HC Deb 04 May 1846 vol 86 cc35-92

On the Question that the Speaker do leave the Chair, for the House to go into Committee on the Corn Importation Bill,


said: Sir, I rise to oppose your leaving the Chair, as a new feature and a new character has arisen in the discussion of this question since it came under the consideration of the House, by what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Baronet has allowed it to go forth to the country that those measures which he desires to have repealed, and which at the time he first intimated his intention to that effect he deemed to be impolitic, he now considers unjust—that he who has had a hand in the construction of every Corn Law Act that has been devised for the last thirty years, has now been induced, by the debate of the last three months, so far to change his opinion, that those laws which at the early part of last autumn he had disapproved of for the first time, he now deems to be unjust. I think, Sir, we ought not to allow this measure to go further until the right hon. Gentleman has stated those views upon this subject which have induced him to come to this extraordinary conclusion, who has for so many years exerted himself to maintain those laws. Sir, I am well aware that by delaying this measure, we shall be told that we are creating a stagnation of trade. Sir, we are not responsible for that stagnation. It is not those who resist a change of the laws, but those who are creating a change in the commercial laws of the country, who are alone responsible for this stagnation. Sir, we have been told again and again in this House—I believe by the noble Lord the Member for Lincolnshire—that the farmers of England are desirous to see a speedy settlement of this question. Sir, I do not admit that the farmers of England are desirous to see a speedy settlement of this question, unless it is to be accomplished by the rejection of the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers. But, Sir, if I am to be told that the farmers of England expect that the price of corn will be raised by the introduction of 1,500,000 quarters of foreign wheat into their markets, the farmers would be justly liable to that accusation which was once made unjustly against them by the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, when he said that "they were as dull as the clods they broke."


I never said anything of the kind. When I proposed a fixed duty of 8s., and when I was charged with being an enemy to the farmers, I told those who said so that they were somewhat of the character which you just described.


I am glad to hear the explanation of my noble Friend. I do not think that it could have been foreseen that the farmers could have met with such double-dealing and treachery from those who professed to be their friends. Sir, it was certainly stated in this House that the farmers of England were anxious to see a speedy settlement of this question; and it was further stated here and elsewhere that it would be of essential service to the farmers of England, that foreign wheat should be introduced for home consumption, and to assist the sale of their own wheat. If I look back to all former precedents, I cannot see one single instance in which the importation of large quantities of foreign grain could raise the price of English wheat. I can recollect, in 1838, when the price was 73s., that there were imported in about six weeks 2,500,000 quarters of wheat into this country. Was the effect of that importation to raise the price of English wheat, or improve the markets for the farmers? The effect of that importation was to lower the price of wheat to the full extent of 12s. a quarter. Again, in 1842—soon after the passing of the law of 1842—as soon, in fact, as it came well into operation—the prices and quantity imported were as follow:—

1842. Price. Quarters.
July 30 63s. 311,193
August 27 55s.
September 3 53s. 2,186,000
Showing a fall of 10s.
1843. Price. Quarters.
August 19 59s. 80,282
August 26 56s.
September 16 50s. 748,454
Fall 9s.
1844. Price. Quarters.
July 20 54s. 352,118.
August 10 48s. 141,156.
Fall 6s.
No importation exceeding 15,027 Quarters.
Prices gradually rose, the greatest rise being 6s. 2d. In the month of August only 907 quarters of foreign wheat were imported. Sir, I think that I have shown clearly that farmers must be an easily deluded set, if they will believe that the introduction of 1,500,000 of quarters of foreign grain will enhance the price of English wheat, or be any benefit to them. I refer back again to 1838, when, as I before stated, upwards of 1,500,000 quarters were imported, and will read a description of the markets, during several weeks in September and October of that year, as yet set forth in Knight's Political Dictionary:—
1838. Weeks ending Six weeks' average price. Weekly average price. Duty.
Sept. 14. 73s. 64s. 1s. 0d.
12. 61 2 8
28. 10 8
Oct. 5. 16 8
12. 20 8
19. 21 8
26. 22 8
During the week of nominal duty no less than 1,514,047 quarters of foreign wheat were liberated from bond, and flung suddenly into the English markets, deranging every calculation of the merchant and farmer, but affording a rich harvest to the speculators. The cargoes which arrived too late to profit by the low duties perished in the warehouses, and were thrown into the sea when they became unfit for human food. As I have before stated, the result was to reduce the price of wheat to the full extent, 12s. a quarter, and, therefore, if the experience of the past is worth anything, it will be this, that the farmers of England will learn that they ought to keep away from foreign importation as long as possible, as the bringing into consumption those 1,500,000 quarters of wheat will only be to reduce prices. Is there anything in the state of the markets, either as to the existing prices or the quantity that is to be consumed, which should induce us to forget the interest of the farmer for the sake of the consumer? The average price of wheat on the 25th of April was no more than 55s. 6d., and that, Sir, is within the range of 54s. and 56s., which, four years ago, the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government stated was the price which would generally be obtained by the operation of his Bill. Well, Sir, has the supply and the consumption been affected by the stagnation in the corn market? I have taken the trouble to compare the quantity of grain sold in England within the last four weeks with the quantity sold during the same period of last year, which is as follows. The noble Lord read the following:— Comparative Statement of Grain sold in England, for the past Four Weeks, with the same period for 1845:—
To 5th April, 1845.
s. d. Quarters.
Wheat 46 5 123,100
Barley 32 5 47,878
Oats 21 4 44,391
Rye 29 6 170
Beans 35 0 9,203
Peas 35 7 1,382
Brought forward 226,124
Carried forward 226,124
To 12th April.
Wheat 46 3 99,629
Barley 32 5 42,183
Oats 20 9 53,304
Rye 30 6 92
Beans 35 5 7,270
Peas 36 6 878
To 19th April.
Wheat 45 11 103,786
Barley 31 11 36,382
Oats 21 4 41,139
Rye 32 1 94
Beans 35 1 7,426
Peas 36 1 840
To 26th April.
Wheat 45 11 115,876
Barley 31 6 29,255
Oats 20 11 47,395
Rye 30 9 207
Beans 35 9 9,369
Peas 36 1 706
Total 821,291
To 4th April, 1846.
Wheat 55 9 120,292
Barley 30 0 73,593
Oats 22 6 56,479
Rye 33 7 300
Beans 34 10 11,460
Peas 34 2 1,831
To 11th April.
Wheat 56 0 104,616
Barley 30 9 66,285
Oats 22 9 46,603
Rye 33 4 200
Beans 35 1 11,961
Peas 33 8 1,965
To 18th April.
Wheat 55 10 101,107
Barley 30 5 58,140
Oats 22 9 41,937
Rye 35 5 371
Beans 34 9 9,599
Peas 34 5 1,456
To 25th April.
Wheat 55 6 118,357
Barley 30 1 53,641
Oats 23 4 45,537
Rye 33 7 332
Beans 34 10 10,536
Peas 33 10 1,392
Total 937,990"
So that in this year of stagnation of trade, in this year of famine, there have been 116,000 quarters more of grain sold in the 288 markets of England than were sold in the four corresponding weeks of last year. Let the farmers of England recollect that this grain is of their own growth, for there has been scarcely any foreign grain introduced into the markets during the last month, which shows clearly that they possess an advantage so long as this delay is continued, which permits them to retain a monopoly of their markets; and the people of England are not suffering from any stint whilst they have the means of purchasing 116,000 quarters more within the last four weeks than in four weeks of the year that is gone by. I hope, therefore, if there is any farmer who has been led to believe, from false friends, that his interests are suffering by not having an immediate settlement of this question, he will now know that it is not so, but quite the contrary; and in reference to the statement that prices would be improved by the infusion of foreign corn, I think I have shown that there can be no proof of that assertion. Sir, again, with respect to prices. We are told that this is a year of famine; and I find, upon comparing the price of this year with the price of last year—which, I believe, was the cheapest year since 1836—I find that wheat has risen in price 21 per cent, oats 11½ per cent, and rye 20¼ per cent; whilst every other description of grain has fallen in a great degree. I am therefore surprised, when I hear people talk of famine, to find that wheat has risen only 21 per cent upon the price of that year, and when it was the very lowest; and the food of the people of Ireland has risen only 10 per cent, therefore, I am reduced to think that those who talk of famine do not know much about it. Sir, on a former occasion I showed, succesfully, I believe, to this House, that the fluctuations in the price of wheat had been much lower in this country since the Bill of 1842 had become the law of this country. I was answered again, by being told that the price of wheat in foreign countries was dependent upon the price of wheat in this country—an assertion which I am not disposed to admit. Rye and oats have not been considered of so much importance as other kinds of grain in this country, and therefore there has not been the same facility for discovering their respective prices, Sir, I have been enabled to obtain an account of the prices and fluctuations of rye and oats in several countries in Europe from 1835 to 1840, which were as follows:—
AMSTERDAM. Greatest fluctuation in the same year.
s. d. Fluctuation.
Highest (1839) 42 6 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1839) 17 6 147 1839 147
Average price, 6 years, 15s.d.
Highest (1839) 23 5 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1836) 9 0 155 1836 122
Namely, highest, 20s.; lowest, 8s.
Highest (1839) 53 0 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1837) 20 6 165 1839 112
Namely, highest, 53s.; lowest, 24s. 9d. Average price, 6 yrs., 19s. 8d.
Highest (1840) 30 0 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1836) 11 0 172 1838 163
Namely, highest, 29s. 3d.; lowest, 11s. 3d.
Highest (1840) 31 8 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1839) 10 6 210 1838 163
Namely, highest, 27s. 6d.; lowest, 12s. Average price, 6 yrs, 10s.d.
Highest (1838) 14 0 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1835) 6 6 133 1835 54
Namely, highest, 10s.; lowest, 6s. 6d.
Highest (1840) 28 0 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1839) 15 0 86 1838 68
Namely, highest, 27s.; lowest, 16s. Average price, 5 years, 14s. 6d.
Highest (1839) 20 0 per cent. per cent.
Lowest (1837) 10 9 100 1837 70
Namely, highest, 17s.; lowest, 10s.
Now, Sir, when it is recollected, that after the passing of the Corn Bill of 1842, that the fluctuations of prices in this country have never exceeded 30 per cent in the food of the people, it must be evident, that those people who rely upon the principle that the repeal of the Corn Laws will create greater steadiness of prices, will find that they are much mistaken; for instead of prices obtaining greater steadiness, they must, by a repeal of the Corn Laws, be affected by the fluctuations of other countries. The late Mr. Huskisson, who has been always considered a good authority, and whose opinions have often been referred to, held the language from 1814 down to the period of his death, that the prices should remain steady, and it was fluctuation which most affected the interests of the country; therefore, Sir, if I have shown you that not only in wheat, but in rye and oats, the food of the people of those countries—that in all foreign countries, the fluctuations in prices have been much greater than in England during the existence of the sliding-scale; unless you are able to refute those statements of mine the ground is cut from under your feet, when you endeavour to impress upon the farmers that the country will prosper under a repeal of the Corn Laws to a greater extent than under that of the sliding-scale. Sir, we were told in the early part of this discussion, that it was for us to choose as our motto, "Advance" or "Recede." We were told by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, that if we made our election to advance, we should raise the watchword for all the nations of Europe and America—that there would be no State of Europe or America in which the friends of commercial freedom would not be encouraged. We were told that Prussia was already shaken. Sir, we were told once before, by the hon. and learned Member for Bolton, that Prussia was determined to retreat—that we had only to mitigate our laws regarding corn and timber, and that Prussia would immediately relax her restrictions. Well, Sir, we do largely relax, both in regard to timber and corn; but Prussia has not been shaken—Prussia has not relaxed—but has drawn closer the laws with regard to her trade with this country. Sir, we were told that if we relaxed, it would have a great effect upon the French Government—that reflecting minds in France would be enabled successfully to work with the Chambers of France, and the authorities which consist of the commercial interests of the country. Sir, when the right hon. Baronet comes down to this House, and states that the Government of France are willing to relax her laws, we take it for granted that the right hon. Gentleman has some formal information to that effect. But, Sir, what is the course that has been adopted by the Ministers of France? Do M. Guizot and the other Ministers seize the opportunity of expressing their admiration of the policy of England, and give the highest praise to the right hon. Gentleman? Far from it: they tell the people of France that France is not prepared to tread in the path of England. Sir, do not we find that France has not adopted the watchword, or attempted to avail herself of the relaxation in our duties? When we find that the promise of the right hon. Gentleman has no chance of being fulfilled, you are not entitled to say that she acts with any degree of reciprocity. The language used by M. Guizot is as remarkable as it is beautiful; and I am sure the House will excuse me for reading a passage from the report of the French Chambers on the 1st of April last. M. Guizot says— No one, Gentlemen, is a greater friend than I am to the influence of landed property, and, I will say, to the preponderance of the agricultural interests in a great country. I am convinced that that interest is the best and most solid foundation for the prosperity and the security of society. I am, then, for my own part, a very sincere and very decided friend of the influence of the agricultural interest in a great country. No one can deny that in England in particular it is the influence of landed property, of the agricultural interest, to the influence of what people have been in the habit of calling the territorial aristocracy, that England owes its strength, and a great part of its liberties, and its prosperity. England has found in that class what all great nations will find among the same class, while they search for it, the spirit of conservatism and the spirit of independence at the same time; that is to say, the two great pledges of liberty and political power. These, Sir, are the sentiments of one of the wisest Ministers that ever governed a great country. These are the sentiments of one of the wisest Ministers—of one of the wisest Monarchs, that ever reigned over France. These are the sentiments once entertained by Her Majesty's Ministers; and happy would it be, in my opinion, for England, if she now had Ministers sitting on those benches who entertained opinions expressed with so much eloquence in the Chamber of Deputies on the first day of April last. But, Sir, if such have been the language and sentiments of M. Guizot, it is for this House and for the country to consider what has been the language of this Minister so far as the proposed relaxations are concerned; and what his disposition to adopt a system of reciprocity. Speaking of Sir Robert Peel's plan, he says— Let us, therefore, lay the first portion of Sir Robert Peel's plan aside. It is a great and beautiful spectacle given to us, but there is nothing in it which we should hurry ourselves to take or to apply at home. Let us, then, look to the second. Gentlemen, the second part, the extension of competition as applied to the different branches of national industry, my hon. Friend the Minister of Commerce frankly told you yesterday was the very plan on which the French Government has been acting for several years past. It is true that in the matter of industry we are conversators, we are protectors. We intend to maintain the conservative system and the protecting system; but we also intend to modify, to enlarge, and to soften it in proportion as new wants may require, and as the change or new opportunities may cast up. Not only do we intend to do this, but we have always done it. How many prohibitions have been abolished since 1830? How many tariffs have been lowered? If a table of these abolitions and reductions were placed before you, you would see what progress we have already made in that course, truly liberal and reforming, while it is at the same time moderate and prudent. I wish the First Minister of this country showed the same prudence as has been manifested by the Ministsr of a foreign country. What are the sentiments of the French Minister of Commerce? Speaking of the commercial reforms of the English Ministry, he says— The economical reforms proposed in the British Parliament cannot fail to have fixed the general attention. Those who think that we should not hesitate to imitate the example given us by the English Parliament, advise a premature and dangerous act. I do not think, notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, that Prussia will fall into our line of policy. I do not think that the success of the principles hitherto acted upon in Prussia will induce her to an abandonment of her present course. When the right hon. Baronet talked about Prussia, and anticipated such flattering results from the reciprocity system, I think he found himself in the same fool's paradise as was expressed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary at War, referring to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bolton. Prussia may, indeed, rejoice at being able to export larger quantities of timber and corn; but I do not think it will be found that she will import more of our cotton manufactures, of our printed calicoes, than she does at present. Now, Sir, with respect to America. Do you think the United States of America are prepared to abolish her hostile tariffs? Does the last news from America display any intention of adopting such a line of policy? I think not. It is apparent from the latest information, that there is no probability of her being able to spare the revenue which is at present raised by her high tariffs. Well, then, Sir, is there anything that has transpired since the last discussion upon the Corn Laws in this House, to make us lean more strongly to the policy of Government respecting them? Has anything transpired with regard to Ireland, out of which the right hon. Baronet can argue that the protective system ought to be done away with? Has that potato famine which it was at first predicted would occur in February—afterwards, as the debate wore on, was postponed till March—and then, as this discussion drew "its slow length along," was put off again until May, when it was solemnly declared, in prophetic tones, that that month would not have arrived until all his melancholy forebodings had been confirmed—has that famine, I say, Sir, arrived yet? The fulfilment of the last prophecy was postponed until July. Now, I ask the Government, has that potato famine happened? So far from it, Sir, I believe, generally speaking, the prices of potatoes have fallen, rather than increased in the course of the last few weeks. Unquestionably, there is far from being a famine anywhere; nor can it be said, except in a few localities, that there is even greater than even ordinary scarcity. Scarcity there may be—which, unfortunately, is nothing new in many districts in Ireland; but famine is quite a different thing. In Cork, we were told, the greatest scarcity prevailed. We were told that in the city of Cork there was great scarcity. I can hardly believe that the destitution there can be so great as has been set forth. Cork, it is said, has one of the wealthiest corporations in Ireland; it is said to enjoy a revenue of 70,000l. or 80,000l. a year. And how much has this wealthy corporation subscribed for the relief of the people? 100l.!—100l. towards "the relief of the starving people of Cork!" Why, Sir, can any man of sense believe that the corporation of Cork, with a revenue of 70,000l. or 80,000l. a year, would subscribe but 100l. if they really believed that destitution existed to the extent stated by Her Majesty's Ministers, and in some of the reports laid before Parliament? But, Sir, I have other proof that the scarcity of potatoes cannot be altogether so great in the county of Cork as has been represented. I have a letter here from the chairman of the Great Western Steam Company, mentioning, that on the 1st of May the Olive packet arrived at Bristol with sixty tons of potatoes from the county of Cork. What are the gentry of Ireland doing? What is the Government of Ireland about, if famine prevails, that they do not buy up the potatoes and prevent their exportation? I hold in my hand a letter referring to another county, which, when distress prevails, has always been the first to feel it—I mean the county of Mayo—and what states this letter? It is from Mr. Browne, who was once a Member of this House. It is dated April 21, 1846, and addressed to my noble Friend Lord Stanley. It is perhaps as well to state that Mr. Browne is the agent, I should rather say the cousin, of the Marquess of Sligo, and that he manages the Irish estates of that nobleman. The letter is as follows:— Market Browne, Monday 21, 1846. My dear Lord—I have thought it right to permit three weeks to pass over since I last wrote, in order that I might be enabled to send your Lordship a report embracing the proceedings of these markets in our principal towns, and which generally regulate and determine the prices throughout the country: the markets of Westport and Castlebar, to which I refer, three weeks since, suddenly, and without any apparent cause, got into a very excited state, and prices of meal and potatoes advanced considerably. It is not at all wonderful that the markets should be excited when Her Majesty's Ministers alarmed the country by declaring there was danger of a famine. When Her Majesty's Ministers, who, informer periods, have been looked up to as speaking nothing but the truth, as accurately describing the condition of the country, have, to serve their own purposes, raised an excitement by which they hoped to carry the repeal of the Corn Laws; it is little wonder the markets should have been disturbed, and that men's minds should have been excited. It is, I say, Her Majesty's Ministers, who by concocting a false alarm—who by exaggerating local appearances of scarcity into a general famine—it is they who have caused an unnatural elevation of the price of food, by raising a hope that those who bought it up for gain, would be able to sell it again at famine price. If the price of food in Ireland was at one period unnaturally high, it was in a great measure caused by the alarm wickedly and unfoundedly raised by the Government. The letter goes on to say— But the two last market prices of potatoes and meal have returned to the most moderate rates, with supplies, which, both in quantity and quality, have never been exceeded at this season of the year—indeed, the supply of potatoes at Westport, last Thursday, was so great, that a considerable portion had to be stored from want of purchasers; and, at Castlebar, Saturday's prices were drooping, with a full supply and quality excellent: the present prices throughout the country may thus be quoted:—Perlor potatoes, first quality of the article, from 3½d. to 4d. per stone; lumper potatoes, second quality, 2½d. to 3d. per stone; oatmeal in the greatest abundance at from 14s. to 15s. per cwt. Here we have not the slightest excitement on the score of famine, or even scarcity; for every one feels confident that the former is impossible, while the latter, if it comes, can be easily met by the supplies already secured for themselves by the great bulk of the population, and with the huge amount of oatmeal in the hands of merchants and petty speculators throughout the country. In short, every day's experience strongly points out the exaggerated statements which the Government have thought it right to put forward as a foundation for their ruinous proceedings, which will prove much more rotten than their poor potato allies. The county surveyor, Mr. Best, a most intelligent man, and who, for the last month, in attendance at the usual and extraordinary road sessions, has been lately in every hole and corner of the county, no later than Saturday, in the course of a long conversation with me, told me that he had no fears about famine; that even a scarcity he did not think was to be apprehended beyond a period of three or four weeks between the old and new crop; and that he knew that there were ample supplies to meet every possible demand. The present distress, he says, is to be found in little over-peopled spots, the property of poor, negligent, or absentee landlords, who under any circumstances, must be wretched at this season of the year. He says that he has no hesitation in saying that there never was such a delusion attempted as the idea of famine in this part of Ireland. Lord Lucan's agent also told me on Saturday, that he apprehended not in the least even a serious scarcity; that Lord Lucan had sent him instructions a few days previously to purchase fifty tons of oatmeal for his tenantry; but that he replied to Lord Lucan that he did not think it necessary to make the purchase, both on the grounds that he did not believe the tenantry would require it, and that most likely, from the abundance of supplies, prices would be much more moderate in a month than now. The next great property is Sir Roger Pitman's. His agent takes exactly the same view of things as Lord Lucan's, and as to Lord Sligo's huge principality here, for, in truth, from its extent, it may be so termed, we have no fears, for the people on it have as yet plenty, and anything that is wanting, should there be a little pressure, Lord Sligo will himself find. Under all these circumstances, as you may suppose, we are in good spirits here; and if the Government will be charitable enough not to try and convince us that we are dying of hunger and disease, while we are contented, hale, and hearty, we shall weather the storm that they, with such industry, have raised wantonly, and cruelly; it must be said that they have (like in all such matters) been obliged to bolster up their first exaggeration (a mild term), by adding a more gross story in the matter of pestilence, which is not at present to be heard of anywhere. I have shown you then, that in Mayo, the highest quality of potato, ranged at 3½d. to 4d. per stone, and the second quality from 2½d. to 3d. per stone. I have also shown you that oatmeal has varied its price, at from 14s. to 15s. a cwt. Docs that betoken scarcity? I think I have given you a fair picture of the actual state of things in Mayo. I will now turn to Tipperary. And first I will quote the statement of the correspondent of the Dublin Evening Mail of May 1; he says— The labourers in the South Riding of Tipperary refuse to work for less than 1s. 4d. a day, which is an advance of 4d. per diem on the rate of wages paid last year. In most cases the farmers have been obliged to pay the advance, otherwise their lands would have remained uncultivated this spring. The best potatoes were selling in Cashel last Saturday at 4d. a stone of fourteen pounds. Cashel is the most extensive market for potatoes of any in the county of Tipperary, and generally regulates the prices of those rates in all the other markets of that country, being the place from which the colliers of Slieveardah are principally supplied. The demand at present is mostly for seed potatoes, to be put into the ground during the month of May. As yet no very extraordinary scarcity appears; and it is thought that, after the planting season is over, the prices must fall considerably, and indeed, that those of inferior quality will be then altogether unsaleable. Indian meal is beginning to make its appearance, and the prejudices against its use are wearing away. The mining colliers use it abundantly, and they are accustomed to better food than agricultural labourers. The miners seldom cultivate any land, but depend almost entirely on the markets for their subsistence. Their wages are good, being from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per day, according to abilities. But, Sir, I have other letters from Tipperary. I have one from Lord Glengall to the Earl of Charleville, of which I will read an extract to the House. It is dated Caher, April 20, and the passage runs thus:— With respect to the outrages which have taken place at Clonmel and vicinity, I have to state, that on the 17th instant, the magistrates of Clonmel met, during the turmoil, and represented to Government that the outrages which have taken place in that town and neighbourhood, particularly the attack on the boats, have not been committed by the destitute poor; that though destitution does exist to a great extent, it is made by others a pretext for an insurrectionary movement of a very dangerous character, which, if not immediately checked, may be productive of very serious consequences; that parties of loose character, at night, went to the farmers residing at the foot of Sliem, Naman Mountain, and obliged them to join the movement, and give their carts for the purpose of placing them at the bridge of Killshelan village, in order to carry away the plunder taken from the boats of the Clonmel merchants; they also stated, that on the day previous (the 16th) they had information of a large party of armed men being at the above bridge. For my own part, I can confidently state, that it is the unanimous opinion of the authorities that these outrages have been principally, if not wholly, committed by mere plunderers, and by mobs of farmers' servant men, temporarily hired, and other loose characters, strangers in this country, who, this season in every year, wander about the country, looking for employment. I should add that Clonmel cannot be excelled by any town in England of same extent, for more steady, regular, and constant employment of mechanics and the labouring classes. With respect to the price of potatoes at Clonmel, when the returns were made to this House, they were stated at 5d. and 5½d. per stone. On the 18th of April, as appears from a return in my hand, good potatoes were in the next principal town, and in the same county, Cashel, only 3½d. per stone—a sufficient proof that the temporary rise in the markets was the effect of sudden excitement. I believe it is notorious that the disturbances which occurred in Carrick-on-Suir did not arise from the destitution of the rioters, for it is stated that two of the ringleaders had, the one a bank receipt for 20l., and the other a bank receipt for 50l. in their pockets when arrested. It has been very currently rumoured that Mr. Gulson, one of the Poor Law Commissioners, was sent to Ireland for the purpose of ascertaining the actual state of things there, and that the result of his observations would not permit him to confirm the statements of the Government. I think, at all events, that if a gentleman of the character and station of a Poor Law Commissioner has been sent to Ireland for the purpose of ascertaining the truth of the reports as regards the scarcity there, we have a right to expect that such information should be laid before Parliament. But it would seem that all information has been assiduously kept back from us, which would go to prove that the statements of the Government were incorrect, and that every document which could in any way sustain these statements has been with great pains and industry supplied. I will read an extract from the Evening Mail, showing the state of things in Loughshcelan:— Your panic-mongers have eaten dirt, and are regorging it in apologies and excuses for the low prices which potatoes have fetched throughout the country for the four last months. One authorized reporter assures us that this unforeseen anomaly is owing to the farmers drafting them off to market in order to get rid of them before they become tainted or rotten. This reasoning has been cheered and echoed in the House of Commons from day to day; and yet, here we are on May-eve, the period fixed for the total exhaustion of the produce; and so far are the perverse potatoes from fulfilling the prophecy, that they are actually coming in the market in greater abundance than is required by the consumers as food, and of those also who want them for seeding their land. Nay, more, it is the opinion of the best informed upon the subject—and I have spoken to many whose knowledge and inquiries are extensive—gentlemen, farmers, and labourers—that as soon as the planting season is over, we shall have good, sound, healthy potatoes, much cheaper than they are at present. There is great demand for labour throughout the country, at advancing wages—the current prices being from 1s. to 1s. 3d. a day, without diet; and with diet, 1s. There is much spring work yet undone; and until that is finished, the demand for labour will continue as brisk as it is at present. The weather of late has been as favourable to health as to farming operations. There is no fever in the country that I could hear of. The correspondent of the Dublin Evening Mail goes on to speak of Granard:— At Granard, on Monday last, there was an immense supply of potatoes, at from 3d. to 4d. a stone. Many cart loads remaining unsold were brought home by the owners, greatly disappointed that their promised high prices could not be realized. Kilnalek market, on Thursday, presented the same features. The market of Cavan, on Tuesday, was abundantly supplied with potatoes of excellent quality, at prices varying from 3½d. to 4¾d. a stone. Oatmeal brought from 14s. 9d. to 15s. 3d. per cwt. On the preceding Thursday, nearly one-half of the potatoes remained unsold, and was carried back by the owners. The best could be had in the evening at 3d. per stone. And, as regards the market price at Ballyjamesduff, the same correspondent says— At Ballyjamesduff, where (if Parliamentary Reports are to be credited) the scarcity is said to be so great as to drive people to suicide (!), the market on the 21st of April was glutted with the supply. Many cart-loads of good, sound, healthy potatoes left the market unsold, though offered so low as from 3d. to 4d. a stone. One instance will suffice to show, that so far as this kind of food is concerned, we have no lack of it. A farmer sold a cart-load of sound, excellent seed potatoes early in the day at 3½d. a stone, and received from the purchaser half-a-crown as earnest. The market price fell, and he left the potatoes with the farmer (whose name and place of abode our correspondent has furnished us with) forfeiting his half-crown; and they were brought home in the evening by the owner. The potatoes were unexceptionable; excellent healthy seed. In fact, so far as the greater portion of the county of Cavan is concerned, the supply, to my knowledge, far exceeds the demand. The following is from the Mayo Constitution:We are happy to state that provisions still continue at moderate prices in this town. Indeed we cannot say that a scarcity is to be feared in this neighbourhood. Potatoes rated on Saturday last, at from 3½d. to 4d. per stone; meal, at from 14s. to 15s. per cwt.; and when we compare these prices with those of 1844 and 1845, we think we have grounds for our assertion. Potatoes sold in April, 1844, in this town, at from 2½d, to 3d. per stone, and meal from 11s. to 12s. per cwt.; and in 1845, potatoes from 2½d. to 3½d. per stone, and meal from 10s. 10d. to 12s. per cwt. I will read another extract from the Clare Journal of May 1. It is headed "Plentiful Supply of Potatoes:"— Our two last market days were absolutely overstocked with this edible; and in the memory of the most experienced market men, seldom has a better description or a larger supply been witnessed here; they seem to have resuscitated and come forth in their primitive fame and comeliness, to cheer the heart of brother Pat in his most desponding moment. There has been a marked similarity between the disease by which they were partially affected, and that of the frightful pestilence, cholera, which committed such ravages in many families, while their neighbours totally escaped its scourge—the crops of many turned out prolific and sound, and so continued; when others—unfortunately the most struggling people—suffered most by the visitation; and a loss in a poor man's customary food, he being solely at the mercy of casual labour, overpowers and brings him to a state of pauperism. Were it not for the failure, of which we have heard so many complaints—greatly exaggerated we are sure they have been—potatoes would be almost a drug in this and other markets. There were 140 tons brought into Sligo market on last Saturday, which sold from 1s. to 1s. 5d. per peck, the latter priced being cups and apples of a superior kind—diseased potatoes are fast disappearing; those brought in for sale bring from 6d. to 8d. per peck, about the eighth portion being tainted. We have been assured by respectable farmers that they have sustained but small loss in this way, having given them to cattle, which seemed to relish and thrive on that food. One-half the oatmeal, two tons, at 15s., brought in for sale, was left unpurchased. I could read numerous other statements of the same tendency referring to other Irish counties; and it is in vain for Her Majesty's Ministers to say that any thing has occurred since the commencement of the debates as regards famine in Ireland, which could justify the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government in saying that those laws which he had hitherto admitted to be impolitic, he now deems to be unjust. I think we are entitled to know before we go into Committee on this question, what are the new circumstances which have come to the knowledge of the right hon. Baronet, which has caused him for the last time to change anew his opinion. With regard to this potato famine, I have before referred to the speeches of the French Minister. I will again refer to the official letters published in the month of November last by the French Minister, M. Cunin-Gridaine. When the alarm of famine was raised in France, M. Cunin-Gridaine did not tread in the footsteps of the English Minister; he did not attempt to exaggerate the alarm, and cause panic or excitement in the minds of the people of France. But on the contrary, he addressed an argumentative letter to the préfets of France, which was published in all the journals, and in which he calmly entered into a full discussion, and brought the people of France to the conviction that there was no just ground for excitement or alarm, either in France or in any other country in the world. And what was the result? The result was, as I could show by the corn circulars by me, that the prices of corn in Paris rose less than in any other country in Europe. The good sense of the English people, too, went far to correct the mischief attempted by by Her Majesty's Ministers — the good sense of the English people showed them that the stack-yards of the farmer were fuller than they had been ever before known—that there was abundance of corn of all descriptions—they reflected upon the large amount of grain in bond, and they knew that there was more corn in the granaries than in most former years, and that thus they would not be hurried into that feeling of hopelessness and desperation which the statements of the First Minister of the Crown were so well calculated to create. Now, Sir, I come to the address of the French Minister of Commerce to the Prefects of France. He writes on the 15th November— I deem it useful to fix our opinion on the subject, in order that you may guard against exaggerations, and to furnish you with the means of reassuring the people, always so easily alarmed in matters relating to provisions. How different is this from the course pursued by the Ministers of England! Then he goes on to show what probability there is of a deficiency in the present year's provisions as compared with the last; and he argues that every year, at the same period, the prices have a tendency to rise, but that at the beginning of another year they begin to fall again. I remember a statement also made by the Minister of Commerce, in which he said that alarm had been created by the state of the potatoes in Ireland; but the news which the day before, that is, on the 14th of November, he had received, assured him that this cry of a potato famine in Ireland had been greatly exaggerated. Thus, Sir, so far back as the moment when the Minister of England was exciting the greatest alarm in this country, the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce in France was assuring his country that he ascertained that the statement with regard to the famine in Ireland was altogether exaggerated. But, Sir, I have other authorities, showing how much and how fully the facts have been exaggerated. Mr. Campbell Foster, the Times Commissioner, in one of the last letters he addressed to that paper, says— We must also remember that the cry about an Irish 'famine' does not proceed from uninterested parties. The Irish peasantry will make a 'poor mouth' because they hope to get some of England's bounty, and to escape paying their rent. The Irish landlords generally have no reason to contradict the cry in this country, for if John Bull is persuaded that the Irish are starving, his sympathies will be roused, and whatever he pays or gives to Ireland will find its way to the landlords' pockets eventually; at any rate, it will stop a hole in the gap of necessity, which they must fill up themselves if John Bull does not, for the peasant will consume the rent rather than starve. And lastly, at this juncture, Sir Robert Peel and the Government listen favourably to such an outcry, for it greatly aids the success of their measure regarding the Corn Laws. Here, then, in this disposition favourably to listen to the cry of famine in Ireland do we find the cause of those reports which have exaggerated so much the state of Irish scarcity and famine. But while upon this subject we have 414 reports from 414 districts in Ireland, I want to know why we have not the other reports received from other districts laid before us? Sir, I have now stated my reasons for thinking that, at least as regards Ireland, no new information has sprung up which at all justifies Her Majesty's Ministers in dealing with the Corn Laws. I have shown that, as regards Prussia, as regards France, and as regards America, the vague promises which were held out by Her Majesty's Ministers, that, by adopting these free-trade measures, we should encourage the Governments of those countries to relax their restrictions in favour of our trade, have all been disappointed; and therefore that, unless Her Majesty's Minister can get up a show that there are some new facts which he can bring to our knowledge, not yet imparted to the House, I think, Sir, I am justified in opposing your leaving the chair, and in moving that you leave the chair this day three months.


Sir, I shall, in the first place, notice that part of the speech of the noble Lord, the concluding part, which referred to the position and circumstances of Ireland; and I certainly did little expect, after the information that has been laid upon the Table by Her Majesty's Government, not an unfair selection of facts as the noble Lord states, but the full and entire reports received from the Scarcity Commissioners appointed by Government—I say, Sir, that I did not expect any hon. Gentleman would now rise in this House and deny the allegations contained therein. I know very well that scarcity is not universal in that country. I know that there are parts of that country in which the disease which has generally attacked the potato either does not exist at all, or at least does not exist to that calamitous extent which prevails in other parts; and you may find gentlemen living in the immediate vicinity of those more favoured parts, writing letters with the view of showing that there is, after all, no great rise in the price of these necessary articles of food. You may multiply those letters from particular counties, which, as far as they go, appear to give a contradiction to the facts which we have laid before you. Nevertheless, it is, I say, impossible to doubt the statement that there does exist in that country great scarcity—that there does exist much disease, growing out of that scarcity of food, in many parts to almost an unparalleled extent. The remedy which we are now applying to those evils is the purchase of food in order to provide subsistence to a population who would otherwise be subject to the most frightful privations. Out of what source do those means come? Is there a great fund at the disposal of Government applicable to the purchase of food for the subsistence of the Irish people? No; the source from which these purchases have been made is the taxation of the United Kingdom. The noble Lord says, "Why, there were six hundred tons of potatoes brought out of Ireland for the supply of Liverpool and Bristol." Is it the remedy the noble Lord would propose, to interrupt this natural supply of food for this country, by purchasing it out of the money raised by the general taxation of the kingdom? The noble Lord charges us with indifference, because we did not purchase from this stock which has been sent for the ordinary supply of the people of this country. There have been, no doubt, reductions of prices in some of the Irish markets; but how has this been caused? Why, because we have been purchasing large quantities of Indian meal, and thereby checking the price of potatoes by the supply we have kept up of that article—an article of food purchased by us with the public money. I refer, Sir, to the several reports which have been laid upon the Table; and I ask the noble Lord whether he thinks that there is a universal conspiracy on the part of these gentlemen in Ireland to misrepresent the condition of that country? whether he thinks they have conspired to state that famine and disease do exist, when the real fact is there is no foundation for such assertions? We have not withheld from the knowledge of this House all the information that has reached us; and the House will judge whether we are justly chargeable with any exaggeration of facts for the purpose of facilitating the passing of the Corn Law measure. The noble Lord says, that we are countenancing delusion. Now, that is rather a heavy charge. How came the noble Lord himself to say, that he would consent to an extraordinary measure, namely, that he would permit for a period the importation of food into Ireland free of duty? Did not the noble Lord give a willing consent to the adoption of such a course? Well, then, you believe that that would be a remedy for the evils of Ireland; and yet, the noble Lord believes that there is no foundation for stating that famine exists in Ireland. Well, then, if that be so, what could induce the noble Lord to consent to such an extraordinary measure as allowing the importation of foreign corn and provisions into Ireland free of duties? If it is the duty of the Legislature to undeceive the people, and not to countenance delusions, it is clearly incumbent on those who, entertaining the same opinions as the noble Lord, see no necessity whatsoever for any change in the law, to resist the proposition for such an extraordinary measure as that. [Lord G. BENTINCK: Hear, hear.] I confess I do not quite understand that cheer. This is what the noble Lord says— I believe that the importation of foreign provisions into Ireland duty free would be no remedy whatever for the present evil. I believe what the people of Ireland want is the money to purchase that food, which I think is abundant; but still I will consent to such a measure for the present. The noble Lord, however, now says that there is no particular necessity in Ireland for any such change in the law. He says— I do not think that there is any necessity for resorting to extraordinary measures. I think that a resort to extraordinary measures would but have the effect of countenancing the existing delusion, and of keeping up the price of food. And yet the noble Lord is ready to countenance that delusion by permitting the importation of provisions into Ireland duty free. Am I wrong in saying that the noble Lord is ready to consent to such a step? And upon what ground? Why, because the Irish Members wished it. Well, but they could only have wished it under a strong impression that there was a necessity for such a measure. Among the whole body of Irish Members there was such an alarm on account of the scarcity of food in Ireland, that they felt it was necessary, in order to procure an adequate supply, to ask for the suspension of the law which imposes duties upon foreign provisions. The noble Lord then, it appears, believes that the Irish Members, generally, wish for such an extraordinary measure; and he is, therefore, willing to consent to it on this ground. The noble Lord at one time thinks that there is a conspiracy to deceive this House; and at another he is willing to trust to the assurances of the Irish Members that this scarcity does exist. I was certainly under the impression that the noble Lord did feel there was a scarcity of food in Ireland to justify the extraordinary measure to which he had consented, because I perceived that he did not express his willingness to yield in the same way to the opinions of the Irish Members on another subject—those Members that are opposed to the passing of the Coercion Bill. A case I considered was proved—that there was a necessity for the Coercion Bill: that case was established against the wishes and the opinions of the majority of the Irish Members. Notwithstanding the expression of such opinions, the noble Lord refused to oppose that Bill. If, however, the noble Lord really thinks that there is no cause for these statements as to scarcity in Ireland, and that nevertheless he is willing to consent to the extraordinary measure of suspending the law which imposes duties upon foreign provisions imported into Ireland, in deference to the opinions and the wishes of the Irish Members, why in like manner did he not conform to the opinions expressed by the same Members in reference to the Coercion Bill? Why did he permit himself "to countenance the delusion which was calculated to raise the price of food, and to aggravate the evils of that country?" Sir, you will find that this Irish case will not be limited to this year. The temporary suspension of the law as far as Ireland is concerned, is not sufficient. You will find in the course of this year a much smaller quantity of land dedicated to the growth of potatoes than at any former year. This has arisen—first, from the unwillingness of the farmers to let their land on conacre, for fear of not receiving their rent for it; and, secondly, from the apprehensions in the minds of the cottier and peasant, that the same disease would affect the potato in this year that so generally prevailed in the crops of last year. You must, therefore, calculate upon the probability of this pressure extending beyond the month of August next; and next year we will have to provide again for a deficient supply. So far, then, as Ireland is concerned, I absolutely deny that there has been any exaggeration on the part of the Government. I peremptorily deny that there has been anything like intentional exaggeration on our part for the purpose, as has been alleged, of facilitating the passing of the present measure. A Government that sees the progress of this disease, and is responsible for the well-being and protection of the people from famine and scarcity, has highly important and responsible duties to perform, which, if neglected, and those reasonable precautions not adopted, intolerable evils must consequently be felt which might have been obviated. Universal condemnation would be naturally pronounced against the Government that should run that risk, and neglect these reasonable precautions. And this censure is now lavished upon us by the noble Lord and his party for what they call our superfluous precautions. With ten times more force and ten times more justice would this censure be applicable, if, presuming these reports before us to be true, we had neglected the precautions of increasing the supply of food in Ireland. The noble Lord says, I stated the other night that in the course of this discussion, the opinion which I had entertained upon the subject had undergone a change, and that those restrictions which I some time since thought impolitic, I now believe to be unjust. Sir, I adopt and deliberately repeat that statement. I do believe the restrictions upon the importation of food to be inconsistent with justice and sound policy. The noble Lord may have a right to blame me for making that discovery at so late a period, and may say that I ought to have seen this injustice at least three or four years ago. I admit, Sir, that those who have intuitive perception to tell them that which is right in respect to matters relating to commercial policy—I admit, Sir, that those who, after patient and deliberate consideration, adopt at once the right course, are much more entitled to the credit attending such a course of policy, than others who, at a later period of life, adopt their sentiments. But it is the duty of those who have reason to change their opinions, to have the manliness to come forward and own their convictions. Sir, I think it is dishonest for a man, after being convinced upon a particular subject, to endeavour to gain credit for consistency, by being either unwilling or afraid to admit the change. I admit that this alteration in my opinions may disentitle me to the noble Lord's confidence; but I must recollect that the question for the country is not a personal one. It is not a question as to what period a man has changed, or ought to change his political opinions. The real question is—are these measures consistent with justice and sound policy? That, Sir, is the only question which we have now to consider. If you blame me for not having discovered sooner the necessity of such a measure as the present, you may say that this circumstance disentitles me to your confidence; but that will not enable you to escape the necessity of arguing this question on account of personal imputations. Are these restrictions politic and just? I have no hesitation in saying, I do not think they are consistent with justice. But the noble Lord says, I ought now to state the grounds for this opinion. I had no reason to believe that this discussion would have come on to-night. I thought that it was to be taken upon the third reading; and I had not the slightest reason to suppose that the noble Lord, in the exercise of his discretion, would have made a demand on me at any period of this discussion for the grounds of my opinion. But, as the noble Lord requires me to do so, I will assign the grounds upon which, after mature consideration, after hearing these debates, and even after having listened to the speeches of the noble Lord himself, I have come to the conclusion that these restrictions are not politic, and are not consistent with justice. I do not think that you can defend any restrictions upon the importation of food—that is, to increase the natural price of food by legislative intervention, except on some great public reasons connected with the public good. I think, Sir, the presumption is against those restrictions. The natural presumption, I think, particularly in the House of Commons, which has already adopted the principle of freedom from restriction in respect to almost all other articles of importation, is in favour of the unrestricted importation of food. Consistency on the part of the House requires that the same principle that has been applied to almost all other articles of foreign produce shall be applied in like manner to food, unless you can, for some reason connected with the general and the permanent welfare of the country, establish a distinction between food and all other articles of produce. You must in fact show that it is for the general interest of the country that these restrictions should continue. Sir, it is because I cannot with truth allege that if you establish free trade in corn, you will probably become dependent upon foreign nations for your supply of the necessaries of life—it is because I do not believe that the rate of wages varies directly with the price of food—it is because I cannot persuade myself that with respect to the intelligent farmers, it can be considered that this protection is necessary to agricultural prosperity—it is because I cannot establish these facts, I have come to the conclusion that the natural presumption in favour of unrestricted importation ought to prevail, and therefore that it is unjust to continue these legislative restrictions upon food. I feel it absolutely incumbent on me to maintain one or other of these propositions. I have listened to the argument that in this country, with a very heavy taxation, there was a reason for the continuance of the duties upon the import of corn. Upon mature consideration and reflection, I believe that argument to be totally without foundation. I believe it is impossible to assign the high rate of taxation as a valid reason for continuing the duties. I believe it to be illogical to contend that because the great mass of the community are heavily taxed, and necesrarily heavily taxed, in respect to the consumption of many of their commodities, therefore that is a good reason why they should also be taxed in the price of their corn. I do believe, also, that by increasing the resources from which you draw your supply of food, by bringing it from the United States, from Odessa, from the Baltic; by increasing the number of countries in different latitudes which can feel an assurance that the British market will be open to them, and that there will be no operation of a sliding-scale to exclude their produce; you will receive supplies from so many sources, that dependence on any one nation will be impossible. I cannot contend that the probability of dependence upon foreign nations constitutes a reason for maintaining the Corn Laws. Look now at the different classes of the community. Take, first, the manufacturing population. Is it just towards them to continue these laws? Can we maintain, by argument, that the great mass of that population which depends for the means of purchasing its subsistence upon daily labour, and are employed in manufactures—can we contend that they are interested in the maintenance of these laws? If you tell me that the maintenance of these laws will ensure them a more abundant supply of corn at a low price—not this year, or the next, but taking the average of a series of years—that the maintenance of these restrictions will ensure the abundant supply of corn at a lower, or, if you will, at an equal price: I admit that is an argument for their continuance; but I do not admit that your argument is well founded; and when I am asked, as I have been continually, what do I calculate the price of wheat hereafter will be, and whether it will not disturb the Tithe Composition Act; and, as the Corn Laws are calculated to bring 56s., do I not calculate it as highly probable that the price of corn hereafter will be 40s.—when I am asked these questions, they afford a strong presumption, that in the minds of those who put them the unrestricted import of foreign corn will have a tendency, if hot to reduce the price of food, to prevent any considerable increase of the price? The apprehension that the Tithe Composition Act will be permanently deranged by permitting the free importation of wheat, must proceed on the assumption that the calculations are erroneous, and that wheat hereafter will be at a low price. With respect to the great manufacturing population, can we contend that it is for their interest that the price of wheat should be enhanced by restrictions upon corn? I do not believe that the price of food will be enhanced by the removal of these restrictions—I do not believe the removal of the restrictions will have a tendency to increase fluctuations. I believe, therefore, that the great mass of the manufacturing population will be doubly benefited by the removal of these restrictions: first, by increasing the demand for those manufacturing articles upon which their labour is expended; and, in the next place, by giving them, from the wages which they receive, a greater command over the necessaries and comforts of life. I think that will be the double operation of this repeal in the Corn Laws; and, therefore, as far as that part of the population is concerned, I cannot maintain the continuance of restrictions on the ground of benefit to them. Now, with respect to the community at large, consider the article wheat, and the producers of that article, for whom principally these restrictions are to be maintained, maize being already admitted duty free, there remain only oats and barley, besides wheat, on which the duty falls; and I apprehend there is no such danger of competition, in barley at least, as would lead us to expect a great diminution of the price of barley by increasing the supply from abroad. There remain, then, wheat and oats, and principally wheat, for which the restrictions are maintained. Let us consider what parts of this country, and how much of it, are districts producing wheat. I apprehend that no one will dispute that the wheat plant requires to ripen it a considerable heat of the sun; and if you were to divide Great Britain by a line drawn from Inverness to Southampton, I think you will find the wheat-growing districts to be, to a considerable extent, to the eastward of that line. I do not mean to say, that to the westward of that line, as in Somersetshire and Shropshire, you will not find wheat-growing districts; but, speaking generally, both in Scotland and England, you will find the wheat-growing districts to be to the eastward of a line drawn from Inverness to Southampton. I say, then, that all that portion of the country which lies to the westward of the line has no interest in the restrictions on the importation of wheat. I do not apprehend that the agricultural portion of Lancashire is at all interested in maintaining the restrictions on the importation of wheat; and my belief is, that the wheat-growing districts of this country are, comparatively speaking, a particular portion of this country, on account of its exposure on the eastern coast, and freedom from the humidity of the western coast; and that with respect to a great portion of this country—nearly half of it—it would be difficult to show that the agricultural interest gains any advantage from a law which increases the price of food. I think the noble Lord himself read me a pretty strong lesson the other night to show that Ireland is not much interested in the continuance of these restrictions, because the noble Lord on a former night described the position of the Irish farmer to be this. He said that Lord Essex had declared, that a farmer with large capital and much skill might contend against unrestricted import; but Lord Essex, speaking of farmers without capital and much skill, said it would be difficult for them to contend against unrestricted import; that there are 588,000 farmers in Ireland, and that they will answer the description, speaking generally, as a mass of persons without capital, and certainly without skill. Well then, I ask, what has protection done for them? Is it the fact that there are at this moment 588,000 persons employed in the promotion of agriculture in Ireland, with their families dependent upon them; and that it can be truly asserted of them that they are farmers without capital and without skill? If it can be asserted generally of the farmers of Ireland, as a class, that they are men without capital and skill, can we contend that protection has been for their interest? To make the assertion that they have realized no capital, is a very strong proof that protection has not been for their benefit. Then, with respect to the agricultural labourer. Can we say that protection has operated for his advantage? Ireland is peculiarly agricultural; can it be said that the agricultural labourer has flourished in Ireland? Is it not the case, that in the part of the country where the agricultural labourer most abounds, he has been suffering from scarcity and the pressure of hunger? What is the answer made to our statement of the sufferings of the people of Ireland? "This is nothing extraordinary—this is nothing unusual—this is nothing out of the common course of nature; every year this is the same; there are districts where, every year, the potato crops fail, where it is impossible to make the two ends meet; the potatoes fail in June or early in July, and from that time till the new crop is dug up the labourer is obliged to subsist upon charity, or whatever means will suffice for the purpose of maintaining life." If that be, as you say, the normal state of the Irish agricultural labourer—if that be his ordinary condition, and therefore we are not justified in an extraordinary remedy—can we contend that protection to agriculture has been greatly for the benefit of the agricultural classes in Ireland? Take it as you will—either that the present is an especial case, and then our special remedies are justifiable; or if, on the other hand, you are correct that there is always prevailing throughout six months in the year destitution and famine—admitting your allegations to be correct, can you have a stronger impeachment of the state of the law under which this is the condition of the agricultural labourer? I cannot admit, then, that the continuance of these restrictive laws is advantageous to the manufacturing interest, or for the interest of that class in Ireland which is immediately connected with them. With respect to the agricultural class here, I do not deny that this change in the law will be altogether unaccompanied by distress. I cannot deny that so great a change can be made without involving some in distress. I deeply regret it. I wish it were possible to make any change in any great system of law without subjecting some persons to distress; but is it not the fact that the parties who will be most distressed of all will be those who have neither science, nor skill, nor capital? Is it possible permanently to maintain a law which cannot be shown to be advantageous to the men of science, capital, and skill, but which can only be maintained in order to give the means of subsistence to those who have not science, capital, and skill? Should we be justified in maintaining these laws, and taxing the food of the great body of the community, on the allegation, not that they are necessary for the protection of agriculturists who have science and skill, but that they are necessary for the protection of those who go on adhering to the old system, and have neglected the means of improvement? If you cannot permanently maintain the laws, my firm impression is that the sooner you make known to the country what is your ultimate decision the better. I believe that the bulk of the agricultural interest is also of that opinion. I believe that the agricultural interest is desirous of ascertaining the ultimate decision of Parliament with respect to the present system. That is my decided opinion. I believe that the agriculturist with capital and with skill, not only derives no advantage from these laws, but is subject to prejudice on account of them. I believe he has no interest in the maintenance of them. I do not deny that in these cases of change, from the absence of capital and from the absence of skill, there might be, and probably must be, some temporary suffering; but what I deny is, that you could found a permanent system of protection upon the necessity of protecting that class; and if you cannot found a permanent system upon that ground—if they are not for the advantage of capital and skill as applied to agriculture, their duration is, I believe, necessarily temporary; and if it be temporary, the sooner a permanent arrangement is made the better. ["Hear!"] The hon. Gentleman who interposes may have reason to show why the argument is worthless; but that is the ground on which I entertain the opinion that a real and permanent settlement of these Corn Laws is desirable for the whole community. The noble Lord says he wishes that the Minister of England would adopt the language of the Minister of France as to the advantage of maintaining a territorial aristocracy, considering the existence of a territorial aristocracy as essential to the maintenance of the Conservative principle. I am very much disposed to adopt the doctrine of the French Minister. I believe it to be of the utmost importance that a territorial aristocracy should be maintained. I believe that in no country is it of more importance than in this, with its ancient constitution, ancient habits, and mixed form of government. I trust that a territorial aristocracy, with all its just influence and authority, will long be maintained. I believe such an aristocracy to be essential to the purposes of good government. The question only is what, in a certain state of public opinion, and in a certain position of society, is the most effectual way of maintaining the legitimate influence and authority of a territorial aristocracy; and if I thought that the continuance of this protection law was essential to the maintenance of the territorial aristocracy, I should see in that very fact a difficult argument, but still a very strong ground for the maintenance of the protection. I should see remote consequences to be attained, great social advantages to be procured by an apparent departure from the strict principles that govern other branches of commercial policy; but what I doubt is, whether it be the real interest of a territorial aristocracy to attempt to maintain its authority by continuing the restriction on corn. There are certain periods in history when this can be done. The question is at present, will the just legitimate influence of the landed aristocracy be better maintained by consenting to forego this protection, or insisting upon the maintenance of it? My firm belief is that you will more increase the just influence and authority of that body by now foregoing this protection than by continuing it. No author or statesman has dealt more fully and forcibly on this subject than Burke. And what does he say? Mr. Burke says, that it is absolutely essential that a territorial aristocracy should be maintained in this country; that it has taken the lead in all great measures of reform; and that, on the other hand, it has been the great strength and stay of a Conservative Government. He says, how is it that the territorial aristocracy of England has maintained this influence? Because, he answers, it has always identified itself with the people; it has never pertinaciously insisted on the maintenance of a privilege when the time for foregoing that privilege had arrived. He draws the contrast between the aristocracy of England, wisely consulting public opinion, relinquishing privilege when the time for the exercise of privilege had gone, and the territorial aristocracy of France, insisting upon the maintenance of privilege long after that period. On a former debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset compared me—and he thought he was passing a severe sarcasm—I thought it a compliment—he likened me to M. Turgot, and thought I was laying the foundation of revolution in this country by adopting and applying the principles of Turgot. Does my hon. Friend not feel that if the doctrines of Turgot had been applied at an earlier period—that if the aristocracy had not insisted on maintaining their privileges—that the revolution of France would not have been precipitated, and that the evils of that eventful period would have been diminished? Does not my hon. Friend feel that it was the unjust maintenance of bygone privileges that led to the revolution, rather than the doctrines of Turgot? I infer that the privileges of a territorial aristocracy will not be diminished or its influence destroyed by consenting to a free trade in corn, because I firmly believe, speaking generally, that the aristocracy will sustain no injury from it whatever. I do not believe, as I said before, speaking generally, that the value of land, or the privileges of land, or the influence of land, will be diminished. Of this I am sure, that if it will not, you are establishing for the aristocracy a new claim upon the affection and sympathies of the people by making a sacrifice of your prejudices. If these laws are for the general benefit, it is wise to retain them; but if you entertain in your hearts the consciousness that agricultural prosperity is closely interwoven with your own prosperity—that in this complicated state of society you cannot tolerate, without serious danger to the land, a great and lasting check on our manufacturing prosperity; if you feel that, is it not, I ask, better for the permanent interest of a territorial aristocracy to make this concession freely, and at your own, rather than at the instance of the Minister. There are many privileges which the aristocracy had possession of, voluntarily abandoned, and with no loss whatever. Formerly it was one of the privileges of the aristocracy that the land alone should constitute a qualification for a seat in this House? That was an ancient privilege of the aristocracy. You might have urged that the abandonment of that was destructive of a territorial aristocracy—that the Constitution and long prescription required that the sole means of entering this House was by a piece of land. You found your law evaded; you found it inefficient for its purpose, and you willingly relinquished it. By relinquishing it, has the interest or influence of the aristocracy been diminished; or has not the timely abandonment of a nominal privilege conferred authority and power, much more than would have been conferred by insisting on an adherence to the ancient law? For two or three months, we have had before us the expectation of this great change. The country has known that, if this law should pass, there will, on the 1st February, 1849 be a duty only of 1s. on the importation of foreign corn. The people are a provident class. Let me ask, has the interest of landed property been affected? There have been farms out of lease. Has there been less demand for them? Is there not a conviction on the part of a tenant about to enter a farm with capital and skill, that there has not been, for the last ten years, a period when he could enter upon the occupation of land with greater advantage than at present? There must be many gentlemen who have had farms out of lease; they must know whether the offers for them had diminished, and whether there has been a necessity for letting them at reduced rents. I said long ago, that I thought agricultural prosperity was interwoven with manufacturing prosperity; and depended more on it than on the Corn Laws. Continued reflection has confirmed me in that opinion. I believe that it is for the interest of the agriculturist that you should lay a permanent foundation of manufacturing prosperity; and as your land is necessarily limited in quantity, as your population is increasing, as your wealth is increasing, that the true interests of land are co-existent with the manufacturing and commercial prosperity. I see in the continued relaxation of commercial restrictions a new foundation laid for manufacturing and commercial prosperity; and therefore, I look forward to their indirect operation, and I believe you will find the value of land increased with the removal of these restrictions, and with additional opportunities for carrying on extended commerce. I believe that with respect to a great part of the community of this country, there is no direct interest in the continuance of these restrictions; that therefore they could only be maintained at the expense of continued and harassing contest. It is because I believe the interests, direct and indirect, of the manufacturing and agricultural classes to be the same—because I believe they all are interested in the extension of scientific agriculture, that I come to the conclusion that the natural presumption in favour of unrestricted import ought to prevail; and therefore it is that I think it would be inconsistent with justice, as well as with policy, to continue this prohibition. I have now, Sir, attempted to answer the questions put by the noble Lord, and to assign the reasons why, after an extended review of the subject, and of the elements which enter into it, and after the best reflection, I can give to the whole matter, I now deliberately repeat what I stated at the outset — that I believe restrictions on commerce to be impolitic and unjust. I have now come, Sir, to that conclusion; and I am sorry it was not fixed in my mind at an earlier period. The noble Lord and those who act with him retain their impressions on this question. They have, undoubtedly, a right to act on those impressions, and I dare say their views may be more just than my own; but it is my duty, even if I should lose their good opinion and their confidence, however sincerely I should deplore it—I still feel it is my duty to avow my opinions, and not to persevere in retaining restrictions which in my conscience I cannot justify. The noble Lord has referred to our relations with foreign countries as to commerce, and he has said that the promises which I held out some few months ago have not been fulfilled. Why, considering that this Bill is only now going into Committee, and considering also the declaration of the noble Lord, or his confident prediction that either here or elsewhere the Bill will be defeated—that it will never pass into a law—considering, I say, all these facts, I think it would be deemed very precipitate on the part of foreign countries if they made, as contingent on our acts, the relaxations in their commercial system which the noble Lord said I prophesied might take place. But, Sir, at the same time I must say there are countries which have shown a willingness to follow our example. Since I first declared my opinions on this subject the commercial system of the Two Sicilies has been materially modified. I admit that Sicily is a small country; but still, as I said before, we could not well have expected—considering the little progress we had made with our measures for relaxation—that any great or important change would consequently be made in the commercial system of other countries. With respect to France, the noble Lord said, I promised that France would adopt principles of commercial relaxation. Sir, I did not promise any such thing. What I said was this, that I gave credit to the French Government for being too enlightened to wish to continue their restrictions upon British manufactured articles; but that I believed the Government were controlled in their desires by persons in the two Chambers who were directly interested in the maintenance of restrictive duties. And, Sir, I added that I thought ultimately the wishes of the Government, backed and supported by the opinions of the enlightened men of France, would, at no remote period, prevail over partial and particular interests, and lead the way to the adoption in France of a better system of commercial laws. I did not promise that a relaxation of the French commercial system would take place immediately; but what I then said I now believe. I believe, Sir, that in France, and in other countries too, the interests of the great body of consumers will at no remote period be better considered and attended to, and that a system of general relaxation with respect to commerce will ultimately be adopted; and, I believe further, that if you adopt the motto of advancing in commercial freedom, instead of receding, you are likely to diminish the power of that portion of the community in France who have a direct influence in retaining restrictive duties on British manufactures. I know that there are societies formed in France of commercial men for the purpose of promoting a freer system of commercial intercourse; and I believe they will be able to show that the people are not interested in buying bad and dear hardware, bad cottons, and bad linens, instead of having good and cheap articles of that description from this country; and I believe, moreover, they will be enabled to prove that the great mass of the French people would be benefited by a more open system of commercial enter-prize. But, Sir, I never promised, knowing, as I do, the strength of the protecting interests in the French Chambers, that France would at once yield to the influence of reason. I am not, however, the less confident that if you set the example, your example will be followed, and will ultimately prevail. The subject will be discussed in France, and after a lapse of time—not at once, not immediately, but when it is understood by the people—a liberal system of commercial policy will be adopted. The same, I believe, will be the case in the United States. There is a movement in the public mind on this subject in almost every country; and the example of England, as it told in favour of restriction, so will it tell in respect to freedom of commerce. What have we to lose by our example? "Why," says the noble Lord, "we are going to take the silk and other manufactures of France and her brandy. Adopt a different course, and let your Motion be retrograde—recede from what you have done, and say that you are in the wrong, and you will by so doing countenance in every country in the world the influence of restrictive principles." The noble Lord says we are about to take these manufactures, and also the corn and timber of Prussia, and that we are to get nothing in return; but if we get nothing in return, what do we suffer by the precedence? Upon what principle has the noble Lord formed his opinion with regard to the manner in which foreign commercial transactions are conducted? We shall not get these bad brandies, as the noble Lord calls them, and silks and other articles, the productions of France, for nothing; we must give something in return for them. There is no mode by which we can purchase these things except by giving something as an equivalent. Supposing we gave gold for them, would evil ensue? If there has been any diminution in the quantity of gold, it has been caused by supplying the internal wants of the commerce of the country, and not by being remitted in extravagant quantities to other nations for the purpose of buying corn or timber. But I am going to say what will alarm you still more—I wish it had. How do you get your gold? I believe this country will always be able to command a sufficient supply for her own wants; and if France and Prussia will take nothing but gold, that gold can only be procured for your manufactures, and a very good bargain you will make by exchanging your manufactures for it; and therefore if your allegations are correct, and you do make these purchases with gold, I am not very much alarmed if your export from this country is gold, knowing as I well do from the ordinary transactions of commerce, that no such export will take place as can derange the commercial interests of the Empire. The noble Lord has, as I before mentioned, talked of our taking the bad silks and the bad brandies of France; but the brandy of France is well known to be a better article than we can procure at home; and I conceive that by promoting the qualified import of it—by giving freer access to the brandy and silks of France, we shall inflict no wound whatever on the commerce of this country; but, on the contrary, enable the consumers of those articles to apply the saving in the price to other and perhaps more useful purposes. I freely admit if France were wise enough to see that she would be benefited by free interchange of commerce, the advantage to all parties would be greater; but if the double benefit cannot be obtained, let us not deny ourselves the benefit of the single one; let us not pay a greater price for inferior articles because we cannot induce France to buy good articles at a low price. If, therefore, there be not an immediate reciprocal advantage, I am perfectly content to rely on the ultimate result of the present course of policy taken by Her Majesty's Government; and I shall, notwithstanding any temporary obstacles, look forward to the force of the example of England in relaxing her commercial laws upon the principle of restriction held up by other nations; and when the attention of the people of these nations is called to the subject, I retain with confidence the impression that at no remote period these principles will ultimately prevail; and I therefore reiterate to you my advice on this question—that advice which the noble Lord has condemned—that you should take for your motto, "Advance, and do not recede in the course of your commercial policy."

House went into Committee. Preamble postponed.


said, that the right hon. Baronet had observed that he anticipated that no discussion would have taken place in that stage of the Bill; but his right hon. Friend had perhaps forgotten the very emphatic declaration he made on the last occasion when the subject of the Corn Laws was introduced; and as no previous opportunity had offered for any of his (Mr. Bankes's) Friends near him to make any observations on that point, they felt called upon to do so now. It could not escape observation that there was a very important distinction between the present and the former declarations of the right hon. Baronet made a few weeks or months ago; for then he said that he had been led to the conclusion that the maintenance of these laws could not be continued in regard to public policy; but now he said that he believed the maintenance of these laws was unjust. It would have been singular indeed if the first opportunity was not taken by some of those who entertained the same views which had been so long and ably advocated by his right hon. Friend, however little qualified they might be to tread in the steps which he had taken, and in which he had induced them to follow him, if they did not remark on what had taken place. It became them, if they saw no reasons for change, and could not find any in the arguments which his right hon. Friend now used, which would serve as an answer to those he had so often put forward on former occasions—it became them to express their regret at this change of opinion on the part of his right hon. Friend, which indeed seemed to have been brought about with a view of keeping ahead of the noble Lord opposite, and to unarm him in his career. He was bound to give every credit to the declarations of one so eminent and distinguished and of such high character as his right hon. Friend, and no taunt should fall from him as to the change in his opinions. He could only give utterance to sentiments of regret, when he found so striking a blow as he feared it would prove to the confidence to be placed by those conscious of inferior abilities in looking out for a leader of great influence in a party. He would only express his sincere sorrow at the loss of such a guide; but he saw no adequate reason for any change of opinions as given in the speech which had just been delivered. He saw no new lights; for he had heard the same arguments which he had just listened to often put forward by men of inferior acquirements to the right hon. Baronet, but still men of great ability; but which were resisted by his right hon. Friend in arguments which he thought were a complete reply to anything he had now said. He would not put the former speeches of his right hon. Friend in juxtaposition to those which he had recently made; but he must say that he strongly felt that the opinions expressed in the former speeches had brought conviction to his mind of their soundness, and that the arguments then used were the best grounded. It appeared to him that the arguments which his right hon. Friend had set out with addressing to his noble Friend, though loudly cheered by the opposite side, had no weight. What was the state of the case? The other night, in answer to a question put to his noble Friend by the hon. Member for Limerick, as to how far those who sat near him, and who acted under him as a leader, were inclined to adopt a particular course as to the alleged state of want of food in Ireland—his noble Friend, with a degree of caution highly becoming him, in the reply which he made to the question for the allowing the free importation of foreign corn into Ireland for a certain period, said, that, although he could not see any possible benefit that would result from it, and although he would not bind himself to any such delusions, and although he did not believe that any benefit would accrue to Ireland from any such experiment; still, to prevent himself and those who acted with him from being charged with interposing obstacles to the relief of the alleged state of distress in Ireland, he said that if the Government would propose a measure of this kind, and the Members for Ireland, on their responsibility as representatives of that country, stated that they believed that it would be for the benefit of Ireland, he and those with whom he acted would assent to the experiment being tried. He saw no grounds on this occasion which could justify the right hon. Gentleman in his taunts for acceding to the request. If the Government thought that it would be beneficial to take such a course, why did they not concede the request of the hon. Member for Limerick? And if they saw no benefit that would result from it, why had they held the language which they did night after night, and say that those who objected to this Bill were delaying aid to the distressed people of Ireland? Where were the cheers of the Treasury bench now? Such language, such speeches, had been by no means unfrequent at the commencement of these debates, but they had grown "small by degrees, and beautifully less;" and those were not the arguments which the Government now used. If, therefore, nothing else had been gained by the proposal of the hon. Member for Limerick, they were at least obliged to him for this—that that line of argument was stopped. Nothing was now said about delaying relief to Ireland. That had received its answer, and they might cheer the reply as long as they pleased. Believing the hon. Member for Limerick to be sincere in his persuasion that such a measure would be beneficial for Ireland, he thought that the hon. Member would have had good reason to complain if his question had been answered in any other manner; and, therefore, he repeated, that he could see nothing to regret in the answer which his noble Friend had been authorized to give by so numerous a party, with all their hearts wishing that good might flow from it, but fearing that none could result. Had they been the orginators of the proposal, as it was one from which they did not expect any benefit, they would have been open to the blame of hollow insincerity in making it; but the case was very different when they were applied to by others to consent to it. The right hon. Baronet had referred to observations of his made on a former occasion, in which he had pointed out some resemblance between the position of certain French Ministers, and the present state of this question in the present Parliament: he saw no ground for withdrawing those observations; but they were not spontaneously his; they were offered in answer to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, who had previously referred to those Ministers of France. At a very dangerous and critical period, great and eminent men as they were, and well qualified as they were in many respects for the stations which they filled, they unhappily wanted that peculiarly great quality, moral courage, the want of which did, in his opinion, lead to all the disasters that subsequently befel their country. Neckar was a Minister, than whom no man could be more amiable in private life—few more endowed with talents suited to his position: possessed of unbounded private wealth, he had no sordid interests to gratify, and the honesty of his principles was undoubted; but he wanted that great quality, which, being wanting in him, did prove the misfortune of his country; and between that Minister and the right hon. Baronet, he must say that there did appear to him strong points of resemblance. The great qualities of that man would be conceded to the right hon. Baronet by every one; but he feared that the right hon. Baronet had M. Neckar's failing also. He had certainly seen nothing of late to alter that opinion; and he confessed that the speech which he had heard that night had greatly tended to confirm it. When he heard the right hon. Baronet speak upon the subject of the bullion brought into this country, he was surprised, indeed, to find that he treated it as a matter of no importance at what price they bought it—what quantity of commodities they gave for it. Other opportunities would occur of addressing the House upon that subject, because another important stage of the Bill had to be passed before it could receive even the final sanction of that House; but he agreed with his noble Friend in thinking that this was a just and proper occasion to raise a discussion applicable to the new position which the Prime Minister had taken when he declared this to be no longer a question of policy, but a question of national justice. That was not, indeed, absolutely a new doctrine; for the last three or four years they had heard it from those who occupied a peculiar position, and had obtained a new and peculiar name. But it was a new and strange doctrine to hear from the Treasury benches—a doctrine which had not as yet been heard from the front row of the Opposition, but had been heard from those, and those only, who had chosen to adopt a peculiar name, and who, if this great change of policy were to take place, did deserve that it should take place under the sanction and authority of that name; because by the great men whose opinion had so much changed upon this subject, no other reason for that change had been given except the formation of that League: and much as he regretted the late change of principles in leading public men, there was no ground upon which he so much regretted it as that it had not taken place in anticipation rather than in consequence of the formation of that League. It was unquestionable that the fortune of that League had given great encouragement to, and formed a bond of union between it and another association in the sister island; and that Irish Members came over and voted for the success of one League measure as the herald of the success of others. On that ground he deeply regretted the change of opinion which had so recently taken place; he did not say which had been so recently declared, because he was sure that the right hon. Baronet would feel it to be his duty to declare that change openly and honestly as soon as it occurred; and he did, therefore, deplore the consequence of those new opinions so recently formed, and consequently so recently declared, which had reduced the right hon. Baronet to his present position, and made him, instead of the leader of a great party, the follower only of those who had trod before him the path, and avowed the principles which he had so tardily adopted. Of this he was satisfied, that whilst there existed in the sister kingdom a similar confederacy, which yet had its success to gain, the course of policy which the right hon. Baronet was pursuing was a direct encouragement to them never to cease their exertions till they could boast a similar triumph. He could see no grounds for calling the refusal of this measure either unjust or impolitic; and it was now admitted with reference to Ireland that it had no immediate bearing upon her condition; nor, indeed, so far as he could collect, had it any distant bearing, but such as would operate prejudicially to that country. For those reasons, after having listened attentively to all that had been urged by those with whom he had been so long in the habit of acting, and for whom he felt the most sincere respect; and having heard nothing to alter his opinions, he was bound to maintain those principles which he had hitherto upheld, and to refuse his assent to the changes now proposed.


The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down, has declared that he did not mean to taunt the right hon. Gentleman opposite with changing his opinion, and has stated that he believes the right hon. Gentleman's change of opinion to be sincere. At the same time I must say, that the speech of the hon. and learned Member was so much wanting in argument, and consisted so much of a repetition of what I considered taunt against the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that I do consider that that does form the staple of the objections which are felt to the course which the Government is now pursuing. I cannot but ask, supposing the right hon. Gentleman—as I think we may in justice to him suppose—to be sincere in the opinion he now professes—I cannot but ask, what course it was possible for him to pursue? Make as light as you please of the scarcity and disease of the potatoes in Ireland, still you must admit that in some parts of that country there does exist great distress. We have readily agreed to grants for the purpose of relieving that distress, and have admitted that relief was required by some extraordinary measure. Such being the case, those who are in favour of a change of the Corn Laws would have argued—it is impossible for them not to have so argued—that this formed an additional ground for taking into consideration the Corn Laws. It would have been said, that large sums of public money have been laid out in, and a great portion of the taxes applied to, the relief of the people of Ireland, in cases where they are suffering from want of food; and yet you still maintain a law by which food is not admitted here from foreign countries which are willing to send it us. If the right hon. Gentleman opposite had thought that these Corn Laws ought to be maintained under all circumstances, he might have brought forward an argument for their maintenance; but if such is not his opinion—if he feels that these laws could not be maintained to the advantage of this Empire—how intolerable would have been the position of the right hon. Gentleman if he had attempted to defend these laws, and had asked only for temporary remedies and temporary grants for relief? What other course could the right hon. Gentleman, as the Minister of a great country, take—holding the opinions he professes, and I believe sincerely professes, that this question ought to be finally settled—than that which he has taken? No doubt this is not consistent with the course the right hon. Gentleman took before; and the hon. and learned Gentleman says, with great satisfaction, "I see no reason to change my opinion." I think we have heard arguments in variety for the last few years, which I need not endeavour now to repeat, sufficient to show that these Corn Laws have produced great evil in this country, and that in times of distress, when food was dear, mortality and crime have increased in proportion to the clearness of food. I know but one example like the consistency which the hon. and learned Gentleman would seem to recommend, and that is contained in the novel of Gil Blas. I recollect that Gil Blas, when assistant to Dr. Sangrado, says to his master, "I have now been your assistant for some months, and I see that every case ends faithfully; we have tried bleeding and hot water whether the patient was a young person or old, whether the illness was sudden or of long standing, and the termination has always been the same; we have effected no cure; our treatment has only increased the disease and ended in death." And then Dr. Sangrado replies, "It is quite true; there is not a case in which we have effected a cure; my treatment seems to have no good result; but I have written a book to show that it is the only cure, and therefore it is impossible to change it." The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be alarmed at the prospect of evils approaching us, and it appears that he has found a great likeness between the right hon. Gentleman opposite and M. Neckar. I confess I do not see those points of resemblance to which the hon. and learned Member has alluded, or any resemblance between the abolition of the Corn Laws and the commencement of the French Revolution. Neither do I believe that Neckar was the cause of the French Revolution; though I am no admirer of his wisdom, firmness, or talent. I believe that the causes of the French Revolution were the oppression of the people of France, and the abuses which so long continued. These were the causes of the French Revolution; and I entirely agree in those observations which the right hon. Gentleman quoted from Burke, to the effect that the safety and the security of the aristocracy of this country depends on their wise observance of public opinion, and their determination not to maintain laws which the country feels convinced are injurious to it. I wish to maintain the landed aristocracy, and I do not wish to see them supplanted by any other class of the community; but I think, with respect to these Corn Laws, that if the aristocracy went on from year to year maintaining laws which it could be shown had the effect of raising the price of corn grown on their own land, and thereby tending to increase their income; and if, as might be the case, the majority of the community came to be of opinion that the aristocracy were acting from such motives, there would then be no position so dangerous to them as the obstinate maintenance of those laws. And when these Corn Laws are done away with—when that date of February, 1849, arrives—in what respect will the landed aristocracy be in a worse position than they ought to be according to equity and just laws? They will not have any disadvantage by being deprived of the protection which other classes of the community have. The law is, generally speaking, to be equal to all. The aristocracy are not to have the advantage of protection for corn; neither are the manufacturers or commercial men to have protection or prohibition with reference to articles in which they deal. There is not, in that respect, therefore, to be any inequality. All parties are to be placed on equal terms; and with respect to other matters, I do not know any country in the world where any class has a position at once so honourable, so advantageous, and I would almost say, so easy to fulfil, as the English landed aristocracy. They are in the possession of great property, which has been increased enormously since the time when manufactures and commerce, towards the end of the last century, took a great start and made great progress. They have the advantage of competing for political power with all the other classes of the community, and they are able to obtain places in the House of Commons, whilst they nearly possess the whole of the House of Lords; and they have the further advantage which a civilized community, such as is to be found in this country, always carries with it. I must say that I do not know that there is any class in any country in the world which the English landed aristocracy have to envy; and if I were asked with respect to their political power, I should say, that while they competed with other classes of the community, which, likewise have acquired wealth, and likewise have intelligence, and are fitted to rise to the highest posts which British subjects can occupy under the Constitution, the English aristocracy may be proud to fill no other situation than that, which their own ability, exertions, and industry, and those of their forefathers, enable them to occupy. The hon. and learned Gentleman seems much alarmed at the idea that the country will have to pay very dearly for this boon of the abolition of the Corn Laws: and he appears afraid that we shall part with all the gold in the country. Wheat is to be brought from other countries, and it is said that the foreigners will take nothing but gold in exchange. But gold must be obtained somewhere; and so, if we have gold, we must give manufactures in exchange for it. But then it is contended that we do not know the price that must be paid for gold; but, for my part, I think that matter may be safely left to the manufacturers, who will know the price which gold naturally should bear. Therefore, I say that any alarm of that kind is really presposterous. In point of fact, there has been for several years a great quantity of wheat imported; at first there was an exportation of bullion and of specie, but after two or three years the course of trade became regulated, the export of our manufactures has increased, and these manufactures have been taken in exchange for corn. Such will be the result when trade is constantly carried on, as will be the case under the law which the right hon. Baronet has proposed. And now, Sir, I must say a few words on the question with regard to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has also spoken — namely, as to the division which has taken place between him and those who follow the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, and those who still follow the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury; and I must say, I do not think this difference of opinion has arisen for the first time during the present year. Whatever may be said, a difference of opinion has existed. It has appeared to me for years that the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the opinions of others who now act with them, have been exceedingly different from the opinions of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken, and of others who have acted with him during the present Session. Accordingly we have seen, from the first commencement of the Ministry, that there has been this great difference of opinion between them. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury said, at the beginning of the present Session, that the experience of the last three years of free trade, in certain articles, has convinced him of the propriety of proceeding in the same course; but if the right hon. Gentleman had been a friend of the protection so common on the part of the great body who vote for the maintenance of the Corn Laws, why were those experiments in free trade made? What could have induced those experiments in the commercial policy—the enlightened and the enlarged policy, as I think; but at all events, the commercial policy opposed to the views of the hon. Gentleman below the gangway? We have seen, in the course of the last few years, whether, with respect to this commercial policy, or the Canadian Corn Bill, or on religious questions, such as the Maynooth Bill, that there has been a great difference of opinion between the Government and those who, before they succeeded to office, were their most active and cordial allies. What is the conclusion to be drawn from this? The conclusion is, that though there was an union to put an end to the late Government — though there was a combination, there was no party united in their views of public policy. Therefore, I think for the public interests, it is better, far better, that the right hon. Gentleman should entertain his views of public policy, and that those Gentlemen should fairly declare their views and the opinions they honestly entertain, and vote against the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has last spoken has referred to an association—meaning what is commonly known by the League, and of another association existing across the channel, with another object—the repeal of the Legislative Union. Now, I do beg the hon. and learned Gentleman to consider a little—as he has so very strong a dislike to yielding to associations, as he does not approve of the course of policy which has been agitated in our market places and in our streets for years; and as he thinks it wiser that improvements should commence with Parliament, and should be sent as law at once among the people, rather than that they should be the consequence of popular agitation—as I collect that to be his opinion—I wish that ho, and those who act with him, would consider the experience of late years. For many years we contended for the question of Parliamentary reform. I remember, Sir, that I said in this House, if we did not allow it to flow on like a river, we must expect it to rush like a torrent. I was laughed at for that expression; it was said to be an absurd and ridiculous expression. But when the Reform Bill was introduced, the popular fury rose to such a height that it would consent to nothing but the Bill; and it was then seen that it would have been wiser to have made some concession to the previous agitation. And, with regard to the subjects which may arise when the question of corn shall be settled, especially with respect to that country to which the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, and the hon. and learned Gentleman, have alluded, I hope that he and others will consider whether there may not be measures which it will be wise in Parliament to enact, before they are dictated by popular agitation. Of this I am sure, that if we mean, as I trust it is our destiny, to give a great example to the nations of the world—to teach the nations of the world how to live—we, the House of Commons, ought most deeply to consider which of our institutions and laws are founded upon truth, upon reason, and upon justice. You find fault with the right hon. Gentleman for now declaring the Corn Laws to be unjust. Why are they unjust? Because they are restrictions; and if they are not authorized and justified by the general safety and welfare of the country, we ought not to uphold what are otherwise unjust laws. And, if there are other laws which stand in the same position, do not wait till agitation shall render a change inevitable. Be wise beforehand. Profit by the example of Catholic emancipation, of the reform in Parliament, and of the Corn Laws, and endeavour to secure what alone can be maintained. Stand by the institutions that are good, and give timely correction to abuses which are unworthy of your support. This is the way, I am convinced, by which you will give a great and noble example, and by which, in the sight of all nations, it will be said, "Truly this is a great nation, this is a wise and understanding people."


Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire has vindicated the noble Lord the Member for Lynn from the imputation cast upon him by the First Lord of the Treasury. I am surprised, indeed, that the motives which influenced the noble Lord could have been misinterpreted. My noble Friend came forward to propose the remedy which he thought was necessary for the state of Ireland. He admitted a partial exigency. He proposed a method which would meet that exigency. He believed there was a systematic and inveterate evil, and he indicated the measure which he thought was required to meet it. That was the position of my noble Friend. It was true my noble Friend said more, but it was obviously a reductio ad absurdum. He said, "You suggest a remedy which appeals to the passions of the multitude; which may be, and has been, misinterpreted in our multifarious debates: we will prove to you, that if we have recourse to your remedy it must be deficient." To dispel delusion was his object. "I will grant your premises," he said. "The people of Ireland shall not say that I and my friends are the bar to the enjoyment of these alleged advantages, though I guard myself from being described as one who has deceived them; for whilst I accede to the proposed boon, I tell them it must be worthless." Now to seize upon that in debate, and attack measures which, whether right or wrong, were measures which all must admit were of great importance, and worthy of public consideration; to seize, I say, upon a single point like that (which I think was a judicious point) was hardly worthy of so practised a Parliamentary orator as the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has not said, indeed, that we blamed him for the precautions he has taken. I can hardly believe that any Gentleman on this side the House can blame the Government for their precautions. I am sure I have never ventured—I am also sure no Gentleman near me has ventured—to blame them for the precautions they have taken. If their precautions were exaggerated, I should say exaggeration is, under such circumstances, a merit. What we have blamed them for, is not for the precautions they have taken, but for the policy they have adopted. We have not blamed them for establishing hospitals; we have not blamed them for importing maize; we have not only not blamed them for taking such measures, but we have expressed our willingness to support them in any measures which they might recommend to meet the exigency. What we object to in Her Majesty's Ministers is this: that nothing can be more impolitic when they are called upon to meet an emergency, the fact of which we do not wish to examine—that they should, under such circumstances, call upon us to construct a new commercial policy, absolutely opposed to every principle which they have hitherto professed, and to every course which they themselves have recommended us to follow. The space was so short between the last protection speech—the last, though not the least, able protection speech—made by the right hon. Gentleman at the termination of the last Session of Parliament, and his meeting us again with a new profession of political faith, that I think even if there were no other circumstances to justify it, he should have detached his emergencies from his new system. If it had only been to show some feeling for his late supporters—some wish to extricate them from an embarrassing position—they should not have been exposed to the accusation of not sympathizing with their suffering fellow subjects in the sister kingdom, because they objected to change their whole policy, and at once to act in opposition to doctrines which the right hon. Gentleman himself has always professed. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) who has just addressed the House, as well as the right hon. Gentleman, has assumed the case we have before us to be, whether we are prepared to oppose that which is for the interest of the multitude. I, for one, beg to say, I am not prepared to oppose any measures which I think are for the interest of the multitude. But that is not the real question before us. That, I say, is not the real question in this debate. I myself, and I can say so for many Gentlemen here—am quite guiltless of any intention of taking part in it, for I was perfectly unaware it would occur; but at the same time, I think the point my noble Friend has taken was not only a legitimate point, but a most necessary one to be taken. The observation of the right hon. Baronet had escaped me; but having made that observation, I think he can hardly be surprised the noble Lord should have taken an early opportunity to ask for an explanation of an expression so remarkable. I have not yet myself spoken on the new Corn Law of the right hon. Gentleman; I should be sorry, if a fair occasion offered, to shrink from an unequivocal expression of my opinions, or to endeavour to meet by argument, and not by assertion, the case of the right hon. Gentleman and the rest of Her Majesty's Ministers. It is not from a wish to avoid the difficulty in the present instance that I abstain; but I think it is obvious that, with an impending debate at hand, this is not the hour it could be expected or tolerated, that any Member should enter at length into that subject. It is only the cool assertions from each side the Table that have made me feel it is not perhaps impertinent for me to rise, to notice the observations which have been made. I may say, that not being prepared for debate is not an excuse for not being prepared to answer the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It is not a speech that I have heard for the first time. I have heard it in other places—in different localities, and, I may be allowed to add, from a master hand. That speech has sounded in Stockport; it has echoed in Durham. I suspect that there has been on the stage of the classical theatre a representation of it, upon the highest and finest scale; and, as is visual in such cases, the popular performance is now repeated by an inferior company. Especially, Sir, when I heard the line drawn which marks on the map the corn-growing districts of England, I thought I might say, as I have heard sometimes said upon Railway Committees upon rival lines, "That is surely the line of the hon. Member for Stockport." And so, when the right hon. Gentleman, with a fervour of mimetic rhetoric, which has been much developed of late, turns round, and says he has not the courage, and he is surprised that we have, to oppose that which is for the benefit of the multitude and the advantage of the people; that, I say, is not the question at issue. I am ready to meet the real question without any evasion. If the measures of the Government have not a tendency to occasion a great displacement of labour, a displacement of that kind of labour which is of the most permanent character—if they have not by that displacement a tendency to occasion great social suffering, and, ultimately, great political disaster, then I say they are good measures, and I for one am not prepared to oppose them. But that is the whole question, and that question at the right moment, at the fitting opportunity, with the permission and indulgence of the House, I am prepared to discuss. If I do not meet it now, I hope that no one will for a moment suppose that I admit the justice of the series of assumptions with which we have been favoured by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the state of Ireland, that 534,000 farmers are without capital, and then he turns round, in the manner of his great master, and says, "See what protection has produced." I shall be prepared, upon the proper occasion, to prove that protection has not produced the present condition of Ireland. That is an enormous assumption. I might as well turn round to the right hon. Gentleman and say, "Had it not been for protection, those 534,000 farmers would not have existed." Nothing is so easy as to take instances of wretchedness and say protection has produced them. There is the eternal instance of the Wiltshire labourer with his 6s. or 7s. a week; and it is said, "See what protection has produced." I go into Lincolnshire, and I find the labouring man with ample means and flourishing—may I not turn round and say, "See what protection has produced?" These are questions which cannot be entered into without more time than, in an incidental debate like the present, can be appropriated to them; but when the right hon. Gentleman takes this occasion, with his great authority, to scatter arguments which, of course, influence public opinions, or rather to make statements—for he has not condescended to reason to-night he has rather taken refuge in rhetoric—it is absolutely necessary they should be noticed, however partially. The right hon. Gentleman says, "How can you justify your system of protection, even if it did benefit to the agriculturist, to the manufacturer?" I can justify it; I resist altogether the inference that is sought to be drawn from the question put by the right hon Gentleman. I say, unless by the system of protection, as described in this debate, the benefit to manufactures is as great as the benefit to agriculture, I agree with him, the objection to it is fatal, and he would not be a wise statesman that would not earnestly consider the consequences of it. I take this to be the case of the manufacturer. The late war and some preceding wars destroyed existing manufactures in many countries. Those in Europe and the United States are of modern origin. In no instance have those manufactures sprung from any other source than the capital that the system of protection allowed the landed proprietors to accumulate. It is that capital which has formed our own manufactures. That noble industry of the north of England, which is so often the subject of discussion in this House, the cotton manufacture, is as much owing to the agricultural capital of England, as it is to the genius of its great mechanical inventions, and even to its unprecedented local advantages which unite mines of coal and iron. In the early state of the cotton manufacture, it was the capital of Lombard Street that promoted the immense development of that fabric. And what was the capital of Lombard Street? It was the capital of the farmers of Norfolk and Lincolnshire, which had found its way into Lombard Street, and was thence distributed by the great bankers and bill-brokers. I am speaking of transactions when a house like Gurney's, for example, would discount bills to the amount of half a million, all drawn upon and accepted by one firm, for the purchase of Manchester goods. It was that farmers' capital which gave the principal development to the industry of Lancashire. I am very glad that the industry of Lancashire has outlived the necessity of such support; but it must not be forgotten that it received that support, any more than it must be forgotten that it received, when necessary, the protection of the Legislature. This brings me to the point of the right hon. Gentleman, who said—and the noble Lord too, inferentially—"If manufactures require no protection, how can the agricultural interest demand it?" As an abstract principle I protest against this reasoning. It is not sound as a mere argument. The business of a statesman is, not to inquire why one interest is protected, and another is not, but whether the protection enjoyed by any particular interest is required. Are the circumstances in which agriculture and manufactures are respectively placed the same? I have heard a great deal said about the peculiar burdens on land. I confess I have never held that a sufficient ground for what is called protection to agriculture; but no one will deny that the manufactures of England have peculiar advantages — at least, no hon. Gentleman opposite will deny it, because they are always getting up and telling us of them. They perpetually assure us that they have no fear of competition, because the unrivalled advantages of their soil from the interstratification of coal and iron, independently of their machinery, alone exempts them from all rivalry. The farmers have no such peculiar advantages; they do not, therefore, meet upon equal ground. To say, therefore, that one interest should not be protected, because another does not require protection, is, in fact, quite illogical. It is not an argument; it is a mere appeal — a sentimental appeal: it does for the hustings and for popular assemblies, but it will not bear the examination of the closet, and is unworthy of this assembly. I am not now asserting that the farmers of England do require protection, for that is too great a subject to enter upon now; but I will venture hereafter to approach it if opportunity is given to me. I shall then be prepared to meet the arguments that are put forward by Her Majesty's Ministers, and which in reality is the case of their great master. I would address my arguments to the creative minds and manly energies that are really responsible for them. We have heard to-night a great deal about territorial aristocracy. There may be some doubts whether we have a territorial aristocracy in this country; but there is none whatever that we have an aristocracy of wealth. We all feel it, and I believe that the measures of Her Majesty's Ministers have a tendency to increase that power in a degree I believe not beneficial to the people; but suppose there were in England what is called a territorial aristocracy, I utterly protest against the rhetorical position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman, and also touched upon by the noble Lord. The right hon. Gentleman has argued upon the case as if the aristocracy of England were a privileged aristocracy. What privileges have they? I have on more than one occasion risen in this House to uphold the cause of what I call our territorial constitution, not imagining by such a word I was maintaining the mere interests of peers and esquires. I certainly should not have risen had I thought I was pleading only their cause. But this territorial constitution which I have defended, has given to this country public liberty and the blessings of local and self-government. It appeals to all; it has immense ramifications; it touches every class of the community. I have talked myself of the necessity of maintaining the preponderance of the agricultural interest, and I remember somebody or other saying, "Can any thing be more improper than thus holding up the necessity of the predominance of a class in the country?" I do not imagine for a moment that the agricultural interest is constituted merely of the proprietors of land. The agricultural interest is that great body of people who are the cultivators of the earth; and if you materially change the balance between the populations that depend upon the two great interests of this country, you shake to its centre that territorial constitution, you destroy the security for local government—you subvert the guarantee for public liberty—you change, in fact, the character of England; you bring about that social revolution which the right hon. Gentleman always reminded us would be the consequence of following the policy of the school of Manchester. Sir, there is nothing exclusive or restrictive in this territorial constitution, or I am sure it would not be tolerated for a moment in England. From the days of Sir Robert Walpole to the present moment, with one solitary exception, all those who have realized large fortunes in our great seats of industry, have deposited the results of their successful enterprise in the soil of their country. The power of acquiring territorial possessions is open to every man. The fact that every family which has acquired great wealth has invested that wealth in the purchase of land, affords the best possible proof that in our territorial constitution there is nothing alien or adverse to the interests of commerce or manufactures. Respecting the county in which I myself live, I can state from my own experience, within the last twenty years, that not less than one-third of the land of that county has changed hands; and I may add that even some portion of that land has been purchased by Gentlemen who subscribed to the funds of the Anti-Corn Law League. Away, then, with this declamation about a territorial aristocracy, as if it were a body distinguished from all other classes. The Constitution of this country has invested the proprietors of land with certain duties and certain rights, which all may acquire, and aspire to fulfil. It has secured to us at all times, and under all circumstances, leaders who have saved us from that despotism which has too often been the fate of other countries. It affords to every man this position to which his property and intelligence entitle him: no man need despair of obtaining the highest place in our free aristocracy — even the sons of the humblest may find a place in this or the other House of Parliament. I have no wish to enter further into this question at present. I reserve myself for the third reading, when the whole policy of the Government will be gone into, at which time possibly the right hon. Gentleman may think my arguments weak, but most certainly I will not shrink from maintaining them. And I would now sit down were it not for one observation of the right hon. Gentleman, which I cannot allow to pass without protest. The right hon. Gentleman has uttered three or four common-places—the prostitutes of political economy whom Gentlemen on each side in turn embrace, in order to show that you may fight hostile tariffs with free imports. I can hardly venture to enter upon a subject like this on the present occasion. It is one which ought to be most gravely considered by any Minister, for it is amongst the most difficult problems of political science. If a country submits to the imposition of unequal import duties, does she become tributary to the countries by which such unequal duties are imposed? That is an inquiry worth pursuing. And if in consequence of these hostile tariffs we give more of our labour for the produce of foreign countries, what effect will this interchange have on the distribution of the precious metals which are foreign produce? We shall obtain less of them. If we obtain less of them, money will be scarce and more valuable, and then prices must fall, and fall greatly. I admit that, all circumstances being the same, there is no abstract advantage in high prices. But I am at a loss to discover how very low prices can be long endured in a country with an immense amount of public and of private debt, and a vast sum of fixed money payments. I am not disposed at this moment to argue the whole question of the interchange of produce between nations; I shall be fully prepared to go into it when the proper time arrives; but it is rather too cool for the right hon. Gentleman not only to have changed his opinions, but to treat every thing urged in opposition to his present sentiments as absurd. I remember a gentleman, an authority on matters of political economy, Colonel Torrens, who for some time had a seat in this House, bringing the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in a series of very ingenious essays, to account for the doctrines which he held upon the interchange of commodities between nations. That was some years ago, but the subject still engages the attention of philosophical investigators. I read so recently as last evening a very elaborate analysis and a very careful application of the laws which regulate interchange between nations. It is a work recently published, and written by a man who is not now, never has been, and, from the constitution of his mind, never likely to be a Member of this House. He is a man free from any bias of party feeling; who has given up his time to abstract studies; is known to possess a high order of intellect; and may be considered in the light of an hereditary political economist—I mean Mr. John Mill, the son of the historian. That gentleman has written an essay on the laws which regulate interchange between nations. It certainly was not intended by the author to have any reference to existing circumstances; and certainly it will at once be admitted that the author has no bias in favour of the doctrines which I have endeavoured on this occasion to support. And what now is the final declaration of Mr. Mill? After investigating the subject with all the power of logical analysis for which he is remarkable, and with all the knowledge of economical science for which he is distinguished, he arrives at the conclusion that hostile tariffs must be met by hostile tariffs—that reciprocity should be the principle upon which an exchange should take place between nations. I think I heard a Gentleman say "No;" now that shows the inconvenience of making a speech when you do not expect to have to make one. I have not the book with me, but I am sure that I have not overstated the argument. No doubt Mr. Mill, for political reasons, makes an exception in favour of food, but that does not affect the general economical argument. Mr. Mill has given it as his opinion that reciprocity should be the principle of commercial exchange. I believe it to be possible for a nation with very extensive commercial relations to carry on trade upon the opposite principle for a certain time; but you can only carry on your system of fighting hostile tariffs with free imports, by requiring more labour for the effort, and thus involving the further depression of wages, and the further degradation of the labourer. I will not, however, detain the House longer now. Whatever our numbers or intelligence may be, I am sure that at least we shall not shrink from fighting the great battle to which we are pledged.


moved that the Chairman should report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

The Committee divided—Ayes 85; Noes 181: Majority 96.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Finch, G.
Alford, Visct. Floyer, J.
Allix, J. P. Forbes, W.
Bagot, hon. W. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Bailey, J. jun. Frewen, C. H.
Banks, J. Fuller, A. E.
Barrington, Visct. Gardner, J. D.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Gaskell, J. M.
Bateson, T. Gore, W. O.
Bennett, P. Granby, Marq. of
Bentinck, Lord H. Hall, Col.
Beresford, Major Halsey, T. P.
Blackburne, J. I. Harcourt, G. G.
Bramston, T. W. Heneage, E.
Brisco, M. Henley, J. W.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Buck, L. W. Hill, Lord E.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hope, Sir J.
Burroughs, H. N. Hotham, Lord
Chandos, Marq. of Hudson, G.
Clayton, R. R. Hussey, T.
Conolly, Col. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Deedes, W. Knight, F. W.
Disraeli, B. Lawson, A.
East, J. B. Lennox, Lord G. H. G.
Filmer, Sir E. Lowther, hon. Col.
Maclean, D. Scott, hon. F.
Manners, Lord J. Sibthorp, Col.
Miles, P. W. S. Stuart, J.
Miles, W. Thompson, Ald.
Morgan, O. Thornhill, G.
Mundy, E. M. Tollemache, J.
Neeld, J. Tower, C.
Newdegate, C. N. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
O'Brien, A. S. Verner, Col.
Ossulston, Lord Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Packe, C. W. Waddington, H. S.
Pakington, J. S. Wodehouse, E.
Palmer, R. Worcester, Marq. of
Palmer, G. Wyndham, J. H. C.
Plumptre, J. P. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Rashleigh, W. TELLERS.
Richards, R. Borthwick, P.
Rolleston, Col. Bentinck, Lord G.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Dundas, F.
Acland, T. D. Dundas, D.
A'Court, Capt. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Ainsworth, P. Eastnor, Visct.
Aldam, W. Escott, B.
Armstrong, Sir A. Esmonde, Sir T.
Baillie, H. J. Etwall, R.
Baine, W. Evans, W.
Barclay, D. Ewart, W.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Ferguson, Col.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Beckett, W. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Berkeley, hon. C. Fitzwilliam, hon. G.
Bernal, R. Flower, Sir J.
Blake, M. J. Forster, M.
Botfield, B. Gibson, T. M.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Godson, R.
Bowes, J. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Bowles, Adm. Gore, M.
Bowring, Dr. Gore, hon. R.
Bright, J. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Brotherton, J. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Browne, hon. W. Granger, T. C.
Bruce, Lord E. Grimsditch, T.
Buckley, E. Hall, Sir B.
Buller, C. Hallyburton, Lord J. F. G.
Buller, E.
Busfeild, W. Hamilton, W. J.
Butler, P. S. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cardwell, E. Hanmer, Sir J.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Hastie, A.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Hawes, B.
Christie, W. D. Hay, Sir A. L.
Clay, Sir W. Hayter, W. G.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Heathcoat, J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Cobden, R. Hill, Lord M.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hindley, C.
Collett, J. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Copeland, Ald. Hogg, J. W.
Craig, W. G. Hollond, R.
Crawford, W. S. Hope, G. W.
Cripps, W. Hume, J.
Curteis, H. B. Hutt, W.
Damer, hon. Col. James, Sir W. C.
Dennistoun, J. Jermyn, Earl
D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T. Jocelyn, Visct.
Drummond, H. H. Kelly, Sir F.
Duke, Sir J. Kemble, H.
Duncan, Visct. Layard, Capt.
Duncan, G. Lemon, Sir C.
Duncannon, Visct. Lindsay, hon. Capt.
Duncombe, T. Loch, J.
M'Carthy, A. Seymour, Sir H. B.
M'Neill, D. Shelburne, Earl of
Mahon, Visct. Smith, B.
Mangles, R. D. Smith, J. A.
Marsland, H. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Martin, J. Smythe, hon. G.
Martin, C. W. Smollett, A.
Masterman, J. Somerset, Lord G.
Meynell, Capt. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Mitchell, T. A. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Moffatt, G. Stanton, W. H.
Morpeth, Visct. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Morris, D. Stuart, H.
Morison, Gen. Strutt, E.
Napier, Sir C. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Neville, R. Tancred, H. W.
Newry, Visct. Thesiger, Sir F.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Thornely, T.
Ogle, S. C. H. Tomline, G.
Oswald, J. Trench, Sir F. W.
Parker, J. Tufnell, H.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Vane, Lord H.
Peel, J. Villiers, hon. C.
Pennant, hon. Col. Villiers, Visct.
Philips, M. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Phillpotts, J. Wakley, T.
Plumridge, Capt. Ward, H. G.
Ponsonby, hon. C.F.A.C. Watson, W. H.
Powell, C. Wawn, J. T.
Protheroe, E. Wellesley, Lord C.
Pulsford, R. Williams, W.
Reid, Col. Wood, C.
Ricardo, J. L. Wood, Col. T.
Rich, H. Worsley, Lord
Roebuck, J. A. Wrightson, W. B.
Romilly, J. Yorke, H. R.
Ross, D. R.
Russell, Lord J. TELLERS.
Scott, R. Young, J.
Seymour, Lord Baring, H.

Question put on the first Clause,


moved to report progress.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 166: Majority 111.

Clause again put.


said, at that late hour it was impossible to think of going into the clauses. He would therefore move that the Chairman do leave the chair, and report progress, and ask leave to sit again.


begged leave to ask, as this species of delay was persevered in, whether a distinct understanding had not been come to among hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, that after the division on going into Committee, no further delay would be attempted? He only alluded to a private understanding come to out of that House, and though he should admit that the House generally was not bound by any such arrangement, still he thought that language held among Gentlemen in private should be afterwards acted on, unless it were a matter of importance with the hon. Gentlemen below the gangway opposite to pursue a contrary course. He wished to have some understanding on the point, in order that they might know the cause of this sudden interruption in the debate.


said, they knew nothing of understandings on that side of the House; they had a very simple, but he hoped determined course to pursue; and he hoped his noble and hon. Friends near him would not let that course be interrupted by any understandings. He meant secret understandings. They would have nothing of the sort on that side of the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Benches might have; and he made no doubt had private understandings, but he would have nothing of the sort. But he would subscribe to this understanding—to take that plain course which the world would comprehend. Hon. Gentlemen opposite and right hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House wished to misguide the public, and as an instance of that he would ask why had not the return for which he had moved on the 8th of April been since laid on the Table? He hoped that some Member of Her Majesty's Government would enlighten him as to the cause of that return not having yet been furnished.


observed, that the reason why the returns had not been presented was, the nature of the inquiries they involved, which were of so extensive a nature that the results could not be known at once.


said, he did not see any advantage in prolonging this contest. He had not strength to go through with it, and he did not wish to subject others to it. He should therefore propose that the hon. Gentleman should withdraw his Motion, on the understanding that they should not proceed with the Bill that night. He hoped hon. Members who had Motions standing for to-morrow would allow the Bill precedence.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.