§ On the Motion that the House at its rising should adjourn to Monday,
§ MR. HUME
said, that although he did not leave the House on the previous evening until after half-past twelve o'clock, he saw to his great surprise by the Votes that after that late hour the Income Tax Bill was read a second time. Had he had the least idea that a Bill of so much consequence would have been brought on at that period of the night, although he had then been twelve hours within the walls of the House, he would have staid at any hazard to himself to have prevented it passing so important a stage. When Sir Robert Peel introduced the Income Tax in 1842, it would be recollected that he did not bring it forward merely for the sake of revenue, but in order to obtain a margin to effect salutary reforms in our fiscal system, including the removal of all prohibitions against the import of particular articles of consumption, and the reduction of taxation in many important points. His policy, as then stated 357 to the House, was completely successful, for while he relieved the consumer by the reduction of the duties upon many articles of the first necessity, the increased consumption had actually augmented the revenue. Now, the Income Tax had been continued since that period to enable successive Governments to carry out these free-trade principles; and he must object, therefore, to any further prolongation to the tax, unless Her Majesty's Government were prepared to remove the restrictions which still existed, and which obstructed the import of a number of articles. It appeared by a Return which he obtained last Session, that protective duties realising between 300,000l. and 400,000l. were still imposed on manufactured articles, and similar duties to the amount of 800,000l. upon productions of the soil. By another Return which he had obtained in the present Session it appeared that the import of thirty-six principal manufactured articles was fettered by protective duties, ranging from 10 to 25 per cent upon their value; and even in the case of some kinds of glass amounting to as much as 65 per cent. These thirty-six articles produced a revenue of 324,000l., while there was another list of no fewer than 212 articles producing 109,760l. Now, he thought that if we had free trade at all, we should have free trade in everything; and that therefore this measure should not be allowed to proceed further, unless the Government would give a pledge of their intention to advance in that policy for the sake of which this tax was first granted, and to carry out those further abolitions and reductions of protective duties, which would be of the greatest advantage to the whole community, and especially to the agriculturists, who would thus be placed on a footing of justice with respect to the other interests in the country. He thought the House should not continue the tax in a form which had been proved before the Committee upstairs to press so unequally, and consequently so unjustly, upon the people. He regretted that it was proposed by another measure before the House still further to increase that military expenditure, through the excessive amount of which an income tax was requisite at all.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the hon. Member for Montrose had blamed the Government for having introduced a Bill which the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had conclusively proved to be 358 necessary in order to prevent a deficiency. But the hon. Gentleman had founded his resistance to the measure upon another ground—namely, that the Income Tax was reimposed in 1845 for the purpose of enabling the then Government to alter and adjust the taxation of the country. He (Mr. Newdegate) would not say whether that policy had been advantageous or not; but this he would say, that the House had an engagement from the present Government that, in a future Parliament, they would also undertake the readjustment of taxation (which the hon. Member for Montrose himself admitted to be necessary), in order to do justice to the agricultural classes. He could not, therefore, understand how the hon. Member could think it inconsistent in the Government to continue the Income Tax, the more especially as the two Governments who had preceded them had both deemed its continuance necessary for the readjustment of taxation. So far from the agricultural body considering this course inconsistent on the part of the present Government, they regarded it as an earnest that their sufferings would be considered in a future Parliament, and as a guarantee that the Government would consider the claim of the agricultural as well as the other classes in the country. He begged to express to the Government his deep satisfaction at the steps they were taking to effect that readjustment of taxation, which it was admitted on all sides was requisite, and which had almost been ratified by a majority of the House last year. The discussion of questions like this, however, incidentally and without notice, was very inconvenient. Should the question be legitimately raised, he (Mr. Newdegate) should be prepared to go into it, and support those measures which he deemed essential for the relief of the agricultural interest as opposed to those which would have the support of the hon. Member for Montrose.
§ MR. J. L. RICARDO
said, he thought the Government were very apt to hurry through measures of great importance, and he fully agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) in thinking that the Income Tax Bill ought not to have been brought forward at Two o'clock that morning. He thought it the more important that that measure should not have been brought forward at that unseasonable hour, after the remarkable de- 359 claration which the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer made a few nights ago— a declaration altogether at variance with what he said in bringing forward his Budget, and which had created an idea in the minds of the public that it was the intention of Government, by some mysterious means or other, to shift some of the burdens of the landowners to the shoulders of the manufacturers. It was very possible that the right hon. Gentleman might not have any such intention; hut he thought the House had a right to ask him when or how it was that he intended to carry it out.
§ MR. WAKLEY
said, he also concurred with the hon. Member for Montrose in thinking that it was most unfair and highly improper to bring forward such a Bill as that on the property and income tax at two o'clock in the morning. He (Mr. Wakley) was in the House till one o'clock, and had not had the least idea that any important measure would be brought forward after that hour. To-night, again, there were a great number of Orders on the Paper; and it appeared as if the Government had resolved to act as if legislation were a kind of lottery, and to take their chance, night after night, of finding a subservient House. He thought that nothing could be more unworthy of an English Administration, be their politics what they might, than to smuggle Bills of great national importance through the Legislature at a period of the night when they knew that they were surrounded only by their own hangers-on. It was a most discreditable practice: nothing could be more reprehensible than to introduce important Bills surreptitiously, and at hours when full and fair discussion was out of the question. He would do the late Government the justice to say they had never done anything of the kind. [Cries of "Oh!"] No; they never had. But the worst feature in the whole affair was the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a speech which was at right angles with every statement he had made in that House when introducing the Budget. The right hon. Gentleman's speech on the Budget might have lured the public into the pleasing conviction that the Government were satisfied with the commercial legislation of the last few years, and did not intend to disturb it; but the speech of Thursday night conducted them to an exactly oppo- 360 site conclusion. He would take leave to inform the right hon. Gentleman, that the sentiments to which he gave utterance in that House in the debate on the Income Tax had awakened a feeling of profound astonishment and indignation out of doors. The majority of that House had supported the Income Tax, and had afforded unprecedented facilities to the Government for the transaction of public affairs, on the assumption that there was to be no change in the commercial policy of the country; and yet the other evening the right hon. Gentleman had the intrepidity to stand up and declare in his place that he was prepared to carry out in the Government the same principles that he had always advocated when in Opposition. Well, there was one principle which the right hon. Gentleman had often advocated, and which was of such paramount importance that all his other principles sank into the shade, almost into oblivion, in comparison—and that was the principle of Protection; that luckless phrase was now scarcely uttered on the other side of the House. He should not be surprised, indeed, if hon. Members opposite were to attempt to knock the word out of all the dictionaries and vocabularies in the language. The Government were playing fast and loose with the question; but they greatly deceived themselves if they supposed that they could succeed for any length of time in deluding the country. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) was deeply grateful to the Government for the steps they were taking with a view to the readjustment of taxation. Would the hon. Member have the kindness to state what those steps were? For the life of him he (Mr. Wakleyf could not perceive them. It was difficult to imagine anything more duplicious, or more contradictory, than the conduct of the Government from the day they first attained office to the present hour. What had become of protection? What had they done with it? Were these the same men who assembled not very long since at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, under the presidency of a noble Duke, when speeches were delivered in which allusion was made to the probability of the yeomanry forgetting their allegiance to the Queen in the event of protection being withdrawn? Were these the men who made speeches which, for inflammatory doctrine and for rebellious and revolutionary language, exceeded anything that he remem- 361 bered to have ever read or listened to in the whole course of his political experience? Anything more seditious—anything more revolutionary—he had never read or heard, and he did not hesitate to assert, that had such language been uttered by an unfortunate Chartist, the orator would have been transported, or, at all events, imprisoned. Talk, indeed, of the steps taken by the Government for the readjustment of taxation! What were they? Did the Government intend, or did they not, to impose a tax again on the food of the people? Lot them be candid. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer owed it to his own reputation, and, still more, to the well-being of the country, to stand up in his place and declare at once, in plain and bold language, becoming his genius and intelligence, what it was he meant to do. Of what avail was it to hang out a different banner every day—of what avail was it to make a free-trade speech one night, and a protection speech the next? Did they fancy that the English people had so little penetration that they would suffer themselves to be juggled and trifled with in that manner? Did they (the Government) fancy that they could send out a host of Conservative free-trade candidates at the next election, and that, having obtained a majority by that trick, they would find it possible to revert to protection in the next Parliament? Let them reveal their intentions at once like honest men, and let there be a fair stand-up fight between Protectionist and Free-trader on every hustings in England at the next election. At present the policy of the Government was matter of the wildest speculation—their intentions were shrouded in the profoundest mystery-—the light that was let in on them one evening was obscured the next, and the people knew nothing of their true position. He appealed to the Government in the name of common sense and common honesty to explain their real aim, and their actual object. If they meant to lay a tax on the food of the people, let them say so; if they had such an intention, and, nevertheless, abstained from avowing it, he did not hesitate to say that they were acting unfairly, deceptively, dishonestly. Surely they were not so shortsighted or so infatuated as to suppose that they were testifying their devotion to the cause of "the ruined agriculturists," by passing the odious and iniquitous Militia Bill, the only step they appear to be intent upon taking; a measure which would be regarded as an insult b France and 362 other Continental nations; and which would be productive of the greatest possible annoyance and vexation to our own people, and to no class of them more signally so than to those who were supposed to represent the agricultural interests. After thirty-seven years of uninterrupted peace, this preposterous Bill was introduced at a period of the profoundest tranquillity, and under circumstances which could only draw down upon us the ridicule and the hatred of surrounding countries. To the French people, in particular, it was a deliberate insult; and, so far as our own population was concerned, it was about the most wanton, the most useless, and the most absurd measure of which there was record in the annals of our Parliamentary history. In conclusion, he exhorted the Government to make an immediate declaration of their policy with respect to free trade.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he was of opinion that the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley) and those with whom he was associated, were pursuing a very inconsistent course in urging the Government to press on the public business with all possible expedition, at the same time that they were continually throwing obstacles in their way. He could easily understand the bitterness of the hon. Member, for those who complained without cause always complained without temper. The hon. Gentleman opposite had given the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) a horse to hold, and the noble Lord had mounted it and ridden away from them. He hoped the House would perceive the propriety of putting an end to this unprofitable discussion, and proceed with the Militia Bill without delay.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he was one of those who thought that as much public good resulted in that House from discussion as from legislation. Discussions succeeded occasionally in dispelling delusions; and one would perhaps be dispelled by the present discussion. As he thought, the Government was responsible to a serious extent for the maintenance of a deception calculated to inflict national injury. There were, indeed, two deceptions at present being practised by the party opposite. One hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) was answerable for one. The hon. Gentleman was going to move for a Committee to inquire into the management of Maynooth College. He was supported by a party anxious to 363 repeal the Maynooth grant. Now, if the hon. Member's Committee, being appointed, should ascertain that the college was conducted in the manner assumed when the grant was increased — that was to say, in a manner calculated to advance the Roman Catholic religion—then the hon. Member would, of course, have to allow that he had no case whatever for the repeal of the grant. If, however, the hon. Member should discover that the Protestant and not the Roman Catholic religion was the creed taught at Maynooth, then, obviously, the hon. Member would have a good case for asking Parliament to withdraw the grant. The hon. Member might be the dupe, and not the deceiver; but, at any rate, he was responsible before the country for an obvious deception. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had pursued a similar course, and was the author of another deception. It had served his purpose remarkably well; and it was perhaps doubtful whether he could get any more out of it, or whether he was now disposed to let down the ladder he had mounted by. But be (Mr. Bright) did not scruple to say that a Gentleman occupying the station of leader of the House of Commons could under no circumstances be justified in leaving a question of great public importance, not only not decided, but on one night in one position, on the next night in another position, at a time when he must be conscious from the effect produced by his own speeches in past times, and from the general tenour of the addresses of his supporters, that large classes in this country were impressed with a belief that their interests were bound up with the question, being elated with joy by the intimations of one day, and plunged into the depths of despair by the hints of the following day. He appealed to the hon. Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Miles), or to the hon. Member for North Essex (Sir J. Tyrell), whether the Budget speech of the right hon. Gentleman the other evening had not produced the most marked changes in their countenances? He had seen at one time a cloud come over the bright countenances of hon. Gentlemen opposite; and then, at another, after a speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was a most wonderful master of words, he had seen that cloud clear away, and the faces of those hon. Gentlemen again assume a sunny aspect, which was always to be seen when a favourite orator 364 was proving that the agricultural classes were hopelessly ruined. He did not know to what historical personage the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer could be compared. But there was one celebrated individual to whom he might be likened. Some years ago an interesting deputation from some North American Indians—whether Cherokees or Ojibbe-ways he did not remember—came over to this country. They had among them one man of great ability and great ingenuity. He acted for them as guide, counsellor, teacher, and interpreter, even prescribing for them, and this individual was called "the mystery man." Now, when he (Mr. Bright) looked at the countenances of the hon. Member for North Essex, the hon. Member for East Somersetshire, and many other hon. Members whom he could name on the opposite side of the House, and saw the change that had been made in them since the speech of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night, he must say the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to be "the mystery man" of the aboriginal party whom he saw on the Ministerial benches. He would just refer to one observation in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman last night. He (Mr. Bright) had no idea that so great a question as the second reading of the Income Tax Bill was to be brought on at so late an hour; but he must say if he had been in the House when it was brought on, he would not have offered any opposition to it, for he believed that there was no alternative but that the Income Tax must continue for another year. In the course of the discussion on that matter, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking of the possibilities of a dissolution, had said it was an event not only not remote, hut even imminent. It was to be regretted that this intention had not been mentioned a month or six weeks ago. But if the Government was going so soon to appeal to the country, then he (Mr. Bright) begged to ask why they were pressing this Militia Bill, on which they probably had no strong opinion, which they had very likely found in their offices, and which could only add to the unpopularity of a Government not already too strong? Why not postpone the Bill till October, November, or February, when most of them hoped to meet again? A great change had been made in the Bill last night; and he thought the expression he had used in regard to that change was a correct one—that they had 365 abandoned the emergency which they had previously alleged for hurrying on the Bill during the present Parliament. There was not a man among the Members of the Government who would say—nor would even the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), their great teacher in this matter, their saviour, as he might call the noble Lord—that the question of urgency was now pleaded. They had agreed to leave it to the next Parliament to decide whether the ballot was necessary. Why, then, not leave the whole Bill to the next Parliament? A very considerable minority in that House had protested against the Bill. That minority was backed by the largest constituencies represented in that House. He was not arguing that other constituencies were not as intelligent; but he simply stated the undeniable fact that the great constituencies, as represented in that House, were all opposed to the Bill. For instance, successive petitions, with altogether 30,000 signatures, had been presented from Manchester against the Bill, and as the project was to get 14,000 militiamen out of Lancashire, these petitions were entitled to deep attention. No hon. Member could say that his constituency had called on him to support the Bill; and he would remind the House that no hon. Member from the Government side had presented petitions in favour of the Bill. He therefore, then, appealed to the House to insist on a delay; and he made that appeal because the Government and the Government's supporters had utterly and completely failed in adducing any argument whatever to demonstrate the absolute necessity of the measure. If it was true that an election was imminent, if it was the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was thinking of going soon to the country on his general policy, then he (Mr. Bright) would beg of him, little as he desired to add to the popularity of Ministers, to withdraw the Militia Bill. He spoke to the right hon. Gentleman in the most friendly spirit; he addressed the party on grounds which the right hon. Gentleman would be well able to defend; and he was quite sure if they would take his advice they would do themselves great service, and at least gain the credit of being more judicious than the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. He (Mr. Bright) would have no objection to discuss a similar Bill in the next Parliament; and, in the next Parliament, farther removed 366 from an artificial panic, and from contingent party pledges, the House of Commons would doubtlessly come to an unimpassioned and sagacious conclusion.
said, he had no desire to prolong that discussion, but as he had been appealed to by the hon. Member for Manchester, he merely rose to state that whatever the hon. Member's interpretation of the mystery might be, his (Mr. Miles's) was very different; and he would assure the hon. Member that Gentlemen on his (Mr. Miles's) side of the House had the utmost confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers; and that whether protective duties might be brought forward in the next Parliament, or justice sought to be done in some other way to the agriculturists, Gentlemen on his side of the House felt certain that they would endeavour to carry out the principles which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer so nobly upheld while in opposition. The hon. Member for Manchester said that he spoke in the most friendly spirit. Perhaps he did: but his actions were not in keeping with his intentions; for all that he did was to impede and obstruct the business of the Government. He (Mr. Miles) could not make out what the present debate was about. The only result was to enable hon. Gentlemen opposite to stop business and make speeches. He hoped the Government was in earnest with this Militia Bill, and that they would continue to press it; and he thought if hon. Gentlemen opposite were really as impatient as they professed to be for a dissolution, they would discontinue their speeches and get on with the business of the House. The country could only be disgusted with the proceedings of those hon. Gentlemen.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, that having been so pointedly alluded to by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), it was his intention to say a few words upon the present occasion. The hon. Member had given him the alternative of either confessing himself a dupe or a deceiver. He supposed that these were Parliamentary expressions, or otherwise Mr. Speaker would have stopped him. Now what he (Mr. Spooner) had to say he hoped the hon. Member for Manchester would take in a friendly spirit. Considering the quarter from whence the attack came, the hon. Member was perfectly at liberty to call him dupe or deceiver, or whatsoever other epithet he pleased. Of this fact he might rest assured—he would not be his dupe to 367 be led into the anticipation of a debate which would come on in the ensuing week. He had endeavoured to avoid doing anything to interrupt the regular course of business of the House. He was indisposed to interfere with the winding-up of the business of Parliament by bringing forward anything that he could well avoid submitting to the consideration of the House. He would take care neither to be duped by the hon. Member, nor to follow his course as a deceiver in the way he mentioned. In regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), he did not know what it was that made him find fault with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for going on this morning with the Property Tax Bill, inasmuch as his (Mr. Spooner's) right hon. Friend, in bringing on his Budget, said it was his intention to continue the Property Tax as a necessary measure. If the hon. Member for Montrose did not accept it, why did he not get up and say so? Why did he not give notice on the subject, or express a hope that the Bill would not be discussed on Friday night? But because his (Mr. Spooner's) right hon. Friend took it as a matter of course that the measure was accepted, and under such impression had brought it on last night, the hon. Gentleman now finds fault with the course thus taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He hoped the House would at once proceed with the regular debate, and not continue this irregular discussion any longer.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) has just stated to the House that very often material good results from deliberation and discussion, and I think that sentiment has been fully illustrated on the present occasion. The hon. Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) says he believes fully that the Government will now be prepared to carry out those opinions and that policy in power, which they advocated in opposition. My own impression is that they will do so. When I heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in bringing forward his Budget, I was one of those who cheered that speech, and I did so not because I believed the right hon. Gentleman was going to give up the policy which he previously advocated, but because in that admirable and lucid speech he corroborated in the fullest and clearest manner 368 every proposition which we have brought forward, and every principle which we have advocated; and he did full justice to those who had brought forward and carried the proposition of free trade in this House. But I am rather surprised, I confess, that my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), and my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley), should believe that any man taking office, after having avowed the sentiments that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done, would, immediately after having crossed the floor of this House, give up all his former opinions and principles, and that merely for the sake of holding office. I received, a day or two ago, a document which would seem to show that it is almost beyond the present Government to give up protection. Will it be believed that a few days after the Earl of Derby was placed at the head of the Administration, a society—called a Society for the Protection of Native Industry, but which is a pro-corn-law league— met, with the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) in the chair, and that they opened that, their first meeting, by giving thanks to Almighty goodness—that is the expression—for having been pleased to restore Lord Derby to power, in order that the principles of protection might be carried out. [An Hon. MEMBER: Was there any archbishop present?] No; there was no archbishop present—it was left to my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire to say the prayer. The resolution agreed to was this—
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
rose to order. The statement of the hon. Baronet was perfectly incorrect. It was a gross misrepresentation to say that he had ever read any prayer on the occasion referred to. He thought it right not to allow any such statement to pass uncontradicted, and, therefore, he hoped the hon. Baronet would make the only reparation in his power by reading the resolution.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
That is just what I was going to do; and I will withdraw the word "prayer," and say it was a thanksgiving. I will read the document. "The National Society for the Protection of Industry and Capital throughout the British Empire." That is the heading:—At a meeting of the acting committee of the National Association for the Protection of Industry and Capital throughout the British Empire, held at the South Sea House, London, on Monday, 369 the 1st of March, C. N. Nowdegate, Esq., M.P., deputy chairman of the acting committee, in the chair, it was resolved—That this association, first humbly acknowledging the hand of Almighty Goodness, hails with fervent gratitude the advent to power of the Earl of Derby.The resolution is:—That it be recommended to the agricultural and every British interest to use every possible and legitimate influence in preparing"[that is in italics]"to secure the return, both for boroughs"[also in Italics]"and counties, of thorough supporters of Lord Derby's Government, and of the policy of which he has been the ablest and most distinguished exponent: and that the above resolution be transmitted to the Earl of Derby, and that copies of it be forwarded to the chairman of local societies, and be otherwise generally circulated throughout the kingdom.[Col. SIBTHORP: Hear, hear!] That appears to gratify the hon. and gallant Member; but let him hear what are the objects of this association. I will tell him, and I will tell him also who are its chief officers, and then I think I shall be able to show that it is utterly impossible for hon. Gentlemen who held this meeting immediately after Lord Derby had taken office, and who opened it with thanksgiving to God, to give up that protection which they advocated on this side of the House. I am speaking now for the consistency of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Now, what are the objects of this association? "The restoration and maintenance of protection." To give effect to this object—It is proposed to concentrate in the metropolis the vast but scattered power of individuals resident in all parts of the United Kingdom favourable to the principles of protection, to apply the power when centralised to disseminate sound information as to the questions of free trade and protection, and to oppose by every constitutional and legitimate means the organised efforts of freetraders.Why, you are bound to protection in consequence of that. You are bound by your principles, by your association, and by the opening of your meeting, to reimpose that protection which you advocated when in opposition on behalf of the people of this country. Now let us see who are the vice-presidents of this association. I will only give the names of those who hold offices in the Government. They arc as follow:—The Judge Advocate, the Secretary at War, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Prime Minister, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord Chamberlain, the President of the Board of Control, the Lord Steward, the Secre- 370 tary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the First Commissioner of Works. I will not follow the list through; but I may say it includes Lords and Gentlemen of Her Majesty's household. Therefore I say, with this list before us, with these principles enunciated, and with this meeting held the very first moment after Lord Derby took office, it is utterly impossible for hon. Gentlemen opposite to give up this principle which they formerly professed. I believe that good has come from this discussion, because when we go to a dissolution we shall be able to show we are now voting really against a Government who are obliged, by every point of honour, and by every principle on which men ought to hold dear either their political or private character, to lay a tax on the food of the people. ["No, no!"] It is very convenient to say "No, no;" but my belief is, giving you credit for honourable intentions, that you are bound to do so; and I believe, also, you will do so, if you can induce the people to allow it.
said, it was well known to the hon. Baronet and those who had cheered him that the gentlemen whose names he had read as being members of the association had been connected with the society for a great number of years. Many of those gentlemen had been connected with the association since 1846, when they were struggling for protective duties, and they have remained upon the society to this day, when—although they perhaps saw the impossibility of reviving those protective duties—they acknowledged the hardship to which the farmers were subjected; and there was not, therefore, anything very inconsistent in finding such names now upon the list. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to have discovered a wonderful mare's nest in the financial statement of the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night. They seemed to suppose that the right hon. Gentleman had recanted his former opinions. What did that financial statement amount to? To a statement of facts. The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the success of Sir Robert Peel's financial measures, and therefore it was concluded that he withdrew from his former position on the part of the agricultural interest, because that interest had been, as they always said they should be, hit hard. The inference hon. Gentlemen sought to deduce from it was simply ridiculous. The same 371 policy was adopted in the reduction of omnibus and steamboat fares. But it did not follow that because the watermen on the river admitted the success of the cheap steamers, that they ignored the existence of the injury they had themselves experienced by them. Just so with the agriculturists: their position was now strengthened, and they claimed that if there were certain burdens resting upon them in consideration of the privileges they before had, and the success of those experiments had removed them from their advantageous position, the burdens we had put upon them should be removed also.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he felt certain that the Members of the Government had too much sense to suppose that there were now any means by which relief could be given exclusively to the agricultural interest.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
would leave the country to judge of the conduct of the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall), and the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), in reference to the Government. Whatever might be the opinions of those hon. Members, they were a matter of perfect indifference to him. It was enough for him that the people out of doors were well aware of their gross misconduct. He had the honour to belong to the society to which the hon. Baronet the Member for Marylebone referred, but he did not belong to the Anti-Corn-Law League. The one carried on its business in an honest, straightforward manner; but the Anti-Corn-Law League had recourse to a low, dirty, sneaking, underhand, disgraceful mode of proceeding. He would tell the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester that it would do him more credit if he refrained altogether from addressing the House, for at present he was only interrupting the business.
§ Motion agreed to.