§ Lord Colchester
said:—Upon the question which comes now immediately before the House, namely, the second reading of these amendments, I wish to state briefly to your lordships, the reasons which will govern my vote, with respect to the bill itself, and with respect also to the course of our proceedings.
With respect to the bill itself, I object to its policy, and also to its leading provisions. I object to its policy, because it tends to impair the political independence of this country, by making it to rely materially upon a supply of its means of subsistence from foreign nations, whose hostility or caprice may, at any unexpected or unavoidable crisis, deprive us of that aid to which we shall have then accustomed ourselves to resort, and compel us to look about in vain for that support which we ought always to be provided with at home. I object to it also, because the direct tendency of this measure is, to depress our domestic agriculture, and, by so doing, to lower the home market, the most valuable of all markets, for the consumption of our manufactures—and this consequence must bring upon us finally two classes of impoverished population, the starving agricultural poor, as well as the starving ma- 1218 nufacturers. And, mainly, I object to the present measure, because, by lowering the price of grain in England, it will check the increasing growth of bread-corn in Ireland; which growth is highly valuable, not only as it takes so much English money over to Ireland, but doubly valuable, as an extension of tillage there may narrow the potatoe-cultivation, and, by enriching the Irish farmer, gradually introduce new comforts; and, by creating corresponding wants amongst an active and intelligent portion of our fellow-subjects, essentially contribute to render them more industrious, more prosperous, and more peaceable.
But, my lords, it is not to the policy alone of this bill that I object;—for I object also to its leading provisions; and principally to its prohibitory duties, and reciprocity enactments. As to the assumed adequacy of the remunerating price to the corn-grower, take your stand where you please, and perhaps I may think the amount assumed for wheat at 62s. per quarter, as somewhat too low; but having drawn your line, do what you profess to do, and prevent the admission of all foreign wheat below that mark. Deal plainly with the people of England. If you mean to protect them up to that mark, prohibit the importation of all below it. To say that you give them prohibitory duties for their protection, is giving them that which you cannot be sure will amount to protection; for the effect of these duties depends upon data which you know but imperfectly now and cannot control hereafter; for no man who has looked into the evidence taken before your committee, can venture rationally to predict what will be the amount in price or quantity of corn which will be grown in foreign countries, and flow in from the Baltic, the Black Sea, Egypt, or other parts of the world, when the market of England is thrown open; and every bushel of foreign corn, which shall be imported here under the mistaken effect of your prohibitory duties, will be exactly so much received in fraud of your own principle of protection.
Upon this point, as upon others, do expressly and directly what you say you are doing virtually and constructively. Deal plainly and sincerely with the people, and they will be satisfied; nothing less will or ought to content them. And therefore it is, that so far as the bonded corn is concerned, I hope the House will strenuously support the amendment proposed and 1219 carried by the noble duke near me; for it gives an express protection against that sort of importation and sudden influx and glut, which would be most dangerous to the home market and ruinous to the grower.
And then as to the reciprocity clause, it amounts to this; you say, you will admit a greater or lesser supply of foreign corn, upon a supposed case; but what is the case supposed? Is it that you stand more or less in need of that supply of corn? No.—But that you will depreciate the property of the corn-grower at home, in proportion as you can obtain favourable terms for the sale of your manufactures abroad; trafficking and bartering away the profits of the corn-growers to enrich the manufacturers; and, for the sake of obtaining a wider range of exportation, you set the corn-growers and the manufacturers at variance at home, teaching them to view their respective interests as practically adverse to each other, which, if well understood, must always be one and the same.
These are my objections to the policy and provisions of the bill. And now, my lords, I come to the course of our proceedings. I beg leave to contend that you should go strait forward, and deal with this bill as you would with any other; give it the gravest consideration in all its parts, and amend boldly what you think requires amendment. It is for such purposes that we sit here; and the people have a right to expect from us a careful, conscientious, and firm discharge of our duty. Let us make the bill as perfect as in our judgment it can be made, whatever be the nature of those amendments.
As to what are sometimes mysteriously called technical difficulties and dangers to the bill in another place, let us speak out, and understand each other fairly upon this matter.
That any material amendments in a bill of this description will not, and cannot, be agreed to by the House of Commons, no man acquainted with the law of parliament and its practical history can doubt. We may read it in the Journals of the lower House, we may read it in our own, which bear traces in every reign for the last hundred and fifty years, that the House of Commons never will agree, and they ought not, to any alteration by this House in matter of duties, however minute or remote the effect of our interference may be; their resolutions are explicit, and their claim to 1220 exclusive power in originating and qualifying the levy of duties is uniform.
We claim in this House the exclusive right of originating all bills for the restitution of honours, and restitution in blood. The Commons claim on their part from the earliest period, and more plainly by their famous resolution in the year 1678, "That all Bills for granting Supplies ought to begin with the Commons;—and that it is their undoubted and sole right to direct, limit, and appoint, in such Bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations, and qualifications of such grants, which ought not to be changed or altered by the House of Lords."—And what is this but a bill, intituled, "An Act to grant Duties" —and which, in every clause directs what the amount of duties shall be, and when, and by whom paid?
The amendments already made in this bill—those which have been made by common consent, and accepted by his majesty's ministers, as to the averages, which are changed from the average of one week to that of six weeks—as well as those amendments which have been contested and carried respecting the bonded corn—are all equally such as the House of Commons will refuse to us the power of making, inasmuch as they materially affect the rate of the duty to be levied.
What then is to be done? I say, the course of parliament also makes this clear. When the bill is sent down to the Commons, they will, of course, after reading our amendments, lay them aside, maintaining their own claim of exclusive right to touch duties.
But if they are desirous of profiting by the more matured deliberations of this House, and of taking the full benefit of that most important advantage in all popular legislation, the re-consideration of all matters by a second deliberative body, they will begin indeed by re-asserting their exclusive right to originate and frame all such bills, and then by incorporating the substance of our various amendments in a new bill, do, as they have done in numberless instances in successive periods of our history, repeatedly, wisely, and beneficially, for the state—send up to us their new bill for our adoption; and it is enough to point out for examples of such a proceeding in our own times, the resolutions for regulating the commercial intercourse with Ireland in 1785, and the West-India-Trade bill in 1806. Such a 1221 new bill, if it be not accordant in all points with their first design, they may nevertheless be disposed to present to us, as that which alone appears to be practicable and secure of being carried into successful operation. These, my lords, are the views which I have taken of this bill, and of the proceedings in which we are now engaged; and, according to these principles, my vote will be given upon each amendment which may be brought successively under our consideration.
The Report being received, their lordships proceeded to take the amendments into consideration. The amendment moved, on a former evening, by the duke of Wellington, and agreed to, viz. "Provided always, that no wheat which shall have been placed under bond to his Majesty, his heirs or successors, in any ships or warehouses, after the passing of the Act, shall be entered for home consumption from the ship or warehouse in which such wheat shall have been so placed under bond, so long as the average price of wheat, as settled by virtue of this Act, shall be less than 66s. per quarter," being read,
§ Viscount Goderich
said:—I feel it to be my duty to address a few observations to your lordships upon the subject of this clause. I am sure that my noble friend, who proposed it, will do me the justice to believe, that I would not call upon the House to reconsider its decision, if it were not the sincere conviction of my mind that the amendment of my noble friend is not calculated to produce the result which he anticipated; but that, on the contrary, it will have the opposite tendency. But before I proceed to state the grounds upon which I have come to the conclusion that such will be the practical effect of this clause, I hope I may be permitted to make a few remarks upon the misconception under which my noble friend has introduced this clause. I shall make them, in order that my right hon. friend, the President of the Board of Trade, and myself, may be set right in your lordships' opinion, as to the share we have had in giving rise to the misapprehension. At the time my noble friend introduced the clause, there were objections to it which were not expressed, perhaps not felt, by my right hon. friend; but, I can distinctly state to your lordships, on the part of my right hon. friend, that he never did intend to convey to my noble friend near me any acquiescence in 1222 the clause which has been proposed to you; and, more than that, my right hon. friend never saw the clause. My noble friend's supposition, that it had received his approbation, was founded upon certain expressions in a letter which he had received from my right hon. friend, and which, he conceived, warranted him in saying, that it had that right hon. gentleman's approval. My noble friend, on that occasion, read an extract from that letter. I will again read it; and, when your lordships have considered the terms in which it is couched, I think you will be struck with the conviction, that my right hon. friend never intended to convey such an opinion to my noble friend. This I can also state, from conversations which I have had with him, and from explanations which he has given my noble friend. The letter read by the noble duke was addressed to him by my right hon. friend, in consequence of his having received one, inclosing a clause, from the noble duke, wishing to know whether it met with my right hon. friend's approval. I do not think it necessary, at present, to enter into the grounds upon which that clause was objected to; but I wish to call your lordships' attention to the language of the letter, upon the misconception of which my noble friend thought himself justified in saying, that he had received the sanction of my right hon. friend to the clause which he, the other night, proposed. My right hon. friend begins by adverting to the technical objection. I do not mean to say, that this House has not a right to propose any amendment it may think fit; but it is also quite competent in the other House of Parliament, if its members thought it inconsistent with their privileges, to object to that amendment. The right of the other House to decide whether it shall or shall not acquiesce in any amendment proposed by your lordships is undoubted. A noble lord, who spoke a little while ago, ought to be aware that it is not a matter of course, as he seems to think, if the House of Commons object to an amendment proposed by your lordships, that it should be obliged to agree to it in another form. The House of Commons can, if it choose, bring in another bill, which shall include your lordships' amendment; but, then, it would discuss the prior question, as to whether it could agree to the principle of the amendment. It is impossible for me to 1223 say whether they would or would not content to this clause; but I really cannot see with what face I could advise them so adopt it, unless I were convinced of the advantage that would arise from the course. I think it but justice to my right hon. friend to read that part of his letter in which he states that difficulty. My right hon. friend thus writes:—"I should certainly be disposed to acquiesce in any reasonable concession which would conciliate some of those who object to the Corn-bill in the House of Lords, without risking the loss of the measure when sent back to our House. I cannot take upon myself to say, whether the proviso, which I return, would be open to this objection. On other grounds, I am afraid you would find great practical difficulties in the execution of the proposed measure." Here my right hon. friend tells my noble friend, not only that he thought his proposal had technical objections, but that, upon other grounds, it was likely to meet with great difficulties. That is surely not sanctioning the noble duke's clause. The letter goes on to offer further objections, and says— "Had your proposal been, that no corn bonded after the passing of the present bill should be allowed to be entered for home consumption till the average price had reached 66s.; and that, thenceforward, all corn so bonded, or thereafter imported, should come under the regulations of the bill, individually I should not object to such a proviso." I really cannot see in this any thing which would lead any one to suppose that my right hon. friend meant to sanction a perpetual restriction on bonded corn, till the price reached 66s. What he meant was, a pro hac vice restriction, applicable, at all times hereafter, to the corn now in bond, till the price reached 66s. That, at any rate, would be my interpretation of the sentence. The letter goes on, "Such a clause would ensure, that no quantity beyond that now in bond should be thrown upon the market, unless, in spite of that quantity, the price reached a level which might fairly be taken as an indication of our being in want of a further supply from abroad." This sentence, I think, clearly points out, that my right hon. friend must have contemplated nothing but a restriction pro hac vice, in order to allow the corn in bond to be got out of the way before the bill should come into operation. The noble duke, however, thought differ- 1224 ently. The letter again refers to the technical objection. "But," it continues, "I am afraid that even this amendment would prove fatal to the bill in our House." The case appears to me to be this:—My right hon. friend expresses his readiness to acquiesce, individually, in something (certainly not that clause proposed by my noble friend); and he did not think it fair to conceal from my noble friend, that even such an amendment as he mentioned would be fatal to the ultimate progress of the bill.—Perhaps your lordships will now permit me to call your attention to the share which I had in these matters. I never did, nor can I, understand my right hon. friend to mean any thing different from what I have just stated. It was on the Thursday before we went into the committee that I first heard of the intention of the noble duke to propose a clause, which had the sanction of my right hon. friend, the President of the Board of Trade. As I had never heard of this clause, or of my right hon. friend's approbation of it, I immediately applied to him for an explanation of what I had heard. I learnt from him, that it must have been a misconception, arising from something he had said in a communication he had had with the noble duke, referring to a proposal which he had forwarded him, and which he had thought he had succeeded in convincing the noble duke was inadmissible. I immediately concluded, that the rumour I had heard must have arisen from these circumstances, and paid no more attention to it. I afterwards discussed with my right hon. friend what amendment it would be possible to agree to; and he then explained to me the contents of the letter he had written to the noble duke; for he had preserved no copy of it, as he had sent it off at one o'clock in the morning, after coming from the House of Commons. We, upon that explanation, proceeded to see whether any clause could be framed with a pro hac vice restriction, such as was proposed the other night. After a full consideration, we found we could not, in consistency, consent to any thing but a temporary restriction, and that such a principle as that on which this clause is founded, that of permanent restriction, was not to be thought of. The bill then went into committee, and my noble friend communicated to me the letter he had received from my right hon. friend. I communi- 1225 cated to my noble friend, at the same time, that any reasonable amendment, which would not go to place a permanent restriction on warehousing, would not be objected to. I hope I have shown, that my right hon. friend could not, at one time, have expressed his readiness to concur in a measure, which he afterwards, for no reason, at abandoned; and that I did not take up objections of a fanciful nature, or in which I was not borne out by my right hon. friend himself.—I now endeavour to shew why the clause introduced by the noble duke will not have the effect anticipated from it by him, and those who supported it. I must again say, that it is, in my humble judgment, contrary to the principle on which the bill is founded. I do not mean to say, that that would of itself be a conclusive objection; because, if the clause were bad, consistency would be an additional motive for rejecting it. It is of some consequence, that I should shew that government is not inconsistent in opposing this clause, and that it is against the principle of the bill. My noble friend says, he had not seen the bill before it came to this House. How that can have happened, I do not know; as I am sure nothing prevented him seeing it before it was brought forward. When it was brought under the consideration of government, some clauses were discussed and rejected, whilst others were adopted. The reciprocity clause is one of those which were not originally in the bill; but it certainly was not inserted without the noble duke having an opportunity of seeing it. Nothing was done by any member of the government, which was not communicated to all. I beg to recall to the noble duke's recollection the resolutions on which the bill was founded. Those resolutions were, he must remember, discussed by us before the bill was presented to the House of Commons. I think, when I have read the first resolution, you will plainly see that this amendment, whether it be right or wrong, is a departure from the principle of the bill, which was laid down in those resolutions. The first resolution is—"That it is the opinion of this committee, that any sort of foreign corn, meal, or flour, now by law imported into the United Kingdom, may at all times be admissible, upon the payment of the duties following." Now, this clause of my noble friend places corn in this predicament—that the foreign corn bonded in this country should not be ad- 1226 mitted at all, till the price reached a certain height, which amounted, in a measure, to a prohibition. Now, the principle laid down in the resolution is, that there should be no prohibition. A noble earl, the other night, proposed to exclude from the bill the words, "at all times," conceiving it to have some portentous meaning, which I, not seeing, have not the same objection to. The amendment of the noble duke is intended to secure two purposes;—first, the warehousing system from being abused by the facility it gave to frauds in the averages; and secondly, to prevent those frauds from being mischievous, by causing a glut of foreign corn when there was no demand for it in this country. With regard to the first object, I am at a loss to conceive how corn in bond can have the slightest effect upon the averages, which are made by the sales of corn not in bond, for, although that passes from hand to hand, it yet remains in the warehouse, and does not come into the calculation of the averages. Besides, supposing it did, what would be the effect of that? The effect would be, to lower the price, raise the duty, and yet not make the supply a bit greater. That being the case, I cannot imagine how my noble friend thinks foreign corn would pour in upon us in such an overwhelming flow. If this clause was adopted, it would give the holder of corn in bond the strongest motives to exert himself to get it out of bond. I can easily imagine that, between the passing of this bill and any given time, a certain quantity of corn may be accumulated in the warehouses, say a million of quarters; and there it will remain till the price reaches 66s. What stronger inducement can be held out for the holders to release it? If this clause be carried, a door will be opened at once to the whole of the corn in the warehouses; and that, not because it would be wanted, but because an improper system had been adopted. Let my noble friend remember, too, that it would come in upon the payment of a duty of 10s. only, and thus effect all the evils he so much wishes to avoid. If this measure be passed, those who have corn locked up in warehouses will, as I have said, exert their uttermost to get it out; they will spend a part of their capital in buying up English corn, in order to influence the averages, and raise them to such a height as would liberate what they may have in bond. It is true, that they will do this at a loss; but it will be 1227 better for them to suffer a loss on a part of their capital, than to lose the whole of it.—But there is another view of this subject which should not be lost sight of. If this clause be passed, it will put an end to the warehousing system altogether [hear]. That certainly would be its effect; and, as my noble friend does not wish to put an end to that system, he must, in consistency, vote against his own clause. That such would be the effect, I think, must be evident. I will suppose that a foreign merchant, thinking he might safely warehouse corn in this country, had accordingly warehoused five hundred thousand quarters. At certain periods of the year it is likely that the markets will rise to 61s., 62s., and 63s., or any price approaching to 66s., but not reaching it. This would, of course, excite a stimulus among the foreign merchants on the other side of the water; who would take advantage of the demand to bring in their corn, and that long before the price shall have reached 66s.; thereby depriving their rivals, who were in bond in this country, of the advantage of the market. Would any body place himself in such limbo? Would not those who were already in bond rather export their corn to Antwerp, and bring it back before the prices reached 66s., and thus be on a par with those who before had had the advantage over them? No man would ever again be fool enough to lock up corn in a warehouse; whence he could not get it out till the price rose to a certain point? Would not the effect be, to annihilate the warehousing system, as far as corn was concerned? Yet, upon what great authorities was not this system established? We are not the innovators, who have introduced it. We have the authority of the noble duke himself in its favour—the support of antecedent laws—and the high approval of the earl of Liverpool; who, in 1791, urged to the king the importance of the system of bonding corn; for it was first established so far back as 1773, and enforced merely by the law of 1791. Nothing that I have hitherto said can, in the slightest degree, touch a very large class, who will be affected by this bill: I mean the consumers. But that is a delicate question, and your lordships must feel, that, much as we may wish to promote the agriculture of the country, we ought to reflect deeply upon the delicate question of the subsistence of the people. I think, therefore, we ought to pause before we consent 1228 to a measure, which would, in times of scarcity, have such a ruinous effect upon the mass of the population. I say, that those who think that the protection of agriculture depends upon putting an end to this system of warehousing are greatly mistaken in the practical effect which such a measure would have. A noble lord, the other night, expressed himself rather in terms of scorn and sarcasm, when I said that the warehousing system would, if chased from this country, be more firmly established on the other side of the water. The noble lord said, it would take as many ships to bring over suddenly the corn we should want, as it would to transport eighty thousand troops, with their baggage and artillery. I confess myself not sufficiently au fait at the details of what number of transports would be required to carry eighty thousand men; but what I stated was, that the corn being bonded abroad, they would, whenever they could get it admitted, send it into the ports of this country, without any reference as to the quantity we might require. If the corn were warehoused in this country, it would be drawn out gradually, as it might suit the views of those who held it, which would prevent the glut which must inevitably ensue from the other plan.—Another thing worthy of the gravest consideration is, that, if the corn be warehoused abroad, not one quarter of it will come to this country in British ships. It would all necessarily come in Dutch, Russian, or Danish, ships. The ship-owner abroad, who knows his own interest as well, if not better, than we do ours, would have the corn shipped for this country before we could have had time to send vessels to bring it. This is a circumstance which I adduce, as a strong additional reason for questioning the policy of any measure which would have the effects I have been describing. I am not aware, my lords, that I have any further observations to make on this subject, and I have, perhaps, to apologise, for having occupied your time so long. I have expressed myself with a good deal of earnestness, and why? because I felt strongly upon this subject, which has occasioned it to be told me that I have investigated it with the feelings of a partisan. I am not conscious of those feelings. When I first brought forward this question, I endeavoured to throw off the influence of every feeling but that of a desire to do what was just. If I believed this clause could pro- 1229 duce any but the most pernicious results—if it could be shewn to me that it would be attended with any advantage—no fear of being attacked for inconsistency should make me hesitate in agreeing to the proposition; but such, I am convinced, is not the fact, and I, therefore, feel it my duty to call upon your lordships to reject it.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that, being the person who had proposed the clause under consideration, and because of the allusions made to him by the noble lord who had just sat down, he felt it necessary to claim their lordships' attention for a short time. In so doing, however, he had no complaint to make of the manner in which these allusions had been made, nor was it his intention to enter into any verbal criticism, or to controvert the interpretation which the noble lord had put upon the letter of his right hon. friend; neither would he now defend the misconception under which he had proposed the clause. Adopting as he did and being responsible as he undoubtedly partly was for the resolution upon which this bill was founded, he was bound to say, that he received without distrust the explanation given by the noble lord of the intentions of his right hon. friend (Mr. Huskisson) as expressed in his letter. But, though he approved of the principle of the measure, still there appeared to him to be something objectionable in the mode in which that principle was to be brought into operation; and it was in order to supply that defect that he had proposed the clause in question. Allusion had been made by the noble lord to the first and last paragraphs in the letter of his right hon. friend. With respect to the subject referred to in those paragraphs of his right hon. friend's letter which had been alluded to, he felt it to be a delicate one, and therefore, he thought, in the committee, that it was a point upon which it was better not to enter into a discussion, and that it would not be proper to read to the House the letter of a member of the other House of Parliament upon a subject of that nature. But, as regarded the measure which he had introduced, he thought, if he understood his right hon. friend correctly, that, considering his great knowledge and experience on this subject, and the situation which he filled in his majesty's government, there could be no doubt as to the expediency of a measure recommended by him. When his noble 1230 friend said, upon seeing the letter, that it only referred to corn now in bond, he entreated his noble friend to read it again, and also to read over the clause which he intended to propose; and the result was, that when he did propose that clause, he did so under the firm belief that it had the approbation of both the noble lord opposite and of his right hon. friend. The subject, however, now came before the House for their lordships' approbation, and would, it appeared, be opposed by those with whom he had, as he supposed, acted in concert in bringing it forward. His object in proposing the clause had been to put a check on the warehousing system, and thereby prevent those frauds which were practised in taking the averages. It was an opinion generally entertained by persons acquainted with this subject, and by all those who had been examined upon it, that it was impossible to prevent those practices to which he alluded. Then what followed? A man committed a fraud in the averages, and having thereby raised the average to the amount on which he speculated, he came to the warehouses and got what he wanted, and thus effected his object through his own fraud. Upon that principle he was opposed to the warehousing system. The checking that system was the only way of putting a stop to the frauds upon the averages. But he had never intended that the clause should have the effect of extinguishing warehousing altogether; and still less did he intend that it should amount to a prohibition. He did not feel himself called upon to make any apology for having proposed the clause; which, as it was now shown to have been inconsistent with the policy of the bill itself, he did not feel warranted in pressing. But, though he was stopped from proposing this clause, he saw no reason why government should not adopt the suggestion, and make it a part of the bill in the other House. If the noble lord would give any pledge to that effect, he would withdraw this amendment altogether. He was quite convinced that something ought to be done to check the vices of the warehousing system. His noble friend had said, that this system had its origin in 1773. Now, he had no objection to restore it to what it was in 1791. His noble friend had alluded to the strong recommendation of the measure then by the earl of Liverpool; but let noble lords see upon what different base 1231 that and the present proposition stood. In 1791, corn was not allowed to be warehoused here but upon payment of a duty of 24s. up to a certain price, a middle duty to another price, and 2s. 6d. to a third price. Corn was then allowed to be taken out of the warehouse, not only upon payment of the 24s., the middle or low duty, but also upon payment of 2s. 6d. before it could be taken out of the warehouse. This continued to be the law from 1791 to 1814, when the duty was further raised. By allowing the duty to be collected upon corn in the usual way, the glut would be prevented. Having now gone through the bill, he had no intention of pressing his amendment, but he thought some measure of the same nature ought to be proposed by the government, and, if some pledge was given of a return to the principle of the bill of 1791, he was willing to withdraw it.
said, that the provisions of this clause were so completely at variance with the resolutions on which the bill had been founded, and the principles on which it rested, that he was surprised the committee should have adopted it. Were it not for the quarter from which the measure had proceeded, he should have thought it was intended as an indirect mode of getting rid of the bill. But the noble duke said, he had been actuated by no such motive, and that he was responsible for the principle of the bill, although not for the bill itself. Now, he confessed that this somewhat scholastic distinction was rather too nice for his apprehension. As a legislator, he was too much of a plain, downright materialist, to enter into the notion of separating the measure from the principle. He was not sufficiently Platonic in his ideas to separate the soul from the body of the bill. It reminded him of some verses which he had read, in a dialogue between a soul and a body:These distinctions so nice can be scarce understood;Those who wish to divide us can mean us no good.So, it appeared, the noble duke, and others, who so affectionately dandled this bill in its infancy, and rocked it in the cradle, were now, in the excess of their fondness, determined to cram their child with caudle, in a way that would hurry it to a premature death. How must the noble duke have been startled, after he proposed the 1232 clause, when he saw that clause approved by the learned lord who had, from the outset, faced the bill with the most open and warlike opposition, on the ground that it contained the seeds of those principles of free trade, the adoption of which that noble lord denounced as a revolution, not less dangerous than that by which the bishops were excluded from their lordships' House. Nor could the noble duke's apprehensions have been at all allayed, when he perceived his clause commended by the noble lord in the green ribbon (Lauderdale), who had opposed the bill as a measure, the adoption of which would have the effect of laying England at the feet of the rest of the world. And, if this was not enough to make the noble duke suspect the tendency of his clause, surely he must have been convinced of its inconsistency with the principle of the bill, when he heard the shout of exultation which the success of the clause elicited from those who were known to entertain the most decided hostility to the bill. He expected, when the noble duke observed these indications, that he would this night have withdrawn his clause, instead of persisting in it. But the clause of the noble duke was quite inconsistent with the resolutions on which the bill was founded. What was the main import of them? Why, that corn, imported into the kingdom, should be admissible into the market, at all times, for home use, &c. But what said the noble duke's amendment? That corn deposited in warehouses should not be admissible until the market price should have risen to 66s. Could any thing be at greater variance with those resolutions? And, if it was at variance with the resolutions, it was directly subversive also of the principle of the bill. What was that principle? The substitution of protection by duty for prohibition. Now, pro tanto, what was the amendment of the noble duke? Why, to bring back the system of prohibition as to the warehoused corn; and therefore it was, pro tanto, subversive of the principle of the general measure. He did say, therefore, that their lordships ought to reject this clause, as being thus inconsistent with the rest of the bill. Let their lordships see what would be the effect of this amendment. The noble duke said, he was a friend of the warehousing system; but the effect of the clause proposed by him would be to do one or other of two things, either to destroy the system of ware- 1233 housing altogether, or to perpetuate those very evils which it was intended to prevent. Whichever way it operated, it would be extremely pernicious—whether it did away with the warehousing system altogether, or increased the facilities for those practices which the noble duke professed it to be his object to check. With respect to doing away with the warehousing system altogether, he thought it would be unjust, impolitic, and disingenuous. He was told that it checked speculation; but he confessed that that conveyed to his mind either nothing, or that which was worse than nothing, the old exploded notion of speculation in the food of man being a great crime. He denied that it was an unfair speculation to hoard corn, either in a warehouse or in a farm-yard. Formerly, a great outcry was raised against those who were called regraters and forestallers; but, fortunately for the country, speculation made these men do more for the community than ten houses of parliament could effect. What was the effect of their speculation? They became stewards for the public; and, when times of scarcity came, and there were no means of inducing people to send food here from abroad, the evil was provided for, by their having hoarded up a supply in times of plenty, to meet the wants of the public, at a period when, but for them, there might have been no possible means of supplying them. He therefore insisted, that it was great impolicy to oppose this system. There was an objection to this bill which had been frequently urged; namely, that it rendered us independent on foreign countries for a supply of food. But, would not that effect be greatly aggravated by destroying the warehousing system? For then we should be compelled to draw our supply of corn, in time of need, from magazines lying on the opposite coast, instead of our own; so that we should be thus completely at their mercy. At present, it being clear that no foreign country could interfere with our maritime superiority, except for a short time, we should find a sufficient supply of corn in bond for that short time, and thus be enabled to meet the only difficulty which might otherwise arise.—The noble lord next contended, that this mode of destroying the warehousing system by a side wind, was disingenuous and impolitic; inasmuch as it was calculated to mislead the foreign merchant, who would not be pre- 1234 pared for the situation in which he would be placed upon sending his corn here. The only manly way would be to say at once, the system should be put down, and no warehousing allowed at all.—There was another objection, which he wondered had been overlooked by those who were so jealous of the shipping system; for, by only admitting foreign corn into the market, to the exclusion of bonded corn, their lordships in effect granted a premium upon foreign shipping. But the noble duke said, they would come and warehouse, in spite of the advantage against which they would have to contend. Well, supposing they did, what would be the effect? Why, by increasing the prohibition on the corn so warehoused, they would produce an unnatural glut of the market, which would be attended with those injurious consequences against which they were most anxious to guard. A gradual supply in the market was the remedy against sudden gluts; while the noble duke's proviso was calculated to produce them. It was clearly in opposition to the principle of the bill, which was to do away with prohibition, and substitute decreasing and increasing protecting duties in its stead. For these reasons, he thought it would be most imprudent to adopt this proviso. He was aware how little knowledge he possessed on these points, for he never, by chance, read a book on political economy; but his common sense told him, that the present bill was infinitely better than all that had gone before it. Should times of scarcity come, he did not believe any government would be strong enough to pass such a bill as this. Noble lords might be assured that, if they lost the present bill, they never would be able to carry such another.