HC Deb 15 May 1843 vol 69 cc333-407

The Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on the Corn-laws having been read,

Mr. W. 0. Stanley

said, it would be necessary for him, in the first place, to say a few words with regard to the part he took on Saturday morning. He was sorry that a large portion of the House differed from him with regard to the propriety of adjourning the debate till this day, as several Members had not an opportunity of expressing their opinions and feelings on a question of such great and mighty importance as the Corn-laws. He felt the question had not, during the four nights it was before the House, been fully debated, and he was surprised that so few of those connected with the great agricultural interests of Great Britain had expressed their opinions upon it. He was himself one of those who thought that agriculture was entitled to protection, and that peculiar burthens were imposed upon the land, but he thought that a fixed duty was preferable to a sliding-scale. It was evident that Gentlemen on the other side were not convinced that the right hon. Baronet did not contemplate a further change in the Corn-laws, should expediency require it. They looked upon the proceedings of the right hon. Baronet with suspicion. With respect to the Corn-laws themselves, he was bound to say, that representing an agricultural county, the prosperity of which depended upon agricultural produce, he believed that the present low prices—which were lower than at any other period since the year 1822—were owing not merely to the Corn-laws, but to the distressed condition of the operatives, who were not able to purchase food, from the restrictions which shackled the commerce of the country. So long as the Corn-laws were allowed to remain in their present state, there could be little hope of the revival of trade. He feared that as long as the sliding-scale continued in operation they would be obliged to purchase whatever food they might require from abroad by exporting bullion instead of paying for it in manufactures. He was not in the habit of trespassing upon the House, but he felt it important to explain his sentiments on this important question, because, although he felt obliged to vote against the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he was by no means satisfied with the present system. He likewise felt, that at the present moment it was most important to put a stop to the agitation existing on this subject. When they saw the threatening attitude which Ireland had assumed, it was more than ever necessary that the Government should possess the confidence of the people of this country. He wished to make one observation on the subject of his having moved the adjournment of the debate on Friday. It had been supposed by a great many that on that occasion he had been acting in conjunction with other hon. Members. He could assure the House, that such had not been the case. He had moved the adjournment because he thought that a sufficient opportunity had not been afforded to Members, more particularly to those connected with the agricultural districts, of expressing their opinions on the subject. He thought, that a full opportunity ought to be afforded to every hon. Member of expressing his opinion.

Dr. Bowring

said, he could not but think that the friends of free-trade had great reason for congratulating themselves on the progress of that debate. When the right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, was put forward as the representative of the Government, and to give a character to the discussion, he (Dr. Bowring) certainly did expect from the right hon. Gentleman — from his great intelligence, and from his high position—the House would have been enabled to discern the course meant to be taken with respect to this question. But the views of the Government, however clear in principle, were clouded in practice. What they had a right to calculate on from the right hon. Gentleman, was the production of some reason why one—the most important of all important articles—was to be excluded from the application of that great principle which the House had often heard from the lips of the right hon. Baronet opposite—the principle that individuals as well as nations had a right to buy in the cheapest markets, and to sell in the dearest. It did appear to him perfectly clear, that with regard to the article of corn, which was the subsistence of the multitude, that this, if anything, was above all entitled to the application of that principle which the right hon. Baronet himself had not unfrequently recognised. He had heard with great pleasure the honest and manly observations of the hon. Member for Argyleshire, when he stated that the principle of free-trade was essentially a sound and right principle. The hon. Member for Sussex said, Do not carry out the principle of free-trade, for you do not know the consequences it may lead to. Admit corn, he said, and no one knew what other things would not follow. Why, what could follow but a greater trade in other articles as well as a greater trade in corn? And be it understood that the freetraders were for supporting no exceptions, —for recognising no monopolies. They were willing to be measured by the measures they meted to others, and desired to ask nothing they were not ready to grant. The right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, in the appeal he made on Saturday morning to the House, took other ground. He was alarmed at disturbing the colonial and fiscal interests of this country. But those interests—and all interests ought to be made subservient to the greater interests of truth and justice. And in the long run, it would be found that the Treasury and the colonies would benefit from the general extension of trade. He had heard, again and again, from the other side, that there were countries in which the price of wheat was exceedingly low. There could be no doubt that such was the fact—and if the fact, an enormous wrong was done to the English consumer, by preventing his access to those markets. Many of them were, however, remote and inaccessible, and that which concerned the people of this country was, to inquire the price of corn in those places where there was a ready transit. If the ports of this country were thrown open to all the productions of the world, no one could doubt that it would lead to the best results. There was no other means of relieving the distress of the country than that which, from his strength and his honesty, the right hon. Baronet might be expected to adopt after the principles which he had put forward. There were only two doctrines which were maintainable, and the right hon. Baronet could not continue long vibrating between them. He must either contend that a measure should be passed to give monopoly prices to producers, or he must stand by the consumers, emancipate labour and capital, and give to the country all to which it was entitled. The right hon. Baronet had gone too far to recede. He had proclaimed truths which had enlightened every mind in the country, and he could not resist, nor ought he to resist, the pressure from without. He believed, that if at that moment an appeal was made to public opinion out of doors, the right hon. Baronet's majority would escape him. The longer the settlement of this question was delayed, the more likely was it to mingle itself with others, aye, and with questions even more alarming than this to the aristocratic section of the community. Had the attention of the right hon. Baronet been called to a very remarkable passage of a very remarkable writer, whose tendency was doubtless towards Conservatism? Mr. Carlyle said— If I were the Conservative party of England, I would not for 100,000l. an hour allow those Corn-laws to continue. Potosi and Golconda put together would not purchase my assent to them. Do you count what treasuries of bitter indignation they are laying up for you in every just English heart? Do you know what questions, not as to corn prices and sliding-scales alone, they are forcing every reflective Englishman to ask himself? Questions insoluble, or hitherto unsolved; deeper than any of our logic plummets hitherto will sound; questions deep enough—which it were better that we did not name even in thought! You are forcing us to think of them, to begin uttering them. The utterance of them is begun; and where will it be ended, think you? When two millions of one's brother-men sit in workhouses, and five millions, as is insolently said, ' rejoice in potatoes,' there are various things that must be begun, let them end where they can. Now he was convinced that there were real grounds for alarm. There was mingled with the demand for commercial freedom an almost universal political discontent; and many of those who really had hoped that the Parliament, as at present constituted, would lend a willing ear to the plaints of the people, were beginning to despond, and to believe that nothing but a change in the institutions of the country, would put an end to those monstrous evils. He could not explain how such commercial influence and political power as this country unquestionably possessed should consent to give such bad examples to the rest of the world. Why, lately, by our especial influence, we had caused a treaty to be adopted at Constantinople, by which the duty on exports was fixed at twelve per cent., and upon imports at five. He thought, therefore, that the tariff of Turkey was even better than ours, because, instead of encouraging imports, we repelled them from all parts of the world—as if it were not as notorious as the sun at noon day that we could export nothing profitably without receiving its equivalent, and more than its equivalent in imports. So that our course was clear, invite imports— exports must follow. It had been said, that agriculture was improving under the protection of the present law. He would admit that there had been an improvement in agriculture, but he denied that there had been an improvement proportioned to the increased intelligence of the country. If agriculture had not advanced with the general progress of civilisation and knowledge—if the same improvements had not been made in farms which had been in manufactures—why should the present state of things be suffered te continue? Burthened as the country was—almost trodden down by its burthens, it was incomprehensible to him how they could suffer the continuance of the burthen which bore heavier than all the rest, and which was removable at the mandate of Parliament. When the agriculturists had it all their own way, he was not surprised at the character of their legislation, but now that the commercial and manufacturing interest were become strong, and that greater knowledge existed with regard to political economy, how could they continue the monopoly and usurpations of ancient times? What would the people say, but that they did so for their own selfish interests, and not for the public good? The right hon Baronet at the head of the Government had discoursed upon the principles of political economy as if he had occupied a professor's chair. He had listened with delight to the right hon. Baronet's expositions of the doctrines of political economy; but surely these principles, so sound in theory, ought to be put in practice. Now their legislation was all discord—it was founded in discord—it represented the scrambling of dishonest interests. Their legislation affected the well-being of 26,000,000 of people, and it ought to be founded on the principles of sound sense—on those principles which were sound, unshakeable, and eternal. Let them consider the state of the public mind out of doors. The present state of things could not endure long—the question would come back again and again. There was no hon. Member who was not compelled to acknowledge the effects produced by the efforts of the Anti-Corn-law League, the power of which was derived from its being the representative of a public grievance. That body would increase in strength so long as this grievance should exist. Their only means of action and agitation consisted in the power of being able to tell the miserable man that there were means of making him happy the feeble man, that there were means of making him strong—the poverty-stricken man, that there were means of making him rich. These were the arguments brought forward by the Anti-Corn-law League, and so demonstrable were they, that in no public meeting would any hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House venture to come forward to controvert them.

Mr. Ewart

said, he could not but regret that this question had been treated as a question between two classes; not, like what it was, as a great national question. It was not a question if the privileges, however long existing, of the landed interest were to be maintained because of the burthens or condition of that class; but whether by the change proposed, the whole nation would be benefited. This was the view taken out of the House, whatever might be the view taken within its walls. In fact, it was without the House, not within, that the question was really debated; and it was without the House that the question could be virtually, however, it might not be nominally, settled. He complained of the mode in which the question had been treated; he complained of the errors in fact, and in argument on the other side. They were, he repeated, misstatements of facts, and fallacies in argument. Mis-statements of fact, because, in the first place, it was averred, and that too by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) that the advocates of free-trade aimed at " wild prospects of universal good." On the contrary (said Mr. Ewart) they aimed at a steady and firm system of commerce. It was no visionary object, but solid, practical, steady trade. This could only be obtained by a final settlement of the question before them. Then came misstatement the second. This, too, from the right hon. Gentleman. They were told that the speculation and gambling fostered by the old Corn-laws had been extinguished, or greatly reduced, by the new one. Against this asseveration of words, he would advance an answer of fact. Let the right hon. Gentleman consult those commercial records of the corn trade, the circulars of Hamburg. He (Mr. Ewart) had with him extracts from two of them; that of Messrs. Afrens and Saltmann, and that of M. Bichel of Hamburg. What did they state? They did not indeed deny the influence of the change of weather in producing the dreadful losses in the corn trade last year; but they most distinctly added that the aggravating cause of speculation and of loss was the English sliding-scale. This, they 3tated, was the cause which, combining low duty with high price, tempted them to wait. Nature has made the supply of corn uncertain. Your laws increase the uncertainty of nature. Here, therefore, was practical evidence against assertion. And next, as to fallacies in argument. It had been said, —and that, too, by the right hon. Gentleman—that by the repeal of the Corn-laws, "land would be thrown out of cultivation." This expression had been duly qualified to mean, that it would be changed as to its mode of cultivation. It was not, then, a destruction, but only a change. Nor was it a change affecting the whole landed interest but only a part of it. The real question was, whether the repeal of the Corn-laws was necessary for the nation at large, and not whether it was unfavourable to a part of a particular interest in the nation. This was the question in every change which affected a class. Did they pause in admitting changes in machinery because a class, like unfortunately the handloom weavers, might suffer from the progression of manufactures? No; the change was deemed advantageous for the nation. Partial interests were, therefore, disregarded. So it must be in the case of the Corn-laws. The question was not, whether the cultivation of certain lands might be injured, but whether the measure proposed would benefit the nation at large. Next came another fallacy. It was said corn is cheap, yet there is great distress; therefore, altering the Corn-laws would be useless. But, what they wanted, was not the low price of corn, but the means of purchasing corn; not cheapness, but employment. What was the use of reducing the price of an article which the people could not buy? Corn might be low, yet the people wretched. Where was corn lower than in Poland? Where was the people less able to consume it? The fact was, it mattered little whether prices were high or low, if the people, being fully employed, were able to pay them. But of all the fallacies he had heard, the worst was that uttered by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Colquboun)—should he call it a fallacy, or the omission of a legitimate inference? That hon. Member said, " In no country has agriculture made such advances as in England.'' And he spoke truly. But he cautiously forbore to state the cause why it had advanced so pre-eminently in England. It was, because of the commerce of England—and the question now before the House was, whether we should feed or exhaust the sources of the agricultural pre-eminence of England, its trade and manufactures? The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) indeed added to all these, as he (Mr. Ewart) must deem them errors of reasoning, this remarkable condition; that they were to wait till all protecting duties could be abolished at once. Were they so to wait? or was the great fundamental error in legislation to be removed, and the smaller delusions to follow it? The nation, in his opinion, would not be satisfied to wait for this tardy system of reform. But he turned from these fallacies in argument to the state of the question before them. What was the commercial character of the times in which we lived? The times were gone when we could maintain our commercial superiority by amount of price. It must be maintained by extent of market. That country would be most successful which could, first, extend its markets most, and next, in each market, supply the greatest mass of consumers. To do both these was the peculiar capability of this country. Capital, coal, iron, mechanical habits, almost mechanical minds, were ours—all combined to enable us to supply manufactures more cheaply than other nations; one only element of doing so was wanting, cheap food. Yet this our legislators denied us; and denied us at a time when they had made favourable concessions to our opponents. We now allowed the free export of our machinery. Rightly in principle; but favourably to the competition of foreigners. And what had foreign nations done in their fiscal changes? Allusion had been already made to the unfavourable amount of the duties imposed by them. But there was an impediment on our commerce in their mode of imposing foreign duties. England's strength lay in supplying the cheap article. Continental nations had recently introduced the system of levying duties on the weight of the article, not its value. Consequently the lowest priced article paid as much as the highest priced article. This was a heavy additional burthen (justly pointed out in a recent work by Mr. Bischoff, of Leeds) on the English manufacturer. Such was our condition, such our reasons (at this particular crisis) for demanding a repeal of the Corn-laws. What hopes had the right hon. Baronet given us? He gave us the tariff. But he now owns that it was not the cause of doing any good by lowering prices; or rather, be told the farmer it was not the cause, and the merchant that it was. It was, therefore, at least ambiguous whether the tariff had done anything for them. In commercial treaties had the right hon. Baronet done anything? Unfortunately, nothing. Why, then, did he not put in practice his own avowal, and buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, without regard to commercial treaties? Yes; there remained a third remedy. It was the famous Canada Corn Bill. In his opinion this was a complete delusion. Nay, it was a delusion practised on Canada as well as England. Whom was it to benefit? What we really wanted was a corn trade with America. Did it give us this? No. It was based upon the exclusion of American corn by way of Canada. Was it a help to the Canadians? No; for its avowed character was to leave the British farmer in fully as good a condition as it found him in. Yet it was stated to be a measure for the good of Canada. If so, the Canadian could build mills, invest money, become, in fact, a British miller—or a transatlantic British miller. Vain hope ! The day must inevitably come when the corn trade must be opened. Then would vanish all this artificial fabric. The Canadian would be undeceived, but undeceived at the cost of fruitless investments and enormous losses. So much for these remedies. What other remained? Hope—at the bottom of the box, when all else bad fled out of it—the hope that prosperity would, of itself, return. Happy credulity! happier, if not defeated ! It was indeed, possible, he would admit, that the reviving demand of foreign nations might restore to us a temporary prosperity—but it would be evanescent, and unsteady—while steadiness and permanency were our real objects. We might see a calm diffused around the vessel of the state, but its course would be one of uncertainty and danger,— In painted pomp the gilded vessel goes, Uncertain of the whirlwind's sweepy sway"— which, at any time, might overtake and overwhelm it. The nation was beginning to understand the difference between real, solid, lasting, and unreal, fleeting, and unsubstantial prosperity. The Anti-Corn-law League had taught them the philosophy of the question. Even the farmers were beginning to awake. They perceived that they had been doubly deluded: first, by the state; and secondly, by their landlords. They perceived, and justly, that they must act for themselves. The whole tide of opinion was changing, except in two solitary creeks, or inlets, and one of them was the House of Commons. Here, indeed, the backwater still prevailed. Amidst such a revolution of opinion, ought not the right hon. Baronet to have come forward and long since openly expressed his own? How much more open, sincere, and lastingly beneficial to himself to have done so. The right hon. Baronet was about to find this question the Catholic question of commerce. The farmers would tell him what the Protestants had told him of yore. The Anti-Corn-law League had opposed the farmers. Yet they were now turning from the right hon. Baronet to the League. They practically applied to the League the two first lines, and to the right hon. Baronet the two succeeding lines of the well-known satire of Mr. Canning— Give me the erect, the firm, the manly foe; Calm I may meet, perhaps avert the blow; But, of all curses angry Heaven can send, Save, save, O save me, from the candid friend! The right hon. Gentleman had, indeed, candidly told them that he could pledge himself to nothing. Much as he was rejoiced to see the right hon. Baronet become a repealer, he should hare been better pleased to see him become so in a more open and bolder manner. Expediency was a tribute to necessity—consistency a tribute to truth. The right hon. Baronet must change his course; why not avow it now? If he did not he would establish a sort of free-trade, or rather contrabandism of opinion; and he would finally have done as much as any living man to erase the minor virtue of conistency from the code of political morality.

Mr. Childers

said, that in the present state of the country he did not think the Corn-laws could be with safety repealed. At the same time, he thought that when the laws were repealed the measure would very much disappoint the expectations both of its opponents and its supporters. Prices would not be altered by a system of free-trade to anything like the extent that some people supposed: foreign corn would assimilate itself in price to English corn, rather than English to foreign. In this opinion he was strengthened by the manner in which he saw the prices of corn in Jersey follow the prices in London; and yet in Jersey there existed a perfect free-trade in corn. At the same time, he must maintain that the sliding-scale had completely failed in its object, and could not long be maintained. The measure of last year might struggle through this Session, but it could not exist much longer.

Captain Layard

said, that the last time this measure had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he had not given it his support, neither had he voted against it, believing, as he then did, that a fixed duty would be more beneficial to the country; and that by a small fixed duty the revenue might be improved, trade and manufacture benefited, and some protection given to the agriculturist interest. Another reason he had for not then voting in favour of this measure was, that he believed the alteration in the Corn-law brought forward by the right hon. Baronet would give great dissatisfaction to the agricultural interest, and would prove to that body the uncertain support which Government was likely to afford; and that such being the case, it would oblige the right hon. Baronet to bring forward a small fixed duty; and by this compromise to allay the feverish anxiety which now pervaded the country. In the first part of that supposition he believed he had been correct. If any hon. Gentleman denied that to be the fact, and denied that the farmers were greatly discontented; if they were not convinced by the meetings that had taken place throughout the country, he felt that the speech made by the hon. Member for Wallingford (a speech that did that hon. Member great credit for its boldness and its truth), must have convinced them of the fact, however an unpleasing one, and must have convinced the Government that, though they might have been brought in on the tide—the flood-tide of agricultural opinion—yet, by the vacillating and uncertain course which they pursued, that that tide might be quickly on the ebb. The hon. Member for Wallingford said most truly that the farmers dare not trust those they had before trusted. Look at the election for East Suffolk. What did they do there? They made the noble Lord whom they had returned, pledge himself to vote against the Canadian Corn Bill. In that instance the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, had again sown the serpent's teeth, and he would find the agricultural Members rise as a body of armed men to oppose the bill. He had no doubt, that shortly the Government would find, particularly on the Canadian corn question, that those who had been their firmest supporters, might become their bitterest opponents. Upon the present Ministry coming into office, many had been deceived by the unfounded opinion that a brighter day was about to dawn on the fortunes of this country, and that those who had found such fault with the late Government, particularly with their financial arrangements, had found out some good measure which would counteract the baneful effects of which they complained. What are the measures, and how have they answered? An alteration in the Corn-law, by which little or no good was done to a suffering and patient people; while the agricultural interests were shaken to the foundation from the uncertainty that hung over them, and as the farmers expressed it, they sowed, not knowing who might reap. Next came the Income-tax, where a sliding-scale might have been used with advantage,—a tax which, from its inquisitorial character alone, would make it in a commercial country most unpopular; and which, from the different kinds of property, all taxed in the same way, made it most unjust. Examine the trade of London. Ask any of the shopkeepers were ever times so adverse to their prosperity? And what did they lay it to but this baneful tax? A more melancholy statement than that made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in bringing forward his budget, he had never witnessed; and as the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, said, what was brought in last Session by the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government with a flourish of trumpets, was this year, by a change of performers, carried out with an humble voice, and far from any flourish at all, leaving a debt of two millions and a half as a deficiency. Still there was hardly anything so bad, that some good might not be learnt from it, and we learn this even from the miserable budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the nearer he had approached free-trade, as in coffee and timber, the better he had succeeded. The further he had receded from it, as was the case in coals and whisky the more, had he been mistaken in his calculations. The hon. Member for Somersetshire said, that the main spring of all action, both private and public, was self-interest. He wished to know if such was the case, if any fair and unprejudiced man could say, that agricultural gentlemen were a fair jury upon such a question. Upon the very face of it they were not. See the difference of the land-tax in France, and in this country, why the land-tax in France, allowing for the different size of the country, has above five times what it has here. The hon. Member for Newcastle had said, how much better it would be not to use harsh language. He agreed with that hon. Member; but that hon. Member ought to remember it was much easier for those who reaped all the advantage, to preserve equanimity, from those who were them-selves suffering, or representing those who were suffering, from misery and distress. For his part, he thought the present law oppressive and unjust. He could not bear that those lines of Burns should be applicable to him. See yonder poor o'erlaboured wight So abject, mean, and vile, Who begs his brother of the earth, To give him leave to toil; And see his lordly brother worm, The poor petition scorn; Unmindful, though a weeping wife, And helpless children mourn. He wished that the right hon. Baronet would no longer think it necessary to stand by men who had avowed, if they could help it, they would no longer stand by him. He appealed to the hon. Members for Wallingford and for Bridport, if, at the dinner which had taken place at Wallingford, the cry had not been, turn out the right hon. Baronet; and if the answer was not, we wish our power was equal to our will. If any Gentleman in that House brought forward a small fixed duty, if the right hon. Baronet would do so, he should have his humble support. But as this did not seem likely to take place, thinking as he did, the present law most injurious in every way to the well-being of the country, feeling most deeply for the distress and misery of the people, he could no longer consider himself justified in withholding his vote, and which vote he should give in favour of the motion so ably brought forward by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and likewise calling upon hon. Members to consider well before they gave their vote against this measure—for he believed, that in after life, when as men grew older, party feeling and private interest became less predominant, when they did, as all men must do, look back upon the course they had run, whether that course was for evil or for good, that voting in favour of this measure would never be a source of regret but one of satisfaction, for it would be a vote given in support of the principles of strict justice, as well as the dictation of humanity.

Mr. E. Buller

said, though he intended to support the motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, he was not of opinion that the time was come when it would be safe or expedient to remove all duty on the importation of grain. Still less, however, could he vote with hon. Gentlemen opposite, if, by so doing, he was to be supposed to express approbation of the existing law. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said, that the principles of free trade were sound and true, but that those sound and true principles were not applicable to a country so burthened with debt as our own; but how could it be argued that a course would be impolitic for a country to pursue when out of debt, and yet that the country would grow rich by pursuing that course when in debt? The way to grow rich, is the way to pay debts. An enormous debt required a large revenue, and that revenue must be derived from various sources. There was no source from which revenue could be derived in a less oppressive manner than from the customs, if levied upon a reasonable, regular, and fair principle. But the present law at one time prohibits importation, at another sacrifices revenue. Much had been said about the peculiar burdens to which land was subject, and he was prepared to admit the justice of the claim to a limited extent with regard to poor rate, county rate, highway rate, and other local rates; but he denied that either tithes or marriage jointures or the malt tax were burthens on land establishing a fair ground for a claim for compensation. When, on the occasion of the hon. Member for Sheffield's motion, tithes were spoken of as a peculiar burthen on land, he really expected that some one would have risen on the Opposition side, and, by way of a reduclio ad absurdum, have asked whether jointures ought not also to be reckoned in that light. Why, what was a jointure but a transfer of a portion of the freehold to another party? A man might as well ask for compensation because he did not happen to possess the whole of an estate. Adam Smith, while he treated tithes as a distinct property, described them as a discouragement to agricultural improvements, and so they certainly were as long as they continued to be taken in kind, and on that account might constitute a claim to equivalent protecting duties, but by the commutation of tithes, the tithe rent charge becomes a fiscal payment, no longer varying according to the cultivation, and has no more effect in increasing the expences of the farmer, or the price of his produce, than rent itself, of which it may justly be considered a portion. With respect to the poor-rates, inasmuch as they increased in amount as the land improved in value, he admitted there was a claim to a limited extent for compensation. Again, the malt-tax limited the demand, and, by so doing, reduced the price of barley; therefore, to a certain extent, there was a claim for compensation by a protecting duty on that ground; but that it was a tax on the farmer, as the duty on printed cotton was a tax on the manufacturer, was a proposition so strange that he was perfectly thunderstruck when he heard it from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. He thought the agriculturists were entitled to have a duty on grain the produce of foreign countries, similar to the duty imposed on articles of raw material by the tariff. That "duty was one of five per cent., and he thought a duty of five per cent. on grain was justifiable on that ground, while the claim on the ground of peculiar burthens would be amply met by another duty of five per cent. A fixed duty of ten per cent. upon corn, or less than 6s. a quarter, was the utmost that could be just- ly and reasonably granted to the claims of the agricultural interest, consistently with the interests of the public in general. A fixed duty would obviate those objections which were brought against the Corn-law of last Session, to which it was liable equally with that of 1828. The right hon. Baronet said, that law had lowered the prices of food; but if there had been any reduction, it arose from the diminished consumption of food by the people. So long as that law existed, the Legislature would be open to the reproach that they raised the price of food to an artificially high point, in order to put money into the pockets of the agricultural interest, and thus created a scarcity of the great articles of sustenance, which added immensely to the distresses of the people. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-president of the Board of Trade had argued that the experience of last year was favourable to the new law, but he had forgotten to mention that last year was one calculated to show its operation to advantage, while the preceding year was of a character equally well calculated to show the defects of the former law. In the spring of 1841 there existed the strongest hopes of an abundant harvest. He had conversed with many Gentlemen interested in the result, who assured him they expected that it would turn out quite an annus mirabilis. But these were speedily overclouded by rains and unfavourable weather, and the harvest proving deficient a great quantity of corn was imported in the course of a few weeks. Last year, on the contrary, apprehensions as to the character of the harvest prevailed in the early part of the season, and the importation was more gradual and constant. In April,1841, there were in bond only 107,000 quarters; in April, 1842, 311,000. In May, 1841, the quantity bonded was 415,000; in May, 1842, 1,082,000; in June, 1841, it was 579,000; in June,1842, 1,253,000. In May, June, and July last, with this large quantity of grain in the country in bond, the effect of the present Corn-law was to keep the price up to 60s. and 65s. a quarter, a price infinitely beyond what 80s. would be at other times, considering the distress of the people, and then, when prices had been forced up to the highest point attainable, 2,240,000 quarters were poured into the market in one week, and the price fell from 65s. down to 48. 7d. The regularity of the importations during the spring, arising out of the expectation of a deficient harvest, fully accounted for no bullion, in comparison with 1841, having been exported from the country last year; there was no proof that the law of last year was the cause of the better state of things; on the contrary, he thought the present law had all the defects of the last, and under similar circumstances to those in existence in 1841 would give rise to similar disastrous results. It had been said that the advocates of the motion ought to imagine the possibility of its being carried; he did so, though, of course, with no sanguine expectations. If, however, by any miracle, a majority should affirm the motion, he was sure that hon. Members opposite would soon support the moderate advocates of a fixed duty. It was said, indeed, a fixed duty would not last, but would a sliding-scale? The policy of the Cabinet had been ably expressed as that of allowing manufactures a fair and open rivalry with continental competitors, and why should not agriculture be exposed to the same trial? There were Pharisees as well in politics as religion, and it was just possible to "take the tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and omit the weightier matters of the law." The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-president of the Board of Trade had made a very stout speech, and had spoken of some contract with the agriculturists in favour of the Corn-laws; an idea, however, which the Premier took care to repudiate, using language similar to that which had been used by "gay deceivers" ever since man was first fickle and woman confiding. " I did not make any promises." " 1 uttered no vows." You threw yourselves into my arms voluntarily and unreservedly." [Sir R. Peel just before re-entered the House.] Nec conjugis unquam, Prætendi tædas aut hæc in fœdera veni. And soon the time would come when the right hon. Baronet would lament to them the painful necessity for surrendering them to further sacrifice, dexterously excusing himself for the apparent unkindness. —Ipse Deum manifesto in lumine vidi Intrantem muros, vocemque his auribus hausi. " I have seen Mr. Cobden within the walls of the House of Commons, and heard him with my own ears, he speaks so powerfully and so pointedly that the temper of Ministers can't stand it." The time has arrived !— Desine, meque tuis mcendere: teque querelis: Italiam non sponte sequor. My affections—my attachments are with you; but—cease your complainings —hard fate and necessity compel me to change! The hon. Member concluded by expressing his hope that they might get a majority for going into committee; and if by some miracle that were attained, then he was satisfied all the moderate men would combine, and form a majority for a fixed duty.

Sir C. Burrell

said, nobody could regret having heard the speech of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Buller), whose clever speech must have sufficiently shown the incorrectness of the idea that country gentlemen were ill-educated and ill-informed persons. Nothing could be more pleasing than the hon. Member's classical allusions, but his arguments had not been so convincing as his quotations had been happy. The land-tax, which had been called a composition for the old feudal services, had not been imposed till the reign of William 3rd, while the feudal burthens had been finally abolished in the time of Charles 2nd. So long as the national debt remained, we could not have free-trade. He believed, that if they took from agriculture its fair protection, they would injure the home trade to a degree they could hardly conceive; and on that ground he should certainly vote against the motion. The hon. Member who pre-ceded him had drawn also wrong conclusions as to the amount of the land-tax being greater in France than in England, forgetting, or perhaps, as an Irish Member, not being aware, from Ireland being free from land-tax, that it was a very heavy and productive tax, wholly resting on land in England, but which, by the sacrifice of much capital for its redemption, had been much reduced in annual amount, the redemption money having been applied to the purposes of the nation. And it was not to be forgotten that the Ministry of that day, to induce redemption of the land-tax to a certain amount, gave to the parties the right of voting for Members of Parliament, the same as it possessed of land or tenements,—a right guaranteed by Parliament, but which, without regard to such enactments, the Reform Act had swept away. Casting aside the obloquy which, with much illiberality and injustice, some persons had tried to attach to the landowners, endeavouring to make it appear that the land occupiers had wholly separate interests from their landlords, as regards protection against foreign corn and capital, I contend that such opinions are untenable and unfounded,—for those who so argue cannot be aware of the loss of capital in the value of his live and dead stock which inevitably ensues to the landholder whenever the prices of agricultural produce are seriously depreciated. And with all their vaunted feelings for the labourers, I can from long experience assure hon. Gentlemen holding such opinions, that they are practically wrong; for low prices of produce inevitably tend to reduce labour value.—and, what is far worse, to narrow greatly the means of employment; and the consequences of disastrous times to agriculture cramp and injure the home trade to a degree of which experience alone can furnish the idea. At this moment, on the information of a partner in a great wholesale house, I can state, that to send riders out of town for fresh orders is of little avail, while to obtain money from shopkeepers is out of the question in general owing to the failure of custom, and eventually the evil reaches, or will reach, the manufacturers. If the arguments of the Anti-Corn-law party mean anything, when talking of the impossibility of competing with low prices of continental labour, it can alone mean and imply, as clear as day, the desire to reduce the price of labour in this country, and especially of manufacturing operatives, to the scale of continental labour prices; for no one will be so absurd as to suppose they entertain the project of raising the prices of continental labour to our prices. As to the free-trade so much called for, it is a mere delusion without reciprocity; and do what we may, it is quite clear that the continental powers will not heed our example, but consult wisely the interests of their own countries, laying such duties on our manufactures as shall protect their own, as any one may see by reference to their respective tariffs. Take the tariff of the United States,—that country which is the theme of so much eulogium, though degraded by the toleration of slavery in some of their states. Their tariff is as follows:—*

Next take the example of the Prussian government in 1816 and 1817, when a dearth existed in England, and immediately that government laid on an export duty of 20 per cent., thus preventing a lowering of the price of bread corn in * See table (as note) following column. this country. Such would be the case with all exporting countries in times of dearth here; and it behoves, therefore, the British Government to foster and promote British agriculture. so as to make us generally, and in fair seasons, independent of foreign-grown corn. I now, Sir, turn to a comparison of the number of labourers on the land, and of manufacturing operatives, according to returns of 1836, shewing the great excess of the former over the latter class of labourers;—

Labourers on the land 9,227,000
Labourers in manufacture 2,176,000

If, then, these returns were correct, will any man presume to say that the interests of the smaller population should take precedence of the greater industrial population, the excess of which was no less than 7,051,000. Let us now compare the relative burthens by the poor-rates, according to Parliamentary returns:—

Agricultural districts £4,250,000
Mill owners and manufacturers 500,000
Excess of burthens on land £3,750,000

And I am persuaded that if the relative proceeds of the Income-tax were stated, a similar proportional excess of burthen would be found to lie upon the land. Now, Sir, let us see if the outcries made by the Anti Corn-law unionists and manufacturers of cotton are well founded. I

1832. 1842. would have been by Mr. Clay's Bill. 1842. Are by the pre sent Tariff.
Flannel and baize, per square yard 16 cents. 20 per ct. ad val. 14 cents.
Carpetting (Brussels) per square yard 63 cents. 20 per ct. ad val. 55 cents.
Carpetting (Venetian) per square yard 35 cents. 20 per ct. ad val. 30 cents.
Carpetting (Floor cloth) per square yard 43 cents. 20 per ct. ad val. 35 cents.
Wool, over 8 cents per lb., ad valorem 40 per cent and 4 cent 20 per ct. ad val. 30 per ct.
Woollen yarn, over 8 cents per lb., ad valorem 50 per cent and4 cent 20 per ct. ad val. 40 per ct.
Merino shawls over 8 cents per lb., ad valorem 50 per cent. 20 per ct. ad val. 40 per ct.
Cloths and cassimeres, over 8 cents per lb., ad valorem 50 per cent. 20 per ct. ad val. 40 per ct.
Other woollen goods, over 8 cents per lb., ad valorem 50 per cent. 20 per ct. ad val. 30 per ct.
Clothes ready made, over 8 cents per lb., ad valorem 50 per cent. 20 per ct. ad val. 50 per ct.
Cotton, unmanufactured, per lb 20 per ct. ad val. 3 cents.
Cotton manufactures, ad valorem 20 per ct. ad val. 30 per ct.
Except cotton twist, unbleached and uncoloured, less than 60 cents per lb 20 per ct. ad val. 25 per ct.
Except cotton twist, bleached and coloured, less than 60 cents per lb 20 per ct. ad val. 30 per ct.
Silk, manufactured, per lb 20 per ct. ad val. 2 dls. 50c.
Except silk bolting cloth, ad valorem 20 per ct. ad val. 20 per ct.
Except silk bolting cloth, mixed with gold and silver, ad valorem 20 per ct. ad val. 30 per ct.
Except silk bolting cloth, sewing silk, twist, &c, per lb 20 per ct. ad val. 2 dollars.
Linens and other manufactures of flax ad valorem 20 per ct. ad val. 25 per ct.

take the return of the 3rd May 1843, permit him to state the reasons which in for respecting the import of cotton wool manufacturing' purposes.

In the quarter ending 5th April,1842, imported 132,272,762
While to 5th April 1843 were imported 181,823,116
There being in the latter year an excess imported in the quarter of 49,550,354

This fact I leave to speak for itself. We have heard of trades being willing to abandon protection to their interests, but I call on hon. Gentlemen to produce a single instance of any manufacturer or trader that has come forward to renounce its especial claim to protection, whether hosiers, silks or cotton manufacturers, clothiers carpet makers, glovers, &c, &c, &c, not forgetting the shipping interest, which at a short distance of time cried out for more protection to British bottoms. Some Gentlemen have talked of the Corn-laws as of late origin; but if they look into history, they will find that the Corn-laws commenced in the early periods of bur history, as far back as Edward the 3rd's reign; and by wise laws, under different reigns, England, when its agriculture was protected, became an exporting instead of an importing country, and when agriculture flourished, manufactures and trade flourished likewise, and when unwise laws injured agriculture, then manufactures and trade languished and decayed; and such will be the certain result now, if due and fair protection to agriculture is unwisely withdrawn. I shall, Sir, conclude with a quotation from Mr. Alexander Divom, the talented writer on the Corn-laws. Mr. Divom thus writes in page 107:— We write for no partial purposes, nor for or against any man or set of men; it is for the benefit of the public in general that oar agriculture should be restored to its former efficiency, and that our children and manufacturers should be fed with the bread of our own hands; it is the only bread that can be eaten in plenty and with safety: for if we shall be brought to depend upon the bread of foreign nations, our manufactures will be buried in the ruins of our agriculture. I have now only to thank the House for the patient hearing which it has granted me, at the same time that 1 re-state my intention to vote against the motion for a committee.

Mr. P. Scrope

trusted the House would permit him to state the reasons which induced him to give his support to the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. It appeared, that the debate was to be carried on mainly by Gentleman on his (the Opposition) side of the House, but he hoped the silence of hon. Members opposite was not to be attributed to an order which was supposed to have been given by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, for them not to come down to the House. He would not attribute it to that, and he thought, that as the debate would apparently be confined to hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, it might be finished that evening. The right hon. Baronet, in his speech on this question, began by using an argument in a most triumphant tone, and which he conceived to be unanswerable, and defied any hon. Member on that (the Opposition) side of the House to answer. The argument he alluded to was, that if they carried the principle of free-trade to its extreme length, they must effect a complete revolution in the whole financial system, that they could not abolish the Corn-laws without abolishing the differential duties in the colonies, and repealing all the taxation which savoured of protection. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet entirely. He went even further. He would state, that all taxation—he meant indirect taxation—savoured of protection. It was almost impossible to name any tax that did not in some degree protect some interest which would be placed in a less favourable situation without it. Take, for instance, the tax upon foreign wine; it was quite clear, that were it removed, there would be a diminished consumption of beer, cider, and other articles produced in this country. But taxes should not be imposed for the purpose of protection alone; for the purpose of revenue; for the payment of the debt and the charges of the country— there must be taxes; they could not, on that account, carry the system of free-trade to the extent of repealing all taxation; but they ought to proceed in their financial system upon the principles of levying taxes for revenue, and not for protection. Those principles were, first, the productiveness of the tax; and secondly, to weigh as lightly as possible upon the great masses of the community—to tax the wealthy, not the poor—to tax articles of luxury, not those of necessity. By imposing a tax upon wine, what was the consequence? Fewer people drank wine in this country. He did not think that was of much consequence now, that those who drank it paid more for it. It was the same with spirits and tobacco; but when they went further, to articles that had some relation to the necessary wants of the people, their taxation, although it should not stop short, should press as lightly as possible. A tax upon sugar, coffee, and tea, might be justifiable; but by such a tax some other interests in this country were protected. He said, therefore, that when they were regulating their system of taxation the last object upon which they should impose a tax, was that which formed the main subsistence of the great j body of the people. The right hon. Baronet appeared to agree with him in the J principles he had laid down, at all events in the principles with respect to free-trade, namely, that every interest found its greatest advantage to consist in being left J to its own resources; that all interference I of the Legislature in protecting one interest must be at the expense of another,: and that such interference was mischievous j and should be avoided as far as it could be j consistently with raising the revenue. Some hon. Gentlemen in the course of the? debate had shown, that they had not quite understood these arguments. Now, if he j had 100l. and laid it out in British labour he said labour alone, and did not speak ! of rent, and grew fifty quarters of corn and were to bring them to market, and if he I had another 100l. which he laid out in I cloth, took the cloth abroad and sold it for corn, he would ask why should the Legislature give protection to one of these parcels of corn over the other? Why j should they not both come into the market upon terms of equality, for both were the produce of British industry, the foreign [corn being introduced only in exchange j for articles produced here? He would turn to the arguments, that were urged j in favour of the continuance of this tax. They were, first, the special burthens upon land; and, secondly, the vested interests in agriculture. He thought it had been shown, that those special burthens did not fall exclusively upon the land. For in-Stance, the hon. Member for Staffordshire had shown, that tithe was not exclusively a burthen upon the land; and the arguments from Ricardo and Adam Smith in favour of such an opinion were now cut short by the Tithe Commutation Act The other argument was, that there was a sort of vested interest, a sort of pre- scriptive right on the part of the agriculturists to this protection. But because the landed interest had at one time induced the Legislature to grant them protection, and because that protection had been continued during many years, was that a reason why it should be continued for ever? How long did they wish their prescriptive right to last? When the Corn-law of 1828 was passed there was this excuse for it-that the proposers believed in the wisdom and necessity of their own measure; but that excuse was wanting to them now. So far from the Ministers who now upheld the Corn-law, believing it to be a wise measure, they had admitted the fallacy of the principle on which it was founded. To the farmer, the uncertainty produced by this inconsistent course was worse than a repeal of the Corn-law itself would be. Better tell them that their protection would be reduced gradually at the rate of 1*. a-year, than keep on a protection which they were taught to fear might at any time be taken away from them, if they knew that they were to expect a given change at a given period, they would know how to act and invest their capital accordingly. It would be better for them to have a corn rent and no Corn-law, than to be deluded with a protection that was slipping from under them every year, while in the meantime they were compelled to pay their present fixed rents even to the extent of the last farthing of their very capital itself. No time, he felt satisfied, could be chosen more favourable for a repeal of the Corn-laws than the present, when prices were so low, and were likely, in consequence of the expected favourable harvest, to continue so low, and when the panic created by the late change and the present prices was such, that even repeal could not increase it. In the present state of things, too, it was not likely that there would be any great importation of corn from abroad in the event of the measure being carried, for no arrangements for that purpose appeared to have been made. For these reasons he thought the present the most favourable opportunity for a repeal of the Corn-laws. If we looked to our foreign relations we should find that the time was come, and was fast passing away, when we could effect arrangements favourable to our trade. Had it not been for the law of 1815, we should now have an incalculable trade with both Europe and America. Those hostile tariffs that had been so often deplored had arisen out of our own protective tariff— they were the spawn of the Corn-laws. All our negotiations with foreign countries for commercial treaties agreed in representing one fact—that the first step towards obtaining a modification of foreign tariffs must be to take off our own corn duties. Though we had, perhaps, lost some of the European markets, yet he appealed to the right hon. Baronet, whether he was not convinced that a more liberal course of policy would secure and preserve for us the immense markets of America? He believed that it was very probable if we showed such a disposition we should get next year a more favourable tariff from the United States. The hon. Member for Somersetshire had put forth the existence of the national debt as one argument for the, maintenance of the Corn-laws. Why, the landed interest paid this year through the Income-tax 3,000,000l. more to the national debt than they did last year, and if the revenue fell off they might have next year to pay 5,000,000l. In fact, they might go on till the whole burthen of the national debt lay on their shoulders, for their land was mortgaged to the national debt, and could not escape. Manufacturing capital was not so situated; it could go abroad, and escape the payment of the Income-tax. In fact, that sort of emigration was going on every day. Since he entered the House that day he had seen one manufacturer who had been compelled to discharge his workmen and shut up his mill. His foreman, whom he could not keep at remunerating wages, had been obliged last year to leave home; and had gone to the United States. That manufacturer had a few days ago received a letter from him from America, saying that he got double wages, while his expenditure was two-thirds what it had been at home, and that he was now three times as well off as before. He entreated his late fellow-workmen to come out, and many were following his recommendation. Now, this sort of thing was increasing, and would go on, unless the manufacturing interest was put on a level with the others. Some hon. Gentleman had alluded in very strong terms to what they alleged to be the motives of the landlords in endeavouring to keep up the Corn-laws. As far as the House was concerned, he thought they had nothing whatever to do with the motives of a Legislator. But the case was far different as it regarded the opinion entertained by the starving millions out of doors as to the motives of the landlords. That was a question of much importance, and he could not but regard it as dangerous to the peace of the country, that the opinion should get abroad among the people that the landlords kept up the price of food for the advancement of their own pecuniary interest. Two facts there unfortunately were to influence their opinion. The first was, that the landlords were the makers of the laws, and the second was, that it was declared to be their interest to keep up the Corn-laws. Such being the facts presented to the people, it was most natural for them to come to the conclusion that the landlords were keeping up the Corn-laws for the sake of their own interest. What must they think when they saw a Cabinet Minister come down and tell the House of Commons that it was necessary that they should keep up the Corn-laws in order to pay the jointures and other charges for their families with which they had mortgaged their estates? [Sir E. Knatchbull: No, no. He should be sorry to misrepresent the right hon. Baronet, and would be happy to retract if he had misrepresented him.

Sir E. Knatchbull

interposed, and was understood to say that his argument was, that the repeal of the Corn-law would work considerable injury to persons having made engagements for marriage settlements and other pecuniary obligations, on their faith in the continuance of the present law.

Mr. P. Scrope

It was said that the landowners had mortgaged their estates, and had executed a variety of family settlements. Now what was the value of that argument, unless it was considered that it was not the interest of the landowners to repeal the Corn-law— that they had a deep pecuniary interest in maintaining that law, and that they could not pay the charges effected by their family settlements, unless the law was maintained? The people out of doors would believe that the law was maintained for that purpose. That was a most dangerous feeling to exist. It was a feeling which might not have existed a year ago; but he believed that public opinion had now denounced the law so strongly that it was most dangerous to the peace of the country to allow such an argument any longer to be put forth. These were not new opinions taken up by him, in consequence of the strong feeling that now existed against this law. Ten years ago he published his thoughts upon this subject, and argued in favour of free-trade, more especially in the article of corn, and he contended that if there were exclusive burthens on the land, they ought to be equalized, because the effect of an inequality of charges on land was the creating the necessity of imposing a tax on the poor man's food. Another argument in favour of repealing the Corn-law was, that now many poor men were supported out of the poor-rates. These persons were unproductive labourers; but if the Corn-law were repealed they would obtain employment, and thus thousands would be supported by wages for labour instead of by the Poor-law. His opinion was, that the population of the country might be doubled without decreasing the growth of corn or diminishing its price. He saw no reason why, by an increasing population, agricultural produce should be decreased in price, or why rents should fall; while he was sure that a free-trade in corn would extensively devolope the resources of the country, and essentially promote the prosperity of the whole community.

Colonel Wood

said, that if he did not sincerely believe the Corn-laws were calculated to promote the interest of the manufactures of this country as much as the interest of the agriculturists, he would not for a moment vote for their continuance. But if hon. Gentlemen opposite were advocates for free-trade, he presumed they were also advocates for free cultivation. Now, it was well known that a farmer could not put a sickle into his corn without paying a duty on the malt of which the beer of his labourers was brewed. Was that the case in Poland, Prussia, and America? The farmer was prohibited from growing tobacco. The year before that prohibition was passed, a nobleman directed his steward in Ireland to confine the growth of tobacco to one acre, and the produce of that acre yielded him 500l. [Mr. M. Gibson: We do not eat tobacco.] Though they could not eat tobacco, what did they think of sugar? No less than 41. per ton was imposed in Ireland on sugar made from wheat during the last year; and, lastly, the farmer was prohibited from malting his own barley. Thus the British farmer was put to a heavier expense, and was hedged about by prohibitions beyond what any foreign farmer was subjected to. If, then, a large supply of foreign corn were brought into this country, a great portion of the land must be put out of cultivation; and, finally, England would be dependent upon foreign nations for the supply of corn. What were the reasons for supporting the Corn-law of 1815? The present Lord Fitzwilliam, then Lord Milton, supported that law, saying that — After duly weighing both sides of the question, he wished to state it to the House. The question lay between two evils: and although in the abstract he was friendly to a free trade, yet in this case, as it would not depend upon ourselves alone, he was inclined to favour a measure, the object of which was to render us independent of foreign assistance. He could bear witness, from his own personal experience, to the severe distresses of the labourers in husbandry, to whom the cheapness of corn (so much wished for by those who argued on the other side), was a disadvantage, because that very circumstance threw them out of work; he was informed that in the Bedford Level half the population were receiving parochial relief. Although the adoption of this bill might be partially disadvantageous, he was convinced it would be generally beneficial, and without it he thought that the farmer would be ruined and the labourer starved. He ought, perhaps, to apologise for troubling the House with these quotations, but as the question was an important one, it was desirable that the reasons for passing the Corn-law of 1815 should be known. Hear what another Gentleman stated—not a Tory, but a Whig—like Lord Milton, and who was unfriendly to the Government of that day. Mr. Thomson (afterwards Lord Sydenham) followed the noble Lord, and observed— In a small village near Hull, where a number of labouring poor resided, he inquired what was the reason of their distress, now that the corn was at such reduced prices? ' Why, Sir, said some of the poor people, ' it is very true that corn can be purchased cheaper than at any former period; but then this is of no importance to us, for we can get no work, and, consequently, have not the means of buying it.' When he asked the cause of this, they said, ' the farmers have no money, and cannot pay us for our labour. He immediately offered to give some twenty of them employment, and a person present said, if he could employ forty more, they would be most anxious to obtain his patronage at any rate. Nothing could be more obvious than that the reduction of the price of corn had pro- duced these events, and that reduction manifestly was attributable to the importation of foreign grain. He did not wish the farmers to have a very high price for their corn, but he wished them to have such a price as would protect them in their labours; and if he wished plenty to the poor, he certainly did not wish to see I them fed with French corn, or clothed ! with foreign manufactures. He wished everything to be English, and for this reason he would protect the agriculturist i as well as the manufacturer. Hitherto the manufacturer had been protected in every possible way. There was a duty upon everything which could in the slightest way interfere with his interest, and every facility given to the exportation of his commodity. But how was the farmer treated He was prohibited from exporting his wool and his cattle; and even after his sheep were killed, he was not allowed to export their skins. The manufacturer of leather was protected in a monopoly of the skin, while the farmer was prevented from deriving the advantage which similar privileges would give him. Why should this be the case, and why should the interests of one class of society be sacrificed for the sake of promoting those of another? To export all we could, and to import as little as we could help, was a maxim which any one would allow was applicable to the real interests of this country; and if it applied to one species of commodity, why should it not apply to another? If it applied to manufactures, why should it not apply to corn? The disadvantages arising from its not being applied to com, had been seriously felt, and he apprehended would, ere long, be very generally acknowledged. Already did the shopkeepers in market towns view with dismay the distresses of the farmer; in vain did they look for that custom to which they had heretofore been accustomed; the farmer passed their doors dejected and distressed, he was no longer able to purchase those little articles of luxury and manufacture which had given spirit to trade, and that friendly intercourse which had in former times subsisted, was broken up. These were the reasons assigned for supporting the act of 1815, an act which was not passed for the unworthy purpose of propping up rents and giving farmers an undue advantage in the market. What was the history of the act of 1815? It was, in point of fact, a compromise be- tween those who were then in the habit of opposing the Government, and who said, We will not lay a tax on corn, but we will give you an act that shall prohibit the importation of foreign corn until the price indicates a deficiency of supply, and the ports shall be open and importation shall be free. He had himself supported that measure, but he owned it turned out a complete failure; for in the autumn of 1816 it had inflicted on the country all the evils of a panic price, and in 1818, when the grain in this country was sufficient for the population, it poured in the whole harvest of the Continent to swamp native agriculture for four successive years. The Act of 1815 was adopted in lieu of the sliding-scale proposed by Mr. Huskisson in 1814; and what was it? Mr. Huskisson proposed three resolutions:— 1st. That it is the opinion of this committee that it is expedient that the exportation of corn, grain, meal, malt and flour, from any part of the united kingdom should be permitted at all times without the payment of any duty and without receiving any bounty whatever; 2nd, that it is expedient that the several duties now payable in respect of all corn, grain, meal, and flour, imported into the United Kingdom should cease and determine; and that the several duties in the following schedule shall be paid in lieu thereof. When the average price of corn was under 63s., the duty was to be 24s.; and for every advance of 1s. in the price, there was to be a corresponding decrease in the duty, from 63s. to 85s. when importation was to be free. Up to the period to which he referred, there had been no warehousing, but when a ship arrived in port the duty was paid on the day of arrival. Mr. Huskisson, however, wished to permit the warehousing of corn in this country without the payment of duty, and he proposed his sliding scale to permit corn so warehoused to be gradually brought into the market. Mr. Huskisson's third resolution was,— That it is the opinion of this committee, that it is expedient that all foreign corn, grain, meal, and flour, should at all times be imported and warehoused free of all duty until taken out for home consumption, and should at all times be exported free of all duty. Mr. Huskisson's object, then, in 1814, was to permit the introduction of corn at a duty regulated by a sliding-scale; and he wished that at that time the sliding-scale proposed by that statesman had been adopted. But what had since taken place? In 1822 the import price was lowered from 80s. to 70s.; Mr. Canning reduced it to 65s.; the present graduated scale reduced the import price from 63s. to 50s., and the reduction of duty was regulated in a manner similar to that proposed by Mr. Huskisson. He considered Mr. Huskisson's proposal a very fair and proper one; and he thought that when hon. Gentlemen opposite found that there was so much similarity between the present system and that proposed by Mr. Huskisson, they would not entertain so bad an opinion of the existing system as they had hitherto professed. He would ask the indulgence of the House while he quoted Mr. Huskisson's reasons for the proposal which he made in 1814. Mr. Huskisson said,— If I were not fully convinced that the consumer in general, but more especially that class of consumers whose subsistence depends on their own industry, would be benefitted by the proposed alteration, it would not have had my support. My sole object is to prevent (as far as human means can prevent) bread-corn from ever again reaching the late extravagant prices. Can any man have witnessed the scarcities and consequent privations of the people during six or seven different seasons of the last twenty years, without feeling anxious to guard the country against the return of such severe distress? But if we wish to cure an evil of this alarming magnitude, we must first trace it to its source. What is that source? Obviously this, that until now we did not, even in good years, grow corn enough for our own consumption. Habitually depending on foreign supply, that supply was interrupted by war or by bad seasons abroad. The present war, it is true, is now at an end; but peace is, at all times, too precarious not to induce us to guard against the repetition of similar calamities whenever hostilities may be renewed. But, even in peace, the habitual dependence on foreign supply is dangerous. We place the subsistence of our own population not only at the mercy of foreign powers, but also on their being able to spare as much corn as we may want to buy. Suppose, as it frequently happens, the harvest in the same year to be a short one, not only in this country, but in the foreign countries from which we are fed— what follows? The habitually exporting country, France for instance, stops the export of its corn, and feeds its people without any great pressure. The habitually importing country, England, which, even in a good season, has hitherto depended on the aid of foreign corn, deprived of that aid, in a year of scarcity, is driven to distress bordering upon famine. There is, therefore, no effectual security, either in peace or war, against the frequent return of scarcity approaching to starvation, such as of late years we have so frequently experienced, but in our maintaining ourselves habitually independent of foreign supply. Let the bread we eat be the produce of corn grown among ourselves, and for one I care not how cheap it is; the cheaper the better. It is cheap now, and I rejoice at it; because it is altogether owing to a sufficiency of corn of our own growth. But in order to insure a continuance of that cheapness and that sufficiency, we must insure to our own growers that protection against foreign import which has produced these blessings, and by which alone they can be permanently maintained. He thought, then, that hon. Gentlemen opposite would admit that the existing system was not a measure of the day, but that it was first suggested by Mr. Huskisson, who defended it by the arguments which he had now adduced. It had been argued that they were to apply the principles of free trade to agriculture—that they were to buy cheap and to sell dear. He protested against the application of this principle of buying cheap and selling dear. Would any one tell him that the British farmers ought to go into the market and beat down the price of the labourers' wages—only caring to get his work done at a cheap rate? His creed was, "a fair day's wages for a fair day's work." He protested equally against buying cheaply and selling dearly, so far as the agriculturist was concerned. The object of the British farmer was only to obtain a fair remunerating price, which would enable him to cultivate his land to support himself, and to pay a fair rent to his landlord, —his maxim indeed was, "Live and let live." He believed that the great body of the landed proprietors of this country were fully impressed with the conviction that they had duties to discharge as well as rights to maintain, and that they felt their duty was to promote, as far as they could do so, the happiness, the comfort, and the education of their poorer fellow countrymen. He was prepared to give a full contradiction to the assertion that the landowners supported the Corn-laws in order to keep up their rents and to fill their own pockets. The wish of the landed proprietors was, he was convinced, to see all interests in a prosperous and flourishing state; and they believed that, in supporting the laws regulating the import of foreign corn, they were promoting the welfare and prosperity of the country. Some hon. Members opposite had stated that, if the House went into committee on this subject they would support a fixed duty; but he feared that those hon. Gentlemen would abandon their principle of a fixed duty, and join in the attempt to obtain the total repeal of the Corn-laws.

Mr. Thornely

said, he wished to make a few observations as to the influence of the present Corn-laws upon our commercial intercourse with foreign countries. He believed that if the subject were carefully investigated, it would be found, that the hostile tariffs of foreign nations had been adopted mainly in consequence of the Corn-laws and other commercial restrictions established by Great Britain. Reference had been made to the tariff adopted last year by the legislature of the United States of America, which had produced a most extensive and injurious effect upon our exports, and it had been stated that large imports of bullion were now taking place from this country to the United States. He had last autumn visited the United States, and he arrived in that country just at the period when the Congress had adopted the high tariff to which he had alluded. On several occasions he informed Americans that we had reduced the duty upon numerous articles of their export, but their invariable answer was, " That may be the case; but look at your Corn-laws." In the month of October last he visited Washington, and paid his respect to the President of the United States, and he took the opportunity of presenting to that Gentleman a statement of the reduction effected by our new tariff in the duties on the importation of many articles of American produce, and expressed a hope that this reduction would tend to increase the commercial intercourse between the two countries. Mr. Tyler replied— I value this document, but I do not see how we can trade largely with your country, while your present Corn-law exists. He thought that the Governments of this country, whatever might have been their political opinions, had not sufficiently estimated the importance of the American trade. In the year 1832 an act was passed by the Congress, commonly called Mr. Clay's Compromise Act, which provided that a gradual reduction should be effected annually during a period of ten years in the duties on British goods, and that at the end of that time, which expired on the 30th June, 1842, the duty should be 20 per cent. ad valorem. The duty could not be reduced further, because the government of the United States depended for its revenue upon the duty on imports, and a duty of less than 20 per cent. would not enable them to maintain their establishments. During the whole period of ten years to which he had alluded, this country made no endeavour to meet America on the question of the Corn-laws. The sliding-scale had been continued, and whenever we needed corn, the near ports of Europe had an immense advantage over those of the United States. We had endeavoured to conclude a commercial treaty with Portugal, which received our manufactures to the value of little more than 1,000,000l. per annum, while we had made no such attempt with respect to the United States—a country which for several years past had been a customer for our manufactures to the extent of nearly 7,000,000l. a-year. During the last ten years, great progress had been made in the manufactures of the United States, and he could state that the high tariff party was at present the popular party in that country. The Americans had now their annual exhibitions of home manufactures; he had attended two of them last autumn at New York and Philadelphia, and was surprised at the advance which had been made in the manufacture of woollens, cotton, glass, hardware, and cutlery. With respect to the proposal of the Government, that American corn should be admitted into Canada, his opinion was, that no great quantity of grain would be imported into this country from Canada under that act, and he did not believe that by that measure we should gain any credit with the American government. The shipowners of America were extremely jealous of foreign interference, and they complained that while we wanted their wheat or grain, we wished to obtain it through a British colony, in order that it might be imported into this country in British vessels, to the exclusion of American ships. He believed, that by delaying to adopt measures of free-trade, the commercial intercourse of this country with foreign nations had been materially injured. He had received a letter from the United States, in which the writer stated:— The movement on your side, in relation to lower duties, is too late; besides, our people know from the discussions on the subject that an admission of corn, timber, SEC., at more favourable rates, is a policy forced upon you by circumstances independent of any regard to the principles of free-trade. If such be the case, they say that we shall have access to you for those articles whatever may be the terms of our tariff. If such changes had been made in 1828 or 1832, when the Compromise Act was enacted, I doubt if the terms of that act-namely, for a revenue duty of 20 per cent.— would have been altered, or materially so. The wheat-growers would have been on the side of moderate duties, whereas they are now indifferent, because even now the sliding-scale is prohibitory, or nearly so; besides, the tariff party, during this long period, have gained a vast deal of strength, especially in the west, the south, and south-west. That very day he had received a letter from a friend in America by the packet which came in yesterday, and the writer stated as his opinion:— Now is the time for England to act; the longer the delay the greater the difficulties to contend with; and bear in mind the future greatness of a country that must, if undisturbed by civil wars, continue to double her population every twenty-four years, for at least three-fourths of a century, and probably longer, and having wealth so great and so equally distributed, as to render a commerce with us twice as much per head as a nation like France and Germany, and five times as much per head as with an equal number of Spaniards, Portuguese, or Russians. Let it be remembered, that the Congress which voted the high tariff", was no longer in existence, and that the new Congress, which was to meet in December next, was composed of members very many of whom were favourable to a lower tariff. If Parliament persisted in adhering to the sliding-scale, he for one had no idea that America would relax her tariff"; but if the Corn-laws were once put upon a rational footing he had very little doubt that the Congress which was to meet in December would modify the tariff and enact measures so as to favour the introduction of British manufactures. He was convinced that it was impossible to overate the importance of this motion. To the decision of the House upon it the country was looking with great anxiety. The debate on the Budget had been most unsatisfactory, because the ministry had held out no hope of a reduction of the duties on imports. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, did, indeed, allude to the fact, that there was some improvement in the cotton trade; and some improvement there undoubtedly was, but no thanks to our legislation. It had so happened, that the cotton crop in America last year had been unusually great, and there was an importation of 749,000 bales into Liverpool this year, while last year only 510,000 bales had been imported. But the reason was, that in consequence of the increased crop, the price had fallen, and cotton was cheaper than at any former period, manufacturers had bought largely, money being abundant, and an increase of trade had accordingly taken place; but if the crop had been as much below the average as it was above, there would have been great embarrassment in the cotton trade. It could not be too often repeated that America, for the last ten years, had been reducing the duties on British imports, whilst we had not met them in a corresponding spirit; consequently, we had sacrificed our trade to our sliding-scale. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the depression of trade in this country; he (Mr. Thornely) would not admit that there would be any depression except for the restrictions on trade. Do away with them and allow your merchants and manufacturers to go forth freely and establish markets for themselves, and they would do so and establish a trade; but if they were shackled with restrictions of all kinds, restrictions on the corn trade, and restrictions on the sugar trade, and the rest which prevented them doing so, it could not be expected that our commerce should flourish.

Mr. Strutt

must say, in reply to the hon. Baronet, the Member for Shoreham (Sir C. Burrell), that the silk trade was not actuated by selfish or exclusive motives in their opposition to the Corn-laws. He had the honour to represent the town where the silk manufacture was first introduced, a century ago; and though, for several years, he had presented petitions from his constituents for the abolition of these laws, not one of them, he believed, failed to pray that the same measure might be dealt out to the manufacturers as to the corn-growers, all they asked being fair play. He had been the more anxious to state the grounds on which he supported the motion, because the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had made a powerful and earnest appeal to the House not to give their assent to so precipitate and sweeping fa motion, which must lead to the total abolition of the Corn-laws, and compared the conduct of the House, if they should do so, to the conduct of the French National Assembly on the 4th of August, when by one vote they destroyed all the privileges which were enjoyed by the higher classes in France. Now, he was anxious to state why he thought that charge to be wholly unfounded. On that (the Opposition) side of the House, the principle of buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest (which the right hon. Baronet supported), was considered to be exactly applicable to this question. What course, then, had been taken by hon. Members on his side? One of the very first motions of the Session had been that of his hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward) for a committee of inquiry into the burthens which pressed on the landed interest, in order to discover what they were, so that there might be grounds laid for legislation. They said to the landed proprietors, "Only let us have a statement of your own case as to these burthens, and what compensation you set against them, but let us have a committee chosen by yourselves, if you will." Now, he asked whether that was a precipitate or sweeping course, or like the course of the National Assembly of France on the occasion to which the right hon. Baronet had alluded. Had that committee been appointed, the very information wanted might have been obtained; but as it had been refused by Government, those who supported the motion for the committee, had no choice left but to follow up their own opinions, and adopt their own course. He had listened with some curiosity to hear the right hon. Baronet explain in what manner the malt duty fell upon the corn grower; but the right hon. Baronet had carefully avoided the main point, and had only contended that it did not fall upon the consumer. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to the burthen of poor-rates and of tithes, and spoke of them as another important ground for the imposition of a duty on corn. It appeared to him, looking at these taxes as having long existed upon property, as having especially existed during the last century, during which the corn-trade was comparatively free, and seeing that when the landed property was bought it was purchased subject to those burthens, and had been so handed down—he owned that it hardly appeared to him, according to the principles which he had heard the right hon. Baronet advocate in that House that those burthens did justify any taxes as a compensation. He well recollected, when the subject of Church-rates was before the House, that he was forcibly struck with the argument of the right hon. Baronet, when he said, "True, the Dissenters complain, and say that this tax is a burthen on land, but by what right do they complain, when they have purchased their property subject to this tax? The produce of this tax is a portion of the land reserved for the Church, and if the Dissenters wished to lay their hands on this portion they would be taking what was not their own. They, therefore, have no right to resist this tax; but if they did resist it, they would violate the property of others." The right hon. Baronet went on to ask whether, if he were to go to Scotland, and buy an estate subject to the payment of ecclesiastical dues to the established Church there, he would have a right to complain of having to defray that permanent charge. How this argument could be applicable to the case of the poor Dissenter, when he complained of a grievance, but not applicable to that of the wealthy landlord, when he claimed compensation, he (Mr. Strutt) was at a loss to conceive. If the right hon. Gentleman and the Government were prepared to come down to the House, and, acting upon the principles they themselves professed, would say that they would deal with corn as they would with all other commodities, and that they disapproved of the principle of protection altogether, and were prepared to act up to their principles, only claiming that it should be fully considered how they could be applied, so that the least injury could be inflicted on existing interests, if the right hon. Gentleman either now or at any future time would take such a proceeding, he would pay that attention which such a proposition as coming from a Government would deserve. The right hon. Gentleman, however, not only persisted in maintaining the existing law, but he refused inquiry into the burthens, on the ground of which he rested the protection he claimed. So long, therefore, as the right hon. Gentleman refused inquiry; he must act to the best of his judgment, and give his cordial support to the motion of his hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton. He thought that the opponents of the Corn-laws had reason to congratulate themselves, when they saw the conditions on which the question now rested, compared to those on which it was defended a few years ago. He remembered that he had sometimes since seconded the motion of his hon. Friend, and he then said that he looked upon it only as the beginning of a struggle, which might be protracted, hut which would lead only to one result. The motion was treated almost with ridicule, and it was hoped that after the large division then against the motion, the question would not be revived. Not only had he seen it revived, but he had seen two Governments coming forward to oppose a Corn-law, they had then joined to support; he had seen the right hon. Gentleman not even pledge himself beyond the present year to maintain a law which he had only passed in the last; and he had seen Members on both sides of the House showing such a strong and growing opposition to the Corn-law, that he was convinced it could not last. He entertained a strong opinion that no class in the country was so deeply interested in a change of this law as the farmers: he believed that if the law of 1815 had never been passed, they should at this moment see agriculture in an infinitely advanced state. He believed that if any system would be more injurious to any employment of capital than another, it was a constant change, which led persons to have no confidence in the permanence of the existing law. And this injurious consequence had been aggravated by the farmers being taught to look, not to their own exertions, but to the Legislature, to secure them a certain price, which it was thought to be equally its duty to maintain. And here he must refer to one argument in favour of a totally free trade in corn which had not been noticed. It appeared to him that when the formers were placed under the new system, and when rents were adjusted, the farmers themselves would be in a better position under a perfectly free trade than, perhaps, even under a fixed duty. Suppose 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 quarters to be the permanent amount wanted from abroad; then supposing that in that case the production of any one year were to exceed by that quantity the production of average years, the farmer would be relieved by the exclusion of foreign grain during that year, but if under the prohibitory system any surplus production took place, the farmer was not able to dispose of it either at home or abroad, and the consequence was a ruinous depression of prices, the consumer not being able to consume much more in a plentiful year than in any other. Although he should probably vote in a small minority at the present moment, he did not feel any de- spondency; the relief must be afforded, and he only trusted it would not be so long delayed as to inflict serious injury on the permanent interests of the country.

Sir Howard Douglas,

Sir, it was not my intention to trouble the House on this occasion, but the hon. Member for Dumfries has put a question to me, which it is not my intention to evade. Previously, however, to answering that question, I beg the permission of the House to make a few observations. I shall not take up the time of the House by going into the intricate questions, which, more or less govern the relations between the price of labour and the price of food, the effects of depression in the value of farm produce, on rent, agricultural improvement, and home production. I shall only assert, what no one can dispute, that a total repeal of the Corn-laws would displace, to an unlimited extent, British grown corn in the home market. This, the free-traders must admit, for if repeal did not act thus, it would not, as according to their theory, induce, or as they assert, compel, foreign governments to displace the productions of their manufacturing industry in their own markets, by admitting freely the productions of British manufacturing industry, in exchange for their surplus agricultural productions. If the total repeal, is not to displace British grown corn, by foreign grown corn, in the home market, what becomes of the theory of contemporaneous and coextensive exchange, even if this should be reciprocated by foreigners; and if this displacement be effected, whether reciprocated or unreciprocated, what is to become of British agriculture? I have, on former occasions, asserted, and no one will now attempt to dispute this, that foreign nations will not receive, freely, British manufactures, in exchange for their surplus agricultural produce, even if we were to receive it free, as the repeal proposes. Under these circumstances, the repeal of the Corn-laws, would doubly defraud British labour; it would displace the productions of British labour, in the home market, by the absence of protection; and it would exclude British productions from foreign markets, by the existence of protection there. There are not two sorts of free-trade. There cannot be a perfectly free foreign trade, and, at the same time, a protected home and colonial trade. We must make our election which to prefer. We cannot deprive the home producer of food, of the benefit of protection, by the repeal of the Corn-laws, to reduce the price of the productions of his industry, without a corresponding action upon all other productions, by which to give the agriculturalists the reciprocal compensation, of cheapening, to them, all other productions, by free foreign competition likewise. Free-trade in corn, then, means, and must be followed, if not immediately at least speedily, and inevitably, by free-trade in every thing else. This, therefore, is a large question, affecting the interests, not of any particular class, but of the whole community, and of vital importance to the empire. So far from relieving the distress which has unfortunately prevailed among the labouring population of this country—so far from preventing the recurrence of those vicissitudes which, if not past, are I trust passing, the total repeal of the Corn-laws Would vastly aggravate all existing evils, and produce others of the most formidable descriptions. And now to answer the question which the hon. Member for Dumfries has put to me, whether I have not recently received a mandate from a meeting of the Anti-Corn-law League, at Liverpool, calling upon me to support the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and what answer I have returned to that communication. Sir, on the grounds Which I have stated, 1 have replied, that, asserting the right, which I told the electors of Liverpool I would always exercise, of acting as their free representative, and not as their delegate, and convinced of the truth of what I am now asserting, I not only would not support the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, but do every thing in my power to defeat it: believing that not only the agricultural, but the manufacturing interest, and all other interests, would suffer, immeasureably and permanently, were this motion carried. I trust I know in what way agriculture, manufactures and commerce, act and react, upon each other; that they are closely interwoven; that neither can suffer any serious depression, without affecting, prejudicially, the others; but then I know that agriculture is the root of all; and that if its root be sapped, and its branches whithered, no other branch of our national industry can flourish; and that no greater evil could befall the manufacturing interests in particular, than the depression, or supersession of British agriculture, by an unlimited importation of foreign corn. 1 know the difference between the effects of cheapness of food produced by abundance of home production, and that cheapness which results from Unlimited foreign importation. The one quickens, the other deadens, the home market. England is England's best customer. The home market, says Adam Smith, is the best of all markets, and should be preferred to all, and. Huskisson terminates a powerful passage in one of his best speeches, which I will not read fully to the House, by saying," that to protect the small farmer, is ultimately to protect the people." The free traders opposite, however, persist in repudiating all protection; they say they have no protection, and that they desire none. This may be all very well for the cotton spinners, and the cotton printers; they may, if they please, desire to renounce the vast advantages of a home market, for the consumption of about 28,000,000l. sterling of their cottons; but what say the other interests? First of all the cotton manufactures, as well as all others, have protection in the colonial market, and in the home market, without which they could not compete with foreigners. What say the shipping interests? I call upon the representatives of that great national interest, in this House, to state, whether, to withdraw protection any further from British shipping, for the purpose of buying freight cheap, would not subvert the maritime power of England? Adam Smith says, " that the navigation laws are the wisest of all the laws of England, inasmuch as security and power are better than opulence." What say the hardware interests, represented by the hon. Members for Sheffield? I call upon them to answer me? The value of hardware, of all sorts, wrought and un-wrought, exported in 1841, was about 6,600,000l. sterling; but the value retained for home consumption was upwards of 11,000,000l. sterling. What say the leather interest, of whose productions about 432,000l. only was exported, and 13,0000,00l. consumed at home. The linen interests, of whose productions 8,000,000l. worth were retained for home consumption, being double the amount of the value exported. Then books, printing, paper, what say these interests? Of these, 14,000,000l. worth were retained for home consumption, and not half a million exported. Of the productions of our silk industry, 6,000,000l. worth were retained for home consumption, and not near a million in value exported. Of china, glass, and earthenware, only 1,000,000l. value Was exported, whilst 4,000,000l. value were retained for home consumption. Of saddlery and plate, 3,000,000l. value were consumed at home, against about 200,000l. exported. Of many miscellaneous articles, which I have classed together, 25,000,000l. value were consumed at home, against about 8,000,000l. value exported. And then the mining interests, what say they? Where are now the Members opposite, who advocated so warmly their interests in discussing the tariff last year? do they repudiate protection, with respect to the 21,000,000l. worth, at which the total produce of British mines is estimated, of which no less than 17,800,000l. value were retained for home consumption? And how much, I ask, of all this enormous value consumed in the home market, would continue to find profitable consumption and active reproduction, if free and unlimited importation of foreign articles, of like kinds, were permitted? It would produce the most unmitigated misery. I feel convinced that the distress which still prevails, is in great part owing to our having opened the sluices for the regulation of trade, a little too freely. I believe that the depression in the value of British labour, in relation to foreign labour, and the consequent deterioration in the physical and moral condition of the British labourer, arise from foreign competition; and that free-trade would still further depress British labour not only to, but beneath the level of the most wretched foreign serf. But free traders, reckless of all this, insist upon going on, reducing the price of production, labour one of its elements, to buy cheap, without regard to the country of origin, growth or production, for that to buy cheap, is to sell dear; and here I must advert to the manner in which the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government is frequently taunted with his observation on the advantage of buying in the cheapest market, as if, by this, he went all the length of their theory of buying cheap without regard to the country of origin, growth or production, or as to the nationality of the vessels employed in carrying. The right hon. Baronet's observation is a mere abstract proposition; a truism not to be denied. But I deny that, to buy cheap, is necessarily to sell dear, in an economic sense; and I assert that, in a national sense, this must very often be political prodigality; because it would be prodigal of security and power. In the practice of buying and selling, there must be two parties; each buys as cheap as the other can afford to sell, and sells as dear as the other can afford to buy; and these transactions, compounded together, bring out something like the exchangeable value of the subjects of the transaction. I by no means assert that we should refuse to buy any articles or materials which we can produce at home; because that, carried out to its extreme, would put an end to all external trade; but between this extreme, and the extreme of abolishing protection altogether, we should regulate our intercourse with foreign nations, by reciprocal engagements for a fair exchange of each others surplus productions, on principles of mutual advantage. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Warde) does not deny the existence, and the stringency of foreign tariffs, nor the advances and indications which we have made to foreign nations, on several occasions, to relax our several restrictive and prohibitive enactments on the principle of reciprocity, but which no foreign nation has fairly met. The hon. Member says that we began this too late: that in 1815 we had the whole game in our own hands; that the foreign protective systems were not then in existence, and that we might then have moulded our trade to suit our own purpose, by deterring foreigners from adopting the manufacturing system. This is a very great mistake, as I think I have already shown. The French protective system is at least as old as 1646. Colbert extended it in 1665. Then came Napoleon's continental system in 1806; his decrees in 1807; the establishment everywhere in France of that remarkable institution, which is now so stringent, a sort of commercial legislation, organized throughout France and centralized in Paris, namely, the Chambers of Manufactures, Commerce, and Agriculture, with the supreme councils, general and consultative, which must be consulted before any measure affecting commercial policy be propounded to the Legislative Chambers, and which advice no Government in France will dare to disregard. These remarkable institutions had their existence even before the Revolution; they were confirmed and extended in the year eleven of the Republic; affirmed by Louis 18th at the Restoration; made more efficient by Charles 10th; and never were so stringent, as now, under Louis Phillipe. I have already shown that the protective system in the United States, had its origin in Washington's time, and has been recommended by, and prosecuted under, every President, downwards to the present time; and I need not say how stringent the United States tariff is now. Then, with respect to the German League, Prussia being its primary, the protective system was introduced by Frederick 2nd. In Austria it is as old, at least, as Joseph 2nd. But I will not take up the time of the House in reviewing more of these. I repeat my assertion, that the foreign protective systems, from the rivalry and competition of which we are now suffering, were all established, or commenced, anterior to any discussions of this nature in this country; that they were interrupted in their progress by the war—that it was our naval superiority that broke down Napoleon's continental system; and that nothing that we could have done in 1815, would have prevented foreign nations from reverting, at the peace, to their principle of manufacturing for themselves, and that it is utterly out of our power, do what we may, to arrest the progress they are making, in rivalling us. I speak on the authority of sound practical men, when I say, that what this country now wants is not free-trade, but steadiness and confidence in the stability, at least for some years, of our commercial policy. We have abundance, superabundance of wealth; money, its symbol, seeking conversion into active capital, at the lowest rate of interest ever known, but cannot find profitable employment: labour languishing, and even famishing, for work, and cannot find it. The great problem we have to solve is, to bring these extremes together. What capitalist will adventure to do this, under the agitation, the assurance, or at least the dread, of perpetual change. Practical men of all theoretical persuasions deprecate any further change. The opinion of the present President of the United States, is no bad authority on this subject.— It cannot be too often repeated, that no system of legislation can be wise which is fluctuating and uncertain. Fitful profits, however high, if threatened with a ruinous reduction by a vacillating policy on the part of Government, will scarcely tempt the capitalist to trust the money which he has acquired by a life of labour upon the uncertain adventure. For myself, were I disposed to go further, which I am not, in the way of free trade, I should remain firm in my vote against any further change, until all agitation and excitement shall have ceased, and until the practical effects of recent changes, shall have been proved. I shall not allude to certain farces and other proceedings in appropriate quarters; but I may refer to the proceedings of a recent tea-drinking visit with which the League have favoured Liverpool. In a discourse made by the hon. and learned Member for Bolton, upon that occasion, adverting to a late stupendous explosion, which blew up one of the far-famed cliffs of Albion, the learned Member made a very significant allusion to the popular action by which, it appears, the mountain mass of monopoly is to be blown up. The learned Gentleman said,— And what had the people been doing? They, too, had been digging under the basis of the mountain mass of monopoly. There were many magnificent sights in nature—the heaving of the sea, the rise of the sun—but in his view, nothing was so great, nothing so noble, nothing so exalting, as the heaving of the popular mind; and here he witnessed one of its noblest efforts. Now will the learned Doctor say, what are to be the ingredients of his political gunpowder. It cannot be compounded of reason, moderation, and sense, because these are not explosive in their nature; they act benignly, not destructively, gradually; not violently and suddenly. How, then, are these mines to be charged?—per adventure by physical force — where? How? By a species of political electricity, fired by animal magnetism ! But really, Sir, this is too serious a subject for jesting. We see, however, that it is determined to try, by popular agitation and excitement, to bring all monopoly, as it is called, to a sudden end. This only I shall say, in conclusion, that the repeal of the Corn-laws, followed as it must be, by the repeal of all protection, would so alter all the relations between debtor and creditor, whether individual or national; so depress the. price of all commodities, and raise that of money; so alter all the relations between landlord and tenant, master and servant, mortgager and mortgagee, national and individual, as to render it absolutely impracticable to raise taxes to pay the interest of the national debt, and to provide for active revenue purposes; and that bringing monopoly, as it is called, to a sudden and total extermination, as the Leaguers propose, would bring national credit to a violent death, and this great empire to an untimely end.

Mr. Muntz

said, the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Douglas) was right. We did want confidence and stability, but the hon* Gentleman had not condescended to tell where that confidence and stability were to come from. Was it from a starving population Was it from an unprofitable trade and a sinking revenue? He could see nothing in those to give confidence or stability. It had not been his intention originally to take part in this debate. His intention had been to give a silent vote in favour of the motion of his hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton. He would give that vote, not because he objected to the protection claimed by hon. Gentlemen on the other side, not because he thought that protection too large, but because they took that protection upon principles which were not in accordance with right, or the principles of Christianity, because they protected themselves without protecting others. He had listened most attentively to the course of the debate, but he had yet to learn why they required protection for one class of the community more than another, and he was no more instructed now than at the commencement of the debate. They denied protection to labour. He admitted, that it was partially protected. But let them look at the protection of all those concerned in the export trade. He had read over the debate of 1815, when the Corn-laws were first enacted, and it confirmed him in his convictions on this subject. They, the then supporters of the intended Corn-laws, said, that by fixing the price of corn, they would fix the price of labour. Now, he asked them, had they fixed the price of labour? If they had, they would have done what was just, upright, and honest. If they had no trade, but an. internal trade, they might have protected and fixed the price of labour, by fixing the average price of corn. But let them look at the variation in the price of labour now, and that of 1815. Let them look at the difference between the labourer for the home market, and the labourer for the foreign market. Let them look at the labourers who were employed on home labour, the carpenters, masons, bricklayers, &c, who were wholly employed on home labour, and they would find their wages had not been reduced more than one-fifth in the last twenty-five years; but contrast their condition with that of the labourers who were employed in Birmingham, at the artisans who were employed in manufactures, the production of articles of export; their industry was not protected, they were forced to compete with the labourers of the continent, and their wages were not reduced one-fifth, but to one-fifth. Their wages were reduced four-fifths. Labour was not protected. It had been said, that the Corn-law was not a Christian law, and he believed it. No law could be a Chris- tian law, that did not support the interests of the poor in preference to those of the rich. It was a fundamental principle of Christianity that the poor should have the preference. Now, he would ask, if the poor had the preference in the enactment of the Corn-law? He would ask, if they had the preference in the general legislation of the country? They had not. Whenever a new law was passed, there was always a leaning in favour of the rich. It could not be expected to be otherwise. Who made the laws? It was the old fable of the lion and the man. The lion said, let us make the statue, and we will make the lion striding over the man; and so long as the rich alone made the laws, they would naturally lean to their own interest. He did not charge hon. Members with an intention of doing wrong. He had no idea, that the Members of that House wished to do wrong to the people. He believed, that the great majority of them wished to do right, but they were mistaken, and that led them into the passing of laws which were most unjust. One reason for his speaking was, that he had been frequently referred to in the course of this debate. He did not object to have references made, either to what he had said, or to what he had written. He never either said or wrote anything which he did not believe to be true, and he never recommended any one else to submit to what he would not willingly have done himself under similar circumstances. He had heard many remarks from gentlemen representing constituencies nearly as large as his own, all bearing witness to the great distress existing among them. It had been said, that that distress was diminishing. Now, it was his duty to his constituents to state, not only that the distress in Birmingham had not diminished, but that there was not the least prospect of its diminishing, it was continually increasing. He spoke this from his own knowledge. There was not a single article connected with the trade of Birmingham that was not cheaper now than it it had ever been. There was not the remotest appearance of improvement. In general, a purchaser had but to name his own price, and at that price he might purchase the article. It had been said, that trade was improving in Manchester. He had been surprised to hear it, and he had taken pains to make inquiries on the subject and in answer to those inquiries, he found that, with one exception, every person he asked believed the improvement to be speculative, and that in reality every branch of trade was in a state of stagnation. What had caused the appearance of improvement was the speculative demand, a demand without any foundation—for goods for the India and China market. He had seen a gentleman who had left China only last November, and that Gentleman had entirely corroborated the views which be had previously entertained as to the prosperity of the trade with China. That Gentleman said, that so far from our trade with China being likely to increase, it would most probably contract; and the reason given for that opinion was one very easy to understand. The increase in trade during the war had been very considerable, and the reason of it was this: in consequence of the war the prices of tea had advanced, and in consequence of that advance in price, the exports had been greater than usual, and an increase of trade had been the consequence. Our goods, indeed, had not been introduced by our own houses, but they had been introduced through the American houses, and those houses had received a commission. Now, the trade would be lessened from the reduction in the price of tea, and the payments the Chinese had to make to us would diminish the power of purchasing. There were also other circumstances to be taken into the account of far greater moment, and deserving the most serums consideration of both the House and the Government. We were completely superseded in the article of common woollens by Russia, which could supply them by land cheaper than we could —while domestic cloth could be furnished both to India and China at a cheaper rate by the Americans than they could by ourselves; for the Americans were at this moment successfully competing with our last year's lowest prices of domestic cottons in. Calcutta and Bombay, although they paid an extra import duty there; therefore, the trade now engaged in was a speculative trade, occasioned by the cheapness of the raw material, and the low value of money, and not by any legitimate demand, and therefore he thought that it would occasion loss to the parties concerned in it, and be of no benefit to the country. With reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Kent, as to the prior claim of the landlords to protection, because they had to make settlements on their daughters, surely he could not be serious; the right hon. Gentleman ought not to forget that they all had daughters as well as himself. Surely, that was not an argument for upholding the Corn-laws. There had been only one other noticeable speech on the other side, upon the subject of an individual right to protection, and that was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. He was sorry to find so much sophistry in that speech upon a subject of such a serious nature. He would, with the leave of the House, take the right hon. Baronet's grounds seriatim, and endeavour, by a little common sense to unrobe them of their superficial clothing. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman said, that the tithe was a burthen that gave the landed interest a claim to protection. Now, surely the tithe had from time immemorial belonged to the Church. All the land that had been purchased, had been purchased subject to tithe. How that could give a right to protection, he could not understand. Now, there were the rates. He acknowledged that the rates were a burthen upon the land, to a certain extent, but when, as had been stated on the opposite benches that night, it was recollected the much larger number employed in agriculture than in manufactures, it would be found that it was a burthen, but not an exclusive burthen; every class was subject to rates. He himself paid 3001. a-year poor rates. Then there was the malt-tax—now how that could be a burthen upon the land, he could not understand. If ever there was a tax that was completely paid by the consumer, it was the malt-tax, and if that tax were repealed to-morrow, the price of barley would not vary a fraction, being really regulated by the import duty and crop. The right hon. Baronet had made a comparison between the malt tax and a tax imposed upon cotton, and had said that the latter would be objectionable, although it would be paid by the consumer; that was true, but did not the right hon. Baronet recollect that a great proportion of the cotton manufactured was exported, to be consumed abroad, and must compete with foreign labour? Then there was the burthen of the poor, who were sometimes returned from the manufacturing districts to the agricultural districts, by superannuation, or illness, or want of employment. He admitted that that was a burthen, but what was that to be put against 60,000,000l. per annum, the amount the landed inter- est acquired from the Corn-laws more than the amount which a free-trade and continental prices would give them? He admitted that that sum was not lost to the country, it did not go out of the country, but he would tell them what was done with it. It was taken from industry and given to idleness—and no man could say that that was a principle of justice or of Christianity. The right hon. Baronet had said that the Corn-law in 1836 had not prevented prosperity, and that the present distress was owing, not to the Corn-laws, but to diminished power of consumption. He admitted that the distress was owing to diminished power of consumption; but the right hon. Baronet ought to have gone a step further, and have told them to what that diminished power of consumption was owing. He believed that the right hon. Baronet knew the cause, and he would convict him out of his own mouth, for at the close of the last Session he had said, that he could produce temporary prosperity by an issue of one pound notes; and he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that by such means a temporary prosperity might be produced, and also that it would be very temporary. That assertion was uncalled for, and he could hardly tell what could have made the right hon. Baronet volunteer such a statement. If he knew how to produce a temporary state of prosperity by depreciating the value of the circulation, he ought to devise means of making that temporary prosperity permanent. He begged to remind the House, that he had not the slightest shade of party feeling in his composition, neither had he any prejudice against the right hon. Baronet's person or Government; but differing from him as he did, in opinion, upon many very important subjects, he, as a Member of that House, and the representative of a large constituency,—and, he was sorry to have to say, although a very intelligent, yet a very miserable constituency—he was in the habit of taking cognizance of every thing that came before the House, and, he hoped the House considered, in as gentlemanly a manner as was possible. He was not in the House the night the budget was brought forward, and he trusted hon. Members would excuse him if he did just allude to it. The right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government had last year spoken very sanguinely of the result of this year's financial proceeds, and the House ought, in considering the budget, to look at his expectations and intentions; but those expectations had not been realised. If it had not been for a property-tax, which brought in 1,500,000l. more than calculated upon, and the duties on corn, which brought into the exchequer 1,300,000l., and the China money 500,000l., the revenue would indeed have been miserably deficient. There were two ways of being deceived—one by others, another by yourself, the latter being much the most injurious. He thought the right hon. Baronet had deceived himself, and he thought the budget of this year proved it. How often, during the last two years, had he cautioned the House not to look at the black side of things! How often had he come down, and acknowledged his disappointment that no improvement or reaction took place! And only in the last budget, he had said he would be careful how he expressed himself sanguinely again, after the lesson he had lately had; and yet the House was called upon to expect great things from those who had so constantly and entirely deceived them. He never found the anticipations Government realised, and he had been listening to their sanguine declarations for the last twenty-five years. If they spoke truly, they would do what they never did before. He did not see the slightest probability of improvement in the condition of the people —everything looked black and miserable. There was an increase of crime—less labour—every nation competing successfully with the manufacturers of this country—and with all this, an increase of population. They had been told, and most correctly, by the right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, that three millions of bullion had already been sent from this country to America, and that if the Corn-laws were repealed, there would be a much greater drain. He quite agreed with this statement. It was a great mistake to suppose that a free-trade in com would immediately produce an increased export of manufactures. The first payment would be made in the article which paid best to export, and that would be bullion to such an extent, that the bank would be forced to contract the circulation, and reduce our prices even much lower that at present. Then we should have increased exports without profits or remuneration; the Americans having once determined upon having gold and silver money, had acted very shrewdly in increasing their import duties, for by that plan only could they get it; they not only were | taking our bullion, but they would take much more, for we must have their pro-dace. Yet, in the face of all this, up starts the hon. Member for Bath, and says it is a mere chimera to expect free-trade to cause an export of gold. He had been forty years in business. He had a fair opportunity of understanding business— manufacturing and mercantile. He congratulated himself on having a habit of looking at things as they were; yet in this House, and in whatever company he went, out of it, everybody seemed to know his business better than he did himself. Every doctor, every parson, and every lawyer, knew the principles and routine of business better than he did, who had worked hard at it for nearly forty years. The hon. Member for Bath had stated a great many things which nobody else believed or would agree to. He had said last year, on the Property-tax debate, that neither credit nor secrecy were of any importance to a tradesman. He might practise very successfully in other courts, but he felt certain he never would succeed in the court of commerce. There appeared something mavellously strange in the word circulation; for he having lately accidentally taken up a book which treated upon the circulation of the blood, was reminded, that when Hervey discovered the circulation of the blood, there was no physician, or apothecary, or barber, that did not endeavour to write down the new discovery. But Hervey was right, and the circulation of blood went on still, not at all affected by these arguments. So it was with the circulation of money. There was a degree of ignorance upon the subject, which was unaccountable, and every barber ridiculed the opinions of those who had studied the subject, although the proper circulation of money was as important to the social well-being, as that of blood was to the body. The right hon. Baronet might legislate as he pleased for the Corn-laws, or against the Corn-laws; but if ever he legislated successfully for the permanent prosperity of the country, without considering corn and money together, he would submit to be called the grossest idiot that ever stood upon two legs. He warned the House and the Government. The handwriting was on the wall. What had passed during the debate convinced him more and more that he was right in his idea—that if they continued the present monetary system, whether they repealed the Corn- laws or not, their estates would be taken from them, and given to others.

Mr. Cobden

said: I think we may fairly consider the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham as an episode in this debate. I was going to remark that by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and by many upon this side of the House, although we have had five nights' debate, the question proposed by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton has been scarcely touched, that is, how far you are justified in maintaining a law, which restricts the supply of food to the people of this country. In supporting the present Corn-law, you support a law which inflicts scarcity on the people. You do that, or you do nothing. You cannot operate in any way by this law, but by inflicting scarcity on the people. Entertain that proposition, and you cannot escape it, and if it is true, how many of you will dare to vote for the continuance of the present law? You cannot enhance the price of corn, or any other article, but by restricting the supply. Are you justified in doing this, for the purpose of raising your prices? Without attributing motives to hon. Gentlemen opposite, I tell them, and they may rely upon it as being true, that they are in a false position when they have to deprecate the imputation of motives. We never hear of a just judge on the bench fearing the imputation of motives. But I will not impute motives, although they have been imputed by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Dowries, settlements, mortgages have all been avowed as motives from the benches opposite; but I will take things as I find them. Upon what ground do you raise the price of corn? For the benefit of the agricultural interest? You have not, in the whole course of the debate, touched upon the farmers' or agricultural labourers' interest in this question? No; hon. Gentlemen opposite, who represent counties, instead of taking up the old theme and showing the benefit of this law to farmers and to farmers' labourers, have been smitten with a new light. They have taken the statistics of commerce and the cotton trade to argue from. Will the hon. Member for Shoreham, who took the statistics which the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), four years ago, cast aside, tell the House how it is you do not take the agricultural view of the question, and show the farmers' interest in it? There is something ominous in your course. Shall I tell you the reasen? Because the present condition of the farmers and labourers of this country is the severest condemnation of the Corn-laws that can possibly be produced. During the whole operation of this law, or during that time when prices were highest under this law, the condition of the agricultural labourers was at the worst. [Cries of" No."] An hon. Gentleman opposite says " No." Has he looked at the state of pauperism of this country in the last return which was laid before the House? There he will find that up to Lady-day, 1840, the proportion of paupers in the different counties in this country showed that the ten which stood highest in the list were ten of the purely agricultural counties, and that after your law had for three years maintained corn at 67s. per quarter. If anything could have benefitted the labourer, it should have been three years of high prices, and after trade had suffered the greatest depression in consequence of your law. If the agricultural labourer had not prospered up to the year 1840, what has been his condition since? The returns of pauperism show an increase in the number of the poor; and what is the present condition of the labourer in the agricultural districts? Is not crime increasing in the same proportion as pauperism has increased? 1 heard it stated, that the actual returns of your petty sessions and your assizes furnish no criterion as to the state of demoralization in your districts; nay, I heard that such was the extent of petty pilfering and crime, that you are obliged to wink at it, or you would not be able to carry out the business of your criminal courts. [" No, no."] I heard that both in Somersetshire and in Wiltshire. [" No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen may cry, No, no," but there is an intelligent audience outside which knows that I am stating the truth. And what are the crimes these poor people are brought up for? Why, one old woman for stealing sticks of the value of 1½d. was sentenced to a fine of 15s. Another ease was a charge for stealing turnip tops; and at Chichester an individual had been convicted of stealing mould from the Duke of Richmond. Such was the state of poverty, and distress, that they were glad to steal the very earth. Again, what was the fact urged by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) in extenuation of the condition of his labouring poor but this? that he allowed them to gather up the sticks which were blown from the trees in his park. It was brought forward as a proof of the hon. Member's benevolence that he allowed his labourers to gather the crows' nests which were blown from the trees; and what does all this argue? Why, it argues that which you cannot deny, namely, that the agricultural peasantry of this country are in a state of the deepest suffering at this moment, and that if there has been any benefit from the Corn-laws, they at least have not derived one particle of a share of it. 1 now come to the farmer, and I ask how it is that you who support this law have not adduced the case of the farmer? Are there no farmers' friends present who will state his condition? You know that his capital is wasting away—that he cannot employ his labourers—and why? Because that money which should go to pay them is absorbed in your rents. [" No, no."'] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cry " No, no," but the farmers of this country will corroborate me, and that you well know. Does the hon. and gallant Member for Sussex (Colonel Wyndham) say "No"? If so, I leave the farmers of Sussex to say whether I am tittering the truth or not. [Colonel Wyndham; " Go to Sussex."] The hon. and gallant Member tells me to go to Sussex. I mean to do so, and perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will meet me there. Now, I want to ask what benefit the farmer ever derived from the Corn-laws? I have asked the question of hundreds, nay thousands of farmers, and as I am now in the presence of landlords, I ask it of you. I ask you to go back to the Corn-law of 1815. What was the object of the Corn-law of 1815? Why, to keep up the price of wheat at 80s. per quarter. Did it produce that effect? No, for in 1822, seven years afterwards wheat was sold as low as 42s., and yet your agents and valuers valued to your tenants upon the calculation that they would get 80s. per quarter for their wheat. You cannot deny that? And what was the consequence? Why, in 1822, the farmers were ruined by hundreds, and thousands. One newspaper in Norwich contained 120 advertisements of the sale of stock in one day. The farmers then came to ask you for another law. You appointed committees, you went through the farce of inquiring into agricultural distress, and you passed another law, that of the year 1828, giving the sliding-scale protection to secure them 64s. per quarter or their wheat; and then, again, the red-tape men went about to value your farms on the calculation that the price obtained would be 64s. Another seven years elapsed, and then wheat was selling at 36s. Then came general distress again, and an application for a fresh committee. You gave them another act; and I now come to the act passed in 1841 by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and now the farmers are again distressed, and blame the right hon. Baronet for deceiving them. [" No, no."] They do blame, and they are justified in blaming the right hon. Baronet, and I will tell you why. The right hon. Baronet in the speech in which he proposed that law, said that he intended it to give to the farmer, as far as legislation could give it, 56s. per quarter for his corn. Now, the right hon. Baronet will remember that I called his attention at the time to that point. I saw the importance of it then, and I see it now, and I wish the House to see clearly how the matter stands. The right hop. Baronet said, that on taking a comprehensive view of the cost of production and the then state of the country, he thought if he could secure the farmer a price not rising higher than 58s. nor going lower than 54s., that these were about the prices the farmer ought to obtain. It is true, that afterwards, in the course of the same speech, the right hon. Baronet said, that no legislation could secure that price. Now, I do not charge the right on. Baronet with intending to deceive the farmers, I do not attribute motives to the right hon. Baronet; but this I do say, that in dealing with plain and simple men, men accustomed to straightforward and intelligible language, this was calculated, however intended, to mislead the farmers in their calculations. But it was a most convenient thing for the landlords to go to the tenant with a promise to secure him 56s. per quarter for his wheat; and it was very convenient for the right hon. Baronet to say, at the same time, that though the law purports to give you 56s. per quarter, still I have not the power to secure it to you. And now, what is the price? 45s. or 46s., instead of 56s. The right hon. Baronet distinctly says now, he never intended to maintain the price, and that he could not maintain it. Now, then, I ask, what is this legislation for? 1 ask what it means?—what it has meant from 1815 downwards? I will not say what the motives of its promoters have been; but the effect has been one continued juggle played off upon the farmers, enabling the landlords to obtain artificial rents, which, being paid out of the farmer's capital, occasions loss to him, while the landlords are enabled to profit by it owing to the competition among tenants for farms. We will not separate this night until we have a perfect understanding of what you do propose to do for the farmer. I ask the right hon. Baronet opposite, when he talks of the prices which the farmers should obtain, whether he can prevent wheat from falling as low as 36s.?—whether he can ensure it from falling as low as 30s.? As the right hon. Gentleman says nothing, I will assume that this House cannot secure to the farmer a price of even 30s. per quarter. Let this go forth; let there be, if you please, no ambiguity upon the point—no more deception; let the farmer perfectly understand that his prosperity depends upon that of his customers—that the insane policy of this House has been to ruin his customers, and that acts of Parliament to keep up prices are mere frauds to put rents into the landlords' pockets, and enable him to juggle his tenants. Now, we shall soon be able to dispose of some other sophistries upon the Corn-laws. We are told that the Corn-laws are intended to compensate certain parties for excessive burthens. That is to say, that the landowners, who have had the absolute command of the legislature of the country, and who, to a late period, did not permit a man to vote unless he swore he was a land-owner, — have been such disinterested angels (for no human beings would do as much) as to lay excessive burthens upon their own shoulders; and when they found it necessary to re-adjust taxation and relieve themselves, they do it by passing a Corn-law, and then come forward and confess that the law is inoperative. Now, in the first place, [say that the disinterestedness of the landlords in this instance surpasses all human perfection; it is perfectly angelical. But, unfortunately, the contrary to the proposition of excessive burthens falling on land is so notorious that to say a word upon the subject would be a work of supererogation. Let a copy of the statutes be sent, if it were possible, to another planet, without one word of comment, and the inhabitants of that sphere would at once say, " These laws were passed by landlords." The partiality of your legislation is notorious; but, if you had been really so disinterested, is it not likely, when you found out your real condition, that you would have put taxation fairly upon the shoulders of the people, instead of substituting a clumsy law, which you admit does not reimburse you at all? Now we come to another view of this question. We have the confessions of the right hon. Baronet the Paymaster of the Forces, (Sir E. Knatchbull), and of the hon. Member for Wiltshire, (Mr. Benett,) the one to the effect that the Coin-law goes to pay marriage settlements, and the other that it goes to pay mortgages. Now, if it goes to pay these, how can it pay the farmer? And if you can't insure the operation of the law, if after you have passed it you are obliged to confess that you cannot insure its operation, why, then, who pays the dowries and the settlements? Why, in that case, they must be paid out of the pockets of the farmers. You have confessed that a law cannot secure prices, but as mortgages and settlements are paid, then I say that you have confessed that the money comes from the farmers, and surely this is sufficient to account for their distress. I contend, then, that if this law creates a profit at all, that profit passes into rent. And this proposition rests on more than the admission of the Paymaster of the Forces, or of the hon. Member for Wiltshire. We have other acknowledgments of the fact coming from still higher authority. See a transaction of Mr. Gladstone, of Fasque, in Kincardineshire, of which I have an account in a paper in my pocket. Mr. Gladstone was applied to to reduce his rents, and he writes a letter to his agent telling him, and his confession is worth something, as coming from a prudent and sagacious merchant, telling him that he did not look at the alteration in the Corn-law as calculated to reduce prices, and that consequently he did not feel himself bound to reduce his rents. Now this is a clear admission that the benefit from the law goes into the shape of rent. But this is not all! There is his Grace the Duke of Richmond. The other day he was visiting his tenants in Scotland, dining with them, and looking over his estates, and in one of his speeches he told them, whilst speaking of the alteration in the Corn-law, that he was not the man to hold his tenants to any bargain they had made under circumstances which had been altered, and that if they wished it he was willing that they should throw up their leases and return their farms into his hands. Now what does that amount to? Why, merely that the Corn-law influences the rent! It means that or nothing; although I must say such a speech shows very little care for the farmer, who perhaps a dozen years ago purchased stock and went into his farm, and is now told, when probably the price of his stock has fallen 40 per cent., that if he pleases he may sell off, leave his farm, retire from his connexion with the noble Duke, and get another landlord where he may. All this shows, then, that if the Corn-law operates to cause a profit at all, it also operates to put that profit into the pockets of the landlord. Now do not suppose that I wish to deprive you of your rents; I wish you to have your rents; but what I say is, don't come here to raise them by Legislative enactments. I think you may have as good rents without a Corn-law as with it, and what I say is this, that when you come here to raise the price of corn under the pretence of helping the farmer and the farm labourer, whilst in reality you are only going to help yourselves, then, I say, you are neither dealing fairly by the farmer, nor yet by the country at large; and, mind me, this is just the position in which you stand with the country. You have deceived the farmers, and, feeling that you have deceived them, they have a right to ask, how you intend to benefit them?—nay, more, they have a right to inquire into your rentals, and find out how you have benefitted yourselves. [" Oh, oh!"] Yes, I say they have a right to inquire into your rentals. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Sussex (Col. Wyndham) laughs, and truly it would be laughable enough were he to come to me to inquire into the profits of my business; but, then, he should remember that I do not ask for a law to enhance the profits of my business. He, on the contrary, is the strenuous supporter of a law which, in its effect—whatever may be its intention—benefits his own class and no other class whatever. This language, I dare say, is new to the House. I dare say it is strange and unexpected in this place; but it is the language I am accustomed to use on this subject out of doors, and I do not wish to say anything behind your backs that I am not prepared to say before your faces. And here let me ask what progress has been made in rents? Since 1793 rents in this country have doubled. I have returns in my pocket sent in by the clergy of Scotland, from which it appears that the rental of that country has increased in the same time three-fold. [Hear.'] In England rents have not increased to that extent; but I can say with safety that they have more than doubled; [Hear, hear;] and there is something beyond even this. You have had a considerable advance in rents since 1828. There has been a great rise since that year. I hold in my hand a return of the rents of the corporation lands of the city of Lincoln since 1828. I see the hon. Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp) in his place. Now, I have a return of the property of the city corporation, it is nearly all agricultural property, and I find that that rental has increased 50 per cent. since the year 1829. Now, I do not say that the whole rental of the kingdom has increased in the same proportion, but I do say that we have a right to inquire what is the increase in that rental. [Colonel Sibthorp.—" But I won't tell you."] The hon. Member for Lincoln says he won't tell me; but I will tell him that nothing is so easy as to learn the history of rents in this country, for there is scarcely a village in England in which there is not some old man who can tell what was the price of land in his parish through many succeeding years. I say it is the business of the farmer and the poor labourer to know the progress which rents have made since the Corn-law passed, and if they find that whilst in the one case they are losing all their capital, and in the other their condition is deteriorating, and they are obliged to put up with a potatoe diet; if they find, I say, that whilst this has been going on, rents have increased and are increasing, then I contend, they will have a proof that this law was passed for the landlords, and that it operates for their benefit and their benefit only. I know that this is a sore subject; but I am bound to make it known that this is not the only way in which you have profited by political delusions. I will now show you another view of the question. You have made the Corn-law the subject of political outcry in the counties. You have made it a Church and State question, and at the same time you have made the farmers your stepping-stones to political power. And for what has this been done? I will take the last general election. At the last election the " farmers' friends" were running through the country, and with the purest and most disinterested intentions, no doubt, were making all sorts of promises to the agriculturists. " Well," said the hon. Member, " well there they are." There they are, some of them sitting on the Treasury Bench. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government (Sir R. Peel), he made a speech at Tamworth as " the farmers' friend." The hon. Member for Essex (Sir John Tyrell) says he quoted it repeatedly, but I don't think he quotes it now. As for the right hon. Baronet, however, with all his ability, and with his thirty years' Parliamentary experience, he might probably have obtained the situation he now holds whatever might have been the circumstances of the time. The post was due to him, perhaps, for his talents; so of him I shall say no more just now. But there is another right hon. Baronet very near him; I mean the Paymaster of the Forces (Sir E. Knatchbull). There is no disturbing force in him. The right hon. Member is the " farmers' friend." There he sits. O I was struck the other night at the fervour with which the hon. Member for Wallingford (Mr. Blackstone) apostrophised this " farmers' friend," when, with clasped hands and uplifted eyes, he said, "O if the Paymaster of the Forces were himself again! A few years back he would not have treated the farmer so." [Cries of " Question."] Question ! ay, it is not a very pleasant one, certainly; but it is the question. I don't complain of the Paymaster of the Forces; I have no reason. He has made a speech which is more to the point, which is better calculated to serve the cause than anything that has occurred in this debate, excepting, perhaps, his own explanation. I don't complain of him; I pass on. There is a noble Duke (Duke of Newcastle) who is a " farmers' friend," and he has a son (Lord Lincoln) in the woods and forests. The noble Lord, I dare say, performs his duty efficiently; but I want to show the farmers of England—of whom there is not one genuine specimen in this House— who they are who profit by this law. Well, then, there is a noble Duke (Buckingham) who is the " farmers' friend" par excellence. He has reached the summit of rank already. He has no son requiring a place under Government. But one prize he had not, and that he soon obtained—I mean the blue ribband. Now, these are but the outward and visible signs of the gains of this triumph; but whilst all this patronage, and all these honours have been showered on the " farmers' friends," what have the farmers got themselves? [Cries of " Question."] You think this is not the question, but I can tell you we have no hope of the salvation of the country but by showing the farmers how you have cajoled them. You taught the farmers to believe, that if they elected you, their " friends" to Parliament, you would speedily repay them for their trouble. They allowed themselves to be driven to the poll by their landlords who raised this cry; they believed the landlords could by act of Parliament keep up the price of corn. Will you now confess that you cannot? You have confessed by your silence that you cannot guarantee the farmer even 30s. a quarter. That delusion is at an end. How is it now, that the farmers cannot carry on their business, without political intermeddling, like other people? " Throw the land out of cultivation" by removing the Corn-law! who say that? The worst farmers in the country. The landlords, rather, of the worst farmed land. Who tell us that the land will not be thrown out of cultivation? The landlords of the best farmed land. I put one prophecy against the other. (I do not think we have anything to do with them). Let the question be decided as are other matters, by competition. I object to your pretences for keeping up the price of corn. Those who are most rampant for protection are the landlords, I repeat, of the worst farmed land, the Members for Wilts, Dorset, Bucks, Somersetshire, and Devonshire—the worst farming in the kingdom; and why is it so? Not because the tenants are inferior to those elsewhere—Englishmen are much the same anywhere; but the reason is there are political landlords, —men who will not give their tenants a tenure, but with a view to general elections. [No.] You say, " No," but I will prove it. Go into the country yourselves, and where you find the best farmed land, there you find the longest leases. The Lothians, Northumberland, Norfolk, Lincoln. [Colonel Sibthorp: "No,no." What, no leases in Lincolnshire? [Colonel Sibthorp: "Not long leases."] Exactly; I mentioned Lincoln last as being nearer south. Well, on the estates of the Duke of Northumberland, for example, you will find no long leases, and the worst farming; and you will find with long leases good farming even in the midst of bad—and vice versa. This is unpalatable of course. [" It is not true."] Hon. Gentlemen say-it is not true. I ask them if they expect farmers to farm well without long leases? Can you really expect tenants to lay out capital in draining and improvements without long leases? I should feel insulted if any body offered me a farm, expecting me to lay out money without the security of a lease. What is the language of the farmers themselves? You must not treat them now as if they believed you " the farmers' friends." Did you hear the petition I presented from Dorsetshire, agreed to at a meeting of 3,000 farmers and others, and signed by the chairman, a landholder, for the total repeal of the Corn-laws? This could not be treated as a farmer's question. We will have it put upon a proper footing from this very night. The Corn-law, if it does anything, raises rents. I do not come here to tell you it does so. 1 do not think you understand your own interests. But I know this, that you inflict the greatest possible amount of evil upon the manufacturing and mercantile community, and do no good to either the farmer, or the farmer's labourer. It may be a very unpalatable question; but what, I ask, are the terms which you wish to make on the new law with your tenants? I do not like the language I have heard upon the subject from landowners. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) said, the protection had been reduced; but I have heard little talk, at least in public, about reducing rents. However, I have heard a great deal about the farmers " improving, and curtailing their expenses." What says the Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Barneby)? I have been in Yorkshire, and the worst land there produces as much as the best in this country. What, again, was the language of a noble Earl (Verulam) at St. Alban's? You must no longer sit before your doors with your pipes in your mouths, and drinking your ale, but you must at once bestir yourselves. What said the Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles), who sometimes ap- pears here in the character of the " farmmers' friend?" that In Scotland they have double our crops, and that this might be secured in this country by improved husbandry. Now, this is not fair language on the part of landowners to farmers; for if protection be reduced, the farmers have a right to reduced rents; and if not, let us hear what is the intention of the Corn-law? We have heard a great deal of ambiguity, during the debate, from the right hon. Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Gladstone), but we have not yet heard what the Corn-law and the tariff have done. At one time we hear an avowal of reduced prices; next (like putting forward one foot, and then withdrawing it, and advancing the other to erase the foot-trace) we hear that credit was not taken for that. This might not be intended, but it certainly is calculated to deceive the farmers. But the right hon. Gentleman said, " Whether the tariff has reduced prices or not, prices had been reduced; and there had been no reason to complain." This sort of ambiguity is not the way now to deal with the farmers. Gentlemen must not regard this as a battle between the farmers and the manufacturers. We propose to make good friends with the farmers. Yes; we are their best friends, their only friends, their best customers, and I can tell you this, they are beginning to be sick of the political landlords. There's a small section of this House now setting themselves up as the real farmers' friends, upon the ruins of the old friendship; and I can say this, that so badly have they been treated, that they are now inclined to suspect even these new friends; and they say, " What are they after? Don't you think they want to get up a party? Ben't they wishing to make themselves troublesome to the Minister, that he may fancy it worth while to offer them something?" The farmers are now disposed to distrust every body who promises them anything; and the reason they are ready to look on us with friendly eyes is, that we never promised them anything. We tell them distinctly that legislation can do nothing for them. It is a fraud. They must never allow bargaining for leases and rents to be mixed up with politics. They must deal with their landlords as with their wheelwrights and sadlers, with a view to business and business alone. I am fully aware that I have said more than may be quite agreeable to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I think it is but fair to exculpate ourselves from the imputations that have been cast upon us by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) and the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, that we are seeking for a monopoly for ourselves, as well as to deprive others of their monopoly. Now, what I have to say is this, we want no monopoly; and this I know, that the moment I go amongst the farmers, and say we are for a free trade in coffee, in sugar, in manufactures, in everything, then the farmers like honest and just men as they are, at once exclaim, "That is right, that is fair!" Now I only say this, but I complain of something else. There was a singular evasion of the question by the right hon. Baronet (Sir it. Peel) when he talked of colonial maufactures and colonial produce, and mixed them up with the corn question. Now, what we want is a free trade in everything. Then the right hon. Gentleman amalgamated duties for the purposes of protection, and duties for the purposes of revenue; and he would have it believed that we could not carry free trade without interfering with the Customhouse duties. Now, we do not want to touch her Majesty at all by what we do. We do not want to touch duties simply for revenue; but we want to prevent certain parties from having a revenue which is of benefit to themselves, but of advantage to none else. On the contrary, what we seek for is the improvement of her Majesty's revenue. What we wish to gain is that improvement. We say that your monopoly gives you a temporary advantage, a temporary, not a permanent advantage, and that you thereby cripple the resouces of the revenue. What is the amount of all these protecting duties? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Herculean task of sweeping away the protecting duties. I this morning went through the whole of those revenue returns, and how much do you think they amounted to? To two millions per annum, and this included the timber duties, and every other article to which you for your own views give protection. This is the entire question. What is, I ask, the difficulty of abolishing protecting duties on manufactures? How much do they produce to the Customs? Less than 350,000l. a year. Then, the right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the cotton trade. How much is paid, think you, for the protection of cotton goods? By the last returns, 8,150l. the year. There is no difficulty in a Prime Minister, in a Minister of capacious mind, of enlarged views, of one whose genius leads him to deal with something better than caviare and other trifling articles; such a Minister would, I say, find no difficulty in sweeping away the protecting duties. Then, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of subverting the whole of our colonial system. What does he mean by subverting the whole of our colonial system? We do profess to subvert the colonial monopolies. It is true that we would do that; but that is not subverting the colonial system. What we would do must benefit the revenue and not injure. The equalization of the duty on sugar would increase the revenue, as it has been proved by Mr. M'Gregor, to an amount of not less than 3,000,000l. a year. Take away the monopoly and you benefit the revenue. You might, too, do the same with coffee. You might increase the revenue to the amount of 300,000l. a year by the equalization of the duty on coffee. Would it be an injury to the colonies that you left them to all the enjoyments of a free trade? Where is the value of our possessions if they are not able to supply us with articles as cheap and as good as they come from other countries? Why they pay us the same price for our cottons as other countries, and no more. If they cannot supply us with sugar, surely they can supply us with something else. There can, then, be no difficulty in the way of the Exchequer of carrying the principle of free-trade. I want the Anti Corn-law League to be known as the Free Trade League. I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite think that all we want to do is to take away the corn monopoly. The public mind is urged on by us against that key-stone in the arch of monopoly; but 1 can tell hon Gentlemen opposite, that that organization never will be dispersed until there is a total abrogation of every monopoly. There has been a great deal of talk of free trade being theoretically, and in the abstract, right. Does the right hon. Gentleman know what that would lead to? If free trade be theoretically right—if it is as old as truth itself, why is it not applicable to the state and circumstances of this country? What! truth not applicable; then there must be something very false in your system, if truth cannot harmonise with it. Our object is to make you conform to truth, by making you dispense with your monopolies, and bringing your legislation within the bounds of justice. I thank you for the admission that we have a true cause, and armed with the truth of that cause I appeal to the friends of humanity, I appeal to those on the other side who profess and practise benevolence, I appeal to certain Members on the other side of the House, and I appeal especially to a certain noble Lord (Lord Ashley), and I ask him can he carry out his schemes of benevolence if he votes for any restriction on the supply of the people's food. If he should vote against the present motion, I ask him, will not he and his friends be viewed with suspicion in the manufacturing districts? We often hear a great deal about charity, but what have we to do with charity? Yes, I say, what have we to do with charity in this House? The people ask for justice and not charity. We are bound to deal out justice; how can charity be dealt out to an entire nation? Where a nation were the recipients it were difficult to imagine who could be the donors. I, therefore, exhort the advocates of religion, the advocates of education, the friends of moral and physical improvement, to reflect upon the votes which they are about to give. I ask, what will the country say if such Members, patching up a measure of detail, are found voting in the approaching division against the motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton? 1 call upon them, therefore, to separate themselves from those with whom they are accustomed to act, unless they are prepared to lose all the influence which they have laboured so hard to acquire in the manufacturing districts. I call upon them to support the present measure if they hope to be useful. There are 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 of people without wheaten bread. If the people continue to descend in the scale of physical comfort, and to eat potatoes, the hope of moral improvement which the friends of humanity indulge, must be altogether disappointed. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said, that the importation of 600,000 quarters of wheat would be a national calamity; but how otherwise are the people to be supported? The Poor-law commissioners told them that they must add a county as large as Warwick to the ter- ritorial extent of the country, or the population of the land must descend to a lower scale of food. They will go on multiplying, no scheme has yet been devised to stop that. You have attempted to bring down the population to the supply; but the evil which you sought to inflict upon them has recoiled upon yourselves. I have now a word to say to the noble Lord, the Member for London. The noble Lord will not vote for this motion, he says he objects to the repeal of the Corn-laws, but prefers a fixed duty to the sliding-scale. Now, I think the noble Lord has not treated the great party on this side of the House, nor the country, well, in not stating explicitly the grounds on which he would retain any portion of this obnoxious law. He talked of the exclusive burthens to which he said the land was subject; but he did not specify those burthens. I have the greatest respect for the noble Lord, but I venture to tell him that I think it is due to his own reputation, and to the party which acknowledges him for its leader, that he should distinctly state the grounds on which he advocates the imposition of a duty on the importation of corn. As far as I know the feeling out of doors, whatever may be the fate of the motion, however small the numbers in its favour may be, it will not have the slightest effect upon the progress of public opinion on the question. The League will go on as they have hitherto done. In the course of our agitation we may probably dissolve Parliaments and destroy Ministries, but still public opinion upon the subject cannot be checked by the division, whatever it may be, and if there be any force in truth and justice it will go on to an ultimate and not distant triumph.

Colonel Sibthorp

spoke amidst cries of " Divide." He was understood to say that he had no wish to waste the time of the House, but he had a few words to say in reply to the hon. Member who had just sat down. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the prices paid for land in the county of Lincoln, and he saw by a local paper that the hon. Member threatened to pay a visit to the city which he had the honour to represent. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that he had better make himself much better acquainted with facts before he presumed to go before the intelligent people he would meet there. He had the good fortune to possess property in five different counties, and he could assure the hon. Gentleman that not one of his tenants held a farm upon any lease whatever, and never would; and he could further tell the hon. Gentleman that some of his tenants held the same land which had been cultivated by their great grandfathers, and it had always been held from year to year; and he could further assure him, that the whole of the tenants in the whole of the five counties collectively did not owe him 50l. The hon. Member might attempt to disseminate his poison among them, but he would find it a failure. The agitation was not carried on out of any kind feeling for any class, but rather to gratify the ambition of a few, and to lead to their own aggrandizement. Many of the hon. Gentlemen opposite had sprung from nothing. What were they now giving in wages? What did they do for the benefit of their workmen? The farmer was happy if he was let alone. He would do more than many of the manufacturers, for he would contribute fairly to the exigencies of the state—he would revere his Sovereign, respect the laws, and maintain the intimate connexion between Church and State. Hon. Gentlemen opposite and those who abetted them were filled with folly and humbug. They knew nothing of what they were eternally talking of, and the citizens he had the honour to represent were too cautious to be deceived by the machinations, fraud, deceit, and humbug of the hon. Member, or any of his clique. [Cries of " Divide."]

Mr. M. Gibson

would not occupy the time of the House for more than a few moments. His object in rising was to express the earnest wish of his constituents at Manchester, the metropolis of the manufacturing district, that Parliament would agree to abolish the system of protection, both as regarded manufactures and agriculture. He could make every allowance for the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government declining to carry into practice the free-trade principles which he had professed. If he wanted any excuse for the right hon. Baronet he should find it in what had occurred that night. Who could blame the right hon. Baronet for not carrying out free-trade principles when the great commercial town of Liverpool returned to that House a representative professing such anti-commercial sentiments as the hon. and gallant General (Sir H. Douglas)? Those sentiments struck at the very root of industry. He, however, could tell the hon. and gallant Member, that a feeling in favour of free-trade was springing up in Liverpool; some even of the old freemen had passed resolutions in favour of free-trade; and 42,000 inhabitants of the town had signed a petition to the same effect. The hon. and gallant Member's speech was one of the most anti-commercial he had ever heard. An hon. Member of that side of the House had been blamed for stating that the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had compared the landowners to sinecurists; but there was nothing new in the comparison, for the Times paper had made it before. The Times stated, that the Corn-law extended the pension-list to the whole of the landed aristocracy. There was this difference between the two classes, however, it was known that the sinecurist got and enjoyed his money, but whilst the Corn-law worked incalculable mischief to commerce it was by no means certain that it benefitted the landowner or the farmer, in a correspondiug degree. As to the analogy between the vested interests of sinecurists and those of landowners, the former class appeared to occupy the most satisfactory position. There was this point in favour of the sinecurists, that Parliament conferred the sinecures on them, while the landlords conferred their vested interests on themselves under the loud and energetic protest of the. commercial and manufacturing classes of the community. It was not given by the free voice of the country. The commercial and manufacturing classes were not then represented in this House, and the vested interest established by the landlords in their own favour was without the consent of the rest of the community. The walls of that House were surrounded by artillery to keep the people in check, who surrounded the House to prevent it from passing the Corn-law. It was said that the manufacturers wished to abolish the protection of others and preserve protection for themselves. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade had stated that some manufacturers had been with him, and had objected to a reduction of duties on their own commodities: those were not manufacturers belonging to the free-trade party. The question was, what the free-trade party were ready and willing to grant as well as to ask? and they were desirous that all protection should be removed from manufactures as well as from agriculture. What had the manufacturers done when Mr. Huskisson brought forward his resolutions in 1825 for the reduction of duties? They hailed his propositions with approbation. They hailed his proposals like enlightened men, and passed resolutions approving of his conduct, though his resolutions affected this produce, but they said at the same time that the Legislature ought to give them freer access to the corn markets of the world. It ought, they said, at the same time, to reduce the duties on corn, and not confine the reduction to manufactured articles. That, then, was not a new doctrine of theirs. It was not just therefore to say that the manufacturing classes wished to withdraw protection from the agricultural classes and retain it for themselves. He must appeal, before he sat down, to the hon. Member for Oxford against one argument of the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet said that the land supported the Church, and therefore the landlords were entitled to a duty on corn. He appealed to the hon. Baronet who represented Oxford whether this was dealing fairly with the Church. It was throwing on the Church the odium of maintaining the Corn-law. He said that was not fair towards the Church. Did the right hon. Baronet mean to say that if the Church did not exist, the Church property would belong to the landlords? If that were not the case, how could he allege in argument that the corn duties were necessary on account of the land supporting the Church? He agreed with the hon. Member for Birmingham, in his view of the revival of commercial prosperity. He believed that it was mainly founded on speculation, and was not to be relied on. He was afraid it would not turn out to be a permanent improvement. But whether there were prosperity or distress in the country, he said that the Legislature had no right to interfere with the corn trade. He placed the question on the right of every free citizen to employ his industry as he chose, unless it could be shown that some great paramount public advantage was to be obtained by restricting it. [Cries of " Divide."]

Mr. Villiers

in reply, stated, that he was glad that he had brought on the discussion and that it had lasted so long. The question was exciting an increasing interest in the public, and an increasing portion of the community was looking to that House, to see what defence could be offered for the Corn-law. The Gentlemen opposite were assailed in very strong terms—and their own organs reproached them with not annihilating their opponents. The world was anxious to see the mode in which this was done; but be believed the organs of the landed interest would not be satisfied. Three Cabinet Ministers, indeed, had spoken, which was one more than spoke on a former debate, but they had not made out anything like a case. Some person said why did he interrupt the public business with such a motion and such a debate. He knew of no public business of equal importance to the Corn-law. It affected the commerce and revenue of the country, and even the life of the people. The Right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had started an objection to his motion, which rather astonished him. The right hon. Baronet had said that he should have come forward with a motion for the repeal of all the protecting duties. Now, he had never advocated any protecting duties; on the contrary, he had always argued in favour of their complete abolition What was the opinion of Mr. D. Hume— whose evidence was looked to with so much respect by the country, and whose death the right hon. Baronet himself regretted. That gentleman when examined before the Import Duties Committee, gave it as his opinion that all protective duties were bad that they could only exist with danger to the revenue, with injury to the public, and that they ought all to be abolished. The right hon. Baronet said that he could not repeal the Corn-laws without at the same time repealing all other protecting duties; but the right hon. Baronet had answered himself, for he had said that corn ought to be distinguished from other articles. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade was in favour of free trade—free trade in the abstract. But he would show the right hon. Gentleman that he was in favour of free trade in the concrete, and that he expected every advantage from it. The right hon. Gentleman professed to wish to give the people employment, and yet be refused to adopt those very means by which he admitted employment could be given. The right hon. the President of the Board of Trade (he believed he might now call him so)* had admitted that if an increased importation of corn were to take place, such corn must be paid for by the exportation of British goods—and that it was taking a false view of the interests of British agri- *Mr. Gladstone on the death of Lord Fitzgerald had just been appointed President of the Board of Trade with a seat in the Cabinet. culture, to consider the corn thus introduced by importation as a displacement of British industry, that it would rather tend to raise than to lower wages, and would enable the people to become consumers of the produce to a larger amount. Such was the language of the right hon. Gentleman; and now when the people were wanting employment—when there was a deficiency in the revenue, arising from diminished power of consumption, the Ministers refused to adopt measures to give the people that employment, or to increase their powers of consumption. Was this not unreasonable? The right hon. Gentleman had also said that it would be imbecility on the part of the Government to repeal a law passed only last year; but he thought that there would be no more imbecility in repealing the present Corn-law than in repealing the old law last year, considering that they came into office on a promise to maintain the Corn-laws. The right hon. Baronet had said that those who proposed a repeal of the Corn-laws would not do so if they were responsible for the direction of the public interests. He would not shrink from the consequences of carrying out the repeal of the Corn-laws, and of all other protective duties. The right hon. Baronet stated as a reason for maintaining this law that it was a compensation to the landowners for the burthen imposed on them by the malt-tax. But if the Corn-laws were maintained to indemnify the landowners for the malt-tax, who was to indemnify the community for the double burthen of the malt-tax and the bread-tax? The works of Mr. Ricardo and of Mr. M'Culloch had been quoted as authority, on the subject of tithes being a burthen on the land, but it should be recollected that Mr. Ricardo had spoken of tithes as they existed twenty years ago, and bad stated that if tithes were commuted, there would be no claim on that score on the part of the landowners; and in that very last work that he had published just before his death, he had stated that there would be no hope for the farmer until they had a free trade in corn. Mr. M'Culloch had said that if the Corn-laws were totally repealed, it would be no injury to the landed interest, and of great benefit to the community. His argument that the Corn-laws were as injurious to agriculture as they were to the community, had not been answered. He had quoted authorities on the subject —he quoted the opinions of many practical farmers in support of his argument. Let those who contended that the repeal of the Corn-laws would be injurious to the landed interest look at those who support them. The hon. Member for the county of Waterford, who seconded his motion, was the representative of a purely agricultural constituency, and he was supported by the hon. Members for the agricultural counties of Cork and Kerry, the hon. Member for Somerset too, (one of the oldest and most consistent Members of that House), and some hon. Members from Scotland conneeted with some of the largest landed properties in that country. In fact, all that were noble, generous, and really dignified in the aristocracy, were in "favour of the abolition of the Corn-laws, and all that were ignorant, insolent, and bankrupt, were for their continuance. Everything had been done to throw discredit on the exertions of the Corn-law repealers, It should be recollected that there were in this country 1,400,000 paupers, and pauperism was increasing at the rate of 100,000 yearly.

The House divided—Ayes 125; Noes 381: Majority 256.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Duncan, G.
Aldam, W. Duncombe, T.
Bannerman, A. Dundas, Adm.
Barnard, E. G. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Berkeley, hon. C. Ellice, E.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Ellis, W.
Berkeley, hon, H. F. Elphinstone, H.
Blewitt, R. J. Ewart, W.
Bowring, Dr. Fielden, J.
Brotherton, J. Ferguson, Col.
Browne, hon. W. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Buller, C. Fleetwood, Sir P. H.
Buller, E. Forster, M.
Busfeild, W. Fox, C. R.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Gibson, T. M.
Chapman, B. Gisborne, T.
Christie, W. D. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Clive, E. B. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cobden, R. Hall, Sir B.
Collett, J. Hastie, A.
Collins, W. Hawes, B.
Corbally, E. Hay, Sir A. L.
Craig, W. G. Hayter, W. G.
Crawford, W. S. Heron, Sir R.
Currie, R. Hindley, C.
Dalmeny, Lord Hollond, R.
Dashwood, G. H. Horsman, E.
Dennistoun, J. Howick, Visct
D'Eyncourt, right hon. C. T. Hume, J.
Jervis, J.
Duncan, Visct. Johnson, Gen,
Johnston, A. Roebuck, J. A.
Langston, J. H. Ross, D. R.
Langton, W. G. Russell, Lord E.
Layard, Capt. Scholefield, J.
Leader, J. T. Scott, R.
Lord Mayor of London Scrope, G. P.
Seale, Sir J. H.
Macaulay, rt. hn. T.B. Smith, B.
Marjoribanks, S. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Marshall, W. Standish, C.
Marsland, H. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Martin, J. Stanton, W. H.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Stewart, P.
Morison, Gen. Stuart, Lord J.
Muntz, G. F. Strickland, Sir G.
Napier, Sir C. Strutt, E.
O'Brien, J. Tancred, H. W.
O'Connell, M. J. Thorneley, T.
Ord, W. Towneley, J.
Oswald, J. Trelawny, J. S.
Parker, J. Tufnell, H.
Pechell, Capt. Turner, E.
Philips, G. R. Vivian, J. H.
Philips, M. Wakley, T.
Phillpotts, J. Walker, R.
Plumridge, Capt. Ward, H. G.
Ponsonby, hn. C. F. Wawn, J. T.
Ponsonby, hn. J. G. Williams, W.
Protheroe, E. Wood, B.
Pulsford, R. Wood, G. W.
Ramsbottom, J. Yorke, H. R.
Ricardo, J. L. TELLERS.
Rice, E. R. Stuart, V.
Roche, Sir D. Villiers, C.
List of the NOES.
Ackers, J. Barrington, Visct.
Acland, Sir T. D. Baskerville, T. B. M.
Acland, T. D. Bateson, R.
A'Court, Capt. Bell, M.
Acton, Col. Bell, J.
Adare, Visct. Benett, J.
Adderly, C. B. Bentinck, Lord G.
Alexander, A. Beresford, Major
Alford, Visct. Bernard, Visct.
Allix, J. P. Blackburne, J. I.
Antrobus, E. Blackstone, W. S.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Blakemore, R.
Archbold, R. Bodkin, W. H.
Archdall, Capt. M. Bodkin, J. J.
Arkwright, G. Boldero, H. G.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Borthwick, P.
Botfield, B.
Ashley, Lord Bowes, J.
Astell, W. Boyd, J.
Attwood, M. Bradshaw, J.
Bagot, hon. W. Bramston, T. W.
Bailey, J. Broadley, H.
Bailey, J. jun. Broadwood, H.
Baillie, Col. Brooke, Sir A. B.
Baillie, H. J. Brownrigg, J. S.
Baldwin, B. Bruce, Lord E.
Balfour, J. M. Bruce, C. L. C.
Bankes, G. Buck, L. W.
Baring, hon. W. B. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Bunbury, T.
Barneby, J. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Burroughes, H. N. Escott, B.
Campbell, Sir H. Esmonde, Sir T.
Cardwell, E. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Cartwright, W. R. Farnham, E. B.
Castlereagh, Visct. Feilden, W.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Fellowes, E.
Cavendish, hon. G.H. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Cayley, E. S. Ferrand, W. B.
Chapman, A. Filmer, Sir E.
Charteris, hon. F. Fitzmaurice, hon. VV.
Chelsea, Visct. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Chetwode, Sir J. Flower, Sir J.
Childers. J. W. Follett, Sir W. W.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Ffolliott, J.
Christopher, R. A. Forbes, W.
Chute, W. L. W. Forester, hn. G. C. W.
Clayton, R. R. Fox, S. L.
Clerk, Sir G. French, F.
Clive, Visct. Fuller, A. E.
Clive, hon. R. H. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Cochrane, A. Gill, T.
Codrington, Sir W. Gladstone. rt. hn.W.E.
Colborne, hn. W.N.R. Gladstone, Capt.
Collett, W. R. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Colquhoun, J. C. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Colvile, G. R. Gore, M.O.
Compton, H. C. Gore, W.
Connolly, Col. Gore, W. R. O.
Coote, Sir C. H. Goring, C.
Copeland, Ald. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Courtenay, Lord Granby, Marquess of
Cresswell, B. Greene, T,
Cripps, W. Gregory, W. H.
Curteis, H. B. Grimston, Visct.
Dalrymple, Capt. Grogan, E.
Damer, hon. Col. Hale, R. B.
Darby, G. Halford, H.
Davies, D. A. S. Hallyburton, Lord G.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Hamilton, J. H.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Hamilton, G. A.
Denison, E. B. Hamilton, W. J.
Dick, Q. Hamilton, Lord C.
Dickinson, F. H. Hampden, R.
Disraeli, B. Hanmer, Sir J.
Douglas, Sir H. Harcourt, G. G.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Douglas, J. D. S. Hardy, J.
Douro, Marq. of Hatton, Capt. V.
Dowdeswell, W. Hayes, Sir E.
Drax, J. S. W. S. E. Heathcote, G. J.
Drummond, H. H. Heathcote, Sir W.
Duff, J. Heneage, G. H. W.
Duffield, T. Heneage, E.
Dugdale, W. S. Henley, J. W.
Duncombe, hon. A. Henniker, Lord
Duncombe, hon. O. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Dungannon, Visct. Herbert, hon. S.
Du Pre, C. G. Hervey, Lord A.
East, J. B. Hillsborough, Earl of
Eastnor, Visct. Hinde, J. H.
Eaton, R. J. Hodgson, F.
Ebrington, Visct. Hodgson, R.
Egerton, W. T. Hogg, J. W.
Egerton, Sir P. Holmes, hn. W. A'C.
Eliot, Lord Hope, hon. C.
Emlyn, Visct, Hope, A.
Hope, G. W. Miles, P. W. S.
Hornby, J. Miles, W.
Hoskins, K. Milnes, R. M.
Houldsworth, T. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Howard, Lord Morgan, O.
Howard, P. H. Mundy, E. M.
Howard, W. B Murray, C. R. S.
Hussey, A. Neeld, J.
Hussey, T. Neeld, J.
Ingestre, Visct, Neville, R.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Newport, Visct.
Irving, J. Newry, Visct.
James, Sir W. C. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Jermyn, Earl Norreys, Lord
Jocelyn, Visct. Northland, Visct.
Johnstone, Sir J. O'Brien, A. S.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. O'Brien, W. S.
Jones, Capt. O'Conor, Don
Kelburne, Visct. Ogle, S. C. H.
Kelly, F. R. Ossulston, Lord
Kemble, H. Owen, Sir J.
Ker, D. S. Packe, C. W.
Kerrison, Sir E. Pakington, J. S.
Kirk, P. Palmer, R.
Knatchbull. rt. hn. Sir E. Palmerston, Visct.
Knight, H. G. Patten, J. W.
Knight, F. W. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Knightley, Sir C. Peel, J.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Lawson, A. Pennant, hon. Col.
Lefroy, A. Philipps, Sir R. B. P.
Legh, G. C. Pigot, Sir R
Leicester, Earl of Plumptre, J. P.
Lemon, Sir C. Polhill, F.
Lennox, Lord A. Pollington, Visct.
Leslie, C. P. Pollock, Sir F.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Powell, Col.
Lincoln, Earl of Praed, W. T.
Lindsay, H. H. Price, R.
Lockhart, W. Pringle, A.
Long, W, Pusey, P.
Lopes, Sir R. Rashleigh, W.
Lowther, J. H. Redington, T. N.
Lowther, hon. Col. Reid, Sir J. R.
Lyall, G. Rendlesham, Lord
Lygon, hon. Gen. Repton, G. W. J.
Mackenzie, T. Richards, R.
Mackenzie, W. F. Rolleston, Col.
Maclean, D. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
McGeachy, F. A. Round, C. G.
McTaggart, Sir J. Rous, hon. Capt.
Maher, V. Rumbold, C. E.
Mahon, Visct. Rushbrooke, Col.
Mainwaring, T. Russell, Lord J.
Mangles, R. D. Russell, C.
Manners, Lord C. S. Russell, J. D. W.
Manners, Lord J. Ryder, hon. G. D.
March, Earl of Sanderson, R.
Marsham, Visct. Sandon, Visct.
Martin, C. W. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Marton, G. Seymour, Lord
Master, T. W. C. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Masterman, J. Sheppard, T.
Maunsell, T. P. Shirley, E. J.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Shirley, E. P.
Meynell, Capt. Sibthorp, Col.
Mildmay, H. St. J. Smith, A
Smith, rt. hn. T, B. Verner, Col.
Smyth, Sir H. Vernon, G. H.
Smollett, A. Vesey, hon, T,
Somerset, Lord G, Vivian, J. E.
Sotheron, T. H. S, Waddington, H. S.
Spry, Sir S. T. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Stanley, hon. W. O. Welby, G. E.
Stewart, J. Wellesley, Lord C.
Stuart, H. Wemyss, Capt.
Sturt, H. C. Whitmore, T. C.
Sutton, hon. H. M. Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Talbot, C. B. M. Williams, T. P.
Taylor, T. E. Wilshere, W.
Tennent, J, E, Winnington, Sir T. E,
Thesiger, F. Wodehouse, E.
Thompson, Ald. Wood, Col.
Thornhill. G. Wood, Col. T.
Tollemache, hn. F. J. Worsley, Lord
Tollemache, J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Tomline, G. Wyndham. Col. C.
Trench, Sir F. W. Wynn, rt. hn. C.W.W.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Trollope, Sir J. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Trotter, J. Young, J.
Turnor, C. TELLERS,
Tyrell, Sir J. T, Fremantle, Sir T.
Vane, Lord H. Baring, H.

Adjourned at a quarter past two o'clock.