted by hon. Gentlemen opposite that there had been a greater average quantity of manufactured goods exported during the last three years than had been the case during any former period. He would say nothing about the price; but, concurrently with these circumstances, a great number of artisans had been destitute of employment. He thought, then, there must be something very extraordinary in the state of the manufacturing districts. He was not one of those persons who supposed that they could put down machinery by legislation; but it seemed to him that the state of things to which he referred must have arisen from immense competition—a competition between real capital and credit—which had led to extensive overproduction. How, then, were they to remedy the existing evil? Hon. Gentlemen opposite proposed to do this by extending, as they said, our commerce, while at the same time they would displace the labour of the agriculturists. Hon. Gentlemen said that our commerce must be promoted to an unlimited extent; but if that was done by the exchange of our manufactures for foreign corn, the corn of this country must be displaced to an unlimited extent. If they only imported as much corn as they needed to supply the deficiency of production in this country, then the exports of our manufactures in exchange must be limited to the value of the corn imported; but if an un limited amount of manufactured goods were exported in exchange for foreign corn, the corn of this country must naturally be displaced. Hon. Gentlemen opposite clamoured loudly for a repeal of the Corn-law, but they did not agitate for a reduction of the protective duties on manufactures. He thought the proper course was to protect the landed interest so far as to encourage the growth of corn at home, while at the same time it was prevented from reaching an extravagant price. He was convinced that, so far from free-trade in corn tending to establish an even price, it would cause ten times more confusion than existed at pre sent. If this country became dependent on foreign nations for its supply of corn, it would be entirely at their mercy, and, instead of obtaining even prices, there would be greater fluctuations than ever. He believed, that with a law which protected corn of home production when it was at a low price, and which admitted a free importation of it when it rose to a certain degree, they would not only obtain a more perfect supply of food for the people, but they would also, on the whole, have a better exchange for their manufactured goods. When the new tariff was brought forward last Session, many hon. Members opposite were loud in complaining of pro posed reductions of duties which affected their interests. Why, then, did they come down to this House and ask for a free-trade in corn? Why did they not ask for a free-trade in all other articles? [Cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen cheered; but if the House were more full than it was at present he did not think many gentlemen would cheer. Why did not hon. Gentlemen press the Government for a reduction of duties with respect to articles in the manufacture or production of which they were interested? He would assert, that hon. Gentlemen who did not do so were not sup porters of free-trade. Why did not the Anti-Corn-law League call itself the "General Free-trade League?" They dare not propose such an association in the manufacturing districts. They called this society the Anti-Corn-law League, in order to induce persons to join them; but if they avowed themselves the advocates of free trade in every article of production, there would soon be a dissolution of the League. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to wish to make cotton the great medium of ex change for corn; but why not exchange it for silk, or other articles, consumed by the population of this country, as well as for corn? It would be a most dangerous thing for the country to depend upon any one trade carried on by machinery; indeed, he believed such a state of things could not exist for two years, and the cotton manufacturers, instead of gaining by it, would speedily be reduced to a state of bankruptcy. In the course of this debate numerous topics had been touched upon, and among others, the subjects of treaties with foreign countries and the promotion of colonial trade. Those subjects were not new, for the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, during the discussions on the tariff last year, stated that he had those objects in view, and expressed his anxiety that measures should be adopted for the promotion of the commerce of the country. There were immense fields of commerce open to this country; and, although he deplored most deeply the existing distress, he must be allowed to say, that he thought the Government was pursuing a wise and judicious course in protecting the labour and capital of the kingdom. He hoped hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House would not entertain the opinion that the Government were practising any deception with respect to an alteration of the Corn-law. If they entertained such an idea, they had better at once say that they no longer possessed confidence in the Government. He thought it was unfair of hon. Gentlemen opposite to take—as they had done in this case—statements of Members of the Government in reply to questions, and argue upon them; for such a course tended to diminish that confidence which it was so desirable to maintain in the country, and, instead of benefiting their constituents, it would be most prejudicial to their interests. Those men who, for mere party purposes—in order to render their opponents unpopular—favoured the idea, which they knew to be unfounded, that the Government intended to propose any alteration in the Corn-law, created anxiety and distrust throughout the kingdom, and prevented that restoration of confidence which could alone heal the wounds under which, he regretted to say, the country was now suffering.

Lord H. Vane

felt great unwillingness, after so protracted a debate, to solicit the indulgence of the House; but he felt himself obliged to express his reluctant dissent from the motion of his noble Friend—it was with reluctance he did so, because he concurred in many of the views of the noble Lord. He had voted with the noble Lord on the great question of sugar. He preferred the measure on the timber laws originally propounded by the noble Lord, the Member for London, to that of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, taking into consideration the question of revenue. But if he might allude to matters personal to himself, in 1841, when he passed through the ordeal of a general election, he had then advocated a complete reformation of the commercial tariff; but he at the same time told the agriculturists, that, concurrently with such a diminution of protection, they must expect an extensive diminution of agricultural protection; and that he could not consent to such a withdrawal of protection as would introduce great perturbation into that interest, and necessarily displace a great mass of agricultural labour. Addressing himself to the question before the House, it appeared that distress of unexampled duration was admitted by every Member who had addressed the House on both sides. His noble Friend brought forward, under these circumstances, a motion not to enquire, but intended to go into committee with a foregone conclusion; he, however, had disclaimed any party motive. What, then, was his object—not to inquire? From the speech of his hon. Friend, the Member for Halifax, his noble Friend meant, if not the withdrawal of protection altogether, a nominal fixed duty, as he had used the expression "fixed duty" only in conjunction with a low duty, as some qualification of the present duty. This was the only remedy his noble Friend intended to propose, for his motion could only mean this. Now he could not give his consent to what seemed involved in such a motion, being nothing less than an immediate, abrupt, wholesale withdrawal of protection. The hon. Member' for Halifax had mentioned, that a large mass of artizans had returned from Leeds to the agricultural villages of his vicinity in a state of destitution. He must, then, imagine, that the total change in the Corn-laws would not only find employment, by the impulses afforded to trade for the manufacturers now out of employ, but also for the agriculturists whose labours would be displaced. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward), who spoke always with great fairness, had stated, that the Zollverein in Germany had been formed on account of our refusal to admit German corn. That refusal had certainly accelerated it; but there was a desire in Germany, which, sooner or later, must have taken effect, to abolish restrictions on commerce between the different states. In 1815, the finances of the country were exhausted; but as capital accumulated, the establishment of manufactures, supposed to be a source of riches, unavoidably arose a body of men who exercised in Germany great influence over the public mind, the body of professors, who, urgent in their endeavours to establish a commercial union between the different states of Germany to abolish those internal restrictions between the states, which operated in a manner analogous to municipal restriction, to the early removal of which in this country the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, justly attributed the development of internal trade, and the increase of prosperity here. The endeavours of this body thus supported by public feeling, contributed largely to the formation of the Zollverein. The hon. Member for Sheffield thought, that if we did not abolish all protection on corn, we should lose the American market; but that if we abolished these, a majority of the Congress would sweep away the restrictive tariff which had been lately established. But, after all the changes and vicissitudes of opinion in that country, would any one on such a chance, independently of other grounds, and on that contingency alone, cast the political dice? The hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. D'Israeli) attached much importance to treaties. He (Lord Vane) agreed, that a treaty with France was most desirable; but he much doubted whether a majority in the French Chamber of Deputies could be induced, in a commercial point of view, to consent to such a removal of restrictions as would materially enlarge our commerce. But the hon. Members had blamed the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) for not contracting treaties of commerce, and had made a grave accusation of the omission of two complimentary embassies; but in his opinion, the best way of establishing relations with Brazil was by a diminution of duties upon sugars. The noble Lord concluded by regretting that his dissent on so extensive a modification of the Corn-laws as was involved in this proposition, and which would necessarily displace a great portion of agricultural labour and capital, prevented his voting with the noble Lord.

Mr. Brotherton

said, that the distress which had existed for two or three years past still continued to an alarming extent; and, being convinced of this, he should support the motion, not from any party feeling, but from a sincere desire that the people should be relieved from the evils they experienced. He could state from his own knowledge, that all classes of traders were suffering to a great extent; the merchant, the manufacturer, the ship owner, were all going in a downward course. Letters he had received within these two days from merchants and manufacturers stated, that they thought things were growing worse, and that the distress was becoming more and more prevalent. He had in his hand a statement relative to the borough of Salford, taken from returns made by the Poor-law guardians, from which it appeared that in the Salford Union, in the quarter ending December, 1839, there were 2,181 persons relieved; in 1840, 2,239; in 1841, 2,380; in 1842, 4,230; and he was told that since these returns had been made in January last, there had been an increase of numbers. The poor-rates levied in Salford in 1836, amounted to 7,079l.; in 1839 they were 13,366l.; in 1840, 12,761l.; in 1841, 17,547l.; in 1842, 23,961l. But this was not all; in addition to the increase in the rates and the number of paupers, there had been a decrease in the value of property. In 1839 the rental was 155,332l.; in 1842 it was 141,100l.., showing, in two years, a decrease of 14,232l.; and there ought to be considered, in addition to this, all the uninhabited houses, mills, and other places; and, therefore, the depreciation of property must be going on to an alarming extent. Even this was not all; crime was increasing; great demoralization was always produced by such a state of things. Comparing years of plenty with years of scarcity it was always found, that when food was plentiful crime diminished, and increased with a scarcity. In 1831 there were 1,000 persons committed for trial at the New Bailey, in Sal ford. In 1836, notwithstanding the in crease of population, when food was cheap, there was only an increase of 12 in the number committed. In 1842 the number was 2,041. But it had been represented, that there was some improvement in the districts. He was ready to admit, that when the news of the peace with China arrived, there was a considerable disposition to set the mills to work; some that had been only working half time, worked full time; but the report of Mr. Horner, the factory inspector, which had lately been laid on the Table by the Home Secretary, showed that there were but 4,710 out of the 16,774 out of employment in 1841, who were now in full employ; and that of those who were half-employed, there were 11,469 still working short time. Then there was no building going on; all was paralysed; machine-makers were at a low ebb; the joiners, carpenters, and bricklayers were almost all out of employ; and many other trades were in great depression. Therefore, he was justified in saying, that the state of distress was continuing to increase, and that there was no appearance of improvement. Food, no doubt, was something cheaper than it was; and while food continued cheap, there might be a chance of trade reviving. On the other side of the House there was sympathy expressed, no doubt, but no means appeared to be contemplated to relieve the distress. Hon. Members opposite did not appear to believe there was any necessity for the relaxation of those laws which obstructed the markets for our produce. Some said the distress was attributable to over-trading, others to machinery, others to joint-stock banks. Numerous causes had been assigned, none of them, in his opinion, sufficient to account for the extent of the evil. What were the remedies proposed? The hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand) had proposed to put a tax on machinery; in fact, machinery seemed to be intended to be stopped wholly. But if they stopped the machines, and went back to hand-loom weaving and spinning, and allowed the manufacturers on the Continent to use all the newly-invented machinery which British ingenuity and skill had discovered and applied to the production of its manufactures, how were the 50,000,000l. of taxes, and the 60,000,000l. of rent, and the 10,000,000l. of tithes, and rates, and other duties to be paid? Why, the thing was so absurd, that it had been properly characterised as lunatic logic, and lunatic logic it was. On this supposition he would ask, how were the people to be employed and fed? What increased our wealth but machinery? What increased the value of the land but our commerce? Hon. Members in this seemed very ready to put the cart before the horse, and say, that the landed interest ought to be looked to before the commercial interest. He was ready to admit, that the landed interest and the commercial interest ought to go hand in hand; but it was the prosperity of the latter that caused the prosperity of the former. What was it that enabled the artizan of England to earn higher wages than the foreigner?—Our manufactures. If the landowners knew their own interest, they would cherish commerce; and, though he knew it was in vain to appeal to their humanity, he did expect something from their views of their own interests; the moment they saw their own interest in it, they would relax these laws. He was well aware, that it was in vain to appeal to their justice or humanity, but he did expect something from an appeal to their interests; the moment they found that the existing laws were ad verse to their interests, they would give way; the argument must, therefore, be addressed to their pockets. It was quite a fallacy to suppose that the Corn-law could not be relaxed without injuring the land; by promoting the manufacturers' interest, they would promote their own. The farmers in the neighbourhood of Manchester found out this. Previously to the distress, they had been in favour of the Corn-laws; but, on the suspension of labour, when they found they could not sell what they brought to market, and that there was no money to pay for food, they had altered their opinions, for they saw that it was owing to there being no employment for the people. Seventy years ago, the cotton manufacture employed not more than 60,000 persons; now it employed not less than 1,500,000. Seventy years ago, there were not more than 350,000 inhabitants in Lancashire, now there were 1,600,000, a great portion of whom were employed in manufactures. But the landed interest said, "We must have protection; we are your best customers." Look at the facts. In 1815, when the Corn-law was established, the manufacturers could exchange a piece of calico for three bushels of wheat; and now they could not get more than about three quarters of a bushel of wheat for a piece of calico of the same quality. Here, therefore, they gave the landowner cheap goods for dear corn. That was the valuable custom that they told the manufacturers of. As for the principles of the Government, he admired them; but what they wanted was the practice of those principles. They agreed to the existence of distress, and in the principle which would, if applied, alleviate it; and they allowed that the population had increased by 220,000 a year; but they would not carry out the principles. What was to come of this immense annual increase? If they were not employed, they must come on the land. How to set them to work was the problem; how the labourer or artizan was to earn his bread? Why, the natural plan was to extend our commerce. It had been said, that over trading and over production were the causes of the distress. How could overproduction be taking place?—over production meant diminished demand. The people were not clothed. The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Liddell) had talked of a railroad to Jupiter, and our being able by machinery to supply the people there; but he had heard it calculated by a Friend that the manufacturers, with all their machinery, could not at present furnish three quarters of a yard for each individual in this world without going to Jupiter. To supply the East Indies alone would re quire a factory to reach from Manchester to London. It was admitted that other countries were ready to take our goods if we would take their corn; but it was sup posed that such a proceeding must necessarily displace our labour. That was a fallacy; but if it should, a duty of Is. per quarter on foreign corn is a tax upon the community equal to the wages of all the labourers employed on 3,000,000 of acres. It was said food was cheap; that he allowed; but under the sliding-scale no more can be imported except at a famine price, and as certainly as day follows night, prices will again rise to 66s. per quarter, when we may receive foreign corn at a duty of 8s. per quarter. Nothing could avert this in the present state of things. One sixteenth of the inhabitants of this country were at present dependent upon foreign corn; so that, with all their protection, the landed interests were not able to feed the people. But the increase of machinery was the cause of the distress. Now what caused that increase? It was, because the manufacturers had to compete with countries where food was cheaper; therefore, they racked their brains to invent new machines to enable them to dispense with human labour. What was the effect of protection to agriculture? Not to stimulate the farmers to produce as much as they could, they said, "A short crop pays as well as a large one." and when the crop was short, they said, "Now we shall have our own price." He was amused with the symptoms of threats held out to the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), that if he acted according to his principles the landed interests would desert him; but let him act on his professed principles and every man of principle on the Opposition benches would support him. The Corn-law was an unjust law. The landowners knew they had the power, and. therefore, maintained it. They talked of the manufacturers over speculating and spending other men's money, but was it fair that the manufacturers should keep their labourers? Hon. Gentlemen opposite talked of the displacement of agricultural labour. Why, it would be better for the manufacturers to pay the amount of the whole of that labour than to have their industry and enterprise fettered by a Corn-law which prevented an extensisn of the boundaries of commerce. Those opposite had the power to make the law, and to determine what should be the protection. Let it be remembered, that a duty of 8s. per quarter is a tax on the people of 20,000,000l. annually. So long as that law continued the people of this country could not fail to see that the legislation from which it emanated was class legislation. The manufacturers wanted no protecting duties, neither did the artisans, to which he hon. Member for Winchester had alluded the other night. Their cry was, "Give us free trade in corn, and we want no protection." The landed interest it was which kept the Ministers in office, and those latter, therefore, whether it was their intention or not, had no power to grant what was so anxiously desired. The people, however, had made up their minds no longer to submit to class legislation. Gentlemen opposite spoke of the displacement of labour, but what was the condition of the agricultural labourer, after having the advantage of protection for twenty-five years? [Hear.] Why, it was a fact, that in Dorsetshire every seventh man of the whole population was a pauper. Lord Mountcashell spoke the truth, when he honestly avowed that the object of the Corn-laws was to keep up the rent of the landlords; and, until a reformation was made in the law, which was enacted with that view, Ministers could not hope for the support of honest men; it was the cause of all the misery, the distress, the degradation, and the crime with which the country was at present afflicted. He (Mr. Brotherton) had stated the distress which so extensively existed, and in two words he would express the remedy, namely, free-trade. When a river over flowed in the ordinary course of nature, when the cause had subsided, it returned again to its accustomed limits; but if barriers were raised up against the stream, those who raised them had no right to complain of a stagnant pool or superabundant accumulation. He was perfectly convinced of the truth of the opinion to which he had given utterance, and he called upon Ministers to follow out the principles which they had themselves sanctioned by a partial adoption.

Mr. Attwood

said, he should regret if the debate closed without his expressing briefly the reasons which would decide his conduct on the occasion of a motion which brought under the consideration of the House that most important question, the present condition of the country. He viewed with those painful feelings common to every man, the distress of the people, and partook of those sentiments of apprehension as to the result which were felt by every sober-minded and considerate person in the country; but if any one circumstance more than another alarmed him, and caused him almost to despair of the country, it was to observe the manner in which this subject had been treated in this House. He heard, neither from those entrusted with the powers of Government on one side of this House. nor from the Benches opposite, where sat the Gentlemen who held recently the powers of Government, any satisfactory or consistent exposition of the causes which had reduced the country to its present state; nor were any measures proposed on either side, of permanent remedy, or even of temporary relief. The course taken by the Members of the Administration who had spoken would be viewed with dissatisfaction by the country. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department had spoken with that power which belonged to him, but his speech had disappointed him, and would disappoint the expectations of the people. In a great part of what he had said, the right hon. Baronet appeared to look on this rather as a question of party politics than one which involved the safety of the country. His anxiety seemed rather to be to ascertain whether this motion was intended to be a trial of party strength, on which was to depend his prospects of a longer or shorter continuance in office. He would do the right hon. Baronet justice. He did not wholly overlook the condition and the interests of the people; and on this topic, to one of the statements of the right hon. Baronet, he desired to advert. The right hon. Baronet had laid before the House statements of the extent in which mortality prevailed; the people were distressed according to his tables, but they did not die; they suffered, but they yet lived. This conclusion the right hon. Gentleman derived from a table of great authority, as he assured the House. Now he must be excused if he withheld his assent, not to the table, but to the conclusions drawn from it, as he should from every statistical table quoted partially, and not laid entire on the Table of the House. He had seen too much of the errors to which tables of this kind led; the right hon. Baronet knew it well, and the House generally distrusted such statements. He had taken the autumn quarter of 1842, had contrasted that with the autumnal quarters of three previous years, and from those drew his conclusions. But the year had other quarters besides the autumnal quarter, and until he saw the mortality of the whole of those years, he withheld his assent to the fact, which he would have been glad to believe—that the present distress of the country was not accompanied by a great augmentation of deaths, by a great diminution of marriages, and legitimate births. But if he was dissatisfied with the course adopted by the right hon. Baronet, he was still more disappointed in what had been said by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. That right, hon. Gentleman told the House that an improvement had taken place in the condition of the country, that there was greater employment for labour, and an improved condition of the labourer, and, amidst that universal cry of distress which arose from every part of the land, the right hon. Gentleman had arrived at this conclusion by an examination of the condition of the Savings banks, He would explain the fallacy which led to this conclusion; but in doing so he apologised to the House for occupying its attention with a matter so trivial, excepting from the importance it derived from the gentleman from whom it emanated. The right hon. Gentleman found that in the quarter ending in January last there were increased deposits in the Savings-banks, as compared with the quarter of January, 1842, and January, 1841. In the Savings-banks of South Lancashire he found that an addition of 20,000l.or thereabouts, had been made. The right hon. Gentleman should have known, and should have told the House, that these deposits in the Lancashire Savings-banks were made by persons who traded in money—that in the general market of money its price had fallen in the periods he referred to in a degree more than one half, whilst these Lancashire banks were enabled by the law to give the very same interest for money now the price had fallen which they gave when the price was double its existing rate. They gave a high price for a cheap commodity. The commodity was taken to them in greater quantities, and the Gentlemen at the head of the trade department in that House, saw in that circumstance something which justified him in inferring a greater employment for labour and an improved condition of the labourer. He would give the right hon. Gentleman another similar instance. It was not in the Savings-banks alone that deposits had increased. They had increased in that great mart of deposit the Bank of England, and to this extent. In the first period taken by the right hon. Gentleman, the Bank deposits were 7,049,000l., in the second period 7,948,000l., and in the last period, viz. January, 1843, 10,467,000l., showing an increase of 3,400,000l. in the deposits of this establishment. He recommended the right hon. Gentleman to inquire of some gentleman connected with the banks, or acquainted with the monied affairs of London, whether this addition evinced an improved demand for labour, and he would be told that it exhibited precisely the reverse; that the accumulation of money in unproductive masses, in banks and Savings-banks, was rather an evidence that no beneficial employment for money could be found in the channels of productive industry, in which channels alone money could give employment to labour, or assist the productive classes. Did not the right hon. Gentleman know that those who had invested in the Savings-banks of South Lancashire did so because they found they were carrying on a losing trade by dealing in money? The investments were no sign of improvement in the country. The joint-stock banks gave to those who deposited with them 3l., 6s. 8d. per cent., and the Government gave the joint-stock banks 4 per cent.; and then the Government bought consols at 95, which would afterwards be sold at 80, whenever the money was demanded, thus losing by the transaction 15 per cent. If a private individual, or even a joint-stock bank were, to take the course pursued by the Government, and had not the exhaustless exchequer of the nation at their backs, it would shortly lead to bankruptcy, yet a Member of her Majesty's Government, the head of the Board of Trade in that House cited the fact of an extraordinary proof of the increased employment of industry and the improved condition of the country. But if he (Mr. Attwood) was little satisfied with what he had heard from his own side of the House, he saw less ground for confidence on the other side and should give to the noble Lord who brought forward this motion neither his confidence nor his vote. He had given no confidence to those hon. Gentlemen when they were in power, and they had none of his approbation now they were out of office; he could have no reliance upon any men who, in times like these, showed eargerness either to obtain or to retain place. The noble mover (Lord Howick) had done what no other Member had attempted; he had assigned a cause for the present distressed condition of the people; and he had prescribed a remedy when no other state doctor had ventured to offer an opinion. The noble Lord had adverted to the various notions promulgated at various times respecting the origin of the existing evils. One of these notions, which he apprehended was now exploded, had been that the change in the currency had produced them. Another was, that they were owing to the new Poor-law. He (Mr. Attwood) agreed with the noble Lord that there was no foundation for this opinion, for the new Poor-law was the creature, not the creator, of the national distress. Again, some considered taxation as the cause of distress; with them the noble Lord did not agree, nor did he (Mr. Attwood.) The country paid but about fifty millions of taxes; there was a time when it paid eighty millions, and with that burthen universal prosperity prevailed; but the noble Lord might have found on high authority, in evidence given before a committee of which he was a Member, by Lord Ashburton, that the burthen of the fifty millions now paid pressed as heavily upon the country as did the former eighty millions; their weight having been virtually increased by those alterations in the currency, of which the noble Lord spoke so lightly, to the full extent of the nominal reduction effected by successive Administrations. Others look to machinery as the root of the national distress. The noble Lord as little agreed with them; but rejecting all these opinions, he proposed a scheme of his own. The noble Lord saw in intense competition the root of all the distress of the country. In every direction he saw the people eagerly contending with each other for employment and subsistence, the disease reached all classes. If foreign Governments wanted British goods ten times the quantity was offered. The professions were infected with the general disease; if a solicitor weary of toil, desired repose, a dozen others scrambled for his place; and the capitalists joined in the strife; if a man wanted money on good security they bid one against another for the investment. Now, he would point out to the noble Lord that this last illustration he had given overthrew totally his whole system. The competition of capitalists to lend money was a new feature. Twelve months back, two or three years back, no such competition was seen. The capitalists shrunk back from advances of money, they required five, six, seven and ten per cent.; but distress had existed so long, as to have assumed a permanent character; it existed before the competition of the capitalists had taken place, and the noble Lord would readily see that a competition could have been no cause of a state of things which took place before its existence. The noble Lord founded his measure of relief on this theory. Since, he said, the distress we have to deal with plainly springs from excessive competition, his remedy was applicable to the evil. But he had forgotten to tell them where this competition itself originated. Was it an increased desire of wealth suddenly seizing all classes, or rather the pressure of severe distress, the want of food, clothing, and the necessaries of life, which drove them to this severe struggle? He might with as much reason have told them that the hunger of the people was the cause of their nakedness that distress had produced distress—as that either was caused by the competition which doubtless existed, but which had arisen out of it. What, then, was his remedy? He found too much labour, too many productions. And then the noble Lord would bring in the labour of the foreigner and his productions, and still further increase competition; and this was the best ground the noble Lord could give for his motion. But what said the noble Lord who sat beside him, the Member for the City of London, to this doctrine of distress arising from competition? The whole foundation of the new policy of the noble Lord, the Member for London, turned on the necessity of stimulating industry by still further competition. What was the meaning of all they heard of class interests, of monopolies, spreading over the land—that monopolies are inert and indo lent—they never exert themselves—they slumber under the upas tree of protection—competition must be excited. He should leave the noble Member for Sunderland in the hands of the noble Lord beside him, and called on that noble Lord to explain to the Member for Sunderland, that if his theory were true, the very foundation of his prospects and policy is taken away. He now called on the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Treasury to answer this part of the speech of the noble Lord. He was an advocate for the stimulating sys tem. What else meant those congregations so much heard of, of German chemists and English farmers, Scotch speculators, and professors of political economy, and he believed of moral philosophy, which the right hon. Baronet had brought together? Surely nothing else but that the farmers were to learn that they had existed hitherto in a state of torpid indolence. That they must be stimulated to more competition—the tariff was brought to act on them—they must learn how to pay high rents whilst they sold at low prices, and thus supply the demands of the Income-tax to the capitalists—and all this by exploring un known powers which existed in the earth. For what else was the advice given to rely on themselves but to meet competition? He hoped that the noble Lord, the Member for London, on the one side, and the right hon. Baronet on the other, would decide what was the canse of distress. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunder land, had challenged any one man to show an instance in which free-trade had been fairly tried and had failed. He submitted to the noble Lord that the whole competition of the country was an instance of the application of free-trade principles and of their utter failure. During the former history of legislation in this country it was founded upon the better basis of protecting native industry. It was in 1815, in the petition presented by the merchants of London, that we first found out the new principle which was now adopted by the right hon. Baronet, that we ought to sell in the dearest and buy in the cheapest market. From that time to this, this principle had been more and more carried out; we had been sacrificing our native industry to competition with foreign countries; and the noble Lord, the Member for Sunder land, might see in the application of free-trade principles the consequence of the competition he advocated. The silk trade was an instance in which free-trade had been applied; it had totally, signally, and painfully failed. He saw before him the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) who, he thought, was convinced of the truth of what he said. Notwithstanding that his hon. Friend, the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Brocklehurst), who was one of the largest silk manufacturers, had last year shown by the most conclusive figures, that this great experiment on the silk trade had failed; and although that speech had received no answer from any person, yet he perceived, that in another House, the noble Lord, the President of the Board of Trade, (the Earl of Ripon) had undertaken to show that the experiment on the silk trade had not failed, and that he would place on the table of the House papers to show that fact. He thought that the noble Lord would not be able to place on the table of the other House any papers which had not been placed on the table of that (the Commons) House, and if this were so, they could show no such fact. The noble Lord might place on the Table papers to show the increase of smuggling; but he called upon the noble Lord, as he did in respect to other matters, when he produced the papers, to show the state of the silk trade since 1826—the period when the measures of Mr. Huskisson came into opera- tion, and this unfortunate trade was de stroyed: to place also upon the Table of the House his own speeches, as well as those of Mr. Huskisson, on proposing these measures. Let the House see the opinions then expressed of the effect. of the proposals. Mr. Huskisson said, that the silk trade had slumbered under the Upas tree of protection, it wanted French competition to give it excitement, and then it would take its place by the side of the cotton trade. One reason why the new measure was proposed was that smuggling was extensive under the old system, and would not be so under the new. Let the anticipations be placed side by side with the results, and he was sure it would be found that no failure in legislation had been more signal or complete. The shipping interest had also been made the subject of these experiments, and he would show the noble Lord with what effect. He would show with what expectations the reciprocity treaties of 1826 were introduced. They were brought forward by Lord Wallace, who stated that he was about to give to the ships of Prussia, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, privileges in British ports which they had not yet received. The owners of English vessels were alarmed. They were told they were wrong: their fears were groundless: the shipowners were always wrong. It was said with confidence, that the shipowners of England would be able to contend against foreign ships, and that no apprehensions were to be entertained. "On his own part Lord Wallace said, he had no doubt upon the subject, and he trusted that in a short time the country would have no doubt too." Mr. Huskisson thought that the English shipowners could maintain their ground; but even if it should prove otherwise, it was an object for a great nation to give larger markets for the produce of Great Britain; and though the shipping interests should suffer, he could not consent to sacrifice the interests of the manufacturers and of the producers of this country, even to that important interest, the shipping. By the last returns, it appeared that navigation between this country and the four countries included in those treaties had greatly increased. The average of the tonnage of ships for the four years preceding 1826, employed in the British and foreign trade between England and these four countries was 291,000 tons; the average for the four last years, of which they had a return, showed an increase to 537,000 tons. The increase had been from 291,000 to 537,000 tons; but what part had England obtained of this increase? The British ships, during the first period, carried 129,000 tons; the foreign ships, 162,000 tons. During the last average, it appeared that the tonnage of foreign shipping had increased from 162,000 tons to 430,000 tons; whilst the tonnage of British ships, instead of increasing in a like proportion, had fallen from 129,000 tons to 106,000 tons. There had been a falling off of 20 per cent. on British shipping employed with these four countries, with which we then entered into reciprocity treaties. He asked the owners of ships, when one-fifth of their employment was taken off, what was their condition? He asked the owners of manufactures—-he asked the owners of land—what they would suffer if the demand for their produce declined one-fifth, what would be the worth of the other four-fifths? If they reduced the demand one-fifth, there would be a total ruin to the other four-fifths. Here was the condition of the shipping interests after the application of the competition; one-fifth had been struck from the British shipping. He would only add that he would not give his vote to the noble Lord, for he could not see any grounds on which he could support the motion of the noble Lord.

Mr. M. Gibson

, although he could not but express his strongest opposition to the doctrines advanced in the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member, yet he must say that the remarks which the hon. Member made in the former part of his address met with his full concurrence. He thought that the remark was perfectly just upon the course taken by hon. Members on the other side of the House in making the form of the present motion a chief topic of discussion. It appeared to him that if ever there were a practical motion if ever there were a motion supported by parliamentary precedent—if ever there were a plain and distinct course of proceeding to be adopted by a Member of that House, it had been adopted upon the pre sent occasion in the mode taken for bringing on this debate. It was an emphatic appeal on the part of the House to the executive Government to come forward at a time of unparalleled distress, and apply some remedy; and the issue of the question was this—that those who voted for it would express an opinion that something ought to be done; whilst those who voted against it would express an opinion that nothing ought to be done. He could not help thinking that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government himself felt that if distress were proved, and that if the existing measures did not afford a a sufficient remedy, it was the incumbent duty of the executive Government to come forward and propose some redress. The noble Lord had been blamed for bringing forward such a motion at a time of great distress; but if they were not to bring forward such motions at such a time, he would like to know when they were to be made. But the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) had felt it incumbent upon the executive Government to show that the distress was not so great as it was represented, as the ground for the non interference of the executive Government. The right hon. Baronet admitted that there was a great deal of distress, but he said there were symptoms showing that an improvement was going on; and in proof of his assertion, he referred to the increase in the deposits of the Savings-banks. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Gladstone) had spoken also of the Savings-banks, and had raid that, among the working men in the manufacturing districts, the deposits in the Savings-banks had increased; that during the late turn out, large sums had been withdrawn from the Savings-banks which had been after wards replaced. But before they quoted the Savings-banks as evidence of improvement, the question was, what was the character of the classes who made these deposits. They ought to ascertain of what class are the depositors. He had the twenty-fifth annual report from the Manchester and Salford Bank for Savings, and Government Annuity Society for the past year, containing a classification of all the trades and occupations of the depositors. Who did this House think these parties were? Instead of being cotton spinners, weavers, and their assistants, silk spinners, weavers, and their assistants, or calico printers, bleachers, and their assistants, they were domestic servants, shopmen, warehousemen, milliners, and persons of that description. They were taught to expect that the artizans received more employment, and by their savings produced the increase; whereas it was proved by the details, that out of 14,937 accounts, there were only 911 cotton spinners' ac counts, 131 silk spinners', and 412 calico printers. The return in detail showed the following results:*

The return shewed that the parties whom, they were told, had been lately in more prosperous circumstances, did not constitute a large class of the depositors. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had adduced other symptoms, to show that the distress was not so great as had been represented; and he began by arguing that it was shown, by the fact, that the value of our exports had not fallen off so much between 1841 and 1842 as they had at a former period, between the years 1836–7 and 1837–8. The falling off in the first period had been 10,000,000., and in the second it had only been 4,000,000l. Let the House, however, observe the unfair ness of this argument. The right hon. Baronet took precisely the year in which the declared value of our exports was the greatest that they had ever been since the peace in 1815; and he compared the falling off between that exaggerated year and the following year with the falling off in the last year from the preceding one, which is a decline from a year of depression. Again, reference had been made to the tables of mortality; but, if the right hon. Baronet had referred, as no doubt he had done, to the sanatory report, he would have found it stated that the tables of mortality could not be brought forward as any proof or disproof of manufacturing distresss; that they could not be quoted as any evidence of manufacturing or mercantile distress. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. M. Attwood) had very properly pointed out the inconvenience to the House, of Ministers of the Crown quoting reports which were not placed upon the Table of the House. No opportunity was given to Members of verifying statements which, being made by persons holding high places, would have a great effect, and, if incorrect, greatly mislead the country. When the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department stood up and talked of the desire of the representatives of the cotton districts to overstate the distress, he added that it was a remarkable fact, that forty-nine new mills were built * See Table in following page. and brought into operation in the year 1842. The inference which the House drew from the statement of the right hon. Baronet, be thought, was this, that if there were 100 cotton mills existing at the close of the year 1841, there were 149 existing at the close of 1842; but when he (Mr. M. Gibson) asked the right hon. Baronet what he meant by the forty-nine new mills, and whether he meant new constructions, he replied that he referred to the old mills standing still in the year 1841, and brought into employment in the year 1842, and that he had used the precise words of Mr. Horner, the inspector of factories. Now he had always observed that when complaints were made of manufacturing distress, Mr. Horner was always brought up in judgment against them. When the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), on a former occasion, quoted Mr. Horner, he thought that the

Description of Depositors. Total number of Accounts opened under each class. No. of Accounts each class remaining open at 29th November, 1842. Average amount due to each individual, 29th November, 1842.
£. s. d.
Domestic servants 8,630 3,063 26 2 5
Clerks, shopmen, warehousemen, porters, and their wives 4,764 1,511 27 7 1
Minors 6,363 3,033 14 17 9
Milliners, dressmakers, and needle-women 1,394 430 25 18 1
Shoemakers, tailors, hatters, and their wives 1,697 309 28 2 2
Cotton-spinners, weavers, and their assistants, and their wives 4,924 911 28 0 6
Silk-spinners, weavers, and their assistants, and their wives 441 131 26 18 11
Calico-printers, bleachers, dyers, packers, makers up, &c, and their wives 1,777 412 31 15 9
Engravers, pattern designers, &c, and their wives. 498 195 27 8 4
Mechanics and handicraftsmen, and their wives 3,621 816 29 2 4
Bookbinders, and letter-press printers, and their wives 196 73 20 13 0
Masons, bricklayers, and their labourers, and their wives. l,617 390 26 18 4
Joiners, coach-makers, and cabinet-makers, and their wives. 2,113 473 32 10 9
Cab and omnibus drivers, mail guards, &c., and their wives 152 41 38 15 1
Policemen, soldiers, and pensioners, and their wives. 304 94 28 4 9
Professional teachers and artists, and their wives 957 323 31 18 6
Tradesmen, and small shop-keepers, and their wives 2,090 538 37 6 2
Farmers, gardeners, and their labourers, and their wives 1,158 350 39 9 8
Other descriptions not particularly specified 6,337 1,844 35 8 3
TOTAL 48,673 14,937 26 13 10

report afterwards produced did not quite bear out the quotation. But let that pass. Upon the present occasion they had Mr. Horner's report; it had been laid on the Table that night, and the House would see whether the words used in that report were calculated to bear the meaning which had been put upon them of new mills built and brought into operation in 1842. [Sir J. Graham did not say that.] He believed it was the impression of the House that the right hon. Baronet did say so, and he did not correct him (Mr. Gibson) last night when he said the right hon. Baronet had stated that forty-nine new mills had been built and brought into operation in 1842. But if he did not so state, let them take it upon the right hon. baronet's own showing. He said that there were forty-nine new mills working in 1842, and he brought that forward as a proof of the increasing prosperity of the cotton districts: and if the fact were as stated, it would bear much against the opinion entertained that the distress was increasing year by year. Now he found that Mr. Horner talked of these forty-nine somethings, which the right hon. Baronet called new mills, and called them forty-nine new concerns; he (Mr. Horner) then referred to schedule D, and there he had an opportunity of explaining his meaning. He found, upon looking to that schedule, that at least thirty-nine out of these forty-nine were changes of tenancy; they were cases of mills taken by new parties coming to the buildings and embarking for the first time in the cotton manufacture, but these fresh parties had succeeded men who had gone out, no doubt, from bankruptcy or from other causes. It was well known that when machinery was much depreciated, many parties took the opportunity of going into the trade, being enabled to embark in it on easy terms. Therefore it was that, although there was great distress in the manufacturing districts, they found parties ready for the first time to embark in the business; out of the forty-nine new mills brought into work by a change of tenancy, it was not impossible that some were not open before the new parties came in; still those new parties, in all probability, succeeded others who had very recently left them from bankruptcy or other causes. But how many new mills had been actually built and brought, into operation in the year 1842? Only one. Of the remaining nine cases of "new mills," one had been built in consequence of the former having been burnt down, and was, perhaps, built by the insurance-office; others were mere additions to old mills; and the others were not completed, and consequently not yet brought into operation. The detail shewed that not more than one new mill had been brought into operation during this year. As they were charged on that (the Opposition) side of the House with exaggerating the distress, it was as well to understand that the statement of the right hon. Baronet, as to the forty-nine new mills, was calculated to mislead the House and the country, and to lead all to a very different view of the state of the cotton districts that to which the right hon. Gentleman intended by the words he had used. When the right hon. Gentleman below him, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Baring), accused the right hon. Baronet of making a "stout speech," he must say that it was not only the stoutest but the boldest statement he had heard in the House, to assume, because certain new tenants, after the loss of the former occupants, had taken a certain number of mills, that parties were crowding into the cotton districts, and he would ask, after reading it, whether when the right hon. Baronet used this report it was right folium to select any figures whatever? Mr. Horner, in his report, thus spoke of the distress:— Up to the end of July trade continued in a state of extreme depression, but, about that time, a partial improvement took place in some branches, and the hopes of the manufacturers began to revive; but I am sorry to say the prospect is again overcast, and, in the cotton trade, in which the greater proportion of the factories are engaged, the demand is so much less than the supply, that prices have fallen back nearly to the lowest point to which they had gone down in most of the leading articles. All the mill-owners of most experience and intelligence with whom I have conversed, including those whom I have all along found, in these bad times, to be the least disposed to take a desponding view, tell me they look forward to a bad winter. The deplorable stale of the trade for a long time past and at present, and the gloomy anticipations as to the future entertained by those best acquainted with it, are unequivocally evinced by the number of large mills that are closed; one of which, the property of gentlemen reputed to be of great wealth, in all the vicissitudes of trade has never before ceased for more than half a century. In my report of the 19th of October, 1831, I stated that the extensive mills at Gorton, near Manchester, which had cost 120,000l., after standing idle for a year had been sold for 36,000l., in June, 1841.

Is that one of the right hon. Gentleman's new mills?— Notwithstanding their having been purceased at so low a price, and that the buyers are persons who are believed to be possessed of great capital, and are of extensive experience as cotton spinners, these mills have not yet been set at work.

Are these the mills which have been brought into operation?

Sir J. Graham

Would the hon. Gentleman allow him to ask whether the report which he had read was that of October or January? Mr. Horner had made two reports, and it was important to consider which of them was alluded to.

Mr. Gibson

It was the October report which he had read [cheers]. Taking it as hon. Gentlemen by their cheers meant to suggest, he had at all events made out his case with reference to the statistics of the right hon. Baronet. He admitted, that he had not read the whole of the report; but he did not understand that the right hon. Baronet denied, that the present state of the cotton districts was that which was described. [Sir J. Graham: I do.] Resting the case, nevertheless, on the statement of the right hon. Baronet, that forty-nine new mills had been opened—and this was an argument completely apart from all consideration of Mr. Horner's opinion—he had a right to make use of the arguments which he had employed, in order to rebut the charge that hon. Members on that side of the House had shown a disposition to exaggerate the prevailing distresses, and that they had alleged a disposition on the part of her Majesty's Government to underrate those distresses. At all events there was nothing so distinctly shown as this simple fact, that the Members of her Majesty's Government ought not to have quoted from any report which had not yet been laid upon the Table of the House, and printed and circulated amongst the Members of that House. But without going into the question of the condition of particular mills, of how many persons were wholly or partially maintained by the parish funds, or of the state of employment of the poor in the neighbourhood of Manchester or elsewhere, what this House had to look at was, the character of our export trade, and he thought that on a question of this description the deterioration in character of our goods exported was a consideration of great importance. He believed, that it would be found, that the quality of the manufactured produce of this country, which was exported had much fallen off, and that where formerly goods had been taken by foreign countries, upon which a consider able amount of British labour had been expended, now those countries abstained from so far encouraging the manufactures of this country, and they took goods which were more of the nature of the raw material than of articles which had undergone the process of manufacture. He stated this from the information supplied to him by a gentleman upon whose veracity and knowledge he believed the fullest reliance might be placed, and he thus described the evils which existed with regard to the export trade of our cotton manufacturers:— 1. A continued deterioration in the character of our exports, viz., more twist or yarn in proportion to woven goods, and this yarn itself going largely in an early stage of warp or cop, ready for the loom, instead of reeled and bundled as formerly, thus saving one English operation, and an additional duty has just been laid on this by the German League, to bring it equal in price to the bundled. 2. A further deterioration in the character of the woven goods exported, viz., a diminution of all kinds but grey calicos, which is only one stage removed from the yarn. 3. Almost cessation in the export of handloom goods, in which Switzerland and Germany beat us at open market in every country. 4. In yarn the whole export shows an increase of 19,000,000 lbs. In goods some diminution of yards, but in value a reduction of 2,500,000, or 14,000,000 in the eleven months, up to December, 1842, (January not yet made up). 5. Out of 350 millions of pounds spun last year, only forty-eight millions, or one-seventh, remains for home consumption and stock. This, he thought, the House would agree with him in thinking was a very important statement—a statement to which hon. Gentlemen opposite, who laid such stress upon the capabilities of the home market for carrying off our manufactures, and for giving full employment of the English labourer, would do well to direct their especial attention. The right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, had told the House of the tariff and of the Corn-law of last year, and he had told the House what was going to be done in reference to the sugar of foreign countries. Look at the Corn-law of last year—was it not passed for the purpose of regulating the corn trade, and had there not been more failures in that trade since the new law had passed than in any corresponding period under the old law? But hopes were held out of a Brazilian treaty; and, in reference to this, he took leave to say there never was submitted to the House a more transparent pretext, than to suggest that any new stipulation was to be made for the suppression of the slave-trade by the Brazils, as a ground on which the Government would reduce the duties on sugar. With reference to the slave-trade, all that treaties could do, was already done. Had not the Brazilian government already rendered the slave-trade piracy by its own laws?—and could the Government of this country the better enforce those treaties, which they had already entered into, be cause they were now to have another treaty as a further guarantee? He thought that the House would agree with him that, resting on this new treaty as a justification for any reduction in the sugar duties, was, as he had already described it, a mere pretext; for the purpose of keeping up a shew of consistency; and that the country would not fail to see through the conduct of her Majesty's present advisers, who, after having usurped the seats on the Treasury Bench, on a suggestion, that the late Government were about to introduce slave-grown sugars into this country, now turned round and adopted the very policy which they had so recently disapproved. He would not dwell longer on this question; but he would only say in reference to the Corn-law, and the tariff, that he did not hear that any of the intelligent mercantile community entertained any hopes, that by those measures any increased trade would be produced. They did not find capital flowing into the channels of trade, or the people brought into employment, though they well knew, that where there were opportunities to dispose of capital to advantage, its owners were too eager to adopt them. Then the hon. Member for Shrews bury (Mr. D'Israeli), who had made a speech of very great ingenuity, had told the House on a former evening that treaties of commerce were to be made with foreign countries, and that increased facilities for our exports to foreign countries would be afforded by those treaties, and that facilities would be given by the reduction of the duties on imports into those countries. But he begged the House to remember what had been said by the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Treasury, on a former occasion; he said,— That whether foreign countries reduce their duties on our exports or not, we will reduce our duties on imports, if it be for the benefit of this country. Having held this out to the world, and then to talk of negotiations, seemed to him to be little less than absurd. It was like making your mind to give a certain sum for an estate, letting it be known that you had made up your mind, and then expecting when you offered to buy it to secure it for a less sum. The right hon. Gentleman had declared, that he would in every case adopt a certain course, whether other countries did certain things or not, and then negotiations were talked of, to obtain something from them for our doing what we intended to do for our own benefit. What had the right hon. Gentleman said as to these foreign treaties? He said, that America and other countries would, in the course of time, find out the fallacy of the protective sys tem, and that then they would give in creased facilities for the exports of foreign countries. This, it appeared then, was to be left to "the course of time," and, in the meantime, the country remained deprived of the anticipated benefits from a reduction of our own import duties which had been spoken of. But if her Majesty's Government had discovered the fallacy of the protective system, why, he asked, did they not act on the principle, the adoption of which by foreign countries they advocated? What was our position in reference to foreign countries? We talked as if we had everything to ask, and nothing to give in return. But was this our position? How was it with regard to Brazil? There was a duty of 20 per cent. upon the importation of our goods into Brazil, and of nearly 400 per cent. upon the importation of their sugar into England. This was the spirit in which we had been acting all along with regard to foreign countries; and it could not be calculated what amount of difficulty was created by the adoption of such a course of dealing. Take the case of America; our laws operated as an absolute prohibition of the trade of the United States in the great articles of their production, and although the United States has been constantly reducing their tariff for the last ten years, up to the time they enacted their last prohibitory tariff, as the Government well knew, yet they had persisted in their sliding scale, and in saying that they did not mean to encourage a direct interchange of goods for corn. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) said, Convince me that America and other foreign countries will take British goods in exchange for their corn, and I will make a surrender of the Corn-laws, but I will not on a speculation—that export will follow import run the risk of displacing the agricultural labourer from his present employment. A "speculation," the right hon. Gentleman said, upon a question which was so obviously plain. Did the Russians, he asked, take our goods directly? Did they take them in exchange for the Russian produce which we imported; and did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say, be cause the Russians did not trade directly with this country, that therefore its consumption of our goods indirectly did not increase our export trade? Did we not take the sugar of Brazils, the tea of China, and the produce of other countries, in exchange for our manufactured goods, and with that sugar pay for the produce of Russia? He would refer the right hon. Gentle man, on this subject, to an authority to which he thought that he would be disposed to pay respect, a relative of his own, bearing his name, who, in a letter published the other day in the Morning Post newspaper, had expressed an opinion on this subject. The Gentleman to whom he alluded fairly admitted, that the inhabitants of the western states of America, whose occupations were wholly agricultural, would gladly give us wheat in exchange for our calicoes. We are told, and I believe truly (said Mr. Gladstone), that the American states lying in the vale of the Mississipi, when a population exceeding 5,000,000, whose occupation is solely agricultural, possessing great advantages from soil and climate, are confined, and their energies cramped by the want of markets for their pro duce, and therefore unable to purchase such manufactures as ours, of which they stand in need; that such is also the situation of certain countries in South America, that lie on the shore of the Pacific, particularly Chili, where wheats are raised of a superior quality at a very moderate expense. These countries are without manufactures; and I am led to believe that they are bond fide well disposed, and desirous to encourage the importation and consuption of ours, provided their only production, corn, could be taken in payment. Now, this was the opinion of Mr. Gladstone senior, which he submitted to the right hon. Gentleman as a high authority, that if American corn was admitted free of duty, he might expect to secure an export of goods to that country. What had the right hon. Gentleman said— Convince me that the export of goods will follow the importation of corn, and I will surrender the Corn-laws. And why? Because he saw that if there was an export of goods, there would be increased trade, and consequently a compensation afforded to the landed interest, for the greater competition which would take place in the home market in the sale of provisions. Therefore it was that he said, that if they could convince him of that simple proposition, which no reasonable man doubled, he was bound to surrender the Corn-laws. When this was asserted he felt that the days of the Corn-laws were numbered. Then as to the uncertainty which hung over the agriculturists. What did the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government say? He said, that there was no proposition which would give the landed interest a better security against future change than that which they now possessed, except the total repeal of the Corn-laws. "For," said the right hon. Baronet, "then the law ceasing to exist, there will be no thing left to change." He would tell the House that the right hon. Baronet was right, for so long as there was a Corn-law, so long would there be Anti Corn-law agitation. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury had candidly stated the principle on which the Corn-laws were maintained. In his observations, there had fallen from him a remark which was greatly cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite, a circumstance which showed that the sentiments once professed by the illustrious Duke in another House still existed—namely, that there was to be preponderance, as he said in favour of the landed interests. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) had said the same on a former occasion; he said that those laws were not maintained from a consideration of trade, or of the home market, or of finance, but with a view of maintaining the landed interests in their present position in the social scale. And even if it were shown that the landowners would be no worse absolutely from a repeal of the Corn-laws, still if they were to be worse relatively—if the manufacturing interests having full scope for the development of their powers, and if by their successful exertions the manufacturers should bid fair to rival or surpass the land owners in wealth and importance, the repeal of these laws could not be allowed. He told the House that the manufacturing and commercial community would not submit to be told that they were to be a secondary class—they would not submit to be told that they should enjoy only so much trade as would suit the views of the landed interests. ["Oh, oh."] Gentlemen cried "oh," but what was meant by the preponderance of the landed interests? Preponderance meant the putting of one class above another. The agriculturists could not maintain their position above the manufacturers by their own energy and enterprise, and they deter mined, therefore, to maintain their own preponderance by depressing the manufacturing community. Would any one tell the House what was meant by the word" preponderance?" It was said that it was the protection of native industry. There was not a man he believed, north of Suffolk or Essex who did not know that corn imported into this country in exchange for manufactured goods was just as much the production of native industry as if it was the growth of our own soil; and he maintained that the manufacturing interests had just as good a right to supply the British market with provisions as the agriculturists. When the statements of the distresses of the people were disputed, when they were told that they overstated the declining condition of trade, he felt that in coining to that House and asking for the repeal of the Corn-laws as a mere matter of indulgence, was to place themselves in an unworthy position. He maintained that it was the agriculturists who had imposed the restraints on trade—it was for them to show the advantage of sustaining those restraints. He knew that he should be told of vested interests; but who had created those vested interests but the agriculturists themselves? Having created them, they now turned round upon the manufacturers and the commercial community, and said, "We would give up these laws, only we have vested interests in them." He maintained that the farmer ought never to have been told that his interests should be peculiarly protected; and that now that the day of retribution was at hand, it was on the shoulders of the agriculturists themselves that the full weight of the responsibilty should rest. They had heard much of the agricultural labourer; but it was a remarkable fact, that on looking at the inquiries which had taken place into agricultural distress, it was found that just at such periods, the labourers were the best off. During the very last inquiry, it was shown, that though many farmers were then pinched and straightened, and were in a state of bankruptcy, the labouring classes were never in a better condition. The landowners and the Corn- law advocates, had never shown that the agricultural labourer had any interest in the maintenance and continuation of these laws. Committees of that House had proved the contrary, and when he was told that the Corn-laws were retained for the defence of the agricultural labourer, he referred them to their own inquiries, where they had had ample means and opportunities of establishing this proposition, if it were capable of being established, but where they had totally failed in showing that such was the fact. But, supposing their representation to be true, why should the interests of the manufacturer be sacrificed for the purpose of giving employment to a certain number of agricultural labourers? He did not know on what principle one was to be sacrificed to the other, or why the manufacturer should be sacrificed in preference to the agriculturist. The great absurdity was this—that a barrier was put against the employment of labour, in a field which was expensive, and might be extended by reason of a foreign trade, and that employment was restricted to a field which, by its very nature, was of limited extent. There had been a statement made which he thought hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were bound to rebut with the utmost indignation. It had been insinuated that the Members of the Anti-Corn-law League had by the violence of their speeches, and by the insinuations which they had thrown out at public meetings, induced men to commit unlawful acts. Now he was prepared to say, that if there had been at any of the meetings of the Anti-Corn-law League any remarks that could be for one moment supposed to allude to the commission of such acts as had been alluded to, he said at once that there were no men in this country more likely than the persons who were in the habit of attending those meetings to denounce with indignation the propounder of such suggestions. He denied that the speeches which had been delivered possessed the character ascribed to them. But it was said, that those meetings had been the original cause of the disturbances which had taken place. If that were so, why did not the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who had sent a commissioner to inquire into the origin of the disturbances, lay the report of that commissioner on the Table of the House.

Sir J. Graham

I did not send a com- missioner, there was no such report as the hon. Member alludes to.

Mr. Gibson

The Solicitor of the Home Office had sent Mr. Gregory into the manufacturing districts; and he had gone in two capacities:—one, professionally to assist in the legal proceedings against certain persons in custody, the other of a confidential nature. What could have been the second object of Mr. Gregory's exertions? He was sent down at the precise time of the disturbances; he had some duty of a confidential nature to perform, and, considering that he was the solicitor of the Home-office, was it any great tax on the belief of the country to suppose that he had had instructions to inquire into the origin of the disturbances which had arisen, and that, having nothing to say on the subject that was satisfactory to the Members of her Majesty's Government, it had been thought right that he should hold his tongue? That was the fair construction to be put on his mission and his silence. But he would ask hon. Gentle men to apply their minds to the denial of the Anti-Corn-law League, that they had had any thing to do with the late disturbances. The Anti Corn-law League was composed for the most part of manufacturers;—of men who employed nearly two-thirds of the population of parts of Lancashire, and to whom the country was in debted, not for having instructed the people to break the peace, but for having opposed all measures of disturbance, and he asked whether men whose property was most exposed to destruction and waste were likely to commit acts the tendency of which was the creation of disturbances and a contempt for the law? Was there any property so exposed to the operations of a lawless mob as that of the manufacturers? and would not their own interests induce them, above all others, to prevent a breach of the peace? There was a much more plausible argument for accusing the opposite party of that which they laid to the charge of the League. He did not make assertions without being ready to substantiate them. He believed that the disturbances had originated in the reduction of wages; and the first reduction of wages had been made by Conservative firms, and not by firms belonging to members of the Anti-Corn-law League. He did not throw out this as a charge against those persons, because there was nothing which he so much deprecated as the doctrine of teach- ing the people that their masters could give them any amount of wages they pleased; and that, in fact, to reduce the amount of wages was to rob the artizan of the fair reward of his labour. There were no doctrines better calculated to bring about disturbances than these; The Conservatives began the reduction of wages because trade had declined and their profits had diminished; indeed, he believed the cotton trade never was in a worse condition. But what did the Conservatives say in the speeches they made in various places? and, above all, what did they say in their organs of the press? Both by speech and writing they tried to excite the labouring classes against their masters. ["No, no."] But he said yes, and he would prove his assertion. He would read one or two extracts which appeared, before and after the disturbances, in the Standard newspaper, which was acknowledged to be the organ of her Majesty's Government. [" No, no."] Then, at any rate, it was the organ of the Conservative party. He said this without hesitation, because he knew that at any rate newspaper editors did not write articles which were not congenial to their readers. He did not make the charge against Gentlemen opposite, and should not have said a word about the matter if hon. Members had not got up in that House, and imputed to the members of the Anti-Corn law League acts little short of murder. Would the Gentlemen belonging to the Anti Corn-law League silently submit to be charged in this way? He felt bound to rebut such accusations, when brought against himself and his Friends. The charge was unsparingly made that the Anti Corn-law League were doing all in their power to work the labouring classes into a state of rebellion, and accused the Members of that body of making speeches which almost led to the commission of acts of murder. Let the House then see what the Standard newspaper said on the subject of the treatment of the labouring Glasses by the manufacturers. The Standard newspaper, previously to the breaking out of the disturbances, said, Any appeal to justice, to humanity, is utterly out of the question. The die is, therefore cast, that the wages of the labourer are to be measured by the power of purchasing what will barely support life, including the contingency of premature discussion. This, be it recollected, was particularly addressed to the labouring classes in the manufacturing districts and just before the disturbances. Again, about the period of the disturbances, it was stated in the same newspaper; There is no real excess of labour, though you, the mill-owners make an artificial excess of your own profit; you violate the order of nature by working women and children in riyalship with men one year, with the certainty of abandoning all, men, women, and children, the next year to famine. Again, a few days afterwards it says:— When before have English men, English women, English infants, had to work under the cudgel and thong for more than ten hours a day. He found also, in an article of the same newspaper, about the same time the following passage;— As a mere matter of policy, therefore, the course which has been pursued by the manufacturing capitalists has been most injudicious, putting altogether aside the consideration of reciprocal moral duties or Christian feeling for the poor or oppressed. The impression continues uniform that the misguided persons that have been or may be guilty of excesses during the excitement of the strikes should be as leniently dealt with as is consistent with the supremacy of the law. He did not deny that these persons should be leniently dealt with; but were not the opinions which he had just read equivalent to teaching the labouring classes the pernicious doctrine that masters could keep up the rate of wages to the labouring classes as they pleased, and that to re duce wages was nothing more nor less than to rob the labouring classes. He would ask, could anything tend more to excite the people in the manufacturing districts against their masters than the utterance of such sentiments as these. He would read one more passage from the Standard, which was written after the disturbance had subsided. A longer continuance of the turn-out, how ever, must exhaust the Savings-banks deposits, and reduce the labouring manufacturers to utter destitution—a circumstance of which the mill-owners will know how to take advantage in the next adjustment of wages. The expression of feeling among the manufacturing labourers has gone already as far as it can be useful, and in many instances something too far. The attention of the Legislature must be directed to the subject next Session, and doubtless a good factory-law and a greatly amended Poor-law will be the result. Let the manufacturing labourers look patiently for these benefits. Any further active proceedings can only injure themselves. Gentlemen opposite then chose to indulge in charges which they could not justify, and they refused to hear the de fence. But did not the extract which he had just read look very like a suggestion to the labouring people to act against machinery. He would ask the right hon. Baronet who sat opposite whether he was not aware that mills had been burnt and machinery had been destroyed in the manufacturing districts in the presence of the police, the magistracy, and country gentlemen, and not one hand was held up to protect this property. [Cries of "Where."] Why, in the manufacturing districts; and he was sure the right hon. Baronet could confirm his statement, if he were appealed to. He could produce evidence to show where mills had been destroyed under such circumstances. He felt that he had already trespassed on the attention of the House long enough, but, before he sat down, he would call upon her Majesty's Government to pause and reflect on the great difficulties in which the country was placed. Her Majesty's Ministers had not brought forward any remedy for the removal of the distress of the country, and by their refusal to assent to the present motion, they showed them selves indisposed to take the distressed state of the country into their consideration. The position of the country was not in the least degree altered, nor would the existing distress be lessened by the sound principles propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade. The House had been told that the principles of free-trade were sound, and that on the continuance of our foreign trade the very existence of the labouring classes depended, and that the agricultural classes would be ruined by the cessation of our foreign trade. Gentlemen opposite had been told that by the adoption of the principles of free-trade, they would maintain, the same position which they now held—their condition would not be deteriorated, and they would have as large a rent-roll as they had at present. They were not told so by him, for he could have no weight with them, but by the right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, who said that by extending the foreign trade of the country, they would increase its prosperity and add to the value of land, and that by continuing the present system they were endangering, not only their own best interests, and those of other classes, but also the existence of the institutions of the country, and of the maintenance of law and order. He had no hesitation in telling Gentlemen opposite that by maintaining injustice, they were the parties who could bring about disorder, and those who exposed and repelled injustice would save the country. The Anti Corn-law League had only done its duty, and would continue to do its duty. It would be much better for Gentlemen opposite at once to surrender their injustice while there yet remained a chance of saving a portion of the export trade of the country, instead of postponing redress until it would no longer be possible to save our trade and retain for the country that commercial superiority which had made her eminent amongst the nations of the world.

Lord F. Egerton

, said at that late hour of the night he should endeavour to compress into the smallest possible space any observations he might deem it his duty to make. He was satisfied, whatever the object of the noble Lord might be in bringing forward this motion—for there had been some dispute and difference of opinion as to that object—that the noble Lord himself would be the last to take advantage of his motion, and impute to any Gentleman who differed from him on that (the Conservative) side of the House that that difference arose from want of sympathy for the prevailing distress, which all acknowledged and lamented. They had been told, indeed, and by those who, he thought, had stamped this motion with a very party character, that they were supporting a Government which had deranged every thing and supported nothing. He thought that reproach came not with a good grace from those of the late Government who, whatever might have been the character of their policy, it must be admitted (he did not presume to say from want of ability or public virtue), had left such an account to be settled as it was rather hard to expect, after their having been ten years in office, that their successors, be they whom they might—the angel Gabriel, Sir Robert Peel, or any other being, should settle. With regard to one part of the speech of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, with regard to our transactions with foreign nations, he (Lord F. Egerton) had been under the impression, that certain articles were exempted from the tariff by her Majesty's Government for the purpose of becoming the subject of negotiation with foreign powers. If wrong, he was liable to be set right. But when the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer said, "You have deranged every thing and settled nothing," he presumed, of course, that that right hon. Gentleman meant as a deduction from his argument that this motion was at once to settle that which now remained, as was said, unsettled. He would ask the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he were to return to ornament the Treasury bench, if he would give that answer? Would not the motion of the noble Lord be supported that night by the representatives of a body of men who were associated to no other purpose than to lead the public to this conclusion,—that nearly all the evils under which the country was groaning were deducible from legislation for the agricultural interests? That was admitted. They (the representatives of the Anti-Corn-law League) said the only remedy for the distress was by the removal of agricultural protection. This was a point on which he humbly presumed to differ from the organs of that body. He acknowledged with pain and sorrow that the distress was great—that the greater or less amount of it was not worth dispute—that it was great enough to demand all their sympathy. If he thought by conceding to the motion of the noble Lord he could advance one day or one hour the relief of that distress, he would not oppose it, but would vote for it with as much zeal and readiness as he now opposed it. It seemed to him that some little imprudence of language had been used. He found that he and others stood charged with having promoted the offences of which he was partly an eye witness last summer: and he was told that that insurrection in the manufacturing districts began with the reduction of wages by Conservative mill-owners. He had not seen any report furnished to the Government of the particular transactions of that unfortunate period, but he certainly had heard it universally reported that the origin of that outbreak was the reduction of wages by a certain Mr. Bailey, and that that gentleman was a leading and active member of the Anti-Corn-law League. He did not himself bring for- ward the charge against Mr. Bailey, or against the Anti-Corn-law League of having originated these disturbances; he was perfectly aware that that body contained, as did most large associations, many gentlemen of great private worth, great property, and considerable ability—many gentlemen whom he should respect if he had the honour of their acquaintance; but when he was, told that it was impossible for a body of men acting together, stimulated by public meetings on a subject on which extreme excitement prevailed, to make speeches and to perform acts which might lead directly or indirectly to such effects as he thought had followed, it was disproved. There had been no country at any time where the population had been suddenly roused without much previous irritation, into cutting one another's throats. He knew as well as the hon. Member that machinery was in as great danger from these outbreaks as any other species of property. He must say, however, that many gentlemen who were owners of machinery, and who cried out against a standing army or armed bodies of volunteers, were glad to avail themselves of the aid of that force. He had known gentlemen who formerly had a horror of the sight of a red yeomanry coat most clamorous for the distant appearance of scarlet as a beacon of safety. He had known those men the loudest against the services of the yeomanry positively step forward to keep the yeomanry in their own town, for their own protection, against the positive orders of the Commander-in-Chief. These were lessons taught by experience. It was impossible to argue, a priori, that the Mayor of Bolton would so far overcome his former horror of yeomanry as to wish for their presence. He thought it would be very ill judged to give further publicity to the speeches of the Anti-Corn-law League by quoting them there. He had no doubt the parties who made them were ashamed of them since. But they were often told that it was a very just reproach upon many gentlemen who took an interest in such debates as these, that they talked a great deal without proposing any practical remedy. Now he had a remedy to propose—a partial, a slight, a temporary one, one to which he attached no weight, but one which he sincerely thought would not be without its effect. He thought that the period of the distress, if it were to happen at all by any measure, would be rather by the voluntary dissolution of the Anti-Corn-law League. He left it to her Majesty's Government in all such cases to consider whether any active measures should be taken against the proceedings of that body or not; but he retained his opinions that a graceful and voluntary act of dissolution on the part of the Anti-Corn-law League would be the most likely measure to put a period to the distress. He did not give this in the nature of advice, because he thought his advice would not be followed; but he stated it as his deliberate opinion. He would tell them why. In these times of railroad travelling the public carriage was a place in which much information might be gathered by those who kept their eyes and ears open; and this he experienced the other day, when he found himself the travelling companion of two gentlemen who conversed most unreservedly together about their own affairs; but the relation of what they said would be no breach of confidence. They were both, it appeared, largely concerned in the cotton trade, and they had just been to Liverpool to learn the prices of goods and the state of business there, and they were agreed upon one point—namely, that trade had revived to a certain extent, and that the subsequent depression was to be attributed to an article which had appeared in the Manchester Guardian newspaper, announcing the proceedings and intentions of the Anti-Corn Law League. He must guard himself, however, from being accused of attacking the editor of that paper, which, as far as he had observed, had pursued a very sensible course with regard to the Anti-Corn-law League. One of his companions in the railway carriage told the other that only a short time before an order for 20,000l. worth of goods had been recalled, in consequence of that article. And yet the article did not seem to have been composed in that kind of language which the gentlemen belonging to the Anti-Corn-law League had indulged in usque ad nauseam. The two travellers were not rabid supporters of free-trade, nor were they determined friends of his right hon. Friend at the head of her Majesty's Government, One of those gentlemen praised the abilities of his right hon. Friend, but he was sorry to inform him, that the gentleman was in favour of a fixed duty on corn. [Cheers.] He would take the liberty of informing those hon. Gentlemen who cheered him, that the gentleman put his fixed duty as high as 12s. He thought he was fully entitled to say, respecting the League, that the operations of that body had had effects which very many of them sincerely regretted, and which at the same time had had an effect obviously opposed to their interest. With respect to the question of the distress of the country, he must, before he sat down, say, that he believed there was one point respecting it which had frequently been overlooked. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House had attributed that distress entirely, or almost entirely, to the existence and continuance of the legislative protection to corn. He (Lord F. Egerton) thought this opinion had been much over-stated; he was far more disposed to attribute its origin to circumstances which were only so far more satisfactory, as they did not involve censure and blame on man, or men, or systems, which the contrary theory supposed. He was inclined to believe that the remedy—that the cause of the existing distress—was far more difficult to deal with than was imagined. He considered that the origin of it was not in the protection to agriculture, but in the fortuitous protection, in the unnatural stimulus given at a former period to our manufactures. He considered that this protection had been afforded in a shape which had originated in circumstances in which they (the Parliament) were but the blind and passive agents. He believed that it was our peculiar and insular position which gave us security, at a time when danger, and bloodshed, and ruin were devastating the rest of the world, which had also given us that unnatural stimulus which we were not entitled to have, which we ought not to have had, and of which we still continued to feel the effects. It was the development and the result of this factitious state of things that had much more to do with the distress of the country, than those who railed at agricultural protection, and at the agriculturists them selves, were willing to admit; and on this part of the subject, he thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken in a tone and manner not calculated to conciliate those who differed from him on the matter. The hon. Member wished to ascertain who they were that were responsible for these vested interests. For his (Lord F. Egerton's) own part, when the question was as to a large portion of the community suffering distress, from whatever circumstances, he cared not who was answerable, nor under what political circumstances, he did not feel that he should be justified in exhibiting indifference, or in avoiding the question, merely because Members of the House, or their fathers, or their grandfathers, might be said to have had something to do with its origin. But he had expressed his opinion as to the real origin of this distress. It might, indeed, be said, that British industry had risen and flourished, not in the sunshine of heaven, but "wrapt in whirlwinds and begirt with storms," as when the fury of the tempest swept over the rest of Europe from Gibraltar to St. Petersburgh, and, while it carried destruction and desolation in its train, left this country unscathed. But what conclusion was he to draw from that? The conclusion was, however paradoxical it might seem, that peace was a proximate cause of the distress which had come upon us, removing as it did, to a certain extent, the peculiar advantages which our insular position and other circumstances had given us, when war raged elsewhere. Did he say, then, that the renewal of war was the remedy to which we should apply? God forbid! And he considered that the country was especially indebted to the present Government for having closed the temple of Janus; for having put an end to the horrors of war in the East. The suggestion he had thrown out would lead to the conclusion, that in dealing with this subject men should treat the actions and motives of other men with more charity than had been manifested in this debate, reflecting that the results so to be deplored might be attributable to circumstances over which no human prudence or foresight could have control; and that, in arraigning the projectors and supporters of a particular law as the cause of the distress, they might, perhaps, be, in reality, arraigning the men who had stood forward so gloriously in the defence of their country; they might be arraigning a Nelson or a Wellington; nay, they might even be arraigning Supreme Providence itself. It was observable, that some symptoms had exhibited themselves, which tended to show that Gentlemen who looked deeper into these subjects than he and the generality of men did, had of late turned their attention to them in a way which had considerably modified their opinions on them. An extract had been read from the recent work of Mr. M'Culloch, and which it was not necessary for him again to read; he would only observe, that he thought this extract must have startled some of the acolytes of that gentleman's former school. If he could translate that passage right, it meant neither more nor less than this, that if superhuman sagacity had governed this country, at the period when steam-power was in its infancy, it might have possibly considered it not unwise to tax steam-power in this country. He did not agree in this; and it appeared to him that as to any suggestion for taxing steam-power at the present time, it would be mere insanity; but, certainly, that which had been quoted showed that there was not so much difference now between Mr. M'Culloch, and those Gentlemen who had been so much abused by some of Mr. M'Culloch's former disciples.

Mr. Cobden

We have heard much objection made to the form of the motion; we have heard it charged as being a party motion. Now, Sir, I can at all events say, it is not a party motion as far as I am concerned; I was absent from town when it was put on the books. I am no party man in this matter, at all events; and if I have any objection to the motion it is this, that whereas it is a motion to inquire into the manufacturing distress of the country, it should have been a motion to inquire into manufacturing and agricultural distress. If the motion had been so framed, we should not have had the words manufactures and agriculture bandied between the two sides of the House, but we should have had the Gentlemen on the other side of the House put in their proper position as defendants, to justify the operation of the law as it affects their own immediate interests. I ask you, are the agricultural districts of the country in such a state now, that you are entitled to say that this law—for this has been made a Corn-law debate—that this law, which injures the manufacturers, has benefited the agriculturists? There is the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, one of the most clamorous assailants of the Anti-Corn-law League, he will probably speak on this question—there is plenty of time—the debate may be adjourned if necessary—and when he speaks he can answer me, and correct me if I am wrong. Take the district of Dorsetshire, which the hon. Gentleman represents. Take his own property. I ask him, are the labourers on his estates receiving more than the miserable pittance of 8s a-week at this moment? I ask him to disprove me if he can, when I state that the labourers in his neighbourhood are the worst paid, the worst clad, and the most illiterate portion of the population of this country. I tell him that the peasantry on his own estates, earning these 8s. a-week, if their families average the usual number of five, that then the head of each of these families is sustained at less cost than the cost of the maintenance of each person in the county gaol of Dorsetshire, and I ask you—you with your peasantry at your own doors, living worse than paupers and felons—I ask you, are you entitled to assert, and will you maintain, that the present state of things is for the benefit of the agriculturists? I put you on your defence—I call on you to prove the benefit which this law confers on the agriculturists. Mind, I do not call you agriculturists, the landlords are not agriculturists; that is an abuse of terms which has been too long tolerated. The agriculturists are they who cultivate the land, who work at it either with their hands or their heads, and employ their capital on it; you are the owners of the land, who may be living at Lon don or Paris: to call yourselves agriculturists, is just as absurd as if shipowners were to call themselves sailors. I deal with the agriculturists, and not with the landowners—not with the rent owners; and I tell you that you cannot show me that the labouring classes on farms are as well off as the much deplored manufacturing population. I myself employ a number of men; my concern is in the country like your own. I have a number of labourers like yours, unskilled labourers, as unskilled as your own. I employ them in washing, cleansing, wheeling, and preparing materials, and I pay them 12s. a-week; but I have no protection. Take Devonshire, Sussex, Wiltshire, Oxford shire, and other agricultural counties, which send up their squires to this House to support this odious system, and any of these counties will shew you a larger ratio of paupers than the manufacturing districts. Take Dorset; there has just been laid on the Table of the House a return of the population and revenue, and here we find, that in the year 1840, the very year in which we were blessed with wheat at 66s. a quarter, one out of every seven of the population in Dorsetshire was a pauper; and if we go to Sussex and the rest of the counties which send representatives to support this system for the benefit of the agriculturists, there we shall invariably find the largest amount of pauperism. I will turn to the farmers. The hon. Gentleman, and other hon. Gentlemen, are pleased to designate me as the arch enemy of the farmers. Sir, I have as good a right as any hon. Gentleman in this House to identify myself with the order of farmers. I am a farmer's son. The hon. Member for Sussex has been speaking to you as the farmer's friend; I am the son of a Sussex farmer; my ancestors were all yeomen of the class who have been suffering under this system; my family suffered under it, and I have, therefore, as good or a better right than any of you to stand up as the farmer's friend, and to represent his wrongs in this House. Now I ask you, what benefits have the farmers had from this protection of which you speak so much? I put you on your defence, and I again call on you to show how the farmers can possibly derive higher profits from your law to enhance the price of the produce of the soil of this law? You must answer this question; this has not been shown yet at any of your agricultural meetings, where you tell the farmers that you must sink or swim together and that you both row in the same boat. But the time is coming, and on the next quarter day you will be called upon to show the farmers—upon whom some little enlightenment is now creeping—to show how he has hitherto gained, or can gain, any benefit from this legislation. You will have to answer this question from intelligent farmers. If there be more farmers than farms, then will not the competition amongst us for your farms raise the rent of the land? and will there not be a proportionate value of the pro duce to whatever value you may give it in your acts of Parliament. The same intelligent farmer may tell you, If there were more farms than farmers, and if you raised the value of your produce, you would be bidding against each other for farmers, and then I could understand how the farmers could get some benefit in the shape of extra profit, for you would be compelled to pay him better for cultivating your farms. Now, all this has been made as clear as noonday. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire, has maligned the Anti-Corn-law League as an association for disseminating not useful but disagreeable knowledge. Every farmer in Dorsetshire has had a packet. Every county voter of Dorset shire has received a little packet containing about a dozen little tracts. This has not been left to casual distribution; it has not been intrusted to the Post-office; but special agents have gone from door to door, climbing the mountains and penetrating the valleys—there is not a free holder in the country who does not know as much about the matter as we ourselves. Do you think we shall hear next year, at the agricultural meeting at Blandford, the hon. Member for Dorsetshire telling his hearers that "the Corn-law is the sun of our social system, that it gilds the spire of the church, the dome of the palace, and the thatch of the cottage?" There will be some black sheep, who will shout out, "and the chimney of the landlord." We have had during this debate a great deal of criminatory language cast at this body. Far be it from me to enter into such extraneous matter as the objects or proceedings of that body. I shall not think it necessary to answer the very amusing gossip in a stage-coach which has been related to us. But attacks have been made upon this body at other times, The right hon. Baronet made a dark insinuation against it at the close of last Session, when there was no one to answer it; and we have had the cry raised since, that the Anti-Corn-law League is an incendiary and revolutionary body. We took no pains to refute that charge. How have the public treated your accusations? The shrewd and sagacious people of England and Scotland have given bail for the morality and good conduct of the maligned body in the amount of 50,000l., and let the same slander go forth another year, and I am sure that the people will then enter into recognizances for the same body to the extent of l00,000l. No, it is not necessary that I should enter into the defence of such a body. There has been an attempt, an alleged attempt, made to identify the members of this body with a most odious—a most horrible—I might, say, a most maniacal transaction which has lately occurred. An attempt has been made in another place—reported to have been made—to suggest that the proceed- ings of the League were to be connected with that horrible transaction. I do not—I cannot—believe that this report is a correct one; I cannot believe that either the language, or the spirit of the remarks attributed to an eminent and learned Lord are founded on anything that really took place. If it did take place, I can only at tribute it to the ebullition of an ill-regulated intellect, not to a malicious spirit. This trick of charging the consequence of injustice upon the victims of injustice, is as old as injustice itself. Who does not remember that, when this infamous law was enacted in 1815, Mr. Baring, now Lord Ashburton, was charged, in this House, by one of the Ministers of the day, with having caused all the riots, murders, and bloodshed which ensued in the metropolis, merely because he had been one of the most pertinacious opponents of the law, denounced it in the House as a mere scheme to raise rents at the expense of the commercial classes, and the welfare of the community. Sir, if there be anything which can add to the gratification I feel at having taken an active part in this body, it is, the high character of those with whom I have been associated. [Oh, oh!] Yes, tested by their utility, tested by their public character and private worth, they might justly be compared to the Members of that House or of another more illustrious assembly. But enough of this subject. I will now turn my attention to the question before the House. Last Session, the Anti-Corn-law party put the question, what was to be done for the country? That is the question I now put. I say to the Government—I say to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, what do you now think of the condition of our trade, and the condition of the country? I gather, from what has fallen from hon. Members on the other side, that this motion is to be resisted. The motion is to be resisted, but what are the reasons for resisting it? How is the question met by the Government? It is alleged that there is a great discrepancy of opinion on this side of the House. I admit it. There is such a discrepancy between some Gentlemen on this side and myself, between the noble Lord, the Member for North Lincolnshire and myself, there is as great a difference of opinion as between me and the Gentlemen on the other side. The party on their side is as the hon. Gentleman opposite described, it is broken into atoms, and may never be re-united. But does that diminish the responsibility of the Government, which is strong in proportion as the Opposition is weak. Are we never to escape from this mode of evading responsibility, this bandying of accusations about Whigs, Tories, and Radicals, and their differences of opinion. Is that cry always to be repeated and relied on? How long, I ask, is this course to be continued? How long is the argument to be used. If it be continued, what defence will that be for the Government? There always have been differences of opinion on both sides of the House, but that can be no excuse for the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, who took the reins of power into his hands on the avowed responsibility of bringing forward measures to meet the exigencies of the moment. But there is not one measure of importance adopted by the Government which has not been taken out of the school of the free-traders. The Colleagues of the right hon. Baronet who have spoken on this occasion, have introduced the Corn-laws into this debate, and have discussed that subject in connection with the pre sent distress. But what says the right hon. Member the Vice-President of the Board of Trade? Why, he says, that there are not two opinions on the subject of free-trade. What says the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government Why, he says, that on this point we are all agreed. And the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of the Home Department, says that the principles of free-trade are the principles of common sense. And last night, to my amazement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, there are not two opinions on the subject, and there never was any dispute about it. The noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, who has not yet spoken, will, I believe, justify by his vote the same principles. Again, the right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster of the Forces must adopt the same course. That right hon. Gentleman and that noble Lord, may not have avowed free-trade principles, but they must, as men of morality carry those principles into effect, for both of them have averred that the Corn-laws raise rent. The right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster of the Forces has expressly declared in this House, that the Corn-laws were passed to maintain country gentlemen in their station in the country. The noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire has said that the Corn-laws raise the price of food, and that they do not raise wages; the noble Lord, therefore, says that the landed gentlemen increase their rents at the expense of the profits of the middle classes. They must carry their principle into their conduct. Now, taking the four Members of the Cabinet who have avowed free-trade principles, and assuming that the two others by their addresses must be favourable to them, I ask why do they not carry their principles into effect? How am I met? The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade admits the justice of the principles of free trade. He says that he does not want monopoly, but then he applies these just principles only in the abstract. Now I do not want abstractions. Every moment that we pass here, which is not devoted to providing for the welfare of the community, is lost time. [Cheers.] I tell the hon. Member that I am a practical man. I am not an abstract Member, and I ask what we have here to do with abstractions? The right hon. Gentleman is a free-trader only in the abstract. We have nothing, I repeat, to do with abstractions here. The right hon. Gentleman used another plea. He said that the system has been continued for centuries and cannot now be abandoned. If the Attorney-general be in the House, and I hope he is, what would he say to such a plea in an action of trover? Would he admit the plea? Would he say, "I know that you have right and justice on your side in the abstract, but then the unjust possession has been for so long a time continued that it cannot be at once abandoned?" What would be the verdict in such a case? The verdict would not be an abstract verdict but one of restitution, of total and immediate restitution. The right hon. Gentleman has made the admission that these principles must be carried out, and he says that the Corn-laws are temporary. I ask why the Corn-laws are temporary? Just laws are not temporary. It is the essence of just laws to be eternal. You have laws on your statute-book against murder and robbery, and no man says they should not be continued. Why, then, are the Corn-laws to be temporary? Because the Corn-laws are unjust. Because they are neither right nor expedient. They were passed to give a benefit to the country gentlemen, and raise them in society at the expense of the rest of the community. The hon. Member for Bridport made to night a declaration against the Anti-Corn-law League, but he pronounced it with such gentle accents, he put so much sweet ness into his denunciation, that he deprived it of its effect. That hon. Member is a young man, and perhaps is not aware of the force of what he said. But that hon. Gentleman, too, made an admission which will not sustain your system. The hon. Member said, that if the Corn-laws were repealed, the aristocracy would be forced to reduce their rents, and could not live as an aristocracy. The Gentlemen who make those admissions are the real incendiaries, the real revolutionists, and the real destroyers of the aristocracy. I must put the honest part of the aristocracy on their guard against them, and must tell them not to allow themselves to be included with those who fear destruction from the repeal of the Corn-laws They must know that an aristocracy cannot maintain its station on wealth moistened with the orphans' and the widows' tears, and taken from the crust of the peasant. The question has been brought before the country, and the decision must be adverse to them. The people are well aware of their conduct. They may talk about an increase of one or two mills, or of the increase of joint-stock banks, but I call attention to the condition of the country, and I ask you if it is not worse now than it was six months ago? It has been going on from bad to worse. And what is the remedy you propose? What are the proceedings by which you propose to give relief to the country? Is it an abstraction? You cannot say that we are at the close of the Session; or that you are overloaded with public and private business. Never before were there so few measures of importance under the consideration of Parliament at such a period. Have you devised some plan then, of giving relief to the country? If you have not, I tell you emphatically, that you are violating your duty to your country, you are neglecting your duty to your Sovereign if you continue to hold office one moment after you can find no remedy for the national distress. The right hon. Gentleman, however, proposes nothing. The measures which he has brought forward since he has held office have not remedied the distress of the country. It may be said of me, that I am a prophet who fulfils his own prophecy, but I tell you your proceedings will lead from bad to worse, that more confusion will come, there are germs of it sown in the north of England. ["Hear."] Yes, not in the cotton district. The danger which menaces you will come from the agricultural districts, for the next time there is any outbreak, the destitute hands of the agricultural districts will be added to the destitute hands of the manufacturing districts. Does the right hon. Gentleman, who must know the state of the country, doubt whether this be the fact? I receive correspondence from every part of the country—but what is my correspondence to his?—and he must know, that what I say is the fact. It is time, then, to give up bandying the terms Whig and Tory about from one side of the House to the other, and engage in a serious inquiry into the present condition of the country. The right hon. Baronet cannot conceal from himself what is that condition: capital is melting away, pauperism is increasing, trade and manufactures are not reviving. What worse description can be given of our condition?—and what can be expected if such a state of things continue but the disruption and dissolution of the State? When the agitation was begun for the repeal of the Corn-laws, four years ago, the right hon. Baronet met our complaints by entering into many details, showing that our commerce was increasing, that the Savings-banks were prospering, that the revenue was improving, and that consumption was augmenting. When a deputation of manufacturers waited upon him to represent the hopeless state of trade, he refused to listen to their representations, or he met them with details of an extraordinary increase in the consumption of the people and in the revenue, and with many official statements full of hope. I ask the right hon. Baronet, can he take the same ground now? Can he tell the country, and his Sovereign, when this state of things is likely to terminate; or, what other remedy has he for this than that we propose? Can he find a better? If you (Sir R. Peel) try any other remedy than ours, what chance have you for mitigating the condition of the country? You took the Corn-laws into your own hands after a fashion of your own, and amended them according to your own views. You said that you were uninfluenced in what you did by any pressure from without on your judgment. You acted on your own judgment, and would follow no other, and you are responsible for the consequences of your act. You said that your object was to find more employment for the increasing population. Who so likely, however, to tell you what markets could be extended as those who are engaged in carrying on the trade and manufactures of the country? I will not say that the mercantile and manufacturing body, as a whole, agree with me in my views of the Corn-laws; but the right hon. Baronet must know that all parties in the manufacturing and commercial districts disapprove of his law. I do not speak of the League; I speak of the great body of commercial men; and I ask where will you find on any exchange, in England, Scotland, or Ireland, where "merchants do congregate," and manufacturers meet, twelve men favourable to the Corn-law which you forced on the community, in obedience to your own judgment, and contrary to ours. You passed the law, you refused to listen to the manufacturers, and I throw on you all the responsibility of your own measure. The law has not given the promised extension to our trade. It has ruined the Corn-law speculators. [A laugh.] You may laugh; but is it a triumph to ruin the corn dealers, or cause a loss of 2,000,000l. of money? When you have ruined the corn speculators, who will supply you with foreign wheat? The Corn-law is in such a state, that no regular merchant will engage in the corn trade. Ask any merchant, and you will find that no man, let his trade be what it will, sends abroad orders for corn as be sends abroad orders for sugar and coffee. No merchant dares to engage in the corn trade. I was offered, or rather the Anti-Corn-law League was offered a contribution of wheat from one of the western states of America, on condition that we should pay the expense of transport down the Mississipi. On calculating the cost of transport, we found it would not pay the expense of carriage. On taking the 20s. duty into consideration, and the expense of carriage, we found that when it was sold here there would not be one farthing for the League. When such is the case, how can such merchants as the Barings', or the Browns' of Liverpool, send out orders for corn, when there is no certainty whether they shall have to pay 20s duty or any less sum when it arrives. Such a law defies calculation, and puts an end to trade. Take again the article sugar. The right hon. Gentleman by his tariff reduced the duties on 700 articles, and he carefully omitted those two articles which are supplied by North and South America, the only two countries the trade of which can resuscitate our present declining manufactures. Yes, the right hon. Baronet altered the duties on 700 articles. He took the duty off caviare and cassava powder, but he left corn and sugar, oppressed with heavy monopoly duties. The right hon. Baronet reduced the charges on drugs, which was not unimportant, but he excluded those two vital commodities which the merchants of the country know can alone supply any extension to our trade; I will not say that this was done with a design of injuring our trade, but it was done. The right hon. Baronet acted on his own judgment, and he retained the duty on the two articles on which a reduction of duty was desired, and he reduced the duties on those on which there was not a possibility of the change being of much service to the country. It was folly or ignorance. ["Hear, hear."] Yes, it was folly or ignorance to amend our system of duties, and leave out of consideration sugar and corn. The reduction of the duties on drugs and such things was a proper task for some under-Secretary of State, dealing with the sweeping of office, but it was unworthy of any Minister, and was devoid of any plan. It was one of the least useful changes that ever was proposed by any Government. There is also the case of timber. I admit, that the reduction of the duty on timber is a good thing, but you reduced the duty, when there are 10,000 houses standing empty within a radius of twenty miles of Manchester, and when there are crowds of ships rotting in our ports. At the same time, you denied our merchant the means of traffic, by refusing to reduce the duties on the two most bulky articles which our ships carry. You reduced your timber duties when there were no factories to build, and when there was no employment for ships. That is the scheme of the right hon. Baronet—the only plan which he has to propose for the benefit of the country. Can he not try some other plan? Does he repudiate that which has been suggested by the hon. Member for White haven?—and will he have nothing to do with altering the currency, to which he is invited by the hon. Member for Birmingham? The hon. Member for Shrews bury, too, and the organs of his party in the press, had plans, but he will adopt none of them. It is his duty, he says, to judge independently, and act without reference to any pressure; and I must tell the right hon. Baronet that it is the duty of every honest and independent Member to hold him individually responsible for the present position of the country. I am not a party man. The hon. Members know I am not. This I will tell him that let who will be in office, whether Whigs or Tories, I will not sit in the House a day longer than I can with the cordial assent of my constituents, vote for or against Whigs or Tories, as I may think right. I tell the right hon. Gentleman that I, for one, care nothing for Whigs or Tories. I have said that I never will help to bring back the Whigs, but I tell him that the whole responsibility of the lamentable and dangerous state of the country rests with him. It ill becomes him to throw that responsibility on any one at this side. I say there never has been violence, tumult, or con fusion, except at periods when there has been an excessive want of employment, and a scarcity of the necessaries of life. The right hon. Baronet has the power in his hands to do as he pleases. If he will not, he has the privilege, which he told the noble Lord, the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he had, namely, that of resigning the office which gives him the power. I say that it is his duty. It is his duty to resign office the moment he finds he has not power to carry out to the fullest extent those measures which he believes to be for the benefit of the country, But whether he does so or not, I have faith in the electoral body—I have faith in the middle classes, backed by the more intelligent of the working classes, and led by the more honest section of the aristocracy—I have faith in the great body of the community that they will force the Government, whether of the right hon. Gentleman, or of any other party, to the practical adoption of those principles which are now generally believed to be essential to the welfare of this country. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted the justice, the policy, and expediency of our principles. He has admitted then, that they must in the end be triumphant. I repeat, I trust in the middle classes, in the elec- toral body, in the better portion of the working classes, and in the honester part of the aristocracy, to force the right hon. Baronet, or his successors, to put in practice those principles, the justice, policy, and reasonableness of which he has him self admitted.

Sir Robert Peel

said: Sir, the hon. Gentleman has stated here very emphatically, what he has more than once stated at the conferences of the Anti-Corn-law League, that he holds me individually—[Great excitement]—individually responsible for the distress and suffering of the country; that he holds me personally responsible; but be the consequences of those insinuations what they may, never will I be influenced by menaces either in this House or out of this House, to adopt a course which I consider—[The rest of the sentence was lost in shouts from various parts of the House.]

Mr. Cobden

rose and said: I did not say that I held the right hon. Gentleman personally responsible—[shouts of "Yes, yes," "You did, you did,"—cries of "Order," and "Chair."] [Sir Robert Peel: you did.] I have said that I hold the right hon. Gentleman responsible, by virtue of his office—[" No, no," much confusion]—as the whole context of what I said was sufficient to explain—[" No, no, from the Ministerial Benches].

Sir Robert Peel

Sir, the expression of the hon. Gentleman was not, that he held her Majesty's Government responsible; but, addressing himself to me, he said, in the most emphatic manner, that he held me individually responsible [Cheers.—Sir James Graham handed a paper to Sir Robert Peel.] I do not want to over state anything. I am not certain, on reflection, whether the hon. Gentleman used the word personally, but he did twice repeat that he held me individually responsible. I am perfectly certain of that. The hon. Gentleman may do so, and may induce others to do the same, but I only notice his assertion for the purpose of saying that it shall not influence me in the discharge of a public duty. Sir, I wish most sincerely that I had been able to conduct this discussion in the same manner and with the same temper with which we conducted most of the discussions on the tariff of last year. And now I will separate altogether, in approaching this discussion, all that part of it which relates to public interests, to the welfare and well-being of the great body of society, from that which may be assumed to be more of a party and political character. I can do that with greater ease, because I must say that the noble Lord, in the course of his Speech, set the example of so conducting the discussion. It would be, indeed, a great advantage if we were enabled to discuss matters of such importance without reference to party interests or party recriminations. I will, then, conduct all the first part of what I have to deliver to the House on the principles on which the noble Lord made his Speech on introducing the motion. The noble Lord proposes that the House should resolve itself into a committee, to consider that part of the Speech from the Throne which refers to the public distress. Sir, I approach the consideration of that motion, I trust, in a temper befitting the acknowledged and long continued distresses of this country—in a temper, too, befitting the fortitude with which privations and distress have been borne. I will consider singly and exclusively whether the adoption of the motion of the noble Lord is likely in its results to mitigate that distress or revive prosperity. I make no objection to the form of the motion of the noble Lord, if an objection in point of form could be made. There are occasions on which, if you can realise public advantage or mitigate severe distress, to urge technacalities against the administration of a remedy, would be most unwise and unbenifitting the Legislature of a great country. But, in point of form, there is no objection to be urged against the motion of the noble Lord. That motion is perfectly constitutional, and liable to no objection in point of form. If any objections are to prevail against it, they must be objections of a substantial kind. To such only will I address myself. Many hon. Gentlemen have mistaken the nature of the motion. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last, and who assumed such a tone with regard to the motion, inferred that the noble Lord proposed a committee of inquiry into manufacturing distress. The hon. Gentleman said that his only objection to the motion was, that the inquiry was not to be more extensive, and did not include agricultural as well as commercial distress. Why, Sir, the noble Lord proposes no inquiry, whatever, in the sense in which the hon. Gentleman refers to inquiry. The noble Lord does not propose to inquire for the purpose of ascertaining the cause of the present distress, and all those who are inclined to support his motion in the expectation of having such an inquiry instituted, will find themselves entirely disappointed if the noble Lord should be successful. What the noble Lord proposes is, that the House should resolve itself into a committee of the whole House for the purpose of considering the distress of the country, and then, I presume, he has some proposition to submit for the relief of the distress. I must own I think the general complexion of this debate has not been such as entirely to convince me, that with the numbers here present, and influenced by the feelings that naturally prevail on each side of the House, with only the change of having Mr. Green sitting at the Table, instead of having the Speaker in the chair, that any very useful consequences could arise from the discussions of measures under such circumstances. But when we have got into committee what will the noble Lord do? What is the motion that the noble Lord will make in committee? There is to be no inquiry. When the noble Lord gets into committee, he will not content himself with having succeeded so far, but must pursue some course or other. What course will that be? Will the noble Lord propose a series of measures founded on the principles of which he is the advocate—the principles of free-trade. If he does, what must be the inevitable consequence? All the functions of Government must necessarily be suspended. I speak of Government not in the party sense of the word. I speak of the executive Government, of that which is entrusted with important functions, and which has hitherto been responsible for their performance,—responsible for performing the particular duty—of explaining the expenditure of the year, and the financial means of the year at a certain period of the Session, and of proposing the financial measures of the year. If the noble Lord succeed in his motion, those functions of the Government must be completely suspended. Will the noble Lord propose to deal with the sugar duties? But I will take matters of mere revenue, which do not operate in the slightest degree by way of protection; and with respect to which there can be no objection, from conflicting and rival interests. Take the case of tea. Will the noble Lord touch that. We have a pros- pect of increased trade with China. If you lower the duties on tea, there will probably be a greater consumption; there will be an increased importation of tea, and probably an increased demand in China for the produce of this country. Will the noble Lord, therefore, submit a proposition for the reduction of the duty on tea? Will he take the same course with respect to tobacco, and with respect to the duty on raw cotton? Some Gentlemen, in the course of the debate, have urged the reduction of the duty on raw cotton as indispensable to the prosperity of our manufactures. The duty on wool has also been referred to. These are all articles with respect to which duties are imposed, not for the purpose of protection, but for the purpose of revenue. Suppose the noble Lord proposes to reduce the duties on tea, tobacco, cotton, and wool. I should like to ask him how any one entrusted with the financial affairs of this country can stir one step, or know what course to pursue. So much for matter of detail, if the noble Lord enters into detail. In the same wav, the functions of Government with respect to commercial treaties, must be at once suspended. Suppose the noble Lord think it desirable to reduce the duties on wine, or on fruits, what course are the Government to take with respect to negotiations now pending, and which had been pending for the last four or five years. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer, some three years ago, took credit, or rather debited himself with a reduction of 300,000l. in the revenue, consequent on the expected termination of a commercial treaty with France, on which negotiations have been pending ever since. If the noble Lord deals with these questions of revenue, in this committee of the whole House, how is the executive Government to proceed with respect to the preparation of financial measures, or the conduct of negotiations with foreign powers for the reciprocal reductions of import duties? It is clear that the functions of Government would be suspended by the noble Lord's success in carrying such a motion as this. And at what time does the noble Lord come forward? Hitherto it has at least been the practice to give the Government some time after the commencement of the Session, until the estimates have been voted, and until a full review can be taken of the state of the finances of the country, before they are called upon to propose measures for providing the means for the year; but the noble Lord within a fort night after the commencement of the Session, calls on the House to permit him to undertake this duty. And at what period also, respecting the revenue itself, does the noble Lord propose this measure? At a period when probably the future produce of the yearly revenue is subject to peculiar uncertainty. It is difficult to foresee what will be the product of the Income-tax. I made an estimate of it on the best grounds on which I could calculate; but we have not made sufficient progress in its collection to enable us to determine whether the estimate was well founded or not. At this particular period, the revenue has been affected by the measures of last Session. It was affected by the discussion which preceded them; and yet the noble Lord proposes to go into a committee of the whole House, for the purpose of considering measures affecting the finances of the country. Will the noble Lord avoid the difficulty by contenting himself with moving some such general resolution as this—" Resolved, That the principles on which the tariff of last year was founded ought to be carried to further extent?" Is that the motion which the noble Lord would propose? There is to be no inquiry, and he must propose either a specific measure of details, or he must propose some general resolution, embodying a general principle. The noble Lord has no alternative. If you could do anything at the present moment to create uncertainty, to paralyse trade, to suspend all commercial speculations, it would be to move some general indefinite resolution like that, leaving every man uncertain as to what specific articles the general resolution was to be applied. This country has not yet recovered from the effect of the tariff of last year. The discussion which preceded that tariff necessarily added to commercial embarrassment. It was impossible it could be otherwise. During the whole time of the discussion, commercial men were in a state of uncertainty as to what would be the final resolve of the House of Commons, and there was a suspension of commercial dealings. It affected the consumption of timber, and affected almost every other article of importance which entered into the tariff of last year. If you now enter on the subject again, without indicating the articles of which you mean to alter the duties, you do more to diminish public confidence and add to commercial embarrassments, than by any other course you could take. One great evil has been a gradual diminution of prices. When there is a tendency to an increase of prices there is a tendency to commercial prosperity. The effect of a gradual increase of prices is well explained by Mr. Hume—David Hume, in one of his essays on trade. Threatened reductions in the tariff tend to produce declining prices, and a vague resolution, such as I have referred to, leaving it uncertain to what articles the principle was to be applied, so far from being a relief, would aggravate all the existing evils. I hope I have conducted the discussion on the principles which I laid down, avoiding all party considerations, and making my appeal to the reason of the House against the proposal of the noble Lord. Mere success in carrying this motion would be only a triumph over the Government. That the noble Lord disclaims, and I must say, from the character of the speech with which he proposed the motion, I have confidence in the declaration of the noble Lord. He does not seek a temporary triumph of party by his motion. He proposes it in order to give a hope of relief for the distress of the country. Inquiry is not intended. You are not to have the operation of the Corn-laws—you are not to have the operation of other restrictive laws investigated, but some proposition is to be made. I have attempted to show that that proposition must refer to details or to general principles—that the one would suspend and paralyse the functions of Government, and the other would add to the existing embarrassment and distress. Sir, I do not oppose the noble Lord's motion on the ground of denying the distress which prevails. There are but too many evidences of that distress. And when some of my right hon. Friends refer to circumstances which rather appear to indicate a hope of more favourable times, they have done so, not for the purpose of denying the existence or extent of the distress, but for the purpose of meeting arguments used by hon. Gentle men, and showing that in some cases there have been exaggerations of the degree of distress. And one hon. Gentleman, the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) has charged my right hon. Friend with having made a statement, founded upon Mr. Horner's report, which is not confirmed by the details of that report. But then the hon. Gentleman referred to the report of Mr. Homer for autumn last. Might it not have occurred to the hon. Gentleman that an improvement might have taken place between autumn and January? Now, on the 30th of January, Mr. Horner did make a report, and, with respect to the new buildings, he did use this language:— In the course of last year, forty-nine new concerns were set to work, having 1,378 horses' power, and employing 3,490 persons. Calculating five persons to each horse power, the usual rough estimate, when these mills are in full work they will give employment to 7,000 persons. Some of them are new buildings, and some of these are additions to pre-existing buildings; in other cases, the occupiers have removed from smaller to larger premises; but in all of them the parties must have invested new capital; and it would be irrational to suppose otherwise than that all of them have entered upon a branch of trade which they believed to hold out a fair prospect of yielding a remunerating profit. The greater part of the information from which these tables have been constructed, was collected between the beginning of September and the middle of November—that is, before there were any symptoms of that revival which began about the latter date; so that if it had been possible to give the actual state of the mills in the present week, there is every probability that a comparison with the same time last year, would give a still more favourable result than I have shown above. I have formed this opinion, not merely on general reports of improved trade, but from facts such as the following, contained in returns recently received from the superintendents in my district:—Mr. Superintendent Davies, resident at Ashton-under-Line, reports to me, that on visiting the mills of A on the 9th of November, 1842, 252 looms were standing; on the 18th of this mouth all were at work, and 22 added. On the 10th of November, 1842, B had 500 looms, and 2–5ths of the spinning machinery stopped; on the 18th of January, only 250 looms, and 1–4th of the spinning machinery stopped. On the 28th of October, C had 186 looms stopped; on the 18th of January all were at work. In July, 1842, D had 252 looms stopped, and eight pair of mules working short time; in January, 1843, all were at work, and on full time. In July, 1842, E had 190 looms stopped; in January, 1843, all were at work. In July, 1842, F had 167 looms stopped; in January, 1843, nearly all were at work. Do not let me be misunderstood. Mind—I do not deny the existence of great distress. If the noble Lord's motion could really and truly tend to relieve the country, we have, I say, such full and ample evidence of that distress as to induce me to enter into the committee that he desires. But when Gentlemen say, that we are in a worse state in January than we were in October, then I wish to show you that in that statement there is exaggeration. That is the remark I have to make upon that point. I have, Sir, little more to say of the reason why the Government cannot, and why the House ought not to assent to the motion of the noble Lord. But then, during the course of this discussion, I have been condemned by many Gentlemen for the course which I pursued, in the last Session, with respect to the tariff, and the principles on which it professed to be founded, and for the declarations which I made in the course of the present Session. I will refer first to the principles on which the Government acted in proposing the tariff of last year. In undertaking to revise the commercial code of this country—I beg the House to recollect the circumstances under which it was undertaken. There was in that year, and there had been for several preceding years, a great deficiency in the amount of the revenue. This country, too, was engaged in two wars. The East-India Company was interested in the one—that carried on to the west of the Indus, and the other the war with China. It was, under these circumstances, that her Majesty's Government undertook the revision of the commercial code. There was a deficiency of 2,400,000l., or of a sum something nearer 3,000,0001 That deficiency did not deter us from undertaking what we thought would be beneficial to the commerce of the country. But, in order to revise our duties, it was necessary to create a new deficiency; and we, Sir, did not shrink from performing that which we felt to be necessary, because it compelled us to perform the unpopular act, which nothing but a sense of our duty could reconcile us to, of calling upon the country to submit to an Income-tax in a time of peace. Without that tax, we could not have proposed a revision of the tariff, when we had to create a new deficiency of 1,200,000l. But in the face of those wars—in the face of this deficiency—in the face of that deficiency which a reform in the tariff must create, we undertook the revision of our commercial code. I announced the principles on which that revision was to be undertaken. I ask, if it were possible to have undertaken a revision of the whole of our Customs' duties, without having explained the general principles on which that revision was to have proceeded. There were two principles between which we had to choose, the principle of protection to the native industry, or to abandon prohibitory duties, and relax commercial restrictions. We had to take either one or the other, and we declared that we thought that the principle of protection could be carried no further in the abstract. I repeat the word, notwithstanding the objections of the hon. Gentlemen to the term. In the abstract he said, that protection was not to be defended as the permanent system of this country. We thought, that a revision of the commercial code ought to proceed upon the principle of abandoning prohibitory duties, and relaxing the restrictions on commerce. And now I am taunted for not carrying out that principle to all its legitimate and logical consequences, and told that I am not to pay any regard to specific or peculiar circumstances, and not to give any consideration to long vested interests! But when I stated that I thought that the pervading principle ought to be rather a relaxation of restrictions, than an increase of protection, I accompanied the declaration of that abstract principle with a distinct declaration that that principle, admitted to be a wise one, ought to be applied, in a country like this, with great caution and great circumspection—first, because we ought not lightly to affect great interests, which had grown up to great importance under long-enjoyed protection; and, secondly, because you ought not, by the course that you pursued, to throw discredit upon the principle you sought to enforce, by applying it so rashly and indiscriminately, as to cause more evil than good, and produce a doubt in the truth of the principle itself. I stated at the time that it was with those qualifications I should apply the principle, and in taking that course, I am justified by the conduct of those who had preceded me, who had advocated those principles, and set the example of removing commercial restrictions. When Mr. Huskisson, in 1825, proposed his revision of the commercial law of this country, the language he used I will read to the House. Mr. Huskisson was a great commercial reformer, a practical reformer, who felt all the responsibility, and antici- pated all the consequences of his acts, and the House will see how he qualified the general principles of which he advocated the adoption. Mr. Huskisson, on the 21st March, 1825, used these words:— I can assure the committee, that if I am about to recommend alterations which are at variance with the ancient sentiments of this country, in respect to colonial policy and trade, it is not because I consider the views of our ancestors as necessarily erroneous, or that innovation must necessarily be improvement; but it is because the circumstances and state of the world, in which we have to examine colonial interests, have changed; and it becomes us, as practical statesmen, to deal with those interests with a reference to that change. It is only in this sense, and with this qualification, that I desire to be looked upon as an innovator. I am not anxious to give effect to new principles, where circumstances do not call for their application; feeling as I do, from no small experience in public business—and every day confirms that feeling—how much, in the vast and complex interests of this country, are general theories, however incontrovertible in the abstract, require to be weighed with a calm circumspection, to be directed by a temperate discretion, and to be adapted to all the existing relations of society, with a careful hand, and a due regard to the establishments and institutions which have grown up under those relations. Are not these, I ask, the words of practical wisdom? They were used when that great commercial reformer undertook large and most important reforms in our commercial code. Do we not find here the prudence of a practical man, who, while he laid down general principles, thought it right and proper that they should be accompanied by circumspection in their application? Now take other men who have not been responsible for the practical consequences of the principles that they desire to see acted upon—take one who caused the principles of free-trade as far as any Gentleman of the House—take the highest authority, for so I must still call him; for it appears to me that all—not all, but many subsequent writers on political economy, have only tended to confound by their observations that, which was elucidated by Adam Smith, at least the doctrines propounded by Adam Smith, to my apprehension appear more clear and satisfactory than those of his commentators. Take Adam Smith, and no man went further in advocating free-trade, the abolition of restrictive duties, and what does he say? This is the way that with reference to a state of society constituted like ours, he qualifies his doctrines? He says— The case in which it may sometimes be a matter of deliberation how far, or in what manner it is proper to restore the free importation of foreign goods, after it has been for some time interrupted is, when particular manufactures, by means of high duties or prohibitions upon all foreign goods which can come into competition with them, have been so far extended as to employ a great multitude of hands. But you will not allow agriculture to be reckoned a manufacture, or entitled to those benefits laid down as properly belonging to a manufacture by this great authority. But to continue my extract—. Humanity may in this case require that the freedom of trade should be restored only by slow gradations, and with a good deal of reserve and circumspection. Were those high duties and prohibitions taken away all at once, cheaper foreign goods of the same kind might be poured so fast into the home market, as to deprive all at once many thousands of our people of their ordinary employment and means of subsistence. These are the words of the theoretical writer—of a writer not responsible for the practical application of his views, but they correspond with the doctrine of the practical reformer—of a Minister of the Crown who did lie under responsibility. And Sir, following in the footsteps of these great authorities with respect to our commercial principles, I accompanied their enunciation with a respectful admonition to the House to apply those principles with great circumspection—with great caution. It is said, however, that we did absolutely nothing by the tariff, that it was a mere delusion. Is that true? What did we do in that tariff to which you now attach so little value? Sir, in respect to articles of raw produce, constituting the elements of manufactures, in respect to almost all these articles we reduced the duty payable on their importation—in some cases we reduced it to five, and in other cases to two per cent. And where exceptions were made they were allowed on the ground of revenue. Take for example the case of cotton wool. I am here speaking of raw produce, the materials of manufactures. Take, I say, the case of cotton wool; the duty on which was retained on account of the revenue. With respect to articles half manufactured, if I may so speak—half raw and half manufactured—the general rule was to reduce the duty to ten or twelve per cent. With respect to articles of manufactures, the general rule was, to impose a duty of 20 per cent. Exceptions were made from these reductions in favour of certain articles, but they were made in favour of weak and unprotected interests. The claims of the cork-cutters, for example, were urged by the hon. Member for Fins-bury—the claims of the straw manufacturers were also among those urged—and when exceptions were made from the general reduction which the tariff effected, they were made in favour of branches of manufacture of that nature for which there could be no ground for making exception other than the desire to protect the fair interests of the parties concerned. We did except certain great articles. We excepted some on the ground of negotiations pending with respect to them. In the case of wine—in the case of brandy in the case, I think, of vinegar—in the case of French fruits, and in those of several other articles, we did not reduce the duty in order that we might employ those duties as instruments of negotiation, with a view of effecting a reduction in the duties imposed by other countries on the produce of our own industry. I am not disposed to carry too far that principle of withholding from ourselves the benefits of reduction of duties, in order to force other nations to act in a reciprocal manner, and in many cases we weakened the effect of instruments we held in our own hands, by reducing the duties of articles relative to which negotiations might have been entered into. Our general rule was, that in cases where the articles were elements of manufacture, or where there was risk from smuggling, we took to ourselves the advantage likely to arise from a reduction of duty on these articles; but on others, wine for example, we made no reduction of duty, and intend to make no reduction of duty, in the hope that we shall thus induce other countries to give to us an equivalent advantage; and with respect to cases in which the articles in question are articles of luxury. I do think—as I presume the late Government also thought—that before you consent to a reduction of the duties—on French wines for example, that you should attempt to prevail upon France to permit hardwares and cutlery from Sheffield to enter her dominions at a greater advantage to this country than that derived under the existing system. Indeed, it would not, I believe, be satisfactory to the country if we were to reduce the duty at once on articles like wine—articles of luxury, used only by the wealthier classes, without making an attempt to procure from the grower of the wine some corresponding advantage to the people of this country. These were the cases in which we excepted certain articles from the operation of the tariff; and it is by withholding them that we may hope that negotiations—negotiations I am sorry to say too long pending may be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. But we cannot be fairly charged, by those who have been parties to pending commercial negotiations, with having reserved too many articles from the operation of the general plan of reduction imposed by the tariff, and reducing the duties upon them without continuing these negotiations—we excepted silk, and wine, and brandy. During the discussion upon the tariff no one proposed that we should at once part with all the advantages while negotiations were pending, which the duties on these articles gave us. [Viscount Howick contended that the operation of the tariff ought to have been made universal.] Such might have been the noble Lord's views; but I am sure that the general sense of the House—I do not mean to include the opinions of every particular member of it; the general sense of the House was in favour of the reduction upon the duty of the articles referred to being reserved, until further progress had been made in pending negotiations. I certainly did not apply the tariff to the article of sugar—and I admit at once that there can be no article of greater importance to this country than sugar—no article with respect to which a reduction of price would be of more importance. But this I can with truth affirm, that it was no desire to protect great monopolies, which induced us to reserve the reduction upon sugar. Whenever you do deal with that article, I doubt whether you will not deal with it in a manner which will be for the advantage of the West Indies, as well as for that of the grower of foreign sugar. We reserved the article of sugar partly with the view of using it as an instrument for the purpose of effecting reductions in the import duties payable upon our produce in foreign sugar-growing countries; but much more on this ground, that we did not deem it right to give a free unlimited admission to foreign sugar, without any reference to the consideration as to whether it was the produce of free or of slave labour. I said this should be our ruling principle when I was in opposition; I maintained it last Session in office, and I still adhere to it. Certainly you should, if it be in your power, attempt to make stipulations in favour, not only of the abolition of the slave-trade, but for the modification of slavery itself. You should attempt to obtain conditions with respect to the state of slavery before you grant the indiscriminate reduction of duty. I expressed this opinion last year and acted upon it, and I still maintain it; and considering the discussion in which this country was lately involved—considering the position it has maintained with respect to America—considering the principles which it has maintained with respect to France—I do say, that there never was a period when it was more important that this country should prove to the world that she did not relax, for the purpose of obtaining pecuniary advantage, those institutions which she formerly maintained. There has been a great disposition to charge this country with having been influenced to the suppression of slavery by the pressure of mercantile considerations; and it certainly would abate our moral influence, if we did, lightly, for the sake of a free-trade in sugar, abandon the opportunity of making such a trade instrumental in ameliorating slavery in sugar-growing countries. I say no more on this point. When I was asked, at the beginning of the Session, what particular article should be subjected to a reduction of duty, I declined to answer, on the ground that it was not fair to make such a selection, and to inquire into the intentions of Government as to proposed changes at the very opening of the Session. But, at any rate, we can see what has happened with regard to the timber duties. The opposition made to the change I proposed in those duties was, that I went much farther than her Majesty's late Government, and that I was sacrificing a large portion of revenue in the hope of reducing the price of timber. We permitted colonial timber to come in at a mere nominal duty, and we greatly reduced the price of Baltic timber. But, says the hon. Gentleman opposite, "you have done nothing for the consumer. You have merely lost a revenue, without re- ducing the price of timber." That is not the fact. There has been a great diminution in the price of timber. Sir, I quite admit that, in the present state of the country, it is not very easy to determine how far the reduction in price is referable to the diminished duty or the diminished demand; but that there has been a great reduction in the price of timber cannot be doubted for a moment. I hold in my hand a comparative statement of the prices paid for timber in the dock-yards, during the years 1841 and 1842. In 1841 Riga timber was 5l 6s. 6d. a load; in 1842, after the 10th October; it was 4l. 2s 6d. In the first year Dantzic timber was 5l;4s; 9d; in 1842, 3l; 18s; 9d; In deals there was no such difference, for the duty did not apply. In the first year Canadian red pine was 4l; 16s. 6l; in the second, 3l. 16s. 6d; In the first, yellow pine was 4l; 3s; in the latter, 3l;1s; In the first year, Stockholm timber was 4l; 10l; in the latter, 3l;1s; Now, so far as an absolute reduction of price, it has unquestionably taken place to an extent at least equivalent to the abatement of the duty. I admit, as I said before, that the same causes may have influenced the depression of price in timber as those which operated in the case of other articles. But says the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden)" you reduce the price of timber when there are no factories to be built;" as if there was nothing else in the world but factories. I don't undervalue the importance of factories, but to say that, when bridges, houses, and various other buildings are always to be constructed or repaired, no advantage is derived in the great reduction of the price of timber, simply because no additional cotton mills are required, is an argument which only indicates that the hon. Gentleman's notion of commercial prosperity and the happiness of the nation all centre in the erection of cotton mills throughout the country. I think I can establish the importance of the alteration by the words of Mr. Deacon Hume, for there was no one article to which he attached greater importance than timber. He said:— You have coal and iron cheap; make timber cheap too, and you have the three great elements of commercial prosperity. And although factories are not building, and millowners have not derived any ad- vantage from the reduction which has lately been effected in the price of timber, yet the hon. Gentleman would find it very difficult to convince the great bulk of the community that they have derived no advantage from the diminution in the price of timber. We come next to articles of human subsistence. It is said we did nothing in the tariff respecting such articles, because, in order to conciliate the good will of our supporters, we were afraid to touch them effectually. Why, we found cattle prohibited, and salt meat subject to high duties; we diminished the duties, and we remitted the prohibition. But it is said that not the slightest benefit accrued from the reduction, or the abolition of the prohibition: that the change has not varied in the slightest degree the price of meat. If I retained the prohibition and the high duties, what would be said? How you would dwell on the importance of the traffic in meat and cattle, and charge me with obstructing the commercial prosperity of the country. But I reduced the duty on meat to an amount fixed at so moderate a rate, that you (the Opposition) did not object to it, and I took away the prohibition from the importation of cattle, and now you say that the change has not been attended with the slightest advantage—that it is all a mockery and delusion. Sir, when that language is held with respect to those articles of subsistence, it leads me to think that you greatly over-rate the advantages which you now say are to be derived from a free-trade in corn. Why, what said the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baring) the other night? He did not say that we manifested any desire to sacrifice the permanent interests of the country for the attainment of political or party advantages. On the contrary, the right hon. Gentleman proclaimed that we perilled the existence of the Government by removing the prohibition on cattle, and that if it were not for the forbearance of the opposition, we should have been left in a minority, and been compelled to relinquish the reins of power. Well, according to the right hon. Gentleman's representation, we are entitled to credit; for how could we have given a greater proof that we were bent on pursuing what we believed were for the public advantage, than to stake our existence as a Government on the removal of this prohibition? And when the right hon. Gentleman claims credit for supporting me on the reduction of duty, he ought at least to admit that we were not desirous of deferring to opinions in which we did not partake, or of sacrificing the public welfare for the sake of conciliating our supporters. Now, with respect to the Corn-laws. I did certainly retain the principle of a fluctuating scale. It was said, when I proposed that measure, that it would be of no advantage in diminishing the price of corn. It was said that I was rendering the exclusion of foreign corn more strict by the addition of new towns in taking the averages. It was said too that the Bank of England would be exhausted of its gold in consequence of the adoption of the sliding-scale. But you cannot deny that there has been a great reduction in the price. Oh, but it is now said that it is entirely owing to the harvest. But you prophesied that the harvest would be an unproductive one. There is no doubt that it is very difficult to determine to what cause the fall of price is owing, but at any rate you cannot deny that there has been a considerable reduction. Now, take the prices—and you will see the reduction effected, no doubt, by the harvest as a main cause—for the last six years. On the 2nd January, 1836, wheat was 59s. per quarter; in January, 1838, it was 52s. 4d. per quarter; in January, 1839, it was 78s. 2d. per quarter; in January, 1840, it was 68s. 5d. per quarter; in January, 1841, it was 61s; 8d; per quarter; in January, 1842, it was 63s; 1d. per quarter; and in January, 1843, it was 46s; 11d;. per quarter. Now, it is said that the reduction in price is no benefit whatever. I confess that this is a most discouraging statement, when we compare such comments with the predictions indulged in before any alteration was made. Now, if ever a principle were maintained by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, it was that the high price of provisions was the main cause of the depression of trade, and of the diminished consumption of articles of manufacture, A pamphlet was written by an hon. Gentleman, an active member of the Anti-Corn-law League, which gave the price of corn and other articles of subsistence for some years past, and in which it was contended that twenty millions of additional capital was applied to the purchase of articles of food, and withdrawn from the purchase of manufactures; and the great evils of the country were attributed to the high prices of provisions. From some cause or other you have now a low price, and now the doctrine is, it does not matter a farthing what the price of provisions is—the great panacea is a free-trade in corn. Well, with respect to the objections to the new towns. I introduced them to prevent frauds. Some said I had a covert intention of increasing protection; some said that I should diminish the prices in the new towns, and raise the duty on foreign corn. What is the result? In twenty-five cases, with one exception, the price in the new towns has been higher than in the old. Thus I did take a double security against fraud without any increase of protection. I am charged with leaving the law in a state of uncertainty—with implying a secret reserve to alter the law next Session. Now the fact is, a Minister answers questions in his place in Parliament under great disadvantages. A Minister desires to give every information that he can on public concerns consistent with public duly. On the first night of the Session the question was addressed to me—"Do you intend to alter the Corn-laws this Session?" My answer was—"I do not." Then it was said I had made a voluntary declaration that I would not alter them this Session, but that I had made a reserve with a view to a succeeding Session. Now, in these cases, much depends on the animus of the questioner. Of course the hon. Gentleman who put the question to me was specifying the present Session, and never thought of asking me—do you, in the course of the next or of any future Session, intend to propose an alteration in the existing law? When the question was put to me, whether I contemplated any alteration in the present Session, I answered frankly—I do not. To this some Gentlemen immediately say—See in what state of uncertainty you leave the law. You, as Minister, defer the course you mean to take. You will do nothing this Session, but you do not say you will abide by your law. Abide! Sir, I do not undertake to say I will abide by any law, but I will say this—I do not now contemplate any alteration in the law; I see nothing in the experience of the last four or five months to induce me to take a different view of the question from what I did last Session; but if I am asked whether I will undertake, whatever may be my experience, whatever may be the proof of failure that may force itself upon my conviction—I say, if after such proof and experience of failure, I am asked whether, in order to purchase support, I will make a stipulation to adhere to a law that shall have failed, I say at once that there is no support that I will consent to purchase on such conditions. In a matter of this kind, which cannot be considered to involve a vital question, which cannot be supposed to endanger the monarchy, for instance, or the union of the kingdom—in a matter of this kind, I say, I should be unworthy of the station I hold, if, as a Minister, I were to undertake to maintain the law one hour after I had become convinced that the public interest demanded its abrogation. If, however, this law is to be altered, what is the principle on which the alteration is to take place? If the noble Lord brings forward a motion of this sort, and if the real object of that motion is to obtain an alteration of the Corn-laws, I have a right to ask the supporters of the noble Lord what their real views are? If they succeed in this motion, they must be well aware that not one hour could elapse without their being called upon to make a full statement of their intentions. Does the noble Lord mean to adhere unalterably to the principle of a fixed duty? See what taunts the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer threw out against me, under an idea that I might not adhere unalterably to my own measure; yet what was the conduct of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite with their own plan for the settlement of the Corn-laws? They first brought forward the proposition of a fixed duty, but before they even approached the introduction of their own bill, the noble Lord declared that his views had undergone a change. We argued that a fixed duty was altogether delusive as a protection to agriculture, because in a season of great scarcity, or when corn rose to an average of 73s. or 75s., it would be found utterly impossible to levy the fixed duly. The noble Lord, in proportion as he gave more consideration to the question, began to see that this was the case, and then the noble Lord avowed himself ready to modify his own law in this respect, and declared that he was ready to abandon his fixed duty under, a pressure of high prices. The noble Lord, whose friends now demand that I, as Minister, shall either abandon this law, or pledge myself to maintain it irrevocably under all circumstances, the noble Lord himself, before he approached the introduction of his own bill, claimed, and justly claimed, for himself the privilege of modifying his views. He determined to retain the system of averages, and when wheat approached the price of 75s. he admitted that his fixed duly could not be enforced. And the noble Lord was quite right to claim for himself this privilege; but I do say that those who concede this privilege to the noble Lord, ought not to be so strict in demanding of his opponents that they shall irrevocably adhere to a measure they have once adopted. Between the noble Lord and ourselves there is, in point of fact, no difference of principle. The noble Lord contends for the necessity of a protective duty. But then the noble Lord contends also that a fixed duty would have the effect of establishing a regular trade in corn, and would have the effect of securing an active intercourse with the United States of America. Well, the noble Lord vindicates a fixed duty of 8s; on the ground that the landed interest is entitled to protection, and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer calls upon us to settle the question. To settle the question! Does the right hon. Gentleman really feel confident that a fixed duty of 8s. will settle the question? Does he feel confident that such a fixed duty will put an end to agitation, and lead to the immediate dispersing of the Anti-Corn-law League? Why, this very night we were told by the hon. Member for Salford, that a fixed duty of 8s. would be equivalent to a tax on corn of 20,000,000l; This, I admit, was a very extravagant calculation; but supposing a fixed duty of 8s. to be in force, and wheat at 75s; if the hon. Gentleman even approaches the truth, if he supposes the tax to be only one half of his first estimate, if he calculates it only at 10,000,000l; instead of 20,000,000l;will any man tell me that it will not be the hon. Member's intention to go on agitating the question till he obtain the repeal of the 8s.? My objection to a fixed duty is, that it presses with peculiar severity upon the consumer when corn is high, and it equally presses upon the producer when prices are low. I shall be told, indeed, that, a fixed duty will lead to a greater regularity in the trade; but I say there are circumstances which make it impossible, under any state of the law, to calculate upon stationary prices for such an article as corn. Even in New York itself, when prices have in no way been influenced by a demand from this country, there have been as great variations in price, under a system of complete free-trade, as in England under the sliding-scale. The two noble Lords opposite are agreed as to the amount of a fixed duty, but the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton would maintain it, not as a protection to agriculturists, but with a view to a revenue. If the noble Lord the Member for London is wrong, if the landed interest be not entitled to protection from the importation of foreign corn, if it be not necessary to restrict the importation of foreign corn for the purpose of preventing too great dependence on foreign supply, if those two positions be conceded, I will venture to say that a fixed duty of 8s. on foreign corn, for the purpose of revenue, would not be maintained for two months. Observe the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton, denies that there is any necessity for protection; he would impose a fixed duly of 8s. on foreign corn for the mere purpose of gaining revenue. The noble Lord cannot resist the inference that if the landed interest have no need of protection, and if corn be a fit subject of taxation, corn that is the produce of your own country ought to be liable to taxation. He cannot resist the argument that the duty ought not to be one of 8s. on the importation of foreign corn, but 4s. on foreign corn and 4s. on home-grown corn, the duty to be collected, for greater convenience, at the mill at which it is ground. The noble Lord wishes to maintain a duty of 8s. for the purpose of revenue. What, then, would be the state of the case? You levy a duty of 5,000,000l. on one species of corn which is your own produce—I mean malt. And would you levy a duly of 2,000,000l; or 3,000,000l;. on foreign wheat, and no duty whatever on home-grown wheat, if the landed interest be not entitled to protection? It is quite clear you would in that case be reversing the principle on which you proceed in the case of barley. You derive nothing from foreign grain in the article of barley. You derive your whole revenue from barley the produce of your own country, and the noble Lord would derive the whole of his revenue from wheat the produce of other countries, and exempt wheat which is the growth of his own country from any part of the duty. Therefore I think the noble Lord's (Lord John Russell's) principle of vindicating his fixed duty because the agricultural interest is entitled to protection, is, at least, a better ground to assume than that which is stated by his noble Friend, who claims the duty on foreign corn for the mere purpose of revenue. The other alternative is the absolute and total abrogation of the Corn-laws. I must say I entertain firmly the opinion that if you were at once to give effect to your views, and permit the free and unrestricted importation of foreign corn, you would displace such a mass of productive industry in this country as would greatly aggravate the present distress. Seeing nothing in the experience of the working of the present law to induce me to change the views I expressed in the course of last Session, believing that the application of a fixed duty would have no more tendency to settle this question than the retention of the present law, believing that the total repeal of the Corn-laws would be most injurious to the interest of this country. I cannot consent to the measures which are proposed as a substitute for the existing Corn-laws. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. T. Baring) who spoke last night with so much animation—a degree of animation which I have not witnessed in this House since the day that he detected a differential duty on colonial asses, charged the present Government with having unsettled everything and settled nothing—that is to say, that we, who have so far at least reformed the commercial code of this country, that we have reduced the duties on raw produce and the elements of manufactures to less than 5 per cent, in every case, the duties on half manufactured articles to 10 or 12 per cent., and the duties on manufactured articles to 20 per cent.; that her Majesty's Government have unsettled everything, and settled nothing. The right hon. Gentleman acquiesces in his present motion, which although, I am confident, is not brought forward by the noble Lord with that view, yet clearly appears, after the comments made on it by the noble Lord's Friend, the hon. Member for Halifax and others, to be in effect, whatever it may be in intention, an implied censure on Government for not having brought forward some other measure of extensive relief. Sir, nothing is so easy as to call for measures of relief, and to insist on Government proposing an immediate relief for the public distress. I am afraid that at all times, and under all circumstances, governments are liable to such a demand; but it is much easier to make that demand than to comply with it; but I think it rather bard, that this charge of having unsettled every thing and settled nothing, should proceed from our predecessors in office. I should like to compare the course which the late Government took in 1840 with the course I and my Colleagues took in 1842. Sir, it is with unaffected regret that I enter into those party conflicts on a question of this kind. I wish most heartily and sincerely, that the right hon. Gentleman had in this respect followed the example of the noble Lord. I think these mere party topics are misplaced on a question of this kind, and on an occsaion like the present; but when party attacks are made with great acrimony, there is no alternative but to defend one's self, In 1840 noble Lords and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in possession of power. They now declare themselves the great, the uniform, the consistent advocates of the principle of free-trade, and maintain that they have always looked to the relaxation of commercial restrictions as the true foundation of national prosperity, and sometimes they charge us with being the servile adherents of the opposite system, while they are constantly drawing a contrast between the weak and inefficient measures of the present Government and those which they themselves adopted when in possession of power. I will not take the measures which they attempted to bring under our consideration when they were in their last extremity. Every great sinner, if you judge of him when his end is approaching and he is greatly alarmed for his existence, when he makes vows of a better life, seems a moral man; if you were to judge of him from that period of his life only, you might think highly of his moral qualities, but the time to judge of his adherence to great principles is not when he is in the hour of dying, but when he has strength to give effect to his intentions. If as Minister you had not strength to give effect to your principles, you might have given proofs of the sincerity of your conviction, by sacrificing power and place for the sake of adhering to them. I will not dwell, therefore, on the conduct of the late Government in 1841, when there were significant proofs given that their tenure of power was very precarious; but I will go to the year 1840, when the indications of approaching dissolution were not quite so clear and certain, and I will compare the acts of the late Government, in 1840, with the acts of the present Government, who are said to have settled nothing and unsettled everything. In 1840 there had been a continuance of severe distress—there had been great suffering. That was the time to have declared to Parliament that you looked to the removal of commercial restrictions for the restoration of prosperity. You say we admit the existence of general and severe distress, and yet we have done nothing in the course of the present Session to relieve it. Why, you did the same in 1840. On the 16th of January, 1840, you put these words into the mouth of her Majesty:— My Lords and Gentlemen—I learn with great sorrow that the commercial embarrassments which have taken place in this and other countries have subjected many of the manufacturing districts to severe distress"— Words not very different from those which her Majesty has made use of in the speech of 1843. Now, what were the great measures of commercial relief which you brought forward in 1840? You charge us with the abandonment of principle in not carrying out our principles to their legitimate extent? What was the course you yourselves pursued in 1840? Look at the course you then took with reference to the article on sugar. It would appear from the language you now hold as if you had been straining every nerve, and making every sacrifice, for the purpose of obtaining the free admission of sugar. This was in no remote period—in 1840. The distress had then been of great extent and long duration. If you were so thoroughly convinced of the truth of your principles, 1840 was the time to assert them and to maintain your opinions at any hazard. But the late Chancellor of the Exchequer tells me it is, above all things pernicious not to allow a reduction of duty on sugar—a great article of consumption. Who ever heard of such misconduct (exclaimed the late Chancellor of the Exchequer) on the part of a Government? But what did you, the late Government do, as to sugar. In 1840, a year of distress, after you had admitted the existence of the distress in her Majesty's Speech, a motion was made on the subject of "sugar," by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart), and to this effect:—That the duties on foreign sugar should be reduced from 63s;. to 35s;. per cwt. There was an opportunity for the vindication of your principles. There was a duty of 63s;. existing upon the importation of foreign sugar; and the hon. Member for Dumfries proposed to reduce it to 35s;. Why he was vigorously opposed by her Majesty's Ministers. On a division, the Noes were 122, and the Ayes 27; and this motion for the reduction of the sugar duties was negatived by a majority of 95s;. The tellers for the majority on that occasion were Mr. Tuffnell and Sir T. Troubridge. But what course did those who now call for the importation of foreign sugar take upon that occasion? Every one of the then Ministers voted against the motion of the hon. Member for Dumfries. Nay, more, they assigned as a reason for so doing, that there ought to be a distinction between sugar, the produce of free-labour and sugar, the produce of slave-labour; at least they urged that that was a most important consideration. True, they said, coffee and other articles are the produce of slave-labour; but there is a material distinction between the two articles, and we will not admit foreign slave-made sugar. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is now for settling the trade, rejected the hon. Member for Dumfries' motion in 1840, though distress was pressing and severe, and the right hon. Gentleman used all the influence of Government against it. As far as language and argument can be depended upon, the speculators in sugar were at that moment led to suppose that the duties would be maintained. In 1841, however, when the pressure upon the Government became very great, they themselves proposed a reduction of the duties on sugar, and charged their adversaries with indifference to the sufferings of the people, because they would persist in voting in 1841 as they had voted in 1840. Was that the way to settle trade? Was that the way to give confidence to colonial proprietors and merchants who trade in foreign sugar?—to resist in 1840, on grounds, which I admit, were not stated as permanent, but on grounds infinitely more uncertain than anything which I have said respecting the Corn-law—a proposition for reducing the sugar duties, and then, in 1841, to propose to reduce them yourselves? Do I complain of you for proposing that reduction? Do I deny you the right, if your views altered, and you saw reason to propose a change, to make it? No, I do not; but I do think that you ought to have some little toleration, and exercise some charity, before you make indiscriminate and acrimonious attacks upon your political opponents, much less obnoxious to them than yourselves? Well, but the Corn-laws. You charge us with causing uncertainty about the Corn-law. Who would not suppose, from the tenour of this debate, and the charges made against me, that hon. Gentlemen were actually martyrs to the cause of Corn-law repeal. To hear them talk, any one would believe that they had, during the last seven or eight years, been advocating an alteration of the Corn-laws, as the one great panacea for the national distress. The question of the Corn-laws was brought forward in the House of Lords in 1840. Uncertainty about the Corn-laws! Does it add to certainty, to make the Corn-laws an open question? Does it add to certainty to have no opinion, as a Government, on the subject? This is a question to which you profess to attach great importance. You say that it ought to be settled, in order that the public mind may be relieved, and the agriculturists know to what extent they may invest their capital; that a man who takes a lease of a farm for nineteen or twenty-one years may know what he has to depend upon. Is it consistent with such language as this, that during five or six years you permitted the Corn-laws to be an open question. The question of the Corn-laws was brought under the consideration of the House of Lords by Earl Fitzwilliam in 1840, and one Member of the Government voted for the noble Earl's motion. The Earl of Clarendon upon that occasion said:— It would be untrue were he to say that he had any hope or expectation that their Lord ships would agree to the noble Earl's motion, but he should still deeply regret a contrary decision, because negativing the resolution would affirm that the present law required no change, and, therefore, admitted of no consideration. There was the dictum of one of the Ministers—he would be sorry to see the resolution negatived, because that would imply there was to be no change in the existing law! Well, but the head of the Government and the organ of the Govern ment—he who spoke the collective opinion of the Cabinet on such a great question, also addressed the House, and held this language:— Indeed, upon the motion itself, as presented to the House by his noble Friend, he had very little difficulty. For the noble Earl proposed, that 'it was expedient to enter into an inquiry upon this subject.' Now, he (Lord Melbourne) was distinctly of opinion, that it was inexpedient. Here is a mode of giving confidence to the agriculturists, and letting the men who take leases know what they have to depend upon. To think, after this, of my being condemned because I do not think it quite wise to pledge myself for ever to the maintenance of the existing law. Lord Melbourne went on to say:— Yet he would guard himself against being supposed to pledge himself to maintain the existing duties. He had never so pledged himself, nor did he mean to do so. This was no question of stubborn principle from which he could safely pledge himself not to swerve; for considerations of various kinds of economy or of policy might arise, not only to justify, but to render necessary the adoption of a different course. Yet, under present circumstances, he did not think it wise for Parliament to stir the question, as they would stir it, if they adopted the motion of his noble Friend. And then, in order, perhaps, to give confidence to the agriculturists, and to assure them that his Government contemplated no change in the Corn-law, Lord Melbourne pounced upon a declaration made by Mr. Van Buren, and quoted it in this manner:— He could not dismiss from his mind the apprehension that it was unwise to rely entirely for the maintenance of a great portion of the population upon a foreign supply. In that opinion he had the support of Mr. Van Buren. The United States, with a great and yearly increasing population, with almost an unlimited amount of land which yet remained to be brought into cultivation, might be supposed to be in less danger than any other nation in the world; but Mr. Van Buren was of opinion, that it would be unwise to rely upon a foreign supply of food for the people of the United States. Mr. Van Buren was a sensible man, his opinion was entitled to great consideration; but this was not his opinion alone, but that of a great portion of the people of that flourishing nation. Mr. Van Buren was a great magistrate, and he (Lord Melbourne) entertained the greatest respect both for him and for the people over whom he presided; and he was justified in believing, that he would not have expressed such an opinion, if it had not agreed with the opinions of a great portion of the people of the United States. In the very next year after Lord Melbourne had thus expressed himself, his Government proposed a fixed duty upon the importation of corn, and now a Member of that Government, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer loads me with vituperation for the conduct I have pursued with respect to the sugar duties and the Corn-laws. Will he allow me to ask him, who held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Melbourne, how, with the opinions he now professes on Corn-laws, he could reconcile it to his conscience to sit quiet while the organ of the Government, the First Lord of the Treasury, expressed opinions on that subject from which he so entirely dissented? What did the right hon. Gentleman himself propose? Did he propose any measures of sound commercial policy in the year 1840. I ask the House and the country to compare what the late Chancellor of the Exchequer did with my tariff? The way in which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to supply the deficiency in the revenue was by increasing the customs and excise duties including the duty on all articles of raw produce 5 per cent., and by increasing the assessed taxes 10 per cent. That is the contrast between the financial measures of 1840 and 1842. The right hon. Gentleman advanced the duty on every article of raw produce, the elements of manufactures—he increased the duty on. wool and raw cotton; and now he is the man who accuses me of having settled nothing and unsettled everything. The right hon. Gentleman appears to think that there is nothing in the motion of a party character, and that, if carried, the Government might would give effect to it. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well not only that the success of such a motion would paralyse the functions of Government; but that, if it were to pass, no Government, which had a proper sense of what was due to the honour of public men, of what was due to the welfare of the country, could carry on the public affairs after being subjected to such an implied censure on the part of this House. The success of the motion would be an implied censure on the Government. You have not allowed the Government the usual period for bringing forward its measures. We never denied you time to bring forward the measures you might consider necessary: but you would supersede us in the functions of the Government by calling upon the House within a fort night of the commencement of the Session to take our functions out of our hands. You ask what we have done for the purpose of relieving the distress of the country. We have done other things or, at least, attempted to do other things than the reduction of the Custom's duties. We have been in office now, I think, about fifteen or sixteen months, and I think we have a right to look back upon what has been effected during that period without any sense of shame. We have been successful in terminating two wars. The noble Lord seems to deny it. Whenever the noble Lord pleases to claim exclusive credit to himself for terminating the Chinese war, and to take that credit from the present Government, then I tell the noble Lord I shall be perfectly prepared to meet him on that point, and I will voluntarily supply him with any information he may require, and which it is in my power to give. However, if it be not owing to the wisdom of our measures, at least the noble Lord will not deny that we have had the good fortune to bring to a successful termination two wars, which were absorbing the capital of this country in unproductive labour, and striking, as all wars must, a double blow, by consuming the resources both of this country and of that with which we might be carrying on a commercial intercourse. Sir, we hope to effect a reduction in the estimates of the present year. We trust we shall be enabled to do this, and although the termination of these wars has not been so distant as to enable us to make all the reductions which ultimately Parliament may expect, we hope we shall be enabled, in the course of this Session, to present estimates in the three great branches of the public ser vice—the naval, military, and civil showing a reduction of 850,000l. Thus we are at least beginning the process of reducing the estimates. For the last four or five years there has been a constant and progressive increase of the expenditure of the country, and a decrease in the revenue; and in the present Session we shall, I trust, at least commence an alteration which will I hope lead to a continued series of diminished estimates. We have been enabled to reduce the military force in Canada between 3,000 and 4,000 men; we have attempted to open British markets to colonial produce; to diminish the duties on colonial produce in every case where it entered into competition with our own, and thus to make some advance towards treating the colonies as an integral part of the empire. Sir, we have laboured to effect, and I trust we have laboured successfully, to effect an adjustment of those differences with the United States, which had been for forty years in existence, differences which had only been exasperated by delay, and which differences were the main causes for apprehending a disturbance of the relations between the two countries. We tried to soothe those differences without any compromise of British honour. Sir, we also tried to soothe that unfortunate feeling of hostility towards England, which it has been my regret to perceive has existed in some part of the French nation. We are not responsible for the origin of that hostility, which has exhibited itself in various stations of life, and amongst different classes. But, Sir, at the same time that that feeling certainly exists, as I have stated, it is a remarkable spectacle for the civilized world that the two men who hold conspicuous offices—the most conspicuous offices in the governments of their respective countries—are two men the most distinguished in each for their military achievements and their military fame. Those men have practised the art, and they have learned also the miseries of war in the fields of Toulouse and of Waterloo. They have stood opposed to each other in the field of battle— Stetimus tela aspera contra Contulimusque manus. And it is a remarkable thing to see those men the best judges of the sacrifices which war imposes upon nations, are now exerting all their influence in the two countries to inculcate lessons of peace. It is a glorious occupation for their declining years. The life of each has been protracted beyond the ordinary term of human existence, and may God grant that the lives of both may be long preserved, that they may each, in his own land, exhort their countrymen to lay aside all national animosities, and enter into a more glorious and honourable competition for increasing the amount of human happiness. And Sir, when I compare the conduct and example of these men, who have seen the morning sun arise upon living masses of fiery warriors, so many of whom were to be laid low in the grave before that sun should set—when I see them teaching lessons of peace, and using their salutary influence to discourage their countrymen from war; when I contrast their object with that of anonymous and irresponsible writers in the public journals, who are doing all they can to exasperate the differences that have prevailed, who misrepresent every action of two Governments desirous of cultivating peace; who represent in France that the minister of France is the tool of England, and in England that the Ministers of England are sacrificing the honour of England to a fear of France, I do trust that the example of these two illustrious warriors will neutralize efforts such as those to which I have referred, efforts not directed by zeal for national honour, but employed for the base purposes of encouraging national animosity or promoting personal or party interest. Sir, we have effected these things, but do I plead that as any reason why the House should reject the motion before it. If you really believe that it will contribute to diminish permanently the distress, or to relieve the difficulties of the country, do I say that any regard for what the Minister may have done, should be an obstruction to its success? No. I admit it ought not. You may approve of our foreign policy, you may think that we have laid the foundations of peace, you may hear with satisfaction that the public expenditure will be reduced; you may hope that all differences with the United States may not be adjusted, yet, that the principal causes of apprehension have been satisfactorily and honourably arranged; but still while you feel disposed to ac knowledge these services, and to approve that conduct; if you believe that the adoption of this motion will have the effect of relieving the public distress, let no consideration—I say it with perfect sincerity to this side of the House, and it is unnecessary for me say so to the other—let no consideration of party, no attachment to persons, no predilections in favour of particular men, interfere one instant, with a vote which you conscientiously believe calculated to diminish distress, to lessen privation, to lay the foundations of the commercial prosperity and permanent welfare of the State.

Lord J. Russell

I can assure the House, that if I had the disposition to address it at any length at this, the close of the debate, an impediment would pre- sent itself in the fact, that from the state of my health I am quite unable. I trust, however, that I may briefly address myself to a very few points before the discussion is brought to a termination. But before I do so, I feel myself compelled, by a sense of justice, to refer to what passed at the commencement of the right hon. Baronet's speech. If the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) were generally capable of the same construction as that which appears to have been put upon it on the Ministerial side of the House, there can be no doubt that the same feeling of indignation would be felt at expressions so unworthy of a Member of this House, and so calculated to call forth a feeling of reprobation. But I am sure that, for my own part, and I believe I can answer for most of those who sat around me, that the same sense was not attached to the hon. Member for Stockport's words as has been attached to them by the right hon. Baronet and the Gentlemen opposite. For although the hon. Gentleman did use the words "individual responsibility," I conceive that he employed them, not personally and exclusively to the right hon. Baronet in his individual character—but as applying to his responsibility as a Minister of the Crown, and, above all, to the responsibility which belongs to one who, like the right hon. Baronet, has taken the leading part in bringing forward the chief measures of the Government of which he is the head. With respect to the motion, which has been the subject of discussion for the past week, I entirely concur in what the right hon. Baronet stated at the end of his speech, and which I wish had been generally the feeling of those who sit on his side of the House during the debate; that although a resolution of the House, that it would enter into a committee of the whole House to consider of the distress of the country, might be understood to imply that the Ministers of the Crown had neglected their duty, in not proposing measures of relief, yet that if the House is convinced that the adoption of the proposition for going into committee would lead to the discovery of remedies for the distress, it is its bounden duty to adopt that course? I therefore cannot understand why so great a part of the debate has been occupied by party attacks of one kind or another. If it should appear that the House can find a remedy for the national distress by going into a committee of the whole House, it is most imperatively the duty of the House to do so, even though it should imply a censure upon the Minister of the Crown. If the motion has no such object; if it be a vague, unsubstantial, futile motion, then it is unnecessary to urge that, besides being unsubstantial, vague, and futile, it would have the effect of implying a want of confidence in the Ministry. Therefore I do not know why this spirit of party discussion—has been introduced into the debate—a spirit which, as the right hon. Baronet has justly said, when once introduced, must be met and combatted, but which, as I understood, was first infused into the debate by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and was certainly followed up and continued by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State. The object of this motion, as I conceive it to be intended by my noble Friend (Viscount Howick), is to propose, in respect to certain other articles of trade, the adoption of measures founded upon the same principles as those which were laid down when alterations were proposed and carried last year. Now that object could not be affected without great public inconvenience, unless the Minister of the Crown were to bring them forward and adopt them. But I see no reason why, if we were to go into a committee of the House, resolutions might not be adopted either in the shape of addresses to the Crown, or simply as resolutions in conformity with which the Ministers of the Crown might feel it their duty to act, and at the same time to retain their situations. I think, therefore, that the motion of my noble Friend is in that sense perfectly Parliamentary, perfectly justifiable, and perfectly consistent with constitutional principles. Then we are told in respect to this motion, as I have heard with regard to many others, that it is ill-chosen in point of time. I remember seeing some letters supposed to have been written by a Chinese mandarin in London, giving an account of the customs of this country—letters really written by a gentleman of well-known literary talent—Mr. Walter Savage Landor—in which the supposed writer says, It is quite remarkable how superstitious the people of England are about time. You constantly find in their grave and solemn Houses of Parliament, a learned Bishop, or a great statesman, rise and say, no doubt this may be an excellent measure; no doubt at some period it will be fit to adopt it; but then this is not the time. This is very singular; and sometimes they will go on for ten or fifteen years, all agreeing in the general principles of a measure, but never being fortunate enough to come to the auspicious moment at which the measure could be carried into effect. I think that this observation of the fictitious mandarin applies to the way in which the present motion has been treated. As far as sympathy for the distress is concerned, we are all agreed upon that. As far as the present principles of free-trade are concerned, we are all agreed upon them. All men of common sense agree upon these points. To be sure there has been some difference of opinion expressed with respect to them to-night by a Gentleman of considerable ability, the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Attwood); but generally speaking, we are agreed both in sympathy, and in principle. And yet feeling that sympathy, and entertaining those principles, we do not agree that it is fit at this time to make our sympathy useful, or to carry our principles out to some practical end. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) has alluded to various measures which he has proposed. Now, I take leave with respect to this very question of time, to mention one difference that exists between the right hon. Baronet and myself, it is this, that in one respect I have had the good fortune to precede him in point of time. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade has said, that you cannot well be sure that foreign nations would adopt your principles—that if you placed your laws in respect to corn and sugar on the most liberal basis, you would still have no certainty that foreign nations would follow your example. Why, in 1841 (I own it was not in 1840, the year to which the right hon. Baronet has so particularly referred)—but in 1841, I stated that I hoped that this country would set an example on the question of freedom of trade—that I was quite sure that if she did so, the example would have a beneficial effect, but that I was still more certain, that if she did not do so, foreign nations would be ready to adopt our system of restriction, and to fortify themselves by our example. Following my example! in 1842, the right hon. Baronet, at the close of the speech in which he explained the policy he proposed to pursue, said that we ought to hold out a great example to foreign nations. Why, at the very time that he made that speech, foreign nations were already considering of new plans upon the restrictive system; and we find accordingly, that before the close of the year, five or six hostile tariffs had been passed upon the very principles which the right hon. Baronet, being then in Opposition, had countenanced in 1841. I think that this is a reason why, in the first place, we should lose no further time; and a reason, in the second place, why the right hon. Baronet should proceed as speedily as possible in declaring the principles upon which he means to act. In 1841, it was generally understood, that he was in favour of the restrictive system: foreign nations, and a great portion of the people of this country supposed, at the time of the general election, that the right hon. Baronet was in favour of high protective and prohibitory duties. That was the general supposition in 1841, and it has been, in consequence of that supposition, that a great many of the evils of which we now complain have sprung up. It has been in consequence of that supposition, that many foreign nations have adopted restrictive tariffs, which it would now be difficult, if not impossible, to correct. The right hon. Baronet says, that he made a great many changes in the tariff of last year. I am quite ready to admit that he did make a great many changes; but is it not quite obvious, that whilst he leaves the two great questions of sugar and corn as exceptions to the principle which he otherwise generally adopts, foreign nations will not believe that he is sincere in the liberal views which he professes? It would, no doubt, be very desirable to have a freer access to the trade of the United States, by procuring a relaxation of their restrictive duties upon the import of British manufactured goods; but the moment that you propose to treat with them upon the subject, the first question that they asked would be "Upon what terms will you admit our corn and flour?" The same with respect to the Brazils. It would be very desirable to extend our trade in that quarter; but the moment that we made overtures to them for a relaxation of their restrictive duties, would not their first question be, "Upon what terms will you admit our sugar?" If you tell the United States that you care so much for the independence of this country, that you cannot take their corn; and if you tell the Brazils that you care so much for the abolition of the slave-trade that you cannot take their sugar, may they not answer you with perfect fairness and consistency, "We are anxious for the adoption of the principles which you profess—we are desirous of extending our trade; but if you tell us that you will not admit our corn and sugar, you must allow us to make exceptions on our side, and refuse to take your manufactured cotton." Therefore, making these two great exceptions, leaving out these two great articles from your amended tariff, you do in fact debar yourselves from making any of those arrangements which foreign countries know you wish to accomplish. There are many of these minor articles of manufacture to which I cannot now refer, with respect to which I thought the right hon. Baronet dealt too harshly and suddenly. For instance, in the case of the corkcutters, I think that if the right hon. Baronet's first intention had been adopted, that branch of manufacture in this country would have been completely ruined. The same remark applies to many other articles, the manufacture of which would have been totally destroyed if the right hon. Baronet had not modified the harsh ness of his first proposition. With respect to the South Sea whale fishery, although the right hon. Baronet was undoubtedly right in his principle, it was yet to be considered that the ships employed in the fishery generally took from three to four years before they completed their voyage. I say, then, that this interest presented a case for the exercise of that caution which the right hon. Baronet had practised in reference to matters of greater importance, and that whilst he exhibited something of over prudence in reference to two or three great interests, he displayed a very great disregard for many smaller and less powerful interests in the adoption and application of his principles of free-trade. I was not opposed to his change in the duties on whale and spermaceti oil, except so far as that of giving a single year more to afford those ships time to come home, and to allow the seamen to obtain the profits they expected on the faith of the law. Then, said the right hon. Gentleman, "I did in fact deal with great indulgence with those little interests, and you will see that, with respect to the tariff on cattle, I made a great alteration." Now that likewise is to be taken with another statement which the right hon. Baronet made. He stated to all the free-traders in the House, "I am going at once to take off the prohibitory duties upon foreign cattle, and to adopt the importation of foreign cattle upon the principle of a fixed duty." But immediately this announcement was made, the agricultural interest became alarmed, upon which the right hon. Gentleman turned round upon them and said, "Do not entertain any fear, for the quantity of cattle that will be imported will be quite trifling." And thus the question was constantly argued. If any person wished to show that the right hon. Baronet was in favour of free-trade, he pointed to the tariff; but if any one complained that the right hon. Baronet had adopted free-trade principles, then we hear that the President of the Board of Trade, has said, in another place, "Oh, no such thing; only 315 pigs have been introduced, and surely you are not afraid of 315 pigs." Therefore, to use a metaphor which I have heard used before, when you are praising the right hon. Baronet for advocating free-trade principles with respect to certain articles, you place the pea under one thimble; but when, on the other hand, you are for dismissing all discussion on the question with respect to sugar and corn, you find the pea is under another thimble. When you find that your tariff does greater benefit to the farmer than the manufacturer, then that upon which you have been priding yourselves utterly disappears, and the First Lord of the Treasury and the President and Vice-President of the Board of Trade make it their boast that so very little has been effected by the very liberal measures they have themselves introduced. If this be the case, is it not really time to ask whether, going beyond the many useful changes in the tariff with respect to oils and other articles—you should not take into consideration those two great articles of consumption, sugar and corn. We were told last year that the measures then proposed to be adopted were calculated to improve the national resources, and that by extending our trade, they would stimulate the demand for labour, and promote the general and permanent welfare of all classes of her Majesty's subjects. If that were true with respect to all those articles which were included in your bill of last year, would it not be true with regard to those great articles of commerce, sugar and corn? Would that which is true in the application of free-trade principles with respect to all those minor articles of the tariff be false, when the same principle was applied to the great articles of human subsistence? And are we really asking anything very extraordinary when we ask you to act according to your own principles, and in which you were well-supported, and the adoption of which principles we say would contribute to benefit all classes? With respect to sugar, you maintain a prohibitory duty; and with respect to corn, you levy a duty of 40 per cent. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) said, that with regard to raw produce he had fixed the duty at 5 per cent, and under; while, with respect to articles partly wrought, he had fixed 10 per cent, by his tariff. Now, without discussing whether these several amounts are correct or not, may I not ask, supposing the right hon. Baronet adopted the same principle with respect to the articles of sugar and corn, would not the same consequences follow—would not the demand for labour be increased—would not trade be improved—nay, would not much greater advantages result from the adoption of the same principle with respect to those two articles, than had resulted from the application to the whole of the articles contained in the tariff of last year? We contend that these consequences would result from such a course; but there are those who say, on the contrary, that English labour would be displaced. Now, I can understand all that argument from those who are enemies to free-trade, and who are opposed to the right hon. Baronet upon the tariff; but that the right hon. Baronet should hold such an argument, and maintain such a doctrine with respect to sugar and corn, and yet advocate the very reverse of the doctrine in reference to all other articles of trade, is inconceivable to any man of plain under standing. But what, in my judgment, makes it a most dangerous course for this House to adopt such a distinction in the application of the principle is the fact, that it is known that the greater part of this House, and almost wholly the other House of Parliament, is composed of the holders of the land of this country. I was speaking to a person last year about his trade being ruined by the tariff; and he told me that he was a bootmaker, and that he was well satisfied he could not stand a competition with the French boot makers. When I was expounding to him as well as I could the principles of Adam Smith, and other eminent political economists, he rather defeated me by saying, "I should have no apprehensions upon the matter, if I could live as cheaply in London as my competitor can live in Paris; if," said he," you will put me in the same position as my rival." But that is what we will not do with respect to all those persons who are not of any distinction in the country, who have no seats in Parliament, who have no place in the cabinet, and who are not decorated with stars and blue ribbons. You treat all other persons quite differently from the holders of land. I will not now enter into the latter part of the speech of the right hon. Baronet, in which he referred to the comparative merits of the late and the present Government; but I must for a moment allude to one part of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire (Lord F. Egerton), who also asked me if I would now propose an 8s. duty? The noble Lord said, that in case I should propose it, and should carry it, I should be subjected to a bloody audit, and to menaces of a very unpleasant nature. The noble Lord may think it a matter of triumph over me, if he is right in supposing that if an 8s. duty were proposed, it might not now settle the question of the Corn-laws. But what I stated last year was what my opinion at that time was, and still is, that in 1841 a duty of 8s. would have led to a settlement of this question for many years. At present the question is in the hands of the right hon. Baronet. It is for him to propose any alteration—either an alteration in the sliding scale, or the changing of it to a fixed duty; or if the right hon. Baronet should think proper to do so, and from some words which escaped him he would seem to signify that he should prefer such a change to any other, a total repeal of the law. All I have to say is, that I hope the noble Lord and those who go on defending and maintaining the existing Corn-law will take warning by some other events which have happened in our own day with respect to measures upon which they were as unwilling to give way as they are upon the present question. I perfectly remember when Mr. Canning having at a former time offered various securities for effecting Catholic emancipation—such as giving a certain influence over the Irish Catholic clergy—being asked whether he would still propose them? and that he replied, "No, the time is past for talking of securities—I will not be a security-grinder all my life;" and what did we afterwards see? We saw, not by Mr. Canning, but by the right hon. Baronet himself—the great enemy of that measure—a full concession, without any securities, given with respect to that very demand of the Catholics. Then, with regard to Parliamentary Reform. I brought forward various measures of reform, and I endeavoured to pare them down to that shape which I thought would give any chance of practically improving the representation of the country. I pared the measure down so far, that I once proposed only to give Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham the right to return Members to this House. That was contumeliously rejected, the right hon. Baronet being then a Minister of the Crown, and the rejection of that proposition was regarded as a great triumph. I was defeated, and Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds were held unworthy to have seats in the House of Commons. But what happened two years afterwards? The leaders of that very party—one of them in the other House, and no less a person than Lord Ellenborough, the present Governor-general of India stated a plan of reform prepared by them, not giving three towns, but twenty or thirty towns, the power of sending representatives to Parliament, while it also provided for the disfranchisement of a great number of boroughs. Thus, in the same way, that which was a triumph for the moment when the proposal for an 8s. duty was defeated in 1841, might not be the means of ultimately preventing a much larger measure than would have satisfied the country at that time. This I believe is quite true, that there is no feeling in any part of the country neither amongst the farmers who have wished to see the law continued any more than amongst the manufacturers, who would wish to see it repealed—there is no feeling among any class that the law as at present enacted is likely to be of long continuance. If that be the case, and I fully believe it to be so, is it not desirable that now, and not next year, or the year after, there should be a settlement of this question? If you say you will endeavour to settle it now, your arrangements with foreign powers, especially with the United States of America, may abrogate and destroy many of those high restrictions which are operating against your manufactures, as well as against their own prosperity. If Ministers were tempted now to act on their own principles, they may obtain new markets and new means for the employment of our population. If they wait, they may not be able to secure the same advantages, and to the same extent; and with respect to foreign countries not to nearly the same extent. What in the mean time may be the progress of distress and ruin in this country, proceeding from bad to worse, it is not for any man to say. For myself, I trust that the House will assent to the motion of my noble Friend, for now is the moment when the principles agreed upon by nine-tenths of the House may receive with safety their full accomplishment.

Mr. Cobden

I rise to explain, being in the most extraordinary position in which any Member was ever placed. When the right hon. Baronet at the commencement of his speech assumed that I had referred to him personally, I thought that the word "personally" was used in the ordinary sense of personally offensive to him. I had not the least suspicion of any other meaning being attached to what the right hon. Baronet said. After I sat down, I heard an interpretation put upon his language which I shall not now particularise, and the remarks of the noble Lord the Member for London (for which I thank him), have given such a definite form to the insinuations of the right hon. Baronet, that I rise not for the purpose of offering any explanation ["Order"] beyond that which I gave. ["Order."]

The Speaker

I must inform the hon. Member that he has no right to address the House but for the purpose of explanation.

Mr. Cobden

again rose [amid cries of "Order."] I had no intention of offering any explanation until I had given the right hon. Baronet an opportunity of giving an explicit explanation of what he said. ["Order," and confusion.]

The Speaker

I have already stated to the hon. Member, that he cannot make any observations but in explanation of something that he said.

Mr. Cobden

As such is the rule of the House, I beg to say that in what I stated I intended—and I believe every body but the right hon. Baronet understood what I meant [" No, no."] to throw the responsibility of his measures upon him as the head of the Government; and in using the word "individually," I used it as he uses the first pronoun, when he says, "I passed the tariff, and you supported me." I treat him as the Government, as he is in the habit of treating himself.

Sir R. Peel

I am bound to accept the construction which the hon. Member puts upon the language he employed. He used the word "individually" in so marked a way, that I and others put upon it a different interpretation. He supposes the word "individually" to mean public responsibility in the situation I hold; and I admit it at once. I thought that the words he employed, "I hold you individually responsible," might have an effect which I think many other Gentlemen who heard them might anticipate.

Mr. Roebuck

At this time of night I am not about to make a speech, but to ask the House to give me the opportunity of making an explanation on the part of a person not now present. It refers to a remarkable expression on the part of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden), applied to a noble Friend of mine in another place. He said that he did not believe a certain report, but that if he could do so, he should consider it, I think he said, the result of mania. I was wrong in the words I imputed to him. He said that he should consider it a maniacal display; but I am somewhat startled when I come to make even an explanation on this point from a very remarkable circumstance which happened to myself previous to this debate. The hon. Member for Stockport addressed me personally as a friend of the noble Lord to whom he alluded, and he made use of the same expressions, I afterwards took the liberty of applying to him to know if he were about to offer any remarks upon an observation which had been made in another place; because, if he were, I should be here to give the requisite explanation. His answer to me was, "I would advise you not to have anything to do with him—not to mix yourself up with him—for if you do, the Corn-law League will go down to Bath and turn you out." I feel nothing but contempt for any attempt of that description, and very little respect for the prudence which suggested the observation. I think it my duty to give this explanation and I am sorry that it has been thus forced upon me; but, on the part of my noble Friend I make it explicitly, and in terms which cannot be misunderstood. I make it on behalf of a long-tried, and I will say, in spite of any understanding by the hon. Member, a somewhat distinguished Friend, of liberal opinions as to trade, science, law and morals. Among other things he is a warm friend of freedom of trade, and more especially of freedom of trade in corn. Having strongly and deeply at heart the success of that measure, the noble Lord thought he was giving a just and a fair warning, which, from his position and long experience, he well might give, to those who were acting, as he believed, with good intentions, but who were connected with very imprudent persons. He said,— Being a friend of Corn-law reform, I would beg and entreat the Corn-law League to separate themselves as soon as possible from those imprudent persons. He added, that there had been insinuations of a kind, (and he put it in purposely veiled and guarded phraseology) which a late event had illustrated in a most painful and woeful manner. He again entreated, in language more powerful than I can employ, as one deeply interested in the success of the great measure for which they were banded together, that the members of the Anti-Corn-law League would separate themselves from that class of men who would use such dangerous expressions. Such was the advice which has been described as the result of a disordered imagination. On the 6th July (it may be very painful to allude to it, but it must be done) there was a meeting of the delegates of the Anti-Corn-law League, and their proceedings were reported next day in the Morning Chronicle. The Chronicle must have been read by the persons who were at that meeting, and they must therefore have been aware of what was reported. It so happened, however, that the noble Lord did not read that report in the newspaper, but he did read it as taken from thence in the Quarterly Review. The Quarterly Review was not quite so ephemeral a production as a newspaper; and it was, therefore, more likely to be known and commented upon. The noble Lord expressed his pain that some means were not taken either to give an explanation of those remarkable expres- sions, or that the tried Friends of the repeal of the Corn-laws did not separate themselves from such advisers. I must, Sir, discharge my duty, but I never had a more painful one cast upon me. I must, Sir, read in vindication of my noble Friend, that paragraph which he thus quoted: the name of the Gentleman to whom allusion was made I must mention also, and it is incumbent upon him, even at this late period, to explain away the meaning, or at once to justify himself before mankind. At the meeting of the 6th July the Rev. Mr. Bailey, of Sheffield, said. There were several operatives who refused to communicate to him the history of their sufferings; they told him they knew his intentions were charitable, but as they thought his energies were made with a view to petitioning Parliament, they refused to enter into any disclosures. 'It was not words,' they said, 'would move Parliament, but force they should have if they did not change their system!' That was, no doubt, violent language; but it was not the oppressed, but the oppressors, that would be answerable for the consequences of the excitement created by the sufferings endured under our present legislation. 'He heard of a Gentleman, 'a gentleman! 'who in private company said, that if one hundred persons cast lots, and the lot should fall upon him, he would take the lot to deprive Sir Robert Peel of life. He felt convinced that no such attempt ought to be made under any pretence whatever; but he was persuaded of this, that when he (Sir Robert Peel) went to his grave, there would be but few to shed one tear over it.' Now, Sir, it must be clear that the hon. Member in the expression which he used this night has been misunderstood by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House; but I ask the hon. Member if he did not see the danger of using such language? when in an assembly like this there may possibly be a misconception of words like his, so very different from those I have quoted, how dangerous, at such a time, must be the use of such language by the parties against whom, as a real warning, honest and sincere, my noble Friend gave the advice which is now described as the offspring of a maniacal imagination. Passion does sometimes destroy people's judgment; and I believe that if the hon. Gentleman will retire within himself, and will weigh well the words he has used this night, he will find that there may be error on his part as well as on those on whom he is so ready to cast aspersions.

Mr. Bankes

Sir, after the length of this debate, I shall not detain the House, and I should not have risen now had I not been so unfortunate as not to catch your eye, when I rose immediately after the hon. Member for Stockport. It may, perhaps, be supposed that some of those emissaries which were to be got ready to send to Bath, to displace the hon. and learned Member from his seat, may be some of the same parties, as the hon. Member for Stockport informs me, have been sent into Dorsetshire by that same Anti-Corn-law League to examine the property belonging to me, and the condition of the labourers upon it. How long those emissaries may have been on my property, or in my neighbourhood, the hon. Member did not inform the House. I have been absent from that part of the country for some few weeks, and if those emissaries have been there so long, it may be that the condition of that neighbourhood is in the state which has been described by the hon. Member. With their tracts and their pamphlets sent over the hills and through the valleys, and pushed into the doors and the windows of the cottages, I cannot tell what effect they may have produced, and that they might rapidly produce an effect of that nature must be sufficiently evident after what the House has witnessed this night. I have only boldly and simply to state, that the assertions of the hon. Member, as to that part of the country, are not warranted by fact. That the condition of the labourers there is not such as I could wish, I have already admitted in this House; and I then stated, that whatever was the cause, whether or not it was in consequence of that alteration in the Corn-laws and the tariff which was made in conformity with the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, it is unquestionably true that the state of the peasantry there is much worse now than it was this time last year. The hon. Member has been pleased to make me out as the decided enemy of the Anti-Corn-law League: that designation I am willing to adopt. But I tell the hon. Member that any endeavour I may use, or any speech which I have made—and some speech of mine has unhappily excited his irritation—will not have the effect of damaging the Anti-Corn-law League so much as his speech this night has done.

Mr. Cobden

again rose and said, I wish, Sir, to give an explanation in consequence of what fell from the hon. Member for Bath. He has totally misrepresented my words in reference to—["Oh, oh"]—I beg to remind hon. Members down there [pointing to the Bar], that when I have leave from the Chair to use the privilege of explanation—I will use it fully and fairly, I have, Sir, been misrepresented. I did not describe the eminent individual to whom the hon. and learned Member has alluded as a maniac. What I did say was that I would treat the assertion, if proved to me to have been made, as the emanation of an ill-regulated intellect, and not as the offspring of a malignant spirit. When I used the word maniac it was when I said that I consoled myself with the belief that M'Naughten was a maniac. In reference to what fell from the hon. and learned Member as to what took place on this question with him. What was said passed in the library of the House of Commons, where I thought that conversations were considered as private. I treated the conversation as private, and I should always treat as private any conversation between me and any hon. Member in the library of this House. I am not acquainted with the forms or rules of this House, and probably I may be wrong. As to what the hon. and learned Member says fell from me by the way of threat, I put it to him. [Cries of "spoke, spoke."] It is highly necessary that I should explain for I should consider myself un-worty a seat in this House, if I had ever uttered the words attributed to me by the hon. and learned Member in the menacing way he has described. I will explain what passed between us. I am not here to interfere with any hon. Member's seat. I am not here to dispose of boroughs. The hon. and learned Member asked me whether I intended to allude to the eminent individual who has been referred to, because, if I did, he wished to be present. I asked him whether he were about to justify Lord Brougham, and he said that he was. The conversation then passed to the circumstances when the hon. and learned Member opposed the Sabbath Bill in the House, and lost his seat in consequence.

The Speaker

I think the hon. Member has exceeded the proper limits of an explanation. The hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, perceive that I cannot permit him to reply to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bath.

Mr. Hume

Surely when an hon. Gentleman whose conduct has been brought before the House, states to that House that he has not been fairly represented, he cannot be prevented from entering into an explanation. I understand the hon. Member to be about to state what did take place, to remote any undue impression which may have arisen.

Mr. Cobden

I should not have alluded to the conversation about the Sabbath Bill, but that it was essential to the explanation which I was about to offer. [Cries of "spoke, spoke."]

Mr. Mangles

I rise to order. I appeal to the justice of the House whether the hon. Member ought not to be heard. A grievous charge has been brought against him, and if it is a matter of indulgence—if it is a little against the rules of the House—I think that it is only fair that he should, in explanation of his conduct, be allowed to show that which he says actually occurred.

Mr. Hume

I beg to move that this House do now adjourn.

The Speaker

I am sure that whatever the hon. Member for Stockport may have to say in justification of his conduct, the House will be ready to hear; and if he will confine himself to such observations, I am sure the House will hear him. If the hon. Member goes into a general reply in answer to the Speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, I feel it to be my duty to stop him.

Mr. Cobden

I will confine myself strictly to what I consider necessary to an explanation of what passed between the hon. and learned Gentleman and myself. When I alluded to the Sabbath Bill, and drew his attention to the fact, that in opposing that bill the hon. and learned Member had drawn upon him the hostility of the dissenting minister, I then stated, "If you justify Lord Brougham in this attack on the ministers who attend the conference of the Anti-Corn-law League, you will get into trouble at Bath, and you will be considered the opponent of that body, and you will have your Anti-Corn-law tea parties, and some Members of the League visiting Bath." Now, I come to the head" and front of my offending," that I menaced the hon. Member for Bath. I deny it. The spirit of my remarks was in strict friendship. I wish the House to understand that the hon. and learned Member threatened no attack on me in this House. He was proposing to justify Lord Brougham in attacking these Christian ministers, could have no grievance against him; and I repeat it, that in the remarks I made, I had not the most distant idea of menacing him, and so far from wishing to see him out of Parliament, he is the last man I should wish to see removed from the seat which he now holds.

Viscount Howick

, in reply, amidst much confusion, was understood to say, that after the lengthened debate which had taken place on this question, he felt it to be impossible for him to enter into a full discussion of the varied and various arguments which had been employed on both sides of the House. The right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, in the speech which he had addressed to the House, had said that to carry a proposition such as that which was now before the House would be to paralyse the efforts of the Government; and he had heaped ridicule on the right hon. Gentleman, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the suggestions which he had offered. He felt, that if he had on this occasion come forward with any distinct proposition in the present stage of the proceedings, he should have adopted a course which was not parliamentary; and which would have subjected him also to the same ridicule which his right hon. Friend had experienced. For his own part, be begged to say that he had not said one word par taking of any party or personal consideration. He had discussed the question solely as affecting the highest and most important interests of this country—that was the spirit in which it ought to have been discussed; but if that was the opinion of the right hon. Baronet, he wished that he had inculcated that opinion in the minds of his Colleagues. What was the first word of party discussion which had been introduced? It was introduced by the right hon. the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, who had said that there never was a Government which made so little advance in improving our commercial regulations as that which had existed between 1830 and 1841. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had followed in the same line, and the great staple of his speech was a tissue of party considerations. But he would adhere to the rule which he had laid down for himself, and would abstain from all further reference to this part of the question. All he asked the House was to determine whether they would or would not relieve the distresses of the people by an extension of the principles of free-trade. The Members of her Majesty's Government declared that about these principles there was no dispute; but in the very same breath they refused to adopt them in practice. The right hon. Baronet said that we made no consideration of circumstances; it was because we did take into consideration the circumstances of the country that he had felt it essential to the benefit of all classes of the community to submit the present motion to the House. There were other points to which he should have felt it to have been his duty to refer, had he replied at an earlier hour; but at that period of the night he would not trespass longer on the attention of the House.

Mr. Ferrand

said, that it had been urged upon him by several hon. Members on his side of the House not to trouble it to divide on the amendment which he had proposed; under these circumstances he should, with the permission of the House, withdraw it.

Amendment withdrawn. The House divided on the original motion:—Ayes 191; Noes 306:—Majority 115.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Childers, J. W.
Ainsworth, P. Christie, W. D.
Aldam, W. Clay, Sir W.
Anson, hon. Col, Clive, E. B.
Archbold, R. Cobden, R.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Colborne, hn. W.N.R.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Bannerman, A. Collins, W.
Barclay, D. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Craig, W. G.
Barnard, E. G. Crawford, W. S.
Bell, J. Currie, R.
Berkleley, hon. C. Curteis, H. B.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Dalmeny, Lord
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Dashwood, G. H.
Bernal, R. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Bernal, Capt. Denison, W. J.
Blake, M. J. Denison, J. E.
Blake, Sir V. Dennistoun, J.
Blewitt, R. J. D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C.T.
Bowring, Dr.
Brocklehurst, J. Divett, E.
Brotherton, J. Duke, Sir J.
Buller, C. Duncan, Visct.
Buller, E. Duncan, G.
Busfeild, W. Duncombe, T.
Byng, G. Dundas, Admiral
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Dundas, D.
Cavendish, hon. C.C. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Cavendish, hon. G.H. Easthope, Sir J.
Chapman, B. Ebrington, Visct.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Paget, Lord A.
Ellice, E. Palmerston, Visct.
Elphinstone, H. Parker, J.
Esmonde, Sir T. Pechell, Capt.
Etwall, R. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Evans, W. Philips, G. R.
Ewart, W. Philipps, Sir R. B. P.
Ferguson, Col. Philips, M.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Plumridge, Capt.
Fitzwilliam, hn. G. W. Ponsonby, hon. C. F.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. Ponsonby, hon. J. G.
Forster, M. Protheroe, E.
Fox, C. R. Pulsford, R.
Gibson, T. M. Ramsbottom, J.
Gore, hon. R. Rice, E. R.
Granger, T. C. Ricardo, J. L.
Gratton, H. Roche, Sir D.
Greenaway, C. Roebuck, J. A.
Grey, rt. hon Sir G. Ross, D. R.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Rumbold, C. E.
Hall, Sir B. Russell, Lord E.
Hallyburton, Lord J. Rutherford, A.
Hastie, A. Scholefield, J.
Hawes, B. Scott, R.
Hay, Sir A. L. Scrope, G. P.
Hayter, W. G. Seale, Sir J. H.
Heathcoat, J. Seymour, Lord
Heron, Sir R. Shelburne, Earl of
Hindley, C. Smith, B.
Hollond, R. Smith, J. A.
Horsman, E. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Howard, hon. C.W.G. Standish, C.
Howard, Lord Stanley, hon. W. O.
Howard, hn. E. G. G. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Howard, Sir R. Stanton, W. H.
Howick, Visct. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Hume, J. Stewart, P. M.
Humphery, Mr. Ald. Stuart, Lord J.
Hutt, W. Stuart, W. V.
James, W. Strickland, Sir G.
Jervis, J. Strutt, E.
Johnson, Gen. Tancred, H. W.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Thornely, T.
Langston, J. H. Towneley, J.
Layard, Capt. Turner, E.
Listowell, Earl of Villiers, hon. C.
Macauley, rt. hon. T. B. Vivian, J. H.
McTaggart, Sir J. Wakley, T.
Mangles, R. D. Walker, R.
Majoribanks, S. Wall, C. B.
Marshall, W. Wallace, R.
Marsland, H. Ward, H. G.
Martin, J. Watson, W. H.
Mitcalfe, H. Wawn, J. T.
Mitchell, T. A. White, H.
Morris, D. Wilde, Sir T.
Morison, Gen. Williams, W.
Muntz, G. F. Wilshere, W.
Murphy, F. S. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Murray, A. Wood, B.
Napier, Sir C. Wood, C.
O'Brien, J. Wood, G. W.
O'Brien, W. S. Wrightson, W. B.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Yorke, H. R.
Ogle, S. C. H. TELLERS.
Ord, W. Hill, Lord M.
Paget, Col. Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Clive, Visct.
Acland, T. D. Clive, hon. R. H.
A'Court, Capt. Cochrane, A.
Ackers, J. Collett, W. R.
Acton, Col. Colquhoun, J. C.
Adderley, C. B. Colville, C. R.
Alford, Visct. Compton, H. C.
Allix, J. P. Copeland, Mr. Aid.
Antrobus, E. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Courtenay, Lord
Archdall, Capt. Creswell, B.
Arkwright, G. Cripps, W.
Ashley, Lord Damer, hon. Col.
Astell, W. Darby, G.
Bagge, W. Dawnay, hon. W. H.
Bailey, J. Denison, E. B.
Bailey, J. Jun. Dick, Q.
Baillie, Col. Dickinson, F. H.
Baillie, H. J. Disraeli, B.
Baird, W. Dodd, G.
Baldwin, B. Douglas, Sir H.
Balfour, J. M. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Bankes, G. Douglas, J. D. S.
Baring, hon. W. B. Douro, Marquis of
Barneby, J. Dowdeswell, W.
Barrington, Visct. Drummond, H. H
Baskerville, T. B. M. Duffield, T.
Bateson, R. Dugdale, W. S.
Beckett, W. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bell, M. Duncombe, hon. O.
Benett, J. East, J. B.
Bentinck, Lord G. Eastnor, Visct.
Beresford, Major Eaton, R. J.
Blackburn, J. T. Egerton, W. T.
Blackstone, W. S. Egerton, Sir P.
Blakemore, R. Eliot, Lord
Bodkin, W. H. Emlyn, Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Escott, B.
Borthwick, P. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Botfield, B. Farnham, E. B.
Bradshaw, J. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Bramston, T. W. Feilden, W.
Broadley, H. Ferrand, W. B.
Broadwood, H. Filmer, Sir E.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Brownrigg, J. S. Fitzroy, Capt.
Bruce, Lord E. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bruce, C. L. C. Flower, Sir J.
Buck, L. W. Follett, Sir W. W.
Buckley, E. Ffolliot, J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Forbes, W.
Bunbury, T. Forester, hn. G. C. W.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Fox, S. L.
Burroughes, H. N. Fuller, A. E.
Campbell, Sir H. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Campbell, A. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Cardwell, E. Gladstone, J. N.
Castlereagh, Visct. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Chapman, A. Godson, R.
Chelsea, Visct. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Chetwode, Sir J. Gore, M.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Gore, W. R. O.
Chute, W. L. W. Goring, C.
Clayton, R. R. Goulburn, rt. hn. H.
Clerk, Sir G. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Granby, Marquis of Mackinnon, W. A.
Greenall, P. Maclean, D.
Greene, T. Mainwaring, T.
Gregory, W. H. Manners, Lord C. S.
Grimston, Visct. Manners, Lord J.
Grogan, E. March, Earl of
Hale, R. B. Marsham, Visct.
Halford, H. Martin, C. W.
Hamilton, J. H. Martin, T. B.
Hamilton, G. A. Marton, G.
Hamilton, W. J. Master, T. W. C.
Hampden, R. Masterman, J.
Hanmer, Sir J. Maunsell, T. P.
Harcourt, G. G. Meynell, Capt.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Mildmay, H. St. J.
Hardy, J. Miles, P. W. S.
Heathcote, G. J. Miles, W.
Heathcote, Sir W. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Morgan, O.
Henley, J. W. Munday, E. M.
Henniker, Lord Murray, C. R. S.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Neeld, J.
Herbert, hon. S. Neville, R.
Hervey, Lord A. Newport, Visct.
Hillsborough, Earl of Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Hinde, J. H. Norreys, Lord
Hodgson, R. Northland, Visct.
Hogg, J. W. O'Brien, A. S.
Holmes, hon. W. A. Owen, Sir J.
Hope, hon. C. Packe, C. W.
Hope, A. Paget, Lord W.
Hope, G. W. Palmer, R.
Hornby, J. Patten, J. W.
Houldsworth, T. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hughes, W. B. Peel, J.
Hussey, T. Pemberton, T.
Ingestre, Visct. Pennant, hon. Col.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Pigot, Sir R.
Irving, J. Plumptre, J. P.
James, Sir W. C. Polhill, F.
Jermyn, Earl Pollock, Sir F.
Johnstone, Sir J. Powell, Col.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Praed, W. T.
Jones, Capt. Pringle, A.
Kelburne, Visct. Pusey, P.
Kemble, H. Ramsay, W. R.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E Rashleigh, W.
Knight, H. G. Reid, Sir J. R.
Knight, F. W. Richards, R.
Knightley, Sir C. Rolleston, Col.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Law, hon. C. E. Round, C. G.
Lawson, A. Round, J.
Lefroy, A. Rous, hon. Capt.
Legh, G. C. Rushbrooke, Col.
Leicester, Earl of Russell, C.
Lennox, Lord A. Russell. J. D. W.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Lincoln, Earl of Sanderson, R.
Lockhart, W. Sandon, Visct.
Long, W. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Lowther, J. H. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Lowther, hon. Col. Sheppard, T.
Lyall, G. Shirley, E. J.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Shirley, E. P.
Mackenzie, T. Sibthorp, Col.
Mackenzie, W. F. Smith, A.
Smythe, Sir H. Vane, Lord H.
Smythe, hon. G. Verner, Col.
Smollett, A. Vivian, J. E.
Somerset, Lord G. Walsh, Sir. J. B.
Sotheron, T. H. S. Walter, J.
Stanley, Lord Welby, G. E.
Steward, J. Wellesley, Lord C.
Stuart, H. Whitmore, T. C.
Sturt, H. C. Wilbraham, hon. R. B.
Sutton, hon. H. M. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Tennent, J. E. Wodehouse, E.
Thesiger, F. Wood, Col.
Thompson, Mr. Ald. Wood, Col. T.
Thornhill, G. Worsley, Lord
Tollemache, hn. F. J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Tollemache, J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Tomline, G. Wyndham, Col. C.
Trench, Sir F. W. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Trevor, hon. G. R Young, J.
Trollope, S. Sir J.
Trotter, J. TELLERS.
Turner, C. Fremantle, Sir T.
Tyrrell, Sir J. T. Baring, H.
Paired off (Not Official).
Barron, Sir H. Repton, G. W. J.
Bellew, Sir M. Lindsay, H.
Berkeley, Capt. hon. F. Seymour, Sir H.
Bryan, Major Price, R.
Bulkeley, Sir R. Williams, T. P.
Cave, O. Burdett, Sir F.
Carew, hon. S. Dupre, A.
Clements, Lord Bruen, Col.
Dalrymple, Capt. Taylor, Capt.
Drax, E. Wyndham, W.
Dundas, F. Kerrison, Sir E.
Fielden, J. Gore, Ormsby
French, F. Alexander, N.
Gill, T. Irton, S.
Guest, Sir J Waddington, H. S.
Hatton, Capt. Adare, Lord
Howard, P. Johnstone, H.
Howard, hon. Capt. H. Codrington, C. W.
Heneage, E. Ossulston, Lord
Johnstone, A. Vere, Sir C. B.
Leveson, Lord Scott, hon. F.
Loch, J. Egerton, Lord F.
Maher, V. Wynn, Sir W.
Maule, hon. F. Neeld, J.
Morrison, J. Palmer, G.
O'Brien, C. Kirk, P.
O'Conor, D. Saunders, D.
Oswald, J. Cartwright, W. H.
Phillpotts, J. Mahon, Lord
Pigot, R. Jocelyn, Lord
Powell, C. Kerr, D.
Power, J. Vesey, hon. T.
Redingote, T. Hodgson, F.
Rawdon, Col. Cole, hon. A.
Russell, Lord J. Grant, Sir A.
Rundle J. Lopez, Sir R.
Sheil, rt. hon. It. Christopher, R. A.
Somerville, Sir W. Newry, Lord
Stock, Dr. Coote, Sir C.
Trowbridge, Sir T., bt. Somerton, Lord
Tuite, H. M. Conolly, Col.
Vivian, Capt. H. Planta, rt. hon. J.
Westenra, hon. Col. Ashley, hon. H.
White, Col. Bernard, Lord
Wyse, T. Hayecs, Sir E.