HC Deb 17 March 1845 vol 78 cc963-1039

Order of the Day for the House to go into Committee on the Customs' Acts. Read.

On the Question that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,

Mr. W. Miles

rose, pursuant to notice, to move, as an Amendment— That it is the opinion of this House, that in the application of surplus Revenue towards relieving the burthens of the country, by reduction or remission of taxation, due regard should be had to the necessity of affording relief to the Agricultural Interest. The hon. Member commenced by saying, that the condition of the agricultural interest and the state of the country now and in 1836, when the Duke of Buckingham moved his Resolutions on the subject of the malt duty, were far different. There was now an estimated surplus of revenue of 3,400,000l. but it required no great financial acuteness to perceive that that surplus still required the Income Tax to maintain it. In the appropriation of that surplus, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had given a helping hand to the manufacturing and commercial interests, and had out of that surplus voted 1,300,000l. as a deduction from the Sugar Duties. It was his intention to ask the House, before they consented to any further reduction or remission of taxation, to consider the state of the agricultural interests, and to see if some small benefit should not be conferred on them. But it would be said, as he had often heard it said since the present Budget was brought forward,—will not the agricultural interest be benefited, as well as the other consumers, by the cheapening of those articles of convenience, or perhaps of luxury, caused by that general declension in price which had taken place by the reduction of the duties on imports? But he would ask, in return, did not the agricultural interests contribute to the Property Tax, which the Ministers, in following out their large financial scheme, had imposed upon the country for the next three years? The owners and occupiers of land contributed a considerable portion of that sum, and therefore it was right and proper that, in one way or another, they should be benefited. Let him refer for an instant to the classes into which the inhabitants of this country were usually divided—the manufacturing, the commercial, and the agricultural. Had not everything been done to benefit the two former, while nothing at all had been done for the latter? True, the Government had stated that in the plan of remitting taxation, the object had been to benefit the consumer, and that the only direct tax which pressed exclusively upon the agriculturist was the malt tax, which, from the state of the Revenue, it was impossible to touch. In that opinion he cordially concurred; and, notwithstanding all the clamour that had been raised upon the subject, he never would ask any Administration to remit a tax which, from diminishing the annual revenue of the country, would either lead to fresh taxation, or else would place the finances of the country in a position which ought always to be avoided in times of peace, where the revenue did not exceed the expenditure. This he trusted the present Government would always endeavour to avoid, as it was only in avoiding it that the true safety of the nation rested. But—to advert again to the different interests in this country—he would ask, was not the manufacturing interest provided for, and the commercial interest provided for, while nothing whatever had been done for the agricultural interest? Though he would not ask the Government to remit that direct taxation which pressed upon the agricultural interest, yet there were other modes in which they might assist agriculture, by taking upon the general administration of the country some of those burdens which now fell upon the land. It had been said that the distress in the country was partial, and that it was confined to certain districts of the country, where, from the dryness of the season, the crops had been deficient. For himself, he must own that, generally speaking, there was a deficiency in the southern parts of the country; and he must further admit that no Ministry could control the atmospheric influences, or regulate their effects on the produce of the soil. ["Hear, hear," from the Opposition benches.] He did not know to what that cheer alluded. Such were his opinions, whether right or wrong; and he believed they would be assented to by the whole world. But he would maintain that the distress was not local, but general; and that it pressed upon the country even in seasons of general prosperity, though it was more this year by reason of the dryness of the season having had an injurious effect upon all the crops except wheat. And there was a singular occurrence which had taken place this year, which it would be well to notice to the House—namely, that when oats, hay, and barley were deficient, the price of meat usually got up; so that the deficiency of the crops was made up by the sale of cattle. But this was not now the case; and though the farmer was now purchasing provender at a high rate, yet, as he should be able to prove before he sat down, neither at Smithfield, Leaden-hall, nor Newgate markets, nor in any of the country markets, had the price of meat risen. He could understand why the prices of indifferent qualities of meat had not risen, because of the quantities of meat that were now necessarily thrown upon the market. But he could only conceive one reason why the highly-fed animal, on whose rearing much trouble and expense had been spent, should not fetch a higher price now than in 1842. Having to assign a reason for this extraordinary circumstance, he could only attribute it to legislative movements, or to those extraneous forces recently brought to act on our markets, which before had no existence. Measures had been passed since the meeting of the present Parliament which had placed the agricultural interest in a position where good prices in a good year would not compensate them for a deficient harvest. Such were the complaints made by the farmers at the present time; and it would be necessary for him to prove, as far as he could, their case in this respect. It was necessary that he should look, in the first instance, to the duties imposed on the importation of corn in 1842, and to the prices of that period, and then that he should compare them with those years as nearly as possible similar in the average price under the law of 1828; and he would endeavour to show that under the price of 50s. the English farmer had not, as he thought the farmer should have, perfect control of the English market; but that large quantities of Foreign and Colonial corn entered the market when wheat was under 50s. at a price which rendered the situation of the farmers, particularly the small farmers, very distressing. And as they had heard much of capital being applied to farms lately, he would ask whether they wished to destroy three-fourths of the English farmers? for the great body of these men had not much capital. They looked to their own energy and industry to carry them through; and they looked to a lair remunerating price, not only to enable them to pay their rent, but to put a small profit into their pockets. Now, let the House look at the quantity of grain which had been imported, and the prices of wheat during the thirty-two months that the present law had been in operation. There had been imported during the whole period 4,778,669 quarters of wheat, and of flour l,237,193cwt., being upwards of 5,000,000 quarters of wheat in 1842, and upwards of 1,000,000 in each of the two following years. He also found that in 1842 the average price of wheat had been 55s. 10d., in 1843 50s. 1d., and 1844 51s. 1d., the average over the whole thirty-two months being 52s.d. Now, he would refer to those years which were most similar in price to the three last, but while under the law of 1828. For that purpose he took the years 1832, 1836, and 1837, and he found that during these thirty-six months, under the operation of the Act in 1828, there had only been 640,824 quarters of wheat imported; while, in the thirty-two months which had passed since the Act of 1842 there had been imported no less than 4,778,669 quarters of wheat, and 1,237,193 cwt. of flour; so that there had actually been seven or eight times more imported in the latter years than in the former, though the prices had been rather higher in the former years. This showed that Foreign corn had come in to the direct detriment of the farmer. It had been stated up to a late period, and by a very high authority, that Foreign barley would only come into this country for the purposes of grinding; and that from the delicacy of its grain and its liability to heat, it would never be used for malting purposes. But it was now certain that 1,550,000 quarters of Foreign barley had been imported; and he had lately seen as capital a sample of malt as need be looked upon made from Italian barley; while his hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire had lately placed in his hands two samples of malt, one made from Danish barley, the price being 31s., and the other being from British barley at the price of 35s. 6d.; and he would venture to say that the Danish barley was worth 8s. or 10s. more than the British. As he saw the right hon. Baronet in his place, he would merely refer to what had been stated to the right hon. Baronet by a member of a deputation that had lately waited upon the right hon. Gentleman, to the effect that that Gentleman had lately attended Reading market for six days together, which was known to be a good market for malting barley, and no offer had been made to him to buy; and when he asked some of his old customers the reason, their answer was, "Come and look at our granaries, they are quite full of Foreign barley, for which we have paid 30s." It was necessary now to refer to the nature of the harvests for the last few years. That of 1842 was above an average; the harvest of 1843 was deficient, though the straw was remarkably good, yet the meal was deficient. In 1844, the harvest was above an average, for though he knew it had been stated to be only an average, yet not wishing to foist on the House inaccurate statements, he would state nothing but what he believed to be true. Now, taking the months from October to June, when the farmer was able to send his wheat to market, he wished the House to see that even when wheat was under the average price of 50s. there had been a constant and undisturbed flow of Colonial and Foreign wheat into the home market, which acted as an incubus upon the price to the English farmer. They were told that these importations were had speculations; that a number of the importers were ruined; but that was but poor consolation to the British agriculturist after the corn was brought into competition with his. In the year 1842, which appeared to be a good harvest, there were 2,241,230 quarters of Foreign and Colonial corn imported into the country. What was the consequence? In the month of October, the first month in which the British farmer brought his produce to market, the average price was 49s. 11d., and the importation nearly 6,000 quarters. In November, the average was 49s. 1d., and 5,000 quarters were imported. In December, the average was 47s. 1d., and 4,700 quarters were imported. In January, 1843, the average was 47s. 1d., and 6,000 quarters were imported. In February, the average was 47s. 5d., and 6,000 quarters were imported. In March, the average was 49s. 7d., and nearly 7,000 quarters were imported. In April the average was 46s. 2d., upwards of 9,000 quarters were imported. In May, the average was 46s. 10d., and 11,000 quarters were imported. In June, the average was 48s. 8d., and 9,600 quarters were imported. So he found that the highest price obtained was in November, when the average was 49s. 1d.; and that the lowest was in April, when the average was 46s. 2d.; so that the fluctuation during that period was 3s., while during the same period 72,000 quarters of Foreign and Colonial corn had been gradually but constantly admitted to the British market, interfering, and that very materially, with the prices of the British farmer, and keeping them low. He would now pass on to the harvest of 1843, which the House would recollect he had stated as deficient. The amount of that deficiency he knew had been variously stated; but he would take the lowest at which he had heard it stated—a deficiency of one-fourth. Now, to compensate the farmer, that which he sold in the early part of 1843 at 48s., should, in the latter part of 1843 and the early part of 1844, have brought at least 60s. But had that been the case? Had there been any such rise in price as that? If it could be shown that there had been such a rise, he would at once admit that his argument was at an end. But if it could not be shown, as he well knew it could not, then he thought he had a good reason to press his argument upon the House, and to show what was the former state of English farmers, and to insist that they should be replaced, as far as possible, in that condition. You—the men of the League—have taught the farmers to read, to use their intellects, to look into returns, to argue from effects to their causes, and to know the consequences of the laws that have been passed. He would now refer to the harvest of 1843. He found that in September, as usual, there was a large importation of Foreign and Colonial corn. In October, the average price was 50s. 5d., the importation 15,766 quarters. In November, the average was 51s. 7d., the importation 28,904. In December, the average was 50s. 7d., the importation 39,394. In January, 1844, the average was 51s. 9d., the importation 8,855. In February, the average was 53s. 5d., the importation 2,725. In March, the average was 56s. 3d., the importation 3,472. In April, the average was 55s. 4d., the importation 83,495. In May, the average was 55s. 6d., the importation 63,988. Then there continued a gradual increase in the importation, whilst the averages steadily decreased till July, when it was notorious that a good harvest was apparent. He found that in that month, the average being 54s. 4d., the importation was 427,623. This led to a steady declension in price till October, when the average was 46s. 2d., and the importation was 32,172 quarters. In November, the average was 45s. 11d., and the importation was 27,899 quarters; and in December, the average was 45s. 3d., while the importation was 23,405. Now, he would ask, whether this immense quantity of Foreign corn, coming into the market to compete with the English farmer, was not a matter of which the farmer had a right to complain? He would now take the liberty of adverting to another matter; but, before doing so, he begged to state that he wished that there were some department of the Government which had the interests of agriculture under its peculiar care, from which they might obtain accurate statistical information; and if he might hint a suggestion, he would say, that he did not wish for a Board of Agriculture, but that some of the existing departments of Government should devote its attention to the question; so that Parliament need not look to the conflicting statements of Gentlemen opposed to each other in their objects, but might obtain ready access to accurate statistical information, which would be beneficial not only to agriculturists but also to the Government. He had in his eye a noble Friend of his, who, if such a thing were to be done, would take up the subject and carry it out as well as any other Member he knew—he meant the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests. But, in default of information obtained from this source, he had, at great personal trouble and expense, obtained returns of the prices at Smithfield, Leadenhall, and Newgate markets, for every year since 1840. He would not trouble the House with all the details; they were very curious; and if any Member wished to see them, they were at his service. He wished to refer to these prices, because the House would recollect that in discussing the effects of the Tariff, it had been invariably stated that the low prices were caused by panic—that the feeling of alarm would soon die away, and that the farmer had nothing to fear. But if he could show that ever since that period the prices both of live and dead stock had gradually sank, the House could come to no other conclusion than this—that the panic was not the sole cause of the reduction in price. The average price of stock in Smithfield market was, in 1840—beef, 3s. 11¾d.; mutton, 4s.d. In 1841 — beef, 4s. 1d.; mutton, 4s. 7d. In 1842, being the year in which the Tariff was passed, beef was 3s. 10¼d.; mutton, 4s.d. In 1843—beef, 3s. 7d.; mutton, 3s.d. In 1844—beef, 3s. 7d.; mutton, 3s.d. So that in the last two years, after the Tariff was passed, beef had not been a farthing more than 3s. 7d. per stone of 8lbs; and mutton had been, in the one year, 3s.d., and in the other, 3s.d., being only a halfpenny of difference between them. But the decline in the price of dead stock was most extraordinary. He had obtained returns of their prices, and he could rely upon their perfect accuracy. All the meats in these returns had been classified, and it was, therefore, necessary that he should state the prices of the different classes to the House. The hon. Member read the following table of the average prices of meat:—

1841 1842 1843 1844
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
First class inferior beef 3 3 3 2 2 7
Second class middling 3 72–12 3 3 3
Prime large oxen 4 4 3 3
Prime Scots 4 4 3 11 3 10¼
First class inferior sheep 3 3 3 5 3
Second class inferior sheep 3 10¼ 3 3 3 4
Prime coarse woolled sheep 4 4 1 3 3 8
Prime Down sheep 4 4 6 4 3 11¾
Lamb 6 7 5 4 10¼ 4 10½
Coarse calves 4 10¾ 4 1 3 9 3
Prime small calves 5 5 4 4
Large hogs 4 4 3 3
Porkers 4 10¾ 4 10½ 3 10¼ 3 10¾
So that, taking the prices of 1841, and comparing them with those of 1844, he found the difference to be as follows:—
Price of 1844 compared with 1841.
Beef. Per stone. Per stone.
1 d. Lamb 1s. d.
2 6
3 Calves.
4 1 1
Sheep. 2 1
1 2
2 Large hogs 1
3 Porkers 1 0
4 10
They found the difference as to lamb at 1s. 8d. per stone, as to large hogs 1s., and second class at 1s. 2d. So, that it was seen at once that something was acting on the markets. In his (Mr. Miles's) opinion, the first of these causes was the Corn Law of 1842—the next, the importation of cattle from abroad, which, though small hitherto, in comparison with what had been anticipated, had increased, did increase, and would increase every year. At first, the foreign cattle sent over to this country were not suited to the English market; but the foreign breeder was daily bringing them to that point, and now no animals were imported except in prime condition. He would next shortly refer to those Acts of Parliament which, as the farmers averred, were the great cause of their present distress. The first was the Act regulating the admission of Foreign corn to the English market—the Act of 1842. Had he, and those who acted along with him, then been, aware that this Act was to be so soon followed up by the Tariff and the Canada Corn Bill, an opposition would have been raised to it by hon. Members fresh from their constituents, which he was satisfied no Minister could withstand, and which would have issued in better terms for the agriculturists. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, however, with that tact which was so peculiar to him, made no reference to the Tariff until he had passed the Corn Bill, and consequently the agriculturists could not act on the defensive. He had supported the Corn Law of 1842, because he believed that by its means a better system of averages would be introduced for the regulation of the duty; and also because he felt satisfied that no Foreign corn could come into competition with English produce, while there was a duty of 20s. at the price of 50s. But how was that Act passed, and what took place during its progress through the House? So delighted was the right hon. Baronet with the sliding scale which he had supported so manfully while he was in opposition, that his first act, on coming into power, was to place Colonial corn under its operation—to subject it to that scale, although it had always been at a fixed duty previously. Then followed the Tariff, by which the duty was altogether removed from the importation of some of the most important articles of agricultural produce; and the first of those articles, cattle, was subjected to too small a duty—a duty also manifestly unjust, inasmuch as the highest conditioned animal was taxed only at the same rate as the lowest. He (Mr. Miles) had, it would be in the recollection of the House, taken a division on that branch of the Tariff; and every thing that had occurred since the passing of the Act proved to him the propriety of the course he had adopted on that occasion. Of the Canada Corn Bill, which immediately followed, he should only say—and the hon. Member for Bath bore him out in his statements in the speech which he made in the discussion of the measure—he should only say that, considering the immense length of the boundary line between Canada and the United States, and the difficulty, the impossibility, of watching its whole extent, that Bill was nothing more nor less, in fact, than an Act for the introduction of American corn to this country free of duty. And although hon. Gentlemen might point out that the quantity of corn that had as yet come in under it was small—only 227,000 quarters last year, if he remembered rightly—yet if they would only take the trouble to look at the annual returns of prices in the United States, they would see there enough to satisfy them that when prices became a little lower—and they were going down every day—America would be enabled to introduce as much corn as she chose into Canada, whence, having been ground by Americans, who had all the mills of that Colony in their hands, and converted into flour, the finest quality could be imported into this country at prices which it would be impossible for the British agriculturalist to contend with. It was to these measures of the Government that the farmers all through the country attributed their present distress in chief part. But there were other causes which they alleged contributed to it also; and these he should shortly refer to. The farmers complained of the poor rates, and particularly of the county rate, as most oppressive. They complained that both pressed peculiarly on them; and that they were taxed unequally for the benefit of the rest of the community. He had presented a petition from some of them, in which a very bold demand was made—namely, that the proceeds of the Income Tax should be taken, and, the country being converted into one great Union, applied to the relief of the paupers. He could not hold with the prayer of that petition; but he had abundant evidence to prove the heavy pressure of the poor rate upon the agricultural portion of the population. In the evidence taken before a Select Committee of the House of Lords on Agriculture, in 1836, Mr. Ewan David stated,— I know a manufacturing establishment where 600 persons are employed, and a capital of at least 120,000l., and the whole amount paid by this in poor rates, road rates, county rates, and land tax is only 90l. per annum—not 1s. 6d. per cent.; while, on my present occupation of 730 acres, the average number of men employed is about twenty-five, and requiring a capital very little exceeding 4,000l., my poor rate, road rate, county rate, and land tax is 185l., or rather more than 4l. 10s. per cent. on the capital employed, or sixty times as much as that establishment pays. He had scarcely occasion to say anything more to show the peculiar pressure of the poor rate upon agriculture; but nevertheless, he should, with the permission of the House, read an extract from the speech of Mr. Ensor, of Melburne Court, in the county which he represented, one of the largest glove manufacturers in the West of England, on his becoming a member of the Agricultural Protection Society. He was proud to say that this gentleman—than whom there was no more sensible or honourable man—had joined that Society because he believed, and what was more, openly and honestly avowed, that agriculture required protection because of the peculiar heavy burdens which it had to bear in the disposition of local and general taxation. On that occasion Mr. Ensor said,— As a manufacturer, he found that when it was well with agriculture he was getting a good price for his goods. The aristocracy and the gentry of the land were not the men who hoarded up money in the funds—they spent it, and thus spread abroad their incomes over the whole community, doing thereby a public benefit, by supporting trade, for, to use a known phrase, money, like manure, is worth nothing till spread abroad; trade created a demand for agricultural commodities, and thus they went hand in hand, both interests flourishing together. As a manufacturer, he had no sym- pathy whatever for the men who cried 'away with all protection.' The great cotton lords, who could beat all the world in their manufactures, might say with very great disinterestedness, 'we are for free-trade—we want no protection—let us have all things free.' But how were other manufacturers to exist over whom the foreign manufacturers possessed so many local advantages, that to admit them free would be to annihilate the home trade? If the cotton lords did not want protection, it did not follow that the silk manufacturer, the ribbon manufacturer, and the glover wanted no protection. Whilst possessing those advantages over other portions of the community, they might very reasonably be advocates of free trade; but it did not follow that other manufactures over which other countries had an advantage, should not have protection, when it was apparent to all that free trade to them would be annihilation. Now, if a portion of the manufacturing interest required protection, how much more did the agricultural interest; and he would fearlessly add, how much more did it deserve it. Peculiar burdens were imposed on land. The landed interest had to support the poor, and therefore, he said that the agricultural interest not merely required, but deserved protection. On what was the manufacturer to fall back when trade failed? Why, surely on the land which gave him birth; and if trade did not support him, the land must. He employed a large number of individuals, and sometimes he had seen the head of a family taken off, and the wife and children thrown on the world. And what supported them? The poor rate. And who paid the poor rate? The farmer. The extent of his own trade was considerable (he hoped they would excuse his speaking personally); he paid in wages almost. 10,000l, a year, but what did he pay to the poor rate? He thought it was about 3l. or 4l. a quarter, whilst many of the farmers paid, he believed, 30l. or 40l. a quarter. He did not know what, but he knew that he paid a very small proportion; therefore, on that ground, agriculture required protection, because in other countries there were not the same burdens imposed upon the land as in England; and agriculture deserved it, because it supported and provided for the poor of the country. Such were the sentiments, such the expressions, he (Mr. Miles) was proud to say, of a manufacturer. The farmers, as he had stated, complained of the heavy pressure of the poor rates in general; and they urged that, heavy as they seemed, hon. and right hon. Members of that House could not judge of their severity by the returns even of the poor rates, because they acted indirectly upon agriculture as well as directly. For instance, the cost of maintaining an able bodied pauper, with his wife and family in the work- house, was on the average 16s. a week; the farmers consequently came to a resolution to employ the surplus labourers in their respective districts at a rate not remunerative for these labourers, but enough to keep them from being burdensome to the Union. That, of course, had the effect of bringing down the price of labour; and an injury of the gravest nature was inflicted on those who were the least able to bear it. He had supported the Poor Law because he had believed, amongst other things, that it would raise the rate of wages; but he had it now, on the authority of the farmers themselves, that it had reduced them all over the country. The farmers, according to their own statement, found it more profitable and far better to employ able-bodied labourers at 10s. per week, than to send them to the Union workhouse, where the cost for maintaining them and their families would be on the round 16s. a week. And so wages were reduced, and agriculture still further depressed, as he had just stated. The farmers next complained of the county police rate; but as they had to thank their magistrates for that, he should not press it as a peculiar grievance on the attention of the House. He could not, however, help observing that it was the greatest nuisance he could fancy to a tenant farmer, who, living in a remote spot, never, perhaps, saw the face of a policeman for three months, to be obliged to contribute his quota towards the support of a body for watching and protecting the people and property in the towns of the county in which he resided. A large sum was, nevertheless, taken out of the pocket of the farmer for the purpose of supporting the county constabulary—in some counties in the most extraordinary manner. If he recollected rightly, that which, in 1836, amounted only to 16,000l. a year, in 1844 had reached to 34,000l. The farmers then complained of the rent charge—that is, of the amount; and they alleged that the average price which existed when the measure commuting it passed, was higher than it was at present. Their complaint was, that they paid rent charge on an average of 56s., whereas the average which they obtained was only 48s. the quarter. He had stated the case of the farmers, he trusted, temperately and fairly; and he hoped that he had rendered their condition intelligible to the House. He had endeavoured, and he trusted not unsuccessfully, to show by returns the condition in which they stood, and to make the case plain to those hon. Members who heard him. He hoped that he had proved that not only a partial but a general distress existed in agriculture; and that it dated from, and was mainly caused by, the acts of the Administration to which he had adverted. Having done this, he would, with the permission of the House, venture most humbly to offer a few recommendations to assuage that distress, and suggest for their adoption some remedies for the state in which agriculture was unhappily placed. The first of these recommendations would cost the country nothing, if it were adopted by the Legislature, and would interfere with no existing interest. He would therefore suggest that malt should be permitted to be made for the purpose of feeding cattle. It was, from the saccharine nature of the grain and its fattening qualities, one of the best descriptions of food that could be used for the purpose; and while it would thus give the farmer an additional power to compete with the foreign breeders, it would cost the Revenue absolutely nothing if properly arranged. That branch, of the subject, however, he should not dwell on, as his hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire had a Motion on the subject, but leave it to the future judgment of the House. He should likewise suggest, when he saw hon. and right hon. Gentlemen expatiating on the state of the agricultural poor before their respective constituencies, that they should, if they really wished to confer a benefit on them, give their attention and their support to two measures which had been introduced to the notice of the Legislature—the one, the general Inclosure Bill of his noble Friend the Member for Lincoln; the other, the general Drainage Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire. If these measures were carried into execution, he believed that they would afford as much practical relief to the English agricultural labourer as anything short of a healthy system of emigration. The population of the country was annually, nay, daily, increasing; but once new channels for their industry were thrown open—once the cost of passing Private Bills for enclosures and draining was put an end to, and a general law passed on the subject—there was every reason to hope that abundant food and employment would be found for all. That was, however, a hopeless case, unless the Government took it in hand, and carried it through Parliament. He would next come to a question on which he hoped the House would concur with him, for it was in vain to expect that the Government would lend him any assistance in respect to it. His noble Friend the Member for Lincoln, his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, and himself, had waited on the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of the project which he proposed to submit to the House; and although they were cordially received, and sufficient time was taken to consider their proposition, the right hon. Gentleman had given it a decided negative. He hoped, however, the House would sanction some small reduction, especially as he had good reason to suppose that such a reduction had been thought of at a former period by the right hon. Gentleman, with a view to giving relief. It would be in the recollection of the House that in the year 1834 a Select Committee of the House was appointed on the subject of county rates. That Committee consisted of forty-eight Members, among whom was the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and the noble Lord the Member for London; and it divided itself into four Sub-Committees, to correspond with the different heads of county expenditure. Four subsidiary Reports were made by these Sub-Committees, as well as the Report which was made by the Committee at large. He would take the Report of that Sub-Committee over which the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary presided—namely, that on criminal prosecutions. Of that Committee the right hon. Baronet was a member, and his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, as he had stated, was chairman. The Report of that Committee referred to the Report of the Committee on Agricultural Distress in 1833, which said,— The whole subject of the county rate is particularly worthy of a separate consideration. The improved arrangement of the gaols, admitting of the classification and separation of criminals; the payment of the cost of prosecutions, both at the Assizes and Quarter Sessions, not only of felonies, but of misdemeanors, whereby the want of a public prosecutor in England is now supplied; the vast expenditure on bridges for the improvement of the great inland lines of communication, an object of national importance—all these are growing charges imposed by law, levied by county rate, and borne principally by land, anomalous from the circumstance that purposes of general utility are thus defrayed by local taxation, subject to abuse, because placed under the control of authorities not personally response- ble, and requiring, therefore, in the opinion of your Committee, the early and deliberate attention of the Legislature. The Committee of 1834, after thus quoting the Report of the Committee of the former year with respect to county rates, and in order to show their pressure on the farmer, went on to describe the proportions of county rate borne by the different classes in 1833. It appeared, that to the 25th of March, 1833, the amount of poor rates raised by assessment on land was 5,434,895l.; on dwelling-houses, 2,635,227l.; on mills, &c., 352,475l.; on railways, canals, &c., 157,000l. The total amount of poor rates levied by assessment was 8,806,501l., of which sum land and dwelling-houses contributed 8,070,100l. This was so palpable a grievance, that some redress was inevitable; and, accordingly, in 1836, it was determined by the Government of the day, that one-half the expense of the prosecutions of the country should be borne by the Government, and that they should provide for the whole expense of the conveyance of prisoners. The noble Lord the Member for London was in the Government at that time; but the noble Lord did not fully carry out the suggestions contained in the Report, for the Committee stated that if there could be a new assessment of all property to the county rate, and chattel property could be made to contribute its fair proportion, no objection could be urged to pay those expenses from a local fund; but until that course could be adopted, the Committee thought the charges for criminal prosecutions ought not to be placed upon such a fund, but ought to be transferred from the county rates to the public funds. If that recommendation had been adopted, the already overloaded calendars of the judges might have been materially increased; for if the expense of prosecutions at quarter sessions was defrayed from the county rate, while the expense of prosecution's at assizes was sustained by the Government, a bonus would have been held out to magistrates to commit offenders for trial at the assizes instead of at the quarter sessions. A law had, however, since been passed, which distinctly defined the offences only cognizable by Judges of Assize, and removed all the objections that did exist to the payment of criminal prosecutions out of the public funds. If that were necessary in 1833, it was doubly necessary now. He proposed, therefore, that only such cases should be paid for out of the county rates as could not be decided except by a jury at the assizes, and over which the magistrates had no power of decision, and that all other cases should be prosecuted at the expense of the Crown. He did not see why that which ought to have been remedied in 1833 should be neglected in 1845. The magistrates acted, in many respects, as the House was well aware, in a mere ministerial capacity to the Home Office—for instance, in respect of the prison rules and regulations, and in respect to prison dietaries—and, under these circumstances, he (Mr. Miles) thought it was not unreasonable or unjust that they should ask that the maintenance, as well as the prosecution, of all prisoners committed for felony or misdemeanor, should be defrayed by the Government who assumed and exercised all the power over them. It was, as regarded county prisons, at present a divisum imperium; and that being the case, there could be no difficulty, and should be no shame, in asking the Government to bear half the expense of the salaries of the officers employed in them, as well as half the incidental expenses. It would, doubtless, be but a small sum; but it would ease the county rates, however little; and it should be remembered that the burden to be lightened was one which was felt more by the humble cottager, perhaps, than by any other member of the agricultural community. It would also be satisfactory in another point of view, as it would be the recognition of a principle, namely, that the Legislature looked to the interest of the land as well as to other interests. There was another small item which he should ask to have taken into consideration, viz., the expense of coroners' inquests. It was now about 48,000l. a year; but the system operated very unequally, being in the maritime counties, where dead bodies were frequently washed ashore from wrecks, particularly oppressive. All he asked was, that one-half of the expense should be borne by the Government. Another subject, which was a most obnoxious and expensive item in the county rate, was the printing of the registries of votes. It formed a considerable annual charge upon counties, and nevertheless these registries were never looked at except on the eve of an election. For all useful purposes in the intermediate time, they were but so much waste paper. But the clerk of the peace was, notwithstanding, obliged to prepare them, although there was no special enactment on the subject; because, on one occasion, a Committee of that House had decided that he would be liable to prosecution if he failed to print and publish them in their present form. He had stated in general terms that the total expense of the whole of these ameliorations would be 400,000l.; but on looking more closely into the subject, he was induced to come to the conclusion that, as far as regarded England and Wales, and giving every latitude to his calculations, it would not exceed 275,000l. Of course, something should be done for Scotland; but, on one branch of the question, namely, criminal prosecutions, there would be no need to make any alteration in the law as it stood, because about two-thirds of the expenses there were paid out of the public purse. Therefore, including Scotland, he (Mr. Miles) had every ground to conclude that 350,000l. would be the outside of the whole expense that would be incurred; and that that sum would cover all the ameliorations proposed. But it might be said that the inequality of local taxation that existed in 1834 did not exist at present: to that he (Mr. Miles) should answer, by referring the House to the report of the chairman of the quarter sessions of Leicestershire, to which he had alluded. No man was more competent, from his position, to give sound information on the subject than that gentleman, and he should, therefore, read that part of this document which more immediately bore on the question. It appeared, then, that the total rateable value of the county of Leicester in 1844 was 850,391l., producing, at 1d., a sum equal to 3,543l. 5s. 11d. Of this, shops, public-houses, and warehouses would produce, at 1d., 90l. 13s. 8d., or about one-fortieth; factories, mills, print, and bleachworks, at 1d., 23l. 8s. 1d., about 1 or 1.154; and gas-works, quarries, water, railways, tolls, &c., at 1d., 26l. 7d., or about 1.136. So that to a total expenditure of 3,543l., only 140l. was borne by property not being land. The inequality which existed in 1834, therefore, was not lessened in 1844. He (Mr. Miles) had thus endeavoured to bring forward the state and condition of agriculture as it existed at present, and to show that the distress which prevailed in that branch of the national industry was not local, but general. He had pointed the attention of the Government and the Legislature to certain enactments, which, he believed, would be for the benefit of the agriculturists; and he had proved, he trusted, that the particu- lar pressure now felt by them was owing to the poor rates and the county rates—especially the latter—in conjunction with the causes which he had previously stated. Hon. Gentlemen little knew the state of the country if they were not aware that the measures of that House were closely watched by the people, and that their constituents were actively on the watch to see whether their respective Members were disposed to carry out measures beneficial to their interests. They watched anxiously to ascertain whether the Government would carry out those tardy measures for the advantage of that body which had placed the right hon. Baronet in office; and they were not slow to observe and to appreciate the acts of the Legislature. Hon. Gentlemen might say their rents were paid, and so, doubtless, they were in most cases; and hon. Gentlemen might deduce from that fact that the present distress was transient in its nature. But he was perfectly satisfied, from the information that he had been able to procure, that there had not been any profits made during the last two years by agricultural industry, and also that in many places a portion of the farmers' rent was yet unpaid. He could assure that House that there was a great want of confidence among the agriculturists in the measures proposed by Government. They said that any position was better than that they occupied at present; and they alleged that the word "protection," so often employed by the right hon. Baronet when he sat on the other side of the House, was now seldom or ever used by him, and not at all practised. They also averred that the few words which that right hon. Baronet had given to agriculture at the close of his financial statement, had filled them with the deepest distress. On that occasion the right hon. Baronet said,— I know it will be said that the principles I have laid down are capable of much farther extension, and that I ought to have been led, in deference to those principles, to still more extensive reductions in taxation. That observation was loudly cheered by hon. Gentlemen at the other side of the House:— But," continued the right hon. Gentleman, "it is our object, while we establish good principles, at the same time viewing the state of society—the magnitude of the interests involved—the consequence to those interests of hasty and rash interference—our avowed object is to realise the utmost degree of good without the disturbance or alarm of interests which cannot be disturbed and cannot be alarmed without perilling the industry of this country. The agriculturist, however, saw the Tariff of three years previous revived; and they saw in it several articles from which the duty had been removed that had formerly entered into their profits. What was there, then, to prevent the Corn Law coming next? But, most fortunately, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had been followed by one which in some degree relieved their fears, and which had been uttered by his right hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert), on his recent appearance before his constituents. The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright) on a previous occasion quoted only part of this speech, and he (Mr. Miles) should commence his quotation where the hon. Gentleman left off. The right hon. Gentleman said,— He then thought that the amount of protection was so excessive that it could not be maintained—that 20s. duty was more than could be maintained, because no foreign nation could pay it; but he frankly owned that in this he was mistaken, for he did not think that that protection was one bit larger than it ought to be; and he did think that there was this advantage in the present law—that it rallied round it many who would not have rallied round it if that protection had been larger, while no one could say that that protection was too large, looking at the burdens on agriculture; besides, it gave a greater stability and firmness to the law; and he did hope, and he believed, that there was among the people of this country, as there certainly was in Her Majesty's Ministers, a determination to uphold the Corn Law. This was precisely what the landed interest wished to do. This was exactly the way the farmers of England wished to be treated. They wished a frank and open avowal of what the sentiments of Government were. He (Mr. Miles), for one, could not doubt those of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), because, in answer to an appeal from himself last year, the right hon. Baronet stated he had no intention of tampering with those laws of his own creation; therefore, it would be most unworthy on his (Mr. Miles's) part to harbour any doubt upon the subject. Still, he was bound to express the sentiments of those on whose behalf he was then upon the floor of the House; and he was, therefore, impelled to say, that an enunciation of the determination of the Government to uphold the Corn Laws as they now existed would do much to pacify the minds of the farmers, and to restore confidence in the Administration. One word more. He always liked to deal fairly and candidly. At the instance of many friends, he had brought forward his present Motion; but he felt it right to say, that it was not done with the general assent of the agricultural body. He had now done. He had thought it necessary to state the sentiments of the farmers of England to that House—he had thought it right to act consistently up to his own principles and opinions—and they were tolerably well known in that House. He had freely asserted the sentiments which were rife out of doors, and he should sit down with a grateful feeling to the House for the kindness with which it had listened to him, and with the feeling, also, that, having conscientiously, though no doubt feebly, done what he conceived to be his duty, it would be for the constituencies of the country to say whether he was right or not in bringing forward the Resolution he then had the honour of placing in the hands of the Speaker.

The Earl of March

, in seconding the Motion, said that, after the very able speech of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, and the details he had entered into, he should not trespass long on the attention of the House; but representing as he did a large agricultural constituency, who exacted no pledge from him on the hustings, but who knew his firm and fixed determination to uphold the agricultural interest, he felt he should not be doing his duty by them, if he did not rise on the present occasion to state his entire concurrence with the Motion of his hon. Friend. The circumstance that protection to agricultural produce had, in the last few years, been reduced to so great an extent by Parliament—to an extent, in his opinion, greater than was called for, or than was compatible with the best interests of the country—gave the agriculturists a right to ask, not as a boon, but as an act of justice, that they should be relieved from a great portion of the burdens of local taxation which pressed most heavily on them, and on the inhabitants of the poorest cottage, and which sat but lightly on the wealthy millowner. If he had thought, when the new Corn Law was brought in by the right hon. Baronet, that it was to be followed by the Tariff and Canada Corn Bill, no power on earth would have induced him to vote for it. He conscientiously be- lieved that great distress existed among the tenantry of England, and was not confined to any particular localities; in proof of which he would advert to the large deputation which waited on the right hon. Baronet from many counties, and to the numerous petitions presented to Parliament. He asked them most earnestly not to resist the appeal which had been made to them; to rescue the yeomanry of England, without loss of time, from the distress they were suffering. They did not ask them to endanger the prosperity of other classes of their fellow-subjects for their benefit; but they looked to Parliament for aid and assistance in their time of need and depression, and he trusted most sincerely they would not appeal in vain. He most heartily seconded the Motion.

Sir J. Graham

said: Sir, it is my duty to rise on the present occasion to declare, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, their intention to resist the Motion which has just been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire, and which has been seconded by my noble Friend the Member for West Sussex. And in doing so, although it will be my duty to comment with the freedom which our debates absolutely demand, on some of the arguments adduced by my hon. Friend and also by my noble Friend; yet, I need not say, that, entertaining for them, as well as for the Gentlemen with whom they act, the highest possible respect, I shall deeply regret if one word even should fall from me calculated in the least degree to cause pain either to my hon. or my noble Friend. Having made this very short preface, I think it is desirable that I should next discharge from the question under discussion everything that is extraneous to the matter of debate. In the first place, I would observe that we are not to-night discussing whether protection should be given to the agricultural interest. Upon that point I have the strongest possible feeling. I retain the opinion for which I have often contended in this House, and which I am prepared to contend for again, that, consistently with the interests of the entire community, protection must still be afforded and maintained for the agricultural interest. We are not to-night discussing whether this protection shall still be continued. Neither is the quantum of that protection now the subject of debate. My hon. Friend who brought forward this Motion has entered into very lengthy details with reference to the importation of corn, and with reference to the price of corn at different periods, and has laid the foundation, as it would appear to me, not for a narrow Motion like that we are now discussing, but rather as I should say for a Motion to repeal the existing Corn Law—at all events for a repeal of the Canada Corn Bill—and more certainly still, for a reconsideration of that portion of the Tariff which admitted the importation of live animals at a moderate duty. It is not my intention on the present occasion to go into many details with respect to the Budget, which, had it not been for this Motion, we should now have been proceeding to discuss in Committee with reference to some of its more important items. But still my hon. Friend has stated that the Government in his opinion are tardy in doing justice to the landed interest; and he alluded in the course of his speech to that which I always listen to with feelings of sorrow, namely, the distress which prevails among different classes of the community. My hon. Friend said, that the community is divided into manufacturing, commercial, and landed interests. He said that with respect to the last-mentioned interest, the Government were indisposed to do it more than tardy justice; it is my duty, therefore, before proceeding further, shortly to call the attention of the House to what has been the financial policy of Her Majesty's Government. Certainly it has not been directed exclusively to the benefit of the landed interests. They have had to consider, under difficult circumstances, with great care and caution, the position in which they found affairs in reference to the interests of the entire community; and very shortly, with the permission of the House, I will notice what I deem to be the most important portion of the inquiry. When we came into office we found a very considerable deficiency in the Revenue as compared with the Expenditure. It was a deficiency that was not casual or accidental, but one which had existed for some years. And I now see opposite my right hon. Friend (Mr. F. T. Baring), who in the strongest manner deprecated the continuance of any such deficiency, as, in his opinion, quite inconsistent with the safety and the honour of the country. No person could more fairly or manfully avow his opinion that a great effort was necessary on the part of the country to retrieve a state of financial embarrassment, which, if continued, was, as he said, and as I say, entirely inconsistent with the public honour and national safety. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government, of which he was a distinguished Member, did attempt to apply a particular remedy; and if the power of consumption on the part of the great body of the community had not been considerably impaired, I for one can see no reason why the measure then adopted by the right hon. Gentleman should not have been successful. The course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman was to levy a proportionate increase of duty on the Customs and Excise, those two great branches of the public revenue that most clearly indicate the prosperity and consuming power of the great body of the people. The right hon. Gentleman proposed an increase of 5 per cent. on all the Customs and Excise duties, and at the same time proposed an increase of 10 per cent. on the assessed taxes, the assessed taxes differing essentially in their operation and effects from the Customs and Excise, being in the nature of a direct tax, and more in the nature of the Property Tax which we have since adopted. Now, Sir, the effect of that proposition pf the right hon. Gentleman was well worthy of remark. The addition of 5 per cent. on articles of consumption on the Customs and Excise, so far from producing an increase of revenue at all corresponding to the 5 per cent., left the deficiency very much as it found it. Upon the sum of 24,226,758l., instead of producing an increase of 5 per cent., the sum actually collected was 23,515,374l. thus leaving still a growing deficiency which amounted to 700,000l. on the Excise and Customs alone. And what was the effect of the addition of 10 per cent. on the assessed taxes? Not only the reverse of what was expected, but the full amount of the 10 per cent. was levied on the assessed taxes, and the increase of 311,000l. occasioned by the 10 per cent. was paid into the Exchequer; but although the assessed taxes were increased by additional imposts to the extent of 430,000l. showing that the 10 per cent. had no unfavourable effect on those taxes, there was still a positive addition to the amount of the gross deficiency on the taxes levied within the year. Now what was the practical lesson which this state of affairs brought to the attention of the Government? It convinced them of one serious truth, that the limit of indirect taxation, if it had not been absolutely reached, was certainly almost attained, and that in any effort which might be made to restore the finances of the country, indirect taxation ought not to be pressed further, but that direct taxation must be carried to a greater extent. Consequently, in the year 1842, my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government made two propositions. He proposed the imposition of the Income Tax, whereby he felt confident, not only that the annual demand for the Public Service would be fully met by the income of the year, but an available sum would remain, to be applied to the remission of indirect taxes. The amount of the taxes remitted by the measure proposed by my right hon. Friend, in 1842, and bearing principally on raw materials, was no less than 1,135,000l. Among the principal articles of raw material from which a large amount of duty was removed was the article of timber. The general benefit of the remission of duty upon timber was not admitted by my hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire to the full extent which its importance demanded. The benefit is this—it is impossible to remove a heavy duty, affecting a raw material which enters into very general use, without relieving not only the parties more immediately concerned In the manufacture into which that raw material enters; but, also, it is at the same time absolutely certain that that relief will be felt by the entire community, and the landed interest will have a share of it, not less but greater than the other portions of the community. The effect of the remission of the duty upon timber has been much canvassed, and great fault has been found with it by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. I admit that, from various circumstances, the effect of that measure has not yet been so widely felt as is desirable; but at the same time I have great pleasure in stating that I have a return in my hand, made upon the best authorities in Liverpool, by which it appears that the effect has been a reduction in the price of Memel timber in the present year as contrasted with the price in 1841—and I take the mean price—of no less than 6½d. per foot; and as compared with the year 1842, when the alteration took place, there is a reduction of no less than 4¾d. per foot. With reference also to Canada timber the reduction has been considerable, amounting to upwards of 7d. a foot. Let me also observe, that no portion of the community have a deeper interest in this lowering of the price of timber than the landowners of this country. From cir- cumstances they are compelled to repair all the farm-buildings on their estates. They are in fact among the greatest consumers of timber in the country. The total reduction on raw materials, then, including 600,000l. for timber, in 1842, was 1,135,000l. My right hon. Friend also proposed a remission of the duties upon articles of consumption which amounted to 240,000l. upon coffee, and 86,000l. upon other articles of consumption and manufactures, together amounting to 317,000l. Then there was the remission of duty upon exported manufactures; and, after making an abatement of 114,000l. for the duty on coal, the balance of the remission of duties in 1842 was in favour of the consumer to the extent of 1,438,000l. From circumstances into which it is not now necessary for me to enter, in the year 1843 no further remission of duty was proposed; but in 1844 my right hon. Friend proposed a remission of the duty upon wool, which amounted to 100,000l.; of the duty upon currants, 91,000l.; and of the duty upon coffee, 82,000l., making in that year a total remission of duty to the amount of 273,000l. Now, here again, in this remission of duty in 1844, there is a fact well worthy of the particular notice of my agricultural friends. The remission of the duty upon wool appears to be small; but, I speak with confidence that—as compared with the sum now sought to be obtained by my hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire, as direct relief from the Exchequer in aid of the county rate—a small sum certainly—nominally small in amount, yet in principle, as I hope to show before I sit down, not unimportant—the relief granted by the remission of the wool duties has been an advantage in a directly pecuniary point of view to the landed interest greater by three or four times the amount, as contrasted with the proposition of my hon. Friend. The price of wool in fact has gradually risen from the time that the high protective duty was removed. If you look at the returns from 1820 to the present time, you will find that from 1824, when the higher protecting duty was imposed, there was almost a regular succession of years during which the price of British wool gradually declined and fell; and that in different years, from the time when the protective duty on wool, which before was almost prohibitory, was reduced, from that very period the price of British wool improved; and at the present moment when I am speaking, after the entire remission of the duty on foreign wool, with the exception of one or two years from 1820, the price of wool per pound is higher now than in any former year. I must now go on, and, in passing, observe to the House, that the effect of the measures proposed by my right hon. Friend in 1842 and 1844, taken in conjunction with the propositions which we are now discussing, will prove that with reference to the entire community, large remissions of taxation have been effected, and effected in a manner which, I believe, will greatly contribute to the future, and indeed to the immediate prosperity of the landed interest, regarding them as an integral part of the community, not dealing with them separately, but in a manner entirely unexceptionable, and yet in a manner which can excite no jealousy, because it will be a benefit common to the entire nation. The proposition with respect to sugar, to which my hon. Friend says he does not offer any opposition, but which as a whole he considers to be a boon, will, if carried into effect, be a remission of taxation of no less than 2,306,000l., that is, upon the article of sugar alone. The remission of duty upon cotton will be 680,000l.; upon other materials of industry, and partially manufactured articles included in the Bill upon which we are going into Committee, 320,000l., and upon coals and minor exports, 125,000l., making altogether a remission of indirect taxation for the year of 3,431,000l. Now add to that the remission of duty in 1842 and 1844. In 1842, there was a remission of 70,000l. of the duty on stage coaches; in 1844, on glass, 45,000l.; on vinegar, 25,000l.; on marine insurances, 130,000l.; and in the present year, on glass 642,000l.; and on auctions, 250,000l. This has reference to the remission of excise duty, and the amount is 1,162,000l.; add to it the amount of the Customs' duties repealed in the three years—viz. 5,142,000l. and you will find that the effect of the propositions of Her Majesty's Government made by my right hon. Friend is a remission, in the last three years, of an annual sum not less than 6,304,000l. of taxes directly affecting the whole body of consumers in the country. To enable us to make these reductions we have imposed an income tax, from which, however, we exempt every person whose income is less than 150l. The general effect of these changes, therefore, has been not only to reduce the deficiency in the revenue, but to make the income of the country equal to the expenditure, and at the same time, it will be seen by reference to the items of expenditure to be brought under your consideration in the Estimates, to justify us in asking for the large additional sums of 900,000l. for the navy, and 300,000l. for other branches of the Public Service. While, therefore, 6,300,000l. has been remitted to the consumer, the imposition of the Income Tax will place the revenue of the country on an equal footing with the expenditure, even although the latter, for great national objects, be considerably augmented. My hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire has asked, in the terms of his Motion, that the landed interest should participate to a small extent only in that surplus of income which will remain out of the taxation of the year after all the claims upon it are satisfied. He founds his claim to this participation on the ground, in the first place, that the landowners contribute in an extraordinary proportion beyond that in which the other classes in this country contribute, towards the Income Income Tax; but if the hon. Member will look at Schedule D of the Income Tax, he will find that although land certainly does bear its share of that impost, the professional incomes and commercial gains of all the classes who are not comprised within the term "landholders" contribute a very large proportion of that tax. My hon. Friend's second position is, that land is entitled to the boon he asks, because, whilst commerce and manufactures throughout the kingdom are in a most flourishing and prosperous condition, the agricultural classes are in a state of great depression and of distress. My hon. Friend certainly qualified his assertion to some extent by admitting that this depression did not extend to Ireland; and I believe, indeed, that it is generally admitted by hon. Members from that country, that last year was one of unexampled prosperity and abundance. Indeed, I myself can testify, that so far from there being any agricultural distress in Scotland and the northern counties of England, the farming classes there are in a state of great prosperity, their rents have been faithfully paid, and in some instances where arrears were due they have likewise been paid up within the last year. I certainly did at one moment think that my hon. Friend intended in his speech to lay the foundation for a Motion of a much larger demand than that which he has made; and if his arguments are worth anything at all the ques- tion ought not to be whether the House will give 200,000l. or 300,000l. to the agricultural interest, but whether the protection which the land receives is sufficient to enable it to cope with its difficulties; whether the Corn Laws ought not to be repealed, and replaced by others giving more protection; and also whether the Tariff and the Canada Corn Law ought not to be revised. My hon. Friend went at great length into details and statistics connected with this question, in order to show what the importation of Foreign corn under the present system of duties has been; and he drew a comparison between the three years immediately preceding the introduction of the Corn Laws of 1828 and the last three years, in order to prove that the importation has been much greater during the latter period than during the former. But I must draw my hon. Friend's attention to the admitted, the indisputable fact, that the production of corn in this country is in many seasons far short of the quantity absolutely required to supply the nation with bread; and what, let me ask the hon. Member, would be the situation not only of the nation, but of the agricultural classes themselves, if owing to such restrictions as those to which he refers the population of England were debarred from procuring food in sufficient quantities? Is the hon. Member aware of the ratio in which the population of England and Wales annually increases? Is he aware that there is a regular annual increase in the population of 380,000—more than 1,000 in every twenty-four hours? And if the population of England increases in this ratio, must not also the importation of corn increase, since the quantity produced by the land has been admitted to be inadequate to the demand for some years past? Indeed, so convinced am I of the vast importance of an adequate supply of corn being imported in order to make up for the admitted deficiency in our own production of that first necessary of life, that I should anticipate only some frightful convulsion, which would be fatal alike to the landed as it would be to the commercial and monied classes, if any measures were devised by which this occasioned supply was prevented from reaching us. My hon. Friend next went into the whole question of farming; but, although I am ready to follow the course of his arguments as far as I can, I am not prepared to make this question a Corn Law debate, as all I had looked for on my hon. Friend's part on the present occasion was, a demand either for some special protection, or a remission of some of the taxes which press particularly upon agriculture. He dwelt, however, at some length on the case of the farmers, and referred in particular to the importation of barley and oats. Now, these are both of them articles of prime necessity to the farmer, and the importation of them, under the existing production of the country, has been steadily maintained at somewhere about a million of quarters a-year. But in what manner has this importation gone on? Have these articles of consumption been suddenly introduced at moments when the duty has been very low? Has the importation been so managed as to benefit the importers, by being thrown upon the market immediately previous to the harvest? Not so. The importation of barley has been regular in amount and in its periods; it has gone on from week to week during the whole year, and the duty has been regularly paid, and the barley brought to market, whether that duty was high or low. [An hon. Member: How much duty has been paid?] The hon. Member asks me how much duty has been paid on these articles. The quantity of barley imported in the last year was 1,028,000 quarters, upon which there was paid a duty of 205,000l.; and this importation went on, as I have already stated, steadily and regularly, not being stimulated or retarded to any observable degree by the state of the markets here. I hold in my hand a Paper, which was moved for by the hon. Member for Norfolk, containing a return of the price of barley during the ten years extending from 1835 to 1844 inclusive, and I find, that with the exception of two years, the price of barley averaged annually during the whole of that period 33s. 8d. a quarter; and that it was higher in 1844 than during any preceding year; and in the two years that I excepted from this average it was only 1s. a quarter less than the price I have quoted. These facts of themselves would suffice to show that there has been a great improvement in the circumstances of the great body of the people. They prove, likewise, that there is an increasing power of consumption constantly increasing together with the increase in the population and, so far from the agricultural interests being in the slightest degree sufferers from the circumstances to which I have referred, they not only are not damaged, but they are protected, as the price proves to the full extent contemplated by the law. My hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire next went into the question of the Canada Corn Bill; and he declared that measure to be quite inconsistent with the protection which the agricultural interest had been taught to expect at the hands of my right hon. Friend, asserting as an argument on this point, that the quantity of corn imported from Canada affected the price of all the corn grown in England. Now, I do not subscribe to this sentiment of my hon. Friend. I still retain the opinion which I originally expressed, and believe that the Canada Corn Bill was a most useful subsidiary measure to the Corn Law of 1842. The effect of the sliding scale, I need scarcely remind the House, is to lay the market open in a certain degree to the operations of speculation in corn, at the critical juncture immediately preceding harvest. Between the periods when the stock of old corn runs short, and the corn of the approaching harvest has not yet been brought to market, there are a variety of means taken to run the prices up to a high pitch, to the detriment of the community at large, in order that advantage may be taken by means of the sliding scale to introduce a quantity of foreign grain at the lowest possible duty and at the highest possible price. This operation always takes place before the result of the harvest is generally known, for when once that is ascertained the speculators of whom I speak run the chance of seeing the prices go suddenly down, so as to involve them in loss. Having stated the danger to which the sliding scale exposes the community, let me now state what the safeguard is. In the month of April, till which time the St. Lawrence is closed, all the corn that is intended for the English market is prepared and ready to be shipped at the Canadian ports the moment the ice permits the vessels to sail. It arrives in this country at the critical period of June, the moment when the speculations to which I have just referred are in progress, and the Canada corn holds them completely in check, keeping the market supplied until the new corn comes in. But, whatever effect the importation of corn from Canada may have in other respects, it is perfectly clear that it cannot have any great effect upon the price of English wheat. What are the real facts of this question, to which my hon. Friend has alluded in such strong terms? In the year 1844 the quantity of corn imported from Canada, as truly stated by him, was 227,000 quarters. What will the House suppose was the quantity imported in 1841, the year before the Canada Corn Bill was passed? I have no doubt it will be thought by those who are not conversant with the facts to have been much less; at all events, no one will for a moment conceive it possible that it was greater; and yet what is the fact? Why, that the quantity in 1841 was greater by 30,000 quarters than the importation of 1844; the whole quantity of Canada corn imported in 1841 was 241,000, whilst the quantities imported in the years 1842 and 1843 did not materially differ from that of the last year. My hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire, in the next branch of his argument, proceeded to show that the agricultural classes had some claim for relief out of the Consolidated Fund, on account of the losses to which they had been subjected by the operation of the New Tariff of 1842. Now, this is a matter which fortunately admits of being tested in the most efficient and satisfactory manner by figures and facts. My hon. Friend is in want of statistical information on this point. He requires to know the number of live animals imported under the New Tariff. But what are the facts of this importation? I see my right hon. Friend the late President of the Board of Trade on the other side of the House, and whom I would rather see still sitting by my side—and I recollect that when he was stating what he considered the maximum of importation from abroad of cattle, he admitted the possibility that 50,000 might come over in one year. His prediction was more bold than accurate. What has been the case? Why, the whole number of cattle, fat and lean, imported in the year 1843, only amounted to 1,482, and of swine there were 361; whilst in the first six months after the New Tariff had come into operation the number of cattle brought over was 4,076, and of pigs 410. During the year 1844 there certainly has been an increase upon the importation of the preceding year, and perhaps that has produced an alarming effect upon the agriculturists alluded to by my hon. Friend, for the number of cattle imported from all parts of the world in the last year was 4,865, being 800 more than in 1842; but then the number of swine imported was much smaller than in any preceding year. From practical experience, I am convinced that a steady annual importation of 10,000 head of cattle from abroad would produce no effect what- ever upon the markets in this country. But this is not so much a question of importing 10,000 or 20,000 or 300,000 head of cattle, as a question of the state of the manufacturing districts; and no course that you can take as to the Tariff, can have much influence compared to the condition of the people in those districts. Nothing would produce such a great and immediate effect upon the price of meat as the prevalence of low wages throughout the manufacturing districts, which would effectually prevent those classes who inhabit them from consuming beef and mutton. I speak upon this subject from a personal knowledge of the facts. The county with which I am connected is not very far distant from the manufacturing districts and the town of Liverpool; and all the surplus produce of that part of the country, by the magic power of steam, can now be sent from the north of England, in a space of time incredibly short, into the very heart of the manufacturing districts. To the farmers in that part of the country this state of things has given rise to a new and very important question; and the question with them now is, what is the state of trade at Manchester, and not what is the amount of cattle imported? I am satisfied that, as relates to the great body of the graziers and producers of fat cattle in this country, it is not the apprehension of importation from abroad which ought to arouse their fears or disturb their feelings; but that which they have to fear is, lest the great body of the manufacturers should be reduced to poverty and destitution, which would reflect upon the farming interests that distress which cannot exist in one class wthout affecting all. My hon. Friend next proceeded to dwell upon another important branch of his subject, in consideration of which he claimed that moderate amount of assistance to which his Motion is limited; and I must certainly say, as a landed proprietor, that I never could have anticipated so small a boon would have been asked on behalf of so great an interest as that represented by my hon. Friend. The hon. Member dwelt on the large amount of poor rates paid by the landed interest as compared with the sums levied on this account upon other species of property. Now, I beg to call the attention of my hon. Friend, and that of the House also, to some facts which will demonstrate that the landed interest has no claim whatever on this ground to receive any additional relief from the Government beyond the protection which they already enjoy. I shall state one short fact to the House. I am about to call your attention to the very large extent to which the particular burden referred to by the hon. Member has been reduced. I know that what I am about to state will afford grounds for charging me with having oppressed the destitute and distressed by enforcing upon them the strict operation of the Poor Law. This, however, is not the time to combat such charges, or to prove that I have acted rightly. I have combated them before, and I shall be prepared to do so again, when the occasion arrives. My present object is to show to the hon. Member who brought the Motion before the House the very large amount of reduction that has been made in the poor rates, and the consequent profit that has resulted from this circumstance to the landlord without any real injury to the industrious, honest labourer. I call the attention of the House to these facts. In the year 1813, when the population of England and Wales was 10,505,886, the total amount collected for the poor and county rates was 8,646,841l. In the year 1844, when the population of England and Wales amounts to 16,543,010, the amount levied for the poor and county-rates together does not exceed 6,848,717l.; or, in other words, whilst the population has increased one-third in the interval, the burden of poor and county rates has diminished in an equal ratio, the amount now collected being less by one-third than the sum levied in 1813. Looking at this question in another point of view, the amount levied for poor and county rates was, in 1813, 16s. 5d. a head, upon the whole population of England and Wales; it is now reduced to 8s. 3d. a head. I have thus shortly instituted this comparison; but it is not altogether a fair one, in so far as the particular circumstances which characterised the epoch of 1813 are taken into account. The paper currency of the Kingdom was then in a depreciated state, and consequently the value of money was not the same as it is at present. But there is as complete a case to be made out in favour of the latter period, if we even revert back only so far as the years 1825 or 1826, when the currency was restored to a gold standard, and money was of the same value that it now is. In the year 1827, which is sufficiently far back for the purpose of establishing an unexceptionable contrast, the poor and county rates were 7,784,000l.; in the year 1844 they were, as I have already stated, 6,848,717l., showing a difference in favour of the last year of nearly 1,000,000l., notwithstanding the vast increase in the population during this interval. I only mention these facts incidentally, because the landed interest, amidst their complaints, have entirely lost sight of them; and they ought always to bear in mind that as the first charge upon the land is for the maintenance of the poor, so the effect of any reduction in that burden is immediate and to their lasting benefit; and when that reduction can be shown to be so great as I have proved it to be, the result is not only palpable, but direct. Now my hon. Friend—I do not say unfairly—is impeding the House, by his Motion, from going into Committee on the Customs' Act, the first step in which will be to repeal the duty on cotton. In the district in which I live, hand-loom weavers abound mixed with the rural population. It has been stated, and most truly, by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, that this tax upon cotton operates most unfairly upon hand-loom weavers. The hand-loom weaver is the manufacturer of those particular articles into which the raw material enters most largely, and in the manufacture of which, when he exports the commodity so made, he meets his foreign rivals in neutral markets at the greatest disadvantage. When the manufacturing interests are distressed, I know the destitution of the hand-loom weavers to be extreme. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Knaresborough quoted something which fell from me with reference to the Poor Laws in 1839. I was then Chairman of a Board of Guardians, and I did state to the House that if a peremptory order for refusing out-door relief had been in force, I for one — witnessing as I did the distress of the hand-loom weavers—a distress which existed to an extent that was heart-rending to contemplate—I, for one, would not have remained responsible for the administration of the Poor Law within the district over which that Board had control. I stated so then, and I repeat that statement now. I only mention the fact, as a proof that the condition of the manufacturing community is closely interwoven and intermixed with that of the agricultural interest. In the Union to which I refer there are no large manufactories—there is no congregation of multitudes in large towns—but, as is the case in many northern towns and districts, the hand-loom weavers occupy cottages—they have their looms in their cottages, and make their wives and children subservient to aid them in their labours; and they often work from fifteen to sixteen, hours per day, I am sorry to say, at no higher wages than 5s. or 6s. a week. I say that it is impossible in periods of distress that any law could be carried into effect which would peremptorily deny relief to those in that terrible condition. And whence does that relief come? It is drawn, as the House well knows, from the land; and I know no mode in which you can better give relief to all classes, as you have already done in the case of wool, than by repealing the duty on cotton. You will directly benefit the landed interest, in a pecuniary point of view, by a remission of the duty, to say nothing of the direct and palpable benefits which such a course is sure of conferring on all classes connected with that great branch of national industry. My hon. Friend next proceeded to speak of the expense of the rural police. For the maintenance of this force the whole of England is charged less than 60,000l. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) did not—and in that respect I think the noble Lord acted wisely — make the act establishing that force compulsory on the country, but left it discretionary on the part of the magistrates of counties to adopt it or not, as seemed proper to them. It is at their option, therefore, whether they will incur the expense or not. My hon. Friend only glanced at the subject of tithes. To me it appears impossible to contend that, on the ground of the commutation of tithes, the landlord has any additional claim upon the Consolidated Fund. No measure ever received the sanction of the British Legislature so advantageous to the landed interest as that great arrangement. The tithe-owners were formerly copartners with the owners of the soil. The latter could not expend a shilling on the improvement of their property, but another party was entitled to a partition of the benefits of such improvement, without any share whatever in the outlay; but, by the Tithe Commutation Act, a new arrangement was made, most conducive to the interests of the landed proprietor, in cutting off the claim of his copartner to his share in the profits. On the whole, it is impossible that greater advantages could be conferred upon the possessor of land by an Act of Parliament than those which accrued to him six or seven years ago; and, on the ground of tithes I contended formerly, and I contend now, that the landowner has no particular claim for any additional relief. I have now gone through the various points by which my hon. Friend sought to establish the claims of agriculture to some special and new advantage. My hon. Friend also referred to the remedies which he thought it would be but justice to apply; and following my hon. Friend, I will now refer to the remedies which have been proposed to the consideration of the House. To a few of them I have no objection. And, first, with regard to a general Inclosure Act; and, secondly, with regard to drainage. The noble Lord at the head of the department of the Woods and Forests, has been kind enough to undertake the investigation of these two particular subjects; and the noble Lord the Member for Lincolnshire (Lord Worsley), who has, so much to his credit, directed his attention to the question of inclosure, has left the matter in the hands of the Government, on condition that they would grapple with all the difficulties of the subject; and I shall not be speaking too confidently, when I say that I have every reason to believe that my noble Friend (the Earl of Lincoln) will be able very shortly to lay upon the Table of the House two general measures with regard to inclosure and drainage. There is another object to which the agricultural interest attach great importance, and that is that they should be allowed to make malt for the purpose of feeding cattle. I am happy in being able to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not indisposed to reconsider the existing regulations on that subject; and if the matter can be effected without an injurious risk to the Revenue, I am quite sure I speak the sentiments of my right hon. Friend in saying that he will not be indisposed to give the matter his most favourable consideration. I now come to the more direct proposition of my hon. Friend, to which I have an insurmountable objection. My hon. Friend proposes, in the first place, that the whole cost of prosecutions at the assizes shall be transferred from the county rate to the public funds. My hon. Friend stated with truth, that in 1834 a Committee sat and reported, and in their Report recommended such a transfer. That proposition of the Committee was taken into the serious consideration of the Executive Government. The proposition was, that the expense of all prosecutions at assizes should be transferred as a burden upon the public funds. Most wisely, as I think, an amendment was made by the Government to that proposal. If the burden of the prosecutions at assizes had been transferred entirely, as proposed by the Committee, no local authority whatever would have had interest in checking prodigality of expenditure. The Government, in one respect, went further than the Committee, and embraced the quarter sessions as well as the assizes within the measure which they adopted, whereby one-half of the burden was to be mutually borne by the public and by the county rates. The effect of that arrangement was, that the magistrates in quarter sessions, their officers—the clerks of the peace, and all officers over whom they exercise a control, have a direct interest in aiding the Government to check an expenditure, one half of which is to be borne by the public. Besides, in respect to the recommendation of the Committee, I am bound to state that a considerable expense has been removed from the county rate, by the expense of the removal of convicts to the hulks being now borne by the public. I think, therefore, that it would not be prudent to depart from existing arrangements—arrangements whereby the public very liberally bear a moiety of a heavy expenditure; and I for one will not be a party either to renew the recommendation of the whole expenditure being borne by the public, or support a departure from existing regulations. My hon. Friend next proposed that, inasmuch as the Executive Government interferes with the management of gaols, and as, under the authority of the Legislature, the power of dealing with the question of the dietary of the prisoners, is vested in the Secretary of State, one half the burden of the maintenance of the prisoners should be thrown upon the public purse. If I have been successful in making what I have already stated intelligible to the House, it must appear that Her Majesty's Government is not indisposed to consider the interests of the agriculturists. With the exception of interference with respect to dietary, there is no other interference exercised by the Government in the management of gaols. With respect to their buildings, their internal arrangements, and the officers to be appointed; with respect to the salaries to be paid to these officers; and with respect to all the internal regulations, excepting the dietary—they are under the exclusive control and management of the county magistrates. Although disposed to divide the expense with the public, my hon. Friend will not be disposed to divide the management with the Executive Government. For my part, I should be adverse to any proposition which would vest the whole management of county gaols in the Executive Government. The House will now permit me to make some remarks on the recommendation of the Committee in 1834, with reference to county expenditure. In the Report of the Committee, the subject of county rates was divided into four parts. With the permission of the House I will shortly enumerate some of their recommendations. The first branch of the Report referred to highway. On this head several important recommendations of the Committee of 1834 still remain a dead letter; but which, if carried into effect, would be productive of salutary results. First of all, they recommended that Union districts should be formed for the management of the highways. My belief is, that this recommendation might be carried into effect with great advantage, and I believe further, that the two systems of the relief of the poor and the management of the highways might be worked together with great economy and advantage to the public. The next recommendation was the abolition of statute labour. That, I believe, has been carried into effect. It was next proposed that the maintenance of roads over bridges, and for some distance at either end of them, should be undertaken by the turnpike trusts. That also, I believe, has been done. Next, I come to the question of the county finances. The recommendation of the Committee was, amongst other things, in reference to the county accounts, that they should in future be divided into separate and distinct branches, and set forth under different heads. That was an important recommendation, and I will show the House how little attention has been paid to it. I hold in my hand an analysis of a Paper moved for by the hon. Member for Somersetshire himself, with reference to the county rates, in 1842. In the Report it is stated, that one of the great disadvantages of the then system was the way in which the county rate was made up, classing accounts under few and large heads, and none of them duly vouched or audited. These accounts involve at the same time large amounts of expenditure. And what is the fact with regard to the year 1842? The county rates of that year amounted to no less a sum than 1,137,000l. The disbursements are branched under different heads. One is, "diet of prisoners," against which was set down 33,000l. Then comes the "clothing of prisoners, 4,000l.; salaries, 42,000l.;" and then under one general head of "incidental expenses," no less a sum than 53,000l. Had the recommendations of the Committee been carried into effect, and the county accounts, from which I have read these items, been properly audited, a very great saving might have been effected. Then again, with regard to the House of Correction, in the same manner, in a sum total of 140,000l., as the whole annual expense, I find for "incidental expenses" no less a sum than 47,000l. that is 25 per cent. of the whole amount placed under that head. I hold another account in my hand, of which, speaking generally, I find no less than 20 per cent. of the whole sum placed under the head of "other expenses," or incidental expenses, from which it is evident that it has been neither properly vouched, classified, nor audited. Had the recommendation of the Committee been carried out, I am confident that by a proper system of auditing the accounts a saving in the county rate to a large amount might have been effected. There are other important recommendations made in that portion of the Report which refers to the county finances, to which it would have been advantageous to have paid attention, and to carry which into practical effect would not require legislative interference. They should be adopted without delay, and if legislative interference be necessary, the intervention of Parliament will not, I am sure, be denied. Another regulation was recommended, and it was almost the only other one which remained in reference to the financial part of the question—a regulation for the payment of fees, and the making allowances to witnesses at criminal prosecutions. On that I will not now dwell, as I had the honour, only a few nights ago, of introducing a Bill to regulate the fees payable to clerks of the peace, and magistrates' clerks. The Report further recommended that a new valuation of property should take place. I do not think that any legislative enactment is necessary in order to give effect to this recommenda- tion.I have now gone through the principal recommendations in the Report of 1834. The larger part of these have already received the sanction of the Legislature, or have been carried into effect, not needing that sanction. With respect to Coroners, the throwing one half of the expense caused by the duties of these officers upon the public funds would be unreasonable. They are elected by the counties, and being county officers, it is but just that the expense attending them should be borne by the counties. As to the register of electors for Parliamentary purposes, to which my hon. Friend referred in the course of his speech, I cannot coincide with his opinion, which my hon. Friend pressed upon the consideration of the House. It would not be right that the expense of these registers should be in part borne by those who do not possess the franchise. The Motion now made by my hon. Friend is no new proposition. It has been made, and in almost similar terms, several times before. I think it was when I had the honour of being a Member of Lord Grey's Government in 1834, that the Motion was first made. I then resisted it, together with many Gentlemen whom I now see on the benches opposite. I left that Government in May, 1834; and this Motion was made again, in the July of the same year; and being out of office, I thought it my duty again to oppose it. The Motion was repeated in 1836, when certainly it was my misfortune to be much opposed to those who then wielded the executive power; yet even then, as before, I thought it my duty to give a decided opposition to this Motion. I admit that the landed interest is entitled to protection; but at the same time I feel that these peculiar burdens are rightly placed, and I am opposed to their removal. The landed interest derives a certain protection on account of these burdens, and I do not think it should attempt to throw them off, and at the same time to retain the protection which is given on account of them. Whether in or out of office it will be my duty to resist any proposition of the kind; and I shall, therefore, vote against the Motion of my hon. Friend and in favour, Sir, of your leaving the chair to go into a Committee on the Customs' Duties Bill.

Mr. Newdegate

said, he admired the ability with which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department had treated the subject; but whatever might be the ability of his arguments, he could not say they had convinced him; he therefore must remain of the same opinion with the hon. Member for Somersetshire. The right hon. Baronet had set aside or avoided the statements made by the hon. Member; but his arguments had not met that statement, which remained in its original force. The right hon. Baronet had alluded to the circumstances under which the Property Tax had been imposed in 1842. There was a deficiency, and that tax was imposed to supply it, and did so; but owing to manufacturing distress, the Property Tax was then accompanied by a reduction of duties in favour of the then distressed manufacturing interest; this reduction was unfavourable to the agricultural interest, which had progressively declined ever since 1842, and that it is now depressed cannot be denied. Every Member was bound first to consider the state of his own constituents; that of his (Mr. Newdegate's) agricultural constituents was one of great depression. He rejoiced at much that had fallen from the right hon. Baronet; it showed that he, at all events, had not forgot the agriculturist, and was in a very different tone from that used the other day by the hon. Secretary at War. That right hon. Gentleman had thought fit to use expressions with reference to the agricultural Members which he had bitterly regretted hearing emanate from that side of the House; but he (Mr. Newdegate) perceived that the right hon. Gentleman was not in his place; he would therefore say no more with reference to him or his expressions. He (Mr. Newdegate) had been referring to the different circumstances under which the Property Tax had been imposed in 1842, and those under which it was at present continued; then there was a deficiency, now there is none. The relaxation of duties had then been carried contemporaneously with, but apart, and separate from, the Property Tax; but now the relaxation of duties was proposed to be the consequence of, and by means of that measure. He did not complain of the Property Tax; he approved of it. He trusted that it was an indication of a novel, a more direct, and a more equable system of taxation. But he did complain that in the financial measures which were now proposed, indirect benefit alone was held out to the great interest which was now depressed; whilst actual and direct benefits were to be granted to interests that were now prosperous. Of late, ultra free-trade doctrines appeared to have gained possession of the House; but the speech of the right hon. Baronet, he must say, was in a different and more sober tone than those they had lately heard. Lately, the hon. Member for Stockport, as high priest of the ultra free-trade theory, had led the strain, whilst the occupants of the Treasury Bench and the hon. Gentlemen opposite had chanted the responses; and how was this all-powerful theory supported?—for every theory must, after all, stand upon its own merits, and be judged of by the power of the arguments which support it. How, he would ask, had this mighty theory been supported? Why, the noble Lord the Member for London, with much approbation from the opposite side, declared that "protection was the bane of agriculture." That was a fine round saying to enunciate; and in support of it the noble Lord's argument simply came to this—that because, since 1815, agriculture had been frequently depressed, whilst during that period it had been protected, that then protection had been the cause of its depression. He confessed, that after some thought, he could not make out the connexion between the assumed cause and effect. But he did wonder that the establishment of another system, dating also from 1815, had not occurred to the noble Lord—he meant the present monetary system. [Cheers] Aye, hon. Members opposite might cheer, and he understood their cheers; but he had expressed a sincere opinion; he did believe that our fluctuating, and at the same time restrictive monetary system, had depressed agriculture, and, though not in the same decree, the other productive interests of the country. The agricultural prosperity of Ireland and Scotland had been quoted by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department. Now a different monetary sys tem obtained in those two countries, particularly in the latter. They were equally protected with this country; but if fluctuations and agricultural depressions have been more frequent in this country than in them, is it not probable that the monetary system has more to do with the evils of agriculture in this country than protection could have? Then, again, the hon. Member for Stockport had put forth this as incontrovertible—a most extraordinary statement with reference to the protection given to Colonial sugar—that because an import duty of ten guineas was imposed upon each ton of Foreign sugar consumed, being 20,000 tons annually, that therefore this duty made a difference in price of ten guineas a ton upon each ton of sugar from the Colonies, being 230,000 tons, and thus levied a tax of more than 2,000,000l. upon the consumers of this country. This was loudly applauded by the noble Member for Sunderland; but the very next week the hon. Member for Stockport had answered his own question, and completely refuted his own assumption and proved its fallacy by what he had stated with reference to the Dantzic corn market; for he said that the low price of corn there in the years immediately previous to 1838, was owing to ths want of demand for it in this country, and that when demand sprung up in 1838, the price immediately rose, and proved that its low price had been a nominal price. Now, if we admitted Foreign sugar, would not the same effect ensue? Was it not clear that the price of the 20,000 tons of sugar subject to ten guineas duty, was in the same circumstances as the corn of Dantzic in 1835, 1836, and 1837, owing to the duty, and that its present price was also nominal? That if it (sugar) were imported into this country free of duty, its price would rise in Brazil, owing to the demand for it; that its being lower there is nominal; and that the difference to our consumers is not therefore attributable to, or measured by the duty. Why, these were but natural effects of supply and demand; yet in violation of them fallacies such as these seemed popular in that House. He (Mr. Newdegate) would not follow the right hon. Baronet into all the details into which he had gone in answer to the Motion of the hon. Member for Somersetshire. The right hon. Baronet had failed to convince him that relief, were it but small, should not be granted to agriculture in its present state, were this but as an assurance of future relief, in case that were needed; but he felt bound to say, that, he had heard with great satisfaction the statement of the right hon. Baronet with reference to his being willing to grant the drawback on malt for cattle, the Drainage and Inclosure Bills, and that the latter had been referred for consideration to the hon. Secretary for the Woods and Forests. He wished that the speech of the right hon. Baronet had been made earlier in the Session—that its tone had characterized those of his Colleagues, particularly the language of the right hon. Baronet, when he introduced his financial measures for this year. He trusted that the right hon. Baronet would realise the hopes among the farmers, who now distrusted the Government, which his speech would raise; that he would prove to them that at least one Member of the Government understood their difficulties, and cared for their interests. Nevertheless he had not been convinced by the right hon. Baronet; he thought the proposition of the hon. Member for Somersetshire ought to be granted, and he should support it.

Lord J. Russell

observed, that the hon. Member who had just sat down had alluded to an expression that had been made use of by him. The expression that he had made use of at the commencement of the Session was this — that protection was the bane of agriculture. If that expression required any justification—if it required any proof of its justice—that proof had been afforded by that which had passed that night. The hon. Gentleman who had brought forward this Motion stated various instances in which protection had been broken in upon. He went through different measures which had been passed by the present Government—he directed their attention to the Tariff in 1842, and to the Canada Corn Bill in 1843, and yet, having done this, the hon. Member did not venture to propose that any of these laws should be repealed; but there he left these questions, and having stated these evils, he merely proposed that 275,000l. should be taken off the county rates, and that they should be paid by the public in general. He was then followed (after the Seconder to the Motion had spoken) in a speech by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department; which speech the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken said, was highly consolatory to the agricultural interest, and must have a beneficial effect on the country. What, then, might he ask, was there of so consolatory a nature in the speech of the right hon. Baronet? Was it proposed to restore protection to its former high rate? Was it proposed to give additional protection, so as to prevent an influx of cattle from the Continent, or of corn from Canada? What had the right hon. Baronet said? That the Legislature ought to progress in the facilities it afforded to foreign trade. The right hon. Gentleman said that if they wished to know whether a good price could be obtained for their agricultural produce, they must inquire what was the state of Liverpool and Manchester—what was the state of the manufacturing districts in England and in Scotland; and if they were in a flourishing state, then they might expect that agriculture would be flourishing also, and that their gains would be proportionate to the prosperity of those districts. Was that encouraging agriculturists to rely on protection? Was it not the reverse—was it not showing them that they could have no protection so beneficial, or so advantageous to them as the prosperity of the manufacturing districts? But the right hon. Gentleman did not content himself with this declaration of his opinion; he quoted instances to show that want of protection had been beneficial; he referred to the article of wool—he showed that the free importation of foreign wool had occasioned a rise in the price of wool—he pointed to the consequences of a free trade in wool. If there was any one thing which could show that protection was the bane of agriculture—to prove that it was injurious to agriculture—it was to be found in a speech which had been made the other night; a speech which was not answered; a speech which he did not believe could be answered; a speech which showed the manner in which protection had been injurious to agriculture—he meant the powerful and admirable speech of the hon. Member for Stockport. That speech showed that when articles were protected as the produce of agriculture had been protested, the consequence of such legislation had been, that whilst the protection appeared to be favourable to particular classes—whilst it seemed to give them advantages greater than were possessed by other classes of the community—and whilst, in consequence, it exposed them to odium and to envy, it at the same time tended to make men slovenly and inert in that protected trade or occupation; it also induced them to rely upon the acts of the Legislature to secure them a protected price, instead of looking for their profit and their reward to their own energies. He said that, considering this, and that if there ever was a country distinguished for great energy, great intelligence, and at the same time for great abundance of capital ready to be employed in every enterprise that required energy and capital, this was the country. Considering these things, he then said to them, let them rely upon their energy upon their enterprise, and upon their ca- pital—let them look to these as the sources of their prosperity, and not rely on such a broken reed as legislative protection. He said, too, that with regard to many articles for which in former days the manufacturers sought protection by legislative means, he was happy now to see by their success in foreign countries that they had no need of protection. With regard to some manufactures there might be the appearance of success, from the restriction in the supply, and the monopoly secured to them. Some of them might be articles of which no great quantity was consumed, and that were not absolutely necessary to the community. One article had been made a monopoly of in one country, and another in another country. Spices and silk were articles of this description. Now the world could live very well without spices, and persons could well supply themselves with other raiment than what was composed of silk. There was no absolute want of these articles. By limiting the supply of them, they could make such articles always bear a high price. They could at all times proportion the supply to the demand. The Legislature could thus by protection give an advantage to a particular class. The agricultural class could, however, have no such advantage. They might give them a protection, and as long as food was cheap the people would not care whether that protection was 40s. or 50s.; but immediately upon their having to pay a high price for food, there would be so much discontent that the system would break down. It had been found so ever since 1815. In 1815 he was a Member of that House, although he did not take part in the debates on this subject; but he remembered farmers saying that a less price than 80s. would not be remunerative; that it would be impossible for them to live and carry on cultivation at a less price than 80s. The law to give them that price failed. It was impossible for the Legislature, having any regard to the peace of the country, to keep corn up to so high a price as 80s. The protection had then to be relaxed. A new law was passed, when it was found that too high a price was required. The law of 1828 was next passed; after a certain time complaints were made of that law likewise. He proposed in 1839 to alter the law. He declared at that time that he considered a moderate fixed duty ought to be substituted. Such was the relaxation of protection he was then favourable to. Those who were in opposition to the Government said that protection was not too high at that time; that it ought to be maintained, and they also said that they did not think that the law of 1828 should be thrown into the lottery of legislation; and that even if the then Government came forward as an united government, they would oppose any such alteration. A change in the Government took place; those who had opposed any alteration in protection, those who were against any relaxation of that law, came into office, and what had they now heard from the hon. Gentleman opposite? — That ever since that time there had been a gradual breaking down of protection. That it had been broken down in 1842—that it had then been broken in upon by the Tariff, and that then came the Canada Corn Bill of 1843. Thus, then, it was as he had told them. Though they might be told of protection, and of its being secured to them, it would be found to be indirectly abandoned; though there might in theory be protection, yet when they came to force eighteen millions of people to procure their corn at a high price, it would be found that the discontent would be such, the danger would be such, that every prudent government, and every wise government, looking to their population, and to its increase, would see whether it could be safe to leave the law as it was; they would look to see whether corn could not be procured from some colony, or whether corn could not be brought from some foreign country through that colony—they would look to see whether the rigour of that law might not be made more tolerable, and be less in effect than it was in appearance. Then it might be said, that after all this protection, though it was not kept so high as they had hoped it to be—though the Ministers they had brought into power for the sake of that protection did not keep it so high as they desired, they still might ask, what mischief attended it? If it did benefit the agriculturists—if it did not do them the good they expected from it, they then came back to the argument which had been used so irresistibly—that the Legislature keeping up a price nominally, which was not maintained in fact, gave false hopes to the farmers, and induced them to place reliance on the law instead of looking to their own exertions. They induced the farmers to neglect the means they ought to employ for their own prosperity—such as economy, activity, improved science—they induced the farmer to think that his landlord would only have to go to Parliament, and then, whatever might be his manner of cultivation, however his land might be neglected, however slovenly or careless might be his mode of working the land, still his landlord and the Legislature would secure a remunerative price to him, and he would be sure of being able to pay all his rent and taxes. The agriculturists who so trusted were doomed to disappointment; and this fact, he thought, showed that protection, as he had stated at the commencement of the Session, was the bane of agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had said, that he (Lord John Russell) seemed, on this subject, to oscillate between the two sides of the House, and that though he had said that "protection was the bane of agriculture," he was not prepared to carry that principle into effect. He said, as to that point, that though he might be utterly mistaken, still there were two ways of doing away with protection; the one was of doing it away suddenly—the other, of doing it cautiously and gradually. Though he might in his opinion be mistaken, when he, following in the path of great men who had written on this subject, and spoken on it in Parliament, and though he might be mistaken as to the means, still he had no doubt that it was the end at which they ought to aim. Protection ought to be done away with, and especially so as regarded agriculture. Such was the opinion of Mr. Ricardo, who might, perhaps, be regarded more as a theoretical writer than as a practical statesman. But, perhaps, he might be allowed to make a quotation from another authority, whose name he would tell the House after he had read his statement, and whose words were so much better than any he could use. They were these:— The only beneficial care that a Government can take of commerce is to afford it general protection in time of war, to remove by treaties the restrictions of Foreign Governments in time of peace, and cautiously to abstain from any, however plausible, of its own creating. If every law of regulation, either of our internal or external trade, were repealed, with the exception of those necessary for the collection of revenue, it would be an undoubted benefit to commerce, as well as to the community at large. An avowed system of allowing things to take their own course, and of not listening to the interested solicitations of one class or another for relief, whenever the imprudence of speculation has occasioned losses, would, sooner than any artificial remedy, reproduce that equilibrium of demand and supply which the ardour of gain will frequently derange; but which the same cause, when let alone, will as infallibly restore. Whenever the assistance of Government is called for by any class of traders or manufacturers, it is usual to make the most splendid display of the importance of that particular branch to the nation at large. The East and West India interests, the shipowners, the manufacturers, the American merchants, have all the means of making these brilliant representations; but it should be recollected that the interest of the State consists in the prosperity of the whole; that it is contrary to sound policy to advance one beyond its natural means, and still more to do so at the expense of others; and that the only mode of ascertaining the natural limits of each is to leave them all alone. Such was the opinion given a great many years ago by Mr. Alexander Baring, the present Lord Ashburton. He thought they were marked by the sagacity, by the knowledge, and the distinguished talent which the noble Lord possessed. This, then, was his opinion as to commerce in general; and therefore he could not think that the farmers would gain by the Legislature doing that which many farmers wished them to do, which was, as he understood, to repeal the Canada Corn Bill, and to alter the Tariff, so as to impose the highest duty on foreign cattle, or in any way going back to their high protecting duties. The present Government did not hold out the hope of doing this; but there was one thing which they would do, and that they were bound to do, and that was to hold out no delusive hope that protection could afford relief to the agriculturists. They had seen that there had been meetings this year, in various places, of agriculturists, and in the Reports of these meetings there were complaints of the present state of agriculture, and a request for further protection. He thought that if they did give the farmers further protection, they would only offer to them that which would prove to be a "delusion and a snare." They ought to tell the farmers that their best reliance was on their own industry and their own skill; that the entire course of Parliament would be to diminish protection and not to increase it. Such, he said, was the language that ought to be held, and such, he said, the course that ought to be pursued. The hon. Gentleman who spoke in that quarter (the Ministerial side of the House) told them how much he regretted the course that he had pursued in 1842—as to the Corn Law then established. He had voted against the second reading of that Bill, and it was carried by a large majority, consisting principally of those representing the agricultural counties. Then, he said, if they had not voted for it, they would not now have that and the other measures which they had supported; and their complaints would not now be heard as to the Canada Corn Bill and the Tariff. As to the Tariff, he could not think that any importation of Foreign cattle which had happened, or that was likely to happen, could be injurious at all to good graziers, if the right means were adopted by them for competing with the growers or feeders of foreign cattle. As to the Canada Corn Bill, again he must observe that he had objected to that Bill, but upon different grounds from hon. Gentlemen opposite; for he thought it would be establishing a Corn Bill in Canada, and that the protection in favour of Canada might afterwards be troublesome, in case of making the trade in corn free from restriction. His right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton had placed his opposition to that measure on distinct and different views; but he was not supported by the agricultural interest. They gave on that question such a support to the Government as enabled it to carry the measure. When the Bill went further, he was not prepared to offer it any opposition; but it was evidently within the power of those who represented the agricultural interest to put a stop to the Bill. Let not the agricultural Members then say, that they had been ill used by the Government. They themselves had assisted the Government. They had been the means of enabling the Government to carry on the same policy of giving greater freedom to trade, and of taking away some restrictions. Now, he said, what they ought to do was this—they should tell the farmers what they had done; they should tell them that this was good policy; that in supporting it they acted like honest men, and were ready to stand by it. That was what they ought to do, and not, in that House, support the Minister, and then go down to the country and attack him for his free-trade principles. Such was his view of the general conduct that they ought to pursue. What, then, had he to say as to the particular Motion before the House? The particular Motion was, that in a remission of duties, the agricultural interest ought to be considered. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State had answered that. As to the particulars which the right hon Gentleman had stated, he took, for instance, the poor rates and the tithe commutation. The poor rates, it had been shown by the right hon. Gentleman, were now about a million a year less than before the New Poor Law Bill had passed. With regard to tithes, let them recollect the position in which the agriculturists were placed compared to that in which they had stood. This was a country in which the population was increasing every year—in which, too, manufactures and commerce were also increasing. What, then, was the consequence? That every year there must be a greater demand for food, and a greater supply required to meet the wants of the manufacturers. What, then, was the advantage to them for the improvement of their lands? They might buy the most expensive manures; they might raise larger crops; they might increase the produce by eight, ten, and twelve bushels an acre beyond the former growth, and yet not one sixpence more tithe was to be paid by the occupier than they had to pay before. In this respect the agriculturists had much greater advantages than before. He took it, then, that the agriculturists of this country, considering the new manner of tillage they might employ, and the improvements in agriculture, that the farmers were great gainers compared with what had been their situation many years ago. He really wished that the farmers could be brought to consider all these matters, and see how much more important they were than those measures which had been brought under immediate notice by the Motion of the hon. Member for Somersetshire. As to the question of prosecutions, and whether a part of the expenses ought to be differently paid, that might be taken into consideration if a different system of prosecuting offences were adopted. If the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Home Department appointed a public prosecutor, a different arrangement might be made. That, however, was a different question from benefiting agriculture, to which their attention had been directed. His answer to the hon. Gentleman who proposed a diminution of burdens was this, that if the agriculturists come on the farmers with a large schemex2014;if they said that there should be no more duly on corn and agricultural produce—if they were then to place it as a raw material, as the food of the people, as the raw material by which the population were maintained—if they proposed to place themselves on the same footing with the rest of the comunity—if they no longer sought for peculiar favour—if they said there should be no more restriction and no more monopoly, by duties imposed upon foreign produce, and then asked them to look at the peculiar burdens which agriculturists had to bear, and an examination into which they would no doubt support when it was proposed by the hon. Member for Sheffield, and then showed that these burdens prevented them from employing a greater number of labourers—then he believed, in that case, the greatest free trader, and the most determined abolitionists in that House, would be as willing to regard their claims with favour, as the largest landed proprietor in that House. But they could hardly expect this important view of the question to be taken while this state of doubt and excitement was hanging over the landed interest and the country. What he would say was this—that as the question now stood, with a large majority of the House of Lords and a considerable majority of the House of Commons, composed of persons interested in land and anxious for the maintenance of that protection which they believed to be favourable to their interest, but which was looked upon by others as a protection and a favour given to them at the expense of the rest of the community, the landed interest was placed in a most ungracious position. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward the present Motion had gone through various statements and figures to prove the diminution in the price of meat. The hon. Gentleman had shown that meat had declined in price sixpence or sevenpence a stone since the Tariff of 1842, and that corn had also fallen in price since the same period; and the hon. Gentleman had gone on to say that this decline of price in the main articles of subsistence were evils which required the interposition of the Legislature to remedy. Now this line of argument, if followed out, must come to this—that it was an evil for the man who went to buy his two or three pounds of meat for the Sunday dinner of himself, his wife, and his children, to be enabled to save twopence or threepence in the price; and that it was also an evil that he could save fourpence or fivepence a week in the cost of the number of loaves of bread he and his family might require to consume; and see how ungracious it was for hon. Gentlemen connected with the agricultural interest to come forward with this kind of complaint, and state it as an evil which it required legislative interference to remove. If agriculture had no special protection, and the prices of agricultural produce were high, it might be fair to say here is a happy state of the country;—here, supposing it were so, have commerce and manufactures flourrished so much, that there is a rise in the price of meat, and corn is also rising in the market, this high price showing the improved condition of the people, and their increased command of the necessaries and comforts of life—that, no doubt, would be a subject of rejoicing: and they might expect that it would be followed by a better system of agriculture, the cultivation of lands not now cultivated, and increased production; and if the greater produce which would thus be brought to the market was followed by a still further rise of prices as consumers and manufacturers increased in prosperity—that would, indeed, be a happy state of things; but to come to Parliament, and say, look at the law; it is not sufficiently stringent, because it has not prevented people paying sixpence a stone less for their meat that we think they ought to pay; nor has it prevented their buying corn at some shillings a quarter less than we say the price ought to be; that was a complaint which must tend to make the landed interest, the great landed aristocracy of this country, which he as much as anybody had a right to respect — [Colonel Sibthorp; Hear, hear]—such a complaint, he said, must tend to place that interest before the country in a most odious position. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Sibthorp), by his cheer, rendered it necessary for him to make some allu- sion to matters which he should not otherwise have referred to. It was no doubt the fact that he (Lord John Russell) was closely connected with persons who took great interest in the progress of agriculture. His uncle and his father had delighted as much as any men to witness the improvement of agriculture, and had done all they could to bring the farmers together with the view to the adoption of improved modes of cultivation; therefore he should be the last man to wish for any unnatural or unfair depression of the agricultural interest. But if they desired to promote the good of agriculture—if they wished the landed interest to continue to hold the high title to the respect of the country it had won for itself in former days, and which it ought to possess now—they should not seek that object by Motions like the present, but make a just and a fair arrangement between all parties, and that while all England should see that the landed interest was the most powerful, it was at the same time the most generous class of the community.

Mr. Escott

considered these discussions as skirmishes between the Anti-Corn Law League and the Protection Society. With respect to both these bodies, he had nothing to say against them so long as they did not endeavour to compel him to join their ranks; for he did not believe the Anti-Corn Law League would be able, in the present state of the country, materially to depress the interests of trade, or that the Protection Societies would have weight enough to depress the interests of agriculture, on which no doubt they did press as a considerable incubus. One great reason for bringing forward the present Motion was the dissatisfaction of the farmers with their Representatives in this House, and he had heard sufficient reasons given for that dissatisfaction. There were two kinds of meetings at which farmers were accustomed to look for information on these matters to their natural leaders—one, those dinners which took place during the recess, in which persons engaged in agriculture congregated together convivially and socially to discuss matters affecting their own interests. He remembered the time when those meetings assumed rather an alarming character, and when it was thought proper to pass a sort of by-law to prevent the discussion of political and public questions. In the course of the last autumn he attended two or three of these meetings, at which there were present men who had been Members for counties, men who were Members for counties, and men who looked forward to counties again; but the rule which had been established prevented them from discussing this subject. But they could not keep down public questions; that which was in the mind would find some utterance in words, and so they spoke and said enough of politics to show the farmers that they knew very little of such matters: and then they talked of agriculture, of which they very soon proved to the farmers that they knew nothing at all. Now that had been one cause of dissatisfaction. Allusion had been made to a debate which had taken place in the course of the last week. He had begun by saying that he should not discuss the question of the Corn Laws upon that occasion; and he should adhere to his promise. But this he should say—and he wished the farmers to know it—that although no attack, however able it might be, could, in his opinion, put down a great principle or a great interest; yet no principle and no interest could stand such a defence as had been made the other evening against the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden). But then there was this House; and what had been the conduct, upon the present occasion, of those who professed themselves to be the farmers' friends? His hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire had interspersed his statement of facts with a sufficient announcement of principles, to leave it quite plain and palpable that he had a clear opinion as to the cause of the existing distress; and his hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire had stated that he could point out the cause of that distress. The Agricultural Protection Society had sent out handbills and pamphlets, in which they stated their opinion upon the same subject and to the same effect. But his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire, and his hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire, did what in them lay to perpetuate the distress in question, if they and the Agricultural Protection Society were right, as to its origin; for, according to them, it was caused by the present Corn Law and the Tariff. It was their effect, growth, and offspring. But what did his hon. Friends do in that House? Why, they came down, and told them to stick by the Corn Law and to stick by the Tariff, or in other words not in anywise to alter the existing protection to British agriculture. For that protection was the protection given by the Corn Law of 1842 and by the Tariff of 1842—the very things which, according to his hon. Friends, had been the cause of the existing distress. He should like to know what the farmers would think of their protecting friends in that House, when they found them stating in one breath that the existing Corn Law was the cause of the distress, and in the other breath telling the House to perpetuate that law which had thus caused the distress [Mr. G. Bankes: No, no]. His hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire said "No" to that statement. But did not his hon. Friend and his Protection Society call on the farmers to support the existing Corn Law, by which he had told the farmers that their distress had been occasioned? The real truth was that farmers, and the labourers, too, had a much deeper and a closer intuition into these things than some of those by whom they were represented gave them credit for. They knew that farming could only prosper in the general prosperity of the country. They knew that any attempt to prop up agriculture at the expense of the community at large would tend to the destruction of those who lived by the labour of their hands upon land. They recollected what had been the state of the country in the year 1841, and the dreadful tales of ruin and distress which had been laid before that House night after night by the Representatives of the great commercial towns. He had lately heard an unexceptionable witness on this point; while sitting on a Committee of that House, he had received the most satisfactory accounts of the improved condition of the working people in the northern districts from a relieving officer of the Manchester Union. That gentleman had confirmed all those statements of previous distress which he had formerly heard in that House; but he had also assured him that he had never known the labouring population to be in fuller employment or to enjoy a greater command of the comforts of life than at the moment at which he had been speaking. That was surely a topic of congratulation, not only for the poor of those districts—not only for the manufacturers, but for the agricultural classes in this country. He had never met with an honest and intelligent labouring man who did not admit that his own pros- perity and comfort were involved in and intimately connected with the prosperity of his master's business. The farmers, too, had the power of penetrating the fallacies of false friends. He was aware that there were hon. Members sitting near him who could not bear anything like a free expression of opinion. They must be tolerant for a moment; and if they could not move onwards with the stream of events, they must allow him to do so, and to state his opinions, though he might expose theirs. He should not support the proposals of Her Majesty's Government, or oppose the Motion of his hon. Friend, did he not believe that the Budget of 1842, and the Budget of 1845, were the commencements of a great series of financial experiments—of a new system of taxation—of a new plan for encouraging trade, commerce, manufactures, and agriculture—and, in short, of a new means of promoting industry, which, when it was fully carried into effect, would benefit all classes of the people—would raise the value of property and of labour—and would tend to the maintenance of English peace and English liberty, and of that constitution under which they had been born and which they professed to value. He believed that the day would come when it would be admitted that that House of Commons had conferred substantial benefits upon the people, and when due honour would be paid to them for having commenced a system of taxation by which the richer classes would pay for the purpose of maintaining the national credit, and of reducing other more onerous burdens of the people, resuscitating the drooping energies of trade and commerce, and opening the way for a new era of extended glory, founded on the dominion of increased knowledge and the empire of the arts of peace.

Lord Worsley

said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down stated that he was a constituent of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, who had brought forward that Motion; and he had added that he regretted that the hon. Gentleman should be deluding the public by introducing such a Motion. But the hon. Gentleman the Member for Winchester had not stated that he represented the opinions of the constituents of the hon. Member for Somersetshire better than the hon. Member himself. Now he believed that the hon. Member for Somersetshire fairly represented on that occasion the opinions of the agricultural body of the district with which he was connected. The hon. Member for Winchester seemed to think that those who had recommended the farmers to petition that House for a continuance of the present protection to agriculture, had given them bad advice. He did not know that such advice had been given by the Agricultural Protection Society; but he believed that that advice was good in itself, and that, he thought, was also the opinion of the farmers. He believed that the general feeling among the farmers was that the present amount of protection should be continued, not because they were satisfied with that amount, but as they felt that they had been deceived in 1842, they were apprehensive that if they did not speak out now, the present protection would soon be diminished. He was not surprised that that was the state of feeling among the farmers. He recollected that his noble Friend the Earl of March, who had that evening seconded the Motion, had been the Mover of the Address in the year 1842; and he also recollected that the right hon. Baronet had stated what he considered would be a remunerating price to the farmer. The right hon. Baronet had no doubt qualified his statement upon that subject; but the general impression among the farmers was that, by the new law, prices would be maintained at between 54s. and 58s. a quarter. It was not surprising that, after the farmers had found themselves disappointed in their expectations, the hon. Member for Somersetshire should feel it advisable to bring forward his Motion of that evening. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwickshire seemed to think that the farmers would be well pleased with what had fallen on that occasion from the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department. It appeared from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, that in his opinion there was comparative prosperity in the agricultural districts in Ireland, in Scotland, and in the north of England. But he believed that great misapprehension prevailed upon that point. He believed that the fact was that the farmers in the north of England had larger capitals, and were therefore better able to pay their rents and maintain their labourers, than the farmers in the south. There seemed to be an impression in that House that the present was only the beginning of agricultural distress. Now he believed that that distress had not begun during the present season, but that it had been going on increasing during the last two or three years; and now it was showing itself in such a way that the farmers were beginning to speak out. The farmers were, no doubt, deeply mortified at the course pursued by the present Government. He had the other night refused to go into Committee, because he thought that by so doing they would be deluding the farmers; but he saw nothing in the present Motion which was calculated to produce such a result. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had stated that the Canada Corn Bill had operated favourably by preventing undue speculation at a particular season of the year. But if the Canada Corn Bill were a beneficial measure for the agriculturists, it was surprising that it had not been brought forward in the year 1842, at the time when the New Corn Law had been introduced. The Canada Corn Bill was an after thought, and the same thing might be said of the new Tariff. Was it surprising, then, that after the farmers had formerly seen change after change effected, they should now be apprehensive that some further change was contemplated? This much he would say, that if those Members who had been returned by agricultural constituents at the last election, on the same understanding as the noble Lord the Member for Sussex, refused to vote in favour of the present Motion, their constituents would be grievously disappointed, for they would think that in the opinion of their Representatives their distress was not such as to merit the attention of the House.

Mr. Disraeli

When I ineffectually attempted, Sir, to catch your eye, after the conclusion of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for London, I would then have presumed to offer some considerations to the House on the question respecting protection to native industry, which that noble Lord mooted; but such considerations I cannot presume to offer at the present hour of the night; and therefore, I am afraid, I must restrict myself to that principle of discussion laid down by my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester, and confine myself strictly to the Motion before the House. But, watching, as we all must, with great interest, the formation of the character of an individual so eminent as the noble Lord, who has been, as he informed us to-night, thirty years in this House, but appears not yet to have arrived at a result on the great question which now interests the country, I, who would not presume to place my opinions, formed on much more recent experience than those of the noble Lord, against his, may yet be permitted to say that, after all, one truth, I think, is perhaps evident from these discussions—that protection is not a principle, but an expedient. If it be the latter, it must depend on circumstances, and, if it depend on circumstances, the matter cannot be settled by those quotations of abstract dogmas which have been cited by the noble Lord. However, we shall all have ample opportunity to discuss this great question, which is now the question of the age and of the country. By our speeches or by our votes, either in this House or at the hustings, sooner or later, we must come to the test on this great question, "Will you have protection or will you have, not free trade, for that is not the alternative, but free imports?" I cannot, forget the speech recently delivered by the hon. Member for Stockport. That, indeed, is not easily to be forgotten by any one who listened to it. I will not therefore say, that there is much more to be said on both sides of this question than we have yet been favoured with; but I will say, with the greatest respect to those hon. Gentlemen whom I see near me, that I do believe that there is much more to be said on one side of the question than has yet been offered to the House. I shall not presume, however, to enter into the question at present. If, indeed, I held the position of some who, at such an hour as this might rise, but who, however anxiously expected, yet do not favour us with their observations, I might venture to enter a field so vast; but I may be permitted to say, that before we come to settle this great question, we must grapple with the important point of waging war against hostile tariffs. We must ascertain how far free imports would affect wages and prices in this country; how far these again would operate on the distribution of the precious metals; and how far the distribution of the precious metals would affect your power of maintaining your standard of value. I am not offering these observations in a controversial tone to the House; but am merely indicating that before we come to that question, which must be settled, there are great considerations which must be entered into in an unimpassioned, and, I trust, in a searching manner. But I now come to the question before the House—the question which the hon. Member for Winchester, who advocated with such fervour and ability, his opposition to this Motion, wishes the present discussion to be narrowed to. I will meet him on the ground he has chosen. We have a Motion the terms of which are familiar to every Gentleman present—it is, to take into consideration in the distribution of the surplus revenue the claims of the agricultural interest. This is not a new Motion. It has been introduced to this House before, when hon. Gentlemen now on this (the Ministerial) side of the House were in opposition. Under identical circumstances a similar Motion was then proposed. What took place under those circumstances ought to be some guide to us as to the result of the present Motion. The Motion brought forward at the time I am referring to, was the Motion not of a triumphant but of a powerful Opposition—an Opposition distinguished by the quality of cohesion. In 1836, a powerful Opposition, wishing to try a fall, with, I will not say a feeble, but at any rate a not confident Government, selected this Motion as a point of battle on which contending parties might try their force. The Motion was proposed by a noble Friend of mine, who is now a Member of the other House—the noble Lord the then Member for Buckinghamshire: and after a discussion, not of very great length, a division took place, which did not shake the Government to the centre but made it tremble. In 1836 the majority was not much above thirty in favour of the Administration on a vital question. The Motions were identical; I believe the phraseology of the Resolution of 1836 was identical with the present; and I should suppose, therefore, that the hon. Member for Somersetshire must have reckoned, in bringing forward a Resolution which, on a previous occasion, had united together a great number of supporters, many with distinguished names, on a successful issue to his proposition to-night. I cannot doubt that the hon. Member for Somersetshire, looking to the list embalmed in those records to which we all appeal, and reading the names of those who voted in 1836 with my noble Friend, must not only have anticipated equal, but even greater success, for this is a Conservative House of Commons, and the other was a Whig House of Commons. The hon. Member must have reckoned on receiving a commanding support in bringing forward this Motion. There is the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Sir T. Fremantle),—he voted under similar circumstances for an identical Motion. I know the right hon. Gentleman too well for a moment to doubt that he will vote the same way to-night. At the time to which I am alluding, 1836, there was a Budget, and there was a surplus, and the agricultural interest came forward and said, "Are we not to be considered?" The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland thought that they ought to be considered; and I am not at all surprised at it, as he has always been a friend to agriculture. I remember having had the honour of meeting the right hon. Gentleman in the presence of his constituents. I cannot forget the occurrence, because the president of the meeting happened to be the noble individual who brought forward this very Resolution in 1836; and I remember the speech which the right hon. Gentleman then made. Those were "dreary moments" — days of opposition, when there was no chance of getting into power unless you were borne forward by an agricultural cry. I know the feelings of the constituency of Buckingham. They were satisfied, and justly so, with so accomplished a representative; they were satisfied with his sympathy in opposition; and they knew when he got into power they would have a friend on whom they could count. I should like to know whether, if the constituency of Buckingham had been told that a Resolution would be brought forward, at a later period than 1836, similar in its nature to the Motion of 1836, and that then their Representative, being then a Minister, would be found to vote against it, they would have believed such a tale? Of course they would not; and of course the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland would not vote against this Motion to-night. The noble individual (the Duke of Buckingham) who presided at the dinner to which I have referred, could not, I am sure, suppose for one moment that the right hon. Gentleman would vote against the Motion, for that noble individual, finding that the policy of the Government was contrary to that policy which he had advocated in opposition, quitted office. Therefore I think we may count on the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland supporting this Motion to-night. I do not think that we need despair of the support of the Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Sir G. Clerk), for he also supported a similar Motion under similar circumstances. In 1836, there being a Budget and a surplus, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford conceived that the agricultural interest, of which he was the champion, had a right to be considered. No doubt, he too will now vote in favour of the present Motion. There is also a noble Lord the Member for a division in Nottinghamshire (Lord Lincoln), no less a person, indeed, than a Member of the Cabinet. He was also of opinion in opposition, and at that time, that if there were a surplus the agricultural interest should be considered. If the noble Lord was of that opinion when in opposition, of course, now that he is a Member of the Government—a Government brought into existence by the agricultural interest—he will divide in favour of the present Motion. I believe I might pick up a few Lords of the Treasury; but I will let them pass; I must not omit, however, the gallant Officer the Clerk of the Ordnance (Captain Boldero), the Member for Chippenham, a district so distinguished for its agricultural feeling. All these Gentlemen the hon. Member for Somersetshite surely counted on when he entered the House to-night. It is, however, but just to state (and I am sure that all the agricultural constituencies from Buckingham to Chippenham will feel doubly grateful for it, when they read the division list to-morrow and find that their Representatives were present); it is, I repeat, but right to state that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was, on the occasion I have referred to, of a different opinion from those other hon. Gentlemen whom I have mentioned. He acted in a different manner with respect to that Motion; on the division he went into the Whig lobby alone of all his party, whom he left united in favour of the Motion. The right hon. Baronet did behave throughout in the most handsome manner. He expressed no annoyance at the indiscreet effort of his party, which had almost made him a Minister; he did not give them a lecture; he did not say, notwithstanding that they went into a different division-lobby from their leader, they had broken out into open rebellion. The right hon. Baronet preserved his consistency, and kept on the very best terms with his party. That being the state of the case, I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will vote against the Motion to-night; following the precedent of that time he will treat his immediate supporters with the same affability as he did before. These are facts. We may quote Hansard by the line to prove them. They are facts so notorious, and so fresh in the memory of every Gentleman, that it is unnecessary to repeat them. This is sticking to the question, as the hon. Member for Winchester requires. I entirely differ from my agricultural Friends around me, though I make these observations, in their view of the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman; nothing is more easy, when your constituents are dissatisfied, than yourselves to grumble against the right hon. Gentleman. I believe the right hon. Gentleman has done more for agriculture than any Minister or Government has done for any quarter of a century. That is my calm, deliberate opinion; and placed as I am in momentary collision with the Treasury Bench, I am bound to make this admission. ["Hear! hear!"] "Hear! hear!" as the hon. Member says; I am sincerely prepared to maintain that cheer. Why, what has the right hon. Gentleman not done for agriculture? Before the meeting of Parliament, the right hon. Gentleman reconstructed his Cabinet, and left out the Minister of Trade. There was a great compliment to agriculture! It was the most marked thing I know. The agriculturists, then, ought to be satisfied. And yet they complain. They complain of the Corn Law which they supported; they accuse the Tariff, which was passed at all events with their connivance; they inveigh against the Canada Corn Bill, which, I beg to tell the noble Member for London, I did not vote for: they complain of all this. Yet how unreasonable! Can they forget that the right hon. Gentleman has expelled from the Cabinet, the Minister of Commerce, and so made a decided demonstration in favour of agriculture, for which agriculturists should ever be grateful? What do they want? Not this tax to be taken off, or this act to be done. No, they complain of the "conduct" of the right hon. Gentleman. There is no doubt a difference in the right hon. Gentleman's demeanour as leader of the Opposition and as Minister of the Crown. But that's the old story: you must not contrast too strongly the hours of courtship with the years of possession. 'Tis very true that the right hon. Gentleman's conduct is different. I remember him making his protection speeches. They were the best speeches I ever heard. It was a great thing to hear the right hon. Gentleman say, "I would sooner be the leader of the Gentlemen of England than possess the confidence of Sovereigns." That was a grand thing. We don't hear much of "the Gentlemen of England" now. But what of that? They have the pleasures of memory—the charms of reminiscences. They were his first love, and though he may not kneel to them now as in the hour of passion, still they can recall the past; and nothing is more useless and unwise than these scenes of crimination and reproach, for we know that in all these cases, when the beloved object has ceased to charm, it is in vain to appeal to the feelings. You know that this is true. Every man almost has gone through it. My hon. Friends reproach the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman does what he can to keep them quiet; he sometimes takes refuge in arrogant silence, and sometimes he treats them with haughty frigidity; and if they knew anything of human nature they would take the hint and shut their mouths. But they won't. And what then happens? What happens under all such circumstances? The right hon. Gentleman being compelled to interfere, sends down his valet, who says in the genteelest manner, "We can have no whining here." And that, Sir, is exactly the case of the great agricultural interest—that beauty which everybody wooed, and one deluded. There is a fatality in such charms, and we now seem to approach the catastrophe of her career. Protection appears to be in about the same condition that Protestantism was in in 1828. The country will draw its moral. For my part, if we are to have free trade, I, who honour genius, prefer that such measures should be proposed by the hon. Member for Stockport, than by one, who through skilful Parliamentary manœuvres, has tampered with the generous confidence of a great people and of a great party. For myself, I care not what may be the result. Dissolve, if you please, the Parliament you have betrayed, and appeal to the people, who, I believe, mistrust you. For me there remains this at least—the opportunity of expressing thus publicly my belief that a Conservative Government is an Organised Hypocrisy.

Mr. Darby

was surprised at the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down; for although his personal allusions might please for the moment, they would not secure to him the respect of that House. The hon. Gentleman was not consistent; for when he sat on the Opposition side, he said free-trade sentiments did not belong to the Whigs but to the Tories. But on a late occasion he said the present Government had stolen the clothes of the Whigs while they were bathing. He believed the hon. Gentleman had bathed not only with the Whigs, but also with the Radicals. He should like to know what were the former opinions of the noble Lord opposite who now lauded free-trade principles so highly. The present Government had come into power when the country, owing to the financial cleverness of the Whigs, was involved in debt, and almost on the brink of a rupture with France and America, and involved in a war with China and Affghanistan. The Corn Law was proposed under those circumstances, and the Parliament had no alternative but to pass that law, or displace the Government and restore the incompetent Whigs to power. He admitted the existence of great agricultural distress, and thought if corn continued to come in under high duties, some alteration in the Corn Laws would be necessary. They had not yet had sufficient experience of the working of the law to seek a change, and, as changes led to speculation, they should be made with great caution. He had no apology to make to his constituents for his Parliamentary conduct. He admitted that he was returned on the principle of protection, but pledged to no particular measure. According to the best of his ability, he had acted up to his principles, and though he might regret the coming in of corn under high duties, yet, under similar circumstances, he should vote again for a similar Corn Law.

Mr. Smythe

said, he had not the smallest intention of intruding himself, especially at that late hour, on the attention of the House, had it not been for that severe, and crushing, and masterly reply, made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sussex to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury—not the one delivered this evening, but one delivered a fortnight ago. Remembering also that it was the fashion to reproach Gentlemen, even though they might not have an opportunity, with speaking after some delay and some preparation, he thought that he was not unjustified, and did not rise without some call to answer the speech of the hon. Member for Sussex—his invective, his Philippic, his severe reply to his hon. Friend. Far be it from him to interfere between that great schism which had manifested itself to-night in this great agricultural question, supported in such, various ways by different agricultural Members: far be it from him to mingle in a debate which was begun in so spirited a speech on behalf of the agricultural interest by the noble Lord the Member for Sussex, and had been continued in so spirited a speech by the hon. Gentleman, also Member for Sussex: far be it from him to mingle in such matters; but he would tell the hon. Gentleman this—that it was not by raking among hustings' speeches, it was not by going back fifteen years, and telling his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury that he then entertained particular opinions, which, he suspected, if hon. Gentlemen would take the trouble to look, would not be very different from the opinions entertained by him at this moment. ["Hear."] The hon. and gallant Member the Officer of the Ordnance (Captain Boldero) had done him the honour to cheer a remark of his. He supposed, if he were to recall to the hon. and gallant Member the vote he gave on the Irish Registration Bill, he would find some difficulty in reconciling with that his vote on the Government Registration Bill, were it to come before the House. How would his present vote tally with that given three years ago? Take a question which agitated the public mind very greatly: how would the hon. and gallant Officer vote on the question of the grant to Maynooth? [Cries of "Question, question."] He thought he might be pardoned when a Gentleman interrupted him, in stating what he had thought was an acknowledged fact—namely, that it was most invidious and unfair, not to state that this conduct and that were in contradiction, but that words uttered fifteen years ago were in contradiction to those uttered that evening. He thought that would have been admitted by every one in that House. But he would tell the hon. Gentleman that this question, if it could not be solved by that great agricultural mind to which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton made so happy an allusion, would not be solved by the great parochial mind of England. Differing as he did from his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury in the vote he should give this evening, and differing from the hon. Member for Somerset, he could not with-hold his testimony to the fact that speeches like those of his hon. Friend would be more likely to be productive of public good than the Motion of the hon. Member. The Motion went to this result, that it was a great thing to bring the state of the country before the House; but he believed it would be far more productive of good to bring the state of the House before the country.

Sir R. Peel

I shall in a very few sentences state the grounds on which I feel it my duty to offer my opposition to the Motion which has been made by my hon. Friend. I oppose that Motion, because the object of it being merely to transfer a certain sum from the county rate to the consolidated fund, in my opinion we should practise a delusion upon the agricultural interest by impressing them with the belief that such a measure can in any material degree operate to their benefit. My hon. Friend states that the total amount of relief which he means to propose is about 250,000l. or 260,000l.—not an absolute remission of taxation falling upon agriculture, but merely the transfer of that amount, payable in England from the county rate, to the consolidated fund. Now, supposing in that way my hon. Friend gave an absolute relief of 250,000l. to the agricultural interest, even if it were total and unqualified, the absolute amount to each individual would be scarcely appreciable. But my hon. Friend must recollect it is a mere transfer of a charge from one species of taxation to another; my hon. Friend must recollect, if he concedes this relief to the agriculture of England, he must concede, where it can be done, a corresponding relief to agriculture in Scotland and Ireland. The consequence will be, therefore, that a charge of, perhaps, 350,000l. or 400,000l. must be placed on the consolidated fund. Now, I have a strong impression that, if placed on the consolidated fund, the check put on expenditure would be much less efficient than it is at present; and that Government, acting through its officers, probably to be newly appointed, would have much smaller means of exercising local vigilance than those who are now by the local authorities appointed to superintend this charge. To obtain, therefore, a relief in England of 250,000l. of direct taxation on the county rates, there must be a transfer to the consolidated fund of nearly 400,000l., with the prospect of continued increase to be placed on that fund. But who are the contributors to that fund? The consolidated fund means neither more nor less than the produce of taxation to which the agriculturists contribute. My hon. Friend says that this removal of taxation, now placed on the county rate, would be a relief to the lower class of farmers and the peasants; but do not the lower class of farmers and the peasants contribute by indirect taxation to the consolidated fund? Consequently it would be a mere commutation of taxation; and my firm belief is, that the agricultural interest, which my hon. Friend intends to benefit, would derive no substantial relief. My hon. Friend, however, proposes that as his object; and I rather think that my hon. Friend would receive support from others who mean acquiescence in the Motion to be tantamount to a condemnation of the financial proposals made by Her Majesty's Government; because I find that in a circular which has been issued from the Protection of Agriculture Society, Gentlemen are expressly invited to vote for this Motion, upon the ground that the remission of taxation which I propose is not favourable to the agricultural interest, and that the Motion of my hon. Friend ought to be acquiesced in for the express purpose of effectually resisting further progress of the Government in measures of free trade. If, therefore, that be the ground upon which my hon. Friend brings forward his Motion, or others are inclined to support it, still less is it in my power to acquiesce in the Motion of my hon. Friend. I have had placed in my hands the following letter, addressed to a Member of this House, soliciting his support to the Motion of my hon. Friend, and upon rather a different ground from that upon which he puts his Motion. This letter is from a local Protection Society, and is addressed by the Secretary to a Member of this House. It is to this effect:— I am directed to inform you that a communication from the Central Protection Society was laid before our managing Committee yesterday, of which the following is a copy:—'That it is the opinion of this Committee that a remission of several of the duties which Sir Robert Peel proposes to abolish in his remission of taxation, would tend materially to lessen the employment of the agricul- tural labourer, and to reduce the price of various productions of the soil. That the principle on which the Agricultural Protection Society is based is, to maintain a protection to British agriculture, not less than that which existed at the time of its formation; and this Committee, therefore, recommend all the Provincial Protection Societies to urge, by deputations or otherwise, their local Representatives in Parliament to support Mr. Miles' Motion, and to use their best endeavours to arrest the progress of these free-trade measures. Their appeal, therefore, is clearly made, not for the purpose of gaining a small re-misson of local burdens to the amount of 250,000l. for the agricultural interest—it is made expressly for the purpose of arresting the further progress of those measures which it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce, and to imply a censure and a condemnation of their financial policy. Whether, therefore, the grounds for supporting this Motion be those urged by my hon. Friend, or those stated in this letter from the Central Protection Society, inviting Members to support the Motion, with the view of arresting the progress of the measures proposed by Her Majesty's Government, it is entirely out of my power to acquiesce in the Motion of my hon. Friend. Sir, this House has given its consent to the Income Tax; this House has, by a large majority, consented to the continuance of a tax by which a sum of 5,200,000l. is to be raised on the property and income of the country. I do not believe that a continuance of that tax would have been acquiesced in by the public—I do not believe that it would have received the sanction of this House, if the proposal for its continuance had not been accompanied by a declaration of the intention of the Government in respect to their financial policy. I conceive, therefore, were I to acquiesce in a Motion of this kind, which must be admitted necessarily to imply a complete disturbance of that financial policy, I should be acting with gross bad faith, having proposed the Income Tax, if I were to consent to a measure which would render me unable to fulfil the conditions on which it was proposed. If 400,000l. are to be placed on the consolidated fund, it is quite clear, with the present amount of surplus we contemplate for some time to come, it will be impossible to persevere in the whole of the financial measures we have brought forward. We are not prepared to submit to an immediate and certain deficit to the amount to which it must exist in the event of the success of my hon. Friend; and I have a right, therefore, to consider the Motion of my hon. Friend as a censure and a condemnation of our financial policy. Sir, I cannot say I at all repent of the course which has been pursued by Her Majesty's Government since their accession to office. I look now at the condition of this country, and at its condition at the period when we assumed power. I remember the statements which were made with regard to the position of the agricultural interest; with regard to the prospects of commerce; with regard, I believe, to the condition of the labouring classes who were dependent on their industry for support in the manufacturing districts of this country. I think I recollect hearing from the hon. Gentleman opposite that in the town he represents—the town of Sheffield—there were not less than 3,000 houses unoccupied. I recollect the touching accounts which were given of the condition of the labouring classes in the manufacturing districts—the accounts of the struggles which were I made even to procure a scanty sustenance from animals which had died of disease. I recollect that case to which I before referred—the case of the town of Paisley, where, during the winter of 1841, there were not less than 12,000 persons—atone time not less than 17,000 who rose in the morning uncertain where they were to procure the subsistence of the day, excepting by voluntary charity. Looking at these things, I do not consider that I am bound to support the partial interests of any individual class. I consider, Sir, that it is the duty of the Government to take, as far as their abilities permit, a comprehensive view of the interests of all classes; and I now believe that it is for the interest of all classes, but more especially for the interest of agriculture, that something has been done to reanimate and revive, if possible, the manufacturing interest. And I ask you now to consider, not the effect which the importation of 3,000 or 4,000 head of cattle or of swine may produce upon the prices of agricultural produce, but I wish you to take into your consideration what would have been the effect of a diminished demand of 40,000 head of cattle arising from continued distress throughout the manufacturing districts. I do not believe that agricultural prosperity could co-exist with the continuance of that manufacturing distress. But we are now told that, notwithstanding our reduction, notwithstanding the remissions we have made, to the amount of five or six millions, in taxes bearing upon the productive industry of the county—that we deserve no credit for it—that all indications of a recurrence of prosperity are disbelieved and denied—the revival of manufacturing activity is entirely owing to good harvests. But I remember when we were told that confidence in the recurrence of better seasons was utterly misplaced—that there was no hope for the revival of manufactures and commerce—that our measures were mere delusions—and that unless we took the agricultural produce of other countries our markets could not be extended, and that it was illusory to hold out any hope of improvement, or that the sufferings of the people could be mitigated. Well, but improvement has taken place. I wish hon. Gentlemen would read some of the trading circulars issued at the commencement of the present year, and compare them with the trading circulars issued in 1842, and compare them, too, at the same time, with the predictions of approaching ruin that were then made. Here is one of those circulars issued on the 1st of January in the present year:— The improvement, indeed, in manufacturing property has far exceeded all expectation; the transactions of the year present one unbroken series of remunerating prices for goods, and a very moderate cost of the raw material. At this season it has been usual to expect temporary stagnation; but at the moment all is activity. The spinners are full of orders, and steam power is taxed to the utmost to fulfil contracts. The woollen districts have much improved in condition, and may be pronounced to be busily and advantageously employed. The stocks of manufactured goods have been well taken off, and it is anticipated that the Colonial wool sales next month will be very brisk, and very full prices be obtained. The circular then adds—and this is another proof of the wisdom of the fiscal policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government,— There are no unsound speculations in merchandise, as in the memorable year 1825; nor in American securities, nor an enormous bill circulation, as before the last panic; and our monetary relations with foreign countries are altogether favourable. All these circumstances combined again lead to the appearance of a moderate rate of interest for money. That is the account given in this circular at the commencement of the present year with respect to the commercial and manufacturing prosperity of the country. Now I ask you to contrast that with the state of the country in 1842, and, making all the allowances that you will make for favourable seasons, I ask you whether there is any ground for condemning the commercial and manufacturing policy which has been adopted by Her Majesty's Government Observe the bearing of this on agriculture,— As a remarkable evidence," says this circular, "of the increasing prosperity of the country, it is roost interesting to notice that the quantity of wheat sold during the last four months at the towns whose returns are made for the purpose of compiling the averages, amounted to 2,128,692 quarters, being no less than 247,707 quarters more than the sales of the corresponding period in 1843; while the quantity of foreign corn upon which duty has been paid during the whole of 1844 is nearly identical with that of the previous year. Now, observe that the whole of that increased consumption is an increased consumption of wheat, the produce of this country, there being no increase in the import of foreign wheat, as the import of foreign wheat appears to correspond with that of the four corresponding months of the preceding year. Speaking of the consumption of those towns only where the averages are taken, we find that, in consequence of the improved condition of the manufacturing labourer, there is an increased consumption in them of 247,000 quarters of wheat in four months only. When, therefore, you say that our measures are calculated to increase the manufacturing activity of the country, and that the benefit of them is exclusively confined to manufactures, I give you this fact as a conclusive proof that there is derived from them a corresponding benefit to agriculture, because the demand for that part of our own produce which is of the utmost importance to agriculture—namely, wheat, is extended in a proportionate degree to the increased prosperity of manufactures and commerce. I oppose this Motion in 1845 on the same grounds on which I opposed it in 1836. I then thought that it held out hopes of relief which were certain to be delusive. I differed from those with whom I was then acting, and I stated the grounds on which I opposed the Motion. I said then, as I say now, that there is no tax bearing upon agriculture except the Malt Tax, in the power of Government to remit; and I should have thought that my hon. Friend would have reserved himself until the removal of the auction duty or the duties upon glass or cotton were proposed, and then have brought forward, in competition with those remissions, a proposition for the remission of this tax bearing particularly upon agriculture, instead of merely suggesting a pecuniary bonus. Sir, I will not now enter upon the question of agricultural protection. It does not properly arise in this debate, and it will, moreover, be raised in a discussion which, as I understand, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton intends to raise in this House. I shall then be prepared to say why I think that the Corn Laws ought not to be abolished. At the same time I am not prepared to say that precisely the same amount of agricultural protection shall be maintained, if by that you mean that we are not at liberty to touch it in any revisal of a Tariff, as in regard to bark, or articles of that kind. I believe it is for the interest of the country that you should relax your prohibitory and restrictive laws with great caution. I do not say for the advantage of the agricultural interest, but for the advantage of all classes of the community. I am holding no new doctrine. I have ever professed my belief that the system of prohibition and extreme protection is wrong. I do not, as I said the other night, defend the protection given to the West India interest upon the principle of commercial policy; but seeing the long period for which it has endured, the amount of capital invested in the cultivation of the soil in the West Indies, the peculiar position of those Colonies with respect to labour; seeing also our obligation to maintain our Colonial Empire; I have the strongest impression that the sudden and hasty removal of protection would be an injury not only to the West Indies, but to the whole of this great Empire. We are now taunted by one side of the House with having seriously injured the agricultural interest, by the rapidity, the inconsiderate haste, with which the protection of that interest has been dealt with. On the other side of the House we are taunted with being mere instruments in the hands of the agricultural party; and we are told that we ought to proceed at once to the removal of all protection whatsoever. Sir, our intention is to pursue the course we have hitherto taken, without yielding to the suggestions of the one party or the other. We have attempted gradually to abolish prohibitory duties, and gradually to relax extreme protection. In my opinion we have done so with the best success. I look to the general results of our policy in the position of the country now, as compared with the position in which we found it; and I say we are amply justified in the course we have pursued, and are encouraged to persevere in it. Sir, the hon. Member for Shrewsbury repeats an accusation he made on a former occasion, of our having retained power by a forgetfulness of the pledges we gave in opposition. As I before said, I shall not enter into personal controversy. When I proposed the Tariff in 1842, and when that charge, which the hon. Member now repeats, was made against me, I find the hon. Gentleman got up in his place, and stated that,— With reference to the accusation made on the other side of the House, that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had repudiated principles when in opposition which he had adopted when in office, that that charge had been made without due examination of the facts of the case. I find the same hon. Gentleman again use these words:— The conduct pursued by the right hon. Baronet was in exact, permanent, and perfect consistency with the principles of free trade laid down by Mr. Pitt. His reason for saying this much was to refute the accusations brought against the present Government, that they had put forward their present views in order to obtain a change of Government, so as to get into power themselves. These sentiments I find attributed to Mr. Disraeli. I do not know whether they are of sufficient importance to mention them in the House; but this I know, that I then held in the same estimation the panegyric, with which I now regard the attack. I was, certainly, however, so struck—remembering the former defence of the hon. Gentleman—that the accusation which he made to-night should have proceeded from him, that I could not forbear alluding to it.

Captain Harris

did not think the agricultural interests were promoted either by the present Government, or their predecessors. The House had just passed an Income Tax for three years to come, and now or never was therefore the time for the agriculturists to seek for the remission of some of the taxes which pressed so heavily upon them.

Mr. Plumptre

said, though a supporter of the principles for which the hon. Member for Somerset contended, he should objoct te the course which that hon. Gentleman had taken on the present occasion. He could tell the hon. Gentleman that a great many of his warmest Friends were very much dissatisfied with the Motion which he had brought forward, as they considered he had proposed a measure altogether inadequate to meet the distress under which the agriculturists suffered.

The House divided on the Question that the words proposed to be left out, "that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," stand part of the Question:—Ayes 213; Noes 78: Majority 135.

List of the AYES.
Acland, T. D. Clifton, J. T.
Adderley, C. B. Clive, Visct.
Ainsworth, P. Clive, hon. R. H.
Aldam, W. Cobden, R.
Antrobus, E. Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.
Arkwright, G. Colborne, hn. W. N. R.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Collett, W. R.
Collett, J.
Baillie, Col. Coote, Sir C. H.
Baillie, H. J. Copeland, Mr. Ald.
Baird, W. Craig, W. G.
Barclay, D. Cripps, W.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Damer, hon. Col.
Baring, T. Deedes, W.
Baring, rt. hn. W. B. Denison, J. E.
Barnard, E. G. Denison, E. B.
Beckett, W. Dennistoun, J.
Bellew, R. M. D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.
Bentinck, Lord G. Dickinson F. H.
Bodkin, W. H. Dodd, G.
Boldero, H. G. Duff, J.
Borthwick, P. Duncan, G.
Botfield, B. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Dundas, Admiral
Bowles, Admiral Dundas, F.
Bowring, Dr. East, J. B.
Bright, J. Eastnor, Visct.
Broadwood, H. Egerton, W. T.
Brotherton, J. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Bruce, Lord E. Ellice, E.
Bruce, C. L. C. Ellis, W.
Bruges, W. H. L. Entwisle, W.
Buller, C. Escott, B.
Buller, E. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Busfeild, W. Ewart, W.
Campbell, Sir H. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Cardwell, E. Flower, Sir J.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Forbes, W.
Chelsea, Visct. Forster, M.
Childers, J. W. Fox, C. R.
Clayton, R. R. Gaskell, J. M.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Gibson, T. M.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Paget, Col.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Paget, Lord A.
Gore, M. Pakington, J. S.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Parker, J.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Patten, J. W.
Greene, T. Pechell, Capt.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Grimsditch, T. Peel, J.
Grimston, Visct. Pennant, hon. Col.
Hamilton, W. J. Plumptre, J. P.
Hanmer, Sir J. Plumridge, Capt.
Harcourt, G. G. Polhill, F.
Hawes, B. Praed, W. T.
Hayes, Sir E. Pringle, A.
Hayter, W. G. Pusey, P.
Heathcote, Sir W. Reid, Sir J. R.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Repton, G. W. J.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Ricardo, J. L.
Hinde, J. H. Russell, Lord J.
Hindley, C. Russell, Lord E.
Hogg, J. W. Russell, J. D. W.
Holland, R. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Hope, hon. C. Sanderson, R.
Hope, G. W. Scrope, G. P.
Horsman, E. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Shirley, E. J.
Howick, Visct. Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.
Hume, J. Smythe, hon. G.
Hussey, T. Smollet, A.
Hutt, W. Somerset, Lord G.
James, Sir W. C. Somerton, Visct.
Jermyn, Earl Somerville, Sir W. M.
Jocelyn, Visct. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Stuart, Lord J.
Kemble, H. Stuart, W. V.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Strutt, E.
Lambton, H. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Langston, J. H. Tancred, H. W.
Legh, G. C. Tennent, J. E.
Lemon, Sir C. Thesiger, Sir F.
Lennox, Lord A. Thornely, T.
Lincoln, Earl of Townley, J.
Lockhart, W. Trelawny, J. S.
Lowther, Sir J. H. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Lowther, hon. Col. Trotter, J.
Mackinnon, W. A. Tuffnell, H.
McGeachy, F. A. Turner, E.
M'Neill, D. Villiers, hon. C.
Manners, Lord J. Villiers, Visct.
Marsham, Visct. Wakley, T.
Marsland, H. Walker, R.
Martin, J. Wall, C. B.
Martin, C. W. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Marton, G. Warburton, H.
Masterman, J. Ward, H. G.
Matheson, J. Wawn, J. T.
Milnes, R. M. Wellesley, Lord C.
Mitcalf, H. Williams, W.
Mitchell, T. A. Wilshere, W.
Morrison, J. Wood, Col.
Mundy, E. M. Wood, Col. T.
Napier, Sir C. Wortley, H. J. S.
Neville, R. Yorke, H. R.
Newry, Visct.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. TELLERS,
Norreys, Sir D. J. Young, J.
Oswald, A. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Alford, Visct. Long, W.
Allix, J. P. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Mackenzie, T.
Bagot, hon. W. Macnamara, Major
Banks, G. Manners, Lord C. S.
Bell, M. Maunsell, T. P.
Beresford, Major Miles, P. W. S.
Berkeley, hon. C. Morris, D.
Blackstone, W. S. Neeld, J.
Bramston, T. W. Neeld, J.
Broadley, H. Newdegate, C. N.
Brownrigg, J. S. O'Brien, A. S.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Ossulston, Lord
Chetwode, Sir J. Packe, C. W.
Christopher, R. A. Palmer, R.
Codrington, Sir W. Palmer, G.
Colville, C. R. Rendlesham, Lord
Darby, G. Richards, R.
Denison, W. J. Rolleston, Col.
Dick, Q. Round, C. G.
Disraeli, B. Round, J.
Douglas, J. D. S. Rushbrooke, Col.
Du Pre, C. G. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Eaton, R. J. Sheridan, R. B.
Farnham, E. B. Sibthorp, Col.
Fellowes, E. Smith, A.
Ferrand, W. B. Smyth, Sir H.
Filmer, Sir E. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Fitzmaurice, hon. W. Spooner, R.
Fuller, A. E. Talbot, C. R. M.
Goring, C. Taylor, E.
Granby, Marquess of Tollemache, J.
Gregory, W. H. Tower, C.
Grogan, E. Turnor, C.
Halford, Sir H. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Harris, hon. Capt. Vane, Lord H.
Heathcote, G. G. Wodehouse, E.
Henley, J. W. Worsley, Lord
Henniker, Lord TELLERS.
Howard, hon. H. Miles, W.
Ingestre, Visct. March, Earl of