HC Deb 14 March 1843 vol 67 cc877-963
Mr. Ward

rose to bring, for the second time, under the consideration of the House, a motion, which, whether he looked to its intrinsic importance, or to the indisputable justice of what he asked, must, he was convinced, have met with a very different reception on the part of the House, from that which it experienced last year, but for the disadvantageous circumstances under which it was introduced. These words implied a censure upon himself; for, as the originator of the motion, it was his duty so to have framed it both as to form, and time, as to ensure to it the largest possible amount of support. He meant to do so; but, upon calmer reflection, he was willing to admit that however just and reasonable it might appear to him, and to those who sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House, that inquiry should precede legislation, nay more, however unjust, and unreasonable they might think it that parties interested should assume that, which was not only the proper preliminary, but the only admissible basis, for any legislation affecting the free importation of foreign corn; when once the die was cast, and the Government had made up its mind to consider the question of right as settled, and that determination had been confirmed by large majorities in that House, he had no right to suppose that the right hon. Baronet opposite would consent to suspend the progress of a measure, which, he was certain of carrying, in order to go, with his opponents, into an inquiry which might have delayed indefinitely the passing of the New Corn-law Bill. The right hon. Baronet hit this blot, as in general he hit every blot that his adversaries gave him an opportunity of hitting. He touched lightly and cursorily upon the merits of the motion, but he dwelt largely, and with great force, upon the time and circumstances, under which it was brought forward. The right hon. Baronet said that, It might or might not be proper to appoint a committee to inquire into the peculiar burthens on land, but it was most improper to do so, if the consequence were to be that Parliament must leave the landowners, the tenantry, all who derive their income from the production or the sale of corn, in a state of utter uncertainty as to its intention, until the termination of an inquiry which might be protracted for two or three years. Some of the Members on his own side of the House took the same view, and among them, the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland (Viscount Howick) and they took it upon intelligible grounds. They said that the Corn Bill of last Session, though a bad law, was a better law than that which we had before it. It was a step in the right direction, and they took it with the firm determination of taking another step as soon as they could. He ventured to dissent from this opinion. He thought that where a change of such vast importance to all parties concerned was contemplated, the first thing to look to was stability—something that would satisfy the country—that would last; and he felt convinced that nothing could prove either satisfactory, or lasting, that did not begin with a searching inquiry into the two subjects comprehended in his motion,—the pe- culiar burthens, and the peculiar exemptions, of land. To legislate without this, was to build a house without a foundation—to construct a machine of tremendous power for evil, or for good, upon a false principle; and it was no answer to those, who said that the principle was false, and offered to prove it, to tell them, wait until the machine is finished, and then we will inquire. He was glad, however, that he had now got rid of this whole class of objections. He was glad, that he could now bring forward a substantive motion. He conceded nothing in doing so. He did not believe that there existed any burthens upon land, and he did believe that there were exemptions in favour of land without a parallel in the history of the world. But those who had always founded their right to protection upon certain burthens which were supposed to exist, could not shrink from the inquiry which their own acts and speeches had provoked. That was the ground for the motion with which he should conclude that night. It was for others to prove that the grounds on which Parliament had legislated for a number of years, to the detriment of the country, as he conceived, were just grounds. He supposed he might assume, as an abstract principle—and it was the only assumption he would ask of them; that a Corn-law per se was a bad thing; that it was an evil in a country like this, in which the territory was limited, and the population increased at the rate of 1000 a day, that the Legislature should step in between the people and the supply of food. The main body of the people of England were the consumers, and not the growers of corn; and therefore, whatever sacrificed the larger to the smaller body, the many to the few, must be justified upon special grounds. He had high authority for this. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) in introducing his Corn-law on the 9th of February, said:— You are entitled to place such a duty on foreign corn as is equivalent to the special burthens which you impose on agriculture; and any additional protection to agriculture can be vindicated only on the ground that it is for the interest of the country in general. Yes, but the right hon. Baronet had defined what was the interest of the country. He said:— To buy in the cheapest market, and to sell in the dearest, is the interest of the country. But was the right hon. Baronet singular in his opinion? The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had developed the same idea, not only in speeches in that House, but he had done so also in the hours of his official relaxation in a work which he supposed might now be ascribed without hesitation to the right hon. Gentleman's paternity, which he had read with great interest, and which the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and many hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House, might read with great profit; he alluded to an article in the Foreign and Colonial Quarterly Review. The right hon. Gentleman's first position was, That the industry of this country has nothing to fear from the steady and gradual increase of the importation of all commodities from abroad, which can be produced there at a less cost of human labour and capital than amongst ourselves; but that it has everything to fear from the cessation or decline of that mighty course of operations whereby benefits—benefits only of this world, it is true, but yet in their proper place and nature real, if inferior benefits—are exchanged between the several families of the human race. The right hon. Gentleman developed this idea afterwards. He worked it out still further; and in another part of the same paper he (Mr. Ward) would also recommend to the attention of the House, he said:— There may be good and valid reasons for the maintenance of protections; but they are not to be defended by any such caricature of the general principles of trade, as the notion that, by purchasing from foreigners that which they can produce more economically than ourselves, we are diminishing our own means of purchasing from one another that which we can produce more economically than foreigners. The home trade and the foreign trade are likely, on the whole, to flourish conjunctively, not disjunctively. One and the same principle of beneficial exchange—exchange beneficial to both parties—is the foundation of commercial dealings, whether they be carried on between an Englishman and a Frenchman, or between an Englishman and an Englishman. And laws obstructing, or restraining such exchange, are to be justified in all cases where they are justifiable, by reasons drawn from other sources, not by reference to the rules which common sense and experience supply for our conduct in the mere augmentation of wealth. This was the principle on which they ought to proceed. He wanted to have the principle better laid down—he was willing to adopt it. But where such important matters were at stake, there must be no begging the question on the part of the agriculturists, and he must say that they had done nothing else but beg it since 1815. He could only explain this peculiarity on the part of Gentlemen who unquestionably had the good of the community at heart, on the principle on which Lord Ashburton had explained it in 1815, namely, that it was natural that the owners of land should take a narrower view of matters, in which land was concerned, than they did of general political questions; and that a very peculiar interest must be taken in the value of land in a House where the whole of its Members were sworn to be landed proprietors. He (Mr. Ward) was afraid that Lord Ashburton was right; for their narrow views—this excessive tenderness for land—had become more marked in the proceedings of Parliament as landowners had felt their strength there, and as Parliament itself had asserted its independence of the Crown. The first systematic attempt at a Corn-law was made just after the Restoration; under a monarch, a Ministry, and by a parliament, of which no man of the present day could pretend to speak with respect. The first bounty for exportation was passed in the Convention Parliament of King William 3rd, at a time when the King could not quarrel with men who had just placed the crown on his head. A double tax was imposed on the community by this bill, for there was first, the tax to pay the bounty, and next, the increase of price, caused by the forced exportation at home. From 1693 to 1783, the direct payments were 6,237,1 76l. while in the year 1750 alone, the amount was 324,176l. But there was one redeeming point in the proceedings of this Parliament. There was no humbug, no mystification about them. If they looked at the Journals of the House, they would find that this bill was founded on the report of a committee appointed on the 4th of May, 1689, for the express purpose of "considering the reason of the fall of rents, and of bringing in a bill for the remedy thereof." The spirit of legislation on this subject had always been the same; it had always been the object of the Legislature to consider the reason of the fall of rents, and to bring in measures for the remedying thereof; but we had had no such candid admissions as those which had been made in 1793; we had had no such candour in 1815; for on looking at the debates of that period, it would be found that the subject of universal comment and complaint were the peculiar bur- thens to which the land was subjected. This was the constant theme with every one; and although the amount of protection given to land was enormous—al though the price at which importation was to be allowed was fixed at 141s. by the committee of 1814, and was only reduced afterwards to 96s. and then to 80l. men were found who got up and said that even at these prices the landed interests were not sufficiently protected, considering the vast burthens imposed on them. One gentleman there was, Mr. Lockhart, who had endeavoured to make out that the national debt was a peculiar burthen upon land. He concluded that that gentleman had never heard of the duties of Customs and Excise, or of the purposes to which those duties were appropriated, or he thought that he could hardly have advanced such a proposition. His argument was this:— Who paid the dividends which the stockholders received? Beyond a doubt the landowners. So let those gentlemen look to it, who were disposed to sacrifice the interest of the landowner, and with it their own, to save a paltry penny in the price of the quartern loaf. He hardly thought that the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, who had given notice of a motion for this evening, by way of amendment to the present proposition, would go so far as this. Other Gentlemen pleaded the immense capital embarked in land; but he must do the Parliament of that day the justice to add, that this line of argument was not much dwelt upon after the speech of Mr. Charles Barclay. Mr. Barclay said— The principle of the bill was this: The landowners claimed from the House and the country, compensation for the capital which they had employed in the improvement of their own estates. Surely, by the same rule, the manufacturers would have the right of claiming compensation for new machinery, and for all the costly improvements in their trade. But no body of men, however respectable, ought to expect a compensation for the capital they expended for their own benefit, or for the taxes they paid in common with other bodies of men, according to their several circumstances in life. Since that time, the landowners, as a body, had improved, they had profited by this lesson; for their constant plea since then, and up to the present day, had been, that they were not taxed properly, according to their circumstances in life—that they were over-taxed—that they were kept as a sort of milch cow by the State, and that they had a right to expect some compensation for the undue burthens with which they were saddled for the advantage of the community at large. In 1827, when the subject was next talked of in that House, Lord Clive moved a resolution, in which he declared that all that he asked from the House was a protection amounting to prohibition for a certain term of years; but he founded this claim upon very reasonable grounds; for he said:— Now, all he asked of the House was protection, amounting to prohibition, for a certain term of years. He considered such a protection indispensable. At what precise price it might be provided, he left the House to determine; but he defined his demand by supposing that it should be a protecting duty amounting to a prohibition, continued, say for two years, during which interval the Government might repeal taxes at present bearing upon the agricultural interest to such an amount as would enable them to raise their corn at a much less expensive rate, so as to give them some chance of competing with the foreign grower. How was this met? He was asked by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer— Had not his Majesty's Ministers been steadily employed since 1821 in reducing the taxes? And what had been the result? Twelve millions of taxes had been repealed since that period. Whatever difficulties, therefore, the farmer suffered from the effect of the taxes, those difficulties were now by so much less. The right hon. Gentleman added, To hear hon. Gentlemen talk of the Corn-law of 1815, which they hugged to their bosom with all the fatuity of misplaced affection, one would think that in this law were locked up all the good things that farmers could desire; yet prices had fluctuated under it from 112s. to 38s. This was a subject which was worthy of remark, that, whenever a New Corn-law passed, they always found a disposition on the part of the Government to admit all the evils which the late law had inflicted on the country; but then past experience never deterred them from taking the very same steps, and acting on those very principles which their own observation had condemned. In our more recent discussions, some small variations had been introduced by the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, and by the noble Lord the Chief Commissioner for Woods and Forests. The latter noble Lord, in his speech at Newark, in terms which they did not frequently hear in that House, but which, perhaps, were not inconsistent with the heat of a controverted election, thus addressed the constituency on the 6th of July, 1841. He said:— First, let me congratulate you that the country has refused to be cajoled by the latest fabrication from the workshop of Whig trickery and delusion. The cry of cheap bread is scouted from one end of England to the other. Even the towns and boroughs have scorned to be caught by this party claptrap—this fugitive humbug of a dying political faction. They see that the agriculturist is burthened with taxes, from which all other classes are wholly, or nearly exempt. Does he not chiefly bear the burthen of poor-rate, church-rate, highway-rates, and tithes. (Great Cheering). Would the noble Lord, he asked, repeat the question here? Or would he venture to express a deliberate belief of the existence of the facts to which he had appealed? The conclusion of the speech of the noble Lord was a confession de foi, after the example set the noble Lord by the right hon. Baronet at Tamworth. The noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, however, was not satisfied with adopting the same course; for after quoting Mr. M'Culloch to prove that the agricultural interests were over-taxed—a proposition, by the bye, which Mr. M'Culloch had never proved—he diverged into a much wider field of discussion, and argued, That it was necessary to keep up prices and rents, for the sake of the farmers, the landlords, but, above all, the humbler classes, who would be the first and greatest sufferers, if the gentlemen of England were compelled to reduce their establishments—to curtail their pleasure-grounds—to limit the number of their gardeners, or to turn off one or two grooms, which the Corn-laws enabled them to keep." [Marks of Dissent from Lord Stanley.] He (Mr. Ward) was certain that he was not misrepresenting the noble Lord's argument, for he had read it over very recently, with the greatest care; and the noble Lord had wound it up with the words It is for the labouring classes of this country to consider, whether that which diminishes the income of the landlord, and the profit of the farmer, is likely to be productive of advantage to society or to them. Did the noble Lord really mean to give the country this as a reason for maintaining the restrictive system on the introduction of foreign corn? Why, for every liveried menial which the noble Lord or his class were thus enabled to maintain, he could show the noble Lord 100 starving artizans. Did the noble Lord mean to place the comforts of the nobility in comparison with the ruin of such towns as Sheffield and Bolton? It was a most unworthy argument to advance—it was an argument which could not be sustained, but it was an argument of the party—it was a part of the system, which was to take by the bucketful, and to dole out by the spoonful. He had seen an advertisement of a Friendly Union, formed in Lea denhall-street, under the patronage of Lord Lyndhurst, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Liverpool, the Earl of Aberdeen, and many others, the object of which was to give employment to the industrious artisan, by inducing persons to take tickets for the purchase of various articles of manufactured produce; but he maintained that the poverty of nine-tenths of these persons was the result of the Corn-laws. The noble Lord, however, justified the present state of things by talking of the general policy of the country. He said, The general policy of this country required that agriculture should be protected, and though protection might have a tendency to raise the price of corn above its natural level, it prevented those extraordinary fluctuations which were common in other countries, Now, let them compare this argument with the facts. He had quoted the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the year 1827, to show that the fluctuations of price had been between 112s. and 38s. under the law of 1815; and our own experience taught us that under the law of 1827 they had been between 84s. and 85s., and yet the noble Lord ventured to say that protection prevented fluctuation. Upon the question of general policy he would not enter, but he would venture to say that there was no term in the English language on which there had been so much nonsense fathered as this—it was the common drudge of every party, and was made an apologist for every purpose. His text was, and he would stick to it, that land had no claim for exemption of any kind, except upon the ground that it contributed more largely to the wants of the country than other property; and this was a question which must be decided upon a reference to facts, and not by the assertions of interested parties. He knew that upon this subject he had high authority opposed to him. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) opposite, in 1841, before he had come into office, for he had given no such opinion since then, had said, The proposition of buying corn in the cheapest market is certainly a tempting theory; but before you determine that it is just, you must ascertain the amount of burthens to which land in other countries is subjected, and compare them with the burthen imposed on land in this country. No one was disposed to speak of the right hon. Baronet with more respect than he was, but he could not help expressing his opinion that this expression exhibited a complete confusion of ideas. The question was an English question, and not a Polish or a German question, and it must be decided with reference to the taxation of different classes in England, and not with regard to the difference in the amount of taxation in Germany, or Poland, and this country. If it was established that there were burthens imposed upon land in England greater than any other class of property, then they might inquire on what terms German or Polish wheat should be admitted; but if it were not, to enter into any discussion upon the subject, would be merely to beg the real question. Then what were the burthens on English land? And first, he would get rid of the rubbish which was introduced into these debates, and would say what in his opinion were not burthens to which land was peculiarly exposed. Some persons had told him very gravely that before he could think of removing the existing restrictions, he must look to the expenses of management of land, and all the incidental cost of buildings, drainage, repairs, &c. This, he thought, must be classed under the title rubbish, be cause there was no business in which capital could be invested which was not liable to some such outgoings, and in the case of a manufacturer it could hardly be disputed that the same observation applied, or that he was not as much entitled to consideration for the expense of machinery and building as the landowner. He laid it down, then, as a first proposition, that no ordinary outgoing could be considered in the light of a burthen upon the land. Nor could any fluctuations in the value of produce be considered in that light. Mr. M'Culloch told us that the value of cotton cloth in 1839 was one quarter of its value in 1814, and he had no doubt that many Gentlemen would be glad to get the same price for such goods now as they had obtained in 1839. Iron, in 1836, was sold at 12l. per ton; it was now 6l. 10s. only, and he believed that there were iron-masters keeping open their works at a loss of 1,000l. per week. But he had never heard of any proposition of a measure to indemnify such persons for their losses, and he could not discover any reason why, in the case of losses to which all were equally exposed, any distinction should be drawn. But then he had been told that the Income-tax was a burthen, to which the land was peculiarly subject, for that this was an impost from which there was no escape. He could not help thinking, however, that the hardship was quite the other way; for the House had taxed income derivable from uncertain sources—from professions and trade, at the same rate at which the tax upon secure and fixed incomes from land and other sources was laid. He came back, then, to the aboriginal list of burthens, which the right hon. Baronet opposite had proclaimed at Tamworth, and which all his supporters had maintained through the country, namely, poor-rates, county-rates, highway-rates, and tithes—the land-tax had been omitted, for good reasons. He had gone over this part of the subject so recently, that he should press as shortly as possible upon the attention of the House on the present occasion, and trouble it with as few figures as possible. With regard to the subject of Poor-laws, he must express his heartfelt obligations to the hon. Member for East Norfolk (Mr. Wodehouse), who, wishing to demolish the present motion by anticipation, had made out the very case which he desired to bring before the House. He had procured a letter to be addressed to him—he meant nothing offensive to the hon. Member—which contained an analysis or estimate of all the returns upon this subject, and an attempt to compute them for the last hundred years. He would take the figures of this estimate—he would not dispute its averages—he would admit, for the sake of argument, that its result was correct. In this letter it was stated, that the total sum paid in ninety-four years for poor-rates and county-rates was 404,065,983l. That of this land paid, 255,150,063l.; houses,123,716,217l.; mills and factories, 16,547,390l. Now, the result of this was, that the money which was actually levied on house property, on factories and mills, was considerably more than half that levied on land. His argument had always been, not that the land did not pay something more than the house property, but that it did not pay more than it ought to pay, with reference to its intrinsic value, and he thought that this case was clearly made out. He found, upon reference to the financial statement of the right hon. Baronet of last year, that the rent of land was taken at 39,400,000l., and the rent of houses at 16,260,000l.; house property was, therefore, considerably less than half the value of land, and yet houses were called upon to pay much more than half the amount of poor-rate exacted from land. Was this a reason why landed property should come to that House and demand to be reimbursed for peculiar burthens? He thought that all would agree with him, that these facts made out a strong case against the landowners. But how stood the case now? The rent of land was taken at the same amount—39,400,000l., and the rent of houses was calculated at 25,000,000l., because it was said that the number of houses had increased from 2,231,000 to 3,460,000, all of which were assessed to the poor-rate. The result of this was, that land now bore considerably less than half the charge levied for the relief of the poor, and that all the arguments which had been advanced, as showing the right of the landed interests to protection, upon the score of poor-rates, were completely negatived. There was not a tittle of evidence to show that the landed interests were entitled to a 1s. duty on foreign corn, much less a 20s. duty, which would amount to a prohibition; but, on the contrary, every thing showed that house property had from the earliest period paid its full share of rate. The result of the late measure had merely been, as the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had himself expressed it, that the Government had got rid of the "surplusage of odium" which attached to the maintenance of the old law in its terms, and nothing more. But there was another point of view, also, which showed that so far from land suffering by change, it was constantly gaining by the improvement of other property. He alluded to the subject of rating railways, as affording evidence in support of this proposition. It was calculated that a mile of railway covered eight acres, but that mile was assessed in many cases at such a sum as paid one-half of the rates of an entire parish. In one instance a mile of railway was assessed at 1,500l., which was the largest amount he knew of; in another at 600l. Now taking the ordinary case of eight acres of land, he begged to ask what they would produce in the shape of poor-rates under ordinary circum stances; and whether it might not eventually be expected that when the traffic on railways was extended, as he believed it would be, by far the largest portion of these rates would not be thrown upon those who made use of these lines of communication? If this was so, and he thought it could not be doubted, here was another source of relief to the owners of land. But there was another circumstance to which he would refer—he meant the fearful responsibility which was now devolving upon land from the aggravation of the common burthens arising from the stagnation of trade. He had on a former evening shown that the payments of poor-rates to casual poor in Sheffield had risen from 13l. 15s. per week to 503l. per week; that in 1840 the payments amounted to 26,000l., in 1841 to 35,000l., in 1842 to 52,000l., and in 1843, if we may form a judgment from the first ten weeks of the year, they would reach 64,000l., and that was the amount anticipated by men of the greatest experience. Who, he asked, was answerable for this, but those who stood between the industry of the manufacturing towns, and the legitimate outlet of the produce of our manufactures? The towns had claims on the land for compensation a thousand times greater than any claims of the land upon towns. With regard to the county-rate, he would only remark that one-half of it now fell upon the consolidated fund. The highway-rate was one, of which least of all landowners should make any complaint. Roads were indispensable, and were for the advantage of the landowner and his tenants. They were recognised by the statute law of the realm, and their maintenance was treated by common law as a prædial obligation—as the condition of proprietary rights. The first thing which a tenant sought, upon his taking land, was a road to communicate with it; and it was the first thing which the landlord was compelled to provide. The land could, with as much justice, call upon the public to support its roads, as the City of London could tax Cornwall for paving Cheapside. The maintenance of roads was, according to his view, a matter of peculiar and not of common interest; and it was as well the interest as the duty of the land to secure early access for its produce to market. Then, with regard to tithes and Church-rates. The right hon. Baronet opposite, in the course of last year, had declared that nearly the whole of the maintenance of the Established Church was charged upon land. The Church-rates of the country amounted to 506,312l. per annum, of which amount two-fifths were paid by the towns, upon a rental of thirty-nine and a half millions. The right hon. Baronet had said,— The Dissenters have no right to complain of the payment of Church-rates, because they have purchased their property with a full knowledge that it was subject to such an imposition. But every one who was possessed of property was furnished with the same knowledge; and surely the landed interests could not complain of the application of this principle to their rental. The argument, however, was much stronger with regard to tithes; because tithes were antecedent, not only to the Corn-laws, but to the very existence of proprietary rights. It was one of the old proprietary rights of the Church—it preceded the conquest—it was part of the conditions on which estates were then granted, and it could not be shaken off. He recollected in 1838, on the debate on the Irish tithe question, the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had told the Irish landlords, that if tithes were abolished the next day, they were the last persons who should ever profit, with his consent, by one fraction of a farthing of the amount. And he agreed with the noble Lord, because tithes were matters entirely distinct from proprietary rights, and on which landlords could never have any claim. Mr. Burke, in reference to this, had said,— From the united considerations of religion and constitutional policy, this country has incorporated and identified the estate of the Church with the mass of private property, of which the state is not the proprietor, either for use or for dominion, but the guardian only and the regulator. And he recollected a right rev. Prelate in another place laying a much greater stress upon them than this. Speaking of tithes he said,— These last endowments he placed upon the altar of the King of kings. Touch them if you dare; and may God not visit upon you his curse for the sacrilege. They were told, however, that tithes were a peculiar burthen upon land, and the right hon. Baronet had quoted Adam Smith, to show that he had considered them in that light; and Ricardo, who thought that if they were burthens on the land, the Corn-laws must be maintained. If tithes were taken in kind, he should agree in this proposition; but we had a commutation, and the claim of land for compensation in respect of this alleged bur then was one which could not be deemed to be borne out by any semblance of right. He thought, therefore, with Mr. Deacon Hume, that the gentlemen of England must learn to be contented with their estates, and that they must not make the possession of those estates the plea and the means of throwing the charges to which they were legally subject upon others. Before he proceeded to the peculiar exemptions of land, he would say a few words upon the subject of land-tax, which was in appearance the only distinct charge to which land was subject. The land-tax, he believed, was granted as an indemnity to the Crown for the loss of its feudal rights; it was a burthen exclusively upon the land, and was, in fact, the condition on which all land was held. The masses of the community had nothing at all to do with "aids," "relief," "primer seisin," and "wardship," or "maritagium," "fines for alienation," or any other of the conditions on which the feudal tenants of the Crown obtained their estates. These were obligations which it was fit should be abolished; but was it not equally equitable that those who had obtained the relief should bear the burthen which necessarily resulted from that relief? By the Convention Parliament of 1660 the burthen was transferred from the landlords of the country to the people, for they granted to the King a perpetual excise instead of the court of wards, the measure being carried by a majority of 151 only over 149. Some Members predicted the consequences of the measure, and Mr. Annesley said, If this bill were carried, every man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow must pay excise, and excuse the court of wards, which would be a greater grievance on all, than the court of wards was to a few.

Mr. Prynne

said, that the excise would make all householders tenants in capite to free the nobility; but the bill passed, and it was not altered until the year 1689, when the House reverted to the system of direct assessment on property in the shape of a land-tax. At this time the tax was directed to be at the rate of 4s. in the pound on real property, "according to the full, true, yearly value thereof;" and there of 1689, 1692, and 1696, declared most unequivocally that the valuation upon which the rate of 4s. was to be levied should be the "full, true, yearly value at the time of making the assessment." Parliament had since decided that the land-tax should be levied upon the valuation of 1692, although since then rents had quadrupled, and even in some cases centupled; and, besides this, Parliament had contrived by statutes, worded with intentional obscurity, to impose a part of this tax on personal property—making real property the subsidiary or accessory fund, personal property being rendered liable, in the first instance. He need not point out the singular inequality with which the land-tax was assessed in various parts of the kingdom: in some parts it was only one farthing, and in others five farthings in the pound. He admitted that here and there the land-tax was heavy, nearly 4s. in the pound, and this inequality showed the evil of the present system most strikingly. Looking at the enormous increase in rental, it was ridiculous to talk of the land-tax as a bonâ fide tax. He held in his hand the advertisements of two estates now upon sale in Scotland; one of these, the estate of Mayen, consisted of 1,439 acres, at a rental of 801l., and it was stated that the burthens, including land-tax, did not exceed 62l. per annum. The other estate was that of Cronberry, the rent of which was 430l., and the burthens, including land-tax, no more than 17l. per annum. He was aware that it was too late in the day to revert to an assessment of 4s. in the pound; no government would venture to make such a proposition, yet it was no more than land paid in almost every country of the continent. Mr. Pitt, when dealing with the land-tax, did not pretend to justify the system under which it was levied, but urged that after the lapse of more than 100 years, it would be unpopular, unwise, and impolitic," to deal with it as it deserved; but if to-morrow 4s. in the pound were to be levied, the land would not be more heavily taxed here than in many foreign countries. He would compare the Austrian budget of 1837, with that of Great Britain in 1841, when the indirect taxation in Customs and Excise produced 38,000,000l., the land-tax amounting to 1,181,243l. In Austria, taxation in the Customs and Excise, in 1837,was 36,000,000 florins, and the land-tax alone produced 37,599,496 florins. In France, the land-tax, in 1838, produced in sterling money 10,474,110l., amounting there to one-fourth of a revenue of 42,000,000l., while in this country it was only one-twenty-fifth of the revenue. There were other exemptions in favour of land: there was no tax on farm houses, husbandry, horses, servants, farm house windows, drainage tiles, insurance on farming implements and stock, on tax-carts, dogs, and several other items; for, let it be what it would, care was always taken that nothing should be taxed. All these advantages the landowners in Parliament had, in fact, awarded to themselves. The plea of poverty was not alleged, because among the servants exempted were stewards, bailiffs, overseers, managers, and clerks under them. Among the horses were those occasionally ridden by farmers of 500l. a-year rent, and those used by bailiffs representing the landowners by whom they were employed. In 1836 the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) had put into a tabular form the saving that had been made by the landlords between 1816 and 1834, and it amounted to no less than 12,929,577l.; but even this was nothing, in comparison with the advantage gained by the land in the exemption from probate and legacy duty, now given up as indefensible by common consent. Supposing the land to have paid since 1797, when the duty was imposed, an equal amount to that actually paid upon personal property, the land of England had enjoyed an absolute exemption to the extent of 55,128,466l. Add to this sum exemptions from other taxes, amounting to 12,929,577l., and it made a total difference in favour of the land to the extent of 78,058,043l. This, too, without the land-tax, which had been 4s. in the pound, and was reduced to 4d. and with out indirect taxation, more insidious, but not less real, imposed upon the community in the shape of a tax upon food, which by Mr. Deacon Hume had been calculated at 36,000,000l., and which Mr. M'Gregor conceived to exceed the whole public taxation of the country. Having gone through these details, he put it to the House whether he had not made out his case, whether he had not shown that it was utterly impossible for the House to resist the motion with any regard to public opinion, or to its own character. He had proved that the power of the landowners had been systematically applied to the reduction of taxation, as regarded themselves: it was like the elephant's trunk—nothing was too heavy to be moved by it—nothing too small to be picked up by it. From the gigantic fraud of the land-tax, and the wholesale exemption of themselves as a class from the probate and legacy duties, they had stooped to their bailiffs' horses and their shepherds' dogs. Could the House, then, refuse to inquire?—and when, at the end of his speech, he should submit his motion for inquiry, how was it to be met? No doubt the hon. Member who had given notice of an amendment (Mr. G. Banks) was as honest in his opinions as he (Mr. Ward) was; but he must pardon him for saying, that he had met the motion with an amendment so singularly inappropriate, both in time and object, that he could hardly conceive it had originated in a man who was confident in the justice of his own cause. It was in these terms:— That it is expedient, as a remedy for a state of anxiety embarrassing and unfair to the agriculturists, and injurious to commerce, that the attention of this House be directed to the continued existence of associations, which, in matters affecting agriculture and commerce, pretend to influence the deliberations of the Legislature, and which, by their combination and by their proceedings, are at once dangerous to the public peace, and inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution. That was a perfectly legitimate motion; it was not one of which any man who sat on his (Mr. Ward's) side of the House was afraid, but it had in truth no more to do with the motion than it had to do with the gates of Somnauth. It might just as well have been appended to the recent proposition of the hon. Member for Northampton, on Lord Ellenborough's proclamation. What was his motion? For inquiry into the conduct of by far the most power full-combination that had ever existed: and how did the hon. Member meet it? By a proposed inquiry into the conduct of another association—another combination totally different in its objects and views. In short, the hon. Member for Dorsetshire seemed to wish to make a perfect Babel of the debate, for one speech was to be directed against the Corn-law League, and another to apply to the grave subject which he (Mr. Ward) had introduced. He had endeavoured to submit his proposition in a fair spirit, and in decorous terms. He entertained strong feelings on the subject; he hated injustice, and he believed that great injustice had been done by Parliament to the people, and he put it to the right hon. Baronet whether he would give him a committee to inquire, or whether he would resist it? Would he consent to institute a searching examination into the subject, conducted by the ablest men on both sides of the House? If the hon. Member for Dorsetshire had even the slightest confidence in his cause, if he believed in the soundness of a single ground on which he rested his amendment, he would not mix up two incongruous subjects, but would agree in a motion which only went the length of investigation, and might go far to restore the character of the House in the estimation of the country. He, therefore, begged the hon. Member to think seriously before he persevered in his course, and opposed an obstacle to the appointment of a committee. He offered the hon. Member for Dorsetshire every opportunity of proving his assertion, that the land was unduly taxed; he challenged him to establish that proposition. Would the hon. Member accept the challenge? If he would not, it was because he knew himself unequal to the contest; if he would, instead of opposing, he would second his (Mr. Ward's) motion with an honest intention of not shrinking from the task, but of prosecuting the inquiry for the ascertainment of truth. The hon. Member concluded by making the following motion:— That a select committee be appointed to inquire whether there are any peculiar burthens specially affecting the landed interest of this country, or any peculiar exemptions enjoyed by that interest, and to ascertain their nature and extent.

Mr. Williams

seconded the motion.

Mr. G. Bankes

rose to move an amendment. He would endeavour to imitate the candour and temper displayed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, for all must agree that the claim he had put in on this score was well founded. If he had not been prepared to meet the motion with a decided negative, he should not have taken the opportunity of bringing before the House another subject, to him, individually, more interesting. He resisted the motion, not merely with respect to times, but circumstances; because, although he agreed in the general proposition that inquiry ought to precede legislation, he was most unwilling, at this moment of anxiety to the landed interest, to promote a proceeding which would tend to countenance the belief that further legislation was contemplated. He was quite certain that no Member would be found to assert that any addition to the prevailing alarm must not be detrimental; for however people might differ as to the cause, nobody would dispute that uneasiness, anxiety, and panic, did prevail. Inquiry would not only be injurious to the landed but to the commercial and trading interests, which sympathised with the prosperity or distress of the landed interest. Were the House to consent to the proposed inquiry, not only would there be no cessation of the panic, but the alarm would be increased to a degree attended with the utmost danger to the community. For this reason he objected to the motion in point of time; but circumstances also forbad him to concur in the motion: he was not, nor ever should be, ready to consent to a motion so framed. He could not consent to it, because he was of opinion that the Corn-laws were to be defended as a benefit to the nation at large, and he never would consent that the landed interest should be thus separated from the rest of the community. If the House wished really to inquire into the taxes and exemptions applicable to land, let the motion be preferred in proper terms, with reference to protection as well as burthen, but he strongly objected to this invidious mode of singling one peculiar class, and turning the eyes of the public upon, and directing the ringer of scorn and odium against them. As one portion of the community, the landed interest was willing to sustain its due share of burthens. Some Members might concur in the opinion of the hon. Member for Sheffield in the doctrine that all protection ought to be abolished; but if so, the landed interest was not the only one which ought to be stripped. Why was the proposition shaped in a way to include one and omit all other classes? He had recently seen in the public journals a letter from a personage of high rank and station in the country, but who was known perhaps for nothing so much as for his adhesion to the Anti-Corn-law League—he meant Lord Kinnaird: that letter contained the following passage:— I find that our views are not rightly understood by many landowners, who imagine that what we contend for is the abolition of the Corn-laws alone, instead of our advocating that as being the first step to the abolition of all duties imposed for the purpose of protection. He objected to be the first stone—he objected to the appointment of a committee by which the agricultural interest was to be the first to be deprived of protection. On that ground, if on no other, he should resist the motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield. That hon. Member had applied himself to him individually, when he expressed an opinion that even he should not be so bold—perhaps, so obstinate—but, at all events, so firm, as to contend that the poor-rates and the national debt were burthens, especially affecting the land. After that sort of warning, he should be alarmed at advancing anything on his own authority merely, and he was therefore happy to be armed with authority of much more weight with the hon. Member. He alluded to a statement by a Member of considerable power in the House, but of greater influence out of it. the hon. Member for Stockport. That hon. Member had said,— The landowner is tethered fast to this country; he cannot carry his acres abroad with him; the law of England gives the poor of England the right of subsistence on its soil; and that is the first mortgage upon the landlord's estate. He should not have ventured to state it so strongly himself; and the same high authority went on to say— But the landowner is not only pledged to the poor, but to the national creditor also. After this point the hon. Member referred to the deficit of about five millions in the revenue, and proceeded thus:— The acres of the landowners are always there, and the Government, if hardly pressed for an increase of the public income, must take from the estates of the landlords ten shillings in the pound. These were the words of the hon. Member for Stockport. If, therefore, such a committee as that now proposed were unhappily appointed, it would end in nothing but a conflict of talent between hon. Members opposite, for they would, in fact, dispute about the meaning of words. The hon. Member for Sheffield, who denied that there were any burthens peculiar to land, had shown, at all events, that there were burthens peculiarly pressing upon land, and which fell with a heavy and undue weight upon land. He had alluded to the land-tax—a very usual topic among those who were opposed to the landed interest—and he had argued that it was light here compared with other countries. The hon. Member had shown considerable research upon this point, and had enlightened the House with a good deal of information, but he had forgotten to mention to what purposes in those countries the land-tax was applied. He had not stated that it included what are called county-rates, and some portion of what with us were known as poor-rates. I the county-rate and the poor-rates were added to the land-tax, it would be found that Great Britain could compete in this respect with any foreign country. He ingenuously owned that he was not able, and did not mean to speak with particularity and certainty upon this point; but he believed that the reason why the land-tax seemed heavy abroad was, that it in truth included several other imposts. He had now to request the peculiar indulgence of the House while he made a statement that respected himself personally. He hoped that the peculiar circumstances of the case would plead his excuse, and that the Speaker would be induced to relax in some degree the strictness of the rule which allowed of no reference to a former debate. When last the question of the Corn-laws was before the House, some particular observations were directed to him respecting his concerns, to which at the time it had been absolutely impossible for him to reply. He was happy to see the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden) who made those observations in his place, and for once he would ask that hon. Member a favour, perhaps the only one he should ever have occasion to request, it was this—that when he attacked him again, he would not do it at so late an hour of the night, and would not, at the same time, attack the Prime Minister ["No, no"]. What he meant was that the hon. Member would not call up the Prime Minister, and he assured the House that he had no other meaning. According to usage, any Member must give way when an individual high in authority rose, and however anxious he might have been to reply, however severely he had been vexed, he could not compete with his right hon. Friend in claiming the attention of the House. The hon. Member for Stockport had imputed to him what, if true, must be considered a very severe charge; and as the hon. Member belonged to an association accustomed to use hard words, such as "robber," "plunderer," "selfish monopolist," &c, the hon. Member no doubt thought he dealt mildly with him in the censure he passed. The charge was, that he had given wages below what he ought to have paid and was able to pay, and from that he was anxious to relieve himself. He had, therefore, taken this, the earliest opportunity when the subject of the Corn-laws was again introduced, and he was now prepared to make a statement which he apprehended would satisfy even the hon. Member for Stockport that he had been misled. He could not suppose that the erroneous statement was intentional; and he trusted that the contradiction he was now about to give it, would operate as a warning to the hon. Member not to rely too implicitly or easily on the information he received, for even though it were paid for, it did not follow that it was accurate. The hon. Member had stated that the highest wages he paid to agricultural servants in his employ was 8s. per week; the hon. Member went on further to say that, and assert, and the hon. Member dared him to the proof of the contrary, that the peasantry in his neighbourhood was the worst paid, the worst clothed, and the most illiterate of any peasantry in England. It would not be matter of surprise that he had provided himself with a refutation of the assertion; and he had brought with him the names of all the tenants on his estates, and he had also in his possession a number of letters, principally dated on the 20th of February (for he had written down to the country immediately after the accusation had been made), which he was ready at any time to place in the hands of the hon, Member for his scrutiny, or for that of any of the agents he might think fit to employ. The first letter was from a tenant of 1,200 acres, who stated that the wages he paid were, Carters 8s. a-week, many of them having cottages and gardens rent free. They also had 1l. extra for harvest time, and fifteen perches of land for potatoes. The thrashers who were on task-work received from 10s. to 11s. a-week during the winter months, and in summer 15s. with beer. The shepherds' wages were 11s. 6d. a-week. The writer added▀× That the labourers were in a more comfortable condition than they had been in for years past, particularly as they could get employment if they were disposed to work, and that in 1830 and 1831 there were twenty-five to thirty labourers out of employment (where the writer resided) at the present season, and that now there were not more than ten out of work, and they were not men of industrious habits. He might here premise that when he wrote to these tenants he had given no reasons for his application, nor were they aware that he intended to make use of their answers. The next letter which he should refer to was from a tenant holding between five and six hundred acres, and this was also dated the 20th February. The writer said, Sir—In reply to your request I beg to state:—Six regular labourers as thrashers and mowers earn about 10s. 6d. per week during the winter, and from 15s. to 20s. the haymaking and harvest. Fifteen perch of potatoe land each. Shepherd, 9s. per week, cottage free, and from twenty to thirty perch of potatoe land; and his keep during the lambing season,—about one month. Three carters, 8s. per week wages each, 2l. each extra for the harvest month; cottages rent free, and twenty perch of potatoe land each man. Two labourers, as job men, 8s. per week each. The man that makes the ricks and hedges on the farms earns about 10s. per week per year. Three under carters from 4s. 6d. to 6s. and 7s. each. This account given is precisely the same as I have been giving my men for years past; But I beg to say, if the price of corn and stock continues at the present prices, I shall not be enabled to support my labourers as heretofore. The next letter was also dated the 20th of February, and was to the effect, I received a letter from Mr. Robson wishing me to inform you the earnings of my labourers. My carters have 8s. per week, and 2l. the end of the year, and house and large garden free from rent. The shepherd much the same as the above. The barn men, I give them—for wheat, 1s. 4d. per sack; for barley, 1s.4d. per quarter. They have earned during this winter rather more than 12s. per week. They pay 1s. per week house rent. I allow them to thrash all my corn by task work, and allow them a bushel of wheat for 6s., the same as I make use of in my own house. The last few years they consider it very much to their advantage; but I never compel them to have it. I am sorry to say you will find but few labourers in this parish have this chance. We are giving in Shaparck by the week 8s., and many other adjoining parishes have reduced them to 7s. I am very sorry to say we have a great many hands out of employ. I should have very much liked to have seen you personally The writer added,— That in the adjoining parish, the workpeople were not so well paid. He might observe, that he had no land in the latter parish. The Member for Stockport had been pleased to say, that he was not an agriculturist; if, by this, the hon. Member meant only a person who derived a profit, or the means of subsistence from cultivating land, it was true; but if the hon. Member meant the ob- servation to apply to the employment of labourers in agricultural pursuits, he was mistaken. He did employ labourers in such pursuits, although certainly the number was not great. He had made inquiries, and he found that on this property in question he employed thirty-one labourers. The lowest class of labourers were paid 9s. a-week each, the next class 10s., the next 11s., the next 15s., and so on up as high as 25s. These, be it recollected, were all out-door labourers, and the latter class were chiefly composed of carpenters, who were employed in fencing and such kind of work. He might observe, that the labourers' wives and children were allowed to gather fire-wood one day in the week in his park. This was often of great advantage to them, and had been particularly the case during the present season, for in one of the gales that took place nearly half the avenue of trees were blown down. He had received a letter last week from one of his tenants, in which it was stated, that the hon. Member for Stockport had been down to his estate, and had visited every cottage in the village; at any rate, if the hon. Member was not down there himself, some one whom he had delegated for the purpose had gone to the place, and had told the peasantry how miserable they were, and left at each cottage a parcel of pamphlets, sent out by the Anti-Corn-law League, and this had created considerable alarm in the neighbourhood. Now, because his park was not in exact accordance with those lordly and stately manufacturers, who built up walls round their residences, to prevent any prying eye from breaking on their privacy—and because he preferred the seclusion of a quiet and rural village to this stately loneliness, he did not see any reason why these persons should go down to create ill-feeling in his neighbourhood. He must complain that the inhabitants of this quiet peaceful village should be mo-Jested in this way by the proceedings of a body of which the hon. Member for Stockport was a member—if the hon. Member himself was not the person who went thither—for it was beyond all doubt that persons from the Anti-Corn-law League did go from cottage to cottage throughout the village, and endeavoured to excite discontent. To prevent any charge of secresy, he had stated what was paid in this village to the labourers, and he could go into much fur- ther detail if it were necessary; or if the hon. Member for Stockport required more letters from tenants on his estate, on this subject, he should have them. He might here add, however, that if the hon. Member for Stockport had not better grounds for his charges on this point than any he had hitherto given, he (Mr. Bankes) should feel himself justified in applying stronger terms to his conduct than he had hitherto applied. He would refer to another communication which he had received from a tenant on his property, on the subject of wages. This person occupied a farm of three hundred acres, and employed seven labourers. The three principal of them were threshers, and earned 10s. a-week; the shepherds 9s. a-week; and the carters 8s.; while they were each allowed to obtain corn at 6s. the bushel; and the shepherds also received 2l. extra during the lambing season. The hon. Member had employed an agent to obtain information on this subject. [Mr. Cobden: I told the hon. Member so.] He did not think that such an interruption was justifiable. He did not think that such proceedings were suitable in the society of the House of Commons; and, however much it might be adapted to the habits of the society of which the hon. Member for Stockport was a member, it was not customary in that House. He should speak to the hon. Member as a Member of Parliament, and in such a manner as the hon. Member had a right to expect from him as the representative of an important community, and also from that common courtesy which was in conformity with the usages of that House. He would here revert to the subject he was speaking on. The whole of the villagers had the privilege of cutting as much turf for firing as they chose, and this was no trifling advantage, as it made a most excellent fire: indeed so good, that he preferred it himself to a coal fire. Again, the whole of the labourers on his property in that part of the country occupied cottages rent free. Now he admitted, that to a person going from the manufacturing districts, or from the environs of the metropolis, these cottages might not appear the most desirable kind of residences, but it should be recollected, that the cottages were very often regarded as the property of those who occupied them, and that they went down in the same families from father to son for generations, and if any attempt was made to interfere with them, it might be attended with great mischief. In the next parish to his own resided the occupier of a large farm, who had addressed a letter to him on the subject of the observations which the hon. Member for Stockport had been pleased to make respecting the condition of the Dorsetshire labourers; but as this letter had been published in the newspapers, he did not know that it would be necessary for him to read it. The farmers of Dorsetshire were so pleased with this letter, that they had had it printed; but the title which they had affixed to it was so offensive, that he would not give it; but it was considered in his neighbourhood as a most able and correct answer to the statements and allegations put forth by the Anti-Corn-law League. The person who wrote this paper signed his name to it, which was Thomas Hunt, and he was well known in the country as a good farmer and a man of very considerable talent and information. He stated in this letter that the statements which had been made by the hon. Member for Stockport as to the condition of the labourers on his (Mr. Bankes's) estate, were decidedly the reverse of the fact. He went on to say that he occupied a farm of 600 acres, within two miles of the residence of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and that he was well acquainted with the situation of the labouring classes, and that he could deny that they received less wages than other labourers. Taking them throughout none received less than 8s. a week, and in addition they occupied cottages rent free, and each had a portion of land for potatoes, which was ploughed for them without charge. They also were enabled to purchase corn at 6s. a bushel, whatever the price might be in the market. This was with reference to the wages paid to labourers in constant employ; but those who were engaged at piece-work obtained great additional advantages. He would not go into further statements on this part of the subject, unless he was called upon to do so by the hon. Member for Stockport. Another charge which was made respecting the labourers on his estate by the hon. Member for Stockport was, that the labourers not only were the worst paid, but that they were the most neglected in the neighbourhood, both in point of clothing and medicine, and that they were the most ignorant. Now, if he felt a difficulty in speaking on the former charge, that dif- ficulty was greatly increased when such an accusation as that just made, was brought forward. He was as fully sensible as any one could be of the bounden duty of those who possessed the means, and when placed in the relative situation in which be was with respect to these persons, to devote any superfluities that he might be possessed of to the alleviation of the condition, and to the promotion of the best interests of those with whom he was thus connected. He was fully aware that if our charity lost all its grace, it was when the bestower chose to make known his bounty; but he trusted that the House, under the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed, and after the charge which had been made against him, would allow him to say a few words in explanation. He could assure hon. Members that nothing should have induced him to have uttered a word on the subject, had he not felt himself imperatively called upon to do so by the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Stockport. He would state to the House what happened last autumn; and he could assure it that it took place, not from any contemplated attack on him by the hon. Member for Stockport or the Anti-Corn-law League, for at that period nothing had occurred which could lead him to believe that any attack would be made on him. In November, he left an estate on which he was stopping, and went to the place where the principal part of his property was situated, and he did so because he believed that an early and severe winter was about to set in, and he was anxious to be on the spot to superintend the distribution of relief to the poor in his neighbourhood. Immediately on his arrival on his property, he desired his steward to prepare lists of every poor person, and of every poor child on his estate. He was greatly pleased to receive such a list on the next morning from his steward, who had prepared it in anticipation. Immediately after this, every one of these poor persons was relieved by the ladies of his family, who went personally round to relieve them. Now, if in the month of January, when the hon. Member's spies and informers visited his estate, the clothing of the poor in his neighbourhood was in so bad a condition, it was greatly to the discredit of Manchester, because it chiefly came from that place. At the same time he must add, that it did not follow that he followed the maxim of the Gentlemen opposite, and bought at the cheapest, market, but the various articles required were bought of the small traders in the country towns, who, he conceived, had a right to look for a proper share of patronage from those who lived in their neighbourhood. If the hon. Member pleased, he would place a list of the articles so purchased and distributed in the hands of the hon. Member—he would not state the amount thus given away; but he might observe, that the number of those who did so obtain relief was not far short of some hundreds. As to what the hon. Member said, as to these labourers being the worst educated in the country, he could only say, that if the person who sent such an account from his district, made any such statement, that person must have perverted the truth or concealed it, for great efforts had been made for a long time for the purpose of promoting education in his neighbourhood. He held in his hand the list of the subscribers to two schools on his property, and at the head of one of them was the name of the individual whose duty it chiefly was to support it, who was a subscriber for 250l.; now this certainly could not be said to be given as a county Member. In the next place, it was stated that the same individual had lent the further sum of 500l. without the payment of interest, to the building fund of the school, and this without the slightest prospect of return. He might say, that nearly the same circumstances were connected with the other school. He would only add, that he was an annual subscriber to six schools in that neighbourhood. There was a seventh; but that it might be said he subscribed to as one of the county Members. He was extremely reluctant to mention these circumstances, but they were almost extorted from him. He did not pretend to say that, in what he had mentioned, he had even done his duty, or that he was perfectly satisfied; but he repelled the charge of the hon. Member for Stockport, that the peasantry of his neighbourhood were grossly ignorant, and that nothing had been done for the promotion of education amongst them. But was it to be borne that even if the peasantry were in a state of ignorance greater than was to be met with in other districts, that any member of this society which had so much agitated the country, should make a charge of this kind, heavy and severe as he should have felt it to be if it had been in any degree true? It had struck him with some surprise that, subsequent to the former debate, when large bodies of persons thought it tit or necessary to congratulate the hon. Member for Stockport as to the figure which he had displayed in that House, and on the impression which he had made, that it was rather infelicitous that the first ground of congratulation to the hon. Member was on his stern regard to justice. Was it, he would ask, from a stern regard to justice that the hon. Member proceeded to censure before he collected even the evidence? Was such a proceeding consistent with any equitable or Christian feeling, or was it a way in which the debates should be carried on in that House, involving such serious charges against the characters of individuals? If such were the hon. Member's notions of a stern sense of justice, he hoped that it was a description of justice with which he should not often be brought into contact. He hoped that he had now said sufficient to vindicate himself from the mistakes into which the hon. Member had fallen, for still he should feel himself bound to suppose them to be such. He begged, however, once more to guard the House from supposing that in what he had done he claimed any merit to himself; for all that he wished to show was, that the labourers in his part of the country were not precisely in the situation in which they had been described to be, or that they were worse educated than in the surrounding districts. He did not, however, pretend to say that they were in a better condition than in other parts. He had been told that in some parts of the county wages were higher than in his neighbourhood: he hoped that this was the case, and that they would continue high. He flattered himself that he had now sufficiently disposed of all these charges; but there were still a few other points with respect to which he wished to make some observations. As for the line of conduct taken by the hon. Member for Stockport, who had been elected by a large constituency, and who was distinguished for his eminent talent, he would only say that he felt called upon to give an answer to all the questions which applied to the situation of his property. There was one question which the hon. Member, however, had put to him, which he did not think was altogether fair, he meant when the hon. Member asked him what he would say at the next agricultural dinner at Blandford. In reply, however, he would observe that he could not exactly tell, for the hon. Member for Stockport might be there himself. The hon. Member had said in his speech on the former occasion, that at the next dinner one black sheep would be there, and he had told the House what he would say. Now he would just state what he would say in answer, if the hon. Gentleman did make his promised observation. The hon. Member had alluded to what he said about the sun gilding the spire of the church, and the dome of the palace, and the thatch of the cottage; and the hon. Member added, that the black sheep he alluded to would get up and add, that it also shone on the chimney of the landlord. Now, if he heard any such observation at that dinner from the hon. Member, he would say yes, and the factory chimney too—that tall, gawky, ugly chimney, which poured forth volumes of smoke—that chimney to which might appropriately be applied the lines,— The ' tasteless' column pointing to the skies, Like a tall bully lifts its head and lies. It might be his duty, as chairman of that dinner, to propose a health. He might have to say he had to propose a toast in honour of a distinguished individual who was present, and who was no personal friend of his, but as he was the son of a farmer, and was descended from a long line of Sussex yeomanry, he came among them in sheep's clothing. The hon. Member had also said that he would put the agriculturists on their defence, and should call upon them to show the benefit which protection had conferred on agriculture. His answer was, that protection had brought thousands and thousands of acres into cultivation, which never could have taken place but for protection, and the labourers who tilled it, therefore, never could have been employed. The culture and enclosure of waste land had been going on rapidly for years, until the present check was put upon it, and until means were found of inspiriting the agriculturists with confidence, a stop would be put to its progress. He recollected travelling from his father's house to London, which was about 100 miles, at a time when there was forty miles of waste land to be seen, and now there was not ten miles. No land could have formerly looked more unpromising and more hopeless than this land in Dorsetshire, Hampshire, and Surrey, but in travelling this road now, it would be seen that villages had sprung up, and thousands of husbandmen were employed on it. If the hon. Member had been in Dorsetshire, he must have been much struck with surprise at the desolate state of some of the land on the entrance of that county, but it was not worse than much of that now under profitable cultivation. In the union in which he lived, he knew that a few weeks ago there was not a single able-bodied labourer on the rates, and this was the effect of the enclosure of waste lands, which it was the object of the hon. Member for Sheffield's motion to put a stop to. To-morrow night that dangerous body the Anti-Corn-law League were to remove to a larger scale of agitation, and were to appear at the first theatre of the town. On that occasion, the hon. Member for Stockport was to take his benefit, and was to be the lion of the show. He wished to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the money collected by this body. He should like to know where it was lodged, as it would enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to apply for the income-tax. They were told, that this year the fund collected was 50,000l., and next year it would be 100,000l. which, taken at the medium of the two years would give 75,000l. to be rated to the tax. With respect to associations generally, he would not give any opinion of his own, but would refer to some expressions which he found on the subject in a debate which took place in 1825. The first quotation was— The House would bear in mind that this association, though a public body, differed from most public meetings in this point—that they were all of one mind. There was no competition of opinion; no opposing voice was heard. Every speech was previously arranged, and every decision was unanimous. Indeed, if any unhappy adversary had the hardihood to present himself, he would most probably get a reception which Would prevent any repetition. Formed as such a body was, there was a danger in the indefinite qualities of its constituency, and in its indefinite duration. Under different circumstances, the fickleness of the multitude might operate as a check to the probable evil results of such an association; but he was compelled, with regret, to say, that a most influential body, whose duty it was to impart religious consolation, and to keep themselves apart from political contention, not only encouraged, but assumed a part of its powers. Next, in upholding that association were to be found men of disappointed ambition and considerable talents, who exerted themselves, no matter whether on real or imaginary grievances, in exciting the public feeling against the Government; and in inflaming the population against the laws, and what they described a prodigal and corrupt administration of them. And again, subsequently was the following passage:— Now, he thought that no man who understood the constitution of the country, could contemplate the levying of money upon his Majesty's subjects by an irresponsible body, to be applied to objects not previously defined, but at the discretion of the self-constituted authority by which such money was called for, with any other feeling than that of unequivocal disapprobation. This was the language of his right hon. Friend, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the bill against illegal associations in Ireland. The next opinion he should quote was that of the right hon. Baronet now at the head of the Governmen:— He would first notice an argument that had been made use of, in the course of this discussion, by an hon. Member, the effect of which, if it were well founded, would be to take away from Government, or from Parliament rather, all right of interference in the case of associations that might be deemed illegal. The hon. Gentleman had expressly said, ' he would not vindicate the acts of the Catholic Association; he thought them to be, in many respects, indefensible, and he could not stand forward as their advocate.' But still that hon. Gentleman conceived, that the hands of the House were tied up—that these people laboured under such a grievance, as took from the House all right of interference with their proceedings; those proceedings being admitted, by the hon. Gentleman himself, to be indefensible. Why, if this were so, there was an end of all their deliberations in that House, on this or any other subject. If that doctrine was to prevail, it must follow that the subjects of this country, if they should imagine themselves to be suffering under a grievance of this or any other kind, might resort to unconstitutional measures for their redress; which measures, however, Parliament Could not interpose to check, until those grievances should have been first removed. Now, he maintained, that from the moment Parliament recognised such a doctrine as this, they would abdicate their legislative functions altogether. It seemed necessary to approach this argument in the first place, before he proceeded to any other observations; for if the principle were once accepted, where was its application to terminate? Where were these associations to end? There were many persons who considered the representation of the people in Parliament to be so bad and imperfect, that a large portion of the people were deprived of their rights. Now, that might be considered a grievance, and a grievance of a very heavy kind; and, if the argument he had alluded to was to be admitted, why might not the country expect an association for the purpose of obtaining Parliamentary reform. [Cries of "Hear, hear."] What would be the consequence of such a system he knew not; but he called upon the hon. Gentlemen, who expressed by their cheers their willingness to have such associations, that if they admitted the principle in one case, they must expect associations for the removal of every real or supposed grievance; and if Parliament should afterwards think of putting an end to them, the answer would be, that the subjects of the country, and not its Legislature, were the proper judges of those grievances, and of the propriety of the measures to be taken to redress them. That, however, was not his reading of the law. He conceived Parliament to be the sole constitutional judge of these matters, and if the Parliament thought a law ought to be continued, those who fancied themselves aggrieved by it must not resort to unconstitutional measures to procure its abolition. They might petition—they might represent their grievances to Parliament, and their petitions and representations would be taken into consideration: but Parliament would abandon its duty, if it allowed any body of men to act independently of its authority, and only according to their own free pleasure. These were the words of the right hon Member for Tamworth in 1825, and they exactly described the association now in question [Cheers]. The noble Member for Sunderland cheered; in reference, perhaps, to the circumstance that the association thus censured by Parliament in 1825 did in the end succeed. He would beg, then, to recall the recollection of the House to another association, which did not succeed in the end, though it produced great excitement and popular commotion in its progress. In 1778, there was another association—not a Catholic but a Protestant association, which consisted of amiable and religious persons, but attracted little observation until it chose Lord George Gordon as its head. In 1779 they directed their attention to the repeal of a particular law, and they chose Lord George Gordon as their head—ac- cording to the account given of the matter by Mr. Kenyon, afterwards the Lord Chief Justice—because they thought that as he was a man of high character, of blameless life and conversation, of moral and religious habits, their having him at their head would give weight to their deliberations; and if he carried their representations to the foot of the Throne, he was sure to be attended to. The transactions of 1780 he need not particularise. The course which that society pursued was to meet at different large halls within the metropolis—Coachmakers' Hall being their chief place of meeting; but it never occurred to them that it would be legal for that purpose to hire a theatre—they never hired Drury-lane Theatre for their meeting—but when they became too numerous for the size of their buildings, they met in the open air, in St. George's Fields, and the reasons for which they met were remarkable. The resolution appointing that meeting was as follows:— Resolved—That this association do meet on Friday next, the 12th of July, to consider the most prudent and respectful manner of attending their petition, which is to be presented on that day to the House of Commons. That was very different from the tone adopted by the Anti Corn-law League. The results were but too well known; the Solicitor-general, at the subsequent trial of the rioters, stated that during a considerable part of that afternoon there was not one of the Members in that House who could feel confident that he would leave the House alive. The Lords and the Bishops were also attacked. In the night, some of the Catholic chapels were attacked. Still the Government did nothing. On the Saturday all seemed to be quiet, and the Government almost congratulated itself that it had done nothing. On Sunday, however, it broke out again, and for a week from that time the whole of the metropolis was in the hands of the mob. The King was in his palace; the Commander-in-Chief was at Whitehall; but the only man, he believed, who showed any personal courage, and even common prudence, on that occasion, was the Sovereign, whom the Anti Corn-law League described in one of their papers as "Stupid George the Third." The Anti Corn-law League was pursuing the same course now, which had been pursued by the Association of 1778 in its outset; meeting in large rooms, and collecting petitions to be brought with great effect before the House; but the present association was certainly going much beyond that of 1778, in thus announcing a public meeting in a public theatre. He would put it to the House and to the Government, whether this was not a subject fit for the consideration of Parliament, seeing, as they did, that from day to day some new attempt was made, some new expedient for getting up public interest and public excitement. Public excitement was what the League professedly and publicly desired; their complaint was, that hitherto they had not been able to produce this excitement; and, accordingly, first one scheme and then another was resorted to, and now they were about to try a public theatre. One thing was quite certain, that until they had produced it, they would not come before the House practically with a proposition as to the Corn-laws. It was the absence of the required excitement that had occasioned the postponement of the hon. Member for Dumfries' notice; it was this that had caused the postponement of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton's motion on the Corn-laws; for the League were conscious that at this moment there was no feeling in unison with theirs throughout the metropolis, and very little throughout the country at large. He could not refrain from humbly submitting to his right hon. Friends that this was a matter not unworthy of their consideration, and as far as regarded the subject publicly, he was quite content to leave it entirely to their opinion. As to matters affecting those who, like himself, desired to live quietly and safely among their tenantry in the country, the Ministry had not the power of knowing, as he and other gentlemen in the country had, the enormous extent of mischief which might be produced—which was attempted to be produced, at this present time, by the emissaries of this League. He did not complain that the emissaries of this League, in his own neighbourhood, had endeavoured to shake any influence he might have there, or taken steps to prevent, if possible, his future return. He cared not for that, and he would further tell the hon. Member for Stockport, that if he could influence public opinion against Gentlemen who differed from him, there was no seat so much in danger as his (Mr. Bankes') own; for his seat depended entirely on public opinion, and he desired to retain it only so long as public opinion went with him. He had no reason to seek for any Ministerial support in the county which he represented; but he looked to Ministers for the peace of his private life—for the comfort, happiness, and welfare of the peasantry who lived around him. He looked to them to drive away, by some means or other, this new mode of sending emissaries throughout the country, paid emissaries; for such were avowed and boasted of by the hon. Member for Stockport. It was of this he complained; and it was from this he intreated the Government to protect the country; as one of their fellow citizens, as a faithful and dutiful subject of the Crown, he asked, he besought, he demanded this at the hands of her Majesty's Ministers. The hon. Member concluded by moving, That it is expedient, as a remedy for a state of anxiety, embarrassing and unfair to the agriculturists, and injurious to commerce, that the attention of this House be directed to the continued existence of associations, which, in matters affecting agriculture and commerce, pretend to influence the deliberations of the Legislature, and which, by their combination and by their proceedings, are at once dangerous to the public peace, and inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution.

Mr. Cobden

was very sorry that for a single moment, he should divert the attention of the House from a question of paramount importance to one which bore much of a personal character. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had totally misunderstood him, if he thought for one moment, that he (Mr. Cobden) was so bad a tactician, even were he not restrained by a sense of justice, as to make this great national question a mere vehicle for personal altercation. He had told the hon. Member for Dorsetshire what the labourers in his county—what the labourers, indeed, on the hon. Gentleman's own estates there—were paid; but he had not charged him with giving them less wages than other people did. Did the hon. Gentleman suppose, that they who employed labourers could give what wages they pleased? He had heard such a doctrine at agricultural dinners from those who were occupying the chair, but in the part of the country from which he came, such a doctrine would not be listened to for an instant; it was not there imagined, that those who lived on the profits of labour had the power of dispensing to their labourers just what amount they pleased. He had meant no attack personally on the hon. Member; but when hon. Gentlemen came down to the House to support laws which they had passed professedly for the benefit of the labourers on their estates, and of the whole class of agricultural labourers, he and those who thought with him, had a right to tell these hon. Gentlemen and the country at large, that these labourers were, in point of fact, getting less wages than were being paid in the manufacturing districts, for the same amount of labour. It was not the hon. Gentleman he had attacked; it was not him he spoke against; it was the system supported by the hon. Gentleman which he assailed, and upon which he charged the great evil that the agricultural labourers were not better paid than they were. It was this system which was destroying the trade of the seaport towns, for instance, in which the men of Dorsetshire were immediately interested. There was Poole, which might be a flourishing seaport town, and ought to be so, and which, f it were so, might give greatly increased impetus to the agricultural industry of the country, how had its trade been injured by the operation of this miserable law, and how had Dorsetshire itself, altogether, which, from its superior maritime position, ought, under a proper state of things, to be one of the most flourishing counties in England, suffered from this same law? As to the declaration of the hon. Gentleman respecting wages, he was sorry the hon. Gentleman had not told the House something on his own authority. Why had not the hon. Gentleman, if he would persist in making this a personal matter, told the House, on his personal authority, what wages were actually paid on his own estates! But no; the hon. Gentleman had read various letters, telling them what was paid for certain descriptions of labour; now he was, as the hon. Gentleman had observed, a farmer's son, and he knew that it was a most fallacious thing to rely upon what particular men were earning in particular places, under particular circumstances. What they wanted to know from the hon. Member for Dorset was, what were the average wages of labourers in Dorsetshire? and, in the absence of information from the hon. Gentleman, he would now state to him, and to the House, and to the country, that in what he had said some time ago, as to the payment of labour in Dorsetshire, he had overstated the real amount; for, whereas he had said, that the average of wages was 8s. a-week, he had since been informed, on the best authority, that wages there varied between 6s. and 8s. a-week, for able-bodied labourers; the average being not 8s. but 7s. a week, the year through. This he stated in the face of the House and of the country; and were he disposed to deal with the hon. Gentleman personally, he could tell him that he had documents in his pocket on which he could rely, that would show that there was a district on the hon. Gentleman's own estates in a condition very different from anything he had described to the House. He could show, that people there were living in huts more like rabbit-holes than houses, that these huts had been complained of by the surgeon of the union in which they were situated; that there had been remonstrances against them, as being calculated to produce diseases, and to injure the public health, but that notwithstanding all this, they had not been removed or altered. He spoke of a district in the Isle of Purbeck, with which no doubt the hon. Gentleman was acquainted. The hon. Gentleman spoke of him in connection with Dorsetshire; he had not been in the county yet, but he had received a great many communications from thence, differing widely from what the hon. Gentleman had told the House. There was, at all events, one fact, standing unimpeached on official authority which the hon. Gentleman had not grappled with—namely, that, in Dorsetshire, one out of every seven of the whole population was a pauper. This the House had on Parliamentary evidence. How, then, could the hon. Gentleman get up and read letters from farmers here and there, setting forth that there was no want of employment, and that no man who chose to work, but might have employment? How, with such facts staring them in the face, could hon. Gentlemen come down to the House and advocate the Corn-laws as a benefit to the labourers? How could they, with their own estates in such a condition, seek to maintain a law which, while it ruined the manufacturing interests of the country, threw one out of every seven in an agricultural population into a state of absolute pauperism, and gave the rest 7s. a-week as wages? The hon. Member, after waiting three weeks, had given in his conned speech, but a very poor answer to the opponents of the Corn-laws: his dull jokes about chimnies were but a sorry answer to facts. The hon. Gentleman had made it a charge against him, that he sent emissaries into the hon. Gentleman's own district. It was difficult to know how to deal with the hon. Gentleman. One moment he quarrelled with the League for wishing to make a public demonstration in the metropolis, in Drury-lane theatre, which did not suit the hon. Gentleman, as being a violent proceeding; and the moment after, he quarrelled with the League equally for sending quiet, solitary individuals into the country districts, to distribute printed tracts. As to the meeting in Drury-lane, he had to thank the hon. Gentleman for having so efficiently advertised it. And he would promise, the lion. Gentleman, in return, that if he would condescend to come and look at them, with any of his Friends who had been cheering him on that night, they should have, not, perhaps, the Queen's box—for that might be shut up, but any Other public one that could be obtained; and he was sure that any Leaguer who might have a previous claim would willingly resign it in favour of the hon. Gentlemen. As to the question before the House. The hon. Member for Sheffield had brought forward this motion for the purpose of giving hon. Gentlemen opposite the opportunity of explaining to the public what were those exclusive and heavy burdens which the land bore, and for which the whole of the population were called upon to support the bread-tax. One objection to the proposed committee had been assigned by the hon. Gentleman opposite; he said, that if the committee were granted it might produce an impression in the country that the Corn-laws were going to be altered, and, therefore, for that was what it amounted to, he would not attempt to justify the Corn-laws at all! What the objections might be which hon. Gentlemen opposite and the Ministry had to the question, he did not pretend to say, and, to speak honestly, he was very indifferent about the matter. The country at large looked at these things in a broad and intelligent way, and when the people saw that this motion had been brought forward on such able grounds as had been set forth by the hon. Member for Sheffield, when they saw he had substantiated his case in so clear and unanswerable a manner, and when they found that hon. Gentlemen opposite refused this reasonable challenge, they would at once decide that the men who refused it knew that they could not refute the charges to be made and proved against the law in committee. What other objection was there to going into the committee? There was no business, that he was aware of, before the House of any sort of importance; nay, he had heard it whispered, that already Government wished to get rid of them altogether, and for his part, he should not be surprised at the Government, when they had got all the money they wanted, sending them all about their business any time after Easter. There was nothing at all for the House to do which could interfere with this committee. The Somnauth discussion, which the country did not care at all about, was now over, and left no sort of excuse for them. No, no; depend upon it, if the supporters of this law felt they had anything of a case, there was nothing which would more delight them than to bring forward that case now, when so heavy a suspicion had fixed itself in men's minds against them—there was nothing would so delight them as to come before the honest, truth-loving, fair-dealing people of this country, who were generally becoming convinced that they had not been fairly dealt with by their legislators, and prove to them, if they could, that they had been honestly treated. But did they think they should escape the public condemnation? Did they think that any amount of sophistry, come from what quarter it might, would protect them from that censure and indignation at the hands of the country which they so richly merited? The hon. Member for Sheffield had brought forward this question so fully and so ably, that he had left nothing for him to add on the subject. As to the Anti-Corn-law League, he hoped that no hon. Gentleman would think it worth his while to defend the League from the attack of the hon. Member for Dorset. On the contrary, he was much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for what he had said about it; and when they had had a little more of the kind of attack which they had had lately—when they had been charged with a few more crimes, a few more sins; and these charges were at- tended with the same reaction, of which reaction public men should always have a wholesome dread—there was no doubt the League would really be as powerful as it had been described to be. After all, what was this League? They might call it what they pleased, but it was nothing more than the organisation of public opinion—men rushing together to protect themselves from a common wrong, not by violence not by brute force, but by that which hon. Gentlemen opposite more dreaded—intelligence. Their system was the offspring of short-sighted ignorance, and the League would pull it down by knowledge. It wanted no other means than those quiet missionaries, those tracts that were sent throughout the country to overturn the system; and it was because every freeholder in Dorsetshire had got a budget of those tracts, that the ire of the hon. Gentleman had been so much excited; that was the secret of all the indignation he had directed against the League. The hon. Gentleman was quite welcome to entertain his feelings of indignation. He expected in every county to be made the object of similar attacks. Like the dashing of the water against the bows of a vessel, it showed the progress they were making. The public would not be satisfied that the League were expending the 50,000l. to advantage if hon. Members did not make an outcry. He should have to-morrow many additional subscriptions sent in, as a reward for the manner in which they had succeeded in exciting the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. He assured the hon. Gentleman that the farmers were taking the most lively interest in this question. Yesterday he spent a most delightful evening at Southampton, where a large deputation attended from Portsmouth and Gosport, and a great many farmers who came from a distance of between thirty and forty miles, who dared not attend such meetings in their own districts, were present to hear him. He assured the hon. Member for Bridport that he would shortly be in Dorsetshire. He had already fixed for Taunton, and he had no doubt he should have the half of Somersetshire to listen to him. This was the way to carry any public question in England. It was not by hiring people to appear in false colours, as the party opposite had done,—hiring poor abject men to assume the character which did not belong to them, for the purpose of defending their starvation code. He had proofs against the party opposite; they had been going on in an under-hand mole-like manner. Hon. Gentlemen might fancy they had something wherewith to threaten the League in their blue books; he had a green bag against them. Yes, he could bring some facts that would startle them. He had facts that would implicate some of the highest in rank in this country for lending themselves to a system bordering as near as possible on assisting the mob in downright force and violence. But the League repudiated all such means, they never resorted to them. Their course was to get as many electors about them as possible; they looked out for the most influential audience they could find, and when collected together they always managed to convince them, which was more, he believed, than the hon. Member for Dorsetshire could say. Having upon this occasion satisfied the hon. Gentleman that he was not at all displeased with the attack which had been made upon him, and disavowing, as he did most sincerely, having had the folly to charge upon him individually all the evils of a system which the hon. Member upheld in ignorance, he would leave the merits of the question on the arguments adduced by his hon. Friend the mover of this resolution.

Mr. Wykeham Martin

Sir, I am anxious, before the time arrives at which those who are more in the habit of addressing the House are accustomed to rise, to make a few observations on some points in the Speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, which has reference to a subject which has accidentally come very prominently under my notice. I mean the Poor-rates. The hon. Member seems to think that when he has shewn that the land bears a certain proportion of that burthen, and the house property another proportion, he has fully stated the whole case between the landed and the commercial portions of the community. But I think I shall be able to shew, even to the hon. Member himself, that the case is widely different. It appears to be his idea, and that of many other persons, that there are two great interests in the country—the landed and the commercial—and that justice will be done if each of these bears the half of whatever burthens may be imposed in the way of taxation. But it will, I think, be found, that whether we take the test of population, or whether we take the test of property, the landed interest do not constitute more than one third of the community, and that therefore one third, and not the half is their share of the national burthens. It is perfectly true, as he has said, that the house property, does bear a considerable share of the burthen of the Poor-rate—in fact the house property and the landed property between them, bear the whole of that burthen. But there is an immense mass of property besides these which bears no part of the burthen whatever. If we take the estimate made by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, for the income-tax, we shall find that the landed interest is estimated at 39,400,000l.; tithes at 3,500,000l.; and mines at 1,500,000l.; making together 44,000,000l.; but the railroads, canals, &c, are stated at 3,429,000l., and the houses at 25,000,000l., making in the whole 72,829,000l. Whilst, on the other hand the funds are 30,000,000l., the income from trades 56,000,000l., that from public offices, &c, 7,000,000l., and the tenants rents 26,000,000l., making in all 119,000,000l., without saying anything of mortgages, which do not contribute one farthing towards rates of any kind. We may further illustrate this by taking as an instance the case of a person who derives an income of 5,000l. a year from land, and one who has the same sum in the funds. The landowner, through his tenants, is taxed to the rates for every farthing of his income. The fundholder probably lives in a house rated at 300l. a year. The landowner, at 2s. in the pound, pays 500l. a year to the rates. The fundholder, at 2s. in the pound, pays 30l.; and a difference of this kind will be found to run throughout the whole. And further, it is not upon the landed interest generally, but upon the property of the owners of land that this tax falls, viz., upon the 44,000,000l., exclusive of the rents of the tenants, and therefore the property so taxed will be found to be something less than a third and more than a fourth of the whole income of the country. The hon. Member quoted some returns signed by Mr. Rowbotham and he appears to have made a mistake in stating the results. He said that the whole amount paid in a series of years amounted to about 404,000,000l., that the landed property had paid somewhat more than 200,000,000l., and the house property about 150,000,000l. and that the house property had paid rather more than half the whole amount paid. He must have intended to say, though, if I caught his words correctly; he did not say it, that the house property paid more than half of the amount paid by the land. I think probably that this was about the correct proportion, but we must not forget the immense mass of property before specified which pays no rates at all. The hon. Member also laid great stress upon the amount paid by the monied interest as legacy and probate duty. But he omitted to state that the land pays a large amount upon transfers in the shape of a stamp duty upon deeds. In the year 1838, the duty upon deeds was 1,452,334l. In 1839 it was 1,482,651l. In 1838 the duty on legacies aud probates together was 2,079,894l. In 1839 it was 1,890,539l. In 1841 the duty on deeds was about the same sum, viz. 1,476.737l., and, on the other, 2,024,671l. Now, if we try these amounts by the test specified above, viz. that the proportion of the land should be one third, I think that even on this—the strong point of the hon. Member for Sheffield—the two interests will stand very fairly. I am perfectly aware that a portion of the duty on deeds is levied on commercial deeds. ["Hear," from Mr. Williams.] But the hon. Member for Coventry will find that leasehold property in land, and the portions of younger children charged on land, are subject to the legacy and probate duties; and if we set off these last against the commercial portion of the stamp duty on deeds, which I think we may fairly do, the proportion will still continue much the same. I have also to request the attention of the House to the observations of the hon. Member for Sheffield on the subject of the land-tax. He asserts that that impost was a substitute for the burthen of the feudal tenures. Now, that assertion was made in this House last Session, and, in the interval, I have made it my business to refer to the Act of Charles 2nd, by which the feudal tenures were abolished, and to that of William and Mary, by which the land-tax was imposed. The hon. Member was quite correct in saying that the excise and not the land-tax was the substitute that was imposed by the Act of Charles 2nd. And the reason assigned in the preamble of the act is not such as it has been repre sented to be, but because those tenures, &c. has been found by experience much more burdensome, grievous, and prejudicial to the kingdom than they have been beneficial to the King." And doubtless they were a burthen to all there classes as well as to the land; for the towns themselves, when the feudal system was in its full vigour, were obliged to pay contributions to the powerful persons in their neighbourhood for their protection. But the hon. Member ought to give to the landed interest in this case the benefit of the corresponding principle to that which he has applied against them in the case of tithes. He said, in that case, and he said justly, that there was no proprietor whose title to his property was so old as to be prior to the commencement of tithes; and that, therefore, we had no right to complain of tithes as a burthen. That we had bought or inherited or acquired our estates subject to that deduction, and that it was a portion of the property that we had never possessed. Now, in the same manner it might be said, that the landed proprietors of the present day had acquired their properties free from the feudal burthens. If inquiry were made it would be found that a very inconsiderable fraction of the landed interest could trace back the possession of their properties to the feudal times. Few could even date so far back as the act of 1660, when the feudal tenures were abolished by Charles 2nd; or rather to 1645, when they were abolished during the troubles; for the Act of Charles 2nd. was only a confirmation of what had been done during the Commonwealth. And the hon. Member must be aware, from his knowledge of history, that the feudal system was practically at an end, that it was extinguished and effete long before that time. But it has occurred to me at this moment to observe, that even with respect to those who could go back to the feudal times, the law had long established against them the same principle that they claimed against the Crown. The manors they had originally received had been granted out upon rents, which, though adequate at first, had become wholly different from their real value by the change of times; and yet the law allowed no charge of the rents upon copyhold tenures; though every one who knew anything of those tenures was aware how perfectly nominal were the quit rents by which they were still held. And as to the Act of William and Mary, in 1692, by which the land-tax was first imposed, the preamble had no allusion to the feudal tenures as the reason of its being enacted. On the contrary, it assigned a totally different reason. It ran thus:— We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects the Commons assembled in Parliament, having seriously considered the great occasions which engage your Majesties to many extraordinary expenses for the necessary defence of your realms, and the prosecution of a vigorous war against France, have cheerfully and unanimously given and granted unto your Majesties the rates and assessments hereafter mentioned. And after the statements which has been made, to the effect that that impost applied solely to the land, the House would probably be surprised to hear what the enactments of that statute really were. The second section imposes 24s. for every 100l. estate in ready moneys, debts, goods, wares, or merchandise, stock upon lands, goods used as household stuff, &c, which be it observed is a tax of 4s. in the pound upon money at an interest of 6 per cent. The third section imposes 4s. in the pound upon salaries, pay of officers, &c, and the fourth section imposes 4s. in the pound upon lands, tenements, mines, tithes, manors, &c. Thus it would seem that the act of 1692, instead of being a mere tax upon land is, as nearly as possible, a facsimile of the income tax imposed in the last Session of Parliament. I have one more observation to make before I sit down. The argument of the hon. Member for Sheffield is evidently directed against the Corn-laws. Now I for one have never rested the defence of the Corn-laws upon the burthen borne by the land, but upon grounds of general policy. I believe that we have a fair right to expect the principle to be adopted in our case which has been universally recognised in all our legislation, namely, that when any change would occasion wide-spread misery and destitution amongst large masses by the disruption of the channel of employment, the rest of the community have either forgone the change altogether, or introduced it so gradually as to diminish or to obviate the misery likely to be occasioned by it. But admitting his principle for argument's sake, I think the calculations he has quoted from Mr. Deacon Hume, Mr. Macgregor, and others, as to the tax imposed on the manufacturing community by the enhancement of the price of corn, are very much overstated. It appears to me that the agriculturists and that portion of the manufacturers who depend upon the home market are one section of the body politic, and that their interests are identical. It matters not to that portion of the manufacturers whether they buy dear of the farmers and sell at a high price to them, or whether they buy cheap and sell cheap. Now the whole of this body pay as consumers their own share of the burthen caused by the augmented price of corn. It is therefore only the portion consumed by the exporting manufacturers that ought to be taken into the account; and if we take them and their dependants at 7,000,000 persons, consuming a quarter of corn each annually, and state the enhancement of the price by the protective duties at 10s. a quarter, we shall have about 3,500,000l. as the sum which they have to pay. I do not know what should be added for oatmeal and other kinds of corn, nor do I pretend to give these figures as an accurate representation of the results of the protective duties; but I do think that they are sufficiently near the truth to justify me in believing that the statements that have been made on this subject are erroneous in principle and very considerably exaggerated. I have only now to thank the house for the patience with which they have heard me.

Mr. Williams

said, that the two hon. Members who had spoken on the other side, whose speeches he had attentively listened to, had not answered a single point of the arguments which had been brought before the House in support of the motion. His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, had stated the case so clearly and so fully, that he had left but little for any one else to say. If his arguments were capable of being answered, the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. W. Martin) would have answered them, but they had completely failed to show that the landed interest were subject to any peculiar burthens. The hon. Member for Newport had indeed started a new doctrine, and attempted to make it out that the landowners paid their share of the high prices caused by their own monopoly. [Mr. W. Martin had not said the land- owners, but the landed interest, including the farmers and the labourers.] The hon. Gentleman had referred to the landed interest, and had endeavoured to show that they paid the tax caused by their own monopoly. Who, he would ask, occupied the larger portion of this metropolis? Who, but a population which lived chiefly on the produce of taxation? Including the Church revenues. [An hon. Member: and the Poor-rates.] He was coming to that—a large portion of the people of this metropolis lived on the 52,000,000l. of taxes, which were chiefly spent in the metropolis. The traders who occupied houses paid all rates and taxes, the same as the inhabitants of the agricultural districts. Looking at the returns laid on the Table last May, he affirmed that the whole landed property of the country was not assessed to more than 1,000,000l. above the dwelling houses. Again, the amount of the county and poor-rates was 6,300,000l; and of that sum the land paid only 200,000l. more than the dwelling houses. He could not see in those items any proof that the landed interest was more burthened than any other interest. The landed interest including the rich classes, had always had the power of levying taxes—and they had invariably taken care of themselves. He would refer to the mortgage duties as one instance. If a shopkeeper wanted to borrow 50l. to improve his shop—if he borrowed it on mortgage, he had to pay a duty of 20s., but if a landowner borrowed ever so largo a sum on mortgage, he paid only a duty of 25l. The highest mortgage duty was 25l. on all mortgage deeds for 20,000l. and upwards. He had heard of a great, landowner who had mortgaged his estates to one of the great companies for 300,000l. and he had paid only 25l. while, if he had been taxed in the same proportion as the shopkeeper, who borrowed 50l. on mortgage, his tax would have amounted to 6,000l. The taxes on conveyancing which were said to be paid by the landed interest, were paid on the conveyance of houses, and were paid by the town people as well as the landowners. It was the case, too, that the tax on a conveyance of only 20l., was 20s. while the highest tax of that kind levied on conveyance was 1,000l., and an estate conveyed of the value of 1,000,000l. paid no higher duty than the sum of 1,000l. If they looked through the whole of the stamp duties they would find, that the same proportions as he had shown prevailed in all. With respect to the burthens borne by the land, lie denied that tithes were a tax. They were a portion of the property of the soil appropriated to the clergy; they were public property, and could never be allowed to go to the landowners. Should even the voluntary principle be adopted, the landowners would not get the tithes, and if they hoped they would, he hoped that the Lord Chancellor would prrovide for their monomania in his new bill. He had looked at the general taxation of the empire, and divided it into four classes. Taking it at round numbers, it was in all about 51,500,000l. The first class, about 25,300,000l., consisting of the taxes on British and foreign spirits, on malt, on corn, bricks, tiles, timber, &c, he contended was almost exclusively paid by the middle and working classes. The second class, amounting to 11,000,000l., consisting of the taxes on sugar, molasses, coffee, &c, was paid in much larger proportions by the poor and middle class than the rich. The tax on sugar and molasses was 5,300,000l., and the same duty was levied on the coarsest sugar, consumed by the poor man, as on the best refined sugar, consumed by the rich man. The poor paid in fact, from 50 to 70 per cent, more tax on the value of the article consumed than did the rich. The tax levied on tea amounted to 4,000,000l. and the poor man paid the same tax of 2s. 2d. on his tea, the price of which was 1s. or 1s. 2d. per lb., as the rich man paid on the tea which was selling at 4s. or 5s. per. lb. without duty The poor man, then, paid from four to five times as much tax in proportion to the value of the tea as the rich man. It was the same with coffee, the coarsest kind of which consumed by the poor, cost 100 per cent, less than the finest kinds consumed by the rich, but it paid an equal duty. On soap the poor man paid as heavy a tax on his common soap as the rich man paid for the finest scented soap, which was six or seven times as high priced. On all these articles, the landowners, in common with the other opulent classes, did not pay nearly as much taxation as was paid by the poor. The next class consisted of 12,000,000l., the taxes on currants, silks, newspapers, paper, windows, &c. &c., was paid as much by the middle as the rich. The next class of 2,600,000l., consisting of the land-tax, the auction duties, and some others, were principally paid by the opulent classes, including the landowners. That was the only class of taxes which fell almost exclusively on the rich, who having had the power, had always saved themselves, and threw the taxation on the industry of the country. He admitted that the opulent classes paid their share of the income-tax but the Prime Minister had found out that the taxes on articles of consumption and on labour had reached their highest point, and to that circumstance alone we were indebted for the income-tax. Nothing more could be obtained by taxing the working classes. Having said so much of the revenue, he would now turn to the expenditure. After deducting the half-pay and pensions of the private soldiers and sailors he found that at least 14,000,000l. per annum went to placemen and pensioners. Those sums were all in the gift of the Government, and were appropriated to the upper classes or to the rich class. Thus, while the middling and working classes paid the taxes, the opulent classes, including the landowners, who had great influence over the Government, expended and enjoyed them. If there were peculiar burthens on land, they were more than made up for by the amount of public money distributed amongst the aristocracy. The burthens imposed by the landed interest on the community were enormous. The average price of wheat in France for the last seven years was 50 or 60 per cent, lower than in this country. He thought the country ought to be made distinctly aware of the nature and amount of the charges on land, which served as an excuse for the Corn-laws, and would, therefore, support the motion.

Mr. Wodehouse

said, that as the hon. Member for Sheffield had referred so particularly to him, he begged to offer a few words by way of reply. As he should vote against the motion, he would say that he was perfectly ready to meet the imputation of shrinking from inquiry. His opinion was, that the appointment of a committee of inquiry could lead to no good, and would only be made an arena for theoretical discussion without any practical result. He would say also, that whenever the hon. Member or any of his Friends should bring forward a motion for the repeal of the Corn-laws, he (Mr. Wodehouse) would meet it, as he always had met such motions, on the ground that if those laws were not defensible on general principles, they were not defensible at all. With respect to the burdens on land, if the calculations of Mr. Row- botham were to be depended on, as he believed they were, he would assert that where landed property paid 1l. he defied the hon. Gentleman to show that commercial capital paid 10d. It ought to be remembered, too, that the accumulation of commercial capital of late years had been going on at a rate that was unparalleled in the history of the world. There was another consideration. That morning a new edition of Mr. Spackman's Tables, which were referred to by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government in his speech on the Income-tax, had come out, from which it appeared that while of the population of the United Kingdom there were 7–9ths dependent on agriculture, there were only 2–9ths dependent for their welfare on manufactures. Now, God forbid that the House should be indifferent to the happiness of the 5,000,000 in the one case; yet they ought not to forget the other 20,000,000, on the other hand, whose interests were dependent on agriculture, and with the care of whose interests they were equally charged.

Mr. Cochrane

said he thought the House was much indebted to the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, for directing its attention to the conduct of the Anti Corn-law Association, and its influence upon the peace and interests of the country, was a question well worthy the attention of Parliament. The precedents of 1826 and 1829 might be cited, at which period two separate acts were passed to put down the Roman Catholic Association, and he could not bring himself to imagine that legislation was less necessary now than it was at that time, or that the proceedings of this Association were less violent than theirs. Putting out of view for a moment the immorality of such combinations, the pernicious doctrines promulgated, the treasonable speeches uttered, it behoved the House to remember that, in a military point of view, the results were much to be apprehended. There could not be a doubt that the machinery of such an association might be applied to insurrectionary purposes. The Irish rebellion was prepared through the medium of the Association of United Irishmen, for it contained within itself all the elements and discipline of war. Still he was not one of those who considered that all expressions of popular feeling were to be despised, and that all combinations and associations for the promotion of political objects were to be regarded in the same point of view; there had been conspiracies and insurrections against the established Government which must command respect, from the deep conscious feeling which called them into existence, however much he might lament the instruments made use of, and the use to which they were applied, he was by no means prepared to deny. We might lament the conduct of the Jacobites, the conspiracies which darkened the first half of the last century; but who could avoid sympathising with the devotion and the energy of those gallant spirits, who endured all, and sacrificed all, from a pure instinct of loyalty? All right-thinking men were opposed to the Roman Catholic Association, which sent its heralds of sedition into the remotest districts of Ireland; but the men so agitating at least preached a great principle, and the man who erred in judgment and made himself amenable by overt acts to the laws of his country, might yet stand acquitted to God and his own heart. But the association to which the attention of the House was now directed, what had it in common with the religious impulses of an earnest people? Without passion, then, but as a duty, he denounced such associations. He would not say that the League might not contain within it some men of good faith, who really had the welfare of their country at heart, while they were the mere tools of party or faction; but now that the leaders had been unmasked, let them leave to ignominy men who had not the courage to execute deeds which they dared to conceive—men to whom might well be applied the language of Sir James Mackintosh, in his character of Judge Jeffries— He once had that reputation for boldness which many men preserve so long as they are personally safe by violence in their councils and their language—if he feared danger, at least he never feared shame, which much more frequently restrains the powerful. It could not, surely, after the events of the last few weeks, be difficult to open the minds of men to the dangers which threatened them if these associations were not put down. If no other argument would be attended to, surely that of self-preservation must avail. "Oh," but men exclaim, "we must act with prudence." Prudence ! Why prudence consisted in adopting means to ends, and in not weakly debating when energetic action was required. It was a sad thing to peruse the factory reports recently laid upon the Table; and to see what fearful masses of ignorance and misery existed in this country, upon which the leaguers could act. These great manufacturers created the evil under which we were suffering by over production, and then proposed to remedy it by the instrumentality of the very victims which their own avarice had called into existence. With them "increase of appetite grew with what it fed on." Instead of proportioning the supply to the demand, they appeared to imagine that the demand would always keep pace with the supply; and now finding themselves in a state of manufacturing plethora, they called for a repeal of the Corn-laws; not in order that the poor might have cheaper bread for they would take good care that the wages should be lowered in proportion to the fall of prices, but in order to find some outlet for their manufactures. Now in spite of his objection to holding out inducements for fresh speculation and increased excitement, he should still be happy if the present surplus could be got rid of; but the overthrow of the agricultural interest was too great a price to pay for such a boon. He admitted that England owed much to her manufacturing prosperity. He would even concur in the opinion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, when he exclaimed What was it broke the alliance between Alexander and Napoleon? Was it the force of British arms? No, it was the power of her manufactures; and who then can say that she would become dependent upon others by stretching the mighty arms of her commerce from pole to pole! He admitted this truth, so eloquently developed, but did we, on this account, owe gratitude to the individual manufacturers? When they embarked in speculations, was it for the sake of profit, or the good of the country? Why, it was the lust of gain which stimulated them, and this by a fortunate combination of circumstances, turned to good. If they rescued the State they did so unintentionally, as the geese when they cackled saved the Capitol by accident, and not by superior-instinct. On a former occasion he had alluded to the evils of over speculation, and he repeated it was over speculation which was the ruin of the country. Had not this evil been seen in the case of China? Although the treaty was barely signed, yet what quantity of ships were now crossing the sea to find fresh markets; and if this treaty should not last, as indeed he doubted much whether it would, so opposed was it to all the prejudices of that people, then what misery must be the result? What, he asked, was the great original security of all debts, public and private? Why the land. Destroy or even weaken this security, and how long would commerce alone keep faith with the national creditor? What said Mr. Burke in an eloquent paper of his written in 1795:— It is a perilous thing to try experiments upon the farmer. The farmer's capital, except in a very few instances, is far more feeble than commonly is imagined, and the trade is a very poor trade, it is subject to great risks and losses. The capital, such as his, is turned but once a year—in some branches it requires three years before the money is paid. It is very seldom that a farmer makes twelve or fifteen per cent, on his capital, and now I am speaking of the prosperous. I have seldom known any who died worth more than paid his debts, leaving his posterity to continue the same equal conflict between industry and want in which his last predecessor and a long line of predecessors before him lived and died. But the House may doubtless say that since that period we have improved in machinery. Yes; but how had that benefitted the labourer? When you laid down the flail and applied steam power to thrashing corn, how many hands were thrown out of employ? He believed that what people termed improvements in machinery were the greatest curse to this country. His noble Friend the Member for Dorsetshire, told him the other day, that he had seen numerous factories in which a regular inventor was kept, whose only duty was to find out and adopt improvements, every one of which turned some two or three persons out of employment. He would admit the deep distress the numerous bankruptcies that prevailed but it would not benefit trade to ruin the agriculturists. There was a call for equality: yes: but what equality? Equal beggary, equal want, equal wretchedness. It was frequently said, why do you require laws to protect the aristocracy, it existed long before the introduction of protection in 1463? That the nobles were most powerful prior to that period was true; but what had this to do with agriculture? Did we not know that at that time land was almost uncultivated, or existed merely in pasture, while the authority of the princely nobles was dependent on the personal services of their followers, who lived according to the rudest system of mountain hospitality. He knew how many there were who looked back to those periods with satisfaction; but he was very doubtful if they were not led astray by romantic notions, and if the state of society—the serf and villien system—was not most deplorable. It was only when protection was introduced and agriculture improved, that the villien began to pay rent instead of personal service. With the progress of agriculture civil liberty, and the distinctions between villien and freemen were abolished. In stating this he did not overlook the influence of towns and the assertions of municipal rights. He knew they added greatly to the march of freedom; but if he granted this, the advantage of the protective system must not be denied to him. As early as the days of the prophet Samuel, we learn who were those anxious for change, "those who were in distress, those who were in debt, those who were discontented." He would then say that such were the men who sought to propagate every passion, who appealed to every prejudice, who enlisted every selfish interest under one banner, whose one watchword was "the people." "The people !" what miserable delusion is it that you alone have the interest of the people at heart, or rather that the interests you represent are the only ones that ought to be respected. Am I not speaking for the people when I call upon you to protect those who afforded you assistance in the times of danger—the great founders of your civil liberties—and who therefore bring time-hallowed associations to strengthen their personal claims? Am I not speaking in the name of the people when I call upon you to protect the vested rights of those who have ever rallied round the throne and the constitution, and to whose hereditary loyalty you are indebted for the benefits of a mixed and equitable Government? I know how powerless is every appeal made to you in favour of vested rights and ancient associations, and that, in this age, it is sufficient that a thing is old to have it thrown aside; but I will quote the language of one whose opinion in this House can never be lightly esteemed—I mean the great Judge Blackstone. He says:— It is by a due regard to vested interests we have at last obtained a constitution, in theory the most beautifal of any, in practice the most approved, and I pray (let us all join in that prayer) in duration the most permanent. A constitution which the Roman historian imagined only to doubt the possibility of its being realised, and which every continental writer since the age of Louis XIV. has regarded with mingled feelings of envy and admiration—a constitution which has survived many and great shocks—which, with majesty and equal law, has overridden the Wilkses, the George Gordons, the Hunts of the past, and will override the mob leaders (it were unparliamentary to name them) of the present day—a constitution which will never fail, if we are only true to ourselves, and if the middle class, who stand as a barrier to the encroachments of popular violence on the one hand, and monarchical despotism on the other, will not sacrifice their own rights, and those of their children and descendants, by supineness, indolence and neglect.

Mr. Gibson

said, I quite concur in what fell from an hon. Member below me, that the amendment of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire is extremely inappropriate at the present time, and that it ought not to have been moved with the view of interfering with such a definite and legitimate proposition as that which the hon. Member for Sheffield has submitted to the House. That proposition has nothing to do with associations, or agitation, or with anything of that kind. It is a simple request that the House will appoint a select committee to inquire into certain alleged burdens pressing peculiarly on the landed interest. But although I think the amendment extremely inappropriate, yet, as it has been submitted and supported by a lengthened speech, containing grave attacks on the Anti-Corn-law Association, and calling on the Government to take steps to put down that association, I think the House is bound to express an opinion upon it and I hope it will be disposed of by a distinct vote before we come to the motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield. Why has not the hon. Member for Dorsetshire suggested what he wishes to have done? He calls on Parliament to take into consideration what the hon. Member calls a dangerous association, which he says threatens the public peace and the security of life and property. Why has he not mentioned the course to be taken, if his proposition is acceded to? Does he wish for a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? Is the Government to imitate Lord Castlereagh, and bring in a bill to put down seditious assemblies? Why does he call on the House to assent to an abstract resolution, and not point out the precise plan for putting down the association? The hon. Member for Bridport ventured to hope that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would vote for this amendment. I hope he will not. I trust that no man who values the freedom of discussion, or the importance of the right of holding public meetings openly, to petition the Legislature for redress of grievances, will assent to the doctrine that meetings are to be put down by law. Let me ask, is there no Corn-law League, as well as an Anti-Corn-law League? The hon. Member for Nottingham, in his able speech in favour of a fixed duty, said fairly that he objected to a Corn-law League as well as an Anti-Corn-law League. There was a time, not very long ago, when a Corn-law League assembled in Palace-yard, and the present President of the Board of Trade spoke of country gentlemen coming up as delegates for the purpose of intimidating the Legislature. This Corn-law League combined was not for the purpose of relieving the country from a yoke, but in order to impose a yoke on their fellow-countrymen. If the House will permit me, I will read an extract on the subject from the Annual Register for 1822. It says, The beginning of the present year was marked chiefly by the clamours of farmers and landowners. Numerous meetings were held in the agricultural counties and districts for the purpose of deploring the distress of this part of the community, and voting addresses to the Legislature, calling upon it to apply a remedy. The usual nostrums were lauded. Foreign corn was to be excluded, and that exclusion was to work miracles; for these politicians were ignorant that, if there is any truth in official documents, it was long since anything but the produce of our own soil had been sold in our markets. It then recites the nostrums, and what were they?— The abolition of tithes, and a forcible reduction of the interest of the national debt. The last of these was spoken of with a complacency, and listened to with a toleration, which a few years ago would have been incredible. Country gentlemen, of moderate politics and of consequence in their own districts, were not ashamed to allude to this wild and wicked dream of rapine as a measure which might soon turn out to be most necessary and most prudent, and to hear with ap- proving silence, or, at the most, with faint and hesitating dissent, the virulent rhapsodies of political bigots and incendiaries who recommended its immediate adoption. It was a melancholy thing to see how effectual pecuniary embarrassment had been to delude many of that class, in whose soundness of principle and understanding England had long reposed confidence with a forgetfulness of justice and policy. Beginning to feel the temporary pressure of distress, they dared to raise and foster the cry, 'Plunder all, in order that we may live at ease.' This course you took in 1822. When you were distressed, not by the importation of foreign corn, but by your own policy, you proposed to relieve yourselves from inconvenience by plundering the public creditor; and Gentlemen sitting opposite to me, and now talking of violent language and improper proposals, were themselves then parties to that proposal for robbing the public creditor. Will you believe me when I say, that this same proposal to rob the public creditor is at this very moment going on. The honorary secretary of the Central Agricultural Society, now having the Duke of Buckingham as its president, and containing among its Members Lord Mountcashel, and a great many distinguished supporters of the Corn-laws, has written a letter which I now hold in my hand, a copy of which was received by the secretary of the Anti-Corn-law League, in which it is proposed that the Anti-Corn-law League should desist from agitating for the repeal of the Corn-laws, and should quietly unite with the British Agricultural Protection Society in a crusade against the public creditor. The proposal was nothing less than that the Anti-Corn-law League and the Central Protection Society for British Agriculture, should join in a co-partnership for the plunder of the national creditor. [Cries of "read."] I will read. The letter is from Mr. R. Brown, honorary secretary to the Central Agricultural Society. It is dated December 27, 1839, 21 Wigmore-street, Cavendish-square. The paragraph I wish to call attention to runs thus:— Permit me (says Mr. Brown) to take this opportunity of bringing under the consideration of the Anti-Corn-law League, and the Corn-law repealing party in general, the better policy of aiding this society in its endeavour to obtain the repeal of those laws which make money dear and Corn-laws necessary. What does that mean? Why it means, and the project aimed at is simply this: to issue an unlimited amount of bank notes, by which the debtor may pay the creditor pieces of paper of a certain nominal value of the debtor's own fixing. I therefore say, that you do not come into court with clean hands, and complain of agitation on the part of the Anti-Corn-law League. ["Oh, oh!"] Do you deny that these have been your objects formerly, and that they are your objects now? ["Oh, oh !"] I am not aware of its being denied. An hon. Member behind me says, that it is only a section of the agriculturists, but I have already stated, that the Duke of Buckingham is the president, and that the names of many of its members are the names of those who represent the great body of the agricultural interest of this country. At the head is his grace the Duke of Buckingham.

An hon. Member

on the Ministerial side of the House rose and exclaimed, "I rise to state that that circumstance is not true."

Mr. M. Gibson

proceeded to read the names of several other noblemen who were vice-presidents of the society, among whom were the Earl of Darlington, the Earl of Winchelsea, the Earl of Tankerville, the Earl of Airlie, the Earl of Hardwicke, the Earl of Delawarr, the Earl of Tyrconnel, and the Earl of Mountcashel; there were also the names of many Members of Parliament; but I do not (said Mr. Gibson) see the name of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, though I do see the names of the two hon. Members for the county of Suffolk, one of whom I recollect did once say something bearing pretty closely upon a scheme for robbing the public creditor. Now, I am prepared to say, that if the Anti-Corn-law League should ever use improper means for effecting its object, that, however good I consider that object to be, I would not be the man to support it. Let the best end fail, if it cannot be supported by proper and just means. Therefore, I am no party to support any association, whether having a public or a private object to promote, if it propose to take means which I do not think are consistent with justice and propriety. But, I contend, that the Anti-Corn-law society have done nothing more than attempt to instruct the great body of the people to spread throughout the country information upon commercial subjects, and to teach those very principles which the right hon. Baronet himself expounded in this House. The worst that you can possibly say against the Anti-Corn-law League is, that it has applied hard words to the landed proprie- tors. You may fancy that to accuse the landed proprietors of having appropriated to themselves what was not strictly their own, is a hard expression, and one calculated to wound the feelings of the landed interest of this country. But let hon. Members reflect one moment, that if the policy of the right hon. Baronet last Session was a sound and wise policy, then you are convicted, by that very policy, of having been in possession of what you were not entitled to. The right hon. Baronet deprived you of certain protection which you enjoyed previously. He told you that protection was not consistent with the welfare of the public at large. You gave him your support by your votes, and, therefore, you agreed with him in the proposition that you had been, up to that time, plundering the community. To show that I do not take a very extraordinary view upon this question, I will quote the report of the committee of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely Agricultural Association upon this subject. I believe I have used almost the very words of that association. The report says— They were astonished, they were mortified, to witness the vast majority of the landowners of this country giving the Minister their support, and so virtually becoming every one of them members of the Anti-Com-law League. Entrapped into the admission that the protection they received was immoderate, and, therefore, unjust and indefensible, what have they to complain of in the conduct of the Acklands, the Smiths, and other travelling demagogues who go about the country preaching against them, except the use of a few hard names, which for the most part they deserve, if they are sincere in their vote upon the vital subject of the law of protection? If they believe that the interest of the country and the common good do not require the protection they have enjoyed, how can they deny the justice of all the absurd abuse which has been made against them? It is impossible to contest the truth and the justice of these remarks. But for a point of form, I should have presented a petition this evening, from a number of agriculturists, who having observed the motion proposed to be made by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and feeling regret at any attempt to impede the progress of the Anti-Com-law Association, the object of which is to spread information throughout the country upon the mischievous tendency of the Corn-laws, have petitioned the House on the subject. As I was not allowed to present the petition, I will take the liberty of reading it to the House. The petition is signed by several eminent agricultural occupying tenants—men paying large rents themselves, and entirely subsisting by the profits of agriculture. The petition comes from near Alnwick, in Northumberland, It runs thus:— TO THE HONOURABLE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED, Showeth—that your petitioners are agriculturists, and belong to that class called ' occupying tenantry.' That your petitioners have observed, that a motion is about to be submitted to your honourable House, with the view of inducing Parliament to impede the operations of a certain society, called the 'Anti-Corn-law League,' in order, as is alleged, to confer a benefit on the agricultural classes. That your petitioners believe, that the proposal embodied in the above motion, emanates from, and will be supported exclusively, by persons styling themselves 'farmers' friends.' That your petitioners being themselves farmers, cannot consider those parties as 'farmers' friends,' who seek to put down the Anti-Corn-law League, inasmuch as the object of that League is to abolish a system of legislation which has frequently deceived the occupying tenantry, and been the means of involving great numbers of industrious and enterprising agriculturists in the loss of their capital, and in utter ruin. That your petitioners pray your honourable House to receive the statements of the parties calling themselves 'farmers' friends 'with great caution; for your petitioners have reason to believe that those persons, being themselves landowners, are actuated rather by a desire to keep up the rental of land than to confer any benefit on the occupying tenantry, or to promote the welfare of the community at large.—And your petitioners will ever pray. Three of the persons whose signatures are attached to this petition pay together a rental of not less than 5,000l. a-year; and one of them alone pays 1,800l. a-year. I take the liberty of calling the attention of the House to this petition, which in point of form does not allow me to present. I shall not dwell upon the subject of associations any longer; but I will take the liberty of trespassing upon the attention of the House for a few moments, in reference to the motion of my hon. Friend the member for Sheffield, which ho has submitted to it with so much ability. In the first place, I will reply to that objection made, as I thought with some force, by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. He said, If you really are sincere in wishing for free-trade, if you really desire to abolish the protective system, why do you frame a motion which seems specifically and entirely pointed at the landed interest?—why do you not come forward with some proposition to abolish all protection? The hon. Gentleman said that he, as a landowner, objected to be the first upon whom the experiment should be tried—he should like others to be participators in the experiment. There is force in the hon. Gentleman's remark. I assure the hon. Member that I am authorised, on the part of the manufacturers, most distinctly and unequivocally to declare that they are willing to abandon every title of protection; that they desire protection to be completely abolished, and that they feel that in attacking the Corn-law they are attacking the key-stone of the monopoly system; and that until they shall have abolished the Corn-laws, they shall never get the assistance of the most powerful party in the state for abolishing all other monopolies. They know perfectly well that when you are deprived of the protection you enjoy, you will assist in abolishing all other monopolies. With regard to the motion, I for one do not consider that the repeal of the Corn-laws is to be made a condition upon lessening the burthens upon land. My hon. Friend stated the same thing. He said—You have allowed that the burthen of taxation is unequally distributed, and that you bear a greater portion of the charges of the country than the rest of the community; we (said my hon. Friend) will give you the opportunity of proving the amount of this excess. We will afterwards ask Parliament to equalize taxation, and put you upon the same footing as the rest of your fellow-countrymen. That I understand to be the proposition before the House. It is a very just proposition. If hon. Gentlemen on the other side are really sincere in their statement, that they do labour under an excess of taxation, what can be more desirable than to prove the excess before Parliament, and call upon Parliament, as you will be entitled to do, in a manner which cannot be resisted for a moment, to equalize the burthens, and to put you upon the same footing as the rest of the community? With regard to the Corn-law question, I cannot consider the duties on foreign corn or restriction upon trade as a proper mode of compensating the landed interest for any excess of burthens they may bear. As regards the importation of foreign corn, I should rather say this, that if you prove the existence of any great amount of exclusive burthen—if you show that there is something in your system that prevents you from cultivating your land to any considerable extent—that is rather a reason for admitting foreign corn from those countries which can produce it cheaper. If you cannot grow corn, in consequence of your burthens, is not that a reason why others should import it? We cannot starve because you have chosen to take upon you a greater burthen than you are bound in justice to pay. You must complain and ask Parliament to remove those burthens, if they be in excess; but you cannot show that because you bear certain burthens beyond what your fellow-countrymen bear, you are therefore entitled to restrict trade. It is not a question as between the burthens imposed on land in foreign countries, and the burthens upon the land in this. It is a question as between the burthens upon different classes in this country. But whether you view it as a question of burthens on foreign and on English land, or as a question of burthens on agriculturists and manufacturers, in this country only, in either point of view, you can never make it a reason for imposing restrictions on trade. If you make it a question as between the burthens upon land in foreign countries and the burthens on land in this, and if you adhere to a Corn-law to equalize the difference of those burthens, then you must have a different Corn-law for every different country with which you trade; because there are different charges on the land in different countries; and thus you become involved in a perfect absurdity. Then, with reference to the burthens on manufactures being smaller than on agriculture. Supposing the burthens upon the county of Norfolk are greater than in the county of Essex, is that a reason why the people of Norfolk should demand that Essex should only have corn brought to market under a duty? What have I to do with the burthens of another man I If his burthens are greater than they ought to be, it is his business to complain of them, but it is no compensation to him to make me suffer. Because the manufacturers are legs burthened than the agriculturists, that therefore there should be a restriction on trade is to me a perfect mystery. I will put it mathematically to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), who is a mathematician, and will ask him how he will solve this problem:—"Given the burthens on land, given the burthens on manufac- tures, what is the state of the sliding-scale on corn which will represent the difference?" That is what you profess to do. You have actually professed to have found out a sliding scale in corn which will be the exact measure of the difference between the burthens on land and the burthens on manufactures. I must confess that the right hon. Gentleman's acuteness is what I cannot boast of possessing. The right hon. Baronet, I must also say, is justly charged with having stated that his Corn-law was a compensation for the excessive burthens on land; and the right hon. Baronet did, in his speech, strengthen the prejudice in the country, that because the land owners paid tithes, land tax, and a variety of burthens, therefore it is right and proper that traders should suffer also. The right hon. Baronet certainly has assisted in spreading what I cannot help thinking he must now feel is a prejudice. I must also say, that the right hon. Baronet gave an impulse to his party which shows itself on the present occasion—namely, in speaking sneeringly of the manufacturing industry of the country. Did not the hon. Member for Dorsetshire sneer at the tall chimneys of factories, and did he not draw a picture calculated to leave on the minds of hon. Members an unfavourable impression as to the manufacturers as a class? The right hon. Baronet is clearly subject to the responsibility of having given that impulse to his party. Did he not first sneer at the manufacturing system, when he talked about the dull succession of manufacturing towns connected by long lines of railway? Did he not draw a picture about the happy peasantry, the honeysuckles winding around their cheerful cottages, and what not? Did he not say, that he would not repeal the Corn-laws, because he did not wish to sec this country one dull succession of manufacturing towns connected together by railroads? The same sneering spirit was exhibited the other night, when, he asked, is there nothing but manufactures to be cared for? I do, therefore, complain that any attempt should he made on either side of the House to sneer at any particular branch of industry of the country. All industry is valuable, and I think this question can be discussed without any sneering at particular individuals or classes, or drawing any comparison between the humanity of the landowners and the manufacturers. The hon. Member for East Norfolk has made use of a most extraordinary argument. He says a Corn-law is justifiable, because there are more agriculturists than manufacturers—that is to say, a large number of people have a right to oppress the smaller number. Surely, there is such a thing as justice in the world. It is not because there may be numerically a larger number of agriculturists than manufacturers that, therefore, the Corn-laws are justifiable. Such a proposition must, on reflection, appear to the hon. Gentleman himself to be palpably inconsistent with the first principles of justice. I will not trespass on the House any longer. I will sit down by simply calling upon the House to deal with these two propositions as separate and distinct. Upon the first proposition the House is bound to come to a decided vote. It raises a great principle. It raises a principle which I thought was extinct in this country, after the death of the late Lord Castlereagh; and I trust the House will not feel satisfied without coming to a distinct negative upon that proposition. Then, as to the motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield, I hope the House will be induced to give its assent to it. It has been brought forward with no other motive than to show what are the burdens said to exist on the land, and with no desire to create a panic among the agriculturists, because whether you prove an excess of burdens or not, we are entitled to call upon you for a total and entire abolition of the laws which restrict foreign trade.

Sir Robert Peel

wished to take the opportunity, before the debate closed to state to the House the course which he meant to pursue, both with respect to the original motion of the hon. Gentleman, and with respect to the amendment upon that motion, moved by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. He so far concurred with the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, that he thought the hon. Gentleman who had made the original proposition had a fair right to expect that the House should decide affirmatively or negatively upon that motion. It was not in his power to give his assent to the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire. He could not be called upon by the forms of the House to give a direct negative to that amendment. The manner in which the question would be put from the Chair he apprehended would be this, whether the motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield should stand part of the question. The vote which he (Sir R. Peel) would give would be that it should stand part of the question. He should, therefore, if the majority concurred with him in opinion, indirectly negative the proposal of his hon. Friend. He should negative it upon these two grounds—he thought it had no immediate connection with the motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ward). He thought that the proposal of a resolution that certain associations were dangerous, was not a proper amendment to move upon a motion that a select committee be appointed to inquire into the burdens on agriculture. He thought there was no such necessary connection between the two as to make it a fitting amendment upon the original proposition. He rather thought his hon. Friend must entertain an opinion not very different from his, because his hon. Friend's original intention was to move it as an amendment, not upon the present motion, but upon a totally different motion, of which notice was given by the hon. Member for Dumfries; but it happening that that motion would not be brought forward so early as was expected, his hon. Friend transferred it to the motion now before the House. Upon the ground of its not being an appropriate amendment, he was prepared to express his dissent from it. But there was another ground on which he was also prepared to signify his dissent from this amendment. He decidedly objected to the House of Commons dealing with any acts which it might reprobate, or with any association which it might consider dangerous by way of resolution. How could they affect the acts or the associations by any resolution they might come to? A resolution of that House constituted no part of the law of the land. There was no obligation on individuals or on associations to defer to the resolutions of the House; and if the resolutions were not deferred to, and the country be induced to disobey them, the passing of them would have a tendency to exhibit rather the imbecility of the House than its power. Although the association had not been distinctly pointed out by his hon. Friend, yet there was no doubt what association his hon. Friend meant; but if there were any associations in this country which transgressed the law, and which were so far dangerous that the law ought to be enforced, then it was the duty of her Majesty's Government to apply the provisions of the existing law. If it were thought that the Government was remiss in performing its duty, it was competent for the House of Commons to address the Crown, praying the Crown to enforce the existing law. That was a course implying certainly, some reflection upon the Government; but it was perfectly consistent with, and perfectly open to, the House of Commons to take that course. If, on the other hand, the law were defective, the House of Commons had a perfect right to do that which was within its own province for the amending the law, namely, to introduce a bill to remove the defects of the existing law, Either of these courses was open to the House of Commons, but he objected to the course proposed of passing a resolution which would not have the power of a law, and had no binding obligation upon their fellow subjects. Upon these two grounds he must dissent from the proposal of his hon. Friend. To the proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield he should also give a decided negative. He could not acquiesce in the propriety of appointing the committee which the hon. Gentleman proposed. He was sorry to hear a portion of the speech which was delivered by the hon. Member for Manchester. Nothing was more unfair or more ungenerous than the attack which the hon. Member made upon those Gentlemen connected with the landed interest, who, in the course of the last Session of Parliament, showed a disposition to support the proposal for relaxing the duties upon corn and other articles. They supported him in his proposal to reduce the duty on Corn, and to repeal altogether prohibitions upon the importation of foreign meat and cattle; and what was the acknowledgment which the hon. Member for Manchester made for this? He said to those Gentlemen—by the very support you gave to those proposals, you proved that you were conscious of possessing what you had no right to possess; and yet, in the course of the same speech, the hon. Gentleman said he could assure the House, on the part of the manufacturers, that they were perfectly prepared to part with the protection they now enjoy. Now, if he and those hon. Gentlemen whom the hon. Member for Manchester so unjustly assailed, were to turn round upon the manufacturers and say,—Because you are willing to part with the protection you now have, you impliedly admit that you have been robbing the public by maintaining duties which were not for the benefit of the public, but for the benefit of yourselves, would not the hon. Gentleman himself have been the first to rise and denounce so unjust an imputation upon the manufacturing interest, and have resented it as most unwarrantably making an attack upon the manufacturers of having plundered the people? If he had ever indulged in sneers at the manufacturing interests, such sneers would have come with a peculiarly bad grace from him; with a bad grace as a Minister of the Crown, and with peculiarly bad grace as an individual who owed all that he possessed to that interest which he was bound to hold dear. In the course of the debate, and in repelling some argument advanced against him, he might have used terms which any one wishing to take advantage of him might have turned to some such purpose, and which might have rendered him open to the misconstruction of the hon. Gentleman; but he assured the hon Gentleman that he did him gross injustice, if the hon. Gentleman supposed that he was unmindful of the deep obligations he owed to the manufacturing interests; or if he had indulged for an instant in a sneer at the tall chimnies of the manufacturers to which he owed all of wealth that he possessed. He therefore protested against the construction which the hon. Gentleman had put upon any expression of his. The question between the hon. Gentleman and himself was not whether any information which could throw any light upon this subject should be withheld, but whether a select committee was the proper tribunal to come to a satisfactory decision. Suppose that the hon. Gentleman's committee should be appointed—that he should acquiesce in it—he would claim that his own side of the House should be fairly represented upon it; and if the committee were to represent the opinions of the House, he should be entitled to claim a majority. If so, would the report of the committee be perfectly satisfactory to the hon. Gentleman. [Mr. Hume: It might take evidence,] What would be the nature of the evidence? It would only consist of conflicting opinions as to whether the land bore a greater or a less share of the burdens. The facts he had no objection to give in the shape of returns. Now with respect to the amount of taxation, the landed interest was subject to public taxes, and also to local taxation; and as some contended, it was subject to a peculiar burden in the support of a church establishment. The land had to bear almost exclusively the maintenance of the church establishment in the three portions of the United Kingdom, in England, Scotland, and Ireland. In this country, likewise, it had to bear a large proportion of the expense of maintaining the sacred edifices, for he apprehended that a great proportion of the church-rates fell upon land. Then, with respect to public taxes, Whatever return should be called for to show the proportion of the taxes borne by the land, and which could be produced from any office, he would have no objection to give. The hon. Gentleman opposite had called for a return of the amount of the taxes borne by the land in the other countries of Europe; he did not think that the returns were very satisfactory, but as far as the Government could procure them they were given. The hon. Gentleman was in possession of them. Then let him take the case of the legacy and probate duties. The hon. Gentleman contended, that the land was altogether exempt from any charge for legacy or probate duty. He denied the assumption of the hon. Gentleman. He said, in the first place, that the land did bear a considerable portion of the legacy and probate duty. All the leasehold interests paid the duty. How then was the question at issue between them to be met? Not by the appointment of a committee, but by voluntarily giving all the returns that might be called for. The hon. Gentleman said, that the land paid no equivalent for exemption from the legacy and probate duties. He said, that land contributed almost as much as personal estates to the exigencies of the state by the payment of the stamp duties on conveyances. There was a material difference between him and the hon. Gentleman; that difficulty also needed not a committee to clear it up, it might be done by returns. A motion was made last year for subjecting land to the legacy and probate duty. He had opposed it himself; it had also been opposed by Members of the late Government; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the year 1840, when pressed so to subject it, had showed, first, that the land did contribute to these taxes; and next, that it had paid 1,600,000l. during the year for stamps on deeds and conveyances of land, whilst the total amount of the legacy and probate duty during the year was little more than 1,700,000l. The hon. Gentle- man had totally omitted this charge, which was considered by the right hon. Gentleman equivalent to the probate and legacy duty. The hon. Gentleman said, that stamps were used for marine insurances and other purposes unconnected with land. Let the returns make every distinction. Let the House see what amount was contributed by the land to the legacy, probate, and stamp duties; and then let them consider, in the House, and not in a select committee, whether there were any peculiar exemptions. Next, there were the local taxes. The first great charge to which the land had to contribute was the poor rates and the county rates. The hon. Gentleman denied, that these were unduly charged upon land. Here, again, let him call for returns. The hon. Gentleman referred to the policy of the ancient law. He referred also to that law, as showing, that when these burdens were originally placed upon land, the same statute expressly provided, that the profits upon trade should be subjected to the tax. That was the policy of the law. Recent decisions in the courts of law had so determined; but the Legislature passed an act exempting the profits of trade from the poor-rate. They found it difficult without a process of inquiry'—to which they did not like to submit—to ascertain the profits of trade, or the amount at which they should assess stock in trade: and they had exempted stock in trade and profits of trade; but land was tangible, the profits were easily assessed, and they had made the land contribute to make up the deficiency. Let the House have the whole case before them, and all this would be easily ascertained. If they had a committee composed of seven Gentlemen on one side, and seven on the other, their opinions would have been made up before they began; and he did not expect that any investigation they could make, or any expression of opinion, would materially weigh with the House. An inference was to be drawn—it was to be drawn from public documents, and not by such an inquiry as the hon. Gentleman demanded. Then as to the charges for high-ways. The hon. Gentleman said, that these high-Ways were essential for communication between different properties, but highways were equally necessary for communication between towns; and if the charge for high-way rates did fall in an undue proportion upon land, surely it was not un- fair to consider it a peculiar burden. But this was a matter for public discussion, on which hon. Members were perfectly competent to form a decision, and no one would be influenced by the report of a select committee. That opinion would be greatly influenced by facts, but those facts could be as well ascertained by returns as by a committee. Then with respect to tithes, the hon. Gentleman denies that they are a burden upon land. He drew a distinction between tithes of an uncertain amount to be determined at the caprice of an individual, and tithes paid by way of commutation, and he said, There has been a commutation of tithes of late years, which alters the whole question, because formerly the amount of tithe was uncertain, and varying from year to year according to the quantity produced, whereas it is now comparatively fixed and certain; therefore, whatever the opinion in former times may have been, it is now clear that tithes no longer constitute a burden upon land. He did not deny that variable tithes were a greater burden on land than a commutation; the question, however, was whether tithes paid for the maintenance of the Established Church were or not to be considered a peculiar burden on land. As he had said last year, Adam Smith and Ricardo had settled this question. Would a committee elucidate the facts, and determine whether the hon. Gentleman or Adam Smith and Ricardo were right; or was it not rather a general inquiry into which every man was capable of entering for himself. Adam Smith said:— When, instead of a certain portion of the produce of the land, or of the price of a certain portion, a certain sum of money is to be paid in full compensation for all tax or tithes, the tax becomes in this case exactly of the same nature with the land-tax of England. It neither rises nor falls with the rent of the land. It neither encourages nor discourages improvement. The tithe, in the greater part of those parishes which pay what is called a modus in lieu of all other tithe, is a tax of this kind. The opinion of Mr. Ricardo, a gentleman opposed to the Corn-laws, was decided upon this point, and on that of tithes being a burden on land. Notwithstanding the origin of tithes, the claims of the Church to tithes, he was willing to admit, were equal in force to the claims of the landlords to their estates; yet both Adam Smith and Ricardo were aware of this when they considered that the land in England was en- titled to protection; they both said that the English land was subject to burthens to which foreign lands were not, and they both agreed that, for the burthens tending to increase the price of the production of the corn here above the price of production on the continent, the land was entitled to protection. Then the hon. Gentleman laid it down that they should only consider the comparative protection of the produce of land, and the produce of manufactures in this country, and that we had no right, in dealing with the agricultural protection afforded in this country, to consider whether other countries would produce their corn free from these burthens. There again Mr. Ricardo and Adam Smith were both at issue with the hon. Gentleman. Mr. Ricardo said, "a tax that falls exclusively on any commodity tends to raise the price of that commodity;" and that if it did not so raise the price, the producer would be subject to a disadvantage, for "he would no longer gain the ordinary profits of trade." [Cheers.] The noble Lord cheered. No doubt Mr. Ricardo disregarded altogether the comparative expense of production between this and foreign countries, unless the greater expense arose from peculiar burthens. Mr. Ricardo said that unless the extra expense of producing here arose from special taxation, the land was not entitled to protection; and he, therefore, dissented from the report of the agricultural committee of 1821. But let them observe the practical conclusion to which Mr. Ricardo came. He thought that Mr. Ricardo did distinctly say that tithes did operate as a burthen on land, and that they had a tendency to raise the cost of producing corn; and the practical conclusion of Mr. Ricardo's writings in 1822 or 1823 was, that until corn should arrive at the price of 70s. there should be an exclusion of foreign produce; when corn arrived at that price he proposed that there should be a duty of 20s.; that the duty should then diminish annually by 1s. till it reached the fixed duty of 10s.; and that afterwards this duty of 10s. should remain permanently, as he considered 10s. was the protection to which, in consequence of the superior cost of the production of corn in this country, the producer was entitled. These were his exact words:— If the importation price of Wheat were 60s. a quarter in England, and it was 60s. a quarter on the Continent, and in consequence of the burthen of tithes, wheat was raised in England to 70s. a quarter, a duty of 10s. ought also to be imposed on the importation of foreign corn, Here Mr. Ricardo showed a decided difference of opinion from the hon. Gentleman. He said that if a tax were in operation here there ought to be protection. He (Sir R. Peel) was assuming that tithes did operate as a tax. Not only did Mr. Ricardo say that if tithes did operate as a tax there should be protection, but he admitted that tithes in this country did operate as a burden upon land. [Viscount Howick: Hear.] The noble Lord could not possibly deny that Mr. Ricardo called tithe a tax. He therefore said with respect to the three burthens of public taxes, of local taxes, and of tithes, that he was perfectly prepared to produce all the returns which could be required, and let the House determine whether they were or were not actually burthens on land. He never did, however, rest the claims of the land to protection on the ground exclusively of these burthens. He had contended as Mr. Ricardo had contended, that after protection had been afforded for 150 years, and after large masses of capital had been invested in land under that protection, any rash or hasty withdrawal of that protection, throwing open the produce of this country to the unlimited and uncontrolled competition of foreign countries, would not be judicious, and he had not spoken of the interests of agriculture exclusively, but the general interests of the community: he had contended that they should deal with agricultural produce as they had uniformly dealt with manufacturing interests, to make any change with great caution and great care. He never could exclude from his consideration not only the amount of capital embarked in agriculture, but that a great proportion of the population of this country was employed in it: and if they rashly disturbed those laws, although their principle might be unwise, yet after their long endurance, not only would the landed interest be injured, but the great interests of the community at large would suffer. When hon. Gentlemen quoted his expression "that a country ought to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest," and said that he laid down this as the general principle to which the law ought to conform, they ought in fairness to couple that quotation with his declaration that in a state of society so artificial as this, and after these laws had endured so long, although such a principle might be sound, yet they should abstain from a rash and unwise manner of applying it without due consideration. He would read to the House the very words he had used last year, upon this subject, on the motion of the hon. Gentleman. He had thus contended last year:— I rested the claims of the land to protection, not upon its peculiar burthens alone, but upon other grounds. I said, that protection to the produce of the soil had been afforded for the last 150 years—that large capital had been invested on land under that system of protection—and that nothing, therefore, in my opinion, could be more unwise than to risk the disturbance of the interests embarked in agriculture by the sudden withdrawal of the protection which had so long been afforded to them, under which the existing relations of society had in a great degree been formed, and in reliance upon which so much wealth had been directed to the cultivation of the soil. That was the language which he held last year, and when hon. Gentlemen quoted his statement of the principle which ought in the mail to guide their legislation they ought in fairness to refer to the qualification with which he had announced the application of that principle. He confessed he was rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman should have made this motion. Did he think, that this inquiry ought to be completed before there was fresh legislation on the Corn-laws? If he had acceded to the appointment of this committee, and had, in addition to the seven gentlemen selected by this hon. Gentleman, named seven on his own side of the House, to consider the peculiar burthens on the land—and if their labours should continue for the same period as similar inquiries had done—did the hon. Gentleman intend to postpone all legislation till those labours should be concluded? The hon. Gentleman had referred to the possibility of the inquiry lasting two or three years, and he had known inquiries last that time. Now, did not the hon. Gentleman, if he got this committee, still intend to go next week for a total repeal of these laws? Would he not say, "Although you have appointed a committee, its inquiries are all beside the question; for even if you show that there are pecu- liar burthens on land, the hon. Member for Manchester says, and I agree with him, that there ought to be no protection on that account." [Mr. Gibson: You should equalise the burthens.] The hon. Gentleman said, that they ought to equalise the burthens, and not to grant protection. If this motion were carried, might not the hon. Member vote after Easter for a total repeal, leaving the agriculturists to trust for protection to the equalization of the public burthens. He had been charged with producing uncertainty by his proposition, and the hon. Member for Dumfries had given notice of a motion on that account. Perhaps he would not persevere in the motion. At any rate, he was happy to see that the hon. Member thought it of so little importance, that he need not pay particular attention to the debate, [Laughter, Mr. Ewart being asleep.] He was sure that the hon. Member would not be indulging in repose, if he did not know that the great question of the Corn-laws must be decided by the House of Commons, and that the proposal of a committee might be a very proper subject for debate, but that it need not occupy much vigilant attention. The hon. Member thought his attendance necessary for the purpose of his vote, but that attention to the arguments was not absolutely required. On Thursday next, however, the hon. Member meant to move. That, it having been acknowledged on the part of the Ministry of this country, that the present Corn-law is not a settlement of the question, and there being reasonable grounds for believing that the existence of such law will be of short duration, it is just and expedient that a state of uncertainty, embarrassing and unfair to the agriculturists, and injurious to commerce, should be put an end to, and measures of a settled and final character adopted without further delay. The hon. Member said, that this uncertainty was unfair to the agriculturists and injurious to the interests of commerce, and he, therefore, called upon the House to settle the question of the Corn-laws on a principle of finality; but what sort of a settlement could there be if the House of Commons referred this inquiry to a committee whose labours should not be concluded? He advised the House to act on the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman's motion. The question was too vast and comprehensive to be disposed of by a committee. If the law were to be altered, let them go at once to the consideration of the alteration; let a motion be made. An opportunity would be afforded him of discussing the policy of the present law on the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. P. Villiers), and he would not then enter upon it. He would examine the operation of that bill, and when he should be called on, he would enter upon the various and comprehensive considerations involved in the question of the Corn-laws. He admitted, that it was of the utmost importance that the people of this country should know what were the intentions of the Legislature with respect to these laws, land his belief was, that the appointment of a committee would more than anything else contribute to create uncertainty; it would be infinitely better if the House of Commons were prepared to make a change, to make that change at once, rather than devolve an inquiry upon a committee, which, if it meant anything, meant that they ought not to legislate till the result of their labours was known. It was not fair to give a committee, when, if it were granted, they might next week proceed at once to the repeal of the Corn-laws. The right hon. Baronet concluded by saying:—"I have no other object than to do justice between all parties whose permanent and comprehensive interests are intimately united, although I know that there may be an immediate conflict between them. In the proposal which we made last year, and which was made without reference to any party or political consideration, I did attempt what I deemed most consistent with justice, and most conformable to the interests of the country. It was impossible to touch those great questions without great embarrassment. We could not remove the protection afforded to cattle and meat, and reduce the duty on foreign corn, without disturbing the minds of the agricultural body. There has been an undue panic affecting them, not warranted by the change in the law, which had created a great evil, disturbing the application of capital, and suspending or diminishing employment. A continuance of doubt will be pregnant with evil consequences. I know that it is impossible for any Minister of the Crown—I know it is impossible for the House of Commons to give any sort of guarantee for the permanency of a law of this description. I have already, for myself, refused to give such a guarantee. I say that I will reserve my opinion as to the necessity for an alteration of the law; and I say that no false sense of consistency, if I am convinced that this law is injurious, shall prevent me from advising against its further continuance. But although there must be a certain degree of uncertainty as to laws of this nature, whether we take a graduated or a sliding scale, do not increase the difficulty by sending it for the consideration of a select committee, to publish contradictory evidence day by day; not elucidating, but rather tending to conceal the facts. The agricultural body have a fair right to expect from me at least a maintenance of the law, till I am convinced that it is wholly objectionable. [Viscount Howick : Hear.] If the noble Lord thinks that I am making any reserve for party purposes, he is decidedly mistaken. On the one hand, I have seen nothing in the operations of the law to change my opinion as to the result; but, on the other hand, I never will give a guarantee that if, after an experience of the working of the law, a better can be substituted, I will not adopt it. Although I am the author of that law, I would so act, whatever may be the consequence, and even if I were to lose power to-morrow. But I will maintain the law till my opinion undergoes a change; and it would not be fitting for me, after passing this law, in which I received the assistance of a great majority of the agricultural interests, acting, of course, for the public interests, but on the implied condition entered into, that so long as my opinions as to its working shall not be changed, there should be no alteration, to disturb the minds of the agricultural interests, by agreeing to the appointment of this committee.

Viscount Howick

thought that the right hon. Gentleman had made out even a stronger case in favour of this motion than his hon. Friend near him. In the first place the right hon. Baronet admitted that it was important in deciding on the policy of the Corn-laws to decide whether the land was exposed to any peculiar burthens or not. The right hon. Baronet said that he had never rested his defence of the Corn-laws on the exclusive burthens affecting land; yet in the very next sentence he admitted that he did lay considerable stress upon that point. Here, therefore, was a point which the inquiry of a committee would clear up, and it was most proper that before the discussion of the Corn-laws, one by one and step by step, doubts should be removed and fallacies exposed. If the land were subject to peculiar burthens, they ought not only to be ascertained but to be removed. A large body in the country denied those burthens, while another large body believed their existence, and between the two it was most fit that the truth should be ascertained. What had been the next admission of the right hon. Baronet? "Move (said he) for returns—for as many as you like, and I will show you from them how the case really stands." Yet, just after he had made this offer, the right hon. Baronet turned round and complained that one part of the case had been mis-stated—that the land was not entirely exempted from the legacy and probate duty, inasmuch as leasehold property was liable to it. Here, then, was another obvious question for a committee—was the land, Or was it not, exempted, and how far? He wanted to see the exemptions fairly stated on one side and the burthens on the other, and the balance struck between the two. Returns might be moved for ad infinitum, and they would still be insufficient; how was the case to be made out, on one side or on the other, by returns; and how did the proposition of the right hon. Baronet in favour of returns tally with the rest of his argument? The right hon. Baronet contended that two or three sessions would be consumed by an inquiry before a committee, in order to settle the question. But how long a time would it not occupy to inquire and settle the question by returns? The table might be loaded with a complication of figures out of which either party might prove anything they liked—but appoint a committee to obtain facts, and to make a distinct and authentic report and something important would, indeed} be gained towards the settlement of the question. The right hon. Baronet said that after all the settlement might not be final. His answer was that be was ready to accept a report even from Members exclusively on the other side of the House. He should like to see their report—to read the evidence they would collect, and to see how they made out their case of peculiar burthens. So far this would be an approach towards a final settlement. Whenever there was a dispute on matters of fact and detail, the proper mode of deci- ding it was to take evidence upon the point. He thought the case in favour of inquiry unanswerable. It was true that last year he had objected to such a motion, and why? Because it was brought forward in the shape of an amendment to a measure which he (Viscount Howick) thought would shake the whole principle of the monopoly in corn. Now, however, the case was widely different: the motion was a substantive proposition, and compliance with it would, in his view, be attended with important advantages. The right hon. Baronet had alluded to a cheer given by him (Lord Howick) when mention was made of the opinion of Mr. Ricardo. The right hon. Baronet had stated, with perfect correctness, the principle laid down by Mr. Ricardo. The object of that Gentleman's book was, to show the impolicy of fiscal regulations which disturbed the natural application of labour and capital. Holding this opinion, Mr. Ricardo had said that if there were any peculiar charges upon any species of production those peculiar charges ought to be removed or countervailed. In that opinion he entirely concurred; but it did not at all make out the case it was brought forward to prove, because Mr. Ricardo was only putting the matter hypothetically, and assuming for the sake of his argument that there were peculiar charges upon corn in reference to tithes. At the time when Mr. Ricardo wrote tithes were to a certain extent a charge upon production; but the Commutation Act had made all the difference, and they were now no charge whatever upon production. There was one more point which he was anxious to notice. The right hon. Baronet had said, that one great argument against the motion was, that to carry it, would create an uncertainty as to the continuance of the Corn-laws. He would like to ask the right hon. Baronet whether he really thought that anything at this moment would increase the prevailing uncertainty in the public mind as to the continuance of the Corn-laws? The very amendment of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, stated that there existed at this moment, a state of great anxiety embarrassing to agriculture, and injurious to commerce: in his speech, too, the hon. Member described in much detail, the miserable effects of the present state of uncertainty. He was persuaded that the statement was correct, and what was the fair inference to be drawn from it? He asked the landed in- terest seriously to consider the situation in which they stood. Did they really think that they should gain anything by the temporary existence of the present Corn-law? He believed that no man expected that it would last long. Perhaps a single rotation of crops would be longer than the existence of the present law. In such a state of things, how could it be supposed that capital would be laid out in the improvement of land? Was not this state of things well worth the consideration of the landed interest? Was any advantage that might be gained from the temporary existence of the present law to be set against the check thus given to the spirit of enterprise and the progress of improvement? He did not mean to say a word in defence of the Anti-Corn-law Association; on the contrary, he thought its existence a great evil, but it was a consequence of the greater evil of the Corn-laws. He would appeal to the right hon. Baronet, whether the effect of the policy pursued towards the Roman Catholic Association in 1825 was very encouraging? Did legislating against the association, instead of passing the Emancipation Bill, accomplish so much good as to induce the right hon. Baronet to repeat the experiment? He asked the right hon. Baronet to look back at the fatal consequences of the line of policy then adopted. Did he not deeply regret, and bitterly lament, the incalculable evils arising out of resistance to the claims of the Roman Catholic Association. How much better would it have been for the empire if the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, with what were called its two wings, had been passed as a concession to justice, instead of the measure passed in 1829, as a tardy submission to fear. Surely this example of resistance to an association was not encouraging, and he hoped that Parliament, grown wise by experience, would not now be guilty of a similar error. He was happy to be able to infer from what the right hon. Baronet had this night said, that he was prepared to deal promptly and efficiently with the Corn-laws, and that he would not again fall into the fatal mistake which he formerly committed by legislating directly against the agitation which arose from an intolerable grievance, and which, to use the strong and eloquent words of Lord Plunket, when speaking on the Emancipation Bill was, "the spawn of your own wrong."

Sir R. Peel

, in explanation, said, s an hon. Member opposite had referred to an opinion quoted by him last Session on the subject of the burdens on land, he begged to read the passage. It was as follows: On the subject of these peculiar taxes, such as tithes, poor-rates, and perhaps one or two other taxes, all of which tend to raise the price of corn and equally of other raw produce, in the degree in which those taxes press upon the production of corn here, ought to be the tax on its importation.

Mr. Blackstone

rose for the purpose of rebutting an assertion made by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson). The hon. Member said he had received a letter, purporting to come from a Mr. Brown, secretary to the Society for the Protection of British Agriculture, in which he invited the Anti-Corn-law League to join the society in a joint crusade against the public creditor, the letter being dated Wigmore-street. Now, he had been a member of the society from its first formation, and a member of its committee, and he solemnly assured the House that the Mr. Brown referred to never was in any way connected with the society, either as a member or as its secretary. He believed, however, that he could state to the House that on the formation of the society a few years back, Mr. Brown did intrude himself on the society, and did, for one day, put himself forward as acting secretary of the society. That, however, was an intrusion—he was told that he was not wanted, and not appointed, and that he had better retire from the room. It was very likely that that gentleman might, after his expulsion from the society, have gone to Wigmore-street, and might have written that letter; but the rooms of the society were in Regent-street, and they never had any connection with Wigmore-street. Whatever letter, therefore, Mr. Brown might have written from Wigmore-street, was on his own authority and not by order of the society. He was glad the right hon. Baronet had taken occasion to-night to tell the House, as far as he could understand what had fallen from the tight hon. Baronet, that it was his determination to maintain the present Corn-laws. He (Mr. Blackstone) had had some experience out of doors, and he felt assured, that that declaration of the right hon. Baronet would be most satisfactory to most of the agricultural interest. He trusted, too, after that declaration, that there would be no more tampering with the law this year, and that that slight threat which had been held out with respect to a free importation of American wheat through Canada would not be followed up.

Sir R. Peel

said, the last few words of the hon. Gentleman made him very anxious to guard himself against misapprehension. With regard to the Canadian duties on American wheat, his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies had stated what the intention of the Government was with regard to the Canadian duties on American corn, in case the answers to certain queries which had been put to the Canadian Legislature should be satisfactory. Of course, in what he stated regarding his determination to maintain the existing Corn-law, unless proof were afforded of a necessity for its alteration, he had said so with a full reservation of the intention of the Government with regard to Canada, as expressed by his noble Friend.

Mr. Milner Gibson

said, the hon Member for Warrington had risen to contradict and rebut what he had said as to the Society for the Protection of British Agriculture. He scarcely thought the word "contradict" could be properly applied to what had fallen from the hon. Member. He adhered strictly to his original statement, which, even on the showing of the hon. Member himself, was perfectly accurate. What he said was, that a letter had been received by the Anti-Corn-law League, signed by Robert Brown, the secretary of the Society for the Protection of British Agriculture, in which letter it was proposed that the Anti-Corn-law League should join the Agricultural Society in a joint crusade against the fund-holders. The hon. Member himself admitted that Brown had, as he stated it, intruded himself into the society. Now, did any man ever hear of such a thing as a person intruding himself on a society as their secretary? He believed that the letter had been put forth as a sort of feeler.

Mr. Brotherton

said, that as several hon. Members were desirous of addressing the House on this subject, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.

Colonel Rushbrooke

was understood to say that a person of the name of Brown had been employed as secretary to the Agricultural Protection Society, but he was the most refractory secretary they ever had.

Lord Henniker

said, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) had stated that the Members for Suffolk entertained similar opinions to those promulgated by Mr. John Brown. He wished to know what authority the hon. Member had for making this statement?

The Speaker

put the question that the debate be adjourned.

Mr. Hume

said, that after the discussion which had taken place, and after the speech of the right hon. Baronet opposite, it would be a waste of time to adjourn the debate. During three parts of the evening the benches had been comparatively empty, and hon. Members who wished to take part in the discussion ought to have been there earlier. Although the subject had not been discussed in the manner he had expected, he thought the debate ought not to be adjourned.

After some conversation, Mr. Brother-ton's motion was withdrawn. On the question being put,

Mr. C. Villiers

said, that as the hon. Member for Manchester had appealed to him to vouch for the accuracy of certain statements which he had made with reference to the proceedings at a public meeting in the county of Suffolk, he would do so. Complaints were made of some misrepresentations on the part of a person named John Brown, but he thought he could shew that John Brown had not been very well used by some hon. Gentlemen, and especially by the hon. Members for Suffolk, who repudiated his connection and opinions. He had, as his hon. Friend, the Member for Manchester, had said, informed him of certain things which had occurred at a time when the price of wheat was low, and when agriculturists were angry in the county of Suffolk; and if he had time, he might acquaint the House with what had been said and done by certain other agricultural Gentlemen, Members of the Conservative party, who now attacked the Anti-Corn-law League. But he would reserve that for a future occasion. He would only inform the House of certain projects entertained under the circumstances to which he referred by the East Suffolk Agricultural Association to improve their property. [Several hon. Members: When?] When? when wheat was low. What he was about to mention, took place at a period when, on the average for the whole year, wheat was 39s. per quarter. The East Suffolk Agricultural Association then held a pub- lic meeting, at which Sir C. B. Vere presided, at which it was proposed to send delegates to London, to meet the delegates there to be assembled from all the agricultural associations. And what took place at that meeting? He could tell the House what was said by the secretary at that meeting. [An hon. Member: What is his name?—John Brown?] He did not know the secretary's name, but he dare say it was John Brown, for he stated on the part of that meeting:— That the agriculturists had petitioned Parliament so often, and received so little attention, that they began to entertain but one feeling—that petitioning alone would not do. This meeting was held in June; and as prices, he presumed, did not improve, another meeting was held in July, at which a petition was agreed to, and resolutions were passed that the Members for the county should be instructed to move, that the supplies be stopped until her Majesty's Ministers adopted some measures for the relief of the agriculturists. To shew, however, that this spirit was not confined to Suffolk, he would read an extract of a letter from the secretary of the Central Association in London, addressed to the Corresponding Association, with which it was affiliated. He told them:— That they must effect a change in the present system of acquiring wealth, a system abounding in fraud. The productive classes must be compensated for the capital which the currency measure of 1819 had been the means of unjustly abstracting from them: they would no longer consent to contribute to the supplies of the Stock Exchange; they would not uphold a system which had preyed on the vitals of the country for twenty years, and made the industry of the country the means of impoverishing itself, while it had enriched the speculator. That was the language of this refractory secretary, as he was called by the gallant Colonel, and whose views were so indignantly repudiated. He should like to know how the dividends were to be paid if the supplies had been stopped? He did not know why the agricultural gentlemen had quarrelled with their secretary; he appeared to him to be a very faithful one. What his hon. Friend, the Member for Manchester had said, then, must go forth uncontradicted, that there was a plan, when agricultural Gentlemen and Members were uneasy and suffering under low prices, for tampering with the currency if not for dealing with it in a manner by no means consolatory to the public creditor. Therefore, without detaining the House further, but referring to the amendment before the House, he would just advise the hon. Member for Dorchester, before he attacked the much more innocent Corn-law League again, to look at home. That seemed to be the proper answer to his motion. With respect to what had fallen from the Government upon the motion of his hon. Friend, he must observe, that while reference was made to those peculiar burdens which had always been alleged as the grounds upon which alterations in the Corn-laws were resisted, there was another part of the motion, of which not a word was said—namely, that relating to exemptions with which the interest had favoured itself, and which seemed to him to be a subject that might be made a matter of instant inquiry before a committee. No doubt the right hon. Baronet felt, that when he confined what he said to the inquiry into the burdens, he said not one word about the exemptions, which were wholly indefensible and only to be accounted for, by that House having the power to help themselves, and acting as people generally do who enjoy that prilege.

Mr. H. Fitzroy

said, that John Brown never was connected with the Agricultural Society as secretary, or in any other capacity; he never attended any meetings of that society, and the society would utterly repudiate any such sentiments as those ascribed to him.

Mr. Darby

amidst cries of "Divide!" begged to confirm what the hon. Member for Lewes had said, expressed himself to the same effect.

Mr. Ward

was of opinion that the hon. Member fcr Warrington thought of nothing but protection The right hon. Baronet said a committee was not necessary, and that the object could be accomplished by official returns; he differed from the right hon. Baronet, and preferred a committee. He wanted to obtain such information as would hasten the conviction of the right hon. Baronet that the laws must be altered, so that he might fulfil his pledge that no false consistency should prevent him from acting upon that conviction.

Mr. Bankes's

amendment was negatived without a division.

The House divided on the original ques- tion:—Ayes 133;Noes 232:—Majority 99.

List of the AYES.
Ainsworth, P. Horsman, E.
Aldam, W. Howard, hon. C.W.G.
Armstrong, Sir A. Howard, Lord
Bannerman, A. Howick, Visct.
Barclay, D. Hume, J.
Baring, right hon. F.T. Hutt, W.
Barnard, E. G. James, W.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Johnstone, A.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Bernal, R. Langston, J. H.
Bernal, Capt. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Blake, M. J. Leader, J. T.
Blake, Sir V. Lemon, Sir C
Blewitt, R. J. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Bowring, Dr. Mangles, R. D.
Brocklehurst, J. Marjoribanks, S.
Brotherton, J. Marshall, W.
Buller, E. Mitchell, T. A.
Busfeild, W. Murray, A.
Byng, G. Napier, Sir C.
Byng, right hon. G. S. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. O'Brien, J.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. O'Conor Don
Childers, J. W. Ogle, S. C. H.
Christie, W. D. Oswald, J.
Clive, E. B. Paget, Col.
Cobden, R. Paget, Lord A.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Palmerston, Visct.
Cowper, hon. W, F. Parker, J.
Craig, W. G. Pechell, Capt.
Crawford, W. S. Philips, G. R.
Dalmeny, Lord Philips, M.
Dalrymple, Capt. Plumridge, Capt.
Dashwood, G. H. Ponsonby, hon. J. G.
Denison, W. J. Protheroe, E.
Denistoun, J. Pulsford, R.
Duff, J. Ricardo, J. L.
Duke, Sir J. Ross, D. R.
Duncan, Visct. Russell, Lord J.
Duncan, G. Russell, Lord E.
Duncombe, T. Scholefield, J.
Dundas, Adm. Scott, R.
Ebrington, Visct. Shelburne, Earl of
Ellice, right hon. E. Smith, B.
Ellice, E. Smythe, hon. G.
Ellis, W. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Elphinstone, H. Stanton, W. H.
Evans, W, Staunton, Sir G. T.
Ewart, W. Stuart, Lord J.
Forster, M. Stuart, W. V.
Fox, C. R. Strickland, Sir G.
Gill, T. Strutt, E.
Gore, hon. R. Tancred, H. W.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Thorneley, T.
Hall, Sir B. Traill, G.
Hallyburton, Ld J. F. G. Tufnell, H.
Hanmer, Sir J. Turner, E.
Hastie, A. Villiers, hon. C.
Hay, Sir A. L. Vivian, J. H.
Heathcoat, J. Wakley, T.
Hill, Lord M. Walker, R.
Hindley, C. Wall, C. B.
Holland, R. Wallace, R.
Wilde, Sir T. Wood, G. W.
Williams, W. Yorke, H. R.
Wilshere, W. TELLERS.
Winnington, Sir T. E. Ward, W.
Wood, C. Gibson, M.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Davies, D. A. S.
Acland, T. D. Dawnay, hon. W. H.
A'Court, Capt. Denison, E. B.
Acton, Col. Dick, Q.
Adare, Visct. Dickinson, F. H.
Adderley, C. B. Douglas, Sir H.
Allix, J. P. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Antrobus, E. Douglas, J. D. S.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Dowdeswell, W.
Archdall, Capt. Dugdale, W. S.
Arkwright, G. Duncombe, hon. A.
Ashley, Lord Duncombe, hon. O.
Astell, W. East, J. B.
Attwood, M. Eastnor, Visct.
Baillie, Col. Egerton, W. T.
Bankes, G. Egerton, Sir P.
Baring, hon. W. B. Eliot, Lord
Barrington, Visct. Emlyn, Visct.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Escott, B.
Beckett, W. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Bell, M. Farnham, E. B.
Bentinck, Lord G. Feilden, W.
Beresford, Major Fellowes, E.
Bernard, Visct. Ferrand, W. B.
Blackstone, W. S. Filmer, Sir E.
Blakemore, R. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Boldero, H. G. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Borthwick, P. Flower, Sir J.
Botfield, B. Forbes, W.
Bradshaw, J. Fox, S. L.
Bramston, T. W. Fuller, A. E.
Broadley, H. Gaskell, J. M.
Brownrigg, J. S. Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.
Bruce, Lord E. Gladstone, Capt.
Bruce, C. L. C. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Buck, L. W. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gore, M.
Bunbury, T. Gore, W. O.
Burroughes, H. N. Gore, W. R. O.
Campbell, Sir H. Goring, C.
Cardwell, E. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Castlereagh, Ld. Visct. Grimston, Visct.
Chapman, A. Grogan, E.
Chelsea, Visct. Hale, R. B.
Chetwode, Sir J. Halford, H.
Cholmondeley, hon. H. Hamilton, Lord C.
Christopher, R. A. Hampden, R.
Chute, W. L. W. Harcourt, G. G.
Clayton, R. R. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Clerk, Sir G. Hardy, J.
Clive, hon. R.H. Heathcote, G. J.
Cochrane, A. Heathcote, Sir W.
Collett, W. R. Henley, J. W.
Colvile, C. R. Henniker, Lord
Compton, H. C. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Corry, right hon. H. Herbert, hon. S.
Cresswell, B. Hervey, Lord A.
Cripps, W. Hodgson, R.
Darner, hon. Col. Holmes, hon. W. A'C.
Darby, G. Hope, hon. C.
Hope, A. Pennant, hon. Col.
Hope, G. W. Plumptre, J. P.
Hornby, J. Pollington, Visct.
Hughes, W. B. Praed, W. T.
Hussey, T. Pringle, A.
Irton, S. Pusey, P.
Jermyn, Earl Reid, Sir J. R.
Johnstone, Sir J. Repton, G. W. J.
Johnstone, H. Richards, R.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Rose, right hon. Sir G.
Jones, Capt. Round, C. G.
Kemble, H. Round, J.
Knight, H. G. Rous, hon. Capt.
Knight, F. W. Rushbrooke, Col.
Lawson, A. Russell, C.
Lennox, Lord A. Russell, J. D. W.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Lincoln, Karl of Sanderson, R.
Lockhart, W. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Long, W. Sheppard, T.
Lopes, Sir R. Shirley, E. J.
Lowther, J. H. Shirley, E. P.
Lyall, G. Sibthorp, Col.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Smith, A.
Mackenzie, W. F. Smollett, A.
Mc Geachy, F. A. Somerset, Lord G.
Mahon, Visct. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Mainwaring, T. Spry, Sir S. T.
Manners, Lord C. S. Stanley, Lord
Manners, Lord J. Stewart, J.
Martin, C.W. Sturt, H. C.
Marton, G. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Master, T. W. C. Taylor, T. E.
Masterman, J. Tennent, J. E.
Maunsell, T. P. Thompson, Mr. Ald.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Tollemache, J.
Meynell, Capt. Tomline, G.
Mildmay, H. St. John Trench, Sir F. W.
Miles, P. W. S. Trevor, hon. G. Rice
Mordaunt, Sir J. Trotter, J.
Morgan, O. Turnor, C.
Murray, C. R. S. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Neeld, J. Vivian, J. E.
Neeld, J. Waddington, H. S.
Neville, R. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Newdigate, C. N. Wellesley, Lord C.
Nicholl, right hon. J. Wilbraham, hon. R.B.
Norreys, Lord Wodehouse, E.
Nothland, Visct. Wood, Col.
O'Brien, A. S. Wood, Col. T.
Ossulston, Lord Worsley, Lord
Packe, C. W. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Pakington, J. S. Wyndham, Col. C.
Palmer, R. Young, J.
Palmer, G.
Patten, J. W. TELLERS.
Peel, right hon. Sir R. Fremantle, Sir T.
Peel, J. Baring, Mr. H.