HC Deb 02 March 1847 vol 90 cc726-45

said: Sir, in moving for the returns of which I have given notice, I must commence by expressing my regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge should have thought that I was wanting in courtsey to him in calling his attention to the fact, that, in moving for these returns, it was my intention to make some comments upon that which I described to be a marvellous statement. Sir, it is extremely difficult when any Gentleman in this House has to apply the scourge, to make it pleasing to those on whom it may fall. Hit high or hit low it is all the same—it is very difficult to make it pleasing to the victim. But a statement has gone forth to the country, under the authority of an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, relative to the expenditure of railways in this country, which is so extraordinary, and, in my opinion, so calculated to foster an opinion in this country that large expenditure in railways does not conduce necessarily to the general prosperity, that I feel it my duty to enter into some details to prove that that statement is very far removed from the truth. It will be in the recollection of the House the statements which had gone forth to the country, and which could not have been originated in ignorance, that the expenditure on the London and Birmingham, the Grand Junction, the Great Western, the Brighton, the South Western, and the South Eastern Railways, was represented as having taken place "previous to the year 1841, years in which there was a great deficiency in the revenue of the country." These years of "great deficiency," previous to 1841, it is well known to the House, were the years 1839 and 1840, in each of which the deficiency in the revenue exceeded 1,500,000l. Yet the right hon. Gentleman's statement was this—that in the course of those years of "great deficiency," the expenditure on seven railways which the right hon. Gentleman named, exclusive of an expenditure of 10,000,000l. which had taken place on seven other railways which he did not name, amounted to no less a sum than 37,729,000l. Now, Sir, I think that if the country could be brought to believe that in the course of two years 37,729,000l. could be expended on seven railways alone, without producing great and manifest prosperity, it would be hopeless for me at any time to be able to persuade the Parliament of this country or the country itself to approve of appropriating large sums of money to stimulate private enterprise in the construction of railways in Ireland. Sir, this statement went forth, and it went forth on great authority, inasmuch as it proceeded not only from a Gentleman who had lately filled the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it was also propounded on the authority of the report of that Railway Committee of which that right hon. Gentleman was himself a Member, and this statement, at the time, was received with great cheers by this House. I shall now take the liberty to refer to this statement; and in doing so I shall commence with the London and Birmingham Railway, respecting which the right hon. Gentleman stated that, previous to the year 1841, 8,250,000l. had been expended. I am bound to say that that statement, on the very face of it, appears to me to be a surprising statement; and the more so as it fell from an individual who held the office he did under the late Government. True it is, that in the pages of this thick volume which I hold in my hand is to be found the statement that the London and Birmingham Railway Company had received authority from Parliament to raise 8,250,000l. If any Gentleman will take the trouble to look at page 407, he will find in the centre of that page, that the whole capital which the London and Birmingham Railway Company had been authorized to raise up to the year 1846, corresponded with the figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, viz., 8,250,000l. The very heading of the paragraph in which these figures are to be found, tells us that the Acts of Parliament under which that authority was given, amounted to no less than ten, six of which had been passed subsequently to the year 1840; and four alone passed previously to the year 1841. But, Sir, that is not all. At the very head of the column—at the very page from which the right hon. Gentleman took the statement he made—he would have seen that the whole cost of the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway amounted to 5,994,336l., so that I cannot help saying that the statement by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer was a most surprising one indeed. Well, Sir, I must proceed. The next railway, the right hon. Gentleman referred to was the Grand Junction Railway; on this railway, he stated 4,638,000l. had been expended, whilst in truth, it had cost but 1,921,496l. On the Great Western Railway, the right hon. Gentleman's statement was, that the expenditure amounted to 8,282,000l.; the expenditure up to the autumn of 1840 having only amounted to 4,108,000l. On the London and Brighton Railway, the right hon. Gentleman stated there had been expended 2,867,000l.; it had only cost 1,166,540l. On the South Western Railway, the right hon. Gentleman did not commit so great an error, the expenditure, as stated by him, being 2,600,000l.; it had been 2,254,386l. The right hon. Gentleman, however, acquired courage as he proceeded; for when he got to the South Western Railway, on which was expended 324,405l., he no longer contented himself with trebling or doubling, or multiplying sums, either two or three fold, but, with magnificent contempt, scorned such a simple process, rushed at once into decimals, and multiplied 324,405l. into 3,857,000l. Next we have the Midland Counties Railway, on which we were told was expended 7,235,000l.; whereas the expenditure on the Midland Counties Railway, had been 1,257,811l. But as I am willing to give the right hon. Gentleman credit for entire ignorance on all these subjects, I will assume, when he took the Midland Counties Railway, that he included the expenditure of the North Midland and Derby and Birmingham Railways, at a later period amalgamated with the Midland Counties Railway; but even were that so, still the entire expenditure from the very first commencement of those railways amounted only to 4,723,753l. Thus upon these seven railways, from their commencement in the year 1836, when they first obtained their Acts of Parliament, the entire expenditure upon the whole of them amounted to 20,437,115l.; while the right hon. Gentleman has sent forth the statement to the country, that the expenditure on these railways, in years of "great deficiency in the revenue," as he gave this House and the country to understand, was no less than 37,729,000l. That was the sum stated by him to have been expended on seven railways; so the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, you see, was wrong in his calculation to no less amount than 17,291,000l. If that be not a marvellous statement to come from a right hon. Gentleman who once held the high post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, I do not know what statement can be so termed; and after such a statement as this, I want to know what statement that right hon. Gentleman can make to this House or to the country that ought to be entitled to credit, or that could be trusted as a correct statement? But that is not the whole case, because the right hon. Gentleman, to answer my speech, came down to this House in the most deliberate manner, having with him the authority of this Railway Committee's report, of which Committee he himself was a member, and from that report made the statement that all this expenditure had taken place in those years when "great deficiency had occurred in the revenue." As the only years of that "great deficiency" were the years 1839 and 1840, the impression which was intended to go forth to the country was, that this large sum of 37,729,000l. was expended in the years 1839 and 1840; whereas I find that the entire sum which was expended in those two years on railways was but 9,708,997l.; therefore, taking that view of the question, the right hon. Gentleman is wrong, not to the amount of 17,000,000l., but to the amount of 28,000,000l.; and when we reflect that this statement was made after so much deliberation, and with all the pomp and circumstance of an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the report of the Committee of which he was a member in his hands—when we reflect on all the pains and trouble that had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman that his statement should go forth correctly to the country—when we see in the official organ of that party the figures arranged in methodical order, and in perpendicular columns, denoting they had come from an official source—I think the House will agree with me that I have not unduly occupied its time in showing the little reliance which can be placed on either the statistics or the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. I think when it goes forth to the public—when it goes forth to the country—when it goes forth to Ireland, that the pressure upon the Government, which was wavering whether or not to accept the measure which I propounded to the House, emanated from this same right hon. Gentleman, and that he it was who fixed the First Lord of the Treasury to a declaration that he would resist the second reading of that Bill—what a sad reflection must it be to the people of Ireland to think that Her Majesty's Government should allow themselves to be led by such a "blind guide" as this! I have stated that the years 1839 and 1840 were the years, the first years, of a great deficiency in the revenue. True it is there was a deficiency of 655,000l. in the year 1837, and of 345,000l. in the year 1838; but that deficiency arose from a reduction of taxes of upwards of 930,000l., and not at all from the ill condition of the country; but in the year 1841 that deficiency increased to 2,100,000l., and in 1842 to 3,979,000l. Was there, I would ask, in those two years a greater expenditure of money on railways? Far from it. I find that in the course of those two years there was expended on the London and Birmingham Railway 255,625l.; on the Great Western, 2,043,800l.; on the London and Brighton, 1,480,466l; on the South Western, 539,614l.; on the South Eastern, 2,171,595l.; on the North Midland Company, including Birmingham and Derby, 1,518,547l.; the Grand Junction Railway, 272,313l., showing an aggregate of 8,282,000l., or an average of about 4,000,000l. a year expended on railways. I think, therefore, I have given a complete refutation to the statement which was brought forward on the authority of the right hon. Gentleman; and I must say, that when it goes forth to the country that the right hon. Gentleman added the extravagant amount of 17,000,000l., according to one calculation, and 28,000,000l. according to another calculation, let him put the best face he can on the matter, as to his argument or his deductions from that argument, on the expenditure of the seven railways, I am justified in coming to the conclusion that it cannot be said to be a mere "trick of the trade," neither can it be looked upon as no more than poetical licence, or a rhetorical artifice; but that it must be pronounced to be by others what I have already designated it—one of the most marvellous statements that ever was made to this House, or that ever was made to the country by any Gentleman who ever held so high an office under Her Majesty's Government as that so lately enjoyed by the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. I now beg leave to move for a Return— Showing the amount of money expended in the actual cost of construction and of working stock (including locomotive engines, carriages, tools, &c.) of all Railways in Great Britain and Ireland, in each triennial period, previous to the 1st day of January respectively, in the years 1841, 1844, and 1847. Also a Return, showing the sums of money actually expended by the following Railway Companies previous to 1841:—London and Birmingham, Grand Junction, Great Western, Brighton, South Western, South Eastern, and Midland. Likewise the aggregate sum expended by the above-mentioned railway companies, in each year previous to 1841.


I regret that I have been the innocent cause of inflicting upon the House a somewhat lengthened speech in support of a return to which, I believe, no individual in the House is inclined to offer any objection. But I can, I think, satisfy the House that it is not owing to me, or any statement coming from me, that they are subjected to that inconvenience. If, on the occasion when I delivered the explanation which the noble Lord has thought it his duty to notice, he had availed himself of the privilege he then enjoyed—the House being in Committee—of observing upon any error in the statement I had made, or, labouring under any misapprehension with regard to it, had asked for an explanation, I should have been ready on the instant to have given him that explanation which I am now about to give, and thus might have prevented the necessity of taking up a separate day with a separate discussion on the subject. The noble Lord has said that those who have been Chancellors of the Exchequer, and made erroneous statements and calculations, are bound to suffer the penalty of being deemed unworthy of their office. I again may say, that those who expect to be Chancellors of the Exchequer, and make gross misrepresentations of what falls from Gentlemen in debate, and found upon those misrepresentations imputations of falsehood or error—those by whom much things are asserted, are not very fit for the office they are thought to aspire to. With this observation I shall state to the House what it was I did say on the occasion to which the noble Lord refers, and then what I have to state in vindication, both of the entire truth of the statement I am making, and the force of the argument I used. The noble Lord says, that in making that statement I was particularly unpardonable, because I was referring to what had occurred three weeks before; but I am afraid he imputed to me a practice he appears himself to have pursued, of taking some days before he follows a statement which has been made. If there are Gentlemen in the House, who were present on the former occasion, they will know that what I stated on the discussion on the budget in this House, was in strict reply to the speeches made on that very evening before me, and had no reference whatever to arguments used in the former debate, to which the noble Lord adverted. Now, if he will give me permission, I will exactly state what was the course of argument on that occasion, and the statements I made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in opening his budget, had adverted to the revenue of the years 1842, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, and had, after stating with respect to a number of articles that there had been a progressive increase in the consumption of many, attributed that—and in my mind justly—to the changes made in the commercial policy of the country. The noble Lord, in the course of the speech he then delivered, animadverted upon the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and made observations the tendency of which was to show that that right hon. Gentleman had falsely attributed this increase to the alteration in the financial policy of the country, and that it was attributable to the employment of labour in the construction of railways. I have a note of what fell from the noble Lord on that occasion; and he said, "What had free trade to do with that result? It was railway enterprise that had done it." I took the liberty—for liberty it is in the noble Lord's opinion—to animadvert, in my observations, upon the arguments the noble Lord had used; but I meant nothing like personal offence to him in any observations I might use; nothing that would justly call for expressions such as the noble Lord has used to-night, which I am willing to suppose must have arisen from excited feeling. And I said, in answer to that statement of the noble Lord, that you also had railways going on to a considerable extent at periods when there was a deficiency of the revenue on several years. And having stated that as the outline of my argument, I adduced in support of it a document taken from the report of the Railway Committee. The noble Lord said I confined my observations to the years 1839 and 1840; and he afterwards said, in another part of his speech, that these were the only two years in which there was a great deficiency. Why, in his own speech the noble Lord afterwards stated that in 1841 there was a deficiency of about two millions, and that in 1842 there was deficiency of about three millions; and in antecedent years to which he thought fit to fix my statement, for the object of this evening's debate, there was an equal deficiency. The statement I made was, that there had been great railway expenditure in years of deficiency; that therefore, if railways were the cause of prosperity, the railways would not have coexisted with the deficiency that was found to exist in those six years, during which there was a deficiency; and the noble Lord then said I made a statement of what certain railway companies had expended in the course of those years. I did no such thing. I stated to the House—and so it is that I find my statement reported in what we are not at liberty to advert in this House, except incidentally—I refer to those memoranda of our debates which convey them in some degree to the public—I find that what I stated is there correctly given, and that what I said was, that the sums raised for railways that were in progress, or in the course of completion during the years of deficiency, amounted in the whole to the sum which I then mentioned, and which the noble Lord admitted to the House, and which it is unnecessary to go through in detail, but the total amount of which reached about 47,700,000l. I stated this, and I did not leave the House to be in doubt as to the quarter from which I derived my information. I stated to the House distinctly that those were sums that had been raised for the railways in question, and they were stated in a report made to this House in the year 1846 by the Committee which was called the Morrison Committee. The noble Lord has endeavoured to fix a charge upon me, that I stated they were sums expended in the years 1839 and 1840. I said no such thing; but I said what that blue book said, that they were the sums which were raised up to that date for the purpose of completing the railways in question. The noble Lord said, if I looked at this paper that I should have seen those were the sums to be raised. I do look at the paper, and I find that a company had raised a capital of 8,250,000l. I have no doubt that if I were addressing an assembly that was not in the habit of considering subjects of this nature, I should be more particular in my observations, and explain that although that company had raised 8,250,000l. it was clear they did not expend it all in one year; and I should not leave them to make the speculation which the noble Lord has put into my mouth. Now, there are two ways of addressing this House: one way is of addressing it as an educated assembly, which can themselves supply the obvious topics that are suggested in the course of an argument. There is another mode also of addressing the House; that is, to go through every point of detail; to weary the attention of the House by going through every minute point which every man's intelligence would suggest to him. If I prefer the former mode, and do not think fit to take the latter, it is because I do not wish to make my speech more tedious than is necessary. When I saw the Birmingham Company had raised 8,250,000l. for the purposes of the railway, could any person so misunderstand the ordinary meaning of that statement, as to suppose that the whole sum was to be applied in one year? The whole imputation that rests upon me is, that the noble Lord put into my mouth a statement I never made. He said I stated to the House that those sums were expended in the course of two years, the only years of deficiency. I stated no such thing. My argument applied to the whole of the years of deficiency, beginning in 1839, and ending in 1843, and to the sums raised for the railways to which he was addressing himself. So far the statement I made was literally true, and is not capable of contradiction by any man who looks into the subject. But then the noble Lord said I used this argument unfairly, and that I intended to impress upon the House that there was a considerable expenditure for railways during the time the revenue was deficient. It is not very easy for an individual who has not had the able assistance of the hon. Member for Sunderland, to know precisely the amount that may be expended within a given period upon a particular line of railway; and therefore I do not take shame to myself for not being able to state to the House the actual sum expended within the period to which I refer. I could only deduce it from the statement I made to the House; the House could itself deduce it from the same source; and it was for them to judge how much of the 47,000,000l. were expended within the period to which I was referring. That it could not be an inconsiderable portion was obvious; for in that period all the great lines that connect the metropolis with the country, were the lines that were completed; and two of the lines going to the north were at that period also completed; and therefore a considerable portion of the whole expenditure must have occurred in the period when the deficiency was accruing in the revenue. But this is not my opinion alone. It rests upon the authority of other opinions than mine. A return was presented, to Parliament in the year 1846, which stated the sum the different railway companies were empowered to raise, and which in 1839 was taken to amount to 57,700,000l.; that was two years after the commencement of the deficiency. A considerable portion of that sum, therefore, fell within the period to which I have been adverting; but there is another evidence to which I would refer on this particular point, because it is evidence to which the noble Lord will, I think, pay as much credit as I pay. It was a statement made in 1844, on an examination that took place before a Select Committee on Railways. Mr. Laing was asked, "What has been the whole amount that was laid out in the construction of railways?" And Mr. Laing stated, "The whole sum now is 64,000,000l." This was in the year 1844, the expiration of the period to which I am referring; and though I deduct the railways that were completed previous to 1837, of which I have no distinct account, I do arrive at an amount of payments on account of railway construction between 1837 and 1844 which goes to justify the statement upon which the whole of my argument was founded; namely, that coexistent with a deficiency of revenue, there was a large expenditure in railway speculation, and consequently that I could not justly attribute the whole increase of the revenue that took place to the sums that were expended in railway speculations. I will put it to any hon. Members of the House who heard the statement I made on the occasion, whether I have not given an explicit account of what I stated. I would refer them to the means that exist of ascertaining what was said, and in which, though sometimes more shortly than it is uttered, the substance is generally correctly given of what falls from hon. Gentlemen in this House—I will refer them to that as in every respect establishing what I have said, and as justifying the statement I made, and the argument I deduced from it. The noble Lord is perfectly at liberty to put words into my mouth, and to deal with them as a trick of trade or a rhetorical artifice, and to apply to them any expression he pleases. If the language were mine, I might really feel hurt at those expressions; but when they are addressed to the language of the noble Lord himself, which is totally different from any that fell from me, I merely ask the House to decide to whom these terms are most justly applicable—whether to the individual whose statements are misrepresented, or to the individual who makes the misrepresentation.


said, that it was the intention of his noble Friend to have referred to the mis-statements at an earlier period had he had an opportunity of so doing; and that must account for the delay of which the right hon. Gentleman had complained. He hoped that the House would allow him to make a few observations on the Motion before the House, because he was present when the original debates which had been alluded to took place. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge express his belief, that his noble Friend, in bringing this subject before the House, was influenced by personal feeling or irritation. His noble Friend justly felt that this was a subject of the greatest importance, and that it was his duty to bring it before the consideration of the House. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to tell them, that in the course of his late observations on the plan of the noble Lord, he did not resort to any rhetorical artifice; that he knew he was not addressing a vulgar assembly, but an enlightened Senate; and that he had, therefore, omitted the details, which it would be otherwise necessary for him to have brought forward. But there was not the slightest doubt that the question before them was not a mere question of accuracy on the part of the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman; it was a matter of whether it should go forth, promulgated on the great authority of the right hon. Gentleman, with respect to a question in which the public of this country were interested, probably more than in any other, that the statement of the noble Lord, to the effect that the employment of the capital of this country in public works would benefit the country, was erroneous; the question was, whether the proceedings of that public should be arrested—whether public investment and the spirit of public enterprise should be defeated by the declarations of a person of great authority, who had held a place of great authority, and who had apparently referred to documents of great authority, all of which tended to give an impression totally different to, and totally the reverse of, that which was the fact. Whether the right hon. Gentleman were accurate or inaccurate on this question, he would venture to say a few words afterwards; but if there were a misapprehension on so very important a subject—on a subject which concerned this nation at the present moment more than any other subject—if there were any misconception upon the opinion of an individual of all others, probably, the most qualified to give his public opinion—surely he (Mr. Disraeli) should think that the noble Lord, or any other public man, ought to take the first opportunity of rectifying the statement respecting which such a misunderstanding had taken place. Now, what (continued the hon. Member) is the general impression on this subject, both in this House and out of doors? That a statesman of great experience and of high authority has, from his actual knowledge of the question, taken an opportunity of propounding this opinion, that a great expenditure of the capital of this nation in railway enterprise has by no means necessarily a beneficial effect upon the revenues of the country. [Mr. GOULBURN: No, no!] This contradiction, then, on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, fully shows how necessary it is to have this debate; for after having listened to the right hon. Gentleman on the former occasion as well as the present, I have still not been able to ascertain his views upon the subject. I rather think, therefore, that such circumstances show some necessity for this explanation. I am still at a loss to know what was the object of this statement of the right hon. Gentleman. I will, certainly, be perfectly frank with the right hon. Gentleman, and admit this, that it was the intention of my noble Friend, and certainly of many of those who act with him, to give their attention to this subject, for the purpose of showing that the expenditure of money on the extensive railway undertakings in this country, had been beneficial to it, and was calculated to increase the revenues of the country. If the right hon. Gentleman wished to attempt to establish the converse of that proposition, we shall obtain a great deal of good by this discussion; because we shall bring, probably, the right hon. Gentleman at least into a neutral position upon this question. Sir, I understood the right hon. Gentleman — I speak not now from any documents, either of an authentic or authoritative character, or such as are not recognised by this House; but certainly I speak from memory, and I do not think it will deceive me—I understood the right hon. Gentleman to use these words — and the circumstance of the expression being of a remarkable character makes me remember them. The right hon. Gentleman said, that "the noble Lord seems to think that the prosperity of the country is supported by an expenditure of its capital in railroad enterprise, and particularly by those undertakings in which his hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of York (Mr. Hudson) was concerned." Now, I was very much astonished by that expression; because my noble Friend had not made the slightest reference to the hon. Member for Sunderland. Certainly, in another debate, some weeks before, the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland was mentioned; but on that night the noble Lord the Member for Lynn did not make the slightest reference to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland; and yet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge made that personal allusion to the right hon. Member, which I recollect myself, and find recorded also in those authorities which have been referred to. I make, however, this quotation from memory. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, "It is a great mistake to suppose that a great expenditure in railroad enterprise has a necessary tendency to increase the revenue and general prosperity of the country, because we have had very great expenditure in railroads, and whilst we have had that expenditure there was for a period of two years a great deficiency." And, therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman's arguments did not, at least, tend to the proposition that the expenditure of vast amounts of capital in railroads was not beneficial to the country, what was the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman? The right hon. Gentleman said, that we had years of great deficiency simultaneously with great expenditure in railroads; and he, therefore, argued that a great expenditure in railroads did not conduce to national prosperity. But what would have been your deficiency if you had not had that expenditure upon railroads? It would have been much greater. The right hon. Gentleman followed up his dogma by documents and details; he gave you the total expenditure proposed to be laid out upon a certain number of railways—seven, I believe—which would amount to about 47,000,000l. The right hon. Gentleman produced a tabular schedule of the proposed capital, and he now says, "I did not mean to say that that was the actual expenditure upon these railroads; I merely said that that was the amount proposed to be expended." Well, then, what becomes of his argument? for his argument was, that you had great deficiency simultaneously with great expenditure upon railroads. He tells you at the same time, "But my table only refers to the amount of capital proposed to be expended, not to that which was actually expended upon these railroads." What becomes of the demonstration of the right hon. Gentleman? Why did the right hon. Gentleman get up and make a speech, when he now tells us, first, that he did not wish to impugn the original proposition of my noble Friend; and, secondly, that the demonstration, or the detail, which he brought forward, did not refer to the actual expenditure upon railways, but to the proposed amount of expenditure upon them? But then you know it comes to this—it is mere monshine. The right hon. Gentleman gets up and says, "You are all wrong about railroads. I will show you that an expenditure upon railroads will not at all advance the national prosperity; for in 1840 we had a deficiency of 2,500,000l., which happened despite the proposed expenditure of 47,000,000l. upon railroads." Therefore, you say that the deficiency of 2,500,000l. is of more consequence than the proposed expenditure of 47,000,000l. But suppose the expenditure proposed had been 87,000,000l.—suppose it had been a sum equal to the national debt—suppose it had been in the bubble year, when, I believe, companies were proposed to expend a sum absolutely larger than that national debt of upwards of 800,000,000l. But then the right hon. Gentleman might have got up and said, "There is a year of great deficiency, and I will show you that expenditure in public works and by public companies does not produce the slightest effect upon the prosperity of the country, because we had here absolutely a capital proposed to be raised of more than 800,000,000l.; and we had a large deficiency." But if not one shilling of that capital was raised, what becomes of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? As it is not raised, the right hon. Gentleman, when he next comes forward with his tale about vast expenditures upon railways—when we show him that not much more than 4,000,000l. was expended, he must admit one of two alternatives—either that his argument is worth nothing if he accepts our facts, or that it is, in fact, upon his own showing, entirely baseless. Now, Sir, I think that is the real state of the case. I think it would have been much more gratifying if the speech of the right hon. Gentleman had been answered when delivered; but my noble Friend was absent at the time; and I think, too, that it was only right that my noble Friend should have introduced this question now to the House; in fact, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman in his absence, I will not say induced, but forced my noble Friend to bring forward this Motion. Statements have gone forth made by the right hon. Gentleman—a Gentleman of high authority, and especially upon these subjects—which my noble Friend finds has influenced public opinion. I believe they have influenced public opinion. I am quite sure that they would influence my opinion, if, not being a Member of this House, and not being cognizant of the true nature of the subject, I should, in my personal character, have heard such statements coming from so high an authority; and, no doubt, there are many persons who must catch the fleeting sentiments of persons of that kind of authority. They go about and say, "Why, here is a Gentleman who has been twice Chancellor of the Exchequer—a very successful Chancellor of the Exchequer—who has twice reduced the national debt, and he must know what he is talking about—he says, the more you spend upon railroads the greater is the deficiency in the revenue; we must get them to vote against the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn." [Mr. GOULBURN: No, no!] No, no! Of course I put this in illustration of my argument. The right hon. Gentleman said, in answer to my noble Friend, "I did not for one moment address the House on that occasion as if it was a mere common-place assembly, but as one of those highly-educated places, in which you may talk without entering minutely into the details of your subject." But I may say this, whatever the right hon. Gentleman may choose to say on this subject, now that he has been driven into a corner, there is not the slightest doubt of one fact, that, whatever was his intention, the impression on the House and on the country is one such as I have stated. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have to get up to-night to quote the opinions which he did when reading from the report of the Railroad Committee of 1844. I would certainly call the statements which he made upon the subject of the amount of expenditure upon railroads up to the time when that Committee sat, "a rhetorical artifice." I never heard him plead with greater dexterity. Although the right hon. Gentleman to-night, when he is obliged to come forward and say that he intentionally gave a false impression to the House with respect to the actual amount of expenditure upon railroads, yet the right hon. Gentleman even now admits and impresses upon the House that there was a vast expenditure in railway enterprise, even in the great years of deficiency to which he had alluded. The evidence of Mr. Laing, he said, showed that in the year 1844 there was an expenditure of 22,000,000l. on the various railways of England, and yet there was a deficiency in the public revenue; and that the same had occurred during the progress of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway—a railway which probably would never have been completed, had it not been assisted by the Government. Now, Sir, I really have occupied too much of the time of the House, but I think I have put the case fairly before hon. Members. The noble Lord, in consequence of the impression made in this House and out of doors by the statements of the right hon. Gentleman, and the representations that were made to him by persons exercising great influence upon public conduct in reference to speculations in his public works, did think it his duty that that great misrepresentation should be removed. I think it has been removed officially, and I trust that it will not be repeated.


said, that there were some of the statements of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down in which he agreed; but he thought that he had been quite in extremis in some parts of his argument. He also thought, however, that there had been nothing in the speech of the noble Lord at which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) could take offence or exception. There had been nothing in it beyond the fair language of argument as used in that House. The first point at issue on the subject was, whether the statement made by the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge was strictly and literally correct and true. The second point was, whether the argument endeavoured to be based by him upon that statement had been in substance, and not merely in the letter, a true and fair argument. He (Mr. Cardwell) had been present in the House when the statement had been made, and he understood it to have been made thus: The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the course of his remarks, had said that certain consequences had followed from the financial measures adopted of late years. The noble Member for Lynn, adverting to the same subject, and speaking of the consumption of customable and excisable articles, had said the words to the effect that the consumption of malt had increased between the years 1843 and 1846, from 32,000,000 to 41,000,000 bushels, and had asked what had free trade to do with that result?—that it was railway enterprise that did it—and that 13,000,000 of money had been spent on railway enterprise, and had thus furnished the means of that increase. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Goulburn), then, in answer to that, had made the statement that if it had been railway enterprise and the disposition of the public to engage in railway undertakings which had caused the recent surplus, it was a very curious thing there should ever have been in any year a deficiency, for that it had so happened that during the years of deficiency, which were years beginning with 1837, and going down to 1842, there had been no single railway now constituting a great trunk line in the kingdom which had not been in course of construction. That had been the statement of his right hon. Friend, who had then gone on to refer to documents which had been laid on the Table last Session, with a view to showing the sums which from that document appeared to have been raised upon the whole by railways. That had been the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and it was literally and verbally true. Now, with regard to the substance of the argument which had been based upon it by his right hon. Friend, there did happen to be a very great railway expenditure during those years; and he had said he could prove it by returns laid on the Table in 1839, which showed that the amount authorized to be raised was 57,400,000l.; and that Mr. Laing had stated, in Feb. 1844, that the sum expended upon railways had been 64,000,000l., from which there were to be some deductions made, namely, all the railways passed before 1836, and those in course of construction in 1843, which was a year of surplus; and those deductions had been made by his right hon. Friend, who had excluded from his argument all those railways which could lead the House to imagine that he referred to the expenditure in those years. He should quite agree that his right hon. Friend was unworthy not only to hold the high office which he had held, but to possess a seat in that House, if he had undervalued or disparaged the importance of those great undertakings. The question was, if there had been a little expenditure in the years referred to, why had it been so? It was not because the Bills had not been passed, but because there had been an unfavourable state of trade and of the money market. He was not going to say the financial measures of the Government had been the sole causes of the results which had been referred to. A person would take a very shortsighted view of the case if he left out of view the state of the harvests. Railway enterprise was the natural result of a favourable state of harvest and of the money market; and he recollected that the right hon. Member for Sunderland had, but a few minutes before the noble Lord had brought on the subject, been stating to the House that before the year 1842 he had gone from door to door asking persons to take shares in a railway, in which there was a profit guaranteed of 6 per cent. But to return to the statement of his right hon. Friend, he (Mr. Cardwell) said that it was verbally and literally true, and was consistent with the argument that the result of a good harvest and a sound state of trade was the extension of railway enterprise, which led, no doubt, to the great benefit of the country.


did not think the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had done justice to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, than whom he believed no man more appreciated the advantage which the country had derived from capital invested in useful public works. He was not in the House when the right hon. Gentleman spoke; but he could assure him that the impression made on the minds of hon. Members present and on the country was such as the noble Lord the Member for Lynn had stated. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that in 1841 so much money was raised for railroads. It would have been more correct had he said that power was taken to raise so much money up to 1841. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last had stated that the London and Birmingham Railway Company had the power of raising 2,526,000l. The real truth was, that they had the power of raising 5,800,000l. In the present dispute, one party contended that the prosperity of the country and the revenue had been caused by the reduction of duties, by the free-trade policy of the late Government. Those who thought with him, contended that these reductions had nothing to do with that prosperity, but that it had been the result of capital applied to public works. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last said that good harvests were one cause of prosperity. That was not always the case. There was a good harvest in 1825, yet in that year there was the severest commercial distress. In 1833, 1834, 1835, and 1836, the harvests were also good; yet as the hon. Gentleman must recollect, these were years of severe commercial distress. The right hon. Gentleman had led the House to believe by his statement that from 1838 to 1841 was the period in which railroad capital had been principally expended. The fact was that the London and Birmingham scarcely expended any capital from 1838 to 1841 in the construction of their railroad. The line was commenced in 1833, and was opened in 1839, and the whole of the capital was expended before 1838. The same thing might be said of the North Midland, and other companies of the time. Their capital had all been expended previous to the large deficiency alluded to. They could only deduce from these facts the importance of diverting the capital of the country—as advocated by his noble Friend—to the construction of works of internal communication, and of commercial advantage to the country. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge now talk so favourably of railway enterprise; for if he was not mistaken the right hon. Gentleman had taken part at a meeting the other day which had been held to discourage railway enterprise by interference of this kind. If it was true that Government had been swayed by the advice of the right hon. Gentleman in their opposition to the scheme of his noble Friend, he looked upon it as most unfortunate. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, been converted; for it now appeared that he was favourable to railway enterprise. He was sure that the present debate would be useful, because it would remove an erroneous impression from the public mind, and would show the advantages which followed the application of capital to the construction of works which tended to the prosperity of the country.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter past Twelve o'clock.