HC Deb 03 March 1846 vol 84 cc527-75

House in Committee on the Customs and Corn Importation Acts.


said, that the right hon. Baronet, when he spoke last night, had made an allegation, and drawn an inference from that allegation, in both of which he (Mr. Bankes) had reason to believe he was entirely mistaken. The right hon. Baronet had alleged that the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. W. Miles) had said in his place in that House, that he was decidedly in favour of the immediate and entire abolition of the Corn Laws, in preference to the proposition of the Government. He had not been in the House himself when his hon. Friend had spoken; but on hearing of the inference drawn from his hon. Friend's words, he had asked him whether it were the fact that he had so spoken; and his hon. Friend had told him that it was directly the contrary—that he had not intended to make any such declaration—and that he had not used any words from which that inference could be fairly drawn. The right hon. Baronet had proceeded to say that no one of those who sat near the hon. Member for Somersetshire had expressed any dissent to that allegation which he had made. His hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire was, however, absent from London, and he was happy to say on account of a joyful occurrence in his family. But with reference to another absence to which the right hon. Baronet had alluded, and that, too, in his presence, he was sure he would be sorry to learn that the absence to which the right hon. Baronet had with some humour referred, as being the absence of a skilful leader, had been caused by the death of a very near relation—a circumstance of which he was certain the right hon. Baronet at the time had not been aware. He might, too, be allowed to say that the humorous allusion to what had been called the campaign of grease, and which had been made the foundation of jokes by the Gentlemen on the opposite side, was equally unfounded. With respect to what had been said as to the advantage which would accrue to Ireland from immediate abolition, he did not understand why the right hon. Baronet, when he found acquiescence from all parts of the House, had not proceeded at once to open the ports. That such a measure would have given relief to Ireland he very much doubted; but, if as alleged, it would afford such relief, why had it not been at once adopted? For as to the reason assigned for not opening them in the first instance—viz., that if they were once opened, as the right hon. Baronet alleged, he would not have the power to shut them again, he never could learn how, with such a majority at his back, the right hon. Baronet came to entertain such an opinion. He could not comprehend how the right hon. Baronet would want the power to shut the ports. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers) had charged the agriculturists with a want of generosity in their proposition, made, as he had alleged, at a time when there was very little corn in the country, and that little diminishing every day. Now, what was the fact? He had received a statement, from a member of a most eminent firm, of the quantity of corn in the country, and from that it appeared that on the 5th of January last there were 1,075,000 quarters of corn in bond, and on the 5th of February that quantity had been increased by 168,000 quarters, making in all 1,243,000 quarters of corn in bond at that time. [Mr. VILLIERS: What is it now?] That account had been made up to the 5th of February last from official returns, but not to a later date. But it appeared that the arrival of supplies continued, while the shipments from this country to foreign ports were very trifling. Seeing the hon. Member for Durham present, as he was sure the hon. Gentleman would wish to have an error into which he had fallen corrected, and as he had taken a noble Duke in the other House to task, he might mention that when the hon. Gentleman, in the former debate, had stated that the Duke of Rutland had paid for damage done by game on 389 acres of land the sum of 900l. odd, the hon. Member was entirely in error. As to the amount paid, the hon. Member had been correct, but as to the estate he was in error; for it was a large instead of a very small estate. If the hon. Member had made the acres thousands instead of hundreds, he would have been nearer the truth. The noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), in answering some allegations said to have been made on that side of the House with respect to the propriety and expediency of passing the present measure in that Parliament, had assumed that they had questioned the competency of the House. They had done no such thing—they could not question the competency of the House; but they had questioned the expediency or propriety of a measure like that, when no necessity for interference had been shown to exist, being carried in a Parliament, a majority of the Members of which had been returned on a pledge of supporting totally different measures. He assumed that every one of the majority had been returned; but he would give them the odd number between 112 and 97. The noble Lord had also given as a reason for not desiring a dissolution, that the House of Peers would be more ready to attend to the voice of the present Parliament than to that of a new one. He doubted that, when he considered that the other House had often seen how differently the present House had voted on that very question. What, under those circumstances, was to influence the House of Lords in favour of the altered determination of that Parliament? And even if the other House should see the expediency of adopting the measure, he hoped they would, at least, also see that its adoption should be founded on the choice of the people, otherwise they might create a double evil by sanctioning a measure which the voice of their constituency might afterwards repudiate. However, as to the proposition of the Government, he certainly preferred it to that of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, as it would enable them, before it came into final operation, to have the voice of their constituents upon it. He denied that there was any reason for stating that the feelings and opinions of the people were changed upon the question since the time when they had returned to that House the largest majority that he believed had ever been sent to it upon any specific question. They had no reason to suppose the opinions of the country were changed in that respect, unless on the ground of the petitions, manufactured as they had been, which had been presented to Parliament. But would those petitions counterbalance the result of the elections? He could not think that any man would for a moment think so. He certainly would decline proceeding far with the Bill until the proposition relating to the law of settlement were brought forward; and as to the other measures which were said to be introduced as measures of compensation, he trusted no one would think of looking at them in that light for one moment. He thought he had a right to demand that when the Bill embodying the measure respecting the importation of corn was introduced, the measure respecting the law of settlement should also be brought in at the same time. He would not say more, as the second reading would be the more fitting stage for further observations. At present the question was between the proposition of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton and that of the Government. He thought the latter preferable, because there must be an appeal to the constituency before the three years were determined; and he knew what the opinions of the constituencies were on this subject. His own constituency had that week sent two messengers to that House to testify that they at least had not changed their opinions.


said, that that part of his hon. Friend's speech astonished him very much, in which he said, that he (Sir R. Peel), in making the few observations which he did last night in reference to the speech made by the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. W. Miles), upon the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Bristol, assumed that the hon. Member for Somersetshire intimated an opinion that a measure for an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws was to be preferred to a measure with that object, to be deferred for three years, so far as the interests of the agriculturists were concerned. He assumed that because he thought he heard it with his own ears, and because he thought that on the hon. Member turning round to those hon. Members who sat near him, that opinion was assented to by them; and when he put that construction upon the words of the hon. Gentleman two nights afterwards in his presence, that hon. Gentleman left the House without dissenting from the construction put by him upon the hon. Member's words. But now it appeared that the hon. Gentleman did not prefer a measure for immediate repeal, but it was in favour of his proposal. Then his hon. Friend said he was sure that he (Sir R. Peel) would hear with pain that the hon. Member for Somersetshire was absent from the discussion on grease in consequence of the death of a relative. He certainly was not aware of the cause of the hon. Gentleman's absence when he made the observations respecting him; but though, the hon. Member for Somersetshire was absent, two other county Members objected to the removal of the duty on grease, on the same ground as that selected by the hon. Member for Somersetshire, namely, that as there was a duty of 21s. on butter, if grease were permitted to come in duty free, it would be used instead of butter.


explained, when he heard what the right hon. Baronet had stated as the opinion of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, he asked his hon. Friend did he say so and so? when he expressed himself thus—"I did not, nor had I any such intention of so expressing myself."


observed, in explanation of what been said by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, that he had fallen into an error with respect to the amount of money paid by the Duke of Rutland for damage done by game upon his estate near Bakewell, in Derbyshire, that the estate in question consisted of 3,700 acres, a great portion of which was land to a great extent uncultivated. Some portion of the farms were arable, and some pasture land, and he said that 916l. had been paid by the Duke of Rutland, in 1844, for the damage done by game on the land growing grain, including a quantity equal to 399 acres, and that no valuation had been made with respect to the grass land. He stated now only what he stated before, and what he knew to be true from the return of the valuator, and what had been admitted by a Member of that House, who did his best to support the cause of the Duke of Rutland.


said, that he was in favour of an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws, and he had no faith in the predictions of those who anticipated evil consequences from such a measure. He thought, indeed, that some of the tenant-farmers would have to lay out more capital, to employ more labourers, and to raise a greater number of quarters of wheat from their farms. That would be the case in those instances particularly where the farmers were selected not so much for their skill and knowledge of farming, as for the votes which they would give at elections. He had such confidence in the skill and perseverance of Englishmen, that he was sure they would maintain their superiority over foreigners without the aid of Acts of Parliament. He always observed that the country was generally prosperous when manufactures prospered. The agriculturists of the north were in a better condition than those of the south, not because they had a more fertile soil or more genial seasons, but because they were close to an increasing market, and were more skilful. He considered that it would be better if the right hon. Baronet had taken the advice of the noble Lord the Member for London, and proposed an immediate repeal, because he believed it would be more for the interests of the agriculturists themselves, and because he did not think it just towards the great experiment they were making to bring free trade to a test, when they might perhaps have concurrently abundant harvests in this country and on the Continent. But he felt so strongly that the measure was for the benefit of the country, that rather than, endanger it, he would vote for the proposition of the right hon. Baronet.


said, he had had so many opportunities of expressing his entire satisfaction in the measures introduced by the right hon. Baronet, that he did not consider it would have been necessary to offer any further opinion, unless upon such circumstances as might arise in the course of the debate. He regretted the protraction of that debate, as he considered it prejudicial to the interests of the country, more particularly of those interests with which he was connected, namely, those of agriculture. He wished to state, with the permission of the House, the particular reasons which induced him to give his support to the Motion of the right hon. Baronet, in preference to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. If he was to look at the hon. Member's proposition as a mere abstract question, he could undoubtedly give his vote in favour of an immediate repeal; but when he had to take into consideration what the consequences might be in case of its adoption by that House, and its rejection by the House of Lords, he felt himself bound to agree with the opinions expressed by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) the Member for the city of London, on the previous night, and give his vote in favour of the Motion of the right hon. Baronet. The noble Lord had mentioned in the course of his speech, that he was well aware that if that proposition had been introduced by him, in case he had formed a Government, he should not have had the support of many of the hon. Gentlemen who were then supporting the right hon. Baronet. In reference to himself, he could say, that if the noble Lord had taken office, and proposed the measure under discussion, he should have felt himself bound to give his vote fully distinct from party; and nothing would have afforded him greater pleasure than to have given every fair and reasonable support to the noble Lord in the carrying of that measure. In every capacity in which he looked upon it, whether as a landholder or Member of Parliament, the representative of a large commercial constituency, or whether he looked backward to the past, or forward to the future, he felt himself bound to give his most cordial support to the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government.


considered that the arguments advanced by the noble Lord the Member for London, on the previous night, had been quite conclusive as to the advantage to be derived from an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws—an opinion in which hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared fully to concur. All parties, in fact, seemed quite agreed upon the point, until it came to the part where they were called upon to pass it, and all appeared equally inclined to shrink from doing so. The right hon. Baronet seemed to be afraid to move in the right direction; and the noble Lord was inclined to keep in his wake. He had no explanations to make, as his constituents had sent him there lately to support every relaxation that might be proposed of the existing restrictions on the importation of food. But there was one thing which he wished to remark to those hon. Gentlemen who were advocating the principle of continued protection, and that was, that they should all consider the course they were about to take, and reflect upon what had recently taken place in the grain markets: let them go to Mark-lane, and they would find that their corn trade had become paralysed within the last few weeks, and that the country markets were in an equally bad state.


would confine what he had to say to as few words as possible, and would limit himself to the subject then before the House; and in the first place, he wished no doubt to be entertained in reference to his sentiments. He preferred the proposition of the right hon. Baronet to that of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; but at the same time he had not the slightest desire that that proposition should be passed by that House, although he preferred it to the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite, in case either of the propositions were to be adopted by them. He was in favour of having the protection continued for three years, in order that, before the term expired, when the injurious working of the scheme should be known, and the Legislature would have an opportunity of seeing that the country would be going to ruin through its influence, that they should have time to retrace their steps. He had seen a great deal of the agriculturists of England, and had taken an honest part in their exertions, and he believed that they were the most persevering body of people in the world; and from what he knew of them, he was quite sure that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had spoken in reference to them under some misapprehension. Agricultural improvement had been going on for forty years. In 1816, to so great a height had agriculture improved, that Lord Brougham stated that no fewer than 1,200 Inclosure Bills had been passed within the previous ten years, which included no less a space of land than 2,000,000 of acres. He also stated that the greatest improvement had taken place in the cultivation of land; not only had large tracts of country that were previously in a barren state been brought into cultivation, but the land under cultivation was very considerably improved, and yielded greater produce, and where there had been only one blade of grass grown, the same land then produced two; and that noble Lord believed England to be the greatest agricultural country in the world. Since the time when Lord Brougham spoke immense sums of money had been expended in the improvement of agriculture by farmers and landholders; and it was his opinion at that moment, that there was no place in the world in which the soil was so well cultivated. He would mention another fact, which he believed to be such conclusive evidence on the subject, that no one could doubt it. The agriculturists of this country possessed the best breed of cattle in the world, which was acknowledged by the fact that the agricultural societies of Belgium, France, and Prussia, sent to this country to purchase stock. He therefore did think that it was a little hard, when so much had been done by tenants, that they should be denied that credit to which they were entitled, and taunted in that manner by persons high in office, or who might soon be high in office, as if they were lazy drones, who had been backwards in adopting new improvements. He would not notice the tempting offers that had been made to them by the hon. Member for Durham. That hon. Member stated, that if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton were allowed to pass, they would have the Anti-Corn-Law League dissolved; and in the next place, that if they would consent to the proposition, they would not inflict upon them another discussion in reference to that measure. In reply to the hon. Member's first offer, he confessed that he considered the Anti-Corn-Law League a very harmless body of people, who conducted their meetings in a very quiet and orderly manner, and in reference to which the public would not know that such meetings had ever been held but for the newspaper reports of them; and therefore, for his part, he considered that they had not much reason to complain of them, although they had certainly heard something about their exertions in manufacturing voters; but as perhaps others might be charged with similar conduct, he would not say much about that. Their meetings, however, he maintained, were perfectly innocent. But even if they were not so, he could not see how that should bear upon a question of that nature, as every measure should be decided upon its own merits alone, and was not to be carried by means of out-door clamour. The agriculturists cared very little for the Anti- Corn-Law League; but that had nothing to do with the case, and he would, therefore, pass on to the hon. Gentleman's second offer. He said, if they would consent to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton's Motion, that they would not inflict upon them another debate upon that question. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that they did not look upon the prospect of another debate as an infliction, for there were a number of Gentlemen on that side of the House who were suffering very severely under suppressed speeches; and if the hon. Gentleman desired it, and would appoint Monday next, or any other day, to commence another discussion, he could with safety promise that there would be at least fifty Gentlemen who advocated protection ready to make speeches in favour of their views, varying in length from two hours to half an hour. The hon. Gentleman had stated that that was entirely a landlord's question. He denied that it was so; but, for the sake of argument, admitting that it was so, he wished to know if landlords had not an equal right to be heard as manufacturers, or any other body of people? He could not help smiling at the logic used by the right hon. Gentleman, when he said that in case that measure was then passed, it would finally settle the question of the Corn Laws; as if the people would thereby be deprived at the next general election from again agitating the question. That question, he said, must of all necessity be again tried at the ensuing election, and therefore could not be settled then. There was another reason which showed him that it could not be then settled, which was that the measure was likely to prove ruinous to not only the agricultural but to the mercantile interests of the country; which was a sufficient reason why, in his opinion, it should be tried again. With the permission of the House, he would tell them why that position, if carried, would prove ruinous to the country. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford had told them that their imports of foreign corn would be about 3,000,000 of quarters; but he could tell the right hon. Baronet, that that quantity of corn in particular seasons would be quite sufficient to glut their markets; and he was strongly of opinion that the hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House were discussing that question whilst labouring under great misapprehensions. He would refer to a report that had been prepared for that House in 1841, which showed the entire amount of foreign grain that could be calculated upon for being imported into this country: by that return he found that Prussia, in 1838, exported to various ports of the world 4,000,000 quarters of wheat, and 4,000,000 quarters of other kinds of grain; and in 1840 that country exported 5,000,000 quarters of wheat, and 4,700,000 quarters of other kinds of grain; to which was to be added the 150,000,000 quarters of corn that America could furnish—so that the fair calculation of what might be expected to be sent to this country from all foreign countries, would be about 8,000,000 quarters of wheat, and 7,000,000 quarters of other descriptions of grain; for (as was well said by Lord Hardwicke) under such circumstances the ports of England would be made "the refuge for the destitute." He believed, from that view of the case, that from the glut which must take place in their markets from such an extensive importation, the result must be that ruin would stare them in the face. He understood that amongst the merchants at Liverpool, a few days since, when the result of the late division on the right hon. Baronet's measure was made known there, that some gentlemen threw up their hats with joy on hearing of the majority of the Ministers; in reference to which he considered that those gentlemen were greatly mistaken in their calculations as to the result of the contemplated benefits expected, in case the measure passed into law. It was his (Mr. Finch's) belief that America would in a few years be beaten by those countries near the Baltic in the production of corn, from the greater facilities which they possessed; and in case that should occur, it could not be denied but that the manufacturing interest of this country must be seriously injured. The disadvantage this country would labour under, in competing with the countries that did not accept reciprocal measures of free trade would be great; and Prussia would be delighted to hear of the passing of that measure, but at the same time would decline to respond to it, by adopting a similar one. In fact, the tariff of Prussia formed a part of the practical system by which the different States of that part of the world were joined in union: all the hopes, therefore, that had been formed in reference to the liberal conduct of Prussia, would be found to be altogether delusive. There had been another reason assigned by the right hon. Baronet for the continuance of the protection for three years, and that was the con- dition of Canada, which he believed was a sufficient reason for not hurrying the measure through the House. ["Hear."] He knew that they had had a long debate, in fact so long that he believed it was likely to reduce the price of opium. But, at the same time, considering the great interests at stake, he thought they were proceeding with indecent haste; as they had not had time to hear how the Canadians received the intimation of the proposed change, and he firmly believed, that they had been most shamefully treated by breaking those hopes that had been cherished by them for many years. Lord Stanley, when he introduced the Canada Corn Bill, gave an assurance to the people of Canada that the question of their corn trade was settled. But Ministers were now treating the Canadians with greater contumely and insult than they had the British agriculturists. What a moment too had been chosen, when the question of peace and war between Great Britain and America was hanging in the balance, for so insulting the Canadians. It would not be surprising if they should exhibit greater indignation than had been expressed by the farmers of this country. He conceived this measure had been hurried on too fast. He thought they should first of all have the financial statement laid before them. The rescinding of the malt tax was what the agriculturists had always relied upon, and what the language formerly held by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government naturally led them to expect. It was important that they should see from the financial statement, if a hope of such abolition could be entertained. He thought it could not. There would be great changes on the revenue. There was the 500,000l. proposed as a compensation to the agriculturists, 500,000l. additional to the navy estimates, at least 500,000l. more to the army estimates, about 500,000l. to the public works in Ireland, and there was 500,000l. more lost by the relaxations of the new Tariff. He very much suspected that in the next quarter's revenue there would not be a surplus of 2,500,000l. He thought, after all that had been said in praise of the financial skill of the right hon. Baronet, that there was every chance of a deficit in the revenue even with the Property-tax: before, the deficit was without it. Under these circumstances he thought, before the measure was passed, they should have a financial statement; and he saw no reason why the acid which had been stirred up in the debate should not be neutralized by an early discussion of the sugar duties. Nothing would give him greater satisfaction than such a discussion; but at all events they ought to have the financial statement. Another reason for delay was the state of our relations with America. Would it not be most preposterous to have no protective duty on corn—a perfect free trade and war taxation? Open the ports for foreign produce, and make our own people pay heavily to support the expenses of a war! Why, in such an event they must put on a beer tax, a house tax, and a property tax. But they were to have free trade. Surely a wilder chimera never entered into the head of the merest tyro of a statesman. They ought to see whether there would be peace or war before they sanctioned a measure of this sort, which involved the social and commercial relations of the country to so large an extent. In the event of war, would not the Government be justly censurable for forcing on a measure like the present, which would cause disunion and create dissatisfaction — for breaking up a great party, and throwing the whole country into confusion? They would probably be obliged to retrace their steps, and transfer free trade for the next thirty years to the North Pole. They would be obliged to resume the old system. He disliked the measure in any shape, but preferred that of the right hon. Baronet to that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton.


said, not one syllabic of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, with the exception of the last sentence, bore on the question before the House. This was particularly hard on the House. The hon. Gentleman had an opportunity of being heard in the course of the debate; but it would seem that he had then forgotten one-half of his arguments, which occurred to him afterwards, and that he took this opportunity of inflicting the forgotten half upon the House. Some of the hon. Gentleman's commercial principles were so untenable and so unsound, that it was impossible to avoid giving them a reply; but, in referring to them, he should abstain as much as possible from going at present into any other part of the subject. When the hon. Gentleman talked of the repeal of the malt tax as a boon to the agricultural interest, let it be recollected that ninety-nine parts of a hundred of that tax were paid by the consumer at present. But if they repealed the malt tax, they must substitute a property tax; and let them recollect how much of that would go out of the pocket of the farmers. Yet that was one of the boons that the farmers' friends wished to confer on them. There was a proverb, "God preserve me from my friends!" and it might be said by the farmers, "God preserve us from the friendship of the hon. Gentlemen who talk of the repeal of the malt tax as a boon to us!" The hon. Gentleman had said that this Parliament was utterly incompetent to decide this question. Now, what the Reform Bill did for the rotten boroughs, the present measure would do for the Corn Laws, There was, however, this difference between them: for six years this question had been discussed; now, facts were every day forcing themselves upon the common sense of both sides of the House, calling on Parliament to legislate on this subject. He would now come to the question of his hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers), and he would confess that he never gave a vote on any subject with more difficulty and doubt than he felt on this subject. He entirely concurred in every word of the wise and statesmanlike speech that was delivered on the preceding night by his noble Friend the Member for London (Lord John Russell). If he (Mr. Ward) thought that his vote would endanger the present Bill, or that by giving it he would run any risk of depriving the country of the great benefit which had been placed within its reach by the measure of the Government, he would not vote for his hon. Friend's Amendment. He told him, in the first instance, if the right hon. Baronet said he would be no longer responsible for the success of the measure if an Amendment of this sort for immediate repeal were carried, he (Mr. Ward) would, for one, take the measure of the Government. He had no sort of influence pressing on him from outside; for his constituents were satisfied with the measure which the Government had proposed, and were anxious to see it carried out. But he formed his opinion solely on grounds that had presented themselves to him in that House. If he saw on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite the slightest disposition to meet on a middle ground, and not to carry on the most factious opposition that he ever had seen during his experience in that House—if he saw any intention on their part to regard the decision of the other night as a final decision on this subject—then he would say he would give the measure of the Government all the support he could. But when he looked to the conduct of the hon. Members opposite, he found a justification for voting for the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers); for he saw they looked upon the decision of the House as nothing, and that they would be satisfied with nothing less than a fresh appeal to the constituencies. Had those who concurred with his hon. Friend any right to abandon one hair's-breadth of the position they now occupied, when such extreme opinions were urged by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House? When they said that for three years this was to be the constant theme of agitation, and that nothing but an appeal to the constituencies would satisfy them, those who concurred with his hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers) were bound to keep the ground they had at present. And though his (Mr. Ward's) noble Friend the Member for London, acting on a high and honourable feeling, felt himself bound, after what had passed with an august Personage, to take the Government measure in preference to any other; he held that, as an independent Member of that House, who concurred with the Anti-Corn-Law League, and thought they had done inestimable service to the country, he was equally bound to follow his hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers) in the course he proposed of making the repeal immediate. He did not pass the whole week in that House. He passed two days of the week in a less heated atmosphere than he breathed there. He mixed with men in the country who had nothing to do with their party questions; and he could say that the tenant-farmers in many parts of England—men who differed from him for the last ten years on this question of protection—were now all rejoicing at the largeness of the majority by which the question was decided; for they said they hoped this would settle it. They said they trusted they should not have an agitation kept up for three years, and not have to endure protracted uncertainty; that they wished to look, not to a dissolution or to a new battle to be fought, but to Michaelmas next, like practical sober men as they are, to enter into new arrangements with their landlords to meet the new state of things that had arisen from the proceedings in that House. That was the general feeling that prevailed through the country, amongst men who were not tainted by the atmosphere they breathed in that House, who did not spend their time in clubs discussing those questions, or in ransacking Hansard for quotations from speeches, to prove a thing that was admitted, that the opinions of public men on the Corn Laws had undergone a change. He believed if hon. Members opposite would express their real opinions, that they would be found to correspond, to a great extent, with the tenant-farmers' views. He believed that in private they all agreed with the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles), that "they had better have free trade at once." ["No, no."] Yes, he believed that was their real opinion; though, as they were now getting heated in the fray, and becoming a mere factious opposition, they find it convenient to have short memories, and not to recollect the views they entertained, and the opinions they expressed, no longer than six weeks ago. To his mind it was clear, that if they consulted their own interest—if they got rid of their odious party feelings, and looked at the question in a plain, practical point of view—they would see that they could scarcely do themselves or their cause a worse service than by keeping the question open. It was essential to their tenantry that they should not discourage them in their efforts. But what was the tendency of their speeches? They were literally cutting their own throats. If the result proved that the free traders were right and the protectionists wrong, those very speeches would be the best weapons that the tenants could use against their landlords. When they came to arrange their rents, these "good fellows" would say, "You have told us that we have no chance against the Russians and the Poles—that the fat soils they cultivate, and which you have so unctiously described, will produce quantities of grain which we can never hope to grow—therefore, in consistency, you cannot expect us to pay the same rents as when we were free from so unfair a competition." That was the way the farmer would meet them if they persisted in their present course. As it was, he (Mr. Ward) believed that all that was desired was a decision. The farmers were not alarmed, "Settle the question," they said, "settle it at once, and we can be at no loss about our future proceedings and arrangements." They saw that new facts had been elicited—they saw that a change of opinions had occurred—they regretted, possibly, that difficulties had been raised to an equitable settlement five years ago — they regretted that Sir Robert Peel had not, like Lord John Russell, looked forwards; but they were content to let bygones be by- gones, provided there was no opportunity for the future—no repetition of the scene of 1842, when a measure was proposed as a "settlement," which was never intended to be a "settlement" at all. Believing that a settlement—a final settlement—was on all hands desired now, he (Mr. Ward) should give his vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. In doing so, he had no desire to risk the success of this great measure, and he had no idea that he was doing so. He believed, indeed, whatever might be said here or in another place, that the measure would give greater satisfaction if this Amendment were grafted on it, and, holding that view, he should give it his support.


could not place much confidence in the statements of the hon. Member who had just sat down respecting the opinions of the farmers, particularly when he recollected what the preconceived and long avowed sentiments of the hon. Member were on this question. The question which the House had to decide was, whether they would accept the modified proposal of the Government, or consent to a total and immediate repeal. It was very well for hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, whose opinions on the Corn Laws were well known, to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; but he thought that hon. Member could only ask the support of hon. Members on that side of the House on two grounds: first, upon the ground of the necessity of an immediate supply of cheap food as regarded Ireland; and, secondly, considering the state of the corn markets in the whole universe at present—considering that no superfluity of corn existed anywhere, and that from the failure of the potato crop in other parts of the world, the prices of the continental markets were much more nearly on an equality with the markets of this country than they would probably be at the expiration of three years — taking into account these facts, the question was, whether it would not be more to the advantage of the agriculturists to have a total and immediate repeal rather than postponement? As regarded the first ground, the question of impending famine to Ireland, he was one of those who certainly would not have condemned the Government for opening the ports on their own responsibility, if they apprehended a famine there. But the Government had taken a different view of the subject. They were not now called on to consider the question of suspension of the law, nor the expediency of providing against impending famine in Ireland; for the Government had not pursued the former course, and they had taken upon themselves the task of providing against a scarcity in Ireland by the introduction of Bills for the execution of public works, and by purchasing a quantity of corn. As to the second point, a general deficiency in the continental markets, and the equalization of the price of these markets with our own, we should perhaps, considering this argument per se, be induced to accede to it; but there were other things which must be considered. The prices of foreign corn upon average years must be taken into account. He had lately received some information on this point, which he would read to the House; it was from an authority which might be relied upon. He held in his hand a return of the sales of wheat in bond in 1835 by the house of Taylor, Clifford, and Co., corn merchants in Hull. He had seen the whole list of sales effected in every month of 1835, and the prices at which those sales took place. The wheat, he had been assured, was of average quality, weighing sixty pounds per bushel—it was much about the same quality of corn as that grown in Yorkshire. He would give the House the result. The sales in bond took place at between 15s. and 22s. per quarter; and the quantity sold in the port of Hull, in bond, in that year, 1835, was 14,656 quarters of wheat, at prices varying from 15s. to 22s. In the year 1836, the amount sold by the same houses in the same port was 18,068 quarters, of which the price varied between 42s. and 20s. a quarter, the average price of the whole being 28s. 8d. [Mr. HUTT: What was the duty?] It was not a question of duty, but of the price of the corn as bought and sold in bond. He did not say that those sales had been effected in the markets of this country, but had been effected in bond. There was another circumstance which he thought ought to be considered before they consented to the present Motion, viz., that as much wheat as they liked would be brought from Bremen to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, at the rate of 1s. a quarter, being a much lower cost of freight than it could be carried for from Newcastle to Sunderland. ["No, no!"] But he (Mr. Liddell) said yes, yes: he was certain the fact was true, from the source whence he derived it. It was conveyed at a much lower rate from Bremen to New- castle, because a cargo of coals was taken back. He did not mean to draw any important consequences from these facts, but merely stated them as facts to show that if wheat could be sold at the prices he had quoted, and if it could be brought from the Baltic at so cheap a rate, it was but right and proper on the part of Her Majesty's Government to afford a moderate protection for three years, in order that some experience might be gained by the landowners, and that in accordance with that experience they might make arrangements with their tenants befitting the nature of the crisis. Upon these grounds he should oppose the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton.


wished to correct an error into which his hon. Friend had fallen, in supposing that corn from Bremen was corn from the Baltic; Bremen being on the Weser, which fell into the North Sea or German Ocean. He could account for the cheapness of freight in the instance alluded to, by informing his hon. Friend that the ship which carried the wheat was engaged upon a voyage of discovery, and was ready to take any cargo offered; and as regarded the low prices at which wheat had been sold at Hull, it was not so surprising as the statement made that evening by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, that a quantity of wheat had been actually destroyed in the Severn, on account of the high rate of duty, which made it not worth the importer's while to free it. In 1836, wheat in this country was selling so low as 32s. a quarter; and under these circumstances it was not very surprising that foreign wheat in bond should be sold at Hull at 28s. a quarter. He must therefore congratulate his hon. Friend in having discovered a mare's nest.


wished, in the first place, to say a word upon the adjournment last night. Hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House had been called factious. Hon. Gentlemen complained of these protracted debates, and stated that commerce and agriculture were suffering alike under these protracted discussions. Now, he would ask the House, and he would ask Her Majesty's Government, to whom was the country indebted for these protracted discussions? In October, 1845, it was acknowledged on all hands that the country was quiet—that the Exchequer was overflowing—that trade was prosperous—that the labourers were employed; in short, that there was no aspect in which we could regard the country in which it did not present a satisfactory appearance. But in that month an influential organ of public opinion communicated to the country the startling intelligence that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government, in the second week of January in this present year, to propose a repeal of the Corn Laws. He would ask any man in the House whether it were not true, that from that moment up to the present time, both the commerce and the agriculture of the country had been paralysed? He would ask them whether they did not believe that if Her Majesty's Government, instead of rectifying, had falsified that prediction, while they took all necessary precautions to meet the apprehended famine in Ireland — whether this country would not have been as prosperous in March, 1846, as it was in October, 1845? He would, therefore, put the question to the House, whether it was not true that Her Majesty's Ministers were the cause of the present prostration of commerce, and not his hon. Friends near him, who stood upon the ground which Her Majesty's Ministers were wont to occupy, and who resisted the innovation—the revolutionary innovation—which Her Majesty's Ministers proposed. There was another ground on which this debate ought to be continued, and it was this—that they lived in a time of great changes. They had read in ancient history—["Oh, oh!"]—some hon. Gentlemen opposite might not be very profound in ancient history. They had already had some curious specimens of geography, but even some of those who were not profoundly versed in ancient history, might yet be old enough to remember the fact which he was about to state. They might remember to have read, and some of them to have heard, of a distinguished English statesman, who for years had occupied a high position in the affairs of this country, and in the confidence of his Sovereign — a statesman who was supported by nearly the largest majority that ever was assembled within those walls—who said, "On account of three years' experience, and on account of the potato-rot in Ireland, I have changed my opinions; and, with that one sentence, I dispose of all my former speeches." Now, if such changes had taken place within the last four months, perhaps if they continued the debate for four nights longer, they might see the same distinguished authority rise in his place, and say, "The potato-rot has stopped now; the noble Lord the Member for Lynn has brought us information which completely contradicts all that we heard from our emissaries, and from the learned doctors whom we sent over to investigate the condition of the potato." He found that in the peroration of the eloquent speech of the right hon. Baronet, England was described as favourably situated for the adoption of the principles of free trade in a geographical point of view. It was within eleven days' rail of St. Petersburgh on the one hand, and within eleven days' rail of New York, on the other. The right hon. Baronet did not tell them whether it was through his three years' experience on the potato-rot in Ireland that he had discovered this geographical position of England; but as they had proved already that a town had changed its position from one river to another, which again changed its course from one sea into another, he had referred to his map to find whether or not England had changed. He found that she had maintained the same position for the last three hundred years; but in these days of frequent changes, no one knew how soon she might change her position. Another reason why he wanted the debate to be continued was, that he wanted to hear more speeches from the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury bench, because he must say he had never had the good fortune to hear speeches which were better calculated to support the arguments of hon. Gentlemen near him. The right hon. Gentleman had opened the debate by telling them that the country was in a state of unexampled prosperity, and he gave that as a reason why they should adopt these changes. But, at the conclusion of his speech, in that awfully eloquent peroration of his, he told them of two figures he saw at a distance—two spectral associations of famine and of pestilence in the rear of famine, which, in the course of the next three months, he expected to visit Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman was asked by the noble Lord the Member for Newark, "Why then don't you open the ports to relieve the necessities of Ireland?" But that question was answered by the right hon. the Secretary at War, who said, "I should like to know if any Member of this House will point to me the country from which corn is to come." But if there is no country from which corn is to come, where is the benefit to Ireland in the meantime, or to England in the long run, from this relaxation of duties? The question before the House was narrowed very much indeed. It was, whether they should adopt a total repeal of the Corn Laws at the end of three years, or whether they should adopt it to-night. The noble Lord the Member for London had relieved him from much of the difficulty he felt in giving his opinion on this question. The noble Lord told them that though, in the abstract, he agreed with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, yet, in practice, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, because, if the Amendment were carried, the measure might leave the door of this House, but it would never get any further. Now, he and his hon. Friends did not understand these shiftings and changes. They maintained the broad and intelligible principle of protection, not only to corn, but to every species of native industry. The fallacy which had run through the whole of these debates was, that hon. Gentlemen, opposite assumed there was some species of hostility between agriculture and commerce. Now, he contended that there was no competition between corn and the cotton mills; but that, on the contrary, the prosperity of one was the prosperity of the other. The land did not compete with the cotton mill, but it did compete with the land abroad; and, therefore, it was idle to say that land was more lightly burdened than manufactures. What hon. Gentlemen ought to know was, that land in this country was more lightly burdened than land abroad. The hon. Member for Stockport had advised them the other night to read the learned doctors who treated on political economy. Well, he would ask if there was a single authority among these writers who argued for free trade. He would take only one authority, Mr. M'Culloch. Mr. M'Culloch says (in his work on Taxation, published only last year)— The serious inroad made by taxation on the produce of the land and labour of the country may be further illustrated, by comparing it with the produce either of agricultural or manufacturing industry. Without pretending to minute accuracy, which, on such subjects, is unattainable, the quantity and value of the corn annually grown in England, may be estimated as under:—

Wheat, 14,000,000 quarter at 50s. £35,000,000
Barley, 5,000,000 quarter at 30s. 7,500,000
Oats, peas, and beans, 12,000,000 16,000 000
Oats, peas, and beans, at 25s.
We incline to think that this estimate is near the mark, at all events it is underrated; and, supposing it to be about accurate, it shows that the value of the share of the produce of the land and labour of the United Kingdom, taken as taxes, is considerably more than the whole value of all the wheat and barley annually produced in England. How then, he would ask, would this country compete with other countries when its taxation was so enormous? He knew he should be told what was true in the abstract must be right in practice. But every day's experience seemed to show how very shallow was this maxim: common liberty was a principle abstractedly true; and yet they found that in practice restraints were put upon human liberty from infancy to old age. What could be more true than those abstract dogmas, the practical effects of which, in a neighbouring country, were, that revolution had rolled her chariot wheels in tracks of blood over every shape of human right and every condition of human liberty; and yet, what could be more true than this dogma, that all men were born equal? There never was a grosser insult offered to the doctrine even which they advocated, than to assert that free trade could be carried out in a country situated as England was, and situated as the countries on the European Continent were at the present moment. The right hon. Baronet had asked who would undertake to close the ports again if they were opened in the present exigency of Ireland? Now, if the right hon. Baronet meant that the ports once being opened, public opinion would be so strongly declared in favour of their remaining open that it would not be safe to shut them again; his answer was this—that, much as he respected the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues, he would rather be convinced by one year's practical experience of the working of this measure, than by all the abstract arguments which they had brought forward. Indeed, he could not help thinking that the right hon. Baronet had some misgivings as to the effects of this measure, for he did not think it safe to trust to the practical experience of the country; but he trusted rather to abstract opinions urged with his accustomed eloquence upon the House. He apologized for detaining the House, whose kindness he certainly was not justified in trespassing upon further; but as hon. Gentlemen on his side had been challenged to the proof, he was ready to show that there was not a writer in favour of free trade of any name whatever. The hon. Member for Stockport had sent him to his studies: he told them that political economy was a better study than the exact sciences. Forsaking, therefore, the negative roots of impossible quantities, he had gone into his library—he had studied the political economists, and there was not one of them who did not agree with the noble Lord the Member for London, that, for the benefit of all classes in the country, it was necessary to give a preponderating influence to the affairs of land. Dr. Johnson, who was not a free trader, but whose views were corroborated by all political economists, said— Commerce, however we may please ourselves with the contrary opinion, is one of the daughters of Fortune, inconstant and deceitful as her mother. She chooses her residence where she is at least expected, and shifts her abode when her continuance is, in appearance, most firmly settled. Who can read the present distresses of the Genoese, whose only choice now remaining is from what monarch they shall solicit protection?—who can see the Hanseatic towns in ruins, where perhaps the inhabitants do not always equal the number of the houses; but he will say to himself, these are the cities whose trade enabled them once to give laws to the world—to whose merchants princes sent their jewels in pawn, from whose treasuries armies were paid and navies supplied? And who can then forbear to consider trade as a weak and uncertain basis of power, and to wish for his own country greatness more solid, and felicity more durable? He adds, in another place— By agriculture only can commerce be perpetuated, and by agriculture alone can we live in plenty without intercourse with other nations. This, therefore, is the great art which every government ought to protect, every proprietor of lands to practise, and every inquirer into nature to improve. This was a broad, statesmanlike, round, and intelligible principle. Now, that they could improve agriculture by protection, he called into court the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government; for a great portion of his speech was occupied in proving that from 1804 down to the present time, under a system of protection, the amount of wheat had increased, while the price of wheat had decreased; and although the right hon. Baronet drew different inferences from these facts in 1841 and 1846, yet he could not but draw from the facts this conclusion, that protection had fostered commerce—that coincidently with protection agriculture had flourished; and, therefore, he wished to be informed on what principle it was that the right hon. Gentleman now proposed that the House should abandon the policy to which he stood pledged, and should adopt a new course? He confessed that he was totally incapable of seeing any grounds for such a change. He was not prepared to go so far as some hon. Gentlemen. He was not prepared to say, that at no period might the present Corn Laws be modified. It was protection he contended for—not any special form of protection—neither for a sliding-scale in preference to a fixed duty, nor the reverse; nor would he deny that by some reduction of taxation, it might be possible to diminish the duties on corn. But what he said was, that the plan of the right hon. Gentleman provided him with no such advantages. He did not find in it any compensation for the injuries it would inflict upon land. He saw in it an immediate reduction of one important article—the tithe of the Church; for it was impossible the present amount of tithe could be maintained, whether the proposed law worked well or ill. He assumed that the price of wheat must be reduced, or the law would fail of accomplishing its own purpose. If the price of food was not lowered, how was it to benefit the condition of the labourers in Ireland and England? He hoped he had now shown why, on this question, he was prepared to vote with the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government—not because he approved of their scheme in contradistinction to the existing law, but because he agreed with them in thinking that the proposition of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was dangerous and mischievous to the best interests of the country. One word as to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman—why some of his Friends had said, and all had cheered the saying, that they would prefer immediate repeal to repeal at the end of three years. Now, their meaning was this, if they had no choice at all as between the one proposal and the other, they would of the two prefer total repeal immediately to total repeal at the end of three years. But he contended that they had another choice—that in the present age of changes, the opinion of Parliament might again turn in favour of protection; and, therefore, they preferred to take the advantage of the three years which the right hon. Baronet by his measure allowed them.


must say a few words in reply to the hon. Member who had just sat down. The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright) had congratulated himself that protection was dead and buried; but it seemed to have risen again, not exactly like a giant refreshed, in the person of the hon. Member for Evesham. That hon. Member, amongst many other curious observations, had said that not one of the writers upon political economy had written upon the policy of the right hon. Baronet. How the deuce could they write upon it? The right hon. Baronet, much to his satisfaction, had come forward with a most comprehensive plan; and he did not at all wonder that the hon. Member had not been able to find in his library any authority upon the subject. Protection, said the hon. Member, was considered robbery by no one. He asserted that protection was robbery; and that the landed interest would never have been able to have imposed additional and unnatural prices upon the food of all the other classes in the State, if the House of Commons had not formerly been composed of landed proprietors. Until a few years ago no individual could sit in that House unless he had a qualification in land; and it was not to be wondered at that agricultural proprietors should have established the doctrine when the power was exclusively in their own hands. This, however, was not the question. The question was, whether the laws of this country should be equal, and whether there was any justice in permitting one class—those who possessed the land—to tax all the other classes? This was the effect of protection; and therefore he denied the justice of protection. The object of the right hon. Baronet's policy was to remove this injustice, and to give to all classes equal rights with regard to food. This measure would not lower prices, but it would equalise them all over Europe. Ninety years ago, when the ports of Holland were free, the average price of wheat was upwards of 47s. 6d., from which there was not much, if any, variation in England. He had a right to expect that as improvements took place, prices throughout the world would be cheaper; and why should not England be placed in the same situation? He did not believe they would fall more in England than elsewhere, and he was certain we should have our food at the same prices as other countries. And why should we not? Was it just to see every year fifty millions of exports, created by our artisans, and those artisans obliged to pay higher prices for their provisions than those of any other country in the world whose products came into competition with theirs in foreign markets? The artisans of England, of France, of Belgium, and of America, would, by this measure, be placed as nearly as possible upon the same footing as regarded food. The labour of our workmen, therefore, would find its reward in neutral markets: thus the country would be benefited, whilst our artisans would not suffer from inequalities in the price of food. The late debate had exhibited, as it appeared to him, an amount of selfishness which he did not suppose to exist among Gentlemen on the opposite benches. The House had heard of nothing from them but an anxiety for the landed interest, as if they paid all the taxes necessary for the support of Government; whilst they paid only a fraction. But he would ask whether it was becoming in them to wish to put their hands into the pockets of every other class? which he contended they did. He might be told that this was an unfair statement; but he was prepared to support it. The Income Tax of five millions annually was assessed upon 200 millions of property. Of those 200 millions, the whole land of England was assessed at only thirty-two millions, manufactures at forty-one millions, and trade at fifty millions. Yet, although the land was assessed at less than trade or manufactures, the claim was made that all the other interests should pay to it a higher price for their food. He would now come to the immediate question, and to how he should vote this evening. He looked upon the measure of the right hon. Baronet as a comprehensive scheme. It was not confined to corn, but it embraced the whole Tariff, except a few articles. It was a greater, more extensive, and more useful scheme than he had anticipated; and he was not willing to risk, in any way, its failure. He had, therefore, determined to vote with the right hon. Baronet, whose measure he would take now, and see how much more he could get afterwards. He advised his hon. Friends near him to adopt the language which was used when the Reform Bill was before that House, and take the measure, the whole measure, and nothing but the measure. He was sorry he could not on this occasion vote for the Amendment; but he should not be considered the less a free trader, for he had supported every proposition made for the abolition of the Corn Laws. He still believed also that total and immediate repeal would be the best course in every way; but fearing that any attempt at interference might risk the whole arrangement, he should give his support to the measure proposed by the right hon. Baronet.


The hon. Gentleman has said that we are a selfish party, and that we cannot be content with our fair share of the government of the coun- try. If we had but our fair share of the government of the country, I think there would be very little doubt how the measure now under discussion would go in this House. But if the hon. Gentleman means to say that we are not only not content with having our fair share of the government of the country, but that we are not content to bear our fair share of the burdens of the country, then I beg leave to tell him that I differ from him altogether in the view which he takes. I think it might be easily shown that so far from not bearing a fair share in the taxes of the country, the landed interests bear a much larger share than other interests. The hon. Gentleman says the landed interest is assessed at 32,000,000l. I believe it is assessed at 37,000,000l. But taking it at 32,000,000l. it is so much the better for my argument. The landed interest pays 52–100ths of all the poor's rates; while the whole of their income is assessed at 70,000,000l. a year. The other 135,000,000l. pay but 48–100ths of the poor's rates. The landed interests are only assessed at 32,000,000l., and they pay 52–100ths of the poor's rates, which amounts to 7,000,000l. a year. I do not think, then, the hon. Gentleman has shown by his speech to-night, that he is correct in the assertion, that we wished to relieve ourselves from our share of the burdens of the country. With respect to the Motion before the House—whether it should consent to an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws, or accept the measure of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government, I take leave to say, that my Friends here have been much misapprehended in what has been stated by them on this subject. It has been alleged that my hon. friend, who is absent to-night, stated, in behalf of the agricultural interest, that the farmers of England would prefer to have immediate repeal, to a repeal hanging over them for three years. In that the hon. Gentleman is correct; but the reason of our preference for the Bill to immediate repeal is, that we do not consider it quite certain that, at the end of three years, the Corn Laws will be repealed. Though we may have met with a heavy blow and great discouragement in the desertion of our leaders, we have been told by the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, that if he had accepted the Government he would have been in a minority; and I can assure my noble Friend, that I cordially concur with him in that sentiment. I was in London during the short interregnum that followed the right hon. Baronet's resignation, and was frequenting the clubs; and I must say, that so far as I could judge from the sentiments of many Gentlemen who will vote differently now, I do not think my noble Friend would have had much of their support. If that be so, is it not a proof that it is not the minds of hon. Gentlemen that are changed—it is not exactly their opinions that are changed; and, perhaps, if we go to the country now, we shall find that the country will return Gentlemen holding the same sentiments as those elected in 1841, when Her Majesty appealed to the country. We have, it is true, received a check—we have been repulsed for a moment—but we do not think ourselves half beaten yet. Napoleon said, the English army never knew when they were beaten, and I trust we shall find the same result in this case. It may be through ignorance on our part; but still we mean to fight the battle from pillar to post. We will not be defeated to-night because we join with Her Majesty's Ministers and also with many of my noble Friends and right hon. Friends opposite. To-night, then, we shall be in a majority. But, if eventually we shall be defeated in this House, as we were on Saturday morning last, we will retreat and rally our forces, and will give our opponents battle again before the country. I think before we have done, we shall drive Her Majesty's Ministers to have recourse again to the opinions of Her Majesty's people. We shall not despair of eventual success; and that is the reason why, in perfect consistency with the opinions of the farmers and landed interest of England, we think it is better to vote for repeal at the end of three years, than immediate repeal. We prefer to postpone that day, because we know that in the interval we must be returned to the people, and then we hope to be able to restore things to what they were before. Sir, I am too grateful for the attention and indulgence I received the other night from the House to go at any length into the question this night; but with respect to the prices of corn quoted to-night by some of my hon. Friends, and doubted at the other side of the House, I must take leave to say, that I shall now quote from an authority which I think cannot be impugned. I shall quote from Mr. Porter's Tables, which have been originally derived from the Prussian Royal Gazette. I find from that authority that during the eighteen years from 1820 to 1837 inclusive, the average price of corn in the ports of Russia, including Dantzic and Konigsberg, was 25s. 4d. Now, taking all the expenses to the port of London at 6s. more, you will then have the price at 31s. 4d. That is the price at which corn can be sold in the port of London. But in the course of that long period, there were five years consecutively from 1833 to 1837, when the average price of corn was 23s.; and five other years, from 1823 to 1827, when the average price of corn was 20s. 1d. There are, besides, other ports at which it is sixpence a quarter cheaper. It is clear, then, from these returns, there will be little doubt that we shall have wheat in the port of London at a very low price when the Corn Laws are repealed. I have also in my hand other communications — one especially from a constituent of my hon. Friend, one of the Members for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Beckett Denison), a Mr. Taylor, who has been forty years in the corn trade. I have no acquaintance with the gentleman; but I am sure my hon. Friend can vouch for his respectability. He has voluntarily written to me, and states that he has been forty years in the corn trade; and, during that time, has purchased beans at Hamburgh at from 10s. 6d. to 11s. a quarter; oats from 7s. 6d. to 8s., and wheat from 18s. to 23s. per quarter. I may say that this gentleman adds, or rather he commences his letter by saying, that he has read what I had said upon the subject, and continues in these words—"Your Lordship is quite correct. The difference in the duty now payable by law and the duty proposed will be pocketed by the holders of foreign corn." I have another statement in confirmation. I have a letter from a gentleman named Bouker, who has also been forty years in the corn trade, and he writes that, in 1826, he purchased large quantities, to the extent of several thousand quarters of red wheat, as fine as any that could be grown, at prices varying from 18s. to 21s.; and that then freight to London amounted to 3s. 6d. Now, if we take the highest, 21s., and add 3s. 6d. for freight, it will make 24s. 6d., and still allow him a reasonable profit. Thus it will be clear—too clear—to the farmers of England at what sort of price foreign corn can be brought into the market to compete with theirs. I have another letter from a firm in Norfolk, who state that they have purchased within the last year 807 quarters of wheat at Hamburgh, and that they had the offer of 3,000 quarters at the same price; but that they only purchased 807. The price of this wheat, free on board, in June last was 26s. 4d., and the expense to the port of London, including freight, lighterage, port dues, and all other small incidental expenses, amounted to 6s. more. Six shillings more and 26s. 4d. make 32s. 4d., and that was the price paid in June last for wheat weighing 62 lbs. the bushel, and imported by this firm and sent to London for sale. I now beg leave to inform the House that a considerable portion of this wheat is at present in bond; and if Gentlemen will add the existing duty of 17s. to the cost of that corn at Mark Lane, they will find that the importer can afford to pay 17s. duty and clear 14s. profit beside. ["No, no."] I have given hon. Gentlemen the figures. I hope they will take them down, and I challenge any hon. Member who cries "No, no," to disprove my assertion, that the importers of the 807 quarters of wheat will make less than 14s. profit after paying the present duty of 17s. Well, then, is not that a proof that in the measure about to be introduced by Her Majesty's Ministers, who think so much of the taxes upon the people—who pretend to say they could not think even if Ireland was starving, of coming to this House, and asking the House to pay 17s. a quarter for their wheat—is it not, I ask, clear to whom they will make a present of the difference between 4s. and 17s. I will not detain the House with reference to the speech made by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Bright); but he has been pleased to make a little diversion, and recited a portion of the evidence which has been given before a Committee of this House with respect to the damage done by game on the Duke of Rutland's estate. It is right I should say the witness in question was a Quaker. I assure hon. Gentlemen I feel no disrespect for the order of Quakers; on the contrary, I entertain a high respect for them; but it so happens this gentleman carried his aversion to bloodshed even further than the gentlemen at Reading, who presented a petition last night in opposition to the vote of thanks passed to the British army for their services in India. This witness was a respectable and excellent man; but he carried his prejudice to such an extent, that though he admitted the Duke of Rutland was an excellent and kind man—that he would not allow a poor man on his estate to want—that he was a nobleman who could not find it in his heart to turn out a farmer from his occupation, although he was a bad farmer, whose ancestors had been long upon his estate; but still this excellent Quaker had such an aversion to bloodshed, that he could not for his life understand how the Duke of Rutland could possibly take delight in spilling the blood of partridges and pheasants. And such was his prejudice, that when it became a question of damage done by game, he really could see nothing in its true light, and went the length of telling us the damage by game, even to meadow land, was at the rate of 30s. per acre; and when I took the liberty of cross-examining him, I ascertained the land was let at 25s. I should wish to set the hon. Member right with respect to the great damage done by game at the expense of the Duke of Rutland. I suppose the hon. Gentleman's argument is that, if game is destroyed we can afford to have free trade. I can assure the hon. Gentleman, on the authority of my two noble Friends behind me, sons of the Duke of Rutland (the Marquess of Granby and Lord John Manners) that having been deceived by the particular view of the gentleman to whom he (Lord G. Bentinck) had adverted, the noble Duke employed other valuers, and instead of the loss being 954l. in 1833, and 951l. in 1844, the new valuers valued at somewhere below 200l. and 300l. I trust now, Sir, I have answered the observations of my fellow-labourer the hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham. I beg to thank the House for the patience with which it has listened to me.


said, one part of the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down went to show how very cheap they might get corn in this country if they allowed it to come in duty free. The other part was in reference to the proceedings of a Committee which had not yet reported to that House. He would not dwell upon the admissions of the noble Lord, or upon the great defeat which the principles he advocated had experienced, further than to say that this was a subject of great exultation to the people of this country, mingled with some little indignation at the immense injustice which had been practised upon them for so many years. But the noble Lord had given us 31s. 2d. as the price at which he was going to supply us with bread. But he was underbid. The hon. Member for Sunderland had offered us bread at 25s., and while the people could deal with that hon. Member, they would not go to the noble Lord's shop. The question before the House was a very narrow one. He would not deviate from its discussion. The question was this—whether the Corn Law was to be immediately abolished, or to be abolished in three years? He would say, in reference to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), that he thought it was unfortunate that it was brought forward at this moment; but he believed there was no other way consistently with the forms of the House in which it could be brought forward. If this discussion could have come on at a later period, when the temper of the House was in a fitter state for a calm deliberation of the question; and when the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway should have become reconciled to the passing of the right hon. Baronet's proposition (which it inevitably would be), he thought it might have been differently entertained: because he had heard no argument in favour of delaying the repeal from any man of authority, from any statesman, politician, or farmer's friend. On the contrary, he would reiterate what had been said. The hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) distinctly asserted in the name of the agriculturists—["Oh! oh!" from the Protectionists] — yes, he made the distinct asseveration, and pledged himself seriously to the truth of it, and while doing so he was unanimously cheered by the Gentlemen behind him, that if the question was between delayed repeal or immediate repeal, he would prefer the latter. The Duke of Richmond said the same thing in another place. He had not heard any Gentleman venture to say that the farmers were of opinion that they would prefer a delayed repeal. He challenged any one to say that they would. He believed that if there was anything upon which they entertained a unanimous feeling, it was in favour of immediate repeal, as contradistinguished from delayed repeal. He would not include the land agents. Most of the protectionist speakers were land agents. ["No, no!"] He would repeat the statement. He had been amongst them in every county in the kingdom; and he had challenged them at their meetings, "Are you not a land agent?" and the burst of laughter that followed confirmed the question. The land agents, and the solicitors and surveyors, were all interested in promoting the causes of removals, changes, failures, and embarrassments among the farmers. But he would challenge any one to get up and say that the farmer would prefer this delayed repeal to immediate repeal. What were the grounds put forward in favour of delay? It was that this question was not to be settled by the division which might be come to now. It had been said by a noble Lord that this battle was not to be decided by a decision of the House of Commons. The noble Lord told the House that Napoleon once said that the English did not know when they were beaten; he begged to remind the noble Lord that he was not now speaking to Frenchmen but to Englishmen. But all this was in his (Mr. Cobden's) opinion a very strong justification of the Motion of his hon. Friend; for what was the object of that Motion? It was that they (the opponents of the Corn Laws) might occupy the same position, that impregnable position in the country, by which they had been enabled to beat, and should continue to be able to beat, the noble Lord and those who thought with him. His hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), had chided him and his Friends for bringing forward this Motion—a Motion involving a question which he (Mr. Cobden) believed to be the very bond of union amongst the friends of free trade. He was at all times prepared to listen to everything which might fall from his hon. Friend. He was entitled to their respectful attention; for no one had ever taken a greater part in the advocacy of the principles of free trade, and that at a period when they were very differently received from what they were now. He, for one, would never rob his hon. Friend of the laurels which he had justly won. But he would ask his hon. Friend, whether this question of free trade would ever have occupied the position it now did in that House, if it had not been for the organization out of doors? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) must have too keen a recollection of those most unseemly sounds which used to break upon his ear, when he dared to mention corn, or the Corn Law, fifteen years ago. It was only since this organization had taken place that the question of the Corn Laws had ever had a fair hearing in that House. If then they, the advocates of repeal, were to depart from their position; if such a thing could arise as that they should be disbanded and dispersed out of doors; if public opinion on this great question should be withdrawn, he would ask whether it was likely any free-trade measure could be carried even now? Therefore, his hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers) was entitled to the thanks of the friends of free trade, for having brought forward this Amendment. His hon. Friend had been justified by everything which had occurred in that House. Every one, on both sides of the House—those who had spoken in favour of the measure, and those who had spoken against it — some on one side, and some on the other—every one had failed to show that the foundation of the principle he and his hon. Friend were contending for was wrong. When, then it could be shown that they were right in principle, it must be very obvious that they could never be wrong with the country. The noble Lord the Member for the city of London, took exception to the Amendment, because it would endanger the measure of the Government. In the first place, he (Mr. Cobden) did not think that any danger to the measure of the Government would be incurred by any vote which might be given on his (Mr. Cobden's) side of the House, seeing that hon. Gentlemen opposite were going to vote for the three years' proposition, in the hope of keeping the Corn Law on in perpetuity. He would ask his noble Friend and others, had the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government offered any guarantee to the House that, if he could pass this measure through the House of Commons, he could pass it into a law? The right hon. Gentleman had heard the insinuation, and even the threat, that the fate of this measure should be decided in another place; and if he (Mr. Cobden) understood the language of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, it was this—that they (the House of Commons) must look for the rejection of this measure elsewhere. Seeing that the right hon. Baronet could not give them a guarantee for passing this measure into a law, they (the free traders) could not surrender their principle into his hands in favour of a measure, though he (Mr. Cobden) would admit that measure was very little inferior to his own. He would not undervalue the measure. He had said it was 17s. 6d. in the pound of their (the free-traders') demand; and it was a good guarantee and security for the other 2s. 6d. The people out of doors—the repealers—neither desired, nor would it be possible, to offer any obstruction to the passing of this measure. The right hon. Gentleman had already allayed agitation by the proposition; and the country was tranquil and in suspense, awaiting the passing of this measure. But the country was only with the right hon. Baronet as he could get that measure passed. If it were now transferred from this arena to be disposed of in another place, he would say that, as far as out-of-door agitation went, if this measure were passed—if it were acquiesced in—that it would be impossible to maintain or excite any intense agitation until the law expired. It was obvious that the law would run out of itself. The English people were practical people; and they would say, "Where is the use of creating agitation? We know the end of it is inevitable—the Act of Parliament has provided for its extinction; and though we have to wait a year and a half, which we would rather not do, still before we could get up an agitation against it the law would expire." But hon. Gentlemen opposite had placed him (Mr. Cobden) and his Friends who were free traders in a position which justified the observation of his hon. Friend the Member for Durham last night. They had, in fact, rendered imperative the very course he then stated. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, in the first place, said they would not let the measure pass if they could help it; and that, if it was passed, they would then agitate for another election in the hope of undoing it. Now, he saw a desperate course was determined upon by the hundred Gentlemen on the other side. ["More!"] No; he (Mr. Cobden) did not think there were more. They were prepared for any desperate course, consistently with the Orders of the House, and consistently with honour, to reject and defeat this measure. They were not only prepared to do this, but they were prepared also, at the first convenient opportunity, to put the present Government in a minority. He, for one, saw great danger in that course. They might not have the power in that case of pressing that measure on the attention of the House until this should be disposed of. Again, there might be some delay in another place, and there were also Motions now on the Paper of the House, which might be brought forward before this measure was disposed of in that House, or elsewhere, upon which the Government might possibly be thrown into a minority. He could foresee the possibility of the Government being out of office before this measure passed the other House of Parliament. He could not say whether the present Ministers' possession of office was worth six weeks' or two months' purchase. He (Mr. Cobden), however, must say, that he could not see either the wisdom or policy in turning the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) out of office. That, however, was the business of the hon. Gentlemen opposite; his business was to keep this question out of the power of those hon. Gentlemen, and out of their reach. With the country the question was safe; and when they were united on the principle of the immediate and total repeal of the Corn Laws, no power on earth could prevent the carrying of that object. And it was because he foresaw danger—because he foresaw a factious opposition to the present Minister—a course of policy which he (Mr. Cobden) would not lend himself to — it was because he saw in these insidious Amendments of which notice had been given in that House, and the Amendments which had been spoken of in another place, dangers and pitfalls for this measure; it was therefore, and therefore alone, that he was anxious that the Anti-Corn-Law party should preserve themselves intact with the country, in order that, should its opponents succeed in defeating the measure, or altering it to its prejudice, they might fall back upon the country ten times stronger than before. After the division upon the present question, he would give as cordial a support to the right hon. Baronet's measure as any man. He promised him that he would not absent himself from any of the discussions or divisions that might take place upon any of its stages, or the Amendments which might be proposed. Throughout he should feel it to be his duty to give to the measure his most cordial assent and assistance. And he would ask those hon. Gentleman opposite who had taken an enlightened view of the necessities of the country, and who, in some degree sacrificing their own feelings, had, from a conscientious view of that necessity, supported the Government measure, when they saw on the part of the free-trade party no disposition to obstruct, but every disposition to aid them, for the purpose of attaining the object in view, he hoped if, by any unexpected union or combination, or by any accident, a dissolution should be forced on, that those hon. Gentlemen opposite who had so far assisted the Government in their modified measure, when they saw that this attempt to conciliate, by agreeing to this three years' delay, instead of having tended to diminish the clamour or the intensity of the opposition, that every species of factious opposition was offered to the measure, he hoped they would come to the conclusion that, when they did appeal to the country, where there was but one principle recognised—viz., total and immediate repeal, that every vestige of the whole party spirit of Whig and Tory would be thrown aside until the great question should be fairly decided. He did not intend, on that occasion, to go into the question of how the farmer would be benefited by a total and immediate repeal: his opinions upon that point were before the country, and he would not repeat them; but he hoped when this question should be put fairly to the country, and when they found that the farmer would prefer immediate to deferred repeal, he hoped to see, and he did not despair of seeing, the question finally disposed of by a Motion in the way of an Amendment, before the Act passed, or afterwards by a short Bill, that immediate repeal would still be the result. And if hon. Gentlemen opposite (the protectionists) would only consider what they were entailing upon themselves by promoting and compelling the continuance of this agitation—if they would kindly consider what their position really was in the contest—why he, as a Member of the Anti-Corn-Law League, was almost ashamed to enter into the field of battle with them, having such odds in his favour. Broken, dispirited, and without leaders, as they were, the very ghost of the League, when dissolved, would be more powerful than the flesh, blood, and sinews of the whole body of the protection party. He hoped that they would take a cooler and a better view of the case; and if the House of Lords would take his advice—[a laugh]—yes, if they would take his advice, instead of—what he would call, were it Parliamentary—the insane advice of the opponents of the measure; if, instead of throwing out the Bill, they would say, "the farmers and the country prefer immediate repeal, we will not only pass the measure as it comes up to us, but make it perfect," the House of Lords would then restore itself to public confidence, and the country would say what was once said by an individual—"Thank God, we have yet a House of Lords."


thought it most unreasonable that the hon. Gentleman and the other Members of the League should, now that they were about to carry their object, hold their triumph incomplete, unless they could dictate the precise terms in which the concession should be made. It was quite natural that they should rejoice in the near fulfilment of their great project; and it did not beseem the hon. Member for Stockport to take the opportunity of raking up old speeches and old vexatious gibes, merely for the pleasure of showing his antagonism to hon. Members on the other side. He would distinctly say that he considered this a wise, prudent, and considerate arrangement. He could not understand how any person who had seriously recognised the advantage of protection to corn up to the present period, could view the proposition of the right hon. Baronet in any other light than a benefit and an alleviation of the difficulties they expected to encounter. Were they to reject his proposition, and at once accept an immediate and entire repeal, it would be exactly like preferring to go down a very steep, instead of a moderate decline, and to go down it at full speed. They would lose, as at this moment, a protection of 20s., instead of 14s.; and when the price was at 48s., they would lose 20s. instead of 10s. Another point to which he would refer, was the unsettled state of the arrangements between landlords and tenants; at present they did not know how to make their arrangements. He, for one, should be exceedingly glad to come to a fair understanding with his tenants, and to have the opportunity of three years of a partial but comparative security, in which to ascertain how this great change would really work, and to calculate better what would be its effect when carried out to its full extent. Probably the whole work of deterioration would in that interval take place; and they should then know what they had to look for, and might make the best arrangements they could. Another consideration with him was a wish to avoid interference with the details of his right hon. Friend's measure, of which he alone was the best judge, being in exclusive possession of the means of forming an accurate opinion. In fact, he did not choose to share in the right hon. Baronet's responsibility; it was possible the right hon. Baronet (though they could not see it), might be conferring a great advantage on the country; therefore, if his efforts were crowned with success, deserved or not, let him have the full credit of it. But if it should prove a failure, if seasons of agricultural distress should supervene; and if the distress should extend itself to other interests, let the right hon. Baronet bear the whole responsibility. The principle of the measure having been fully and fairly affirmed, they would do best to leave it untouched in the details.


said, he had already stated that he should give his humble support to the measure of the Government as it stood. He was fully aware that by voting with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he might give a more popular vote; but he wished to give all the assistance in his power to enable Ministers to carry this measure—the right hon. Baronet having stated, most truly, that he could not be responsible for the consequences of this wide measure if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton were adopted. The right hon. Baronet had certainly stated, that had such a proposition come from the protectionists, he would not have refused to accommodate them; but this had not been the case. Wishing to see the measure carried as it stood, he felt proud to vote with the right hon. Baronet. Having called on the Government to stand by the whole of their original plan, were he now to desert them, and vote for immediate repeal, he should have no right to require from them an adherence to the proposal for either an immediate or prospective settlement. He had voted for the repeal of the Corn Laws long before the Anti-Corn-Law League was in existence; but he regarded this measure in a practical point of view, and with reference to the state of parties in the country. On a former occasion hon. Gentlemen opposite had said they should prefer immediate to deferred repeal; but now, when put to the test, it appeared they would go into the lobby with the right hon. Baronet, whom they were vituperating and calumniating from day to day. The right hon. Baronet would not be safe in the lobby with those hon. Gentleman. He regretted that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had moved this Amendment; it would answer no purpose, unless it were to save the conscience and honour of the Anti-Corn-Law League, who had always been pledged to total and immediate repeal. So had he (Mr. Duncombe) and other hon. Members; and they had voted for it long before these Gentlemen of the League came into that House. Whatever might be the consequences, and however unpopular the Anti-Corn-Law League might make his vote on this occasion, he felt bound to go out with Ministers.


was at a loss to know into which lobby some hon. Members could go with safety. The hon. Baronet opposite told them that the right hon. Baronet would not be safe in their lobby; but he should think, from the circum- stances which had taken place within the last few years, that the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary was not safe in the same lobby with the hon. Member for Finsbury. However, he might venture to assert that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would not meet with any great degree of personal inconvenience from hon. Members who sat about him. He would not have risen had it not been for the pointed remarks of the hon. Member for Stockport with respect to his noble relative. The hon. Member had stated that his noble relative had declared in another place that he was for an immediate as well as total repeal of the Corn Laws. That statement he begged leave most distinctly to deny. He had the best reason for knowing that what his noble relative really said, was, that he thought it better to have a total and immediate abolition of all duty on corn, rather than a diminishing duty for three years, and then a repeal of all protection, supposing that the present measure was inevitable, and that the proposal of Her Majesty's Government be carried. But his noble relative felt that the measure could not be carried, and entertaining that belief, he was of opinion that it would be the height of folly to advocate an immediate and total repeal of the Corn Laws. What reason had his noble relative for believing it could not be carried? One of the strongest was contained in the statement of the noble Lord the Member for London, who last night expressed his firm belief that if he had been in power, and had proposed a measure precisely similar to that now brought forward by the right hon. Baronet, he should have been in a minority, even though he had been supported by that right hon. Gentleman in his individual capacity as a Member of the House of Commons. In expressing that belief, the noble Lord in effect said that the majority of the House of Commons was opposed to this measure of the right hon. Gentleman. It was clear that the case was so from that statement. The country certainly was against it. Let the House look to the result of the recent elections in proof of that. Let them look to the returns for two divisions of Nottinghamshire, for Gloucester, and for Westminister. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh, and think he had forgotten that the hon. and gallant Officer who had been returned for Westminster voted with the Government. Certainly not; he knew it well, but he referred to that election because it proved that the people of Westminster were better gratified—were in fact delighted to return the hon. and gallant Officer whose principles they were acquainted with—rather than the gallant Officer, a great friend of his (Lord March) who professed one principle in 1841, and another in 1846. The electors preferred a man who adhered to his opinions and pledges, and did not deceive them. The hon. Member for Stockport said he would fight the ghost of the Anti-Corn-Law League against the flesh and blood and sinews of the protectionists. To that contest he challenged the hon. Gentleman. Did the hon. Member, when he made that offer, recollect the position in which he placed the body he so ably represented in that House? Did he forget that before he could produce the ghost of the League, he must entirely annihilate its substance? Whilst he gave the hon. Member for Stockport every credit for consistency, and believed he was actuated in his course of conduct by a desire for the welfare of his country, he could not but say that it was most inconsistent for a Government brought in on the principles of protection to British industry, by a majority of ninety-one, to bring forward a measure for its destruction, and that they ought first, in common honesty, to appeal to the people of this country.


said, that he should not have troubled the House but for the appeal which had been made to him by the hon. Member for Stockport. That hon. Member had misrepresented a statement which had fallen from him on a former occasion. What he had stated—and if the hon. Member for Stockport had read all the debates he must have seen it—was, that at the end of the three years, the probable average would be 35s. to 40s., not 25s. a quarter. The hon. Member had talked of the ghost of the League. He had met the body of the League in Sunderland, and he thought he might fairly say he had routed it. Now he fairly warned that body, that there was nothing of which the people of England were so jealous as the wholesale manufacture of votes, and the system of misrepresentation and intimidation which for some time had been carried on. There was nothing which the people of England would repel with so much indignation as conduct like that. The League ought to have stated their case fairly to the people of England, and told them the probable effects of the change on the rate of wages; they should have told them that protection was to be taken, not from the agriculturists alone, but from all interests. The agriculturists had been accused of plunder; but he begged to say, that if protection was plunder, it was plunder in which the manufacturers had joined. He had been taunted by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that while supporting protection, he meant to vote in the coming division in favour of the right hon. Baronet. He thought he had fairly given notice, and had explained why he meant to go out with the right hon. Baronet against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. As for the hon. Member for Sheffield, he did not know where the hon. Member had got his information, that the farmers were for immediate repeal; he believed that, of the two evils, the farmers would prefer the three years' delay. That delay would enable the farmer so to arrange his ground that in 1849 he would not be obliged to grow corn; and, besides, it would give the Government time to do justice to the farming interest by a reduction of taxation in poor rates, highway rates, and county rates, and also to consider the malt tax. This would be the greatest boon to the farmers, enabling them to malt their corn, and feed their cattle; and in the hope of this, along with the rest, he (Mr. Hudson) would cheerfully support the Motion for three years' delay. With respect to the measure itself, if it turned out better than he expected, nobody would rejoice more than himself, but his reason led him to form a gloomy anticipation. He denied that he was influenced by any selfish motive; and at the same time he must observe that an imputation of selfishness came with a very bad grace from hon. Members opposite. The great interests of the country were engaged. He wished to gain time for them, and therefore he should vote for the Motion of the right hon. Baronet.


was understood to say that he was acquainted with many persons who were extensive farmers of land, and as far as he could ascertain their opinions on the subject, he believed that their wishes were that the repeal of the Corn Laws, if carried at all, should be immediate. He believed that they now anxiously wished that there should at last be a settlement of the question.


wished to say a few words before the Committee divided. As some of Her Majesty's Ministers were still without seats in Parliament, he would, in the exercise of that Christian charity which was due even to the right hon. Baronet and his Cabinet, suggest to the House the expediency of restoring the elective franchise to Sudbury. In the Bill to be brought in for that purpose, it would be necessary to insert a special provision, enacting that the borough of Sudbury should return to Parliament those Ministers who had been rejected by the other constituencies of England.


I regret exceedingly, Sir, to find that the hon. and learned Member for Wolverhampton persists in dividing the House upon his Motion. However much I may approve of his intentions, and however highly I may commend the purity of his motives, I cannot conceive a more inexpedient course can be pursued by any Member friendly to the measure of Her Majesty's Government, than by dividing the House upon this question. I believe that he has taken this step in conformity with pledges given elsewhere, and, therefore, that the hon. and learned Member does not feel at liberty to abandon the course which he is about to pursue. I feel, however, that it is a most unfortunate step, because out of doors it may have the effect of producing an impression that there is on the part of those who are friendly to the measure of the Government a divided opinion on this great question. But, Sir, there is no division among them; and I think that the country will find that those who go out into the lobby with the hon. and learned Member for Wolverhampton are the most earnest, the most serious, and the most strenuous advocates of the measure of the Government. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may imagine that a different opinion will obtain among the people. But how little do those Gentlemen know of public opinion! So mistaken are they upon the bearing of public opinion on this question, that a noble Lord who addressed the House a few minutes ago claimed Westminster as a proof that public opinion was in favour of the party to which he belongs. Why, Sir, there were two candidates for Westminster; one of whom had long been a determined repealer of the Corn Laws; the other, one who had received some new light on this question. Whom did the electors choose? They chose not the man who had taken a transitory view of the question, but him who had for years been the steady friend of a repeal of the Corn Laws. The Whigs, also, have no right to claim that election as being in favour of their views. They have no right to set up such a claim; because at the last general election, when three candidates presented themselves to the constituency, representing the Tory, the Whig, and the Radical parties, the electors of Westminster chose a Radical; and they have chosen a Radical now. I beg the Honse to understand that Radical principles are on the advance and in the ascendant. I regret that the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Wolverhampton has been made, but chiefly on the ground that an impression may exist out of doors that a division of opinion prevails among the supporters of the Government measure. I can assert, however, without fear of contradiction, from my intercourse with the middling and working classes of society, that the impression is all but universal that the right hon. Baronet the First Minister of the Crown has done all he could in introducing his measure in its present shape. But one hon. Gentleman opposite says, "We must go to the country;" another says, "You must go to the people." Why, you know perfectly well that you will not go to the people. If you do, let your elections be determined by a show of hands. You will not do that. Do not speak, then, of going to the people; because they have hands as well as you. You deny to the unfortunate being whose labour goes to create food a voice in the election of a Member to represent him in this discussion; and I am sure from what I have seen that the voice of the people is against you. The hon. Member concluded by imploring hon. Gentlemen opposite not to offer any opposition to the measure of the Government, but allow it to take its course.


wished to say that he had in his possession evidence of the feelings of the tenants, which he thought was scarcely in the possession of any other hon. Member. It had been asserted by the noble Lord the Member for Lincolnshire, that the opinion of the tenant-farmers of this country was in favour of immediate repeal. Now, he had an opportunity that day, within a few hours of coming to the House, of meeting many most intelligent tenant-farmers from various counties; and although he admitted that in the bitter disappointment they had felt at the sudden and unaccountable change of those whom they had trusted, such an expression might have fallen from them, as that they wished the question settled; yet he distinctly de- nied that the opinion of the tenant-farmers of this country was for total and immediate repeal. With reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Finsbury, he agreed with him in thinking that there was a democratic feeling brewing in this country; and he would tell Her Majesty's Ministers that it would grow in a class where they might not expect it.


replied: The hon. Member for Warwickshire had just given them what he called exclusive information as to the opinion of tenant-farmers, on his (Mr. Villiers's) Amendment, which he had procured from somebody that morning. Now, in answer to that private communication, he would refer to the opinion deliberately expressed in the paper considered throughout the country as the organ of the farmers—he meant the Mark Lane Express, in which it was stated in the leading article, that after giving the fullest consideration to what had been said by the farmers' friends in Parliament during the long debate, and after closely examining the speech of the most able of them, namely, the Member for Northamptonshire, they were obliged to come to the conclusion, that neither that hon. Gentleman, nor any of his friends, had succeeded in showing that the tenant-farmers had any interest in the continuance of the Corn Law; and that the illustration given by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire as to the effects of free trade, would not be admitted by the farmers of this country to be just—as the man who addressed his landlord in the terms supposed by the hon. Member, was no specimen of the British farmers in general, but was the case of a bad farmer and an idle man. He thought the Editor of the Mark Lane Express would hardly offend his readers by such a statement, if he had known it to be at variance with their real opinion. He (Mr. Villiers) did not rise then for the purpose of speaking again on his Amendment, as he collected from what had passed, that a large majority in the House entirely agreed with him on its merits. He wished, however, to vindicate himself from the reproaches that had been offered to him for making this Motion, and which came from a quarter that he had little expected—he alluded to the lectures he had received from the Member for Finsbury and the Member for Montrose. They charged him with being impracticable, and doing mischief by his Motion. Certainly, he thought it curious to hear those hon. Members setting themselves up as the practical men of the House, and charging others with embarrassing the Government, and not going with their party. He did not think that the speech they had just heard from the Member for Finsbury, was a very happy example of what was practical—considering that he advised this question to be settled by taking a show of hands throughout the country; but really if those hon. Gentlemen had done any good in their public career, which he did not deny, he thought it was chiefly by a system of isolation on which they proceeded, never heeding what was practical, or what was convenient to any party, but boldly stating and acting upon what they considered right. Now in this instance he really thought they might allow him to act upon the similar principle, without casting imputations as they had upon him and his friends, and as if they were not as able to judge of what was right as themselves. He did not dispute the propriety of the course pursued by some of his friends on this occasion; on the contrary, he had anticipated in making the Motion, that they might oppose him—acting upon the belief that they served the cause better by voting for the measure as it was, than by seeking to amend it then. He did not imply that they were less friendly to the principle of an amendment on that account, and he had said nothing to provoke the practical natures of those hon. Members. He had for some years past taken leave to act upon his own judgment on this question; and though he had unfortunately always been reproached for doing so, and always told that there was something wrong in his Motion, yet he could not think that this was precisely the year to make him regret what he had done. He had advocated this very principle of immediate repeal for some years past, and he did not see why he was to abandon it now: indeed, judging from the speeches of the majority of those who had spoken, and from the opinions known to exist out of doors, he never felt more satisfied of the wisdom and propriety of that course. He begged farther to say, that he had good reason to suppose, until he heard the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, that it would have been adopted by the House; for from the moment the measure was proposed by the Government, the protectionist party had in every direction asserted that it would be far better if the Corn Laws were to be repealed that it should be done at once. He had, indeed, been taunted by those Gentleman with a reluctance on his part to bring it forward now that he had a chance of carrying it: they defied him to make the Motion, as they should support it. Now it seemed that they had discovered that though it was for the interest of the farmer, as they had avowed, to have it immediately, yet that there was some interest which would not be favoured by that—the landlord's interest and the farmer's interest did not seem to be identical in this matter: they were going upon another tack, and assuming that they could defeat the measure altogether. The farmers were now to be encouraged to believe that protection could be maintained, and they were all going to vote for the protection offered them by the Government. He asked if that did not afford the strongest reason for adopting his Amendment? What was it that made it so desirable that the Corn Laws should be repealed immediately instead of in three years' time, but that the farmers and the landlords should at once prepare themselves for the change—should no longer delude themselves by trusting to protection—but for the evil make such arrangements and improvements as should enable them to meet the competition? Nobody in his senses could doubt that these laws must now soon be repealed; and, certainly, the contrary would not be believed by foreigners; yet what was the plan of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, but to encourage the farmers here to make no preparation for the change—to believe it was not necessary? while foreigners, confidently expecting the market to be open, would lose no time in providing for that supply which defective agriculture and bad arrangement between landlord and tenant rendered so necessary for this country. The foreign grower, having no faith in the noble Lord's threat, and having confidence in the success of a policy supported by the leading men of both parties, would be preparing; while the farmers, deluded by their friends, would be found slumbering, when the period for entire freedom arrived. Some of those who had opposed free trade, like the hon. Member for North Devonshire, said, that seeing the change was inevitable, they should be no parties to encourage the farmer to expect the contrary; but this friendly course to the farmer was, it seemed, not to be adopted by the majority: it became the House, then, not to lend itself to the delusion again about to be practised upon that unfortunate class. The time was now peculiarly favourable for the change: as hon. Gentlemen opposite had entirely failed to produce any panic among the farmers, their inclination was to believe that the law was to be repealed, and they desired to have it settled at once. He had a proof of this from what he had been informed had been the effect of the division on Saturday in several towns where the markets were being held on that day: though the majority was very large, making it certain that the measure would be passed, it was received with almost indifference, in no way interrupting business or exciting alarm. He had it from a farmer who was at the market table at Hertford, that, though the majority was well known to everybody, it was never made the subject of conversation once during the dinner. He had also received a letter from Gloucestershire that morning, in which it was stated, that the noble Marquess who had just been returned for that county, on the cry of protection, presided at an agricultural meeting after the election; and before he had left the room the farmers insisted upon signing a petition to the House, praying for the measure to be immediate instead of deferred. Under all these circumstances therefore, and having learnt from the right hon. Gentleman that he should not consider a majority in favour of this Amendment fatal to his measure, he should consider himself justified in going to a division, though he was aware that, owing to the apprehension of many of his friends on account of the other House of Parliament, it could not be taken as a fair test of the opinion of the House in favour of the Motion.

The Committee divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.—Ayes 265; Noes 78: Majority 187.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir. T. D. Baillie, H. J.
Acland, T. D. Baine, W.
A'Court, Capt. Bankes, G.
Acton, Col. Barkly, H.
Adderley, C. B. Baring, rt. hn. F. T.
Aglionby, H. A. Baring, T.
Alford, Visc. Baring, rt. hn. W. B.
Allix, J. P. Barnard, E. G.
Antrobus, E. Barrington, Visct.
Arbuthnot, H. Bateson, T.
Archbold, R. Beckett, W.
Astell, W. Bell, M.
Austin, Col. Benbow, J.
Bagge, W. Benett, J.
Bagot, hon. W. Bennet, P.
Bailey, J., jun. Bentinck, Lord G.
Baillie, Col. Beresford, Maj.
Bernal, R. Fleetwood, Sir P. H.
Bodkin, W. H. Flower, Sir J.
Boldero, H. G. Forster, M.
Borthwick, P. Fox, S. L.
Botfield, B. Fuller, A. E.
Bowes, J. Gardner, J. D.
Bowles, Adm. Gaskell, J. M.
Boyd, J. Gladstone, Capt.
Bramston, T. W. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Brisco, M. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Broadley, H. Gore, M.
Broadwood, H. Gore, hon. R.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Goring, C.
Browne, hon. W. Goulbourn, rt. hon. H.
Bruce, Lord E. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Bruce, C. L. C. Granby, Marquis of
Buck, L. W. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Buller, C. Grogan, E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Hale, R. B.
Butler P. S. Halford, Sir H.
Campbell, Sir H. Hall, Col.
Cardwell, E. Hamilton, W. J.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cayley, E. S. Harcourt, G. G.
Chandos, Marq. Hatton, Capt. V.
Chelsea, Visct. Hawes, B.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Henley, J. W.
Childers, J. W. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Hervey, Lord A.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Clifton, J. T. Hinde, J. H.
Clive, Visct. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Hodgson, R.
Cole, hon. H. A. Hope, Sir J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hope, A.
Collett, W. R. Hope, G. W.
Colquhoun, J. C. Hornby, J.
Compton, H. C. Horsham, E.
Conolly, Col. Hotham, Lord
Corry, rt. hon. H. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
Courtenay, Lord Howard, hn. E. G. G.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Howard, P. H.
Craig, W. G. Hudson, G.
Cripps, W. Hughes, W. B.
Davies, D. A. S. Hume, J.
Deedes, W. Hurst, R. H.
Denison, E. B. Hussey, T.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Irton, S.
Dickinson, F. H. James, W.
Disraeli, B. Jermyn, Earl
Dodd, G. Jocelyn, Visct.
Douglas, Sir H. Johnstone, Sir J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Johnstone, H.
Douglas, J. D. S. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Douro, Marquess of Jones, Capt.
Drummond, H. H. Kelly, Sir F.
Duckworth, Sir J. Kemble, H.
Duke, Sir J. Kirk, P.
Duncombe, T. Knight, F. W.
Duncombe, hon. A. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Du Pre, G. C. Lambton, H.
Egerton, Sir P. Law, hon. C. E.
Egerton, Lord F. Lawson, A.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Legh, G. C.
Emlyn, Visct. Lemon, Sir C.
Entwisle, W. Lennox, Lord G.
Feilden, W. Liddell, hon. H.
Feguson, Sir R. A. Loch, J.
Ferrand, W. B. Lockhart, A. E.
Filmer, Sir E. Lockhart, W.
Finch, G. Lyall, G.
Fitzmaurice, hon. W. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.
Mackenzie, T. Sheridan, R. B.
Mackenzie, W. F. Shirley, E. J.
McGeachy, F. A. Sibthorp, Col.
Mahon, Visct. Smith, A.
Mangles, R. D. Smith, J. A.
Manners, Lord C. S. Smythe, hon. G.
Manners, Lord J. Smollett, A.
March, Earl of Somerton Visc.
Martin, C. W. Spooner, R.
Martin, T. B. Spry, Sir S. T.
Masterman, J. Stanley, E.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Mildmay, H. St. John Stanton, W. H.
Milnes, R. M. Stewart, J.
Morgan, O. Stuart, H.
Napier, Sir C. Stuart, J.
Neville, R. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Newdegate, C. N. Thesiger, Sir F.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Thompson, Mr. Aldm.
O'Brien, A. S. Tomline, G.
Packe, C. W. Trench, Sir F. W.
Palmer, R. Tufnell, H.
Palmer, G. Vernon, G. H.
Palmerston, Visct. Vivian, J. H.
Patten, J. W. Vivian, J. E.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Peel, J. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Pennant, hon. Col. Waddington, H. S.
Philipps, G. R. Wakley, T.
Polhill, F. Walpole, S. H.
Pusey, P. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Rashleigh, W. Wellesley, Lord C.
Reid, Sir J. R. Wilshere, W.
Reid, Col. Wodehouse, E.
Repton, G. W. J. Wood, Col. T.
Rolleston, Col. Worsley, Lord
Round, J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Rumbold, C. E. Wrightson, W. B.
Russell, Lord J. Wyndham, Col. C.
Ryder, hon. G. D. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Sandon, Visct. TELLERS.
Scott, hon. F. Young, J.
Seymour, Lord Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Bannerman, A. Ewart, W.
Berkeley, hon. C. Fielden, J.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Ferguson, Col.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Blewitt, R. J. Fox, C. R.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Gibson, T. M.
Bowring, Dr. Hall, Sir B.
Brotherton, J. Hastie, A.
Busfeild, W. Hindley, C.
Chapman, B. Hollond, R.
Christie, W. D. Langston, J. H.
Cobden, R. Layard, Capt.
Colborne, hon. W. N. R. M'Carthy, A.
Collett, J. McTaggart, Sir J.
Crawford, W. S. Marjoribanks, S.
Currie, R. Marshall, W.
Dalmeny, Lord Martin, J.
Dalrymple, Capt. Mitcalfe, H.
Dennistoun, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Duncan, Visct. Moffatt, G.
Duncan, G. Morpeth, Visct.
Dundas, Adm. Morris, D.
Ebrington, Visct. O'Connell, D.
Ellice, E. O'Connell, M. J.
Elphinstone, H. O'Connell, J.
Escott, B. Oswald, James
Etwall, R. Parker, J.
Evans, Sir De Lacy Pattison, J.
Pechell, Capt. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Philips, M. Walker, R.
Plumridge, Capt. Warburton, H.
Protheroe, E. Ward, H. G.
Ross, D. R. Wawn, J. T.
Russell, Lord E. White, S.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Williams, W.
Staunton, Sir G. T. Wood, C.
Stuart, Lord J. Yorke, H. R.
Strutt, E.
Tancred, H. W. TELLERS.
Thornely, T. Villiers, hon. C.
Trelawny, J. S. Bright, J.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at twenty minutes past One.