HC Deb 09 May 1843 vol 69 cc26-100
Mr. Villiers:

Sir, I rise to propose the motion of which I have given notice. It is the same that I have proposed before to this House; and, but for this circumstance, believe that I should have shrunk from the task now. I always feel myself incompetent to the task, and I never felt more conscious than I do at present that there are persons in the House more fitted for the purpose than myself. I know the subject is distasteful to the House, I fear, indeed, offensive to the majority from the question of their own interest which it involves. It is not, however, on that account, rendered attractive to me; I had rather propitiate than offend this assembly if I could; but I fear that at present this is to be done rather by diverting than attracting the public attention to this subject. My object in moving in this matter, however, is the same now that it has always been—namely, a deep conviction in my own mind, that in the whole range of public question that can engage the attention of the House, there is not one of equal importance with that which it is the object of this motion to decide. It is like the ground-work of a building. If that is unsound, the whole structure raised upon it must be unstable. With this feeling, I have at different times brought it under the consideration of the House, when others have been indisposed to do so, and during an interval when the public were complaining less of its effects; and now, when millions are expressing their interest in it, I regret that one abler than myself to represent their feelings, is not the mover of the question. Indeed, I could hardly have undertaken the task, had I not felt that there are those around me who have the talent and knowledge requi- site to supply my many deficiencies. The subject I know is said to be exhausted, and that nothing new can be said upon it, and this is true; it was so in the year 1815, after the law had been enacted; for there is nothing that was said then that ought not to have weighed as much as what is said now, but, Sir, the law still exists, and as long as it does, there will be something to say, and the importance of what is said will depend upon the numbers and intelligence of those out of this House who are attending to the matter; and in this respect, rare as any novelty may be, there is something new, for without exaggeration, I may say, that since the law was passed, it has never been so much discussed, so examined, so inquired about, so mastered by the great body of the middling classes as at present. I may say further, that there is no question now that maintains itself so firmly on their attention, that apparently produces such unanimity on discussion, and on which they now speak with such confidence, and the result is, as I do verily believe, an unqualified impression on their minds that these laws have no national object whatever in view, that they are without any public defence, that they are the occasion (as their purpose indicates they ought to be) of great privation to the most numerous class, that they are a great check to the progress of the people, of serious injury to their morals, that they disturb the business of the country, that they limit the commerce with foreign countries, impair the sources of revenue, that they have been the prominent cause of all the embarrassment, depression, misery, loss, and ruin which this country has experienced for four years past, and as such they are regarded as unwise, unjust, repugnant to humanity, and at variance with every precept of the Christian faith, and in this view I firmly believe, that the educated portion of the mechanical classes, and such of them who have access to the ordinary sources of information cordially join, with this feeling, super-added, perhaps, that they consider the more difficult the necessaries of life are made to them to obtain, the more dependent must they become upon the capitalist and employer of labour. Nor is this statement controverted, by the fact, that at some public meetings where the subject has been discussed, that men assuming the garb of working men have entered, and by vio- lence and noise stopped the proceedings. The numbers who have ever degraded themselves sufficiently by being the tools of such a tyranny, have seldom exceeded twenty or thirty, they have never obtained a majority, and whenever any honest men have been parties to the proceeding, it has never been the object of the meeting with which they have quarrelled, but always the means which they have feared would be insufficient: the laws in question have been unanimously condemned; and here, Sir, in pointing to the state of opinion upon this question, I must not omit to name a very important change that has occurred, among a portion of the middling class. I allude to those, for whose interest these laws are declared to be maintained—namely, the farmers. This is now a fact beyond dispute, and it is a new and striking feature in this great social movement, that this class are now beginning fearlessly to consider the question; they may have shrunk from it before; but the result has already been manifested in public places, and will soon be rendered more clear in their open avowal of the utter delusion under which they have laboured, in supposing that the profit of a law that gave artificial value to land, could belong to any but the owner of the land. If it be asked what has occasioned this change in the general opinion, I should in the first place refer it to the efforts of that intelligent, energetic, and persevering body,—who, though they may find little favour in this House, will, ere long, not only be duly appreciated in the country, but from the aid they have given to the cause of free-trade, will be entitled to the gratitude of mankind. I allude to the Anti-Corn-law League. They have wisely, usefully, and effectually drawn the attention of the people to the subject, at a time when they are suffering and seeking the cause of their embarrassment; and they have brought conviction home to their minds. In this they have doubtless been aided by the course which was pursued in this House last year, for I believe that there is hardly a ground upon which the law had been heretofore rested, that was not last year abandoned by those who are responsible for its maintenance. The majority of the middle class in this country absorbed in the pursuit of their own affairs— are much in the habit of deferring to authority — they have been hitherto re- luctant to believe that men in high station will state what they know to be untrue, or that they will really sacrifice the great interests of the country to serve the sinister one's of a class, and they had been lulled into submission to this law by the things they were told about it. They had heard it was a protective law; that it had retained labour in its employment, and secured industry its reward; that it enabled the farmer to obtain profit in his employment, indemnified the landowner for great national burthens which he had taken upon himself; that it pre served us from dependance upon foreigners, and gave to agriculture its best encouragement; to repeal this law, it was said would convulse the country to its farthest ends, and would disturb all the engagements into which the proprietors had entered; and looking at the vast interests of the country and the complication of its affairs, that it could not be worth while to jeopardize so much in the vain hope of drawing a higher prize in the lottery of legislation. These were the things which were said, and the influence of which I have at times regretted to observe, though from their hollowness I did certainly not expect would endure; and when the House remembers when last this question was before it, it will see that this expectation was not disappointed, for last year I bad no longer to ask that it should resolve itself into committee. When the abolition of the law was last demanded, the House was then in committee deliberating upon it, not certainly to proclaim its efficiency,—not to point to its success —but in the full acknowledgment of its faultiness, avowing that it ought to have been altered long since; that we had become habitually dependant upon foreigners for supply; that the people were rapidly increasing, and with it deteriorating in their condition; that the limit of taxation on the necessaries of life had been reached, and that the revenue depended upon the condition of the people; and this year we heard that "peculiar burthens" had never been much relied upon. There was one thing however adhered to the last, which was, that the farmer and his labourer were interested in this legislation, and that it was with the view to their interest, that it was yet wise for Parliament to attempt to regulate the price of the produce. Do not blight his hopes— do not chill his expectations—said the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, while he is endeavouring to supply you adequately at a price between 54s. and 58s. a quarter; it is to protect him against the foreigner till the price reaches 61s. that is the object of my bill. This will prevent the displacement of capital and labour; this will keep land in cultivation, and the labourer in employment, said the Member for Nottingham shire; while should wheat ever fall to 47s., acres without end would return to waste, and people without number will lose their occupation; and so strongly was this felt to be the intention of the law by the proprietors, that the Duke of Richmond told his tenants, in the summer, that he was not the man to hold them to agreements made in the expectation of a price assured to them by law, and not to release them if the law should fail in., its promise, and he would accept surrenders of leases from every tenant if the prices were not obtained in the following year. This was honourably said, and he did not see how the example could be rejected now by any landlord who was a parly to the law, for certainly the imperial averages, and not the Corn-law League, had already blighted these hopes which the law had been intended to raise. These things, however, having been said, was it wonderful that the people should now ask why a law, no longer defended upon any public ground, and rested solely upon favour to a particular interest, and which in this respect was now manifesting its utter failure should be mantained an hour longer. And the fact is, that the law is condemned by public opinion; justice, humanity, policy, have all borne testimony against it; and now, a kind of retributive experience is reaching its promoters; in truth, it only waits the final sentence of this House to be buried for ever with those other acts which have had private interest at the expense of public good, for their end; and it is the object of this motion now to ask you to pass this sentence. I do not come here to haggle about the best mode of accomplishing a bad end—satisfied with the badness of the object, I oppose it entirely. I cannot propose terms when I know that none should be accepted, if there is a right to claim the repeal of this law, it is or ought to be based on truth and justice, that is what I contend it is, and these are the grounds on which we have hitherto relied, to compromise them now would be to render them powerless. Besides the hour is passed for longer tampering with the food, the health, the life, and the rights of millions of our fellow-creatures. The time is come, when the great mass of the community considers themselves aggrieved and injured by this law, and only insulted by the defence which is offered for it; and they call for its abolition, as they would that of any other nuisance or evil with which they are afflicted. And there is no argument that can be advanced for its continuance, rested on the particular interests that have grown up under it, that would not equally apply to the perpetuation of any abomination, that might not equally be claimed for any calamity, or the continuance of any of the greatest curses that would befall humanity. And the fact is, that this law has no purpose, has no merit for its friends, unless it tends to produce one of those evils which man has always been most anxious to avert, and from which the Deity has always been invoked to protect him. I mean that of famine. The very object of the law, is the approximation to that misfortune, and it fails in the opinion of its promoters, if that is not accomplished. And though the inadequate supply of food is an evil which in the primitive state of society, must always excite the "greatest alarm; yet it cannot be less a subject of the deepest anxiety in the most advanced state of a people, and to the effect of the law as it operates upon a community like ours, I would here call the attention of the House; for I do not believe the consequences of any approach to a scarcity in a country like this has been duly appreciated. For not only is a constantly increasing supply of food essential to a population constantly increasing like our own; but it is the condition of that minute division of employments which is the source of our capital, and of all that tends to the adornment and comfort of life, and which is therefore necessary to the continued progress of a people. For it is only after assurance is felt of an adequate supply of food, that this distribution of the national labour occurs; and, if, after that distribution has taken place, any thing should occur to diminish or prevent an adequate supply of food, then all those engaged in the production of other things than food, are once disturbed in their business, and the demand ceases or diminishes for the results of their industry; the prior demand for food having exhausted or reduced the means available for their consumption. This then drives those engaged in producing the conveniences and luxuries of life to seek for themselves a more direct mode of obtaining food, usually manifested by a return to the occupation of land, or in such countries as our own by a resort to mendicity, to the public relief, to emigration or to crime. This may be all said to be obvious, but if so, I ask why has it been forgotten? Because this consideration is at the bottom of the question which we are discussing, had it been heeded, the Legislature would have feared to attempt through scarcity to raise the price of produce, lest they deprived those engaged in manufacture or occupied otherwise than in the production of food, of the means of living, while it is as obviously true, that the more abundant and accessible food is, the greater will be the demand for all other results of industry. If any man would satisfy himself of the truth of this rule, let him only inquire what would be the effect, in a country like this, of the great mass of the population having easy access to food — let him learn if it would not instantly occasion greater demand for the comforts and decencies of life—and whether the effect with which that would be attended to, must not of necessity be an increased demand for the labour of those who could be employed in the production of those objects, which would occasion a better market at home for manufactures, and consequently render the manufacturers' business a better market for labour. And if this is the case, what can be more worthy of the attention of those who are responsible for the state of this country, than to discover in what way the supply of food can be most abundantly increased, in order to cause an adequate demand for the additional labour of the country; for on this, it is obvious, hangs the physical condition of the people, and on that, their morals, their education, their well-being and contentment; and in this country above another it is important to increase the demand for manufactures, when it is now ascertained that every addition to the population must look for employment in manufactures, or in other employments than agriculture, that is now a fact established beyond question. Let any man with these principles in his mind examine the facts which are afforded to him by this country, the facilities are great now of ascertaining anything which affects our economical condition, and the opportunity was never greater than at present, when we are at the termination of a period during which there have been years of scarcity and abundance of equal duration, and I ask any man who rises from such an inquiry, whether he will not admit that while a mass of evil and misery has followed in close connection with the period of dear or scarce food, whether comparative prosperity has not seemed to result from the years of cheapness—whether as food became dear, the occupations unconnected with its production did not become worse—and whether thousands of those so employed had not been driven to seek food in some other way? It is well known, that between 1834 and 1838 there was a comparative abundance of food; and that the great body of the people had access to food of good quality in greater amount than before—and it is not disputed, that during that period all occupations connected with manufacturing industry were never more prosperous, that commerce was active, the revenue flourishing, poor-rates reduced, crime diminished, and all the businesses connected with the distribution of wealth in a prosperous state? That the habits of the people, which had been deteriorating between 1839 and 1833 began to improve, and the general aspect of the community was good. This occasioned, as it is always observed to do, a greater consumption of food, which, while the people rapidly increased, led to a greater demand for food. It was under these circumstances in 1838 that the harvest failed, and that wheat, which, in the beginning of that year had been 51s., reached in September, 73s.; and from that moment till the harvest of 1842, the effects of a high cost of food upon a highly-civilised, commercial, manufacturing community, annually augmenting in number like our own, may be observed: from the autumn of 1838 to that of 1842 we had high prices, which means scarcity of food—and during that period, it is no longer a question that the whole business of the country was, as it still is, deranged and depressed; nor is it only the coincidence of high-priced food and bad trade that makes the connection appear necessary—it would be easy to show, that it is impossible that it should be otherwise. In the first place, in the beginning of 1838, if we take the average cost of wheat, and the average amount consumed, we shall get the rate at which the community was paying for this food before the prices rose; assuming that sixteen millions of quarters are consumed, and that the price was 56s., the yearly expenditure would be about forty-five millions. Now, then, if the price rose to 73s., the cost would be fifteen millions more; and if we take the average of the four years, we shall find that, during that period, sixty millions more was required for food than was required for the four preceding years; indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley stated last year, that other things, such as tea, coffee and sugar, having risen in price at the same time, an additional expenditure on necessaries equal altogether to 100 millions had been caused. What then should we expect to be the effect of abstracting so large an amount of the public means from the expenditure on manufactures, could it do other than greatly to injure the home market, and thus diminish the demand for the goods, compared with that in cheap years. What is the account that intelligent men connected with the staple manufactures of the country, and dependant alike upon home and foreign trade, would give on this point? Why, that the effect of the home market for manufactures was felt immediately on the price of food rising, and though at first it is inconvenient and almost impossible to stop the manufacturing processes that they continued to produce without reference to the demand; but that as the stocks were thereby increased beyond the demand at home, they consigned their goods on their own account to foreigners abroad. This soon occasioned the markets abroad to be overstocked, a circumstance which was much aggravated by the inability to effect exchange with countries growing food abroad, and prices fell to a ruinous point here; and in 1842, the foreign markets being glutted, while the home market remained unimproved, a period in this country followed of unexampled depression. The manufacturing interests were depressed beyond precedent, and there was one continued course of sacrifice, bankruptcy and ruin steadily increasing throughout that most unfortunate year, and we know that such were the despair, destitution, the wretchedness induced by diminished profit and diminished reward for labour, that an outbreak of a serious character occurred, which was rendered perhaps more so by the circumstance that it found many of those in the middle class, on whom the peace and well-being of the State much depends, in a condition to care little for the result; and I believe that, considering all the details of what has occurred during this progress of misery and ruin for three years past while all that can befall humanity, of evil physically and socially, has been suffered by millions of the people, that nothing that war or pestilence could bring, would have been worse, or that any thing ever endured in England before, offers to it any parallel. It is difficult to measure the misery of such a period in this country, the mental agony of persons sinking in their station, the moral ruin entailed upon whole families of innocent persons by the demoralizing influence of poverty, hurrying as it were multitudes of unconscious men and women into habits of vice and crime; indeed it is vain to talk of educating the people, or of raising their moral state, while laws, attended with these consequences, are suffered to exist, for there are moments when people's morals and habits are moulded for their remaining life, and the moral being of millions is determined, and not all the education, nor all the vigilance of all the clergy could redeem many of those who have been so reduced, or subjected to such trials and privations, and hon. Members must look at this law attended with these practical results, for there is a way of viewing the Corn-law apart from its purpose and its necessary. effect, and gentlemen talk of it as some abstraction which may form a chapter in political economy, that may excite the interest of the curious, but as having no practical bearing, but let them know that it is precisely by these distressing consequences that it is known and felt by the industrious classes, on account of which its supporters are looked upon as the authors of their misery. It is the observation of those who are brought in contact medically with the working classes, that there is nothing that determines to such an extent their health and well-being as the facility with which they obtain their food, and indeed, though public men are reproved for the strength of their language in condemning the Corn-law when it has been termed a murderous law, it should be known that this is the view which is taken by medical men when treating it more calmly. I will quote here from a medical man who has had much experience in the treatment of the poor. He says— The Poor-law preserves them from death, but it does not, it cannot preserve them from gnawing anxiety and destructive toil, from exposure to the weather, whilst seeking far from home for work—from suffering cold from insufficient clothes, the best having been sold or pawned for bread—from crowding several families into one small dwelling to save expense of rent—from choking up every avenue for air to obtain warmth without expense of fuel. Nothing can preserve the infant from unwholesome milk, when its mother is harassed by care, and stinting herself of food that her little ones may eat. Nothing can save men from disease and death with insufficient and unwholesome food—with garbage to stay the cravings of hunger, and seeking, in the excitement of gin as a brief respite from despair. Such are means by which the Corn-law kills. Again, I have here an extract from a work on Vital Statistics. [Sir James Graham: Who is the author?] Dr. Hawkins and I will read a few extracts, which would serve to show the estimation in which this law was held, by even men of moderate opinions, he said — The price of corn has a most remarkable influence on the movements of population and of disease. We have not a sufficient number of data to enable us to estimate the exact amount of its influence, but we shall assuredly not be mistaken in classing it among the most energetic causes which press upon the operations of life. This influence extends not only upon deaths but upon births; it affects also the number of marriages, of diseases, and even crimes. Variations in the price of food, then, form one of the most serious changes that can occur on the surface of a state; they may insensibly lead to the most unexpected, the most formidable result! and we may affirm with confidence, that one of the most important duties of a Government is to temper, and to diminish as far as possible, all the circumstances which promote these fluctuations in the price of the most necessary article which man can produce. Thus it appeared that the price of food had a great influence on the comfort and condition of the people, and its variations and fluctuations were amongst the greatest and most important changes that could occur in any state, and might insensibly lead to the most unexpected and formidable results. These were the opinions of persons who were held in considerable estimation as medical writers, who had published several valuable statistical works, and the justice of their observations was fully confirmed in the increase of crime and the amount of poverty and disease which had taken place lately amongst the poorer classes Of this country. One of these writers showed that during the four dearer years, 14,657 more patients had applied for medical relief in the manufacturing districts than during the same period of cheap food, and that 1,177 more had died, or 196 per year, showing that the proportionate increase of mortality was much greater than the increase of admissions. In ten divisions of England only, the deaths from starvation within the year were 116, and in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, there were three times as many. The annual deaths from starvation were two in every 100,000 or 560 of the whole population. The increase of crime was also frightful to contemplate. He found that in 1835 the number of commitments was 20,731. In 1836, they had increased to 20,984; in 1841, 27,760; and in 1842, 31,760. He found that during the last four years the poor-rates in one of the most populous parishes of this rich metropolis, namely, Marylebone, had increased to an alarming extent. In 1840, the amount was 27,000l.; in 1841, 31,000l.; in 1842, 36,000l; and in 1843, 40,000l. Thus showing in one parish alone an increase of 13,000l, in the expenditure for the relief and support of the poor. He also found that the number of casual poor relieved by the City of London, which in 1836, amounted only to 925l,.; and in 1843 had increased to 29,933l. Nor was this confined to one place, it was general throughout the country, for instance, at the almshouses, at Durham, the number of person relieved had increased 40 per cent. during the same period. Surely, these are matters that should at least be weighed and considered by men, who, subjected to no privations themselves, sit here deliberately to legislate against food, purposely to make food scarce, and which they can only succeed in accomplishing at the risk of producing the consequences to which I have referred, and thus deteriorate the people in their morals, their health, happiness, and general well-being, thus adding fearfully to all the elements of discontent and disorder in the State. And it should be noted, moreover, that it is not only that this occur, during periods of bad seasons, but that under the present circumstances of our country, it is more or less the constant condition of the country; for it is the fact, that when the harvests are good, we are without a sufficient supply of food: at least, of food of the better kind, and such as we all desire to consume our selves: and though the price may be low, when from any reason the quantity may be increased, and the habits of the people being deteriorated they are unaccustomed to consume the quantity they require; yet the great mass of the people have not food of good and strengthening quality within their reach at any time. It had been said in former discussions, and might be repeated this evening, that in ordinary years there was an adequate supply of food; this I deny, and say, that the supply is never adequate, there was more at one time than at others, but never enough. I have here a calculation that has been made with great, trouble, and with a view to obtain an accurate account of the distribution of he largest quantity Of wheat that has been allotted to general consumption; namely, about sixteen million quarters, and which showed that ten millions of the population, the number named by some advocates of this law, never consume wheaton flour at all. The estimated distribution of wheat was as follows:—

Population. Quarters yearly.
500,000 people at 7 oz. per day 166,666
1,500,000 people at 10½ oz. per day 750,000
3,000,000 people at 14 oz. per day 2,00,000
3,000,000 people at 17½ oz. per day 2,500,000
4,000,000 people at 21 oz. per day 4,000,000
5,000,000 people at 24½ oz. per day 5,833,333
17,000,000 15,249,999

Besides these, he found that there were four millions who lived on oatmeal, and six millions who "rejoiced" on potatoes. These ten millions of people there were without the first great necessary of life. Was not that a scandal and a disgrace to this country, which boasted of its wealth and greatness, that boasted of its charity and its Christianity, and yet suffered these things to be, while we know that across the Atlantic a pestilence had been nearly occasioned by food rotting on the quay for want of a market. I allude to what was actually reported to have occurred at New Orleans. And realty, if it were not lamentable, it would be almost ludicrous to hear people who are parties to this law, observe upon and regret some of its most obvious consequences; for instance, it is not unusual to hear in this House a sort of lamentation, that of late years the labouring class were becoming poorer, while particular classes and individuals had become richer, and that while those who live luxuriously seem to prosper, those who are wanting comforts are becoming more necessitous. This was observed upon by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, when he introduced the Income-tax; and he seemed to state it as a reason why he should exempt the poorer classes from the tax. This same observation was again impressed upon the House by the Vice-president of the Board of Trade, who regretted the great accumulation of capital and the simultaneous spread of poverty—and another Member of the Government, the Secretary of the Admiralty, made the subject the leading topic of an address to his neighbours and constituents in the winter last. I will just read his words— The truth is, we none of us feel sufficiently the responsibility of wealth, and the duties which the possession of property entails on us; we forget we are trustees for our poorer brethren, and this, whether the property possessed be great or small. Look at the state of society in England, and we must be struck by the necessity of making efforts equal to the emergency of the case. It must be evident to all who have paid attention to the working of our system, that whether owing to our laws and institutions, or to some other cause, great changes have taken place at the ends of the social scale, wealth being at one end greatly on the increase, and poverty as rapidly increasing at the other, the rich becoming still richer, and the poor becoming every day more numerous and more poor, Now, then assuming that those who express their regret at this circumstance are sincere, I would just put a case to them to aid them in solving the difficulty as to the cause of this evil. I will imagine a very much smaller community than our own, say only of a few thousands, and I will suppose that only fifty have the supply of the necessary food of the people, and that this community should gradually increase, while the supply of food did not increase in proportion. What do these gentlemen think would be the condition of this community, as well as of those who had the monopoly of food. Do they doubt that they would see that while those who had the supply of food grew gradually richer, that those who were compelled to depend upon them for food and were increasing in number, would become gradually poorer, and that the proprietary represented as fifty would gradually acquire a greater demand over their labour, their services, their resources, and that in proportion as those were given in greater proportion for food, so they would have less to expend, less on other things, the whole resulting in what the speaker referred to calls the rich becoming richer, and the poor poorer. Now that is my solution of this increasing disproportion between rich and poor, and which all observe and say they regret; but which if this monopoly in the supply of food continues will be more manifested each year. The people cannot increase as our population does, and not be deteriorated if the supply of food does not augment in a corresponding degree. And that this is the state of the people now, namely,— wanting more food, and being too many for the same employment, is admitted by those who either resist the repeal of the law or who have other projects for the improvement of the people. They say the people are deteriorated, and that more food is required, and their mode of improving their condition, is either by Foreign colonization or Home colonization; but what is the assumption on which both these are proposed, but that the difficulties in obtaining the means of life are increasing, and that it is politic either to send the people where there is more food, or to encourage manufacturers to produce food for themselves in this country. Each of these assume that the people must withdraw from other employments in which they are or desire to be engaged, in order to obtain food directly themselves, either in this country or in the colonies. The friends of foreign colonization hope to alleviate the condition of the ill-paid weavers by sending them to be shepherds at the Antipodes, and the friends of Home colonization invite the operatives who are destitute or who are only half employed, to leave the forge and the loom, in order to dig the waste lands here, in the hope of raising by that means food for themselves and their families. I do not impugn the motives of these persons, I believe that both are animated by a desire to relieve the destitution that they hear of or that they witness; but I cannot help observing to them, that while they acknowledge the condition of our people to be that of wanting food, and wanting the means of procuring it, that they should be heard on this occasion calling loudly for a repeal of the law, which only exists to prevent food entering this country, and to prevent those who have it to sell, from purchasing our manufactures in exchange; for it really is only to realize their objects, that we seek to repeal this law. They say we want new markets; we want to employ our redundant people—and for this their plan is to colonize them: now, our plan is, to suffer them to work at home for food, which those who take their work would give them in exchange, but which it is the purpose of this law to prevent: for if the food was to come in that is prevented by this law, it could only be received in exchange for productions of this country, and which would be produced by our people with the view to that trade. I say, that as long as there are ten millions in this country who want bread, and are therefore insufficiently supplied with manufactures, there is the means of a new market within the limits of our own country, which we could call into existence, and which would manifest itself immediately if the law would allow industry and commerce to be free, the food would then appear in our markets, and the present redundant labour would be absorbed by an increased demand for manufactures, and by an entension of all the businesses incident to them, so that these ten millions would be like a new state, with whom we should have a new trade. In short, the home market would be improved just as it is at present injured by the Corn-law. Home trade is more convenient in some respects than foreign trade for those engaged in it, and it is precisely that trade that the Corn-laws are so peculiarly calculated to injure. It is no preference for foreign trade over home trade that induces me to call for the repeal of the Corn-law—I never said it was: but it is on the ground that this law stops exchange, food for other things, between man and man, respectively producers, and by artificially raising the cost of food limiting the command of the community over the comforts of life, that I object to it. And it is idle for those who maintain this law to question the benefits of allowing the trade to be free, for their whole argument and all their fears are based on the expectation of them. It is precisely to prevent the merchant from having his share in the supply of the community with food that this law is passed; he who is ready to embark his capital for this purpose; who is prepared, in fact, to take out the results of our native industry, of which we hear so much, as the means of purchasing it, but who is deterred from doing so by this mischievous meddling with his business. The supporters of this law are, therefore, precluded from the use of both arguments: —first, that too much food would come in; and, secondly, that no food would be imported. Their fears are founded upon the too much food, and to prevent excess they are legislating, or there is no purpose in the law; for their interference to protect the capitalist is ludicrous, either on the supposition that the merchant requires to be protected by the landlords from their own enterprise, or to suppose that with our commercial facilities, with the whole world before us, from the valley of the Nile to the valley of the Mississippi, that the merchant would not be able to dispose of our manufactures for food, or to keep our markets supplied with the first necessaries of life. Why, if the present system were not grossly impolitic as regards the community, it would be abominably unjust to those who having capital, could employ it in providing food for the people, are not at liberty equally to do so with the agriculturist himself. A man has just as much right to the use of his money or his ships which he may inherit or acquire, and may choose to use for the purpose of feeding the people as the landlord has to his acres for the same purpose, and the community are only aggrieved, and never can be benefitted by any restraint in this respect; and on this ground if there were no other, the law ought to be repealed as a gross infringement of the right of our traders in their business of supplying the community with the things they require. Monopoly can never offer a substitute for the unvarying operation of the competition. Where then is the excuse for this gross violation of the ordinary rules of policy. Is it that what is termed agriculture in this country requires favour for its success? Sir, I am happy to think that in the whole list of pretexts and fallacies resorted to in the defence of this law, there is not one more weak and indefensible than this; and that there is almost unanimity as far as one can collect the opinions of independent and intelligent agriculturists, that the culture of the soil depends upon the skill, science, and arrangements of those who bring their capital to this business, and not upon favouritism, monopoly, or what is termed in Parliament, protection. Sir, I believe that men who have given most attention to this subject, do not stop with the opinion that such interference is not needed; I believe they go farther, and assert that it is positively mischievous, and that while the cultivator is diverted from attending to his own resources by relying on the promise of Parliament, that agriculture will never thrive in this country. The case as I apprehend it is this—the law holds out an expectation that by excluding foreign competition, a high price will be obtained for a particular grain, this induces the farmer to give particular attention to this grain, and to depend upon the price which he shall obtain for it in the engagement which he makes for the use of the land—the effect of constant disappointment in getting this price makes him now generally unwilling to seek, while, perhaps, political reasons make the landlord unwilling to give, a lease. Now, the agriculture of this country is very defective and needs many things to be done to improve it; but for this purpose, patience, expense, and enterprise are required—the best improvements of later years require considerable outlay, and require time to prove their efficacy. Now, the effect of the present system is precisely to make men timid in laying out money, for they have not sufficient security for the return, while the promise of Parliament is substituted for improvement, and while they are said to be protected by Parliament, to shake their faith in improvements. I confidently assert then that the science of agriculture, as well as the interest of the cultivator needs no other reliance but that on skill and enterprise, and that both are prejudiced by the results of protection, indeed, upon every inquiry into the distress of agriculturists, it has been shown, that those who had put little faith in the law, and trusted chiefly to skill and resource of their own, had not suffered, while those who bound by heavy pecuniary engagements, based on the promise of the law, to the owner of whom they hired the land, were those who were most distressed. This was testified by the farmers in Scot- land, who gave their evidence in 1836, and they showed that they had thriven from the moment that they had cast off all reliance on the law, and made arrangements with their landlords adapted to those circumstances. It was indeed, I believe, chiefly from reflecting upon all the testimony gathered on the inquiry in 1836, that led some of the most scientific men to the conclusion that low prices which could be maintained steady, would afford the best stimulus to improvements, and be alike advantageous to the occupier of the land, and the community, and this was most likely to be accomplished by freedom of trade. I find this stated by some men, and broadly pointed to by others, who, perhaps, fear the unpopularity of broaching the doctrine among the proprietors. And, indeed, until I had examined the matter more closely, I was not aware how strong the presumption was in favour of the success of the principle of free trade as applied to agriculture, over that in any other matter. The fact is, the cultivator in this country has an advantage over his foreign competitor in all that is essential to his business, and his disadvantages seem to begin with and to spring from the law that professes to protect him. He has larger capital, better labour, more manure, better implement, nearer markets than the foreigner, but he has an artificially high price to pay for his land, he has heavy poor-rates rendered so by food being scarce, and all that portion of the produce required for consumption on the farm is consumed at a greater sacrifice than would occur if it was cheap, while the effect of the law is to deteriorate the condition of his customer. I believe with the most intelligent men conversant on this subject—that if the farmer had fair play, and was submitted like men in other businesses to a free competition, that he would succeed in rivalry with the foreigner of any kingdom in the world. Nor, Sir, am I here speaking without book, and in support of what I have said of the change of opinion among the farmers, I will here refer to a very intelligent work which has recently been published by a person who is a farmer himself—with whom I am personally acquainted, whose family and connections have been, as 1 know, entirely bound up in interest with the agricultural class, and who would have everything to lose in character and property, if he were wrong in what he said, and I gladly refer to this work to prove that I am not misrepresenting the interest or opinions of the farmers in what I have stated, and that I am not calling for the entire removal of this pretended protection in disregard and neglect of their interest. Mr. Welford is the author of the work.

Now, what says he in the first place on the subject of rent:— I firmly believe, that if the trade in corn was to be thrown open to-morrow, that there would be no real necessity for any important reduction of rents, except upon heavy wheat land; and there, it would only be required, in order to allow the tenant time to adapt himself to a state of low prices likely to be permanent and steady, rather than from any difficulty in cultivating such lands, under a proper system, at the present rents, let the price of corn be ever so low. Then as to the present moment of effecting the change— Now, then, is the time to repeal the Corn-law. Home competition has reduced the price of grain to a moderate rate, and if we are blest with a good harvest, wheat may, and probably will, fall lower than it was in 1835. The most sensitive agricultural alarmist will, therefore be unable to conjure up any phantom of greater abundance than that produced by the home growth. The repeal of the Corn-law would now create no panic, and free-trade, by a gentle and gradual measure, would direct the exertions of farmers towards that intelligent system of husbandry wherein their permanent prosperity is alone to be found. All the beneficial effects, which free-trade in corn is fitted to produce on commerce and manufactures, would at once begin to operate, and a clearer prospect of national prosperity, a prospect more free from adventitious circumstances whether of good or evil, will be opened than has ever been hitherto attained. On the other band, if, either through public indifference, or from the half measures of party politicians, the Corn-laws be allowed to linger on the statute-book—practically inoperative, as we have seen, to prevent agricultural distress in abundant years, until the cycle of the season shall bring round two or three deficient crops, it is certain, that a total and instant repeal will be quickly forced upon the Government of that day. But this will not be effected until all the evils of scarcity have again been endured by the community, new engagements at high rents entered into by farmers, wheat culture again unduly extended, monetary derangements and ruinous corn speculations once more rife, and, finally, an agricultural panic which the experience of several years may be required to allay. It is plain, there never was a time, especially as regards the interests of the agriculturists, more favourable for the decisive step than the present. What do we fear? Is it cheap corn? If so, we have it notwithstanding the Corn-laws. But the mischief is, that though for this year we may have abundance, a bad harvest must half starve us before we can get relief. That the British agriculturist is by no means so ill prepared to adopt the only stable means of success, as some of his self-styled friends would have believed, a brief survey of the present state of English husbandry will make manifest. Perhaps, there is no source from which I could take a statement of the actual condition of English agriculturists (for in Scotland farmers have become pretty well alive to the exigencies of the times) so little open to suspicion or cavil, as the article by Mr. Philip Pusey, M.P., one of the Members for the agricultural county of Berks, "On the Progress of Agricultural Knowledge during the last four years," which appears in the last number of the English Agricultural Society's Journal, published in January of the present The purpose of the article is to inquire what has been the progress of agriculture since the establishment of the society; and it completely confirms the views I have taken of the comparatively backward condition of the heavy soils. Mr. Pusey justly remarks that the foundation of all improvement upon wet lands is drainage; and in the foregoing pages I have shown that the owners and occupiers of wet and heavy soils are those who are most frequent and loud in their demands for protection. And then he shows how recently this improvement had been even recommended — It is only seven years since," (proceeds the article) "we heard in England, chiefly through the present Speaker of the House of Commons, that a manufacturer in Scotland, now well known, as Mr. Smith, of Deanston, had found the means of making all land, how ever wet and poor it might be, warm, sound, and fertile; and that this change was brought about by two processes, thorough draining and subsoil ploughing. Mr. Welford then further quotes Mr. Pusey to confirm his own views, how unlikely these improvements are to be adopted as land is now held, for after enumerating the many disadvantages of wet clay land Mr. Posey says— If I were a working-farmer, nothing would induce me to enter on a cold, wet farm, unless there were a fair prospect of its being drained, either with my own money under a long lease, or with the aid of the landlord." But what farmer,"says Mr. Welford," who intends to remain solvent and independent five years hence, would now venture to take a long lease of "a cold wet farm," knowing as he does, that be would be obliged to engage to pay a I rent calculated on prices he may not obtain five years out of twenty? And while such lands can be let without draining, the landlords—the majority of whom cannot afford the outlay—will never, to any great extent, furnish the means. Here and there individual landholders may promote such improvements at their own expense; but looking at land in the aggregate, its permanent improvement will only take place in the hands of occupiers. To enable the occupiers of the clay lands of England to become improvers, the first requisite plainly is steadiness of price, which can only result from a free-trade in corn. And Mr. Welford, in support of this opinion, points to the time when the protected agriculturists began generally to talk of improvement— Now, though individual cultivators had been for some time, in the practice of enlightened systems of husbandry, and were thereby enabled to bear up against the ruinous fluctuations caused by the Corn-laws; yet it was not until that complete disclosure of the real origin of agricultural distress, and of the hollowness of all expectations of profit founded on protective laws, which were made in 1836, that any general movement was communicated to agriculture. Then a desire for improvement, to counteract the effects of low prices, arose amongst the landed gentry; one of the consequences of which was the formation of the English Society, whose proceedings have diffused the knowledge of useful practices already in operation. And now, Sir, before I close this very intelligent work, I cannot help reading the conclusions which he considers to be legitimately drawn from all the evidence and experience which the past and present state of agriculture under the Corn-law affords, and I do so in hopes of their going forth to the public, so that if agriculturists can gainsay or refute his views, that he will do so, for the truth is what I alone desire on this matter. Mr. Welford, amongst other things, comes to the following conclusions:— That the rise of rents which has occurred in modern times, has been consequent upon the growth of manufacturing industry in this country. That the most complete monopoly of the home market will not secure permanently high prices to the British agriculturist. That the monopoly prices promised by the Corn-laws, both of 1815 and 1828, were never practically enjoyed for any considerable period, by the occupiers of land in Great Britain, whilst all their fixed money engagements have been calculated, with reference to the promised, not to the real prices of grain; and besides, that the community will not bear, in times of scarcity, an effective maintenance of the corn monopoly, for a period sufficiently long to compensate the farmer for the unnatural depression prices undergo in years of abundance. That though the farmer, who by accident had taken his farm during a low range of prices, if his rent had been fixed with reference to the then existing prices, might be apparently benefitted by even a short period of high prices; yet that, in fact, he is no gainer, for the competition of farmers for farms enables landlords and land-agents, in practice, to disregard the very low priced years, and to calculate money-rents with reference to the prices of seasons of comparative scarcity, and to the act of Parliament price of corn. That the Corn-laws have prevented timely adjustments of rent, and have thereby permanently injured the landlord and tenant, more particularly on those soils which were formerly almost exclusively regarded as "wheat lands;" that they have induced farmers to rely for profit upon a great breadth of wheat, to the neglect of stock farming and improved systems of husbandry; and that they have created a habit, in the minds of those connected with land, of looking to the Legislature for some undefined or unattainable remedy for occasional distress, rather than to their own energy and enterprise. That the uncontrolled power, which the lauded interests have had to legislate for the protection of agriculture, has not enabled them to prevent the periodical recurrence of real and severe distress amongst the tenantry. That it is not for the interest of the farmer that prices of corn should be high, for whether they are high or low, the existing competition for farms would prevent him from realising more than the ordinary rate of profit, after payment of rent and other outgoings, calculated according to the actually existing prices; but it is most important to him that prices should be steady, without fluctuation beyond what must follow from variations in the seasons; and that such steady prices would be best secured by a constant and regular importation of grain. That all recent improvements in agriculture have taken place in spite of the Corn-laws, and by pursuing plans directly the reverse of those which the Corn-laws have tended to encourage. That the immediate repeal of the Corn-law is not only desirable, as the means of placing agriculture upon a sure foundation, by at once enforcing those improved systems of husbandry, and adjustments of engagements, which alone can make agriculture permanently prosperous; but that the present time, from the comparatively low prices and the healthy appearance of the growing crops, is peculiarly favourable for the adoption of free-trade in corn. And, finally, that the high value of land in this country has always been coincident with, and is directly attributable to, the great wealth created by our commercial and manufacturing industry, and the comparatively wide diffusion of that wealth amongst the mass of the community; but not to any artificial restrictions, which have been shackles and obstructions on, not aids to, our productive power. Now these were the conclusions to which this farmer has deliberately arrived; and do not let people suppose that he is a person unknown to the farmers; for I may tell them, that after publishing this work, he was the person who presided at the great meeting lately held in the county of Hertford, where he is known as a farmer, and where the farmers had assembled from different parts of the country to hear the subject of the Corn-laws discussed; and where many had come with no friendly feeling to the speakers on free-trade; and he was unanimously selected to fill the chair. It is then the condition of improvement, and the condition of the safe pursuit of this business by the farmer, that prices should be low, and that the trade should be free; what then is the objection to the change? It will occasion panic among the farmers, say some. Sir, I say it is the circumstance that renders the present moment so peculiarly fitting for the change that no panic is likely to occur. The farmers could not in the first place apprehend any great fall in the price, while, at first, they might expect the contrary, from the stimulus it would give to trade. But I am disposed to dispute these assertions of the fears entertained by the farmers of abolishing this law, if their landlords would consent to it. In the first place, I doubt, if any thing that was done now by their professed friends, would much disappoint the farmers. They are in the right mood now for an experiment, for they have been so practised upon of late, that I doubt if they would consider themselves deceived again. Moreover, I remember that last autumn there was a laudable endeavour on the part of some persons to prepare the way, as I had hoped, for some further change and excellent advice was tendered to the farmers, in a series of speeches in different counties, which from the manner in which they were received, showed that this class was as open to conviction as any other. My hon. Friend the Member for Winchester addressed them in a speech, that according to the report, met with nothing but success; and he strove to impress upon the minds of those he was addressing, that the worst day that could befall the farmers, as well as the country at large, would be when the manufacturing interest should in any way decline; and that agriculture must look to the extension of our commerce, as the most friendly circumstance that could befall it. Again, the Member for Somersetshire was extremely well received when he, about this time, announced to his constituents assembled to hear him, that the time was now come when the British farmer must abandon his reliance on protection, and stand upon his own prudence and skill: and lastly, came a gentleman who I think had represented or did represent a division in the county of Sussex, Mr. Goring, who said that the farmer had nothing to fear—that he had great advantages in the circumstances of this country—and that in fact, protection was useless to him. I observed all these speeches were well received; and I never could understand why a sudden stop was put to the continued utterance of such excellent counsel; or why policy of preparing the farmer's minds was at once abandoned. I was induced at the time, I remember, to consider whether there was not some connection between that and the news from China, as, from the moment that some revival of the trade was expected from this circumstance, these salutary lecturings were stopped— looking a little as if monopoly was to be clung to so long as it was possible; but showing that if trade did not improve, and the pressure from without was only sufficient, it might, in the opinion of its supporters, be abandoned without danger—aye, and as many of them almost admit, with positive advantage to themselves; for, it is a law that has for its purpose not only to prevent importation; but as Mr. Welford shews, of preventing improvement and checking production. There is the same imaginary interest in doing both. What is essential to the success of a corn-law is, to limit the quantity, for that is the only way by which price can be maintained; and that may be defeated as much by rendering the soil more productive, as by importation. Indeed, of late it has been avowed, that the defect of the law has been that it has not been sufficiently restrictive; that some clause was required to limit the quantity. This was openly stated in the Morning Post the other day, which is the special organ of the proprietors who support this law; it has been repeated in effect by the Standard, which is the organ of the Government; and I observed, in a speech made by the Member for Dorsetshire, when he addressed his constituents, that he almost ridiculed the idea of the farmers adopting the later and the best improvements in agriculture, recommended to them—asking in derision, where they were to obtain the money to effect them, and whether if the landlords advanced the money, they were ever likely to be repaid. And yet the object and effect of such improvements, is to supply to the deficiency of food, and the fact is, that has been the defect of the law from the first, and must always be so—nothing can secure price, but limiting quantity, and nothing in some years can do that unless improvements are checked, or that there are special powers residing in some quarter for the purpose of destroying the produce or controlling its amount. I remember Mr. Whitmore told the agriculturists sarcastically at some meeting, that there ought to be a burning clause in their acts to be enforced whenever by the bounty of heaven, the harvests were too abundant, and I think he alluded to its having gravely contemplated at some agricultural meeting in 1822. These were really the views taken by the party represented by the Member for Wallingford, and with whom a large majority of the other House I believe, warmly sympathises. But if the farmers would not be frightened, and improvements could not be prevented, was there a pretence for saying, that the land would go out of cultivation, which is constantly repeated as an argument against change. This is repeated year after year, and I ask the House candidly, if there has ever been the slightest pains taken to shew any ground for the opinion, or whether there is really reason for expecting that it would happen. Look at the foolish predictions that have been made from time to time on this account, as a reason for this or some other Corn-law, and how regularly they have been all falsified by experience. It was only last Session, as I said before, that the Member for Nottinghamshire said, that if the price of wheat should fall to forty-seven shillings, that vast tracts of land must go out of cultivation. And yet is there an acre expected to go out of cultivation though prices, I believe, lower than that at this moment, or does any body expect any to go out. What was the case in 1822 and 1836? was any labour displaced, as it is called, in consequence of land being deserted or returned to waste? Why, in one of those years, a Mr. Ellis or Ellman, who is a favorite witness whenever it is thought necessary to call an agriculturist in favour of more protection, said, it was very extraordinary, that during those years which were designated as periods of unparalleled distress, that the demand for land was as great as ever, both by those who wanted to occupy land and those who desired to have more, and that none had gone out of cultivation. We all know, that at no period have enclosure bills been stopped, and that between the years of 1832 and 1836, nearly 100 were passed; but, if this solicitude for the labourer lest he might be displaced is sincere, how ready a mode does this land that hitherto has been productive, and that is expected to lie waste, offer to provide for the destitute labourer—let us only have the account of the land that is to be thrown out of cultivation, and we shall know how to provide for the labour. At present the calculation is, that there are three labourers for 100 acres. Think you, that these 100 acres divided among the three labourers would not maintain them somewhat better than they are maintained at present—that surely is an answer to those who pretend that their only fear in repealing the law is on account of displacing labour. I doubt, if all the labourers that were to be so displaced, were to be maintained magnificently at the public expense, whether it would be so costly to the community, as 1s. a quarter added to the price of the grain consumed in this country. But it is in fact, nothing more or less than a cruel mockry of the labourer to talk of his interest in this law, which diminishes the quantity of food to be distributed amongst his class, and from the results of which he has been an invariable sufferer, and always more intensely in proportion as the law has succeeded in its object. It has been with difficulty, that these labourers have been restrained at various times from breaking the peace consequent upon their discontent at the results of the law. The average price of wheat from 1794 to 1814, was 84s. a quarter, and during that time there were several occasions of rioting in the country districts, simply owing to the high price of food. But again, whether we make inquiry in these districts ourselves, or looked to the evidence which had been collected by committees, how could the labourer be worse off than he is at present after the law had existed for twenty-eight years. What only occurred the other day in one of the wealthy counties in the centre of the kingdom. A report had been lately made by the surgeons appointed to examine the convicts in the hulks when they arrived there from the prisons, and they had there expressed their opinion that the condition of the prisoners showed the insufficiency of their previous diet, they had all the appearance of having been kept on bad and insufficient food, and in consequence the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State, had issued an order to all the gaols, directing an improvement in their dietaries; but when the magistrates came to consider the improvement which was directed in their diet, they exclaimed against it, and speaking from their local acquaintance with the condition of the peasantry, declared that the criminals would in future be far better off than the labouring poor; thus showing, that those who were maintained in a condition only just above that which should preclude disease and malady arising from bad living, was a condition above that for which gentlemen, as friends of the poor, plead the continuance of this law. I have here a specimen of what was the condition of those poor labourers in one of the midland counties, said to be better off than others, it is an extract from a paper published in Worcestershire." Wages of Agricultural Labourers.—The advocates of the Corn-laws say that their re peal would reduce the labourers' wages; others that their wages are already at the starvation point, and cannot be reduced. We give a case in point;—A labourer named Smith, was recently brought before the Worcester bench, charged with an offence against the Highway Act, and when the magistrates were considering the case, it came out that he was engaged as cowman, from Michaelmas last year till Lady-day this, at 16s,. 6d., besides his hoard and lodging, and had to pay for his washing himself. It further appeared, that for the two years previous to Michaelmas he had worked for 7s. per week, and found in everything, saving in harvest time, when he had dinner and drink. Under these circumstances, the bench mitigated the penalty to 1s. and coats, or one day's imprisonment. Smith's case is not solitary, but one of a rapidly increasing class. Now, under these circumstances, with evidence within every man's reach of the wretched condition of the agricultural labourer in this country, I do really hope that gentlemen will be more careful than they commonly are in what they allege in defence of this law, for it does almost amount to insult to those who were suffering the severest privation, to tell them that a law injurious to every body else was kept to benefit them. I do not suppose that the supporters of this law will much heed what I say on this point; but I do assure them that there is now an intelligence abroad on this subject that will utterly preclude the success of any of those fallacies that have been used before, and that every thing which is said will be carefully scanned and judged of by men well informed on the matter. Let them remember what had been the consequence of urging that there were peculiar burthens on the land as a pretext for the Corn-laws. Why, that inquiry into its truth was demanded. Two motions in this House have been made to this effect; were they conceded? No, shrunk from, and why? Because, after the matter had been thoroughly sifted, it was found, that so far from their being exclusive charges, there were shameless exemptions. With regard to the tithes that were spoken of as a plea by some for raising rent by law, and which some were induced to believe by confusion being artfully created in their minds between a right reserved in the land as old as its appropriation, and a public burthen for which the present owners of the soil were made especially liable. Tithe is only an ancient right reserved in the State to a portion of the profits of the land applicable for the purposes of religion, a right, I trust, the State will never part with, and for which the landlord has no more right to indemnity than he has to be indemnified for not possessing another man's property. That there were inconveniences and some check to improvement in the old way of collecting the tithe or exercising this right, is well known; but we are talking at a time when the commutation of the tithe so collected for a fixed pecuniary payment has been nearly completed, and the inconvenience or mischief no longer exists; and to talk of a Corn-law as an indemnity for tithe, when in Scotland no tithe is paid, and in England more than one quarter of it is tithe free, and that a large portion of the tithes belong to landlords themselves is in my judgment an extravagant absurdity. As for the land-tax, it is doubtless a deduction from rent but one to which the State is entitled, surely, considering the manner in which the landlords in Parliament have dealt with that since it was imposed, it never can be for their interest to have it discussed or inquired into; for no man can learn that history without almost feeling that, as a class, the landowners had proved themselves utterly unworthy of public trust, for nothing ever was more shameless than the manner in which the State has been deprived of its due amount of that tax by a gross violation of the bargain the landowners made with the Crown when it was imposed. It was strictly in lieu of the feudal services by which alone their lands were held, and for which 4s. in the pound on the rental was imposed, an inadequate commutation for the inconvenience to which such service would have exposed them, but which now, did it yield what it ought, would have covered the whole amount of, and thereby dispense with the Excise. Did the land-tax now pay its proper quota, it would yield 13,000,000l,. a-year instead of little more than 1,000,000l, but by causing the assessment to be fixed upon the valuation the land made 150 years since, the public have been defrauded of the difference. But the claim of any special burthen being upon the landlords of England is the most barefaced pretext for the Corn-law that was ever put forward, when it is matter of history that there is no country in Europe where the feudal system has prevailed where the landowners and the aristocracy have made such favourable terms with the Crown as in England. In all other, whether in Austria, Italy, Prussia, Belgium, and France, they have submitted, in lieu of services, to a considerable direct tax on their land, bearing a large proportion to the whole taxation of the country. But, Sir, in calling for this great act of policy and humanity, that the supply of food to the community should not be obstructed by law, I will not descend to discuss the miserable pretence for monopoly in a parcel of local liabilities which attach to property. I demand, on the part of the community, some reply to the question which is here proposed, upon what principle of justice or wisdom the trade in the people s food is not allowed to be free, when, on all hands its taxation as accessory to revenue is repudiated, and it is avowed by the Minister, that from the deteriorated condition of the people that the limits of taxation on the necessaries of life have been already passed; and I do hope on this occasion, that the right hon. Baronet will not content himself with fencing with small details, and taking advantage of slight errors or inaccuracies of unguarded opponents, but will give us his general views of the present economical condition of this country, and apply himself to the main feature of this question, that I now propose to him—namely, that people are not adequately supplied with food, that their numbers are increasing, and that the law exists purposely to make food scarce; and let him tell us in answer, whether he considers that the people are adequately supplied with food in this country, and if not how he can justify the maintenance of a law having such a purpose as the Corn-law, and which men of the very class who maintain it, and who know the objects of those who passed it, admit to have been passed for their interest; the people well know that Lord Fitzwilliam has openly declared that the law has been made for the interest of the landed aristocracy:—? "The painful confession must be made that our own benefit is the true object for which this obnoxious code is established," are his words; and we know that the late first Minister, Lord Melbourne, in the other House, reminded their Lordships in a friendly way, that the pinch of the question was, that they were legislating for their own pockets, that Lord John Russell, in the face of the citizens of London, declared that the law was one made not for the community, but for a particular class, and that he opposed it because he wanted to liberate our commerce, and to unchain the industry of the country; and lastly, the people have heard Lord Mountcashel's view of its necessity, who, in his simplicity, uttered the truth plainer than other men, for he said he wanted it to enable great men to pay their mortgages. Now, then, upon such authority as to the object of the law, and with the people's experience of its effects, what can be said to satisfy them that they ought not to call for its repeal. The case stands thus—this law avowedly passed with a partial object still continues, the people are hourly increasing in number, they are wanting more food, there is no lack of food in the world, there is no lack of means in this country to procure it, and if the law did not prevent food coming into the country, it would be utterly useless to those who maintain it. And let the House, I implore you, also remember that the general opinion out of doors is, that the continuance of such a law is nothing less than an outrage on humanity, and a scandal to Christendom. On these grounds, then, I ask the House to resolve itself into a committee of the whole House to take the Corn-law into its consideration, with the view to its immediate abolition.

Mr. Villiers Stuart

seconded the motion. He was aware that there were many advantages possessed by the landlords, said he could wish to find a disinterested witness from some other part of the world, and ask his opinion with respect to the effect of the Corn-law; but there would be much difficulty in doing so, for if he looked to Europe he should be told that all the agriculturists of the Continent were interested in the supply of grain. Again, if he turned to America the same would be said. He would, therefore, go further off, and suppose that in consequence of our new relations with China some lord high commissioner were to be sent from there to this country, and, in his anxiety to become acquainted with our affairs, he were to look over our tariff and find a particular legislation laid down to make the entry into the country of a particular article called corn as difficult as possible. It would not be at all surprising if this high commissioner were to come to the conclusion that the state of things produced by that regulation was a just retribution upon the country of the "barbarian eye" for their attempt to deluge China with the noxious poison called opium. It might be imagined that the commissioner, upon finding this law was intended to keep out an undesirable commodity, would feel disposed to recommend the adoption of some such "sliding-scale" to his own sovereign, with a view to keeping out opium. Well knowing, however, that his imperial master had a way of summarily punishing the projector of an unsuccessful experiment, the commissioner would inquire particularly what had been the practical effect of this law for keeping out corn; he would doubtless apply to the Vice-President of the Board of Trade for information; and then would he find, much to his disappointment, that not long after the law had passed to keep out corn, that class of men called farmers, for whose express benefit the law had been made, had been deluged by the influx of some 2,000,000 of quarters of the prohibited article. The commissioner, however, might then think that his imperial master had another object in view than to keep out opium—namely, to keep in Sycee silver; and would apply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to know what the effect of the law in that respect had been; and then the commissioner would be astonished to find that every grain of this corn had been paid for in solid coin. He thought they were bound to alter this law by every consideration not only of policy, but of personal interests also, if they took an interested view of the question. The Government was about to mitigate the evil, it was true, by the introduction of the Canadian Corn Bill. He admitted that that measure would do some good, but at the same time it was very like administering a mere soothing medicine to a person suffering under a disease, instead of applying a remedy at once to the disease itself. The measure, moreover, had this disadvantage, that it gave to Canada the monopoly of supplying this country. Shortly the wastes there would be cultivated, capital would be invested, and then the growers there would be protected in the same unnatural, and, as he believed, impolitic way as the agriculturists here had been. Then the time would come when that law would be swept away, and then their prosperity would be at an end. He begged leave to second the motion.

Mr. Gladstone:

Sir, I am aware that there are many Gentlemen on this side of the House who are anxious to address the House upon the important subject now submitted to it; but I trust I shall find apology with those Gentlemen, and with the House, for interposing between them and the delivery of their sentiments, on account of the anxiety I feel to avail myself of the first opportunity that offers itself in this debate for the purpose of declaring, on the part of my right hon. Friend, the course which the Government think it necessary to take with respect to a subject of this importance; for, upon a motion in which so many interests and feelings are involved, a motion in which considerations of such vital moment are included, not the slightest doubt should be allowed to exist as to the conduct which the Government feel it to be their duty to pursue. I need, I trust, hardly say that the intention of the Government is to meet the motion of the hon. Gentleman by a direct negative. I can hardly imagine that the hon. Gentleman himself, in proposing this subject for the consideration of the House, has done so with a view to any advantage he can expect to derive from the division by which the sentiments of the House will ultimately be manifested. The recollection of last year must be fresh in his mind, when in a full House, amounting to very nearly 500 Members, 393 of these Members declared themselves against the abolition of the Corn-laws, while no more than ninety were in favour of the hon. Gentleman's motion. Perhaps, the hon. Gentleman may be of opinion, that since that time there has been a progression of public opinion in favour of his views. If that be so, I differ from him, and join issue with him on that point. I believe that if his motion were an unreasonable motion twelve months ago—at least this House judged it to be an unreasonable motion, I believe, on the one hand, that every ground upon which it was then decided to be unreasonable, remains the same: nay, more, that every argument on which it was pronounced unreasonable, has acquired, in the interval, greater force. On the other hand, I believe that many of the reasons which were then urged in favour of the motion, have now lost their force. The hon. Gentleman who seconded this motion, has Spoken of an intention on the part of the Government to mitigate or qualify in some degree the measure of last year, by a bill for the admission of Canadian corn. I do not wish to forestall the discussion which must take place upon that subject, and the full consideration which the measure will receive; but thus far I may venture to go—I may disclaim all the credit which the hon. Gentleman would award to the Government on that ground. My conception is, not that it is a measure for the purpose of amending the Corn-law of last year to suit it to the exigency of the time, but that it it a measure which was indicated at the time of passing that law, and is, in fact, no more than the fulfilment of an engagement made at that time. In stating the reasons for meeting the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton with a direct negative, I must, in the first place, make that which I know is a strong assertion, and requires strong ground to bear it out; but still I am prepared to go so far as to say, looking at what has occurred within the lapse of the last twelve months, and looking at the; brevity of the period, that I not only regard the motion for the repeal of the Corn-laws as impolitic in itself, but as involving something which would be very nearly approaching to the character of a breach of faith on the part of the Government and of this House; and it would certainly convict those who passed the law of last year of the grossest imbecility in the face of the country and the world, if they were to turn round upon that measure without allowing what, in common decency, may be called a fair trial of its merits, and were to adopt a course diametrically opposite in principle, and leading to results they then described to be ruinous. I would say of the Corn-law as of all other laws of the kind, that, as a commercial law, it partakes of the nature of an experiment, but it also partakes of the nature of a contract. It is perfectly true, that Parliament may change its mind, if circumstances change, or the dictates of reason show that the ground upon which it had proceeded are false; but in the absence of such motives for alteration as the measure does partake of the nature of a contract—any alteration made in it, without either sound and substantial allegations on the one hand, with a frank Confession of error, or on the other, a change of events rendering a change expedient, Would amount to a breach of contract. Can any hon. Gentleman say that this law has received anything like a fair trial? I do not ask the hon. Member for Wolverhampton such a question because he has ever been the consistent advocate of a total and unconditional repeal of this law. He has always said—and never more distinctly, never with more rigid impartiality than to-night—that he regarded not the question as one of time or of degree; he has always denied that he would take notice of the more or less of evil to arise from the immediate repeal of the law. He has always aimed the axe at the root. His objection is to a tax on the necessaries of life in any shape or form whatever. He said, "I do not come here to argue about the best means to attain a bad end;" meaning, to raise no question as to amount or degree. His objection is vital,—he objects to the principle of the measure as a cruelty to the people, as aiming at the starvation of the people, and that objection he states broadly. And it is upon that objection that he has founded his proposition tonight; and to that proposition I shall at present apply myself. The hon. Gentleman who has seconded the motion said, he could not conceive that agricultural commerce ought to be legislated for in any manner different from manufacturing commerce. He complained, that that idea had prevailed, and that there still existed a disposition to legislate differently for one description of commerce from that of the other. I conceive we are now discussing, not a question about one amount of duty or another, but the question between protection and no protection; and I turn the argument of the hon. Gentleman against himself, and complain that the proposition now made is the very proposition which would deal with agricultural commerce in a manner different from that adopted for manufacturing commerce. The proposition is this, that the most important production of the soil should be deprived altogether of a protecting duty, while only last Session the Parliament did, on behalf of manufacturing commerce, adjust anew the principle of protection. I know the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) will say the manufacturers of this country do not want protection, and when he refers to certain great branches of manufactures, which depend chiefly upon foreign markets, I do not deny that those engaged in such manufactures are ready to dispense with protection; but I speak of all the descriptions of labour. There are a vast number of manufacturers besides those who prepare goods for exportation; and I do say, in opposition to the hon. Gentleman, that whatever he may think or assert, yet the parties themselves assert on their own behalf opinions very different from his. And this is the case even on the part of some of those persons who do export manufactures very largely. Take for example the linen trade. [Mr. Hume, hear.] I hear the hon. Member for Montrose cheer. Then I can only say the linen trade has practised the grossest imposition upon the Government during the last Session, because, not only did they represent to the Government that there was no disposition on their part to dispense with protection, but they even proposed that an increased protection should be afforded to them. That was a proposition pressed most assiduously upon her Majesty's Government by those representing the linen trade in Scotland as well as in Yorkshire: and when the Government opposed the proposition, my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding pressed the point upon the House of Commons. A great deal of time was spent last Session in adjusting the duties for the support of the various interests connected with manufactures, the House having then, as for many years before, proceeded on the principle that protecting duties were necessary in our commercial system. Therefore, in strictness and truth, when hon. Gentlemen come forward and call upon the House to do away with all protection affecting the great articles, the production of the soil, they are the parties who are proposing to apply to agricultural commerce a rule and measure totally different from the rule and measure applied to commerce of another description. It is for them to show cause why that rule should be abandoned exclusively to the disfavour and prejudice of agriculture. It is alleged by hon. Gentlemen opposite that there has been too much protection afforded to agriculture, that agriculture has been the favourite subject of protection, and that class-legislation has been directed to giving protection and encouragement to the growth of corn. I will not now go into that question, because we are not at present discussing the amount of protection given to different interests, but supposing this allegation to be true, what is its bearing upon the proposition for removing protection altogether? It is the very reverse of that which the hon. Gentlemen opposite contend that it is. For if it be true that our laws have hitherto held out this great shelter and aid to agriculture—if it be true that a great amount of capital and industry have, in consequence of our laws—whether mischievous or otherwise—been invested in the cultivation of the soil, then I ask, is not the House and the country under a moral obligation to allow to these circumstances their due weight, and instead of turning round upon those engaged in agricultural pursuits and saying to them "We will deprive you of all protection, because the laws have hitherto peculiarly favoured you," are we not bound on the other hand to admit that the legislature has given its pledge, either by implication or by direct enactment (and this pledge is an important element in a just consideration of the present question), to take care that none of its measures shall place them and their various interests in a worse position than other interests, and it will adopt any proposition that will deal out to them greater injustice than if they had never received any legislative favour or protection whatever? I am now, for the sake of argument, admitting the truth of these allegations, and I will then even show that the conclusions are wrong. How does the Legislature act in the case of a sinecure? It does not inquire whether it be one which it is expedient for the public to have had created. No, it recognizes the rights which have been so created—it recognizes the pledge of the public faith which has been given, that the party shall not be deprived of that sinecure without a due consideration of his claims. I ask you, on the part of the agriculturists, whether, at a period when you have recently re-established, as being suitable to the times and circumstances of the country, the principle of protection, and have applied it, in such measure and degree as you have thought just to the producers of all articles of trade and manufacture in this country who chose to claim the benefit of it—whether, at such a period, you shall refuse to apply, as the hon. Gentleman proposes you should do, the same principle of protection to agriculture, and refuse to accord to the agriculturists that which you have granted to all other interests in the kingdom. The hon. Gentleman has argued that the present is a favourable time for removing the Corn-law from the statute book on account of the low prices of provisions. I, on the contrary, shall insist that cheapness of provisions is an additional reason why the Corn-law should not be removed. I contend that the cheapness of provisions, while it removes the necessity on the part of the consumer for repealing the Corn-law, would increase the hardship of repealing them on the part of the producer. I do not know whether there ever has been a period in the history of this country—at least, within the last sixty or seventy years—when agricultural produce of all kinds taken together, have been as low in price as at present. About eight years ago, 1835, we had perhaps the cheapest year of any year within the memory of those I now address, and I have been curious to compare the prices of the great leading articles of agricultural produce in the year 1835, with the prices they bear at the present time. I shall for the present omit the article of wheat and the statement of other prices is as follows:—

In May, 1835. In 1843
Barley was 32s. 3d. 28s. 6d.
Oats 23s. 3d 17s 4d
Beans 36s 6d 26s 1d
Peas 55s. 5d. 28s. 0d.
Beef. from 3s 2d to 4s. 2d. 3s. 0d to 3s. l0d.
Mutton from 3s. 6d to 4s. 6d 3s. 0d to 4s. 0d
Butter 74s 0d 74s. 0d also
Cheese from 54s. 0d to 70s. 0d 55s. 0d to 83s. 0d
Wool from 1s. 6d to 1s. 9d 11d. to 1s. 0d
Hay from £4 0s. to £5 0s. £4 10s to £4 15s.
Straw from £2 0s. to £2 4s. £2 6s. to £2 10s.

The result of this table is, that only two articles, cheese and straw, are materially dearer now than in 1835. Cheese is 11 per cent, higher, and straw 14 per cent. On the other hand, there are seven of these great articles which are now cheaper than in 1835. Barley is 11 per cent, cheaper, oats 25 per cent., beans 28 per cent., and the article of wool is no less than 41 per cent, cheaper than in 1835. So far, therefore, as the ability of the consumer is affected by the dearness of food, I do not think the prices at the present time at all advance the argument of the hon. Gentleman, that poverty is created and the consumers are impoverished in consequence of the high prices of agricultural produce. Now let us look at the article of wheat. In May, 1835, it is true the average price of wheat was 39s., while in May, 1843, it is 46s. 4d., being 7s. dearer; but although there is this difference, yet I do not believe that, as regards the article of wheat, the agriculturist at this moment, upon the the whole, is in a more favourable condition than, or even as favourable a condition as that which he occupied in 1835; because at that period he was selling exclusively his own growth, whereas at the present time there has not been less than three millions of quarters of foreign wheat introduced into this country. The producer has been placed in the peculiar situation of having that quantity of produce imported which is proper to a year of scarcity, together with prices which belong to a year of good harvest. The result, then, is that prices are low, and are so far easy to the people. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton says, "Food is scarce— there never is enough of it—study how to increase the supply." He says, "Prevent periods of dearth and high prices, and you will do more than all that can be effected by education and religious instruction." Why, does the hon. Member think that it is in the power of man to prevent high prices, or that it is within our reach to prevent dearth. By dearth I mean such high prices as press upon the comforts of the people. Does the hon. Gentleman think that the difference between a good harvest and a bad harvest is merely a matter of legislation? Does he think that the difference between five bad harvests in succession and five good harvests in succession can be regulated by a change in the law? Does he really believe that there are at all times to be had, irrespective of the regular demand, for I am not speaking of that, but of the demand which occurs on the occasion of a bad harvest—for I presume that the hon. Gentleman will allow that there would be a greater demand under a system of free-trade when the harvest was bad than when it was good—does he believe that there will be at all times to be had a supply of corn at the same regular scale of prices on the occurrence of a bad harvest in this kingdom? If not, then what must be the consequence of no less than the succession of five bad harvests? Would it be in the power of any legislation, under such circumstances, to preserve equal prices. [Hear]. I certainly understood the argument of the hon. Gentleman to be, that with an open trade in corn, we might have a fixed demand for corn. But I must say that over and above a steady demand we must have an additional demand in the case of years of bad harvest; and the hon. Gentleman who cheered, and who was cheered by another hon. Gentleman said that the further demand would not cause a further rise in price, and that no inconvenience whatever would be felt. If so, then the hon. Gentleman must also contend that if we have five bad harvests in succession, there would be no pressure and no inconvenience caused by them. The hon. Gentleman bad said that there are ten millions of people in this country without the common necessaries of life. Now, I should be sorry to speak with levity of anything connected with the distress of the country. I am too well aware of the existence of that distress, and I am too sensible of its being the duty of this House to adopt every measure in its power that may tend to remove that distress, to speak with levity upon such a subject; but the hon. Gentleman must at the same time excuse me for thinking that it is a most extravagant statement to say that ten millions of people in this country are without the necessaries of life. I know that the hon. Member did not mean to say that they were in a state of starvation, for he has qualified the expression in another place, but that these ten millions are unable to command wheaten bread, and are compelled to live as he said, four millions upon oatmeal, while six millions rejoice in potatoes. I, for one, should certainly rejoice if wheaten bread and other comforts could be enjoyed by every individual in the nation. But the hon. Gentleman's case is of a different kind. He has to show that it is owing to the Corn-law that these ten millions do not enjoy wheaten bread. He has to show that it is an evil springing from that law, and that the law increases the evil. He says, You, the producers, are growing rich, while the consumers are growing poor. I am not aware that the producers of corn are growing rich. I think there may be two opinions upon that question. But I do not think that the consumers of corn are growing poorer relatively to what they were in former times, in consequence of the Corn-law. 1 do not say that their condition is as good as it was four or five years ago; but this I do say, that if you compare the present state of the people with what it has been in former generations, I believe the evidence of facts goes to show that, as far as having a command over the necessaries and comforts of life is the question, their condition is better even at this moment of great and peculiar distress—but at all events upon an average of years—take the last ten years—their condition is very materially better than it was thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago. A great transition has been effected in the diet of the people of this country within the last century. 100 years ago rye was the food of the common people of this country—not merely of the people of Scotland and Ireland, from whom the hon. Gentleman has derived very nearly the whole of his 10,000,000, for otherwise I know not where he would find them—but 100 years ago the people of England lived not upon wheat but upon rye. But when we are speaking of the wants of the people as a matter of complaint against the existing state of the law, we must not compare it with an abstract state of perfection, but with what their state has been at former periods; and if you do this, I believe it will be found that the subsistence of the people for the last ten years has been far better than it was two generations ago; and that if you take them as compared with other countries; if you go to the con- tinent of Europe and travel from one country to another, you will scarcely find any one country in which the subsistence of the people is not fixed at a considerably lower standard than the present subsistence of the people of England. But let us look at the subsistence of the people as depending upon the price of wheat, which is the staple commodity. There was a state of things in this country when trade in corn was practically free. There was no artificial obstruction to its importation, such as caused a very great enhancement of prices during the war. But, if I take a period antecedent to the revolutionary war, I think a very fair comparison may be instituted with reference to the subsistence of the people as depending upon prices. There are twenty-two years for which I have public returns of prices, being the period from the year 1771, to the year 1792. In those years the average price for the whole period was very nearly the same as at present. In twelve of those years, when the trade was practically free, the average was higher than now, in ten of them the average was lower. I am not entering into the question whether freedom of trade in corn would greatly diminish the price. I do not think, as a permanent reduction, there would be so enormous a diminution as some think. But. I am speaking of certain facts with reference to the effect prices have on the condition of the consumer under the present law. I say, that the price which the consumer is now called upon to pay for his wheat, is, upon the whole, rather lower than higher than the price was which he paid for it during the twenty-two years of unobstructed trade in corn, which prevailed in this country before the revolutionary war. It appears to me, that if it really had been the object of the hon. Gentleman to operate by his division to night, and if he had looked at his motion as a practical motion, he would have found it necessary to state some justification for raising a question as to the existence of the present Corn-law within twelve months of its enactment, because something is due to the Parliament which passed that law, however the hon. Gentleman may dispute the judgment of that Parliament. If every individual Member were to act upon his own views of any particular measure, and should revive a question which has been formally decided by the House so recently as the previous year, it is manifest that the public busi- ness could make no progress, and that the public interest must be injured. Now, I ask whether the hon. Gentleman has given, even to those who think the question open for discussion, any justifiable ground for his bringing it forward at the present time? Can any candid man say, that sufficient time has elapsed since the passing of this law to enable us to say, in any fair and reasonable degree, that it has been tried? It has existed one short year, and that not an ordinary year; but one which stood, in respect to the growers of corn, as an exception from every other year. I do not know whether there has been any year in the present century in which the anticipations of the harvest, and the results of that harvest, were so remarkably contrasted. I have been much interested in referring to those journals which give intelligence to the public in respect to matters connected with the corn trade, free from all bias, by noticing the prospects of the harvest last year, subsequent to the passing of the existing law; because whatever may be the merits or the demerits of that law, these facts must have weight in enabling us to judge of the operation of the law during last year. The Universal Corn Reporter, an important publication, issued weekly, and devoted to giving intelligence with respect to the prospects of the harvest, contained the following reflections, at the dates assigned to them. June 13, Serious apprehensions of injury from drought. 17, Increasingly unfavourable reports respecting the growing crops. 24, We fear, that even under the most auspicious circumstances the yield will again prove very short this year. July 1, By many men of great experience it is estimated that even under the most auspicious circumstances the produce must be considerably short of an average. 8, The opinion, that the yield will prove short continues to gain ground. No change of tone; and, August 5, We are inclined to think that the produce will barely reach an usual average. By the 12th, however, the tone had changed, for then they said,— The produce of corn will, in proportion to the straw, be great, which together with superiority of the quality will probably do much to make up for any acreable deficiency. The fact is, that in ordinary years there are very reasonable grounds of anticipation of the character of the harvest, but upon the whole this may be taken to be true, that in the spring, even perhaps in the seed time of Autumn, there are symptoms by which those who are accustomed to trade under the observation of the growing crops can, in nine cases out of ten, predict what the ultimate character of the harvest will prove to be. That is the general rule as regards the production of corn, and as regards the operation of the Corn-laws, But in 1842, this was altogether reversed. The seed time of 1841, had been unfavourable almost beyond precedent. So bad were the symptoms, that they led to unusual operations in the corn trade, and to the great bulk of those orders being sent abroad for foreign corn, which subsequently turned out so ruinous. In spring this anticipation was confirmed. Damages had been done which were so extensive, that they appeared irretrievable; and even up to the period when the sickle entered the corn, nay, even until the corn was brought to market, there were no means of knowing what its yield might be. Therefore, the character of the last year was something different from any year during the present century. According to Mr. Welford's work, quoted by the hon. Member, which gives a detail of the particulars of all the harvests during the present century; there is not one of the corn years during that period in which there were circumstances at all resembling those of last year. If it would be unreasonable under almost any circumstances to argue upon the operation of a Corn-law from its working for a single year, most of all is it unreasonable to argue from the experience which has been afforded by the last year, not only so limited as to time, but differing as it did in almost all particulars from the usual course of things, and from every corn year within the memory of the present generation. With respect to the hon. Gentleman's statement that the supply of food is insufficient, and that it always must be insufficient, I cannot help thinking, whatever may be the ability which he brings to bear upon the discussion of this question, and I readily acknowledge his ability, that there is a kind of prism in his mind which coloured every fact upon which his mental vision falls, which connects it in some secret and almost magical manner with the operation of the Corn-laws. Whatever of evil he imagines to exist, that he attributes to those laws; and whatever of happiness he desires to obtain, that he thinks can only be realised by repealing those laws. With respect to crime, I do not deny that poverty leads to crime, and that high prices produce poverty. The hon. Gentleman quoted the amount of committals in 1826, when corn was cheap, and in 1841 when corn was dear; he showed, that there had been a considerable increase of committals, and immediately he exclaimed, "See the effect of your Corn-law!" But I can give facts which will wholly reverse the argument. Take the year 1825, when corn was 68s. 6d. a quarter, the committals were 14,214. In the year 1826, corn was 58s. 8d. a quarter, and the committals ought to have fallen, according to the hon. Gentleman's argument, but, instead of that, they increased to 15,986. In 1827, the price of corn was 58s. 6d., but the committals had still increased, and were in number 17,654 In 1828, corn rose to 60s. 5d.; the number of committals, however, fell to 16,370. I trust the House will forgive me for introducing topics of this kind. But I only allude to them to show how easily the converse of the argument of the hon. Gentleman may be established by referring to the very same data he himself adduces. I do not deny, that poverty leads to crime, but I have shown how exaggerated and extravagant the temper of that mind must be which finds in these facts an argument against the Corn-law. The hon. Gentleman spoke very hopelessly upon the subject of agricultural improvement. I think there are grounds for expectations much more cheering than those which the hon. Gentleman finds. It would be great presumption in me to deliver an opinion upon such a subject, but there are Gentlemen of authority on such matters who do look forward with sanguine anticipations of great improvement in the methods of cultivating the soil, and of a corresponding increase in its productions. The hon. Gentleman astonished me when he spoke of a party in this country who are opposed to increase the productive powers of the soil. News more astonishing to me never came by Overland Mail nor any other conveyance. I believe it to be only the phantom of the hon. Gentleman's own mind. No doubt in this country, where opinion and thought are unconstrained, and where every man may utter the strangest notions, many such conceits are begotten and produced to light; but that such a doctrine, that so unnatural and monstrous a spirit, that one so hideous as that which would wish the production of the soil to be restricted, for the purpose of maintaining high prices, and of getting the highest amount at the least possible comfort to the purchaser, exists in this country, is what I never can believe. I am happy in believing the idea is a delusion. [Cheers.] And, Sir, I should be sorry, indeed, to believe that there are Gentlemen in England—and still more sorry to be assured, by those cheers, that there are Members of this House—who can believe in the possibility of such a thing. But, may I take the liberty of quoting a short passage from a work on the subject of the state of agriculture in England. It is contained in the 3rd volume of the Agricultural Journal, and is understood to have been written by my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire. It is to this effect:— Now that these things [having spoken of improvements in agriculture] are come to light, we may hope not only that they will be spoken of but practised more generally—that draining-tiles will be greatly cheapened, more drains be cut, more chalk be laid on the downs, the wolds, and the clays, marl on the sands, clay on the fens and peats, lime on the moors, many of which should be broken up; that old ploughs will be cast away, the number of horses reduced, good breeds of cattle extended, stock fattened where it has hitherto been starved (though this is now rare), root crops drilled and better dunged, new kinds of those crops cultivated, and artificial manures of ascertained usefulness purchased. It is the knowledge of those weapons which we actually have in our hands that may make us look back with satisfaction to the efforts we have already made, and forward with cheerful confidence to the improvement of husbandry through the collective experience of our farmers. Guarding myself against the presumption of expressing an opinion upon such a subject, or as to how far we can look to the resources of our own agriculture, with such increase of produce of the soil, as shall enable us to support our increased and growing population in comfort, I ear-not but, at all events, pay my tribute of respect and admiration to the hon. Gentleman, and to the Gentlemen like him, who have devoted their best energies to the improvement of the valuable processes pointed out by him, and who thereby do lend the most powerful aid to the encouragement of that agriculture which is the surest support of the social edifice of this country. My humble opinion is, that the present moderate price of provisions which tends very much to weaken whatever arguments-the hon. Gentleman might have derived from the state of the provision market two or three years ago in favour of the motion which he has now submitted, is not altogether an unmixed good; although, I trust, there is a great balance of good resulting from cheapness of provisions, yet even cheapness itself may be attended with unfavourable consequences. The hon. Gentleman has asked whether any land had been thrown out of cultivation? I am not aware, that there has been; but before you come to the last extremity, there are intermediate measures, such as reducing the amount of labour bestowed upon the land, that may work much evil. And I am afraid that, in some parts, that process has been carried into effect, and I am quite convinced, that the adoption of the present motion would carry that process to a much greater extent. It does not follow, that because land is now cheap, that a very violent reaction might not be produced by any sudden operation upon the Corn-law, which might be productive of the most ruinous consequences. Let me, for a moment, refer to the state of America. I have lately seen in the newspapers, with some surprise, that the Americans are about to send manufactured goods to England. What does that indicate? Not that these goods are produced in the natural state of things there cheaper than in England; but that, owing to a total derangement of the circulating medium in America, there has been such an unnatural reduction of prices that there has been called into action a disposition to force exportation, under circumstances which would be otherwise attended with great sacrifices. In America prices are unnaturally low. Let us apply these considerations to agricultural produce in that country. We are told that the system of barter is almost established in America. However that may be, there can be no doubt, that at the present time the productions upon the Mississippi are at most unnaturally depressed prices. I have seen a report from a person who was sent to the western states of the Union in the autumn of last year, by one of the corn houses of this country. That person has made an investigation into the state of the harvest last year, and the probable quantities of wheat and flour that might be exported from the Mississippi in case of an opening into this country by a repeal of the Corn-laws. His report states:— The quantity of wheat produced last harvest has proved greater than was ever known before. The probable quantity which will be sent to New Orleans during the season may be estimated at 2,500,000 bushels—say 300,000 quarters, besides 500,000 or 600,000 barrels of flour—say 350,000 quarters. When the navigation of the upper river opens, in March and April, the probable prices of wheat and flour at New Orleans are likely to be 55 to 65 cents, per bushel of 60 lb. for the former, and 3 dollars for the latter, equivalent to 20s. to 24s. per quarter of 480 lb. free on board for wheat, and 13s. 6d. per barrel for flour. It may sound paradoxical to say, that cheapness may be a misfortune; but the introduction of that quantity of wheat from New Orleans, in the event of the adoption of the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, would, under present circumstances, be a national misfortune. If the wheat could be sold there at 22s., and imported into this country for 10s more, the violent effect upon the price of corn, notwithstanding its cheapness, would on the whole be a misfortune. The hon. Member talks of the facility with which people who feed upon potatoes may be brought to feed upon wheat: this is very true; but let him take care that he does not bring those who now feed upon wheat to feed upon potatoes. It is easy for the hon. Member to select isolated cases of individuals brought before a bench of magistrates as a specimen of what is going on in the agricultural districts; in my opinion such instances afford no criterion whatever of the condition of those districts, and although we have cause to wish their condition better, yet he would be but a shortsighted and false friend to those agricultural labourers who would adopt any legislative measure which would lead to any considerable dismissal of those labourers from their employment. I must confess, that there appears to me to be considerable injustice in the argument used by the hon. Member who made the present motion, in which he pointed his arguments against those who derived rent from the land. "The farmers of this country (said he) have the finest climate and the most productive soil, but the artificial amount of rent is the burthen that presses them to the ground." Of the three parties to be affected by the repeal of the Corn-laws, the landlord, the farmer, and the labourer, I contend, that the landlord would be the least affected. What is the doctrine of rent? The hon. Gentlemen opposite are students, or rather perhaps professors, of political economy; and I challenge them to controvert this position—that if in this country you re- duce rents largely and permanently, the consequence must be to displace agricultural labour—to throw land out of cultivation. What is rent, according to all the writers upon the subject? Without tying myself to exact expressions, the substance, I believe, is this, "Rent is what arises in a country, in the natural course of events, when the increase of population drives the people to the cultivation of inferior soils, and rent measures the difference between the cost of production on the best soils and on the worst." If such be the case, how could rent be reduced without throwing land out of cultivation? As long as our present extent of soil remains in cultivation, rent must remain. If you throw soils out of cultivation, there must be a displacement of agricultural labour. There appears to me on the contrary, much more truth in the doctrine that rents might be maintained concurrently with a displacement of agricultural labour. It might be true that the attention of the agricultural producers of this country has been too exclusively fastened on corn. It might be true, that by diverting their laud to pasture, the landlord might, in many cases, obtain more rent; but then what was to become of the labourer? This may be treated by some as alight matter, the hon. Mover was even jocose upon the subject; he said that the labourers might take the land on the allotment system; but the hot). Member knows perfectly well that the allotment system is not intended to create small farmers, but to procure an addition to the comforts of those whose main subsistence is derived from wages. It is no answer, therefore, to tell us that the labourers would take the land on the allotment system. I have thus stated some of the reasons which appear to me amply to justify, or rather imperatively to require the rejection of the motion before the House; but I said in the outset that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had shown himself singularly impartial, for he did not condescend to take any notice of the trifling distinction between this side of the House and the other, he did not urge a single objection to the Corn-law of my right hon. Friend; he took no cognizance of it; but the hon. Gentleman who seconded the motion noticed the sliding-scale, and professed himself hostile to the particular Corn-law now in operation. I maintain, in the first place, that it is unjust to assert that the present law has yet had a fair trial; but I am not therefore pre- pared to say that that law must necessarily be a good one. Let us, however, take the experience of the last twelve months for what it is worth and nothing more, and I do not hesitate to say that that experience has been favourable. It seems to me that the expectations held out by my right hon. Friend have been fulfilled by the operation of the law as far as it has gone. It was admitted twelve months ago, that the law then in existence was one of great stringency and severity—much more so than was foreseen by those who were its authors. It was not foreseen that the effect of the sliding-scale would be to induce the importers of corn to withhold it from, instead of bringing it into, the market; and it was never expected that by the measure of last year all difficulties and inconveniences would be removed at a single stroke, however it might suit the hon. Member opposite to hold out such an expectation. The hon. Member's plan, indeed, had certainly the plausible recommendation of putting an end to all uneasiness and all further agitation on the subject. The farmer would undoubtedly know what he had to expect, but he much doubted whether such certainty would increase his contentment. The expectations held out by the present law, as he conceived, were these: that it would by its operation mitigate or remove the inconveniences experienced under the former law as regarded the corn trade in connexion with our export trade, and promote the interests of the consumer, and that it would effect these great and important objects without any serious shock to the interests of the producer. As far as experience has gone, the anticipation has been reasonably fulfilled. If we look first to the consumer it will be admitted that he has no reason to complain of the present price. I do not ascribe the present price necessarily and exclusively to the law, but if the consumer has no reason to thank it, he has certainly no reason to complain of the operation of the law of last year. Under the old law the complaint was that no corn was introduced into the market until the farthest point of the scale of duties had been reached, and that then corn was brought in in a mass. In this respect I do not think that the law of last year has had a fair trial, because the impression that the harvest would be bad exerted a powerful influence on importers who kept back their corn on the chance of introducing it at the lowest duty. It has been said that the operation of the present law has been in this respect just the same as that of the old law; that the change has only been nominal, not real. I have stated that I will not consent to be bound by the experience of the last year; but I will undertake to show even from the experience of the last year that there has been a material and perceptible difference between the operation of the two laws. Of late years the House was aware that there was one great week in the year which figures to a large amount in the entries for consumption; but I will take sixteen weeks under the new law, and compare them with sixteen weeks under the old law, observing first, that the complaint we have to meet is this, that no corn is released until the extreme point has been obtained; and that then it is released in a mass. In 1841, under the old law, that was nearly literally the truth. The whole quantity entered for consumption in the sixteen weeks was 1,959,000 quarters; and of this in the first fifteen weeks only 107,000 quarters were entered; in the sixteenth week the amount was no less than 1,852,000 quarters. Now, let the House see what were the facts under the new law in the corresponding sixteen weeks ending with the week of great delivery. The entries were somewhat greater than in the preceding year, and amounted to 2,204,000 quarters; but the proportions between the fifteen weeks and the sixteenth week were different. The quantity entered in the sixteenth week was 1,355,000, and the quantity entered in the fifteen preceding weeks was 849,000. Deducting the last week before the sixteenth, the quantity entered for consumption in the fourteen first weeks before the week of great delivery had arrived, or was immediately at hand, was 455,000 quarters, a quantity sufficient to exercise a considerable influence on the market, though a small quantity as compared with the wants of the people. Instead of 455,000 quarters, had the old law continued in force, I do not believe that we should have had anything approaching to that quantity. It is, therefore, not true, that the operation of the present law has been the same as that of the old law with respect to withholding corn until the last moment, even under the unfavourable circumstances of the past year. If the consumer of corn has no right to complain of the present law, neither has the producer. I admit that there has been a great fall in the price of corn. I admit that it has not been accompanied by such an abundance as to compensate the grower, and I admit farther that it has not arisen so much out of abundance, putting the home and the foreign supply together, as it has arisen out of diminished ability to purchase. I venture to tell my hon. Friends on this side of the House, who may perhaps, think I am propounding a paradox, that in all probability, at this moment, if the old law had been in existence, the price of corn would hare been lower rather than higher. I see my hon. Friend the Member for Wallihgford (Mr. Blackstone) shakes his head, but that is not an opinion I have lately formed, and I will endeavour to state the grounds on which it rests. Before going into this explanation I am reminded that periods of much lower prices occurred under the old law. Indeed this was ah argument much In favour on the opposite side of the House—namely, that the tendency of the old law was to produce alternately glut and scarcity—the most exorbitant and the lowest prices. I beg to remind the hon. Member for Wallingford, who I well know ascribes the most ruinous effects to the operation of the present low, that the average prices of the three years, 1834, 1885, and 1836, were not more than 44s. 6d. the quarter, while the average price of one of those years, 1836, Was no more than 39s and some odd pence. What has been the effect of the new law? In the first place the duties were so adjusted by the new law as to lessen the inducement to the importer of foreign corn to withhold his corn from the market. In the second place, inasmuch as great and just complaints had been made of fraudulent operations connected with the corn trade, of fictitious operations with regard to the averages and the high price thereby engendered, a large number of towns were added to the previously existing list, for the purpose of rendering these operations, in the words of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, infinitely more difficult, or even altogether impracticable. As far as regards these towns and the effect of including them on the averages, I believe I may say that the success of my right hon. Friend, in the course of the last year has been complete. There are very few serious men with whom I bare conversed, who have not given it as their opinion that if the old law bad continued in operation the averages last autumn mast necessarily bare gone up to the point of the minimum duty, 73s. A variety of influences would have contributed to produce this result. Under the old law corn would not have been so soon released, and prices must have mounted higher in order to have enabled the importer to sell. Last year the release took place under the new law, when prices were 64s., at a duty which left a price of 56s. to the importer. Under the old law, at the price of 64s., the duty would have been 22s. 8d., so that the importer would have received less for his corn by 15s., and consequently could not have released his corn at that price, and must have waited for higher prices. Orders, I believe, were sent over to the Continent by parties on the speculation that my right hon. Friend's provisions would not prove effectual, to prevent working the averages, and that they would be raised to enable the speculators to introduce their corn at a nominal duty. The third influence was that exercised on the holder of free corn it the English market. Of course the holder of free corn wished to get the best price he could for his commodity, and in calculating the prospects of the market he must always take Into consideration the price of foreign corn. If the old law had continued in force he would have waited until he saw the price of corn rise to 73s.; under the new law he waited only till it had risen to 64s. Therefore, although the extent might be hypothetical, still, under the old law, the average prices which determine the duty must have gone up much more than under the new law- What would have been the effect on the foreign importer? It was clear that he would have been more stimulated by a price of 73s. than by a price of 64s. It was no paradoxical or extravagant inference, therefore, to assert that a greater quantity of corn would have found its way into this country; that more remote parts would have been swept for the purpose of procuring a supply, which would not have been introduced until the consumer had suffered from the delay. The ultimate consequence would have been that prices would have ranged both higher and lower; there would have been first a deficiency and afterwards a greater quantity thrown upon the market, therefore I am justified in assuming that the present law had an equalising tendency. It prevented the price from rising on the one hand, and, on the other hand, from reaching an unnatural point of depression. I admit that the fall in price has been very great, but I believe that the new law has tended to check the fall. The hon. Mover said, if not in words, in substance, "Give us free trade and steadiness of price, and to a certain extent this has been accomplished. But in order to test the position of the hon. Member we must look to what took place in other countries, and see whether prices were steadier there. I will not refer to the Continent, I will not go to the ports of the Baltic and Holland, because it has been truly stated, that those countries are more affected by the state of our markets than we ourselves: but I may fairly advert to America, because British demand does not affect the prices in that country; at all events, it will be conceded, that during the last fifteen or sixteen months there has been no considerable demand on our part from the American markets—nothing to enable the opponents of the Corn-laws to say, "See what fluctuations your system has occasioned." The last accounts from Baltimore and Philadelphia are dated the 29th of March, and they most distinctly establish, that the fluctuation in the price of flour has been greater than in England. Between the month of March, 1831, and 5th January, 1842 there was a fall in the two descriptions of flour called City-mills flour, and Howard - street flour, of from 30 to 34½ per cent., while in England during the same period, the fall was only 24 per cent. Great, then, as was the fluctuation in England, it was not so great as the fluctuation in America, where no Corn-law was operating—where there was no commercial restriction—where there was every facility given for importation and for exportation, and with regard to which the fluctuation could not be attributed to the measure introduced by his right hon. Friend. Unless facts of a contrary nature could be brought forward—facts of which I can assure the House I am not aware, and in the existence of which I do not believe, I repeat, that it is not fair to ascribe the fluctuations which have taken place in the price of English wheat to the present Corn-laws. I have now replied to most of the objections which have been brought against the Corn-laws, but there are some others to which, sensible as I am of the great length at which I have already addressed the House, I yet feel it my duty to refer. One charge which has most industriously been brought against the late law was the effect which it produced upon the corn trade itself. It was said, and said, I acknowledge, with some degree of justice, that the effect of the law was to depreciate the character of the trade—to introduce a speculative and a gambling spirit into its working, and thus prevent men of high respectability and of large capital, from engaging themselves, or embarking their property in it. Certainly there was considerable force in that objection against the late measure; but I contend that no man has a right to bring a similar charge, by anticipation, against the present law—a law which has not yet been fairly tried, and with regard to which our experience is so limited. That there were grievous disasters and great ruin in the corn trade last year, I am well aware, and I lament them; but those disasters I contend, were attributable to the particular circumstances of the year itself, to the erroneous anticipations which had been formed of the harvest, and the great contrast which existed between the anticipations and the reality. To these causes, and not to the law, are those disasters to be attributed. There was an anticipation of a deficient harvest. It was uncertain whether, in a few weeks, the country was to be richer or poorer by three or four millions of quarters of wheat in point of quantity, and six or seven millions of money in point of value? Such a doubt would necessarily lead to great speculation and that gambling spirit which seemed inherent in human nature, and which every varying contingency of human life, seemed to call into operation, was sure to be aroused by it, especially under the particular circumstances of last year, when men's hopes were stimulated from week to week—when anxiety and suspense were kept alive day after day—and when the decision of the question was only settled, when the corn actually came into the market. Indeed, it was only when the corn was actually in the market, that it was known or could be believed that the crop would turn out—or rather had turned out —an average harvest. This, to my mind, fully accounts for the speculation which existed. This put in motion all the capital which could be embarked in the corn trade, and gave to that trade a character of gambling, which, under ordinary circumstances, did not, to the same extent, belong to it. I repeat, that those disasters in the corn trade, many of which were occasioned by improvident speculations, were very much to be lamented, and I fear that it will take some time for the trade to recover its former stability; but admitting this, I say, that it is unfair to impute to the present Corn-law the effects which it certainly did not cause, and which were naturally attributable to other causes, We have heard much, also, of the losses of the shipowners, and it has been said, that the sudden demand for corn from the continental into the English ports is unfavourable to the British shipowner. It is contended that the order sent by the merchant here to his agent on the continent is generally so sudden and unexpected that no arrangements to execute it were previously made, that accordingly the first vessel was taken which was found in port, and that very frequently that vessel was a foreigner. This, as far as it went, was an objection to the old law, but I deny that it is an objection which fairly attaches to the present law. Last year, the foreign importations had been foreseen, deliberate arrangements might have been made for the employment of English vessels, and there was no reason why the British shipowner should not have enjoyed his full share of the business of transport. But there had been another and a still greater objection made, as respects the trade of the country. We have heard much of the exchange of goods, but surely this is not the year in which the manufacturing interest can complain, in comparison with former years, of the exchange with other countries. There has been a great demand for foreign articles here. Fresh facilities have been given to their introduction— articles have been brought in, which before had been altogether prohibited. This has not been the case in other countries. I stated last year, that articles to no less an amount than 20,000,000l. had been affected by the reduction of the Custom duties, but when so large an addition was made to our means of importing, and none had been made to our means of export, it was unfair to urge against such a legislative settlement, as that of the present Corn-law the inconvenience of finding imports which had been experienced in former years, and which had, perhaps, been caused by the former state of the law. As to the currency, we all knew the inconvenience which had been caused by the late measure in deranging the money market. But the hon. Member for Wolverhampton told us the other night, that "This derangement did not continue under the present law." This admission is certainly not one of very great value, for it is one which cannot be denied by any man. At the same time, so much cannot be said of the motion of the hon. Gentleman. If that motion were agreed to, consequences the most serious would necessarily result by its violent effects on the currency. There is now a great drain of gold to America. During this year, three millions sterling have been sent thither. The country has been able to bear that loss, but this drain is likely to continue. Half our exports have been cut off, partly by the derangement of the American currency, and partly by the tariff of the last Session: and this drain of gold would be increased by the measure of the hon. Gentleman. Its tendency would be to bring into the English markets foreign and particularly American corn, which must be paid for in bullion. The state of the custom laws of America and of other countries is so hostile to our trade, that we should be compelled to pay for the flour and corn in bullion. A great inconvenience would be felt by the reduction of prices from the increased supply of foreign corn, and the contraction of the currency, and those evils which had been charged against the late Corn-law, might fairly be charged against the proposed measure of the hon. Gentleman. There is only one other point, on which I shall feel it necessary to trouble the House. That point had been a favorite subject of declamation; and it certainly was an important one—the influence of the Corn-law upon the revenue of the country. It was said by the opponents of the measure, that it gave to the foreign exporters what ought to have forced its way into the British Treasury. That complaint, I do not think, can be made against the present law; during the last year, it brought in the sum of 1,378,000l. to the treasury, exceeding by 800,000l. or 900,000l. the amount received under the former Corn-law; but I am prepared to show that it was an amount larger than would have been received under the measure which was proposed by the noble Lord opposite and her Majesty's late Government. And it was to be recollected, that that change had been proposed for the purposes of revenue. [Viscount Howick: No, not exclusively.] Not exclusively. There were, doubtless, other considerations relied on, but the main ground upon which it rested was the fiscal benefit to be derived from it. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) proposed a duty of 8s. upon wheat, but the duty which has been actually received under the pre- sent law amounted to 8s. 5d. per quarter. The noble Lord likewise proposed a duty of 3s. 4d. upon oats, but now we have received a duty of 6s. upon the average. The duty upon barley, in the scheme of the noble Lord, was 5s.. The duty which had been obtained, had reached an average of 8s. l1d.. per quarter. So that, assuming that the same quantity would have been entered for consumption under the noble Lord's bill as under the existing laws—and I do not think the noble Lord will contend that last year a greater number of quarters would have been entered than under the law as it stands—if the noble Lord's proposal had been carried, there would have been 50,000l. less paid for wheat; barley would have produced 10,000l. less; and oats would have paid 32,500l. less; or, on the whole, 92,500l. less would have been paid than under the law of my right hon. Friend. There is only one other point to which I will refer, and to that very briefly. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wolverhampton, congratulated the House, that during the last debate upon this subject there had been an abandonment of the worn-out arguments which formerly were used by hon. Members on this side of the House. The hon. Member said, that it was now universally admitted, and that it had been expressly laid down by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, that "price could not be secured by law." The hon. Member boasted of this confession, and applied it—as he fairly was entitled to do—to the purposes of the argument for which he was then contending. But presently he wanted to show the farmers how ill they had been used by my right hon. Friend; he then forgot what he had said just before; he forgot what he had just quoted from the speech of my right hon. Friend—and not more than five minutes by the clock, after he had quoted my right hon. Friend's former expression, he Went on to say, that my right hon. Friend had promised to the farmer a price of from 54s. to 58s. per quarter. The two statements can not be reconciled. It is not for me to reconcile the discrepancy. It is a mater entirely between the hon. Gentleman and himself. [Mr. Villiers expressed dissent. The hon. Gentleman seemed to deny the statement, but I am quite confident in my own recollection of what the hon. Gentleman said. [Mr. Villiers: I quoted Han- sard.] At any rate, the hon. Gentleman could not quote both these statements from Hansard,—nor would he call into question the accuracy of the reports which every one admitted to be so ably done in that publication. It is, however, for the hon. Gentleman, and not for me, to reconcile the contradiction. I know well enough, in fact, that my right hon. Friend gave no such thing as a promise of a certain price. Indeed, there can be no such thing as an Act of Parliament price. If ever a promise of a certain price was given, it was in 1815; but under the law that was then passed the price fell to 42s. or 43s., and if a promise had then been given, the farmer would not have been again taken in by any promise of a definite price by an Act of Parliament, or given by the mouth of the minister. But it was not only in 1815, the farmer had had a second trial in 1828, and if a price was then promised to him, and he was again deceived, could the House believe that he would be imposed upon a third time, or that a Minister would again attempt to promise him a price. There was no such thing in the measure of last year, or in the speeches by which that measure was introduced, or accompanied as the promise of a price of any amount whatever. What I understood as the only promise which the law made was, that when prices were low protection should be increased, but I can safely assert, that there was no reference even to a pledge of securing any particular price. Singular as it might seem, if the hon. Gentleman would refer to the debates in 1815, he would find, that the Corn law of that day was recommended as a means of procuring cheapness and lowering prices. This was a singular historical fact, and I mention it in answer to the remark that a price was then promised to the farmer. In the speech of my noble Friend, Lord Ripon, in this House, and in the speech of Lord Liverpool in the House of Lords, it was put forth that the true way to have cheap corn was to give protection to the domestic produce of the country; and, though hon. Members opposite may think such an opinion antiquated, and though for my own part I cannot place much reliance upon such a system, yet I refer to it as an historical fact which clearly proves that, by the Corn bill of that day, no promise of a minimum price was given to the farmer. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may ridicule such apian as antiquated and absurd, but I must remind them that it is an argument very popular in America at the present moment; and the Americans are a shrewd people. Though we may think ourselves much wiser on some points, yet it must be admitted that the Americans are a people of great sagacity, and they urged that the way to foster the-productions of a country was to give all the protection possible to domestic industry. In conclusion, Sir, I thank the House for the great attention with which they have listened to me. I have endeavoured to show, that the motion of the hon. Gentleman is one which it is impossible to entertain, or to hold out the hope that we shall entertain it hereafter. Having replied to the motion of the hon. Gentleman, I have endeavoured to make it clear, that the law of my right hon. Friend — upon which, no doubt, during the course of the debate, comments will be freely made—has quite fulfilled the expectations which, in discussing it, he held out. If such be the case, it would, indeed, be an extraordinary and unfortunate proceeding if, without evidence, without any experience adequate to the importance of the question, and in the very teeth of that evidence which our limited experience does afford us, we consented to alter the law to which last Session we solemnly consented. If we agree to the motion of the hon. Gentleman, we shall be guilty of a great injustice to a large portion of the community in the first place, and hereafter to the whole community, as a necessary consequence of our injustice to a part; and beyond that injustice we shall convict ourselves of the grossest imbecility, and in the face of the world declare ourselves unworthy and incompetent to conduct the affairs of a great and mighty nation.

Mr. Trelawney

said, that in delivering a few remarks on the question before the House—a question of the greatest magnitude, and more deeply interesting than any other (at the present time) to every class in the community—it was his desire to evince as little as possible of the spirit of a partisan; for he thought that every one who desired the establishment of some private right, and still more the success of a measure on which he considered the ultimate good of the state depended, ought especially to beware lest the interests of his cause were compromised by any indiscretion in the conduct of its advocate. He should first observe, that whilst he was a decided advocate for a repeal of the Corn-laws, he was not one of those who believed that such a measure would be a complete panacea for all the distress which was admitted to exist so generally in this country at the present time. Even with an unrestricted trade, we should still have to cope with all the evils resulting from the compression of population within narrow districts. Squallidity, pauperism, ignorance, and vice would still abound, unless more measures besides Corn-law repeal were devised by Government to amend the condition of the people. Of such measures he might mention a large measure of unsectarian education, a reduction of the expenses of Government, and a sweeping reform of that House, but it was not a part of his province to notice these more particularly at the present moment. He left them for the present for the consideration of the Government. Again be would assure the House that he was very far from holding out the language of intimidation; as such he should be very slow to utter predictions with a sinister view to their actual accomplishment, though he confessed he should not be deterred, by fear of this imputation, from deliberately pointing out the consequences which he believed must ensue if this law were pertinaciously maintained. He did not believe that the existence of the Corn-law for another five years would occasion rebellion. That it would occasion great distress, he had no doubt, but not such a distress as would be found too great a trial for the philosophy of the wealth-creating classes of this country. Whether or not that philosophy, and the endurance, and self-denial, it had inculcated, did not entitle the poor to more consideration on the part of Parliament, than they now obtained, might still be matter of serious meditation, and for this purpose he left it to her Majesty's Ministers. Further it was not his purpose to impute sinister motives to the landed interest. He did not accuse them of an indisposition to arrive at sound conclusions on this subject, but be rather lamented that, although possessed of good intentions, the bias of their habits, and the defects of their early education, had deprived them of the power of discerning their own true interests, and those of the country at large. He would, however, venture to suggest that if they meant to give way, the merit of concession would be in proportion to its promptness. When daily converts were made to the doctrines of free trade each new conversion was a rebuke to the tardiness of the unconvinced, besides the incalculable injury done to the resources of the country by a delay in the settlement of this question. So sensible were the farmers of this that many of them would readily accept an 8s. fixed duty as a compromise, were they certain that such a settlement could be placed on a permanent basis. In treating the subject before the House he should feel some apology due for reiterating the same arguments, exposing the same fallacies, and endeavouring to establish the same conclusions; but that he also could not help feeling that, so long as a particular abuse exists, its supporters—not its opponents— were responsible for the weariness created by the task of exposing it. After all, the question had made considerable progress. Time was when much stress was laid on the duties of legislators so to economise native produce as to prevent all chance of dependence on foreign countries for supply. They heard little more of this now. We most complacently import some three millions of quarters a year. Again, it was said low prices insured low wages. This fallacy was now rarely resorted to. When bread was dear and must be earned, it was probable that more persons would work, and for longer times, and generally more labour would be done out of what there was to do than when it was cheap, and could be easily obtained. But when more labourers worked, and more work was done, the price of labour fell; first, because what there was to do was sooner done; and, secondly, because the hands to do it were more numerous and work harder. Besides, what the labourers wanted was, not so much cheap bread as more employment; and this was the main advantage to be expected from a repeal of the Corn-law. It was said, " How can the landed interest bear their alleged peculiar burthens, without a law enhancing prices?" First, are there such burthens? secondly, if there be, would not the continuance of the Corn-law, by undermining the re. sources of the country, tend to impair their best market? namely, their own country and the demand of its native population. It was said, the existence of the Corn-law was essential to the employment of the working classes. This he denied. The effect of a repeal certainly might be to lower rents at first, but, unless it actually extinguished rent, no land would go out of cultivation, and, therefore, no fewer agricultural labourers would be employed. And, even, if some land were thrown out of cultivation, it must be considered that there would be increased calls for men in the manufacturing districts—gradually consuming that labour which might remain unengaged in agricultural districts. In considering this question, he assumed that the declared intent of the Corn-law, was not to enrich a class—but to employ and feed the multitude. Being indisposed to accuse landlords of maintaining the corn-law for the sole object of keeping up rents, he must conclude that their object was the higher one of securing food and occupation to the masses; an object which the law was demonstrably incapable of attaining. If the corn-law remained, the wealth and numbers of this country must rapidly decline. Hence rent would ultimately fall. The home market for corn would become less and less remunerative. The interest of the debt (and our revenue depended largely on duties on consumption) would be no longer attainable; a run for capital will ensue; and the complete ruin of the state must of necessity follow in its train. This was a question which demanded large, liberal, and far-sighted views. It was one of those questions in which the apparent preponderance of our immediate interests blinded us with respect to the real preponderance of our ultimate interests. If he were asked what class receive most detriment from the Corn-laws, he should say those who had been most misled on the subject—the farmers. They were interested, not in maintaining, but in repealing a law which defied calculation, and deprived them of all certainty or approach to it, as to the rent they could afford to give. It was this uncertainty which occasioned the dependence of their situation! They offered larger rents than they could afford to pay, feeling their way in the dark; and when they could not pay it, they were at the mercy of their landlords. The fluctuations in other countries were probably owing in part to the operation of our varying scale. If it was expected in a particular country and at a particular time, that we should afford a market for a certain amount of corn, and then it proved that we did not, the unexpected redundance in the disappointed country necessarily depressed the price. On the whole, the Corn-law tended to impair the wealth of the country, to drive capital into foreign speculations, and limit its productiveness at home. In so far as it so operated, it was calculated to injure all who possessed immoveable property. When moveable property leaves the country and certain fixed charges upon all property remain, the fixed property roust bear them. But our fixed property would not bear the debt—and of our fixed property land was the most considerable. As wealth and population declined, rent would gradually collapse, and it was difficult to see how, in that case, national bankruptcy was to be averted. The distress of the people—the failures in the Excise and Customs—the unhealthy rise in the funds—all these amply proved our present declining state. The Corn-law said to the labourer—" For a certain definite quantum of that which is a prime article of human subsistence you shall give an amount of labour over and above that which you would have to give for the same quantum of the same article were you a resident of a country situate some twenty miles from your own, to a particular class at home who have such a preponderance in the councils of government as to enable them to make their will law" —that will being blindly determined to involve in the ruin of the preponderant class the ruin of every other class in the community. By degrees the labourer begins to understand this state of the case. How did he reason upon it? He said, "Is it better for me to endure this, or bear away my skill and strength—my only capital—to the nearest country in which equal laws exist?" He went. But how did this affect the capitalist? The capitalist said to himself, " I live in a country in which, besides the dearness of provisions, I cannot employ my capital advantageously, because foreign commerce is becoming daily more and more restricted. Every day that the Corn-law is unrepealed, the independence of this country on the part of foreigners increases." And what course did he take? He left his country, like the labourer. But how did all this affect land? First, the owner of land cannot so easily realize its value and fly to distant countries. Therefore on his devoted head must fall all the burthens of the country and all the ruinous consequences of this law. And now a few re- marks upon the logical position of her Majesty's Ministers in reference to this question. Their language on the subject of free-trade was as broad and decided as it is possible to the mind of man to conceive. They seemed to think the emphasis with which they announce these principles a compensation for the niggardliness with which they applied them. " The language of free-trade," they said, " is the language of common sense, but the whole circumstances of the country prevent their application at the present moment." But were they not bound to enumerate seriatim what these special circumstances were? Ought they not to point out what it was which rendered that course impolitic in our case which, as a general rule, conduced to [the grandeur and wealth of nations, and the knitting together of the various interests of human kind? Their grounds for refusing free-trade were all general. So long as they are thus vague and undetailed, it was obvious they could not be met. They evaded the issue. What was this but to beg the whole question of the consequences to the country of a repeal of the Corn-laws? Why did not Government specify their grounds of a refusal to defer to the wishes of the people? But this course Government and its supporters declined to take; and he must confess their indisposition to simplify the issue, did strike him as rather suspicious, and could not but induce the opinion that it was not that they were unconvinced of the ruinous effects of this bill, but that they are more convinced of the power of the landed interest, whom they dared not offend. These are all the remarks he thought it necessary to offer on the present occasion; but, in conclusion, he could not help expressing an anxious hope that her Majesty's Ministers would take courage and break the ties by which they were bound to the landed interest, and adopt such measures as would entitle then to the warm and cordial support of the Liberal side of the House. There is quite enough for them to do to furnish materials for a lasting reputation, such as was only attainable by the real benefactors of the country which gave them birth.

Mr. Christopher

would briefly state the reasons which induced him to oppose this motion. He did not complain of a great part of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wolverhampton, or of the tone and temper with which he addressed the House; he only hoped that the moderation of the hon. Gentleman in this respect would be emulated by the Anti-Corn-law League out of doors, and that in their appeals at Drury-lane, or elsewhere, they would address themselves more to the reason and understanding, and less to the prejudices and passions of the people. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had taken a fair and consistent course; still it was the first time he had asked the House to vote directly for a total repeal of the Corn-laws, and fairly called upon the House to affirm that principle: it was now for the House of Commons to say—it was for the same House of Commons that last Session, whilst it had revised the operation of the Corn-laws, enacting a considerably diminished amount of protection to agriculture, but, at the same time, affirming the principle of protection—it was for that House of Commons now to say, whether they would turn round upon the proposition they last year affirmed, and support the motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite. It was a motion which must meet with the opposition, as well of her Majesty's Government, as of the noble Lord, the leader of the opposition in that House, who was in favour of a fixed duty. But, to take the motion on its merits: were provisions so high in this country, or were the restrictions on the importation of foreign corn so great as to induce the House to come to the decision which was now asked for by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton? Since the Corn-law of last year had passed, there had been imported 2,620,000 quarters of foreign wheat, 524,000 cwt. of flour, and 38,890 quarters of foreign wheat, making together 2,654,000 quarters of wheat, besides flour; and there had also been imported 1,851,000 quarters of barley—a greater importation than had ever before taken place. The effect of that on the prospects of the farmer and on price was, that the latter were extremely low and the former filled with despair. In the quarter ending April, 1843, the average price of wheat all over England was 47s. a quarter, and in many of the agricultural districts at that moment very good wheat was to be had at 40s. the quarter. The farmer, therefore, was not well off. As to the wages of the labourer, a few facts were worth a thousand observations. If they compared the state of the agricultural labourers this year with last, they would find it much deteriorated. He spoke from an accurate knowledge of the facts. In the county which he represented, the wages of labourers, which were from 13s. 6d. to 15s. a week, had been reduced to 9s. or 10s. 6d. a week, and persons visiting that county, instead of finding young and old, able-bodied and infirm, in full employ, would discover the workhouses crowded with able-bodied paupers. The board of guardians, which he was in the habit of attending, had made a return to the Poor-law commissioners two years ago, showing that for a period of nearly six months there was not one married couple in the workhouse, whilst in the course of the last winter the workhouse was so filled with able-bodied paupers, that the board of guardians were obliged to hire additional accommodation. The object of those who sought the repeal of the Corn-laws was to cheapen the cost of production here, so as to enable the manufacturers of this country to compete with the manufacturers of other countries in their own markets, but the events of the past year must have sufficiently proved to hon. Gentlemen that they were mistaken in their supposition, for unless we obtained from foreign powers a perfect system of reciprocity, it would be perfectly impossible for the hon. Member for Wolverhampton or any other Gentleman opposite, with all their ingenuity, to prove that the condition of the manufacturing artizan would be materially improved by the alteration of the Corn-laws. An illustration was often drawn from the counties of England, and it was said, " What a great fallacy it would be for one county in England to impose a duty on the goods coming from another county." He was ready to join issue upon that point. Suppose that between Lincolnshire and the west riding of Yorkshire there was a perfectly free trade, and that Lincolnshire freely supplied Yorkshire with corn, whilst Yorkshire as freely sent her woollen goods to Lincolnshire, here was a perfect system of reciprocity and of free trade; but suppose that while Lincolnshire supplied Yorkshire with the surplus of her agricultural produce duty free, she was to lay a protecting duty upon the woollen goods coming from Yorkshire, would not such a duty be injurious to Yorkshire? This was an analogous case to the case of other countries, which laid a duty on the import of our goods. If we repealed the Corn-laws, therefore, we should not only render this country dependent upon foreign nations for food, but we should also be precluded from calling upon foreign countries to give greater facilities, and to open their markets more freely to our goods. Indeed, he did not entirely despair of seeing the time when the leading statesmen in that House and the country would find it necessary to revise our commercial tariff, and trust more to our native industry than to foreign markets for the consumption of our manufactures. Mr. Huskisson had been referred to as an authority for free trade, but he only advocated its adoption in order to induce other nations to follow our example. In his memorable speech on introducing the Reciprocity Bill, he declared that he was led to do so from the assurances of foreign countries that they would follow our example. All that the Crown could do in such a case, would be to continue a restriction where another power declined to act upon a system of reciprocity, or to impose a duty upon vessels belonging to another power, in retaliation for a similar duty imposed by that power. He knew that it was intended by the king of Prussia to abate his retaliation when England relaxed her regulations. Indeed, he had the best authority, that of the Prussian minister in this country, for knowing that such was the intention. That minister had stated, in his note, the principle of his Prussian majesty to be, an admission, that reciprocal commercial restrictions were reciprocal nuisances, prejudicial to all nations having reciprocal interests, and particularly to those engaged in extensive commerce; and that the policy of Prussia was, to substitute, in the place of reciprocal prohibitions, reciprocal facilities. He would not ask the House whether those expectations had been realized They had not. Mr. Huskisson himself had his misgivings, and in 1828, only five years afterwards, he found that the United States of America so far from following that example, had adopted a very different policy. Towards the end of his speech on moving for a copy of the American tariff Mr. Huskisson used this remarkable expression:— With respect to the present tariff, he would say to Ministers, do not be hasty to deter, mine: look at the various bearings of the question, with a view to your interests, your character, and your trade. But if, after such deliberation, they were forced to adopt a *Hansard, vol. ix. new series, p. 798. course of retaliation, all he would enjoin them, was, that when once they had adopted the course, they should adhere to it with firmness. He would say, proceed with circumspection, but remember, there are limits to forbearance itself; because, as new interests grow up, the difficulties iucreased in the way of altering the system: so that they were bound in common policy to take care that the time should not be too long contracted, nor the difficulties allowed to grow too great, before they proceeded to legislate in the spirit which might be rendered necessary. In 1841 Russia had imposed increased prohibitve duties; and the German League in spite of what had been said by the King of Prussia in 1823, had imposed prohibitive duties, amounting to 50 per cent., on many of our articles of manufacture. How, then, under these circumstances, were we to expect anything like reciprocity of free-trade, and at once to repeal the Corn-laws, and trust to foreign nations taking our manufactured goods in exchange for their corn? Unless we could obtain a free admission for our goods unto them, such a course would be madness. It was said the Corn-laws were upheld for the purpose of giving high rents to the landlords; but the fact was, that it was not from grain that landlords or farmers derived profit at all, but from the stock of cattle they were obliged to keep to manure the soil, that grew the corn, and if this soil was once thrown out of cultivation, then, indeed, we would be at the mercy of foreign nations. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had said that there was a growing disposition, throughout the country, amongst the farmers themselves, to adopt the opinion that the Corn-laws ought to be repealed; but he denied that such was really the case. He could name a gentleman of great talent, to whom he was once opposed at an election, on the very ground of the Corn-laws, that gentleman being then a strong advocate for repeal—he meant Colonel Torrens—but what was now the opinion of Colonel Torrens, as expressed in some letters which he had recently published, addressed to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. That gentleman was now convinced, and stated in those pamphlets, that the effect of such a measure would be ruinous to the agricultural interest of the country, and be productive of no good effect to the manufacturers; that it would limit labour and reduce the rate of wages; and, further, that the necessities of the country did not require so extensive an alteration in the Corn-laws, because in years of average produce the produce of the United Kingdom was sufficient for home consumption. In fact it would be most unwise, it would be madness to come to such a decision as that recommended by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. If any advantage could possibly result from it, it could be only a temporary stimulus to our foreign commerce, while it would almost annihilate our home trade. Whether this question were regarded in a political or commercial light, he was convinced that it would be most impolitic and unsafe to consent to any further alterations in the existing laws. He did not wish to trespass upon the indulgence of the House; in truth, he felt that it was a very difficult thing to find any new argument to advance upon a subject which had been already so frequently and so fully discussed. Considering, therefore, that the Corn-laws had undergone a complete revision so lately as last year, that the amount of protection to agriculture had been much diminished, that upon many articles of foreign produce there was little or no prohibitory duty, and that the practical effect of the changes made in the tariff and the Corn-laws last year had been to cause a larger importation of foreign corn and provisions than had been known in any corresponding length of time, and regarding the present low rate of prices, he was compelled to come to the conclusion that no further alterations ought now to be made; and he must, therefore, resist the motion of the hon. Member as far as lay in his power.

Mr. Roebuck:

at that late hour of the night did not mean to address the House at any length; and what he had to say, he feared would be agreeable neither to one side nor the other. Though he meant to vote with that party which declared for free-trade, still what he had to address to them would please neither party; and he was sorry to see that any party matter should be introduced into such a topic; for he could not divest himself of the feeling, that where there was much of party there was also much of error. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had unintentionally let out the views of his party on this subject; and in so saying he did not attribute to him the views he meant to ascribe to him, in any spirit of hostility; but it was to him clear, that the opinions which the hon. Member had expressed were influenced strongly by a feeling of that which he considered his own pecuniary interest. When he said this, it was not to be understood that he affirmed that those who attacked the Corn-laws were divested of the same feeling. If they were in the same position in which the country was placed in 1815, then what they ought to do was, to suppose themselves in the situation in which men were when the Corn-law was proposed—to see what was the principle on which it had been introduced and carried in both Houses. The landed interests at that time found themselves exposed to a series of influences to which they had not before been subjected. Looking forward, then, to their interests, they sought to maintain high rents, and they endeavoured to do this through the medium of high prices. The high prices they conceived could only be obtained by the exclusion of foreign corn. They, then, in pursuit of their interests, and having the power, established a monopoly in corn. That, then, was the interest of the land at that time. If they who were now discussing this subject could place themselves again back at that time, the argument of those opposed to monopoly—the argument of those in favour of free-trade would be, that the country was then free—that no vested interests had been formed—that there had been no application of capital in the furtherance of that monopoly, and therefore that the onus lay on their opponents to show what was the benefit to be derived to the community in favour of that change they were about to make. Now, what was the argument of the right hon. the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, and it was the only argument put forward in defence of monopoly? The argument of the right hon. Gentleman was this, that if they introduced foreign corn, if they brought it, as he said, in large quantities from America, they would lower the price of corn here, they would throw lands out of cultivation, and the effect would be to diminish the employment for labour. In 1815, such an argument as that would not have been used. The only argument then was, that it was to maintain high rents through the medium of high prices, or, to use the expression of the hon. Member for Kent, to maintain the landed aristocracy in their social position. They had yielded to the unwise suggestion, and now they passed from 1815 to 1843, and now it was stated that they ought not to alter the existing system, because interests had been created under it. It was said land would be thrown out of use, and persons out of employment, if they lowered rents—that poor soils would pay no rent; but it was not high prices they ought to look to, but profits; and they might have profit from a poor soil. Let them suppose they had a free-trade in corn—that would give a great demand for more manufactures. The corn would not be paid for, but by manufactures—if not directly, at least indirectly. It was a fallacy to say they must find gold for it, or that the gold would be sent out of the country. It would only be paid for by their labour. It was their manufactures that created the demand for labour, that labour, must be maintained, and a great increase in the demand for labour would supply the pecuniary loss to be expected from the importation of corn. The land in England had increased in value in proportion as their manufactures increased, and the decrease in their manufactures must be followed by a decrease in the value of land. He was not now throwing out this statement, as if he believed that, a repeal of the Corn-law would be a panacea for all the evils under which the country was suffering. He did not believe, that a tithe of the evils existing arose from the Corn-law, but he did maintain that upon them rested a very serious responsibility; that at a time when distress held her cankering finger over all, when the life blood of the community was ebbing out, there was a deep responsibility upon them, who in the face of all this refused to make some experiment, who refused to make some sacrifice, in the attempt to ameliorate this misery. His hon. Friend did not say, that monopoly caused all the misery, but that a relaxtion of it would be some relief. Did they allow it would be a relief? Could they deny that it would afford a chance of relief, and on that chance he asked them whether they would refuse an inquiry, as to whether they ought to take off the monopoly? The great cry on the part of the landed interest now was, that the Members of the Government promised protection, and disregarded their promise. What did this teach the labouring man? To consider their professions of care for his welfare as frail and worthless as the protestations of the Ministers and many of their supporters were now looked upon by the agricultural body. The right hon. the President of the Board of Trade marshalled a formidable array of figures, and gave way to an official proneness to handle details; but the sole argument of his speech amounted to this, " if you repeal this law, we shall be ruined by the quantity of corn received from America." He was extremely sceptical as to this importation from America. But if a 1,000,000 of quarters (we have heard of a 1,000,000 before) was, according to the right hon. Gentleman's statement, to come down the Mississippi, was there no apprehension of receiving any by the way of the St. Lawrence? As to the expectation of a 4s. duty, it could never be collected, and we should be overwhelmed by one route as well as the other with corn which cost only 22s. a quarter. He should not then discuss the Canada Corn Bill. He should be prepared to prove that nothing so immoral was ever proposed by a government; it being, in fact, a government scheme for the encouragement of smuggling. But said the right hon. Gentleman, "you cannot rudely touch this system—the case of the landlord is like the case of the sinecurist." He was perfectly amazed to hear so cautious a person make such an admission. What! did the landlord, then, profit by a monopoly in corn, and give nothing in return to the country? They certainly did not treat the sinecurist as they were about to treat the landlord. To the former they gave compensation when they deprived him of his office. Would the right hon. Gentleman at once state, what he considered a fair compensation to the landholder for the monopoly which he enjoyed? If the right hon. Gentleman would do this, he was sure it would be a most economical arrangement for the country to pay down at once the sum fixed upon. But those gentlemen who supported this view declared, "we are not sinecurists, but benefactors to our country as employers of its labour." But did any man believe that a thousandth part of the agricultural labour of the country would cease if that law were abolished? He defied the calculations of any sane man (he did not mean such calculations as those on which the budget was formed) to show that a single labourer would be thrown out of employ- ment. But it was not for him to prove that such would be a case. We had enormous misery around us, and on the opponents of the repeal of the Corn-laws lay the onus of proving that cheap bread would not be an advantage. If we had 10,000 quarters instead of 8,000 quarters of corn to divide amongst the millions, each man must get an additional supply. He did not believe that a labourer the less would be employed, or an acre be thrown out of cultivation, if we had free-trade in every trade—in everything. And if we had a repeal of the Corn-laws, every other monopoly must share the same fate. Let the manufacturing party understand that. They could not break down the monopoly of the landed interest, without that powerful body breaking down theirs. He remembered about ten years ago hearing the right hon. Gentleman, now at the head of the Government give in defence of the Corn-laws a sort of paraphrase of a speech made by a noble and learned Lord who, having traced taxation through all its devious paths, ended by saying, that the thing pursued us from the cradle to the grave. Now, the Corn-law League must take the argument of protection to manufactures out of the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman. Let not the League misunderstand the question. They could never get the people to support them, unless they called for free-trade in everything. And when I mention the League (continued the hon. and learned Gentleman), let me say a word as to the tone and temper in which we should endeavour to disseminate truth. The truth is best disseminated by calmness and forbearance—-by no imputation of motives —and by acting on the belief that those who differ from you are actuated by motives as honest as those which influence your own conduct. [" Hear, hear."] I hear my friends cry " hear," but let any man differ from them but a hair breadth, and he runs a chance of being immediately consigned to perdition, and (if personal molestation were not unknown in our days) of sacrificing his life in the maintenance of his opinions. On the other hand, I see papers in the agricultural interest, charge hon. Members of this House with perambulating the country, and imitating in their conduct Robespierre, Marat, and Danton. Now, I hope no man in this House can be fairly said to be an imitator of Robespierre, and though om of es us may be foolish enough, I do trust that there is not a Marat amongst us. I do not now wish to use any flattering language in respect to the landed interest; but. I am sure I speak the language of the community, when I say they are actuated by a high and generous feeling for the public interest; and though they may be misled as to what is for their own interest, I do not think it is the part of a generous friend to represent them as the fiends they have been described. They are no more fiends than we are. We all pursue our own interest, and think the course which tallies with it most advantageous to the community. The best way to prove that we are sincere in promoting the public benefit is to be actuated by a calm, generous, and forbearing spirit, and not to cast imputations on motives when endeavouring to disseminate truths. I shall support the motion as a step towards free-trade, and as thus setting an example which must be beneficial to all mankind.

Debate adjourned.

House adjourned at half-past twelve o'clock.