§ Mr. Cobden
rose to bring forward his Motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the effects of Protective Duties on imports on the interest of the tenant-farmers and farm-labourers of this country. He said—Sir, the Motion which I have to make is one of a nature which I believe is not ordinarily refused; it is for a Select Committee to sit up stairs, to take evidence on a question that excites great controversy out of doors, and which I believe is likely to cause considerable discussion in this House. It may be thought that my Motion might have peen appropriately placed in other*Reprinted from a corrected Report published by Ridgeway.863 hands. I am of that opinion too. I think it might have been more properly brought forward by a Gentleman on the other side of the House, particularly by an honourable Member connected with the counties of Wiltshire or Dorsetshire. But, although not myself a county Member, that does not necessarily preclude me from taking a prominent part in a question affecting the interests of the tenant-farmers and farm-labourers of this country, for whom I feel as strong a sympathy as for any other class of my countrymen; nay, I stand here on this occasion as the advocate of what I conscientiously believe to be the interests of the agriculturists. We have instances of Committees being appointed to take evidence as to the importation of silk, the exportation of machinery, the navigation laws, on all questions of similar importance. It must also be admitted that such Committees have been appointed without the parties more immediately concerned having in the first instance, petitioned the House for their appointment. On the appointment of the Committee relative to the exportation of machinery, the Motion was granted, not at the instance of manufacturers who had a monoply of the use of machinery, but by parties whose interests were concerned in the making and exporting of machinery. I do not therefore anticipate that my Motion will be resisted on the ground that no petitions have been presented demanding it. I shall now state what my views will be on entering the Committee. I shall be prepared to bring important evidence forward, shewing the effects of "protection," as it is called, on the agriculturists by the examination of farmers themselves. I will, in fact, not bring forward a single witness before that Committee who shall not be a tenant-farmer, or a landed proprietor, and they shall be persons eminent for their reputation as practical agriculturists. The opinion which I shall hold on entering the Committee is, that "protection," as it is called, instead of being beneficial, is delusive and injurious to the tenant farmers; and that opinion I shall be prepared to sustain by the evidence of tenant farmers themselves. I wish it to be understood I do not admit that what is called protection to agriculturists has ever been any protection at all to them; on the contrary, I hold that its only effect has been to mislead them. This has been denied both in this House and out of doors. 864 I have recently read over again the evidence taken before the Committees which sat previous to the passing of the Corn Law of 1815, and I leave it to any man to say whether it was not contended at that time that sufficient protection could not be given to the agriculturists unless they got 80s. a quarter for wheat. I wish to remind the hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. Bennett) that he gave it as his opinion before the Committee of 1814, that wheat could not be grown in this country, unless the farmers got 96s. a quarter, or 12s. a bushel for it, while now he is supporting a Minister who only proposes to give the farmers 56s. a quarter, and confesses he cannot guarantee even that. It is denied that this House has ever promised to guarantee prices for their produce to the farmers. Now, what was the custom of the country from the passing of the Corn Law in 1815? Why, I will bring old men before the Committee who will state that farmers valued their farms from that time by a computation of wheat being at 80s. a quarter. I can also prove that agricultural societies which met in 1821, passed resolutions declaring that they were deceived by the Act of 1815, that they had taken farms calculating upon selling wheat at 80s., while, in fact, it had fallen to little more than 50s. In the Committee which sat in 1836, witnesses stated that they had been deceived in the price of their corn; and I ask whether, at the present moment, rents are not fixed rather with reference to certain Acts that were passed than the intrinsic worth of the farms? In consequence of the alteration that was made in the Corn Law of 1842, the rent of farms has been assessed on the ground of corn being 56s. a quarter. I know an instance where a party occupying his own land was rated at a certain amount, viz., at the valuation of corn being 56s. a quarter, while, in fact, it was selling at 47s.; and, upon his asking why he had been so rated, he was told that the assessors had taken that mode of valuation in consequence of what the Prime Minister had stated was to be the price of corn. ["Oh, oh."] Hon. Gentlemen may cry, "Oh, oh," but I will bring forward that very case, and prove what I have stated concerning it. What I wish in going into Committee is, to convince the farmers of Great Britain that this House has not the power to regulate or sustain the price of their commodities. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. 865 Peel) has confessed that he cannot regulate the wages of labour or the profits of trade. Now, the farmers are dependent for their prices upon the wages of the labourer, and the profits of the trader and manufacturer; and if the Government cannot regulate these—if it cannot guarantee a certain amount of wages to the one, or a fixed profit to the other—how can it regulate the price of agricultural produce? The first point to which I should wish to make this Committee instrumental is to fix in the minds of the farmers the fact that this House exaggerates its power to sustain or enhance prices by direct acts of legislation. The farmer's interest is that of the whole community, and is not a partial interest, and you cannot touch him more sensitively then when you injure the manufacturers, his customers. I do not deny that you may regulate prices for awhile—for awhile you have regulated them by forcing an artificial scarcity; but this is a principle which carries with it the seeds of self-destruction, for you are thereby undermining the prosperity of those consumers upon whom your permanent welfare depends. A war against nature must always end in the discomfiture of those who wage it. You may by your restrictive enactments increase pauperism, and destroy trade: you may banish capital, and check or expatriate your population; but is this, I will ask, a policy which can possibly work consistently with the interests of the farmers? These are the fundamental principles which I wish to bring out, and with this primary view it is that I ask for a Committee at your hands. With regard to certain other fallacies with which the farmers have been beset, and latterly more so than ever; the farmer has been told that if there was a free trade in corn, wheat would be so cheap, that he would not be able to carry on his farm. He is directed only to look at Dantzic, where corn, he is told, was once selling at 15s. 11d. per quarter, and on this the Essex Protection Society put out their circulars, stating that Dantzic wheat is but 15s. 11d. per quarter, and how would the British farmer contend against this? Now, I maintain that these statements are not very creditable to the parties who propagate such nonsense, nor complimentary to the understandings of the farmers who listen to and believe them. It would be no argument against free-trade, but quite 866 the contrary, if wheat could be purchased regularly at Dantzic at that price; but the truth is, that in an average of years at that port, it has cost much more than double; and the truth, I suppose, is what all men desire to arrive at. The farmer will very easily be disabused on this and other points if you will grant me the Committee I seek. We know what the price has been in the Channel Islands where the trade is free. These islands send the corn of their own growth to this country whenever it is profitable to do so, and they receive foreign corn for their own consumption duty free. Sir, without pretending to look into futurity, I know of no better test of what the price of corn in this country would be in a state of free-trade, than the prices in the island of Jersey afford, taken, not like the bissex Protection Society for a single week or month, but for a number of years, comprising a cycle of high and low prices in this country. We know that the fluctuation of prices in this country embraces the fluctuation of the whole of Europe. We have papers on the Table showing what the prices of corn were in Jersey, in the ten years from 1832 to 1841 inclusive. The average price was in those ten years 48s. 4d. What do you think was the average price in your own markets in those years? It was 56s. 8d. Now, I have taken some pains to consult those who best understand this subject, and I find it to be their opinion, that a constant demand from England under a free-trade would have raised the level of European prices 2s. or 3s. a quarter during the above period. If this be a fair estimate, it brings the price up to within 5s. or 6s. a quarter of our own average. Was this difference in price to throw land out of cultivation, annihilate rent, ruin the farmer, and pauperise the labourers? But in years of high prices the farmers do not receive the highest price for their corn. On the contrary, they sell their corn at the lowest prices, and the speculator sells his at the highest. A short time ago I met a miller front near Winchester, who told me the prices which he paid every year for the corn which he purchased before the harvest and after the harvest during live years. That statement I beg to read to the House:—
|Load of 5 qrs.|
§ Thus in these five years there had been a difference of 3l. 18s. a load, or 15s. a quarter, between the prices of wheat in July and August and in October and November in each year, shewing, beyond dispute, that the farmer did not sell his corn at the highest, but at the lowest of the markets. Now, Sir, there is another point upon which as much misrepresentation exists as upon the one I have just stated, namely, the price at which corn could be grown abroad. The price of wheat at Dantzic during those ten years to which I have referred averaged upwards of 40s. a quarter; and if you add to it the freight, it will corroborate the statement I have made with regard to the price at which wheat has been sold at Jersey. Another point upon which misrepresentation has gone abroad, relates to the different items of expenditure in bringing wheat to this country. We have had consuls' returns from various ports, of the charges for freight at various periods, but we have not had full accounts of the other items of expenditure. It would be important to elicit as much information as possible upon this subject, and the best means of arriving at it would be to examine practical men from the City before a Select Committee of the House as to the cost of transit. As far as I can obtain information from the books of merchants, the cost of transit from Dantzic, during an average of ten years, may be put down at 10s. 6d. a quarter, including in this, freight, landing, loading, insurance, and other items of every kind. This is the natural protection enjoyed by the farmers of this country. I may be answered, that the farmers of this country have the cost of carriage to pay also, as, for instance, from Norfolk to Hull or London. But I beg to remind hon. Gentlemen that a very small portion of home-grown corn is carried coastwise at all. Accurate information upon this point might be got before a Select Committee of this House. From information which I have obtained, I am led to believe that not more than 1,000,000 of quarters are carried coastwise at all, or 5 868 per cent. of the yearly growth of the country; the rest is carried from the barn-door to the mill. This is an important consideration for those who say that there is no natural protection to the farmer, inasmuch as it gives the farmer here a constant protection of half-a-guinea. But hon. Gentlemen ought to bear in mind, that the corn which is brought from Dantzic is not grown on the quays there, any more than it is grown on the quay of Liverpool. On the contrary, it is brought at great expense from a very long distance in the interior. I have seen a statement made by an hon. Member from Scotland, who said that the rafts on which the corn was brought down the river to Dantzic, were broken up and sold to pay the cost of transit. I have not been able to verify that statement in the course of my inquiries. These are points which might all be cleared up by practical men before the Committee; and thus, instead of resorting to prophecy, we should be able to judge from facts and past experience as to the ability of the English farmers to compete with foreigners. Hon. Gentlemen would do well to consider what happened in the case of wool. Every prediction that is now uttered with regard to corn, was uttered by Gentlemen opposite with regard to wool. If hon. Gentlemen visited the British Museum, and explored that Herculaneum of buried pamphlets which were written in opposition to Mr. Huskisson's plans for reducing the duty on wool twenty years ago, what arguments would they find in the future tense, and what predictions of may, might, could, would, should, ought, and shall. But what was the result? Did they lose all their sheep-walks? Had they no more mutton? Are their shepherds all consigned to the workhouse? Were there no more sheep-dogs? I have an account of the importation of wool and the price of wool, and the lesson I wish to impress on Gentlemen opposite is this, that the price of commodities may spring from two causes—a temporary, fleeting, and retributive high price, produced by scarcity; or a permanent and natural high price, produced by prosperity. In the case of wool, you had a high price springing from the prosperity of the consumers. It so happens, in the case of this article of wool, that the price has been highest when the importation has been most considerable, and lowest in the years when the importation has been comparatively 869 small. I beg to read a statement which illustrates this fact:—
|1827||10d. per lb.||29,115,341|
|1829||7d. per lb.||21,516,649|
|1836||18d. per lb.||64,239,000|
|1841||11d. per lb.||56,170,000|
|1842||10d. per lb.||45,833,000|
From this statement it appears, that in every instance where the price has been highest, the English farmer has had the largest competition from foreign growers, and that the price was lowest where the competition was least. Well, that is the principle which I wish to see applied in viewing this much-dreaded question of corn. You may have a high price of corn, through a prosperous community, and it may continue a high price: you may have a high price through a scarcity, and it is impossible in the very nature of things that it can be permanent. Now, put this test of wool in the case of cattle and other things that have been imported since the passing of the Tariff. I want this matter to be cleared up. I do not want Gentlemen to find fault with the Prime Minister for doing what he did not do. I do not think his Tariff caused a reduction of one farthing in the price of articles of consumption. But I must say, with all deference to him, that I think he himself is to blame for having incurred that charge by the arguments which he brought forward in support of the Tariff, for assuredly he took the least comprehensive or statesmanlike view of his measures, when he proposed to degrade prices, instead of aiming to sustain them by enlarging the circle of exchanges. It is said that the Tariff has caused distress among the farmers. Why, I don't believe there has been as much increase in the imports of cattle as would make one good breakfast for all the people. Did it never enter the minds of hon. Gentlemen who are interested in the sale of cattle, that their customers in large towns cannot be sinking into abject poverty and distress, without the evil ultimately reaching themselves in the price of their produce? I had occasion, a little time ago, to look at the falling-off in the consumption of cattle in the town of Stockport. I calculated the falling-off in Stockport alone, for three or four years, at more than all the increase in the importation of foreign cattle. It appears, therefore, that the distress of that town alone, has done as much to reduce prices,
as all tie importation under the Tariff. It has been estimated, that in Manchester, 40 per cent, less of cattle was consumed in 1842 than in 1835; and it has also been estimated that the cotton trade was paying 7,000,000l. less in wages per annum in 1842 than in 1836. How could you then expect the same consumption? If you would but look to your own interests as broadly and as wisely as manufacturers look to theirs, you would never fall into the error of supposing that you can ruin your customers, and yet, at the same time, prosper in your pursuits. I remember hearing Lord Kinnaird, whose property is near Dundee, state, that in 1835 and 1836, the dealers from that town used to come and bespeak his cattle three months in advance; but in 1842, when the linen trade shared the prostration of all the manufactures, he had to engage steamboats three months in advance to bring his cattle to the London market. Hon. Members who live in Sussex and the southern counties, and who are in the habit of sneering at Manchester, should recollect, that they are as much dependent upon the prosperity of Lancashire, as those who live in their immediate neighbourhood. If graziers, on looking at the Price Current, find they can get a better price for their cattle in London than in Manchester and Stockport, will they not send their cattle up to London, to compete with the southern graziers? The point, therefore, which I wish to make known is, that the Tariff has not caused the reduction in price. There is nothing which I regret more than that the Corn Law or the Tariff should have been altered by the right hon. Baronet at all. Without this alteration I feel confident we should have had prices as low at least as they are; our lesson would then have been complete, the landlords and tenants would have been taught how dependent they are on their customers, and they would have then united with the manufacturers in favour of free-trade. But, if the late alterations in the Corn Law and Tariff are now to be made the bugbear for frightening the farmers from the path of free-trade—if they are to be told that those measures have reduced their protection 30 per cent.,—then I think those political landlords who were returned to this house as "farmers' friends," pledged to defend "protection" as it stood, and who betrayed their trust,
ought to do something more if they are sincere; they ought to reduce their rents in proportion to the amount of protection which they say they have withdrawn from the farmer—they ought to do this, not for one rent-day, but permanently; and they should do it with penitence and in sackcloth and ashes, instead of hallooing, on the poor farmers upon a wrong scent, after the Anti Corn Law League as the cause of their sufferings. Now, with regard to the low prices having been caused by the change in the Tariff, I do not know whether a noble Lord happens to be present, who illustrated this very aptly, by stating that the farmers in the West of Scotland had been ruined by the reduction in the duty on cheese. There could be nothing more unfortunate than that statement, as there happens, in that respect, to have been no alteration, and yet, I believe cheese fell in price as much as any other article. It is well known that whilst the price of cheese has fallen in the home market, the importation from abroad has been also considerably diminished. There is another subject upon which I must entreat hon. Members' forbearance, for it is an exceedingly tender point and one which is always heard with great sensitiveness in this House. I refer to the subject of rent. We have no tenant farmers in this House. I wish we had, and I venture here to express a hope that the next dissolution will send up a boná fide tenant farmer. I know nothing more likely than that, to unravel the perplexity of our terminology—nothing more likely to put us all in our right places and to make us speak each for himself on this subject. The landowners, I mean the political landowners, those who dress their labourers and their cattle in blue ribbons, and who treat this question entirely as a political one, they go to the tenant farmers and they tell them that it would be quite impossible for them to compete with foreigners, for, if they had their land rent-free, they could not sell their produce at the same price as they did. To bear out their statement, they give a calculation of the cost per acre of growing wheat, which they put down at 6l. Now, the fallacy of that has been explained to me by an agriculturist in the Midland Counties, whom I should exceedingly like to see giving his evidence before the Committee for which I am moving. He writes me in a letter which I have received to-day,
You will be met by an assertion that no
alteration in rent can make up the difference to the tenant and labourer of diminished prices. They will quote the expenses on a single crop of wheat, and say how small a proportion the rent bears to the whole expense but that is not the fair way of putting it. Wheat is the farmer's remunerating crop, but he cannot grow wheat more than one year in three. The expense, then, of the management of the whole farm should be compared with the rent, to estimate what portion of the price of corn is received by the landlord. I have, for this purpose, analysed the expenses of a farm of 400 acres—230 arable, 170 pasture.
|"The expenses are:—||£|
|Parish and county rates||90|
|Interest of capital||150|
|Manure arid lime||70|
|Wear of horses||20|
§ "So that on this farm, which is very fairly cultivated, the rent is 800l. the other expenses 790l. Now, if it requires 55s. per quarter in an average year, to enable the tenant to pay the rent and make 150l. profit, it is obvious that without any rent he would be enabled to pay his labourers and tradesmen as well, and put the same amount of profit into his pocket, with a price of 30s. supposing other produce to be reduced in the same proportion. But I do not anticipate that wheat will be reduced below 45s., even by free-trade, and meat, butter, and cheese, will certainly not fall in the same proportion."
This then is a very important statement from a competent authority, and the gentleman who makes it I should be very glad to have examined before the Committee if the House grant one. ["Name."] I believe that the writer will have no objection to his name being published he is Mr. Charles Paget, of Ruddington Grange, near Nottingham.* Allow
*We retain this letter which was appended to the corrected report. "The following important letter was received, after the speech had been delivered:—
"Ruddington Grange, March 14.
"My dear Sir,—It is a great satisfaction to me to find the statement I sent to you so fully confirmed by Lord Worsley.
"He takes a farm which is entirely arable, while the one whose expenses I stated is 230 arable and 170 pasture, which is a fair proportion for the Midland Counties. His rent is divided between the landlord and the clergyman; mine is paid entirely to one landlord. He takes a farm which requires an outlay for manure equal to half the rent; I, one which
me now to state the method by which I calculate the proportion which rent bears to the other outgoings on a farm. I ascertain first what amount of produce the farmer sells off his farm in the year, and next I inquire how much of the money brought home from market goes to the landlord for rent. I take no account in this money calculation of the seed corn, stock manure, horse keep, or other produce of the land used or consumed upon the farm, because these things are never converted into money, and cannot, therefore, be used in payment of rent, taxes, &c. Now I am prepared to prove before a Committee, by a Scotch farmer, that one-half of the disposable produce from a Lothian farm goes to the landlord for rent—that 26s. out of every 52s. for a quarter of wheat is rent: and that, consequently, if they had their land rent-free, and sold their wheat at 26s. a quarter, they would do as well, pay as good wages, and everybody about the establishment be as well provided for as they are now, when paying rent and getting 52s. for their wheat. With such a margin as this, I think we need not be in much fear of throwing land out of cultivation in Scotland! I believe many hon. Gentlemen opposite have never made a calculation of what proportion of the whole of the saleable produce goes for rent. It must be borne in mind that every acre of a farm pays rent, although, probably, not more
will maintain its fertility at an expenditure of one-twelfth the rent in artificial manure; and if you refer to the explanation appended to my statement, you will see that I consider it applicable to the heavy and mixed lands, and that for the poorer light lands a rectification was required for the quantity of manure purchased.
Now let us take Lord Worsley's statement. He takes:—
|Add excess of manure||360|
|"His horse keep ought to have been treated like his seed corn: it is not an outgoing from the farm, but an abstraction from the disposable produce. His other expenses are;—|
|Mechanics or Tradesmen's bills||200|
|Interest of capital||200|
So that had his land been of such a quality that it would have required only 140l. instead of 500l. to maintain its fertility, he would of course have paid 360l. more rent. The result then would have been,—
Had one-third of the land been old turf, the expenses would have been reduced 200l. So that Lord Worsley more than confirms my statement. "I see the Lothian farmers estimate the landlord's share at one-half, while I only state it at 25s. out of every 55s. for England. "I believe the opposition you meet with is from an honest conviction that a change would be injurious to the tenant and labourer. I am therefore very sorry that your Committee has been refused. "I am my dear Sir, very truly yours, "CHARLES PAGET. "Richard Cobden, Esq., M. P.875 nesses to prove that more than half of the produce goes to the landlord, owing to the tact of there being less paid in wages upon dairy farms. For every 5d. received for cheese, more than 2½d. is paid in rent; and upon grazing farms, also, for every 5d. received for a pound of meat, at least 2½d. is paid to the landlord. This is, after all, the important point in the consideration of this question, because, it being settled, the public would no longer labour under the apprehension, that if free-trade were adopted the farmers would suffer, or that land would be thrown out of cultivation. This is a point upon which I should not have entered, had not the investigation been challenged by my opponents. It must not be imputed to me that I entertain the opinion that free-trade in corn would deprive the landowners of the whole of their rents. I have never said so—I have never even said that land would not have been as valuable as it is now if no Corn-law had ever existed. But this I do mean to say, that if the landowners prefer to draw their rents from the distresses of the country, caused by their restrictive laws to create high prices through scarcity of food, instead of deriving au honourable income of possibly as great, or even greater amount, through the growing prosperity of the people under a free-trade, then they have no right, in the face of such facts as I have stated, to attempt to cajole the farmer into the belief, that rent forms an insignificant item in the cost of his wheat, or to frighten him into the notion that he could not compete with foreigners if he had his land rent-free. I shall now touch upon another and more important branch of this question, I mean the interests of the farm labourer. We are told that he is benefited by a system of restriction which makes the first element of subsistence scarce. Do you think posterity will believe it? They will look back upon this doctrine, in less than twenty years, with as much amazement as we do how upon the conduct of our forefathers when they burnt old women for witchcraft. To talk of benefiting labourers by making one of the main articles of their consumption scarce! The agricultural labourers live by wages what is it which regulates the wages of labour in every country? Why, the quantity of the necessaries and comforts of life which form the fund out of which labour is paid, and the proportion which they bear to the 876 whole number of labourers to be maintained. Now, the agricultural labourer spends a larger proportion of his wages in food than any other class. And yet, in the face of this fact, do you go on maintaining a law which makes food scarce in order to benefit the agriculturist! I hold in my hand a volume which has been presented to the House relating to the state of the agricultural population of this country, and which, I think, ought to have been brought under the notice of the House, by some one competent to deal with the subject, long before now. Last year a Commission was appointed to inquire into the state of women and children employed in agriculture. I beg to make a few observations before proceeding further, upon the manner in which this inquiry has been conducted. Some years ago the House will recollect that a Commission was appointed on the condition of the hand-loom weavers. That commission sat two years; its inquiries have since been directed to the state of other manufacturing interests; and it is still, I believe, in existence. The inquiry upon the state of the labourers employed in our manufactures, therefore, will have been very fully gone into. But when an application was made to a member of the Cabinet to allow the same Commission to institute a similar inquiry into the state of the labourers employed in husbandry, he refused to do so; but afterwards, he agreed that an inquiry should be made by the Assistant Poor Law Commissioners, but that only thirty days could be allowed for such inquiry. The volume which I hold in my hand is, therefore, the work of four gentlemen during only thirty days; one of these gentlemen, Mr. Austin, set forward on his task, and consumed two days in travelling. He had thus only twenty-eight days to inquire into the condition of the agricultural population in four counties in the south of England. We have, however, some facts elicited on that inquiry, which ought to have drawn forth remarks from hon. Gentlemen opposite, as to the condition of their own constituents. Before I allude to the condition of the agricultural labourers, I wish to state that, whatever may have been the animus which influenced others in investigating the condition of the manufacturing districts, I am actuated by no invidious feeling whatever towards the agriculturists; for, bear in mind, that my conduct has been 877 throughout marked by consistency towards both. Had I ever concealed the wretched state of the manufacturing operatives, or shrunk from the exposure of their sufferings, my motives might have been open to suspicion in now bringing before your notice the still more depressed condition of the agricultural poor. But I was one of that numerous deputation from the north which, in the spring of 1839, knocked in vain at the door of this House for an inquiry at your bar into the state of the manufacturing population. I was one of the deputies who intruded ourselves (sometimes 500 strong) into the presence of successive Prime Ministers until our importunities became the subject of remark and complaint in this House. From that time to this, we have continued without intermission to make public in every possible way the distress to which the manufacturers were exposed. We did more. We prescribed a remedy for that distress. And I do not hesitate to express my solemn belief that the reason why, in the disturbances which took place, there was no damage done to property in the manufacturing districts was, that the people knew and felt that an inquiry was taking place, by active and competent men, into the cause of their distresses, and from which they had hoped some efficient remedy would result; and I would impress upon hon. Members opposite as the result of my conviction, that if the labouring poor in their districts take a course as diabolical as it is insane—a coure which I am sorry to see they have taken in many agricultural localities—of burning property to make known their sufferings—if I might make to those hon. Gentlemen a suggestion, it would be this—that if they had come forward to the House and the country as we, the manufacturers, have done, and made known the sufferings of the labour-pig population, and prescribed any remedy whatever—if that population had heard a voice promulgating their distresses, and making known their sufferings—if they had seen the sympathies of the country appealed to—I believe it would have had such a humanising and consoling effect upon the minds of the poor and misguided people, that in the blindness of despair they would never have destroyed that property which it was their interest to protect. I have looked through this volume, which is the result of Mr. Austin's twenty-eight 878 days' travels through the agricultural districts, and I find that during that period he visited Somersetshire, Devonshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire. He has given the testimony of various respectable gentlemen in these several localities, as to the condition of the agricultural labourers. Some of these accounts are highly important. The first that I shall refer to is the evidence of the Rev. J. Guthrie, the Vicar of Calne, in Wilts.
He says (speaking of the agricultural labourers in that district)—'I never could make out how they can live with their present earnings.' Dr. Greenup, M.D., Calne, says: In our union the cost of each individual in the workhouse, taking the average of men, women, and children, is 1s. 6d. a week for food only; and buying by tender, and in large quantity, we buy at least 10 per cent. cheaper than the labouring man can. But, without considering this advantage, apply the scale to the poor industrious family. A man, his wife, and two children will require, if properly fed, 6s. weekly; their rent (at least 1s.) and fuel will very nearly swallow up the remainder; but there are yet things to provide—soap and candles, clothes and shoes—shoes to a poor man are a serious expense, as he must have them strong, costing about 12s. a pair, and he will need at least one pair in a year. When I reckon up these things in detail, I am always more and more astonished how the labourers contrive to live at all.' Thos. King, Esq. surgeon, Caine, Wilts., says—'If women and boys who labour in the fields suffer in their health at all, it is not from the work they perform, but the want of food. The food they cat is not bad of its kind, but they have not enough of it, and more animal food would be most desirable; but with the present rate of wages, it is impossible. Their low diet exposes them to certain kinds of diseases, more particularly to those of the stomach.'—Mr. Robert Bowman, farmer and vice-chairman of the Board of Guardians, Caine Union, deposes—'In the great majority of cases the labourer has only the man's wages (8s. or 9s. a week) to live on. On that a man and his wife, and family of four, five, or six children must live, though it is a mystery to me how they do live.' This was the evidence of a farmer.—Mrs. Britton, wife of a farm labourer, says—'We could eat much more bread if we could get it.'—Mrs. Wiltshire, wife of a farm labourer at Cherill, Wilts, in her own pathetic way, says—'Our common drink is burnt crust tea. We also buy about half a pound of sugar a week. We never know what it is to get enough to eat. At the end of the meal, the children would always eat more. Of bread there is never enough. The children are always asking for mere at every meal. I then say, "You don't want your father to go to prison, do you?'879 That is a specimen of the evidence collected in the South of England, in the purely agricultural districts, by Mr. Austin. I have myself had the opportunity of making considerable observations in the agricultural districts, and I have come to this conviction that the farther you travel from the much-maligned region of tall chimneys and smoke, the less you find the wages of labourers to be; the more I leave behind me Lancashire and the northern parts of England, the worse is the condition of the labourers, and the less is the quantity of food they have. Does not this, I will ask, answer the argument that the agricultural labourer derives protection from the Corn Laws? Now, what I wish to bring out before the Committee is not merely that, in the abstract and as a general principle, the working class can never be benefitted by high prices occasioned by scarcity of food, but, that even during your casual high prices, caused by scarcity, the agricultural labourers always suffer. Pauperism increases as the price of food rises—and, in short, the price of the loaf is in a direct ratio proof of the increase of pauperism. ["No, no."] An hon. Gentleman says, "No, no." I hope I shall have him on the Committee, and if he will only hear me out, I am sure I shall persuade him to vote for the Committee. With regard to the condition of the agricultural labourer, I have taken some pains to ascertain what has been the relative progress of wages and rents in agricultural districts. I know that this is a very sore point indeed for hon. Members opposite, but I must tell them that in those very districts of Wilts and Dorset the wages of Labour, as measured in food, are lower now than they were sixty years ago, while the rent of land has increased from two-and-a-half to threefold. Mind, I don't pretend to decide whether with a Free Trade rents might not have advanced even fivefold, but I do contend that, under those circumstances, the increased value of land could have only followed the increased prosperity of every portion of the industrious community; and so long as you maintain a law for enhancing prices by scarcity, and raising artificial rents for a time and by the most suicidal process, out of the privations of the consumers, you must not be surprised if you are called upon to show how the system works upon those for whose benefit you profess to uphold the law. I find that the fol- 880 lowing were the ordinary wages of the common agricultural day-labourers previous to the rise of prices after 1790, taken from the accounts of the respective counties, drawn up for the Board of Agriculture; not including hay time and harvest:—
|Average price of wheat||44s. 6d.|
|Devonshire||6s. to 7s. 6d. per week.|
|Wiltshire||6s. to 7s. per week.|
|Somersetshire||7s. to 9s. per week.|
|Dorset||6s. to 6s. 6d. per week.|
|(With wheat at 5s. a bushel.)|
|Gloucester||7s. to 10s. per week.|
Since that period money wages have hardly increased in those districts, and wages computed in food have certainly declined, while rent has progressed from 200 to 250 per cent. I will mention another fact illustrative of the relative progress of rents and wages. When lately attending a meeting at Gloucester, I heard a gentleman say publicly that he had recently sold an estate which had belonged to his great-grandfather, and which brought him ten times the price his ancestor had given for it. But what, in the same time, has been the course of wages? It is stated in a work, attributed to Justice Hale, published in 1683, upon the condition of the working classes, that the wages of a farm labourer in Gloucestershire were 10s. a week, and he remarks, "Unless the earnings of a family, consisting of the father, mother, and four children, amount to that sum, they must make it up, I suppose, by begging or stealing." Wheat was then 36s. a quarter. Now that wheat is 40 per cent. higher, the average wages in Gloucestershire are only 8s. to 9s., and in many cases 7s. and 6s. And Mr. Hunt, a farmer in Gloucestershire, who is also a guardian of the poor, stated publicly at the same meeting, that in his district it was found when relief was applied for, that in many instances families, who were endeavouring to exist on wages, were, taking the number of the family into account, only obtaining one-half the amount which their maintenance would cost in the workhouse. Mr. Hunt also stated that directions having been received by the guardians of the Union to keep the poor who were inmates of the Workhouse upon as low a diet as the able-bodied labourer and his family could obtain out of it, they were, on inquiry, startled at the small quantity of food upon
which, from the low rate of wages, the labouring population were forced to subsist; and upon referring the point to the medical officer of the Union, he reported that it would not be safe to feed the able-bodied paupers upon the scale of food which they were getting out of the Workhouse. Hitherto I have spoken of the food of the agricultural population; and when we speak of food, it implies lodging, clothing—it implies morality, Education, ay, and I fear, religion, and everything pertaining to the social comforts and morals of the people. I have informed the House in what manner that population is fed; but there is another point in the volume before me which most especially calls for the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite—I refer to the lodging of the agricultural poor. That is a point that more nearly concerns, if possible, the character of the landowner than, perhaps, the question of food. Mr. Austin in the report from which I have before quoted, in reference to the four counties I have enumerated, says:—
The want of sufficient accommodation seems universal. At Stourpain, a village near Blandford, Dorset, I measured a bedroom ill a cottage. The room was ten feet square, not reckoning the two small recesses by the side of the chimney, about, eighteen inches deep. The roof was the thatch, the middle of the chamber being about seven feet high. Eleven persons slept in three beds in this room. The first bed was occupied by the father and mother, a little boy, Jeremiah, aged one year and a half, and an infant, aged four months; second bed was occupied by the three daughters—the two eldest, Sarah and Elizabeth, twins, age twenty, and Mary, aged seven; third bed was occupied by the four sons—Silas, aged seventeen, John, aged fifteen, James, aged fourteen, and Elias, aged ten. There was no curtain, or any kind of separation between the beds.
Mr. Phelps, an agent of the Marquess of Lansdowne, says,—
I was engaged in taking the late census in Bremhill Parish, and in one case, in Studley, I found twenty-nine people living under one roof; amongst them were married men and women, and young people of nearly all ages. In Studley it is not at all uncommon for a whole family to sleep in the same room. The number of bastards in that place is very great.
The hon. and Rev. S. Godolphin Osborne, Rector of Bryanston, Dorset, says,—
Within this last year I saw in a room,
about thirteen feet square, three beds; on the first lay the mother, a widow, dying of Consumption; on the second, two unmarried daughters, one eighteen years of age, the other twelve; on the third, a young married couple, whom I myself had married two days before. A married woman, of thorough good character, told me a few weeks ago that on her confinement, so crowded with children is her one room, they are obliged to put her on the floor in the middle of the room, that they may pay her the requisite attention; she spoke of this as to her the most painful part of that, her hour of trial.
Mr. Thomas Fox, Solicitor, Beaminster, Dorset, in his evidence to Mr. Austin, says:—
I regret that I cannot take you to the parish of Hook (near here), the whole parish belonging to the Duke of Cleveland, occupied by a tenant of the name of Rawlings, where the residences of the labourers are as bad as it is possible you can conceive; many of them without chambers, earth floors, not ceiled or plastered; and the consequence is, that the inhabitants are the poorest—the worst off in the country.
He is asked:—
Are you of opinion that such a want of proper accommodation for sleeping must tend very much to demoralize the families of the labouring population?—There can be no doubt of it; and the worst of consequences have arisen from it, even between brothers and sisters.
Mr. Malachi Fisher, of Blandford, Dorset, says:—
That in Milton Abbas, on the average of the late census, there were thirty-six persons in each house. It is not an uncommon thing for two families, who are near neighbours, to place all the females in one cottage, and the males in another.
And Mr. Austin, in his report, says:—
The sleeping of boys and girls, young men and young women, in the same room, in beds almost touching one another, must have the effect of breaking down the great barriers between the sexes: the sense of modesty and decency on the part of women, and respect for the other sex on the part of the men. The consequence of the want of proper accommodation for sleeping in the cottages are seen in the early licentiousness of the rural disctricts; licentiousness which has not always respected the family relationship.
I am by no means desirous of using excitable language or harsh terms in anything I may have to address to the House upon this subject; but I should not do justice to my own feelings if I failed to express my strong indignation at the con-
duct of those owners of land who permit men, bred on the soil, born on their territory, to remain in the condition in which the labouring population of Dorsetshire appear, not occasionally, but habitually, to exist. [Lord Ashley: Hear.] I am glad to hear that cheer from his Lordship; I should have expected as much. You talk to us about the crowding together of the labouring population in the manufacturing towns, and charge that upon the manufacturer and the mill-owner, forgetting that the crowding together in towns cannot come under the cognizance of particular individuals or employers; but in the agricultural districts, we find the large proprietors of land, who will not allow any other person to erect a stick or a stone, or to build a cottage upon their estates, nevertheless permitting men, for whose welfare they are responsible, to herd in this beastly state, in dwellings worse than the wigwams of the American Indians. When we see these things, I repeat, that the persons by whom they are permitted to continue, deserve to be visited with the most unqualified reprobation of this House. It was well said by the late Mr. Drummond, "that property has its duties as well as its rights," but these duties are grossly neglected when a Commissioner from the Government can find people living in such pig-sties—or worse than pig-sties—as have been described. I have alluded to the evidence of the Rev. Godolphin Osborne. I have not the honour to be acquainted with that gentleman, and I have no doubt that in political matters we differ "wide as the poles," but I cannot but admire him or any other man who will come forward and express his opinion, and make public the state of a population so degraded. That gentleman, in a letter lately written, says:
Our poor live on the borders of destitution * * * From one year's end to another, there are many labouring families that scarcely touch, in the way of food, anything but bread and potatoes, with now and then some bacon. Bread is in almost every cottage the chief food of the children, and, when I know of what that bread is often made, I am not surprised at the great prevalence amongst the children of the labourers, of diseases known to proceed from an improper or too stinted diet * * * The wages paid by farmers I do not find exceeding 8s., except, perhaps, in the case of the shepherd or carter, In many parishes only 7s. a-week are paid. * * * A clergyman in this Union states to me, that he had lately had four blankets sent
to him to dispose of. In making inquiry for the most proper objects, he found in fifteen families in his parish, consisting of eighty-four individuals, there were only thirty-three beds, and thirty-five blankets, being about three persons to one bed, with one blanket. Of the thirty-five blankets, ten were in good condition, having been given them within the last four years, the other twenty-five were mere patched rags.
Bear in mind that I am describing no sudden crisis of distress, such as occasionally takes place in the manufacturing districts, but the ordinary condition of the people. The strikes and tumults of which you hear so much in those districts, are the struggles of the operatives against being reduced from their comparatively comfortable earnings to the deplorable condition in which the agricultural population have sunk unconsciously, and, I am afraid to think, contentedly. Speaking of the Union of Tarrant Hinton, the same reverend gentleman says:—
In Tarrant Hinton parish, a father, mother, married daughter and her husband, an infant, a blind boy of sixteen, and two girls, occupying one bedroom; next door, a fattier, mother, and six children, the eldest boy sixteen years of age, in one bedroom; two doors below, a mother, a daughter with two bastards, another daughter, her husband, and two children, another daughter and her husband, one bedroom and a sort of landing, the house in a most dilapidated state! It is not one property or one parish alone, on or in which such cases exist; the crowded state of the cottages generally, is a thing known to every one who has occasion to go amongst the poor. In one or two cases whole villages might be gone through, and every other house at least would tell the same tale; and I know this to be true out of this Union as well as in it; and in some of these worst localities a rent of from 3l. to 5l. yearly is charged for a house with only one room below and one above. It may serve to corroborate what I have stated of the crowding of the villages to add, that I have now a list before me of forty families belonging to other parishes in the Union, who are now actually residing in the town of Bland-ford.
Now, mark! the progress of the evil is this. The landowner refuses to build up new cottages, and permits the old cottages to fall down; and I speak advisedly when I say, that this is the course adopted systematically in Dorsetshire, and the people are driven to Blandford and other towns. And what a population are they thus sending to the manufacturing districts! Why, what are these villages but normal schools of prostitution and vice?
Oh, do not then blame the manufacturers for the state of the population in their towns, while you rear such a people in the country, and drive them there for shelter, when the hovels in which they have dwelt fall down about them. I wish to be understood that in speaking of the condition of the agricultural labourer, and of the wages he receives, I do not intend to cast imputations upon any individual. I attack not individuals, but the system. I say emphatically, I do not attack individuals, but a system. Although I hold the proprietor to be responsible for the state of lodging on his own land, I do not hold him responsible for the rate of wages in his district. I never held the farmers responsible for the want of employment or the price of labour, although it has been foolishly said of me that I did so. I challenge the Argus-eyed opponent I have to deal with, to show that I have ever done so. But, so far from that being the case, I have, in every agricultural district which I have visited, told the labourers "that the farmers cannot give what wages they please—wages are are not to be looked upon as charity—the farmers are in no way responsible for low wages—it is the system." I have thus spoken of the food and lodging of the agricultural labourers, and shall content myself with one extract from Mr. Austin's description of their clothing:—
A change of clothes seems to be out of the question, although necessary not only for cleanliness, but saving of time. It not unfrequently happens, that a woman on returning home from work is obliged to go to bed for an hour or two, to allow her clothes to be dried. It is also by no means uncommon for her, if she should not do this, to put them on again next morning nearly as wet as when she took them off.
Now, what kind of home customers do hon. Gentlemen opposite think these people are to the manufacturers? This is the population, who, according to those hon. Gentlemen, are our best customers. I should be glad for a moment to call the attention of the right hon. the Home Secretary, to the present working of the New Poor Law in Wilts. I have observed in a Wiltshire paper a statement which I will read to the House:—
In Potterne, an extensive parish on the south-west side of Devizes, in which reside two country Gentlemen, who are magistrates, considerable landowners, and staunch advocates of the Corn Laws, besides other Gentle-
men of station and of wealth, this plan of billetting the labourers has been adopted; and the following are the prices which are put on those poor fellows who cannot get work at the average rate of 7s. a-week, and of whom, we understand, there are, or lately were, about forty:—Able.bodied single men, 2s. 6d. a-week; ditto married men, 4s.; ditto with two or three children, 5s.; ditto with large families, 6s. a-week: At these rates, then—fixed with reference to the number of mouths to be fed, and not according to the ability of the parties as workmen, the object clearly being to reduce the poor's rate—may any person in the parish, or out of it either, we presume, command the services of any of these forty unfortunates. We say command, for these independent labourers, 'bold peasantry, their country's pride,' have no voice in the matter; they have not even the option of going into the Union-house while any one can be found willing to use up their sinews and their bones at this starvation price.
I have seen this in the Independent Wiltshire newspaper, and have taken it down, and had the names of the parties sent to me corroborating it. And is not this, I will ask, quite inconsistent with what is the understood principle of the Poor Law? Here is a sliding tariff of wages beginning at 2s. 6d., and ending at 6s., the men who are the victims of the system having no more voice in the matter than the negro slaves of Louisiana? Now, I put it to you who are the supporters of the Corn Law—can you, in the face of facts like these, persist in upholding such a system? I would not, were I in your position, be a party to such a course—no, nothing on earth should bribe me to it—with such evidence at your doors of the mischiefs you are inflicting. I have alluded to the condition of the people in four of the southern counties of England—in Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, and Devonshire; and what I have stated in regard to those places would apply, I fear, to all the purely rural counties in the kingdom, unless you go northward, where the demand for labour in the manufacturing districts raises the rate of wages on the land in the neighbourhood. The hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln says no; and I will concede to the hon. and gallant Member, for I have no wish to excite his temper by contradicting him, that it is not so in Lincolnshire, I admit there is an exception to the general rule in regard to that county—there, I believe both the labourers and farmers are in a much better condition than in the south. But I am referring to the condition of the
agricultural population generally. And when we look at the orderly conduct of that population, at the patience exhibited by them under their own sufferings and privations—fortified, as it were, by endurance so much, that we scarcely bear a complaint from them, I am sure such a population will meet with the sympathies of this House, and that the noble Lord, the Member for Dorset (Lord Ashley), whom I see opposite, and whose humane interference on behalf of the factory labourers is the theme of admiration, will extend to the agricultural population that sympathy which has been so beneficial in ameliorating the condition of a large portion of the labouring people. But where are the Scotch county Members, that they have nothing to say? In that country there is an agricultural population, that as far as their conduct is concerned, would do honour to any country. Yet I find the following description of the diet of these labourers in a Scotch paper:—
In East Lothian the bread used by hinds and other agricultural labourers is a mixture of barley, peas, and beans, ground into meal; and you will understand its appearance when we inform you that it is very like the rape and oil cakes used for feeding cattle and manuring the fields; and it is very indigestible coarse food.
And I have received from a trustworthy person a letter, giving me the subjoined account of the peasantry of the county of Forfar:—
In this county (Forfarshire), the mode of engaging farm-servants is from Whitsunday to Whitsunday; in some cases the period of engagement is only for half a year. The present average rate of wages is 11l. per annum, or a fraction more than 4s. per week, with the addition of two pecks or 16lbs. of oatmeal, and seven Scotch pints of milk weekly. The amount of wages may be stated thus:—
|Oatmeal, two pecks at 10d.||1 8|
|Seven pints of milk at 2d.||1 2|
|Total weekly wages||6 10|
§ That is the current weekly wages of an ablebodied agricultural labourer. An old man—that is, a man a little beyond the prime of life—if employed at all, his wages are considerably lower. The universal food of the agricultural labourers in Forfarshire is what is locally called 'brose;' which is merely a mixture of oatmeal and boiling water; the meal is not boiled, only the boiling water poured on it. There is no variation in this mode of living; butcher's meat, wheaten bread, sugar, tea, or coffee, they never taste. The outhouses they 888 live in are called 'bothies,' and more wretched hovels than these bothies are not to be found among the wigwams of the uncivilized Africans."
It really would appear, from the slight notice taken here of the state of suffering in the rural districts, that the County Members were sent up to this House to conceal rather than to disclose the condition of the people they left behind them. Then there is the case of Wales. There can be no excuse for ignorance as to the state of the Welsh people, for during the time of the recent disturbances we had the account given by the Times reporter, corroborated by persons living in the locality, shewing clearly what was the condition of both the farmer and the labourer in that country. In one of those accounts it was stated:—
The main cause, however, of the disturbances is beyond question the abject poverty of the people. The small farmer here breakfasts on oatmeal and water boiled, called 'duffery' or 'flummery,' or on a few mashed potatoes left from the previous night's supper. He dines on potatoes and butter-milk, with sometimes a little white Welsh cheese and barley bread, and as an occasional treat, has a salt herring. Fresh meat is never seen on the farmer's table. He sups on mashed potatoes. His butter he never tastes; he sells it to pay his rent. The pigs he feeds are sold to pay his rent. As for beef or mutton, they are quite out of the question—they never form the farmer's food.
Then as to the labourer:—
The condition of the labourer from inability in the farmer to give him constant employment, is deplorable. They live entirely on potatoes, and have seldom enough of them, having only one meal a day. Being half starved, they are constantly upon the parish. They live in mud cottages, with only one room for sleeping, cooking, and living—different ages and sexes herding together. Their cottages have no windows, but a hole through the mud wall to admit the air and light, into which a bundle of rags or turf is thrust at night to stop it up. The thinly-thatched roofs are seldom drop-dry, and the mud floor becomes consequently damp and wet, and dirty almost as the road; and, to complete the wretched picture, huddled in a corner are the rags and straw of which their beds are composed.
I have now glanced at the condition of the agricultural population in England, Scotland, and Wales. You have too recently heard the tales of its suffering to require that I should go across the Channel to the Sister island with its two millions and a half of paupers; yet bear in
mind, for we are apt to forget it, in that country there is a duty this day of 18s. a quarter upon the import of foreign wheat. Will it be believed in future ages, that in a country periodically on the point of actual famine—at a time when its inhabitants subsisted on the lowest food, the very roots of the earth—there was a law in existence which virtually prohibited the importation of bread! I have given you some idea of the ordinary condition of the agricultural labourers when at home: I have alluded to their forced migration from the agricultural districts to the towns; and I will now quote from the report of the London Fever Hospital, a description of the state in which they reach the metropolis:—
Doctor Southwood Smith has just given his annual report upon the state of the London Fever Hospital during the past year, from which it appears that the admissions during the period were 1462, being an excess of 418 above that of any preceding year. A large proportion of the inmates were agricultural labourers or provincial mechanics, who had come to London in search of employment, and who were seized with the malady either on the road or soon after their arrival, evincing the close connexion between fever and destitution. These poor creatures ascribed their illness, some of them to the sleeping by the sides of hedges, and others to a want of clothing, many of them being without stockings, shirts, shoes, or any apparel capable of defending them from the inclemency of the weather; while the larger number attributed it to want of food, being driven by hunger to eat raw vegetables, turnips and rotten apples. Their disease was attended with such extreme prostration as generally to require the administration of an unusually large proportion of wine, brandy, and ammonia and other stimulants. The gross mortality was 15½ per cent. An unprecedented number of nurses and other servants of the hospital were attacked with fever, namely twenty-nine, of whom six died.
I have another account from the Marlborough-street police report, bearing upon the same point which is as follows:—
Marlborough-street.—The Mendicity Society constables and the police have brought a considerable number of beggars to this court recently. The majority of these persons are country labourers, and their excuse for vagrancy has been of the same character—inability to get work from the farmers, and impossibility of supporting themselves and families on the wages offered them when employment is to be had. It is impossible to describe the wretched appearance of these men, most of whom are able-bodied labourers, capable of performing a hard day's work, and, according to their own
statements, willing to do so, provided they could get anything to do. A great many of these vagrant agricultural labourers have neither stockings nor shoes on their feet, and their ragged and famished appearance exceeds in wretchedness that of the Irish peasantry who find their way to this metropolis. The magistrates, in almost every instance, found themselves obliged to send these destitute persons to prison for a short period, as the only means of temporarily rescuing them from starvation. Several individuals belonging to this class of beggars were yesterday committed.
You have here the condition of the agricultural labourers when they fly to the towns. You have already heard what was their condition in the country, and now I appeal to honourable Members opposite, whether theirs is a case with which to come before the country to justify the maintenance of the Corn Laws? Why, you are nonsuited, and put out of court; you have not a word to say. If you could shew in the agricultural labourers a blooming and healthy population, well cloathed and well fed, and living in houses fit for men to live in—if this could be shewn as the effects of the Corn Laws, there might be some ground for appealing to the feelings of the House to permit an injustice to continue while they knew that they were benefiting a large portion of their fellow countrymen. But when we know, and can prove from the facts before us, that the greatest scarcity of food is to be found in the midst of the agricultural population, and that protection does not, as its advocates allege, benefit the farmer or the labourer, you have not a solitary pretext remaining, and I recommend you at once to give up the system which you can no longer stand before the country and maintain. The facts I have stated are capable of corroboration. Before a Select Committee we can obtain as much evidence as we want to shew the state of the agricultural population. We may get that evidence in less time and more satisfactorily before a Select Committee than through a Commission. Though I by no means wish to undervalue inquiries conducted by Commissions, which in many cases are very useful, I am of opinion that an inquiry such as I propose, would be carried on with more satisfaction and with less loss of time by a Select Committee than by a Commission. There is no tribunal so fair as a Select Committee; Members of both sides are upon it, witnesses are examined and cross-examined, doubts
and difficulties are removed, and the real facts are arrived at. Besides the facts I have stated, if you appoint a Committee, the landlords may obtain evidence which will go far to help them out of their own difficulty—viz., the means of giving employment to the people. The great want is employment, and if it is not found, where do you suppose will present evils end, when you consider the rapid way in which the population is increasing? You may in a Committee receive valuable suggestions from practical agriculturists—suggestions which may assist you in devising means for providing employment. There may be men examined more capable of giving an opinion, and more competent to help you out of this dilemma, than any you could have had some years ago. You may now have the evidence of men who have given their attention as to what can be done with the soil. Drain tiles are beginning to shew themselves on the surface of the land in many counties. Why should they not always be placed under the surface, and why should not such improvements give employment to the labourers? You do not want Acts of Parliament to protect the farmer—you want improvements, outlays, bargains, leases, fresh terms. A farmer before my Committee will tell you that you may employ more labourers by breaking up land which has lain for hundreds of years in grass, or rather in moss, to please some eccentric landowner, who prefers a piece of green turf to seeing the plough turning up its furrows. This coxcombry of some landlords would disappear before the good sense of the Earl of Ducie. You may derive advantage from examining men who look upon land as we manufacturers do upon the raw material of the fabrics which we make—who will not look upon it with that superstitious veneration and that abhorence of change with which landlords have been taught to regard their acres, but as something on which to give employment to the people, and which by the application to it of increased intelligence, energy, and capital, may produce increased returns of wealth. But we shall have another advantage from my Committee. Recollect that hitherto you have never heard the two sides of the question in the Committees which have sat to inquire into agricultural subjects; and I press this fact on the notice of the right hon. Baronet opposite as a strong appeal to him. I have looked back upon the
evidence taken before these Committees, and I find that in none of them were both sides of the question fairly stated. All the witnesses examined were protectionists—all the members of all the Committees were protectionists. We have never yet heard an enlightened agriculturist plead the opposite side of the question. It is upon these grounds that I press this Motion upon hon. Gentlemen opposite. I want to have further evidence. I do not want a man to be examined who is not a farmer or landowner. I would respectfully ask the Earl of Ducie and Earl Spencer to be examined first. And then hon. Gentlemen could send for the Dukes of Buckingham and Richmond. I should like nothing better than that—nothing better than to submit these four noblemen to a cross-examination. I would take your two witnesses and you would take mine, and the country should decide between us. Nothing would so much tend to diffuse sound views as such an examination. But you have even Members on your own side who will help me to make out my case. There is the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Pusey); he knows of what land is capable—he knows what land wants, and he knows well that in the districts where the most unskilful farming prevails, there does pauperism exist to the greatest extent. What does he say to you? Why, he advises that—
More drains may be cut, more chalk be laid on the downs, the wolds, and the clays; marl on the sand, clay on the fens and heaths, lime on the moors, many of which should be broken up; that old ploughs be cast away, the number of horses reduced, good breeds of cattle extended, stock fattened where it has hitherto been starved, root crops drilled and better dunged; new kinds of those crops cultivated, and artificial manures of ascertained usefulness purchased.
Why, it appears from the testimony of our own side, that you are doing nothing right. There is nothing about your agriculture which does not want improving. Suppose that you could shew that we are wrong in all our manufacturing processes—suppose a theorist could come to my business, which is manufacturing garments, and which I take it, is almost as necessary, and why not as honourable, in a civilized country, and with a climate like ours, as manufacturing food; suppose, I say, a theoretical chemist, book in hand, should come to me and say, "You must bring indigo from India, madder from France,
gum from Africa, and cotton from America, and you must compound and work them scientifically so as to make gown pieces, to be sold for 3s. each garment." Why, my answer would be, "We do it already." We require no theorist to tell us how to perform our labour. If we could not do this, how could we carry on the competition which we do with other nations? But you are condemned by your own witnesses; you have the materials for the amelioration of your soils at your own doors: you have the chalk and clay, and marl and sand, which ought to he intermingled, and yet you must have people writing books to tell you how to do it. We may make a great advance if we get this Committee; you may have the majority of its Members protectionists if you will. I am quite willing that such should be the arrangement. I know it is understood—at least, there is a sort of etiquette—that the Mover for a Committee should, in the event of its being granted, preside over it as Chairman: I waive all pretensions of the sort—I give up all claims—I only ask to be present as an individual Member. What objections there can be to the Committee I cannot understand. Are you afraid that to grant it will increase agitation? I ask the hon. Baronet, the Member for Essex (Sir J. Tyrell), whether he thinks the agitation is going down in his part of the country? I rather think there is a good deal of agitation going on there now. Do you really think that the appointment of a dozen Gentlemen to sit in a quiet room up stairs, and hear evidence, will add to the excitement out of doors? Why, by granting my Committee you will be withdrawing me from the agitation for one. But I tell you that you will raise excitement still higher than it is if you allow me to go down to your constituents—your vote against the Committee in my hand—and allow me to say to them, "I only asked for inquiry; I offered the landlords a majority of their own party; I offered them to go into Committee, not as a Chairman, but as an individual Member; I offered them all possible advantages, and yet they would not, they dared not grant a Committee of inquiry into your condition." I repeat to you I desire no advantages. Let us have the Committee. Let us set to work attempting to elicit sound information, and to benefit our common country. I believe that much good may be done by adopt-
ing the course which I propose. I tell you that your boasted system is not protection, but destruction to agriculture. Let us see if we cannot conteract some of the foolishness—I will not call it by a harsher name—of the doings of those who, under the pretence of protecting native industry, are inviting the farmer not to depend upon his own energy and skill, and capital, but to come here and look for the protection of an Act of Parliament. Let us have a Committee, and see if we cannot elicit facts which may counteract the folly of those who are persuading the farmer to prefer acts of Parliament to draining and subsoiling, and to be looking to the laws of this House when he should be studying the laws of nature. I cannot imagine anything more demoralising—yes, that is the word—more demoralising than for you to tell the farmers that they cannot compete with foreigners. You bring long rows of figures, of delusive accounts, shewing that the cultivation of an acre of wheat costs 6l. or 8l. per year. You put every impediment in the way of the farmers trying to do what they ought to do. And can you think that this is the way to make people succeed? How should we manufacturers get on, if, when we got a pattern as a specimen of the productions of the rival manufacturer, we brought all our people together and said, "It is quite clear that we cannot compete with this foreigner; it is quite useless our attempting to compete with Germany or America; why we cannot produce goods at the price at which they do." But how do we act in reality? We call our men together, and say "So-and-so is producing goods at such a price; but we are Englishmen, and what America or Germany can do, we can do also." I repeat, that the opposite system, which you go upon, is demoralising the farmers. Nor have you any right to call out, with the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire—you have no right to go down occasionally to your constituencies and tell the farmers, "You must not plod on as your grandfathers did before you; you must not put your hands behind your backs, and drag one foot after the other in the old fashioned style of going to work." I say you have no right to hold such language to the farmer. Who makes them plod on like their grandfathers? Who makes them put their hands behind their backs? Why, the men who go to Lanca-
shire and talk of the danger of pouring in of foreign corn from a certain province in Russia, which shall be nameless—the men who tell the farmers to look to this House for protective Acts instead of their own energies—instead of to those capabilities which, were they properly brought out, would make the English farmer equal to—perhaps superior to—ally in the world. Because I believe that the existing system is worse for the farmer than for the manufacturer—because I believe that great good to both would result from an inquiry—because I believe that the present system robs the earth of its fertility, and the labourer of his hire, deprives the people of subsistence, and the farmer of feelings of honest independence, I hope, Sir, that the House will accede to my Motion for
A Select Committee to inquire into the effects of protective duties on imports upon the interests of the tenant-farmers and farm-labourers of this country.
congratulated the hon. Gentleman on the tone and temper of the speech which he had just made. The hon. Gentleman had introduced, with an apology creditable to his feelings, an indignant mention of a certain case, with the particulars of which he was not entirely unacquainted, in Dorsetshire; and in which he stated that a number of human beings were living together in a wretched hovel, under circumstances the most degrading to them, and the most discreditable to those who were placed over them. He was quite certain that the hon. Gentleman might reckon on finding those feelings of sorrow and indignation with which he contemplated such cases in the rural districts—he might reckon on finding abundant sympathy with that sorrow and indignation on both sides of the House. He apprehended that one of the most important practical considerations connected with the maintenance of the agricultural system, was the conviction that among the rural population kindly ties did prevail, and did connect different ranks together, and that upon the part of those who did own laud a sense of personal responsibility existed for the condition of those living under them. And when the hon. Gentleman pointed out such cases as that he had referred to, he did feel that he was cutting the ground from under their feet; and if it could be shown that that exceptional case which the hon. Gentleman had stated 896 was to be viewed as an example of the generally existing state of things in the rural districts—if it could be shown that the owners of land and the owners of houses were indifferent to the comforts of those who occupied their property, then he granted to the hon. Gentleman that he had succeeded in removing one of the most powerful impediments to our following in the course which he recommended. Now, as to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, and as to the speech by which he introduced it, he must confess that he did not think that the latter quite corresponded with the former. The Motion was for "a Select Committee to inquire into the effects of Protective Duties on Imports upon the interests of the tenant-farmers and the farm-labourers of this country?" But, as he followed the speech of the hon. Gentleman, it appeared to him very difficult to discover what really should he the object and scope of the inquiries of such a Select Committee as the hon. Gentleman proposed to constitute. In different parts of his speech, the hon. Member indicated many subjects for inquiry separate and distinct from each other. Some of these seemed to be capable of reference to a Select Committee, there were others which could not advantageously be so referred, but certainly the result would be most unfortunate were a Committee to entertain both classes of subjects in connection. The hon. Gentleman bestowed a large part of his speech upon the description of the rural population in particular districts, but he did think that the hon. Gentleman had imparted some degree of exaggeration to that portion of his address. The hon. Gentleman said—after describing some particular spots and parishes—that he had now given the House an account of the condition of such and such a county; now he thought that this was by no means a fair way of proceeding, nor was the hon. Gentleman's subsequent plan of argument more so; for, after having extended his account from the narrow basis of parishes and particular spots to four counties—he;lade the still more unreasonable statement, that these four counties represented, with the exception of Lincolnshire—in coming to which the hon. Member seemed to anticipate the hon. Member for Lincoln—the condition of the whole of the purely rural districts of England. It might be true that, not only in these four 897 counties, but in other agricultural districts, a low rate of wages—much lower than he would wish to see—prevailed; and if the hon. Member had confined himself to a demand for a Committee to inquire into the state of the Agricultural Population, such a proposition would have been a very different one from that before the House. But the hon. Member had combined in his Motion, with an examination of the state of the labouring population, a number of difficult questions of political economy, and a number of other difficult questions, with which strong party feeling was much mixed up. Could, then, the hon. Member think—knowing by what sentiments the minds of men on both sides were governed—could he think that he would obtain a calm and dispassionate inquiry into the circumstances of the agricultural labouring population, by combining with that inquiry a reference to the irritating and exciting topics which belonged to the general subject of protection. If the hon. Gentleman could prevail upon the House to grant him that Committee—whatever might be its result, with respect to the doctrines of political economy which the hon. Gentleman wished to establish, the hon. Gentleman would find, that instead of having taking the best mode of laying the grounds for the application of a remedy to agricultural distress—that he had sacrificed all hopes of advantage by the unfortunate combination of his object with questions of political economy. In another part of his speech the hon. Gentleman had spoken on the subject of agricultural improvement, and had quoted some advice of the hon. Member for Berkshire, with reference to the subject, which did that hon. Gentleman the greatest honour. Now, as to improvement, no doubt the hon. Gentleman had the means of drawing comparisons favourable in this respect to the manufacturing interest. Where they had capital in large masses, as in manufactures, they had facilities for the introduction of improvements which they did not possess, when the capital to be exdenped, as in farming, was more broken into small portions. But how could the hon. Gentleman think that a Committee like that which he proposed to institute would lead to agricultural improvement? It was one of those subjects which, like the condition of the labouring, population, might be appreciated by a Committee of Gentlemen earnest in their 898 inquiries, but which must be investigated with an entire freedom from passion and prejudice. But what would be the effect of an inquiry into the condition of the agricultural population, and mixing up with that inquiry the question of the Corn Laws? Why the effect would be that many Gentlemen favourable to the existing Corn Law would be placed in a false position of hostility to agricultural improvement, and instead of promoting it the Committee would be more likely to retard its course. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the first proposition which he meant to prove in his Committee was, that this house had no power to regulate and control the prices of agricultural produce. The hon. Gentleman further stated, that there was a belief in 1815, that the price of corn to be guaranteed was 86s. per quarter; that in 1828 the rate had been reduced to 64s.; and that his right hon. Friend near him had stated that the effect of the present Corn Law would be to keep corn at about 56s. per quarter. Now, he must say, that no such statement as the last was made by his right hon. Friend, and such an impression, if it existed in the country, could only exist in the minds of those who were willing to delude themselves. But no hon. Gentleman, he took it, would maintain that the House had the power of keeping up prices, or if any hon. Gentleman, or any party of hon. Gentlemen, held that it was in the power of this House to secure by law a fixed price for corn, then the question would be open, whether the arguments against such hon. Gentlemen could be best brought forward in a Select Committee or in debate. He had certainly heard hon. Gentlemen say, that they would do all they could, by means of legislative enactments, to secure certain prices—that they would secure, so far as they could, a guarantee for certain prices, by excluding foreign corn in certain states of the home markets, and he concluded that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport did not deny, that they could effect this, inasmuch as he admitted the enhancing influences in prices of the Corn Laws. But as to the proposition, that Parliament had the power to fix prices—before the hon. Gentleman could show reasonable cause to institute a Committee, in order to overthrow that opinion, he ought to show that there were actually persons who held it. The hon. Gentleman went through 899 many other matters which he stated that he intended to investigate if he obtained his Committee: but if that Committee was for any one purpose, it was for the large purpose of converting the House to the politico-economical views which the hon. Gentleman entertained. The hon. Member went round the entire circle of these doctrines. He spoke of the Corn Laws, of the Tariff, of the Wool Duties, and said many things connected with them which he believed to be very true. With respect to the Tariff, the hon. Gentleman stated what he (Mr. Gladstone) confessed he believed to be substantially true. He stated—although would to God it were not so!—he stated that the great reduction which took place in the price of cattle was to be ascribed, not to the importation of foreign cattle under the Tariff, but to the impoverishment of the home consumer. Now, although this might be the case, yet still he thought, that with respect to what was retrospective, they did not require the Committee, and with respect to what was prospective, by mixing up the questions of Corn Laws and protective duties with the question of agricultural improvement, they would be pursuing a most unwise and useless course. But the hon. Member had addressed himself to the question of the proportion in which rent entered into the price of agricultural produce, and he quoted the case of an intelligent agriculturist, who had stated that, in a farm which he occupied, the total expenses of the farm amounted to 790l. while the total amount of rent paid was 800l, ["No, no."] Well, he was not now prepared to deny the accuracy of the hon. Gentleman or of his informer, but he put it to the hon. Gentleman whether he himself believed that that relation of something more than mere equality between expenses and rent, in the case he had quoted was a fair example of the general state of things in this respect? He would put it to the hon. Gentleman whether he believed that that case fairly represented the proportion between expenses and rent generally existing throughout the country? If he did so believe it, he suspected that he was singular in that belief, and he doubted whether he would find that his informant would coincide with him in this respect. On the other hand, if the hon. Gentleman did not believe his case to be a fair example of the general proportion between rent and expenses, why did he adduce it 900 to the House? But the hon. Gentleman had afterwards modified his arguments, and placed the rent at one-half of the price of the whole produce. But he thought that the hon. Gentleman before be came to this conclusion, must have deducted the whole maintenance of the farmer and his family. He did not allow that to enter into his calculation of the produce. He deducted also the maintenance of persons upon the farm, but if he did so, how could he conceive that he could take such a statement as that which he laid before the House in reference to a farm in Haddingtonshire as a fair representation of the relation between rents and expense? The hon. Gentleman gave it as his emphatic opinion that that on which the whole question depended was, the amount of comforts and commodities which constituted the fund out of which labour was to be paid. But there was another element besides that of the amount to be considered, and that was the distribution. It appeared to him that there was a great error in the school to which the hon. Gentleman belonged—that they were not apt to allow for the influence which habit exercised upon men—that the hon. Member, and those who thought with him, contemplated the transfer of labourers from place to place—from that place where they were born, and their fathers before them—reckoning merely the economical advantages of such a transfer, without allowing anything for the disruption of old ties and associations. [Mr. Cobden; "Employ the labourers at home."] He admitted that when the hon. Member spoke of agricultural improvement, he did express a desire to employ the labourers at home, but when he spoke of the protective system, and of the equalizing tendency of labour, he thought that the hon. Gentleman did omit the most important consideration of the serious mischief which would attend such a violent transaction, As far as his speech went upon protection, the hon. Gentleman appeared to him to argue that question upon mere abstract principles, and not to adapt his arguments to the condition of a country where a protective system had long existed. Nothing could be more distinct than the inquiries: whether, if they had a new community to found, and a new commercial code to establish, they should introduce a protective system, and give encouragement to some one occupation, probably at the expense of another, and 901 whether it would be proper for them, as a legislative body, composed of practical men, to adopt, in a country where they found a system of protection established, a sudden disruption of the relations between great masses of the people which had grown up under that system. As to the condition of the labouring agricultural classes, he thought that the hon. Gentleman had not shown that the depressed condition of that population was fairly ascribable to the Corn Laws. As to the prices of corn, the hon. Gentleman had adopted a tone in this House of which, although he was not prepared to say that it was at variance with the tone adopted by the hon. Gentleman elsewhere, yet he did say that it fixed the standard of reduction in prices which he expected would follow free-trade, on a very moderate scale indeed. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the standard of prices for twelve years gave an average of about 56s. 7d. per quarter. And then he referred to Jersey and the Channel Islands, as showing, on a small scale, what would proably be the working of a free-trade in corn. It appeared, then, from the hon. Gentleman's statement, that during the corresponding twelve years the prices of corn in the Channel Islands showed an average of 48s. He also stated that it was but fair to anticipate that the continental price of corn would be raised by the opening of English ports, and therefore he concluded, that the prices under a free-trade in corn would be from 50s. to 51s. per quarter. He believed, that this avowal would carry considerable weight in certain quarters; but it was rather against those portions of the hon. Gentleman's argument where he spoke of the artificial scarcity, and of the urgent necessity for providing some great improvement in the condition of the capability of the poorer classes to purchase food. But perhaps the hon. Gentleman would maintain, that the charge upon importation not only enhanced prices, but produced irregularity of supply. Many persons however contended, that the Corn Laws had not produced irregularity of supply; and if he wished to do justice to all parties, he would acknowledge, that the parties who had passed the Corn Laws in 1815—the Earls of Liverpool and Ripon—did so under the sincere belief, that they were thereby doing their best to secure to the people the most steady and abundant sup- 902 ply. But there were many of the facts which the hon. Gentleman proposed to prove in his Committee, of which there was no need of a Committee to prove. As to the amount of freight from foreign ports, they were almost bewildered with the facts which they had already collected with reference to that subject. He believed, that the assumed protection on the ground of the cost of freight was sometimes underrated and sometimes overrated, but the facts were already thoroughly examined, and the hon. Gentleman could not go a step further in sifting them if his Select Committee were to sit from the present time to a dissolution. It would be most unwise, then, to appoint a Select Committee for such a purpose. There were many other matters which must come before the Committee—matters, he admitted, less perceptible in the Motion, than die speech of the hon. Gentleman. But let them look at one proposition mooted on the Motion itself. The hon. Gentleman was prepared to show, that protection laws were useless or positively injurious to farmers or farm labourers. Well, many hon. Gentlemen were prepared to argue the very contrary. He had himself heard the hon. Member for Wiltshire argue with great ingenuity and a good deal of truth, that one of the most inconvenient results in effecting any change of the law, was the sudden and violent change as regarded the farmers. The hon. Member for Wiltshire reasoned thus: "The landlord must live; and if he cannot get a fair rent for his land, be will endeavour to effect that object by taking it out of the pockets of the farmer." In point of fact he said, "If you press upon the landlord, you will force him either to farm his own land, or to adopt cheaper merles of cultivation." And he confessed it was no absurd or improbable supposition, diet if there was any great pressure on the landlords as a class, they might extend their efforts to new modes of managing or cultivating land. He did not mean new modes of carrying on the process of cultivation; but he meant that other persons, of a different class a description, would settle upon farms, which being no longer dwelt upon by men of limited capital, a system of wholesale management would be introduced, with a view to more economical production. And it was quite possible, that such products might be raised at a cheaper rate 903 when the cultivation of the land was taken out of the hands of the farmer, who held a middle place between the landlord and the labourer. But he did not think, that because such results might he favourable in a general or abstract point of view, it was, therefore, wise to change the present law, and cause a violent revolution in the condition of the farmers. Of course it must follow, on his supposition, that many farmers would be superseded, not having capital enough to carry on the cultivation of their farms under the new system, and, after suffering the greatest inconvenience themselves, must aggravate the evil in the case of others, for whose farms, situated in other places, they would become competitors. Well, again, if one looked to the case of the labourer, there were many who were seriously of opinion that the danger of causing a great and sudden displacement of rural labour was the best and most valid argument against a change in the Corn Laws. No doubt there was great force in it. The hon. Gentleman might think that danger chimerical. In his speech he introduced the allegation that the Corn Laws were opposed to the interests of the landlords, as well as of the farmers and the labourers. In his Motion he separated the landlords from the other two classes, and he left it open to the invidious construction that the landlords were pursuing a course with reference to their own interest alone, and exhibited an inhuman and brutal disregard of the interests of those under them. But was it not perfectly possible that the landlords should be not the most interested but the least interested in the maintenance of the Corn Laws? Did not the hon. Gentleman himself tell us that, in the grazing farms of Northamptonshire, a larger share went to the pockets of the landlords than on land cultivated in corn? No doubt, the hon. Gentleman's speculation, in alluding to this point, was, although there might be a decrease in the growth of corn, yet the increase would be so great in the consuming power of those engaged in manufactures—there would be such an augmentation in the demand for meat and other articles, as must compensate for the detriment arising from the abolition of the Corn Laws, and in that way would be replaced any immediate diminution in the amount of rents. That might or might not be a good argument in the case of 904 landlords. It might be a fair and reasonable thing for the hon. Gentleman to undertake to show that assuming a much larger demand for meat and other articles of agricultural produce, the landlords might on the whole be able to keep up their rents. But how did that argument apply to the labourer? The hon. Gentleman had himself supplied them with information which made the result patent to the most cursory observer. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that little labour was employed on the grazing lands which he instanced, and he glanced at the possibility of such a state of things arising on the repeal of the Corn Laws, as that the landlords might he able to maintain their rents by a different application of the soil. But it must be recollected that a large proportion of agricultural labourers were habituated from youth to employment on the land, and on its continuance they were now wholly dependent; and it was to this he adverted when he ventured to say the hon. Gentleman had not, he thought considered sufficiently the effects of any great and sudden change in the law affecting corn; because the hon. Gentleman must know, that however prosperous the owner of land might ultimately be from the increase in the amount of manufactures, the labourer would be cut off from all hope, deprived of the occupation which supplied his bread; and though others might profit by the change, to him it would be utter ruin. There was one very emphatic passage in the speech of the hon. Gentleman, in which, having referred to a picture of the state of the rural population, he summed up the particulars by asking, "who can be acquainted with these things, and stand up for the Corn Laws?" But the hon. Gentleman forgot to prove that there was any connection between the two. The real question was, not whether the distress existed, but whether the Corn Law was the cause of it. He must confess that part of the hon. Gentleman's argument seemed to him to resemble the precipitate views of some who, seeing in the manufacturing districts some flourishing and having abundance of wages, and others on the other hand living on extremely low wages, and being in great distress, said, like the hon. Gentleman, "can you admit these facts and stand up for manufactures?" The hon. Gentleman would argue that machinery had nothing to do with the distress, just as others 905 were ready to argue the Corn Laws had nothing to do with it in the agricultural districts. They were not then debating the question of the Corn Laws; but the hon. Gentleman was bound to recollect that there were those who maintained, not only that the Corn Laws were not the cause of distress, but that they greatly tended to limit it in the agricultural districts; and he ought not, therefore, to assume without proof, a connection on which the whole argument must depend. Now, as to the assumption that protective laws were opposed to the interests of the tenants and farmer labourers. No doubt these were curious questions of investigation, but surely they were difficult questions of political economy. They could not be investigated on a statement of facts. They were as pure propositions in political economy as any other in Adam Smith, M'Culloch, and Ricardo. The questions how the interests of different classes were affected by protective laws—in what proportion the benefits accrued to each—what were the different modes and channels through which each received its share—were most important, interesting, and difficult questions; but he contended they were not questions on which they with advantage could put men into the witness box and question them as to facts. If there was any ground for the distinction between questions of fact and of opinion, these were questions of opinion, and not of fact. Instead of being fit for the consideration of a Select Committee, they were the very last that should be referred to such a tribunal. And he must say, from the long argument into which the hon. Gentleman entered, it was clear he did not really contemplate a Committee as the best mode of arriving at a practical result; for making a speech in introducing his views, which he discussed with great ability, he had an opportunity of setting forth the impartiality and fairness of the tribunal to which he meant to refer for adjudication, of declaring that he was disposed to be liberal in its composition, and that it should reflect fairly the opinions that prevailed in the House; but it was evident, from the line the hon. Member adopted, that the advantage he anticipated was the consideration of abstract and difficult questions, such as the doctrine of rent. [Mr. Hawes: "Mr. Cobden did not say so."] He was not about to oppose the Motion on this dry ground alone, for there 906 were many others on which he should object to it; but he defied the Committee to investigate the effect of "protective duties on imports," without a full consideration of the different theories referring to the doctrine of rent. The whole question turned on this; what proportion went to the landlord, and what was retained by the farmers. On account, then, of the complicated and unsuitable nature of the subjects which must he investigated, he was opposed to the Motion for a Committee. ["Laughter!"] The hon. Gentlemen opposite could not surely be surprised at his coming to such a conclusion. He asked the hon. Member for Stockport himself whether he did not see good reasons against a Select Committee. What was a Select Committee? It was a body to which, during its sitting, the House might be supposed—he did not mean by any formal compact—to delegate its authority. It was instituted, they all knew, generally to prepare materials to assist the House in forming its judgment on any important question, but one of the most important practical results of the institution of a Committee was, that for the time it put the authority of the House in abeyance on the subject under examination. Was the hon. Gentleman prepared to accede to those terms? Did he mean to exclude the consideration of the Corn Laws while the Committee sat? [Mr. Bright had no objection.] Let the House observe the materials on which this Committee would have to work. First, they were to examine the subject of freights; next the power of Parliament to regulate the price of Corn; then the doctrine of rent; then the condition of the agricultural labourer; and then the whole subject of the agricultural improvement, including all those multiform regulations in which his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Posey) took so warm an interest. If thirty days were too little for a man acquainted with a county to investigate the condition of the labourers in it, he should like to know how long fifteen Gentlemen advocating fifteen different opinions, would take in examining through a Committee box the condition of the agricultural population in all the districts of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It was clear that the hon. Gentleman had better adjourn—he would say sine die—the sittings of the Anti-Corn-Law League, if he were prepared to accede to the terms 907 which the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright) would agree to. That hon. Gentleman had no objection to exclude the whole matter from discussion. [Mr. Bright: "In this House."] If the hon. Member were prepared, even as far as this House was concerned, to observe an inviolable silence until this Committee should report—this Committee consisting of a majority of agriculturists—mark the unfortunate predicament he would be placed in if the House were to accept his proposition. De would have placed himself in the hands of a majority of protectionists, who would know that he could not moot the subject in this House until they had made their report, and they would have the power by a majority of voices of prolonging the period of making their Report from Session to Session. But seriously; when they were acquainted with the manner in which the examinations and cross-examinations were conducted in Select Committees of this House, and the way in which every hon. Member who cross-examined a witness endeavoured to induce him to contradict what he before said, did the hon. Gentleman think that agricultural improvement of all descriptions, along with the situation of the rural population in every district, and along with other subjects the most difficult in political economy, could be examined into and reported upon by a Committee in the course of the present Session? He was quite convinced, although the hon. Member was disposed just now to make a very handsome offer, that that hon. Gentleman would not be well supported by those with whom he usually acted, that they would not be bound by his pledge, and that although he himself might be precluded from proposing a Motion and speaking upon the subject, yet others would preserve themselves unfettered. He saw behind the hon. Gentleman the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, who, he believed, within the last few weeks had emphatically signified his intention to bring on the annual discussion on the Corn Law. Of course, when he gave that intimation, he must have been cognisant of the intended proceeding, of the hon. Member for Stockport. Was that hon. Gentleman prepared to forego his Motion in case a Select Committee was appointed? [Mr. Villiers: "Certainly not."] Then the House would stultify itself if it appointed a Committee 908 to examine into and report upon a subject which would be discussed in this House at the very time the Committee was engaged in its inquiries. He would not go into detail; for he thought it must be apparent to the common sense of every gentleman who heard him, that to appoint a Committee, and delegate authority and power to it, to examine into a difficult, complicated, and extensive subject, upon which the House meant to vote definitively within the space of a few weeks, and before that Committee could possibly report, must be allowed to be a proceeding that the hon. Gentleman himself did not expect would be seriously entertained; and that in proposing it his object was simply to raise a discussion upon the Corn Law. There were other practical objections to a Committee of this description. The Committee, according to the terms of the hon. Gentleman's Motion, would he perfectly free to inquire, not only into the Protective Duties upon Corn, but into all Protective Duties; and an inquiry into the Duties upon Sugar would, of course, form a prominent feature in their labours. That would be an additional chapter in the labours of the Committee, and would probably occupy them for another Session; and they would, no doubt, institute inquiries into the Protective Duties on various other articles. Now, he must be permitted to express his opinion that if no strong practical reason could be shewn for appointing a Committee of this description, it was a most unfortunate and ill-judged proceeding to adopt such a step; for the measure must have the effect of unsettling the public mind on the subject to which the inquiry related, and of paralysing trade and revenue as far as they were connected with it. They had had some experience on this subject. He would take the case of Sugar, the Duties on which, putting aside their protective character, involved a great revenue—about 5,000,000l.; and the article of Sugar formed a most important element of the home trade, as well in the great central markets of this country, as in the most remote and sequestered districts. He contended that there were great objections to inquiries by Committees of that House with respect to such articles, because such a course was likely to exercise a most paralysing effect both upon revenue and trade. He was far from meaning that these objections were in every case to 909 over-rule the reasons for inquiry. There might be very strong and valid reasons for inquiry; but, if such reasons did nut exist, he conceived that the disadvantages which must necessarily attend inquiry were of great weight, and deserved careful consideration. In the present case his argument was, that they could do nothing by a Select Committee which they could not do better without it. The topics to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, so far as they related to matters of fact, had already been extensively elucidated by returns and discussion; they were in possession of all the means of discussion, and it was wholly useless to appoint a Committee to prepare those means. The hon. Gentleman bad said, "Do you think the appointment of this Committee will add to the agitation on the subject of the Corn Laws?" He thought it would; or at least it would add to what was of touch more importance—to apprehension on the subject. With regard to agitation, this country had the happy peculiarity of being able to bear a larger amount of agitation, without serious consequences, than perhaps any other nation in the world; and he believed that there was a strong impression upon the public mind that the exertions of the Anti-Corn-Law League, with which the hon. Member for Manchester was connected—however active, and able, and indefatigable its Members might be—need not, at all events under existing circumstances, so long as it should please Providence to bless the country with the abundance which it now enjoyed, and so long as the Parliament and the Government were firm in redeeming the pledges—expressed or implied—which they had given, be regarded with any very serious apprehensions, and that the most important feature of the meetings was probably the parade and ceremonial with which they were attended. But, if the house consented to the appointment of this Committee, it would be said that legislation was contemplated; and this brought hint to the question, "Do we contemplate legislation on the subject of the Corn Laws?" Upon this subject he thought he need not do more than refer to the declaration made, he believed on the very first day of the present Session, by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. But if they assented to the appointment of this Committee, he conceived that the very fact that the hon. 910 Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cobden) was the originator of the proposition—a Gentleman whose speeches in that House on the subject of the Corn Laws had been marked by the most unvarying, rigorous and consistent opposition to the Corn Law—would lead parties out of doors to imagine that a proposition for inquiry into the effect of Protective Duties, emanating from such a quarter, was not a general launching, of the question for impartial investigation, but indicated a foregone conclusion; and such a measure must have the effect of unsettling public confidence. It was not of alarming the selfish fears of some men that he was afraid, though even from that, mischief might arise; but he did consider it of the very highest importance that confidence should he maintained with regard to the intentions of the Legislature on the subject of the Corn Laws; first, for the sake of the character of the Legislature itself, which he trusted had not reached such a pitch of levity that, without new cause shown, it would be prepared to reverse solemn decisions to which it had come after mature deliberation; and, secondly, because the important subject of the increase of rural employment through the extension of agricultural enterprise—a question the importance of which, he conceived, could not be exaggerated—was involved in the maintenance of this confidence. What would he the effect upon this increase of employment and extension of enterprise, if the House were to indicate any intention of legislating upon the Corn Laws, and to indicate such intention in a manner which, of all others, would, he believed, be the least acceptable that could be chosen, by placing the question in a state of lingering uncertainty, by submitting the subject to the examination of a Committee, which for a long period at least would be utterly unable to present an adequate report? For the sake, then, of the extension of agricultural employment and improvement, and for the sake of the trade of the country, he strongly deprecated the appointment of this Committee.
§ Mr. Hawes
had heard with unfeigned regret the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and who, he conceived, had made a most unsatisfactory reply to the able speech in which his hon. Friend had introduced his Motion. That hon. Gentleman in proposing the appointment of this Committee, had showed 911 that most severe and extensive misery and distress prevailed throughout the country, and he had called upon the House to institute an inquiry into the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had declared that this distress could not be attributed to the Corn Laws; but he was prepared to maintain that it was distinctly traceable to that source. He must say, notwithstanding the personal respect which he entertained for the right hon. Gentleman, that he considered the greater part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was neither more nor less than the most frivolous trifling. Had no Committees been appointed on former occasions to inquire into agricultural affairs? When the subject of agricultural distress was, at a former period, brought before the House, was any objection taken to the settlement of the question of rent, before an inquiry was instituted as to whether protection ought to be increased? But now, when a decrease of protection was demanded, it was objected that the abstract question of rent stood in the way of inquiry. The hon. Member for Stockport had proposed this Motion on the ground that great moral and physical degradation and destitution prevailed throughout the country, and especially in the agricultural districts. The right hon. Gentlemen opposite objected to the institution of such an inquiry, on the ground that a long period must elapse before the Committee could prepare a report; but was that a sufficient answer? The right hon. Gentleman had said, that the question of price must enter into the discussion of this subject. Why, what said the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) when he introduced the Corn Law? He said, that Acts of Parliament could not regulate prices; but, said the right hon. Baronet, "Under the New Corn Law I fully expect you will have a price of 56s. or 58s." The expectations of the right hon. Baronet, however, had not been realized. He must call the attention of the House and of the farmers of this country to a declaration which had been made by the right hon. President of the Board of Trade in the course of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Grant this Committee, and an expectation will go abroad, that we may legislate on the Corn-laws." And he added, "That while we are blessed with abundant harvests, while Providence enables us to have corn at the same price at which we should obtain it under a system of free-trade, he anticipated there was no reason for legislation." He 912 agreed in the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman, that if they always had abundant harvests—such, for instance, as they had in 1836—they would hear no more about the repeal of the Corn Laws; but did experience justify such an expectation? Had they not recently had four bad harvests; and was a statesman in that House to tell the country, that the maintenance of his law depended only upon the weather—that as long as prices were low he would continue his law, but that when they became high, he would abandon it? Was this a proof of the firmness of Parliament? [Mr. Gladstone: I made no such remark.] He certainly understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, that the existing law was safe while abundant harvests continued. This, he contended, was neither more nor less than a declaration that the legislation of that House upon the important subject of the Corn Laws—affecting rent, on the one hand, and the comforts of the poorest labourers on the other—depended upon the mere accident of weather. The right hon. Gentleman had said, it was surely right that Parliament should abide firmly by the pledges, implied and expressed, which had been given on the subject of the Corn Laws. He had occupied a seat in that House for a considerable time, and certainly, the pledges which were given there were generally rather implied than expressed; but he had heard pledges given which most distinctly implied the maintenance of the old Corn Law; and by no set of men had those implied pledges been more distinctly or definitely given than by the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade. But the people found they could put no faith in those pledges; and, indeed, they ought not to put faith in them. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the introduction of the Corn Law of 1815, and had contended, that the grounds upon which Lord Liverpool introduced that measure were those of maintaining greater abundance and regularity of price. These, however, were not the grounds assigned by Lord Liverpool himself, in a very remarkable speech which he made on the 26th of May, 1820, in a debate relative to the foreign trade of the country, when the noble Earl vindicated the reasons, and explained the grounds on which he introduced and passed that measure. Lord Liverpool said:—I was one of those who, in the year 1815, 913 advocated the Corn Bill. In common with all the supporters of that measure, I believed that it was expedient to grant an additional protection to the agriculturist. I thought that after the peculiar situation of this country during a war of twenty years, enjoying a monopoly in some branches of trade, although excluded from others—after the unlimited extent to which speculation in agriculture had been for many years carried, and considering the low comparative price of agricultural produce in most of the countries of Europe; the landed property of the country would be subjected to very considerable inconvenience and distress if some further legislative protection were not afforded to it. I thought the Corn Bill was advisable, with a view of preventing that convulsion in landed property which a change from such a war to such a peace might otherwise produce. On that ground I supported the Corn Bill. During the discussion of that question I recollect that several persons were desirous of instituting a long previous inquiry; and that others, still more erroneously, wished to wait for two or three years to see how things would turn out before they meddled with the subject. At that time I told those who maintained the latter opinion, that it appeared to me to be a most mistaken one. What I recommended was to pass the Corn Bill (and thus to give a further, and under the circumstances, I thought, a proper protection to agriculture); but I delivered it as my opinion, that if it was not passed then, it ought not to be passed at all; and upon this ground, which, whether it be wise or not, is at least intelligible—that I could conceive a case in which it might be expedient to give a further protection to the agriculturist, but that I was persuaded that the worst course which it was possible for the Legislature to adopt was, to hang the question up in doubt and uncertainty; that the consequence of not legislating at all would he that rents would fall,—that a compromise would take place between the owners and occupiers of land,—that the landlord and the tenant would make a new bargain; and that if, after all the distress incident to such changes had passed away, anew Corn Bill should be agreed to, it would be most unequal and unjust in its operation.Had no new adjustment between landlord and tenant taken place since this period? He had heard the admission from hon. Gentlemen opposite that rents had fallen; and if such a new adjustment had taken place they were bound to give up the Corn Law of Lord Liverpool. The majority which the right hon. Baronet had to support him in his opposition to the repeal of the Corn Laws would not, he thought, prevent that alteration from being ultimately carried into effect. He trusted to the progress of public opinion, led on as it was by the hon. Member for Stockport. It 914 was said, as an objection to the Committee which the hon. Gentleman behind him had moved for, that it would affect the revenue? But had they not had on former occasions Committees of that House on subjects influencing the condition of the revenue. had they not had Committees upon Sugar, upon Timber, and did not the Chancellor of the Exchequer only last night, assent to a Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, for a Committee to inquire into the Tobacco trade? That article affected no less than 3,000,000l. of revenue, and yet the Committee was not opposed. The right hon. Gentleman said his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport had not traced the distress of the country to the Corn Laws: he (Mr. Hawes) thought his hon. Friend had very clearly done this; and he could refer to one proof of the injury done by the Corn Laws to the working man, where he should least have expected to find anything of so decisive and striking a nature—a Report to the Committee of the Privy Council on Education, in 1841, by Mr. Tremenheere, one of the Commissioners appointed to in-quite into the state of education in Norfolk. That report contained a very strong proof of the great injury which labourers had to bear by reason of the high prices of corn, coupled with the fact that their wages did not rise in the same proportion. It was perfectly obvious, that any law which had this effect must greatly increase the sufferings of the agricultural population, and also the fluctuations in the prices of commodities. The Commissioner compared the wages of two families, one in 1840, making 62s. a month, the labourer himself 48s. or 12s. per week, and his son 14s., or 3s. 6d. a week, while the flour consumed came to one bag at 53s. leaving 9s. applicable to the general expenditure of the family; the other family in 1841 making altogether 56s., the labourer himself 44s., at 11s. per week, and his son 12s. at 3s. a week, the consumption, one bag of flour at 42s., leaving 14s. applicable to the general purposes of the family. In this case it would be seen that although 6s. were added to wages when flour was dear, 11s. had been added to the expenditure to purchase flour; and that when wages were high and flour high, the surplus applicable to general purposes was only 9s. per month, whereas, when wages were low, and flour low, the surplus applicable to general purposes was 14s. When prices were still lower the difference in favour of the labourer was increased, as Mr. 915 Tremenhere proceeded to shew in further instances. It was clear, therefore, that the Corn Law must have the most injurious influence on prices, and increase the natural fluctuations of employment. The House ought fairly to consider what would be the classes affected if the Committee were appointed. There would be the landlords, as regarded their rents; the farmers, as regarded their profits; and the labourers. If the rent of the land depended on its surplus produce, and if that depended on the capital and skill embarked in its cultivation, the Corn Law must necessarily fail to ensure the greatest amount of production and capital, unless it gave the most perfect security. But did the Corn Laws grant that security? Look at the history of these laws and of agricultural distress. From 1815 to the present time, how many different laws had they had, all of which had gradually broken down, and been swept away If the right hon. Gentleman with his great abilities, had been able to make out a case favourable to the law in its bearing on the tenant and the labourer, would he not have done it? So far from doing so, the right hon. Gentleman had made a speech, which he did not think could be better described than as admirably seconding the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport. Sure he was that the refusal of the Committee accompanied by that Speech, was likely to have no small effect in stimulating the agitation now prevailing throughout the country. He regretted the refusal to inquire on public grounds; if the right hon. Gentleman would consent, there might be some chance of effecting a settlement at a time when the population of the country was not in a state of excitement and rage, and when the seasons had been comparatively abundant. It was the interest of the landlords and the farmers to agree to such a settlement, if they had not perfect security under the Corn Law, and he defied any body to say they had, notwithstanding the right hon. Gentleman's eulogy on the firmness of the Government. If there was not entire firmness, their opposition to change prevented the application of capital to the land, repressed enterprise, and limited production. Gentlemen opposite had a great horror of free-trade, as the cause of insecurity; but let them look back twenty years in the commercial history of the country, and point out if they could, a single instance to which any material approximation had been made to free-trade principles, that had 916 not conduced to public wealth and abundance. Such had been the effect of all the alterations made by Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Thomson, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite. No doubt every alteration produced a certain portion of evil at the time, but this should be laid at the door of the protectionists, who built their house on a false foundation. He contended, that the final effect of every change had been to increase the industry and the material comforts of the people, and the revenue and moral power of the country. The late Mr. Cobbett, in his Weekly Register, proved that the effect of a change in the Corn Laws would be not to replace English corn by foreign corn, but to add a quantity of foreign grain to the insufficient supply of home-grown corn, which would be paid for by an increased export of manufactures. After all the evidence which had been given before Poor Law Committees, and Hand Loom Weavers' Committees, could it be doubted that the population of this country might consume double the quantity they now did? If this were so, our own agriculturists could not with their utmost efforts increase their produce so far as to supply the additional quantity wanted, or to give every able-bodied labourer a fair meal after his day's work. Unless they could do so, they had no right to tamper with starving men, or put them off with delays; and they were bound to allow our manufactures to be exported in increased quantity in order to procure a larger supply of provisions. Every step they had already made in this path, by letting in Irish corn and French or Prussian corn, had been coincident with an improvement in their trade. In support of these views he could refer to an article which, from the information he had received, he had every reason to believe was written by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in a periodical work of considerable circulation, which it would not be unprofitable to contrast with the speech which the right hon. Gentleman had that night delivered. He thought it too bad that Government having acquired influence by anonymous publications written on liberal principles, should afterwards make use of that influence in defence of protection. The Tariff passed two years ago, was full of instances in which the labour of the country was unsparingly exposed to competition, and at the present time, although Government was only asked not to give up the protec- 917 tion which particular classes enjoyed, but to enquire whether or not it was beneficial—now a Committee to examine the question was refused. The article he had referred to stated that,It had now become matter of the most plain and proximate utility, it should rather be said of necessity, as we were now forced into competition in all the markets of the world, to use every effort to cheapen production and relieve the materials of our industry, in the order of their importance, from fiscal exaction; mitigating with a just measure of regard to interests established by law, all partial burthens on trade, by which the community, as a whole, was laid under contributions to support particular interests or classes.If this were the opinion entertained by Ministers, he said the first thing in the order of importance was corn; and they had no right to trifle with the interests of the labouring classes, and refuse to make any concession for their welfare. Throughout the country, he did not hesitate to say that great disappointment would be felt at the right hon. Gentleman's speech, while he was perfectly sure that that of the hon. Member for Stockport would make a great impression. There were some Gentlemen, who, if they had now to go before their constituents in a populous town of Nottinghamshire, would find that the subject was one of greater importance than by their demeanour they seemed to suppose. He should give his support to the Motion introduced by the hon. Member for Stockport whose speech would sink deep in the minds of the people, and produce before long, great practical effect in the country.
observed that within the walls of that House there were of course upon so important a question as the Corn Laws a variety of conflicting opinions, held by individuals whose high station and position before the country entitled them to the highest deference and respect. Great as was his estimation for his hon. Friend the Member for Hull, he could not concur in the whole of the sentiments expressed on this subject on a former evening by his hon. Friend. He did not think that the article of corn was a fair subject for taxation for the purpose of revenue. [Hear]. Before hon. Gentlemen opposite cheered it would be as well they should hear him finish the sentence. He did not think the Corn Laws a fair system of taxation for the sake of revenue, but that they were required, upon 918 the principle and basis of preserving the country independent of foreigners, and for the protection of agriculture. He did not believe there was any greater blessing the people could enjoy than free-trade, but in order to make free-trade a blessing it was necessary that free-trade should be truly free, and not that sort of free-trade of which the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Trade was so enamoured—that free-trade which would admit the productions of all those countries which systematically opposed the import into their markets of the products of Great Britain. He did hope that the time would come when all the great markets of the world would awaken to their true interests, and by one general agreement consent to trade together in the must free and unrestricted manner, and when all import duties would cease. This he believed they might do without any fear on account of revenue. The greatest Minister who ever ruled this nation had held it was the duty of a nation to depend for its supply of food upon its own natural resources. This principle had been acted upon by the present Government, which by direct taxation had succeeded in obtaining an equilibrium between the income and expenditure of the country. The party opposite, of which the hon. Member for Stockport was at the head, had been put to great shifts in order to further their cause. He would mention one which was a little fact, the child of a "great fact." He alluded to the misrepresentations which had gone forth to the public with reference to Mr. Rand, of Bradford, a gentleman the possessor of a large fortune, and remarkable for intelligence and abilities. On the occasion of the contest for the West Riding of Yorkshire, when Lord Morpeth was thrown out, Mr. Rand had been selected to second the nomination of his hon. Friend who now so ably represented the West Riding (M. J. S. Wortley). Now at the Anti-Corn-Law Meeting lately held at Bradford, it was thought by the League that the first great thing to be achieved was to prevail upon Mr. Rand to take the chair; in this they failed, but succeeded in obtaining the services of a relative of that gentleman of the same name. Upon this, in the leading article of the leading journal of Whiggery, the Morning Chronicle, of the 26th December last, were the following remarks:— 919The comparative leisure of the Christmas holydays enables us to recur to the subject of the great Bradford meeting. The adhesion of Mr. Rand to the League is another proof that the screws are getting loose, and that the beginning of the end is near. Mr. Rand is a Tory manufacturer, chairman of the Tory committee in the Bradford district. In 1841 he preferred his politics to his trade: in 1843 he prefers his trade to his politics. At the hustings where Lord Morpeth was defeated no man was more energetic for the Tories. At the hustings, should such strictures be required this year we take it, his energy will be on the side of Mr. Cobden. Mr. Rand belongs to a class of persons fast increasing, who are not disposed to sacrifice the commerce of the country to party politics. This, after all, is the class of persons who, in a practical country like England, make and unmake Administrations. We consider, therefore, the appearance of Mr. Rand on the Anti-Corn Law platform with Mr. Cobden, occupying as he did the conspicuous part of chairman, a symptom of great consequence.Now, so far from Mr. Rand, the Tory chairman of the Bradford district, being the gentleman who presided at the League meeting referred to, he attended the protection meeting lately held at York, and proposed one of the resolutions adopted by the meeting. The noble Lord concluded by declaring his opposition to the motion before the House.
§ Mr. Francis Scott (Roxburghshire)
believed, that although the hon. Member for Stockport was a sincere advocate for the interests of the League, he was not a sincere advocate of the interests of those whose cause he professed to advance, or else why should he exclude the labouring classes from being examined as witnesses before the Select Committee for the appointment of which he now moved? Again the Corn Law of 1815 had nothing to do, nor had it any connexion with the existing law, and it had only been alluded to by the hon. Member, in order to serve party purposes. In the same manner the hon. Member had drawn a most unjust comparison between the position of the interests of the manufacturers and the agriculturists, which he held to be identical with the position of each in 1815, at the close of the last war. The hon. Member had said the landlords kept up scarcity in order to improve their lands; this he denied, for the object and desire of the landlord was the production of plenty—a circumstance proved by the fact, that at the present time with double the population, and with threefold the amount of taxation, the people were fed 920 as cheaply as they were forty or fifty years ago. The hon. Member had referred to the convention of Jersey as a fit test of the advantages of free-trade. Why refer to the smallest island in Europe? Why not have taken any one of the countries of Europe? If he had done so, he would have found from Returns already before the House, that the price of corn for the last fifteen years had been more steady in Great Britain than in any other country in Europe, except Sweeden and Switzerland. The hon. Member next referred to the article of wool, as if it afforded an instance of absolute protection. Wool, however, had a greater variation in its prices than corn or any other produce and could not at all bear upon the present question. The next point urged, was the subject of rents, as though the landlords had brought them forward as the sole object for which the Corn Laws were maintained. Now, he should like to know in what proportion rents of land, taken in connexion with the wages of labourers employed on land, stood in comparison with the profits of manufactures taken in connexion with the wages paid to artisans. Rents were the same now as in 1815; the produce of the land was two-fold, and wages remained where they were. On the other hand, the produce of manufactures had increased beyond all imagination; the profits of manufacturers had increased in a similar proportion; but he wished to know whether wages were the same now as formerly, especially those of the handloom weavers and the framework knitters and others. There was no body of men who derived so small a profit on so large an amount of capital as the landlords, and, vice versâ, there was no body of men who derived so great profits on so small capital as the manufacturers. He maintained that the labour of the poor man was his capital, and his only capital; and of that capital the hon. Member for Stockport sought to deprive him by the measure he proposed. It was that capital which they on his side of the House, in spite of the obloquy which had been attempted to be cast upon them, were determined to preserve [Cheers]. The hon. Member cheered—he was glad he did so, for it was the poor man's interest he was advocating at the present moment. The hon. Member had again alluded to Dorset-shire. He should leave Dorsetshire to defend itself; but a statement had been made as to the state of other counties which made the heart bleed for the condition of 921 the poor man; but when he heard the' hon. Member refer to Scotland in the same manner, and state that his description of Dorsetshire applied to Scotland, he must say, that he was not indignant, but surprised, at the audacity of the hon. Member in making such a statement. The hon. Member had observed, that the further he was removed from those tall chimneys with which he was so enamoured, and from which he no doubt derived his wealth, in the same proportion he found increase of misery and destitution. He believed that in the same proportion as the hon. Member could remove from those same tall chimneys, in the same proportion he departed from accuracy. The hon. Member had had the assurance to state that the price of labour in Scotland was at an average of 6s. 8d. per week—that the common wages were 4s., made up in meal, potatoes, and milk, to 6s. 8d. per week. When he looked at the hon. Member's inaccuracies with regard to Scotland, he could not believe him to be accurate in his statements as to Dorsetshire. When the hon. member alleged that 6s. 8d. was the average weekly wages in Scotland, he had stated about half; for from 9s. to 12s. or 13s. per week would give a truer account of the amount of wages in Scotland, and that, too, during the whole year. Were the wages of manufacturers permanent throughout the year? The hon. Member (Mr. Cobden) had next dealt with the questions of produce and tile draining; of this, the only matter that was clear was, that the hon. Member was entirely ignorant of the subject on which he was speaking. With regard to the state of the manufacturing and agricultural districts, he would allude to statistics which would enable the House to form some criterion on the comparative condition of each. In the first place, as to the duration of life, it appeared that in an average taken for a period of thirty years, the duration of life was thirty-eight years in the agricultural, and only seventeen years in the manufacturing districts. On the whole, then, he begged to ask, what was the proposed change to effect? Was it to enable this country to export more goods to foreign countries? Would those foreign countries take them if the change was made? Why, they had clearly shown they would not. The hon. Member stated, that in the county of Haddington the rent was about half the value of what each farmer brought to market. Why, if that was the state of things, why was it everybody in Scotland did not invest their 922 property in land? The truth was, he suspected, that property so invested would not realize three per cent., whereas by applying it to manufactures it would return 30 per cent. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh, but let them remember the hon. Member for Stockport stated the other night the case of a poor man who from nothing had realized 100,000l. This had been done, not by an investment in land, but in mills and manufactories. The hon. Member stated, that pauperism and want of employment in agriculture had increased with protection, but he maintained there had been a much greater increase of pauperism with the increased profits of manufactures. In calling upon the gentlemen from Scotland, he understood the hon. Member for Stockport to throw out a challenge to them, and therefore he hoped to have the indulgence of the House while he detained them only one moment—while lie stated what had occurred in his own county. The hon. Member in the course of his crusade against the Corn Laws—his itinerant voyage through the country—had come to the county with which he was connected. The hon. Member had stated that the landed proprietors there had been hallooing on the farmers to take part in this agitation, as if the landed proprietors were parties to the farmers holding meetings on the subject. For himself, owing to domestic circumstances to which he would not allude, he was not in the county at the time the hon. Member referred to; but he could say that one very large and influential meeting had been held by the farmers of their own spontaneous accord (there not being more than two or three landed proprietors present), for the purpose of stating their aversion to the measures of the League; and there was also in the county with which he was connected, a meeting about to be held, emanating from the farmers alone, without any instigation from the landed proprietors, for the same purpose. He stated this in order that it might be well understood that the farmers in that part of the country did not look upon the question as relating to landlords alone, but as extending to tenant farmers, to labourers, and to the whole community at large. The hon. Member had asserted that various tenants in Scotland had supported him, and also that the tenants of an influential nobleman in that county would have deserted their landlord and adhered to the standard of the League, if he had raised it among them. Now, in reply to this statement, 923 he had the testimony of nearly 120 witnesses that the fact was not so, and there was this remarkable circumstance in the hon. Member's statement, that he had not dared to make it in that country, and it was not until he had crossed the border that he had ventured on the unwarrantable assertion for the purpose of producing an effect on the minds of his hearers. Having thus made his reply to the hon. Gentleman's challenge he should not detain the House further.
§ Lord Worsley
had not intended to address the House; for, judging of the import of the Motion from the wording of it, he had concluded that it would resolve itself into a Motion for the revival of the Import Duties Committee, and if the hon. Member for Stockport had not said that should he obtain the Committee it would inquire among other things into the management of land he should have remained silent. The hon. Member had mentioned the case of a farm rented at 800l. a-year, on which the expenses were 790l. a-year. Now to this he (Lord Worsley) could only say, that if the fact was accurately stated, it must be a case of land near some great town, and therefore held at a great rent, as accommodation land, and also for the greater part pasture land, which would account for the great rent. Hence such a farm was not a criterion of rents and expenses generally. He had received from an intelligent farmer an account of expenses on a farm, which, as it was forwarded to him with reference not to this subject, but to the Enclosure Bill, which he had had the honour of submitting to the House, he begged to read. His correspondent, who occupied upwards of 2,000 acres, after stating generally that the present scale of duties was not calculated to keep wheat above 52s., but supposing it to be 56s. a-quarter, and three quarters to be the produce of an acre, then eight guineas would be the gross value of the produce of an acre: deducting one guinea for seeds, seven guineas would be the value of the produce, and, taking 200 acres, 1,470l. would be the value of the produce for the first year. Then pursuing the usual rotation of the four-course system, the value the second year would be 500l.; the value the third, would be 1,200l; the value the fourth year, in which they would have clover or seeds would be 280l.; that gave 3,450l. for the whole value of the produce 924 of the 200 acres on the four-course system. It would be observed that the farmer mentioned by the hon. Member grew, what was not commonly done, wheat every three years. His correspondent calculated for labour of all sorts 1,000l., for wages in the four years; 150l. for parochial rates; 200l. for tithes; for cost and expenses of horses 600l.; for artificial manure 500l. in the four years, for interest on 1,200l. capital, at 4½ per cent., 216l. All this was to be set against a rent of 800l. Upon the whole, therefore, he thought the House would see that the statement of the hon. Member was not to be relied on as a criterion of what took place on farms generally. He (Lord Worsley) also wished to state a fact or two to the House, in consequence of the hon. Member having said, that he excepted Lincolnshire from what he said with respect to the state of the labourers. He (Lord Worsley) had certainly heard himself, and also seen reports which confirmed what the hon. Member had stated, so far as regarded the southern parts of the island. In fact, it was a marvel to him and to many other persons with whom he had conversed, how anybody could support himself on the wages that were given in the south of England. A friend of his had told him that he had met with a farmer from Yorkshire, and another from Lincolnshire, at present farming in Berkshire, who had told him that they did not mean to stay there, they found wages so low. They could not, they said, be the persons to begin to give higher wages than were given in their districts, but they were not satisfied with the existing system. In their own counties, they observed, they had found no difficulty, on an emergency, or in harvest time, of getting more work from their labourers without reluctance or grumbling on their part; but where they were it was difficult and disagreeable to get their labourers to make an effort. This was the statement of these practical farmers, and he believed, that although wages in the northern parts of England were comparatively high, the farmers were, nevertheless, flourishing. He had heard the farmers in those parts of England, and especially in Lincolnshire, say themselves—and the Poor Law Commissioners who came down there confirmed them—that the labourers were better able to do their work who had higher wages, and he had beard from the farmers in Lincoln- 925 shire, that the reason why they had their work better done than farmers in the southern parts of England was, that the labourer was better fed, and therefore better able to do the work. He did not mention this because it was connected with his own county, but for the purpose of inducing persons, if possible, who employed labourers, to give higher wages; for he fully believed that the farmer was better off where higher wages were given, and that where the wages were liberal, they found that the labourers were contented; and that the comfort of the farmer was the comfort of the labourer; and that the labourer looked happy, and was better contented because he was better fed, owing to a more liberal allowance of wages. The hon. Member for Stockport Lad stated, that there had been an expectation, that under the present Corn Laws, wheat would range to 56s. He (Lord Worsley) could certainly bear testimony that the general impression among farmers was, that it was held out to them that wheat would be at 56s. under the new law; and the farmers now said, that though the law was working better than they expected, still it was not giving them so much as this, though it was right they should have had. At any rate, whether rightly held or not, he could testify that this opinion was very generally held amongst farmers. The hon. Member seemed to think it was not possible that the agricultural class in the south of England could be placed in the same condition with the same class in the north of England, except with the assistance of leases. In reply to this, he (Lord Worsley) could state, that in Lincolnshire there was a high state of cultivation though there leases were only the exception. It was the custom of the county that farms should be continued from father to son; this showed a great degree of confidence between the landlord and the tenant. The consequence was, the tenant employed labour and capital liberally on the land. Now, when the labourers observed this state of confidence between the landlord and the tenant, was it not to be expected that they would feel the same for their employer the tenant-farmer? When the labourer saw that the tenant farmed the land as if it were his own, and that there was so great a degree of confidence between the landlord and him, they might depend upon it a similar confidence would 926 grow up between the labourer and the tenant-farmer. With respect to the county of Lincoln, he affirmed this, that though wages were somewhat lower last winter than before, the labourer in no one instance at any time during the winter was receiving less than 9s. a-week. During the rest of the year, he believed, that the labourers had been receiving 12s. a-week, and, in some cases, the labourer had received that sum all the year round. But, he believed, that as a great deal was done in that county by task-work, from 13s. to 16s. 6d. were the wages generally, in fact, received by an active labourer. He thought, therefore, that he was justified in stating, that where they found the labourer in that condition, and, at the same time, the farmer in that condition, the reasons for it were obvious, and he hoped he should not be considered presumptuous, if he suggested to hon. Members connected with agricultural districts, to impress upon those who were connected with land to give higher wages, inasmuch as they would by doing so produce a higher degree of comfort, and obtain a greater degree of credit for the way in which their land would be managed, as well as afterwards have the satisfaction of feeling that they had not neglected a duty which the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden), he believed, had done good by calling attention to—the duty of endeavouring to improve the condition of the English labourer, which he (Lord Worsley) thought had been neglected in some counties. He could not, however, support the Motion of the hon. Member, because he felt that if the House appointed a Committee they would find each Member, according to his different opinions, wishing to bring forward different facts, so that the Committee would not agree to a report, much time would be wasted, not to mention the expectations which would be held out to one party or the other, and that the conclusion from the whole would be, that the House could not do anything which would render either more dear or more cheap the food of the agricultural labourer.
§ Mr. B. Cochrane
rose to state, that he had received a letter from the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand), assigning as a reason why he was absent that night, that he was on the Grand Jury at York, and also obliged to wait for a trial which was coming on, and in which he was interested.
§ Mr. Curteis
said, that as the hon. Member for Stockport had spoken in reference to Lincolnshire, he might be allowed to say, with respect to Sussex, and particularly the part in which he lived, and the labourers he employed, that quite as good wages were given there as in Lincolnshire. There was not a labourer in his employment who had not 12s. a-week, and he did not give more than his neighbours. He never knew less than 10s. given. He believed most employers gave 12s. a-week for ordinary farm-labour. They gave their carters 14s. a-week, and their shepherds 15s. a-week. He must say that the hon. Member had never convinced him by the arguments he had used. He thought that the prosperity of the labourer depended on the prosperity of the tenant and landlord. If the hon. Member had been, as he had, into the cottages of the peasantry of Sussex, he would find that his statements were not correct as regarded them. In addition to the statements which he felt it his duty to make with respect to Sussex, he was enabled, from his knowledge of the adjoining county of Kent, with which also he was connected, to say that the peasantry there were in a prosperous condition, especially in the hop districts. With respect to the speech made by the hon. Mover, he should say that it was a speech characterised by a very fair degree of cleverness, but it was far from convincing him that the House ought to agree to such a Motion as that which on the present occasion had been submitted for their consideration. He was the advocate of a fixed duty, not of the sliding-scale. At the same time he must say, that if pressed hard he should go from the fixed duty to the sliding-scale. He thought, that to take away all protection would be too bold an experiment. He should, whenever he had an opportunity, vote for the fixed duty, for by such a measure he thought that he should do a service to the manufacturing and the commercial interests without injuring the agricultural classes. He should never wish to see any measure introduced that was calculated to injure them, for he regarded the agricultural as the paramount interest, and he therefore felt at all times a cordial, sincere, and determined desire to support the agricultural interest.
§ Mr. Brotherton
said, that the speech of the hon. Member for Roxburghshire reminded him of what was sometimes 928 said, that mathematical truths could be denied if it were the interest of men to deny them; while the speech of the hon. Member who spoke last reminded him of the adage that—A man convinced against his will Is of the same opinion still.For, whatever might be the facts, or whatever might be his opinion upon them, he appeared to be determined to keep to the agricultural interest. And that reminded him of an anecdote told of a landlord, once a Member of that House. He said it was of no use their arguing upon the question of the Corn Laws, the landlords believed they were for their own interests, and they had the power to maintain them, and while they possessed that power they would maintain them. The question before the House was whether protection was right or wrong, and whether that protection was beneficial to the farmer and to the agricultural labourer. This seemed to be controverted. Could there be, then, a fairer ground for the appointment of a committee? How could the House ascertain which side was right, unless there were an investigation? The hon. Member for Sussex had said, that the agricultural interest was the paramount interest of the country. Now, he (in opposition to such a statement) would boldly assert that the agricultural population of this country was not one-tenth part of the entire population; and that even in the agricultural counties the farmers, graziers, and agricultural labourers were not one-third of the population. He had had an opportunity of examining into this question as far as regarded twenty three counties, and he found that the population of those twenty-three counties, not including the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, was 6,038,833. These were thus employed:—
|The number of persons engaged in trade and various occupations||1,559,612|
|Farmers, graziers, and agricultural labourers||585,104|
|Total number of persons employed in twenty-three counties||2,144,715|
|The proportion of farmers, graziers, and agricultural labourers, to the number of persons|
|engaged in trade and other occupations||27 per cent.|
|Persons of other occupations||73 per cent.|
|The proportion of persons engaged in trade and other occupations, as compared with the total population||26 per cent.|
|The number of farmers, graziers, and agricultural labourers, per cent., as compared with the total population||10 per cent.|
§ There were two-and-a-half times more persons employed in trade and manufactures than in agriculture in twenty-three counties, principally agricultural. Therefore he (Mr. Brotherton) contended that the agricultural interest was not the paramount interest in the State; and if so, then it followed that it was unjust that a law should exist to give that interest an advantage over other interests. The hon. Member for Roxburghshire declared himself to be the poor man's friend, and he contended that the labourers ought to be protected. Why, that was the very thing he and his hon. friends were endeavouring to accomplish. They maintained that the manufacturing and agricultural interests were really identical. The best protection the agriculturists could have was the prosperity of their customers, and a repeal of all restrictions on trade was the best means to obtain them those customers. At a meeting in Brecknockshire, the hon. and gallant Member opposite was reported to have said, that if the people wished for free-trade, they ought to have free-trade in everything, and then that a pair of boots which now cost 2l. 5s. would sell for 1l. 5s. Surely that hon. and gallant Member would not make a statement intentionally to deceive the meeting; but it was impossible for any one to say that the reduction of a duty of 2s. 4d. on an article would cause the reduction of the price of a pair of hoots from 2l. 5s. to 1l. 5s. That was one of the fallacies which hon. Gentlemen, when they got among agriculturists, were apt to deal in. Many eminent men had in former days condemned the Corn Laws—Lord Wentworth, Lord Grenville, and others. They contended that the law was merely an act of spoliation of the community to benefit the landlords; while Lord Liverpool himself admitted that it was a law to keep up the rents. Could it be a matter of surprise, then, that many considered the law to be unjust? He readily believed there were 930 many landlords who thought that the law was equally beneficial to the tenants and agricultural labourers. If a Committee should be of the same opinion there could be no doubt that Parliament would adopt the principle; but until the question had been investigated there would ever remain a strong conviction on the minds of the people that the Corn Laws were most injurious in practice, unjust in principle.
had not intended to take part in the present debate; but, as he had been personally alluded to by the hon. Gentleman opposite, he would make a very few observations. In the story to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, he had not been the anti-free-trader—it was the bootmaker. The facts were these. The bootmaker had said to him, "We are all for free-trade." He had answered, "With all my heart, if you have it in everything." The bootmaker then replied, "In everything except in boots—for they would send them from Paris for 1l. 5s." With regard to the proportion of the agricultural population, if the hon. Member had taken the whole Kingdom, instead of twenty-three counties, he would have found the results very different. Instead of the agricultural population being less than the manufacturing, he believed, that if the two were compared it would be be found that the former was as two to one, and he was satisfied that the amount which they contributed towards the expenses of the country was at least as two to one. But he was not one of those who wished to contrast one class with another. He deprecated any such course, and he was sorry to see the Anti-Corn-Law League on the one side and the Agricultural Associations on the other side engaged in such hostilities. He did not like this war of associations, but he felt bound to say that the agriculturists had only risen in self-defence—that the League were the first aggressors. He hoped that the old maxim—upon which he believed the Landlords and Tenantry of England acted—"Live and let live," would he the prevailing principle. The hon. Member for Stockport had read a letter upon the cultivation of a farm. That hon. Gentleman had, he thought, somewhere, stated that he was a farmer's son. If he had been deluded by the statement contained in that letter, he could know but little of that which had been his father's occupation. That letter stated, that the expense 931 of cultivating a farm of 400 acres was 750l., and that the rent was 800l. A more absurd statement could never have been conceived. The old calculation always had been—and that had been made at a time when much less capital was invested in farming—that it was impossible to carry on an agricultural pursuit without realising three rents—one for the landlords, one for the tenant, and one for the expenses, and he believed that now four must be necessary. [An Hon. Member—More likely five.] Perhaps it might be so, but he would like to know by whom this letter had been written. If it had come from a tenant farmer, the sooner he gave up his farm the better. He had not intended to say anything on this question, but as he was on his legs, he could not refrain from expressing his very decided conviction, that the laws which regulated the importation of foreign articles into this country were for the benefit of the great masses of the people, and if he thought that they were not so, he would not support them.
The Earl of Shelburne
said, that the Hon. Member for Stockport had alluded to a village near which he lived, and had stated that its population were in a state of the greatest distress. The inference which the House would draw from the statement of the hon. Member was, that the owners of land in that village did not study the comforts of the lower class of people. In this instance he could assure the House that no blame attached to the landowners of the place. He did not doubt that in many cases blame was imputable to them, but here it was not so. The principal owners of land in the village were a family, whose fortune was in a very embarrassed state, and from his own personal knowledge he could state that they had done everything in their power to ameliorate the condition of the poor labourers, and to better the position of their village.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
would trouble the House with a few remarks, because he thought the Motion a very extraordinary one—viewing the period at which it was made; when in another part of the metropolis honour was being done to those who were desirous of disturbing the public peace*—and when the name of the hon.* A dinner said to be attended by 1200 persons, was on this day given to Mr. O'Connel at Covent Garden Theatre.932 Member for Stockport was on the lists of stewards for that occasion of those stewards who were in the habit of walking about with white wands. If he had been appointed to so honourable an office—though not to such meeting—for at such a meeting he would never be seen—but if he had been honoured with the right of carrying a white wand, he would take care not to be absent—and he thought that the hon. Member ought not to have been absent, to show his allegiance to the hon. and learned Member for Cork. Before he came to the House he had taken the trouble of inquiring whether that hon. Gentleman—filling so important au office as that of steward—whose duty it was to walk about, and make arrangements, and keep order, and listen to what was going on—intended to be present, and, though he did not wonder that he preferred their company to the company of those of whom he would say with Sir John Falstaff, that "he would not march through Coventry with one of them"—he yet must say, that he was surprised that the hon. Gentleman was here to-night to make the Motion. Though the hon. Gentleman had done him the honour of excepting the county in which he resided from the list of those counties in which the rural population were neglected, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that he would just as soon have had his bad word as his good one. But the hon. Gentleman had brought forward his Motion. And why? Because he had heard of "better late than never," and he knew that the influential and independent agriculturists of England were rising up, not to excite alarm or discontent, but to avail themselves of the Englishman's right of self-defence. They were not men like the quack doctors of the League, who went about through the country to delude the people and who, being paid for it, as they undoubtedly were, cared not what they said—of what misrepresentations they were guilty. They were not landowners, but were respectable tenant-farmers, who were at length determined to defend their own interests. Let them look at the petitions presented to that House. They had been signed by the labourers, who, according to the statement, of the hon. Member for Stockport, had not a bed on which to lie, nor food to eat. That fact alone showed that the hon. Gentleman and the Anti-Corn Law League, of whom he did not know how to 933 speak—for those miserable men sent forth language quite unfit for persons of their position; but the people of England had too much good sense to be led away by their knavery. The "Anti-Corn-Law League Circular "—not that he ever read it—he would not disgrace his house or table by admitting it—was full of falsehoods. He had not read it, but if he had, he would not believe a single word of it—but how had that Circular designated the tenant farmers and landowners of England—for tenant farmers were landowners, and landowners were tenant farmers? By epithets which none but the Anti-Corn-Law League would dare to have used. It showed of what stuff the League was made. It called them "monsters of intpiety—releotless demons—heartless fiends—inhuman fiends—merciless footpads—plunderers of the people.'' Such names as he hardly knew how the Anti-Corn-Law League, with all their learning, could have conjured up and put on paper. But the landlords and the farmers of England looked upon the League with the same contempt as he did. He rejoiced that the hon. Member for Stockport had brought forward this Motion—and if he could depend upon its sincerity, he should not fear a Committee to inquire into the truth—the whole truth—and nothing but the truth—and he was sure that the hon. Member for Stockport, and the hon. Member for Durham, and the whole Anti-Corn-Law League, individually and collectively, would, to use a common phrase, come off second best. But this Motion was another attempt to humbug the people of England. It would be set forth in the newspapers—"What exertions does the Member for Stockport make for the poor—how anxious is he in their behalf!" He certainly did give them speeches—he would be glad to see him give them something else. It might, indeed, be interesting to have elicited by such an inquiry a fair statement of the origin in life of some hon. Members, and by what means and through whose assistance they had become Members of the British House of Commons. It was quite possible, that some who had nothing a few years back might be very great men at the present day. It might not be very agreeable to some hon. Gentlemen to inquire too minutely into the manner in which they got their present position, and what they contributed in grateful return 934 to those who placed them there. He should wish to see the tenant-farmer and agricultural labourer, and also the master manufacturers and their operatives, going hand in hand, but he was sorry to see an unkind, illiberal, and selfish feeling manifested by one party towards another. He did not wish to be mistaken; his honest conviction was, that those unkind and illiberal feelings were all on the side of the manufacturers. A much better feeling had existed among all classes before the introduction of the Reform Bill, and it would have been most fortunate for the country if that measure had never passed. He should regard with suspicion any Motion emanating; from the quarter from which the present Motion had come; and he should give this his decided opposition, because he believed it was brought forward with no other motive than to delude the people. He should never, so long as he was a Member of that House, support any measure tending, as the present motion evidently did, to create disaffection between man and man.
§ Mr. Villiers
said, that the House was disposed to laugh at the speech of the hon. Member for Lincoln; but he thought the hon. Member's Speech as worthy of attention as those that preceded it, so far as it regarded the question. He did just what every preceding speaker did—namely, justify entirely his hon. Friend, the Member for Stockport in bringing forward his Motion, disputing his facts, opposing his opinions, showing that there was reason for doubt, and feeling satisfied that if inquiry was granted he would be shown to be wrong; yet, for some excellent reason that they knew of, they all opposed the inquiry. The President of the Board of Trade was afraid of losing the confidence of his supporters the hon. Member for Rye was afraid of his neighbours; and the hon. Member for Lincoln knew somebody who would mistake him for somebody else. He believed, however, that nobody would mistake the motives of hon. Members in resisting the Motion. The gallant Gentleman, the Member for Brecon, had resisted the Motion as coming from the League, and referred for authority to the societies recently formed in opposition to it. He was happy to hear reference made to them, for be had begun to fear, notwithstanding the pomp and parade with which they had announced themselves as guardians of British agriculture, that they had lost their voices, or had no representa- 935 tives in that House. He had read much of their sayings out of doors, but heard little of them in that House till now. This was then the moment for them to justify what they had said elsewhere; he had risen also as a competent witness of what had been said here at other times, to shew the propriety of his hon. Friend's Motion. He had unfortunately been for some years the mover of that question, and he wished to state here, distinctly and openly, what he conceived to be the ground that was invariably assumed by his opponents in resisting that Motion, which was—that though the Corn Law might be attended with some evil, though it might be questionable in some respects in its policy, yet that there were classes of persons belonging to the productive industry of the country, namely, the farmers and farm-labourers—who were deeply interested in it, who depended upon it for their prosperity, who were well off then, and who would be ruined if that law were repealed; that it was a question simply of the labourer and the farmer; that it was not a landowner's question; and on the account of those classes it could not he repealed. The debates would prove beyond all question that this was the ground invariably assumed by hon. Members. What then did the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, mean by asking what was the connection between his hon. Friend's Motion and the influence of the Corn Laws? These were the things also that were asserted out of doors; yet, on this occasion, when their sincerity was partly tested, he had not heard a word from these county Members, who were all sitting on a row before him, who were all the souls of the protection societies in their own counties, but who all appeared then silent about these laws, on the score of their being serviceable to the farmer and the labourer. He expected this the less, because at all their meetings they expressed mistrust of the present Government, and they would not, probably, consider the one Minister who had spoken could answer for their feelings or opinions. What could be more appropriate than his hon. Friend's Motion to meet their objection to the repeal of a law so injurious to every other interest? The right hon. Gentleman complained of his having confined his Motion to the farmers and the labourers, and asked how the landowners had been excepted? Why, he said, it was the landowners that had excepted themselves. It was they who were always 936 saving that they had no interest in the question—that it was their feeling for the labourer that prompted them entirely in their course. It was only last night that it was asserted by a great personage in another place that this was entirely a farmers' question—that the farmers had lately come forward, quite independently of the landlords, in order to vindicate their interests, and that they were on this question as one man. This, then, showed the propriety of his hon. Friend's Motion; it was most important if it was so, that it should be proved that these Corn Laws were, or could be, or ever had been of any use to farmers or labourers, but that should be shown. There would then be a pretence, at least, for their continuance. He respected that body of men, and their interests deserved the warmest sympathy on the part of the House, and of all people out of that House. He had never spoken but in terms of respect of them, and never should; and he should listen with interest to hear what would be shown to be for their advantage at any time. But he wanted to know where the proof was, that protection was of use to the farmers. It might be disclosed in the Committee, but it was not obvious. The farmers had been notoriously in distress, had been so by the admission of the House on several occasions, and were so at present. And Great God, what a description had his hon. Friend given to-night of the state of the labourers, resting his statement upon the authority of Commissioners of the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman said, that what the hon. Member for Stockport had referred to were exceptional cases, and that he must not conclude that such was the general condition of the labourers. He did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman had ever read the report, for he would have seen that it contained reports from all the different counties which were called agricultural, and that they all described the labourer as inadequately rewarded for his labour, insufficiently supplied with food. Did the right hon. Gentleman dispute the authority of the Rev. Mr. Osborne, who had so feelingly, and with such shocking detail, described the demoralising and distressing condition of the labourers? He had an extract from a letter that this Gentleman had written to the noble Duke at the bead of the Protection Society only within a few days, in which the Rev. Gentleman complained that in the plan for this protection he could see no arrangement made for learning the condition of the la- 937 bourer. And he implored of these great men to give at least as much attention to the labourer as they did to their cattle. His expressions were "there is no one creature belonging to your farms, not an animal you rear for use, or for sale, that has been treated with so much neglect as to everything tending to improvement as your labourers." Evidence then there certainly was before the world that the labourer was in a miserable condition. Evidence without end had been given by the landlords themselves that the farmers were in distress; the landlords meant that, and nothing else, when they talked of agricultural distress, or when they called for, and generally got, agricultural relief. They never proved that they were in distress themselves—their witnesses always showed that when wheat was low the labourers were best off, which was the case in 1836, when every witness that they examined declared that though wheat was never so low, they never knew the labourer better off: This, then, was a startling fact, considering the ground on which the Corn Law was defended, that when protection failed the most, the labourer, intended to be benefited by it, was best off. With all these circumstances, then, to rebut the presumption that the Corn Laws or the protective duties were of any advantage to them, what could be more reasonable than to demand the inquiry exactly in the terms of his hon. Friend's Motion—which was to inquire what good did protective duties do the farmer or the labourer? And let this be remembered, that there is no question that protection is attended with certain evil effects to the rest of the community; for, without deciding whether it does good to anybody, it is admitted that protective duties are imposed and are intended to act as obstructions to commerce, as throwing difficulties in the way of importing the necessaries of life, and of enhancing the cost of living to the community. These effects have been admitted upon several occasions, when he had brought forward motions in that House; but it was said let this be granted, there is yet a national policy, there is public ground, there is interest connected with all our social arrangements that ought to make us bear with patience all these evils. Well, then, was it not just for those who suffer especially from these evils, to inquire whether these corresponding advantages do accrue to anybody from them, or to those, at least, who deserve our sympathy. Ought not some 938 national advantage to be made quite clear, to reconcile us to what tends to perpetuate and aggravate so serious a cause of evil in this country as the want of more trade, more means of employment, more food for our vast population? Surely this is a subject which ought to engage their constant attention; and if this inquiry would elicit truth on this matter, how desirable was it that the inquiry should be conceded; for there is nothing more certain than this fact, that our increasing population, without a corresponding demand for labour, or adequate supply of food, will and must constantly force itself upon their notice. It has been doing so more and more for the last twelve years. It is coining before the House and the country in various shapes, and always indicating a pressure upon the means of subsistence and the means of employment by the people. Never before did the wants and sufferings of those who live by labour occupy so large a share of the time of this House as lately. It is constantly before the House, either in the shape of Factory Bills, or ten hours' Bills, or Commissions directed to inquire into and report upon the condition of different portions of the working classes. They all shew that there is uneasiness, discontent, and misery prevailing and increasing among our people, and all which, he believed would increase, and he believed could only be relieved by extending their trade with other countries, which extension of trade it was the object of these protecting duties to check. He asked again, if they thought that this was an evil that would cure itself? Did they think that people would be made happy or quiet, or contented, by doing what they threatened to do to-night, in rejecting this most reasonable, this most proper inquiry? If they refused to allow this House to use its appropriate functions in thus inquiring into great evils alleged to exist, with nothing better to occupy their time—did they suppose for one instant that they could stay or moderate the agitation in the country? He trusted that they would grant to his hon. Friend what he asked, and not, by a refusal, add so intensely to all the elements of anger, agitation, and complaint that now pervaded the country.
§ Mr. G. Bankes
agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the agricultural Members should declare their opinions and the grounds of the vote they should give on this occasion. He congratulated the hon. Member for Stockport on the altered tone and feeling with 939 which he had expressed himself; for, whatever difficulty there might have been in replying to his speeches, which were always delivered with talent, there was not now the additional difficulty of endeavouring to subdue those feelings which were invariably engendered by acrimonious expressions. If he were persuaded that by going into Committee with the hon. Member for Stockport, they could in any degree further the interests of those over whom it was their duty to watch and protect, he (Mr. Bankes) should willingly support the Motion, even although he might, in so doing, be charged with hypocrisy for attempting to sympathise with that class of his fellow-subjects. He should not be deterred by the fear of any such charge from speaking in that House, or elsewhere, the language of his heart. He would tell the hon. Member for Stockport, that if he could see any chance of benefitting by the present Motion that class, (which he admitted were not at present in that state and condition in which he would wish to see them) he would cordially support the proposition. But he saw no benefit that could possibly arise to them from the adoption of such a Measure, and, on the other hand, he saw counter-balancing inconveniences and evils that would arise affecting that class which he (Mr. Cobden) sought to benefit, and therefore, he was bound to exercise his judgment in contradiction of the eloquent appeal made, and would give a decided and cheerful vote against the proposition. He felt satisfied, that the immediate consequence of granting a Committee would be the exciting of a new degree of anxiety throughout the country. Anxiety on the part of the agricultural labourers was, happily, at present, subsiding, and he trusted we might now anticipate that security which the hon. Member for Lambeth said, and said with truth, was the chief foundation of agricultural prosperity. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Lambeth, however, in looking for security to the chance of realising all those bright visions which he and other eloquent persons endeavoured to present before our eyes, respecting the changed order of things when the free trade system would be adopted. It was that very change which he (Mr. Bankes) dreaded, because he felt convinced it could not produce those benefits predicated of it by the hon. Member for Stockport. Although the condition of the agricultural labourers was by no means such as he could wish, he could yet easily 940 conceive a change which would render their condition much worse. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton asserted that the Members opposed to free-trade had been lately busily engaged in rousing up the spirit of the agriculturists throughout the country, and be called on them to declare in that House those sentiments which they had so boldly proclaimed in other parts of the Empire. He could assure the hon. Member that he could boast of no great share in raising that spirit which had gone from one end of the kingdom to the other. He had indeed attended a meeting called and promoted by the farmers in his own county. He had been invited to attend, he had gone, and having listened to their proceedings, had expressed his hearty concurrence in their sentiments, and that was all the part he took in the meeting. He should have been far from being ashamed if he had taken a much stronger part in it; but, in point of fact, it was wholly unnecessary. He was glad to find such a spirit manifested by that class who were said, by those who went through the country taunting them, to be a base and subservient class, who had no opinions of their own, or that if they had they had not the courage to express them. They were also represented as having opinions contrary to those which they now boldly proclaim from one end of the country to the other. But there was one sentiment imputed to him and the other agricultural Members by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton—a sentiment which they entirely disavowed—he meant the mistrust of Her Majesty's Ministers. He had freely expressed his opinions on Measures affecting the agricultural interest in former Sessions of Parliament, and had given Ids vote in accordance with those opinions, and if he felt mistrust, it was a mistrust of his own opinions, when in thus conscientiously giving his vote, he voted not only against the Ministry, but also against large majorities of that House; but that there was a mistrust of Her Majesty's Ministers among the agriculturists he hoped was not the case. He might, perhaps, complain of the hon. Member for Stockport, that when he referred to those parts of the Commissioners' Report which seemed to militate against the credit of the county which he (the hon. Member) had the honour to represent, he should not also advert to those parts which had an opposite tendency. He would quote from the Report some passages which the hon. Member had omitted. It was therein stated 941That in Dorsetshire wages are higher than in a neighbouring county; near Bland ford they average 11s. a week. The practice of employing labourers by the job is exceedingly common, even where constantly employed by the same master; and, in addition to his wages, the labourer has many advantages—fuel carriage free, and often at reduced prices, cottage sometimes at very low rent, and not unfrequently on large farms rent free, while many farmers give their regular labourers potato ground, they having in most cases also their master's horses to plough and to carry home the potatoes when dug.And in another part the Commissioners said, speaking also of a parish near Bland-ford,All the labourers are employed, and there is hardly a sufficient number of hands; they get on an average 11s. a week. A great many have houses rent free, saving smile 2l. or 3l. per annum. All get fuel carriage free, sometimes at half price, and potato grounds allowed them according to their families.Perhaps he should not put the average more, especially if taken exclusive of the miscellaneous advantages alluded to, so high as 11s. a week; but he had acted fairly in quoting the very Report which had been read against his county, and he would request those who desire to form any just inference from the contents of that Report, to have the kindness and the fairness to read the whole. Undoubtedly some cases had been painfully, though not improperly, discussed in the county, with the best intentions doubtless; though whether with the best effects, and in a manner most conducive to the end in view, he might be allowed to doubt. The Rev. Mr. Osborne had been referred to on this subject. He was an honourable and excellent gentleman; but he did not differ in politics so much from the Member for Wolverhampton as he supposed; and it was somewhat remarkable, that during the long reign of that party in power which agreed with that hon. and rev. Gentleman, Mr. Osborne, against whose character he would not state anything derogatory, did not publish anything on the subject referred to. He had had occasion previously to state to that gentleman, in his presence, at a public meeting, that in one of his publications there were very great inaccuracies. With respect to some of the worst cases of those cottages, which had been made the subject of animadversion, they had been old poor houses, and the Commissioners told the parishioners to sell them, or otherwise dispose of them, but no rate could be levied to repair them—that was one of the 942 evils arising from the New Poor Law; and with every wish to uphold that law, he was of opinion, that there should be great changes in it before it could be adapted to the circumstances of the county he represented—a county which certainly had suffered more than it gained by the adoption of that law. He would request the hon. Members for Stockport and Durham to learn the real nature of the property in question, before they made such sweeping charges as they had made that night. It often happened that where a village nominally belonged to a landlord, he had no right whatever to a great proportion of it. In Dorsetshire a system of life leases had been universal; and, although worn out, with respect to farms, it was not so with respect to cottages. The village in which he resided had been, whether by time hon. Member for Stockport or the hon. Member for Durham he knew not, but, at all events, it had been brought into a very prominent point in geography compared with what it used to hold in these kingdoms; it had now, by the literary labours of themselves, or of some of their allies, attained some degree of celebrity. It had been stated, that in this village there were to be found a number of cottages very good, and also a number excessively bad. And this was perfectly true. The writer intended this statement, no doubt, as an attack upon him, but he had missed his aim, because, in point of fact, the good cottages were his, and the bad were not. He had wished to purchase the bad cottages, but had not been able to do so, and this was the real state of the case with regard to this village. He contended, that it was most unfair to say, that the landowners were in all cases responsible for the present condition of the poor, inasmuch as they had in many cases no power to remedy that condition; and, without showing that they possessed such a power, it was both cruel and unjust to fix upon them such an imputation—an imputation which, if they had the power of applying a remedy, and did not exercise it, he admitted would be just. The hon. Member for Lambeth had defied any one to name, not a class, but any individual, who had been injured by free-trade, and he accepted the challenge. He would name not an individual, but a whole class, who had been ruined by the adoption of free-trade principles—and that was the class of hand-loom silk manufacturers of London. Time evidence before the Committee which sat on the subject in the year 1831 or 32, of which he was a member, and before 943 which Committee the hon. Member for Bolton took a prominent part, proved the ruinous effect of free-trade legislation on a once prospering branch of manufacture. And it was no satisfactory answer to him, and certainly no consolation to those who suffered, to be told that this manufacture never ought to have been established. Here, then, was a large class whose industry had been ruined by the effects of free-trade; but, without such an instance to guide him with respect to the admission or non-admission of foreign corn, he could only say, that he was prepared to give his support to the protection which the present laws gave to the agriculture of this country. He had already stated the reasons which should induce him to oppose the present Motion, and he supposed it was brought forward in its present shape, because, otherwise, it would not have been possible to have obtained for it the support of advocates of a fixed duty, and of no duty at all. These parties, no doubt, found the shape in which the Motion had been brought forward a convenient one. For his own part, however, he should give it his most decided opposition.
§ Mr. Bright
said, that when his hon. Friend who had introduced this motion sat down, he felt convinced, that if party feeling could be driven out of that House for a single evening, there would be an unanimous assent to his proposal. He believed that his hon. Friend's statements were perfectly accurate—that they were altogether unanswerable; but whatever the fate of the motion might be in the House, he was well assured of the reception it would have in the country. He should not have risen, had it not been for the speeches which had been made since his hon. Friend's; and yet there was really a great difficulty in finding anything in them which had touched the question before the House. Nothing was more reasonable than that an inquiry should take place whether the Corn Laws, or protective duties generally, were beneficial to the tenant-farmers and to the farm-labourers of this country. Now, it was quite true that the question of sugar and of coffee, and it might be of timber and other articles, might come under the consideration of such a Committee; but he owned that the main object was to show the effect upon these two classes of his countrymen, and the operation of that law which was passed avowedly to give those two classes protection. The importance of this inquiry was admitted by all. Hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that a repeal of the Corn. Laws 944 would produce great disasters to the agriculture of this country, and to all connected with agricultural pursuits; and out of doors, whilst some thought with him, others, and it might be the majority of the tenant-farmers and of the owners of land, joined in those fears. He and his friends, however, believed, on the contrary, that the prosperity of the country depended upon the adoption of the principle of free-trade; they believed that to be the only just and true principle on which the Government of this country could be carried on. Were there none out of doors who thought with them? Let them not think because in that House they were few in number, that they were few everywhere else. The principle he advocated was espoused by millions. If they wanted proof of this he would give it. Deputations had waited on the Government, not from the manufacturing districts only. 500 deputies had asked the Government to consider this question. Petitions had been presented to that House, in one year, signed by 500,000, by a million the next, by a million and a half the third, and by two or three millions the fourth; but all these Petitions were cared little about. There was a subscription some four or five years ago of 5,000l. to the funds of the Anti-Corn-Law League. That subscription rose in the second year to 12,000l., in the third year to 50,000l., and in this year the League-fund was rapidly approaching 100,000l. This proved nothing as to the truth of the principle, but it showed the growing feeling which pervaded all classes in this country. Hon. Gentlemen charged them with inciting the population to violence and insurrectionary movements, and one Gentleman, who was Member for Warwickshire and a magistrate of that county, as he had heard, had stated in that House, and he had certainly stated at two meetings, that he could prove charges against them, and that facts had come to his knowledge, and of which, as a magistrate, he was cognizant, which showed the guilt of some men who were connected with the League. If, as a magistrate, the hon. Member knew these facts, he (Mr. Bright) said, that he was an accessory to the facts and to the crime if he had concealed them from the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. It would have been much more becoming in him as a magistrate and a Member of Parliament, possessing this information, to have given it to the Government, than to have made these charges at meetings, a which only one party was pre- 945 sent, and at which only one party was allowed to be heard. It might be that he and his friends excited the people; he never denied that they did excite, and they should continue to excite the people. The pamphlet which had been quoted of the Rev. G. Osborne, threw a little insight into what was meant by the charge of exciting the people. It was there stated:—On the other hand, the agricultural labourer has been restrained by every possible means, discouraged in every possible way from any attempt to set forth the grievances of his condition; nay, further than this, does he find a friend in any Gentleman in his own neighbourhood, who may seek to bring to light any act of injustice or oppression towards him, that friend is immediately met on all sides with remonstrances against what is called 'setting the men against the masters,' with, in many instances, serious expostulations on the danger of driving the labourers to acts of violence.No man could go into the manufacturing or to the agricultural districts of this country, and address any multitude of people, however mild might be his language—if he told the truth, and if he pointed out how those sufferings were caused by the acts of that House—but he must excite discontent. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would tell him of any evil which had met with a remedy till discontent had been excited, there might be a prospect of removing this evil, although he and others might remain at home, and cease to agitate upon such topics as these. He and his Friends charged Gentlemen opposite with gross exaggeration, and with wrong-doing, for the most part, with their knowledge. He was not satisfied with their policy, and their own minds were unsettled with respect to it. He found, that at a recent meeting at York, held for the defence of protection, one gentleman spoke of the fatal bias of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, who was believed to be favourable to free trade, and was not to be trusted, whilst it was acknowledged on all hands, that the agricultural interest could not be surprised at anything which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Queen's Government might do. How, then, was this question to be settled? All that his hon. Friend asked was, for a fair inquiry, and there could be no tribunal more fair than that proposed by his hon. Friend. He was not anxious that members of the League should be members of that tribunal; he was willing that there should be a majority of hon. Members opposite, and the witnesses to be examined should be the 946 landowners and the farmers of the country. His hon. Friend's case was based on facts and experience; that of his opponents, on anticipation of future evils if the Corn Laws were abolished. He was prepared to show that the Corn Laws, since 1815, had been a continual fraud on the farmers of this country. In 1815, they were told that corn would be 80s. a quarter. The evidence given before the Committee of 1814, was, that if prices went below 80s. it would be ruinous to cultivation. From 1815 to 1841 or 1842, the average price of wheat had not been more than 60s. a quarter: yet that had been the time during which leases had been taken. The hon. Member for Wiltshire had declared that he did not believe the rents could be paid if prices were not higher. Although the average price had only been 59s., the rent of land had increased; it was said, also, that land would be thrown out of cultivation, whereas more land had been brought into cultivation; and it was further said, that the labourer would be thrown out of employ, which could not be the fact if more land had been brought into cultivation. Every prophecy of the agricultural soothsayers of 1814 had been unfulfilled, and he might argue from this, with regard to their future prophecies, that they would not be worth more than the past. He had before him a short report made to an agricultural society at Barnstaple in 1821, in which it was said:—That the Act of Parliament passed in the 55th year of the reign of His late Majesty has not answered the intention of the Parliament that passed it, inasmuch as it was generally conceived at the time of enactment, that the effect of the law would be, to secure to the grower of corn a price of 80s. a quarter for wheat, 43s. for barley, and 27s. for oats, on the average crop; whereas the crop of last year scarcely, if at all, exceeded an average one, and the present prices of grain are now but little more than half those contemplated to be afforded by the Act.He could show that the farmers did believe that Act would give them a price of 80s. a quarter. He need not go fully into their prophecies in other matters, which had been equally well verified. It was prophesied of wool as it was now prophesied of corn. Every prophecy had been falsified by the event, and the wool farmer of this country acknowledged that for many years past they had been more prosperous than the cultivators of wheat. He presumed that there was one point on which all were agreed, that the Corn Laws were not passed to benefit trade—that the mer- 947 chants of Liverpool and the manufacturers of Leeds were not benefited by them. But if they were prejudicial to the manufacturers and the merchants, they must in the long run be prejudicial to the farmers. When they talked of seven-ninths of the population as agriculturists, where did they get their information? He might ask, where did they live? Such proportions existed only in hon. Members' imaginations. He knew not why the Census Returns had not been as yet placed on the Table. If they were, he should be able to prove that the tenant-farmers were not more than one per cent. of the whole population, and he ventured to say that the farm labourers engaged in the cultivation of wheat were not more than one per cent. He was not speaking of the whole agricultural labourers. It was a statement which be could not prove till the Returns were on the Table, and then hon. Gentlemen might satisfy their curiosity, and see whether he was right or wrong in his estimate. What was the condition of the tenant-farmers and of the farm-labourers? They had had the Corn Laws during the last thirty years, and yet the result had been as appalling as had been stated that evening without contradiction. He advised hon. Gentlemen who went to agricultural meetings, not to continue this deception. They might themselves be the victims of deception. He found one of the Members for Haddingtonshire stated, that wheat, under a system of free-trade, could be sold in this country for 20s. a quarter. If this were true, it was only a proof of a greater wrong done to their country; but it was not true, and the hon. Member must have been profoundly ignorant, or something worse, when he made that statement. Then the hon. Member for Peebleshire had turned a great prophet, and at another great meeting, after saying this, that, and the other would happen, he had said nothing of any benefit that accrued to the farmers by the present system. Then the hon. Member for the borough of Haddington had made some most extraordinary revelations with respect to the operations of the Corn Laws. He said that—The farmers, so long as they are protected, will spend their money largely in the employment of labour, and they will pay high wages, and they will not confine themselves to labour, for they will increase generally in their means of expenditure. They will find out new luxuries, and they will thus spend their money among the tradesmen in the towns, so that the prosperity of all classes will be insured through 948 the reasonable demand of the agriculturists for protection.What was this but asserting that when they had overtaxed him for the food they had supplied, they would buy a larger quantity of his goods, whereas, they were buying his goods with his own property. There were other expressions betraying great carelessness on the part of hon. Members who uttered them. At a meeting holden at Framlingham in East Suffolk, it was said that the object of the free-traders "was to bring down the price of labour in this country to the level of the wages paid on the Continent." He had, he believed, undisputed authority for saying that the three gentlemen who sat at Somerset-house and who were not supposed to overflow with the milk of human kindness, could not discover any mode by which they could keep a man in health without going to a greater expense than a labourer could afford at his own home. Was there anything worse than this on any part of the Continent? If the hon. Member for Kircudbrightshire were in the House he would call his attention to what was told him recently by a large farmer in that county—that for a nineteen-feet drain, thirty inches deep, and eighteen inches wide, through a hard soil, the party finding spade, hammer, pick-axe, and crowbar, he would pay only a sum of three pence and it would be a good day's work if a labourer could cut four of them in a day and earn 1s. The effect of this was very certain. He would take only an extract from The Times of February 14, in which it was thus stated:—The village of Charlton-on-Otmoor, situate within a few miles of Oxford, has latterly been the scene of several very lawless proceedings. Some of the labourers, for want of employment, have been driven to the Bicester Union Workhouse, which has caused a great deal of excitement and dissatisfaction in the minds of those remaining. Seven, of the respectable inhabitants have had their windows broken; and on the night of the 26th of January three ploughs were destroyed, by cutting them to pieces. Each plough belonged to a different farmer of the village. A paper was left on one of them, with the following written on it;—'A full belly does not know what an empty one feels.'And he hoped that hon. Gentlemen who were accustomed to feed well, and to partake of many more luxuries than were perhaps conducive to health, instead of considering this question as one of party would ask themselves whether it were not their duty to apply a remedy to the discontent 949 which existed in Scotland, which had found place in Wales, which had spread itself through the southern counties of England, and in a still more terrible form in the country with respect to which there had recently been great discussion. A gentleman, who, at a former Buckinghamshire meeting, had declared that the peasantry rejoiced in potatoes, had more recently declared, that "there was now no cry from the labour market in the rural districts; that the people were employed, and that provisions were cheap." But he had before him a letter, written by a clergyman of Bicester, to this Dr. Marsham, which gave an account of several families he had visited, and whose income was far less for the whole week than many hon. Members of that House spent uselessly in a day. In one case the man had a wife and five children, his wages were 9s. a week, and deducting house rent and coals there remained 1s. 0¼d per head per week for each of the family. In another case, the wages, deducting coals, allowed 10½d. each per week for a family of eight persons. In another case, a man had a wife and a large family, and was out of work. He need not enter into the particulars of their sufferings; suffice it to say, the wife, who worked at lace making, when she was visited by a member of the clergyman's family, was found to want the means to purchase fuel, and was sitting in bed at noon-day to keep herself warm, and continuing her work. This clergyman also stated,I have just called upon two families, who are in a state of great destitution and wretchedness. The men are able and willing to work, but they cannot get employment. They were boiling turnips for dinner, and had nothing else which they could eat. Think, sir, of two families, or fourteen persons, dining on boiled turnips. Your 'oatmeal and potatoes' would be a welcome meal to them! I have just met another able-bodied man, who has a wife and five children; he has been out of work for sixteen weeks. His daily and only employment is to stand in the streets watching to see if any person will employ him to carry coals into the coal-house.He added that many of the houses he visited had next to no furniture; "how the poor creatures live is to me a mystery." And so it would be, he believed, to any one else. The hon. Member for Berkshire was in the House, and he found in a paper with which he was connected the following statement of the poverty in Wiltshire:—The poverty of the labourer, arising from a bad system of farming, is lamentable to con- 950 template; they only, who have been masters of well-paid labourers, as well as of men who only receive the miserable pittance of 7s. or 8s. per week, can fully appreciate the advantages to be derived by making work as plentiful here as in other parts of the kingdom. The injuriousness of a system that creates so little labour is most apparent by a comparison of the different states of the labourer in the north and the south of England. In every respect the Wiltshire labourer has the disadvantage; most of his necessary wants are dearer; land is generally let to him at a higher rate than to the farmer; his house often comfortless and confined, even to indecency; his wages barely sufficient to find his family with food.He would not trouble the House with many more extracts. He would quote one, a report of the Ashenden Petty Sessions, on Monday, January 19;—Present, T. T, Bernard and John Stone Esqrs., and the Rev. Thomas Martyn.—Charles Godfrey, a young married man of Brill, was charged by Mr. Richard Mumford steward to C. S. Ricketts, Esq., with having, on the 2nd of January, at Dorton, cut a branch from a maiden ash tree, the property of Mrs. Elizabeth Sophia Ricketts. Joseph Guntrip, gamekeeper to Mr. Ricketts, proved the offence. Godfrey did not deny the charge. He said he knew the wood was not his, but he was without firing. Coal was 1s. 8d. per cwt. at Brill. He had asked his employer to fetch him some from the wharf, and to stop 1s. a week for it, but he would not do so. He was only paid 6s. per week for his work, out of which he had to provide all. His wife was expecting to be confined every hour.It would have been thought, that this intimation would have had some effect upon the magistrates with a clergyman amongst them, but—The Bench said, if such offences as this, cutting a maiden ash twig, were allowed to go unpunished, there would soon be an end to the rights of property. Convicted; ordered to pay 1s. damage, 10s. fine, and 16s. costs—in default of payment, one month's imprisonment: The Bench offered to give the prisoner time to pay the money, but he said it was impossible for him to pay it. He was consequently committed.When they found such needless hardships as these inflicted on a man who earned but 6s. a week by his labour, and who was sent for four weeks to gaol for a crime so trifling, at a time when his wife was about to suffer the greatest trial to which her sex could be exposed, he considered it a scandal to every man in court, and to the Legislature which could allow such scenes to take place. He must say that such a punishment was a reproach to the man who punish- 951 ed him, and to the Legislature that allowed it to take place. What could they expect from that man when he came out of gaol? Now, to speak for a moment of the farmers, and he would not have done so but that he had a document which his hon. Friend, the Member for Stockport, had intended to have alluded to, but had forgotten. It was a statistical abstract of fifty farms contiguous to each other, without any omission, within a circumference of about eighteen miles, taking Burlesdonbridge as a centre, showing the names of farms and their owners, the occupiers whether as owners or renters in the year 1815, their fate and that of their families, with the names of the occupiers in 1843, comprising the twenty-eight years of Corn Law protection, passed for the avowed purpose of securing steady and remunerative prices. Ten of these tenants were dead, and their children had become labourers upon the parishes; nine more tenants were sold up and beggared; four left their farms, of whom two died poor, one was now living in reduced circumstances, and the other died by his own hand. Of the remainder, a few were still occupying their farms, whose circumstances were not stated. Ten only of the fifty tenants were known to have prospered. Here were facts which might be denied if they were deniable. He would hand any hon. Gentleman present a copy of this statement, and if there were any Member connected with Hampshire present, he might have these facts and investigate them, and he could bring statements as appalling as this from other parts of the country, to show that it was desirable to inquire whether the Corn Laws were not at the bottom of the evils which the agricultural classes had for so long a time been suffering. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire had complimented his hon. Friend near him upon the altered tone in which he had spoken. He was not in the House when that hon. Member, on a former occasion, had spoken with respect to his own favourite, he would not say pattern, county, but he did not then get up and deny the statements made with respect to that county. It was fortunate that the report was before the House, although the production of it reflected discredit on some party. When a Commission went down to inquire into the state of the handloom weavers and other classes, there was unlimited time given for them to prosecute their inquiries, and for the Commissioners to go to the furthest end of the island nearly, and come back again and go 952 into neighbourhoods entirely unconnected with the objects of the Commission. But with respect to the Commission of Inquiry into the state of the agricultural population, the sending of that Commission afforded good ground to believe that the authors of it were more disposed that the inquiry should he slurred over, than that there should be a thorough and searching investigation. The right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, if he had anything to answer for in this matter, was doubly culpable, inasmuch as he was the representative of the principal town of the county about which so much had been said. If he had known as much of the effects of the Corn Laws in that county, he would not have finished a speech with a peroration imputing everything bad and black to the manufacturing districts, and representing the agricultural districts as manifesting everything that was desirable on earth. If protection had not benefited Dorsetshire, he could not see that it had benefited Lincolnshire, which was certainly in a better position, but Lincolnshire had fortunately possessed some landowners who were men of ordinary sense and enterprise, and they had done just that which the Anti-Corn Law League wished to do for the manufacturing districts; they had endeavoured to turn their property to the best advantage. They had cultivated it well—they had reclaimed districts, which, thirty or forty years ago, were sterile and barren; they had given every encouragement to lay out capital; they had trusted their farmers, and their farmers had trusted them. It always gave him pain to hear any landowner or farmer attribute the prosperity of Lincolnshire to the Corn Laws, when, in fact, it was only due to the intelligence of the gentlemen and farmers of the county. It was not owing to protection, or else why had not protection done the same for Dorsetshire? The latter county had a population of 168,013 persons. At the Michaelmas quarter of 1843, the number of persons relieved from the Poor Rates in that county was 19,821, or about one-eighth of the whole population. He would ask the hon. Member for Dorsetshire what he could say to that? He was sorry that the noble Lord the other Member for that county had not remained, after hearing the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, to take part in the discussion. It further appeared that, in ten years, the increase of the population of that county, if it continued in the same ratio as at present, would be 23,500. If 953 there were no more farms than now, he would ask him where the sons of the farmers would obtain farms, and where the sons of the peasant labourers could obtain employment ten years hence? This was not a question of party, and the Government ought to consider it of more importance than merely consulting the interests of a certain class. Nature was against them, and before long this question must be settled, and in the only way in which it could be, that which the Anti-Corn-Law League now proposed. A supporter of this present Corn Law, on being asked if he thought that the present Corn Law would last for ever, said no; it must be repealed when the pressure became strong enough. What was the meaning of that? When pauperism had gone on increasing from one-eighth to one-sixth, and one-fourth, and when, not only distress and want of employment stared them in the face in the manufacturing districts, but when the present murmurs of the agricultural districts had become a storm before which they would quail and tremble, then they would repeal the Corn Laws. Was it not better now, while they had a chance of doing it with something like grace, to repeal them, than to let the repeal be extorted from them, as it must inevitably be at last, and then there would be small thanks due to them for having given it. What would the hon. Member for Dorset-shire do with this population some years hence? Would he tell them to emigrate to the surrounding counties? But were not the other counties in the same condition, and would the hon. Member tell them to go down to Lancashire, to that dull, manufacturing portion of the country, of which the right hon. Baronet had spoken? Were they to go down to that county, where it was said more cruelties were practised than upon the Poles who were sent from Russia to Siberia? They could not come to the manufacturing districts for they had stopped the demand for labour there. The trade of these districts, by the Corn Laws especially, by the Sugar Laws secondly, and by other monopolies, was crippled, and when they came to that House and asked that those evils should be remedied, they had on a former occasion the plea of slavery, and on that occasion they had from the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade a speech, the most extraordinary that he had ever heard, and it must be a bad case, indeed, when the right hon. Gentleman could not make a better speech in defence of it. An attempt was made to mystify the speech 954 of his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, and it was said he wanted a Committee to inquire into the peculiar burthens falling upon land. He wanted no such thing; he wanted to prove that the Corn Laws sacrificed the interests of the farmers more than any other class. On almost every conceivable question they had a Committee, and on this question, if they thought that the evidence would be in favour of the Corn Laws, they would have a Committee also. They had a Committee on agricultural distress in 1836, and the evidence was so much against this law that the Committee dared not report such evidence, because the result would have been a call upon that House to take steps for the abolition of that protection which was ruining the tenant farmers and the labourers. The manufacturers had come to that House to tell them the state of the manufacturing population in former years, and they would have to come with darker tales of woe whenever there came another year or two of deficient harvests. He asked the House, whether they granted a Committee or not, did they believe that the Corn Laws could be maintained? Did hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, who had such a fatal bias towards free-trade, could be so forgetful of the interests of his country as to persevere in the maintenance of this law, or that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, who had, as it were, sprung from trade, upon which his family had thriven, would stake his credit as a statesman in the continuance of a law which was laughed at by all intelligent men abroad, which all men of business abhorred, and which was becoming a subject of intense hatred to a large portion of the intelligent classes of this country. He had no doubt that the right hon. Baronet would refuse the Committee, and that hon. Members opposite would vote with him; but he should like to know the question which could be proposed in which they would not vote with him. But did they bear in mind that the time was soon coming when his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport and himself would again take their tour throughout the rural districts of this country? They would go to the farmers and tell them that their Landlords had called them together, not for the purpose of asking the Government for relief from the distress which existed amongst them, but for the purpose of asking the Government to keep them precisely as they were. They would tell the farmers that they dared 955 not complain to that House that they were distressed—and why? because the free-trade question took so much hold upon the public mind, that if they came there to complain of agricultural distress, the whole country would laugh at their efforts to relieve it without getting rid of the Corn Laws. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not find a tax the removal of which would relieve the agricultural interest, and he could give no more protection, for during the years they had had it, ruin and calamity had spread over the whole country. They would say further, that their landlords had told them that in the agricultural districts they had exclusive burthens to bear. The hon. Member for Sheffield made a Motion in that House, that these burthens should be inquired into, which was refused. Why, they would not even tell their griefs. The fact was, they had no case. He would not say behind their backs those things which he would not say to their faces, and he acknowledged that he did not always speak in the most complimentary terms of them. He repeated that they had no case, or they would have given the hon. Member for Sheffield a Committee, and when that hon. Member again brought the subject before the House, he had no doubt but that it would share the same fate. They might tell the farmers that they had asked for a Committee to demonstrate to the whole country, out of the mouths of the farmers and labourers themselves, that the Corn Laws benefited only the landowners, and did not advance the interest of any class in this country but the class who depended on the rent of land. They would tell them that the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade got up, and after talking about anything else but the Motion before the House, stated that the Government could not grant an inquiry, and that hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Benches followed him, and stated also that from one cause or another they could not grant the inquiry. His hon. Friend the Member for Stockport would not have brought forward his Motion if some one on the other side of the House would have done so. Why did not the hon. Member for Dorsetshire do it? Why was the report on the condition of the agricultural labourers so long before the House, and not one man had brought the subject forward? He should be ashamed to call himself a Representative of the agricultural interest in that House, if he had allowed that report to have lain on the Table for nearly twelve Months, 956 and not have brought the subject before the notice of the country. Now, he thought that the case was clear as it stood, that there was only one way in which this question could be carried, and that was by making it thoroughly known to the country. When they exposed the bad principles of this law, they exposed also the most unwise policy of the Agricultural Members of that House; and passing from county to county, and town to town, the constituents of this Empire should know that the landowners sat in that House, if they did not do so with an express desire and design, yet they did sit there resisting any attempt, however small, to affect the price of the produce of land, with determined opposition, and maintaining a law the object of which was to prevent a reduction of rent, and when millions throughout the country asked for an inquiry into the subject, they did not hesitate to vote as if they were a corporation sitting there to support their own interests, and keep up the rent of land.
rose in consequence of certain observations which had been made in the House of Commons and elsewhere, upon his having stated that the Anti-Corn Law League had been connected with the disturbances of 1842 in North Warwickshire, and in reply to the hon. Member for Durham, who said that he (Mr. Newdigate) ought, as a Magistrate, if possessed of sufficient evidence, to have instituted a prosecution against the League. He begged to state that he had not done so, because he had been acting as junior magistrate with the then acting Lord Lieutenant of the county (Lord Aylesford), who was in constant communication with the Home Office, and cognizant of the facts to which he had alluded. The hon. Member for Durham said, he (Mr. Newdigate) had made the charge of fomenting the North Warwickshire disturbances, in an exclusive meeting. He (Mr. Newdigate) had merely repeated in the statement complained of, what he had before stated in the House of Commons, when the leading members of the League were in their places opposing the Chelsea Pensioners' Bill in a factious minority of eight, which measure he deemed essential for the safety of the county which he represented. He would read the passage in his speech at Warwick, of which the hon. Member complained.Thus do I believe the origin, the extent, and the wealth, of the League may be accounted for, and with respect to its effect upon thin county in particular, I will merely repeat 957 what I have stated in the House of Commons, that from my personal experience as a Magistrate, I have reason to believe that that most dangerous Association, by its doctrines, its funds, and its agents, was mainly instrumental in fomenting those disturbances, which somewhat more than a year since obstructed the trade, interrupted the industry, and threatened the peace of a large district in the Northern division, by setting those classes at variance, whose interests are identical, and which would otherwise have remained happily connected.The hon. Member complained that the names of the Leaguers to whom in particular he (Mr. Newdigate) had alluded, were not produced; when on a former occasion he (Mr. Newdigate) had been asked for these names in the House, the hon. Member himself Mr. Bright looked so uneasy that he (Mr. Newdigate) thought it right to specify that be did not allude to the hon. Member. The hon. Member for Bolton had asked him to give these names, but he had told the hon. Member that he was bound not to do so, which was the case; but he did not feel bound not to describe the parties. The hon. Member for Durham suggested the possibility that the parties be (Mr. Newdigate) alluded to, might not have been connected with the League; that body had a convenient way of avoiding responsibility by not publishing the names of its executive or officers. When application was made for a list of such persons in Manchester and at the London office of the League circular, on his (Mr. Newdigate's) part, the answer was, that the list was kept by the Council, and was not to be divulged; he (Mr. Newdigate) had however, one small list containing 1,500 names, which had been published by the League, as their 100,000l. fund Committee list, to which he would hereafter draw the attention of the House. He would now state to the House, as evidence bearing on the connection of the League with the disturbances of 1842, that in the Coventry Herald of July 22nd, 1842, two letters appeared as part of the proceedings of the Anti-Corn-law Conference, the first was dated Coventry, July 14th 1842, and was to the following effect:—
§ "My dear Sir,—I thank you for your communication; I think you will have another delegation from Coventry, but not for Repeal only. The people here are ripe for a struggle. We have to-day presented a requisition to the Mayor, at short notice, to call a meeting to consider the state of the country. He has done so, and we meet on Tuesday. Our measures are not resolved upon, hut we cannot keep the 958 people back; and I think we had better give the reins in favour of democracy. Do urge upon the League the propriety and policy of leading the people. We want but leaders, and we will do anything and everything, but the masses will not restrict their efforts to Corn-law Repeal—our language will be, denunciation of the aristocracy and class legislation, and defiance to the present House of Commons. I shall be glad of the latest information from head quarters, that our measures may be in harmony if possible: will you write on Monday night? Above all impress upon the delegates, that if they want the people at their back, they must take up the Suffrage Question, without that their efforts are hopeless, and the people will throw themselves upon more daring and reckless leaders,
§ "I am your's truly,
§ "T. S. WHITTEM."
§ And he (Mr. Newdigate) would ask who the House supposed this Mr. Whittem was?—he was the present Mayor of Coventry. The other letter read at the Anti-Corn-Law Conference was as follows:—
§ "Dear Sir,—I have deferred replying to yours of the 12th ult., in order that I might send you the result of the exertions which were being made to get up a public meeting. From the enclosed hand-bills, you will see that we have met with a most signal success. It is signed by some of the most influential men in the town. The Mayor has agreed to preside; the universal cry is what is to be done next; all seem to agree upon the necessity of taking some decisive course. Why do not the League at once declare their belief in the utter hopelessness of obtaining justice from the aristocracy, and their determination to assist with all their power in agitating the complete Suffrage Question? Purify the Commons, let them be in reality the representatives of the people; they have been so nominally long enough, all parties are tired of their misrule. The Commons House must be made democratic, the spirit of the age demands it; starving thousands demand it. Distress here is increasing; the people are growing exasperated; the aristocracy are drawing down upon themselves the vengeance of injured millions. Let them beware in time ere it is too late; We expect to send one or more deputies up from the meeting.
§ "I am, dear Sir, your's truly,
§ "J. B. BROWETT.
§ "P. A. Taylor, Esq:, jun."
§ Both these names appeared on the list of the 100,000l. Fund Committee of the Anti-Corn-law League. He would now call the attention of the House to the dates connected with those circumstances. Mr. Whittem's letter was dated 14th July, 1842, it was read by the Chairman of the Anti-Corn-law Conference on the 18th of 959 that month. The meeting to which those letters referred took place on the 19th, they were published in the Coventry Herald on the 22nd; and the disturbances in North Warwickshire began on the 29th and 30th seven days subsequent to the publication of those letters. There were three persons whose names he must not produce, all of whom could be identified as Leaguers, who were most active during the disturbances. One of these persons, whose connection with the League the hon. Member doubted, and who took a leading part in supplying the agitators and strangers connected with them whilst in Warwickshire, was elected League delegate from Coventry on January 26, 1842, in the Town Hall of Birmingham, and spoke in that capacity at the Crown and Anchor, on the 9th of February, of that year, and had done so subsequently in several other places; some of his speeches were reported. He (Mr. Newdigate) would only further state, that it appeared in the report of the proceedings of the meeting held in Coventry, on the 19th of July, 1842, that one of the persons connected with the Anti-Corn-law League appealed to the Chartists then present, that they ought not to interrupt the adoption of the resolutions to which they had agreed the night previous, or that they would become liable to the imputation of bad faith. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. Newdigate) appealed to the House, whether the observations with reference to the Anti-Corn-law League which he had made last Session in that House, and subsequently repeated at Warwick, were not justified?
§ Dr. Bowring
was only desirous of uttering a sentence or two. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had brought forward a very grave charge against the Anti-Corn-Law League. He had stated that they had sent forth incendiaries amongst the people to whom might be attributed the attacks upon property. In his place in the House he had requested the hon. Member to name the parties to whom he attributed these gross misdemeanours, but the hon. Member objected to do so. He had also spoken to him privately and stated, that, connected as he was with the Anti-Corn-Law League, he was desirous of ascertaining whether any individual connected with that body had committed this offence; but the hon. Member still refused to name the parties. The hon. Member now said, that he could not get at the names of the council who 960 composed the Anti-Corn-Law League. There could be no difficulty in doing so. If he subscribed 50l. he might himself be admitted.
§ Mr. W. O. Stanley
said, that although he was neither a Leaguer nor an Anti-Leaguer, he felt bound to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport. He had listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, and after the temperate manner in which he had stated his arguments, he felt that he could not refuse an enquiry which was called for on such strong grounds. He considered that if the Corn Laws could not stand the test of such an enquiry as was called for at the hands of intelligent men, they were no longer entitled to the support which he had hitherto given them. By Returns which could not be disputed, he found, in the county which he represented, one sixth of the population were receiving parish relief, and the labourers were receiving most inadequate wages. Whilst this was the case, though he disagreed from much that had been done by the Anti-Corn-Law League. he should most cheerfully give his support to the present Motion.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 224: Majority 91.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acheson, Visct.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Currie, R.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Dalrymple, Capt.|
|Aldam, W.||Dawson, hn. T. V.|
|Bannerman, A.||Dennistoun, J.|
|Barclay, D.||Divett, E.|
|Baring, rt. hn. F. T.||Duff, J.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Berkeley, hn. C.||Duncan, G.|
|Berkeley, hn. Capt.||Duncannon, Visct.|
|Bernal, R.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Bernal, Capt.||Easthope, Sir J.|
|Blake, M. J.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Blake, Sir V.||Ellice E.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Ellis, W.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Evans, W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Ewart, W.|
|Browne, hn. W.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Buller, E.||Forster, M.|
|Busfeild, W.||Fox, C. R.|
|Butler, P. S.||Gibson, T. M.|
|Cavendish, hn. G. H.||Gill, T.|
|Chapman, B.||Gisborne, T.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Colborne, hn. W. N.R.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Ball, Sir B.|
|Collins, W.||Hastie, A.|
|Cowper, hn W. F.||Hatton, Capt. V.|
|Craig, W. G.||Hawes, B.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Rice, E. R.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Roche, E. B.|
|Hill, Lord M||Ross, D. R.|
|Hindley, C.||Scholefield, J.|
|Hollond, R.||Scott, R.|
|Horsman, E.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Howard, hn. C. W.G.||Seymour, Lord|
|Howard, Lord||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Howick, Visct.||Smith, rt. hn. R. V.|
|Hume, J.||Standish, C.|
|Hutt, W.||Stanley, hn. W. O.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Langston, J. H.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Leader, J. T.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Stock, Mr. Serjeant|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Strutt, E.|
|Marshall, W.||Tancred, H. W:|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Thorneley, T.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Towneley, J.|
|Morris, D.||Trelawney, J. S.|
|Morison, Gen.||Tufnell, H.|
|Morrison, J.||Tuite, H. M.|
|Murray, A.||Turner, E.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Villiers, hn. C.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Vivian, J. H.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Wakley, T.|
|Ord, W.||Walker, R.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Wall, C. B.|
|Pattison, J.||Wallace, R.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Warburton, H.|
|Philips, G. R.||Ward, H. G.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Protheroe, E.||Williams, W.|
|Pulsford, R.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Cobden, R.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Bright, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Brooke, Sir A. B.|
|Acland, T. D.||Bruce, Lord E.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Bruges, W. H. L.|
|Allix, J. P.||Buck, L. W.|
|Antrobus, E.||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Arbuthnott, hn. H.||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Arkwright, G.||Castlereagh, Visct.|
|Astell, W.||Charteris, hn. F.|
|Bagot, hn. W.||Chetwode, Sir J.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Baillie, Col.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Collett, W. R.|
|Bankes, G.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Baring, hn. W. B.||Compton, H. C.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Corry, rt. hn. H.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Cresswell, B.|
|Beckett, W.||Cripps, W.|
|Bell, M.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Darner, hn. Col.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Darby, G.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Borthwick, P.||Dawnay, hn. W. H.|
|Botfield, B.||Denison, E. B.|
|Bradshaw, J.||Dickenson, F. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Dodd, G.|
|Broadley, H.||Douglas, Sir H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Lawson, A.|
|Dowdeswell, W.||Lefroy, A.|
|Duffield, T.||Legh, G. C.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Duncombe, hn. A.||Lockhart, W.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Long, W.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Eliot, Lord||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Emlyn, Visct.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Escott, B.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Maclean, D.|
|Fellowes, E.||McNeill, D.|
|Fitzmaurice, hn. W.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Mainwaring, T.|
|Fox, S. L.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Gardner, J. D.||March, Earl of|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Marsham, Visct.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Martin, C. W.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Marton, G.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Masterman, J.|
|Gordon, hn. Capt.||Maxwell, hon. J.|
|Gore, M.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Miles, W.|
|Goring, C.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Morgan, O.|
|Granby, Marg. Of||Mundy, E. M.|
|Greenaway, C.||Neeld, J.|
|Greene, T.||Neville, R.|
|Grimstone, Visct.||Newdigate, C. N.|
|Grogan, E.||Newport, Visct.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Norreys, Lord|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Heathcoate, Sir W.||Palmer, R.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Henley, J. W.||Peel, J.|
|Henniker, Lord||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Herbert, hn. S.||Polhill, F.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Pollington, Visct.|
|Hodgson, F.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Hodgson, R.||Praed, W. T.|
|Holmes, hon. W. A'C.||Pringle, A.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Hope, A.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Hope, G. W.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Hornby, J.||Richards, R.|
|Houldsworth, T.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Hussey, A.||Round, C. G.|
|Hussey, T.||Round, J.|
|Irton, S.||Rous, hon. Capt.|
|James, Sir W. C.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Russell, C.|
|Johnston, Sir J.||Russell, J. D. W.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Ryder, hon. G. D.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sanderson, R.|
|Kemble, R.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Knight, H. G.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Knight, F. W.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Knightly, Sir C.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Smith, A.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Sotheron T. H. S.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Spry, Sir S. T.||Wilbraham, hon. R. B.|
|Stanley, Lord||Williams, T. P.|
|Stanley, E.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Stewart, J.||Wood, Col.|
|Stuart, H.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Sturt, H. C.||Worsley, Lord|
|Sutton, hon. H. M.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Taylor, E.||Wyndham, Col. C.|
|Tennent, J. E.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Thompson, Mr. Ald.||Young, J.|
|Trevor, Hon. G. R.||TELLERS.|
|Trotter, J.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Tyrell, Sir J. T.||Baring, H.|