HC Deb 09 June 1843 vol 69 cc1303-5

The Order of the Day for a committee of the whole House on the Canadian Wheat Bill having been read,

On the question that the Speaker do leave the Chair,

Mr. Lawson

said a few words in support of the bill.

Mr. Hume

was glad the hon. Member had had an opportunity of expressing his opinion that the bill would be beneficial both to agriculture and manufactures. He was only sorry the advantage to the country would be so small. The question was solely one of principle. The right hon. Baronet had said he would stand by a sliding-scale, but this measure was a complete contradiction to this declaration, and showed that the cabinet, as regarded the Corn-laws, were completely divided. He thought this bill would make no very great change, one way or other; but as the Canadians wished to have it, he regarded it as a politic and wise measure, though, as far as the country gentlemen's interests were concerned, it would affect them very little. Other causes were at work, which would affect them in a very different way, and they would have reason to regret the obstinacy with which they had supported monopoly from other causes than the Canada Bill. His object was to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the effect of the corn monopoly in interrupting the intercourse which England ought to carry on with the civilised world. That was the great evil by which commerce, at the present moment, was so straitened and shrunk. It would he true wisdom and policy in the agriculture to extend the principle of this bill to ail corn coming direct from the United States. If they did not extend the market for British goods, trade would still further decline, there would be no moans of finding employment for our increasing population, and there would be no return to the agriculturist for his capital. Look to the present state of our manufactures, even that of cotton, in which we most excelled. Something was to be learned from the circumstances connected with the seizure of 400 bales of calico lately imported from the United States. It was important to the commercial interests to know that so great was the progress which America had made in the cotton manufacture, that the export from the United States of the coarser qualities, was greater than that from England. Even at this moment Bengal was receiving them from America, though paying duly double that on English goods. Instead, however, of any measure being proposed to relieve us from our difficulties, there was a proposal to increase the taxes, and he hoped the House of Commons would not consent to such a monstrous demand. It was an insult to the people to squander away their money in supporting new branches of the royal family. Of what use was it that Ministers should act as the leaders of the House with a large majority at their backs, if they were afraid to give effect to those principles which they had declared to be just? The Canada measure would do nothing to relieve our difficulties. He called on the right hon. Baronet to take into consideration the state of the whole commerce of the country. To look before him in time, and not to suffer its energies to be undermined in every quarter of the globe. Look at Ireland, into which Government were pouring troops, without any reason. They were treating Ireland as they had done Canada, before the revolt. Let them do justice to it, as they now did to Canada, and they would not require that increase of military force which would add to the public expenses and to our financial difficulties. He thought it most discreditable to a strong Government, that they should shrink from bringing forward the measures they knew to be called for, when they had the power of carrying them.

Mr. G. Palmer

designated the bill as most mischievous to the agricultural interest. As the House had allowed the second reading, he would not oppose the present stage, but he wished to know by what provision the noble Lord would prevent American flour from being brought into this country under the pretence of being of Canadian manufacture. He contended it would be impossible to do so. The admission of American corn free of duty, flour being excluded, would not be half so injurious as this measure. No corn would be introduced by the bill, but flour only. Now American flour, after having paid the duty, would be better six months after it had been ground than any English wheat that could be produced. What was the cause—whether it were attributable to the climate he knew not—but it was the fact, that American flour, three years after importation, was as perfectly good in quality as if it was just out of the mill; but he should like to see the English flour that would be good six months after grinding.

Lord Worsley

did not feel justified in offering further opposition at this stage of the bill.

Colonel Sibthorp

expressed his regret at being compelled to vote against the Government on this occasion, and expressed his intention of taking the sense of the House on the third reading of the bill. He believed that the right hon. Baronet meant well; but he must be pardoned if he said that he believed in this instance the right hon. Gentleman erred in his judgment.

House in committee on the bill—bill passed through the committee.

The House resumed. Report to be received.