HC Deb 28 May 1845 vol 80 cc956-1004

On the Order of the Day for the Adjourned Debate being read,

Mr. P. Howard

said, that when he moved the adjournment of the debate he was anxious to state his opinion, and which he believed was an opinion entertained by many thinking men in this country, that framing abstract Resolutions, likely to be attended with no result, was not the best way of dealing with great questions. It tended to unsettle men's minds, and produce unfounded expectations. He objected also to the number of those Resolutions. The proverb said, "In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom;" but in the multitude of subjects he saw nothing but confusion. It was remarked by a journal which was a very acute observer of passing events, that unity was not necessary to political as to artistical effect. Formerly, when party measures were brought forward, it was customary to resolve that the House should go into a Committee of the whole House on the state of the nation. But though this might be vague as to the subject, yet it was definite in its object, and was tantamount to a withdrawal of confidence from an Administration. The noble Lord had admitted that if his Motion should be carried, it would be a censure on the present Government. He conceived that, at present, that was a result which would not be attended with any good effect to the country at large. He did not think that it would be an act of patriotism to overturn an Administration until they had a compact body of councillors ready to take their places. If the noble Lord had contented himself with laying his views before, without calling for an opinion from them, the House would have been happy to have been enlightened by his wisdom; but taking the opinions of the House would pledge every Member who supported him to every one of those Resolutions, a course which he could not admit. He thought that much had been done to benefit the country by the alterations in the Tariff which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman; and he thought that it would be desirable to have a little experience of these changes before they proceeded to make further alterations, or to legislate further on these subjects. When they gained experience of the working of these measures, they should be better prepared to legislate with respect to any remaining restrictions. Another of his objections to those Resolutions was, that they proposed a change in the Corn Laws. This was a question the importance of which would not be undervalued; and he (Mr. P. Howard) thought that when the noble Lord announced his intention of allowing a fixed duty of 4s., 5s., or 6s., instead of the present system, that the noble Lord had not announced his change of opinion with that caution and deliberation which were due to the great importance of the subject. The noble Lord, when he was a Minister of the Crown, had proposed a duty of 8s.; and he thought that having made that proposition, his change of opinion ought to have been more deliberately announced. He had always advocated a fixed duty; but he thought our own Colonies ought to have the preference in supplying this country with any quantity of corn which might be required to make up the deficiency of the home supply. He thought that before they altered the Corn Laws so as to make us dependent on foreign countries, they ought first to inquire of those foreign countries what they would give in return. With respect to the law of settlement, the right hon. Gentleman had announced his intention of altering it. He thought it would be a great advantage if, in addition to the settlement by birth, a settlement by residence could also be obtained. With respect to colonization, he thought it ought not to be compulsory. Much good might be done by a system of colonization judiciously assisted. He thought the Board of Trade, or some other department, might be authorized to give the most authentic information with respect to the state of our various Colonies to persons desirous to emigrate, and applying for this information to them. With respect to one of our Colonies, a most favourable field for human exertion, New Zealand, he was happy to see that the cloud which overhung it for a time was fast clearing away. He was glad to see that there was a growing feeling to consider and improve the condition of the people. The reformed state of the representation had been alluded to by the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex; but he (Mr. P. Howard) was happy to say, that one most gratifying result had followed from the reformed representation, that it enabled a Minister to throw himself on the generous support of the House and the country, and not pay that implicit homage to party which he did before. With respect to education, he knew the subject was invested with difficulty. The effect of the system adopted in this country was to throw the education of the people into the hands of the clergy of the Established Church. He thought that the Roman Catholics and Dissenters ought to be enabled to derive more advantage from it than they did at present. In conclusion, he repeated that he would feel bound to refuse his support to the Resolutions of the noble Lord. The noble Lord stated, that their success would lead to the retirement of the present Government. This he would think to be a result not desirable, when they had no compact body of councillors ready to succeed them. He agreed in much of what the noble Lord had stated, but he could not support his Resolutions; because he did not think that asking the House to pledge itself to Resolutions of this kind was either the most Parliamentary course, or the most calculated to benefit the country at large.

Mr. Bickham Escott

said, it appeared from the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the party with which the hon. Member usually voted was not yet ready to take the Government, and that that was the reason why he would not support the Resolutions. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that his party was not ready; but he could not agree with him in thinking that the Resolutions, if carried, would be productive of no practical effects. He believed, that if these Resolutions were carried, practical consequences of great importance would follow, and that immediately. But, though he thus admitted that the Resolutions were far from being vague and indefinite in their operation, he must state that he was astonished that the noble Lord should have made such a Motion at all; and his astonishment arose from a close investigation of the noble Lord's Resolutions. The first statement contained in them was, that at the present moment there did pervade the breadth and length of the land political tranquillity and commercial prosperity. Why, were not these the very objects for which laws were framed, and for which the House sat in deliberation? The right hon. Member for Taunton, who spoke in an early part of the debate, expressly gave credit to Her Majesty's Ministers for having, since their accession to office, introduced measures for the improvement of the education of the people, and the trade of the country. So he took it; and these practical measures, under the blessing of Providence, had produced the present state of tranquillity and prosperity; and yet the noble Lord came forward and proposed Resolutions, the effect of which, if they were carried, would be to change the Government; for that was their clear meaning: and the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, an influential and intelligent Member of his party, said that was at present the least desirable thing that could happen. The noble Lord must, therefore, excuse him if he again said that he was at a loss to know why he proposed these Resolutions. The noble Lord set out by lamenting the condition of the labouring classes—a subject which, he said, was as serious a one as any that could occupy the attention of Parliament, and which had of late made great way in the feelings of the country. His (Mr. Escott's) belief was, that the noble Lord had stated the question correctly—that it had made greater way in the feelings than in the judgment of the country. He was afraid that this was as dangerous a question as could well be agitated. The noble Lord had certainly done it in a temperate spirit—in a very different spirit from other speeches which he had heard in the House. The noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire was one who had much to answer for in this House. He thought he was the person alluded to by the noble Lord the Member for London, as one who had made the discussion of the state of particular classes popular in the country; and he believed it was most dangerous to do so. It would be well if they stopped where they were, and did not attempt to carry it further; for the further it was carried, the greater would be the materials for making people discontented with their condition, without suggesting any practical relief. The noble Lord had certainly suggested practical measures; and, first, he adverted to a better system of emigration. Now, for his part, he could not think that any greater facilities for emigration ought to be given than existed at present—otherwise they might send people out of the country on speculative missions which might end in ruin, and with little chance of their substantial benefit. But he was struck with a subsequent remark made by the noble Lord—that if a better system of agriculture were adopted, all the people in the country would find employment. He agreed thoroughly with the noble Lord that that was the case; but, if so, where was the need of giving greater facilities to emigration? The noble Lord had also touched upon the question of education; and he would only say upon that subject, that the experience of the last few years showed that there were great difficulties in the way, and that it was impossible the Government could move faster than they were at present doing. The noble Lord had also lauded the state of the law with regard to the relief of the poor, and suggested no alteration. Now, he had never been a violent opposer of the Poor Law since its enactment. But it did appear to him that the time for emigration was before those strict provisions of the New Poor Law were enforced; that a relief might then have been afforded, and the superabundant supply of labour drained off, before they put in operation those stringent provisions of the New Poor Law. But he was sure the noble Lord did not mean these to be considered as his grand means for the relief of the working classes, and he had shown it. He had also developed to the House his views upon that which was the great question with all thinking people — particularly among the middle classes, among whom political power now resided—he meant the restrictive laws on the importation of corn. And the noble Lord had not only announced his intention to follow his Resolution up by a practical measure, but he had expressly stated to the House the principle of the measure which he would propose. The noble Lord would forgive him for saying that it was no new plan. He remembered, in a debate which took place two years ago, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton charging the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, above all things, to beware of a pedantic adherence to former professions. That noble Lord had certainly a full right to give such a precept; for he had pretty closely adhered to it himself in the course of his political life. He would not say that the noble Lord the Member for London had shown a pedantic adherence to his plan, for nobody could accuse the noble Lord of pedantry in anything he said or did; but he certainly thought that in this instance the noble Lord had shown a romantic adherence to his former professions; for, except the noble Lord himself, he did not know any one that was in favour of a fixed duty. All the other statesmen of the day had abandoned it. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, two years ago, told the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, that there was a time when he might have made a bargain for the agriculturists, and settled the question upon the principle of a fixed duty; but then he went on to show that there was such utter absurdity in its principle, that the moment you came to argue against it, it was gone—it would not bear examination. Well, then, he should like to know how the noble Lord, supposing his Resolution to be carried, would form his Government on the principle of a fixed duty? Would the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland support him? Perhaps that noble Lord had changed his opinion; but till he heard some one else besides the noble Lord the Member for London support this fixed tax on corn, he must feel at a loss to know why the Resolution was brought forward. But there was another reason which still more astonished him. It was not six weeks since he heard the noble Lord declare that protection was the bane of agriculture. Then what class was the fixed tax on corn to benefit? It certainly would not benefit the consumer, or the merchant; and how was it to benefit the agriculturist, if it was a bane to agriculture? It appeared to him that there was not now much active hostile feeling upon the subject in the country. Those who, a few years ago, were violent free traders and high protection men, had now much softened the asperities of their opinions. They looked more at the difficulties of the question, and the difficulties which public men had in dealing with it. But there were two parties still upon the question. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton worthily represented that section who were anxious for an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws; and in attacking the system he forgot the position in which it stood, as well as the position of its supporters in the House. His hon. Friend argued the question as if the House had lately imposed heavy restrictions on the importation of corn. The hon. Member forgot that, instead of imposing restrictions, the House had been engaged in removing them; and here he would say that the conduct of those hon. Members who imagined that their interests were bound up with high protecting duties had been most honourable and disinterested in giving up what they thought was for their own interest. Far from having been actuated by selfish motives, their conduct had been most generous and disinterested; though he was sorry to say that their conduct had been somewhat different in regard to certain late measures. But besides the free traders, there was another party who opposed the present system of Corn Laws, on the ground that the amount of protection it afforded was not high enough; and these were called, or called themselves, the farmers' friends. These gentlemen appeared to him to be of two classes. For the first set of farmers' friends, he entertained the high-eat possible respect; and he wished the hon. Members for Devonshire and Northamptonshire had remained in their places a little longer, because he understood they had been hurt by some observations he had formerly made. He entertained the highestrespect for those gentlemen who, thinking that increased protection would benefit the country, or would benefit their tenantry and labouring people, laboured in their vocation to increase protection. But what he could not understand was, the conduct of the other class of farmers' friends, who had helped to pass the very measures which they now condemned, and then went down to the country and joined in the foolish cry against them. Depend upon it, the farmers saw through all this. The fact was, they were too late, and on a wrong course, and that for two reasons. From the moment the late Corn Bill was changed, and, as he thought, properly changed, it was impossible to form a Government on the principle of increased protection, which the farmers thoroughly knew. They were wrong in another way. They had destroyed protection, if it was to be destroyed, by tries peeches they had made in its favour, and the rashness with which they had ventured to bring themselves into collision with others who were against the principle of protection; and the result was, that the whole system of protection was now shattered and tottering to its fall. Every argument they employed was like knocking a stone out of the arch of their building. There was a great analogy between the debates on corn, and those that had taken place on the subject of education. It was about the same thing to oppose the system of an enlarged education in Ireland by abusing the faith of Christendom, as it was to prop the somewhat shattered building of agricultural protection with osier twigs for its timbers, and grease for its cement. But that was not all: there were other speeches, delivered both in the House and out of it, which had had the same and even greater effect, and at different periods. From the moment it was avowed in the House—and the avowal was first made by the right hon. Gentleman who was then Member for Kent (Sir Edward Knatchbull), that the object of protection was to raise the price of corn, in order to put money into the pockets of those who possessed burdened estates—to enable them to defray the legal charges on their property—from that moment the cause of protection tottered indeed. There was only one rational mode of defending protection. If it could not be defended as a means of ensuring a domestic supply of corn, and on an average of years making it cheaper to the people than it could otherwise be had, it could not be defended at all. That was a question on which he could not trifle, and he therefore felt it his duty to state—and he believed that the majority of the people had come to the same conclusion—that from the speech made by the right hon. Member for Kent down to the last speech made either by the hon. Member for Somersetshire, or by the Duke of Richmond in another place, he believed every such exercitation had only the more convinced the people that it was impossible by such arguments longer to defend the system of protection. That declaration of his opinion might possibly be prejudicial for a time to his interests, as it would not be agreeable to several persons in the country to whom he owed deep obligations in public and political matters. All he could say was, that, whatever were the consequences, he thought he was right to make it; and though he had received from these individuals favours which he highly valued, yet he had not bought them at the price of the sacrifice of his independence. He agreed with much that was said by those who were advocates of a higher rate of protection, that the present time was a state of great distress to the farming interests. He knew himself parts of the country that were suffering great distress. If his hon. Friends to whom he had formerly alluded had been present, he would have been glad to tell them what was the principal cause of that distress at the present time. He had lately been in the country—he had taken great pains to inquire into the subject—and he would state, that it arose from the deficient supply of grass, corn, and fodder, of all sorts, for the keep of the farm stock, caused by the severe winter and spring, and the drought of the last spring and summer. His right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham) stated last night, as instances of the general prosperity of the country, the reduced rate of various necessaries of life. He rejoiced to hear that statement. He agreed with it in every article but one. Meat was not cheap: so far from meat being low, it was higher now than it had ever ruled during the last fourteen years. An hon. and gallant Friend had lately shown him a return of a contract for the supply of meat to the troops at Woolwich for the next six months. The present contract for beef was 7½d. per lb., whereas in the last contract it was only 6¼d. The fact was, meat was so high—higher than he wished it to be—because there was such a scarcity of keep that the farmer could not fatten his lean stock. He knew a farmer in Somersetshire who had lately lost fifty sheep and seven horses by starvation. In the whole course of his experience he never knew anything like the distress that was experienced at the present moment from this cause. Well, then, it was really time that the farmers' friends should consider if they could not do something to relieve this distress by introducing more keep into this country. He understood there were laws on the Statute Book which prevented the importation of articles which would be most valuable for the food of cattle, and not only so, but they also wanted seeds. Not more than three weeks ago, he had a conversation with a large practical farmer upon this very question. He was at one time an ultra-protectionist, though he had had the good sense not to join any of the protection societies, but he was one of that sort. The farmer told him that he had paid 40l. for seeds last year. He (Mr. Escott) said, would it not be better if you got them from abroad, where you could get the same quantity for half the money? The farmer replied, that if he could get them for half the money, come from whence they might, he would have sown double the quantity; for the farmers were only prevented by the price from sowing all the wheat Stubble with vetches; hot only because the preparing of the ground cost little labour and expense, but because they formed a valuable pasture for cattle, and when ploughed down for the next crop they formed an excellent manure. He wished the farmers' friends would turn their attention to these points. The course which the Government had pursued on all the questions introduced by the noble Lord in his Resolutions was, in his opinion, the best that could have been pursued in the existing state of the country; and though he felt that he should ill discharge his duty to them, to the House, and to his constituents, if he voted for the noble Lord's Resolutions, yet he would not hesitate to say that the time had now come when it was necessary to go much further in the course they had pursued. A more absurd notion than finality never entered into the human mind. It was impossible that any Parliament or any Government could stand by any set of measures, or any class of men, that did not provide a sufficient supply of food for the people of this country. The condition of the labouring man must be improved when work was plenty and wages were good. That was the case at present; and the knowledge which by a sure and accelerated pace was pervading the land, and teaching senators wisdom, would in after years reach the poor man's cottage, and confer on him the most inestimable of all blessings—that of content.

Sir J. Graham

wished to say, in allusion to a remark of the hon. Member who had just spoken, that the Return of prices which he had quoted the other evening was a Return prepared by the Board of Trade at his request. It did not refer to the price of prime meat in the hands of retail butchers. It was prepared at his desire with reference to the price, in the first week of April in the present year, and in the corresponding week in the six antecedent years, beginning in 1839, and ending in 1845, of meat sold by the wholesale butchers to the labouring classes in the neighbourhood of Smithfield. He had every reason to believe in the accuracy of the statement.

Captain Pechell

had listened to the most able and useful speech of the hon. Member for Winchester with the greatest pleasure; but he was sorry that the noble Lord the Member for London could hot calculate on his vote. The object he had chiefly in view in addressing the House, was to corroborate the statements made by the noble Lord the other evening with reference to the state of education in Sussex. The hon. Member for Shoreham (Sir C. Burrell), had denied the accuracy of the noble Lord's exposures; but he was enabled now, on the best authority, to confirm the noble Lord's statements. He was informed by the chaplain of the Sussex gaol at Lewes, that out of 817 prisoners 470 had hardly any knowledge of religion. The hon. Member for Shore-ham had stated, that many of the Sussex criminals came from Brighton. Now, he held in his hand a Return, dated the 28th of February, 1843, of Persons committed to Prison for Offences in Workhouses in Poor Law Unions, and in places under Gilbert's and other Local Acts, during six years; from which he found that while in East Sussex, with a population of 144,268, the number committed to prison was 479, in Brighton, which was under a local Act, with a population of 50,000, the number committed to prison in six years was only 66. Comparing Brighton with Unions in East Sussex, he found that in the Battle Union, with a population of 12,034, there were 60 committals; in the Cuckfield Union, with a population of 17,132 there were 73 committals; and in the Hailsham Union, with a population of 12,433, there were 67 persons sent to gaol; whereas, in the several parishes in Sussex incorporated under Gilbert's Acts, forming two Unions, there was during the six years only one person committed to prison for offences in workhouses. He cordially concurred in the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for London; but he would gladly see the addition to it of the words moved by the hon. Member for Rochdale, his constituents being most anxious for an extension of the suffrage.

Sir. J. Walsh

said, it appeared to him that the speech of the hon. Member for Winchester deserved all the commendation which it had received by the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton, and he doubted not but it would be echoed by the members of the Anti-Corn-Law League. The noble Lord had at the commencement of his speech alluded to a question put by him (Sir J. Walsh), and which the noble Lord had justly considered a censure of the multiplicity of topics embraced in his Resolutions. If the noble Lord had no other object than to deliver his own individual opinions upon a subject so important as the welfare of the labouring classes, these opinions coming from him would be entitled to deference; but if he had any practical end in view, beyond a mere exposition of his own views, then he (Sir J. Walsh) must adhere to his opinion of the inconvenient and faulty construction of his Motion. The introduction of so many topics into one discussion could not fail to distract their attention, and to render the debate either wholly vague, desultory, and inconclusive, or to induce the House to run off upon some one particular topic of mere strong party interest, to the exclusion of others which were united with it. He agreed with the noble Lord in one of his Resolutions which had reference to the question of colonization. He was happy to find the noble Lord lending his great influence to the furtherance of this question; while, at the same time, he must regret that he did not at an earlier period give his attention to this subject, when, from his position of Secretary for the Colonies, he could have given a more powerful and direct impetus to it. But this very question of emigration, in which he concurred in the main with the noble Lord, was an instance of the disadvantage of encumbering a Motion with such various and distinct questions. He felt, so far from being obliged to the noble Lord for having included it, that the question itself was damaged and disparaged by being thus huddled together with so many others, which would be negatived with them, without having received the separate discussion upon its merits which its importance deserved. He thought it was in the power of Government, in respect to this subject, to facilitate their object greatly in relieving the redundant labour in the agricultural districts by a well conducted system of emigration. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had described the Motion as one against protection to agriculture, and the noble Lord's observations countenanced that assertion. The noble Lord said that the present Corn Law tended to check improvements in agriculture. On what ground did the noble Lord arrive at that conclusion? The system of protection had been in operation for half a century; but had improvements been particularly checked? Compare England with every other country in Europe, and it would be found that England was the country in which agricultural science had been most largely cultivated—the country in which most capital had been employed in agriculture—the country, in short, in which the most surprising results had been produced in that branch of industry. It was capable of proof from the reports of competent persons that England was far more highly cultivated than France. He would refer, in corroboration of this, to the able Report of M. Catineau Laroche, on the comparative Merits of French and English Agriculture, lately presented to the Royal Agricultural Society of France; and yet the noble Lord would call on the House, by agreeing to the Resolution, to affirm that protection was the bane of agriculture in this country. The system of protective duties dated from 1791, although the late Lord Leicester's system had been introduced somewhat earlier; but since that period there had been evidently an immense advance in the science, and the greatest improvement in cultivation. Under the system of protection there had been constant progression in agriculture. In Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and Lothian, fresh impulses had been given to it, and the whole face of the country exhibited improvement which, twenty-five years ago, would never have been dreamt of. If the noble Lord should carry his Motion, it would be in opposition to the testimony of experience and the evidence of facts. The noble Lord had alluded to the numerous increase of the population in the country; but the produce of the soil had, on the average, been within a small margin of a sufficient supply for that population, and in years of plenty it was ample for the purpose. In his opinion this country could not have made these extraordinary strides in agricultural improvement, if it were not for the protection enjoyed by agriculture during that period. The great object of the noble Lord was to improve the condition of the labourers—that was the noble Lord's own statement. He (Sir J. Walsh), however, disliked all Motions which went to show a distinct interest as existing between the labouring classes and the higher classes of the community; and he believed that those persons who led the former to think that such an interest existed, were their worst enemies. He believed that any sudden change in the price of agricultural produce would be fatal to the manufacturing interests; while to increase the distress that prevailed at present among the agriculturists would, he was convinced, be to endanger the stability of the State. That was evident from the present condition of Ireland. So long as measures were adopted to lower the price of agricultural produce, grants to Maynooth, and other measures of conciliation, would be unavailable for that country.

Viscount Howich

said, there was one part of the speech of the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, which he wished the hon. Member had addressed to the House on a former debate, rather than on the present. He meant that part of it in which he endeavoured to demonstrate that, so far from protection being injurious to agriculture, it had actually been the cause of the improvements which he had stated had been so remarkable in that art within the last few years. Now he did think that the argument of the hon. Baronet on that point would have been better placed if it had appeared on the Motion of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden), when he moved for a Committee to inquire into the effect of protecting duties on the interests of tenant farmers and farm labourers; for the House could scarcely forget the speech with which the hon. Member had introduced that Motion—a speech which, in his opinion, had not only asserted, but had proved to demonstration, not indeed that protection had altogether stopped and arrested the natural progress of improvement in agriculture, but that it had exercised a most marked and pernicious influence in retarding and checking that improvement, and in rendering agriculture a singular instance in our national industry of little progress and slow advance during the long peace with which this country had been so happily blessed. He thought that it had been demonstrated on the occasion to which he alluded; and when a Committee was asked for to prove these allegations, the hon. Baronet opposite neither used his present argument, nor assisted them in obtaining the Committee by which, if their opinion were ill founded, its incorrectness might be demonstrated. All that the hon. Baronet had shown was, that improvements had taken place in agriculture. No doubt there had been improvements. Whoever thought of asserting that improvement was altogether arrested? But he would ask any hon. Gentlemen who remembered the debate on the former occasion to which he alluded, whether it had not been then shown that that improvement had been greatly checked and retarded by the system of protective laws. But it was not his purpose to follow the hon. Baronet into the details of the several Resolutions, which, if they were so fortunate as to carry the first that had been proposed by his noble Friend, would be hereafter discussed. His object rather was to offer some remarks to the House on the general principles of the policy which, as he understood, it was the wish of his noble Friend to recommend by his Resolutions to their consideration. First, he would say, that the arguments by which his noble Friend's Motion had been met were completely inconclusive. He alluded particularly to the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who alone had spoken in this debate on the part of the Government. When he found that this Motion was to be opposed by Her Majesty's Government, he expected that they would have relied on either of these two lines of argument;—either that the right hon. Baronet would attempt to prove to the House that the condition of the labouring classes was perfectly satisfactory, and that no improvement in that condition was desirable, or else that, admitting that their condition fell short of what was to be desired, still that any improvement of their state was beyond the reach of legislative measures; that Parliament could do nothing to benefit them; and that it was therefore better for the House not to interfere at all. He should have thought that one of these courses would have been taken; but instead of that, the right hon. Baronet came down and made a speech, of which any Gentleman who had carefully listened to it must admit that the argument went not to refute, but to confirm in the strongest degree, every proposition on which his noble Friend had relied. And having made that speech, the right hon. Gentleman told them that it was his intention to meet the Resolutions by moving the previous question. He considered such a course to be altogether objectionable. If the condition of the labouring classes was unsatisfactory, and if it were in the power of the Legislature to improve that condition, he thought no man in that House would venture to stake a doubt of its not being their duty to apply themselves to the task. The right hon. Baronet had stated, most truly, in the course of his speech, that while they were there to watch over the welfare of all classes of the community, it was now especially their duty to attend to the interests and the happiness of that largest of all classes, whose only property consisted in the remuneration which they received for their labour. That should be a sacred duty with that House; and if the labouring classes were now with justice dissatisfied, and if it were in the power of Parliament, by measures not hitherto adopted, to improve their condition, it was, he would repeat, the duty of Parliament at once to apply itself to the consideration of the course to be pursued; and it was most unsatisfactory to him that, under such circumstances, they were to be told by Her Majesty's Ministers, not what improvements were to be adopted, but that they would appeal to a majority of the House, on which they knew they could depend, to say that no interference whatever should be attempted with the existing evils which they admitted. That was the way that the right hon. Baronet met the proposition of the noble Lord. The right hon. Baronet had refused either to admit or deny that there were measures required for the improvement of the working classes, which it was in the power of the House to adopt; and if the House acquiesced in that mode of meeting the question, he had no hesitation in saying that the House would shrink from its duty. He could understand the right hon. Gentleman meeting the proposition by a direct negative, if he denied the existence of the distress, or the possibility of its being remedied by that House. He could understand if the right hon. Baronet had proposed Amendments, calling upon the House to say, that the course proposed to be taken was inexpedient, or that it was impossible that any change in the law could relieve the distress which it was acknowledged existed. He could understand a Minister taking either of these courses; but he would own that he was altogether at a loss to conceive how a Minister could stand up and say (hat such a question was one not fit for the Speaker to put from the Chair. If he understood rightly the object of his noble Friend in bringing forward this Motion, it was to call upon the House, first of all, to recognise the fact, that the condition of the labouring classes in this country was one which was far from being satisfactory; that it was one in which something should be done for their improvement and welfare; and afterwards to point out what were the principles on which the measures which he would recommend for the relief of that distress should proceed. Having laid down these principles, his noble Friend proceeded—as he understood—to say that it was a question so paramount and important, that it ought properly to be left to the discretion of the advisers of the Crown to embody in the shape of laws and measures. That was the proper and regular course to take; and he could not, therefore, understand on what principle the hon. Baronet who spoke last had found fault with the course which his noble Friend had taken. He could not understand why the hon. Baronet should object to the proposition of the noble Lord, as conveying an implied difference between the interests of the labouring classes and other classes in the community. He did not so read the Resolutions. He did not understand his noble Friend to argue that the measures which he proposed, while they benefited the working classes, would tend to the injury of others. On the contrary, if he understood the speech by which his noble Friend introduced his propositions before the House, his argument was, that the adoption of measures founded on the principles which he laid down, would be greatly beneficial to the whole nation—to every order and class in the community; but that he proposed them specially with reference to the condition of the labouring classes, because he thought that their state at the present moment was one peculiarly requiring the attention of the House. Now, if he was right in this construction, he thought they had a right to expect the support to the first of these Resolutions of every gentleman who agreed with them in thinking that the condition of the labouring classes was such as to require the adoption of some means or other for its improvement — no matter whether they agreed as to what these means ought to be or not; because those who differed from them as to the means of improvement to be adopted, would, on the discussion of the subsequent Resolutions, have ample opportunity of moving amendments, by which the measures which they might wish to suggest could be brought under the consideration of the House. Those who thought that there was something amiss in the social condition of the State, which required amendment, and that such amendment was beyond the power of Parliament to effect, were also, he thought, bound to concur in the first Resolution, and afterwards to suggest such amendments as they might wish to offer. Under these views, he owned that he could not but feel somewhat disappointed at the attendance which they witnessed that night in the House; and, above all, he was greatly disappointed at not seeing his noble Friend the Member for Dorsetshire (Lord Ashley) in his place, with the other hon. Members who concurred with that noble Lord in the measures which he had at various times taken for bringing the condition of some particular portions of the working population under the notice of the House. His noble Friend to whom he last alluded, had devoted his time and abilities with a zeal which was highly praiseworthy, in bringing before the attention of the House the sufferings endured by women who worked in mines, and by the children who were employed in factories, and other classes of their labouring population. The noble Lord had taken great pains in bringing several cases of these grievances and sufferings under the notice of the House; and he was, he confessed, therefore, very much disappointed to perceive that his noble Friend was not present to support the present Motion, or to propose some other means of meeting a question which involved the condition, not of any particular section of the working classes, but of the labouring population generally. All the grievances and sufferings which his noble Friend had at different times brought under their notice were, in his opinion, only particular instances and particular symptoms of the general evil which lay at the bottom of the whole system, and which arose from the inability of labour in this country to command in the market sufficiently high and sufficiently certain remuneration. He believed that all the abuses which at different times had been brought under the consideration of the House, and all the grievances which some hon. Members were so anxious to remedy, all arose from that one source, and from the attempts which had been made by the labouring classes to get over the difficulties which they had to encounter, arising from the inadequate remuneration which they received for their labour. He, therefore, thought that the proper course for the House to pursue, was not to direct their attention merely to damming up particular channels, but to apply themselves to the task of arresting the flood from which these channels arose. For these reasons it was that he felt disappointed at the absence of his noble Friend, because he had confidence in the sincerity of his noble Friend's desire for the welfare of the poorer classes of his fellow subjects, and because he felt that if they could have shown to his noble Friend that the policy which they recommended was calculated to promote the welfare of those classes, he would support the Motion, no matter what inconvenience such support might occasion to the party with which he was politically connected. He had stated that he considered the object of the Motion to be to call on the House to recognise the existence of a condition of the labouring classes requiring improvement; and also that the present was a proper time to consider the measures that were necessary for the improvement of that condition. He had also expressed his opinion of the grounds on which he thought they were entitled to expect support in favour of that first Resolution, even from those who differed from his noble Friend as to the policy involved in the succeeding propositions. He would next wish to ask, whether in the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, there had been one word said, calculated to lead the House to the conclusion, either that the present condition of the working classes was one with which they should be content, or that it was beyond the power of the Legislature to improve? As to the condition of the working classes being far from satisfactory, he was willing to rest that question on the admissions of the right hon. Baronet himself. The right hon. Gentleman had, indeed, stated that the noble Lord had underrated the amount of wages received in the agricultural districts of England. He believed the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in that assertion. It might be true that at this particular moment the average rate of wages for the whole kingdom was as high as the right hon. Baronet had stated; but they had the strongest proof that in many counties the estimate of his noble Friend was not by any means too low. In Wiltshire, in Dorsetshire, and in parts of Buckinghamshire and Sussex, and in North Devon, and he believed in some other counties in the south and west of England, the rates of wages were as-miserably low as his noble Friend had described them to be; but even taking the rates of wages to be what the right hon. Gentleman had himself alleged, did that not, he would ask, imply a state of things in these counties which was far from satisfactory? and did it not show a condition of great suffering and great privation among those by whom wages were earned? With respect to the manufacturing districts, the right hon. Baronet was able to make out a more satisfactory statement; and he was ready to believe that the improvement which the right hon. Baronet described did really exist, and that at this particular moment the condition of the manufacturing districts was by no means to be complained of. But he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, according to his own statement, these very districts were not, two years ago, in a state of the most frightful destitution? In 1843 he had brought the subject before the House, and at that time on neither side was it disputed that throughout the whole manufacturing districts of this kingdom there prevailed the most intense distress, a distress which had existed for a very considerable period—for three or four years—and which had then reached its height. The description of the condition of affairs was then heartrending; and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, in describing the improvement which had since taken place, went back to that former state of things, and pointed out bow frightful had been the distress in question. But if this were so, what was the inference to be drawn from it? Why that the manufacturing districts, taking an average of the earnings of labour, were not very greatly superior to the agricultural districts. No doubt the former were at present enjoying very considerable prosperity. And why? Because we had been blessed with good harvests—because we had low prices for food, which had enabled the population to consume a greater quantity of articles of general consumption, which were ultimately paid for by manufactures. But was the permanence of the present state of things to be depended upon? Was there any man who did not feel convinced that one or two bad harvests in succession, under our present system of commercial policy, would be attended with a return of all those miseries from which we had so recently escaped? Let such an unfortunate event occur, and we should again see the failure of employment, the reduction of wages in agricultural districts—we should again have all that misery which had been so fully described. Such then being the case, he asked them whether it would not be wise to avail themselves of this short interval of prosperity and ease, to deliberate calmly on those measures which they might think best suited to insure a permanent improvement in the condition of the working classes? At present they could discuss the subject calmly, influenced only by considerations of reason and sound policy. But, if a change should take place, if, under a bad harvest, the pressure of grinding distress should again make itself felt in the manufacturing districts, then the fierce spirit of Chartism, now sleeping, but not dead, would again revive; and he asked them whether they could then as advantageously, as satisfactorily—nay, he would say as safely, discuss this great question of the cause on which the prosperity of the working man depended? He held it to be clear that the very passing and uncertain nature of manufacturing prosperity, under the present system, was the cause of that prosperity producing no more effect than it did upon the agricultural districts. The unemployed and ill-paid labourers of Dorsetshire and Wiltshire would flock to Manchester and Liverpool, were it not that they knew such a state of things as the present would not last long. There was, probably, in the agricultural districts less violent alternation of prosperity and distress than in the manufacturing. The agriculturists in times of prosperity were less prosperous, but in times of distress they were also less suffering than the manufacturer, and, therefore, they might probably take the existing condition of the agricultural labourer as affording no unfair test of the average condition of the working classes generally. Now, the question whether they should adopt the Resolution of his noble Friend, turned upon the consideration of whether it were practicable for Parliament to do anything for the improvement of the working classes or not. That condition Parliament ought to improve if possible. That was admitted. The question then turned upon the possibility. Now, in coming to this question, he could not help observing, that it seemed to him an unfounded objection to the Resolutions of his noble Friend to say, as had been said, that they embraced too wide a field. He thought that when his noble Friend was impressing upon the attention of the House the duty of doing something for the labouring classes, it was his noble Friend's business to point out the principle of the different measures which he thought ought to be adopted for their benefit; and it was the more important that his noble Friend should have done this, considering, as the right hon. Member for Taunton had said, that these Resolutions were no less important for what they excluded than for what they included. He believed that there was a very general feeling abroad that something should be done for the improvement of the working classes. Such being the case it was most important rightly to define the limits of what Parliament could do; how far the Legislature could go, and the bounds at which its efforts must cease. But more than this; the different classes of measures to which his noble Friend pointed in the Resolutions before the House, were most closely, most intimately connected. The people were suffering both moral evils arising from the ignorance which legislation had, as yet, only partially succeeded in dispelling; and also from physical evils arising from poverty. But these evils were closely connected. Poverty was too often the result of ignorance, and of that improvidence which ignorance very generally created; and it was no less clear that poverty was one of the frequent causes of ignorance. It was utterly impossible that a population suffering under the pressure of great physical distress could endeavour to obtain the blessings of education. In a Dorsetshire cottage, amid the suffering endured by a labouring man living upon 7s. a week wages, out of which he had to pay a high rent for his cottage, a high price for his fuel, and to feed and clothe his wife and children, was it possible that he could think about education? Was it possible that children suffering under the pressure of such distress could receive with advantage instruction, even were it offered to them? It was totally impossible; and it was, he would add, one of the worst consequences of those particular times of suffering which occurred in the manufacturing districts, that such periods had a tendency to degrade the moral condition of the rising generation. In these years their education was very generally neglected, and their moral condition very generally deteriorated. These two evils of poverty and ignorance were, therefore, very closely connected, and his noble Friend had done well to point out by his Resolutions, that if they meant to improve the condition of the great mass of the population, they must combine with measures of which the object would be to raise their physical condition—others of a different character, tending to dispel the darkness of that ignorance which still so greatly prevailed. His noble Friend had pointed out generally what were the means he would propose to adopt in order to attain both ends. But as they were all agreed as to the importance of education, he would confine what he meant to say to that portion of the Resolutions in which his noble Friend pointed out the means which he thought should be adopted for the improvement of the physical condition of the people, and in order to mitigate the pressure of poverty and distress. Now, it was most true, that neither Government nor Parliament could directly cure poverty. The great body of the people of all countries must rely upon the earnings of their labour; and it must depend upon the wages which that labour could command whether their condition would be one of comfort or the reverse. All experience had proved that the regulation of wages by any direct measure was beyond the power of Parliament. Any attempt of that kind would only aggravate existing evils. But his noble Friend did not propose any such visionary measure. What he looked to for the mitigation of distress, and the improvement of the condition of the people, was the simple but effectual course of relieving industry from the restrictions under which it now laboured. He contended that it was the restrictions which they imposed upon industry which were the indirect causes of the suffering of the working classes. What they should do was to leave the labouring man free to make the most of his labour in his own way. Were they to act upon this principle, the industry so severely honest of the English labourer, would secure him a comfortable subsistence. This was his position — one, he thought, capable of the clearest demonstration. What was it which made the great distinction between a state of society rich and civilized, and one barbarous and poor? What constituted the distinction between such a country as this and a savage one? It lay mainly in the efficiency of labour in a civilized country. There the skill of the labourers, the tools and instruments which they used, the vast amount of fixed capital which they possessed to aid them in their toil, enabled them to produce that vast amount of wealth which enriched a State. And, again, from whence arose this efficiency of labour? Mainly from the division of employment, rendered possible by barter and exchange. In barbarous countries, every man produced that which he wanted. The consequence was, a general state of destitution—a low position in the social scale. As society advanced, this primary state of things underwent a gradual revolution. The system of the division of labour began to be understood and adopted. Proceeding a step further, they found the practice of exchange, at first confined to individuals, extending to communities; and thus the different advantages which different soils, climates, and situations afforded, were brought out and exchanged for the purpose of supplying different wants; the whole beautiful machinery put in work in order to increase the comforts and elevate the social condition of civilized society. Whenever they interfered to stop this exchange they interfered to thwart the intentions of Providence—to diminish the advantages which different countries should share with each other—to diminish the efficiency of labour, and thus to decrease the value of that only commodity which industry possessed. If this were true, it followed as an inevitable consequence that the whole system of protection was calculated to degrade and lower the condition of the working classes, and, indeed, of all the other classes, both of this country and all the countries with which that system prevented us from carrying on a natural commerce. Of all restrictions there was no one so utterly indefensible, no one so mischievous, no one so unjust, as that which restricted the people from importing freely the food necessary for their daily sustenance. It was a system so monstrous, so unjust, that it could not be discussed too often. Its tendency to impoverish the working classes could be best tested by comparing the condition of our working population with that of the working population of countries differently situated —countries where there was a large extent of fertile land available, such as Canada, the United States, or our Australian Colonies. Let him ask the right hon. Baronet opposite to give a plain answer to a plain question: how did the right hon. Baronet account for the fact, that the English labourer, when he emigrated to the United States, to Canada, or to South Australia, immediately found himself far better off than he had been at home, with a far greater command of the necessaries, and with a command, indeed, of some of the luxuries of life? It was not denied that such was the fact, and he wished to ask how the right hon. Baronet accounted for it. The reason was not that the emigrant became more industrious than he had been; no one could charge the English labourer with want of industry; in fact, when he got to the Colonies, the English labourer generally worked much less than he had been used to do, for the simple reason that he found with much less work he could get more wages than he had been used to get. Nor was it because his labour was more productive in the Colonies than it had been at home; so far from it, his labour in this country was far more productive than it was in the Colonies. Nor was it because the deductions in point of taxation were less in the Colonies; for in proportion to its means, this country was by no means a highly taxed country, if you reckon only those taxes which are raised for the purposes of revenue, and not the taxes levied for protection. What, then, was the cause of the fact he had stated? It was, that in the countries he had mentioned there were large tracts of land available, which enabled the labourer emigrating to them, for a payment next to nothing, to obtain the means of earning a subsistence, while in this country the labourer possessed no such facilities. Some Gentlemen in that House, and many out of it, were fond of dwelling upon the improvement which they conceived might be made in the condition of the labouring classes by carrying out the allotment system. Without entering into the merits or demerits of that system, or into the question whether or no it might not, in the end, lead to greater evil than good, he would certainly admit at once that if every labourer in Dorsetshire, for instance, could have four or five acres transferred to him, as a freehold property, without any payment being required for it, undoubtedly he could maintain himself in tolerable comfort thereon; and it was equally clear, that if every labourer had a similar patch of land given him, none of them would work for hire, unless the hire was greater, or, at all events, fully as great as the amount he realized by his land. But it was impossible that all the labourers could, in this country, have so much land assigned them; and it was precisely this want of sufficient land here, in proportion to the population, which was the cause of the depressed state of our labouring classes. What, I then, he and those who thought with him, asked of the Government was, that if they did not call upon the Government and its supporters to interfere with property in land, Government should not continue to interfere with property in labour, or prevent the labourer, if he could not raise corn for himself, from exchanging his labour for corn on the most favourable terms he could. He would say, therefore, that the Corn Laws were responsible for the depressive condition of the working classes of this country. In these days of easy intercommunication it was perfectly monstrous that the labourers of England should not be allowed to obtain from countries where land and corn were superabundant, that food which they could not obtain by the cultivation of the soil of their own lands, in exchange for the goods which they could so advantageously manufacture, and of which the corn-growing countries were in need. As to protection, it was a mockery, a cruel delusion, a prohibition to the working classes of this country to accept the food which was offered them, and which their labour, properly applied, could so well enable them to pay for in the form of tools, of clothes, and of manufactured goods. All parties would be infinitely better for the exchange, yet the British Parliament absolutely forbade the exchange to be made. He knew what was the ordinary answer of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in these cases. It was, that other countries would not take things from us in exchange, and the high tariff of America was pointed to as a triumphant illustration of this. At all events, this argument was not applicable to our own Colonies; yet it was only a few days ago that the opposite side of the House refused to allow the Australians to send their corn to this country. The hon. Member for Radnorshire (Sir John Walsh), for instance, who talked so much of the overpopulation of England, and of the necessity of sending out our labourers to Australia, was precisely one of the meu who had denied to the Colonists already settled in Australia the right of sending us their produce hither, in exchange for our manufactures. The hon. Gentleman, and those with whom he voted, seemed to have no idea that if we relieved our population by giving them work to do, in the shape of goods which we permitted them to export freely, the end would be as well, would be better answered, than by exporting the labourers. Even as to America, let him ask, had we ever tried in good earnest whether they would exchange with us? Had we ever tried the experiment of admitting their agricultural produce in lieu of ours? Let us only allow their corn to come in at a low rate, and by the cheapest and most direct route, instead of having it shuffled in circuitously and under false names, and rely upon it the utmost benefit would speedily be conferred upon both countries. He was persuaded that were we in good earnest to try the experiment, we should speedily find ourselves mistaken in the notion that the Americans would not take our goods in exchange for their own produce. No one who was acquainted with the real state of things in America could doubt that if we created a demand in the western states of America for our productions, by allowing them to send their produce in payment, a repeal of the present high Tariff would almost immediately take place. And even suppose the Americans did not at once reciprocate, who would be the sufferer? Their corn would still come here, and the only result to them of keeping up their high Tariff would be, that they would receive payment for it in a way the least beneficial to them; while, as to our goods, they would, if a regular trade in them were rejected by the States, be smuggled into America along the whole of the far stretching Canadian frontier. Nothing could be easier, as nothing could be more advantageous, than for us to obtain a large and certain supply of food from abroad, adequate to the utmost wants of our increasing population. The price of the food so obtained might very probably not be much less than the present price of corn; but the advantage would be, as to price, that it would always remain comparatively easy and not be subject to the terribly mischievous alternations which prevailed under the present system. The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir James Graham) had borne testimony to the great advantages which had already been derived by the community from the low price of corn which had of late prevailed. The right hon. Baronet had told the House what that low price of corn had already effected for the country; he had told them that, as the price of food had gone down, wages, as well money wages as what wages go to pay, had risen—that the poor rates had fallen—that applications for relief to the poor rates had become fewer and fewer—that crime had diminished—that education had become more diffused throughout the country. These effects the right hon. Baronet had himself admitted to have been consequent upon the late abundant supply and low price of food. But these advantages, under the present system, could only be enjoyed by fits and starts for a time, and on the uncertain tenure of the barometer. What they required was, that the advantages of cheapness and sufficiency of food should not depend on the uncertain tenure of the weather, but upon the good will and good feeling of nations, and the encouragement of our national industry. If that were the case the evils of dearth and scarcity could be avoided. The remarkable difference which existed at present as regarded the wages of labour in different parts of the country—the difference between the wages in manufacturing districts and in some of the poorer parts of the country, was an evil which would be altogether removed by adopting a course which would steadily increase the prosperity, and give still greater encouragement to the industry of the country. If the demand for labour in the manufacturing districts were more steady and continuous than it is, that steadiness of demand would go a great way towards improving the condition of the poorer part of the agricultural population, by enabling them to obtain wages more like the wages of the others in amount. It was quite clear and evident that a cheap supply of food enabled the labourer to expend more money in the purchase of clothing and other articles than he could expend when food was dear; and therefore it followed, as the necessary result, that the supply of food at a cheap rate was a great element in prospetity, by giving an increased demand on the part of the working classes for such articles as clothing and other necessaries, that they were enabled to buy in larger quantities when food was cheap. If there were, on the part of the labourer, an increased demand for clothing and other articles, it was quite clear that there would be produced a proportionate increase in the employment and prosperity of those who produced such articles. If, therefore, there were a free trade in corn, he was justified in calculating that there would be an increased demand for all descriptions of produce in the country; and the profits of those who produced them would be greatly increased. It was to him quite evident that if there were a free trade in corn, all the industry of the country would be benefited, as the advantages would not be confined to one class, but would extend to the agricultural as well as to the manufacturing districts. That appeared to him to be the undeniable result which would follow the removal of restrictions of every description. He perfectly agreed with what had been said by the right hon. Baronet as to a good harvest being one of the greatest blessings which this or any other country could enjoy; but if there was one drawback, namely, the suffering of the agricultural classes, they would admit that it would be a great evil. They had heard it stated as a complaint that the agriculturists had not participated in the general prosperity under the present system, and he believed that a removal of restriction would be of the greatest possible advantage to the agriculturists; for the inequality of prices was a great cause of loss to those engaged in agricultural pursuits, whilst a more steady system of prices would cause more capital to be expended in improvement, and the farmers would incur less expense when there was a lower scale of prices; but he was perfectly convinced that the result of a system which would produce a steadier description of prices would be to cause a great extension and improvement of agriculture. He did not believe that an increased consumption of foreign corn in this country was incompatible with a very considerable increase of produce at home, and a general improvement of the condition of the working classes. He believed that the removal of restriction was the true mode of increasing production by encouraging the industry of the country, and advancing the general prosperity. And he had no doubt, that so far from such a system decreasing the production of British produce, it would tend to increase it. With those views he could not take any other course than cordially to support the Resolutions of his noble Friend the Member for the city of London; setting forth, as they did, his opinion, that the restrictions upon the freedom of industry, and particularly as regarded corn, were the main cause of the depressed condition of the working classes of this country. He was greatly opposed to those restrictions, because, but for them, he did not see any reason why the working classes of this country should not be as well off as the working classes in the United States or in Canada. He perfectly agreed with his noble Friend who had brought forward those Resolutions, with respect to the opinion that restriction was the cause of the depressed condition of the working classes of this country; but he went beyond his noble Friend in the conclusions to which he had come as to the effects of that restriction. If they recognised the fact as stated by his noble Friend, the deduction which he drew was clear and undoubted—if they admitted that restriction was the cause of the present comparative inefficiency of industry—if they admitted the right of the working man to exchange the produce of his labour wherever he got the most advantageous return, then he thought that the system of restriction ought not to be any longer maintained—that it ought to be at once abandoned. He (Lord Howick) agreed with the hon. Member for Winchester, in thinking that protection was on an unsound foundation; and he believed that in a few short years, nay, that in a few short months, they might see it crumble to the ground. He was of opinion that the time for compromise had gone by, and that they had now arrived at a period when they could not persevere in maintaining this injurious system. If the Legislature had taken the proper step a few years ago, when it was proposed with respect to this important subject, they might, perhaps, have prevented much of what had since followed; but the Legislature had refused to do so, and it was now too late to make any compromise of this great subject. ["Question."] Did those hon. Members who cried Question, mean to tell him that his arguments were utterly senseless? If so, they could be very easily answered; but for his part, he would rather be refuted by counter argument than by clamour and whisper. He felt strongly convinced of the injury which the system of restriction inflicted on the industrious classes of this country, and he felt bound to express that conviction; and if Gentlemen came down to that House with large majorities at their back to maintain a system which took the bread out of the mouths of the working classes, they were bound to allow those who were opposed to the system to express their opinions against it. They would ere many years had passed see those Gentlemen at the hustings, and they would then be able to judge of whether the country approved or disapproved of the course which they had pursued in maintaining those restrictions. He could assure those hon. Members who advocated the maintenance of the restrictive system, that the time had gone by when even any compromise could be entered into on that question, and that we had now arrived at a period when the Corn Laws and every other description of protecting duty must soon be changed; for he did not apply his observations to the removal of protection from corn alone, as he was of opinion that it ought to be removed from every other article. He could wish to go through the whole Tariff altogether, and abolish every duty which was not levied bonâ fide for the purpose of revenue. He was of opinion that every duty, which was levied for the purpose of protection ought to be at once repealed. The right hon. Baronet opposite appeared to differ from him as to the mode by which this desirable end could be attained; and the right hon. Baronet had quoted the opinion of Mr. Huskisson, that protection ought to be relaxed as population increased; and the right hon. Gentleman went on to show that population was increasing in this country at the rate of 380,000 persons per year. If the right hon. Gentleman were then to go on reducing protection as population increased, the right hon. Gentleman only differed from him as to the best mode of arriving at free trade; but he would say that the best mode of arriving at free trade was the shortest, the quickest, and the most direct; and he said that with a view to the prosperity and advantage of the agricultural interest. What the agriculturist wanted was security and certainty—to know what was likely to be the future state of things, in order that he might understand his real position. The former was desirous to see his real position, and to ascertain what was to be the course adopted in future; for it was by such certainty that they would encourage the expenditure of capital on land, and the increased advance of agricultural improvement. They could not give this advantage to the farmer—they could not give him an assurance of certainty and stability by any other means than by the removal of protecting duties. Mr. Huskisson's opinion had been cited as a proof of the advantage of gradually lessening protective duties. But, although he would not yield to any man in his admiration of Mr. Huskisson, or of the good which he had done to his country, yet he could not forget that Mr. Huskisson was then speaking of a new course; and he meant no disrespect to Mr. Huskisson when he remarked that we were now, after twenty years experience, in a better condition to form a judgment of that fact. All the experience of the last twenty years went to prove that it was the wisest course for them to get rid altogether of a system of protection which had thoroughly failed in the purposes for which it had been established. The system of protection had been found invariably to be a delusion, and to be injurious to those whose interests it was intended to maintain, whilst the constant changes and alterations to which it led kept the trade of this country in a perpetual fever. With these views he would support the Resolutions of his noble Friend, and in conclusion ask the House, was it not their duty to remove those restrictions which had been proved to be so injurious.

Sir J. Hanmer

said, that after a discussion which had proceeded so languidly, he should confine the observations which he had to offer within a very small compass. Had the present been a Corn Law debate, he should have been ready to assign reasons which would have militated against the arguments brought forward by the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland. He had always thought that a moderate fixed duty would satisfy all the exigencies of the farmers, and likewise prove an excellent source of revenue. His opinion was, that whenever the import duty was taken off an article of foreign produce, the cost price of it was raised on the other side of the water; but he thought, at the same time, that with respect to corn, sufficient had been said to show that a duty for the purposes of revenue might be levied upon that article without proving injurious to the labouring classes, in so far as the price of their food was concerned. He should be doing a great injustice to the present Government, if he were to deny that their measures were calculated to promote the interests of the labouring classes in some respects. Whenever the history of the present Ministry should be written, those even who might be most opposed to their party views would be obliged to acknowledge that, amidst difficulties of no ordinary magnitude, the Government had applied itself manfully to overcoming them; and although at present they were not able to say they had accomplished their task, and although much still remained to be done, he was not one who would deny that they had achieved what the wisest and greatest statesmen who might succeed them, would be proud to lay claim to. He was ready to admit, with the noble Lord the Member for London, that with an increasing population, the mode of best promoting emigration to the Colonies, was a consideration worthy of being thought well of. He did not, however, perceive any chance of dealing with that question upon principles which accorded with his views. He should like to see emigration carried out upon a principle more harmonious to the general feelings and sympathies of the people. With respect to the Poor Law question, which had been introduced by the noble Lord into the present discussion, he should only observe, that although the last Report of the Commissioners had stated the fact of a great diminution having taken place in the amount levied for the support of the poor, still the same document admitted in broad terms that no less than one-eighth of the whole population was, during the last year, dependent upon the poor rates for subsistence: this was a state of things which ought to be grappled with. There was one subject upon which he felt disposed to say a few words, and that was, the high importance which ought to attach to affording the people the means of acquiring an education in the arts. In the Committee upon that subject which sat during the year 1835, several eminent artists gave their unequivocal testimony to the importance of improving the artistic education of the people. Amongst others Mr. Wyon and Mr. Cockerell both gave evidence to that effect. With respect to the general policy upon which the economic measures of the present Government were founded, he must say that he had not the least doubt of its soundness, or of its ultimate success. He must, however, say, that he saw no prospect of securing the happiness, the safety, or the political tranquillity of the Empire, so far as the agricultural classes were concerned, until those connected with the land should not singly, nor even partially, but universally, adopt and act upon the opinion that it was absolutely imperative upon them to bring the cultivation of the country into a state more commensurate with the greatness of England than it now was. At the present moment there was no doubt that agriculture was far behind.

Sir R. Peel

In the course of the speech recently delivered, the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland adverted, with expressions of surprise and some indignanation, at the apparent indifference and apathy with which this debate has been treated; and the noble Lord noticed especially the absence of many Members of this House who have ever manifested a warm interest in the improvement of the condition of the lower classes in this country. If I thought, Sir, that apathy could be justly charged upon this House—if I thought, when the question was the improvement of the condition of the lower classes in this country, there was any real indifference to a matter of such extreme importance, not only to those classes themselves, but to every other class in the community—I should believe that this House Was giving a decisive proof that it was incompetent to discharge the high functions of a legislative body. I believe, Sir, that this apparent apathy, and that this absence of many hon. Members who feel a deep interest in the welfare of those classes, are attributable to the predominant feeling, that the noble Lord the Member for London has not brought forward this measure in a manner calculated to lead to any practical results. And with regard to the noble Lord's (Lord Howick) comments on the absence of my noble Friend the Member for the county of Dorset (Lord Ashley), I think that there is no Member of this House who has manifested a greater desire to carry out, by practical measures, what he has thought would be for the benefit of the labouring classes; but my noble Friend (Lord Ashley) has taken a different course from the noble Lord the Member for London. My noble Friend has suggested practical measures; he has pointed out in detail the improvements he seeks to introduce; he has not contented himself with general and indefinite Resolutions; he has suggested the practical manner in which he will apply a remedy; and my noble Friend, therefore, is the last person upon whom invidious comments ought to be made on account of his absence on this occasion. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, turning to his right or turning to his left, might have made, with equal justice, the same observation. I will not pursue the same course. I will not remind the noble Lord, that many who will vote with him this evening were not of our company during that dreary period of this night when it was almost impossible to keep a House together; as the House may not be aware that in the early part of the evening an attempt—an unsuccessful attempt—was made to terminate this debate, by counting out the House. This did not arise from any indifference to the great subject to which the noble Lord has called our attention; but it is solely attributable to the deep and prevailing conviction, that the noble Lord has not introduced the question in such a manner that we can possibly come to a decision upon it. I am not about to enter into any discussion on the topics raised by the noble Lord. I do not believe that any useful purpose can be answered by it. The noble Lord has discussed the policy of an alteration in the law of settlement—he has discussed the principles on which emigration ought to be conducted — he has discussed the policy of altering the protective duties upon foreign imports. Each of these subjects, Sir, is well deserving of separate discussion; for each, if the subject is to be treated with justice, we must set apart a time for its discussion worthy of its vast importance: but, upon questions so important, a discussion so desultory can, in my opinion, lead to no useful results. And then, as if the noble Lord had not entered upon a field sufficiently wide, one hon. Gentleman attaches to the Resolution his views upon the Poor Laws, and another his opinions on the franchise. They have felt compelled, by the course the noble Lord has pursued, to add other measures to his Resolutions. Now, independently of the number of subjects introduced, it is impossible for me to give my assent to the mode in which the noble Lord has introduced them. I do not think it is wise to adopt abstract Resolutions for the alteration of the law of settlement, without knowing something of the mode in which it is about to be altered. Then, with respect to the question of colonization, no one knows better than the noble Lord the difficulties on that subject. When the noble Lord was Colonial Minister, he must recollect the recommendations of the Colonization Commissioners, made in the year 1840. They stated to the noble Lord, that there never was a time when emigration on an extensive scale could be carried on with greater advantage to both parties, to the mother country and to the Colonies. Yet the noble Lord did not adopt the urgent recommendations of his own Commissioners; the noble Lord did not adopt their specific plan of applying 50,000l. to the purpose of emigration to Canada; and the noble Lord must excuse me for saying that, as Colonial Minister, he did not carry out that mode of systematic colonization which he now proposes. I do not mean to say—I do not say—that colonization is not a subject of great importance; but before I commit myself by an abstract Resolution to the approval of any system of colonization, I should like to know the details. Then, with respect to education: the noble Lord admitted in the course of his speech, which was on this point characterized by an absence of aspersions and of party spirit peculiarly becoming in the discussion of a subject in which all must take a common interest—the noble Lord did justice to the course we have pursued, and the intentions we entertain with regard to education. The noble Lord says that we ought to have increased the grant for education in the present year. We have proposed for Ireland, to support a system of general education, in the present year, a Vote of 75,000l.; in 1841, the Vote was 50,000l. With respect to England, in the year 1841, the Vote sanctioned by Parliament was 30,000l.; in 1844, that Vote was 40,000l.; and in the present year we propose that the Vote shall be 75,000l., being an increase in the Vote we now take, over the Vote of last year, of 35,000l. on a Vote of 40,000l. Now, Sir, I will admit, with the noble Lord, that considerations of economy, or, I should rather say, of parsimony, ought not to make us sparing in this Vote for education; but with respect to reduction, we have not done anything to forfeit the confidence of this House. I think that the great object in furthering systematic education is, to carry with you the voluntary assistance of the country. Systematic education merely conducted by and at the expense of the Government, will in this free country be of little avail, compared with aids and assistance rendered by the Government calling upon those whose moral duty it is to contribute their money and their time towards promoting the education of the people, zealously to co-operate with them in the achievement of the end desired. Let there not be too great a profusion; but let us be as liberal as is consistent with the attainment of the end, and let us proceed so gradually that we may carry with us the voluntary and active co-operation of those without whose aid we cannot do any good. Then, not only will our aid be effective, but we know that there is no connecting link binding together the lower and the upper classes, of a greater power than the manifestation of a desire to contribute towards the improvement of those from whose industry and labour we receive such great advantages. The noble Lord asks us to declare— That this House will be ready to give its support to measures, founded on liberal and comprehensive principles, which may be conducive to the further extension of religious and moral instruction. Now, Sir, we have had recent experience of the practical difficulty of dealing with this matter. We must not be too lavish in our promises to promote education "founded on liberal and comprehensive principles." It is very easy to make promises; it is very easy to give a pledge; but recollect the contest in which we have been recently engaged. We thought that we had proposed, with respect to the education of the Roman Catholic priests, a liberal and comprehensive measure; but when we came to deal with the regulations necessary to carry out our views, we could not have done so if we had been fettered by any pledge. It is better to deal with a practical measure than to give a promise beforehand on what may be supposed to be liberal and comprehensive principles. Therefore, not only do I object to the Resolution as involving many subjects which it will be better to dispose of on separate discussions; but I also object to pledge Parliament to an alteration of the law of settlement, to a system of emigration, to comprehensive and liberal education; and then, having given the pledge, when we come to deal practically with the questions on which we have led the country by our Resolutions to suppose we shall adopt, to find that we cannot among ourselves agree. These reasons appear to me to be decisive against the adoption of the Resolutions of the noble Lord. The noble Lord, however, independently of those Resolutions, asks the House to declare that— Those laws which impose Duties usually called protective tend to impair the efficiency of labour, to restrict the free interchange of commodities, and to impose on the people unnecessary Taxation. He next proceeds to condemn the Corn Laws, which he says— Holds out to the owners and occupiers of land prospects of special advantages which it fails to secure; and then he proposes that the House should commit itself to a Resolution to take those laws into its consideration. Now, I am surprised that the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland should vote for those Resolutions, because the noble Lord the Member for the city of London attached this condition to the consideration of the law, "with a view to such cautious and deliberate arrangements as may be most beneficial to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects." I do not think, if I were obliged to come to an abstract resolution, that I could take an exception to this; it looks as if the noble Lord meant to pay a compliment to the course taken by Her Majesty's present Ministers, because we maintain that this is precisely the course we have taken. We have added no protective duty; our course has been to withdraw protection; but we have withdrawn it in accordance with such "cautious and deliberate arrangements as may be most beneficial to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects." But really I do not see how it is possible for any hon. Gentleman who thinks, with the noble Lord the Member for Sunderland, that the repeal of the Corn Laws should be immediate and unconditional, and that the repeal of every protective duty should be made indiscriminately and without delay, to vote for the Resolution of the noble Lord, which requires "cautious and deliberate arrangements." The two noble Lords have expressed very different opinions on this subject. The noble Lord the Member for Sunderland says, that the repeal of the Corn Laws ought to be immediate. But the noble Lord the author of these Resolutions, when he was asked by the hon. Member for Essex, I think, what plan he would propose in the event of the House assenting to them, answered that he should propose a fixed duty; that it might be 4s. or 5s. or 6s., the 4s. or the 6s. depending (I apprehend) upon the good conduct of the hon. Gentleman and his friends; if they acquiesced willingly, and gave the noble Lord a ready support, they might perhaps obtain the 6s.; but if they showed a desire to throw obstacles in the way, then they might prepare to submit to the penalty of having 4s. The noble Lord omitted to state whether he still retained the opinion which he expressed strongly on a former occasion, that it would be necessary to make some provision for the removal of this protection—that it would be impossible, in the event of very unfavourable harvests prevailing here and on the Continent, and a very high price of corn prevailing, to levy this high duty—and that it would be necessary to make some provision by which the Executive Government should have authority to alter and relax it. Whether the noble Lord has confidence in the permanency of his present plan I know not; but he did certainly omit to state whether that appendage to his original plan was now intended by him or not. The noble Lord, however, contents himself with asking all parties to unite in his first Resolution, foreseeing the difficulty be would have upon the second and third—that first Resolution being— That the present state of political tranquillity, and the recent revival of trade, afford to this House a favourable opportunity to consider of such measures as may tend permanently to improve the condition of the labouring classes. I cannot deny that the condition of the labouring classes is a subject which at all times ought to occupy great attention; it is impossible to overrate its importance. But that Resolution, if passed by this House, is to be communicated to the Crown. Now, I perfectly admit that in the speech of the noble Lord there was no expression with which any one could find fault on account of its savouring of party hostility or party spirit; but I cannot conceal from myself, that the agreeing to this Resolution, and communicating it to the Crown, imply—and probably are intended to imply—distrust and want of confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers. It is for the House to determine whether the course which we have pursued deserves this—whether the imposition of taxes upon those who can afford to pay them, and availing ourselves of the opportunity to relieve industry of many of the burdens upon it, is a course which justly subjects us to such a mark of disapprobation on the part of this House. I can only say that I doubt whether, in the past experience of this House, during any former three years, greater efforts have been made for the purpose of promoting the comforts and improving the social condition of the labouring classes of this country, than have been made by Her Majesty's Ministers. You attribute the success of those efforts to the seasons. I can only appeal to the improvement of the Tariff—to the simplification of your code of laws by which imports were regulated—to the duties we have remitted—to the prohibitions we have abolished; I can refer to them with confidence as a proof that, whether seasons have been favourable or not—whether we have carried the principles which we hold to, the full extent to which they ought to be carried, or have failed, yet still the principle upon which we have proceeded is a sound one, and that we have not been remiss in giving effect to it. I can see nothing which ought to disentitle us in that respect to the confidence of the House. When the particular measure of the Corn Laws shall be brought forward separately, on the Motion for a total repeal, by the hon. Member who has always strenuously, perseveringly, and ably advocated it, we shall have the opportunity of discussing the question; I do not think the partial discussion of it now could be entered upon with advantage. From the principle involved in the second and third Resolutions, that protective duties are in themselves evils, I cannot withhold my assent; but I believe that the retrocession from any such course requires the utmost consideration. I believe that success will ultimately be better attained by a due consideration of the mighty interests which are involved, than by any such hasty and precipitate conclusions as the noble Lord would have us pledged to. Perhaps we have gone far enough. It appears that, although we have not gained your confidence (addressing the Opposition Members) yet, according to the statement made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex (Sir J. Tyrrell), in diminishing protection to agriculture, we have forfeited the confidence of those with whom he is connected. How far he is authorized to speak the sentiments of a very large and powerful party, I know not; but this I must say, that I cannot consent to repurchase their confidence by the expression of any regret or penitence on account of the course which we have pursued. I believe that our course has conduced to the general interests of this country. I will not draw the contrast for the purpose of exalting one Administration at the expense of another; but when I contrast the position of this country in the winter of 1842 with its position at the present moment, I never will admit that we have taken any other course than that which became the Ministers of the Crown, and Ministers professing Conservative principles. Sir, I will say that I was gratified with the speech of the hon. Member who has just addressed the House (Sir J. Hanmer), the Representative of a great commercial community; he, at least, has done justice to the intentions and the acts of Her Majesty's Ministers. It may he true that the prices of agricultural produce may be low. Whether that be or be not deemed to be the effect of the law in respect of the importation of cattle, or of corn, I believe that the effect of that law has been to interpose an effectual precaution against a great increase of price, rather than that the law has acted unfavourably on the agricultural interest. I am not prepared to alter those laws; I can give no assurance with respect to any alteration. I proposed them after due consideration, and I think nothing is so injurious as the constant alteration of a law of this nature. But, with respect to the effect of the law, so far as it has had any, I believe it to be a beneficial effect, in tending to prevent an increase of price. I believe it has had a beneficial effect upon all classes of the community, and especially upon the proprietors of land. Sir, the interests and the welfare of the proprietors of land do not depend upon the mere nominal sum which the quarter of corn may fetch. I should almost disdain to notice the insinuations that all my interests are involved in the land, and nothing else, as if I were influenced by a mere sordid desire of personal gain; but I ask the landed interests to recollect that it is not merely the nominal price of corn by which their welfare is determined. If I looked to the state of the north of England and the details received in 1842 of distress, of privation, of consequent suffering and crime—I will not now repeat them, the time has passed, God grant it may never return!—God grant that the precautions taken against it may be effectual! but if I read to the House what were the accounts of the state of that district, I think I could convince the most zealous advocate for the landed interest, the advocate most disposed to consider that the predominant interest, that it was not benefited by the continuance of such a state of things as then existed. I will not read you the accounts we received then; but here is the contrast. Here is the account given by that distinguished man who commands in the northern district, and who did command in 1842. He writes, in the present year:—

"York, March 1. Uninterrupted tranquillity has prevailed in the district under my command during the past month. Trade and manufactures continue to flourish. So completely has all disposition to political agitation of any description ceased, that an attempt made the other day at Hull to muster a Chartist meeting proved an entire failure. Then in May he writes:— "York, May 2. The same uniform and universal tranquillity and prosperity continue to prevail in the district under my command, as I reported last month; and the only remarkable circumstance worth mentioning is the total absence of all political agitation amongst the mass of the people, and the total indifference that seems to exist amongst the same class on the particular subject which is now so generally agitated by a portion of the regular and Dissenting clergy, viz., the Maynooth grant. At all events, it seems quite out of the question that any feeling could be raised in the mass of the population on this occasion so as to disturb the peace of the country for one moment. I say, set against some reduction in agricultural protection the immense social benefit of such a change as that. You will be governed, I know, by your kindly feelings towards the people, and by higher considerations than those of mere pecuniary interest; but, depend upon it, the state of things that existed in 1842 could not have continued without the landowner being the first and principal sufferer. The hon. Member for Essex says, that he expected he was forming an agricultural Government, and he has been totally disappointed, and he withdraws his confidence from us; now I advise my hon. Friend to content himself with the withdrawal of his confidence, and not to assign the reasons. The hon. Member says, that my remedy has been to make the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country prosperous; in short, he says, to make them rich and hungry. Can there be anything more beneficial to the agricultural interest than first to make the manufacturing and commercial interests hungry, and then to make them rich? But, if we are not to gain your confidence [addressing the Opposition Members] on account of the slowness of our progress, and if we are to forfeit the confidence of those who have been hitherto our friends, on account of the rapidity of them, I must say I do most cordially hope that in that state of things you will both unite, not only in common accordance as to the course which shall be pursued, but in one common expression of want of confidence in the existing Government. For this is clear, that although you may not in general agree, yet a Government which has lost the confidence of one party, and has not gained the confidence of the other, is one that cannot satisfactorily administer the affairs of the country. To avert the consequences of such a loss of confidence, seeing as I do the consequences of the course we have pursued, I cannot express any regret or repentance. The principles we have acted upon are, I believe, sound; to those principles I must adhere. We will accompany the execution of them, as we have done before, with that cautious and deliberate consideration of all interests which the noble Lord enjoins upon us; but the principles themselves are sound. Believing in their soundness, no man contends more zealously than I do for the guardianship or the protection of individual interests; for the satisfactory promotion of the cause itself, it is most wise, most prudent, and most just, not to be rash and hasty in your decisions, but to apply a great principle with that caution and deliberation which shall recommend its adoption to all parties in this House.

Lord J. Russell

I think the House will feel that, though I occupied their attention for a considerable time in moving these Resolutions, I cannot leave the speech of the right hon. Baronet altogether unnoticed. I will pass over some of the subjects upon which I might have been tempted to reply to the observations made on my speech; and above all, I will not inflict on the House any extracts from the reports of the chaplains of gaols in Sussex, which I think would show that what I had stated with respect to the education of prisoners in the gaol of Lewes was perfectly correct. Neither will I allude to the questions of colonization or education. But I wish to state to the House what the point is upon which I wish it to express its opinion. The question I wish to lay before the House is this—whether it is wise to make a further alteration in the import duties, and especially in that on corn? Whether it is wise to commence that change now, or whether it will be better to wait for a period of distress before you make that alteration? That there must be some further change in the Corn Laws, I think every day's experience shows. In the first place, it is evident, from every debate in this House, that the arguments in favour of the system of protection are growing weaker and weaker. And, in the next place, it must be obvious to the House that in every debate there are persons who have not expressed that opinion before, who come forward and say that they care little for protection. A noble Lord, on the first night of the debate, said he cared little for protection to corn; and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Winchester, who has to-night made an able speech, says, that the system of protection is tottering to its fall, and that the abolition of the Corn Laws must, in many respects, benefit the labourer. With such testimonies as these, and with the defenders of the Corn Laws using and repeating arguments which they formerly used, and urging them with diminished force, it is obvious that the time must soon come when there must be a further relaxation, and when the high duty of 40 and 50 per cent. on the food of the people will no longer be defended in Parliament. If that is the case answer my question. You are now—whether or not by the measures of Government I will not inquire—but you are now in a state of comparative prosperity. Your labourers generally are better off than they were when the price of food was high. You could, therefore, legislate without the least suspicion of your motives. You could legislate with the means of bringing the whole circumstances before you necessary to guide you in your decision. Now, Sir, can we be sure—will the opponents of my Resolutions to-night assure me, that they feel convinced that in a state of distress, when there has been a bad harvest, when corn has risen to a high price, that they can maintain the present Corn Law exactly as it stands at, present? If these laws are not to be maintained, if this system is not to be continued, it will be well to legislate upon such subjects with some calmness and deliberation. It might so happen that in consequence of their long resistance to any alteration in these laws, those who are most deeply interested in the maintenance of the Corn Law might suffer by the attacks directed against them as the chief defenders of that law; and if there should be any such, might not the institutions of this country be in danger, if in any times of public extremity you are invited to the consideration of this question? If there be a fair case made out for any alteration in these laws, whatever may be the opinions entertained as to its merits, I call upon you as prudent men to make a concession now, at a period when it can be made with the best possible effect. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and also the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, referred the alterations which had taken place of late for the better, in the condition of the agricultural interests, to the measures they had adopted. Now, I think that change has not been the result of any alteration which has been introduced, but is rather the effect of favourable seasons; and such being the case, I think it makes a very material alteration in the argument. No matter what measures might be brought about by a wise Government to remedy the existing evils, the seasons will always produce a material effect; and you must always expect those alternations and vicissitudes which we have before experienced, and which we may experience again; and against these things it is our duty, if possible, to provide. In the year 1830, Sir E. Knatchbull moved an Amendment upon the Address, to the effect that the distress amongst the agricultural classes was not partial but general. In 1836, however, you heard nothing but speeches declaring how great was the prosperity of the country in all the various branches of trade and manufacture. In iron, in woollen, in silk, and cotton, we were told there was not only a great increase in the exportation of manufactured goods, but also in the internal consumption. In 1837, there was a great deal of dangerous and ruinous speculation. Then again, in 1838, the price of corn began to rise, and that of course affected the condition of the labouring classes injuriously. After this followed a few bad seasons, and the consequence was that the time became one of serious suffering to the people. Are not these facts sufficient to show you that there may be again alternations of prosperity and distress? I, therefore, wish to take the opinion of the House whether they ought not now to decide upon the expediency of changing the measures now in existence. Is it not better that if an alteration is to take place, it should be made at a time of comparative quiet and prosperity? Is it not better, that whatever political struggles we have to go through hereafter, they may not be made darker by the reflection which might prevail, that there is one section of the community secured by the law a portion of wealth to which they were not justly entitled. But it seems to me that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that the adoption of my Resolutions would imply a vote of want of confidence in Her Majesty's present Government, would go as strong against any proposition for the alteration of any law which did not emanate from themselves. [Sir R. Peel intimated across the Table, that the Resolutions involved an Address to the Crown.] It is truly for an Address to the Crown, but that makes no essential difference; for I stated distinctly the reason why I proposed it in that form—that in the present state of things, in all questions of legislation the Ministers of the Crown have taken upon themselves—and no doubt they consider they are right in so doing—the duty almost exclusively of legislating. The same objection of implying a want of confidence in the Government may be urged with equal justice to the Motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton for repealing the Corn Laws; it may with equal justice be said that that question has not been brought forward by the Government, and to bring it forward without their concurrence, implies a want of confidence in them. But upon this point of the case the right hon. Baronet said further, that he and his Colleagues had, he feared, lost the confidence of the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex (Sir J. Tyrrell), and not acquired that of the opposite side. As to that question, which I had thought was quite remote from my Resolutions, it is true the right hon. Gentleman, if he have forfeited the confidence of the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Tyrrell), has not acquired that of the Opposition. That the measures of the right hon. Baronet should have lost for him the confidence of hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House, is not surprising; while they have not been of that character to secure for him that of his opponents. But, though I agree with the hon. Member for Essex, that he had, considering the understanding upon which he had supported the right hon. Baronet in obtaining his present position, grounds for withdrawing his confidence, I disagreed from the hon. Baronet, and those who think with him, that the importation of foreign cattle and Canadian corn has injured the farmers of this country. I do not believe that those importations have been at all injurious: they have had but little effect on the markets of this country; but if those imports had been greater, I am of opinion it would be for the benefit rather than the injury of this country. The agricultural interest must look for their prosperity to the prosperity of the country generally. So far I differ from the hon. Gentlemen opposite. But when they went on to say that they had been led to expect that the present Government would be in favour of protection, and against free trade, I think they were fully justified in making that observation. In fact, the truth of it is undeniable. The speeches of the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) and his Friends in 1839 and 1840, tended to produce, and no doubt did produce, an impression that they were the determined friends and advocates of what was understood as protection to the industry of this country; and while their subsequent measures were in many respects useful, and not pernicious, I must say there is no just ground for placing confidence in them for any party; for it cannot be denied that they had, by declaring against our course of policy, carried the election of 1841, and having thus obtained office, had proposed measures which were beneficial to the country, but at the same time directly opposed to those declarations. As the right hon. Baronet had raised this question of confidence, this was his (Lord John Russell's) answer. But if the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex, after what he had said, should take the course of the hon. Baronet the Member for Devon (Sir J. Y. Buller) in 1841, and move a Vote of want of confidence in the Government, I should hesitate before I agreed with him in that Motion; for what I should have to consider was how we were likely best to carry into effect those measures which are most favourable to our principles. I feel that if those who act along with me were to propose any of those liberal measures which have come from the other side of the House, the hon. Baronet the Member for Essex would oppose those measures; and not only that, but they would be opposed most likely by the hon. Gentlemen themselves who occupy the Ministerial benches, and consequently would be defeated. But thinking as I do, and acting in conformity with the principles which I have always acted on when in office, that these measures are most beneficial to the country, and withal more likely to be carried into effect by the present Government than any other, though I cannot be supposed to entertain any personal confidence in the hon. Gentleman opposite, I prefer not doing anything calculated to shake their tenure of office, or join in any expression of want of confidence in them, because I observe, that those great principles for which we have always striven will, as I said before, be more likely to be carried into effect by the present Administration than by any other.

Viscount Clements

said, that in reading the Resolutions under the consideration of the House, the first thing that struck him was the total absence from them of anything regarding his native country. In reading those Resolutions, he was almost led to imagine that the Repeal of the Union had already been carried. The first of the Resolutions alleged that the country was in a state of tranquillity; but if tranquillity prevailed in that part of the country from which he had come, then had he been of late in a dream. He had heard the other day of a meeting on Tara Hill; and he had come from a county which was in a state of total anarchy, and in which the ribbon system was the governing force. He admitted that the right hon. Baronet had proposed a measure which was calculated to produce hereafter the most beneficial results in Ireland; but the state of society in that country had been such of late years, that unless on conciliatory policy were adopted he should apprehend the most fearful consequences. He objected to those Resolutions on the ground that they had no definite object. With regard to the present law of settlement in this country, he wished to observe that there could not be a greater disgrace to its inhabitants than the manner in which his countrymen were turned back upon their native shores after they had spent the best part of their lives in increasing the wealth and property of the English capitalists.

The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be added, stand part of the Question:—Ayes 33; Noes 253: Majority 220.

List of the AYES.
Baine, W. Hill, Lord M.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Mitcalfe, H.
Blake, M. J. Mitchell, T. A.
Blewitt, R. J. Pechell, Capt.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Plumridge, Capt.
Christie, W. D. Ricardo, J. L.
Cobden, R. Russell, Lord E.
Collett, J. Tancred, H. W.
Duncan, G. Trelawny, J. S.
Duncombe, T. Villiers, hon. C.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Wakley, T.
Ellice, E. Warburton, H.
Ellis, W. Ward, H. G.
Etwall, R. Wawn, J. T.
Fielden, J. Yorke, H. R.
Ferguson, Col. TELLERS.
Granger, T. C. Crawford, W. S.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Bowring, Dr.

On the main Question being put, the House divided on the previous Question, viz., that the main Question be put:—Ayes 105; Noes 182: Majority against putting the Resolutions 77.

List of the AYES.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Cobden, R.
Colborne, hn. W. N. R.
Baine, W. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Baring, rt. hn. F. T. Collett, J.
Barnard, E. G. Corbally, M. E.
Barron, Sir H. W. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Crawford, W. S.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Curteis, H. B.
Blake, M. J. Dalmeny, Lord
Blewitt, R. J. Denison, J. E.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Duncan, G.
Bowring, Dr. Duncombe, T.
Buller, C. Dundas, Adm.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Dundas, F.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Dundas, hon. C. J.
Chapman, B. Ebrington, Visct.
Christie, W. D. Ellice, rt. hn. E.
Ellice, E. Philips, M.
Ellis, W. Plumridge, Capt.
Etwall, R. Power, J.
Fielden, J. Redington, T. N.
Ferguson, Col. Ricardo, J. L.
Gill, T. Rice, E. R.
Gore, hon. R. Rumbold, C. E.
Granger, T. C. Russell, Lord J.
Grey, rt. hn. Sir G. Russell, Lord E.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Scrope, G. P.
Hayter, W. G. Seymour, Lord
Heron, Sir R. Shelburne, Earl of
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Smith, B.
Horsman, E. Smith, J. A.
Howard, hn. J. K. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Howick, Visct. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Hutt, W. Stuart, W. V.
Jervis, J. Tancred, H. W.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Towneley, J.
Layard, Capt. Traill, G.
Leveson, Lord Trelawny, J. S.
Listowel, Earl of Villiers, hon. C.
Loch, J. Vivian, J. H.
McTaggart, Sir J. Wakley, T.
Mangles, R. D. Warburton, H.
Marjoribanks, S. Ward, H. G.
Mitcalfe, H. Watson, W. H.
Mitchell, T. A. Wawn, J. T.
Morris, D. Wilde, Sir T.
Morison, Gen. Wilshere, W.
Morrison, J. Wood, C.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Wrightson, W. B.
O'Brien, J. Wyse, T.
O'Conor Don Yorke, H. R.
Ord, W.
Palmerston, Visct. TELLERS.
Parker, J. Hill, Lord M.
Pechell, Capt. Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
Acland, T. D. Bruce, C. L. C.
A'Court, Capt Bruges, W. H. L.
Adderley, C. B. Buck, L. W.
Alford, Visct. Buckley, E.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Arkwright, G. Burroughes, H. N.
Astell, W. Campbell, J. H.
Austen, Col. Cardwell, E.
Bailey, J. Carew, W. H. P.
Bailey, J. jun. Castlereagh, Visct.
Baillie, H. J. Christopher, R. A.
Baird, W. Clements, Visct.
Bankes, G. Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.
Baring, rt. hn. W. B. Clifton, J. T.
Barrington, Visct. Clive, Visct.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bateson, T. Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.
Beckett, W. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Blackburne, J. I. Courtenay, Lord
Blakemore, R. Cripps, W.
Boldero, H. G. Damer, hon. Col.
Borthwick, P. Darby, G.
Botfield, B. Davies, D. A. S.
Bowles, Adm. Denison, E. B.
Boyd, J. Dodd, G.
Brisco, M. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Broadley, H. Duncombe, hon. O.
Bruce, Lord E. Du Pre, C. G.
East, J. B. Mainwaring, T.
Eastnor, Visct. Manners, Lord J.
Escott, B. Martin, C. W.
Farnham, E. B. Martin, T. B.
Fellowes, E. Marton, G.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Masterman, J.
Forbes, W. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Forester, hn. G. C. W. Miles, P. W. S.
Fox, S. L. Miles, W.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T. Milnes, R. M.
Fuller, A. E. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Gardner, J. D. Morgan, O.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Morgan, C.
Gladstone, Capt. Mundy, E. M.
Glynne, Sir S. R. Neeld, J.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Neville, R.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Newdegate, C. N.
Granby, Marq. of Nicholl, rt. hn. J.
Greenall, P. Norreys, Lord
Greene, T. Northland, Visct.
Gregory, W. H. O'Brien, A. S.
Grimsditch, T. Palmer, G.
Grimston, Visct. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Halford, Sir H. Peel, J.
Hamilton, C. J. B. Pennant, hon. Col.
Hamilton, J. H. Pigot, Sir R.
Hamilton, W. J. Plumptre, J. P.
Hamilton, Lord C. Pollington, Visct.
Hampden, R. Praed, W. T.
Hanmer, Sir J. Pringle, A.
Hayes, Sir E. Repton, G. W. J.
Heneage, G. H. W. Richards, R.
Heneage, E. Rushbrooke, Col.
Henley, J. W. Russell, C.
Herbert, rt. hn. S. Russell, J. D. W.
Hodgson, F. Sandon, Visct.
Holmes, hn. W. A'C. Scott, hon. F.
Hope, hon. C. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Hope, A. Smith, A.
Hope, G. W. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Hotham, Lord Smyth, Sir H.
Hughes, W. B. Smythe, hon. G.
Hussey, A. Somerset, Lord G.
Hussey, T. Stewart, J.
Ingestre, Visct. Stuart, H.
James, Sir W. C. Sturt, H. C.
Jermyn, Earl Sutton, hon. H. M.
Jocelyn, Visct. Tennent, J. E.
Johnstone, Sir J. Thesiger, Sir F.
Johnstone, H. Thornhill, G.
Jones, Capt. Tower, C.
Legh, G. C. Trench, Sir F. W.
Lennox, Lord A. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Lincoln, Earl of Trotter, J.
Lockhart, W. Villiers, Visct.
Loftus, Visct. Vivian, J. E.
Long, W. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Lopes, Sir R. Whitmore, T. C.
Lowther, Sir J. H. Wodehouse, E.
Lowther, hon. Col. Wood, Col.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Mackenzie, T.
Mackenzie, W. F. TELLERS.
McGeachy, F. A. Young, J.
McNeill, D. Baring, H.

The Resolutions consequently were not put to the House.