HC Deb 27 March 1846 vol 85 cc160-271

On the Question, that the Order of the Day be read,


said, he had to present a petition from a number of tenant-farmers on the Netherby estate, in Cumberland. They expressed their conviction that the measures proposed by Government were most important, and stated that they viewed them with the greatest satisfaction; though they could not refrain from adding that total and immediate repeal of the Corn Laws would have met with their more hearty approbation. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck) had recently presented a petition from the same quarter, signed by 3,000 farmers and others, against the removal of the existing protection; but he (Mr. Cobden) was glad to congratulate the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham) on the fact that all his tenants were not of the same way of thinking on this important question.

Order of the Day read,


said: I can assure you, Sir, and the House, that I am very unwilling to prolong this protracted debate, which I believe the country at large sincerely desires to see terminated by some decision of this House, be that decision what it may; but having failed in the course of last evening to obtain that opportunity of addressing you which I was desirous of taking, I do not think it would be proper that this discussion should terminate without adverting to some of the observations and arguments which have been used in the course of this debate. I cannot pass over without notice the petition that has just been presented by the hon. Member for Stockport; and I can assure the House that I was not cognizant either of that petition, or of the petition which was presented on a former occasion by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck), from a portion of my tenantry taking opposite views on the same question. It is needless for me to assure the House that, neither directly nor indirectly, by myself nor by any of my agents, have I interfered, in the slightest or the most remote degree, with the expression of the opinions of my tenantry on this subject. I have left them, on this as on other occasions, to exercise their own free judgments; feeling that they, as tenants, have as deep an interest in this matter as I have as a landlord, and that they, equally with myself, are entitled to pursue the course which is dictated by their honest convictions. Now, Sir, I shall proceed, with the permission of the House, at once to advert to the speech which closed the debate of last night: I allude to the speech of the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) the Member for Lynn. I will first dispose of the peroration of that speech by one remark. It appeared to me that the concluding part of the noble Lord's speech, stripped of all the metaphor which encumbered it, consisted almost entirely of that personal invective which, I must say, has marked the greater portion of the speeches which have been delivered on this side of the House against the measures which Her Majesty's Ministers propose. Now, Sir, having frankly avowed a great change in my own opinion ou this subject, I will not be guilty of the impropriety—I might say, of the impertinence—of commenting with anything like undue severity upon the eager and tenacious maintenance, on the part of Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House, of the opinions which I sincerely and honestly entertained, in common with them, and which, till a very late period, I advocated with equal warmth and zeal. Neither, Sir, shall I say—for I could not say it with truth—that I am not deeply grieved by the loss of confidence and esteem, on the part of several hon. Members with whom I have acted for many years, and on whose support and friendship in trying circumstances I have often relied, and never relied in vain. I must add, however, Sir, that when I made up my mind, under a deep sense of public duty, to act in concert with my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, and, upon considerations of public necessity, as it appeared to me, to present this measure to Parliament, as a servant of the Crown, I anticipated, and I foresaw with pain, all that has taken place on the present occasion with reference to the conduct of hon. Members on this side of the House. I counted the cost of the sacrifice which necessity and sense of duty compelled me to make. I was prepared, and I am prepared on public grounds, regardless of all taunts, regardless of all obloquy which may be heaped upon me, acting from a deep sense of what is due to the public, to set aside all personal considerations, and join in the advocacy of a measure which in my conscience I believe to be necessary for the public good. And although it would be affectation in me to dissemble the fact, that I am deeply moved by many things which have been said by Gentlemen in the course of the debate—by Gentlemen whose good opinion I highly value; yet, steadily, firmly, and fearlessly, I hope to be enabled to discharge that public duty which I have undertaken. I shall unflinchingly persevere in my course; and I am consoled by this single reflection, that, in my belief, the time is not far distant when the country gentlemen of England will be satisfied that Her Majesty's Government has not betrayed their interests, and that their welfare and prosperity will hereafter be reconciled, in fact and in opinion, with the interests of the great body of the community, whose peace, whose contentment, whose more easy means of existence, it is the object of the Bill to promote; and I conscientiously believe that this measure, if it receive the sanction of Parliament, will not fail to accomplish this great end. Now, Sir, allow me to advert to some of the arguments which have been produced by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, in opposition to this measure. I may be wrong, but, certainly it does occur to me that the arguments which the noble Lord adduced against this measure are precisely the arguments—the most cogent, the most convincing, the most unanswerable—which the opponents of the sliding-scale, from time to time, have urged against its continuance. I will begin with the first position taken up by the noble Lord. He is very anxious to obtain some opinion from the Treasury bench; and, failing the statement of any such opinion from that quarter, he speculates himself as to what will be the price of wheat under a free trade in corn: and, with a view of forming an estimate of this price, he went, last night, through this very extraordinary process. He took the years 1835 and 1836, when the price of wheat in England was remarkably low; the price in 1836 being, I think, about 45s. a quarter, and the price in 1835 being 39s. a quarter; and then, in those circumstances, he takes the price of wheat on the Continent in these two years, and estimates from that by simply adding the amount of freight, and charges the price at which it might have been brought here, and sold at a profit. Now, observe, one great argument, against our restrictive Corn Law, is derived fron its influence on the corn trade on the continent of Europe, arising from the unsteadiness of our demand; for, in varying times and varying seasons, the demand is most unequal and uncertain. It is quite clear, from long experience, that the price of wheat on the continent of Europe, mainly depends on the demand for it in the British market. The price in 1835 and 1836 being unusually low in England, the accustomed effect was produced on the Continent. There was a glut in the foreign market owing to the absence of any British demand. Our supply was drawn from our own resources; the price was low; the complete suspension of the importation from abroad, acted upon and reduced the price on the Continent; and, under those circumstances, and from those premises, the noble Lord draws the inference that the price at which wheat may be imported and sold in this country, is somewhere about 30s. per quarter. I leave it to the House to say whether it be a safe inference from these premises, that, communibus annis, 30s. per quarter, would be the price of wheat in England. As it appears to me, the great argument in favour of a steady annual demand of wheat from the continent of Europe, in aid of the deficiency of our own supply, is this—that in the present circumstances of this country, from the large and increasing number of our population, with the difficulty of finding them a supply of food from home-growth annually increasing, the demand for corn from abroad will also annually increase; and the effect will be, not so much to lower the price of corn in this country, as to raise the price on the continent of Europe, thereby equalising the demand here and abroad, and thus effecting this great object, giving security to the people of England, even in years of deficiency, against any sudden or extravagant rise of price, while, at the same time, the price of corn will be raised on the Continent. Our commercial rivals will thus have an extended trade with England, but will exchange their corn for those commodities which we can manufacture more cheaply than themselves. Thus, their competition with our manufactures will be discouraged, by the price of corn being raised in their markets, which is a great object with the manufacturing interest of this country to effect. We shall secure steadiness of price here, and we shall also take precautions for ensuring a moderate price. I repeat, in the absence of any British demand, in the years 1835 and 1836, the price of wheat in those years, so far from forming any groundwork by which to estimate the price that would prevail under a system of free importation, is only a proof of the evil resulting from the uncertainty of our demand in foreign markets, and of the effects of that uncertainty, which indisposed the northern Powers of the continent of Europe to any friendly commercial relations with this country. The noble Lord then proceeded to argue with reference to steadiness of price; and he produced a table which again, I think, remarkably illustrates another great defect which the enemies of the sliding-scale have alleged to be inherent in our present system of Corn Laws. The noble Lord demonstrated, by tables which he produced, more clearly than I have ever yet seen it shown, that the great fluctuations in the price of corn on the Continent, do depend upon the demand from England for that commodity, which under the sliding-scale, is a varying demand. The noble Lord has produced a table of fluctuations, which shows most unequivocally, that exactly in proportion to the proximity of England, and to the demand at uncertain periods, from England, in certain ports of the Continent, for wheat, in exactly that proportion have been the fluctuations in price in those foreign ports. It would appear from this document that the fluctuations have been greatest at Antwerp, Amsterdam, Dantzic, Hamburgh, and Odessa, which are the ports whence we draw most of our required supplies; and, to complete the demonstration, the noble Lord dwelt upon the fact, that at Bordeaux the fluctuation had been the least; when it is quite notorious that with France we have scarcely any corn trade whatever, and consequently the effect of our irregular demand would not be felt there. Next to Bordeaux, it appeared the fluctuation has been least in New York; the reason being that the American corn trade has been exposed to peculiar difficulty with respect to this country; for the distance, added to the uncertainty of the market, has prevented our varying demands from much influencing that market. Now, the inference which I should say was to be drawn from this is, that the fluctuations in the foreign market are in a very great degree attributable to the uncertainty of the British demand. What is the consequence of this state of foreign trade? We convert our natural and best customers, not only into commercial rivals, but into commercial enemies. When they have an abundance of corn, if the harvest has been good here also, their markets are glutted; they have a superabundant supply, and can only obtain a very low price for their grain. The ruin of the grower is then the consequence. When there is a deficient supply abroad, should the supply have been short here also, we tender extravagantly high prices for their corn, and draw from them our supplies, at great inconvenience to them, and at the risk of involving them in want: the starving of the foreign consumer then ensues; and so they come to the conclusion that, upon the whole, considering the uncertainty of our corn trade, that it is one on which they can place no reliance, and are much better without it. They accordingly meet us with hostile tariffs; they impose high duties upon our manufactures; and, hitherto, they have not only relinquished our corn trade in despair, as not only not conducive to their interests, but they have regarded it as inconsistent with their national safety and welfare. Then I repeat that the effect produced by our Corn Law legislation has tended to create fluctuations in the markets of the Continent; and this has appeared to me amongst the strongest reasons why the system should be altered. The noble Lord proceeded to comment upon what he called the evenness of price in England, since the alteration of the law in the year 1842. I have already stated to the House that that very evenness of price, in the present year, appears to me to be delusive. There certainly does appear, from the averages as now taken, an evenness of price. But what is the fact? It is notorious that in no year, I believe not within the memory of the oldest farmer, has there been such an inequality in respect to the quality of the grain itself, as there is in the present year. I believe I am not exaggerating when I say, that the price of the wheat of last year varies from 48s. up to 72s. a quarter. But while this variation in the market prices exists, it is not shown in the averages by which the duty is regulated, the sliding-scale being in this respect not to be relied upon; it leads, in fact, to false conclusions, and operates imperfectly in great national emergencies, and hence an alteration of that scale has become absolutely necessary. Then the noble Lord made another observation incidental to his main argument—that he was sorry to observe that the importations of foreign grain, when they did take place, were generally in foreign ships. Again, 1 say, this is one of the leading objections to the sliding-scale. Owing to the unsteadiness of its operation, and the extreme uncertainty of what may be the amount of duty on the arrival of a cargo of wheat in our ports, our merchants do not choose year by year to engage in so hazardous a traffic. When the time of scarcity comes, however, not a moment is to be lost in despatching ships laden with grain; we cannot wait for our own ships to go and fetch it; and, owing to their employment in other trades, they are not to be had. There is no alternative but to take any ship that offers; and from the foreign ports foreign ships are necessarily sent. The noble Lord has observed, that the freight in British ships is higher than in foreign ships. This is a consequence of the uncertainty of the demand; and thus the importation takes place more usually in foreign than in British ships. And this circumstance to which the noble Lord referred, the encouragement to foreign, and discouragement to British shipping, is one among many reasons why the existing law has been condemned by its opponents. The noble Lord then proceeded to state that the farmers look with dread and consternation on this measure. The petition which has been this evening presented by the hon. Member for Stockport, has clearly shown that all farmers do not so regard it. But the hon. Member for Huntingdonshire (Mr. Fellowes) has said, that if these protective laws were removed, nearly all the land in the Bedford Level would go out of cultivation; and the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. E. T. Yorke) said, as I understood, that the panic in Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely was so great, that drainage had been suspended, and that all agricultural improvement had suddenly been brought to an end. But, Sir, I must observe, that, to the best of my knowledge, the panic which the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire has adverted to, is much more confined within these walls than the hon. Members below the gangway are prepared to admit. All that I have seen and heard on the subject does not lead me to the belief that either landlords or tenants, who are not exposed to the contagious atmosphere of this House, partake of the panic which the hon. Gentlemen describe as being general. We were told, not long ago, by some hon. Gentleman on the opposite side of the House, of a landed proprietor in Somersetshire who had offered to release all his tenants from their existing engagements, should they be under any apprehension as to the effects of the alterations now proposed; and, if I remember right, out of forty-one tenants who had received the offer so to be released, only six had availed themselves of it. Now, I admit that such a refusal on the part of the tenants is no sure criterion that they are satisfied with their present condition; because tenants have at all times a large capital invested in their farms, and they cannot suddenly withdraw from them without an immense sacrifice. Therefore, I admit, at once, that the refusal to accept such an offer, and to surrender their farms, is no conclusive evidence of their satisfaction with existing or contemplated arrangements. But, having made that admission, I must contend, on the other hand, that where we see farmers entering into fresh contracts for large farms, and commencing great improvements, this is conclusive evidence that there is, on the part of the farmers entering into such contracts, no alarm whatever, as to the probable effects of the measure now under consideration. And as it is a matter of very great importance that the statements of the existence of apprehensions should be refuted, and that no such impression as that spoken of should continue on the public mind, the House will, perhaps, permit me to lay before it some facts which have come within the range of my own observation. If I were called on to mention the farmers of Great Britain most distinguished for sagacity, skill, and intelligence, I should assuredly name, without hesitation, the farmers of the East Lothian of Scotland. Now, I have the permission of Lord Belhaven to read to the House a letter, dated February 25th, containing information on this subject. Lord Belhaven writes— I have been on a visit to Lord Wemyss for some days, and have had an opportunity of learning the opinions of the East Lothian and Berwickshire farmers to a considerable extent. Lord Wemyss' property in this county is, with one exception, the largest in it; and his factor, a clever sensible man, tells me that there is not a farm in this county or Berwickshire now to let that there are not more offers, and higher offers too, than he ever saw made for them, and by men of skill and capital. I asked how he accounted for this? His answer was, 'the corn question is now considered as settled; and the prospect held out of getting the land drained by the landlords, instead of having to lay out the money themselves as formerly, has created a general feeling of confidence among all intelligent farmers.' One gentleman of this county stated, that on a property in Berwickshire, on which he was trustee, he had five offers from men of known character as first-rate farmers, the amount of which was 10l. per cent above the present rent. [This is since the introduction of this Bill by my right hon. Friend.] These are facts which are worth all the arguments one hears, coming, as they do, from the greatest corn-growing district in Scotland. While reading, I heard somebody behind me refer to East Gloucester. I understand what was meant, and that it had relation to the much-desired dissolution of Parliament. I answer the insinuation by saying, there was an intention to bring forward a protection candidate for East Lothian; but as soon as Mr. Charteris, the late Member for East Gloucester, declared himself a candidate, Sir G. Warrender withdrew his protection candidate; and, I believe, the return of Mr. Charteris for East Lothian, whenever the opportunity occurs, is beyond a doubt. But let me now advert shortly to the Isle of Ely, where the hon. Member informed us that land would be thrown out of cultivation, and where agricultural improvement was suspended. Again, I must be allowed to read a letter, and again I have full permission to use it for the purpose of this discussion. It runs thus:— I received a letter from the Duke of Bedford, a day or two ago, with the following postscript:—'I received a letter this morning from my Cambridgeshire steward, to inform me that he had just let two farms for me to very intelligent men, father and son, with ample capital, at an increase of 126l. a year on their present rent. The agreement has been made since Peel's measure was introduced.' Such facts as these seem to me to be worth more than hosts of figures and columns of statistics. The Duke of Bedford has given me leave to make use of this communication, which touches only the rental of land. But what has been the effect of the proposed repeal of the Corn Laws upon the value of the fee-simple? I know several land-surveyors of the highest eminence who were formerly much opposed to the alteration of the system, but who now have avowed their opinion in favour of the change, and who state that they are astonished by the effect produced by what is to be regarded as a virtual settlement of the question: they foresee an immediate augmentation of the value of land. I may notice the instance of an estate in Essex. The hon. Member for Totness is cognizant of the case—the land is within thirty miles of the metropolis — there is no residence upon it—and the rental is about 650l. a year. The owner, considering its proximity to London, the increasing traffic by railroads, and other circumstances, was advised to ask thirty-two years' purchase for it; and for three years he has been unable to obtain an offer approaching his price. What is the fact now? Within the last three weeks an offer has been made coming up to his valuation, and there is every reason to believe that a bargain will be struck. It is very easy for hon. Members opposed to the change of the law to speculate on the disadvantageous effect of it; but I say that a single fact like this scatters to the winds all their gloomy conjectures. If it were true that land would be thrown out of cultivation, would any man out of Bedlam now set about enclosing land? Is the House aware of the working of the Enclosure Commission? By Act of Parliament, passed in the last Session, facilities to enclosure were given on easy terms, and at a small expense; and what have been the proceedings of the Commission within the last few months? What applications have been made for new enclosures? In September last, applications were sent in for the enclosure of 2,298 acres; in October the number of acres sought to be enclosed was 4,588. This was, at the time when strict protection was given to the land, and no alteration of the law was contemplated; but in November there was pregnant evidence of a disposition to propose a material alteration in the Corn Laws. Did that check the disposition for enclosure? The House shall see: the applications were in this proportion:—In October, 4,588 acres; in November, 7,147 acres; in December, 7,205 acres; in January, 5,600 acres; in February, 3,595 acres. [Cheering.] Nothing is so imprudent as cheering too soon; and I will show the hon. Members why. In one week of the present month there have been applications for the enclosure of 1,500 acres; and within the last fortnight, from the county of York alone, has been sent in an application for the enclosure of Bowes Moor, a common of inferior land, to no less an extent than 14,000 acres. Does not this show that the hon. Members cheered a little prematurely? Besides, there has been an application from Taunton Dean, Somerset, for the enclosure of 2,500 acres; so that, within the last fortnight, application has been made for the enclosure of no fewer than 16,500 acres. So much for land being thrown out of cultivation. But I must here be permitted to call the attention of the House to a Bill at this moment in progress: it is entitled, "A Bill for enclosing and reclaiming from the Sea certain tracts of land forming part of the great Estuary called the Wash." This is not a question of throwing land out of cultivation—not a question of enclosing waste land—but a question of applying the Dutch principle of scooping land out of the ocean, and, by the application of capital, making that land productive. Whose names are at the back of the Bill? First, I see that of Lord George Bentinck; the second name is that of Viscount Jocelyn; and the third that of Mr. Bagge, the Member for West Norfolk. This Bill, be it remembered, has been brought in in the present year, since the plan of Government with respect to the change in the Corn Laws was well known. [Lord G. BENTINCK: It is a notice by a Member.] But here is the Bill itself; and the capital to be invested is no less than 500,000l., with power to borrow 200,000l. Then, let us look at the list of subscribers. The first name is that of William George Frederick Scott Bentinck, commonly called Lord George Bentinck; and among the directors I find the names of Lord George Bentinck and Sir H. Folkes, mayor of Lynn for the time being, and others. Now, in a former Session, the rights of the Crown interposed an obstacle; and there was a negotiation between the parties on this point, but the issue was not satisfactory; but here, in this Bill, there is an admission of the rights of the Crown, and there is a clause charging the property of the company with the payment of one per cent to the Crown upon all outlays and expenses, which is expressly stated to be intended as compensation for 30,000 or 40,000 acres. Now, the noble Lord will permit me to put a question to him, which he has often put to my right hon. Friend. What is his estimate of the price of wheat under the new measure? I am well aware that the noble Lord is a great authority on the doctrine of chances; he is a perfect De Moivre in his way, and would no doubt make an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer; and I want to know what is his calculation as to the future price of wheat, which induces him to take so prominent a part in this remarkable speculation? It is now, Sir, my painful duty to turn to a more serious part of the great question: the House will anticipate that I allude to the state of Ireland. I heard with great pain, and with surprise, the statement of the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck), that, in his opinion, which every day's experience confirmed, the potato famine in Ireland was a gross delusion; he said, I think, that a more gross delusion had never been palmed upon the country by any Government; and the noble Lord proceeded to argue that, because the average price of potatoes throughout Ireland was only 4d. a stone, there could not be any famine in that country. Now, I must have failed in my endeavour to show the House what is the real state of Ireland, if it can believe that the average price of potatoes is any criterion of the state of destitution in that country. I may observe, in passing, that 4d. a stone in Ireland is nearly double the price of potatoes in ordinary circumstances at this period of the year; and that, when you take the difference between 2d. and 4d. a stone for potatoes, it is an increase in the price of an article of food of 100 per cent, a difference between plenty and want—I might almost say between life and death. The noble Lord also commented upon the fact of some large imports from Ireland. What is the inference from that? He seems to draw the inference that there is no destitution in Ireland. But it is a consequence of the high price of potatoes in England and Wales, where the failure of the potato crop is almost as great as in Ireland itself. High prices will attract the supplies to the richer from the poorer country, and it is quite sufficient to account for these imports that the growers desire to gain something from the small remnant of the crop whilst it remains good. But the view taken by the noble Lord may have been taken under an imperfect acquaintance with the condition of the country. He is, however, supported by the high authority of an Irish Member, the Member for the University of Dublin, and the Recorder of Dublin, recently returned from Ireland, and who has told the House that the accounts of the scarcity are the grossest exaggerations. [Mr. SHAW: Great exaggerations.] Well, great exaggerations. I hope the House will bear with me if I detain it by reading some extracts upon this point, which assumes an aspect of peculiar importance; for I must confess it was reading these details in October which convinced me then, as I am convinced now, that a discussion of the Corn Laws in the present Session of Parliament was inevitable. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the statements made by Mr. Lindley and Dr. Playfair, in November, consisting, in his opinion, of gross exaggerations. [Mr. SHAW: Great exaggeration.] Great exaggeration! I beg pardon of the right hon. Gentleman: the distinction between gross and great is rather a refinement; that report was made to the Government in November. That report, however, was not the circumstance which first alarmed me. I happened in October to be residing in Cumberland; and I received a letter from the Secretary of the Agricultural Society in Ireland, which includes a great number of the nobility and gentry of the country. Now, that letter which I received from the Secretary of this society was dated October 23, and the House will see how far Dr. Playfair's report (which the right hon. Gentleman accuses of great exaggeration) corresponds with this letter:— Sir—I beg leave to send you an extract from a Dublin morning' paper, which will give you a correct account of the measures which the council of this society have adopted, respecting the prevailing disease in the potato crop. I beg leave also to state that when I issued a circular about a month since to the secretaries of one hundred and twenty local societies in connexion with the central one, I got several answers from persons stating that the disease was not then apparent in their immediate neighbourhood; but I have since received letters from most of them, stating that, upon digging the crops, they found the disease in almost every quarter, and I may safely say it appeared that there is not a county in Ireland that is not more or less affected by it. Since my return from the cattle show at Ballinasloe my office has been filled with specimens of the diseased potatoes from all quarters. The council of this society have directed their labour to two objects. First, to obtain the latest and most accurate information respecting the actual nature of the disease, in the different localities, through the machinery at our command, and to transmit the same from time to time, to the Irish Government at the Castle. Secondly, to institute the series of experiments within described, under the direction of Professor Kane, for the purpose of deciding upon saving the remnants of the crop, which now undoubtedly appears to be in the greatest jeopardy. The result of these experiments shall be carefully matured and communicated. I shall merely add, Sir, that the greatest panic appears to exist in all parts of the community, and those who know the country best are most puzzled how to act. One thing, however, I think is certain—that enough has already transpired to justify the most prompt and energetic measures on the part of the public and the Government. An attempt has been made to throw upon Ministers the responsibility of a premature decision on the question; but the right hon. Member himself says that he was much alarmed in October. Was it not then, the duty of Government on the 1st of November to act on the information they had received? They thought it their duty to act with promptitude, and to take into immediate consideration the laws regulating the supply of corn. But what I have read is not all. There came enclosed in the letter I have read a communication from a Colleague of the right hon. Member for Dublin University, Mr. Hamilton, who, on the 18th of October, thus addressed the Irish Agricultural Association in writing:— My dear Sir—I am sorry it will not be in my power to attend the special meeting of the council this day. If, as I apprehend, the accounts from the different parts of Ireland concur in representing the failure in the potato crop as at all general, I think it would be advisable that the council should take means for bringing the subject before the Lord Lieutenant, in the hope that Government might take some steps to make provision against the imminent famine. I am aware that some time since inquiries were made through the constabulary by Government; but the character of the disease is so peculiar, and the mode of its operation so unexpected, that the apparent state of the crop of potatoes a fortnight ago affords very incorrect information as to its real state at the present moment. Probably the council could not do better than to instruct you to prepare a digest of the information which may have come in from the local societies, such as could be presented to Government; and if they were to meet again next week, say on Thursday next, they might then enter into communication with the Government on the subject. I name Thursday, for I think during the next few days, when the people are beginning to dig their crops, much accurate information will reach you; and it is most desirable that when we communicate with Government, the fullest and most accurate information should be afforded to them. Such was the opinion in October, and I believe that a deputation waited upon the Lord Lieutenant; but the urgency of the case induced the Secretary to address me personally in the letter I have before read. I will now shortly state the more recent information that has reached Her Majesty's Government. The House will not fail to observe that the Recorder of Dublin maintains that a more gross exaggeration was never attempted to be panned upon the country. Sinking the love of his country in his greater love of truth, this is the position taken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I will now read the account we have received from Waterford, dated the 19th of March, addressed by the Commissioner there to the Commissary in chief:— The price of potatoes is so high, and they are of so bad a quality, that they are no longer used in the poorhouse here, bread being substituted. Nearly all the potatoes on the quay come in coasting vessels from the county of Wexford, where it appears the soil is sandy, and where the mayor informs me the disease has done very little injury; but the price is 6d. per stone of 14lb., which is quite beyond the reach of the poor. I can bear witness to the fact, that in the immediate vicinity of this place a proportion of one-third to one-half—and in some cases the whole—has been found totally injured, fetid, and fit only for the dunghill. This, I am sure, the House will agree with me in thinking forms a most important part of the documents which I have to lay before them; and I have now to call attention to that which discloses the most formidable portion of the whole evil—namely, the probability that not only the produce of the past year has failed, but the seed deposited in the ground already shows evidence of being tainted. Some of the crops of potatoes planted in January have been examined, and the seed has been found to have generally rotted. The ground will most probably be turned up in April, and sown with oats or barley. I will now, with the permission of the House, direct attention to the condition of the people in the island of Achill. The information derived from that place is founded upon the statements made by an officer of the coast-guard, resident upon the island; his communication is dated the 1st of March, and these are the terms in which he writes:— Dear Sir James—I regret to have to report to you a further unfavourable account of the potatoes in this district, in the southern part of which, I may say, they are, literally speaking, totally gone; the peasantry having now discovered, on opening their pits, the true state of them. I witnessed on Friday last that in many, instead of picking them by hand, they actually shovelled them out. On my return from Kule yesterday evening, I found a great number of persons (from fifty to sixty) waiting to complain to me of their misfortunes, which I assure you are great indeed; one person, with a family of six children, stated his crop to be now reduced to about six creels (8 cwt.). There are documents on the Table that in my apprehension speak volumes. I allude to the returns from the electoral districts of the Poor Law Unions. We have reports from 2,000 electoral districts belonging to Unions, and these being made up to the 15th of February, state that there is every prospect that the whole of the forthcoming crop will be found to be in a state of decomposition. The House will now, I trust, permit me to read this statement, which is very brief, but, in my opinion, extremely important:—

Proportion of the Potato Crop Lost. Number of Electoral Divisions in which the annexed Proportions of the Potato Crop were returned lost, condensed from Constabulary Reports of
Jan. 15, 1845. Feb. 15, 1846.
Between 8–10ths and 9–10ths 3 2
Between 7–10ths and 8–10ths 97 125
Between 6–10ths and 7–10ths 124 184
Between 5–10ths and 6–10ths 11 14
Between 4–10ths and 5–10ths 640 673
Between 3–10ths and 4–10ths 613 557
Between 2–10ths and 4–10ths 283 252
Between 1–10th and 2–10ths 156 135
Not exceeding 9–10ths 113 102
No loss 9 6
Not returned 3 2
Total number of Electoral Divisions 2,052 2,052
In the whole, then, of those electoral divisions, more than half of the entire crop has been absolutely destroyed. I am aware how often it is said that there has been no increase of this taint amongst the potatoes; and, therefore, I should wish, if the House will allow me, to advert to some fresh evidence of the fact from another part of Ireland. I find in a letter from Sligo, addressed by Colonel M'Arthur to the Commander in Chief of the Forces in Ireland, which bears date the 14th of March, that the scarcity in that neighbourhood is of the most alarming character. From the statements of Colonel M'Arthur it appears, that the supply of food for the people in the neighbourhood of Sligo, is, at the present time, one-third less than it was at the corresponding period of last year; and that the prices of potatoes in the towns between Sligo and Dublin had risen 25 to 50 per cent, clearly establishing the fact of a deficiency. Accounts from Carrick-on-Suir, dated the 1st of March, give the same melancholy feature of the existing state of things; and prove, beyond a doubt, that the progress of the rot is in every point of view most alarming. In one case there were 1,500 barrels of potatoes in pits; and, with the exception of two barrels, they were all putrid. I now propose to read an extract or two from the report of a meeting which took place in the county of Cork, when Lord Mountcashel presided. At that meeting the following resolution was adopted:—

"Resolved—That the local committees be requested to use their utmost diligence in ascertaining the funds necessary to support the people in their respective districts, until the 10th day of August next; and that the landlords be called upon to meet the exigencies of the case by subscribing a rational proportion, according to the value of their respective estates, based on the Poor Law valuation."

What follows is a quotation of a letter from Lord Mountcashel's agent, addressed to Lord Mountcashel, and dated from Fermoy, 16th March, and read at the same meeting:—

"My Lord—I have examined the potatoes in the pits, and find them getting worse every day since the beginning of the month—I may say, nearly one-third gone. On examining those in the lofts, I find them worse than those in the pits—nearly one-half gone. I am sorry to say, on examining four different kinds, planted on the 13th of February and following days, they are getting into a state of decay faster than the above; even those shooting out are puny and stunted. If all now growing come to maturing, they will not be above one-third of a crop.


At this meeting the following observations were made:— This was very serious indeed, and brought them to the consideration of the future. What was to become of them next year? It would appear that the potatoes were gone. If they planted rotten potatoes, they would not grow; and the consequence would be, the total failure next year of what the Irish people depended on for food. I do not wish to prolong the present discussion by referring to any more documents; but I have before me one statement from Mountmellick, which I cannot refrain from reading to the House. It consists of resolutions agreed to at a meeting of the board of guardians, held on Friday, March 20:— That at the meeting of the board this day, a number of decent poor married women made application for relief; their families amounted to the number of eighty human beings, without food or sufficient employment; those poor people have houses or cabins, and if their whole families were to accept of temporary relief in the workhouse, their residences and furniture would be lost to them. Feeling the pressure of want and destitution now so general in this populous town and neighbourhood, we feel it our bounden duty to bring this matter under the consideration of the Executive Government and the Poor Law Commissioners, in order that some mode may be devised or pointed out whereby relief may be given by a supply of cheap food, either gratuitously, or at a cheap rate, to meet the present exigency. The poor persons who applied to the board this day, form but a very small portion of those who we know are now in great distress, and actually subsisting on food made from the wash of a starch yard; only suited for, and considered indifferent, food for pigs. [Mr. SHAW: What has that to do with potatoes?] The right hon. Gentleman asks what has this to do with the potato disease? I think it has very much to do with the destitution of a starving people. Does the right hon. Gentleman really mean, after hearing these statements, that it is a great exaggeration to say that the potatoes are diseased and deficient in many localities in Ireland, when we have such representations as this, that people are actually existing on food taken from the wash of a starch yard? Now, let us try it by another test. The Lord Lieutenant, on Monday last, received a deputation from the city of Limerick. That is a wealthy place—no small district—but a city containing an immense number of inhabitants; and what is the representation of that deputation? It consisted of the Mayor of Limerick, the Dean of Limerick, Sir David Roche, and Mr. Marshall, and they said that the destitution of Limerick and the neighbourhood, arising from the diseased and deficient crop of potatoes, was extreme; and that statement was confirmed by Lord Clare, who resided in the neighbourhood of Limerick. They said that the destitution was so great, that they found it necessary to raise a subscription, which then amounted to 500l., to rescue the poor inhabitants from actual starvation; and they earnestly represented to the Lord Lieutenant, that unless his Excellency would consent to contribute towards the alleviation of that distress, the most fatal consequences were to be apprehended. Now mark, this has occurred in the month of March. Spring has not far advanced; but already we see a deputation from the city of Limerick coming before the Lord Lieutenant, and imploring for a dole out of the public purse to save the people from absolute starvation; and yet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin stands up and gravely assures us that the exaggeration has been very great. This the right hon. Gentleman asserted; but he at the same, time stated, what I think ought to be borne in mind, that at this time of the year fever, dysentery, and in some cases famine itself, was always to be found in Ireland to some extent. That, I grieve to say, is true; and so true, that the right hon. Gentleman acts on his deep convictions on this subject, although he says that the potato disease is an exaggeration, yet his compassion for his countrymen is so warm, that still, while he denies the extent of the distress, yet he takes credit to himself for willingness to support any measures which the Government might have brought forward with a view of meeting the temporary emergency; and more especially a grant or loan, taken from the British public, to the extent of 400,000l. Now, Sir, some hon. Members have declared themselves unable to perceive the connexion which exists between the case of Ireland, as it at present stands, and the proposed alteration of the Corn Laws; but, Sir, if the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin be correct, with respect to the condition of the Irish people—if it be true that year after year they are in such a frightful position on account of fever, dysentery, and dearth, as to render their present case by no means extraordinary—it must be necessary to meet their exigencies by grants of money from the public purse, either by way of loan or of absolute gift; and, for my part, I cannot consent to call upon the people of England, who themselves suffer from this same calamity of the potato disease, though not perhaps in so aggravated a form—I cannot, I say, consent to call upon them to make grants from the public Exchequer in aid of Ireland, and, at the same time, insist that there shall remain on the Statute-book a law the operation of which is to enhance the price of their daily bread. Authorities have been quoted by protectionist Members in favour of their own particular doctrines; but I am much mistaken if authorities equally respectable may not be quoted in favour of ours. Adam Smith, a great authority upon these questions, and one who appears to be regarded with singular favour by hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, is most decidedly favourable to free trade in corn; and is of opinion, that it is the surest preventive of famine, and the only palliative of dearth. The same doctrine has received the sanction of Burke. Admirable and beautiful as are all the works which emanated from that great man, there is none which appears to me better entitled to respect and admiration than his "Thoughts on Scarcity." Hon. Gentlemen opposite are fond of quoting extracts from it; but there is one passage which they have neglected to quote; and yet it appears to me of all others the most deserving of notice, and to my mind, at least, is quite conclusive as to what is the duty of the Legislature when cases of national distress arise, such as we have now to deal with. I do not remember his precise words, and, therefore, will not be responsible for the verbal accuracy of the quotation; but I believe it runs somewhat thus:— In my opinion there is no way of preventing this evil, which goes to the destruction of all our agriculture, and of that part of our internal commerce which touches our agriculture the most nearly, as well as the safety and very being of Government, but manfully to resist the very first idea, speculative or practical, that it is within the competence of Government, taken as Government, or even of the rich, as rich, to supply to the poor those necessaries which it has pleased Divine Providence for a while to withhold from them. We, the people, ought to be made sensible that it is not in breaking the laws of commerce, which are the laws of nature, and consequently the laws of God, that we are to place our hope of softening the Divine displeasure to remove any calamity under which we suffer, or which hangs over us. These appear to me to be the words of wisdom; the principle they lay down appears to me worthy of the gravest consideration; and I hesitate not to admit that it has been the moving principle with me, to support and advocate the measures now under discussion. But the right hon. Gentleman charges us with having betrayed our party; and declares that we cannot be excused nor pardoned for the course which we have pursued. Sir, I have already frankly declared that I cannot consent to cast censure on hon. Gentlemen who still adhere unequivocally to opinions which I once shared myself; but I have often expressed a hope, and I now again, with unaffected sincerity express it, that the day will soon come when those Gentlemen will see that we have not betrayed them, and admit that the course which we have taken is that which was best calculated to promote their interests, and those of the country at large. The right hon. Gentleman the Recorder for Dublin has cast our horoscope. He says that we are a falling Government, and sitting behind us, he acts upon that principle, for he kicks us because he thinks we are falling. He alludes to the possibility of a protectionist Government. If such a Government should ever be formed, I—notwithstanding what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman—am free to confess that I hope he may succeed in obtaining from that Government a satisfactory settlement of the Recordership of Dublin. I trust, Sir, that he may be enabled to procure from a protectionist Government a retiring allowance such as he desired, but such as I regret it was not in my power to advocate. The right hon. Gentleman declares that he never looked for political power, nor sought for the enjoyment of Parliamentary office; but yet, if a protection Government were formed, the vision of the Irish Secretaryship might again flit across his fancy; and, should he obtain that office, I hope that under the benign influence of his administration, the people of Ireland may enjoy all the advantages of which their condition is susceptible. At all events, whether now, or at whatever time the learned Recorder may give utterance to these reproaches, I cannot fail to appreciate the feelings which actuate him; and knowing those feelings, his censure sits light upon me. I infinitely prefer his open hostility to his smouldering resentment. Then, Sir, the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, stated his opinion, that this measure was inconsistent with the interests of the titheowners. Nothing could be more accurate, than the statement which the hon. Member made that, under the Commutation Act, tithe is an invariable quantity, though the price is variable. In my opinion, the very accuracy of the statement disposes of the question so far as the titheowners are concerned. Under the Tithe Commutation Act an invariable quantity is secured, whatever may be the change of cultivation: the only variation is in the price. Now observe, before the Tithe Commutation Act, the titheowner was not only exposed to a variation of price—because, if he took his tithe in kind, he was liable to the variation of price—hut also to a great variation in quantity; whilst under the Tithe Commutation Act, he is free from that variation in quantity to which he was before exposed, and he is liable only to that variation of price from which he was not before exempt. That is my answer to the objection of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford. But let us consider the case of the tithepayers; and if there be any hardship in the case, the tithepayers are more affected than the titheowners. Unlike the tithe receivers, the tithepayers have to pay a fixed quantity, and even if the land be thrown out of cultivation, the quantity they have to pay will not be reduced, though the variation in price will be provided for, since there is every year an adjustment of price, based on the averages of the last seven years. I am free to confess, Sir, that my answer to the tithepayers is not so complete as my answer to the titheowners; but upon the whole I believe that they will both find that they have had an equitable settlement; and it must be remembered that, on the whole, the Tithe Commutation Act is greatly in favour of the landed proprietors. Till the passing of that Act, whatever was the increase in the quantity of produce, the titheowner partook of it; the titheowner was in fact coparcener with the owner of the soil, and partook of the increased produce without sharing in the outlay necessary to make that increase. Prospectively under the Tithe Commutation Act that coparcencry is dissolved, and the landowners now enjoy exclusively the permanent advantages arising from the outlay of capital, and from the increased quantity of produce. Upon the whole, then, I think that the arrangement may be regarded as equitable to all parties, and I do not see why the titheowners should offer any obstacles to the progress of this measure. But the hon. Member for Oxford put the case as a dilemma: if the prices should not fall, he asked, what is the object of this Bill? and if the price falls, where is the equity of this measure? Now the Corn Laws are always open to another dilemma: the present Corn Laws either enhance the price of one of the first articles of necessity, or they do not so affect it. If they do not affect prices, I wish to know why is there all this resistance to any change? It cannot be denied that they turn our foreign customers into rivals—that they cramp our foreign trade—that they disorganize the home market—that they cause internal dissension—that they set class against class—that they cause heart burnings amongst a large portion of the community; and that they produce, I may almost say, an endless interruption of domestic peace. If they do not affect prices, wherein consists the injury done to the landowners? But if they do cause a permanent enhancement of price, then the interests of the consumers and of the receivers of wages are justly arrayed against them; and they may say— Why do you make us pay a larger price than we ought, and than we should otherwise pay for our daily bread, whilst at the same time you diminish our means of purchasing food? I will now refer to the damage likely to arise to agriculture, and I must here say that the prosperity of the home trade has been almost invariably concurrent with the improvement of the land, with the prosperity of agriculture; and, speaking generally, with the reduced price of food; and upon this point I cannot resist quoting to the House a short passage from a work on this subject, in which the writer states the argument upon this point so tersely and so ably, that I cannot hope to present it in so effective and so clear a manner. In the neighbourhood of the manufacturing towns, the importation from distant places has received a great and a progressive increase. Manchester and Liverpool now draw their supplies of agricultural produce from Ireland, from Scotland, and from the northern counties of England; and, simultaneously with that increased importation of produce from a distance, there is a higher price for farm produce in the neighbourhood of the towns; and so far from its being a consequence that the value of land in the neighbourhood of the towns has fallen, the very reverse is the fact. The case, however, is so ably put in the work of Mr. Wilson on the influence of the Corn Laws, that, with the permission of the House, I will read what he says:— Of late years the facilities of steam navigation have enabled the producers in Ireland, Cumberland, and elsewhere, to send the fruits of their industry at cheaper and easier rates to Liverpool, Manchester, &c.; but, while we find that, in the former places, these facilities have tended to improve the value of property, and the general condition of the producer, yet they have in no way tended to reduce the value of property or the condition of the producer in the neighbourhoods of the latter places. Without these additional supplies, the consuming ability of the large towns would have been abridged to a smaller quantity of food; but, with such additional supplies of such articles as can be best brought from a distance at a cheaper rate, a larger ability to consume other articles, which are not so easily transported, is obtained by the community, in the production of which the immediate producers find an occupation as profitable as before, and thus the whole community of producers and consumers is equally benefited. And here he gives an application to which I would call the especial attention of hon. Members:— There is no more reason why the consumer in Great Britain should not be benefited by the producer of the continent without injury to our own property, than that the consumers in Liverpool and Manchester should be benefited by the producers in Ireland and Cumberland, as has been shown, without lowering the value of land in the immediate neighbourhood. This argument, I confess, appears to me to be conclusive and unanswerable. Now, Sir, there is only one other point to which I am anxious, with the permission of the House, to direct the special attention of hon. Members: it is the important question of the bearing of the price of corn on the rate of wages. I have stated on former occasions to this House my deep and firm conviction with regard to the manufacturing population—and there has been strong evidence to confirm my views—that so far from high prices producing high wages, the very converse is true, and that low prices produce high wages, and high prices produce low wages. I allude to the evidence given before the Handloom Commissioners; and I can refer to evidence given in Scotland, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, by the handloom weavers in the county of Warwick, and last of all by the silk weavers. The first evidence to which I refer is that of a Scotch witness, taken by Mr. Symonds, the Assistant Commissioner, in the south of Scotland, for inquiring into the condition of the handloom weaver; and on the result of that evidence Mr. Symons reports, that the only measure desired by the weavers, and thought desirable by the manufacturers, was the repeal of the Corn Laws. They considered the continuance of that tax, by increasing the price of food, and diminishing the amount of employment, as grievous and impolitic. Next let me refer you to the evidence of two handloom weavers themselves, given to Mr. Chapman, the Assistant Commissioner in the West Riding. Charles Fletcher was asked, "Have you considered the causes of your distress?" and his reply was, he had, and that he attributed the decline, in a considerable degree, to the operation of the Corn Laws. He was then asked, "In what way did you come to that opinion?" and his reply was, that they prevented the exchange of our commodities with other countries, and that their repeal would open the woollen trade to the whole continent. He was further asked, "Is there any other way in which the weavers are affected?" and he replied he thought the weavers were peculiarly affected, for the less income they had, the less they could spend on bread. Wheat was then 3s. 4d. a stone. A man with a family required two stone, or two stone and a half. Now, he had known it occasionally as low as 2s. a stone; and it ought not to be so high. James Carmack declared that there was more than one cause; but the chief he should say was the Corn Laws, for the duty on foreign grain tended to cramp commerce, and it also caused them to eat bread dearer than they ought to do, and than the people of other countries do, and obliged them to consume more of their small earnings in buying bread, so as to leave little for the purchase of anything else. And this, Sir, has been the effect on the home market; high prices have destroyed the demand for many manufactured articles. This has been followed by the mills working short time, by the suspension of labour, and by universal distress throughout the manufacturing districts. The hon. Member for Rutlandshire last evening felt the force of this so cogently that he proposed, as an act of justice to the working classes, that there should be, and he declared there ought to be, a sliding-scale of wages as a relief from the sliding-scale in the Corn Laws; and not only that there should be fixed a minimum rate of wages, but that the rate should be adapted to the high price of corn: such was the proposition gravely made by the hon. Member for Rutlandshire, who thought it unjust to enhance the price of corn without establishing a scale of wages. I am ashamed to trouble the House any longer, otherwise I could cite much more evidence from the report of the handloom weavers' commission of workmen in various trades, whose evidence is given in their own words; but I am certain that I do not misrepresent the character of that evidence, when I say that the manufacturing population generally look upon the Corn Laws as enhancing the price of food, and at the same time diminishing the rate of wages. And now, Sir, I come to the consideration which I own operates most powerfully on my judgment. I cannot overlook the fact, that the Government of this country is, in practice, vested mainly in the landowners. The other House of Parliament is composed almost exclusively of landowners; and there is in this House a great preponderance of the landed interest. A Government so based and so conducted cannot long maintain its influence in opposition to the great body of public opinion; such a Government to be safe, must make it evident to all that its rule is impartial legislation; and now, when we consider the concentration, the union, the intelligence, the growing numbers, and the increasing proportion of the manufacturing population, who have, if not an universal, a very general opinion deeply seated in their mind, that the Corn Laws do enhance the price of bread, and do at the same time lower wages—that they make the manufacturing workmen pay more and receive less—if you persist in maintaining such laws, you may depend upon it that the population will not place confidence in your justice, or in the impartiality of your legislation. The people, upon this point of their daily food, will not at all times listen even to reason; much less will they be cajoled by fallacies; and I am satisfied, in my own judgment, that they are not wrong in their opinion. They are right in their opinion, that with the manufacturing population of this country high prices are concurrent with low wages, and they are placed in a most unfair position when the price of bread is artificially enhanced, and at the same time the means of obtaining it are decreased. If, Sir, time would permit, I could give you conclusive evidence, which I have before me, that this opinion is no longer confined to the manufacturing population. I could show that the agricultural population are beginning to be of the same opinion. I could produce evidence that there is a diminution of crime when prices fall, and that there is an increase of crime when prices rise. I can show that distemper and mortality also increase in proportion to the rise in the price of food, and that they decrease as the price of food diminishes. It has been proved to you, that, although wages in some of the agricultural districts may occasionally rise to a certain extent with the rise of corn, yet that they never rise commensurately, nor in the same ratio. I have shown the effect of the Corn Laws on the manufacturing population—I have shown the spreading distrust and aversion which are springing up against them amongst the agricultural population; and looking at the question dispassionately, I am bound to say that I cannot believe that the conclusions drawn by the manufacturing population are not sound and true. On the contrary, I believe them to be most accurate. I see that those protective laws will be dangerous to the rights of property, unless you supply a practical remedy in time—dangerous to the public peace and to the well-being of this country; and this being my conviction, I can, with a safe conscience and unhesitating judgment, give my unqualified support to this Bill. It is unnecessary for me to say, that with regard to domestic peace, no time should be lost in passing this measure; and with respect to our foreign relations, I will only say that I consider its enactment highly desirable and decidedly politic. Nations advantageously trading with each other are bound in heavy recognizances to keep the peace. The current of trade, once suffered to run free, deepens its channels and extends its ramifications. Its vivifying power is felt by every member of the community; and whatever may be the dispositions of Governments towards war, the whole body of the people, deriving their daily comforts from uninterrupted trade, will be loud in their demands for peace; and be assured, Sir, that the surest foundations for the peace of the world will be found to be, commerce extending its benefits to the great masses of human race. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment concluded with a quotation from a modern poet, My quotation shall not be from a modern poet. There are, in Pope's poem of "Windsor Forest," a few lines which appear to me so applicable to the extension of free trade, that if the House will so far indulge me, I shall take the liberty of quoting them. Looking forward to the happy day when London will have become a free port, he thus apostrophises the noble river which opens to this great metropolis the commmerce of the world:— The time shall come when, free as seas or wind, Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind, Whole nations enter with each swelling tide, And seas but join the regions they divide; Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold, And the new world launch forth to seek the old. That is the real description of the happy consequences to be expected from the measure we are now discussing. May the vision be realized!—as assuredly it will be at no distant period—if with me you give your assent to the second reading of this Bill.

MR. STUART (Newark)

Sir, I feel anxious to make a few observations on the subject of this debate. It seems to me that through the whole course of the discussion, which has lasted for many nights, great temper and forbearance has on the whole been shown, and especially by those hon. Members among whom I sit. I think almost every Gentleman who has spoken in condemnation of the new measure of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government has attributed to him and to his Colleagues the purest and best motives for the opinions which they now profess. I think, Sir, that whatever is said in Parliament by persons in authority is entitled to respectful attention. Feeling on my own part this respect, I am anxious to think as favourably as I can of any measure proposed by those who are entrusted by Her Majesty with the government of the country. And I have been the more disposed, Sir, to listen with respect to all that has been urged from the Treasury bench in this discussion, because the measure on which we are deliberating is proposed not by a young and inexperienced statesman, but by one of tried ability and experience, whose conduct in public affairs has stood the test of many years, and in whom, until very lately, we have long reposed our confidence. With these feelings, Sir, and after the forbearance which has been shown, it is with the deepest regret that I have heard the right hon. Baronet who has just sat down, attribute to a right hon. Gentleman near me—attribute to the right hon. the Recorder of Dublin (Mr. Shaw), the basest motives as actuating him in opposing the present measure. Sir, I think that the character of that right hon. Gentleman is sufficiently known in this House and in the country, to make us all feel that the imputation is unfounded, ungenerous, and unjust; and it has been received by the House in such a way that I rather think the right hon. Baronet must now feel that he has made a mistake. What is said in such a spirit, and so wholly undeserved, can never find favour, I trust, in this House. Nothing shall tempt me, Sir, I trust, to depart from that respect which is due to the station and talents of the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department; but when I am called upon to give my vote for or against this measure, I conceive I have a right to exercise my own judgment, and form my own opinion. When I am to consider whether this measure be a wise one or not, I must crave leave, not as asking any undue indulgence, and certainly not conceiving that any great weight is due to the opinion of so humble an individual as myself, still I must crave leave to express my firm and honest opinion, unbiassed by any other consideration. But we have heard, Sir, to my astonishment, from the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, in the latter part of his speech, a matter brought forward for the first time, to influence our opinions on this question, which, as coming from him, I have heard with sorrow and alarm. I have read the report of a speech by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) not in this House, but in another place, in which he has said that the Government and the Constitution of this country were overridden by the landed interest. I do not mean to say that a person in the situation of that hon. Member may not express such an opinion; but I would ask whether it is just or correct? It is said that the Government has been oppressed and kept down by the landed interest, prevented by it from bringing forward the measures which they would otherwise have proposed as proper and wise. Such doctrines from that quarter may excite little surprise. But I ask, Sir, what are we to think when we hear from the Secretary of the Home Department an argument in favour of this measure which proceeds on this very ground?—when we hear a Member of the Cabinet tell us in this House, as a circumstance to influence our votes on this occasion, that we ought to pass this measure because the manufacturing interest is not sufficiently represented in this House—not because the measure is in itself wise and beneficial, but because the people have now begun to think that the landed interest has an undue preponderance in this House? [Sir J. GRAHAM: I did not say undue, I said a preponderating influence.] Very well. Then the argument is, that because the landed interest preponderates in the House, we ought to pass the measure without regard to the injury which it may occasion, and without considering whether it be a wise measure or not. Have things come to this pass, Sir, that we are to take for our guide not our own opinions, not the dictates of our own judgments, but that we must give way to what we are told is an opinion entertained by one class of the community, whose opinions and interests alone we are to attend to? This is addressed to us to coerce our opinions: right or wrong is to become a secondary consideration to what is called the growing opinion of the manufacturing classes. A doctrine more dangerous, more subversive of the independence of Parliament, more revolutionary, and more clearly tending to degrade the legislation of this country, I never heard. I believe, Sir, it is the opinion not only of every sound statesman, but of the great body of sensible and respectable men in this country, that this House fairly and justly represents all classes of the Commons in this kingdom. If not, what has become of the Reform Bill? If it does justly represent all classes of the people, can there be a more dangerous or degrading doctrine than that those who so represent all classes, should consider one class as less fully represented, and therefore abandon their opinions of what is for the benefit of all classes, in favour of the growing opinion of one particular class? It is my intention, Sir, to vote against this measure; and I shall endeavour, as shortly as I can, to state some of the reasons why I am determined to oppose it. The wide and general question of the wisdom and policy of the Corn Laws, is one into which I do not propose now to enter. It is a question which has been often enough discussed already, and on which this House has by large majorities again and again pronounced a decided opinion. It is a question the discussion of which has, I believe, occupied the mind of every well-educated Englishman; the arguments upon both sides of the question have been familiar to us from our early years; and the opinions of most men have been fixed and settled with regard to it. One great cause of difference of opinion on the subject, I believe to be the different views which persons take of the comparative importance of the landed interest, on the one hand, and the manufacturing interest on the other. On this great and fundamental point, my own opinion, in common with that of those whom I believe to be the greatest and wisest, is, that while the importance of our manufactures and commerce must be admitted, all that relates to our agriculture is of still higher and greater importance. Sir, it is the rich and fertile fields of England which have been the very cause and source of our commerce and manufactures. But for our agricultural wealth, neither our cotton mills nor our manufactories would ever have existed. All our sound and practical statesmen are agreed in this—that the landed interest in this country, and the prosperity of its agriculture, is the basis of all our prosperity as a nation. Our commercial and manufacturing interest, great as it is, rests upon this basis, and is of a more fluctuating and transitory kind; and even if our cotton mills and manufactories should, in the vicissitude of things, perish and decay, our rich and fertile fields would remain the source of continued strength, and the means of renovation from the decay of more transitory wealth. I perceive an hon. Member on the opposite side of the House (Mr. Bouverie), smiles at this. He, perhaps, is of a different opinion. Perhaps he thinks that our cotton mills and trade will remain and flourish when the fertile fields of England are no more. At the hour when I am now speaking, the Corn Law of 1842 is the law of the land. It is a law founded on this wise and just principle, namely, that whereas our commerce and manufactures are protected by certain duties, so in a just and fair proportion should our agriculture be protected also. That is the system under which we are now acting, and under which our commerce and manufactures, as well as our agriculture, have flourished. The question now for our consideration, and on which we must give our votes is this—whether this just and successful system is to be abandoned—to be altogether thrown overboard as to one class—whether protection is to be extended to every other class except the landed interest—and as to it, the basis of the prosperity of all, is to be from this time forward withdrawn? I perfectly understand the arguments in favour of free trade. I admit their force as mere theoretical arguments. I deny their practicability or wisdom in the management of the affairs of this nation in the present state of the world. As applied to the measure before us, I deny the justice of those arguments. If we are told—and that is what we are told—that protective duties are to be withdrawn from the produce of our land, and to be continued to the produce of our manufactories, I say that there is a glaring want of wisdom and want of justice in such a proceeding. And here I must address myself more directly to the reason for this sort of proceeding, which was put forward by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. He said, that we must adopt this course as a matter of necessity; and he undertook to make out that a case of overwhelming necessity existed. But it is to be observed, that out of that great party, of which the right hon. Baronet was once the proud leader—a party as proud to be led by him as he was proud to be their leader—of this great party of more than 300 Members, only 112 supported him on this occasion, or countenanced the notion of the alleged necessity; and let it not be forgotten, that of those who supported him, more than one expressed an opinion that the effects of the measure would be most calamitous, and that it would be the ruin of thousands. Now, if the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, and those who vote with them on this measure, mean to support it on the ground of an overwhelming necessity, I beg leave to say, that this case of necessity has not been established at all. On the contrary, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, although he did say something of the famine in Ireland, and the scarcity of potatoes, before he had done, put the argument on different grounds. But I beg leave to say, that the way to cure those calamities in Ireland, even if they existed in the fullest extent which has been alleged, is not by ruining the landed interest in England. How are the poor fever-stricken Irish to be cured, or the hungry to be fed, by telling them that protection to agriculture is to cease in the year 1849? Why this is a mockery. I say, that if we are called upon to support this measure, on the notion that it is justified or required by the state of Ireland, the understanding of every reasonable man must reject the argument entirely. I call upon the Government to relieve those temporary evils with which Ireland is afflicted by some better and more speedy remedy. Such calamities are not to be met by extensive measures of this kind, which even some of those hon. Members who feel bound to support them, are forced to admit will be most injurious. Then we come back to the question—is it wise or just to withdraw all protection from land, while it is extended to our manufactures? The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department tells us that there is a growing opinion in the country that protection to land must cease, and therefore we must give way to that opinion. Now, I beg leave to deny that there is a growing opinion of this kind. Where is the evidence of it? The right hon. Baronet, as his proof of this growing opinion, reads to us the evidence of a handloom weaver, given before some Commissioners. Now, for my own part, I attribute very little weight to opinions obtained in this way; they are almost always the opinions of partisans—of men who are called to deliver such opinions because they are known to entertain them, and they are the sort of opinions which are wished for. I recollect, in my own case, there was a subject on which I happened to possess considerable authentic information. This being known, I was applied to by a Member of the Government, not the present Government, and requested to come to be examined before a Committee of this House. Before the examination, I had a conversation with the individual who had obtained the appointment of the Committee, and I found from him that he had a particular object in view—that my evidence would exactly tend to an opposite conclusion from that which he wished the Committee to come to. I need hardly say, that when this Gentleman ascertained what the result of my evidence would be, I was not examined at all. I confess that occurrence produced a pretty strong impression on my mind as to the degree of weight to be given to evidence before Committees of this House. But another sort of evidence has been resorted to in this discussion. The right hon. Baronet refers us to the reports of gentlemen employed by the Government to collect information. Now, information collected in that way is always sought for with a view to produce an impression of a particular kind; and it generally happens that persons so employed make it their business to ascertain the sort of view which it is wished the evidence collected by them should present. I am the more impressed with this from what I know happened to a friend of mine, now no more. He was a gentleman of great intelligence, and was employed by the late Government to go through certain districts of England, to make inquiries and a report on a particular subject. He told me that not having much practice in such matters, he applied to a gentleman of great experience and long in office, to know how he should proceed in the preparation of his report. The advice he got was this: "The first thing I advise you to do, is to ascertain what sort of report it is wished by the Government that you should make." It is, Sir, a very difficult thing indeed to obtain unbiassed evidence on any subject, but especially on a subject of this kind; and, without meaning any sort of disrespect to the functionaries employed by Government to collect information in Ireland, I must be allowed to receive their information with some distrust as to its perfect and impartial accuracy, especially when I find very opposite accounts from respectable and intelligent persons unconnected with the Government. But when the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) talks of the growth of opinion on this question, he should give us some better evidence, and let us know how he ascertains this growth of opinion. It is a very remarkable thing, that I have read a speech delivered sometime ago in January last, by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) so exactly like what has been said to-night by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that I must beg the House to allow me to read it. It is from a newspaper report of a speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden), at Newcastle I think—at one of those meetings which he describes himself as holding for lecturing and educating the people:— But the serious part of the matter is this: these very men have been the Government of the country; these very men and their class have been astride the Prime Ministers and most eminent statesmen who have governed the country for these fifty years. You read the speeches of Lord Southampton and Sir Charles Knightley; they are the very type of the men who have been governing you and your forefathers; and it is frightful to contemplate what the country has had to endure under the guidance of those men. Under their guidance did I say? No! the country has not exactly been guided by them; we have always had Prime Ministers who have contrived in some degree to evade them—men, for instance, who, like Sir R. Peel in his Canada Corn Bill, concocted some measures with a view to relieve a little the country from the misgovernment of these boobies; calculating, perhaps, as in that memorable instance, upon their ignorance of geography. When they saw these men resolved to starve us, they knew it was no good arguing with them on political economy; and they open a back-door through Canada, being well aware of the fact that these men don't know the St. Lawrence from the Mississippi. This was the lecture, and these were the facts delivered by the hon. Member to teach truth and justice to the manufacturing classes! But I beg the House to observe what he went on to say. It is these words:— I know this for a fact. The idea originated in the Board of Trade with a man who chuckled to the day of his death in having originated an idea that succeeded in evading those squires. Such is the class of people who, in their blind ignorance, have ruled the destinies of this country; and how it is that the country has ever managed to survive such rule—how it is that this Anglo-Saxon people have put forth such mighty energies in spite of the incubus that sat on their industry, is one of the most marvellous things the historian has to deal with. Now, I ask the House to observe how the general scope of this corresponds in a remarkable manner with the tone and language of the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) this evening. If the right hon. Baronet had been himself one of the audience, he could not more effectually have imbibed the notions of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden). But does the lecturing and noise of the Anti-Corn-Law League—noise communicated by factitious means, helped on by falsehood and fraud from day to day at public meetings, then published in the newspapers, and repeated in this House—constitute public opinion? The hon. Member for Stockport has talked in this House of the opinions of the lower classes employed in manufactories, whom he calls 'men in fustian jackets,' and proposes that meetings should be held according to what he describes as the custom of our Saxon ancestors, at which these men might express their opinions as those of the great body of the nation. But let me remind Her Majesty's Government, that the people who attend such meetings are not the whole even of that class of the population, nor even the better part or the more numerous part of that class. All the artisans in the country do not attend meetings on such subjects. The better part of our manufacturing population—the industrious mechanics and artisans, the more intelligent and sensible part of the body—employ their leisure hours in a more profitable manner. Those of them whose conduct and opinions are entitled to consideration, spend their time with their wives and families, or in pursuits very different from listening to the harangues of the hired orators of the Anti-Corn-Law League. The audience who attend these orators and lecturers are of a very different character. From the earliest times—from the days of Jack Cade downwards to the present time—any mob orator may collect a large audience of idle and drunken mechanics and others, clad in fustian jackets, who will applaud him to the echo, and applaud him the more if he abuses the landed interest and men of station and authority in the country. Mobs may meet to applaud the speeches of those who flatter their prejudices and abuse their superiors; but what men of sense would listen to such trash and nonsense? What grieves, me, Sir, in this matter—and what I consider a great national calamity—is, that we are living under a Government who are imposed upon by these proceedings. It seems, Sir, that Her Majesty's present Ministers make no account of the opinions of quiet and respectable men—of the sober, honest, quiet, and industrious men who attend to their proper business, and spend their leisure hours in their houses, by their firesides, with their wives and families—who disregard the Anti-Corn-Law League—who disdain to receive their money, and will not attend their meetings. For my own part, having occasion to see a good deal of all classes of society, and to hold intercourse with persons high and low, and with many of those belonging to the manufacturing population, as well as with other classes—I know that the great body of them hold very different opinions; quiet and industrious men, who, like the agricultural population, do not make speeches or listen to speeches, or participate in those proceedings at public meetings of the Anti-Corn-Law League, which but for their effect on the present Government, I would call a nonsensical farce. I observe that the hon. Member for Stockport, in another of his speeches at these meetings, said he had been for years educating the people, and that it was years before he got his random audience to understand or adopt his views—views and doctrines which, I must be allowed to say, he delivers to them in such language as, if uttered in this House, would deprive him of all right to be heard in it. Why, the language which I have read to-night, in which he has called men of high rank and station and intelligence, boobies and ignorant men, is mild, compared with some of his expressions out of doors. I ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) whether he believes that the object of the Anti-Corn-Law League is to tell the plain truth, and to support it by fair and honest argument? Can he believe it? Has he read these speeches? Because, if their object and practice were to assemble meetings merely to tell the truth, and to support the truth by fair arguments, their conduct, so far from being criminal and mischievous, as it is, would be praiseworthy and meritorious. We are told, Sir, by the Prime Minister, that he has changed his opinion on this great question. Be it so. It is no reproach to any man that he changes his opinion, if he change it for the better. It may be no reproach to his honesty if he change it. But let me beg the right hon. Baronet to consider that one inevitable consequence of the change must be, to diminish the weight and authority of the individual who announces that his opinion is changed. I could not but feel the force of what the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck) said on this subject a few nights ago. He says, he gives credit to the Prime Minister and the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) for now adopting the opinions which he thinks right; but he said, as to their being obliged to abandon their former opinions, "what a satire this is on their understandings!" I admit that there are sources of information open to the Members of a Government which are not accessible to persons not in office; and some credit must be given to those who have that advantage. But what I complain of is this—that up to this night we have heard no valid reason advanced to account for or justify their change of opinion on this question. This debate has gone on for many nights. We have had evidence and arguments of the most powerful kind advanced against the wisdom and expediency of the proposed measure. My noble Friend (Lord G. Bentinck), my hon. Friends near me (Mr. W. Miles and Mr. Bankes), and many other hon. Members on the same side, have brought forward facts and arguments of the utmost importance, and of cogency, to my mind, irresistible. How have they been met? We have had speeches, indeed, on the other side; but those of a description not only inadequate to the occasion, but far below the cold and ordinary arguments on former discussions of this question. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), who has very often argued this question with great ability, has on this occasion come far short of his former efforts. He was reduced even to address those who sit near me, by attributing to us what none of us have said or thought. He has said to us, "You say you will allow the people of Ireland to starve." Why, I ask, who said so? Which of us has ever said anything of the kind? The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) has not, indeed, said this of us so directly, but he seemed to me to insinuate something of the same kind. [Mr. B. ESCOTT: Hear!] I suppose the hon. Member means to imply that there is some foundation for the charge. He will have an opportunity in the course of this evening of stating, if he can, who the individual Member is who has said that he would allow the people of Ireland to starve. What has been said, has been the very reverse. For the House cannot have forgotten, that when the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) drew a most powerful picture of the apprehended state of famine and disease in Ireland, as an argument in favour of the repeal of the Corn Laws, my hon. Friend (Mr. Hudson) rose, and with honest English feeling, which was responded to by the House, protested against having our feelings harrowed by those shocking pictures of poverty, famine, and disease, as a ground for repealing the Corn Laws, when the remedy for those impending calamities ought to be of a very different and much more immediate nature. The real truth is, that the Prime Minister is in a false position with reference to this question. A measure like that which he proposes, ought to come before the House with the weight and authority of the unanimous opinion of the Government in its favour. Can it be said that we have the measure before us with that authority? Can it be said that the present measure comes before the House with the same weight of authority in its favour as the measure of 1842? The truth is, that the present measure was occasioned by the change of opinion of the Prime Minister. In that change of opinion only two of his Colleagues concurred: the consequence was, that the Government was broken up. Then, what was the situation of Members on the other side of the House? The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) no doubt thought he had practised a very successful political manœuvre when he published his letter, in November last, stating that he also had become a convert to the total and immediate repeal of the duty on foreign corn. The immediate effect, however, of that celebrated letter was, to make it impossible for the noble Lord to constitute a Government. I have no more doubt that the noble Lord, when he published that letter, thought he had practised a successful political manœuvre, than I have—and I say it with great regret—that the proceedings of the present Government with regard to this measure savour of political manœuvre too. I therefore beg the House, and especially the 112 hon. Members on this side of the House who have hitherto supported this measure, to consider well in what position this measure stands. There is no disguise attempted by many of its supporters on the other side of the House. Their object is avowed to be, to cut down and destroy the ascendancy of the landed interest. [Captain LAYARD: No!] One hon. Member says, "No!" I have not a doubt that he is sincere. But has even he any doubt of the avowed object of others? Has not the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) spoken plainly enough? Is there any sensible man that understands this question who doubts that it will be a severe injury to the agricultural interest? The noble Lord the Member for Suffolk (Lord Rendlesham) has told the House, that if this measure is adopted, one-half of his estate will be thrown out of cultivation. It is impossible to disregard such evidence. Nay, a noble Lord, the Member for Liverpool (Lord Sandon), who supports the Bill, has told the House that he has no doubt its effect will be to throw millions of acres out of cultivation, and to occasion great loss and misery to those engaged in agriculture. I ask the right hon. Baronet whether it is not the avowed object of the hon. Member for Stockport to cripple and put down the landed interest? [Mr. B. ESCOTT: No.] Surely the hon. Member for Stockport is best able to express his own views. Surely the hon. Member for Winchester has not attended to the speeches of the hon. Member for Stockport. What did that hon. Member mean when he talked of putting an end to the empire of the "boobies?" What did he mean by talking of the necessity of destroying the influence of that class which had bestridden the Government, and crippled their measures? His language was plain enough. Why did that hon. Member most untruly describe the speeches of Sir Charles Knightley and Lord Southampton as trash and nonsense, but for the same purpose? I have read these speeches, and found them very able, and sensible, and sound: they stated the truth, and abused nobody. It was plain that all these things were said by the prime supporters of this measure, in order to persuade the House that the party opposed to the right hon. Baronet on this question, however high in station, and character, and talent, must be prevented from having any longer an influence in the government of the country, and must, if possible, be crippled and put down. We are told, indeed, that the time is gone by when this House can be expected to legislate for a class. Why, what is this measure but legislating for one class, and against another class? The existing law, which we are called upon to alter, is a law for the benefit of all classes, and affords equal protection to all. If it protects the agriculturist, it protects the manufacturer also. But the proposed measure continues the protection to the manufacturer, but takes it entirely away from the agriculturist. I can readily conceive that we might have, with perfect wisdom and propriety, a measure proposed to us which should regulate and modify, on fair and just principles, the measure of protection to both classes. If the present measure had been—what it was promised it would be—a great and comprehensive measure, a fair adjustment of the whole principle of protection, I could understand the arguments in its favour; but the insuperable objection to it is this—that, instead of being a comprehensive measure, it is limited and partial. It is levelled entirely against one class. It takes away all protective duties from land, and continues them as to manufactures. Is this fair? Is this impartial? Is this comprehensive? If it be fair or just, its fairness and justice must be demonstrable; and yet we are hitherto without any evidence to support it. It was said, indeed, that there is to be compensation to the landed interest. Let the House consider well how the matter stands as to this. Not only is the alleged compensation wholly inadequate, but it is comprised in some proposed measures to be the subject of separate enactments, which are for the present postponed. I could not help being struck with what was said on this subject the other night by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe). That hon. Member, while he supported the Corn Bill, and applauded the change of opinions on the Treasury bench, warned the House to beware lest the right hon. Baronet(Sir Robert Peel), who had changed his opinion of the Corn Laws, should change his opinion as to the compensation, especially as to the most important part of it, the proposed change in the law of settlement; for he (Mr. Duncombe) told the House that the manufacturing interest were opposed to that change, and as the Corn Bill was occasioned by the influence of the manufacturers, that same influence might compel the right hon. Baronet to abandon the proposed changes in the law of settlement. There is something very significant in this warning. I do not know whether it strikes the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) in that way; but it seems to me it ought to make him feel how much his authority, and influence, and credit, are impaired by his unfortunate change of opinion on the great question before us. As to that change of opinion, his right hon. Colleague (Sir J. Graham) had indeed deprecated all appeals to Hansard, and to opinions expressed in former debates and former years; but I beg leave to tell that right hon. Baronet, that those volumes of Hansard, and those of his speeches of which it concerns his reputation that the record should be destroyed, are the volumes now in preparation, the records of such sentiments as those which he has delivered this night. Above all, would it be well for the right hon. Baronet's reputation as a statesman, that all record should perish of the doctrine which he has this night uttered, as to the state of representation in this House, and as to the necessity of being guided, not by our own honest opinions on the measure before us, but that we should give way to the opinion of the mobs congregated by the Anti-Corn-Law League. This doctrine, propounded to terrify the House, coming from a Member of the Government, seems to me awful indeed. But I must say, for myself, and for the honest and independent Members of this House, that if it has come to this, that there is a Government in this country which tells us we must submit to this sort of influence, such a Government ought not to exist for a single day. If we are to submit to this, Sir, and to be guided by such motives as these, our independence is gone, and this House would be reduced to the lowest state of corruption and degradation, and would be unfit for its duty as a great legislative assembly. It is the duty of a Government not to deliver such doctrines as these, but to protect the House against the influence of mobs, and to enable us to debate and discuss public measures on higher grounds than the adoption of the opinions expressed at mob meetings, or resolutions passed by assembled workmen in fustian jackets. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) referred to assemblies of unemployed workmen in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Such assemblies may be expected when the vicissitudes of trade unfortunately deprive workmen of employment. At present we may congratulate ourselves upon that prosperity, under the present system of protection, which has given employment to the labouring population. But, Sir, if a change of circumstances were to occur—if artisans, rendered discontented from the loss of their employment, should again congregate in Lincoln's Inn Fields or elsewhere, and threaten to overawe the House, it will become the business of the Government to prevent this House from the degradation of being so overawed; and the Government that is incapable of affording to our lives, and properties, and to the freedom of our deliberations and debates on public affairs, that sort of protection, ought not to be entrusted with the management of the affairs of this great nation. Let me remind the House that this doctrine of being overawed by mobs was put in practice long ago. Nay, even the doctrine of casting Hansard overboard, which we have heard from the right hon. Baronet, proceeds on the same principle which Jack Cade preached to his followers, when he said, "Let all the records of Parliament be destroyed; and from henceforth let all law be received from my mouth." I have to apologize to the House for having said so much, and beg to express my deep sense of the kindness of the House for the indulgence and attention which I have received, not, I am aware, from any merit of my own, but from the kindness always shown in this House to a Member who speaks for the first time.


said, that the incoherency of thought and argument which was perceptible in the speech of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, was the usual indication of alarm, and should be therefore regarded as a proof that the alarm expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman at the result of this measure was real. The hon. and learned Member had been rather indignant with him in one part of his speech, because he had ventured to smile at the remark which he had made, that the existence of manufactures and commerce depended upon the agriculture of the country, whereas if commerce and manufactures perished, the fertility of the soil would still continue. His smile was caused by the thought of what would become of the fertility of the soil if no manufactures or commerce existed. The argument of the hon. and learned Member reminded him of a sentiment in the poetry of the hon. Member's noble Colleague (Lord John Manners)— Let wealth and commerce, laws and learning, die; But leave us still our old nobility. He had really wondered whether the hon. and learned Member was not about repeating the quotation with a slight alteration, and saying— Let wealth and commerce, laws and learning, die; But leave us still our old fertility. Perhaps if the country had nothing but that fertility to depend on, the hon. and learned Gentleman would now be somewhat in the condition of one of those Picts that they read of in ancient history, when the fertile soil of England and Scotland existed, but when manufactures and commerce were unknown. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed very slow of belief in facts which did not suit his particular views. He stated, to his (Mr. Bouverie's) astonishment, because he thought the matter had been admitted by all parties in that House, that the manufacturing classes were not in favour of a repeal of the protection laws. He wondered that when such was the hon. and learned Member's opinion, he had not had recourse to some great manufacturing constituency, instead of applying to a constituency in which the landed interest had a very unconstitutional, or, to say the least of it, a very unfair influence with regard to that House. The hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to him not to have at all touched upon the main question before the House, namely, whether the House of Commons, as representing the opinions of the people of this country, ought to vote for repealing these laws or not. There seemed to him to be a fallacy in the speeches of the hon. and learned Member, and of all the hon. Gentlemen opposite. There seemed to him to be a false assumption taken as the basis of their arguments, and which, if set in its true light, would destroy all their fine declamation. They assumed that the protection laws had been productive of that advantage, and prosperity, and gain to the landed interest which they were, no doubt, originally intended to produce. Of the evils which hon. Gentlemen pourtrayed with such force as likely to follow the passing of this Bill, there was hardly one which did not exist, and of which the pressure had not been felt under the very Corn Law which they now sought to maintain. The dependence on foreign countries for a supply of corn, which hon. Gentlemen appeared so anxious to guard against, had been increasing year by year, or, at all events, in a number of years. Taking the nine years after 1815, when the first of these Corn Laws had been passed, he found the average quantity of foreign corn imported to be 800,000 quarters; whereas, in the next nine years the quantity had increased to 1,400,000 quarters. He had heard a curious argument on this part of the subject from an hon. Member one night during this debate. It was stated that the great object of the protective system was to keep this country altogether independent of foreign countries in time of war, and thus to give them a better security for peace; but the hon. Gentleman who used this argument seemed to forget that the great security against war existed in that free connexion between countries which the hon. Member opposed. In the next place, they had given a picture of misery to the farmers and to the agricultural labourers, for whom the sympathy of hon. Members seemed to have been deeply and warmly aroused. He would come to their case presently; but what he wished in the first place to maintain was, that these laws had not been productive of the prosperity to the landed interest which they were originally intended to produce; and, however hon. Gentlemen might talk, however they might mix up the question with sophistry and fallacy, they could never get over the real proposition which they had to meet—namely, that a law, the obvious tendency of which was to produce dearness in a necessary of life, could not be a just and a good law. That such a law was just, was the paradox which hon. Members had to maintain, and which he denied they ever could maintain. That this was a correct view of the question could not be denied, for dearness meant scarcity: it was, in fact, synonimous with dearth. Whenever these laws operated, they produced scarcity, and, as a necessary consequence, they produced additional pauperism and additional crime. The people believed that from time to time they took employment from the poor, and drove many of them to gaol and to the workhouse. He did not care whether this belief was true or not; but such being their belief, he defied the protectionists to shake it. As wise statesmen, he asked whether they ought not to be influenced in their public conduct by such views, and consent at once to change a law so injurious to the community. The people would certainly act upon their belief, whether it was false or otherwise; and, therefore, this being a national question, the true wisdom and policy would be to repeal the law, without reference to the interests, or supposed interests, of a particular class. He would, in the next place, consider the question whether the present law had produced prosperity to those classes for whose benefit it was intended. In considering this question he should put the landlords out of consideration, for he did not think, strictly speaking, they were entitled to be called the agricultural class. The labourer and the farmer constituted the agricultural classes. In the first place, what had been the operation of the law upon the farmer? He contended that in all its parts, so far from being perfect, it had been a complete experiment upon him. The law of 1815 gave him a complete monopoly. For the three years previous to 1821 he had also a monopoly. The result had been ruin, misery, and suffering, for the proof of which he referred hon. Gentlemen to the evidence taken before the Agricultural Committee of 1821; and he repeated that, so far as complete monopoly was concerned, an experiment had been made of giving the farmer the entire command of the home market, and it would not answer. The law was modified in 1828, and what had followed? Why, in a few years the very same result as before—ruin, misery, and suffering. He recollected reading the evidence of one farmer, who was asked where the farmers went to? To the workhouse, he replied. One more modification took place in 1842; and, so far as he could learn, this law had been inoperative to produce prosperity to the farmer. He contended, then, that as regarded the farmers, there was not the slightest pretence for maintaining protective Corn Laws as a means of producing prosperity; they had been ruined under their operation, and they could not be more ruined if they were removed altogether, He came now to the case of the labourer, in whose welfare the House could not but take the deepest interest. Most hon. Members were aware of the old Statutes for regulating labourers' wages, under which they were sent to gaol if they demanded more. Under the present law, in many districts of the country, the agricultural labourers, instead of being comfortable and prosperous, with plenty of the necessaries of life, had not enough of them; whilst the luxuries of life were unknown to them altogether. The case of the protectionists, as regarded this law, ought to be that it had improved their condition, by increasing their physical comforts; but so far from having accomplished that, they were worse off than they were before. He had the means, to some extent, of proving this assertion. Arthur Young had recorded an immense body of facts, which he collected in the course of his tours through different parts of England in 1770; and he showed that at that time the money rate of wages in harvest time in his (Mr. Bouverie's) own county was 5s. 9d. a week. The wages at present were, for married men with families, 8s.; 7s. for ordinary men; and there were many single men who did not get more than 5s. 6d. and 6s. There was, however, a difference of 1s. 7d. per week, owing to the price of the necessaries of life at that period to be added to the rates of 1770, bread at that time being either ½d. or ¾d. per lb., whilst now it was within the eighth of a penny of 2d. per lb. Beef, cheese, and butter, were double the price now that they were at that time. On these accounts he held that although the labourer's money wages had slightly increased, the agricultural labourer was worse off under a system of protection than when he had no protection. Neither farmers nor labourers had been benefited by the law, as he had shown; and as to the landowners, he did not believe they would suffer, in any degree, from the measure proposed by the right hon. Baronet. But even if their pecuniary interests suffered tenfold more than they were likely to suffer, he contended they ought to make the sacrifice. They had the strongest interest in the maintenance of good order; and if they consulted their best interests, they would urge the abandonment of the present law. It was true that a great part of the ordinary supporters of the right hon. Baronet were unable to appreciate his wisdom and statesmanlike views in proposing the measure now before the House; but the bulk of the community would do justice to his motives. He believed that many of these Gentlemen had taken the right hon. Baronet for their leader and given him their support from necessity. The power which he had was founded not upon their love, but upon their fears. But the right hon. Baronet saw the disgrace which would fall upon them if they longer persisted in this ungenerous struggle against the best interests and good sense of the other classes. The right hon. Baronet wished to save them from that disgrace, and he offered to them the opportunity of a fair and honourable retreat. If they did not accept the offer, all the responsibility of the consequences would rest upon themselves.


quite agreed with one observation at least which had fallen from the hon. Member, and it was this, "That incoherence of argument evinced the presence of fear." That he could understand. The hon. Member had said that the exportation of bullion did not injure the country; and to prove this he had made a commencement at a certain year, as an approach to what would happen. Now, to his apprehension, to approach a point was not touching the point itself. He had himself been very near the fire, but he had not been burned. The hon. Member also found fault with the hon. Member for Newark, because he had said a famine in Ireland had been the cause of the measure now before the House, though he had stated this famine not to be a sufficient reason for the change. He did not see the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard in his place, or he would address himself to him; but others said, as well as that hon. Member, that those who sat on the protectionist side of the House, were not consistent, inasmuch as the Conservative Members said they did not believe in the distressed state of Ireland, and yet professed a readiness to do good to the country and adopt measures to remove its distress. But all the Conservatives wished to say was this, that if Ireland was more than usually distressed, they would be happy to join with the right hon. Baronet to relieve that distress. No proofs had been offered to the House that any distress, beyond the usual distress, existed in that country. It had also been said by the Member for Liskeard, that the protectionists had agitated for a dissolution. He had understood, however, that the constituency of Liskeard were not so enamoured of free trade as they had been, and therefore it was not wonderful that the prospect of a dissolution was distasteful to the hon. and learned Member. With respect to the measure of the right hon. Baronet, much injury must arise from it to the landed interest, because, on the shores of the Baltic, in Russia, and in the north of Germany, good land could be had at 12s. per acre; and labour, it was well known, was much cheaper than in this country. Could that measure be good which reduced the farmer to a condition of suffering, and would drive the labourer to the workhouse? The right hon. Baronet should not have given way to the cry of the Anti-Corn-Law League. The right hon. Baronet did, perhaps, imagine, after the passing of the present measure—for it was said the measure was to pass—that the Anti-Corn-Law League would disperse. But that body would not only not disperse, but they would agitate for something else. Their next attempt might be against the Church of England; and every branch of the British Constitution might be in its turn attacked. The noble Marquess concluded by expressing his regret that the right hon. Baronet had given way before this first of a series of attacks upon the Constitution of Great Britain.


did not desire to waste the time of the House by the expression of merely his own sentiments; but his constituents naturally wished to hear his opinions upon these measures expressed in Parliament, inasmuch as he had, in his addresses to them, stated that he had offered himself to them on the ground of protection, and not of free trade. He did not think Her Majesty's Government had a sufficient case to justify their adoption of this measure. He was ready to admit that the potato failure was considerable, and much to be deplored; at the same time, it had appeared to him to have been much exaggerated by the panic which had been caused upon the subject; and his opinion was that this measure ought not to have been formed on such a basis. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) had endeavoured to convince the House of the necessity for the measure on the ground of the potato failure, in opposition to the able statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Recorder of Dublin; but when he found that the price of potatoes in Ireland was but about 4d. per stone, he must say he could not understand how famine could exist in that country, inasmuch as he could not conceive that 1s. a stone added to the price of potatoes, could produce a result which could amount to famine. He had himself, too, taken the trouble to ascertain what had been the average prices of potatoes in several parishes for the last six years, in comparison with the price for five previous years; and he found that, taking 404 parishes, there were in that number 107 towns in which the price in the present period was not more than it was in previous years; that there were 295 out of 404 in which the price had risen; that, out of these, the price in 11 towns had been ¼d. per stone higher than the previous average price; in 59 towns ½d. per stone higher; in 10 towns ¾d. higher; and in 57 towns 1d. per stone higher; leaving, altogether, 158 out of the 404 towns in which the price was 1d. per stone higher than the price of average years. Now, he must say, that this appeared to him to be a very strong argument against the alleged necessity for this measure on the ground of a potato famine. He could easily understand the force of the arguments of the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, after the Returns made to him from the Mansion House Committee, of which Lord Cloncurry was Chairman, and particularly when that Report contained expressions of so fearful a character, which the experience of four months, however, had not borne out. It was asked that the ports of Ireland should be closed against the exportation of oats and oatmeal; and he confessed his surprise that the Government had not taken a course of that kind, following the example which had been so laudably set them by foreign Governments. He firmly believed that the measure before the House would have a most injurious effect upon agriculture in general; and that the corn of this country would under its operation be reduced to a lower average price than had been known for the last six or seven years. Having quoted from Adam Smith, and other writers on political economy who were in favour of free trade, to show that the result would be, that corn would become not only lower in price, but that it would remain stationary at such diminished value, the hon. Member contended, that if there was to be any compensation given to the landed interest for the losses they would sustain, the removal of the burdens on land ought to have been a question to be considered in conjunction with this measure. It was the high prices of former times which had brought a great portion of the lands of this country—and particularly such large districts as that of the Bedford Level—into cultivation; and viewing this measure in connection with our colonial dependencies, he believed that the Colonies would also assert their right to have free trade; and that, whereas a sort of free trade did already exist between India and the States of Asia, they would, in a year or two, have a free trade between India and the States of Europe and America. If the colonial trade was of the great value it had always been considered, he wished, to know why they should do it this injury? During the five years ending with 1844, the value of exports from this country to her different Colonies was 13,500,000l.; and he thought it would be wise for them to consider the probable extent of their foreign trade before they exposed their Colonies to be injured to such an extent, as they naturally must be under this Bill. The hon. Member read several statements as to the great amount of the grain products of America, and particularly in regard to Indian corn, which he contended would come into extensive competition with our native agricultural produce, and concluded by expressing his intention to oppose the measure.


was desirous of stating why it was that he felt himself compelled to take a different course in regard to this question, from that at any time expected to be in reference to any measure emanating from the present Government benches. He was not in the House during the last discussion of this question, not because he then entertained a different opinion upon it from that which he now held, but because he could not think it right to oppose a Motion for going into Committee upon a Resolution introduced by Her Majesty's Government; and upon a subject which had formed a prominent paragraph in the Speech which had been delivered by Her Majesty to her Parliament. He had, therefore, abstained from voting on that occasion, because he was reluctant to be numbered among the supporters of a measure of which he disapproved. They had now, however, arrived at a further stage of the measure, and he could not refuse to take a straightforward part, whether in support of, or in opposition, to it. In the course he felt himself compelled to adopt, he could not but own that he felt the greatest reluctance in coming to a decision that would place him among the opponents of those with whom he had hitherto acted since he had been in Parliament, and to whom he was disposed to give every credit for the sincerity of their motives for the change of opinion which, upon this subject, they had adopted. But he was anxious to guard himself against its being supposed that he at all coincided in that laudatory view which the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard had taken of those changes of opinion; for the hon. Member seemed to think that the more people changed the better they were—leaving the impression strong upon his mind, that, at an early period of his life, the hon. and learned Gentleman must have been a Conservative. However anxious he had been to agree in the views of Her Majesty's Government upon this question, and though he admitted that it was quite open to them to change their opinions, yet his own opinions were not formed in the same way as theirs: he could not turn so short; for, indeed, the shortness of the notice itself made it quite impossible for him to coincide with them in their views. They appeared to him, also, to have changed their opinions on too slight grounds; for it was really absurd to suppose that the real grounds for that change could be that which they had advanced in reference to Ireland. He could not refrain from thinking that the right hon. Baronet had attached more importance to the subject than the nature of it warranted; and he inclined to the opinion, that the right hon. Baronet had also seized upon certain foregone conclusions that had for some time occupied his mind, and had made the change in Ireland a ground for carrying out those important conclusions. He begged the House to look at the consequences that had resulted from the right hon. Baronet having connected two things not necessarily connected. He had deferred the contemplated relief to be administered to the people of Ireland from January to June; for Ireland could not feel the benefit of any law that might pass at the present Session until the month of June. But again, was it, he would inquire, necessary, if the right hon. Baronet had separated Indian corn from wheat (for he had admitted that there had been no precedent in favour of admitting wheat before the Bill became law by passing both Houses of Parliament, and receiving the royal sanction, though he had admitted Indian corn), that he should have made so extensive a change for the purpose of relieving any extent of famine in Ireland? He (Mr. Mildmay) admitted, that between the conflicting accounts that had been laid before the House and the public, he was at a loss to form a correct opinion as to the grounds for such apprehensions, especially when he recollected, in the autumn of last year, that an attempt had been made, which attempt, however, had been unsuccessful, to make the people of England believe that famine would also visit them. This not succeeding, the scene had been transferred to Ireland. He deeply felt the statement that had reached him respecting the distress in that country; and if distress existed to half the extent that had been represented, he thought that every Irishman in the House ought to be indignant with the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government for having so long postponed that relief which the circumstances of the country, if correctly stated, most imperatively demanded. If it were for the interests of the country generally, that so important a change should be effected, it became incumbent upon the right hon. Baronet to show not only the necessity but the safety of the measures he had proposed to the House for adoption. Now, with respect to the necessity, setting aside Ireland, which he never considered should have been mixed up with the question; and if he had not had a high opinion of those whom he had formerly supported, he would say that the apprehension of a famine in Ireland had been mixed up with the measure from an anxious attempt to make hon. Members surrender their judgment to their leader. He did not, however, believe that in the measures that had been lately proposed, Her Majesty's Ministers were actuated by any such feelings; but supposing a designing man to have changed his opinions, and on that account wished to force others to adopt his altered view of things, he could have conceived such an expedient as mixing up an alleged calamity with other matters for the purpose of obtaining a particular end. He begged, however, to be understood that he acquitted the Government from any such charge. With respect to the state of commercial affairs demanding the change, he believed that in the autumn of the last year, as far as his information upon the subject permitted him to give an opinion, all the interests of the country were in a state of prosperity. At the present moment it was true there might be some depression in the manufacturing districts; but he believed that stagnation might be assimilated to the courser inhaling new breath previous to a fresh start, and not to a general depression. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had stated the probability of some change of the kind taking place, which might have caused some temporary inconvenience, but which could not have led to any permanent disarrangement. Next came the question whether, if the right hon. Baronet thought the change necessary, he was well-grounded in thinking that it could be adopted with safety? He was decidedly of opinion, looking at the ultimate effect, that the safety of adopting such a measure would be extremely questionable. He could not say that he was apprehensive of bad results this year, or probably the next; but from his own experience he regarded in a dubious point of view the assurance which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had made—namely, that the conclusion he had arrived at was, that the effect upon agriculture would be very slight. The right hon. Baronet had, however, refrained from stating the extent of the effect which he considered the passing of this measure would have upon the agricultural interest. He had great respect for the right hon. Baronet; but he could not adopt his opinions upon this subject to the exclusion of his own. When he brought to mind the low price of corn at the Continental ports, and the facility for its cheap production in foreign countries, he could not imagine how Her Majesty's Ministers could satisfy themselves in bringing forward a measure having for its object the total annihilation of all protection to native produce. With such facts before him as the returns of the averages at foreign ports, he could not permit the assurance of the right hon. Baronet to lull his alarms. He feared the measure would pass, and he regretted it, for he apprehended that the greatest injury would ensue to this great community, but more particularly to that section of the agricultural body who cultivated poor lands, and who must be seriously injured by a diminution of prices. True it was that after a time poor lands might be converted into pasture land; but then it could only be by an arrangement with the landlord, because such conversions were often attended with very considerable expense. He believed that so inexhaustible was the quantity of foreign corn, that unless our prices were brought to the level of the continental, the deluge of continental corn would be immense. They would find that the soil and climate of the southern States of America were peculiarly adapted for the cultivation of the cotton plant, and that the price of cotton in those States regulated the price of cotton to the producers of that article in other parts of the world. This remark held equally good with respect to indigo; and as it applied to cotton and indigo, so it would apply to foreign corn, for the price of the latter grain in the greatest market would be sure to regulate the price in all other places. He would not say that Government should not adapt the Corn Laws to the circumstances of the country; but he did not think that anything had occurred to justify the proposal of a total abolition. If they had brought forward a measure proposing a lower scale of duties for three years, or perhaps a fixed duty, with the view of seeing the effect of such a measure, he would have said that they had acted like cautious people, and that there was nothing like the rashness of the present proposal about it; but he confessed he did not see the sense of their pledging themselves in 1846 as to what they would do in 1849, when the three intervening years might show them that they were in a wrong course. And if he thought this unwise in any one, he thought it peculiarly unwise in a Government which in 1842 did not know what they were to do in 1846, and who in 1846 repudiated their own measure of 1842. For these few reasons he should give his vote against the second reading of this Bill. If he wanted other reasons, he should find them in one of the paragraphs of Her Majesty's Speech, or rather the Speech which the Government had put into the mouth of Her Majesty, at the commencement of the Session, because he thought that the measures were not accompanied with such precautions as would prevent permanent loss to the revenue, or injurious results to any of the great interests of the country. Before sitting down he wished to say a few words upon the petitions which had been presented at the commencement of this stage of the discussion by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government. These petitions were said to have been signed by most of the respectable merchants of Liverpool and Manchester, and complained that the trade of the country was in a state of great stagnation in consequence of the prolongation of the discussion. Now he did not think it necessary to ask hon. Members to rely on his assertion; but he begged to state it as a fact, and let any Gentleman connected with the trade of the country contradict him if he asserted what was not the case, that the stagnation affected every article, whether it were in the Tariff or not. Sugar, tea, coffee, and cotton, were equally in a state of stagnation with the articles in the Tariff. But, if the right hon. Baronet had asked the persons who signed these petitions whether or not there were any extensive engagements that parties in Lancashire and the north of England had entered into with the great railroads, and whether these did not interfere with the course of trade, he would have found out that these were much more likely to have caused the embarrassments in trade under which the country was now labouring, than the allegations made in the petition presented by the right hon. Baronet. When the noble Lord opposite should come into power—as he was likely soon to do—he would find the same distress which the country was now suffering, if some means were not discovered of checking the immense absorption of capital; and the noble Lord would probably be charged with being the cause of that distress, to which he would be as little amenable as the Government of the right hon. Baronet was to the credit of the prosperity which succeeded their accession to office in 1842. He believed that that success had nothing to do with the change of Government—that it was the inevitable consequence of three or four years' previous depression of trade; and he believed that if the country had never been blessed with the present Government, we should have had the same number of years of prosperity as we had had under their rule. He believed also that the present stagnation was partly attributable to the immense exports of last year. The hon. Gentleman concluded by declaring his intention to vote against the second reading of the Bill.


said: Sir, the hon. Gentleman who spoke last appears to have repented of the neutrality which he observed on a former occasion, and to have determined to make up for that neutrality by the sharpness of his present attack. I have heard, indeed, from one hon. Gentleman, the Member for Newark, a young Member of this House, that I have been treated with marked forbearance during the discussion upon this measure. I think, then, that under the circumstances I might have expected a little more indulgence from the hon. Member for Winchester. I did, it is true, present two petitions, one from Manchester, and one from Liverpool; and the hon. Gentleman is so captious, that he finds even in the performance of that duty grounds for making an attack upon me. All I did, however, was to state the prayer of these petitions. The petitioners are connected with the manufacturing and commercial interests of the country; and I think that the hon. Gentleman, considering the community of occupation between himself and the petitioners, might have allowed them unquestioned to speak for themselves. The petition from Manchester was signed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce—a body entertaining strong political opinions, and many of whom have been connected with the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws. In order, however, to show the unanimity of opinion which prevailed upon this question, the petition was also signed by the President of the Commercial Association—a body holding political opinions of an opposite tendency to those entertained by the Chamber of Commerce; but they, notwithstanding, on this subject came to the same conclusion. To the same conclusion came all the bankers of Manchester; as did also, I believe, the vast majority of the inhabitants of that town connected with great manufacturing establishments. These parties concurred in addressing a petition to this House; and they concurred in attributing the stagnation of trade to the prolongation of the debates; and expressed their opinion that the stagnation will continue until the decision of this House shall be finally pronounced upon the question: praying, therefore, that the House will, at as early a period as may be consistent with mature deliberation, come to a decision upon the subject. Sir, the hon. Gentleman is a proof of how exceedingly difficult it would be to devise any measure connected with the Corn Laws which shall please all parties. But I think the hon. Gentleman stands almost alone in this House upon this question. The hon. Gentleman who so violently attacks the measures of the Government, says, if we had proposed a cautious measure of this nature—that the scale of duties which I propose to exist for three years should be carried into execution, and at the end of that period there should be a fixed duty—he would have been inclined to vote for such a proposal. He has not quite made up his mind whether he would vote for it or not; but still he is so favourably disposed towards it that he thinks he should have been inclined to adopt it. Well, I think he is the only man in the House who would have supported that proposition. The hon. Gentleman makes another charge against me, at which I am somewhat surprised. He says, that every Irish Member ought to be indignant with me for interposing delay, instead of relieving the distress which prevails in Ireland. Indignant with me! I am not conscious of occasioning any delay. Circumstances may have interposed obstacles for which I feel regret; but that the hon. Gentleman has any right to rouse the indignation of the Irish Members against me for interposing delay in the way of extending relief to the distress which prevails in Ireland, I entirely deny; and it is a charge which I think cannot be fairly made against me by any hon. Member of this House. I am extremely unwilling, at this protracted stage of the debate, to refer to personal matters; and were I a private individual, I would pass by all such accusations as I have heard made against me. I am so conscious of having acted throughout from pure and honourable motives, I am so supported by the conviction that I have abandoned no duty, and betrayed no trust—[Interruption]—well, if it be your impression that I have, at least after the accusations which have been preferred, you will concede to me the privilege of defence, and will listen with patience to the answer which I have to give you. Observe, throughout these debates I have not quarrelled with any man for offering his opposition to the opinions which I now profess. I have respected in others the maintenance of their former opinions. I knew not by whom the measures which I proposed would be supported on this side of the House. I can say with truth, that I have attempted to influence no man. I have listened to the attacks made upon me with sorrow, but not with anger. I admit it is natural that hon. Gentlemen should retain their opinion; but if they do not respect in me that privilege which I concede to them, at any rate I entreat them, from a sense of justice, to hear with patience my defence. As I said, if I were a mere private individual, strong in the conviction that I have acted from nothing but a sense of duty, and from pure and honourable motives, I would have let these accusations pass by; but I am not in the situation of a private individual, and it is right that, as Minister of the Crown, I should vindicate from the attacks made upon it my conduct as a Minister of the Crown. I have been asked—it is not, I know, quite regular to refer to former debates, and I shall not encroach upon the rule of the House by express reference to the debates—but the House will permit me to refer in general to the questions which were put, and to the charges which were made, since I have had an opportunity of last addressing the House. It was said then, in the course of the late debate, that I had expressed an opinion that the charge of this measure for the adjustment of the Corn Laws would have been committed with much greater propriety to other hands than mine. And yet it was observed that I had proposed to the Cabinet to undertake the conduct of this measure, and that if the Cabinet had been unanimous the conduct of it would have been committed to my hands. Further, it was remarked that there was thus an apparent inconsistency between the opinion that it would have been better to submit the proposition to other hands, and my undertaking, had the Cabinet concurred with me, to propose the permanent adjustment of this question, as a consequence of the temporary suspension of the law. Sir, I did pronounce an opinion that it would have been better, under any ordinary circumstances, that others more entitled than I am to the credit of the success of this measure, should have had the conduct of it. And yet it is true that in the Cabinet I did propose, if the Cabinet concurred with me, to undertake the task of submitting the proposition to Parliament. On the 1st of November, I proposed, in concurrence with my right hon. Friends the Secretary at War and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, upon the ground of the reports from Ireland, to take that precaution against impending danger which I thought was a natural precaution, namely, the suspension, either by an Order in Council or an Act of Parliament, of those laws prohibiting the importation of foreign corn. I renewed that proposition at the close of the same month. I believe, had the measure proposed been simply the suspension of the Corn Laws, with a guarantee that the existing system should revive, I believe—I have no grounds for not believing — that there would have been no very serious difference of opinion on the subject. There might have been a difference of opinion as to the extent of the danger in Ireland; but had the measure been merely a suspension with a guarantee of revival, or at least that I would propose the continuance of the existing law, I am not sure that we should have had any difference of opinion on the matter. But I did distinctly refuse—I here admit it—I did distinctly refuse to undertake a guarantee for the revival of the existing law at the end of the period of suspension, and I did it upon these grounds. As I said before, I thought that suspension was a becoming and necessary measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Recorder of Dublin says that we were deluded by accounts from Ireland. He admits, however, that he was alarmed at the outset, and that the prevailing feeling through Ireland was one of alarm; but then he talked of as unfounded the reports made from time to time by official bodies in Ireland, It is very easy for an individual to neglect those reports; but those responsible for the well-being of the country—deeply responsible should famine and disease come without precautions being taken to meet them—what are they, what is a Government to do—a Government receiving reports from all quarters—from the highest authorities—from private parties the most disinterested—what, I ask, would be the position of a Government which should meet such warnings with neglect? The alarm may turn out to be unfounded, and the precautions, therefore, superfluous; but do you think that when there is good ground, probable ground, for expecting a general and wide-spread famine, do you think that a Government ought, in such a case, to neglect to take precautions, even should those precautions turn out to be superfluous? Are you to hesitate in averting famine which may come, because it possibly may not come? Are you to look to and depend upon chance in such an extremity? Or, good God! are you to sit in Cabinet, and consider and calculate how much diarrhœa, and bloody flux, and dysentery a people can bear before it becomes necessary for you to provide them with food? The precautions may be superfluous; but what is the danger where precautions are required? Is it not better to err on the side of precaution than to neglect it utterly? I say that, with the reports received by Government, in my opinion we should not have been justified in neglecting that precaution. Of course, then, the question arose, "What will you do when the period of suspension shall have terminated?" Will you guarantee the revival of the law? That question was put to me. I said at once I cannot, and for many reasons. In the first place, in the last Session of Parliament I expressed a decided opinion that you could not long continue to apply different principles in respect to agriculture from those you had applied to other articles of commerce. I am told I made a sudden turn—that I surprised every one. Well, hear my defence. Speaking on the Corn Law, in the course of last Session, on the Resolution of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, while I opposed that Resolution, I stated that I could not defend the existing law on many of the grounds on which it had theretofore been defended. I could not say that I thought the rate of wages varied with the price of corn. I could not defend the law on the ground that we ought to be independent of foreign supply. I stated expressly then, that in my opinion the same principle which formed our ordinary commercial policy must also be applied to agriculture. I was followed by the noble Lord the then Member for Sunderland (Earl Grey), who began his speech by stating expressly that I had made no objection to the first Resolution of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. Here are his words—he said— In Sir Robert Peel's speech there had not been one word uttered attempting to contradict the two first Resolutions of his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton. Had the last Resolution been worded to the effect 'that it was expedient that all restrictions on the importation of corn be gradually abolished,' the right hon. Baronet's speech would have been an unanswerable speech in support of the hon. Member's Motion. Such was the speech of the noble Lord. Now what was the resolution of the Protection Society in the month of December? Hear it, and say whether the late declaration of opinion in my case can be considered as so sudden or surprising. The Protection Society, I say, came to this resolution:— That, in consequence of the declarations made by several leading Members of Government during the last Session of Parliament, it was evident that a further reduction would be attempted in the already greatly diminished amount of protection now afforded to agriculture, and that, in consequence of such interpretation being put on these declarations, an impression, well or ill-founded, is circulated, calculated to destroy all confidence in the stability of the present Corn Laws, and to arrest the progress now making in the improvement of inferior lands. Such was the resolution of the Protection Society in December last, before they were or could be aware of the measures to be proposed by Government. [Mr. HUDSON made a remark, which did not reach the gallery.] Will the hon. Member for Sunderland have a little patience? His turn will come. Really these interruptions are very unpleasant. I continue then. When the question was put whether I would undertake a guarantee for the revival of the existing law, I said distinctly that such a guarantee on my part, after the opinions which I had expressed, would be inconsistent with my former declaration. Such a revival must have implied the permanent maintenance of the Corn Law. You must have roused all your energies in defence of it. Lords, Commons, and constituencies must have united for the maintenance, the permanent maintenance, of the existing law. To such an attempt it was impossible that I could have been a party. Another ground, Sir, upon which I delined to guarantee the revival was, that I thought the very fact of suspension would make it almost impossible to induce Parliament to re-enact the present law. It would have been said, "The system has worked tolerably well in three favourable seasons, but at the first period of pressure you suspended it; you were obliged to do so." The proposal would then be, that after this suspension—that after this confession of the law's weakness—this impeachment of its adequacy—you should, notwithstanding, urge at the termination of the period of suspension its permanent revival. Sir, I confess I did not think that a very wise course to adopt. It has been justly remarked, during the progress of this debate, that when the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell), seeing how difficult it would be at times of scarcity to maintain a fixed duty, purposed that a power should be given to the Crown, by an Order in Council, to suspend that fixed duty—it has been truly stated that when that proposition was made, I decidedly objected to conferring such a power on the Crown. I stated that it would be futile, because the Crown, having once exercised the power of suspending the fixed duty, I felt assured, in the present state of public opinion on the Corn Laws, that it would be most difficult, or even impossible, to reimpose the duty. Now, the difficulty involved in the course proposed to me for adoption would be the same, with the difference that the fixed duty would be much lower than the actual amount of the sliding-scale. The proposal, in fact, would be that the sliding scale having failed in its first exposure to severe trial, and it being thus found necessary to suspend it—the proposal would be, that after that suspension the same principle, worked out by the same machinery, should be re-enacted—should be again adopted. Well, supposing this course to have been adopted, at what period would it have been settled that the revival was to take place? The duties might have been suspended until September next. In the month of July, a few weeks before the time Parliament must separate, what would have been the state of this House on the question of whether or no the suspension should continue? Supposing there were entertained the apprehensions which I felt, and which I still feel, that this potato disease is not a mere temporary calamity—suppose there should be good grounds, probable grounds, for believing that the potato crop of next year would also be affected — suppose there should be, as there will be, disease in Ireland in consequence of want of food—suppose all these contingencies to occur—could the proposal, under the circumstances, be made that the old law should be permitted to revive? Further, suppose you are to have such a July as you had last season—such a month of continued rain as that which last year made "the boldest hold his breath for a time," would it have been, I put it to you, would it have been under these circumstances possible to have agreed to a renewal of the old law? Sir, I was not insensible to the progress of public opinion on this point. I do not say yield to it—yield to public opinion against your convictions; but I do say that that man is unworthy of holding office who disregards the progress of public opinion on such a question as the Corn Laws; and whether or no they are to be re-enacted after a period of suspension. You say they have been already suspended and already re-enacted. You say they were suspended in 1765 and in 1793; and that on both those occasions they were re-enacted, and that precedents are all in favour of their being re-enacted. Why, good God! can any man be so blind to the progress of public opinion on the Corn Laws since the year 1765, as to say that you can apply that precedent, and because the Legislature of that day could re-enact prohibitive duties, do you mean to say that we could do it now? If you act upon such principles—if you pay regard to such narrow, technical, Parliamentary precedents, without reference to public opinion, then I tell you that you will involve the country in a month in inextricable confusion. I am unwilling to make any statement now; but as I foresaw, when this proposition was made, it would break up the Government, and as I have the permission of Her Majesty to give any explanation with respect to the causes which led to that dissolution of the Government, I will rather than enter into any statement, read to the House the declaration I made of the ground on which I acted, and which, as I foresaw it would be of great importance, I made at the time in writing; that statement of my opinions I will now read. This was on the 26th of November, after the Government had instituted an inquiry into the apprehended scarcity, and taken precautions against the spread of fever that might be the consequence of that scarcity; in the instructions then issued, my right hon. Friends cordially concurred. But I foresaw that the issue of those instructions would compel a suspension of the law restricting the importation of food. And this is the very point at which I wish to arrive—whether I should undertake after the suspension to propose to Parliament the adjustment of the Corn Laws. I did undertake it, and under these circumstances: As I could not propose the revival of the existing law—as I thought any slight alterations in the details of the present sliding-scale, any slight modifications, would be utterly unavailing for the permanent adjustment which would be the legitimate consequence of suspension: I did undertake to do that which in ordinary circumstances I certainly think ought to have been undertaken by others, and I did engage to meet the existing emergency, and to become responsible for all the consequences of suspension. I drew up then, and I read to my Colleagues, the memorandum I hold in my hand previously to the dissolution of the Cabinet.—The right hon. Baronet then proceeded to read the following document:— I cannot consent to the issue of these instructions, and undertake at the same time to maintain the existing Corn Law. Slight modifications of the existing law, as the consequence of these instructions, or immediately following them, would, in my opinion, answer no good end. The proposal of them would add to the difficulty of defending that portion of the Corn Law which it was sought to maintain. I think we ought to suspend the operation of the existing law for a limited period. There is conflicting evidence as to the degree of pressure from the scarcity of food; but there is that probability of severe pressure a few months hence that would in my opinion amply justify the precautionary measure of unrestricted import. We have written authority which would justify it, written authority which, should the anticipations of those from whom we receive it prove correct, would impose on us a heavy responsibility for having neglected a precaution which has been taken in former periods of scarcity in this country, and by some countries in Europe within the last week. But, independently of these considerations, the issue of these instructions fully justifies, if it does not requite the temporary removal of impediments to the free import of corn. They contain a proof not only that the crisis is great—not only that there is the probability of severe suffering from the scarcity of food; but the proof that we are ourselves convinced of it. It appears to me that the suspension of the Corn Law would be the course most consistent with these instructions. I will not refer to the preceding discussions in the Cabinet; but the issue of these instructions, placing on record our deliberate conviction as to the possible extent of the evil with which we have to contend as a new event. By acting now, the lapse of time since we last met in Cabinet would be accounted for. I am prepared for one to take the responsibility of suspending the law by an Order in Council, or of calling Parliament at a very early period, and advising in the Speech from the Throne the suspension of the law. I conceal from myself none of the difficulties that attend a suspension of the law. Suspension of the law will compel a very early decision on the course to be pursued in anticipation of the period when the suspension would expire. Suspension will compel a deliberate review of the whole question of agricultural protection. I firmly believe that it would be better for the country that that review should be undertaken by others. Under ordinary circumstances I should advise that it should be so undertaken; but I look now to the immediate emergency, and to the duties it imposes on a Minister. I am ready to take the responsibility of meeting that emergency, if the opinions of my Colleagues as to the extent of the evil, and the nature of the remedy, concur with mine. I, therefore, Sir, thought that the adjustment of the Corn Laws would be the natural consequence of the suspension of the laws. I felt that it would be inconsistent with my duty to suspend the law, and then to run away and leave it to others to deal with the consequences. I was prepared then to propose an adjustment of the question of duties on foreign corn—I was prepared to do so had my Colleagues agreed with me, notwithstanding the declaration which I made then, and which I repeat now, that under ordinary circumstances I should have preferred that the task should have been left to other hands than mine. If there be any inconsistency in that, I am ready to incur the blame of it; but I confess I think the course I adopted, the natural and fitting course for a Minister in my position. I was, however, in a minority in the Cabinet. When there was no longer unanimity amongst my Colleagues, I despaired of success in carrying the measures I intended, and therefore the Cabinet was dissolved. My hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire blames me very much because, after resigning, I wrote a letter to Her Majesty stating the course I intended to pursue. He says that was a most unconstitutional and a most unusual act. Unusual I admit it to be, but the circumstances were altogether unusual. Unconstitutional I cannot admit it to be. That a Privy Councillor should state to his Sovereign what course under very peculiar circumstances he was prepared to pursue, I cannot admit to be unconstitutional. A Peer has a right to seek an audience of Her Majesty, and tender his advice; a Privy Councillor has a right to do so also. True, my official relation to Her Majesty had terminated; I was no longer a Minister, but being a Privy Councillor I conceived I had a perfect right to intimate to Her Majesty—I did it with a view of preventing embarrassment—having advised certain measures, having been prepared to propose them as a Minister, I had a right to state what those measures were, and that, as a private Member of Parliament, I would give to them a cordial support. And what were the circumstances under which that assurance was conveyed? My hon. Friend says that I prevented the formation of a Conservative Government—of a Protection Government, I mean. I did no such thing. [Mr. BANKES: What I said was, that you prevented a dissolution of Parliament.] The circumstances under which I wrote that letter, which my hon. Friend complains of as unconstitutional, were these—[Mr. G. BANKES] — I beg pardon, I did not say unconstitutional.] Oh, then, the whole matter falls to the ground. [Mr. G. BANKES: I said it was unprecedented and dangerous as an example.] Well, that is very like unconstitutional. An hon. Member, I think, told the House that he did not say "gross exaggeration," but "great exaggeration;" and now my hon. Friend tells us, that he did not say "unconstitutional," but "unprecedented and dangerous." Unprecedented! and were not the circumstances unprecedented? I felt it my duty—my right hon. friends around me took the same view, and felt it their duty—to quit Her Majesty's service; it was distinctly intimated to me that those of my Colleagues who differed from me were not prepared to form a Government themselves, nor yet to advise the formation of a Government upon the principle of protection; the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and Lord Lansdowne declined to undertake the Government, until they had an assurance that others, who might be presumed to have a majority, were not ready to undertake the Government. Her Majesty sent for the noble Lord opposite—the noble Lord was in a minority of ninety—and it was proposed by Her Majesty to him that he should undertake the formation of a Government. The circumstances were unusual; but I ask any man to judge whether under such circumstances the course which I took in giving an assurance to Her Majesty that the measures on the subject of the Corn Law which I was willing to propose as a Minister, I would cordially support as a private Member of Parliament, was either justly blameable or dangerous to the State? Of course the noble Lord was entitled to ask, "What are my prospects, I do not say of carrying on the Government permanently, but of adjusting the Corn Law? Nothing could induce me to undertake it excepting the prospect of success; what is the support I may expect?" I anticipated any such question, by enabling Her Majesty to inform the noble Lord of the course I had myself taken; and as others were not prepared to form a Government, I felt it my duty to intimate to Her Majesty that I would cordially support the measures I had advised in office. If it is unprecedented, it is because the circumstances are unprecedented; but I see nothing in it either blameable or dangerous in the slightest degree as an example. But my hon. Friend says, he did not object to it as impeding the formation of a protection Government, but as preventing a dissolution; and my hon. Friend and others have blamed me for not advising a dissolution of Parliament. In my opinion it would have been utterly inconsistent with the duty of a Minister to advise a dissolution of Parliament under the particular circumstances in which this question of the Corn Law was placed. Why should it be so utterly impossible for this Parliament to deal with the present proposition? After its election in 1841, this Parliament passed the existing Corn Law which diminished protection; this Parliament passed the Tariff, destroying altogether the system of prohibition with respect to food; this Parliament passed the Canada Corn Bill; why should it exceed the functions of this Parliament to entertain the present proposition? But, upon much higher ground, I would not consent to a dissolution. That indeed, I think, would have been "a dangerous precedent," for a Minister to admit that the existing Legislature was incompetent to the entertainment of any question; that is a precedent which I would not establish. Whatever may have been the circumstances that may have taken place at an election, I never would sanction the view that any House of Commons is incompetent to entertain a measure which is necessary for the well-being of the community. If you were to admit that doctrine, you would shake the foundations on which many of the best laws are placed. Why, that doctrine was propounded at the time of the Union between England and Ireland, as it had previously been at the time of the Union between England and Scotland; it was maintained in Ireland very vehemently; but it was not not maintained in this country by Mr. Fox. It was slightly adverted to by Mr. Sheridan at the time when the message with regard to the Union was delivered. Parliament had been elected without the slightest reason to believe it would resolve that its functions were to be fused and mixed with those of another Legislature, namely, the Irish Parliament; and Mr. Sheridan slightly hinted it, as an objection to the competency of Parliament. Mr. Pitt met that objection, at the outset, in the following manner. Mr. Pitt said— The first objection is, what I heard alluded to by the hon. Gentleman opposite to me, when His Majesty's Message was brought down, namely, that the Parliament of Ireland is incompetent to entertain and discuss the question, or rather, to act upon the measure proposed, without having previously obtained the consent of the people of Ireland, their constituents. This point, Sir, is of so much importance, that I think I ought not to suffer the opportunity to pass without illustrating more fully what I mean. If this principle of the incompetency of Parliament to the decision of the measure be admitted, or if it be contended that Parliament has no legitimate authority to discuss and decide upon it, you will be driven to the necessity of recognizing a principle the most dangerous that ever was adopted in any civilized State—I mean the principle that Parliament cannot adopt any measure new in its nature, and of great importance, without appealing to the constituent and delegating authority for directions. If that doctrine be true, look to what an extent it will carry you. If such an argument could be set up and maintained, you acted without any legitimate authority when you created the representation of the Principality of Wales, or of either of the counties palatine of England. Every law that Parliament ever made, without that appeal, either as to its own frame and constitution, as to the qualification of the electors or the elected, as to the great and fundamental point of the succession to the Crown, was a breach of treaty and an act of usurpation. Then, Mr. Pitt asked, if they turned to Ireland herself, what would they say to the Protestant Parliament that destroyed the exclusive Protestant franchise, and admitted the Roman Catholics to vote, without any fresh appeal? Mr. Pitt went on:— What must be said by those who have at any time been friends to any plan of Parliamentary Reform, and particularly such as have been most recently brought forward, either in Great Britain or Ireland? Whatever may have been thought of the propriety of the measure, I never heard any doubt of the competency of Parliament to consider and discuss it. Yet I defy any man to maintain the principle of those plans, without contending that, as a Member of Parliament, he possesses a right to concur in disfranchising those who sent him to Parliament, and to select others, by whom he was not elected, in their stead, I am sure that no sufficient distinction, in point of principle, can be successfully maintained for a single moment; nor should I deem it necessary to dwell on this point in the manner that I do were I not convinced that it is connected in part with all those false and dangerous notions on the subject of Government which have lately become too prevalent in the world. Mr. Pitt contended, therefore, that Parliament had a right to alter the succession to the Throne, to incorporate with itself another Legislature, to disfranchise its constituents, or associate others with them. Why, is it possible for a Minister now to advise the Crown to dissolve Parliament, on the ground that it is incompetent to entertain the question what this country shall do with the Corn Law? There could, not be a more dangerous example, a more purely democratical precedent, if I may so say, than that this Parliament should be dissolved on the ground of its incompetency to decide upon any question of this nature. I am open to the charge, therefore, if it be one, that I did advise Her Majesty to permit this measure to be brought forward in the present Parliament. Now I am not aware of any other matter of mere personal character brought forward against me; there is no one part of my personal conduct of which I am not ready to give a full explanation; if I have omitted any, it has been unintentionally, and if any hon. Member has any question to put to me, I will answer it. Then I come to the question itself—Is it for the public interest—is it advisable, that, under the present circumstances of this country, in the present state of public opinion, we should now either refuse to modify the law, in order to meet the case of Irish distress, or that, having modified it, we should have a new Corn Law, or that we should try to adjust permanently this question? The hon. Gentleman who spoke last says— You might have dealt with maize and nothing else; maize is the food the Irish people require, and why not admit maize and nothing else? Why, if you want to undermine this Corn Law effectually, it will be done by taking such a course as that—by holding out to a people suffering under severe privation that maize is food good enough for them, and that the law as to maize shall be altered, but that as to wheat, barley, and oats you will not permit a letter of the law to be touched. If you were to venture to make such an experiment upon public opinion, you would rouse a storm of indignation against the law you attempted to maintain such as would make it impossible to maintain it. And what is it you would do with respect to maize? There is a duty of 8s. on it now. Our doctrine is, that the Government cannot support the people of Ireland; that we can do nothing without earnest local exertions; we all say that those local exertions ought to be made, that the duties of charity are imperative though they cannot be legally enforced, that it is the duty of the landlords of Ireland, and of all classes possessing property, to co-operate with us in mitigating the evils of this great calamity. It is all very well for us to pay the duty upon maize or oats, paying with one hand and taking with the other, as we distribute it to the people; but what are we to say to those whom we are inciting to acts of charity? Are we to say to them, that potatoes are failing, and other food must be supplied, but that they shall pay an 8s. duty upon maize, and an 18s. upon wheat, and there shall be no relaxation of that law? Say what you will, about this Irish distress, mitigate it as much as you please—do you think it would be possible (even with the extent to which you cannot deny that it exists), to vote half a million of money from the English Treasury for the support of the Irish people, and to incite Irish proprietors to acts of charity, and to the purchase of food for the support of the famishing people; and yet, in the face of every country in Europe that is at this moment threatened with scarcity, Holland and Belgium, the Russian provinces, and within these four or five days the whole kingdom of Bavaria, and after they have adopted that which the heart of every man tells him is the natural precaution to take, namely, the removal of impediments to the free import of food; yet, say that you will make no relaxation whatever in the existing Corn Laws? I believe that would be hardly possible. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) says he cannot deny that there does exist a great scarcity in Ireland. I took down his words. What said he? He said— I cannot deny that there is a great scarcity, and also that there is great danger of disease; but these are common things in Ireland—this is the normal state of Ireland. A large portion of the Irish people," said he, "are always living on the verge of destitution. There has been no year in my recollection when the same statement as to disease might not be made. Well, be it so; that, you will say, goes some way to nullify the argument in favour of the present proposition. But, in the face of that declaration, will you tell me that this is a labourer's question? Will you say that the maintenance of protection is for the benefit of the Irish agricultural labourer, if protection has brought him to this? In that part of the United Kingdom, which is almost exclusively agricultural, which may be said to depend on agriculture, has protection brought you to this—that, speaking of the agricultural labourers, a large portion of the Irish people are "always living on the verge of destitution?" Is it true, "that there has been no year within your recollection when the same statement might not have been made?" Well, be it as you say. Admit that this is the permanent, the usual state of Ireland—does that afford any strong argument for the maintenance of the existing Corn Laws? But you will answer, if that has been the permanent state of Ireland, why did not you introduce this measure before? Surely, however, that is no reason against our doing it now. You are so pressed by the force of the argument, that the only answer you can make is, "Why did you not do it before?" Well, no doubt we might have done it before. Perhaps we have neglected at former periods our duty; but is that any reason why we should neglect it at present? If you have a potato-fed people, and consequently many millions depending on the supply of an article of food like the potato, subject to such diminution of quantity and deterioration of quality as we have been visited with in this year—if that be the permanent state of Ireland, does it not afford a paramount reason for attempting to effect some permanent change, and not merely supplying a temporary remedy? I think to do nothing would be impossible. To modify the existing law—to propose as a permanent system such a change in the law as that proposed by the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Mildmay)—a sliding-scale for three years and then a fixed duty—such a change as that would only encourage agitation on the one hand, while by the agricultural body it would be rejected with scorn—laughed at—scouted. Such an arrangement would effect no good, produce no benefit. Then what is left? Is there any alternative but trying to lay the foundation for an ultimate adjustment, by repealing those laws? My firm conviction is, that it is for the interest of all, of the agricultural interest in particular, that this in the present state of affairs is the safest course. The hon. Member for Newark asked me repeatedly whether I meant to ruin the agriculturist interest? Sir, I attach the utmost importance to the prosperity of the agricultural interest. ["Oh!" and ironical cheers from the protection benches.] Why, I don't know for what reason I have not as much right to feel an interest in the prosperity of agriculture as any of those who received that sentiment with scorn. Why, what possible interest can I have to injure that interest? I attach the utmost importance to it. I think, for great political reasons, it is of the utmost importance that the agricultural interest should have great weight and authority in the government of this country. I think, with Burke, that land is the safest basis of political power. He says, "All the writers,"—and he quotes Aristotle as speaking of the Grecian States, and Cicero as speaking of Rome—"All the writers on politics have attached the utmost importance to land, and have declared that it is the safest basis of a sound and permanent Government." I concur in that opinion, and deeply should I deplore the day when the landed interest of this country should be excluded from its full share in its councils and legislation. But Burke adds, with equal truth, that, fortunately for this country, land has directed its councils, the reason being that the landed aristocracy and the landed proprietors have never been as a class dissociated from the general interest, but subjecting themselves to the influence and the progress of public opinion, and proving their unity of interest with all. Why, that is just the question. By what means shall we secure the continuance in the just influence of the landed interest of this country? Is it by maintaining your privileges on the ground of the exclusion of food? ["No!"] Well, then, on the ground of taxation on the importation of foreign corn? I will call it by which name you wish; it is not, certainly, the "exclusion" of food. But the question is, will it more conduce to the permanent, just, and legitimate influence of the land in this country that these Corn Laws should at length be repealed, or that they should be continued in all their integrity? Now, my firm conviction—accuse me of treachery if you please?—is, that you will fortify and maintain the influence of the land by this arrangement, rather than, in the present state of public feeling, by pertinaciously insisting on maintaining the present laws. Look, for example, at the tax on butter. That, at any rate, is not a tax of 400 or 500 years' standing. The taxes on butter and cheese were introduced within a few years. Why should the removal of those taxes be construed into any assault on the privileges of the landed interest? Let us consider the bearing of this question of the Corn Laws on the great interests of this country, upon the land and the landed aristocracy, the legitimate influence of which I hope to see maintained for ever. We have to deal with a population which by the last census, that of 1841, consisted of about 19,000,000 people. [An hon. MEMBER: Twenty-seven.] I am excluding Ireland; if I were to include Ireland in my present calculation I should greatly fortify my position. In this country we have 19,000,000 of people. Now, how are they divided? You have of persons engaged in or connected with the agricultural interest about 1,500,000, not including women and children; of landed proprietors, farmers, and occupiers of land, and persons above and under twenty years of age, employed in agriculture, about 1,500,000; you have of labourers engaged in other occupations about 761,000, including all those classes who labour in mines and quarries, and so on; of persons engaged in trade and manufactures, including all the commercial and manufacturing classes, you have 3,111,000; 200,000 persons belonging to the learned professions, including educated persons following miscellaneous occupations; 511,000 persons independent or living on their fortunes; and 200,000 paupers, lunatics, and so on. Now, just considering what a vast proportion of that great mass of people, 19,000,000 altogether—what a vast proportion of that mass consists of people who earn their subsistence by manual labour, and must subsist upon wages under 30s. a week? And just consider how taxation, wholly apart from the tax on food—just consider, I say, how taxation for the State presses on that class of the community. You raise about 32,000,000l. of taxes by the Customs and Excise. Take those articles which enter into the consumption of a family, the head of which earns less than 30s. a week. I have returns here of those articles which are in weekly use by families of that class. Now, what are these articles, independent of bread? They are butter, cheese, a little meat, bacon, lard, candles, soap, and a little tobacco. Hardly any one of those articles is free from being taxed. Lot us see what is the influence of taxation on that class of the community. It is inevitable, with a system of indirect taxation, that they must pay heavily; but I know, if the burden presses unjustly upon them, it is from no want of sympathy on the part of the gentlemen of England; it is, however, inevitable: we must raise a great part of our taxation by indirect taxes, and the burden will be unequally distributed. You have, and my belief is, that you have established a just claim to the confidence and the gratitude of this country, relieved those classes to some extent. You did take upon yourselves the burden of raising 5,000,000l. a year by means of the Income Tax, not only to supply a deficiency, but to relieve the labouring classes from some of the taxation that pressed too heavily upon them. In order that I may be perfectly accurate, I will here state, from documents which I hold in my hand, the actual consumption of a labourer, earning 10s. a week in summer, and 9s. a week in winter, he having a wife and one child. This is an actual return of the consumption of this one individual and his family. He bought four gallons of bread—but put that out of the quesion at present—he bought 1½lb. of cheese, some bacon, some salt meat, some butter, some tea and sugar, some candles, and some soap. Now, with the exception of candles, the duty on which was removed very recently, all these things are taxed. By the Tariff now proposed, we remove the duty from bacon and from salt meat, and we diminish the duty on butter and on cheese. Can you repent that I have made that proposition? The man died, leaving a widow and a child. The widow earned 4s. 6d. a week, and the guardians allowed her 1s. 6d. for the child; and this was her weekly expenditure—rent, 1s. 6d.; candle and soap, 4½d.; butter, 2¾d.; tea, 1½d.; sugar, 2d.; and with her expenditure for bread she was left with only 1s. 8d. for firing, shoes, clothes, &c., all of which it was very difficult for her to buy out of that sum of 1s. 8d. Even in that case the soap and the candles, the butter, the tea, and the sugar, all were taxed. Now, Sir, let me take the case of a Yorkshireman spending more money, living on better fare, and earning more wages. This, too, is a bonâ fide return of actual expenditure. This man earned 15s. or 16s. a week, out of which he spent 14s., and the expenditure was thus—meat, 2s.; sugar, 7d.; cheese, 7d.; soap and candles, 3½d.; butter, 8d.; tea and coffee, 1s. 6d.; and oatmeal, 7½d., making altogether 6s. 3d. What was the expenditure of that man for wheat flour? No less than 8s. a week out of 14s. Every week he had to buy three stone of flour, which, for the last few years, had ranged at 2s. 8d. a stone. Six shillings he spent upon all other necessaries, but wheat constituted the great part of his expenditure—on wheat flour he was compelled to spend more than one-half of his wages. Now, supposing the abolition of the law were to cause some reduction in the price of wheat flour—just ask yourselves this—suppose it does cause some reduction, are you not most materially adding to the comfort and the enjoyment of those classes? This is by far the most important aspect under which you can view the question. I know the real sympathy you have for the condition of the working classes. I do not agree with those who throw imputations upon your humanity. I know that the gentlemen of England are most sincere in their sympathy for the suffering of the poor, and earnestly desire to better their condition. I know that that desire actuates you as much, if not more, than any other class of the community; and I ask you to consider the expenditure of a working man, which I have laid before you. You cannot increase direct taxation with any advantage—I believe you would if you could. You raise 7,000,000l. by stamps, 5,000,000l. by the Income Tax, and 4,000,000l. by the assessed taxes. You may add to the Income Tax without at all benefiting the poor, as there are limits to this direct taxation. You may carry the tax upon capital to too great an extent, and although it falls at first upon the rich, it would end by more seriously injuring the poor than indirect taxation. Adam Smith says, "The first maxim with respect to taxation is, that every man shall contribute to the taxation of the State in proportion to the amount of property he enjoys under the protection of the State." Now, are you able to apply that maxim to the case of the Yorkshireman whose expenditure I have given you? I much doubt whether taxation does not fall much heavier on his class than upon us. The poor cannot resort to other countries where the scale of taxation is less than here. They are fixed as it were to the soil. They are tied to the labour from which they derive their subsistence, and undoubtedly taxation falls more heavily upon them than upon us. If you increase the assessed taxes, or the stamp duties, or the income tax, it does not follow that you will benefit the labourer. Indirect taxation may be more beneficial than direct taxation; but look how many of the articles which enter into the consumption of the poor man are heavily taxed; and then comes the question of bread, the expenditure on which consists of more than one-half of his income. When you say there will be a reduction in the price of corn, and that the danger is there will be some reduction in rent as a consequence, you certainly have no sympathy for those with whom corn constitutes the greater part of their weekly expenses. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn required me to state what was my calculation with respect to the future price of corn. Well, I have repeatedly declined; and I know not how it is possible for any human being to make a calculation with regard to the probable price of corn hereafter. But the noble Lord said, "Well, if you will not answer that question, there is another question which you shall answer, and to which I pin you." In 1835 the price of wheat, on the average of the year, was 39s.; and the noble Lord says, "I insist upon your telling me what would have been the price at which foreign corn might have been imported, supposing there had been no duty upon corn in the year 1835." I say to the noble Lord, I am not prepared to admit that there would have been a reduction in the price of corn; I am not prepared to admit, as a necessary consequence, that if there had been established for some time previously a free trade in corn, there necessarily would have been in the year 1835 a lower price than 39s. That is my answer, which the noble Lord thinks a monstrous one, because the noble Lord has got a list of some few cargoes of corn bought at Dantzic and other places, and brought into this country at a profit for less than 39s. [Lord G. BENTINCK: They were returns which I read.] I do not doubt the accuracy of the return, but I say it is completely beside the question. It is no sort of proof whatever, because in 1835 some cargoes of corn were brought here, having cost at Dantzic 20s., that if you had established a permanently free trade in corn, the price of wheat in this country would necessarily have been below 39s. I will give the noble Lord my reason for maintaining my proposition in opposition to his. I say there is no arguing from the price of corn upon the Continent in any given year, when the market of this country was not fully and fairly open to importation; and as the noble Lord says he relics upon Parliamentary returns, I also will rely upon Parliamentary returns. You sent Mr. Jacob, a man of great knowledge and great experience with respect to the Corn Law, in 1827, to the Continent to report upon the state of foreign corn, and you find in Mr. Jacob's report this principle laid down. He says:— In consequence of your excluding foreign corn by your high duties, there has been an accumulation of corn in many foreign markets. He then says:— It is this accumulation which depresses the agricultural interest, by the exaggerated representation of its amount when we have an abundant harvest, and by the too rapid influx whenever the harvests are deficient. I cannot think that in the years 1822 and 1823 wheat could have sunk so low as 38s. per quarter, if the ports had been opento foreign grain, and the surplus of continental Europe had been sent to this country as it was required. The penning up of wheat (continues Mr. Jacob) in countries of small extent soon creates a glut in such countries, although the quantity really accumulated there may be very minute, and such as, if distributed here, would produce no sensible decline in price. A few thousand quarters of wheat, for instance, in Holstein, Mecklenburgh, or Denmark, for which there was no foreign market, would reduce the price even below the half; the seller must take what is offered, and the reluctant buyer will offer a very low rate. A small sale fixes the price in such cases. And that is the true state of the case. I apprehend that if you encourage production abroad by the hope of an extravagant price, and a good harvest causes a great accumulation on the Continent, then you will have wheat at a very low price; the needy seller will sell, and the cunning buyer will buy, and there will be profit though the price be very low; and the noble Lord argues that this exception is the universal rule, and that under a free trade the price of corn will necessarily fall. I differ from the noble Lord, and that is my reason for saying that I am not prepared to admit that if you open the ports, and have a regular dealing in corn with foreign markets, it will necessarily follow that the price of corn will be below 39s. As the noble Lord has referred to returns, I may also refer to them. The Consuls in the different corn-producing countries were required to state what quantity of corn, of each kind, could be exported to England from the country in which they resided, if the trade in corn was made constantly free at a moderate duty. What is the answer of the Consuls? The general average of price 40s. 6d., free onboard. The general average of freight 4s.d. The average, free on board, of wheat, from St. Petersburgh, was calculated, by the British Consul, to be 39s. 1d.: freight from 4s. 6d. to 5s. At Dantzic, the price of wheat, in all ordinary years, the ports of England being open, was calculated at 40s., and the price of freight from 3s. 6d. to 4s. I am not including now the prices of landing and shipment in this country. I am only speaking of the average price of wheat and the average freight. The price at Stettin was calculated at 40s., freight from 4s. to 5s.; at Hamburgh, 35s. to 46s., freight from 2s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. Relying, then, upon the opinion of Mr. Jacob, that if you obstruct the trade in corn there will be occasional accumulations and very depressed prices, and that you will have the means of bringing it into the market on account of the accumulation at a low rate, and relying also upon the returns of your own Consuls as to what would be the probable cost of wheat in this country free on board, and the probable freight, provided there was free admission—relying upon these two Parliamentary Returns, the argument of Mr. Jacob, and the facts furnished by the Consuls, I again repeat that I am not prepared to admit that, with a free trade in corn, the price of wheat would be reduced below the 39s. 5d. which it bore in the year 1835. What was the fact? In the year 1822, of which Mr. Jacob speaks, and in the year 1835, you had no foreign import whatever; you had completely excluded foreign corn: it was not foreign competition that depressed your prices; but with full protection you had in 1822 a price of 38s., and in 1835 a price of 39s. There is no pretence for saying that the price of foreign wheat had depressed prices here. In 1822 you moved for a Committee on agricultural distress. It was stated that the agricultural interest was suffering so severely that it was necessary to inquire what remedies could be applied; and, therefore, observe, the complete exclusion of foreign corn does not ensure you either from depression in price, or from severe agricultural distress requiring the appointment of a Parliamentary Committee. Then, in 1835, the other year to which the noble Lord referred, you had no foreign competition; you had a price of 39s. 1d.; but the depression of price was entirely caused by the abundance of your own harvest. In 1836, following the example of 1822—it being impossible to allege that foreign corn had, in either case, depressed your price or caused your distress—in 1836, as in 1822, a Parliamentary Committee was appointed, for the purpose of considering what remedy could be applied to agricultural distress. I have been attempting to show, looking at the population, looking at the bearings of taxation, what immense masses of people depend for the subsistence of their families upon their weekly earnings — taking those weekly earnings at less than 30s.—what enormous masses there are in this country who so earn their subsistence, and to whom the price of wheat is of the utmost importance in their domestic economy. I have shown you that it constitutes more than one-half of the expenditure in those cases where wheat is consumed; and I ask you, could you do anything more to benefit the social condition of that class than give them an assurance that they shall have wheat at a moderate price in this country? There might be a great depression in price; but if free trade in corn gives you a guarantee against such low prices as you have had under protection, a guarantee against such high prices as you have also had under protection, would be of inestimable advantage to the working classes. Suppose the price of corn were not depressed below 50s. or below 54s., or any other sum that you can name—if you take a guarantee, by extending the sources and ranges of your supply, that it should not rise to 70s. or 80s., by that act alone you would be conferring an inestimable advantage on the working classes of this country. Surely, no hon. Gentleman can now share in the alarm that, by widening the sources of supply, we shall establish a dependence on foreign countries, because he has shown you that the more you extended the area from which you drew cotton and indigo, the more you reduced the price and equalised the supply. We are about to admit maize and many other articles of subsistence besides wheat. Suppose wheat should fail. If you suppose that foreign countries would enter into a combination not to give us their wheat, still, by the law which we propose, we should have maize to rely upon, rice to rely upon; and I confess, if the two Tariffs shall pass and receive the sanction of the Legislature, I think it impossible for any one to entertain an apprehension that, by any combination of foreign nations, we shall be in danger of being exposed to an enormous rise in the price of corn. Taking the whole of these measures together, I do not apprehend the existence of any scarcity from a reliance upon an increase of the foreign supply of corn. I have hitherto been referring to the manufacturing class; and I think Gentlemen cannot deny that those who are connected with commerce and manufactures, and who earn their subsistence by their daily labour—I think it cannot be denied that they have a direct and immediate interest in a moderate price of wheat. But it may justly be said, that to their interests the interests of the agricultural classes ought not to be sacrificed. I admit it—I admit it. I think the position of the farmer, the position of the agricultural labourer, ought to be a subject of equal concern at least with that of any other class in the country; and if we could, with truth, say that under a system of protection we had been able to exhibit a prosperous and contented class of agricultural labourers throughout the country, then I should be disposed to acknowledge that you had made out some valid objection to the proposed change. But, can we say, with truth, that throughout this country the position of the agricultural labourers has been such as I have described? [Colonel SIBTHORP: Yes.] The gallant Colonel says "yes." I say no. And I will now deal with that position—that the rate of wages of the agricultural labourer varies with the price of food. In manufacturing districts, I again say, it is my firm impression that his wages are more likely to vary inversely to the price of food, than directly. I am prepared to contend, and I think to prove, that there is no direct connexion between the wages of the agricultural labourer and the price of wheat. [A MEMBER: Yes.] If there is, then, how do you account to me for this? If the wages of the agricultural labourer vary directly with the price of wheat, why is it that wages are 8s. in Wiltshire, and 13s. in Lincolnshire? Take an agricultural county. I admit that in Lincolnshire wages are about 13s. In Kent too, for some reason or other, wages are high—they are not generally less than 13s. But take the case of those labourers who are most removed from the influence of manufactures. Take Somersetshire, Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, Cornwall—take Devonshire too. In the first place, I say that as you advance from purely agricultural districts to manufacturing districts, you find the wages of the agricultural labourer increased. But how direct is the sympathy between manufacturing prosperity and agricultural? The fact which you admit is, that in Somersetshire, Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, Devonshire, and those counties of England which are depending upon agriculture, wages are low; and in proportion as you advance to Northamptonshire and the midland counties, and on to Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, you find the wages of the purely agricultural labourer increase as you approach the manufacturing towns. Is not this a very strong proof that the prosperity of manufactures increases the demand for agricultural produce? But see the position of the agricultural labourer, and see the lesson which we ought to derive from the gradual increase of his wages. Take a purely agricultural county—Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, or other counties in the south-west of England. If there is any direct connexion between the rate of wages and the price of wheat, why are wages in those counties at the existing rate, and why are they 13s. or 14s. in the midland counties? Because great skill and industry are employed in the latter districts. That is just what I want to prove. I am trying to show that a country naturally not fertile may be brought into fertility by the use of manure and the application of skill and capital, and that the effect of these is the same as that produced by the approach to a manufacturing town—to raise the wages of the agricultural labourer. I am trying to show that there are two causes of a high rate of wages for the agricultural labourer—the application of skill and capital, as, much to the credit of the agriculturists of Lincolnshire, those means are employed in Lincolnshire, or the approach to a manufacturing town. [Colonel SIBTHORP: They get a remunerating price for their corn.] A remunerating price for their corn! There is as remunerating a price in Wiltshire and Devonshire as in Lincolnshire. In those counties the farmer has equally the protecting duty of 18s.; at present that does not vary, but the rate of wages does. The gallant Colonel must see, without much stress upon his logical faculties, that there is some other cause for the variation of the wages of the agricultural labourer. Well, but how can we say that, with protection, the position of the agricultural labourer, in a purely agricultural county, is one which we approve of. You know you cannot. Do you not admit to me that in the social condition of the millions in the manufacturing districts, who earn their subsistence by the sweat of their brow, the price of wheat is of the first importance, and has become an object of the deepest interest? Have you read the Reports on the Health of Towns? Are you not deeply convinced that some effort ought to be made to improve the social condition of the masses of the population, who earn their subsistence in the manufacturing towns? It seems to me that the first foundation of any such improvement is, that there should be abundance of food. You may talk of improving the habits of the working classes, introducing education amongst them, purifying their dwellings, improving their cottages; but believe me the first step towards improvement of their social condition is an abundance of food. That lies at the bottom of all. It is in vain, if the people are suffering under scarcity, or if any apprehension of scarcity prevails; the suffering, or the apprehension of it, so depresses the spirits, that it is vain for you to inculcate lessons of cleanliness, or to improve dwellings, until the people are provided with abundance of food. The experience of the last three years, and the experience of the three preceding years, has taught us a lesson which we ought never to forget as to the effects upon the social condition, the moral habits, and the happiness of the working classes, of an abundance of food. Is it possible to resist this conclusion from the observations that have been made? In a purely agricultural district, is it possible to say the rate of wages of the agricultural labourer has any direct connexion with the ratio of the price of wheat?—[An hon. MEMBER: Yes!] Well, now I will demonstrate that it has not. Observe, I do not mean to say that there may not be some increase in wages when prices rise. I do not mean to say that when wheat is very high, there is not an occasional increase of wages; but I think I can demonstrate that the rate of wages does not bear any proportion to the increase of price of food. I have here a return, and I will quote no figures which I am not prepared to communicate to any Gentleman connected with the counties to which they refer. They are the best test of the condition of the labourer, and communicate information which may be relied upon. I will take the variations in the price of wheat from the year 1837 down. I requested to have an account made up from the wages actually paid to agricultural labourers on particular farms from 1837 to 1844 inclusive. I begin then with the wages of agricultural labourers for eight years, from 1837 to 1844 inclusive, in the Sodbury Union, in the county of Gloucester. The labourer received money as well as beer. Here, then, is an account of the wages for the summer and winter weeks. Since 1837, the price of corn has varied very much. Why, in the present year it has varied from 45s. 1d. to 58s. 3d. I will read the price of wheat since 1837:—

In 1837 the price was 53s. 10d.
1838 64s. 7d.
1839 70s. 8d.
1840 66s. 4d.
1841 64s. 4d.
1842 57s. 3d.
1843 50s. 1d.
1844 51s. 2d.
Therefore, the price of wheat had varied from 70s. 8d. to 50s. 1d. within this period of eight years. Now, I dare say you will say, as writers upon political economy have already said, that the ultimate tendency of wages is to accommodate itself to the price of food. I must say that I do not believe it. But I should like to know what consolation it would be to the poor agricultural labourer to be told that the increase in the price of corn would have a tendency to increase his wages in perhaps a period of ten years? What consolation is it to tell him in 1839, that although he paid 70s. 8d. a quarter for his corn, he might be able to purchase it in 1843 for 50s. 1d., when it was likely there would be a close approximation in the amount of his wages within that year? But I do not believe that there is that tendency. I tell you, now, what I think is more natural, namely, a tendency rather to substitute potatoes for wheat among the people of this country. I do not mention this fact with a view of using any acrimonious language in reply to acrimonious observations. I am dealing with matters of the deepest import. The allotment system has been much extolled; the adoption of which has been very extensively recommended from, I admit, the most benevolent motives. Taking individual cases, the possession of small allotments is no doubt of very great advantage to the labourers. I believe that every one admits that within certain limits the greatest advantage would be conferred upon the poorer classes, by the adoption of this system. That it would give them great comfort, independent of the physical advantage that they would derive from it. It would also give him an interest in the soil, a healthful occupation, and by making him a landed proprietor, it would give him great social advantages. But after all, what is the tendency of such a system, if extensively carried out? Is it not to create a kind of Irish peasantry, by the substitution for their food of potatoes for wheat? You will find that this would be the case—that potatoes would be substituted for wheaten bread. According, then, as this system increases, you will be also increasing the dangers probably of such calamities as the people of Ireland are now suffering under, although, no doubt, in a much more mitigated state. Now, I should think it would be a very great calamity indeed, if we were to see potatoes used here instead of wheat. I believe that the higher the kind of food is which we introduce among the labourers, the security will be the greater for their permanent happiness and contentment. What is the fact? Just in proportion to the depressed condition of the labourers, is there a tendency amongst them to substitute potatoes for wheat. The labourer who has no allotment must depend for his subsistence upon wheat almost exclusively; and, therefore, the greatest proportion of his earnings goes for the purchase of wheat. The possession of an allotment has a tendency, no doubt, to improve immediately the condition of the labourer; but I am only speaking of the danger of carrying this system out to a very great extent, by inducing the substitution of potatoes for wheat. I have read the variations of the price of corn for several years. I will now refer to the variations in the price of labour. I do not mean that these quotations are the total amount of wages, because in harvest time there are always some additional allowances made; but these allowances are made in every year, so that we may strike these additions altogether out of our consideration. In the union to which I have referred, the price of wages averaged in snmmer 9s. a week, and 1s. for beer. The total average per week, including beer, for winter and summer, was—
In 1837 10s. per week.
1838 11s. per week.
1839 11s. per week.
1840 11s. per week.
1841 11s. per week.
1842 11s. per week.
1843 10s. per week.
1844 10s. per week.
so that while the price of wheat varied from 50s. 1d. to 70s. 8d., the price of wages in the same union within a like period varied only from 10s. to 11s. a week. From Blandford, in Dorsetshire, we had this reply:— The statement on the other side was given me by four different yeomen. It is only the first-rate labourer that gets 9s. in these parts, unless at piece-work or extra times, and then if the extra hours were reckoned up which the men work at piece-work, I do not think it would average more than 8s. to 9s. with the best men. Now, at that place the average wages were—
In 1837 the price of wages was 7s. per week.
1838 8s. per week.
1839 8s. per week.
1840 8s. per week.
1841 8s. per week.
1842 8s. per week.
1843 8s. per week.
1844 8s. per week.
Therefore, whilst the price of corn had varied from 70s. 8d. to 51s. 1d., it was 48s. 6d. in 1836; wages have only varied rom 7s. to 8s. a week. There were extra earnings, such as piece-work, harvesting, &c., as I am aware; but those, for the reason I have given, I do not reckon; they might probably amount to 1s. more each week. That is the statement of one of these yeomen near Blandford. Another farmer states that wages in 1837 were 7s.; in 1838, 7s.; 1839, 8s.; 1840, 8s.; 1841, 8s.; 1842, 8s.; 1843, 8s.; 1844, 8s. — a variation of only 1s. in the rate of wages, notwithstanding the great variation in the price of wheat during the same period. I will take the rate of wages again, in Cornwall: from the Union of Bodmin, a person writes— In reply to your letter of the 8th instant, I beg to state that the rate of wages in this union has not varied from 1837 to 1844. Labourers have been in the habit of receiving 8s. or 9s. per week, during the whole of this period. Those who have had 9s. per week, have been supplied with wheat by their employers at 8s. per imperial bushel, and barley at 4s.; whilst those who have received 8s. per week have had to pay 6s. 8d. for wheat, and 3s. 4d. for barley, whatever may have been the price of grain. Then from Barnstaple there is this communication:— I have inquired of several farmers residing in various parts of this union the amount of agricultural wages during the years 1837 to 1844 inclusive, and have ascertained that, in general, the sum paid was 8s. a week; some few farmers gave 9s.; but a much greater number only 7s. No rise or fall appears to have taken place during the eight years in question, except that in very dear seasons some employers supplied their labourers with corn at a reduced price; but I am inclined to think that they were not very numerous. I will now take East and West Suffolk; and first, East Suffolk:— The variation of wages in this neighbourhood has been from 8s. to 10s. a week from 1835 up to the present time; and within that period the price of flour has varied from 1s. 3d. to 2s. 10d. the stone of 14 lbs. That is to say, the wages increased one-fifth, while the price of flour had more than doubled. The communication proceeded— The supply of labour is greater than the demand in this neighbourhood, and the price of labour is, in fact, what the farmer chooses to give; but he invariably raises his wages and lowers them with the price of corn, thongh never in the same proportions. Consequently the poor are better off with low than with high prices. Ton will at once see that 8s. a week with flour at 1s. 3d. is better than 10s. a week with flour at 2s. 10d., supposing the man's family to require from two to three stone of flour weekly. Now, that is the state of things in East Suffolk. Next I will give you West Suffolk. The writer says— The general wages paid by the farmers of this parish have fluctuated from 9s. to 10s. per week; but the men employed at task work, such as thrashing, &c., have earned from 1s. to 2s. per week in addition. The variation in the rate of wages has certainly been caused by the fluctuations in the price of corn; but when wheat was selling at 20s. per coomb"—[a coomb is half an imperial quarter]—"I do not remember that wages were below 9s. per week; and when the farmers were realizing 35s. per coomb, 10s. per week was generally the amount of wages given. The result of my experience is, therefore, to show that although wages fluctuate, in a trifling degree, with the price of corn, they do not rise or fall in proportion to such price, and, therefore, that the labourers are best off when the prices are low. There are occasionally extraordinary additions made to the labourer's earnings, and in harvest time his earnings are always increased; but these additions apply to all years alike, and therefore I have not reckoned them. Have I not then proved that it is impossible to gainsay that the present generation—the existing race of labourers—cannot be benefited in any way by the slow adjustment between the price of food and the rate of wages? Again, I say, I doubt the position that ultimately even there is any tendency between the two to approximate. But if I have shown that in these eight years—a long period in a labouring man's life—no rise at all in wages has taken place proportionate to the rise in the price of corn, I think I have shown so far that the rate of wages has no such connexion with the prices of food as to rise with them, but rather directly the reverse. I think I have succeeded in demonstrating that the rise in price of wheat operates almost immediately in favour of the agricultural interest. I put this to you in perfect good faith and sincerity. Do you think that you can maintain this system of protection much longer? and, above all things, are you not assured that we cannot maintain the existing law upon the ground of its being advantageous to agriculture? Adam Smith, whose name has been so often mentioned in the course of these discussions, tells his readers, and probably to the satisfaction of every impartial and intelligent man, that the rate of wages depends upon the country being in a prosperous condition. When there is abundance of capital, large profits, an active and healthy condition of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, then will the rate of wages be high; and when the opposite state of things happens to prevail, then will the rate of wages be in a depressed state, and the working classes reduced to comparative poverty. General prosperity, and not legal enactments, produce a practical effect upon the rates of wages. It is by removing restrictions on manufactures and commerce that you create a demand for labour, and not by raising the price of food. Make the sustenance of mankind difficult of attainment, and you take a guarantee against the rise of wages. But remove restrictions upon agriculture, manufactures, and commerce—pass this measure — and then you at least save yourselves from the necessity and the odium of constant interference for the purpose of regulating the supply of food. And what is it that you relinquish? Well, I could prove to you, by returns from different parts of the country, not such as my right hon. Friend read to you, showing to you the extent of disease and distress, that there has been at least no panic in the price of food. I can adduce instances to you which would demonstrate this—I can point to eleven farms in Roxburgh that have become vacant since this measure was proposed, and in every one of these cases there has been an increase of rent—I can prove to you that enormous prices have been given for land in Scotland, and that where there is great capital and skill, there is no apprehension entertained as to the consequences of this measure. Even in Lincolnshire I can show you that farms have been let at an increased rent. I might, too, take the differerent counties, and show you that where there is the most agricultural skill there is the least alarm felt, and there is the greater tendency to take farms at an increased rent. Would you then, I ask, have a law maintained for bad farming and insufficient capital—that for them protection should be permanent; whereas for good farming and competent skill protection should not be required? I ask you, could such a law be justified? It is my firm belief that no general injury would follow from this measure. There may be, of course, individual cases of suffering. There will, and there must be, the suffering of property which is encumbered with tenants haying insufficient capital. There may be these individual cases; but it would be most unfair from these to draw an inference against a general law. But, admitting these few cases, let us compare the advantages which you will have in the security against ruinously high prices for food; and there will be to you the advantage and the comfort that you will not be responsible for that high price in times of scarcity of food—that these afflictions will be the results of the operations of nature and not of human laws. Leave trade free, and you will not be held responsible for untoward events over which we have not, and of necessity cannot, exercise any control. Looking, then, at the compensation which this measure furnishes; I do not mean compensation in the way of small equivalents, but, on the contrary, I refer to the security and the permancy of the law—looking to the advantages which the change now proposed must confer upon the labourer—looking to the benefits it will confer upon yourselves; I mean not merely the more obvious advantages likely to arise to your estates, but the less evident effects on the improvement of your position—seeing that you will be elevated by making this concession—I think I am not acting as the enemy of that interest, with which my own is so intimately connected, when I recommend this Bill to the acceptance of the House. I repeat that that which I advise is for the true interests of every class. I ask you, do you feel secure; and if you foresee that the present system cannot long be maintained, why will you not take advantage of a favourable time for effecting a change that very soon must come? You say that the present time is one of prosperity. Is not that a most powerful reason for making this concession? At the present moment you are free agents. An hon. Member said, that there was nothing to apprehend this year nor anything next year. Then you will not go the length of saying that you are safe for more than two years. Can there be a better proof that the present is not an unfavourable moment for effecting the alteration which this measure is intended to accomplish? Again I ask you how long do you think you can maintain the system of protection? I know, and we all know, that it cannot be made permanent consistently with that degree of good-will and harmony without which a nation cannot be happy or prosperous. No doubt the immediate cause of this measure is the sad calamity which has befallen Ireland. It has forced upon you the consideration of the corn question. But suppose that you suspended the Corn Laws, what could you have done when the time of suspension was at an end? I have not overlooked the circumstance that, respecting this Bill it has been said to be a good political manœuvre on my part. The letter of the noble Lord the Member for London, has been described as a good political manœuvre on his part. Now, I ask what possible advantage can a Bill like this confer upon me as an individual? I know that I have been taunted, and have more than once been told, that my days as a Minister are numbered. But I have introduced this measure, not for the purpose of prolonging my Ministerial existence, but for the purpose of averting a great national calamity, and for the purpose of sustaining a great public interest. I am quite aware of the fact that more than once I have been asked how long I can reckon upon the support of those hon. Gentlemen opposite, without whose votes I could not hope to carry this Bill through the House—how long, in fact, I can reckon upon enjoying their support with respect to other subjects? I know, as well as those who taunt me, that I have not any right to the support or confidence of those hon. Members. I acknowledge, and I admit that acknowledgment with perfect sincerity and plainness, that they have supported me in passing this measure, if it will pass into a law. I do not say this as private man—I do not on private grounds attach importance to it; but I feel and acknowledge every proper obligation to them as a public man, for the support which they have given to this measure, and for studiously avoiding everything calculated to create embarrassment to its progress; but then our differences remain the same. I have, Sir, no right to claim their support nor their protection, nor, I will fairly admit, shall I seek it, by departing in the slightest degree from that course which my public duty may urge me to adopt. If this measure pass, our temporary connection is at an end; but I have not the slightest right to expect support or forbearance from them; still less have I, after the declarations that have been made, a right to expect forbearance or support from this side of the House, Well then, that being the case; it being the fact, that there are but 112 Members to support me, then I may be asked what great measure of national policy I can expect to pursue with these 112 Members, constituting as they do but little more than one-sixth of the House of Commons? I am not, I say, surprised to hear hon. Members predict that my tenure of power is short. But let us pass this measure, and while it is in progress let me request of you to suspend your indignation. This measure being once passed, you on this side and on that side of the House may adopt whatever measures you think proper for the purpose of terminating my political existence. I assure you I deplore the loss of your confidence much more than I shall deplore the loss of political power. The accusations which you prefer against me are on this account harmless, because I feel that they are unjust. Every man has within his own bosom and conscience the scales which determine the real weight of reproach; and if I had acted from any corrupt or unworthy motives, one-tenth part of the accusations you have levelled against me would have been fatal to my peace and my existence. You may think that we took too great precautions against Irish famine in the month of November. You are mistaken. Events will prove that those precautions were not superfluous; but even if they had been, as our motive was to rescue a whole people from the calamity of possible famine, and consequent disease, I should be easy under the accusation. I do not say whether this measure will be effectual for that or not. I speak only of the motive. What weight would your accusation have then even if the precautions be superfluous? I, with the information we had, and the prospects which were before us, repeat the accusation that we took superfluous precautions; and I will reply, as Mr. Burke did, when labouring under similar obloquy, and in circumstances not dissimilar: "In every accident in life, in pain, in sickness, in depression, in distress, I called to mind that accusation; and was comforted." No, never—no reproach will attach to me even if it be proved that our precautions were superfluous. Before the month of July—[OPPOSITION: May]—it will be established to the conviction of every man, that the precautions we took were not superfluous, and that our motives were not impure. I am not speaking of a temporary measure; I am speaking of a permanent measure. When I do fall, I shall have the satisfaction of reflecting that I do not fall because I have shown subservience to a party. I shall not fall because I preferred the interests of party to the general interests of the community; and I shall carry with me the satisfaction of reflecting, that during the course of my official career, my object has been to mitigate monopoly, to increase the demand for industry, to remove restrictions upon commerce, to equalize the burden of taxation, and to ameliorate the condition of those who labour.


said, deep as was his respect for the House, and anxious as he was to consult its feeling, he trusted he might be permitted for a short time to make a few remarks on what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, and to vindicate the position which the party favourable to the principle of protection occupied in that House. The right hon. Baronet said at the close of his speech that if he fell he should fall because during the whole course of his official career he had endeavoured to mitigate monopoly and give a greater degree of freedom to commerce. He thought, skilful as the right hon. Gentleman was in making out his own case, and anxious to vindicate his personal good faith, he had not entirely made out satisfactorily the cause of his fall, and that his statement was not quite so comprehensive as he boasted his measure to be. If he fell, it would not be because, during his long official career, his endeavour had been to mitigate monopoly. He thought the epithet "official" could scarce be applied to merely the last three years, because, if they looked beyond that, the tale would be totally different. The principle the right hon. Baronet now espoused might be right or wrong; but for the ten years that had preceded the last three years, the labours of the right hon. Baronet had been to construct and build up a party to oppose freedom of trade; and he believed the principles the right hon. Baronet then professed were just, and sound, and true. Nobly had the right hon. Baronet laboured, and ably his party had supported him; and when the noble Lord (Russell) had removed to the opposite side of the House, it remained for the right hon. Baronet to earn a still higher name, not only as the successful leader of a party, but as the conductor of a great constitutional body. Whatever his opinion might be as to the fall of the right hon. Baronet, he would never admit that he had stated his case fairly, when he said that during his official career he had laboured to remove the restrictions upon imports. He thought the right hon. Baronet would have acted more fairly if he had given those who were so deeply interested in the question the opportunity of examining the documents he had referred to, and the opportunity also of replying. What did it matter whether they were true or false, when, long before they were able to correct their errors or fallacies, the Motion would have been carried, and, practically speaking, no reply could be given. Many hon. Members had handed him in statements contradictory of those used by the right hon. Baronet; but at that late hour of the night he would not trouble the House with them. Before they went to a division, he was anxious to state their position, and the motives that influenced the party to which he belonged. They had not resorted to the ordinary tactics of Parliamentary opposition. Had it been their wish to move an Address to the Crown praying for a dissolution—had they brought forward a vote of want of confidence, they might have caught some stray votes; but they had taken, as he was sure the hon. Member for Stockport would admit, the more manly and straightforward course. The cause was one of too much importance to be trifled with, and they determined to resort to no trick or artifice whatever. They had brought the question of protection or no protection into the open field, and at least it would be said of them that they had used no disguise, but had met the question fairly. And although they had been deserted by the right hon. Baronet, and had been left to fight the battle themselves, to himself at least there remained the consolation, that the question had roused a spirit of zeal, and energy, and ability, more especially in the younger members who had taken part in the debate on his side, that gave abundant promise of future talent and noble exertion. He hoped and believed that the spirit, the interest, and the zeal they had hitherto displayed, would not desert them on other occasions. However this question might be decided, they would remember that there were other great questions which would speedily come before them, and that they must try those questions, and take their stand upon them boldly and resolutely, as they had upon that which was now under discussion. Had it not been for the representatives of the agricultural interest, owing to the strange amalgamation of parties which had taken place, this great commercial, political, and social change would have passed through the House without any discussion. But they had determined to discuss it, because they regarded it as a question of magnitude, and as one fraught with danger. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government said that his sentiments upon the subject had undergone a change; but the House should remember that that change was not from high protective to a modified duty, for the right hon. Baronet had throughout his whole career being engaged in the modification of protective duties, and his party had almost invariably supported him in effecting those modifications: the change had been from modification to an abandonment altogether, and had no reference to anything except a hard rule of political economy. The great difference was this, that whereas in former legislation the interests of the consumer and the producer were alike considered by the Legislature, the right hon. Baronet had now announced that the interests of the consumer alone should find a place in the counsels of this kingdom. In the political economy language of the day the poor were called, not the wealth-consuming, but the wealth-producing classes; and it must be remembered that the principles the right hon. Baronet had enunciated, fairly and legitimately carried out, meant the maximum of labour for the minimum of wages. Therefore he believed that, however fair to show the system might be, its heavy iron hand would speedily be felt by the poor. To his mind the question was not so much one of low prices, as a question which involved the whole system of indirect taxation, which comprised the malt tax and many other taxes. Upon the subject of the failure of the potato crop, as far as his knowledge of Ireland was concerned, he did not think that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had exaggerated the state of that part of the United Kingdom. And he would tell the right hon. Gentleman something which, without party feeling, he would, no doubt, approve of: it was, that the very moment he could get away from those discussions he intended going to Ireland, for the purpose of seeing what he could do in his own neighbourhood for alleviating the condition of the people. But whilst he said this, he must observe that he thought the question, as far as Ireland was concerned, had nothing, and could not have anything to do with the measure before the House. They might think of this assertion as badly as they pleased; but in his conscience he did not believe that as a temporary remedy it would be the means of adding one stone of meal to the food of the poor of Ireland. Allusion had been made by the right hon. Baronet to the fact that the legislation of this country had been mainly entrusted to the landed interest. But let that legislation be tried by the best of all standards, the history of this great Empire. Let it be compared for the same number of years with any other Empire that ever existed. Try an honest standard like that, and then they must own that if they were resolved on a change from landlords' legislation to commercial and manufacturing legislation, the landlords of England had a right to look them in the face and say, "Take back, if you choose, the trust reposed in us, but at least admit that we have not betrayed it." It was very easy to attribute the evils and difficulties to be found to the existence of any one law, or the predominance of any particular class; but this was a narrow and a prejudiced view, which could be taken by such only as looked at the dark side of things. The land had been the basis of our Legislature, as he thought wisely and properly, because it checked and elevated the mere spirit of barter and of commerce. It was that to which they owed, far more than they were willing to allow, and far more than they were grateful for, or conscious of, the prosperity this country now enjoyed, and the power which was now wielded against the agricultural interest. He contended, therefore, that before they perilled such a venture as the present, they should produce ample and conclusive reason for convincing the House of its necessity. They had been furnished with no statistics, and the Ministry had refused to tell them the price of their own corn. [Cheers.] He understood that cheer; he knew how fond hon. Members on that side of the House were, whenever an allusion was made to money by the supporters of the agricultural interest, of assuming that all their interest in the question was attributable to mercenary motives. He could not but remember, however, how eager the hon. and smiling Member for Durham was, when it came to a question of 1d. a pound on a certain kind of wool. So eager was he for the proposed change in the alphabetic Tariff on that occasion, notwithstanding the sublimity of his sentiments, that he blamed the right hon. Baronet because wool did not begin with a C. But no man knew better than the hon. Member for Stockport that in discussing questions of price, like this, they were led into the discussion of great and important principles. They knew that when a Government, pledged to protection, came forward and proposed—not that they should reconsider the case, not that they would show by argument, by calculation, and returns from foreign parts, the possibility of struggling with the agriculture of other countries—but without entering into any such calculations, suddenly proposed to destroy a great system, then the advocates of the existing system were justified in asserting that the Government might be right or they might be wrong; but they showed practically, although they denied it in words, that they did not give that value, importance, and predominance to the agriculture of this country which their fathers before them had given, and the result of which was the prosperity which this country now enjoyed. But although the Legislature were about to leave them to struggle with strangers, who might become, they knew not how soon, enemies, they would not part in anger or indignation; and he believed that if their own experience should hereafter tell them that to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, was not the way to make a people happy, and an empire great, they would not be the less disposed to reconsider the decision which they were about to pronounce tonight, because, when they should affirm that decision, some should be found among them loudly protesting against it, and earnestly resisting it—because some should be found among them determined to uphold, against a combination of official power, debating ability, and numbers unparalleled in Parliamentary history, the principles in the advocacy of which they had entered public life, and to do battle to the last for that which they believed to be the true interests of the country.


Sir, I am anxious to state as shortly as I can to the House, the view which I take of the two questions which have formed the subject of our debate; both of great, though not of equal importance; the one commercial, the other constitutional; the one arising out of the measures of the Government, the other out of their conduct; the one being the question, whether the Corn Laws shall be repealed, and the principle of competition shall be substituted for the principle of protection as the foundation of our commercial system: the other being the question, whether the Members of the Government have or have not been justified in departing from certain engagements, which they are alleged to have contracted towards the Conservative party. The latter question, though the least important of the two, is still deserving the consideration of this House, and of the country. For the political character of public men is public property, and that which concerns it, must always be a matter of public interest. Now the Government having this year proposed measures, at variance, not so much with their formerly expressed opinions, as with their former practical course, a large section of their political supporters, not content with condemning these measures as injurious, not content with declaring that the Government have thereby lost their confidence and forfeited their support, charge the Members of the Government with having deserted and betrayed their followers. I cannot acquiesce in the constitutional doctrine which is implied in that charge. For I have heard many Gentlemen belonging to the protectionist section of the House acknowledge that the Government had been actuated in the course which they have pursued by sincere conviction, and by a conscientious sense of public duty; and that they had nothing in a political point of view to gain, but on the contrary, much to lose, by the course they have taken. Well, then, the charge which I have adverted to, implies that public men ought to consider party engagements as a more binding obligation than public duty: now with this I cannot agree. I hold as high as any man can do, the importance and necessity of party association for the useful working of representative Government: I hold that a member of a political party should in his personal relations be true and faithful to his associates, and that in his political relations he ought to give up smaller differences of opinion in order to obtain common action for the promotion of common principles of Government. But when any man, be he leader or be he follower, finds himself in such a situation, that public duty points one way, and party engagements another, however great the sacrifice to be made, however painful the severance from private friends, however inconvenient the separation from political associates; he ought to stand by his country. I think, however, the Government have placed upon somewhat too narrow a ground their justification of the change which has taken place in their conduct. They have put it upon their experience of the last three years; they might more justly have ascribed it to the debates of the last four Sessions. They say it is their observation of the working of their own Tariff, that has wrought the change; I suspect it is much more the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden), and of other Gentlemen on this side of the House, who, Session after Session, have enforced the doctrines of free trade with unanswerable arguments and irresistible eloquence. It is all very well for Gentlemen who sit listlessly through a debate, thinking only of the vote they mean to give in the division, or who perhaps, without hearing a syllable of the discussion. come down at the eleventh hour to record in the lobby, with all the triumph of consistency, their unaltered and unalterable opinions,—it is all very well for them to boast that they maintain without change, Session after Session, and year after year, the very same opinions with which they originally set out; but very different is the case of responsible Ministers of the Crown, compelled by their duty to sit out the whole of each night's debate, to listen with deep attention to every speech, and, what is more to the purpose, to find answers—aye, and answers which, as men of sense and station, they shall not be ashamed to use. So far, then, from wondering that the Government have at length changed their opinions and their course, I am only astonished that they did not do so long ago. And I must say that this consideration gives me great hopes even of those Gentlemen of the protection party who have most stoutly resisted the present measures. For they have now undertaken to furnish speeches as well as votes; and if they will permit me to pay them a most deserved compliment, I must say, in passing, that we have all admired the great ability of their speeches, and that every Englishman must feel proud of the talent and cultivation of mind which have been exhibited by them, and especially by some among them who have not had the advantage which practice in debate gives to persons in explaining their sentiments in this House. But really, after witnessing the powers of mind which many of those hon. Gentlemen have evinced, I cannot help entertaining a hope that when, upon mature consideration, they come to weigh in the balance of their judgment the arguments they have encountered, and the arguments they have used in reply, their opinions may, perhaps, at no distant period, undergo some considerable change. At any rate, I will venture to foretell one thing, and that is, that if the course of events should place them on the Ministerial benches, they will not long sit there without material alterations of some of their present opinions. There are certain climates which are specific cures for certain diseases; and depend upon it if you take any men who are labouring under the protection fever even in its most acute and inflammatory type, and only place them for a few months in the free-trade atmosphere of Downing-street, you will effect an entire and permanent cure. Now as to the commercial question. Having taken the liberty, some years ago, of expressing in this House a wish that the word protection might be blotted out of our commercial vocabulary, I cannot but hail with cordial pleasure the proposal of measures which tend so greatly to realize that wish. Protection is no doubt a plausible word. But many are the evils which mankind have endured from plausible words cloaking and disguising injurious things. What does protection, in the commercial sense, mean? Why, injury to the many for the benefit of the few; with this difference, however, that the injury to the many is real, while the benefit to the few is for the most part delusive. Protection is manifestly injurious to the many, because its avowed object and necessary effect is to shut out the foreign supply of commodities which the many consume, and thus to render those commodities dearer, and moreover, as I will presently show, worse than they otherwise would be. At first sight, indeed, this injury to the consumers, who are the many, would appear to be attended with benefit to the home producers, who are the few, by reason of the monopoly which is thus secured to the latter in the home market. But no real benefit can be conferred on any set of men by any order of things which does not stimulate them to exert to the utmost their industry, ingenuity, intelligence and activity. But protection, by its baneful influence, paralyses the vital energies of human industry, cramps its development, and cripples its growth; and thus, so far from benefiting the persons for whose advantage it is intended, it often brings them into a worse condition than they would have been if they had been thrown, without protection, upon their own resources. I say, then, that protection, being injurious to the many, even if it were advantageous to the few, would be at variance with that fundamental maxim which bids us legislate for the many, and not for the few; but being, as it is, injurious to the many, and not even advantageous to the few, there is not the shadow of an excuse to be set up in its defence. But it is contended that free trade and the absence of protection may do very well for a country in a natural state of society, but that we are in an artificial condition; that we have large naval and military establishments to maintain; a great debt, the interest of which we must pay; that for these purposes we must raise a large revenue by heavy taxation; and that, in these circumstances, we cannot afford to part with the system of protection for native industry. Now, I hold that to be a complete fallacy. I hold it not only to be untrue, but to be the very reverse of truth. For what is the effect of protection? Why, that by laying an unduly heavy tax upon commodities coming from abroad, you greatly lessen the supply of those articles, and thus raise artificially the supply of all like articles produced at home; while, at the same time, by exempting the British producers from the stimulus which would result from foreign competition, you lower artificially the quality of the things thus produced at home. But are our establishments, and our debt, and our revenue, a reason why we should do this? If we are compelled to take from every man in the country a large portion of his yearly income to supply the demands of the public service, is that a reason why we should, by artificial means, purposely make everything which he wants to buy with the remaining part of his income, as dear and as bad as we can? I say, on the contrary, that if we are obliged to call upon all classes to make for the public service a sacrifice of a large portion of their incomes, whether arising from lands or from funds, from commerce, from professions, or from labour, that very fact is the strongest possible reason why we should endeavour to enable them to make that remainder which we leave to them go as far as it possibly can in procuring for them, according to their respective stations in life, the necessaries, the conveniences, or the luxuries which they may wish to enjoy. I contend, therefore, that it is precisely because we have great establishments, because we have a heavy debt, and because we must have a large revenue, that we cannot afford to keep up the system of protection. Well, but then, is the state of our commercial relations with foreign countries a reason why we should maintain this system of protection? Some people say it is. Somo Gentlemen argue that free trade might do very well if it was practised by all nations, but that one-sided free trade will not do; that our example will not be followed; and that this system, not being mutual and reciprocal, will be an injury to ourselves and an advantage to other nations. Now, I hold this to be just as great a fallacy as the other. For what is the effect of mutually hostile tariffs between ourselves and other countries? Take any foreign country—take France, for instance. The high tariffs of France and of England are alike injurious to both countries. Our high tariff against French commodities is an injury to ourselves as consumers, and to the French as producers; while the high tariff of France against British commodities is an injury to the French consumers as well as to the English producers. Here, then, is an inconvenience on each side of the water. We cannot, however, persuade the French to reduce their tariff, but we have the power of reducing our own; but we are told that we ought not to do so unless the French agree to a simultaneous reduction on their side. Why, what is that but saying, that we are to continue to submit to an evil which we have the power to put an end to, because, forsooth, another country chooses to continue to subject us and themselves to another evil of a similar kind, which is beyond our control. What sense is there in this? Surely, if we cannot get rid of both evils, at least let us free ourselves from the one which we are able to remove. And this leads me to say, that I have heard with great pleasure the announcement of the Government, that they have at last come to the conviction that negotiations with Foreign Powers for mutual reduction of tariffs are no longer worth pursuing; and that it is better to act upon a bolder policy, and to carry our own principles voluntarily into practice. I think, however, that the Government were right in pursuing those negotiations, and that former Governments were right in making similar attempts. It was paying a due and proper deference to the prejudices of this country; and if we had succeeded in accomplishing our purpose, we should have gained two sdvantages at once; we should have got rid of the obstacles abroad, at the same time that we removed the obstacles at home. But there was this inconvenience attending that course, that foreign countries misunderstood the real nature of the propositions which we made to them. The real meaning and substance of our offer was, that we would relieve ourselves and them from an inconvenience on our side of the water, if they would relieve themselves and us from a similar inconvenience on their side. If our offers had been thus rightly understood they must have been accepted. But they were misconstrued. They were looked upon as a proffered bargain. Foreign countries, like many persons here, regarded protection as a good, and free trade as an evil; and, therefore, they regarded a reduction of prohibitory and protecting duties as an injury to the country by which such reduction might be made. Thus they understood us to say, that we would by a reduction of our Tariff do ourselves an injury and confer upon them a benefit, provided that they on their side would, by a corresponding reduction of their tariff, inflict an equal injury upon themselves, and confer an equal benefit upon us. Here, then, arose a question as to the relative value of proposed equivalents; and foreign Governments, considering the matter as a bargain, were always too much afraid of our overreaching them, or too much intent upon overreaching us. Then came the local struggle of protected classes, fiercely resisting any infringement of their monopolies; and thus it happened, both in our time and in that of the present Ministers, that even when foreign Governments were sufficiently enlightened to wish to come to terms with us, they had not the power to do so. Our example is much more likely to be effectual than our negociations. When foreign countries see that we reduce our duties upon their commodities, not as the condition of a bargain, and in exchange for an equivalent, but spontaneously and for our own advantage; not as a favour to them, but as a benefit to ourselves; and when they see, as they surely will, in the good result of our measures, a convincing proof of the truth of the doctrines upon which they are founded, may we not expect that our example will be followed, and that other countries will endeavour to secure to themselves the same benefits which we shall thus have obtained? Well, then, Sir, assuming, without further argument, for at this late hour I am anxious to shorten, as much as possible, anything I may have to say—assuming, then, that the operation of the principle of competition and the abolition of protection are good for every other branch of our commerce, still the question arises, are they equally good for the trade in corn; or are there any peculiar circumstances connected with agricultural productions which ought to make such productions an exception to the general rule? I hold that there is no ground for such an exception, and that there is no reason why freedom of trade in corn should not be as advantageous to the country as freedom of trade in every other commodity. But by free trade I do not mean, necessarily and in all cases, trade free from custom duties. We are obliged, as I have already said, to raise a large yearly revenue; and we must, for that purpose, have heavy taxes. The least inconvenient and least objectionable method of raising a large porton of that revenue is by indirect taxation, and that involves the necessity of custom duties. Therefore, when I speak of free trade I mean trade free from duties laid on for the purpose of prevention or obstruction, but not trade free from duties laid on for the purpose of revenue, and which, in order to accomplish their purpose, must be so moderate as not to cripple or impede commercial transactions. Now, my opinion has been, and, I own, still continues to be, that there is no reason why the trade in corn should, in this respect, be an exception to the general rule. I am for a moderate fixed duty. My noble and hon. Friends near me have also been of the same opinion; and, allow me to say, that this opinion was not taken up by us, as stated last night by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, when the late Government was, as he said, in articulo mortis; but, as far back as 1839, when there was no reason to expect an early termination of our official career. I say then that my wish would have been to have had a low fixed duty on the importation of corn. I think that a duty of 4s. or 5s. would not sensibly raise the price of corn in this country; it would be felt by nobody; it would produce a revenue not undeserving of consideration; and, what is of more importance, it would enable us to accomplish a great transition with less violence to the feelings and prejudices of a large class of men. But, in this House, men must consider what they can have, and not what they would wish to have. Now, the Government have all along declared that a fixed duty is the one thing which they never will either propose or agree to. My noble and hon. Friends near me have lately abandoned a fixed duty in despair. The Gentlemen of the Anti-Corn-Law League declare that nothing will satisfy them but a total and entire abolition of all duties on the importation of corn; and as to the Gentlemen who are in favour of protection, the moment that a fixed duty is proposed in this House, they jump up in a body, and rush in a crowd to the door. A fixed duty, therefore, is out of the question; and our only choice lies between the sliding-scale and an entire abolition of duty; and, having to decide between these alternatives, I cannot for a moment hesitate to vote for entire abolition. Now, let us for a moment examine how this measure, if carried, will affect the various classes of society which are concerned in the cultivation of corn; and first, as to the labourer. It has been said that this measure will injure the labourer, because by diminishing the average price of corn, it will lower his wages, and by throwing land out of cultivation, it will lessen his employment. Now, as to the first point, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government has just shown, by a detailed statement of wages and prices at various times and places, that wages do not fluctuate with the price of corn. But it is indeed a well-known and generally-admitted fact, that the price of labour, that is to say, wages, must vary like the price of every other commodity, according to the relative proportions of demand and supply. If you want a proof of this, look to the United States of America, where the price of corn being low, but the supply of labour being much less than the demand, wages are high; look again to the southern counties of England and to Ireland, and there you will find the price of corn comparatively high, but the supply of labour being greater than the demand, wages are low; then turn to the northern counties of England, and there you will see the price of corn not much higher than in the southern counties, but the demand for labour in the manufactures extends its influence upon agriculture, and there the wages of the agricultural labourer are much higher than in the counties to the south. It is, then, a complete fallacy to suppose that if this measure should diminish the price of corn it would Lower wages; but if it did diminish the price of corn without lowering wages, it would benefit the labourer; for either he would thus be enabled to procure more food for himself and his family, or if he chose to be content with the same amount of food, he would be able to buy a greater quantity of other articles, which are essential to his comfort and convenience. But then it is said that the passing of this measure would diminish the employment of the agricultural labourer, by throwing land out of cultivation. It could not do so, unless it reduced excessively the price of corn; and there can be no difficulty in showing how unlikely it is that any such result should follow. It seems to me, therefore, that the fear that land will, by this measure, be thrown out of cultivation, is altogether visionary. But am I the only person who holds that opinion? Why, Commissioners have been appointed under the General Inclosure Act which passed last Session; they have lately made a Report, which has been laid before this House, and by that Report it appears that they have already received forty-six applications for inclosures, amounting in all to 28,000 acres; and that twenty-seven of these applications have been made since the beginning of December last; and, therefore, since it was publicly known that a proposal would be made to Parliament for the repeal of the Corn Laws. This does not look like land being thrown out of cultivation. But more than this: we have a Bill before this House which shows that there are some bold adventurers who actually intend to wrest 40,000 acres from the waves of the German Ocean, and add them to the cultivated surface of this our solid island. I think then I am entitled to say that if I am of opinion that this measure will not throw land of cultivation, there are others fully as competent to judge of this matter, who concur with me in that opinion. Now as to the tenant-farmer; I contend that he has no material interest in this question. If the average price of corn should not fall much lower than it has been, he will be no loser. But if the average price should fall in any considerable degree, he has two resources. First, he may increase the quantity and quality of his produce by improved methods of husbandry; by applying to his pursuits greater science, greater skill, and greater economy; and everybody knows that the agriculture of this country is not susceptible of great improvement in all these respects. In this way the tenant-farmer might make up for a diminution of price, by an increase of produce. But if the worst came to the worst, he would have the other resource of going to his landlord for a reduction of rent; and as it could never be the interest of the owners of land to ruin their tenants, by enforcing contracts no longer suited to existing circumstances, the landlords would of course consent to an equitable re-arrangement of the terms between them and their tenants. This, then, is not a labourer's question; it is not a tenant-farmer's question; it is purely and simply a question affecting the owners of land; and I do not think that even they will suffer by the change. They can suffer only if the quantity of corn brought in should be so great as very materially to lower prices, and in that way to diminish rents. But what is the probability in that respect? Where is at present that immense quantity of superfluous corn, which is to come in like a deluge and to beat down the prices in this country? Does any man suppose that the people of other countries go on producing from year to year commodities for which they have no sale? The quantity of corn grown yearly in the world is proportioned to the probable demand of the market of the world, in which market we but seldom appear as buyers. The surplus quantity now or from time to time in existence, is merely the superfluity of abundant seasons held for a time in store to meet the alternate deficiency of bad years. Till the bad years come, that corn is cheap, because it is a supply exceeding the demand; but the moment we go into the foreign market as buyers, to purchase up this surplus, prices abroad will rise. Not only will the British demand, as a new competition with foreign demand, naturally cause a rise of price, but our own merchants will compete against each other, until by a rise of prices abroad the profit of their importations shall have been brought down to the usual rate of mercantile profit upon capital employed in other ways. There is, therefore, very little probability that the importation of the existing surplus quantity of corn in foreign markets, will materially lower prices in this country. But, then, is the quantity of corn produced abroad susceptible of great or unlimited increase? Why, increased production abroad can be accomplished only by increased application of capital, that is, by additional expenses of various kinds; and these fresh expenses will tend to increase the cost of production, and, consequensly, to raise the price of foreign corn. Moreover, the new lands to be brought into cultivation for these purposes will, probably, be further from the ports of embarkation, and the expense of internal conveyance will thus also be increased. But the consumption of foreign countries is not remaining stationary, and their population is annually increasing as well as our own; and, therefore, a considerable portion of their increased produce will be kept at home for their own use. And with regard to this, let it be borne in mind that the increase in the population of almost all countries is more in the food-consuming than in the food-producing classes; more in the inhabitants of towns and cities, than in the cultivators of the soil. There is no country with regard to which this is more true than the United States of America. There, no doubt, cultivation is spreading; but its advance scarcely keeps pace with the multiplication of new cities constantly springing up in the interior, or with the rapid augmentation of the population of the older cities in the long-established States. There are, therefore, many causes which tend to limit the additional supply of corn which we can draw from abroad, and which must raise the cost price of corn which we may so import. But are there no causes in operation at home which will also contribute to make this foreign corn annually dearer? Is our own population stationary? Does that not increase at the rate of from 300,000 to 400,000 every year? And will not this annual increase of the consumers in this country absorb a considerable portion of the increased annual supply from abroad? But is that all? Does any one imagine, that the poorer classes in this country, consume at present as much food as they would do if food were cheaper, and more within their reach? It is well known that they do not. Well, then, suppose that by a large importation from abroad, the price of food should be materially diminished, what would be the immediate consequence? Why the consumption of food by many millions of the poorer classes would immediately increase; their increased consumption would raise prices again; and the probability is that the effect of a very large importation of foreign corn would only be, to enable the poorer classes to consume a much larger quantity of food at the present prices; whereas, if such increased consumption were to be attempted by them without a corresponding increase of supply, prices would soon rise to such a height as to compel them to give up the attempt. It seems to me, therefore, that the apprehensions felt by the landowners that this measure will greatly reduce the price of corn, and by that means materially lower their rents, are altogether unfounded, and that they have no good reason, on that score, to object to this measure. But, on the other hand, if those apprehensions are well-founded, then, still less ought the landowners to object to the measure; for what is an objection founded upon such grounds, but a confession that their rents are artificially raised by means of a law which enhances to the poorer classes of this country the cost of the necessaries of life? The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, on a former occasion, gave to the British aristocracy the appellation of proud. He called them a proud aristocracy. I thought the appellation well chosen and appropriate; and it seemed to me neither to deserve animadversion nor to require withdrawal. The British aristocracy are proud; they have a right to be proud; they ought to be proud; and proud, I trust, they long will continue to be. They have a right to be proud of the noble deeds and great public services performed by their illustrious forefathers: they have a right to be proud of their own high and ennobling qualities; they have a right to be proud of the affection, the esteem, and the respect felt for them by their fellow countrymen. But will the proud aristocracy of England contend for the continuance of a law, under which they are liable to have it cast in their teeth, that they derive a portion of their income from a poor rate—and a rate too, not levied on the wealthy for the support of the indigent poor; but raised for the benefit of the rich, and wrung from the necessities of the poorest of the poor? Will the proud aristocracy of England contend for the continuance of a law, under which the toil-worn peasant or the drooping artisan, when dividing among his craving-children the insufficient meal which he has purchased with the hard-earned wages of his exhausting labour, must inwardly repine to think, that each scanty morsel is rendered scantier still than it might otherwise have been, in order that the painful retrenchments of his "humble shed" may go to swell the luxurious superfluities of "some contiguous palace?" If we cannot convince the reason of the British aristocracy; if we appeal in vain to their justice; if, which I never will believe, their generosity is dead; let us at least awaken their pride; that manly and honourable pride, which founded on the judgment of a self-approving conscience, secures to man his own respect, and commands for him the respect of others. It has been shown that the measures now proposed will increase the commerce of this country, and will by this means add to its wealth, and augment its general prosperity. But with these advantages will follow another of still greater importance;—for in proportion as we increase our commercial relations with other countries, we multiply the chances of the preservation of peace. If, for the sake of preserving peace, we make weak concessions and timid submissions, we fail in accomplishing our purpose. We stave off indeed our difficulties for the moment, but they soon come back upon us again with increased embarrassment and aggravated pressure, and we find that we have— purchased dear Short intermission, bought with double smart. But far otherwise is it when, by extending commercial intercourse, we give to other nations interests in the maintenance of peace, equal to, and identical with our own. If monarchs are ambitious and grasping, or if democracies are encroaching and aggressive, and you wish to bind them down to keep the peace—fetter them with commerce: or, if you want to inspire their minds with juster and more moderate sentiments, spread wide before them the book of the merchant; and be assured that in the pages of that volume, they will see more cogent and conclusive arguments against unjust and unnecessary war, than are to be found in the purest precepts of the moralist, or in the wisest exhortations of the statesman. Upon these grounds, therefore, I give this measure my hearty support. I support it, because I think it calculated to promote the welfare, the comfort, the happiness, and the prosperity of this country; and because it seems to me to be founded on principles which tend to secure to mankind that great and inestimable blessing, the continuance of international peace.

The House then divided on the Question, that the word "now" stand part of the Question:—Ayes 302; Noes 214: Majority, 88.

List of the AYES.
Acheson, Visct. Attwood, J.
Acland, T. D. Baillie, Col.
A'Court, Capt. Baillie, H. J.
Aglionby, H. A. Baine, W.
Ainsworth, P. Baird, W.
Aldam, W. Baldwin, B.
Anson, hon. Col. Bannerman, A.
Barclay, D. Duncannon, Visct.
Barkly, H. Duncombe, T.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Dundas, Adm.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Dundas, D.
Barnard, E. G. Easthope, Sir J.
Becket, W. Eastnor, Visct.
Benbow, J. Ebrington, Visct.
Berkeley, hon. C. Egerton, W. T.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Ellice, E.
Bernal, R. Ellis, W.
Blake, M. J. Elphinstone, H.
Blewitt, R. J. Escott, B.
Bodkin, W. H. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Botfield, B. Etwall, R.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Evans, W.
Bowes, J. Evans, Sir De L.
Bowles, Adm. Ewart, W.
Bowring, Dr. Feilden, W.
Bridgeman, H. Ferguson, Col.
Bright, J. Fitzgerald, R. A.
Brocklehurst, J. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Brotherton, J. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Browne, R. D. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Browne, hon. W. Fleetwood, Sir P. H.
Bruce, Lord E. Flower, Sir J.
Buckley, E. Forster, M.
Buller, C. Fox, C. R.
Buller, E. Gibson, T. M.
Busfeild, W. Gill, T.
Butler, P. S. Gisborne, T.
Byng, G. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Gore, M.
Cardwell, E. Gore, hon. R.
Carew, hon. R. S. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Granger, T. C.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Greene, T.
Chapman, B. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Grimsditch, T.
Childers, J. W. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Christie, W. D. Guest, Sir J.
Clay, Sir W. Hall, Sir B.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Hamilton, W. J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cobden, R. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cochrane, A. Hastie, A.
Cockburn, rt. hon. Sir G. Hatton, Capt. V.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hawes, B.
Collett, J. Hay, Sir A. L.
Collins, W. Hayter, W. G.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Heathcoat, J.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Craig, W. G. Hervey, Lord A.
Crawford, W. S. Hill, Lord M.
Cripps, W. Hindley, C.
Currie, R. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Curteis, H. B. Hogg, J. W.
Dalmeny, Lord Hollond, R.
Dalrymple, Capt. Hope, G. W.
Dashwood, G. H. Hornby, J.
Denison, J. E. Horsman, E.
Dennistoun, J. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Howard, hn. E. G. G.
Dickinson, F. H. Howard, P. H.
Divett, E. Howard, Sir R.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Hughes, W. B.
Douro, Marq. of Hume, J.
Drummond, H. H. Humphery, Ald.
Dugdale, W. S. Hutt, W.
Duke, Sir J. James, Sir W. C.
Duncan, Visct. Jermyn, Earl
Duncan, G. Jocelyn, Visct.
Johnstone, Sir J. Rawdon, Col.
Johnstone, H. Reid, Sir J. R.
Kelly, Sir F. Reid, Col.
Kelly, J. Ross, D. R.
Kirk, P. Rumbold, C. E.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Russell, Lord J.
Lambton, H. Russell, Lord E.
Langston, J. H. Russell, J. D. W.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Rutherfurd, A.
Layard, Capt. Sandon, Visct.
Legh, G. C. Scott, R.
Lemon, Sir C. Scrope, G. P.
Loch, J. Seymour, Lord
Lockhart, A. E. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Lyall, G. Smith, B.
Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B. Smith, J. A.
Mackinnon, W. A. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Macnamara, Major Smythe, hon. G.
M'Carthy, A. Somers, J. P.
M'Geachy, F. A. Somerset, Lord G.
M'Neill, D. Somerville, Sir W. M.
M'Taggart, Sir J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Mahon, Visct. Stanton, W. H.
Mainwaring, T. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Mangles, R. D. Stewart, P. M.
Marjoribanks, S. Stewart, J.
Marshall, W. Stuart, Lord J.
Marsland, H. Stuart, H.
Martin, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Martin, C. W. Strutt, E.
Masterman, J. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Matheson, J. Tancred, H. W.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Thesiger, Sir F.
Meynell, Capt. Thornely, T.
Milnes, R. M. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Mitcalfe, H. Tomline, G.
Mitchell, T. A. Towneley, J.
Moffatt, G. Traill, G.
Molesworth, Sir W. Trelawny, J. S.
Morpeth, Visct. Trench, Sir F. W.
Morris, D. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Morison, Gen. Tufnell, H.
Morrison, J. Turner, E.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Vane, Lord H.
Muntz, G. F. Vernon, G. H.
Napier, Sir C. Villiers, hon. C.
Neville, R. Villiers, Visct.
O'Brien, J. Vivian, J. H.
O'Brien, T. Vivian, hon. Capt.
O'Connell, J. Wakley, T.
Ord, W. Walker, R.
Osborne, R. Wall, C. B.
Oswald, J. Warburton, H.
Owen, Sir J. Ward, H. G.
Paget, Col. Watson, W. H.
Paget, Lord W. Wawn, J. T.
Paget, Lord A. Wellesley, Lord C.
Palmerston, Visct. White, S.
Parker, J. Williams, W.
Patten, J. W. Wilshere, W.
Pattison, J. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Pechell, Capt. Wood, C.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Wood, Col.
Peel, J. Wood, Col. T.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Pennant, hon. Col. Wrightson, W. B.
Philips, G. R. Wynn, rt. hon. C. W. W.
Phillpotts, J. Wyse, T.
Plumridge, Capt. Yorke, H. R.
Powell, C.
Price, Sir R. TELLERS.
Protheroe, E. Young, R.
Pulsford, R. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir. T. D. Dowdeswell, W.
Adare, Visct. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Adderley, C. B. Duncombe, hon. A.
Alford, Visct. Duncombe, hon. O.
Allix, J. P. Du Pre, C. G.
Antrobus, E. East, J. B.
Arbuthnot, hon. H. Emlyn, Visct.
Archbold, R. Entwisle, W.
Arkwright, G. Farnham, E. B.
Astell, W. Fellowes, E.
Austin, Col. Filmer, Sir E.
Bagge, W. Finch, G.
Bagot, hon. W. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Bailey, J. Floyer, J.
Bailey, J., jun. Forbes, W.
Baillie, W. Forman, T. S.
Bankes, G. Fox, S. L.
Baring, T. Frewen, C. H.
Barrington, Visct. Fuller, A. E.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Gardner, J. D.
Bateson, T. Gaskell, J. M.
Bell, M. Gladstone, Capt.
Benett, J. Gooch, E. S.
Bennet, P. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Bentinck, Lord G. Gore, W. O.
Bentinck, Lord H. Gore, W. R. O.
Blackburne, J. I. Goring, C.
Blackstone, W. S. Granby, Marq. of
Blakemore, R. Grogan, E.
Boldero, H. G. Hale, R. B.
Borthwick, P. Halford, Sir H.
Bramston, T. W. Hall, Col.
Brisco, M. Halsey, T. P.
Broadley, H. Harcourt, G. G.
Broadwood, H. Harris, hon. Capt.
Brooke, Lord Heathcote, G. J.
Brownrigg, J. S. Heathcote, Sir W.
Bruges, W. H. L. Heneage, E.
Buck, L. W. Henley, J. W.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hill, Lord E.
Burroughes, H. N. Hinde, J. H.
Campbell, Sir H. Hodgson, F.
Carew, W. H. P. Hodgson, R.
Castlereagh, Visct. Holmes, hon. W. A. C.
Cayley, E. S. Hope, Sir J.
Chandos, Marq. of Hope, A.
Chelsea, Visct. Hotham, Lord
Cholmondeley, hon. H. Houldsworth, T.
Christopher, R. A. Hudson, G.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Hurst, R. H.
Chute, W. L. W. Hussey, T.
Clayton, R. R. Ingestre, Visct.
Clifton, J. T. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Clive, Visct. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Cole, hon. H. A. Jones, Capt.
Collett, W. R. Kemble, H.
Colquhoun, J. C. Kerrison, Sir E.
Colvile, C. R. Knight, F. W.
Compton, H. C. Knightley, Sir C.
Coote, Sir C. H. Law, hon. C. E.
Courtenay, Lord Lawson, A.
Davies, D. A. S. Lennox, Lord G. H. G.
Deedes, W. Leslie, C. P.
Denison, W. J. Lockhart, W.
Denison, E. B. Long, W.
Dick Quintin Lopes, Sir R.
Disraeli, B. Lowther, Sir J. H.
Dodd, G. Lowther, hon. Col.
Douglas, Sir H. Lygon, hon. Gen
Douglas, J. D. S. Mackenzie, T.
Mackenzie, W. F. Seymer, H. K.
Maclean, D. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Manners, Lord C. S. Sheppard, T.
Manners, Lord J. Sheridan, R. B.
March, Earl of Shirley, E. J.
Maunsell, T. P. Shirley, E. P.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Sibthorp, Col.
Mildmay, H. St. John Smith, A.
Miles, P. W. S. Smith, Sir H.
Miles, W. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Morgan, O. Spooner, R.
Morgan, C. Spry, Sir S. T.
Mundy, E. M. Stanley, E.
Neeld, J. Stuart, J.
Neeld, J. Taylor, E.
Newport, Visct. Taylor, J. A.
Norreys, Lord Thompson, Ald.
O'Brien, A. S. Thornhill, G.
Ossulston, Lord Tollemache, J.
Packe, C. W. Tower, C.
Pakington, J. S. Trollope, Sir J.
Palmer, R. Trotter, J.
Palmer, G. Tyrrell, Sir J. T.
Pigot, Sir R. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Plumptre, J. P. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Pollington, Visct. Waddington, H. S.
Powell, Col. Walpole, S. H.
Rashleigh, W. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Rendlesham, Lord Williams, T. P.
Repton, G. W. J. Wodehouse, E.
Richards, R. Worcester, Marq. of
Rolleston, Col. Worsley, Lord
Round, C. J. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Round, J. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Russell, C.
Ryder, hon. G. D. TELLERS.
Sanderson, R. Beresford, Maj.
Scott, hon. F. Newdegate, C. N.

Bill read a second time, and ordered to be committed.

[On account of the importance of this Division, we subjoin the following non-official statement.]

Conservatives 102
Liberals 202
Conservatives 208
Liberals 8
Paired 58
Absent, (Conservatives) 29
Ditto (Liberals) 47
Speaker 1
Seats Vacant—Sudbury 2 3
Richmond 1
Paired off.
Ackkers, J. Ferguson, Sir R.
Alexander, N. Boyd, J. (Con.)
Archdall, M. Corbally, M. E.
Attwood, M. Egerton, Lord F.
Balfour, J. M. Philips, M.
Barnaby, J. Ponsonby, hon. C.
Bradshaw, J. Smollett, A. (Con.)
Bruen, Col. Damer, Col. D. (Con.)
Codrington, Sir W. Howard, J.
Conolly, Col. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Cressswell, A. B. Standish, C.
Folliott, J. Barron, Sir H. W.
Forester, G. C. Dundas, J. C.
Gregory, W. H. Bunbury, T. (Con.)
Hamilton, G. A. Redington, T. N.
Hamilton, J. H. Power, J.
Hoskins, K. Johnson, Gen.
Irton, S. James, W.
Leader, J. T. Drax, J. W. S.
Lefroy, A. Esmonde, Sir T.
Liddell, H. Newry, Lord (Con.)
*Lindsay, H. H. Listowel, Lord
Marton, G. Pigott, D. R.
Nicholl, J. Verner, Col. (Con.)
Oswald, A. Turnor, C. (Con.)
Trevor, G. R. Dundas, F.
Vesey, T. O'Brien, C.
Whitmore, T. C. Chapman, A. (Con.)
Wyndham, Col. C. O'Connell, M. J.
Acton, Col. Hepburn, Sir T.
Ashley, hon. H. Hussey, A.
Bernard, Lord Ker, D. S.
Brooke, Sir A. Lascelles, E.
Bruce, C. Lindsay, Capt.
Copeland, Ald. Northland, Lord
Eaton, R. J. Polhill, F.
Egerton, Sir P. Praed, W. T.
Ferrand, W. B. Price, R.
Godson, R. Pusey, P.
Hamilton, B. Somerset, Lord
Hampden, R. Vivian, J. E.
Hardy, J. Welby, G. E.
Hayes, Sir E. Wyndham, J. C.
Heneage, G. W.
Armstrong, Sir A. Martin, T. B.
Arundel, Lord Norreys, Sir D.
Bell, J. O'Brien, W. S.
Bellew, R. M. O'Connell, D.
Berkeley, hon. G. O'Connell, M.
Blake, Sir V. O'Conor Don
Bodkin, J. Ogle, C. S.
Bulkeley, Sir R. Philipps, Sir R. B.
Butler, Col. Pryse, P.
Callaghan, D. Rice, E. R.
Clements, Lord Ricardo, J. L.
Dawson, T. V. Roche, E. B.
Duff, J. Roebuck, J. A.
Fielden, J. Sheil, R. L.
French, F. Shelburne, Lord
Grattan, H. Stanley, W. O.
Hallyburton, Lord F. Stuart, W. V.
Heron, Sir R. Talbot, C. R.
Howard, Capt. Tuite, H. M.
Jervis, J. Wemyss, Capt.
Langton, G. Westenra, J. C.
M'Donnell, J. White, H.
Maitland, T. Wilde, Sir T.
Maher, N.
* Mr. Lindsey and Lord Listowel were both in favour of the Government measure, but had paired on the Continent.
For going into Committee, Feb. 27. Ayes 339. THE MAJORITY. (Tellers included.) For second reading of Bill, March 27. Ayes 304.
Whigs. Tories. Total. Representing Whigs. Tories. Total.
13 12 25 English Counties 11 12 23
143 68 211 English Boroughs 134 65 199
2 2 English Universities. 2 2
1 4 5 Welch Counties 4 4
7 3 10 Welch Boroughs 4 3 7
20 4 24 Irish Counties 11 5 16
21 7 28 Irish Boroughs 17 3 20
5 8 13 Scotch Counties 5 6 11
20 1 21 Scotch Boroughs 21 1 22
239 109 339 Totals 203 101 304
Minority 242 Minority 216
Majority 97 Majority 88
For Protection on Feb. 27. Noes 242. THE MINORITY. (Tellers included.) For Protection on March 27. Noes 216.
Whigs. Tories. Total. Representing Whigs. Tories. Total.
4 104 108 English Counties 4 99 103
6 77 83 English Boroughs 2 74 76
2 2 English Universities. 2 2
1 1 Isle of Wight 1 1
8 8 Welch Counties 8 8
2 2 Welch Boroughs 2 2
1 21 22 Irish Counties 1 10 11
2 2 Irish Boroughs 2 2
2 2 Irish Universities 1 1
11 11 Scotch Counties 10 10
1 1 Scotch Boroughs
11 231 242 Totals 7 209 261