HC Deb 13 March 1845 vol 78 cc785-881
Mr. Cobden

having presented a petition in favour of his Motion for a Committee of Inquiry, addressed the House as follows:—Sir, I am relieved upon the present occasion from any necessity for apologizing to the other side of the House for the Motion which I am about to submit. It will be in the recollection of hon. Members, that a fortnight before putting this Notice upon the Book, I expressed a hope that the matter would be taken up by some hon. Member opposite. I do not think, therefore, that in reply to any observations that I may have to make upon the question, I shall hear, as I did last year, an observation that the quarter from which this Motion came was suspicious. I may also add, Sir, that I have so framed my Motion as to include in it the objects embraced in both the Amendments which are made to it; I therefore conclude, that having included the hon. Gentlemen's Amendments (Mr. Stafford O'Brien and Mr. Wodehouse), they will not now feel it necessary to press them. Sir, the object of this Motion is to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the present condition of the agricultural interests; and, at the same time, to ascertain how the laws regulating the importation of agricultural produce have affected the agriculturists of this country. As regards the distress among farmers, I presume we cannot go to a higher authority than those hon. Gentlemen who profess to be the farmers' friends and protectors. I find it stated by those hon. Gentlemen who recently paid their respects to the Prime Minister, that the agriculturists are in a state of great embarrassment and distress. I find that one gentleman from Norfolk (Mr. Hudson) stated that the farmers in the county are paying their rents, but paying them out of capital, and not profits. I find Mr. Turner, of Upton, in Devonshire, stating that one-half of the smaller farmers in that county are insolvent, and that the others are rapidly falling into the same condition; that the farmers with larger holdings are quitting their farms with a view of saving the rest of their property: and that, unless some remedial measures be adopted by this House, they will be utterly ruined. The accounts which I have given you of those districts are such as I have had from many other sources, I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether the condition of the farmers in Suffolk, Wiltshire, and Hampshire, is better than that which I have described in Norfolk and Devonshire? I put it to county Members, whether—taking the whole of the south of England, from the confines of Nottinghamshire to the Land's End — whether, as a rule, the farmers are not now in a state of the greatest embarrassment? There may be exceptions; but I put it to them whether, as a rule, that is not their condition in all parts? Then, Sir, according to every precedent in this House, this is a fit and proper time to bring forward the Motion of which I have given notice. I venture to state, that had his Grace of Buckingham possessed a seat in this House, he would have done now what he did when he was Lord Chandos—have moved this Resolution which I am now about to move. The distress of the farmer being admitted, the next question which arises is, what is its cause? I feel a greater necessity to bring forward this Motion for a Committee of Inquiry, because I find great discrepancies of opinion among hon. Gentlemen opposite as to what is the cause of the distress among the farmers. In the first place, there is a discrepancy as to the generality or locality of the existing distress. I find the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government saying that the distress is local; and he moreover says it does not arise from the legislation of this House. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire declares, on the other hand, that the distress is general, and that it does not arise from legislation. I am at a loss to understand what this protection to agriculture means, because I find such contradictory accounts given in this House by the promoters of that system. For instance, nine months ago, when my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton brought forward his Motion for the Abolition of the Corn Laws, the right hon. Gentleman then the President of the Board of Trade, in replying to him, said that the present Corn Law had been most successful in its operations. He took great credit to the Government for the steadiness of price that was obtained under that law. I will read you the quotation, because we find these statements so often controverted. He said,— Was there any man who had supported the law in the year 1842 who could honestly say that he had been disappointed in its workings? Could any one point out a promise or a prediction hazarded in the course of the protracted debates upon the measure, which promise or prediction had been subsequently falsified? Now, recollect that the right hon. Gentleman was speaking when wheat was 56s. per quarter, and that wheat is now 45s. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government now says, "My legislation has had nothing to do with wheat being at 45s. a quarter;" but how are we to get over the difficulty that the responsible Member of Government at the head of the Board of Trade, only nine months ago, claimed merit for the Government having kept up the price of wheat at 56s.? These discrepancies themselves between the Government and its supporters, render it more and more necessary that this question of protection should be inquired into. I ask, what does it mean? The price of wheat is 45s. this day. I have been speaking to the highest authority in England upon this point—one who is often quoted by this House—within the last week, and he tells me, that with another favourable harvest, he thinks it very likely that wheat will be 35s. a quarter. What does this legislation mean, or what does it purport to be, if you are to have prices fluctuating from 56s. down to 35s. a quarter, and probably lower? Can you prevent it by the legislation of this House? That is the question. There is a great delusion spread abroad amongst the farmers; and it is the duty of this House to have that delusion dissipated by inquiring into the matter. Now, there are these very different opinions on the other side of the House; but there are Members upon this side representing very important interests, who think that farmers are suffering because they have this legislative protection. There is all this difference of opinion. Now, is not that a fit and proper subject for your inquiry? I am prepared to go into a Select Committee, and to bring forward evidence to show that the farmers are labouring under great evils—evils that I would connect with the legislation of this House, though they are evils which appear to be altogether dissociated from it. The first great evil under which the farmer labours is the want of capital. No one can deny that. I do not mean at all to disparage the farmers. The farmers of this country are just the same race as the rest of us; and, if they were placed in a similar position, theirs would be as good a trade—I mean that they would be as successful men of business as others—but it is notorious as a rule that the farmers of this country are deficient in capital; and I ask, how can any business be carried on successfully where there is a deficiency of capital? I take it that hon. Gentlemen opposite, acquainted with farming, would admit that 10l. an acre, on an arable farm, would be a sufficient amount of capital for carrying on the business of farming successfully. I will take it, then, that 10l. an acre would be a fair capital for an arable farm. I have made many inquiries upon this subject in all parts of the kingdom, and I give it you as my decided conviction, that at this present moment farmers do not average 5l. an acre capital on their farms. I speak of England, and I take England south of the Trent, though, of course, there are exceptions in every county; there are men of large capital in all parts—men farming their own land; but, taking it as a rule, I hesitate not to give my opinion—and I am prepared to back that opinion by witnesses before your Committee—that, as a rule, farmers have not, upon an average, more than 5l. an acre capital for their arable land. I have given you a tract of country to which I may add all Wales; probably 20,000,000 of acres of cultivable land. I have no doubt whatever, that there are 100,000,000l. of capital wanting upon that land. What is the meaning of farming capital? There are strange notions about the word "capital." It means more manure, a greater amount of labour, a greater number of cattle, and larger crops. Picture a country in which you can say there is a deficiency of one-half of all those blessings which ought to, and might, exist there, and then judge what the condition of labourers wanting employment and food is. But you will say, capital would be invested if it could be done with profit. I admit it; that is the question I want you to inquire into. How is it that in a country where there is a plethora of capital, where every other business and pursuit is overflowing with money, where you have men going to France for railways and to Pennsylvania for bonds, embarking in schemes for connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific by canals, railways in the valley of the Mississippi, and sending their money to the bottom of the Mexican mines—while you have a country rich and overflowing, ready to take investments in every corner of the globe—how is it, I say, that this capital does not find its employment in the most attractive of all forms—upon the soil of this country? The cause is notorious—it is admitted by your highest authorities: the reason is, there is not security for capital in land. Capital shrinks instinctively from insecurity of tenure; and you have not in England that security which would warrant men of capital investing their money in the soil. Now, is it not a matter worthy of consideration, how far this insecurity of tenure is bound up with that protective system of which you are so enamoured? Suppose it can be shown that there is a vicious circle; that you have made politics of Corn Laws, and that you want voters to maintain them; that you very erroneously think that the Corn Laws are your great mine of wealth, and, therefore, you must have a dependent tenantry, that you may have their votes at elections to maintain this law in Parliament. Well, if you will have dependent voters, you cannot have men of spirit and capital. Then your policy reacts upon you. If you have not men of skill and capital, you cannot have improvements and employment for your labourers. Then comes round that vicious termination of the circle—you have pauperism, poor-rates, county-rates, and all the other evils of which you are now speaking and complaining. Now, Sir, I like to quote from the highest authority upon that side of the House. I will just state to you what is the opinion of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Pusey) upon this subject. When speaking at a meeting of the Agricultural Society, he says,— He knew this country well, and he knew that there was not a place from Plymouth to Berwick in which the landlords might not make improvements; but when the tenant was short of money, the landlord generally would be short of money too. But he would tell them how to find funds. There were many districts where there was a great superfluity not only of useless but of mischievous timber, and if they would cut that down which excluded the sun and air and fed on the soil, and sell it, they would benefit the farmer by cutting it down, and they would benefit the farmer, and the labourer too, by laying out the proceeds in under-draining the soil. There was another mode in which they might find money. He knew that on some properties a large sum was spent in the preservation of game. It was not at all unusual for the game to cost 500l. or 600l. a year; and if this were given up the money would employ one hundred able-bodied labourers during the winter in improving the property. This was another fund for the landlords of England to benefit the labourers and the farmers at the same time. Now, there is another authority—a very important member of your Protection Society — Mr. Fisher Hobbes, who thus speaks at a meeting of the Colchester Agricultural Association,— He was aware that a spirit of improvement was abroad. Much was said about the tenant-farmers doing more. He agreed they might do more; the soil of the country was capable of greater production; if he said one fourth more he should be within compass. But that could not be done by the tenant-farmer alone; they must have confidence; it must be done by leases; by draining; by extending the length of fields; by knocking down hedge-rows and clearing away trees which now shielded the corn. I will quote a still higher authority. Lord Stanley, at a late meeting at Liverpool, said,— I say, and as one connected with the land I feel myself bound to say it, that a landlord has no right to expect any great and permanent improvement of his land by the tenant, unless that tenant be secured the repayment of his outlay, not by the personal character or honour of his landlord, but by a security which no casualties can interfere with—the security granted him by the terms of a lease for years. Now, Sir, not only does the want of security prevent capital flowing into the farming business, but it actually deters from the improvement of the land those who are already in the occupation of it. There are many men, tenants of your land, who could improve their farms if they had a sufficient security, and they have either capital themselves or their friends could supply it; but with the absence of leases, and the want of security, you are actually deterring them from laying out their money upon your land. They keep everything the same from year to year. You know that it is impossible to farm your estates properly unless a tenant has an investment for more than one year. A man ought to be able to begin a farm with at least eight years before him, before he expects to see a return for the whole of the outlay of his money. You are, therefore, keeping your tenants-at-will at a yearly kind of cultivation, and you are preventing them carrying on their businesses in a proper way. Not only do you prevent the laying out of capital upon your land, and disable the farmers from cultivating it, but your policy tends to make them servile and dependent; so that they are actually disinclined to improvement, afraid to let you see that they can improve, because they are apprehensive that you will pounce upon them for an increase of rent. I see the hon. Member for Lincolnshire opposite, and he rather smiled at the expression when I said that the state of dependence of the farmers was such that they were actually afraid to appear to be improving their land. Now, that hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Christopher), upon the Motion made last year for agricultural statistics, by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, (Mr. Milner Gibson), made the following statement,— It is most desirable for the farmer to know the actual quantity of corn grown in this country, as such knowledge would insure steadiness of prices, which was infinitely more valuable to the agriculturist than fluctuating prices. But to ascertain this there was extreme difficulty. They could not leave it to the farmer to make a return of the quantity which he produced, for it was not for his interest to do so. If in any one or two years he produced four quarters per acre on land which had previously grown but three, he might fear that his landlord would say, 'Your land is more productive than I imagined, and I must therefore raise your rent.' The interest of the farmers, therefore, would be to underrate, and to furnish low returns. And here is further evidence of the same kind, which I find at a meeting of the South Devonshire Agricultural Association. The Rev. C. Johnson said,— He knew it had been thought that landlords were ready to avail themselves of such associations, on account of the opportunity it afforded them for diving into their tenants' affairs, and opening their eyes. An instance of this occurred to him at a recent ploughing match, where he met a respectable agriculturist whom he well knew, and asked him if he was going to it. He said, 'No.' 'Why?' Because he did not approve of such things. This 'why' produced another 'why,' and the man gave a reason why. Suppose he sent a plough and man with two superior horses, the landlord at once would say, 'This man is doing too well on my estate,' and increase the rent. Now, I ask hon. Gentlemen here, the landed gentry of England, what a state of things is that when, upon their own testimony respecting the farming capitalists in this country, they dare not appear to have a good horse—they dare not appear to be growing more than four quarters instead of three? [Mr. Christopher: Hear.] The hon. Member cheers, but I am quoting from his own authority. I say, this condition of things, indicated by those two quotations, brings the tenant-farmers—if they are such as these Gentlemen describe them to be — it brings them down to a very low point of servility. In Egypt, Mehemet Ali takes the utmost grain of corn from his people, who bury it beneath their hearth-stones in their cottages, and will suffer the bastinado rather than tell how much corn they grow. Our tenants are not afraid of the bastinado, but they are terrified at the rise of rent. This is the state of things amongst the tenant-farmers, farming without leases. In England leases are the exception, and not the rule. But even when you have leases in England—where you have leases or agreements—I doubt whether they are not in many cases worse tenures than where there is no lease at all; the clauses being of such an obsolete and preposterous character as to defy any man to carry on the business of farming under them profitably. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Cheshire is here, but if so I will read him a passage from an actual Cheshire lease, showing what kind of covenants farmers are called on to perform:— To pay the landlord 20l. for every statute acre of ground, and so in proportion for a less quantity, that shall be converted into tillage, or used contrary to the appointment before made; and 5l. for every cwt. of hay, thrave of straw, load of potatoes, or cartload of manure, that shall be sold or taken from the premises during the term; and 10l. for every tree fallen, cut down, or destroyed, cropped, lopped, or stopped, or willingly suffered so to be; and 20l. for any servant or other person so hired or admitted as to gain a settlement in the township; and 10l. per statute acre, and so in proportion for a less quantity, of the said land, which the tenant shall let off or underlet. Such sums to be paid on demand after every breach, and in default of payment to be considered as reserved rent, and levied by distress and sale as rent in arrear may be levied and raised. And to do six days' boon team work whenever called upon; and to keep for the landlord one dog, and one cock or hen; and to make no marlpit without the landlord's consent being first obtained in writing, after which the same is to be properly filled in; nor to allow any inmate to remain on the premises after six days' notice; nor to keep or feed any sheep except such as are used for the consumption of the family. Now, what is such an instrument but a trap for the unwary man? It is a barrier against men of intelligence and capital, and it is a fetter to the mind of any free man. No man could farm under such a lease as that, or under such clauses as it contains. [Sir C. Burrell; Hear,; hear.] I perceive that the hon. Member for Shoreham (Sir Charles Burrell) is cheering. I will by and by allude to one of the hon. Member's own leases. You will find in your own leases, though there be not stipulations for cocks and hens, and dogs, and probably team-work, yet there are almost as great absurdities in every lease and agreement you have. What are those leases? Why, they are generally some old musty instruments which a lawyer's clerk takes out of a pigeon-hole, and writes out for every fresh incoming tenant;—a thing which seems to have been in existence for 100 years. You tie them down by the most absurd restrictions; you do not give men credit for being able to discover any improvement next year and the year after; but you go upon the assumption that men are not able to improve, and you do your best to prevent them from doing so. Now, I do not know why we should not in this country have leases for land upon similar terms to the leases of manufactories, or any "plant" or premises. I do not think that farming will ever be carried on as it ought to be until you have leases drawn up in the same way as a man takes a manufactory, and pays perhaps 1,000l. a year for it. I know people who pay 4,000l. a year for manufactories to carry on their business, and at fair rents. There is an hon. Gentleman near me who pays more than 4,000l. a year for the rent of his manufactory. What covenants do you think he has in his lease? What would he think if it stated how many revolutions there should be in a minute of the spindles, or if they prescribed the construction of the straps or the gearing of the machinery? Why, he takes his manufactory with a schedule of its present state—bricks, mortar, and machinery—and when the lease is over, he must leave it in the same state, or else pay a compensation for the dilapidation. [The Chancellor of the Exchequer: Hear, hear.] The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer cheers that statement. I want to ask his opinion respecting a similar lease for a farm. I am rather disposed to think that the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguers will very likely form a joint-stock association, having none but free traders in the body, that we may purchase an estate and have a model farm; taking care that it shall be in one of the rural counties, one of the most purely agricultural parts of the country, where we think there is the greatest need of improvement—perhaps in Buckinghamshire—and there shall be a model farm, homestead, and cottages; and I may tell the noble Lord the Member for Newark, that we shall have a model garden, and we will not make any boast about it. But the great object will be to have a model lease. We will have as the farmer a man of intelligence and capital. I am not so unreasonable as to tell you that you ought to let your land to men who have not a competent capital, or are not sufficiently intelligent; but I say, select such a man as that, let him know his business and have a sufficient capital, and you cannot give him too wide a scope. We will find such a man, and will let him our farm; there shall be a lease precisely such as that upon which my hon. Friend takes his factory. There shall be no clause inserted in it to dictate to him how he shall cultivate his farm; he shall do what he likes with the old pasture. If he can make more by ploughing it up he shall do so; if he can grow white crops every year—which I know there are people doing at this moment in more places than one in this country, or if he can make any other improvement or discovery, he shall be free to do so. We will let him the land, with a schedule of the state of tillage and the condition of the homestead, and all we will bind him to will be this:—"You shall leave the land as good as when you entered upon it. If it be in an inferior state it shall be valued again, and you shall compensate us; but if it be in an improved state it shall be valued, and we, the landlords, will compensate you." We will give possession of everything upon the land, whether it be wild or tame animals; he shall have the absolute control. Take as stringent precautions as you please to compel the punctual payment of the rent; take the right of re-entry as summarily as you like if the rent be not duly paid; but let the payment of rent duly be the sole test as to the well-doing of the tenant; and so long as he can pay the rent, and do it promptly, that is the only criterion you need have that the farmer is doing well; and if he is a man of capital, you have the strongest possible security that he will not waste your property while he has possession of it. I have sometimes heard hon. Gentlemen opposite say, "It is all very well for you to preach up leases, but there are many farmers who do not want them. We have asked them, and they will not take them." ["Hear, hear."] The hon. Gentleman cheers that remark. But what does it argue? That by that process which the Member for Lincolnshire has described—that degrading process—you have rendered those tenants servile, hopeless, and dejected, so that they have not the spirit of men when they are carrying on their business. Now, hear what Professor Low states, he being, as you are aware, a professor of agriculture,— The argument has again and again been used against an extension of leases, that the tenants themselves set no value upon them; but to how different a conclusion ought the existence of such a feeling amongst the tenantry of a country to conduct us! The fact itself shows that the absence of leases may render a tenantry ignorant of the means of employing their own capital with advantage, indisposed to the exertions which improvements demand, and better contented with an easy rent and dependent condition than with the prospect of an independence to be earned by increased exertion. Whilst you have a tenantry in the state pictured by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, what must be the state of the peasantry? Your labourers can never be prosperous when the tenants are depressed. Go through the length and breadth of the land, and you will find that where capital is in the greatest abundance, and capitalists are most intelligent, there you will invariably find the working classes most prosperous and happy; and, on the other hand, show me an impoverished and enfeebled tenantry—go to the north of Devonshire, for instance, and show me a tenantry like that—and there you will find a peasantry sunk into the most hopeless and degraded condition. Now, Sir, I have mentioned a deficiency of capital as being the primary want amongst farmers. I have stated the want of security in leases as the cause of the want of capital; but you may still say, "You have not connected this with the Corn Laws and the protective system." I will read the opinion of an hon. Gentleman who sits upon this side of the House; it is in a published letter of Mr. Hayter, who, I know, is himself an ardent supporter of agriculture. He says,— The more I see of and practise agriculture, the more firmly am I convinced that the whole unemployed labour of the country could, under a better system of husbandry, be advantageously put into operation; and moreover, that the Corn Laws have been one of the principal causes of the present system of bad farming, and consequent pauperism. Nothing short of their entire removal will ever induce the average farmer to rely upon anything else than the Legislature for the payment of his rent; his belief being that all rent is paid by corn, and nothing else than corn; and that the Legislature can, by enacting Corn Laws, create a price which will make his rent easy. The day of their (the Corn Laws) entire abolition ought to be a day of jubilee and rejoicing to every man interested in land. Now, Sir, I do not stop to connect the cause and effect in this matter, and inquire whether your Corn Laws or your protective system have caused the want of leases and capital. I do not stop to make good my proof, and for this reason, that you have adopted a system of legislation in this House by which you profess to make the farming trade prosperous. I show you, after thirty years' trial, what is the depressed condition of the agriculturists; I prove to you what is the impoverished state of farmers, and also of the labourers, and you will not contest any one of those propositions. I say it is enough, having had thirty years' trial of your specific with no better results than these, for me to ask you to go into Committee to see if something better cannot be devised. I am going to contend, that free trade in grain would be more advantageous to farmers—and with them I include labourers—than restriction; to oblige the hon. Member for Norfolk, I will take with them also the landlords; and I contend that free trade in corn and grain of every kind would be more beneficial to them than to any other class of the community. I should have contended the same before the passing of the late Tariff, but now I am prepared to do so with tenfold more force. What has the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) done? He has passed a law to admit fat cattle at a nominal duty. Some foreign fat cattle were selling in Smithfield the other day at about 15l. or 16l. per head, paying only about 7½ per cent. duty; but he has not admitted the raw material out of which these fat cattle are made. Mr. Huskisson did not act in this manner when he commenced his plan of free trade. He began by admitting the raw material of manufactures before he admitted the manufactured article; but in your case you have commenced at precisely the opposite end, and have allowed free trade in cattle instead of that upon which they are fattened. I say, give free trade in that grain which goes to make the cattle. I contend, that by this protective system the farmers throughout the country are more injured than any other class in the community. I would take, for instance, the article of cloverseed. The hon. Member for North Northamptonshire put a question the other night to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He looked so exceedingly alarmed, that I wondered what the subject was which created the apprehension. He asked the right hon. Baronet whether he was going to admit cloverseed into this country? I believe cloverseed is to be excluded from the Schedule of free importation. Now, I ask for whose benefit is this exception made? I ask the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Northamptonshire, whether those whom he represents, the farmers of that district of the county, are, in a large majority of instances, sellers of cloverseed? I will undertake to say they are not. How many counties in England are there which are benefited by the protection of cloverseed? I will take the whole of Scotland. If there be any Scotch Members present, I ask them whether they do not in their country import the cloverseed from England? They do not grow it. I undertake to say that there are not ten counties in the United Kingdom which are interested in the exportation of cloverseed out of their own borders. Neither have they any of this article in Ireland. But yet we have cloverseed excluded from the farmers, although they are not interested as a body in its protection at all. Again, take the article of beans. There are lands in Essex where they can grow them alternate years with wheat. I find that beans come from that district to Mark-lane; and I believe also that in some parts of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire they do the same; but how is it with the poor lands of Surrey or the poor downland of Wiltshire? Take the whole of the counties. How many of them are there which are exporters of beans, or send them to market? You are taxing the whole of the farmers who do not sell their beans, for the pretended benefit of a few counties or districts of counties where they do. Mark you, where they can grow beans on the stronger and better soils, it is not in one case out of ten that they grow them for the market. They may grow them for their own use; but where they do not cultivate beans, send them to market, and turn them into money, those farmers can have no interest whatever in keeping up the money price of that which they never sell. Take the article of oats. How many farmers are there who ever have oats down on the credit side of their books, as an item upon which they rely for the payment of their rents? The farmers may, and do generally, grow oats for feeding their own horses; but it is an exception to the rule—and a rare exception too—where the farmer depends upon the sale of his oats to meet his expenses. Take the article of hops. You have a protection upon them for the benefit of the growers in Kent, Sussex, and Surrey; but yet the cultivators of hops are taxed for the protection of others in articles which they do not themselves produce. Take the article of cheese. Not one farmer in ten in the country makes his own cheese, and yet they and their servants are large consumers of it. But what are the counties which have the protection in this article? Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, part of Derbyshire, and Leicestershire. Here are some four or five dairy counties having an interest in the protection of cheese: but recollect that those counties are peculiarly hardly taxed in beans and oats, because in those counties where they are chiefly dairy farms, they are most in want of artificial food for their cattle. There are the whole of the hilly districts; and I hope my friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Gisborne) is here, because he has a special grievance in this matter; he lives in Derbyshire, and very commendably employs himself in rearing good cattle upon the hills: but he is taxed for your protection for his beans, peas, oats, Indian corn, and every thing which he wants for feeding them. He told me, only the other day, that he should like nothing better than to give up the little remnant of protection on cattle, if you would only let him buy a thousand quarters of black oats for the consumption of his stock. Take the whole of the hilly districts, and the down county of Wiltshire; the whole of that expanse of downs in the South of England; take the Cheviots, where the flockmasters reside; the Grampians in Scotland; and take the whole of Wales, they are not benefited in the slightest degree by the protection on these articles; but, on the contrary, you are taxing the very things they want. They require provender as abundantly and cheaply as they can get it. Allowing a free importation of food for cattle is the only way in which those counties can improve the breed of their lean stocks, and the only manner in which they can ever bring their land up to anything like a proper state of fertility. I will go farther and say, that farms with thin soil, I mean the stock farmers, which you will find in Hertfordshire and Surrey, farmers with large capitals, arable farmers, I say those men are deeply interested in having a free importation of food for their cattle, because they have thin poor land. This land of its ownself does not contain the means of its increased fertility; and the only way is the bringing in of an additional quantity of food from elsewhere, that they can bring up their farms to a proper state of cultivation. I have been favoured with an estimate made by a very experienced clever farmer in Wiltshire—probably hon. Gentlemen will bear me out, when I say a man of great intelligence and skill, and entitled to every consideration in this House. I refer to Mr. Nathaniel Atherton, Kington, Wilts. That gentleman estimates that upon 400 acres of land he could increase his profits to the amount of 280l., paying the same rent as at present, provided there was a free importation of foreign grain of all kinds. He would buy 500 quarters of oats at 15s., or the same amount in beans or peas at 14s. or 15s. a sack, to be fed on the land or in the yard; by which he would grow additional 160 quarters of wheat, and 230 quarters of barley, and gain an increased profit of 300l. upon his sheep and cattle. His plan embraces the employment of an additional capital of 1,000l.; and he would pay 150l. a year more for labour. I had an opportunity, the other day, of speaking to a very intelligent farmer in Hertfordshire, Mr. Lattimore, of Wheathampstead. Very likely there are hon. Members here to whom he is known. I do not know whether the noble Lord the Member for Hertfordshire is present; if so, he will, no doubt, know that Mr. Lattimore stands as high in Hertford market as a skilful farmer and a man of abundant capital as any in the county. He is a gentleman of most unquestionable intelligence; and what does he say? He told me that last year he paid 230l. enhanced price on his beans and other provender which he bought for his cattle:—230l. enhanced price in consequence of that restriction upon the trade in foreign grain, amounting to 14s. a quarter on all the wheat he sold off his farm. Now, I undertake to say, in the names of Mr. Atherton, of Wiltshire, and Mr. Lattimore, of Hertfordshire, that they are as decided advocates for free trade in grain of every kind as I am. I am not now quoting merely solitary cases. I told hon. Gentlemen once before that I have probably as large an acquaintance among farmers as any one in the House. I think I could give you from every county the names of some of the first-rate farmers who are as ardent free-traders as I am. I requested the Secretary of this much dreaded Anti-Corn Law League to make me out a list of the farmers who are subscribers to that Association, and I find there are upwards of 100 in England and Scotland who subscribe to the League Fund, comprising, I hesitate not to say, the most intelligent men to be found in the kingdom. I went into the Lothians, at the invitation of twenty-two farmers there, several of whom were paying upwards of 1,000l. a year rent. I spent two or three days among them, and I never found a body of more intelligent, liberal-minded men in my life. Those are men who do not want restrictions upon the importation of grain. They desire nothing but fair play. They say, "Let us have our Indian corn, Egyptian beans, and Polish oats as freely as we have our linseed cake, and we can bear competition with any corn-growers in the world." But by excluding the provender for cattle, and at the same time admitting the cattle almost duty free, I think you are giving an example of one of the greatest absurdities and perversions of nature and common sense which ever was seen. We have heard of great absurdities in legislation in commercial matters of late. We know that there has been such a case as sending coffee from Cuba to the Cape of Good Hope, in order to bring it back to England under the law; but I venture to say, that in less than ten years from this time people will look back with more amazement in their minds at the fact that, while you are sending ships to Ichaboe to bring back the guano, you are passing a law to exclude Indian corn, beans, oats, peas, and everything else that gives nourishment to your cattle, which would give you a thousand times more productive manure than all the guano of Ichaboe. Upon the last occasion when I spoke upon this subject, I was answered by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. He talked about throwing poor lands out of cultivation, and converting arable lands into pasture. I hope that we men of the Anti-Corn Law League may not be reproached again with seeking to cause any such disasters. My belief is—and the conviction is founded upon a most extensive inquiry amongst the most intelligent farmers, without stint of trouble and pains—that the course you are pursuing tends every hour to throw land out of cultivation, and make poor lands unproductive. Do not let us be told again that we desire to draw the labourers from the land, in order that we may reduce the wages of the work-people employed in factories. I tell you that, if you bestow capital on the soil, and cultivate it with the same skill as manufacturers bestow upon their business, you have not population enough in the rural districts for the purpose. I yesterday received a letter from Lord Ducie, in which he gives precisely the same opinion. He says, "If we had the land properly cultivated, there are not sufficient labourers to till it." You are chasing your labourers from village to village, passing laws to compel people to support paupers, devising every means to smuggle them abroad—to the antipodes, if you can get them there; why, you would have to run after them, and bring them back again, if you had your land properly cultivated. I tell you honestly my conviction, that it is by these means, and these only, that you can avert very great and serious troubles and disasters in your agricultural districts. Sir, I remember, on the last occasion when this subject was discussed, there was a great deal said about disturbing an interest. It was said this inquiry could not be gone into, because we were disturbing and unsettling a great interest. I have no desire to undervalue the agricultural interest. I have heard it said that they are the greatest consumers of manufactured goods in this country; that they are such large consumers of our goods that we had better look after the home trade, and not think of destroying it. But what sort of consumers of manufactures think you the labourers can be, with the wages they are now getting in agricultural districts? Understand me: I am arguing for a principle that I solemnly believe would raise the wages of the labourers in the agricultural districts. I believe you would have no men starving upon 7s. a week, if you had abundant capital and competent skill employed upon the soil; but I ask what is this consumption of manufactured goods that we have heard so much about? I have taken some pains, and made large inquiries as to the amount laid out in the average of cases by agricultural labourers and their families for clothing; I probably may startle you by telling you that we have exported in one year more of our manufactures to Brazil than have been consumed in a similar period by the whole of your agricultural peasantry and their families. You have 960,000 agricultural labourers in England and Wales, according to the last census; I undertake to say they do not expend on an average 30s. a year on their families, supposing every one of them to be in employ. I speak of manufactured goods excluding shoes. I assert that the whole of the agricultural peasantry and their families in England and Wales do not spend a million and a half per annum for manufactured goods, in clothing and bedding. And, with regard to your exciseable and duty-paying articles, what can the poor wretch lay out upon them, who out of 8s. or 9s. a week has a wife and family to support? I undertake to prove to your satisfaction—and you may do it yourselves if you will but dare to look the figures in the face—I will undertake to prove to you that they do not pay, upon an average, each family, 15s. per annum; that the whole of their contributions to the Revenue do not amount to 700,000l. Now, is not this a mighty interest to be disturbed? I would keep that interest as justly as though it were one of the most important; but I say, when you have by your present system brought down your agricultural peasantry to that state, have you anything to offer for bettering their condition, or at all events to justify resisting an inquiry? On the last occasion when I addressed the House upon this subject, I recollect stating same facts to show that you had no reasonable ground to fear foreign competition; those facts I do not intend to reiterate, because they have never been contradicted. But there are still attempts made to frighten people by telling them, "If you open the ports to foreign corn, you will have corn let in here for nothing." One of the favourite fallacies which are now put forth is this: "Look at the price of corn in England, and see what it is abroad; you have prices low here, and yet you have corn coming in from abroad and paying the maximum duty. Now, if you had not 20s. duty to pay, what a quantity of corn you would have brought in, and how low the price would be!" This statement arises from a fallacy—I hope not dishonestly put forth—in not understanding the difference between the real and the nominal price of corn. The price of corn at Dantzic now, when there is no regular sale, is nominal; the price of corn when it is coming in regularly is the real price. Now, go back to 1838: in January of that year the price of wheat at Dantzic was nominal; there was no demand for England; there were no purchasers except for speculation, with the chance, probably, of having to throw the wheat into the sea; but in the months of July and August of that year, when apprehensions arose of a failure of our harvest, then the price of corn in Dantzic rose instantly, sympathising with the markets in England; and at the end of the year, in December, the price of wheat at Dantzic had doubled the amount at which it had been in January; and during the three following years, when you had a regular importation of corn, during all that time, by the averages laid upon the Table of this House, wheat at Dantzic averaged 40s. Wheat at Dantzic was at that price during the three years 1839,1840, and 1841. Now, I mention this just to show the fact to hon. Gentlemen, and to entreat them that they will not go and alarm their tenantry by this outcry of the danger of foreign competition. You ought to be pursuing a directly opposite course—you ought to be trying to stimulate them in every possible way — by showing that they can compete with foreigners; that what others can do in Poland, they can do in England. I have an illustration of this subject in the case of a Society of which the hon. Member for Suffolk is Chairman. We have lately seen a new light spreading amongst agricultural gentlemen. We are told the salvation of this country is to arise from the cultivation of flax. There is a National Flax Society, of which Lord Rendlesham is the President. This Flax Society state in their prospectus, a copy of which I have here, purporting to be the First Annual Report of the National Flax Agricultural Improvement Association—after talking of the Ministers holding out no hope from legislation, the Report goes on to state that upon these grounds the National Flax Society call upon the nation for its support, on the ground that they are going to remedy the distresses of the country. The founder of this Society is Mr. Warnes of Norfolk. I observe Mr. Warnes paid a visit to Sussex, and he attended an agricultural meeting at which the hon. Baronet the Member for Shoreham (Sir Charles Burrell) presided. After the usual loyal toasts, the hon. Baronet proposed the toast of the evening, "Mr. Warnes and the cultivation of flax." The hon. Baronet was not aware, I dare say, that he was then furnishing a most deadly weapon to the lecturers of the Anti-Corn Law League. We are told you cannot compete with foreigners unless you have a high protective duty. You have a high protective duty on wheat, amounting at this moment to 20s. a quarter. A quarter of wheat at the present time is just worth the same as one cwt. of flax. On a quarter of wheat you have a protective duty against the Pole and Russian of 20s.; upon the one cwt. of flax you have a protective duty of 1d And I did not hear a murmur from hon. Gentlemen opposite when the Prime Minister proposed to take off that protective duty of 1d., totally and immediately. But we are told that English agriculturists cannot compete with foreigners, and especially with that serf labour that is to be found somewhere up the Baltic. Well, but flax comes from the Baltic, and there is no protective duty. Hon. Gentlemen say we have no objection to raw materials where there is no labour connected with them; but we cannot contend against foreigners in wheat, because there is such an amount of labour in it. Why, there is twice as much labour in flax as there is in wheat; but the Member for Shoreham favours the growth of flax in order to restore the country, which is sinking into this abject and hopeless state for want of agricultural protection. But the hon. Baronet will forgive me — I am sure he will, he looks as if he would—if I allude a little to the subject of leases. The hon. Gentleman on that occasion, I believe, complained that it was a great pity that farmers did not grow more flax. I do not know whether it was true or not, that the same hon. Baronet's leases to his own tenants forbade them to grow that article. Now, it is quite as possible that the right hon. Baronet does not exactly know what covenants or clauses there are in his leases. But I know that it is a very common case to preclude the growth of flax; and it just shows the kind of management by which the landed proprietors have carried on their affairs, that actually, I believe, the original source of the error that flax was very pernicious to the ground was derived from Virgil; I believe there is a passage in the Georgics to that effect. From that classic authority, no doubt, some learned lawyer put this clause into the lease, and there it has remained ever since. Now, I have alluded to the condition of the labourers at the present time; but I am bound to say, that while the farmers at the present moment are in a worse condition than they have been for the last ten years, I believe the agricultural labourers have passed over the winter with less suffering and distress, although it has been a five months' winter, and a severer one, too, than they endured in the previous year. ["Hear."] I am glad to find that corroborated by hon. Gentlemen opposite, because it bears out, in a remarkable degree, the opinion that we who are in connexion with the free-trade question entertain. We maintain that a low price of food is beneficial to the labouring classes. We assert, and we can prove it, at least in the manufacturing districts, that whenever provisions are dear wages are low, and whenever food is cheap wages invariably rise. We have had a strike in almost every business in Lancashire since the price of wheat has been down to something like 50s.; and I am glad to be corroborated when I state that the agricultural labourers have been in a better condition during the last winter than they were in the previous one. But does not that show that, even in your case, though your labourers have in a general way only just as much as will find them a subsistence, they are benefited by a great abundance of the first necessaries of life? Although their wages may rise and fall with the price of food,—although they may go up with the advance in the price of corn, and fall when it is lowered,—still, I maintain that it does not rise in the same proportion as the price of food rises, nor fall to the extent to which food falls. Therefore, in all cases the agricultural labourers are in a better state when food is low than when it is high. I have a very curious proof that high-priced food leads to pauperism in the agricultural districts, which I will read to you. It is a labourer's certificate seen at Stowupland, in Suffolk, in July, 1844, which was placed upon the mantel-piece of a peasant's cottage there:— West Suffolk Agricultural Association, established in 1833, for the advancement of agriculture and the encouragement of industry and skill, and good conduct, among labourers and servants in husbandry, President—the Duke of Grafton, Lord Lieutenant of the county; This is to certify that a prize of 2l, was awarded to William Burch, aged 82, labourer of the parish of Stowupland, in West Suffolk, September 25, 1840, for having brought up nine children without relief, except when flour was very dear; and for having worked on the same farm twenty-eight years. (Signed) RT. RUSHBROOKE, Chairman. Now I need not press that point. It is admitted by hon. Gentlemen opposite—and I am glad it is so—that after a very severe winter, in the midst of great distress among farmers, when there have been a great many able bodied men wanting employment, still there have been fewer in the streets and workhouses than there had been in the previous year; and I hope we shall not again be told by hon. Gentlemen opposite that cheap bread is injurious to the labourers. But the condition of the agricultural labourer is a bad case at the very best. You can look before you, and you have to foresee the means of giving employment to those men. I need not tell you that the late census shows that you cannot employ your own increasing population in the agricultural districts. But you say the farmers should employ them. Now, I am bound to say, that, whatever may be the condition of the agricultural labourer, I hold that the farmer is not responsible for that condition while he is placed in the situation in which be now is by the present system. I have seen during the last autumn and winter a great many exhortations made to the farmers, that they should employ more labourers. I think that is very unfair towards the farmer; I believe he is the man who is suffering most; he stands between you and your impoverished, suffering peasantry; and it is rather too bad to point to the farmer as the man who should relieve them. I have an extract from Lord Hardwick's address to the labourers of Haddenham. He says,— Conciliate your employers, and if they do not perform their duty to you and themselves, address yourselves to the landlords; and I assure you that you will find us ready to urge our own tenants to the proper cultivation of their farms, and consequently, to the just employment of the labourer. Now, I hold that this duty begins nearer home, and that the landed proprietors are the parties who are responsible if the labourers have not employment. You have absolute power; there is no doubt about that. You can, if you please, legislate for the labourers, or yourselves. Whatever you may have done besides, your legislation has been adverse to the labourer, and you have no right to call upon the farmers to remedy the evils which you have caused. Will not this evil—if evil you call it—press on you more and more every year? What can you do to remedy the mischief? I only appear here now because you have proposed nothing. We all know your system of allotments, and we are all aware of its failure. What other remedy have you? for mark you, that is worse than a plaything, if you were allowed to carry out your own views. ["Hear."] Ay, it is well enough for some of you that there are wiser heads than your own to lead you, or you would be conducting yourselves into precisely the same condition in which they are in Ireland, but with this difference — this increased difficulty — that there they do manage to maintain the rights of property by the aid of the English Exchequer and 20,000 bayonets; but divide your own country into small allotments, and where would be your rights of property? What do you propose to do now? That is the question. Nothing has been brought forward this year, which I have heard, having for its object to benefit the great mass of the English population; nothing I have heard suggested which has at all tended to alleviate their condition. You admit that the farmer's capital is sinking from under him, and that he is in a worse state than ever. Have you distinctly provided some plan to give confidence to the farmer, to cause an influx of capital to be expended upon his land, and so bring increased employment to the labourer? How is this to be met? I cannot believe that you are going to make this a political game. You must set up some specific object to benefit the agricultural interest. It is well said, that the last election was an agricultural triumph. There are 200 county Members sitting behind the Prime Minister who prove that it was so. What, then, is your plan for this distressing state of things? That is what I want to ask you. Do not, as you have done before, quarrel with me because I have imperfectly stated my case; I have done my best; and I again ask you what you have to propose? I tell you that this "Protection," as it has been called, is a failure. It was so when you had the prohibition up to 80s. You know the state of your farming tenantry in 1821. It was a failure when you had a protection price of 60s.; for you know what was the condition of your farm tenantry in 1835. It is a failure now with your last amendment, for you have admitted and proclaimed it to us; and what is the condition of your agricultural population at this time. I ask, what is your plan? I hope it is not a pretence; a mere political game that has been played throughout the last election, and that you have not all come up here as mere politicians. There are politicians in the House; men who look with an ambition—probably a justifiable one—to the honours of office. There may be men who—with thirty years of continuous service, having been pressed into a groove from which they can neither escape nor retreat—may be holding office, and high office, maintained there, probably, at the expense of their present convictions, which do not harmonize very well with their early opinions. I make allowances for them; but the great body of the hon. Gentlemen opposite came up to this House, not as politicians, but as the farmers' friends, and protectors of the agricultural interests. Well, what do you propose to do? You have heard the Prime Minister declare that, if he could restore all the protection which you have had, that protection would not benefit agriculturists. Is that your belief? If so, why not proclaim it; and if it is not your conviction, you will have falsified your mission in this House, by following the right hon. Baronet out into the lobby, and opposing inquiry into the condition of the very men who sent you here. With mere politicians I have no right to expect to succeed in this Motion. But I have no hesitation in telling you, that, if you give me a Committee of this House, I will explode the delusion of agricultural protection! I will bring forward such a mass of evidence, and give you such a preponderance of talent and of authority, that when the Blue Book is published and sent forth to the world, as we can now send it, by our vehicles of information, your system of protection shall not live in the public opinion for two years afterwards. Politicians do not want that. This cry of protection has been a very convenient handle for politicians. The cry of protection carried the counties at the last election, and politicians gained honours, emoluments, and place by it. But is that old tattered flag of protection, tarnished and torn as it is already, to be kept hoisted still in the counties for the benefit of politicians; or will you come forward honestly and fairly to inquire into this question? Why, I cannot believe that the gentry of England will be made mere drumheads to be sounded upon by a Prime Minister to give forth unmeaning and empty sounds, and to have no articulate voice of their own. No! You are the gentry of England who represent the counties. You are the aristocracy of England. Your fathers led our fathers: you may lead us if you will go the right way. But, although you have retained your influence with this country longer than any other aristocracy, it has not been by opposing popular opinion, or by setting yourselves against the spirit of the age. In other days, when the battle and the hunting-fields were the tests of manly vigour, why, your fathers were first and foremost there. The aristocracy of England were not like the noblesse of France, the mere minions of a court; nor were they like the hidalgoes of Madrid, who dwindled into pigmies. You have been Englishmen. You have not shown a want of courage and firmness when any call has been made upon you. This is a new era. It is the age of improvement, it is the age of social advancement, not the age for war or for feudal sports. You live in a mercantile age, when the whole wealth of the world is poured into your lap. You cannot have the advantages of commercial rents and feudal privileges; but you may be what you always have been, if you will identify yourselves with the spirit of the age. The English people look to the gentry and aristocracy of their country as their leaders. I, who am not one of you, have no hesitation in telling you, that there is a deep-rooted, an hereditary prejudice, if I may so call it, in your favour in this country. But you never got it, and you will not keep it, by obstructing the spirit of the age. If you are indifferent to enlightened means of finding employment to your own peasantry; if you are found obstructing that advance which is calculated to knit nations more together in the bonds of peace by means of commercial intercourse; if you are found fighting against the discoveries which have almost given breath and life to material nature, and setting up yourselves as obstructives of that which destiny has decreed shall go on,—why, then, you will be the gentry of England no longer, and others will be found to take your place. And I have no hesitation in saying that you stand just now in a very critical position. There is a wide-spread suspicion that you have been tampering with the best feelings and with the honest confidence of your constituents in this cause. Everywhere you are doubted and suspected. Read your own organs, and you will see that this is the case. Well, then, this is the time to show that you are not the mere party politicians which you are said to be. I have said that we shall be opposed in this measure by politicians; they do not want inquiry. But I ask you to go into this Committee with me. I will give you a majority of county Members. You shall have a majority of the Central Society in that Committee: I ask you only to go into a fair inquiry as to the causes of the distress of your own population. I only ask that this matter may be fairly examined. Whether you establish my principle or yours, good will come out of the inquiry; and I do, therefore, beg and entreat the honourable independent country Gentlemen of this House that they will not refuse, on this occasion, to go into a fair, a full, and an impartial inquiry.

Mr. S. Herbert

trusted the hon. Member for Norfolk, who had given notice of an Amendment, would allow him, as it would probably be for the convenience of the House, to state thus early what course the Government thought themselves bound to pursue with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport. The speech of that hon. Gentleman, like all his other speeches, had been distinguished by great ingenuity, and an intimate knowledge of the arguments usually put forward by those who adopt similar views; but he thought the hon. Gentleman's cause lost in one respect by his advocacy from those very facts; for he forgot, in the multiplicity of his arguments, that they were sometimes essentially contradictory to one another. The hon. Gentleman, as he understood, stated that protection had been granted to the agriculturists by legislative enactments, passed at different periods since the Peace; that promises had been held out that those laws would insure prosperity; that those promises had not been fulfilled; that the effect of the laws to which he had referred had been so to discourage the employment of capital, and the application of skill and ingenuity with respect to agriculture, that no improvement had been effected in that science; and that this state of things would exist so long as protection should be continued. Now, he differed very materially from the hon. Member for Stockport as to those facts. At different periods since the Peace, various Committees had been appointed by that House to inquire into allegations with regard to agricultural distress; but he did not believe that the inquiries of those Committees had ever led to any very useful or practical results. He must say, from the perusal of the Reports of those Committees, and from a recollection of the circumstances connected with their appointment, that he did not think their investigations afforded any great encouragement to the House to sanction a similar inquiry now. The Committees which sat in 1815 and 1822, came to some conclusions which—he thought very fortunately—were not adopted by the House, and which it was almost impossible to believe, on reading them now, could have been seriously proposed. Subsequent Committees found such great difficulties in coming to any conclusion on the subject, that they declined to make any Report to the House; and, as they could not agree to a Report, they laid before the House two very large folio volumes, full of contradictory theories, contradictory opinions, and equally contradictory facts. One of those Committees, however, that of 1833, which comprised some of the most eminent Members of that House, and, among others, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, and the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir J. Graham), came to a very distinct conclusion. Their opinion differed widely from that of the hon. Member who had brought forward the Motion now before the House. They came to the conclusion, first, that some amount of protection was necessary for the agriculturist; and secondly, that, in spite of the difficulties under which the farmer laboured, from the uncertainty of climate and the great increase of money charges to which he had been subjected, great improvements had taken place in the cultivation of land. Perhaps the House would permit him to read one or two passages from the Report of that Committee:— The landlords in every part of the United Kingdom, though in different degrees, have met the fall of price by a reduction of rent, except where during the war the rents on their estates had not been raised, or where by a large expenditure of capital, permanent improvements had enriched the nature of the soil itself. The spread of the drill system of husbandry, a better rotation of cropping, a more judicious use of manures, especially of bones, extensive draining, improvement in the breed both of cattle and sheep, have all contributed to counterbalance the fall of price, and to sustain that surplus profit in the culture of the soil on which rent depends. Now, if such were the facts in 1833, and he believed they would not be questioned, it must be admitted that since that period there had been much greater progress in agricultural improvement. He remembered that last year the hon. Member for Stockport quoted, somewhat derisively, a statement of the hon. Member for Berkshire, in which that hon. Gentleman specified the various improvements which had been introduced in agriculture, and stated his belief that there was no land, from one end of the country to the other, which was not susceptible of improvement. He believed that was a well-grounded opinion; and he believed, also; that there was little land in this country that was not now more or less in course of improvement. He considered, therefore, that the argument of the hon. Member for Stockport, founded on the supposition that capital was not invested in agriculture, and that this was the reason no improvements had taken place, was utterly fallacious. It could not be denied that a most marked improvement had taken place in agricultural operations throughout this country; and he had last year witnessed the improvements that had been effected in Ireland, where their progress and extent were more marked and more obvious than in this part of the kingdom, because they started from a lower point. Let me again quote the Report of the Committee of 1833, as regards Ireland:— In Ireland as far as the growing demand of the English market extends, agriculture is improving, the growth of wheat is rapidly increasing, and the gross amount of produce is considerably augmented. The demand for lime and for manure is great throughout the province of Leinster; new roads have been formed, the inland navigation has been improved, the soil is fertile; and a progressive increase of the supply of wheat from Ireland may be anticipated. With the war, however, the great contracts for salt provisions, which were drawn from Ireland, terminated; and it is doubtful whether any present demand from England for corn compensates for the loss which Ireland thus sustained. Hon. Gentlemen could scarcely form a just estimate of the important agricultural improvements recently effected in the sister kingdom. He also saw in every agricultural journal he opened in this country, descriptions of the increased rents and profits derived from land now, as compared with some years since; and he considered himself justified, therefore, in saying that capital to a considerable extent must be devoted to agriculture; for here were the evident results of such investment. The hon. Member for Stockport tells me it is not so. I set the evidence of my eyes against that of my ears to his statement that no capital is invested in land, and therefore there is no improvement. I assume that there is vast improvement, and therefore there is capital invested in land. But the hon. Member for Stockport had enlightened them as to some curious subjects connected with agricultural affairs. He had told them that the leases granted by the landlords were so framed as to keep the tenancy in a state of complete sub-serviency, and to prevent them, in fact, from improving their farms. The hon. Member had quoted a lease, which he had told them was remarkable for its absurdity, which required that 20l. a year should be paid to the landlord for every acre of ground converted into tillage, or used contrary to the appointment made, and 10l. for every acre of ground let off or underlet. He supposed the hon. Gentleman meant the Home to understand that these clauses were for exacting heavy rents from the ground-down tenantry; but it must be obvious to hon. Gentlemen that these were penal clauses, to prevent tenants from doing certain things which would be injurious to the property. But what kind of farm was this? A farm in Cheshire, a dairy farm, where it was most important to prevent the soil being broken up, to the diminution of pasture land; and where it was necessary also to provide that sheep should not be pastured in such numbers as to injure or destroy the pasture for cows. What too is the date of the lease? One of the conditions of the lease quoted by the hon. Member for Stockport was quite sufficient to convince them that it was not of very modern date; for he apprehended that the object of requiring that the tenant should keep a "cock and hen" was to provide means for the pastime of cock-fighting, a fashion of a past century. Why, if hon. Gentlemen would take the trouble of looking at indentures of apprenticeship at the present day, they would find requirements equally as absurd as those contained in the lease to which the hon. Member for Stockport had referred. The apprentices were forbidden to play at games which were now obsolete; but it was, of course, the spirit of the contract alone which was preserved. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House who had any disposition to accede to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport would give this subject some consideration before they afforded him their support. He thought it would be seen that that feeling of sympathy for the distress of the agricultural classes — and which during the last week had been somewhat curiously extended to the landlords — which was supposed to have given rise to this Motion—that that anxiety for some legislative enactment which might raise the price of agricultural produce, had given place to a feeling which had to-night been pretty plainly avowed by the hon. Member for Stockport: "Give me the Committee, and I'll blow up your protective system." He did not deny that this was a perfectly legitimate object, if the hon. Member for Stockport thought that, through the medium of a Committee, he could register a great amount of evidence, and record numerous speeches, to be published in a "blue-book" and circulated free of postage, to the expense of which the Anti-Corn Law League would otherwise be subjected. But he would like to know how this question—not one of detail, but of principle—was to be determined by a Committee. Surely, after all the information they had obtained as to the Corn Laws, a question on which every political economist of any consideration had written, every one must be able to form an opinion on the subject. He did not think, supposing this Committee were granted, that the public would be inclined to wait with very breathless anxiety for its Report—that they would suspend their opinions on the Corn Laws, free trade, and protection, till they knew what the oracular decision of that Committee might be. He did not suppose that the hon. Member for Stockport himself would assert that all agitation of the question out of doors would be abandoned, or that Covent-garden Theatre would be restored to the Muses. He believed that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. C. P. Villiers) had given notice of his Motion for the repeal of the Corn Laws; and he presumed that even if the present Motion were successful, that hon. Gentleman would persevere in submitting his proposition to the House. [Mr. Villiers: "I have not given any notice."] If, then, the agitation out of doors, and the discussions in that House, were to be continued, he could not conceive what advantage could be gained by the appointment of this Committee. Why, hon. Gentlemen who clamoured for the appointment of a Committee, did not seem disposed to pay much respect to its decision, for they said, "We want information, but we will not wait for a report. We wish a Committee to make inquiries, but we will legislate in the meanwhile." But while the Committee would be useless for the purposes which hon. Gentlemen opposite professed to be anxious to attain through its instrumentality, its appointment would have the most ruinous effect upon agricultural interests. Whatever might be his (Mr. S. Herbert's) partiality for agriculturists, he must confess that, as a body they possessed very delicate nerves, and were extremely susceptible of alarm; but he thought if the Government acceded to the appointment of this Committee, their alarm would be quite justified; it would not be surprising if the agriculturists concluded, that upon the result of that Committee's inquiries, the Government intended to found some legislative enactment. Till this Committee had examined witnesses to prove all the allegations made to-night by the hon. Member for Stockport; till it had taken the opinions of the most eminent political economists on the questions at issue; till all the doctrines of political economists as to wages, as to rent, as to tithe, and the effects of taxation on wages and on profits, had been investigated; and till the Committee determined on their Report (and they could not conclude their labours during the present Session, possibly not next Session, and probably even not till the third Session from this time),—the House was to go on discussing the very questions they had delegated to the investigation of the Committee, the country was to remain in a state of uncertainty, agriculture was to be paralysed, and men were almost to be precluded from selling or buying land, and from makfng new leases or adjusting old ones. The effect of such a state of things on the whole agricultural community, and through them on the country at large, would be most lamentable and distressing. The hon. Member for Stockport had drawn a comparison, very favourable to the manufacturer, relative to the extent of improvement effected in agriculture and manufactures; but it must be remembered that the manufacturers possessed far greater facilities for improvement than the agriculturists. They must recollect that persons engaged in manufactures were concentrated, as it were, in one spot; that the business was carried on within a comparatively small space; that everything was done under the eye of the master manufacturer; and that there were great facilities for communication between the masters. But, with regard to agriculturists, the case was far different. The whole time and attention of the farmer was devoted to his farm; and there were not the same facilities of communication between tenant farmers, who lived three or four miles apart, as between manufacturers in Manchester, who were separated only by a street. Then another advantage possessed by the manufacturer was, that the facilities afforded by machinery gave him a speedy return for his capital; he can turn it many times a year, and he can tell exactly the amount of goods which each operation will produce. But the return of the agriculturist depended upon his crop, which can come only once a year, namely, his wheat crop, and his lucrative crop only once in four years. They must remember that whatever might be the skill displayed by the agriculturist, or the amount of the capital he invested, there was another element of success over which he had no control. He was at the mercy of the weather; and though he might obtain a good return on his capital one year, he might in another scarcely repay himself the expense of cultivation. The hon. Gentleman said it was necessary to do away with protection, because he had observed that the country was always prosperous with good harvests. That fact, certainly, nobody would deny. [Mr. Cobden: I said the tenant farmers] Yes, the tenant farmers, too; for he supposed it was the same thing to a tenant farmer, whether he sold sixty quarters of wheat at 40s., or forty quarters of wheat at 60s., and he had the benefit of the lowness of price in other respects, while the labourer had cheaper food. But sometimes lowness of price was caused, not by good harvests, but by importation. That was certainly good for the consumer, but it could not be good for the farmer. Then, in the third place, there was what had occurred this year, lowness of price, because the wheat harvest was good, while in other crops there was a deficiency. It was true this was not the case all over the country. It was not the case in Scotland. There, he understood, the farmers were in a prosperous state; the rents had been fully and punctually paid, and arrears even, which are never expected to be recovered. In the north of England, too, and generally in backward and retentive soils, the harvests had been good, and in consequence prosperity prevailed. But in the south of England—in the county with which he was himself connected, which was an early county—they had been very severely affected by the drought which occurred at the early part of the season; and, in consequence, turnips and barley, on which they principally depended, had failed. They had low prices because the wheat harvest was good; but other crops were deficient, and this had caused agricultural distress. He hoped the hon. Member for Northamptonshire would not persist in the Amendment of which he had given notice. It was not likely that, at his time of life, he would be caught by the bait of the hon. Member who had brought forward the Motion, who said he had taken the Amendments all in. Yes, he had taken them all in, and I fear the movers too. But he had included in his Motion other matters which would rather induce the agriculturists to reject it altogether. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Member would withdraw his Amendment. He must confess, for his part, that the results of previous Committees on agricultural distress did not induce him to think that the institution of an inquiry now would be very advantageous, particularly when conducted by unfriendly hands. And he must add further, as the representative of an agricultural constituency, that it would be distasteful to the agriculturists to come whining to Parliament at every period of temporary distress, nor would they do so. Parliament have accorded to the agriculturists a certain amount of reduced protection. With that they are content; and in adverse circumstances, such as failure of crop, and the like, they would meet them manfully and put their shoulder to the wheel. He thought also that the agriculturists might safely follow the lessons given to them by the hon. Member for Berkshire, and on the present occasion, though with a more questionable purpose, by the hon. Member for Stockport. He was of opinion that they could not do better than to follow the excellent advice given to them by the first-named hon. Member, especially to expend capital on their farms and in improvements of the land, and so by their own efforts restore prosperity. The Government had no wish to maintain a high monopoly, without any alteration, as it had proved; nor had it made any promises to the agriculturists of certain prices in corn, which they knew that no law can give. The hon. Member for Stockport had said that the county Members were elected on the strength of certain promises made by them to their constituents respecting prices. He had, however, made no such promises, nor did he believe that such was the fact as regarded other hon. Members; and he was also bound to state that he would not have joined the Government, in however subordinate a capacity, if his right hon. Friend at the head of affairs had not, in his statement made on the dissolution of the last Parliament, declared his intention to revise the existing Corn Law. He supported the alteration subsequently made in that law, because he believed it to be for the benefit of agriculture as well as of the country at large. I believe it to be sound policy to make the fall from the high prices of the war to the low prices of peace as gradual as possible; but having passed that measure, and by its means deprived agriculture of a great amount of the protection it had enjoyed, it was for the House to prove that it had resolved to abide by its own decisions. If there was any depression in agriculture arising from the influence of seasons or from other causes, then the best remedy, in his view of the case, would be a vigorous outlay of capital on the land, with a view to its further improvement. But he thought that the Government or the Legislature could do nothing more calculated to damp the ardour of the agricultural body than to show them, by any act of theirs, that they were dissatisfied with the existing order of things, and intended to make fresh alterations. If the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport, or the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton, were to be admitted, there would be a total suspension of agricultural improvement until the Committee which should be appointed should make their Report; and as that Committee would have to go into a great variety of matters, and at the end would most probably propose some measure of legislation, it was not advisable to risk the great loss and injury that would accrue in consequence of that suspension. The Government did not deny that there was a certain amount of protecting duty in favour of agriculture; but they did not express any intention of altering it, but the contrary. That the subject was a fair subject for discussion in that House they freely admitted, and in that House they were quite ready to discuss it. But he argued that, as it would only give rise to debate if the Motion were agreed to, it was unnecessary to appoint a Committee up-stairs for the purpose of that debate, when it could be as well discussed by the House. Besides, to what practical result could it lead? There could be no difficulty in foretelling the decision which would be given by that Committee, the constitution of that Committee being known. Indeed, if he (Mr. S. Herbert) knew who were to be the majority, he would undertake beforehand to write their Report himself—hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House could therefore offer no excuse for shelving the question on a Committee. They had made out no case for one. The Government were bound by their obligation to the community to resist the appointment of Committees, when they did not intend to found any legislative enactment on their respective Reports. The question was eminently one for the House to discuss; and the Government were perfectly willing to give any facility they could offer for its discussion. And though they might have to witness the struggles of certain unfortunate Members to dress up the arguments of a six nights' debate, in a speech on the seventh, they were perfectly resigned to that annual infliction. The hon. Gentleman did not expect his Motion to be successful: he only desired an opportunity to express his opinions on the subject of it; and that he would have afforded to him in a debate in that House. He trusted, however, that the House would not lend itself to any Motion calculated to create hope that would only end in disappointment; and which, as far as the repeal of the import duties on corn was concerned, was certain to create panic and alarm among those whom the hon. Gentleman who had an Amendment on the Paper was most anxious to shelter. He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Amendment, and that the House would put a decided negative on the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport.

Viscount Howick

said, he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had refused to agree to the inquiry which had been proposed by the hon. Member for Stockport; and he should add that he thought the grounds which the right hon. Gentleman had assigned for opposing that inquiry were altogether insufficient. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House, that Committees to inquire into agricultural distress were of no use. That was, indeed, a new doctrine with hon. Gentlemen opposite; for he remembered the time when the appointment of Committees to inquire into agricultural distress was a favourite proposition with them. He denied the fact that—judging from experience—it could be said Committees to inquire into agricultural distress were useless. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had truly said, that some of the early Committees to inquire into this subject had made Reports recommending measures which it was most fortunate were not adopted; but let the House remember that the very fact of knowing the views of those former Committees on the subject was by no means without its use; and that the Report of a later Committee than that to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded was most important in its bearing on the question before them. The very first step which was taken in altering the system of protection established by the Act of 1815, grew out of the Report of a Committee, the majority of whose Members was composed of country Gentlemen; and it was worthy of remark, that on that occasion the county Members, who formed a majority of the Committee of 1821 adopted the able Report written, he believed, by Mr. Huskisson, which pointed out so clearly the injury done to agriculture by the mischievous law of 1815; and the repeal of this law, a few years after, and the mitigation of the absurd system of protection by the Act of 1828, had been mainly owing to the labours of this Committee. The Committees of 1833 and 1836 were also the means of bringing together a body of evidence which was in the highest degree useful and important; and the Report of the Committee of 1833, drawn up by the present Secretary of State for the Home Department, was one that had been found very useful. [Mr. S. Herbert: I excepted that Committee.] The right hon. Gentleman had excepted the Report of his Colleague, which he admitted was useful. He agreed in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman; but he thought it was useful, not in the sense in which the right hon. Gentleman meant, but for an opposite reason,—namely, that it contained arguments which were fatal to the system which the right hon. Gentleman was desirous to bolster up. The right hon. Gentleman had asked of what use was a Committee of this kind? He said, if they were desirous of considering the soundness of the principles of this law, why not debate the matter in this House? No doubt it was a question involving great principles, which ought to be discussed in that House; and, so far as he was concerned, his opinion was made up on the subject, so that he did not wish to wait for the result of the inquiries of a Committee. He could not, therefore, say that the appointment of a Committee would afford a sufficient reason for the postponement of the Motion of which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had given notice. But was this any reason for refusing the inquiry? Was there nothing, he would ask, which a Committee might do, beyond debating the principle of protective duties? It appeared to him that there was; and that a Committee such as that which had been proposed by the hon. Member for Stockport, was one that might be made available for eliciting much valuable information which it was necessary and most desirable to obtain. Whenever the important subject of the Corn Laws was debated in that House, they always heard the most diametrically contradictory assertions, with respect to their operation and effects, from different sides of the House; and would it not be most desirable, in order to test those assertions, that a Committee should be appointed by which the truth could be elucidated, and the facts ascertained beyond doubt or dispute? The Committee was not to be supposed merely to debate the principle of protection. Why should it not also inquire into matters of fact, and see where the truth really lay? There were many important points of information with respect to which they ought to inquire; and was it not desirable that they should have all those facts before them, in order that they might be put in a position to ascertain whether the existence of protective laws had not the effect of encouraging false expectations in the minds of the farmers? It was asserted at his side of the House—and those who asserted it were prepared to prove it before the Committee if it were granted to them—that the protective system had the effect of encouraging expectations in the minds of the farmers, that they were to have a certain price maintained for their produce, and that the effect of creating these delusive expectations had been to bring ruin and distress upon hundreds of persons. There was another point on which it was desirable to have as much accurate information as possible. It was most material to know what were the effects of high and low prices of corn on the wages of labour? They had often heard it boldly stated in that House, by hon. Members on the opposite Benches, that low wages were the invariable result of low prices; but he (Lord Howick) had enjoyed the satisfaction tonight of hearing the right hon. Gentleman who had last spoken say, that low prices—when those prices were brought about by plenty—were for the benefit of all classes in the community. So far as the labourer was concerned, that was true, in the existing state of the law; but how would he reconcile that statement with the fact, that during the operation of a protective system to agriculture, low prices had been uniformly found accompanied with what the right hon. Gentleman would call most whining complaints of agricultural distress? The right hon. Gentleman had said that low prices were not so much this year the cause of distress as the failure of crops in the southern counties combined with those prices. Perhaps, to a certain extent, such an explanation of the present distress might be just; but it certainly would not account for former periods of agricultural distress, of which the Marquess of Chandos complained, not certainly in what the right hon. Gentleman called a "whining tone," but in language which he did not know how to designate, except by saying that it was something like what the old Statutes describe as that of a sturdy beggar. How did the right hon. Gentleman reconcile the Report of 1833, which drew so melancholy a picture of the state of the agricultural districts at that period, with the opinion he now expresses—that low prices brought about by plenty, were for the advantage of all classes? There had been no such partial failure of crops as that to which the right hon. Gentleman attributes the present distress in 1833 and 1836; yet the Report of the Committee of 1833 had the following passage,— The Committee of 1821 expressed a hope 'that the great body of the occupiers of the soil, either from the savings of more prosperous times, or from the credit which punctuality commands in this country, possess resources which will enable them to surmount the difficulties under which they now labour.' Your Committee, with deep regret, are bound rather to express a fear that the difficulties alone remain unchanged; but that the savings are either gone or greatly diminished—the credit failing, and the resources being generally exhausted; and this opinion is formed, not on the evidence of rent-payers, but many most respectable witnesses, as well owners of land as surveyors and land agents. If they believed in that Report, they must regard the low prices—which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) had said were beneficial in their effects—as ruinous to the farmers of England. Amongst other questions which it would be important to inquire into, was the question, what effect the removal of protection from articles which formerly enjoyed it, and were now deprived of it, had produced in reference to those articles. Let them look to the predictions and anticipations of the Duke of Richmond and the Southdown wool growers in 1828, and compare those predictions with the effect which had been produced by the removal of the duties on wool; or let them look to the anticipations of the Member for Berkshire in 1842, as to the ruin to the farmers which would ensue from allowing the importation of fat cattle, and see how they could be reconciled with the result of the removal of the former prohibition. It would, he repeated, be a most important subject of inquiry for the Committee, if it were appointed, to ascertain what had been the anticipations which were entertained as to the probable effect of the removal of protective duties previous to their removal, and how far they corresponded with the real result of such measures, as shown by experience. Why, he would ask, should protection be so necessary for wheat in this country, when it was unnecessary for the cultivation of flax? Again, they had been often told that the question of protection to agriculture was one which affected the landlords less than the tenants and labourers, and that no reduction of rent would be sufficient to meet the fall in price that would be occasioned by the abolition of the Corn Laws—that, consequently, the land would be thrown out of cultivation, and infinite suffering and distress would be produced amongst the tenant farmers and labourers. The opposite opinion,—namely, that it is only a question of rent, has been maintained with equal confidence; now, if they were allowed a Committee, they should be enabled to compare the contradictory statements on that subject, and to ascertain which statement was borne out by the facts. They could then ascertain whether the rent of land entered so largely into the cost of production as that a reduction of it would enable the farmer to enter into competition with foreign producers in cheap production, or whether the reverse were really the truth. It was impossible to ascertain that by discussion in the House; and, for his part, he should very much like to see the truth elicited fully before a Committee. Those were some of the subjects for inquiry which could be brought before a Committee with great advantage; but he could point out many other practical points of detail, on which it was desirable to have correct information. He could select many important points, with respect to which it was necessary to clear away a mass of loose and contradictory assertions which they were so accustomed to hear in that House, and to facilitate the perfect understanding of this momentous question. But suppose the right hon. Gentleman did think the Committee useless, was that a valid objection to its appointment, when it was asked for by those who were opposed to protection? Suppose hon. Gentlemen opposite had the strongest conviction that the appointment of the Committee would not lead to any practical result, was that a sufficient reason for refusing to inquire into what effect the protection had had upon the tenant farmers and agricultural labourers of England? He certainly thought not; and nothing in the shape of a positive objection to the appointment of a Committee had been urged by the right hon. Secretary at War, but one which was, in his opinion, incomprehensible. He said the agriculturists were men of such delicate nerves, that if the Committee were appointed they would become so alarmed as almost to abandon the cultivation of their farms; that were they to grant this inquiry it would create such a panic there was no knowing what might be the result. The agriculturists must indeed have delicate nerves if the appointment of the Committee proposed by the hon. Member for Stockport could have that effect on them—a Committee which the hon. Member offered to have composed of a majority of those who were of the same opinion with the agriculturists as to the effect of protecting duties on agriculture. They must, indeed, have delicate sensibility if such a Committee could shock their nerves. The right hon. Secretary at War said that the hon. Member for Stockport, and those who supported him, had asked for the Committee to put an end to protection. Undoubtedly, they did not deny it—that was their object; they asked for the Committee on the ground, that if it were granted, it would be proved to demonstration that abolishing protecting duties, not on agricultural produce alone—for they did not demand that the farmer should be obliged to pay a protected price for any article, any more than receive it for corn — but that abolishing protective duties altogether would be a wise and proper course, and the surest means of giving relief to agriculture. If they were allowed to go into their case before the Committee, they would support it by proofs which would be found to be utterly unanswerable. It was because they had such confidence in the strength of their cause, that they were anxious to have the inquiry; and when the right hon. Gentlemen opposite stated that such an inquiry would create a panic in the minds of the agriculturists, he would say that those who refused inquiry would be more likely to create a panic, by showing that they were unwilling to come to close quarters within the walls of a Committee with those who demanded that inquiry. Was not their shrinking from an inquiry of this kind calculated to inspire a strong suspicion that they had not much confidence in their own case? For his part, he (Lord Howick) was persuaded that this would be a well-founded suspicion, and that a want of confidence in the strength of their case was really at the bottom of this refusal of all inquiry by the advocates of protection; he believed they would grant the inquiry willingly and readily, if there were not lurking at the bottom of their hearts a consciousness that the plausible generalities and vague and fallacious sophistries which, dressed up in a speech for that House, might pass muster easily enough in a debate, if subjected to the close scrutiny and searching examination of a Committee, would be found so valueless and worthless that they themselves would be ashamed to bring them forward. It was that lurking consciousness of the weakness of their own case which was at the bottom of this refusal of the Committee—it was the only rational explanation of their conduct. If this is not so, why did they refuse to grapple with the arguments of those who were opposed to protection? If the right hon. Secretary at War thought it inexpedient to grant the Committee, he was the more bound to answer the luminous and able speech with which the hon. Member for Stockport opened the debate; he ought to have attempted to grapple with the arguments of that hon. Member, and to show that there was not a strong reason for supposing that protective duties were not the real cause of the agricultural distress which was so much complained of. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, made no such attempt to answer the arguments of the hon. Member for Stockport; while, at the same time, he has, on the part of the Government, resisted the appointment of a Committee. Since, therefore, those who were anxious for it were not to be allowed an opportunity of going into the matter in detail before a Committee, he would endeavour to show, in the only way permitted to him, what were the facts which, if an inquiry had been granted, they would have been able to prove, in support of the opinion sometime since expressed by his noble Friend the Member for London, that protection was the bane of agriculture. They would, in the first place, have been able to show that protection had been tried for thirty years, in various modifications, and under all circumstances had been a total failure. The gentlemen who calle dthemselves the "farmers' friends" framed the Bill of 1815 after their own hearts—a Bill which the most highflying of the advocates of protection could not object to as not going far enough. That Bill was passed; and what was the result? That in five years after there was an universal cry, from one end of the kingdom to the other, of agricultural distress, in consequence of which a Committee was appointed, composed of a majority of county Members, who adopted a Report to the effect that the Act of 1815 was so faulty it would be necessary to alter it. They did not, however, propose to give up protection. Oh, no; they clung to that as tenaciously as ever; they said that protection was necessary; but that the fault committed in 1815 was making a mistake as to the mode in which that protection should be obtained. In a few years after they altered the law of 1815, and the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel), in 1828, brought in the Corn Bill, which he lately destroyed. But the Bill of 1828 was not sufficient to remove the agricultural distress; and in 1833, 1834, 1835, and 1836, the complaints of distress amongst the agriculturists were beyond precedent clamorous. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in 1833, presided over a Committee appointed to consider the subject of agricultural distress; and he then said to the agriculturists that they were very badly off it was true, but that nothing could then be done for them, and they should wait for better times. That was, shortly, the real substance of the language which he used in the Report of the Committee of 1833. They could not attribute that distress to any of those causes by which they were now in the habit of seeking to account for the failure of the system of protection. It was not owing to agitation, for at that period there was little or no agitation for a repeal of the Corn Laws, as in consequence of the low prices and general advantages resulting from them, the pressure of the Corn Laws was not felt by the country as much as it would have been under other circumstances, and consequently there was no agitation on the subject. The law, however, continued in operation, and the right hon. Baronet came into office. He then said that the then existing law was a bad and bungling job: but that the agriculturists still required protection—that the cause of its being so ineffectual in the former measures, was something faulty in the measures themselves. He adhered to the system of protection—he brought in a new Bill supported by a large majority, and they now witnessed the happy results of that measure in the complaints of the agriculturists. Therefore, the first thing which they would show before the Committee was the failure of a system of protection which for thirty years had been in operation, very much after the plans of the agriculturalists themselves. They would prove also that under a system of protection the advance of agricultural improvement had been slow in an extraordinary degree, when compared with what had been done in other branches of national industry. The right hon. Secretary at War had indeed shown that there had been some improvement in agriculture. No doubt there had. Who denied it? The hon. Member for Stockport did not deny that there had been improvement; but what he said was—and those who sought for a Committee were in a condition to prove it—that the advance in the improvement of agriculture was remarkably slow, and far slower than it ought to be. If they looked to the land generally, they would find the amount of capital expended in its improvement was below what it ought to be, and that its capabilities had not been fully developed by improvements. Would any one deny that? Let them compare the improvements in agriculture with the improvements in every other department of national industry, and they would find what a small progress they had made. In the thirty years during which the highly protective system of Corn Laws had been in force, they had seen steam navigation raised up with a rapidity almost unexmpled from its infancy to the state of advancement and extension which it now presented. During that period railroads had taken their rise, and been advanced to the magnitude which they now exhibit; during that period the improvement in mechanical science in manufactures had been so rapid that those who chronicle such improvements could scarcely keep pace with their advance in recording them; and such was the quickness with which they succeeded each other, that one improvement was only a short time in existence before it was followed by another. It was proved in evidence upon the subject of the exportation of machinery, that almost before the last improved machines could be sent abroad, they were superseded by still newer improvements at home. How different was the case with agriculture! Let any hon. Member ride through the agricultural counties, even through the most advanced in improvement—and he would find acres upon acres of land which would yield an enormous return by improvement and draining, and yet were left neglected. This was the case even in the most improved districts; but in many agricultural counties draining was only just beginning, and in the roost timid and inefficient manner, whilst in nine out of ten farm yards in the country they could see the best manure running to waste, notwithstanding all that had been written by chemists on the advantages of such manure; and this at a time when we were sending to an island on the coast of Africa for a fertilizing manure. They found in agricultural works accounts of various improvements which had been tried, and were known to be advantageous; and why, he would ask, were they not adopted? Why was agriculture behind all other branches of national industry? Any one who went by railroad to the important town of Manchester would find, close to the town, land, which was fertile by nature, and which would yield immense crops of grass; in a district, be it remembered, where there was an unbounded demand for milk and butter, and such produce, amongst a manufacturing population; and yet in those fields they would find nothing but rushes growing, where a few hours' labour would produce excellent grass. They would see, on the other hand, in the very same district, in manufactures an unflagging competition, a competition which never tires, night or day, and under the influence of which, any improvement to effect the saving of a few shillings per cent. was adopted so quickly and generally, that a man was ashamed if he were only a month or two behind his neighbours. How would they account for that difference? It might be said that want of security would explain it. ["Hear, hear."] He would come to that just now; but in the first place he said the want of the stimulus of foreign competition was the cause of the evil. If there had not been that want of stimulus we should not have seen the proprietors of land content to allow their land to remain in the disgraceful condition in which it was. The proprietors would urge their tenants to improvement if the tenants were slack. They would be forward to grant leases, even if the tenants were not eager to obtain them. But the truth was, that intelligent and spirited farmers were invariably anxious to procure leases. Let any Gentleman go through the country and compare farms held upon lease with those held by any different tenure; let them compare Buckinghamshire and East Lothian; let them contrast the property of the Duke of Buckingham with that of the farms in East Lothian, where it was the uniform practice to grant leases. He said, therefore, that the slow progress of agricultural improvement was caused partly by the absence of the stimulus of foreign competition; but still more by the want of security, and that security would not be given whilst protection existed. The hon. Member for Somersetshire had cheered him when he talked of the want of security. He knew that hon. Gentleman wanted to throw the blame of that want of security upon the Anti-Corn Law League, and to contend that but for that body security would exist and improvement would go on; but if that were his meaning, he would thank the hon. Gentleman to tell him by and by why security had not existed before the Anti-Corn Law League was formed? He would tell the hon. Gentleman why. It was for this reason, and for this reason only—men saw that under the system of protection in all its shapes there were constantly recurring periods of agricultural distress. These ebbs and flows of distress he believed to be inseparable from protection. Men observed this before the Anti-Corn Law League came into operation, and before there was any outcry on the subject of the repeal of the Corn Laws. The farmers might not have understood the evils of the protection system; but people did not fail to see that there was something different in the state of agriculture and of those trades which did not need the sickly aid of protection, and that the former was liable to recurring periods of greater difficulty than the latter. They recollected the distress of 1822, and of 1833, and were consequently afraid to invest their capital in so precarious an employment. This, and this only, accounted for the fact that there were in this country enormous tracts of land capable of yielding large returns and immense profits, and that at the same time capital was flowing out of the country at great risk, and that, even subject to direct loss in case of war—money was invested by the people of this country in French railroads and foreign loans, rather than in the most essential agricultural improvements. He challenged Gentlemen to produce any other reasonable mode of accounting for the absence of spirit and enterprise in the investment of capital in agricultural improvements, than what he had assigned. This discouragement had existed before the Anti-Corn Law League came into operation; but of course it was much greater now. He did not deny that; of course when you taught men that protection was necessary, and that in order to carry on their trade it required to be bolstered up by the adventitious aid of protection, they would be afraid to invest their capital, when there were obvious signs that that protection would speedily fail. Could they prevent that conviction from being impressed upon the people's minds — could they prevent men from knowing the views of the Government with respect to the principles of free trade—could they prevent them seeing, from what had already happened, that the gradual operation of improvements irresistibly carried us all on, day by day, in the direction of the emancipation of industry from restrictions? This was utterly out of their power. The Government might have a Parliamentary majority — they might, and no doubt they would, reject the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport, by a majority of two to one—and he told them that then they would have done nothing to restore that security which they themselves admitted to be necessary. But he had gone farther than he had meant in answer to the right hon. Secretary at War on this point, because it had been treated so completely by the hon. Member for Stockport, that he was ashamed to occupy the time of the House in repeating, with inferior force, what had been so ably urged by that hon. Gentleman. Let him, therefore, turn to what he thought a still more important and a still more serious part of the question—he meant the effect of the system of protection upon the labouring classes, and, above all, upon the labouring classes in the agricultural districts. Here again he thought Gentlemen opposite must admit, with the same sorrow that he felt in stating it, that here also there was a primâ facie strong case against the principle of protection. Could they deny that after thirty years the present condition of the agricultural labourer in the southern counties of England—those counties which were purely agricultural—was such as it was impossible for any man of ordinary feeling to regard without the deepest sense of sorrow and alarm? Could they attempt to deny the fact of the lamentable condition of the agricultural labourer in the south of England? Some light had, of late years, been thrown on this subject by the inquiry that had been instituted into it. He did not wish to judge of the condition of the agricultural labourer by the mere money wages which he received; that would be a fallacious test; but by the proportion which he enjoyed of the necessaries and the comforts of life. If the condition of the agricultural labourer were so judged, he asked, was it not admitted to be one of great privation? They all knew it had been ascertained that the ordinary expenditure of the labourer for his family gave such an allowance for each member of it, that it was utterly impossible to conceive how they managed to exist. They knew that of bread they had far from a sufficiency; that meat they seldom or never touched; that their clothing was very inadequate; that their lodging was too often of the most wretched description; that their average consumption of tea, beer, coffee, sugar, and all those articles which might be considered perhaps, in some degree, as luxuries, but which habit had rendered necessaries, was infinitely below the scale that could be considered sufficient. We knew that in the Union workhouses, where, in justice to the ratepayers, it was necessary to maintain the inmates on a frugal scale, and where there was all the advantage of purchasing goods wholesale, while the poor man bought his goods at the village shop at an enormous advance of price, that, notwithstanding all this, a man and his family could not be kept—even making no allowance for their lodging, for which they often paid very dearly—for much less than double what the man, as an independent labourer, generally received. This was an undeniable fact, proved by papers on the Table, and the population were grievously suffering from an inadequate supply of the articles which he had enumerated. How did Gentlemen account for these facts? He said they were immediately traceable to the restrictions upon the supply of food; but he wanted to know how Gentlemen opposite accounted for it? He presumed they would grant to him that, if the labouring classes enjoyed so much less than they ought of the necessaries of life, it must arise from one or other of these causes—either the whole supply of those necessaries must be below the wants of the nation, or else the labourer must, out of that whole supply, not receive his fair proportion; or both these causes must be combined (which he believed to be the truth)—the whole supply must be too small, and even of that scanty supply the labourer must not receive his due proportion. One or other of these, and only one of these, suppositions could account for the fact of the population being so ill supplied with the necessaries and comforts of life. But if this were admitted, he would endeavour to show that those restrictions upon the freedom of industry which were called protecting duties, tended directly and necessarily, first, to diminish the whole supply of articles necessary to meet the national wants; and, next, unfairly to alter the distribution of that supply, much to the disadvantage of the poor. These points he should endeavour to prove. As to the first, it was so plain and so simple, that he could hardly understand how it could be contested. He said the effect of protective duties—the whole system taken altogether—the policy of maintaining protective laws, was to diminish the national supply of those articles which we consumed. He would take, as an example of their effect, that article which had lately been so much discussed—sugar. He had shown a few nights ago, by the prices of sugar at the time in bond, that precisely the same amount of money — or of manufactures, which was the same thing—would be given in exchange for twenty-six tons of Brazilian sugar as would be required to pay for only eighteen and a half tons of Colonial sugar; that is, that, by the restrictive laws now in force, the British manufacturer was compelled to accept in return for his goods only eighteen and a half tons of sugar, when he could otherwise obtain twenty-six tons. He had taken the case at a disadvantage to himself, because at the time the difference between the prices of Colonial and Brazilian sugar was smaller than it usually was, or than it would be under the proposed scale of duties. Did Gentlemen deny that this diminished the supply of sugar to meet the national wants; that if this law did not prevail, for every eighteen and a half tons of sugar that were now brought in, we might have twenty-six tons, and that there would be in that proportion a larger supply for the consumption of the people? How, he asked, was this argument met? No man had ventured to contest the accuracy of his statement. All that Gentlemen on the other side could do was to contend, for reasons which they assigned, reasons which he considered inadequate (but into which this was not the time to inquire), that, for certain reasons, whether good or bad, we ought to submit to this sacrifice; but the fact that there was such a sacrifice they had not attempted to gainsay. It was universally confessed that this differential duty on Foreign sugar did diminish the produce which, in return for a certain amount of labour, would be available for the supply of the national wants. What was true of sugar was true of coffee, was true of meat, was true of timber which built the cottages of the poor; in short, it was true of the whole circle of protecting duties, and he therefore, said, that even upon the admission of the Gentlemen opposite, it was demonstrable that the collective effect of protecting duties was to diminish the supply of all those very things which the population wanted, and from the want of which they had suffered the most pressing and pinching distress; and that for the same amount of money, or of labour, they could procure a larger supply of necessaries, but that our fiscal laws prevented it. He was not talking of laws for raising revenue; even distinct from the rise of price which was consequent upon revenue duties, those imposed merely for what was called protection, which brought no money into the Exchequer, raised the price and diminished the sum-total of those articles of necessity or comfort which the population enjoyed. This was the tendency of these laws; and he went further, and said that this was their avowed object and design. These laws had been passed for the express purpose of restricting the supply; and why was this done? The argument was, that it was necessary because otherwise the home producers of certain articles would be undersold by foreigners. What was meant by this? Why, that the same amount of labour or of goods, exchanged with foreigners, would produce a larger supply if we were not restricted to the market at home, or in the Colonies. Protecting duties were maintained for the very purpose of restricting what is considered the too great facility of obtaining a supply of some of the chief articles of consumption. That was an extraordinary policy. Gentlemen opposite sometimes accused those on his side of the House of being theorists. He should like to know who were the theorists in this case. The theory was that people were the worse off for getting all the articles they most wanted upon too easy terms. Now that required at least some proof. To a man of common understanding, not bewildered with fine-spun theories, it would appear that when he found the population suffering from an inadequate supply of bread, meat, beer, sugar, coffee, and all such articles of consumption, that the object should be to render the labour employed in producing them more effective, instead of less so, and to increase the whole stock of necessaries for the supply of the nation. This was the natural conclusion—it was the conclusion arrived at by barbarous nations—by the Turk and the Chinese whom we despised. No doubt barbarians, when they had the power, were often guilty of open violence and barefaced plunder, and took the money out of the pockets of the poor man to put it in their own; but they never were guilty of the hypocrisy of saying, "We will make you comfortable by diminishing the supply of those articles which you consume." The Turks and Chinese had not arrived at that degree of refinement. They had been taught by their forefathers that he was the greatest benefactor of mankind who made two blades of grass grow where but one had grown before, and rendered a large supply available for the wants of the nation, and not he who by restrictions caused the industry of a country to be employed in vain. He thought, then, it was not unreasonable, seeing these two things—first, that the people were suffering from an inadequate supply of many articles, including the necessaries and comforts of life; and next, that that House had passed laws, the avowed object of which was to diminish the amount of those supplies which a given amount of labour could produce—to say that there must be some connexion between the distress and suffering which were endured by the people, and the artificial scarcity which was produced by their laws; and he thought it was not unreasonable to ask for a Committee to inquire whether that supposition was well founded. But he would add further, that while every one of our protective laws, from the greatest to the smallest, was calculated in some way or other to diminish the wealth of the nation, by diminishing the amount of articles of consumption available for the national use, and consequently to diminish the proportion which each individual might hope to enjoy; that while this was the effect of all protecting laws, one of them, the worst of all—he meant, of course, the Corn Law, had this further effect of depriving the labourer of a fair proportion even of that restricted supply which was available to meet the wants of the country; but for this the population could not be exposed to so much privation, because in spite of all the protecting laws, in spite of all that had been done to diminish the productiveness of labour, the skill and industry of our population were so great, that there was no country in which industry was so productive. In proportion to the number of hands engaged in labour there was no country—there never had been a country—in the world in which the amount of consumable articles was so large as in this; but the law not only diminished the productiveness of industry, but also reduced the proportion of the whole supply of those articles which the labouring classes were enabled to enjoy. He felt that he had occupied so much of the time of the House that he should not go into any details upon this part of the argument. It was the less necessary, as he had endeavoured at considerable length to press this particular argument upon the House last year, upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. He should, therefore, content himself with enumerating, in the shortest and most summary way, the different heads of his argument. He had endeavoured to show that in this country, where industry was most productive, the labouring classes were worse off than in countries where industry is less productive. He had endeavoured to show that this was clearly and directly traceable to restrictions upon the application of labour and capital to the production of food. He had endeavoured to show that in every case where land was easily accessible to the population, wages and profits were high, and that where the power of easily obtaining land was restricted, profits and wages were low; he had endeavoured to show that the effect of the Corn Law was directly to increase the competition for land arising from the too restricted field the surface of our soil afforded for the employment of the labour and capital of so large a population; and that but for the Corn Law, a larger portion of capital and labour might be employed to produce food, by exchanging with the foreigner, thus diminishing that competition for land, which compelled the industrious classes to submit to so large a deduction in the shape of rent from the fruits of their industry. He had shown that this view of the subject was confirmed by the fact that, looking at other countries, we invariably found wages and profits dependent upon the degree in which the land was accessible to the population; that in the United States, in Canada, Australia, in short, in every country where the population was small in proportion to the field of employment, and where there was security for person and property, wages and profits were high, and in opposite circumstances were low. He adverted to these heads for the purpose of reminding the House that his argument had been not, indeed, unnoticed, but unanswered by the right hon. Baronet opposite. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had done him the honour of referring to his argument; but said, that not denying that there was that difference, which he had asserted, between the comfortable condition of the labourer where land was easily accessible, and here, it did not follow that this difference was increased by the Corn Law; that the question as to its cause was a very complicated one; and that various reasons might be urged in defence of the present system. The right hon. Baronet had not, however, been good enough to tell the House what those reasons were, and he should be anxious to hear them in the course of that debate. All that the right hon. Baronet had said was that at New York a great extent of fertile land, easily accessible, was not inconsistent with temporary suffering amongst the mass of the population of New York. If the right hon. Baronet had sought for an instance to make good his argument, instead of controverting it, he could not have found a stronger one, because in the United States of America, as every one was aware, whatever might be the occasional suffering that might exist at times, the great mass of the people were amply supplied habitually with the great necessaries of life. Poverty and distress might exist in other respects, but of food at all events there was in these States an abundance. If we looked at the condition of the people there we should find—and it was a remarkable circumstance—that the poverty and distress which existed in other things—the want of luxuries and comforts—arose from the same cause in the United States as here. It was because they had been unwise enough to copy us in the system of protection—because they had been unwise enough to impose fetters upon the freedom of industry, and not to take full advantage of their unbounded extent of fertile soil, that those distresses existed. Whatever commercial embarrassments they had sustained, whatever difficulties they had gone through, whatever distress they had endured—always however without any want of the necessaries of life—their poverty was traceable to the unwise restrictions they had placed upon the freedom of industry. Therefore, if the right hon. Baronet had sought a case to confirm his argument, that would have been the strongest he could have selected. "And what (asked the noble Lord in continuation) has been the result? The result, I say, has been this: it does appear that the distress of the labouring classes is the direct consequence of your laws; that you are responsible for the mass of suffering which exists; that it is the maintenance of restrictions upon the freedom of industry which alone accounts for the existing state of things; and that if you refuse to-night an inquiry, and at the same time insist upon maintaining those laws, you must be content to go forth to the country as being afraid to enter upon an inquiry which might prove that you are guilty of the cruelty, in the present state of the people, of maintaining laws which aggravate the existing distress, in the vain hope of benefiting the owners of land. I say, in that position you must stand: you must be so considered, unless you not only rebut those arguments, but consent to meet them hand to hand in the close quarters of a Committee. You must otherwise be liable to the charge of maintaining laws for the benefit of the owners of land, which laws aggravate the existing distress of the labourers of the soil. Have you considered how far this conduct is consistent with the Divine precept, that the labourer is worthy of his hire? For my part, ever since I have had the honour of a seat in this House, from the earliest day when I had the privilege of sitting in it, I have never ceased to profess the same opinions. I have now declared only the same views I have always avowed as to the impolicy of the whole system of protection. In no speech have I ever, in this House, said one word, recognising the legitimacy of a system of protection, whether to a greater or a less extent; but I confess that until the discussions of the last two or three years, I have not been accustomed to look at the subject quite in the serious light in which I now regard it. I was not aware of the extent to which protective laws are unjust to the poor, and in contravention of the sacred precepts of the Divine Law. I was not aware of this; but when I look closely at the subject, and observe all the phenomena of society in this country, I do feel that this is an awful and a serious question. The right hon. Gentleman has stated, and truly stated, that one of the worst symptoms of a diseased state of society in this country is the daily increasing contrast between the great wealth of the few, and the great poverty of the many. This was truly stated; and when we compare the condition of the owners of the soil with the condition of those who cultivate the soil, we see that the income of the one has, within the last century, constantly increased, and that of the other constantly diminished. [Indications of dissent from the Ministerial side.] If you doubt it, give us the Committee; and I will prove the fact, that the rental of Great Britain has increased within the last century, so as to have doubled or tripled within that time; while the style of living amongst the wealthy has been so increased and improved, that even persons of comparatively lower rank now expect conveniences and comforts which, fifty years ago, were unknown to even the highest; but that still, while rents have doubled, the income of the labourer—not in money, but money's worth—has fallen off, and they are suffering pinching want and physical distress, to which their forefathers were strangers. When I look at these things, and see you obstinately bent upon maintaining laws, the necessary effect of which is to keep up rents and to keep down wages, I cannot help asking whether those awful words of Scripture which were originally addressed to the rich in the days of the Apostles, are not equally applicable to us, the ruling class in this country. The words are awful; and Gentlemen will recollect them,— 'Behold, the hire of the labourers which have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.' Gentlemen will remember these words; and, standing here in all soberness and coolness, I declare my deliberate conviction that those who have reaped and ploughed the land, may justly complain that their hire is of us kept back by fraud. I say this is the practical consequence of your legislation; and if as the ruling class of this nation we keep up laws of which the practical effect is to oppress and defraud the poor, we are bound to take to ourselves the solemn warning I have quoted. I say this—but at the same time let me not be misunderstood—I impute to no hon. Gentleman who votes for the continuance of the Corn Law and of protecting duties — I impute to none of those Gentlemen whom I see opposite, that they deliberately and knowingly maintain laws for the purpose of promoting their own interests at the expense of the well-being of the labouring classes. I impute this to no man; I do not for a moment believe that any Gentleman in this House would incur such awful and fearful guilt: but, remember, we shall not be held excused if the protective laws which we maintain are oppressive to the poorer classes, because we keep up those laws in ignorance; if we have not done all that in us lies to enlighten our minds, and to lead us to a just conclusion on these matters. We are bound to recollect that men's hearts are deceitful; that we are unconsciously swayed by our own interests; and that we are bound to neglect no means in our power to dispel any erroneous notions into which we may have fallen, and which may have led us into the error of passing laws of which the effect has been to increase the burdens of that dire poverty which is so severely felt by our brethren of humbler rank. You are bound by solemn obligations not to neglect that duty, and to avoid an evil so fearful in its effects; and if you have not done all in your power to inform yourselves on these points, I ask you how you can justify to your own consciences the refusal of the inquiry called for by the hon. Member for Stockport? Do you pretend to say that our arguments are utterly frivolous and unworthy of refutation? I do not ask you at once to surrender your judgment; but I ask you to go into Committee, and consider these matters in detail, in order to ascertain beyond doubt or dispute the facts upon which this high and momentous question rests. Do so, and I am content to abide by your decision; but, until you do so, you are not justified in the eyes of God or man, if you maintain these laws and refuse inquiry, while you yourselves propose nothing to relieve the labouring classes from any part of their sufferings. I say, the fact of the habitual sufferings of the labouring poor is in itself a proof that there must be something wrong in the system which permits that suffering." The noble Lord continued to say, it was true that it was the lot of man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; but when he looked at the bounty with which, in return for labour, nature yielded all that can conduce to our welfare, he could not for a moment doubt but that the Almighty and beneficent Creator intended that the very labour which he pronounced as a curse, when honestly given and properly applied, should always be certain of meeting with its reward. The existence of a state of things in which hundreds and thousands of our population were daily entreating, as the highest favour which could be bestowed upon them, to be allowed, by hard work, to gain a bare subsistence, while even that favour they could not obtain—the existence, he repeated it, of such a state of things as this was, to his mind, a demonstration beyond all reasoning which had been applied to the subject, that there was something essentially and radically wrong in the laws. If hon. Gentlemen could point out some other fault—some other error—or some other means of correcting what was amiss, he, for one, stood ready prepared fairly to consider anything of the kind which they might propose. If they could not do this, he would once again ask them, how they were justified in allowing such a state of things to continue to exist, and at the same time to reject inquiry? Let them remember that every man amongst them was as answerable for the use which he made of his political power and influence, and for the part which he took in that House, as a Member of it, with a view to the welfare of the humbler classes of the community, as he was responsible for his conduct in private life. Upon that solemn truth, they were bound, in his opinion, seriously to reflect; and if they did so reflect, he could hardly bring himself to believe, that they would consent to reject the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport.

Mr. Stafford O'Brien

was quite sure that the suspicion never entered into the minds of hon. Members on his side of the House, that the noble Lord had any intention to apply the quotation which he had made from the sacred writings to any one personally; and he could not help expressing his opinion that it appeared to be far easier to bandy texts and to quote impressive sentences, than to make charitable allowances for those who conscientiously, and with a fair and equitable purpose, happened to arrive at a totally different conclusion from that expressed by the noble Lord and other hon. Members. He should, however, pass to a different part of the subject under discussion, and observe that the noble Lord had, in the latter part of his observations, somewhat relieved the agricultural class from the hard and undeserved aspersions which he had cast upon them in the earlier portion of his speech, by admitting that there were no classes in other countries able to compete with the English as artisans, manufacturers, and the other employments of social life; and when he added the fact that there was more corn grown upon a given quantity of land in England than in any other country in Europe, except the Netherlands, then he must assert that he did not think the House would consider the case of the hon. Member opposite had been made out as against the present state of the agricultural affairs of the kingdom. The noble Lord had alluded to the backward state of cultivation near Manchester; but upon this point there appeared to be a very considerable contrariety of opinion between him and the hon. Member for Stockport; for that hon. Member had stated incidentally, during a debate on a previous evening, that as he had receded from the tall chimneys of the manufacturing towns, so he found he receded from all signs of improvement in agriculture; whereas the noble Lord had illustrated the agricultural condition of the immediate vicinity of Manchester, by stating that rushes were suffered to grow on some of the best and most improvable land, simply because the people would not take the trouble, or did not possess skill enough to drain it. Now, he could not but remark upon the statements to which he referred, that if such were the case, the hon. Member for Stockport needed not give himself the trouble of going far into the agricultural districts to discover bad tillage and ignorant farmers; but he might by looking around his own immediate neighbourhood find farms that required draining, and rushes that might be removed. He hoped the House would allow him to state the case as between himself and the hon. Member for Stockport, with reference to the Motion before it, and also with respect to the course which he should feel it necessary to pursue on the occasion. The hon. Member for Stockport, during the late discussions on the Speech from the Throne, had expressed his surprise that no one had risen on behalf of the agricultural interest, and he stated, as they had been so remiss in their duties, he should give notice at some future day of his intention to bring forward a Motion on the subject, unless it were taken up by some hon. Member connected with land. The hon. Member for Somersetshire then said, he should take some time to consider the subject, whilst his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire, with that decision of character which distinguished him, promptly declared against any inquiry being instituted. The hon. Member for Stockport then asked why that inquiry should be refused, upon which he (Mr. S. O'Brien) at once said, that so far from being opposed to such an inquiry, he would vote for the appointment of a Select Committee if it were moved for, and that he would serve on it. Upon this the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government got up and checked him. ("Hear," and a laugh from the Opposition Benches.) Hon. Members must not cheer too soon; time went on, and one morning, on looking over the Votes, he found a notice of Motion standing against the name of the hon. Member for Stockport to the following effect:— A Select Committee to inquire into the causes and extent of the alleged existing agricultural distress, and into the effects of legislative protection upon the interests of landowners, tenant-farmers, and farm labourers. Not one single word did the original notice contain about protection, and he then felt it to be his duty to remind the hon. Member of the intention which he had originally expressed, the very words of which he would find recorded in Hansard, and he then gave notice that he should move as an Amendment to the Motion of the hon. Member,— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the extent and causes of the existing agricultural distress. Upon his doing so the hon. Member for Stockport leaped up and said, that he was not responsible for the phraseology of his notice, and that he would not be bound to bring forward a Motion in the very words of his notice, and that perhaps the hon. Member for Northamptonshire would agree in his Motion when it should be brought on. He now found that the hon. Member had adopted every word of his Motion; but he must declare that he could not give his consent to such a proceeding, which was like that adopted by Gipsies with respect to stolen children. The hon. Member for Birmingham had acceded to his request to second his Amendment for an Agricultural Committee. He had put his notice in the most general terms that he could devise, and if he were found so fortunate as to get a Select Committee granted to him, he would go into the inquiry totally free from every pledge; but certainly with the intention of entering very fully on what did appear to him to be a very hard and oppressive case. It was quite competent for him, had he been actuated by such narrow and prejudiced views as those which the hon. Member for Stockport had exhibited, to have added to his notice the words, "And to take into consideration the diminished profits of the agricultural classes;" or the hon. Member for Birmingham might have embraced an opportunity for bringing forward his peculiar views with respect to the Currency, or have gone into a discussion on the Bill of 1819; but, finding that an acrimonious feeling was likely to spring up, he had simply put on the Paper a Notice referring generally to the different subjects of the inquiry, by which the Committee would not be precluded from entering upon them if matters took that turn. If the Committee which he wanted had been granted, it would have been a farmers' Committee. If the hon. Member for Stockport succeeded in getting the Committee for which he asked, it would not be a Committee for farmers and labourers, but one merely for political economists. How was it possible, let him ask the House, to bring an inquiry such as was proposed to be gone into by the hon. Member's Committee within any reasonable bounds? Suppose every one of the hon. Members opposite were to bring the particular subject in which they individually felt interested under the notice of the Committee, there would be one calling for particular attention to sugar, another to timber, another to corn, and thus no definite object would be attained. How could he, as an agricultural Member, hope for any useful results from such an inquiry? His right hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire had argued against the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport; but he had certainly not brought forward any argument against the Committee which he proposed. The animus of the hon. Member for Stockport's speech in support of his Motion led him to doubt whether he could support him, for that animus was decidedly against the agriculturists and the landholders of England. When he heard the hon. Member's observations about leases to the farmer tenants, and when he heard him describe the subjection of the farmers to the landlords as being so great, then he felt that it would not be becoming in him, as the Representative of an agricultural county, to give the Motion his support. Feeling as he did that the landed classes had done their duty by their country, and believing also that they would continue to do their duty, he found it extremely difficult to vote for the hon. Member, after hearing the hon. Member's speech; and he had the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, for considering that the vote of hon. Members on a Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee must always be guided by the animus of the Mover. He was sorry the Government had not thought proper to grant the Committee for which he asked. He was extremely sorry the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert) had advised him to withdraw his Motion to that effect. He knew what weight attached to all that fell from that gifted individual, and however undisagreeably and amiably the intimation might be conveyed to him, he was fully aware that it was tantamount to telling him that if he did divide the House upon such a Motion, he would find himself in a most miserable minority. He found, there were three parties in presence with regard to the Motion before the House,—the free traders, who were anxious to go into the Committee that they might blow up the country Gentlemen; the Government, which refused the Committee for the old official reason, that it was inconvenient; and a third party, which thought that the Committee, far from pacifying or soothing the irritation that existed, would only increase it. The right hon. Gentleman had asserted that the agricultural distress was only temporary, he might be right in that, but if he thought it was local he was altogether wrong. And as he was to be refused the Committee, he hoped the House would excuse him if he read a few extracts from what was recorded of the speeches and sentiments of the agricultural classes when they met together. Those classes had spoken hardly of the Government, hardly of themselves, and hardly of their landlords. If what they alleged was true, then a Committee ought certainly to be granted; but he believed that if the landlords had a Committee they would be able to convince the agricultural classes of their errors, and perhaps send them back to their farms contented. He would begin his extracts with one from his own county:— At a meeting of the Committee of the Market Harborough Agricultural Society, held at the Swan's Inn, Market Harborough, the 11th of March, 1845, it was resolved unanimously,—that in the alterations of the laws which have been made affecting the agricultural interest during the present Parliament, the interest of occupiers of land has not been fairly protected, and that it is the opinion of this Committee, that the further alterations proposed by Sir Robert Peel will not tend to improve their prospects. That the alteration of the law to admit Foreign meat and cattle at the present low rate of duty was unexpected and uncalled for. That whilst persons engaged in professions and trade have been charged a tax upon income they themselves have admitted, that tax has been levied upon the occupiers of land upon a profit (assumed for them) which very few (if any) in this district have realized; and that whilst persons not engaged in the business of the occupation of land have had an equivalent for the Income Tax in the reduced price of provisions, the property of the occupiers of land has been sacrificed to produce that equivalent. That if the agricultural interest continues to be neglected, the condition of the occupiers will be reduced, the demand for agricultural labour lessened, and the land get into a worse state of cultivation. That was from Market Harborough. He would now go at once to the north, and show that the feelings which prevailed in his county were not confined to that locality. The place was Durham, and the following was the language of a petition which was adopted at a meeting there of the Agricultural Protection Society on the 1st of March,— The humble petition, &c., showeth, that your House cannot fail to be aware, that your petitioners have been most materially injured by the late alterations in the Corn Law, the Tariff, and the Canada Corn Importation Act. That all these enactments were passed for the purpose of reducing in price all articles of which your petitioners are the producers, and that to an extent as was, by high authority, stated to be equivalent to the Income Tax. Thus, all classes, not being the producers of articles of food, were stated to be enabled to pay this tax without loss of property. Your petitioners, therefore, beg to remind your hon. House, that their annual returns have thus been further reduced in a sum at least equivalent to the Income Tax, whilst at the same time the occupiers of land have to pay an Income Tax on half the amount of their rent, although it is notorious that at the present, time they derive little profit from the occupation of the soil. Your petitioners complain of this as great injustice. He begged the attention of the House to the following paragraph,— Your petitioners have carefully examined the financial measures lately introduced into your hon. House, and find that they—the suffering class—have been excluded from any direct benefit in the proposed reduction of taxation. Your petitioners earnestly pray, that, borne down as they are by an intolerable weight of local and general taxation, all salaries and emoluments, civil and military, defrayed by the national treasury, may be reduced in proportion to the great diminution which has taken place in the price of food. Your petitioners further suggest that the principle which has been established by the Tithe Commutation Act for the payment of tithes (viz., that the amount payable for each year should vary according to the average price of a given quantity of wheat, barley and oats,) shall in future be adopted in paying the salaries of all officers of the State, civil and military. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray your hon. House to afford the relief so much needed by themselves, and a very large portion of Her Majesty's subjects. And your petitioners," &c. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wiltshire had stated his belief that the distress was local; but, in order to convince him that such was not the fact, he would next proceed to show that it was neither confined to Northamptonshire nor to Durham, by reading a statement from Devonshire,— At a meeting of agriculturists and others, held at the Sun Inn, Ashburton, Devon, this 6th day of March, 1845, it was resolved,—That it is necessary to take some steps towards relieving the agricultural interest from the depressed state to which it has reached; that the distress is greatly increased by many burdens which fall almost exclusively on that interest; that among the heaviest of these burdens are the poor and highway rates, which in the opinion of this meeting should be made a national charge, inasmuch as it falls very severely on the agricultural interest to maintain those labourers which are thrown on them by the manufacturing interest when the manufacturers cannot profitably employ them, whereas the agriculturists must provide for theirs, and the reasonable course appears to be that all classes should contribute towards the maintenance of the poor and highways, which would be the case if it was made a tax on the nation at large, the incomes from the funds, railroads, and other sources having then to contribute towards the relief of destitution, accidents, &c., which must constantly occur under the existing enterprise and circumstances of this country. That was from Devonshire. The Committee of the Agricultural Protection Society of the Isle of Ely made a Report to the same effect. He had also a petition from the Sleaford Agricultural Protection Association, and if his hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln were in the House he would know the petition. The petition said,— That your petitioners have viewed with regret that the financial measures which have lately been introduced into your hon. House by the First Minister of the Crown do not give the least hope that they are to participate in the proposed reduction of taxation in an equal degree with other parts of the community. Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray your hon. House to review the said financial scheme, and thereby give that assistance which your petitioners are so fairly and justly entitled to. The Shropshire Agricultural Protection Society had done the hon. Member for Durham an honour which was not often done to a member of the Anti-Corn Law League, and had adopted an expression which he had used. They said,— We beg to express our fervent hope, that the members of this Society, and the tenant-farmers of Shropshire generally, will not suffer the good effects of this great demonstration,"—that was the dinner at Freemasons' Hall—"to be lost for want of energetic co-operation. Let them join the protective societies as one man; if they continue apathetic, or divided, inevitable ruin awaits them. United, they become invulnerable. The want of united resistance has occasioned all their distress; and that this great failing is known to their enemies, is proved by an extract from the speech delivered by Mr. Bright, the Member for Durham, on Monday, the 3rd of this month:—'But farmers are generally quiet men, and afraid to speak their minds and act up to their convictions; but he trusted that the time would come when they would show greater independence of spirit.' Let us show Mr. Bright and his fellow Leaguers, that the time is come, and that instead of attacking our landlords, and their agents, as he kindly advises us, we are determined to unite with them in resisting the attacks of a party who seem determined to achieve their own selfish ends, thought it might cause the ruin of every other interest in the State; and, lest we should be unable to unite efficiently, mark the value and truth of his next sentence—'They (the farmers) should unite together to obtain deliverance from those evils which were forced upon them in consequence of their own neglect of their own interests.' There were Resolutions to the like effect adopted at the Rutland Agricultural Protection Society, by the owners and occupiers of land in Leicestershire, by the Essex Agricultural Protection Society, and by the Stafford Agricultural Protection Society. They all spoke in similar terms, and declared that the distress was great in those districts. Therefore, when his right hon. Friend the Member for North Wilts said, that the distress was local, and that it was light, he must take upon himself to inform his right hon. Friend that he did not speak the sentiments of the farmers. That the distress of the farmers might be exaggerated was possible, and that might arise from the feeling of the farmers that the Government were not aware of the extent or pressure of that distress. He held the opinion that if the distress which existed among the farmers had existed among the manufacturers, there would have been no end to the clamour and the pressure for relief which would have been raised. He did not say that in that case he would have imputed any blame to the manufacturers, and he could not say that in this case there was any blame due to the farmers; and as he would not on the one hand charge the manufacturers with being too clamorous, so he would not on the other charge the farmers with being too supine. It must be remembered also that there was essentially a difference between the two classes, which had been remarked by his right hon. Friend; for it was the habit of the one class perpetually to combine, and the habit of the other class to endure isolated and alone. Therefore, when complaints of distress came before the House, hon. Members should recollect this distinction between the characters of those two parties. His right hon. Friend the Member for North Wilts said that he did not wish the agriculturists to come whining to that House. He would indeed be sorry to see the bold yeomanry of England come whining to that House. He believed that when they came to that House they would speak out; and he was sure that nothing was further from his right hon. Friend's meaning than to say it was whining, when any portion of Her Majesty's subjects felt the pressure of distress, and when they thought that legislative enactments would be able to remove it, if they came before the House, and asked for a Committee to inquire into the cause of their distress;—he was certain that his right hon. Friend was the last man to mean that the farmers of England so coming before that House and speaking by their petitions, or by the voice of their Representatives, could be charged with making whining complaints. He knew with what anxiety every word uttered by the Government would be read by the agriculturists; and he was desirous of doing away with the effect of an expression which was not intended, and which was somewhat uucourteous, not to say unkind. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland had referred to the effect of the lowering of the duty upon cattle, and to the repeal of the duty on wool and on flax: and if he might be permitted to say so, he considered that no three articles could be more infelicitous for the noble Lord's argument. Now, if they took the case of cattle, much as the noble Lord was respected, he would not stand very high in that House as a practical breeder, if he expected that in the course of three years the whole effect of the Tariff could be expected to be realised. Then with respect to flax, the remarks did not apply to flax that had been grown in this country, but to flax to be grown. Whether flax could be grown in this country without a protecting duty remained to be seen. The other day he was speaking to a practical farmer on this subject, and what he said was, "Oh! if you will only give us a protecting duty upon flax, we could grow it very well in England." The noble Lord had argued as if flax were now grown in this country without a protecting duty; he denied that this was to any extent the case, at least not in England. [Viscount Howick: It was grown in Ireland.] In Ireland it was true that flax was grown, but the noble Lord was speaking of England; and whether it could be grown in this country without a protecting duty, was still a matter of doubt. The noble Lord had also alluded to the duties upon wool; but the noble Lord would remember that when the repeal of the wool duty was agitated last year, the agricultural body did not oppose it. Let the noble Lord, then take the case in this way,—as the agricultural body did not, in 1844, oppose the removal of the duty on wool, the noble Lord might give them credit for the exercise of some degree of wisdom when they opposed the repeal of the duties upon corn; the noble Lord might give them credit for being able to discover what duties might be safely repealed and what must be retained; and that whilst, on the one hand, some parties would lead them to a blind and infatuated view in favour of the repeal of every duty, when others would keep on all duties, the agriculturists were calmly applying their minds to the question of restriction and freedom; and that in the proposals for the removal of restrictions which had come before Parliament, their decision did equal credit to their wisdom, whether they refused, or whether they conceded the removal. He was sorry, as he had said before, that the Government had chosen to refuse him his Committee. He stood there, and he was returned to that House, as the supporter of a system of protection; he was returned to advocate protective principles; from those principles he was not aware that he had ever swerved, and, so long as he could, he would strenuously adhere to them. He had never seen any reason to shrink from the advocacy of his own principles; and as he believed those principles to be true, so it was his belief that there was no fear to be apprehended from an inquiry. He was not going to say in that House that it would be wise and prudent to grant every inquiry that any Member might propose at his own time, on his own terms, and for his own purposes; but he said, when he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, get up in his place, and, in introducing his Bill to alter the law of settlement, tell them that one person in every ten was receiving parochial relief; and when, in addition to this, he was able to bring such statements from the whole of the counties in England on the subject of agricultural distress,—then he said it seemed to him that the time was come when they should grant this inquiry. It might be said, that the questions to be proposed to these farmers would be beyond their understanding; it was extremely unfortunate, however, that those questions which were said to be beyond their understanding were not beyond their misunderstanding, and that they often acted upon this misunderstanding in a manner dangerous to themselves as well as to others. He did hope—and it was only his individual opinion—that the Government, before this discussion came to a close, as they were to have no Committee of Inquiry, would do himself and the farmers the justice of saying, that they had not shrunk from bringing forward their petitions stating their case and their desire for inquiry. Seeing the hon. Member for Manchester opposite (Mr. Gibson), he trusted also that the Government would be able to give the House some intimation that they had already taken some steps to further the measure brought forward last year by the hon. Member to obtain exact information, and to insure accurate statistical facts as to the quantity of agricultural produce. He did not wish to re-establish the Board as it was in the time of Sir John Sinclair; but he did hope that some Member of Her Majesty's Government would give them an assurance that this subject had been taken into their serious consideration. His right hon. Friend the Member for North Wilts, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding, had been very merry at the circumstance of seeing him in communication with the hon. Member for Stockport, and their mirth might be again excited by the appeal he had now made in favour of the proposition of the hon. Member for Manchester; but whenever he thought that any Member on any side of the House, and of any party, proposed anything favourable to agriculture, he would make no distinction of party, and would not, for any such distinction, withhold his support; and he would tell those hon. Gentlemen, and he would tell them in all sincerity, honesty, and fairness, that if they, either in or out of that House, remarked an independent Member on that side of the House go to any Member on the other side of the House, it was not that communication which the farmers feared but what they did fear was, that while the Benches in that House were distinct, and while there were still two sides of the House, one side was leavening its practice in legislation by the principles of the other side. The hon. Member for Stockport had eulogized the aristocracy of this country. The aristocracy had always stood by the people, and he believed they would stand by the people now. Whilst they were determined to maintain the agricultural peasantry—and whilst they felt that the great merit and advantage of agriculture over manufactures was, that if any evil existed it could be more readily brought home to the party whose fault it was, he was certain that they would belie the history of the past—they would belie the promise of the future—they would belie all he had ever read or seen of them; if they refused at all proper times, however large might be their majority in that House—however preponderating might be their influence in the country—if they refused to take into their most anxious consideration the great question of the food of the people.

Mr. Bright

said, that if he had entered that House with any doubt upon his mind as to the propriety of the vote he ought to give on the Motion before them, that doubt must have been entirely dissipated upon hearing the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He had never heard the speech of an agricultural Member, since he himself became a Member of that House, so clear, so explicit, and so easy to be understood. He thought it was a speech entirely to the question before the House. The hon. Member had brought statements from some half dozen counties in the kingdom, proving the serious amount and degree of distress that existed. He looked upon the hon. Member as fully qualified to discuss this question. He held a dignified station in a society established for the protection of Agriculture; and he had no doubt but that the hon. Member must, in the rooms in Bond-street, have come in contact with those engaged in farming. There was, however, one fault in the speech—it was of the see-saw class. There were a number of paragraphs in favour of a Committee, and then there were a number of paragraphs against it. It seemed to be balancing between the hon. Member for Stockport and the right hon. Secretary at War. And now he could hardly say, after the speech that had been delivered, whether the hon. Member intended to vote for a Committee or against it; but this he would say, that the hon. Gentleman had made an infinitely more creditable speech than he made on a former occasion; when, for two mortal hours, he had read extracts from speeches of humble and unimportant Members of the Anti-Corn Law League. He trusted, however, that the course which the hon. Member had adopted on this occasion would be followed by the agricultural Members who had the remotest remnant of independence. His hon. Friend who had introduced this subject seemed to him to have worded his Resolution with great dexterity, in the hope that agricultural Members would support it; and at the same time he had delivered a speech which must prove a very convincing one to the farmers who read it. He thought that after that speech, there was no county Member who could refuse voting for the Motion of his hon. Friend—that the Member who did so would place himself in an unhappy situation with his constituents, they would be so disappointed. On the occasion on which the hon. Member for Stockport asked the hon. Member for Somersetshire if he intended to bring forward his Motion for a Committee on agricultural distress, he (Mr. Bright) stated his reasons why he believed a Committee would be refused. There were only three things which could be decided before a Committee. First, to recommend Government to increase protection; or, secondly, to diminish the taxes pressing on agriculture; or, thirdly, to abolish protection altogether. Now, the right hon. Baronet had already told them that it would be impossible to go back to the system of protection—that it was not possible to increase protection, and that if it were possible, it would do no good. As to taxes on agriculture, when a deputation from the agriculturists waited on the right hon. Baronet they were treated very cruelly. There was a cruelty in the seeming kindness of asking them what particular tax it was that they wished to have removed? He believed it was said, that as to the malt tax there could be no hope as to its removal. What, then, was the only other matter left for the agriculturists to complain of? — the county rates. The hon. Member for Somersetshire had told them of the county rates. Now, what was the whole amount of the county rates? They did not come to more than about 4d. the acre; and 8s. a quarter, which had been proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London, was not considered as sufficient to compensate for the burdens on the land. They could not go back upon protection—they could not hope for a remission of taxes; then the last and only thing possible was to abandon protection—that which old prejudices and long-formed opinions of hon. Members made them most anxious to avoid. In doors and out of doors there was great difference of opinion on this subject. Why then not have a Committee? They had allowed Committees upon questions that were of far less importance than this. One hon. Member, the Member for the county of Durham (Mr. Liddell) last year had a Committee on dog stealing. The other day they granted a Committee on the game laws. There a great difference of opinion had existed both in and out of doors; and when the subject was brought forward by a Member of the Anti-Corn Law League, by one who was against their system for the preservation of game, there was an extraordinary unanimity on the opposite side as to a Committee. It was a beautiful thing to see how little objection there was offered to an inquiry, in which so many hon. Members were so deeply interested. He was afraid, however, that the right hon. Baronet had not taken the same precautions with this subject, that he had deemed it wise and prudent to adopt as to that. Had the right hon. Baronet called his ninety Members into Downing-street, had he permitted them again to breathe its pure atmosphere, he believed that more unanimity would be found to prevail on the opposite Benches. He could not see why they should refuse to grant this Committee now, when he was sure that they must have one on the same subject at no distant period, if they did not go to the abolition of protection without any previous inquiry. The Secretary at War had attempted some reply to the hon. Member for Stockport; but it was the feeling of all parties who listened to the right hon. Gentleman that what he had said was a species of stereotyped speech, such a one as was ready in the public offices for every Minister who refused inquiry; it was prepared, cut and dry, and answered all occasions. The Vice President of the Board of Trade had made a similar speech a few nights before. But the right hon. Gentleman had done something more; he had said that "Covent-Garden would be again given up to the Muses," and he had not only made a speech there, but another down in Wiltshire. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted tonight, that the agricultural labourers were better off this winter than in previous years, because provisions were lower in price now than in former years. That was what the right hon. Gentleman said there; but then it sometimes happened that Members did not make the same sort of speeches in the House of Commons that they made on the hustings. It might be interesting to know the right hon. Gentleman's opinions in Wiltshire. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman to which he alluded, was made at what was called "the Sheriff's Ordinary." It was delivered after the election. The right hon. Gentleman, in addressing his constituents, said:— He wished he could congratulate them in every respect; but, although the agricultural interest was labouring under a depression which none could deny, he would still congratulate them that the combined opposition which had been made against protection to agriculture had weakened rather than strengthened any unfavourable impression towards them. The philosophers who cried out for free trade, which would operate to the ruin of others, would very religiously exclude it from themselves. Protection was for them and them alone. This was said by the right hon. Gentleman; and now he begged to observe, that no one belonging to the Anti-Corn League had ever asked for—had ever defended protection, as applied to manufactures in this country. There was no protection for that very article which it was stated the other night constituted the half of all the exports in value. And yet the authority of a Cabinet Minister was pledged to a statement notoriously contrary to the fact. The right hon. Gentleman thus proceeded:— But their opponents were not stronger than they were two years ago—their meetings were less numerously attended—their subscriptions had diminished in amount. He (Mr. Bright) was glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman's attention was strongly fixed upon them. The right hon. Gentleman said:— Their meetings were less numerously attended—their subscription lists were diminished both in number and amount—and their performances at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, which at first produced such a sensation throughout the country, were now looked upon as being less legitimate than the drama, and not quite as amusing or instructive. The right hon. Gentleman, he was afraid, had not recently attended their meetings, or he would have found great inconvenience from the pressure of persons present. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded:— Standing before them as their Representative, he was ready to justify every vote that he had given. Nor would he make any excuse for supporting the present Corn Law. He was persuaded that the protection under the old law was inordinate, and could never be maintained. He had even thought that 20s. was a higher duty than was necessary; but experience told him the contrary, and he now frankly admitted that he had been wrong. Some hon. Gentleman—he believed that it was the hon. Member for Shrewsbury—had on one occasion complimented the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Treasury, when sitting between two Secretaries of State, on the manner in which he had overcome their prejudices. Here, then, was another Secretary, if not of State, whose prejudices seem to have been overcome by the same means. The right hon. Gentleman then said,— He now thought that protection was not a whit larger than the agriculturists had a right to demand. The present law possessed this advantage—it rallied round it many who would have stood at a distance if the protection had been higher: it had also a greater stability; for no dispassionate man, looking at the burdens of the agriculturist, could say that it ought to be less. There was, moreover, a determination in Her Majesty's Ministers to uphold it. Among the great evils arising from the price of corn being so low as not to be remunerative to the farmer, was, the depressed condition of the labourers. No Corn Law could guarantee any particular price; for instance, under the old law, in 1835, 1836, and 1837, the prices were lower than they were now. In one year, he believed the average of wheat was 37s. But one of the great evils, as he had said, of this low price was, the diminished employment of labourers. This was what the right hon. Gentleman said in Wiltshire; and now he admitted that the labourers were better off in consequence of the low price of provisions. [Mr. S. Herbert: That statement was made by the hon. Member for Stockport.] He understood the right hon. Gentleman, as well as other Members, to make the statement. If the right hon. Gentleman looked to Salisbury, and within a mile of his own residence, he would find the able-bodied labourers picking stones out of the field, and their wages were but 8d. a day. And when the right hon. Gentleman addressed himself to agriculturists, he ought to recollect that his own estates, as well as those of his family, were devoured by game, and that the tenantry suffered the greatest damage from their ravages. Did the right hon. Gentleman give leases? The right hon. Gentleman might or might not; but in the state in which his estates were, he was sure he could not do without a very high degree of protection. He was afraid that the reason why the Committee was refused was, because hon. Members thought that it would be an inquiry into the Corn Law. All these Associations sought for agricultural protection, and they did so in order that they might have agriculture prosperous; whilst all their experience of the past, and all their experience of the present, went to show that, though they had protection, still they were of all classes the most unprosperous. There was no class that had been protected, that since protection had been withdrawn, had not become more prosperous. It was the case with the iron trade. At one time it was protected by a high duty; and when Government proposed to abolish that duty, the ironmasters met, as the agriculturists now did, to protest against it, and to struggle for the continuance of the protection. The result, however, had been, that the importations of Foreign iron diminished, and the exports of English iron had increased ten or twenty-fold; and now the English ironmasters had almost the natural monopoly supply of the entire world. The same result had been attained in the silk trade. It was so with wool, and the same with linen. The hon. Member for Dundee could tell them that the opening of the trade in linen was the making of the trade in Dundee and other parts of the country. But now they had the West Indian interest and the landed interest in Great Britain and Ireland protected. He would not use the language of the right hon. Gentleman, because it might be considered offensive: since, if he said the agriculturists wer now "whining," they once were "blustering;" but now they came in a supplicating tone to ask that protection should be continued. He wondered that the great Central Society should sanction this present proceeding. They had appealed to public opinion, and they could not fly from it. Why, he asked them, did they now keep within their entrenchments? Why not have a fair fight in the open field of a Committee-room? Let them have a Committee, and witnesses on both sides would be heard, and all that was known for and against protection would be laid before the public. There was nothing so much calculated to dispel delusion and establish the truth as a fair and impartial examination before a Committee. And let them bear in mind that those who now asked for the Committee were not party men. They could not surely forget that if it had not been for these very persons, as the right hon. Baronet himself would bear witness, the party on the other (the Ministerial) side might have been put to the great risk and expense of another election last year. He could not easily forget the shout, not only not of approbation, but he might almost say of execration, with which he and those other hon. Members of the Opposition who acted with him on that occasion were received by their own side of the House on their return from the lobby after voting with the right hon. Baronet. They now asked Gentlemen opposite to give them the Committee of Inquiry, in order that they, who were honest protectionists, and those Members of the Opposition, who were honest free-traders, might escape from the mere politicians of the House, and go fairly into the inquiry of what was the effect of the present system of protection upon the fortunes of the farmers, and the comfort and happiness of the labourers. He could tell them they would disappoint the farmers if they refused such investigation. He did not now appeal to the Members on the Treasury Bench, for they were the mere politicians of whom he spoke; but to the country Gentlemen and the independent Members of the other side. He said the farmers would be disappointed if they refused the inquiry. He was sorry he had not with him the innumerable letters he had received from farmers in various parts of the country; for if he were to read them, they would show that he was fully entitled to make that assertion on their behalf. The farmers had sent hon. Gentlemen opposite to the House to guard their interest; but they had done that, or at all events they had permitted the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) to do that, which many of the farmers believed to be unwise and injurious to them, and which the landowners themselves, at some of their agricultural meetings, have told the farmers was not wise, and yet, for the life of us, we cannot get you to examine the great question whether the system is had or not. If they did not value their party more than their principles, they would consent to this Motion if they refused it, their tenantry would believe that their party was of more importance in their eyes than the principles they preached to them at their agricultural meetings. Some fifty years ago, as he had read, the agriculturists, or the country Members, or the country Gentlemen, as they were then called, were important and influential Members of the House. Often might they read of a Mr. Somebody, a country Gentleman of great weight, proposing some Motion against the Government of the day—no man expected flashes of oratory or wit on such occasions—but with, what all expected, common sense and honesty of purpose. The country Gentlemen were then deservedly respected, as having honest and patriotic objects in view, and as forming an independent party who would never yield to Lord This or Lord That, who might happen to be the Minister. They were an independent party in Parliament, and their honesty was acknowledged, and their influence was felt and respected by all classes of the community. That party, however, had fallen into decrepitude and decay, and he believed that the half dozen Members of the Anti-Corn Law League occupied more attention in that House, and engaged more of the attention of the country on important questions, than the 130 or 150 country Gentlemen who came to that House as the Representatives of the agricultural interests. He wished to say nothing disrespectful of those hon. Gentlemen; though he might have spoken somewhat severely of them at times, he believed they had had their satisfaction out of him. He had said nothing more harsh of them than they had of him and those with whom he acted. He thought the country Gentlemen in that House were in this predicament—as had been said of Charles I., that he could see if he would, and of James II., that he would if he could. And with regard to many of those Gentlemen opposite, if they saw the question of protection as he (Mr. Bright) saw it—if they saw it in the same light—he spoke as regarded the national good, not as to their own private interests—he was convinced they would not, Session after Session, persist in maintaining a system which the great majority of the people protested against. He could understand and make every allowance for a Gentleman who had grown up with strong prejudices—he might have felt as they feel, had he been brought up as a landowner. But he had had opportunities of examining the question, free from that bias which would naturally attach to those who were landed proprietors; and he was anxious that the information he had obtained should be made known to them. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed inclined to go on with the inquiry if the Government would let them. Why then should not the question be considered without reference to matters that had gone by, but simply and fairly upon its merits, in order that they might come to a decision upon it that should be at once creditable to the House and satisfactory to the country? He hoped the time was not far distant when, if the right hon. Baronet would not permit the inquiry, they would have one in spite of him. He thought the right hon. Baronet exercised too much influence in taming down hon. Gentlemen opposite. At agricultural meetings they could speak out most valiantly; but in that House they were mute. Surely it was no enviable reputation they were thus acquiring—that of being great in the field, and little in the Senate. The influence the right hon. Baronet had over the hon. Gentlemen by whom he was supported, reminded him (and he could compare it to nothing else) of an Irish story of a man who had a great talent for taming horses. When he went to tame a horse he went into the stable, and it was supposed he whispered in the animal's ear, and such was the influence of his voice, that however vicious, however fiery and ungovernable before, it immediately afterwards became the most docile, tractable, and useful animal possible. And so it was with the right hon. Baronet and the country Gentlemen around him; when they were in the country, they were most fiery and un-tractable; but the moment they came into that House, the influence of the right hon. Baronet's voice was such, that the most tractable and useful supporter any Minister could wish to have was a thoroughgoing agricultural Member; and he was quite sure, if the right hon. Baronet would speak the truth, he would say that he had the fullest reliance on the docility and tractability of the country Members, who formed the great majority of his supporters. Hon. Gentlemen should, however, remember the conditions upon which they had been sent to that House—they were elected in 1841 for the purpose of keeping up the price of corn to its then standard, viz., about 70s. a quarter. When Parliament met in August, 1841, or the beginning of September, the price of wheat was about 70s. a quarter, and it was about 65s. at the time of the election. If they had then gone to the farmers, and said on the hustings it was their intention to support Sir Robert Peel in a plan that would reduce the price of wheat to 40s. within three or four years from that time, did they suppose they would have elected them? The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Banks) had said over and over again, that the measures of the Government had brought down the price of wheat. The statement was cheered; well, but the hon. Gentleman was one of those who had supported the Government in so bringing down the price of wheat; and the great bulk of the agricultural Members also supported him. It was true that they had since found it necessary to make humble and abject apologies to the farmers at their county meetings; and the agricultural dinners were not so frequent, he observed, since the price of wheat had fallen. He could not lose sight of the fact which he had observed for some years past in his own district, and which he knew existed in the agricultural districts; and were he the owner of a large estate in either of the southern or midland counties of England, he could not rest on his pillow, knowing the terrible destitution of the labouring people who surrounded him. Did any hon. Gentleman object to that? He took their own statements, and they had the fullest statements of the extent of that destitution. They had lately had a Commission of Inquiry into the state of the labouring population in Dorsetshire and Hampshire—a Commission composed of two Gentlemen, the one a surgeon of great respectability, and the other a person of considerable talent, who had been previously employed by the Government in similar investigations—and those Gentlemen had made an accurate report of the result of their labours, which would be given to the people before long, he understood, in a pamphlet or some other shape. From that Report hon. Gentlemen were aware that the expenditure of the agricultural labouring population of those counties in manufactured goods was no more than had been already stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, viz., 30s. a year, and even that sum included the making up of the clothes, thus not leaving more than 25s. a year as the actual sum expended by each person with the manufacturer of the north of England. Surely there could be no more fearful position for a man of property, than to be surrounded by a degraded and suffering population. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the sensitive nerves of the agricultural interest; but if they saw terrors in the repeal of the Corn Laws, there were worse terrors in maintaining the present system. He implored them to be advised for once—not by him, but by others who had had experience, and had examined fully the question. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford O'Brien) had said that the inquiry by a Committee, as proposed by his hon. Friend, would be an inquiry of political economists, and they knew all about the political economy of the question already. But men sometimes required to be often told to do that which was right if they did not like to do it. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) advised them to adopt free trade as a general principle, though not that night. The other evening the right hon. Baronet, in answer to the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, made a speech which, except as regarded the articles of sugar and Income Tax, was, in respect to the other matters referred to in his Budget, as admirable a free-trade speech as he (Mr. Bright) could wish to hear; and he hoped before long to hear from the right hon. Baronet a three hours' financial statement, one important point of which should be the abolition of protection, and the establishment of perfect free trade in stead. Could any man deny that the tendency of the public mind was towards free trade? The tenants of hon Gentlemen opposite were open to conviction; and there was no doubt that the feeling was spreading amongst men, that there was no use in depending on the House of Commons for prices of food, when it could not interfere with the wages of labour. Look at the condition of the farmer and the labourer in this country. He spoke it not in anger or to upbraid hon. Gentleman opposite who were connected with agriculture; but he stated it as a fact known to the country and to the world—that the intelligent of all countries were pointing at them as men who were not fulfilling the duties of their position; and when a man from another county—and as they would say of another class—proposed a thorough investigation of such an important question, if they refused it because he was not a landowner, or because he was a Member of the Anti-Corn Law League, he would tell them that they would not be able to justify themselves to their tenants, their labourers, their own consciences, or their country.

Mr. Wodehouse

had no disposition to say anything in dispraise of the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport, nor of the truly comical speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down. His mind was determinedly made up to vote against the Committee; and for this reason, that men's minds were unsettled enough already, and if the proposed Committee were granted, they would never become settled again so long as the world lasted. The speech of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland reminded him of the days of Cromwell. He had never heard a more accomplished ranter. The noble Lord was mistaken if he supposed that he (Mr. Wodehouse) had the least intention to shrink from entering into the fullest defence of the law by which protective duties had been imposed. He defied the noble Lord to deny that during the continuance of the Corn Laws, the commercial ascendency of this country had increased to a pitch that defied all comparison with any former period of our history or with the history of any other State. Then take the advantage of the Corn Law in a national point of view. Fifty years had passed during which the country had never suffered from the visitation of famine, and that could not be said of any other State in Europe. The noble Lord had alluded particularly to the Prohibitory Act of 1815; but he must remind the noble Lord of the time and the circumstances under which it was introduced. Though it might be true that that law was introduced amidst the curses of the people, it must not be forgotten that there was a singular decline of prices in that year. The price in 1815 was 63s., and it had been upwards of 100s. for three years previous. He would call attention to the manner in which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, who might be called the standing Counsel of the League, had shaped his observations upon the law. He alluded to the speech of the hon. Member in 1840, in which he said,— There is not a pretence for asserting that when provisions are high, the agricultural labourer is well off. The contrary has always been the case whenever such periods have occurred; as in 1797, a year of great scarcity and high prices. Now, 1797 was not a period of scarcity and high prices. "The prices of wheat, 1795, 72s.; 1796, 76s.; 1797, 52s." Then, again, they had the same authority stating that, "in 1810 and 1818 there were great complaints of the sufferings of the agricultural labourers." But there was no record of any thing of the kind. Again— Whenever provisions have been low, the labourers have been well off; great demand for their labour, and their wages have given them a greater command over the necessaries of life. He could not understand how any man could have forgotten the depression of 1822, which dismayed the landed proprietors, and occasioned the most wretched destitution amongst the agricultural labourers throughout the country. One part of the noble Lord's speech referred to the condition of the labourer, and he was glad to have the opportunity of meeting the noble Lord on that ground. On this point he would refer to an authority which he thought would be at once admitted. In 1835, Mr. Senior published a preface to the various communications that had been made in instituting an inquiry and comparison of the state of the labourers in England and on the Continent, with respect to money wages, and he then stated— On comparing these statements respecting the wages, subsistence, and mortality of those portions of continental Europe which have furnished returns, with the corresponding statements respecting England, it will be found that, on every point, England stands in the most favourable, or nearly the most favourable, position. With respect to money wages, the superiority of the English agricultural labourer is very marked. It may be fairly said that his wages are nearly double the average of agricultural wages on the Continent. And as fuel is generally cheaper in England than on the Continent, and clothing universally so, his relative advantage with respect to those important objects of consumption is still greater. On the other hand, as food is dearer in England than in any other part of Europe, the English labourer, especially if he have a large family, necessarily loses on this part of his expenditure a part of the benefit of his higher wages, and, if the relative dearness of food were very great, might lose the whole. Almost immediately after this another Commission was issued, of which Mr. Senior was also a Member, and it appeared somewhat singular that during the period between the two inquiries Mr. Senior's views had altogether changed, for the Report of that Commission stated,— We believe that the generally diffused opinion, that the rate of wages depends on the price of provisions, owes its origin to the fact, that the price of provisions mainly depends on the rate of wages. The labourers constitute in all countries an overwhelming majority. Their wages form the great fund out of which the price of provisions must come, and their wages also form the principal element in the cost of producing provisions. The administration of the old Poor Law facilitated the error which we have been exposing. Under the unhappy system prevalent during the forty years immediately preceding the Poor Law Amendment Act, a large portion of the labourers of England were treated, not as freemen, but as slaves, or domestic animals, and received, not, strictly speaking, wages, regulated by the value of their labour, but rations proportioned to their supposed wants. Yet during those forty years the price of day labour and task labour had doubled, and there had been no instance of failure of employment of man, woman, or child. Mr. Deacon Hume was another witness; but one whose reasoning hon. Gentlemen opposite perverted, and one whose disciples they were unworthy of being, for he was honest and had a character for telling the truth. He was asked this question:— In the case of a working man in a foreign country receiving wages of 6s. per week, with which he can get as many of the necessaries of life as the working man of this country with 10s. a week, if the skill of those two workmen is equal, would you say that the production of the labour of the foreign workman shall entirely supersede the labour of the English workman, or that the English workman must come down from 10s. a week to 6s. a week, so as to be upon an equality in point of production of the article he manufactures? His answer was: I should not consider the taxes or the wages paid or received in this and the foreign country as one of the elements of my calculation. Then there was another question put, as follows:— It having been said that the great article of expenditure in the navigation of a ship is the wages; have you any suggestion to offer whereby that onerous charge could be reduced? Would any remedy such as you have already suggested produce any effect in bringing the rate of wages paid in a British ship to the same rate that is paid in a foreign ship? To this Mr. Deacon Hume replied:— It is impossible to say, because there is a great variety of foreign ships, and a great variety of rates of wages and qualities of food in foreign ships; but if the price of provisioning the ship be greatly reduced, and at the same time provisions were made generally cheaper to the country [Cheers], and wages in general reduced, I can have no doubt that sailors' wages would fall with the rest. Would they cheer that? Would the gallant Commodore opposite cheer that? Then, with reference to the permission of the importation of silk stockings, Mr. Deacon Hume was asked— Do I understand you, in the opinion you have given, to contemplate placing the workmen of this country on the same, or nearly the same footing as the workmen of other countries? He replied— I do not conceive that it is so clear a case that those trades would be annihilated if the protection was taken from them as a part of a general system of relinquishing all protection; but I am far from supposing that a change from a totally free system would not make many changes in the employment of the industry of this country; and it is possible that that change might lead to the relinquishing of some branches of the silk, and even of the cotton manufacture. He hoped that the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, the next time that he proclaimed that protection was the bane of agriculture, would add to his Motion the opinion that, by abolishing it, the working people would be ground down to the continental level; and he hoped, too, that the juste milieu Government would take a note of the same thing as well as the noble Lord. He knew that he ought perhaps to sit down. Indeed, nothing would give him greater happiness than were he never to be called on to open his lips again. But they were in a very peculiar situation; and it was his firm faith—although upon the subject he always had the misfortune to differ from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government — that the currency was at the bottom of it. Into that question, however, he would not enter, but would content himself with giving his vote for a decided negative to the proposal for this Committee, the appointment of which could lead to no good; but would, on the contrary, be viewed by the farmers, from top to bottom—except where disgust and despair had taken away every iota of judgment—as an absurd and impolitic proposition.

Mr. C. P. Villiers

said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down began his speech by remarking on what had fallen from his noble Friend the Member for Sunderland, and characterized his speech as one worthy only of the days of Cromwell. Now, the hon. Member must allow him (Mr. Villiers) to retort on him an observation upon the peculiarities of his own speech, which he must say was characteristic of the present day and of no other—it was indicative of the class to which he belonged—which he represented—and which, he must be allowed to say, showed manifest signs of decline and decay; and under these circumstances he must agree in the reasonableness of the hon. Gentleman's own remark, that it would be a fortunate thing for him if no other opportunity was offered to him of again expressing his sentiments to that House. The hon. Member must not take offence at what he said, for he was not very nice himself in his criticisms. He had just made some allusions to the respect for truth on the part of his opponents that were not over courteous; he had referred to his (Mr. Villiers') own statement on a former occasion on matters connected with the subject before the House, questioning their correctness—charging them with exaggeration, almost hinting that they were known to him (Mr. Villiers) to be incorrect. Now, with reference to those statements, he must contend that they were strictly correct, and defy the hon. Member to disprove them. He referred on that occasion to the year 1797, as a year of great embarrassment, and in which the labourers were ill off—the hon. Gentleman says, it was far from a period of distress. [Mr. Wodehouse: I said no such thing.] Well, then, how was he (Mr. Villiers) incorrect? But he would tell the hon. Member why it was a bad year for the labouring class, which was, that it was a period of a high price of food—it was a period when the labourers ought to have had high wages; but which their employers were averse to give them; and it was a year remarkable for the scheme devised by justices and country gentlemen to make their neighbours pay the wages which they ought to have paid to their labourers themselves; the year when the squires attempted to regulate wages by the price of food, and to make up what they didn't pay by the parish rates; it was, in fact, about this time when the squires of Norfolk were said to have dined before they acted. But this only proved that periods of high prices were periods when shifts of all kinds were resorted to, to enable the labourer to live, and that the rise of wages is not the natural result of such a period; and it further confirmed what he had said before, and what he now repeated, that there never had been a period of high prices of the necessaries of life that had not been one of great suffering and privation for the labouring class; and it was also true that the people always did well when food was cheap. [Mr. Wodehouse: How was it in 1822?] That year was one of very low prices, and there was the evidence on record of the Minister whom the hon. Member regularly supported, that it was a time extremely favourable to the working class,—he alluded to Lord Liverpool, who said in debate in the House of Lords, that however much he regretted the alleged distress of the agriculturists, that it was a consolation to him to assure their Lordships that there never was a period when the working classes were better of. [Mr. Wodehouse: He only alluded to the manufacturers.] On the contrary, he alluded especially to those in London at that time, and spoke from official information. But he (Mr. Villiers) would no longer contest this matter with the hon. Member. It was not the point immediately before the House, or the one that ought to determine the question proposed to them; and he must now particularly call the attention of the House to the manner in which this Motion had been met—the manner in which the facts and arguments of his hon. Friend had been treated—the reply which had been made to his speech,—so full and clear as it had been, and so interesting as it ought to be to gentlemen who came there as farmers' friends, and who ought to be prepared to answer or account for the facts which had been stated. He was really astonished to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War. Considering the large majority he could command, he did not say that were the country indifferent upon the question, that he might not have ventured to have treated the matter with the levity and indifference which he had exhibited. But the right hon. Gentleman could not deny that the question of agricultural distress created a great sensation in the country, and excited great division of opinion among his own supporters. He knew that there were loud complaints against the Government, and general murmurs as to the cause of the existing depression. The right hon. Gentleman, however, treated with equal indifference his agricultural supporters—those whom he styled political economists, and those who advocated doctrines opposed to his own—he treated them all as people of no weight, and as individuals whose opinions were generally founded in error. He could hardly, however, deny the fact — that societies for thwarting his policy were formed all over the country—that landowners and farmers were gathering together all through the country, to proclaim their grievances, and state their conviction that they had been injured? How did the right hon. Gentleman treat these manifestations of opinion? Why, barely with respect, alleging that there might be local or individual distress, but denying that there was general depression among farmers, and urging that the depression which did exist had no connexion with the legislative measures introduced by Government. Now, he was not there to say that the right hon. Gentleman was not right in treating a great deal of what was said at these Protection Societies with very great contempt. He himself had heard to-day of the proceedings at one of these meetings, which would go far to justify the right hon. Gentleman in taking such a view of their opinions; but still, the right hon. Gentleman could not deny that among his own Friends, amongst those to whom, from their rank and station, he might be inclined to defer, there did exist very different opinions as to the cause of the present agricultural distress. If he would therefore concede the inquiry, he should, at all events, have stated or tried to state some better reasons than he had brought forward for refusing it. For the right hon. Gentleman's argument went against all inquiry by this House, and he had really treated this House with so little respect in the matter, that he thought the Speaker might at one time have called him to order. ["Oh," from the Ministerial Benches.] Yes, for the right hon. Gentleman had said that if he knew the opinions of the majority of a Committee, he could draw their Report. What a farce, then, must all their proceedings appear to the public, when such a statement was made by a Gentleman in the position of the right hon. Secretary-at-War, and cheered by his Friends! He was now a Cabinet Minister, and it would go abroad as coming from him, that all Parliamentary inquiries were mere mockeries. Now he begged to vindicate the House in this matter. He did not believe that it was the case. Hardly a great measure of reform, legal, political, or commercial, had been carried which had not been preceded by such inquiries. He might instance the Reform Bill, the Municipal Reform Bill, the Poor Law, and others. The appointment, too, of the Import Duties' Committee had been very much sneered at at the time—indeed, perhaps, it owed its existence to the contempt with which it was looked upon. Yet the commercial reforms such as they were, and were now being carried into effect, had their origin in its Report. Its importance had been recognized by the right hon. Baronet, and it had had great effect upon public opinion. His hon. Friend had brought forward his Motion most opportunely, just at a time when it would excite interest and produce effect. No statement could have furnished fairer grounds for inquiry than the one they had that night heard; and he confessed that he could not understand the principle which guided the Government in the granting or refusing these Committees, if the inquiry then sought for should not be conceded. They had lately granted a Committee upon another subject. There was to be an investigation into the effects of the game laws. And last year a similar inquiry was acceded to when the shipowners came forward, declaring that they were in a distressed condition. Why, he thought the Government ought to see their interest in granting this inquiry. If it did not elicit the truth, at least it would show the folly of those who attacked the Government, when coupling the existence of agricultural distress with the course of their policy. He heard no later than last week of a meeting in Stafford, the county where the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government resides. The Earl of Dartmouth presided, and one of the Resolutions passed was to the effect, that the measures of the right hon. Baronet tended to the confiscation of landed property, and that nothing but a great reduction of the fixed charges of the country could compensate the landowners for their losses. Now, the Earl of Dartmouth was, or had been, he believed, Lord Lieutenant of the county. He appointed magistrates, and exercised other important functions, and these were his opinions, — opinions doubtless echoed by his followers. Would it not be a great advantage to have a Committee to examine the Earl of Dartmouth; to hear his explanation of these things; to ask him what landed property had been confiscated; and what was there in the number of articles struck out of the Tariff calculated to injure his estates? What the noble Earl meant by cutting down the fixed charges of the country he did not very clearly understand. He presumed, however, that one of them was the National Debt. Now, really it was not an indifferent thing for men of rank and station to sanction such Resolutions as these, and to hold the language they are doing. In some parts of the country—in those parts, he presumed, where railroads had not yet penetrated—what lords and squires said had great moral weight; and what fell from a squire or great man was as much believed as what fell from a minister of the gospel—what they said, then, was not matter of indifference. They told men in humble life, and those who thought they must know the truth—that the Legislature and the Government passed laws to injure them in their business, and to confiscate property; and, from not being every time brought to book in these matters, they are constantly doing this. It was not only the present Government which they attacked—they fell foul of the last Government too. They accused it of bringing the Constitution into contempt—nothing, indeed, that could be said to damage and bring discredit upon any Government they left unsaid. People said then, "Oh, they don't mean it—they only want to help their friends into office." Well, but when they got them into office, these earls and squires, and people of high degree, rose up again and alleged that the new Government was worse than the old. "Don't trust the present Government," they exclaim to all their neighbours, "they are unworthy men, who disregard their promises; they are traitors, and seek to injure you." Such was the language held—and held in consequence of the measures of Government—in consequence of the protective system not answering; held in fact, as it has been before, in consequence of wheat being low—believing as they do, perhaps from not knowing otherwise, that it is the fault of the Government that wheat was low. Well, then, what was the Motion before them? For an inquiry into the causes of the system not answering; into the causes of the farmers making no profit; into the causes of wheat being low. A Motion perfectly consistent with the existing state of things, and calculated to instruct them as to the real causes of their misfortune, which they will continue to misapprehend until the truth is proved to them. He saw to-day an account from Staffordshire of a meeting held there three days ago. The charge against the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government there, was, that he had promised 56s. for corn, and they had not got it. They could only get 45s. What a man this was to deceive them! so said they. A Resolution was therefore passed, deprecatory of the right hon. Gentleman, in the county town near his own residence. Now, the Gentlemen who passed this Resolution could be examined before the Committee if they granted it.—[Sir R. Peel: All of them?] No, not all of them; in this case the Secretary would suffice, the staple of whose oratory was the charge of treachery and injustice against the right hon. Gentleman. But it was really imprudent to allow such things to be broadly stated all over the country. I want such Gentlemen interrogated on these matters. I want them to prove what they say. It has a bad moral effect for these things to go uncontradicted—they were serious charges and ought to be met; it was the way to meet them to inquire into their truth, and an opportunity was now offered to the Government to vindicate their policy to their own friends. He (Mr. Villiers) of course believed it to be all stuff, and utterly false what these gentlemen said to prove that their sufferings were owing to the recent measures of the Government. He did not mean to charge them with saying what they knew to be untrue; but for that reason he should the more like to put their views to the test of inquiry; in fact, he thought they could be enlightened themselves by inquiry. He hardly knew what this House was good for if it was not for such a purpose as this. If there was a strong feeling yet left anywhere, in favour of this House, it was from the idea that when there were great diversities of opinion among different classes upon matters said to be within legislative controul, or for which the law was answerable, that this House would fairly examine into the allegations made, and either devise a remedy or declare its opinion upon them: would they then prove that for this purpose and in this case it was useless? It seems that the agricultural body are not wholly averse to it—why should the Government refuse it? The hon. Member for Northamptonshire was, he believed, high in the confidence of that interest: he was for it; he said it would sooth the feelings of that body—it would allay the present irritation of what he thought he had heard the right hon. Baronet refer to the other night, namely, the agricultural mind. If he was not mistaken he heard that expression; he had not originated that idea himself, but he learnt it from the right hon. Gentleman. Well, then, that influence called the agricultural mind would be soothed by this inquiry. The Member for Northamptonshire, who was, be believed, the librarian of the Royal Protection to British Agriculture and Native Industry Society, said so; he must know why it should not be granted? The right hon. Gentleman can have no objection to Committees or to Gentlemen occupying themselves in that way, for it was only the other night that he especially recommended this occupation to hon. Members—deprecated their making brilliant speeches — pointed to Committees up stairs as the road to eminence. Well, then, what an opportunity would be lost if this Committee was refused! The House could well spare fifteen of its Members out of its 658; and what an occasion it would be for them all to rise to eminence by soothing "the agricultural mind!" Surely this should be allowed them; they knew that this matter of agricultural distress had occasioned such bitter feeling on the other side that hardly any two Members would shake hands together, and that on account of a misapprehension as to the cause of their misfortunes. On every ground, however, the Motion of his hon. Friend, unanswered as his statements had been, should be conceded; and without detaining the House farther at this late hour of the night, he should cordially support it.

Mr. Bankes

would confine himself strictly to the point before the House—namely, whether they should have a Committee to consider the distress prevailing in the country, and the propriety of giving protection to agriculture. Now it was tolerably certain that the annual Motion of the hon. Member who had just spoken would not be denied to them this year, whether they had a Committee or not. They knew, moreover, that, in respect to other matters affecting the agricultural interests, particularly as connected with the prevailing distress, there were other Motions in prospect—one standing on the Book for to-morrow. With these several opportunities likely so soon to happen of discussing the more general principles which applied to the question of agricultural protection, he asked whether it was either necessary or expedient to accede to the hon. Member's proposition for the appointment of a Select Committee? Giving the hon. Member for Stockport full credit for his candour, he still must beg leave to observe also that the agricultural interest would not receive with satisfaction whatever a Committee proposed by the hon. Member might promulgate. With regard to the question of protection, and the interests of agriculture, as well as the distress under which that interest suffered, they would to-morrow have an opportunity of considering that subject upon the Motion which his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire intended to submit to the House. He did not see that any advantage whatever could arise from withdrawing this discussion from the House, and confining it to the discussion of fifteen select Members of the House. Instead of being limited in that narrow way, he thought that the question was one in every way entitled to the consideration of Parliament itself. He could not see the necessity of retiring into a private room to consider a matter which was of interest to the Empire. He desired no Committee to inquire into distress which he knew existed to a very great extent; and he knew, moreover, very well that the Government did not deny the existence of that distress in a large degree. He believed that that distress was even more extensive than was admitted. A deputation consisting of Peers and Commoners, of landlords and of tenants, representing not less than twenty-two counties, had waited on the Government to represent that distress. No doubt could exist as to its existence, nor that it was very extensive. He believed that the agricultural interest had on very sufficient grounds complained of the too great withdrawal of protection. He had gone further than many others in opposing that withdrawal of protection to so large an extent; but he saw that the Government were supported by a large majority, which certainly might have warranted him in hoping that their measure was satisfactory. Now, suppose they went into a Committee on this subject, what would be the result? The hon. Member for Stockport would have his opinion; and no doubt would maintain it throughout the whole discussions of the Committee. The proposed Committee was to be formed of Members selected for their opposite opinions; and however long they might sit and continue their arguments, he could anticipate no satisfactory result from the appointment of a Committee. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had stated, as one of his reasons for the appointment of this Committee, that he should have an opportunity of examining the noble Lord who had presided at a meeting of the county of Stafford. Now he did not think that the examination of the noble Lord would carry out the notions that the hon. Member had formed of that noble Lord's opinions. The hon. Member would find that the noble Lord did not mean the national debt when he spoke of the burdens on land, feeling that the national credit was the mainstay of our national prosperity. Who were more interested in the maintenance of the national credit than the landowners, whose interests were bound to the country? The hon. Member for Stockport, and those who voted with him—the Members of the Anti-Corn Law League—were, according to their own statements, very differently situated. They were in the habit of saying that capital owed no allegiance to the soil of England. The hon. Member, and others similarly circumstanced, could carry their capital to any other country, become wealthy there by the same means by which they acquired their capital at home. That was not the case with the landlords of England. They could not transfer their allegiance in the soil. He had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport; and whatever might be the force of his assertion and the ingenuity of his arguments, he entirely differed from the hon. Member's conclusions. One special omission he had observed in the speeches both of the hon. Member for Stockport and the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland—an omission which involved the most important part of the whole question, what were they to do with the surplus population? If they were only to go into Committee to ask each other this question, they might as well stay where they were. The hon. Member for Stockport had given no answer to that often-asked question; and until he did his argument would be fully answered by this alone. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland said that to enrich a nation you must bring in an abundance of food; but what was the good of food if you gave the people no money to buy it with? It was denied that the manufacturers wished to draw away the agricultural population to their manufactories. He did not impute to them any unworthy motive in the encouragement they gave to labourers to enter their factories; he would not suppose that they would endeavour to overstock the manufacturing districts with labourers, from the sordid motive of desiring to reduce the wages of those in their employ; but their capacity of employment must have its limit; and they could not suppose that they would be able to provide for all the labour which they sought to displace. He could not pretend to quote Scripture with the correctness of the noble Lord (Lord Howick); but the purport of the noble Lord's quotation was, "You have employed the reapers while you have withheld their hire." Now, his answer was, under the change proposed you could not employ the reaper at all, for the necessary effect of throwing open our ports would be to throw poor soils out of cultivation, it being impossible to compete with the superior corn grown in many Foreign countries. Now, with respect to the appointment of the Committee. If there were no other objection to it, surely the immense number of Railway Committees of which there was an inevitable prospect, would be quite a sufficient reason against the appointment of more Committees than were of essential necessity at the present period. For himself he had to observe that he had been already nominated one of a Committee appointed to inquire into the game laws, which would, he had no doubt, sit during the whole of the Session, He therefore thought that it would be the wisest course to forego the appointment of the Committee now proposed by the hon. Member for Stockport. He did not mean to say that under no circumstances could he consent to the nomination of a Committee of this description. When there were doubts and difficulties a Committee of the House of Commons was the proper tribunal; but there were no such doubts and difficulties now existing; and the result of a Committee would be that no Report would be presented, but that a mass of evidence would be laid before the House to prove facts which were already sufficiently known. If any additional argument was required against the appointment of a Committee, it would be found in the circumstance that not a single petition had been presented in favour of it. And as he did not consider that it would confer any benefit, either on those positively interested in the concerns of agriculture, or on the public at large, he should therefore give the Motion a decided negative.

Viscount Ingestre

begged to correct a mistake into which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had fallen. The noble Lord to whom he referred as presiding at the meeting in Staffordshire was not, as stated, Lord Lieutenant of the county. The hon. Gentleman also referred to Resolutions passed at the county town of the county which he represented. Now these Resolutions complained, not of the sliding scale, but of protection being withdrawn, and of the burdens which pressed on the agricultural interest.

Colonel Anson

wished to offer an explanation of a mistake into which he had fallen, on the presentation of a petition from Lichfield, which was agreed to at a public meeting yesterday. He was mistaken in stating that it referred to the sliding scale adopted by the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government. He was sure the House would not accuse him of making any wilful misrepresentation. The petition had been forwarded to him from Lichfield, and two copies of Resolutions from Woodstock and Stafford. He had looked over them in a very cursory manner, and also the petitions, and on presenting the petitions he made use of the arguments used in the Resolutions. In order to set himself right, he would read the Resolutions which had been passed at Woodstock, and which had caused the mistake:— At a special meeting of the Wolverhampton Agricultural Protection Society (duly convened), held at the Swan Hotel, on Wednesday, February, 26, 1844, the Earl of Dartmouth in the chair, proposed by Mr. Robinson, seconded by Mr. Whitgreave, and resolved unanimously,—'That this meeting rejoices to know that the manufacturing interests are in a state of prosperity; and regrets not only the ruinous condition of agriculture, but that a necessity exists for declaring that such distress is not local but general, arising from the unremunerating price which grain produces. That in the opinion of this meeting the landed property of the kingdom must be confiscated, and the capital of the tenantry sacrificed, unless they receive adequate protection against Foreign competition, or unless reductions are made in the fixed charges of the country equivalent to those which have been made in the products of industry. That the imposition of an Income Tax on assumed profit where none exists is an act of extreme injustice and oppression.' Proposed by Dr. Mannix, seconded by Mr. Oatley: resolved unanimously,—'That the sliding scale, however inadequate, was considered by the agriculturist as the amount or rate of his protection; but that in consequence of the Canadian Corn Law virtually admitting wheat from the United States free of duty, that scale of protection has been rendered nearly inoperative, and is, therefore, to a certain degree deceptive.' The other Resolutions were not of any importance on the present occasion, and he would, therefore, not trouble the House with them. With the permission of the House he would also read the petition. The hon. Member having read the petition, observed that he had never voted for any immediate repeal of the Corn Laws. He had, however, always supported the Motion of his noble Friend for a fixed duty, being confident that that was the proper principle, and that it would place the Corn Laws in such a position that they could be altered without injuring the different interests of the kingdom, or creating that difference of price which must exist under the present system. He did not approve of the formation of societies throughout the country for the protection of agriculture, because he thought they did a great deal more harm than good, and that protection had been the means of reducing agriculture to its present condition. He was also satisfied that a fixed duty would insure greater steadiness of price, and that wheat would bear as good a price under a fixed duty as it did at the present moment. On these grounds he should vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport, and felt astonished that agricultural gentlemen should shrink from inquiry.

Lord Worsley

was anxious to address the House, because it was said that many hon. Members would be disposed to vote against this Motion, because it was proposed by a Member of the Anti-Corn Law League. That was not the reason which induced him to vote against it. He would have equally objected to the Motion of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. S. O'Brien), if he had brought it forward, because he thought that those Committees would only have the effect of raising hopes which would ultimately be disapointed. In 1836 a similar Committee was appointed, which was presided over by the right hon. the Speaker of this House, and notwithstanding that it had sat from April to June they came to no satisfactory decision. He was of opinion, however, that there was not only great distress, but very general distress amongst the agricultural classes; but he held that such a Committee as was now called for would only be holding out false hopes both to the tenant farmers and the agricultural labourers, and on those grounds he would oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport. The general opinion amongst the farmers certainly was that this distress was in consequence of the alterations which had been made in the Corn Laws and the Tariff by the present Parliament. If he was right in this belief, he could not see what result they could hope to gain from such an inquiry as was now called for.

Mr. Cobden

I have only to remark that the course of this debate has been very much what I expected, and so, I believe, will the result of the division. A Member of the Government rose immediately on my sitting down, and intercepted two or three hon. Members on the Protection Benches. A right hon. Gentleman, a Member of the Cabinet, gave the cue, and it has been, I must say, very ably taken. The noble Lord who has just spoken, has, it seems to me, furnished the clearest grounds for granting the Committee. He says the farmers attribute the distress to the new Tariff. Do you think so? Then will you inquire to see whether it be so? You will not inquire. Then, I ask yon again, what is it you intend to do? You are in this position. Notice is given of a repeal of the auction duty; 300,000l. is proposed to be remitted in a certain way. The great Protection Society is coming down to have a field-night to transfer that relief to some other purpose; it is not yet clearly explained what. You suppose it will be most liberal to vote this money to the tenant farmers. It will be just a pound a piece. Will you deny that? No, I'll answer for you, you will not. More than that, you know you will not get it, because you know very well you will not succeed in your Motion. There is not a Motion that springs from that Bench, not a Notice of Motion given from it, but it is received with cheers and laughter, as though everybody knew it was a sham. If I am doing you injustice, you may put youselves right with this House and the country in a very summary manner. There are 370 of you on that side of the House. It only requires that 100 men should take the part which my hon. Friends and I take on this subject, or should sit aside on those Benches, and resolve you will have something done or separate yourselves from this Government with all its patronage and favours, and you may do anything you please. But you do not intend to do that just now. You have nothing to propose, and nothing will be done. And now I mean, with all candour, to say one Gentlemen as landlords in this House. I have never, either in this House, or talking to your tenantry, through twenty counties in England, in open air assemblies—I have never said one word to imply that I knew you must reduce your rents, as a part of the system of carrying out free trade. It would have been a popular clap-trap if I had gone thus among your tenants. I have abstained, from this motive, because I conscientiously believe, with a proper adjustment of tenure, fair terms with your farmers, and due application of capital, that the rental of this country may be better paid with free trade. I am going to tell you in all candour what I think of the landlords who govern this country. You pass a law avowedly to maintain prices. Your own Prime Minister expressed his design to fix the price of corn, as far as legislation could do it, between 54s. and 59s. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade look credit to himself three months ago for having succeeded. Your own paper, the Morning Herald, was boasting and rejoicing only last August, that you had succeeded in keeping steadiness of price at the figures marked. Upon this delusion you have fixed your rents, while by the legislation of this House you have precluded your tenants from availing themselves of other means to pay those rents. I ask you if it is honest to debar your tenantry from those other means, while they might pay their rents without distress to themselves, or impoverishment of their land—in order to escape from the fair adjustment of leases, from making new terms, and above all, from doing away with that most horrid nuisance, of which you will hear more than you perhaps expect—the game which is devouring your tenants. I say you have refused this adjustment; you keep the farmers' minds diverted from it: and now I ask you, if any one see the matter in that light, will he take an honest part in the discussion of it? If you told your tenantry you must listen to none of this by-play in the House of Commons—for it is but by-play—if you came to a large deduction of rents, so that your tenantry might get those terms which you now prevent them from having by keeping on this one tack of will-o'-the-wisp protection, I should say you were acting an honest part. Those hon. Gentlemen who give leases—I might instance the father of the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, I understand his is a model system of leasing; those also who give corn-rents, as the hon. Gentlemen from Scotland—must excuse me if I take a tone different from what I have done, and point out to hon. Gentlemen opposite how they have committed a gross delusion, a gross fraud on their tenantry in keeping up their present rents, and show how they are bound to reduce their rents, unless they can carry out their principles of protection.

The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 213; Majority 92.

List of the AYES.
Ainsworth, P. Anson, hon. Col.
Aldam, W. Bannerman, A.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Lambton, H.
Barnard, E. G. Langston, J. H.
Bellew, R. M. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Berkeley, hon. C. Leader, J. T.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Bernal, R. Mangles, R. D.
Blake, M. J. Marshall, W.
Blewitt, R. J. Marsland, H.
Bouverie, H. E. P. Martin, J.
Bowring, Dr. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Brocklehurst, J. Mitcalfe, H.
Brotherton, J. Morris, D.
Browne, hon. W. Morison, Gen.
Buller, E. Muntz, G. F.
Busfeild, W. Murray, A.
Childers, J. W. Napier, Sir C.
Clay, Sir W. O'Connell, M. J.
Colborne, H. W. N. R. Osborne, R.
Collett, J. Paget, Col.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Paget, Lord A.
Currie, R. Palmerston, Visct.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Parker, J.
Denison, J. E. Pattison, J.
Dennistoun, J. Pechell, Capt.
Divett, E. Philips, G. R.
Duff, J. Plumridge, Capt.
Duncan, Visct. Ponsonby, hn. C. F. A.
Duncan, G. Protheroe, E.
Duncannon, Visct. Rawdon, Col.
Duncombe, T. Ricardo, J. L.
Dundas, Adm. Rice, E. R.
Dundas, F. Ross, D. R.
Ebrington, Visct. Rumbold, C. E.
Ellice, E. Russell, Lord J.
Ellis, W. Russell, Lord E.
Escott, B. Scott, R.
Etwall, R. Scrope, G. P.
Evans, W. Sheridan, R. B.
Ewart, W. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Ferguson, Col. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Forster, M. Stewart, P. M.
Gibson, T. M. Stuart, Lord J.
Gill, T. Stuart, W. V.
Gore, hon. R. Strutt, E.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Tancred, H. W.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Thornely, T.
Hamner, Sir J. Towneley, J.
Hastie, A. Trelawny, J. S.
Hawes, B. Villiers, hon. C.
Hayter, W. G. Vivian, J. H.
Hindley, C. Walker, R.
Hollond, R. Wall, C. B.
Horsman, E. Warburton, H.
Howard, hn. C. W. G. Ward, H. G.
Howard, hn. E. G. G. Wawn, J. T.
Howick, Visct, Williams, W.
Hume, J. Wilshere, W.
Johnson, Gen. Cobden, R.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Bright, J.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Arbuthnott, hon. H.
Acland, T. D. Archdall, Capt. M.
A'Court, Capt. Arkwright, G.
Allix, J. P. Astell, W.
Autrobus, E. Bagge, W.
Bagot, hon. W. Forbes, W.
Bailey, J. Foreman, T. S.
Bailey, J. jun. Fox, S. L.
Baillie, Col. Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.
Bankes, G. Fuller, A. E.
Baring, T. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Baring, rt. hn. W. B. Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.
Barrington, Visct. Gladstone, Capt.
Beckett, W. Gordon, hon. Capt
Bell, M. Gore, M.
Benbow, J. Goring, C.
Bentinck, Lord G. Goulburn, rt. hn. H.
Beresford, Major Graham, rt. hon. Sir. J.
Blackstone, W. S. Granby, Marquess of
Boldero, H. G. Greenall, P.
Borthwick, P. Greene, T.
Botfield, B. Grimsditch, T.
Bowles, Adm. Grimston, Visct.
Bramston, T. W. Grogan, E.
Brisco, M. Hale, R. B.
Broadwood, H. Halford, Sir H.
Bruce, Lord E. Hamilton, W. J.
Bruce, C. L. C. Harcourt, G. G.
Bruges, W. H. L. Harris, hon. Capt.
Buck, L. W. Hayes, Sir E.
Buckley, E. Heneage, G. H. W.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Henley, J. W.
Bunbury, T. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Burroughes, H. N. Holmes, hon. W. A.
Campbell, Sir H. Hope, hon. C.
Cardwell, E. Hope, G. W.
Charteris, hon. F. Hussey, A.
Chelsea, Visct. Hussey, T.
Chetwode, Sir J. Ingestre, Visct.
Christopher, R. A. Irton, S.
Clayton, R. R. James, Sir W. C.
Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G. Jermyn, Earl
Clifton, J. T. Jocelyn, Visct.
Cochrane, A. Johnstone, Sir J.
Codrington, Sir W. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Colvile, C. R. Knightley, Sir C.
Compton, H. C. Lawson, A.
Copeland, Ald. Legh, G. C.
Courtenay, Lord Lennox, Lord A.
Darby, G. Lincoln, Earl of
Deedes, W. Lockhart, W.
Denison, E. B. Long, W.
Dick, Q. Lowther, Sir J. H.
Dickinson, F. H. Lowther, hon. C.
Disraeli, B. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Dodd, G. Mackenzie, T.
Douglas, J. D. S. Mackenzie, W. F.
Dugdale, W. S. Maclean, D.
Duncombe, hon. A. McGeachy, F. A.
Du Pre, C. G. McNeill, D.
Eastnor, Visct. Manners, Lord C. S.
Eaton, R. J. Manners, Lord J.
Egerton, W. T. March, Earl of
Egerton, Sir P. Marsham, Visct.
Entwisle, W. Martin, C. W.
Farnham, E. B. Martin, G.
Fellowes, E. Maunsell, T. P.
Ferrand, W. B. Meynell, Capt.
Fitzmaurice, hon. W. Mildmay, H. St. J.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Miles, W.
Flower, Sir J. Morgan, O.
Neeld, J. Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.
Neeld, J. Smyth, Sir H.
Neville, R. Smythe, hon. G.
Newdegate, C. N. Smollett, A.
Newport, Visct. Somerset, Lord G.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Somerton, Visct.
Norreys, Lord Somes, J.
Oswald, A. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Packe, C. W. Stewart, J.
Pakington, J. S. Stuart, H.
Palmer, R. Sturt, H. C.
Palmer, G. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Talbot, C. R. M.
Peel, J. Tennent, J. E.
Plumptre, J. P. Thesiger, Sir F.
Pollington, Visct. Thornhill, G.
Powell, Col. Tollemache, J.
Praed, W. T. Tower, C.
Pringle, A. Trollope, Sir J.
Pusey, P. Trotter, J.
Reid, Sir J. R. Turnor, C.
Rendlesham, Lord Villiers, Visct.
Repton, G. W. J. Vivian, J. E.
Rolleston, Col. Waddington, H. S.
Round, C. G. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Round, J. Wellesley, Lord C.
Rous, hon. Capt. Wodehouse, E.
Rushbrook, Col. Wood, Col.
Ryder, hon. G. D. Wood, Col. T.
Sanderson, R. Worsley, Lord
Seymour, Sir H. B. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Shaw, rt. hn. F. Wyndham, Col. C.
Shirley, E. J. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Shirley, E. P. TELLERS.
Sibthorp, Col. Young, J.
Smith, A. Baring, H.