HC Deb 24 July 1885 vol 299 cc1788-9

said, that in consequence of the satisfactory answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would not persevere in the Motion which stood upon the Paper in his name, and the terms of which were as follows:— That, in view of the continued, yearly-increasing, and ruinous depression of Agriculture, mainly owing to cheap imports of Foreign produce, considering also the stagnation of numerous other importan industries, caused partly by the inability of those depending on the land to purchase as formerly, and partly by the increasing volume of manufactured imports from Foreign Countries which refuse to reciprocate our practice of Free Trade, this House is of opinion that the time has arrived when Her Most Gracious Majesty should be prayed to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole subject, in order to provide a speedy remedy for this disastrous state of things. He only now desired to express a hope that the Commission would not consist of men of one way of thinking only, but of men of business as well as doctrinaires, who were pledged to particular views, and that its composition would be such as to command the confidence of the people of the country at large.


said, that what was generally desired was that due care should be taken that all sections of opinion were represented on the Commission. They had seen, from time to time, perhaps without any degree of authority, various names put forward as likely to compose the Commission, and, among others, a name which certainly he thought on both sides of the House carried very great weight upon any question—he meant the name of the late esteemed Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons—Lord Iddesleigh. Of course, in that name they had a guarantee for thorough impartiality in the discharge of the duties of President of a Royal Commission; and while it was well known that Lord Iddesleigh enter- tained strong opinions on these subjects, he (Mr. J. Lowther) had every confidence that Lord Iddesleigh would perform, the duties of President of the Commission with that strict impartiality which was indispensable. But, at the same time, it was of extreme importance that gentlemen should be placed on the Commission who were versed in commercial pursuits, though not necessarily deeply involved in politics. They should have men who would carry with them not only the confidence of the commercial but of the agricultural world. It was undoubtedly true that this inquiry would not embrace a distinct inquiry into the cause of the depression in agriculture itself: but, at the same time, the depression existing in the greatest and the oldest industry in the land must of necessity become an essential feature in any question as to the depression of trade generally. He should regret the presence of too many persons with preconceived opinions hostile to the holding of any inquiry whatever, or who had prematurely committed themselves to the idea that nothing substantial could be done for the agricultural interest. He was sorry to have seen that such utterances had been made by some of whom he had expected better things; and he could only hope that the inquiry would be full and comprehensive, and that a satisfactory result would be obtained by the country at large.