§ The further proceedings on the Report of these Resolutions was resumed.
§ On the Question relative to Silk Worm Gut,
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, that he would move that those words be omitted for the purpose of addressing the House upon the present occasion. It had been stated, that the trade was generally in favour of a reduction of the duties on silk. Now he supposed that the trade consisted of the masters and of the workmen; and, from information he had received, he believed that neither the masters nor the workmen were in favour of the proposal of the Government. The working classes were certainly opposed to it. Public meetings in various parts of the country had been held, in which the working people had passed resolutions strongly conveying their disapproval of the Government scheme. An open public meeting had been held at Leek, in Staffordshire, in which such resolutions had been passed. A similar meeting had been held at Middleton, near Manchester; another at Manchester; and another at Ormskirk. At the latter place a free trader had occupied the chair of the meeting; and such had been the conviction produced by the speeches of those in favour of protection to the silk trade, that the chairman and his free-trade adherents had been converted, and had passed over to the side of protection. Several other meetings, at eight or nine different places, had been held, and at every one of them resolutions had been passed opposed to the measure of the Government. He was the Chairman of the Handloom Weavers' Committee, and he had since then enjoyed, as he considered fortunately, very frequent 1127 opportunities of communication with them; and their opinion was, that the alterations which had taken place had been disastrous to their trade, and they were prepared to meet the present measure with every opposition—an opposition not, perhaps, much attended to; but still, as land and labour must go together, he hoped that if they could not alter the determination of Parliament, or prevent these Resolutions from passing, the Government would still be inclined to pay some attention to the prayers of these poor operatives, who surely ought to be allowed to understand something of their own interests. He earnestly entreated the Government to pause before they passed these Resolutions, which must produce the most disastrous effects. He would, if his strength permitted, notice some of the erroneous statements which were made on the subject of the recent discussions. The landlords of this country, however, who, say what you may, are not a mercenary body, have deeply at heart the condition of the working classes; and that feeling which they have for the labourers immediately around them, they would, willingly, cheerfully, cordially extend to every portion of the working community of the country. Let Parliament do what it would with the land, and with the landlords—it was not for them he was speaking, but for the working classes of the country, whose affections they must be desirous of acquiring, and on whose behalf he earnestly implored the House not to injure so grievously a body of men who had no dependencies except on their own labour.
§ DR. BOWRING
said, he had for years watched the progress of feeling amongst the working classes, and he could assure the hon. Member for Yorkshire that there was a very great improvement amongst them. The working classes of this country, as well as of foreign nations, were becoming aware of the degree of suffering which what was called protection inflicted upon them. Of this consciousness a remarkable instance was afforded by a memorial, addressed by the working classes of the city of Lyons to the Chamber of Deputies, in which they stated that they were poor, and were deemed ignorant; but that their poverty and ignorance did not prevent them from ascertaining that the labouring classes were deeply interested in the extension of their market. They were aware that protection, so far from being a benefit to them, was their bane. 1128 The English manufacturers desired it no longer, and the French repudiated it altogether. In consequence of the attention called to the superiority of French designs, owing to the greater encouragement given to that branch of art in France than in this country, and the immense disproportion of artists consequently employed—the numbers in France being as 100 to 1 in this country—the emulation of the English designer had been excited, and the result was that the disparity between French and English patterns was fast passing away. At this moment English silks were admitted into France at 12 per cent. while upon French silks imported into this country a duty of 30 per cent. was charged, and, in consequence of the manner in which it was levied, the exaction amounted in fact to 60 and 70 per cent. He was sure the removal of restrictions upon the intercourse between the two countries could do nothing but good to both.
§ MR. C. BULLER
just asked to recall to the recollection of the House that the question of silk had passed, and that the article they were now upon was that of silk-worm gut, something used, he believed, in fishing.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was exceedingly kind in his admonition, but it should have been directed to his own side of the House; for it was evident, from what had passed that night, that the Government and their supporters on the opposite side were determined to protract the discussion as long as possible. The hon. Member for Yorkshire had made a speech which had done equal credit to himself, to his class, to the House, and to the country. And then the Member for Bolton (Dr. Bowring) had followed with a speech to the effect that the working people, not of England, but of France, were in favour of the measure. Now it was most likely, as the people of France were our rivals in the silk among other manufactures, that their feelings on the subject would be quite at varience with those entertained by the people of this country. Let it be recollected that the people of France had not established the peace of the world at a cost of 600,000,000l., as the people of England had done, and that our industry had now to bear the burden of that cost, involving, as it did, the greater part of the annual taxation of 54,000,000l. The greatness of France depended almost entirely on her domestic industry; whereas that of England 1129 rested principally on the prosperity of her Colonies, within the range of which the productions of every climate and of every soil could be procured; so that her Legislature might, with perfect safety, extend the principle of protection over all her Colonies, embracing above 200,000,000 of inhabitants, and yet might obtain, within her own empire, the most ample supply of every commodity. The moderate protection contended for on behalf of native industry was not, therefore, in the case of England, at all inconsistent with perfect and unrestricted interchange of all the commodities that entered into the commerce or the consumption of a great nation. He deprecated the idea that the advocates of such protection, in opposing the present measure, were resisting free trade, properly so called, but the opposite of free trade. Free trade implied the unshackled exchange of the commodities of one country for those of all others on equal terms; but how could that be obtained in the absence of protective duties on behalf of the productions of a country the taxation of which was so disproportioned to any burdens which foreign nations had to bear? Let free trade be fairly and intelligibly advocated, or let there be moderate protection. But in a measure like the present there was a mixture of all things, and the assertion of nothing—there was "confusion worse confounded"—there was the absence of beginning, of middle, and of end—there was that which unsettled everything to settle nothing—that which inflicted all the evils of change on the nation, without any accompanying amelioration or advantage.
§ MR. MUNTZ
adverted to the manufacture of zinc, which he said had been utterly extinguished by the free-trade measure, and nearly a million of capital had been thus displaced. It was utterly impossible that in the manufacture of this metal we could compete with the foreigner without protection. He said this disinterestedly, for he should, nevertheless, vote for the repeal of all protective duties, that all interests might at least be on the same footing.
§ The item was then allowed to pass.
§ Question agreed to.
§ On the Question that Spirits and Strong Waters, of all sorts, 15s. the gallon, stand part of the Resolution,
§ MR. ALDERMAN THOMPSON
said, this head included the article of French brandy, &c., a most important item in respect to 1130 considerations of revenue; for the duty on foreign spirits, derived principally from Cognac brandy, amounted to nearly 1,200,000l. a year. The duty at present was 22s. 10d. a gallon. It was now proposed to reduce it to 15s., by taking off 7s. 10d., or nearly one third, which would reduce the revenue derived therefrom by at least 400,000l. Now he was not at all aware of the reason upon which it was proposed to abandon so large a portion of the revenue derived from this source. It could not surely be said that the object was to increase the consumption of spirits; for such an object would scarcely be avowed by any Government, and would not be reconcilable with any regard for the welfare of the people, either as respected their moral or physical condition. Moreover, if any such object were entertained, it could not be attained by any such means, because the price of the article must always confine the consumption to the middling classes. It might be said the object was to prevent smuggling, and a great deal had been said during these discussions upon that point. But how did the case stand as to brandies? Why, at the reduced rate of duty, the bonus it would afford to the smuggler would be 300 per cent; for a duty of 15s. per gallon was to be placed on an article, of which the prime cost was only 5s. per gallon. Further, the brandy trade was a complete monopoly. Cognac was the only description of brandy brought into home consumption to any great extent; and the import of that article was confined to some six or seven houses. Some brandy came from Bourdeaux and other places, but of very inferior quality; and all the best came from Cognac. Now, it was a striking fact, that in December last the price of this sort of Cognac was 85 francs per gallon, and it was now 120 francs. That was of the vintage of 1844; while the price of the vintage of 1845 (there being the two vintages now in the course of shipment) was in December last 95 francs, and now it was 130 francs per gallon. Little benefit, if any, then, it was obvious, could result to the consumer from the great loss of revenue now proposed upon this article. Nor was it possible to increase the supply of Cognac much beyond its present extent. It might be said, perhaps, that one object was to induce the French Government to show a more liberal spirit of commercial intercourse. His answer to that was, by inquiring what had resulted from the equalisation 1131 of the duties on French wines and fruits? No benefit to the revenue—no benefit to the commerce of the country. On the contrary, in a short period after that, the French Government imposed heavy duties on our cotton twist, amounting almost to a prohibition, the only consequence of our measure in favour of French wines and fruits being, that we lost the trade with Portugal in a great degree; for the latter State, on finding French wines put on a level with Portuguese, raised the duties on our goods from 5 or 15 per cent. to 15 or 30 per cent. He deeply regretted that on this occasion the Government had departed from the usual established custom that the Budget should be produced before any great financial measures were agreed to. They were at present really discussing matters in the dark. No one knew the probable amount of the surplus of revenue (if any) over expenditure; and it was impossible that the House, until put in possession of the ordinary information on that subject, should be in a position duly to adjust the claims of different duties for remission or repeal. Much had been said recently as to the comforts and the welfare of the working classes; which he should conceive would be more promoted by a reduction of the duty on soap, than by the proposed reduction on brandies, &c. Under these circumstances, and in the absence of explanation or information, he should move the omission of these words from the Schedule.
§ MR. EWART
expressed himself in favour of any measure tending to extend the commerce of this country with France. He was in favour of a much greater reduction in the duty on wine than any that had as yet taken place; for, from the time of Mr. Pitt's first experiment, by which one half of the duty was struck off, to the present day, every year's experience tended to show how beneficial were the results which followed from the relaxation of the protective system. He was sure that the hon. Gentlemen who professed themselves to be friends of protection, were friends also of peace; and he considered that it was not the least important of the many blessings which he was sure would flow from the Ministerial project for the alteration of our commercial policy, that it was likely to have the effect of increasing the means of international commerce between this country and France and America, and of creating in these and all other countries with which we were connected, a feeling of attachment 1132 to peace, and an anxiety that all nations should be bound together in the bonds of friendship and concord.
The MARQUESS of GRANBY
said, that there was nothing which gave so much encouragement to crime as drink. A work upon the subject, which he held in his hand, stated that in Scotland at least four-fifths of the crime committed in that country had originated in the effects of drink. He really thought the Government should not reduce still further the duties on foreign spirits. He felt at a loss to know upon what arguments this measure would be carried. He thought it was clear that if the duties were reduced from 22s. to 15s. there would be a considerable increase in the consumption of spirits in this country, and, therefore, they ought to be very careful how they reduced the duty upon foreign spirits. He should oppose the measure, because he thought it was a question of the great principle of protection to British industry, and it might be taken even in a higher and more exalted sense, for it not only affected protection to British industry, but also protection to the sobriety of the lower orders. He sincerely hoped that on this occasion humanity and reason would triumph over a most pernicious and most unnatural coalition.
said, that, looking at the question as one of revenue, experience had shown that they could not double the amount paid into the Exchequer by doubling the amount of duty. There were historical authorities to justify a conclusion as to the probable result of a diminution of the duty on spirits. Was the hon. Member for Westmoreland (Mr. Alderman Thompson) aware that, by a Return which was presented to Parliament in the last Session, and which had been circulated amongst the Members, it appeared that the ordinary consumption of French brandy in this country at the close of the last century was, notwithstanding the enormous increase of our population and the still greater increase of our wealth, actually more than the quantity which was now upon an average retained for the home consumption? The hon. Gentleman said that the proposed alteration of the duty would not prevent smuggling; but practical authorities had come to quite a different conclusion. The Commissioners who were formerly appointed to consider the state of the revenue with regard to the excise duty upon spirits in Ireland and Scotland, stated in their Report, that in 1811, when 1133 the duty on spirits was 2s. 6d. a gallon, duty was paid in Ireland on 6,500,000 gallons; whereas, in 1822, when the duty was 5s. 6d., less than 3,000,000 gallons were brought to charge; but the Commissioners estimated that at the latter period the annual consumption was not less than 10,000,000 gallons; and, as scarcely 3,000,000 paid duty, it followed that 7,000,000 were irregularly supplied. And the Commissioners predicted that, if the duty were reduced, there would be an increase in the quantity that was charged, and an increase in the revenue. Was this prediction verified? In 1822 the actual quantity brought to charge was 2,900,000 gallons, and the revenue amounted to 800,000l.; whilst in 1825, after the duty was again reduced, the quantity brought to charge was 9,262,000 gallons, and the revenue was 1,107,000l. The returns with respect to Scotland showed just the same results. Where they had subtracted from the duty they had increased the revenue; and he contended that, though this had been done, no harm had ensued to the morals of the population; for they had not thereby increased the quantity consumed, but had put down the greater evils connected with the system of illicit distillation. The quantity of spirits was not augmented, but the profits of those who lived by the evasion of the law were diminished, and the amount of revenue brought into the Exchequer was increased; therefore, neither upon the ground taken by the hon. Member for Westmoreland, that the revenue would be affected, nor that other ground taken by the noble Marquess—namely, that of the public morality, could the present exorbitant rate of duty be maintained. The hon. Member for Westmoreland also argued that we had gained nothing by any former remission or reduction of duties on French produce; but he asked if anything could be more satisfactory than the results shown by the Returns made with reference to the trade between this country and France? He certainly did not say that the trade was what it ought to be between two such great empires; but if the hon. Gentleman would look at the Returns, he would see that there had been an invariable increase year by year.
said, that the maker of British brandy would be contented to go on, even with reduced profits, if so great a burden as the excise duties were not placed on him; but at the present time it 1134 could not be said that British brandy was an article gaining ground in England. The excise laws also prevented this trade from extending further than our own country. If English traders had the opportunity of exporting, they might then very possibly be in a condition to compete with foreigners; and there was no doubt they would certainly try to do so. He most sincerely wished that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had made an attack, with the same good will, upon the excise laws, which were most oppressive to the English manufacturer, as he had on the protective duties. He should certainly divide against the measure. The House divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 35: Majority 29.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Langston, J. H.|
|Aldam, W.||M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Baine, W.||Masterman, J.|
|Barclay, D.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Botfield, B.||Neville, R.|
|Bright, J.||O'Brien, J.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Osborne, R. B.|
|Butler, hon. Col.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Cardwell, E.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Peel, J.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Plumbridge, Capt.|
|Cochrane, A.||Price, Sir R.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Somers, J. P.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Thornely, T.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Duncan, G.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Escott, B.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Ewart, W.||Tufnell, H.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Turner, E.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Warburton, H.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Wawn. J. T.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||White, S.|
|Hope, G. W.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Howard, P. H.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Young, J.|
|Kirk, P.||Cripps, T.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Finch, G.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Floyer, J.|
|Astell, W.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Benett, J.||Fuller, A. K.|
|Bennet, P.||Goring, C.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Beresford, Major||Hinde, J. H.|
|Buck, L. W.||Knight, F. W.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Colville, C. R.||Lawson, A.|
|Compton, H. C.||Lennox, Lord G. H. G.|
|Disraeli, B.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|March, Earl of||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Miles, W.||Tyrrell, Sir J. T.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Plumptre, J. P.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Sheppard, T.||Thompson, Ald.|
§ Upon the article Clover,
§ MR. ALLIX
would request the indulgence of the House whilst he stated some reasons for requesting the Vice-President of the Board of Trade not to take off the duty of 10s. upon clover. He stood up in behalf of the poor labourers, who were greatly interested in the maintenance of the duty. During a great part of the year he attended a Poor Law meeting once a week, and there it was considered that the growth of clover, and the employment which it afforded, was most essential to the welfare of the labourers of the district; for in the winter months, when other kinds of employment were scarce, it afforded them occupation in preparing the clover for market. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department would take this into consideration, and allow the 10s. duty which they now possessed to remain. It should not be forgotten, that it was the 50l. tenantry that placed the Government where they were; although it would seem by the measures of Government that they wished to sweep them off the face of the earth. Did they really wish to ruin the gentry of England—to upset the aristocracy, and to shake the monarchy to its very foundation—and did the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who was bound by the act of the Government, wish for such a consummation. He felt strongly on this subject, and could not help expressing his opinion. He was aware the right hon. Baronet was omnipotent for good or for evil; he had a strong body of new supporters; he would not, therefore, divide the House. He only asked them to pause a little before they injured the poor helpless labourer, who was defenceless against their legislation. He did not often trouble the House: nothing but an imperative sense of duty actuated him when he did so. He had been speaking to some Scotch gentlemen on the subject, and they were as averse as he was to diminishing the means of employing the poor, and lessening the wages of their labour.
§ SIR R. PEEL
I assure my hon. Friend, and I have known him for a very long period, that I give him entire credit for sincerity 1136 of feeling: there is not a more independent, honourable man in the House—but at the same time, I must say, that I think my hon. Friend carries his attachment to the duty on clover exceedingly far, when he makes a duty of 10s. per cwt. on clover the foundation of maintaining the 50l. tenantry of England, when he rests upon it the maintenance of the privileges of the aristocracy, and makes even the dignity and existence of the monarchy depend upon this protective duty of 10s. per cwt. This is carrying the doctrine of protection further than I have yet heard it carried. But how does this duty of 10s. really help the agriculturists? It only applies to a very small district of England comparatively speaking, in which clover seed is ripened, and then to the producer only, whilst the consumers every where would be benefited by the remission of duty. I will venture to say, that even amongst the 50l. tenantry, about which my hon. Friend has spoken, that for the one that would be injured by the proposed change of duty, a hundred would be benefited. I believe there is no one class will be more benefited by the diminution of this duty, than those very 50l. tenantry. I have received urgent remonstrances from England and Scotland against the maintenance of the duty. Cloverseed is not grown where it is most needed, and where science is most applied and most essential to the promotion of agriculture.
§ The article was agreed to.
§ On the fifth, relating to Oxen, Bulls Asses, Swine, &c.,
§ MR. W. MILES
was very sorry the Government thought fit to reduce the duty on oxen, sheep, and other animals. He thought the duty had worked exceedingly well, and in the very few observations he would address to the House, he would bring forward first of all the supply which had come from foreign countries since the duty had been imposed, and since the prohibition ended, in order to show that the importation had increased since 1842, and that it now amounted to a large quantity. At the same time, he would show that the present duty had not in any way had the effect of preventing animals being brought 1137 from abroad into our markets, so that they could not remove the duty on the plea that it was prohibitory, nor because it was unproductive to the revenue; for though such importation in the first year was but small, and though the revenue derived was consequently trifling, yet they must have observed that both were yearly increasing, and this year they were something considerable. It ought not to be forgotten, that when the Tariff of 1842 passed, foreign countries could not have been apprized of the intention of this Government to propose such a measure, and consequently had only a supply of cattle to meet the existing demand. Cattle could not, like corn or manufactures, be produced for the market in a single year; they were the growth of some years, and the foreigner had doubtless taken his measures to stock our markets. For his part, he saw no reason why the farmer's cattle should not be protected by a duty of 10 per cent. as well as the manufacturers. Those individuals who had been placed in power by the agricultural class seemed to overlook their interests, and to treat them less favourably than they did other classes of the community. The present duty was 1l. on oxen, 15s. on cows, 10s. on calves, 3s. on sheep, 2s. on lambs, 5s. on pigs, 2s. on sucking pigs. Now this was, if not a very considerable amount of duty, at least a very useful protection; but this they were about to abolish. He was not, and had not been, in favour of a prohibitory duty—he would not totally exclude foreign animals. He had brought forward a Resolution that the duty on foreign cattle should be computed by the cwt., and in doing so, had entered into the cost of feeding cattle on the Continent, as compared with that in England. He would not now go into details, but would simply call the attention of the House to Mr. Meek's evidence, which might be relied upon, as he had been appointed for the purpose of making Returns. He would quote from these documents the cost of animals coming from very different foreign parts, the freight, duty, and other charges. Six cwt. was the estimate of each fat ox imported. Now, taking an ox of six cwt. in this country, and computing it at 6d. per lb., the cost of the beast would be 16l. 16s. During former discussions, he ought to observe, that one country had been put out of sight altogether—he meant Spain; they thought nothing would come thence, the voyage was so distant; but as he then said, so it had turned 1138 out, that they had, and would have, a large supply from that country. It had been stated, that there was a falling-off generally in the supply of cattle from the foreign markets; but was it not plain that foreigners were only waiting for the removal of this duty of 1l., so that their profits might be larger? Mr. Meek had mentioned seven ports, and in the following table stated the price at which the cattle brought from them could be sold here, including freight and other charges.
Taking the average of the price from these seven ports, they would find that, duty free, cattle of six cwt. could be sold in this country at 13l. 3s. 6d. a head. He had already stated that the same animal was sold in the home market for 16l. 16s., and therefore it would make a difference of 3l. 12s. 6d. to the farmer. The amount of cattle imported from foreign countries for the year ending the 5th of January, 1844, was as follows:—
PORTS. PRICE. DUTY. £ s. d. £ s. d. Kiel 11 9 6 1 0 0 Lubeck 15 2 6 1 0 0 Rostock 15 17 6 1 0 0 Dantzic 13 14 6 1 0 0 Elsinore 12 2 6 1 0 0 Ostend 15 5 0 1 0 0 Hamburgh 15 13 0 1 0 0
Then commenced the increase of importation, which, as in the case of Ireland, had been steady and continuous. In the year ending January 5, 1845, they would find the numbers imported to be as follows:—
Oxen and bulls 1,114 Cows 368 Calves 39 Sheep 210 Lambs 7 Swine and hogs 361 2,099
And for the year ending January 5, 1846, the numbers were—
Oxen and bulls 3,710 Cows 1,155 Calves 55 Sheep 2,801 Lambs 16 Swine and hogs 27 7,764
1139 The increase of the year ending 5th of January 1846, as compared with that ending 5th of January 1844, would be found to be:—
Oxen and bulls 9,782 Cows 6,502 Calves 586 Sheep 15,846 Lambs 112 Swine and hogs 1,591 34,426
He held in his hand an extract from a letter from a mercantile firm in New York, the house of Messrs. Lawrie and Co., which he would read to the House. It was dated January 30, 1846, and ran thus:—
On Oxen between 8 and 9 to 1 Cows between 17 and 18 — Calves 15 — Sheep 75 — Lambs 16 — Swine and hogs between 4 and 5 to 1Superior flour suitable for the English market 5½ dols. to 5 dols. 62½ per barrel. Freight to Liverpool 2s., to London 4s. Large quantities of the best beef are now being packed in this country in tierces, cut in the proper sized pieces for the English market. This export is greatly on the increase. The farmers are finding out the mode of making such cheese as suits the English market, and the shipments will be very large this year. Notwithstanding all the noise which they make at Washington respecting Oregon, they have not the slightest intention of going to war about it.It was evident that an increase in cattle might be expected from America—they were fast adapting themselves to supply the wants of the European markets. [Mr. BSCOTT: Hear.] The hon. Member might cheer and he would say there might be some reason for the cheer, if Ireland and Scotland were unable with the English farmer to supply their markets; but surely, if they would not consider the case of the English agriculturists, they ought to take into account the people of Scotland and of Ireland, in which agriculture was the only thing that flourished, and upon which the great bulk of the publication depended for support. The number of animals imported from Ireland, in the quarter ending January 5, 1846, was as follows:—
He had no doubt but some Gentlemen from Scotland would address the House on this matter, and he (Mr. Miles) would not anticipate their remarks. The Scotch cattle, it should be observed, from the length of the journey, were much depreciated in value when they reached the English market. On the whole, he could see no reason why the duty should not remain upon cattle, at least as long as it would remain upon corn; nor could he perceive 1140 why they wished to remove the protective duty from raw home produce, and expose it to the competition of the world, whilst they allowed a protective duty to remain upon manufactures in which it was admitted we excelled. He did not intend to take more than one division on this matter, and would therefore move, that oxen, cows, calves, sheep, lambs, swine and hogs, bacon, beef, fresh or slightly salted, beef salted not being corned beef, meat salted or fresh and otherwise described, pork fresh and pork salted (not hams), be omitted from the Resolution.
Oxen, bulls, and cows 32,883 Calves 583 Sheep and lambs 32,576 Swine 104,141 170,183
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
seconded the Amendment. The right hon. Baronet seemed determined to pursue the same headlong course, reckless of consequences, and to disregard entirely the interests of those who placed him on the bench where he then sat. The farmers were, after all, not so much disappointed as disgusted at the conduct of the right hon. Baronet, for they did not expect consistency from him. The farmers, in common with most people, wished that the reign of the right hon. Baronet might be very short, and felt some consolation that it must, at all events, be terminated at the next general election. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) asked him to accept the Chiltern Hundreds; but he disdained being the nominee of Government, and told him so. Since then now he had the happiness to inform the right hon. Baronet he had received a letter from his constituents, in which they expressed regret that he had not accepted the Chiltern Hundreds. [Laughter.] Let not hon. Gentleman laugh till they had heard the whole of the sentence—"so that they might have an opportunity of electing him free of expense." He should, he knew, get a reception very different from that which the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Escott) might expect, because he had not ratted to the Treasury benches: they might as well attempt to take blood out of a milestone as to obtain concessions from the right hon. Baronet. He hoped that the period was not far distant when Englishmen would have an opportunity of showing what they thought of the conduct of Government in this matter. There seemed to be some probability of war, and if so, he should like to know how their navy was to be victualled. Though they might be vanquished in point of numerical strength, he thought they had the best of the argument. At all events he had felt it his duty to come down every night, and, 1141 if necessary, to record his vote against the destructive measures of the Government. The right hon. Baronet would eventually find, as he had already told him, that he was sitting between two stools, between which himself and his Administration must soon fall to the ground.
§ MR. PHILIP HOWARD
wished to suggest to his right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, whether it would not be advisable to impose a small registration duty on the importation of foreign cattle; not for any purpose of revenue, farther than paying the amount of the Custom-house charges, but as a means of having a correct account of the number imported. He was himself favourable to the free importation of cattle from abroad; because, as they were generally brought over in a lean condition, the English farmer would have a part of the profits arising from fattening them fit for the London market.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Somersetshire with all the attention which was due to the station filled by the hon. Gentleman, and to the great attention which he had paid to this subject, he must confess he felt surprised that the hon. Gentleman had not admitted that some of the statements which he had made were calculated to diminish the alarm which he alleged existed as the consequence of the withdrawal of the import duty, not only on foreign cattle, but also on other articles of agricultural produce. The hon. Member had stated this remarkable fact in the course of his speech, that in a single quarter of a year there had been no less than 171,000 animals, including oxen, bulls, cows, and sheep, imported from Ireland into this country. In that short period there had been no less than 171,000 animals entering into competition with the graziers of this country from Ireland; while within the last three years there had not been brought in, under the reduced duty, from foreign countries, more than 140,000 oxen. But surely, if the great importation on one side, as stated by the hon. Gentleman, did not affect the price of meat in the English market, the comparatively trifling importation from foreign countries could not have that effect. He held in his hand a comparison of the Government contracts for fresh and salt meat in the home market from the year 1836 to 1845, and notwithstanding this enormous importation from Ireland, and the importation from foreign countries during the last 1142 three years, what were the results which it showed? Why, that in 1843 the price of fresh beef per cwt. was 1l. 18s. 4d., while in 1845 the price was 2l. 2s. 6d. In salt beef the contract price per tierce of 304 lbs. was 3l. 18s. 5d. in 1843; and he was very sorry to say, no less than 6l. 8s. 8d. in 1845. Again, in the article of salt pork, in the face of the Irish import, and of all the importation which three years ago was threatened to come from the provinces of the Mississippi, when a calculation was entered into to show that 100 sows would produce, in the course of a number of years, no less than 232,000,000 of pigs; which was one of the demonstrations of the hon. Gentleman on that occasion: in opposing the change in the Tariff in 1842, it was proved, greatly to the alarm of every holder of a pig in this country, that in the course of five or ten years 100 sows would produce the enormous number of 232,000,000 of pigs; which were—to use the phrase of the hon. Gentleman—to inundate the markets of this country. Now, in place of the Irish import, and the American import of pork, reducing the price in the English market, the fact was, that the contract price of salt pork per tierce of 320 lbs., which in 1843 was 3l. 15s. 10d., had advanced in the present year to 6l. 12s. 11d. Now, when the hon. Gentleman was stating that fact of the vast importation of Irish cattle in a quarter of a year, did he not, he would ask him, question thus: if in Ireland, where the soil was much more easily cultivated; where wages were much lower than in this country—for in Ireland he believed the wages of the agricultural labourer were certainly not more than 8d. a day in the best part of the year; in addition to which they should also bear in mind that there was no property tax in Ireland, that there was no land tax in Ireland—that if with all these advantages in Ireland the English grazier was notwithstanding able to compete with Irish cattle, had he any real danger to dread from a similar free importation from foreign countries? If the agricultural interests were able to compete—successfully to compete—with the imports from Ireland, a country having a soil more fertile and more easily cultivated, and where wages were lower and where taxes were less than in this country, and where these imports were so great as to amount to 171,000 animals in a single quarter of a year; if, under these circumstances, they were able not only to compete successfully with Ireland, 1143 but to obtain the enormous increase of price which he had mentioned; then how, he would ask the hon. Gentleman, did he draw the conclusion that a free importation of cattle from Holland was to prove so dangerous? It was quite beside the question to assert that the encouragement of agriculture in Ireland ought not to be lost sight of. Though it might be an important matter to encourage the agriculture of that country, that could have no more to do with the argument of the hon. Gentleman, that the importation of foreign cattle would prove ruinous to the English farmers, than had the question of the importation of Dutch cattle. It was no encouragement or consolation to the farmers of the country to say, "You are ruined; but then the ruin has been effected not by a foreigner, but by a fellow subject—by the Irish farmer." But the fact is, you are not ruined by him. Notwithstanding his better soil and his cheaper labour, and his diminished taxation, you are still enabled to compete successfully with him; and why should you not also be able to compete with the Belgian farmer? It had been calculated that there were 1,600,000 oxen required for the consumption of this country. No less than 200,000 were necessary for the consumption of London alone; and how small a proportion of this number was imported from foreign countries? But what was the fact with regard to the effect of this importation on the price of meat? After reducing the duty on foreign cattle to what was thought before to be so low an amount, was not the price of beef still enormously high in this market, and had not every butcher been obliged latterly even to raise his prices still higher? When the hon. Gentleman, therefore, said that Her Majesty's Government were sacrificing the agricultural interests—that they were acting treacherously towards those who had sent them there—did he produce any proof that such was the fact? On the contrary, had not he shown that the price of cattle, under the last alteration in the Tariff, had increased, and was still increasing; and did it never occur to them, that with improved comforts, with higher wages, or at least with wages which would give an increased command over the necessaries of life, there would be a still greater consumption of meat among the population of this country, and that an increased price would arise from an increased demand? Was it not possible that when such was the result during the last three years—there having 1144 been a continuance of manufacturing prosperity, and a small quantity of meat having, for the first time during some years, entered into the consumption of a portion of the labouring population of this country—that a continuance and an increase of that prosperity would increase the demand; and, as a necessary consequence, increase the price for meat, when it would be no longer necessary that the working classes should have their food limited to potatoes or bread? The effect of the change in the Tariff, in his opinion, was, that while they increased the comforts of the manufacturer and the labourer, they had not diminished prices for agricultural produce. But it was said, what good had they done by diminishing these import duties? One good effect was, that they had at least put a check on extravagant prices. The hon. Gentleman had stated that the supply of sheep in Smithfield market had fallen off 16,000, and that but for the importation of foreign cattle, the prices now would be much higher than they actually were; but, in his opinion, if the price of meat were now 10d. per lb., instead of 7d. or 8d., the change would not be for the benefit of the agricultural classes. An important consideration, not alluded to by the hon. Gentleman, was, that the free admission of foreign barley would enable the English farmer to compete on still more favourable terms than heretofore with the foreign feeder. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. P. Howard) had suggested that a small duty should be imposed on foreign cattle imported, in order that the actual number brought into this country might be known; but he could tell the hon. Member that, as no smuggling would exist, the precise number imported would be known. He could give the hon. Gentleman and the House every possible assurance that the fullest and most satisfactory information would be secured; and that the precise number of oxen, of sheep, and other animals, would be ascertained by the arrangements contemplated by Her Majesty's Government with perfect regularity and certainty, and without the imposition of any duty. Under all the circumstances, considering the tendency which he thought—if they looked to the state of the market for several years past—they would find to a gradual increase in the price of meat, and considering the advantages which the agriculturists would have in the increased facilities for fattening cattle, he felt bound to adhere to the proposition originally laid down by Her Majesty's Government, 1145 of admitting foreign cattle duty free.
§ MR. FINCH
was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would take the line he had taken, and produce the high price of meat as a proof that the English agriculturist had nothing to fear. But the existence of high prices was the worst reason for taking off the duties that it was possible to imagine; because, when the prices were high the duties would go into the pocket of the foreign importer. With respect to the general question, when the right hon. Baronet introduced his measure in 1842, he stated as one reason for allaying the fears of the English agriculturists, that their breed of cattle was so superior that they had nothing to apprehend. But that reason was subsiding every year. Two years ago the Dutch and Belgians had purchased some of the finest animals in the English market; their breeds were improving every year, and in a year or two they would be able to compete with the finest of our breeds. With respect to the increase of prices, this was a mere temporary evil. The British farmer had suffered enormously from the murrain in his cattle, and if ever there was a time when he required high prices to remunerate him for his loss, it was the present. He knew one farmer, a neighbour of his, who had lost 300l. in the course of three months by the murrain in his cattle, and others had lost in proportion. Then they were told that the increase in the price of meat was a reason for the importation of foreign meat. Now, he believed the farmer would have no objection to the operation of the sliding-scale, in the case of meat; but when the right hon. Baronet gave as a reason for taking off the duty that the prices were high, he wished to ask whether, when the prices were low, he would put the duty on again. Then the right hon. Baronet said, we could compote with the Irish beasts—why not with the foreigner? Now, he would tell the right hon. Baronet that the introduction of Irish cattle was of the most essential service to the English graziers, for they were introduced into the midland counties to be fattened, and then sent to the London market. But the Dutch or the Belgian cattle would be sent over fattened ready for the market. He despaired, however, of making any impression on the right hon. Baronet; but he would address himself to the free traders opposite. He knew they were anxious to abolish the Excise, and he trusted they 1146 had no wish unnecessarily to injure the English farmer. Now, he had lately had a conversation with an intelligent farmer, who told him—and he had made the same statement before a Committee of the other House—that, at the present moment, the excise duty imposed a tax of 3l. 10s. a head upon their cattle. This was caused by the operation of the malt tax. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer laughed at this statement, which only showed how little he knew of practical agriculture. He should be sorry to make any statement in that House which he was not able to prove in detail, and therefore he would state that there was an inferior sort of barley which could be sold for 24s. per quarter. When that barley was malted and paid the duty, it cost 12l.; without the duty it would be 6l. 10s. The same quantity of oil-cake would cost 10l., and the difference between these two prices was 3l. 10s., which constituted a tax upon the English feeder to that extent. At the present time, indeed, he might reckon the tax at the whole extent of the price of the oil-cake, or 10l.; for, in consequence of last year's barley crop being a good one, the inferior barley was altogether unsaleable; but at all times the tax would amount to 3l. 10s. If Her Majesty's Ministers would remit the malt tax, or make such arrangements as would enable the British farmer to feed his cattle with malt free of duty, he should not oppose the present proposition in the Tariff; and he addressed himself on this subject to hon. Gentleman opposite, because he knew that they were in favour of fair play, and because they knew that in order to carry out free-trade principles they must abolish the Excise.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, his hon. Friend had charged him with showing his ignorance of practical agriculture. Now, he must say, that he did not profess to have much practical knowledge of that art; but it would be in the recollection of the House, that last Session the hon. Member for Northamptonshire had brought in a Bill to allow farmers to use malt for fattening their cattle; and at that time it was stated that great doubts were entertained whether malt was better for cattle than raw barley; and great authorities were produced to show that raw barley would fatten cattle sooner, and cause them to yield more milk than feeding them on malt would do. At that time he entered into an engagement 1147 with his hon. Friend that the experiment should be fairly tried; and, accordingly, since that time some cattle and cows had been shut up and fed—the one set exclusively on malt, the other on raw barley; and the result had proved that those animals which were fed on raw barley yielded more milk and arrived at maturity in a shorter time than those animals which were fed on malt. He had the proceeds of the experiment here in his hand; they had been moved for by the other House of Parliament, they had been printed, and they would, in a short time, be open to the inspection of Members, who would thus see that instead of the agriculturists being injured to the extent of 3l. 10s. a head by the operation of the malt tax, it now turned out that if they had been compelled to feed cattle on malt, even without the duty, it would have been doing an injury to the agriculturists. These Papers would, as he had said, be in the hands of Members in a short time; and though he was ignorant of agriculture, and the hon. Member was very profoundly versed in agriculture, yet these experiments would be laid before the House, and the House would see the results, with all the details of what was eaten by the brown cow and what by the white cow. The experiments were conducted in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, under the superintendence of a gentleman equally eminent in agriculture and in chemistry, and he had no doubt they would prove satisfactory to the House. His hon. Friend had also complained of the influx of cattle from Holland. Now, of all the countries in the world, he should say, if taxation was to be taken as one of the elements of competition, Holland was the least able to compete with our farmers; for, if there was one country in the world taxed more than another, Holland was that country. He apprehended his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire was aware of this; for, though he stated that cattle would be brought from Holland, yet he omitted telling the House what was the price of those cattle brought from any part in Holland. So far from sharing in the fears of the hon. Member, that when prices were low there would be an influx of cattle into this country, he believed that when prices were low the importation of cattle would cease to be profitable, and the English agriculturist would retain all the advantages of the home market without having the odium of a monopoly.
SIR J. TYRRELL
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would wish to be believed that he was a practical farmer—[The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: No!]—or, at any rate, he would wish them to be of the opinion that he had given the House a practical statement, as to what was not good for the fattening of cattle. His hon. Friends had not at their command so many learned professors as the right hon. Baronet had; but if the opinions of those learned professors on the subject of fattening cattle with malt, had no greater weight with the country than the report of another learned Commission, on the potato disease in Ireland, then the statement of the right hon. Gentleman would require greater confirmation than he had yet offered to the House. He believed the real facts of the case were, that when malt was mixed with other grain, it made the cattle thirsty, and thus made them what was called "do better," or fatten better, than when fed on raw barley. But he chiefly rose to answer an observation of the right hon. Baronet, who had been pleased to triumph over the hon. Member for Somerset, because his predictions as to the mass of pork which would be brought from America had not been fulfilled. Now he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet if he was not answerable for the falling-off in the supply of British cattle, by the introduction, by means of his Tariff, of diseased foreign cattle? He knew he might not have any great character for agricultural knowledge in this House; but he would confidently repeat his statement, that the introduction of foreign cattle which had previously been prohibited, did bring disease into this country, particularly that which was known by the name of the lungs disease, and which had been most fatal in its ravages on cattle. He must, therefore, state to the right hon. Baronet, that the panic caused by his Tariff prevented growers from breeding cattle; that the introduction of disease had cut off many of those which were bred; and that these causes had combined to bring about the increased price of food. There was another cause which the right hon. Baronet would admit had caused an increase in the consumption of meat in this country—he meant the making of railways. Now, he did not believe that the right hon. Baronet would take credit to himself for that prosperity, and yet it had exercised much influence upon the consumption and the price of food.
said, the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Tyrrell) was innocent of having produced the panic of which he complained when the last Tariff was passed; for if he remembered rightly the hon. Baronet had addressed his constituents on the occasion, giving them the benefit of his practical knowledge on the subject, and which was certainly calculated to allay their fears, for he assured them that he knew that foreign sheep were of that description that any body could read the newspapers clearly through them, and that more than half the pork would be choked on the voyage. Now as they had not much benefit as yet from the Tariff, he was not prepared to say that the hon. Baronet's information was not correct. If such, however, was the case, why should the hon. Baronet be so much alarmed now; and if the panic was such an evil, why should the hon. Baronet endeavour to produce it; and if it did exist, he asked who produced it? Why, he did not hesitate to say it was the hon. Gentlemen opposite; it was just such speeches as they had heard from the hon. Member for Somerset and the hon. Baronet that produced a panic. This was a matter worthy of notice; for if it was impossible to draw their attention to the great interest the people had in the abundance of the necessaries of life, and that nothing could induce them to withdraw their opposition on that ground—let them reflect upon the injury they were inflicting on the very interest that they represented. What was the effect of predicting calamity to follow from this measure? Why, it depreciated the price of the articles in question, and at this moment there was not the least doubt but that the price was kept down by the delay occasioned by the Motions and speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might cry "Oh!" but the fact was as he represented it, and on the authority of persons in the trade, that a serious loss was sustained by them owing to this measure being suspended. Hon. Gentlemen would have the opportunity of knowing the fact soon; and it would be seen whether he or they were right. They knew perfectly well that the measure would pass, and it would be seen then whether the price of foreign wheat, would not rise higher than at this moment; and he put it to the hon. Member for Somerset, who treated every appeal on the score of general interest with indifference, to look at the enormous injury he was inflicting upon the farmers and the dealers whose 1150 interests he purposed to represent. He was bound to say that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Somerset put the interest of the consumer entirely out of consideration; for he treated the measure as one of gratuitous mischief wantonly inflicted upon the producer, and assumed that there were no interests, no wants to be consulted or satisfied by its passing. Throughout the hon. Member's speech, and throughout the speech of the hon. Member for Essex, not one syllable had been said as to whether the poor had access to meat now, or whether the reduction of duty might not give it to them, and that in the face of the complaint throughout the agricultural districts, that the poor hardly ever touch meat from one year's end to the other. He did not mean that they had no bacon, but they paid a high price for it; and that was especially enumerated by the hon. Member for Somerset as one of the articles that in future would be too cheap; and this was the year, too, in which they had heard a labourer complaining that for forty years he had never but once touched a morsel of meat owing to its price. Why, it was notorious that the agricultural labourers could not afford meat for their families; and if it were not, the rate of their wages would show that it was impossible; and yet here hon. Gentlemen and hon. Baronets were endeavouring to make meat dear and scarce. He really knew nothing more astounding than to sit there in what was called a Christian assembly — an assembly of Gentlemen, not apt to underrate their own benevolence, and whose kind care for the poor nobody was allowed to question; and to hear them one after the other depicting the horrors of plenty, while they endeavoured to raise the price of subsistence and keep food from the poor. Who could have supposed, after all the display of feeling last night about milliners and dressmakers, and the night before about poor framework knitters, who were said to be starving, that night the same Gentlemen would be using the same exertions to deprive them of wholesome food; and as their wages were low, to make their sufferings more intense. Their condition was actually bad, and had been so for years. It was not the prediction of what it would be after trade was free. To prevent food being cheap, therefore, was a positive evil to them as they were. Really, to hear the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Allix), and the hon. Member for Somerset, one would suppose that the poor depended for 1151 life upon clover, and never desired to eat bacon. The hon. Member for Cambridge was quite pathetic about protecting clover on account of the poor; and the hon. Member for Somerset was horrified at the abundance of bacon that might be poured into this country from America. He believed that the hon. Gentlemen were confounding themselves with the poor when they talked about clover. It was they who were always living in clover; while the poor would be happy to exchange all the clover they had for all the bacon they could get. The hon. Member for Rutlandshire (Mr. Finch) said, he expected to have fair play at the hands of free traders; and he hoped he would give them credit also for common humanity, for that was their reason for advocating a change of system, to enable the poor to escape at least from scarcity of food. The hon. Member for Rutlandshire had turned to this side to have his fears about this measure allayed; but really his own political economy ought to have done that for him without their help. At what time did the hon. Member apprehend danger from removing the duty? Why, when the prices were low here—that was the time, he said, when swarms of cattle would come in, that was when the market was bad; he did not want a duty when the price was high—only when it was lower than in other countries. Why, surely the hon. Gentleman's own sense should show him that unless the price were higher here than in other parts of the world, the cattle would not come here at all. The hon. Gentleman the other night wanted to know what would be the price of his wheat if the Corn Law was repealed: and now he wanted to know what his cattle would fetch. Why, surely it was enough to console him for to-night when he reflected that if the worst happened, it must be higher here than in any other part of the world, for its being so was the inducement to bring it hither. This, however, was particularly the time during which the hon. Member apprehended danger from the change; and why? Why, because, the hon. Gentleman said, the cattle had had the murrain, because it was unusually scarce, because people had less in this country than usual; that was the time, he said, when the consumer should be especially precluded from getting it elsewhere. Really, he wished the hon. Gentleman would reflect upon the chance he would have of satisfying the consuming public of the justice of such a reason; 1152 and having with his friends, eased their conscience by raising their voice against a plentiful supply, he did hope, for the credit of the House, that they would not press this singular Motion to a division.
§ SIR J. TROLLOPE
said, that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had referred to a prediction made by the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. Miles), which had not been verified; but the hon. Baronet himself had made predictions and promises which should be placed within the memory of the House. He recollected the right hon. Baronet saying most distinctly, that the people of the country would be enabled to save the whole amount of the Income Tax out of the reductions caused by the Tariff. Now, if hon. Members were allowed to rise on the other side of the House and state that the protectionist Members were answerable for the appearance of the panic, the right hon. Baronet should also take his share of the falsifications of the predictions he had made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had alluded to an experiment which had been made with reference to the feeding of cattle on malt. How and where the experiment had been conducted he was not aware. It could not have been made by the agriculturists themselves, for the excisemen stopped the course of all experiments of that nature made by fanners. Though allowed to steep barley, they were not allowed to resort to the drying process, whereby alone could he determine the question of malt feeding. But, looking at the general question, the protectionists might perhaps have looked too gloomily upon the effects they feared would result from the introduction of foreign cattle. They, however, were not to be blamed for this, because they relied on the statements of gentlemen who had gone abroad, and were capable, therefore, of estimating the effects likely to flow from a facility afforded to importation. It was but natural that the protectionists feared the adoption of free trade measures, when it was supposed they would take place all at once. An hon. Member on the other side, the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), instead of addressing himself to the question before the House, had indulged himself with a speech on the Corn Laws. The hon. Member was severe on the Conservatives in that House, because, he said, the protectionists were desirous of limiting the supply of food to the poorer classes of the community. 1153 That, however, was a mis-statement of the real condition of things. The protectionists had no wish to limit the supply of food. What they wanted was an abundant supply; but they were desirous that that supply should come from the soil and the agriculturists of this country. The protectionists also contented that the soil of England could supply abundance. It was the course taken by the Legislature which checked the proper supply. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would find that as much fluctuation would follow the reduction on corn, as had followed the Tariff on cattle. If the fears of producers were excited, the supply would be checked, and prices would ultitimately rise.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton had asked the protectionist side of the House how it came to pass, as they had divided the House in favour of the labouring classes, they could yet unite for keeping up the price of the food of the labouring classes. The hon. Gentleman had made a speech the beginning of which contradicted the end. He had himself said, "Pass this measure, and corn will rise;" and then he followed by saying, "How can you (meaning the agricultural Members of the House) knowing that the agricultural labourers are not capable of purchasing animal food, attempt to keep up the price even of their bread?" The hon. Member for Wolverhampton said, "Pass the Bill for Corn Law repeal and the Tariff, and the prices of agricultural produce will be enhanced." How, then, does the hon. Member hope to cheapen the food of milliners, of whom the House had heard something the previous evening, or any other persons? But that was not the only strange argument alleged during the present debate. In the year 1842 the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had passed the Tariff under which foreign cattle had been imported into the country. The hon. Baronet had then told the House, with reference to Spain—it being believed that that country, by reason of her fertile soil, would be able to export a large number of cattle to England—that the House might rely on his promise when he said not a single hoof would cross the Bay of Biscay. Yes, the right hon. Baronet had stated this; but the fact did not bear out his statement, and a large number of cattle did cross the Bay of Biscay, and did find an entrance into Great Britain. Arguments of equal value were made at 1154 the present period. True, it might have been that cattle, like all other produce, did not enter at once in large numbers, because it occupied some years to perfect arrangements for breeding; but, nevertheless, cattle from foreign countries had made their appearance in Great Britain from other lands in considerable numbers; and the Premier's promise that not a hoof would pass the Bay of Biscay, had not been verified. If cattle were to be imported, why not import them lean, to allow the English grazier to fatten them? Another strange statement made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was this—he said the wages of the agricultural labourer were exceedingly low; but did he propose to increase the wages of those persons by depreciating the productions of their industry? Yet such was the object of those Gentlemen who sat opposite and called for the repeal of the laws on corn, and for the introduction of cattle free of duty. The hon. Member said, the effect of the intended measure would both be to increase and diminish the amount of wages. He should, however, have stated which effect would be produced. Both arguments would not do. At first the hon. Member said one thing, and then he said another; but it would be well to know precisely what he meant. This was necessary if an argument upon facts or assertions was to be followed out. It was, however, impossible to fix the members of the Anti-Corn-Law League to any point. That body had not succeeded in many of their undertakings; but in one object they had been successful, namely, that of converting two Cabinets, but by what means was to him wholly unknown. The members of the Anti-Corn-Law League had said, in effect, that they intended to increase the prosperity of all classes by the depreciation of all classes. Such was really the argument used by them. It was said by political economists that the prosperity of all classes was founded on the prosperity of agriculture. Divided as this country was from others, he could not imagine the theory of free trade could be expected to be carried out without injury to those interests engaged in it. If the theory of Napoleon Bonaparte were realized—supposing that only one Exchequer existed, into which the taxation of every country in Europe was payable, then, perhaps, free trade might be carried into effect without injury, because the whole of Europe would then be but one country. But when the funded debt of England was so enormous as it 1155 was, and the annual taxation 54,000,000l., he could only refer to the statement of Lord Melbourne, when that noble Lord observed that in the present condition of the country the man who meditated a repeal of the Corn Law was but a madman. Now, as respected the immediate question before the House, he could not say that any reason had been shown why the Motion of the hon. Member which stood before the House should be negatived. An argument used had been, that as cattle were brought free into England from Ireland, cattle should also be brought free to this country from all the world. Where, he would ask, were the Irish Members of the House? Should they not be in their places opposing the measure that sought to make Ireland a foreign country, and place its resources on the same foundation as Russian and Polish industry? But he would say no more. He rose for the purpose of asking the hon. Member for Wolverhampton to explain how it was that the argument he had used contradicted itself. Knowing the clearness of apprehension which distinguished that hon. Member, he could not understand how it was that the one and the same measure, at one and the same time, could raise and depress the price of food.
replied, that what he had said was this, that the inflammatory speeches made by Conservative Gentlemen had had the effect of depressing prices, and that they would rise if the present measure were allowed to pass. The country, it must be remembered, was now suffering under the effect of thirty years' Corn Law, and that pressure must be resumed before the full effect of the change could be known or felt.
§ SIR J. WALSH
observed, that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had attributed personal selfishness to the agricultural Members in the House, and indeed to the agriculturists generally. The agricultural Members in that House were, however, the representatives of a great national interest, upon which the prosperity of all other classes was founded, and therefore they contended that no change could be made detrimental to its condition which would not also prove injurious to all other branches of industry. It was both unfair and unjust in the hon. Member for Wolverhampton to say that agriculturists acted only under the greatest selfishness. The agriculturists and the agricultural Members of that House were acting as fairly as other men, and if the protective Members 1156 chose to retort, they might say that Gentlemen asking for the repeal of the Corn Laws only did so to support their own interest, because their own interests were mixed up with the repeal. The agricultural Members might say the Members of the Anti-Corn-Law League were only desirous of filling their own purses. Therefore the protection Members of that House thought the attack made on themselves was an uncalled-for and unjust imputation. He could not agree with the measure, and he was of opinion that it would not tend to the prosperity or the pacification of Ireland. He was fully of opinion that the agitation for the repeal of the Union in that country which had brought the nation to the verge of a civil war, owed its rise to the operation of the Tariff. The Government had this Session been adopting temporary measures for the relief of Ireland, and while they did so, it was strange that they were also attempting to pass measures only aggravating evils they attempted to remove.
said, he represented a constituency quite as large as that of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and whose interests were quite as important as those of the constituency of the hon. Member for Durham, and he thought that their feelings of alarm were not likely to be allayed by the language used by those hon. Members. He (Mr. Yorke) rose, merely for the purpose of saying that the reason for the price of cattle being so low in former years, was the general failure of the peculiar crops on which cattle were fed. The consequence of this failure was, that one-fourth more cattle were thrown on the market, and the prices became so small as to be scarcely anything. Now there were enormous green crops, and the farmers kept their cattle for store instead of sending them in for consumption. With respect to the probable supply, he had no faith in the professions of Government, as he recollected that on a former occasion, 10,000 head of cattle were fixed as the highest number likely to be imported under the Tariff, and he also recollected how that prophecy had been falsified. He should therefore resist this Resolution, as he should everything tending to diminish protection on British agriculture.
§ SIR C. KNIGHTLEY
said, that great ravages had been made among cattle by disease. He had himself lost thirty oxen by disease, and his tenants had lost many. This had caused high price. A project, 1157 however, was on foot, which would tend to make Smithfield one of the worst markets in the kingdom. A company of merchants had hired iron steamers for the purpose of trading between this country and Russia, and when it was recollected the bullocks were so plentiful in that country that they were slaughtered for fat only, if a railroad were opened between Moscow and St. Petersburgh, an immense quantity of beasts would be brought from the interior for exportation to Great Britain. If this followed, breeders in this country would be as much reduced as the country would be injured by the measures of the Government. He should give such measures his strenuous opposition.
§ MR. C. BRUCE
contended, that the breeders of cattle in this country would be injured by the measures of the Government. In 1844, the number of cattle imported was 159; in 1845, the number was 4,920; and in 1846, 16,870 were imported.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
I will not join in the apprehension that any large quantity of cattle will be imported into this country; and a duty of 1l. per head is not more than a duty of 10 per cent. which I do not think prohibitory. But the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton has stated that the poor of this country, as a body, scarcely ever taste meat. Let me, however, remind the hon. Member that the people of England eat more meat than the people of any other country—the average quantity per head being 92 lbs. in this country, whilst it is not more than 50 lbs. in others; and when the hon. Gentleman turns round, and says we wish to starve the people of England—that we wish to deprive them of the means of eating the meat which the people of other nations enjoy, I must say that it is an allegation which has no sort of foundation in fact. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, too, has said that it is we who keep down the price of grain by delaying the passing of these measures. Now, I am aware that it is said by some parties, in order to serve their own purposes, that the more you increase the supplies in proportion to the demand, the higher will be the price of provisions; but that is a doctrine which has never been promulgated by any Gentleman of common understanding until now. The hon. Gentleman says further, that this measure of the Government must pass into a law. But, Sir, I do not know that; and, on the contrary, 1158 so far as I am informed, I believe there is good cause for hoping that whatever may have been the conduct of hon. Gentlemen on this (the Conservative) side of the House, although they may have abandoned their principles and deserted their party, there is yet another House of Parliament which will not so disgrace itself; and I apprehend that, if the other House of Parliament should reject this measure, and there should be an appeal to the country, if I may be allowed to form a judgment from the results of the appeals which have recently been made to the constituencies of Gloucestershire, Dorsetshire, and Northamptonshire—if I may judge from similar results in my own native county, this (the protection) party, who have honestly stood by their pledges, and not broken their faith, who have not participated in the disgrace of breaking the faith of Parliament, of dishonouring the Parliament of this country; I am much mistaken, I say, if this party will not come back to this House greatly strengthened by the support of those constituencies that have been betrayed during the present session.
§ The Committee divided on the Question that Oxen and Bulls stand part of the Resolution:—Ayes 111; Noes 72: Majority 39.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Duncan, G.|
|Aldam, W.||Duncombe, T.|
|Baine, W.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Bannerman, A.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Barclay, D.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Escott, B.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Ewart, W.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Blewett, R. J.||Fleetwood, Sir P. H.|
|Botfield, B.||Forster, M.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Bright, J.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Greene, T.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Buller, C.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Hatton, Capt.|
|Cardwell, E.||Hawes, B.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Chapman, B.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Cochrane, A.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Cockburn, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hope, G. W.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Howard, P. H.|
|Cripps, W.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Kelly, J.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Langston, J. H.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Loch, J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|M'Geachy, F. A.||Somers, J. P.|
|M'Neill, D.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|M'Taggart, Sir J.||Strutt, E.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Marshall, W.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Martin, J.||Thornely, T.|
|Martyn, C. W.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Turner, E.|
|Morison, Gen.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Neville, R.||Villiers, Visct.|
|O'Brien, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Ord, W.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||White, S.|
|Peel, J.||Williams, W.|
|Philips, G. R.||Wilshere, W.|
|Phillpotts, J.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Price, Sir R.||Wyse, T.|
|Protheroe, E.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Russell, Lord J.|
|Scrope, G. P.||TELLERS.|
|Seymour, Lord||Young, J.|
|Smith, B.||Baring, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Hudson, G.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Bell, M.||Lawson, A.|
|Benett, J.||Lefroy, A.|
|Bennet, P.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Beresford, Major||March, Earl of|
|Borthwick, P.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Brooke, Lord||Neeld, J.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Buck, L. W.||Newport, Visct.|
|Cayley, E. S.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Palmer, G.|
|Compton, H. C.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Disraeli, B.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Round, C. G.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Round, J.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Finch, G.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Floyer, J.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Forbes, W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Forman, T. S.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Stanley, E.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Gardner, J. D.||Tower, C.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Turnor, C.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Tyrrell, Sir J. T.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Halsey, T. P.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Henley, J. W.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Hinde, J. H.||TELLERS.|
|Hope, Sir J.||Miles, W.|
|Hope, A.||Trollope, Sir J.|
On the Question—
That 'Hides, or pieces thereof, tawed, curried, Tarnished, japanned, enamelled, Muscovy, or Russia Hides, or pieces thereof, tanned, coloured, shaved, or otherwise dressed, and Hides, or pieces thereof, in any way dressed, not otherwise enumerated,' stand part of the Resolution—
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he was one of those who, in 1842, had supported the-Government in their proposal to reduce the duty on foreign hides, because it was said that the reduction of that duty would benefit the labouring classes, in reference to the price they would have to give for their shoes and boots. But he found that, on the contrary, the price of leather, to the working classes had not decreased in consequence of the measure of 1842, whilst an injury had been done to the agricultural interest. The present proposition related, too, not only to raw hides, but to curried hides also; and this was an additional reason why he should, as he now begged to do, move the omission of the article from the Resolution.
SIR J. TYRRELL
, in seconding the Amendment of the hon. Member, said, that his object in rising had been to state to the House a fact which had come to his knowledge in the course of the last few days, and which had been represented to him by a clergyman of the county he had the honour to represent, namely, the fact of a most respectable tanner in that county having within a very short time turned off no fewer than ten of his workmen; and he contemplated the dismissal of as many more. One fact, it was a common observation, was worth a thousand arguments; and, therefore, he had thought it his duty to name this striking one to the House. These workmen had been—they and their fathers before them—in the employment of this respectable tanner and his predecessors for the last hundred years. Now, he should like to be told by some Member of Her Majesty's Government, what was the process by which these industrious tanners were now to be employed? How were they to use the free-trade phraseology of the day, to be "absorbed?" He presumed that the workhouse would alone be enabled to tell the tale of these poor men's industrious endeavours, vain as they now must be, to support their wives and families. He believed that they had been in the habit of attending the Anti-Corn-Law meetings, and of hearing the statements of the League lecturers, that the advantages of having the cheap loaf would be so great as to cover all other difficulties they might meet with, and that it would be a great advantage to working tanners to have the free importation of foreign hides. He knew that the answer which hon. Gentlemen opposite gave to cases of this kind was, that free trade in corn would cure all the 1161 disadvantages under which the workmen might labour—that the measure of the Government was a great and comprehensive measure; and he doubted not that they would refuse to condescend to tell the House why it was that these poor tanners were to be exposed to this hard reverse; still, he asked, and with some curiosity, on what employment it was that these parties were now to be enabled to bestow their labour and skill, in order to gain an honest livelihood?
§ SIR G. CLERK
said, the case to which the hon. Gentleman had referred afforded a strong illustration of what had been already urged in that House, that while it remained a matter of uncertainty what would be the issue of the Government measure, every trade would be paralysed. The cheapening of leather must necessarily benefit the shoemakers of this country, and enable them to compete successfully with those of France. What was the effect of the reduction of the duty in 1842? Why, the importation of foreign hides in 1843 was 585,000 cwt., which was increased in 1844 to 637,000 cwt.; and last year, 719,000 cwt. If, however, he was told by the hon. Member that the price of boots and shoes had not been reduced by the reduction of the duty, he would have the hon. Member consider what would have been the price of boots and shoes and of every other article made of leather if the admission of foreign hides had been resisted altogether. The fact was, that in ordinary times the power of consumption in this country increased in a more rapid ratio than the means of supplying the demand. It was quite true that the price of leather had not been reduced; and seeing this to be the case, with the reduction already made, was it not the bounden duty of the Government, not only to protect the shoe trade of this country, but also to enable the consumer of these articles to obtain them at a lower price, by allowing leather in a dressed state to come in duty free? Now, he did not entertain any feelings of danger to the tanners in England by the proposed reduction. He asked, with the skill which this country possessed, what was to prevent the tanners from producing leather as cheap and as good as any country in the world? This country possessed peculiar facilities for the manufacture of leather which no other country in the world had. This was another case in which, he believed, not a single representation had been made by persons 1162 connected with the leather trade against the proposed reduction of duty. Last year, when it was proposed to take the duty off tanned leather, the tanners complained that the reduction would place them in a very disadvantageous position, in consequence of the price of provisions. They said, that if protection was reduced upon corn and provisions, they would not then be at all afraid of competing with the leather manufactures of any part of the world. Under those circumstances, he was convinced that the measures now proposed by Her Majesty's Government would meet with the hearty concurrence of those Gentlemen who last year remonstrated against the reduction upon leather. The Gevernment, at any rate, would have the satisfaction of knowing that by the reduction they were enabling the poor man to procure these necessary articles at a more moderate rate than he had hitherto done.
§ The Committee divided on the original Question — Ayes 130; Noes 74: Majority 56.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Escott, B.|
|Aldam, W.||Etwall, R.|
|Baine, W.||Ewart, W.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Feilden, W.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Ferguson, Col.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Fleetwood, Sir P. H.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Forster, M.|
|Botfield, B.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Bright, J.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Brotherton, J.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Buller, C.||Hatton, Capt. V.|
|Busfeild, W.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Cardwell, E.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Chapman, B.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Childers, J. W.||Hindley, C.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Cochrane, A.||Hope, G. W.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Howard, P. H.|
|Collett, J.||James, Sir W. C.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Kelly, Sir F.|
|Dashwood, G. H.||Kelly, J.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Langston, J. H.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Layard, Capt.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Loch, J.|
|Duncan, G.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Duncombe, T.||Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.|
|Dundas, Adm.||M'Carthy, A.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||M'Neill, D.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Marshall, W.||Smith, B.|
|Martin, J.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Martin, C. W.||Somers, J. P.|
|Masterman, J.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Meynell, Capt.||Stuart, H.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Strutt, E.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Morris, D.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Neville, R.||Thornely, T.|
|O'Brien, J.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Ord, W.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Osborne, R.||Turner, E.|
|Paget, Col.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Peel, J.||Warburton, H.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Philips, G. R.||Wood, C.|
|Plumridge, Capt.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Price, Sir R.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Protheroe, E.||Wyse, T.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Russell, Lord J.|
|Russell, Lord E.||TELLERS.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Young, R.|
|Seymour,, Lord||Cripps, W.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acton, Col.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Allix, J. P.||Hudson, G.|
|Arkwright, G.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Astell, W.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Bateson, T.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Benett, J.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Bennett, P.||Lennox, Lord G. H. G.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Beresford, Maj.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Borthwick, P.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Brooke, Lord||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Miles, W.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Neeld, J.|
|Clayton, R. R.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Clifton, J. T.||Newport, Visct.|
|Colvile, C. R.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Compton, H. C.||Palmer, G.|
|Dick, Q.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Disraeli, B.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Finch, G.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Floyer, J.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Forbes, W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Stanley, E.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Gardner, J. D.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Gooch, E. S.||Turnor, C.|
|Goring, C.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Grogan, E.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Halsey, T. P.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Henley, J. W.||TELLERS.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Lawson, A.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Tyrrell, Sir J. T.|
On the Question—
That Linen, viz., Plain Linens and Diaper, whether chequered or striped with Dye Tarn or not, and Manufactures of Linen, or of Linen mixed with Cotton, or with Wool, not particularly enumerated,
or otherwise charged with Duty, not being articles wholly or in part made up,' stand part of the Resolution"—
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he regretted being obliged to rise so soon again, but he could not discharge his duty faithfully if he permitted a Resolution to pass which would have the effect of injuring the interests of his constituents, without recording his opposition against it. In rising to do so, he felt bound to state that he was not actuated by any representations from the master manufacturers, for as far as they were concerned, he believed the growth of home flax rendered them able to compete with foreigners in the manufacture of linen. But while he made this statement, he could not forget the large class of labourers who were employed under the master manufacturers, and who would be injured by any reduction in the price of the manufactured article. He could not disguise his belief that the master manufacturers could successfully compete with the foreigner; but such competition could only be maintained by an immediate reduction in the wages paid to the labourer. He did not make this assertion on a mere supposition, but from facts which had actually occurred a short time since. During the late recess a deputation of poor men waited upon him, who stated that they and their families had been thrown out of work for this reason, that the master manufacturers had promised them an increase of 10 per cent. upon their wages, but that they had subsequently confessed prices were so low they could not make the advance they had been led to hope they would be able to do. The consequence was that those poor men left their employment and had called upon him for a subscription to enable them to continue holding out against their masters. The answer he returned to the deputation was, that though the masters had not been his political friends in the borough, still he could not depart from a principle he had ever maintained, namely, that he would not support any class of men against their employers. He believed he could safely say that what those men had stated to him was strictly correct, viz., that they expected an increase of 10 per cent. upon their wages—that they could not get it, and that they had quitted their employment in consequence, and were then out of work. Instead of aiding those persons by a subscription in order to hold out against their employers, he had found work for them, which was, he considered, a much more salutary 1165 mode of relief. If the master manufacturers could not now pay fair and remunerating prices, how could they do so if a further reduction of 10 per cent. should take place; and if the master manufacturers could not continue their competition, what would become of the handloom weavers? On the present occasion he would not trouble the House with many observations, as he did not intend to divide the Committee upon it, but, at the same time, if he had not remonstrated against the Resolution, he should consider he had not done his duty to his constituents. It was his intention upon the present occasion, and upon all similar occasions, to give his vote in favour of protection to domestic industry; and he hoped it would not be considered disparaging to his character if he defended Knaresborough linen against German, or any other article of native produce against foreign. He should, in common with the Gentlemen who occupied seats round him, at least have the satisfaction of knowing that, however great might be the majority against them, they had supported those measures which they considered were the best for the welfare and prosperity of the country.
said, that although he represented a manufacturing community, comprising not less than 70,000 persons who were engaged in the linen trade, he was prepared to support the proposition brought forward by Her Majesty's Ministers. He was perfectly convinced that he was speaking the sentiments of the whole of the linen manufacturers of Scotland, when he declared that they were anxious that everything in the shape of duty should be taken off, and that nothing in the semblance of protection should be given to their trade. Concurring as he did most cordially in those views, he should have great pleasure in supporting the proposition of the Government now before the House.
§ Question agreed to.
On the 6th Resolution—
That, from and after the 5th day of April 1847, the Duties of Customs now payable upon the Foreign Goods under mentioned shall cease and determine, and that in lieu thereof there shall be charged the following Duties on such Foreign Goods on their importation into the United Kingdom, viz.—
§ MR. MITCHELL
then rose to move his Amendment upon the proposition affecting the Timber Duties. It was—To leave out '1847' in order to insert '1846' instead thereof.1166 The hon. Member said, that the proposed delay in reducing the duties was fraught with disadvantage—that such suspensions were always injurious to all parties, and that the change ought to take place at once. He contended that the Canadian timber interest would not be injured by the reduction of duties—that wood from that Colony would always have the preference over Baltic timber in constructing articles for domestic use, from its superior capabilities for being wrought.
§ The Question was put that 1847 stand part of the Resolution.
§ MR. CARDWELL
stated, that he would address his observations to the last remarks made by the hon. Gentleman when supporting his Motion. The effect of taking the duty off the article of timber would be to give the whole benefit to the consumer in our own country, and not to the producer. To regulate the time when any reduction ought to be made in such an article, would require much judgment and consideration. He (Mr. Cardwell) thought he could prove the remarks of the hon. Gentleman were calculated to tell against him, rather than to support his argument. The hon. Gentleman had stated that if notices had been given early in the winter, large supplies of timber could have been brought into this market from Prussia and Russia, which could not be the case now. The House had been called upon to determine at what period it was to reduce the duty on timber; but he contended that, both by the first and second statement of the hon. Gentleman, the House of Commons was called on to negative the Amendment. The period at which a reduction of duties on timber was to commence, had been a matter of mature consideration with the Government; and it had been agreed that the measure proposed was that most likely to prove beneficial. That measure he hoped the House would pass. There were at all periods large stocks in hand, and it certainly ought to be an object of consideration to avoid, on the one hand, injury to those who had large stocks, and, on the other hand, to see that no loss should accrue by adopting an over indulgent view of the case. If the Amendment were carried, it would be decisive on the question, and practically the duties would cease and determine. He would only submit that, on the showing of the hon. Member, and on other grounds, the House ought to resist the Amendment.
§ SIR J. HANMER
begged to say, that a 1167 long time before any change of this kind was in contemplation, or at least known to the public, he had, in consequence of a conversation which he had with some of his constituents, arrived at quite a contrary conclusion from that of the hon. Member (Mr. Mitchell). He (Sir J. Hanmer) concurred in the views taken by the Government, believing they were based upon a sound principle.
§ The Question agreed to.
§ On the Question that the House do agree with the Committee on the said Resolution,
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
said, that as it might not be possible to finish the debate on timber that night, inasmuch as it might occupy six hours, it would, he thought, be convenient for all parties to adjourn the debate on timber to Friday next.
§ Debate adjourned till Friday.
§ House adjourned at half-past Eleven o'clock.