Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [13th April],
That the Agricultural Returns, now made annually, should, after this year, be discontinued, and collected every fifth year in the place of annually."—(Mr. Pell.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
✶ I regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) should have introduced this Motion, or that anything should have taken place in this House that might tend to embarrass the Government in the annual collection of agricultural statistics. I know the difficulties my friend Mr. Caird, when a Member of this House, encountered when he took this question in hand—how year after year he was opposed by the Government and Members on both sides of the House —and how, when he was successful, he prevailed only by getting a division adverse to the Government. Sir, the agricultural statistics have been collected only for three years, and the collection of them may be said to be but experimental yet; and no one can deny but that it has been auspiciously commenced, and that, in so far as the experiment has proceeded it has been successful. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that under the circumstances it is unfair to do anything to mar that experiment. All that I ask is to give it a fair trial. An objection made to the annual collection of 824 these statistics, as being useless, is that some corn dealers had never heard of them. But this is no evidence of the uselessness of the statistics; it is evidence of the ignorance of those dealers. I could scarcely have believed that there was any corn dealer or merchant in this country who had never heard of them if it had not been mentioned here. Do these dealers not read the newspapers? Another objection urged against the utility of the statistics by my hon. Friend is that some corn dealers to whom he had spoken had never made use of them. But this is only evidence of the folly of the dealers, who refuse to avail themselves of what would prove of advantage to them in their trade. I may set my experience of dealers and merchants in the corn trade against that of my hon. Friend's, and state that every merchant to whom I have spoken on the subject has expressed himself in favour of the annual collection of statistics, and his regret that anything should have been done here to imperil its continuance. And when the agricultural statistics were being collected in Scotland, about twelve years ago, the corn, cake, and manure merchants all showed the greatest anxiety to obtain the results of the inquiry. But another objection has been made to the value of the annual collection of these statistics by my hon. Friend the Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read), that a knowledge of the yield per acre being of far more importance in determining the produce of the land annually than a knowledge of the acreage, the annual return of the acreage is of little use. Now, I at once admit the full importance of obtaining a knowledge of the yield per acre. But I say, by all means obtain that knowledge in addition, but do not cease to get a knowledge of the acreage. There is nothing to prevent the acreage of the crops being published by the end of July; but you cannot get an accurate estimate of the yield per acre till about the end of October, after the farmers have begun to thrash out their crops. Now, there is one circumstance which I must mention here that distinguishes the ascertaining the yield per acre and the acreage; at the best the yield per acre, even though taken in October, is but an estimate, while the acreage published in July is a certain quantity, and it is always of advantage in making any estimate to have at least 825 one certain quantity upon which you may have your calculations. But my hon. Friend the Member for South-east Norfolk said that there were many important matters to be agreed on before agricultural Returns could be expected to be valuable. And amongst these he mentioned the yield per acre, the average quantity consumed by each individual in dear and cheap years, the time of the harvest, the consumption of grain by cattle in cheap years. Now, I may state that all these elements of the computation have been long known, and are now generally agreed on by statisticians and the large importers of grain. But my hon. Friend says that in dear years it is not taken into account that the poor consume more wheat than in cheap years. This depends upon various circumstances; it depends upon whether the people in those dear years are well-enough employed to give them wages to purchase an additional quantity, and it also depends upon whether cheaper substitutes cannot be got for the wheat, such as potatoes, rice, barley, or oats. Now, this consideration adduced by my hon. Friend is not new. It was brought prominently before the public in two lectures on "Our Daily Food.," delivered by Mr. Caird, which my hon. Friend heard. And I am inclined to agree with Mr. Caird that the high price of wheat has an effect in diminishing the use of it, though not to the extent that might be expected. My hon. Friends have both stated that the number of acres in the different crops is a comparatively constant quantity, or at all events varies so little in five years that it is easy to estimate in any one year the acreage of the different crops if the Returns were made every five years instead every year as at present. My hon. Friend the Member for South-east Norfolk adduced Scotland to prove his case. He said that the statistics of Scotland showed a gradual decline of cereals in that country. I shall show that the decline has not been gradual, and I shall supply some deficiencies in his speech about the Scotch statistics. And perhaps the House will permit me shortly to detail first the mode in which the agricultural statistics were collected in Scotland twelve years ago, as I was one of the enumerators who aided in the collection. A grant of money was entrusted to the Highland and Agricultural Society for the collec- 826 tion of these statistics. The able and indefatigable secretary of that society, the late Mr. Hall Maxwell, had the organizing and superintendence of the collection of the statistics, and the satisfactory manner in which he executed his duty may be judged of from the fact that only one-fifth per cent of the j schedules were not returned, or 100 out of 50,000 schedules were not returned. In the same year, that is, in 1855, an attempt was made to collect the statistics in eleven counties in England, and 7 per cent of the schedules were not returned. Scotland was divided into districts, and over each district was placed an enumerator. Each district was divided into parishes presided over by members of committee. The schedules, when filled up with the number of live stock and the number of acres in crop, were all returned directly to Mr. Hall Maxwell, and as soon as possible published. After a sufficient quantity of the crop had been thrashed to admit of a correct estimate of the yield per acre being made, meetings of the committees were held, at which the yield per acre and weight per bushel were determined, and the results forwarded to Mr. Maxwell. Sir, I shall now, as I promised, supply a deficiency in my hon. Friend's speech on Scotch statistics, which will disprove his case and prove mine. He has stated that it is easy to estimate the acreage in the different crops any year if the Returns are made once in five years. Now, let us take the returns in wheat as made in Scotland in the years 1855, 1856, and 1857. In 1855 there were 191,130 acres in wheat, and, in 1856, there were 263,328 acres, or there were 37 per cent more acres in wheat in 1856 than in 1855. There were no Returns in England in these two years to give us any idea of the average in wheat, but as the same causes existed in England as in Scotland for producing these results, we are warranted in supposing that there would be the same increase in the acreage in wheat in England as in Scotland in 1856. And as evidence of this we had a great diminution in the importation of wheat and flour in 1857, amounting to about 5,000,000 of cwts, even though the Russian ports were thrown open in 1857, after the war, while there was a corresponding increase in the quantity of barley and oats in the same year—thus showing the probable large reduction 827 which had taken place in the acreage by these two cereals. Again, in 1857, there was about 15 per cent less in wheat in Scotland than in 1856, and it is likely that there was the same difference in England. Now, Sir, is it not evident that instead of the annual change in the acreage of the crops being gradual, it is is rather variable? And would Mr. M'Culloch, or Mr. Caird, or my hon. Friends themselves, ever have estimated or guessed that there would be such a difference in the acreage of wheat of two successive years as 37 per cent and 15 per cent? Of what use would quinquennial Returns be in such years? They could do nothing but mislead. But we need not go back twelve years to see how variable the annual acreage of the crops is. Between crops 1867 and 1868 there was a difference in the quantity of wheat of about 280,000 acres, which is equal to more than a month's consumption, assuming the yield per acre and the quality of the grain to be the same. Thus also we find similar variations, though not to the same extent, in the acreage of crops in Ireland. If we take, for instance, the quinquennial period, between 1856 and 1861, we find that the average annual decrease in the acreage of wheat is about 6 per cent of the acreage in 1861, while the decrease in the year 1862 is fully 11 per cent, so that no one could have estimated correctly the acreage of wheat in 1862 from knowing the acreage every fifth year only. The result will be found to be as various in any other quinquennial period we may take. And hence we cannot depend upon any annual estimate of the acreage made from quinquennial Returns. If we want accuracy we must have annual Returns. My hon. Friend said that it was of more importance to us to know the yield of corn in France than the yield at home. If we admitted the importance of that knowledge we would put ourselves into a position of obtaining accurate informations of our own crops so as to enable us to avail ourselves of the annual statistical Returns made by the French. They show their appreciation of the importance of these annual Returns by sparing no trouble or expense in obtaining them. Sir, did time permit, I could have detailed the mode adopted by the French in collecting these statistics. I shall only mention here that there are two Returns made every 828 year—1st, one of the acreage of the different crops; and 2nd, one of the yield, weight of grain, &c. Besides these, there are weekly and sometimes daily reports of the state of the weather and the crops sent up to Paris from all parts of the country before harvest, so that the Government is always in a position to act upon this information in purchasing corn, if there is the prospect of a deficient harvest. It is instructive for us to know that in addition to the annual, much smaller Returns were made every five years, but these were, after a trial, discontinued, as they were found unnecessary and troublesome in the collection, and they are now collected every ten years when the Census of the people is taken. I have no hesitation in saying that if the statistics are collected every year in this country for some time, the filling up of the schedules would become very easy, I may say almost a habit with the farmers. But if they are to be collected only once in five years, the trouble and annoyance always felt at the commencement of a new operation would be experienced every fifth year when the farmers were called on to fill up the schedules. My hon. Friend could not have adduced a better example in favour of the annual collection of agricultural statistics than France, for it is well known that when there is a threatened deficiency in the crops, France has the earliest information, and sends forth commissioners to purchase wheat in the corn-growing countries, and she has even on several occasions purchased over our heads cargoes which were intended for us, who, from want of accurate information about our crops, did not know what we may require; and thus in a few weeks afterwards we have had to pay a much higher price for the food of our people. This is one of the uses of annual agricultural Returns to the public in general. I could mention more, but as I have already detained the House so long, I shall only allude shortly to the use of these Returns to farmers themselves. I am one of those who think that as a rule farmers should not be speculators, but there are occasions when, with correct agricultural Returns before them, they possessing the earliest and best information, would be quite justified in taking advantage of their position. How much money, for instance, the agricultural interest could have made if 829 they had disposed of their wheat some months ago, instead of keeping it on till now? There are facilities of doing this at present, which farmers did not possess some years ago. Again, what does a farmer do when he has a smaller acreage in grass or roots? He either reduces the number of his stock, or he purchases a larger quantity of cakes or other food; so, when the agricultural Returns show a reduction in the acreage of grass or roots over the whole country—and I have already shown that great variations do occur in the annual acreage—the cattle food merchants and farmers provide in time for the expected deficiency, and thus prevent dearth of cattle food, or an inordinate rise in the price of it, while the farmers lay their plans for bringing out their stock for sale at the most advantageous time. Again, the expense of collecting these statistics, varying from £12,000 to £20,000 annually, is adduced as an objection to them. Now, Sir, I shall not give my opinion on this objection, but I shall quote the opinion of Mr. Hubbard, whose absence from the House during debates of this class all must regret. Mr. Hubbard spoke as follows on this point in 1864:—As to whether the expense was £5 000, £15,000 or £50,000, the immense importance of these statistics could not be measured by any expense. In one season England had spent £20,000,000 in corn alone; and, in 1847, as largo a sum as £100,000 might have been saved by priority of information on a single day's transaction, when we had to compete with other nations in the markets of Europe and America."—[3 Hansard, clxxv. 1372.]Did I not know that my voice is powerless, I would raise it from this place in an appeal to the farmers of England to give all the assistance in their power to the Government in the collection of correct annual agricultural Returns. But I know the influence of my two hon. Friends with the farmers, whom they so worthily represent in this House, and I appeal to them to use that influence with their agricultural constituents to accomplish that object. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire stated that whatever exertions we may use in the collection of agricultural statistics, there was a Mightier Power who determined the ultimate results of the harvest. I cordially endorse the sentiment quoted by him—"Man proposes, but God disposes." And it is because I endorse that sentiment with all reverence that I con- 830 sider it my duty, as it is my interest, to use the faculties and talents with which I have been blessed, to use every exertion, to use the opportunities placed within my reach to attain an object, before I can with confidence leave the rest to be disposed of by a Mightier Power.
§ MR. ASSHETON
said, he thought it would be admitted that agricultural statistics, like all other statistics, were perfectly useless unless they were accurate; and, under the present system of collecting them in this country, they were so inaccurate as to be not only worthless, but delusive. He belonged to a part of the country which did not grow much corn, but which produced beef and mutton, and the Returns sent in during the last three years from that district were, he believed, delusive in the extreme for several different reasons. In the first place, he regretted to say that the farmers purposely and wilfully sent in wrong Returns. Having himself wanted to know what was the number of cattle in a given area with a view to organize a scheme of insurance, he asked the farmers to make a Return of how many cows, &c, they had, and some of them, although they were honest men, had put down the wrong number from a feeling which was quite foolish, because a landlord had a right to walk over their farms and could ascertain what stock they had for himself. Another grave error crept into the Returns from his part of the country in this way—The farmers were asked to state how many acres they had under wheat or oats, how much meadow land and pasturage, not including mountain and moor lands. But near his district there were large tracts of mountain and moor land on which many sheep and cattle were sent to graze, and those sheep and cattle were left out of the Return. Another source of error lay in the fact that although all over the country they had a statute acre they had also local acres varying from each other to a very great extent, in some cases the size of one being double that of another. How, then, was any reliance to be placed upon Returns collected by the Government under such conditions? Such being the evil, the question was how was it to be cured? The only way in which those statistics could be made really useful, either for Imperial or private purposes, was by having them collected from house to 831 house and from door to door, as they were collected in Scotland, and properly verified by the Government. He knew that in England people did not like the sort of espionnage by which officials went round to them and called upon them to state how many cattle, &c, they had; but he did not see why agricultural statistics should not be collected and published as accurately as the Returns we possessed of bales of cotton and other commodities. It was a question whether the country was prepared to incur the expense of collecting really trustworthy statistics of agriculture year by year. He himself doubted it; and he thought they were likely to get more accurate Returns if they obtained them every five years instead of every year. He should, therefore, support the Motion of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. PeU).
§ MR. M'LAGAN
observed that the statistics had been collected in Scotland by schedules, as at the present time they were collected in England.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he thought that this was a most important question, and that the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton) had thrown much light on it. It appeared, however, to him that, to be of advantage not only to the country but to the agriculturist himself, those Returns must be collected annually and not merely once in five years. Four objections had been taken by the agriculturists to those statistics. The first was that if they had made correct Returns of the quantities of land they had under different crops, the landlords would take advantage of them and raise their rents. That was a most absurd idea. It was manifest that if a landlord wanted to raise his rent he would not do it in that way. The landlord did not know what Return the tenant made, and, moreover, the landlord, if he chose, might go and see how the land was cultivated and what the number of stock on it was. The second objection was that those Returns would place in the hands of the Government an instrument by which they would put increased taxation on the farmer. He did not see exactly how the Government would be able to do that, even if they were so disposed; and he certainly did not believe that any Government, from whatever side of the House it was composed, would wish to take advantage of the 832 Return they had asked the farmer to furnish by placing extra fiscal burdens upon him. The third objection was the expense of the Returns; but if they were returned with accuracy the money spent in in their collection would be well laid out and need not be grudged. The fourth objection was a more serious one—that they were incorrect and useless. At present they were, perhaps, not as accurate as they should be; but practical and far-sighted agriculturists, who had at first opposed the collection of those statistics, now acknowledged that it would be greatly to their advantage if they could only know from year to year the breadth of land that was under different crops in this country, so as to guide them in their calculations as to its yield, and enable them to judge for themselves how much corn it would be necessary to import from abroad. In 1867, the number of acres under wheat was 3,640,000; and the number of quarters grown was 9,380,000. In 1868, there were under wheat 3,951,000 acres, and the quantity grown was 16,436,000 quarters. With such an increase as that in the latter year, it was surely of great advantage to the nation to know that it had that quantity of food in the country; and any intelligent farmer could have made his calculations on that basis if he believed it to be accurate. But supposing they had their Returns made out only once in five years, they would not know what variation occurred in the different crops from year to year. The Government gave the farmers very little trouble to make out the Returns, which, he thought, ought in future to include agricultural horses. If the Government would only put themselves in communication with the hon. Member for Southeast Norfolk (Mr. Read), the Chairman of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, with a view to drawing up of a plan for the amendment of those Returns, so as to make them really valuable, he believed the hon. Gentleman would afford them every information in his power. In conclusion, he hoped the Motion of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) would not be pressed to a division.
§ MR. BOWRING
gave a sketch of the various experiments made in the collection of agricultural statistics in former years, and said that they had proved satisfactory; what was now necessary was that the sending of those Returns 833 to the Government should be rendered compulsory. The objections to them at present entertained by the farmers were mainly founded on the fact that the Returns were not made compulsory; and he did not believe that the farmers of England generally would be opposed to the introduction of a Bill rendering their collection compulsory. He trusted that the Government would bring in a measure to that effect, similar to that which was before the House—but which was not proceeded with, although it passed the House of Lords without opposition—some few years ago. The proposal that those statistics should be collected only once every five years was most inadequate for the objects in view. The particular year in which the collection was made might be one of great abundance, or of great scarcity, and the result must necessarily be illusory. If that proposal were pressed to a division he hoped that the House would not accede to it.
§ MR. W. W. BEACH
said, the disfavour with which the collection of those Returns had been regarded by the agriculturists had, to a great extent, disappeared, and that class now said that such statistics, if accurately taken, were not opposed to, but rather conducive to, their own interest. A statement of the mere acreage under corn crops did not give an accurate idea of the amount of the harvest that would be realized; but he thought it was desirable that all the statistical information which the farmer could give should be correctly given; and he cordially joined in the expression of a hope that the agriculturists of this country would not refuse to take the trouble necessary to render the Returns as useful and as reliable as possible. He thought their annual collection was absolutely essential to the utility of the Returns; and he therefore concurred in the appeal which other hon. Gentlemen had made for the withdrawal of the Motion of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire.
said, the great value of those statistics to the agriculturist was illustrated by the fluctuation in the price of corn in the years 1846 and 1867. He maintained that they ought to be taken annually, for the acreage varied from year to year by the very large quantity of land improved by drainage, the reclamation of bogs and 834 waste lands, and acreage taken in by in-closure. He hoped the Returns would be rendered with increasing accuracy every year. They would be of great value to the consumer, and he believed that ultimately the farmers themselves would generally admit the benefits of the system.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the speeches just delivered had been most conclusive against the Motion of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). It was only five years since Mr. Caird succeeded in obtaining a victory over the Government of the day and getting these Returns. Since then only three annual collections had been made; and it was surprising how very accurate the Returns had been. In England alone out of 392,000 farmers all but 22,000 had given in their Returns. In Scotland—where the farmers were generally acknowledged to know their own interest better than in other parts of the country—the number who had declined to make Returns amounted only to one-half per cent. In England the percentage of those who declined varied greatly in different counties. In Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Northumberland, only 1 per cent declined; in Cumberland, only a half per cent; while, on the other hand, in Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, and some other counties, as many as from 30 to 37 per cent declined. He believed the fact to be that in these counties the large proprietors had taken a prejudice against these statistics, and advised the farmers not to fill up the Returns. In one county he was sorry to hear that a leading proprietor gave notice publicly that he would not allow the collector of the Returns to come upon his property. The refusals were, he believed, owing to the prejudice of the proprietors rather than to that of the farmers, because it was difficult to see how the interest of the farmers in the matter could be different in Hertfordshire from what it was in Cumberland. He thought there was no reason to believe but that in general the Returns made were accurate. Where the farmers refused to fill them up themselves, the collectors had instructions to get the information required as best they could in other ways; and, on comparing the information so obtained by the collectors with that contained in the Returns furnished by the farmers them- 835 selves, it was found that the results brought out were much about the same in both cases. There might be some few districts where, as stated by the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton), the farmers made wrong Returns; but he did not believe that was so generally. The general accuracy of the statistics might be relied on, and, at all events, for the purposes of comparison between one year and another, they were of great value. At present the circulars were sent out to the farmers about the middle of June. They were requested to return them on the 25th of June, but the aggregates were not published till the 25th of September. Now, he thought it might be possible to enhance the value of the Returns by bringing out the result of them at the end of July or the beginning of August, but this could only be done by the co-operation of the farmers in filling up the Returns as soon as possible, or by making them compulsory. After the speeches delivered in the course of this discussion he need not trouble the House with any arguments to show the value of these Returns both to the farmers and the consumers. If, indeed, anyone desired to form an estimate of their great value and importance, it would only be necessary for him to consult the Returns for last year, which showed that of land sown with wheat there was an excess of 300,000 acres over the previous year. The hon. Member for South-east Norfolk (Mr. Read) might perhaps allege that it was generally known among agriculturists that there was an excess; but it was clear that the most experienced men had not the least idea of its extent, because one of the highest authorities on agriculture had published a pamphlet, after the harvest and before the publication of the official Returns, in which he estimated the excess of land sown with wheat at only 100,000 acres. The excess of 300,000 acres of wheat meant an increased growth for the year of 1,200,000 quarters, and of the importance of ascertaining this fact as early as possible he could not exaggerate. It meant that we should be relieved from the necessity of importing that amount from abroad, and that shipping to a large extent would, not be wanted. The commercial arrangements connected with the supply of this quantity of wheat were, he need hardly point out, of a 836 most extensive character, and therefore the sooner the facts bearing upon it were ascertained the greater the economy for all concerned. Farmers also were greatly interested in this subject, for if there were an impression on the minds of speculators in grain that the proportion of corn being grown in this country was not so great as it was in reality, they made their arrangements in accordance with their belief, and ordered more corn from abroad than was necessary. In this statement he was borne out by a Petition which had been presented to that House by a number of gentlemen connected with Mark Lane, and consequently interested in the importation of wheat. They asserted that the want of such information in former years had led to great losses to the merchants, as well as to the agriculturists, by inducing large importations of foreign corn, when a smaller quantity was actually required to satisfy the wants of the country. He ventured to hope with the hon. Member for Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) that the small minority of the farmers of this country who now declined to supply these statistics would in future co-operate with the Government and the other farmers with a view to the earliest and most accurate ascertainment of the facts. To be of real utility the Returns must be made annually, for changes occurred year by year. The Return for last year showed an excess over the year preceding in the number of cattle amounting to 322,000 head, and in that of sheep amounting to 1,700,000; so that it appeared that the loss sustained by the cattle plague of two years before had been much more than replaced. The same Return also showed that there had been 48,000 more acres of oats sown, and 84,000 more acres of potatoes. As bearing upon prices, it was of the highest importance that these facts should be known, and he might express an opinion that the collection of Returns once in five years only would be quite worthless. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Motion would not be pressed to a division.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Pell) would withdraw his Motion. Some years ago, the Highland Society of Scotland undertook to collect agricultural statistics for that country, and local committees consisting of the most 837 intelligent farmers, were accordingly constituted in each district, and collected the statistics in such a way as to disarm all suspicion of inaccuracy. This, too, was done at a very trifling expense, as a proof of which he might mention that the whole cost of the collection of the statistics for Aberdeenshire was only £193. "We knew perfectly the amount of all articles of large consumption imported into this country, and the only articles as to which we were in darkness were those of our own agricultural productions; but he could not doubt that when English farmers were disabused of the idea that the Returns were intended to serve a sinister object, or to be extorted by an underhand process, they would be as ready to furnish them as those of Scotland were. It was of very great importance that Returns of agricultural produce should be made in this country; and, in his opinion, they ought to be given to the public by the 20th of July in every year at the latest; as for quinquennial Returns, he felt satisfied that they would be of no possible use.
§ MR. READ
on behalf of the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), who was absent from the House in consequence of a domestic affliction, said he should have great pleasure in withdrawing the Motion, as he felt sure that his hon. Friend would be content with having had this matter fully debated, and in all probability set at rest, at least, for some years to come. Replying to some of the arguments adduced in the course of the discussion, he pointed out that the objections directed against quinquennial Returns were equally applicable to the taking of the population Census once every ten years; and as an instance of some of the practical difficulties in the way of filling up the circulars, he mentioned that his stock were grazing upon six different properties, and at present he had not finally decided what he should sow on a portion of his own farm. It should also be borne in mind that it was the yield, and not the number of acres sown, which was the really important point. He believed the acreage of wheat would be much less this year than it was last year; that the acreage of barley would be somewhat larger than it was last year; that the acreage of peas and beans would be more than had been ever known; and 838 that of clover was very small indeed. If there were the same amount of wet cold weather in July and August as there had been in May and June we should, he believed, grow 100 days' consumption less of wheat this year than last; and under no possible circumstances could the deficiency be less than fifty days' consumption. The prejudices entertained by some farmers as to making the Returns had been caused to some extent by the action of the Government, and he might remark upon what was considered the childish apprehension among farmers that they might hereafter be called upon to pay a tax on horses used in agriculture; that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was so extremely fond of uniformity that he had made the costermonger's pony pay the same tax as the nobleman's carriage horse; and, if it had not been for the exertions of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, every brood mare in the country would certainly have been taxed. These statistics might be theoretically useful and interesting; but so far as any practical benefit to the farmer himself was concerned, they might put the whole of them in one's eye and see none the worse for it.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.