§ Order for Committee read; Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I rise to submit to the consideration of the Committee the Amendment of which I have given notice, on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir, the manner in which Her Majesty's Government, and I may say, in a certain degree, the House of Commons, have conducted themselves towards the agricultural interest, since the commencement of this Session of Parliament, appears to me so perplexing, so contradictory, so wanting, I will say, in consistency—seems influenced so much by a spirit, however unintentional, of injustice, and tends so much, I think, to hurt the feelings, shake the confidence, and offend the just and honest pride of a very important portion of Her Majesty's subjects, that I thought, Sir, before the adjournment of the House, and before we went back to our constituents, I would make an effort to induce the House and the Government dispassionately to consider the subject; and after a discussion, influenced, I am sure, as it will be by a desire to arrive at just and true conclusions, to induce them to adopt that opinion which I have expressed in the Resolution of which I have given notice, and which, Sir, I shall place in your hands, dictated, as I believe it to be, by a principle of justice, and by a sincere feeling of sympathy and conciliation. The difficulties and the severe distress of the owners and occupiers of land have for a considerable time occupied the attention and the consideration naturally of the Government, as was evidenced by confessions and expressions which were contained for several Sessions in the Speeches of Her Majesty's Ministers. But it was only this year that the Government, no doubt moved by the gravity of the circumstances, felt it their duty to counsel Her Majesty, in Her most gracious Speech from the Throne, publicly and authoritatively to recognise and to deplore the existence and the continuance of those difficulties. Sir, I am far from presuming to blame Her Majesty's Ministers for not having counselled Her Majesty on a pre- 27 vious occasion to have made an acknowledgment that even then probably would have been equally just, because I know well, and every Gentleman I am now addressing must know it also, that it is no light responsibility that is incurred by a Government when they counsel the Sovereign to acknowledge the continued distress of any important interest in this country. No doubt such a recognition raises, and naturally raises, an expectation in the community that the acknowledgment will be followed by a remedy. It is difficult to understand what can authorise a Government, in a manner so public and so authoritative, to call the attention of Parliament, of the country, I may say of the world, to the condition of a class, unless they feel that that condition is pregnant with important consequences to the whole community; and unless they wish to prepare Parliament and the country for the introduction of measures which should at least attempt to mitigate, if not to remove, the consequences which they thus publicly deplore. Sir, after that important fact—after the meeting of Parliament and the Speech from the Throne, when expectations had naturally and necessarily been excited, not only throughout the country generally, but particularly among those classes that were suffering, and whose suffering, and whose difficulties, and whose distress, after that recognition of them by the Sovereign was no longer a matter of theory, no longer a question of controversy, but a great political fact, and a great Parliamentary conclusion, to which the great council of the country was called to address their attention—the First Minister of the Queen announced to the House, while he deplored with well-expressed sympathy his feelings for the suffering classes, the First Minister of the Crown, in a tone almost of despair, confessed to the House of Commons that he was unprepared and unable to propose any remedy. What, Sir, was the conduct of this House under those circumstances? Duly respecting and appreciating the communication from the Throne, astonished at the confession of the Minister which followed it, the House felt it to be its duty to interpose. A discussion of great gravity and of considerable length occurred. A proposition was made in this House, expressing its opinion that, under the circumstances of the ease, after such an acknowledgment, and after and in consequence of the existence of such distress 28 and difficulties, it was the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to introduce the remedial measures which the circumstances of the case required, and which the acknowledgment of the Crown rendered—as it appeared to us—inevitable. What was the result of that Motion? In one of the fullest houses of the Session, that expression of opinion was negatived by a majority so small, that upon a subsequent occasion the First Minister confessed that the result of that division shook the Government to its centre, and indeed oven intimated that it was, if not the proximate, the real cause of the disruption of the Ministry.
Thus far, in considering the events of the Session, we have observed that the Crown, under the advice of the Government, has recognised the extreme distress of the agricultural community, and at the same time, that the Government, not coming forward to fulfil, as it were, the implied intentions of the Crown, the House of Commons stepped in, and although it did not formally obtain, on the part of the Government, an agreement that they would interfere, still there was a virtual expression of opinion, on the part of the House, that it was the duty of the Government so to interpose. And interpose the Government did, because, within eight-and-forty hours after that division, it became the duty of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make his financial statement for the year; and one feature of that financial statement was a proposition of two measures, the object of which was to mitigate the distress of the owners and occupiers of land. We might assume, therefore, that the interposition of the House had created the necessary harmony, and that the recognition of the distress of the owners and occupiers of land, which had been made by the Crown, was now logically followed up by the proposal of measures, by the Government, to mitigate, if not to remove, that distress. I enter, at this point, into no controversy as to the amount of possible effectual relief that was thus proposed. All I wish now to remind the House of, is this—that, after the Government had declared that it was not in their power to propose any measure the object of which would be to mitigate the difficulties and the distress in question, the House of Commons had expressed their opinion on the subject, and immediately afterwards the Government had made propositions with the object of mitigating those difficulties.
29 Sir, the financial statement of the Government met with a reception which, to use a moderate expression, was by no means favourable; and I am bound to say, speaking, as I hope I shall throughout these observations, that which I really believe to be true—I am bound to say that, as far as the quarter from which that opposition principally emanated is concerned, I think that the obloquy which the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman encountered was unjust. I think that financial statement—although, as far as my own views and principles are concerned, and the views of those with whom I have the pleasure of acting, we have a right to object to it—I think, as far as those who are the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman and of the Government are concerned, that they had very little cause to impugn the validity of the principles on which it was founded. It was in consonance with the principles professed by the Government, and with the principles professed by those who are the general supporters of the Government. But, Sir, having made that admission, which the right hon. Gentleman may make such use of as he likes, he is the last man in this House who will deny the fact, that his financial scheme was welcomed by his own friends in a manner not very flattering to a Minister of Finance. There was a great outcry in the country, and especially in the towns, against the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman. There was hardly any term of vituperation, any epithet of obloquy, which was not showered upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was vilified, he was denounced—he was described as the Jonah that ought to be thrown to the surging waves, to save the perilled passengers, and that by one of his own most eloquent supporters. Indeed, it was generally understood, among all the Members of the liberal party, that, although they were prepared to make any sacrifice to keep the Tories out of office, still the sine quâ non of renewed adhesion to the present Ministry was, that the right hon. Gentleman should never again appeal-before that red box. Sir, amid this general discontent, one might peculiarly recognise that which I would describe as the metropolitan outcry—a peculiar clam-our which has its characteristics—which threatens a great deal, but which generally does very little—which does not carry Reform Bills like Birmingham, or corn-law repeal like Manchester, but which always 30 deports itself at a crisis in a Very alarming manner—which always commences by announcing that it will "stop the Supplies," and invariably ends by supporting the Minister. But, Sir, if this were the state of the urban communities—if these were the manner and the spirit in which the propositions of the Government were welcomed by their habitual supporters, both in this House and in the country, what was the manner in which their proposition for alleviating the distress and assisting the difficulties of the agricultural classes—what were the manner and the spirit with which they were welcomed by the representatives of this class in this House and the country? Sir, on the evening on which the financial statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made—that evening, when the right hon. Gentleman was denounced by his intimate supporters, and attacked by his most confidential adherents—my right hon. Friend the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), who took a lead in the observations on the Budget of the Minister, made no allusion whatever to the propositions that were brought forward for the alleviation of agricultural distress. If I may speak of myself—and I only speak of myself as evidence in the case—my mouth was silent; for I took no part in the debate. Two other county Members there were who certainly made some reference to the propositions of the Government. One of them was my hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who noticed the propositions of the Minister, but, with characteristic caution, gave no opinion upon them. The other was my hon. Friend the worthy Baronet the Member for Essex (Sir John Tyrrell), who, instead of disapproving of the propositions, shrewdly adopted the principal one with great approbation, because, as he very properly expressed it, it seemed to involve the concession of an important principle. That was the reception of the statement of the Government by Members on this side of the House; and, as for its reception by the agricultural community among our constituencies out of the House, certainly I should have a difficulty in selecting any terms of panegyric that were lavished upon it—that the right hon. Gentleman himself could not have anticipated; but I think I may defy even the researches of the Treasury to bring forward any expression of importance that condemned it. It was considered probably insignifi- 31 cant; but at the same time so little was expected from Her Majesty's Government, after the statement of the First Minister on the first night of the Session, that there was not any great disappointment on the part of that important class of the community who were prepared to receive any substantial measure for their relief with feelings of gratification and gratitude. Well, Sir, such being the state of the case—such being the condition of public business—important events occurred. There arose a Ministerial crisis. Public business was arrested and suspended for about six weeks. I throw a veil over that chaotic period, which has really nothing to do with the circumstances to which I am now calling the attention of the House. But after that interval of agitation and anarchy, the House of Commons, having recovered its usual sobriety of tone, was naturally very anxious to receive the financial statement of the Minister. Great difficulty was experienced in obtaining that result. Efforts were made from both sides of the House, from various and contending sections, and from all hues and shades of opinion. And after almost convulsive attempts on the part of the Government to evade the exposition, the day was fixed—the House assembled—and the exposition was made. Great anticipations existed in the public mind and in this House too, that there would be a considerable alteration in the scheme of the Minister. The Gentlemen who had described the Chancellor of the Exchequer as Jonah, naturally felt some awkwardness in coming into the House to support the same budget which they had thus complimentarily denounced. We waited in expectation. I give great credit to the right hon. Gentleman, that under the circumstances of the case, he mainly adhered to the financial scheme which he originally proposed. It showed moral courage—a quality which both sides of the House admire. But what surprised me most was, that in the alterations which were made, the only persons who were considered were those who had declared that the right hon. Gentleman was not worthy of public confidence, and that those alterations should have been made at the expense of that very-party who had treated him at least with courtesy and with the respect that was due to his eminent position. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman, in readjusting his scheme for the repeal of the window tax, which required a greater fund than 32 had been originally at his command, found the requisite resources in a quarter that was unexpected, and in a manner that, I think, was unprecedented. The right hon. Gentleman wanted something like 200,000l. more than his original plan demanded; and what does he do? Why, he takes up his pen, and he scratches out the two remedial measures which were introduced to mitigate the distress and alleviate the difficulties of the suffering land of England. And then he gave as a reason—that the propositions were received in so ungracious a manner that he was resolved to show his sense of our want of gratitude.
Now, Sir, I have always thought that Ministerial propositions in this House were the result of grave councils and of mature deliberation—of Cabinet conference and communication; that they were suggested by a sense of public duty, by a large and unimpassioned survey of public circumstances, and that they were not brought forward in levity merely to gain party support: nor, on the other hand, were they to be withdrawn from a feeling of Parliamentary or personal annoyance, and in a tone of flippant caprice. But the fact, whatever may have been the motive, remains. The fact is that we were deemed so ungracious, who were only silent, that the relief which was proposed by the Government—proposed, I am bound to believe, after mature counsel, and from a sense of public duty—was withdrawn from us, and extended to, in addition to the great relief already projected and proposed and proffered, I will not say an adverse, but another interest, which had particularly distinguished itself for the hostile, the almost indecorous, manner with which they had treated the financial statement of the Minister. Why, the right hon. Gentleman had no right to expect gratitude from us. He had done very little for us; and if that little was received without any demonstration of peculiar gratitude, he can scarcely have been astonished. But according to his own principles he had a right to expect gratitude from his friends; for he attempted to do a great deal for them. But they who spurned him, in the recontruction of his budget have been treated with additional favour; and we, who accepted with silence, and at least with respect, his suggestions, have to submit, not merely to the withdrawal of that which was proposed for us, but absolutely to the infliction of a lecture in the face of the House of Commons and the country, depreciating our claims, de- 33 predating our position, and announcing that if we had any claims we had forfeited them by our disrespectful conduct. But these, Sir, are slight considerations—although important in a certain sense—for all this time, remember, the interest thus treated is the interest which the Government are every night admitting to be the only suffering interest in the community—the interest which they have counselled their Sovereign to inform Her subjects was the one whose sufferings were recognised, and recognised alone; and the extra favours are extended to that portion of the community which, by the same organs and on the same authority, we are every night informed is in a condition of unprecedented prosperity. Now, I beg the House dispassionately to consider—yes, I beg Gentlemen on either side of the House dispassionately to consider the circumstances to which I have referred, the incidents which have occurred in this short but eventful Session. Is it or is it not true that the circumstances which I have detailed are an accurate narrative of what has occurred? Is it or is it not true that this distress of the agricultural interest has been announced from the Throne—that the instant after that the First Minister, notwithstanding the expectations thus naturally and necessarily raised, announces to the Parliament that the Cabinet can do nothing to remedy that distress? Is it or is it not true, that the House of Commons interfered in consequence, by a most significant intimation of their opinion that these remedies should be proposed? Is it or is it not true, that in forty-eight hours afterwards the Government brings forward a budget in which remedial measures are contained? Is it or is it not true that this budget is withdrawn, another budget introduced, and those remedial measures omitted? And I ask you—yes, I would ask any Gentlemen whose opinions of the principles on which our commercial code is established, may fairly and honourably differ from ours—as men of sense and men of honour I ask, How can you justify a course so contradictory, so inconsistent? I would ask them, Is it a course of conduct which tends to establish confidence in suffering classes? Is it not, on the contrary, a course that unnecessarily offends the feelings of that portion of the community that is labouring under such distress? Is it not one that unnecessarily would seem to imply that their claims are not weighed in this House in that spirit of justice which 34 ought to pervade the survey and examination of the claims of all classes and interests? I ask them, Is it one which, however unintentional—and I am perfectly prepared to believe that much of this may have been the consequence of hasty and inconsiderate conduct—but I say, Is it conduct on the part of a Government of which any grave and well-conditioned mind can impartially approve? Now, I would ask the House, has anything occurred in the condition of the owners and occupiers of land since Parliament met, which authorises, on the part of the Government or the House, any difference of opinion as to their condition? Sir, no one can pretend that. On this head there is no doubt. Whatever may have been the cause—whatever may be our opinions as to the necessity or the inexpediency of the legislation which has occasioned it—still there is no man in this House who will deny that the condition, especially of the occupiers of land in the United Kingdom, is one of, I would say, almost unprecedented difficulty. Now, look at the main feature of the case. You have a diminution of rents, which, we are informed, may be taken on the average at the rate of probably 10 per cent. [An Hon. MEMBER: More!] I am told that it is more; but I wish to understate the case, and I say the diminution of rents in the United Kingdom averages at least 10 per cent. [Several Hon. MEMBERS: More!] Well, I don't know if it is more now; but this I know, that it soon will be. Take the rental of the United Kingdom at a very moderate computation—at a computation beneath that which is adopted by eminent statists—take it at 60,000,000l. for the United Kingdom, and you have there a loss to one class of 6,000,000l. a year. I do not say, whether they lose 0,000,000l, or 12,000,00l. a year, that is the slightest ground for them to come forward and ask Parliament for relief—that is not the point that I am going to put before the House. Well, suppose you have, as you undoubtedly will have, a continued diminution of rents, I must remind the House that at a certain period, at a certain point of diminution, rent ceases to be a mere question of loss to the proprietor of land; and that when you have accomplished the diminution of rent in certain lands to a certain point—perhaps I may say 25 per cent—you must have, by an inexorable law of economic science, certain descrip- 35 tions of other lands thrown out of cultivation; your cold clays and your thin uplands will go out of cultivation by any diminution of rent upon the richer soils that reaches probably to 25 per cent. Now, I am not saying that any diminution of rent per se constitutes any claim for any class to come to this House for relief; but I am not of that school who look upon a diminution of rent as an abstract accession to national prosperity; and this you will all admit, that a diminution of rent, even to the amount of 10 per cent, or 6,000,000l. a year, is a circumstance which has a tendency to create distress in the class which endures it. Now, look at the next class, the occupiers of land. I would take a very moderate estimate of the amount of capital invested in the soil by the farmers of the United Kingdom before that change in the law which has occasioned this diminution of their capital. I will take the net amount of the capital of the farmers of the United Kingdom at that which has often been stated, by very eminent authorities too, as the amount of the capital invested in the Soil by the fanners of England alone. I will take the amount of the capital invested in the soil by the farmers of the United Kingdom at the time when the repeal of the corn laws took place, at 300,000,000l. sterling. Well, a third of that has disappeared. I do not mean now to urge this as any reason why the farmers of the United Kingdom should come to this House for relief; but it is indubitable evidence that the class which has undergone such vicissitudes of fortune must necessarily be in a state of great distress and difficulty. Well, we cannot suppose that since the public recognition of this difficulty and distress was made by Her Majesty in Her most gracious Speech, especially as that recognition was not made until the suffering had become chronic—we cannot suppose that anything has occurred, or is likely to occur, which will remedy that state of things. I think, then, I have established this, that if Her Majesty's Ministers are in the happy position of possessing a surplus revenue—if, as according to their own admission is the case, there is only one class, and that a very important one, in the country suffering great distress at this moment—if all other classes are in a state of unprecedented prosperity, it surely becomes Her Majesty's Ministers to consider whether, if they resolve upon a distribution of that surplus by way of remission of taxes, it is not in their power to remit taxes which 36 may alleviate the distress, and mitigate the suffering of this class. And now, Sir, I have to consider whether it is in the power of Her Majesty's Ministers to propose, in the construction of their Budget, any measures that would have that tendency. I have, I admit, considerable advantages, which seldom fall to a Member speaking on the Opposition benches, in arguing this question. Her Majesty's Ministers cannot call upon me, though the task were unfortunately too easy, to substantiate the fact of distress. They have themselves given the most authoritative evidence upon that head; and it must have been after frequent councils, after profound deliberations, after lengthened and mature discussions, that they advised Her Majesty to make that declaration to the country. Therefore it was hardly necessary for me to advert to those important statistical circumstances to which yet, with the indulgence of the House, I have briefly alluded. I have, Sir, another great advantage to-night. I might have been asked, under ordinary circumstances, even if the Government admitted the distress, as they did on the first night of the Session—I might have been asked by Her Majesty's Ministers—what can we do? But I can hardly be asked that to-night, because Her Majesty's Ministers, during this Session, have themselves proposed measures to remedy this evil. The Ministers have themselves, after due consideration, of course, proposed measures to the House, the efficiency or inefficiency of which may be a subsequent question, the degree of remedy in which may be an occasion for future controversy and discussion; but the great fact remains, that, having deliberated upon the sufferings of the owners, and still more of the occupiers of land, Her Majesty's Ministers have devised a scheme which they have proposed to the House of Commons. Well, Sir, that is a very great advantage. Distress admitted by the Crown—nay, announced by the Crown; remedial plans not only suggested but proposed by the Government. Happy interest which finds itself under such circumstances! Well then, we have at once a measure—and this is the first to which I shall refer—the object of which is to relieve this distress, and which to a certain degree, in the opinion of the Government, is efficient for that purpose. It is the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers that it is desirable, or rather that it was desirable, that the expenses incurred by the owners and occupiers of land for the main- 37 tenance of pauper lunatics should be borne by the community, which is generally interested in the subject, and that the tendency of such a measure, if it were passed, would be to relieve this distress. In making that suggestion, Her Majesty's Ministers acted upon the report of the Lords' Committee on the Burdens on Land—that temperate, that painstaking, that thoughtful Committee—the business of which was conducted by men of both parties, second to none in this House for their knowledge of the rural life and necessities of England; many of them men who were warm votaries of those principles of political economy which animate our commercial legislation. Yet it was the opinion of the Lords' Committee on the Burdens of Land, that the charge for pauper lunatics was one which ought to be removed from the land, and borne by the community. Her Majesty's Ministers, deliberating upon that suggestion, made a proposition to the House of a partial character, but entirely recognising the principle recommended by the Lords, the tendency of which was to mitigate this distress, and relieve this oppression. Well, then, we have a practical measure before the House for this object, no matter what its amount, no matter what its deficiency. I do not myself consider that the proposition of the Minister, in that respect, was by any means to be despised I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Essex (Sir J. Tyrell), that it conceded a great principle; and I myself, on a subsequent occasion reminded the right hon. Gentlemen the chancellor of the Exchequer of that, though he misunderstood the tendency of my observation. I valued the admission of principle made by that proposition of the Government, not because I would found upon that a precedent to remove from real property, and especially from the land, the care of the local taxes and local administration of the country—for there is nothing I more deprecate and should more deplore—but I values it as an admission of the fact that the local taxation of the county, which is the consequence of that local administration, was a peculiar burden on a particular kind of property. That was the admission I valued, and it was one which might lead us to considerations of a very important character, which, notwithstanding, I shall not think it necessary to enter into on this occasion. Well, now I have placed before the House one very moderate, but eminently and essentially practical measure, 38 the tendency of which would be to alleviate the distress of the agricultural interest, and especially—for I wish to confine my consideration to the excessive and overwhelming difficulties now experienced by them—the occupiers of the soil. This is a measure, mind you, sanctioned and approved by the Government, that has been submitted to their examination and mature consideration, and introduced to the notice of Parliament under remarkable circumstances, that prove how deeply they must have considered it, and how anxious they were to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion; because, deeply convinced as they were of the distress of the occupiers of the soil—notwithstanding the admission of the Sovereign—they had themselves declared their inability to apply a remedy, and it was only after a declaration of opinion on the part of the House of Commons, and frequent Cabinet Councils held, that their ingenuity was excited to concoct this measure of relief. There is another measure, moderate in its conception, but which, in the relief it gave, would be very much appreciated by the farmers of the country, of which I shall now remind the House. I am not now recommending its adoption, I am only going through the catalogue to show that it is not difficult to find such measures (of course, viewing them with reference to the means at our command), and this is one which has been already selected and adopted by the Government. Many leading country gentlemen of both sides, men well acquainted with our provincial life and wants, have suggested that, as already the community have undertaken the costs of public prosecutions, they should complete the relief afforded to the land in respect to this class of expenses, and defray the charge of maintaining the public gaols, of which as the advantage is derived, so the burden ought to be borne, by the whole community. I have not the exact amount of expenditure which would thus be saved to the interest whose claims I advocate; but this would be a measure, though moderate in its character, effective in its nature, which would be appreciated by the farmers. There are other measures which the Government might bring forward of a much more important character, which would have afforded great relief to the occupiers of the soil, and the adoption of which would not have interfered with any of the principles of our commercial system, or of our local administration. I have be- 39 fore me one of these. I want to call for a moment the attention of the House to the expenditure in this country upon the poor. The total expenditure on the poor in England and Wales, omitting the county rate, was by our last complete return about 6,200,000l. Loss than 5,000,000l. of this sum was expended on the maintenance and relief of the pauper population of the country; while for other expenses immediately connected with relief, no less a sum was required in England and Wales than 1,300,000l. Now observe that the items which make up that considerable amount, are little, if at all, affected by the agency of our local administration; they consist mainly of the establishment charges, and of the fixed salaries of the 13,000 officers who exist in England' and Wales, holding offices, all of which have been invented and created by our new laws. Now, if we apply the same examination to Ireland, we shall find a similar expense of about 370,000l. per annum. You will thus have altogether a sum of about 1,700,000l. fastened upon real property, and pressing grievously upon the land—in Ireland, entirely and especially on the land—and which is scarcely affected in any degree by that local administration and local government with which we are all agreed that it would he most impolitic and inexpedient to interfere. Now, the surplus of this year, amounting to 2,000,000l. sterling, would have permitted the Government to deal with this great subject; and it is my belief that if Her Majesty's Ministers had prepared a well-digested measure for this object—if they had mot Parliament, after that important recognition from the Throne of the continued distress and difficulty of a most important class of Her Majesty's subjects, with a measure for its relief, they would have done far more than merely relieve a suffering interest from a great in-cumbrance — they would have laid the foundation of a temperate and remedial policy which would have adapted the cultivators of the soil in the united kingdom to the novel position and circumstances in which our recent, perhaps I may say our too hasty, legislation has placed them. You might have commenced a course of legislation the tendency of which would have been to put an end to that war of classes and that fatal controversy which is raging between the rival industries of this country. You might have commenced a vast system of remedial legislation, which would have done much to bring back the 40 good feeling of the community; and you would have found all men of moderate views and temperate dispositions rally round you after such an effort; and although many might not have acknowledged that this your first step was equal to the occasion, they would have recognised in it an earnest endeavour on the part of the Government of this country to do justice to an important interest, which all men now acknowledge has been dealt with much too precipitately. It is not my intention to make such a proposition to the House, or even to intimate that by the Resolution I now propose I have any covert design of recommending it. I do nothing of the kind. I should have been happy to have supported the Government had they brought forward such a proposition; under ordinary circumstances, after the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the Session, and with such a surplus in the Treasury, I would not have shrunk myself—if the Government had not advanced—from offering to the House an opportunity of initiating such a happy system of legislation. But circumstances have since occurred which render it, in my opinion inexpedient for me to propose, or even to support, such a measure. More than two months have now elapsed since the meeting of Parliament; the financial statement of the Minister was made eight weeks ago. It held out to an important class of the community the promise and the expectation of considerable relief from a tax very unpopular. Circumstances have caused the intentions of Ministers to remain for a considerable time before the community. Ministers themselves, again reinstated in power, have come forward and proposed again the same scheme with regard to that important tax, or rather a scheme still more calculated to attract popular feeling. The expectations of the community, therefore, have not only dwelt upon that plan, but they have dwelt upon it as a tolerable certainty; they have lately been accustomed to consider it as a gain entirely realised. I think it then most inexpedient to interfere with any arrangement which the Ministers have proposed with respect to the repeal of the window tax. But that is not the main reason which prevents me from offering an alternative proposition. Sir, I should act inconsistently with all I have said in this House—I should (which is much more important), act inconsistently with my profound and sincere convictions, if I took a step which would have the effect of doing 41 that which I always deprecate and always attempt to avoid, namely, place a question before the House which would be essentially a question between town and country. The object of the humble efforts which I have made with respect to taxation, has been, if possible, to terminate that controversy, to soften those feelings, to put an end to that strife and rivalry between the great industries of the country, because I believe it has already been productive of great injury to the community, and because I sincerely believe it to be rife with very perilous consequences, if continued, for all the institutions of the country. Irrespective, therefore, of any other consideration, I never would consent to bring forward a proposition which would array the rival interests of town and country. I would never attempt to obtain that justice for the land which I will not deny that I am most anxious to accomplish, by such means and in such a method.
But it may be said, and has long been said, that there is little advantage, comparatively, to the land in attempting to deal with the sum raised by the levy of the poor-rates, because so considerable a portion of it is borne by other kinds of real property than the land. Let us examine that statement, which is so currently repeated from the benches opposite. In the first place, so far as Ireland is concerned, the remission of taxation to the amount of 300,000l. or 400,000l. would be purely a relief to the land of Ireland—that portion of the agricultural community which is probably the most suffering—for if in England we have distress—if in Scotland we have dismay—in Ireland we have desolation. As regards Ireland, then, the benefit would be considerable and deeply appreciated. But let us view the incidence of this remission of taxation in England, and we shall find the benefit scarcely less considerable. By the by, I am rather amused when, with reference to any suggestions I may have offered respecting a remission of the taxation on land, I am always met with the retort that I am assisting other interests than the land. It is singular that we who are twitted with being the champions of a particular class should still turn out, in every proposition we make for remission of taxation, to be fighting the battle of other interests than our own. Let me show to the House that the remission of taxation which will be effected by taking off this 1,700,000l. from the land, will be very considerable; and that the argument, found- 42 ed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on averages deduced from the aggregate of the poor-rate on agriculture, is one which the farmer, who is suffering from the burden of the poor-rate, never can comprehend. It is a fallacy. Observe the position of the farmer. He pays 5s., 6s., or 7s. in the pound for poor-rate; but he reads the newspaper, and finds that the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells him that the poor-rate is a slight burden on him, because the average in England is only 1s. 8½d. Why, Sir, averages are very well to guide us in research, but they are not materials upon which you can legislate; and such remarks only prove that it is easier to draw up a statistical table than it is to govern mankind. Go to the farmer who pays 7s. in the pound—and I am sorry to say we have many such—for poor-rates, and tell him that you have got a blue book in the House of Commons which proves that, instead of paying 7s. in the pound, the farmers on an average are only paying 1s. 8½d. in the pound. He will answer—"This may be political economy, but it is not common sense or English justice."
Well, Sir, I have now placed before the House three practical and unobjectionable measures for remission of taxation to the only interest in the country which, according to Her Majesty's Ministers, is suffering; and the only interest in the country which, in the Budget of Her Majesty's Ministers, is omitted. There is a fourth measure, not so extensive, but which would be received with the greatest favour by the farmers of the United Kingdom, and that would be to detach from the miscellaneous expenses connected with the relief of the poor, those expenses which are incurred for objects independent of local administration, viz., those which are purely incurred for establishment charges. These form an amount totally independent of local control. The fixed salaries in Great Britain at this moment amount to between 500,000l. and 600,000l. From the particular mode in which some classes of officers are paid—namely, by poundage upon the rates they levy, it is almost impossible to make an absolutely correct estimate; but I think we may safely take the amount of the salaries paid to the officers who administer the poor-law under the guardians—novel appointments remember, the consequence of the new law—at 550,000l. for Great Britain; the analogous expense in Ireland will be about 180,000l. On the 43 whole, you will have to deal with a sum between 700,000l. or 750,000l.; but it would be a relief complete in itself, and, from this particular circumstance, calculated to obtain great favour in the eyes of the occupiers of the soil. That, then, is another measure which well deserves the consideration of Her Majesty's Ministers. What are the objections to it? It cannot be said of those charges that the land has been inherited subject to them, or purchased subject to them; they are charges invented in the recollection of many Members of this House, which would never have been placed on the land if the repeal of the corn laws had taken place in 1830. Why, except the expenditure for the maintenance of the poor—a vast sum, with which I am not proposing to deal, but which, I must remind the House, is borne by a particular class of property, and not by the community—all the other charges under the poor-law are of novel origin; and I must impress on the House—indeed, I would appeal to their candour—whether they believe, with respect to the multitude of local rates that exist, the taxation for registration of voters, for vaccination of children, and a thousand other miscellaneous purposes, that the owners and occupiers of land would ever have submitted to that remorseless taxation, had they not been in possession of that protective system, the merits of which I do not want to enter upon now, but the favourable consequence of which to that class you all acknowledge? That reason alone is one that ought to make us consider these subjects with a favourable eye. Well, I have now placed before the House four measures, moderate, practical, just, and beneficial, especially to the farmers, which it would have been in the power of the Government to have brought forward—the Government that acknowledges the distress of these interests in the Speech from the Throne—the Government that introduces a budget comprehending one of these measures—the Government that withdraws that budget and brings forward another omitting that remedial measure, yet all the time announcing that this is the only class of men who are suffering, whilst the other classes of the community, to whom they devote the whole of their surplus revenue, are in a state of unprecedented prosperity. The conduct of the Administration, since the beginning of the Session, is in fact an aggregate of anomalies which, I think, has never been equalled in the annals of Parliament. My hon. 44 and gallant Friend the Member for Lincoln (Colonel Sibthorp) seemed the other night to imagine that I was interfering with the measure of which he had given notice for the relief of the farmers. I hope I am not in the habit of interfering with the positions which any Gentleman in this House may choose to take up on public questions; and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that he is the last man with whom I should interfere, because I have the greatest respect for him, and feel that no man is more entitled, from the consistency of his conduct, to advocate the cause of the farmers; but I must appeal to his candour, whether, in the Motion I make to-night, I in any way interfere with the notice he has given. An occasion will come when, legitimately, my hon. and gallant Friend may ask the opinion of the House upon the question he means to bring forward; and it will add another to the abundant anomalies which have marked the conduct of the Government, as affecting the agricultural interest. The farmers complain that they are required to pay a tax upon profits which do not accrue; my hon. and gallant Friend has proposed that the schedule which levies that tax shall no longer be enforced. Now, I should have thought that the Government would have met the difficulty by proposing that the profits of farmers should be ascertained in the same manner as those of traders are ascertained. I should have been extremely glad if they had made that proposition, because the consequence would have been that then a public demonstration would have been given to Her Majesty's Ministers of a fact of which they seem incredulous—namely, that no farmer in England at this moment is, I verily believe, making any profits at all. The proper way in which that question should have been met would have been for Ministers to consent that the profits of farmers should be ascertained in the same way as those of other classes; but as they have not proposed to do that, I think my hon. and gallant Friend may appeal to the justice of the House at least to permit the farmers to prove that they are not making any profit by the trade they are carrying on, and that they should be relieved from the preposterous arrangement, the continuance of which is now anticipated. In all the measures I have suggested for the consideration of the Government and the House, I have been most anxious to consider the incidence of these taxes on the condition of 45 the farmers. The strain is upon their energies and resources, and they are the class which this House is bound most to consider. It would be as well if we remembered who are these men of whom we are in the habit of speaking with such frequent levity? I speak not of their numbers—I speak of their virtues. Whatever may have been the opinion of the House as to the policy or the impolicy of those laws regulating the entrance of foreign agricultural produce which we have abrogated, remember always this, that the farmers were not the framers of those laws, although they are their victims. Remember, I entreat the House, the position in which, by our legislation—right or wrong, politic or impolitic—we have placed that body, that important body of the community. Time, which has brought to them adversity, has also brought to them the occasion of showing to the nation, of which they are an important portion, that they possess great qualities. Reviled and traduced as they were during our too hot controversies, they have shown great energy and enterprise—they have shown skill and frugality; a patience never exhausted, and a perseverance never baffled. These are the men who come forward to ask you for your sympathy; these are the men whose sufferings were recognised by their Sovereign, which gave them hope; whoso sufferings were attempted to be remedied by Her Ministers in a manner, however slight, at least imparting some expectation of relief. These are the men who, in the extraordinary contest in which they are engaged, in the unprecedented struggle which they are encountering, and in which they are involved, have, Session after Session, by the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the speeches of Her Majesty's Ministers in either House, by the speeches of eminent Members of the economic party before me, have been constantly encouraged to believe that a remunerating price to their toils and industry, and to the investment of their capital, was inevitable, was rapidly coming; that they bad only to wait a little longer, to invest more capital in the land, to indulge in more enterprise, and to exert more energy; and that the inevitable result would be that they would find an ample and sufficient return for their industry and their capital. These are the men who year after year find themselves in a worse position; who year after year find that the move they in- 46 vest their capital, the less is their return—the more they exert their energy, the less profitable and satisfactory is the consequence; these are the men whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the other night, not to look any longer for assistance from Parliament from countervailing duties or remission of taxation. And yet surely these are the men the great object of all our legislation as regards whom should be to lessen the cost of production, and to permit them to enter into this market of unlimited competition with, every advantage; and when the rest of the community are asking for untaxed bread, to allow them at least to meet the demand with untaxed labour. Sir, I want the House, then, just before it is adjourned, just before we go to our constituents, to enable us to repair to them, bearing to the farmers of England the assurance that here they will find sympathy and justice. I ask the House to consider, in a spirit of fairness—and I appeal with as much confidence to Gentlemen opposite as to those on this side of the House—I ask them to consider all that has occurred in this Session with regard to that class. I ask Her Majesty's Ministers to consider, I ask them to reflect upon what has occurred within the last eight weeks; and if they cannot reconcile these inconsistencies to their conscience or their reason, that they will be manly enough, candid enough—I will say kind enough—to reconsider that course which they have pursued. I give Her Majesty's Ministers all the advantages which they can derive from the recollection of the difficulty which the distracted circumstances in which they have been placed has necessarily occasioned. I give them the credit of all these considerations. I am willing to forget the past, if Her Majesty's Ministers will only recur to the feelings with which they commenced the Session of Parliament, and will attempt to fulfil the purpose which they announced to the House of Commons that it was their intention to achieve. But, Sir, I have not yet seen, though I hope that I shall see, any disposition on their part to respond to that appeal. I do not know what Gentlemen, directly or indirectly connected with the land may feel on this subject; but when we left our friends at the commencement of this year, and came to this House, we left them, in their opinion and in ours, injured. After what has occurred, it will be painful for us to go back and feel that we can only say 47 "Injured you were when we left you, and now you have been insulted." But, Sir, I appeal with confidence to Gentlemen opposite. Do not let me be told, nay I feel confident that no one will presume to tell me, that, directly or indirectly, openly or covertly, I have, by the moderate suggestions which I have made, attempted to reverse our new commercial system. A Gentleman of great distinction in this House has, with reference to the most important suggestion that I have thrown out to the Government, on another occasion expressed his belief that far from having a tendency to reverse our commercial system, it had, on the contrary, a tendency to confirm it. Where is the line to be drawn with respect to the four measures that I have suggested, whore the reversal of our commercial system commences? Will Her Majesty's Ministers repropose the measure for relief which they themselves introduced to the House? Is that a reversal of our commercial system? Least of all, Sir, do I hope that the spirit of the great departed will be evoked to-night, to stand between an abundant Treasury and the suffering farmers of the United Kingdom. Sir, because I feel confident that the resolution which I am about to place in your hands is conceived in a spirit of justice and of conciliation; because I feel confident that nothing has occurred which should prevent, from any sentiment of false shame, Her Majesty's Ministers from again reconsidering their Budget—and I need not remind the House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we have precedents for a reconsideration of Budgets, not simply threefold precedents, but instances more multiplied; because I feel confident that no sentiment of false shame should prevent Her Majesty's Ministers passing the holidays in that profitable contemplation of circumstances, and meeting us all again with good feeling and in good humour; because I am convinced that the course I have taken is one which the great body of the community, whatever their trade or calling, will feel to be the course of justice, of equity, and of conciliation; because I have studiously and sincerely resolved not to interfere with that great remission of taxation which has been mainly devised for the advantage of the towns, I appeal to the Members for the towns to assist their struggling brethren. I appeal to the towns to assist that most important and numerous portion of the 48 middle class, the farmers of the country; that class who, we are told, have been deprived of one hundred millions sterling, which has been distributed amongst their constituents, and amongst those most intimately connected with them. It would be some consolation to us if we believed that the loss to the farmers had at least proved to that amount a profit to rival industries. I wish I could believe that it had. It is, Sir, because I feel assured that there must be a sense of justice and of sympathy amongst those who represent the trading community, whose claims have been so liberally recognised by the Government—a liberality to which I do not object, and an advantage which I do not grudge them, that I hope they will support me in this Resolution, and that by carrying it they will aid in terminating that sense of injustice, and soften those justly wounded feelings of honest pride, which I know animate at present the farmers of the United Kingdom.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'in any relief to be granted by the remission or adjustment of Taxation, due regard should be paid to the distressed condition of the owners and occupiers of land in the United Kingdom,' instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Sir, before I proceed to trouble the House with some observations upon the speech which has just been made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, I will venture to remind the House of the nature of the Motion that is submitted to them, as well as to the time and circumstances under which that Motion has been made. Sir, the Motion of the hon. Gentleman is, "That in any relief to be granted by the remission or adjustment of Taxation, due regard should be paid to the distressed condition of the owners and occupiers of laud in the united kingdom." Sir, that is so self-evident a proposition—that is a truth so indisputable—that, in point of fact, it amounts to a truism. Of course it is the duty of the House to give due attention to all the interests that compose the great community which we represent; and I am prepared to say, and I trust am prepared to prove before I sit down, that Her Majesty's Government, in the proposals which they have laid before the House— 49 while we have certainly not considered the agricultural interest exclusively (for I think that we should have deserted our duty if we had done so), have by no means neglected to consider the relief which could fairly and justly he given to an interest so important, and, in many instances, so distressed. I now must remind the House of the circumstances under which this Motion is submitted to them; it is submitted not as a distinct proposition, but as an Amendment upon the Motion of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that this House should go into Committee to consider the substitution of a reduced house tax for the existing window tax. I must say that I was totally at a loss to understand what was the intention or the meaning of the hon. Gentleman in bringing forward such an Amendment as this to such a Motion as that of my right hon. Friend; and I listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Gentleman, in hopes that I should derive some clue to the enigma presented to me by the Amendment. But I confess that that speech has left me in still greater doubt than that in which I was before. I thought, certainly, at one time, that the hon. Gentleman was going to bring forward counter propositions to those of my right hon. Friend—that he was going to say, "I object to your Budget, and I will give you a plan which I can recommend to the House, and which I think the House should adopt instead of that Budget." But although it is true that the hon. Gentleman did state other things which he thought should be attended to in the Budget, he sat down declaring that it was far from his intention to oppose the repeal of the window duty, and concluded by making a declaration which was altogether practically inconsistent with the House adopting the Amendment which the hon. Gentleman proposed to it. Under these circumstances, I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman can be serious in recommending an Amendment of this kind to the House, when we are prepared to consider what should be the financial arrangements of the year. I cannot but think that he has taken this opportunity to give us—to use a term which he applied to a former speech of his distinguished Colleague, the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries)—a "financial exercitation." Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman began by stating that the Government had announced the existence of agricultural distress in the Queen's Speech; and 50 he stated also that, having done so, we were bound to propose a remedy adequate to that distress. Why, the hon. Gentleman should recollect that Her Majesty, in Her gracious Speech, not merely acknowledged the partial distress which exists amongst the owners and occupiers of land, but that She also indicated the quarter from which she expected the relief for that distress must come. Her Majesty also stated that she trusted that in the continued prosperity of the general interests of the country, the agriculture of the country would produce some certain remedy for that distress which at the present time partially prevails with respect to it. But, Sir, the hon. Gentleman has all through his speech contended that this Budget was framed exclusively to gain popularity in the towns, and that it contains no substantial relief to any portion of the agricultural interest. Now, I will venture to say that if any Gentleman will carefully consider the proposals made by Her Majesty's Government, they will find that to the landed interest especially a very real relief is contained in this proposal; and I must remind the hon. Gentleman that we have the advantage on the present occasion of discussing the financial arrangements of the year, having previously discussed—and, indeed, decided on—those counter projects and counter arrangements, with regard to our finances, which have been proposed to us by the great party of which the hon. Gentleman is a very distinguished ornament. About other matters connected with these arrangements there is little dispute amongst us; we are agreed that there is a sum to be disposed of in relief of taxation amounting to about 1,500,000l., and the real practical question before the House is, how that relief can be best applied. Now the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford asked the House to apply that relief, not in any of those remissions which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) has just alluded to—not by taking on ourselves the payment of the poor-law establishments—not even by transferring the charge of the pauper lunatics from the county rate to the Consolidated Fund; but he proposed to give relief altogether by a remission of a portion of the income tax. Now I am prepared to state, and I challenge contradiction from any country Gentleman who has looked closely into this part of the subject, that in the proposals of the Government there will be found more real relief to the 51 landed interest, and more especially to the tenant-farmers, than they could derive from a remission of a portion of the income tax. The relief given by the repeal of the window duty is one spread over all classes, and I value it the more on that account. It is a relief, in the first instance, that affects the landowner. I think that the substitution of a moderate house tax for a window duty affects the country gentleman who inhabits a house in the country with a great many windows, but of comparatively small aggregate value, to a very considerable extent. Every gentleman so circumstanced must be aware, from his own experience, how much he pays for window tax, and how little he will have to pay to the commuted house tax. I think my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already made a statement on this subject to the House; but it really has so important a bearing on the question, that I trust the House will excuse me, if I again call their attention to it. Forty-two houses, paying the highest amount of window tax, taken in six different counties, now pay 2,04:0l. for windows; but these houses will only pay 567l to the commuted house tax, being a saving of 1,473l. upon these forty-two houses. Now, compare with this the relief given by the transference of the charge of pauper lunatics from the county rate to the Consolidated Fund. Under this head a charge of 150,000l. was at present borne by the real property of the country; but the House was well aware that, so far was this from consisting exclusively of land, that more than half of it consisted of other property. The whole amount of the rateable value of the real property being 84,000,000l., it followed that, upon the transfer of this charge to the Consolidated Fund, every one possessing an income of 10,000l. a year would save 21l. Now, will any country gentleman possessing an income of 10,000l. a year—and I hope, for their sakes, that I am addressing many of that class—compare with this paltry sum the window tax which he pays on his house in the country, and which will be saved to him by the proposed commutation of the window tax into a house tax? When, therefore, the hon. Gentleman opposite makes it a complaint against us, that we have withdrawn a great boon from the landed interest—a boon which, if the hon. Gentleman set such store upon it when it was first proposed, he was most successful in concealing his feelings, it is 52 our duty to point out the reduction which our scheme will give. Put it as a country gentleman's question, and say what has he gained as a country gentleman by the substitution of the house tax for the window duty; and compare that with the paltry sum incurred by the payment for pauper lunatics out of the county rates. I come now to the tenant-farmers, and I ask, whether they will be more relieved by the proposal of the Government to repeal the window tax altogether, or by the scheme of the hon. Gentleman opposite, somewhat to reduce the income tax in their favour? I have no doubt that any Gentleman conversant with the subject, who will take the trouble to go into the matter, will see that, to the tenant-farmers generally, but more especially to the poorer ones, the relief given by the remission of the window duty is much greater than it would have been by a small remission of the income tax. For the House must recollect that the income tax does not apply to any tenant-farmer renting a farm under 300l. a year. But what is the case with regard to the window duty? The exemption from window duty only begins at 200l. a year; so that there is a large and numerous, and at present not most thriving class, who would not be affected in any way directly by the remission of the income tax, who will be relieved by this remission of the window tax. I will also add, that few farmhouses, unless those that are large, are rated at 20l. a year; and, consequently, there will be many cases of total exemption under the commutation of the window tax into the house tax. So far with respect to the effect of this remission of the window tax with regard to the agricultural interest. I do not feel it necessary to go into the case as regards the dwellers in towns; for it is agreed on all hands, that, as regards them, it would be a most acceptable remission of a tax. But there is one consequence of a repeal of the window tax which is well deserving the consideration of the House, whether connected with the agricultural interest or that of towns—the effect it will have upon the sanitary condition of the humble classes of the community. It may be quite true, and I believe it was so, that these sanitary considerations were, in many cases, made the pretext for opposition to this tax, on the part of those who were much more anxious to relieve themselves from this pecuniary burden, than careful of the sanitary condition of the humble classes; but there 53 was no reason why that which was a pretext to many should not be to that House a motive of the most important and valid kind. It was only the other day that I heard the opinions on this subject of one who, upon questions of this kind is the highest authority in this House—I moan my noble Friend the Member for Bath (Lord Ashley). In bringing forward his Motion to encourage the erection of model lodging-houses for the habitation of the poor in crowded cities, the noble Lord made this statement with regard to the effects which the remission of the window tax would have upon the comfort and well-being and upon the habits of those classes of the community:—He wished also to bear testimony to the great value of the reduction in the window duty, and wished the Chancellor of the Exchequer were present to hear the result of the experience obtained by those interested in the model lodging-houses. The Streatham-street house contained suites of apartments for fifty families. If those suites were separate, there would be no window tax, but being under one roof, window tax became eligible to the amount of between 60l. and 70l. a year, adding 25s. a year to the rent of each set of apartments. The removal of the window duty would permit a reduction of rent from 7s. to 6s. 6d., and so on.I trust, therefore, that the House may congratulate itself that in remitting the window tax, which I trust they will do, not only will they confer benefits upon the landed interest (both the owners and occupiers of land) and upon the dwellers in towns generally, but that they will especially confer benefits of a most important description on the most defenceless and most numerous class of the community. Sir, it is true that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire did bring forward no less than four proposals to this House; but I cannot understand him to say that he did more than throw out these proposals for future consideration. I did not understand him to say that he asked the House to vote for his Motion with a view of substituting these proposals for those of the Government with regard to the remission of the window tax, and of the duties upon coffee and timber. Now, I think that this is not a particularly legitimate occasion to enter into these considerations. The House has before it a distinct and definite proposal on the part of Government. Hero is our financial proposal—a proposal which, though altered, and I conscientiously believe amended in its details, does not vary in its principles from those proposals which 54 my right hon. Friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) at an earlier period of the Session submitted to the consideration of the House; and the practical question is, whether the House will agree to those proposals, or whether they will substitute for them others which they may think have a greater claim on their support. We have already had the first, the original, and of course the favourite proposal of the Gentlemen opposite. They asked us to apply this surplus to the reduction of the income tax, and not to the remission of the window tax, or of the coffee and timber duties. The House negatived that proposition; and the hon. Gentleman now conies forward with an Amendment couched in terms most difficult to understand, and which, if brought forward on a Tuesday or a Thursday evening, instead of on a Government night and as an amendment to a resolution for going into Committee on the Budget, no man could object to discuss; but he could not see that the Amendment contained any practical proposition whatever. Seeing then that the hon. Gentleman, as the leader of a great party, would not have brought forward this Motion as a mere empty proposal, meaning nothing, if it had not some practical effect, he was constrained to believe that the hon. Gentleman had some effect in view which he wished to produce by carrying this Amendment. Now, I cannot help thinking that these practical effects are very great and very considerable, and in my opinion very dangerous, and on that account I earnestly entreat the House not to agree to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman is constantly deprecating any discussion on the policy of our recent commercial legislation upon occasions of this description; but I cannot help thinking that, though he never mentions it on an occasion of this sort, it is at the bottom of his thoughts, for that is the only way in which I can attach any sense or meaning to such a proposal as he has now made. He says distinctly, "I do not object to your proposal, but I interfere with that proposal being practically carried into effect, by substituting for it some vague and indefinite words." Now, what is the object of this Resolution? It is to state that the agricultural interest of this country should be considered with regard to the taxation of that country. Why, of course it ought; no man in his senses would dispute a proposition of that sort. If the hon. Gentleman had adhered to his Amendment 55 as originally proposed, which contained the words "in the first instance," and in which he proposed to the House to say that they should "in the first instance" consider the remission of the taxation of the agricultural interest, I can very well conceive an amendment of that sort; but then I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is too ingenuous to have told the House that an amendment of that kind would be consistent with our adopting the remission of the window duty, and the other proposals of the Government with regard to timber and coffee, which the Government had submitted to the House. But the hon. Gentleman, with more discretion than valour, retreated from that position. He found that the remission of the window duty was a thing that had taken deep hold on the feelings and opinions of the people of this country; that probably among his own ranks and supporters there were many hon. Gentlemen who were most unwilling to commit themselves in opposition to the remission of a tax of that description. I am not surprised at it: these things have been freely discussed within the last few weeks, and I have myself heard not only from gentlemen connected with the towns, but from gentlemen connected with the agriculture of this country, opinions which led me to believe that they attached great importance to a remission of the window duty; and I am very well aware how substantial and important a relief this remission of the window duty will in many cases be to their constituents. I am not, therefore, surprised that the hon. Gentleman should shrink from committing himself in opposition to a tax of that description; but I think, in that case, he was bound to have told us what he meant by the proposal which he has made to-night—a proposal of which I am at a loss to conceive the meaning. I cannot believe that the real intention of the hon. Gentleman was to oppose the Budget of the Government; but if that is the case, I think he would have acted a franker part by shaping his Amendment so that there might be no mistake on the subject, and that all who voted on the question should have known what they were voting for. The hon. Gentleman has deprecated the introduction of comments relating to the general prosperity of the country, and the general commercial measures on this occasion. I am not about to embark on that field of discussion. At the same time I think that on occasions of this kind, when, as I believe, the real object of hon. Gentlemen op- 56 posite is to reverse that policy, or to induce the House at least to stop in the career in which they have hitherto gone on, I think we should do wrong if we omitted any opportunity of reminding the House what the general condition of the country really is. The House will remember that since 1841, 10,000,000l. of taxes have been remitted, and 5,000,000l. have been imposed, and there has thus been a balance of taxes taken off of not less than 5,000,000l. Such, however, had been the buoyancy of the finances and commerce of the country during that time, that there was an excess of revenue of another 5,000,000l. During this period, the condition of the great bulk of the people, tried by any test that might be selected—whether by the amount of imports or exports, or the state of consumption or pauperism—the condition of the great body of the people had been singularly and remarkably prosperous. In the midst of convulsion and revolution abroad, there had been a period of remarkable political tranquillity and contentment amongst the people of this country. I do not deny that together with this state of things there has existed, and I am sorry to say still exists, severe, though I think partial and temporary, distress amongst the owners and occupiers of land. But the House will recollect that periods of as severe agricultural distress had occurred at least three times since the year 1815 under a system of protection; and I think that before the change in the corn laws there were symptoms in the agricultural districts of the country, which showed that even if no alteration had been made in the corn laws, severe distress would have taken place, because there was a state of transition necessarily going on in the conditions under which land can be cultivated in this country, which could not fail to produce temporary distress, though I trust that this state of things is calculated ultimately to place the agriculture of the country in a sounder condition than it was before. Under these circumstances, I trust that the House will negative the proposal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire: if it had no other fault than being a proposal of the vaguest description, pointing to no particular conclusion whatever, I think that should be a sufficient reason for the House to reject it at a time when the country calls upon them not to enter into a vague and general discussion of an abstract nature, but to pronounce upon what should be the financial 57 arrangement for the present year. Those arrangements, on the part of the Government, were now before the House; they consisted in the remission of the income tax, and the substitution of a small house tax in lieu of it. I have already endeavoured to state to the House the reasons why I think the House will be justified in selecting that tax for remission on the present occasion. I think I have also proved to the House that it is not true, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) seems to suppose, that any injury has been done to the landed interest by the substitution of an improved method of dealing with the window tax, and house tax, instead of the measures which were originally proposed with respect to the charge for the pauper lunatics and the duty upon clover-seed; on the contrary, we availed ourselves of the money that we were able to save by not giving relief in that direction, by improving the mode of the remission of the window tax, and the substitution of another tax for it; and in the general benefit that must arise from the alteration of the scheme, the landed interest will fully participate. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) said that he would support the scheme of the Government with regard to the window tax and the house tax; but I do not know whether he does or does not mean to support the proposal of the Government for a repeal of the timber and coffee duties. All I can say is, that if he entertains the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries)—opinions which I heard, with great satisfaction, coming from him—and if he is prepared to agree to the remission of the coffee and timber duties, and the scheme with regard to the house and window tax, it is clear that he will have no money to spend upon those measures of agricultural relief with which he has favoured the House. I shall not now go into the question of agricultural relief, on which there is much to be said, and which can be discussed at the proper opportunity; but what I say is this, that it should not now interfere with the decision of the House on a scheme with respect to which it appears we are all agreed. I would remind hon. Gentleman connected with Ireland that the remission of the timber duty is in no small degree a benefit to the agriculture of Ireland, for it must be a great advantage to persons in Ireland connected with that interest to be able to set timber at as cheap a rate as possible. I 58 think the question before the House is one of the most simple description—it is whether we shall go into Committee to enable my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to substitute a house tax for the existing window tax. I had great satisfaction in hearing the speech of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), because it would appear to me from it, that the objection which had been urged against the first proposal brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been satisfactorily removed. I don't see how it is possible for the House, instead of going into Committee, to consider a general proposal of the kind, which the hon. Gentleman has brought forward, unless some practical intention is expressed. It is right the country should know what the hon. Gentleman intends. He has no practical scheme. He takes refuge in some unmeaning generalities, and goes into a variety of topics that have nothing whatever to do with the discussion. And I ask the House, are we to postpone the financial measures of the Government—measures which the whole country is waiting for with the utmost anxiety—to embark in a discussion of this vague character? I say, "Sufficient for the day is the Budget thereof." The proposal made by my right hon. Friend I believe to be satisfactory to the country, and that, so far from the agricultural interest not having clue consideration, the proposed measures will, in effect, as they are intended, afford a considerable remission and relief to them.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
There are, Sir, before the House on the present occasion two plans of finance—that proposed by Her Majesty's Government, and that which has been proposed in a manner that, I must confess, I thought somewhat shadowy and vague, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. The House has heard the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, who, I presume, is well satisfied with his own plan; the House has also heard the right hon. Gentleman who has just' sat down, who, I presume, is equally satisfied with the plan of the Government; and perhaps the House will now give a few minutes of its attention to a person in the unfortunate predicament in which I stand, that is, the predicament of not being satisfied with either one plan or the other, but who wishes to state to the House the reasons why he will give his vote for one of those plans in preference to the other, as 59 containing the lesser amount of evil. On a former occasion, in the last Session of Parliament, I voted with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire in favour of a Motion, I think, for going into Committee for the purpose of considering the subject of the poor-laws with reference to the relief of agricultural distress. I did not think then, nor do I now think, that the question of the alleviation of local burdens was a question that was unfit to be entertained under given circumstances by this House. I confess I had that impression from the tone adopted by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and from the negative evidence that was afforded by the tone adopted by the chiefs of his party elsewhere about the same period; and I entertained the hope that those who had been friendly to the question of Protection, however they might retain their abstract opinions in its favour, were, notwithstanding, so convinced of the impossibility of restoring protective laws in the case of agriculture, that they were abandoned; and that they were disposed frankly to acquiesce in the policy this House deliberately adopted; and that, therefore, I was at liberty to regard them, not indeed as having formally announced any intention of the kind, but as having practically ceased to consider the restoration of protection as one of the objects of their exertions. However strongly I might think that I was at liberty to entertain that opinion in the last Session of Parliament, I feel I am not justified in entertaining that opinion now. With respect to the question of the alleviation of local burdens, I do not concur in the opinion that they shall only be entertained when there is the existence of a surplus; for if it were the means of promoting the final acquiescence of a great portion of the community in a system, which, though new, we believe to be vitally important for the happiness of the whole community, then I say if the alleviation of those local burdens could be the means of promoting permanent peace and harmony on a subject-matter of such importance, I for one am ready to entertain it independent of the question of the demonstrative existence of a surplus. The question we had to consider last Session was whether we should alleviate the local burdens of men who had enjoyed a certain advantage at the expense of the whole community, through means of a system of protection which benefited the landed interest, and the loss of which they 60 substantially recognised as a fact beyond their power to recall, and, that being the question, I gave my vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire; but I cannot give him my vote on such grounds as he at present puts forward. We know it has been distinctly announced by a noble Lord (Lord Stanley) in another place, when called upon to form a Government, that it was his intention to propose to Parliament the imposition of a duty upon corn. The noble Lord was not then speaking his own individual sentiments, or outrunning the general opinions of his supporters; it is quite plain thot he was speaking in conformity with the opinions they entertain, and therefore I must take it for granted that the restoration of protection, in the shape of a protective duty upon corn, is a question they think it their duty to bring to a final issue, and upon which they will do all in their power to obtain the definitive opinion of the country. I deprecate that course, and cannot agree with the opinions on that subject which some hon. Gentlemen around me entertain. But at the same time if they entertain the conviction that the withdrawal of protection has been the infliction of an injustice on a great portion of the community, and that in the restoration of protection there would he no injustice, but, on the contrary, that there would be a great public benefit, it is impossible for me to make any complaint of their intending to bring that question broadly and fairly to issue. By all means let it be brought to issue by those Gentlemen; whether they be in opposition, or in the Government, let the opinion of the country be fully and finally pronounced upon it, and then, perhaps, at length it will be set at rest. In the present position of affairs I must decline to entertain the question of local burthens, on the ground on which they were discussed last year. If it be the fact that those burthens upon land and real property have been borne to some extent at least, in consideration of the existence of protection, then I say before I alleviate the local burthens, I must see what is to be done with regard to protection. For if you are going to restore protection, don't ask for the alleviation of local burthens. I am bound now to protest that I am not thoroughly satisfied with the Budget of the Government: and I am still less satisfied with the Budget of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his 61 speech of Friday last, spoke with great force of the immense benefit that had accrued to the country from the reduction of taxes; and the right hon. Gentleman said that the taxes that press upon industry will have a great tendency when reduced to reproduce themselves. Nothing could he more just than the sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman—nothing could he more triumphant than the effects of those reductions upon the country; and if I found fault with the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman, my complaint would be that the principle found and proved in practice to be so beneficial, is applied by him in it on a scale so very narrow. In the year 1842, though one great purpose of the income tax was to supply a deficiency of 2,500,000l., it also enabled the Government to effect the reduction of taxes upon industry to the extent of 1,500,000l., which was offered as an inducement for the acceptance of the income tax. In the year 1845, when the income tax was renewed, the remission of taxes amounted to about 4,000,000l. [Mr. GOULBURN: To 4,500,000l.] The right hon. Gentleman says the remission amounted to 4,500,000l. I will not refer to 1848, because the renewal of the income tax was under peculiar and exceptional circumstances; but now, in the year 1851, we are invited to renew the income tax, not upon the ground of reductions of a beneficial character, reaching to 4,000,000l., or to 2,000,000l., or to 1,500,000l., but on the ground of reductions amounting only to between 400,000l. and 500,000l.—I mean the reduction of duty on coffee and timber. That is one of my objections to the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman. I object to it because he applies on so narrow a scale principles sound in themselves, and beneficial to the country; and until you have completed your system the application of which ought to be the basis of your whole system of financial arrangements. That is one objection to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman; and the other objection is this—I don't object to the repeal of the window tax, for the window tax appears to me, as it appears to other Gentlemen, to be a tax bad in itself. The window tax is, in fact, a house tax; and while I consider that a house tax levied in respect of windows is a very bad tax, I am of opinion that a house tax levied in respect of value, is a very good tax; and its being a good tax is of vital importance, because you cannot exclude from your view the probability, nay 62 the certainty, that contingencies may arise, and are likely to arise, which will render it necessary for public purposes to draw everything you can from the fountain of a house tax. The income tax is proposed to be renewed: is this income tax to be a permanent portion of our finances or not? I think there is a general opinion in this House that one of two things must happen, either that the income tax must undergo an adjustment, and the schedules be arranged in reference to various classes of the community, or some day or other it must fail. Now, is that adjustment so easy a matter? Two of the greatest men that ever handled the finances of this country—Mr. Pitt and Sir Robert Peel—have had their minds definitively directed to the object, and both of them have, upon principle, been deeply convinced of the impossibility of so adjusting it. They may he right, or they may be wrong. I am not now going into that question; but if we are generally agreed in opinion that the income tax must be so adjusted, or must fall, and if those authorities are against the possibility of adjustment, you are not secure in looking to 5,500,000l. of income tax as a permanent portion of your finances. But when that 5,500,000l. is withdrawn, how is the void to be filled? I do not think that any hon. Gentleman who hears me, at least if he be a practical man, can be so sanguine as to believe that you are likely to be able to bear the withdrawal of that immense revenue, and also to carry on more reductions in the elastic portion of your taxes, unless you keep in view the probability, if you wish it, of obtaining a considerable sum from a house tax. There are some objections to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I feel so strongly, on account of its connexion with the great question of the income tax, that I would gladly take every opportunity which the discussions of this House allow me, to refer to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the house tax. I do not object to the rate of a house tax, but to the proposition for the exemption of all houses under 20l. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to lay under the pressure of that tax a large number of houses, and there are certain houses which he does not propose to tax; but though the Government propose to place the tax on such a narrow basis, other Gentlemen think it ought to be widened. Of course they do not ask the Government to extend the tax, for it is the constitutional 63 duty of the Government to ask for the taxes, and it would be a bad precedent for us to force upon Government the acceptance of taxes for which they are not making a request. But I see the greatest difficulty in giving to the house tax that expansion which appears to me necessary under the circumstances in which the Government are placing it. That is a most important question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that there are 3,500,000 houses, of which he proposes to tax 400,000, leaving 3,100,000 untaxed. The right hon. Gentleman has, in another part of his luminous speech, told us that one of the reasons for a house tax was this—that it was really a tax upon property—that it did not belong in its ultimate incidence to the occupier, but to the owner, of the house. I believe Mr. Mill talks of it in that sense, and that it is a tax upon real property. The right hon. Gentleman says he substitutes this house tax for the window tax, but that it will only produce two-fifths, or less than two-fifths, of what the window tax now produces; and yet he places us in such a position that we cannot greatly extend that sum, for houses under 20l. are exempted, and we can only raise it on houses valued over 20l. It appears to me that a source of revenue of importance is by this means impoverished—I will not say entirely dried up, but it is impoverished for the purposes to which it is to be applied, in consequence of the plan of the right hon. Gentleman. I assume that if this House once pass a law authorising the taxation of houses over 20l., and exempting those under 20l., it is not likely that that exemption will ever he revoked. We must, if it be once adopted as a permanent portion of the law, consider that it is not likely or possible that it will be altered so long as the house tax is in existence. Believing, therefore, that you will find it impossible to promote the expansion of the tax, I entertain the strongest objection to this portion of the plan of the right hon. Gentleman. And I should be glad if this House would refuse to grant so great a boon even as the remission of the window tax, on such grounds as the right hon. Gentleman has put forward. Those are the main and principal objections which I entertain to the plan proposed by the Government; but I am in the condition that I must choose between the two plans that have been proposed, and therefore I will take that plan 64 to which I have the least objection. With respect to the plan of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, I am afraid both my objections apply more fully to the Budget he has presented. The hon. Member says he accepts the plan of the Government with respect to the window tax and the house tax. I did not hear him make the slightest objection to them; on the contrary, he said, under the circumstances of the country, they were entitled to the acceptance of the House. Now all my objections to the house tax do not equal my objections to the Budget of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. The principle of reducing taxes upon consumption and upon articles of industry is one which I think vital for the wellbeing of the country. That principle has only found a limited application in the Budget of the Government; but, unfortunately, it is totally cancelled and erased in the Budget of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. It is a significant fact that in the course of the hon. Gentleman's speech we did not hear these two words pronounced by him—coffee and timber. I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that he agreed to the reduction of 1,150,000l. caused by the substitution of a house tax for the window tax. He does not propose to disturb that, though if he had the construction of a Budget he might possibly proceed on a different basis; but he sat down without saying anything against a portion of the surplus of 1,900,000l. being put down against the item of 1,500,000l. the amount of the window tax. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the salaries of the poor-law officers, 550,000l. in England, and 160,000l. in England, making together 710,000l. If those sums be added, they make 1,860,000l., leaving but a very small margin for a balance. That is the Budget of the hon. Gentleman. [An Hon. MEMBER: The lunatics.] As to the lunatics, I am afraid there is no room for them. What I wish to point out is this, that the whole principle of the reduction of duty on articles of consumption and the raw materials of industry, disappears entirely from the Budget of the hon. Gentleman. Now I cannot consent to vote for the renewal of the income tax on any such Budget as this. The satisfaction with which the House should agree to the renewal of the income tax must vary according to the greater or smaller extent to which that principle is applied. If it were applied on a larger scale, I should have 65 greater satisfaction in acceding to any Motion for the renewal of the income tax. I make my complaint that it is applied, in the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on a scale so narrow; but in making that complaint I must declare the preference I entertain for the Budget of the Government in comparison with the Budget of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. If the plan of that hon. Gentleman received the sanction of the House, we should for the first time proceed to vote for the renewal of the income tax, without receiving as compensation one jot or tittle of that kind of remission from Parliament which has proved from experience so beneficial to the Treasury, and is connected with that system of policy and legislation which all men were now agreed in believing is so vital to the wellbeing of the country.
§ MR. STAFFORD
had heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, with regret, but not with surprise. The intellect of the right hon. Gentleman was subtle, and his position so difficult, that it could hardly have been expected that he would have done otherwise than come to an adverse vote as regarded that class whose distress he nevertheless acknowledged. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the circumstances were different now from what they were when he voted in favour of the Motion last year. He asked whether the course the Government had been pursuing was one likely to induce the suffering class of the community, whose case was before the House, to desist from their demands? The Government had admitted the distress under which the agricultural classes were suffering; but they had taken no steps whatever to relieve them from these distresses, or to take off any portion of the burdens that pressed upon them. It was in vain that they professed their anxiety to do justice to the agricultural interest, if they continued to treat them with so much contempt and neglect, or held out to them little or no hope of measures of amelioration for the future. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the ablest financiers had been unable to adjust the income tax properly or equitably, and that without that tax he did not see how the large hiatus in the revenue occasioned by the reduction of the window tax was to be filled up; and he therefore voted for that most unjust and inquisitorial tax which, under existing circumstances, he saw no probability of being 66 taken off. It was somewhat extraordinary that the pundits and philosophers of modern times, in their notions of political economy, should find it impossible to agree with any one: the right hon. Gentleman, who was unable to agree with the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, was also utterly unable to agree with the scope and plan of financial policy of the Government. If no other reason had existed for the Motion brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, would be a sufficient justification of it. The right hon. Gentleman came down to the House, supposing that an attempt was to be made to reimpose the window tax, and had burst into an extravagant eulogy upon the Government plan. But although he had claimed the measure as a great boon to the agricultural classes, he forgot that those farmers whose rents were under 200l. paid no window tax. In his eulogy, also, he had entirely forgotten to advert to that portion of the plan proposed by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire which had reference to Ireland, the most distressed portion of their agricultural population. Confining his attention to the English farmers, he appeared to have forgotten that, whereas there was in that country a large amount of trade, commerce, and manufactures, in Ireland, the population was dependent almost exclusively upon land, and they had the least reason to be thankful for the hasty and violent change which had been made in their commercial and financial policy. It became his (Mr. Stafford's) duty, as the representative of a merely agricultural constituency, to state plainly on this occasion the feelings of those he had the honour to represent, and the course of conduct they were likely to pursue if Parliament should continue to disregard their complaints. It was allowed on all sides that amid the general prosperity there was one class of the community, the class to which his constituents belonged, which was suffering severely. It was in vain for the Minister to put words in the Speech from the Throne, expressive of a hope that those sufferings would be but transitory, when they adduced no ground for entertaining such a hope. The prosperity of the manufacturing and other classes was made the theme of congratulation; but the farmers believed that that very prosperity was founded on their own ruin, and they felt that the present price of agricultural 67 produce was not sufficient to meet the capital they had invested, the labour they employed, and the taxes that were demanded of them. With regard to the subject of prices, there were three positions in which that question might be taken. If it should be said that agricultural prices were remunerative, he would then ask, whence the distress existing among the agricultural classes? If, on the other hand, it should be admitted that prices were unproductive, then he would ask, what reason was there for believing that circumstances would change and make prices better? But if, finally, it should be said that it was not the business of the Legislature to arrange prices, but that they roust be left to find their own level (and that was what he expected would he said, because it was consistent with the present policy of the Government)—then to that proposition he would venture to address a few observations. Of late years one Ministry had been destroyed, and another had been kept in power, by the cry of free trade—a cry which the present Ministers never failed to resort to with great effect. Every executive failure and every financial blunder was excused on account of the cry of. "free trade." The Protectionists were held up as a terror; and the caution of hon. Members opposite was, "Take care what you do in opposing the Government; for, if they are defeated, the Protectionists will come back, and you know not what they may do when once they resume office." Even the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), though in general he had shown himself above such petty artifice, was sometimes frightened by this cry of "Wolf!" After all this experience, however, the people were at length beginning to ask what was free trade? They had been told that the opposite principle was both dangerous and vicious—therefore, what was free trade? Was it the abolition of all foreign custom-houses? Was it, as the hon. Member for Oldham once said, as free as the winds that wafted his vessel on the wave? Was it the abolition of our own customhouses? How could that be said, when 22,000,000l. of money were still raised by Customs duties? Was it the repeal of the duties on the primary necessaries of life? Not at all, for there were Customs duties on cheese, butter, tea, and other articles, yielding a revenue of between 9,000,000l. and 10,000,000l. sterling. Was it the freedom of their inland trade? Could they, in this land of commercial liberty, do what 68 they pleased with their own products? Did the ironhanded and inquisitorial excise-man never interfere? The answer was, that 13,000,000l. of revenue were raised by the Excise duties. Was it an entire freedom of duty on their cereal productions? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster (Mr. F. Peel) had recently called attention to the fact, that a considerable revenue was derived from the duty on cereal products, which duty was equal to 2½ per cent at the present prices. As, then, free trade was not any of these things, what was it? He would tell the House what he believed it at this moment appeared to be to a great portion of their fellow-subjects; it appeared to them to be a most novel and a most odious system of class legislation. It appeared to them to be an experiment to try how much injury, how much indignity, how much insult one class of the people—and that the most numerous, the most ancient, and not the least loyal class, would bear before they were driven to desperation. The farmers of England would answer that question for themselves very shortly. If Parliament permitted them to go on, as they were permitting them now to go on, without any relief from their sufferings, or anything more than mere wordy sympathy, they would set about adjusting that question for themselves. And for what was all this sacrifice demanded? To procure cheap bread for the people. But what was dear bread? It was but lately that the attention of the House was called to a particular spot within 24 hours' distance of this metropolis, where the cost of maintenance for an individual was stated to be 11¼d. a week. Was that dear bread? And yet from that very district there arose the cry of famine so loud, and the details of those who were dying in that district were so appalling, that the Government were called upon to exercise extraordinary powers in order to arrest so dreadful a calamity; thus showing, for the thousandth time, that the question of dear or cheap bread was not merely the price of the article, but that it depended upon the means possessed by the consumer for obtaining it. He was aware that all the information possessed by the House showed that the community at large, with the exception of the agricultural class, possessed these means; but was that a reason for refusing to listen to the claims of those who were alone suffering? He did not ask the House to repeal any particular class of taxation; all he asked was, that the pe- 69 culiar difficulties of the agricultural class should be taken into consideration. He would venture to assume that they would not do that justice to the farmers. Taking the case, however, that the House passed the Resolution of his hon. Friend, of course a feeling of satisfaction would be diffused throughout the agricultural districts. But what if the House should refuse to pass it? This was not the first time he had called attention to this part of the subject. Recent circumstances had shown to those who watched the signs of the times that some things less likely to an incredulous imagination might happen than this—that the farmers of England might refuse their further confidence in those who at present possessed it, and that they might select from among themselves, or from other quarters, candidates who were pledged to a reduction of taxation at all hazards. To justify the course pursued towards the agricultural class, it had been argued that other interests had been compelled to submit to lower prices and smaller profits. But that argument would not silence the farmers. The only effect of lowering prices would be to raise the value of money, and thus enable speculators to still more glut the markets than at present. How, he asked, did they who were prepared to support the public credit propose to deal with a discontent engendered by distress and goaded by despair, if the sufferers should turn to other and more violent remedies than what others might choose to contemplate? How would they deal with them if they put into the hands of the farmers the argument that the plighted faith of Parliament had been broken with the cultivators of the land? It might be then, and more especially if the newly-intended Reform Bill purposed to swamp the agricultural districts of England—it might be, if the design was to make the voice of the towns omnipotent even in the rural districts—it might he, that though Parliament might swamp them for all purposes of conservation, it would only make them still stronger for purposes of dishonour. If that which was now talked of at market tables, and which was brooded over by men of broken hearts and broken spirits, should eventually come to pass, Parliament would not have to blame him, and those with whom he acted, who had warned them of it. He and his friends had counselled hon. Gentlemen opposite to turn their attention to this subject, and, though they might not re-enact the import duties, at all events not to yield to those 70 mobs who, the right hon. Gentleman stated, were ready to hiss at the very notion of public honour. He called upon the House to show, by their votes, by their taxation, and by their legislation, that they still believed that the farmers of England had a right to their kind sympathy and commiseration. It would be the part of Parliament to maintain the public credit and the institutions of the country; but it might be that, neglected as they were and had been, the farmers might take the cause into their own hands, and hon. Gentlemen might too late regret the course they had pursued, and might at length discover that the agriculturists of this country formed too large a class to be ruined without involving in their ruin that of all the best interests of the country.
§ MR. ALCOCK
would remind the House that when the repeal of the malt tax was introduced last year by the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cayley), the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) not only voted in favour of the repeal of that tax, but spoke most earnestly and forcibly in explanation of the grounds of his vote on that occasion; saying that public credit must be at a low ebb if it could not afford to lose 5,500,000l. Upon a more recent occasion also, he (Mr. Alcock) found the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire supporting the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) on the subject of the income tax. The truth was that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire was the greatest financial reformer in that House, for he asked the House to throw away not only the 5,500,000l. raised by the malt tax, but also the 5,500,000l. raised by the income tax, amounting together to fully one-fifth of the entire national income. He found, moreover, that the hon. Gentleman was not only inconsistent in supporting those two propositions, but he was also altogether at variance with those with whom he was supposed to act on this occasion. Lord Stanley and the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) were much too cautious, wary, and practical men and politicians to allow themselves for a moment to stand by such propositions as these. Therefore it was on this occasion that he (Mr. Alcock) would vote against the proposition of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. He did not, however, take that course, because he did not feel interested in the case of the agriculturists, but be- 71 cause he did not choose to be one of the followers of such a leader—a man whom he had proved to be totally inconsistent, and who stood self-convicted of political dishonesty.
§ MR. J. SANDARS
said, it could not be denied at the present time that the landed interest was suffering severely, owing to its having boon placed in unrestricted competition with all the world. If he could believe, with the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, that that interest was at this moment suffering under the weight of unfair burdens or undue taxation, he (Mr. Sandars) would be one of the first in that House to support the Motion before them; but he believed, on a full and minute examination of the whole system of taxation in this country, that the landed interest was not unfairly or unduly taxed; he therefore felt it his duty to oppose the Motion. At all events, he declined to enter into the subject of the removal of local burdens, unless there was a distinct understanding from the Protectionist party that they were prepared to relinquish all idea of an import duty upon corn. How could he (Mr. Sandars), representing as he did a commercial community, vote for a Motion which would prevent his constituents receiving the advantages of the removal of the window tax, and the remission of the duty on coffee and foreign timber? It was very currently rumoured that the Protectionist party in that House were not disposed to abandon this question, but wished to keep it alive to be considered as an open question by a Parliament hereafter to be elected. A noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had issued a programme of his intentions, in which he indicated his policy to be to reimpose a system of import duties in this country. He (Mr. Sandars) thought such a proposal as that involved a most dangerous principle; and if a great party was to be established in this country on such a principle he was hardly surprised to observe the noble Lord confess that he could only find one Gentleman of sufficient parliamentary capacity to lend his aid to such a policy. A system of import duties had been tried and found wanting; and no later than 1840, when there was a large deficit in the public finances, and when trade and commerce were at the lowest ebb, the right hon. Gentleman the then Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed an increase of 5 per cent on the import duties of this 72 country. What was the result of that measure? Did it answer all the then Chancellor of the Exchequer's expectations? That right hon. Gentleman thought an increase of 5 per cent on the Customs and Excise duties would enhance the revenue by 1,895,000l. Was that the case? No. The only increase that accrued to the revenue from that step was 206,000l. "I cannot," said the late Sir Robert Peel, in 1842, "consent to impose a greater-amount of taxation on the articles of consumption of the labouring classes of this country." The policy of the House for the last ten years had proved the wisdom of that course, for during that period 10,000,000l. of taxes have been repealed, and yet the revenue has increased, and is now in a most prosperous condition. Could any one believe that the House would retrace its steps on this question? He would ask hon. Members to look at the fearful consequences which would result to the commercial classes in the country if their powers of competition with foreign nations were weakened or crippled. If that large portion of the community did not spin and weave for the four quarters of the globe, the subsistence and happiness of millions of our population would be destroyed. That competition went on day by day and year by year increasing in force and intelligence, and formed the great social question of our times. If adequate provision were not made for that class of the population, there must be danger. There had been statesmen who believed that the true solution of their difficulties was the making new markets for our products, the admitting the raw materials of those products untaxed, and cheapening the subsistence of the people. He was of that opinion. There was, undoubtedly, distress among the agriculturists, for distress there must be in the transition from a position involving national injustice, to one which was just and equitable. Distress among the landed interest was no new thing, even in times of protection. Such distress existed in the time of Lord Castlereagh and Lord Sidmouth, when the whole aim of the Government was to protect the landed interest by a system of import duties. Even as late as 1840, when we had high import duties and high prices, we had a discontented people. At that time the potteries were in insurrection; then ten thousand men threatened the peace of the north, and it required all the forethought 73 of the Minister of that day to provide for the public safety. He (Mr. Sandars) believed that the history of the last few years had made a deep and lasting impression on the people of this country. The people of England and Ireland felt that, owing to the legislation of Parliament, the lives of thousands had been saved, and the sufferings of tens of thousands had been alleviated. That legislation had given contentment to the poor man, prosperity to the middle class, and security to the rich. He should fear for the continued success of that legislation if the Motion before the House should be adopted, because he believed the policy involved in that Motion was at variance with the sentiments, the wishes, and the intelligence of the people of this country: he should deprecate the introduction of the schemes of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, because he believed they would have a tendency to lower the aristocracy and gentry from that high position they now so justly occupied in public esteem; and, lastly, he should regret his success, because he believed, in his heart, it would undermine and destroy that confidence in the justice and benevolence of Parliament, which now reigns throughout the masses of the people.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said, the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Alcock), had told the House that he should oppose the Motion on two grounds: first, that the hon. Member who brought it forward, had last year voted for the repeal of the malt tax; and, secondly, that the hon. Member had this year proposed the repeal of the income tax. Those were the two reasons upon which the hon. Member for East Surrey had opposed the Motion. Unfortunately, the first of them was totally irrelevant, and the second utterly untrue. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had given the House an agreeable, and, to a certain extent, a valuable exercitation on a vast variety of events which had taken place at a remote period of English history, and many, no doubt, in themselves proper subjects of investigation, but which had no conceivable reference to the question now under discussion, and to which he (Lord J. Manners) desired to recall the attention of the House. What was the position of the Government, who opposed the proposition of his hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), and that great suffering interest whose distress they admitted? Commencing the Session with a declaration that the agricultural was the 74 only suffering interest in the community, they had since acted as if it were the only prospering one. Like men who looked one way and rowed another, they met the untoward result of now "fouling" a barge, and now "running aground." If they were the only sufferers by such a course—if their state vessel alone were damaged by the catastrophe, he should not complain; but what excited his indignation was, that the yeomanry of England and Ireland should suffer from these discrepancies between the professions and the acts of the Administration, and that it was on the agricultural interest of the empire that the consequences of these misdoings fell. He was the more surprised at this conduct of the Government, because never a winter elapsed but some great Whig took especial pains to instil into the agricultural mind an impression that the Government were resolved to do something to mitigate their distress. One year it was a bed-chamber Lord who summoned the yeomanry, and confidentially asked them if they would accept a moderate fixed duty. Another year it was an exalted personage, high in the confidence of the First Minister, who gave people to understand that a moiety at least of the Cabinet were prepared to do something for the distress they all admitted. This year, with that admission of distress in the Speech—full, clear, explicit, and unlimited—with that surplus in the Exchequer—even the most incredulous were led to believe that if the Government, compelled by past professions, or acting conscientiously on their own convictions, were indisposed to propose a fixed duty, or even to accede to the just and moderate proposal of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, at least they would apply the surplus they boasted to the relief of the distress they deplored. And that general conviction received still greater strength from the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer opposed the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli); for the right hon. Gentleman complained of the time at which it was brought forward, just before he was to unfold his budget, in which he hinted that balm would be found for the wounds of the suffering agriculturists. And balm there was—more efficacious than the Balm of Columbia—a happy concoction of cloverseed and pauper lunatics. No one after that could pretend to say that he was not a sincere friend of the suffering agriculturists. Yet the right hon. Gentle- 75 man's friendship was not much to be depended on, for when the smallness of his relief was complained of, he withdrew in anger what he had granted in compassion. Now, what was the vote which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire asked the House to give? Stripped of the extraneous considerations with which the perverted ingenuity of the right hon. President of the Board of Trade and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had invested it, it was this—Will the House vote that justice shall be refused to that one interest of the community which is admitted to be suffering, or shall it, at least in principle, be conceded? Now, the Government, speaking by the right hon. President of the Board of Trade, had given the House to understand that they would consent to no measure of justice, to no mitigation of the distress of that interest whose distress they admitted; and the right hon. Gentleman told that half ruined and suffering agricultural interest that it must look for relief in that charming paragraph of the Queen's Speech. This reminded them that if in that paragraph the distress was admitted, the true remedy and consolation were also pointed out. And what was that? It was couched in language almost epigrammatic. "The suffering interest of agriculture must find relief in the reaction consequent upon the prosperity of the manufacturing classes." Before proceeding further, he begged to call the attention of the House to the extraordinary programme which the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. J. Wilson), put forward in a publication at the commencement of this year, as a guide to farming operations in England and throughout the world. Another twelve months of distress had passed over the heads of the farmers of England and Ireland, and at the commencement of the present year—a season at which men are accustomed to associate pleasant anticipations with the retrospect of the past, the hon. Member conceived it to be a favourable opportunity for accounting for the failure of the legislation he supported, and of cajoling the men whom he had contributed to ruin. The hon. Member wrote thus on the 11th of January last:—The disappointment which we must admit has been generally felt in our corn markets throughout the year, has been shared on the Continent. 'The hopes and expectations,' say Messrs. Hoyock, of Amsterdam, 'which persons believed they might form of 1850 have not been realised.' What is true of Amsterdam is equally true here, 76 and it indicates when men have been generally mistaken—Here he (Lord J. Manners) must remark that as Mr. Woodward had not been "mistaken," and as a great party in and out of that House had not been "mistaken," for "men" they must read "freetraders"—"that some general cause has been active, not a local cause, such as the alteration of a law, in leading them generally astray. Probably the great discussion about that law may have had more effect than the abolition of the law itself. It begot a general notion that when the law was abolished, England could supply a market for an indefinite quantity of corn; and as the abolition of our law was known before it actually took place, a great quantity of corn was grown in preparation for our market. From that over-production, or more production and lower prices than are justified by the average markets, or can be maintained, our markets, and the markets of all the world, are now temporarily depressed. The present rates, however, are not likely to be permanent rates, and if they are, merchants and agriculturists in almost all parts of the world will be deceived as much as the corn-dealers of England.That was what the hon. Member for Westbury wrote on the 11th of January this year, and no one could doubt that on the 11th of January, 1852, the hon. Gentleman would again come forward and profess that he was again "mistaken," and console the ruined agriculturists by hinting that the agriculturists of other parts of the world were equally unfortunate. But was there the least reason to believe that prices would rise, as the hon. Member gave the country to understand? He would not enter into that question, but would come to the declaration of the right hon. President of the Board of Trade, that the agricultural interest must look for relief alone to the continued prosperity of the manufacturing interest. Now, for the purpose of debate, it had been all through the Session admitted that the manufacturing prosperity was real. It was true, indeed, that on a recent occasion the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had found it convenient, no doubt in perfect consistency with the truth, to qualify in a most remarkable manner these statements of prosperity, and that, in almost every trade circular that had been published during the last three months, there were pregnant and signal admissions of distress and depression. But, for purposes of argument, he was willing to admit an unbounded degree of manufacturing and commercial prosperity. When, however, he was asked to look for relief of permanent agricultural distress to manufacturing prosperity, he must assure himself that not 77 only it was as great as had been represented, but that it was based upon a firm foundation, and was likely to endure. Now he confessed that he could not bring himself to believe that manufacturing prosperity, however great it might be at present, was based on so secure a foundation. Neither could he see his way to the conclusion that even if that prosperity were secure and permanent, it must necessarily react favourably on agriculture. Under former circumstances such would have been the result; but now an immense amount of proof would be required to demonstrate that English agriculture would derive permanent benefit from the prosperity of the manufactures of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Was that property, however, so secure and permanent as the argument of the Government required it to be proved? He had no wish to state details to the House, but he was struck the other night when his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Cardwell) quoted from the circular of Messrs. Littledale, in proof of great prosperity; and he suggested to his hon. Friend that if he had read on to the end of the circular, he would have seen that the Messrs. Littledale took a different view of the question to what his hon. Friend did. He now held in his hand the circular published that day week, and he would read an extract:—We regret again to have to repeat the same unvarying tale of dulness in our markets. Seldom has such a state of things continued, with very little change, for three months in succession, as in the first quarter of 1851.The circular states that some markets are in a satisfactory state; but it goes on to say—We do not believe that the country at large is by any means in as prosperous a condition as is generally supposed. Hence this protracted depression. To say nothing of the agricultural and shipping interest, which are notoriously in a bad state, scarcely one article of import gives a profit to the importer at present; and even among different classes of manufacturers complaints are general. The silkmen cannot get rid of their stocks. In the woollen districts short time is being partially resorted to. At Manchester the woollen trade continues dull, and, though the export of cotton yarns shows a slight increase over 1850, the quantity alone is not an infallible test of the prosperity of the export trade; and many a pound of yarn and yard of cotton have been exported which left no profit; indeed, the cotton and wool dyers and finishers have been loud in their complaints. The iron trade is in the most depressed state. Now, with all these adverse circumstances, how can the country be said to be prosperous? How can it be otherwise than that the produce markets should feel the effects?He found in that morning's commercial 78 report of the Times, corroboration of the statement as far as Manchester was concerned:—If a change in the yarn or cloth market can be noted at all to-day, it is a little less languid. On Tuesday prices were ⅛d. lower than on Saturday in yarns, and 1½d. per piece on cloth. To-day the downward tendency was less marked, and greater steadiness of prices prevailed; but the extent of transactions was small, and buyers appeared to be confining their operations to the narrowest limits. Many of the private letters of the last overland India mail are said to have been very dispiriting, and scarcely reconcilable with the encouraging tone of the accounts by the previous mail. Under those circumstances some of the export houses in that trade have closed their purchases for the present, or operate with much caution. In the Levant trade accounts continue to come of a harassing character. Not only do the markets appear to be abundantly stocked with prints, which are almost unsaleable at any price, but plain cloths and yarns are depressed in price and unremunerative; still exporters in this market are doing quite as much here to-day as they have done for some time past. In the home trade business continues very languid, notwithstanding the fineness of the weather; and an opinion is freely put forth in some quarters, though not generally acquiesced in, that it is in a great degree attributable to the steadiness with which the working classes are hoarding their earnings to visit the Great Exhibition.Now, even admitting the manufacturing prosperity to be as great as it was pretended to be, he could not, with these practical opinions before him, confirmed by every trade circular which had been issued, Convince himself that the manufacturing interest was in a prosperous condition. But even if it were so, let him ask how it was to react favourably for British agriculture? Would Manchester cottons, would Yorkshire woollens, be exchanged for the beeves of Norfolk, or the corn of Cambridgeshire? Not unless they could be sold at less prices than the beeves of Holstein, or the grain of New York. And let him ask what were the prices at which these foreign commodities were coming into our markets? The House used to be told by the hon. Member for Manchester, that from New York the freight alone was equivalent to a protection duty of 10s. a quarter. What was the fact? That freights from New York to Liverpool were for the past year from 6d. to 1s. a barrel, that is, from 1s. to 2s. per quarter. Mr. Woodward, the eminent corn-factor of Liverpool, had recently given the following account, taken from his own books:—Freights, 1849. Brest, 3s.; Hamburgh, 3s.; Bremen, 3s.; Holland, 1s. 6d. to 2s.; Belgium, 2s. 6d., 1s. 10d., 1s. 6d., and, in one instance, 1s. 3d.; Alexandria, 3s. 3d. and 2s. 9d. per quar- 79 ter. Beans, 1850—Hamburgh, 2s. and 1s. 6d.; Holland, 1s. 9d. and 1s. 6d.; Belgium (crack vessel of 300 tons), at 1s. per quarter.And from Brest wheat had been imported at 32s. 4d., barley at 14s., and oats at 11s. 7d. The House could easily estimate how far the results of the reaction which it was said would benefit the English agriculturist would be reaped by the foreigner. The Government had given the House no ground whatever for believing that the distress would diminish; and he believed that it was deep, wide-spread, and permanent. He now asked the House if it meant to do anything to alleviate that distress which they must admit to exist? He had heard it that night stated as a question of "cheap bread." He was as anxious as any one to see cheap bread. He was not now going to argue the question as to protection or free trade. But the position he took up was this, that by legislation the Parliament depressed the farmers, laying upon them taxes which enhanced the price of the commodity they produced. He asked two House to bring their professions on this subject more into accordance with their practice, and prevent the legislation of this country from continuing to present the lamentable, though ludicrous, spectacle of persevering in a policy professing for its principle that the cheap production of food is the summum bonum of human legislation, and at the same time continuing to exact 10s. a quarter in taxation on every quarter of corn raised in England. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) had told the farmers that they should grow less corn, and graze more, and that probably a drawback would be allowed to the farmer on malt, in order that he might use it as food in the fattening of cattle. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer smiled; but he (Lord J. Manners) would remind him that when the master manufacturers some time since made a similar demand for a drawback (for their special behoof, and for the benefit of no other class) upon soap, it was granted without hesitation; and in the "case" presented to the House that year by the soap manufacturers, he found the agreeable fact that on at least one-tenth of all the soap manufactured, the master manufacturers of Yorkshire and Lancashire enjoyed a drawback. Under all these circumstances, then, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire said, "You admit the distress—you boast your surplus—will you apply it in mitigation of the 80 distress?" Did his hon. Friend ask for the appropriation of the surplus to the advantage of the great landowners of the country? No such thing. His appeal was on behalf of the suffering tenantry of England and Ireland. And when the right hon. Gentleman opposite made an appeal to the owners of property who "boasted of 10,000l.a year," that appeal met with no response on that side of the House. This was a question affecting not the proprietors of large estates, but the suffering tenantry—the depressed agricultural class—whose distress was admitted. The Government represented that the distress had not yet descended to the peasantry of the country. He thought any one who looked at the state of Ireland must he aware that the state of all classes in that country merited the solemn consideration of that House. He hoped it might be true, that in England the pressure had not yet descended upon the peasantry. But sure he was, that if the peasantry were not at present sufferers from this wide-spread distress, it could not be said that they had derived any benefit from the measures which had produced it. It might be true—he hoped it was—that, owing to the unparalleled exertions of the owners and occupiers of the soil, the strain of the pressure had not yet descended to the peasantry. But were there no signs of its doing so? He held in his hand the last report of one county, not the least important or entitled to consideration—he meant Lincolnshire. It was published that day, and was as follows:—Spalding:—The distress to which the agricultural interest is now exposed, aggravated in some districts by the blight of last season ["Hear, hear"] is producing misery around the towns of Spalding and Holbeach, and the best workmen have quitted the scene of their usual employment, giving their strength to a rival country; while others less energetic, driven by a necessity which knows no law, have become reckless. The many robberies that have recently been committed, afford a fit idea of the demoralisation which is going on.When he had read the words referring to "the blight of last season," he had heard some hon. Members cheer. Would they allow him to ask them if they believed that the blight of a single season would drive hundreds of English labourers to emigrate to foreign lands? Badly as they might think of the "pluck" of the agriculturists, he did not think any one could conceive that a single blight could break up hundreds of rural homes. When he read the passage as to the increase of crime in this 81 important district, he was reminded that those Gentlemen who were the greatest sticklers for the policy of free trade, had invariably laid the greatest stress on its tendency to diminish crime. He knew, however, what the opinions of the Judges who had just concluded the assizes in the midland counties were, and that they had attributed the enormous increase of crime to one cause—the want of employment caused by general distress. He was also aware that Mr. Justice Cresswell, in charging the grand jury at Liverpool, stated that he could not account for the dreadful increase of crime in that district. But in another district—the eastern—the grand jury of the county of Suffolk had not found themselves at a loss to account for the same awful and ominous occurrence, and had presented the following presentment:—The number of commitments to the county gaol for the last four years shows a constant increase of crime. We attribute this in great measure to the want of employment from which the labourers are suffering; and the heavy losses sustained by the occupiers of land and other industrial classes, preventing them from giving the usual employment to the labouring population. This is one of the great causes which has crowded the gaols with prisoners. We submit the relative number of commitments to Bury gaol: In 1847, 532 commitments; in 1848, 620 commitments; in 1849, 630 commitments; in 1850, 772 commitments.These were serious facts, which it was well that the Government of the country should closely investigate, and carefully consider. If it were true that the pressure had not yet been felt in the lowest class of the agricultural community, it was with all the more earnestness he entreated the House to interfere now, ere it was too late, to save that all-important class of our fellow-citizens from the ruin which was now imminent and hanging over them. It might be a matter of indifference to some hon. Members that the owners and occupiers of land should experience distress, and sink under difficulties. It might be a matter of indifference to them that the old ancestral halls of English country gentlemen should be closed against the calls of hospitality or the claims of duty. It might be matter of indifference to them that the modest comforts and manly recreations which heretofore had embellished and adorned the never very remunerative profession of farming should henceforth be excluded from the granges and the farms of the occupiers of the soil. But he begged them to beware how they lessened the demand for labour, how 82 they diminished the wages, how they reduced the comforts, of the peasantry of England and Ireland. Ere it was too late—while yet they might not have suffered from the distress which already prevailed, he entreated the House to interfere that night to prevent the distress which they all admitted to exist, among those classes least able to sustain it, and acting upon the dictates of their own reason to prevent the ruin which he believed was imminent over the agricultural interest of this great empire.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he would endeavour, in the observations he intended to offer to the House, to address himself closely to the question brought before them by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. He did not think the hon. Gentleman intended by his Motion to lead them into a discussion on the various parts of the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; on the contrary, he seemed to agree for the most part that that Budget was acceptable to the country, and that it must pass the House. He (Mr. Bright) would not be tempted to go into the question of the corn law to an extent which might be justified by the speeches of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), and the noble Lord the Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners). He must say that those hon. Gentlemen and others did their leaders great damage by the course they took in this and similar discussions. If he understood the object of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—taking it from his speeches in that House—he came to the conclusion that the hon. Gentleman was convinced that any project of returning to protection was the merest delusion; and that he (Mr. Disraeli) knew perfectly well—every man who considered the subject must know—that so long as hon. Gentlemen opposite would have this question of protection as the main part of their policy, they (their leaders) were destined to sit on the shady side of the House, and they could never cross the table, and sit on the Ministerial benches. He, therefore, would advise all those who supported the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire to avoid the question of protection altogether, as one which had been finally and irrevocably settled. Now, the hon. Gentleman had made this proposition to the House, that the agricultural interest (the labourers, who were once a part of the agricultural interest, were now left out)—that the agricultural interest, consisting of the 83 owners and occupiers of land, had some special claim to some special relief. He had assumed that they were suffering generally, if not universally, throughout the United Kingdom; but he had not brought anything like proof, first of all, that the owners and occupiers of land were suffering much, or, indeed, that they were suffering at all; and, secondly, the hon. Gentleman had failed, he thought, to show that they had any special claim to relief, even if they were suffering. Now, he (Mr. Bright) admitted that the hon. Member had a right to assume the fact of the alleged distress, when arguing with the noble Lord at the head of the Government, because the noble Lord, with that want of caution which not unfrequently distinguished him, had admitted into the Queen's Speech a paragraph which was a direct invitation to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire to get Up a discussion on this topic in the first week of the Session; and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, committing another blunder, had brought forward a proposition in his first Budget which he ought not to have done, but which, if brought forward, hon. Gentlemen opposite had a right to expect he would adhere to. That paragraph and proposition had caused the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire to get up this interesting discussion on a subject which he (Mr. Bright) had hoped was worn threadbare. Now, he Was prepared at once to dispute half their case—that is, that the owners of land were suffering distress, or that they had any claim on such ground to come to that House for relief. The hon. Member for Herefordshire (Mr. Booker) had said the other night that there had been a fall of rent to the amount of 25 per cent; but though that hon. Gentleman's oratory might be applauded in Herefordshire, yet he (Mr. Bright) believed that that was a fact which he durst not assert in the face of the farmers of that county. Now, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had admitted that night, or rather he had assumed, that the reduction of rent might be taken to be 10 per cent. He (Mr. Bright) did not believe it was 10 per cent. However, he had never seen a single case authenticated which went beyond 15 per cent. He had found many cases in which no reduction had been made; and where there had been reduction, it was very often not made by permanent agreement with the landlord, but it was merely a temporary remission, precisely 84 such as he had known to be given by landlords on several distinct occasions. He took it for granted, therefore, that the fall of rent was to a very small extent; and that, in point of fact, it was not worth comparing with the losses which those who had property invested in other ways, except in land, were constantly liable to in all parts of the kingdom. Now, there might be, and he believed there were, cases of difficulty among landowners, and particularly among the landowners in Ireland. There were landowners who had small net incomes and large rent-rolls, and from extravagance and other causes they had engaged to give to their creditors, or to the annuitants of one kind or another, nine-tenths of their actual rent-roll. Of course a fall of 10 per cent in such cases was equal to the destruction of the whole income. But this was no fault of free trade or of the free-traders; the Manchester school were not to be blamed for anything of that kind. They (the Manchester school) had never admired settlements and entails. On the contrary, they would prefer seeing landed property free. They had never recommended gentlemen who could not afford it to keep a great house in the country and a great house in town, or that so many packs of hounds and other sources of enjoyment should he maintained. He confessed that if he were a landed proprietor—and he was very sorry he was not—he should feel humiliated if his advocate in that House made such a speech as the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had made to-night and on former occasions. Now, let him ask if there was any class that passed so triumphantly through every commercial hurricane and disaster as did the class of landed proprietors? Why, it was notorious that that was the case. He saw that the candidate at Aylesbury had given, as a proof of the distressed condition of the landed proprietors, that money invested in land only returned 2½ per cent. Why, that in itself was a proof of the security of the return from land, and that it was not subject to the vicissitudes to which other property was liable. There were some in that House who could tell a tale respecting investments of another character—investments, for instance, in the manufacture of iron during the last four years. They could tell of the extraordinary revulsion which had taken place in that time, consequent on the demand for iron for railway purposes having declined. He could speak 85 of his own trade, although he could not Confirm the view taken of it by the noble Lord the Member for Colchester. Yet he could state that a very large portion of that trade during the last five years, when there were three failures in the American cotton crop—that, during these years all the coarse departments of the trade had been of the most unprofitable character. The noble Lord (Lord J. Mariners) had read from Mr. Littledale's circular the parts that suited him—not the parts that suited another view of the question—not the statement which that circular contained that the trade appeared to be settled on a solid and sound basis. Why, the noble Lord ought to know that trade had been so good in Yorkshire for the last two years, and the increase in the consumption of wool so great, that the price of wool had become extremely high, and that it was the price of the raw material at this moment which was interfering with profits in Yorkshire. It was only yesterday that he (Mr. Bright) came from the Hatfield station on the Great Northern railway to London in company with a buyer of wool, who told him that his trade was bad at present—that wool was so dear, and so little of it to be had, that, as a buyer of wool from the farmers, and a seller of it to the Yorkshire manufacturers, he found his trade entirely unprofitable. He (Mr. Bright) gathered from that fact, that the farmers were enjoying a considerable profit on their wool, and that it had been a prosperous article for a very long period. But the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had made an admission which was worth something. He said he calculated that the landowners, losing 10 per cent of rental, were losing 6,000,000l. per annum; but he added that the fall of rent gave them no claim whatever to come to that House for relief. He (Mr. Bright) was very glad to hear that fact asserted by the hon. Member. But then a great number of his followers held a very different opinion, and he (Mr. Bright) had heard even from the Ministerial benches in former times that it was necessary to keep up the price of corn in order to keep up the rent. But if the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire would now look at this fact, that the labouring population were comfortably off, and generally in a state of prosperity—if that prospertty had been caused by the transfer of the 6,000,000l. of rent from the landed proprietors, who never ought to have possessed it if given to them 86 by the corn law—if labourers were prosperous by the transfer of that 6,000,000l. to them, they Were enjoying that of which they had been deprived for 35 years by the operation of a law, the repeal of which was so much regretted by some hon. Gentlemen opposite. He denied altogether that the landowners were suffering, or that they were suffering to an extent which required that they should be pointed out as a suffering class. He now came to the question of the occupiers. Now, it was affirmed broadly that the occupiers of land were suffering great distress. He believed that some distress must necessarily arise from the circumstance of a temporary depression of the prices for farm produce. But this distress was not a rare malady with the occupiers of land. Violent speeches had been made in that House from 1815 upwards, in favour of relief to the distressed occupiers of land. Mr. Preston, a distinguished gentleman connected with the law, had written a pamphlet two or three years after the corn law was put on, in which he showed that the distress of the occupiers was most agonising, and that they had lost 100,000,000l. of their capital, which was transferred to other classes. There was nothing to show that any considerable portion of what they suffered now, arose directly or indirectly from the legislation of that House. But, if it did, what was the remedy proposed, stripped of anything like delusion? The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire did not propose to remedy the grievance by raising the price of corn; but his proposition was this—the making of some small transfer of a certain rate, paid now by a certain description of property, to the Consolidated Fund, by which that description of property now paying the rate should henceforth only pay a portion of it, and the rest might be distributed over the taxpayers of the united kingdom generally. In connexion with the poor-rate there were some facts to which he wished to call the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He would refer to and quote from a return moved for by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) in 1846, showing the proportions in which this rate had been levied on land, houses, and other property. He was sorry that there was no return down to the present year, because he believed that the facts proved by it would have been found to be the most conclusive argument against any proposition based upon the assumption that the landed in- 87 terest suffered unduly from the incidence of the poor-rate. In 1826, it appeared the land alone paid 69 per cent of all the poor-rate. In 1833 the land paid 63 per cent only. In 1841 it paid 52 per cent only. Thus, it would be observed, that in the period from 1826 to 1841, being a period of fifteen years, the share which the land alone paid of the whole poor-rate of the country, fell from 69 per cent to 52 per cent, that was to say, from two-thirds to about one-half of the whole amount. And he thought they might fairly take for granted, seeing the fall in those fifteen years, that a return made out to the last year would show that the land was not now paying more than forty per cent of the whole amount. [Mr. WILSON: Forty-five per cent.] The hon. Member for Westbury suggested that forty-five per cent would be the correct estimate. Well, let them look at the whole poor-rate levied. In 1833 the whole amount was 8,600,000l.; in 1842 the amount had fallen to 6,500,000l.; in 1850, last year, it had fallen to 5,395,000l. Now, here they had the broad fact, that, within the eight years during which they had had that legislation of which hon. Gentlemen opposite complained, the poor-rate of England and Wales had fallen in amount more than a million sterling. The calculations which he had made in reference to these figures were upon the assumption that the land now paid only 40 per cent, and not 45 per cent, and of course the House would make all allowance for that circumstance. He took the year 1833, and found the land paying 63 per cent—that was to say, 5,434,000l.,—and then, taking 1850, and assuming the land paid 40 per cent, they would find that in amount the land now paid only 2,158,000l. In other words, the land of England and Wales paid, in 1833, double the poor-rate which it paid in 1850. This was an important element in the question they were now considering. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Herries) shook his head; but he (Mr. Bright) did not mind that; for the right hon. Gentleman had been in the habit of shaking his head at everything from this side ever since he had entered that House. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say, for example, that the condition of the landed proprietary had not been affected by the hundreds of millions expended on railways in this country, and which now paid 300,000l. per annum to the poor-rate on parishes to which they had never con- 88 tributed a pauper? Did he mean to assert that manufacturing towns and villages could be springing up in every direction, and the moment they sprang up be taxed for the poor-rate, without to that extent relieving the land from the burthens to which it had been subjected? Why, if the right hon. Gentleman meant this, he certainly could never have been fit for the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. At any rate, these were facts to which he (Mr. Bright) had thought it not inappropriate to call the attention of the House. But the argument still was, that, notwithstanding this diminution in the poor-rates, the farmers were still distressed. That, after all, was an argument in favour of that view of the question which he and his friends took: their conviction being, that the transference of the rate from the occupying farmer to the occupying householder, by means of taxing his tea or his sugar, would not prove permanently beneficial to the tenant-farmers. For all the reductions in the poor-rate to which he had alluded, had not in the slightest degree affected the interest of the tenant-farmers, those cases, of course, excepted, in which the farm had been hold continuously at the same rent during those years over which the reductions had extended; and any transference which the hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Disraeli) could make, in the event of his obtaining a majority, would have no effect whatever on the tenant-farmer—for if there was any truth in economical science, the tenant-farmer would be compelled in the end to pay an increased rent for the land he held. Undoubtedly, however, at this moment the condition of the tenant-farmer was one which every man must regard with sympathy. He defied any one to say, looking to the course which he and his friends had pursued as free-traders in that House, that they had ever manifested any want of sympathy for any one class of the taxpayers of this country. At least there could be no denial to the assertion that they had always advocated diminished expenditure and diminished taxation; and that they had urged a diminution of taxation in that particular direction which would have alike affected all classes, inasmuch as their object had been to remove taxes from articles of general and universal consumption, and here obviously the farmer would have benefited not less than the weaver. But the farmers were in an unfortunate position; they were the victims of a vicious system; that, however, was 89 not their (the free-traders') system. It was the system of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had created it for their own purposes in 1815, and they had maintained it for their own purposes up to 1846. They had led the farmers to believe that there could be no path to prosperity but through the county Members and the House of Commons. He, for one, should be very sorry to be connected with any trade or manufacture, if he had no reliance but on the Members for Manchester. He should be extremely sorry to entrust his interests either to the intelligence on commercial subjects, or to the impartiality of political parties, in that House. The unfortunate position of those of the tenant-farmers who suffered most, consisted in this—that they notoriously held more land than they had capital to cultivate. Their case was precisely the same as that of many landowners, who owned extents of land on which they could not pay all that was due. All this was very sad. If landowners bought land only to obtain political influence, they were on the road to ruin. If a tenant-farmer took more land than he could properly cultivate in reference to his capital, he was also on the road to ruin. There were, no doubt, other questions which ought to be considered in speaking of the condition of the tenant-farmer. There was, in particular, one question, in which he (Mr. Bright) had in former years taken great interest, but the advocacy of which he had been compelled to relinquish in consequence of his not having received that aid from the farmers which their private representations had induced him to expect. He alluded to the question of the game laws. [Ironical cheers from the Protectionists.] Surely that question was as pertinent to this discussion as the question of lunatic asylums. He had mentioned the fact before, and he would again call attention to it, as a most important circumstance, that every witness examined by the Game Laws Committee (and no member of that Committee would be found to dispute the respectability or credibility of these witnesses) declared that, whenever game was even moderately preserved, greater injury was done to the farmer occupying the land, than was inflicted by the whole amount of his general and local taxes. He (Mr. Bright) was satisfied that hon. Gentlemen who preserved game, who indulged in sporting, had no conception of the evils to which their tastes gave rise in the community. 90 He, however, should be ashamed of himself if, while advocating the cause of the tenant-farmers in that House, he did not appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, supposing them to be the true friends of the occupiers of the land, either to alter the game laws, which they certainly ought to do, or, if they would not do that, at least to alter their practices, and to discontinue that system which was abhorrent to the civilization of our day, and which, at all events, was most cruelly injurious to those whom hon. Gentlemen opposite professed to represent. [Cries of"Question!"] He was sorry some hon. Gentlemen did not think that this was speaking to the question. There were those out of doors who did think that it was very near the question. Well, now (continued the hon. Gentleman), what are the remedies for the difficulties of the tenant-farmers? You have your set of remedies. We have our set of remedies. I am free at once to admit that I have no expectation, in passing from the system of the last forty years to that sound system which now prevails, and must henceforth prevail, that we shall find the tenant-farmers, one and all, and immediately, by any kind of contrivance on the part of this House, jumping into a state of unequivocal prosperity. As they now are, they have been before. I but yesterday heard of a farm in Hertfordshire which had had six tenants in eighteen years. Their prosperity was not universal in past years, and it is not now. But if they do get into a better position, it can only be by paths which are very evident; in some cases, by reductions in the rents; in other cases, by increase of produce; and in most cases, by a more successful adaptation of the powers of their farms to the production of those articles which the markets would be most willing to take from them. There is no doubt whatever that there are great numbers of tenant-farmers who are not complaining, and who have no reason for complaint. And I firmly believe that if all were like the few, and possessed the same energy, the same skill in the adaptation of the resources of their land to the requirements of the markets—above all, if they asserted their independence in making terms with their landlords, they would all overcome their difficulties, and overcome them more speedily, more certainly, and more permanently, than can he looked for from any assistance likely to be extended to them by the House of Commons. The noble Lord the 91 Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners) has adverted at some length to the present state of crime. In reference to this, I wish to state to the House some facts to which I had desired to call attention the other night, in the discussion on the income tax, but which are quite applicable on this occasion. Probably these statistics will be consolatory to the noble Lord, who is not wanting in benevolence. I hold in my hand a return of the number of persons taken into custody in Manchester since 1842, the return being for every two years. In 1842, the number was 13,801; and I believe the number was 12,000 in the two years preceding. In 1844, the number fell to 10,700; in 1846, to 7,600; in 1848, to 6,200; in 1849, to 4,600; and in 1850, the number was only 4,578. Thus, in 1850, not one-third of the number of persons were taken into custody in Manchester who were found to have been taken into custody in the year 1842. If we take the general facts as to England and Wales (not taking last year into account, as to which there is no return) we shall find a great reduction of committals from 1842 down to 1849. The diminution was from 31,000 to 27,000; and thus, although the population has increased ten per cent, the committals have decreased not less than 12½ per cent. I have now stated, in detail, what I regard as the reasons why the proposition of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) would be of no value if it were agreed to. It can only serve to delude-not the owners of the land, for they understand all these tricks—but the occupying farmers throughout the country. It will serve but to delude these men into a belief that that which is really intended as a measure to cement a party in Parliament, is intended to do something for their benefit. Now, one great result of the alteration in our commercial system with regard to corn is, I hope this—it has not come yet, but it is in process of coming about—that the farmers will no longer conceive themselves to be a class having special privileges, special rights, and special claims upon the House of Commons. They will now know that their only chance is precisely that chance which all the rest of the community enjoy—a good education for their children for the next generation, and for themselves, their intelligence, such as they have, and their industry, such as they have; and I will add, especially, the more they make themselves independent of their landlords as respects the old retainer and 92 feudal tenure, the more they enable themselves to make bargains with their landlords, just as they would with other persons with whom they do business, the sooner will they find themselves out of their present undoubted difficulties. And I will say, I believe in my conscience that, talk here for ever of agricultural distress, you will still find that there is no remedy which it is in the power of Parliament to give. The only possible chance for the farmers, is in the exercise of those virtues and those talents by which the rest of their countrymen thrive; and if they do exercise their own energies, and cultivate the quality of self-reliance, I am convinced that this country, with the finest roads, with the best markets, and not an unfavourable climate, will be found to triumph not only in her manufactures, but also in her agriculture.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, he must confess that he was one of those who were deluded by the Motion of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. He begged to announce that he was going to vote for that Motion, and his taking that course might excite some surprise, and therefore he begged the indulgence of the House while he explained the grounds which he believed would be found to justify him. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) commenced his speech by charging the noble Lord the Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners) with straying from the subject. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that he deserved that charge, the hon. Member for Manchester was not free from it himself, for he had introduced into the discussion the whole question of free trade. The hon. Member was not merely satisfied by declaring that the landed interest was not entitled to any consideration, but he stated the ground on which he came to that opinion by referring to the high price of wool. Now, he know something about the price of wool, and, spreading his recollection over a space of thirty years, he did not recollect that wool ever sunk lower than a minimum of 13s. 6d. per stone; and he found that the price of wool during the last year did not reach 14s., and now it was at the enormous price of 16s., or 1s. per pound. If the hon. Member knew as much about agriculture as he (Mr. Reynolds) did, he would not have expressed an opinion that 1s. per stone was a high price for wool. A stranger, entering the House while the hon. Gentleman had been addressing it, would have imagined that the 93 whole united kingdom was included in the manufacturing districts. The hon. Gentleman had only just glanced at Ireland; and he had only made that reference for the purpose of making an attack on the landlords. He (Mr. Reynolds) was not there as the advocate of the Irish landlords; but at the same time he would not hesitate to protest against the wholesale onslaught made upon them by the hon. Gentleman. The landlords were not guiltless, but it was also true that, to a great extent, they had been victimised by recent legislation, and that their interests had been insufficiently considered in those changes of policy which were effected at the instigation of the commercial and manufacturing classes. The hon. Gentleman, speaking of the landlords, said that he had never advised those gentlemen to go to the extravagant lengths of keeping up town houses and country houses. Now that was very kind of the hon. Gentleman. But, then, the hon. Gentleman might have remarked that the present landlords were generally the descendants of an ancient aristocracy, and that the extravagancies the results of which were now pointed out, were incurred long before the Manchesters of England had been heard of. The argument of the hon. Gentleman on this occasion was, that no protection was needed by the agricultural interest. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman; and, were it possible to construe the Motion of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire as a Motion for protection, either directly or indirectly, he, for one, would have been found voting against it. Could it be construed as a Motion for raising the price of the food of the poor, none would more warmly resist it than he would have resisted it. But did the terms of the Motion justify any such construction? The Motion went simply to this, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, being in possession of a surplus, and there being a reasonable and laudable scramble between conflicting interests to obtain the benefit of it, that interest should be first considered which was proved to be in the greatest want of legislative relief. In a question of this kind Ireland need not be blotted out of the map. That island even now contained 8,000,000 of people and 20,000,000 of statute acres, and nineteen-twentieths of those 8,000,000 derived their support, such as it was, from agricultural pursuits. Let him also remind his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester that whilst the manufacturers had protection, the agricul- 94 turists had none. There was a protection on cotton and woollens, and more on silk. Would the manufacturers agree that that protection should be taken off? [An Hon. MEMBER: Yes.] He should like to know whether that single "yes" meant the aggregate voice of all the manufacturers in the House; he rather believed it did not. They had enacted a law, and very properly, to admit wheat and flour free of duty. What was the consequence? They had imported 1,500,000 quarters of wheat and flour from France alone, and more than half of that was flour; and he knew of his own knowledge that not more than two months ago a cargo of flour arrived in the Liffey, which was not more than 14 days out of the French mill when it was landed on the quays of Dublin. He did not know what the effect of these importations had been upon the English millers; but he did know this, that the enormous amount of property embarked in the Irish mills was not worth a fourth part of what it was a few years ago. [Mr. SCULLY: Not a tenth.] His hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary said it was not a tenth. Now let him appeal to the eminent manufacturers on the other side of the House, and ask them, if their respective protecting duties were repealed, what effect that would have upon their cotton mills? He believed that the manufacturers of America and of France would send in such vast quantities of manufactured goods, that the manufacturers of this country would be swamped. ["Oh, oh!"] He understood the ironical cheer of that eminent manufacturer the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. M. J. O'Connell); but it seemed to him that there might be better authorities in the House than the hon. Member was. Let him now call the attention of Members to another and a very serious point. Let him draw their attention to the charges on the land. The hon. Member for Manchester had sneered at the Irish landlords, and said they were extravagant. Granted. But let it be remembered, in excuse of their extravagance, that they were guaranteed by Act of Parliament a monopoly of the English market, and they enjoyed that monopoly for upwards of twenty years; and they sent over to this country butter, bacon, corn, beef, and other articles of provision to the extent of 13,000,000l. sterling. But what was their position now? The French, the Americans, and almost every nation in Europe, supplied England with food on the same footing of 95 equality with the Irish; and if the Almighty should be pleased to bless Ireland with the same fertility which she formerly exhibited, it would require an increase in her surplus produce to the extent of 3,000,000l. sterling to give her the same sum which she received before. He bad made a calculation that the agriculturists of Ireland had made a sacrifice of 3,000,000l. per annum to benefit the manufacturers. What equivalent had they received? He defied the most ingenious manufacturer in Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, to produce any proof that would satisfy twelve honest men that free trade had conferred any benefit upon Ireland. He acknowledged that he had often voted for free trade, but not for free trade on one-sided reciprocity principles. He wanted the principle to be carried out. How had it been carried out in Ireland? They had given Ireland the benefit of a poor-law, for which some of his countrymen did not thank them. He believed, for his part, that it was intended kindly; but its effect had been to saddle the owners and occupiers of land with 2,000,000l. sterling for the support of the poor. Next, the land was compelled to pay grand-jury cess, which amounted to 1,300,000l. per annum, and which was expended in the support of gaols and lunatic asylums. The fundholder did not pay a penny of all this; he lived enclosed in his drawing-room, and the awful pressure never fell upon him. Then the tithes had been converted into a rentcharge, a measure which had had the effect of raising the value of tithes from less than ten years' purchase to twenty-four years' purchase, as they had made the Church the owner of the fee, and not the landlord. And after all this, the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) whoso opinions he (Mr. Reynolds) respected, told the agricultural interest that they wanted nothing. He believed, however, that the agricultural interest knew their own wants a great deal better than the hon. Member did. Let him not, however, be misunderstood. Manchester, and Leeds, and Huddersfield, and Birmingham could never be more prosperous than he wished them to be; but he did not wish to see them prosperous at the expense of other interests. Now, he had no doubt that they would be told to-morrow that the hon. Member for the city of Dublin voted with the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, as a charge had been brought against him and some of his countrymen that they had recorded their votes 96 for a similar Motion on the 14th of last month. It had been said of them, it was said broadly, "What an extraordinary set of fellows the Irish Liberal Members must be to do that!" [Vehement cheers.] He understood that cheer. There were twenty Irish Members of Liberal politics who recorded their votes in the minority on the Motion of the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries), while a certain number of his countrymen voted the other way; and some few of them had got tickets of leave in consequence. Some one or two of them who had got into disgrace with their constituents turned round and said, "Why, you would not ask us to vote for protection—to raise the price of food to the poor man?" Now that was not only a vindication of themselves, but it was an indirect censure upon those who took the other course, and therefore he complained of it. What happened? Meetings had been held in different localities—votes of censure had been passed upon some of the majority—[An Hon. MEMBER: Not all!] No, not all; but those Irish Members who betrayed the people were well known, and the Irish constituencies would only pardon their erring representatives, on could dition that they would "go, and sin no more." That was his explanation of the matter, and he hoped they would not be compelled to say more on that subject. But protection was the cry. He was not to be gulled by that cry. The delusion of Ireland with such cries was nearly at an end. Her people had been taught a lesson in the school of tribulation, and they would not for the future be led astray by the hacks of any Government; their eyes were fixed on the proceedings of that House, in which they took a deep interest. They looked at the votes and read the speeches of their representatives; and he was glad they did so; he hoped they would read his, and he would tell them that this was not a vote on protection, but it was a scramble for a division of the booty. It was a laudable attempt—and he thanked the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) for it—it was an attempt to arrest a portion of that money for the relief of the land. But he was told that this was a party vote—that it was a trial of strength between those who were out of office and those who were in office; and even at the risk of making a change, he was prepared to record his vote in favour of the Motion. He had entered the House a sincere and steadfast supporter of the noble Lord at 97 the head of the Government, and he wished he could still be able to afford him support, because he was free to confess that his (Mr. Reynolds's) political creed tallied more with that of the noble Lord than with that of any other leading Whig in. the House; and if the noble Lord had abode by his principles, which he could tell him he had not done, as he (Mr. Reynolds) abode by his—[Laughter]—yes, if the noble Lord had adhered to his principles as he had adhered to his, he should still have continued to vote with him. He was told that the vote of that night would decide the fate of the Ministry. He could not help it; he had brought himself to this conclusion, that it mattered little to his country what man held the helm of affairs, provided only that the Minister directed his attention to the improvement of the condition of the people—whether it was the noble Lord who occupied the Treasury bench, or whether it was the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham)—["Oh, oh!"] Well, he could assure the House he would not be guilty of the presumption of manufacturing a Prime Minister. He only put the matter hypothetically; but it mattered little to him whether it was the noble Lord, or the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, or that other noble Lord (Lord Stanley) whose name had of late become so notorious in connection with protection. He believed there was this spirit in the people of Ireland, that they looked to measures and not to men. They wanted to get the best possible thing done for Ireland that could be done, and they cared little who did it. They had got rid of a good deal of that sectarian and political feeling which formerly prevailed in the country, and he was happy to assure the House, both the Conservative as well as the Liberal Members, that however they might differ on religious and political questions, they were agreed on one point, and that was, to raise their country from the prostrate condition into which bad legislation had thrown her. He believed that the majority of the representatives of Ireland would to-night record their votes in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—[The O'GORMAN MAHON: No, no!] The hon. Member for Ennis cried "No;" but he apprehended that one "No" was not much among 105 Members. But let him remind that hon. Member that fifty-three Irish Members recorded their votes in favour of the Motion of the right hon. Member for Stam- 98 ford, while only twenty-three voted the other way; and if he might calculate on what was likely to occur from what had already occurred, he believed he should prove to be no bad prophet, in predicting that the mass of the Irish Members would record their votes, on the present occasion, however, against the Ministers. He would not detain the House longer, as they were evidently impatient for a division; but he would remind the Government that they were fast approaching the Easter recess. They (the Irish Members) would be returning to their own country, where they would have something both to say and to hear. If he were asked his opinion as to the manner in which Ireland had been treated during the Session by Her Majesty's Ministers, he deeply regretted that he would have to give them the worst possible character.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down need not have occupied so much of the time of the House in stating the reasons which induced him to vote in favour of the Motion; because, if he mistook not, only a few nights ago the hon. Member told them that whatever might be the occasion, and whatever the principle involved, he at least would vote against the Government. They knew why the hon. Gentleman was so disposed. All he could tell him was, that however much they regretted the loss of his support, the Government would do what they believed to be right, whatever might be the consequences. He would not attempt to deal with the principles of the hon. Gentleman—he would not attempt to reconcile his former votes with those which he had more recently given—nor would he attempt to reconcile his former opinions in favour of free trade with his present speech against all free trade. He was not going at that time of night to occupy the attention of the House at any length; he had so frequently declared his opinions on these questions, that it would be wrong for him now to obtrude himself upon their notice at any length. He would not follow the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire through the detail of all that had taken place since the beginning of the Session; and he would confine himself to a very few observations as to the purport and intent of his Motion. He confessed that, like his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, he was much puzzled with the Motion, and still more puzzled with the speech of the hon. Gentle- 99 man the Member for Buckinghamshire, who had, as on a previous occasion, suggested much, but proposed nothing—he advocated the proposition of the Government, and at the same time he took the most effective mode of defeating it. He admitted, that as the Motion originally stood as an Amendment on the plan of the Government, that there was some sense in it. If the hon. Gentleman's wish were to defeat the repeal of the window tax, that would be clear and intelligible; but in the course of his speech the hon. Gentleman declared that he was in favour of the proposition for the repeal of the window tax, and yet he took the most extraordinary course that could be conceived for advocating what was his opinion, as well as the opinion of the Government, by moving an Amendment upon their going into Committee in order to carry out that proposition. In the hon. Gentleman's own proposition there was little that was clear—little that was defined—little that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could understand. He talked of granting relief to the extent of 1,700,000l.—he talked of the relief of 150,000l. in the maintenance of pauper lunatics—he talked of relief from the maintenance of prisons—he proposed, in fact, four measures of relief; but, as far as he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) could make out, his fourth measure was only a part of the third. But he congratulated the hon. Gentleman in having gained the assistance of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), who had done for him what the hon. Gentleman was unable to do for himself, by extracting an intelligible budget out of his speech. The effect of the hon. Gentleman's Motion would be to defeat the proposition of the Government; for if he should carry his Amendment, the House would not go into Committee, and they would not have an opportunity of voting for the repeal of the window tax. So that if the hon. Gentleman was sincere in wishing to get rid of that tax, he ought not to have moved this Amendment on their proposition. But if his object was to defeat the Government proposition, the course pursued by him was reconcilable with Parliamentary usage, and the result might be the accomplishment of his wishes. The hon. Gentleman said, the proposition of the Government would give no relief to the agricultural interest. But did not country gentlemen live in houses containing windows? Did not tenant-farmers live in 100 houses containing windows? And would not they be relieved like the rest of the community from the burden of this obnoxious tax? Did they not use timber in the construction of their buildings, and would they not get relief, along with others, by the proposed alteration in the timber duty? Would they not share with their neighbours the reduction of the coffee duties? The hon. Member for Bucks said, that his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) proposals to repeal the duties upon foreign seeds, and to transfer a portion of the expense of pauper lunatic asylums to the Consolidated Fund, had been received in silence by the Opposition side of the House, and had excited no opposition. But the proposal to take off the duty upon foreign seeds had been opposed both by the hon. Member for Petersfield, and the hon. Member for Warwickshire. That duty upon foreign seeds was the single tax paid exclusively by the occupying tenant; but he could not persist in proposing its repeal, when that repeal was opposed by hon. Gentlemen professing to represent the agricultural interest. If the farmer should complain hereafter that he had to pay duty upon foreign seeds, let him remember that to the owners of land he owed it that this tax was not repealed. [Cheers.] Why, were not the hon. Member for Petersfield (Sir W. Jolliffe), and the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), owners of land; and was he not justified in saying that they were the parties who had prevented the repeal of this tax? His proposal to relieve the local rates of a portion of the expense of pauper lunatics was not a proposal exclusively for the relief of the agricultural interest, but was made because it was desirable for the sake of the parties themselves. But he gave to the agricultural interest, in the amended budget, and in respect to the repeal of the window tax, far more than he had originally proposed for their benefit in respect of the two articles now withdrawn; and it would not be difficult to prove that to the satisfaction of the most sceptical Gentleman opposite; for the amount of relief which would have been afforded under the proposition respecting lunatic asylums amounted to little more than a farthing in the pound; but had hon. Gentlemen opposite ever considered that, with the exception of the income tax, they paid more to the revenue in the shape of window tax than in any other single tax? This very day he had received a complaint from Edinburgh of 101 the inordinate relief to be given to the landed interest by the new budget. One of the great complaints against the change which he proposed was, that it did not press so much on country districts as on towns. He thought his proposition for taxing houses instead of windows was a fair one. The towns would gain much, but the country districts would gain more in proportion. Great relief would be afforded, and a just principle of taxation acted upon; and let it not be said, then, that the country districts would not get their fair share of the relief which the proposed measure would give to the country. He held in his hand a statement of the relief which would be afforded to eight counties in England. He had taken two counties containing the greatest amount of manufacturing population and houses, and six exclusively agricultural counties. The amount of relief given in Lancashire by the proposed house tax as compared with the window tax would not be quite one-half of the taxes now paid. The amount in Yorkshire would be one-half. The reduction in Hampshire amounted to two-thirds; in Bedford to three-fourths; in Essex three-fourths; and the same in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk. The relief afforded to the six agricultural counties, therefore—agricultural counties represented as suffering severe distress—was far greater in proportion than in the counties containing large town populations. The whole amount which he proposed to place on the Consolidated Fund in the case of pauper lunatic asylums for the United Kingdom was 150,000l. The six agricultural counties which he had named would obtain, in the remission of the window tax, no less than 70,000l., or nearly one-half of the relief he proposed to afford in respect of lunatic asylums to the whole United Kingdom. It was not fair, therefore, for the agriculturists to say that he had withheld much and given them little. It was true that he had withdrawn what he proposed to give in his financial statement; but in withdrawing that he had not been neglectful of the interests of the agriculturists; and if he had not made the change, he could not have placed the tax on a fair, and, he hoped, a permanent footing. The noble Lord the Member for Colchester (Lord J. Manners) said, the Government had paid no regard to the peasantry of the country. Now, the noble Lord knew perfectly well that the peasantry of England were never so well off as at 102 the present time. The noble Lord knew that the reduction in the price of food was infinitely greater than any reduction which had taken place in the price of wages. Wages had not been reduced since the war, to the extent of one-half anywhere; prices had. Would any Gentleman get up and say that he knew a single district in which wages had been reduced to the extent of one-third or one-half? [Mr. BOOKER: The iron districts of South Wales.] He was sorry to find there had been a depression in the iron trade, caused, no doubt, by the cessation of the extraordinary demand which once existed on account of railways; but he must beg leave to remind the hon. Member for Herefordshire that that had nothing to do with the case of the agricultural labourers. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had put into his mouth words and arguments which he certainly never had used with regard to the subject of rating. He had always said, he considered that the whole of the charges upon a farm and farm-house amounted in fact to a deduction from the rent; and he believed it to be very immaterial to the tenant, in the long run, what the amount of rates was, because they were a charge upon the landlord. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire had warned the House of the danger of rural demagogues; and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought no demagogues were more dangerous than those who told the tenantry of England that they could no longer pay their rents, and who urged them to mount their horses and march upon Manchester. Those were the persons whom he regarded as rural demagogues, and he lamented that any persons, whatever their station in life, should have used such language and given such advice. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) fully concurred in the eulogiums which had been passed upon the character of the tenant-farmers; and he was not afraid of their being represented or of their possessing seats in that House, for he placed the fullest reliance upon their good sense and straightforward conduct. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had told them that he would keep out of sight all questions of protection; but what was the language held by that hon. Gentleman to a deputation of farmers who waited upon him last year? He did not tell them that he had given up protection, but that it was not convenient to urge it in the House; and he told them he would press upon the House a reduction 103 of local taxation, because he hoped the Government would say, "We will not give you relief from local taxation, because we will not take away local superintendence; but we will get rid of all expectations of that kind by imposing a 5s. duty upon corn." That was the plan which had been advocated elsewhere by the party of which the hon. Gentleman was a distinguished ornament and leader; and it was impossible to avoid seeing that this was the pole-star of their policy, and that, however convenient it might be for them to suppress it for the moment, that was the object at which they were truly aiming. He would have been glad if, as a right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) had suggested, he could have obtained a larger amount of taxation upon house property which might have been applied to the reduction of duties on articles of consumption; but he did not think it would have been possible to have carried through the House a house tax so high as would have been necessary for that purpose. He had before stated that if he levied an amount of house tax equivalent to that of the window duties, he should have imposed a heavy tax upon all the principal streets in large towns. It had been said that he ought to have carried the tax lower; but he thought it most desirable that taxation should not be carried very low. Indeed the amount produced would be so small that it would not be worth while to do so. Complaints had been made that, even starting from houses of 20l., he brought into taxation from 25,000 to 30,000 houses which did not now pay window duty; and he must of course have brought a much greater number under taxation if he had carried the duty down to houses of 10l. a year. But what did the House suppose he would have gained by so doing? All he would have gained by imposing a house duty on such houses, on a value less than 20l. per annum, as now paid window tax, would have been about 40.000l. a year. He hoped the House would he satisfied that, under the circumstances, he could not have made a better arrangement than that which he now proposed. If hon. Gentlemen agreed with him in his proposal to repeal the window tax, they would vote against the proposal of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, because it was the first step that must be taken in order to carry into effect their wishes; if they were opposed to the removal of the window tax, then they would 104 vote for the hon. Gentleman's Resolution. But they must not delude themselves with the notion that they could agree with him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) in opinion, and with the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire in their votes.
§ MR. W. MILES
thought it extraordinary that, in his financial scheme, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have thrown overboard the distress of the owners and occupiers of land, and have asked them tamely to submit to this total neglect, when he admitted that they were the only persons in the country who were labouring under great distress. He was astonished at the course which the right hon. Gentleman had taken in throwing overboard the relief which he proposed in his first Budget to give to the agriculturists, namely, the removal of the tax on cloverseed, amounting to 30,000l., and the remission of rates for supporting the lunatics of the country, to the extent of about 100,000l. Both these remissions would have been a relief, however small, to the agriculturists. The right hon. Gentleman's first intention was to repeal the window tax, and impose a house tax; and his amended proposition merely went to an alteration in the mode of levying the tax. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that though the owners and occupiers of land were in a state of distress, the labouring population was prosperous. But he (Mr. Miles) would ask him whether that prosperity exhibited itself in the cheapness of the articles of beer, of tea, of coffee, and more particularly in regard to house rent? He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would find upon examination that his argument was full of fallacy. There could be no doubt that the agricultural interest were suffering deeply. The distress of the agriculturists had been acknowledged in the Speech from the Throne; and he thought that the proposition of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire was most just and reasonable. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) was brought forward merely as a stalking horse, to blind the public, but that its real object was to reimpose a duty upon corn. Now, all he (Mr. Miles) could say was, that in the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire he had not heard one single allusion to the reimposition of the tax upon corn. To what must the agriculturists be 105 driven at length, if, in their distress, that House refused every legitimate scheme for the remission of their burdens brought forward by those who represented their interests in Parliament? Nothing would be left to the agriculturists but again to try the sense of the House and the country, and endeavour to get back to that system which was conceived to be thoroughly exploded. He would ask them to look at what had been the state of the agricultural interest for the last few years. The loss which our landed interest had already suffered from imports, amounted to 10 per cent upon their income; and of the 300,000,000l. capital employed in the cultivation of the land, 100,000,000l. had been lost. The average price of wheat in 1848 was 50s. 6d., in 1850, it was 40s. 2d., being a difference of 10s. 4d. The average price of barley in 1848 was 31s. 6d., in 1850 it was 23s. 4d., being a difference of 8s. 2d. Why, even in the present year, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer first brought forward his Budget, the average price of wheat per quarter was 40s. 3d., but he found that the price during the last six weeks had been only 37s. 3d. So that now all hopes of a rise of prices seemed to be gone. The average value of the agricultural produce of this country was stated to be about 250,000,000l., and it was shown by the official returns that the value of agricultural imports and provisions during the last year was 14,338,080l. Hence it appeared that the foreign imports supplied about the seventeenth part of our whole consumption of provisions, and with such a state of things it was in vain to look for a rise of prices. Depend upon it, the discussions, such as they had had to-night, could not end there; for if they were determined not to do justice to the owners and occupiers of land, he trusted that a force still existed in the country which would wrest from them that justice which they would not concede. [Cries of "Divide!"] He would bow to the sense of the House, and would only say, in conclusion, that, entirely concurring with his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire in his endeavour to reduce taxation, he would give him his hearty support.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, who for several minutes attempted to obtain a hearing, but whose voice was drowned in vehement shouts of "Divide, divide!" said, that as the House seemed unwilling to hear him 106 that night, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I think, Sir, it is most desirable that the House should divide to-night. I trust, therefore, that in order to enable us to come to that division which cannot be very far off those hon. Gentlemen who wish to adduce some reasons for the vote which they are about to give, should be listened to by the House.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
begged to thank the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for interposing on his behalf, and he wished to state, in correction of what had been said by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he (Mr. Newdegate) had characterised the proposed remission of the duty on agricultural seeds, and the tranference of the cost of pauper lunatics to the Consolidated Fund, as very insignificant. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had proposed to remit taxation to the extent of 1,500,000l., and the amount of the proposed relief to the agriculturists was only 180,000l., or about one-eighth of the whole. He thought he was fully justified in characterising that as a very insignificant quantum of relief to the distressed agriculturists. What he had said with respect to agricultural seeds was, that it was vicious in principle, inasmuch as it relieved one branch of agriculture at the expense of another; that other being the south of England, which had already suffered most from free trade.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, he was anxious that there should be no misconstruction as to the vote, the conscientious vote, which he was prepared to give that night on the Motion before the House. Yet he was unwilling to detain the House at that late hour with any lengthy statement of his views and opinions, however desirous he might be of doing so if they were discussing any financial or commercial scheme with a view of introducing changes into the free-trade policy of 1846. He was one of the class comprised under the denomination "owners and occupiers of land," that class which was allowed on all hands to be suffering under great, unparalleled, and, he believed he could prove were it needed, unforeseen pressure. Considering that from that class there flowed to the labouring, industrious, and poorer orders benefits as important and enduring as from any other class in the country, or from all other 107 classes, as one of the country gentlemen of England whose interests were not antagonistic to those of the poor, but indissolubly united with them, so that the welfare and permanent prosperity of the one were indispensable to the well-being of the other—as such, belonging to that class, he felt that he, for one, could not give a silent vote on that occasion. It was too much the habit, and a dangerous habit it was, to call the agricultural interest a selfish and an egotistical class. He believed that that was very unfair towards them. He was simply desirous of stating that, although he was a free-trader and a landed proprietor, yet, nevertheless, he was desirous of giving his vote that evening in favour of a Motion which declared that if any alleviation of the burden of taxation was to be afforded, some attention should be paid to the owners and occupiers of land.
said, that having had above twenty years' experience of Parliamentary tactics he was old enough to know that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire was one of the usual means by which a party out of power, without the responsibility of office, sought to disturb the party in power; it was, as usual, cleverly worded, for the purpose of catching agricultural votes, and rendering those who opposed it odious in the eyes of the agricultural community, for even the original wording had actually been altered, to catch, he presumed, the votes of unwary Members. However vague in its terms, one thing was clear—notwithstanding the alteration—that those who voted for it were indirectly opposing the remission of the window duty. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to go into Committee on the window duties; this Amendment obstructed it. It was idle to suppose that by voting for a mere abstract resolution they were doing anything towards agricultural relief. He regretted to say that he believed the severe distress which the agriculturists were suffering was beyond the power of legislation to remedy; it was in a great degree to be attributed to the legislation of 1846, to which he had been no party; but now that they were so far advanced in the state of transition, he was certain that any attempt to reverse that policy would only aggravate difficulties. He suspected the Resolution meant something more than it professed. The language of many out of doors was, that 108 Ministers ought to be got rid of before they introduced a Bill to extend the franchise. An hon. Member, in addressing a meeting in the country, had said Ministers were to be defeated by the aid of the Roman Catholic Members. Now, let the Gentlemen of that persuasion hear what they might expect if they lent themselves to such a proceeding. He held in his hand the speech of a distinguished itinerant agitator, who stood so high in the confidence of those who dined at Merchant Tailors' Hall, that he had been present there the other day. Mr. G. E. Young, in his mission of agitation, visited the county of Oxford, and had thus addressed some of his (Lord Norreys') constituents:—Among other cheering circumstances, the most important and beneficial to the cause of protection which had occurred was the Papal aggression, and it would he curious to see the policy which Lord John Russell would pursue in reference to it. What said Mr. Cobden and Friend Bright on the subject? They were determined to support the Roman Catholic party, and would be antagonistic to the people of England; but, as free-traders, they were for free trade in religion as well as in politics. The free-trade party would be arrayed against Lord John Russell and the measures which the people of England were determined to carry into effect. Whether he would bear or forbear—whether he would dare to secede from his own published declaration, for the purpose of uniting the discordant elements of his Cabinet on this question, or not, was of little consequence—the people of England were sternly determined to have measures to repress the aggression of the Roman Catholic Church. A dissolution would in all probability be the result. Thus the work would be done for the Protectionists without their doing it themselves; for if they only returned a 'No-Popery,' it would be a Protectionist Parliament.Now, he (Lord Norreys) would ask what did this mean but that the cry for Protection was not strong enough by itself? They were therefore recommended to call to their aid the spirit of intolerance and persecution—to set the people of England against Ireland, and to sacrifice the great principles of civil and religious liberty. Such was the advice of a gentleman high in the confidence of the Protectionist party, in addressing the agricultural body among whom he was actively engaged in an agitation for the restoration of protection. In order that the party ends of a faction might be served, the flames of religious discord were to be lit up—rancorous animosity between Catholics and Protestants was to be cherished, and the great principles of civil and religious liberty were to be trampled under foot. The Protectionists hailed the Papal 109 aggression as a fortunate event, because they hoped it would throw into their own ranks the discontented Irish Members. He (Lord Norreys) altogether objected to the Amendment before the House, because he thought it was utterly useless for agricultural purposes; it was artfully worded, though vague in the extreme, aiming indirectly against the remission of the window duty, to the repeal of which tax a large minority had the other night, by their votes virtually proclaimed their hostility, and he objected to be a party to raising expectations for electioneering purposes among the agriculturists which he knew were doomed to be cruelly disappointed.
§ SIR W. JOLLIFFE
said, he could appeal to a Parliamentary experience nearly of equal standing with that of the noble Lord who had last addressed the House; and that experience warned him not to make a speech at that time of the night, even although it should be in answer to the noble Lord. He would merely say that he left the noble Lord to congratulate himself on the success on the other side of the House which had attended the reading of the extracts from the speech which he had quoted for the edification of hon. Members. But it was the conduct of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer alone which had compelled him (Sir W. Jolliffe) to rise in his place; and he must say, he had felt no small degree of surprise at seeing the right hon. Gentleman withdraw the boon which he had originally held out to the agricultural interest, because hon. Members on that side of the House had not received it in the tone which he had expected. The duty on seeds did not protect the agricultural interest; but it did protect the labourer in the southern and poor districts, by enabling him to maintain himself during the winter months. He should therefore regret if that duty were withdrawn. He had not said a word against the proposition to provide for pauper lunatics out of the Consolidated Fund. He regarded that as a boon yielded to the assertion of a principle, and he should he very happy to see it restored. He must, however, express his entire surprise that he or any other Member on that side the House could, on a great question, change the policy involved in the financial arrangements of a Whig Government.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
had never said a single syllable to induce hon. Members opposite to suppose that he attributed to them any change in 110 the financial arrangements of the country. What he did say was, that a few Members representing the agricultural interest, had opposed the proposition for a reduction of duty on seeds; and, to prove that he was justified in that assertion, he need only remind the House that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had that night utterly repudiated the proposed reduction.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
begged to inform the noble Lord (Lord Norreys) that, as a proprietor of land in the county of Oxford, he had had the honour of voting for him at the last election as the farmer's best friend; but he warned him that, if he stood forward at the next election, he should most assuredly oppose him. He could also assure him, that he need not trouble himself to seek the suffrages of his constituents any more. With regard to the Motion before the House, he feared at first that it might interfere with one of which he had given notice; but he would not permit any private feeling to prevent the exercise of his public duty, and he would cheerfully give it his support. As for the mass of persons opposite, he had no confidence in their political honour or consistency, and would therefore hold no communion with them.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I wish, Sir, to call the attention of the House to the delusion which I think is practised upon it, and upon a great part of the country, by the repeated Motions made upon this subject. This Motion, apparently the smallest of those of a similar nature that have been brought forward, merely proposes that, instead of going into Committee on the repeal of the window tax, "in any remission of taxation, due regard should be paid to the distressed condition of the owners and occupiers of land." Why, Sir, if, as the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire says, the window tax is to be repealed, and if he assents to my right hon. Friend's proposition on that subject, looking to the amount of the surplus, no special or effectual relief can be given out of the remainder of that surplus. But, taking the question as a general question, then I say, admitting what the hon. Gentleman alleges—admitting the importance and numbers of the landed interest—it is impossible to make any remission of taxation. You cannot remit duties upon windows, upon tea, upon soap, or upon any great article of taxation, without giving large relief at the same time to the owners and occupiers of 111 land. If that interest pays 5 per cent of local taxation, it is evident that the remission of taxation on any great article of consumption must effect an equivalent relief to them. Let not the landed interest look to any special legislation on their behalf—let them not look to any legislation to fix a particular price to corn, or specially to exempt them from taxation; but lot them look for relief, in common with the relief to other classes of the community, from a remission of that taxation; and if prosperity to the community is secured, depend upon it that great and important interest will prosper with the rest. But, Sir, that somewhat vague and unsatisfactory proposition can hardly be put forward to delay the going into Committee for a remission of taxation—hon. Gentlemen can hardly be prepared to substitute a general resolution instead of one giving practical relief. Here comes the delusion contained in all these Motions. The hon. Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. W. Miles) very truly observed that he heard no one say in the course of this debate—he certainly did not hear it from the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—that protection was involved in this Motion. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) says, that he believes the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire has no intention to restore protection at all. Well; but if that is the case, why is it, that, when the simple-minded yeomen and farmers who wish the restoration of protection go to the hon. Gentlemen and other leaders of that party, and ask why they are continually bringing forward Motions about local taxation, with respect to a particular class or special question—why they do not at once ask Parliament to give them that protection—their answer constantly is, although it is not the direct object of the Motion, it is the indirect object; and they would find, if the Motion was ever carried, although protection was not expressly involved, that the restoration of protection would follow from the success of that Motion. Here is the delusion practised upon the Members of the House of Commons, and upon those great classes of the country who still hope for a restoration of their welfare in the restoration of duties on corn. Both parties are deceived. Hon. Gentlemen say they do not mean protection, and afterwards they say they voted for protection. On the other hand, while every one knows, by the test on the Motion of the hon. Member for West Gloucestershire 112 (Mr. Grantley Berkeley), that a direct imposition of duties on the importation of corn would be, as it has been, rejected by a large majority, the divisions on these Motions are exhibited, and are considered by the country, as the test of the opinion of the House of Commons on the question of protection. I say hon. Members opposite would be dealing more fairly and more candidly with the great body of their countrymen if either they were to propose that Parliament should give relief by the remission of certain duties which they imagine affect the landed interest, and that then we should hear no more of protection—that great source for dissension should be for ever dried up; or if they said fairly, We stand boldly on the question of protection. If protection is restored, we succeed—if it is denied, we fail." Let it be a fair Motion, and not a delusive Motion, and, as becomes a great party in this country, let them put the issue fairly between us.
MR. M. J. O'CONNELL
would not follow the rule of action of the hon. Member for the city of Dublin, as he could not call it either policy or principle. The hon. Gentleman had, unblushingly, before an assembly of English Gentlemen—[Cheers]—yes, unblushingly said, that whatever was the course of the Government, whether he agreed with their principles, or whether he did not, he would vote against the Government. If there were any Members who were disposed to be seduced, not into agreement with the hon. Member for Dublin, but to give their vote on secondary considerations, he asked them what could they think after the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Oxfordshire (Lord Norreys)? He (Mr. O'Connell) was glad to meet the noble Lord in the lobby on the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill; and if his seat were endangered, it was not from protection, but from the Protestant cry which had been raised. He asked those Gentlemen to consider what the noble Lord had said. Nine out of ten of those who supported an honest resistance to what he believed was an undue measure of aggression on the part of the Government against religious liberty, were inclined to oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—they would not stultify themselves and be dragged through the mire with the hon. Gentleman opposite to favour the advance of any principle—they wore not prepared per fas et nefas to oppose the Government. And, more than that, they knew, if his country- 113 men did not know, as they ought to know if they had read the history of their country, that freedom of commerce and freedom of religion did operate one on the other; and if aggression was made upon the freedom of commerce, aggression would he made upon freedom of religion also. He was rather in doubt, in the early part of the evening, how he should vote to-night, but he owned he had been converted; his mind had been settled, and the speech of the hon. Member for the city of Dublin had settled it. That hon. Member began by declaring that he was a free-trader, and when he (Mr. O'Connell) interrupted him, because of the ignorance he displayed of all manufacturing statistics, the hon. Member supposed that he was an eminent manufacturer. The hon. Member had been thoroughly manufactured—he was formerly the raw material of a free-trader; but now he appeared as a fine-spun protectionist. He recommended his countrymen to value the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Oxfordshire. After listening to that speech he was confirmed in his intention of giving his vote against the Motion, which was intended to hoodwink the British public, and to excite expectations among the agricultural classes which must be disappointed.
§ MR. KEOGH
said, that he rose with great reluctance to address the House at that late period of the night, but he could not allow the hon. Member for Kerry to resume his seat, even at that period, at that time, without saying one word in reply to him. His hon. Friend had risen to read a lecture to the representatives for Ireland, and he had risen to road that particular description of lecture which was embodied in this—that a certain number of Members of this House were being dragged through the mire. Without the slightest hesitation, he (Mr. Keogh) would appeal to the House, and ask, whether it could be in the mouth of the hon. Gentleman opposite to talk of Members of this House being dragged through the mire? Well, the hon. Member for Kerry shrugged his shoulders at such an observation. He (Mr. Keogh) would not say the hon. Member was enjoying the pleasures of hope, but surely he might be permitted to enjoy the pleasures of memory; and their memory, according to hon. Gentlemen opposite, did not require them to go so far back as to pain their recollections, for he told them that he came down to the House that evening intending to vote one way, and then afterwards inclining to vote an- 114 other. [Mr. M. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!] He begged pardon; he found that he had made a very great mistake. The hon. Gentleman came down here with a saving doubt in his mind; and, although this identical question was discussed some six or seven weeks ago in substance, he might say in form, he must say the hon. Gentleman approached the House this evening with a doubt how he should vote. He took a broad perspective view of all parties. He looked to the Opposition, formidable in its strength, though, according to the notions of the hon. Gentleman, not formidable in its principles, for that only involved the suffering agricultural interest of Ireland. He took a view askance also at the Treasury benches. There, different aspects in which the hon. Gentleman had viewed the position of parties, could be easily reconciled, and his doubts could be easily solved. The hon. Gentleman who came down in doubt, was not only perfectly satisfied as to the vote which he was about to give, but he took a higher course—he took upon himself to lecture those who might not have come down in doubt at all, who, in fact, had come down perfectly satisfied in their minds of the propriety of the vote which they ought to give. He (Mr. Keogh) had heard something about hon. Gentlemen being prepared to vote black and white against the Government. It was rather too late at this period to go into that question; but he only intended to trouble the House with a single observation with respect to it. He thought that the hon. Member for Kerry was the last person from whom such a remark ought to have proceeded. The political history of the last few years was not confined solely to the knowledge of the hon. Gentleman opposite. This was said to be a question of free trade; and it was said that any person who attempted to vote in favour of the proposition of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire forfeited all connection with the great principles of free trade. Now, he (Mr. Keogh) must say one word on that subject. At the time when the great policy of free trade was being beneficially carried out by that distinguished statesman whose loss they all continued to deplore, there was then in opposition that party which now sat on the Treasury benches. There was at that time a course of policy pursued in the pacification of Ireland. That eminent statesman was in the zenith of his reputation, although, in the course which he was pur- 115 suing in carrying out the principles of free trade, he had endangered many old and attached political connexions. He (Mr. Keogh) would ask, did the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, and the hon. Gentlemen who sat with him on the Treasury benches—did they hesitate for a single moment to vote against that Minister, and to vote him out of power, merely because they thought that a question of civil liberty was involved in the maintenance of that Administration in power? Did they not vote him out of office on a measure which they themselves afterwards brought forward. Now, he would say one word about the vote which he intended to give. He intended to vote in favour of the proposition of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—a vote which, notwithstanding the insinuations and reclamations of one of the hon. Members for Kerry, for there was another Member for Kerry, and he would vote for the Motion—he was quite prepared to defend, and to defend on the broadest grounds of principle. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire only asserted that due attention ought to be paid to that interest which the Queen's Speech represented and lamented was a suffering interest. Why, then, should not the Irish Members support it, and what inconsistency was there in supporting a proposition which the Government announced in the Royal Speech, and maintaining the principles of free trade at the same time? He would not trespass on the attention of the House any longer, but would only declare that his vote would be as independent on the present occasion as his opinions on free trade were firm and sincere. But, as one anxious to discharge his duty to his country and to the House, he would not, looking at the terms of the Motion, refuse to give his support to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire.
§ SIR T. D. ACLAND
would not have intruded upon the notice of the House, had there not been a running party fire, from which he wished to withdraw himself. That party dispute had been introduced by the noble Lord the Member for Oxfordshire, and had, he regretted to say, received some countenance from both sides of the House. For his own part, he renounced any such incentives to Parliamentary action. After forty years' experience he felt bound to express his utter disapproval of acting or being influenced by any such motives. He would support the principles of the Motion, 116 but he would do so solely on its own merits. Since the repeal of the corn laws had been sanctioned by Parliament, he had never given any factious opposition to the policy of the Government. He had once stepped in on behalf of a deeply suffering and injured class, the miners of Cornwall; but he would never join in any factious opposition, nor approve of combinations of Members representing extreme opinions, for he knew that such junctions were not calculated to confer a lasting benefit on any cause in which they occurred. They had still a surplus legislation—[Laughter]—he meant a surplus revenue. The question was what they would do with it. For his own part he saw no reason why the surplus should not be applied, or at least partially applied, to an universally-admitted deeply-suffering interest. Once more he would say, and no further would trespass on the attention of the House, that union in principle and sentiment would impart political strength, and when that union pervaded the nation, the objects for which it was intended would be accomplished; but to all unnatural combinations of the extremes of parties he confessed his strong and well-considered aversion.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, that the hon. Member for the city of Dublin (Mr. Reynolds) had thrown out two challenges which he felt bound to meet. The hon. Gentleman had said that no Irish Member would get up in his place and state that free trade had done any good to Ireland. Now he (Mr. J. O'Connell) said it had done good. He asserted that but for free trade thousands and hundreds of thousands more would have perished of famine in Ireland within the last few years, and that the burden of the poor-rate would have been greatly augmented. Then, again, he had been threatened with the censure of his constituents if he were not to vote for that Motion. He should, however, abstain from taking any part in that division, as he had already done on a similar occasion. It was true that a majority of the corporation of Limerick, consisting mainly of Conservatives and Young Irelanders, had passed a vote of censure on the course he had formerly pursued; but without any retractation of opinion on his part, and even with a stronger declaration than before of his views, that vote of censure had been rescinded by a large majority of his constituents. If anything could induce a waverer to vote for the Motion, which he did not intend to do, it would be the speech 117 of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire.
§ MR. HENRY GRATTAN
said, he did not rise at that late hour to lecture his fellow-countrymen—he left that to others. He might advise—he certainly would not reprove—for such an invidious task he had not sufficient presumption. But what had fallen from the Member for Kerry was perfectly harmless, and would pass by the Irish Members as the idle wind that they regard not. As to what fell from the Member for Limerick, he must observe that Ireland had not been relieved as was represented, nor had the lives of the people been saved, as was imagined. The repeal of the corn law, and the fanciful term Free trade, had done no such thing. At the time of the distress there was plenty of provisions in Ireland, if they had been properly distributed. To say that the lives of the people had been saved by the course adopted by Government, was absurd. Upwards of 237,000 Irish had died in the poorhouses within these four years, as the returns showed, and nearly 300,000 had emigrated. The effect of the corn law was not to feed the Irish on bread, but to disable them from getting labour whereby to procure it—in fact, the Irish poor were not fed on wheaten bread, but on Indian meal. He (Mr. Grattan), had gone with the father of the Member for Limerick to the Lord Lieutenant (Lord Heytesbury), with a view to procure his aid to relieve the distress—not by sending for foreign corn abroad, but by keeping and using the corn we had at home, for we had then twice as much grain as would have fed the entire population. One of the Government returns stated that sixteen millions of quarters of grain were in Ireland. We wished to secure the corn, and stopped the breweries and distilleries; but the fact was, that other interests prevailed, and accordingly Ireland was sold to the London and Liverpool merchants. I cannot, then, praise any Government, or any law under which, in a country so circumstanced, the people were suffered to perish. With regard to the Member for Manchester, he shows that he is unacquainted with Irish affairs, and mistakes, if he thinks they are prosperous. The country is not only in a state of misery, but many say in a state of ruin. The farmers are broken, the gentry are beggared, and the people are flying; abatements made by the landlords are of no avail; they cannot induce the tenants to till their land, or adhere to their country. 118 The hon. Member said he knew of no abatement. I beg to say they have been made in cases I am acquainted with in the county of Monaghan, to the extent of 19 per cent, in Cavan to 20, in Wicklow to 20, in Longford to 25 per cent, and yet the best of the people abandon their land, leaving behind the poor, the aged and the infirm. Hence it is that I cannot support any law, or any system, or any Ministry, under which Ireland thus suffers. Hence it is, that I will vote for the Amendment of the Member for Buckinghamshire, as it favours the agricultural interest, and thereby the people of Ireland, for I cannot agree in a system by which the farmers are ruined, the lands are deserted, the gentry are beggared, and the people are banished.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 263; Noes 250: Majority 13.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, Sir T. N.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Childers, J. W.|
|Alcock, T.||Clay, J.|
|Anderson, A.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Clifford, H. M.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Cobden, R.|
|Ashley, Lord||Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Coke, hon. E. K.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Collins, W.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Copeland, Ald.|
|Bass, M. T.||Cowan, C.|
|Beckett, W.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Bell, J.||Craig, Sir W. G.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Crowder, R. B.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Currie, R|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Curteis, H. M.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Dalrymple, Capt.|
|Bernal, R;||Dashwood, Sir G. H.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Denison, E.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Denison, J. E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Divett, E.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Bright, J.||Douro, Marq. of|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Brotherton, J.||Duncan, G.|
|Brown, W.||Duncuft, J.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Busfeild, W.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Ellice, E.|
|Cardwell, E.||Ellis, J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Caulfield, J. M.||Enfield, Visct.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Estcourt, J. B. B.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Evans, J.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Evans, W.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Ewart, W.||Marshall, W.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Martin, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Martin, C. W.|
|Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. J. W.||Masterman, J.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Matheson, Col.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Forster, M.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Fortescue, C.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Moffatt, G.|
|Fox, W. J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Freestun, Col.||Morison, Sir W.|
|Geach, C.||Morris, D.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Mowatt, F.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Norreys, Lord|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Greenall, G.||O'Connell M. J.|
|Greene, T.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Ord, W.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Oswald, A.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Grey, R. W.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Palmer, R.|
|Hallyburton, Lord J. F.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Parker, J.|
|Harris, R.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Hastie, A.||Peel, F.|
|Hastie, A.||Perfect, R.|
|Hatchell, rt. hon. J.||Peto, S. M.|
|Hawes, B.||Pigott, F.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Pilkington, J.|
|Heald, J.||Pinney, W.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A.|
|Henry, A.||Price, Sir R.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Heywood, J.||Ricardo, O.|
|Heyworth, L.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hindley, C.||Rich, H.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Hodges, T. T.||Romilly, Col.|
|Hogg, Sir J. W.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Hollond, R.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Hume, J.||Salwey, Col.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Sandars, J.|
|Hutchins, E. J.||Scholefield, W.|
|Hutt, W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Jackson, W.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Seymour, Lord|
|Kershaw, J.||Shafto, R. D.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Langston, J. H.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lawley, hon. B. R.||Smith, M. T.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||Somers, J. P.|
|Loch, J.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Locke, J.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Loveden, P.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Stanton, W. H.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Strickland, Sir G.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Stuart, Lord J.||Walter, J.|
|Sutton, J. H. M.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Tenison, E. K.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Thicknesse, R. A.||Williams, J.|
|Thompson, Col.||Williams, W.|
|Thornely, T.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Tollemache, hon. F. J.||Wilson, J.|
|Towneley, J.||Wilson, M.|
|Townshend, Capt.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Traill, G.||Wood, W. P.|
|Tufnell, rt. hon. H.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Tynte, Col. C. J. K.||Wyld, J.|
|Verney, Sir H.||Wyvill, M.|
|Villiers, hon. C.||Young, Sir J.|
|Vivian, J. H.||TELLERS.|
|Wakley, T.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Wall, C. B.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Codrington, Sir W.|
|Anson, Visct.||Coles, H. B.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Arkwright, G.||Compton, H. C.|
|Bagge, W.||Corbally, M. E.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Cotton, hon. W. H. S.|
|Baldock, E. H||Cubitt, W.|
|Baldwin, C. B||Currie, H.|
|Bankes, G.||Damer, hon. Col.|
|Baring, T.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Deedes, W.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Devereux, J. T.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Dick, Q.|
|Bateson, T.||Disraeli, B.|
|Benbow, J.||Dod, J. W.|
|Bennett, P.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Berkeley, hon. G. F.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Duncombe, hon. O.|
|Best, J.||Dundas, G.|
|Blair, S.||Dunne, Col.|
|Blake, M. J.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Blakemore, R.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Edwards, H.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Egerton, Sir P.|
|Booker, T. W.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Bremridge, R.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Broadley, H.||Fagan, J.|
|Broadwood, H.||Farnham, E. B.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bruce, C. L. C.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Bruen, Col.||Floyer, J.|
|Buck, L. W.||Forbes, W.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Forester, hon. G. C. W.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Fox, S. W. L.|
|Bughley, Lord||Frewen, C. H.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Galwey, Visct.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Gilpin, Col.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Goddard. A. L.|
|Child, S.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Goold, W.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Clive, H. B.||Gore, W. O.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Grattan, H.||Neeld, J.|
|Greene, J.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Grogan, E.||Newport, Visct.|
|Guernsey, Lord||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Gwyn, H.||Nugent, Sir P.|
|Hale, R. B.||O'Brien, J.|
|Halford, Sir H.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Hall, Col.||O'Brien, Sir T.|
|Halsey, T. P.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Palmer, R.|
|Harris, hon. Capt.||Patten, J. W.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Henley, J. W.||Peel, Col.|
|Herries, rt. hon. J. C.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Portal, M.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Prime, R.|
|Hildyard. T. B. T.||Prinsep, H. T.|
|Hill, Lord E.||Pugh, D.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Reid, Col.|
|Hope, A.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Hornby, J.||Renton, J. C.|
|Hotham, Lord||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Hudson, G.||Reynolds, J.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Richards, R.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Rushout, Capt.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Sadleir, J.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Sandars, G.|
|Jones, Capt.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Keating, R.||Scully, F.|
|Keogh, W.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Kerrison, Sir E.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Knight, F. W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Knightley, Sir C.||Sidney, Ald.|
|Knox, Col.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Somerset, Capt.|
|Langton, W. H. P. G.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Lawless, hon. C.||Spooner, R.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Stafford, A.|
|Lennox, Lord A. G.||Stanford, J. F.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Stanley, E.|
|Lewisham, Visct.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Stuart, H.|
|Lockhart, W.||Stuart, J.|
|Long, W.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Lopes, Sir R.||Sullivan, M.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Macnaghten, Sir E.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Magan, W. H.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Maher, N. V.||Tollemache, J.|
|Meagher, T.||Townley, R. G.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Manners, Lord G.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|March, Earl of||Verner, Sir W.|
|Maunsell, T. P.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Meux, Sir H.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Villiers, hon. F. W. C.|
|Miles, W.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Monsell, W.||Waddington, D.|
|Moody, C. A.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Moore, G. H.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Morgan, O.||Welby, G. E.|
|Mullings, J. R.||West, F. R.|
|Mundy, W.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Naas, Lord||Wigram, L. T.|
|Napier, J.||Williams, T. P.|
|Neeld, J.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Wodehouse, E.||Wynn, H. W. W.|
|Worcester, Marq. of||Torke, hon. E. T.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Beresford, W.|
§ Main Question put and agreed to; Act considered in Committee.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report progres; to sit again on Monday next.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after Two o'clock, till Monday next.