§ The Order of the Day for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the Corn Laws was read.
Mr. Stafford O'Brien
said,✶ the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, who occupied the last hour of last night, and the first hour of this morning, by a speech upon Political Economy in general, and on Colonization as connected with the⋆ The following report of what fell from the hon. Member, is from a pamphlet published by Blackwood and Sons, for the Agricultural Society, authorised by the hon. Member, and entitled, "History of the League," with the motto:—"It is near two thousand years since it has been observed that these devices of ambition, avarice and turbulence, were antiquated. They are indeed the most ancient of all common places.… Eadem semper causa—libido et avaritia et mutandarum rerum amor."—BURKE.—Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs. — [Several of the passages quoted by the hon. Member have been referred to, instead of being set out at length.]In the following pages, "A.C.L.C.," means Anti-Corn Law Circular; and "A.B.T.C," Anti-Bread Tax Circular.1453 Poor Law in particular, was pleased incidentally to dilate upon the existing Corn Law; and as that is the subject of the present debate, I trust the House will excuse me if I confine myself more directly to it. The noble Lord mentioned the state of the country in Dorsetshire, and he also alluded to the incendiary fires in Suffolk. My hon. Friends the Members for Dorsetshire and Suffolk are in the House, and are never unwilling or unable to explain whatever may concern the counties they represent. In the noble Lord's speech there was much which we all must acquiesce in, how few so ever of us may be able to state it as clearly and forcibly as he did. The extreme difficulty and importance of the subject—the danger of seeming to thwart God's good providence and purposes of mercy by our legislation — the terrible gulf that there is now between the rich and the poor, a gulf so wide that if it go widening on, even Hope herself may not wing her way across it. On these points I tender to the noble Lord my deep and mournful sympathy; but when I venture to say to him that the course he is now adopting would, in my firm conviction, if successful, exaggerate every one of these evils, and exaggerate the worst evils most, he must permit me also to express my regret, a regret the greater because I have heard true and noble sentiments from him—that he should have thought it not unworthy of himself to declare all those who differed with him as liable to the maledictions of the Holy Scriptures. Questionable and dangerous as are all such applications in popular assemblies, they are yet most exceptionable and most dangerous on such a subject as this, where fanaticism the most bitter, and sectarianism the most bigoted, have lent their aid in denunciations; and have not hesitated to use, in the passing struggles of earth, the prostituted weapons of another world. The advocate of the smallest fixed duty is just as liable to the ban of the noble Lord as is the most uncompromising adherent of the present law, and as for defrauding the labourer of his time, let me remind the noble Lord that the question of wages is the very point in dispute. If, for instance, I told the labourers on the clay soils of Northamptonshire that those soils could no longer remain under cultivation, and that the labourers themselves must either go to Manchester or to the Oundle Union, to whom would they think 1454 the noble Lord's text applicable then? and if they found that the money paid for labour was diminished in the agricultural districts, while wages from the competition for employment were lowered in the manufacturing districts, how would the case of defrauding the labourer of his hire stand then? would there be wanting texts on the other side? and would the poor then be inclined to treat the noble Lords authority as otherwise than most apocryphal? Hon. Members have alluded to the necessity of providing subsistence, which, let me remark, must be not only cheap but sure, and I can scarcely imagine a more noble office than that of a statesman devoting himself to the examination of the vast question of a people's food: bringing to bear on such a question, great ability, great knowledge, great experience, taking for his high landmarks those principles which the history of all nations teaches us, whether by example or by warning; bold to quit the beaten narrow track of economists and pamphleteers, and to travel far and wide in his investigations, because, with such landmarks, he is safe from error, and therefore dares to be moderate, to be firm, to be patient. Such a man, though we may differ from him, we must respect; but by way of forcible and antagonistic contrast to such a man take one of our modern philosophers; one of those men with just knowledge or sciolism sufficient to addle their heads and harden their hearts; men who have learned so very little, and that little so very badly, as to be actually ignorant of their own ignorance: who are ever ready to spring to an abstract remedy to prescribe for a complex case; who, untaught by the consequences of a thousand errors, continue still to dogmatize and blunder; men to whom experience comes in vain, and to whom time only adds obstinacy to error; who, without the least power of seeing into the life and truth of things, are ever enamoured of some tawdry theory, and ready at all hazards to embrace it; who never looking high, or deep, or far, are perpetually patching and redaubing their systems, which are as perpetually splitting and cracking, falling to pieces and passing into infinite nothingness as soon as ever practical life comes near them with its touchstone; and who reject nothing except toleration towards those who differ from them, and veneration towards those who have gone before them. These are 1455 the men—it were easy to mention more of their characteristics—of whom Napoleon said, "Give them power, and they will grind the happiness of any nation to powder;" and I am sorry that the noble Lord, with his abilities, with his earnest convictions, and with his honest purposes, should for a moment lend himself to them; for their power would be the weakness of our country, and their ascendancy would peril the existence of all we hold best and dearest in it. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, last night, during the whole course of his speech, assumed, that argument after argument in defence of the Corn Laws was given up, and then said, "This being the case, how are you prepared to defend them?" Now, this would have been a convenient plan, if it had been taken up by hon. Members to-day, instead of yesterday; but, for a gentleman to begin by crying victory—to tell us that we dared not say things, when, by the rules of the House, not one single Member but himself could have said a word on the subject: such a plan cannot be called a subtle one, or a bold one; it is simply ludicrous. Whenever—for such is the rule now, at Covent Garden—whenever you cannot answer an argument, assume that it is abandoned; whenever the facts and the inevitable inferences are such as cannot be contradicted and must be drawn, why then put a bold face upon it; treat it as an exploded fallacy, talk about grandmothers, and country squires, and old women, you are sure to raise a laugh; and, while others are laughing, you can run off to a position less untenable, and call it coming back to the real question before the House. The arguments, Sir, in favour of the principle of protection have been repeated in this House as often as the question has been brought forward. The particular burthens upon land; the necessity of being independent of foreigners for a supply of food; the desirableness of maintaining agriculturists as a class in the important position they now occupy; the perils of so vast an experiment in the face of all experience; these are the reasons which, in my mind, are convincing against the abolition of our Corn Laws. I do not say that they are the only ones; I do not say that to other minds they are the best ones; but this I do say, that the assumption of our being ashamed of our arguments is most unwarrantable; and, to make it, did require a 1456 considerable portion of that assurance for which some hon. Gentlemen opposite have been so long and so justly remarkable. The opponents of the Corn Laws have two very considerable advantages over us. The first advantage they share in common with all those who boldly attribute to one cause the evil and sorrow which lies around us; in proportion as that evil and that sorrow is prominent, in proportion as the remedy is, so to speak, obvious at first sight, and close in apparent connection with what it promises to cure, by so much is the advantage greater on the side of those who urge it: and when we consider that this is not any plan whose effects must be at the best remote and indirect, but one which, so soon as ever it shall be placed in the Statute Book, professes to satisfy the hungry—I say that the first of these two advantages must be one of considerable magnitude and importance. The second is, that this free-trade scheme has no admixture of doubt or qualification; its principle is asserted in all its length and breadth: for instance, you say there ought to be no restraint upon the importation of foreign corn: we are not willing to meet this by an assertion equally definite and hardy, that there ought to be no importation at all. You say the duty cannot be too low; we refuse the antithesis that it cannot be too high, and therefore we give you, or rather the constitution of things gives you, in popular harangues all the advantage attending those who insist upon investing their political dogmas with the same absolute certainty, and sharp angular outline, that men allow to mathematical truths. But I must observe, that if the experience of life, and the opinions of all who have thought most, be worth anything, this last advantage is an advantage which stops with such debating, and that when we come to practical details, it either must be wholly abandoned, or the evils we create will be greater than those we find existing. Take the often-quoted sentence about buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market, a sentence that has just enough truth in it to pass current and jingle on the ear. In laying down this maxim, you draw as much of the conclusion as suits, not with your premises, but with your policy. Why in one sense it has been acted on ever since the world began—six thousand years before the League made its august appearance 1457 upon earth, and it probably will be acted on six thousand years after the League has passed away and been forgotten: taken with qualifications, taken with exceptions, as all rules must be—and especially all political rules—there is not a man from Stowe to Stockport who would controvert it. But taken without exceptions, in adamantine rigour, it amounts to this, that lucre is to be the sole guide, the sole principle of action in money transactions between man and man; that we are to own no allegiance in public or private to any other feeling or principle than that of cupidity; that in private life no domestic ties or affections, no neighbourly usages, no claims of charity, are to be listened to, whenever they even seem to intrench upon buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest markets. Take the labour market — if you employ an old labourer at 12s. a week, when you might send him to the workhouse, and might hire a stronger man for 10s., you, in this case of the labour market, violate your own rule. You dare not (I will not wrong you so much as to suppose you wish to,) carry out this rule in private; are you prepared to maintain that it should be despotic in public life? I am not arguing now for the Corn Laws; I am merely denying and protesting against one of the most odious dogmas ever propounded. Announce that you are prepared to obey it without modification, without exception—to peril order within, defence without, national character, national institutions, for it—to apply it everywhere, and where it will not fit our usages or our institutions, to make our usages and institutions adapt themselves to it; teach it, in all its debasing tendencies and miserable selfishness, whenever and wherever you profess in your modesty "to educate the people of England," and try how long that people will be in discovering, if they do not strongly suspect already, that your school of political science should own for its founder and its master one of whom it was declared, that "he cared not for the poor, but that he kept the bag." The difficulty and embarrassment is, not with the right hon. Baronet who admitted this rule with restrictions and exceptions; not with us who are quite willing to accept it thus restricted and thus qualified, but with you, who in every one of your arguments assume the impossibility of admitting any exception to it. What is true in this apo- 1458 thegm is not new, and what is new is not true. But this bigoted idolatry of one maxim is quite in character with all your system. You proclaim the total and immediate, and unconditional repeal of the Corn Laws, and yet daring to make the incredible assertion, that our state of society could stand so great a shock, you call yourselves in your own paper, the "Apostles of Political Science." Now, I venture to say, that if any intelligent foreigner were to become acquainted with the state of our trade, our commerce, our agriculture, and with the characteristics of the different classes of our countrymen, and then to be told there are a set of men advocating a change thus abrupt and thus enormous, the answer would be, "These men must be either too visionary to be listened to, or too dangerous to be trusted." To equal you, or rather to rival your folly, in attempting to tear every tariff regulation from our Statute Book at once; to descend to your level in advocating a project so stupid and so puerile as instantaneous free-trade, we the agriculturists, if we wished to lose, as you have done, all character for practical common sense, ought to get up an agitation for a return to Canning's scale, or hire Drury Lane to declaim hebdomadally in behalf of war-prices. It would not be very difficult, by the help of a vast deal of sophistry, and a free-trade in exaggeration, to make out a case in favour of "the good old war times," and then, indeed, the impartial spectator might compare the one party with the other, and complain that liberality and moderation were on both sides at a discount among us. But let me tell you that our strength is our moderation; your violence is your weakness; for one recruit you enlist, two deserters leave your ranks—leave you to fight the campaign alone, even if they do not pass over to the enemy; and what is worse, many of these deserters are men who have the sinews of war—a figurative expression, but one well understood—men who used, in happier times, to give their 100l., and who now give their nothings, and who answer to the softest solicitations—not only to friends, but to those members of the Society of Friends who call on them, "No, while you confined yourselves to informing the public minds—to tracts, to newspapers, to lectures, I was willing to aid you, but you have gone beyond me—you have meddled with the registration books—you 1459 have shown yourselves on the hustings—you have interfered in elections—good morning." I have said of you—the Anti-Corn Law League—that your violence was your weakness. Your star was in the ascendant, nay, it seemed about to culminate, last winter; but do you suppose that it was our demonstrations that induced the Premier to announce his intention, at the opening of this Session, of adhering to his Corn Law Bill: do you imagine he ever thought of changing it?—but how unworthy were all your efforts to thrust a construction on his words—to distort his meaning—or to fetter down the language of a Minister to the punctilious exactness of a special pleader. If he had said that nothing on earth should ever induce him to alter that scheme in any one of its parts—if he had said he would never, so long as he continued in public life, listen to the least alteration in any part of it, however minute, or merely of detail, that part might be, what a clamour would have been raised!—what a staple he would have given for your harangues!—what a salient point for all your attacks! You want him and us, either to declare that the present Corn Law is to be henceforth and for ever as intact as the Act of Settlement, or the Act of Union; or else you wish us to say that it may be repealed next year, or the year after; and because we will say neither the one or the other,—because we persist in being moderate,—because we obstinately adhere to the practical common sense view of the question,—because, while we strongly assert the principle of protection to agriculture, we refuse to bind ourselves to details that may at one time subserve that principle, and at another controvert it; for these reasons you fatigue yourselves with abuse of us; you charge us at one time with being the stupidest blockheads that ever lived—you tell us, we are behind the times—"standing in our own light"—"clamorous against our best friends," viz., you, the League; and also you declare we are keen-sighted knaves, looking so sharp after our own interest, that with astonishing ability and consummate skill we have invented this subtle contrivance — the sliding-scale—to enrich ourselves at the expense of the public. Do you remember a saying of Mr. Cobbett's—"They call me the scum and the dregs. I may be the scum, or the dregs, but I can't be 1460 both?" Now I ask can we be both such blockheads, and such knaves? The members of the Anti Corn Law League have repeatedly said, that the landlords had hitherto had everything their own way, and had exclusively legislated for the country, Let the House hear what this country had become under the rule of the much-abused landlords. The hon. Member for Stockport, speaking at the conference of Ministers, in August, 1841, said:—I have not travelled in any country that I have not made it my business to inquire where their best commodities were sent to. In the Levant, in Arabia, in China, ask where the prime commodities—take any thing you please—and you will be told, that the best of everything is going to England.The next extract is from a speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bolton, made in October 1843, at Exeter:—He felt proud—prouder far, than in being told the cannons of England had overthrown fortresses, or that the warriors of England had devastated the fields, or the navies of England had destroyed the ships of an adversary's country—far prouder, and, he hoped, far more Christian was the feeling that there was something in England that entitled her to be honoured and loved—that she had been sometimes the tyrant, but more frequently the benefactress of the human race. It was in her pacific pursuits—it was the power of her manufacturers, the enterprise and character of her commercial men, that she was looked on with honour and respect by the nations of the world."—League, No. 3.I shall next quote the hon. Member for Durham. At Covent Garden Theatre, the hon. Member said:—I have sometimes thought what a beautiful illustration this wonderful city affords of the principles which we advocate. You have two millions of a population—two millions, or some large proportion of that number—rise every morning from their beds, and look out for a supply of the necessaries of life. Food they must have—breakfast, dinner, supper. How do they get it? I have heard men praise the beautiful; machinery — so complex, yet so simple—of the Post Office establishment in this country—but if a man were dropped into your city, ignorant of these matters, and were told that these two millions every morning required breakfast, and that all the arrangements of life should be carried on with something like regularity and precision, he would wonder what gigantic intellect had formed the system, whose was the master mind that touched the spring—and caused all to work in harmony—no confusion and no delay. But when he looks in your streets, and sees the countless 1461 coaches, carriages, waggons, carts, vehicles of every kind, and men walking to and fro, engaged in the avocations of life, he would be led to discover that there was some great and all-controlling principle by which those two millions were enabled to provide themselves with their daily bread."—League, No. 3.Thus they had the testimony of all those Gentlemen as to the state to which this country had risen during a period in which the landlords enjoyed a monopoly of its legislation. He would ask, if a system had produced so much good, was it just to assail it as the League had assailed the agricultural interest? Here is a specimen of the language used in speaking of the landlords: [The hon. Member quoted several passages from the speeches of Members of the Anti Corn Law League vituperating the landlords.] It would appear, then, the hon. Member contended, that, bad as the landlords were, they were not so bad as the West-Indians. And, again, the hon. Member for Durham asked:—Do they not know that the very word 'aristocracy' is beginning to stink in the nostrils of every honest man?"—League, No. 3.Certainly our conduct has been widely different from yours in reference to this question: nor will it be unimportant if I attempt some hasty and outline sketch of your past labours, and of your present position. The hon. Member proceeded to give a history of the League. The Anti-Corn Law League he said, was originated at a dinner, given to the hon. and learned Member for Bolton, in the winter of 1838; but the Anti-Corn Law Circular was not established till April, 1839. They soon began to invoke the aid of the clergy. The hon. Member quoted some addresses and recommendations to dissenting ministers and others. Here are some of the minor expedients they resort to, and I give them as specimens of their zeal and industry:—
§ "THE ANTI-BREAD-TAX PARTY!—'Down with the Bread-tax!'—The Anti-Corn Law League is henceforth destined to become the arbitrar of political parties. When the delegates, at their last meeting, disassociated themselves from all parties, and pledged themselves to the one sole object of destroying the bread-tax, they struck a blow which will one day be felt by every constituency throughout the kingdom. By that one wise act they secured the ultimate co-operation of all political parties. In the name of the League, we tell Tories, Whigs, Radicals, Chartists, or by what- 1462 ever other name politicians choose to call themselves, that they are all equally our friends if they oppose the Corn Law, and that we are equally the enemies of each and all who abet the imposition of a tax upon the bread of the people. 'Down with the Bread Tax!' must be the rallying cry at the hustings and the polling-booth. Ask not if a man call himself Conservative or Liberal. Will he vote against the Bread Tax? Will he assist in the suppression of the landlords' monopoly? Our rallying cry must henceforth be, down with the Bread Tax!' Nor should it ever be forgotten that all advocates of any duty, under whatever pretences, are the supporters of a Bread Tax, the friends of a selfish oligarchy, and the enemies of the honest and industrious millions live by their labour. 'Down with the Bread Tax!'" A. C. L. C. No. 31.
§ [The hon. Member quoted many other specimens, we must confine ourselves to this and the following]:—
§ "ALMANAC.—The Council of the League wish most respectfully and urgently to call the attention of the friends of repeal thoughout the kingdom to the opportunity which is now afforded for distributing information upon the subject of the Bread-tax in a cheap, durable, and popular manner. The sheet almanac, in particular, if suspended in a public room, or a large establishment of any kind, will be seen every day in the year; for, instead of being destroyed as other tracts are, it will be preserved for its intrinsic usefulness down to the end of its calendar. By placing an almanac judiciously in a public news-room, club-house, mechanics' institution, lyceum, public-house, barber's or blacksmith's shop, club-room, or any other place of public resort, any friend of the cause may have the satisfaction of advertising for an entire twelve months, for the small outlay of 3d., all the leading facts connected with the subject of the food taxes."—A. C. L. C. No. 47.
I have been so fortunate as to procure a copy of this Almanac, and, as of old the festivals of saints were mentioned, so now, in these days of Puseyism, the calendar of the League is set forth. Thus we find the year opens auspiciously, because on the 3rd of January, 1802, was born the honourable C. P. Villiers, M.P. for Wolverhampton; on June 3, 1804, R. Cob-den, M.P. for Stockport; John Bright, November 11, and however seven cities may contend for Homer, and Shakspear's early days be shrouded in some obscurity, posterity will be relieved from the torture of suspense as to the nativity of another poet, for it is now beyond all question that on the 17th of October, 1792, was born Dr. Bowring, M.P. for Bolton. In this Catholic cause all scruples are set at
naught, the 11th of November is proclaimed as a red letter day, since on it John Bright, M.P. first saw the light. [The hon. Member quoted the publications of the League at great length to trace its progress and opinions, the amount of its subscriptions, and the matters on which its funds had been expended; he referred to the various appeals it had made to the public, and the opposition or apathy it had encountered; to the lectures it had given, and to the prize essays it had published, and gave in conclusion this account of the sums it had raised, and its interference with elections.]
Last year, amid many incredulous taunts, we asked for, and obtained from the public, the sum of 50,000l. The mere fact of our obtaining it struck cold on the heart of monopoly, and was felt as a presage that the end is at hand. The expenditure, consisting of the items that have been reported, and superintended by a council, the constitution of which makes all subscribers of 50l. and upwards its members, has not only proved satisfactory, but has brought us up to the point at which the great and decisive struggle is to be made. The outline has been described to you of our plan for the successful completion of this agitation, as we believe and hope no further appeal to the public for pecuniary aid, will, after the present, be necessary or possible. And for strength to strike our final and triumphant blow, we now ask, and ask in the confidence that it will be zealously contributed, the sum of 100,000l."—League, No. 1.
But what can all this money be for; it is evident we are to have no account of it. It is of course impossible that one farthing can have been spent either in the general election, or in the elections since, but still these elections are events of too much importance to be passed over in utter silence. I shall, therefore, with many apologies to every Member of the House, except those connected with the League, conclude the autobiography of that confederation by tracing their solicitude for, and parental care of, our constituencies:—
§ "CONSTITUENCIES.—Let every repealer ascertain how his representative has voted on the Corn Law Question; and if he have either been absent without a pair, or present, but on the side of the adverse party, let him at once intimate to him that he cannot again have his support. This is the only way to carry repeal, and it is perfectly effectual. The Government will rather take up the question than be driven from power. We shall begin by doing our best to drive Byng out of Middlesex. A Liberal who votes or the Bread- 1464 tax, is, in our view, far worse than a Tory. Hobhouse shall be drummed out of Nottingham, to the tune of the "Rogue's March," as surely as we here give him warning. His excuse, that he expected an adjournment of the debate, is, we think, worse than the original offence. It exhibits a reckless disregard of his starving constituents which nothing can excuse. Never let repealers forget that they have victory in their own hands if they choose to sacrifice every other question to that of cheap bread."—A. C. L. C. No. 35.
§ "ELECTORAL AGITATION.—We alluded briefly in our last number to the visit which a deputation from the council of the National Anti-Corn Law League paid to the electors of Bolton. It gives us satisfaction now to be able to state that the result has been triumphantly successful. Thus encouraged, the council have taken steps for immediately paying visits to Warrington, Stockport, and Macclesfield; and without relaxing any of their other modes of agitation, they will make it their first duty to visit, in a similar manner, the electors of every borough in the manufacturing districts represented by bread-taxes."—A. C. L. C. No. 47.
§ "Why should not the electors of one borough for instance, Wolverhampton, send a deputation to commune with the constituency of a neighbouring place, as, for example, Dudley? The railroads and the penny post, afford nearly the same facilities now for one town to communicate with and visit another, as were formerly possessed for holding intercourse with each other by the inhabitants of large boroughs. The council of the League have made arrangements for paying visits to the electors of Macclesfield and Stockport, to be followed immediately by their soliciting interviews with the voters of Liverpool, Lancaster, and the other principal boroughs of the district. Too much importance cannot be attached to the efforts about to be made to secure a proper representation for the manufacturing boroughs."—A. C. L. C. No. 48.
And speaking of the Walsall election, on the 14th of January, 1841, the modus operandi is more fully described thus:—
They have not set about their work by trying to elevate themselves to the rank of a political party, and make or unmake ministers. They made their first overture to the ministerial candidate. The Anti-Corn Law League consists of constituents: there is not one professional politician among its active members. The Anti-Corn Law League is of no party; it does not take upon it to set up candidates, except in cases of stringent necessity. Our policy is not to ask admission for ourselves into the legislature, but by our independent position to force from those who are ambitious of getting there the advocacy of our claims,"—. A, C, I, C, No. 51,
How much obliged ought we to be to those gentlemen who have overcome private scruples from public duty, and have coyly, as it were, permitted Stock port and Durham to immortalize themselves for ever. Perhaps, however, the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport, at Manchester, would illustrate the system more fully, he said:—
§ "FIRST—TO THE REGISTRATION OF PARLIAMENTARY ELECTORS.—The necessity of immediate attention to this portion of the plan will be evident to all, as the time for claims and objections is rapidly approaching. The first step should be to analyse the present register of electors , and to divide it into two classes—monopolists and anti-monopolists. The necessary means should then be taken to increase the number of the latter by the addition of every person who possesses the legal qualification. Every supporter of monopoly who does not possess the legal right to the franchise should be objected to.—A. B. T. C. No, 129.
§ "ENROLMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE LEAGUE.—" In drawing your attention to this portion of the plan, the Council recommend that a complete canvass of each town or district be made to procure the enrolment of members of the League, preserving the distinction between electors and non-electors, according to the printed forms issued by the Council; and every exertion should be made to induce a majority of the electors to enrol themselves members of the League,'"— A. B. T. C. No. 129.
§ "The next step must be to organise and render efficient that strength amongst the electors. Now, we have gone to work in this agitation with the full conviction that we may carry out the principles of free-trade with the present constitution of Parliament. You have heard that we intend to arrange in London a collection of all the registration lists as soon as they are published in December; we will have in a central office in London, every registration list in the United Kingdom. We will have a ledger, and a large one, too, and we will first of all record, in the very first page, the city of London, provided it returns Mr. Pattison—and if not, we'll have Manchester first. In this ledger we shall enter first, in due succession, each in a page, every borough that is perfectly safe in its representation for free-trade. There will be a second list—a second class—those boroughs that send Members to Parliament who are moderate monopolists, who have notions about differential duties and fixed duties; and we will have another class for those who are out-and-out monopolists. Well, we may tick off those boroughs that are safe; we go to work in the next place in those boroughs that are represented by moderate monopolists, to make them send free-traders, and we will urge upon them in 1466 particular to canvas the electors, and send up a majority of their signatures requiring their members to vote for Mr. Villiers's Motion at the beginning of next Session. We'll make a selection of so many boroughs as shall be sufficient to give us a majority in the House, and I take it that those boroughs will not require to have more than 300,000 electors, and upon those 300,000 electors we will begin our fire. We intend to visit them by deputation. If my Friend Bright takes one set, and I take another, we may get over a great many of them. We will take a room, and meet the electors by appointment there, without the co-operation of any local leaders, so as to excite no jealousy on either side. I was told by an old electioneerer in London, one who had dipped his fingers pretty deep into the system we are going to put down,—'You'll frighten them more than anything if you carry out that part of your plan of going down to see the electors,' It is the very thing we intend to do; and we'll do it ourselves, too."—League, No. 4.
§ "REFERRING TO RESULT OP SALISBURY ELECTION.—They have managed to replace one Tory and Anti-Free-Trader by another, in a city which, had they been allowed to choose, they would have selected as the very spot in England wherein to contend against a League Candidate—a city the most removed from manufacturing interests, feelings, and influence, the most independent of trade, the most apt, from the influences under which it has hitherto been compelled to act, to return such a candidate as Mr. Campbell. Yet with all this—and although the monopolists sent down professed bribers and hired prize-fighters, at once to corrupt and intimidate—yet Mr. Bouverie polled a much larger number than he did a few months ago."—League, No. 10.
§ "THE LEAGUE AND THE COMING ELECTIONS.—The League has come forward to offer its aid in purifying the constituencies. Its duties are both sanatory and educational, and in many cases it must have to deal with reluctant patients and refractory pupils." — League, No. 29.
§ It is impossible to treat this flippant sauciness with gravity. Here we see the League announcing itself as a schoolmaster and apothecary. Now, we have some of us been whipped in our time; more of us have been physicked; but none of us have liked either: and yet the League expects an enthusiastic welcome from all constituencies, when it proposes to meet them with a pill in one hand, and a rod in the other. The League announced its intention of interfering in all elections. This side of the House does not fear anything, as a party, from such interference, neither need it. It is the Whigs who should desire to be delivered 1467 under any apprehension that the electors of this country, of whatever politics, will assert their right to the management of their own affairs, and will treat the League trying to intrude itself as folks are wont to treat a strange cur discovered in a larder. Salisbury, Wiltshire, Devizes, Woodstock, Exeter, Christchurch, Launceston, Buckingham, Hastings, Huntingdon, and above all, South Lancashire, that apple of your eye, that region where you boasted the "League was at home," have shown what a sorry welcome awaits itinerant demagogues. And for Kilmarnock I am glad, as a free-trader was to be returned, that my hon. Friend (Mr. Bouverie) was returned, for his own merits. You encumbered him with your help at Salisbury, and he was defeated. You did not dare to follow him across the border to the "pawky folk" of Kilmarnock, too "pawky" to submit to such interference, and there he prospered.
§ "KENDAL ELECTION AND SALISBURY.—(Geo. Wilson at C. G. T.) — At Kendal they have returned to Parliament a free-trader, Mr. Warburton, by a majority of 64 on a gross poll of 300. They have effectually put down all future attempts of the monopolists for the Kendal seat; and, at the next general election, we may fairly take it for granted that the men of Kendal, besides returning a freetrader of their own, will be able to lend us their aid towards extinguishing monopoly in other places. We have had another election at Salisbury, with a somewhat different result. Upon a gross poll of about 600, Mr. Bouverie, the free-trade candidate, has been defeated by a majority of 47. I regret deeply, as all our friends must who have had an opportunity of hearing Mr. Bouverie, the vacancy in the ranks of the free-traders in the House of Commons, occasioned for a shorter or longer time, by the result of this election."—League, No. 10.
§ "EDUCATE CONSTITUENCIES. —(Walker at Bury.)—We want to educate some of the constituencies. You know how large a sum it takes to educate your families—at least, those who have large families know that it is a great expense; how much more may it not be expected to cost, to educate some four or five hundred thousand electors. They are in great ignorance on the merits of this question, and must and ought to be educated."—League, No. 15.
§ I will read the letter of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Edinburgh, in December last, when the Anti-Corn-Law League summoned him;—
§ "MEETING AT EDINBURGH—LETTER FROM MR. MACAULAY.—Albany, London, December 23, 1843— Dear Sir—I have often expressed 1468 my opinion on the subject of the Corn Laws, and am not aware that I have anything to add, to retract, or to explain. You will not, therefore, be surprised at my saying that I do not think it right to attend the meeting of the 11th January. "I am, &c,
§ "D. M'Laren, Esq." T. B. MACAULAY." —League, No. 17.
§ Where an individual of the name of M'Laren is, it seems, to contest next time that city with a Gentleman who, whatever may be his politics, is an ornament to this House, and an honour to the city he represents. Here I bring my extracts to a conclusion. In toiling through the mass of materials from which I have drawn them, it has been painful to find how far men abandoned to bigotry of one object can forget what is due to themselves and to others; to those who went before, and to those who should come after them. But it has been a satisfaction to have another proof how much the English people will bear, unharmed, of all this clamour and disturbance. I have not quoted from one speech whose speaker is not or may not have been sitting opposite to me here; because I feel that it is in this House, face to face, man to man, that we may boldly tell each other of our duties, and of our faults; nothing but good can come of it; the reverse is the case when we excite men's passions on a question of most difficult calculation. You may please yourselves, and delude some others, by professing to be of no politics; but I know, that a few months since, not now, because you are decrepid, but a few months since, if I had wished to destroy the institutions of my country, your language and your proceedings would have pointed you out as the fittest instruments to serve my purpose. What ulterior objects you may have, it is not for me to inquire. You share too many of the characteristics of every other destructive organisation, for me to look upon you with any other eyes than those of dislike and suspicion. In common with them your plan is to teach the people to crave for perpetual excitements; in common with them, you denounce this House of Commons as not representing public opinion out of doors. In common with them, you are restless in endeavouring to array one class against another; in common with them, you are bitter and virulent in your abuse of the clergy and aristocracy; you share these characteristics of sedition with all confederations who have laboured for the 1469 subversion of the Constitution as by law established, and where you differ from them there you exceed them—I mean in your impudent interference in elections, an interference whose insulting arrogance, whose impertinent presumption, has no precedent in the history of this country. Thus, with vast expenditure, considerable ability, energies unwearied, and perseverance unabating, you have toiled for six years, and where are you now? I firmly believe, the great mass of the people and especially the poor have less sympathy with you—less hope from you— than they had in 1839. No man can say how far he will go who joins those who are avowedly going to the utmost extremities. Nay, further, I say to the House, make allowances for my having brought the case as strongly as I possibly could—allow that during six years much of violence and much of folly may be excused, and then I say that enough still remains to make men very cautious how they join such a body, or lend themselves to its delusions. It has proceeded from the mere circulation of tracts and the employment of lecturers, to the convening of delegates, to the rejection of all petitioning to this House, and to an interference with elections, which, if it be not contrary to the letter of our law, is at least abhorrent to the spirit of our Constitution. Sir, I think the Government is right in refusing to re-open a discussion of this kind, and I give my hearty vote in opposition to the Member for Wolverhampton, not only because I am determined to stand by the great principle of protection to British agriculture, but because I desire to enter my strong protest against the selfish, and tyrannous, and narrow policy, dictated and acted on by the pernicious confederation, whose proceedings I have considered it my duty to place before this House and the country.
§ Captain Layard
said, another opportunity was now given to the House to take under consideration a law which, in his opinion, was opposed to the best interests of the people, and in direct opposition to the principles of humanity and justice. And although there could be no doubt that upon this occasion Her Majesty's Ministers would command an overwhelming majority, by which the Motion brought forward by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton would be defeated, yet he (Captain Layard) believed such a vote would 1470 not express the feeling of the majority of the people, who believed, that as the present Corn Law stood, the interest of the many were sacrificed for the benefit of the few. It was, he believed, the opinion out of doors, that the tower of strength which the landed interest prided themselves on in that House, was only a landlord's interest, and that, not being founded on the rock of justice, would be finally overwhelmed by the tide of public opinion which had set in so steadily against it, and by which it had been already undermined. It was not only the injustice of this law in itself that the people complained of, not only the evil consequences attendant on depriving the people of cheap food, the restriction it put upon manufactures, and the feeling of distrust which it engendered between the higher and lower classes, but other bad measures which it had entailed; for no one could doubt that it was for the Corn Law, and that alone, that the Government had prevailed upon the House to act in the unworthy manner it did upon the Factory Bill, a manner in his (Captain Layard's) opinion totally unworthy of the high respect in which that House ought to be looked upon by the country, and which respect it never would obtain if, as upon the late occasions, it were willing to barter away its honour and consistency for any party purposes whatever. It was a common thing to speak of the superiority of this country to all others in her laws and institutions, but for his part, he thought, as long as this law in its present state disgraced the Statute Book, this boast was empty and vain. When in China, some years ago, he was fortunate enough to become acquainted with some of the Hong merchants; one of them was a clever, intelligent person, with whom he often used to converse upon the different manners and customs of their respective countries. He (Captain Layard) told his Chinese friend how barbarous, cruel, and contrary to the dictates of common sense, the custom appeared to be which the Chinese had of bandaging the feet of their female children, and from which cruel operation he supposed many must die. The Hong merchant said the custom was cruel, many hundred children died from mortification, but that a great many old women made a trade of it, and that the public good thus suffered for private advantage. But supposing the Hong merchant had said he had heard that we had a law by which our 1471 people were deprived of a sufficient supply of food, by which, being one of the greatest manufacturing countries, our trade was restricted—supposing he had said, true it is we put our women on short slippers, but you put your people on short commons; we do this for the advantage of some of our old women, and you make your law for the advantage of the country gentlemen; and if our children, many of them, die from mortification, brought on by the operation, many of yours die from disease brought on from want of proper nourishment—what could he have said to show that we were more enlightened than they were? At that time, indeed, he could not say that they were on a par with the Chinese; for he then had not heard the celebrated speech of the right hon. Baronet the Paymaster of the Forces, that the Corn Law must be maintained for the dower of young ladies, and the jointures of the old, and which, though an argument that would not have very great weight in this country, would at that time have done pretty well for the Chinese, as being the one they used in favour of their own barbarous customs. He trusted, that amongst the right hon. Baronet's many virtues, gratitude would not be found wanting; for the very man, with others of his party, whom the right hon. Baronet had charged with throwing out hints for his assassination, had come forward upon a late occasion, though certainly in his opinion, without a shadow of reason for reason for so doing, and had, by such assistance, saved for a time the right hon. Baronet's political existence. The right hon. Baronet had, in the late skirmish, lost a brace of great guns belonging to his party, but as they had been pretty well used up, perhaps the right hon. Baronet did not think them of much consequence. He alluded to the hon. Member for Knaresborough, and the hon. Member for Shrewsbury. The hon. Member for Knaresborough was at first considered a great gun by his party, and the unmeasured fire he kept up on the manufactures was hailed with delight by Gentlemen on his side of the House, but the subsequent shots being a little better understood, and their value more properly appreciated, the hon. Member for Knaresborough thought it no bad thing to fire his shot right and left amongst his own party, and more especially upon the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, 1472 upon which the right hon. Baronet thought it necessary to call Mr. Mott to his assistance, who rushed in to stop the vent of this great gun, which having done in a very clumsy manner, it burst, and certainly damaged all those who had anything to do with it. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury might, in his opinion, be compared to a clock which went pretty regularly for some time, but not having been oiled, at length began to go rather irregularly. The hands at one time were supposed—the clock having gone for three hours, not only by Shrewsbury time, but by the clock of the House of Commons, in a dull monotonous tick, without stopping, upon foreign policy — to point to some diplomatic appointment abroad. But the right hon. Baronet, knowing the maker too well, knowing that it was no tried chronometer, would have nothing to do with it. It had been hinted that the Shrewsbury clock, though it had not yet aspired to be the clock at the Horse Guards, by which all the other clocks are regulated, had certainly been disappointed at not being the clock at the Admiralty, where time does not require to be so exactly kept; at last it became quite irregular, no longer chiming in with the, right hon. Baronet. He attacked him for taking the liberty of talking about the Gentleman who gave notice to the public that on a certain day he would squeeze himself into a quart bottle. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury being, no doubt, perfectly, aware how unpleasant a situation it was to try to squeeze one's self into any place, however small, and not to be able to effect it, this, no doubt, was what made the hon. Member take the part of the Bottle Imp against the right hon. Baronet—A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind.But now the right hon. Baronet and the President of the Board of Trade might boldly come forward upon free-trade principles, seeing how little they had suffered from the loss of such artillery, and having a just idea of the gathering that could be got together, even if the hon. Member for Shrewsbury should, speaking with a little more animation than that with which he generally favoured the House, raise his war cry of "To your tents, O Israel!" Certainly it was astounding to find the hon. Members for Knaresborough and Shrewsbury in opposition; and the hon. 1473 Members for Stockport and Durham supporting the Ministry; but however singular, such had been the case. He supposed the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies would support a fixed duty, having done so in his Canadian Corn Bill. If the noble Lord would not, they had only to suppose that he had no reason for acting as he had done, except that, following the bad example, instead of learning from the history of Jephtha, and having made rash promises and unwise vows at the end, it might be called the twilight, of one Session of Parliament, he was determined that the House should pay the sacrifice, and which with a due obedience to the powers that be, they very good naturedly performed. And at any rate the noble Lord ought to agree to an inquiry into the law, when he had a fixed duty there, and a sliding scale here. Some short time ago he, being at the Opera, had the pleasure of seeing the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government taking some relaxation, which he well earned, from the fatigues and toils of office. And it struck him that the beautiful ballet of Ondine, which was then being performed, was a fair representation of what was passing in the mind of the right hon. Baronet with regard to this subject. The graceful Cerito seemed a fair and lovely representation of free-trade, flitting and dancing as it continually is before the mental vision of the right hon. Baronet. And when the Ondine, in her moonlight flitting across the stage, is startled and alarmed at her own shadow, how just a representation, though certainly a more elegant one, of what happened to the right hon. Baronet, when he, coming out of the shade, first ventured to broach free-trade principles! How he started back, not indeed so gracefully as the fair Cerito, when he saw, not indeed his own shadow, but the shade which came over the mournful countenances of the agricultural Members! For his part, he trusted and believed that the right hon. Baronet would give up coquetting, after the manner of Cerito, with the shadow, and that becoming completely enamoured, when he opened his arms to embrace it, it would be found he had clasped the reality and not the shadow of free-trade. The right hon. Baronet had told his party that he should go on in his own-line of policy, that he would not go back. Could any man believe he could stand still? 1474Why, not to retrograde is to advance,And men must learn to walk before they dance.For his part, he would rather have a small fixed duty, thinking it a fair source of revenue, and believing, as he did, that the people did not complain of any taxation which was legitimate and for the good of the country, and thinking that it would be a fair compromise between both parties. But as there seemed no hope of a measure so greatly to be desired, he should give his vote in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton trustingThe time would come when, free as seas or wind,Unbounded Thames would flow for all mankind;Whole nations enter with each swelling tide,And seas but join the regions they divide.
was anxious to state to the House the real condition of the county which he had the honour to represent. It had been stated, in one of the daily journals, that the labouring population of Suffolk were at this moment suffering great distress and privations. Now, he believed the contrary to be the case, and he could assure the House that the poorer classes in Suffolk had never been so well fed or so well clothed as they were at the present time; and he was confident, that any hon. Gentleman who might be acquainted with the county, must have read with much surprise the accounts which had appeared in some of the articles in The Times. The hon. and gallant Member read a Protest signed by the inhabitants of a district of Suffolk against the accuracy of the statements made by The Times' correspondent, with respect to the condition of the poor in that county. He was astonished at the lame, crude, and impotent conclusions to which The Times' correspondent had arrived. At Bury St. Edmunds, he understood that Gentleman had asked to be allowed to visit the Union-house, expecting of course to find hearty able-bodied labourers amongst the inmates. That Gentleman also asked, as he was informed, to be shown the ward in which the able-bodied men resided, and the reply he received was, that there was no such ward in the Union. He then went from ward to ward, and could find no able-bodied pauper; he only saw a few aged and infirm inmates, and the boys of the work- 1475 house, who were amusing themselves with fife and drum. That Gentleman had staled there was an increase in the number of prisoners committed to the gaols in Suffolk since the New Poor Law had been in operation: he begged to inform the House, that, during the six years previous to the New Poor Law coming into operation, the commitments in Suffolk amounted to 5,231, and in the six subsequent years the number of commitments was 4,193, making a decrease of 1,038. The Times' correspondent had attributed the incendiary fires in Suffolk to the destitution existing in the county, he (Colonel Rush-brook) declared that there was no county in England, in which more care was bestowed on the poor or more attention paid to the necessities, the wants, and the interests, of the poor. In Suffolk there were to be found hospitals for the sick, savings-banks, benefit societies, and national schools. The allotment system, too, had been established in the county. In periods of distress the farmers were accustomed to give piece work of various kinds, and even the women and children were employed in assisting the different operations of the men. At the agricultural meetings in the county a praiseworthy encouragement was given to the labourer by the distribution of prizes; and there were examples of men who brought up large families on wages which were described as very scanty without receiving the slightest assistance from the parish of any kind or sort whatever. He could assure hon. Gentlemen that the aspect of the labourers of the county generally gave a flat denial to the statement that as a body they were a discontented people. Almost universally they were, he believed, most contented, and if measures of this sort were not agitated to disturb their peace of mind, it was his belief that they would continue contented.
§ Lord Rendlesham
denied that to the Corn Law was to be attributed all those evils which hon. Gentlemen opposite charged upon it. The tenant farmer and the poor man had as much interest in the Corn Law as any landlord in England. The League seemed to think there was but one party to the letting of a farm; he could assure them that such was not the case, and that the landlord, like the manufacturer, got no more for his commodity —viz., his land, than its fair market value. Suppose a farmer rented 100 acres of land, 1476 with wheat at 80s. a quarter, and his return was 300l. a year. That would in his part of the county (Suffolk) be divided into three rents—100l. for the landlord 100l. for the farmer and 100l. to be spent in wages and the proper cultivation of the farm. Then suppose the price of wheat to be reduced to 40s. by the abolition of the protection now enjoyed by the farmer, no doubt his rent would be reduced cent; percent.: but in the same ratio would the farmer's profit be reduced, as well as the money to be spent in wages. If the farmers in this country were compelled to bring down the price of corn to the continental level, they must have the continental system introduced. The landlords must become farmers of their own property—they must subdivide the land as in France, and then away would go the tenant farmer as a class, and, in a few years, the race of sturdy yeomen, the pride of England, would become as little known here as on the Continent. Then, to consider the question in relation to the poor man, about whom so much was said in that House, and for whom so little was done. At the same time that hon. Gentlemen opposite would reduce the price of his loaf, they would in a much greater degree reduce his means of purchasing it. In the three years, 1811, 1812, and 1813, when wheat was at 114s, 3d. a quarter, the labourer obtained 3s. 6d. a day, while in 1832, 1833, and 1834, when wheat was 43s. 4d. wages were reduced to 1s. 3d., greatly to the detriment of the labourer. He might be told that the factory labourer and the artizan would be benefited by the repeal of the Corn Law, but how could that be when the avowed purpose of those who were most clamorous for the measure, was by obtaining it to reduce wages [" No, no."] That had been distinctly avowed by the hon. Member for Durham in a speech at the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester, in January 1843. The same admission was made by the hon. Mover of the Motion before the House (Mr. Villiers) himself—[Mr. Villiers: Where?] It was reported that he had said so in that House. [Mr. Villiers: Such language never fell from me.] He had the newspaper in his pocket; but as it was denied he would say no more upon the matter. But he could not be mistaken in what fell from the hon. Member for Birmingham, as honest a man as was in the House. That hon. Member distinctly stated that the 1477 effect of the repeal of the Corn Laws must necessarily be a reduction of wages. If such were not the intention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, how did they propose, to compete with the foreign manufacturer, who had cheap labour at his command? It was said that the Corn Laws had been detrimental to the commerce of the country. He confessed he was surprised to hear such a statement from hon. Gentlemen who were well aware of how greatly our commerce had increased since 1815, and who boasted that the profits of commerce since the peace would buy up the fee simple of the whole of the land in the country. Hon. Gentlemen argued as if they were certain that the repeal of the Corn Laws would greatly extend our foreign markets. He doubted whether it would, as foreign countries, seeing how well our restrictive system had worked, had, and were now, imposing high duties upon the importation of our manufactures for the purpose of protecting their own manufactures. But suppose that our foreign markets should be extended a little, did hon. Gentlemen believe, that when the landlord and the farmer were alike deprived of half their income, the home market would remain as good as it was now? If they did, they would find themselves much deceived,—they would lose their best customers. He hoped the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would take the opportunity of that discussion, and boldly state to the House that he was prepared to maintain that system of protection under which the country had so long prospered.
§ Mr. Ward
said: Sir, I had no intention of troubling the House at all on this subject; my opinions in reference to it are so well known that it would be almost useless to do so. But the noble Lord has given a fair challenge to every man at all acquainted with the agricultural interest, and I shall not shrink from accepting it. In the first place, I think we ought to express our obligations to the noble Lord for having brought this debate back to something like reasonable grounds. To spend two hours in reviewing everything, which has been said, and done, by the Anti-Corn-Law League as has been done tonight I cannot but regard as a mode of evading the question, a waste of the time which ought to be devoted to it, if we mean to enter upon it honestly, and an attempt to divert attention from that which should be 1478 the main topic of discussion, namely, the bearing of the Corn-Laws on the public interest. If the hon. Member for Northamptonshire had said twelve months ago, "We the landowners of England, regard this Anti-Corn-Law League as an unconstitutional body, and refuse, as such, to meet it in discussion upon the merit of its propositions,"— why that would have been some excuse for the attack which he has entered into; but for a Gentleman, who occupies at this moment the honourable situation of President of the Publishing Committee of the Pro-Corn-Law Association to come forward and pass in review the acts of a body, whose conduct that Association is copying in the minutest particular—except in that most important particular, the great talent which the League has brought to bear upon the question to which it has devoted itself,—this does appear to be a most extraordinary course. I must say that anything so perfectly milk-and-water as the publications which have been issued by the Pro-Corn-Law League—anything presenting a greater contrast, in point of ability, to those of its prototype, the Anti-Corn-Law League,— I cannot possibly conceive. But, I say, the hon. Member for Northamptonshire threw away his argument before he entered upon it this evening; and he is now following, with others, the proceedings of those very persons whom he holds up to censure. Now, we are indebted to the noble Lord opposite for having brought this question back to the real point at issue; and if I could believe with him that there was a sort of sliding-scale established between the price of corn, and rent, and wages—if I could believe that, when wheat is at 80s., a farmer pays double the amount of wages that he does when it is at 40s., and that when it is at 40s. his own rent falls in proportion, I should admit then that there was some force in his argument. But the wages of labour seldom alter, and as to rent, when have we heard of anything but a miserable abatement of 5 or 10 per cent. returned to the tenant, while, as the noble Lord himself says, the value of his produce has fallen in many instances from 80s., which the law promised, to 43s. and even to 36s.? The complaint, which we make against this law is, that there is nothing like certainty for anybody; that you take your land upon a supposition which Parliament holds out, but which Parliament has never yet had, and never will have, the power of realizing. 1479 Parliament promised, in 1815, 80s. a quarter for wheat, and in six months afterwards the price was 46s. The right hon. Baronet himself promised last year a minimum of 56s. [No, no]. Well, he gave a virtual promise, and it was so understood by the country, and so received by all his adherents. There is not a man amongst them who does not let his land on the supposition that he may realize 56s. a quarter for corn, and who does not tell his tenants at his rent dinner, " Why, this is the hope held out to us by the head of Her Majesty's Government." It will not do therefore, for the right hon. Baronet to come here and say that he has never promised anything of the kind. I say it was believed everywhere throughout the country, and it is upon the faith of it that every arrangement has been made since the Corn Laws were changed. Well, now, the noble Lord complains that so much is said out of this House about the poor man, and that so little is done for him. God knows that is true enough; and I should—if I had the happiness of seeing any of them present, but they are all shrinking from this discussion—I should remind those Gentlemen, who were filled so recently with sympathy for the poor, and who expressed such hopes of making this House a benefactor to the working population of the country, of the sentiments which they uttered in recent debates when indulging in a cheap humanity at other persons' expense. Why are they not here to-night? Why is there not a man amongst them who is ready to say, "I am willing to incur some little risk, to expose myself to something like a chance of the lowering of the value of my land, to benefit those classes whose claim upon us I have so strenuously urged?" Where is the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire? Where is the whole of that Young England party who are so active here? Why, there sits the solitary representative of it, (pointing to Mr. Peter Borthwick), who has the peculiar distinction of being the only man in this House, who ventured to second the resolutions brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Knaresborough. And really I must do that hon. Gentleman the justice to say, that I never saw a man dragged more reluctantly into any affair of this kind in my life. It is most creditable to the House to find that, in the whole course of this debate, not the slightest allusion has been made to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Knaresborough, except that made by the 1480 right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, who pledged himself distinctly to prove, whenever that was moved as a substantive proposition, that for any one man in this country who could be shown to have lost employment, or to have been injured, by the operation of machinery, he would produce 100 families who were living in comparative comfort by it. Now, I think this is a very creditable position for the House to have taken on this question. But as to all those Gentlemen, of whom we heard so much in the Factory debates—who, while dealing with other people's property, held such large language about the interests of the working classes, and the absolute necessity of rescuing them from the state of degradation and distress into which they have fallen—what is become of them? Are they all grown sober like the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire? Have they all had time to become ashamed of their own propositions? That is the only construction which we can put upon their conduct. I ventured to say in the late debates, that while I had the unpleasant duty to perform of opposing a measure which was decidedly popular with the working classes—which held out to them a hope of relief that I thought could never be realised—I was prepared to support any measure, which would contribute effectually to an amended condition of the working classes, even at some risk, as others think, though I do not think it, to myself. But, with respect to those Gentlemen who, having been defeated in their own project, do not dare to discuss this question of the Corn Laws—who, having failed in enforcing their own crude theories as to diminishing the duration of labour in this country, do not. dare to meddle with the great question of the people's food—why, I must say I can conceive nothing more unhappy, I had almost said more contemptible than the position which they will henceforward occupy in public opinion. Now, the noble Lord says, that the rate of wages is always regulated by the price of corn. Really that proposition is so utterly untenable that it is surprising that any one could be found to state it in an assembly of thinking men. What is the difference in his own County between the rate of wages in 1836 and in 1843? [Lord Rendlesham: Between 1836 and 1843 there is a difference of about 2s. a-week.] This may be the case in particular parishes, from local circumstances; but, generally speaking, I venture to say that no corressponding rise whatever has taken place 1481 in the agricultural counties in the dear years, above the cheap years. In many Counties the rate of wages now is lower than it was five years ago, absolutely lower. This is not, I am aware, the fault of the farmers; I do not say they are responsible for it. They do not regulate the rate of wages; but there are more people out of employment— more people pressing on them for work—and the consequence is, that there is less money to be divided amongst them. I do not here allude to that peculiar custom which seems to prevail in the county of Suffolk, and against which, as a supporter of the New Poor Law, I beg to enter my protest— a custom subjoining or superadding another test to the test created by the Poor Law to qualify a man for receiving relief out of the rates. When I voted for that law, I considered that the sole condition upon which relief was to be administered hence forwards, was the submission of the applicant to the Workhouse test; that, if a man were so depressed by circumstances as to give up the hope of supporting himself independently, and were to apply at the workhouse for relief, that was a sufficient test both of his wants and his right. I appeal to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department to say, whether that was not the general feeling of the House in 1832. Yet, such is the additional stringency given to this law by the Board of Guardians in Suffolk, that they require an actual certificate from the ratepayers of the district that the man cannot find work amongst them before they will admit him into the Union-workhouse. [" No, no."] The practice is almost general there at the present moment. They actually require in many of the Suffolk Unions a certificate from every farmer in the parish that they have no work to give the applicant, before they will grant him any relief. What is the consequence? The poor man becomes the slave of others. When a young man goes round to look for work, a farmer may say to him, " I will give you work at 4s. or 5s. a-week; I will not give you 7s. or 8s. which you ought to have;" and then, if he refuses to accept the offer, he is not able to obtain his certificate, enabling him to obtain relief at the workhouse. If that practice is general in Suffolk, I think it accounts very much for the lamentable state of things in that county. Well, then, the noble Lord said that this Corn Law is not detrimental to commerce. Now, that is another of those daring assertions which 1482 you only make in this House because it is a packed jury. [Hear, hear.] You are sitting amongst a number of persons who applaud all these extraordinary allegations when they come from one of their own clique, from one of the party who have a pecuniary interest in this question, and who have a monopoly of power; I admit your power, though I altogether deny your justice. It is one of those allegations which no person would venture to make except in this House which is just the last place where it ought to be made. Everything which has been done as regards our commercial relations with foreign countries; the correspondence of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs with Prussia, published recently; everything, in fact, shows the practical difficulty which every Government has to contend with, when it attempts to extend the trade of the country, because the Corn Laws stand in the way of every rational proposition for widening the field of our commercial enterprise. Why, there is not a landowner in this House, who, if he could get rid of the supposition that the Corn Laws are essential to his own interest, would not join with us on the subject of free-trade. It would be his interest to do so, clearly and distinctly his interest. What interest has he in paying double the proper price for sugar? Why, he consents to it because the sugar protection is connected in his mind with the protection of corn. He stands by the West-Indians on the supposition that the West-Indians will stand by him; and so you go on, link by link, till the whole community is injured by a combination of private interests in commercial matters, which ought never to have been heard of in a British Parliament. You ought to look more at the general interest of all classes. You have no business to begin at home. You have no business to lay down your abstract principles, as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade did last night, telling us that he regarded dear bread as the greatest of public calamities, while in the same breath—almost in the same sentence—he added, that he looked upon the admission of 160,000 quarters of corn, during the first six months of the present year, at a duty of 17s. a quarter, as a proof of the admirable working of the present Corn Law. The right hon. Gentleman's practice is the very counterpart of his theories. The right hon. Gentleman, too, at the head of the Government lays down abstract principles in the most satisfactory manner. We should be too 1483 happy to have the right hon. Baronet as our leader if he would only do half what he admits that he ought to do; if he would only work out one tithe of his own theory he would be the leading man in this country in the application of free-trade principles. I should, myself, prefer him ten thousand times over to my noble Friend the Member for the City of London; because there he (Lord J. Russell) stands with a sort of dogged pertinacity, the type, in this House, of a fixed duty, which no one wants. He says to his opponents, "Whenever you quarrell with the right hon. Baronet — whenever you have a lover's quarrel with him, like that which you had the other day, which I am sorry that you so soon made up—whenever you, come again to that position—here is a fixed duty for you, in return for your support. I adhere to the great principle of a fixed duty; I do not say what it should be, mind —we will talk about that when it comes to the point—but I adhere to the principle of a fixed duty. The right hon. Baronet adheres to no principle at all; but here am I the representative of the principle of a fixed duty, and, when you want to come to a compromise on this subject, you will find me a very convenient person." Now, I do not say that if the worst comes to the worst, a fixed duty would not be preferable to the sliding-scale; but if the right hon. Baronet would only give me some hope that a day would come when he would really part company with the drag-chains that hang around him on that side of the House, and set about working out a portion of those large, and comprehensive theories, which he has had the merit of putting before the country, in the clearest and most convincing language, no man in this House would be more glad to follow him than I should. The right hon. Baronet makes so good a case out of a very bad one, that if, besides putting forth good principles, he would combine them with practice, I am quite sure that his reasoning would be irresistible, and I should feel both pride and pleasure in following him as a leader. I saw with great regret, however, that the right hon. Baronet displayed an inclination to-night to make a high bid for an accommodation with the Gentlemen, who sit round him; or at least with the hon. Members for Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, and Winchester. There was a most marked, and significant cheer given by the right hon. Baronet, when those hon. Members said, "We are disposed now to depend 1484 on the Government; we did not rely upon them much before, it is true; but still, after the manly and straightforward speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (not remarkable, by the way, for straightforwardness in his speeches), we are disposed to believe that the new compact entered into by the Government will be held sacred." One hon. Member said, he really placed implicit confidence in the right hon. Baronet; he would not be put off by the invidious hint thrown out by the hon. Member for Manchester; he said, "I really believe that the right hon. Baronet intends to give this law a full and fair trial." Well, the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) cheered this most vociferously; he actually got excited on the subject; he cheered what was said in a manner which I did not expect—having seldom seen the right hon. Baronet manifest much interest in what passed in this House—but so important did he consider this patched up accommodation with a large body of his supporters, that he put himself out of his ordinarily equable course in this House to cheer most vociferously the appeal which was made to him. Now, I wish to ask the right hon. Baronet what he considers a fair trial? Is it one, two, three, four, or ten years? You must expect great vicissitudes. Why, I very much doubt whether we should yesterday have had the pleasure of hearing the speech of the President of the Board of Trade had it not been for that timely shower which came to resuscitate the hopes of the agriculturists. But what, I ask, is a fair trial of this indefensible system? How are we to meet bad harvests, I want to know, for one, two, or three years? How long is this country to endure suffering and misery before the right hon. Baronet will be placed in such a position as to be able, with a decent regard to consistency and to past professions, to part company with his followers, and say to them, very amicably, "You really do not know your own interests; I am a better judge of them than yourselves; and you may take my word for it that the time is come when it is absolutely impossible any longer to resist the demand for a change in the Corn laws." I know that we have to labour under the greatest possible disadvantage at this moment in arguing with gentlemen who never listen to anything but great practical grievances. When I pointed out last year that 10,000 persons had been actually thrown as paupers upon the parish 1485 of Sheffield, who were all earning good wages three years previously; when I said that the Corn Law was consigning them to irremediable poverty, while Manchester, Paisley, Stockport, and other towns were sending forth their remonstrance against the same law; and when the right hon. Baronet himself acknowledged that the greatest possible evils under which the people of this country suffered were those which arose from a period of commercial depression—that was the time for discussing the Corn Laws. The right hon. Baronet could not bear the idea of such distress. It affected him, I believe, as much as anyone. Hon. Gentlemen were not then disposed to take high ground. They then saw that such a course might be attended with serious dangers; they saw that the aristocracy of this country had much at stake independently of the Corn Laws, that many other things would remain after those laws were repealed, and they were disposed to make some sacrifices. But now, under the idea that there is some hope of keeping down popular discontent they are assuming quite a different tone. I repeat, therefore, that we are arguing under the greatest possible disadvantage, but still I come back to the same point. I ask the right hon. Baronet what he means by a fair trial of this law? I ask him whether England, the greatest commercial country in the world, is to be governed by a principle which depends on the weather-glass—by a scale which rises and falls with the barometer at a particular season of the year? I ask him whether the food of the people is to be made the subject of the most unprincipled competition amongst the landlords, without any advantage to any other class, while the system is, in a great measure, repudiated by the tenantry of the country. [Cries of" No, no."] You say not. Now, I distinctly meet you on that ground. I say that in every step which has been taken by the Pro-Corn-Law League the landlords are the persons who have put their shoulders to the wheel. The landlords are the persons who have coerced the tenantry; and the landlords have paid every shilling of the expense which has been incurred. There has not been a subscription in any part of the country which, bonâ fide, has not been headed by landlords. In the first association which was formed, Mr. Tower, of Essex, had the honour of putting down his name for 50l. We all know the sort of machinery which carried the last election. In every one of the counties the 1486 squirearchy and the church were found in holy alliance for the protection of agriculture. As many letters have been written by landlords to their tenants to induce them to take part in these meetings as were written to induce them to take the part they did in the last election. Never was there anything so bolstered up and so factitious as the whole appearance of Pro-Corn-Law enthusiasm. I am perfectly certain that, if at this moment there were, from any overruling circumstances, a change of opinion in this House; if gentlemen were to say to their tenants, "We are prepared to meet you on fair terras; you have not the interest which you fancy you have in these laws; and we are quite ready to enter upon the question of leases with you, with a view to an alteration; we are quite prepared to provide against that confusion of existing interests;" for I will not mince the matter—I know there must be a confusion of existing interests, for a certain period; —" we are quite willing to assist you for two or three years after your protection is withdrawn, and we will then let you hold your land on terms which will be advantageous to all parties," I venture to affirm that there is not a tenant-farmer in this country who would not gladly close with his landlord on such terms, I say, then, that the question being one in the settlement of which not merely the landlords but the whole population of this country have a direct interest, and one which has so close a connexion with the discontent of large classes of the community, it would be a much wiser, a much more honourable, a much more straightforward, and a much more profitable course for hon. Gentlemen opposite to grapple with it manfully, instead of staving off the evil hour, as they will do to-night, by a large majority of votes, without convincing any human being that they have one single argument in their justification.
§ Sir J. Trollope
as a Member of one of the agricultural societies to which the hon. Member opposite had referred, rose to deny in the most positive terms the imputations thrown upon the landlords with respect to the origin of those associations. The hon. Member had asserted that the societies in question had copied the Corn Law League in all respects save in the display of talent; now, he had no wish to claim that attribute on behalf of the protective meetings, but what he would assert was, that they had' not copied the 1487 example of the League in endeavouring to influence the elections of Members of that House, nor should he for one have ever given his countenance to the society with which he was connected, if he had not been sure that its proceedings would in no respect interfere with the exercise of the elective franchise in the county of Lincoln. The hon. Member had also said, that the societies formed for the protection of the agricultural interests were repudiated by the tenantry, who had been stimulated to join them by their landlords. ["No, no."] Hon. Gentlemen might cry "No, no," but he had taken down the words of the hon. Member for Sheffield, and that was their exact purport. Now, let him ask who it was formed the societies in question, if it was not the great body of tenantry throughout the country? They called upon the landlords to come forward and place themselves at their head, in order to stem the tide of agitation, and to protect them from the ruinous consequences of a forcible abolition of the present system. The origin of the agricultural protective associations was self-defence, that of the Anti-Corn-Law League was aggression, and aggression of the most violent description. All that the landlords and farmers desired was to stand upon the present protective system as regarded themselves. Yes; and the hon. Gentle-men opposite had taught the agricultural classes to feel, to know their own strength, of which, now they had once ascertained the greatness, they did not intend to lose sight. The hon. Member had asserted that the leases and the agreements actually in operation respecting rents were based on the assurance that the farmer would receive 56s. a quarter for his corn under the existing Corn Law. Did the hon. Member mean to imply that there had been any intimation given of the certainty of such a result, or that there were any such leases in existence, because if so, he must inform the hon. Member that in the county with which he was connected there were no leases whatever, and that notwithstanding the tenancies throughout the whole district were tenancies at will, better prices were paid for tillage, and the labourers and farmers were in more comfortable circumstances, than in counties where leases were granted. The vast tracts of waste land and wood, recovered and brought into tillage in Lincolnshire enabled the farmers there to give good 1488 wages, and of late labour had been so abundant that numbers of the Irish peasantry had been constantly employed. He would have called on the hon. Member for Suffolk had he been in his place, to consider the question how many of the fires which had recently taken place in that county originated in the wretchedly low state of wages there, and what amount of encouragement to these acts of wickedness was not afforded by the consequent discontent of the working classes? There were no such acts of incendiarism to be observed in Lincolnshire. Neither did the farm labourers emigrate wholesale with their families into the manufacturing districts from want of employ. In the year 1836 attempts were made to entice the Lincolnshire labourers into the neighbouring manufacturing towns, and they were told that there was employment sufficient for their wives and children as well. The children, indeed, would have suited the views of these persons better than the ruddy-faced peasant, but the offers were withstood, and, notwithstanding the Poor Law Commissioners gave encouragement to those offers, they were rejected, and did not tempt the labourers to quit their fields, whilst, on the other hand, the landlords gave them throughout the whole of that year (1836) a sufficiency of wages to maintain themselves at the then existing prices. He would again say to the landlords and farmers of Suffolk—employ the labouring classes, pay them an adequate price for their labour, and they might depend upon it they would hear no more of incendiarism or other similar crimes; nor would the nation have the painful alternative of listening to denunciations and to threats of reviving the severity of the penal laws in order to cheek those crimes. He had been led away from the topic which had called him up, that, namely, of refuting the hon. Member's assertions respecting the origin of the agricultural protective societies, which he would find to be not only legal, and constitutional, but also based upon rational principles. He had presented many petitions, having for their object a continuance of the present protective system, and those petitions were signed most numerously by labourers as well in the towns as in the rural districts of his county, and who moreover were just as much the customers of the manufacturers as any other classes, and as much entitled to consideration as the other 1489 branches of occupation and trade. If protection was deemed requisite towards some of the great productive bodies, why should it be denied to others? And let him remind hon. Members opposite, that if it were to be refused to the agriculturists it would only be just to take off all restrictions upon their productiveness; and in that case the rich looms of Lincolnshire would produce a better supply of the filthy weed, and at a cheaper rate, than those who were addicted to its use could now procure it at; but then, in that case, what would become of the revenue raised by the Customs and Excise duties upon tobacco? Beetroot, likewise, might be grown to any extent, and the manufacture of sugar carried on upon a scale calculated to supply that article of consumption in great quantities; but what would become of the Sugar Duties in that case? or of the colonists, with whom he must avow he had a most cordial sympathy? If the views entertained by the hon. Member opposite were to be carried into operation, and the protection now afforded by the Corn Laws to agricultural produce was to be taken away, the landlords would be the last persons who would suffer by the change; for the farm labourers would flow into the manufacturing districts as land went out of cultivation; and the consequences upon the price of operative labour would be such as he should not at that moment attempt to describe.
§ Mr. Milner Gibson
said:—Sir, I think that, in going into an investigation of the mode in which these two societies have been formed, viz., the society for maintaining the Corn Laws, and the society for abolishing the Corn Laws, we have been led from the real question, which is —what is the benefit supposed to be conferred upon the community by the Corn Laws? The Corn Laws are a direct interference with the freedom of trade, the freedom of industry, and the freedom which a man may fairly claim to exercise; and it is incumbent on those who defend this interference to prove to the community the advantages conferred upon it by restriction. An hon. Gentleman opposite, in reply to my hon. Friend, said, he was quite mistaken as to the origin of the Pro-Corn-Law Society. He said the tenants were the originators of that society. Now, coming from an agricultural county myself, I know how easy it is to give a hint to the steward, that the tenants 1490 are expected at a meeting on some particular day, on behalf of the interests of agriculture. To tell me that this society originated with the farming tenants, is to tell me what all the experiences of my earliest childhood convince me is not the case. And, Sir, with regard to the agricultural labourer—I want to know who it is that represents the agricultural labourer in these agricultural societies. I know that when the originators of the Pro-Corn-Law League Society first met in London, with his Grace the Duke of Richmond at their head, there were some persons present to represent the tenants; but it is remarkable that no one appeared to represent the agricultural labourer. There was not one single person deputed by the agricultural labourers to come to that Association when it was first formed, and say that the agricultural labourers were in favour of maintaining scarcity as being for their advantage. Well, Sir, there was another statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, which was flatly denied by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire says, that the declarations of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government have had no effect on the value of land, and have had no effect on the bargains between landlord and tenant. Why, was there ever such an assertion made before? I, myself, saw in the London papers, the other day advertisements for the sale of estates by Mr. George Robins, in which he distinctly stated, as one of the grounds why agriculturists must come forward and give a large sum for these estates, that the right hon. Gentleman had declared that the Corn Law of 1841 was a final and irrevocable settlement of this great question. Why, when we see these things in the public papers, put forward by an eminent auctioneer, who wants to sell an estate, — does an eminent auctioneer want to get less for an estate than it is worth?—does he not want to get the largest amount which he can possibly obtain? Well, then, I regret to hear these statements, disparaging the importance of Her Majesty's Government and the right hon. Gentleman; and I must confess that I have observed on this side of the House a disposition amongst Gentlemen opposite to put forced interpretations upon the statements of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government with a view of spreading unfounded reports. I have 1491 observed a studied attempt of this kind. Now, Sir, I do not say this for one moment with any desire of fomenting those unhappy divisions which prevail on the Conservative benches. I do not say it with that view, but I say it as a Friend of the English farmer. My own interests, and the interests of those with whom I am connected, are all bound up with the agricultural class, and there is no class which I desire to see flourish so much as the agricultural tenantry. Heaven forbid, then, that I should intany place whatever, either in this House or elsewhere, say one syllable disparaging the individual characters of men because they happen to be farmers. But, Sir, I complain of this attempt to misinterpret the right hon. Gentleman's statements, because I do feel a great interest in the occupying tenantry of the country. For what is the fact? You are teaching them that the Corn Law protection is permanent; you are teaching them that the right hon. Gentleman has said in this House what he has never said, and what he will not say, viz., that he contemplates the permanence of protection to agriculture, or of the present Corn Laws, or of any other Corn Law. All he has said is, that at the present moment he does not contemplate a change; that he has no measure now to submit. That is a very different thing, however, from the right hon. Gentleman getting up and saying that he contemplates the permanent maintenance of the protective principle; and for Gentlemen to put that interpretation on his words, and thus to strengthen the error into which the agricultural tenantry have fallen—viz., that it is better to rely upon what Parliament can do for them than to rely upon what their own enterprise and their own industry can do for them—I say that, when Gentlemen strengthen that fatal error, they are not acting as the true friends of the farmer; they are not promoting the real and permanent interests of the landed proprietors. But are they in any way advancing the true welfare of the community? Sir, we have also heard a great deal about incendiarism. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire read us a letter upon what the farmers of Suffolk ought to do. He has attributed incendiarism to distress. And what did he go on to say? He said that the farmer must pay them better wages, and that individuals must do this, that, and the other; by those very expressions 1492 showing that he has taken a completely erroneous view of the whole question of wages, and of the contract between the employer and the labourer. Why, people cannot pay what wages they please. It is not in the power of individuals to regulate wages. There may be a state of distress in this country produced by your laws and your systems over which landlords, farmers, and labourers have no control whatever. You may have placed it out of the power of the farmers in particular counties to employ labourers. It is my belief that you have. It is my belief that there is a redundant population; it is my belief that there is that pressure upon the means of subsistence, that men who are competing with one another for work will hire themselves for the smallest possible wages which will enable them to live. Therefore do not let us talk of what individuals can do, but let us consider whether there are not some causes arising from our legislation which produces this discontent and this distress in the country, which apparently has within itself all the resources of happiness and prosperity. It is, indeed, remarkable that incendiarism should prevail in these three particular counties, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, because these three counties are the very counties of all others in the United Kingdom where protection is supposed to be the most effective for good. These are grain-growing districts to a great extent; they are districts in which you principally grow wheat and barley, which, under the Corn Law, receive so large an amount of protection; and they are districts also in which you have all those means and appliances in the greatest abundance, which you frequently tell us are essential to the morality and good conduct of the population. Why, Sir, there are no counties in England in which the clergy so abound as in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk; so much so that it is the practice of friends of mine, when they have met a person with whose occupation they have not been acquainted, dressed in the garb of a gentleman, to conclude at once that he is a clergyman—to such an extent does this class abound. Yet, notwithstanding the means and appliances for good which exist in these counties, you have there a system of the most awful crime—for what crime can be more awful and more appalling than incendiarism. And, Sir, I have undertaken, and I trust I shall soon have 1493 it in my power, to move for a Committee to inquire into the state of the poor in those counties, in order that we may know what are the causes of this incendiarism. I must say we have a right to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, that we should be allowed to live in peace without danger of our property being burnt or our lives endangered. I utterly repel those insinuations which have been thrown out, I must say, in a manner unworthy of him, by the President of the Board of Trade, that this incendiarism must be the result of agitation against the Corn Laws. Sir, I say that that insinuation is unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman. I defy him to produce the smallest atom of proof that any incentive to crime has been thrown out in those counties by any of the advocates of freedom of trade. I should think it unworthy of myself if I had attributed to the society for maintaining a scarcity any such effect, although that society has agitated those counties far more than the Anti-Corn-Law League. For one placard which the Anti-Corn-Law League has stuck on the gable-ends of houses, the society for maintaining a high price of corn has circulated, I venture to say, six or even ten; but at the same time, although you have been agitating the country—although you have been telling the labourers and the farmers that the interest of the community depends on the high price of corn—I should be ashamed of myself if I could insinuate for one moment that its Members had incited any person to set fire to property, with a view of promoting their own ends. It might, indeed, be said, that the agitation of the Pro-Corn Law League Society had induced persons to destroy corn, with a view of promoting their own interest; because your doctrine is, that the less corn there is in the country the more the labourer will get; that the less the whole the greater the parts. That is the doctrine which we have heard explained by the noble Lord the Member for East Suffolk, because he says the dearer corn is, and the less there is of it in the country, the more the labourer will get for his share. A system of distribution must be strange, indeed, if such be the result of scarcity. Whatever may be the rate of wages produced by the alterations in the price of provisions, I will venture to assert, without fear of denial, that in no case will you find that, during the cheap year, the 1494 wages of the labourer have not given him a greater command over the necessaries and comforts of life than he had in the dear year. Be the wages what they may, you will find on the whole that in the cheap year he has more of the comforts and necessaries of life, and especially a larger quantity of bread, than in the dear year. This, Sir, I believe to be the fact. But the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in his speech last night, seemed to think that my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton was not entitled to come forward and ask for an explanation of the grounds on which protection is based; that he was not entitled to ask from year to year the reason why you interfere with the Corn Law. He said that if we would refer back to Hansard's Debates, and look back to speeches which had been made at various times in Parliament and in other places, we should find that it had been frequently and clearly explained what were the advantages of protection, and that it was unreasonable in the hon. Gentleman to ask him (the President of the Board of Trade) again to go through the various advantages conferred upon the community by interfering with the corn trade. Now, I confess I have read a good deal on this subject, but amongst all the speeches which have been made I cannot find one in which these advantages and benefits are clearly set forth. The right hon. Gentleman and others say, that we are visionary theorists—that we are schemers, and that we are not entitled, without proving the disadvantages of the Corn Laws, to come forward and call upon the Government to show its advantages. Now, I take a completely different view of this question. I say that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and those who maintain the Corn Laws, are visionary schemers. You interfere with what is the natural course of things. You come forward with a subtle and refined scheme of what is called an ascending and descending scale of graduated duties, for regulating the importation of foreign corn, and you say that it is a beautiful and ingeniously-contrived plan for making mankind happy, and trade and agriculture prosper. Now, Sir, I have no confidence in this subtle and refined scheme. I do not agree in the extreme opinions which the right hon. Gentleman holds as to the results which 1495 he can produce in the state of society by this ingenious device. I prefer trusting to a plan based on common sense; I prefer relying upon the natural course of events—on the operation of men's interests, on their actions rather than upon the operation of this beautifully contrived, but, as I think, visionary scheme, which the right hon. Gentleman supports, but which I hope will not be very long maintained in this country. Now, I say, that the right hon. Gentleman is the man of extreme opinions. He holds extreme opinions of a device and mere scheme; and when we look around we do not find that those evils which the scheme is designed to prevent, exist. Well, then, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London has extreme opinions in favour of what may be accomplished by a moderate fixed duty. Now, I do not think that society will be made happy; I do not think that trade will flourish; I do not think that agriculture will be improved; I do not think that society at large will be advanced in social welfare, by this scheme of a moderate fixed duty. I will prefer, instead of them, to allow men to follow their own interest in their own way; to buy where they can buy cheapest, and to sell where they can sell dearest; taking it for granted that Providence has intended that by that course, and by that course alone, society should flourish, and mankind become happy and prosperous. That, Sir, is the view which I take of this question, and I must, therefore, altogether repudiate the notion, that hon. Gentlemen on this side who come forward and ask for a total repeal of the Corn Laws, are visionary schemers—nothing of the kind. It is you who are visionary schemers. You interfere with the natural freedom of industry to which men are entitled; you do not prevent misery, you do not prevent distress, you do not prevent great fluctuations in the price of corn, and we have a right, therefore, to call upon you to desist from interfering; and if you do not desist from interfering, we have a right to call upon you to explain clearly and definitely what are the advantages which you profess to confer upon society by those subtle schemes of yours; and if you fail to prove the advantages, I say we are entitled to demand of you the total and immediate repeal of the Corn Laws. Now, with regard to the particular class with whom I am connected by representation in this 1496 House, I mean the manufacturers of Manchester, I want to know,—as you tell me that the Corn Law, in some way or other, benefits all classes of society,—I want to know how it benefits them. I want to know what is the advantage which is conferred upon the export manufacturer of this country by the impediments which you throw in the way of his operations. You say that he gets an advantage of some kind by the sale of his goods in the home market; that, I believe is the argument. But I want to know whether, when a buyer goes from a town in Norfolk—I will take, for instance, the town of Norwhich—to buy a bale of cotton goods in Manchester for the purpose of retailing them in Norfolk—I want to know whether he will give any more for that bale of cotton goods than a buyer would give who bought those cotton goods for the purpose of selling them in America. There is the hon. Member for Dorsetshire: I have no doubt that he buys cotton goods, or at least that his tenants or labourers do in the neighbouring village. I want to know whether, when a party in that village goes to Manchester to buy cotton goods, he will give more for them than a person who wishes to sell them in New York; and if he will not, I want to know what is the advantage which the Corn Law gives to the manufacturer over what is called the foreign trade. [An hon. Member: "Oh, oh."] Unless the hon. Member will give more for the goods, I really cannot see what peculiar advantage the manufacturer gains. If he can prove that I am wrong, I shall be happy to admit it; but I cannot see what advantage you give the manufacturer over another person if you do not give him more for his goods. But then reverse the case. You expect that the Manchester manufacturer should give you a great deal more for your wheat than the New York dealer in wheat would charge. You will not give him one farthing more for his bale of Manchester goods. No; you know full well, though you profess not to know it, that, inasmuch as these goods are exported to all parts of the world, the foreign price governs the home price. You get them, therefore, at the same price as the foreigner gets them, and you take from the manufacturer a great deal more for your wheat than the foreigner would sell his wheat for. Why, this appears to me to be a very odd sort of reciprocity, or home trade, or whatever it may 1497 be called; indeed, I think it has been well described by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland as no better than robbery. I say that when a manufacturer works up cotton into cotton goods it is his own property, and no one else has any right to interfere with it. I will take a piece of cotton goods belonging; to a Manchester manufacturer, and I defy the hon. Member for Dorsetshire to show that he ever had any property either in the raw material, in the capital which purchased it, in the persons who worked it, or in the machinery which was used in the production of the article? I want to know, then, if he has not a particle of property in the matter, how he can reconcile it to himself to say, "I am entitled, because I am a proprietor of land, to prevent the manufacturer from exchanging his cotton goods in the foreign market for that produce which the country most needs?" Can it be said for one moment that the landed proprietors of this country, because they are proprietors, have any property in the industry of other men? Can it be said that they have any right, as landed proprietors, to interfere with that property? The manufacturers and the working classes now come to the House very much in the same position as Catholics and Dissenters did in former times. They come to this House complaining of disabilities; they say, "We are persons living by our energies, by our talents, and by our capital; we are not owners of land; we live by commercial exchanges. Trade is a legitimate and proper calling, and one which is within our reach—it is a branch of business that we can follow. But you have laws—not for the public service, not for the public revenue, not for State necessity, but for the advantage of a particular class—which prevent our following those pursuits and this business which Providence has placed within our reach" Now, I ask any Gentleman in this House what is the plea which you can possibly set up for interfering with this freedom of exchange on the part of your fellow-subjects? They are Englishmen, owing allegiance to your Sovereign, paying your taxes, obeying your laws, and demanding as their right the true protection of your laws, namely, that their property should not be interfered with. Their property consists also in freedom of trade. They do not wish to interfere with your estates; all they ask is that you should be satisfied 1498 with your estates. You bought, you inherited, you possessed the estates; but you never bought, you never inherited, you never possessed the right to tax other men, because you held those estates. You are entitled to the full possession, of the tranquil possession, of the property which you hold; but you must give up what is not your own, and what you now hold simply by virtue of the political power which you possess in this country, enabling you to take a portion of the earnings of the labouring classes in this country—a large slice from the loaf of the poorest subject in Her Majesty's dominions. That is the matter of fact as connected with this question; and I call upon the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel), and I call upon the Paymaster of the Forces (Sir E. Knatchbull), after their long experience, and by the repeated arguments on both sides of the question which they have heard in former Parliaments as well as in the present—I call upon them, once for all, to come forward and say what is the ground upon which the landed proprietary of this country claim for themselves, as a matter of justice, the right of interfering with the freedom of industry. It is a fair question. I well recollect reading at the University of Cambridge, in the works of Dr. Paley, that every restraint, was per se, an evil; and that it was incumbent upon those who maintained such restraint, and upon those who imposed it, to prove its advantage, to prove distinctly and to demonstration, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a manifest advantage was conferred upon society by such restraint; and he said it was not incumbent upon those who suffered from the restraint, even to prove its disadvantage. Therefore, I am now appealing to you in strict conformity with those principles which I have been taught in one of your universities. I have been taught by Dr. Paley, to ask you—the Legislature, to ask you—the governing power, when there is a restraint which is complained of—I have been taught by Dr. Paley's philosophy to demand as my right, that the advantage of that restraint should be clearly and explicitly stated; and I have been taught also by that philosophy, that, unless the advantage is clearly and explicitly stated, I am entitled to demand the immediate cessation of that restraint. Now, Sir, we have been told that it is an extreme course, the total and immediate repeal of the 1499 Corn Laws. But I am prepared to say, after a full consideration, that with reference even to the vested interests of those who have hitherto been protected, the total and immediate repeal of the Corn Laws is the best mode of settling the question. In the first place, any other mode of settling the question must still leave something to be done—it must still leave some uncertainty and doubt. No settlement short of that can satisfy the commercial and manufacturing classes, whose rights you have so unjustly interfered with. And, when we come to vested interests, we must consider what is the nature of that possession which has entitled you to plead vested interests. It must be remembered that it has all along been an adverse possession. No time creates an interest where possession has all along: been adverse. Was the possession of this Corn Law ever acquiesced in by the commercial and manufacturing classes? Why, at the time when you passed the Corn Law, what was the character of this House? It was a borough mongering Parliament, it was a Parliament of landowners alone. What was then the qualification for a seat in this House? The possession of land. A man could not take his seat in this House—he could not have a voice in this House—unless he was in the receipt of 600l, a-year from land. [A Voice, "Three."] Were the large manufacturing towns represented when you passed your Corn Laws? Were any means taken to ascertain that there was acquiescence on the part of that large portion of Her Majesty's subjects in this interference with the freedom of industry? On the contrary; you passed your laws, and you have always maintained them under a protest. You were told at the time you passed them—you continued to be told throughout their existence—that when other parties had obtained power in the Legislature, they would repeal those laws; so far were they from being acquiesced in. I say, then, Sir, that it was an adverse possession, and you cannot therefore plead that time has given you a title. I ask you what consideration was shown for the vested interests of the manufacturing class at the close of the late war, when you passed the Corn Law? Let the hon. Member for Dorsetshire consider this. What did Lord Liverpool say? He said that the object of passing the Corn Law, at the close of the war was, 1500 that of preventing the settlement between landlord and tenant, which would take place in consequence of the peace. He said in his speech that there were many who demanded inquiry—there were many who asked for delay—there were many who thought it would be better that the country should settle down into this new state of things quietly, without any attempt on the part of the Legislature to alter the position of any new class. But were the demands and entreaties of these different persons attended to? No, you proceeded at once, without inquiry, knowing that you were interfering most materially with the manufactures and trade of the country. I say you proceeded at once to pass this law, simply because you were unwilling that rents should fall from the prices at which they had been during the war, and that there should be that new settlement between landlord and tenant which was expected as the consequence of peace. Well, now, what is this vested interest? You, who so disregard the interests of others, were you not aware, at the close of the war, that the manufacturers of this country would have to contend with the manufacturers of other countries in a way that they had not had to contend with them during the continuance of the war? Were you not aware that the establishment of peace in the different countries of Europe would cause the manufacturers of those countries to commence new works, and that foreigners would necessarily come into competition with the manufacturers of this country? But did you regard their interest for one moment? No, you at once said. "Rent, rent, rent, that is our point: we will sacrifice all interest to rent, and, having power in the Legislature, we will pass this Corn Law with a view of preventing that settlement between landlord and tenant, which we all know must, without that law, be the consequence of peace." This, I believe, is not an exaggerated statement of what took place at that period; and that has been the view taken, as far as I am able to judge from reading its history, in all subsequent changes made in the Corn Law. You have never consulted the interest of any other portion of the community; you have never regarded any entreaties for inquiry; you have never passed any other Corn Law except with the view of keeping up your rents. I conscientiously believe that this is the case. When you talk 1501 of abuse, let me tell you, that these are plain facts. The most eminent writers have taken the same view of your conduct. It is not the Anti-Corn-Law League merely which says these things; it is not only men who are supposed to be political agitators, violent party spirits, and so on, who utter these expressions; the same view has been taken by men of the highest authority, and the keenest judgment; by poets, by philosophers, by men in almost every station of society, I will venture to say, that in all the abuse of the Anti-Corn-Law League, you will not find any abuse equal to that of one of the most eminent poets who have written in the British language, himself one of the landed class. What does he say of your conduct at the close of the war? He says you wereThe last to bid the cry of warfare cease,The first to make a malady of peace;For what were all these country patriots born?To hunt and vote, and raise the price of corn?What does he go on to say, with regard to the war itself? This language is more violent than any used by the Anti-Corn-Law League; and it is the language of one of the most eminent poets in this country, a man whose works are circulated in all parts of the world. What does he say with regard to your conduct—I mean the conduct of the landed proprietors— during the war? I do not say that his words are true, I only quote them to show that the Anti-Corn-Law League are not the only persons who have used strong language with regard to the landed proprietors of this country:—Safe in their barns, these Sabine tillers sentTheir brethren out to battle—why? for rent!Year after year they voted cent. per cent.Blood, sweat, and tear, wrung millions— why? for rent!They roared, they dined, they drank, they swore they meantTo die for England—why then live? for rent!The peace has made one general malcontent,Of these high market patriots, war was rent!Their love of country, millions all misspent,How reconcile? by reconciling rent.And will they not repay the treasures lent!That refers to the idea which prevailed, that landlords had actually some scheme of avoiding the payment of the national debt:— 1502No, down with everything, but up with rent!Their good, ill, health, wealth, joy, or discontent,Being, end, aim, religion—rent! rent! rent!This noble poet does not even exclude the Church itself from joining with you in this crusade against society, for the purpose of keeping up rent, because they, be it remarked, bore an interest in tithes:—So Mother Church, while all religion writhesLike Niobe, weeps o'er her offspring — Tithes!Now, I know that many excellent men are supporters of the Corn Laws; and undoubtedly there may be numbers amongst the class who support protection, who sincerely believe that it is a benefit to the country, I only quote these words to show the position in which you then stood in the estimation of men of high intellect and high talent, who, from their position, were capable of judging of the real motives with which you proposed the Corn Laws. Sir, for one I confess it appears to me that, notwithstanding what may be said about the advance and retrogression of different societies, the time is coming when the community will no longer submit to this gross tyranny on the part of the landed proprietors with reference to the Corn Law. And when it is urged that manufacturers and traders have protection, I reply, that in all the petitions which I have had the honour of presenting to this House from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and from other parties representing the manufacturing portion of the community, it has been stated, that they wish for the total abolition of all protecting duties on manufactures, as well as of all protecting duties on corn. I refer especially to the Petition of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, which denies altogether the doctrine of protection, and demands of you freedom of industry for all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. I should not feel that warmth in the subject which I now do if this were not the case. Still, the wrong which you inflict on the community could not be made right by the circumstance that there were other wrongs inflicted upon it; it stands there still to be judged by itself. If you favour some particular branch of industry in which there is no monopolised agent employed, all that you do thus is to raise the price of the commodity to the 1503 consumer. But you do not increase profits, or the wages of the person employed, and for this simple reason, that manufactures being open, whilst there is capital in the country, there will be persons ready to embark in them when they find that a particular manufacture produces a higher amount than any other branch of industry. I believe that one object which many propose to themselves by maintaining the Corn Laws is, to secure what has been called by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, the predominance or ascendancy of the landed interest, and that the motives of their supporters are rather political than pecuniary. They fear, that if unrestricted freedom is given for the exertion of the energy, enterprise, and capital which are ready to be employed in this country, an equalizing and democratic tendency will be imparted to society, and that they may not be allowed to sit longer in the halls of the Legislature, and enact such laws as accord with their own feelings and interests only. What does the Duke of Wellington, who does not say what he does not mean, assert to be the object of the Corn Laws? The maintenance of the landed aristocracy in their present social position in this country. The right hon. Gentleman, the Paymaster of the Forces, made a similar declaration not long ago. When the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) comes down to the House, and reads tables of corn imported, and manufactured goods exported, I assert that it savours of the same spirit. It seems to say, "You have so much trade; are you not satisfied? See what we have permitted you to have in reward for your exertions and industry." The real question is as to the amount of trade which these laws have prevented; not what the manufacturers now enjoy, but what they might enjoy under a free-trade. Then the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, got up a scene yesterday evening, about a petition from the landowners, manufacturers, and farmers of North Lancashire, with 16,000 signatures. Were they farmers or manufacturers? [Lord Stanley: Half the manufacturers of Preston and Blackburn signed the petition.] That might be, but I want to know what proportion of the whole 16,000 were manufacturers? I very much doubt, if these persons had known that the petition was for the maintenance of the graduated scale, whether they would have signed the petition. If the noble 1504 Lord was so confident that protection would benefit the manufacturers, I wish the noble Lord, as Member for North Lancashire, would rise in his place, and say that he was convinced he conferred a great benefit on his constituents by supporting the right hon. Gentleman's Corn Law. Will the noble Lord undertake to rise in his place, and say that that was his conscientious belief. [Lord Stanley: Yes; I say so.] Upon the manufacturers? [Lord Stanley: I represent agriculturists and manufacturers, and I believe I am conferring a benefit on the manufacturers.] I hope the noble Lord does not suppose that they will be contented with that explanation. I should like to hear from the noble Lord the grounds on which he thought so. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh if they please, but the noble Lord did state the grounds once. Why? That they might be enabled to keep grooms and gardeners. Considering the position held by the noble Lord in this House, we have heard very little from him as to the effect of the Corn Law upon the trading and manufacturing interest. It is true that he did once frighten the agriculturists by his description of Tamboff: but he has never satisfied the manufacturers that the keeping out of corn is for their benefit. I think some are treating this question in a way which amounts to little short of insult. When Gentlemen get up, they do not speak to the question. Hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side are responsible in this matter, for they can alter the law, whilst the Opposition cannot. The right hon. Baronet is their leader, because they cannot form an Administration out of the Central Society for the Protection of Agriculture. The right hon. Baronet is nearer to the League than he is to the Central Society for the Protection of Agriculture, for he has acknowledged the principles of the former to be right in the abstract, and has professed his belief that they must eventually prevail. The right hon. Baronet is responsible for the Corn Law; he imposed it, and he ought to give a distinct explanation of the benefit which it has conferred upon my constituents. The right hon. Baronet cannot legislate for a portion only of the community.
§ Mr. G. Bankes
could assure the hon. Member for Manchester that there was no disposition amongst hon. Gentlemen at the Ministerial side of the House to sneer 1505 at the hon. Gentleman's arguments, but it was out of their power to restrain their risible faculties when the hon. Gentleman appealed to the benches below—the front benches at the other side of the House being at the moment altogether empty. He had every disposition to listen to what fell from the hon. Member with that degree of attention to which his observations were entitled, as one who had considered the subject with that degree of attention to which it was unquestionably entitled. He agreed with the hon. Member for Manchester, and the hon. Member who spoke before him, that it was desirable to keep to the question before the House. His hon. Friend, the Member for Northamptonshire, who had addressed the House that evening, had gone at great length into the history of the Anti-Corn-Law League in a manner which showed great labour and research. They knew that during the present Session very numerous petitions had been presented from the tenant-farmers of England, and complaints of the interference of the Anti-Corn. Law League formed a prominent part of those petitions. It appeared from the summary which his hon. Friend had given of the history of the life of the League—it appeared that the League had now existed for six years, and he was happy to say that it was not likely to continue to exist much longer. With some portion of the history of the League he had, until he had heard his hon. Friend's (Mr. S. O'Brien's) speech, been acquainted; for, although he had come in for a very fair share of its abuse, yet he had not directed his attention to the historical proceedings of the League. He was not aware before that the public were indebted for the origin of the League to that eminent Gentleman whom he saw opposite, the hon. Member for Bolton. That Gentleman was distinguished in many respects, and, amongst other things, for his poetical talents, and when the hon. Member for Manchester used a poetical quotation, he thought that it was the production of the hon. and learned Member, and he consisidered it to be a production worthy of him—much more worthy of him than it was of the noble Lord who, it appeared, was the real author. He trusted that when the League expired, the hon. Member for Bolton would write its epitaph, which he was sure would be characterised by the taste and good humour that distin- 1506 guished the hon. Member. There had been, in the course of the present debate, some questions put to him which render it fit that he should offer some observations to the House. He had been asked, with reference to the part he had taken on the Factory Bill, how he could reconcile it to interfere with the interests of those concerned in manufactures, unless he was disposed to show the same disposition with respect to other interests. He would not have interfered in the question, unless with a desire to benefit all classes—the labouring community as well as others. He would reply to the imputation which the hon. Member for Manchester had endeavoured to cast—he would not say on the Members of that House—but on some portion of the community, who, he said, desired to maintain the existing laws, for the purpose of crushing the rising power, and wealth, and credit of the manufacturing interest. He was surprised, knowing that the hon. Member could not say anything which at the time he did not consider to be true, that he should have uttered such an imputation. It was with no such feelings as that that he and hon. Members of the same side of the House desired to maintain the Corn Laws. He denied that there was any ground for such an imputation, and he disclaimed any desire, in any vote that he gave, to do any thing to check the progress of the manufacturing interest. With respect to the vote which he had given on the factory questions he had no personal information, and he felt bound to acquire the best information that he could obtain. He was not guided in his vote by what appeared in the newspapers, or in pamphlets, or in the Reports of Commissioners; but he saw a great number of these men themselves. He told them that he was unwilling to vote until his mind was satisfied on the subject—that they must supply him with information to enable him to act. He doubted whether that question was not more a question of wages than it was generally understood to be; and it was not until he had various interviews with those men who represented large bodies, that he came to the conclusion of giving the vote which he subsequently gave. The preliminaries having been adopted by Parliament, the question became one not of principle but of degree, and he had given his vote that the hours of labour might be modified without injury to the labourer. 1507 The vote he had given he did not at all repent. On the subject before the House he was ready to state the motives that would govern him in endeavouring to maintain that protection for agriculture which it had always received in that country. Although the hon. Member for Manchester had said that they had only held a few years adverse possession of that protection, yet he maintained that agriculture had always received that protection, and that it could not without injury be deprived of it. The tone of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, in the course of this debate, had been very different from that which had distinguished him in former debates, and much of his speech was made up of taunts and defiance. The hon. Member asked them not once, but fifty times over, in the course of his speech, whether they "dared" to assert first one thing and then another. There was one place which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was in the habit of frequenting, where he understood that arguments of that kind had considerable weight, namely, the Anti-Corn Law League. There was a man, the other night, who "dared" to attempt to offer some observations at Coventgarden Theatre, when he was immediately taken up by the police and carried out of the House. As they had not police officers sitting betwixt them in that House, they would dare to say that the argument which they at that side had used had never been answered—they desired protection to agriculture for the good of the tenant-farmer—for the good of the labourer—and for the good of the entire population of the kingdom. Nobody who argued this question could omit the consideration of the landlords, as one of the important classes whose interests would be affected. But many of those who argued the question on the other side of the House, had altogether omitted the tenant-farmer, and the tenant-farmer soon found that out, and came forward to repudiate the doctrines promulgated by the hon. Members for Wolverhampton, for Stockport, and for Bolton. He hoped that some tenant-farmers had last night been listening to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, who said, speaking of Canada, "that in Canada there was no tenant-farmer, that there was only the man who owned the soil and the labourer, and that there was no intermediate person whatever." 1508 But it should be recollected that they were not legislating for a country in such a condition as that, but for a country having a state of society altogether different. Now, with respect to the tenant-farmers, he (Mr. Bankes) could assure the hon. Member for Manchester that the very material move made by the tenant-farmers was altogether spontaneous on their part. The landlords were, of course, not displeased to see that course taken, but they had not encouraged it, for it was a spontaneous movement of the tenant farmers themselves. The overpowering and bullying system adopted by the Anti-Corn Law League caused the farmers to rise up as one man to resist their proceedings. The hon. Member for Manchester had asked, supposing that he (Mr. Bankes) ordered a quantity of goods from a merchant in Manchester or Stockport, what advantage that merchant or manufacturer would have in selling his goods to him beyond selling them to a person in New York? To that, he answered, that he had one great advantage in the certainty of his customer. There were many circumstances that might deprive him of the custom of the merchant in New York, as, for instance, some change in the tariff. He was told that one of the persons at present a candidate for the Presidency of America had his banners inscribed with the motto "Protection for Native Industry." The advantage, then, of the home trade was, that it might be looked upon as one of the continuance of which there was a certainty. He regretted that the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, was not in his place, as in his speech on the previous night he had addressed some observations to him (Mr. Bankes) as to the state of the labouring classes in the county which he had the honour to represent, and which observations, the lateness of the hour at which the noble Lord concluded his speech, precluded him (Mr. Bankes) from the opportunity of answering last night. The noble Lord was pleased to say, that in the county which he (Mr. Bankes) had the honour to represent, the labourers were in a low and debased condition, and which had been pointed out more than once by the hon. Member for Stockport. It was quite true that the hon. Member for Stockport had more than once pointed this out, but he had omitted to mention that the statement had been just as often contradicted. He felt it his 1509 duty to vindicate the county which he had the honour to represent from the charge which could not be borne out. He believed that the true reason why that county had been fixed upon was, that it was represented by a noble Lord who took a great interest in the condition of persons engaged in factory-labour (Lord Ashley). In reply to the statement made respecting the condition of that county, he should read to the House some extracts from the report of the Commissioners who had been appointed to inquire into the condition of women and children employed in agriculture in that county (Dorsetshire) as well as other counties in England. The hon. Member read extracts from the Commissioners' Report respecting Dorsetshire, to the following effect:—Not one out of the many women accustomed to work in the fields, with whom we conversed, considered themselves generally to suffer from working out of doors. The effect of out-door farm labour upon grown women appears, upon the whole, to be beneficial, and the women accustomed to it, report that it is good for their health and spirits.It appeared that, so far as the testimony of the women themselves was concerned, that out of door labour was not injurious to their health; and the testimony of experienced medical men was nearly to the same effect. With respect to clothing, they had benefit societies, which were of great advantage in enabling the labouring classes to procure a proper supply of clothing. With respect to rates of wages in that part of the county in which he resided, he (Mr. Bankes) had before read a statement from the Commissioners' Report to the effect that wages were by no means less there, and that labourers had very considerable advantages in addition. He did not wish to utter anything derogatory of other counties, but he felt bound to say that the Commissioners, far from putting the county below other counties in the neighbourhood, with regard to the condition of the labourers, placed it above Somersetshire and Devonshire. He did not say that wages were so high all through the country, and he wished with his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire that the remuneration of the working man was everywhere raised. But the labourer would certainly not be better from the change proposed by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. This was really the 1510 question before the House—it was a question of the tenant-farmer and the labourer He had stated this before, and he would state it again. No possible increase of manufactures could give employment to the labourers whom the removal of protection would drive out of the agricultural districts. Even if such employment could be procured, the change would not be a desirable one, for without intending anything hurtful to the feelings of manufacturers, he felt quite convinced that, even if the agricultural labourers received less money, their condition, in point of morality, comfort, and true happiness, was preferable to that of the manufacturing population. He perceived the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland entering the House, and he would take the liberty of repeating his hope that, when next the noble Lord made assertions, and declared them to be uncontradicted, the noble Lord would read a little more and inquire a little more. The noble Lord went too far in stating that the condition of the labourers in the north was superior to that of those in the southern counties. The hon. Members for Stockport and Wolverhampton said that the free introduction of foreign corn need not throw an acre even of poor land out of cultivation, for that, if the acre were given rent free to a poor man, he would cultivate it for his subsistence. He (Mr. Bankes) denied this proposition, for if the acre were given without payment of rent, and if the labourer were able to raise sufficient corn for his consumption, there were other necessaries, as clothing, fuel, &c, which the land would hardly supply him with. A noble Lord, an eminent experimental farmer, had made statements in another place—in a place where the hon. Member for Manchester appeared with greater effect than did even Mr. George Robins (so often quoted by him) in the auction-room. But the hon. Member for Somersetshire had quoted facts that threw some doubt on the conclusions of that noble Lord, who might be described as a Lord among farmers and a farmer among Lords. He thanked the House for the attention it had given him. He had dared to re-assert the assertions he had always made, and to which he had nothing to add. His excuse for having trespassed on the time of the House was that he had been called on twice for explanations and vindications that he never could shrink from giving.
§ Mr. Hutt
rose amidst loud cries for Mr. Cobden. The hon. Gentleman said that if his speech should intervene between his hon. Friend (Mr. Cobden) and the House, it would have at least one recommendation—namely, that it would be very brief. He was about to support the Motion of his hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton, but he was not going to do so entirely for the reasons by which his hon. Friend had recommended his Motion to the House. He was prepared to go into a Committee of the whole House upon the question of the Corn Laws, for the purpose of recommending the entire repeal of the existing system of Corn Laws, and substituting instead a low fixed duty upon the importation of Corn. To the present system of Corn Laws he had been uniformly opposed. He believed that it was equally mischievous to every class and every interest in the country. He agreed with the President of the Board of Trade that a high price of corn was a great national calamity. He supported a fixed duty on the ground of revenue; but what appeared to him to be an especial recommendation of a low fixed duty on the importation of corn under all conceivable circumstances was, that the duty would not be paid by the consumers of this country, but that it would be paid by the foreign importer.
§ Mr. Cobden
said:—Sir, it is not my intention to follow the example which has been set by hon. Gentlemen opposite (the Member for Northamptonshire and other hon. Members who followed him), in making this a question merely of the conduct or character of the Anti-Corn Law League or that of their opponents the Ami-League; but I shall confine myself to the consideration of the influence of the Corn Laws upon the country, and to that alone. If it were not a very trite and familiar illustration of the nature of the expedient which has been resorted to by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I should say that their conduct reminds me of the course pursued by a certain defendant, who, having a very bad case, put a brief into the hands of a barrister endorsed in the following manner: "No case; please to abuse the plaintiff's attorney." Hon. Gentlemen opposite perceiving they have "no case," find it much more convenient to attack the Anti-Corn Law League than to attempt any defence of the Corn Law. They are the defendants upon this occasion; the 1512 Corn Law is upon its trial, and there is but one way in which it can be tried, and that is by looking to its effect upon the nation at large; and ascertaining not merely whether farmers and farm-labourers have been better off since or worse than before its enactment, whether landlords have been richer or poorer, although these may be very important questions; but the point to decide is, whether the Corn Laws have tended to promote national prosperity. I have never seen more than two modes by which it has been attempted to place the Corn Law upon national grounds. The one is, that it forms part of a general system of protection. I believe the hon. Gentleman opposite, who is sitting upon the second bench uses the phrase "protection to native industry in all its branches." The second alleged reason by which the Corn Law is attempted to be supported on public grounds is, that you cannot keep up your national taxation, and pay the interest of the heavy debt which this country has incurred, without this system of protection. Let us look at the first argument—the allegation of the Corn Law being a part of a system of protection to native industry in all its branches. Is this really the fact? If it be so, I will at once give up my argument. If you can show that you have applied a system of protection to all classes, or if you prove to me that you can do so, then I will give up my opposition to your Corn Law. But have you, in fact, done what you state? Have you protected the exporting manufacturer of this country? An hon. Gentleman opposite has referred to an instance, as he states, where a candidate for the Presidentship of America went about with banners, upon which were inscribed the motto "Protection to native industry!" But is he not aware that there are parties in that country situated precisely as our manufacturers are here? They are extensive exporters of cotton, and can have no protection to the produce of their soil. What has been the effect in America of the cry, "Protection to native industry." Why, it has produced precisely the same discord, the same "dangerous combinations" of men there to abolish the system of class-legislation as that of which you have complained so much in England. Nay, South Carolina carried on its opposition to the Tariff Law to such an extent, that you will remember it issued its act of nullification, threatening that it would 1513 separate itself from the rest of the Union. Go again to France, and inquire what has been the effect of your system there. In that country the owners of the soil are most extensively engaged as growers of wine; where is the system of protection to native industry in all its branches which the wine-grower of that country possesses? "No," they say, "our prices are fixed by the markets of the world; you cannot protect us in the sale of our wines, and yet you tax us, and impose a duty upon us for the benefit of a few manufacturers; and then raise the same cry as that adopted by the people of Carolina—Let us have different zones in this country, and let us have different sets of tariffs, suitable to the productions of each zone." That is the reason why discord raged, and is still continuing, in America and France, and will rage everywhere where a system of class-legislation prevails. It is this evil which is at the bottom of the opposition you are now encountering in this country. It is not the League, but your injustice which is the cause of it. If no League had been formed before for the removal of this great grievance, it is a proof of the want of intelligence and public spirit at that time in that portion of the community who, I believe, were then deeply suffering under this system, but had not the spirit to rise and resent it. And I would ask, how you suppose you will put down this opposition. Is it by calling names, and saying that the League is "an aggressive body?" We say that your law is an aggressive "law, and we demand that it shall be abolished, because it is bad; show us that the Corn Law is just, and we will dissolve the Anti-Corn Law League forthwith; but, unless you can prove that, do not deceive yourselves by the supposition —do not delude yourselves by imagining that such a display as we have had to-night —such a childish exhibition, I might say, as you have shown—will have any effect in producing a dissolution of the League. You talk of "protection to native industry in all its branches." I will bring this question home to you, and ask you to show me how you can protect the labourer of this country. I have brought this subject before you on a previous occasion; I will bring it before you again; and depend upon it no vague declaration shall serve you in this case. I demand that you now state explicitly how you can protect the labourer of this country, and what is the 1514 nature of the protection you propose to furnish him with. I will meet you on the ground of the Poor Law in connexion with this question, but you shall not by this means evade the discussion of the real point. We have had many attempts made wholly to get rid of the question at issue, but you shall not succeed in doing so; the matter shall be brought before the country and the House, and the working classes of England shall thoroughly understand the gross imposition which has been practised upon them. With regard to the national revenue, we are told that without a protecting duty on corn, we cannot pay the taxation of this country. I heard a remark of this kind drop from a Gentleman sitting just before me here, who spoke with all the apparent gravity of a man thoroughly convinced with that he was saying was unanswerable. The hon. Gentleman said, "You cannot meet the national taxation, without a protective duty on corn." Indeed! Then, if we are to be taxed to pay the taxes of the corn-grower, who is to be taxed and pay the taxation of the manufacturers, I should like to know? The hon. Member for Dorsetshire has had the candour to admit that he does not pay more for the manufactures which he consumes than the foreign merchant who has to take his goods to a distant market of the world; therefore he cannot protect the manufacturer in that foreign market. I ask you by what process you intend to assist the manufacturers in paying their taxes, seeing that you, the landed interest, are possessed of this Corn Law which enables you to pay them. I have heard hon. Gentlemen say, unless you have a high range of prices in this country it is impossible you can meet the taxation. Well, now does anybody suppose that the Corn Law keeps up the price of anything but corn? You want a high range of prices, you tell me, to pay the national taxation; have you not admitted that manufactures are sold as cheap here as those which are exported to the most remote part of the globe? Yet, out of those unprotected prices for their commodities, taxation is to be paid; and I want to know why you cannot pay your taxation by an unprotected trade in corn, as well as we do by our unprotected trade in manufactures? There is a great fundamental fallacy lurking under this argument, that protecting duties tend to keep up the prices generally 1515 in this country. The protecting duty on corn has been already demonstrated by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, who has put the question so well that he really has left nothing to say upon the subject. He has shown that these protecting duties lower both profits and wages; and how in the world are those duties to assist the community at large in paying the interest of the national debt? This is an argument, let me remind you which applies not merely to manufactures and agriculture—for I wish to draw this question out of the mere scramble between manufacturers and landowners. You are losing sight of the community at large— the great bulk of the people—who are neither manufacturers nor landlords, farmers or farm-labourers—I mean the vast body of the population, who, when they come to see the fallacies of your arguments about taxation and general protection, will be the arbiters of this question; they will step in and enable those who stand forth prominent now, because they meet with this impediment to their claim, to resist the aggression to which they have been so long subjected—the great body of the middle classes, from whom they get their income—the proprietors of house-property in towns, the owners of the debt itself—these, I say, are the men who will step in and assist us to put down this great iniquity, when they are convinced of the fallacy which lurks under the fear that this Corn Law enables them to pay the national creditor. I want to know how this system of protection affects the great body of the people who are neither manufacturers, farmers, nor landlords? Why, if you raise the price of your corn, you do not profess to requite them in any way for the taxes which you impose on their food. They are neither farmers, farm-labourers, nor landlords: if you tax them for the purpose of paying your debts and taxes, you make them pay their own taxation and yours too. I verily believe that hon. Gentlemen, proprietors of land, have a confused notion in their heads, and seem to think that the "national debt" means private debt, and they mistake that debt for their own individual mortgages. Sir, I have one or two facts to show the way in which high prices of corn have operated on the revenue of this country. I want that to be understood by the people at large; and also by the Government of this country. I have looked 1516 through the list of the prices of corn ever since your famous Corn Law of 1815 was passed. It is a very remarkable fact that the price of corn is just a barometer of the state of your taxation; that your revenue declines just as your corn rises in price; and the revenue flows over just as the value of corn falls; so much so that it is a perfect barometer as to the state of the revenue. Now, I will take the first four years from 1815 to 1820, during which period the average price of wheat was 81s. 4d., and the farmers and landlords were glorying in scarcity and high prices. What was the effect upon the revenue at that time? Why, there was an annual taxation of 2,400,000l. additional, imposed upon the country for the necessities of the State. The next four years the average price of wheat was 54s. 6d., being more than 25s. a quarter less than in the previous period; then came "unparalleled agricultural distress;" and yet you had taxes repealed during those four years to the amount of 8,100,000l. I come to the next period of an exceedingly low price of corn, and that was in 1833, 1834, 1835, and 1836, when the' average price for those four years was 46s. 9d.: lower than it had been for forty years, taxes were repealed during those four years to the amount of 4,500,000l. per annum. I now come to the late period of dear years, from 1838 to 1842, during which five years the average price of wheat was 64s. 7d. a quarter, being higher than it had been for twenty years previous. During that five years you had, first of all, 5per cent. additional imposed on your general taxes, and 10 per cent. on your assessed taxes that fell short; and then you had an Income Tax, a tax on coal and other taxes; and the whole amount of additional taxation then laid upon the shoulders of the people of this country during the above five years was 8,000,000l.. sterling per annum. Thus the revenue of this country —at the time when the rent was rising when the landowners were laying on extra rents, and when if we may believe you, farmers were in a state of prosperity—was in a state of depression. Now, during the last year, and up to the present time, when the price of corn has been rather lower, we have again had a season of the remission of taxation; and if prices continue low, you may possibly get rid of the Income Tax, and have as good a revenue as before. I want to ask the right hon. 1517 Baronet, who I presume will favour the House with his opinion on this question, where is the difficulty in carrying out the principle of free trade in everything? I wish to state most honestly and emphatically that I stand here as an advocate for free trade in everything; and if you will go into Committee on the subject of corn, and the rules of the House will permit me to add the repeal of the duties upon every other article that is protected, I will undertake to move its insertion. The noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, expressed some surprise that we did not bring forward a free-trade Motion—that we dealt with corn only. You will recollect that the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government told us that it has always been customary to deal with corn differently from every other article. Unfortunately, to our sorrow, we know that to be true; and it is because corn has been dealt with differently from every other article that we have established an Anti-Corn Law League, attacking the Corn Law only, knowing well, that when we can abolish that enactment, hon. Gentlemen opposite will save us the trouble of labouring to procure the repeal of all other monopolies. I say that I am for free-trade in everything. The right hon. Baronet may meet us now, as he did once before, by saying, "This is a very revolutionary proposal of yours." [Cheers.] I hear hon. Gentlemen opposite cheering, which shows that there are a great many of them labouring under that hallucination. I wish to show that you can adopt free-trade in everything, and that there are no national obstacles to its being carried out immediately. I want to prove to yon, that barring your own class interest as landlords, farmers, or farm-labourers, there is no national impediment to your carrying out the principle of free-trade tomorrow. The noble Lord, the Member for Newark (Lord J. Manners) laughs, and throws back his head: I am glad to see that laugh, because it is expressive of incredulity. I know, if he has voted for the Corn Laws, it is because he believed he had national grounds for doing so. I cannot believe him sincere in his professions of humanity if he upholds a Corn Law merely for class-interest. I want to show him that you might carry out free-trade in everything, and that, instead of its being a detriment, it would be a benefit to the revenue. What is the carrying out of 1518 free-trade? Not that the removal of all custom-houses, as some have stated is our object. I have heard of hon. Gentlemen writing to their constituents, and addressing them personally, saying that we want to abolish all custom-houses. I saw in the Times newspaper—an assumed great authority—in a leading article, that such had been my doctrine; but nothing can be more ridiculous and absurd than such a charge. Free-trade does not mean the abolition of custom-house duties, but merely the taking off imposts which are at present levied only for the purpose of protection. How much do those duties amount to? What is the sum which they yield to the revenue? The whole of the duties paid last year, which may be called protective duties, amounted to 2,500,000l.. That sum includes your taxes upon corn, timber, silk, and every other item that can by incidence be called, a protective duty. Now, I am an advocate for removing the whole of those protective duties; but do not let hon. Gentlemen connected with the soil think that we are shielding ourselves now under this Corn Law question, and that we have nothing more in view besides corn in the list of protective duties which we seek to abolish. They will find, that out of this 2,500,000l.. paid in protective duties, upwards of 2,000,000l. consists of taxes paid on articles that are the growth of, or that come from beneath the soil of this country. The whole of the duties paid on foreign manufactures do not amount to 300,000l. per annum. As it is a very late hour of the night, I will not trouble the House with many figures; but I want to show what these customs duties are about which you are so frightened. How much do you suppose was paid for duty on cotton manufactures last year? Why, that article paid 3,700l. What was the sum paid for lace? Why, 7,600l. China and earthenware, 3,600l.; linen, 12,000l.; woollen, 16,700l.; silk manufacture 240,600l. The whole of the produce of the duties which can be called protective duties on manufactures from abroad amount to 284,000l.. I do not find the item of hardware among them at all, and I may, therefore assume that there was none imported. Now, I say, abolish all those duties for protection on manufactures; I assert, honestly that this would be no concession to us: we should do quite as well as we are doing now, if we had no protection at all; the test of 1519 this fact is, that our manufactures here sell no dearer than those abroad; if so, it is quite clear that your protective duties have not had any effect in raising their price. There is a portion of the silk manufacture—a small amount, comparatively of that trade—that is admitted into this country. They are generally goods of a peculiar kind, rich in fabric and peculiar in their pattern. I say abolish protective duties on your silk manufacture. Is there any one here who states "I am for free trade in corn, but not in silk?" I tell that person I repudiate him as a free-trader, and do not desire his co-operation in my efforts to abolish the Corn Laws. I contend that you have no more right to a monopoly in silk than the Gentlemen opposite have to a monopoly in corn. I assert this openly on behalf of the Anti-Corn Law League. At the very time we put out our proposal for a subscription, which was chiefly raised among manufactures in this country, we distinctly put out our proclamation, saying that we did not ask a shilling from any one who was not willing to advocate the abolition of all protection in connection with his own trade as well as that of every other. But if with an apparent loss of two millions and a-half, what have you to gain directly by carrying out the principle of free trade— I mean as regards the revenue? Equalize your Sugar Duties. You are voting away 2,000,000l. annually, in protecting the growers of colonial sugar; that sum was not enough for hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they wanted a little more. Equalize the duty on sugar and coffee, and the equalization of your other colonial products will make up every farthing of revenue that you are going to lose by the abolition of these protective duties. You may abolish every protective and colonial duty, and the Statesman will find himself without the loss of one shilling in the revenue. I am glad upon this occasion to have the opportunity of again quoting an authority which has been referred to by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government with great approbation, when he wished to benefit by that Gentleman's opinion in an exception to his general rule—I mean the late Mr. Deacon Hume, whose opinion on the sugar question the right hon. Gentleman recently quoted with so much commendation. Now, I have reason to know that Mr. Deacon Hume's evidence on that point was the 1520 only part of his testimony before the Import Duties Committee which he himself regretted having ever given. I was in correspondence with him myself, about the time of his death, on the subject of publishing that evidence with notes and alterations; and I have reason to know that Mr. Deacon Hume regretted the qualification he made in favour of slave-grown sugar; and I believe, if he had lived, he would have expunged that part of it. But what is his opinion on the subject of revenue duties? He is very emphatic in his opinion upon that point before the Committee of the House of Commons. He is asked this question:— "Since, in your opinion, you ought simultaneously to reduce all the protective duties, you consider that the revenue offers no objection, but rather an argument in favour of doing away with those duties?" His answer is, "Certainly, my hesitation applies to the different interests that might be affected in their trade, and not to the revenue. There can be no doubt but that the revenue would instantly be increased by removing or sufficiently reducing the protections." Again, he is asked, "But do you hold you could do away with the protection in some cases without diminishing the revenue?" His answer is, "I am not aware of any case in which the revenue would be injured by removing the protection." He is asked again, "Do you consider that the revenue presents any obstacle at all to the doing away with the protective system?" He answers, "No, certainly not; I conceive that the prosperity of the revenue is greatly impeded by the protective system." There appears to have been a Gentleman on the Committee, entertaining the idea that it could not be possible to pay our State taxes unless we had a protective system; and, in answer to a question from one of those Gentlemen, Mr. Deacon Hume makes this statement: — He says, "A highly-taxed people cannot afford to give protection; an individual, whose necessary expenses are great, cannot be generous."— "It appears to me that the very circumstance of our being so highly taxed for the good of the State, is a reason why we should not be taxed between ourselves."—"I conceive that the people having paid private taxes, are less able to pay the public taxes." Now, Sir, on the authority of Mr. Deacon Hume, and on the facts which I have stated, I take my stand against all 1521 protection. If you cannot make the advantage equal, it is unjust to some portion of the community; and if it is thus oppressive to any portion of the people, that portion never ought, if they have the spirit of Englishmen, to submit quietly to such an injustice. If you can make the system general, then general protection cannot be special protection, and you can do no good to anybody by its adoption. Abandon, this system—it is unsound; it cannot be defended upon any principle of justice or sound policy; and therefore I ask you now to give your decision against the principle. You may say, "We are strong in power, we have the constituencies with us." Yes, you have the constituencies. How long will you stand on that pinnacle of power if the foundation of the pedestal on which you are resting gives way? You must show that you have a just footing before you can hope to maintain your present law. I have never heard one expression—I have never heard the question urged by hon. Gentlemen upon any side of the House —how this system benefits the farmer or farm-labourer; nor have they attempted to show how it can benefit the other classes of the community. You stand up and say, "I do this for the benefit of the farmer and farm-labourer; but my hon. Friend, the Member for Wolverhampton, did not ask you to say whether you would support the Corn Law for that purpose or not; but he requested you to come here and show how you have benefited them. Have you done that? Have you proved the benefit which you confer upon them? No; immediately you rise you begin talking in the future tense, as you do in all your arguments; you tell us what you imagine the opposite system would do to injure the farmer and farm-labourer; but you have never attempted to show how the present system can possibly benefit them. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton has brought this matter fairly before the House. This is not a Motion sanctioned by the leading Benches on this side of the House, I admit; but it is the sole question of controversy out of doors—there the point to be determined is entirely between protection and no protection—and when the hon. Gentleman on this side of the House, who has so large an amount of public confidence as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton has, brings forward a Motion against protection, I say the Government 1522 is not treating him with due respect, nor the public with justice, unless they meet the arguments which he has brought forward on this occasion. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade has told us that he will not argue this question, because protection is a principle which is recognised by this country; we come here to deny the justice of that principle. We call on you to justify that principle of protection. Is it not sophistry —I can call it no less—to meet us by saying, "The principle is admitted, and, therefore, we will not answer your arguments unless you give some special ground against this mode of taxing corn?" We take exception to the principle itself, and I ask the right hon. Baronet to meet the arguments of my hon. Friend by showing how this principle of protection can be beneficial to the country at large. Gentlemen upon the Treasury Bench have shown a disposition to evade this question. There is, for instance, the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire: nobody can deny but that he possesses talent for debate. He came up to this House pledged to defend the Corn Law, and he has never yet opened his mouth upon the subject. I challenge him to give us his opinion on this point—I defy him to justify this law to the manufacturers of Preston and Blackburn, not to the minority, whom he says have petitioned this House, but to the majority who are opposed to this system. I ask him to show on public grounds the justice of this law. I do not ask him to do that which he is so competent to do as a mere slashing debater—to engage in personal skirmishes in this House—but I demand of him to show on public grounds the justice and policy of this system of protection. If he and the right hon. Baronet, or either of them, will rise in this House to defend this system, then it will go forth to the country, and the people of England will see whether the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton are sound and supported by reason and facts, or whether those principles on which you are going to vote on the other side are so founded. But I appeal to you on this occasion not to go to a division until you have given us some argument to show the justness and soundness of the views you profess to entertain.
§ Sir R. Peel
said,—I can very sincerely assure hon. Members that it is not my intention to occupy much of their time 1523 upon an occasion when this House has been engaged for the benefit of a company which generally performs at Covent-gar-den. It is with great reluctance that I do anything having the least tendency to prevent their enjoying a full benefit, and I must say I was very sorry to observe that during the early part of the performance the front bench on the other side of the House was wholly unoccupied. Of those places, there was not a single occupant until the gallant Admiral took his seat there; and even he was for a considerable time left alone in the occupation of that Bench. I can assure the hon. Members opposite—many of whom assisted at my benefit the other night—that I had no desire to be the cause of depriving them of a fuller audience. Throughout the evening, I have been here, as well as my hon. Friends near me, to witness the performances of that class of Gentlemen now present who have rehearsed their parts upon another stage. We have been here the whole of the evening, and we could not help listening with some surprise to the allusion made on the other side to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire. It was too much to say that a considerable portion of the time which my hon. Friend took in delivering that speech was spent without his making any reference to the main question. It would seem as if the hon. Member for Stockport would, if he had an opportunity, have advised my hon. Friend to apply himself more closely to the main question. I cannot help wishing that he had given that advice to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. The House cannot have forgotten that the hon. Gentleman who came forward and who gave the tone to our deliberations, who, in fact, was the leading performer, took precisely the same course which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton complains against my hon. Friend for having pursued. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton addressed the House for the space of three hours and a half; one hour and a-half of which period was devoted to the production of newspaper reports of speeches delivered at meetings of agriculturists. The hon. Member who spoke last should recollect that his own leader is the author of this practice; and if the example of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton be followed at this side of the House, the hon. Member for Stockport is the last that ought to 1524 complain of it. He is the last that ought to complain if my hon. Friends at this side of the House came prepared with documents to remind their opponents of what they may have said respecting this question on former occasions. Now, Sir, I was very glad to see the second topic adverted to by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman delivered a homily against the practice of calling names. Well, it's a very bad practice, but it happens that those who are the most lavish in their attacks upon others, and in throwing imputations upon the motives of others, are very often those who shrink the most from the application of a similar instrument to themselves, notwithstanding the readiness with which they denounce the system of calling names and imputing motives. Sir, I think if there be any party in this House who deal largely in the practice of affixing odious imputations to the motives of those from whom they dissent as to political measures, it is that very party of which the hon. Gentleman is so distinguished a Member. I don't defend the practice, but the example provokes retaliation. They are exposed to attacks of which they first set the example and then they are the first to declare that the practice of the calling of names ought to be dismissed from legislative argument, and the first to beg that for the future it might be discontinued. As they set the example of the practice, I hope they will set the example of its discontinuance. The hon. Gentleman says, "How is the Anti-Corn Law League to be defeated?" Sir, I believe that they have greatly diminished their own power by the use of the instrument which they have employed. I believe that they have provoked on the part of the tenantry of this country the utmost indignation, from their use of unjust imputations, and from the practice of attributing base, selfish, and interested motives to hon. Members. I believe they have provoked that indignation which has led to the combination against their proceedings. But a very short time since those hon. Gentlemen boasted that, whatever the landlords might think, the whole of the tenantry and labourers were ranged on their side. I apprehend, and I infer it from that very mitigated tone which they have assumed during the progress of this debate, that they have discovered that they have overstepped the limits within which it would have been prudent to confine 1525 themselves, and that they have used instruments which have recoiled against, and in no small measure injured themselves. The hon. Gentleman next calls our attention to the particular Motion of which notice has been given, and he says, that we must not, and shall not escape from its discussion. But it appears from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, that the question now under discussion is the total and immediate abrogation of all protection in every shape on agriculture and manufactures. Well, but if that be the question, why has not notice been given to that effect? Nothing would have been more easy, if that were the intention of the Motion, than that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton should have given a distinct notice of a Motion to the effect that every duty imposed on the import of every article, which duty is not intended for purposes of revenue, but which operates by way of protection—that every duty on every article partaking of that character of protection shall be at once abolished. That is not the Motion of which the hon. Gentleman gave notice. The Motion of which the hon. Gentleman gave notice is simply this,That from the date of the passing of this resolution, protection to one particular department of industry, that is to say, agriculture, shall at once cease and determine.What he intends to do with respect to protection to manufactures we know not; but we do know the meaning of the Motion of which he gave notice. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden) shakes his head. Does he dissent from the character which I am giving to this particular Motion? The Motion is this:—That any restriction of the supply of food, having for its object to impede the free purchase of an article upon which depends the subsistence of the community, is indefensible in principle, injurious in operation, and ought to be abolished. That it is therefore expedient that the Act 5th and 6th Victoria, shall be repealed forthwith.The hon. Gentleman afterwards promises that having got that, he will proceed to destroy protection on manufactures. I think it would have been more satisfactory and more in consonance with his own arguments, if he had at least commenced with the removal of protection from those articles concurrently with its removal from corn. Well, I defend protection to agriculture on the principle, and to the extent 1526 I am bound to say, to which I have defended it before. I am about to pronounce no new opinions on this subject. I have a strong feeling, that speaking generally—and I am not now speaking of the amount of protection—I shall come to that presently—but, speaking generally, [think the agriculture of this country is entitled to protection, and that it is so entitled to protection from considerations of justice as well as from considerations of policy. I do consider that there are special and peculiar burthens on agriculture. I do believe that that portion of the Act which imposes burthens for the relief of the poor, and subjects the profits of trade to those burthens as well as the profits of agriculture, has not, so far as the profits on trade are concerned, been acted on, whilst it has been acted on with respect to the profits of agriculture. I say, on that ground, that I think there are special burthens applicable to agriculture. I think, also, that there are restrictions on the application of capital as concerns agriculture. I think, therefore, that considerations of justice do entitle agriculture to protection. I think that considerations of policy, so far as the general interest of all classes is concerned, justify this protection. I do not think so on account of the special condition of the landlord, but because I believe that great public evil would arise were this Motion to be affirmed to-night; and I don't believe that there are ten reflecting and thinking men, not excluding those in the ranks of the Anti Corn Law League even, who are of opinion that if to-morrow morning it were announced that the House of Commons had resolved that on next Monday week all protection should be immediately and suddenly withdrawn from agricultural produce—I don't believe, I say, that there are ten men in this country, even connected with the manufacturing and commercial interest, who imagine that such a precipitate withdrawal of protection would be for the advantage of the general interest of this country. See if we agree to this Motion what is to follow in its rear. If we are to trust the hon. Gentleman, and I am sure I give him every credit for speaking the candid and honest impressions of his mind; but if we are to trust him, all protection is to be removed—that is in respect to all colonial productions—in respect to coffee, and in respect to sugar, one fortnight after, every 1527 protection is to be removed. Then, my belief is that in the present condition of this country that sudden withdrawal of all protection would paralyze commerce and introduce such general confusion and distress, that so far from the labourers benefiting, they would be involved in the common calamity. The proposal, then, which we have to decide is, whether with respect to the whole of your colonial productions—with respect to the whole of your domestic productions, you shall affirm this resolution, which though it appears to me to be confined to corn, necessarily involves the removal of every protective duty with respect to every product. I believe that nothing but confusion would arise from such a proceeding. I recollect the time when the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ellice) made a most vigorous defence of the silk manufacturers in opposing a sudden withdrawal of protection from that interest. Why then, did the hon. Gentleman not give his notice in conformity with his intentions? Because he knew, that if he had advocated the removal of protection from every class of manufacture—on colonial produce as well as corn—he would have encountered a more formidable opposition to his Motion, and would have even aggravated the majority by which he will be met this evening. I do believe that it is for the interest of all classes of commerce and of manufactures, that we should, in such an artificial state of society as that in which we live, deal very cautiously and dispassionately with the removal of these prohibitions. I believe that the advances you make will be much more sure if they are made without grievously affecting existing interests. I ask you to look at the extent of capital employed in the cultivation of the soil—to look at the population of Ireland, entirely depending on its agricultural produce — to see the amount of the supply of corn obtained from domestic agriculture, at least nine-tenths of the whole quantity consumed, and to look at the condition of the population employed in its culture. I know, according to your strict rigid principles of political economy abstractedly—if we were to forget the condition and circumstances of the country and the interests which have grown up under the long endurance of protection—if we were to speak mathematically of these principles, no doubt they may be true. It may be true that a 1528 population from which protection is withdrawn ought to apply itself to other applications; but is that strictly true? If we are not mere philosophers and men of science having to deal with abstractor indefinite quantities, but have to consult the convenience, the comfort, the subsistence of great masses of millions of human beings, are we to disregard those convictions which must be presented for the consideration of the Legislature and of statesmen? I speak not merely of tenants under leases, but of tenants at will, and of the labourers. No doubt, as far as the law is concerned, there are few opportunities for the application of capital to other branches of industry; no doubt it is true, speaking literally and technically, that the labourers in Kerry and Galway, may go and seek for subsistence in Manchester and Coventry. That is all true enough in theory, but false in practice. How can you disturb a man who is far advanced in life, to the age, perhaps, of nearly half a century, whose father and grandfather before him were occupied in agriculture, and who knows nothing else himself? How is he to try this project, if suddenly removing himself from his old occupation and locality to new ones? Why, you would destroy his confidence in the application of his capital to agriculture as before, and you leave him without other modes for employing it. You may rejoice and indulge in these theories of modern philosophy and political economy; but when you have endangered and destroyed the peace and happiness of a nation, you will have but a sorry return for your pains. Looking, then, at the long endurance of the protection, at the amount of capital involved in agriculture, and the position of the population dependent on agriculture, and at the interests not merely of the landlords and tenants, but the comprehensive interests of all classes of the community I must give my solemn and unqualified opposition to this proposal for the immediate removal of the present protection to agriculture. But I will not shrink from the other question—am I prepared, then, as I am opposed to the immediate removal of protection, to bring under the consideration of the House any modified proposition for the altering the amount of protection determined upon two years ago, and carried into effect with the general goodwill and concurrence of the agricultural interest? 1529 I say at once I am not. I am not holding language different from that which my right hon. Friend and myself held at an early period of the Session. We said then that we never had it in contemplation, and now we say that we have it not in contemplation, to make any alteration whatever in the Corn Laws. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London is absent upon this occasion. I regret it; but the noble Lord last night declared his intention of not voting against the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. Now the hon. Gentleman has very fairly called upon us to pronounce, to-night, whether we were for or against a total repeal of the Corn Laws. Nothing could be fairer than the proceedings of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton. You cannot impute to him that he wants to catch stray votes by a vague Motion. He says he does not want you to go into a vague Committee on the Corn Laws, but a Committee for the purpose of affirming or negativing this resolution, that the present Corn Laws should be repealed, and no others be substituted in their room. Thence arises the difficulty of the noble Lord—he is not prepared to vote against that Motion; he is not prepared for repeal; for the noble Lord thinks agriculture entitled to protection. The noble Lord is prepared to give protection to agriculture. On what ground then does he withhold the light of his countenance and the benefit of his address from those hon. Gentlemen with whom he is agreed? The noble Lord said last night that he found himself in a similar situation to that which I had described the Government to be—one of difficulty. No doubt we have met with difficulties as well as other Governments. But we have overcome them. We gave our votes: we did not shrink from our difficulties; we did not think we discharged our duty by running away from them. What was the objection to the noble Lord's voting against the Motion of the hon. Gentleman? Because my right hon. Friend intends to uphold the existing Corn Laws, he cannot vote with us, though he denounces the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. But the noble Lord was not always so squeamish. For, the other night, when vindicating himself for voting with Gentlemen to whom he was entirely opposed, he said he should not have carried the Reform Bill and other measures, if he had not voted in 1530 company with those from whose views he dissented, provided only that he concurred with them on a particular subject. But the noble Lord does concur with us in disapprobation of a particular vote. He has had an opportunity of explaining the grounds on which he founds his dissent; but he cannot make up his mind to give that vote which his judgment tells him is the proper one. The hon. Member for Gateshead is an advocate for a fixed duty, and he intends to vote for the hon. Gentleman who has done all he can to reduce. ate his company. An hon. Gentleman who tells him, "I do not invite you to vote with me upon any such pretence; for the resolution I mean to move in Committee is just as much directed on principle against a fixed duty as it is against the present sliding-scale." The Member for Gateshead therefore has no more reason for the vole he is about to give, than the noble Lord has for absenting himself upon this occasion. Now, the question between the noble Lord and between the Government is, as to the policy of making any alteration in the existing Corn Laws. We don't intend to make any alteration. I am speaking of those who admit that there should be protection to agriculture. The more discussion I hear, the more convinced I am that if protection is to be given to agriculture, it is infinitely better to maintain the present law than to attempt to conciliate any support or favour by any slight modification whatever. I think with the hon. Gentleman, that is the real practical question:—Is the present law to be maintained totally and entirely without any qualification or modification of it? I declare, that I do not see that any public benefit is to be derived from altering the law, not for the purpose of repeal, but even for the substitution of some such duty as that proposed by the noble Lord. It would give no advantage to trade. I do believe, that for the benefit of the trader and the consuming classes, the present law is far better than a fixed duty of 8s. would be. I should infer that, from the noble Lord's own argument. I never heard a better argument in favour of a graduated scale of duty in preference to a fixed duty, than I heard from the noble Lord last night. He was assigning his reasons why he so decidedly opposed the Motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. The noble Lord goes quite as far as I do in objections to the removal of 1531 protection to agriculture. The hon. Gentleman supposes—which I do not impute to the noble Lord—that the noble Lord is influenced by his unwillingness to declare for the removal of protection; but the noble Lord thinks it more convenient for a gentleman in his eminent political station not to discuss the question as to the amount of protection he would give. This is the language of the hon. Gentleman; not mine. The noble Lord thinks it more convenient to hold out to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, that if the worst came to the worst, they would have a fixed duty to resort to. I don't believe the noble Lord was influenced by such a motive. I believe him to be a sincere advocate of protection to agriculture; but he is in favour of a fixed duty in preference to a graduated scale. I should be sorry to impute to the noble Lord any language which he did not use, and, therefore, I took it down at the time. He said, "What can you reasonably expect from a sudden revolution?"—that is, from the success of the hon. Gentleman— "from a state of considerable protection to one of free-trade? The landlord and tenant would be doubtful how far their capital would be employed with profit." I am afraid they would be doubtful also under a duty of 5s. They would be so uncertain of the effects of a good harvest reducing the price of corn, that I am afraid a fixed duty would not relieve that anxiety which the noble Lord said the landlord and tenant would feel as to the application of his capital. The noble Lord said there would be a diminution in the employment of labour, and therefore a vast portion of suffering on the part of the poor. The next consequence would be, that there would be a much greater importation of corn into this country than would conduce either to the profits of the merchant or the advantage of the consumer, and therefore, he would so frame his law as to guard the merchant from loss in consequence of excessive importations. He said, that so important a change would give rise to extraordinary expectations of profit which would not produce cheapness or plenty; but, a glut which would occasion much distress.—That is just what I am afraid of. I am afraid that with a good harvest in this country there would be a great influx of corn under a low fixed duty, which would be great discouragement to agriculture here; because when 1532 corn is abundant here, a very small supply will produce a greater effect in the market than is proportionate to the amount of supply, and that discouragement would not be averted by a low fixed duty. I cannot help thinking, that there is more certainty with regard to the application of capital under a graduated scale than under a low fixed duty; for it does not expose agriculturists to the effects of unlimited competition. Therefore, the noble Lord, fearing a glut, fearing that the foreign merchant would pour in such a quantity of corn, that he himself would suffer, and that the landlords and tenants would be discouraged—just for those reasons he comes to the conclusion, that a law which admits the importation of corn when prices are high, and prohibits it when they are low, is not to be preferred to his own proposition of a fixed duty. It is a remarkable fact, how small a part of this discussion has been appropriated to objections against the existing Corn Law. I heard it repeated again to night, as it was constantly stated before, and denied by me, that in 1842 I gave to the agriculturist an assurance that the present law would secure to him a price varying from 54s. to 58s.—that was to say, an average price of 56s. Now, how is it possible that hon. Gentlemen, if they refer to what I did say, can repeat that assertion? [Mr. Ward: So it was understood.] It was understood! But I must ask hon. Gentlemen to look to what I said, and not to what they may have understood. I was told the other night that I made a certain statement respecting the Bank; I positively denied it, and hon. Gentlemen opposite bore me out in that denial. I did state, that I thought there would be no advantage to the agriculturist to have a higher price than 58s., or to the consumer that it should be lower than 54s. Taking 56s. as the sum assumed to be the average, and that which I thought would constitute a fair remunerating price, I distinctly added (this is not my own Report, but the Report of an impartial record):—When I name this sum, however, I must beg altogether to disclaim mentioning it as a pivot or remunerating price, or any inference that the Legislature can guarantee the continuance of that price; for I know it to be impossible to effect any such object by legislative enactment. It is utterly beyond your power, and a mere delusion, to say that by any duty, fixed or otherwise, you can guarantee a cer- 1533 tain price to the producer. It is beyond the reach of the Legislature. In 1835, when you had what some thought was a nominal protection to the amount of 64s., the average price of wheat did not exceed 39s. 8d.; and I again repeat, that it is only encouraging delusion to hold out the hope that this species of protection can be afforded to the agriculturist. To return, however, to the subject, I again say, that nothing can be more vague than to attempt to define a remunerating price.I therefore appeal to any impartial man to say whether it is not inconsistent with the fact to say that I even countenanced the impression that the existing; Corn Law would guarantee a price of 56s. When I mentioned 56s. as the average of past years, I stated that corn, as far as the Legislature was concerned, might vary between 54s and 58s.; and referring to former acts, I pointed to the disappointments which had taken place under them, and observed how utterly impossible it was for any legislation to guarantee a particular price to the consumer, it being regulated by circumstances over which the Legislature had no control. I do hope, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen will in future refer to my statements and not to that authority, high though it be, to whose lucubrations an hon. Gentleman has referred — Mr. George Robins, appraiser and auctioneer. I wish that hon. Gentlemen desirous of judging of the present Corn Law would refer to the debate which took place in 1842, when I introduced it. I wish they would observe the predictions which the opponents of it then made as to the certainty of its injurious effects, and see how far they have been borne out, or whether we ought now to be taunted for not having heeded those predictions. First of all, and the most positive prediction was, that the averages would be lowered 4s. or 5s. by the selection of the new towns. Now, the selection of the new towns has not altered the averages. [Mr. Villiers: They have been lowered.] I beg the hon. Member's pardon; if calculated from the new towns in combination with the old towns—although I have not lately looked at the Return—I think the result will show that the averages have been rather higher by the incorporation of the new towns than they otherwise would have been, and that the duty has therefore been lower. Another hon. Member predicted that the new scale would cause a greater amount of speculation than the old one, inasmuch as the stake 1534 being small, the risk would be less. Now, I do not believe that there has been so much speculation under the new as under the old law, or so much holding back of corn in order to pour it into the market when the price by reason of a scarcity had increased. I know that in April, notwithstanding the unfortunate appearance of the weather, no tendency was evinced towards the keeping back of foreign corn, and that in the last month there was imported of wheat alone no less than 80,000 quarters. In an agricultural journal (the Morning Post of Saturday last), giving an account of the existing law, I find these remarkable observations:—There was a time when we had what were then denominated weather markets at this time of the year, when the value of British grown grain was regulated by the state of the weather—when favourable weather for the crops reduced prices in Mark-lane, and when unfavourable weather produced contrary effects. These good limes, both for the producer and also for the consumer, existed, however, before the present Corn Law deprived our farmers of that just and fair degree of protection to their crops, against the competition with it of foreign agricultural produce, in all our great markets of consumption, which had previously been extended to all descriptions of native produce. In Mark-lane, yesterday, the alteration in the state of the weather did not produce any proportionable alteration in the value of home grown wheat, its price continuing to be almost entirely regulated by supply and demand.It was declared in 1842 that the present law would favour speculation, and yet now we find that there is no weather price for corn, that the price of corn no longer depends on fluctuations in the weather, but is regulated by supply and demand. Does the hon. Member for Stockport recollect his prediction as to the effect the present law would have on the commerce and manufactures of the country? He declared in 1842, that by enacting it we were going from bad to worse, and that nothing could be more delusive than to suppose that any increase in the demand for labour or any revival of commercial prosperity could be at all compatible with its existence. "Don't flatter yourselves," said the hon. Member, "that with such a law there can be a revival of trade, for I can demonstrate to you that such a thing is utterly impossible." [Mr. Cobden: "Are you quoting me?"] Yes, except that the language which you used was much stronger. The 1535 hon. Gentleman said that Stockport would become something like a howling wilderness occupied by paupers. I won't say that the hon. Member made use of the words "howling wilderness," but he used expressions pretty nearly tantamount to that in reference to his own town. Nothing, however, could have been more express than his declaration that we were utterly deceived if we supposed that under such a law as the present there could be anything like a restoration of commercial prosperity. Now, without meaning to say that 1843 afforded that amount of prosperity I should like to see, yet, comparing it with preceding years, you will find that those declarations, those predictions of 1842, have been completely falsified. The hon. Gentleman said in that year that we were not aware of the danger that was impending over us,—that before very long society in the manufacturing districts would be in a state of dissolution. [Mr. Cobden: "And it was so."] It was so? Well, then, if concurrently with the passing of the present Corn Law society in the manufacturing districts was in a state of dissolution, I ask you, what is its present condition? Is there not a great improvement in it, and has not the prediction of the hon. Member that the present law would be incompatible with an increase of manufacturing prosperity been completely falsified? Take the declared value of the cotton manufacture in 1843, as compared with that of 1842, and you will find it to have been 16,200,000l., that of 1842 being only 13,900,000l. The export of yarn has diminished, but the export of goods in a higher state of manufacture has increased. Earthenware—the hon. Gentleman particularly dwelt on the export of earthenware—well, from 555,000l, in 1842 the export of earthenware has increased to 649,000l. Glass has increased, hardware and cutlery have increased, linen manufactures, silk and woollen manufactures have increased. During the existence of this law, which was said to be fatal, at least, to commercial prosperity and intended solely for the benefit of agriculture, the export of all the great branches of manufactures has in 1843 greatly increased as compared with 1842. The noble Lord says, take great care of your imports; he draws a great distinction between imports and exports—a distinction which, with all respect for him, I have never been able to understand. I have given, in the 1536 case of exports, the declared value; I only give the official value of the imports. But, from the importance the noble Lord attaches to imports, he will learn with satisfaction that, whereas the imports of 1842 were in point of official value 65,204,000l., under the operation of the Corn Law they had increased in 1843 to 70,093,000l. I am only stating these things for the purpose of showing that the confident predictions that were made with respect to the practical operation of this Bill as to the increase of the duty on foreign corn by the lowering of the averages, the increased encouragement to speculation, and its incompatibility with manufacturing and commercial prosperity, have been altogether falsified, and that Her Majesty's Government have no motive whatever, taken from the experience of the past operation of this Bill, now to consent to its change. The noble Lord (Lord Howick) the Member for Sunderland, in the course of a very able speech last night, appeared to differ from the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), and to be prepared to go all lengths in respect to the immediate removal of protection to agriculture; and the noble Lord justified his opinions by an appeal to feelings and passions which I cannot but think are extremely dangerous. The noble Lord predicting in 1844—as there were predictions in 1842—gave the most confident assurance that if you will repeal the Corn Laws there will be an increased demand for industry; that there will be so far as legislation is concerned the immediate restoration of prosperity. Sir, there have been many years during which, under the operation of the Corn Laws, there has been the unrestricted import of foreign corn. During the war, the duty on foreign corn was not in operation; the price of corn was then such, that the trade in corn was perfectly free. I cannot discover that during that period of the free importation of corn there was a cessation of those privations which, I fear, are inseparable from the artificial state of society, in a great manufacturing country. I have the most confident persuasion, that if you were to repeal the Corn Laws, and permit the most unrestricted import of foreign corn, there would not be that immediate demand for industry on which the noble Lord relies. The noble Lord says that the poor man has a right to insist from the Legislature for this—that there 1537 shall be a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. In my opinion, no legislative enactment you can pass can give a guarantee that that right shall be established. The noble Lord wishes to maintain the present constitution of society, he wishes, I apprehend, to maintain in the possession of its privileges the present constituency; but if his opinions were to prevail, my belief is his expectations would not be realised—my belief is that it is impossible in this or any other country for the Legislature to realise that expectation which the noble Lord says is a justifiable one, and which the Legislature ought to be required to realize—namely, that on all occasions, and under all circumstances, he who tenders a fair day's work shall have a fair day's wages. [Lord Howick: I expressly qualified the remark.] I did not understand the noble Lord to qualify the observation. If the noble Lord wishes me to proceed on the assumption that he did say so, all I can say is, that I fear that great disappointment will arise from the position—that it will be found after the repeal of the Corn Laws there is not that perfect prosperity the noble Lord seems to anticipate, and that the parties in their disappointment will revert to him and say, your remedy is imperfect. The importation of foreign corn has not fulfilled your expectations—there is not that demand for industry you anticipated — there is not a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. Now, we come and make use of your arguments, and urge on the Legislature that right we have. We fortify ourselves by your authority, and demand those further changes which will give us that right. I believe the noble Lord's analogy between the state of new countries like Canada and the United States, and the position of a country like this, is totally inapplicable. I think that reasons could be shown why there is a demand for labour with increased wages in countries circumstanced like Canada, the United States, and New Zealand, which do not apply to an old country with great manufacturing establishments. I look to the United States— even if I admit the analogy of the noble Lord's to be strictly applicable—I look to the writings of recent travellers in the United States, and I find where there are no restrictions on food there still prevails great distress. In New York and in Philadelphia, recent writers have declared that there is the severest suffering on the 1538 part of the labouring population. On these grounds, I cannot place confidence in the predictions of the noble Lord. I don't believe that the removal of these restrictions will have the effect of so increasing the demand for industry as to realize the expectations of the noble Lord, that even the honest and industrious man can at all times command a fair remuneration for his labour. Thanking the House for their indulgence, I shall not now farther trespass on their attention. I have attempted to assign the reasons why I totally dissent from the proposal of the hon. Gentleman with respect to the absolute repeal of all protection; why, without adopting any-new opinion for the present occasion, I give my preference to the principle of the Bill of 1842, over the principle of the noble Lord, who is an advocate for protection; and why I repeat that declaration I made at the commencement of the Session, on the part of the Government, that we do not intend, and have not intended, to diminish the protection which the existing Corn Laws give to agriculture.
§ Viscount Howick
begged to explain. The right hon. Gentleman had entirely mistaken him; but he would content himself with stating what he did say. The right hon. Gentleman imputed to him that he had said, that a repeal of the Corn Laws would produce an immediate and sudden return to prosperity, and ensure the poor man on all occasions, at all times, and under all circumstances, a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. He had said no such thing. What he did say was this—that, in his opinion, society was so constituted by Providence, that if not interfered with by artificial restrictions, labour would always, in a sound and wholesome state of society, ensure its due reward. He said, that on the admission of both sides of the House, there had been a progressive declension of wages and profits to a ruinous point; that if these restrictions were removed, natural causes would, in general and in ordinary circumstances, secure to the poor industrious man a fair return for his labour; and that a system of legalized relief was a proper source for extraordinary emergencies, but not the proper means for habitual and ordinary dependence.
§ Sir R. Peel
I assure the noble Lord I shall abide by the noble Lord's own construction of his words, both now and on all future occasions. But I must be allowed to refer to the passage which led 1539 me to put the erroneous construction on the noble Lord's words. Whatever the noble Lord's intentions, he certainly used these words:—We might give men a new value for their labour by diminishing competition; and enabling them to obtain higher wages for their labour. This could be done. The poor asked and it was all they asked, a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. They had a right to ask this, and the Legislature had the power to give it them by simply relieving them from the artificial restrictions: What had prevented them from turning their labour to the best account.He quoted this to show that he had had at least some foundation for the sentiments which he had attributed to the noble Lord.
§ Viscount Howick
; I feel that I am compelled to make another observation. The passage quoted by the right hon. Baronet is perfectly consistent with the explanation which I have felt called upon to make. I looked at the Report of what I said last night in the papers of this morning, which I am not much in the habit of doing; and I suppose, that owing to the late hour at which I spoke, the many important qualifications which I made with reference to the general proposition were not refuted.
stated that he had had no intention to make any remarks on the question before the House at that late hour; and he should not have done so but for some allusions which had been made by the right hon. Baronet to some observations which he had made on a former occasion. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right in supposing that if the Motion before the House was for getting rid of all protecting duties for all branches of industry throughout the country that he should very much hesitate before he gave it his support. He knew how many great and complicated interests had grown up under this system, and that it required the greatest care on the part of the Government in dealing with them. But although he made this admission to the right hon. Baronet, he was perfectly prepared to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. He saw only one alternative—either that he must adopt this attempt to reform the state of the Corn Laws, or remain content with the present state of those laws, which he believed were most detrimental to the best interests of the country. But what was the state of the question of the Corn Laws as contrasted with a branch 1540 of industry referred to by the right hon. Gentleman? It was admitted on all hands that you must raise a revenue upon some articles of impost, and then the question arose upon what articles the duties should be imposed and he confessed that he knew none better adapted for the purpose than articles of great luxury, like silk manufactures. But supposing that the duty imposed upon that description of articles was not altogether for the purpose of revenue, but was partly for protection, only contrast it with the amount on the important article involved in the present Motion. He found that while the duty on articles of silk manufacture was only 25 per cent., that this was only half the amount of the duty imposed on the most important article of food. He found that 40s. was the average price of corn in foreign markets, and at which price it could be sold here if there was no duty; but by the operation of the Corn Laws the highest duty was imposed upon this article, which, of all others, should be the roost exempt from a protective duty. This was the ground upon which he went with respect to the importation of silk manufactures. The right hon. Gentleman had the goodness to refer to some observations formerly made by him on the subject, at which time he said, as he now repeated, that he did not wish to protect the silk manufacturers, or to exclude all competition, but that you should put your artizans in silk on the same footing with foreign artizans, so as to enable them to meet competition. He had always said, get rid of the duty on the raw material, and on food, and thus enable the poor man to enter into competition with the foreigner, and then talk of removing all protection on manufactures. He would not at that time of night go into the general question, but he might observe that there were many points of view in which it might be placed, which had not been touched on. The maintenance of the Corn Laws had been strongly urged on the ground of justice at the time that great changes were effected in the currency of the country, the effect of which was felt by the agricultural as well as by the other great interests in the country. But, in consequence of what was done at that time, it would appear that the landed interest regarded the Corn Laws as if they were some portion of the institutions of the country. He recollected what the right hon. Gentle- 1541 man said at the time of introducing the present Corn Law, namely, that he did not intend to take any steps to insure 56s. as the average price, but he had led parties to believe that that was to be regarded as a reasonable price. But the right hon. Baronet should recollect that, at this price, corn would be one-third dearer than it was in other countries. This, be it recollected, was at the time when your manufacturers were brought into competition with those of the rest of the world; and did the House believe that, under such circumstances, they could induce the artizans of this country to pay one-third more for their food than those of foreign nations? It should be remembered that, formerly, this country possessed the exclusive advantages of machinery, but now they were also possessed by the other countries of the world. The hon. Member who had moved the Amendment had talked of the pressure of machinery on the population, but would he allow all other countries to enjoy the benefits of machinery, and deprive this country of its employment? They must take circumstances as they found them, and not as they wished them to be. While other countries enjoyed the same advantage of machinery as ourselves, it was impossible that the artizans of England could successfully compete with the artizans of the Continent and other countries, when food was one-third dearer here. It was because he believed that this state of things was most unjust and most injurious to the best interests of the country, that he should support the Motion.
§ Mr. Borthwick
wished to make a personal explanation. Three times during the debate he had been referred to, and not in very courteous terms. When he told the hon. Member for Wolverhampton that he would vote for his Motion, he meant that he would vote for the rich and the poor, meaning thereby that all parties were equally interested in that question. He promised only to occupy two minutes. Pointing to the clock, the hon. Gentleman said they might time him if they would. He could not allow his opinions to be so grossly and seriously misrepresented as they had been. Throughout the whole debate there had been a most malignant feeling exhibited. It had been argued purely as a party question. The noble Lord had said that he and the hon. Member for Knaresborough presented singular 1542 specimens of legislative wisdom, because the one had moved and the other seconded the Amendment. He merely asked permission to set himself right on a matter as to which he had been seriously misrepresented by the noble Lord. He was as fully convinced as the noble Lord of the importance of machinery, but admitting its importance, even the noble Lord would not deny that its sudden introduction had for a time displaced labour to a large amount. Whether that displacement was compensated for a hundred fold in other quarters was quite another question; he admitted that it was compensated for, though not a hundred fold. The hon. Member for Sheffield had said that he seconded the Amendment with reluctance. He did so; but not because he hesitated to affirm the principle of the Resolutions of his hon. Friend (Mr. Ferrand), but because he doubted the justice and wisdom of putting the present question on that issue. He thought it better, perhaps, that the House should be called upon simply to say "aye" or "no" to the Motion of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Villiers); and one object he had in rising was to ask his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment. He would not follow the noble Lord into the field of thistles near the residence of the right hon. Baronet at Tamworth; but if, for once, he might be permitted to give that right hon. Baronet a little advice, he would say, "By all means get rid of that field of thistles, or you will soon find amongst your neighbours a crowd of animals, distinguished for the length of their ears, but not for the harmony of their voices."
§ Mr. Bright
said: I would not willingly occupy any of the time of the House at this late hour, did I not feel that my duty requires me to make some observations on the important question before the House, and especially after the speech the right hon. Baronet has just delivered. It is generally advantageous to have a speech from the right hon. Baronet on this question; he narrows the ground upon which he is willing to defend the Corn Law. Three years ago, at the celebrated Tamworth dinner, the plea of special burthens was used as making it needful to give a higher protection than 8s. per quarter to agriculture. The special burthens were not pointed out. We could not get at them, but now the right hon. Gentleman has summed them up in the imposition of the rate 1543 for the relief of the poor. ["No, no."] I have no wish to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, but this I understood him to say. Now, the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies comes from a county where the landed interest are not quite so all-powerful as in some other counties— where there is other property than that which consists in acres—and he might have informed his hon. Colleague that in that county there are poor-rates to pay as well as in the counties where agriculture is the chief pursuit. The manufacturer who has a mill pays the poor-rate on the building, steam-engine, and on everything which is considered by law to appertain to the freehold; but he does not pay the rate on his machinery, on his raw material or manufactured article, nor on his floating capital. How is the farmer served? Is he more hardly used? He pays on his farm and farm buildings so much in the pound on the amount of his rent, but he does not pay on his ploughs and harrows, on his stacks or growing crops, or on the money he may have in the bank to pay his rent. Where, then, is the difference in the two cases? Is there any distinction which gives the farmer a claim upon the public to pay his poor-rate from an extra charge upon his wheat? Has not the manufacturer just as good a right to come to this House for a law to enable him to pay his poor-rate as the farmer has? But how does the right hon. Gentleman make it out that the poor-rate is a burthen on the farmer? If the poor-rate were off altogether the simple result would be that the rent would be so much higher. If the right hon. Baronet will cross the Tweed, and ask the first farmer he meets why he can afford to pay so much higher rent than the farmer south of the river, he will be told that, as the Scotch farmer pays almost no poor-rate and no tithes, an amount equal to those imposts is added to the rent. Some forty years ago the late Lord Eldon said that remission of taxes was of no use to the farmers; for, whilst great competition existed for farms, the amount remitted must of necessity be swallowed up in rent. The right hon. Baronet had also spoken of the capital invested in the soil; if he mean the value that is on the land, I cannot understand how the fact of a man's possessing property in land can give him any claim to an extra price for the produce of the land at the expence of the community. If it is meant that the farmers have invested great capital in the soil, why, is it not the con- 1544 stant complaint that agriculture suffers more than all from a want of capital; and is it not evident that, under this protection of the Corn Law, capital may be said positively to shun the soil? The right hon. Baronet has spoken of the predictions of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport. That hon. Gentleman is precisely the man of all others who has avoided hazarding predictions. He said, and every one who thoroughly understands the Corn Law said, that this country never could rise from the depression which so lately existed except through the repeal of the Corn Law, or that, through the bounty of Providence, we were again to be favoured with good harvests. The right hon. Baronet owes his safety, as does the country, to the change in the seasons. What was the condition of the right hon. Baronet some two years ago? How did he bear the weight of the responsibility of his office then? Was not his mind almost pressed down by the difficulties which surrounded him, and were not all the power and all the honours of his high office but a poor compensation for the cares which then pressed upon him? The condition of the country was such as to excite the liveliest apprehensions; and I am sure there is not a man in this kingdom more thankful for the change of seasons than is the right hon. Baronet. It is said we have found no fault with the present law. Is there a feature about the old law which is not discoverable in this? And when the same circumstances come round, the same results will assuredly be produced. During fair weather the Corn Law is partially in operation; its hideous features are to a great extent disguised; but good harvests will not always be granted us; and, when the unfortunate seasons come round again, then again will come disaster and distress. Must we wait for justice till events compel you to grant it? Why not abolish restriction now whilst we have a respite? You may shuffle and evade the question, you may use sophistry, you may deny our facts and disregard our arguments but this you will never disprove, that this Corn Law which you cherish is a law to make a scarcity of food in this country, that your own rents may be increased. The noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire himself acknowledged that the Corn Law raised prices and raised rents, and did not raise wages. It leaves all other classes to bear the effects of the fiercest competition, whilst it shelters the landlords altogether from competition. I 1545 am convinced that, whatever may be the feelings of confidence now entertained by the right hon. Baronet, whenever bad harvests again occur, he will either abolish this law or his Government will be overthrown, as was the Government he succeeded by the bad harvests we have lately suffered from. I do not wish this law to be repealed in times of excitement, nor do I wish its destruction to be achieved as a great party victory; I would rather it were for ever abolished by the unanimous verdict of the honest and intelligent classes of the country. We should regard it as a question of great national interest, not as one affecting our own profits or property; we should legislate upon it in such a manner that, laying our hands upon our hearts, we may say that we have dealt with it on great and just principles, with an honest regard to the common good and not merely with regard to the claims of a particular interest.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
, amidst loud calls for a division, and considerable indications of impatience, said, that the hon. Member for Durham had talked a good deal of class interests, and expressed a great desire to protect the interests of the working classes against what he might call the aristocracy of the country; but he would ask if his conduct on the sugar question bore out his expressions of his opinions? The hon. Member belonged to the Society of Friends, and advocated the views of those who were not friends to the people at large, but friends to their own interests.
§ Mr. Villiers
, in reply, said he heard some hon. Members reminding him of the length of his previous address, he was not going to repeat that infliction, and they need not interrupt him. He had one reason for being short, that he had nothing to reply to; the question had been shirked; he had expected that hon. Members opposite would not venture to discuss the question this year. ["Oh!"] He did not mean to say, that hon. Members did not dare speak, but that consistently with a regard for truth they dared not contradict the statements on which the case for abolishing the monopoly in food was grounded. He called upon them distinctly either to prove the good the law in question had done to the community, or disprove the evils that were asserted and shewn to have followed from it. They could do neither; and to that just challenge they had re- 1546 mained mute. Its evils are obvious; they ventured not this year to say that those were benefitted for whose interest they had been pretending to support it. The debate was now concluded, because the important speech on the occasion had been made; he meant that of the right hon. Baronet, and its importance was admitted to him by one opposed to his views, and on this account, which the right hon. Baronet could hardly be ignorant of himself, that until he delivered that speech, neither his friends nor his opponents knew of what character it would be. He (Mr. Villiers) had been told by an opponent that evening, that if the right hon. Baronet made a thorough protection speech, with no wanderings into the laby-rynth of free-trade, and no admission again of the justice of that principle, that he would then unite his real friends again, and that he would receive cordial support upon all the questions on which they had separated from him; let him, in fact, only say that he would support the present law as it is, without reference to any thing or any body else, and he would hear no more of Ten Hours' Bills, or Poor Law Bills, or any more cant about the suffering of the poor. Well, then, this famous speech has been made—a speech, it seems, to satisfy dissatisfied supporters—an out-and-out protection speech—a fresh pledge to those who considered themselves deceived. He saw hon. Gentlemen were satisfied. He wondered whether any of those who appeared to be so were in this House in 1839. Did they remember certain assurances given on that occasion. The speech of to-night was just a counterpart of that made in 1839. It was characterised by the same features—great levity—apparent disregard of the privation endured by the people, and a solemn pledge given to the agriculturists, that he will firmly adhere to the present law. He did not recollect a single assurance intended to be given by the speech they had just heard, that was not given more solemnly in 1839. Where were hon. Members' grounds of confidence in this law being maintained? Upon the faith of such pledges the right hon. Gentlemen got together a majority to turn out the late Government, because they had proposed to deal with the monopoly, and when the power was acquired they knew what happened. He did not blame the right hon. Gentleman for having broken faith with his friends, he would have been much more to blame had he not done so, or attempted to have done otherwise. The fact was, he could not 1547 resist or prevent events which were inevitable, and he might say now, as he said before, whatever he pleased, or whatever would please his friends, but he must again, as he did before, throw his friends, and his pledges, and his principles overboard, when an overwhelming necessity springing out of the wants and privations of the people rendered it necessary. If the things said in defence of this law by its friends were true, this would not be necessary, but they are notoriously otherwise; and when men were starving, something else than talking or saying what was untrue was required to satisfy them. This law threw upon its upholders the responsibility of providing the people adequately with food; this was undertaken by them to be done, but regularly at given periods did it fail to do it. The people were able by free and regular commerce to feed themselves through their own industry—this law prevented their doing so—it was bound, therefore, to accomplish the object in some other way. Whenever the harvest was bad, by making the people depend upon the accident of a season, they were subject to great want and suffering, and the Minister, whoever he might be, was obliged—for he would not venture to do otherwise—to relax this law, which was for cutting off a vast source of supply to this country. Now, he said, while the law remained, the same reasons existed for the recurrence of the evils that had followed under it already, and Gentlemen opposite might be satisfied if they liked with the right hon. Baronet's promises, but under present circumstances they were only made to be broken, as they would discover ere long. They were certain of their majority now, but let them recollect that it was only the other day that the right hon. Baronet told them that the revenue could not be collected if the cost of living was not reduced. [Cries of "Question."] The hon. Member who was attempting to put him down (the brother of the President of the Board of Trade he believed) would not succeed. He was speaking to the question. He was speaking to the point, when he read those extracts from Gentlemen's speeches that were made in the recess, notwithstanding the remark of the right hon. Baronet. He read those extracts to shew that while the only substitute for liberating the trade in food, would be in applying the most intelligent improvements to agriculture, to the cultivation of the land with the view to great production and adequate supply, but the effect of the present system had been 1548 to retard those improvements hitherto, and was calculated to prevent it in future; and that all the knowledge that they possessed as to the better modes of culture were useless unless a more liberal system was pursued towards the occupiers, and which could only he expected under the influence of competition, and he said that when hon. Gentlemen were setting up the necessity of monopoly for the agriculture of the country, it was in point to examine the truth of such a plea by the evidence afforded by the hon. Gentlemen themselves; and now he was determined that it should be distinctly known to the country under what circumstances the vote was about to be given. He had proved that the people were inadequately supplied with food from the soil of this country—that they had suffered intensely from this circumstance, and that numbers were still suffering—that there was no prospect at present that their wants would, with their increasing numbers, be adequately supplied by the growth at home, and that the population was stillrapidly and daily increasing—indeed, since he had been in the habit of originating discussion on this matter, there had been 2,000,000 added to the people—and now, when the necessary consequence of this condition of the people was, that they must work hard and long for the bare necessaries of life, Gentlemen came forward with long faces whining over their fate, and urging everything to excite feeling and passion among the people themselves at what they called their wretched state, and yet when a great primary cause of the evil was pointed out to them, and they were implored to assist in removing it, for some very good reasons of their own, but which it would not be difficult to explain, they were going to perpetuate that cause of suffering, and treat the request to remove it almost with derision. He challenged anybody upon examining this debate to discover one solid reason why this law or such a policy, under the circumstances of the country, should be continued. He could not wonder at the feeling of the people towards this House, when they witnessed such disregard to the public and general interests. A working man had come to him only that morning and detailed to him what he and his family had suffered during the last four years from want of employment and the high price of living relatively to his earnings. He said "I wish you may succeed, Sir, in moving the feelings of that House on this subject; I wish you may turn their hearts to do 1549 what is just to the people at large in abolishing so wicked a law; but I fear you never will." He (Mr. Villiers) told him not to despair, but this man was convinced that while 6,000,000 out of 7,000,000 of the male adult population remained wholly and entirely without a voice in the Legislature, that their chance of justice was very small. It was for the House to consider how far they would justify that opinion by the vote they were about to give—certainly they acted with their eyes open on this question.
§ Amendment withdrawn. The House divided on the original Motion:—Ayes 124; Noes 328: Majority 204.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Gisborne, T.|
|Aldam, W.||Granger, T. C.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bannerman, A.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Barclay, D.||Guest, Sir J.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Hastie, A.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Hawes, B.|
|Bernal, Capt.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Blake, M.||Hindley, C.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hollond, R.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Horsman, E.|
|Bright, J.||Howick, Visct.|
|Brotherton, J.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Browne, R. D.||Hutt, W.|
|Buller, E.||Johnson, Gen.|
|Busfeild, W.||Langston, J. H.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Layard, Capt.|
|Chapman, B.||Leader, J. T.|
|Childers, J. W.||Leveson, Lord|
|Clay, Sir W.||Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.|
|Clive, E. B.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Cobden, R.||Marshall, W.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Marsland, H.|
|Collett, J.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Collins, W.||Morison, Gen.|
|Craig, W. G.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Murphy, F. S.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Dennistoun, J.||O'Connell, M.|
|D'Eyncourt,rt.hn.C.T.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Ord, W.|
|Duncan, G.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Duncannon, Visct.||Parker, J.|
|Duncombe, T.||Pattison, J.|
|Dundas, F.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Dundas, D.||Philips, G. R.|
|Dundas, hn. J. C.||Philips, M.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Ponsonby,hn.C.F.A.|
|Ellis, W.||Protheroe, E.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Pulsford, R.|
|Ewart, W.||Ramsbottom, J.|
|Fielden, J.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Fitzwilliam, hn. G. W.||Ross, D. R.|
|Forster, M.||Russell, Lord E.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Tufnell, H.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Wakley, T.|
|Smith, B.||Walker, R.|
|Smith, J. A.||Wallace, R.|
|Standish, C.||Warburton, H.|
|Stansfield, W. R. C.||Ward, H. G.|
|Stanton, W. H.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Williams, W.|
|Stuart, W. V.||Wood, C.|
|Strickland, Sir G.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Strutt, E.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Tancred, H. W.|
|Towneley, J.||Villiers, P. S.|
|Trelawny, J. S.||Gibson, M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Buck, L. W.|
|Acland, T. D.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Bunbury, T.|
|Acton, Col.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Adare, Visct.||Byng, G.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Campbell, Sir H.|
|Ainsworth. P.||Campbell, J. H.|
|Alford, Visct.||Cardwell, E.|
|Allix, J. P.||Carnegie, hon. Capt.|
|Antrobus, E.||Cartwright, W. R.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Castlereagh, Visct.|
|Archbold, R.||Chapman, A.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Arkwright, G.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Arundel and Surrey,||Chetwode, Sir J.|
|Earl of||Cholmondeley, hn. H.|
|Ashley, Lord||Christopher, R. A.|
|Astell, W.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Bagge, W.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Bailey, J.||Clive, Visct.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Baillie, Col.||Cochrane, A.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Cockburn, rt.hn. Sir G.|
|Bankes, G.||Codrington, Sir W.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Collett, W. R.|
|Baring, T.||Colquhoun, J. C.|
|Barneby, J.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Compton, H. C.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Copeland, Ald.|
|Bateson, T.||Corry, rt. hon. H.|
|Bennett, J.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Cresswell, B.|
|Beresford, Major||Cripps, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Damer, hon. Col.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Darby, G.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Dawnay, hn. W. H.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Denison, W. J.|
|Borthwick, P.||Denison, E. B.|
|Bowes, J.||Dick, Q.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Disraeli, B.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Dodd, G.|
|Brisco, M.||Douglas, Sir H|
|Broadley, H.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Douglas, J. D. S.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Douro, Marq. of|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Dowdeswell, W.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Hillsborough, Earl of|
|Duff, J.||Hodson, F.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Hodgson, R.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Holmes, hn. W. A'Ct.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Hope, hon. C.|
|East, J. B.||Hope, A.|
|Eastnor, Visct.||Hope, G. W.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Hornby, J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Hoskins, K.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Hotham, Lord|
|Eliot, Lord||Houldsworth, T.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Howard, Lord|
|Entwistle, W.||Howard, P. H.|
|Escott, B.||Howard, hon. H.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Hussey, A.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Hussey, T.|
|Fellowes, E.||Ingestre, Visct.|
|Ferrand, W. B.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Irton, S.|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Flower, Sir J.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Forester, hn. G. C. W.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Forman, T. S.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Fox, S. L.||Jones, Capt.|
|Fremantle,rt.hn.Sir T.||Kemble, H.|
|French, F.||Ker, D. S.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Kirk, P.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Knatchbull,rt.hn.SirE.|
|Gladstone, rt.hn. W. E.||Knight, H. G.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Knight, F. W.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Knightly, Sir C.|
|Gore, M.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Gore, W. O.||Lawson, A.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Lefroy, A.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Leslie, C. P.|
|Greene, T.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Grimsditch, T.||Lindsay, H. H.|
|Grimston, Visct.||Lockhart, W.|
|Grogan, E.||Long, W.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Lopes, Sir R.|
|Hallyburton,LordJ.F.||Lowther, Sir J. H.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Lyall, G.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Hardy, J.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Maclean, D.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Macnamara, Major|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||McNeill, D.|
|Heneage, E.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Henley, J. W.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Henniker, Lord||Manners, Lord J.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||March, Earl of|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Marsham, Visct.|
|Martin, C. W.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Marton, G.||Sanderson, R.|
|Masterman, J.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Maunsell, T. P.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Sheppard, T.|
|Meynell, Capt.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Mildmay, H. St. J.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Miles, W.||Smith, A.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.|
|Mordaunt, Sir J.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Morgan, O.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Morgan, C.||Smollett, A.|
|Mundy, E. M.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Murray, C. R. S.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Neeld, J.||Spry, Sir S. T.|
|Neeld, J.||Stanley, Lord|
|Neville, R.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Newdegale, C. N.||Stewart, J.|
|Newport, Visct.||Stuart, H.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Sturt, H. C.|
|Norreys, Lord||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Northland, Visct.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|O'Brien, A. S.||Taylor, E.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Taylor, J. A.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Tennant, J. E.|
|Oswald, A.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Packe, C. W.||Thornhill, G.|
|Palmer, R.||Tollemache, J.|
|Palmer, G.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Patten, J. W.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Peel, J.||Trotter, J.|
|Pendarves, E. W. W.||Tuite, H. M.|
|Pennant, hn. Col.||Turner, C.|
|Pigot, Sir R.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Verner, Col.|
|Polhill, F.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Pollington, Visct.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Powell, Col.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Power, J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Praed, W. T.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Price, R.||Welby, G. E.|
|Pringle, A.||Wemyss, Capt.|
|Pusey, P.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Rashleigh, W.||Williams, T. P.|
|Reid, Sir J. R.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Rendlesham, Lord||Wood, Col.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Worsley, Lord|
|Richards, R.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|Rolleston, Col.||Wortley, hn. J. S.|
|Round, C. G.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Rous, hon. Capt.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Russell, C.||Young, J.|
|Russell, J. D. W.||Baring, H.|
§ House adjourned at a quarter to two.