HC Deb 04 February 1850 vol 108 c286

said, that the hon. Member for the West Riding had challenged the protectionists to rise and defend protection on its merits. Now he was not going to produce any fire-works of rhetoric in support of his opinions, but he would undertake to show the House by facts and figures that the agricultural producers of the country were being ruined by free trade. He advanced this position boldly—namely, that the farmers and labourers of the kingdom must be irretrievably ruined by a persistance in the policy of free trade. All the hon. Gentleman's experience of agriculture was derived from his recent acquisition of a farm which consisted of two plots, one of twenty-one acres, occupied by a miller, the other of thirty-two acres, occupied by a shopkeeper, neither of whom were dependent for subsistence upon farming. He would ask the House whether such examples were sufficient to warrant the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire in bringing them forward as proofs of the success with which agriculture could be followed under the reduced prices occasioned by free trade? Now he (Mr. Packe) as a tenant-farmer, would give the results of his experience on a farm of 100 acres, which he held near Loughborough, and with the permission of the House he would read a statement of the comparative expenditure and receipts of that farm under protection and under free trade;* but before doing that he would call the attention of the House to a matter connected with that part of the Speech relating to the sanitary condition of the people; and here he must leave it to the House to determine with what degree of justice it was expected that the land should not only provide the poor with cheap food, but bear the charges of drainage and of making the air wholesome for the people. The Sanitary Commissioners had sent a letter to Loughborough directing that it should be drained; and he begged to assure the House that no one could be more desirous than himself of doing everything that could be required for the health of the people, and by the blessing of God to avert the return of the pestilence of last year; but he could not see why the expense of doing so should fall exclusively upon the land. In the present instance, however, as his farm was in that parish, he would have to pay 6s, 6d. an acre for that purpose. * See Table in following page