HC Deb 08 May 1845 vol 80 cc292-340
Mr. Hutt

, having presented a petition from persons interested in land in Australia, praying for the admission of corn, the produce of that country, at the same rate of duty as Canada corn was now subject to, spoke as follows:—I am about to bring under the consideration of the House a proposal for modifying the duty now charged on Colonial grain. This proposal was submitted to the House last year, and rejected by a considerable majority of votes. It may share no better fate on the present occasion. I think it right, however, that the House should be aware that there are some very strong reasons for entertaining it, and that, if rejected, its rejection, which is certain to be regarded by some thousands of our countrymen in another hemisphere, as an act of injustice and misgovernment, will involve all who concur in it in a serious responsibility. In the terms of my present Motion, no reference is made to South Africa, to India, or to any other of our Colonial possessions. I have adopted this course because I have wished to raise the question in its simplest form, and because I know that whenever the Legislature shall be persuaded to make this concession to Australia, it must make it at the same time to the other corn-producing dependencies of the Crown. Now, before I state the case to the House, I would wish to observe that there appears to exist in the minds of some Members of the House a strange misconception of the duties they are required to perform when they undertake to make laws for the Colonies. They seem to consider that, on such occasions, they are at liberty to consult exclusively the advantage of their own country, and even of that particular interest in it to which they may happen to be attached. I do not think that the right hon. Baronet opposite will acknowledge the validity of such a doctrine. To me it seems both mischievous and unfounded. We are bound on such occasions, before every other consideration, to consult for the welfare of the people for whom we undertake to legislate. We are to provide, in the first instance, for, not our own interest, not our own advantage, but the interest and advantage of those who are subject to our authority. We are bound to secure to them, by every attainable means, beneficent and impartial laws—the fullest possible enjoyment of the fruits of their industry—the utmost possible extension of their arts, their agriculture, and their commerce. I do not mean to represent these obligations as obligations which arise out of any peculiar relations between a parent State and its Colonies; they are duties which attach to sovereignty in all its forms—they are the price and condition of obedience. Whether we are administering the government of Australia or of Ireland, these are sacred obligations from which we cannot be released, for they are due from all who exact towards all who pay allegiance. Next to these objects, if you please, but far below them in the scale of moral duty, comes the consideration of what is due to our country, deeply implicated in the question. And do not suppose that the duties, however apparently distinct, are really at variance with each other. Far otherwise. Pursued with sincerity, and in the spirit of a just and generous policy, there exists between them the closest connexion, a mutual and necessary dependence on each other. The attachment of distant Colonies can only be permanently secured by good government—the Colonies can only contribute to the wealth and resources of the parent State in proportion to the prosperity which they themselves enjoy. Now, Sir, if these principles be well founded, or if they be so to any considerable extent, hon. Gentlemen arrayed on the other side must support their cause by some other assertions than that the measure I propose will cheapen the price of corn in this country, and make another breach in that legislative protection to which they are so fatally attached. In order to make out their case at all, they must show that a free importation of Colonial grain will be of no advantage to Australia, or at least that the advantage it will secure to Australia will bear no kind of proportion to the injury it will inflict at home. That I apprehend to be out of their power. Australia is a country peculiarly adapted to the production of the finest description of wheat. My hon. Friend the Member for Malton, sent a few weeks ago to the Royal Agricultural Society, for exhibition to such gentlemen as might be interested in such matters, some samples of wheal, which were part of a cargo recently arrived from Van Diemen's Land. My hon. Friend did this at my request. I think that those who have inspected this wheat will admit that it is of a quality very rarely to be met with in England. Of such wheat, Van Diemen's Land, South Australia, and some districts of New South Wales, annually produce a much larger quantity than they can possibly consume; and all they require to render this natural exuberance—this bounty of Providence—a source of permanent prosperity to themselves, is a market for disposing of their surplus. The market to which they turn their expectation is in this country. It is very distant—a voyage of four months; but the peculiar dryness of the fine climate of Australia gives to the wheat singular facilities for such transport. Some persons will perhaps treat as chimerical any expectation of creating a large corn trade between this country and the distant Colonies of Australia. It is not, however, many years ago—it is within the recollection of many who now hear me—that the same opinion was formed of that wool trade with Australia, now so extensive and beneficial to the best interests of both countries. We have outgrown the one impossibility, and we may outgrow the other. But this is quite certain, that our wool trade with Australia would never have risen to existence, if we had insisted on levying high and almost prohibitory duties in this country on the importation of Australian wool. Now, we do not entirely prohibit to the Australians all access to our corn markets—for I see by the Returns that in the course of last year they introduced here about 4,000 quarters of wheat; but we impose on this wheat, which has to travel nearly 15,000 miles of ocean before it reaches our shores, a duty of 5s. per quarter, which is at about the rate of 25 per cent. on its prime cost. I know that by law there is a sliding scale in the business, and a blessed contrivance that sliding scale is to the Australian farmer and the Australian importer! For whenever the price of wheat in this country is low, whenever the average here is declared to be under 55s. a quarter, and the prospect of the imported wheat bringing a remunerating price is consequently bad—then, on that very account, steps in the Custom-house officer, and makes it worse, by exacting for it the highest rate of duty prescribed in the sliding scale. And at the price at which we have had wheat in this country during the last two years—a price which we can neither expect or desire ever to see increased — Colonial wheat (that of Canada alone excepted) paid the duty fixed at the top of the scale, a duty which amounts to from 20 to 25 per cent. on the price of wheat in Australia—the highest rate of duty which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to fix on the manufactured goods of foreign nations! The people of Australia look upon this almost prohibitory duty, charged by this country on one of their staple productions, as a great hardship and injustice—hardship and injustice which are aggravated in their eyes by the fact that they admit all the productions of this country into their markets without any restriction at all—they are duty free. But this is not all. Corn and wool are the only productions of Australia. Up to last year Australian wool had a protection in the British market of 1d. per lb. as against foreign wool. You took that protection off last year, in accordance with the principles of sound policy and scientific legislation. The Australians lost their monopoly. They never complained of it. But they do complain, loudly and indignantly complain, that whatever turn you take they are always sacrificed to your policy. You remove the duty from European wool, and tell the Australian farmer that the proceeding is required by the principles of free trade; and then you insist on charging a duty of 20 per cent. upon his corn, and justify your conduct on the principle of protection and monopoly. What are the people of our Colonies to think of the justice and consistency of the British Government? You treat the Colonists with this kind of careless rigour and caprice—taking care, however, that their interests shall always be subservient to your own—and then you expect to preserve their respect, attachment, and good will. But they have a deeper and more irritating grievance than all this. Men of generous minds will bear with loss, with sacrifice, and even with ruin itself; but they will not brook indignity and insult. In 1843, you passed a law permitting the Canadian Colonies to import their grain into this country at a nominal duty. In 1844, you deliberately refused to extend that advantage to the Colonies of Australia. If this distinction were not unjust, surely it was most unwise and offensive. But I contend that it was most unjust. What have the people of Australia done, to subject themselves to such treatment? They are members of the same equal community as the people of Canada: they are subjects of the same Sovereign, obedient to the same laws. Why are they not entitled to the same favour and protection? It cannot be necessary to tell Gentlemen in whose mind the history of Ireland must be associated with so many painful reflections, that nothing but evil can arise from attempts to institute legislative distinctions between portions of the same people. What can induce you to disregard all the warnings of experience, all the ordinary considerations of justice and prudence, and to sow among a people now devoted to the British Government, the certain seeds of future discontent and disaffection? Is it credible that you are doing all this mischief and injustice merely to prop up an anomaly in your wretched Corn Laws that you ought to be ashamed of? I want to hear your defence. Last year the Government had something to allege, if not in defence, at least in apology for its conduct. It was then stated, and truly, that the southern Colonies had not imitated Canada, by petitioning for the privilege of importing grain into this country duty free. That was the only argument in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, as well as I can recollect. [Mr. Gladstone here intimated dissent.] Well! I know that the right hon. Gentleman did say to me—"For Heaven's sake don't you go and disturb that great settled question, the Corn Laws!" The Corn Law a settled question! Why, there is not one enactment in the whole range of our legislation which bears less the character of permanence or stability. The Corn Law is the great unsettled question. To call it settled, and to complain of disturbance, might do for a smart joke to enliven a farce at the Hay-market:—I do not think it a very convincing mode of reasoning in this House. I trust, therefore, that on this occasion we shall not hear, as an objection to my proposition, any idle talk about disturbing the Corn Law. If the Corn Laws are to be repealed, there can be little harm in disturbing them. If, as you assure us, they are to be preserved as the perfection of human reason, it is you who have disturbed them, with your partial alterations and anomalies, and not I. Well! last year the Australian Colonies had not petitioned to share in the advantages assigned to Canada. They were silent, and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to believe that I was the only individual on either side of the globe who thought it worth while to make a fuss about their exclusion. Will he say so now? Look at the Papers on the Table of the House! Look to the petitions from the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and the people of Van Diemen's Land! The fact is, that the moment it was known in Australia that the British Government had professed to doubt whether Australia cared about the matter, the settlers determined that in future they should be in no doubt as to their sentiments in that respect—no mistake. Every means by which it was possible to manifest their deep anxiety for a free importation, and their indignation at being debarred from it, was resorted to. The Colonial press — public meetings — the legislative councils—private appeals to persons of influence in this country—all attested the importance which the British settlers in Australia attached to the privilege in question. There is rather a remarkable letter, which I have seen in print, addressed by a Colonist of Van Diemen's Land to the hon. Member for Stockport, imploring the aid of his great energies and powerful talents to procure justice in this respect to his adopted country. I will not trouble the House by reading it. I will not refer to the writers of private letters, nor to the editors of newspapers, to prove my case: they may possibly take a partial or interested view of the question. I will not quote from the speeches or from the resolutions of popular assemblies — popular assemblies sometimes act under the influence of temporary excitement. But I will ask the House to notice the language made use of on this subject by the Colonial Governors. They at least are witnesses without exception. The facts which they assert they must know. Their dependence on the Colonial Office on the one hand, and their own high characters and integrity on the other, must preserve them from all suspicion of misrepresentation or overstatement. What do they say? Here is a despatch of Governor Grey, dated Adelaide, Feb. 6, 1844. It states as follows:— One of the causes of the depression and pecuniary distress in this Colony is the ruinous low price of the produce of the soil. Cattle imported from Port Philip, and other parts of New South Wales, displace Colonial cattle, and render native cattle of little value. Sheep, also, for food, are of little value; and we are supplied from New South Wales in abundance. It is only the wool of the flock which is of any value, and for which large flocks are kept by the settlers. He proceeds— If your Lordship wishes to confer a boon upon this Colony, which would tend greatly, if not entirely, to remedy the evils under which this Colony is suffering, and which would indirectly invigorate and tell through all the arteries and veins of this country, you could not fix upon a gift more beneficial and just than the permitting the wheat of this country, not only to have the same favour shown to it as is shown to the wheat of Canada, but to allow it to be imported into England duty free. The voyage from Canada as compared with that from this country, is short; and great frauds, by the introduction of American wheat under the pretence of its being Canadian, are unavoidable. From Adelaide the voyage is four months, or longer; the insurance high; and no other wheat could be introduced into England as Australian wheat, but it must be bonâ fide the produce of this island. I most respectfully ask your Lordship to grant this boon to this Colony. It will be highly appreciated by all the settlers here, will be no loss of any consideration to the Revenue of England, and will give such an impetus to this Colony, that the most beneficial effects in every department will be felt throughout the territory. The next document to which I will solicit attention, is a despatch from the Governor of Van Diemen's Land, dated July 14, 1844:— The two great staple products of this island are wool and wheat. Wool now fetches a full price in the market, and the late accounts from England of the rise in its value has inspired a spirit and confidence in the settlers of a most beneficial character. Wheat, however, of which this great country could grow an endless quantity, and that too of the first quality and description, is a low and losing adventure: the price (3s. per bushel) will not pay the costs of production. The question then is, where can a market be found? Not in New South Wales; for it now gets a cheaper article from Valparaiso, &c, and has also placed a duty on wheat of this Colony. Nor can this market be found in any adjacent or neighbouring countries, where wheat is grown sufficient for their consumption. The only place is England—England, which already appreciates the value and quality of Van Diemen's Land wheat, which is heavier per measure than any other grown elsewhere, and which has the peculiar quality of keeping well, and not being attacked by the weavil. England already has given 9s. per bushel for this wheat; and it is bought up rapidly for seed, being of superior quality. I do most respectfully and most earnestly entreat your Lordship to consider favourably the appeal which I made to your Lordship in my despatch, No. 108, 20th of May last, on this important subject. Allow Van Diemen's Land wheat to be imported duty free, and you will break at once the bonds which chain the enterprise and industry of this country, which weigh down to insolvency nineteen-twentieths of the landed proprietors of this territory, which affect indirectly every tradesmen and artificer in this island, and which totally prevent the employment of those passholders who are a dead weight upon British funds for want of employment, and who, unless means are devised to encourage 'the agricultural interests of the Colony,' will render the population of this country a pauper population, instead of one able and willing to support itself. Now, Sir, will it be possible for me to add anything to the force of these earnest and eloquent remarks? If I can, it must be by mentioning, which I have not yet done, the name of the writer. He is Sir Eardley Wilmot—a gentleman long known to most of the Members of this House, and respected by every one for his distinguished integrity, great intelligence, and knowledge of the world. Sir Eardley Wilmot is connected, by the circumstances of birth, connexion, and property, with the landed interest of this country. For many years he took an active part in the business of this House as the representative of the county of Warwick; and he, with perhaps better means of judging of this whole question than any man living, implores of the Secretary of State to sanction the remission of the Colonial corn duties, with all the zeal and importunity with which the selfish solicit a personal favour. I am delighted that I called for that Paper; not because it makes so strongly for my argument—(I think that was sufficiently established without it)—but because it gives me an opportunity of holding up before the minds of the people of Tasmania the rare single heartedness and self-devotion of their governor. Let it not be supposed that in advocating this measure I mistake my true position before the House. I am aware that my real opponents are not Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Baronet knows as well as I do that my Motion ought to be sanctioned by the House. The right hon. Baronet will not reply to my arguments himself. He is too wise a man. He will commit that task to the happy official hardihood of the Vice President of the Board of Trade, whose opinions may be easily disclaimed. My real opponents, in the meanwhile, are the Gentlemen below the gangway, on the other side. Her Majesty's Government cannot disapprove of my proposal, but they will not risk a camp mutiny to support it. Well, then, I address myself to you. I think I can show to you, that if you consider the matter in its proper light, you ought to be my allies, and not my antagonists on this question. I think I can show this, even assuming that your own notions about agricultural protection are just, by proving that a free importation of corn raised in the southern colonies would produce effects very different from those which would result from a free importation of Foreign corn. The advocates of agricultural protection contend that any considerable importation of Foreign corn into this country in ordinary years would throw a portion of the rural population out of employment—that the labourers thus displaced from the soil would resort to the manufacturing districts for work—that the increase of hands in those districts would augment the supply of manufactured goods at the very time when the home demand for them would be diminished by the depressed state of domestic agriculture—and that the corresponding extension of our foreign trade would expose both the rural and manufacturing population to aggravated distress, as often as a derangement of the Foreign market, occasioned by hostile tariffs, preferential treaties with our rivals, or a war, should diminish employment in our towns, and throw back the increased population upon our parishes for support. I hope that I have stated your case fairly. It was my desire to do so. Now, whatever plausibility this economical objection may possess, as applied to the importation of Foreign corn, it is worthless as applied to corn produced in the Australian Colonies. Import corn freely from those Colonies, and there will spring up in them a great demand for land and labour. The increased demand for public land will create a fund applicable by Act of Parliament to emigration; and thus the creation of this fund will relieve the agricultural districts of the United Kingdom from the burden of maintaining a population outgrowing the means of employment on the land. But this is not the whole extent of the relief which you will receive. The emigration to the Colonies of a portion of the surplus hands, now burdensome to the parishes, will create in the Colonies an increased demand for British manufactures. This increased demand in our Colonies would afford additional employment for labour in the manufacturing towns, and afford consequently additional facilities for the migration thither of the surplus hands of the agricultural districts—a migration, be it observed, not liable on every derangement of the Foreign market to be forced back on the parochial funds for support. Without therefore, entering into the question, on which we might not agree, as to whether the free importation of Foreign corn would or would not aggravate the distress of the rural districts, we come to the conclusion, on the most unquestionable evidence, that the free importation of Australian corn would have a necessary tendency to remove it. Why, then, should you oppose me? I protest that when I look to the recent census returns, and observe the ratio at which the increase of the rural population of England exceeds the increase of the means for employing it on the land, and when I recall the abject misery, the obstacles to all social improvement, created in Ireland by the excessive subdivisions of holdings in that country—and then observe you, of whose intelligence I have no doubt, of whose humanity I have as little, combining to prevent the adoption of measures so obviously calculated to relieve the distress of agricultural labourers in both countries—I know not in what terms to express my mortification and amazement. Take another view of the question:—it will exhibit to you in a different, perhaps it may exhibit to your minds in a stronger light, the injustice and impolicy of your present conduct. You are denying to the Australian agriculturists advantages which, through the Canada Corn Bill, Parliament has indirectly, but at the same time most effectually, conceded to the agriculturists of the United States. There is no use in disguising the matter:—it is impossible to prevent smuggling along that extended line of frontier which divides the States from Canada—utterly impossible. In the course of this year you will see corn and flour, the produce of the United States, come into our market at nominal duties. As American corn finds its way into the British market, the demand for agricultural labour in the republic will be proportionably increased; and the tide of emigration which, under an enlightened system of Colonial policy, would flow towards our Australian settlements, will be directed to the United States. Will you persevere in a course of legislation the inevitable consequences of which will be to accelerate the progress of the United States, and retard the progress of the British Empire? You will do so if you vote against my proposition to-night. At the present moment the power of England greatly exceeds that of America; and if, from any deplorable infatuation, she were to provoke a maritime war, her mercantile marine would probably in a few weeks be swept from the ocean. But every year that passes alters the relative strength of the two countries. Already the population of the United States equals that of Great Britain. Continue, by partial and unjust Colonial legislation, to force the annual swarmings of our rural hives to settle in the American forests, and before thirty years have passed away—before the ordinary course of nature shall have swept from the earth many who now hear my voice—the population of the United States will have doubled the population of these Kingdoms. Where, then, will be our preponderance? Oh, the incurable perversity of human folly! When shall we begin to make a rational use of the mighty means which Providence has placed within our reach? When we shall have a Colonial Minister worthy of the name—a Statesman sagacious and capable enough to turn the direction of our overflowing capital and redundant labour towards the dependencies of the British Crown, and to raise up—as he may raise up in rapid progression—new Anglo-Saxon nations in Southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. This, then, Sir, is the case of the British settlers in Australia. I ask the House to concede to them the right of importing their grain into this country duty free—because it is a measure of justice and good government abundantly due to them—because it can now be conceded with grace, and can no longer be refused without disastrous consequences. Why should you refuse it? It will entail no sacrifice of our proper interests. On the contrary, "it is twice blessed—it blesseth him that gives and him that takes." To the Colonies it opens out a new avenue to prosperity and power—to this country it offers extension to commerce, a stimulus to manufactures, and relief to the suffering rural population; and, while its tendency will be to spread British colonization over the most distant regions of the globe, it will also unite and knit together the various dominions of our wide-spread Empire in the bonds of mutual interest and mutual good will. One word more, Sir, and I shall have accomplished a task which, however, easy it might have been in other hands, has been an arduous task to me. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, when on a late occasion recommending to the House the adoption of an important measure, pointed to a menacing cloud rising in the western horizon. There were persons who said that the right hon. Baronet was then acting under the influence of fear. In that opinion I never was a sharer. I gave my cordial and anxious support to the measure in question. I never believed that by adopting it you were influenced by any motives unworthy of your personal character and exalted station. But now see how the matter stands—and if not for your own fame, at least for the sake of those who ave risked everything to support you, let none of your future acts cast a doubt upon your late Irish policy. See, I say, how the matter rests. You found a formidable confederacy existing in Ireland against British connexion. America threatened you through the side of Ireland:—concessions were made. Canada was not long ago in a state of rebellion.:—concession in that quarter was also made. The noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department admitted that the reasons for adopting the Canada Corn Bill arose out of the circumstances of that rebellion. Now Australia has entered into no combinations—has uttered no menaces — has assumed neither an attitude of disaffection nor rebellion. On the contrary, the people of that Colony approach this House in the language of respectful, earnest, and humble petition. They supplicate the British Parliament that they may be admitted to equal rights and equal laws with their brother colonists in Canada. They await your reply. Will you venture to refuse them? Sir, the British nation will endure with constancy, superior, I entirely believe, to any other race of mankind, misfortune, danger, privation, and pain—the fact is attested by almost every shore and every sea of the globe. But there is one evil which they will not bear, and it is so recorded in memorable annals on both sides of the Atlantic—I mean injustice and oppression from their rulers. The hon. Member concluded by submitting the following Motion:— That this House do resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, for the purpose of considering the following Resolution: That it is expedient to permit Grain and Flour, the produce of Australasia, to be imported into the United Kingdom on payment of the same amount of Duty as is now levied on Grain and Flour the produce of Canada.

Sir W. James

rose to second the Motion, which had been brought forward in a manner, and supported by arguments, which did great credit to the hon. Mover. The concession, if made by Her Majesty's Government, would be perfectly in accordance with the Colonial policy of the Government, more particularly as instanced in the case of the late concession to the Canadas with respect to its exports of corn to the mother country. The boon was one demanded by justice; and he should not hesitate to say, that it would be worthy of the policy of this Government to unite this country and its Colonies into one zollverein, for the protection of mutual interests. The Colonists were always our best friends; and if we looked to them for favour, support, and protection, in return we must afford them the same. It might be thought that the seconder of the Motion ought to have entered into the question of agriculture and the Corn Laws, but he would not do so. All he asked for was a simple, straightforward act of justice.

Sir G. Clerk

said, the hon. Member for Gateshead was quite correct in anticipating that his Motion would be opposed; and although he gave a silent vote on the last occasion when the question was under discussion, he was not at all indisposed to state the reasons which induced him to give a decided negative to the proposition now under discussion. He thought the hon. Member had greatly exaggerated the benefits which he imagined the colonists of Australia would derive from the success of his Motion. He was well aware that during the last year the situation of the colonists had created great sympathy, and that the depreciation in the price of agricultural produce had reduced many to a state of insolvency. It was not unnatural for persons in their situation to apply through their Legislative Assembly to the Government of this country for the same reduction of duty which then attached to Colonial grain the produce of the Canadian Colonies. But he did not think that under any circumstances that trade was likely to be advantageous. The hon. Member said that the same anticipations were expressed with regard to the trade in wool, which had become a trade of very great importance; and the hon. Member said the Australian Colonies were unjustly treated last year by the removal of the small duty of 1d. upon the importation of foreign wool into this country. But if the hon. Member had read the next paragraph of Sir E. Wilmot's despatch, he would have found that the price of wool there had considerably increased. The price of wool in this country, instead of being depressed by the measure of the Government, had also greatly increased in price, and the Governor of New South Wales, in dismissing the Legislative Assembly, congratulated them, not only on the improvements in the value of produce generally, but more particularly in the price of wool. He did not think the trade in corn likely to be productive of the same advantage to the Colonies of New South Wales or Van Diemen's Land as the trade in wool, because the corn trade laboured under great and peculiar disadvantages. Samples of the finest quality of wheat had been brought from Van Diemen's Land, which realized 72s. per quarter in this country, and was rapidly bought up; but if hon. Members would look at some of the statements which had been put forth, they would see that the length of the voyage, and the exposure to damage from having to pass through the tropics, were great drawbacks. The charges amounted to about 20s. per quarter, consequently wheat never could be brought here as an advantageous article of trade, unless prices in this country should be considerably higher than they were at the present moment. He did not think that the proposal of the hon. Member would confer any substantial benefit on the Colonies. A great time must elapse before the colonists could receive any account of the state of the harvests in this country, and they would not have to contend with the high price arising from a deficient harvest, but their corn might arrive after the new wheat came into the market, and when there was a plentiful supply, and prices consequently low. By the latest accounts received from the Colony, dated in January, it appeared that the state of the average prices in England, of which they had then received intelligence, was 54s. 9d. Now, what would be the result if their corn reached this country in June, when the price was 45s. or 46s.? The price in Van Diemen's Land and South Australia was 3s. 6d. per bushel; so that with our prices their trade in corn could not be carried on with any profit. The remunerating price here was stated to be 55s. to 57s. Now, what would be the amount of duty? At 57s. the duty would be 2s., and at 58s., or more, the duty on Colonial wheat would be no more than 1s.—precisely the amount at which the hon. Member proposed to admit it. It would be asked, supposing no great quantity of wheat could be brought from the Colonies, what objection there could be to the present Motion? Although the hon. Member did attempt to throw some ridicule upon the settlement of the Corn Laws in 1842, he thought it would be exceedingly unwise constantly to be tampering with the duty on that article, in the growth of which so large a capital was invested. It might be asked why the Government, in 1843, made an alteration in the law which they had passed only twelve months before; but he thought his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies gave quite sufficient reasons for that measure, which he had taken to realize the expectations which the people of Canada had been induced to entertain. The Legislature of Canada imposed a duty of 3s. upon all American corn brought into Canada; and he must say he had heard with some surprise that smuggling in grain had taken place to a great extent along the Canadian frontier. No such information had reached the Government; and if the hon. Member would inquire into the quantity of flour brought from Canada last year, he would find that smuggling could not have taken place to any great extent, because the imports were not so large as they had been for some years before. His noble Friend, in bringing forward the measure in 1843, stated, that he proposed it in consequence of the engagement into which the Government had entered, and that he felt bound to do so as a man of honour. The case of Canada was considered an exception to the general rule; and upon that and subsequent occasions when his noble Friend was asked whether he intended to extend the measure to other Colonies, he stated that with respect to Canada, it rested upon special and peculiar grounds, which did not apply to any other Colony, and that it was not intended to apply to any other. The hon. Member did not propose any relaxation of the existing scale of duties with regard to the other North American Colonies, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, or Prince Edward's Island. He had even omitted the other Colonies which he last year took under his protection, so that he was far from proposing this as a general measure, and would only create another anomaly in the legislation of this country. The measure at this moment could not be beneficial to those Colonies. Although Van Diemen's Land might export a considerable quantity of grain, the Australian Colonies did not raise a sufficient supply of grain for themselves. The hon. Member might have quoted the importations into New South Wales during the last three years from the Paper which had been laid on the Table. During these years it appeared that although they imported 25,000 quarters from Van Diemen's Land, they imported nearly 38,000 from Valparaiso, and a considerable quantity from Calcutta. Considering these facts, he did not think the hon. Member had made out such a case as would induce the House to alter the present Corn Laws. Although the alteration would have no material effect on prices in this country, the House should recollect how sensitive the agriculturists were with regard to any measure calculated to effect an alteration in the price of corn. A considerable panic had been created by the alterations proposed by the Government with respect to many other articles of produce; and such an alteration as that proposed by the hon. Member would necessarily create a very great degree of alarm amongst the agriculturists of this country. Where no sufficient reason had been shown for the proposed alteration, any change, however small, would create a want of confidence in the existing law, and prevent the embarkation of capital in the necessary improvement of land. The alarm created amongst the agricultural classes by the adoption of such a proposition, would far exceed any benefit which could be conferred on the colonists in New South Wales; and on these grounds he should oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead.

Mr. Labouchere

said, he opposed the Canada Corn Bill when it was introduced, and subsequent reflection had not altered his opinion with respect to that measure. He thought then and now that it was undesirable to raise up protected interests, in regard to corn, in British America. He believed the time would come when certain extensive alterations must be made, and he feared lest the interests raised up by artificial protection would only lead to subsequent disappointment and ruin. These were his reasons for objecting to the Canada Corn Bill. He also felt that other British Colonies would ask to be put on the same footing with Canada, and that it would be impossible for Parliament to refuse any such request. Though he should support the Motion, he was not insensible to the evils of extending a system which he believed to be unwise and inexpedient. But he had only a choice of difficulties, and when he saw the Australians coming forward, and by the despatches of their Governors, and resolutions of their Legislative Council, asking to be put on a footing with their fellow Colonists, he knew not on what ground he could refuse to accede to their request. The Vice President of the Board of Trade argued the question in a singular manner. He said the Colonists mistook their own interests, and that if their request were granted, they could send no corn here of any consequence. Then he was obliged to find some reason for refusing their request. And what was that reason? "Trifling as this is, I am afraid of alarming the agriculturists by acceding to your proposal." Having said that no man of sense or intelligence could believe that any considerable quantity of corn could come in from Australia, he did not pay a very high compliment to the good sense and intelligence of the agriculturists of Great Britain, in saying, almost in the same breath, that he refused to allow that small quantity to come in lest they should take alarm at the measure. He (Mr. Labouchere) quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that we ought not to be continually tampering with commercial laws of this description. Such changes were calculated to produce derangement and uncertainty in the affairs of commercial men; but these observations did not apply to the measure before the House. No man engaged in the corn trade could believe that the proposed change could materially affect their interests. His great objection to the present Corn Law was, that it was a system that could not last. Nobody whose interests were affected by it, believed it could last. It produced all the evils of constant change, while there were inherent in it many other evils under which the country was suffering. He did not profess to believe that any very great advantages to the Colonies would result from the passing of the proposed measure; but on the other hand, he was of opinion that that which might not be much to grant, might be much to refuse. He thought, when the Australians asked to be put on the same footing as the Canadians, we ought to be able to give a better reason for refusing what we admitted to be a just request, than that assigned by the right hon. the Vice President of the Board of Trade, namely, that we were afraid of alarming the nerves of the agriculturists. On this ground, he should vote for the Motion.

Captain Rous

said, that the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead appeared to him so just, so sensible, and so consistent with the decision which the House had already arrived at in reducing the duties on Canadian wheat, that he could not conceive it possible for any Member who voted for the former proposal to turn short round and record his vote against the present proposal. Intimately connected as he was with the county of Suffolk—a purely agricultural district—if he really thought that the agricultural interests of that county would be injured by the free introduction of wheat from the Australian Colonies, he should be the last man to advocate the measure; but if Parliament thought it just and desirable to admit Canadian corn on favourable terms—if from a country into which American flour and wheat could be smuggled to any amount—if from Colonies inhabited by a mixed population of Indians, Americans, and Frenchmen, one-third of whom would as soon be under the Yankee stripes or the tricolour as the union jack,—if from Colonies where rebellion had often reared its head, and which had cost the mother country millions, England had relaxed her protectional duties on wheat; how much more reason existed for acceding to the petitions of their fellow countrymen in the Australian Colonies, where no foreign wheat could be smuggled, where the blood of the British nation was unmixed, where loyally and affection to Great Britain were inherent in their hearts, and where the cry of rebellion had never been heard? He begged the House, therefore, not to damp the natural affections of that Colony to the mother country by an act of injustice, nor to wait till they showed symptoms of discontent, before it showed a disposition to appease them by concessions of tardy justice. A friend of his, a great merchant in the city, who traded solely with the Australian Colonies, had given him the following information on the subject under consideration:—For many years the Australian colonists could not export above 20,000 quarters of corn, whereas it was now taken as ballast by ships which were laden with wool, and brought home at an expense of 20s. per quarter. South Australian wheat was, at present, 3s. 3d. per bushel, and at Van Diemen's Land 3s. 9d. The freight between Canada and Great Britain was from 10s. to 12s. per quarter; whereas, ships to go out from England to Australia in ballast, in order to bring home a cargo of wheat, could not make it answer under 28s. The Australian wheat was of an extraordinary quality, and much prized by the English millers, owing to its peculiar hardness, which enabled them to grind damp English wheat by admixture with this article. It was impossible that the English market could ever be materially affected by the quantity; for it must be shipped in bags instead of in bulk, as otherwise, from the length of the voyage, averaging 120 days, the wheat would heat and spoil; and he wished it to be borne in mind that the freight was double the amount charged on Canadian wheat, the distance being as 16,000 miles to 3,500; therefore there was no reason why Australian wheat should pay a greater duty than Canadian wheat; but there was every valid reason why it should pay a smaller duty, or, in real good faith and good sense, it should pay no duty at all. The hon. and gallant Member stated that he conceived the Colonies to be part and parcel of the mother country, that they were like members of a large family, who to be attached to the parent must be treated equally, and gratified with the same indulgences as other branches of the family, and by whom, it ought to be borne in mind, any difference in favour or affection was sure to be repaid with bitter jealousy and discontent. He had often thought that Providence had in its wise dispensations infused into all nations a spirit of bigotry and selfishness which defeated its own object; and in the case of England that spirit, he thought, weighed down the energies of this mighty Empire. If in former times England had incorporated her Colonies as integral parts of the Empire, and allowed them to send Representatives to the Imperial Parliament, at this moment the British dominions would have extended to the confines of Mexico, and the United States of America would have been the United States of Great Britain. It was never too late to amend; justice, kindness, and good faith would firmly attach the Australian Colonies; but if England acted on a different policy, if she sacrificed their interests to pander to the exactions of her American Colonies, she would engender ill will and hatred, and break one link in the chain which bound the Australian emigrants to their mother country.

Mr. M. Gibson

said, that the hon. and gallant Member had taken a very sound view of the question before the House, and knowing how much that hon. Member was looked up to and respected by the agriculturists of Suffolk, he felt persuaded that the course which he had stated it to be his intention to take on the present occasion, and the reasons by which he had vindicated it, would have the effect of quieting those alarms which the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir G. Clerk) felt so much anxiety about. He could not, however, help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade was a little premature in his declaration of hostility to his hon. Friend's measure; and he had hoped, and he still did continue to hope, that the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government would give his assent to the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead. Such a course of proceeding would not be unusual nor unprecedented; for when the hon. Member for Lambeth brought forward a Motion for a slight modification of the Sugar Duties Bill, the right hon. Baronet opposite, the present Vice President of the Board of Trade, rose and gave a precipitate negative to his hon. Friend's proposal, whilst the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Treasury almost immediately afterwards rescinded the determination expressed by his Colleague, and the proposition was subsequently carried. He hoped that course would be again pursued on the present occasion. The arguments of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Clerk) were of a most extraordinary character. They might be official arguments. They might, for ought he knew, be arguments drawn forth from their concealment in the pigeon holes of the Board of Trade, which his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton had once alluded to. But they were not reasons, still less did they afford any grounds for the course which the right hon. Baronet had intimated his determination to take. The idea which the right hon. Baronet had expressed of the necessity for keeping out Australian corn, because none would come in, appeared to him most absurd. If, again, to advert to another of the right hon. Baronet's arguments, some ignorant and prejudiced persons who frequented a market ordinary, expressed their alarms at the prospect of Australian corn coming in, or at a change in the Corn Laws—alarms which the right hon. Baronet himself admitted were unfounded in any reasonable cause — surely such a circumstance could not, with any propriety be alleged as a reason to the Members of that House for altering the course of their legislation. If such persons would be unnecessarily alarmed, why let them be so; but do not urge their groundless and absurd fears as reasons for not doing that which was just, politic, and beneficial to the Empire. He recollected very well a case almost similar to the present. When there had been a groundless clamour raised against some recent measure of the Government, the right hon. Baronet opposite said, that if people would entertain an alarm for which no real cause existed, they must continue to do so—he could not prevent the folly of alarm, and he was prepared to take the consequences, and to pass the measure in spite of them. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government must see that it was not only for the benefit of the Colonies, but of the whole Empire, that corn from the Colonies of Great Britain should be admitted free from duty. One of the arguments used by the right hon. Baronet the Vice President of the Board of Trade had appeared to him so strange, and of so odd a character, that he could not help adverting particularly to it. The right hon. Baronet said he could not agree to the Motion of his hon. Friend, because it was not large enough in its terms, or, in other words, because he did not propose to admit corn duty free from all the Colonies of Great Britain. That certainly did sound very strange as an argument against the present Motion. For his own part he would not only have a free trade in corn with the British Colonies, but with the whole world, if he could get it. But he would take now as much as was offered. He certainly did agree in a sentiment which had been expressed by a right hon. Gentleman, a former President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Labouchere), when he said that if a free trade in corn was conceded to the British Colonies, there would be some danger of making them partners in the monopoly of corn enjoyed by the agriculturists at home, and consequently opponents of all further change; but then he thought that this danger was counterbalanced by the advance that such a step would be in the direction of free trade. He was for getting all he could in the shape of removing restrictions on the supply of food for the people. He was for getting food from every possible source. He would accept of every concession which tended to remove the restrictions on the importation of commodities or the necessaries of life, and although, by agreeing to the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, the House might run the risk of rendering the Australian Colonies the opponents of any future alterations in the Corn Laws, still that consideration ought not, in his opinion, to have any weight; and for his own part he was ready to take the chances of such an occurrence, convinced that every step which was made towards a relaxation of the corn monopoly was a step towards the completion of the views which he entertained—namely, an unrestricted trade in corn. If the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) would not accede to the Motion of his hon. Friend, he hoped he would explain to the House the advantages which, in his opinion, resulted from keeping out Australian corn. It appeared a very natural demand, on the part of the colonists, that they should be allowed to sell their grain in the best market; and it was incumbent on those who denied it to them, to show to demonstration what was the advantage to the United Kingdom of maintaining such a restriction. They were often told of the necessity of planting Colonies, in order to afford a field for our manufactures; but how could it be expected that our manufactures would find such a field if we refused take the products of those Colonies? He would implore the House not to proceed to such a course of folly and injustice, as would be the consequence of rejecting the Motion of his hon. Friend.

Mr. Darby

said, that when the Canada Bill was brought forward it was stated that it had been introduced on speific grounds, and that the other Colonies were not to expect a similar measure, inasmuch as they stood in a totally different situation. He thought the present proposal was a sort of a much ado about nothing. He could not understand what the colonists were asking for. The hon. and gallant Officer below him (Captain Rous) had read a letter to show that the colonists could not export more than 20,000 quarters. But, perhaps, the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the question, looked forward to the time when corn could be shipped from Hutt's River to this country. He sincerely hoped that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would not assent to the proposition. They were told that only a small quantity of wheat could be imported from Australia; and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Labouchere) had deprecated frequent changes in questions of this nature. Both of these arguments were good arguments against the present proposal. The constant tampering with the Corn Laws would unsettle men's minds, and would inevitably lead to the withdrawal of capital from the cultivation of the soil. At the present moment the greatest improvements were taking place in the agriculture of this country, and in no long period a much larger quantity of corn would be produced than there was at the present moment. Even were the trade in corn free, he did not believe that the price of corn would be steadier than it would be under the present Corn Law, if it were not tampered with. The Canada Corn Bill was introduced under peculiar circumstances; and he could not believe that the Government would yield on the present occasion. He did not think there was any danger of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government being led away by the persuasive manner and mischievous principles of the hon. Member for Manchester. Looking at the price of corn, he did not see why the hon. Member should have brought forward his Motion at the present moment. ["Hear, hear!'] Hon. Gentlemen cried "hear," but he begged to remind them that there were other parties than the agriculturists who clung to the system of protection. It was in fact quite true what Mr. Huskisson had said, that no person was a free trader in the article in which he dealt. So long as corn was produced in this country in large quantities, so long would they have an equal price; but if capital were withdrawn from agriculture, and if they were to depend on corn from abroad, they would have an unequal price, and the trade of the country would be seriously injured. He did not despair but that he might see the hon. Member for Sheffield coming round in his opinions, and acknowledging that it was not so much owing to any measures introduced by the Government that the increase in the revenues of this country took place, as to a succession of good harvests, and protection was a means of securing such a wished-for result. The hon. Member for Stockport, however, was to get up a model farm—perhaps its expense was to be defrayed by some of the receipts of the new bazaar. But one of his arguments about getting improved machinery might be very easily answered. The hon. Member said, that no manufacturer would be behindhand for three months in any improvements that might be introduced in machinery. Now, the reason of that was obvious; for the improvement in machinery, by its increased powers of production, brought in an immediate and profitable return for the capital expended. The case, however, was very different where the return upon capital laid out was not available for seven or eight years. The hon. Member concluded by announcing his intention of opposing the Motion then before the House.

Mr. F. T. Baring

considered this was a question of justice to one of the Colonies. They were bound to deal with their Colonial possessions on principles of equality. They had given certain privileges to Canada, and could not refuse to grant the same when demanded by another Colony. He had contended against the grant of those privileges to the Canadians, but the moment they were given to the Canadians the principle was admitted, and we could not injustice deny to others what we had allowed to them. The Vice President of the Board of Trade objected to the Motion, because it was not extended to all the other Colonies; he admitted the principle as applicable to all; but he thought his hon. Friend had exercised a wise discretion in confining it to Australia, because that Colony had asked for the concession. They had repeated expressions of opinion from the colonists in request of the measure, as well from the Legislative Council as from the inhabitants, under the sanction of the Governor's approbation. The colonists preferred their prayer in the most respectful manner, and the House could not in justice slight it. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had represented this as a matter of very small importance, and the measure as likely to be productive of little advantage to the Colony. That was a new importation from Peebles, a new official argument. He admitted that probably at first they would have a very small importation of corn, and that it would be of comparatively little importance with reference to English interests. The Australians might rely on the language used by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies in reference to the Canada Bill, that though it might be a very small boon for us to give, it was a great point for the Colony to receive. The importation might amount to but a few thousand quarters, but it was of great consequence to the colonists to have a market for the disposal of their surplus produce. It was said that this would interfere with the settlement of the Corn Law. Talk of the settlement of that question, indeed! But, if they really regarded that question as settled, it only made the matter worse. He could understand a Minister saying that it was not worth while to interfere in a case where the present state of things would only continue for a few years; but if it were finally settled, and they yet declined to apply any remedy, what was this but telling the colonists that the injustice was to last for ever? He would not agitate the agricultural mind by suggesting alarms, but it was said this change would produce inconvenience. Was that an argument? A Colony asked for justice, and the answer was that it would be inconvenient to do it justice. He admitted it was very often inconvenient to do justice; but was it likely that parties who believed themselves unequally and unjustly dealt with, would be satisfied with such an answer as that? It might be convenient to do justice to a larger and more powerful Colony, and inconvenient to do it to one less so; but justice was still justice, and if you did not do it to-day, you must do it to-morrow. Nay, he felt assured that they would do it, from the symptoms he observed on the other side of the House, where some hon. Members had determined to take the line pointed out by justice. Then there was another answer, Canada, he was told, was given this boon in consequence of a promise; but who made the promise? Was that our answer to parties complaining of injustice? The reply of those parties was, "You have given to Canada privileges which we, reckoning on your sense of fair dealing, ask you to give to us." Saying that it was a promise to Canada, was nothing to satisfy the minds of the Australians. An implied promise, he must say, was made when the Legislature gave a privilege to one Colony, that it would not refuse that privilege to any other Colony that asked for it. The argument against granting this measure to Canada was, that it would be the means of encouraging a long line of smuggling; but there was no such danger in the case of Australia. A long line of smuggling might demoralize the Colony. Then they were told, with regard to Canada, that though the Legislature was giving this advantage to Canada nominally, yet it was, in fact, being given to America. That, he admitted, was not an unfair argument; but here there was no such danger. The principle upon which they were called upon to act was that of doing justice to the Colonies. There was, however, one very important argument which Canada had, but which New South Wales had not. Canada was the neighbour of a restless Power. Canada had just settled down from a state of rebellion. Canada was a powerful Colony. Those who were present at the debate at that period would recollect the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The noble Lord warned the House not to trifle with a great and powerful Colony; and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government also mentioned the state of Canada as one of the great grounds for the House conceding the measure to Canada. He (Mr. Baring) would not deny that those were good and sound arguments for the right hon. Gentleman to urge, whether the measure itself was right or not. But he (Mr. Baring) would say that the absence of those circumstances was not to be used as an argument against Australia. There was no danger there. The people of those Colonies had ever been loyal and true, and would be so; and he felt assured that the House would not consider it as an argument against giving them the same privileges as they had given to others.

Mr. J. S. Wortley

said, that if he could think that by voting for the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead he should be paying a debt of justice to Australia, he would have as little hesitation as the right hon. Member for Portsmouth in supporting the Motion, But he (Mr. Wortley) thought the Colonies of Canada and of Australia were, with respect to this question, placed in very different circumstances. The grounds on which the Canada Corn Bill of 1843 was supported were, that Canada was a province lying adjacent to an extensive corn-growing country, and that care should be taken that, while our Colonial produce was admitted on easy terms, the favour should not extend to the foreign article, for which it was not intended, by the introduction of American flour into the province, and its reshipment thence to England, on the same terms as if it had been the growth of the province. Under the old law, the average duty paid on wheat imported from Canada had been 2s. 6d. a quarter; and there was no restriction against the foreign article from the United States entering England viâ Canada on the same terms; but by the new Canada Corn Law, while the Canadian article was admitted at the low duty of 1s. a quarter, the province was required, on the other hand, to affix a duty of 3s. on all wheat coming over her frontier from the United States. The result of this was, that though an alteration had been made from a sliding scale to a fixed duty, the average duty paid by American corn viâ Canada was much lower than under the former law. Now, if corn from Australia were to be admitted on the terms proposed by the hon. Member for Gates-head, it ought to come on the same terms from all parts of Australasia. But the hon. Gentleman did not propose to make these Colonies, like Canada, impose a duty of 3s. on the importation of foreign wheat. He (Mr. Wortley) would himself reprobate any such restrictions, especially with respect to an infant country, unless where peculiar circumstances existed, as in the case of Canada and of East India sugar. He was not prepared to deny his belief that it would be better for England if the Corn Laws had never existed—though the difficulty of dealing with interests that had grown up under the protective system was very different from the opinion that might be entertained as to the original policy of its establishment. But, in reference to the merits of the immediate question, he begged to remind the House that corn from Chili was, some time ago, very near being introduced into England in very considerable quantities, after payment of the foreign duty; and Chili was not so far removed from these particular Colonies as to make it impossible that wheat should not be imported thence into these Colonies, and from thence brought to England at the 1s. duty. He had no apprehension that corn could thus enter in quantities that would be at all injurious to British agriculture; but he wished the House to remember that, by acceding to the proposal of the hon. Member for Gateshead, they would be giving to the people of Canada a fair pretence for saying, you require us to impose 3s. duty on the wheat we procure from the United States; you do not require Australia to do this, therefore, you do not put us on equal terms. If the question were in his opinion simply one of justice to Australia, no commercial considerations could induce him to withhold it, and he might even have been disposed to say that the people of Australia, who had been so consistently loyal and orderly, possessed the superior claim. But the one valid argument which he considered conclusive against the hon. Member's Motion was, that the respective positions of the two Colonies were by no means strictly analogous—that the hon. Member's proposal would go to confer on Australia a favour which, after all, had not been substantially conferred on Canada, and would enable the people of Canada to put in claims for more concessions in order to equalize the Colonies.

Mr. Bright

said, the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat concluded his speech by saying that with these views he should, however reluctantly, give his vote against the measure. But what the views of the hon. Gentleman were, he could not in any way find out. He thought he might, without running much risk, say, that nine out of ten of those hon. Members who had heard that speech were unable to say, distinctly, what the views of the hon. Gentleman were upon this question. He (Mr. Bright) always watched the rising of that hon. Member, because he wished to learn what was the sort of speech he intended to make; for although he confessed that, as a rule, he found the greatest difficulty to tell, while hearing the speech of the hon. Gentleman, what opinion he had formed upon the subject under discussion, yet he had not the smallest difficulty in telling which way the hon. Gentleman would vote. From the hon. Gentleman's speech of to-night, it would appear that his faith had been very much shaken. He did not expect that the hon. Gentleman's speech would give much satisfaction to the large party whom he was supposed to represent. The hon. Gentleman had said that it would have been as well, if not better, if the Corn Laws had never existed; yet he concluded by expressing a wish to nurse these infant Colonies in Australia by the introduction of a law in corn. His hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) had very happily described the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Vice President of the Board of Trade; and the hon. Member for Suffolk (Mr. Darby) had come forward as his commentator, and he should say, that the commentator was worthy of the text. From the speeches which had been made on both sides of the House, he was enabled to gather this fact, that the real ground of opposition to the present Motion was an indisposition to make any further change in the laws affecting the importation of corn, the impression being that such change might have some dangerous effect upon the agricultural mind. He wished to know what that agricultural mind was, or rather what this alarm was which was to form the guiding principle for legislation by that House. Some years ago the East India Compan contemplated importing from India an article known by the name of "cutch," which was used for purposes of tanning. The agricultural mind of that day was alarmed least it should interfere with the sale and price of their bark; and they intimated to some Members connected with the East India Company, that they had better not attempt to introduce "cutch," or the agricultural interest might keep a sharp look-nut the next time the East India Company's charter came to be considered by the Legislature. Then in the case of the reduction of the duty on wool in 1824, a state of alarm in the agricultural mind was exceedingly prevalent; and yet the result showed that there was not a single thing to justify that alarm. Again, in 1842, when the right hon Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) altered the Corn Law, great alarm was felt by the agricultural mind; but there had not since been any proof that such alarm was well founded. So, in respect to the reduction of duty on cattle, that created great alarm in the agricultural mind; yet he thought the agriculturists would them- selves admit that they still received a very fair price for their cattle. Again; the Canada Corn Bill created a great panic; and yet the returns showed that there had been larger importations of Canadian corn into this country before the passing of that Act, than had taken place in any year since. The article of wool last year became again the subject of alarm, by the Government abolishing the duty altogether. Certain individuals thought it would be injurious to the woolgrowers of this country and the Australian Colonies; and yet it was now unanimously allowed that the abolition of that duty had done no harm either to one interest or the other. He should like to know, then, how long this alarm of the agricultural mind—an alarm certainly created because that mind was not much enlightened upon questions of geography or of political economy—but he should like to know how long this ignorant alarm was to be brought forward in Parliament, either in support of measures which were decidedly bad, or in opposition to measures that were decidedly good? The question which the House ought to decide was, whether it was more important that the alarm of the agricultural interest should by no means be excited, or that the bread-eaters of the country should be allowed to obtain bread from every part of the world. He believed that the present state of the agricultural interest of this country illustrated the line of the poet, and that— Its strength was weakened by its very limping. It had to come so often to Parliament for help that it did not know its own power. He would say to them—"Take off your bandages, and form a just estimate of your own strength." He rejoiced that two hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches — the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Captain Rous) and the hon. Member for Hull (Sir W. James) — had spoken in favour of this question. He was glad to see this, and to see that parties were breaking down, and that, instead of hon. Members being led by one man on this side of the House, or by one man on that side of the House, they were anxious to judge of each measure by its own merits. He did not wish to overrate the importance of the present Motion; but he should vote for it, because it proposed a measure in the right direc- tion, and he was ever ready to accept everything that would tend in any degree to benefit the people.

Mr. A. S. O'Brien

commenced by observing, that it was not a little extraordinary the hon. Gentleman should not have adhered to his own maxim of arguing the question on its own merits. Instead of sticking to the immediate argument, the hon. Gentleman had gone back several years, and introduced almost every item whereon they (the agricultural party) had happened to differ from him. The hon. Member, in endeavouring to prove how often the agricultural mind had deluded itself with unfounded alarms, had referred to the importation of cutch from India, which the hon. Member declared had frightened the agricultural mind into the idea that it would lower the price of their bark. Now he was reminded by this that the agricultural mind was not the only one that had at times been affected with such fears. The cotton mind had been harassed with unfounded fears. The cotton trade sent up a deputation to Government ex-presing apprehensions of the injury they would sustain by the importation of cotton from India. Their apprehensions were not attended to; their remonstrances met with resistance; all restrictions were removed, and no evil consequences had followed. It did not follow from this that the removal of restrictions would in no instance be attended by evil; but they might read a lesson in the circumstance teaching them to view the bearings of great measures, not in reference to theories, or hard and cruel dogmas, but to view them in reference to the various practical circumstances that must guide all who wished to be sound statesmen. He, in reply to some of the taunts thrown out against the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, must say he considered that the right hon. Gentleman was not at all pledged, either by the Canada Corn Bill or any of his measures, to resist, or not to propose, any subsequent modification in them. He had ever protested against immediate and unconditional free trade; but it was not, he believed, the first or second time he had stated that if called on to pledge himself against any future modification whatever of these acts, he would, by compliance with such a call, be departing from justice and common sense as widely, but not more so, than if, without reference to the complex state of society, he had declared that the law should be immediately repealed. Now, in reference to the question immediately before them, the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster had referred to a letter which the hon. and gallant Member said came from an experienced merchant in Australia, in which the writer stated that not more than 20,000 quarters of wheat could be annually exported from the country; but Governor Grey's despatch stated in opposition to this, that from one quarter alone of that great continent more than five times twenty thousand quarters could annually, without difficulty, be brought into the English market. It was no wonder, therefore, that farmers should experience much doubt or difficulty as to the practical operations of the measure. The new Corn Law and the Canada Corn Law had not yet been fairly tested by practical experience; and while he certainly had not understood his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade to bind himself against all future modification, he believed the whole country would appreciate the wisdom of Government for refusing to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead. As a specimen of some of the opinions held by the people of Australia, he might here refer to an extract from the Colonial Observer of June last. The import of the extract was that New South Wales was essentially a pastoral country—that they said nothing about measures affecting the grain trade; but that to touch or to tamper with their wool-growing interests was, indeed, to smite them under the fifth rib. When he saw it thus stated in the public press that this measure would be no boon to them—when it was stated by the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster that not more than twenty thousand quarters would be imported—and when they knew besides that from recent agricultural changes the agricultural mind of this country was in a very unsettled state—he did not conceive that the Australians would consider that this country had acted unfairly or unjustly towards them if they refused at the present moment to accede to the proposition of the hon. Member for Gateshead. He hoped that that hon. Member would explain to the House, not why he had excluded Nova Scotia from his proposition, but why, having moved for papers on this subject in connexion with India, he had not included that country in his Motion as well as Australia. If they were to enter into the question at all, let them enter into it as a whole. The right hon. Member for Portsmouth said this was a measure of justice. Well, but he often found that this piecemeal method of doing justice led to substantial injustice. It might have been wise and prudent in them to take up the question of the Colonies before they took up the question of the Corn Laws; but it was now too late to do so; and however Australia might value the support of those who supported the Corn Laws, he did not think they would thank those who were Corn Law repealers; for it was clear that, in the event of the Corn Laws being repealed, the Australian Colonies, with a freight of 20s. upon the importation of their corn, could not compete with the corn-growing countries of Europe. He thought the right hon. Member for Stamford had acted wisely in the course he had pursued on this occasion; and while he did not think they ought to pledge themselves to refuse inquiry into the agriculture and the agricultural commerce of the Colonies hereafter, he would, on the present occasion, support the Government in opposition to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Ward

referred to the immense admissions made on the other side in the course of this debate, especially by the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. S. Wortley), who had said that it would have been much better for the country had the Corn Laws never been enacted. On this point alone he had been clear; and on others his views were so obscure and clouded, that it was not wonderful that the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright), in endeavouring to follow him, had wandered from the immediate question into the general subject of the Corn Laws. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. S. O'Brien) had stated that the cotton mind had been once needlessly alarmed. This was true; but its alarm had produced no effect. The cotton mind did not assemble its forces in the rear of the Minister of the day, consequently it had not been listened to, and it was left to get over its fears as well as it could. The hon. Member had also said that he would not pledge himself to an eternal refusal of justice; he was satisfied with a refusal of justice at the present moment; and year after year, when the justice of any claim was made as apparent as now, he would have an opportunity of assuring the House that he was not for eternal injustice, but thought that the time for a remedy had not yet arrived. It seemed, according to that hon. Member, that the agricultural mind was at present in an unsettled condition—in a state of doubt and flutteration; and for this reason he would not yet listen to the claims of Australia. Would he listen to them next year? Another point he had urged was, that the question was too narrow; that it embraced only one Colony; that the Motion asked too little. This might be called a Peebles-shire sort of argument. The boon required ought not to have been confined to one Colony; it was too insignificant a matter; it was not like a huge grant of 26,000l. in one sum, or the Peebles-shire mode of arguing might have been got rid of altogether. The hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire had talked about noxious and injurious supplies of corn: while the population was rapidly augmenting every day it did not seem exactly the fittest time to speak of importations of corn as noxious and injurious. He (Mr. H. G. Ward) recollected the time when the opposite side of the House was eternally lauding ships, colonies, and commerce. Colonies were then to be admitted to a large share of the protection enjoyed by some interests at home; but now it appeared as if only those Colonies were to be favoured which grew nothing that could be brought into competition. Coffee, cotton, or sugar, might be admitted; but the moment they produced corn for export their produce was to be strictly excluded. Seeing the present temper of the other side of the House, he could not but wonder how the Canadian Corn Bill had been permitted to slip through Parliament. He was happy to be able to tell hon. Members that the predictions he had made were likely to be completely fulfilled; for preparations were making for an extensive trade in corn from the United States through Canada. Such was the prospect, and hon. Members sitting behind the Prime Minister did not dare to ask him to repeal the Act, however noxious and injurious, as well as abundant, might be the importations under it. It was all very well for some of them to talk of such a thing to their constituents two or three hundred miles off, but they could not talk of it in the House of Commons. It had been proposed and passed by the Government of the right hon. Baronet, because the Canadians made it very intelligible that their contiguity to the United States might render it expedient to conciliate; and what an ex- ample did this course set to Australia? Sooner or later, what was now asked must be conceded; not this year, perhaps, as the hon. Member for Northampton had said, but whether it took two or three years to force the claims of justice on the House, they must in time be heard, and the hon. Member for Gateshead, by persevering in his Motion, would at length shame his opponents into compliance. The time had not yet arrived, but it would unquestionably arrive, and then the right hon. Baronet, according to his wont, would step forward and say—"It is no longer possible to resist these demands founded upon such plain and obvious truths, and the agricultural mind, like the cotton mind, must be prepared to abandon its foolish apprehensions; party or class interests cannot now be regarded, and we must consult the benefit of the great body of the Queen's subjects, by granting what is required by Australia." The right hon. Baronet would not use such language to-night: he did not look as if he would; but he must use it ere long. He might balance for a year or two longer between right and wrong; but the hon. Member for Gateshead might feel assured that his Motion was virtually carried.

Sir R. Peel

said: Sir, I cannot think the hon. Member who has just sat down has taken a course very likely to induce hon. Members on this side, who might be wavering in their views on this question, to give their votes in favour of the present proposition. Other hon. Members who have preceded him on that side have said that the apprehensions respecting the introduction of Canadian corn were groundless. The hon. Member expects the free importation of American corn through Canada, without payment of duty. Other Gentlemen who preceded him have assuaged the alarm felt on this side, and have invited their support at the present moment on the ground that their apprehensions with respect to Canadian corn are entirely unfounded. The hon. Member, addressing himself to this side of the House, expresses his satisfaction that his anticipations will be entirely realised, and that an immense importation will take place into this country, not of Canadian corn, but of American corn smuggled into Canada, and avoiding the duty. [Mr. Ward: I did not say smuggled.] The hon. Member seemed to think that all precautionary regulations would be vain to prevent the introduction of American corn. [Mr. Ward: I said that with their growing trade the corn would come in in spite of you.] I believe the hon. Member's anticipations are in reality unfounded, and that the statements of those who have previously told the House that there is no great need for alarm on account of the importation of wheat or flour from Canada, are much more likely to correspond with the fact. Sir, it is certainly my intention to give my vote in opposition to the proposal of the hon. Member for Gateshead. There are two other propositions which are to be made in the course of the present Session on the subject of the Corn Laws: there is the proposal for their total repeal, and there is also the proposal, which is to be discussed in the course of about a fortnight, on the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, to this effect:— That the present corn law tends to check improvement in agriculture, produces uncertainty in all farming speculations, and holds out to the owners and occupiers of lands prospects of special advantage which it fails to secure; that this House will take the said laws into consideration, with a view to such cautious and deliberate arrangements as may be most beneficial to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. We are, therefore, to have a discussion on the absolute repeal of the law, and we are also to have a discussion on the policy of making an alteration in the existing law, "coupled with those cautious and deliberate arrangements which may be most beneficial to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects." These two proposals are to be submitted to the consideration of the House; and not satisfied with the prospect of the very extensive question to be raised by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and by the more limited and cautious proposal of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, here is another proposal brought forward by the hon. Member for Gateshead, the effect of which is to admit the produce of one part of our Colonial Empire, and one part only, to privileges which another part of our Colonial Empire—namely, Canada, possesses. When in the year 1842, as the organ of the Government, I brought forward the question of the Corn Laws, an arrangement applicable to the introduction of all corn, whether Foreign or Colonial, was made by that law, which received the sanction of the House. Under that law, when wheat in this country was below a certain price, the maximum duly on Foreign corn was to be 20s. At the same time an arrangement was made which was thought beneficial to the Colonies as compared with the law previously existing, which imposed an amount of duty upon the importation of corn the produce of our Colonies the minimum of which was 1s., and the maximum 5s. Under the existing law when corn bears higher price than 58s., then in that case, Colonial corn, from whatever Colony it comes, might be brought in subject to a duty of 1s. The maximum of the duty on Colonial corn was 5s., as compared with 20s. upon Foreign corn, which was the maximum. Sir, I recollect that when that proposal was made on the part of Her Majesty's Government, it was objected to by many hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House as imposing a discriminating duty far too favourable to the Colonies. Many hon. Gentlemen stated, that they thought a higher duty should be imposed on Colonial as compared with Foreign. But many of those hon. Gentlemen who opposed the discriminating duty of 1842, who thought it would foster the Colonial at the expense of the Foreign trade, are now, however, prepared to support the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. They are prepared to incur the inconvenience of fostering these Colonial interests as compared with the Foreign, on the intelligible ground that considerations of justice should overbear considerations of policy, and that as they had given a certain boon to one Colony—namely, Canada, they ought now to give it to the others. Sir, as I view the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, I think that, notwithstanding the consideration he has given to the subject, perhaps to the exclusion of others, he has greatly exaggerated the advantages which it will confer upon the Colonies and upon the agricultural interest of this country. The hon. Gentleman says, that if you permit Australian corn to be brought in at a duty of 5s. when corn is at 58s., and at 1s. when corn is above that price, that the agricultural interest will derive indirectly a great benefit from the facilities of emigration, and thus getting rid of the surplus population, and that in consequence of the increased import of corn, there will be an additional amount of prosperity to the Australian Colonies as regards their agriculture. I think that by dwelling too much upon this point, he has overrated the importance of the measure both to this country and Australia. But it is said, that as Canada is in possession of this boon, even at the expense of some inconvenience, incurring, as we did, the censure of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have a great objection to discriminating duties, considerations of justice must now induce us to grant the same benefit to Australia. It is said that the Canada Corn Bill was proposed upon that ground, and as Canada is in possession of that privilege, we are bound by every principle of justice to extend it to Australia and our other Colonies. Sir, I wish to consider the question of whether or no considerations of justice do compel us to extend to Australia the same privilege as has been conferred on Canada. Sir, I beg to call the attention of the House to the position in which Canada was placed when this Corn Bill was introduced; I mean the commercial position, and the privileges to which Canada was entitled under the then existing law. At that time no duty was imposed in Canada upon wheat or flour imported into Canada from the United States, and at that time no duty was imposed in Canada on any wheat or flour imported from any part of the world, and Canada was at that time entitled to import flour into this country at a low Colonial rate of duty. Wheat, therefore, might before the Corn Law of 1842, be imported into Canada from the United States free of duty—might there be subjected to a manufacturing process, and then the flour produced from that American wheat might be brought into this country, not at the American but at the Canadian duty. Sir, this was stated very strongly by the people of Canada in a memorial presented to this House at the time of the discussion on the Canada Corn Bill. The petition of the President of the Quebec Board of Trade stated, that hitherto foreign wheat and flour had been permitted to be imported into that Colony free of duty—that by far the greater part of that corn had been again, after being converted into flour, exported to other countries. There was thus a distinct admission that the United States was likely to send in corn at a low rate of duty; for the greater part of that flour was the produce of American wheat, brought into Canada, and paying no duty whatever. The petitioners then stated, that the transport of such wheat and flour afforded the means of employment to many thousands of the population over their lakes and rivers to the extent of 3,000 miles; and that it gave employment to a large number of vessels in the intercolonial trade, the whole of such vessels being worked and manned by Her Majesty's subjects. The petitioners expressed alarm lest the trade might be interfered with in consequence of the proposed alteration in the law. They asked, at the same time, that their produce might be admitted at a nominal rate of duty. Now, Sir, what was the answer given by my noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies? A law was passed in 1842, applying to Canada as well as to all the other Colonial possessions of the country. My noble Friend said— I cannot consent to admit the produce of Canada at a low nominal duty into this country; but if you, for the first time, will impose a duty upon American wheat brought into Canada, I then will propose as part of the general arrangement of the Corn Laws, that Canadian Corn produce shall be admitted here at a duty of 1s. per quarter. Therefore, in the position of Canada, it was peculiar, and the arrangement made with that Colony was one which rested not on the political state of the Colony, but its particular position with respect to the trade it was carrying on. Sir, I must say, that no engagement made by this Government with Canada should stand in the way of substantial justice; but the engagements then entered into with it were in respect to the trade it was then carrying on in corn. Canada accepted the terms; and at the time the Bill was introduced passed a law imposing, for the first time, a duty of 3s. on American wheat, giving up the advantage it had previously enjoyed of bringing it in duty free; and it was then that the privilege was given to that Colony to import corn at a low rate of duty. Sir, we did not then extend it to the other North American Colonies. The question was put to us whether we would not extend it to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward's Island?—all of them being exporting Colonies. The answer then given was, that there was no such engagement respecting those Colonies, and that there was no intention to extend to them the same privileges. Sir, the hon. Gentleman now says, "As you have conceded these privileges to Canada, I call on you to give the same advantages to Australia." He calls on us to place Australia on the same footing. But, Sir, that is not the object of his Motion. His proposition is to admit Australian corn duty free. If Canadian corn be admitted duly free, without any tax being levied on American corn brought into Canada, then I am ready to admit that the position of Canada and Australia are identical. But that is not the case. When the hon. Gentleman proposes that Australian corn should be brought in here at a duty of 1s., he does not propose that there should be any corresponding obligation on that Colony to levy a duty on the foreign corn brought into it. Sir, I contend that the position of the two Colonies is substantially different. As my hon. Friend has said, if you permit Australian corn to be brought into this country duty free without imposing upon it the necessity of levying a duty upon Chilian corn, or corn the produce of any other Foreign possession brought into Australia, Canada will have a right to ask that Canadian corn be admitted duty free without continuing that duty on American corn which she imposed for the first time in 1842. Sir, in the last year the hon. Gentleman proposed that corn, the produce of the Indian Empire and the Cape of Good Hope, should have the same privileges conceded to it as was now sought for Australia. We then were not prepared to say, that it was wise or expedient to disturb the arrangement of 1842, or make it more extensive in its operation; but if I am compelled to entertain the question, I should say that I should rather consider the condition of the Colonies generally, than give to one the privileges, which under peculiar circumstances have been given to Canada. Sir, I think it better, once for all, if I have no other alternative, to decide the question as regards the whole of our Colonial possessions. I am not inviting the hon. Gentleman to make the proposal, but I think it is preferable to the one he is making now. I will venture to say that after the Motion of the hon. Gentleman shall have been carried, it will be impossible to rest there. That is your object. ["Hear."] You admit that? Your object, then, is not to do justice to a single Colony, but to bring in a measure which will involve the necessity of constant alterations in the Corn Law. Sir, an attempt has been made to gain support by saying that the measure is small and limited in its operation; but in the same breath it is said that the whole of the Colonies are entitled to have their claims taken into consideration. If that be so, we are entitled to know the full extent of the measure. The hon. Gentleman says other Colonies have not asked for this boon; but I say they have. If you pass this measure, how can you resist the demands of India? Why should we not include India? India has asked for the same privilege, and stands in the same position as Australia. So soon as this Bill shall have received the Royal Assent, then the hon. Gentleman will come forward, either this Session or next, claiming for India precisely the same concessions. The hon. Gentleman says he did not say that. [Mr. Hutt: I distinctly stated that I meant to try the whole question.] Surely, then, if the hon. Gentleman means to try the whole question, he will admit to me that instead of passing this Bill for Australia, and endeavouring to get the consent of the House by telling them that it is a small and limited measure, and that the agriculturists need not be under any alarm—that their apprehensions are without foundation—that his course is not very intelligible. When he says, that he intends to try the whole question, and having passed this measure, that he intends to ask the House to pass others, I cannot understand why he limits the proposition to the Colony of Australia. Sir, the East India Company have preferred the same claim; and why should we not apply the same principle to the one as to the other? Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to fix a duty of 3s. upon all corn imported into British India? With respect to the Colonies of North America, I am not at all clear that it would be to their advantage that that duty should be applied to the corn imported into them, in order to place them on the same footing as Canada. Two successive measures for the alteration of the Corn Laws have been introduced. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton has admitted, that unless there are some strong and cogent reasons for altering laws of this nature, it is unwise to create apprehension in the public mind by such alteration. I believe that apprehension would be excited, not only by this proposal, but by the distinct declaration that it is meant to be the precursor of several other propo- sals of a similar nature. Looking, then, at the advantages to be gained by this Bill, and at the consequences of the alteration of the Bill of 1842—comparing the practical advantage to be gained, with the inconvenience and embarrassment which may arise, either from the total admission of Colonial corn at once, or from the admission of a precedent which is to lead to other alterations, my belief is, that the evil outweighs and more than counterbalances the good. If I felt that it was a claim of justice to Australia, that claim ought, of course, to outweigh all other considerations. But I do not consider the case of Australia identical with that of Canada; I think that the circumstances of the two Colonies are different; and, not admitting the claim of justice, I am not willing, on considerations of policy and expediency, for so limited an amount of good, to disturb the arrangement which was made in 1842 with regard to corn, and for these reasons I shall give my vote against the Motion.

Viscount Howick

said: I wish to ask the House whether there is any hon. Member who has listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and has not felt for him the sincerest compassion, under the severe and painful task which has been put upon him this night? I own that, in my experience in this House, I have never heard a speech made by a Gentleman standing in his high position, which did so fill me with shame as that of the right hon. Gentleman. Now, what are the grounds upon which this Motion has been resisted? Can you have listened to that speech, knowing the right hon. Baronet's ability—with what power he can bring before this House every argument, and everything which has the semblance of an argument, which bears upon the case that he has in hand—can you have listened, I say, to that speech, and entertain a doubt as to the real justice of the case? I will endeavour, very humbly, to follow the right hon. Baronet in his remarks upon this question. How did he begin? Why, by endeavouring to get up a laugh at the terms of a Resolution which is not before us, but which is to be proposed by my noble Friend the Member for the city of London. He says, that we are going to discuss the general principle of the Corn Laws. I hope that we shall continue to discuss the general question of the Corn Laws. But we all know perfectly well how any division upon that subject will terminate; we know that, during this Parliament at least, the right hon. Baronet will succeed in maintaining the existing Corn Laws, and, knowing that, we say, "Upon your own principles, upon your own admissions, while you maintain the policy of the Corn Laws, we ask, can you, upon grounds of plain justice or common sense, refuse to accede to the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead? That Motion is altogether independent of the general question of the Corn Laws; and if we agreed with you upon that question as much as we differ from you, we should not the less ask you to support it." What next said the right hon. Gentleman? He said, "The cases of Australia and Canada are not analogous, they are not precisely the same;" and he endeavoured to show the distinction between them. Now, perhaps, I may be disposed to admit that the cases of Australia and Canada are not in every respect precisely similar. But what I want the House to consider is, how far the arguments which have been advanced by Her Majesty's Government, as grounds for making this concession to Canada, are applicable also to Australia. Do you remember that when we were asked to make this concession to Canada, we were told that the policy adopted was that of treating our Colonies as an integral part of the Empire? The right hon. Baronet says, "You cannot compare the two cases, because Canada, as the price of this concession, imposed a duty of 3s. upon American corn." Now, what were the circumstances under which that duty was imposed? The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, who brought forward this question, told us very plainly what were the grounds upon which Canada was called upon to impose this duty on American corn. He said,— We are perfectly willing to grant to Canada, as a Colony and an integral part of the British Empire, the benefit of bringing in her corn, but we do not intend this boon to be applied to American corn; we wish to have a security that that corn, under the name of Colonial, shall not be introduced as if it were British grown corn. With that view we required a duty of 3s. to be imposed on American corn. Now, my chief objection to the Canadian measure was, that I thought that the damage you were doing to Canada by subjecting it to this injurious system of Corn Laws, and by introducing there the policy of agricultural protection, was more than equivalent to any advantages which could be derived from this measure. It was on that ground, and on that ground alone, that I opposed the measure. It was merely with a view of preventing foreign corn from coming in under the name of Colonial that this condition was imposed. But I ask you whether in the case of Australia any such condition is necessary? Australia, from her position, cannot, by any possibility, receive foreign corn without an excess of freight which would more than counterbalance the advantage. The only quarter from which Australia has ever received any considerable quantity of foreign corn is the Republic of Chili. But it comes from Chili against prevailing winds; the voyage is very long and expensive; and even for the consumption of Australia itself, except in times of great dearth and scarcity, occasioned by those periodical seasons of drought to which it is liable, corn is never imported into that Colony. To suppose that Chilian corn would go to Australia on its road to England, knowing, as we do, that the ordinary route home from Australia is by Cape Horn, on account of the winds—to suppose that it would cross the whole Pacific Ocean twice, is really to indulge a supposition which even the agricultural mind could not entertain. Well, then, you have with respect to Australia a complete security that foreign corn will not come in under the name of Colonial. With respect to Canada, you have only an imperfect security. You are, after all, liable to the evasion of the duty by smuggling; and I have no doubt that a considerable portion of American corn will come in under the form of Canadian flour without having paid the duty. Every argument that could be urged in favour of the admission of Canadian corn, applies with redoubled force to the admission of Australian corn. The right hon. Gentleman next came to the argument that the measure was not large enough, which had been so well described as the Peeblesshire argument. Now, I wish to know upon which of these alternatives does the right hon. Gentleman take his stand? Does he resist the Motion because so much corn will come in that it affords a just subject of alarm to his agricultural friends? If that is the ground on which he objects to it, it follows that it would be of great advantage to the Colonies. Or, on the other hand, does the right hon. Gentleman refuse it because it is so small a boon that it is immaterial to the Colonies? If he does, then I want to know what becomes of the apprehensions of his agricultural friends? In point of fact what is altogether a small and trifling quantity compared with the whole consumption of this country and the effect produced on the market, is not trifling when considered with reference to the Colonies. The importance to them of sending to this country a comparatively small quantity of corn is very great, as it enables them to send home vessels on freight which must otherwise come in ballast. In particular cases it must be of the utmost benefit to the Australian Colonists. But then, last of all, the right hon. Gentleman came to what is more strictly the Peeblesshire argument. He says, "This proposal is intended to apply to all the Colonies; and as last year you brought it forward in a more general shape, why do you restrict it this year?" I will tell him why I think my hon. Friend has acted wisely in restricting his Motion to one particular Colony at a time. Last year it was argued with some effect in this House, that the Bill might be carried much further than was intended; that in the case of India, for instance, the dominions of the native States were so intermixed with our own, that it would be impossible to prevent the corn of those States from coming in with the rest. There are various grounds applicable to different Colonies, which might in this manner be brought forward. Therefore, my hon. Friend has acted wisely, I think, by pursuing the course he has adopted. He says, "I bring you one crying case of injustice; I call upon you to remedy that injustice; I do not disguise from you that you will have to go further, and I am prepared to go further now if you wish it, but at all events this is a crying and obvious case of injustice; remedy this, and we will then consider the others." Surely that is a very fair way of dealing with the question. If the right hon. Gentleman is not satisfied with that, let him only consent to go into Committee, and let him move as an amendment upon the word "Australia," "British Possessions;" and I am quite sure that he will receive no opposition from the hon. Member for Gateshead. Having laid down the principle that corn grown in a British Colony ought to be introduced into this country at a nominal duty, in common justice and fairness you ought to apply it to the other Colonies. But, Sir, the real truth is—and I believe there is no man who hears me who is not sensible of that fact in his heart—the real truth is, that the cause of the difference is that which has been alluded to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth. With respect to Canada, you thought it desirable to endeavour to purchase her regard and her good will. It was the same miserable policy which the right hon. Gentleman has, in my opinion, acted upon elsewhere, to refuse that to a sense of justice which he will grant to intimidation and fear. It was that policy which was so justly and so emphatically denounced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, in a recent debate. Sir, has not the right hon. Gentleman done mischief enough by acting upon this policy elsewhere? Has he not, nearer home, done mischief enough by teaching that fatal lesson—that concession is to be expected from the British Parliament, at least from the British Parliament when led by the right hon. Baronet, not when it is called for by a sense of justice and of fairness, but when it is extorted by apprehension, and by symptoms that injustice will not be any longer tolerated? By adopting this miserable policy, you destroy all the grace of concession when it comes. You render concession not advantageous but mischievous. You ensure further and continued demands. On the other hand, if you act fairly and openly, upon your own sense of justice, giving freely and largely to those who are not in a situation to excite your fears whatever you think they are justly entitled to, and refusing to those who ask in a more menacing tone that to which you think they are not justly entitled—if you prove by your conduct that this is the policy upon which you act, I believe you will not have to dread extravagant demands for the future. Sir, I do hope that this House will be careful how it teaches all our Colonies this most fatal lesson; because, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I think that this question has a general bearing upon our Colonies beyond that which it has upon the immediate matter in hand. I maintain that, by refusing this concession to Australia, you are teaching Canada that it has nothing to be grateful for. You teach it that what you have done has not been from a sense of justice, or for the common advantage of the Empire; but that it was a bribe for acquiescing in the continuance of your Government. It is like the money given by the Roman Empire in its decline to the barbarians who were threatening at the gates—it is sure to purchase only further demands. On the other hand, if you now act to Australia, from which you have nothing to fear, as you have acted towards Canada, you are showing to your Colonies generally that you are acting on the principle of a large and liberal policy, and a desire to promote their welfare as integral portions of the British Empire. Sir, I hope the agricultural interest will be cautious how they support the right hon. Baronet on this occasion. We all know how easily he can call on them, after a certain time, to make very great and unexpected changes in their course. I therefore call on them to act in time, and of their own accord, in a spirit of liberality towards the Colonies, when they reflect upon the great difficulties interposed by distance and other disadvantages to the introduction of corn from Australia, and when they reflect also how much a perseverance in the course now pursued by the right hon. Baronet, as regards this question, is calculated to lower the character of a great party. I shall cordially support the Motion of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Newdegate

acknowledged that he felt deeply impressed with the recommendation of the noble Lord to Her Majesty's Government, that they should not grant to turbulence what they refused to peaceable and orderly conduct. He hoped the suggestion would come home to the right hon. Baronet. But, at the same time, he considered that the right hon. Baronet had exhibited on this occasion great regard to the feelings of those who had long and constitutionally supported his Government and the country in the hours of trial, like the year 1842, when, among other classes, the same feelings did not predominate. He wished, however, to call the serious attention of the right hon. Baronet to the large preparations that were being made for the importation of flour from Canada to this country—for the importation of a much larger quantity than Canada could possibly produce, and which must therefore come through that Colony from the United States.

Mr. Hutt

I cannot say that I am astonished at the rejection of my Motion by the Government. I partly expected that they would adhere with fatal consistency to the error of last Session, and oppose me in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) says that I have allowed my mind to be so much taken up with this subject, that I have overrated its importance. With all humility, I will admit that that part of his sarcasm is just. I have paid very great attention to this subject; I have no shame in admitting the charge; and the result of my attention has been a strong conviction, that the people of Australia will regard the present conduct of the Government as an act of gross and gratuitous injustice, and that it will not fail to produce the disasters which, sooner or later, injustice always engenders. I shall not attempt to follow the remarks of all the speakers against my Motion; but I must be permitted to observe that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sussex (Mr. Darby) who has enlightened the House with the outpourings of his great parochial mind on this question, has made a speech more like one of the "curtain lectures" of the illustrious Mrs. Caudle, than anything which it is desirable to hear in the House of Commons. Even the language of the Members of the Government has been little calculated to console disappointment in Australia, or to raise the credit of this Assembly anywhere. The Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Sir G. Clerk) says that I have exaggerated the value of the measure to the Australian Colonies; and the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) echoes the same opinion. Admit that I have—but have your own Governors exaggerated its value? Are they enthusiasts? I do not ask the House to take anything on my authority; but I do ask the House, before deciding against me, to weigh carefully the statements contained in the public despatches of Governor Grey and Sir Eardley Wilmot. My language, I am sure, has been tame and feeble in comparison with theirs. Look, too, at the petitions which I have laid on the Table from the Colonists. The people of Australia allege that a free corn trade is of the utmost importance to their interests;—the right hon. Baronet says it is of none. I am not going to dispute the general information of the right hon. Baronet; but I presume the people of Australia are as competent judges of their own affairs in this respect, as the right hon. Baronet, and that they have less inducement to misrepresent them. You say that you oppose my Motion, because very little corn could be brought to this country from Australia; but if I could prove to you that a great deal of such corn would be brought here, would you support it? Answer that question. At all events, don't let both arguments tell against me. Then I am told, from various parts of the House, that Lord Stan- ley made a bargain—entered into a special compact with the people of Canada, by virtue of which, the produce of their soil only was to be freely imported here. I do not understand this. I want to know by what title the Colonial Minister of this country presumes to bargain and huckster in matters of justice and good government—by what charter Lord Stanley is allowed to measure out, according to his pleasure, beneficial legislation to our Colonies. The possession of equal laws was in ancient days a synonyme of political liberty;—it is a good definition of it now. And there is no legislative good which your policy can contrive for Canada, which is not the indefeasible right of every portion of the British Empire. I have little more to add. I shall now proceed to a division in which I am sure to be defeated. But do not think that the question will be here disposed of. The right hon. Baronet may probably observe, by and by, a "cloud" rising in the southern horizon. Do not complain if it be so. You have taught the people of Australia how to ensure attention to their demands; you may some day reap the harvest of your art. For my part, I shall not be driven from my undertaking by your triumph. I know that the triumphs of injustice are but for a day. The Government, and all who incur the responsibility of rejecting this moderate and equitable proposal, may have occasion ere long to review their decisions in the late and bitter hour of unavailing repentance.

The House divided:—Ayes 93; Noes 147: Majority 54.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Collett, J.
Ainsworth, P. Craig, W. G.
Aldam, W. Dalmeny, Lord
Archbold, R. Dalrymple, Capt.
Baine, W. Dashwood, G. H.
Bannerman, A. Dennistoun, J.
Barclay, D. Divett, E.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Duncan, G.
Barnard, E. G. Duncombe, T.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Dundas, Adm.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Ebrington, Visct.
Bernal, R. Ellis, W.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Escott, B.
Bright, J. Etwall, R.
Brocklehurst, J. Evans, W.
Brotherton, J. Ewart, W.
Buller, C. Forster, M.
Busfeild, W. Gibson, T. M.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Granger, T. C.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Chapman, B. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Guest, Sir J. Parker, J.
Hanmer, Sir J. Pechell, Capt.
Hawes, B. Pollington, Visct.
Hill, Lord M. Pulsford, R.
Howick, Visct. Redington, T. N.
Humphery, Ald. Ricardo, J. L.
James, W. Rice, E. R.
Jervis, J. Ross, D. R.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Rous, hon. Capt.
Lambton, H. Scott, R.
Langston, J. H. Smith, B.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Smith, J. A.
Leveson, Lord Stansfield, W. R. C.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Stanton, W. H.
Mangles, R. D. Tancred, H. W.
Marjoribanks, S. Tufnell, H.
Martin, J. Vivian, J. H.
Martin, T. B. Wakley, T.
Maule, right hon. F. Warburton, H.
Mitchell, T. A. Ward, H. G.
Morris, D. Wilshere, W.
Morison, Gen. Wood, C.
Muntz, G. F. Wrightson, W. B.
Murray, A. Yorke, H. R.
O'Connell, M. J. TELLERS.
Osborne, R. Hutt, W.
Paget, Col. James, Sir W.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Courtenay, Lord
Acland, T. D. Cripps, W.
Adderley, C. B. Damer, hon. Col.
Alford, Visct. Darby, G.
Allix, J. P. Davies, D. A. S.
Antrobus, E. Deedes, W.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Dawnay, hon. W. H.
Arkwright, G. Denison, E. B.
Austen, Col. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Bagge, W. Du Pre, C. G.
Bailey, J. East, J. B.
Baillie, H. J. Eastnor, Visct.
Baird, W. Eaton, Capt. R. J.
Bateson, T. Egerton, W. T.
Beckett, W. Egerton, Sir P.
Bell, M. Emlyn, Visct.
Blackburne, J. I. Fellowes, E.
Boldero, Capt. H. G. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Bowles, Adm. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bramston, T. W. Flower, Sir J.
Broadley, H. Forbes, W.
Bruce, Lord E. Forman, T. S.
Bruges, W. H. L. Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.
Buck, L. W. Fuller, A. E.
Cardwell, E. Gardner, J. D.
Carew, W. H. P. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Charteris, hon. F. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Chetwode, Sir J. Godson, R.
Christopher, R. A. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Chute, W. L. W. Gore, M.
Clayton, R. R. Gore, W. R. O.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Clifton, J. T. Graham, rt hn. Sir J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Greenall, P.
Colville, C. R. Greene, T.
Coote, Sir C. H. Grimston, Visct.
Copeland, Ald. Hale, R. B.
Corry, right hon. H. Hamilton, J. H.
Harcourt, G. G. Peel, J.
Harris, hon. Capt. Plumptre, J. P.
Hayes, Sir E. Praed, W. T.
Heathcote, G. J. Pusey, P.
Heneage, E. Rendlesham, Lord
Heneage, G. H. W. Repton, G. W. J.
Henley, J. W. Rolleston, Col.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Round, J.
Hope, hon. C. Round, C. J.
Hope, G. W. Rushbrooke, Col.
Hornby, J. Sanderson, R.
Hotham, Lord Smith, A.
Ingestre, Visct. Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.
Jermyn, Earl Somerset, Lord G.
Jocelyn, Visct. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Johnstone, H. Spry, Sir S. T.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Stanley, E.
Jones, Capt. Sturt, H. C.
Lawson, A. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Lennox, Lord A. Tennent, J. E.
Lincoln, Earl of Thesiger, Sir F.
Lowther, hon. Col. Thornhill, G.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Tower, C.
M'Geachy, F. A. Trollope, Sir J.
McNeill, D. Trotter, J.
Manners, Lord C. S. Turnor, C.
March, Earl of Tyrrell, Sir J. T.
Masterman, J. Villiers, Visct.
Meynell, Capt. Vivian, J. E.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Newdegate, C. N. Wood, Col. T.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Norreys, Lord Wortley, hon. J. S.
O'Brien, A. S. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Packe, C. W. TELLERS.
Palmer, R. Young, J.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Baring, H.

House adjourned at half-past eleven o'clock.