HC Deb 15 May 1846 vol 86 cc616-727

The Motion for the Adjourned Debate having been read,


said, after the full discussion the subject had received, he was aware he could add nothing new to the arguments advanced against the measure by his hon. Friends. He feared, however, that those arguments, able and powerful as they were, would not succeed in changing the resolution of the House. Though he could not alter the decision, still he was entitled to appeal to the House to consider whether the great change would really be advantageous to the country. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had asked the right hon. Baronet as to the probable decrease of price which would be caused by the measure now under consideration; and the right hon. Baronet said he was not prepared to say that the price of wheat would fall lower than 35s. [Sir R. PEEL intimated his dissent.] Well, the right hon. Baronet was represented as having made that statement. The right hon. Baronet had referred to the year 1835, when the price of wheat was 39s. 4d.


I beg leave to tell the hon. Gentleman what I did say. I was asked what I thought would have been the price of corn in 1835, supposing a free trade in grain had then existed. I said, "I am not prepared to admit that, suppposing for some years preceding there had been a free trade in grain, corn would have been below 39s. 4d."


It was, then, quite evident that the right hon. Baronet apprehended that the price of wheat under a system of free trade might fall as low as it was in 1835. But the circular of the Anti-Corn-Law League stated that wheat would be laid down at the doors of the manufacturers at 30s. per quarter. These statements had caused the prevailing opinion of the country—for he admitted that it was the prevailing opinion—in favour of free trade; but if these statements were true, he contended, that from such a state of things great suffering and misery must necessarily be caused in this country. Take the years 1835 and 1836, in which the prices of corn had been at the low prices likely to be prevalent under a system of free trade. The historian of these years was Mr. Wilson, the Chairman of the Anti-Corn-Law League. [Mr. COBDEN: No; it is another Mr. Wilson who is Chairman of the League.] He was sure, however, that the hon. Member for Stockport would admit the talents of Mr. Jas. Wilson, who was an advocate of the opinions entertained by the hon. Member himself, and would willingly accept his description of the effects produced by the low prices of those years. Well then, Mr. Wilson had said that in those years there had been great agricultural depression, great manufacturing prosperity for a time, fearful and unnatural competition as the consequence of such prosperity—and then the reaction of misery and distress. Such, too, would be the effects produced by the low prices of free trade. [Sir JAMES GRAHAM: Hear, hear.] The right hon. Baronet cheered ironically, and by that cheer, he meant to say, that prices under free trade would not be low. But the right hon. Baronet must take one line of argument or the other. If prices were not low, if bread were not cheap, where was the benefit of this measure? Where was the good conferred upon the poor man? Where was the fulfilment of the hopes and prophecies, and promises of the League? It had been said that although there might be no fall in prices, there would be stability—that prices would be firm, that trade would be regular, and that a guarantee would exist against the high prices under which the country had suffered. Now, he believed that hope to be perfectly visionary, and that stability of price would be the last thing to expect from the repeal of the Corn Laws. And he would state the grounds on which he had formed that opinion. The average importation of wheat was now rather more than 1,000,000 quarters. He would assume the average importation in future to be 4,000,000 quarters, as the ordinary supply. The average produce of wheat in this country was 16,000,000 quarters, and the 4,000,000 quarters of foreign corn added to that would make, altogether, a regular supply of 20,000,000 quarters. What was the experience of former years? Mr. Tooke, the able statist, a gentleman of great mercantile experience, said that the harvest of 1834 was a harvest in excess over the ordinary harvest to the extent of one-fourth, and that was the cause of the low price in 1835. In 1838, according to the same authority, the harvest was deficient to the extent of one-fourth. Now, supposing the average to be 20,000,000 quarters, and there should be an excess of one-fourth, the supply would amount to 25,000,000 quarters, because the same causes which affected the harvest in this country would affect the harvests on the shores of the Baltic. Now a supply of 25,000,000 quarters, instead of 20,000,000 quarters, must depress the price most enormously; and in 1854, if the same causes should coincide in favour of an extraordinary harvest, prices would be depressed in a ruinous degree. The same thing would happen which happened in 1834. The farmers would be restricting the cultivation of wheat; the farmer abroad would also diminish his cultivation, and then, in the following year, there would be a restricted supply. Then, if there should be a deficient harvest, as in 1838, the prices would advance as enormously as they did at that time. The oscillation would be very great, and the prices would be ruinous to the farmer at one time, and at another ruinous to the manufacturer and the labourer. When it was said that if more corn was brought in it would be advantageous to the labourer, he begged to ask what had been the result since the beginning of the present century? Was he better off with an ample supply of corn than he was twenty years ago? If there was more corn there were more mouths, the population would be increased, and the proportion and distribution would be the same as at present, and wages would undergo no alteration. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had made some remarks that were not quite fair considering the position he had long occupied with respect to the agricultural interest; he said that agriculture had not thriven under the old system. No one could doubt that agriculture had improved in this country more than anywhere, and at this moment we occupied a position in that respect higher than any other country in the world except Belgium. This country fed a larger number of mouths per square mile than any country in Europe, except Belgium, and that from its own soil. In France the number was 150 per square mile; in England 230. In France 14 bushels were grown on the acre, in England 28. And while in France the prices of meal and grain had been steadier, the price of grain in this country had been gradually declining for the last thirty years. If the right hon. Baronet considered it right to change the present system, let him not do it by maligning the agriculture of the country. There was no country in the world which presented such an amount of capital invested in agriculture, and which exhibited such an extent of continued and patient industry. But it was said the alteration in the Corn Laws would produce a wonderful improvement in trade, and that our manufactures would obtain a greater development than ever. Now let him call the attention of the House to the actual fact. Since the year 1815, nearly 8,000,000 had been added to the population of the country; and on the lowest scale of estimate our manufacturing produce must have increased at the rate of 64,000,000l. a year. The agricultural industry of the country had supplied the home market, and it was that on which the manufacturers mainly depended. But it was said that the great advantage was to arise from the foreign market. In 1815, the exports were 52,000,000l., and last year they were only 58,000,000l. He was aware that the bulk of the manufactures had greatly increased since the former period; and that the shipping and other interests had been consequently benefited, but there had not been proportionate benefit to the labourer. He would ask, also, how much our Colonies had contributed to that increase in the value of goods sent abroad. The colonial trade was now about 14,000,000l. a year, and had nearly trebled in amount since the end of the war. What would be the effect of the present measure on the colonial interests? Did the manufacturers expect that the colonial markets would be in the same position after the passing of the present measure as they now were? Did they think that they would still continue to have in the West India and Canada markets a protective duty of 15 per cent? [Mr. COBDEN: No.] The hon. Member for Stockport said no. What, then, would be the consequence? Mr. Greg, in speaking the other day on the subject, stated that the cottons of the United States were running those of this country very hard in the market of Brazil; and what would be the result of a similar competition in the markets of the West Indies and North America? Would not the loss to the manufacturer be much greater than anything he could gain by the present measure, if he were driven out of the colonial markets by the cheap and heavy cottons of the United States? There had been many prophecies on this subject, and he would venture to prophesy that the manufacturers would be disappointed if they expected any great increase of their exports to foreign countries in consequence of this measure. The hon. and learned Member for Bath last night ridiculed the statement of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn as to our trade with Canada. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the greater part of our exports to Canada went to the United States; but the hon. and learned Gentleman did not seem to be aware that a large portion of the exports of this country to New York were intended for the Canadas, and he had every reason to believe that the noble Lord had correctly estimated the value of our trade with Canada at 3,000,000l. He feared that that trade would be greatly shaken by the present measure, and that the bond of interest between the Colony and the mother country might be weakened. At present the United States imposed a heavy duty on the corn and timber of Canada; but these duties would be abolished were Canada to become apart of the American Union; and such a consideration would no doubt be a great temptation to the colonists to take that step. His fears of the effects of the present measure might be greater than the result would justify; but he was certain that the hopes of the hon. Gentlemen opposite regarding the benefits that would flow from the measure, were visionary in the extreme. There was one class of effects, however, which would remain—the political effects which the measure had already occasioned. These effects were patent and known to them all. There was the severance of a great party of old associations, of himself and his hon. Friends from leaders whom they had long willingly followed. The combination of a great party had been broken up, and he did not think it likely that it would be restored. It was not, in his opinion, desirable for the public interest or useful for the country that the combination should be restored. It would be injurious to the character of statesmen and to those great institutions which they wished to preserve. He knew that he was now touching on delicate ground. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had spoken with some asperity of some of his former friends; and though he had no desire to make an attack on the right hon. Gentleman, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not complain of him if he were to exercise the privilege which he possessed as an independent Member, and criticised the public conduct of the Minister. No man more admired the talents of the right hon. Baronet thau he did; and he would admit that it would be a very great loss to the country to be deprived of talents and services which in the eyes of many were inestimable. If the right hon. Baronet had only continued to maintain what they thought to be great principles and great institutions, he knew that the right hon. Gentleman would have been most cheerfully followed and cordially supported by his hon. Friends around him. But notwithstanding all the right hon. Gentleman's eminent talents and the integrity of his motives, the right hon. Gentleman must allow him to say that there were two blemishes in his public character, which were very injurious to the public in the times in which he was placed. The right hon. Gentleman wanted faith in his own principles, and had too great a dread of his opponents. These were his two defects. The right hon. Gentleman always appeared to hold his principles loosely—to be riding at a single anchor. At the first appearance of a storm on the horizon, the right hon. Gentleman goes to sea, and not only goes to sea, but throws overboard, as the storm increases, the whole cargo of his life. Allusion had been made the other night to the expectation which had been expressed out of doors, that the right hon. Gentleman might yet bring in a measure for the Repeal of the Union; and he must say, that if the principles of hon. Gentlemen opposite were advocated with ability and perseverance, and with an earnest, conscientious, fervent appeal to the country—if hon. Members appealed to this country earnestly, ably, and successfully—to the extent, he meant, of gaining a great amount of popular support—then he did not know the institution or the principle which the right hon. Gentleman would not, under a certain pressure, abandon. The aristocracy—the Church—that education which made a people great because it made them good—all those things which to them (the Conservatives) were cardinal principles, which they could not and would not consent to sacrifice—all those principles and institutions which the right hon. Baronet had supported during the last three years—years of experience to him and to them—there was not one of them, if there was only produced a sufficient amount of popular pressure, of ability, and of actual fervent impression on the public mind, that the right hon. Baronet would not let go; and there was not one of them with regard to which the right hon. Gentleman would not give the most elaborate reasons for abandoning. He had said, that even while urging the case of the Corn Laws, he felt that the cause was one quite untenable. How long that secret might have existed in the breast of his right hon. Friend, or in that of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), he did not know; but he asked every man who had jealously and narrowly watched the actions of public men, if there was a single principle which the right hon. Gentleman had determined to persevere in, which, under the influence of popular excitement, he would not abandon. Although such was his opinion of the conduct and character of the right hon. Baronet, he would not have the House infer that he had, politically speaking, the slightest confidence in the noble Lord opposite. He admired the noble Lord's talents and respected his character; but he did not think that either he or his Friends could be induced to become followers of the noble Lord, especially in combination with the party who now supported him. The noble Lord was, without question, an able and a gallant captain; and he could perfectly understand the feelings of confidence and admiration with which his friends regarded him; because he had seen the noble Lord in stormy times, when his Administration was nearly wrecked, assume a gallant bearing, and always most chivalrous and most eloquent in times of the greatest danger and distress. Had he shared the opinions of the noble Lord, he should have been delighted to serve under such a leader; but he must say that he should have always felt, as he remembered having once felt at Calais, when storm-stayed and impatient to reach his own country. He remembered pressing a weather-beaten captain to put to sea; and he recollected his answer was, "You are a landsman, and, like all landsmen, very ignorant. This is not weather or a sea in which a ship can live." Now, he thought the noble Lord was just the man to leave the harbour when wiser or more prudent commanders would keep the port. When there was great risk and great danger, it was proper to remain on shore, and not put to sea; but the noble Lord would for an inadequate object leave a safe haven, and brave the storms of the political ocean; and, therefore, however much he admired the noble Lord, he felt it would be the duty of himself and his friends, should the noble Lord move to that side, to continue the same opposition to his Government as formerly. Yet he would much rather have the noble Lord on that side than fight in a camp where the leader, the moment the guns of the enemy commenced to play, began to spike his own, and offered terms of surrender. He thought this a most anomalous and dangerous condition of public affairs; and he must avow his conviction that the sooner it came to an end the better. Much better with the noble Lord and his associates making their honest, bold, open attacks against the principles and institutions which they had been accustomed to cherish, than seeing those principles abandoned, and those institutions undermined, by Gentlemen whose talents they admired, but in whose courage they had lost all confidence. Much better that they should, however weakened, however deprived of their ablest leaders, meet the opponents of their views, and, as they thought, of the Constitution also, on fair terms on the floor of that House, than expose themselves to a condition of affairs, which was painful to the feelings of all, and most injurious to the interests of the country; and he took leave to say to the hon. Member for Stockport, who had said he and his Friends would meet them with the skeleton of the Anti-Corn-Law League—[Mr. COBDEN: The ghost]—well the ghost of the League—he ventured to tell the hon. Gentleman, that, whatever respect they might have for his talents, they could never coincide in his views. He thought his Friends had fought this battle gallantly and with singular ability, and the more they engaged in this war the more experience would they gain. Whether on the hustings or in the counties, where the hon. Member for Stockport said he reigned supreme in the affections of the farmers, or whether in the borough towns, where he considered himself still more triumphant—in all these sufficient opportunity would be given to meet them with courage, and, he hoped with success. And if they were worsted, as he thought was very likely in the present fight here, still they would, in defence of the great institutions of the country, carry on a gallant, and, he hoped, ultimately successful warfare; for though great excitement now prevailed, and was in favour of these measures—["No, no!"]—at all events a great portion of the present excitement was in favour of the Government—that excitement would, however, pass away; and when the promises of the hon. Gentlemen opposite were found not to be realized—when the promises they had made to the merchants, the manufacturers, and the labourers were not fulfilled in the increase of trade and manufactures — when all the hopes they had held out were proved to be visionary and fallacious, then would they (the protectionists) appeal to the people of England with this simple question, "Who, in the hour and crisis of difficulty, wese your subtle but faithless counsellors, and who your humble but consistent friends?"


said, he had hoped that at this period of the debate they should have heard the last of the personal attacks which had come from hon. Gentlemen opposite. He thought that the party to whom the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down belonged, might fairly claim the praise which the hon. Member had bestowed on the noble Lord the Member for London, namely, that the worse their position was, the more gallantry they displayed in defending it; but he thought, also, that the hon. Member might have found, in the nature of the position which they occupied, some reasonable grounds for doubting the soundness of the opinions which were held by its defenders. On this subject, however, he would say no more, because he was anxious, during the very short time in which he should detain the House, to state the main grounds on which he supported this measure. He pleaded guilty to the charge of being one of those who, without the experience of the last three years, and even without the experience of many years before, had arrived at the opinion that a protective system of Corn Laws was inexpedient and unjust. Long before this question assumed its present aspect — long before that body to whom so much credit was due for their exertions had organized the means for obtaining a repeal of the Corn Laws, he had expressed his opinion to his constituents, that the landlords of England had no right to protection. He never had wavered in his opinion, that a system of laws for enhancing the price of food for the benefit of the producer was inexpedient and unjust. He must say, that the main reason which he had for supporting the present measure, was the effect which the maintenance of the Corn Laws had on the labouring population. He had, indeed, thought, until the other night, that the commercial advantages of the repeal of the Corn Laws were undoubted and undisputed. That point, however, had been questioned the other night by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury. He (Mr. C. Wood) did not think that the House was a good arena for a discussion on the principles of political economy. He would, however, call the attention of the hon. Member to this remarkable fact, that for years back there had been an extraordinary importation of corn at a very low duty, coincident with an extraordinary importation of bullion. That was a perfect contradiction to the theory of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury. At the end of the year 1838 the gold in the Bank of England amounted to 9,726,000l. In the course of the year following, 3,110,000 quarters of wheat were introduced into the country; and there was left at the end of the year 1839 only 3,934,000l. of bullion in the Bank. In the year 1840, 2,910,000 quarters of wheat were imported; and at the end of the year the amount of bullion in the Bank was 4,029,000. In 1841, 2,910,000 quarters of wheat were introduced into the country; and at the end of the year the bullion rose to 5,031,000. In 1842, the quantity of wheat imported was 3,110,000 quarters, and at the end of that year the quantity of bullion in the Bank rose from 5,000,000l. to 10,510,000l. In the two years 1843 and 1844, there were imported 3,246,000 quarters of wheat, and the bullion rose to 14,450,000l. That was perfectly inconsistent with the fact that a permanent import of corn from foreign countries led to a permanent drain of gold. That it would, in the first instance, lead to a drain of gold everybody admitted, but not permanently. In the interval between 1839 and 1844 the bullion, as he had shown, had increased from 4,000,000l. to 14,500,000l., whilst, during the same period, a most extraordinary importation of corn took place, and chiefly from countries which protected themselves from the import of our goods by hostile tariffs. So much, therefore, for the argument of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury. The main ground, however, on which he (Mr. C. Wood) rested his vote for the measure was the benefit which he believed would be derived by the labourer from the abolition of the Corn Laws. No Gentleman on either side of the House had stated the full amount to which the benefit which the labourer would derive from the repeal of the Corn Laws would go. Now, he did not mean to say that hon. Members on his (Mr. C. Wood's) own side of the House alone stood up for the rights of labour. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury put the question the other day, and very fairly, upon this footing, namely, was this a measure which would be prejudicial to the labourer? The hon. Member's argument was, that there would be a great displacement of labour, in consequence of the repeal of the Corn Laws. The hon. Member contended that the agricultural labourer would be reduced to great distress, and that, although corn might be low in price, he would not have money to purchase it. But the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyne had stated a fact in the course of his speech which showed that the contrary would be the case. That hon. Member had stated, that there had been a great improvement in agriculture during the last thirty years, and that this had taken place in the face of the falling price of corn. If, therefore, the price of corn fell in consequence of the passing of this Bill, it would not prevent improvements in agriculture. On the contrary, he believed that they would be more indispensably necessary. Now, improvements in agriculture gave greater employment to labour even for the production of green food; he had heard many hon. Gentlemen say that the best system of farming consisted in having a rotation of crops, instead of keeping lands in pasture, and that this was the system which gave the largest amount of employment to the labourer. He (Mr. C. Wood) did not anticipate, therefore, the slightest diminution of employment for the agricultural labourer consequent upon the change of the Corn Laws. The only other argument was that as the wages of the labourer were regulated by the price of agricultural produce, the price of food was of no consequence to him. He would not go into a discussion upon the principles of political economy, or allude to Adam Smith. He would appeal to the experience of all persons who were conversant with agricultural affairs. He was ready to admit that with regard to some portion of the agricultural labourers under the old Poor Law, there had been some approximation to the principle which it was contended regulated the price of wages. When wages were paid, not according to the amount of labour performed, but according to the number of persons in a family, and so much bread was given per head, the labourer had what he should rather call an allowance than wages. He would, however, refer to what had actually been a short time ago, the rate of wages, as compared with the price of corn in this country. In 1835 corn was under 40s. the quarter, and in 1839 the average price was above 70s. the quarter. Now what were the wages in the south of England in the first of these years? Taking them to have been 8s. per week in 1835, they ought to have been 14s. a week in 1839, to have enabled the labourer to purchase the same quantity of bread. Unless the labourer had those increased wages he would not have been in 1839 in the same relative position as he was in 1835. Would any Gentleman connected with the south of England tell him that in 1839 the labourer's wages were 14s. a week? Would they even say that that sum was even approached? He believed the price of wheat now was between 50s. and 60s., but he would take it at 50s. a quarter. The price being 40s. in 1835, and the wages 8s. a week, the labourer ought now to have 10s. a week wages; but were these the wages that were now given in Dorsetshire? It was well known that they were not. Wages, therefore, did not vary with the price of corn, and consequently a measure which prevented a rise in the price of corn was a great advantage to the agricultural labourer. He would now turn to the manufacturing labourer. There were those who said that whenever the price of food was low, wages were high in the manufacturing districts. He would not take upon himself to say that this was the case; but it certainly was true that of late years they had been remarkably coincident. He did not mean to say whether these things bore the relation of cause and effect or not; but certainly for the last few years the labourer, when corn was low, had a greater command of the necessaries of life. Now, he would take the same two years to which he had referred before—the years 1835 and 1839. In 1839 the price of corn rose 75 per cent, as compared with the former year. Now, in the borough which he (Mr. C. Wood) had the honour to represent between the same two years, the rate of wages fell 25 per cent, while the price of wheat rose 75 per cent. This, it was evident, made a difference to the poor man in the necessaries of life, of not less than 100 per cent. That made a very material alteration in the condition of the labouring man. He might move to an inferior house, he might wear worse clothes, he might give up the use of animal food; but what he could not give up without introducing disease and starvation into his family was bread. Now, he (Mr. C. Wood) wished to placed before the House a statement showing to what a great extent the comforts of the labourer did depend upon the price of wheat. The usual assumption was, that every person consumed a quarter of wheat per annum; it was also the usual assumption that a family averaged five persons. The consequence would be that the ordinary consumption of a family would be an average of five quarters of wheat per annum. Now, he would take a labouring family consisting of five persons, whose average earnings amounted to 1l. a week. In the year 1835, therefore, that family would have earned 52l., and they would have had to have paid for their five quarters of wheat, 10l., leaving them a balance for other purposes of 42l. In 1839, wages having fallen 25 per cent in the interim, the wages of this family would be 39l., and the price of five quarters of wheat would be 17l. 10s., so that, deducting 17l. 10s. from 39l., the amount of their earnings for that year, instead of a balance of 42l. for the purchase of other necessaries, they would have only 21l. 10s., whereby his income would be reduced rather more than one-half. He (Mr. C. Wood) had assumed that this family had been in the receipt of 1l. a week in 1835, and in doing so he had taken the higher description of labourer; but of course the lower the labourer was in the social scale, the heavier was the effect of the price of wheat upon his condition. Now, assuming that a family earned in 1835, 40l. per annum, in 1839 their wages would have amounted to 30l., and the cost of five quarters of wheat being 17l. 10s., only 12l. 10s. would be left for the purchase of other necessaries. Taking a case where a family earned still less wages, 10s. a week (which was 26l. a year), in 1835, their earnings in 1839 would be 19l. 10s., and the price of five quarters of wheat being 17l. 10s., they would only have 2l. to pay for rent, clothes, and other necessaries. He did not mean to say that this was a state of things that could continue to exist, because it was clear that such a family must have deprived themselves of a very large portion of the ordinary food on which they lived before they could reach that point of destitution. Before, therefore, hon. Gentlemen talked of keeping up the price of corn, it would be well for them to consider what must be the effect upon the comforts of the labourers. The hon. Member for Somersetshire had spoken of the great distress that must fall on landlords in consequence of reducing the price of agricultural produce; but it should be remembered that precisely in the proportion that they would lose hereafter, the labouring poor lost now. They had heard a good deal in reference to the social condition of the people, of some being too rich, and others too poor. He thought this dangerous language, as, unexplained, it seemed to imply that the riches on the one hand arose from the poverty on the other. This was not true generally, as nothing tended more to give employment to the labourer, and go to improve his condition, than the accumulation of capital in the hands of the employers of labour. There was, however, one case in which this was true, and that was when the increased rents of the landlords arose from enhancing the price of corn, and thereby depressing the condition of the labourer. In this manner the evil so denounced existed in its worst form; and he warned those whose warm interest in the state of the poor he did not for one moment doubt, against continuing the evil, which they, as well as himself, so much deprecated. He individually did not believe that any such loss as was anticipated, would be entailed on the landlords of England. He did not anticipate such a fall in the prices of food as had been expected. The results both for good and evil of the measure had, he believed, been much exaggerated by partisans on both sides. For his own part, he believed that the energies of the farmer would be able to cope with all competition to which he would be exposed; while the increase of produce would more than make up for the diminished prices which might be anticipated. But whatever sacrifices a change in the existing system might entail upon landowners, he, as one of that class, hoped and believed that they would think of the interests of the poor, as paramount to every other consideration.


said, he wished to take that opportunity of referring to a statement of the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, which coming from such a quarter was likely to have a mischievous tendency, in exciting the agricultural labourers against their employers. If he did not mistake the right hon. Gentleman, he stated that the price of wheat had no effect on the price of wages, or, if any, acted inversely. Now he (Mr. Bennet) could not answer for the manufacturers, who amassed large fortunes most rapidly, whether they allowed their operatives to share in their profits; but as West Suffolk had been named by the right hon. Baronet, he should confine himself to that point, and although condemning the present measure of Government as likely to bring ruin on all the best interests of the country, labour being a component part of the value of wheat, he considered that the probable reduction of the price of wheat would reduce the price of wages, as all practical men assured him of the fact that they varied the wages with the price of their produce. He did think that every person employed in the agricultural district in which he lived, would look upon them as doing an act of the greatest injustice, if when the price of corn rose, they did not allow the labourer to reap the advantage. He had taken every opportunity when in the country to ask persons whose experience was great, whether wages did not rise in proportion to the rise in the price of corn; and in reply he had been asked, "Can any person be so foolish as to suppose that we do not vary our wages with the price of corn? The moment wheat rises we raise the wages, and when it falls wages fall with it, and it is only right it should be so." He had heard this in an agricultural district. He would state the exact rate of wages which had been paid by an extensive farmer in his county. This was a statement of what that farmer had received for wheat in his farming book, and the wages he paid his labourers. The rate of wages might appear low, and he wished they had been higher; but they were paid for day work, which hon. Members were aware was far different to the payment for piece work. In the year 1834, when this farmer was paid 2l. 12s. 10d. per quarter for wheat, the labourer received 9s. a week. In 1835, when it was 47s. per quarter, the wages were then reduced to 8s. a week. In 1836, when wheat was 35s., the wages were still 8s. In 1837 his wheat was 2l. 16s. 2d. per quarter, and he then paid 9s. per week for wages. In 1838 wheat was 2l. 18s., and he paid 9s. per week; but the latter part of that year the price rose, and the labourers were paid 10s. In 1839 the price was 2l. 12s. 8d. per quarter, and the wages 10s. a week. In 1840 wheat was 3l. 2s., and the wages 10s. In 1841 the wages were 10s. per week. In 1842 they were 10s., and 9s. when the price of wheat was falling. In 1843 wheat was still falling, and the wages were 9s. In 1844 wages were 9s. a week, and in 1845, when the price of wheat was very low, 9s. per week were paid; but at Christmas, when an idea that there was no corn in the country, and that there would be a famine, induced a rise in the price of corn, the labourers were paid 10s. per week. This farmer was continuing to pay that price at the present moment. In Cambridgeshire and in Suffolk it was a very usual thing to pay the labourers at the rate of a peck of corn daily, and therefore the labourer could mark his wages by the sale of a peck of corn; and the same custom extended to every sack of flour, wages rising 6d. per week for every rise of 5s. a sack—the labourer's means of buying food increasing with the price of flour. He could assure the House, that he had received his statements from men of the highest respectability. They were men who said that their neighbours acted upon the same principle. The farmers invariably found, that after a plentiful harvest, wheat sold as low as 16s. per coomb, and flour as low as 1s. per stone. He begged pardon for trespassing so long on the time of the House; but he hoped that the farmers would not again be aspersed in the way they had been.


rose to explain: What he had said, and he thought proved, in speaking of the agricultural labourers was, that their wages in certain counties which he cited examples of, which with all the communications which had been received by the Government on the subject, he offered to place in the hands of honourable Gentlemen if they wished to be supplied—what he had said, was—and he had also laid upon the Table returns for the last thirty years, and from certain agricultural counties—that, he thought, proved what he said—that the wages of the agricultural labourer did not vary in a direct ratio with the price of corn. He was speaking then of agricultural labourers only, and he thought he had proved his assertion to be founded in fact. But in speaking of the manufacturing and not of the agricultural labourer, he (Sir R. Peel) said he thought he could show that at many times and in many cases the wages of the manufacturing labourer had varied in an inverse ratio to the price of corn. That was the statement which he had made.


said, that after the fullest consideration, and after having listened most attentively to the arguments put forward upon that question, he felt bound to tell the House and the country that he still entertained the views he had formerly expressed, as to the impolicy of the measure then under their consideration. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that the wages of labour did not always vary with the prices of wheat. He admitted that the price of labour, like that of every other article, was a question of competition. It was well known, that whenever we were threatened with large importations of foreign corn, capitalists became unusually cautious in affording accommodation to the public; and the consequence was that less money was spent in the payment of wages. He did not believe that the passing of the measure of the right hon. Baronet would put an end to that evil. He felt persuaded that the effect of the measure would be rather to diminish than to increase the demand for labour. In his opinion, therefore, it was peculiarly a labourer's question; it was a question of competition with the labour of foreign countries. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. C. Wood) had said that that had been argued as a question of rent. But he confessed that he should be ashamed to argue it as a question of rent. The great question at issue was, whether the cultivation of the land should be continued in this country, or whether we should depend on foreign supplies for our consumption. Holding, as he did, a strong opinion of the resources of the corn-producing countries of the Continent, and of their capability of growing corn at a much less expense than the cost of raising it in this country, he felt that the proposed change was one which would affect to a very considerable extent the demand for labour. If he were convinced that our agriculturists could compete on fair and equal terms with the agriculturists of foreign countries, he would not for one moment stand in the way of carrying that measure. But, as he felt assured that the tendency of the measure would be to throw large quantities of land in this country out of cultivation, he felt it his duty to offer to it his most strenuous opposition. He did not wish to show any peculiar favour to the agricultural interest; he stood there as the representative of all the interests—agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial of this country. They had been told by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of the Home Department that certain noblemen felt no alarm at the passing of that measure. Now, it might be very true, that noblemen like Earl Fitzwilliam and the Earl of Derby, with their 50,000l. a year, might very well afford to lose a portion of their incomes; but a change which might easily be borne by great landed proprietors might seriously affect the small holders and the tenant farmers of this country. If the landlords were the only parties interested in the question, he, for one, would not stand up to advocate their views upon that occasion. It had been said that the Corn Laws had not answered the purpose for which they had been framed. Now, he conceived that they had been framed for the purpose of securing the farmers of this country against foreign competition in years of abundance and of fruitful harvests; and he certainly could not see how they had failed in accomplishing that object. It had been alleged that considerable excitement prevailed in the country in favour of the proposed change. He would, however, venture to say that there had never been a measure of such importance submitted to Parliament which had been received so quietly by the country as the measure then under the consideration of the House. He thought that that absence of excitement was extremely creditable, as it very strikingly manifested the moderation and good sense of the people at large. He looked upon this as a great speculation. It was possible that it might answer; but all those indications which usually encouraged speculators to persevere were wanting on this occasion. Land, for some time after the war, no doubt, was much depreciated in value; but within the last ten or fifteen years, since the year 1833, agriculture had improved to a degree such as the most sanguine never could have anticipated, and was now in a most flourishing condition: how dangerous, then, how bold a step was it to take, to interfere with a state of things under which the riches and power of the country were steadily increasing, without the proof of any great public necessity! He believed that there never was a period when this country was so abundantly supplied with the necessaries of life as at this very time. They had been told that there would be a paucity of cheap bread, and that it would be in fact impossible to obtain a sufficient supply. Before this Bill received the Royal Assent—if it was ever to receive that assent—he would venture to say that they would have in bond at least two millions and a half quarters of corn. The party with which he acted had been charged with delaying this measure; but he doubted if that delay had proved injurious either to the interests of the farmer or of the community. He was by no means certain that the revenue would not be benefited by the delay. Were they quite sure that they were about to let in wheat at 4s. a quarter? He thought, on the contrary, that the late fall in the market afforded an indication that before this Bill received the Royal Assent, they would receive a considerable accession, in the way of revenue, from the fall in prices. Injury might, undoubtedly, be inflicted on a few individual speculators; but it was the business of this class to take the chance of war. The measure had been called great and comprehensive; but to him it appeared a very one-sided scheme, purely affecting the agricultural interest, without doing them a single act of justice, or relieving that interest from any of the special burdens under which it laboured. When they determined to deprive the English agriculturist of protection, they ought at least to have placed him on an equal footing with the foreigner, so as to have given him a fair chance in the competition which they were about to force upon him. It had been said, that the delay had paralysed the trade of the country. His only wonder was that the stagnation had not been greater. What must be the practical effect of a measure like this? The banker looked cautiously to his security, so that it was impossible for the farmer to obtain any advances from him; and the mortgagee became anxious as to whether the property by which his advances were secured, would be competent under the alteration which had taken place, in circumstances to meet his demands. The right hon. Baronet had said in 1835, when 39s. was the average price of wheat, that he was not prepared to assert that it would have been cheaper under a system of free trade. He apprehended, however, that the right hon. Baronet was in error in making this assertion; for we should, no doubt, under a system of free trade, have had many additional millions of quarters of corn in the country, which must have been got rid of at some price. The quotations which he had made on a former occasion, relative to the price of wheat, had been much questioned; but since he had made that statement he had received many communications from other parties engaged in transactions connected with corn fully corroborating it, and expressing their surprise that the House of Commons was not better informed on the question they were legislating upon, as the question of price was a most important element in the consideration of the subject. He had received a letter from a practical man, long resident in the East Riding of Yorkshire, one of the most fruitful districts in existence, with whom he was entirely unacquainted, and who had communicated with him solely in consequence of seeing the report of his speech in the papers. His correspondent stated that the average price of wheat was, at Burlington, 38s. 10d., barley, 21s. 8d., oats, 18s. 5d.; so far from any sign of famine manifesting itself. He also stated that, with a continuance of the present fine weather, instead of having a famine in May, they would require another market to get rid of their produce. This was the letter of a man who had been for forty years largely engaged in the corn trade; and what he had foretold had actually taken place. Surprise was expressed when statements were made that foreign wheat had been purchased at 25s. per quarter; but there were persons at Hull and Newcastle who had purchased it at 18s. per quarter. It was said that farmers were quite willing to take farms at as high a rent as last year. Now if this were the case since the present measure was proposed, it must have altogether arisen from the confidence which the tenant-farmers reposed in the landowners. The farmers knew that if Sir R. Peel's measure passed, and that the price of their produce was ruinously reduced, the landlords of England would not hesitate to make a corresponding abatement in the rent. But he doubted this indifference on the part of the farmers, to the measures of the Cabinet. He had let some farms himself since the free importation of corn was proposed to Parliament, and he must say that the farmers expressed very great hostility indeed—some of them were even thinking about selling off their stock, and embarking in some other business; but he felt it only right to tell these farmers, that in case Sir R. Peel's measure passed, and that it was attended by the disastrous results which he anticipated, that he would make a corresponding reduction in his rents. [Mr. ROEBUCK: That must be generally done.] He did not think it quite fair that he should be interrupted, although, indeed, he could hardly wonder at the interruption on the present occasion, considering the quarter whence it proceeded. The hon. Member for Bath did not hesitate to interrupt any man; but he could assure him that no interruption from him would in the least put him out of his course, or hinder him from expressing his views to the House. If the measure should be passed, some relief ought to be given to the landed interest commensurate with the loss it would sustain, and the taxes it had to endure. He must say, that he did not think it fair that the fundholders should remain untaxed, whilst the landholders of 300l. a year were paying 75l. in the shape of highway rates, poor rates, and county rates. He would not attempt to lay down any plan — that would be presumptuous in him—but he sincerely hoped that full compensation would be made to the landed interest. If the measure should pass, and be attended with the results which they believed it would, they would have the satisfaction of reflecting that they were no parties to it—that they were not the speculators—that they were not provisional committee-men—that they had raised their voice against it, believing it would prove injurious to all, but especially to the humbler classes of their fellow countrymen, who were least able to endure the ruinous competition it would induce. If, on the contrary, it succeeded—if their fears were happily disappointed, and the hopes of its projectors realized, none would rejoice more sincerely than that party to which he had the honour to belong—that party which, believing it would prove injurious, had felt it to be their duty to give it all the opposition in their power.


said: I assure the House I would not have intruded myself on its notice, if my constituents, who belong to the manufacturing as well as to the agricultural classes, did not express an earnest and almost unanimous desire that the measure should not pass. I have in my pocket, at this moment, a letter from a respectable person, which is a slight proof that what some of my hon. Friends had long since stated, that distress in Ireland was exaggerated, and for which they were so much blamed, is not only probable, but strictly true. The letter I allude to is dated the 1st of May, from Bristol, and it sets forth that a vessel bearing sixty tons of potatoes had arrived there from Baltimore, and that another vessel was daily expected. This letter likewise states that a vessel containing sixty tons of potatoes, was about leaving Kinsale for the same port, in a week after date. Now, Sir, if this statement be true, and if the distress in Ireland really exists, I really think it is the duty of the Government to take measures to prevent this exportation. It seems rather strange to be complaining of famine in a country whence food is daily exported. I am opposed to this measure, not only because I think it is bad in itself, but because I am of opinion that the farmers who have been suffering from the late Tariff are altogether unable to bear this additional infliction. If the Government will not only glut our home market with foreign cattle and foreign sheep, but deluge it with foreign corn, the English farmers will have no resource whatever left. [The noble Marquess read a return of the quantities of cattle weekly sent to the English market from Holland, Germany, and Prussia.] But, Sir, I can hardly wonder at the measures of the Government, seeing that it is their design to make this a manufacturing country solely. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, avowed his opinion, that this country is no longer to be considered as an agricultural country. [Sir JAMES GRAHAM: What I said was, that this country is not to be considered exclusively agricultural.] Well, Sir, I must say, that I do not recollect that word "exclusively." I thought, Sir, the right hon. Baronet's words were "agricultural country," and not an "exclusively agricultural country." I must say again, that I so understood the right hon. Baronet, and that he is so reported. I think that both the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government and the Secretary of State for the Home Department are doing their best to prevent this country being an agricultural country any longer. I think the sentiments of both right hon. Baronets do not differ much from those expressed by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) who says, that the towns ought to rule the country. The sentiments may be expressed in different language, but both amount to this—that this country ought to be converted into one vast receptacle of manufacturers. The right hon. Baronet made another observation—namely, that the consumers, not the producers, were the people to be considered. For my part, Sir, I humbly think both classes should find equal favour in the eyes of the Legislature. It seems to me, that there is nobody the right hon. Baronet is so anxious to protect as the foreigners, for he will have their produce poured into our markets, irrespective of the loss which our farmers must incur by being subject to a greater cost of production. I think the right hon. Baronet will find, that if he carries out his principle—but he is not very fond of carrying out principles—he will find, that the manufacturers will be as much opposed to its full development as the agriculturists now are; and that they will mourn the day when they first lent their assent to these schemes. I have heard it said, that the farmers are indifferent to the progress of this measure. I have received a letter from one of my constituents, a most respectable and intelligent farmer; and in answer to a query as to what the opinion of the farmers is, he says— If those who believe the farmers are for free trade or indifferent to it, were at Cirencester market last week, they would be speedily undeceived, for they would have heard many farmers cursing the Minister for his measures and for his double dealing. I must say, that I have heard precisely the same feeling expressed by the farmers myself in ten or fourteen different marketplaces. I believe other hon. Gentlemen near me heard the same language expressed. Some hon. Members, who sit behind the Treasury bench admit that they regard this as a very hard and injurious measure, but still that they have so much confidence in the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) that they will support it. Well, Sir, I cannot understand this reasoning. I prefer looking to the measures, and considering their tendency, irrespective of those who bring them forward. It appears to me, to use a familiar illustration, that the First Lord of the Treasury resembles a jockey who was put up to ride a great race, but who pulls up his horse in the midst of it. The right hon. Baronet was put up to ride the race of protection; but, Sir, he has pulled up his steed, and not merely allowed his opponent to triumph, but has actually ridden the race of free trade himself. Whether he will be victorious or no is another matter.


wished to make a few remarks before this matter was finally settled by the House. He must first be allowed to say, that in some of the observations which had fallen from hon. Gentlemen who took a different view from that which he entertained, he fully concurred. He concurred with them in holding that no party had any right to complain that this matter had been so fully and maturely debated; and from the discussion which had taken place, one good effect had, he thought, arisen, that, whatever might be the opinions of individual Members as to the merits of the Bill, it proved to the country that those who moved in the higher circles did possess that candour and that superiority of intellect which under all circumstances, and at all times, he trusted they would maintain. The discreet and temperate way in which hon. Gentlemen had advocated the cause they had embraced, merited every commendation. He differed from many hon. Gentlemen who had spoken as to the apprehensions they entertained of the effect of this measure on the interests of agriculture. He should first allude to some remarks which had been made by a tenant-farmer who had gone to Russia a very great protectionist, and labouring under the impression that Russia and Prussia possessed an unlimited supply of corn. But after he had acquired experience, he became satisfied that the people possessed neither knowledge nor means to enable them so to conduct their agricultural operations as to inflict injury, by their competition, on the British farmer. That gentleman stated a variety of circumstances in corroboration of his opinion. Agricultural operations he described as being in a very primitive state, and the agricultural implements in use were of a very rude structure. The consequence is," he observes, "that the lands, for want of strength to till them, look poverty-stricken and neglected, and must, under any circumstances, require an immense outlay of capital to improve them, independently of the energy and skill required to overcome the difficulties as regards the shortness of the season during which anything connected with the improvement of the soil can be carried on. The earth is closed against all cultivation for seven months of continued and severe winter. One month of the year may be divided into spring and autumn, and four months into extreme heat of summer. As to the chance of extensive pastures being taken into cultivation, he stated that they were so exposed to snow storms that the greatest possible obstacles existed to the successful adoption of such a course. He says— It may be thought that these pastures may be cultivated in case of a market for corn in England. But this cannot take place, since they are subject to violent snow storms, which drive everything before them. Such is the power of these hurricanes of wind and snow, that cattle, when these are approaching, if not prevented by the herdsmen, take fright and run into ravines, where they are smothered. Besides, these lands are subject to the visitation of locusts; and the effects of severe drought in the summer, increased by the continuous wet to which they are subject in the winter. He mentioned various other details, and stated, that in some parts of Prussia the wages of agricultural labourers were greater than those of the same class in England. Those were the remarks of a tenant-farmer who went abroad with very different opinions, and who altered his views in consequence of what came under his own personal observation. As to America, he (Mr. M. Gore) was also of opinion that the production of grain there had been greatly overrated, and that there was no reason to anticipate any influx for many years, such as would prove prejudicial to the agricultural interest of this country. As to grain in America, it appeared from official returns in 1840, ascertained by the persons appointed to take the sixth census, that the total produce of the Union was—

Wheat 84,832,272
Barley 4,161,501
Oats 123,071,341
Rye 18,645,567
Buckwheat 7,291,743
Indian corn 377,531,875
Total 615,515,302
He had received a communication from a gentleman in the City on the same point; it was as follows:— In reply to your inquiry, the exportation of flour from New Orleans is about 400,000 barrels in good years, and 200,000 barrels in ordinary years. No wheat is exported from the United States worth mention. The total average exportation per annum does not amount to 45,000 quarters for the last thirteen years, 1831 to 1843, both inclusive, and this is principally sent to Canada, and is a trade likely to increase in that quarter; but experience has proved that flour is the form in which the cereal product of America must be conveyed to Europe. The average exportation of flour for thirteen years does not quite reach 1,000,000 of barrels annually from all the States of the American Union collectively; it is 997,771 barrels exactly (1831 to 1843 inclusively). Of this quantity 225,000 barrels went on the average annually to Great Britain; 175,000 to British America, Canada, and Newfoundland; 135,000 to the British West Indies; 80,000 to Cuba; 170,000 to Brazil; being 785,000 barrels; and 215,000 barrels went to other places on the American continent. But it is quite apparent that the average exportation from America into Europe does not exceed 400,000 barrels annually; each barrel contains 196lbs. net weight of flour. For six consecutive years the export of flour from the United States to Great Britain did not amount altogether to 55,000 barrels, or an average of 9,000 barrels per annum, and they were the years 1833 to 1838 inclusive. In the year 1843 there were only 14,000 barrels shipped from the United States to Great Britain. Nothing is more difficult to answer with satisfaction than the American part of the corn question; but my impression is, that experience being better than prophecy, we may take the export of the past as a guide for the future, and say that America may furnish to Europe about 500,000 barrels of flour from the United States, and the same quantity from Canada to Europe. All the rest is absorbed by American wants, the West Indies, Newfoundland, the Brazils, Cuba, St. Domingo, and all the hot countries where wheat will not grow; and also to supply her mercantile marine all over the world. The price at which flour could be furnished I cannot possibly say, but it has hitherto cost over 30s. per barrel in Europe. When the price is under this rate we find supplies fall off. He (Mr. M. Gore) might be permitted to say for his own part, with the view he took of the question, that if he thought any very great inconvenience was likely to result from the importation of corn either from America, or from the continent of Europe, he should hesitate very much before he gave his consent to the Bill. He should next lay before the House a statement in reference to the continental markets. It varied in some respects from that of Mr. Macculloch, who stated the average prices of wheat in Dantzic, for eleven years, ending with 1841, at 37s. 11d. a quarter, which, adding 10d. for shipping charges, made the average price, free on board, 38s. 9d. a quarter, and adding 12s. or 13s. for importation and delivery to millers in London, the average cost of Dantzic wheat in England, free of duty, was from 51s. to 52s. a quarter. Such was Mr. Macculloch's statement. He held in his hand various tables which had been furnished to him by Mr. Body. They gave a statement of the wheat and flour shipped from Dantzic to this country for the twelve years ending 1843: also the prices and the freights for a number of years. In some years the prices certainly appeared low—sometimes not 33s. or 34s.—but then the shipments had fallen off exactly in proportion. It appeared that as prices had fallen, shipments had also fallen off, except in 1836—in explanation of which Mr. Body says— The exportation from Dantzic in 1836 was almost entirely speculative, and consisted of parcels which had been purchased in Dantzic in the two or three years previous, but not shipped. The quantity is not large, compared with the latter years of large export. The wheat was brought here on speculation, and a very large quantity of it was shipped to America in the years 1837 and 1838. I sent over a large quantity myself. We were tired of letting the wheat lie at Dantzic, and so we brought it over here, and after keeping it here twelve months we shipped a great part of it to America (the whole proceeding was an episode), and much money was lost by it. The quantity stated in our Dantzic corn return of exports is in lasts, each last containing ten quarters. I beg respectfully to call your attention to this; we consider 90,000 quarters the quantity sent from Dantzic in 1836 to England, in any year, and under the most unfavourable circumstances, to be a very small speculation indeed. The authority for the prices paid at Dantzic is the highly respectable firm of Theodore Behrend and Co., of Dantzic; and we can confirm the same from our actual experience. The same house furnished the quotations of the course of exchange; and the same house procured from Mr. Retz, the sworn broker and official officer of exports (schiffs abrechner, as he is called), the quantities exported and the rates of freight. All these documents passed through the hands of Behrend, and there can be no doubt of their authenticity. But the same parties who were so willing to give information when it was considered to be a piece of statistical news only, are now very averse to give further information, because they, in Dantzic, look upon the change in the Corn Laws with great aversion. If you ask at Dantzic what they prefer, they will all say, 'the old sliding-scale.' If you ask at Warsaw, they will say, 'free trade.' The prices of grain from Odessa were stated in the circular of a house in Leghorn at 33s. to 35s. But the quality was very inferior. It might be said that, though the introduction of such grain would not affect the interests of those who grew good corn, it would affect the interests of those who grew inferior grain. He had seen specimens of the foreign grain of which such apprehensions were entertained, and, really, it was such miserable stuff that he did not believe they would get people to consume it in this country. At the same time, he was ready to allow that this great measure, like other great changes, would probably be attended with considerable inconvenience to various parties whose interests were concerned. He had made inquiries as to the feelings with which the measure was regarded by such parties, and he admitted at once that the opinions he had received were very various. A very considerable proportion took the same view with himself, that there was no ground for apprehending a large importation of foreign grain. Others took a different view; and he might be permitted to refer to the opinion of a gentleman whose authority was of great weight—Mr. Wiggins. That gentleman thought that the change would have some prejudicial influence, which, however, would be but temporary. Speaking generally, the result of the inquiries he (Mr. M. Gore) had instituted was, that the agriculturists were excited far beyond what circumstances at all justified as to the consequences of this measure. The farmers were a great support and an ornament to the country; and he was sure there was no Gentleman on either side of the House who would not sympathize with them, and endeavour to do everything to prevent their interests from sustaining injury. While he did think that this measure would exercise but an inconsiderable influence upon those interests, he trusted that the good feeling of the English landlords would lead them to keep in view the position in which their tenantry were placed; and, what was of the greatest importance, give them good advice as to the cultivation of their land; so that landlord and tenant might stand on a better footing than for some time past. If the small farmers were removed and capitalists substituted, cultivation might be carried on possibly to greater advantage; but though he trusted that the result of the proposed change would be the introduction of a better system of farming, he hoped that everything would be done in a kindly spirit towards those who were engaged in the cultivation of the soil, and that no course would be pursued which did not conduce to the comfort and happiness of those invaluable classes. The effect of the measure on the condition of the labouring classes was an important point for the consideration of the House. There was a great rise of prices between 1792 and 1801. Mr. Tooke says— Arthur Young, in his Annals of Agriculture, observes, that a person is now living in the vicinity of Bury who, when in 1792 he laboured for 5s. a week, could purchase with that 5s. a bushel of wheat, ditto of malt, a pound of butter, a pound of cheese, and a penny worth of tobacco; in 1801 the same articles cost—
Bushel of wheat £0 16 0
Ditto of malt 0 9 0
1 lb. of butter 0 1 0
1 lb. of cheese 0 0 4
Pennyworth of tobacco 0 0 1
£1 6 5
Suppose in 1801 his wages were 9s. 0d.
Suppose as a pauper, from rates 6 0
Total 15 0
So that to enable him to purchase the same quanties he procured when his week's wages were 5s., it would now require 11s. 5d. more than his wages and the parish allowance altogether. The comparison is," says Mr. Young, "fair as far as it goes, because the extreme in both cases, the very lowest in the first, and the very highest in the last. There was a rise in artisan and manufacturing labour between 1792 and 1801, but in a small proportion only to the rise in the prices of necessaries. Various statements were put forth by different classes of artisans at that time setting forth the inadequateness of the rise of wages, including the most recent advance in 1801. Among other statements, was one from the journeymen tailors, by which it appeared that their wages from 1777 to 1795 had been 1l. 2s. 9d. per week, which, at the price of 9¼d. for the quartern loaf, would purchase 36 loaves; while the utmost advance of wages which, in 1795, was to 25s., and in 1801 to 27s. per week, would purchase only 18 loaves and a-half in the latter year. A statement from printers' compositors, whose weekly wages were advanced from 24s. to 29s. in 1795, and to 30s. in 1801, gives a similar result in the disproportion of the advance of wages to the rise of necessaries. By the Greenwich Hospital table, the wages of carpenters, bricklayers, masons, and plumbers, appeared to have experienced very little advance, according to the quotations of 1800, as compared with the 20 years preceding, viz.:—carpenters from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 2d. per day; bricklayers from 2s. 4d. to 3s. per day; masons from 2s. 8d. to 2s. 10d. per day; plumbers from 3s. to 3s. 3d. per day. He believed that the present measure, like many other measures that had been brought forward, was overrated on both sides as respected its consequences. He, for one, did not believe that it was to make bread wonderfully cheap, or that it would materially depress domestic agriculture. As in the case of all great changes, some inconveniences must probably at first result; but he conceived that the measure would ultimately tend to increase the comfort, promote the happiness, and advance the prosperity of the great mass of the inhabitants of this mighty kingdom, and that it would contribute very much, coupled with the resources of modern science, to stimulate and foster agriculture. He believed that there existed in this country a spirit, energy, and activity, that would in future make it as superior to the rest of the world in agriculture and manufactures as it hitherto had been; and that the native zeal and enterprise of Englishmen would advance the science of agriculture to greater perfection than ever. But while he supported this measure, and intended to record his vote in favour of the third reading, he might be allowed to express a hope that those other measures which were alluded to at the commencement of the Session, and which were, he would not say to compensate, but to be of great utility to the agricultural interest, would be brought forward at as early a period as possible. Though he did not think that the agricultural interest required protection, yet he felt that it was their bounden duty to look at it with a kindly feeling, and to extend towards it every aid and assistance in their power. There was one circumstance worthy of attention with respect to the sale and transfer of property. That champion of protection, Mr. Alison, in his work on Population, pointed out the difficulty in the sale of estates, and the transfer of property, and the great advantage which would result if measures were taken to remove this inconvenience. As regards Ireland, there would be few circumstances more advantageous than the removal of such inconvenience, coupled with the extension of the tenant right, due regard being paid to the rights of property, which ought always to be held sacred. He would not now enter into further details on the subject; but he would add he should grieve, as much as the bitterest opponents of this measure, at its passing, if he thought that it could, in the remotest degree, tend to injure the agricultural interest, or the aristocracy, whose prosperity was identified with that of the nation at large. The aristocracy were eminent for the zeal they had displayed in behalf of the liberties of the country; and who could fail to respect and reverence their manly sentiment, their heroic spirit, and their sensibility of principle, in which, as Mr. Burke justly observed, consisted the cheap defence of nations? He should then much grieve if his vote to-night should shake the stability of this aristocracy, whose fate he believed to be inseparably connected with that of the country, which was deeply rooted in the affections of the people, and embodied in the institutions of the country. He thought the manner in which the present discussion had been conducted reflected the highest credit on the Legislature of this country, however great the difference of opinion respecting its policy might be. He was not unaware that great constitutional questions sprang out of it. The evil arising from the breaking up of a great party had been touched on; and though he might hold that that was but a temporary disruption, he would yet allow that in this country it was a great evil. In a constitutional point of view he would rather that this measure had been brought forward by the noble Lord the Member for London; and he for his part, would then have supported it as warmly as he now did when brought forward by the right hon. Baronet. He supported it not merely from a feeling of confidence in this or that Minister, but reflection on the nature of the question had induced him to come to the conclusion at which he had arrived. And with respect to the future state of parties in this country, he trusted that with most of those who valued the real interests of the country, it was immaterial what party ruled the State. It was, as Mr. Pitt truly said, in one of his earliest and best speeches, of very little consequence who were "out," or who were "in;" but it was of great consequence that the affairs of this country should be conducted with wisdom, prudence, and firmness. He, therefore, trusted that whatever might be the fate of this measure, there still might be found a Government powerful and strong; able to uphold the interests of the country at home, to enforce them abroad, and determined, amid whatever storms and tempests might rage, to maintain the majesty, the dignity, and the greatness of England.


said, that he knew that in the agricultural district with which he was connected, whenever corn was not prosperous, then the districts invariably suffered and declined, both as regarded the manufacturers and agriculturists. In his part of the country there was the greatest fear and apprehension, and in fact a great panic existing, as to the present measures of the Government; and on no occasion before had he ever found such unanimity of sentiment amongst all classes, and of different politics, in thinking that that principle of protection to native industry ought to be upheld. He had had the honour of presenting petitions from fifty to sixty townships in his own neighbourhood, and from the borough which he represented, signed by persons of all classes, praying the House not to pass these measures, and he now rose for the purpose of vindicating the opinions therein expressed. Whatever alteration had taken place in the sentiments and opinions of those holding high offices in the Government of this country, it did not follow that even so humble an individual as himself should also consent to change his opinions upon this question, as they had changed, with a view of following in their train. He could not consent to alter those sentiments and opinions which he had entertained up to this period of his life at the beck of any individual. He wished to know what would be the price of corn if the Bill before the House passed into law? On that point the Minister had given them no information? He objected to the Bill because it would increase the dependence of this country upon foreign nations. He objected to it also because it had been introduced by the men now in office. If he had any predilection in its favour even, he would not give it his support, because he was of opinion that it should not be brought forward in a Parliament which had been elected upon an entirely hostile principle. He, for one, did not admit that it was a measure which would produce good fruit. Fruit it might produce, no doubt—apparently good at the outset; but the House might depend upon it that the prices would soon rise to the famine figure. And if there was good in it, there would be no hope of its extinction until all the small farmers of England would have been ruined. Corn would get into the hands of the factors, who would accumulate it for the purpose of obtaining the highest possible price; and thus the public would not be benefited in the slightest degree, while the agriculturists would be destroyed. With respect to the price of potatoes, on which so much had been said, as far as his knowledge went, the alarm that existed on that head was entirely groundless. In Yorkshire, he had never paid more than 2s. the bushel for them, whereas, in London, he was now charged 15s. per sack. And when potatoes were sent upon speculation from Yorkshire to London, no one could be found to purchase them, because of the monopoly which existed among the large salesmen. He was not prepared, therefore, to support Her Majesty's Ministers on this occasion. He had no confidence in them. He had no faith in the stability either of their opinions or their policy; and he candidly stated that, if agitation were suffered to continue at the rate it had been in Ireland, he should not be surprised to find the right hon. Baronet come down one day to that House and propose a repeal of the legislative Union.


said, he should not detain them long. He was fully aware that hon. Members felt a satiety, if not sickness, at the prolongation of this discussion. Only one valuable result had ensued from this discussion, that whereas on former occasions the two great interests of agriculture and manufactures had been arrayed against each other—the agriculturists reproaching the manufacturers as having for their only object to depress wages and raise their own profits, the manufacturers upbraiding the agriculturists with a wish to keep up prices and raise rents — now, on the contrary, whatever acrimony might have been exhibited in the course of the discussion, had been diverted into the more legitimate, and he might say constitutional, channel of abusing Gentlemen in office. The absence of those divisions on the present occasion he was inclined to attribute to the course pursued by the hon. Members favourable to a repeal of the Corn Laws, who had abstained from addressing the House, and from delivering those attacks they had formerly directed against the agricultural interest. He was far from regarding this measure, with the hon. Member for Sunderland, as the wildest and maddest of all conceivable speculations; but it was impossible not to see that in any measure like this, there must be some speculation and some inconvenience. Although it seemed now to be the prevalent doctrine on that (the Opposition) side of the House, that the most manly course to be adopted was to change one's opinion, and defend the change, he could say that his own opinion had always been in favour of a change in the Corn Laws. He should not on this occasion, enter into any statistical details; he should support his vote on those general reasons on which, after all, a measure of this kind must be rested. He did not believe that any country in the world would be found capable of supplying this nation with its chief article of food; all the elements that produced a rise in prices would combine to raise the price of foreign corn to us, and therefore to save the agricultural interest from injury. As little could he think that a country like ours would not be able to improve its agriculture—an art yet in its infancy. In that art practice had hitherto preceded science; but science was now about to take the lead of practice, and point out the methods which the husbandman should follow. His only reason for addressing the House on the present occasion was, that he wished to point out one or two features of the measure which he considered objectionable, and would prefer to see changed. He regarded the position of the hon. Member for Newcastle under Lyne as a very good one—that they should look on the one hand to the arguments by which this measure was supported, and on the other hand to the political evils by which it might be attended. If any speculation or hazard attached to this measure, the hazard would fall on those persons who were now in the occupation of the poorest possible land, subject to the highest possible rent; land which, he contended, ought never to have been cultivated, and which never would have been cultivated, but for the protection which our laws had for years afforded it. There were other persons who might say, "You have always told us that we had nothing to fear from competition, and therefore that we might be as lazy and unskilful as we pleased;" and they might reproach the Legislature with having cut off their security. He was of opinion that this difficulty might have been met by an arrangement of the laws affecting the agriculturists, had such been undertaken by Her Majesty's Ministers. Besides the Corn Laws, there was another set of Acts which had been brought by the negligence of the Legislature into such a state as pressed most unfairly on the agricultural interest—he meant the Acts which referred to local rating. He thought that, simultaneously with the repeal of the Corn Laws, Ministers might have introduced some measure which would relieve the agricultural interest from a considerable portion of the local taxation. They had introduced a measure which they said was not intended as a compensation for the repeal of the Corn Laws; but if it were not so intended, it was rather strange that it should have been introduced at the same moment. This he considered quite incompetent for what, but for the denial, he must have supposed to be the purpose of Her Majesty's Ministers; and he should still urge on Ministers to consider the question of compensation, and to embrace the whole question of rating in their view, in order to see where the agricultural interest were most heavily pressed; for that they were pressed to a certain extent, he thought could not be denied. Every year there was an Act passed to relieve stock in trade from being rated to those purposes for which land was rated. Why was this done? Not, it was said, because stock in trade was an improper subject of rating in itself; but on account of the extremely embarrassing nature of the attempt, and the difficulties which attended the levy. Now, if they did not think it expedient to levy a rate on stock in trade, it was surely unfair to the agriculturists to increase in the same proportion the amount levied from them, and subject them to an additional burden. That Act was first passed when a judgment was given in favour of rating stock in trade; and he thought, therefore, the agricultural interest had so far just ground to complain of the way in which they were treated. Whether this were or were not a sufficient argument to induce Ministers to undertake this subject, he thought it a question still worthy of their consideration, and one so coupled with the present state of the agricultural interest, that there could be no more fitting opportunity than the present for bringing it forward. Another point to which he wished to advert, though it was rather unfashionable in the House, was the question of a low duty on corn. In throwing aside that question entirely, the right hon. Baronet had surprised him more than by any other course he could have pursued, because if there were any basis on which the right hon. Baronet's fame rested, it was his financial skill. He thought it strange, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet should have been content to surrender the revenue he might have derived from that plan. He felt himself obliged to conclude, in spite of all that could be said by hon. Gentlemen around him, that if Government had thought fit to ask, in the first instance, a low fixed duty, they would have been able to carry that measure, and to raise a revenue on as favourable terms as it could be raised in this country. He could not but believe that a low fixed duty would have been paid entirely by the foreigner, and not by the consumer; and if so, no Ministers had made a greater sacrifice than the present in refusing to avail themselves of this source of revenue. The course taken in 1842 was to alter the sliding-scale; and that being so, he considered the only alternative offered to him was between a sliding-scale and entire abolition. He had, therefore, voted for the Motion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; but at the same time he thought, and he should not hesitate to maintain, that the right hon. Baronet had abandoned a considerable amount of revenue, in throwing aside altogether the question of a low fixed duty. He most sincerely hoped that the measure might attain complete success; but he must say that the right hon. Gentleman himself had brought it into a position of great difficulty, by alleging in its behalf pretences which he could not think well founded. Of all times and periods in the recent history of our affairs, the right hon. Gentleman ought to have chosen for proposing his measure one of the utmost prosperity. He must contend, having always been an advocate for repeal, that that time had arrived in the summer of 1845. Never, in his opinion, had there been a season of so great prosperity, both for trade, agriculture, and manufactures, as was then exhibited in this country. But the right hon. Baronet chose instead the autumn, and accompanied his proposal with a very different statement from that by which it ought to have been prefaced. The right hon. Baronet placed his measure on the ground of foreseeing a famine, when he ought rather to have brought it forward in a season of abundance and prosperity, thus taking a course in the highest degree dangerous to the future authority of their legislation; because, in avowing himself to be driven and hurried into it to escape from an emergency, the right hon. Baronet had not shown it to be the result of reason, but had held it up to the country as the result of risk, peril, and danger. And now he was afraid that if the right hon. Baronet succeeded, the success would appear to be owing to those incentives of which he ought never to have availed himself; and that if failure should ensue, as he trusted it would not, it would appear to be owing to the legitimate exercise of the constitutional privileges of a branch of the Legislature which he, for one, would be sorry to see exerted.


Sir, the Secretary of State, in the speech he made on the first night of this discussion, reminded Gentlemen sitting on these benches, and professing opinions favourable to the protection of the industry of their country, that in the various and prolonged discussions which, during late years have occurred with regard to great commercial changes, they have, nevertheless, found it necessary to abandon many of the opinions they professed, and to give up many of those dogmas which they previously upheld. Sir, I acknowledge the fact. I believe that to be the necessary result of all discussion; nor can I understand the use of public discussion at all, if it be not correct erroneous impressions; or if at the conclusion both parties are to take refuge in the cry, that they have not changed a single opinion which they held before the question came under debate. Sir, I do not claim for myself—and I think I may venture to say none of my Friends around me claim—an infallibility in argument. We listen with attention and respect to every argument brought against the opinions which we advocate; and if we find that any argument thus advanced cannot be satisfactorily answered, we feel the necessity of no longer maintaining an opposite and untenable conclusion. But if this rule applies to our party, I think I could without difficulty show to the Secretary of State that it is a quality not peculiar to us. I rather imagine that some opinions loudly advocated and long ably maintained by hon. Gentlemen opposite—I still address myself to hon. Gentlemen opposite, for, though this discussion was commenced by Her Majesty's Government, I always remember who were really the originators of the ideas — I say I think that some of the opinions formerly advocated by hon. Gentlemen opposite are now no longer upheld, and are therefore to be placed in that category of abandonment to which the Secretary of State referred. I might begin with cheap bread. We heard a Minister of the Crown, a Member of the Cabinet, even in this year, in this important Session, when all the opinions of Her Majesty's Government must doubtless be so well matured and so well considered with all the advantage of four Cabinet meetings in a week—we heard a Member of Her Majesty's Government announce that the clap-trap cry of cheap bread was given up by all parties. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to hold it, as his noble Colleague the Secretary for Ireland did a few years back, as the "fugitive cry of a dying faction." Even the hon. Member for Stockport, the highest authority on this point, announced that the cry of cheap bread had never been his. Well, then, that is one great opinion abandoned. We shall presently find that there are others in the same predicament. I believe it is no longer maintained that our Corn Laws are productive of extraordinary fluctuations in the price of corn. And yet that was an opinion which was once very industriously disseminated in the country: one perpetually introduced into the discussions of this House; and which has unquestionably influenced the existing public opinion on the main question. Yet I believe it is now admitted that the tendency neither of the present, nor even of the late Corn Laws, has been to produce extraordinary fluctuations in price. Well, that is another great opinion that has been abandoned. Then we were told that these same Corn Laws were the bane of agriculture. That opinion is certainly given up. We have shown you—and you have admitted the facts—from the evidence of the best authorities, the most intelligent valuers under the Tithe Commutation Act, and the most skilful land agents in the country—we have shown you that in England the average produce of an acre is twenty-eight bushels of wheat. We know by a report prepared by a public commissioner, that the average produce per acre in Russia is sixteen bushels; while we have evidence that the average amount in France is fifteen bushels. But I have got a document here which is very much at the service of hon. Members opposite. It is the Report in 1845 of the Agricultural Society of New York, giving the average produce of sixty-nine counties in that State, and it appears from this report that the average produce of wheat per acre in the United States is fourteen bushels. Does it then appear from these figures that protection is indeed the bane of agriculture? These statements show that England produces more corn per acre in a great degree than any other country. This, then, is a third opinion that has been abandoned. Again, there is another opinion which has been put forward with much pertinacity. It has been long loudly and diligently asserted that the population in this country increases in a greater ratio than its production. That opinion has been given up. You came down to the House and told us always that the population was increasing a thousand a day, or 365,000 a year, and after your fashion you assumed the country could not feed the people. We have shown you, or rather you have shown us, for it has been one of the circumstances adduced by the Minister in favour of his measure, that the price of wheat for years has regularly declined. If we divide the current century into three equal portions of fifteen years each, you will find the price of wheat lowest in the last division, so that while the population has been increasing in the ratio you allege, the means of production have been increasing in a still greater ratio; the population has been increasing in this degree, and at the same time the price of the necessaries of life has been decreasing. There is another dogma which has also much influenced public opinion; and that is, that our Corn Laws have produced hostile tariffs. This opinion also is I believe, now abandoned: every day's experience assures us, whatever may be the policy of the Government of this country, that continental nations and manufacturing countries are not to be influenced by it. But, according to the new school of philosophy, we need not dwell on this; it does not signify whether other nations are influenced by our liberal policy or not; we are quite independent of all such considerations. There is yet another opinion which I have observed frequently advanced in speeches out of this House; and speeches out of this House, be it remembered, have had much influence on conduct within it. It has been often urged at public meetings by the hon. Member for Stockport, whose speeches I always read with attention, that the amount of freight alone would be a sufficient protection to land. The hon. Member has been in the habit of assuring his audience that the average rate of freight was 10s. 6d. per quarter of corn, and that to this extent a protection was afforded to agriculture. I believe hon. Gentlemen have even made the same declaration in this House; and I believe had it been made in this House a year ago, we should all of us have believed it. Now, I doubt whether there is any freight that amounts to 10s. 6d. I doubt whether at present we pay 10s. 6d. per quarter even from Odessa. But generally speaking it is now universally admitted, that freight is no protection at all, for it is just as expensive to transport a quarter of corn from one English port to another, as to bring it from any of the contiguous foreign ports from which your chief supply is anticipated. I will say one word on a topic which I have already touched upon lightly, because I heard a cheer from an hon. Member opposite when I mentioned that the tendency of the present Corn Laws was not to produce great fluctuations in price. I do not mention these topics merely in retort to the Secretary of State, but because I think it not an inconvenient mode to clear the course of all collateral topics before I address myself to the main question. We maintain, then, with regard to the present and even the late Corn Laws, that they have not produced extraordinary fluctuation in price; on the contrary, we maintain that the fluctuation of price in England has been less than in any other country in the world. I will establish this fact on data that are incontrovertible. Understand I lay this down as a fact, that every country, rich or poor, in Europe or America, has in respect of the important necessary of life, grain, been subject to much greater fluctuation in price than England. Mr. Secretary Gladstone recently moved for an important return—a return which I observe is never alluded to by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is a return, from 1834 to 1840 inclusive, of the highest and lowest weekly prices of wheat per imperial quarter in most of the principal capitals of the United States. Now, I take one of these capitals, Philadelphia, because the peculiar circumstances of that capital tell the least for my argument. Philadelphia is the capital of one of the wealthiest and most populous States of the American Union; and it has this peculiarity—that it is a State that does not commonly produce sufficient corn for the supply of its inhabitants. It should be observed that little or no corn or flour was imported from America into England during the first five years of this period, and that the importation in 1839 and 1840 tended to raise the low prices of those years, and so to diminish the extreme limits of their fluctuation. Philadelphia, too, is a great mart of commerce, communicating freely with every region of the world, and its corn trade is free, being subject only to a moderate fixed duty; a moderate fixed duty of 8s. 8d. per quarter. Now, Sir, what are the facts? It appears by this return of Mr. Secretary Gladstone, that the average annual difference between the highest and lowest prices of wheat in Philadelphia is 47 per cent, while during the corresponding period in England it was only 33 per cent; and while the extreme difference between the highest and lowest prices of wheat in this septennial period was 270 per cent in Philadelphia, it was only 227 in England. And yet no septennial period could have been chosen which would have exhibited, under the operation of the Corn Laws, such extensive fluctuation of prices. It may be objected to this return that it only gives the extreme weekly prices of wheat, and it may be possible that local and peculiar causes may have had an effect on those prices. Well, then, here is a return of the average annual prices of wheat in Philadelphia from 1830 to 1838 inclusive; and I find the difference between the highest and lowest price of wheat at Philadelphia to be 121 per cent, while the corresponding difference during the same period in England is only 69 per cent. The returns from every considerable port and corn market in Europe have been analysed, and the result I find to be of exactly the same character. But it will be urged that the prices of corn abroad are disturbed by the action of our Corn Laws, and that we cannot form a correct idea of the price of grain when trade flows in its natural course. But this will not impair our argument. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn has anticipated this objection; and he says, "I will take rye, because that is the food of the continental people, and cannot be influenced by our Corn Laws, and I will show you equal fluctuations in the price of rye." Now, Sir, I also have a return of the prices of rye at Warsaw and at Dantzic. We have been told to-night that Dantzic is in favour of a fluctuating scale; but that at Warsaw they are devoted to free trade. Yet the difference in the annual price of rye during the years from 1834 to 1839, in the market at Warsaw, sometimes amounted to 149 per cent, whereas in Dantzic the difference was only 65 per cent. In all the great Prussian markets the difference during the same period between the annual prices of rye was 100 per cent. I think, therefore, we may fairly conclude that the objection urged against the system of graduated protection, with regard to its producing fluctuation in prices, is no longer an argument for this House. But I must remind the House that the instances which I have adduced, and the inferences which I have drawn from these instances, are under the influence of the late law—a law much more tending to fluctuation than the present. The scale of the late law was originally well devised. It was planned by Mr. Canning, but altered for the worse; let it always be remembered, altered for the worse by the present First Minister. If I had taken the experience of the present scale, the result would have been still more favourable; but the result being favourable enough, I am content with the former scale. It seems, therefore that some arguments have been abandoned by hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as by us. It is possible that both sides may have abandoned many important opinions without losing faith in the principles on which their respective systems are upheld. But I defy Gentlemen opposite who have had for years such free warren of sarcasm against the advocates of protection, to bring forward a catalogue of renounced opinions on the subject which can compete with the one I have sketched, and yet left imperfect, before the House. What then are we to do with these opinions, these exhausted arguments, these exploded fallacies? Our great poet conceived the existence of a limbo for exploded systems and the phantasies of the schools. I think we ought to invent a limbo for political economists, where we might hang up all those arguments that have served their purpose, and which have turned out to be sophistries. Yes; but these are the arguments that have agitated a nation, and have converted a Ministry. It is all very well to say, after six or seven years' discussion, "We have discovered them to be false, and there is not a single Gentleman opposite prepared to maintain them;" but these are the agencies by which a certain amount of public opinion has been brought to bear on great economical questions; that public opinion has changed the policy of a Government, and, according to our belief, is perilling the destinies of a great people. Now, Sir, I must fairly acknowledge that one of these fallacies must be resuscitated by myself. Notwithstanding the high authority of the Secretary at War—notwithstanding the influential adhesion to his opinion of the still higher authority of the Member for Stockport, I must raise on this occasion the cry of "cheap bread." I do believe the effect of the present Corn Laws is to raise the price of the necessaries of life to the community. That is my opinion. But I believe, and I think I can show, that they increase in an infinitely greater ratio the purchasing powers by the community of the necessaries of life. I hope I am meeting the argument fairly. The Secretary of State did me the honour to say that I had, on another occasion, fairly expressed the question at issue, and I wish strictly to address myself to it. Now, how am I to prove my proposition? The first witness I shall call is a high authority. It is a work circulated under the immediate influence of that great commercial confederation, the power of which is acknowledged—written, I believe, by a gentleman who was once a Member of this House, and I believe I may add, who would have been a Member of this House now if I had not had the pleasure of beating him in the first election I won—Colonel Thompson. In his Corn Law Catechism it is maintained that the Corn Law is a tax upon the community, because, assuming a certain number of quarters of corn are produced every year in this country, say, for instance, fifty millions of quarters, the Corn Law, by artificially raising the price of that corn 8s. or 10s. per quarter on an average, acts as a tax on the community, we will say, of 20,000,000l. Another economist, an equally celebrated and more successful free trader, has fallen foul of the calculations of this work, which is a great authority with the Anti-Corn-Law League, and he has shown the gallant calculator that he has omitted to deduct the number of quarters that are required for seed, for the sustenance of the agriculturists themselves, for the support of their horses, and so at once the critic cuts down the estimate of the Colonel to a tax of nine or ten millions on the public. But I will give, as is my custom, an advantage to my opponents, and take the first calculation. The conclusion of the Colonel, and of the school of which he is so distinguished a champion, is, that it is better for England not to raise a single quarter of corn, and then the whole of this tax might thus be saved. You will say this is an extreme statement; but the statement is not mine, and an extreme case tests the truth of a principle. Let us suppose, then, that England imports 50,000,000 of quarters of corn—let us suppose that she thus saves ten or twenty millions of taxation. We will admit it for the purpose of discussion. But you cannot deny that England has lost the wages of labour that would have produced those fifty millions of quarters; you cannot deny that England has lost the profits of the capital that would have been invested in the production of those fifty millions of quarters; you cannot deny that England has lost the rent that this cultivation would have afforded after paying these wages of labour, and furnishing these profits of capital. What is their united amount? It would be a light estimate to place it at twenty times that of the imaginary tax. In the proportion that united amount bears to the assumed tax, the purchasing power of the community created by the law exceeds the tax on the community alleged to be occasioned by the law. I am ready to acknowledge that the hon. Member for Stockport never addressed any public assembly with these opinions. He is a practical man—he knows very well there is no chance of changing the laws of England with abstract doctrines, and he says very properly, "I don't admit your conclusion—we don't suppose any land will be thrown out of cultivation. There may be a reduction of price or not; but what we say is, you are creating that artificial price for the first necessaries of life in the country, and you are creating that artificial price for the benefit of a class; and, therefore, the reduction of price is, at the worst, the destruction of rent." That is the position he takes up. Now, for my own part, I will admit that I see no difference between a territorial class and the handloom weavers. If you show me that there is a law kept up merely to give a revenue to any class in this country, and that by putting an end to that law the great body of the people can be fed better and as well employed, I cannot imagine anything like a Corn Law can be maintained. Well, then, we are brought to the gist of the question. Will this change occasion a great displacement of labour? And if so, can you supply new employment for those who are displaced? It seems to me, Sir, impossible to arrive at any conclusion on this head, unless we form some estimate of the probable price of corn in this country after the measures of the Ministers have fairly come into play. It is in vain to make this inquiry of the right hon. Gentleman, and therefore we must be thrown on our elements of calculation. If we can show to you that for the future the price of corn must necessarily be such as to render it impossible in the greater part of this country to cultivate wheat or other grain with a profit, you must acknowledge there will be a great displacement of labour. We will endeavour to meet you with facts, and protest against your answering us with assumptions. I will not trouble the House by referring to those countries whose names have been so long familiar in these debates. If I allude to them, it is only because I do not wish the House to suppose that I depreciate the productive power of those countries. My hon Friend the Member for Somersetshire said, that the surplus produce of Russia was 28,000,000 quarters of corn, whereupon the Secretary of State rose to express his incredulity amid the sympathizing derision of Gentlemen opposite. Why, Sir, the authority for that statement is the officer of the Government, the functionary who is employed by you to analyse the tariffs and resources of foreign countries; and probably the Secretary of State is the Minister who laid his Report on the Table of the House. The authority is Mr. M'Gregor. I allude to it in passing, not that I value the authority of Mr. M'Gregor a rush; but it is right that it should be known that the statement of my hon. Friend was derived from your own blue books, and prepared by one of your own officers. What is the object of publishing these blue books, except to furnish us with the elements of opinion? I will not, however, enter into the empire of all the Russias; I know that it contains about seventy principalities—that more than one of them has an area greater than the United Kingdom—and that every one produces corn. I cannot forget the rich valley of the Wolga, or the exuberant plains of the Ukraine. I wont take you to the valley of the Mississippi, though I have a statement here made by a high authority on this subject, who declares that its produce may be indefinitely extended, and that its wheat can be supplied, with a high estimate for freight, in London at 30s. per quarter. But what I wish to bring before the notice of the House are the markets that are never mentioned, but which, I believe, will exercise a great influence on the price of corn. There is one market which has never been mentioned in the course of these discussions, and that is Hungary. Hungary is a plain which consists of 36,000 English square miles. It is the richest soil in the world—the soil of a garden, varying in depth from one foot to seven feet. You may go hundreds of miles together and not find a stone in it. If you deduct one-third of that area for morasses, there are 24,000 square miles of the most fertile soil in the world, under the influence of a climate admirably adapted to the growth of corn. I have had a return sent to me of the production of one province in 1844, 12,000,000 bushels; in Croatia the produce was 1,500,000 quarters. Yet thousands upon thousands of acres are uncultivated. But, hon. Gentlemen will say, how are we to get this corn from Hungary? That is what I am going to tell you. Here is a letter from the greatest corn merchant in Hungary. He lives at Sissek on the Saave, the great depôt of the corn trade of that country. I will not give you the prices of this year, which is a year of scarcity, but I will give you the average of the last five years. An English quarter of Hungarian wheat, which, it should be remembered, ranks with the highest classes of Dantzic wheats, costs in English money from 18s. to 20s. per quarter. It is sent from Sissek by the river Kulpa to Carlstadt for 4d. per quarter, and from Carlstadt by land to Fiume for 1s. 8d. per quarter. The person who gives me this information is a practical man. He says, "Only give me a regular trade with England, and I will send you from Sissek 500,000 quarters in the first year." I will soon show you what is the effect of a steady market on increased supply and decreased price. I will take another market—a very interesting one—that of the Danubian provices. In the year 1842, at the two ports of the Danube, Galatz, and Ibrail, there were 1,350 ships laden with the produce of those countries, and only eight of them were English. That is a remarkable fact. We are the greatest commercial country in the world; and yet in an active scene of commerce, where an almost absolute freedom of trade is enjoyed, it appears by a return dated since the accession of the present Government to office, that out of 1,350 merchant ships laden in the two ports of the Danube, only eight were English. A house at Galatz has written to a house in England on the subject of supplying this country with corn, and the writer says— I will undertake to lay down, if secured a price of 18s. per quarter, in any English port, 200,000 quarters of wheat, from this particular district, at 28s to 30s., but if you will secure me a certain market I will double that quantity next year. From the same place another house asserts that if you will ensure a regular trade they can supply 1,000,000 quarters of wheat, at 18s. per quarter; and if this measure passes, they undertake, at the end of seven years, that that quantity shall be doubled and sent to England at a reduced price. I speak of mercantile letters, and can give hon. Gentlemen opposite the names of the firms. I feel I must not dwell too long on this point; but yet, under the head of unenumerated markets, which have not been the subject of discussion in the House, I may mention Spain—which will act greatly on this country—Egypt, and Sicily. Each of these countries, when the new measures are fairly in play, will be able, I believe, to furnish this country with as much corn as they have required in years of deficiency. My opinion is, that in exact proportion as your demand for wheat, and for various kinds of grain increases, in the same proportion the price will diminish. I believe it may be laid down as a principle of commerce, that where an article can be progressively produced to an indefinite extent, precisely as the demand increases the price will decrease. I am aware that that is exactly contrary to the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to the opinion of the Government. We have had it announced from the hustings, that exactly as you import a million of quarters of wheat from continental markets, prices abroad will rise 10s. per quarter. That which was announced by a great authority is only the echo of the Manchester school, and has been accepted by the Government. The hon. Member for Montrose stated the other night, that the result of these contemplated changes was only to equalize prices—we shall equalize prices by the demand, but we shall not lower prices. The gist of the question is the accuracy of this opinion. Is it true? The question whether England can maintain her character as an agricultural country — the question whether her people can be employed as they have been—the question whether there will be a great displacement of labour, depends upon the accuracy of this opinion. I referred on a former occasion to the instance of tea. I said in that case that an increased demand had decreased the price. That intimation was received rather incredulously. It was not met by any argument or decided fact; but subsequently it was contradicted, and in a very unsatisfactory manner. I will now show the House how far I was justified in that statement. I wrote to a mercantile house which is more largely connected with the China trade than any other house in the country. I placed before them the assertion I had made, and the reply it had met. What was the answer I received? Here it is:— I hand you enclosed the prices per lb. of sound commmon congou tea, which is the kind most consumed in this country, from which you will be able to observe that there has been a great fall in the price since the year 1831. What, then, was that fall in price per lb. of congou tea—the sort most consumed in this country? In the year 1831 congou tea was 2s. 2d. per lb.; in the year 1846 it is 9d. per lb. I know very well that the price of tea in 1831 was, to a certain degree, artificial. The mercantile influence of the East India Company still prevailed, and the supply was limited. But that influence was not greater than that of the China war, and, it will be observed, those disturbances only affected the market for a couple of years. In 1832, tea was 2s.d.; in 1833, 1s. 11d.; 1834, 1s.d.; 1835, 1s. 4d.; 1836, 1s. 1d.; 1837, 1s. 7d.; 1838, 1s. 2d. And then we come to the disorders in China, which had the effect of raising the price in 1839 to 2s. 5d.; it then fell in 1842 to 1s.d.; 1843, to 11d.; 1844, to 10d.; in 1845, to 9½d.; until, in 1846, we find it reduced to 9d. per lb.; and all this time the import of tea from that country, which, from its being solely produced there, enjoys a quasi monopoly, was increasing by millions of pounds. And then, Sir, I am told that by the last accounts from Canton the price of tea is rising; and that is called an answer. Why, Sir, if by the last accounts from Canton the prices of tea had been falling, I should not have adduced that as an argument in favour of the principle I am upholding. The price of tea will fall, and will rise, according to the circumstance of the market; there must always be undulation in price. But the question is, what, if I may use the expression, is the gradient of price, what the inevitable and unmistakeable tendency of price during a series of years? The next instance I shall take is one which is more favourable to our case, but, at the same time, strictly legitimate. It is one which bears more analogy to corn—namely, cotton. The price of cotton, upland, per lb., in the year 1836 was 10⅛d.; in 1837, 8d.; 1838, 8¼d.; 1839, 6¾d.; 1840, 6⅛d.; 1841, 5⅝d.; 1842, 5¼d., 1843, 5⅛d.; 1844, 4⅛d.; and in 1845, from 4d. to 4¼d. per lb.; and in those ten years of progressive fall in price the import of cotton into England had risen from 350,000,000 lbs. to 597,000,000 lbs., while during the same period of a falling price other manufacturing countries, including the United States, had increased their consumption of that article from 282,000,000 lbs. to 439,000,000 lbs. It seems therefore to be demonstrable that where there is no natural or artificial cause to check the progress of production, price will proportionately fall. Now in the article I am about to refer to there are these causes in operation, and the whole state of the sugar trade is so anomalous, that I might fairly have omitted it from the application of the test. But it occurred to me that it might be tried with reference to the production of East India sugar since the duties were equalized. What is the result? At the end of the year 1841 the price of brown Bengal sugar was 47s. to 52s.; 1842, 45s. to 51s.; 1843, 47s. to 55s.; 1844. 39s. to 49s.; 1845, 38s. to 42s.; 1846, 37s. to 42s.; and with that falling price the amount imported increased from 24,000 tons in the first year to 62,000 tons in the last year. With respect to the finest kinds of the same sugar, the price fell from 69s. to 74s. down to 52s. to 56s. during the same period. Therefore the instance of sugar is in perfect harmony with the general and ruling principle I have laid down. The case of coffee I find to be still more satisfactory. I must apply my rule again to East India production in this case, owing to the anomalous state of our West India Colonies. Let us then take Ceylon coffee, and we shall find that the importation has greatly increased. The price of that article in 1840 was, per bag, 90s. to 91s.; in 1846 it fell to 44s.; and in the first year the quantity imported was 53,000 bags; in the last year 133,000 bags. Then take the case of Mysore coffee during the same time. In the first year the price was 70s. to 80s. per cask; in the last year 36s. to 48s. per cask; the quantity imported in the former year being 48,000 casks; in the latter 63,530. There are many other important articles which it would be wearisome to refer to in detail, but which I mention that Gentlemen may have an opportunity of investigating this important principle. Look at the instances of indigo, salt, iron, coal, and fruits, ever since the alteration of the law, and you will find this principle is invariably observed, universally demonstrated. Well, Sir, is it then unreasonable for me to ask what there is in corn to make it an exception to this general rule? I want that question to be answered. It is a fair question. Why, I repeat, is corn to be an exception to this rule? Is it because corn is produced in every country and under every clime? I want to know where it is you will not produce corn. We have had by late arrivals accounts of the price of wheat in Persia, where we find it is at present 5s. per quarter. True, you can't very easily import corn from Persia; but there are countries lying at each point of the compass from Persia where you may purchase corn at from 10s. to 20s. per quarter. The rest is an affair of the cost of transport, in an age when the principle of locomotion is bringing all articles to a level. Now, Sir, before I estimate the consequences of these proposed changes, I will first advert to the parallel which has been so often drawn between the importation of foreign corn and foreign cattle, in order to show how ill-founded may be our fears. It does not appear to me that there is much analogy between these two instances, which are always treated as the same. In the first place, continental countries have been corn-growing countries long before England became so. But they have never been to any extent cattle-feeding countries. The very fact of the prevalence in them of the Roman Catholic religion, which prevented the consumption of meat to the same extent as in Protestant countries, alone has discouraged it. Besides, the pastures of England have always, even in old days, been unrivalled. Nor should we forget the difficulty and danger of transport in the commerce of live stock. It appears, therefore, that the analogy between these cases is very imperfect. I say, then, assuming, as I have given you reason to assume, that the price of wheat, when this system is established, ranges in England at 35s. per quarter, and other grain in proportion, this is not a question of rent, but it is a question of displacing the labour of England that produces corn, in order, on an extensive and even universal scale, to permit the entrance into this country of foreign corn produced by foreign labour. Will that displaced labour find new employment? The Secretary of State says, that England is no longer an agricultural but a commercial and manufacturing country; and the right hon. Gentleman, when reminded by the noble Lord the Member for Gloucestershire, of his words, said, "No, I did not say that; but I said that England was no longer exclusively an agricultural country." Why, Sir, the commerce of England is not a creation of yesterday: it is more ancient than that of any other existing country. This is a novel assumption on the part of the Government to tell us that England has hitherto been a strictly agricultural country, and that now there is a change, and that it is passing into a commercial and manufacturing country. I doubt whether, in the first place, England is a greater commercial country now than she has been at other periods of her history. I do not mean to say that she has not now more commercial transactions, but that with reference to her population, and the population of the world, her commerce is not now greater than at other periods of her history; for example, when she had her great Levantine trade, when the riches of the world collected in the Mediterranean, when she had her great Turkey merchants, her flourishing Antilles, and her profitable, though in some degree surreptitious, trade with the Spanish main. But then it is also said that England has become a great manufacturing country. I believe, Sir, if you look to the general distribution of labour in England, you will find she may be less of a manufacturing country now than she has been. Well, I give you my argument; answer it if you can. I say, looking to the employment of the people, manufacturing industry was more scattered over the country a hundred years ago than it is now. Hon. Gentlemen have laid hold of a word uttered in the heat of speaking. I say manufacturing industry was more dispersed over the country then than now—there were more counties in which manufactures flourished then than at the present moment. For instance, in the west of England, manufactures were more flourishing, and your woollen manufacture bore a greater ratio in importance to the industrial skill of Europe 300 years ago than it does to the aggregate industry of Europe at the present moment. That manufacture might not have been absolutely more important; but as a development of the national industry, it bore a greater relative importance to the industry of Europe then than at the present moment. You had then considerable manufactures in various counties—manufactures a hundred years ago which are now obsolete, or but partially pursued. You have no doubt now a gigantic development of manufacturing skill in a particular county which is unprecedented. It is one of those developments which confer the greatest honour on this country, which has been a great source of public wealth, a development of which Englishmen should be justly proud. But, generally speaking, it is confined to one county; and now Ministers tells us we must change our whole system, because, forsooth, England has ceased to be an agricultural country, and has become a commercial and manufacturing one. That is to say, that we must change our whole system in favour of one particular county. Sir, that is an extremely dangerous principle to introduce. I have heard of a repeal of the Union, but we may live to hear of a revival of the Heptarchy, if Her Majesty's Ministers pursue this policy; if those portions of the country which are agricultural, or suffering under the remains of an old obsolete manufacturing population, are to be told that we must change our whole system because one county where there is a peculiar development of one branch of industry demands it. But what are the resources of this kind of industry to employ and support the people, supposing the great depression in agricultural produce occur which is feared—that this great revolution, as it has appropriately been called, takes place—that we cease to be an agricultural people—what are the resources that would furnish employment to two-thirds of the subverted agricultural population—in fact, from 3,500,000 to 4,000,000 of people? Assume that the workshop of the world principle is carried into effect—assume that the attempt is made to maintain your system, both financial and domestic, on the resources of the cotton trade—assume that, in spite of hostile tariffs, that already gigantic industry is doubled—a bold assumption, even if there be no further improvements in machinery, further reducing the necessity of manual labour—you would only find increased employment for 300,000 of your population. Perhaps mechanical invention may reduce the number half, and those only women and children. What must be the consequence? I think we have pretty good grounds for anticipating social misery and political disaster. But, then, I am told, immense things are to be done for the agriculturist by the application of capital and skill. Let us test the soundness of this doctrine. When a man lends his capital, he looks to the security he is to have, and to what is to pay the interest. Is the complexion of these measures such as to render men more ready to lend money on landed estates? The mortgagee, when he advances money on land, looks to the margin in the shape of rent for his security. Will any man rise and maintain that the tendency of these measures is to increase that margin? But you are not only diminishing the opportunity of obtaining loans upon your own estates, but you are creating for capital an investment which will be more profitable for it in the estates of the foreigner. Look at the relations in which you will place the foreign merchant with his London correspondent. He has no longer to fear the capricious effects of the sliding-scale: he has got a certain market; he goes to his London banker with an increased security for an advance; he obtains his loan with ease; he makes his advances to the country dealers on the Continent as he makes his advance of English capital now in the foreign wool trade, before the clip and the great fairs; and thus, while you diminish the security of the landed proprietor, you are offering to the English capitalist a better and securer investment. But then you tell us of the aid to be had by the agriculturist from skill. It is not easy to argue on a phrase so indefinite as skill; but I think I can show you that the English agriculturist is far more advanced, in respect to skill, than even the English manufacturer. I dont't mean to say that there are not English farmers who might cultivate their lands better and with more economy than they do; but the same may surely be said, in their respective pursuits, of many a manufacturer and many a miner; but what I mean to say is, that an English farmer produces more effectively and wastes less—is more industrious and more intelligent than the manufacturer. I will prove this by the evidence of a member of the Anti-Corn-Law League—Mr. Greg. Mr. Greg says, that the competition is so severe that he almost doubts the possibility of the English manufacturer long maintaining that competition with the Continental or American manufacturer, who approach them nearer every day in the completeness of their fabrics and the economy of their productions. But no such thing can be said of the English agriculturist, who, I have shown you, can produce much more per bushel than the French, Russian, or American agriculturist. So much, then, for the argument with respect to skill. There is one argument, or rather appeal, which I know has influenced opinion out of this House, and also within it. You bring before us the condition of the English peasant. It is too often a miserable condition. My hon. Friend the Member for Shaftesbury has gained, and deserves, great credit for investigating the condition of the Dorsetshire labourer. He has introduced it into this discussion. Now, the condition of the Dorsetshire labourer is one of the reasons which induce me to support this law. It is very easy to say that the condition of the agricultural labourer, when compared with the general state of our civilization, is a miserable and depressed one, and that protection has produced it. If I cannot offer you reasons which may induce you to believe that protection has had nothing to do with it, I shall be perfectly ready to go to-night into the same lobby with Her Majesty's Ministers. I asked you the other night, if protection has produced the Dorsetshire labourer at 7s. per week, how is it that protection has produced the Lincolnshire labourer with double that sum? I do not say that is an argument. It is a suggestive question, which I will endeavour to follow up. Mr. Huskisson made an observation, in conversation with an acquaintance of mine, which has always struck me very forcibly. When Mr. Huskisson first settled in Sussex, his attention was naturally drawn to the extraordinary state of pauperism in that county; and after giving the subject all the meditation of his acute mind, he said that he traced it to the fact, that Sussex had formerly been the seat of a great iron trade, and that agriculture had never been able to absorb the manufacturing population. Now, apply that principle to the western counties, and don't you think it will throw some light upon their condition? They also have been the seats of manufactures—many of them obsolete, and many of them now only partially pursued. There, too, you will find that the manufacturing population has never been absorbed by the agricultural—that is, agriculture does not bear its ratio in its means of support to the amount of the population which it has to sustain, but which it did not create. And now go to Lincolnshire. I will rest our case on Lincolnshire. It is a new county; it is a protected county. Lincolnshire is to agriculture what Lancashire is to manufactures. The population there is produced by land and supported by land, in the same manner that the population of Lancashire has been produced and is supported by manufactures. Let us picture to ourselves for a moment that celebrated tower that looks over that city, which my gallant Friend and his ancestors have represented since the time of the last Stuart. Let us picture him for a moment placing the archfiend of political economy in that befitting niche, and calling his attention to the surrounding landscape. To the north, extending to the Humber, an endless tract of wolds, rescued from the rabbits, once covered with furse and whins, and now with exuberant crops of grain: to the south, stretching for miles, is what was once Lincoln Heath, where in the memory of living men there used to be a lighthouse for the traveller, and which, even in the recollection of the middle-aged, was let to the warrener at 2s. 6d. an acre, now one of the best-farmed and most productive corn districts in the kingdom. Then turning from the wolds and the heaths eastward, reaching to the sea, he might behold a region of fens, the small ones drained by the steam-engine, with the East and West and Wildmere Fens, once more than half of the year under water, now cleared by large canals, and bearing magnificent wheats and oats; with the great Witham and Black Sluice drainage districts, one extending over 60,000 and the other 90,000 acres, admirably reclaimed and drained, and bearing and creating and well sustaining a large and industrious and thriving population. And all under the faith of Protective Acts of Parliament. I am told that it is the contiguity of manufactures that makes Lincolnshire so prosperous. But, Sir, the frontiers of Wilts are nearer that great manufacturing district of which Birmingham is the centre, than those of Lincolnshire are to Lancashire. Now, see what Lincolnshire has produced under protection. There you see the protective system fairly tested. But when you find the labourers in the western counties wretched and miserable, do not say that protection has been the cause of it, when protection is, perhaps, the reason why they exist at all; but see if you cannot find other causes for their poverty and means to counteract it. I must say, that nothing astonished me more than when the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk asked the farmers in Newark market, "What has protection done for you?" Why, that market is supplied with the wheat of Lincoln Heath, the intrinsic poverty of whose soil is only sustained by the annual application of artificial manures, but which produces the finest corn in the kingdom. What has protection done for them? Why, if protection had never existed, Lincolnshire might still have been a wild wold, a barren heath, a plashy marsh. There are one or two points to which I could have wished to call the attention of the House, but which time will only permit me to glance at. I will not presume to discuss them. But you cannot decide this question without looking to your Colonies. I am not one of those who think it the inevitable lot of the people of Canada to become annexed to the United States. Canada has all the elements of a great and independent country, and is destined, I sometimes believe, to be the Russia of the new world. The hon. and learned Member for Bath, in answering the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, last night, treated our commerce with Canada very lightly, rather as a smuggling traffic than legitimate commerce. That is an argument for keeping the Canadas. I have no desire to see a smuggling trade if we can have any other. But I will ask the gentlemen of Manchester to consider what may become of the trans-Atlantic market for their manufactures, if the whole of that continent belong to one Power? But I must not dwell on the Colonies, and I shall scarcely touch the case of Ireland. It is too terrible, especially if there be truth in the opinion of the noble Lord, whose conversion has been so much a matter of congratulation to the Government, that their measure must be fatal to small farmers. Why Ireland is a nation of small farmers. There was, however, one observation made with respect to Ireland by the hon. Member for Stockport, which, considering the effect it has had, I cannot help noticing. The hon. Gentleman says, "Ireland an argument in favour of the Corn Laws! Of all countries in the world I never should have supposed that Ireland would have been brought forward in support of the Corn Laws." That is a saucy and gallant sally; but is it an argument? what does it prove? The population is reduced to the lowest sources of subsistence. Admitted; but how do they gain even their potatoes except by cultivating the soil, and by producing that wheat and those oats which they send to England? I should be very glad if that wheat and those oats remained in Ireland; but I ask, what will be the state of Ireland, if the effect of this measure on your markets be such as I have assumed? You say that capital will flow into the country, and manufactures will be established. What length of time will elapse before these manufactures are established? Perhaps before that time the iron trade will revive in Sussex, or we shall see the drooping energies of the Dorsetshire labourer revived by his receiving the same wages as are paid at Rochdale and Stockport. Believing that this measure would be fatal to our agricultural interests—believing that its tendency is to sap the elements and springs of our manufacturing prosperity—believing that in a merely financial point of view it will occasion a new distribution of the precious metals, which must induce the utmost social suffering in every class, I am obliged to ask myself, if the measure be so perilous, why is it produced? Sir, I need not ask what so many Gentlemen both in and out of this House have already asked, what was there in the circumstances of this country to authorize the change? If we are only a commercial and manufacturing people, all must admit that commerce was thriving and that manufactures flourished. Agriculture was also content; and even had it been suffering and depressed, what does it signify, since England has ceased to be an agricultural country? Obliged, then, to discover some cause for this social revolution, I find that a body of men have risen in this country, eminent for their eloquence, distinguished for their energy, but more distinguished, in my humble opinion, for their energy and their eloquence than for their knowledge of human nature, or for the extent of their political information. Sir, I am not one of those who, here or elsewhere, in public or in private, have spoken with that disrespect which some have done of that great commercial confederation which now exercises so great an influence in this country. Though I disapprove of their doctrines—though I believe from the bottom of my heart that their practice will eventually be as pernicious to the manufacturing interest as to the agricultural interests of this country, still I admire men of abilities who, convinced of a great truth, and proud of their energies, band themselves together for the purpose of supporting it, and come forward, devoting their lives to what they consider to be a great cause. Sir, this country can only exist by free discussion. If it is once supposed that opinions are to be put down by any other means, then, whatever may be our political forms, liberty vanishes. If we think the opinions of the Anti-Corn-Law League are dangerous—if we think their system is founded on error, and must lead to confusion—it is open in a free country like England for men who hold opposite ideas to resist them with the same earnestness, by all legitimate means—by the same active organization, and by all the intellectual power they command. But what happens in this country? A body of gentlemen, able and adroit men, come forward, and profess contrary doctrines to those of these new economists. They place themselves at the head of that great popular party who are adverse to the new ideas, and, professing their opinions, they climb and clamber into power by having accepted, or rather by having eagerly sought the trust. It follows that the body whom they represent, trusting in their leaders, not unnaturally slumber at their posts. They conclude that their opinions are represented in the State. It was not for us, or the millions out of the House, to come forward and organize a power, in order to meet the hostile movements of the hon. Member for Stockport. No, we trusted to others—to one who by accepting, or rather by seizing that post, obtained the greatest place in the country, and at this moment governs England. Well, Sir, what happens? The right hon. Gentleman, the First Minister, told his Friends that he had given them very significant hints of the change of his opinions. He said that even last year, Lord Grey had found him out, and he was surprised that we could have been so long deluded. Sir, none of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman applied to me. More than a year ago I rose in my place and said, that it appeared to me that protection was in about the same state as Protestantism was in 1828. I remember my Friends were very indignant with me for that assertion, but they have since been so kind as to observe that instead of being a calumny it was only a prophecy. But I am bound to say, from personal experience, that, with the very humble exception to which I have referred, I think the right hon. Baronet may congratulate himself on his complete success in having entirely deceived his party, for even the noble Lord, the Member for Lynn, himself, in a moment of frank conversation, assured me that he had not till the very last moment the slightest doubt of the right hon. Gentleman. The noble Lord, I suppose, like many others, thought that the right hon. Gentleman was, to use a very favourite phrase on these benches in 1842, "only making the best bargain for them." I remember, when the Whig budget was rejected, and the right hon. Gentleman was installed into office, the changes which he proposed at the time created some suspicion; but all suspicion was hushed at the moment, because the right hon. Gentleman was looked upon as the man who could make the "best bargain" for the party. I want to know what Gentlemen think of their best bargain now? Suddenly, absolute as was the confidence in the right hon. Gentleman, the announcement was made that there was to be another change; that that was to occur under his auspices, which, only a few months before, he had aptly described as a "social revolution." And how was that announcement made? Were hon. Gentlemen called together, or had the influential Members of either House any intimation given to them of the nature of it? No, Sir. It was announced through the columns of a journal which is always careful never to insert important information except on the highest authority. Conceive the effect of that announcement on foreign countries, and on foreign Ministers. I can bear witness to it. I happened to be absent from England at the time, and I know of great potentates sending for English ambassadors, and demanding an explanation; and of English ambassadors waiting on great potentates, and officially declaring that there was not the slightest truth in the announcement. And all this time, too, Members of the Government—I have some of them in my eye—were calling on other newspapers devoted to the Government, and instructing them to announce that the whole was an "infamous fabrication." How ingenuous was the conduct of Her Majesty's Government—or of that Minister who formed the omnipotent minority of the Cabinet, I leave the House to decide. But was it not strange that, after so much agitation, after all these schemes, after all these Machiavellian manœuvres, when the Minister at last met the House and his party, he acted as if we had deserted him, instead of his having left us? Who can forget those tones? Who can forget that indignant glance? Vectabor humeris tunc ego inimicis eques; Meæque terra cedet insolentiæ; which means to say, "I, a protectionist Minister, mean to govern England by the aid of the Anti-Corn-Law League. And, as for the country Gentlemen, why, I snap my fingers in their face." Yet even then the right hon. Gentleman had no cause to complain of his party. It is very true that, on a subsequent occasion, 240 Gentlemen recorded their sense of his conduct. But then he might have remembered the considerable section of converts that he obtained even in the last hour. Why, what a compliment to a Minister—not only to vote for him, but to vote for him against your opinions, and in favour of opinions which he had always drilled you to distrust. That was a scene, I believe, unprecedented in the House of Commons. Indeed, I recollect nothing equal to it, unless it be the conversion of the Saxons by Charlemagne, which is the only historical incident that bears any parallel to that illustrious occasion. Ranged on the banks of the Rhine, the Saxons determined to resist any further movement on the part of the great Cæsar; but when the Emperor appeared, instead of conquering he converted them. How were they converted? In battalions—the old chronicler informs us they were converted in battalions, and baptized in platoons. It was utterly impossible to bring these individuals from a state of reprobation to a state of grace with a celerity sufficiently quick. When I saw the hundred and twelve fall into rank and file, I was irresistibly reminded of that memorable incident on the banks of the Rhine. And now, Sir, I must say, in vindication of the right hon. Gentleman, that I think great injustice has been done to him throughout these debates. A perhaps justifiable misconception has universally prevailed. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has been accused of foregone treachery—of long meditated deception—of a desire unworthy of a great statesman, even if an unprincipled one—of always having intended to abandon the opinions by professing which he rose to power. Sir, I entirely acquit the right hon. Gentleman of any such intention. I do it for this reason: that when I examine the career of this Minister, which has now filled a great space in the Parliamentary history of this country, I find that for between thirty and forty years, from the days of Mr. Horner to the days of the hon. Member for Stockport, that right hon. Gentleman has traded on the ideas and intelligence of others. His life has been one great appropriation clause. He is a burglar of others' intellect. Search the Index of Beatson, from the days of the Conqueror to the termination of the last reign, there is no statesman who has committed political petty larceny on so great a scale. I believe, therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman undertook our cause on either side of House, that he was perfectly sincere in his advocacy; but as, in the course of discussion, the conventionalisms which he received from us crumbled away in his grasp, feeling no creative power to sustain him with new arguments, feeling no spontaneous sentiments to force upon him conviction, the right hon. Gentleman, reduced at last to defending the noblest cause, one based on the most high and solemn principles, upon the "burdens peculiar to agriculture"—the right hon. Gentleman, faithful to the law of his nature, imbibed the new doctrines, the more vigorous, bustling, popular and progressive doctrines, as he had imbibed the doctrines of Mr. Horner—as he had imbibed the doctrines of every leading man in this country, for thirty or forty years, with the exception of the doctrine of Parliamentary reform, which the Whigs very wisely led the country upon, and did not allow to grow sufficiently mature to fall into the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman tells us, that he does not feel humiliated. Sir, it is impossible for any one to know what are the feelings of another. Feeling depends upon temperament; it depends upon the idiosyncracy of the individual; it depends upon the organization of the animal that feels. But this I will tell the right hon. Gentleman, that though he may not feel humiliated, his country ought to feel humiliated. Is it so pleasing to the self-complacency of a great nation, is it so grateful to the pride of England, that one who, from the position he has contrived to occupy, must rank as her foremost citizen, is one of whom it may be said, as Dean Swift said of another Minister, that "he is a Gentleman who has the perpetual misfortune to be mistaken!" And, Sir, even now, in this last scene of the drama, when the party whom he unintentionally betrayed is to be unintentionally annihilated—even now, in this the last scene, the right hon. Gentleman, faithful to the law of his being, is going to pass a project which, I believe it is matter of notoriety, is not of his own invention. It is one which may have been modified, but which I believe has been offered to another Government, and by that Government has been wisely rejected. Why, Sir, these are matters of general notoriety. After the day that the right hon. Gentleman made his first exposition of his scheme, a gentleman well known in this House, and learned in all the political secrets behind the scenes, met me, and said, "Well, what do you think of your chief's plan?" Not knowing exactly what to say; but, taking up a phrase which has been much used in the House, I observed, "Well, I suppose it's a 'great and comprehensive' plan." "Oh!" he replied, "we know all about it! It was offered to us! It is not his plan; it's Popkins's plan!" And is England to be governed by "Popkins's plan?" Will he go to the country with it? Will he go with it to that ancient and famous England that once was governed by statesmen—by Burleighs and by Walshinghams; by Bolingbrokes and by Walpoles; by a Chatham and a Canning—will he go to it with this fantastic scheming of some presumptuous pedant? I won't believe it. I have that confidence in the common sense, I will say the common spirit of our countrymen, that I believe they will not long endure this huckstering tyranny of the Treasury Bench—these political pedlars that bought their party in the cheapest market, and sold us in the dearest. I know, Sir, that there are many who believe that the time is gone by when one can appeal to those high and honest impulses that were once the mainstay and the main element of the English character. I know, Sir, that we appeal to a people debauched by public gambling—stimulated and encouraged by an inefficient and shortsighted Minister. I know that the public mind is polluted with economic fancies; a depraved desire that the rich may become richer without the interference of industry and toil. I know, Sir, that all confidence in public men is lost. But, Sir, I have faith in the primitive and enduring elements of the English character. It may be vain now, in the midnight of their intoxication, to tell them that there will be an awakening of bitterness; it may be idle now, in the spring-tide of their economic frenzy, to warn them that there may be an ebb of trouble. But the dark and inevitable hour will arrive. Then, when their spirit is softened by misfortune, they will recur to those principles that made England great, and which, in our belief, can alone keep England great. Then, too, perchance they may remember, not with unkindness, those who, betrayed and deserted, were neither ashamed nor afraid to struggle for the "good old cause"—the cause with which are associated principles the most popular, sentiments the most entirely national—the cause of labour—the cause of the people—the cause of England.


Sir, in rising to address the House after the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I confess I should certainly feel considerable hesitation at the task I undertook if I thought the hon. Gentleman was equally successful in his commercial theories, and his agricultural views, as he is powerful in invective against the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of the Crown, whom he accuses of having deserted his party. But how great is the contrast—how wide the difference between the hon. Gentleman's talent for directing powerful invective against the Minister, and his success in proving that the Bill before the House is an injudicious, ill-judged measure! I can assure the House and the hon. Gentleman, however, that the business of to-night is, the question as to whether this Bill shall be read a third time, and not whether we shall pass a censure on the conduct of the First Minister of the Crown. I confess I feel much comfort in addressing the House after the hon. Gentleman; but I can promise him that this question, in which I am rather a spectator than an interested party, shall not be neglected by me so far as the public interests are concerned; if the House will allow me to continue my address to them till I come to allude to that part of the hon. Gentleman's speech. But to begin with the beginning—the hon. Gentleman began by alluding to the use of abandoned arguments. I do not think that this accusation of abandoned arguments need lie very heavy on the minds of the hon. Gentleman and his party; for their whole case rests on the repetition of some fifty or a hundred arguments which have been long ago disposed of till we supposed that they had become obsolete. Indeed I do not know that the whole case of the protectionists could be more accurately stated now than it has been in the language of an ancestor of the noble Lord who began this debate, in the year of our Lord 1608. And to this day they have not abandoned the same arguments. The noble Lord's ancestor, in writing to his friend in 1610, spoke of wicked bakers, who contrived to raise the price of bread by certain means. I think that letter does contain, in its antique language, the whole argument now used by the protectionists, and to this day they have not abandoned that argument. But I did suppose that some of these old arguments—prejudices, I must call them—had been abandoned. The noble Lord's ancestor said, that in the year 1610 the wicked bakers were always raising the price of bread. Even this argument is not abandoned, for an hon. Member to-night has told us that potatoes in Yorkshire are cheap, and may be had for 2s. a bushel; but that the wicked potato factors in London will not sell them so cheaply; and the simple Yorkshiremen (who I always thought were sufficiently alive to their own interest), though they have potatoes in abundance, do not send them to a market where they can get ten times the price they obtain in the country. The protectionists may boast, therefore, that not one of the old arguments has been abandoned by them. The hon. Member said, that I have abandoned the doctrine that protection is the bane of agriculture. I have not abandoned that doctrine, for I consider that the agriculture of this country has been injured by protection. I do not deny that under that system there has been high cultivation in several parts of the country; but in other parts of the country cultivation is still in a backward state; and in those parts where there is good agriculture it dates only from six, or eight, or ten years ago; and my opinion is, that if protection had not been kept up, the agriculture of this country would have been much further advanced. If it must be admitted that within a few years agriculture has made enormous advances in this country, it must be also asserted they have not been equal to the progress of manufactures, and to the impulse we might expect to be given to agriculture from that cause, and from a great number of persons seeking to possess property, and to cultivate farms. It is not more than ten years since those great advances have been made. But the noble Lord who commenced this debate, asked me whether protection be not also the bane of manufacture; and I say it is. First, with respect to cotton and wool, the protection being insufficient—in point of fact inoperative—did no harm; but I say, where-ever the protection has been an effectual protection—as in the case of the Spitalfields' weavers—that then manufactures have been injured. But suppose, instead of our having to alter the system of protection, and no such system had ever existed, and we bought our wheat and bread and manufactures as cheaply as we could, and imposed taxes solely for revenue; I should like to know what would be thought of a Minister who should come down to Parliament and say, "I have a great plan to propose, in order to promote the domestic industry of the country; I propose that you should pay dearer for the articles you consume; that you should pay a high price for your bread, and high prices for your coffee and your sugar." Why, if that were the case, I believe that such a system, if proposed now for the first time, would be scouted at once, and not the authority of St. George himself, far less that of his namesake, would succeed in persuading the House to adopt it. But this is not a new thing proposed for the first time; it is an old system, and the question is, how it is to be changed; and I must beg the permission of the House—and I trust I address the House for the last time on this subject—I request their attention for a few minutes whilst I state what has been my course with respect to the Corn Laws for a number of years past. When I gave my support in the early part of my life to the principles of Mr. Huskisson, I considered him the soundest Minister, in his views respecting corn and commerce, the country ever had, and I never voted against him. But when I perceived the working of the Bill of 1828, and weighed the arguments and observations respecting that measure, as I thought that Bill was working injuriously to the country, I stated, first to Mr. Ricardo, and afterwards to the House, that my opinion had been changed in favour of a fixed duty; and I thought then that a permanent moderate fixed duty such as had been advocated by Mr. Ricardo of about 10s. a quarter was the best system that could be adopted. In the year 1840, when the question was before brought before the House, I again stated my opinion in favour of a fixed duty; but I wish to show further, that that was not a solitary opinion, but also that of the Government to which I belonged. The greater portion of the Members of the Administration had stated the same opinion. In 1840 the question of the Corn Laws was brought before both Houses—in the House of Lords by Lord Fitzwilliam—and on those two occasions eleven Members of Lord Melbourne's Cabinet voted for a reconsideration of the Corn Laws: in the House of Lords for a resolution that it was expedient to reconsider them; and in this House for a Committee, I declaring that either myself or my right hon. Friend then the President of the Board of Trade would propose a fixed duty, if that Committee were granted. I said at that time that I thought the settlement of the Tithe question and the New Poor Law made a great difference as to the Corn question, and that a freer competition with foreign corn and foreign produce might be adopted with safety to British agriculture. There were two or three Members of the Cabinet who did not give any opinion on the subject; but of those who did, Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, and one other Member of the Cabinet, voted against any change. There was an opinion of Lord Melbourne's given on the occasion, which has been so often referred to, that I beg to state what Lord Melbourne did say on the occasion. Referring to Lord Fitzwilliam, he said— The noble Earl proposes that it is neither expedient nor necessary to maintain the present Corn Laws. Now, although I am distinctly of opinion that it is expedient, yet I wish to guard myself against being supposed to be determined always to maintain the existing laws. I never pledged myself to that, nor do I mean to do so. It is no subborn question of principle, and I will not pledge myself that various considerations of policy might not arise which would justify, if not render necessary, a different course. Now, with that opinion so given by Lord Melbourne, while he voted against the proposed change, and four Members of the Cabinet in the other House and all those who were in this House declaring for the change, that was going as far in favour of a change in the Corn Laws as Mr. Canning ever went at the end of his life on the Catholic question. Then I say, after these facts in 1839 and 1840, that the whole Ministry as a united Cabinet should in 1841 propose a change in the Corn Laws was not surprising. Sir, I feel justified in thus troubling the House with this detail, because I know that it has been over and over again said, for years, that the proposal of 1841 was a sudden thought produced by the difficulties of the Ministry. The fact was, that we had long, as individual Members of the Government, been for a fixed duty; but then we for the first time proposed, as a Ministry, what we thought should be the amount of that fixed duty. I have already said that if the circumstances of 1841 could come over again, I should still be of opinion that a moderate fixed duty would be the best change from the law of 1828. I was of opinion that when the laws of protection had not only been imbedded in your Statute-book, but also incorporated in the habits of your people, these changes should be made gradually, and with a general assent. I believe that the manufacturing interest and the Anti-Corn-Law League would then have been prepared to accept even an 8s. duty, although they would still have considered it a high duty. ["No, no!"] I have authority, good authority, for making that statement. Sir, from that time to the middle of last year I was still the advocate of a fixed duty, as being the best mode of changing the law. I considered, that after a fixed duty had lasted for a number of years, and a steady trade in corn had been the consequence, the change to free trade would be almost imperceptible, and that it would excite no panic or alarm. But, Sir, when those changes were obstinately resisted, when for seven years the association called the Anti-Corn-Law League had advocated this question, and had made the deepest impression on the public mind, the question bore no longer the same aspect. Having had the offer of a fixed duty rejected, there was not, from the days of the Sibyl down to the time when Mr. Canning threw over the proposed securities on the Catholic question, any precedent for repeating an offer that had been rejected. Therefore I had to consider last year, and I think I have to consider it now, whether there was anything short of the settlement proposed by the right hon. Baronet, resting on total repeal, which was likely to give satisfaction to the country, or to terminate the angry discussions on the question. Had I been able, to carry a fixed duty with the general consent of both the manufacturing and agricultural interests, and with the concurrence of the great body of the people, I might have felt proud to accomplish that object. But to be placed in the situation of defending a duty which could scarcely be called a large protection, and yet which would be the constant source of irritation—to defend such a duty from year to year, and debate after debate, would have been a position which I confess I was not anxious to occupy. I am, therefore, of opinion, that as matters now stand, the question is between keeping up the present protection, which most Gentlemen seem to think can scarcely be maintained, and the total abolition, after the lapse of a few years, which the right hon. Baronet proposes of all the duties on corn. Do I say that it is the way in which I should at first have wished to have made the change? No; I agree with Adam Smith and Ricardo, and others, that such changes should be gradual, and so conducted as to inflict as little injury as possible on existing interests; but, as matters now stand, and as the question is now put before the country, believing that repeal of the Corn Laws is a right object, and that in itself it is the best system, I see no course between keeping up the system of protection as it exists, or to come to a total repeal almost immediately. Sir, I may as well tell the hon. Gentleman who spoke last that at the same time he made an assertion he made an admission also. He admitted that the Corn Laws tend to enhance the price of corn, but he asserted at the same time the power of the community to purchase was increased also. But, Sir, while that which the hon. Gentleman admitted is capable of proof—and his admission strengthens that proof—he gave at the same time no proof of the other part of his proposition—that the power to purchase was also increased by this law. The hon. Gentleman said, indeed, that the prices of corn would be ruinously low; that new markets would be opened, immense supplies of corn introduced, and the English labourer displaced. But let us observe in the first instance that his argument destroys entirely what has been the main strength of the case for protection—that we ought to be independent of foreign nations for our supply of food. I could understand, if all our supplies of corn came from one or two countries, and they our rivals, that in time of war this country might run a danger of scarcity from the supplies being intercepted. I have, however, gone over in my mind the case of Russia, Prussia, and America; and I find that during the last century, as regards the two former, and since 1783 as to the latter, it has been a very few years indeed during which we have been at war with either; and that there was no period at which we were at war with all. I was comforted by this reflection, because it showed that we need not regard with apprehension our dependence on foreigners. But the hon. Member went further, and said we could receive a supply of corn from Hungary, Spain, and Egypt; in fact, that there was no place on the globe which would not send us supplies of corn. Then what becomes of his argument as to the fear of war? So long as we retain our maritime superiority, and are at peace with nine out of the ten of the nations of the globe, we shall have the supply the hon. Gentleman has so kindly told us of. But now as to the very low prices the hon. Gentleman told us of. He tells us of a number of places in Hungary, Sissek among the rest, from which corn would be brought at 18s. the quarter. I confess, Sir, it does appear to me that this is very like another Tamboff story. I rather think chat this immense supply can scarcely be talculated upon from those places. I find that there were even very low prices after that, the averages having been from 40s. to 50s.; and I, at least, am not much alarmed at such a rivalry with this country. It is, indeed, very much a question whether the prospect of having a great quantity of cheap corn is a prospect which ought to alarm the people of this country. I have heard the hon. Gentleman the Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) go on by the hour, showing how great would be the fall in the price of wheat, and at last we began quite to dread that a gentleman's butcher's bill would fall almost to nothing; and now the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shrewsbury gives us additional alarm about the baker's, and has shown that our bread will be excessively cheap indeed. Why, my opinion is, that if you admit there will be a large quantity of bread, as an hon. Gentleman said at the commencement of to-night's discussion, there will also be a great many mouths to eat it—that there will be a much greater consumption of food by having a greater plenty, and thereby consuming many of the other products of agriculture and manufacture. The hon. Gentleman gave us a very vivid picture of the prosperity of Lincolnshire and other parts of England, owing to the existence of protection; but is it not partly owing also to the flourishing state of manufactures, and the ready market for agricultural produce, which is demanded and consumed by the persons dependent on the foreign trade of this country? That protection at the same time co-exists with an increased supply of foreign corn. I do not feel, therefore, those apprehensions which the hon. Gentleman has expressed of injury to the agriculturists from a still further increase in foreign corn trade. I think that in some years great quantities of corn will come into this country, in the expectation of prices which will not be realized; but that there will be a permanent depression of the market, such as to cripple the agriculture of this country, is not an apprehension that I think need be felt. The hon. Gentleman has spoken of the great fluctuations in this market. I will not venture with him to compare the fluctuations which have occurred in the European and American markets; there may be causes for these fluctuations of which we are not aware. But with regard to the fluctuations in this market, they have been not only very considerable, but the prices have been exceedingly high. In January, 1838, corn was 52s. the quarter; in December, it was 78s. 4d.; and in January, 1839, it rose to 81s. 6d., falling again to 65s. in October. Is there not to be found in the fluctuations of these two years a very sufficient reason for the Government saying, "Let us have a greater admission of foreign corn; let us, if possible, have the people of this country better fed than they now are?" I said just now that I think we have got accustomed to much higher prices of corn than our ancestors had any notion of. Looking to the prices which ruled in the last century, after there was an admission of foreign corn, in 1763, when this country ceased to be an exporting country, and became a large importer of corn, I find that Mr. Burke, in a pamphlet of his, says, with no sort of compassion for agriculture, that he thought the people had no great cause to complain of the high prices of bread, because, for many years, the prices of Baltic wheat ruled from 32s. to 40s. I find, taking the experience of the thirty-four years from 1750 to 1784, that the average price of the quarter of wheat has been about 15s. That was a price not generally complained of—indeed so little complained of that when, in 1791, Mr. Pitt proposed to put on a duty of 6d. when the price was 54s., Lord Liverpool, in the House of Lords, spoke of it as an injury to the manufacturing classes. My belief is, that high prices during the war, and specific importations of corn, have altered our notions upon that subject, and have made us expect and say there ought to be much higher prices of corn than the consumer is entitled to pay. But I say the consumer involves the producer, for those who are the consumers of one article are the producers of another. Look, likewise, at the question as it regards manufactures and corn. While the price of manufactures has fallen about two-thirds, the price of corn has risen about 20 per cent. Now, is not that a reason in some respects why we should not exclude foreign corn? Is it not a reason why, as manufactures have fallen in as great a degree as corn has risen, you should no longer keep a law which puts such obstacles in the way of its import? The hon. Gentleman spoke of an important principle of which he was the advocate. He did not inform us what this important principle was which he would maintain; and unless it was the principle of the present Corn Laws, I know not what it was. The hon. Gentleman referred to our Colonies. I think we run no risk with regard to our Colonies. I think they have great advantages, setting apart the one which they enjoy of differential duties; the trade of our Colonies, if it is to be changed, I think ought to be changed more gradually and with more caution than that of the great people of whom we are the representatives; but I think, united with this great Empire, forming a part of it, they will not be sorry to see our restrictive system abrogated. And as for Canada, I cannot find in the accounts from that Colony any symptom of that alarm which has been spoken of. It does not appear either from the meetings of the House of the Legislative Assembly, or from the public meetings, that the people of Canada do entertain those fears, or those insuperable objections of which we have heard to the change. The hon. Gentleman ended his speech by giving an account of the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite came into power, and of the manner in which he abandoned the principles he before professed. Now, upon this subject, I cannot agree in thinking that all the blame belongs exclusively to the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues. I think that some part of it must be shared by those who for so many years have been his followers. I think, indeed, that the right hon. Gentleman, coming forward to declare that that system of protection, of which he has long been the upholder, was unjust—having declared, some four years ago, that another Bill of which he was a great promoter in opposisition, was fraught with injustice, and founded on injustice, shows a want of wisdom in his former opinions upon political matters. But when I consider what the party was which existed in 1841, I am not one of those who lament the disruption which has taken place. I will frankly confess that, in my opinion, there was one inherent defect in that great Conservative party which came into power in 1841. Their discipline was admirable; their machinery for elections was exceedingly well organized; they had candidates for every hustings, being, I may say, "Bene nati, bene vestiti, mediocriter docti;" and these Gentlemen had many party cries which they found of exceeding value at the elections, with little invention of their own. There was the fable of the Lichfield-house compact; another fable of Mr. O'Connell governing the whole Whig party; and various other inventions which indicated a great deal of fancy on the part of those who used them, though found exceedingly useful on the hustings, and which diminished by degrees, but certainly to the very smallest amount, the majorities of the Whig Government. At the same time, there were great orators and great leaders in both Houses of Parliament: persons, too, of every grade. There was, which was a great glory, the Duke of Wellington at the top; and at the bottom, with ready though smaller services, were the runners of the Carlton. Yet there was one thing which was wanting to this great Conservative party, and that was, some public object for which to contend. Mr. Burke says that a party means "a union of men for some great object of public welfare;" but such a union did not exist among that party. The opinions of many hon. Gentlemen who have spoken in the course of this discussion against the measure of the Government were very decided, and in all cases, no doubt, very honest. I think, however, that often they were exceedingly narrow. These opinions were, that protection, that the whole system of protection to native industry, was bound up with the prosperity of this country. They had also great fears of the Roman Catholics, and demanded that the Protestant ascendancy, the Protestant supremacy, or, as Lord Stanley called it, the Protestant Constitution, should be maintained above all others. Among their leaders such were the views entertained, and I do not doubt honestly entertained; but they chose the right hon. Gentleman, now First Minister of the Crown, who had sat with Mr. Huskisson, was a great promoter of Mr. Huskisson's measures, who had acted with caution, but always advocated and promoted free trade; and the right hon. Gentleman was known, in principle, to be opposed to the system of protection. The right hon. Gentleman, too, was the person who moved the Relief Bill for the removal of the disabilities under which the Catholics laboured; and he repeatedly declared his persuasion that that Act ought not to be repealed, and that it should be observed in the spirit as well as the letter. Those opinions as to free trade and protection, led to the measure of 1842, and have led in time to the measure of 1846. Those opinions as to the Roman Catholics led him to the Maynooth Bill, which met with such violent opposition last year. But then, I ask, what was this great Conservative party? What but a union of men to turn out a Government they disliked; but who, being in office, had no bond of union, and no principle which they held in common. When that opposition was carried on entirely against particular measures of the Whig Government — when these measures were found fault with from day to day, and no general principle was stated as the ground of opposition—when the party was going on in its course with the prospect of final triumph, how came none of those Gentlemen to ask, with Sir Christopher Hatton, "What mean these mighty preparations?" And if it was replied that they could not put the question until the play was begun, and the party in office—then I think that in fairness and candour they should have come to some understanding when in opposition as to the principles on which they meant to act when in power. As it is, I do not wonder that they have been disappointed on this and on other measures. I think the right hon. Gentleman to blame. I think he should not causelessly have reserved his opinion; but that he should have stated to his party fully those principles on which he has since acted—principles in which I can see little to blame, however much they may be blamed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. But to go on week after week, and year after year, in order to overturn a Government, risking the peace and safety of Ireland—risking the security and tranquillity of the Empire, without having some settled views as to the way in which Ireland might be traquillized and the Empire governed—that was a fatal defect in the party; and I am not sorry that that defect should have led to its dissolution. Sir, I can admire the Cavalier of 1645, who defended the Throne against Hampden and Cromwell—Sir, I can admire the Jacobites of 1745, who came forward on behalf of the Stuarts, against that which I think was the right cause—that of the House of Hanover—I can admire the chivalrous spirit, the determined loyalty, the firm adherence to established opinion manifested by the men who contended for those two unfortunate causes. But when I come to this triumphant cause of 1845, I find such an absence of all chivalry, such an absence of all united principle, that I own, in my opinion, it is far better that men who differ so much should be totally disunited. The hon. Gentlemen opposite who have opposed this Bill have considered that it is injurious to the country. I think that they have done themselves credit, not not only by the great talent which they have displayed—undeniable talent—but by the spirit with which they have asserted their opinions. They conceive that this Bill will tend to lower this country among the nations of the globe. I consider on the contrary that it will tend to raise this country among the nations of the globe. I think it will tend to promote peace and amity amongst them, and looking to one—one of the greatest of them all—I am happy to find that there we can see symptoms of returning feelings of amity and good will. And when I read the speeches of Mr. Webster, Mr. Calhoun, and Mr. Benton, I feel anxious to forget all the idle declamation which has been wafted from the other side of the Atlantic. I trust that Her Majesty's Government may be enabled to fix the final limits which shall divide the dominions of England from those of the United States of America, and I trust that the Convention in the Treaty which shall settle that boundary, will be but a prelude to a more intimate connexion between us and that vast commonwealth of free people. I trust, Sir, that we shall together carry on our occupations—manufacturing and agricultural—vying with each other in attempting to make our productions more and more perfect—striving in the neutral markets of the world for pre-eminence—striving, if you will, that we should clothe them, and that they should feed us, but hoping never again to see the bayonets of America and England cross on any bloody field. Sir, with the warmest expression of these wishes that such may be the first-fruits of this Bill—which I trust to see carried by a large majority in the other House of Parliament—I have only to add that the Motion for the third reading has my honest and hearty support.


said: Sir, I believe it is now nearly three months since I first proposed, as the organ of Her Majesty's Government, the measure which, I trust, is about to receive to-night the sanction of the House of Commons; and, considering the lapse of time—considering the frequent discussions—considering the anxiety of the people of this country that these debates should be brought to a close, I feel that I should be offering an insult to the House—I should be offering an insult to the country, if I were to condescend to bandy personalities upon such an occasion. Sir, I foresaw that the course which I have taken from a sense of public duty would expose me to serious sacrifices. I foresaw as its inevitable result, that I must forfeit friendships which I most highly valued—that I must interrupt political relations in which I felt a sincere pride; but the smallest of all the penalties which I anticipated were the continued venomous attacks of the Member for Shrewsbury. Sir, I will only say of that hon. Gentleman, that if he, after reviewing the whole of my public life—a life extending over thirty years previously to my accession to office in 1841—if he then entertained the opinion of me which he now professes; if he thought I was guilty of these petty larcenies from Mr. Horner and others, it is a little surprising that in the spring of 1841, after his long experience of my public career, he should have been prepared to give me his confidence. It is still more surprising that he should have been ready—as I think he was—to unite his fortunes with mine in office, thus implying the strongest proof which any public man can give of confidence in the honour and integrity of a Minister of the Crown. Sir, I have explained more than once what were the circumstances under which I felt it my duty to take this course. I did feel in November last that there was just cause for apprehension of scarcity and famine in Ireland. I am stating what were the apprehensions I felt at that time, what were the motives from which I acted; and those apprehensions, though they may be denied now, were at least shared then by those hon. Gentlemen who sit below the gangway (the protectionists). The hon. Member for Somersetshire expressly declared that at the period to which I referred he was prepared to acquiesce in the suspension of the Corn Laws. An hon. Member also, a recent addition to this House, who spoke with great ability the other night, the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Seymer) distinctly declared that he thought I should have abandoned my duty if I had not advised that, considering the circumstances of Ireland, the restrictions on the importation of foreign corn should be temporarily removed. I may have been wrong, but my impression was, first, that my duty towards a country threatened with famine required that that which had been the ordinary remedy under all similar circumstances should be resorted to—namely, that there should be free access to the food of man from whatever quarter it might come. I was prepared to give the best proof which public men generally can give of the sincerity of their opinions, by tendering my resignation of office, and devolving upon others the duty of proposing this measure; and, Sir, I felt this—that if these laws were once suspended, and there was unlimited access to food, the produce of other countries, I, and those with whom I acted, felt the strongest conviction that it was not for the public interest—that it was not for the interest of the agricultural party, that an attempt should be made permanently to reimpose restrictions on the importation of food. I could not propose the re-establishment of the existing law with any guarantee for its permanence. As the noble Lord says, I had acted with Mr. Huskisson in 1822, 1825, and 1826, in revising the commercial system, and applying to that system the principle of free trade. In 1842, after my accession to office, I proposed a revision of the Corn Laws. Had anything taken place at the election of 1844 which precluded that revision? Was there a public assurance given to the people of this country, at the election of 1841, that the existing amount of protection to agriculture should be retained? ["Yes, yes!"] There was, was there? Then, if there was, you were as guilty as I. What was the assurance given? If it was that the amount of protection to agriculture which existed in 1843 and 1841 should be retained, opposition ought to have been made by you to the revision of that system in 1842. Why was the removal of the prohibition on the importation of foreign meat and foreign cattle assented to? That removal must have been utterly at variance with any assurance that the protection to agriculture, which existed in 1840 and 1841, should be retained. Yet that removal was voted by the House by large majorities; and after the Bill of 1842, was I not repeatedly asked this question, "Now that you have passed this Bill establishing a new Corn Law, will you give a public assurance that to that you will at all times adhere?" Did I not uniformly decline to give any such assurance? I said I had no intention of proposing an alteration of that law at the time when the question was put to me; but I distinctly declared that I would not fetter for ever my discretion by giving such a pledge. These things are on record. It was quite impossible for me, consistently with my own convictions, after a suspension of import duties, to propose the re-establishment of the existing law with any security for its continuance. Well, then, the question which naturally arose was this—shall we propose some diminished protection to agriculture, or, in the state of public feeling which will exist after the suspension of restriction, shall we propose a permanent and ultimate settlement of the question? To be of any avail, it must have been diminished greatly below its present standard, and that diminution, I believe, would have met with as much opposition from the agricultural body as the attempt finally to settle the question. And now, after all these debates, I am firmly convinced that it is better for the agricultural interest to contemplate the final settlement of this question, rather than to attempt the introduction of a law giving a diminished protection. My belief is, that a diminished protection would in no respect conciliate agricultural feeling; and this I must say, nothing could be so disadvantageous as to give an ineffectual protection and yet incur all the odium of giving an adequate one. What have we been told during this discussion? With scarcely an exception, I have listened attentively to every speech that has been made on this side of the House; and, admitting the talent that has been displayed, I confess they have in no respect altered the conviction upon which I have acted. You tell me it would have been possible, with such support as I should have received, to have continued the existing law; I believe it might have been. As far as the gratification of any personal object of ambition is concerned — (Interruption) — I am perfectly ready to listen to any reply that may be made to my observations, and I think it is hardly fair to attempt to interrupt me by such exclamations, but it has so far succeeded. [The right hon. Baronet paused a few moments and then continued.] I am told that it would have been possible to continue this protection; but, after the suspension of it—for I now assume that the suspension would have been assented to on account of the necessities of Ireland—the difficulty of maintaining it would have been greatly increased; because it would have been shown, after the lapse of three years, that, although it had worked tolerably well during the continuance of abundance, or at least of average harvests, yet at the moment it was exposed to the severe trial of scarcity, it then ceased to effect the object for which it was enacted, and that in addition to the state of public feeling with reference to restrictions or imports generally, would have greatly added to the difficulty of maintaining the law. There would have been public proof of its inefficiency for one of the great objects for which it was enacted. But let me say, although it has not been brought prominently under consideration, that, without any reference to the case of Ireland, the working of the law, as far as Great Britain is concerned, during the present year has not been satisfactory. You would have had to contend not merely with difficulties arising from suspension on account of the case of Ireland, but it would have been shown to you, as it now could be shown to you, that the rate of duty has been high on account of the apparent lowness in the price of corn; while that lowness of price has arisen not from abundance in quantity, but from deficient quality. It would have been shown, and conclusively, that there are greater disparities of price in most of the principal markets of this country—between corn of the highest quality and of the lowest, than have ever existed in former periods. It would have been proved that there never was a greater demand than there has been during the present year for wheat of fine quality for the purpose of mixing with wheat of inferior quality, which forms the chief article brought for sale into our domestic markets. It would have been shown you that had there been free access to wheat of higher quality than they have assumed, the whole population of this country would for the last four months have been consuming bread of a better quality. My belief, therefore, is, that in seeking the re-enactment of the existing law after its suspension, you would have had to contend with greater difficulties than you anticipate. Still I am told, "You would have had a majority." I think a majority might have been obtained. I think you could have continued this law, notwithstanding these increased difficulties, for a short time longer; but I believe that the interval of its maintenance would have been but short, and that there would have been, during the period of its continuance, a desperate conflict between different classes of society; that your arguments in favour of it would have been weak; that you might have had no alternative at an early period, had the cycle of unfavourable harvests returned—and who can give an assurance that they would not?—that you might at an early period have had no alternative but to concede an alteration of this law under circumstances infinitely less favourable than the present to a final settlement of the question. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorsetshire said, "We can fight the League with their own weapons;" that is to say, finding that we cannot control by law those measures resorted to by the Anti-Corn-Law League, which I cannot defend, and which I very sincerely reprobate were ever resorted to—the establishment of voters in counties, not being naturally voters in those counties—the hon. Gentleman said, "We can make fagot votes as well as they;" and the landed interest, he said, by the greater facilities which they possess, would be able to beat the League. Well, but what a sad alternative is this! What a sad conflict to be carrying on! Even admitting that it would be necessary, and might be done from honest convictions of that necessity, could you do it without destroying the county constituencies? Surely, it is wise to consider the alternative; and, believe me, you who are anxious for the maintenance of the aristocratic system, you who desire wisely, and justly desire, to discourage the infusion of too much of the democratic principle into the Constitution of the country, although you might for a time have relied on the fagot votes you created in a moment of excitement, yet the interval would not be long before that weapon would break short in your hands! You would find that those additional votes created for the purpose of combating the votes of the League, though when brought up at the first election, under the influence of an excitement connected with the Corn Laws, they might have been true to your side, yet, after the lapse of a short time, some exciting question connected with democratic feelings would arise, and then your votes and the votes of the League, not being subjected to legitimate influence, would unite, and you would find you had entailed on the country permanent evils; destroying the Constitution for the purpose of providing a temporary remedy. It was the foresight of these consequences—it was the belief that you were about to enter into a bitter and, ultimately, an unsuccessful struggle, that has induced me to think that for the benefit of all classes, for the benefit of the agricultural class itself, it was desirable to come to a permanent and equitable settlement of this question. These are the motives on which I acted. I know the penalty to which I must be subject for having so acted; but I declare, even after the continuance of these debates, that I am only the more impressed with the conviction that the policy we advise is correct. An hon. Gentleman in the course of this evening, the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Hudson), informed us that he had heard that there was excitement about the Corn Laws; but he undertook to give a peremptory contradiction to that report, for he never recollected any public question being proposed involving such great interests, which, on the whole, was received by all classes concerned—by the manufacturing and by the agricultural classes—with less excitement and with a greater disposition to confide in the wisdom of the decision of Parliament. Well, if that be so—if this question is proposed at such a time—[Mr. HUDSON: No, no.] I certainly understood the hon. Member to make that statement. [Mr. HUDSON: I will explain after.] I may be mistaken, and of course I am, if the hon. Member says so; but I understood him to say, that so far from there being any undue excitement, he thought that there was much less than could have been expected, and that all parties were disposed to acquiesce in the decision of Parliament.


What I stated I believe was this: that there was no excitement in favour of the Bill—not that there was a deep feeling on the part of the agriculturists against it, but that there was no public excitement in its favour.


That varies very little from the expressions I used, and entirely justifies the inference which I drew. If there be no excitement in favour of the Bill, and no strong feeling on the part of the agriculturists against it, it appears to me that this is not an unfavourable moment for the dispassionate consideration by Parliament of a subject otherwise calculated to promote excitement on the part of one class, and to cause great apprehension on the part of the other; and the hon. Member's statement is a strong confirmation of my belief that it is wise to undertake the settlement of this question when there is such absence of excitement, rather than to wait until a period when unfavourable harvests and depressed manufactures may have brought about a state of things which may render it less easy for you to exercise a dispassionate judgment on the matter. Sir, I do not rest my support of this Bill merely upon the temporary ground of scarcity in Ireland. I do not rest my snpport of the Bill upon that temporary scarcity; but I believe that scarcity left no alternative to us but to undertake the consideration of this question; and that consideration being necessary, I think that a permanent adjustment of the question is not only imperative, but the best policy for all concerned. And I repeat now that I have a firm belief that it is for the general benefit of all—for the best interests of the country, independent of the obligation imposed on us by temporary scarcity, it is for the general interests of the great body of the people that an arrangement should be made for a permanent removal of the restrictions upon the introduction of food. I will assign my reasons for that opinion. I take my facts from the opponents of this measure. I take the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire—a speech distinguished by all the ability and usual earnestness and research of the hon. Gentleman. We shall have no difference respecting our facts, for I shall take them from the opponents of the measure. The only question is as to the just inference to be drawn from these facts. The hon. Gentleman said—"Allowing that the facts and figures which we have produced for the last thirty years are correct, then I find that there has been a great increase in trade — that there has been a cheapening of commodities; but there has been an improvement in the social condition of the great masses of the people." Now, all of you admit that the real question at issue is the improvement of the social and moral condition of the masses of the population; we wish to elevate in the gradation of society that great class which gains its support by manual labour—that is agreed on all hands. The mere interest of the landlords—the mere interest of the occupying tenants, important as they are, are subordinate to the great question—what is calculated to increase the comforts, to improve the condition, and elevate the social character of the millions who subsist by manual labour, whether they are engaged in manufactures or in agriculture? What, then, says the hon. Member for Oxfordshire? Take his statements to be correct; and they suggest matter for grave consideration. Here is a country in which wealth has increased—in which trade has increased — in which commodities have been cheapened; but, said the hon. Gentleman, "the social condition of the people has not been raised; I have tried it by every test by which I can determine the fact, and the conclusion I come to is that it has not." If that be so, is it not a formidable state of things? If increased wealth and enjoyment—if increased trade and cheaper commodities have not given the people more contentment, have not elevated them in the moral scale—if the moral and social improvement of those who form the foundation and platform of society has not advanced, is that not a subject of serious reflection? He says, "I look to the state of crime—it has increased; I look to the great articles, not of consumption, but of luxury, which have become necessities; I look to sugar, to tea, and to other articles of a similar nature, and I find there has been no corresponding increase of consumption." He says—"I draw my inferences from the facts and the statistics of the last thirty years." Well, let us go back to the period at which the thirty years commence. That is the year 1815. Then began the present system of protection to agriculture. You say you have carefully considered this state of things—that you have looked at them for the last thirty years; and you find increased wealth, increased trade, but a deteriorated condition of the people. With what do you compare the condition of the people for the last thirty years? With what preceding period do you institute the comparison? Take any period of the last century. Let us exclude the war; because during the war which began in 1793, there was a great dislocation of capital, and a great derangement of social interest. Our comparison, to take a period of peace similar to that of the last thirty years, must be a period which preceded the French war. We must go to the last century. Take what period you please—take the period from 1700 down to 1791; and now let us compare what was the state of the law when the people, according to your showing, were in a more prosperous condition than during the last thirty years. Let us compare the state of the law at this period, or at any part of this period, as compared with that when protection to agriculture began in 1815. Why, for the first sixty-six years of the last century there was no impediment to the importation of corn. For the first sixty-six years of that century this country was an exporting country. Let me ask you what were the agriculturists of Croatia and Hungary at that time about? Why did they not send us corn? This country was exporting corn at that time—the price of corn was low, and did not exceed 41s. What was the law passed in 1773? Why, foreign corn was admitted at a duty of 6d., when the price was above 49s. 6d.; and under that law, for six years after it was passed, this country was an exporting country. And did agriculture suffer during that period? Why, Sir, there were more Enclosure Bills passed during that period, when there was a free importation of foreign corn—when it might be brought in at a duty of 6d. if the price exceeded 49s. than ever before. There were not less than 1,560 Enclosure Bills passed. You say, then, that the condition of the people was comparatively better in point of morality and comfort than since 1815. In 1815, the commencement of the period of thirty years, this law was passed—that foreign corn should not be imported into England until after the price had arrived at 80s. There was a positive prohibition of foreign corn unless the price arrived at 80s. That was the perfection of protection. Was that to continue? You relaxed it. In 1822, you permitted the importation of foreign corn when the price exceeded 70s. You altered this law again, which the hon. Member for Newcastle under Lyme (Mr. Colquhoun) ranks with principles and ancient institutions. By the law of 1828, you subjected foreign corn when the price was under 64s. to a duty of 23s. 8d.; when it was at 69s. you subjected it to a duty of 16s. 8d.; and that law remained in force till 1842; and it was under the influence of this law, until you altered it in 1842, that you have the admission of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, that the social and moral condition of the people has not improved. What, also, did we in 1815? We imposed enormous duties and positive prohibitions upon other articles the produce of foreign countries. At that time the duty upon foreign butter and cheese was 2s. 6d. and 1s. 6d. respectively; we raised it to 1l. and 10s. 6d. Therefore, we did in 1815 adopt the principle of strict protection to agriculture; and the hon. Gentleman says that he finds crime increased, and the command over comforts and the moderate luxuries which partake of the nature of necessities lessened. He says that is the result of the inspection of thirty years. So much, then, for the condition of the great body of the people. Now I come to the facts of the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire. I heard his speech; I was sorry to observe the indisposition under which he laboured—an indisposition which in no degree prevented the exercise of his intellectual faculties, or prevented him from speaking with his usual clearness and power. I ask you to take the facts of the hon. Gentleman since 1815. I am quoting the very expressions he used; the account I am giving of agriculture since that period is not mine, but his. I followed him closely, and took down his account of the condition of agriculture under a state of almost perfect protection. In 1815 you had prohibition of foreign importation till corn exceeded 80s.; and these are the historical annals of the hon. Gentleman, the advocate of agricultural protection. In 1816 and 1817, he says, you had severe distress. [Mr. CAYLEY: In 1815 and 1816.] I think it was after 1815 and 1816—I think it was in 1817, that a Speech was made from the Throne lamenting the state of society, and the efforts that were made by designing men to take advantage of the distress of the country. It was in 1817 that the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, and the Seditious Meetings Bill was passed. In 1819, the hon. Gentleman said, such was the severity of distress the Six Acts passed into a law. In 1822, he said, agricultural distress was so intense that a Committee was appointed for the purpose of devising a remedy. He said that at that time the price of wheat—of beautiful wheat—was 40s.; that a farmer stated, I think, that where there were 150 persons usually out of employ, there were then 300; and that he had the greatest difficulty, on account of the low price of wheat, in giving employment to the agricultural labourers. From 1822 the hon. Gentleman advanced to 1830, and he said that in 1830, on account of the depressed state of agriculture, we had the "Swing" fires. In 1833 agriculture was again so depressed that it was necessary to appoint a Committee to consider that distress, and to attempt to devise a remedy. He said that there were thirty-five villages in the north of England with a population of 200,000 persons depending upon their labour, and their wages did not exceed 3s.d. per week per man. In 1834, he said, the Preston operatives presented a petition to this House, in which they complained of poverty, of ignorance, and of vice. The year 1835, he said, was as bad as the year 1822, and prices were so low that the ordinary employment of agriculture could not be afforded. 1836 and 1837, he said, were years of sudden prosperity; but that came to an end in 1838, and there was prostration and suffering from 1839 to 1842. That is the account which the hon. Member gives of the state of agriculture under that protection which was terminated by the Bill of 1842. Now, observe what the hon. Member also said; he said that there was a constant alternation of high prices and of low prices; and he said, differing from many who concur with him in their vote, that the low prices, though caused by favourable harvests, entailed the greatest suffering upon the agricultural classes, and that in 1822 and 1835, the farmer who had sold his wheat for less than 40s. complained, on account of the lowness of prices, that he could not give the usual employment. That lowness of price did not arise from competition with foreign corn; there was no foreign corn imported to reduce prices; that low price was caused by competition amongst the home growers of corn. There was a glut of productive harvests, there was no outlet for it, and there was prostration and suffering of the agriculturists in consequence. That is the account which the hon. Member gives of the result of high protection, not upon the manufacturing interest, but upon the agricultural; and when he had given that account—when he had detailed those sufferings on the part of the agriculturists, I was surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman conclude with a quotation— Woodman, spare that tree! I beg pardon, I am afraid I should have to ask the hon. Member to supply me with the verse, but the purport of it was that not a bough must be touched; that those whom it sheltered in youth ought to let it remain in their old age: after that account of the consequences of this high protection upon the agricultural interest, I was surprised to hear that advice which the hon. Gentleman gave us, not to touch a bough of that tree, under the shade of which agriculture had so long flourished. If he had said— Ille et nefasto te posuit die * * agro qui statuit meo Te, triste lignum, te caducum In domini caput immerentis"— I think it would have been a more appropriate quotation. But now, is there no exception to be made from this period of thirty years? Did nothing occur at the latter part of that period of thirty years to exempt it from the stigma which the hon. Gentleman cast upon the preceding part? There have been three years—1843, 1844, and 1845—during which you have had, from some cause or other, the benefits of plenty and of cheapness. During the last three of these thirty years the average price of wheat a little exceeded 50s.; and let us see whether during that period that censure will apply which applies to the former period—let us see whether, during the last three years, there has been no increase of comfort, no improvement in morality, no abatement of seditious feeling or disaffection. I care not what may be the cause of the abundance which has prevailed during the last three years; you say the cause is not to be attributed to the Tariff, but that good harvests have produced abundance. Be it so. But there has been comparative abundance. There has been a less outlay required for the purchase of articles of first necessity. You say there has been a demand for labour on railways. Why, that is an effect, and not a cause. It is on account of your prosperity that you are enabled to apply your capital to internal improvements, causing this demand for labour and giving increased wages; and do you believe if wheat had been at 70s. instead of 50s., there would have been the same stimulus to the application of capital? But grant that the Tariff of 1842 had nothing to do with the abatement of price in 1843, 1844, and 1845. I will concede it to you that it is attributable to the favour of Providence—to good harvests. But let us see what has been the result of this abundance. I will take the tests of the hon. Gentleman. He says, facts and figures show that there has been no increase of consumption. Now, I will show that during the last three years trade has flourished, capital has accumulated; but that you cannot say of the last three years what you can say of the preceding twenty-seven years—that there has been a deterioration in the social condition of the people. I will first take those articles which enter largely into consumption. I have here a statement of the quantities of certain articles entered for home consumption in the United Kingdom from 1839 to 1841, and from 1843 to 1846, showing the average quantity of each article in each of those periods. In the first three years, when the prices of provisions were high, the average consumption of sugar—for the three years ending in 1841—was 3,826,000 cwt. The average consumption for the last three years ending the 1st of January, 1846, had increased from 3,826,000 cwt. to 4,346,000 cwt. The average consumption of tea in the first three years was 34,685,000 lb. In the last three years it increased to 42,000,000 lb. The average consumption of coffee during the first three years of high price was 27,941,000 lb. annually; the average consumption of the last three years was 31,883,000 lb. The consumption of cocoa in the first three years averaged 1,859,000 lb. annually; in the last three years 2,575,000 lb. Take another article, which, though in a smaller degree, enters largely into the consumption of the poor, and which is not a bad test of their comfort. During the first three years the consumption of currants averaged 175,000 cwt.; in the last three years it had increased to 280,000 cwt. I take then the tests of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire—the consumption of articles necessary to the comfort of the people; and I show him that comparative plenty has produced this change in the command of the working classes over the smaller luxuries of life. I will next come to a more important point—the state of crime. You have now an official record, presented within a few days, of what has been the state of crime in this country during the last thirty years. Now, what was the state of crime during the first periods of twenty-seven years? From the first record in 1805 down to 1842, when the commitments attained the maximum number hitherto recorded, the increase in crime progressed from year to year, until it had extended to above 600 per cent. In 1843 a change commenced. In that year the number of commitments decreased. Within the last six years, three years of great increase of crime have been followed by three years during which the decrease was so considerable, that the number of commitments in 1845 has been reduced to what it was seven years ago. In the three years of high prices, this was the state of crime in each year: — The number of commitments in the first year was 27,187; in the second, 27,760; and in the third, 31,309. During the last three years the number of commitments has been—in the first year, 29,591; in the second, 26,542; and in the third, 24,303. Well, then, I take this other test of criminality and the extension of morality; and I ask whether we can resist the legitimate inference that the comparative cheapness and plenty which have existed during the last three years have had their effect in producing this diminished criminality? The Gentleman who drew up this return says— The decrease of commitments in England," for the last three years, "has therefore been general, continued, and extensive, to a degree of which there is no recorded example in this kingdom. He says again— In the sixth class, containing those offences which do not fall within the definitions of the foregoing classes"—violence to the person, and offences against property—"there is a total absence of commitments for seditious riots or sedition. A total absence of commitments for these offences! Why, can you have a stronger proof of the improvement of a country, apart from the command of comforts, than the fact that there should have been this progressive diminution in commitments, and a total absence of any commitments for sedition or seditious riots? I say, therefore, comparing the result of the three years when we have had diminished protection to agriculture and a reduced price of provisions, with the twenty-seven preceding years, the inference is, just that the diminution of crime is attributable to an increased command over those articles which constitute the food of the people. But you say, "As this happy state of things has arisen during the existence of the present Corn Laws—as the present Corn Laws have been co-existent with cheapness and plenty, on what principle do you seek to disturb this happy arrangement? You have proved that, co-existent with the Corn Laws, there have been cheapness and happiness; why, then, do you now come forward to propose their alteration?" Why, if you can show me that those laws were the cause of this happiness and plenty, that would no doubt be a strong and powerful reason for their continuance. But it cannot be denied that, simultaneously with a reduced protection to agriculture, there has been not only no diminution in agricultural improvement, but increased exertions, an increased demand for agricultural products, and increased comfort for the people. As you have proceeded downwards from 1815 to 1842, there has been a corresponding benefit from the abatement of protection. If we could anticipate that the law of 1842 would continue to produce all the advantages to which I have referred, that might be a conclusive reason for adhering to it. But you assert that favourable harvests have occasioned these advantages. Why, what guarantee have you for the continuance of favourable harvests? You have had comparatively favourable harvests for the last three years; and you say then, as a matter of necessity, that we ought to continue this law. Continue the law, say I too, if you can prove that this particular law has been the cause of these benefits. If, however, you say that favourable harvests have been the cause, I say then, that that does not constitute any reason for continuing the law. Those who have observed attentively the vicissitudes of the seasons, have remarked that there are cycles of favourable and unfavourable years. There was an unfavourable cycle of years in 1839, 1840, and 1841, during which time there was great distress. There has been since a favourable cycle of years, during which there has been comparative abundance. But supposing that this cycle of years in which we have had unfavourable harvests should again return, have we, I ask, any security that the law of 1842 will enable us to obtain an ample supply of food? Suppose, also, that, co-existent with those unfavourable harvests, we had also a depressed state of manufactures—shall we then be in a favourable position for making any alteration in the law? Remember how short a time has elapsed since we had the state of Paisley, of Sheffield, and of Stockport, brought under our special notice. Now, if these times should again return, after this interval of comparative happiness, when the contrast of our misery will be considerably heightened by the preceding period of happiness which has prevailed, do you believe it would be possible to maintain in existence a law which leaves a duty of 16s. a quarter upon wheat when it had arrived at the price of 56s.? You may say, "Disregard the progress of public opinion; defy the League; enter into a combination against it; determine to fight the battle of protection, and you will succeed." My firm belief is—without yielding to the dictation of the League or any other body—["Oh, oh!"]—yes, subjecting myself to that imputation, I will not hesitate to say my firm belief is, that it is most consistent with prudence and good policy, most consistent with the real interests of the landed proprietors themselves, most consistent with the maintenance of a territorial aristocracy, seeing by how precarious a tenure, namely, the vicissitudes of seasons, you hold your present protection system — I say, it is my firm belief that it is for the advantage of all classes, in these times of comparative comfort and comparative calm, to anticipate the angry discussions which might arise, by proposing at once a final adjustment of this question. I have stated the reasons which have induced me to take the present course. You may no doubt say, that I am only going on the experience of three years, and am acting contrary to the principles of my whole life. Well, I admit that charge—I admit that I have defended the existence of the Corn Laws—yes, and that up, to the present period, I have refused to acquiesce in the proposition to destroy them. I candidly admit all this; but when I am told that I am acting inconsistently with the principles of my whole life, by advocating free trade, I give this statement a peremptory denial. During the last three years, I have subjected myself to many taunts on this question, and you have often said to me that Earl Grey had found out something indicating a change in my opinions. Did I not say I thought that we ought not hastily to disturb vested interests by any rash legislation? Did I not declare that the principle of political economy suggested the purchasing in the cheapest market, and the selling in the dearest market? Did I not say, I thought that there was nothing so special in the produce of agriculture that should exempt it from the application of this principle which we have applied already to other articles? You have a right, I admit, to taunt me with any change of opinion upon the Corn Laws; but when you say, that by my adoption of the principles of free trade I have acted in contradiction to those principles which I have always avowed during my whole life, that charge, at least, I say, is destitute of foundation. Sir, I will not enter at this late hour into the discussion of any other topic. Sir, I foresaw the consequences that have resulted from the measures which I thought it my duty to propose. We were charged with the heavy responsibility of taking security against a great calamity in Ireland. We did not act lightly. We did not form our opinion upon merely local information—the information of local authorities likely to be influenced by an undue alarm. Before I and those who agreed with me came to that conclusion, we had adopted every means—by local inquiry, and by sending perfectly disinterested persons of authority to Ireland—to form a just and correct opinion. Whether we were mistaken or not—I believe we were not mistaken—but, even if we were mistaken, a generous construction should be put upon the motives and conduct of those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting millions of the subjects of the Queen from the consequences of scarcity and famine. Sir, whatever may be the result of these discussions, I feel severely the loss of the confidence of those from almost all of whom I heretofore received a most generous support. So far from expecting them, as some have said, to adopt my opinions, I perfectly recognize the sincerity with which they adhere to their own. I recognize their perfect right, on account of the admitted failure of my speculation, to withdraw from me their confidence. I honour their motives, but I claim, and I always will claim, while intrusted with such powers and subject to such responsibility as the Minister of this great country is intrusted with, and is subject to—I always will assert the right to give that advice which I conscientiously believe to be conducive to the general well-being. I was not considering, according to the language of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, what was the best bargain to make for a party. I was considering first what were the best measures to avert a great calamity, and, as a secondary consideration, to relieve that interest which I was bound to protect from the odium of refusing to acquiesce in measures which I thought to be necessary for the purpose of averting that calamity. Sir, I cannot charge myself or my Colleagues with having been unfaithful to the trust committed to us. I do not believe that the great institutions of this country have suffered during our administration of power. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) says he hopes that the discussions which have threatened the maintenance of amicable relations with the United States will be brought to a fortunate close. Sir, I think I can appeal to the course which we have pursued, against some obloquy, some misconstruction, some insinuations, that we were abandoning the honour of this country—I think I can appeal to the past experience of this Government, that it has been our earnest desire, by every effort consistently with the national honour, to maintain friendly relations with every country on the face of the globe. This principle, so long as we are entrusted with the management of public affairs, will continue to influence us in respect to the settlement of our unfortunate differences with the United States. Sir, if I look to the prerogative of the Crown—if I look to the position of the Church—if I look to the influence of the aristocracy—I cannot charge myself with having taken any course inconsistent with Conservative principles, calculated to endanger the privileges of any branch of the Legislature, or of any institutions of the country. My earnest wish has been, during my tenure of power, to impress the people of this country with a belief that the Legislature was animated by a sincere desire to frame its legislation upon the principles of equity and justice. I have a strong belief that the greatest object which we or any other Government can contemplate should be to elevate the social condition of that class of the people with whom we are brought into no direct relationship by the exercise of the elective franchise. I wish to convince them that our object has been so to apportion taxation, that we shall relieve industry and labour from any undue burden, and transfer it, so far as is consistent with the public good, to those who are better enabled to bear it. I look to the present peace of this country; I look to the absence of all disturbance—to the non-existence of any commitment for a seditious offence; I look to the calm that prevails in the public mind; I look to the absence of all disaffection; I look to the increased and growing public confidence on account of the course you have taken in relieving trade from restrictions, and industry from unjust burdens; and where there was dissatisfaction I see contentment, where there was turbulence I see there is peace; where there was disloyalty I see there is loyalty; I see a disposition to confide in you, and not to agitate questions that are at the foundations of your institutions. Deprive me of power to-morrow, you can never deprive me of the consciousnes that I have exercised the powers committed to me from no corrupt or interested motives—from no desire to gratify ambition, or attain any personal object; that I have laboured to maintain peace abroad consistently with the national honour, and defending every public right—to increase the confidence of the great body of the people in the justice of your decisions, and by the means of equal law to dispense with all coercive powers—to maintain loyalty to the Throne, and attachment to the Constitution, from a conviction of the benefit that will accrue to the great body of the people.


Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman having made an insinuation against me, which the cheer of his supporters opposite showed to me had conveyed a very erroneous impression, I think the House will feel that under these circumstance it is not presumptuous in me to ask a moment's attention to a subject so peculiarly personal as the insinuation of the right hon. Gentlemen. I understand the insinuation of the right hon. Gentleman, if it meant anything, to be this—that my opposition, or, as he called it, my envenomed opposition to him, was occasioned by my being disappointed of office. Now, having been for five years in opposition to the late Government, an active, though I well know not an influential, supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, and having been favoured by him with an acknowledgment of his sense of my slight services, I do not think there would have been anything dishonourable for me if, when the new Government was formed in 1841, I had been an applicant for office. It might have been in good taste or not, but at least there would have been nothing dishonourable; but I can assure the House nothing of the kind ever occurred. I never shall—it is totally foreign to my nature—make an application for any place. But in 1841, when the Government was formed—I am sorry to touch upon such a matter, but insinuations have been made by paragraphs in the newspapers, and now by charges in this House—I have never adverted to the subject, but when these charges are made, I must—in 1841, when the Government was formed, an individual possessing, as I believe him to possess, the most intimate and complete confidence of the right hon. Gentleman, called on me and communicated with me. There was certainly some conversation—I have certainly never adverted to these circumstances, and should not now unless compelled, because they were under a seal of secrecy confined in me. There was some communication, not at all of that nature which the House perhaps supposes between the right hon. Gentleman and me, but of the most amicable kind. I can only say this—it was a transaction not originated by me, but which any Gentleman, I care not how high his honour or spirit, might entertain to-morrow. I need not go into my conduct consequent on that occasion. If I took my course in this House, according to the malevolent insinuations made, I do not mean by the right hon Gentleman, but by others, and now they are sneered at by him. ["Oh, oh!"] Some person says, "Oh, oh." If I thought the majority of the House believed that I was under the influence of motives of this character when I rose, I certainly should never rise again in this House. ["Question!"] This is the question—it is a fair personal explanation. I say a communication was made to me—not authorized by the right hon. Gentleman—he is not fond of authorizing people—but a communication was made to me—though no doubt there may have been mistakes and misconceptions. But with reference to the course I afterwards followed, I declare I never took a decided step until my constituents, in consequence of the pledges I had given in 1843, called upon me for a definite explanation of my opinions on the question of protection. This was two years after the circumstance of which I have spoken took place. I then gave a silent vote against the policy of the right hon. Gentleman. The year after that I opposed him, but no one could call it an envenomed opposition. The instant I did that these rumours were circulated. The right hon. Gentleman, I dare say, alluded in a moment of inadvertence or great irritation to this subject. ["Oh, oh!"] To me it is perfectly immaterial, whatever he may have intended. There is a line between public and private communications. It was not till I took that line that these rumours were circulated. A Gentleman, a Member of this House, who has allowed me to mention his name, told me that a Member of the Government—I believe a Member of the Government—told him that a Cabinet Minister had a letter in his pocket from me, asking for the Ministry at Madrid, and that it would be read aloud the next time I attacked the Government. These rumours were always circulated—they were put forward directly or indirectly—but I can say that I never asked a favour of the Government, not even one of those mechanical things which persons are obliged to ask; yet these assertions were always made in that way, though I never asked a favour; and, as regards myself, I never, directly or indirectly, solicited office. Anything more unfounded than the rumour circulated to-night, that my opposition to the right hon. Gentleman has ever been influenced by such considerations, there cannot be. [Interruption.] If my explanation be not satisfactory, it is only because I am prevented from making it. But I have only one observation to make. It is very possible if, in 1841, I had been offered office, I dare say it would have been a very slight office, but I dare say I should have accepted it. I have not that high opinion of myself as to suppose that the more important offices of the Government would have been offered to my acceptance; but I can only say I am very glad I did not accept it. But with respect to my being a solicitor of office, it is entirely unfounded. Whatever occurred in 1841 between the right hon. Gentleman and myself was entirely attributable to the intervention of another Gentleman whom I supposed to be in the confidence of the right hon. Baronet, and I dare say it may have arisen from a misconception. But I do most unequivocally, and upon my honour, declare that I never have for a moment been influenced by such considerations in the House.


The hon. Gentleman has not correctly stated that which I said. I did not say that he was influenced in his opposition by personal motives. The words I said were these: "If he, reviewing my political life previously to 1841, which was of the duration of thirty years, really believed that I deserved the character he gave of me to-night, that then it was not right that in 1841 he should accept me as a leader, and not only accept me as a leader, but that he should have intimated to me that he was not unwilling to give that proof of confidence that would have been implied by the acceptance of office."


Sir, the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government has appealed to the cheapness of food for the last three or four years, and to the measures that have been adopted for removing restriction upon articles chiefly entering into the consumption of the people as the cause for that cheapness. I admit that the greater command of the necessaries of life, which I am glad to hear the people of this country have enjoyed during the last few years, has contributed much, perhaps more than anything, to their happiness, contentment, and morality. But, Sir, I maintain that this improvement in the condition of the people, has not arisen from any great importation of foreign corn—for that cheapness and that plenty we are indebted in the first place to the bounty and blessing of that Great Being whom it is not the fashion of Her Majesty's Ministers to mention, unless it is to couple the name of Providence with the calamity that has lately visited Ireland. I appeal, Sir, to her Majesty's Speech from the Throne as a proof that I have not exaggerated the statement of the Ministers. Sir, since 1842, there have been imported into this country in the course of the last four years, 4,900,000 quarters of corn—a quantity not upon an average exceeding that imported in previous years. But in the years 1844 and 1845 there were no such great importations of foreign corn; and it is to the abundant nature of the harvest, to the great plenty of homegrown corn, and because we were under no necessity to send some 10,000,000l. to foreign countries to buy the corn the produce of these countries — it is to these causes, and to the consequent abundance of money in this country, that we are to ascribe in a great measure the speculation in railways, and the increased employment to various classes in this country. I appeal to every man who knows any thing of the commercial state of this country to say, whether it was not to railways, to the employment of the people, and the increased rate of wages, that the great prosperity of the last few years is to be ascribed? Sir, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department has said, that this is not an exclusively agricultural country; I presume, Sir, it is as much an agricultural country now as on the 10th of June last year. When answering the speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers), the right hon. Baronet said, there were not more than one-third of the people engaged in agricultural pursuits. The right hon. Baronet made this statement upon the occasion I have referred to; but, perhaps he will permit me to remind him that he left out of his calculation the whole of the population of Ireland—eight millions of the Irish people, who, he has said, depend altogether upon agricultural pursuits, and are engaged in no other produce than that of food, and who have no other means of subsistence than that derived from raising corn and food. Sir, an attempt has been made now to state, that we have become not an agricultural, but altogether a manufacturing country. No doubt a large portion of the people are engaged in manufactures; but those who derive a subsistence from agricultural pursuits, are far greater in number. The largest number that has ever been ascribed as being engaged in manufactures does not exceed 100,000, and 200,000 in mines and employed in the manufacture of metals. Now, what is the number of those said to be engaged in agriculture? Why, Sir, exclusive of the eight millions which, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department says, depend for subsistence upon agriculture in Ireland, there are 800,000 labourers engaged in agriculture. We are told that in advocating this measure we are actuated by selfish motives. Why, Sir, have those who made that imputation for a moment considered how many persons are engaged, in addition to the labourers, in the cultivation of the soil? Hon. Gentlemen opposite would fain have it supposed that the Members of the House of Commons, and perhaps those of the House of Peers, are the only persons whose interests are involved in the maintenance of protection to agriculture. Now, Sir, I should be glad to know how many other persons are interested in protection to British agriculture. Upon reference to returns made in the year 1812, I find of the occupiers of land paying a rent under 66l. 13s. 4d. each, there were no fewer than 114,000 persons. There were of those assessed under 200l., 400,000 more, and altogether 578,000 persons assessed under 200l. per annum. Why, Sir, are not the hon. Gentlemen who charge the Members of this and the other House with being the only persons interested in maintaining protection to agriculture, aware, that the landed aristocracy cannot fall without those 578,000 persons and their families, and the 3,000,000 of persons, exclusive of agricultural labourers, falling with them? And what are the numbers of those of greater fortune? There were, in the year 1812, 42,000 persons dependent upon agriculture who were assessed at sums exceeding 200l. per annum. Is it not, then, absurd for hon. Gentlemen to say that we are only looking to our own interests? Sir, we are advocating the cause of the largest class in this country; but while we are advocating the cause of the great and important agricultural interests, we are not attempting to introduce any measures hostile to the cause of manufactures. I am aware that manufacturers, by purchasing foreign corn, may induce the countries producing that corn to take extensively in return their manufactured articles; but when we look to the corn-growing countries on the one hand, and to our commercial relations on the other, there is no foundation for cherishing a hope of a great increase of trade with them. Look at Russia. You already take from Russia five millions of her produce, while she only takes two millions from you in return. Already, therefore, if it be a question of ability to purchase, Russia would have no difficulty on that head. [Cries of "Adjourn!"] I understood it was the general wish of the House that the debate should be concluded to-night. I am always sorry to trespass upon the attention of the House; but I assure you that in claiming this kind indulgence now, I am only actuated by that which I consider to be a binding obligation. I have alluded also to Prussia. Prussia takes two millions sterling a year produce; while you take from her between two and three millions. If you import great quantities of corn from Prussia, the right hon. Gentleman has told you that it cannot be done without great displacement of the labour of our own people; and what hope have you that either Russia or Prussia will take your manufactures in return? What is the case, again, with the United States of America? From the United States your imports, at the lowest computation, amount to something like 10,000,000l. a year; but they only take from you, in return, about 7,000,000l. thus sending 3,000,000l. more than she takes. And where is the hope that, for every pound's worth of corn you take from America, she will take a pound's worth of your cotton in return? But what is the state of the foreign trade? The entire amount of your foreign exports does not exceed in value one-third of the whole manufactures of this country. But the whole consumption of foreign goods is at least double that of your entire exports to foreign countries—and more than one-half of that is exported to countries that do not yield any corn in exchange. The entire consumption of manufactures of all kinds in this country, in your home market, does not fall short of 195,000,000l. sterling per annum; and if such be the case, surely it is elear that your home market, exclusive of your Colonies, ought to be of more consideration than your foreign market. But there are other circumstances and other interests also to be taken into account. There is, for instance, the shipping interest. You have engaged, in the coasting corn trade alone, no fewer than from 40,000 to 50,000 seamen annually, whilst your foreign trade only employs a small proportion of your carrying trade. Last year there were only 5,000 seamen engaged in the foreign corn carrying trade, whilst the seamen of foreign nations engaged in it amounted to 9,000l. But are the seamen alone concerned? I would ask the publicans, victuallers, and shopkeepers of our seaport towns, whether the arrival of a foreign ship, carrying corn, or of a British vessel, in their harbours, caused the larger expenditure of money among them in the purchase of such articles as might be required? Depend upon it, the more this subject is considered the clearer will it appear that there will be many that will suffer by this change, in addition to the agricultural interest itself — many who are not seen in the cursory glance which we are apt to take of this question. Again, no fewer than 11,600 seamen were engaged for nine months of last year in the importation of guano; and if you thus proceed to discourage agriculture, do you think that any more guano will be purchased? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on a former occasion, appealed, as an evidence that there existed no alarm in respect of those measures of the Government, to the fact of the introduction of a Bill which bore my name on the back of it, for the recovery of 30,000 or 40,000 acres of land from the encroachment of the sea. But when was it that that measure originated? In 1837; and it was only at the end of the year 1844 that there was reason to believe that the work to be undertaken under that Bill would be carried into execution, and at that time I had good reason to confide in the stability and permanence of the then existing system. It is the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary—he who took so prominent a part in displacing from power the Whig Government in 1841—he it is who said, "Thank God, we are about to be relieved from the curse of so reckless a Government!" and turned out the Whigs because they advocated a fixed duty of an amount so low as 8s. a quarter—he it is who subsequently withdrew, after having accepted office, to his constituents at Dorchester, and then put up that celebrated invocation— May I be cold before that dreadful day, Pressed by a load of monumental clay! And am I, the proposer of the measure to which the right hon. Baronet has referred—I, who was the chairman of the company that originated this scheme—I, who had placed my confidence in the right hon. Gentleman, and who had followed him through evil report and good report for eighteen years, until now, when I felt I could no longer do so consistently with my political honour—am I to be told now, that my having introduced the Bill to which he refers is a proof of the confidence we entertain in the present Government? I can tell the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham, this—that there was great hesitation as to whether we should proceed with the measure or not at the time; and I do not doubt, that were it not from that natural frailty of human nature which induces people so frequently to send good money after bad, we should, after having expended no less than 20,000l., have abandoned the measure altogether. But these, Sir, are some of the fallacies on which Her Majesty's Government consents to support free-trade measures. But this is not all. The noble Lord the Member for Falkirk (Lord Lincoln) has appealed to the increased amount for which property, as he states, now sells, as a proof of the confidence of the country in these free-trade measures. On the hustings at Newark, when he was a candidate for South Nottinghamshire, the noble Lord told the electors of that district, and, through them, told the country, that there was a property which, having been purchased for 3,800l., had been sold, on the Friday preceding the day on which he was addressing the electors, for as much as 5,500l. Now, this property was purchased originally by a gentleman named Taylor, who is now dead, for the sum of 3,586l. 2s. 6d. If it was true that this property, which originally sold, as the noble Lord says, for 3,800l., had been enhanced in value by these free-trade measures, there would have been some reason for the reference which has been made to it. But it has been no such thing. This property was, in reality, purchased originally for 3,586l. 2s. 6d. I wish to be accurate, and have no desire to quote wrong figures, or produce erroneous returns—and there was another property bought and added to it, to the amount of 780l.; but when the whole together came again to be sold, it realized, not 5,500l., but no more than 4,700l. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government has asked us tonight why we did not object sooner to his policy, and said that the year 1842 was the period at which we ought to have opposed his measures. But, Sir, I do not know why we should have done so in 1842. True it was, that in opposing the Government of the Queen in 1841 the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) thanked God that he had pinned his opponents to something out of which they could not wriggle—viz., a fixed duty of 8s.; but whilst the right hon. Baronet pledged himself to the sliding-scale, as giving a higher protection than an 8s. duty, he said that we were giving an effectual protection to Ireland, in addition to this country and many other interests it contained. Now, this is a proof that, at the time to which I refer, the right hon. Baronet thought that you could not injure agriculture without, at the same time, injuring the manufacturers of this country. He referred to the time of distress at Paisley; but I thought, Sir, that it was exactly about the time of his Corn Bill of 1842 that this season of distress occurred; and, therefore, if he could pass a law at a time when Paisley was in that state, what, let me ask, could happen in Paisley worse than what did happen at the time I speak of; and what could there be to prevent him from maintaining that law, particularly when he had a majority of 90 at his back? Why, Sir, very significant signs—I do not refer to the recent elections that have taken place, but very significant signs were given in the country not very long since, that there would have been confidence in the right hon. Gentleman's Government so long as he maintained protection to agriculture. In Warwickshire an election took place, at which even the Whig candidate dared not to abstain from a profession of support of the agricultural interest—an election which ended in the return of my noble Friend (Lord Brooke), who does his constituents so much honour. There was no opposition, though it was so near to those free-trade towns, Birmingham and Coventry. I think that was a pretty good proof that in Warwickshire there was no unfavourable feeling to agriculture. Then there was another election at Wigan, a manufacturing town, and that was carried by a Protectionist Member. But was there not another striking example? Was not my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland elected—and did not my hon. Friend come forward at Sunderland, on the distinct ground of protection to British industry, and protection to agricultural interest. There he fought the battle—there he met the hon. Members for Durham and Stockport. All the power of the League was brought to bear upon him, but it was brought to bear in vain. The principles of protection prevailed, and so they would again if Her Majesty's Ministers would appeal to the country. But they dare not appeal to the country. There was a time when the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Ministry took a different view of the feelings of honour which ought to influence a Member of Parliament. In 1829, when he differed in opinion from his constituents in Oxford on bringing forward his Bill for Catholic Emancipation, he then felt it to be his first duty to resign the trust which they had committed to his hands. Though he had given no pledge, yet he had accepted it on an honourable understanding that he would support the principles of Protestant ascendancy. If a feeling of honour bound him then, how comes it that the same feeling of honour does not bind him now? Is it that he is aware that the constituencies of the country—the English constituencies—do not like vacillation—that they do not like tergiversation; and that it is from the hateful experience of those results in one instance, he does not think it safe to try another, either in his own person or in that of his supporters? This measure may be carried. It is not carried yet though. But when the fatal stroke comes—it will not come, it never could come, from its real enemies—it will come, if it comes at all, from its false friends; and it will come in a manner which, in my opinion, will reflect lasting disgrace upon the House and upon the Government. We hear something of justice now from the right hon. Baronet; but he has a Colleague who sits with him in the Cabinet, though he has not a seat in this House, who took a different view of the question of justice in 1843. Mr. Secretary Gladstone said, in 1843, that the Corn Law was a compromise with the agricultural interest, and that it could not be broken without injustice—that it was held to be a final adjustment of the question; and that to dispute that adjustment would be dishonourable to Parliament. But now that right hon. Gentleman consents to sit side by side in the Cabinet with the right hon. Baronet, whose conduct he condemns as dishonourable to the Government, and dishonourable to Parliament. We are told by hon. Gentlemen—we are told by the placemen—the renegade placemen who support Her Majesty's Ministers, we are told by one and all of them, that, as if by some miracle, new convictions had crossed their minds, and that they now entertain a conscientious conviction that their old opinions were wrong. I think that the country will look round about and consider whether there may not have been other inducements besides those of their miraculous conversions. The country will look to the party, and they will find that out of a party numbering 352 Members, there were about 40 placemen, and that of those 40 placemen there were but four honourable exceptions who remained firm and steadfast to their opinions. We have heard something about sincerity from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He said, Let us be sincere. Sir, I wish he were sincere. I wish that he were sincere in all those professions which he has so eloquently made on former occasions in this House. But when we talk of sincerity, no man who heard them can doubt of the sincerity of my noble Friend the Member for Stamford and my hon. Friend the Member for Wenlock, who made great sacrifices, who sacrificed place and favour, to resist the measures of the right hon. Baronet. Sir, when the country looks round and sees that of the forty placemen, only one in ten did not change their opinions, whilst of the remaining 312 Gentlemen, who had not the inducements of place, no less than 240 remained true to their opinions, they will think that there is something more than sincerity in this change of opinions on the part of hon. Members. Sir, if this measure be carried, it will not be carried as a trophy of the victory of any sound political principle; it will not be carried as the trophy of the victory of any honest policy; but it will be carried as a badge of the treachery of Her Majesty's Ministers.


said, that the noble Lord had commenced his speech by an assertion somewhat presumptuous—that he and his party had a higher regard for religion and honour than the rest of the House: in both respects he must dispute that title. The noble Lord insinuated that when the Government referred the recent improvement of the people to the cheapness of food, they forgot that this cheapness was to be traced to the bounty of Providence—an influence which he said the Ministers had been much disposed of late to forget. He (Mr. Villiers) considered, on the contrary, that this disregard of the bounty of Providence was directly chargeable upon the noble Lord and his party. It was the bounty of Heaven, in this country and abroad, with which Gentlemen opposite were always warring. The noble Lord says, that he is glad when cheapness comes from abundance in this country, and admits the blessing it confers on the people. But the noble Lord knows nothing of the history of his subject, or the objects of his party, if he believes that such was, or had ever been, their view of cheapness and plenty. The law was passsd to prevent cheapness; and whenever it failed in its object, his party had never omitted to complain of it as an evil. Let the noble Lord ask the hon. Member for Somerstshire if he could deny this? The hon. Member for Somersetshire had, but without reference to its cause, distinctly and often complained of the fact of cheap food, though he never had attempted to deny the blessing it was of to the people. It was then of the bounty of Providence that they complained; and what was it that the noble Lord had been doing himself for so many weeks past, but complain of the abundance of other countries which, by free trade, might be made accessible to the people of this country? But was abundance abroad not equally the bounty of Providence as the abundance at home? And when the Ministers had proposed a measure giving the people access to it, and the noble Lord tried to defeat that measure, were they or the noble Lord with most justice chargeable with indifference to the gifts of Providence? It was precisely to enable the people to enjoy these blessings that we had been labouring so long; and when the hon. Member for Shrewsbury said that they had abandoned all their leading positions, one of which was to make the necessaries of life abundant, which he calls the cry of "cheap bread," he (Mr. Villiers) told him that there was no foundation for such a statement; and he reflected upon it with satisfaction that, during the annual discussion which for nine years past had taken place on this question, there was no fact, no argument, no opinion that he had ever stated in support of the question that was not now recognised as true, or that he had reason to retract. They had been admitted to be sound by the measure itself before the House, and the arguments by which it had been supported; but above all, by their having, during the long and dreary debates of this Session, received no answer or refutation from the Gentlemen opposite. It had been shown how the law had failed in all its pretences of advantage, and how it had verified every prediction of mischief which would follow from it. Gentlemen opposite could have no better proof of their failure than the fact that the more they had spoken the more time they had wasted, the more they had alienated their partisans from them; and while there was no vestige of panic or alarm at the measure out of doors, there was as little interest taken in their proceedings against it within the House. There was one circumstance elicited during the debate that had shown the hollowness of all that had been said in favour of the law, and of the little reliance to be placed on it by its friends. He meant the admission that every party in the House would have been willing, upon the apprehended deficiency of food last October, to suspend the Corn Law, and to have considered that the cure for scarcity was to abolish the protection to agriculture—the law which was to produce plenty, and to save the country from scarcity. Yes! the whole House, it seems, deemed the remedy for a deficiency of food, was to abolish the Corn Law. He thought this was a most instructive circumstance, and could not be repeated too often, to show the value of protection; for, in the first place, he asked how this was to be justified to the farmers, who were promised protection against foreign competition? They were told that they could be protected consistently with the welfare of the community, and that they might rely upon its continuance. But how was it more just to them to suspend the law than to repeal it entirely? They are of course less prepared for it just after the harvest than at any other time; and if any loss was to follow from it, it would have been the farmers alone, and no one else, at that time, that would have felt it. Again, if this was the proper remedy last year, who can say it will not be equally required this year? And if the farmer must be subject in future to this suspension of the law, where was the worth of protection to him? But he asked attention to the fact that this was the remedy proposed when famine was expected. Now what was meant by famine? It only meant, in reality, that food would become comparatively scarce, and less accessible to a greater number of people than before; but for this evil every party in the House of Commons considered in last October that the remedy was to suspend the Corn Law! There was no doubt, then, that this would meet the evils of a scarcity of food, and prevent the people from starving, or resorting to coarser food; but if this is the remedy for food being too dear for a few more people than usual, why, he asked, was it not the remedy for the millions who are usually deprived of good and wholesome food on account of its dearness? It was apprehended from a scarcity in England, that perhaps one or two million would find it difficult to get good food; but that is habitually the case in Ireland. Why is not the remedy then which is good in this case for England to be deemed also good for Ireland, suffering as she does habitually from the same malady? When the Government, then, sees that we have to expect periodical scarcity in this country, and as the people increase, that we have to expect we shall be obliged constantly to suspend the Corn Law, what is it but wisdom and justice to all concerned, to remove altogether the barrier to a regular and plentiful supply, and dissipate the delusion under which those who depend on its continuance have ever been placed? It was for this reason that he considered the Ministerial measure an honest one, founded on all the evidence and experience which this country has had offered of its necessity, and one which promises nothing but advantage to the people. It was honestly intended; and Ministers have therefore had the advantage of being able to argue and defend it honestly, which they have done. Had it been founded on the notion that a tax or toll of ten or twenty per cent upon the entry of an article into this country could be imposed, without raising its cost to the consumer, or had it given any sanction to the fancy that a fixed impediment to commerce would not limit the supply because that impediment was fixed, and not fluctuating—or had it proceeded on the principle that food could be wisely taxed for revenue in this country, after the experience they had that whatever raised the price of food impairs the other sources of revenue, it would have been deemed a fraudulent and delusive measure, and would have failed to obtain the requisite support for its success. The measure has, however, wisely recognised the failure of the experiment of having a Corn Law at all in this country, and provided for its total abolition. The country was therefore under a deep obligation to the Government for the measure; and if there was anything that could enhance that obligation, it was the spirit, ability, and firmness with which it had been supported; and now he asked those hon. Gentlemen opposite to pause before they proclaimed themselves to the country, and transmitted their names to posterity, as having to the last endeavoured to withhold from the people the unquestionable right, the undoubted privilege and great advantage, of carrying the fruits of their industry to the highest market, and of allowing them the freest access to the bounties which Providence, through the industry of other nations, had provided for them. Let them reflect before they vote, that the law of which they are so tenacious has been discredited by all experience, denounced by every intelligent authority, and has, upon facts undisputed, because they are indisputable, been shown to have brought upon the poorest of our fellow creatures as much misery, affliction, destitution, and crime as was ever produced by any pestilence or calamity with which the country was visited. Let them pause then, he said, before they offer to the country and posterity no other or better testimony of their efforts in public life than that of endeavouring to withhold from them a great advantage, and to perpetuate on the poor an enormous wrong.

On the Question, that the word "now" stand part of the Question, the House divided: — Ayes 327; Noes 229: Majority 98.

List of the AYES.
Acheson, Visct. Baring, rt. hon. W. B.
Acland, T. D. Barnard, E. G.
A'Court, Capt. Barron, Sir H. W.
Aglionby, H. A. Beckett, W.
Ainsworth, P. Bellew, R. M.
Aldam, W. Benbow, J.
Anson, hon. Col. Berkeley, hon. C.
Armstrong, Sir A. Berkeley, hon. Capt.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Berkeley, hon. H. F.
Bernal, R.
Baillie, Col. Blake, M. J.
Baine, W. Blewitt, R. J.
Bannerman, A. Bodkin, W. H.
Barclay, D. Botfield, B.
Barkly, H. Bouverie, hon. E. P.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Bowes, J.
Bowles, Adm. Etwall, R.
Bowring, Dr. Evans, Sir De Lacy
Boyd, J. Evans, W.
Bridgeman R. Ewart, W.
Bright, J. Feilden, W.
Brocklehurst, J. Fielden, J.
Brotherton, J. Ferguson, Col.
Browne, R. D. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Browne, hon. W. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Bruce, Lord E. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Buckley, E. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Fleetwood, Sir P. H.
Buller, C. Flower, Sir J.
Busfeild, W. Forster, M.
Butler, hon. Col. Fox, C. R.
Butler, P. S. Gibson, T. M.
Byng, G. Gill, T.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Gisborne, T.
Cardwell, E. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Carew, hon. R. S. Godson, R.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Gore, M.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Gore, hon. R.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Chapman, B. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Granger, T. C.
Christie, W. D. Greene, T.
Clay, Sir W. Gregory, W. H.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Clive, hon. R. H. Grimsditch, T.
Cobden, R. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Guest, Sir J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hall, Sir B.
Collett, J. Hallyburton, Lord J. F. G.
Collins, W. Hamilton, W. G.
Copeland, Ald. Hamilton, Lord C.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hastie, A.
Craig, W. G. Hatton, Capt. Villiers
Crawford, W. S. Hawes, B.
Cripps, W. Hay, Sir A. L.
Currie, R. Hayter, W. G.
Curteis, H. B. Heathcoat, J.
Dalmeny, Lord Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Dalrymple, Capt. Heron, Sir R.
Damer, hon. Col. Hervey, Lord A.
Dashwood, G. H. Hill, Lord M.
Denison, J. E. Hindley, C.
Dennistoun, J. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T. Hogg, J. W.
Dickinson, F. H. Hollond, R.
Divett, E. Hope, G. W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Horsman, E.
Douro, Marq. of Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Drummond, H. H. Howard, hon. J. K.
Duff, J. Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Dugdale, W. S. Howard, P. H.
Duke, Sir J. Howard, Sir R.
Duncan, Visct. Hughes, W. B.
Duncan, G. Hume, J.
Duncannon, Visct. Humphery, Ald.
Duncombe, T. Hutt, W.
Dundas, F. James, W.
Dundas, D. James, Sir W. C.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Jermyn, Earl
Easthope, Sir J. Jervis, J.
Eastnor, Visct. Jocelyn, Visct.
Ebrington, Visct. Johnson, Gen.
Egerton, W. T. Johnstone, Sir J.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Johnstone, H.
Elphinstone, Sir H. Kelly, Sir F.
Escott, B. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Esmonde, Sir T. Lambton, H.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Langston, J. H.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Protheroe, E.
Layard, Capt. Pulsford, R.
Leader, J. T. Rawdon, Col.
Legh, G. C. Reid, Sir J. R.
Lemon, Sir C. Reid, Col.
Lincoln, Earl of Ricardo, J. L.
Lindsay, hon. Capt. Rice, E. R.
Loch, J. Rich, H.
Lockhart, A. E. Roebuck, J. A.
Lyall, G. Romilly, J.
Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B. Ross, D. R.
Mackinnon, W. A. Rumbold, C. E.
M'Carthy, A. Russell, Lord J.
M'Donnell, J. M. Russell, Lord E.
M'Geachy, F. A. Russell, J. D. W.
M'Neill, D. Rutherfurd, A.
M'Taggart, Sir J. Sandon, Visct.
Mahon, Visct. Scott, R.
Mainwaring, T. Scrope, G. P.
Maitland, T. Seymour, Lord
Mangles, R. D. Seymour, Sir H. B.
Marjoribanks, S. Smith, B.
Marshall, W. Smith, J. A.
Marsland, H. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Martin, J. Smythe, hon. G.
Martin, C. W. Smollett, A.
Masterman, J. Somers, J. P.
Matheson, J. Somerset, Lord G.
Meynell, Capt. Somerton, Visct.
Milnes, R. M. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Milton, Visct. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Mitcalfe, H. Stanton, W. H.
Mitchell, T. A. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Moffatt, G. Stewart, P. M.
Molesworth, Sir W. Stewart, J.
Morpeth, Visct. Stuart, Lord J.
Morris, D. Stuart, H.
Morison, Gen. Strickland, Sir G.
Morrison, J. Strutt, E.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Muntz, G. F. Tancred, H. W.
Napier, Sir C. Thesiger, Sir F.
Neville, R. Thornely, T.
Newry, Visct. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Tomline, G.
Northland, Visct. Towneley, J.
O'Connell, D. Traill, G.
O'Connell, M. J. Trelawny, J. S.
O'Connell, J. Trench, Sir F. W.
O'Conor Don Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Ogle, S. C. H. Tufnell, H.
Ord, W. Turner, E.
Owen, Sir J. Vane, Lord H.
Paget, Col. Vernon, G. H.
Paget, Lord W. Villiers, hon. C.
Paget, Lord A. Villiers, Visct.
Palmerston, Visct. Vivian, J. H.
Parker, J. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Patten, J. W. Wakley, T.
Pattison, J. Walker, R.
Pechell, Capt. Wall, C. B.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Warburton, H.
Peel, J. Ward, H. G.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Watson, W. H.
Pennant, hon. Col. Wawn, J. T.
Philips, G. R. Wellesley, Lord C.
Philipps, Sir R. B. P. Wilde, Sir T.
Phillpotts, J. Williams, W.
Pigot, rt. hon. D. Wilshere, W.
Plumridge, Capt. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Polhill, F. Wood, C.
Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A. C. Wood, Col.
Powell, C. Wood, Col. T.
Wrightson, W. B. TELLERS.
Wynn, rt. hn. C. W. W.
Wyse, T. Young, J.
Yorke, H. R. Baring, H. B.
List of the NOES.
Ackers, J. Davies, D. A. S.
Adare, Visct. Deedes, W.
Adderley, C. B. Denison, W. J.
Alexander, N. Denison, E. B.
Alford, Visct. Dick, Q.
Allix, J. P. Disraeli, B.
Antrobus, E. Dodd, G.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Douglas, Sir H.
Archbold, R. Douglas, J. D. S.
Archdall, Capt. M. Dowdeswell, W.
Arkwright, G. Drax, J. S. W.
Astell, W. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Austen, Col. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bagge, W. Duncombe, hon. O.
Bagot, hon. W. East, J. B.
Bailey, J. Eaton, R. J.
Bailey, J., jun. Egerton, Sir P.
Baillie, W. Emlyn, Visct.
Balfour, J. M. Entwisle, W.
Bankes, G. Farnham, E. B.
Barrington, Visct. Fellowes, E.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Ferrand, W. B.
Bell, M. Filmer, Sir E.
Bell, J. Finch, G.
Benett, J. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Bennet, P. Floyer, J.
Bentinck, Lord G. Forbes, W.
Bentinck, Lord H. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Blackburne, J. I. Forman, T. S.
Blackstone, W. S. Fox, S. L.
Blakemore, R. Frewen, C. H.
Boldero, H. G. Fuller, A. E.
Borthwick, P. Gardner, J. D.
Bradshaw, J. Gaskell, J. M.
Bramston, T. W. Gladstone, Capt.
Brisco, M. Gooch, E. S.
Broadley, H. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Broadwood, H. Gore, W. O.
Brooke, Lord Gore, W. R. O.
Brownrigge, J. S. Goring, C.
Bruen, Col. Granby, Marq. of
Buck, L. W. Grogan, E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Hale, R. B.
Burrell, Sir C. N. Halford, Sir H.
Burroughes, H. N. Hall, Col.
Campbell, Sir H. Halsey, T. P.
Carew, W. H. P. Hamilton, J. H.
Cayley, E. S. Hamilton, G. A.
Chandos, Marq. of Harcourt, G. G.
Chapman, A. Harris, hon. Capt.
Chelsea, Visct. Heathcote, G. J.
Cholmondeley, hon. H. Heathcote, Sir W.
Christopher, R. A. Heneage, G. H. W.
Churchill, Lord A. S. Heneage, E.
Chute, W. L. W. Henley, J. W.
Clayton, R. R. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Clifton, J. T. Hill, Lord E.
Clive, Visct. Hinde, J. H.
Codrington, Sir W. Hodgson, F.
Cole, hon. H. A. Holmes, hon. W. A.
Collett, W. R. Hope, Sir J.
Colquhoun, J. C. Hope, A.
Compton, H. C. Hotham, Lord
Conolly, Col. Houldsworth, T.
Courtenay, Lord Hudson, G.
Cresswell, B. Hurst, R. H.
Hussey, T. Rendlesham, Lord
Ingestre, Visct. Repton, G. W. J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Richards, R.
Irton, S. Rolleston, Col.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Round, C. G.
Jones, Capt. Round, J.
Kemble, H. Russell, C.
Kerrison, Sir E. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Knight, F. W. Sanderson, R.
Knightley, Sir C. Scott, hon. F.
Lascelles, hon. E. Seymer, H. K.
Law, hon. C. E. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Lawson, A. Sheppard, T.
Lefroy, A. Shirley, E. J.
Lennox, Lord G. H. G. Shirley, E. P.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Sibthorp, Col.
Lockhart, W. Smith, A.
Long, W. Smith, Sir H.
Lopes, Sir R. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Lowther, Sir J. H. Spooner, R.
Lowther, hon. Col. Spry, Sir S. T.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Stanley, E.
Mackenzie, T. Stuart, J.
Mackenzie, W. F. Taylor, E.
Manners, Lord C. S. Taylor, J. A.
Manners, Lord J. Thompson, Ald.
March, Earl of Thornhill, G.
Maunsell, T. P. Tollemache, J.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Tower, C.
Mildmay, H. St. J. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Miles, P. W. S. Trollope, Sir J.
Miles, W. Trotter, J.
Morgan, O. Turnor, C.
Morgan, C. Tyrrell, Sir J. T.
Mundy, E. M. Verner, Col.
Neeld, J. Vivian, J. E.
Neeld, J. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Newport, Visct. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Norreys, Lord Waddington, H. S.
O'Brien, A. S. Walpole, S. H.
Ossulston, Lord Walsh, Sir J. B.
Packe, C. W. Williams, T. P.
Pakington, J. S. Wodehouse, E.
Palmer, R. Worcester, Marq. of
Palmer, G. Worsley, Lord
Pigot, Sir R. Wyndham, J. H. C.
Plumptre, J. P. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Pollington, Visct. TELLERS.
Powell, C. Beresford, Major
Rashleigh, W. Newdegate, C. N.
Paired off (Non-Official).
Price, R. Ellis, W.
Lindsay, H. Listowel, Lord
Bruce, C. C. Maule, F.
Brooke, Sir A. Grattan, H.
Vesey, hon. T. O'Brien, C.
Bunbury, T. O'Ferrall, M.
Barneby, J. Fitzgerald, R.
Ffolliott, J. White, S.
Du Pre, G. C. Ellice, E., jun.
Bateson, T. Kirk, P.
Attwood, M. Wortley, rt. hon. J.
Wynn, Sir W. Oswald, A.
Hepburn, Sir T. Blake, Sir V.
Hodgson, R. Philips, M.
Sheridan, R. Langton, G.
Maclean, D. Whitmore, T.
Hampden, R. Praed, W.
Bruges, L. Baillie, H.
Baring, T. Egerton, Lord F.
Acton, Col. Macnamara, Major
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Osborne, Capt. B.
Bodkin, J. S. Power, J.
Buller, E. Price, Sir R.
Callaghan, D. Pryse, P.
Clements, Lord Redington, T. N.
Corbally, M. E. Roche, E. B.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Dundas, Adm. Shelburne, Earl of
French, F. Sheridan, R. B.
Hoskins, K. Standish, C.
Howard, hon. Capt. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Kelly, J. Stuart, W. V.
Maher, N. Talbot, C. R. M.
Martin, T. B. Tuite, H. M.
O'Brien, T. Wemyss, Capt.
O'Brien, J. Westenra, hon. Col. J. C.
O'Brien, W. S. White, H.
O'Connell, M.
Acland, Sir T. D. Ker, D. S.
Ashley, hon. H. Kirk, P.
Attwood, J. Leslie, C. P.
Baillie, H. J. Lindsay, H. H.
Baldwin, C. B. Marton, G.
Bernard, Lord Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Castlereagh, Visct. Oswald, A.
Colvile, C. R. Praed, W. T.
Coote, Sir C. H. Price, R.
Egerton, Lord F. Pusey, P.
Hamilton, C. J. B. Vesey, hon. T.
Hardy, J. Welby, G. E.
Hayes, Sir E. Whitmore, T. C.
Hornby, J. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Hussey, A. Wyndham, Col. C.

Main Question agreed to.

Bill read a Third Time and passed.


was understood to say, that, before the Bill passed, he was desirous of making a few remarks. ["Oh, oh!" "Order, order!" and great confusion.]


I had already put the question that "the Bill do pass" before the hon. Member rose. The Bill is now passed.


trusted the House would permit him to state the objections he entertained to the title which had been given to this Bill. ["Oh!" "Order!" and great confusion.] He begged to move that the House do adjourn. What did this Bill profess to do? ["Question!"] To displace the labour of our own hard-worked countrymen in order to give employment to foreign serfs. He thought the Bill ought to be called the Foreign Lands Improvement Bill. Fraudulent things and suspicious persons often had aliases, and he thought the measure ought also to be called the Ministerial Mutability and Consolidation Bill. He was sorry he was not able to catch the Speaker's eye before the division, or he should have moved that the Bill be entitled "The Foreign Lands Improvement Bill." The hon. Member concluded by withdrawing his Motion for adjournment.

House adjourned at a quarter past Four o'clock.

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