HC Deb 12 May 1843 vol 69 cc247-9

On the order of the day being called for resuming the adjourned debate on the Corn-laws.

Mr. Blackstone

rose for the purpose of referring to a statement made to the House last evening by one of the hon. Members for the county of Berks. That hon. Member, in alluding to some observations which had fallen from him, had said,

The hon. Member for Wallingford had said that the farmers felt that they had been deserted by those to whom they had naturally been accustomed to look up whenever any measure was in progress calculated to injure their interests— namely, the resident nobility and gentry of the country, from whom they now met, in their hour of destitution, not only with no support, but with every kind of hostility. He considered the assertion of the hon. Member for Wallingford was a libel upon the nobility and gentry of the country. He wished to take the earliest opportunity of stating that the hon. Member must have misunderstood the purport of his observation. He certainly had made use of the word "hostility," but not in the signification attached to it by the hon. Member. He said upon that occasion that a requisition had been signed by 900 of the yeomanry of the county of Berks, and that few, if any, of the resident gentry of the county had affixed their signatures to that requisition; and that they had not co-operated with the requisitionists. He had not said that all the resident gentry had exhibited a feeling of hostility towards the farmers. The indisposition manifested by the nobility and gentry to co-operate with the farmers in the maintenance of their interests had induced the farmers to think that they had been deserted. He (Mr. Blackstone) had not stated that as his own opinion, but as the opinion of the farmers in that part of the country. He trusted that the hon. Member would attend the county meetings which were shortly to take place. Before he sat down he would refer to an observation which had fallen last evening from the right hon. Baronet the Paymaster of the Forces. The right hon. Baronet had charged him with having changed his opinion on the Corn-laws. He most emphatically denied that his opinion had undergone any alteration. It was his intention to vote against the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, should the question come to a division.

Mr. R. Palmer

expressed his regret that he should have misunderstood what had fallen from the hon. Member for Wallingford. He was glad that he had afforded the hon. Member an opportunity of entering into an explanation. He could assure the hon. Member that his observations had caused great pain to many of his own friends and acquaintances.